Friday, August 29, 2014

A Sad, Conflicted Mama

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It's nearly 2am and I just got up off my toddler's floor with hot tears running down my face. She's fine, there is nothing wrong with her. Schultz the dog is also fine, too... he had both eyes removed and is recovering beautifully and seems much happier.

Me on the other hand...

I have never in my life felt so conflicted. I love Baby D with every ounce I've got, and then some (though the Hubs would inform me that is not actually possible, much like giving 110%). The days with an extremely active toddler are funny, exhausting, amazing at times, lonely, and also exhausting. Did I mention exhausting? Oh, and sometimes I am also tired. Enough to fall asleep on the toilet once she's gone to bed.

I love her. She comes first. I have pretty severe anxiety, and I can't tolerate her crying. And I KNOW her cries. I KNOW my baby, and I know when she needs me or if things aren't right. I know my family thinks I overreact to this, or go to an extreme, but they don't live in my mind, they can't feel what is in my heart, or the terrible sirens that go off in my head when she is upset.

I need to tend to her when she is sad, because until she has language, that is the ONLY real way for her to clearly and effectively communicate that something is wrong. She is not a little whiny bitch. She hasn't run into a flooring surface that she hasn't enjoyed face-planting into during her regular sprints through the world. She has bonked her head, face, legs, hands on any and all hard surfaces, but she will only cry if it really, really smarts. Or if she is quite tired.

And you know what? If she is that tired, I should have already been on it. I know her schedule, and her general sleep needs. I see the signs when she needs rest. Sometimes my family will suggest that her staying awake is good for her. It isn't. She's a babe, I know how she rolls, I know her. She needs her sleep.

I know people make suggestions with good intent, but when I know how she operates, how she ticks, and what will ultimately make her a sad or angry baby, I'm obviously going to do what I know is best for her. Situations do come up. I know routine can't always be in place. Yes, some flexibility is a good thing... but she is only a toddler. She can't say "Hey, Mom, what the f_ck, I am sooo tired, why aren't you letting me sleep?".  It's only when it becomes "Whhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaahhhhh!" that the message is delivered loud and clear if I haven't given her what she needs. I mean, she has no control over that stuff.

Pigtails = Instant Heart Meltification

I feel like my job as a good, conscientious parent is to know her, anticipate her needs, provide her with what she needs BEFORE she gets upset, and put her needs above all else. And I'm okay with that. I don't think a lot of other people are. But they aren't me, they aren't living my life, they don't feel the heart-wrenching anxiety that I do. And so they judge. And it hurts.

I am Mama Bear. Hear me roar. Or growl. (I don't know, what sound does a bear make?) Grunt?

Then, when babe is asleep, and the world is quiet, and I am shocked that we got through the day... when I am sitting on the couch, or trying to just stay awake long enough to get to my own reasonable bed time... I wonder just HOW.THE.F_CK I am going to do it all again tomorrow.

How can I keep her happy? How can I allow her to thrive and grow and learn? How can I foster her amazeball sense of curiosity with gentle parenting and encouragement and try not to flip my fucking lid when she dumps the dog water dish out for the third time that morning? How do I keep my patience and appreciate that she is navigating the world when all the drawer contents in the kitchen are mischievously placed around the main floor, with a reasonable smattering of hidden objects tossed down the stairs or hidden in toy bins? How do I maintain my enthusiasm for that stupid puppy book with the terrible rhyming that she refuses to allow me to actually read completely? Or start reading one of the Winnie the Pooh books with happiness when I know she will walk away after page 2, and try to harvest more items in the pantry to place about the house?

I long for being able to go to stores. And, you know, shop. Not race with a squawk box in the cart until it becomes a game of baby-in-carrier-twisting-interpretive-dance (spoiler alert - the dance can be interpreted as "let me the f_ck out of here, I want to get down, run around, and bash those bottles of olive oil while you chase after me!")

And then, the Hubs comes home. And maybe I sneak away to the store. And I shit you not, I am already missing her before I've travelled three roads from home. Her empty carseat makes my heart hurt. (Yes, I realize she is alive and well at home, but that is how it really is). Any mom I see in the store I feel kindred to (though more than a few have looked at me like I am a lunatic as I smile creepily at them).

I am lost without her. Though I'm sure it is entirely unhealthy, I have no other identity besides BABY D's MAMA. And I am okay with that, but when Baby D isn't there, it leaves a gaping, lonely hole. And it makes me feel even more determined to care for her and fiercely protect her best interests.

So I have some down time on the couch, or I head to the store, and all I want to do is be close to her (spoiler alert: I see enmeshment counselling in her future). I will look up pictures of her on my computer just to see her gorgeous eyes, sweet smile and perky wee pigtails. I want to go into her room, but I don't want to wake her or upset her if I'm just standing there.

My sweet little monkey

Tonight I laid on the floor and looked up at her sweet little feet sticking through the crib rails. And I cried. I feel like I simultaneously love her more than anyone has loved anything in this world, yet I consistently fail her with my fatigue and anxiety, fail in meeting her needs on time, feel like I'm not allowing her to thrive to her fullest potential, and feel like I take her for granted in the day. And others get frustrated with me for trying even harder the next day.

I long to accomplish things, but I truly don't want to be away from her.
Love. Sadness. Ferocity. Amazement. Laughter.
Pride. Joy.

Clearly I need to change my meds.


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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Can't See Clearly Now.

5 COOOOOOMMENTS! Now you speak up!
All those hilarious posts I've been writing in my head at the grocery store, or while in the shower, or while Baby D is up to insane fuckery will have to wait.

I feel sick inside. I'm not sure where else to turn so I'm gonna just pour it out here.

We have two dogs, the little shit Ella (a Lab/Satan cross), and our big, blind boy Schultzy (a Great Dane). Many of you may know his story. Both dogs were rescued. Schultz came to be our boy in January of 2009. On the way home from his foster mom's place, we got into a car accident. A deer decided it didn't like the passenger side of our car, in mid-daylight, on Highway 401. My life flashed before my eyes, but we ended up okay. The car was bashed up, but Schultzy just sat in the back, cool as a cucumber, as shit went down.

His second day at our old house in 2009.

Anyway, needless to say things started with a literal bang. He adores the Hubs. He's broken windows, (probably hearts, too, with those stunning good looks and likely past of being a stud dog), he's eaten his fair share of feces (you know, before he FINALLY accepted that we were going to feed him regularly), he's dabbled in soap bars, razor blades, and Lindor chocolate (I shit you not, the dog has a varied palate, but I agree with him on the chocolate).

He had issues around his neck being touched. He could be aggressive. We've tried (mind you, not hard enough) to train him via various trainers, nose halters, leashes, muzzles, tactics, techniques and treats.

Back in Ontario he was really into nail care. But I refused him a shellac UV dryer.

He's had surgery on his bum. He's been gravely ill with a bladder infection. He's come through it all fine. He's a motherfucking champion. He's currently somewhere between 9 and 10 years old, which is "super-granddad" age for a Dane.

We knew his vision wasn't great, and when we finally moved to Western Canada in 2012, it became painfully apparent in the new surroundings on the drive here that our handsome beast was truly blind. Then came his fear.... of stairs, of the unknown, of the stressful changes. He still rocked that shit, but it was so sad to realize his world was totally dark.

Some time has passed. His eyes were cloudy, we knew he had cataracts. But then the red third eyelids started showing in his eyes and he just didn't seem right. So, since Saturday and yesterday at the vet's we've discovered:

- He has painful glaucoma, with at least 55 pressure in his left eye. At best, he has the feeling of a constant headache. But he's a champ, so it could be worse and he is just tolerating it.
- He will not, at all, allow any more eye drops. He shakes, he backs up, he slips on the floor. He can sense it and smell it, and both the Hubs and I have barely hung on to our composure trying to drop him and calm him.
- He has to have at least one eye removed. This upsets me far more than it should.
- He may have the other eye removed, but will be assessed before surgery on Thursday morning.
- He's gonna go to a specialist who does eye removal more regularly. Our hope is that if they know what they are doing, they will have him under sedation as little time as possible, and do it right, because if the local vet fucks up they have to go back under sedation to have fluid and more stuff taken out.

The biggest freakin' scare? He's old and Danes are known to have weak hearts. We can do $600 of pre-surgical diagnostic testing, but in the end, regardless of the results, he can't reasonably live with the glaucoma pain. And even clear results don't mean he will be okay under anaesthetic. It will only worsen, and he now refuses drops. And he is strong enough and big enough that he continues to win that argument.

Instead, we can do $225 of blood work to at least determine what kind of drugs to give him to sedate him. So it looks like we will.

Don't ask how much the surgery costs.

I hope to hell our sweet beast of a boy does not react badly. He could very well die on that operating table, in a strange new clinic, with staff around him and no family. I don't want to play God with him, but after long discussions, me and the Hubs can't find another reasonable option.

He still has quality of life. He LOVES his walks. He LOVES anything with cheddar powder or sauce. He LOVES his Grandmas. He even wags for pets when he's in the mood. He's mellowed significantly in the last few years and can tolerate a houseful of people and toddlers. And pain medication alone can't combat the pressure and pain from his eye lens.

Wait, what? My couch smells like dog? Nooo, you must be mistaken...

I'm not a religious person. I just hope anyone out there who loves dogs, or, hell, can say they like me (I'll even take "I can stand her"), to please put out some positive vibes for my guy on Thursday. I can feel a panic attack coming on as I type this.

He's been dealt some shit cards. I just want him to be happy and loved and not hurting.


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