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Count Your Blessings

It’s easy to get down in the dumps, especially when life gives you lemons. I know there are a lot of positive people in the world, but there are also a lot of people that are pessimists. I myself, am a pessimist for sure. I often let the bad outweigh the good in situations. I could have a million things go right and one thing go wrong, and I will focus on the wrong rather than the right. I’m not saying that I’m living in a darkness or anything, but, for me, it takes a little extra effort for me to shake off my pessimistic views. My family, friends, and husband often put things in perspective for me, and for that, I’m grateful.

When Eli was first diagnosed, I was devastated. A million worries sunk me to a low and I did not have a good outlook for Eli. Looking back now, I realize how dramatic I was. I didn’t know anything back then, I thought autism would be a social death sentence for him. He would be so far behind his peers, kids would be mean, he wouldn’t fit in. It’s only been two years and he is damn near caught up to his peers and has many friends. One doctor’s diagnosis does not define my son. He is healthy, beautiful, and HAPPY. It just took me a while to realize that.

When Camille was born, everything was great for the first month. She was such a calm baby, never made a peep. After her one month things started going downhill. She was spitting up and throwing up constantly. She would scream all night long from her reflux pain. I was getting no sleep and doing it mostly on my own. At times I would have to give her to my mother and grandma just to keep my sanity. Difficult babies are hard on everyone and it’s so easy to go down the emotional rabbit hole. I was there. It’s hard to stay positive when your baby is hurting and there is nothing you can do about it. There’s times I felt like horrible parent, even though everyone around me was telling me how great I was doing. Now that we have hit her two month birthday things are slowly getting better. She’s screaming less and sleeping a little more. Looking back, I realize how hard I was on myself. I can see now that I am doing a good job as a parent and sometimes there’s nothing to do but ride out the storm.

Outside of my parenting, I am pessimistic about myself. I have always had self-esteem issues. I never thought I was pretty enough, skinny enough, athletic enough, etc. In high school, I thought I was gigantic because I had a little roll hang over the top of my jeans when I sat down. Now, as an adult with a mom body I question who DOESN’T have a roll when they sit down? Looking back on my childhood I see how good I had it. I had a lot of friends, I had boyfriends, I played sports, went to parties, did ok in school, and most importantly I always had food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over my head. Of course, teenagers aren’t really the ones to count their blessings. Even as an adult though it’s hard for me to look past my looks and weight and see that I am a beautiful woman. Even hearing compliments from my husband are hard to take serious. But I am learning to accept things the way that they are and that is including MYSELF. I am an awesome person. I’m friendly, sarcastic, funny, loving; who cares if I weigh more than I did before my two kids??

I’m sorry if this blog comes off as a pity party. That’s not really my intention. One thing I’m trying to do with this blog is connect with other people. I’m hoping this blog can resonate with some people out there. It’s easy to focus on the negative, but doing that keeps us from seeing all the positives in our lives. Every bad thing in life has a silver lining somewhere, it just takes some of us a little longer to see it. If I worry too much about my children or succumb to my fears and anxieties about them, I won’t be present to enjoy all the happy moments that are right in front of me. Life is too short to worry (this is way easier said than done, I know). And I’m trying not to be a hypocrite right now because I am still a pessimist, I just need to put towards the effort to make my glass half empty turn into a glass half full.

Posted in family, parenting, Uncategorized

Living in her Shadow

Getting a new sibling is hard for any child. They’re used to getting all the attention and now a new person has come into the world that takes all the attention while they get pushed to the back burner. I wish I could say that isn’t our situation but it is; to some extent, it’s inevitable.

While Eli’s dad was still in town with us, we tried to each give Eli one-on-one attention so he didn’t feel so pushed aside. Now that dad is gone, I’m still trying to give him alone time with me, although it’s a bit harder to swing by myself with two kids.

New baby Camille has been quite the handful and I can see the toll it is taking on Eli. Most of the time he is such a great big brother. Always wants to see her, gives her back a dropped pacifier, and when she cries he tells me it’s because her tummy hurts or she doesn’t like her car seat. Camille has really bad reflux and takes up so much of my time because she’s not sleeping, throws up, and cries a lot. Most of the day for Eli is being told to be quiet or to go into another room to play by himself and I know it’s not fair. He shouldn’t have to be shunned because we had another baby. It’s really hard to try and find the right thing to do here, especially because it is just me. If I could split myself in two so each kid could get my attention, I would.

I don’t want Eli to feel like the ugly stepchild in the family. If anything, compared to Camille, he’s my golden child. He’s so grown up, independent, funny, and kind. He seems to understand the situation and see why his sister needs more attention. This morning during a puking episode I told the baby we’d go get her juice (pedialyte, per doctor suggestion after frequent vomiting to prevent dehydration) and Eli was listening and came back into the room with a whole jug of orange juice. HOW CUTE IS THAT. Just because he may understand a little of why his sister needs more work doesn’t mean he will always understand or always be ok with it. He may be small, but his feelings are huge. He’s a very emotional boy and to see him sad when I tell him I’m busy or to go into another room is really sad.

Although it’s unrealistic to say that I’m not going to “shun” him ever again and give him all my time, I can make some changes. I think I’m going to try and set up one night a week, every week, that is just for me and Eli. We can go to the park, go to a movie, go out to dinner, anything we choose to do. Plus, let’s be honest, this would also be a break for me from the baby! As the baby gets older things will be a lot easier, more chaotic and messier probably, but easier to manage. Until then the only thing I can do is try my best. I just need to remind myself that my children are fed and dressed and I’m doing a good job.

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Posted in family, parenting, Uncategorized

Tired Mommy Games

Being a mother of one is hard; you’re new to the game and have no idea what to expect. It takes a while to learn to manage your time, you need to get used to getting no sleep, and most women worry about getting their pre-baby body back. Now that I’ve got two kids I’m pretty good at multitasking, I consistently run off three hours of sleep, and I’ve given up on any hope of a tight body. But just because you’ve had a kid already doesn’t mean you’re not going to ride the struggle bus with your second.

Even as a (somewhat) seasoned parent with four-year experience, I still find myself a little lost and loopy with my second child. I haven’t had much practice with a newborn since Eli was born, aside from an occasional overnight babysitting gig for my sister. I’m sure it doesn’t help that Miss Camille is a little refluxy and a little colicky (jk it’s not a little, it’s a lot 😫). Eli is very patient and understanding with the baby; but he is also mostly his usual hyper/needy self, which is the cherry ontop of a no-sleep sundae. Sure, I only slept from 3am-6am but Eli woke up at 7:30 and he wants to eat cereal and play Mario party NOW. Nonetheless, these children are exhausting but I couldn’t love anything more (sounds cliché, but it really is true).

One thing that helps me keep what little sanity I have left during these long nights is the little games and self-competitions I play with myself. They’re not your typical games. Honestly, they’re not really even games at all but when you’re tired and delusional, anything is entertaining.

1. Guess whose shit this is

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“Whose poop is this?!” It’s the age-old question, isn’t it? ….no? …It’s not? Well it is in this house!

 

  1. Find the smell.

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What is that?! Is it dirty diapers? Did someone poop their pants? Who farted? Is it pukey baby neckrolls? Is it me? It’s usually me…

 

  1. Dirty Bottle Standoff

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I like to live on the edge. What’s more thrilling than having your baby scream bloody murder at 3am for a warm juicy bottle only for you to find out that there’s no clean bottles so you must power wash one as fast as your chubby little arms can work before your baby hates you forever.

 

  1. hide and go seek wipes.

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I don’t play this game with myself. The wipes play it with me. I swear they hide themselves. My wipes are never around when I need them!! Why would I have put the wipes in the dryer? How does this happen? Was I trying to warm them up?

 

  1. Dirty diaper basketball

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Fan favorite. It’s 3am. 4th quarter. 2.5 seconds left on the baby screaming clock. You’re obviously not getting out of bed for a layup, gotta shoot the 3. Bank shot at the buzzer. Everybody cheers (you cheer). You won the game (nobody wins).

  1. Pretend pumper

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The first time Eli walked in on me pumping, he asked what I was doing and I simply said that I was making milk for sister. Since then he has respectfully referred to me as a “people cow”. I find the name quite fitting because there a few things more tedious than sitting and being yanked for 15-20 minutes, so you might as well reward yourself with a secret break. This game can get carried away quite easily. It starts with “let me finish this episode of chopped” and ends with watching the entire chopped junior championship for 4 hours.

 

Whether you have one kid or 10, it’s important to have fun and relax. It’s easy, especially with newborns, to get stressed out and let yourself get overwhelmed. When you’re stressed out, they’re stressed out. When you start to feel yourself getting overwhelmed try and make it into something less horrible, then just have a glass of wine after your screaming baby finally passes out.

Posted in family, parenting, Uncategorized

Babycation

As some may know, my family welcomed our new addition, Camille, at the end of August. She came in like a freight train and over two weeks early at that! My husband only had a few weeks off work to be with us before he had to return to California, so we had a little “babycation” where we didn’t do much of anything besides hang out with our kids. I also took a break from Eli’s therapy schedule during this time. Admittedly, mainly because it was hard remembering an appointment after being up all night with a newborn; but also, so he could enjoy every moment he could with both parents together.

Despite my fears, Eli is actually adjusting quite well to being a big brother. Throughout my pregnancy, I kept Eli involved as much as possible. He went to a few doctor visits and an ultrasound; he really enjoyed listening to her heartbeat. I always made sure to reference the baby as much as possible so he could get used to the idea. I’m sure it also helped that my sister and cousin both have had babies in the past six months. Eli has spent quite a bit of time with them and has gotten used to being around little babies.

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He has always had a tough time being told no. Anything that wasn’t an immediate yes was taken as a no and he would run away crying. So you can imagine what I was expecting the first time I told him he had to wait because I was feeding the baby. I thought for sure he would run away screaming and slam a door like he’s done in the past. Instead, what did he do? He said “ok!” and walked back to where ever he needed the help and waited for me to come help him.

It was hard making the adjustment from one child to two. Now that my husband is gone and it’s just me with two kids, I’m a little in over my head. Staying up all night with your first kid was hard enough, but at least you got to take naps during the day when the baby napped. This time around I have a hyperactive 4 year old who I need to take care of bright and early. Last night baby didn’t go to bed until 6:30am but guess who woke up at 8:30? Since becoming a big brother Eli has becoming very understanding and patient, but he’s still loud as hell. I’ve been trying to lay down as much as possible today but between cleaning and fixing bottles and Eli’s ever so persistent “mommy come look!” I didn’t get much sleep in.

Babycation is officially over. Time to dust off my planner and dry erase calendar because Eli starts back up with his therapy next week in addition to his regular school days. I’ve spent too many days floating around being lazy with my kids. It’s time to get everyone back on a routine. We have a couple more months in Michigan before we head back to San Diego so we need to start utilizing all of our remaining time.

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Soccer

It’s been a busy busy busy summer. It’s been almost 2 months since my last blog. I’ve been spreading myself thin between all Eli’s therapies and appointments, working, and my own doctor appointments. Now that I’m near the end of my third trimester it is time that I dial way back on my workload. Hopefully, for the time being, my blog is back up and running!


Eli just completed his first team sport! Back in June we started soccer and I’m not going to lie I was very nervous. Eli was just starting to get out of his shell with other kids his age and he has a lot of social issues that are still underdeveloped compared to other children his age. I was nervous he was too young; the league was for 4-6 year olds and Eli was the youngest on his team.

The first couple practices were pretty iffy. Eli (for the most part) did pretty well listening to his coach and wasn’t too bad with the other kids. There were, of course, a couple run ins that led to minor tiffs but nothing unusual for this age group. First game came and I couldn’t have been proud to see him running around with the other kids!

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Of course there were a lot of areas for improvement but that will come with age and experience. Most of the parents, and the coach, assured me that their kids were exactly the same way their first year. Starting something new, especially a group activity can be overwhelming for any kid. Even children who have played before were quite timid and nervous during the games. Eli picked the game up quite quickly, even score a goal his second or third game!

There were a couple areas of his distractions/tantrums that I know Eli’s autism played a factor. The first being that Eli HAD to use a white ball with a red stripe to practice with. One practice we had a substitute coach who had all black balls and Eli was so upset he wouldn’t participate in practice and we ended up leaving. The first few games we got lucky with the game ball being close to what Eli preferred which made him more willing to participate. Towards the end of the season he got a little more flexible and I think our last game we even used a color ball and he didn’t raise a hair about it! With the pickiness of ball color, came possessiveness over the ball. In the game yes, but more so during practice/free time. He had to have this specific ball and when someone came and tried to take it (in a playful, non challenging way) Eli would freak out until it was back. Definitely need to work on our sharing!

It’s difficult trying to explain to other kids why Eli cries so much. A couple times I heard some of the kids questioning it. “Why does he cry like that?” “He cries like a baby!” Kids are kids, they don’t understand that other kids have difficulties. It’s hard for young kids to understand that not everyone thinks, feels, or acts like they do. I will say however that this group of kids did great with Eli. Several of the kids even tried to cheer Eli up when he was upset. It was awesome to see that. Eli did pretty well interacting with his teammates. Running around chasing his friend Ben and “flirting” with his friend Joy.

We will definitely be putting Eli into more sports when we get back to San Diego. We’d like to do more team sports like soccer and t-ball and also some one on one sports like karate or taekwondo. I feel that sports and all the socialization that comes with it will be great for Eli’s development.

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One Year Anniversary

This week is the one year anniversary of Eli talking. As soon as I realized it was coming up I became extremely nostalgic and began looking back on how far he has come, not only in the past year, but in all four years of his life! (Honestly, I will use any excuse I can to look back at old pictures and videos and get emotional that my baby is growing up, isn’t it the saddest thing?!)

As a parent, you become so in tune with your kids that you can often know what they need with little to no help. When Eli was an infant, I could determine his needs by the sound of his cries. Until the Age of 2 ½ he communicated with baby babble and pointing (which started frustration tantrums from not being understood). Around the 2 ½ year mark is when he began catching on to sign language that significantly lessened the tantrums. I’ve written in the past about his sign language vocabulary; daycare taught him a couple and once we started implementing them at home and in therapy the number of signs grew into the 20 or 30’s.

Then the day came in June last year, at just over three years old. Eli was in ABA therapy and they were practicing the sign for “mama, go” and working on saying the words aloud with the sign. Suddenly it stumbled out of his mouth and from then on out he would sign AND say the phrase “mama, go.” It was beautiful. Hearing your child’s voice when they change from speaking in babble to speaking actual words is such a huge difference. For a couple days, it was the only word he could say, but before long he was slowly speaking a lot of his sign language words along with the sign. I personally credit our amazing therapists along with the Kauffman card method. I’ve made a post about those cards in the past and I may do another one because they worked wonders for Eli. Our speech therapist worked with our ABA therapists and, both using the Kauffman cards, got Eli saying new words every week. His vocabulary grew like wildfire. He had his language explosion. And this week it has been a year since it all started.

I would love to be able to put a number on Eli’s vocabulary but it’s too big to count. He is learning new words and phrases every day; whether from other people, t.v., books, etc. He creates, what I like to call, a phrase of the week. For a while he was saying “sorry ‘bout that” for every little thing. Lately his phrase has been “see that?!” He often speaks in complete sentences although it’s not always clear. I understand a lot of what he says just from being around him all the time and I often need to translate for others. The best part now, for everyone, is that Eli can speak for himself. He can tell everyone what he needs, wants, and feels. There are still many things that are difficult for Eli to understand and deal with; but his developed speech helps open the way for other obstacles to be overcome!

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Mouthful of problems

Eli has never really been a teeth brusher. I am going to be honest when I say, a good portion of that is the parent’s fault. A lot of times at the end of the day it’s the last thing on my mind to get done before bed (horrible, I know). Another part of it was the challenge of the task; kicking screaming and protesting for the 3-minute task seemed dreadful. If I could go back and look at the big picture and make myself suffer through it I would because maybe it wouldn’t have gotten as bad as it has.

Aside from my fault in this, Eli also showed a lot of signs of sensory issues with his mouth. He doesn’t really care to be touched in general, especially in the face. Trying to get a toothbrush in his mouth was next to impossible. He often times would cringe or gag at the feel of the bristles on his teeth or gums and push me away. Most attempts would end with him begging me to stop. I do feel, though, that if I had kept pushing on we could have gotten over this issue.

With all these issues I had getting in his mouth, imagine how our dentist visits have gone… First attempt was everything I expected; Eli crying, me holding him in my lap while he screamed as the dentist wiped fluoride on his teeth, and then we went on our way. The second attempt was much worse. As soon as the dentist walked in, Eli took off down the hall screaming and ended up sprawled out on the floor in hysteria. The next time I made dad accompany me, and wouldn’t you know it, it was the best visit so far (go figure!) Eli sat in dads lap and let the hygentist and dentist do their thing with minimal crying! I’m sure the toys and video games in the office didn’t hurt.

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We were slowly getting into the habit of brushing our teeth more consistently, trying at least. Eli generally doesn’t like any sweets or juice so I figured everything was going good in teeth town… until I saw it. We were brushing one night and I was having a hell of a time getting some popcorn out from Eli’s teeth. After intense brushing, I realized it wasn’t popcorn; it was a black hole in his tooth. Two to be exact. How the hell did that get there?!? It honestly came out of nowhere. I didn’t think you’d be able to overlook something like that, but alas, I did. I spent the next couple day’s trying to get in to see the dentist and religiously scrubbing those teeth to keep debris out. I will say that since I’ve noticed those we have been brushing religiously and Eli isn’t even putting up a fight anymore. He still seems to have occasional issues with the bristles and asks me to stop, but for the most part he’s doing great!

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We finally made it to the dentist and it was a pretty good time! There were toys EVERYWHERE and the staff was so friendly. Eli sat and played with toys basically the whole appointment. The only time he got upset was when he laid in my lap to get teeth counted and brushed. Overall it was a really great experience. Our next step to fixing his teeth is a little more dark. Because of Eli’s issues, he will be getting his dental work done at the hospital’s operating room under anesthesia. They will take x-rays and depending on what they show, put on some steel caps and maybe a baby root canal if the decay caused any damage to the root. I am extremely nervous how Eli will handle the hospital and having to be in the OR alone. I’m really hoping they let me in until he is under anesthesia. This will be his first “major” procedure (I’m using the word “major” rather loosely because I know there are so many worse things he could have to go through, but I’m pregnant and hormonal so to me, it’s major.)  Until now, the most Eli has ever had was some X-rays. Here’s to hoping everything goes smoothly!!!

Moral of the story- Be vigilant when it comes to your kids. Don’t let them win these small battles thinking “It’s fine, we will start brushing eventually…” Because, let me tell ya, ‘eventually’ doesn’t come fast enough and your kid will end up with a mouth full of stainless steel!!