Category Archives: Stress

That time when Frances broke her arm and had to be ambulanced to Yale for emergency surgery.

Liam and I were remarking earlier this summer how we both had made it through most of our childhood without serious injury. I was in high school when I got my first and only stitches and one and only broken bone. Liam had stitches as a kid and broke his hand after college playing basketball.

And yet, both of our girls have had injuries that have required stitching, or in Frances’s case—gluing. And both have broken their arms! All before they turned five!

A couple of months ago Liam had the kids at the park playing on the playground and riding scooters. As they were getting ready to leave—due to Frances needing to poop—she had a fall when her scooter stopped abruptly as she rolled from the basketball court onto the grass. According to Liam, she ‘gently’ fell forward over the scooter—hardly a fall that would induce traumatic injury. According to Frances, the handlebars of the scooter ‘bumped her hard in the elbow.’

At the time, I had been picking up some take-out down the road. Liam called me to tell me he thought Frances might have broken her arm. We met at the restaurant and I confirmed I thought something about her right elbow looked off. So I took Frances to the ER while he went home with the other kids.

The triage nurse took one look at Frances’s elbow and advised me not to give her anything to eat or drink until after the doctor saw her. Hmmm…from my limited experience I knew this meant they were thinking ahead that she could possibly require surgery. Not a good sign. This was bad news to Frances who was a hot, sweaty mess from the park and very thirsty.

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Waiting on X-rays

The ER doctor came in quickly to examine Frances and applied pressure around her elbow. Frances didn’t wince too badly at her touch, so the doctor didn’t think she was going to require surgery. She gave her the go-ahead to have some water and ibuprofen.

Next, we went to have the X-rays done. Although she was clearly in pain, Frances handled the movement and placement of her arm for the photos like a champ. At one point, one of the techs called over to the other techs to have a look—another bad sign. They both agreed that they thought the ER doctor was going to be surprised at how badly the bone was broken. They said that Frances was not behaving like a child with a significant break in her arm. Most children they said, would be screaming and inconsolable. My kid was just a pale, sweaty, sad and pathetic little thing, cradling her tiny arm close to her body.

Then, we headed back to the room to wait for the ER doc. When she came in, she told us the food and water restriction was back in place and that the break was (surprisingly) severe enough that Frances would require immediate surgery. AND, that we would have to travel by ambulance that evening to Yale to meet with the pediatric surgeons there.

At this point, my adrenaline started to kick in. What I thought was going to be a simple splint until we could get a cast from an orthopedic doc—like what happened with Nora when she broke her arm—was turning out to be much more serious. And scary. Surgery?!

I called Liam and had him arrange to have my sister-in-law come get the kids while he grabbed some things from home and met us at the hospital. I remember the doctor told us they were going to give Frances some fentanyl while they splinted her arm for the ride to Yale. “You mean like the stuff that addicts are overdosing from?!” I asked, feeling helpless.

“Yes, but at the appropriate dosing for a four-year-old,” she replied, like I was some kind of idiot thinking they were going to harm my child. What can I say? I hate giving my kids over-the-counter pain meds as it is and avoid it at all costs. So, a drug that heroin users use was bound to freak me out a bit.

It was pretty scary seeing two nurses hold up two syringes to her little nose, but she continued to take it all in stride. The ride to the hospital was without issue, except that I keep thinking it was such a surreal experience. I talked to Frances every few minutes at first, and reached over a time or two to rub her head. I was buckled in behind her, so she couldn’t see me. At first I was concerned this would be unsettling for her, but I think she was totally out of it from the meds. I had a lovely conversation with the medic almost the whole way there. The rest of the time I focused on deep breathing to try and calm my overanxious state. Frances refused to nap for all but ten minutes of the nearly hour ride, though she rested easily. At this point, it was after 8:00 p.m., and she hadn’t had her normal nap. I sensed it was going to be a long night and had no idea what to expect.

The team at Yale was phenomenal. They showered Frances with stuffed animals when we got there and continued to come in and check on us while we waited to see if they were going to do surgery yet that night, or first thing in the morning. We got admitted around midnight after watching some movies in a patient room in the pediatric ER. The surgery was scheduled for the morning.

The worst and most traumatic event of the day was the insertion of the IV. Our kid, who had handled everything up to that point like a rockstar, flipped out when she saw the needle. Like screaming on repeat and nearly hyperventilating. It didn’t help that the nurse tried twice and failed to get a vein.  They had to call a super-super IV getter-inner from downstairs who took her time and eventually nailed it. We celebrated with a rainbow ice pop for Frances at 1:00 a.m. Her first food since lunch earlier that day.

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The team of doctors had explained to us, that during surgery, they would use an X-ray machine to place two long pins in Frances’s elbow bones to hold her bone/joint in place. The break she had was called a supracondylar fracture of the humerus. The pins would get pushed in to her skin—there would be no need to cut her open. The pins would stick out of her skin and be covered with a cast. When the cast came off, the pins would be pulled out and all would be well. At least, that was the plan. We slept as best we could, Liam in a folding chair, and me on a couch.

The hardest part of the whole experience for me, apart from the initial shock of it all, was getting Frances ready to leave for surgery in the morning. We walked with her as she rolled along in her big bed to the pre-op room. As soon as the anesthesiologist and surgeon came to talk to us, Frances started to cry. She looked so brave, as though she were trying to fight back the tears, but she understood for the first time we wouldn’t be going along with her on this part of the journey. My heart ached for her as I tried to reassure her, without adding my own tears to the situation. Gratefully, the anesthesiologist offered us the choice to give her something in her IV to calm her down. Within thirty seconds, she went from tears at the thought of being torn from us, to giggling. He told us she was a poster child for why they like to do that kind of thing. “You’re going to remember her leaving like this and not screaming. And she won’t remember it at all,” he said.

We waited patiently while the doctors had her, and felt overjoyed when the surgeon came after only an hour to tell us that things went perfectly. They encountered no problems and all had gone well.

We waited with our girl until she woke up. We expected she might be groggy and irritable. Both my sister and the doctors had prepared us for the worst. Instead, she was sleepy, but pleasant, asking only for another rainbow ice pop. She had chosen a sparkly pink cast which she admired against the contrast of her pale yellow hospital gown. She also asked if we could go play in the toy room she’d eyed on the walk down to the OR earlier that morning.

The rest of our stay was peaceful. I finally watched Moana for the first time, after having memorized the soundtrack earlier in the summer. We made it back home in our own car in time for dinner with the other two kids. Although the week ahead would prove to be one of the most difficult for me coming off the emotional and stressful experience of the broken arm, and with little sleep (I slept with Frances for a few nights afterwards to make sure she was elevating her arm and taking pain meds), we had weathered the broken arm surgery just fine.

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Leaving the hospital with one of the many furry friends we acquired.

I tried not to hear her when she asked the next day if she could ride her scooter. And I tried not to lose it all when she banged her elbow against the wall accidentally two days later, and then fell on it running a time or two shortly thereafter. And then, when Nora accidentally pulled Rowan down from the heavy dining room chair and both his feet got pinned underneath and he limped around for a few weeks, I almost did lose it all. But we made it through.

We made it through four weeks of end-of-summer no swimming for Frances. We made it through hair washing sessions in the kitchen sink and garbage-bags-on-the-arm baths. We made it through many re-X-ray checks and many more bumps and falls in the cast. We made it through the appointment when the cast came off and the pins came out and things still looked good. We made it through the first two weeks of school in a sling to help Frances—as well as little friends—remember that the unprotected bone still needed a little more time to heal. And we made it through the final check-up where the surgeon told us all restrictions were off!

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This morning, as we were hiking, Frances asked if we could do “Whee”—that thing when a child holds both her parents’ hands and then counts “one-two-three whee,” and then gets swung high in the air by her parents. Um, yeah. We said no. We’re going to give that arm just a little more time to heal before we go there.

Here’s hoping Rowan isn’t on track to break his arm at age four just like both our girls did. Fingers crossed!

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Oops.

A post a day in May, did you say?
I did. I did say that. And then last night, I fell asleep promptly at 7:30 pm with the girls, and did not rise again until midnight (thank you, Rowan, for sleeping so long without wanting to nurse). It was the kind of night where teeth did NOT get brushed, contacts got ripped out and thrown on the floor (I should be embarrassed to admit this, but strangely, am not), and daytime clothes were slept in for far too long than was comfortable. I hadn’t anticipated falling asleep. And I fell asleep HARD.

Needless to say, I was not waking up from THAT kind of sleep to write a blog post. So, oops.

                  ————

This evening I’ve been filling out paperwork to register a certain little five-year-old for kindergarten. How can this be?! I can’t believe I have a school-age child. And, I’ve been just AGONIZING about where to send her.

In our town we have several magnet schools. So families have to apply and get accepted through a lottery. We’ve been accepted to one school and Liam wants us to consider the parochial school he went to as a kid.

I’m sure my parents never thought twice about school choice—not that it was even an option for us then. But I’m also sure they didn’t worry too much about us being successful or fitting in. Or being challenged appropriately vs. feeling bored. 

Mothers of my generation tend to worry about this stuff too much. And, well—I worry about fifteen times as much as the most worrisome mothers of my generation. So yeah, it’s been a struggle.

Anyway. I’m sure Nora will do fine wherever she goes. And if not, we’ve got options. And options are always good, right?

I told Liam earlier that I just want to homeschool. He gently reminded me that I only like the idea of homeschooling and not the reality. There’s a reason I married this man.

Lent is for fasting from gluten, writing, doing the laundry, and parenting at the top of my game, which—let’s face it—was never really tops to begin with.

It’s been A MONTH since I last posted. What?! How can this be?

I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been killing it at this parenting thing. You know—forgoing all else but the kids and putting their needs first.

But no. Sadly, this has not been the case. Take for example, the following scene from the living room last week, and you will have some sense of where my head has been lately:

The girls and I were sitting on the couch happily enjoying some screen time. Rowan was crawling about on the floor, playing with some toys. I was utterly absorbed by the content I was consuming on my iPhone, when Nora—disturbed by some movement in her peripheral vision—interrupted the melodious chorus of one of Daniel Tiger’s well meaning life lessons, and announced rather suddenly, “Mama! Look at Rowan! He moved the fireplace screen and he’s playing in the ashes!”

And here’s how I’m POSITIVE I haven’t been killing it as a mom. My first reaction was to say, “Nora! Go get him!” Followed soon after by the thought: Nora, how could you let this happen? (She’s been doing some minor minding of the baby occasionally).

As if my very mature and responsible almost five-year-old was to blame for my lack of watchful patenting. Ashamed at my reactions, I quickly got up, cleaned up my son, and shelved the phone for a long, long time thereafter. Like, at least thirty minutes.

Besides my parenting skills, writing has also taken a back seat, apparently. As well as laundry, cleaning, organizing, and laundry. Wait, did I already mention laundry? It’s piling up in mounds—both clean and unclean—around the house. The kids haven’t worn laundered or matching socks in days and days.

So if I am failing at all of this, to what have I been giving attention?

Me!

About time, right?

Part of the reason I’ve been away for so long has to do with some minor health issues I started having soon after we moved to Connecticut. In early December, after we’d been living in our new place for a little over a month, I started feeling nauseous off and on every few days. Of course, like you, I suspected I might have become ill with child. Thankfully, that was not the case.

Dizziness followed as well as frequent migraines. Then came some minor indigestion. What was going on? All of a sudden, relatively healthy me seemed to be in some kind of distress.

I went to the doctor and had some blood work done. The results came back normal. A return visit to the same doctor ended with him concluding I had IBS caused by the stress of the move and being home with three kids. He gave me two medicines he claimed were safe for breastfeeding. He seemed to discount my symptoms of nausea and migraines, while completely inventing others (One of the meds was for reflux, which I told him really wasn’t bothering me, after which he asked, “Is it worse at night?” Hello?? Did you not just hear me say that it really isn’t an issue?).

And so, I left feeling very discouraged. I figured I might try at least one of the meds because I was tired of not feeling well. I had already planned on NOT taking the med for reflux, you know, since I really didn’t have it. I googled the other drug just to make sure it was safe for breastfeeding, and of course, it wasn’t. I can’t say that I was really that surprised given that lame excuse for a doctor’s visit.

In near despair, I started scouring the Internet for resources to help myself while also trying to find alternative doctors.

I ended up putting myself on an elimination diet because I really felt like I had suddenly developed some food intolerances as a result of whatever was happening inside my body, and I wanted to see if I could pinpoint what was causing my distress.

I also found a superdoctor. She is an M.D. with a Ph.D. in Natural Medicine and a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. What?! She’s perfect for me. And, I love her. I can’t believe it’s taken me almost thirty-eight years to fine her, but now I have. I will never leave her.

We’ve only met twice, for an hour each time. But she listened to me. With really good ears. She told me to continue my elimination diet and be aware of symptoms when reintroducing foods. Also, she put me on a pretty beefy vitamin and supplement regimen. 

Her conclusion, which I happen to value so much more than the guy with just the one M.D., was that stress, combined with an uptake in caffeine consumption along with lots of processed, sugary foods (hey, it was the holidays!), combined with lack of sleep (tandem nursing two at night), combined with malnutrition (not only was I eating crap food, I wasn’t taking any vitamins), led to adrenal fatigue and overall havoc on my systems.

Sadly, I’ve had to cut coffee out of the daily routine. It’s the thing I miss most. I’m also gluten-free, sugar-free, and mostly dairy-free at the moment. 

And…I feel great. I have tons of energy and almost all of my bothersome symptoms are gone. No more headaches, nausea, dizziness. Nada. And I’ve lost about ten pounds. Not that I needed to or was trying to. But still. With summer almost around the corner…

Want to know the side effect I didn’t expect? My stress and anxiety levels are SO. MUCH. LOWER. Crazy how food can be both culprit and cure.

So when evening rolls around these days and I wonder about whether I should write on the blog, I’m like, “Eh. I’d so much rather read a book. Or take a bath. Or just go to bed.” 

So, I’ve been taking care of me. And reading lots of recipe sites for nutritious and yummy food I can eat (which is why I missed the whole seeing the kid in the fireplace thing). 

My bottom line here: if you are someone who is struggling with any kind of chronic anything, get thee to a naturopath! Immediately. You won’t regret it.

Coming soon: How to get your kids to stop tattling. (I’m not going to tell you. Rather, I’ll be solicitating advice. So thanks in advance.)

Stitches, burns and a broken arm. They say bad things happen in threes, so we should be good now, right?

I was in ninth grade the first time I broke a bone—my nose. How old was I then? 14? 15? I’d been warming up in the outfield before an away game. I remember feeling nervous because I was one of the youngest players on the varsity team. I was afraid I was going to make a mistake and let everyone down. That afternoon, my coach hit a fly ball for me to catch, and I lost track of it in the sun. Nevertheless, I held my glove out and up in an attempt to catch the ball. Instead, I caught the ball with my face.

A year later—the following summer—I had been visiting my grandparents down in North Carolina all by myself. With no parents. One afternoon, while attempting to retrieve some ice, I pulled open the handle of the freezer door a bit too quickly, and a frozen beer mug—a staple in the Herb and Mary Yost freezer—crashed to the tiled kitchen floor around my feet. A shard of glass split the skin on the inside of my left ankle. My grandfather drove me to the nearby urgent care center where I got my first set of stitches.

I think I was pretty lucky to have made it to my teen years without having had much prior injury. My four-year-old, however, has not been so lucky.

Things first got grisly this past winter, a week or two before Christmas, when Nora was technically still three. One evening, she had been running from the living room into the kitchen when she tripped and fell and hit her head on the leg of the dining room table. I had been six months pregnant with Rowan at the time, and Frances and I had been enjoying our dinner. Liam had been in the car on his way home from work when it all went down. I called him right away and told him that I thought the open, bleeding wound would require more than just a compress and a bandage. I asked him to meet me at the urgent care center down the street from our house.

When all was said and done, Nora ended up needing four stitches. Liam stayed with her the whole time and said she did great. She never cried when they numbed and stitched her up. Instead, she talked and joked nonstop with the doctor, nurse and with Liam. That’s our girl.

 

In the lobby at urgent care.

  

Thoroughly enjoying her post-op holiday treat.

 
                     ———–

I detailed Nora’s second encounter with danger when I wrote about the fireworks incident five or six blog posts back.
                     ———–

Then, a few weeks ago, Nora broke her arm. We had been at a birthday party for a neighborhood friend. It was at one of those indoor bounce places. We’d been to that bounce place several times before with no exciting incidents. 

At the time of Nora’s injury, I had been sitting next to Frances on a bench. Nora had been running in and out of some houses close by, but I hadn’t had my eyes on her, trusting she knew where to find me if she needed me.

I was talking to Frances when Nora came running up to me crying and holding her arm. “Mommy, Mommy,” she cried. “I broke my arm!”

I held her close and—essentially—laughed behind her back and rolled my eyes at the other adults standing nearby, thinking: Yeah, right. She’s just being dramatic. Broke her arm. Really? Hahaha.

However, the longer I held her and tried to calm her, the more I could see she was really hurting. Still, I didn’t think she had broken her arm. She’s got a history of suffering from elbow injuries. 

The first time this ever happened, Nora had been just eighteen months old. She’d been holding Liam’s hand while walking up the steps to the babysitter’s house when she slipped and lost her footing. Liam held tight to her arm and she dislocated her elbow.

We hadn’t known it at the time. She had cried, but Liam went on his way to work thinking she would eventually calm down.

When I came to pick Nora up after work, the sitter told us about how Nora had held her arm close to her side all day, and winced and whined every time she had had to move it. Gratefully, the sitter shared with us her thoughts on the injury, since her son had suffered from a similar injury—a pulled elbow—before.

I took Nora directly to urgent care, where, after I explained what had happened, the doctor confirmed the sitter’s suspicions. The doctor performed a reduction on Nora’s arm. She basically just extended Nora’s forearm, and then bent her elbow, pushing her hand and lower arm up toward her shoulder. This had been incredibly painful for Nora, but the moment the ligament went back into place, there had been instantaneous relief from the pain she’d been dealing with all day. 

The second time Nora’s elbow joint slipped, my mom had been playing with her at my house. Nora had been lying on her back on the floor and had reached out her arms to my mom to be lifted up off of the ground. My mom pulled on Nora’s arms a little too hard, while yelling “Whee!” and Nora’s elbow got injured again. Frances was an infant then, and I remember playfully thanking my mom for coming over for a quick visit, only to injure my child and then not even stick  around to help see us off to urgent care (she had had an appointment, I think, and felt terrible about not being able to accompany us to the doctor. Liam had been at work. Shocker.).

The third time Nora hurt her elbow I was prepared. I had seen the doctors reset her arm twice and had watched a Youtube video on how to fix a pulled elbow. So, I attempted to fix it myself, and it worked! Since then—and that was over a year ago—we hadn’t had any issues.

So, when Nora said she had broken her arm at the bouncy house, I assumed it was just another dislocated elbow. But I hadn’t seen her fall. And she said that she had landed on it, not pulled it. Additionally, the way her arm was shaking made me not want to mess around with it. So, before the girls got to enjoy any cake, we had to leave to drive to urgent care (including the above mentioned incidents, along with a minor head bump injury when she was just sixteen months old, this would have been Nora’s sixth visit to urgent care). We are still hoping there is not some kind of file on our family and Nora’s injuries at CYA (the local agency tasked with investigating cases of abuse and neglect concerning children).

Liam had been home watching Rowan, so he met the girls and me at urgent care. Liam and I were so puzzled as to why Nora had said she’d broken her arm. We weren’t sure how she knew what that meant, unless a classmate had had a broken bone, or she’d seen it on TV in a movie or a show.  Liam asked if she had heard a noise when she landed on her arm, or felt anything funny. She said she hadn’t. We asked her how this injury felt different from her other elbow injuries. She wasn’t able to tell us.

As we sat in the waiting room, an exasperated Liam asked her, “Well how do you know it’s broken?!”

“Daddy!” she admitted, “I don’t even know what broken means!”

Well, clearly, she must’ve. The doctor gently tried to put her elbow back into place in case it was dislocated. When that didn’t offer any immediate relief, they x-rayed her arm and discovered a small fracture in the humerus at the elbow. Nora had been right all along. And, of course, I felt like a big asshole for having laughed at her after her fall. Mom of the year! 

She’s been in a bright pink cast now  for a few weeks. It comes off a week from Tuesday and hopefully all will be well in her little world again. She sure is one accident prone kid! And a brave one at that. ❤️

  

The giant urgent care splint.

   

The much less bulky orthopedic doctor splint.

  

And, the bright pink accessory–er, cast, I mean.

 

Anxiety Episode #13: While watching an up-close and intimate fireworks display, one of us becomes injured by a wayward spark.

All of of my anxiety posts to date have concerned events about which I’m fearful, but haven’t actually ever happened. The one I’m about to write about did. Last night. And it was terrifying.

For years and years my dad has been in charge of putting on a fireworks show for scuba divers and their families on the 4th of July. The show locale is on top of some limestone cliffs overlooking the Susquehanna River adjacent to the diving quarry where my dad has worked part-time off and on since the late 1980s.

The quarry and the land surrounding it was recently sold, so the owners of the dive shop there held one last picnic last night to celebrate. And, there was one last fireworks show to send things off with a literal bang.

My dad had always purchased the fireworks down in South Carolina, over the border from where his parents used to live. Each summer we took a vacation not only to visit the grandparents, but to pick up a stash of fireworks for the yearly tradition. We all had fun visiting the megastore and watching TV videos that displayed the look and sound of each firework sold. We also relished browsing the names of the fireworks, many of which were very redneck and/or super patriotic. Off the top of my head I recall: Blonde Joke, Here Come Da Judge, Uncle Sam’s Revenge, and Red, White and Boom.

Anyway, every year, as we hiked up to the cliffs with our lawn chairs and blankets, we discussed the possibility of one of the fireworks making its way into the crowd of onlookers instead of the sky, where it’s meant to explode. Although the risk and threat was always very real, we kind of laughed it off as an impossibility. The shows had always been very safe. Well, I think there may have been a year where there was a near miss, but everyone came out unscathed.

Last night, however, two of my family members suffered serious injuries as a result of a firework that had in its mind to fire directly into the crowd instead of up in the sky. Let me say they are both OK. It could have been much worse.

My oldest gal was laying on a blanket with my sister and her kids. The firework in question came up in between my sister and Nora. At the time I couldn’t tell what had happened. Instinctively, I turned away from the flash. I was standing behind everyone holding the baby in a carrier. Liam—who was holding our middle girl—later told me he jumped out of the chair he was sitting in, and ran down the hill shielding both him and her.

The next thing I remember, after the popping and flashing subsided, was hearing Nora screaming hysterically and seeing five or six people rush up to her, all the while yelling, “Take off her clothes! Take off her clothes!” Like I said, terrifying.

I was on the outside of the circle of people trying to care for her during the chaos and confusion, and—frustratingly—I couldn’t get to her. I remember feeling so relieved, though, when someone finally pulled her shirt over her head and I could see her perfect, uninjured little face through her tears. Liam finally picked her up, got her pants off, and, with the help of cell phone flash lights and head lamps, found the source of her pain—three burn marks on her outer thigh, one of which seemed pretty bad.

Someone decided we should call an ambulance and did. He or she later called to cancel it. Gratefully, a medic was part of the crowd of spectators and ran back to his car to get his burn kit. A few strangers let us use their nearby RV so Nora could be treated in a more comfortable, well lit area. It was there that I found out my sister had gotten burned too. Slightly worse than Nora. According to her, she jumped on top of Nora when the flash came and the firework went off in between them. The medic was able to treat her too, saving us all from a late-night trip to the ER.

Nora calmed down after the initial scare and was exceedingly brave. She sat naked on Liam’s lap in that RV eating chips and drinking juice that was offered to her, all the while cracking jokes with Mike the medic. She was amazing. She is amazing.

On the drive home, I was a mother hen chock full of adrenaline and cortisol, driving significantly below the speed limit in an attempt to keep my little chicks safe from further threat of danger.

Later, when we all got home and into bed, I kept agonizingly reliving the mini-explosion over and over again in my head. I kept seeing the bright flashes, hearing the pops and the screams, watching frantic hands undress my baby and then seeing her face, her injuries.

My heart broke all over again this morning when I found Nora’s clothing in the car. Her pants and shirt had burn holes in them and smelled of sulphur and fire. Ugh. Into the trash.

For now, though, Nora seems little bothered by her injuries (except for when it’s time to change the bandages). The adults close to her—my dad and brother especially, the show igniters 😉—were much more affected.

I’m busy trying not to dwell on the what-could-have-beens, and feeling grateful that Nora and my sister are OK. I’m trying to follow Nora’s brave lead and act as though what happened was no worse than a scrape on the knee from falling off a bike. I think she will have a bad scar, but hoping she won’t have much more of a memory of this time than that.

Unlike her mother, she seems pretty unfazed. Other than the fact she has vowed to never, ever, EVER, EVER again go see a fireworks show. Ever again. Ever. Like, ever, mama.

Like I said, amazing.

On the eve of returning to work after four-and-a-half months.

Ugh. I have to set my alarm clock tonight for the first time since March 29th. I have been busy making preparations for the big day back to work tomorrow. Made lunches through Tuesday and have been readying bags of supplies for the kids and me for over an hour. Again, ugh. Bottles, milk, pump and pump parts, computer, blankets, diapers, wipes, swim suits, extra change of clothes, etc. I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

I have mixed emotions about leaving the kids tomorrow. I’m teary, weary, both looking forward to a break from them and hating to leave them at the same time. The baby still won’t take a bottle, so I’m anxious about that too. The good news is the kiddos will be with family all this week and I’m able to take my lunch time to go visit if need be. Next week the students start back and I won’t have the time or flexibility to do the same.

I wish I could write more, but I’m too emotional and exhausted. As much as I’ve wished for some ‘me’ time away from the kids, our summer together has been so intense—due largely to the fact we’ve been on our own for much of it—I know I’m really going to feel their absence tomorrow. My little clinger-on-ers.

Here’s to hoping we wake up on time and transition peacefully to where we all need to go.

Double ugh.

I am so done with—well, everything!

Have you ever reached a point where you become so overwhelmed that you don’t want to do anything? You just want to throw in the towel and yell, “I QUIT!” at the top of your lungs? And then run away to Mexico?

Well, I am at that point now, and sadly, have been stuck in it, mucking about, for the past few days or so. Help! I cannot pinpoint the moment things went south for me. But I do have some general ideas.

Let’s begin with the children. The oldest has been enjoying nap-free, action-packed days with later than normal bedtimes. This has the effect of turning her into a bit of a monster. She has become overly sensitive and emotional, as well as grouchy and sassy. And I can’t tell her she’s tired because it will just end up in an argument. After 4:00 p.m., she seems to lose all control of her manners, the words that come out of her mouth, and the ability to remain upright without falling into something for more than fifteen minutes at a time.

The middle child is perhaps the whining-est child on the face of the earth right now. Truly. I have not met a child who whines more than she does. At first, I chocked it ip to teething. But, if that’s the case, the child has been teething now for over four months straight, and is showing no signs of stopping. From the moment she wakes up, until the moment she goes to sleep, and then, on into the middle of the night, it’s:

“Hold me, mama!”

“Nurses!”

“Arm!” (she wants to lie on my arm)

“Mom-MEE! Mom-MEE!” (spoken like Will Ferrell demanding ‘Meatloaf!’ in the movie Wedding Crashers)

And the baby. The poor, sweet baby. He is mostly quiet and pleasant and smiley. He rarely fusses. But he’s been in a poor-napping-during-the-day phase for some time. As a result, I end up spending much of the day either holding the baby, or trying endlessly to put him down for a nap. Our house is just too small, and the noise and distraction too much, that he wakes up time and again after being put to sleep in my arms.

Then, there’s the house. Besides being small, there is always, always the issue of child clutter on the floor. Lately, there have been tens upon tens of little colorful plastic bears littering the floor. I had to recently round them up and retire them to a secret hidey spot that NO ONE knows about. There is also always laundry to be done and folded and put away. And dishes in the sink or on the counter, or in the dishwasher waiting to be put away.

But then there is the recent stuff too. Like the landlord wanting us to buy the mower. Thankfully, we have put his ridiculous offer on hold for the time being. Or the hundreds of maggots I discovered in the garage once I moved a towel that was lying on the floor. They scattered everywhere in an instant. Normally, I am not afraid of bugs, but this was just too much. I told the hubs he needed to immediately come outside and deal with the situation. His solution—throw away the towel. But what about the scattering maggots?!

Then there are the flies that reside in our house these days, again, numbering in the tens upon tens. I swatted at least twelve yesterday. I’ve no doubt these are coming from the maggot farm in the garage. Also, there are small ants that seem to be building their den underneath the bathroom floor, coming and going as they please. I suppose it is nice entertainment to watch them while I’m sitting on the toilet, but I’d really like for them to build and destruct elsewhere.

Then, there’s the washing machine. That started giving us trouble weeks ago when it began leaking copious amounts of water onto the floor. Turns out the water valve was faulty and cold water was just gushing out all over the place. Lovely.

So we went for a whole week without the use of a fully functioning washing machine. This was especially trying since we need to launder diapers every other day. We were able to make it work for a bit, but I had to stay with the machine while it filled up, then manually turn off the water, then come back downstairs for the rinse cycle, turn on the water, stay until the basin filled up, and then leave again, on and on ad nauseam.

We finally got a refurbished one a few days ago—courtesy of the landlord—which of course, I just discovered is leaking water again, although gratefully, not as much as last time. Does the madness ever end, I wonder.

So this morning, when I woke up at 7:45 (thank you, husband, for getting up with the baby at 6:00), and just wanted a moment to sit on the couch with a cup of coffee in hand, but instead was met with a rambunctious four-year-old who wanted to build a block bed with me for her wooden doll family, a whiny two-year-old demanding, “Hold me, mama! Nurses on the couch!”, and a baby, who would very soon need to be put down for a nap, I really did want to run away to Mexico. I felt as though I couldn’t do it again—another day of the same old routine. Another day of swatting flies and cleaning clutter and dishes and holding babies and listening to “Mom-MEE!”

There’s this phrase that I’m reminded of time and again when I feel overwhelmed like this. 

Just start

Don’t think about everything that needs to be done, just put one foot in front of the other and do something. So, I nursed the toddler while drinking my coffee and watching the four-year-old play with blocks. My husband, bless him, sensing my unraveling, went in a little late to work so he could rock the baby to sleep.

After he left, I managed a shower. Next, I swatted a fly and killed it dead. Then, I started a load of diapers. Baby steps. Finally, when I felt I could do no more than that, I called my sister and told her that I was coming over with the kids because I couldn’t be trusted to be on my own with them today.

She laughed and took us in. We hung out and chatted. She put the baby down for his second nap. And then, she fed us and gave me a couple of glasses of wine. And it was just what I needed. A break from the monotony and confining walls of our home.

It’s funny. In the moment I always think, “Oh man. God is really testing me today. What with all the flies and maggots about.” And then, after the briefest respite, I suffer from the guilt of you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-God-is-testing-you, you’re-so-blessed-it’s-not-even-funny nonsense.

I guess it’s like my wise husband says: There’s always tomorrow. A new day. A chance to start all over again and make things better than they were before.

Aren’t we lucky?