Did you…

Did you…

Did you think you weren’t my favorite daughter? Because you were. You were, you were. 

Please don’t ever think that. 

_____________________

“I hate you!!!! I hate you, Mom!!” Her feet are close to the edge of the broken floor tile. Her face is red rage and tears. 

“You can’t act this way, and it’s my job to make sure you know that.” I pick her up and carry her to the dining room and place her firmly on a chair. She doesn’t know that I’m getting her foot away from the tile. She doesn’t know that I’m getting her 4-year-old eyes out of the kitchen. 

“Aaaaaaaaa!!!!” She swings and kicks her legs so much that the chair bounces around.

“You. Better. Quit.” I kneel down in front of her, place a hand on either side of the chair to steady it. My face is calm. My heart is racing. She looks away first. 

“I hate you!!” She screams to the back of my head as I walk into the kitchen. I put a new, clean trash bag into the trash can and bring it back to the dining room. 

“Take off your new dress and put it in here. You will not be allowed to scream at me and hit and kick me wearing this dress I just bought you.” I hold the trash can out toward her. 

“I don’t care! I don’t want it! It’s ugly!” She takes it off and throws it in the trash. The giant jewel on the top of the dress hits me in the knuckle; I clench my jaw. 

“You won’t need this baby doll with a matching dress either.” I pick up her doll off the table and drop it into the clean trash bag. 

“I don’t care.” She opens her mouth slightly again, then closes it. Crosses her arms. 

“What’s it going take? Because I can keep going.” I can’t keep going. I can’t, but I will. 

My methods are probably all wrong. I don’t know what I’m doing. We don’t usually say it, but most moms…we think it. We don’t know what we are doing, or if it’ll work. 

I pick up her new iPod touch, drop it loudly into the trash, never looking away from her eyes. She doesn’t care. I don’t know what else to throw away. I don’t know how to break her rebellious attitude. 

Freddie bounces his way into the dining room, unwittingly. Her sweet, fluffy gray kitten. He bats at a dust particles swimming around in the light from the bay window. I scoop him up. 

Her eyes look worried.

“I guess you won’t be needing your kitten either.” I place him gingerly onto her dress in the trash can. 

“NO!! Please NOT Freddie! I’m sorry.” Her sob changes, her voice softens. “I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry. I don’t hate you.”

She reaches for me. I can’t pick her up fast enough. I fold my arms under her baggy Dora panties. Her tiny butt rests on my forearm. 

We bend down together and pick up Freddie. He’s not worried. He wants down so he can attack the dust again. 

I collapse onto her chair and we hold on and rock each other. Paper mache streaks of snot-glazed hair.

Shh, shh…you are my baby forever. You are my favorite. 

I hold on. I rock. I think of all the things we never did do together, all the things I should’ve done better…

____________________

If you think a person can’t have five favorite daughters, then you obviously don’t have five daughters.

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Two spoons: Congenital Hypothyroidism, video timeline

Two spoons: Congenital Hypothyroidism, video timeline

I keep an unorganized mental log. I have vivid memories, especially of the emotionally-charged moments.

I decided to share some more video clips and notes about my daughter, Rebekah Ruby Kate (currently 7 months old)

Born on February 15, 2016

Born at 39 weeks 6 days

Weighed 5lbs 10oz (my 5th daughter)

Rebekah had velamentous cord insertion (cord attached to amniotic sac instead of placenta). Because of her abnormal cord attachment, she had IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), and she was also SGA (small for gestational age).

Tiny and perfect to me. She has had some health setbacks, but she faces them with the sweetest temperament. They don’t subtract one ounce from her perfection to me. 

Rebekah had abnormal thyroid levels (elevated TSH) at 1 week old, 4 weeks old, 13 weeks old, and 16 weeks old. But because her thyroxine was always in range, and because I had read extensively about the differences in the hormonal profiles of SGA babies…we waited. 

We chose not to start Levothyroxine until she was 16 weeks old. 

Before 25mcg Levothyroxine…

February 16 (one day old)…

March 19 (one month, 4 days, 6lbs 15oz)…

April 8 (almost 2 months, 6lbs, 6oz )…

Rebekah lost 9oz of weight between week 5 to week 8. My milk supply was low, and I had to fight hard to continue breastfeeding, something I never had to do with my other 4 daughters.

I tried fenugreek, pumping, coconut oil, lactation cookies with Brewer’s yeast, ground flax, tons of water, chia seeds, coconut water…you name it.

And when she was 10 weeks, and had gained her 9oz back on only breast milk, I finally started supplementing with goat milk. I would still pump daily as well. 

May 17 (3 months, 2 days, 8lbs 14.5oz )…

May 22 (3 months, 7 days, 9lbs 8oz)…


June 2 (3 months, 18 days, 10lbs)…

June 6 (3 months, 22 days, 10lbs 8oz)…


I did feel that she was doing well with all her milestones without starting Levothyroxine , but we agreed to start it when she was 16 weeks old.

I put all her thyroid level results on this paper, including the lab ranges which are different.



SHE STARTED 25mcg LEVOTHYROXINE ON JUNE 8, 2016 (16 weeks old)…

We crush her pill between two spoons, every morning. We mix it with about an ounce of apple juice or water. 

We read in the drug’s instructions to take it on an empty stomach. This is quite a feat with an infant. For the first 3 weeks, we would feed her at 9pm; she would wake herself around 12am to eat; then we were waking her at 3am to eat, then waking her again at 5am for her med, and then she would wake at 6am ready to eat again. 

Pretty much…we didn’t sleep. 

Then on June 30, when we met her endocrinologist for the first time, she told us she tells her parents they can just give it with a feeding. 

Well hallelujah. So then we would just let her wake us. 

Rebekah developed torticollis (her head leaning right) almost immediately after starting Levothyroxine. I looked up anything I could to find out if there was a connection.

I only found that muscle aches were sometimes a drug side effect. So we decided they weren’t connected.

June 11 (3 months, 27 days, 11lbs)…

On the med, she started to be incredibly lethargic, especially in the afternoons. There were several weeks that her overall health was much worse after starting Levothyroxine. (Though some things improved later.)

I kept a detailed log of several of her daily habits and figures. Just to see if anything changed…


On June 12, when Rebekah was about 16 weeks old, I started making a more complicated formula that I got from Dr. Axe’s website–goat kefir, coconut water, flax oil, nutritional yeast. 
June 15 (4 months, 11lbs 2.5oz)…


It seemed that her torticollis was worst when she was sleepy and/or had a full belly.

June 16 (4 months, 1 day, 11lbs 5oz)…

I stopped pumping breastmilk for her completely around July 1, 2016. My supply just dwindled and dwindled. It was a heartbreaking choice, and even today…2.5 months later, I hope to somehow go back to it. 😞

_____________________

Rebekah had what seemed like a panic attack on June 24. It was incredibly scary. She had a mild fever, shifty eyes, very quick breathing and a fast heart rate. I guess I deleted the videos from that night. I wish I could delete my memories of it.

She ended up falling asleep that night, but then her fever continued the next day. I called the on-call nurse at AR Children’s; they recommended I call poison control. The poison control guy recommended I not give her any more Levothyroxine until her thyroid levels were checked.

This was all on a Saturday, so that means I spent about an hour at a walkin (after calling to find out if they check thyroid levels, and verifying with AR Children’s that I could use them), only to have the walkin Dr check her vitals and  recommend that we go to the emergency room instead.

I spent about 5 hours in the ER with her–rectal temp 102.7, heart rate 185, 36 breaths a minute. This is my 5th child, so I realize these aren’t alarming vitals by themselves. But I was concerned about her behavior; the poison control guy wanted her checked out; the walkin Dr wanted her taken to ER, and her whole life has been so drastically different than my other girls.

They did a chest xray, a port in her foot (which ended up being unusable), drew blood, did a catheter, drew blood again. Everyone was incredibly kind, but the experience was sooo traumatic. But mostly…we waited and waited and waited.

Her thyroid levels came back in range. She was diagnosed with a UTI; they said her behavior was “normal” febrile seizures. She was prescribed Cephalexin…and we all went home exhausted.

________________________

Rebekah woke several times at night, and she would have a completely soaked diaper 3-4 times a night, so soaked that they would soak her outfit and sheets every time. 

If you’ve followed any of Rebekah’s story and you thought to yourself–that baby needs drugs! Well, I’m sure you were relieved when we started her on Levothyroxine, but if I’m completely honest, she has faced her biggest health challenges and scares right after she started and the entire time she was on 25mcg of Levothyroxine. 

I can’t say, and I’m not saying that the med CAUSED her torticollis, insomnia, panic attack, excessive urine, her UTI. But I am saying it’s been rough. Rough on her. Rough on us. 

July 3 (4 months, 18 days, 11lbs 12oz)…

Rebekah started seeing a chiropractor on June 22, and her torticollis was better almost immediately. 

July 10 (4 months, 25 days, 11lbs 12oz)…

Rebekah rolled over around 5 months, and in many ways she was adjusting her her dosage and doing okay. 

July 29 (5 months, 14 days, 12lbs 10oz)…


However, she still woke several times a night with soaking wet diapers, and she was not gaining much despite her large calorie intake. 


HALF DOSE 12.5mcg LEVOTHYROXINE (STARTED AUGUST 17)

On Wednesday August 17, I decided to start giving her only a half dose for a few days to see if it changed her naps and sleep quality overall, her excessive urine output…etc. 

I contacted the endocrinology nurses; they consulted her Endocrinologist, and she said we could leave it at a half tablet until September 12 when she had her levels checked again. And then we would go from there. 

.

August 17 (6 months, 2 days)…

Her sleep quality improved overnight; she only had to be changed once at night now (instead of 3-4 times); she has started keeping her weight on, and her energy levels improved as well. I hoped her levels would “agree” with her behaviors. 

Rebekah sat up on her own for the first time ever on August 19. She’s been more talkative and active, and also…more peaceful and restful at night and nap times. 

August 19 (6 months, 4 days) …

On September 12, Rebekah’s TSH was 4.32 (in range) and her fT4 was 1.28 (also in range). Her endocrinologist said she can stay at 12.5mcg until her level check on December 12. 

Depending on her levels in December, the endocrinologist said that we might talk about stopping the med entirely by Rebekah’s first birthday. 

God is good no matter what, and we are hopeful…

.

September 18 (7 months, 3 days)…

Taste words before spitting them out.

Taste words before spitting them out.

It is a love story. 

It’s a work story. It’s a story of pain, of bitter resentment. Love isn’t a hole for fallers. It’s a decision. Tick, tick…every second. It is grime and crying babies and unbrushed teeth. 

Put your head down, put your blinders on, and plow. Love isn’t a life of naps. 

If you can’t do that, if you won’t do it…if you are too proud for low horses. If you can’t get on the horse…and back on…back on. If you can’t be the workhorse…

If you want to watch a love story, if you want to invent one in your head, if you want a lusty affair, if you’re looking for a plateau, you’re wrapped up in the wrong life. That’s not love. 

Never trust a snapshot. A lie worth a thousand words. Trust an empty closet rod. Trust an eviction notice. Trust a full trunk.

Careful who you talk to. Don’t say it outloud. Not yet. 

Every choice you made. Every choice you didn’t make. All adds up to now. You chose this. 

hamster wheel

hamster wheel

If you see a mom…

Early on a Sunday morning…

In an empty parking lot…

Leaning on a steering wheel…

Face down on her folded arms…

Shoulders shaking…

It’s nothing important.

Just don’t…

Honestly, you wouldn’t even…

It’s the hole the squirrels chewed into the soffit,

And this isn’t her first time,

And it’s all the condensation cup circles,

And don’t text,

And it’s the sliding minivan door that’s off-kilter,

And don’t attempt to understand,

And it’s the beeping smoke alarm,

And she doesn’t want to do this,

And it’s the pile of unread books,

And don’t make that face,

And it’s that mountain of Wal-mart donation bags full of clothes.

I know I am, but if I know it,

Then I’m not.

If this is my sanctuary, 

Then let it be that, please. 

I don’t have a walled garden of flowers. 

This is what I have, where I have. 

Don’t you think I know crazy when I feel it pulsing?

If you give a mouse a cookie…

I think I might have. 

You know how it will be. 

If you don’t get it,

Do you think I care?

If you don’t…

Look away. 

Stay away. 

Vinegar

Vinegar

I don’t make love easy. 

I don’t know, maybe my stubborn battles stem from subconscious value for self, value for ideals, desperate need to kill boredom. 

If you can’t come at me like a starving beast, then just roll over and snore. Because I want all. 

And then the revolts.

I can cross my arms. My mouth can play the devil’s advocate to my own heart. I don’t have to agree to anything. I don’t have to eat. I don’t have to get out of bed. 

I don’t need a calendar. My blood burns, feels every phase of the moon. I know when it’s full. 

And I’m not old yet.

___________

One time I tried to knock him over, who remembers why? And I’m no Yorkie, lap chick. I’m a St. Bernard lady beast. I’m a lioness. 

I slammed into him. Like he was one of those things the football players run at. Like that. 

He didn’t budge. He laughed, which infuriated me.

What do you want with me? I don’t know a damn thing about guns or cars or politics. 

Why me? I am loud music and Tetris-y games and poured out feelings. I’ve seen girls who like guns and cars and politics. Why not them?

But okay, no I get it. I know guys who are just like me, full of feels and…

You won’t ever have to babysit me at a party. But just know…if you try to make me mad or jealous, if you treat me bad in front of everyone, I can be a breeze out the window. 

__________

If life can’t be this way–lush green grass, all white walls, clean dark hardwoods, no dust anywhere, then…I’ll have none of it. 

If we can’t be on the same team, if we can’t make plans and goals, if I can’t be your cattle prod…if you can’t be mine, then what’s the point? What are we doing here?

Juice is sweet and sugary. Babies love juice. They can drink so much. But then it ferments. Wine is good. It’s fun. Good for laughs. Wine becomes vinegar. And that’s the best. Sour and powerful and useful. Potent. 

If you don’t love vinegar, go get juice then. Go have wine. 

I am vinegar. But not old. 

I will never be old. 

I was born to be a kid. 

I was born to be a kid. 

I suck at being adult. I want to say yes to everything everyone wants, and I say yes to way more than I should. Adults say no. And they save and they plan and they have stocks and shit. Not me. 

I hate paying bills. I paid them last month. And the month before. I don’t want to pay them anymore. Someone else do it. 

I hate cleaning my house. If you like me, if we are friends, then you are going to have to accept that I’m going to stop cleaning. Let’s just see who can hack it as my friend through that. 

Maybe after a few years you can all get together and get me on Hoarders. I will start collecting cats now. 

I hate driving a dented minivan that is falling apart in every way. I hate having patience to take a full minute to close the “automatic” power doors that are all off kilter and screwed up from living on a hill. 

I hate living in an old house at the bottom of a hill. I hate rain that slides down the driveway toward my garage. I hate the 854 trees that crap all their needles and leaves and pollen and seedy things ALL over everything. 

I hate leaky pipes and wet sheetrock and peeling paint and stacks of paper and dust and moldy tile and dark spots on the light carpet. What the hell are those dark spots?

I hate going to the grocery store. I went yesterday and two days ago and last week and all the damn time. Stop eating the food. Stop using every kind of every soap. Soap for the hair, soap for the hands, soap for the floor, soap for the clothes. 

I hate driving to 600 places every day for all 600 kids. I hate driving on hills and narrow roads and around 500 twisty curves. I hate trying to remember everywhere I have to go. Every $5 for this and $10 for that. 

I hate eating right. I want to have cake and ice cream and soda for supper. And I want to look and feel amazing when I eat that. I want that to make me stay thin and energetic like it did when I was a kid. 

I hate brushing my hair. I hate putting makeup on. I hate clothes. I hate washing them, putting them in all their little receptacle homes, going through them to get rid of some. I really hate the stupid clothes that won’t fit. If I tuck my fat into you, accept it and keep it inside…stop spitting it back out. 

I hate finding time to read my Bible daily for 15 minutes. Which is probably why I’m almost a month behind. Which is probably why my attitude is so horrible in this moment. 

This is my 3rd year to read all the way through the Bible (takes only 12-15 minutes), but you know what? I’m not going to lie…a lot of it, I’m like WTH?? This is some BS. So much violence and whoring around. Sorry, but am I supposed to pretend all that’s not in there?

If you drink, if you do drugs, if you cheat, if you eat too much or cry too much, if you wanted an escape. I don’t hate you. And I get it. I know why. You know? Maybe some people hate you. They hate me too. But I get it. 

It won’t work. Not for me. Not for you. It’s not the answer. And we both know it. But I get it, okay? Life is hard. Being an adult sucks. 

Okay, I’m good now. I love everything again. 

Jason sold 454 items. 

Jason sold 454 items. 

There was always that one kid, and it was never me. 

It didn’t matter what the competition medium was at Belle Point Elementary. It could be collecting old phone books, selling candy bars, a canned food drive for the homeless, Christmas wrapping paper…

I was the kid who scrounged around for change to buy 2 chocolate bars for myself, and then had to turn in an almost full box. Sorry. I just…that’s all I sold, and…yeah. 

I usually got to pick some kind of Chinese finger trap or kazoo or plastic flipping frog for my efforts. Well, all right. That’ll do for me. 

But there would be this one kid in class, and it would sound like such a lie.

“I sold 454 items. I’m getting…the Gameboy.”

“Yah, right.”

And somehow, he had. And I’m thinking–this kid can’t motivate himself to study enough to score over a 68 on our weekly spelling tests, and…wth? He can sell a square foot of wrapping paper for $16…454 times?

Okay, go on with your bad self then. I ain’t mad atcha. 

“My uncle Bob is bringing all the phone books I collected to school for me later. He is driving his full-size pickup with a trailer attached, all full of phone books. I collected 768. Our classroom will be getting the pizza party, don’t worry. Miss Napier’s class thinks they are getting it. Hahaha…no.”

“Yah right. Seriously? Where did you get that many phone books?!” I had brought 4, 2 from my own house…including the current one that my mom has been looking for angrily. Shhhhh. 

And it doesn’t matter what someone is selling. I’ll buy one thing from you once, but don’t come at me crazy; I will do crazy back. And joining you in the selling of it? Um…no, never. I’m sorry. I know myself. It’s just not going to be my thing ever. It’s just not. I’ll get the kazoo. 

It could be jewelry or face care products or children’s books or Tupperware, or makeup. It could be vitamins or cookware or local phone service. I don’t care which one. I will buy one thing for $8-12 once. That is all.

For whatever reason, I appear to have the necessary traits to be a seller, and everyone asks me. Everyone. Everyone. You are not the first person to think I should sell stuff. Probably because I’m pretty loud and sorta funny sometimes. Maybe people are envisioning–yes, she would sell the shit out of this stuff. You’re wrong; I wouldn’t; it’s not me. 

I wish you the best in the world, and I’ll buy one thing from you, once ever. And I’ll be clapping and cheering on the sidelines. I hope you get your Uncle Bob to bring a semi-truck full of phone books. I truly do. 

But me? No, no. Not me. Y’all go ahead. If you’re selling chocolate bars, I’ll even buy a few, but…

Hey…oh yeah. Hey, there’s this kid I went to elementary school with, and he’s your guy. He is your guy. Unstoppable combo. Find him