Glorious Chub

Glorious Chub

When did I love you less? Never. 

How many times have I stretched a baby sock over a freshly lotioned, plump pink baby calf? With four older sisters, Rebekah, you know it was many, many, many times. 

I would circle my finger around inside your little sock. It gapped so drastically. Rubbing the tiny knob of your ankle, watching your soft skin roll and wrinkle as I easily slipped the sock back off, I would kiss your long thin toes as they curled onto and gripped my finger.  

A long, skinny 5lbs and 10oz, I usually dressed you in long-sleeved, footed outfits or in many layers, not because I was ever ashamed of you; please know that it was never that, but because I wanted to protect you from any raised eyebrows, from whispers of concern, from tight-lipped smiles, from critical eyes. People can be cruel. 

Your wide eyes were glazed with fatigue at times, not always, but even once a week was too much. You fought sleep  sometimes, even when we knew you were exhausted. 

You will never know how many hours your dad would patiently rock you, slowly massaging, warmly snuggling, securely pressing you into his safe chest. Hours and hours, leaving his hand in your crib with you because you would wake if he tried to sneak away. Your strong, delicate fingers wrapped tightly around his thick finger, but he cannot deny that he was the one who was wrapped. 

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You slap my face with your chubby hands, throw your head back smiling, then head butt me as you pull my head toward you, slobbering all over my face as you cover  me with the messiest, sweetest kisses.

In two days, you will be 9 months old, and this morning while I watched you laugh as you splashed water onto your fat face in the bathtub, I decided I needed to weigh you again. 

Whoa…19.1 lbs of glorious chub, I was elated to see that. But just so we are clear–this scale has never weighed, and could never weigh, my love for you or your worth as a baby. 

You are so curious about Audrey’s kitten Carly, and she is curious to know you too.

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 Morning babies, playing hard.


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YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY GIRL!!





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Vacation: I cannot feel my brain right now. Does that mean I’m relaxed?

Vacation: I cannot feel my brain right now. Does that mean I’m relaxed?

First off, I am grateful that we were able to go to Florida this week to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. And I’m so grateful that they agreed to take Clara (2.5 year old) in their vehicle for the trip there and back (as we couldn’t fit all 9 of us in my van, only 8.) We had a lot of fun. We truly did. That said…

At the start of the trip, I sort of wanted to fast forward the two 12-13hr drives, but they weren’t THAT crazy. Well, I mean obviously they WERE, but we survived and would do it again–5000 bags including a giant luggage bag for the top of the van full of beach towels and boogie boards and other beach accessories, 12-13 hr drive in a minivan with 8 people in it, 5 teen/tweens ages 11-18, 2 adults, 1 infant, a giant cooler, 600 half sandwiches for lunch, 12 DVDs, 8000 drinks, labeled gallon ziplocs full of smaller ziplocs of snacks for each person. diapers galore, swimsuits and toothbrushes and hair supplies and I can’t even…

I could not even feel my brain the day we woke up super early to take the trip. So much preparation.

Life was especially grueling for myself and my own 3 older daughters during the “prepare for trip” process. Two days before takeoff, this includes moving every bit of furniture and scrubbing carpet stains, cleaning under beds and in closets, washing windows and baseboards, putting everything possible out of sight, cleaning the bathrooms, washing all clothes and putting them away, filling the van with things to donate…driving those things to the donation place. All while keeping up with my toddler and infant and everyone’s food and drink and shower needs. 

Then the DAY before takeoff, my older 3 girls spent time cleaning the van–bagging up trash, bagging up toys, bagging up all unidentified objects, removing every hair accessory and stroller and item that has gathered, scrubbing and vacuuming the carpet and mats, using Armour all on everything, washing the van  windows.

Then we also had to make a detailed list to buy snacks and drinks…$112 worth, but that’s 8 people…trip there and home including lunch. Compared to impulsively buying snacks at convenience stores for $15000 total, it was a good plan. 

The process I used was pretty much more stressful and involved than being an air traffic controller. And maybe next big trip I won’t be so accommodating. No one likes the same things, but I like to try my best to buy bulk generic. These are two opposing ideas. We had to make lists and charts to keep it straight who likes what. 

I bought enough turkey, hoagies, and cheese to make up PLENTY of half-hoagie sandwiches. That was about the only “good food” in the van for 13 hours. 

I also bought three big bags of chips (Funyuns, crunchy Cheetos, dill pickle Lays), 4 different kinds of M&Ms (pretzel, peanut butter, crispy, peanut), 3 kinds of granola bars , gummy snacks, crunch and munch, Chex mix, 2 kinds of twizzlers, bottled waters, Monsters, two kinds of soda, coconut waters, Goldfish, sour Trolli worms, Whoppers, cheezits…I can’t even remember if that’s all. And no, I’m not interested in discussing the sugar, oil, sodium, or calorie content of any of it. 

We label each big ziploc with our name. And fill it with small ziploc bags of chips and cookies and crackers. Everyone gets PLENTY

And this list doesn’t even include the list of ingredients needed to make enough of Rebekah’s homemade goat milk formula for the entire trip–goat kefir, coconut water, goat milk, flax oil, nutritional yeast. Don’t forget her thyroid medicine, measuring spoons for everything, insulated bag full of bottles, and…

Why do we ever leave the house again???

I know what’s going to happen on a vacation, and I do my best to think out every angle beforehand. It is best and it is cheaper in a long run and it is more fun…to give every older kid (that’s five kids ages 11-18 in our family) $40 each in cash before we ever leave the house. So I did that too. 

And I give a speech–“I don’t like to have to remember who has spent what at which gas station or coffee shop or souvenir tshirt store. I don’t like to have to say no every 30 minutes. And I certainly can’t afford to say yes to everything. And…you all are old enough to make your own choices about budgeting this money. You are not required to spend it; you can keep it and put it in your savings (that’s Hazel). You will be fed meals and snacks and drinks. You can spend it all on the first day. It’s yours. 

I don’t want to hear anyone criticizing their sibling’s choice about spending. And if you choose to spend it all in the first day, I will only say–that’s fine. But when you find something else on day 2, on day 3, 4 or 5…don’t ask. You will survive. 

If you want a $6 Starbucks drink, get it. If you want a $25 tshirt because it’s so much cuter than the $8 ones, go for it. If you want a $5 ice cream cone or a $4 piece of gum, okay…up to you. Don’t ask me, ask yourself.”

And it works out well. Very well. We stay at a condo, so we cook breakfast and lunch and sometimes even dinner. Biscuits and gravy, giant cinnamon rolls, eggs and bacon, cereal and granola bars, bananas…I love big breakfast with everyone before hitting the beach..and we usually ALL made it out there by 8:30-9am and stayed til lunch. Usually sandwiches and chips and cookies for lunch, and occasionally some leftovers.  Meals are covered. 

We have found that condos are a much better option for us than hotels–so much more room, a full kitchen to cook instead of eating out for every meal, a washer and dryer, and you can usually split the cost fairly well between adult couples (who get the bedrooms), and kids pile up on air mattresses and foldouts and pallets in the living room (and this condo had a third bedroom with two sets of bunk beds too. 

Gas is a pretty predictable expense. And snacks that are divided up and given to each family member (good for teaching them to budget their own allotment). We also bought a big box of small ice cream cones and the kids all ate one every night. If you are ever looking for ideas to have lots of stress-free fun BUT ALSO save money on a family vacation, talk to a mom in a BIG family. 

Our condo had a private pool and our older kids went night-swimming in it every night, until…I don’t know or care what hour. It was about a 2-minute walk to the beach from the condo, too…and we went 2-3 times a day…sometimes to watch the sunrise and just walk, sometimes to watch the sunset, sometimes  late at night to collect shells, and at least once daily for 2-3 hours to layout, play in the sand, watch the kids on their boogie board said, etc.

We brought Phase-10 cards, a deck of regular cards, there was a tv with Netflix, every kid has a smart phone. There’s a free trolley in Pensacola that takes you to the boardwalk area, and we took that on two separate days. There’s a cool, free air naval museum on where kids can climb into several planes, and we did that too. It’s $1.25 a person to walk out onto the LONNNNG pier, abs we did that two nights. We saw several dolphins, some sharks, lots of people catching marlins and other fish. There were loud cover bands playing at the beach right next to the pier as we walked around watching the sun set. One night, there was a huge crane or stork or some bird that just walked around at the end of the pier, not the least afraid of humans; the fisherman would throw him a fish occasionally, and Clara (all of us really) were fascinated with watching him swallow it whole. Entertainment was pretty much covered. 
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But this past few days of vacation got me thinking about so many things. You truly find out what your family is made of during a vacation.

 
Yes, it’s about fun and having time to relax, it’s about the beach and quality time and memories…but there’s SO much preparation and so many life skills that are necessary to help the vacation be successful and even just survivable.

I tend to be very hard on my own daughters, and I hold them to very high standards of competence in so many areas–laundry, cooking, budgeting, cleaning, using the Internet to access information (like maps and schedules), cleaning a house and van top to bottom, picking up after yourself, loading a dishwasher, basics of watching a baby…and a toddler, personal hygiene, independence in public places, following simple directions, having a good attitude, apologizing when you make mistakes, forgiving others when someone apologizes. 

Forgiving me. Yes especially that. 

Did I yell during the trip? Was I tired? Did I get overwhelmed? Did I cry? Did I feel frizzy-headed and dehydrated and bloated and grouchy at times? Did I ask for lots of extra help? Yes, yes, yes, yes…all of it, yes. 

I have to force myself to stop and look at our life as a spectator. Am I being fair to everyone? Is the workload pretty even among family members–biological and blended? Who disappears when work duties are being assigned? Who does things without being asked? Who “forgets” to clean up after themselves? Who acts helpless? Who has a good attitude? What life skills are reasonable for what ages? What do I need to do as a parent to positively help each different child learn the life lessons that they are lacking…not to make them feel bad that they can’t load a dishwasher correctly or can’t see a mess they left behind or can’t change a diaper…no. You know what you know. But you can learn more, and that’s good for you…to become successful adults.

Do you have what it takes to survive a vacation? Do your kids? Does your marriage? 24 hours a day every day of vacation? Will every bit of preparation effort ensure that everything will be perfect the entire trip?

No. It won’t be perfect by everyone’s definition. But with plenty of kindness, hard work, love, grace, bitten tongues, and forgiveness…it can be your perfect vacation. 

And it was. 





Edge

Edge

I don’t sleep well. Probably 4-5 nights in a week, I only sleep 5-6 hours each night. And no, I don’t want pills; I want peace again. 

“Be anxious for nothing.” I know the verse. I understand its meaning. Do I live it? Knowing it…understanding its truth…living it. The miles between. 

Did you have to learn Bloom’s taxonomy in school? Or the steps of critical thinking? I learned about it in our school’s gifted program. I think about each level sometimes, think about where I allow myself to get stuck on an endless treadmill of digression…and why. 

God…why?


Do I overthink? Yes. Do I worry too much? Yes. Do I think that…if I think long enough that I will find the solution, that I will find peace? Yes, I often think that I will. Is it true? No, it’s not true. 

I will find…more information, more definitions to learn, more ideas to understand, more possibilities to consider, more reasons to worry. That’s what I’ll find. 

There’s no peace there crying on the edge of a bed, not sleeping. There’s no joy. There’s no love. There’s no worthwhile lesson. There’s no rest for the weary soul, the aching brain, the burning eyes. 

Why cry a prayer in your heart if you don’t quiet yourself long enough to hear the gentle response? Why scream it in your mind?

God isn’t my servant. I am not His petulant toddler…or well, maybe I am. But He doesn’t exist to cater to my demands. He has the answers. But I guess I’ll never hear them if I’m stomping and rebellious. 

I understand. I see my own toddler throw tantrums daily, and I understand how this relationship works. I say to my own toddler–“You can just sit there until you will listen to your parent, and I will wait until you are ready.”

It doesn’t matter what you know if you don’t understand it, if you don’t live it. 

The wisdom of men is foolishness to God. Even the smartest man on Earth. He takes the wise in their own conceit, confounds them. 

Help me be simple. And gentle. Please bring me your peace that no man can understand. 

Psalm‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬–

“Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”

Philippians‬ ‭4:4-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬–

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Two minutes with a Toddler: Chocolate Milk, Anatomy of a Tantrum (with video)

Two minutes with a Toddler: Chocolate Milk, Anatomy of a Tantrum (with video)

She’s sweet, she’s sour. This is the full tantrum (video at bottom of blog). She’s gotten faster at getting back on track. She’s even had a few that were much faster than this one. And she has DEFINITELY had longer tantrums. 

Toddler wants chocolate milk: let’s break it down. Every tantrum, every fight at our house can be divided into these same parts–unacceptable behavior, gentle chance, a firm and predictable punishment, an apology, forgiveness, makeup. 

That’s it. It can be over that easily. You know…in theory. 

Part one–Unacceptable Behavior I didn’t get it all on video. She just woke from a nap and demanded chocolate milk in the her whiniest voice ever. No. Not a chance that I will reward that. 

Part two–Gentle Chance I explain how she’s acting and give her a chance to change her mind quickly. Sometimes it’s over RIGHT then, and we skip part three. Other times, part three is the longest step…her choice. 

Part three–Clear Punishment (or Consequences) If she chooses not to change her behavior, she will be punished–go sit on the couch. She tested me because I was filming, and she will usually test me if someone else is here as her audience…or if we are in public. 

Ideally, and theoretically, she gets ONE chance to obey. And if her mouth or body language “tell me no,” then I will go pick her up and put her on the couch. That’s “yes.” 

(But to be honest, I don’t always get up when she doesn’t obey the first time…as you see in the video. But if I’m making eye contact and I’ve told her TWICE, and she disobeys a second time…I will get up. Trust me. 

I have had to place her on the couch many times. I’ve had to catch her trying to run off as many as 12…possibly 20 times in a row, and I sit her back down, and back down, and back down…until she stays. 

Part four–An Apology She knows when she can get up. All she has to do is say, “I’m sorry.” This particular time, she chose to say it quickly. Cool. Fine by me. 

I have done things like set a timer for 5 minutes and ignore her until it goes off, and then give her the opportunity to apologize or sit longer. 

Clara is 2 years and 9 months now. She doesn’t usually need a full 5 minutes to change her behavior. Sometimes she chooses to take that long, but not often anymore. 

I learned a long time ago with toddlers–give them a choice, and make sure YOU are fine with either option. Example–Get yourself dressed in the next 5 minutes…or wear your pajamas to the store. It won’t embarrass me. 

Apologize…or sit there. Either way, I’m fine. 

Part five–Forgiveness I have a long list of personal habits that I hope my daughters don’t remember or learn. If they only remember one thing about growing up with me, I hope they remember my capacity to forgive. 

For practice with my toddlers and children, this is an unskippable step. And under my rule, unforgiveness will often get a punishment. 

Definitely at least a lecture–unforgiveness is your biggest character flaw, _______ (insert name). You need to learn not to do that, especially to your sisters. 

Part five–Makeup Remember it enough to learn from it, forget it enough to move on.  Making up usually looks like a hug at my house.

Forgiveness can be that quick with adults, too, but usually isn’t. 

As adults, we often get hurt by grudges, judgment, moral superiority, scoffs, repeated mistakes, jabs, criticism, gossip. But to be hurt, we have to consent to allow any of those reactions to hurt us, which has been an incredibly liberating realization for me. We don’t have to be hurt. 

Probably why I get along better with kids, and probably always will. I prefer their simplicity. 

Balance

Balance

So I saw a friend’s Facebook status yesterday about how she had a seat on an airplane next to a baby and a toddler. And she referred to this as her personal hell.

We talked a little, and she mentioned that she feels anxious around kids. And she also mentioned that she has been told by parents that she “doesn’t understand” things because she doesn’t have kids. 

So I took all that in, and I truly feel that I understand every feeling she said she has regarding kids. That is, I understand as best as I can…as a stay-at-home mom who rarely flies anywhere, who only leaves the house weekly to teach six 45-min fitness classes, who mostly only has to interact with her own kids. 

But I think I “get” both sides. I do. 

As a parent of 5 daughters, I cannot tell you how much anxiety I have felt and do feel when I know I am going to have to be in an unavoidable situation when my babies and/or toddlers might do and say…only God knows what.

GOOD MOODS

Clara is 2yrs and 8months. I don’t accept that “terrible twos” is some unavoidable certain misery.  Kids understand way more than we give them credit for. And Clara and I figure it out together. 

At her young age, she understands the difference in using rude words and polite words. She knows how I expect her to talk to me AND TO ANYONE. She understands this 100%…I promise you.

Not every child grasps that, and I understand not every kid will understand that at the same time. But I hold her to a high standard of obedience and polite behavior because she DOES KNOW. At my house, she will behave, or she will not get what she wants from me.

We talk a lot about expectations when she is in a good mood. Not when she’s hungry, not when she’s tired…those aren’t the role-playing moments, those are the “let’s use what we learned moments.”

Sometimes the lesson works in the naughty moment…not always. 

PRIVATE BATTLES

Does she ever throw a toy at my head and scream, “I hate my nice words!!!!!”

Yes. 

And I scoop her up, put her butt in bed, and we can talk after your nap, Clara. Thank you. 

Do I ever give in? Do we ever negotiate? Does she ever flat out “win” our battles of will? Yes. And yes. And yes. 

But I am pretty firm and pretty stubborn, in a calm and quiet way. 

Sometimes, Clara and I make deals. She wants a red Popsicle; I ask her to eat a banana (or some turkey) first and then she can have one. 

She likes to watch the same shows over and over and over…and over. Sometimes I just let her. And sometimes I make her try something new. Negotiate.

Theory and practice…and utter exhaustion–hers and/or mine.

There are times I let go of my rules completely. I have let her climb into my bed in the middle of the night, and I just hold her. Even though I’ve asked her to please stay in her own bed and to go back to sleep on her own. It’s just…

I don’t pressure her to potty-train. I don’t and I won’t. She will let me know. I don’t believe she will be in diapers in kindergarten. 

I let her have a pacifier, and I don’t care…like even a little bit. I don’t care. If a stranger asks her/me–“Uh! When is she going to stop using that pacifier?!”

I just say–“Maybe never? Is that hard on you? Does it affect your life?” And eye contact is my favorite. People usually forget what else they want to say.

MORE PRIVATE BATTLES

It is a battle of wills, and I’ve found that the best approach is very calm, but very firm and very persistent. 

Watch any episode of Super Nanny to see it in action. I don’t think the parent should yell or spank hard. The key is control. Showing self control by example. 

You can’t do this every time, but I have had to do it at least once with every daughter–stay at it until you break them. Like a wild horse. 

“Your behavior is unacceptable; sit in that chair until I tell you that you can get up.”

And then–ignore. Go about your day happily. Talk to her siblings, talk aloud about everything you are doing, calmly and happily. 


If the child gets up, you say–sit down. If she doesn’t or if she screams no…you go get her and put her back down. That’s yes.

Repeat 1000 times. 

That’s it. Until the child apologizes or changes her attitude. That’s it. We can do this all day. You will not break Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller. 

It’s amazing what level of shrill scream and kicking that I have and can ignore. The rest of us can all play cards or watch a movie…and the “chair kid” is welcome to join us as soon as her attitude changes…or not. Her choice.

PUBLIC BATTLES

So when a child or baby is throwing a fit in public, it’s the parents’ fault 97% of the time. Usually some basic need (nap, meal, etc) has been ignored…sometimes it’s beyond the parent’s control. And sometimes the parent is shopping and ignoring.

But if every need is met, and the kid is just testing his limits. Let him know the limits, especially in public. People say–pick your battles. A public battle is a yes, every time. 

How the fit is handled is 100% within the parent’s control. I can understand a warning, maybe even a few…but after that, it’s “remove the child from public” time. 

I remember clearly a day in the store when Audrey was about 3 years old. She taught me a very important lesson, and I’ve used it since that day. 

I was in a hurry, grabbing this, grabbing that, and Audrey was sitting in the big part of the cart. Every time I stopped the cart to look for or grab something, she would stand up and act goofy. I don’t remember exactly what she was doing or saying, but it was funny and entertaining to everyone else in the store…except me, her mom in a hurry. 

I chuckled it off the first few times, and then I said–“Audrey, I want you to stay seated.” And I held the “I’m serious” eye contact for a few seconds. Audrey is hilarious, and sometimes she’s so funny that nothing penetrates her thick layer of natural comedy, nothing can extinguish her mischievous eye twinkle, and you have no idea what she will say or do next. 

So I stop the cart again, and sure enough…Audrey stands up and does a goofy dance or whatever she had been doing. I get her attention with a swat on the rear, “Audrey. Sit. Down.” Not a hard swat, I barely make pat-contact. It’s the act, not the force. An attention-getter. 

Audrey was mortified. When the other person on the aisle left, she asked me incredulously, “Why did you spank me?”

“Audrey…because you didn’t obey me.” Disobedience isn’t cute. 

“Well, that embarrassed me. And it hurt my feelings.” I can’t remember my oldest two daughters ever telling me they were embarrassed.

“Well…it embarrassed me that my daughter didn’t obey. Then people will think–oh she lets her kids do whatever they want.”

“You don’t have to spank me. Then everyone knows I’m in trouble.” She was truly hurt, sulking in the cart with her little arms folded. 

“What do you think I should do?” Kids have really, really good ideas. Ask them sometimes. 

“Just whisper to me and say I am embarrassing you.” Brilliant. 

And to this day, her brilliant 3-year-old brain idea has worked with 100% success (with my daughters 2.5 years and older). All I have ever had to do in public, is motion for them to come over to me, and lean in–

“I want you to stop behaving this way. You are embarrassing me. This is your private warning. Do you want me to embarrass you?” And they know they have a choice. You can see wheels turn, smell smoke. 

Kids have pride too. And they are brilliant. I have found that their punishment ideas are especially appropriate.

MORE PUBLIC BATTLES

I remember one time Margaret was maybe 18-20 months old. I was pregnant with Hazel. And who knows what went wrong but she started throwing a fit in public. 

Threw herself of the filthy mall floor, kicking and screaming. What to do?? I didn’t have our “timeout chair” with me! Plus…all these people were around to watch all this. 

A bribe?? Promise her chocolate? Um…heck no. A reward for this insane behavior? NO. But it crossed my mind, sure. 

I picked her up and put her on the mall bench, and I sat on the other end of the bench. Here? Now? This battle? Yes. 

It was an eternity before she stopped. Probably 5-7 minutes. She flipped herself over to her belly and attempted to flee at least  7 times. Nope. Even pregnant I could catch her, snag her back up, sit her back down. And wait. 

It’s tiring. But it’s worth it. 

CURIOUS BREED 

Kids are a curious breed…
Not exactly like a pet (well trained or poorly trained). But a lot like a pet.

Not exactly like an adult–they have no filter or need for social pleasantries. But in many ways, they are like adults.

For good or bad, I’ve always kept a good portion of my dialogue to kids as “adult words” (not cuss words, I mean not baby talk). A respectful conversation between equals.

…and a good portion of my interaction with kids involve “adult expectations.” Kids usually  understand way more than adults give them credit for, more than adults give them access to.

And within reason regarding their ages, they will behave and perform to whatever standard you hold them to. That’s the damn truth.

They have basic needs that require regular attendance… that’s the big one that parents try to stretch to limits. A toddler should not be expected to shop for 3-4 hours during his lunch and nap time; it’s going to be bad for all involved. 

That sounds a lot like humans of all ages. It is. 

Tiny Dancer

Tiny Dancer

UPDATE

Rebekah had her thyroid levels checked on Monday, June 6; she was 16 weeks exactly. She currently weighs 10lbs 13oz. (She weighed 8lbs 10oz at her 13 week appt). So her little body has really been doing good catching up on weight gain this past 3 weeks!

Her thyroid levels were pretty much the same as they were 3 weeks ago at 13 weeks. Her 16 week levels–

TSH 8.28 (it was 8.18 at 13wks, and 38.56 at 4wks old) (high is bad)

fT4 0.89 (it was 1.13 at 13 wks, and 1.21 at 4 weeks) (low is bad)

Her T3 level was never checked at any of these times. T4 converts to T3, so we will be asking the endo if all her levels can be checked. 

At 4 weeks, they wanted her to start synthroid and to get a radioactive thyroid scan. We chose not to at that time. After a series of very aggressive and threatening  phone calls from the nurse, we opted to move to a new pediatrician. And we were subsequently reported to DHS for child neglect. (Read more on that here and here).

Then after the results at 13 weeks, the new pediatrician (after consulting the endocrinologist) just wanted her levels checked again at 16 weeks (which we did Monday), and he set up a consultation with a pediatric endocrinologist in LR. No medication was prescribed at that time. 

Since Rebekah’s numbers at 16 weeks were pretty much the same as they were at 13 weeks, I kind of thought/hoped they would just want us to wait it out til June 30 (the endo appt).

However, the new pediatrician recommended she take synthroid until the endo appt, and then they will recheck levels again (she will be 19 weeks at that appt).

Keith and I talked it over, and we decided to start it. Not that we don’t have reservations, not that we won’t contact the doctor if she has bad side effects (loses weight, stops eating well, won’t sleep etc). I made a chart, and for the next 3 weeks, we are going to continue to track her progress in several areas (ounces consumed, pees, poops, sleep schedule, temperature, weight, and any other changes), and we will note the changes–good or bad. 

We are a team, Keith and I and our children. We disagree at times; we state our reasons; we talk it out; we make a united choice. A team. 

I won’t lie–it is my hope that Rebekah will be weaned off this synthetic hormone and that her natural thyroid will continue to improve on its own.

THE PROCESS

She took her first pill today, 25mcg daily. She weighs only 10lbs, so compared to adult dosing based on adult weights…this dosage sounded high to me for a 10lb baby. But we are going to see how it goes. 

We had to crush the tablet into a powder and mix it with water and use a syringe. It is supposed to be given on an empty stomach, and no foods with calcium or iron for 4 hours after.

So that was certainly hard to work out with a baby who eats only milk which is full of calcium.

She went to bed at 9pm last night; we went to bed around 10:30pm. She woke at 1:20am for a feeding. Then we woke her at 3am to feed her as much milk as possible, then we woke her again at 5am to give medicine only, then she woke at 7am hungry. Who needs sleep?

The pharmacist said to just try to do that…space it in between feedings…where her stomach will be empty from the previous feeding, and can stay empty as long as possible (even if she can’t make it 4 hours).

She eats every 2-3hrs during the day, so I do think this schedule will be the best–taking the med super early in the morning. A midpoint time between big feedings. Not easy though. 

HARD SCIENCE

We still have reservations about this entire diagnosis, treatment recommendations…all of it. 

Most health issues have standardized levels for things–what’s considered high blood pressure, what’s considered high cholesterol, etc. 

For congenital hypothyroidism, there is a different “normal range” for infants at every different lab, every different hospital, every different state. It’s insane. 

Most charts consider age to be a factor, but barely any charts consider weight as a factor. This is “hard science,” how? 

Why so many charts and ranges at all these different hospitals? Is there no consensus?

Also, Rebekah’s low birth weight, the fact that her cord attachment was velamentous (so she was likely IUGR)…none of these factors were taken into consideration when comparing her blood concentration and/or thyroid levels to “normal ranges” of average weight babies. 

Should IUGR, SGA, premature, and/or low birthweight babies be compared to the ranges of average sized newborns? Their blood concentrations are different. As I found in my reading, these exact questions divide the experts’ opinions on treating mild congenital hypothyroidism. (See my other blogs about Rebekah for links to these articles).

MENTAL RETARDATION

From my reading, the babies born with severe congenital hypothyroidism have TSH around 750-1000, and yes, those cases can lead to mental retardation if left untreated. And I read those cases usually lead to mental retardation even when they ARE treated, and even when they are treated early

But I never saw ANYthing suggesting a case of TSH of 8 ever leading to brain issues (or even untreated TSH of 38). Not whatsoever, and I’ve been reading like an obsessive nut. Did anyone find information on mild, untreated CH cases leading to brain damage?

So I reeeeally take issue with the nurse at the first pediatrician basically screaming BRAIN DAMAGE at us on the phone 3 different times, over and over. I really take issue with her/them reporting us to DHS as neglectful parents. 

Maybe this is protocol behavior? Is it? If so, then I take issue with this fear-mongering, bullying protocol. Where do I campaign for it to be changed? 

The doctors use a vague statement “congenital hypothyroidism has been linked to mental retardation.” And that’s true…the severe cases (treated or not). What about the mild cases? 

People can be motivated with fear, or with facts and information, or with concern and compassion. And not all methods are equally effective on all people. 

We don’t respond well to bullying, never have…never will. We were never given specific facts, only vague, unsubstantiated claims/threats of brain damage. We aren’t motivated by bullying, even when bolstered by ignorance. We received no kind guidance, concern, compassion, patience. 

I feel that too many factors are ignored, and that a blanket treatment approach is preferred (forced if possible) instead of monitoring levels a few times. 

REACHING OUR DECISION

I do know so many adult friends who have told me they take synthroid, and have no side effects or issues. Adults who have finished their brain development, don’t weigh 10-11lbs, aren’t 4 months old. Their skeletons are finished growing, they stay pretty much the same weight, they have gone through life’s major hormonal changes, such as puberty (and some even menopause).

It’s just…I know a body can become dependent on a synthetic hormone and then stop making its own natural hormone. 

We felt that her body needed to be given the chance to normalize on its own…and we did give her time, and her TSH did lower  considerably, and is in normal range on many charts. And her fT4 was never out of normal range, and still isn’t on many charts.

But then on the flip side of that, we decided that “abnormal” results on 4 tests in 16 weeks was enough to start the medication and then retest at 19 weeks. 

We observe her daily in “life’s laboratory” at our home. No we don’t chart and record every change, but we notice changes  (and we record many of them).

She isn’t a ball of numbers; she isn’t a stack of lab papers; she isn’t a diagnosis; she isn’t a statistic; she isn’t a blob of data. 

She’s a baby. Our baby. A precious life we value more than our own. 

She’s been gaining so well (finally in the 8th percentile); she’s so happy; she’s hitting milestones. She does have days when her eyes look tired, but less and less lately. 

Is there enough going “wrong” that she needs a daily medication (possibly for 3 years, possibly for life)? We didn’t really think so, but we will try it, record changes, and will not ignore anything. 

Siiiigh, one day at a time. 🙂

I’ll update after the endocrinologist appointment. 

Our little beauty, little miss tiny dancer

Things Moms Carry

Things Moms Carry

“Nooooo!!! I yant CHEETOS!!” They aren’t Cheetos, but there are no battles of logic with a 20-month-old. They are the grossest bag of generic weirdo-brand bacon cheddar hot fries that I’ve ever seen. 

“Let’s get…these chips…” I try quiet horse-whisper-bribery, which angers her further. 

“Nooooooo!” She squeezes the bag so hard with passionate angry-love, I do think the cellophane seal might pop. 

“Okay okay…release!” I finangle the bag from her grip. Her moist hands streak across the bag producing the syncopated stuttering of poorly strung bow. 

So we carry Tito’s acid-burp bacon chem-fries around the store. I say “we,” but I mean *I* carry them and I carry…Clara because she insisted on walking instead of riding in a cart but then got tired…and Clara’s giant baby doll because she couldn’t possibly leave her in the van…

Oh annnd…the other 7 items I collect while Keith waits with our cart on 8 deli employees to take 20-min to slice him 1-lb of roast beef…alternately speaking to each other about their break times, avoiding direct eye contact with customers, occasionally asking him if someone helped him, and forgetting what thickness he wanted. Holding up pieces of meat…this? Like this? How’s this slice? …and this one?

My bra is too tight, it is about 7:45pm, I am thinking–why did we wait so long before having supper? I am thinking–the minivan ride home is going to be horrendous with the defiant mood Clara is in. I am thinking–how am I going to sneak these laxative Cheetos out of her sight? I am thinking–what if we have to buy them and she eats them…and then digests them and then…!? I was thinking–Calgon!

I am thinking–

“You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” (On the Waterfront) <back of hand to forehead in dramatic pose> 

Then as I feel my bicep slowly sinking into the abyss of defeat, I feel Clara’s arms wrap around my head…she kisses my cheek a couple of times without me asking, “Love you…Mommy.”

Strength returns to my arm, to my heart. A life of purpose. 

Worth it. It’s all worth it.

…I didn’t buy them, and deep down I know she appreciates it.