Friday, March 28, 2014

I Use Hashtags

When adoption became our destiny in this life, I immediately felt the need to be perfect.  I mean, how else would we EVER get chosen if we didn't prove that we traveled, loved each other more than air, and promised to be the best parents that ever graced the planet?

After becoming a mother that persona stayed right along with me.  I followed every book and every doctor very strictly.  I gushed on our blog about our happily every after.  In all honesty I was grateful and in love with my life.  I remember Gregg and I fighting over who got to get Emme out of bed.  I loved when Emme would lay her head on Gregg's shoulder and my heart would melt and my teeth would grind from getting the squeezies.  I valued myself as a mother.

It has almost been a year since Emme was diagnosed and we became a special needs family.  I stared into space all day that day wondering what it would mean.  How would people take the news?  How would Emme be treated?  How am I going to fix this?

My perfect family dream was shattered.  Even then I had no idea the obstacles ahead.  I thought with continued therapy everything would eventually work itself out and Emme would become the first female president.  I slowly learned how wrong I was.

Soon, things like holding still for two minutes and coloring without eating the whole crayon became a celebratory event.

Somewhere along the lines a cold bitterness set in.  I was always worried about being judged and I compared myself to other moms like crazy.

Then one day (with the help of Emme's therapist) I stopped caring so much.  That's when I started this blog.  A new fresh outlook on my life.  One that was full of truth and not so much fluff.  A blog that didn't sugar coat.  I'll admit, I did worry about what my family, friends, and Emme's birth family would think.  So far most have been supportive and have sent sweet messages after a stressed out post.  Emme's birth family has been so understanding.  That has meant the world to me.  They know we love Emme and are doing our best.

Maybe it's letting go of unrealistic ideas or maybe I'm just getting older or maybe I'm just too dang tired, but I love my new uncaring attitude.

People aren't going to like where I live, the pictures I post on Instagram, my crappy writing skills, my opinions of Doterra Oils, or how I parent.  I mean, heaven forbid, I use HASHTAGS!!!  There will always be trolls (thanks Megan for that term) and they will be ready and waiting to cut you down.

I love that I have met so many great people experiencing similar life challenges because I decided to open up.  I can laugh with them, cry with them, and share fears with them that no one else understands.  They have kept me sane.

My cute cousin's daughter recently received a prestigious award and was on the news.  When giving advice to other students she said "don't be afraid to be dorky."  I love that.  We can use that advice no matter what age we are. Don't let the fear of looking dumb keep you from sharing your story.  You never know who you will help or the friends you will meet while looking like an idiot.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

He Will Send Angels

The week before Corbin was born my anxiety was at an all time high.  I was so nervous of what was to come.  There were so many what ifs.

What if "M" changes her mind?

What if Corbin's birth dad or his family hates us?

What if I can't handle two kids?

What if Emme freaks out even more?

What if? What if? What if?

I asked Gregg to give me a priesthood blessing of comfort the night before we left to get Corbin.  In it he promised that this little boy WOULD be joining our family and things would work out with the adoption.  He then advised me to not be afraid to seek help after I was a mother of two.  Most importantly, I needed to accept the help that was offered.  A task that is very hard for me to do.

About a year ago I had something I like to call a MOM DAY.  Emme was particularly out of control.   I don't remember much of the details, other than she would NOT take a nap and was very over stimulated.  I'm sure I had been hit, kicked, spit at, and gotten hair ripped out.  I NEEDED her to sleep so I could refresh a little.  At that point she was still in a crib and not climbing out of it, which was a miracle in and of it self.  When I put her down for a nap that day she became a caged animal flailing and screaming and throwing.  I eventually tried rocking her, but she just slapped and head butted me so I'd put her back in her crib.  After hours of this I completely had a mental break down.  I dramatically fell on my bed and did the ugly cry while I could hear Emme flipping out in her crib.  I pleaded in a prayer that He would send help.  I was teaching a lesson the next Sunday in Young Women about Heavenly Father sending help through others when we really needed it.  I remember thinking "Where is my help?"  I sobbed and sobbed and some where along the way I fell asleep out of exhaustion while Emme screamed and banged the wall in the room next door.

The next thing I remember was someone opening my bedroom door.  It makes me tear up even today just thinking about it.  I saw that it was my husband and then quickly checked the clock thinking "did I really sleep that long?"  It was hours before he was supposed to be home and I was so confused.  He told me something about a meeting, no lunch, and getting to come home early.  That has NEVER happened.  I don't recall him ever coming home way early without it being in his work schedule well in advance.  He could see I was in distress and I told him it had not been a good day.  He told me to go back to sleep and that he would take care of everything.  Emme had fallen asleep somewhere along the way and I returned to my slumber knowing he was home to carry the weight when she woke up.  I taught my lesson in confidence that Heavenly Father does indeed send help when needed.

There have been many times where I could use outside help or even just some super hero sized patience during my time parenting Emme, and none has come.  Then there have been times when all hope is lost and I'm at the point of desperation where help has showed up out of the blue.  I'm not sure the difference.  Each time seems pretty unbearable to me yet sometimes I am sent help and others I am not.  I can only believe that in some moments I am meant to be polished and changed and others I am shown that I am not alone and yes, He will help lift my burdens.

Last week was one of the hardest in my life.  I watched a dear friend lay her sweet baby boy to rest.  The heartache was something I can't describe.  I wish I could take away some of her pain, but I know I can't.  Instead I just held her and cried with her.  There is a whole post coming about the experience.  Throughout it all I was dealing with the news that my dad had colon cancer.  He had surgery on Thursday to remove the cancer and we were all on edge wondering if it had spread.  Thank goodness from what they can tell before testing it hasn't.  Needless to say, my emotions were rail thin.

Due to work, a Dr. appt, and these big events I had to find babysitters for five different occasions.  An almost impossible task.  Thankfully, I was being watched over and the Lord sent His earthly angels to help me.

Four beautiful women came to my aid last week and said yes to watching my children without hesitation.  Each one of them have major things happening in their lives right now that I wasn't aware of until later, but they took my kids in regardless and without complaint.  My sweet cousin who lives 45min away brought her whole family to my house to watch my kids while I attended the viewing.  She even took work off to play the piano for me while I sang at the funeral.  Come to find out she has a major medical issue going on right now, yet she didn't even bring it up.  She knew I needed her and she came.  Her name kept popping into my head every time I tried to think of who could accompany me.  The Lord knew she would obey and she did.

The day after my dad's surgery I really wanted to spend time at the hospital.  I saw my dad for a little bit the day before, but he was still groggy.  Plus, I wanted to make sure my mom was able to have relief and change her clothes and shower from spending the night at the hospital.  I asked a few people to watch my kids but, they already had other obligations.  I cried and felt sorry for myself that I couldn't be there, but I had already used my go to friends enough and I couldn't bother them again.  A little while later, I received a message from a new friend that I had met through the adoption community.  She had text me earlier in the week to see what she could do, but at that time I didn't need anything.  She once again sent, "How can I help you?"  Not, call me if you need anything, but how can I help?  I text her and asked if she'd be willing to watch my kids that day and she immediately responded with, "when are you bringing them over?"  Corbin cried almost the whole time for her and yet she was always so positive and told me not to worry.

The other two women were just as amazing.  One offered to help even though she already had two extra kids and had mine twice already.  The other was selling her house and had to gather up three sleeping children last minute to accommodate a showing.

What wonderful examples to me.  They had every reason to tell me no, yet they didn't even hesitate to say yes.  I strive to be like them.

My brothers and sisters, we are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness—be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.   President Thomas S. Monson General Conference Oct. 2009

I needed those four women more than they will ever know.  The Lord depended on them and they came through.  It made me evaluate my own life.  Was I listening to the promptings of helping others or was I ignoring them?  Am I even getting promptings anymore or has the Lord given up on trying?

Most days I feel as though I'm barely surviving.  I'm usually throwing a pity party for myself and not even thinking of others.  My goal is to be more like these women and less like myself.  Service is a little like sacrifice.  If it doesn't put us out of our comfort to do it then what are we really learning from it?

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there? 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What is Needed

"Emme, stop poking Corbin!" 

"Don't eat your boogers!"

"No, you can't have more candy!" 

Emme, along with most kids with ADHD, does not have a pause button.  Her pyschiatrist explained it perfectly when she said Emme is like a car whose motor never turns off.  Words like stop, don't, and no are impossible for her.  How can you halt something that never stops moving?  Easy. You can't. 

Instead she said to tell her what you want her to do. 

"Emme, keep you arms to your side when you talk to Corbin."

"Boogers belong in tissues, not our bellies. Do you need a Kleenex?"

"When you go potty in the toilet you can have another piece of candy."  

Make sense?  

I'll be honest.  Cutting out these words has not kept Emme from throwing huge temper tantrums nor has it stopped her from mauling Corbin, but once in a blue moon she will obey for a couple seconds and then I congratulate her on listening so good to mommy.  She usually responds with "yeah, I'm not making Corbin cry mom!"  "I'm a good girl!"  Yes you are. 

Her pyschiatrist warned me that I would see little results from my new vocabulary.  She said to just keep doing it and eventually it will stick. A child without ADHD has to hear something three times before they understand and it is engrained in their minds.  A child with ADHD has to hear something 1000 times!  Yes, I meant to put 3 zeros there.  It sounds completely absurd, but so true at the same time. I can count on one hand where Emme has obeyed the first or even the third time I've asked her to quit doing something.  It usually takes physical reinforcement. I don't mean physical as in spanking, but actually removing her from the situation or removing whatever object she is not using appropriately.  Corbin also being one of those situations. 

Emme knows all the rules and can recite them by memory. Obeying them is a completely different story. 

 "Ems, if you go and talk to Corbin what are the rules?"  

"Be soft and keep my hands to myself."

Not two seconds later Corbin is usually in a choke hold and crying.  Poor baby.  I'll admit that it is an internal struggle not to freak out at times like this.  For heavens sake child, you just told me the rules!  She is just not capable. Something that is so frustrating to me, but that I am kindly reminded of by her therapist and psychiatrist every time we go.  Our hopes are that she will eventually be able to have self control. She IS only three and self control can be a tough task to accomplish at that age anyway. 

While visiting with her psychiatrist I told her that one reason I was having such a hard time was because I am so different than Emme. I'm seriously lazy. I could watch a whole marathon of tv shows in a row and Emme is only capable of getting through a few minutes before she's off doing something else. By the way I totally realize how lame of me this was to say. 

Dr. H looked at me straight in the eye and said, "Most of the time our children are different than us. They can change us into a whole new person than we were before and that's not always a bad thing." 
That has stayed with me ever since.  Am I a better person now that I'm a mother?  I don't always feel like it. Exhausted? Yes. Stressed out? Yes. Constantly worried about the future?  Oh yes. But am I better?  

The more I thought about it the more I realized I have many qualities I didn't before motherhood.  

I care less about what people think about me.
I'm less timid.
I know what unconditional love feels like. 
I have more empathy towards others. 
I've learned how to forgive multiple times a day.
I have moments where I show insurmountable amounts of patience. Although I'm still working on that one.  

Could it be possible that I'm starting to become who Heavenly Father wants me to be? 

Are the days when I'm completely broken and alone teaching me to rely on The Lord? 

"Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain." Richard G. Scott Nov 1995 Trust in The Lord

In the years and years of waiting to become a mother I admit I mostly thought of myself. "Why don't I deserve children?"  "I can't wait to hold a baby that calls me mom."  "I will be the most patient loving parent ever." "When is it MY turn to experience the joy motherhood brings."  I, I, I, Me, Me, Me!!!

Of course I thought about my future baby, but to be honest I really only day dreamed about the fun times.  I knew there would be moments that weren't very pleasant, but I wasn't very concerned and figured I would know what to do when the time came. 

Naive little girl. 

Recently, I was excepted in the women's choir for Women's Conference in my church.  It's a big deal for us LDS ladies.  Women all over the world will be watching to get inspiration from our general authorities.  Over 12,000 applied and wouldn't you know that little old me made the cut. The first day of practice the choir committee told us that we were there because The Lord knew we needed to be and because we had something to learn from the experience. They told us to pray and figure out why we had been called. 

At the first practice the director addressed those who were given parts in the choir they wouldn't normally choose to sing.  Meaning, if you usually sing alto, but you were given soprano by mistake. Instead of having pure chaos with everyone trying to change parts she asked us to put faith in ourselves and do what is being asked of us.  She said in life there are many times we don't feel like doing a certain task, but we do it anyway because that's what is necessary and needed at the time. She used the example of changing a dirty diaper.  It's not what we look forward to in life, but we do it because it's what's needed. 

It may seem silly, but this simple lecture hit me hard. 

No mother WANTS to clean up a child who just had a blowout. Or in my case smeared poo all over their room. 
No mother WANTS to separate fighting children. 

No mother WANTS to go without sleep for months at a time or years for that matter. 

No mother WANTS to clean up throw up. 

Guess what though?  We have to. It's what is needed of us. It's what is asked of us. It's what our calling is.  And we do it because we love them. 

Motherhood really isn't about me. I don't get to be selfish. I have work to do.  I was sent two children from our Heavenly Father and I have a big responsibility.  And yes. It. Will. Eat. Me. Alive. At times. There will be days I can't sleep due to the unknown. I will have melt downs. I will hide in the pantry to sneak candy. I will forget to eat or eat way too much.  I will look forward to time away.  I will feel guilt and shame that I am totally screwing them up. I will be called names and told I'm hated.  Snippets of life I have already experienced in the three years I've been a mother.  

They are so loved by Gregg and I, but I'll be the first to admit parenting is so much harder than I ever thought it would be. Has anyone ever said it was easier though?  Probably not. 

I was called. I accepted. I am essential. 

One day my services will not be required.  This part of my life will feel like a flash of light yet it is such an important era. 

I learned a big lesson that night at choir practice which was, suck it up Lacey.  Do what is needed not what is wanted. 

You have work to do. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mother of Two Cont..

After Emme started school I still had moments of  "How am I going to do this?"  But, I also started to  have a few moments of "I can do this."

In Oct, Corbin joined the world.  He was the most handsome baby boy I had ever laid eyes on.  He proved to be the best newborn ever the first two weeks.  He was so sweet and never complained.

Then....we made it back from Idaho and Gregg immediately started back to school.  I was alone in the strange new world of being a mom of two.

Corbin started to become fussier and fussier as the days went on.  We switched his formula, but nothing changed. I tried probiotics, nothing changed.  It got to a point where he would eat an ounce or two and then just scream bloody murder for a couple hours.   Unlike Emme, he didn't really spit up, but apparently you can still have acid reflux without the vomit so we put him on some medication and changed his formula again. He finally started eating his whole bottle without screaming, but a few minutes after he was done eating he would start crying.  It didn't matter what I did or whether I held him or not.  He could not be comforted.  Gregg mentioned colic and few times and I immediately snapped at him.  It's not colic!  I just have to figure out his reflux!

Emme was on the rampage.  She loves babies so much, but she has no control over her need to squeeze and shake them.  If Corbin is in the room with her she runs to him like a moth to the flame.  Her body NEEDS to touch him and touch him hard in order to fulfill her sensory needs.  Putting Corbin down while they were both awake was not an option.  I have no doubt in my mind that she would have seriously hurt him.  She stopped napping despite my desperate prayers to please, please, please, just let her sleep today.

I felt so alone, because I was alone.  I started to become bitter towards Gregg simply because he was able to leave.  He didn't have to hear crying from Corbin or screaming from Emme All. Day. Long.  Emme stopped sleeping through the night so not only were we waking up with Corbin, but we also had to figure out how to get an overstimulated child back to sleep.  Many nights she was awake for hours.  Add that to not napping and you have one very violent child and a very exhausted mom.

Every time I fed Corbin, Emme would try to attack him.  I had to hold her off with my foot while she went ballistic.  Then she would grab anything in her path and throw it at us.  She also threw chairs, smeared poo, kicked walls, and slammed doors over and over.  I put her in her room to calm down and she would completely destroy it.

We were a mess.  I was having daily melt downs.  Many times when Gregg got home from school I was already in bed drowning in my tears.  I finally admitted to him I didn't like being a mom. I loved my kids, but I was at a complete loss on how to parent them.  It wasn't for me.  It sounds so horrible and ungrateful to say that especially after all I went through to be a mom.  That alone was the main reason I didn't reach out to anyone about it.  I knew there were so many women waiting to be mothers and here I was dreading every new day.

One day I remember calling Gregg practically begging him to come home and help me.  The reality is he just couldn't.  If you miss one class in grad school you're pretty much done for.  I don't think his professor would be very understanding if Gregg explained he had to go home because his wife is a crappy mother.  (my words not his)

On top of it all Corbin has been sick his entire life.  He's had RSV, Bronchiolitis twice, and Croup.  The poor kid can't win.  It doesn't help that Emme licks him any chance she gets.  And yes, I have heard of Doterra for heaven's sake!

Slowly, things started to get better.  I finally admitted Corbin had Colic.  We started feeding him Liquid Gold,  got his reflux medication dose right and figured out he only sleeps if he's on his stomach.  Not all at once, but eventually he got happier and happier.  The last few weeks he's even ridden in his car seat without screaming.  I've actually ran a few errands with him in tow!  He now sleeps through the night consistently and wakes up cooing.  He always waits patiently while I set him down so I can help Emme.  I seriously love the begeezees out of that kid.  His smile is the sweetest thing in the world.  I feel so blessed to have him in my life. He still has his grumpy times in the evening, but I can handle that.  That's normal baby stuff.

Emme's therapist sent us to a psychiatrist who prescribed a medication for her.  It has changed our life.  I never knew how bad things really were until after she started medication.  I know many people will judge us for it, but all I can say is we had a lot of thought and prayer go into it and don't point a finger when you've never been through it.   Her way of life is so much better.  It's not a cure all and problems still arise, but she is now capable of so much more.   She finally potty trained which I was starting to think would never happen.  She can walk from point A to point B without getting distracted.  She naps!  She tells stories, she's funny, and her tantrums have gone way down.  It's not all rainbows and sunflowers, but it's so much better.  She is still Emme and I'm thankful for that.  I wouldn't want her a zombie.  I told her therapist I was falling in love with her all over again.

 I know admitting my child is on medication will open up a can of worms, but it's truth.  She had been in school for six months and therapy for eight with little improvement.  Her brain was keeping her from moving forward.  I'm so tired of seeing people post articles on Facebook about ADHD and Autism and how to cure or prevent them, when they have absolutely NO first hand experience.  It's so easy to say what you would do if you were in someone else's shoes.  Just because you haven't had a child with these disabilities doesn't mean you did something right not to be faced with it.  It just means your trials have come in different ways.  I hope you are shown more patience with your struggles than we are when our child is throwing a tantrum in public.  But I digress....

Life is better now.  I can see the light and look back on the darkness.  I have an angel in my ward that has helped me more than I could ever repay.  She knows who she is.  The Lord told her I needed help and she obeyed.  I hope to be like her one day.  Know that I love my kids and I am so thankful for them.  Without a doubt they were always meant to come to me as if I birthed them.  Adopting doesn't make parenting easier but, I really try to be the best I can for them.  It's taken me a long time to write this post because I didn't want to put out the wrong impression, but I felt strongly I needed to share my struggles in adding a second child.  I learned recently that it's not guilt I feel, but shame.  Shame for not being perfect and NO one is perfect.

 Here's to going forward being a not so perfect mom, but to striving to be pretty darn good one.