Woes of a Big Family

So I started this post a few days ago, then I was inspired by food allergies so I just put this aside. However after the day I had yesterday I feel like I need to reexamine my thoughts on this.

I’m used to receiving comments about having all boys. I’m even used to the snide looks or looks of shock but yesterday went above and beyond everything I’ve experienced.

We had a busy day of errands, definitely not how I wanted to spend our first official day of summer. We had an allergist appointment for my oldest son, R, because his allergist is leaving the practice. We had to get some money from Husband to pay bills and we had to go to speech therapy for C. Yesterday was what I love to refer to as “adulting”. I normally do my adulting with just the younger 2 but since it’s summer they all tagged along. The boys were really excellent in the waiting room. When we got called back, they all WALKED (gasp!) to the door and filed in, no fighting or arguing. I was really impressed with them. I was confident. I was thinking to myself “Heck yes! Let’s show them what a big family looks like!” and then a comment from a doctor came. He said “What is this a doctor’s office or a parade?” Excuse me?! I just did a half smile at him and lead the kids into the exam room but that comment stung something fierce. I was in shock that he actually said that, whether he was trying to be funny or not. Truth be told, he was more annoyed that we were walking in and in the way.

After we left the doctor (where I had more comments about the size of my family and having all boys) and had lunch we went to speech therapy. As we were quietly walking into the building a group of people were leaving. One woman counted out loud and said “Oh my goodness! 5  boys! I am so sorry. How horrible!” I didn’t even look at her. I just walked past, got on the elevator and tried to not cry. I received at least 3 more comments after that as we were sitting there waiting and in Walmart. However the last comment I received was how wonderful having boys is and how big of a blessing they are. I thanked her, through my tears, and said she was the first positive comment I’ve received all day.

I suppose 5 boys is intimidating. I suppose we look overwhelming when we walk in somewhere. I suppose people tend to forget their manners because they want to be witty or funny. Guess what? You’re not original. You’re not funny. You’re rude and offensive. My beautiful boys are standing there taking in every negative comment that’s been said. They hear it all. They start to ask me what’s wrong with being a boy. They want to know why people are so rude.

Why is this okay? What makes a perfect stranger thing it’s acceptable to make snide comments about children? Is it because they are children and they think they don’t understand? Is it because children don’t deserve the same respect? Let me clear the air for you.

  1. Yes I have 5 boys.
  2. Yes I know what causes that. It’s apparent we enjoy it.
  3. My uterine ongoings are none of your business.
  4. Yes my house is loud and there’s never a dull moment.
  5. No I don’t want to keep trying for that girl. You want to know what happens when we keep trying for “that girl”? I lose babies. 5 of them to be exact.
  6. Please don’t say how sorry you are that I do have 5 boys. They’re standing right there and taking it all in.
  7. Yes my hands are full but so is my heart. I have more love being showered on me than you could ever imagine.
  8. Every single one of my children are a blessing. Every. Single. One. They’ve shaped me into the woman I am.
  9. I’m not being silent because I’m a pushover. I’m being silent because I’m praying for strength or I’m praying for you because you’re being that rude.
  10. My boys think I’m the greatest woman who has ever walked the planet. They love me unconditionally and without fault. Be jealous.

 

If you ever see a big family in public, for the love of God, please don’t make a negative comment. If you ever see a family with all boys or all girls, please don’t try to be funny. I promise you they’ve heard it all before. If you see a mom struggling, don’t tell her how sorry you are or how her hands are full. A nice supportive comment means a lot more than a snide sarcastic one. Tell her what a great job she’s doing. Tell her that she’s an awesome mom. Tell her that she has a beautiful family. Be nice. Be supportive. I promise you she needs it.

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Life with Allergies

So I was literally in the middle of writing a blog when my internet ADD kicked in (seriously, though it happens) and I went to my Facebook tab and saw this article posted. Having anaphylactic children I clicked on it to read it, not expecting to have the reaction I had. I also clicked on this article as well because I wanted to read their official statement.

I am so angry and teared up. How can big companies get away with this? Granted, I don’t buy these crackers anyways because I figure if they make peanut butter crackers the cheese ones are produced on the same lines, BUT some parents do. Apparently these cheese crackers were completely peanut free and safe for peanut allergy kids to eat but they aren’t anymore. Oh wait, Kellogs is going to make ONE cheese cracker safe to eat after September. So they’re going to wait until September to make this change? So when you go to the store, you might get the safe crackers? You might not? Yeah not a chance I’m willing to take.

C (my EoE kiddo) is anaphylactic to peanuts, tree nuts and banana. Yes banana. Yes we found that one out the hard way complete with Epi-Pen administration and hospitalization. His peanut reactions start out as severe uncontrolled asthma, which is terrifying. He used to eat peanuts and peanut butter. He used to be able to be around it. Now he can’t. Now if he’s exposed he starts having a dry constant asthma cough. If I can’t get that under control it progresses to worse. He starts wheezing, he starts retracting. He starts having stridor. He starts having to use his neck muscles when he breathes. The only thing that helps this is Epi-Pen, steroids and albuterol. If I can’t get his reactions under control he could die. Do you know how terrifying that is as a mother? Do you know how terrifying it is to know that your kid could legit DIE if you don’t do the right treatment quick enough? What about if you are unsure if he’s been exposed? Is it bad asthma? Is it food allergy? The unknowns will drive you insane.

The time that he had the reaction to banana it took me 15 minutes from first exposure to Epi-Pen administration. I was alone in my house. It was spring break. He had NEVER shown reaction to banana before. He ate one and his eyes started itching and swelling. Then they turned red. This was when he came to me complaining about his eyes. It took me about 3 minutes to realize that he was having an allergic reaction.  Then his lips started swelling, and then his tongue and then his throat. I didn’t have his allergy pack with me because my husband took the van to work. By this time I was running around my house tearing it apart, looking for Benadryl. I found it and an Epi-Pen.  I was sobbing because I was terrified my son was going to die before an ambulance could get here. I called my husband while I had to stick our son with an expired (by like 2 months) Epi-Pen because it was all I had.

This isn’t a special snowflake thing. I realize that there are many other snacks my kids can eat. I realize that a huge corporation doesn’t owe me anything or owe allergy kids anything. I realize it’s MY responsibility to make sure that he eats things that are safe. I realize that. It’s exhausting to constantly worry. It’s exhausting to make sure that what he eats and what he’s around won’t kill him. It’s exhausting to worry about sending your son to school when you can’t be there to make sure he’s safe. It’s infuriating when other people don’t understand and are callous and think it’s not a huge deal to have peanuts around him.

Yes it is a big deal. No it’s not okay to have just one peanut butter sandwich or peanut butter cracker around him. No it’s not okay for him to sit next to someone who has had peanuts. It’s not okay. I’m not making it up. He has and will react. Kids do die from allergies so please respect my “no peanuts ever” rule.

Another Life Changer

5 boys. Wow.

Let’s laugh at me for a second. Growing up I was a girly girl, heck I still am. I don’t do dirt. I don’t do bugs. I just don’t. I don’t get out there and play football. I squeal and duck when a ball is thrown towards my face (I’ve gotten better, I promise!)  On top of that, I never wanted children. Never. Ever. Like hard no. And then God laughed and gave me 5 beautiful boys. These boys are exactly who and what I needed. They have pure hearts who love unconditionally, even when I screw up. They think I’m the best mom in the world and make me laugh every day. To say these beautiful miracles have changed me is an understatement. They’ve saved me.

My oldest son, R, was and still is an awesome boy. Everyone warned me that my second child would not be as easy as he was. I laughed, but I should have listened. Z was born and was high needs from the second he entered the world. Z has always been different. He’s just more. More energy, more anger, more love. It’s just who he is. After many years of struggling and fighting we finally got the diagnosis of High Functioning Autism, as well as ADHD, ODD and SPD.

High functioning autism is now what Asperger’s used to be. The powers that be changed the DSM-IV (diagnostic manual) to have all Autism diagnosis under one label. I admit, when I first got the diagnosis I was relieved, but under that relief I was sad. I was sad that this was going to be his life. And to be completely honest, I was sad that it was going to be MY life.

When we had our 3rd son, C (the one with EoE), and he started regressing and showing signs of autism, my heart broke a little again because I knew what journey I was about to embark on again. I knew the struggles he would have and they’ve been a lot harder than I even thought they would be.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t want to change who they are. I don’t want to “heal” or “cure” them from autism. Autism isn’t something to cure. It is who they are. It is them. It’s what makes them special. Why would I want to change their personality? Why would I want to change them?

I realize that this is a sensitive topic, especially for other parents who have children on the spectrum. Not every mother feels the same and that’s okay. How I feel and process this doesn’t make me better than anyone else, it’s just what it is. Also, on this topic, just because a mom has a high functioning autistic child doesn’t mean that their journey isn’t difficult. We all have struggles. They’re not the same struggles, but we ALL struggle. Please don’t diminish my struggles because they look different than yours.

So here’s the deal. I have 2 possibly 3 autistic kids. I do not want to “cure” them. I do not want to “heal” their brains from this. However, I do want to love, support, and nurture all of my children to be the best forms of themselves. How I do that is entirely dependent on the child, but I will strive every minute of every day to love and challenge and support them so they know that they CAN and they WILL.

It Started with a Quarter

“Mommy I swallowed money. A big money. With a bird.”

This was something that you never want to hear especially from your almost 4 year old. We were on day 4 of a move. We were stressed out and barely tolerating each other. Half of our stuff was in boxes in our old house. The other quarter was in boxes in our new house and the rest was packed in the van. We had truck parts and engines in a shoddy storage unit 30 minutes from the new house. We were in a state of disarray. The last thing we needed was an ER visit, so when I heard this come from the back seat of the van I cringed. Of course it had to happen. I called the pediatrician to find out what I should do, and they said to go to the ER for an X-ray to make sure it was in the stomach and not trapped somewhere.

An X-ray and lots of laughter and teasing from doctors later showed a metal object the size of a quarter in his stomach. They reassured us it would come out on its own, and we had nothing to worry about. They sent me home with a bunch of rubber gloves and orders to make sure it comes out. Spoiler alert: it never moved. 3 weeks and countless X-rays later, it was determined that the quarter was not coming out on its own, and it had been in there too long so removal via endoscopy was required. The endoscopy was scheduled the in the next few days at Texas Children’s Hospital.

I will never forget the day of the endoscopy. I had my youngest, Baby C, with me and my mother in law met me up there to help me with him. Before going back, the gastroenterologist had me sign consent for biopsy “just in case there was something that looked off but it wasn’t expected to be necessary.”  The procedure took longer than they were expecting and when the doctor came out he said “I had to take biopsy of his esophagus. It was red and inflamed and didn’t look healthy. It’s not cancer, and it could just be food allergies, but it’s not normal.” My stomach dropped. I don’t remember anything else he said after that. He reassured me that C would be fine, but he was sending samples off to pathology.

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Quarter stuck in his stomach

A week later I received a phone call from Texas Children’s GI department. They had a follow up appointment scheduled the next week because the biopsy results were back. The morning of the appointment, I naively rushed out of the house forgetting to eat breakfast because it was going to be a quick follow up appointment. There couldn’t be anything wrong with my baby. I was flustered and frustrated because it was a waste of time for us to be there. I just wanted the all clear and to be done.

Then the GI doctor walked in along with an allergist and dietician. He said “Your son has Eosinophilic Esophagitis. He has food allergies and will have to have endoscopies for the rest of his life. We can treat this with diet or steroids but he has to be treated.” Then he walked out and I was left with an allergist and a dietician. I was shell shocked.

My head was spinning. I was so confused. I remember the doctor’s words just sounding like Charlie Brown. “Wait what? What was going on? My son, what is this disease of which you speak? How? Why? WAIT STOP SOMEONE TALK TO ME! See ME as a mom. See HIM as a child! Don’t just view us as a diagnosis! ” This is what I kept thinking as they rushed us from allergist to testing to dietician. I got handouts of what I can’t feed my kid and a small list of what I could feed him. There were talks of GI tubes. He was getting skin prick testing done. I got handed Epi-Pens and quick lesson on how to administer one and strict orders to avoid peanuts. They scheduled patch testing. They were going to do what with raw food on my baby’s back?!?  All of this was spinning around me, and I was still stuck trying to process. I feel like I am still trying to process to be honest. This was 2 years ago and we are still trying to grasp life with this.

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Patch Test stayed on for 3 days. It’s used to identify other food allergens.

Our lives were forever changed all because of a quarter. Funny how that works.

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Black Quarter removed from stomach