Saturday, December 13, 2014

Stuff It!

Well, it had to happen sometime...I think we did pretty well making it 3 years & nine months before a visit to Urgent Care...& leave it to my kid to make it for a ridiculous reason! 

I got home from work the other day & my mom let me know Elena was complaining her nose hurt & it was bleeding just a bit. I was thinking she was stuffy from a cold & the blood may be from dryness...but Elena tells me there's something in there. I'm still thinking boogers or something until she says, "No Mommy, a flower!" Wait, what?!?

She explains that it is a flower from a hair elastic. I'm not exactly sure what she means but I'm thinking it's a flower bead. After trying to get Elena to snort it out to no avail, I called the doctor on call but she advised we'd have to go to urgent care. So off we went!

After two hours of waiting (which isn't bad, I guess. They said it was a slow night. I'd hate to see a busy night!) we finally saw the doctor & he attempted to pull it out with tweezers. Elena jumped though & he lost grip & then Elena wouldn't let him try again. 

At this point he advised we could transfer to the hospital & they would be able to sedate Elena so they could get it out. Wait, what?!? Sedate her just to get a bead out of her nose? I felt the risks far outweighed the necessity of that! He said the only other option would be to restrain her & pull it out but that would be very scary for her. 

It made my heart hurt to see Elena so genuinely scared & begging me not to let them do anything to her...but I also knew this would only cause minimal discomfort, not hurt her. I'm not sure how they sedate a kids but I'm guessing it involves needles. So I told Elena I knew she was scared, so so scared, but she'd have to be brave so we could get the flower out of her nose. 

The doctor called over two other nurses & they did what they called a bunny wrap which basically was them wrapping Elena up like a burrito in a blanket. I was able to hold Elena's hand & one nurse immobilized her head & the other restrained her body. Elena was fighting quite hard at this point. Then one nurse asked if she wanted a Popsicle after it was done, Elena relaxed immediately & the doctor pull the flower right out. It turned out to be a foam flower petal from a hair elastic we'd got in the Dominican last year.  Elena was given her Popsicle & no worse the wear except for a bloody nose. 

The doctor then says, "I sure am glad we didn't transfer you to hospital for that." Ya think?!!?!

On the way home I told Elena I hoped she wouldn't ever put anything in her nose again. She said she wouldn't...but then said, just her finger! What a kid!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Another Goodbye

My mother’s sister passed away in November just shy of her 60th birthday. I wasn’t nearly as close with her as I was with my Aunt Lee. She was born in January 1955 when my Grandmother was 36, five years after her previous child. There’s no way to know this for sure but I suspect the pregnancy wasn’t planned. She was born in an era where she was labeled “slow” or worse “retarded”. She was developmentally delayed. I wonder if she had been evaluated by today’s standards, if she would have fallen on the autism spectrum. Regardless, she grew up with many challenges.

Karen was the youngest of 6 children. She grew up being spoiled & having family do things for her & speak for her. In spite of this, she became determined to do things on her own. She was eventually able to attend a vocational school & learn skills that enabled her to secure a job in a factory. This also enabled her to move out on her own & live independently in her own apartment.

I don’t have many memories of her when I was young. She was 19 when I was born & not long after getting out on her own, she became involved with a man. Not a good man, an abusive man. She became estranged from our family during this time. As happens in abusive relationships, he isolated her. I can only imagine what life was like for her during that time.

Another Aunt, her sister, was married in 1982 (I think). I was a flower girl in that wedding. Karen attended & I remember going to her apartment. I didn’t know it at the time but her boyfriend was in jail then. I remember her being very proud of me & I remember her telling me about her boyfriend, who painted, & saying she wanted him to meet me. Another memory was a few years later, we “kidnapped” Karen so she could visit with my Grandma & Great-Grandma who were visiting. I wonder how she managed after going home to this man that day, if she’d told him where she’d been, if he’d found out on her own…

Her boyfriend died a few years later & she became a more constant presence. My dad would pick her up in Toronto & she would come stay weekends with us. I remember her being fun, always up to play games or put puzzles together. She loved her soap operas & it was with her I first watched Dallas & she filled me in on all the details.

In 1994, she was introduced to a man & they fell in love. You can imagine, with her past, my family was skeptical. But he was (is) a good man. Yes, he has issues of his own, schizophrenia, but he is kind & loving & the knight in shining she deserved! They were married. I got to be her Maid of Honour! They celebrated their 20th anniversary a few weeks before she died.

With all the challenges Karen faced in her life, she certainly was determined & proud. I admire her not passively letting life pass by. All she ever wanted was to be “normal” & she certainly succeeded in getting everything she ever wanted…except one thing. She had always desperately wanted to be a mother. She loved children so much & was so good with all of us nieces & nephews. To the day she died, it was her biggest regret. I remember having a conversation with her while I was pregnant & me saying she’d done so well in her life & she’d done one better than me, at least she’d gotten married & her reply, “Yeah, but I didn’t get to be a mother.”

In late 2012 she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer with a tumour on her brain & mets in her liver & lungs. The doctors weren’t optimistic. She had radiation on the brain tumour in November that year & endured round after round of chemo for the next 2 years. There was no other option in her mind. She believed it would cure her. She didn’t understand or accept that she was palliative. I wonder if that contributed to her surviving for so long, that won’t quit attitude. Almost exactly 2 years later the doctors broke the news that they just couldn’t continue giving her chemo. To her that translated to them giving up on her, she just didn’t understand.

She remained at home for as long as she could but due to a fall she ended up in hospital & then transferred to hospice. Her life ended much like it began, with people doing everything for her.

Even though we weren’t close, I am feeling this loss heavily. It brought up dormant feelings of what I went through this past winter. Also her death has continued a disturbing emerging family tradition of passing just prior to a milestone birthday. My Uncle, my Dad & now Karen all passed within months prior to their 60th birthday. My Auntie Margaret & Aunt Lee both passed just prior to their 70th birthday. It’s been a tough year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?!!?

Now that I've caught you all up on Elena & her speech development, I want to start sharing some of our funny interactions. I mentioned that I understand her most of the time, but there is still a learning curve...
A month or so ago, Elena started saying the same phrase very often. It sounded like, "E-ma A-ba, E-ma A-ba" & she should almost sing it. I would ask what she means or if she could show me...she would smile but couldn't make me understand.
On one of the rare occasions I was home to take Elena to preschool, she started her sing song "E-ma A-ba, E-ma A-ba" & I asked pleadingly, "What does this mean?" & she replied, "S-koo" "School?" I asked...she replied, "Ya, own-ee Fi-day, no Two-day"
That's when it all became clear to me!!! You see, Elena's preschool is run out of a Jewish synagogue! The have Shabbat Party every Friday!! She was singing, "Ima" & "Abba"!!! When I told this story to her teacher, she explained that there is a Shabbat song they sing every time. What made us laugh is that Elena reminded us Shabbat Party is only Fridays, not Tuesdays!
This is Elena's 1st time getting to play Ima.
She was so very proud!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Say Anything

This post is a long time coming & far too long overdue…Elena’s speech. For those of you who have parented a toddler, remember when they were a year or so old & started saying words & then sentences…remember how exciting that was? In a nut shell, that is where Elena & I are now. A difference being that since Elena is so much older; her thoughts are that much more complex. It’s unbelievable what she comes up with. She has been a sponge these last 2+ years, taking everything in & now that she’s becoming able to express herself, it’s amazing to know what is going on in her head! It is so exciting to be able to understand (most of the time) what Elena is trying to say & she is really coming out of her shell as she gains confidence in her ability to communicate.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we were enrolled in a program through our provincial Early Words initiative that ran from last September (2013) thru December. Elena was thoroughly evaluated & identified as having an expressive language speech delay. The purpose of the program was really more about teaching me, as her parent, how to better facilitate her being able to develop her speech. I learned a great deal about speech development. I know I didn’t cause her speech delay but I realized how, in many ways, I made it so much harder for Elena.

In the program I learned many techniques. I learned that I needed to let Elena lead the conversation or play by Observing, Waiting & Listening. I realized how important it was for me to get down on her level & play face to face. I learned that I needed to identify objects in a way that made it easier for her to imitate. Me saying, “That’s a ball” was too much. She needed to hear, “Ball” so she could imitate that more successfully; then later adding descriptions, “Blue ball”. It was important for me to change how I spoke to her to. I knew she could indicate yes or no so I would phrase all my questions so she could answer this way. This did nothing to help her speech development. I had to make the conscious effort to ask open ended questions & also offer her choice so she’d have to articulate an answer. Every situation became an opportunity to encourage her speech development.

Because Elena had, on her own, developed her own signs & gestures to express what she was trying to say, I was encouraged to teach her signs. I will admit that when the pathologist made this suggestion, in my head I was extremely frustrated. I was looking for Elena to learn to speak & felt that teaching her signs would be a step backwards. Why would she try to speak if she could just sign? But I know I’m not the expert so I taught Elena the first 3 signs the pathologist advised, Milk, Juice & Water. Well lo & behold, didn’t Elena attempt to speak the words as she signed! I was hooked! We download the My Smart Hands app & were on our way. I’ve already mentioned how she would play with the app on her own & teach herself signs!

I was thoroughly amazed at the progress Elena made but I thought that we’d go through this program & Elena would be “cured” & we’d be on our merry way. That’s obviously not how this works…once the program ended, we had to be placed on the waiting list for further services. I was told we here near the top. We saw the speech pathologist, Ms. D, who ran the program, a few times after but her caseload was full & she couldn’t take on Elena for the amount of service Elena really needed. I am grateful, however, that Ms. D advocated for Elena to get the services she did need.

You see, I learned that you really have to be the squeaky wheel…but I really don’t like to be squeaky. I get really anxious when I have to “nag” people about things. I hate having to make repeated phone calls saying, “You said you’d do such & such…how’s that coming?” But Elena needed me to…I could see what a struggle it was for her to have so many big ideas in her head & have them blocked by her inability to express them. You could see the wheels turning as she tried to make you understand what she was thinking…then the look of utter defeat when she realized you just didn’t get it. What we had learned in that first program had taken us this far…but she needed more.

So I sucked it up…I got over myself & made those nagging phone calls. Every two weeks I would call Ms. D asking if there was any news on getting Elena services. She in turn would contact the powers that be & remind them that my little girl needed help. We’d be told that Elena was at the top of the list & I would receive a call back within a week. Then 2 weeks would go by without any word. I knew Elena was at a critical juncture. She was trying so hard but the frustration was building. I was very afraid she would just give up. So I kept calling…

We just kept getting the run around. Ms. D would call the program, they would tell her Elena was at the top of their list & they would call me, I’d hear nothing & call Ms. D…I cannot tell you enough how grateful I am to Ms. D because she got tired of the loop before me & went pleading to the other pathologists in her own department. Thankfully Ms. K had an opening. She could take us on for 1 hour a week & even had a 4pm time slot so I would be able to attend.

We started with Ms. K in July. Her program takes what we previously learned a step further. She breaks down the common sounds in speech & starts there. She combined those sounds with gesture cues. I knew this would be successful based on Elena’s previous progress with her own gestures & the signs we learned. Now that Elena has practiced & learned these basic sounds, she is able to combine them into words & those words into sentences. She has gone from a vocabulary of maybe 20-30 words in July to well over 200 now as well as 4+ word sentences.

Elena & I have our homework every night. Ms. K gives us flash cards with words & pictures & I use the gesture cues for Elena to say the word. Every week our stack of cards grows larger. We also combine the cards to make small sentences. Ms. K is as amazed as I am with Elena’s progress. Often now I don’t even have to cue Elena, she sees the card & knows the word. Ms. K explained that this is early literacy. Not only is Elena learning to say words & sounds, this is also a first step to her learning how to read.

I was also amazed & surprised to learn that Elena knows how to count! She just didn’t have the words for the numbers. She can now clearly say numbers one to ten, with just a little trouble with six & seven but those are more complex sounds.

It is remarkable to see Elena blossom in this way, to really get to see her personality shining through. I’m also so very grateful that we got this help before she enters public school. If we’d waited until then, who knows how defeated & frustrated she’d have felt by then. I am so thrilled to be witness to this wonderful little girl come into her own!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Let's Do This!

It's that time a year again...please take the time to review your archives, pick your best post & submit it to the Crème!
Thank you so much to Mel for doing this for the 9th straight year!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

1st Anniversary of my 39th Birthday

When I was turning 30, I did not want to acknowledge it...for a few years, I didn't say I was celebrating a birthday, instead I'd say I was marking the X anniversary of my 29th birthday. I didn't like who I was when I was 30 & I didn't like where I was in life. I had nothing I thought I'd have by that point in my life. I felt I had no purpose or direction. 

Now, today, I turned 40. I am glad to be forty....wait, what did I just say? Yup, you heard me correctly. I am glad. I feel like it's a huge accomplishment & I am proud to have made it here. There was a point in my life that I truly didn't think I'd see 40. And now here I am & I could not ask for anything better. I have a job that I enjoy, family & friends whom are priceless...& I have Elena. 

Today was an awesome day! I got to wake up to the smiles & giggles of my amazing daughter. After seeing her off to preschool, I got to go back to bed! And sleep for another THREE hours!! Talk about luxury!

Elena surprised me when she got home from school (with my mom's help, of course) with a bunch of balloons! And the most perfect card!

We then headed off to the Rockton World's Fair! Let me tell you, there is no better way to feel young when turning 40 than to ride a bunch of amusement rides with a 3 year old! It felt so amazing to laugh and scream with my little girl!

We then met up with some friends to watch the Demolition Derby...Elena had her first Funnel Cake & we got to ride some more rides (at night, in the dark! Elena was in awe!) before heading home. My exhausted girl was asleep before we left the parking lot & didn't even wake up when I carried her inside, put her into her pajamas & slid her into bed.

Today was the most perfect way to turn 40!!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'm Late!!

Since I am neither TTC nor engaging in sexual activity of any kind for that matter, this is only significant to mention because my cycles have been wonky for a while & I want to talk about it.

Before TTC in 2010, my cycles were very regular, like clockwork, 28 days bang on. Upon getting my BFP in June 2010, I didn’t have another period until January 2012. They started out pretty normal until last year. They started getting shorter, averaging 24-25 days. They were light & only mildly crampy with barely there PMS symptoms.

This was during a time I was trying to reconcile myself to being one & done. It was a factor in helping me get to acceptance as I thought my body was telling me that it wouldn’t have happened anyway. It felt like easy logic.

I started getting vicious PMS…I’m talking major hormonal meltdowns. I felt out of control emotionally, like a raging lunatic. It reminded me of when I was pregnant & when I weaned Elena. It felt more than PMS too. It wasn’t just in the days leading up to my period either. It seemed to rear up around ovulation. I couldn’t trust myself. I convinced myself I was heading into perimenopause.

Then my cycles started inching back to 28 days and for the first time since before getting pregnant, I started getting tender breast, tender being an understatement. I mean, my girls! Ouch! It all felt like my body was primed for conception.

For months now time feels like it is on fast forward. Time feels marked by my cycles. One just seems to end when another starts. Even though I’m not TTC, I feel this pressure like I should be. That each month that passes is a waste of a last chance. A monthly reminder of what could have been. It’s frustrating because I’m truly content now with it being Elena & I. I do feel our family is complete.

I am now 3 weeks away from the first anniversary of my 39th birthday…oh fine, make me say it! My 40th birthday! I am, for all intents & purposes, comfortable in turning 40. Turning 30 was extremely hard because I was nowhere near where I thought I would have or should have been. Now, I have everything I’d hoped for…well except for romantic love but there’s still time for that….Any-hoooo, basically it feels like I’m living the dream…my dream, & then every month I get zapped, testing my resolve. I blame the hormones.