The revenge of the girls we never liked in school anyway. Apparently they become school secretaries

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It is official. I am at war with the school secretaries. Here are my declarations of war:
1. They treat my husband like he is some god on earth. I saw them do make their genuflections to his maleness this morning as we showed for our meeting.

2. When I picked up my daughter for her physical today, they descended upon me like mythical harpies. I snuck by the office ( can we imagine why??) and went straight to the classroom. As I stood, silently in the door, the loud speaker came on "MRS X, DO YOU HAVE A PARENT IN YOUR ROOM?" I actually mouthed "I hate those women" to the teacher and she mouthed "I'm sorry" before saying, "Yes, I do." "SHE NEEDS TO CHECK IN WITH THE OFFICE BEFORE SHE LEAVES"

I gathered my daughter and walked down the hall - with the Asst Prinicipal shadowing me like I was a freaking terrorist. I half expected him to tackle me and wrestle my shoes off to check for contraband. I actually thought of continuing to walk out -without checking into the office to see what they would do, but ...No, I have my daughter with me and I have to present some sort of adult role model that doesn't involve drinking too much sangria and chasing the ice cream truck down the street.

So I make the left and stand in front of the office. The berating starts. "CAW CAW CAW, stop and sign in , CAW CAW CAW, send in a note ( which as a matter of point - I did!) CAW CAW CAW , we'll call her from her classroom and she will meet you at this door."

This is when I cracked. This is also when the Asst Principal guy ran in to shield the harpies from my now Medusa like fury.

Excuse me? Did you just tell me that even IF I sign in and make my ceremonial bows to your fucking power hungry ancestors, that I can't walk down the hall to my child's classroom and pick her up? She will be sent down from said classroom? And why is this?

"We don't want parents to disturb the other students or teachers"
"I didn't disturb the students or the teacher"
"The teacher wasn't expecting you - that was discourteous to her"
"The teacher absolutely expected me - I gave her a note this morning and she knew I was coming"
"Who made this rule?" Asst Principal sputters and looks around. "Was it the school Board?" I say. "Well, no" he says, getting fairly red in the face.

Well, guess what. I am her mother. I will walk into any building at any time and I will walk to see her. You will not keep me from my daughter and frankly, I'd like to see you try.

"Are you a frustrated power hungry bitch? We have the job for you!"

Monday, August 29, 2005

I would like to see the job description for the secretaries at the front desk of my daughters public school. Here is what I imagine it may read like- from my persepctive of interacting with them:

Are you an incredible bitch? Do you enjoy demeaning parents and asking them inane questions like "Why do you want to go to your child's classroom?" Would you enjoy ingnoring parents standing at the front desk and talking with your other overweight collegues? Then we have the job for you! Be a school secretary and enjoy all of this and much, much more. You can call parents and tell them if they don't supply the paperwork that they faxed to you that their child can't attend school. When they call to state that they HAVE faxed the paperwork, assume an indignant attitude and say "I am inundated with paper, I can't keep track of everything." When a parent shows up on the first day of school to go to their child's classroom, say suspiciously "Why are you here again?" and then demand that they wait until 8:30 to go down to the room, only after putting on a small label with "Visitor". Belittle them, insult their intelligence- what do they care - they only gave birth to the reason you have a god damn job!

I put her on the bus today - and then drove up to the school - before the bus got there to watch her get off the bus. I also met the teacher - she seems like an OK hippy-esque person and announced to her that I was terrified- I was giving her my most precious thing. Then I watched. I watched my daughter walk in as confident as can be, say "Hi Mom" hang up her coat and backpack, and walk around the room - checking it out and mingling. Finally she said, "Mom you can go now." and I kissed her and walked out VERY FAST, so as not to interact with the gatekeepers of hell ( the secretaries) She seemed so big, and competant. Everything I wanted for her- everything I fear for her.

Tomorrow, the special ed meeting......

Sunday, August 28, 2005

So, at five years of age we know this: Emily is left handed. Emily has great vocabulary, but rotten annuciation. Emily likes to roll on her friends. Emily still doesn't sleep through the night. Emily doesn't eat anything green without gagging and puking at the table. Emily only likes one kind of toothpaste: the others make her gag and puke in the sink. Emily likes salami and pepperoni - as is. No bread, no crackers. Emily does not draw. Emily can not tell you the days of the week in order. Emily can tell you the laws of gravity and the various names of astronomical bodies. Emily has a memory that would baffle the CIA....but not always.

So, after beginning to work with the OT and Speech pathologist, we add the neurological assessment, and trek back to Dartmouth. Something still isn't right. In my expert voice , I know this. I have seen lots of children in my career - both typically developing and those with issues. In my mommy voice, I tell myself I am being hyper vigilant and over protective.

And the neurologist confirms what I had suspected. Emily has a slight brain injury. A Right hemiparisis. Words enough to make any mom burst into tears and run from the room. The neurologist suspects this happened pre-natally or during birth. It was enough to make my child's brain have to re-wire some functions and explains alot of her quirky personality traits. She should have been right handed, he says, but the injury forced her to compensate with her left hand. The injury affected her speech - articulation, while leaving vocabulary untouched. The injury affected some motor functions, ergo the low muscle tone and SI.

I am relieved. I am horrified. I go home and after wrestling her into bed that night, I go into my bedroom and cry. My only child is...well, not perfect. My anxiety begins to increase. By the time my husband finds me, I am having a full fledged anxiety attack and talking about how she will never go to college, never have a fufilling life: and it's my fault, I know it, I KNOW IT. I probably put her in her crib too hard and damaged her brain. If I had been a better mother - not the depressed, crazy, rotten mother I am, this wouldn't have happened. If I hadn't been depressed, I would have been more nurturing and her brain would be all right.

I take my medication for anxiety and wait for the episode to pass.

Eight months later, we agree to the testing for ADHD. We are not shocked nor suprised to find that she has this too. She starts medication - it helps her immensely.

I could spends reams on the fights I had with insurance companies to get her treatments covered. Which I did. Everything has been covered, but not without exhausting me at times. I have occasionally had to be the most evil bitch of a mother in the world to make sure things are set and authorizations are in place.

I could spend more reams on the fights with the public school - which we opted out of for 2 years to place her in a small private school. But this year we are letting her go to the public school.

I am terrified. Balls out terrified. She goes tomorrow- we have to put her on a BUS!!! Holy shit, a bus! the paragon of evil! I plan on putting her on the bus, and then driving to the school to make sure she gets off the bus and makes it into her classroom. Neurotic, I know. But fuck it, I don't care. She is my only child.

We have our "Special ed team" meeting on Tuesday morning. I am steeling myself for the fight. Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 27, 2005

So, here we are. My child is 13 pounds at her first birthday. The tests begin. The experst look at me - another "expert" and ask questions I don't know the answers to- Why isn't my child growing? Why is she still wearing 0-3 month old clothing?

And then there is her energy. She never sleeps. I know, all new parents tell you that their kid doesn't sleep. But this one? NEVER sleeps. When I finally wrestle her into bed at night, she sleeps for maybe 2 hours and then wakes and begins howling. Her naps...45 minutes tops, once a day. Her pediatrician asks "So, when she nurses, she gets sleepy?"
"No", I respond,"It only seems to energize her more"
Oh, and she never poops. For an exclusively breast fed baby - never poops. I have to give my child gylcerin enema's to make her poop.

Emily crawls at 6 months - Walks, full on running at 9 months. There aren't shoes small enough for her feet. Remember, she is maybe 10 pounds when she starts walking. She is in constant motion. Even when she nurses, she wriggles and moves, latches on and off.

We see pediatric gastroentorologists, pediatric endocriologists. We start to live at Datmouth Medical Center. We have bones scans, x rays, and vials and vial of blood taken from my SCREAMING thrashing child, as I hold her down so they can take 6 vials of blood at a time. We exclude from her diet, we include into her diet. She is tested for CP, celiac disease, and every other thing known to the medical world.

Finally, when no demon is exercised from my daughter. We call a halt to it. She's small, we decide. Stop this torture. Mommy and Daddy can't do it anymore.

But things still seem different about Emily. She is super intense and her tantrums can go one for hours. She is afraid of odd things, but fearless about others that she should be fearful of. Moving things - like an robot, or thing that talks or moves sends her into a panic and she roots to the spot, refusing to walk any further. Other children love Rainforest kid runs screaming hysterically in the other direction. Her appetite is huge, but for odd things. She gags easily. Anything without a smooth texture makes her gag and puke. I call her the pukey puppy.

As she gets older, we just chalk it up to her being Emily. Her coordination stinks, although she is in constant motion. She won't color or write her name. She doesn't play with things like legos or anything with small pieces. She is already in speech therapy since she talks so fast no one can understand her and it is garbled.

Then we take her to be assessed by the OT, when at 5 she can't write her name, or refuses to try. She also puts her mouth on EVERYTHING and throws her body on everyone in a 12 foot radius. The OT asks me questions about her diet. Does she gag easily? Does she refuse to eat anything but beige foods? Does she like odd spicy things? Does she continually hang on my body? Does she lick or suck eveything? Does she cry easily?

Holy shit. Yes, Yes, and Yes.
Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Emily is sensory seeking. The more , the better. Hot water, she wants it hotter. Blankets - they could be heavier. She watches TV with her head turned upside down ( which she is actually doing right now with both legs up in the air, kicking) At rest, she is in motion. When she eats dinner, she sits on a yoga ball, so she can bounce her way through the meal.

But this is just the beginning of the journey.
Tomorrow...part three....

Friday, August 26, 2005

My descent into the world of the "not typical" child came early. At birth, Emily literally held her head and looked around. Everyone in the room sort of looked stunned, and she paused and then started screaming. I am not sure what we expected. I had a complicated gestational diabetic pregnancy with heavy insulin dependence and had not gained a pound of weight. I was induced after several days of start and stop labor and at midnight, the midwife looked me over and said : Quote "Get some sleep, you aren't going to do a thing tonight." And gave me some kind of morphine shot that knocked me out.

When I woke up at 3:45 a.m. I recall thinking "They didn't give me enough drugs. The bastards!"
Next thought: "Boy, I have GOT to pee"
I get up - SLOWLY and move towards the bathroom and sit on the toilet. I notice some blood on the floor which, while I have assume has come from me - doesn't really connect. I pull the "Nurse" cord, as the whole blood thing has me vaguely concerned. I am a bit stunned to see THREE nurses crowded into my bathroom looking at me intensely.
"I think I'm bleeding" I say - as foggy and morphined up as ever.
Nurse1 : "Do you feel like you have to push?"
Dawn: "What?"
Nurse 1: "Do you feel like you have to push?"
Dawn: P-A-U-S-E ."Ummmm, Yeah, I think I do"
Six arms reach down and YANK me off the toilet and hustle my bloody ass back into bed. I get back into the bed. The light is revealing the extent to which I was bleeding.
Nurse2: "She's ten centimeters - wake the midwife!!"

My husbands perspective: Dawn is sound asleep on bed, knocked out by morphine. Dawn lurches up like the dead rising and stumbles to the bathroom ? a humongous trail of blood and gunk trailing behind her. He begins to ask "Honey are you OK?" No response. "Honey are you all right in there?" Three nurses haul ass into the room and run for the bathroom. They drag his bloody dopey wife out of the bathroom and start turning on every light in the place, calling people, bringing in machines and Spot lights from hell.

In less than 15 minutes, our daughter is emerging. We are parents. My child , after checking out her surrounding s and then screaming, attacks my breast with a vengeance.. The nurse looks down and says "Other babies could take lessons from her"

Sadly, this is going to be my future 18 months. My daughter screaming --- then attacking my breast. Emily nurses constantly. CONSTANTLY. I finally break down and buy binkies, to which I am professionally opposed. I do not care. My aching boobs can not take this abuse. At my 6 week check up, the midwife says "Oh look I think she is hungry"
I snap -"HOW could she be hungry??? She ate less than 15 minutes ago and nursed for 20 minutes ON EACH BREAST!!!!"

My daughter, despite constant nursing,doesn't gain weight. She is born at 6 pds 12 oz. At her first birthday, she is 13 pounds. She is diagnosed as failure to thrive. I am diagnosed as a piss poor mother, with crappy milk that starves my baby.

Tomorrow part two....
I woke up this morning to NPR. I do every morning. I ease into the day with Public Radio, readying myself to get up and start the day.

But this morning was a little different. I fully came to consciousness as this story began. It was the StoryCorp piece on 8th graders in Philadelphia who were interviewing the families of teenagers who had been killed the previous year. You can see it here:

My daughter, who crawls into bed with me at 5 am every morning, was sound asleep next to me.

As I listened to this story – hearing adults remember their lost children, I looked at the seven year old asleep beside me. Her breathing slow and easy, features relaxed and perfect in sleep.

Being a mother hit me like a bolt from the sky. If I lost her, I would cease to exist. How these mothers, fathers and grandparents could talk about their loss was incomprehensible to me. I could stand the loss of my husband. I would be sad, I would grieve, but I could live.

But my daughter? My baby?

That is parenting. I truly would physically sacrifice myself for her- Just as the Mama cheetahs draw the lions away from their babies in the grasslands.And that is the scary, unprepare-able part of being a parent. No one tells you that the love that you will develop for that squalling infant will consume you – the non-parent, hip, cool, bon-vivant you. When the ash blows away, you will stand, a mother. And as a mother, you watch other mothers, like Cindy Sheehan, or these parents in this story grieve for Their babies. And you understand, completely.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Slowly the medicine kicks in and slowly I return to myself. I laughed – authenthically – for the first time yesterday, in a really long time. I was reading The Onion.

Then I decided to prder Pro-Activ stuff, since at age 35 I fell that I have the right to not break out on my chin. I immediately feel silly for ordering acne medication on the internet and wonder how I am going to smuggle this into my house and use it without my husband’s knowledge…or the mocking that will follow the discovery.

I go home last night and while I lie in bed reading, a voice calls from the living room.

Him:“Honey, can you stop at Wal-Mart tomorrow and pick me up some Crest White Strips?”

Me: “OK, No Problem. Can I tell you something that you are going to make fun of me for?”

Footsteps approaching the bedroom and my husband appears

Him: “What is it?”

Me: “I ordered Pro-Activ for my skin today”

Him: “Why? Your skin looks fine”

(Might I add that this is the ONLY correct answer he could have offered and remained married)

Me: “Well, I hate that I am breaking out on my chin.”

Him: “Oh, well Ok. Now you and Puff Daddy can have good skin together.” Hysterical laughter ensues.. then slows.
Him: “Well, I shouldn’t talk, I am getting you to buy me teeth whitening strips.”

Me: (Smiling) “Exactly”

Vanity, thy name Is Pro-Activ and Teeth Whitening Strips

Monday, August 22, 2005

I love my husband. I love my child. I love the image of myself as wife and mother. Problem is, it usually is just that – an image.

I have generally felt like a lousy wife and a mediocre mother. But there they are, plugging away next to me – my husband and daughter – loyal as ever, coming back for more.

I was born in 1970 to a very non-traditional mother. It was like being raised by a twelve year old trapped in an adult body – which was great, until I emotionally matured beyond my own parent. Her gifts to me, however, were my unfailing self-confidence and desire to succeed. She told me, without reservation, I could be what ever I wanted. She modeled that a woman with a college education could support herself and her children.

As a wife, she was abysmal. She did not clean, she did not cook. Her first husband, my father, shared with her a love hate relationship that lasted for ten years. This relationship ended with a bang over the three bean salad that she was going to prepare to take to the Marine Corp picnic in 1979. After a stellar argument about above mentioned 3 bean salad, she threw everything she could lay her hands on into the back of a 1973 GMC truck and drove to parts unknown, AKA Vermont. Did I mention that the final arguement came over 3 bean salad, possibly the foulest food substance on earth? Apparently my biological father thought so too - ergo the break up.

Her second husband, my stepfather, was a generally passive aggressive man, much quieter than my father. His adoration of my mother did her no service, and they become a closed circle unto each other, finally suffocating their marriage after 24 years of incestuous togetherness.

Fast forward to me – circa 1996. I am in love with an intelligent successful man, ten years my senior. He has a Phd! He has nice stuff! He likes foreign movies! He doesn't drink beer! I am a college graduate with a decent career ahead of me. We get married in the traditional pomp and circumstance. Nearly immediately, I begin to fantasize about killing my husband. My fantasies grow increasingly more lucid. I, wisely, decide to go back to therapy. My husband does not know that I am planning to bump him off with increasing frequency.

When I do talk about this with one or two friends, I am greeted with silence. Most newlyweds don't want to kill their spouse. Well, at least not ones in my neighborhood. I hate this man. I want him gone. He has turned me into a wife and I will not stand for it. “But this is your honeymoon period”, they say. I snort derisively. Honeymoon, my ass.

Therapy helps for while. I see that my husband has done very little to me – except exist in my sphere of existance – and marry me. After less than a year of therapy and marriage, I decide to have a baby. The decision is made in a thunderbolt of certainty – during stitches being inserted into my kneecap in 1997.

My decision to be a mother came in the ER as the dude on call stitched my knee up - even as I am saying "I can still feel that! I can sill feel that!"

Sadly, I missed my chance to see this for the metaphor that this decision would become....

Sunday, August 21, 2005

My depression came back and smacked me down - deep down. Actually, I have known it has been shadowing me for several months - like a bad stalker I know TOO well, but I have talked myself out of acknowledging that it is happening. As my therapist said on Thursday "Women with really good skills wait too long to get their stubborn asses back into my office"

And I was crying and laughing at the same time, because it's true. So we changed my doses and in 2 weeks if I don't start to shed the shell I feel like I'm living in, I'll change doses or med's again and keep trying to wake myself up out of this numb feeling.

One of the many bad things about depression, is for me, once I think "Oh, I must be depressed", I am usually in way too deep. Also, By this time, I am also completely unable to feel anything - hot water, joy, happiness, humor. Just low grade anger and annoyance that occasionally flare up and throw American Girl doll shoes at my child. Like husband and child are not 3 feet from me and I have the almost irresistable urge to tell them all to get the fuck out of the bedroom. BUT - they love me and worry and my husband has been really good ( all things considered) and my duaghter is wildly forgiving of my check out's with the living world.

They took me for my therapists visit on Thursday. As I emerged after the session - swollen eyes, beaten down countenance - my husband actually looked shocked! SHOCKED! "Have you been crying?" he asked in wonderment.
"What the hell do you think people in therapy do? They cry - Alot"
Then my daughter says "Mama, why have you been crying?" - and my husband quickly cuts me off - since I can't give a dishonest answer to my little girl and says "Because mama is happy."

Apparently, my answer "Your mother has terrible brain chemistry that occiasionally sends her into spiraling depressions where she wants to abandon everything she loves" was not going to be acceptable.

So much for my attempts to save her a few therapy dollars.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Yep, It was the medication. After crying in my therapists office non stop, she said "You've waited too long to come back in"

So, the medication is upped, the options are layed out. I struggle with trying to feel anything again, and the weird dissatisfaction that is depression. I don't like anything. I don't want to read, I don't want to sleep. There is nothing appealing. The hold out promise is that I will feel better in a few weeks, with persistance.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I have been super angry lately. My medication, which I can adjust, just hasn't been doing it for me and I need to go back to my therapist for a tune up. I go tomorrow.

I graduated from graduate school in the beginning of August and for some reason, the lack of work is not helping me to work through this encroaching depression. Oddly it's like I am not used to the manic routinue of work, school, home, work, school, home.

My profession....Early Childhood Education. Seriously. So when the post partum depression hit big time - and then stayed.... Could my ego have taken a bigger hit? And that hit must have come when my infant was diagnosed as "failure to thrive" - a way to say "look at this shitty mother" if ever there was one.

Thank god, I haven't killed her yet. She seems healthy and growing. She is seven now.

I just want to be real. And be around real people. That's all you can ask for, people. Real.
When I asked my husband if he has noticed that my mood has been sinking - for me the tell tale signs of depression are ramping up - this is what he says - after a very, very long pause.

"Well, you're not exactly the most cheerful person in the world, honey"

If that's not love, what is?
◄Design by Pocket