There’s a new smallest baby in the world.

And my heart goes out to her family. She was born in Germany weighing in at a scant 8 ounces. There are some who will ask me how I feel as Kenna is bumped again. She started as fourth smallest surviving and is now…sixth? Those who know me will laugh and shake their heads. I’m not competitive in the least. I didn’t care about Kenna’s ranking, ever. I just wanted her to live.

This new baby was brought to my attention by another preemie mom. Did I see it? What did I think? I knew what she meant.

My thoughts, because when I can’t stop thinking about something, it’s usually I sign I have to write it out in order to get on with my day. I’ve learned to stop fighting it and simply give in to the purge.

First, I’m so happy for that family. There are few things that cause more heartbreak than losing a child. I should know. I have one buried in Burlington, Vermont who was stillborn at 27 weeks. Ironically, she was bigger than Kenna. Oh, but that was 23 years ago. Sam and I have lost two other babies to miscarriage, one a boy, the other a mystery. When Kenna was in the hospital, all I wanted was for her to live. I was convinced we could give her a quality life no matter what. Mostly, I think we are, but there are always new challenges.

Here’s what I mostly think about for this family, how they have no idea what lies ahead. We didn’t. We thought getting out of the hospital was it, our golden ticket. Life would be so much easier once we could be with Kenna all day every day. It’s not. Not even close. Since she made it to the magical place called home, we’ve discovered the hospital was actually the easy part. There we had a team of doctors and trained professionals to help us every step of the way in ensuring our sweet girl’s needs were met.

Once we came home, that was mostly on me. I never knew I was eligible for nursing care at home. It was never offered. No one mentioned it. So I wore myself out taking care of her. I became Doctor Mom, nurse Nicki, and all her therapists. Six months a year for the first few years of her life were spent in isolation at the house, keeping germs at bay. Still we were in the hospital more than I care to remember. To this day, Kenna prefers to stack her illnesses. Why get one when she can have two or three…even four at a time?

It’s exhausting. Not taking care of her. That’s the part I love the most. Being her mother is such an honor and privilege. My heart swells at her accomplishments. Of course, our accomplishments look much different than the usually milestones. Breathing, eating, speaking, walking…nothing is taken for granted. We weren’t sure she’d ever be able to do all those things. This is also why my heart aches when others don’t understand how far she has come. They don’t see her like we do.

The exhaustion comes from the fight. Everything is a fight. Getting her therapy services, getting her the right medical services, insurance coverage, schooling, and the like. Every. Little. Thing. A fight. I get tired. Part of it is lack of sleep, the rest is purely mental. You know how much energy it takes to raise kids who are considered normal. Multiply it by sixty-seven when you have a special needs child. I’m not asking for pity. I chose this. Even knowing then what I know now, I’d choose it still.

Know what I would like? Understanding. Compassion.

I’d like to be able to take Kenna out in public without the constant threat of judgey eyes or people muttering under their breath. Like this past weekend, the couple staring at us while we tried to teach Kenna how to play putt putt at Mount Atlanticus. I saw you. I heard your whispers. You saw a cute little blonde girl who was rushing about, not listening well, who actually tossed her putter over her shoulder and nearly hit me. I didn’t say anything then. I didn’t want to ruin our outing. You thought she was spoiled and disobedient. She is in some ways. All kids are. What you didn’t understand…Kenna was wildly overstimulated. New place. Tons of noise. Loads of people. She was a bit spastic. I’ll take that any day over the shutting down she did at breakfast.

Oh, yeah. I saw you, too, the group of older women at the hotel restaurant. I know what you think you were witnessing. The little girl who had to sit in my lap to eat wasn’t being difficult. I wasn’t simply letting her run me instead of sitting in her own chair, where she started. We watched her morph from eating and doing well, to being overwhelmed from the noise of the buffet. She had said, “Tired.” Kenna always says that when the stress starts getting to her. Then she put her head down. I could see tears forming. I didn’t know whether she was going to freak out in rage, or what. So I pulled her onto my lap and covered her ears. “Better,” Kenna whispered as she relaxed into my arms relieved.

Kenna’s teacher tells me she’s incredibly bright. She looks completely normal. Unfortunately, the sensory issues have knocked all of us for a loop. We never saw it coming. Sure, she had the preemie freak outs from loud noises, the startle reflex. Now, however, it’s nearly debilitating. I deal with stares every day as I carry her into school. She’s too incapacitated from the noise and kids rushing around to walk. Over the weekend, we suffered through an hour of tears because we put her in sneakers instead of her sandals, which were too wet from the beach to wear. Finally, we gave in and let her wear them just so we could leave the hotel room.

You have no idea how hard I work, plot, and plan to keep our life mostly normal. She freaks out at all doctor offices. (The PTSD is strong in this one. 183 days in the NICU will do that to a child.) It doesn’t matter if it’s hers or mine. No, I don’t make a habit of bringing her to the doctor, but it was the week before school started, I was sick, Sam was working, Rachel has two kids now, our baby sitter couldn’t be with her, and there was no one to watch her. The phone was charged for her entertainment. I carried lollipops and stickers in my purse. (All of her doctors have one or the other.) She was fine in the waiting room. She slowly began to panic when we were called back. By the time I was having my blood pressure taken, which was normal despite it all, she was in full blown panic. Tears and screams. I held her and tried to comfort her. Then my doctor listened to my heart. It was over. Fastest appointment ever. She couldn’t stop wailing. You’d have thought there was a needle involved. (We’re going back for her well check on Wednesday. Can’t wait.)

So I rushed to exit the building. As we left, a woman stared me down. Kenna was screaming, “Sticker!” I know what the stranger thought. She didn’t exactly try to hide it. Must be Kenna thinks she needs to get something everywhere she goes. I could see her shaking her head. I ignored it even as Kenna started trying to throw herself back out of my arms. Full blown tantrum. She’s getting too big for me to handle when she does this.

Our child thrives on routine. Doing anything outside of the norm rocks her little world. Kenna hadn’t been to my doctor before, by design. She didn’t know they don’t have stickers. She didn’t care that I had stickers for her. All of her doctors have stickers and my stickers wouldn’t do. Sometimes there’s no reasoning with special needs kids. Sometimes you have to let them cry it out, settle down, and simply love them through it. I don’t mind. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love being there for her.

My problem is I’m at a breaking point with the uninformed public. The insensitive, selfish, inconsiderate individuals who would rather stand in judgement than offer assistance. Maybe that’s why I loved this story so much. This guy, this stranger, walked a crying infant so the pregnant mom traveling alone could rest. We need to be more like this guy. We need more people like this guy. Be this guy.

We all have bad days. It’s not an excuse to make other people have bad days. Stop with the assholery. Honestly, anyone can be a jerk. It’s so easy. It no longer surprises me. You want to shock me. Be nice. Be kind. Care about others, everyone, strangers. The world needs more love. I’m just as guilty. See, I forget how big my life is. I forget the breadth of experiences I have that made me who I am. In the past, I probably would’ve made similar mistakes in judgement, but now I’m part of a secret society of parents with special needs children. It’s so secret we don’t even meet. Our hazing is one trial by fire after another.

Ah, but I digress.

To the family in Germany who’s reveling in their little miracle, I send you so much love. Hang onto it. There will be dark times. Have hope and truly believe you can overcome anything because you can. Face these challenges with your face upturned to the sun and arms wide open to embrace the impossible. You’ve got this. We’ve all got this.

We always think we have more time…

Here’s the thing about life, the toughest lesson to learn. Ready?

We always think we have more time.

So we squander the time we have. We put off until tomorrow what could be done today. We hold off on reaching out and making an effort in relationships because we erroneously believe there will be this magical later.

Or at least that’s how last week came crashing down for me.

The boy was scheduled to leave for bootcamp on September 12th. We were prepared for that date. It was comfortably in the distance. We watched him graduate and patted ourselves on the back for having three whole months to be with him, to enjoy him, to treasure our togetherness. The reality is, with the military, they own him.

When July 12th arrived, I remember thinking…okay, so we have two more months. Only then on July 17th, we didn’t. He sent me a series of text messages while he was out with his girlfriend.

I took a deep breath. Then I grew needy.

So I waited and worried and knew in my gut this was the beginning of the end. And it couldn’t come at a worse time. Life was already crazy with trying to fix Kenna’s insurance and the painters had been there all day every day since the Friday before. It was a zoo. Everything was crazy. Now we were adding heartbreak to this too.

All of my friends have been incredibly supportive. They tell me to thank him for his service. They remind me that I have raised an incredibly giving young man. They tell me I must be so proud of him. One even suggested I needed this sweatshirt:

Ignore that it says Army, while my boy will be a Marine. The sentiment is true. Only, the boy became my hero long before he ever decided to join the military. Keenan was the original boy who lived. He was here before Harry Potter. In fact, he’s the reason I started reading the series. Rachel needed to be challenged. She was six and reading years beyond her grade. Keenan was home sick. We picked up the first book and were completely hooked. That line resonated with me: the boy who lived.

Keenan has done very nearly everything early his whole life. He was born ten weeks early, he still had teeth by four months, and managed to have multiple surgeries before he was even a year old. That his military career would start early shouldn’t have surprised me at all. It didn’t, really. I just wanted more time.

I never had a chance to really tell him how much he matters to me, to our family. I never could find the words to explain how much I valued I valued our relationship, his quiet ways, his easy devotion, his constant love. Keenan never complained aloud, would simply do as he was asked. Maybe I’ve been grooming him for this life. He had Rachel, his second mother and first drill instructor.

Determined to make this week count, I tried to ensure he had time to see everyone, do everything, say his goodbyes, and relax some too. We planned, despite the chaos, to have a dinner here with his girlfriend and her family on Saturday night, whether I had a kitchen or not. We’d make it happen.

When Saturday arrived, I decorated because…I had to. There were blue plastic tablecloths on the tables set for twelve. There were patriotic paper plates and red cups with stickers everyone could etch their name on.  The food from Olive Garden’s catering menu was great, but I enjoyed the company more. For the first time all week, I had stopped to breathe. For once, after being ruled by the clock and calendar all week I hadn’t worried about time…how little we had, how much there was to do to prepare.

The past few days had passed in a flurry of appointments: bringing him to the recruiting station to go off for his final pre-ship stuff, then picking him up the next day, then going back to meet with the recruiter. Finally, we could just be.

And when it was over, long past Kenna’s bed time, Keenan thanked me. Out of nowhere. Without prompting. Simply because that’s the kind of young man he is. He wrapped his arms around me and planted a kiss on the forehead.  I did what I do, and put on my brave face. He didn’t need to know that the night before, I had cried when he came home from dropping off his girlfriend as I considered what life would be like around here without him. How could I tell him I’d stood in the kitchen while Sam held me, leaving big wet spots on the chest of his Under Armour shirt while pouring out all my thoughts, fears, and sorrows? Barely hidden beneath the surface, Keenan is the most loving and sensitive guy I’ve ever known.

Raising him has been such a pleasure. Being there for him every step of the way has been an honor. Sharing him with the military…that’s hard. Still, I want him to be happy. I want him to follow his dreams.

Somehow the boy who refused to ride rollercoasters and feared waterslides, the boy who was once backed into a corner by an ant, the one I’d never let play with guns…has now joined the Marines. This is what he wants. So, I’ll support him every way I can.

This morning, his girlfriend met me at the house and we went to the ceremony where he swore in and signed in. Then we hugged on him, kissed him, and cried. Yeah. He cried too. I told you he was sweet.

We congratulated ourselves on not being big sloppy messes. Then we drove away. It was anticlimactic for sure. In the meantime, I’m going to hang in there and stay strong, be tough for him. I’ll be sharing tons of happy stuff with him through letters. I’ll give him roots and wings.

Hopefully, I’m through the worst of it. Unlike the girls, being pregnant for Keenan didn’t nearly kill me. I mean, the emergency c-section wasn’t a picnic, but the pain was manageable. It was nothing compared to this broken heart. Unlike the girls, I had no idea how to raise this little boy I never knew I always wanted. I did my best, following my special brand of loving him through it. I suffered the bullies with him. I took him to Tae Kwon Do. Thankfully, he was never much of a joiner, so while Rachel had me running the roads for all her activities, Keenan mostly hid in his room or played with friends. Truly, the hardest part of raising him has been this: letting go. Saying goodbye, knowing it will be hours before I hear his voice, knowing it could be weeks before I hear from him again.

So be patient with me for a little while. It’s not easy functioning with a hole in my heart.




And so we finally returned from the pediatric cardiologist…

There’s a reason she plays doctor better than most.

Today has been…crazy. The highs. The lows. A truly wild ride. Something of a rollercoaster. Yeah. That’s my day and it’s only three in the afternoon.

See, this morning started with Super Doubles. For a couponer, it’s my version of the Olympics. I have been busily and strategically planning for this since the rumors began a week ago. In the past year and a half, I’ve discovered it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. I woke at five and laced up my sneakers. Just kidding. I wore flip flops. And yesterday’s outfit. Don’t judge. I showered after the grocery store. I had to take Kenna with me. Luckily, she woke on her own. So I gave her the first of her three daily doses of Viagra for her heart condition, dressed her, passed her a granola bar and we were on our way.

As sometimes happens, the store was understaffed and I returned from my wildly successful shopping trip a lot later than expected due to understaffing at the checkout. I put away as much as I could, then rushed to shower. It had been a morning of rushing…until 9:45am when we arrived at the pediatric cardiologist. Then it was all about waiting. Really, it almost felt good to wait, to sit, to breathe, to slow down.

Kenna and I sat at the teeny tiny toddler table to color. Sadly, I wasn’t uncomfortable. After all, at five feet tall, I’m fun sized. Then we were ushered back to be weighed and measured. Kenna is now a whopping 37.5 inches tall and weighs roughly 27lbs. She’s huge…compared to where she started. She now only weighs 5lbs less than her two year old nephew. We’ll call it progress.

Oh, and there was even more progress. She held it together for the arm hug. You may know it as a blood pressure check. Kenna didn’t even whimper when they checked her O2 saturation forever…first on her forefinger, then her thumb, and finally found a new sat monitor to get an accurate reading. She lost it a little over the EKG. Who can blame her? Shoot, she even managed to survive the Echo with barely a whimper. This was HUGE. Last time I had to sit on the table with her and pin her down.

We always see the doctor twice, before and after the Echo. This time was no different. Ah, but the wait was. In fact, he was so far behind, we had to get moved back into another exam room until he could come speak with us. This part never scares me, never bothers me. This doctor and his staff are like family. The ultrasound tech and the doctor have been taking care of Kenna since she was in the NICU. We go way back. Four years of regular visits. Four years of watching her grow.

Up until now, it has always surprised me the way the doctor would marvel over her progress, her growth, her energy and abilities. Now, after our discussion, I have a better understanding of why. He came back in and wore the same serious face he always did after seeing the images and calculating the results.

doctor: Well, the pressure in her heart is essentially the same, roughly 60. We’d like to see the ratio to the other side at 50%, but it’s more like 2/3.

So I started asking him some of the questions that had been nagging at me.

me: Okay, well Kenna recently had an ABR, and because I’m a terrible mother, I forgot to give her the heart meds before the procedure and the anesthesiologist commented that studies had shown it didn’t work anyway. (I took a breath.) Should we consider trying some other medication? You had mentioned before there were other options.

The moment he took a breath before talking, I knew it wasn’t that simple.

Apparently, the other meds are intravenous and would require a pump. You can imagine how well Kenna would receive this. Most of all, before we could even consider using them, they’d need to do a heart catheterization, which means putting her under and running the cath up her leg. They don’t rush into these procedures, as you might imagine. So we have to wait to see if her heart gets worse before we cross that bridge. Even more, the heart cath will tell us if her heart would respond to the intravenous meds. If not, there’s nothing they can do.

me: So, Sam has been wondering if this is the kind of condition where she may need a heart transplant.

This breath may have been deeper than the last.

doctor: Well, she’d need a heart and lungs transplant. The survival rate is terrible.

I’m pretty sure a wrecking ball nailed me in the chest then. This was where I began struggling to process everything.

me: Lungs? But she only sees her pulmonologist once a year now. I thought they were all better.

Suffice to say, her O2 sats are awesome. Her lungs are great. It’s the arteries in her lungs causing the high pressures in her heart. This is why if her heart function decreases, a new heart won’t fix the problem. It all started with the lungs.

So what do we do? For now…nothing. We’re supposed to continue on, business as usual. Only now I understand why he watches her so closely. While I’ve always been a little protective where Kenna is concerned, I’ll now be watching her more closely too.

It’s hard. Already I find myself facing the same struggles as all the other mothers of medically fragile children. Life is always about finding the balance, but this balance is different. While the biggest part of parenting is always about keeping little ones safe, now it’s more so. My previous concerns are validated and I don’t feel good about it. I’ve always worried over her salt intake, her hydration, her sleep, getting overexcited or overexerting herself…now even more reason for my fears. Sure, it would be easy to let her have her way, to spoil the hell out of her, but it would be a huge disservice to everyone, Kenna included. Despite all the worries, we need to keep living, keep behaving like everything is normal. Sadly, this is our normal.

Ever since Kenna was born, I’ve lived in the present, never planning too far into the future. It seemed too precarious. After all, even her NICU release was delayed three times. While other families are already thinking about what their toddler may be when he or she grows up, we just want to see her grow up.

There are no predictions. The doctor can’t even guess. He told us her pressures may go down. They may get worse. Her heart may function fine despite them. This may just be her life. Or not. For the planner in me, the goal oriented highly driven woman I am, this is agonizing. We’ve always joked Kenna was here to teach me to slow down, to help me work on patience. Obviously, I’m still learning.

Sam: What does this mean for her quality of life? Of does this shorten her life altogether?

I understand his fears. It’s all the little things. While we live our life as a rollercoaster, there’s a distinct possibility Kenna may never be able to ride a real one. Our germaphobia has become a way of life. The fear that grips me when she sleeps through the night in her own bed may never go away.

doctor: Let her be a little wild child as long as she can handle.

This after Kenna has been running laps in the office and hopping from one colored square on the floor to the next. So I’ll resist my urge to stick her in a giant bubble to keep her safe. I’ll talk Sam through it and help him understand. When that doesn’t work, I’ll probably resort to cursing. Most of all, I’ll love Kenna through it, the only way I know to balance out the fear. We’ll hug her, kiss her, and cuddle her, grateful for every minute while hoping for many more.

The countdown begins…

On November 2nd, 1997, I had finished watching a football game at home. Thirty weeks pregnant, I realized not only was I exhausted, but I hadn’t felt the baby move in some time. It was getting late on a Sunday night and though I wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed, the doctor insisted I go to the hospital.

Dr. Duchin: With anyone else, I’d see them in the morning. You, I’ll meet you at the hospital.

So I left the now ex-husband at home to care for the Rachel, then three and a half, and drove myself to the hospital. Soon enough, we discovered I was in premature labor, the baby of indeterminate gender was in distress, and I’d be taking an ambulance and a ferry to Vermont. At  some ridiculous time like 3:42am, I had an emergency c-section. I was beyond exhausted. I’d had a boy, which shocked me. And it wasn’t until the shift change and a new nurse arrived around 9am that I learned he’d survived.

Born at a whopping 2lbs 10oz, Keenan became the little boy I never knew I always wanted. Over time, I shortened the nickname until he became simply: the boy. We still call him that.

Really, I’d always believed I was meant to be a girl mom. I’m not really into sports. I like bows and nail polish. I love pastels and purple. What the heck would I do with a little boy? (Rumor had it, they liked none of these things.)

Two weeks into his hospital stay, Keenan ended up with some mystery ailment that caused him to stop breathing twenty-eight times in one day. The doctors warned that though they had taken blood cultures, they might not be able to determine what was wrong with him before it was too late. I cried, of course, then I dried my tears and decided I wasn’t losing another baby. He’d stop breathing and I’d say his name and stir him to life again. The doctors and nurses were amazed. Obviously, he lived.

Not only did he live, but he grew and thrived. He taught me how to be a boy mom. It was easy since he was so laid back. Nothing stressful about being around him. While Rachel is the life of the party, the center of attention, Keenan is quiet, reserved. So much so, I worried he’d disappear as the middle child, suffer some secret jealousy. That never happened. Instead, he and Kenna have this special affection that warms me. Once very small, he’s now huge, towering over me.  Huge may be misleading. I’ve tried to fatten the boy up, but he may still have to go to fat camp before starting the Marines on September 12th.

I’m not sure if it’s age or reality setting in, but I’ve become very sentimental. Just the other day, tears pricked my eyes as I watched him graduate from high school. It was quite the feat. The boy suffers from being smart and lazy. It’s a horrible debilitating combination that often leads to low grades and free time spent hiding in his room while playing video games. I don’t buy them. He has a father and now a job for that. PS. I’d like to thank his girlfriend, Kristen, without whom he might have no reason to leave his room. We love you, girl!

Don’t get me wrong, Keenan is one of a kind. He’s the best combination of boy I could ever imagine. I tried to keep him on the right path. I refused to let him have toy guns because I always believed there was nothing to imagine with them, but death. Keenan showed me. He’s joining the military so he can play with all the guns. Lesson learned.

Really, I should’ve seen it coming. The boy has always been incredibly loving, caring, and as he aged, super protective. He still hugs me and tells me he loves me…almost as much as he loves our kitties and his little sister. I’ll take it. At the age of six, Keenan pulled me aside and we had this conversation.

Keenan: Mom, do you think I’ll be a good husband some day?

Honestly, how could he not? Clearly this was something that mattered to him. Ah, but I worried in the tween years when Rachel teased him about juggling girlfriends. Then high school. And Kristen. I love watching them together. I love the balance they have, the way they are so different, but the same. I love the way he loves her. She’s pretty special, too, the way she shares him with Kenna.

So you really can’t blame me for worrying about his departure, wondering when we’ll see him again, and struggling to make sure he’s prepared all while squeezing as many memories in as possible. We’ve had our last family vacation, celebrated his last prom, stockpiled everything he may need for…years. I’ve been snapping pictures left and right.

The boy has tolerated every moment of it, maybe even embraced it some. At the moment, I feel pretty good about things. I’m so proud of the man Keenan is becoming. It’s not just about who he is when I’m watching, it’s about how he acts when I’m not. Sure, he swears like a sailor when he thinks I’m not listening. I can live with that. Yes, he kisses his mother with that mouth. Ah, but he has a kind heart and a gentle way with everything smaller than him.

We used to call him the animal whisperer. It wasn’t uncommon to come home and discover some rogue lizard had found its way into the house and onto Keenan’s lap while he watched television. The kitties LOVE him. Poor Pepper is going to be broken hearted when he leaves. We’ll comfort each other, if she lets me. Oh, and Kenna. Most of all, I hope Kristen doesn’t become a stranger. I’d love it if she were more like the rest of my girl. I about have to peel off Kenna and Rachel.

The boy filled a hole in my life. His departure will leave a hole in my heart. First with the thirteen weeks without a visit. Thirteen. Whole. Weeks. Then, he could be anywhere. What will happen to us? He’s not one for phone calls. They are all business, clear, concise, and to the point. The same for his text messages.

Hopefully our relationship will evolve. I’m trusting in this, in the strength of our bond which began long before he was born. I’m believing the sound of my voice will still stir in him the strength he needs to survive. And I’m holding fast to the family ties which are about more than blood and biology.

Go out into the world, boy. We’ll be here, loving you, ready and waiting, filled with pride in your accomplishments. You’ve served our family for years. We’ll gladly share you with the rest of the country. Never forget where you came from, or that you always have a home. May your career path be everything you’ve searched for. May you find great fulfillment and never have to jump out of a helicopter. (Seriously, who does that?!) Go make the world a better place with your brand of magic. Thank you for being you. You changed me in all the very best ways…except my stomach. You owe me a tummy tuck. Kidding. Mostly. Ah but most of all…a quote from one of your favorite books:

I’ll like you forever. I’ll love you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

Keenan, I hope you know the best part of my life has been raising you (and your sisters). I’m so honored to have been your mom. The worst part of my life is learning to let you go. Be patient with me. I’ve spent years trying to keep you alive, safe, healthy, happy, and secure. This is hard for me. I watch you and know you’re doing the right thing. Go be awesome.

We survived.

Last day of school picture! My how she has grown.

Yesterday was the last day of school. It may be the last ever for Keenan, who will be graduating on Monday. For Kenna, she has barely begun.

Still, yesterday was different, which wasn’t easy on my incredibly structured preschooler. Kenna thrives on routine. She suffers greatly when it is altered for any reason. Even starting school last fall rocked her little world.

See, in the past, she has managed to survive anything as long as I was there with her. Kenna made it through the NICU with my touch and the sound of my voice pushing her through. This isn’t simply my belief, it’s more of a fact. She thrived when we were together. The numbers on the machines proved it.

So imagine how stressful it was for both of us when we had to be separated three whole school days a week. On the one hand, I knew it was essential to her growth, just as I understood while she was in the NICU for 183 days, she was where she needed to be. No lies…both situations were hard to accept. Ah, but I pasted a smile on my face and never let her see me cry. Either place.

I can absolutely count on one hand the number of times I dropped Kenna off and she didn’t cry. There are literally four times I can recall. Luckily, today was one of them. She ever so stoically stood there and stared at me as I slowly backed out of the room after reminding her what an amazing day she’d be having.

After forty long weeks, I breathed a sigh of relief last night while doing laundry. (Yes, I lead a wildly glamorous life.) I’d wondered what I’d write about this school year. I agonized over how to adequately share it, this huge milestone. The first thought that came to mind…we survived. We did. Both of us, apart yet together in this change, this incredible adjustment.

It was good for us. We can be independently codependent.

You see…Kenna was my solution for empty nest syndrome. If not for her, we’d be alone come fall. Just me, Sam, and a couple of cats. (Shoot, without her, we probably wouldn’t have them either.) If not for Kenna, I’d sleep more, work uninterrupted, forget about cooking meals, travel frequently, and exercise daily. Maybe.

If not for Kenna, I’d have no why. She became my reason for everything. Everything I’ve become in the last four years is because of her. She’s the reason I learned to make a career of writing and promoting. She’s the reason I’m still smiling and silly, instead of old and stodgy. She keeps me young. Though she only stayed inside me for twenty-four short weeks, Kenna is still part of me.

Our time apart was a period of growth for both of us. While I started the year dreading it on more levels than you can imagine, I’ve since grown to appreciate the time to work on my projects, meet friends for lunch, get a haircut without someone freaking out. (Yeah, Kenna’s not a fan of salons.) Most of all, because I miss her, I enjoy our time together more.

In turn, Kenna has come to enjoy learning from others, participating in experiences she wouldn’t have with me. I probably wouldn’t let her roll around in wood chips on the playground or smear glue all over her neck, or sprinkle glitter in her hair. These are the benefits of going to school. She gets to make new friends and adjust to life on her own, away from me. She doesn’t have me as a buffer, which is sometimes a good thing even though I imagined the worse.

At least she’s sitting on the potty!

And now we begin the long and arduous task of potty training. You have no idea how long it’s taking me to accomplish anything because getting her out of diapers is everything. It seems throughout her short life, nothing has come easily to her, been simple, or a natural transition. No, Kenna faces life with her heels dug in. She wasn’t supposed to make it out of me alive after two weeks with no amniotic fluid. She wasn’t supposed to survive because given what the doctors had experienced, it wasn’t possible.

So Kenna has learned to breathe, and graduated from an oscillator, a ventilator, CPAP, high flow O2, low flow O2, and now no O2 at all. She learned to eat at the age of two and a half in only three short days. She graduated from IV fluids, to an NG tube, a g-tube and overcame an oral aversion to finally eating by mouth and being able to brush her teeth. Seriously, she can do this. She can graduate from diapers and learn to go on the big girl potty. We can do this. I see pictures of her and am constantly reminded of how far she has come. It’s hope.

Days like this when we’ve already blown through panties and pull-ups and had numerous fails, I have to remember all the positive. (Like I’m positive my husband better bring home some wine and chocolate when he’s done work.) Mostly, I’m positive that a few years from now, this will be a distant memory, another struggle we overcame.

Have an awesome day.

Long time, no talk.

At the NICU picnic.

Yes, it has been a while. I’m sorry. I’m doing the best I can, really. I’ve wanted to write. I’ve started roughly five different posts over the past few months and simply haven’t published them. None of them sounded like me, or the version of me I felt comfortable sharing.

There was the whiny one where I lamented how tired I am. Seriously, you’ve all heard this before. No need to beat a dead horse. I don’t get as much sleep as I’d like, but I get enough to survive. See? Still kicking.

There was the angry one where I grumbled about the help I’m not getting. Of course, I knew what I was getting into when I married Sam. I knew he’d always mean well, be incredibly needy, think he does more than he actually does, and would be wonderfully, wildly inconsistent. I’m still here. So is he.

There was one where I just gushed joyously and oozed happiness. It might have been okay, but then, as often happens, life nailed me and I was back to reality where I’m more content and comfortable than sappy.

She’s worn out too. 🙂

So here I am. The real me. The one who is gloriously grounded in reality. It’s a good thing because if nothing else, my life is real.

As I write, Kenna is napping. (Hallelujah!) Sam is running errands. Keenan left for work. And I’m done answering questions for the moment. Maybe.

This is the last week of school. Kenna survived. Barely. She still cries every day when I drop her off and breaks my heart. We both recover quickly and I work my tail off in her absence while she learns and plays and grows. Those three days a week have been better than I imagined and more needed than I could have guessed. Still, I’ll treasure our summer, aside from the potty training, and look forward to five days a week of heartbreak in the fall.

There have been so many changes since January, I can scarecely remember what life was like before. January was when I started Love Kissed Book Bargains, which has grown exponentially in every way imaginable. By February, I had branched out and started offering promotions. Just one at first, then two, and now I’m up to four or more promotions a month. Finally, by helping others achieve their goals, I’m achieving mine. (Or I’m much closer than I was before.) I’m still writing, but not as much. Maybe I can change this over the summer. Fingers crossed.

Physical therapy.

Kenna has four therapy sessions outside of school three days a week. So we make the long hike uptown. Mondays half a day is spent between the drive, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. It’s exhausting for both of us, but so worthwhile. You can’t imagine the changes I’ve seen in her since she started. I’m so stinking proud of her. She’s talking more. She’s getting stronger, moving better, and developing her fine motor skills.

As the school year ends, she can count to twenty, count backwards from ten, recognize and label those numbers, shapes, and colors. She can even spell her name. It’s really cute. We’ll chalk all of this up to progress.

Her teacher is confident in her abilities and though we still have her in a special needs classroom for her last year of preschool, she’ll be mainstreamed part of the day. We’re going to push her in the areas of greatest need: socialization. With her sensory issues, kids can easily overwhelm her. Kenna sometimes covers her ears and announces, “Ow! Loud!” Other times, I watch her shrink in her shell like a turtle, simply shutdown because it’s too much. At the same time, she has come so far.

It’s the little things, like now hugging her nephew. It’s the big things, like assembling three word phrases. It’s everything, like the daily joy of watching her develop and grow.

So, forgive me if I don’t post often. I’m so very busy living. We’re beyond survival mode and are well on our way to thriving. There are still occasional road blocks, and stumbling blocks, even a few wooden blocks, but mostly we face our challenges as we always have, loving each other through it. I’ll try to be better with sharing it. No doubt I’ll be reaching out during the next leg of our journey: potty training. (Hold me.) We’ll be starting on Friday. There will be pull ups, and potty chairs, and wine. (Hey, I’m human.)

Happy summer! Go be awesome.



It’s a constant fight…

So…I really wanted to write a happy post today, but I’m a little frustrated. Instead, I’m going to vent.

There’s a reason so many families with special needs children end up divorced or in therapy or both. Marriage is hard enough, but add in a child who needs extra attention and loads of medical and therapeutic intervention and the challenge multiplies. It’s not just the obvious stuff.

Sure, some of it is. The husband feels financial pressures from being the bread winner because sometimes the mother can’t work outside the home. Kenna came home from the hospital on oxygen, a heart monitor, and a feeding pump. She wasn’t going to any day care. She didn’t need a babysitter or a nanny. She needed a nurse.

Luckily, I was able to supplement our income as an author. Then I saved money by learning to market my books, and other authors started hiring me to help them too. It worked enough. Over time, with the fluctuations in the market, my income has increased and decreased, but it’s getting better again. I’ve found my groove. I think. I hope.

Even now, I couldn’t go back to work if I wanted to. There’s no way I could make enough for it to be worthwhile, for one. And what employer would offer me the flexibility I need, for the other. This is one of the many things Sam doesn’t consider. Three days a week she has school and I have to drop her off at 7:15am and pick her up at 2:30pm. There’s no busing for her. She couldn’t handle it with her sensory issues. I carry her into the building every day. She gets freaked out and refuses to walk. Then there are all the doctor appointments. Sooooo manyyyyy appointmentssss! Now we’re adding in therapy with OT and PT on Mondays and we’re not sure which other days, plural, for speech. Suffice to say, on Mondays, I’ll leave the house at 9:30 and probably not return until close to 12:30 or 1pm. There’s half a day right there.

Smiling, happy Kenna. <3

Ah, but aside from the money arguments and your basic who does more and works harder argument, for which he doesn’t have a leg to stand on because if he goes to work and comes home and I do everything else…it’s me, there’s also the rearing of the child. See, raising a special needs child is different. Discipline is different. Expectations must be adjusted. One of us isn’t so good with that and teeters between frustration and over-indulgence. *raises hand* Not it. Yeah, I spend a lot of time trying to teach him how to parent. It’s a good thing I get roughly four hours sleep a night.

Most of all…there’s that. Kenna’s meds have stopped working. We had a glorious three month run. Sam, whose sleep is not impacted at all from her being up from 3:30am on, argues with me on a daily basis. I’m tired of hearing about it.

Sam: You need to go back to the sleep doctor.

me: We already have an appointment.

Sam: Well, it’s probably not even the right diagnosis.

me: We had a sleep study. It’s the right diagnosis.

Sam: The meds aren’t working.

me: Obviously. We’re going to have to increase her dose.

Sam: No. They need to give her something different.

My blood is boiling by now. I go to all the appointments. I meet with all the therapists and doctors. That he doesn’t understand isn’t because I don’t share with him, but because he mostly doesn’t want to be bothered with things he believes I’m handling. So…let me handle it. I don’t need to be micromanaged. It irks me. And I say this because I’m normally too polite to say it pisses me the fuck off. Only now, with little sleep…I’m starting to slip. My normally refined and controlled demeanor is cracking and my edit button is on the fritz. Because this is how the rest of the conversation went down the first night of the argument.

me: Do you have any idea how many meds there are to treat her?

Sam: No, but they need to try something else.

me: Two. There are two meds.

Sam: There has to be something more. They can just give her something more.

me: We’ll be changing the dosage.

At this point he began talking over me and continually repeating himself while I was trying to get Kenna to sleep. It just kinda slipped out…and yet I meant it completely.

me: Shut the fuck up, Sam.

See, I added a curse word, his name, and the phrase I never use and raised my kids to believe was horribly mean. I’m going to hell. Oh, but he stopped talking. I think it was the shock. I think he realized how strongly I felt about the situation. And the shock and silence lasted for all of one night. Because the next few nights we’ve had the same argument and I don’t even respond because I’m not only tired of listening to him spew the same non-sensical, uninformed crap on a nightly basis, I’m tired of trying to counter it with reason, logic, and information. What do I know? Um, pretty much everything when it comes to caring for Kenna in every way, shape, and form. I’m in the trenches.

Luckily, I think the fight finally came to a head this morning before he left for work. He started the same argument again when I mentioned I’d been up since 3:30am. It’s not all bad. You have no idea how much I can accomplish once she falls back to sleep around 5:30am. I managed to get in a workout (three days in a row), and do some of my social media sharing. I invoiced authors. I picked graphics for projects. And now, I’m writing a blog post. I’m an animal.

Sam: She needs a different medicine.

me: There’s only one other medicine.

Sam: Well, she needs to be on that then. They need to try something else.

me: Stop. Enough. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

Sam: Will you just listen to me?

me: Sure. Then will you listen to me?

Sam: Fine. So…they need to try different meds. Maybe Lunesta, or Ambien, or Clonidine.

At this point he’s naming off all the meds he’s ever been on to treat his undiagnosed sleep disorder. Very helpful.

me: Are you done?

Sam: Yes.

me: Good. She can’t be on Clonidine. It’s meant to lower blood pressure and she has a heart condition. They need to be careful of drug interactions. The other two are meant for adults. They don’t give kids all the same meds as adults.

Sam: They can try a small amount. Just cut a bit off a pill and try it.

me: Really? *sighs loudly* The FDA has to approve meds for use.

We went through this with Kenna in the NICU. The doctors had to get FDA approval before they could give Kenna some medicine that escapes me. And I remember thinking how strange it was that the FDA would have to decide if my baby could have what she needed to live. Scary stuff. Yet at the same time, necessary. I get it.

Thus, I’m frustrated. He doesn’t understand the system. It feels like he doesn’t understand Kenna. And often, I wonder if he’s not questioning my ability to handle the situation. Still, I’m not backing down. I’ve got this. Sleep doctor on April 15th. We’ll get Kenna’s sleep figured out. Maybe I’ll get back to holding my tongue. It could happen. As for Sam, he’s gonna have to figure it out. I can’t do it for him. I’m being as patient as my sleep deprived, overwhelmed self can be.

So what’s my blessing? It has and always will be Kenna. She’s worth the sleeplessness, the stress, the fights, the appointments which force me to wear something other than yoga pants, and all the rest. Kenna.

Have you ever noticed how it’s everything at once?

So this. And pretty much more of this.

Once again I have failed to maintain frequent posting habits. I’m waving my white flag because I’m seriously surrendering to my life.

It has been totes cray cray on all fronts. Whoa. People don’t even say that anymore. This is how out of touch I am. Forgive me? See, I have big real stuff going on.

The boy moved back in and while I love having him, it’s a change. He comes and goes. He forgets to flush. He eats and I shop more. He hasn’t embraced our laundry schedule so…there’s more of that too. Still, he gives me hugs and snuggles with me and Kenna on the couch during the day while Sam works. His little sister lights up at the sight of him. It all balances out.

Then there’s the ongoing saga of our switch to Verizon. If you’re considering it…don’t. I mean it. Walk away now. Hell, run! Remember the adage about if something seeming to be too good to be true, it usually is. That. All of that and then some.

We started our switch on January 31st because Sam needed to add a work line and we were supposed to get this discount because his company is a preferred partner or some jazz and it would be cheaper. Check your calendars, people. The drama from this has lasted longer than some of my relationships. There’s a fun fact for you. We started it at 5:45 on a Sunday evening, thinking we’d have plenty of time since the store closed at 7pm and we’d have time for family dinner at a restaurant. It went badly…like we didn’t leave the store for the final time until 9:15pm. I even left and took Kenna to eat around the corner after this little exchange with the woman working with us.

me: Are we close to being done? It’s 7:30 and I need to feed her before bed.

woman: What time did you get here?

(Please note, I didn’t get an actual response to the question.)

Sam: Quarter of.

woman: Oh, you’ve only been here forty-five minutes. That’s not bad.

me: Quarter of six. We’ve been here an hour and forty-five minutes.

woman: Oh.

Then I picked up Kenna and left. Sam was supposed to meet us. He did. Long enough to order a drink and realize the new phones weren’t working. Then he left. We ate. And when we caught up with him again and finally left, 9:15. No working phones.

I could give you the long version of what has since transpired, but ain’t nobody got time for that.  So, the condensed version involves me making roughly a dozen phone calls to various numbers provided online and in their paperwork over the next six weeks with breaks while I waited for them to process various items and get back in touch. Their entire phone system is designed to hang up on you if you don’t use one of their options. If you do use their options, chances of speaking to an actual person is about the same as winning a Powerball Lottery Jackpot. In fact, when you do get a human, it feels much like winning, until you realize you actually know more about the trade-in/switch process than the person employed by Verizon.  Suffice to say, it has been a complete nightmare. No one who works for them knows how to do ANYTHING. The trade in department helped me to complete the trade in online…incorrectly. They have one job! The number I called to remedy that told me I’d called the wrong department and proceeded to give me the same number I had dialed to speak with them. I can’t make this stuff up. Oh, and I had to email the final bill AGAIN and they never responded. I had to call five days later to make sure they had received it. This brings us to last night.

guy: What email did you send it to?

me: The longest email in the history of emails.

guy: Well, then you sent it to the right one.

While we were talking, Kenna dumped her new bubble mower on the couch. Bubble juice…everywhere.

me: Oh my word!  Kenna!

guy: (chuckles)

me: Trust me, this is only funny because you don’t have to clean it up. Now can we check to see if this is fixed before I lose it? Trying to switch to Verizon has become an actual job for me.

So this may be fixed. Finally. We just have to mail in our old phones. To say I’m skerd is a gross understatement. There are so many ways this can go wrong, as Verizon has effectively proven.

Mostly, I don’t have time for this because Kenna has roughly three to five therapies a week on top of preschool three times a week. I’m now spending all my time driving her everywhere. I hate driving. I’m bordering on anti-social. Hell, half the time I no longer care if I leave the house. This is what three years of holing up every winter to keep her healthy has done to me. The anti-social comes from raising a special needs child. People have no idea. They don’t understand. And they are quick to judge what they know nothing about.

Her future’s so bright, she has to wear shades.

Take yesterday. Leaving preschool. Kenna managed to walk out of the classroom with a Peppa Pig book that belonged to the school. The teacher took it from her before she left the building. Now picture it. Kenna’s literally the first child to leave out of five preschool classes with roughly ten to fifteen kids per class. Lots of kids. Lots of parents. For a child with sensory issues, this can be challenging to begin with. Add in the confusion of why she couldn’t have the book along with her inability to communicate it, and we have a code red volatile situation on our hands.

I’m picking her up and walking away while she first whimpers, then cries, then explodes into a full blown tantrum in my arms while people are watching and I’m trying to keep her from hurtling herself out of my arms onto the gravely tarmac. Good times. Getting her board stiff self into a car seat, even better.

me: Kenna, the book belongs to the school. It has to stay there so all the kids can read it. You have lots of books at home. You can read the book again tomorrow.

Oh, and when that didn’t work.

me: Pull it together, girl, or no french fries.

Yes, this is her after school treat. We pass a McDonald’s on the way home. For fries, she’ll do almost anything. In this case, she dried her tears, and offered a half smile.

Kenna: French fries.

All was well with her world. And when she’s well, everything is so much better with mine. We’ll get through this. Soon this Verizon crap will be a distant memory while I count down the days until we can go back to AT&T. Soon Kenna will be all caught up and we’ll forget how hard we worked to get her there. I look forward to this and cling to this imagined future because right now, reality is kicking my butt. (Don’t worry, we all need a good butt kicking now and then. It keeps us alive and focused and reminds us what matters.)

Most of all, I feel guilty for complaining at all. Our reality is a million times better than what could’ve been. Kenna is worth it. I’d rather be running her all over the city than visiting a grave and staring across the hall to an empty bedroom. I’ll take my crowded bed with her cold feet at 5 every morning with no Sundays or holidays off. I wouldn’t know what to do with all that extra space on the couch. I treasure my life, even if it is equal parts crazy and overwhelming because all of that is overshadowed by the love.

I’m going to take a breath and get back to work. May your days be filled with enough crazy for you to appreciate the peace and enough love and friendship to take the pain away.

Take time to appreciate the wonder in your life.

This post brought to you by the letter ‘T’ and fear and loathing

Sam’s convinced we’re about to live Idiocracy. It’s a comedy…or a cautionary tale.

We watch a lot of preschool programming in our house. Still, every night, we turn off the kid shows in time to watch the news. Sam’s a huge fan of ABC World News Tonight. For years, I avoided the news and we’d argue about it.

Sam: Don’t you want to know what’s going on in the world?

me: No. It’s mostly depressing and ugly. I don’t want to be sad.

The argument would continue, with him completely confounded as to how someone with my education and intelligence could want to live such an insular life. This is an election year and I wish I’d held strong and maintained my original stance. The coverage is mostly comprised of Donald Trump rallies. In turn, I’m mostly depressed and sad.

Sam: Why don’t you say something? Why don’t you do something?

Ah, yes, because everything falls on me. Now I’m supposed to somehow fix the world’s problems. He has such faith in me, like my little blog is going to change the world and everyone’s opinions as they read. I’m pretty confident The Donald is blissfully unaware of my existence. I’m equally certain that if we knew each other, we wouldn’t be friends. I’m not one of these people who is easy swayed by celebrity or money. I like my people with substance, intelligence, and common sense. In lieu of intelligence, I’ll take a good heart. I gravitate towards those who do good.

All of this should explain why The Donald isn’t getting my vote. At the same time, I wonder why anyone would give him their vote. Seriously, why?

Forget for a moment that he behaves like a school yard bully, insulting everyone who opposes him. Hell, if he knew me he’d be telling me to go home to my mommy right now in his most condescending voice and mannerisms. I’m okay with that. Visiting my mom, not an insult. She’s awesome. She’s loving and caring and is always there for me. If it weren’t a sixteen hour drive, I’d see her more often.  Me, I’ve never liked bullies. I’ve always told up to them, toe to toe, and refused to back down. I don’t scare easily. In this, Trump and I are alike. We can both make people cry by using our words. Only my words aren’t insults. I don’t resort to name calling. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence doesn’t have to. What does that say about Trump? Now, I’m not calling him an idiot, but I’m certainly insinuating that the next POTUS should be able to carry on a conversation that most closely resembles one heard in halls of congress, than one from an elementary school yard.

Ugh. Trump is pathetic. PS. Danny has a new fan.

As I’m subjected to the news coverage, I grow increasingly frustrated that anyone would consider electing this man without a plan. Yes, Trump is a man without a plan. I saw a meme the other day. It was this quote from a Trump interview where he basically circled around the topic, blathered on for a moment, and then deflected to talk about some guy’s hat. He never answered the question, never said anything. He was the quintessential kid who didn’t prepare for the debate or do his homework, faking it and ending with words to excite the crowd. Seriously? One on one. Let me talk to him. Let’s discuss how you think you’re going to get Mexico to pay for the wall, Mr. Trump. You remind me of those parents who get all made and make these outrageous edicts like, ‘You’re grounded until you graduate’ even though graduation is three years away.  Oh, hey, or my personal favorite: you’re in big trouble!  Really?  Tell me more about this trouble of which you speak. So when Mexico refuses to pay for the wall you insist we build, what happens then? Is that whole country in big trouble? Are you going to go punch someone in the face? This seems to be the whole of your strategy when met with anyone who goes against you.

You talk a big game, but I watched you cower behind the podium, Mr. Trump, when it was rushed the other night. Then you stood tall and claimed you were all ready to take care of business. I’m gonna call bullshit because you looked more ready to mess your pants and go home to your mommy. What happens when a day comes where the police and secret service can’t protect you from the ramifications of your loose lips? Seriously, the only reason you get away with saying what you say is because of this country you live in. You spout lies and call them truths, constantly. You refuse to back down even when you’re wrong. You have no diplomacy skills whatsoever. How long before you have every other country ready to blow us off the map?

I watch these rallies and see how you have divided a nation. Just imagine what you could do to the world? As I recall, there is at least one Saudi Prince gunning for you if you become president.   Will America be forced into never-ending conflicts because of you running off at the mouth and insulting people? Do you think theses countries aren’t watching as you encourage violence while you parade your ego across the stage?

What does it say about my fellow Americans, that so many of us aren’t able to wade through your bullshit to realize you have said nothing? ISIS is bad. ISIS must be stopped. Sure, we all agree with that. How do you propose we do this? It’s not like the military, FBI, and CIA haven’t been trying for years. How is your plan so much better?

Oh, but you don’t have a plan, do you? How are you going to balance our budget when you can’t even keep all your business afloat? Those bankruptcies have contributed to our national debt. Don’t you feel even the least bit guilty thinking you are good enough, smart enough, forward thinking enough to run this nation? Because I don’t think you are.

These are educated objections to you candidacy. Now, let me address a more personal area. I don’t like you. There. I said it. I mean it too. I don’t like you, Mr. Trump. (And the ‘mister’ is far more respect than you deserve.) I’ve watched you insult immigrants, while you married two. I’ve watched you make fun of people with disabilities, which makes you the lowest kind of person to walk the planet. I’ve seen your racist behavior while you claim to not understand why the Ku Klux Klan would endorse you. (Duh. You’re their kind of people, which is why you could never be mine. Sorry not sorry.)  When you quoted Mussolini and were called out, you decided to bastardize a Gandhi quote instead. (I’m certain Gandhi wouldn’t have liked you. In this campaign alone, you’ve pretty much committed all of his seven social sins. Quite the feat. You must be so proud!)

Suffice to say, I don’t respect Trump. I don’t endorse him, support him, or like him. I wish more people felt the same way.

The balance was completely off.

Let me begin by telling you about this uncanny ability I discovered while I was pregnant for my first child some twenty-two years ago. Or more. I remember watching Rescue 911 with my mother. For those of you who aren’t a million years old, it was this television show where they would re-enact 911 calls. Now, I was pregnant. I had no business watching it to begin with. All the emotions.  So many tears. Eventually, I wised up and stopped, but not before I discovered I could see what was going to happen.

It was an episode where the mom was mopping the floor. The phone rang, she left the bucket on the floor while she went to answer it. Her crawling baby was playing in another room. I remember looking over at my mom.

me: That baby is gonna drown in the bucket.

mom: We don’t know that. Did you see a preview?

me: No, but we know something bad happens and I’m telling you, it’s a baby in a bucket of mop water.

Sure enough, minutes later, the mom is freaking out because she turned to discover her baby drowning in the mop bucket. It was terrible. Really really painful to watch. After my own babies were born, this ability was only heightened. Through the years, it has prevented many injuries while frustrating both my husbands. (Not at the same time. This is marriage number two, remember?)

Fast forward to yesterday.

Sam came home from work early, showing up around four in the afternoon with DD’s. For those of you not from Charlotte, these are the best chicken wings in the whole wide world, even if I do question the reasoning behind tucking celery under the wings to cook before I can get to it in their styrofoam containers. Let’s focus on the positive: he brought home dinner! I didn’t have to cook! No dishes!

We ate an early dinner and I cleaned up while Sam and Kenna played. Soon enough, she had dragged him to her shoes.

Kenna: Shoes on!

Sam: You want your shoes on?

Kenna: Uh huh.

Sam: You want to go outside.

Kenna: Uh huh. Uh huh!

me: She’s only going to want to wear her fancy black ones. The sneakers represent school for her.

I don’t know if he didn’t believe me, or he simply wanted to see for himself, but he held up the two pairs of shoes and let her pick. Naturally, she went with her fancy black shoes. Who knew? They disappeared outside and I took advantage of the quiet to feed and water the kitties, clean the litter box. A few minutes later, I walked outside to throw away the bag of poo only to find Kenna on the swing in the front yard.

Instantly, I froze. See, I’ve played on this swing with Kenna. I keep two hands on her ALWAYS because she has this tendency to forget what she’s doing and let go. Sam…only had a hand on her back.

Sam: Look! She’s doing great.

me: She might let go…

Sam: I’ve got her.

It was like watching a train wreck. I couldn’t avert my eyes. I could already see it happening in my head, the way she’d slide off the swing and slip out of his grasp. In my mind, she even lost consciousness. In real life, she only made a loud thud as she hit the ground. He had her…sort of. He caught her back and butt with his one hand, but her head and neck caught the brunt of the fall.

I know it’s hard being a dad, tempering the thrill of rough housing with caution. Trust me when I say it’s even harder to be a mom and watch it, anticipate the worst and balance the need for caution with the desire to not annoy the crap out of the husband and thereby earn the killjoy label. Normally, we’re in complete agreement about Kenna. Raising a child is a constant balancing act of holding on and letting go. It hurts when our balance is off.

Neither of us spoke at first as he scooped her up off the ground. Kenna’s eyes were wide in shock in fear. She seemed afraid to move in his arms.

me: I’ll meet you in the house.

He rushed inside while I threw out the bag and quickly followed. By the time I made it inside, there were tears, but not much crying. Kenna reached for me because…I’m mom. We cuddled a moment while Sam and I checked her out. It took a moment to pick all the dirt and twigs from her hair. We laid her on the couch to finish the examination.

Sam: I mostly caught her.

me: Listen, it could happen to anyone. It was an accident. I’m not blaming you. I just want to know she’s okay. She landed hard on her head and neck.

Sam: I know. I want to make sure she’s okay too.

He didn’t need me to make him feel badly. This was his baby girl. He already did. Minutes later, we had concluded she seemed fine. Slowly, she started moving and walked over to the television for Team Umi Zoomi. We watched her and as time passed felt better. She had a shower, where we finished getting the dirt out of her hair. Then we read books, did some puzzles, and snuggled.

Around 6:30pm, she started screaming out of the blue. We gave her Tylenol and tried to comfort her unsuccessfully. While I held her, I pulled up WebMd on the phone.

me: I think we need to go to the urgicare.

Sam: I think it’s just a bump on the head.

me: Well, it could be a concussion. She’s not acting right. This isn’t normal.

He agreed. So we rushed off to the urgicare. I had hoped to avoid the ER, thinking the urgicare would be a quicker option. Sam parked and rushed inside to check us in while I hauled Kenna out of the vehicle. When I walked inside, he was having some difficulty explaining things to the woman at the desk.

me: Listen, she’s essentially non-verbal, so we can’t tell if she’s slurring her speech. She has a nissen, so she can’t throw up. She has hypotonic cerebral palsy, so her balance is always a little off. She landed on her head and neck so she needs to be seen.

Yeah. I put my foot down, completely undeterred by the predicted two hour wait. Less than five minutes later, a nurse had pulled us back to talk to us. Head injuries trump everything else going on there. The doctor saw us and directed us to the ER.

doctor: We don’t want to play around with a head injury. She needs to be seen.

So we hopped in the car and drove to Kenna’s hospital.

Sam: We should’ve gone there to begin with.

me: I thought the urgicare would be faster. *grinning* In my defense, we did get out of there in record time.

Stickers. Kenna’s version of a Bandaid. They make everything better.

The ER was packed. I was frustrated by the lack of urgency I saw. We went through triage and were sent back out to the waiting room…where we waited and waited.

Sam: She has a head injury. I’m about to say something.

me: You saw me at the restaurant the other day. I’ve got this.

Kenna was restless. I stood with her on my hip.

Sam: Sit.

me: Nope. If the next room isn’t hers, I’m going up there. They triage for a reason. This isn’t a deli. It’s not first come, first served. This is the children’s emergency room. Do you see anyone holding their chest, having difficulty breathing? No? Then what’s more important than a head injury? The problem here is everyone is treating this place like a damn doctor’s office instead of an emergency department.

After looking around, he nodded. And…we were given the next room. I posted a picture of Kenna and Sam snuggling. Friends reached out to ask how she was. I think this response says it all.


We left without ever seeing a doctor. Guess it’s time to send the boy to med school. Finally, a PA came in and we decided against a CT scan. No ibuprofen. Only Tylenol. Watch her for 24 hours. She should be completely better in 5-7 days. Me? It may take a bit longer. My heart was in my throat. Even now, I find I’m swallowing my worry, watching her like a hawk.

Today, her speech is normal. Her balance is better. So is ours.