Monday, January 31, 2011
...As feared. I called the BOE this morning regarding Handsome Man's assessment. Their answer was that since he scored well on the tests (i.e. he is smart--but we knew that) they are NOT going to move forward and provide us with an IEP (Individual Education Plan). I have been on the phone all morning and have had a good cleansing cry.... and I think I am now ready to FIGHT. I spoke to HM's psychologist and she basically said that not getting an IEP was bullshit AND illegal, re: Federal and State Mandates. I have some homework to do this week. *Sigh*
Monday, January 24, 2011
Thank you everyone for the comments/support. The appointment for Handsome Man went really well (I think). The gentleman that did his assessment was an absolute saint. He kept taking HM outside to run in between questions/tasks because HM could just not. sit. still. (Came to find out that this man also coaches track and field--ha ha). Anyway, it took us a while to get through all the questions and tasks since we had to keep taking running breaks in order to get HM's attention/focus, but he actually did really well. In a way I'm afraid he did too well and he won't be let into the program, but the assessor assured me he would let the board know exactly what he had to do and how hard he had to work to get HM to focus long enough to answer questions. He also told me (and of course I already knew this) that HM is very smart. Yep. I know. We just need some extra help so he can use that brain and learn in school!!
So now we wait for the letter which will tell us 1. if he's "in" and 2. what their recommendations are going forward. Fingers crossed.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
So things seem to be not getting better with Handsome Man, despite our best efforts so far. After several visits with the child psychologist (who originally diagnosed his ADHD/ODD) we were encouraged to try some medication. We were against it at first, but, as time went on, we realized we needed to do something to break the cycle of bad behavior=negative attention=more bad behavior. We're not just talking about your typical 3-year-old stuff. I can go into more detail at some point, but let's suffice it to say that we felt desperate. Not just for ourselves, but for him. It breaks our hearts to see our beautiful boy struggling so much and dealing with so much. It is not that he is a "bad" kid, "spoiled" or anything like that (though that may be what it looks like to the outside observer--just ask any of the people gawking at us the other day when he had a major meltdown at the grocery store). He can not control his impulses. At all. And his emotions are all over the place and totally out of control. He is suffering, really and truly. It is like he is trapped in his own mind/body that is just not functioning the way it should, the way it could. So, PLEASE don't send me hateful messages because I put my preschooler on medication. We debated. We tried special diets first. We consulted with a doctor of TCM also (and still are). But we needed to do more. And so, at first the medication seemed to help. And, then, not really. If anything, it seems like things are getting worse. Our follow up yesterday with the child psychologist confirmed this.
Anyway, the reason for this post is, really, to ask everyone for their prayers or good thoughts for us TOMORROW. Because tomorrow we (finally!) have our screening scheduled with the County Board of Education/Special Ed program. They will assess Handsome Man and then we will find out if his condition qualifies him for the program. WE NEED THIS. If he gets into the program we expect they will have a behavioral therapist who will be able to work one-on-one with him at his school, and they will create an "IFP" or an "IEP" for us--and I'm hoping, we'll get plugged into a greater network of help that we can utilize. I am still trying to sort everything out and figure out where to get help and how. When you find out your child has a special need, it's not like someone hands you a manual on what to do. It's more like following a trail of breadcrumbs.
As far as the meds go, the pediatrician said we could safely up his dose, based on his weight/height etc.. I am going to try this and monitor him carefully. The psychologist said we should be able to see improvement within one week if it is working. If not, then we need to try something else. I asked her for a referral for a child psychiatrist, who could help us with this more on the medication side. Obviously, I don't want to drug my child without cause, or forever, but we need to find a way in with him, so that we can even get to the point where he can benefit and handle say, weekly sessions with a behavioral therapist. At this point he's not even able to do school, unless I'm there to shadow him throughout the day. This is difficult for me to do since I have Grace with me.
Please hold us in your thoughts tomorrow morning, and hopefully we will be getting some more help/answers soon.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
When Handsome Man was a young toddler, his grandparents gave him a red radio-flyer wagon. The wagon is outfitted with two seats, which fold up and down, and seat-belts, for pulling around precious toddler belongings, or for pulling around precious toddlers themselves. HM absolutely loved his wagon. And I loved pulling him around in it, too. Our trips to the park were just that much more Norman-Rockwellian: my toe-headed boy in his bright red wagon, and me the picture of parenthood towing him along, singing silly songs or making choo-choo sounds. But, as every silver lining seems to have a grey cloud to many an Infertile, I always looked wistfully at that empty second seat. I envied the invisible multitude of parents out there pulling around full wagons, those that had purchased this model to hold not one, but two little kids. It made me sad not just for me, but for Handsome Man, too: I never wanted to raise him as an only child.
Then, last spring, amazingly, Grace came into our family. As the spring turned into summer, I thought about that wagon, but I felt she was still too little and fragile for wagon rides. And, Handsome Man was moving on to bigger things now, like a big boy bike and cool helmet. I figured that by the time Grace was robust enough to ride in the wagon and go over bumps without sliding down or falling over, that Big Brother would deem the wagon 'baby stuff' and want no part of it.
Then yesterday, the sun came out long enough to warrant a trip to the park down the street. Grace was sleeping, so HM and I went together while Mister stayed home. At the park there were 3 other little kids--all riding their bikes. Handsome Man then wanted to ride his bike too--so we trudged back home to get it. When HM gets something in his head, it is very, very hard to dissuade or redirect him; this is part of being a three-year-old, and part of it is his ADHD. So, when we got back home, got his bike, put air in the tires, and then realized we'd left his helmet behind at grandma and grandpa's house the previous weekend, the melt-down began. Which of course woke baby sister up from her nap. The pleasant afternoon was about to turn into another one of our marathon melt-downs that can go on for hours. I could feel my muscles tightening and my mood plummeting. Then, as a Hail-Mary and said, "would you like to take a ride in your wagon?" Amazingly, he looked at me, stopped crying, and smiled: Yes! It worked! "Can baby sister come with us?" I ventured. Sometimes he is less than enthusiastic about sharing his things, or more importantly, his time with Mommy, with his baby sister. To my great surprise his answer this time was "Yeah!"
So there I was, pulling around the little red wagon with two kiddos. Grace loved her first wagon ride. Handsome Man is almost too big, his long lanky legs taking up a lot of space, but he seemed to thoroughly enjoy being pulled around, and kept saying, "Faster Mommy!" Our trip to the park eventually turned into a long walk around the neighborhood, met with many smiles from the neighbors. I couldn't help but think of how lucky I was, and what a very perfect moment it was. I know by the end of summer (or even sooner) Handsome Man will really be too big for his little wagon and like many of his other old toys it will become Grace's by default. So I was very grateful to have a wish fulfilled. I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy enjoying the moment as it happened. I did however, take a picture the other day of a similar moment while shopping at Cos.tco. The only place I know where the shopping carts are double-wide: fit with two seats for little ones. Again, even though HM is really too big for the seat, he wanted to ride this time. Maybe he was just tired from all the walking, or maybe he just wanted to ride along with his little sis. Either way, precious.
Monday, January 10, 2011
As the days speed by me at the beginning of this new year, I find myself gasping for air, to find a moment of peace to reflect on the year that was....that I am leaving behind.
2010 was a Big year. It began with me joyfully entering my third trimester. For the first time in my life I was enjoying a healthy pregnancy and I was relishing every minute of it. The year also started with us taking on the project of turning our small one-car garage into a third bedroom, to expand our minuscule house in order to make more room for our growing family. All seemed well, like things couldn't be better. But it was soon clear that with all this expansion and joy, there would be some pain and sacrifice. It became obvious that I would have to make the very tough decision to close my business. A business that I had tended to and watched grow over some 13 or so years. But, due to the faltering economy, and the financial needs of an expanding family, the (mathematical) writing was on the wall. I would have to let it go. I could not afford (financially and energetically) support a business that was not supporting me. And so I grieved--really grieved-- the loss of my first "baby" and started transitioning my life and mind toward being a full-time mom. Of course, I did this with gratitude, too. Of course having this baby, and these two children, was what I always wanted, more than anything else in the world, and I was aware of that. But, still it was painful to say goodbye. Then, my darling Grace was born--a little earlier than expected. The C-section was not how I envisioned bringing my child into this world, and that too was a sadness, but again, I was aware of the big picture: A healthy baby, which was the most important thing of all! And, to my great surprise and immense joy, she was a SHE...the daughter I had long dreamed of. The next several weeks were more difficult than I could have imagined. Mister did not get a lot of time off of work, and I was overwhelmed with taking care of a newborn, and a three year old who was not reacting well to being an older brother. He reacted with anger, frustration and even violence (toward me) and I cried and cried, worrying that he would never come to love his little sister. Add to this the fact that in the early days Grace was not putting on weight, and we fretted. Breastfeeding didn't go well, and I hated my body once again for not doing what it was supposed to do. Add to this some postpartum depression, and the promise of help from my mother-in-law that did not materialize, and there were moments where I just didn't know if I could do it.
Somehow, like millions of women do every day, I did it.
Then as the spring turned into summer, we moved forward as a family, and I juggled the responsibility of being a full time mommy to two kids, while fulfilling the last of my work obligations and managed to produce about a dozen more weddings from May through October. It was clear, that I was making the right choice. It was no easy task. And what made it even more clear that I needed to be at home, was the realization and confirmation by professionals, that my son has ADHD. The diagnosis was at once a relief (ok I'm not crazy!) and a stress (holy crap, what do we do?) This is a question that we are still trying to answer, and as we move into 2011, will be at the top of my priority list. Many of my new year's goals (I don't make resolutions) will have to do with getting Handsome Man the help that he needs, and the help that we need as a family to cope with this the best way we can.
On the day that I completed the last wedding for my business, in October, my beautiful Grace turned 6 months old. And started crawling. I thanked God that I would be around this time to see every new accomplishment my baby would make--unlike with Handsome Man's first year, when I worked SO much.
Summer turned to Fall (my favorite time of year) and I enjoyed my newfound 'freedom' from work--I cooked, made home made baby foods, we carved pumpkins, I volunteered at preschool, and we looked forward to the coming Holiday season.
Then, the day before Thanksgiving, we discovered at once that I was pregnant, and that it was not to be. An emergency surgery, my second abdominal surgery in a year, and a cancelled Thanksgiving. I am still sad but at the same time grateful every time I look in the backseat as I drive down the road and see my two beautiful children sleeping in their carseats, or playing together on the living room floor. Every time I hear Grace giggle and every time Handsome Man runs up to me for an unsolicited hug.
We rang in the New Year on a happy note, celebrated with friends who also have a new baby. We made a trip to the snow and then cooked a beautiful meal together. I started out this year a totally new person. A much stronger person for the difficulties I've overcome. A happier person who is no longer carrying around the shroud of sadness about being infertile. I am not dragging around my envy and longing. I have everything I want, even if there is much that I would like to accomplish still, and like to have. Whatever happens, or doesn't happen, I know we'll be okay, that I'll be okay because I've made it this far. There are lots of struggles ahead. Ones that I'm aware of, and ones I haven't realized yet. I would like to say "I'm ready! Bring it on!" But the truth is, I don't know if I'm ready or not. I know I have limitations, but I also know that it will be fine because I'm starting 2011 liking myself a whole lot more than I used to. I am more aware than ever of my many shortcomings, but I'm more secure in my strengths. I am learning about myself.
Looking back on the year behind me, I acknowledge the losses, and accept them, because I have gained so much. When I weigh the sadnesses and the struggles against the joy and the gifts I've received, the scales are tipped well toward one direction. My cup runneth over.