Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Click...I unsnapped Corbin's car seat and he quickly swooped his arms around to play with the red button on the buckle. He was completely starving, tired, and oblivious. I wrapped him in Big Blue so he wouldn't catch a cold and we headed towards the hospital. It was so different, but exactly the same. As the doors parted to allow us into the bright lobby, I noticed a volunteer getting a tour....the irony was definitely not lost on me. We made our way under the waves of iron cascading from the ceiling with tiny crystals...dreamcatchers...dangling in the light. "Last name"...Bray..."First name"...Corbin..."Has he ever been here before?"....no.

But we had. Just before I got pregnant, Richard and I began volunteering at this very hospital. I rocked the babies in the PACU and he helped cheer up the sick kids. We wanted to give back some of our time and also share in an experience we believed would bring us closer together...help us appreciate all the gifts we had. I remember going in one Friday night and comforting a very tiny newborn. He was covered from head to toe in Vaseline. There was a stack of Vaseline containers against the wall next to his bassinet with a sign instructing the nurses to only use them on him. He had a congenital skin disorder that caused his skin to just flake off. Without the Vaseline, it would be painful. No one was allowed to use his Vaseline because the parents could not afford it and were frantically taking donations so that they could care for their new baby. I can't remember his name, but I'll never forget his face. On the other side of the hospital, Richard had seen a little girl, around 2, sitting on a nurse's lap at the station. Katie Bug. She was playing with the screen in front of her...helping the nurse take her white blood cell count. She knew exactly what to do...all she wanted to do was play with the other kids in the toy room, but unfortunately, her count wasn't high enough.

By no means am I trying to compare our situation to these, but it just felt ironic that I could suddenly understand the worry these parents must have felt. We checked Corbin in and waited. He cruised around the lobby...kissing the stuffed animals in the gift shop and banging on the glass at the cars outside. Finally they took us up. We walked and walked and walked...went through several doors with keypad locks...and made our way to a door with a sign reading "endoscopy" on the outside. I didn't expect to walk into THE room. But we did..machines everywhere, nurses everywhere, and a tiny TV playing cartoons to distract Corbin. We soon found out that we had to stay while they put him to sleep and then we would be escorted back to the waiting area while the procedure was performed. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. I won't describe it..I'll spare you the details..but I will say that we both cried the entire time...words can't describe the image, especially when its your child. The procedure took about 45 minutes and then the doc came to talk to us. He was anything, but sensitive. Probing on why we saw an allergist, why we thought there was a problem. I left feeling as though I might just be imagining Corbin's issues. Gotta love doctors with great bedside manner. Turns out that everything was normal, no tissue damage and no sign of anything out of place...but we are still waiting on the biopsy results. He was confident it would come back normal and we should just keep giving him different foods to see if he has a reaction...and if he does, just keep giving that particular food to him to see if he gets used to it. Must be easy to say when he's not your child.

We went to recovery, where Corbin was understandably screaming and fed him. He ate just like normal and once he was all dressed in his favorite PJs, he was a happy boy. We took him home and it was as if it never happened. He was happy, took naps, ate like a champ...he was a lil' trooper. Seeing us now, you would never know. Seeing Katie Bug's parents...you would have no idea. I've become so aware of the people around me...wondering what their personal struggles are. Could they have a baby at Levine's? Could they have just lost their job and worried about how to feed their family? I saw a woman yell at a cashier yesterday at our grocery store because she wasn't moving fast enough. What if that cashier went to see her sick child before her shift? Would that have ever crossed this woman's mind? Probably not. I wish that woman had seen Katie Bug. It's funny how the smallest thing you say to someone could make or break them...people you don't even know. As we walked out of that hospital that day, we both needed a small pat on the back. We came home to a nice meal from my mom and a good friend's company that night. She'll never know it, but her words will stay with me for a very long time. Life's funny like that. No one is aware of their true impact. I try to tell people when they look nice....when they've said something funny...when they've helped me through another day. Actions may speak louder than words, but sometimes the words are what help us get back up the next day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I do

I promise to laugh with you and cry with you, To stand by your side and sleep in your arms... ~From our wedding vows :)
So yesterday was our 3 year anniversary...Yup, 3 years ago today I was opening envelopes full of free cash and packing to head off to Maui tomorrow...urgh, those were the days. Just a short 3 years later...I'm sitting in front of a computer, not showered, haven't brushed my teeth, dreaming about noon so I can down the leftover fries in the fridge. Shit...hold on..I'm gonna eat them now ;) Oh what time will change. We had an awesome day planned...nope, not going to a fancy dinner..nope, not going on a fancy trip...hello, do you people not keep up...those were things the old, fancy Alissa and Richard did...so you guessed it, we were going to order in and catch up on DVR. I don't think I've ever been so excited in my life to ship the bambino off to Grandma's and bunker in with the hubby. And Chinese...And Brothers and Sisters, Eli Stone, Lipstick Jungle..basically anything that comes on after 9pm. Have a kid..you'll understand. So we woke up and I called Grandma to tell her that we'd be dropping the lil' one off after Richard picked up Chik-Fil-A and Starbucks..only to find out my nephew had a bad virus complete with fever and vomitting! Boo..don't get me wrong, poor Emmett and Erica, but boo! We obviously couldn't risk a stomach bug with the upcoming biopsy, so we were forced to come up with Plan B. Grandma came over for a fun filled day of Corbin sans vomiting and fever...and we set out on a day of whatever we could find to do.
So we started out at Cracker Barrel...a nice consolation prize to Chik-Fil-A I might add..but we got Starbucks anyway. I have to say...CB added a new breakfast skillet to their menu that I wish was in our fridge right now. Yummm...fries and eggs...I swear I'm not pregnant. (God that would suck at this point). After breakfast, we headed to Concord Mills. I HATE Concord Mills. It reminds me of this HORRIBLE job I had for a short time. Seriously, it was like a stop light in a small town...if you blinked (is blinked a word?), you would have probably missed it. Anyway, a friend of mine and I used to head to Concord Mills to escape the insanity of this place at lunch and it makes me want to vomit anytime I think of those bright yellow floors. BUT seeing as we are in money saving mode..we thought we would try it out..give the ol' girl another shot. Man, we hit the mother load! We were supposed to be Christmas shopping, but of course, just shopped for Corbin the entire day...yes..have kids..you'll understand. We found t-shirts for $1.99 and polos for $.99 at Children's Place and we stocked up for next summer. Richard and I, all along, arguing about what size to get. He, of course, thinks Corbin will be a baby forever, so would have had him in 6 months clothes when he was 2 ;) We also got him this awesome turtle costume for next Halloween for $5.99!! What a great day! Thanks for puking, Emmett!! As a splurge, we bought Corbin his favorite bubbles from Gymboree and headed home to show him. He was ecstatic and Grandma said she would stay so we could go to Chili's since those Buffalo Chicken Bites had been calling my name from inside the tv. They are like sliders, but AWESOME...hold on..I have to go grab them from the fridge ;) Yummmm-o! So all in all, it turned out to be a nice day even though it wasn't exactly what we had planned. Happy Anniversary, Dickey!
When we stopped at Starbucks yesterday morning, there were news crews and a helicopter flying overhead. We asked what was going on, but no one seemed to know. We figured it was an armed robbery, but someone said there was an ambulance that took someone away. Sad that we just assumed robbery, like we are totally numb to the crime that's happening in Charlotte, but it turned out that a man had run into the ladies restroom and left a newborn baby!! Just a few hours old. That poor baby boy...it makes me want to go and get him. While everyone feels so sorry for that sweet lil' baby, I can't help but feel sorry for his mother too. It's obvious that people will worry for him, but what kind of situation must you be in to think your best solution is to leave him in a bathroom in McDonald's. Giving birth..no post-natal care..I couldn't pee for 3 days after having Corbin (TMI sorry)...I can't imagine the pain she must be in. My hope is that that sweet boy will use this as his strength and someday you'll see him again...maybe even as president :) Life is never what we picture it to be. If it was, it wouldn't be fun. Sad at times, difficult at others, but making it through those times is what makes the easy times so much sweeter. So much more worth it. I scheduled Corbin's biopsy this morning. Dec. 1 at 11am....he'll be snoozin' in dreamland while they check out his belly. We are still trying to get over the reaction he had to the one bowl of oatmeal and two Cheerios I gave him. Poor lil' guy even got a yeast rash from it. The new horror is that whenever he hurts he calls "mama"..god it was awful. Richard was holding him and he was just reaching for me crying "mama"..there was nothing I could do...nothing but time makes it better.
I've gotten a little more perspective on the situation lately. While focusing on the struggle of Corbin's mysterious ailment, I realized that its actually a compliment. What if, the universe was waiting for us. Knew we were the best thing for Corbin...the people who would give Corbin everything he needed and would be able to help him more than anyone else. What if you get what you can handle in life? You get what you need to find your true meaning. I always knew I was supposed to be a mother. I even took hell for it at my first job...like it was a flaw I had..to want to be a mother and stay at home with them. What if this characteristic..this drive...this passion is my gift to give back? Make Corbin's life better than anyone else could. I believe this. What if that sweet baby boy ended up with the wrong parents...or his true parents couldn't have him for some unfortunate reason...they are just waiting for him....his unique journey is how he finds those people who will help him find his true meaning. Life isn't as we planned...there will always be a Plan B, C, D, .....Z. I love that...I love that my joy will always be based on my struggle...will always make me stronger, happier, a more beautiful person. Time will heal the pain of the journey ...and with time, you'll find your true "plan" :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sit, Rocky, Sit...F*@#in' SIT!!!!

Babies control and bring up their families as much as they are controlled by them; in fact ... the family brings up baby by being brought up by him.-- Erik H. Erikson
So I'm standing in the front yard, Corbin on one hip. "Come"..no response..."Come here"...no response..."Come here, NOW"..small step forward..."Do you want a treat?"...I've never seen that fat dog run so freakin' fast. My fake alpha male voice doesn't even work a bit...just makes me sound like an amateur imitation of Darth Vader..I mean come on..its a dog. Aren't dogs man's best friend? Would your best friend make you look like an ass in front of all your neighbors? Hmm, that's questionable, but seriously..I think I've ruined the dog. He listened GREAT when Rich and I started dating. Now he's ruined. I'm hoping this isn't foreshadowing my future as a crappy mother. We always tell friends we HATE it when people claim they have dogs as practice for kids. Do you wipe your dog's butt? Do you hand feed your dog? Do you rock your dog to sleep at 2am? Yeah, my point exactly...but do you think that it's discipline training? Is Corbin going to be hell on wheels because I've ruined the dog proving that I can't discipline ANYTHING?? I swear..I'm a good mother.

Our life has gotten a little tougher lately. Corbin has come to the end of the fruits and veggies train and is now seriously eating us out of house and home. I'm assuming that thin nasty formula and veggies just aren't cutting it and you should see his poor lil' face when his little friends get to eat cheesecake while I offer him mushy sweet potatoes. In an effort to make all our lives a little easier, I called the GI and asked for an allergist recommendation. Along with a specific doc's name from a woman on CM, I found Dr. Gray Norris. I set up an appointment with my future savior for a consultation and a skin test. You would think that if most women dread vaccinations, having your child's back pricked over 2 dozen times would strike a small amount of anxiety in you, but at this point, I would take a day of hell over what we have been through in the past 10 months, so let's just get it over with. So we go. Lil' Corby was in heaven. A new place with a big shiny box (aka..the TV) and steps to climb on. That waiting room was his next Gymboree. So we wait..and wait..and wait. Finally after they haul someone off in an ambulance (very encouraging might I add), they call us back. The doc comes in and asks Corbin's history..so I start my list of reactions...milk, soy, rice, and his six month shots. He decides that a skin test would help us out, so he leaves, we strip Corbs, pop in Baby Einstein into the lap top, and we're good to go. They do the test, with just a few tears from our lil' trooper, and the results are in. HE ISN'T ALLERGIC TO ANYTHING! "You are freakin' kidding me?!?!?!?" Those were my exact words. "Yes, 9 times out of 10, the GIs are right, but this happens to be the one time they are wrong." His exact words!!! He tells us that our son has no allergies and does not have acid reflux. Might I remind everyone that a certain someone got a part-time job to pay for formula that this man is telling us we didn't need. (This is where I pick my jaw up off the floor) Deep breath....so the next part of the tale....

Apparently, you can have another type of allergy called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE). It's a good thing I'm typing because I can't pronounce it. It's where white blood cells get trapped in your belly, throat, and small intestine and attack certain foods when you eat them..causing the blood and severe pain. Does anyone else think its a good thing that kids don't remember anything before the age of 3? Yeah, me too. Too bad I have to remember it....Anyway, So we have to do a blood test to see if this is what is wrong with Corbin. If it is, then he just takes a med and he's good to go on even REGULAR formula. "I'm sending our GI a bill." My exact words. Next trauma of the day...holding our child down, so they can take blood out of his arm like a big boy. As you can imagine..red face, gagging, hyperventilating...and Corbin didn't do much better..jk! So he screamed, cried, turned red, gagged, and by the end, Richard and I needed a serious cocktail..or possibly 3. So the wait was on...he promised we'd know by Monday, but one week later, we got the results yesterday. NEGATIVE...urgh! The nurse says to just expand his diet slowly..thanks for calling. I went through the roof! Yup, the doc called us personally.....turns out that the blood test just lowers the chance, but isn't absolute. We are currently challenging him with foods he has shown a reaction to..if he has another reaction, they will have to biopsy tissue from his belly to see if the white blood cells are in there. He made it sound simple, but it just sounds scary.

So I gave Corbin oatmeal this morning. I'm not usually an emotional person, but I cried through the entire thing. He, of course, laughed and gobbled it up because he loves anything that he "can" eat. This just made it worse because in the back of my mind I was imagining him screaming 24 hours later. I guess that's not for me to know right now. I guess it's just one more thing you can't control in someone else's life. It's funny how connected you are to your child. I know there is something wrong and no one would listen to me. I just want my baby to have a birthday cake. Isn't that sad. Somehow smashing your face into a milk-free, soy-free, gluten-free "cake" just doesn't have the same effect..shit..even icing has butter in it. It's like my "he's ok" moment...if he gets his cake. I don't care about the money we've spent or the time and effort worrying, getting frustrated about something I don't understand. Just let it be over..just give him his cake. I don't think you should be judged on the demeanor of your child..whether he sits nicely in a restaurant or whether he learned to walk before he got teeth. How about to watch tv or not watch tv? To cry it out or not cry it out? Who cares??? Who gives a shit if he sleeps through the night because guess what..there will always be something that keeps you up. I want my baby to make the same mistakes I made in life, to have the same fun I have in life. I don't want to read labels anymore, I don't want to be sad when he watches me eat pizza then run through the list in my head of all the things in it that would hurt him. Just give him his cake. So as Rocky manipulates me in the front yard...I don't feel like someday I will be a failure as a parent because he is so resistant until I give him what he wants. I've already succeeded. I bitched at my ped and GI for 10 months that something was wrong..that it was more than a milk allergy. I researched anything from milk allergies to being allergic to DHA (for cryin' out loud) to what order I should test food and guess what, my mommy intuition was right...within 30 minutes of seeing Dr. Norris we got more answers than 10 months worth of questions and unnecessary meds from two other people. No one can "train" to know all the right answers, to do all the right things, to be a good parent...it just comes with the territory. So you just wait...Corbin will have that cake AND eat it too!!