Friday, September 24, 2010

Love Letters to my Daughter

This month has been tough on Alice. We always have a little bit of a rocky transition to the start of the symphony season. As a "lonely only" she is spoiled in terms of enjoying undivided parental attention. Summers are especially luxurious because I am off of work for three months. Usually we ease into the season - a few rehearsals here, a few concerts there... It's never easy for Tim and Alice when my work starts in the fall, but it's usually more of an annoyance to them.

This year has been very, very different. It's the symphony's 75th anniversary season. We kicked things off about a week earlier than usual with rehearsals for Amadeus, a collaboration we did with a local theater. The schedule for Amadeus was pretty intense. I was gone most evenings, some days I was gone all afternoon and evening. This week hasn't been much better. Last night and tonight are our gala concert. From Tuesday through Sat we were / are scheduled for six rehearsals and two concerts. Its a lot.

It is great to be busy. The symphony is doing very well, which is something to be extremely grateful for in this economy. The schedule has taken a toll on my family, though. Last night as we lay in bed talking, I mused that Tim and I had only seen each other a total of about 5 minutes in 48 hours. He leaves for work just as Alice and I are getting up and I leave for rehearsal as soon as he gets home. He's stayed up a few nights waiting for me, but at some point you just have to get some sleep!

Poor Alice is not doing well with the sudden shift of schedule. She is about as flexible as a rock anyway, and this has turned her little world upside down. I see her a lot more than I see Tim, but it is a far cry from the luxury of summer. On more than one occasion I have had to pry her off of me as I've left for the theater. "Tell them you quit" has become one of her favorite phrases.

I started leaving her notes in her lunch box. Just short, stupid, silly things like "Roses are red, blueberries are blue, cookies are sweet, now go eat your sandwich!" She LOVES it. She carries them with her the rest of the day. Then she started writing me notes that I would find on my nightstand when I came home from rehearsal:
This is just a sampling. She is prolific in all things artsy, this included. Tim says that she writes them every night after he tucks her in because she misses me the most then. I love them, but having so many little cards and post-its floating around was making me a little bit crazy. They are not something that can be thrown out or recycled easily because if she found out it would greatly offend her. (And I can understand that because if someone threw out a love note that I had just written to them I would be sad and offended too.)

So I came up with a solution:
It is not a Bible. It's a blank book for us to write back and forth in. She writes in it and puts it by my bed, I write back and put it by her bed.
So far she is loving it. I am too. I am hoping this is something we can do for many years.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spencer's Angels

Alice is very perceptive and very bright. She is also a worrier. Because of this we've told her, in an age-appropriate way, about why I've been seeing the doctor so much lately. Honestly, I don't think we could have kept it from her. A few pregnancies back, when things were so early we had not told anyone (and had been very careful not to talk about it in front of her) she kissed my tummy and said, "hello baby!" A few weeks later, the morning after I miscarried, she said, "Mommy, why did the baby come say goodbye?" It gave me chills.

We have never told her about a pregnancy but she has known about all the losses. In our thinking it was less stressful for her to understand on a basic level what was going on than to see Mom and Dad upset, Mom going to the doctor all the time and Alice having no idea what was happening. Each time we told her that we were sad because we thought that she was going to have a brother or sister but the baby went to heaven instead.

This actually gave her solace when we had to put our cat to sleep last fall. It was her first tangible brush with death and she was devastated. She drew a picture of Spencer with wings sitting on Jesus's lap with little tiny angels flying around his head. She said that she was sad but the angel babies could have a turn playing with the cat.

So, she understands at least a little bit what is going on. Yesterday, though, we had an interesting conversation:

"Mom, why is the doctor trying to MAKE you have a baby?"

"Um.... Well... Actually, the doctor isn't MAKING me have a baby, Daddy and I WANT to have another kid in our family because you're so great." (I could see where this was heading and I wanted to try to head things off with flattery.)

At this point Alice looked like I had slapped her. The looks that crossed that child's face were incredible: betrayal, horror, disbelief...

"You don't want a sibling?" (BAD question, Mom!)

"If I have a brother or sister then I won't get all the attention!"

Which is exactly why we want to have another child. Well, one of the reasons, anyway...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You Can't Kill the Rooster

A month ago I consulted with a reproductive endocrinologist for recurrent miscarriage. I don't want to go into it now; let's just say we have had too many heartbreaks in the baby department.

Today I had a follow up appointment to discuss the masses of tests that Tim and I have had in the past 30 days.

Among other things, Tim and I both tested positive for two genetic mutations. If you are related to either of us by blood, you should consider being tested, or just follow the treatment.

MTHRFR genotype (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) impairs the body's ability to process folic acid. The treatment is folic acid supplement - check with your doctor for how much because the normal amount doesn't cut it. I've got a prescription, our doctor suggested 1000 mcg for Tim.

PAI-1 (Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1) causes clotting problems. As in, you have a difficult time getting rid of blood clots. Treatment for this is a baby asprin every day for life.

Alice has always been our wondergirl. Today was the first time I realized just how amazing it is that she is actually HERE. Because, medically, the odds were stacked high against her from conception. I suggested to Tim that we nickname her "rooster" as in, "you can't kill the rooster" (Alice in Chains). Alice didn't like that because, "roosters are boys and boys are stupid. Except for Daddy. And Brandon. And Ildar."

Friday, September 3, 2010

When Elephants Fight

As part of a parenting course Tim and I participated in, we watched a few videos of lectures by Rick LaVoie, who is a special education expert. (I HIGHLY recommend watching his lectures, by the way, even if your child does not have learning disabilities. F.A.T. city was especially enlightening.) He ran a school for children with learning disabilities. On the wall of the room where they held the IEP meetings, he had painted, "When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled." Meaning, when adults fight the kids lose.

"When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled" has been my mantra since school began. Things have happened that have made my blood boil. We looked at pulling Alice out. Tim and I are both strong believers in public school; the things that went on in the first two weeks of school seriously shook that belief. To say that things were (are) tense is an understatement. Tensions have been so bad between the parents and administrators that there has been an armed police officer on duty since the middle of the first week of school because the teachers and staff felt threatened.

My tactic has been to kill them with kindness. There have been several times where I've really wanted to go in and yell and scream at *someone.* Then I stop and think, "When elephants fight the grass gets trampled. There has to be a better way." I have made friends with everyone I can possibly make friends with: the crossing guard, the secretary, her teacher, other teachers, the armed police officer... I have also been in there volunteering about 12 hours a week since school started, primarily because it was the only way I felt okay about sending her to school. I'm doing room mother type things, but not in the classroom. I really like the ladies in the work room and it is satisfying to be able to go in, work for awhile and actually SEE what I've accomplished. I plan to continue volunteering all year simply because I enjoy it.

Now, three weeks into the school year, I'm cautiously optimistic that things are going to be okay. Knock on wood.