I’ll follow you into the dark

by statia on November 5, 2012

We survived the hurricane just fine, better than a lot of people, but those couple of days are a total blur. I’m OK with that. I spent the days numb, let myself grieve and then tried to pull myself out of the fog and realize that there are little people who need me now. I’m going to fully admit that it wasn’t easy, and they were as understanding as a five and three year-old can be.

The first 48 hours following Gromit’s death were just…horrible. No other way to put it. I never realized that losing a pet was this hard. But when I think about how old he was and how long we’ve been together, it made a lot more sense. I spend so much of my time being wrapped up in my own brain that when something like this derails me, it’s like being hit by a freight train. You (not you personally, just broadly generalizing) can’t even begin to know what that grief feels like. I guess part of it is having had to watch him go. Both the Meester and I realized how much it changed us. We are different people know, having witnessed that.

Gromit and I were thick as thieves. We went through so much together. And really, he was my first baby. Dogs for most people are just that, practice kids. You spoil them and do everything for them, and then you have real kids, and they become dogs. But the thing is, Gromit was already a senior dog before either of my kids came along, giving us so much time together. He saw me get married, twice. He saw me through divorce, and when it was just the two of us, those are the memories I will probably cherish most.

Now that it’s the end of the week, I’m obviously not over it, but I feel better. We can remember him fondly and we feel his presence. We talk in his silly voice, when we talk about him being in his heaven (it has endless amounts of food and he has a bottomless stomach). I can look at his pictures with a little less pain. On Tuesday, I did a pictoral tribute to Gromit on facebook and dubbed it Gromit remembrance day. Those who were lucky enough to be graced by his presence, knew what a great dog he was. If you can call him a dog. He certainly didn’t think he was a dog. He was people.

I’ve found that there are things I couldn’t wait to do when he was gone, to be much harder. The one thing, especially in his later years, was the hair. He shed more than any other lab I had ever met, and as he got older, he always seemed to have endless amounts of undercoat, and he was always blowing it. Tufts of hair were always constantly floating through my house. I always said I wouldn’t miss the hair, but I can’t bring myself to vacuum it up. The blood from his tumor still stains our kitchen floor. Maybe that’s gross and eventually we have to bring ourselves to move on by wiping it up, but not today. LG was playing with a bag of the hair I collected from him on Monday and I got a little short with her. Aside of my memories and pictures, it’s one of the few last physical connections I have. I’m sure I’ll be finding his hair woven in things for years to come, and it’ll make me smile.

While I go through my catalog of memories of our good times, I really am choosing to believe that his spirit is with us, and if there is a heaven, I hope his heaven is filled with everything he loves. The human mind is funny in the way we feel the need to hang on. Whether our loved ones are with us or not is forever unknown, but I’ll take what I can get for now.

 

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Good Dog, Smart Dog, the Very Best Dog.

by statia on October 29, 2012

There’s no way for me to wrap this up nicely.  And I don’t even have it in me to be my usual hyperbolic self. We all knew that our time with Gromit was limited. And forgive me that this will be totally disjointed and rambling, but the Xanax was a necessary part of the day and my body is floating from my head, or my head my body.

Today was the day we had to say goodbye. It was time, but the worst part is the guilt. The guilt, and the anxiety of having to let him go. To watch his life leave his body. Everyone I’ve talked to said it was the right thing. You see his tumor had gotten big enough to finally split open, about the size of a golf ball, protruding from his foot. Splitting open, no doubt was painful for him. We kept it bandaged. He was getting an antibiotic, but eventually, it started to bleed. It stopped healing.

It was ultimately me who had to rip the band-aid off of my heart, rather quickly to make the executive decision and stop being around the bush. His back legs were horrible, his one foot constantly bandaged up and weeping. The Meester was taking a diplomatic avoidance approach, “yeah, I know, we have to call the vet, but I’ll get to it.” I don’t blame him. I feel no judgement. We both knew that the quality of life was declining. But here’s the problem, Gromit was the type of dog that was always content and happy. I’ve never once known that dog to whine in pain, and people, I saw that dog jump ten feet from the ground, over the side of a slide and rip his hip out socket. I saw him recover from surgery, and never once did he whine about it. He was just happy to be with his people. So watching him go from this happy dog, wagging his tail to seeing him quickly end up as a shell of a body that once hosted his soul, it’s just too much for my heart to handle. That image forever etched in my brain.

This is the first time I’ve had to put an animal to sleep. I’ve lost them over the years, hamsters, and things like that. This was my first dog. He was my first baby. He was there for me through a lot of things. He had an amazing spirit and personality. He didn’t want to do the typical dog things. He was happy being connected to us at the hip. He loved to bark at farts in Wisconsin (ok, maybe a little hyperboly).

This is the first time I’ve felt grief that has caused me duress. On top of the sadness there’s anxiety. “Maybe we should have waited.” I tell myself. But every single person that I’ve talked to, experts in grief counseling, experts in dog behavior, our vet, they all said, we were doing the right thing by not letting him get to the point of suffering for our own selfish reasons.

All of this advice has helped, but naturally the wound being fresh, It’s obvious that it’s going to hurt, and I have guilt over it, I’m going to give myself the time to not feel guilty about anything else associated with this day. But the way people truly experience grief in their own way. I’ve heard it before, but today it’s an epiphany.

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Why are there so many songs about rainbows?

by statia on October 25, 2012

Blah blah. Blah blah blah. Something something.

Basically what it boils down to is this:

I’ve double booked us on activities and appointments and all of that, LG is always sick, so the days are a blur. I really can’t find any other creative ways to make excuses as to why I never seem to even think about writing anymore. It’s a shame, since I used to love it so much, but if I even so much as think about opening my laptop, my precious angels will play their favorite game: Let’s see who can top the other at getting Mom’s attention. The winner basically is the one who makes said Mom shove an ice pick in her ear.

Fun times, you guys, fun times.

Priority one is basically getting to the gym at least daily, or doing something. I’ve rediscovered my love of cycling, via way of spin classes. It made me dig my bike out, dust it off and just go. It’s become an obsession to the point of now thinking it’s time to upgrade my bike. I’m a Bianchi girl. I LOVE my Bianchi. Very retro and steel, which I love, and will keep forever, but it’s the itch. The only problem is…

We’re making the push to finally expand and upgrade our kitchen. I don’t need to tell anyone that this is in the category of “I hope you enjoy it because you’re certainly never going on vacation again” territory. I can’t even go into words how much my kitchen gives me hives. Cooking isn’t the problem. My kitchen being stupid is totally the problem.  Oh and speaking of hives, we have a new family member.

Meet Perry:

"I'm gorg. I know."

For years, after I developed serious allergies, I leaned towards not being a cat person. Self preservation, mainly, because I don’t hate cats, but when they make your eyes feel itchy and your nose swell shut (and those assholes know it, so they sit on me), it’s just easier to be all “fuck cats, dude.” But the kids have been wanting a cat. Particularly LG, who loves cats, and unicorns. The latter is kind of hard to find. Believe me, I’ve been looking for years. Before it was ironic and popular. Like bacon and mustaches. Often we’d be driving and the conversation would go like this:

LG: Mom, I really NEED a real cat.

Me: No, what you NEED is a frontal lobotamy.

They were both fully aware that I was allergic. But my boss had told me that Siamese were easier on the allergies. The Mini wanted an animal that would love him, as neither of the dogs care that the kids exist. So in secret we went to a breeder. I rubbed them all over my arms and legs and was fine (Also Claritin, as allergies have been running rampant in this part of the country this year, even for people who don’t typically have seasonal allergies (i.e. me), so who knows if my eyes won’t swell shut when I decided that allergy season is over. Because it’s totally my decision.

So now we have a cat. And you’ll typically hear “Where’s Perry?” in our house. Yeah, that’s where the name comes from.

Having a kitten in the house, I’ve rediscovered something about myself that I had forgotten. I really dislike having baby animals. Yes, they’re cute, but I like my animals adult and self sufficient. Because I hate potty training anything, and I feel as if my life is basically walking around waiting for another living being to shit. Do you know how stressful that is?  But overall, he’s a very laid back and badass cat. He tolerates the kids shenanigans without any complaint or fight. And so far, isn’t the typical moaning Siamese. Also? I’m not sneezing.

Gromit is seriously going to outlive all of us. For a nearly 14 year old cancerous dog, he’s still happy, and eating. What it basically boils down to, is his tumor (dubbed the pinky ring) is going to just become too big and will split too easily. It sucks that I have to make an executive decision over something like a tumor, when he’s still a happy, easy going dog.

Also, I want to become an expert on all things Mid-Century Modern. I’ll let you know when I find a break in my schedule so I can just brush up on that.  Lofty goals, people. Lofty goals.

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I wonder if there’s a color called infected snot

by statia on September 25, 2012

You guys, it’s that time of the year again. It’s really no wonder I hate the change of seasons into fall and winter. I remember how hyped I was when there was a crisp chill in the air. But now? It means I have to listen to my daughter cough uncontrollably once a month. It means I have to hear the loud buzzing of the nebulizer. I probably won’t even bother to take it off my nightstand until next spring.

And now we all have some variation of what she has, with her as the clear winner (loser? I mean, she has it the worst, so I’m guessing loser, but in the pain olympics, she is the winner). I have to admit, when she didn’t get sick in the first two weeks of school, I began to get a little giddy, nay COCKY. “Maybe we’re in the clear. Maybe she’s finally grown out of i…” BAM! “Oh nevermind.” But on the upside, she’s now old enough to appreciate her sexy frog voice.

Moving on, though. You guys know how much I love a good home project. True to my word, I didn’t really do anything this summer. A few things not finished over the summer. Nothing really worth mentioning. But now we have a running list, and a firm deal that we don’t move onto the next project until one is finished. This proving extremely difficult for me, but I’m learning to walk away from starting something new. Our basement is currently in the process of being cleaned and painted. A month long project (part of which included the Meester’s office, which is nearly done), I’m just about ready to start painting and dudes, WALLPAPER. I spent five, almost six years trying to eliminate the last remnants of paper off of the walls, and here I go, being stupid. But it’s one wall, grass cloth. In the basement. Our plans are to make it a bar, recreational area. A place where toys will not be welcome. I laugh when I say this, because toys are in every single corner of our house. It makes me crazy.

And I’m not sure if I ever mentioned (along with a lot of things, like LG’s results of her eval with our OT, but a deal is a deal, I can’t be mixing subjects, even though I already did, talking about illnesses and home projects. Sorry), but my love of paint caused me to fall into a part time job at my local paint store. It’s come in very handy, for a major paint snob like myself. My favorite paint doesn’t come cheap, so it’s nice to get the discount. And while I swore I would never work in retail again, I am in love with working there. Mixing the paint, mingling with people who don’t say poop eight million times a day (I draw the line at six million). I’ve always loved color. I loved rainbows and unicorns when they weren’t ironic, like bacon. Looking at a rainbow wall of color all day is like eating chocolate without calories.

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You’ve got to keep on moving.

by statia on September 13, 2012

I got an email from a friend this morning.  Asking me how I keep it together, as she knows I went through a tough time last year.

If I seem like I bounced back and seem composed all the time, far be it from me to pull the wool over your eyes.  That isn’t to say I’m not feeling better, I am, but it’s actual mental work on a daily basis.  I’m sure it’s mental work for anyone on a daily basis, but suffering from anxiety with two small kids sometimes feels like scaling a mountain.  Maybe it’s harder for others, maybe it’s easy, but this is MY mountain and I’ll get anxious if I want to.

Generally, I will full on admit, I’m a hot mess.  I don’t really hide it.  My friends know I suffer from anxiety.  It isn’t something I go on bragging about, but when I flake on something, it’s easier to laugh at myself and make the joke first.  Like, “Oh, dude, I’m so fucking ADD, I totally forgot again. FRIEND FAIL!” Whether or not it’s annoying, who knows. Maybe my problems are “White People Problems.”  But opening up about them makes them real, and easier to deal with.  And here’s how I deal.

1.Meds: I think everyone and their dog is on some sort of medication these days.  Medication has become the new norm. Either society is becoming vastly more fucked up as each generation goes, and genes are becoming more damaged, or we’re just more aware and able to “fix” whatever the problem is.  I don’t love this. I’ve said it many times, the meds are like a necessary evil.  And even though I’m on them, I don’t always agree.

2.Routine: Having two kids in two years, I just gave up on myself, and working out, or anything of the sort.  The fact that the Mini had developmental delays on top of that didn’t really help. A lot of my time was spent either having therapists over for appointments, or shuffling him to and from, and then school started.  Now that they’re both in school (albeit opposite schedules this year, and I’ll delve into how THAT’S going another time, because me and PM kindergarten are having a tiff right now, and no BJ’s for PM kindergarten anytime soon /frigid bitch), I made it a point to put me time in there.  I either go to the gym, or get out and ride my bike.  It has been YEARS since I was on my bike before this summer, and I had forgotten how in love with riding I am. It’s helped my mental state more than it’s helped me to get in shape.  The getting in shape part is the added bonus, really. I now need less medication and I find that working out has become such an intergal part of my life and routine, that I can’t go a day without doing something active. I feel out of sorts and cagey when I don’t do something. That simple hour – hour and a half is amazing. I know working out is hard to get started. People think of going to the gym, or doing something and it’s daunting and overwhelming. But even something as simple as starting out with a nice walk can do wonders for your mental health.

3. Therapy: Seriously, lots and lots of therapy.  After my stint in the hospital, I fought tooth and nail to get into an out patient program. Two weeks of 9-3 sessions were so exhausting, but they gave me this feeling of accomplishment and hope.  I felt that I could do anything. I still see a therapist once a week. She’s amazing and I love what she’s done for me.  That said, therapy is something you have to be ready for, and you have to embrace it whole heartedly. I’ve had many failed attempts at therapy. Either a bad therapist, or just that I wasn’t really opening myself up. I wasn’t facing what was going on in my life truthfully.

4. Humor: Yeah, I know, right? But my sarcasm isn’t only a fight or flight tool, it helps me to see deal with the small things, like my children being on my last nerve, or the Meester saying one more eye-rolling ridiculous thing. When you feel like shit, it’s hard to roll with it.

That said, my days are still so hard to get through.  I have mental moments every.single.day. I feel guilty that my kids are suffering when I snap over something. While I’m now learning to catch myself, and use “self talk,” it’s not a perfect thing.  What mom hasn’t flipped her lid over hearing “Momomomomomomomomomomomomomom,” one too many times?  My worst time is getting out of the house. I am super agitated when I’m running late, and my “anxious fits” upset the Mini.  All he wants is for me to be Happy Mama again. And that’s another thing that snaps me back.  He’s actually started to tell me to “take a chill pill, Mom.” Maybe that sounds like he’s being snarky and a smart mouth, but he isn’t. He’ll tell me to “go upstairs and get yourself together.” Wise words from a five year-old. It’s his way of saying “Hey, stop being such a cranky asshole.”

I’m learning to let go, and not feel guilty for every little thing I do “wrong.” I’m learning that an extra hour of television one day, or 30 more minutes of DS time isn’t the end of the world, if it means that I’m able to get that extra time to decompress. I know that I can’t ever stop being anxious, but the funny thing about my kids journeys, is that its a road paved with self discovery.

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Fighting the wormhole.

by statia on September 6, 2012

It started kind of like this:

Well, wait, more like this: My anxiety has started to manifest itself in different ways. It’s definitely better. Overall, I feel less anxious about certain things. But, like anything, I don’t know if I can avoid it completely. So, there are times when I ruminate about things. But my ruminations are about big things that are beyond my control. For the most part, I can stop myself and put it out of my mind. I’m anxious about my parenting. I still feel very clouded, and less present than I would like to be. And that’s how it started:

The internet is ruining our lives, I thought. All of this mindless bullshit that just takes the focus off of what’s important. Information overload, and I can’t manage to pull my attention away from it. I wonder what it would be like to live without the internet for a year? I wonder if that’s been done?

Well, of course its been done. The internet being what it is, it seems that on a daily basis, we’re assulted with yet another viral video of something, but most people, giving up the internet, still don’t manage to write about it on a regular basis. So my search led me to Paul Miller. But as he’s nearing the halfway mark of his project, you’ve probably heard of him five months ago. But the thought of doing something along these lines left me giddy.  And then you stop and think about the magnitude of something like this in the digital age. It’s nearly impossible. Technically, I don’t know if I can avoid it entirely, but I can probably limit it to the point of what’s basic necessity. Email, maybe downloading books on my kindle. As it stands now, I don’t really fire up my laptop unless the kids are forced into quiet time by watching something on TV. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not sneaking time on my iPad, or checking facebook on my phone.  I recently decided to sell my iMac, because really, all I was using it for was a glorified internet portal.

All of this makes me realize how disjointed and clouded my mind is. I wonder how much withdrawal comes with something of this magnitude.  I wonder if my family can survive a no internet challenge.

And just as I was finishing this up, the Mini snuck into our room.  I felt his hand, but failed to even realize it was him.

Operation Internet Addicts – no-so-Anonymous is beginning.

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Making Memories

by statia on August 29, 2012

With the Mini’s language starting so rote, It took us what seemed like forever to have pragmatic conversation.  Old habits die hard however, and he sometimes reverts to echolalia when he’s processing something we’ve told him.  It gives his brain that extra few seconds to hear what we’ve said, and repeating it cements the words, so that he can answer appropriately.  Obviously, throw in the fact that he’s a five year-old boy. They don’t have the best attention span to begin with.

Our bedtime ritual has been pretty consistent since birth.  Bath, quiet time, stories, and then we lay with each of them.  Taking turns.  I love it, but it gets really old, because it takes us a good hour for bed time, and now there’s “can I have a glass of water?” and other such tactics to stall the process.  Normal normal normal.

Every night, the Mini will ask me the same thing.  ”So, what did ya do today?” A rote phrase that I’ve tried to redirect and get him to ask other things.  Sometimes he’ll ask a few times, and I get a little annoyed.  I’m not proud of that. Now, however, it’s become “our thing.”  A running joke. Now we laugh about it, and scramble to get to bed first so we can beat the other one at asking.  And you can’t ask until you’re laying in bed.  It’s the rules.  We’re like Jack in Mr. Mom, during the boss’s race.  Tripping each other. Grabbing shirts.  I’ve even done a full on fly through the air to land on the bed first….”SO WHAT DIIIIIID YOUUUUUUUUUU DOOOOOOO TODAAAAyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?” And then we erupt into fits of laughter.  I love these silly little things that I can look back on and remember.  I do it often with each stage.

Last night, he woke up after I had gotten back from a girls night out.  For whatever reason, peeing in our bathroom was easier than going the one door over to their bathroom.  He asked me to lay with him, half asleep.  I follow him back to his room, and as he climbs into bed, he laughs and say softly “So, what did ya do today.”  And we laughed and then he fell back to sleep.

He was super proud of himself this morning for pulling one over on me.

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Step on a crack and break your mother’s back

by statia on August 27, 2012

I would just like to know where the hell the last five years went.  Because today, I put my precious little baby on the big giant school bus.  He got on like a champ. He didn’t even break a sweat. And then?  Then he went to KINDERGARTEN!!!

Our district is only a measly half day (two hours and forty minutes to be exact. A step down from the full day pre-school last year). Up until this morning, I would have gladly asked the bus to slow to a roll, while I chucked him on. I wasn’t upset. I had brief moments of anxiety, but mostly? I’m selfish and FREEEEEEEEEEEEEDOM (semi-freedom, anyway). I’m so close to being able to just do endless amounts of shopping in my pajamas.

But the minute that kid got on the bus and sat down. The minute I couldn’t see his little blonde head through the window, I may have cried a little bit.

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If you like Pina Coladas…

by statia on August 17, 2012

“Have you talked to BFF lately?”

“Why don’t you just call her?”

One of the things about my nervous breakdown, everything lead up to it, and following it, was my BFF. I haven’t discussed much of it here.  But my breakdown affected her.  I mean, having the close relationship that we had.  She was and still is, my second sister. She is every bit as loud and quirky as I am. And I love it.

And I lost that.

After I ended up in the hospital, she distanced herself. It was hard for me. Generally, when you have a friendship like ours, there are still things that you might not discuss, but with her, I could call her if I was taking a shit, and I needed some coaching getting through it. I mean, I didn’t, but it was implied.  And I had never had that type of friendship before.  I’ve had good friends, this was just, different.

I mean, listen, I’m a pretty guarded person, and while I’m social, it takes me time to warm up to people.  Perhaps this is why I’ve always loved blogging.  I get to know someone on a different level before I have to meet them, or open myself up. I can keep it as superficial as I like. Because it’s so much easier to just give a LOLZ and a :o ).  And if I have accepted you into my inner circle, I will call you an asshole. It’s just what I do. It’s a term of endearment for me. If you are an asshole, nay, if you are MY ASSHOLE, I love you.

Err. You know what I mean.

So when she started to distance herself from me, and things started to get weird, I was distraught, even despite our conversations about space, I understood. If you love someone, set them free.  But I’ll tell you, I hated not talking to her on a daily basis.  I hated not being able to call her up and tell her I was wearing my Tuesday underwear on Thursday. No one else would call me a fucker in a classy restaurant because I got gelato in her chocolate.  And I felt horrible. I felt guilty, because what if I took too much? Was I expecting too much from a friend?  To me, my true friends ARE my family. But I wanted to look back in 30 years and say “Do you remember when…?”  Just like I have with other “family” and also family.

Tonight we went out.  It was the first time we had gone out, just the two of us in 8 months. Probably longer. I wanted so badly to talk to her. It never really happened. When we hung out, it was weird. Kids, being perceptive creatures they are, would hang on us constantly, afraid to miss something.  They KNEW.

It was almost like old times.  Except both of us knew. That conversation was looming. I was just about to say something, finally working up the courage, and she says: I don’t want to be a bummer, but…

And we had that conversation. It was long. But long overdue. And while I’m not sure if things are the same, they feel better than they have in a long time. For the first time I feel like tomorrow I can call her and tell her about how I forgot to wear underwear. Again.

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Second Verse…sort of.

by statia on August 13, 2012

LG is sick again. We had a very brief hiatus of illness over the summer. By brief, I mean that she had very minor colds over the summer, but not eliminated completely. We’re barely into August and she gets another horrible chest cold. To which I say, “can’t we just fucking at least make it until September?” I mean seriously already.

My sister had a baby at the end of June. She was born prematurely, with some complications. She’s fine and that’s really all I’ll say on the situation since it’s not really my story to tell. But I can’t tell you how excited I am that I’m an aunt for the first time, even though my sister is still in Japan and it kills me that plane tickets are far too expensive for me to afford to go see her.

But as we talk on a near daily basis, her emotions running crazy due to the situation and also hormones, she told me how she was jealous that I had my babies healthy, and full term. Not an abnormal reaction and one that I get fully. Being that we’re both anxiety ridden, I told her that obviously no one has it easy, and my kids have had their issues.  The Mini with his developmental delay, LG constantly being sick. The allergies, the asthma. RSV, ear infections. You tend to feel as if you’re being dealt some sort of shitty hand, all while knowing that you have it so much better than others and how can you justify that?  She has become a mother and now she gets my crazy. Her anxiety has shifted to constantly worrying about her daughter and being torn between wanting to be a laid back parent, or wrapping her in bubble wrap. It’s her job now.

The Mini’s occupational therapist, who is one of the most brilliant people I know, asked me how things were going with LG. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about her developmentally. I had her evaluated at 6 months, just for my own sanity. She was early or on target for just about everything. While she’s maintained her average status as a kid, there are…things that we’ve noticed. She can’t sit still (beyond the toddler norms). She doesn’t seem to care about discipline. She doesn’t listen. She sounds like a typical three-year-old. I know. All things aside, she is pretty typical. She loves unicorns and ponies. Rainbows and cats. Her favorite colors are pink and purple. And god forbid if you don’t know any of that.

And while I’ve felt OK with her, where development is concerned, more so than the Mini, at any given time, there’s still a nagging feeling about some things that she should be getting by now. And I owe it to her to do as much for her, as I have for him. As much as she needs. And so we’ve set up to have her evaluated for ADHD.

As I sat there tonight, holding her now giant three year-old body in my lap while giving her a nebulizer treatment, I was hit with this exact memory of her as a baby. Struggling to catch her breath while coughing uncontrollably, I thought about my sister’s words: “I just want to get past this part of my life so that we can start living a normal life.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that with kids, it’s always something.  I’m still waiting to put off of this behind so that I can begin my own normal life.

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