Pill-eating, picture forgetting, and lice hunting

This is my circus and those are my monkeys

Hello people! I have been absent in the blog world lately because of grad school. My life has not slowed down even a little bit and really nothing has changed. We are still a messy bunch of people struggling to not live in absolute filth while getting exercise occasionally. A few weeks ago, we were getting ready to go to Friday services  while Ben was handling Clark, and I was on the phone with my mother-in-law. All of a sudden, Darcy bounces into the living room and says, “One more!” as she pops something into her mouth.

Ben: “Darcy! What is that? Spit it out! Oh God, Beka. I think it’s a pill.”

That’s when Darcy reveals the topless pill bottle clasped in her sticky little hand. I race over and fish the pill out of her mouth and look at the pill bottle. It’s my thyroid medication and the bottle is empty. I run back to my bedroom to see if she spilled the bottle and by chance did NOT eat the pills. They are nowhere to be found.

Me (quite calmly, actually): “Darcy. Did you eat all these pills?”

Darcy: “…”

Darcy finally slowly nods her head.

Me (losing all chill):”WE NEVER EAT PILLS, DARCY!!!”

We throw her and Clark in the car and start driving to the emergency room while I frantically call Poison Control. To their everlasting credit, they were SO nice and quick to alleviate my fears. I estimated she had eaten about 10 of my pills which was only about 500mcg of levothyroxine.They basically said she was going to be fine and the ER trip was unnecessary, but to “watch her for signs of hyperactivity.” I laughed because this kid lives hyper. So anyway, I am #momgoals for overdosing my child. And yes, they were sitting on my night stand, so it was my fault and I suck. I know, I know. Because I want all of you mamas to feel awesome I’ll tell you another story featuring my crappy mom brain.

So, mornings at our house are challenging, okay? Ben leaves for work at 6:45 and is largely unhelpful with the kids in the morning. It’s not his fault–he has a commute and has to leave, but that basically means I take morning shift by myself. In the mornings, I am running around getting them up, dressed, fed, and dropped off at daycare, so I can bust my tail to get to clinical on time. Halfway through this particularly busy clinic morning, I get a call from daycare. I groan internally because I know they’re calling to tell me that Clark is sick because he always is. I’m immediately stressed because I’ll have to miss clinical and go get him, and I really don’t need to miss any more clinical days.

Daycare: “Hey, Mrs. Rebekah. So, today was picture day…”

Y ‘all, I laughed so hard! Today was freaking picture day and in my haste to get the hell out of the house, I dressed my kids like homeless Bob who lives under the interstate bridge.

Me: “Omg, I dressed my kids like hobos, today.”

Daycare: “We figured you forgot, don’t worry, there’s a makeup day on Thursday…”

So we get the proofs yesterday and Darcy’s expression looks like someone put cow dung on a spoon and held it under her nose. I’d post it, but we only have the proofs, and I’m pretty sure the GIANT watermark means I shouldn’t post it.

What can I say? We are #familygoals. I can laugh at that stuff for the most part because it’s par for the course around here, and we are just not normal. I can admit that stuff was pretty funny, but the lice scare of this past week was NOT. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I have anxiety. My anxiety is SO weird though. Like I can drive 6.8 miles to the gas station even though I only have 7 miles to empty and I feel no anxiety. Cool as a cucumber, yo. But I get a letter saying there’ve been cases of lice in my kid’s classroom, and my head immediately starts itching, I psycho-dial my mom, and I spend the next 2 hours examining my hairline with a flashlight yelling, “IS THAT A DANDRUFF OR A NIT????!!!!” over and over to myself. Clearly, I am very stable and I’m #personalgoals.

But you know what? My people still love me so well. Just a couple of weeks ago, a sweet friend brought over the most delicious dinner. Ben had been working so late, and it was kind and helpful. Thank you, Ellen. That week was followed by one of the best weekends ever!  One of my best friends married the love of her life, and I got to be there as a bridesmaid. Tyler and Matt made the perfect couple, and I had the best time catching up with all of my gloriously imperfect friends. We are an unusual blend of backgrounds, religions, political views, and even geographic locations–they live everywhere from small Mississippi towns to Houston, Washington D.C., Oahu, and Sydney.  But they’re my people and we love each other so well. The very next weekend my husband surprised me with a beach trip to my parents beach house in Fort Morgan, AL. When I got there, I was so thrilled to spend time with my parents. An hour later, I answered the door and my brother and his family were standing there. My heart could have just burst! They drove from St. Pete Beach, FL to be there, and we made the most of our short weekend.

You might be like me. You drip sauce on whatever shirt you’re wearing, accidentally overdose your kid, smack your kids head on the car door putting them into the car seat, or walk around with crap in your teeth all day.  You might struggle everyday to keep your patience. Or hey, you might not. You might have it together on all the outside things which is also cool (I salute you, you unicorn). But I’m telling you now, if you don’t have a group of weirdos, both friend and family, you’re missing out. Because when all the bad happens and life is just hard, you need those people to fall back on. They’ll embrace you, faults and all. In that circle of love thing, I truly am #goals. Love to all ❤

It’s been a while now

The exhausting chronicles of the poop show we call our lives

Hey all. I’ve been kind of absent lately because my life is a massive poop show. For real, y’all. Lots of poop. I digress.

Okay, so it started at the beginning of July when I decided for sure I was going back to grad school to finish my MSN for Family Nurse Practitioner. Since I am returning to that god-forsaken program, and I only have three semesters left, I cannot work 5 days a week nursing the preschool children of EBR Parish. Sooo that means I had to quit my beloved school nurse job, which was just tragical–Side note: if things can be magical they can be tragical–Now because I loved my job so much, I told them I would stay on for a few weeks to set up the preschool for the start of the school year. It helped them out and until my semester started, I was free to help. School prep starts at the end of July and of course Clark gets sick and can’t go to daycare. It’s the usual–fever, snot everywhere, basic cold symptoms, etc. He can’t go to daycare, and Ben couldn’t take off work, so I have to miss some of those days. The other days he just had to suck it up and come to the school with me. Instead of healing, he gets worse, so I miss work again. Turns out he has an ear infection. Mom/Nurse of the year, y’all. He gets put on a 10 day course of antibiotics. When he goes back to get his ears rechecked, the infection is still there, because of course it is. He gets a new 10 day course of antibiotics.  He gets better only to be immediately followed by a new fever. After 20 days of antibiotics he ought not have a single damn bacteria anywhere, so we go BACK to the doctor. Oh, its just a virus and after 4 days of sporadic fever he gets better…again. So basically, I struggled to finish my commitment to my job. I felt like such a jerk calling in on my last two weeks but what can you do? Anyway, I start the Fall semester and my clinical rotations. Then Clark gets another virus consisting of constant diarrhea and his worst diaper rash ever. It was seriously worse than some chemo diaper rashes I saw when I worked at the Jude. I pulled out all of my nurse tricks and that rash just got worse. He screamed when anyone touched him or if his bottom touched anything–so I had to miss several days of studying, and even worse, my scheduled clinical days. At this point in the second week of the semester, I was already feeling WAY behind in school work AND clinical hours. Finally his stomach calmed down. His rash got better. Then, I-kid-you-the-eff-not, he gets the cold symptoms AGAIN. WTF?!! This has been six weeks of hell at this point. I just know he has an ear infection, because he’s fussy as hell and his ears aren’t draining like they should be (he has tubes). So I skip the pediatrician and go see his ENT this past Monday. Yep. His tubes are nonfunctional and his eardrums are bulging with trapped fluid. Homeboy needs new tubes AND his adenoids removed. Le sigh.

Y’all. I haven’t even wanted to update my blog because I swear these past 6ish weeks, I have struggled. STRUGGLED. I have not been living in “the joy!” I have been consumed by stress and anxiety and just plain exhaustion. Clark is still not sleeping through the night, the kids’ daycare has been sporadically closed for holidays, and any days I should have “off” for studying, I haven’t had.

Now all you women who love to say “Oh but you’ll miss these days!” Don’t. Just don’t. Don’t be annoying and tell me how much I’ll miss having sick kids that need more surgery with money we don’t have on energy I lost a long time ago. Oh yeah, ENERGY. I now have hypothyroidism! Hahaha! Life literally killed my thyroid gland. Well, that and genetics. That little pearl of a diagnosis also happened during the 6 week period where our pets heads’ were falling off.

Y’all. I’m tired. I’m hanging in there, but I’m tired. And, I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not looking for anything other than to tell any readers out there that life can be hard sometimes. And not, “There’s a greater meaning to this struggle” kind of hard. More the “What fresh hell is this?!” kind of hard. So, even if you saw my cute beach pictures with my kids, know that Clark has woken up twice a night for about 2 months now, and no one gets sleep. Know that I was that crazy mama at the Crab Trap very publicly spanking my kid for trying to run into traffic. Know that I’ve gained like 15 pounds in 2 months because of my totally useless thyroid gland. Know that I occasionally want to drop out of school, leave a “Dear John” note for my husband, skip this joint altogether, and head to Aruba: Vacation for one, please. I’ve doubted that God has good things for us, and I’ve felt like Job.

It’s okay to say it sucks. You don’t have to use qualifiers, or say the strong-person things. You can say, “This sucks.” And I’ll nod and offer you a hug and a stiff drink to better enjoy your pity party. You’re entitled to it because you know that eventually it will get better. That’s why we hold on to little nuggets of hope here and there. Still sucks, though. Anyway, may your storms be brief, your blessings many, and may you be kind always. You never know when someone is struggling to stay upright much less survive Baton Rouge traffic with a shred of her religion intact. Love to all ❤

 

Twenty-fine?

I took a blog vacation for a little bit, mostly because life was too busy to stop and blog. It’s true. In a nutshell, I was struggling with the greatest level of discontent I have ever experienced, coupled with big life choices, and employment decisions. And I was feeling antisocial in a way that extended to the blog world. I’ll touch on some of those details while I explore my thoughts on last year, and what I hope for this next year.

So, yesterday was my birthday, and I honestly haven’t ever wanted to celebrate it less. Seriously. For someone who has always loved birthdays, I just was not feeling it this year. “Twenty-fine” is really an appropriate play on words. Because while it could totally refer to my feeling oh-so-fine, it really relates more to my answering, “Fine” when someone asks me how I’ve been. You know, “not that fine,” but still breathing. This time last year, I started my “twenty-great” year with high hopes and dreams, but life’s circumstances just about crushed me. Clark’s pregnancy, health concerns, graduate school, work, finishing Ben’s degree, etc. It was truly an exhausting journey and honestly just a pretty shit year. One that squished out so much of my sparkle and has made me feel very old and very tired. I know, I know, people who have lived longer say, “Oh, but you’re so young! Life is just hard.” And I kill them. Well, in my head I kill them. In real life, I just give them a tight smile and say “Yep. It sure is…”

I’m feeling anxious because I was given the choice to choose an easier life and continue to be a nurse at my sweet little preschool; an easy and happy job with great hours and a steady paycheck. Or, I could finish my masters degree program and become the nurse practitioner I set out to be when I first began my nursing journey. Surely after this year, no one would begrudge me taking an easier route. But, because of who I am, I cannot. I am looking at all of the possibilities and responsibilities and MAN–the struggle! Yet, I am willingly, albeit hesitantly, choosing that harder path. The persistently nagging feeling about finishing this degree has shown me that despite my feeling puny and beaten down, I still have some fight in these tired bones.

So, for the last month, I have searched for preceptors (took about 18 different rejections to find an OB/GYN preceptor), paid off tuition, registered for classes, quit my sweet job, and just about lost my mind with these sick kids. Seriously Clark and Darcy have been sick forever and I’m about to give them away because if I get puked on one more time I will lose what’s left of my mind completely. It has been a busy month, but until I had preceptors lined up and tuition money paid, I didn’t know if I could quit my job or not. It took a while for everything to cooperate and fall fully into place. 

This past year, I have prayed, cried, rejoiced, and trembled in fear more than I have ever thought myself capable of in an entire lifetime. I have heard the phrase–paraphrased from Isaiah 61:3-that, ‘God makes beauty from ashes’ and mistakenly thought that the ashes were what I was dealing with when the ultrasound was bad, when the assessments were scary, or when the doctors speculated, but  I was wrong. It was then that I was in the flames, and it is NOW that I am looking at the remaining ashes wondering just what in the hell I am supposed to do with them at this point. I mean, how do you heal from the trauma of sustained, high-level stress? But I start with this. I need to finish this program. I need to rediscover my hobbies and passions, and renew old friendships. I mean I should probably take a yoga class, and spend more time on things that I enjoy. Hell, I need to try to remember *what* I enjoy.  I gotta water these ugly ashes and plant some seeds, so that there is at least a glimmer of hope that something beautiful can grow out of the scars of this past year. I AM thankful for surviving this past year. But I hope my twenty-ninth year is the year in which I thrive. Love to all.

The DMV, phone murder, and “Sh”

Boring occurrences in my newly boring life. Thank God for that!

Four years ago, I went to the DMV in Christiansburg, Va. I needed to get a license with my new married name, so that I could update my nursing license and have everything consistent. It was as bad or worse than any DMV in Mississippi. They wouldn’t accept my proof of address. I brought the envelope the Social Security Administration sent when they sent my updated social security card. Rejected. Apparently it wasn’t as official as the AT&T bill that was sent to my house with my name on it. The one I had to get out of line (after waiting 1.5 hours) and drive back home for, come back with, take another number, wait another 1.5 hours, and THEN hand to the dragon lady who approved it right way. Le sigh.

Anyway, since that lovely experience, I have successfully avoided the DMVs in Ohio and Louisiana…until this week. It was time for me to become a Louisianan, and that’s hard for this girl. Because I kinda resist belonging to anywhere new. Anywhere other than my little hometown. When people ask me where I’m from, I always say, “Well, originally I’m from a small town in North Mississippi, but I live in *insert Virginia/Ohio/Lousiana* now.” So maybe that’s part of it.

Nah. Let’s be honest, it’s mostly that the DMV is the devil’s playground. Filled with long lines, screaming children, coughing adults, and DMV employees ready to deny your paperwork and send you to the back of a line stretched all the way out to freaking Serbia. I was a big girl, though. I went. I got all of my paperwork together the night before and reserved my mother-in-law to watch Clark for the morning. I was going to get there well before opening (8:00), so I could be first in line. Then life happened. Clark took a long time to nurse that morning, the Clark drop-off took a little while, and I made a wrong turn on the way to the DMV. So, when I pull up it is 8:05 and there is already a line, 40 people deep wrapped around the entrance, and an additional 20 people seated on the waiting area having already checked in. Mother eff. That is exactly how I planned for things NOT to go.

From there it was actually pretty uneventful. I checked in, waited an hour and 15 minutes, almost had my proof of address rejected, then finally obtained my new drivers license. Honestly it could have been way worse. It was very boring though, because I didn’t have my electronic companion to distract me. You, see my new(ish) iPhone had suddenly stopped working. Yeah, it said “No service.” No matter what. This happened one month earlier and I had to pay a small fortune to upgrade early and get a new iPhone. And now this new phone that was crapping out in the exact same way as the old one did a month ago. I left the DMV and took it to Sprint where they told me that Apple had probably killed my phone. The second phone in a month. She told me to take it Apple to get it fixed. Ugh. So off to the Apple store I go where I signed in, walked over to the food court and got a pretzel and then came back to talk with some Apple person at the “Genius Bar.” 🙄

You see, I am so not into the hipster, blue ponytail, tech-savvy thing. Look, if mermaid hair is your thing, I don’t judge. I’m just not a very dubstep-listening, bohemian dress-wearing, free-bleeding,  hookah-smoking individual. I mean, I still don’t even know what the Cloud is much less what it actually does. And I have an iPod nano. And I wore the worst pair of mom jeans in college when you’re supposed to look totally hot. So, I’m not a trendy, “with it” person. So, the Apple store is like my personal hell because I have zero tattoos, and all I know is more gigabytes means more pictures of my dog and kids.

Anyway, they confirmed I had yet another dead phone, and then told me they had to send it off to Apple. They were going to give me a loaner phone for the meantime. Unfortunately the first two loaner phones wouldn’t cooperate with my SIM card. “Wow. That’s unusual,” Apple hipster said. “Um not for me. This kind of stuff always happens to me. I’m the black widow of electronics and technology,” I joked. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Be positive! It’s not your fault. I will help you until you have a phone. Don’t blame yourself,” He replied very seriously. Soooo it was awkward because obviously he just didn’t get me and apparently thought I was something close to suicidal because he called over 2 other associate hipsters to help with my SIM and “soothe” me? It was strange. Whatever, man. Thanks for helping me out. I will be sure to be very serious when I pick up my phone–no black widow jokes.🤐

So there. I adulted hard by going to the DMV, Sprint, and the Apple store all in one day. Give me a cookie! My kids are the most fun lately.

Darcy talks non-stop and she puts an “sh” sound for s’s. So, cheese becomes “cheesh,” mouse becomes “moush,” etc. My favorite is applesauce or “appashosh.” She also LOVES to be bossy. Like she yells, “No! No!” at Libby while Libby is asleep on the couch doing nothing. She has started majorly stalling when it’s bedtime. Her nighttime routine: We always read 2 books, let her turn on her fan, say goodnight to the other parent and baby, rock for a while, then bed. Now she has to say goodnight to the other parent and baby and Libby and the TV and the lamp and the couch and the dust bunnies (for real) and/or whatever other object she feels like saying “night-night” to. Lately, she also has to “wash” her hands in her play-kitchen sink before rocking to sleep. It’s just funny to watch her stall. She’s officially obsessed with baby cock. Yeahhh. She’s changed from calling him baby *clicking noise* to calling him “baybee cock.” I mean, it’s not a sound, but does it have to be slang for penis?! 🤷‍♀️Whatever, man. It is pretty funny.

Clark is recovering from his surgery very well! He’s sleeping well, and eating well, and honestly you wouldn’t know he even had surgery except for the incisions on his head. He’s a velcro-baby though, just like Darcy. He NEEDS to be held 24/7 by me. Which is awesome except I need my bath at night to be away from the world and lately he’s totally screwing with that. I guess I’ll keep him anyway. SO that’s what’s new in my world. Pretty boring. I’m aware of that. But after the last few months, boring is nice. Love to all!

The crushing weight of anxiety

My journey, my story, my kind of crazy

I wake up to hear Clark stirring via the baby monitor. It’s 1:30am. I’ve been asleep 2.5 hours. I get up to nurse him before he starts crying and wakes up Darcy. After nursing him, I go back to my bed, and try to sleep. I am exhausted. I haven’t slept more than 3 hours at a time since he was born 3 weeks ago. But I can’t sleep because what if Darcy heard him? Do I hear her? Is she going to wake up again at 3am crying? Why isn’t he settling down?! Is he going to go back to sleep? Please, God, let him go back to sleep. Do I need to go burp him again? Should I enroll in classes this upcoming semester? Or take a break? OMG! Go to sleep, Beka. Now I only have like 2 hours before he wakes up again, ready to eat! Shut up, brain, shut up!

And I didn’t go back to sleep because these (among other) thoughts are racing through my mind nonstop. Just like the previous night. And the one before that.

In the morning, I check to see if Clark is breathing–constantly. Did I turn off the coffee maker? What are we going to eat tonight? Is Clark still okay? Is Clark going to be okay? Do we have any paper towels? What if Darcy has another ear infection?

I’m easily able to convince myself that I just “have a lot on my mind.” I mean I’m a mother of two children that are under two years old. I’m a grad student that works full-time. I’m just a little stressed, and that’s why I’m having trouble and feeling anxious. Then the other thing with those symptoms happens…the heart racing, palm sweating, stomach dropping, limb paralyzing thing. It’s kind of like the exact moment where you remember that you forgot to do something really important. Except I haven’t forgotten anything, and knowing I haven’t doesn’t stop these feelings. I have exactly zero relief.

Anxiety–postpartum anxiety to be exact–is the worst, and these episodes can occur three or four times an hour lasting anywhere from 2-15 minutes and occur independently of my unrelenting, worrying thoughts. If I’m completely honest, it probably started with all the drama surrounding Clark’s pregnancy, and his birth, combined with the heavy postpartum hormonal shift, made it pretty terrible. Making matters worse, I felt guilty, and I tried to pray my anxiety away. Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” But my anxiety wouldn’t dissipate because I was sick. My brain was, anyway. We wouldn’t be expected to pray away diabetes or high blood pressure, would we?

According to americanpregnancy.org, postpartum anxiety affects around 10% of women, but I’m pretty sure it is severely underreported. Why? Because women are scared of judgement. Of being ignored. Or of confirming their worst fear—that they are, in fact, a “bad” mom. Just last week I read this article, where a postpartum woman told her provider she was having persistently violent thoughts she would never act on, but was disturbed by. Yeah, they called the police on her, who escorted her to the ED, treated her like a criminal, and finally released her 10 hours later with a list of phone numbers to call for “help.” Zero support, zero medication, and zero empathy.

No.

Just. No.

That is so far from acceptable that I actually hurt for this woman. I know firsthand how hard it is to get help. You see, I experienced postpartum depression with Darcy. I claimed it was situational depression only because of her surgery, etc. It was hard and dark and affected my initial bonding with her. Thankfully, with meds, love, and support, it quickly abated and I became strong again. Towards the end of my pregnancy with Clark, Ben had mentioned he was worried I might struggle again once the baby was born. So in my favor, I had a husband who was looking out for me. This is important because when you’re bogged down with the weight of depression and/or anxiety, it can be hard to see things for how they actually are. So, when I confessed to him how insanely worried and anxious I felt, and that I didn’t know why, he told me, “Call Dr. B right now. Get help.”

My reaction wasn’t calm. “I’m not crazy, dammit! I’m just…I don’t even know how to explain it.”

“No, Beka, you’re not crazy, but the way you’re feeling IS making you sick. Call her.”

Dodging it, I said, “Well, my appointment is in a couple of weeks, so I’ll talk to her then.” There. That should satisfy him that I’m going to take care of it, and (bonus) will put it off for now. Because I’ll get better by then. Right?

“Call her now,” he insisted.

“But it’s Friday.” Even I knew that was a weak argument.

“Yeah, and her office is open. Call her, Beka. Now.”

“FINE!”

So I did, and I told her nurse, “Look, my anxiety is kinda bad. Ben said I should call…shouldn’t I just monitor it and see if it gets better?” She immediately responded,”No way! It will only get worse if we don’t do anything. We’ll start some meds now and see if we need to adjust the dosage when you come for your appointment.”

The second thing in my favor:  a matter-of-fact, yet compassionate response from my doctor’s office. When I returned to her office 4 weeks later, we decided to increase my dosage AND she gave me a PRN (as needed) script because I told her Clark’s surgery might just push me over to crazy town 😜. The reason I go into all this, and air my “dirty” laundry is because this is a problem. I’m a nurse, I’m educated, and it still took my symptoms, my husband’s urging, and my doctor’s following up to get me on the road to a more therapeutic place. If a link in any of those chains is broken, women will slip through the cracks and take on motherhood with an additional, massive weight on their shoulders.

So, maybe we should talk about this. Maybe we should de-stigmatize these mental health issues that are SO very relevant to our loved ones. We should listen, support, and help those we know are struggling. We need to look out for our friends when they’ve had babies and encourage them to seek help if they need it. If you are struggling, you aren’t alone. It’s going to be okay, mama. You won’t always feel this overwhelmed. Love yourself, give yourself grace, and get some help. Because your children need a happy, healthy mama, and you’re gonna get there. Love to all ❤

What the hell is craniosynostosis, anyway?

And why I know so freaking much about it

What is with this weather, man? We’ve had snow twice this winter in South Louisiana. It’s cold and weird, but I don’t hate it. School closed for an entire week, and we got to play together as a family. From looking at social media, most parents were complaining that their kids were making them crazy. Maybe Darcy makes me crazy on a daily basis, but I honestly loved having Ben and Darcy and Clark and I home together. It was a continuation of Christmas break, and I think we needed the down time. Ben is in school at LSU for his last semester of engineering, so that’s why we’ve been able to enjoy the breaks together. He does work part-time, but his office was closed during the snow fiasco because the entire state of Louisiana shut down.

Now, some of you remember that Darcy was diagnosed with craniosynostosis at 5 weeks old. What is craniosynostosis? Well, when babies are born, their skulls are not one solid bone. They are actually several separate bones held together by lines of fibrous connective tissue called sutures. This allows the skull to expand and accommodate a rapidly growing brain. With craniosynostosis, one or more of these sutures is fused too early meaning proper skull growth cannot occur. If the skull cannot grow as the brain grows, intracranial pressures can increase and cause brain damage. Also, the child will have an abnormal head shape. There are certain syndromes associated with craniosynostosis, but most cases are non-syndromic and only involve one suture. Darcy’s was non-syndromic sagittal craniosynostosis. She underwent a total cranial vault remodeling surgery at 12 weeks old. It was hard, it was brutal, but she is growing, thriving, and developing perfectly.

I am both a nurse and a mom. A lot of people say, “When it’s your kid, it’s different,” but I seem to be an exception. It’s really hard for me to turn the nurse off. I assess my children critically and clinically. I knew that Darcy was a beautiful child, but I also knew her head shape was different, that her temples were dimpled inward, her head was narrow, she didn’t have posterior fontanelle, and that she had a strange ridge down her head. I remember mentioning it to her pediatrician as he assessed it. We got scans that day, and she was diagnosed. When Clark was born, I noticed immediately he didn’t have a posterior fontanelle and had a small ridge down his head. I specifically asked the neonatologist (who was stupid about a lot of things) if the MRI showed craniosynostosis. He said “No way.” I can’t let things go, and it gets me into trouble sometimes. When something is bothering me, I get total word vomit–I just blurt it out and throw my persistent thought/worry out into the universe, and not always so elegantly. Ben jokes that he never has to wonder what’s bothering me because I’ll just straight up tell him. In my heart, I knew Clark had craniosynostosis despite what others said.

“But the MRI showed he didn’t.” “His head doesn’t look as narrow as Darcy’s.” “He looks just fine.”

I mentioned my concerns to our pediatrician at Clark’s one-month appointment, and he said we could just continue to monitor it. That held me over for like 2 days before my propensity to not let things go led us back to his office requesting imaging studies. We got an X-ray of Clark’s head that was consistent with a craniosynostosis diagnosis. Our pediatrician then referred us to Darcy’s craniofacial surgeon who we love ♥️At that appointment, he told us that he was moving to California in 2 weeks and unfortunately the neurosurgeon on Darcy’s team has retired😭

–This was devastating to hear, but moving on–

He told us that without a CT scan we couldn’t be 100%, but that Clark looked like he had partial sagittal craniosynostosis whereas Darcy had complete sagittal craniosynostosis. This would qualify him for a less invasive surgery using an endoscopic approach. This means they would use a small incision to remove the fused suture, and then use helmets to shape his head over the better part of a year.  Our CT scan the following day confirmed what we knew—Clark has partial sagittal craniosynostosis. I asked our craniofacial surgeon why both of our children had this and what could cause this genetically. He said that the sagittal suture is typically NOT associated with genetic origins. He said that it was “extremely rare” to have 2 children with non-syndromic sagittal cranio. I asked “How rare?” and he said that he had actually never seen it occur twice in a family. We’re SpEcIaL! Ha! Honestly, after the hell we’ve been through, the fear and anxiety, this seems like small(ish) stuff. It’s probably a mark of how bad shit has been when you look at neurosurgery as not a big deal, but we don’t see it as that big of a deal. Not after what we’ve been through. This is fixable, man.

After Darcy was diagnosed with cranio, I swore I would never miss that diagnosis as a future practitioner. I never anticipated having another child with it, but we did, and I didn’t miss it. We’re getting an early jump on it, and we should be meeting with our new neurosurgeon in the next few days to come up with our surgical plan for baby Clark. He should also begin physical therapy in the next couple of weeks as well. His tone IS improving, and he’s pretty much perfect in our book.

Darcy loves “baybee.” In fact, we wish she would love Clark less. She excitedly runs up to him and throws blankets over his face and body so he won’t get cold. She jams his pacifier into his face as he screams in protest. She tries to pick him up and is the opposite of gentle. It’s actually probably a good thing he’s going to be wearing a helmet 23 hours a day after his surgery. Darcy has added so many words to her vocabulary. She got a toy kitchen from Santa Claus and begs us to play in her “kitch” every day. She loves to throw and drop things while yelling, “Oh, no!” She says “okay” after everything, loves to play outside, and yells, “Go Saints!” whenever she sees football on tv. Darcy loves to point to the chair, couch, or floor and tell us to “Sit.” We’ve been going to the grocery store every Sunday just the two of us, and she likes to help put the groceries on the conveyer belt. She’s the best little toddler I know.

I decided to return to grad school this semester because my life is very calm, and it’s a very rational choice. 😑That’s a glimpse into our crazy lives right now. It is legitimately crazy and unfairly blessed. I am thankful to my Jesus for this life. Love to all.

P.S. That picture is from our craniofacial surgeon’s office. We have the same picture of Darcy at the same age. It’s becoming this weird family tradition 😂

My awesome mom, my dead fridge, and Darcy’s book pillow

My mom is better than yours. She just is, and she drove 5 hours to save the day last weekend because her name is Mavis and that is how she works. You see, Ben left the country because he’s not pregnant and still maintains a fun lifestyle. I, however, am something akin to a beached whale, who has contractions if I sneeze, lift a pillow, or roll over in bed. Lifting and chasing after Darcy full-time could seriously send me into pre-term labor (again), so my mom drove 5 hours and stayed with me to help. She cleaned my house, did my laundry, cooked, shopped, and took care of Darcy all while I planted my fat ass on the couch and watched new episodes of “Call the Midwife.” It was glorious, and if you haven’t watched that show, you are totally missing out. I hope I’m half the woman my mother is one day. Seriously that short, little woman can accomplish anything in small timeframes AND do it better than anyone else could. Also, while Ben was gone (side-eye to Ben), Darcy decided to cut 4 teeth at once, and our refrigerator died. Like dead, died. Luckily my in-laws quickly got us a new fridge. In the meantime, Ben’s twin brought us his mini-fridge, and Ben’s younger brother brought us food. So, even though Ben was all la-ti-da “I’m going cliff-diving and climbing volcanoes,” while the world fell apart (exaggeration, but have you HEARD my daughter whine while teething?!), his family stepped in with greatly appreciated replacement fridges and Newk’s pizzas. That Mavis, though? She’s the real MVP for life. Darcy agrees and is in love with her. She’s known as Mattie by all of her grandchildren, except Darcy. Darcy calls her Mammy and cried whenever “Mammy” left the room. Last night she saw one of my mother’s diet cokes in the fridge, snatched it, and ran for the front door screaming for “Mammy!” It was cute, but Darcy was pretty disappointed when the Diet coke didn’t work like a genie lamp and produce her doting Mammy.

Anyway, Ben returned from his Central American adventures, my mom went home 😢, and this past weekend we transitioned Darcy to her big-girl IKEA bed (see previous post) and moved the crib into baby Clark’s new room. Darcy is doing fairly well-ish with going to sleep, but has been waking up at around 5:30am on the nose, screaming. It’s not very cool, but at least she’s sleeping through the night in her bed. Sunday morning, Ben crawled into her little bed with her when she freaked out, and we all got another 1.5 hours of sleep. Success! So, it’s not perfect, but we’re working on it. For instance, tonight she decided to act crazy and keep climbing out of bed while screaming hysterically. So, we let her scream (I’m a member of the cry-it-out-within-reason camp. Not sorry) for about 5 minutes and wander around in her dark bedroom. After 5 minutes, silence. We go and check on her and she’s fallen asleep face-first on her books on the floor. It was hilarious and kind of tragic at the same time. But, because we are not stupid, we let her continue sleep on her books for another 15 minutes, so she would be in a deeper sleep for the transfer back to her bed. It worked like a charm, so judge away if you so feel inclined.

Andddd, we had another depressing doctor’s appointment today. I’m not even going to share details on it right now because I’m already sad enough, and I don’t feel up to rehashing the particulars. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt better about Clark’s situation. I feel hopeful that he’s going to be okay and that the “potential issues” could be nothing and that everything will be fine and he will be healed. I want to chalk it up to having faith, but in all actuality, it’s probably just a heaping dose of denial. After I recover from an appointment, I blissfully live in my growing faith-bubble (denial) for a couple of weeks. Then, I have another appointment and the hope I had been growing is dashed and destroyed in about a 2-hour time span. I cannot possibly convey to you how absolutely wretched these appointments are, I can only tell you that I would not wish the “gift” of this pregnancy’s anxiety to the person I hate most in this world. I’ll be 32 weeks tomorrow, and I’m thankful that this pregnancy is drawing to a close. I genuinely hope this baby comes early. Not *too* early, but early. So that this part will be over, and we can move on.

School continues to be unimportant. I ignore it as much as possible because I have very healthy coping mechanisms called: 1) avoidance and 2) eating all the things.

I’m sorry if you’ve called me, sent a text, or left a FB message, and I haven’t responded. I fully intend on responding to each one, and your reaching out is so appreciated. I’m just buried in my feelings, and I’m feeling fragile lately. You see, I used to think I was kind of badass and could handle heavy and uncomfortable things, but I was stupid. I am not very strong unless you count waiting until I get into my car to fall apart when leaving my hellish appointments. My faith is shaken, and I’m struggling to find the good in things right now. I don’t want to be anyone’s rain cloud, so I’m retreating to my safety bubble (the couch–lets be real), and I’m waiting for Clark to get here, so that I can come up for air. Love to all of you beautiful people.