Sunday, October 10, 2010

Words of Wisdom and Wishes for my Children

Earlier this week I was digging through my files looking for my medical power of attorney to take with me to my pre-op appointment and I came across our wills. A year ago Rich and I met with a lawyer to have our wills updated to include Kiel and also to make some revisions to the guardianship portion for the boys, since we weren't comfortable with our original decision for Noah.

It turns out we never had them notarized. 

Yeah me and my incredible talent to stay organized and up to date on things. *sigh*

So I'm just going to put it out there to the fates right now. Don't fuck with me this week. Rich promised me he would take care of it.

This week I also finished reading The Kids Are All Right by Diana, Liz, Amanda and Dan Welch, for the From Left to Write book club.

About the book:
Excerpted from Publishers Weekly
In a memoir rendered eerily dry and scattered by emotional distance, the four Welch children, orphaned in their youth in the mid-1980s, recount by turns their memories and impressions of that painful time. Amanda, Liz, Dan and Diana were devastated first by the sudden death of their father in a car accident in 1983, followed by their mother three and a half years later. The two eldest girls, teenagers at the time and initiated into the drug and rock and roll scene, remember most vividly the details of that era. After their mother died, the children were put in the care of others, mostly with disastrous consequences, especially for Diana, farmed out to a controlling neighbor family who initially hoped to adopt her, but decide otherwise after she hit her awkward teens. Each struggled to forge an identity within harrowing circumstances, with numbing results. (Sept.)

Told in the alternating voices of the four siblings, this memoir tells their poignant, harrowing story of growing up as lost souls, taking disastrous turns along the way, but eventually coming out right side up. The kids are not only all right; they’re back together.

Between the story of the Welch kids and my upcoming surgery it gave me another thing to stay awake at night thinking about.

The thought of something happening to me and Rich that leaves Kiel and Noah without either one of us makes me reach for my bottle of Xanax with one hand and the tissues with the other. It's such a horrifying thought for me it's almost to the point I can't let myself go there.

Of course we have gone there, as Rich and I put a lot of thought into our original choice of guardians for Noah, and then again when we made the revisions a year ago.

I can't think of anything more devastating to a child than losing their parents. And for Noah, I think it would be beyond devastating.

Of course it would be horrible for Kiel as well, but at least he knows how to love and be loved, and his development and experiences have all been typical and "normal." In a stable, loving family he would be all right. (Oh crap, even writing that makes me tear up. The thought of not being around to see Kiel grow up is overwhelming.) Truly, my worst fear would be that they raise him to be a Republican.*shiver* (I kid, really.)

For Noah we've had to consider more than just love. We need to know he's with a family that is willing to take on his challenges, that they have patience and an open mind to be able to give him what he needs, and that they will love him without conditions and judgment.

I spoke with a special needs lawyer a couple months ago at a conference and he encouraged me to write a letter (I know there is an official name for it, but it escapes me right now) clearly explaining what I would want for my children if I couldn't be there for them. 

I've thought about it, and I've started the letter, but I've become too emotional to ever get beyond the first couple sentences.

Reading The Kids Are All Right made me look at this a bit differently. I owe it to my boys to make sure everything is put in place just in case. With the hope that it will never be needed. Ever!

Just in case something happens before I get all the I's dotted and T's crossed, here are some words of wisdom I would want to leave them with. The things that hopefully I'll teach them myself in the next ten plus years. Besides making sure they know I love them with every fiber of my being.

What I want you to know:
You will always be brothers; blood has nothing to do with it. Look out for each other. Love each other. Be there for each other. You might not always agree, but that's OK. Don't judge, accept.

Education is more important than you will know until it is too late. Never stop learning. But also know that education doesn't just happen in school.

Travel the globe while you are young. It will help you understand the world in a different way.  Don't just travel to the "nice" places, either.

Surround yourself with good people. Learn from them. Always have someone in your life that you look up to.

Listen more than you talk. But never be afraid to speak up.

Lead more than you follow.

Stand up for what you believe in, but educate yourself on all sides of the issue. Ask questions. Think critically. Don't be one of the "sheople."

Treat all people with respect. (Even the idiots.)

Take good care of your body. Don't use your mom as an example.

You will probably be wrong more than you want to admit. Learn to accept it and acknowledge it.Don't be afraid to admit it and say you are sorry.

Never underestimate the power of a sincere apology, good manors, a genuine smile, a comforting hug, or a good book.
Be a nice person. Don't be one of the idiots.

Learn how to do at least the basics of home repair.

Laugh every day.

Sometimes failure is good, but you might not realize it until later. There is always something to learn from it.

If you are going to complain about something, have an idea for a solution.

Earn your black belt. 
There is more than one right way to love.
There is more than one right way to pray, or not pray as the case may be.
Give back. Volunteer. Help others.

Things I wish for you:
At least one great love affair, with all the passion and drama that entails, even if it doesn't last.

The lasting love of a spouse who is also your best friend; someone you still want to hold hands with when you are 90.

Children as wonderful as the two of you.

A job you love.

A passion for something other than your job or another person.

The ability to enjoy a quiet day with only yourself for company.
Common sense.
I love you more than you will ever comprehend. Please know I would never leave you on purpose.

This is an inspired post written for the "From Left to Write" Book Club. A copy of The Kids Are All Right was provided to me by the publishers. I am not being compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.


Friday, October 08, 2010

It starts out with an enema. And ends up with ice in my panties.

So Monday is the big day for the lady bits!

Monday afternoon I am scheduled to have the frankenvulva revised, my pussy professionally tightened, my bladder put in a sling, and the inappropriate poop pocket that is poking into my vagina removed and redirected to my rectum where it belongs.

Go ahead, cringe if you must. I'm not exactly excited about the next couple weeks, other than I'll probably get more sleep than I have in months.

I'm trying to look at the bigger picture in that two months from now I'll be peeing and pooping like a normal person and at the same time have a flower-like labia with a perfectly tightened pussy.

I like to keep things positive...

So I was thinking that considering my doctor (and the other ten or so people in the room) aren't exactly getting the best view of me during the surgery  (Because no, I don't really consider my acne scarred, white ass with my legs splayed open to be one of my better looks.) that perhaps I should provide them with something to make them smile and/or laugh about as they get started.

Maybe I could draw arrows pointing to my vagina and the message "tighten here?"

A smiley face seems kind of tame considering how up close and personal they are all going to be with me.

I'm a little surprised at myself, but I'm struggling to come up with something clever. Any ideas readers? Go crazy and throw 'em at me in the comments. 

I'll be in the hospital at least one night. Hopefully my bladder will cooperate and I won't have to come home with a catheter (ughh).

Feel free to send flowers or chocolate. Or expensive electronic devices - I've been drooling over the new Kindles. Or a Nook. I'm not picky. I'll certainly have plenty of time to read over the next couple weeks as I sit with frozen maxi-pads in my underwear.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

One of my discoveries over the summer as I read more about the brain and began to understand  how Noah's adoption and the early trauma he experienced effected his brain, was that Noah most likely had a visual processing disorder.

We had him evaluated when he was four, but I didn't really understand it, and he was so out of control at the time I didn't see how we could do actual therapy with him. We were also gearing up for our third IVF procedure, the one that actually worked, and my energy became focused on my pregnancy.

This summer however everything I was learning about the brain and adoption made me realize we needed to look into it again.

So, we went in one day for the vision test. Unfortunately, Noah forgot to take his eyeballs with him to that test because he wasn't able to see much of anything. His spine stopped holding him up during part of it too as he couldn't figure out how to sit up straight in the chair. He was essentially in full PITA mode.

The eye doctor did get enough out of him to know it was worth coming back and doing the visual processing exam, so we returned the next week for that. He was more cooperative during those exams fortunately. At least he remembered to bring his eyeballs with him.

It turns out he has intermittent exotropia, which means he has difficulty with eye teaming and tracking. And that makes complete sense considering the difficulties he has with reading and doing worksheets.

So, a couple weeks ago we started vision therapy. We work with the therapists once a week and do daily exercises at home. So far Noah has been very cooperative with it all.

I like the approach they use because not only are they strengthening the eye - brain connection, but they are strengthening other parts of his body as well, like his core muscles and balance.

Today at the end of the session they brought me in to show me a new exercise they want me to do with Noah. It involves wearing 3D glasses and having a flashlight shined at your face.

The therapist did it to me and told me to tell her what color light I saw.

So I said "green."

And she looked a little confused, and said "ummm, OK, let me take a step back, now what do you see"


"OK, I'll move forward, tell me when it stops being green or becomes two lights."

So she was almost at my nose before it became two lights, and it was still green. Only briefly did I see some red spikes through it.

So she had me tap on the bone next to my outer right eye, to try and wake the eye up.

What color do you see now she asks.


"huh, do you know if you have any undiagnosed eye disorders?" she asked?

"Well, if they are undiagnosed, I guess I wouldn't know would I."

She didn't really have an answer for that.

Despite my failure to see doing the exercises with Noah is going well. We will have a reevaluation in two months I believe and see what improvement he has made.

It feels good to be working on a therapy that I feel confident about and believe is going to help him.

Even if I can't see the light.


Monday, October 04, 2010

"Don't It Make His Straight Hair Curl"

In the last couple months Noah's hair has gone from super thick and straight, to curly. Really curly.
October 2010
Need proof? Here he is less than a year ago.

November 2009
January 2010

And here he is yesterday.

It's been a bit bizarre to watch. At first we thought it might be from all the time he spent in the pool at camp this summer. I thought maybe he just needed some conditioning and a hair cut.

Well, he hasn't been in the pool for close to six weeks now, and it's still growing in curly. Really curly.

It's looks good on him, so we aren't upset, just perplexed.

Last night Rich and I were talking about how strange it was and started to think maybe it was one of the medications he is taking, since he started a new one last spring.

Today Rich sent me an article that discusses several reports of hair changes in people taking valproic acid. The medication Noah takes is a derivative of valproic acid, so I guess we have our answer!

I'm pretty sure they didn't teach me about that side effect in pharmacy school.