Mystery Lane

Mystery Lane

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  The meaning behind it is what makes it my favorite.  A whole day once a year to reflect and celebrate what we are thankful for is priceless to me.  Here is what I am most thankful for this year:

Friends.  This last year has brought a lot my way.  There have been some pretty high highs and some pretty low lows.  But the resounding factor to those highs and lows has been the friendships that have stayed strong, begun anew, and came out of nowhere.  From our journey to foster parenting, to Jackson’s most recent medical issues, my friends have been there supporting us, giving us their time and energy, and never faltering from our side.  So to all of you, Thank You. 

Helen Keller said “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.  They must be felt with the heart.”  What my friends have given me is felt in my heart every day. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Down by one

Our family is now down by one.  Last Tuesday was Lillie’s last day with us.  A family member finally stepped up and agreed to take her.  As I packed up her clothes and some toys, I was overwhelmed with guilt and sadness.  I never connected to Lillie and her tantrums and anger were something I didn’t understand.  But I still felt bad that it didn’t work out.  She is a child who needed help getting past the trauma she has been through.  I wanted to be able to help her, I just had no clue how to.  On so many levels I feel like I failed.  I’ll never know if Lillie’s short stay with us helped her any.  I hope it did.  I hope she got to see what a “regular” family looks like and in her future will be able to reflect on that.  I am very happy that Lillie was placed with a family member.  It was the best possible placement for her.  Lillie’s grief was centered around losing her family, I hope that being with a family member will make her feel reconnected and relieve some of that grief for her.  The worst part was that we never got to say goodbye to her.  It was a quick move and when she left that morning for school we didn’t know it was the last time we would see her.  Since we still have her little sister Vivionna, I hope somewhere along the way we will get to see Lillie again. 

Lillie taught me a lot while she was here.  I learned that I do better parenting the younger children.  I learned that our home, no matter how seemingly safe, healthy, loving, and fun it is, may not be a good place for certain children to live.  I learned that my patience level is still very low.  I learned that despite good intentions and desire, you can’t help every child.  I learned that having a home that is relatively happy, peaceful and safe for everyone is the kind of home I need to maintain my sanity.  I learned that parenting the children of others is so much more difficult than I could ever imagine.  I learned that I have limitations and boundaries when it comes to helping children.  That may not sound like a good thing, but as a foster parent I think it is.  Going too far or not far enough to help a child may only hurt them more.   Most of all I learned that I would like to slap the crap out of the parents who have children in foster care.  The pain, disappointment, and fear they have inflicted on their children is beyond unacceptable.  What’s worse is that they are so wrapped up in their issues that they don’t see what they have done, nor do they seem to care.  I just don’t understand it.  Maybe someday I will but for now I am just focusing on how to be a good foster parent (and parent to Jackson) and how to help the children that I can.  Some days that even seems like too big of a job for this Mama. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jackson is full of it!

Poop!  That’s what Jackson’s full of.  Literally.  In addition to having to deal with the Lillie drama while Kevin was out of town for a week, I also had to deal with my first emergency room visit with Jackson.  Actually we had two trips to the ER that week.  One was on Wednesday and another on Friday.  I could write a whole blog post about the ER on a Friday night but I’ll skip it this time.  Anyway back to Jackson’s poop filled body.  Tuesday morning Jackson got a flu shot. That night he began screaming in pain.  I finally got him to sleep around 2 a.m.  The next day he woke up in a fairly good mood, had a pretty good day at school, then came home and began screaming.  After about 4 hours I decided I wasn’t going to be able to calm him down and I was starting to freak out.  Even though Jackson can’t talk, he can communicate in his own way.  As his Mom, I’ve learned the meaning of different screams, cries, tantrums, etc.  This screaming was his “I’m in pain” scream.  So off to the ER we went.  Luckily a friend of mine who is a doctor at the hospital met us in the ER which gave me a lot of comfort (Thanks Jaime!).  I’m not good with the medical stuff and since I was all alone it was a little scary for me.  Once they ruled out ear, nose, throat stuff they gave Jackson some pain meds and sent us for an XRay.  As soon as the technician took the picture I heard her say “No wonder this kid is crying in pain”.  My heart instantly stopped.  They showed me the XRay and pointed out a bunch of darkness and told me that it was poop.  As my Dad would have said “The kid is full of shit.”  The doctor said that sometimes a flu shot can create a concrete dam that backs up the poop.  Good to know.  At least I knew I was right that something was hurting Jackson.  It’s always a guessing game with a special needs kid.  The nurse came in to our room, handed me 6 diapers and some wipes, gave Jackson an enema and left.  This is where our ER visit suddenly becomes America’s Funniest Home Video material.  I know what an enema is, I’ve heard the jokes, but I’ve never witnessed one before.  Not 30 seconds after the nurse left I looked down at Jackson whose diaper was leaking poop down his leg, up his back and all over his belly.  I jumped out of my seat, yelled a few curse words and tried to start changing his diaper.  For those of you out there who don’t know this – don’t open the diaper all the way, you’ll be sorry.  I was.  As I ignorantly opened the diaper, poop was shooting out of Jackson at an alarming speed and I was unable to contain it at that point.  God knows I tried!  Thankfully a couple of minutes later the nurse came into the room and quickly saw that I needed help.  She tried to help clean up the bedding but even she gave up after a minute or so.  Long, yucky story short, Jackson went through those 6 diapers in a little under 20 minutes.  It was a poop fest, a poop-a-mania, a party pooper.  It was disgusting.  But Jackson sure felt good and that made Mommy happy.  We came home, Jackson instantly took a bath, and I put him to bed where he was finally able to sleep peacefully.  The doctor gave us a prescription laxative to use for two weeks, that’s how long they thought it would take for all of the poop to come out.  Two days later Jackson began screaming in pain again so I took him back to the ER.  This time they suggested we put him on a bland diet and add milk of magnesia to the list of medicines to take.  That has seemed to help.  Having easily digested food doesn’t cause him as much pain.  Meanwhile we have had about a week and a half of some very interesting and smelly diapers.  Poor Jackson.  I’m just glad he is getting it out.  Another surprise about being a mom is that I would have never guessed that a poop explosion in a diaper would be cause for celebration.  But it is.  I’m cheering my boy on every time I get a whiff of stinkiness.  Go Jackson Go!  Get that poop out!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

When I was 14 I started spending my summers babysitting my 3 nephews.  It was the highlight of my teen years.  I loved spending the summer with those boys and some of the best memories of my life are of my wonderful nephews.  Growing up with them made me want to be a mom.  I dreamed of the day when I would have my 3 boys (well actually I hoped there was a girl or two in there) running around filling my home with laughter.  It took me a while to find the right man to marry and my journey into parenthood came a bit late.  Although my little Jackson has a bad brain, I still have a home filled with his highly contagious laughter.  But Kevin and I both want more than one child and since we are both adopted, we always planned to adopt.  That is what led us to the foster parent journey.  There are so many children out there that need homes and we have a pretty good one I think.  When we got the call about Lillie and Vivionna it seemed like a no brainer.  They needed a good home, we had one, they moved in.  If only it was that simple.  What we didn’t know was the extent of the trauma Lillie has suffered.  The effects of that trauma soon took over our home. This is where it gets difficult for me.  One the one hand I want to help Lillie and get her to a place where she okay.  On the other hand, I just don’t know how.  Nor do I have the time with a special needs child and a normal toddler running around.  And my energy level is close to running on empty.  I simply bit off more than I can chew.  So what do I do? 

Last week Lillie had a massive fit.  She yelled, slammed doors, and refused to move.  I had to call the social worker at 9 p.m.  I was at a loss.  She woke Jackson up, her sister was crying, and I was beyond exhausted because Kevin was out of town.  I finally got her to bed but by that point I had lost it myself.  I laid in bed until 3 a.m. contemplating what to do.   It came down to the decision that I was not equipped to deal with this.  Everyone keeps reassuring me that I am making the right decision – the social worker, the counselor, other foster parents. All I feel is failure and disappointment.  I am letting Lillie down and that is just not what she needs, another adult failing her.  I’ve cried a small river over this and can’t stop wrestling with my decision.  The social worker can’t find another home for Lillie because of her high needs so she is still with us.  This week I have two appointments with specialists to help deal with her behavior.  I think she senses I am at my wit’s end.  Since her meltdown she has been behaving beautifully, which makes my decision even harder.  I wonder if she is finally coming around and realizing our home is a safe place for her or if she is just backing off for a while and we are going to be in the midst of another meltdown any minute.  Living with the uncertainty of what will happen every day when she gets home from school is very wearing for me. 

Jackson has had some difficulty with the changes in our home too.  He has started waking up in the middle of the night screaming.  He seems afraid at times to go to bed.  He gets over stimulated with the louder noise level in our home.  He doesn’t have my full attention anymore and I know that is hard on him.  It’s equally hard on me.  Sometimes I feel so sad that we don’t have our time together anymore.  I miss that.  I love Jackson so much and I need to make sure that he isn’t affected negatively.  He already has enough cards dealt against him.

I’m not totally ignorant.  I knew going into the foster parent process that there were going to be tough times and broken hearts.  There is simply no way to prepare yourself for it though.  William Cowper said "The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.”  I hope that someday down the line I will find that happiness and realize all of this was worth it.  Right now I can’t.