Saturday, October 24, 2009

May I have some more chicken?

As I have mentioned before, during the course of Joshua's first years, I've realized just how much I took for granted with my first son, Caleb. You read the "What to Expect" books and you're watching and waiting for each precious milestone. He latched on and is nursing well, check. He slept all night, check. He pushes up during "tummy time", check. He sits for a long period of time, check. Begins baby food, check. Crawls, walks, talks, etc, etc... There's nothing on that list that prepares you for having a special needs child. If there was, it would look something like this... Ticket for emotional roller coaster ride, check. New found personal relationship with God, check. Graduation from course on time management, check. Put all of your own wants on back burner, check. Keen understanding of a growth chart, check. Nursing 101, check.

So, at any rate, the cute little "milestones" are just a sadistic reminder that your child is not normal! Joshua was nearly six months old when he came home from the NICU for the first time. He wasn't even close to rolling over. Being on his stomach was painful and lasted all but five minutes. He still required support when sitting on his 1st birthday. Not long after he turned one tides began turning. We had a great stretch of good health and he made leaps and bounds. Finally, by 18 months Joshua was walking and saying a handful of words.

Much to our dismay, very few things made it to his mouth. At this stage Joshua would suck on his paci and drink a very small amount of water. Food didn't stand a chance. Someone made the mistake of telling us that there is a school of thought out there on force feeding. Some equate it to rape. The forcing of something unwanted into the child's body. Yah, you can imagine the impact that had on me pushing the subject. Our feeding exercises came to a halt! So much ground was lost in the months following. 

It wasn't until Joshua's GI told me that our only hope for Joshua at this point is to increase his oral intake. Here we go, I'm thinking! So, we start feeding therapy. In the beginning it was a group setting, hoping positive peer pressure would come into play. Kids like Joshua could care less what "everyone else" is doing. That was scrapped and we quickly moved on to individual sessions. In six weeks we made quite a bit of progress. 

We've learned something along the way that is quite profound. If kids aren't eating, they do not develop their speech. I never would have associated the two. But, it made sense. They acquire tongue motor skills by moving food around their mouth that will aide in their pronunciation. Well, as you might expect, with the increase in oral intake, Joshua began to talk. And talk. And talk. And the boy hasn't stopped! At 3, Joshua Blaine Southern finally caught up to all his precious milestones, including being on the growth chart curve!

So, here we are today, not at all where we hope to one day be, but a whole lot closer! Joshua's feeling great on average. We've seem to got a good mix of the right formula, right meds and our latest discovery, oil of oregano. What a difference! He's eating! Tonight he was given a small portion of my mom's homemade chicken pot pie. He ate the chicken out of it like it was going out of style. He asked for seconds, I smiled. He asked for thirds, you gotta be kidding me? Fourths, Fifths! He must have eaten a total of 1 cup of chicken when all was said and done. I never thought hearing "May I have some more chicken?" would bring me to tears. You don't find that in any book...

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Frustration I Feel

There are times I think back to when things were much simpler. Back before Joshua was born. I had no clue as to what it was like to feel the stress and frustration over your helpless child like I've now grown to know so well. I wish I could grab that girl when she just had one child and shake her. Parenting is so easy when everyone's healthy. I hope, if I can get anything across to anybody, it's that. Your babies are so precious. Don't take for granted what you have. You can read all the "What to Expect" books you want, but when it comes down to it, all you need to know is: have patience, be consistent and create special memories on purpose. 

I have to keep reminding myself of this. I'm at a place now where my "duties" as Joshua's primary caretaker sometimes interfere with my mothering. It's so easy to become resentful and overwhelmed, forcing everyone else in the house to pay the price. I can only be angry with myself for that.  It can be so hard to be as organized and productive as I need to be, to properly take care of Joshua without loosing the sweet, soft and easy-going mom that my kids need. I want to be such a different woman. My family needs it. I just don't know how not to get so wrapped up in everything being a certain way. Of course nothing in my life goes as I think it should. My house doesn't reflect it, that's for sure. That's one more thing that prevents my sanity. It drives me crazy when things are out of place. I want it all to be perfect, but I just don't have it in me at the end of the day to do it all. I'm all ready sleep deprived as it is. 

This is such a short time in our lives and I know in my heart that I need to just get over myself. The good Lord has gotten me this far, only He can take on my burdens. I just have to hand them over. So, Lord, please give me grace and tolerance and the ability to take the best care possible of Joshua and love my children as sweetly and patiently as I can.

I'm reminded of a poem I once read about dirty handprints and cherishing these little messes now, because it's only a matter of time...