Medals and crowns

I didn’t share this with you earlier, tomorrow I am getting my first crown. I guess this wouldn’t really be a big deal with the exception that I am getting it done on a tooth that 2 dentists have failed to ever numb. That’s right, I felt them drilling on this tooth every single time. Dental pain is the worst. I thought it was a fluke thing until my daughter had the same thing happen to her on the same tooth. God forbid, is it genetic? Even getting my teeth cleaned strikes a chord of panic within me. So, not only was I feeling horrified about my first marathon yesterday but I am horrified about my first crown tomorrow. My dentist said that he will be able to numb me, but I think he is a lying sadist. 

It reminds me of when I was a young girl of about 4 or 5. I got a little piece of gravel stuck in my eye. My mom had to take me to the ER. I laid down on the table. The doctors told me to hold still and open my eye. Instead, I lashed out and fought them. They told me they would strap me down if I didn’t cooperate. They brought what looked like an ironing board out and strapped me down to it. One doctor forced my eye open, the other came at me with a tweezers while I screamed and cried. It was horrifying. When it was all over, they said I was a good little girl and they gave me a sucker. But I really wasn’t a good little girl, was I? They did have to strap me down after all. 

So, after tomorrow I can tell you what is worse…..giving birth? Running a marathon? Or an hour and a half of dental pain? 

Marathon training, 3 days to go

I was feeling great and ready to run my first marathon after taking some time off to “relax” before the race. Then I got this great idea to read blogs about marathons. Hmm. I was horrified to be reminded that I might lose a toenail or two. I picture myself running with blood seeping out of my shoes. Good thing I will be throwing those shoes out right after the race! The soles are worn. Believe me, that is not the only sole that is run down. Doubt started to penetrate my soul. 

As a 40 something person, do I have what it takes? Someone compared running a marathon to childbirth. It was a 30 something year old man, so really what would he know? You see, I have never been good at the childbearing part. Not once has someone exclaimed joy over my birthing hips. After having 3 children via c-section, you could say that I suck at this part. It could be a lot worse, I know. My grandma died during childbirth right around the age I am now. 

When I started this journey into adulthood, I was considered thin. I wanted to exercise to build muscle, not lose weight. People said that since I was thin, I really didn’t need to exercise. Lies! I was 120 lbs when I got married at 23. Shortly thereafter, I got pregnant and gained 66 lbs. 66 lbs! Afterwards, I lost all but 10 lbs before getting pregnant again. I gained 45 lbs with my second pregnancy. I stopped counting the lbs by my third pregnancy. I wanted to work out, but I didn’t have anyone to watch my kids. I tried child care at a fitness place and didn’t like it. I once forgot something and went back in after dropping my son off as a baby. They wanted to know why I was hanging around a baby. Hello, that was my son whom I just dropped off. Scary! 

People told me that I could never have nice abs after having my muscles cut after 3 c-sections. More lies!! I started doing crunches anyway. I worked my way up to 75 crunches three times a week, later adding weights. It was something that I could do without leaving the house. After working out my abs, and lately after losing 2 inches around my waist during marathon training I have no problems wearing a bikini. I am less than 5 lbs away from the weight I was before kids, with a lot more tone. I am not going to lie and say it wasn’t a hell of a lot of work, but it is attainable. If I can do it, why can’t you? Don’t ever believe that you can’t do something until you fully test your limits! 

So, before you sign up for your first marathon, I will let you know if it is anything like childbirth! Until then, I will be sitting around trying to relax in horror wondering what the hell I got myself into. 

My mother, my heroine

My mother’s life has been anything but ordinary. She was born prematurely in a foreign country. Despite my grandmother taking medication to prevent premature labor, my mother arrived early at a hospital in the Panama Canal Zone, after my grandma flew several hours to see her husband who was stationed there in the Navy. She weighed 4 lbs and stayed in an incubator for a month. This was in the 1940’s and she wasn’t expected to live. 

My mom grew up in a rural community and met my dad in a one room schoolhouse. Her family was poor and she spent most of her summers picking cucumbers for a local factory to help support her family. She didn’t have a lot of time to play and had one doll. As a teenager, her mother died after delivering her eighth child. My mom was in college at the time and spent her weekends helping take care of her 6 younger siblings. My dad went off to Vietnam. He came back a different person. College finals were cancelled due to war protests and bomb threats. 

My parents eloped. My dad went to work on their wedding night, my mom cooked for their sponsors. The night ended with freezing rain. My mom wondered if she made a mistake. My dad started drinking a lot. He was depressed and sat around with a gun in his lap staring off into space. He was going through PTSD after Vietnam. He drove a tank in the war and one day all of his buddies died in that tank. He was the only one that walked away unscathed. He became abusive and mean. My mom wondered if she made a mistake. My mom got pregnant with me. When I was a month old, a tornado was headed towards the trailer park we lived in. Sirens blared, it was time to take shelter. My dad just sat in his chair and stared. My mom decided it was time to pack up and head back home, they were hours away from family. 

My parents lived with my dad’s parents for 2 years while they built a house and started a new life. My dad stopped drinking. My mom got pregnant again. They moved into their new house and planned on having 2 kids. Their plan for 2 kids ended up turning into 4 kids within 5 years. Their second child was violently autistic. My parents fought constantly. My mother wondered if she made a mistake. My mom was very beautiful with plenty of opportunities to leave my dad. A best friend’s husband wanted to plan a hook up with her up north. No one needed to know. Another friend’s husband kissed her. I just found out about this and he was a great guy. Guess who I ran into right after she told me? Other men pursued her, but she ran away from them instead of running away with them. That was one of my mom’s greatest strengths, staying committed to a marriage she was miserable in. This is such a rare quality nowadays.  It is hard to live up to parents who have a wonderful marriage. It is even harder to live up to a parent sticking with it when given ample opportunity to leave. 

My mother was the family breadwinner. She is still working full-time at 67. She was emotionally strong when faced with many difficult life situations. She was there for us when my dad couldn’t take it. She has patience when others have none. She is a hard worker. She handles difficulties with ease. She has been an anchor through all of life’s storms. I am proud and honored to have her as my mother. What a blessing her life has been to me and many others. She has been a lifelong advocate for the disabled and their parents. She has helped many with her empathy and compassion. She has been very generous with the gifts she has been given. She is one strong woman. 

Happy birthday, mom! I love you. 

What happened after….

Almost two years after the birth of Angelique, I had another baby. A little boy that I will call Alex. Alex was an easy baby. He was always content, rarely cried, and followed a very consistent feeding and sleeping schedule. Both babies slept through the night at around 2 months even though I nursed them. I figured I had this parenting thing down pat. Life was going fairly smoothly for awhile. After those first couple of years of peace, life got a little dicey. 

After Matt attacked Angelique on her 4th birthday, life got a little crazy. My mom couldn’t accept that I needed a break from my violent autistic brother for awhile. She pleaded, pressured, and begged to have Matt in our life again. She would drive over a couple of times a month just to have Matt wave at my kids through the car window. She would help out if Matt was included. I couldn’t risk my 2 and 4 year old being hurt by a grown man. I couldn’t. Matt almost exclusively attacked little girls. It wasn’t long after this that I found out I was pregnant and having a baby girl. I didn’t want to tell anyone the sex of the baby, so my mom figured out it was a girl or I would have said something. 

Right around this time, I started babysitting for the neighbor girl about 50 hours a week. She started calling me mom and hanging out with us when I wasn’t babysitting. Every weekend she would stay at her grandma’s while her parents partied. I secretly resented them for having a break. I can’t say that I didn’t feel relief after they eventually divorced and moved away. Also, during this time my husband had started a business on the side. He was working for another company and went down to part-time so he could do this. He eventually used up all of his vacation days and they gave him an ultimatum. Either come back full-time or leave. He left. The stress started piling on again. 

When it came time to schedule my final c-section I opted to do it on a Friday. I had images of watching my other 2 kids while I was in the hospital if it was on a Monday like they suggested. My mom came early Friday morning to watch the kids, thankfully Matt did not get up that early. Arabella was born. Paul went to work. He was a one man show and we had bills to pay. Mom dropped the kids off mid morning as Matt had a dentist appointment. Paul had the kids with him off and on at the hospital all weekend. He had someone from church watch the kids Monday morning to pick us up from the hospital. Then my mother-in-law helped Monday and Tuesday. After that I was on my own, less than a week after major surgery with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and a newborn. A newborn that cried incessantly. That didn’t sleep through the night for a year. 

I felt hurt and angry at my mom for leaving me alone when I needed her the most. Matt always came first. I gave up my childhood for this? In my mom’s defense, she was working full-time and it was her busy time at work. Matt still lived at home and she no longer had my help. Six weeks after Arabella was born, my grandma had open heart surgery and for some reason I was handed the baton of throwing all of the holiday parties. I ended up getting mastitis twice and blamed myself for having a difficult baby because I was very stressed. 

The cure for autism, part 9

It started out the way these things usually do. My contractions were 2 minutes apart. I was due on my birthday and it was that week. The contractions didn’t lead anywhere and neither did the pitocin induced labor. I left the hospital the next day with an empty car seat. The nurses joked on my way out that they would see me later that day. Didn’t happen. 

The following week, I made it in to my appointment. I was now a week overdue and the doctor said it looked like a big baby. They scheduled to induce me again early the next morning. Another day of pitocin induced labor with no results until they broke my water. But they wouldn’t break my water until what seemed like 10 medical students got to feel my cervix. Then started the 2 hours of pushing without the urge to push. The baby never made it into the birth canal and was showing signs of stress. Stop pushing your baby could get stuck in the birth canal, sign these forms, and off to the surgical room. Seventeen years ago today ushered in the birth of Angelique Hope, 8lbs 13 oz. 

My mom said that this baby was going to finally pull Matt out of himself, a new cure for autism. Matt was an uncle for the first time. 

I graduated from college in May, got married in August, and was pregnant by October. After a fruitless job search, I decided to do what I did off and on for my whole life, be Matt’s caregiver this time with Angel. My mom and Matt became obsessed with Angel, the only difference was Matt’s obsession was dark.  Angel grew into a beautiful and happy little girl. I should have seen it coming, but I was blinded by optimism. 

It happened on Angel’s 4th birthday at her party. Angel wanted everyone to watch her dance around and sing. Matt said, “Everybody watch this” and proceeded to grab Angel’s arm and start twisting. Paul and Luke had to struggle to get Matt off of Angel. My mom was screaming not to hurt Matt. Luke took Matt home. Matt muttered to himself for hours, evil laughter and delight that he obeyed whatever voices where telling him to hurt her. Thankfully, Angel was not seriously hurt. 

I had now entered the second most difficult period of my life. After this happened, we decided to cut Matt out of our life for awhile. I couldn’t stand to watch my own children get hurt the way I was. This also cut my mom out of my life because Matt still lived at home and they were always together. For a period of about five years, I lost all support from my family and felt very alone. 

Still no cure.