Monthly Archives: June 2010

A Quick Baby Update

First of all, thank you for all the support over the last few days. Some day I will devote an entire post to how much it has helped me, but just know that you guys are keeping us afloat right now and I will be eternally flabbergasted at how wonderful you all are.

There’s not too much to report at the moment but MJ did get a call back from our primary doctor today. Unlike Mr. Insensitive Asshole the radiologist, he refused to conjecture or hypothesize as to what’s wrong. He said it is best if we get to Brigham & Women’s in Boston for a high-risk ultrasound that will attempt to determine exactly what we’re up against. That will happen on July 6.

Interesting to note, he said this kind of thing predominantly occurs in mothers who have diabetes. As far as we know, MJ does not have diabetes but we’ll be getting her checked as well. They also ruled out the possibility of Down’s Syndrome through blood tests. Which is ironic because I was kind of hoping it was Down’s. I could’ve dealt with that and at least Down’s isn’t life-threatening.

And right now, that’s my big worry. I’m concerned this baby has a terminal physical or genetic condition that will either kill it in the womb or shortly after he/she is born. And really, that’s the crux of this whole thing and what we need to determine. Because while it will be heart-breaking to watch our unborn die at 17-18 weeks, I have to believe it is soul-crushing and damn near life-ending to bury a child shortly after he/she is born.

Unfortunately, time is a factor right now. If this pregnancy has to be terminated it should be before 16 weeks (we’re coming up on 14 now). Otherwise it gets dicey health-wise not to mention the fact that MJ would have to deliver a dead child. That is something I need to try to avoid at all costs.

Again, these are all hypotheticals and I’m still clinging to the ever-shrinking hope that everything will be OK. MJ, however, has prepared for the worst. And I don’t blame her. If she was optimistic like I am and then got horrible news next week in Boston, it would crush the life out of her. So steeling herself mentally and emotionally is a natural defense mechanism. I feel so horribly for her. She’s carrying a baby inside of her, feeling it grow but knowing all the while there’s a very good possibility it will all be for nothing. That is a mind fuck the likes of which I cannot fathom.

As for me,  I can’t help it. I’m just not there yet, which means the anvil is set to fall on my head next week. I guess I’ll deal with that when I have to.

Again thank you (most of you anyways) for all your support and I promise I’ll keep you updated as this all unfolds. Now go hug your kids.

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Daycare Drama

Ready kiddos? Buckle up because this is nuts…

After receiving the call from my daycare provider’s husband (because she obviously doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to do it herself), I went over there to gather Will’s things. Frankly I was planning on making a big stink but I chose not to because there are more important things.

I parked the car with Will in it in her driveway and made my way up to the deck. Her husband was there, she was not. I said hello and asked if everything was ready. He said yes so I grabbed it and started to head out without a word. That’s when she came around the corner with another one of the daycare kids. She asked me if I got their message about the additional money they wanted me to pay. I said yes, but that I wasn’t going to pay her a cent because she’s the one kicking Will out. And frankly, what parent is going to send their kid back to a place he/she is clearly not wanted?

At that point I decided to tell them about what’s going on with our baby. And then I said if they wanted to pile onto our nightmare by taking us to court, go right ahead. Neither of them said anything about the baby. Not a “I’m sorry to hear that” between them. So I grabbed Will’s stuff and said “Thanks for nothing” as I made my way back to the car.

No voices had been raised by either side at this point, which I thought was important because her own children and her daycare kids were outside with us. But as I was making my way to the car, she decided to heat things up.

“Yeah. And thank you for having such a charming child.”

I stopped dead in my tracks, blood boiling to unrecognizable levels. I turned around and just glared at her. That kicked off a heated argument during which she called my son “awful.” She called me and MJ “spoiled brats” and part of the “spoiled generation.” Then she told me I didn’t know what I was talking about because I’ve only been a parent for two years.

Now please keep in mind, she’s engaging me in this argument WHILE I WAS ALREADY WALKING AWAY not to mention IN FRONT OF SMALL CHILDREN. As if I really need to say any more. This paragon of professionalism didn’t even stop to put the kids in the house or spare them the scene. Nope, she just launches right into it while she’s holding the kid’s hand on her porch.

Now, as I’ve already said, my son is not perfect. He started having behavioral issues after another of her daycare kids BIT HIM. But I put all my trust in my provider because I truly thought of her almost as family. Which is probably why my sadness outweighs my anger right now. We worked with her at every turn and followed almost all of her suggestions. She wanted to cut down on the sippy cups, we totally eliminated them during the day and kept him to one in the morning and one at night. I came up with a rewards-based system to help Will earn points during the day. And if you go by my provider’s daily notes home, it was working.

This was sent home to us on Tuesday, June 22:

“We saw big changes in Will today. Much less crying & more involvement in daily activities. He had a great time playing with Charlie and they were like best friends.”

When I picked him up that day she told me he was “an 8 out of 10.” She told me Will was hugging and kissing Charlie all day. And she told me it was the first day of his sticker chart, where he receives stickers for helping around the house, sharing, etc and earns special prizes at the end of the day if he gets enough points. MJ and I were thrilled and, quite honestly, relieved.

THE VERY NEXT DAY she calls MJ and tells her Will needs to find a new daycare. Tell me, when you work with children how does it make any sense to react in such a bi-polar manner? Toddlers are full of ups and downs. Will had a great day Tuesday and a shitty day Wednesday. And that was it. Over and out.

But after today’s argument, now I know what’s at the root of all this. She has been harboring ill will toward my son for two months now. She called him awful today. That didn’t just pop up this instant, she’s been feeling that way since April. And my son is very intelligent. He picks up on emotions and it’s plainly obvious he recognized he was being watched by someone who wanted to be rid of him. Now I have serious concerns as to how my son was treated these past two months by a provider who longer wanted anything to do with him.

Not to mention this is the second child she’s done this to this year. Which leads me to believe that between her out of work and injured husband, the money they don’t have to replace their failed septic system and her youngest son who might be struggling with depression, she was not able to devote the proper level of care for my son and it’s at least partially her fault this happened. And that’s fine if she just came out and said that a month or two ago. But instead she’s made a bad situation worse, blaming my son for her personal shortcomings.

And you have to understand, she told us she LOVED me and MJ. She told us we were her favorite parents. She bad-mouthed the other daycare parents to us all the time and told us she wished more first-time parents could be like us. And I put my complete and total trust in her. I took her word as gospel, which is unfortunate because my own son was trying to tell me he didn’t like it there and I kept forcing him to go.

Bottom line here is I don’t care if she yells and screams at me. But she sunk to an all-time low when she started calling my 2-year-old names. Seriously, she called him awful. A grown woman in her 40s insulting a toddler. Not to mention she’s screaming at me with her daycare kids looking on. She’s lucky I showed some restraint and ultimately walked away because that’s not something small kids should have to be around. But apparently at her daycare, it’s acceptable.

I can’t believe I was so wrong about someone. I’m usually a very good judge of character but in this case, not so much.

I’m not going to post her name, the name of her business and all that. Deep down I’d like to believe she’s a good person in a rough spot. But the fact that she couldn’t even muster up an “I’m sorry” when I told her about my baby is pretty telling. Not to mention getting into a screaming match in front of kids.

My son isn’t perfect, but he’s a good boy. A good boy in a horrible situation and I will never let something like that happen again. In the meantime let this be a lesson that you never truly know people until the shit hits the fan.

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Banned From Daycare

UPDATE: My daycare provider now informs me that even though she’s asking Will to leave the program, our contract calls for two weeks notice. So she is going to CHARGE US even though she’s the one kicking Will out. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!!? I’m so pissed off I can’t even see straight and now I have to go over there to pick up all of Will’s stuff. This fucking woman is a joke. She didn’t even call me herself, she had her husband call me and leave that on my voicemail. Bullshit!!!

Five days ago I thought Will getting booted out of his current daycare was just about the worst thing that could happen. I never thought I’d be looking back on that fondly and wishing it was the least of my problems. But even though the situation with the baby has taken precedence, it is only exacerbated by the fact that I feel utterly betrayed by our daycare provider.

It’s no secret Will has had a tough time lately. For the last couple of months, he’s been very hit or miss at daycare. It all goes back to the arrival of a younger boy, who is six months younger than Will. Now granted, a group of daycare kids is not unlike a pack of dogs. The introduction of a new canine into the pack can be disruptive to say the least. Such was the case with him.

At first it was just that Will was jealous. He was the only boy and now he had to share the spotlight. But things devolved quickly. The other boy is a strong personality and very aggressive. So aggressive, in fact, that one day we found out he bit Will. I was alarmed at first, but our provider told us it was really no big deal. At that point, I had no reason not to trust her. She had become like family to us and she has years of experience. So I let it go with no further questions.

But things just got worse and worse from there. Will refused to share and he would not play with the group. He was perfectly content to be alone. And when he did play with everyone else, he and the other boy would get into scrapes. But for whatever reason, our provider told us Will was the problem. She had nothing but good things to say about the other boy, and negative comments about Will. Despite the fact that my son was the one who was bitten.

Things got so bad MJ and I had to come up with a plan to change his behavior. We instituted a “Big Boy Points” system in which he could earn points by sharing, saying please and thank you, picking up his toys, etc. And when he earned enough points he could go outside, play with the basketball or get a treat. And for a while it was working.

In fact, when he came home from daycare on Tuesday he had glowing reviews from our provider. She told him it was one of Will’s best days. That he shared. That he hugged the other boy all day. He was cheerful and pleasant and an all around great kid. I was thrilled and, most of all, relieved.

Which is why I was so surprised when, just 24 hours later, our provider called us and told us she couldn’t take him anymore.

Without going into too much detail, she has some family issues she’s dealing with. She has two kids of her own: one going off to college in the fall and the other in middle school. She already had to re-jigger schedules because she’s having problems with the youngest and wanted to spend more time with him. And apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back was when he came home from the last day of school on Wednesday and Will was throwing a tantrum. He told his mom he couldn’t deal with it and had to leave. Our provider said she can’t have her house become a place her children don’t want to be, so Will had to go.

But that’s bullshit.

YOU’RE A FUCKING DAYCARE PROVIDER!!!! I’m sorry, but whiny kids are kind of in the job description don’t you think? Did she really think she was going to become a daycare provider who only got angelic toddlers and perpetually well-behaved children? If she thought her home was always going to be a pleasant place to be with 4-5 young kids all running around, then she was either on crack or woefully misguided.

My kid is no angel. He can be hell on wheels at times and I can certainly relate to the feeling of wanting to pitch him out a window. I get it, he’s a handful. And she has every right to choose who her clients are. But it’s not like she was doing this on a volunteer basis. It’s her job. We are paying her, and part of that fee is to deal with a toddler. Christ, they don’t call it the Terrible Two phase for nothing.

Then she tried to play it off like it’s what was best for Will. Yeah, because young kids don’t need routine or anything and breaking that routine that he’s been in for 15 months is going to be beneficial. Right. Keep telling yourself that.

But I have to take some of the blame here. First of all, this is the second child she’s asked to leave daycare in the last year. Apparently kids need to be perfectly well behaved in order to keep their spot. But second and most telling, for the last 3 weeks Will has cried and begged me not to drop him off every morning. I just chalked it up to him being difficult, but obviously I should’ve listened to him. Every day it was “No dada, no go.” He didn’t want to be there, probably because she didn’t want him there and most likely has been making him feel that way for some time now.

We’ve found someone who can take Will immediately, which is surprising because I imagined all daycare providers stick together. In my head she most likely sent a fax out to all the daycare providers on the Cape with Will’s picture on it next to a skull and crossbones. I figured he’d be blacklisted at all the high class daycare establishments. Somehow it’ll go on his permanent record and some snooty headmaster will stamp DENIED on his preschool application. He’ll never be able to get a job because by then, Homeland Security will require a background check that dates back to toddlerhood. Getting kicked out of a daycare or not being potty-trained by age 3 won’t be enough to counteract a degree from Harvard.

In the meantime I just feel betrayed. I treated our provider like family. For Christmas we got her and her daughter Pandora bracelets. We gave her husband and her son club seats to a Celtics game. But when it came down to it I don’t think she gave it her full effort and when things got tough she sent Will packing. Now she’s screwing us over during the most chaotic moment of our lives.

Maybe I should become a daycare provider. If I can get paid to only watch toddlers who don’t cry and never whine my life would be made in the shade!

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The Words No Parents Want to Hear

“Everything I see leads me to believe there is something wrong with your baby.”

I don’t know what it’s like to lose a parent or a sibling. I’ve never been in a battle where I’ve had to fight for my life. So I consider myself very lucky that I haven’t truly known true fear. But yesterday that all changed. Because I’m telling you right now, the fear you feel when someone tells you there’s something wrong with your tiny unborn baby is a paralyzing feeling the likes of which I’ve never experienced, and wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

MJ went into yesterday’s appointment already convinced of the worst. Call it Mother’s Intuition if you want, but she was POSITIVE there was something wrong. I tried to calm her down and managed to get her into a reasonable state of mind as we entered the office. But I knew the moment of truth would be the minute that little hologram popped up on the ultrasound machine.

I don’t pray, but I hoped like hell the first thing we’d see is that kid spread eagle. I had it all planned out in my head. The tech would smile and reassure us, showing us the baby’s legs were separate and flailing away. MJ would shed small tears of relief and I would say “See? Told ya so!”

But it didn’t work out that way.

When the fuzzy image came into focus, it looked exactly the same as it did Wednesday. MJ asked if the legs were separated but even I could see the answer to that was no. And when MJ saw, she lost it. She immediately started crying and sniffling. I gripped her hand as tight as I could and told her it doesn’t mean anything yet. After all, this was only the ultrasound tech. We hadn’t even seen the doctor yet. He would take a look and find that everything was OK. I refused to shed a tear and I convinced myself the doctor would come through for us. I was going to will this baby into acceptable condition. I clung to that.

The doctor came in and immediately started asking MJ a barrage of questions about her health history. It became abundantly clear that this guy might be an expert in examining ultrasounds, but some etiquette and sensitivity classes would’ve also been a worthwhile investment. With deft skill but horrible manners, he viewed the baby from every possible angle as MJ and I struggled to keep our shit together. Then he stopped and looked at us.

“The fact that the legs do not separate and won’t move is highly unusual,” he said. “It leads me to believe there is some kind of lower extremity defect.”

I’m not a religious person and I’ve never believed in heaven or hell. But there is a hell. Hell is sitting next to the person you love most in this world and listening to her wail hysterically because her heart just broke into a million pieces. Hell is watching her entire body convulse with sobs as she screams because she’s being tortured with grief. For as long as I live and no matter how many children we have, I will NEVER forget that sound. Ever.

I tried to hug her, to hold her hand, to console her in any way I could. But she just pushed me away and screamed at me to get away from her. In that instant I was completely powerless. My baby is sick and there is nothing I can do for him/her. Nothing. I can’t even hold the baby to comfort it. My wife is devastated too and once again, I’m powerless to do anything about it. I couldn’t make her feel better no matter what. I can’t fix my child, I can’t comfort my wife…that feeling of helplessness is crippling. And terrifying.

The only thing I could do was flip my switch. I went from being a parent to being a newspaper reporter. It’s a defense mechanism that allows me to do my job in some of the most emotional, saddest situations possible. And while it’s usually reserved for fatal accidents or knocking on the doors of grieving families to interview them about a lost loved one, this time it was a quest for information concerning the health and well-being of my future son or daughter.

I asked how unusual this was. What’s the next step? What are some possible diagnoses? What are our options? When can it be narrowed down? I asked every question my frazzled mind could muster.

Unfortunately, there really aren’t any answers right now. It’s too soon to know specifically what’s wrong. The only way to do that is wait a few weeks for the baby to develop and grow, so doctors can get a better look. So in 2-3 weeks we’ll have an amnio done which should be able to tell us what we’re up against. But the problem with that is we can do nothing except have this damaged child grow inside of MJ for the next month while we figure out what’s wrong. I have no idea if it’s going to be fatal. Or if it’s going to put MJ at risk during delivery. Or what kind of quality of life this child can expect if he/she does survive.

But to be honest, I can’t think about any of that right now. There are too many unanswered questions at this point so to try and answer all these hypotheticals would just drive me unnecessarily insane.

That’s why on the way home from the doctor’s office yesterday, the only thing MJ wanted was Will. Unfortunately he was an hour away staying with my aunt. So I dropped her off at her mother’s house and told her I would get him ASAP. I hugged her tight and swore to her that everything would be OK, even though that felt like a blatant lie. And I held it together long enough to make sure she got inside. Then I turned the car around, drove out of sight, and completely lost my mind.

I cried. I sobbed. I openly wept. I pulled the car over to the side of the road, put it in park, got out on the side of the road and fell on my knees. And then I threw up. I didn’t care who saw me or how I looked. I didn’t care about anything.

Eventually I made it my aunt’s where she was waiting along with Will and both of my parents. I held it together the whole time I was there. I hugged them all and I saw the love and concern in their eyes and heard their words of encouragement. And while I appreciated the sentiment, none of it mattered. I just wanted my son.

I put him in the car seat and hugged my family goodbye. I drove away but pulled over down the road a bit. I got in the backseat with Will and I told him there was a problem with his little brother or sister. “Brother sister” he said excitedly. He likes to give kisses to MJ’s belly and last week he even tried to share monkey — his most prized possession — with his sibling in mama’s stomach. The smile on his face as he spoke of his brother and sister might as well have been a knife twisting around inside my chest.

I broke into tears as I told him he might not get to be an older brother. I laid my head and all of my problems in the lap of my poor 2-year-old son. When I glanced up Will looked a little stunned and concerned. I wiped the tears from my eyes and told him I was sorry. And that’s when he grabbed my hand, looked me straight in the eye and said “Dada, it’s OK.”

To be fair, the Hallmark moment was ruined seconds later when he inexplicably slapped me across the face. But still, it was incredibly sweet and something I’ll never forget.

MJ and I both took the weekend off from work. I just can’t function properly right now. When I woke up this morning I was happy for a fleeting instant because I thought it was all a dream. But then I remembered my world is now upside down and the nightmares take place during the waking hours, the only reprieve coming at night.

I have no idea how this will turn out. We’ll get as much information as we can over the next few weeks and make the best decision for our family. I just hate this. I hate feeling like I’m cursed. With the exception of Will, the last few years have been nothing short of fucking miserable. MJ lost her job and had to take another with a significant cut in pay. Our finances suffered to the point we’re on the brink of declaring bankruptcy. We’ve borrowed thousands from generous family members that we haven’t been able to pay back. MJ was diagnosed with Crohn’s an other serious medical conditions. We went through two miscarriages before Will was born. MJ suffered through hellish postpartum depression. Will gets kicked out of daycare and then a day later, we find out there’s some horrible defect with our unborn child.

And each time I try to reassure MJ that nothing else can go wrong, something does. Each time I tell her things can only better, they get worse. I don’t have any more optimism in me after this. The fact that my poor unborn child is cursed with some kind of freakish defect after we’ve already suffered through two miscarriages is proof that I am not destined for normalcy or peace of mind.

But why not? When is it going to be enough? Am I literally going to pay with a pound of flesh in the form of my unborn child??? I’ve fucking had it. I don’t even want fame, fortune and riches. I just want to avoid devastation. Is that really too much to ask? I don’t think so! And I don’t want to hear about God’s plan, or God not giving people more than they can handle, or what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Bullshit. God is crap, this is more than we can handle and what doesn’t kill us only weakens us and leaves us even more vulnerable for the next fucked up thing that happens to us.

While I don’t know how this will all end, I know it won’t end well. Because in the end there are two choices we can make and neither one is appealing. But both are daunting and terrifying.

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What If?

Turns out I may have been prematurely optimistic in writing my last post about getting past the threat of a miscarriage and being able to enjoy this pregnancy.

Less than 24 hours after I wrote about how happy I was, everything came crashing down all at once. First of all, Will got kicked out of daycare. I won’t go into detail too much right now because that’s going to be a separate post all its own. But the bottom line is its for bullshit reasons and now we have to scramble to find a suitable/affordable daycare for Will in the next few days. No easy task and very stressful. It also doesn’t help that I’m sick as a dog right now.

But adding to that stress is we got a call from the diagnostic company that did MJ’s ultrasound on Wednesday. The doctor wants us back in this morning because he’s worried about a potential problem with the baby’s legs. Specifically they didn’t separate the entire time we were having the ultrasound done.

Look, I know what you’re going to say and I know you’re right. It’s probably nothing. Moms everywhere have told me they were dragged back to hospitals 2, 3 and even 4 times for possible problems and genetic defects from ultrasounds which turned out to be nothing. And later on this morning, I fully expect to be breathing a huge sigh of relief when we find out everything is OK.

But in the meantime, I’m human. And I can’t help but wonder, what if?

What if there’s something very wrong with this baby? Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, or Sirenomelia (aka Mermaid Syndrome) where a newborn’s legs are fused together. Can you tell I took straight to Google after the doctor’s call? And yes, I’m jumping the gun here. But that’s not the point.

Every expectant parents has, at some point, wondered what would happen if their kid was born with some kind of defect. Hypothetically, let’s say we find out something is seriously wrong with this baby. And whatever it is he/she will be special needs. That baby will require a lifetime of special attention. Doctors visits, expensive medical procedures, specialized daycares and special schools. I’ve seen the amount of dedication, love and effort the parents of special needs kids put forth and it is EXTRAORDINARY. It’s also tough. Dealing with bureaucrats at all levels of government, advocating for your kid at every turn and being a professional squeaky wheel. If you need evidence of how unbelievable these parents are, just click on over to Tanis at the Redneck Mommy who is an absolutely amazing example of this.

But I’m not sure I’m that good of a person.

Seriously. The thought of having a special needs child terrifies me. In part because I can’t imagine what that child will go through over the years, but also because I can’t imagine that kind of lifelong struggle as a parent. I don’t think I’m emotionally prepared for that, and I’m definitely not financially ready for that kind of undertaking. So if something was really, really wrong, what would happen? Obviously MJ and I would need to talk, but terminating the pregnancy would be an option on the table. Which is terrifying in and of itself.

But then I think back to an event I covered last week at a school devoted to helping students with disabilities of all kinds. As a reporter I blended into the background and did my job, which is to observe. I saw these kids, happy as can be, in caps and gowns ready to earn diplomas. Some of them graduating from the modified high school, others from a program that gets older kids ready to lead a semi-independent life in the outside world. And then I saw their parents. Specifically I focused on one family gathered near the aisle preparing to watch their son walk to the graduation stage. They were obviously divorced because the mom had a guy and the dad had a woman. They were both welling up with tears. And then the dad glanced at his ex-wife with tears and a smile. He walked over to her and gave her this HUGE hug. She hugged him back and looked at him. They never said a word. They didn’t have to. I could see how long and hard a road it was to this day. Who knows, it may have even played into their divorce. But regardless, the pride and utter joy they were feeling at that particular moment was transcendent. Pure. And tangible. A mega payoff at the end of a seemingly endless journey.

I’ll admit, it moved me. And I thought about my unborn baby and what would happen if I was in a similar boat. And this made me think maybe I could do it.

Until I saw that tuition for this school is $68,000 a year.

Again, I know we’re not there yet and probably won’t be. But something like this makes you think and I barely slept last night. MJ is a wreck too. I’m just hoping as hard as possible that nothing is wrong, because while I don’t think I’m strong enough to be the parent of a special needs child, I may not be capable of making the other almost unthinkable decision either.

In the meantime I’m letting MJ drink some caffeine this morning so hopefully we can jolt the kid into moving around and get those legs separated. Now is no time to be proper kiddo.

WHEN YOU’RE DONE HERE CHECK OUT DAD-BLOGS AND FATHERHOOD FRIDAY.

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