Friday, October 31, 2008

A Ball Is Not Just A Ball

My beautiful Ro has a strange obsession, which I hesitate to share because of its subject matter. She has an overwhelming desire to be older than she is. (This is not the strange part.) But while some kids just role play the part of "Mommy", Ro is a method actor. She gets into the role by taking on the look of a Mommy. And I am not just referring to the high heels she has perfected walking in by the time she was two. I am not surprised about the insurmountable amount of clothing that seems to go missing from my closet and drawers that I continuously need to sift out of the dress up pile. I know just where to go if my purse is not in its regular dumping spot.

I am not taken aback by the frequent questions that begin, "When I am a mommy..." I already know that everything I own, everything I wear, every tube of lipstick I have, every piece of jewelry I frequent will undoubtedly be claimed for proprietary by
Ro for her future Mommyhood. She also seems to know which other four year old will be her husband. She has it all planned out. But there is one thing, no make that two things she can not seem to wait for.

Here is the strange part. For the past year or so,
Ro has spent countless hours of playtime, endowing herself - with balls. Sometimes they are small super balls. Sometimes they are tennis ball size. Sometimes the balls are not even the same size. She does not discriminate. If she finds balls, they will end up in her shirt. It never gets tiring. I laugh every time. And when she is asked why she likes to place balls in her shirt, she very simply replies, "I want to be a Mommy".

I believe her curiosity with "balls" began when Ate was born and she noticed that this baby was not drinking out of a
sippy cup like she did. She pointed to my chest one day and asked "What's that?" Although I am typically the Mom who shares the appropriate anatomical words with my children, I gave her a more generic reference this time, to save me from any possible future embarrassing moments. (And a good thing I did. When on an airplane a couple months later, infant crying, Ro yelled out, "He wants a drink from your body.") So it was smart on my part, to just tell her, "That is my body."

Although, now at age four, she still refers to her "balls" as her bodies, which is kind of weird.

"When I grow up, will I have bodies like you Mommy?"

Ro, you most probably will have bodies, but whether it's like mine or not, depends on which family genes you got."

Of course, this incredible desire of hers, to grow into a Mommy, can come in handy when trying to raise a healthy child.

"Take your vitamin
Ro, so you can grow bodies."
"Eat your broccoli
Ro, so you can grow bodies."
"Get a good nights sleep
Ro, so you can grow bodies."
"Brush your teeth

"Why, will it help me grow bodies."

Ummm, yeah, I am sure in some way the two are connected, so brush your teeth."

I know that someday this phase will pass and I will only have the memories of
Ro sifting through a bin of balls, trying to find just the right ones to fit her mood, or to fit her shirt. I actually have some great pictures of this phase of Ro's. Only I could never publicly publish them for fear of being arrested for promoting some strange child exploitation. So I will keep it to myself and relish every last moment of these incredibly imaginative years.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Check Out The Tonsils!!!

So has chronically enlarged tonsils. Could be she was born with them, but I noticed them when she was just 1. I love pointing them out to people, because they are the size of golf balls, and when she has a virus, they grow to racquetball size. I could be having a conversation with someone about how to best utilize your Linen's N' Things and Bed Bath and Beyond coupons, and then totally digress just for the fun of it. "Hey, wanna see some big tonsils, So open your mouth, go on..." And then I hear it, the "OHHH MY G-D!!!" And then I feel oddly satisfied.

When So was three and 1/2, I finally took her to a Pediatric ENT (ear nose throat). I did not care for him too much. I was waiting in his office for over two hours before he made himself available. Have you ever waited that long for yourself, much less with a three year old. I was taken to the little cubicle room where I saw a dentist office looking chair in the middle of the room and a more standard chair against the wall. I chose the chair by the wall and settled in with So on my lap. We had to wait another ten minutes here when the Dr. finally made his grand entrance with his entourage medical students. He looked about 35 years old and sat himself in the big leather dentist looking chair across from me and said, "What seems to be the problem?"

Well it's not a problem with her toe, Dr. ENT. Just take a looksie and I think all your years of Medical School might just pay off with a diagnosis. Something told me he didn't really take my daughter seriously as a patient the minute he walked in the room sat in the chair that she was obviously supposed to be sitting in. Seriously, he was sitting like a King in his thrown with his two medical students standing guard over both his shoulders.

After he took a minute to look and seemed genuinely unimpressed with the size of tonsils that I knew should be listed in the "Guinness Book of World Records" under human oddities, he then asked me how she is affected by them.


"Does she snore? Does she have apnea? Does she wake up at night? Does she eat well?" etc. etc.

"Well, I don't know, I don't sleep with her. But I do know this, they are friggin huge."

He then gave me his advice. I should keep watching them. (That is going to be hard, because they are just so hard to notice). As long as her sleep is not affected and there is no apnea, I should wait. Because sometimes these things shrink with age.

"Oh" I said, "there is one other thing, I am concerned how this affects her socially."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, I know that the tonsils have pockets that can collect food and when it decays it causes halitosis." (I do my research)


"And I don't want people to think she is unhygienic and not want to be around her. Because she will pick up on it and it may cause her self-esteem issues."

He then replied with, "I wouldn't worry about that, after all, it's not like she's kissing any boys."

First of all, you don't know that. And secondly, don't determine my three year old daughter's social status by whether or not she has a boyfriend. She is extremely social and loves to hang out with adults. So please don't minimize my concern for her social welfare. (were all the thoughts running through my mind) I think I would have actually said these things if I was certain at the time that this man would NEVER have a scalpel anywhere near my child's throat.

Since then, So's tonsils have not shrunk even a fraction of a millimeter. I once called the on call pediatrician in middle of the night when So woke up out of the blue. I took one look in her throat, actually, I could no longer see her throat. It was all just tonsils. I thought she would stop breathing any second.

He let me know that these are called "kissing tonsils" and in no way do they obstruct her airway. Either way, I knew So had another virus and I would get no sleep for the foreseeable future next few days.

Well, we are at that time of year again. Between Ate's no pooping phase and So's 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning wake-up calls due to mutant viruses, I am a walking zombie. I don't even know if anything I am writing makes any sense.

Today I made an appointment for So to see a new Pediatric ENT specialist. This time, after he was already referred to me by a friend whose child had her tonsils removed, I also discovered he is listed in "Chicago" magazine's annual "Top Doctors" edition. He is listed as a top Doctor, of course.

Next Tuesday, after I take precious time out of my day to make a VOTE that will probably not make a difference anyway, I will have So meet with a man who I pray can make a difference. I think these babies are coming out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Inevitable

I knew this day would come. I knew this day would come, four years ago when I was pushing a then, two year old So in the stroller down the alley on the way to synagogue. I was walking with a neighbor and her seven year old son. As we passed one of the myriad of alley located garages, our meaningful conversation gossip was interrupted by this very loud inquiry, "Mom, what does F$!@ mean?" We both stopped cold in our tracks. As we looked towards my neighbors son, we noticed the very tastefully decorated garage, screaming out a very unique spray painted slogan, that I am sure the owners of such garage did not invite willingly. My neighbor simply replied, "That is a bad word, we do not say that word, please don't say that word again, EVER."

No matter how we try to shield our children, we can't win. We can put all the parental controls on our televisions and computers that we want, but ultimately, our child will end up hanging out with THAT kid. You know the one, the kid who knows just way to much for his own good, and all things that are quite age inappropriate. The kid, whose parents are clueless to what their child is exposed to, or they are just negligent altogether. And if our child is not influenced enough by THAT child, they will undoubtedly become exposed to some form of schmutz or another, just by living in this world.

The other day, my six year old who likes to read the "Tribune" (which has just been totally dumbed down to appeal to people who would never read a newspaper anyway) noticed an ad for an upcoming movie. It might have been the stick figures that make up the illustration of this movie ad that drew her attention, but it's the title that got my attention. When my six year old asked me, "Mommy, what's a porno?"

The movie "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" (great, and the character's names are so obviously Jewish), is actually not a porn. It is a mainstream comedy about two cash strapped roommates who make a porn movie for some quick cash. Either way, I had some explaining to do.

"Well", I said. "Porno is Spanish, as in Por no, meaning for no."

"For no what, Mommy?"

"For no one under the age of 18, especially if their name is So."

"Why, Mommy?"


Now I try the, almost, straight forward approach. "So, there are just things in this world that are not appropriate for a six year old to know about, and when you are old enough to know about it, you should still not know about it."

"Huh? Never mind Mommy, can I have a treat?"

Awesome, my new approach in the future - just confuse the heck out of her. And then give her a dum-dum.

I think I thwarted this one, this time. But ultimately, that day will come when she will not give up that easily. That's usually the "where do babies come from" scenario. I can handle that one. In the meantime, no more "Tribune" for So.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Last night I found a message on my machine from my brother H. in Israel. It must have been 6 in the morning in Israel when he left the exciting message. He had called to let us know that my sister-in-law gave birth to her twelfth child, a healthy baby girl. No, that is not a typo, she has six boys and six girls now and I would guess that, so long as G-d does not decide differently, she will keep going. We are always happy to hear when a healthy child has been gifted to our family. My brother and sister-in-law were faced with a different situation when they had baby number 11. She was born with a deformed arm, shorter than normal and missing fingers. She has had surgeries and undergoes therapy, but other than that, she is, thank G-d a typical lively two year old girl.

My brother called my home, also looking for my parents. However, they were in New Jersey at my sister's, a pit stop on the way to Israel for their first grandchild's wedding. So I took the liberty of contacting my parents to give them the good news. They were obviously happy to hear that everyone is healthy and well, and then my parents dumped some other, not so easy to digest news on me. My sister M. who also lives in Israel, the one marrying off her son, just suffered a second trimester miscarriage. What a juxtaposition!!! My parents only found this out through a fourth party. My brother D. who also lives in Israel, told my sister R. in NJ and she told my parents.

(I should point out that I am one of seven kids. Four siblings live in Israel, one sister in New Jersey and another brother and I live in Chicago.)

My sister M. has, thank the good Lord, ten healthy children, and that by itself is a miracle. Shortly after my sister had her first baby (the one getting married) she was diagnosed with Lymphoma, and required intervention. Because my mom still had three young kids at home (I was thirteen at the time, my younger brother was nine), she could not go help my sister in Israel, but rather, brought my sister into Chicago to undergo treatment. My parents took on the role as caregiver to her baby, even having him sleep in their room, in addition to taking my sister to the hospital for her treatments and caring for her. After a few months of radiation, my sister was cleared of Cancer and returned home to Israel.

After many more healthy children, my sister began to notice problems with her posture and neck muscles. After seeing many Doctors, she was told she had some kind of muscle degeneration, probably due to all the radiation she received years earlier. It was suggested to my sister, by the Doctors, that she might consider not having more children. But my sister, being who she is, a woman of tremendous faith, decided to leave that in the hands of G-d, and continued to have a few more healthy children. However, this is not the first miscarriage she unfortunately has suffered. All this causes me to ponder the balance between making choices with consideration to our faith and belief or hoping that G-d will make the choice for us altogether.

It's like the old joke about a torrential down pour which was creating flood like conditions. Everyone was evacuating the area except for Sam. When the water was surrounding just Sam's ankles, a car came for him and told him to get in and he would be safe. But Sam said, "No thanks, the Almighty above will save me". When the water rose to his knees, a bus came for Sam and offered to take him to dry land. But Sam said, "No thanks, G-d will save me". The water was circling his waist and a ship came and motioned for Sam to come aboard to a safer area. But Sam said, "No thanks, I have 100% faith in the One above". It got really serious when Sam was neck deep in water. A helicopter came and lowered it's ladder and told Sam to hop on. But Sam waved it off, because after all, The Good Lord was going to come through for Sam. Well minutes later Sam drowned and his spirit rose through the pearly gates of heaven and Sam found himself standing before G-d, and he asked, "My Father in heaven, I put all my faith in You, I expected You to save me, what happened? To which G-d replied, "Sam, you fool, who do you think sent you the car, the bus, the ship, the helicopter?"

How do we know when we should accept a suggestion, a hint, a "sign" if you will as just that. Or should we consider that G-d is sending us an indirect, direct message? No woman wants to be told she can't have children. Should women who are informed they have infertility take that as a message from G-d that they will never have children? Should they then, NOT try a multitude of fertility treatments. Or maybe fertility treatment itself is help sent by G-d.

Should my sister accept the Doctor's suggestion and the unfortunate miscarriages as a message from G-d to close this chapter in her life. If she did, she wouldn't have had the last few healthy children that she had.

I don't know what the right answer is here. I don't know if there is even a right or wrong answer. I think it all goes back to how much of this world is pre-determined vs. how much freedom of choice we have. All I know is, this world is hanging on a string and G-d is holding the other end of that string. One day my sister suffers a second trimester miscarriage, two weeks later she is walking her eldest son down the aisle at his wedding. One day my sister-in-law is taking her two year old daughter to surgery to create a makeshift opposing thumb, a few months later she is fortunate to welcome a healthy baby girl into the world. We are humans riding a yo-yo. All we can do is count our blessings and hold on to hope and faith.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gnats on Steroids

I hate gnats. They are those tiny little flies that you inadvertently brought home from the fruit store in your bag of apples or nectarines. Only, you brought home just two and a day later there is a kickin' party going on at face level right near your refrigerator that involves actual super mating. Now your kids are wondering why you keep walking around the kitchen clapping every few seconds, and exclaiming,"victory" when you notice a smashed black speck on your palm. Usually these critters are gone this time of year, but now I am noticing similar monsters, although they doubled in size. They are gnats on steroids

This forced me to actually contemplate the actual source of these non-rent paying kitchen dwellers, and so I turned to my potato/onion cabinet. The cabinet that I hate most, because I am sure that a rotten potato carries the same exact decomposing chemical make-up as a rotting corpse (although I never met a rotting corpse).

So I donned the best neon yellow dish washing gloves I could find, wrapped my very stylish, five dollar, Target scarf around my nose and went to business. And there it was, or they were, rather - MAGGOTS. Lest I be judged at this moment as someone who neglects proper home cleanliness, I must fill you in here on an important life change that has for the past year affected how my home is run. My parents have been living with me for one year and three months while they do construction on their house.

How does this fact lend itself to writhing maggots eating away at liquefied potatoes?

A. I did not leave potatoes in a closed plastic bag. All potatoes need to be dumped out of plastic bags so they may breathe fresh air.

B. I have not gone into that cabinet in about two months, although I have seen my mom eating her sour cream smothered baked potato on many occasions.

There hasn't really been a whole lot of communication about what needs to be done in the house and who does it, it just seems to get done. Someone cooks supper. Someone gets the groceries. Someone cleans the potato cabinet that has been opened probably an estimated 25 times in the past month, maybe even emitting noxious fumes with every swing of the cabinet door...

I love my parents, and I am so happy I have had the honor of hosting them for the past year and three months. However, after the vermin finally make their exit, I hope my parents are able to follow en suite.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ate in a Nutshell

As I write this with one eye half open because I was kept from my precious slumber last night by an extremely (and literally) anal retentive boy, I see that such boy is wide awake and getting into all sorts of trouble. Which explains the cycle of negligence and destruction in my house. I was kept up by one little boy named Ate, I am now too tired to pay attention to what Ate is getting his grubby little fingers on, and I am sure I will suffer for it later when I notice some sort of destruction or undoing with Ate's name written all over it. And yet, this very active, rambunctious little boy can charm all the hugs, kisses and cheek pinching right out of me. My husband says he is a Mamma's boy, but I think it is because he is that "marshmallow" child I always wanted. My mom called my younger brother her marshmallow. He always smiled and he was a cuddler. I think a marshmallow baby is pretty much a child who does not suck all your life's energy right out of you. After the whole Ro escapade, a child like Ate was such a welcome surprise. (I LOVE YOU RO).

As I mentioned in previous posts, I make predictions about my child's personality while they are fetus in utero. Right away, I told my husband, after two girls we are having our boy. My husband said he felt the exact same way (of course, he REALLY wanted it to be a boy). I partly felt this way because everything about this pregnancy was different than the previous two. Although in general, I am not one who believes that pregnancies differ one from the next, just because of the babies potential gender. I don't really subscribe to all the "myths" that determine the babies gender, ie. if your face really changes and your nose looks like it spread, you must be having a girl. That just reminded me.... When I was pregnant with So and we were living in New Jersey, where getting gas is still full service and the local gas attendant becomes your best friend, Ibraham asked me for my license one day while my tank was filling. And why exactly does a gas attendant need to see my license. Well, he noticed I was pregnant and he wanted a picture of me pre-pregnancy for reference so he could determine if my face changed, and what gender I might therefore be carrying. He determined my face did NOT change and so I was having a boy. Well surprise surprise Ibraham, I had a girl.

With the girls I gained only 23 pounds each time, even when I delivered So at over nine pounds. Boys make you fat!!! I gained 45 pounds with Ate. I was carrying lower. I was pregnant everywhere and every part of me got bigger (except, oddly enough, "two" things which typically get bigger and this time did not). But bottom line, it was a boy because my gut told me it was a boy. My gut also told me he would be a physically strong boy, but with the sensitivities that make him genuinely caring and concerned for other people's welfare. He is the type of boy who can carry gallons of bottled water across the room, and when he drops one on your toe he will put his hand on your shoulder and cock his head towards you and say, "whatsa matter, you gotta boo boo, you need a ban ade, you need ice, you need a kiss"? I knew he would be a busy little bee, and probably have a passion for "engineering". He likes to take things apart, I mean things that are not meant to be taken apart, and he likes to see what sinks and what can "swim" in the toilet. I knew he would be full of life, always smiling and a cuddler, oh, and a genius. He takes in everything from his environment so well, including sounds and smells. He copies and repeats everything he hears and sees from his older sisters. If you pass gas in front of him, he WILL announce that he "smells gases" so be warned. He will be heard singing in his crib any song he has ever heard, including the theme song from the Brady Bunch. I knew he would have a tremendous sense of humor. If I sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to him, allowing him to fill in the last words from each stanza, such as star, are, high, sky... he will replace those words with the word cracker. Twinkle Twinkle little ....cracker, how I wonder what you .... cracker. I think he is the best of both of his sister's. He is a very verbal and vocal and social extrovert like So and like Ro, he notices and picks up on everything and has a genuine nurturing and caring attribute. The only "problem" he seems to have (also like Ro) is his extreme anal retentiveness. He just won't poop. Oh well, count your blessings, right.

Ate was born June 7, 2006. He was my only child to come before his due date, one day to be exact. I remember at the time there was all this talk about women being induced before June 6 so they wouldn't give birth on 6 - 6 - 06. I even remember one story of a woman who was in labor and tried her hardest to keep her legs together until 12:01 am June 7 because she did not want a 666 baby. I could care less. I would have a baby on 666 if it meant I could breathe again, and I hope to G-d I was delivering a 40 pound baby (what were those 45 pounds for anyway). Well he came on June 7, at eight pounds even (had I been overdue with him, he would have been well over nine pounds). My husband was the one to announce the gender, he was paying close attention for that appendage and when he saw it, he was sure to let the Dr. and myself know.

Ate has been a pretty easy baby. He eats well, sleeps well, plays well, interacts well, now if we could just take care of that pooping issue. He has never been attached to anything in particular (none of my kids had crutches). Although, his latest bit of cuteness involves the "object of the day", "object Du jour" if you will. It can be anything from a baby spoon to a hot wheels, or a paperclip. Whatever it is, he walks around with it nonchalantly as he goes about his day, takes it to school and takes it to bed (we have to veto certain objects for bed time, such as paper clips for obvious reasons). Either way, do NOT try to pry that object from his hand, ever.

If I knew I could have more babies like Ate, I would just keep on going. Ate is my cuddly, welfare concerning, toilet water obsessed, very charmingly boyish, obscure object carrying, marshmallowy bundle of love.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

That is not what a toilet is for

I am finally done with about a month and 1/2 of on and off holidays which have left me feeling tired and bloated (too much food and too much overtime with children who were off of school). I can now officially concentrate on this blogging deal. While I have yet to officially introduce Ate, the little prince in the house, I do have a story that describes his obvious "boy" qualities to a tee.

Today a friend of mine visited with three of her four kids. Her first three are all girls and the same ages as mine respectively, 6, 4, and 2. All six kids disappeared to the basement while my friend and I caught up on some meaningful conversation (gossip) up in the family room. At some point, while we were deep in meaningful conversation (gossip), the 4 older kids returned to the family room and were probably there a good ten minutes before I realized that the two 2 year olds were not amongst them. Realizing it was way to quiet for any good to be occurring, I sent So back to the basement to retrieve the missing toddlers. All four of the older kids ran to find them only to return empty handed, stating "we called out there names again and again but there is no answer". Not what any mother wants to hear. So I sent the kids upstairs to try their quest for the toddlers there (you think at this point I would get off my lazy backside to search for two missing toddlers myself). At this time, four kids come running down the stairs, "Ate and Estie are playing with toilet water".

You've never seen two grown women bolt from a very comfortable sofa so quickly. I was sure I would find one of them tipped into the toilet, arms flailing. I couldn't imagine having to explain how I let a child drown in the toilet. I know I am not the only mother who's very first thought centers on morbidity. Right ladies?

What we found were two giggling children, drenched in toilet water. My son's arms were still swooping water across the walls and ceiling as we approached and there was no sign of guilt or remorse on his chubby little face. The toilet paper roll and tissue box - soaked. Their hair and every inch of their clothing - drenched. Frankly, I am surprised I did not find them sitting inside the toilet. I asked my friend if her daughter has ever done this before. I knew her reply before she answered, "no". Well she will now. It was a mess, but it was so darn cute. And thankfully, no one WAS tipped over into the toilet.

Ever see old pictures of yourself taking a bath with one of your mom's friend's kid, and wonder how that came to be? Well this is how it comes to be. Ate and Estie first got bathed in toilet water, and then scrubbed down in a bath of fresh water and all the anti-bacterial soaps one can imagine, if only we could have used bleach. Oh, the joys of a two year old boy and his obsession with toilet water. Ate has, since he's been born, kept me on my toes more than So and Ro have combined. It might be because he is a boy, but it may be, because he is, Ate. To know for sure, an impending blog will dissect this curious phenomenon we call "Ate".

Friday, October 17, 2008

More of Ro

When Ro was born, she was a seemingly perfect, healthy little girl. I really had a hard time connecting with Ro. I felt guilty about "replacing" So with a newer model and I kept thinking that something bad was going to happen, every time I was left alone with the kids. I never for a second thought that I would harm my child, but I kept thinking I would do something irresponsible, so out of the ordinary for myself and that it would indirectly create a bad situation. Like, what if I left my child in an infant bath tub to answer my phone (something I would never do) and when I return, I find her submerged. I can spare the details of my macabre thoughts and say, I knew right away what this was. I had the baby blues. I call it the baby blues and not post - partum depression, because, thank the good Lord it only lasted about two weeks. But, for those who have never experienced it, those two weeks feel like an eternity and you don't know at the time when it is going to end. You have these undesirable thoughts and feelings that you are aware of, yet you have no control over it. You can tell the thoughts to "get out of your head" but you can't make it go. I remember thinking, if this doesn't go soon, I will need meds, and that was not a road I wanted to travel. I was lucky, one day I awoke and the feelings of doom and haze were gone. Just like that!

I was feeling better and attempting to bond with Ro, but Ro had other plans. She had "colic" (just a word to describe something Doctors know nothing about). Between 4 pm and 9pm she was inconsolable. She would nurse non-stop, but never seemed satiated. She would nurse through the night, forty minutes or more at a time, falling asleep, only to wake twenty minutes later, wanting to nurse again. We tried having her sleep at night in a swing, an infant seat, a raised mattress, a mattress on the floor, next to Mommy, next to Hun, in a stroller, nothing worked. Hun and I were walking Zombies, trying to carry on through the day. Ro would not take a bottle, we tried every brand, every nipple, so we could see if supplementing would work, but she wouldn't take anything foreign in her mouth, not even a pacifier. Ro is the only baby I know who was constipated while only taking breast milk. She wouldn't just spit up, it was like a scene from the Exorcist. I had to change her clothing about 12 times a day. I had to use a thermometer to help her have a bowel movement. We tried Zantac for reflux, we tried feeding her water through a syringe. I was sore, and tired, and concerned.

We introduced solids at four months, hoping it would make her feel satiated, and solve any problems. All this time we were seeing a pediatrician. He is a good Doctor, still our pediatrician, but he does not specialize beyond pediatrics, and no longer knew what to do for us, except assure us, that although a fussy baby, she was growing and following her growth curve and hitting all her milestones. Ro did become a little less fussy and slept a little better at night, but her constipation and projectile vomiting only worsened. At about six months, Ro had a swallow study done, she had no swallowing problem. She was seen by an O.T. and it was determined she had no mechanical problems when it came to eating. She had a barium test under x-ray to test for Hirschsprungs. She had no blockage in her colon. She was tested for Celiac and many other things, all negative. At nine months old, Ro suddenly fell off her growth curve. She was starting to lose weight, now it was time to take drastic measures.

We met Dr. B, a pediatric Gastroenterologist from Children's Hospital when Ro was nine months old. He suggested we take a more invasive approach and have a colonoscopy and endoscopy done. I knew what that meant for a nine month old - sedation. I realized this was the only way we would find something if it was there, so I relented. She had to be intubated for the procedure and they told me they would call me when she was in recovery so I could be there when she woke. They waited too long. When they called me to recovery, she was awake and scared to death and crying hysterically, only you could hardly hear her because she was so horse from the intubation tube. My poor Ro.

Dr. Brown called us in with the results, there were signs of allergy in her intestines based on the eosiniphils he found from a biopsy. These results were not completely conclusive. It meant, something was irritating her, but what? Dr. B. suggested at that point, to remove dairy, wheat and eggs from her diet. We did this for two months, but at 11 months of age, Ro was no longer nursing, and still would not take a bottle (She would drink some apple juice from a sippy cup, but no formula and we did not introduce milk yet). And she was still losing weight. Dr B. kept her on the diet, and proposed we force feed her via naso - gastric tube a special hypo allergenic formula mixed with a special formulated powdered fat. That just sounded so tempting to me, but what was I supposed to do, my sweet Ro was waisting away, she was a baby anorexic.

I would love to say the only reason Ro needed to be force fed was because she didn't take a bottle, but that would be a lie. And here is where I "rave" about insurance companies, because I love 'em and they make so much sense. This special formula cost upwards of 300.00 dollars for a months supply. The special hydrated fat powder cost 100.00 dollars a canister, and the only way the insurance company pays for that, is if it is going from an i.v. pump through a tube down my daughter's nose into her tiny little belly. But it doesn't end there. Because she needs an NG tube, the insurance company will now pay for my daughter to have a two night stay at Children's Hospital so I, a registered nurse, who worked in a NICU, who paid 60,000 dollars for nursing school where I already learned NG placement and practiced it daily while working in a NICU, could learn proper NG placement. (Measure nose tip to earlobe to abdomen, insert that far down nasal passage, check for placement by inserting air via syringe into tube while listening with stethoscope - I could do it in my sleep). The insurance company also now pays for a nurse to come to my home to teach me how to use an I.V. pump (duh) and they pay for I.V. pump rental, tubing, tape and bandages... Could've just paid for the formula, brilliance, sheer geniuses.

We went through the force feeding every night while Ro slept. I bought a video monitor so I could watch her, because I was sure she would become strangled by all the tubing. I watched many nights as the I.V. tube separated from the N.G. tube and formula was pumped directly onto her clothing and crib sheets, or she would pull the N.G. tube out of her nose all together, (smart girl). Most mornings she would wake and vomit everything forced into her tiny little belly. There was one day I was taking her to an appointment at Children's. While driving down Lake Shore Drive, somewhere in the midst of her incessant crying, she projectile vomited EVERYWHERE, and the crying stopped, she felt relieved. I was done with this. After two and 1/2 weeks, I pulled the tube.

I already had the the special hypoallergenic formula and canister of fat paid for by insurance, they didn't know I was no longer using the pump and tubes. So I mixed some fat and formula with apple juice and with a little (o.k. a whole lot) of prodding, I got her to take it consistently in a sippy cup. She started gaining weight and we were all happy. When Ro was 13 months, we put her back on eggs (it was Passover and there was no way I could find anything to feed her without eggs in it). A couple months later we reintroduced milk and wheat. By the time she was 2, except for the fact that she was literally anal retentive (which went along with her personality), it was as if nothing was ever wrong with her.

Even today, at age 4 1/2 she will sometimes wait too long to go to the bathroom and then suffer for it, but like I said, Ro will do things when Ro is ready to do it and there is nothing anyone can do to change that. Ro will mature her digestive system a year and 1/2 after other babies do, and you just have to accept it. For those of us with a few kids, we realize they each come with their own operation manual. No two are the same, and troubleshooting is not the same either. We just get used to each of their special "kinks". Like the key hole that is temperamental, and only you know how to manipulate the key just right so the door unlocks, so is each child, needing special understanding. Ro is a beautiful, bright nurturing child. She has grown so much. She will come up to me out of the blue sometimes, stroke my face and say "Mommy, I am so happy you are my Mommy and I don't want a different one". Oh Ro, I am so happy you are my Ro, and I don't want a different one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Here Comes Trouble and We Call Her Ro

When we were living in Northern New Jersey and So was five months old, my husband came to me and asked if I wanted to move back to my hometown of Chicago. While this subject had come up as a possibility before, I sensed in his tone that there would be actual action this time. I did not realize that following my question of "When?", I would come to find out I had only a month to pack up and go. We had not even looked for a place to live in Chicago and had no where to move our stuff, and so we packed and left it all in the apartment we were still paying rent on (not the cheapest form of storage) and continued on our adventure. I went ahead with So by plane, while Hun drove one of our cars in three days later.

So and I settled in to my parents' house (yay, back to where I spent 25 years trying to get away from) and spent every waking moment looking at apartments and houses (I was pulling for the house). While Hun was literally on the road, on his way to Chicago, I called him up to tell him I found a house that had plenty of space to grow into, required no maintenance ,as it was just built and we had to decide NOW because of a special circumstance which allowed us to buy the house at the original price (before it was built) even though it was already worth 200,000 more. The most shocking words came out of his mouth, "Do what you need to do". My Hun, told me to go ahead with the purchase of a house, not a refrigerator, a HOUSE, that he did not even see. Frankly, I think it was the room in the front of the house with the french doors that I told him would be his study/office that really sold him. It has since become his cave (some sacrifices are worth it), because the rest of the house is MINE.

For three months (until closing) we lived at my parents' house while we paid RENT to store our things in Northern Jersey. Apparently, we were quite comfortable at my parents' house, because we found ourselves pregnant with number two.

While my husband was "secretly" hoping to balance out the testosterone to estrogen ratio in our home, I had to remind him that my gut, my special intuition, my trusty instinct did not include an "appendage" this time around. While I always pray for a healthy child, no matter the gender, I thought, since they would only be 15 months apart, it would be nice for So to have a little sister. Although I once again did not have a Doctor confirm my gender suspicion, I carried on as if it was no doubt a girl in utero.

With this pregnancy, like with So's, I was also having strong feelings about my child's personality. I remember using the words "spitfire", "ball of fire" and "fire storm" to describe her, she is more often than not a cranky child who knows how to instigate a situation that will ultimately give her the attention she needs (even though it is usually negative attention). I knew she would be more fierce in her approach to everything and that she would not come across as a warm affectionate child. She is very selective of who can touch her and cuddle her, and even I can only kiss her if she invites it or if she approaches me. I remember stating that she will be the kind of child who can sit around without needing constant interaction. Unlike So, Ro does not need constant entertaining, she can play with dolls and look at books by herself, so long as she knows Mommy or a trusted adult is not far away. She is not going to be exceptionally verbal. She is an introvert. She was my child, who took longest to speak, but more than that, even at four years old she tends to choose whining and crying over using words to get what she needs or wants. It can be as simple as a cup of juice, she will not just ask "please can I have juice"? She will point and whine "Juuuuuuuiiiiiiice". She needs to be reminded to use her words and ask nicely (She has come a long way because I am a 0 tolerance Mommy). She will be smart in a conniving sort of way. Because she is an introvert and getting info out of her is like pulling teeth, one may not realize how much she knows. But unlike So, who is oblivious to everything, Ro notices anything and everything. She determines WHEN she will reveal what it is she knows and she sometimes uses this to her advantage. She once asked me to buy her a sleeping beauty doll, when I told her I couldn't afford it because I had no money, she reminded me that four days prior I asked Hun to go to the bank and bring home money so I could pay the housekeeper, so I must have money.

Ro has the most perfect eyebrows, they are arched and shaped just the way mine look after I sit through a five - ten minute torture session with my Indian eyebrow lady. But, even these go along with her diabolical personality. We call her Chucky (after the slasher doll of the same name). If you met her and asked her to do the Chucky face, you would see right away what I mean, but there is another reason I call her Chucky. There was this one time when I left Ro sitting on the couch in the family room which is right off the kitchen. If I am standing facing the fridge, the couch is easily seen to the right of me. However, when I open the fridge door and peer in, my view of the couch is now blocked by the fridge door. I was at the fridge, looked over and saw Ro on the couch, twenty feet away, opened fridge door, pulled out item, closed fridge door (all of 4 seconds) and Ro was right behind fridge door with the most deviant chucky face ever. All she needed was a cleaver in her hand to complete the look. And why, you ask, was she standing there with such a look? Because when Ro was 2 years old, that is how she "asked" for a cookie.

My mom has a theory, she calls "second of the sex syndrome". The second kid of the same gender as the previous kid is somehow the one who is most needy in an unexpected way, and will zap you of all energy and all energy you had on reserve. She may be right, as Ro proved this theory from birth.

Ro came into this world on February 4 2004, 7lbs. 13 ozs. (my smallest baby) 19 and 3/4 inches long. Even Ro's entrance is testament to the fact that Ro will only do things when she is ready and then when she is she comes at you like a ton of bricks. Two weeks before her delivery, I would have consistent contractions everyday between the hours of 2 pm and 4 pm. Although they did not intensify, I found myself calling Hun at work every day at 3 pm asking him to leave early, because I did not know where these contractions were headed. Alas, he would get home, and they had subsided and he would call me "the girl who cried labor" (this is a reference to the boy who cried wolf for you slower people). After two weeks of this (now a week overdue) we both had enough of this. At an appointment that morning, my OB told me I was six cm. dilated. I WAS WALKING AROUND 6 CM. DILATED??? This baby should practically fall out of me. We agreed that I would come in the next morning to be induced. Well once again that afternoon, 2 pm my contractions begin, 3 pm "Hun, I don't know where this is going, please leave work early". 4pm, what, this is new, they are not stopping. I went to bed 11 pm that night with consistent yet tolerable contractions - 12 am, not so much fun anymore. 1 am we arrive at the hospital and I am almost 8 cm., I need the candy man NOW!!!! 5 am I see a small naked baby on the warming table, she has a whole lot of hair , and I kid you not, she stopped at the salon on the way out, because it was brunette spiked with frosted tips. She resembled no one to me and my first words, "I don't know how you did it under my nose, but that is NOT my baby, you switched my baby, where is MY baby"? (see previous post). These words already indicate, what is to be a very energy sucking, gut wrenching, challenging year.

As one can see already, there is nothing ordinary about Ro. And the whole first year of Ro's life was anything but ordinary, and requires a blog all unto itself, which I will share tomorrow. But I do not want to leave this blog with out emphasizing. I love my Ro. She has really grown so much these past few years. Any mother who has a challenging child just needs to find a little patience and don't be afraid to use appropriate discipline and an enormous amount of love. I never hit my children. I have spent enormous energy and time talking to Ro and teaching her to strengthen her positive attributes. She has a beautiful smile and I tell her I love to see it. She is now my SOMETIMES cranky, please and thank you, compliment disher, self entertaining, cunningly bright, wheels always turning, all in a small package, bundle of love.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Introducing So

So after my rant about my questionable occupation, it is obvious that my life is most occupied by a husband and three kids who I mentioned briefly. I could probably devote blog after blog rehashing our entire lives for the past eight, nine years, but even I don't want to relive every moment. However, I should probably share a brief description of each of my kids and my husband as well, so you will understand how each one slowly and methodically sucks the life out of me in their own unique way.

I will start with my first born, the daughter I always knew I needed to have. So is six years old going on twenty - two. She is pretty precocious for her age and has a very noticeable "old soul" about her (which might explain all her questions about her past lives, we'll get back to that later). She is actually one of the younger ones in her peer group, as she was born in September, however, her height and maturity cause many to have high expectations of her. When she was two, and still in diapers, a few kindly women expressed their concern for her lack of bladder control. When I asked them how old they thought she might be, they all thought she was four. I guess I can't blame them, So was having an extensive conversation with them about the cause and effect ratio between global warming and the radiating heat on the slides in the playground. But, do not take my word for it. When So was three she went to a birthday party for a girl who was in the same class as her in the local community center. The birthday took place in August, and So had not seen many of the friends attending since June. The Grandmother of the birthday girl is a known child psychologist and attended the birthday as well. When I went to pick So up from the party, the Grandma stopped me and said, "So is a very extraordinary child".
Me: (heart palpitations, knowing she is a child psychologist) "Why do you say that"?
Grandma: "She speaks with such maturity".
Me: "Oh, what did she say"?
Grandma "Well, she came in and said , Oh, girl A, I haven't seen you in such a long time, how have you been"? and when it was time for cake and ice cream she said, "I have had a filling breakfast, so I will just have a small piece of cake, please".
She is only three years old, can't she just ignore all the other three year olds like they do each other? Can't she just say "Gimmee gimmee, I want cake" like the rest of them?

Well I knew this was to be expected. Let me explain...

I am by no means a psychic, but I would say I have great intuition about people and other things and I am pretty good about following my gut and going with my first instinct. This little known fact about me (which makes great party conversation by the way) is even more heightened when I am pregnant. I am three for three when it comes to guessing my fetus in utero's gender. Okay, this does not seem like an earth shattering feat. But, I am also three for three when it comes to describing my fetus in utero's personality. This may include things such as, their temperament, learning abilities, likes and dislikes, disposition, talents, etc... Interesting though, I can only make these predictions when I begin to feel the baby moving. The way the fetus moves helps contribute to my gut instinct about what is in store for us. These predictions are then shared only with my husband.

In the case of So, I predicted she would not be too demanding as a baby, but she would not be a perfect little marshmallow either. She would be a child who would need constant entertainment and human interaction. She feeds on it and can not occupy herself for more than fifteen minutes. She would be ambitious and constantly strive for perfection even though no one is putting this sort of pressure on her. She would be verbal and an avid reader (we call her motor mouth). She would be extremely outgoing and social. She is an absolute extrovert who can not keep a secret and shares everything. And although she hears everything, she can also be oblivious to something happening right under her nose.

Of course making these predictions took a few years to validate. Most of these predictions were validated by the time I was pregnant with my second (Ro's predictions to come in a future blog) so of course my husband was curious about my feelings towards my second pregnancy. You might think, how different could it possibly be, oh you have no idea. When I was pregnant with Ate, my husband said, "You got the other two so right, very specifically right, so tell me about this one". Well Ate is two now and I am definitely three for three.

Well back to So, she was born September 18 2002 in Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. She was 9 lbs. 6 oz. and 21 and 1/4 inches long - BIG!!! And this was already causing big problems. She got that big because I was almost 2 weeks overdue. Because my Doctor did not want me to have such a big baby (too late) and also probably because it was 2 days before Succos (Doc M. is traditional Jew, he studies Talmud and knows all the right Rabbis to go to for answers to pregnancy questions requiring insight into Jewish law) I was induced. During my 24 hours of labor this incredible Doctor, Doc M. was in hospital the entire time and checking up on me personally. Did I mention he is Israeli and was a sharp shooter in the Israeli army and also pioneered advances in fertility medicine in Israel. Well he did, mentioned it many times. Well this went over very well with my Israeli husband. When I was NPO (nothing by mouth for you non-nurses ) my husband ordered two complete dinners from Galiel, a great Israeli restaurant in Manhattan, and he and Doc M. had a great time chatting in their fluent Hebrew while eating amazing smelling chicken Tarjin, while I suffered in the corner by myself through contraction after contraction (just call in the damn candy man and shoot me up with something sweet). Anyway I really did like Doctor M., Lenox Hill - not so much.

I wanted So to room in with me, which you can only do if you have a private room. Well LH only has a few private rooms and even if you want one, insurance won't cover private rooms so long as there are shared rooms available. I hate insurance (I will repeat this sentiment in many upcoming blogs). I could not imagine sharing a room and trying to recover from delivering a watermelon while rooming with Mrs. Golostopus, while her 42 Greek family members are breaking plates and yelling "Opa". And this in a room the size of two minivans. I said to Hun, "Hun, We will pay 300.00 a night, just look at it as a vacation at a pricey hotel"(right). Hun did not argue the point, smart decision. Only problem was, there was only a slight possibility that a private room would become available. While I prayed that Mrs. A did decide to check out a little early, I was informed that my beautiful brand new baby girl would require around the clock heel sticks to check her blood sugar as she was a large baby. This would mean So could not room in with me and would require staying in the newborn nursery. (Did I mention when I was employed as a nurse, I worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?)

First of all, my baby is large because that is how we do it in my family. We don't do things small in the S. family. Second, she is almost 2 weeks overdue, probably gaining a pound per each overdue week. She does not need her heel stuck and she will not be staying in the newborn nursery, partly because I know if she is out of my sight for a nanosecond she will be switched with some other woman's baby and I will only find out about this 15 years later. Okay, that may seem like a fear unfounded, but you will see later (when I write Ro's blog) it does not go away. (At least I didn't put the hot pink nail polish on her nails for identifying purposes). As my husband, mortified, watched me argue with the nurse about the importance of So staying with me and that I knew what signs to look for in case of hypoglycemia, another nurse informed us that a private room became available. WE WANT IT!!!!

In the end, we took the private room, So roomed in the whole time, except the 4 times in the first six hours of life she was wheeled to the nursery for her heel stick (of course Hun accompanied her every time and assured me I got the right baby back with each return). At least she did not have to stay in the nursery. In the meantime I was developing some weird ultra itchy rash everywhere on my body, except my face, thankfully, which Doc M. determined was the Fifth Disease (because it certainly wasn't diseases one through four). After calling in a dermatology specialist, I learned about PUPS. A rash only a few women develop before delivery which goes away upon delivery. Well if it's rare, Orah gets it, that's the rule. And it not only did not go away upon delivery, it got worse for up to 2 weeks postpartum. Worse itch ever, made for a great Succos.

Well that's So, predetermined and determined, and she continues to determine... everything about my life that is not determined by Hun and the other two kids. She is my bright, precocious, socially ambitious, affirmation needy, loud, extroverted, somewhat oblivious, bundle of love.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I always love seeing that empty box on forms and applications, the one that follows the extremely vague rhetoric written as a one word question, "occupation". First of all, is that a question and second, what exactly is it asking? Does it depend what kind of form or application it is? For instance, if it's a job application, should my response after "occupation" be - want one please, or maybe my response should be, if I had one, wouldn't be filling out this damn application. What if I was filling out a form for unemployment? Ahhh, you ask yourself, there is a reference to occupation on an unemployment form? Yes there is, although, I never filled out an unemployment form, I happen to know there is. I do not need to apply for unemployment, because I am indefinitely employed. My occupation however, is not a simple manner.

I would call myself "self-employed" although my 3 little ones, So - 6 years old, Ro - 4 years old and Ate - 2 years old and one big one I call Hun, beg to differ, claiming they employ me. Either way, I am CEO of this operation, and boy , am I occupied.

By degree I tell people I am a nurse (true, licensed in three states at one point). However, does any mother need to spend upwards of 60,000 dollars to attend nursing school, so they can apply ice, band-aids and plenty of boo boo kisses. In the end , degree or no degree, we all rush our kids to the ER when we have exhausted every available option to stop profuse bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, runny noses, climbing temperature... you get the point. So it seems, if every mother practices nursing, I too practice every other occupation.

So if I am to answer that "question" of occupation, there needs to be plenty of space for my answer. I will not bore you with the old familiar, "housewife" or "stay at home mom" (what is that anyway, carpool, groceries, clothes, extracurricular activities...when am I ever home). It would be something more like this - production, executor, director, services, human resources, chef, maintenance, teacher, plumber (that can be related to household plumbing or human plumbing) inventory, secretary, bank, personal shopper, chauffeur, cleaning services, launderer, salon, tailor, referee, cheerleader, interior decorator, actor, musician, singer, artist (whatever it takes to entertain) oh and a clairvoyant (that one is for my six year old who wants to know about her future life and death, and any possible past lives). I am sure I am forgetting plenty, but any mother who might be reading this can certainly fill in the rest.

This all reminds me of an old joke. A woman was filling out forms as a new patient at her Doctor's office. When she got to the question of sex, she passed over the options of male or female and instead wrote - "occasionally".

Here is to all the mothers and wives around the world. There can never be one degree for all we do.