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A year ago today was the absolute worst day of my life.

accident1

It started out well. My husband had to go to an early conference session, but Eli and I had a nice breakfast in our hotel, we were packing so we could go home, but first we were going to swing by an amusement park nearby since we had only gotten to spend a half day there earlier in the week (and our tickets were still valid) and we just knew Eli would love it. And then it happened. In the blink of an eye, my 10 month old fell head first off the bed and hit the very hard flooring of our hotel room. He screamed a scream I can never unhear. I laid him on the bed and when I picked him up, his head lagged behind and bobbed. He wouldn’t open his eyes. He wasn’t okay.

accident 2

The next four days included 3 ER visits, 2 admission processes, and 3 nights in the hospital. It included 2 CT scans that showed blood on Eli’s brain. It included frank conversations with neurosurgeons who told us that there was no way to know if our child was going to be okay or if he’d have long term issues. It included IVs, vomit, and more fear than I can ever describe.

accident 3

And now it’s been a year.

My son is now a hilarious, busy, incredibly profoundly normal toddler. If you looked at him for any duration of time, you’d never know that he had a brain injury last year. And I could not be more thankful for that.

If you looked at me for any measure of time, you might not know how profoundly damaged I was either. A year and a day ago, I had a level of parenting innocence I cannot ever get back. I obviously knew that there were risks, but I had never faced the reality of those risks. I had severe anxiety about something happening to my child but even with that fear, I had never truly faced the consequences of something happening. My introduction to the reality that my child was fragile wasn’t a skinned knee or a busted lip. It was a bleeding brain. And it devastated me on every level.

I had months where I didn’t sleep because all night long I tried to rescue my child from situations that would harm him. I had months where I didn’t smile, where I functioned at the bare minimum, working just as much as I had to, parenting just as much as I had to. I had months where I never thought things would ever be good again, even though I could see this incredible person in front of me who despite what happened was fine. I was not fine.

A full year has passed and much has changed. I have a level of awareness that in some ways I’m grateful for. I have a level of appreciation for modern medicine that I cannot possibly convey in words. And more than anything else, I am happy again. My marriage is better than it has ever been. I am more appreciative of the things I have in my life because I am truly, immeasurably fortunate.

I will not pretend that Eli’s injury a year ago is something I am thankful for, because I am not and if I could go back and undo it, I would, a million times over. But I have worked hard to make it mean something for my life, for my child’s life, for our family. I have worked hard to use it as a way to be a better parent, not in the helicopter overprotective sense, but in the awareness of reality sense, in the being grateful for my family sense. I have worked hard to be a better parent, a better wife and a better person this year.

And a year later, I am happy. I am truly, genuinely happy. A year ago I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to feel that way again. 6 months ago, I doubted that I’d ever feel this way again. It has taken hours of therapy, a medication I never wanted to take and time. And here we are.

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I am not the mother I was a year ago, and I will never be her again. But I’ve stopped mourning that reality, because I realized that now, a year later, I’m better than I was last March. I’m now the parent I wanted to be, not the one who was so held back by the fear of something happening that I couldn’t give my child space to explore. I’m not the parent who was so afraid of tragedy that I couldn’t fully attach to my son and be present with him each day. I am not that mother anymore. I am attached. I am present. And I am truly, in my bones, to my core, happy. And I am grateful for every single day that I get to be this way. For every single moment with my family. I know what is truly at stake in this life and while this year has been indescribably difficult, I’m so glad for all I have learned and for all that I have.

now2

Snips and Snails…

This morning we had our genetics consult followed by the big anatomical survey ultrasound. Everything is measuring beautifully, the baby looks perfect (and adorable).

baby!

And, much to our great surprise, it’s a boy! I literally could not be any happier if I had to be. Also, I might be the very worst at predicting the sex of my own children.

What a Difference 22 Months Make!

I can’t believe my little dude is going to be 2 in less than 2 months. Probably we’ll stop with the monthly posts after that, but we may keep taking the pictures at least for ourselves at that point. He was super tired tonight, so there were tears followed by giggles, followed by tears. And when we asked if he would take his hand out of his mouth he replied with a stern no, so, there you go. Also, I don’t know why no one combs this poor child’s hair. Oh wait.

1 day old!
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1 month and 1 day old!
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6 months and 1 day old!
lion 6mo

1 year and 1 day old!
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1 year, 1 month and 1 day old
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1 year, 2 months and 1 day old!
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1 year, 3 months and 1 day old!
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1 year, 4 months and 1 day old!
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1 year, 5 months and 1 day old!
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1 year, 6 months and 1 day old!
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1 year, 7 months and 1 day old!
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1 year, 8 months and 1 day old!
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1 year, 9 months and 1 day old!
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1 Year, 10 months and 1 day old!
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(For the full list of pictures from the first year, see here)

Elijah: Month 22

Eli-

Today you are 22 months old! I have said many times that the past month was my favorite, or one particular age was my favorite, but I’d like to rescind that and say that this past month was the best. For a whole bunch of reasons, the biggest of which is that you are just the most fun little person on the earth and I have smiled more this month than possibly ever in my life.

soccer

You are suddenly this crazy verbal toddler, now combining 2 and 3 words together with ease. It catches me off guard every time you do it, but it’s also so cool and so cute that I want you to talk all day long. Last night you said, unprompted, “bye bye my daddy” and we all died on the spot. Tonight at dinner there was a tank of lobsters and no matter how much we suggested otherwise, you were completely certain that they were monsters. I hope you never learn that they’re not.

monster

This month you’ve also been working hard on jumping, which I have to say is fairly hilarious. You can, very occasionally, get both feet off the ground at the same time, but mostly you do very excited galloping. You tried jumping off a low step at music class last week with hilariously poor results. You never fell, but let’s just say that it seems you inherited your grace from me. Your motor planning skills are pretty fantastic though.

You have been a little more into TV than we like lately, but mostly because you are 100% completely and totally obsessed with cars, trucks and planes. You could watch the movie Cars 800000 (more) times, and you would still excitedly scream “MAYER!” (Mater) every time. Ditto with “Air-pane!” and the movie Planes. We put on Bolt (a movie about a dog) and I thought you might have gone straight to heaven with your nearly uncontainable excitement over a movie all about a dog. I can’t wait to blow your mind with Horton Hears a Who since you think Elephants are the greatest things next to cars, trucks, planes and dogs. You are a simple creature and I love that about you.

trucks

You’ve also developed a really wonderfully improved sense of patience this month. You say please (“pease”) unprompted and mostly calmly, and if we tell you to hold on a second you will respond with a content “otay” or “awwight” and actually wait. There are a few exceptions, but this is a huge change and it is the coolest thing. You are suddenly just so grown.

addie

Your likes this month include: ketchup, mama (you are SUPER into me right now, I am a huge fan), daddy, the grandparents (every one of them), “An Cware, Un Stot and Addie” (Aunt Claire, Uncle Scott and Addie), dogs, trucks, cars, planes, trains, Mickey Mouse (“mouse!”), Elmo, french fries (ugh), coloring, ice cream and hugs.

icecream

Your dislikes this month include: not being allowed to take your trucks to daycare, diaper changes, diaper rashes, coming inside after playing outside, sitting on mom or dad’s laps and help when you did not specifically request it.

21mo2

While you have been so very fun this month, it’s also become apparent how sensitive you are, and I’m trying hard to nurture that and not let people try to take it away from you. You are easily frightened by loud, unfamiliar noises, and you don’t necessarily want to try things right away. I think that it’s okay to be cautious and concerned, as long as it doesn’t hold you back from trying things, and so I will cuddle you for as long as you need. Sensitivity is all too often looked down upon and I don’t want you to ever feel ashamed or embarrassed because you’re a sensitive kid. It will make you an incredible older brother, friend, husband and father some day.

snuggles

We put away the bottles for good this month, which felt very much like officially finishing the chapter of your babyhood. You took to the new cups easily (they’re only about a half of a quarter of a step up from a bottle, but whatever) and I’m just glad you still want to sit on my lap to drink your milk. Those are my favorite times of day- when you lay on me and I can just soak you in. When I can take a second to really see you, and smell your sweet scent and just absorb you before you’re up and running around again. I am going to be dreadfully sad when you no longer want to sit on my lap to have milk and so I treasure each day it happens.

mom

mom2\

I realize that the months ahead are completely filled with change, but please know that one thing cannot and will not ever change. I love you so deeply that you will never understand, until perhaps you have a child of your own. Nothing you can do will ever change that and each day that love only grows deeper and stronger. I am so proud of the person you’re becoming and so humbled that I get to spend each day with you.

happy

Happy 22 months Elijah. We love you so very much and cannot wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

Baby Sex Predictions!

Our big anatomy ultrasound is in a week, which both feels like it has snuck up and also like it’s still a million years away. And I can honestly say, while I am so very excited to know, I absolutely could not care less about the sex of the baby. Truly. But I want to know noooooow.

When I was pregnant with Eli, I thought I wanted a girl. Not because I didn’t want a boy, but because I had grown up with girls. I had a sister, a half sister and 3 step sisters. My female cousins outnumbered the male ones 3:1. I just didn’t feel equipped to have a boy since I never really knew any young boys. And yet, now I find myself the very happy mother of one. And it’s funny because I kind of quickly adopted the boy mom mentality, and now I find it challenging to picture having a daughter. Again, not because I don’t want one, just because now, ironically, I don’t feel equipped to have one.

But, since day one of this pregnancy, I’ve felt strongly that this baby is a girl. I know every pregnancy is different, but the levels upon which this pregnancy differs from Eli’s only serves to convince me of that more and more. And so I thought it might be fun to do some of the old wives tales to predict the sex just to see how right/wrong they are.

I’ll start with the Chinese Gender Chart (which yes, should be sex not gender. But I didn’t make it, so I am not responsible for the name). Based on my due date and birth date the baby should be a boy. It correctly predicted that Eli was a boy.

Mayan prediction- the myth is that Mayans predicted gender by looking at the mother’s age at conception and the year of conception. If both are odd or even, it’s a girl. If they’re different, it’s a boy. I was 30 when I conceived this baby and the year was 2013, so boy. Just for fun, I was 28 when I conceived Eli and I got pregnant with him 2011, so he would also be predicted to be a boy.

Carrying height- the old wives tale is that if you’re carrying low, it’s a boy. If you’re carrying high, it’s a girl. I’m definitely carrying higher than I did with Eli, but still relatively low. I think this one is kind of a wash, but since it’s higher than I was carrying with Eli, I’ll put it under girl.

This is me with Eli at 18 weeks:
18 weeks

This is me now, at 17 weeks, 2 days (and let’s be real, I’m about 10-15 pounds heavier now than I was then, but a few months ago, my stomach was SIGNIFICANTLY less protrude-y than my boobs. Also, OMG I miss my body.):
photo-7

Heart rate- Eli’s heart rate was consistently in the 160s throughout my pregnancy. This baby started in the 160s and has dropped to the 140s. If we’re going by same v. different, I’d predict girl, but per the old wives tale, it means a boy. So.

Cravings- the myth goes- sweet cravings are a boy, sour means girl. With Eli this was pretty true. I did have some sour cravings, but I also ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast every single day for almost 3 months, so I’d say sweet was more prevalent. This time, my sweet tooth has been super mild, in fact, I’ve not wanted to eat sweets a lot of the time. I’ve craved sour and other strong flavors- this week mostly goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. So I think this one goes to the girl category.

Morning sickness- the tale says that more morning sickness means a girl. In which case, I’d like to say that this is the girliest girl there has ever been. Because at 17 weeks, I’m still dry heaving every morning. It’s pure misery.

Skin- the myth is that if you’re breaking out, it’s a girl (because she’s “stealing your beauty”) and if you’re not, it’s a boy. I’m not glowing (unless you count the excessive sweating all damn day), but my face is totally clear. So again, boy. And my skin was similarly clear with Eli (to be fair, and so not to brag because I take absolute shit care of my skin, I have always had relatively clear skin and this is largely due to wonderful and entirely fortunate genetics. Please don’t hate me.)

The ring test- Tie a ring on a string and hold it above your belly. The tale says if it swings in a line it’s a boy, if it swings in a circle it’s a girl. I’m putting absolutely no stock in this test because it sounds completely ridiculous (because all the others make so much sense, I know), but also, I did it with my 8 dollar Target ring (my wedding ring does not fit right now) and on a necklace chain instead of a string. For what it’s worth, it swung in a line, so, boy.

Family predictions are overwhelmingly girl, with the sole exception of my dad who says boy. My grandfather, who predicted that Eli was a boy from the very start also says girl, with great confidence.

The final tally is, girl 4, boy 5. Interesting. The same tests would’ve favored boy 7 to 1 with Eli (didn’t do the scientific ring test with Eli, tragically), so it’s definitely interesting.

Regardless of the outcome, I’m so ready to know. Guesses?

A Wild Hair

A little over a week ago, I was talking to my sister on the phone on the way to work (hands free, no kid in the car), as we often do on the days we’re both commuting. We were discussing how annoying it is to spend 45 minutes to get ready and look presentable and how we both wish we could cut down that time. And I started to consider getting a haircut. A major, major haircut.

I spent my downtime that morning looking at various short haircuts and trying to decide just how drastic I wanted to go. By the end of that day I had made up my mind. I wanted it short. Like really, really, really short.

And so the next day I went and got a haircut. When I told the hairdresser what I wanted and showed her pictures she gave an involuntary “whoa” and then told me that while it was a pretty significant change that she felt I could pull it off. And as I’ve been told about a hundred times in the last week, apparently that is not true for everyone (which I’m not entirely sure I buy. But I’ve never been a great judge of style, so).

And 45 minutes later my hair went from this:

to this:

Neither of those pictures are from that actual day because I forgot to take a before picture and I didn’t like the way it was styled initially and needed a few days (okay, a week) to figure out the ways I could do it and liked it, but now that I’ve gotten to that point, I’m mostly happy. I can sometimes get away with second day hair, but only when I don’t care who sees me, because it’s definitely not the best. But I can go from wet hair to completely finished in 7 minutes flat, so honestly, it’s really not much of an inconvenience to have to do it every morning.

Eli has adjusted well, which was one of my worries since this was a huge change. When I walked in after the hair cut, he looked at me kind of strangely, walked over to me, touched my hair, drove a car through it and was fine. He does like to touch it, but he always loved to touch my hair when I wore it down before, so that’s no big surprise.

The response has been mostly positive. A kid at Eli’s daycare walked up to me and said, “you cut your hair” and when I replied affirmatively, she looked at me and said, “why?” It was pretty great. I also had a 4 year patient get super excited that I cut my hair just like theirs, which would be entirely adorable except that patient is a 4 year old boy. So, win some lose some.

I’m relatively happy with it overall, but as of now, I’m undecided if I’m going to continue to cut it this length or do the very, very gradual grow out. It hasn’t even been 2 weeks yet, so I have some time to make that decision. It may have been a rash pregnancy decision, but aside from a few hours of regret here and there, it doesn’t yet seem to be a bad one. Hair always grows back and sometimes, so I hear, change can be good.

The Intruder

Last week, for my husband’s birthday, I sent my him to New York to see the opening night of his brother’s off Broadway show (Kung Fu, for those interested). He was gone for what felt like an eternity (6 days!) and finally came home on Tuesday. It wasn’t until that day that I realized that for the first time since we had Eli, I had actually slept well without my husband. I credit this to a lot of things, therapy, PTSD medication and Unisom, but whatever the reason, I was feeling really proud of myself.

Then Thursday night, I drove down to San Diego for a mini blog conference Friday morning, which I will definitely share more about soon. I hadn’t planned to stay the night, but the combination of horrible weather, persistent morning sickness and an 8am conference call made driving down that morning not the safest option. And again, I slept alone and I slept fairly well. I never sleep as well at hotels as I do at home, but it was one of the better experiences I’ve had this past year.

And then Friday night happened.

It was around 7:30 on Friday night. My husband was upstairs giving Eli a bath and I was sitting on the couch reading an article on my computer. Our sliding glass door was closed, but the blinds are open, as they often are were. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something in the sliding glass door and I heard a tapping, but we’d had such crazy wind and rain all day, I didn’t even look up.

And then it happened again, except this time the tapping was louder and I could see there was clearly something there. I stood up and gasped. We have a patio in front of our apartment with a 5 foot tall wall around it. On that wall was a man, my guess is a teenager, in a black sweatshirt and black ski mask, squatting and tapping on the glass. When he saw that I saw him, he made a strange noise (bird like? I don’t know how to describe it) and tapped again.

Without flinching or screaming or even moving quickly, I walked up the stairs to my husband and told him that there was a man on our patio wall in a ski mask, tapping on the glass, and what was I supposed to do? He looked at me like I was insane and told me to call 911 because apparently that’s what someone not silently freaking out would do? And then we realized both phones were downstairs, so I had to go back down the stairs, where I did not look to see if the ski mask man was outside and called 911.

From there we met with a deputy (sheriff, I guess?) and a helicopter was sent out. Since no crime was officially committed, besides scaring the ever living crap out of me, they told us they wouldn’t be following up with us, but the helicopter had spotted 2 people who potentially fit the description and they’d follow them and see if there was anything worth doing. And then they left. And that was the last I heard about it. For all I know the guy is my next door neighbor and the police has no idea.

This person never entered my home, but I cannot shake the violated feeling that I have about what he did. I can only imagine that his whole intention was to scare me, which he managed, but he also really, really pissed me off. I no longer feel safe in my home. This person was able to climb up on my patio wall, unnoticed (even though there are 5 surrounding apartments), tap on my window and walk away unseen at 7:30 at night. How much more difficult would it have been for him to jump the wall and break into our apartment? To make matters worse my husband said that while I was gone Thursday night, someone walked up to our porch very late (like midnight) lingered for a second, and walked away, so it’s possible that this wasn’t an isolated event.

I worked really hard to not let anxiety keep me up at night or rule my thoughts and this person has undone so much of that. I feel like though he never entered my home, he’s intruded violently in my mind, and I’m so angry that I let him. I’m mad that he got what he wanted and that now I’m scared to be alone at home with my child. I’m mad that I’m absolutely terrified of sleeping here without my husband and that he has several planned conferences that will force me to face that few in the next few months. We are fine, our stuff is fine, but my sense of security is damaged. I know it will recover, I have all the tools to manage this, but I just shouldn’t have to.

And I’m really, really mad about it.

What Does the Toddler Say?

I was going to write a post today about people being stupid about politics because it’s been a while since I’ve offered a liberally skewed rant and really you can never have too many of those, but then this great thing happened. And so I’m going to share this video of my son because it is far more entertaining than any rant I have to offer.

When I decided to take the video, I just thought it would be cute to record the way he pronounces different animal sounds because they’re constantly evolving and I love them so much. And then on a whim, I asked him the last question and basically I haven’t stopped laughing since.

To be clear, I did not teach him this, nor did I encourage it, but it’s pretty much the best thing ever and I’ve bookmarked this video for all eternity.

(It’s a little dark, turn up your speakers, and maybe hide your kid and your wife)

The Second Time Around

Depending upon how you count it, I either made it to the second trimester 2 weeks ago (developmental timing?), last week (normal math) or this week (weird math). I don’t really care how you count, I am just glad to be moving to this next phase and running away from the last one.

I can’t even begin to explain how different this pregnancy has been. I don’t want to categorize it as bad, because I know that in the global scheme of pregnancies, it’s not bad. I haven’t had to have IV fluid, I haven’t needed a trip to the doctor besides my normal check ups, no bleeding or scary complications, several normal wonderful ultrasounds. I mean, this is not bad. It’s just so different. And I think what I’ve realized is that it has felt very difficult to me because I was not prepared.

With Eli I was vaguely nauseous a few times in the first trimester, had contractions through the entire third trimester, was homicidal the week before he was born and had a relatively easy labor and delivery. And that was it. It was easy. The contractions were obnoxious, but once we realized they weren’t doing anything, they were just an inconvenience. No real nausea, no real fatigue, not one single headache. I thought I was born to be pregnant.

I was mistaken.

This time around, I have struggled each day for the past almost 9 weeks with nausea. The first 6 weeks of it were brutal, to me. Partially because I wasn’t prepared and partially because I do not handle nausea well at all. I mean, AT ALL. So dry heaving all over my living room, throwing up whole Zofran or stomach bile all over the parking lot, not being able to even take a bite of dinner or watch my child eat a meal was rough. Again, not horrible or dehydrating or scary. Just really, really unpleasant. It is finally letting up a lot and I could not be more grateful. I’m still queasy in the mornings and need to move slowly, but the evenings are good more often than not, and the afternoons are easy. I still haven’t gained an ounce, but I’m not listing that as a negative at all. I have 20 Eli pounds to help cushion this baby, I can stand to not gain a ton.

And then there’s the headaches. Before I got pregnant with Eli, I had nearly constant headaches. They were awful and I spared no detail in whining about them (sorry I’m not really sorry). And then I got pregnant and they just stopped. I mean, completely altogether stopped. My neurologist could only guess that the increased blood volume improved my pressures and that was why, but regardless of the reason, it was amazing. And I told my husband I was just going to get pregnant over and over if they came back. And thankfully they didn’t ever get back to their prior awfulness, but I had some here or there, mostly related to hormones.

And then there’s this pregnancy. Holy hell. I have had almost constant headaches for the past 2-3 weeks. It seems to be primarily the pressure from dry heaving that triggers them, along with the stress on my neck (they’re really cervicogenic more than anything), but dude, they’re awful. I finally resorted to a category C migraine medication on Friday because I was on day 3 of what started as a pressure thing and ended up as a migraine and I was ready to lay down on the freeway and let cars run over me. It worked and has been a little better since, but I’m pretty sure that this baby is made primarily of Zofran and Tylenol.

I’m also visibly pregnant already. My uterus has some kickass muscle memory.

It’s just so very different this time, and I was not prepared for any of it. I am thrilled to be having this baby, and finally starting to feel like I’m slightly in control of my life again, but it’s been really surprising the whole way through. I started having painless contractions this week, but for now I’m just trying to ignore them and take it easy. My hope is that this sort of rough first trimester will pave the way for an easy 2nd and 3rd. That seems likely, right?

Either way, I know that in the end it’s worth it and that I really just need to adjust my expectations. I need to not expect the remaining 25 weeks to be a repeat of Eli’s gestation because that’s not the case, and the sooner I get that fact in my head, the better for everyone. I do have to say that I hope the outcome is the same though, because I have the best little kid ever, and I’ll take 40 weeks of nausea and fatigue and headaches if I’m lucky enough to get another wonderful little person like Eli in my life. He’s beyond worth it and I’m sure this one will be too.

What a Difference 21 Months Make!

This was one of those months where we only remembered to take the picture like 10 seconds before putting Eli to bed. The whole event devolved into tears pretty quickly and it looks a bit like a drunk monkey combed his hair.

1 day old!
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1 month and 1 day old!
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6 months and 1 day old!
lion 6mo

1 year and 1 day old!
lion12mo

1 year, 1 month and 1 day old
lion13mo2

1 year, 2 months and 1 day old!
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1 year, 3 months and 1 day old!
lion 15mo5

1 year, 4 months and 1 day old!
16mo5

1 year, 5 months and 1 day old!
17mo5

1 year, 6 months and 1 day old!
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1 year, 7 months and 1 day old!
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1 year, 8 months and 1 day old!

1 year, 9 months and 1 day old!

(For the full list of pictures from the first year, see here)

Welcome!
I'm Katie, a 30-year-old, wife, mom, former teacher-turned PT, who also had brain surgery in November of 2007. This blog chronicles my daily life, from mundane to crazy, often with far too much detail. Sit down, get comfortable and stay for a while.
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