Sunday, April 25, 2010

Finally...a birth announcement!

Henry Robert was born Friday, April 23, at 9:34pm, 10 pounds, 10 ounces, 22 1/2 inches long...he's doing wonderfully and nursing well, especially since my milk started coming in today. :) Birth story to follow in a day or two....

"Although man and woman are equal in nature, it’s not exactly each giving a gift to the other. It’s a bit more complex than that. The man is made by God to want to give himself to someone like him (bone of my bones), and the woman is made by God, completing His creation, to be the person who receives the gift."

"When she receives the gift, and precisely by means of her receptivity, she is able to give the gift in return: the child, the embodiment of the love of the two, united in one flesh."

"We often think of “two becoming one flesh” as meaning the physical union of the two in the act of love, but it has this other dimension, also physical but more than physical"

"the expression of the love of the gift and the reception of the gift in the form of another human being"

"another flesh of my flesh"

"another image of God"

"the new person who also has a soul and a desire to give the gift of himself."

Beautifully said quotes from the lovely Leila.

Monday, April 19, 2010

a "no, I haven't had this baby yet" daybook

Outside my window...cloudy and cool, the cardinals are at the feeders.

I am hearing...the cardinals! They woke me up this morning. It's a nice way to wake up an alarm clock.

I am thinking...that my coffee mug needs a refill. How's that for deep thoughts?

I am thankful husband,,,he's home, and upstairs sleeping, which will help keep the littles up there for a while.

I am wearing...a pair of sweatpants and a tshirt.

We are currently reading...I'm reading some old Robin Cook novel that my parents gave me. We trade finished fiction back and forth before passing it on to the thrift stores. I'm finding paperback fiction a painless way to pass the time.

I am praying...that today will be this baby's birthday!

Latest on the babies...I'm still pregnant. That's all the latest that matters. My due date has come and gone, I'm over a week late, or just about a week late, depending on which due date you want to go with. I have periods of regular, strong contractions pretty much every day and have for several days now. But they aren't "taking", and we are still waiting. It is most frustrating.

In other kid news...Jack is so funny. He will say things oddly a lot of the time...most kids do, of course, but Jack's funny little sayings happen practically hourly because he has trouble expressing himself to begin with, especially abstract things like when he's upset or angry. He will usually use scripted speech at these times, some phrase he's picked up from one of us or from a tv show. But every so often he just expresses himself, in his own words, very well, and it's so cute to hear. Yesterday Maria was making him get off his computer game and he was *not happy* about that. He told her, "Stop treating me that way Maria! Take your annoying away!"

From the kitchen...labor, and post-labor foods, waiting to be packed up. Cheese and crackers, nuts, fruit, juice, soups...

Around the house...keeping up with laundry, and that's about it. John cleaned the kitchen yesterday, isn't that sweet? Boy, it needed it.

In the learning room...I made Kain pick up in there yesterday as a consequence for a behavior issue. You can always tell when we are having a hard time with Kain...the house and yard are much neater.

In the garden- A huge pile of sticks and branches, gathered by Kain, as a consequence for another behavior issue. :) Oh, and our dogwoods are blooming! They are getting so big! We got them as a couple of twigs from the Arbor Day foundation three springs ago. Last year was the first time they bloomed, but barely. Maria's had a couple of flowers, and I don't think Kain's had any. This year they both have several. My only issue is that I ordered a pink and red one. Our house is white, and I wanted some color in the front yard. Well, they are both blooming with white flowers! Ah well...

Plans for the rest of the Yeah. Yeah, I think I'd like to have a baby. Today, please.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jack, an update

I wanted to give an update of where we are with Jack and his treatment. First of all, I've finished The Autism Book by Dr. Sears, and I strongly do recommend it, especially if you are new to the autism game. There is *so* much information out there on treatments and therapies, both mainstream and alternative, and it is really overwhelming to even know what to try and how to get started. The thing I like most about this book is that he gives a step-by-step approach for how to tackle autism and what interventions hold the most promise and how exactly to get each started...very specific advice, which I appreciate!

So, Jack has started OT...just barely. He actually just had his third session yesterday. He likes going, which makes it that much easier...but I'm not surprised about that. Kain always loved going to therapy. An occupational therapist will work on life skills with him...everything from dressing and eating and other self-care routines to helping his motor skill delays. She will also help us with his sensory integration issues. Autistic kids have difficulty dealing with stimulation, difficulty filtering what is going on around them, and this can lead to many of their odd little behaviors...everything from hand-flapping to picky eating. One of the first skills they are working on is handwashing. I know that sounds simple, but no, Jack can't wash his hands independently. Now, Jack can do a *lot* independently, don't get me wrong. But life to nothing. These kids don't have the social skills to be motivated to imitate mom/dad/siblings and learn how to do things like this on their own. Like for Tess, she already is very interested in everything we do and imitates me all the time. Maria's mantra as a preschooler was "I do it mineself!" Jack has never been like that. He can unlock any door, climb into any cabinet, work every button on every appliance and electronic equipment in the house, beat me at any Wii game, and play songs on the piano, but he has no interest in learning how to dress himself or brush his own teeth or put on his shoes. So, they are starting with hand-washing. She has made a chart for him with all the steps involved in washing his hands, and he's practicing with her, and in a session or two she will be sending this home with us to continue working with him at home. It seems so odd to have to work so hard to learn something so simple, doesn't it? But that's where he is.

He hasn't started speech yet. We had to wait for our copy of the reports from the Children's Hospital first, and get a referral from his PCP. Those are all in,,,I'm waiting to get the phone call saying he's scheduled. If I wasn't going to have a baby any day now, I would have called to nag somebody by now, but since we are sitting in baby limbo I can't see a reason to push to get it started right this instant, you know? I'll call and bug someone once the baby is born though.

As far as the alternative treatments to try...the most promising intervention looks to be the casein free/gluten free diet. We are going to take him off casein first, as recommended in the book...first, because it's much easier to go casein free, and second, the effects of going casein free, if you get any, are supposed to show more quickly and dramatically than going gluten free. I dreaded the changes. Jack is extremely picky and only lives on a handful of foods...all of which contain gluten and casein. He basically lives on milk, string cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, crackers, grapes, apples, and bananas. He'll eat some junkier things like pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and chocolate too. No vegetables. No meat, unless you consider hot dogs and chicken nuggets to be meat :). No juice even. Pushing him to try other foods makes him gag and sometimes even vomit. So, I needed to do this gradually. We started by finding a milk substitute, because he drinks a *lot* of milk, Soy milk is not recommended as a substitute because many kids develop a sensitivity to that as well. So, I bought some rice milk and started gradually substituting, starting with one part rice milk to 3 parts cow's milk. To my surprise, he really liked the rice milk after all, and now he is on all rice milk. I stopped buying the string cheese. And we've used up our old vitamins for him that contained casein, so I'll be ordering some new CF/GF ones this weekend. I would say that this has gotten rid of the vast majority of the casein he eats. That's about it for now, and about all I can handle until the baby comes. Once he arrives I will get serious about reading labels and weeding out the rest of the casein.

Is it helping? Oh, I'm not sure yet. It does seem to be, but I can't be sure yet that it's not a "seeing what I want to see" kind of thing. He's still autistic. :) None of these is really supposed to bring about a miracle cure. I would say the biggest change I've noticed is that he seems happier and more...present. Just more here on our planet, less withdrawn. He talks to us more, he shares more with me verbally, if still in his own quirky odd speech. He also seems to be sleeping better. Last week he even slept one night in his own bed all night long! So, we'll see. After we completely get rid of the casein for a few weeks, we will do a "challenge" of offering it again and see what happens.

So, that's where we are. Thanks for reading along. I'd really like to keep records of what we are doing this way to look back on someday.

Monday, April 12, 2010

an Easter season datebook

Outside my window...beautiful spring...a bit cloudy at the moment, but it's set to be a beautiful week, highs in the 70's.

I am hearing...not a thing except the occasional car drive by or bird chirp. Everyone is still asleep. Ahhhhh....

I am thinking...that I smell gasoline. And now I see dh's work gloves sitting on the computer desk. Hmmm...

I am thankful for...a good night's sleep. They are harder to come by the lately.

I am wearing...khaki pajama shorts, a pink tshirt

We are currently reading...Kain and I are *almost* finished with the Long Winter. Oh, this book makes me cry. The images of Pa, slowly starving over that winter, coming in from doing chores with chapped, cut hands and being so hungry that "his eyes glittered" at the umpteenth meal of potatoes and brown bread...poor thin, pale
Carrie still weak from the scarlet fever that blinded Mary...

I am praying...for this Russian boy and the mother that adopted him. I'm afraid I don't have the same outlook, exactly, as most people on this story. Don't get me wrong, the way she handled this boy's return is pretty ridiculous and sad, but just trust me on this one, unless you have personally tried to raise a damaged child, please just pray for her. You can't possibly get what it's like unless you've been there. No, having a family member who did it or working with special needs kids is not the same. I'm talking about day in/day out ugliness of dealing with these children on a 24/7 basis. It's not the same. And all the people who are saying she should have "gotten some help" are naive. There is no help. Trust me. Kain is on his fourth therapist, and his sixth month in therapeutic day treatment, and nothing has helped much. The "professionals" have no better idea of what to do with these kids than anyone else. It's ugly trail and error, and lots of tearful prayers. I'm weary of weepy social workers moaning and sighing on TV for these children. It's useless. If you want to help these children, get more support for the families that are trying to raise them. Because it's a lonely business, let me tell you. These kids tear your life apart while you are trying to fix theirs. Yes, the mom should have handled it much differently. But I can't say I've never fantisized about doing something similar. Anyone who doesn't understand that and thinks they have all the answers to fix these kids needs to go and adopt an older, damaged child and fix them up, quick, while they still know everything. And that's the end of that rant.

Pondering these words...
A girl is Innocence playing in the mud, Beauty standing on its head, and Motherhood dragging a doll by the foot.
Alan Marshall Beck

Latest on the babies...Hmmmm, I'm sorry? What baby would that be? Oh, yes, the baby that is DUE RIGHT NOW? Well, we're not obsessing about that at all, I can promise you, because if it's one thing I've learned by my 4th pregnancy, it's that you are a damned fool if you put your life on hold and enter that baby limbo stage where you spend every minute of every day expecting to go into labor, getting an adrenaline rush every time you have a couple of contractions because you are foolish enough to think this might really be "it" this time. No sir, we aren't doing that nonsense around here.

From the kitchen...clean dishes, mostly, and freezer meals.

Around the house...clean laundry, as close to daily as I can manage it.

In the learning room...plans, actually. I'm in the mood to plan, and looking forward to some fun things for Jack and Tess this summer. Still haven't made that PECS schedule for Jack, shame on me. But I will, and I'll share pictures of it when I'm done.

In the garden- It's all about John keeping up with yard work now, grass growing like mad from spring rain. I'm doing nothing. :)

Plans for the rest of the week... um...well...dare I hope for the obvious? Otherwise,,,life as usual, with as many unneeded activities cut out as I can manage. Kain tested out of OT, so he's done with that (yay!). Kain still has behavioral therapy, Jack's therapies go on too of course, co-op day on Thursday (only two left this year!), and, if still needed, another midwife appointment on Friday (sigh).

Pictures...oh my, I finally emptied my camera! Yay!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

I'm never going to mass again!

haha! That got your attention? I'm not serious, of course, I would never stop going to mass, but this is exactly what I wailed into my husband's voicemail from the church parking lot on Good Friday. Mass has gotten really, really rough. Tess is nearly two. She's not terrible in mass, for a toddler, but she does require constant shushing and distraction and the like, not to mention a lap (which I'm running out of) and strong pair of arms to keep her in place. Jack is having a *really* hard time in mass. He actually used to do better when he was younger, but now it's becoming more difficult for him. He's obviously overstimulated and needs constant coaching throughout the mass to behave. He doesn't take this coaching well from anyone but me. Kain, being 10, should be flying solo during mass, but he's really not most of the time. Every now and then he will have a really good run of it, but most of the time he needs at least *some* redirection during mass, like "Stop pretending to shoot people in the communion line" or "Stop kicking the kneelers over". Maria, of course, is just fine during mass and has been since she was four or so, and she can even help with the youngers, but only if they are in a mood to allow it. Sometimes they are not, and any effort on her part just makes it worse. This is where I was on Good Friday. Kain was rotten. Jack was rotten. Tess was rotten. None of them would take direction from Maria without protest, and John was working. Combine this with being very pregnant and very tired, and you'll not be surprised to find that even sitting in the Narthex was too much to handle. Eventually I was out in the van in tears, wailing into John's voicemail. And I meant it, at the time, I really didn't see how I was going to be able to manage mass at all once the baby arrived. There are just too many of them and not enough of us. First of all, I am often alone at mass. John works at least every third weekend. All weekend, 12 hour shifts, so no, we can't go in the evenings or anything instead either. When he is off, usually he will manage Tess and I will coach Jack and Kain along. It's not usually too bad. But when we have another baby to manage...and like I said, I'm often alone, and it's getting really bad. If Jack and Kain were "normal" 5 and 10 year olds...or if Jack would let Maria coach him along without falling apart...something's gotta give and I'm not really sure what. We do have a nursery. Jack is too old for it. It's for 1-3 year olds, so Tess would be the only one that could go, and really, I've never considered the nursery to be a very good option. You have to volunteer your time in there for one thing, and with our already crazy Sunday-ness that's just not an option. For another, they are often not open for different reasons and then you have to take them all with you to mass anyway. I've always felt like it's just better to kind of suck it up and plow through these seasons and teach them how to behave in mass by being in mass. The only thing I can think of is to go to separate masses. I really feel strongly about attending mass together as a family. But I don't know what else to do at this point.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

a 39 weeks and counting daybook

Sorry this is a bit late. Did you think I might have had a baby? Haha! Silly you! Nope, I've just had a broken keyboard that finally was replaced today. We tried taking it apart and cleaning it, a project that just tickled my little obsessive-compulsive heart, but it didn't now we have a new keyboard and it's giving me fits. The keys are bigger so it is throwing off my groove a bit. I'll get used to it.

Outside my window...Sunny and warm...ahh, Spring. It's lovely. It was a very warm Easter, 80 degrees! Easter is so unpredictable. The last few years were very cold and I have pictures of the kids hunting for eggs dressed in winter coats. This year they were in shorts and tshirts!

I am hearing...The scratch of crayons. Maria and Tess are coloring paper plates. :)

I am thinking...that the spirit is willing but the body is weak. I am motivated and feeling pretty good, energy-wise, to get stuff done around here. My lower back and hips beg otherwise.

I am thankful for...a healthy, if uncomfortable pregnancy. And for a better mental attitude than last week. I'm ok waiting for this baby to come in it's own time.

I am wearing...oh, embarrassing....pajama pants and a tshirt, socks. I'm dressed for working at home today and staying as comfy as possible.

We are currently reading...Still reading The Long Winter with Kain. Maria is reading The Greeks from Usborne. Still reading our Easter picture books.

I am praying...for two Grandmom's and their health problems.

Latest on the babies...Waiting on this baby to arrive, of course. He feels big and heavy, though a couple of people have said that I don't look as big as I did with Tess. I'm not so sure about that. I feel enormous. And so do my feet...I'm swelling quite a bit! Jack started OT last week and it went ok as far as I know. He doesn't tell me much at the time. It's not his way. He tends to spontaneously say something about things when he's ready, not when he's questioned. Later that day, he was feeling chatty, and so I asked about therapy again and he said they had a ball pit and a slide. :)

From the kitchen...I'm laying into my freezer meals already. I know...they are supposed to be for after the baby is born, but I don't care. I can't imagine feeling less like cooking then than I do now. Easter was very easy for me. We went to my family's for dinner, and all I had to bring was drinks!

Around the house...I finally purged and sorted through the children's clothes. Maria and I spent all day yesterday doing this. It's quite a job, especially since over the last couple of years everything has gotten unsorted and jumbled together. I started by cleaning through closets and drawers, pulling out all outgrown clothes to take upstairs. Then we emptied all the containers of clothes onto my bedroom floor into one ENORMOUS pile. Then began the sorting. And sorting. And sorting. Boxes for shoes, neutral clothing, cloth diapers that don't fit Tess anymore and won't fit the baby yet, outgrown clothes of all kinds...and pulling out spring and summer clothes for Tess and Jack, mostly, but a few things I had put away for Maria and Kain too. And of course, pulling out teeny baby things. Today I am cleaning up the mess that happened when I spent the day upstairs yesterday, and catching up on all our laundry, hopefully for the last time...after this point I will do laundry daily so as to have plenty available when we need to pack up to leave. Once all our laundry is done, I'll wash and put away the baby's things. They are clean, but I'd like to give them another wash to get rid of any dust/cat hair.

In the learning room- Working on making a PECS schedule for Jack. This is a kind of pictorial schedule used for autistic children.

In the garden- nothing on my part. John is working on a yard clean-up as I type.

Plans for the rest of the week...PSR tonight, Kain is visiting my parents until tomorrow. Maria has state testing in the morning, and the littles and I will meet friends at the park during the test. Co-op on Thursday. Therapies on Friday, and a midwife visit. Or else, I'll just be having a baby. :) I said I was *ok* waiting, not that I was enjoying it!