Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The origins of things: Brodyism

Brody has lately started asking "who got me this?" For example, when we are playing basketball, he'll say "Who got me da basketball hoop?" And I'll reply. "Who got me da tennis racket?" "Who got me da motorcycle?"

If I don't remember who gave what, I'll just say, "Mommy and daddy." Yeah, I'm taking credit for certain things.

This morning, Brody woke me up. We went into the bathroom, and I took off his overnight pull-up.

B: Mommy, you hurt my penis. (gets onto the potty)

Me: I'm sorry, sweetie. Are you okay? (Even though I know I didn't hurt his penis. See how I validate?)

B: Yeah. (Starting to go to the bathroom) Who got me my penis?

Me: Hmm. . . . um. . . . you were born with it.

B: I was born wis it? Who got me it? Who got me my penis?

Me: Ummmm. . . . (thinking thinking thinking. . . DNA!) Mommy and daddy gave it to you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wicked cool advice for parents of children with differences

You know what I mean. Yes, we are all different, thank god, but I mean visible differences. Stand out and get stared at differences.

In case the 30 or so readers a day did not read the extraordinary comments from my friend Sarah, I'm reprinting it here.

Honestly, Sarah, I got chills when I read this. Your mom is brilliant and you are a treasure. Thank you for sharing this information and, in case anyone ever googles "what to do when people stare at your child's difference," here is the best answer I've seen from a woman of strength and wisdom:

I have a cleft palate and while it is noticeable now, it was MUCH more noticeable as a child. Especially right after surgeries (had tons of them.) When kids stared, my mom often kindly asked them if they had a question. If they said yes, she asked them about what – never assuming it was my lip. Most of the questions (whether prompted by my mom or not) went something like, “What happened to her?” or “What’s wrong with her lip?” or “Why does she talk funny?” All of these questions could have frozen both of us – certainly shy little me. My mom would patiently explain that I had been born without a lip and that marvelous doctors had been able to give me one --- and didn’t they do an AMAZING job? She’d make it sound so lucky and exciting. Her approach did several things for me: 1) gave me words to one day answer the questions myself, 2) respected the normal curiosity of other children and broke the ice for us to play, and 3) made it a not shameful experience – no reason not to answer questions because my lip IS different but it’s not THAT big of a deal. Differentness is interesting and, thank God, exists in all of us. Brody’s thumbs are nothing short of wicked cool miracles (hard fought for with your whole self, but miracles, nonetheless.) We didn’t choose to be part of these wicked cool miracles but I sure am glad we get to.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Feeling better

I had a bit of a breakdown. Some old problems reared their heads. But I'm feeling better now. One of the keys is to remember to be grateful.

I had lunch on Sunday with two friends, one of whom just had her third miscarriage, an ectopic requiring emergency, life-saving surgery, and one of whom is pregnant with her second child.

In some ways it felt like a UN summit. But really, because of their mutual courage and bravery and willingness to talk about that which most would leave un-addressed, it was one of the better times I've shared with them.

And now, I have bloggy writer's block.

Here's a topic I started long ago.

Brody and I were in the bread aisle at the grocery store.

A boy, age approximately 11, and his mother were also in the bread aisle.

Brody eating rice krispie treat. Boy staring.


At Brody's hands.

He nudges his mother, who looks, becomes horrified at her own son, whispers angrily in his ear to stop staring.

But mom, boy says.

He still stares.

I have to admit, I was angry at first.

But as the mother's distress at her son's behavior grew, I felt sympathy for her, and empathy. He wouldn't stop staring.

It became amusing. His mother was mortified. Our eyes met, and I half-smiled.

I made sure Brody hadn't noticed. He ignored them.

So did I.

But what to do about staring people? He looks different.

Ignoring is my favorite option.

Then a boy at Brody's daycare, age 5 or 6, pointed his middle finger at Brody as we walked by to go to our car. Brody's middle finger is his pointer finger. It was such a weird gesture that I thought it was directed at Brody's different-ness. But maybe I'm paranoid. I can't tell if it was malicious or random or neither or both.

Again, Brody didn't notice or care.

I think I might one of these times though.


Friday, September 18, 2009

I'd bungle it all if I could

Do you ever just feel completely inept and overwhelmed at everything you do?

So far this week, I've forgotten my ATM/debit in the ATM machine, and didn't realize it until 30 minutes later. After the machine had taken it.

I've lost tickets to the Thomas the Train exhibit at the Railroad Museum for September 27. They arrived in the mail, and I opened them. I cannot find them anymore.

This morning, I parked in front of the dentist's office, locked my car and plugged the meter. Then realized my keys were still in the ignition. As a result, in between a cleaning and getting 4 fillings from the 1980's replaced, I got to pay $155 for someone to jimmy my car door open. And that occurred in front of a construction crew so the embarassment was a nice little addition.

Then the shot didn't work the first time, which I found out during the first drilling.

I am trying to look on the positive side.

I did, after all, not need 2 crowns on my teeth. I did, after all, have exactly enough cash left to find the one last parking spot for work. I did, after all, wake up this morning.

Good god I'm tired though.

To cheer myself up for the weekend, two conversations with Brody in the last 24 hours:

Setting: Brody and I are walking out of daycare.
B: Mommy, I yike yer boobies.
Me: Thanks, Brody.
B (shaking his head and furrowing his brow): I'm not gonna eat dem dough. Dat's not nice.
Me: Thank you, Brody. You're right. We don't eat body parts.

Setting: This morning, as I get out of the shower, I overhear the boys in the living room. Brody is naked from the waist down (he resists diapers and underwear in the morning).

Brody: Daddy, I only have one butt.
Jeremy: Yup, only one.
Brody: Can you see it daddy?
Jeremy: Yes, I can see it.
Brody (in a sad sigh): I can't see it.

Once I regain feeling in my lips, tongue and cheek, I might go home early and make Brody take a nap with me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

A potential mousepad. Kodak Gallery is having buy one get one free of anything today and tomorrow, including mousepads and mugs and calendars and photobooks.

And 20 free prints for new people, and 10 cent prints for us old ones.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Two-topic Monday

Topic no. 1. Growth. Or something.

I gave away all of my maternity clothes and most of Brody's baby clothes yesterday.

It hurts to even write those words.

A woman at work sent an email asking for maternity clothes donations for pregnant teenagers. I replied. We arranged for her to pick them up. Then I asked if they needed baby clothes too. She replied even faster and said "Yes!"

I had no idea we had so much maternity and baby clothing in our house. Granted, a lot of it was inherited from girlfriends who recycled their clothes to me. But still.

A few pieces even had the price tags still on because I never got to wear them. I was expecting to be pregnant for 2 more months, after all.

It was more difficult than I thought. I held each piece and remembered how happy I was to be finally buying maternity clothes. It was like I was buying maternity clothes for all 4 pregnancies, instead of just the one.

I saved a few of Brody's clothes. A few pieces that I especially loved, including the preemie outfit with the bears on the feet that was too big for him. It still has formula stains on it. I held it up for Jeremy and asked him if Brody was ever really that small? He smiled this sad little half-smile and shook his head.

Once the items were collected in one spot, we had seven large storage crates empty and ready to be filled up again, and ten bags of clothing. I even found a few pregnancy books and the free diaper bag they gave me at the hospital. I put the books in the bag and set them all out.

Surveying the carnage, Jeremy said, "I can see why we have no money."

It made me laugh.

But I was letting go of a lot. I have let go of a lot.

I gently saved these clothes because I just assumed I would need them again.

I stood over them, and instead of being bitter and sad, I forced myself to send wishes with them. I wished that the girls who wear the clothes have enough love, support and money to raise their children. I wished them years of happiness, and health, and love. I wished the babies who will wear Brody's clothes love and health and light and safety.

We ran out to get brunch and then saw my co-worker - and one of the pregnant teens - in the car leaving with the clothes. They thanked us sweetly and profusely, which helped. I asked if they saw the pregnancy books in the diaper bag.

Coworker: "YES! She is reading one of them right now!"

at the same time, grinning pregnant teen: "Oh my gosh, thank you!"

I feel good to have done this.

Topic no. 2. Brodyism.

We are potty training.


Frankly, I wouldn't mind if he stayed in diapers. I really would rather that than have to ask 1500 times "do you have to go potty?" then take him to do it.

Not to mention cleaning up accidents off our floor and carpet.

And potty training is of no interest to anyone except other parents, as it should be.

However, there is one point that is comical for all here.

When Brody uses the potty, he gets an M&M (or 5).

Sunday, we were driving to Jeremy's lacrosse game. Jeremy didn't feel well. We stopped on the way to the field for him to use the bathroom.

It was the 7-11 or the portapotty, so I convinced him that 7-11 would be infinitely the lesser evil.

He came back out to the car after.

"Did you go?" I asked.

sigh. "Yes," Jeremy replied, "I did."

Brody: (from the backseat) Daddy gets a em-a-em!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Update to nerves

Remember the nerves post?

It was bad news at first.

We were sleepless in Denver.

He tried again. Re-submit. Re-create. Re-do.

We just got word.

It worked!

And the person is my husband.

Thank you, Universe!

Celebrate: Pictures & Brodyism

The setting and view from the covered picnic area:

Party at large:
Brody and me:

Enjoying pizza and garlic knots:

My mother, age 71. Not bad, eh?

Brodyism from the party:

Ducks: quack quack quack

Me: What do you think the ducks are talking about Brody?

Brody: I think they're saying, "Happy birthday to me!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Brody

For some reason, it's hitting me now.

My baby is 3 years old. Three.

I'm not going to have any more babies, and the one I have, he's turning 3 today.

To my sparkling, darling Brody,

Today is the day we celebrate your arrival. Here are a few things you need to know. Or a few things I need to say.

You make me laugh every single day. Not just smile, not just laugh even, but belly laugh. Every single day. And the moment when I see in your twinkling eyes that I am not alone in my delight is my favorite part of the day.

I waited for you for what seemed like forever. And you are worth every second, every tear, every anxious sleepless night, every moment of despair when I wondered if we would ever meet.

When you were born, we were terrified for you. Everyone else was terrified for us. But you were completely unaffected by the turmoil. When the g-tube broke through your stomach causing emergency surgery, the doctors prepared us for the ensuing infection. You never got that infection. I came home from the hospital in a daze of heartache and worry, and I saw that your dad had written your moniker on the board we usually used for meal planning and phone messages. It said only two words: "Super Brody."

Those weeks in the NICU I remember wondering what your face would look like without the tubes crisscrossing your features. I was besotted when I could finally hold you. I think I stared at you for hours in those weeks, learning all I could from every movement you made.

I spent months imagining what you would look like when you smile. And then you smiled at me. And I felt my world shift.

I remember wondering how it would feel when you started to reach up your hands for me, to hear your voice say "mommy," to walk into my arms, to run into my hugs, to hear you say "I love you." And now I know. I know all of that and so much more. On Sunday I counted; you said, without any prompting, "I love you" to me five times.

You even say "Bless you, mommy," if you sneeze and I don't say "Bless you" to you fast enough.

To think I worried before I knew you that I would only be able to relate to a girl.

I know you get scared when you get hiccups because usually that means food is stuck in your little esophagus and you have to throw it up. If it's one of those times, we get a bowl and we wait and I rub your back. If it's just the regular hiccups, I tell you you're not going to throw up, and you believe me, without question, instantly. I know if I say "No owie" in the presence of a doctor, you know you will not be hurt by whatever the doctor wants to do to you and you relax. You trust me more than anyone on this earth.

I know you are scared of car washes and the big bad wolf. Although you insist you like car washes and the big bad wolf, when I ask you if you want to get the car washed, or read the book about the big bad wolf, you instantly say no.

I know your father and I are not good enough for you. But we try and we will continue to try to deserve you.

I know at one point we pondered steering you into loving soccer, because that would, we thought, be easier for you considering your arms, only to have you teach us that you could, in fact, play tennis.

And something you don't know is that when you played tennis with your cousin's racquet, on a Sunday afternoon, on a court at Conifer High School a few weeks ago, I started crying while I watched you, with your cousin tossing balls to you and you hitting them, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 times in a row. And that is the moment when I realized finally that you have no limits.

And I know you are going to get a brand new shiny tennis racquet of your very own tonight when you open your presents.

When people told me before I was a mother that having a child is a different kind of love, I rolled my eyes and thought they were mistaken and just maybe prone to exaggeration. Turns out, they were exactly right.

Your second birthday - when you turned 1 year old - was difficult for me in a strange way. Because I could not reconcile my love for you with the absolute terror of the day you were born, and the days and weeks that followed. Your third birthday - when you turned 2 years old - I was so proud you had learned to walk, and I didn't believe I could love you anymore.

Until the next day. And the next. When I did, unerringly, love you more.

And so, on your fourth birthday - when you turn three - I am in awe. You look more like a boy than a baby and, while growing up is the best and only thing a parent can hope for, it is also bittersweet because now that we are finally at the point of not knowing when or where or what the next surgery will be, I've noticed something.

I've noticed that while all of your 14 surgeries were happening, I've already had 3 whole years with you. Three years gone in the blink of an eye.

And according to our team of cognitive, speech and occupational therapists, you will be ready to start kindergarten in two years. How can that be when I only just met you?

It's still strange and new to me, being a mother; some days I look in the mirror and think, "You? You're a mother?" But as strange as being a mother is, being your mommy is more natural to me than breathing.

Was there a time I didn't know you? Were there things I had done in my life besides be yours? I know there were. I remember them.

And I've done some pretty spectacular things, Brody. I learned to drive a stick shift, I survived the death of my father and brother, I've fallen in love, I've won tennis tournaments, I watched the sun rise over the sea of Japan from the top of a mountain in Korea that I climbed in the dark, I've seen Boris Becker serve over 100 mph just feet from where I stood, I've sat on the back of a horse and jumped over fences taller than you, I passed the bar exam, I can use chopsticks the proper way, I've submitted a brief to the United States Supreme Court, I sat on Bill Clinton's campaign plane, I won a vacation to anywhere in the world, and I can order beer in five languages (French, German, Spanish, English and Hangul (Korean)).

But, compared to you, these things are all black and white. You, my love, you are yellow and green and blue and pink and red and purple and striped, bursting technicolor.

I remember when you were growing inside me. And I wasn't sure you were a boy, and so I called you BrodyZoe, just in case you were a girl. But how could I have not known you even then? It's amazing to me that I lived for 35 years without knowing your smiles, your voice, how sweetly you sing, how ticklish you are, how much you like to run in circles, how you like to jump up and down when you are happy, how loud you are, how much you drool, how dearly you adore a train named Thomas and a guy named Spiderman, how courageous you are, how your arms feel around my neck, how much you like to cuddle and hug and kiss, how selfless you are when you offer to share your food and your blankie with me, how your breath feels on my face when you wake me up in the mornings and how your lips feel on my skin.

How did I not know these things my whole life?

It seems like when you meet someone, you learn all about them and when you've learned a sufficient amount, then you fall in love. But with you, my son, I loved you before I ever saw you, and that multiplied a thousand-fold when I first glimpsed your wrinkly red face, and watched you pee on the nurses. At that exact moment, I was still trying to understand why your arms were bent inward and crooked. Yet that rounded arc of urine made me think you would be alright.

Super Brody.

I love learning about you as you reveal more of yourself. I'm even starting to like the color "lellow" as much as you do. I listen to the tales you weave while you play and I marvel at your imagination and intelligence. Your joy at the mere mention of rice krispie treats, seeing a rainbow or finding the moon in the sky reminds me to seize life, just like you, and not to take a single moment for granted.

I'm sorry, too, Brody. I'm sorry for the 14 times I've had to leave you in the operating room. I'm sorry for those times you begged me for food and I had to deny you, I'm sorry for those times you were still awake when they took you out of my arms, I'm sorry for all the times we didn't get you pain meds fast enough. I pray that those meds worked and make you forget those moments. And yet, even after 14 surgeries, you have never, not once, asked us why you had to wear casts, why you had 8 pins in your arms, why you had to have so many surgeries.

I'm sorry for all the times I have to leave you now, too. It shatters me the days when you cry big tears saying "Mommy, I want you," and I have to leave you to go to work. And even though I leave you, you forgive me and make my heart whole again every day when I pick you up, and your face splits into a grin and you sprint into my arms.

When I think of everything you had to endure to get here, and all you've had to endure to stay here, and how clever and loving and sparkly you are, I am. . . speechless. Your mother, who writes, talks and argues for a living... I do not know words to explain how extraordinary you are and how deeply we love you.

Thank you for choosing me and daddy.

You made my life come true.