Thursday, April 15, 2010

Baby Claire finally makes her entrance

With as much as we did while waiting for baby, this birth story could be very long. But, I'm going to stick to just the day of the birth.

Thursday is my usual day to run the morning carpool to school, but my husband, Chris, took over there. When he got back, we got everyone ready and went to the park. I was having contractions, but that was nothing new. We met a girl in the park that was just one day younger than Clio, so cool! Clio complimented the girl's shoes, and they stared at each other for some time before running off to play. The little girl's cousin was just about Cooper's age, and they played. A mom asked me when I was due, and I told her, "March 1st." She came back with the, "Oh, you poor thing." response that I had heard before. The park got too warm, and we went home for lunch. I pushed Clio in the stroller, and Chris walked with Cooper and his bike. Lunch then naps as usual, I'm sure I slept, too after timing a few contractions that were 8-10 minutes apart.

After school, Chris picked up Calliope, and Erin (one of her at home therapy team) was here for her. I only remember the end of the appointment when Erin was talking with me, and I was trying so hard to pay attention while in labor. I also remember fielding a phone call from my mother in law during a contraction. My thinking got a little fuzzy. Chris and I kept on with the little kids, and I called my parents (staying at a campground nearby) to let them know things were picking up and please be ready.

I wasn't at all hungry for dinner, so I served the family and went to take a bath. After just a few minutes, my water broke in the tub. I texted and yelled for Chris, but he was busy. My concern was the color of the amniotic fluid after going 17 days past the due date. He had seen it before when my water broke in the shower just before Clio was born. Turns out the barely yellow tinge of the fluid was totally okay. I called our midwife to let her know we were ready to roll and contractions were coming about every 7-5 minutes at this point. Around this time, I sent out a mass text to let people know that things were moving.

Chris handled things after dinner as I labored. I did just a bit with the little kids for bedtime and talked to them about how the baby was ready to come out, and I might say 'ow' because it is hard work and sometimes hurts. Our midwife and my parents were here just before the little ones went to bed. Calliope was very excited with all the people and activity. She wanted to help and be praised over and over for the helpful thing she just did. It's more than I can do on a regular day, so my parents took her overnight to the trailer with them. She packed a bag for school the next day and went off with them to have a quiet night full of good sleep.

I was on the bed, mostly on my hands and knees, but I wanted to be higher. Chris and the midwife helped with stacking pillows under my arms to get me higher. There were a few really productive contractions and a few that I had to push with, but it still wasn't right. While it was just Chris and I in the room, I climbed with my hands up the wall to let him to put another pillow under me and had a very pushy contraction. I may have stayed in that position as I pushed and pushed and pushed out baby. Chris answered my question about the baby, and I was surprised we had a girl.

Her cord was still attached to me as I held her and laid back on the stack of pillows to nurse her. More contractions came as my uterus shrank up and the placenta came loose. After a few minutes, our midwife clamped Claire's cord and helped Chris cut it. It ended up messy, and we all laughed. It took an hour, but the placenta finally separated from the uterine wall, and I pushed it out.

After putting Claire in the hammock and weighing her with the fish scale, the midwife and Chris diapered and dressed Claire, and Chris held her while the midwife helped me into the shower. It felt so good to be able to move again, and I shaved my legs in the shower and enjoyed every minute of it. The midwife helped me put on the glamourous postpartum panties with big ol maternity maxi pad in it and helped me dry off and put on my tank top, then she helped me into bed. She cleaned up the bedroom and bathroom, brought me tea, and I held baby Claire as Chris helped her take her gear back to her car. I sent out a text to grandparents and aunts that we had a 9 pound baby girl at 10:14 that night. I may have tweeted it, too. ;)

The babies woke up the next morning and came into bed with us to snuggle with their baby sister. Calliope waited until after school to meet her and kiss her head.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Anxiety over a new baby

I'm just a few days away from the March 1st due date with our fourth child, and it's so hard to enjoy the thought of a baby in the house.
Everything else going on revolves around Calliope and her needs, then there are the 3.5 year old, and 1.5 year old that are also demanding.
Baby will be staying in our room. The little kids, Cooper and Clio, share a bedroom. Calliope has the larger bedroom, and it just isn't safe for a kid sister to share it with her.
We'll be in close quarters for some time until we are financially able to move into a larger home.
I'm not thinking clearly enough to write it seems.
Mostly I think I'm just wondering how much one mom can do.
I've got Calliope that could take up all my time.
I've got Cooper that could take up all my time.
I've got little Clio that could take up all my time.
Soon, I'll have a newborn that could take up all my time.
Somehow, I've got to take these four full-time jobs and do them all as one person.
I have my doubts.

Our plan is to labor and birth at home, and I just don't know. We got lucky last time with Calliope in school when the birth happened. I hope we get lucky again because I can't deal with her crap while I'm in labor. I won't have the patience or the ability to hold my tongue when she starts her bitching. When I'm not in labor, it's hard.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Triggers for tantrums

I almost hate to have good days because I know what's coming when the fun ends.


Saturday was a fun day for all of us; daddy was home, my parents visiting. I was sick and stayed home, but everyone else went to the farmer's market and park for the morning. It's the sort of thing Calliope loves because grandma will listen to every word she has to say about every vendor while grandpa and dad take the little kids to the park to play. After lunch at our house, Calliope went to the trailer at the campground with grandma and grandpa.

The break from Calliope's constant stream of insults, complaining, arguing, questions, threats, bargains, negotiations, and general garbage was lovely! Chris and I got to enjoy our time together while little kids were in bed without the worry of what garbage was coming down the hall next as it normally does for up to two hours after lights out. We spent the next morning at Lowe's getting curtains for our room without her complaints and picking fights with us and the little kids. It was amazingly easy to shop with just a 3 and 1 year old, really!

Chris had been thinking about a carpet steam cleaner for some time and finally bought one. He got to work right away when we got home to clean Calliope's room and give the carpet time to dry before she came home. The yucky spot from a doggie piddle puddle finally came up (spot treatments only made it spread-yuck), and we thought she'd be glad to have it finally gone. It was amazing what came up out of her carpet. GROSS!!!

Then she came back, and things were sort of fine until it was time to get ready for bed. We ignored complaints about dinner; it's normal, and I think she skipped eating. She did her laundry and had some trouble with the follow through putting her clothes away properly. She spent quite a bit of time arguing and threatening us about what she would do to make us let her watch tv before the work was done, and I didn't respond-Chris was busy with little kids' bath. After all that trouble, she put her clothes away and came out to watch 16 and Pregnant with me on the couch. It was the same routine with taking a shower; arguing, complaining, threats, yelling, and she finally just took care of it.

No new holes in our walls, but the tantrum kept rolling after the shower. She had misplaced her hairbrush (AGAIN!!!!) and knew we had been sneaking around and took it from her, so she came out yelling at us about everything she could think of. She lost her tv after that because we weren't enjoying her company, so she got even more mad. She came out and sat on the couch. I turned off the tv and sat silently. She kept up the bitching and threats. I asked her is she cared to keep the things her grandma bought for her at Michael's. When she behaves badly, she loses things, and I told her that I'd take it all. She wanted to keep them and went to her room. PHEW! The yelling continued, but it was further away.

It's the dumbest thing ever the garbage that she does and says. She gets everything she wants for longer than 24 hours, but it ends up that we never do anything nice for her and never listen and never do what she wants. SO DUMB!

The Asperger's Syndrome I sort of get. Change is tough, so the fun-fun-fun is over, and it's hard to change gears into normal 'get ready for bed on a school night' routine. I totally get to be calm and not fuel anxiety over that change. It's the oppositional defiant disorder that seems to cause the train wreck stuff. She wants to push and push and find anything she can to pick a fight over. She looking for the fight and for more drama. I hate it and don't know what to do to settle her down. I actually try to avoid stuff that would be fun for her because I know what's coming when the fun is over and don't want it.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Paperwork goof and the fallout

We were finally getting close to the testing we've wanted since 4th grade. Our pediatrician said the school did the sort of evaluations I was asking for, and I'd been asking then pressing the school ever since. So, two years of frustration was about to end when I checked boxes, initialed, signed, then hand delivered the Plan for Assessment forms to the Special Education office.

I thought all was well and was counting the 60 days until the IEP where the findings would be discussed and changes would be made to help Calliope get through her school day, improve her learning, and hopefully help her enjoy learning. But, 23 days into the countdown, I get a letter in the mail from the school psychologist that I initialed one place where I shouldn't have. Oopsie. They needed me to fill out the Plan for Assessment again, and the 60 day count down would start again from the date they have the new form. NO WAY!

Oh, it was devastating. I called our advocate, and he asked me to wait for a call from the head of the SpEd office. That call didn't come, so I called her the next day, explained what happened and offered to do anything to note the error and protect them from any legal trouble they thought could happen, just please don't make my child wait and suffer another three weeks over a tiny error. It took a few days and a few emails from me and our advocate to his contacts, but I did get a letter saying the tests would go on and the original 60 day timeline would stand. PHEW! That was such a relief.

March 5th is the big day now. That is the end of the 60 days, and we'll have the individualized education plan (IEP) meeting.

I've explained it to Calliope as gently as I can. Everyone has a brain, and most brains work pretty much the same way, and kids with that kind of brain putt along in school doing fine. But, when a brain works a different way, grown ups have to figure out how it works and how that brain learns and how to help the kid using that brain to learn and succeed in school. So, all the grown ups are working to figure out Calliope's super smart 11 year old brain and help her learn and enjoy school. If all this works out, and keeps working, I want college to be an option for her.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

a visit from Oma

I'm having incredible physical difficulty with this pregnancy, so I'm not running the house as I would like. Calliope gets worse every week, so running the house at all is more difficult than it should be. Stress and worry keep me from taking care of myself as I know I should. I can't get out for a walk to improve my mood or even just to take the kiddos to the park. My whole life is a runaway train, and I'm along for the ride and inevitable train wreck. I have no control and am powerless to change things.

My husband wants to help, but he just doesn't do much. Dishes, laundry, house cleaning; they all wait until Chris wants to do them, so we run out of everything on a regular basis, and cleaning doesn't usually happen. I know he wants to help, but he won't let me tell him what to do that is helpful. So, he's arranged for his mom to come help.

Over thanksgiving his parents were here, and I was very disappointed to watch her sit in the backyard and play solitaire on her blackberry while I tried to play with the kids. She sat on the couch while I worked in the kitchen or helped Chris with laundry or sat on a kitchen chair. She is just as clueless as he is.

She'll be here today to stay with us for I don't know how many days. I expect to have to entertain her, cook for her, clean up after her, and keep the kids from disturbing her while she plays on her blackberry. So, I am not feeling great about the visit from the 'help Christa with the little kids' angle.

Then there is the terribly embarrassing situation with Calliope. I really don't want to have MIL feeding the beast. Calliope feeds off attention and will keep going as long as anyone will talk with her. My MIL doesn't seem to get this, even after being told several times, several ways. The MIL will go around and around on whatever subject Calliope chooses for however long Calliope wants, letting her perseverate and get more and more upset all the time. We've got her bullshit calendar on the wall, her behavior expectations, the chart with money paid for each chunk of the day, and all the info and phone numbers of the people working with us on her. This is NOT normal and will have to be explained to her at least once. The consequence for Calliope's record length tantrum on Sunday morning was me taking her clothes (I give her things to wear daily-my choice). The consequence for her record sized hole in the wall on Sunday night was completely stripping her room. These things will also have to be explained.

If mental health professionals don't understand the problem or know what to do, my mother in law has no chance of understanding. She's on her way, and it's going to add another layer of stress and worry to my load.

Friday, January 8, 2010

First meeting at school with our advocate, :)

The day after I had the phone book open looking for educational advocates and ended up looking at attorneys, a social worker gave me the name of an advocate. His business is non profit, so he doesn't have hourly rates, but he does want us to pay expenses, so it isn't going to cost us $150 an hour to have him with us at meetings like her Dr. did! Yippee! That's a relief already. Just talking with him over the phone I got the feeling that he knew what was going on in our family and how the school was avoiding their responsibility to Calliope. Then he made came to one of the school meetings.

We've had these meetings at least monthly since school started, and it's usually the school stringing me along with one thing or another, pushing me to look at her assignments online, reminding me that there are kids with worse behaviors and worse grades, and saying that her problems are at home and not at school. They have put off and stalled and backpedaled on the special education testing-evaluatiion-assesment of her needs, even after I put the request in writing last school year. Sometimes Calliope's Dr. comes with us (and charges per hour) to back us up and add her advice on dealing with Calliope.

This meeting was so different. Our advocate was just super nice, laid back, but I understand his name is known to the school, and I believe it now. The school totally offered up that Calliope was yelling at teachers in class, hostile to adults, is a problem in the classroom and between classes, she even hit a girl the day before the meeting and yelled at the teacher when she asked 'What happened?' The school counselor even suggested that having high test scores and not performing to potential was reason enough to get the testing I've been asking for (since 4th grade!) and been denied. Total turn around from what they had been doing and saying before. Phew!

Our advocate said 'She clearly qualifies' a few times about school services, County Mental Health, and Regional Center services. He told me not to worry about it, and he wants to be at any meeting where Calliope is the topic. I felt such relief knowing we had help. He knows the laws, the terms and jargon, and can talk to these people in their language. They don't have the polite mom to push aside anymore. It's great.

Since I've submitted the forms and questionnaire for the testing, they have 60 calendar days to complete the testing and have an IEP meeting for Calliope. We are going to have news by February 26 about changes for Calliope at school! Of course the changes will be nothing to brag about. My smart girl will be in special ed classes. But it will be better for the teachers and students that don't have to deal with her disrupting their classes and taking her abuse.

Things with county mental health are looking a bit slower. Calliope hasn't seen her regular Dr. since before Christmas, and the Dr. won't see her now that she's been taken up by CMH. So, the first appointment with her new therapist (I don't know if she's a Dr. or not) is Friday morning. Calliope is very upset about missing class, but that is the only appointment we can get next week. She's not been taking her medicine, so I don't know how the next week is going to be; they may see more than they want to see. But, there is a possibility for more intense therapy, in home therapy, and it is all going to be paid for through Medi-Cal because Calliope is lucky enough to have an absent parent and a parent with no income. So, a financial burden has been lifted from us, and all the driving to SLO to see her Dr.s is a thing of the past.

So, there was good news this week. Nice.