Tag Archives: Charlie

The hard times

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I was prepared for this. After all, we have been through a worse surgery when he was much younger. Tubes? We got this. Numerous parents have stories about how their child had tubes in and were back to normal that day. Pictures line my Facebook feed with happy bouncy toddlers 20 minutes after waking up from surgery in the post op room with captions like “doesn’t even phase him!” and “you’d never know he had surgery an hour ago” and on and on. Last time, surgery was 3 hours minimum with at least a 3 day hospital stay. This time it was 10 minutes with us scheduled to go home an hour later. Last time, I barely knew the surgeon other than what I had gathered from our previous appointments. This time, I knew my surgeon, I knew his family, I attended his wedding. This was going to be easy.

It wasn’t easy.

The good thing is, the fact that I knew the surgeon meant when they wheeled Charlie into the OR I didn’t think twice. That wasn’t the hard part. That was the only easy part. The hard part didn’t start until the recovery room. There was my baby peacefully sleeping, hooked up to monitors with a tube in his mouth to keep his airway open. I started to tear. I wanted so badly to pick him up or hold his hand, but I couldn’t. No touching, no calling his name. I forgot how hard it was to not hold your baby when you think he needs you most. I was told he would slowly wake up, he might be fussy or combative (“the opinionated ones usually are”) but he wasn’t. He was lethargic and tearful and in pain. He just cried over and over again that his ears and head hurt and that he wanted to go home. The problem was, he wouldn’t take any medication and he wouldn’t fully wake up which meant he continued to be in pain and we couldn’t go home. At least I could hold him and rock him. He slept and slept in the recovery room. We tried force feeding him Tylenol and Oxycontin to relieve his pain but he just wanted to go home. Close to two hours later, we were finally leaving. With a tearful, nauseated, sleepy boy. My heart broke for him. He insisted up until he was wheeled away for surgery that “nothing was hurting” and his “ears weren’t bothering him” and here he was in pain and sick. I knew in the long run he would be better for this, but I felt guilty at the moment for what I put him through.

Safely tucked in the car, I was prepared for the 2 1/2 hour car ride home. After all, the nurses told me he would most likely sleep the whole way and he did, right after he vomited all over himself and the car seat immediately after we pulled out of the surgical center parking lot. Somewhat calmly I cleaned him and his car seat up. My husband changed his clothes and we tucked him back into his seat. Once he was asleep, I just started crying. I didn’t feel as helpless as I did the last time, but I felt helpless. We couldn’t get home any faster and I couldn’t do anything to make him feel better. He was alone in the back seat. He woke about 25 minutes from home and cried the rest of the way and once again I couldn’t hold him. We got home and he cuddled and cried for most of the day. Not until bedtime did he start to come around, but his playing would be interrupted by tears of pain with his hands over his ears. This was not the fun day that so many had depicted on social media, nor was it as easy as other parents had made it seem.

I knew, though, in a couple of months I would probably give false hope to someone else as the memory fades of the emotions and you just remember that everything was OK in the end. It was OK in the end. It was OK 24 hours later as he played for hours outside with a friend and proudly announced that his ears were “all better!”.

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I am an “Allergy Mom”

At a party recently Nutter Butters were served. I knew they were going to be there. As an “Allergy Mom” I had spoken to the party mom before hand and sat my kid at the table with my eyes wide open. The mom next to me started to panic when she heard me turn down the passed treat saying “no thank you, he’s allergic”. She asked me questions about if it was ok for her son to eat the treat next to mine, did I want them to move, why can’t her son take peanut butter to school, etc. The normal questions that I’m always happy to answer. 

I wasn’t prepared for our next meeting. At her own son’s party she came up to me and said “I told my friend about what happened at the other party and she was shocked that you let your son sit there and that you were actually nice about it!”

I think that was a compliment.

I wanted to face palm.

“Actually nice”. Like it’s surprising that a mom of a child with food allergies is nice. Not the impression that we, as a group, really want to hear. 

It made me think. Why do we get such a bad rap? Why do we need to stand tall and shout and demand? Why as a group can’t we work together to educate others and enjoy life? Why is this such a battle?

I started to think about other groups of moms. Thanks to social media and the internet we have grouped ourselves off pretty well. We are Breast feeders, stroller users, cloth diaperers, extended car seat safety moms, baby wearers, co sleepers, formula feeders, and home-schoolers to name a few. In each case we have labeled ourselves by a CHOICE that we made and gathered up with others like us to discuss our bond. There will be arguments between those that wear their babies and those that use a stroller. Crib sleepers and Co-sleepers are sure that the other one will be killing their child and let’s not even talk about the breast vs. bottle debate. But here’s the thing, those in your group mostly agree. You have a united front.

This is not the case with “Allergy Moms”.

None of us chose this label. In fact, nobody wanted this label. We got stuck with this label. We are in a group we don’t want to be in with moms who aren’t anything like us in our parenting styles. Here’s where the problem begins. We fight with each other. There are so many food allergies, symptoms and sensitivities it’s hard to lump us into one group. These people over here don’t care about the “may contain” statement while these families only use allergy free factories. This group is allergic by contact while this group by ingestion. This group has been to the emergency room while this group only has testing that says their allergic. My head is starting to swim just thinking about all the categories I could list. Everyone has a different comfort level based on their experience and their doctor. No two “Allergy Moms” are the same. Without a united front, we are still alone, fighting for our child. We want to advocate but honestly, sometimes I don’t know if I’ve made the right decision. Sometimes, I just hope for the best. It’s hard to worry ALL.THE.TIME. It’s daunting. 

I can understand why the non-allergic world is confused by us. We all want safety for our children but we don’t agree with what is the best method. And if those of us that live it everyday can’t agree, how are we ever going to educate everyone else? How are we ever going to get others to understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not? How can anyone understand any sort of protocol?

They can’t. And we can’t. 

So the next time you see one of us in high alert, instead of thinking “there they go again”, ask us. Ask us about our personal situation, our beliefs and our experiences that have led us to where we are today. That’s all we want, we want understanding and compassion for our situation. The one we didn’t chose. The one we live with every day.

Calling Nabisco

The more I learn about food allergies the more I realize how little I knew when this process started. I called most major food brands over a year ago to ask questions and at the time were satisfied with their answers. Now and then I tend to call back regarding specific items, especially of the “snack pack” variety because they are often made on shared lines that aren’t cleaned and since a may contain is a voluntary label, I feel better calling to double check and while I’m on the phone I now ask more specific questions about products in general. Today I called Nabisco because I bought their new Angry Birds Snack Pack graham crackers and I was less than pleased with my phone conversation. When I asked about reducing cross contamination through employees I was told “yeah, sure, we do that”. Hmmmm. “yeah, sure”? “Yeah, sure” is what my 4 year old says when she has no clue what to say. It’s also what people say when they aren’t paying attention. I informed the man that “yeah, sure” is never an acceptable answer when fielding questions regarding life or death. He still didn’t seem to concerned. So I asked to speak to someone else, but at the time anyone that could answer my questions was busy. I said that was fine and I could wait on hold or if he wouldn’t mind taking my name and number and submitting it to whoever could answer my questions. Well, I learned it is not their policy to take people’s names and numbers for questions to be answered by someone who may have the answer and was told to just try and call back later. Oh, right in ALL my free time, I’ll just call back and hope someone is available. Obviously, this person doesn’t have children and doesn’t schedule his day around naptime and Leapster time. I decided to go the email route first. Here is the email I sent to Nabisco today:

Dear Customer Service,
I just ended a phone call with your customer service regarding allergen precautions in your facilities. I am writing to tell you that I was very disappointed in the answers I received. Not because they weren’t what I wanted to hear, but because the person answering your customer service didn’t speak well enough English to answer my direct questions. To almost every question I received the stock answer of “if it does or could contain the allergen it would be labeled on the box” and when I asked a specific question of cross contamination I received the answer of “yeah, sure”. I’m going to tell you that when a parent calls with questions or concerns regarding a life threatening condition for their child “yeah, sure” is not an answer. You will lose customers with that answer. It makes the person answering the phone and your company seem like they don’t take these concerns seriously. I was then told that “I answer these calls all day long, you believe the answer I’m giving you”. Again, when you aren’t answering my specific question, I do not believe you. After being placed on hold I was told that no one was available to answer my specific questions and that I would have to call back. I asked to wait on hold or have my name and number taken for a phone call back (which many companies do) and was told that was not your policy and I would just have to try again later. Since I am a busy mom of 2 kids and took 5 minutes of quiet to call, I opted this route to have my questions answered for now.
1. Since you share lines, what methods are taken to clean equipment between producing allergen ingredients and non-allergen ingredients?
2. Are your workers decontaminated as well? Will a person working a line with an allergen change their coat, gloves, hat, etc before working a line that is allergen free?
3. Do you test raw ingredients coming into your facility?
4. How often do you test your product for allergen to ensure that your sanitation methods are working?
I would like to thank you for your time and I hope in the future if I have to call your company for information, the person answering the phone is more informed. You may also contact me via phone at 410-XXX-XXXX.
Sincerely,
Jamie Meteer

I am looking forward to their response. I will share with you, my readers, when I get it.

All About The Wild Card

From here on out, my goal is to devote a day of the week to telling you about each kid. Whether it be about the ailments that afflict them or the antics they’ve cooked up recently. I’ve decided to be clever and alliterate and make Wednesday = Wild Card Wednesday. 

So let’s start with why he is the “Wild Card”. The nickname really comes from the fact that Stampy and I are big It’s Always Sunny fans. Love that show. That Charlie is known as the Wild Card in his antics and it just seemed to fit our Charlie as well. The boy who is always smiley and even tempered, well just wait until we go to a preschool Christmas recital and he will scream his head off. The boy who loves to sit and the table and eat, eat, eat, well just wait until a holiday or special occasion dinner and he will scream his head off. Do you have an old piece of peanut butter toast lying around?? He’ll eat that just to add some excitement to our day. Is there a 1/100 chance your urethra will close up after hypospadias surgery? (note: not a real statistic) Charlie will have that going on too so you have to trek to Johns Hopkins Hospital at 11pm ON YOUR BIRTHDAY. He is just all about the unexpected, the element of surprise, and the surprises just keep on coming.

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Photo by Jenna Main Photography

That’s ok, I don’t mind putting up with his antics because look at that face! or this one
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You really just can’t help but to smile.

Somehow he makes waking up at 5:30am seem pleasant. He’s just that guy. I’m guessing he’ll either be voted most likely to end up in the ER or Class Clown in high school. I’m really hoping for the latter because I’m tired of going to the ER. I think 4 times in one’s life is enough. But, he’s our wild card so I’m sure there will be more in his future.

My Lazy Boy

There are a ton of great adjectives to describe Charlie: fun, charming, cute, trouble maker, stubborn, witty…. but the best may be lazy. I don’t think I’ve ever met a 2 year old BOY that is as lazy as he is.
Me: Charlie, wanna go outside and play?
Charlie: No!
We have that conversation everyday. What kid doesn’t want to go outside?!? This kid…

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If he can’t do it lying down, he probably won’t do it at all.

Now to teach him to do this in his crib past 6am…

Mommy Confessions

In Charlie’s eyes, I failed him today. So I thought I would share my MommyFAIL along with a confession that goes along with it. Charlie is 2 years, 4 months old and he still drinks from the bottle. GASP!! I know. There are a lot reasons why he still does but the biggest is it just was never a big deal to make him stop. He drinks water, juice, lemonade etc from a cup and even drinks out of a regular cup now but he wants his milk in his “baby bottle”. To the point he gets mad, I mean really mad if we give it to him in a sippy cup. Thanks to Avent, we had a transition spout that could go on his bottle. I thought “perfect!”, Charlie thought “what the *&%^ is this??!!?”. There it is, my FAIL for the day, I gave my 2 year 4 month old son this:
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/hangs head in shame.

Breakfast!

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Molly rarely tells us she’s hungry, she just waits until we decide to feed her to eat. She can’t regulate her hunger sensation. This guy, however, can. Luckily he has learned not to bother Mommy before she’s finished her coffee and helps himself to breakfast. This is only a problem when we venture out and he finds it acceptable to help himself to random food he finds at other people’s homes.