It’s been a rough few weeks, ending in a fairly major decision to move my son and I away from our home (and my husband) to my mom’s while my husband finishes getting our house ready to sell. I know most of you reading this blog know about these developments through the various outlets in which we share, but I’m realizing that I have not fully processed much of what’s going on and I’m hoping writing about it helps me through that.
First thing: my son has a chronic, potentially life-long condition (asthma, currently uncontrolled, with many triggers) and I need to accept that it is what it is. His full experience of life will depend on our ability to successfully manage that condition, and while I wish it wasn’t so, it is, and I need to process that. It is what it is.
If you’d asked me six months ago whether I’d processed this news or not, I’d have laughed it off. Of course I have! We have an asthma treatment plan! I know all the protocols for both my pediatrician’s office AND the local children’s hospital! I’ve got this! …
… but when my son’s respiratory rate started to climb, I’d avoid jumping into treatments. When he’d cough, I’d tell myself it wasn’t an asthma cough and so didn’t need to be treated… yet. When my husband would stand in the hallway, arms full of treatment equipment and meds, I’d wave him off. “Not yet,” I’d say. “We don’t need to do anything yet.” I’m the mama so he’d follow my lead.
The problem with denial (or, more accurately, delaying) is that with a young child whose asthma is still mostly uncontrolled, you have a very small window of opportunity to head off a full flare-up. Miss the window and you’re just chasing the symptoms, fervently hoping you catch them in time to prevent a hospital stay. I did not fully absorb this information until very, very recently, choosing instead to hope and wish and avoid the fact that my son isn’t like those other kids who can wait out a fever and be okay without medical intervention. We can’t wait and see until tomorrow when overnight is when we end up in the hospital. He almost always needs steroids and antibiotics if he picks up some bug at school. It is what it is.
I’m learning that despite what they say about over-prescribing of antibiotics and not waiting out viruses – which can’t be treated with medicine anyway and over accessing the medical community for common conditions, with my child, quick and effective intervention with totally non-natural, lab-created, physician-prescribed medication is key to keeping him breathing well. I may agree with the articles and research and let’s go back to basics community, but in my life with my child and his history and body and respiratory system, I have to act. Those people report on averages; my son is an instance. It is what it is.
I have to process this other thing, too: I had a c-section, which has some correlation to asthma prevalence in children, and there is nothing I can do about that now. I may curse my body for not relaxing and opening, and my brain for being too thoughtful and stressed out and anxious (and maybe preventing my body from relaxing and opening?), and my choice to go for the c-section when I could have maybe insisted on another number of hours of labor, but it’s done. I can’t rebirth this kid. It is what it is.
I have to remind myself that while I did choose to go ahead with the c-section right then, while moving me to the operating room my kiddo’s heart rate dropped dramatically. And even if my follow-up response is that maybe we just over-monitor births and maybe that’s normal, my totally hippie OB said it was critical and we needed to act. While I’m at it, I also have to remind myself that I didn’t choose to go into the hospital and be induced, I was sent by a team of totally hippie midwives and their totally hippie OB (same one) who unanimously insisted it was time to get that kiddo out of my body. It is what it is.
Next thing: we are splitting up our family temporarily to be able to get our house listed. No, we didn’t get as much done as quickly as we might have. Joey and I just don’t. We know this. We work hard one day, don’t accomplish much the next. We bicker. We take on too much and then blame each other. We each flip flop about “make it perfect” versus “get the damned thing done,” often in opposition to each other. We DIY because we think it’ll be less expensive or better quality (or both!) and then get pissed that it takes so long. We do this in the middle of a commitment I/ we made to move us to Seattle… an agreement I made last October. We can’t redo the last six months. It is what it is.
And now, we’re a little bit stuck. We can’t paint or sand or stir up any particles lest we continue to push the asthma flare-up my son has been in for two weeks. We can’t finish the half-finished bathroom or patch and paint ceilings or do any of the thousand little (and easy!) tasks that we have left to get the house listed. We can’t hire anyone to do them either, because it’s not about who does the work but about what ends up in the air. Perhaps if we’d done the work earlier, before February hit, we could have avoided the asthma trigger challenge, but it’s too late now. It is what it is.
Every year since Javi has been alive, we just realized, he’s been — we’ve all been — sick from February 1 through July. Every year. The first year we blamed daycare germs. The second year we blamed… I don’t remember. The pollen? I think we were just grateful that it wasn’t as bad as the first year, but my mom reminded me that each time we arrive for our summer visit to her house, we’re all sick. Oh. Somehow I never connected that. We have had to leave town to get better. How did we miss this? How did we not connect leaving town with no longer sick?
So now we’re leaving town to be no longer sick. In a week my son and I will hop on a couple of planes and move to my mom’s for a while. Joey will finish the remaining house work. We’ll list our house and hope somebody buys it… soon. We’ll do this later than we should have and more slowly than we wish, all while I battle my own guilt and the indirect work pressure I’m getting to be in Seattle already. I can’t, yet. I don’t have childcare or a support system or an end game in place. I can’t until we know what’s up with our house. It is what it is.
This, though, is where it is what it is is good. We are very lucky people and it’s time to stop wishing and start appreciating.
I have a solid support system (my people!) in New Mexico and a job flexible enough to allow us to move there for a while. I have a husband both capable of and willing to finish up the house who thankfully has a flexible professional situation too. I have the means (and that work commitment!) to move us to a place better for my son’s health and to fly in the family we’ll be leaving behind.
We’d already set the wheels in motion… then slowed them down… and can now accelerate them.
We have health insurance, a great team of medical professionals, and the ability to pay for out of pocket costs as they arise without thinking twice. We live in this time with these meds and this amazing ability to intervene and manage (and succeed) in all manner of medical conditions.
It is what it is, and we are very lucky.
My son’s toddler-hood is a little different than it might have been. Natural consequences can’t be our primary learning method when they lead to the inability to breathe and hospital visits. Insisting or forcing (a med, a treatment) doesn’t work when his overall long-term health depends on his cooperation. Parenting has become very much an art based on my ability to pause and go with my gut versus a team event where my husband and I fully agree. I can’t cave to what they say I should do, even when “they” might be my husband or my family. We’re in it for the long term, this kid and I, and that means a lot of side-stepping show-downs and looking for low-pressure ways to enlist his help, for now. I’m trying to find the middle ground where we can have normal experiences with tantrums and not wanting to put undies on but make sure meds and treatments get done. I’m relying a lot on my network, such a corporate term for something so magical that I can put out a request for a connection to the mama of an asthmatic kid around 3 or 4 and be connected with one within hours. “These are my people” is something I think a lot, both when thinking about my family who unquestioningly respond to my calls for help and my friends who do the same.
It is what it is, the kind-but-firm-because-she’s-a-mama pediatrician reminded me. This is his life and you must must MUST accept it and help him learn to manage it, control it, own it. This is your job.
This is your job.
This is your job.
This is your job.
This is your job.
And so it is, as it is also to teach him that
people love him,
people will help him,
it takes a village (even if we pay some of them),
we’re very lucky,
not everyone is, and
we do what we must, even when it’s not easy or typical or like everyone else.