Guest Post: When lllness Interferes with Motherhood

renee 1 Being mama to two active boys has gone a bit differently than I planned.

This article is the sixth in a series of guest posts. I have invited a few select friends and family members to contribute to my blog. I have chosen them based on two things: 1) I personally go to them for help; and 2) I am fascinated by their unique parenting challenges, because I want to hear how they make “okayest” work for them.

Allow me to introduce you to my childhood friend, Renee. We were close friends in elementary school, but we probably haven’t even seen each other since middle school. (I think we were both pretty dorky. The other girls were fawning over New Kids on the Block while we were making up blues songs about our troubles at age ten.) Like lots of old friends, we re-met on facebook. Even though we haven’t been able to reconnect in person, we bonded over being on bedrest – and death’s door – together. 

Renee’s optimism is astrounding. She deserves a chance to tell her story. Here’s Renee:

The Hubster and I were married for three years when sweet boy #1 came along and we had it all figured out! I got to stay home for a while with him and the three of us had lots of fun together. Weekends were relaxing, mornings were slow, but time flew by. Other than him having pediatric epilepsy controlled by meds, nothing could stop us.

Five years, one miscarriage and many fertility issues later, sweet boy #2 greeted us! After he was delivered, the doctors delivered a 10 pound ovarian cyst that had shared space with our new bundle. We knew it was growing along with him as it was discovered right before we learned I was pregnant! Many ultrasounds took place to make sure he was outgrowing the cyst that posed a threat to us. Removal during pregnancy was too risky so we prayed and took precautions. I had ten weeks of bedrest and my ankles were the size of my knees. Yikes! But that was the least of my worries. As soon as Youngest was born, I started having severe abdominal pain. Even in the hospital, hours following the c-section, I was complaining of increasing pain and the docs said, “That’s to be expected”, or “You just had a c-section”. At the one-week mark, I had my staples removed and I was feeling a bit better.

But two days later, I woke-up with a 104.5 fever and couldn’t move my legs. My husband was home, doing what we thought was a great idea for his “time off”: putting in wood floors. Huh? Hey, don’t plan remodeling projects for maternity leave. Even though it’s your second kid and you think you are a pro. Nope. Don’t. Anyway, we were so afraid of what could be wrong so we called 911. Not kidding: paramedic dudes had to climb over plywood, wood slats, tons of tools and a bunch of new baby garb from just not getting it all put away yet. Hubster had to stay home with the kids, so this was my first ambulance ride, alone. At the ER I was told I had a “wicked” UTI. Also, it was determined I had bilateral sciatica and it “could be six months”. My left calf was also swelling and turning black. I was given antibiotics and steroids. My husband drug our babies out to pick me up. I remember sitting on the bench waiting, thinking, “I can’t walk. I can’t stand. I can’t lay. How am I going to be a mommy of two?” Once home, I literally screamed the whole way in the house. I had to have a walker at all times. Along with that, I needed posture help from my husband. Ok, I went to bed the night before feeling just fine, right? The next three weeks were what I’d describe as heart-breaking. I went to the ER seven times with excessive bleeding, fainting, unexplained pain, etc. They just kept saying, “It’s that wicked UTI.” I went to my family doctor and explained everything. He said, “Renee, what is it you’re doing here? Are you drug-seeking?” Hmmmmm. He was no help.

I decided, “I’m 30. I’m a mom. I’m going to tough this out. Oh, and I will use a walker.” I was in so much pain. I couldn’t walk, lay or stand. No cooking, no cleaning, no running to the baby’s crib when he awoke for a feeding. My husband rigged some pillows in our bed to surround me and the baby, propping me up just right for breastfeeding and remaining pain-free. My oldest climbed in next to me and we colored every page of every coloring book, and found every hidden picture ever drawn. He was a trooper. Everyday when he was home from school he’d bring me something he made to “make mommy well”. It was nearing the end of May (three weeks since birth) and it was time for my oldest’s kindergarten graduation. My leg was still massive and black and blue. I was grey all over and I still couldn’t walk. My husband finished that floor and put a comforter under my recliner. (At that point, I’d slept in the recliner since mid-bed-rest days, with the exception of birth week. Twenty pounds on my abdomen was too much for lying down, and not being able to move your legs makes it hard to get in bed.) He pulled me across our new floor (wee!) to the bathroom. He carried me to use it and back to the chair. He was dressing me completely, cooking all meals, changing all diapers, up all night with Youngest and taking Oldest to and from school and the sitter’s. My sitter was amazing. One of my best friends.

This graduation was a big deal to me. But I didn’t think I could make it. However, walker and all, I arrived. The ceremony felt like hours. I cried tears of joy for his accomplishment and tears of sadness for our situation. Life was upside down.

My husband’s leave ended and that weekend we were faced with “Who will care for Renee? Who will care for the boys? Should this be the same person?” We thought I’d be better by now. My sitter would come over and literally babysit me, 30-year old me. I had so much pain. We’d cry and pray together. I even confessed that I felt death was near.

My husband suddenly had a brilliant idea! He was approved to use his vacation time to drive us out to my mom’s house in Missouri so she could take care of me before school started back. That way, he could go back to work and not lose his job. Also, we figured I’d be better by then.

Off we went! I had a 104 fever through four states. It was 112 degrees outside and I had chills and a fleece blanket. Once we arrived, I was so ill that we unloaded and my husband got me back in the car to go to a nearby hospital. We sat in the waiting room for nine hours. I was hemorrhaging. When they took me back they said, “Oh you have a UTI. And postpartum depression.” Say huh? That causes hemorrhaging these days? A doctor in Virginia had suggested that as well and I had to go to a counselor. During that first visit, she said, “It’s clear you’re not at all depressed. Rather, you seem scared.” Anyway, the ER treated my fever with Tylenol and it responded, down to 101. They said, “Sorry you have walking problems. It’s your weight.” Fun times.

We left. Guess what?? Fever was back to 104.5. Also, BIG allergic reaction to the IV med they used to treat my UTI. Back we went. A doctor took one look at me and said, “Oh! You are very ill! I’m going to run these tests!” Tests revealed I was suffering from sepsis (a bloodstream infection). He gave me two weeks to live. Hi, I have babies! I got shipped to a smaller hospital two hours away because the Joplin, MO tornado hit and I was not a priority patient. I woke up in a new place, sicker than ever. A nurse was standing next to my bed with a breast pump. “Dear, you must wake-up so we can pump some milk and see if it’s poisonous.” Whaaaa?!?!? I’ve been poisoning my baby? She added, “Fifty percent of babies need serious medical intervention from poisoned milk; the other fifty percent just poop green.” Called mom. Baby was fine. Five days passed and hubby was running back and forth between kids and mommy. He had to go back to Virginia. Vacation’s over. So he got me to my mom’s and left (I’m not cured, but better). Tears!

For three weeks, I sat on the couch. My legs started loosening up and I could take 10-15 steps on my own. I could change diapers, people!!! Oh, I was a happy momma. At night, I sat on the couch by our little baby in his pack-n-play. Bottles, burps, kisses: these little things helped me get through immeasurable physical pain still occurring in my abdomen and legs. I also felt like my heart was beating through my spine. I taught my oldest how to make all the basic foods, as I couldn’t always get up to make foods when he wanted them. We called it “big boy tools”.

The last night before my husband came to get us, I started bleeding again. Buckets. And kidney pain out the yang. He arrived and we loaded the car. I cried all the way to Kentucky, but quietly. I didn’t want my kids to know. I said, “We must stop. I am bleeding to death. I feel death is near.” I fell on the counter inside the convenience store and told the poor teenager workers I was dying and need an ambulance. While waiting, I went back to the car and I put on a brave face and talked to Oldest while holding Youngest’s bottle. The ambulance arrived and we caravanned, oh, 60 miles.

At the hospital, I was told to lay down on the bed at the hospital, but I begged them to let me sit. They have no idea what we’ve been through. The girl across the hall had my same first and last name, with the exception of three letters. Really??? So she got my doctor first by accident. I waited three hours, alone, as I told Hubster to get the kids to a hotel with a pool and play. Finally, the doctor. “Ma’am, you are not urinating, only bleeding. I bet it’s a stone. Oh here, tests show a UTI. And your sepsis test takes 72 hours. So here’s your walking papers!” Really? I begged him to admit me. It was 3:00a.m. My pain was a ten out of ten, and I am bleeding so much I couldn’t keep it from getting all over the place. A nurse cut off my wristband and I went to the lobby. Hubster and kids drove out and took me to the hotel. The next morning I was crying at the continental breakfast bar. I could see how I was no longer a necessary element to our family’s function. People were dressed, fed and packed. It took all I had to walk from the elevator to the car.

We got home to Virginia about 3:00p.m. I had Hubster drop me at the hospital. I said bye to my boys like I had once before. Like when I had had pain and bleeding so immense that I thought I should get in my last kisses. After argument from staff about how I was a frequent flier, I got a CT scan, which I demanded. They found 66 kidney stones. I met with my urologist four long days later and he had read my whole, entire chart. “Renee, this bloodstream infection usually eats heart valves. I need you to get an echocardiogram.” My infectious disease doctor does a heart check before the echo and jumps back from me. “Do you have a murmur? Because right here, I hear a large hole in your heart!” Ok. Echo, done. “Hi, I’m a cardiologist. You need open heart surgery. Now. You have 48 hours to live. If you want a second opinion, call them on my personal cell phone because there’s no time.” Ok. My kids are at the sitter. My husband’s at work. My mom drove in yesterday, before any of this was known, because she “felt like something was wrong”. She was holding my hand while we got the news and I think I broke her pinky.

I was admitted and tests started immediately. I was too sick to operate. I had to wait. But could die. My kids weren’t allowed in to visit until the night before surgery, as my “valve is hanging off and excitement could push it to the brain causing immediate death.” The night before surgery, I said goodbye to them. Like for real this time. I was convinced those first two times were practice. I bawled like a banshee when they left. One of my best friends and my husband spent the night with me. I had taken two antiseptic showers and I had my game face on. I looked at the sunrise and told the doctors I would see tomorrow’s sunrise.

Nine hour surgery. Recovery. Five weeks more in the hospital. Cardiac rehab. Home.

I have to re-bond with my little baby who is now three months old. My oldest is overjoyed mommy is home. But I still can’t be alone. After several weeks, I was feeling better, fully bonded again and part of our family mechanics! Oh, did I mention I lost my full-time job during these events, where I had worked as a counselor for several years due to “restructuring”? And you aren’t allowed to draw unemployment if you’re under a doctor’s care. Yeah. We couldn’t get food stamps, Medicaid, WIC or any other government support. Still had all the same bills with half the income. Add in monstrous medical bills, a home nurse for three weeks and picc line maintenance charges. Yeah, we made $80 too much per year for federal assistance. For reals? That’s two gas tanks.

Anyway, it was time for kidney surgeries. Sixteen in all. One surgery went horribly wrong, causing another “you have 48 hours to live” and required two extra corrective surgeries and 16 blood transfusions. I was sent to a larger hospital for these life-saving procedures. My husband had to be home with the boys, as these things happened so often, we got tired of asking friends to care for our boys, fearing they’d feel taken advantage of. A dear friend rode in the ambulance with me. I spent the next three days throwing up and bleeding profusely. Even my nurses said, “Oh sugar, I dunno if you can pull through this one!” I had blood thinners on board due to my mechanical heart valve in place, so that exaggerated the bleeding.

Oh my poor babies. Weeks of curtains closed, babysitters for mommy, mommy stuck to the couch, trips to the doctor. But you know what? After that last surgery, it was over. Mostly. I just had to endure many ureter stent placements for draining my kidneys.

On my first day with no scheduled surgeries, my oldest climbed in bed with me and started crying. He said, “Mama, you don’t know, but I cried at night while you were gone. I beed brave for you. Now, it’s time to cry together. Let all your tears go in my hair so they don’t get wasted on the ground.” Really???? You’re 5??? All of us were bawling.

It was a new day. My nightmare had ended and I began mourning the long nights awake with my newborn, piles of 0-6 laundry, walks with the stroller, and so so much more. I couldn’t even hold my three-month-old until November and it had already been since July. I now completed laundry with joy! Nothing could shake me! But there was that whole now-you’re-losing-your-house and have-to-sell-everything-but-your-kids just to eat. Sure, food banks were nice, but having both worked in a field where we helped with food banks, or drove clients to the food banks, those people knew us. And we were not always received kindly.

I can tell you, I’m not your average parent of small, growing kids. I’m not the mom with the jogging stroller at the park. I’m not the busy carpool-driving mom who “does it all”. In the last two years since surgery, I missed my oldest getting dropped off by the bus due to passing out; I’ve had a heart attack; I’ve needed two surgeries to stop bleeding and in turn required several blood transfusions. Most of my surgeries since 2011 have made me sterile. I’ve logged 137 days in the hospital away from my babies and husband. I’ve sat in an empty hospital room, wondering when my last breath would be. Would I know? Who would find me? I’ve made thousands of friends who are nurses and doctors, because I make time for them in my schedule (that was a joke, but true). I’ve learned a lot about health, and although my problems were caused by a freak occurrence of endocarditis, I’ve worked hard to save the rest of my heart by losing 154 pounds since surgery. I can run, but I mostly walk. I can be mommy! I can get on the floor and play! I can go to Chuck E. Cheese! I can be me. I have great stories to tell! The craziest one is that I called my son’s school to cancel the parent/teacher conference we had scheduled… because I was busy having a heart attack. I sit in waiting rooms with 30 ninety-year olds and learn so so much.

Jesus is our source of strength. We trust him through all of the crazy twists life throws at us. We are thankful for me being alive. And for Youngest not being poisoned.

In addition, many friends and family have helped us through these years of hard times. People sold vehicles to pay for our mortgage so we wouldn’t lose it all. But we couldn’t hold on anymore. We sold the house but had to bring 1/4 of the mortgage with us as a personal loan due to poor housing prices. We are trying not to let that eat us alive.

renee 2We now live with my mom in Missouri. I went back to work full-time for nine months last year. I was stuck at work many times, as we didn’t have money for gas to get home. Not to mention health scares here and there, adding to our medical debt. Most difficult was the $800/month health insurance, for myself. The kids were never hungry but Hubster and I shared plates. We wouldn’t change our journey, but we don’t want to do it again.

Today, I’m a stay-at-home mom! I love it! My medical team just isn’t sure I should work out of the home at this time. We are closer than ever as a family of four. My husband is working hard to rebuild our financial stance, as it had completely disappeared.

We will get back on our feet! And I will take each step with joy.

renee 3.

Note/Update from Okayest Mom: In my post Please Consider Helping My Childhood Friend this Christmas , I asked for my readers’ help in passing Renee’s Indiegogo fundraising campaign along. We were hoping we could help her and her husband pay off some of their staggering medical costs. I personally thank each of you who prayed, shared, or even donated. I am happy to report that they raised a take-home total of $10,330.75! Renee writes, “We are filled with gratitude. Thank you for every prayer & share – each one a treasure. Thank you also to Jesus. Each and every donation was a blessing and brought freedom. We are taking a sigh of relief tonight and every penny has been used to pay off my health insurance and 47 doctor visits from 7/2013 thru 2/2014!! That was chunked in one bill and it was eating us alive! NOW, it’s PAID in FULL!!! Thank you. We take none of you for granted.”

Guest Post: Why I Choose to Remain Childless

This article is the third in a series of guest posts. I have invited a few select friends and family members to contribute to my blog. I have chosen them based on two things: 1) I personally go to them for help; and 2) I am fascinated by their unique parenting challenges, because I want to hear how they make “okayest” work for them.

 Allow me to introduce you to one of my best friends, Sarah. We met at the small (and I mean small) school where Mr. Okayest and I also met. She knows all the nitty-gritty details about me and still loves me. Our lives have taken different paths: she went for a career, and I went for, um, a career, and then infertility, and then dog-walking, and then adoption, and then IVF, and then being a stay-at-home mom. Anyway, I am excited to hear from Sarah, my first non-mother guest writer on a blog about motherhood.

 

Sarah borrows one of my sleepy twins for a cuddle by the fire.

Sarah borrows one of my sleepy twins for a cuddle by the fire.

“You’ll change your mind,” is the response I inevitably receive when I tell someone that I am not planning to have children.  Perhaps I will change my mind some day or perhaps a child will choose me. After all, unexpected pregnancies run in my family; that’s how I came into the world.  I’m pretty sure I would be a good mother. I think that I have what it takes to nurture a child. But the honest truth is that I do not want to. Being a mother is not the path that will lead to fulfillment for me. I turn 35 this year and I finally feel like I know myself pretty well.

I do not begrudge any woman for choosing motherhood. I have known Mr. and Mrs. Okayest since I was 15. In fact, I have known them as long as they have known each other. Mrs. Okayest has always wanted children. It is a fundamental part of who she is and she is an amazing mother. I frequently feel immense disappointment when my friends become parents. I know that parenthood will likely consume them. They will become Mommy and Daddy and that will define them completely. But Mr. and Mrs. Okayest are the rare breed of parent who still maintain their pre-children individuality. I know this because in a recent photo of Mrs. Okayest, she is wearing knee-high converse just like she would have when we were teenagers (had knee-high chuck taylors been around then – we had to settle for the traditional high tops).

Some parents like to pretend that parenthood is transcendent and perfect, but Mrs. Okayest is completely candid about how challenging and at times soul-sucking it can be (you’ve been reading her blog, right?). On a recent trip to Virginia, I spent the day with her. Late in the afternoon after the three children were down for naps, we went out for an hour to have some “adult” time. When we returned to her house, Mrs. Okayest didn’t get out of the car immediately. “I don’t want to go back inside,” she said. I loved her immensely in that moment.

I’ve encountered a lot of annoying parents. In fact, Facebook is rife with them. They are the Stepford parents who seem to believe that their children crap rainbows and are the center of the universe. Mrs. and Mr. Okayest are nothing like this.  They still prioritize each other over their children. They do not hover or fawn. They do not allow their children to run rampant. They do not brag about how much their kids like esoteric foods or are already fluent in French at 3 years old. Mrs. Okayest has never uttered to words “you wouldn’t understand, you aren’t a parent.” This phrase is up there with “you’ll change your mind” to someone who has made a conscious decision not to pursue parenthood.

If I were a parent, I would want to be like Mr. and Mrs. Okayest. But let me get back to why I do not want to be a parent.

Reason #1: I really like my life the way it is. I am unmarried and live alone with several cats. In popular culture, this is the trope for a sad pathetic unlovable woman and I am the first to make fun of myself for this. I joke that I’ll choke to death on a ravioli and my cats will eat me. But in reality, I’m perfectly happy with my life. I’m not sad or lonely. I have my friends and my family (and my cats). I have my career and my hobbies. I have a full life. I do not feel like there is something missing. There is no child-sized cavity that I crave to fill.

Reason #2: I’m a selfish introvert. I don’t even want another adult in my space, let alone a child who will destroy my things and torment my cats and be generally annoying. As an only child and an introvert, I need a lot of space. I mean A LOT. I joke that if I ever get married, my husband can live in the house next door. This goes back to the whole “knowing myself” thing. This need for space and alone time is an indelible part of my personality. It’s not going to change.

Reason #3: My career as a software engineer at a large tech company in Silicon Valley is highly demanding. It is also incredibly important to me. I do not believe that I could be a good mother and also adequately handle the demands of my job. Warning: I’m about to say some incredibly unpopular things about working mothers in the tech industry. Women are not super-frickin-human and, at least in tech, I don’t think we can “have it all”. I probably just had my feminist license revoked, but whatever. I do believe that woman are equal to men. I’ve spent my entire career in a male-dominated field trying to prove this.

I recently read Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In.” Many of the things she said about being a woman in tech really resonated with me. The part that didn’t resonate with me is her belief that you can be a good mother and have a high-powered career (she is COO of Facebook). I call BS. She posits that all you really need is to believe in yourself, be assertive in asking you employer for what you need as a parent, and have a partner who shares 50% of the parenting responsibilities.  To her credit, she openly admits that she enjoys a lot of privileges that many working mothers do not, but still, I think that she is describing a unicorn. An unrealistic myth. In tech, as in many other professions, hours are unpredictable, expectations are high and the pressure is unrelenting. It is sadly a young single person’s game. I’m not saying it’s right. Perhaps there is room for change. But in our highly competitive global economy, these types of jobs are demanding out of necessity. Asserting that a woman (or a man) can be fully present as a parent and also meet the demands of this kind of job is setting unrealistic expectations. Marissa Meyer (CEO of Yahoo!) was reportedly checking her work email just hours after giving birth. I completely get it, but I’m not sure this mentality is compatible with being a good parent.

As for a 50/50 partnership… Again, in most cases, I just don’t see this being a reality.  Fathers are more involved in child-rearing than ever before and this is awesome (Mr. Okayest is a prime example). But culturally, we’re just not there yet. I could espouse some more unpopular opinions on this topic, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll restrain myself.

Reason #4: My final reason for not wanting to be a parent is a very personal one and is difficult for me to talk about, but I want to be honest so here it goes. I have struggled with mental illness my entire life. In my late twenties, I was finally diagnosed as depressed and minorly bipolar (if I ever have a band, I’m totally calling it “minorly bipolar”). It is a physiological (and hereditary) chemical imbalance which I manage with a cocktail of mind-altering medications and bi-weekly therapy. If I were to get pregnant, I would have to stop taking my medication and I’m pretty sure that the combination of pregnancy hormones and no medication would be the end of me. Also, I would never want to expose a child to one of my depressive or manic episodes; I don’t think that a good mother should spend days in bed shutting out the world or indulging in self-destructive binges of bad behavior (I’ll leave that one to your imagination). Finally, I know that these illnesses are frequently passed on to the subsequent generation and I wouldn’t want anyone to struggle the way I have.

So this girl plans to stay child-free. My biological clock ain’t tickin’ and, to loosely quote a friend of mine, “this oven don’t bake no buns.”  Maybe I’ll change my mind. But more likely, I won’t. For now, I’ll just enjoy my friends’ children and admire my friends for taking the plunge I choose not to take.

***

Note from Mrs. Okayest: Sarah also showed up in my post about How a Good Girl Accidentally Got a Tattoo and Shaved Her Head One Time.

Guest Post: A Twin Mom Gives “The Talk”

This article is the second in a series of guest posts. I have invited a few select friends and family members to contribute to my blog. I have chosen them based on two things: 1) I personally go to them for help; and 2) I am fascinated by their unique parenting challenges, because I want to hear how they make “okayest” work for them.

Allow me to introduce you to my childhood friend, Holli. We have been friends since fourth grade, mostly because we shared a love of books and finishing our school work quickly so we could read more books. Now that we are all grown up, we share a twin mothering bond. I go to her for reinforcement when someone says something weird about adoption or my twin mommy guilt threatens to swallow me whole. She is always ready with a kind word or a snappy comeback (whichever I need most). She does not mince words. I give you Holli, straight-talkin’ twin mom:

rylanramziephotoA few days ago I received a request from the World’s Okayest Mom to write a guest blog that capitalized on my experience as the mother of twins.  Perhaps she wanted my (often sarcastic) responses to the typical questions I get when out with my children.  So, before you ask…“Yes, they are identical.  No, neither one is ‘dominant’.  No, they are not complete opposites, nor are they exactly alike.  No, one of them is not evil.  And, yes, they do have different fathers”…sorry, that last one is the answer I typically give out at Walmart, just to see the reactions I get.

Mrs. Okayest may have also wanted me to demonstrate that you can survive twins, but since mine are only eight years old, the jury is still out.  What I do have for you, loyal audience, is a story that recognizes the individuality of twins.  A story that overlooks how similar my boys are in many ways and exemplifies a challenge that any parent can sympathize with.  This is the story of why I had the talk with one of my boys, but not the other.

Yep, you heard me.  The TALK.  I had the TALK with my eight-year-old son.  Are you done gasping in horror?  If so, hear me out.  Maybe it was because the boys are in different classes, possibly exposing Rylan to information that Ramzie was not privy to.  Maybe it was due to the fact that Rylan loves to read – those Captain Underpants books might be a bad influence.  Whatever the reason, this past summer Rylan began bringing up the topic of sex.  At first, I ignored the comments as he appeared to be gauging me for a reaction.  But, when he wrote a story with “sex” in the title, I decided to ask him about it (with the full consent of my husband).

For those of you who do not know me, I taught anatomy and physiology for five years at a private school.  The body, and its functions, do not embarrass me in the least (a handy fact when in the company of children).  I’m pretty comfortable talking about sex and reproduction, as any of my adult students could attest to.  In keeping with my nature, one evening after finding out about the story Rylan wrote, I asked him flat out if he had questions about sex.  Before he answered, I told him to think about it – did he really want to know?  To my surprise, he did.

I won’t go into all the details of our conversation, but I explained to Rylan in simple terms what sex involved and that it was how babies were created.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Rylan got the giggles.  Really got the giggles.
  • I couldn’t explain where the phrase “the talk” came from.  I still don’t have a clue.
  • He said “Ewww”.  A lot.
  • Part of our conversation went like this:

Me:  “Sex is really about intimacy and there are different levels of intimacy.”

Rylan:  “Different levels.  Like in a video game?”

My husband:  “Exactly.  One where you’re always going for the high score.” (As you can see, my husband was extremely helpful during this conversation.)

After the TALK portion of our conversation was over, I had to make it clear to Rylan that this was not information he could share.  Not with his brother, his classmates, etc.  I explained that everyone was ready for this information at different times, and that it was not up to him to determine when that time was.  Since he claimed that I had now scarred him for life, I was pretty sure he would keep this information to himself.

My point in sharing this story is that Rylan, despite his comments, was ready for this information, as indicated by his previous comments and story.  His twin, however, was not.  Ramzie has made no such indications until recently, but is still not quite ready.  As their mom, I have to recognize their rights as individuals and not paint them both with the same brush.  Part of that individuality involves their maturity and knowledge levels.  While Rylan is in no way ‘more mature’ than Ramzie, his knowledge level, for whatever reason, brought him to a place that Ramzie has not yet reached.

Right now you may be thinking that you would never tell your eight-year-old the facts of life – and that’s fine.  As a parent, all you can do is take in all available information and then proceed with what you think is best.  Not what your mom says, not what Dr. Phil encourages and not what you read in the social media.  My gut told me that Rylan would benefit from having the facts and the correct information.  Your gut may tell you something completely the opposite.  That’s the great thing about being the parent – you get to decide.  Just remember to make that decision before his friends or the kids on the bus do it for you.

I’ll leave you with this.  If you have twins, or even just have multiple children, respond to their cues and not the “shoulds” of the polite world.  Remember that each child is different and try not to become entrenched in a timeline set by an older siblings (flashback to my childhood pleas that were often met with “Your sister didn’t get to wear make-up/shave her legs/stay up later until she was ## years old, so you can’t do it either”).  Recognize the cues that they give you and, hopefully, you don’t scar them for life.  Oh, and by the way? Your best friend’s cousin’s sister that has a twin boy and girl does not have identical twins.  If you don’t know why they aren’t identical, call me.  I’ll give you the TALK.

Please Consider Helping My Childhood Friend This Christmas

Dear Readers,

This post is a little different. I am asking for your help. Renee is my childhood friend. She has been through a terrible medical situation. As a Christmas gift to her and her family, I am trying to share their story to help her and her husband and children. Even though this link is to a donation page, I am simply asking you to please consider reading and sharing their story.

Renee’s Story- The Heart of the Family

Renee is an amazing person. She is so positive and happy, even in the face of such pain. She is a great inspiration to me when I am feeling down during a hard day with my three little ones. She always has an encouraging word ready for me! I can vouch that her story is real. If you can forward her story on your blog, webpage, or even your personal Facebook/Twitter/whatever, I would be very grateful.

I have never asked something of my readers before. Thank you for reading. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Love, Melissa