The Eye Exam.

A couple months ago we noticed that The Dude’s eyes were appearing crossed when he was trying to focus on things.  Usually, if he is in his high chair and trying to focus on something across the room, such as the television, or if he’s trying to focus on us, we’d notice one eye cross a bit.

At his routine checkup with his pediatrician, he passed his vision screening, but we told her we were concerned about the crossing or lazy eye, and she referred us to a pediatric ophthalmologist.  (Sidenote: Let’s take a moment and talk about how grateful I am  for a pediatrician who does NOT dismiss our concerns, even if she doesn’t see the same need.  I learned when battling infertility that being on a team with your doctors is key.  And that if they don’t listen to you, they aren’t the doctor FOR you.  So shoutout to Dr. M for listening and acting)

Alright, so this week, after a ridiculously long wait for the appointment to arrive (about a month), we had The Dude’s eyes checked.

Now, in my mind, I remember going to the eye doctor as a child, and what I remember is a nice doctor showing me some cards, asking me to look in certain directions, and an overall pleasant experience where it was discovered that yes, I did need glasses.

This was not that.

We did start with a rather pleasant nurse, who asked us a few questions about our own vision and medical history, along with any genetic issues we were possibly aware of.  The Dude was pleasant, playful and happy, though still a bit shy.  After she left the room, however, he was all about exploring and wanted to fully investigate every piece of equipment available, including the doctor’s chair.20180223_115041

We waited about 15 minutes or so, and then the doctor arrives.  She came in like a gust of wind, with her lab coat flailed out behind her and her words coming out quickly and I knew, somehow, that this was about to be an experience.  First of all, the babe instantly clammed up, as he tried to adjust to this frantic paced energy, and he instantly squeezed his eyes shut when she began to try and take a look.  After about the third time he buried his head into my armpit rather than allow her to see his eyes, she starts rattling off some other ideas about things to try, and presses a remote that activates a little barking dog robot on the wall.  He could have given a crap less about the dog, and is pulling my hair by this point.

Almost immediately, she decided that this wasn’t working, and that she’d have to dilate his eyes to do a full exam.  Assuring us that she does this procedure on babies as small as preemies, she let us know that a nurse would be coming in to administer a few drops of anesthetic and then drops to dilate his pupils.  Keep in mind, after a 15 minute wait to see her, this all happens in a span of like 4 minutes.  She’s out of the room almost as fast as she entered, and he is calm yet again.20180223_114526.jpg

When the new nurse comes in, she is friendly, but lets us know that he is not going to like her very much, and that she’s sorry about it.  She instructs us to hold him down as she administers the drops, and as expected, he is LIVID.  But when she’s done, even as he’s still crying, we hear him exclaim “YAY”, and he’s happy and smiling once more.  This is repeated once more, with another pleasant nurse, in the span of 20 minutes as one of his eyes doesn’t dilate.  And again, once all is said and done, he’s a happy baby.

And here’s where things start to suck.

When Dr. Quickshot comes back, she notices that yet again, he’s clammed up and won’t allow her to actually look into his eyes.  She decides we have to move to the “procedure room” where they can lie him down on a table and get a better look at his pupils.  Once in this room, my husband and I, along with the two nurses, are told that we’ll need to hold him down AGAIN, so that she can finally see.

When I tell you I was internally freaking out, while trying to remain calm on the outside.  I held him, watching every part of the procedure, where they used tools to keep his eyes open, which again they assured us wasn’t hurting him thanks to the anesthetic, and I held back my own tears while trying to keep saying, “You’re doing so good, Dude!  You’re alright!”  I felt my husband bury his head into the back of my shoulder because he couldn’t deal.  And I gotta tell you…at this moment of the appointment, with this brusque doctor shining things into my son’s eyes, and my husband’s hand clinching my back, and my child’s scared face burned into my memory forever,….I descended into my own sunken place.

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I began to examine my journey as a parent, question my decision to allow this all to take place, and wonder how I’ll feel if at the end of all this torment, my baby’s eyes are perfectly normal and should have just been left the hell alone. Should I have said something before we got to this point?  Is this actually normal?  What the hell is going on? From down in these depths of doubt and sadness, where I’m barely drowning out his screaming, I finally hear the doctor say,

“it’s a good thing you brought him in.  He is severely farsighted in both eyes.  He’s going to need glasses.  And he’s going to need to wear them all the time.”

And still holding back my tears, I am relieved.  NOT that he needs glasses, but that I was correct in following my instincts.  That I hadn’t put him through this whole ordeal for nothing.  They let him up, and again through his own tears he says, “Yay”, and “All done”, and finally, most humorously, “BYE BYE!”.

We leave with a prescription for pretty thick glasses, a +6, which she says is about 4 points higher than most, and a list of pediatric eye wear companies.  The nurses are visibly shaken and one even tells us how sorry she is to have had to make him cry.   He gets stickers and sunglasses, and is happy and smiling once again.

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Once in the car, he is happy and singing, and I sing with him, and play his music over the bluetooth, and I tell him how great a job he did and that he’s a tough guy.  But we don’t pull off right away.  Instead we sit, and we try and calm down, and I see my husband’s eyes well up, and I tell him, “There’s some consolation in knowing that there was a problem and we didn’t ignore it.  And he’s fine, and we did a good job, and the right thing.”

They drop me off at work.  Where I go to my desk, and I’m glad it doesn’t face the public, or anyone else really.  Because I finally let myself deal with the procedure, and the fear I saw in his eyes, and the realization of how hard it’s been for him to see clearly.   And I cry for a few minutes, before taking on the bravery of my toddler, and pressing forward.

Parenting is rough.

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Today’s #MomFail

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See those?

Those are our baby shower thank you cards.  We held off until after Babe’s birth to make them, so that we could include a photo of him as a nice gift in return. Which still took us a little longer  to order because we needed to be able to afford them.

This is March.  Babe is 9 months old.  These are in his closet…

And what really makes this an ultimate fail, is that I’ve tried multiple times to get these darn things out.

I had family over to help us fill them out.  Nothing got accomplished.

I had times set for my husband and I to work on them.  Nothing got accomplished.

I sat down and worked on them myself. I think I got 10 done and then fell asleep.

And so, here they still are.   I feel extremely bad about them sitting there, and then I tell myself to just DO IT!  And then the Babe wants something, and I lose track of it all over again.

Also, there’ve been some instances where I’ve handed cards to people and watched as they kind of sat it aside or put it in their purse, never to be seen again.  And here I was having etiquette panic attacks.

So, I’m sharing this fail as a reminder to me and YOU, that as terrible as it feels, life goes on.

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Everybody Ain’t Able…

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I hate phrases like, “in this climate” but that’s what I gotta use.

In this climate, it can be extremely difficult to control what gets in.  Into our newsfeeds and personal spaces.  Into our thoughts, and onto our personal playlists.  Add to that people’s insatiable need to “SHARE” all of their feelings and thoughts, as well as every Buzzfeed list or salacious headline they can think of, and it can be a 24 hour battle to keep from retreating into a dark closet and humming to oneself.

I wish people understood that everything THEY can handle, isn’t what others can.
What you can joke about, because you’ve already digested it, can be choking for others.

When the world is going crazy, I tend to retreat.  I never had a word for it before, but it’s apparently been a part of my  (attn: buzzword) “Self-Care” regimen to find ways to distract myself and soothe my discomfort by overdosing on comedy and reality competition shows.  Also with wine.  Lots of wine.

As a new mother, however, I’ve found that where I want to shut down, there’s a small person with no concept of these anxieties who will want to eat and play and be a brat regardless.  He does not give me the luxury of checking out.  He has repeatedly saved me from myself from the very moment I knew he was coming.

I want so much for him.  I want him to be happy and strong, kindhearted and genuine.  I want him to grow to become successful by his own standards, and care for others with a pure heart.  I want him to have a wonderful life. And having gone through IVF to get him here, I feel an insurmountable responsibility to get that for him.  To make him happy, and to feel that I have not done this beautiful soul a grand disservice by creating him.

So in this climate, there’s that stupid phrase again, where people are so riled up, and there’s terror at every turn, and the world seems to want us all scared to move two steps near or from one another, I struggle with motherhood.  I struggle with my responsibility to continue to smile and mark his every milestone, while simultaneously being confused and scared and unsure.  I wonder how my mother, and so many mothers before her faced the reality of the world they’ve brought children into, while also smiling and loving us.

When I look into my son’s eyes, I feel rocked to my core with all the weight that’s been assigned to him before he even knows it.  Being black in America.  Being a black MALE in America.  Being a black male in an America where you have to explain why #BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean other lives don’t.  Being a black male in an America where you have to explain #BlackLivesMatter AND why Donald Trump is NOT presidential in any sense of the word.  But I digress.  I feel so very guilty for bringing him here.  I want to scoop him into my arms and just return him to the safety of my heart.  But I can’t.  I have to teach him how to not only exist in this world, but to THRIVE in it.  And I have no idea how to do it.

I’m working hard at self-care.  I’m also working hard at “looking for the helpers” as Mister Rogers taught me to do.  I’m working hard at finding HOPE and instilling it in others.

I’m working hard because it helps me look the babe in his face and not fall apart.  Because I owe it to him, after moving Heaven and Earth it felt like to make him, to continue to build the world that he’s going to inherit.  He deserves everything I can give to him.  Everything I can find in the world for him.

And I guess I’ve said all that to say this,

Everybody ain’t able to jump headfirst into these volatile conversations right now, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t working our butts off. We’ve got a village to build and leaders to inspire.

Stay encouraged, family.

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