Monday, January 12, 2015

Goodbye Chicken

My girl Chicken died on the weekend. She was my first baby. She was there through those difficult years of infertility. 

I had to make the difficult decision to have her euthanize. Stick with that decision when the receptionist at the vet kept asking if I was "sure". Take her to the vet and watch her die. 

I hope I did right by her. She was 19. Her kidneys were failing. Her heart was failing. Her quality of life was evaporating quickly. 

She was my girl. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

toddler narrative

The Holidays have been a gong show. Are they over yet? I can't wait to go back to my stressful job for a rest.

I will not support the gong show assertion with very many facts*, save for this story.

On December 27, my daughter fell about 10 feet in a stair/window well while under my mother's watch. It's hard to explain how this could happen, except to say that her cottage isn't up to code.** I saw it all happen out of the corner of my eye, and just lost my mind. Before I knew it, I was running out of the cottage with my daughter in my arms. Let's just say that if she had had a spinal injury, I would have added great insult to injury.

Let me save you the worry. Gummy Girl is 100% fine.

We think she fell backwards inside this stair/window well, hit her bum on the ledge of the window and fell face first onto a carpeted landing. She cried (euphemism for screamed bloody murder) in my arms and then opted to lie face down on the floor, just like after she dry-heaved last week when she had the stomach flu. We were gathering all our things to go to the ER, but within 10 minutes, she rallied. She wanted to eat, was lively and chatty and giggly. And then after supper, she started dancing. So, I opted to monitor her at home, knowing all the signs for concussions and not having any evidence that she had other injuries.

I could not look at my mother that night. I just took care of my daughter, made a token appearance at dinner and went to bed (right next to the crib). Anger is an absolute taboo for my mother, and so in the midst of my deep worry, I had to keep reminding myself that my anger was appropriate and entirely ok. I felt very alone, as I often do these days, but I tried my best to be on my own team, to try to help myself process this as best I could so that I could help my kid (and thankfully, through text, I had access to my dearest friend who said all the right things and made me feel so much less alone).

My mother's own adaptive processes dictate that she sweep everything meaningful and negative under a huge carpet of denial/dismissal. So the next day, we were NOT talking about the incident.

Well, my darling 22-month-old toddler whose language is exploding right now had other plans. She needed to process it. BIG TIME. For the remaining 3 days of the trip (and even now that we are back home), GG has been going up and down the stairs saying: "Boom-boom. Gummy fall. OW!" And again and again. I engaged her in it, with words and pantomime, using a stuffed giraffe she got for Christmas to recreate the incident. She watched closely, repeating her narrative LOUDLY. My poor mother's rug was being pulled open.***

Today, GG continued to talk about the fall. "Boom-boom. Gummy fall. OW!", but added "ok." It's difficult to convey the sentiment without the right intonations, but if I were to describe each part of the narrative, it would go like this: "ominous-grim-screetching-assuaging." I just wish I could help her understand the causes of the fall a little better, but I'm not sure I know how.

It is astonishing to see her work through this. If you want to read more about how to help kids process difficult events in their lives, I would recommend this book. I like the idea that children need help to knit together pieces of information that don't fit with their understanding of life thus far. A toddler's narrative for a fall isn't very sophisticated, but Oh boy! it's so useful to her. I will continue to help her work through the big fright she had this week, but I feel like she is well on her way to integration of an incongruous event into her young psyche. (ok, that was a pretty shrinky think to say).

And I guess that's what we do when we write (including blogging). We try to knit all the threads together so that they make sense. And a lot of what we go through in this community does not make sense. Thankfully, we write. And we have each other to help recount, reflect and enhance each other's narratives. Powerful stuff.

* Because it would involve a SHITLOAD of complaining, and that does not make for a very interesting blog post. 
** And apparently, neither are her parenting skills. loud snort. 
*** I understand that she does this because she feels so much shame, which makes me feel empathy for her. At the same time, I suffered under her reign of denial, so it's also very freeing to see my daughter not stand for it.