Category Archives: My name is Mommy

Retail therapy.

I haven’t felt the need and/or had time to blog much this week. Normally I would say that was a good thing.

 

We survived the terrible twos, which melted into the terrible threes, and now that we’re two months into four – holy moly.

My daughter is smart, funny, caring and sarcastic. And she is a handful. Four has brought on a whole new set of entertainment and challenges. She’s really realizing she is her own person and can say no and have an opinion (lots and lots and lots of them!) but she still hasn’t yet realized that Mommy is not just an extension of her and that I too, am my own person

 

Well – I used to be before I became a mom.

 

Last night I couldn’t get more than 6 inches away from her without her going into panic mode and getting thisclose to me again. I’m not sure what’s going on there but hopefully we transition back to normal soon. I’ve never been a touchy-feely person and granted I can cuddle my sweet girl like the best of them – last night it was just too.much.love.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m still not feeling all that great. And I’m pretty sure my ovary totally revolted the other night but that’s a post for another day.

I went to Target today. At work, we have a Halloween carnival every year. Halloween is in my top 3 favorite holidays so I get really excited about it. I’m way behind on decorating so I set out on a mission. Target will be the death of me. Why, why, why do they have the “bargain” bins by the door?! Yes $1.00 and $2.50 items are CHEAP but not when they are all so cute that you walk away with 10 items! I can never pull myself away from what seems like a good deal. So I happily shopped. Pumpkin decor – check. Thanksgiving sign – check. Owl – check.

The owl was too cute to leave behind!

Stop judging me.

Surprisingly – Target had no spiderwebs. So I ventured off to Michaels and shopped some more.

It was nice.

I was able to decorate my door before I had to commit back to actually working.

 

 

Yay Halloween! And fall! It’ s the little things right!

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Sunday.

We’re having a lazy day. Katelyn is cuddled up on the couch and Lila is watching TV with her (literally.)

Miles is outside sunning his tummy. Roxy is MIA but that’s nothing new.

We have a lot of stuff to do but that stuff can wait.

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Type A person, Type B Mom.

I read a blog today that really hit home.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melissa-sher/parenting-lessons_b_1796801.html?utm_hp_ref=parents&ir=Parents

True to any decent blog, it made me compare and analyze my life. I spent most of the afternoon typing away at work and over-analyzing the life I’ve created for myself. And for her.

In my day to day life – I feel like I must always been in control. I take on way too much and in general try to be a team player – though I prefer to be in the lead of that team. I exhaust myself frequently and have not drifted far from the perfectionist blood of my youth. I love plowing through a to-do list in as little time as possible. I can be anxious and irritable. Work is work and it must be done. And not only must it be done – it needs to be done well.

My parenting style however is quite different. I’ve never had crazy expectations for K and try to let her just be. And enjoy life. I learned early on that being a full time working mom meant trying to find balance. I struggle every day but I’ve learned it’s okay if the clothes get folded but not put up or a glass sits in the sink over night.

I’ve learned that stained shirts aren’t worth the tears of changing. And that spilled drinks aren’t the end of the world.

Balance is so important but a fit of giggles and snuggling is even more so. When Katelyn grows up – I want her to realize that I worked my ass of to give her a better life. I also want her to know that she too can work her ass off if she wants to. I want her to feel empowered to be whatever she wants to be. But I also want her to remember staying up late cuddling, dancing in the kitchen, playing the same game 50 times.

And I hope she never doubts my love for her – no matter how Type A I can be sometimes.

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Vestibular disease, and dogzheimers, and a brain tumor – oh my!

This blog is quickly turning into the journey of my Penny girl’s final days, weeks, months whatever the case may be.

After my tearful post last weekend we had a rough couple of days Monday and Tuesday. At one point I even called the vet to ask what exactly was required to set up an appointment to put her to sleep. Since we had no definite answers to what was causing her to go downhill so quickly I also spent most of my time when she was sleeping on Google. Because you know, Google is a fantastic diagnostic tool.

What I found was a vet on a message board (Texas Bow Hunters group none the less) who was sweet enough (or stupid enough) to give out his e-mail address to another distressed member of that group. I took a chance and messaged him. The basis of my e-mail was “how do you know when it’s time.”

It was a sniffly e-mail full of details from the past couple of weeks. He was very sweet and replied within minutes and eventually ended up calling me.

In between my e-mail and his response I got down in the floor with her and said “If you want to fight, I will fight.”

And just like that – she got up. I really think she was laying around waiting to die because I was walking around sobbing, waiting for her to die.

We went for a walk in the yard that day. She started eating again. She was still not barking or tail wagging but my girl was up.

Day by day, she became more herself. She started responding to her name. She growled at me when I bent down to pick her up to carry her up the stairs. She made it up by herself after a few attempts. I think the growl was a “back off mom, I can do it” growl as she’s never growled at me before. We’ve taken numerous walks down the block and though they prove exhausting for her, she lights up when she sees her leash. Her night pacing is still going on but she is managing to sleep at times. She even started tolerating Miles more which made me feel way better. He’s been so depressed.

Just as I was feeling more confident – she had another seizure. In true parent denial I was not convinced what happened last Friday was one. But yesterday morning definitely was. I had gone outside with Miles (the other dog child) and heard her tag clicking. I thought she had gotten stuck in a corner so I came inside to bail her out. I found her on the living room floor on her side. She was shaking violently and foam was coming out of her mouth. Thanks to Google I knew not to get anywhere near her mouth but did but my hand on her side and talked to her to let her know I was there. It only went on for about a minute but was earth shaking for me. I told Sam a few days prior if she was having seizures and had another one, then it would be time.

Except it isn’t Penny’s time. Immediately after the seizure she bounced up and went to get her new food dish. Katelyn donated a bowl she got at Sea World (looks like a whale, has a tail) because Penny can carry it in her mouth. She ate breakfast and walked normally.

Another call to the vet was made. He was quiet for a few minutes and he said “I’m pretty sure it’s a brain tumor.” Silence on my end. Dog dementia was horrible enough and I was coming to terms with it. Dementia is not a death sentence. A brain tumor probably is. We discussed options. MRI followed by radiation. We discussed her age and quality of life. The MRI alone at this point is dangerous because it requires anesthesia, as would every single radiation treatment. She clicked her little doxie toes over to where I was sitting and sat next to me. In my head I knew my answer already. Quality of life is much better than quantity. I advised we would just love on her and treat symptoms as needed. The vet said he felt that was the most loving decision.

Last night I took K over to visit her Papa, Granny and Great Aunt Sharon and tried to get Penny in the car. She tried to jump in once but gave up. She wouldn’t let me lift her in the car. We brought her back inside and I left feeling like I had abandoned her.

A week ago I would have felt awful refusing a  treatment option that might buy us a month or two. But when I woke up this morning and my heart did not feel like it was sinking – I know I made the best choice. I want Penny to enjoy the last days of her life. I don’t want her any sicker than she needs to be. I don’t want her to suffer the anxiety of repeat trips to the vet or me trying to cheer her on into the car to go. I want her to eat like crazy (her appetite has been insatiable the past few days – also a sign of brain tumor) and the girl cannot get enough of soft canned food. The Anipryl seems to be working miracles in her cognitive understanding of where and who she is. Of course we don’t know how long we’ll have. The vet said 3 – 6 months. Closer to 6 months with successful treatment. But we don’t know how long she’s had it. So. We’ll enjoy every day that she is enjoying.

She isn’t in any pain. She’s clicking through the house. She howled at a fire engine on Thursday and it was literally the first sound she’s made in two weeks. And it was beautiful.

My heart was broken at the though of losing her. But now that I know the reality of it – I’m enjoying every second of this beautiful baby.

We chose Miles. Penny chose us. And both of their coming home stories are beautiful in their own way. She’s always trusted me with her life and life is what I’ve chosen to give her. We will take it day by day and when she stops enjoying walks, ear scratches and attempting to sneak a bite of cat food – it will be time. And I will be strong enough. I have to be.

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Last Sunday was the last day for the public pools to be open. They had a “doggie splash” and dogs could go. I had looked forward to it for weeks. Penny is my water dog. When she was younger I would take them to a park with a lake and let her off her leash. She would enter the water without being prompted. I prayed all last weekend she would feel good enough to go.

When it was time, she wouldn’t stand up despite seeing her leash. I finally realized it was because Miles was outside and she didn’t want to go alone. Katelyn and Sam had already gotten Miles in the car. I showed her he was going and she perked up and trotted outside. She got in the water, but she didn’t swim. Miles swam which was huge for him. He is my non-water dog. He mostly got in to keep an eye on his little person. Big dogs would approach Penny and she would growl. Not my normal girl.

By Monday morning it was clear something was really wrong. I called the vet back. We went in and sat in the waiting room for 2 hours. Lab work was done. I had a meeting at 1 that I couldn’t miss so he told me to take her home and they would call me if there were any issues. I was cautioned that it looked like she was going blind.

I waited anxiously to call back for the labs. I finally made the call with my heart in my throat. Labs were normal. All of her organs were functioning well and he said he was surprised due to her age. Her CBCs were slightly elevated so he said we should try an antibiotic just to cover bases and I asked to start her on an NSAID for the pain. When Katelyn and I got home that night with her medicine, I found her laying on her bed, on her side. Totally rigid. I fell to the ground crying telling her I was not ready. I managed to get her drink some water and as quickly as she must have fell – she got up and acted fine.

I watched her intently the rest of the week. Thursday I decided she must be going blind. She would wander around the house, get stuck in corners, and approach me slowly. She was having a hard time getting up and once she made it to her feet – her back legs just didn’t seem to want to cooperate.

Friday morning she was the first dog out of the laundry room. But while I was getting ready for work she started throwing up. One of the horrible downsides of my job is that I have to testify in court, frequently. I had court on Friday 60 miles away from home. Before we left she asked go outside. We have a deck and stairs that has gotten increasingly harder to navigate. I said a prayer and let her out.

I cried most of the way to court and prayed that God wouldn’t take her if I wasn’t there. Sam called at lunch to tell me she was under the deck and seemed to be okay. I relaxed a little on the way home.

I got to the house and immediately went in the yard. She hasn’t been coming when I call. Two weeks ago she would come bounding up the stairs just because she heard me shut the car door out front. Miles met me at the door. I called for her and went to check under the deck. No Penny. I went to her shade spot under the tree. No Penny. Heart racing and panic set in. I was so scared she had somehow gotten out and was disoriented.

I ran to the opposite side of the house. Still no Penny. And then I saw her tail. She had gotten stuck between bricks and Sam’s fire pit. I thought she was dead. I put my hand on her back and her tail thumped once. I picked her up and got her in the house.

I laid her on the kitchen floor and started calling other vets for another opinion. Through my tears I finally got someone to agree to see her on a Friday evening. The vet was in surgery but sees a lot of senior dogs. It would be an hour but bring her in.

I went and picked K up from pre-school. I wasn’t sure if Penny would be alive when I got home. I left her laying on the floor, head tilted sharply to the side, panting frantically.

When we got back I found her laying in a pool of urine and vomit. I grabbed a blanket and we got her in the car. By the time we got her to the vet’s office she was able to walk on her own and was fairly content to lay in my lap in the waiting room. Two hours later we finally got in.

I immediately told him I wasn’t sure our vet’s diagnosis was right and something was horribly wrong. He agreed. He said while she did have some signs of aging in her eyes, she was not blind. The event that had happened earlier was likely a seizure. I started discussing other symptoms and he put his hand on my shoulder. “I think your dog has Canine Cognitive Disorder.” The tears started to come. He went on to explain that it’s a severe form of aging in pets. Dementia. It used to be called Old Dogs Disease and was just thought to be aging. But it really isn’t. He advised there was a medication available but that it was expensive and might not work. He further cautioned that he didn’t even carry the medication and we would probably have to order it online. Her symptoms would continue to get worse as it is progressive. Since it came on fast, it was progressing quickly. He advised there was no way to know if she had suffered any brain damage from the seizure without an MRI but that we were at a point where anesthesia for that was just not a good option.

In shock, I asked him how I would know. I made a promise to Miles and Penny years ago that I would always love them. That they would never been thrown away. They would always be with me. And I promised I would let them go when the time was right.

Through tears when I asked, she turned around and licked my face. He softly said “That’s how you know it’s not today.” The vet tech helped me out the door with tears in her eyes.

So we drove around for awhile because she seemed to enjoy the car ride. And then we went to Sonic.

I brought her home feeling numb. Sam took Katelyn to the park and I collapsed in the floor sobbing. It was a gut wrenching deep chest aching cry and I’ve only experienced that a couple of times in my life. I felt as though my heart was ripped from my body.

I started researching our options. While the medicine is expensive, it is FDA approved and I could not find a single negative review about it online. I prepared myself that while it might not extend her life, it might bring her back to me for whatever time she has left. I prayed that they would be open on a Saturday. I called at 8 am. The receptionist who had been so wonderful the day before advised that she knew I would be calling. They already had a bottle ready to go for Penny. She called around and found another vet who had it in stock and picked it up for us.

We started the Anipryl yesterday. I feel like my heart is shattering. She is not the same girl. She paces the house with a blank stare. She hasn’t wagged her tail with purpose in days. At times she seems to come back for a minute and responds to her name. Yesterday morning she would yelp out like she was in pain. Poor Miles would run to check on her and she would start growling at him. I’ve had to keep them separated for the most part and his heart is hurting too.

I cannot fathom life without her. I’ve tried to be strong. I’ve prayed and prayed that she will pass away in her sleep. I’ve told Sam I will be with her until the end but he will have to go. I cannot be the one to give the go ahead to put her to sleep.

This morning she took her second dose of Anipryl and is cuddled up on her bed resting. I don’t know how much time we have but I’m trying to memorize her fur, her scent, her eyes. I am going to miss her forever.

The end of the road.

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Birthday letter to my (not so) Little.

Katelyn Anne,

Tomorrow you will be 4 years old. 4 years ago tonight I was pacing our house nervously staring at my bulging baby belly trying not to panic about my looming C-section. I was technically supposed to be on bed rest but at that point I just couldn’t stay still. I remember sleeping about 2 hours that night because I was so excited to meet you. I was worried about the surgery, I was worried about myself, but most of all I was worried that my body was no longer a safe place for you. I couldn’t believe it was finally time to meet you. And I have to admit I was a little excited that your very large baby head would no longer be stuck in my ribs.

It was a long horribly scheduled morning with more waiting and eventually panicking nurses because my blood pressure was so high they thought I was going to have a stroke.

And it was finally time. Your dad and I walked down the hall and close behind were Mimi, Papa and Grandpa Tom and Grandma Susan. Everyone was so anxious and ready to meet you.

Daddy didn’t get to go back with me while they got me ready for the surgery and I think that was the scariest few minutes of my life. They got me ready and had me on the table and I told the anesthesiologist I thought I was feeling nauseated and then they flipped me over and it was pretty much a blur.

Daddy came in and sat with me. Your dad swore he would not look (he has a weak stomach sometimes as you now know…) and I looked up and could see the reflection of my prepped belly in the lights above me so I told Daddy to make me look at him. Once they got started, Daddy lost his mind and stood up to watch.

Daddy saw the whole thing. Surprisingly he was not that traumatized. Pretty soon my doctor was saying “big butt!” and I was warned I would feel some pain when they lifted my ribs and you were out. And you cried. And I cried.

I barely got to see your nose before they made you and Daddy leave. You were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. So much more beautiful than I had ever pictured you would be.

And in that second I saw your nose I knew I was more in love with you than any person or thing that I’ve ever loved.

And then I didn’t see you again for almost 8 hours.

The next time we met, it was love.

And it’s never stopped.

Every day you’ve done something that’s made me smile and laugh. You are one of the most intelligent kids I’ve ever met (and that’s not even me being biased!) You are funny, you are strong willed and I cannot wait to watch you grow up to be the amazing woman I know you will be.

I’ve tried to enjoy every day, every milestone because I know life moves so fast. And to think Mommy never believed people when they said how fast children grew up until I had you.

It’s bittersweet for me because you’ll probably be my only little and I think that’s made me selfish sometimes because I just don’t want you to grow up too fast.

I want you to run and play and be captivated by rain, and stars, and everything you think is magical right now. Pretty soon you’ll be old enough to think that I’m not silly anymore and I think that’s probably when I’ll know I’ve done a good job. You are such an amazing child (I can’t say toddler anymore!) and I am so, so proud of you.

And I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things you will learn and do now that you’re 4!

Happy Birthday my not so little anymore.

 

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