Into the Mirror and Outward

I had problems as a child. I never wanted to admit it to  anyone. I was like Evan, except for the school issues. In school, I can literally remember getting my name on the board one time, and I cried for the rest of the day. In high school, I got one detention, and even the teacher knew I didn’t belong there, and instead gave me his car keys, his credit card, and a list and sent me to a nearby grocery store instead of sitting silently like the other kids. That’s it.

But when I would get home? I would explode on my parents. Especially my mother, because my father would “discipline” me in a way that left bruises for weeks. When I was in junior high school, I was so upset by the way my mom and dad failed to understand me that I took an entire bottle of Advil, thinking it would kill me. Somewhere around that time, I cut my wrists with the superficiality of someone crying out, not the deep jaggedness of someone who meant business. I just wanted someone to understand me. And I can date it even earlier than that. My mother was so used to hearing nothing but praise at parent-teacher conferences that she considered it a huge waste  of her time to go to them. Until third grade, when Mrs. Holbrook told her she saw something in me that was a little off, and recommended a psychologist. Mom was furious and wanted to know what she saw in me that nobody else did, and insisted the woman was crazy. Looking back, Mrs. Holbrook was right, mom was in denial of the way I acted at home, and I think afraid of the stigma of mental health issues that still exist today, let alone 1985. We didn’t have labels for everything. And then there is the gifted classes, that label, that left me feeling alienated from my peers.

I still have those feelings today. In the way it is unpleasant for me to make eye contact with others. In the way I feel awkward socially, and over compensate by being too boisterous, too loud. It is in the way I cannot handle certain things and lash out to the ones closest to me. Evan has the Titanic, but when I was his age, I had the Holocaust, and even arranged for a survivor to come and speak to my gifted and talented class as part of an independent project. I never studied. Never. Straight A’s come so easily because I can just listen, and on test day, can play back the information like a recording. It almost seemed like cheating. And if I don’t use the mental tape recorder trick, well, I can close my eyes and  see the meticulously prepared study guide. Not that I studied it. Just writing it out was enough, organized into sections by study points, to where, on test days, I could close my eyes and zoom into the exact section that has the information on it that I need to recall to answer the question at hand. It is as real as zooming in on a detail with the view finder of a camera. I was that way through high school, my first attempt at college, and respiratory school. It benefits me in my current career because I can still do this with notes and texts from respiratory school, even 6 years out.

And I remember when they told us they thought Evan was so gifted. I cried. I didn’t want him to be like I was as a kid. It was too hard. Because I didn’t have a label back then, but I knew that something was always off just  a little bit. Something made me not normal. I buried it, though, fooling myself that we all feel that way at times. That there is nothing special or unusual about me. I just have a really good memory.

And now here we are. We’re going through this stuff with Evan, and I am doing all of this research. And did you know that there are quizzes and questionairres online to see if you could possibly have Asperger’s Syndrome? And as I was reading, I started to read stuff that seemed more familiar than just seeing them in Evan. And I was taken back to my childhood. I can honestly remember all the way back to preschool. Learning Station One in Cincinnati, which had a real live caboose on its playgorund in front of the school, hence the name. I remember learning to read there when I was three. I remember my favorite pink overalls that I loved so much that mom bought the same pair in lavendar. I remember the day before preschool when I was with Mom at Burger Chef before it became Hardee’s, and then Carl’s Jr. And I went up to the manager to inquire why it was “Burger Chef, like “shy”, Not Burger CHef, like in “cheese”.   I was three fucking years old. And not only did I have a grasp of the language enough to figure out the inconsistency, but I fucking remember it as if it happened yesterday instead of 32 years ago. I can close my eyes and see what my mother was wearing that day. And we went through a different letter of the alphabet everyday, moving on to sounds when the alphabet had been used up. And each day, the snack and art project would involve that letter or sound. I remember being so excited for the letter C because everyone knows C is for cookie, and I would be getting a cookie. I was pissed when I got a different C food that day: carrots. See, I remember it all.

So I started taking these quizzes along with Evan. And everyone of them said the same thing: I could possibly have Asperger’s and to see a psychologist. Not Evan. Me. They said the same about Evan. There was one that sparked intense debate here, because of the questions. And it went something like this:

A man goes to buy a smoothie, and is thirsty, so he asks for the biggest one they have. The cashier tells him that they large one now comes in a collector’s cup. He says he doesn’t give a damn about the cup, he just wants the largest smoothie. Sure enough, it comes in the collector’s cup. So the question is did he get the cup intentionally? Now consider this…

The same man goes to the same smoothie shop and again, asks for the biggest smoothie they have. The cashier tells him that the large smoothie is now a dollar more. He says he doesn’t care about price, he just wants the biggest smoothie. So the cashier gives him the smoothie and he payes the dollar more for it. Did he intentionally pay a dollar more?

Evan and I said no, that the cup and the dollar more were both unintentional. He just wanted the biggest smoothie and the dollar more and the cup came as consequences for getting the biggest smoothie. John argued with this, stating that the cup was unintentional and the dollar more was intentional. WTF? Evan and I couldn’t understand this. John argued that he could have opted for the smaller smoothie and not paid the dollar more. But if this is the case, he could have opted for the smaller smoothie and not gotten it in a fucking special cup. Anyhow, apparently the fact that Evan and I both could not process this information like John means that we are likely to have Asperger’s Syndrom while John answered the way normal people do. Stupid test.

So what of it? What if Evan has Asperger’s? What if I do? Well, if I do, he is more likely to as a genetic link exists. Does it mean we are mentally retarded? Does it mean anything at all? If I am interpreting the information I have taken in, it means we just think differently than others. That can be bad, as in social difficulties, and it could be good. It is thought that Einstein, Newton, Bill Gates, Mozart, and more of our greats have had or do have the disorder. The greats of our society, which is most likely one of the reasons that one author even attributed it to Darwinian evolution of the species. As in survival of the fittest. And “Aspies” right there in the center of it all.

It still is up in the air how I will handle it if Evan is diagnosed. I have my hunches as a mother, but actually having a psychologist tell us he has it without question is another thing altogether. Does it mean he is disordered? That I am? Did I somehow cause this as I have parented him? Didn’t I love him enough? (If this notion seems ridiculous, I urge you to google “Refridgerator Mothers and Autism”.) Or does it mean that, with proper direction and management of symptoms, the kid could be in a class with the above-mentioned people? I don’t know that I want that for Evan.

Happy. Healthy. Normal. That’s what I want for my child. For myself. But is there such a thing as normal these days?


The First and (Hopefully) Last Time?

Zach in motion, thus the blur.

Today, we made a last-minute run to the doctor’s office after Zach spiked a 102-degree fever. Motrin and a tepid bath helped, but then he was fussy, pulling at his ears, and refusing to eat or drink. I’ve been to this show before and recognized an ear infection, so off we went. Of course the minute we got there, he was fine and wanting to have a run of the office, as you can see by the blur. He charmed everyone, even the med student and third year resident, who conjured up a stuffed animal after making him cry during an ear exam. Yup. Otitis media. And he still had a low-grade fever, despite the bath and Motrin. At least he didn’t make a complete liar out of me. If you are new to the kid thing, they tend to do that. They’ll act crazy-sick and once in front of healthcare professionals, they are suddenly cured and running all over the place. At least Zach left some evidence.

He must already feel better. He’s still a little warm, but he finally ate something and drank about 4 ounces of apple juice. He’s now in bed, and his red, feverish cheeks break my heart. He is so sweet, and I just want to make it go away for him. Unfortunately I cannot, and thus we have amoxicillin.

While I feel bad for the poor little guy, I feel so appreciative of the gift of Zach’s health. Other than a couple of episodes of wheezing, we have never had to deal with him being sick at all. What baby never gets a cold, ear infection, stomach virus???? Evan was a picture of health as well, but even Evan got one ear infection and one stomach virus during his infancy. Just one of each, but still he had them. Zach is almost 16 months and nothing until today. We are so lucky. It could’ve been so different.

Other than this, there is nothing new to report. My thoughts are with friends who were in Irene’s path. I know some are still without power, had damages to their homes. I have a lot of friends on the east coast, and I am glad for their safety. And beyond that? Well, school, school, school. I swear this term is going to completely do me in.

This is My ‘Fridge.

You know how people put braggy Mommy stuff on the fridge? A homework assignment done well, an aced test? Well I don’t get to do that because my stuff is all online. Well, that, and I am an adult. But dammit, nobody ever sees my work. So this past weekend, I was checking the grade book to see how I did on my latest paper, only to get this little note. And because I have nothing left to report, I am going to share it with you all. Lucky you!


Excellent job Andrea.  You demonstrated your knowledge of the correct formula to use, arrived at correct answer, and gave correct recommendation. You did an outstanding job on the formulation problem.  . .Appearance wise, your paper is a superior looking product acceptable in the business world. Your paper content follows the assignment with appropriate headings and subheadings. .Your APA format was excellent.  You demonstrated a mastery of all APA style and format functions.  Excellent writing quality. This is very acceptable in the job market for management level position. You demonstrated a Senior college level grammar; no grammar errors. Your paper  clearly described the service related value chain. You addressed all of the major steps, with logical explanations to what should/should not be outsourced. You did an excellent job describing the major elements of this service related value chain. Your evaluation of the elements for possible outsourcing and supporting justification was excellent as well. .Excellent job of clearly describing the product related value chain, from beginning to end; no steps missing, with logical explanations to what should/should not be outsourced. You did an excellent job describing the major elements of this product related value chain. Your evaluation of the elements for possible outsourcing and supporting justification was excellent as well.  Service company answer depth and quality (25%)-  25 pts. Product company answer depth and quality (25%)- 25pts.  Make vs. Buy Problem (20%)- 20pts. Format: easy to follow (10%)- 10pts.Follows APA Style and Formatting (10%)- 10 pts.      

Supermarket Hell

My name is Andrea, and I am a moron.

Why am I a moron? Because I went to the grocery store tonight. With everyone. I thought I would be okay. I really did. We went to the store that has those mini shopping carts for Evan. Not the plastics ones, but the ones that are exact replicas of the big carts. We stopped at  a restaurant to feed the boys first, thereby eliminating Zachy meltdowns, and away we went.

And it worked. Smooth sailing as I went to the baby aisle to get diapers and wipes refills. And to the detergent aisle to get…well, detergent. And dish soap, and more hair elastics for moi. I was doing great. And I was starting to feel all smug and uber-Mom-ish. And then we made the mistake of going into the ice cream aisle. And despite my protests that, “No, Evan. That is not good for our bodies”, my oldest child started to run with his little mini cart. To which Zach responded by trying to turn around in the cart, going “BaBaaaaa?”. And then, while he was turned around, he happened to notice that, hey, there’s stuff  in there behind me. And he started to try to reach into the depths of the cart to retrieve what I could only assume was the most fascinating fucking packaging ever because the little one almost fell out of the damned cart a gajillion and one times. And then Evan got more bored as the Mario-Andretti-hits-the-Supermarket act got old. So he started reciting what he saw on the shelves like he was announcing fabulous prizes on a damned game show. “And what do we have here? Why it’s pepperoni sticks, folks. Made by Hormel for the price of $3.29!”.

Yeah, I’m not kidding.

So John and I develop this dance: Since I cannot take a hand off of Zach, he steps to the cart when I stop, so his protective hand replaces mine, freeing me to step to the shelves and do silly Mom stuff like read nutrition information or compare prices. Once done, I resume my place as restraint of the Zachary, and off we go. In the meantime, Evan gets tired of Gameshow routine and has now caught a case of the “Can-I-Can-I-Can-I’s”. Can I have the all Crunchberry cereal? The Pop Tarts, the chocolate chip waffles? Can I have this Hot Wheel? How about this brand of pizza because I don’t like the whole wheat crust you picked out? But Mo-oooooom, I will die if you don’t pack a Lunchable in my lunch every day.”

All while I’m trying to keep Zach’s head from splattering on the floor while keeping track of my non-list in my head, accompanied by the budget I have set for myself. (By the way, why is it that in my probable OCD state, I make lists all the time, but I never. ever make grocery lists?) So what does Uber-Mom do in this situation? Well she turns it into a lesson, of course. About sugar and the Krebs Cycle and cell metabolism. How we don’t need that sugar, and though whole wheat tortillas/ bread/ pasta/ pizza crust may not taste exactly like the crappy white kind, it is better for our bodies because it isn’t refined and over-processed, contains dietary fiber, which prevents heart disease. Blah blah blah. I might as well have sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. You know.  Wa Wa Wa Wa Waaaaaaah.  And in the meantime Zach is getting antsy and fussy because, dammit, he still cannot get at the bright packaging that has now been covered with healthy food choices, much to Ev’s dismay, So I get the brilliant idea to let John push the cart while I hold Zachy’s hand and let him walk throught the store with me.


Because now not only can Zach see the bright packaging on the shelves, but he can reach it too. Smart one on my part. I tried to distract him by handing him a bag of pretzels to carry. He got pissed instead, throwing the pretzels to his feet and giving me that Zachy grunt that basically means, “Go to hell, Mom.” He wouldn’t budge from his spot. He wanted to get at the stuff. I tried to pick him up, but he screamed and flailed and arched his back, and I was afraid I was going to drop him. So instead, I grabbed some Goldfish crackers from the shelf, ripping open the bag like the cure for cancer was in it and I was Stage 4. And I proceeded to back my ass through the store while luring Zach with “pish crackers”. Think Hansel and Gretel with their bread crumbs, only I didn’t throw them on the floor, but instead held them out for Zach to see. Sure enough, offer him food, and he will come running. The benefit is that this little song and dance distracted me from the Can-I’s from Evan.

Lo and behold, we made it to the checkout before Zach threw himself prostrate on the floor in a screaming hissy fit. I hissed at John to give me the shopper’s card and the debit card and sweep and remove. Meaning: “Take his screaming ass to the car! Now!” He did, but he took forever. And Zach’s screams could be heard for miles. In the meantime, Evan is emptying his mini cart onto the belt. But not the normal way. Nope. He’s tossing frozen pizzas like frisbees, shouting, “I’m the PIZZA MASTER!”. And I must look like I am about to die as I hand the cashier the open bag of pish crackers to ring up, explaining that I was desperate.

“Honey, don’t feel bad. Earlier, we had a mom in here who had to open a gallon of milk and give her kids Lunchables to get through the store.”

At least I’m not the only one.

What about you? Do your shopping trips involve extreme tactics? If not, how do you do it?

Testing 1, 2, 3

Gah! I am so frustrated! As many of you know, Evan has had some difficulties of the behavioral variety. And we have Children’s Hospital just right there. In other words, the best of the best for just about anything that can go wrong with a child. It all started with ADHD and medications from the family doctor over 3 years ago. Ritalin of varying dosages, Adderall, Straterra, Concerta, back to Adderall. Sometimes it works for just a bit before it stops working. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. And I swear Straterra made it worse. But somethings amiss. This is not simple ADHD, and after fighting this for years, I told my doctor, who made a referral to Children’s. While I was pregnant and on bedrest. And they were booked. I settled for someone else with horrible results. So we tried Children’s. Again, no appointments, and this time they advised me to call every day to see if they had cancellations, but they were booked too far out to schedule something. Again, I gave up until I tried again. More referrals, even though my insurance doesn’t require it because I elected the most expensive, most comprehensive big-dog policy. No dice. And this shit has been going on for a couple of years. I try everything for Ev. And this year, when he started school, I was optimistic that he would have a better year with his new teacher.

Until she escorted Evan out to the car after school so she could talk to us. He’s being awful in class, according to her, and I am at a loss. Do I believe Evan, who has a track record of manipulating us? Or do I believe the teacher, who may or may not have some bias against Evan in such a small, intimate school? Whatever I should do, I know one thing: I cannot do this anymore. I cannot fight Evan and satisfy the school that while his behavior is atrocious, we really are trying anything and everything here at home. I cannot deal with the turmoil that arises from telling Evan it is time for homework/ dinner/ bed/ to come inside/ to take a shower. I can’t take the yelling and the blood-curdling, murder-movie screaming. The pounding on walls intentionally to piss off the neighbors during his rages. The lashing out at John and John losing his cool because it really is beyond human ability to tolerate this shit day in and day out for literally years of your life when you have no other outlet, when home is your job and there is no escape. At least I get to go to work. But even so, I cannot take the lack of decompression all of us humans need. I work, sometimes under extreme stress, and I come home to more stress from school. And to comound it all, there is no peace in my home, the one place I should be able to relax and unwind and take a deep breath…

We called the school. We hated to, but we have our backs against a wall with nowhere to go. We told them we were going to have to take Evan out of the private school and put him in public school. To which the principal told us not to and wanted to know what was going on. She knows us well. I told her that at least the public schools have special education for kids with problems, should Evan need that. And she sounded like she was about to cry when she told me Evan is way too gifted to do that to him, and that he will get lost in the shuffle or mixed up with the wrong kids. And she’s right, but what else can I do? So we devised  a plan that breaks my heart. The next time Evan was to have one of his rages, we were to take him to the Children’s ER. Maybe then he would get seen, even if it meant he would have to be hospitalized first. How? How could I do that? How could I take my precious child to a psych ward? How? Someone please tell me. But then I got an idea, and I called Children’s 24-hours emergency intake line. And I unloaded it all to them: the breakdowns, the behavior, the manipulation. Everything. And they put me on hold while a guy got on the phone. And I told him. And the end result is that Evan has an appointment on September 6th. Yeah, just like that. Why couldn’t they do that 2 years ago? So what is the game plan?

My soon-to-be-10-year-old baby is going to be evaluated for Asperger’s Syndrome. Because I think he has it. Because his principal, though admitting she is not a mental health professional, say Asperger-like traits in Evan as well. What are they?

Well, all of this time, Evan has never been able to make friends his age. He flocks to adults or little kids, but never his peers. If he is invited somewhere, he is never invited back. This has always been the case, but we thought it was his high IQ.

He is too rigid. He seems to handle change on the surface, but if you look back later, you can see a sort of unraveling in Evan. When I graduated and started working the hours I do. When John stopped working and started staying home with him. When I got pregnant and put on bedrest. When Zach arrived.

He is afraid of everything. Last year, John’s mom came for a visit and they all went to an amusement park for a day. Evan had such a meltdown out of fear for a kiddie ride, that they had to shut the ride down to get him off of it. A kiddie ride. This summer, while he was visiting his grandma, they took him to this indoor play place for kids, and he was afraid of everything: the slide was too high. The rocks on the rock-climbing wall may come loose under his feet. The teeter-totter may cause him to lose balance. So while the kids around him played, Evan sat in the ball pit alone. Sorting the balls by color. Why is he afraid of everything?

I fight and fight with him to do  homework, but he can sit for hours on the computer, researching the Titanic and the history behind it. Or the history of aviation. Occasionally he will play games on my Facebook page, but mostly he just reads on those two topics. He’s even prepared reports for his teachers just for fun. And he will talk about them incessantly.

He has no empathy. I would be in the hospital during my pregnancy, and he would know that the possibility of Zach being born too early to survive was great. And he still would throw tantrums for silly things. To take him out to eat, to a book fair, to the mall or an amusement park. John did most of these things with him, but he wouldn’t stop because I couldn’t go. He seems to have no empathy at all.

He reads at the level of a college student. He speaks like an adult. In fact, my mother-in-law said that during his visit, he used some words to which she didn’t even know the meaning and would look them up in a dictionary when Evan wasn’t looking. But regardless of all of this, he writes like a toddler. I cannot read it at all. They had to have an 8-pocket organizer for school, and the teacher had them label the pockets with things like “homework” or “For Parents”. Meaning we are to go through it each night and filter out the stuff that is meant to come home. I couldn’t read the labels at all. I had to ask Evan to tell me what they are, and since have memorized the squiggles that are supposed to be letters. And as the years pass, it seems to get worse. Not better at all. He does cursive just fine, but the schools have stopped that.

The rage. The endless screaming. I could deal with raising of voices. I could, I think. But I cannot take the screaming. And I cannot take the feeling of loving the child so much and hurting because he is obviously hurting, but yet not liking him at all. The gut-wrenching impulse to just run away from this is intolerable. But I resist. I resist because I love him so much and I know that somewhere in there is a reason for this.

Asperger’s Syndrome, though the cause and science behind it is unknown, is linked to prematurity (Evan). It is also linked to slowed language development in babies (Evan), clumsiness (Evan again), and more.

So we are going. To test my brilliant kid for a disorder that is a form of autism. I’m scared for him. But more than anything, I want a name to this suffering, to know that there is some reason for it, that this isn’t all my fault. I want help for my baby boy.

On Being Hacked, Being Yoko, and Being Tired

Okay, first things first.

Sometimes, when a bitch has a multitude of items on her to-do list, a bitch gets tired. Really tired. John has started classes, which means my work schedule is different. Off Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Which means that from about 6PM on Thursday to about 7:30AM on Monday morning, I’m working. And last night I really did. I clocked in, made out the assignments for the other therapists, and sat down to get report. And the ridiculous bong-bong noise (that my hospital uses to get our attention before announcing a code blue or rapid response) sounds. Okay. Nothing like that kind of start to your day. And so I start booking it across the hospital, only to hear another. And another. And another. And another. 2 Rapid Responses and 3 Codes within about 20 minutes. As soon as I fricken ge there. Fuck. Problem is that the first one was on one of my units, and so I was there when the others were called. And I was in charge. (BIC= Bitch In Charge according to one young coworker of mine.) And we had assistants in our midst, which means they are still students and practice under limited licensure and cannot be in a code without a licensed and credentialed therapist. And it all happened so fast that I couldn’t remember who I put where. And as coworkers checked on me, I would shout over the roar of 20 people in a code room to that coworker at the door that I was fine, but to check on the others for me. As in, “Go! Save Yourselves! Armageddon is COMING and everyone in the joint is trying to friggin’ die on us!” But there is no truer testament to the strength of the team with which I work than this: only one death in all of that, and it was an old woman who was a DNR before she actually tried to die, and her husband couldn’t handle it and changed his mind to resuscitate at the last minute. They weren’t able to. And everyone worked together. Those who didn’t have coding patients went from code to code, rapid respnse to rapid response, helping everyone out. And when it was all over and the dust settled, everyone managed to get their work done, to see all of their patients and hand out breathing treatments and inhalers to all. Not a single patient was missed. But when you start your night out like that, no matter what follows, you feel exhausted. Mentally and physically drained. I could’ve sat on my butt in the office for the remaining 11 hours of my shift and still felt like I was hit by a truck. Gotta love healthcare.

And so I come home. I opened the door at the house and totally forget until right then that I am now Yoko Fucking Ono.

John’s dad said he had this bed that he is getting rid of in his remodeling and streamlining project at his house. Evan has a twin and could use a big bed, so I said why the hell not? We’ll take it. And so yesterday, while I was asleep, he made the long trip up here to bring it to us. But it’s old as hell and I am loving the antique-y-ness of it and want it in our room. But we currently share our room with Zach, and so our room is littered with baby junk. So, while I snored, the guys set it up. In my fucking living room. Yep. Right there in the middle. As a matter of fact, I am laying on the damned thing right now. Because between papers and reading and lectures with no John here to help with the toddler, I have to figure out how in the hell I am going to make this thing fit in our room. (PS-He also brought a treadmill that he bought 2 years ago when he had open-heart surgery–CABGx4 for people of my vocation–and never used. So now I have visions in my head of studying while running, cooking dinner while running, writing papers and blogging while running. And I will soon be a skinny bitch. Yeah.)

Yeah, there I am. Except I'm not asian. Or a hippie. Or married to John Lennon. Though I did marry a John....Hmmm.

And finally, I got friggin’ HACKED. Yeah. Fuckers. I got this direct message on Twitter, and I was all what-the-hell-is-this? And I opened it. And it asked me to login to my Twitter account. And it looks all extra legit. So I log in. And nothing. So being the moron that I am, I try again. And again, all the while wondering what is wrong with my Twitter account. Until the next day, when I get some messages from some kind folks who let me know that they are getting spam from me. I was all embarrassed. In today’s technology, being hacked is the equivalent of having leprosy or some shit. I’m waiting for someone to show up and take me to a colony where I will be stripped of my laptop and smartphone and forced to live without so I can do no harm. Immediately, I started losing followers on Twitter. And I have no idea what to do. I changed my password, thinking that might thwart the evil-doers’ plans. I honestly have no clue.

So there you have it. Back to corporate finance.

The Grossest Baby Story Ever Told

So I was taking a break from studying today and visiting some of the blogs I follow and have neglected in my busy-ness, when I hit some inspiration from Stephanie, aka SarcasminAction over at Musings of a Sarcastic Mind. She had a gross, baby-poop-related tale of woe. It dawned on me that I may have never shared one of the grossest and retrospectively hilarious stories of Evan’s babyhood with you all. Since most of the few people who will read this have young children, I thought you all might enjoy this little gem.

When Evan was Zach’s age, I was a stay-at-home mommy. Yeah, I hated it. I’m glad I did it because I think Evan really benefited from having me with him, but it really couldn’t have been further from my personality. But I was home and we had our routine. John would be at work, and we would alternate playtime with mealtimes and naps. During his afternoon nap, I would work on the house while he slept in his Pack & Play right around the corner. Until one fateful day.

I was vacuuming, of all things. Evan  was asleep in his usual spot, or so I thought. I kept smelling something bad. I checked the ‘fridge for spoiled food. I emptied the garbage, just to be sure. I had to find the stench in my house that usually smelled of candles and potpourri, not whatever the hell that awful smell was.

I round the corner, thinking that maybe Evan has pooped and needs a diaper change, and nothing could have ever prepared me. As soon as I opened the door to the nursery, the smell smacked me in the face. Poop. Lots of poop.

Because Evan had taken off his diaper. So there was baby poop everywhere. On the Pack& Play, on the blanket, on Evan. It was smeared between his fingers and toes, was under his little nails. Even in his hair. I’m not kidding. I was already gagging. I hate poop. But that isn’t the worst. The worst came when Evan saw me and got happy to see his mommy. And he give me the biggest of Evan smiles.

And he had baby shit smeared all over his teeth. And tongue. And then I graduated to full-on retching. And my germophobe mind started to work and I thought about the E. coli in human shit and freaked out. So I tried to call the pediatrician, but really I would say a word, retch, say another word, retch….And so it went until I asked them if he would be okay. The nurse was laughing at me, because I literally kept gagging while on the phone. She assured me he would be fine so long as it was his own that he ate and not someone else’s. To which I responded with more retching.

It took me forever to clean Evan up. Every time I would get started, I would gag. A few times, I actually puked. I had to call John home from work to help me because I couldn’t finish the job. I did manage to get Evan cleaned up, finally. I left the room as-is and just shut the door, saving that part for John, who was on his way home since I was weak from an afternoon spent gagging and puking. And from that point on, when we dressed Evan, we did so in layers: Onesie, shirt, pants over top of diaper, which we put on backward to keep the easy-access tabs in the back where he couldn’t get to them should he manage to free himself of the clothes.

We look back at that story and laugh now. Of course Evan was about the age Zach is at now, so he has no memory. We have fun telling him the story of the time he ate his own poop. I think that has to be the best gross-out story in the Land of Parenthood. Well, that and the time he literally puked in my mouth.

We deal with so much shit as parents. Literally.