Thanks to a dear friend’s tip, I am newly qualified for vaccination for COVID-19 under a new set of criteria. When I called to schedule, the person looked all over and could only find one appointment at a location 35 minutes away about two weeks out. I may call again to see if I can reschedule for sooner and a closer location. If not, I am still thankful for the chance to get vaccinated sooner rather than having to wait for my age group to be eligible. When both Bob and I are vaccinated, we are hopeful that we can start hanging out with family again.
I usually don’t read promotional emails in detail, but one caught my attention the other day:
I love the sensitivity that companies like this one display in regards to a holiday that is highly triggering for some. I welcome changes like this and hope that many other organizations and companies follow suit.
Ever since my son Okra stopped his appetite stimulant, we have seen a reduction in the frequency of his extreme tantrums. He used to have them frequently and they lasted 1.5 hours to 2 hours. After he stopped his meds, he had two of these tantrums in January and none in February. He does still throw tantrums and is whiny but he does not throw a tantrum out of the blue and they don’t last 2 hours. In terms of eating, he seems to be pickier than before. He seems to be uninterested in a variety of food that he used to eat, and some days getting him to come to the table for lunch and dinner has become a chore. He would refuse to come or would hide. When he does come, he would eat a piece or two and declare that he is done. I became worried about his weight so I weighed him last week. He has lost about half a pound. After I weighed him, I was very sad and was trying to hold my tears. Despite my best effort, I shed a few tears while brushing Okra’s teeth. He looked at me and asked, “Mommy, why are you sad?” Bob heard my sniffles and came to ask what happened. I was so thankful that instead of asking me not to cry, he took me and Okra to our bed. He and Okra snuggled with me and rubbed my back while I cried my heart out. I needed that loving tenderness in that moment. Ever since that day, I have again become intentional in what I give Okra for each meal. I add butter, coconut oil, or avocado oil in bread, rice, muffin, or pancakes. I am trying smoothies with him again. He hasn’t liked it in the past but it doesn’t hurt to expose him again and again. I am even giving him and his sister ice cream a couple of times a week. I am keeping a food journal to see exactly what he is consuming each day. I messaged his GI specialist who suggested putting Okra back on the appetite stimulant to let him gain some weight again. I am very hesitant in doing so because of the extreme tantrums. I am part of a FB group of caregivers who struggle to help their kids gain weight. Many people are/were in the same situation where the medication causes their children’s moodiness. Some suggested reducing the dosage or to only take the dose at bed time. Okra has a follow up appointment with the GI specialist in a couple of weeks. I will be armed with loads of questions and hopefully make an informed decision. In the mean time, I am happy to report that Okra has been eating pretty well for a few days in a row. He hasn’t refused to come to a meal, and he actually has been eating most of the food offered to him on his plate/bowl. It has been hard to do, but I am trying to focus on it one day at a time and choose to celebrate small victories whenever I can.
My kids have been in their bedroom for about an hour. I am sitting in the dining room doing my own things. After about 30 minutes of silence, Bunny calls Okra’s name. He does not respond. She then begins to sing a song loudly. He starts talking to her. She responds. And then she continues to sing a song. He talks some more. And now there is a full blown conversation going on.
I have been guarding their nap time carefully. These hours are necessary to break up the day and for me to recuperate from the chaos of the morning. This time also serves as my exercise time, or time to make a phone call, or time to read a few pages of my own books (not a pictured children’s book). I have such fear that these kiddos will give up their nap time and this is the end of my sanity. I know that compared to some other parents with three year olds, we are blessed in a sense that my kids still nap majority of the time. But as the number of times they don’t nap is increasing, I get increasingly nervous. I can’t imagine not having down time, but I also have to acknowledge that my kids are not babies, they are growing, and I can’t stop them from becoming bigger kids, not that I want to. Maybe I get to be the lucky one whose kids nap until 4 or 5 years old? Only time will tell.
I have been feeling kind of meh lately. I think the monotony of the pandemic has started to get to me. Every single day feels the same. During pre-COVID time, there would always be something to look forward to, such as social activities on the weekend, trips that we have planned, or meeting up with my girlfriends. We have not done any of this in the last many months. I don’t know if the situation is going to change for us in the near future since we are still trying to be very careful with our activities. My mom did get her first dose of the vaccine so at least that provides her some protection. Bob and I casually talked about going somewhere nearby renting a place to ourselves just for a change of scenery. We may or may not do that. One change we did make was to start taking the kids to playgrounds. I hadn’t been doing that because the playgrounds weren’t open for a long time. Plus I was still a bit leery of unmasked kids and adults, and my kids putting their dirty hands in their mouths. Last week we passed by one playground and saw that it was empty. I decided to let the kids go play. I am so happy that I made that choice. You should have seen the fun that the kids had. They were giggling, running, climbing, sliding, and genuinely having a lot of fun. When a boy climbed onto the play structure, my kids knew to stop their movements and allow a lot of space for the boy. Unfortunately, the boy wasn’t giving my kids space and was coming closely behind them. It is just sad that in these pandemic times my kids have to learn to make room for others, and that they have to worry about other kids being too close to them. I hate that kids can’t play with one another like they used to be able to. Anyhow, after the one day of fun, I took them to various playgrounds four more times this past week. The outdoor physical activities really paid off. I think the kids rested better because of them. Since going to the playground has been mostly successful, I am happy that we at least get to give the kids some physical activities and I get to be outdoors with them. Maybe we will really make a trip somewhere nearby for a few days just to break up the monotony a little bit. That may help me with my mental and emotional health.
On January 20th, the kids and we all had breakfast while watching the inauguration. We explained to the kids that we have a new president and vice president. And this is the first female vice president of our country. After hearing that, my daughter Bunny asked, “What about me?” My husband answered her, “This is exactly what the vice president said, that you can be anything you want to be.” There was a twinkle in this three year old’s eye as she pondered what that meant.
I teared up as I watched my little daughter pay such close attention to this historic moment on the screen. Four years ago, days before the previous inauguration, we were about to transfer the two embryos that would become our twins. On that transfer day, I couldn’t have possibly imagined this precious moment with my precious girl on January 20, 2021 given how uncertain the future felt four years ago in regards to parenthood as well as the state of our nation. Our future at this moment is also uncertain with the pandemic and the state of this world, but as the glass ceiling shatters, this is certainly a big step into the right direction. There is hope for a better future for my children.
Two days ago was the 4th anniversary of the transfer that resulted in our children. Four years seems like a long time, and it sure feels like a long time ago. My gestational carrier and I still have a cordial relationship. I send her videos and pictures of the kids once in a while, and she receives a present every year from us for the kids’ birthday and Christmas. We don’t communicate regularly, but I think very fondly of her. One of my friends has been waiting to find a gestational carrier to carry a pregnancy for her with the donor egg embryos that she made back in January 2018. She is not married and somehow it has been difficult to find a gestational carrier. After many shoes that dropped and needing to switch several agencies, she is finally going to have one of her embryos transferred into her new gestational carrier middle of this month. I can’t help but wonder about what may happen if we were to transfer our embryos into a gestational carrier during this global pandemic just like my friend. On top of all the complications and worries about having someone out of town carrying our child, we’d also have to worry about the gestational carrier following a COVID-safe protocol that we would have set out. I am not so sure if our gestational carrier would have been the best person for the job. Let us just say that her views regarding the pandemic are vastly different from ours including the need to wear a mask out and about and the part about not mixing people in different households. I can only imagine how difficult those months of pregnancy would be and what they would do to my sanity or anxiety level. But you know, if that’s the case, and you want a baby, you just have to do what you have to do, but life would be exponentially more difficult navigating the life of having another person carry a pregnancy for you. And we may not choose my gestational carrier for this important role. I feel for my friend, and I can only hope that her gestational carrier is reliable and trustworthy. I am hopeful that a year from now she gets to celebrate the transfer anniversary of her baby. And I am hopeful that by then the world will be a much better place.
One of the tools my therapist and I discussed about is to track my son Okra’s tantrums and my anxiety symptoms to see if there is a correlation between the two. I have these blank calendars I printed from the internet to meal plan. I took one and started writing down Okra’s moods and tantrums on a given day and how I was feeling on that particular day. I started middle of the month in December. That coincided with Okra stopping his appetite medication. He had a video follow up visit with his GI specialist on that day. He had been on this appetite medication since September to help increase his appetite and hence gain weight. His weight went from being on the 13th percentile to 41st percentile, so the medication did help tremendously. However, I noticed that he had some wild tantrums that seemingly came out of nowhere. The intensity and duration of them had increased since winter started. There was an epic tantrum that lasted one hour 45 minutes that really worried me, that something could be wrong with my precious little boy. I had read that this appetite medication can affect some kids’ moods. I brought it up with Okra’s GI specialist and she agreed that it was about time for Okra to recycle the meds, which means for him to be off of it for 5 to 7 days and restart it for the medication to have its maximum effectiveness again. At the same time we could watch Okra’s moods and see if being off of it makes a difference. At that time, Okra was having these huge tantrums that were recurring every few days. He was easily triggered by some very minor things and everything became a struggle. Even when I fulfilled his wishes and gave him what he wanted, he would immediate flip flop and say he didn’t want it. He would go yes/no yes/no many times for many different things while crying uncontrollably. I was desperate for these tantrums to go away. I am also quite sure that these extreme tantrums did not help with my anxiety symptoms. Okra stopped his medication on December 16th. He had one extreme tantrum on December 19th. He then became calm with some typical toddler whininess for the next few days. We restarted his appetite medicine on December 23rd. I gave him one dose at 7:45am. He woke up happy and ate his breakfast happily. At 9:35, he suddenly flipped and got upset for no reason and threw a huge tantrum seemingly out of nowhere. It was like a switch was flipped. I immediately thought of the appetite medication so in the chaos of a tantrum, I wrote the GI doctor a quick note. Fortunately she usually writes back quickly. She told me to stop the appetite medication and see how he does in the next few weeks. I am so thankful for a doctor who responds promptly. That morning Okra ate a huge snack despite having a huge breakfast earlier that day. I wonder if the medication had made him super hunger and if he couldn’t read his own hunger cue and got really upset/angry because of that. After we stopped the medication, Okra was calm except for some instances of whininess and small tantrums for nine whole days. Even when he had a tantrum, he showed the ability to recover very quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my son on those very calm days. It was such a delight to hang out with him and we were able to do so many fun things together and have great bonding moments. He did have one day of extreme tantrum on January 2nd. When I was waiting for the tantrums to be over, I was reminding myself of what he is capable of and I knew that this would pass. And it did. He was back to being his normal happy self yesterday. It was such a delight to see. Okra may not be eating as much as when he was on meds, but I’d rather him be a happy child than suffering from side effects of the medication. I know his last extreme tantrum did not have anything to do with the medication because he wasn’t on it. I sometimes still worry about something being wrong with him. Our pediatrician did give us a referral to a developmental pediatrician in case I wanted to get a consultation. I am suppose to fill out these questionnaires before scheduling an appointment. Something is stopping me from filing out these forms. I guess I am waiting to see how things unfold before I subject him to any sort of testing. Anyways, back to my therapy homework. Marking on the calendar really helps me to see if there is a pattern of Okra’s tantrums and how I am doing emotionally and physically. I am happy to report that out of those nine calm days, I was symptom-free for six of them. Even when Okra had the big tantrums on Saturday, I wasn’t affected and haven’t felt any lightheadedness, heart palpitation, or general uneasiness. It is such a welcome change.
On one of my morning walks with the kids, we passed by a small excavator on the street. The kids were very excited to see one and ran over to see what was up. They stood there waiting for the excavator to move but was disappointed that the construction wasn’t going to start yet. The worker was leaning on the front of the excavator looking at us. I told him, from a distance, that the kids were exciting to see his vehicle. He told us that the project would start that afternoon, which would be right in the middle of the kids’ nap time. That was too bad. As the kids continued to stand and stare at the excavator, the worker said, “You are babysitting?” I chuckled at such a comment and told him, “No, they are mine” to which he said, “They are mixed right?” I used to get these kinds of comments a lot in the pre-COVID era when I took the kids to playgrounds in the city. The nannies there somehow often assumed that I was the kids’ nanny probably because they don’t see resemblance between me and the kids. I didn’t expect that with with masks on all of us that someone would see enough of their faces and my face to make such a remark. People are just so funny. I am not bothered by it. I am just amused by people’s assumption.
Okra is a quirky little boy. He is smart and determined and focused. He sometimes makes some funny remarks that make me chuckle. Two examples: