Monday, April 9, 2012

One and Only

I'm back. It's been over a year and I've missed this space. We've been dealing with our son's increasing seizures over the past year. The seizures continue, but so does life.'s a column I wrote a few months ago for Natural Life Magazine. This is a subject that really moves me...

One and Only

Okay. I've had enough. It's time to put this in writing.

I have one five year old son. That makes my son an only child. That makes me mother of an only child. I am thirty-seven years old, my husband is forty-two, and our wonderful son is five.

However, I worry about writing that my son is wonderful because lately our critics would say I am a typical over- indulgent mother of an only child.

And I'm growing weary of it.

I don't know if we will have more children. As the parents to a child who was diagnosed with a catastrophic seizure disorder, Infantile Spasms, at five months of age, it's a complicated issue. Over the past five years, we've had seven emergency rides in ambulances. I've hovered in that horrible place where I wait for my son to start breathing, stop seizing, or wake up and be himself again. Each time we speed to the hospital with sirens blaring, I ask myself, what would I do if I had a newborn right now? Would I be able to sustain a pregnancy with this stress? What if my next child has health concerns? There is a voice inside me that says, "this is enough. I can't manage anything else."

At the same time, I long for my boy to have the sibling relationship that I enjoyed growing up. I love being a mother and miss nurturing a baby. I feel selfish to deprive him of siblings but I also feel selfish to bring another person into our world when sometimes it feels like we can barely manage our current situation.

I've been told that we would find a way to cope. This gives me chills. Since my son's devastating diagnosis, we've been struggling to move beyond just coping, to live our lives with joy and without fear. We're almost there.

Born by emergency C-section, our son's birth was frightening for all three of us. I underestimated how much time it would take for us to heal. I don't want to imply that we weren't elated to have him in our lives, seizures or not. Between the scary parts, we marvelled at his little, wrinkled forehead and his long toes. We held him and talked to him and comforted him. But there was always the fear that something was brewing and sometimes, the seizures literally seized our lives.

So I'm always amazed when people casually suggest (usually in an awkward public place) that we better get going on having a second, like we're reproductive lollygaggers. It feels surreal when people who I've always viewed as sensitive or intelligent (or even both) will drill my husband and me about something so personal.

I've written before how the grocery store seems to be the place where parents are most publicly and vocally judged. Recently, a friend of mine, who is mother to a four year old, was in the checkout line. The cashier asked my friend if she had more children at home. When she said she had one child, the cashier whispered ominously, "What if he dies?"

Should every parent have a spare? Like an extra tire?

I think about the parents who have lost a child. I think about the about the parents enduring the silent grief of miscarriage. I think about how they must feel when flippantly critiqued by strangers or acquaintances for not having the "right" number of children.

The few times I've tried to explain our reasons for having one child, I've been told I'll worry less about my son and his seizures if I had another baby. But if love multiplies, doesn't the worry, too?

Sometimes, I fall prey to false ideas about only children. Will he grow up to be self-centred? Will he resent us for not giving him a brother or sister? Will he be alone when we die? The answer to all of these questions is of course not. Only children do just fine. As for being selfish? Gandhi was an only child. Enough said.

If we parent lovingly and mindfully, it doesn't matter how many children we have. There are myths surrounding all numbers of children. If we have two, the older becomes an over-achiever. If we have three, we deal with the dreaded "middle child" syndrome. And so on.

There is nothing selfish about loving a child. I love my son. Mothering him is the most rewarding experience of my life. While I'm not yet at peace with having one child (I still have bins full of neatly labelled baby clothes), I know that it's the right thing for now. And it may be the right thing for always.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Treehouse

What started off as a tree fort to use up leftover wood from our deck...turned into a tree into a tree fortress. I get nervous when the two boys are searching the computer and conspiring about zip-lines and climbing walls.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Good Man

I am so lucky to have not one, but two, handymen around the house. My personal chef truly possesses a diverse skill-set.

From making soup...

To fixing the plumbing.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Comic K

My son has been loving graphic stories and comics these days. The other day, I loosely drew some boxes in my sketch book and he went wild. The story-telling was riveting, the cast of characters dynamic. All I had to do was add the voice boxes in after he was finished.

Oh! The drama! The excitement!

He chattered away to himself the entire time he was drawing. When it came time to add the words, he knew exactly who would say what. So funny.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Surrounded by Angels

For years, we've been on alert for seizures or any other neurological symptoms in our son. After eight months of no new seizure activity, no new tics, and no new concerns, we'd started to exhale...a little. As much as we exhale, anyway.

Then, just about two weeks ago, we woke up to find Kieran in a daze. He would alternate between vacant staring and terrified screaming. We thought his seizures had changed.

It turns out that his blood sugar was very low. The good news is that we don't think what he experienced was a neurological seizure but we have no explanation yet for why his blood sugar dropped dangerously low. After a panicked ambulance ride, we spent the day in emergency and were sent home to wait for further testing.

The next day, as I nursed my shattered nerves, Kieran moved around the backyard methodically making these snow angels. In the end, there were about a dozen. It's a funny thing but I took great comfort in this army of angels created by a little boy so full of fight.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Signing and Reading

Come one, come all!
Be at the Wedgewood in downtown Brockville on Wednesday, February 23 at 3:00pm.
I'll be reading from my new book, Cameron's Corner.
I'll also answer questions and sign books.
It's gonna be a party! Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Tyranny of the Flu

So...I was just bragging the other day about how long it's been since I've have the flu. Of course, I promptly came down with the worst cast of the flu I've had in recent memory. I compare the experience to the life-sucking machine in The Princess Bride. For several days, all that worked was my brain--while my aching limbs became useless appendages, I was still able to issue various commands from the couch.

Put the kettle on!

Go buy lozenges!

Warm me some broth!

Get me a blanket!

My husband contentedly went about caring for me as I peered at him through swollen red eyes and spoke through fever-dried lips. It wasn't pretty. Even when I woke him from a dead sleep at 11:00pm to go buy me some cough syrup, he didn't complain.

I know it was like living under a tyrannical dictatorship.

And then Kieran got sick.

If I was tyrannical, Kieran was ruthless.

Read to me!

Read to me some more!

Dance the Fox Trot! (really)

Read to me!

He didn't care that my throat was so sore each story was like munching on a bowl of razor blades. Read, I did.

Anyway, we're on the mend. It's been a long haul but we're all working together to get well...and praying that Mike doesn't get this.