Often there are things that happen during the day which are so draining, I don't feel like talking about them later. They are the ups and downs of everyday life, sometimes too mundane to rehash. Then there are the things that are so painful to me that I can't speak of them out loud, even if I wanted to. Sometimes, though not always, I can write about them instead. I know my last blog was all about looking on the bright side. I'm still in that mind-frame. But I am also a parent, and a sensitive one at that, and I had a tough day.
There is always a learning curve in mothering. At first you have to try and decipher the sounds of different cries, to change a diaper, to breastfeed or mix formula. Later, there is the discipline, potty training, or choosing a preschool. Second or third babies are easier in these regards, unless they have special needs, in which case you are learning all over again.
Such is the case with my third child. He isn't even the only special needs kiddo in our bunch, but of course every situation is unique. So far I have learned how to give him medicines, mix his supplements, clean vomit out of everything, order and feed his special formula, use an EPIpen, carefully read food labels, organize his therapy appointments, do exercises with him at home, keep track of his rotating needs with various specialists, coordinate habilitation and respite workers, advocate for him at school, count calories, order him a wheelchair, use a breathing machine, have him fitted for shoe inserts, smile when he has nights in which he wakes up as much as a newborn, bravely hold his hand as he goes for x-rays, MRIs or endoscopies, stay up late searching for answers on the internet, ignore depressing statistics, and countless other jobs I thought I could never handle. Meanwhile, while I don't do it perfectly by any means, I also have responsibilities with my other kids, my husband, my house, my parents, my volunteer commitments and my friends.
So, the other day when the endocrinologist said we needed to start checking blood sugar levels at home for hypoglycemia, I confidently thought, "Sure, no problem." Ok, I was a little nervous, because the nurse only gave me a very quick demo, but I still believed I could handle it. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. Not only did I not understand how to do the test well enough, but I also got emotional.
Today I picked Joshua up from preschool, and he felt cold and clammy, one of our signs that his blood sugar may be too low. I waited until we drove a couple minutes to the Target parking lot, because he was so worked up at school, and then I got out our blood sugar monitor and the supplies. Still confident despite his wails of protest, I didn't waste too much time bribing him with the promise of a blue icee and getting started. With trembling hands (a surprise to feel), I used the little lancet that came with our kit. It seemed I didn't get enough blood for the test to work. Determined, I got out another strip and lancet, adjusted the setting, and went for it again. This time I drew enough blood and I hurt him on top of it. I think the silent tear and look of disbelief on his face at that point was far worse than the earlier screaming. (In moments like this, I always think of that line from that old song, Mandolin Rain- "listen to my heart break..." - because surely mine is ready to rip in two). I apparently didn't have the strip in the monitor correctly that time, because I still didn't get a reading. At this point, I gave up, went in to Target for the treat, and we went on our way.
After an OT appointment, we returned home and this was all still weighing heavily on my mind. I knew if I could just learn this important job, my mind would be at ease. And so, before Joshua's nap, I somehow worked up the courage to try again. He was not a fan of this idea, of course. In fact, he was flailing, crying and screaming. (What a great time to be wielding a needle, right?) I finally had to get tough and have my husband hold him down while I did the test. This time we were back to the "not enough blood" problem, and I didn't have the heart to try it a fourth time. I ended the afternoon feeling like a failure.
I know that I will manage to learn this, the way I have learned everything else. I need to breathe and get the basics down, which will empower me, which will in turn calm my child. I know I am doing it for his own health and safety, but this is the first time I have had to hurt him. Regardless of the caring intentions behind it all, and the fact that I am following doctor's orders, it pains me greatly. I will eventually file this away under "things that seemed like a big deal at the time but aren't anymore." I can't say I will look back and laugh. I won't. But, it will get easier.
Tonight I will forgive myself for not being perfect. Tomorrow I will cover Joshua with kisses and hugs when he wakes up and we'll look forward to a new day together. I need him to know that I am not always good at things, but that I am not afraid to try again. I want him to understand that sometimes life does hurt, but that the great moments outweigh the hard ones. It's a tender age to learn such lessons, but I believe it is within his realm to understand. When he is older, I will be able to explain more to him, like how truly privileged I feel to be on this journey with him, to be his mother, and to have been entrusted with his care.