Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Dentist

Dentist... hearing that word usually revokes most to shudder in fear. I have yet to meet a person who gets excited by the prospect of teeth mutilation... I mean cleaning.

My lifetime of dentistry has been far from fun. I was always "that kid" who had those "deep grooves" in my teeth which were prone to "sticky situations" leading to cavities. I was also blessed with what I now understand to be "phase 1 AND 2" of orthodontic work. I started going when I was 8 and ended when I was 17. As an adult I have come to the conclusion that giving birth is more enjoyable than the scraping and poking of my poor and precious teeth.

So now you have my history.

When it came to bringing my own children to the dentist I was far from enthused. However, I needed to put on a happy face so they would think it was fun and exciting. Before Mikayla's first visit six months ago I spoke to her about the exciting passage into becoming a dentist going girl... "OOOO you get prizes! Yes you get to sit in your own chair! You get to pick the flavor of your tooth paste! A prize will be yours at the end! What color tooth brush will you pick!?" Happy dance... smiling... all the while cringing inside at the very thought of her laying silently and letting someone touch her teeth.

The appointment came and went and she did an amazing job. I had nothing to fear and when they asked me if Nolan would like a back to back appointment the next time Mikayla came in I didn't hesitate to accept. My rationale being it would be better to introduce him early on and since Mikayla is such a champ it would be a walk in the park. Excuse me... what!?

And then we come to today.

Normally preparation is the key to success for Mikayla. She is the type of kid who likes to know what is going to happen and why and how. Despite that fact, I didn't feel the need to prepare her with the dentist happy dance and words of adoration because:

  1. With her memory she would remember everything including how "fun" it was 
  2. I forgot
  3. She did great last time
  4. Life is chaos and I forgot
I also didn't feel the need to prepare Mikayla that her brother was going to also be getting his teeth cleaned because:

  1. No big deal
  2. It will work like clock work
  3. Yup
We arrived in the office at 9am sharp and after being given 6 pages to fill out (Nolan needed his own set of records... WHY can't they just copy Mikayla's?) I was dragged by my four year old to Frozen playing in the waiting room. While trying to wrangle Nolan and placate Mikayla who realized it was just the dvd menu of Frozen playing, I willed myself to remember dates and phone numbers and the like.
Our name was called and with my excited words of "hooray it's our turn" Mikayla followed me into the back. As we headed into the exam room Mikayla stopped and refused to go in. Wrangling Nolan, diaper bag and clipboard with most pages still not filled out, I was not physically or mentally prepared for her refusal. Thankfully the sweet hygienist got her in with "let's pick out a toothbrush." As I sat in the seat next to the dentist chair waiting for Mikayla to choose her toothbrush "Mama there are too many choices!" I took a deep breath and was thankful for Beauty and the Beast playing in perfect view. Then she wouldn't sit on the chair. And nothing would get her there except for me. And so with both kids sitting on my lap (Nolan squirming) we tried to coax Mikayla to open her mouth for the "chocolate" tooth paste. Not happening... she wanted brother to go first. The hygienist left to go talk to the dentist and I frantically filled out the rest of the paperwork.

After his cleaning
We were moved to another room, I again had to sit on the chair with Nolan on my lap. Staring at my legs that I had forgotten to shave in... "how many days?" I prayed no one would notice and looked over to see a happy Mikayla watching us and chatting with the hygienist. This whole time I uttered things like  "ooo look at that light" and "your turn next to get a teeth tickle!"  Nolan screamed in my arms as the dentist brushed his teeth. After an eternity (more like 5 minutes) the dentist was done, I was sweaty and had the beginnings of a tension headache and Nolan was giggling and playing with his prize.

Back to the other room we went (why, I do not know) and again Mikayla refused to get in the chair. I got back on, both kids in lap, dentist at the ready with determined "don't mess with me kid" look on his face. And then within about 30 seconds the following... Mikayla wouldn't open her mouth, dentist tried to "help" her which I knew in an instant was not the way to go, she started to scream, Nolan started to scream, hygienist took Nolan to be helpful which made his scream louder, Mikayla screamed like no one's business, I grabbed Nolan back, firmly told the dentist we were leaving and would come back another time when I was without Nolan. Headache pounding, kids whimpering, dentist and hygienist staring, dentist offering "she just wants to control the situation" UM SHE IS 4... we left.

Of course as a mother having my brain and depression still in the picture, the following had been running through my mind during those 30 awful seconds. "I don't want her to be traumatized by this, she will never come back without screaming, I'm not having her teeth cleaned by force, my children are screaming so loud, why isn't my child listening, why isn't she perfect, what if I'm not parenting her correctly, this is my fault, what should I be doing differently, what will these people think of me".... and it goes on and on.

After making it to the van and shedding a few of my own "OMG THAT WAS AWFUL" tears, I decided we would head to the park. "Why are we going to the park mommy?" "Because, unlike that visit to the dentist, we are going to have fun!" Mikayla giggled and the high standards I held on myself and on her melted in the joy that filled her face.

So how do we go forward? I'm definitely instituting a one child - one parent ratio for all dentist visits going forward for at least a few years.

Our experience was another in-your-face reminder of this thing we call life. It's not perfect, we are not perfect, and we are doing the best we can. Letting go of judgement on myself, letting go of the judgement others may be giving and just moving through each step with the ease of an elephant on point shoes... bumbling, falling, but getting up again... is what I have to do.

Ironically I have a filling tonight. Thankfully it will be alone...

They keep me on my toes
Turning the day around

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Next Steps

I have categorized the past two years of my life, indicating some of my feelings during those times, as such:
  • Pre-Pennsylvania (Working mom of 1, stable and happy but ready for a change) 2012
  • Pre-baby Pennsylvania (Stay at home mom of 1, lonely and isolated and trying to adjust while throwing myself into every possible activity to meet people) September 2012 - December 2012
  • Post-baby/pre-PPD identified (Stay at home mom of 2, lonely and trying to figure out parenting 2 kids while feeling intensely overwhelmed and numb) December 2012 - March 2013
  • Post-baby PPD identified (Losing self, trying to fit into new life, grappling with diagnosis) March 2013 - June 2013
  • Intense PPD (Chaos in the mind, a blur, loss of time, crisis mode) June 2013 - September 2013
  • Rebuilding myself with PPD (Trying to put the pieces of myself back together including the new pieces that I came across through intense therapy and learning to live with my illness) September 2013 - February 2014
  • Post intense PPD/Moving forward (No longer in survival mode, learning what it's like to be feeling better for the first time as a stay at home mom of 2 with friends and a life in PA) February 2014 - present
Wow... when I look at all I have gone through written out like that... I really want to just give myself a big hug and also give myself grace. That statement in-itself is a HUGE testament to how far I have come and how much I have changed. I have never been one to give myself grace even in the midst of such horrible suffering that was out of my control. I am so thankful that I now see clearly. 

Lately I have been having experiences which normally would be no big deal, but I see as huge next steps. These experiences haven't happened since "pre-Pennsylvania" times and therefore feel brand new. I recently accomplished one...

This past weekend I flew to Nashville to see a dear friend get married. When the invitation first came in the mail I knew without a doubt that I would be going; however I didn't think through the ramifications of where I was at (Post intense PPD) and when I had last flown alone (Pre-Pennsylvania) Dhrumil planned out all of the logistics for me (because he had realized the huge step I was taking even if I hadn't) and even printed out a wonderful itinerary and booked a gorgeous hotel. 

A few days before my flight I started to feel intensely anxious and overwhelmed by the slightest details of the trip having no idea how I was going to pull it off. The cycle of fear and doubt crept in which led to annoyance and frustration at myself. Pre-Pennsylvania I didn't have a problem with this! Pre-Pennsylvania I went on business trips alone including one while pregnant with Nolan overseas with a stop in Amsterdam to sightsee ALONE! How could I be freaking out about this!? Then I remembered that I was a new person, still fragile in my delicate newly adjusted skin. I had to give myself grace and love and remind myself that I was ready for this next step.

The trip was truly amazing. My therapist had challenged me to not take on too much during this short trip (ie. sightseeing, go go GOING) and go for the purpose of the wedding and that was it. I have been learning that I take on way too much and push myself to un-human expectations thus leaving me an empty shell with hardly anything left for my family, let alone myself. And so I took her challenge and let me just say I learned a huge lesson on what taking on just enough means. Some of what I did:
  • Drove to Philly, took parking shuttle, took plane, took shuttle to hotel, took taxi, took limo, hailed
    Me and the beautiful bride Dara
    taxi amidst the super drunk people of Nashville, took taxi to airport next day, took plane, took shuttle, drove car home
  • Went with the flow
  • Read magazines
  • Started a new book
  • Took a nap
  • Ate slowly at the hotel restaurant while reading
  • Took multiple showers and washed my hair every time (yes this is huge when you are a mama)
  • Spent precious hours with my friend while she got ready for the wedding
  • Was filled with joy at seeing her marry and had fun meeting her friends
  • Slept in
  • Had breakfast in bed
  • Came home tired but not TOO TIRED for my family and was not overwhelmed going into the week
And so here I am. Proud of myself for accomplishing a next step. I have been through a ton, but I am moving forward! I am slowly toughening up my new skin and loving myself in it.
I didn't want to leave the bed! ;-)