Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Don't make me do the math.

Once upon a time a young girl grew very frustrated sitting in her algebra class because the teacher was not solving the equation the way he had taught just days before. Young girl could not resist raising her hand and gently pointing out the inaccuracies. (At 15, her idea of gentle may have been skewed.). Teacher challenged young girl that if she thought she knew better, she could come to the board and teach, which young girl did immediately. Teacher had to admit she was absolutely right. (Though this was no consolation to young girl's mother -- who was absolutely mortified.)

I have been on my own motherhood journey for more than 22 years. From day one there have been experts that knew far more than me about mothering my trio. The NICU doctors and nurses were the first. I was timid, unsure of everything, and scared to death in that NICU. I did what the professionals told me to do without question. And yet, two or three weeks in, when a nurse had stuck Benjamin's heel five times to get a blood gas and messed up every single vial, I felt young me stirring as I went to grab a nurse I trusted with my life and beg her to help. I didn't have the answers that day. I did not have the training to draw those blood gases correctly, but I knew someone who did. Oh I am so thankful.

We started physical and occupational therapies when my boys were just nine months old. I once again retreated into myself. The professionals knew better. I was scared of the reasons we were there. I was frightened by the implications. And I was petrified to know the therapists' opinions of my boys' futures. One day, one of the therapists asked me to take baby Claire to the waiting room as she took Mason to one therapy room, while Benjamin's therapist kept him in another. I sat in the waiting room and listened as my boys screamed bloody murder. Five minutes turned into ten before I felt young me rising up inside. I went to the room and apologized but told the therapists that either we do therapy together -- with me in the room -- or the session was canceled. It was that day that I realized I alone was the Mommy. Therapists knew far more than I about stretching, about teaching muscles to do what wasn't coming naturally, about weight-bearing, and so much more. But I knew my babies. And I knew that from that day forward therapy needed to be a joint effort.

So yes, sometimes being stubborn has its merits. But trust me, I have pushed back on other things where I was just being hard-headed. (Yes, shocking, I know.)

From wheelchairs -- perhaps you read my post on the W word? I struggled to accept something that changed Benjamin's world for the better.

But beyond that -- for years therapists urged us to use respite providers and I fought and refused and tried to do everything myself. Finally letting down that wall and letting others in to help was an enormous step toward improved mental health for all of us.

Today, we are at another crossroads. For years, the boys' therapists, doctors, x-ray techs, etc have reprimanded me for refusing help when I transfer him from wheelchair to exam table and back. His therapists have told me to move the chair closer to his bed for transfers. My own precious cousin (an occupational therapist) bought a transfer board and urged me to use it.

To be honest, I haven't meant to be stubborn for stubbornness sake. I just have a routine of lifting, moving, positioning that works and is, frankly, speedy and gets the job done.  (As the mother of triplets, I like things that work and are speedy -- a lot.) But when we did the accessible addition to this home,  we took a huge step and put a lift-system into the ceiling.

Please hear me, this wasn't an easy decision. Wade was insistent but it was on me to coordinate with the builder and the lift-provider. The first time I spoke with the lift company, the salesman asked me what I needed and I wanted to hang up. I had no idea what I needed -- I assumed he would know. (Turns out 50 something-year-old me might have her idea of gentle skewed also.) Several emails, phone calls, and meetings with the lift provider and our builder and we had a plan. Whew.

And then we moved in. One of Benjamin's attendants from Mississippi joined us here temporarily. So even though we had a tutorial on working the lift, I was fine just letting it sit as ornamentation in the room.

But now, it is just me taking care of Benjamin and so we are figuring this lift out, trial and error, and error and error, and then a victory only to forget and err again next time.

It's the strangest thing. I see it and feel hope that this will ensure no one ever drops Benjamin. He will be safe. I see it and feel mindful that this will allow me to care for my amazing son without injuring myself. And I see it and resent it there reminding me that even if I can still lift him, it probably isn't the safest thing for either of us.

Benjamin feels much the same angst. I want to raise my hand and say this is wrong and I know how to do it better. Benjamin and I have a system and it is fast, efficient and that is that. We are right.

I had not even said all of this out loud when Mason gently (and he was really being gentle....not some skewed version!) said, "Mom, this isn't about being fast. You need to do this to lift smarter and safer."


So I am telling that young stubborn me who likes to rear her sassy head, to sit down and be quiet. Benjamin and I are plowing through, figuring out our new system and trying to celebrate the fact that we were able to get this amazing technology.

But forgive me if I also keep doing the transfer after he is dressed to his wheelchair myself....the lift is wet by then from the shower and I don't want his clothes wet and it is a two-second lift....

And well, it helps my feelings.

Carol - The Blessings Counter