Wanting what’s best for your child is a parenting no brainer. We all try our hardest to provide for them. To give them more than what we had, whether it be material things, experiences, safety…
Oh 2017, you were a rollercoaster of a year.
This was the year we welcomed Catalina to our family. This was the year that my sister and her boyfriend came to visit. This was the year PJ thrived in school and in her language skills. This was the year we started planting vegetables on the farm.This was the year I started working from home. This was the year my best friend and her fiancee came to visit. This was the year we traveled INSIDE of Uruguay.
This was the year my mom had a heart attack and a coronary artery bypass surgery. This was the year I almost lost my mind. This was the year I was reminded of how fragile life truly is.
This was the year I started falling in love with MYSELF. I fell in love with my body; with its movement and its ability to do more than just sit and lay. I got stronger. I got faster.
I’m thankful for my family and amazing support system; those that have proven distance means nothing.
2018 is going to be a big year for us. We’re going to be stateside for the month of October. Paloma will be starting school in March. Carlos has several art shows lined up in Uruguay. There are a few things going on waiting in the wings that I can’t wait to see how they pan out.
Today, I feel defeated. Today, I hid in a bathroom and cried. Today, I gave up.
PJ had her monthly check-in with her psychiatrist. We turned in her teachers report to her. Although we didn’t read the report, we know what it said based on the meeting we had with her and school psychologist late last month.
PJ has an exceptionally short attention span. PJ does not sit still. PJ likes to scream. PJ does not answer to her name. PJ doesn’t get tired. PJ is overly affectionate.
These things we know. These are things we’ve known her whole life. When we started trying to get help for her last year these things were still issues. These were issues we had with her at daycare. And we were working with a speech therapist at the time. But we haven’t seen her since December 2016.
We’ve been having trouble finding therapists who are willing to work with PJ because of the language barrier. Last year she barely said more than 10 words in Spanish, however since she started at her new school her Spanish has flourished. But we still want a therapist that UNDERSTANDS English in case they need it to reach her when she’s stubborn or hyper. (Not charging us USD$300.00 a month and asking us to pay their vacation days whether or not those are days they would normally see PJ would be great too).
After the psychiatrist read the report, she put it down and very frankly said, “Well, after reading this my professional opinion is you should medicate her. Start her off on a very small dose and see where we go from there. Have you thought about that?” And while my response may have taken .04 seconds to come out of my mouth, in my head a whole week passed. Yes, my husband and I had talked about what would we do should anyone suggest medicating her. We always said no but at that very moment PJ was throwing the mother of all tantrums because she wanted to play with some party favor lost at the bottom of the diaper bag, and I hesitated because in that moment I would’ve done ANYTHING to get her to calm down for thirty seconds.
“No, we don’t feel comfortable giving her medication. She’s only three.”
And her very short response was, “You’re here for a reason and this is my professional opinion. It’s up to you whether you take it or leave it.” At that point PJ was sprawled out on the floor kicking and screaming. I could feel my blood start to overheat and I wanted out of there as soon as possible.
While leaving the doctors office I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Are we really at that point? Is she really THAT hyper and uncontrollable? Am I really that weak that I thought, for a moment, that we definitely should medicate her? Could NOT giving her the medication hurt her? WHAT DO I DO?”
I couldn’t help but look down at my tiny person and want to cry. I love her so much and want to make the best decision for her but don’t know where to begin. I plan on getting a second opinion soon. I reached out to the occupational therapist who evaluated her back in February to see if she could give me some direction in finding new therapists. I’m meeting with her pediatrician next week to see what she says as well.
We have another check up in six weeks to let her know what we’ve decided on…we’ll see what happens from here to then. I just hope I can make an educated decision for my daughter.
If any of you have had any experience in dealing with Risperidone please feel free to share it with me.
Finding things to do with kids during the morning in Uruguay can be challenging. Most child friendly indoor spaces don’t open until 3:00pm or later, but last month Montevideo became the latest city to host an exhibit titled Monstruos del Mar (Monsters of the Sea).
Held in Parque Roosevelt on the outskirts of the city, the exhibit is comprised of about 20 animatronic prehistoric sea creatures.
My sister and her boyfriend are visiting for a few weeks from the Netherlands and we’ve been looking for fun things to do as a family. Luckily I found out about this exhibit before it was too late, because like all things Uruguay, the publicity was lacking. We were already planning to be in Montevideo due to one of PJ’s therapy sessions, so we took advantage and made a day of it.
After showing my brother-in-law (ish) the Plaza de Independencia, Calle Sarandi, and Plaza Matriz, we had lunch at a quaint restaurant we had been meaning to try out called Sin Pretensiones. The food was absolutely DELICIOUS and stuffed us all right up. Even PJ ate all her pizza without being forced. I wish we had taken pictures of our food but we were just too hungry.
Once we were done we headed out to Parque Roosevelt to see the exhibit. I’m glad I did my homework beforehand because if not we definitely would have missed it. Off to the side is a little ticket booth where you can purchase entry or the ticket taker stamps your prepaid tickets. Out of the main tent you see the head of a large dinosaur thing sticking out. I will say the noise machines they had was very loud, especially the exhibits with any sharks, making it kind of rough for PJ with her sensory issues.
At the end of the exhibition there was a colouring area, trampoline, and tiny triceratops for the kids to play and explore. They do have a sandpit where the kids can dig for “fossils” but I really didn’t want PJ to get sandy so we distracted her when we passed through that area. Overall PJ had a blast. She jumped to her hearts content, she manipulated her “Tio Rich” to push her all around on that triceratops, and coloured with her dad until it was time to go.
I will say it was a total splurge for us. It was $400 (USD 14.00) per adult and $240 (USD 8.40) per child over the age of two. It was worth just getting out of the house and being able to see something different though. You can buy tickets in advanced through RedPagos or at your local Tienda Inglesa. The last day to see the exhibit is April 5th.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but PJ has a speech delay. She’s always been hesitant to speak or communicate in ways other than grunting/screeching and pointing.
I started noticing the delay when she was about 18 months old and still hadn’t said,”Mama” on more than one occasion. Whenever I tried to share my concerns everyone brushed them off and said things like, “Kids develop at different speeds/So and so didn’t start talking until they were 5/You’re just being paranoid she’s fine.” But deep in the pit of my stomach I knew that things weren’t fine.
When PJ started school last year I always asked the teachers how she was doing and I was constantly being told that she didn’t really interact with the other kids or that she would immerse herself in her own activities and not participate. They thought she might have an ear problem so we started taking her to appointments. We had a few meetings with the school’s psychologist but she never suggested anything more than what we were already doing.
After months of appointments of hearing tests and figuring out that her hearing was in fact fine we were directed to see a pediatric neurologist. She prescribed an EEG which took us MONTHS to finally get because PJ kept getting sick whenever we had it scheduled–after 5 months we finally got it done and everything was normal. The neurologist also suggested we start seeing a speech therapist to see what we can do. And so, PJ started seeing a speech therapist twice a week for 50 minute sessions.
After only two months of therapy PJ was able to say more than one syllable words. She started asking us for things as opposed to grabbing us by the hand and taking us to whatever she wanted. She was able to put tiny phrases together like “Momma come!” or my favorite at the time “Shake, rattle, roll!”
Don’t get me wrong, PJ knew things. She knew her alphabet. She knew her numbers. She knew the difference between her vowels and her consonants. PJ knew her animals and what noises they made. Everyone, including the doctors and teachers, said PJ was brilliant and knew more than most two and a half year olds but she just didn’t know what to DO with that information.
When we took PJ to Miami, coincidentally right after she turned three, she had an intense mental growth spurt. She was able to answer “yes” or “no” to our questions and she was able to more or less communicate with her cousins. She would talk to us about things she saw or specifically ask us for things like “Mom, we go to cousin house?” I must’ve cried so much on our trip just seeing this new light in her eyes, the excitement of being able to communicate. But she still had her little quirks of isolating herself, not answering to her name whenever she was too immersed in something, or even organizing toys by size or color.
Fast forward to last week when we had a meeting with a new pediatric neurologist. This time we were (unknowingly) meeting with the head of the department at our hospital. She spent almost two hours with us interviewing us and observing PJ play in the corner of the office. For the first time someone asked us, “Have you ever thought that your daughter could be on the spectrum?” I wanted to break down crying because finally someone wasn’t ignoring it. I had spent months trying to get someone to acknowledge that it was a possibility but every therapist and doctor said we hadn’t crossed that bridge yet.
To sum up the meeting she recommended we start taking PJ to meet with an occupational therapist as well as her speech therapy. She was calm and patient, she explained that PJ obviously isn’t on the more extreme side of the spectrum (whatever that means) but that she just had things she needed help with. She assured us that PJ would lead a normal life; which kinda made me roll my eyes because obviously this isn’t a death sentence but I guess not every parent sees it that way.
However I will say that this couldn’t have come at a more stressful time. Trying to set up an appointment with a therapist in the middle of Uruguayan summer is next to impossible since everyone is on vacation. We still don’t know PJs school schedule for the upcoming year so we can’t really schedule a set therapy schedule until the end of February. And then of course we have the new baby coming. We’re going to do everything in our power to get PJ the help she needs but it’s not going to be, for lack of a better word, easy.
Right now I just ask for positive thoughts and prayers as we navigate through this new parenting journey. That God place us where he wants us, with therapists that will help her, with teachers that will be understanding, and as always continue to bless us with people that love and care for our family.
Since I was seven years old, the holidays have never been easy on me or my family. Those who know me intimately know that since 1997 I have spent most holidays with friends or just sitting around watching movies with my family.
Don’t get me wrong, I have fond memories of spending Christmases and New Years’ with my middle school “squad” or spending it on the couch watching TV with my mom and sister–my dad worked all the holidays–but once we had PJ I realized that we would have to bring the magic back to Christmas.
This year was especially hard because we spent Thanksgiving with Carlos’ family in the States. Apart from the expected family drama, it was pleasant trip. PJ got to spend a lot of time with her cousins. They have the sweetest relationship which made it really hard for us to want to leave. Every day since we’ve been back she has asked for her cousins and every day we have to break it to her that they live very far away and we can’t just get in the car and go to their house.
Since we’ve been in Uruguay, Christmas doesn’t really feel like Christmas. We don’t have extended family to celebrate with and since it’s just us we don’t see a point to dressing up or setting up an elaborate table.
This year we ate Christmas dinner in our pajamas and Skyped in my sister while PJ opened her Christmas gifts. Then we Skyped with Carlos’ side of the family so the kids could show off their gifts to each other, which made me cry because duh my kid kept looking at me asking to go to their house. It was rough to see her want nothing more than to be playing with them. But it gives me hope that she’ll get along with her little sister come February–surprise! We’re having another baby! But that’s a post for a different day.
All I can say is that I hope one day Christmas will go back to feeling magical and bright, that we can make new traditions even though we’re not with all of our family and friends…
Something I haven’t mentioned recently is that I started a new job in June. I’m not quite sure if I mentioned it in previous posts’ but I had been applying for work since February. I had a few interviews but nothing ever panned out.
Then in May I had an interview for a company I had heard about but didn’t really know much. (Not really sure if I’m allowed to mention it so I’m going to play it safe and just not). I went into the interview kind of ambivalent. I had already gone to a few, the companies hadn’t even bothered to send me a rejection letter, and I figured the same thing would’ve happened here. But to my surprise they called me back by the end of the week and offered me the job.
I’m glad I took the job. I’m working for a popular big box store in the States–my gosh do I miss big box stores–as a Help Desk Agent for their employees, dealing with things like security cameras, office computers and printers. I like the people I work with. I love getting out of the house and talking with people my own age. I think the decision to get out and work was great for my mental health. But the longer I’m there, the harder it is for me to find an incentive to stay there long term.
Like most companies, getting a promotion here is dependent on whether or not a position NEEDS to be filled. I won’t go as far as to say that promotions, when they happen, aren’t reward based. But they only happen based on when a position opens up. Again, that’s understandable and it happens in most companies, especially the higher up someone gets in a company the harder it is to move from position to position. Unless you’re in IT, but I don’t feel like I’ll be qualified for an IT position any time soon.
In most of my past work experiences I’ve always been ambitious. I’ve always done my job well to get promoted quickly or have been able to find better jobs at other companies based on my customer service. I wanted to be someone “important.” I wanted to be able to do something at more than just an entry level position. But in my current position, both within the company and also in Uruguay, I’m feeling like my only options will always be at a call center.
Which leads me to wonder if we should move back to the States in order to find better paying work. But then I think about health insurance and how difficult it would be to come by unless I have a full time job and I start having a panic attack. I know that us moving, anywhere at this point, is unrealistic.
Before I had kids I would always be the first one into work and the last one out. I worked extra shifts and wouldn’t mind if I didn’t get paid for them. I always figured that my dedication would be noticed and appreciated, eventually being merited. But now every afternoon I make sure to clock out at exactly the precise moment my shift ends to get home and be with my child. I don’t offer to take my coworkers shifts when they need a day off because it means more days away from PJ. I show up, I clock in, do my job, and leave.
I’m at this point in my life where I feel like I have no ambition and no direction in my life apart from loving and caring for my family. I don’t know what I want to do for ME. I look at my husband and his passion for his art. He’s so driven to succeed. He works tirelessly to promote himself, to put on shows, to get recognized by publications, anything that will get him a step ahead.
I miss that burning desire to succeed, you know, the one that feels like a roaring fire in the pit of your stomach being fed with each and every “Good job!” and “Great work! Keep it up!”
I’m hoping that in the coming months I’ll be able to find what fuels me again. Who knows, maybe I’ll find it in this job. Or maybe I’ll find it in something totally different like writing, baking, or outreach! I just know that in order to ignite that fire again I have to start looking for a match.
**I’ll make a post soon about how we’ve transitioned from two stay-at-home parents to one!