All the wispy bits are gone. Audrey's haircut was pretty uneventful. She liked sitting in the little toy car while watching Dora the Explorer. She glared a little when the lady sprayed her hair with water but didn't make a peep.
Emily has been on her full strength dose of Zoloft for 2 weeks now. I feel like a completely different child is living with us. There were times, when things were good, that I would see glimpses of the little girl we have now, but they were very fleeting moments and clouded with endless tantrums, crying, sadness and worry. Prior to beginning medication, Emily was on time out at least 2 times a day. Emily used to wake up every morning crying and telling me she had to vomit. Now she comes into our room with a big smile on her face and giggling. Drop off at school has been amazing. Jeremy has been taking her to school lately because it's hard for me to get around. He used to dread taking Emily to school because it has always been so difficult. He comes home laughing and telling me how he has to call her back for a kiss and she runs off to go play with her friends. Now that we've seen this side of Emily, we can't believe what she must have been going through before. I'm so happy for her.
This is Audrey's "busy face". The face she wears when she is very focused on doing something. Emily introduced Audrey to a new toy that kept Audrey's attention for most of the evening. Only problem with this toy is that it is considered a MAJOR CHOKING HAZARD for a tot Audrey's age...
She never once attempted to put any of the pegs in her mouth and was really enjoying herself so I decided to let her continue to play with it, with me sitting at her side the whole time. I'm not sure if that was bad judgement on my part or not.
Sometimes it's hard have one sibling much older than the other because of the crossover of toys like this.
Saturday we attended the 1st bday party of the little girl I occassionally babysit. This is the daughter of one of Emily's preschool teachers. Emily had a great time. I wasn't surprised. Emily's teacher is one of 10 siblings and there were tons of kids of all ages running around having fun. What DID surprise me was how independent Audrey was. She left Jeremy and I and played with sidewalk chalk and some other toys that were available for kids her age. She had the sense not to get in the middle of all the chaos of the older running kids. She spent the entire party away (sometimes uncomfortably far away) from Jeremy and I finding things to keep herself busy. A few times some of the other parents were surprised to find her on her own and I would call from my watching post and let them know I had an eye on her. On one hand I was happy that she could be this way, especially since I'm going to have my hands full soon with a newborn, but on the other hand, it made me a little sad to see her acting like such a big girl so soon.
Today my shift as "mom" ended so quickly that I feel like I never connected with my girls today. Jeremy took Emily to school today while I got ready for an OB appointment. My mom came over to watch the girls for a little bit while I went to my appointment and then to the grocery store for much needed food. I came home, my mom left with Emily (who is spending the night with my parents). My shopping excursion wore me out so much that I spent most of the day laying on the couch while Audrey watched The Backyardigans and came over to hug me every 30 minutes or so. She was probably telling me that her show had ended and could I start a new one for her.
By 5:00 Audrey was exhausted and sad so I put her down for a nap, although I pretty much knew she was down for the night. I was right. So the rest of the night I've been sitting on the couch missing my girls. I hate that I have no energy for them right now. I'm in a lot of pain and it's hard for me to do much lately. I know this is temporary and soon we will be one BIG happy family. I can't wait.
I also wanted to take the time to thank all of you who have commented and emailed me regarding our issues with Emily. They have not gone unnoticed. I'm hoping to be able to write more of an update of her progress soon. The results so far have been incredible. The other day Emily told me she was happy about an activity that she had done earlier in the day and it made me realize that Emily has never used the word "happy" in regards to herself before. I have had a few people ask me what medicine Emily is on. I think there was a misconception that she may be on Ritalin. She is actually on Zoloft. I'm so thankful that it is available for her.
So my girls have figured out how to hug each other. I'm not sure if that sounds weird or not, but I guess it takes time for a 15 month old and a 5 year old to figure out how to snuggle with each other. Today Emily was relaxing in her bean bag and Audrey came over, climbed on top of Emily and laid her head on Emily's shoulder. Emily looked over at me as if to say, "Check this out!" haha The she started stroking the back of Audrey's head while Audrey made little cooing noises. It lasted all of about 5 minutes but I thought it was such a sweet and loving moment. I hope their love for each other blooms with age.
Tomorrow (Friday) I will be 35 weeks pregnant. I'm secretly hoping that for some reason my dates are off and I'll be going into labor within the next week or so. Since we don't have any idea when we conceived my dates could very well be off, but the doctor assures me that I'm measuring perfectly everytime I go to see him. The last trimester of pregnancy is very uncomfortable for me. Everything hurts and I can't breathe most of the time. I hate to complain about such a wonderful blessing but it's hard not to when taking care of a family. I can't believe that we will be a family of five soon. I want Molly out and in the mix of it all. I can't wait to meet her.
We still haven't figured out sleeping arrangements. Jeremy's "office" is in our bedroom so Molly's naps will be taken in Emily's bedroom in a pack n play during the day. We'll have a crib in our room for the night. Audrey still has her own crib and has slept very well in it since 6 weeks so I'm not messing that up. I have no idea how long I'll have Molly in her crib in our room. Both Emily and Audrey needed their own rooms to sleep in by 2 months of age to sleep through the night (12 hours, yay!). I don't know if, when the time comes, I want to put Molly with Audrey or Audrey will Emily. So many options. I'm almost tempted to give each child a room and sleep on the fold out in the livingroom. JUST KIDDING! It's just that I like my sleep and my kids are really good at theirs and I don't want to flub it all up.
Things I still need to buy: Podee bottles, Hotsling, Ameda breast pump.
The girls are keeping me busy during Spring Break. I wish I could say that I've been doing all sorts of fun things with them, but I'm not. I'm starting to feel a lot of aches and pains from the pregnancy and my energy is at an all time low. Luckily, they have been good and seem to understand that mama just isn't herself right now. Audrey has found ways to entertain herself. Here is her newest obsession, LOTION!!
Sorry it's taken me so long to write again. I've been thinking about everything I've written so far all week. Hopefully I remember everything from when I left off...
I should begin by mentioning that a year ago we had seen a different psychiatrist who I had found in our provider list through insurance. This was prompted by Emily's teachers and the school psychologist also. At that time they were concerned about Emily's behavior but they weren't completely sure that any interventions needed to be taken at that time. That visit was pretty much a dead end. The doctor who we met with said that he mostly dealt with children past the age of 7 and he mostly just dealt with ADD/ADHD issues and would prescribe Ritalin. He said that he thought that Emily just needed to mature and all should be fine. He also made it seem like Emily's teachers were over reacting. Jeremy and I were at a loss because on one hand it was great to hear that nothing ultimately was wrong with Emily, but what to do about all the problems that still exist?
This time around Emily's teacher had some referrals for me. One of the doctors stood out with me so much more than the other ones. She was female, had been a teacher, was a mother of 3 grown girls, had a lot of experience with children, and specialized in determining whether or not children needed to be medicated to deal with issues or if maybe other therapies could be implemented. I made an appointment with her and ran out and bought the book that she had written. The appointment was a week away and it felt like I was waiting for Christmas to arrive. I wasn't scared or worried. I was so hopeful and excited that this would be the person who could help us all. She could shed some light on the past 5 years we've experienced with Emily.
A week passed and it was time to go to our appointment. My mom came over to watch Audrey. Jeremy, Emily and I loaded up in the truck and headed out for the doctor's office. Her office was located a little over an hour away and we told Emily we were on an adventure. Emily was already seeming a bit nervous but also seemed happy that we had picked just her to go.
We made it to the appointment on time and I liked the doctor right away. She was very down to earth, not a bit clinical and would share stories about herself and her children as we got to know each other. She was able to make Emily feel at ease and as far as Emily knew, we were just visiting with an old friend. After we got Emily settled with a few toys and completed some paperwork the doctor started to ask us lots of questions. She wanted to know our main concerns and what brought us to come see her. We shared some incidents with her and also gave the doctor the report that Emily's teacher had given us to share. Listed were all of the ways that they had tried to help Emily through her issues. The doctor was very impressed with all that the school had been doing for Emily. Finally the doctor told Emily that she wanted to ask her a few questions.
Emily sat on the couch next to me and the doctor asked, "Emily, are you smart or dumb?"
Emily smiled and said, "I'm smart!"
Doctor, "Emily are you pretty or ugly?"
Emily, "I'm pretty", with a sheepish grin.
Doctor, "Emily, if you could choose three presents, anything that you want, what would you choose?"
At this point Emily started to scratch her left arm with her right hand, up and down, up and down. I thought she was going to break through her skin. She started to blush and then sweat. Then she started to look at Jeremy and I, then back to the doctor. All the while she was saying, "Ummmm." over and over. She ran across the room and sat in a different chair. The doctor encouraged her to come back. Jeremy and I assured her that there was no wrong answer, she could answer anything she wanted. She came back and sat down next to me. Back to the scratching, blushing, sweating. I thought she was going to start to cry. She finally looked around the room really quickly and named off three toys on the floor. Toys that she never would have wanted. This was such a simple question. I started to feel so badly, thinking of what 3 hours every day at school must be like. Especially with no Jeremy or myself helping her along. It hurt.
After Emily answered that question, the doctor asked a few more simple questions that she knew Emily wouldn't have a hard time with. We got Emily calmed down and back to playing with the toys. The doctor wrote some final notes and shut her notebook.
She then said the sentences that I had needed to hear for so long, "Emily is not a "brat". In fact, considering what she is up against she is one of the most disciplined children I have come across. You (Jeremy and myself) are not overreacting. She is displaying obvious signs of OCD and anxiety, some depression. You both have done as much as you can as parents and it's very obvious, that even though you've been dealing with a lot, you've been doing the best for your child. Let's discuss how we can help Emily." I had been holding strong this whole visit but when I heard those words I couldn't stop crying. I felt like I was flashing back to every time I was so hard on Emily. When I told her that her 1 year old sister could "get over" things quicker than she could. How many times I had put her on time out and, when things got really bad, how many times I had spanked her, thinking that she was just stubborn and strong willed. I cried from the happiness that we were going to get help for Emily. I mostly cried thinking about how scared Emily must have felt most of the time. How alone she must have felt when Jeremy and I didn't understand. Bittersweet to say the least.
The doctor first told us of some exercises that could be done to help Emily through a lot of her anxious behavior, but she also said that it would be difficult because a 5 year old doesn't understand the use of coping skills. Most of the exercises we discussed Jeremy and I had already been doing. As I said in my first post, we kept trying to get Emily out there and through exposure to a lot of her anxieties we were hoping that slowly she would be at peace with a lot of things that brought out the worst in her. The doctor acknowledged that we had been doing a lot with Emily and said that ultimately medicine would most likely be the answer to our problems.
I asked the doctor what she would do in this situation. She answered if Emily was her daughter she would start the medicine. That we needed to see medicine as a "cast" that would support Emily as we kept guiding her and raising her to be a functioning adult. All through our conversation the doctor had stressed the importance of discipline and that even though some kids have extra on their plate we can't put that aside. This is one of the reasons that I really liked the doctor. Not all therapists and doctors stress the aspect of discipline and focus on the main goal of our children being able to function on their own.
So we left with a prescription and began medication that very night. We're starting Emily on a very low dose and increase every 4 days until she is at a dosage that the doctor believes will help relieve a lot of Emily's OCD, anxiety and depression. We were told that it would take 4 to 6 weeks at full dosage to see real changes, but this past week has been amazing. Emily hasn't cried once at drop off this whole week. Prior drop off was Emily clinging to me while screaming, "Don't leave me! I miss you! I miss daddy! Please don't go!" Every morning her teachers had to pry her off of me while I ran out the door. On a good day she would just whimper until the door shut and I could hear her screaming as I walked to the car. The first day of medicine Emily told me that she would miss me but then ran in the classroom. I was a bit shocked. The second day Emily didn't say anything. She ran into the classroom and started playing with her friends. Her teacher and I both looked at each other with eyebrows raised. She made it through the whole day happy and joyful. We have noticed that when we get to the end of the 4 days at a certain level Emily is getting a bit antsy but not anywhere near where she was before.
Home life has been incredible. I haven't sent Emily to her room ONCE in the past week. She hasn't screamed all week long. She hasn't cried out of the blue. She hasn't told me she misses people at night with tears in her eyes. She hasn't had a night waking all week. (Emily has been waking in the middle of the night, every night, for a few months now). Even more amazing, Emily has started to play different at home. Emily has never voluntarily colored or drawn. She would never try to stack blocks or play with her legos that my MIL bought her when she was a year and a half old. She would always be afraid of drawing something wrong, or not being able to build anything with her legos. She was her own worst critic. This week Emily has been playing with legos everyday. She's been making all sorts of animals with her legos. She giggles out of the blue. She doesn't have a tantrum over a new challenge that presents itself. She shares her opinions without frustration and can laugh at herself freely. I have the daughter that I always knew was in there somewhere. The daughter that I wanted to laugh and play with, without worrying about when it was all going to crumble into tears and screaming. The daughter who now comes to me to hug me "just because" not with tears, fear and worry. The child who, when it was time to end playtime and do something else would laugh and help me put things away while telling me what she liked so much about what we had just been doing. Not the child who, while we were doing a fun activity would keep asking me how much longer we had to play, and not enjoy herself for the moment.
I can't begin to describe what this transition has done for all of us. Jeremy and I just look at each other after getting the girls to bed and laugh. We share different stories of how much Emily has changed. I know it seems impossible but it is truly happening.
Tomorrow is Jeremy's birthday and I know this has been the best gift he could have ever received. I know that it's mine.