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The Battery Saga Continues

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After all was fine and he was waking up from the anesthesia

When my son was nine months old, he swallowed a disc battery. I had seen it the day before, sitting menacingly towards the back of the cabinet under the bathroom sink and thought to myself, “I must remember to get that”. Of course, we had child locks on the cabinet, but my son was some sort of super baby and could open them (He could also open the baby gate that was guaranteed until two years old…). That morning, having completely forgotten about the battery, I was washing my face and turned for about two seconds to dry my face on the towel hanging on the back of the door. I turned around and slow motion ensued: I could hear myself shouting “no” for far too long and it felt like it took a year to take the two steps necessary to get to where he sat, happily staring me straight in the eye as the battery slipped into his mouth.

For a split second, I was relieved. “Phew,” I thought, “He didn’t choke. He swallowed it”. Then, realization. He swallowed a battery. That can’t be good. Then I did the worst thing a mother can do in any situation ever: I Googled it. If you are reading this and you are a new mother, please, take this advice: Never. Google. Anything. Ever. Seriously, get someone else to do it. I’ve since had my mom look things up for me, or my husband even. It’s not worth the stress. Within two entries, I was sobbing on the floor and holding him, imagining the battery turning on and electrocuting him from the inside (which, apparently is a real thing) or it having gotten stuck on its way down and burning a hole in his esophagus (also, real).

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Baby boy drugged after procedure

In the end, neither of those things happened. But we did have to go to the hospital, where they drugged him, gave him an endoscopy and we had to stay the night. Looking back on it, it was the best possible way to end that scenario. The top endoscopist in the country even happened to be at the hospital that day, so he was able to perform the procedure. At the time, however, it seemed the scariest thing in the entire world. My husband and I clung to each other sobbing the entire day. I will never in my life forget the X-ray that showed us just how pressing of a procedure it was: the battery took up most of his stomach and looked monstrous in there.

So we obviously have gotten completely overly-protective and paranoid about batteries, right?

Ha.

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As he starts to get loopy from drugs

Fast forward two and a half years (more or less) to yesterday. I decide that it’s okay to go to the bathroom and leave my eight month old and three year old (the battery survivor) in their room just up the hall. I leave the door open and instruct the boy to come get me if she was bothering him, etc, thinking the worst thing that could happen would be the little one would grab his trains, he would scream and cry, possibly push her and they would both be crying upon my return. I was half right. He was playing trains and she did try to grab them.

The boy comes running into the bathroom saying, “Look! Thomas is broken!” and sure enough, his motorized Thomas the Tank Engine was broken. Not surprising, as the day before he had a few friends over and they discovered this lovely game of running up and down the hall shrieking as loudly as possible and throwing his trains. Then I noticed the battery was missing. “Oh no! Thomas IS broken,” I say, calmly, “But where is the battery?”. “Izzy’s eating it!” he exclaims, obviously finding it funny.

Panic. “Go get it from her!” I scream, “Go get the battery!”. The little genius runs to the kitchen and attempts to open the cupboard where we keep the new batteries (one of the last cupboards with a working child lock, thankfully). So I jump up (pants around my ankles, of course, because everything has to happen while mom is in the bathroom, right?!) and run to her. She’s happily crawling around at the end of the hall with no battery in sight. I search all around: nothing.

“Impossible”, I think to myself. After all, this isn’t a disc battery. This is a AA battery. She can’t have swallowed it. Especially without making any noise or gagging and throwing up. “Impossible”, I think again.

After repeatedly quizzing my son about what actually happened (who had lost all interest and was not even answering my questions in any coherent way), I promptly forget all about it until my husband comes home and I double check with him. “Impossible”, he says. I text my mom. “Impossible”, she says.

I relax on the sofa and forget about it. Until about 10:00 PM when she suddenly wakes up screaming, obviously uncomfortable. She is straightening her legs, kicking them out, screaming in pain and not nursing. All I can hear, besides her screams, is my little boy’s voice: “Izzy’s eating it!”.

And of course, I lose it. My husband is asking me what we should do and what I think, still declaring it impossible, and all I can think of is never seeing this little girl again. So I find out exactly how I handle a worst-case-scenario: horribly.

Still thinking it impossible, we call an ambulance (which seemed a bit much, but as we don’t have a car and taking the train seemed a bit too relaxed, it was our only option). At this point, of course, she stops screaming. And from the moment we call, through the entire ambulance ride, the check-up, the X-ray, and the taxi back home, she is happy as a clam, chatting away with the “hunky” EMTs (my husband’s word, though they truly were) and “dadada”ing her way around the hospital, waving to all and sundry. I’m pretty sure they all thought I was mental.

But I could still hear my son’s voice and so I just had to know for sure.

In the end, of course, it was nothing. We still cannot find this battery, but it isn’t inside her. At one point, though, when I told the doctor that my son had swallowed a battery before, I immediately regretted it, thinking he would instantly initiate an investigation with the German CPS and they would take my children from me because I was inept, incompetent – who has TWO children swallow batteries?

Well, thankfully, not me.

Like she just don't care...

Like she just don’t care…

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Everything Will Be Awesome

So we recently watched The Lego Movie and I’ve pretty much had the song, “Everything Is Awesome” in my head ever since. Which, to be honest, isn’t so awesome. However, I’m feeling really pumped right now (and it’s a pretty good “feeling pumped” song) and I think it’s safe to say that while things have not changed much for the better as of yet, things are looking up up up.

We are moving. Yes, that’s right. Moving to an ENGLISH. SPEAKING. COUNTRY. Yes, I was yelling. That’s how excited I am. We’re moving to the U.S. in September; specifically, to New Jersey. I know it seems awful and cliche and like I’m setting myself up for failure, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to win at life once we move. We’re going to save money and possibly even buy a house! We’ve got quotes from lenders and everything! I’m going to exercise and everything will be fantastic.

Okay, I know it won’t be that easy, but it will be easier and right now, that’s huge. Because it’s been so hard for so long, I’m ready to give up. Except I don’t have to.

What I’m going to do, though, is start setting goals. During the week, I’m going to do one thing for myself every day. Saturday, I’m going to yoga (Starting this Saturday – Eek!!). One day (TBA), I will blog. Another, I will paint. The others will be exercise related. I will also stretch and clean every day for fifteen minutes each. No more, no less. Beyond, of course, the laundry and dishes.

What inspired this? Besides the fact that I’m “thinking” of doing this all the time? My husband said that we weren’t ready to own a house. And though he’s right, I want to prove him wrong. I want to be ready. I want to take my life back because I’m ready to have one and I finally have the opportunity.

More to come.

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Postpartum

I really didn’t think postpartum depression would be an issue for me – mainly because I’m already depressed. How could you have two forms of depression? Well, it turns out, you can. Postpartum, it seems, is much more physical. Or perhaps that’s just because it’s anxiety? Really, I don’t even know how to write about this because I don’t even know how to feel about it. Frankly, I don’t understand how to even feel it, let alone analyze or describe it. It’s new, and different. And with my history of depression and anxiety, I wasn’t expecting that. I was completely sidelined.

People keep saying to me that I’m just being too hard on myself and expecting perfection and having two kids is supposed to be hard. I know that it is. But, even though the boy is in Kita, I still can’t seem to function. Even though the girl sleeps pretty well at night, I still don’t seem rested and up to the task of caring for them. My nerves are on edge. Just a little whine or cry sets me off and I am horrified to find myself thinking about shaking her or throwing her or punching him or just leaving them on the train platform and walking away. Now, scary as that may sound (and believe me, it scares me), I know that I’m still “together” enough not to actually do those things. But it is still pretty scary. And horrible. I look at their little faces and my heart breaks because I love them so much that I just can’t.

I wake up and try to prepare myself to have a good day. After all, I’m pretty lucky. My husband takes the wild child to school every morning so that I can sleep in with the baby. I have a cleaner that comes once a week. My husband will also pick up the slack in the evenings: he makes dinner, he cleans the kitchen, and takes over caring for the boy. Literally ALL I have to do is get out of the house around midday to pick up the boy, get home, put him down for a nap and put on a movie when he wakes up (or better yet, actually play with him, but that’s another level entirely). That’s it. I should be able to handle that. And some days I can. Occasionally I can even do it without breaking down and crying.

But most days, she doesn’t cooperate. Or he doesn’t. She would usually fall asleep on the way to pick him up – Great! Then, there is something about his school that wakes her up. Always. So I try to put his coat on and get him out the door as quickly as possible so that the movement of the stroller/carrier (I’m willing to try anything) will lull her back to sleep quickly so that I can give some attention to poor little boy who I love so much I start crying just thinking about it. However, said beautiful little boy rarely cooperated. He would lag. He would stop to look at sticks. He would try and run in puddles. It would be raining and of course he won’t carry his umbrella or keep his hood up. It would end in her screaming and then him screaming as well, seemingly trying to match her in volume, all to get my attention.

I bought a double stroller. That solved the problem with him, yet she still wakes up and cries and then he cries. And then I cry. On the train. In public. In the rain.

Often, she falls asleep again before we get home and I put him to bed fine and honestly, the rest of the day could proceed well. But it doesn’t. Because that in and of itself is enough to completely destroy me. I’m shattered for the rest of the day. So that when, during our movie (AKA my minimal parenting time), she wakes up and I have to feed her, I sob when he looks at her and moves slightly away. Then of course, he starts crying and saying, “Stop, mommy. Stop. It’s OK. Stop, mommy.”, which just makes me cry all the more.

Those are good days. When she sleeps. When it isn’t raining or snowing so much that taking her out isn’t just ridiculous.

I’m so tired. My body feels slack, like there is nothing holding my shoulders up above my back and head up on my neck. I have actually body aches like flu symptoms and searing headaches.The instant the baby cries, I start having a panic attack. Yet I try my best to smile at my boy and tell him it’ll be fine and that his baby sister just cries sometimes and that that is OK. And it is in that trying that I lose it. It is somehow that trying that is too much for my heart.

Apparently my husband, who doesn’t understand at all and who is getting more and more frustrated with me and with whom I have resorted to communicating with in either passive aggressive or defensive snaps and snarls, was worried enough to call my mom. So she flew out. Which helps, in that I now have time to sit here and drink tea and write this while someone else tries to put my two beautiful children to sleep. And I’m eating much better. But I’m still crying. And I the baby crying or fussing still makes me so anxious, my stomach hurts. And my little boy’s face still breaks my heart.

I have called my midwife and emailed a therapist. I am going to call my doctor tomorrow, but I don’t have a lot of hope that this will be cleared up. And I really worry about what it’s doing to my marriage.

But then, I worry about everything.

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First Personal Mommy War

So, it happened. My child had a (very small) altercation with another child at a ‘Mommy & Me’ event and it’s turned into an issue.

We were at the home of a little girl whom the boy absolutely adores. They play really well together and he’s there quite often. Not that that makes a difference. We’ll call the other little girl (the girl in question), GIRL and her mom, MOM. Because, yeah, that’s how creative I’m feeling right about now.

So, all the kids (under 3, mind) are all running around and playing – not quite together, but you know. Well enough. Now, this little wild child of mine may be tall for his age and quite a sturdy boy, but he’s actually oddly protective of his own space and of being touched. This includes touching other children, which he doesn’t often do. So, pushing and hitting? Not so much an issue. Throwing toys that hit other kids? Yeah, if someone accused him of that, I’d believe it in a heartbeat. But pushing? Climbing on another child? Hasn’t ever happened.

So, there were a couple of incidents I noticed where the boy was trying to pass and this GIRL put up her hand in his face. She didn’t push him or physically harm him in any way, but her actions still felt aggressive to me, as his mom. He, of course, instantly ran up to me sort of half crying and I said something along the lines of: It’s okay, sweet boy. If someone does something you don’t like or pushes you, you say ‘No, thank you’ and walk away.

He ran off again happily. I didn’t say this because I thought she pushed him. I said it because it’s how he reacts to any child that comes near ‘his area’. I want him to learn to use his words to express what he needs from those around him. In his case, that’s his space. Though, I suppose, like I said, I do find her behavior in general, and specifically regarding this situation, to be aggressive, even though she didn’t push.

This had already happened twice when both of them shifted more towards the area where the MOM was sitting (I was in the living room and she was sitting at the dining room table – though it’s an open floor plan and we could see each other easily, she hadn’t been able to see the children in the corner of the room where they were before). Again, GIRL was attempting to push two baby strollers filled with stuff , which she was obviously struggling with (it was actually funny and cute) and she was taking up a lot of space. The boy again tried to go around her and she again turned on him and put her hand up right in his face. He ran back to me and I said the same thing. MOM came right over and said, ‘She wasn’t pushing. It’s what I taught her to do when boys climb all over her back. She doesn’t like that.’ I responded, which maybe I shouldn’t have done at all, saying that he wasn’t climbing on her, he was just trying to get by.

And that was that. Or so I thought. We went outside and everything was fine. I even helped GIRL up into the big trampoline and gave MOM her socks so they wouldn’t get wet. I thought everything was fine, though if I’m honest, I suppose I was still annoyed with the situation also. And I knew that MOM had some other issues with me that have to do with co organizing mommy events (and no one wants to hear about that).

GIRL continued to use this strategy with any and all children who did anything she didn’t like throughout the morning. One boy WAS sort of jumping on the other children on the trampoline, though not in an aggressive/mean way, but in a very excited ‘how much fun are WE having’ sort of way. My boy obviously hated it and, crying, asked to get off a few times. But this boy’s mom was right there, telling him to stop. Everything was fine. Until he did it to GIRL, who of course instantly put her hand straight in his face and started pushing until he fell down. MOM did nothing. My boy started crying and wanted out just being around that sort of thing and the other boy (who has a big sister and beyond yelling, didn’t seem phased too much) was taken out as well.

Now, do I think GIRL is some sort of horrible child? No. She’s almost 3. She’s young, she’s learning, she’s doing her best. Do I think her mom is the worst? No. She spoils her and doesn’t give her enough discipline, in my opinion. But she does her best and she loves her.

However, I’m pretty sure she thinks my sweet precious little boy is a monster. And granted, he is. But I think she thinks so in a bad way. She sent me an email saying that not only did he push her into a door handle so hard that she has a cut and a bruise under her eye (They were no where near any door), but that she’s seen him pushing before and I’ve done nothing about it.

Like I said, if she had accused him of throwing toys that accidentally hit kids – or even throwing toys AT other kids, I’d probably believe her (Though I DO discipline him for this and he’s gotten MUCH better – He just likes throwing.) but he’s not a pusher.

Beyond the fact that this incident sort of made me question myself as a mother, the worst thing was when they left. MOM instructed her daughter to say goodbye to the other two children there and turned around and left, leaving my sweet boy standing next to me, waving desperately and saying, “Bye, GIRL, bye!” to no response.

Ugh. Mothers.

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Day One

I’m not sure if today really counts as day one, as I’m sitting here as we speak eating Nutella out of the jar (Fun Fact: Did you know Nutella comes from Germany?)… and Nutella, like EVERYTHING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, contains gluten (in the form of soya).

I went to the doctor to check out my bloodwork this morning, which of course, was “fine”. All of my tests are always “fine” and I’m pretty sure my doctor thinks I’m insane. He didn’t say that, but he did say that he didn’t think I had Hashimoto’s. I’ve decided to ignore him and treat myself as naturally as possible, which means gluten free. Sigh. They tell me life goes on, but I don’t believe them yet.

He did allow me to double my dosage of the Levothyroxine so now I’m taking 50mg (or will be starting tomorrow). He says it can’t really hurt me too much as people who are hypothyroid tend to take 100mg a day. So, basically, he said: “You can take the drugs, crazy. Since people with “real problems” take more, you’ll probably be ok…”

What makes this especially hard is the fact that this is what I see EVERYWHERE as I’m walking down the street:

Just imagine how that smells. Now imagine committing to never eat it again. Double sigh. Back to my Nutella.

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My Own Personal Hunger Games

Or, as they call it in Germany, the Standesamt. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure that’s what they call it. I know that Standesamt is something, but I’ve also heard it called the Rathaus, the Bürgeramt and the Bürgerbüro. As far as I know, which is not much at all, they all have something to do with what we’d call City Hall. I believe one of them might be the Foreign Office. I have no idea and I should because I’ve had to spend far too much time there.

Today, we were going to get a paper stamped and signed for our Kindergeld, the money that we should be getting, and have yet to get, for our little man. Isn’t that amazing? Have a kid in Germany? Here’s some money. However, they fool you because to get it, one has to trudge through a mess of German bureaucracy. It has taken us over a year now to do. Mostly because we had no freaking clue what we needed to do.

Now, as anyone knows, if you want to really experience the worst (and at times the best) of any given culture, go to a government office. You want to really see that no one in California speaks English (and that we, as a state, are incredibly, amazingly multicultural) and that the state is bankrupt? You want to finally understand that absolutely no one wants to do ANY work in Barcelona and they will outright lie to you to get out of doing it? Go to the DMV or the Ajuntament.

So, what have I learned about the Germans today? For one, they are amazingly adverse to integrating other languages into their services. I had always wondered how it was possible that EVERYONE in Germany speaks English quite well until you step into City Hall, where they all just stare at you blankly, as if they’d never even heard the word Englisch. Especially in the Foreign Office, where you’d think at least someone would understand that they are dealing with foreigners and therefore, you know, foreign languages. Well, today I learned that they are actually not allowed to speak any language other than German, whether the person actually can speak it or not. At least I think that’s what I learned. I’m not sure because it was in German…

Secondly, they are the worst at queueing. You would think they’d be excellent. You think German, you think stiff and precise (ignoring the other stereotype of Heidi’s grandfather of course). However, not so. They are officially the worst. I thought that the Catalans were funny because upon entering a building, be it the Ajuntament or a bank, they would ask who the last person in line was and then sit or stand wherever they please. That way they don’t have to actually wait in line, but there is still an order involved. Until you get to an FC Barça game, then all bets are off and those little old ladies aren’t adverse to throwing elbows. Here, however, there is no order. It is entirely chaos.

We arrived at the Standesamt (or whatever the hell it’s called) at 8:00 in the morning. Because that is what time they open. Well… except Tuesdays, it turns out. They open at 9:30 on Tuesdays. Of course. So after 15 minutes of moaning about why we live in this country, my husband decided he couldn’t wait the hour and a half and so, went to work. I decided that it was worth me waiting and trying without him because I did not want to come again. The boy and I went and had breakfast (Quiche, which is the closest thing to “breakfast” I’ve been able to find anywhere. A post on that to follow.) and returned around 9:00. There were already about 15 people waiting around in the entry hall. Some were sitting on benches, some were standing ridiculously close to the door, waiting for it to open and some were standing and smoking in places I would bet money they were not allowed to smoke. I let the wild one out of his cage (stroller) and spent the next 15 minutes or so chasing after him whilst trying to drink my tea (which I almost spilled on his head. Twice.).

At that point, I figured we should get close to the door. I’m glad I did because there were then about 30 people all “queueing” at the door – meaning, they were bundled around the door and they sort of kept inching forward every few minutes, especially if they saw their neighbor moving even a millimeter in front of them. Now the child did not appreciate being put back in his cage (stroller) and was at this point, protesting. Not embarrassingly loudly, but to the point where I was starting to panic a little bit. Did that keep people from inching in front of me or actually physically moving the stroller so that they could make it known that they were before me (even if they had just appeared out of nowhere from behind)? No, it did not.

When the doors finally opened, after two full minutes of door-banging by two old ladies at the front, everyone moved. There was only one door, yet everyone seemed to fit through at once. No one thought to hold the door for the poor ladies with the Kinderwagen (there were 3 of us), so I had to sort of prop it open and push through, while bodies were slipping and sliding past on all sides. Once inside, I expected the lines to form. I mean, without direction, fair enough, but now inside, there were those line dividers made out of seatbelt material (I’m sure there’s a word for that, but having lived in foreign lands for 7 years, I can no longer be expected to speak English.). Line dividers = line. Right? Wrong.

They were STILL just inching forward and pushing me/my child out of the way. It was ridiculous. And as he got more and more fussy and actually began to cry, and as I got more and more sick of singing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (his current favorite), I expected someone to show mercy. People were looking at me with pity just oozing from their face; A man tried to fan the little one to keep him from crying; A woman kept looking over and making faces at him, trying to get him to laugh. You could tell they cared. Did that mean that man didn’t drop his fan and rush in front of me when the attendant called ‘next’ (or whatever it is she called) even though he very definitely arrived after me? No, it certainly did not.

Luckily, as I finally pulled to the front, the child was still crying and pulling hard against his restraints, trying to slide out of the cage so the woman took pity on me and signed and stamped my paper even though it was in my husband’s name and he had left, happily avoiding all of it. Now I have to take my stamped paper along with a different stamped paper to an entirely different government office tomorrow.

And so it continues.

It should be noted that this lovely woman also complimented me on my German, and though I know very well that she was lying, it made me feel better all the same.