Tuesday, October 23, 2012

He Refuses to Stop Fighting

I sometimes think parenthood is the most unappreciated, underestimated role in humanity.  Anyone can choose to do it, most people do, but most of us struggle with it in some capacity, and all of us feel like we're failing dismally at some point in time! It's amazing to me how so many kids grow up into functioning effective adults.

The challenges of raising children is horrendous.  What is the right way, what is the wrong way?  We get so much information from the media, experts, family and friends, that if you're anything like me, then you're in a daze of indecision, confusion, and guilt.  And to top it all off, society doesn't in any way help--competition, excessive consumerism, capitalism, a crumbling and ineffective education system, environmental disasters, economic inbalance...it's just one thing after another.

I'm thinking about all this today because my toddler, as many of you may know, is a complex little guy, born a micro-preemie at 24weeks gestation. He weighed only 1lb 3oz at birth, and dropped to less than 1/2 lb in his first week of life.  To say he's had to fight for every breath he's taken is an understatement.

Well, he faces lots of challenges, he's facing them now. Last week, he went for a routine check-in at the hospital (there are lots of these), only to find himself in surgery the next morning.  All is well.  It was a relatively simple procedure on his ears, but the experience for him was anything but simple. There must be a lot of repressed, unexplained associations in his little brain, after all, he spent the first five months of his life in the NICU, and it wasn't simple.  Ventillation for more than three months, nitric oxide treatment, steroids, extremely invasive infection workups, surgeries, resuscitation's.  Jeeze, having a bath was a major trauma for him. Then he was back in the PICU 4 times before he was 2yo, so needless to say, at the age of 3yo, going back into the hospital for surgery was a pretty terrifying thing for him.

We came out of it with the absolute realization that my son refuses to stop fighting.  He fought everyone; the doctors, the nurses, the admin staff...EVERYONE!  He screamed, struggled, fought, and kicked at every touch, every word from everyone. It's was overwhelming and exhausting for me.  I had to hold him in my arms for every second we were at the hospital and he was conscious. I even had to gown up and go in to the OR with him until they got him sedated. It took 3 doctors, me and the anesthesiologist to get him sedated. 

When I left the OR, I went back to his room and cried.  I cried and cried and cried, but what I wanted to do was scream and rage and punch the walls.  Any parent can attest to the pain of seeing their child frightened and distressed and there is nothing we can do but hold them, but my fear now is that with each intervention administered in the name of "what's best for him", is only enraging his psyche, eroding his trust in everyone around him, including me.

The battle didn't end when we left the hospital.  At home he was the same, fighting everything, just wanting me to hold him and carry him every second of the day.  He screams when I put him down, he fights when I try to feed him, he sobs when he doesn't have my attention. He sits on the kitchen floor clinging to my legs until I pick him up. It's overwhelming...what do I do??

So today was his first day back at preschool, and as soon as I picked up his backpack to put him in the car, he started screaming.  He screamed all the way to the center, then clung so tight to me as I carried him from the car to the front door that it took two people to pry him off.  Every cell in my body was screaming at me to take him home again, but all the experts tell me this journey is important for him.  I went back to my car and cried, then I went for a drive to an empty park and screamed at the top of my lungs...just screamed!

What do we do?  How do we know what is right for our kids?  How do we prepare them to be functioning adults in a complex world when we don't even know what kind of world they will be adults in?  The information on parenting rights and wrongs is so abundant and conflicting that none of it helps. Everything about the way our society functions today sits poorly with me.  It all feels wrong and I don't know how to change it.

So, of course, when I'm consumed by these experiences, I turn to the healing art of a mandala.  I doodled this one while I was waiting for my son to come out of surgery, and I painted it when I got home.

Thanks for checking in. xx