§ Tuesday Weigh-in: 180.8 §

Yeah, I know, it’s been more than two* weeks. Sorry about that. There was stomach flu for both BeBop and me and then there was a lot of stress about BamBam, which I will get to in a minute, and now we’re off to (actually in)  Texas visiting both sides of the family for a few weeks. Haven’t had much time to think about writing.

I’ll address the Program first. That weight up there is my final for phase 1, the first 20 weeks of the Program. I lost exactly 50 pounds in phase 1, though my trainer will tell you I lost 45 because I gained 5 pounds between my initial assessment and starting the program and he doesn’t think I should get credit for that. I contend that since I had been dieting on my own for a month or so before the program and lost 10 pounds I should get to count them. Since I’m the one who has been doing all the heavy lifting in the program (and also the one who is doing all the telling about my progress), I win.

The next phase is maintenance, though I’ve still got about 40 pounds to lose (possibly more after this trip – there’s Mexican food here, after all). I’ll meet with the trainer twice a week rather than three times and only see the dietician every other week. This phase lasts 12 weeks, though the first few I’ll be out of town. I’m supposed to check in with my dietician on the phone tomorrow**. We had discussed doing a 90/10 thing (eating on plan 90% of the time) while I’m gone, but I’ll have to tell her it’s been more like 70/30.

I will probably do better next week*** when Sparky goes back home because the boys and I will be in one place and we won’t be visiting a lot of people, just my parents. We started out with my mom and step dad for a day and a half, during which we had dinner with the friends who introduced Sparky and me (Hey guys!). I only realized after they left that I completely forgot to take pictures! Then we drove five hours to stay with Sparky’s parents and sister. We had lunch yesterday with his favorite high school teacher (his favorite teacher really, the high school part is just description) and his high school friend, his wife, and their son. Lovely to meet all of them after hearing about them for so long. He knows some really nice people. We’re driving back to my parents’ on Wednesday and will visit Sparky’s aunts, uncle, and cousins on Thursday. On Friday, my brother, sister-in-law, and three fabulous nieces will join us at our mom’s house until Monday. Oh, and we’ll probably meet up with my step brother for a meal in there as well (hi Ed!) and my mom’s friends from her old job (hi Kathy and Glenda!). Add to all that the fact that it’s nigh on impossible to keep BamBam from jumping head first into Mom’s pool and I’m already exhausted.****

Okay, little aside because BeBop is playing with a book on the floor in front of my chair telling me about the pictures. Right now he’s on a page that has a lot of pictures of food items. He said, “And when you feel sad, you can eat some food and it will make you feel better.” Eek! I had to stop writing for a minute to discuss with him that there are many things you can do if you’re feeling sad that don’t involve eating. You can go for a walk or play with some toys. And he said, “Or take a nap.”  I think I might need a nap right now. Thankfully he’s moved on to the page with the construction trucks.

Where was I? Oh yeah, end of phase 1. At the end of phase 1 of the program, they have you do some tests. They take your measurements and weigh you. They do blood tests. They do something called a dexascan (though I have no idea if that’s spelled correctly) where you lie down on a table and this scanner moves over you to measure your percentage of body fat. It spits out a picture that I thought I might post…until I saw it. Yeah, I thought it would be so much better than the one I had at the beginning of the program, and it is, but a picture of my fat still looks pretty fat. I’ll just tell you about the measurements instead. The dexascan said that I went from 47.9% body fat to 37.5% body fat. My trainer’s measurements showed that I lost 8 inches off my waist and 8 1/2 off my hips. My cholesterol is down to 162 (I think it was 295 before, high cholesterol runs in my family). Oddly enough, my HDL (good cholesterol) was down from 41 (April 2009) to 39, so I guess I’ll need to talk to the Program doctor about that when I get back. Exercise is supposed to increase it, but I’m already doing a lot of that!

As you can see, I’ve been doing pretty well. Lots of progress. Even so, whenever I eat off plan, I feel like I’ve instantaneously gained back at least 40 pounds. It may seem like a good thing to use as a deterrent, but it won’t work for me in the long-term because I want to feel better about myself than that. I need to celebrate how far I’ve come and I don’t want to beat myself up for eating off plan – that’s part of how I got into this in the first place. No, the goal is to have balance in my life, so I’m going to have to work on body image on the inside, too.

One of the things that has been a trigger food for me lately is graham crackers. I may have already mentioned this, but I’m too lazy to go back and look, so I’ll just tell you again. BamBam refuses to eat most foods other than pureed baby food, chicken strips, and graham crackers. So we have graham crackers perpetually at the ready for him. I see them and think I can have just one, but it never stops there. And I don’t even like graham crackers. But they’ve become a gateway drug.

I thought at first that it was the heat (I know I mentioned that) or that I just have no will-power, but I realized a few weeks ago that it’s stress. The heat doesn’t help, I meant what I said about that, but the main thing is stress. Yes, there was stress over  preparing for the impending trip to Texas, but there was something bigger that was causing me much more stress. And I made it infinitely worse by not acknowledging that I was stressed about it at all.

[About 10 days (and a considerable amount of chocolate) passed between writing these two sections.]

You see, BamBam has Sensory Processing Disorder, aka Sensory Integration Disorder. Wait, let me back up and tell you about BeBop first.

When BeBop was a little over two, there were some concerns about his speech. We all thought it was due to the constant ear infections he had and hearing tests certainly seemed to back that up. So we thought that it would get better once he had ear tubes. Well, the tubes stopped his ear infections, but his speech didn’t significantly improve. So, shortly after he turned three, we took him to a speech therapist. She was not so subtle in pointing out to me the reasons she felt that he had significant delays…and not only in speech. Between what she said to me in person and the way she worded her report, she basically made me feel like he would never be able to dress himself or do much of anything more than drool. I know that’s an overreaction, especially since he was already doing many things, but I’m telling you how I felt. I like to think I would have had a better reaction had I been prepared for something that dramatic to be wrong, but I know I’m kidding myself. You’re never prepared for something to be wrong with your kid, regardless of the extent. Or your experience – I was a genetic counselor for crying out loud. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe my experience made it worse. Because I have known kids with profound disabilities. And this time it was my kid whose hands were flapping (hand flapping is a self-stimulatory behavior – and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, count yourself lucky).

The speech therapist and our pediatrician felt that it was PDD – pervasive developmental delay. I was freaked the hell out. In one day, he went from a normal, if quirky, kid who had some issues with talking to a child dealing with autism. And it was my fault. Something I’d done, I was sure, because it had to be. Didn’t matter that the pediatrician specifically told me it was nothing I’d done. All my training in biology and genetics went straight out the window. It was definitely my fault. Yes, I know on some level that it’s not, but I’m still struggling with that concept. If only I had (fill in the blank).

Anyway, we started him in speech therapy and occupational therapy. His occupational therapist specializes in sensory processing disorders. His progress in her care has been remarkable. After a few months working with her, his vocabulary skyrocketed. Seems that once he was better able to deal with the sensory input, he could concentrate on actually communicating.

BeBop started preschool in the fall and did wonderfully there. The teacher told me in April that she thought he would be an early reader. Can you imagine how that made me feel? I’m actually crying right now just remembering it. He still goes to all his therapies (speech, occupational, physical, and a social skills class), but he’s thriving. I’m so thrilled that I sometimes forget that the road to get here was paved with tremendous stress and heartache for me. And largely for me alone because I haven’t shared it with a lot of people. That’s partly because it’s in my nature to be that way and partly because many people I share it with don’t really get that there’s anything wrong. They can’t see it and I can’t really blame them for that, but it makes it difficult to share if I’m afraid they’re going to silently judge me for overreacting or, so much worse, being melodramatic.

So, a year later, BeBop’s still got some issues, but is doing so much better. His OT recently told me that, although she’s not a psychiatrist (it’s a psych who would make the diagnosis of PDD), she felt that he had an isolated sensory processing disorder rather than PDD. She said he’ll be quirky, but so is Bill Gates and he seems to be doing just fine. BeBop still needs therapy and will for a while, but these days I don’t think most people would be able to tell he had any issues at all. I’m rushing him around to various therapies and worrying that he’ll never be potty trained, but basically settled in to our normal life routine and not stressed about it.

And that brings us to BamBam, who, incidentally, got that name because he loves to kick things with his feet – he even kicked BeBops door off its hinges a few months ago. He was six months old when all BeBop’s therapy started. One of the things the OT mentioned about BeBop’s development had to do with crawling – how and when – so I watched BamBam like a hawk. He crawled on all fours right at the standard time, so I was able to breathe again. But then I started to notice little things that reminded me of BeBop’s early develpment. Like the way he seizes up when he gets excited. We thought it was so cute with BeBop, but that was before I knew what it meant.

I took BamBam to our OT to have him evaluated. Turns out he has many of the same sensory issues that BeBop has, so we started him in occupational therapy. I was so cool about it. Really, you would have been proud of me. No freak outs at all because I knew everything would be okay. I even started this intensive weight loss program so that I can be healthier and have more energy to deal with all the demands on me. One of the things they talk about is stress management, which I think is funny because the total time suck of the program is one of the things that stresses me out. Back to BamBam.

Unfortunately, we also noticed that BamBam has a speech delay. I know, I know, how do you tell there’s a speech delay in a kid that young, right? Well, he has no words. He babbles all the time, but doesn’t say words. Except sometimes. Like in the pediatrician’s office, when we both swear we heard him say ‘trash’ – I’m so glad I wasn’t alone or I would have thought I imagined it. He never said it again, though. Anyway, it’s not just the lack of words. I can’t tell if he understands things I’m saying or not. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Like BeBop, BamBam’s speech didn’t improve after he got ear tubes. The pediatrician and I have been discussing this for a while and decided that if his speech hadn’t improved by 19 months, we’d have him evaluated. So, in early July, I took him to a local place that has comprehensive services for kids birth to three (BeBop was too old to go there by the time we had him evaluated). BamBam ran around the room, flitting from one thing to another, just the way he does at home. The speech therapist echoed back to me, and agreed, that it was impossible to tell if he understood things. I find it hard to describe, but I’ll try because I’m just that damn stubborn. If you show him three different toys and tell him to grab the ball, sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t. When he does, you can’t tell if it was because you told him to or if that was just what he wanted to do in that moment. And when he doesn’t, you can’t tell if it’s because he doesn’t understand what you’re telling him to do or if he’s just not paying attention to you because he’s focused on something else. It’s maddening. I won’t go into more detail (What’s that? Too late, you say?), but basically they’re suggesting he have three different therapies there in addition to the OT he already has. Their terms are different than I’m familiar with, but I think they were motor, social, and education. Whatever those mean. He’s not getting speech yet because the speech pathologist feels we need to work out his sensory issues first. If he still needs speech therapy once we can get him to sit still for a few minutes at a time, we’ll add that on then.

Up until the evaluation, I was still under the impression that I was not stressed out about this at all. Just another day in the busy life of a stay-at-home mom, carting the kids around to their various activities. When we got home, I ate a graham cracker. Then another. Not a huge deal. Although I had been having some issues with graham crackers and my diet, as I said above. They’re not on my diet. With good reason, too, because that was just the start. I ended up eating my way through anything I could find in the house. A friend of mine drove BeBop home from camp that afternoon and I told her I realized I might be a little stressed over this whole thing. She looked at me like I had an arm growing out of my forehead and said, “Of course you’re stressed.”

Yes, you can say, “duh” now, but I really didn’t know it. I thought that because we’ve been through this with BeBop and we’re getting BamBam help even earlier, that I shouldn’t be upset about it. I know from experience that it will be okay. I’ve been here before in a very similar situation, so there’s nothing to be upset about, right? Right!?! Uhm, no, Michelle, that’s not right. You have a second child with special needs and it’s okay to be upset about that. More than that, it’s normal to be upset about it.

Okay, so I’m stressed. I actually felt much better once I admitted it to myself. Well, that and after I ate my way through a bacon cheeseburger and a hot fudge brownie sunday. Hey, it’s a process. I’ve been struggling on and off with the diet ever since. Being on an extended trip hasn’t helped with that either. It’s hard at home and that’s intensified exponentially on the road.

I know he’ll be fine and that these therapies are what he needs. He will be fine. But I’m scared anyway. I want everything to be perfect for him. He deserves it. He’s such a sweet little guy. They both are. And they deserve everything to be wonderful and smooth for them. I keep telling myself that this will make them stronger and more interesting. Part of my brain shouts back that I’d rather have them boring as hell but happy. Which is funny to look at now that I’ve written it because the one consistent thing people say when they meet my boys is how happy and friendly and smiley they are. What do I know anyway?

And then there’s that pushy girl in my head. You know, the one in the back with the wretched, annoying voice? She keeps telling me what a horrible, selfish mother I am because part of my stress is that I don’t know how in the world I’m going to fit three more therapies a week into our already packed schedule. I’d taser the stupid cow if it wouldn’t knock me out to do it.

To close on a happier note, I can tell you that the visits with Sparky’s parents, sister, Aunts, and cousins were lovely, as was the visit with my brother and his family. The visit with my mom and stepdad has been lovely as well, but it’s not over yet and you never know what kind of hell might break loose around the corner. 🙂 And as consolation for three weeks of waiting for another post, I leave you with pictures from a professional photo shoot we did while my brother’s family was here. I’d post pictures of Sparky’s family, but I can’t find the stupid USB connector to download the pictures from my camera! I’ll try to post some of those in a few days when I WILL find the USB connector.

Back row: My brother and Sparky; Third row: Me, Gilmo, and Mombo; Second row: BeBop, Bean, and my SIL; Front row: Bug, BamBam, and Blue

Left to right: BeBop, Bean, Blue, BamBam, and Bug

My favorite picture of the bunch because it shows off my boys' personalities.

*More than three weeks now. I needed some extra time to stele myself to write the kids’ issues part of the blog.

**Well, it was tomorrow when I started writing this more than a week ago.

***Yeah, I was so totally kidding myself about that. Much worse with Sparky gone.

****Once again, this stuff is all in the past as of the posting of this blog, but if I go back and fix it all, I’ll never get the stupid blog posted.