Why Medicating Our Son’s ADHD May Have Saved His Life

Two years ago, after a particularly difficult and frightening summer for our family, we received the ADHD diagnosis for our oldest child and made the decision to medicate. I believe it has saved his life, for many reasons, some that I won’t divulge here because he is now older and I feel that some things should be kept private, but it was a very intense two years and a long road leading up to the diagnosis and our eventual decision to medicate.

In short, there were calls home from the school, slipping grades, aggression in the school yard and turmoil at home that made things unsafe for our family. He has always been a smart child and an amazing athlete, but the symptoms of ADHD were hindering his abilities, affecting his well being and the well being of our family.

I wrote the following on the first day of giving my son medication in August of 2017:

Today was the first harmonious day we have experienced in our home in well over a year and I feel like crying tears of joy right now. I’ve been crying a lot lately, mostly tears of helplessness because I haven’t been able to find a way to help my oldest son and we have all been feeling like we are drowning.

Today my son said to me, “I feel like a new me” and my heart nearly burst with joy. He said he felt calm, that he didn’t feel angry, and for the first time in a long time, we saw the boy we knew was deep down inside of him. Today he was happy, agreeable, easy going and helpful. He showed gratitude and patience, and was able to respond to situations in a manner that was appropriate to the situation. He felt good, and it showed. 

Today our house was quieter, calmer, there were no meltdowns, tantrums, threats or fights. Today for the first time in over a year, our oldest son didn’t antagonize his younger siblings or call us names, he didn’t fight, act out, ignore us and bounce off the walls crying out that he hates his brain and wishes he was a “normal’ kid. A truly heartbreaking thing for a parent to hear. 

I didn’t feel like a terrible parent for not being able to “control” his behaviours or calm him with love and attention. I didn’t cry at night, wondering how I would wake up another day feeling helpless to his struggles and the heartbreaking things he said and did during an emotionally charged outburst. Today I didn’t lose my cool out of frustration or beat myself up thinking how I could have handled things better. I didn’t feel like a terrible mother. 

Today we started medication for ADHD and we felt like we gave our son his life back.

I will admit that I used to view ADHD in the way that television or movies portrayed it; as hyperactivity and a lack of focus, but that’s only a small portion of the challenges people with ADHD face. They may also struggle with impulses, emotional regulation, aggression, concentration, organization, and extreme difficulties accomplishing regular tasks of every day life.

The opinions of others made me feel like we had given up by medicating our son, but in reality if we hadn’t stepped in, I feared the worst for him. The truth is, unless you are living in someone’s home, experiencing their lives firsthand and walking in their shoes, you wouldn’t know what is best for their family or their child.

So although I know I will have to deal with the occasional comments and criticisms or skeptical looks from outsiders when they hear about medication or ADHD, I know what science says, I know what my experiences say and I know what my heart says. 

I realized that there was no amount of love, activity, diet change, positive parenting class or essential oil that could have changed things for our son, because ADHD starts inside a person’s brain. Without getting into the science behind it, their brains are different, they are lacking certain chemicals and it affects their mental health and wellness. 

Although we realize medication is most useful in conjunction with therapy and positive parenting, and that medication is only the beginning of our journey, we feel it is a necessary step to help improve our son’s quality of life and to realize his true potential. To calm the negative thoughts and turmoil in his mind so he can see through the fog and know how amazing he really is. 

There are many people in our family who struggle with ADHD, and some of them are adults, so although some argue that it is overdiagnosed in children, contrary to outdated mentality, it is NOT a made up illness. ADHD is a brain disorder, not a behavior problem or a result of bad parenting.

I know this, because today I saw the symptoms of ADHD lifted from my child and when the smoke cleared, a happier, healthier 7 year old re-emerged.

Today was a good day.

 

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Be Free

Sometimes we have to let go…
Let go of what other people think of us,
Let go of drama, toxicity, and
people who are committed to misunderstanding us,
Let go of the what-ifs and embrace the uncertainty
with open arms.

Sometimes we need to release…
Release the hold that other people have on our minds
and clear the path for positive energy,
Release the need to explain ourselves, the need to redeem ourselves,
the need to tame ourselves
to make others comfortable.

Sometimes we have to move on…
Move on from people, places and things,
that poison our hearts, our minds and our spirits
Move on from pain, hurt, and setbacks
and open ourselves to new experiences.

Being comfortable won’t help us learn.
Being stuck won’t help us grow,
Being trapped by the limiting beliefs in our minds
won’t give us the life we want.

Sometimes fear keeps us from sharing the best parts
of ourselves, and prevents us from truly living,
Fear holds us back from the things we deserve
and the people we need,
Fear puts us in a box with a label and leaves no room
for change.

Allow yourself to let go, move forward, release the chains
that are holding you captive, and light that fire within.
Allow yourself to be free.

-Stacey M

I Planned To Eat a Sandwich, But I Gave Birth Instead

February 19th, 2015

“You failed your NST today, do you know what that means?” the OB nurse looked at me matter-of-factly while I sat on the hard gurney waiting for my 35-week ultrasound results.

I parted my lips to answer but before I could come up with a response, she tapped on her clipboard and said, “You’re probably going to be admitted to the hospital again, okay honey? We have to find you a room first, so if you want you can go to the cafeteria and grab some lunch, just come back here in about a half an hour.”

I was unfazed. Actually I was hungry so all I really heard was an invitation to have lunch and an uninterrupted nap. During my previous admission to the hospital for pre-term labor symptoms, I had my own private room, my meals delivered to me and zero responsibilities aside from letting my body cook the two babies that were in utero while the professionals monitored them. It was basically a vacation, but more sterile and with people accosting my body with medical devices several times a day.

I hobbled slowly to the cafeteria, now 35 weeks pregnant with twins and barely mobile. I was sure it would take me the full half an hour just to get to the cafeteria. My crotch bone felt like it was about to cave under the weight of my uterus and my lower back had all but given up hope on survival months ago.

Although I was mildly concerned about what had transpired during my ultrasound that had required 2 techs to gather around the screen and mumble things like “I don’t see any here, do you?” my rumbling tummy was too busy reminding me that I needed to devour some grub ASAP.

I killed a foot long sub in record time and played around on my phone before heading back to triage, where I was greeted by the nurse from earlier and a high risk obstetrician. The OB took a minute to explain that they couldn’t find any measurable amniotic fluid on Baby A, and then her next words floored me:  “You’re not being admitted for monitoring, we have decided it’s best for you to give birth today.”

“Like, now?” I asked in a panic. I wasn’t prepared, I didn’t have any of the shit they tell you to bring to the hospital like slippers and my own pillow or one of those cute birthing gowns and a birthing playlist with “Push It” by Salt N Pepa on it. My makeup looked like crap and I was going to need a fresh face for post birth photos. My breath reeked of onions from the sub, I definitely needed a toothbrush and a breath mint. OMG I though,  my hoo ha is probably bush league right now.

It also dawned on me that I was alone, I didn’t even have a husband there to annoy me while I expelled humans from my body. (Uhh, I mean share in this special moment together.)

I saw the OB reading my frantic expression, although she probably assumed I had a more logical thought process going on that revolved around the health of my babies and not the size of my bush.

“We’re going to get you in a delivery room right now and start the process of inducing you. Don’t worry, it will still be hours before the babies are delivered so as soon as we get you into the room you can call your husband and family.”

Before I knew it I was being wheeled to a delivery room and introduced to a slew of nurses and doctors and given an ugly hospital gown instead of the cute leopard one I should have ordered on Amazon.

“How much do you weigh, Stacey?” the nurse on duty asked me while recording things on her chart.  “A ton,” I lamented, followed with “Uh, I haven’t been weighed since I was 20 weeks along and I was hoping we could keep it that way.”

Luckily my nurse appreciated my sense of humor and she chuckled as she threw a guesstimate onto her chart that I caught a glimpse of later and nearly cried. I also warned her about the potential situation happening with my crotchal region.  “I haven’t been able to see down there in awhile, it’s kind of been a guessing game,” I apologized. She assured me that she saw vaginas all day and bushes were making a comeback.

I called my husband and my mom, the Doctor broke my water and the next few hours were a blur of needles being shoved into me, contractions, me cracking inappropriate jokes, and ultimately being wheeled into the blinding lights of the OR with a team of people hovered around my vagina. My mom took pictures and my husband held onto one of my dead legs for dear life. I couldn’t feel a thing and it was glorious.

The birth went smoothly and thankfully no medical intervention was needed that warranted delivering in the OR.  Baby A came out like a wrecking ball, and he was only handed to me long enough for me to say “You’re so beautiful! Disgusting, but perfect,” to his tiny slimy body before they whisked him away and carried on like it was a baby birthing assembly line.

Baby B arrived 10 minutes later and he was noticeably bigger and redder but every bit as slimy and perfect, but he too was whisked away from me before I had a chance to stare at him and decide if he had inherited my weird chin and resting bitch face.

I was able to admire my placenta for longer than I saw my children, the Doctor lifted up the sack of brain meat and said “It’s a….placenta!”  I think they may have even offered to wrap it in a blanket and let me hold it as consolation.

They whisked my body away like I was the afterbirth, the discarded baby maker that was no longer needed and could be dumped into a bin somewhere with the placentas.

My babies were somewhere in an incubator and it was jarring not seeing them, not holding them or feeding them, and not doing all of the things you typically get to do when you give birth, the way I had after I had my first born. I felt detached and useless but I tried to focus on the positives: I looked a lot skinnier than I did a few hours ago.

I inhaled a plate of spaghetti because my new supermodel body needed carbs and my sweet nurse was nice enough to offer her dinner to me. She could probably see me just wasting away now that I was 13 pounds lighter than the 468 pounds she recorded me at earlier.

The most important thing was that my babies were here, they were safe, they were being monitored by professionals and kept in an incubator because they were premature. But aside from seeing them for a few minutes in the incubator, I was brought back to my room that night to sleep without them and my hormones couldn’t handle it. I told my husband that I felt like I had given birth to someone else’s babies and I started crying.

The nurses brought me a breast pump machine to console me and told me to try and suction my tits to get my milk flowing. Stop crying and milk yourself, selfish woman!  The machine made loud grunting noises and tugged on my breasts while my tears turned to laughter as I compared myself to a cow.

My twins spent 10 days in the NICU mostly for observation, baby A was 5lbs and 3oz at birth and he had a heart murmur but was otherwise healthy. Baby B was 6lbs and 11oz at birth and had some extra blood and needed a CPAP for the first night to help him breathe, but he was also otherwise healthy.

I finally got to hold both of them at the same time when they were a week old and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. I had only been able to hold them individually up until that point and I finally felt complete when they put them both in my arms. I also low key felt like a cat with a litter but so hashtag blessed and proud AF.

Another mom with a preemie in a pod nearby smiled at me while I grinned ear to ear holding my babies as a nurse took pictures.  I was incredibly happy but also silently panicking trying to figure out how the hell I was going to maneuver the two of them back out of my arms having no arms to use and I got a glimpse into my immediate future as a mom with twin infants.

My 5-year old son finally got to meet his brothers when we brought them home; the hospital had been under strict visitor regulations due to a flu outbreak and he had only seen pictures of them.

He was happy to meet his new brothers and even though it was chaotic at the time, our family was complete and we were full of love and floating on cloud 9 for those first few months. It was probably also caffeine and sleep deprivation clouds we were floating on, but it was a magical time nonetheless.

The memories are almost magical enough to drown out the sound of all 3 of them right now, 4 years later, screaming and trying to kill each other over Legos and making me wonder how I can get another free stay in the hospital for even a brief period of time. I’d pay for a sterile vacation right about now.

Happy Birthday My Loves

 

 

 

I Want to be Body Positive, But I Want to Lose Weight, Here’s Why

Every time I scroll social media and see women stripping down -both their insecurities and their clothes- and celebrating the imperfections of their bodies, I stop and admire their pictures and marvel at the positive image they portray by showing that all bodies are real, flawed, and worthy of love. It’s beautiful and inspiring.

Their words of body positivity and self-love always cut me to the core: “You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to live up to impossible beauty standards. You don’t have to change.”  And they are right, we don’t have to base our self-worth on our size, we don’t have to go to extreme methods to force our bodies into sizes they weren’t meant to fit into, and we don’t have to give in to diet culture.

I want to be body positive but I want to lose weight, and here’s why I think it’s okay to be both.

I don’t care about having a perfectly flat tummy,  I’m unbothered by my faded stretch marks, or the scar above my belly button from an old piercing that stretched out with my expanding uterus during pregnancy. I’ve embraced many of the changes that my body has gone through with age and becoming a mother, and my focus isn’t on perfection or vanity weight.

The weight I’m carrying right now makes me feel sluggish, unhealthy, and puts me in the overweight category, which can come with health risks and have a negative impact on my overall well being. The weight I’m carrying is emotional weight; it reminds me that I’ve been using food as a coping mechanism instead of finding healthy ways to deal with stress. The extra weight is a reminder that I have dealt with a lot of pain this past year and that I’m not only carrying it mentally, but physically too.

I want to lose the extra weight because it symbolizes what I have gone through emotionally and it is a product of something negative. 

The body positivity movement tells me that I should love my body at any size, and while I agree that all bodies are worthy of love at any size, I don’t feel like myself at the size I am now and I know I got here by not taking care of myself and my health. I want to feel healthier and be able to complete a workout without feeling like I’m going into cardiac arrest. I want to have stamina and strength and feel strong and energetic.

I am curvaceous by nature and I embrace it, even at a smaller weight I will always be fuller in the hips, butt and thighs, and although I once tried to fight against my body’s natural curves as an adolescent, I have grown to love it. I accept and love my body’s natural shape and I’m not trying to achieve something that is unsustainable for my body type.  I want to show my body love by eating better, exercising, finding positive ways to deal with stress and getting back to a weight that is healthy for me.

I think it’s okay to both love your body and want to make positive healthy changes in your life that may ultimately lead to carrying less weight and feeling better all around. Overall I don’t think we should shame anyone for their own personal journey with body love, because it’s different for everyone.