The Final Piece of the Puzzle!

Since my first born was a toddler I knew there was something different about him. His behaviour was always so challenging and he couldn’t handle his routine being changed. He would have melt down after melt down over the smallest of things and most days felt like I was living with a time bomb waiting to explode. For a long time I thought he was on the Autism Spectrum, but as he grew older his social skills never challenged him and he always fitted into wherever we went.

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He has always been the kind of child who could hold it together and be the best child imaginable at school or when visiting at other people’s places, but the minute he entered his safe environment which is his home or seeing us as his parents, he would lose his shit! As year after year has passed, we have spent so much time and effort into parenting our son by being strict, consistent, establishing rules and routines and I stress for a child like my son – consistent!

I never felt the need to seek help because his schooling was never affected and we were handling him fine. But then two years ago he developed a motor tic. After a visit to our GP, who wanted to investigate it as a ‘muscular’ problem, we spent 6 months taking him to a physiotherapist and chiropractor, but it was not getting any better and in that time he developed a vocal tic as well. It was at this point I knew it was time to seek advice from a paediatrician.

On our first visit, he was diagnosed with anxiety and OCD and we were told that in some cases a child’s anxiety can be so bad that it can cause a ‘nervous’ tic and it will go away within a few months. From there we went to a child psychologist to work on his anxiety and OCD issues, which was really good as we had a fantastic therapist, but I still felt like I wasn’t being heard! By this stage my son had presented with tics for 12 months and they weren’t getting any better only worse.

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Thankfully at one of our therapy appointments, just after we returned from our holiday to America, Bailey’s tics were so bad that our therapist finally thought what I’d been thinking for a while – his tics were more than anxiety related! She suggested that we needed to take Bay to a neurologist. The push for this was even more important when his tics were becoming more noticeable at school and starting to affect his school work. At this point our paediatrician was still convinced that the tics were anxiety related but agreed to refer Bay to a neurologist…this was back in February and last week was finally our appointment!

It was a loooong 8 months of waiting. As each month went by and even with therapy, Bay’s tics were going no where. They were constantly changing and the intensity of them was being heightened by fatigue, anxiety and excitement. When his tics first started I did a lot of research about tics and tic disorders and as time went by I was convinced that my son had Tourette Syndrome. Everything fitted with what he was doing and it was this article that I discovered, that had truly convinced me.

Then finally last week on Tuesday October 13th at midday, after being assessed by a neurologist and going over his history, the final piece to the puzzle of my boy who we’ve been trying to solve for many years was answered – Bailey has Tourette Syndrome. Although it deeply saddens me, I was more relieved that we walked away with an answer to his problems, I would have been more angry if we were told to come back for a reassessment in 6 months!

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We left the hospital that day feeling positive that we knew what we were dealing with now and after 2 years of going back and forth to specialist appointments, our son finally has some understanding of what is wrong with him. I went into robot mode for a few days and just did what I had to do. Contacted the school, had meetings with his teacher and deputy, organised therapy for the rest of this year and it wasn’t until I was running one morning that it really hit me. As I was pounding the pavement all that kept going through my mind was “shit, I can’t believe my son has Tourette’s!” But I kept telling myself he will be fine and we’ve got this!

Most days none of us think twice about it all and we just do, as we’ve been dealing with it for so long, but some days are harder than others. Just recently Bay has had moments himself where he’s struggling with it all and has asked if we can rip the tics out of him…these moments break my heart into a million pieces;( I never show him how much it pains me to see him like this, I just be there to hold and comfort him and tell him he is stronger than any child I know and that he will get through this.

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We have consciously made sure we have kept the communication very open with Bailey so he knows exactly what he is dealing with and we’ve also told Sienna everything so she has a better understand too. This has been the best thing and has really bought us even closer together as a family. I’m just so proud of how our children are handling this situation – so brave, so mature! This is something that we will live with possibly forever and it is up to us to provide Bay with whatever we have too, to make life easier while living with Tourette syndrome.

This diagnosis doesn’t change anything, he’s still our beautiful boy, he’s still a typical 9-year-old boy that annoys the crap out of his sisters and drives me to run a lot of kilometres each week, but I love him to death and wouldn’t have it any other way. He is and will always be bright and this was evident at his parent-teacher interview last week. Imagine being in class all day, trying not to tic and still having to pay attention and complete school work – I couldn’t imagine! And I’m so happy that he has his sport to release all that built up anxiety and energy. He is currently doing sprint training twice a week and is thriving!

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Where to from here…
We started therapy last week at the Kooky Kid Clinic which is where we will be going fortnightly for one on one appointments and monthly for Tourette Syndrome group sessions, with other children and parents who live our life. We have been taking Bay to a naturopath this past month and at this stage we are trying to do everything natural before we think it’s time for any medication….we’ll know when the time is right for this! Our aim is to have Bay leading his normal life and be happy in his own skin. Happiness and confidence goes such a long way and this is all we want for him.

This whole experience has shown me how strong we really are as a team. We only have our children’s best interest at heart and we weren’t going to give up until we got an answer. We really hate that our son has to live with this challenge everyday of his life, but we know that he will come out a stronger and better person with amazing empathy in the end. It’s not the end of the world as there is always people way worse off than you!

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Like always, we relish in the highs and hold on during the lows and when we see our boy struggling with his tics, we will make sure that we are there for him. As his mum, I promise to always be there to catch him when he’s falling – although he would squash me now as he is a giant lol!

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Have Courage….Be Kind!

This week has been a week to reflect on life and what it has to offer. It’s been a week of devastating news left right and centre and with celebrating the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day, the title of this blog couldn’t be more fitting!

As I sat and watched my childhood favourite story Cinderella on Wednesday with my little girl and mum, the moral and values of this story are ones that every human should be exposed to…have courage, be kind! If only we all did this more readily. It made me stop and reflect as a parent – am I showing my own children this?!? I think I do? Do I use these words?!? Not enough. And it’s my job as their mother, to not only model this behaviour, but emerge them in this language.

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I find myself using the words brave and nice a lot, but my new words now will be courageous and kind. If only every child knew what this looked like and felt like, I believe there would be less crime and hatred in this world. I believe if we were more kind to each other, this would create a ripple effect and filter through as a common denominator. I believe in pay it forward…be kind to someone, that person would be kind to someone else….

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You only have to read some of the awful things that are evident on social media to realise how much hatred is in this world. The biggest one that sticks in my mind lately is the lady that received an anonymous letter from some of her “Facebook friends” letting her know that they were sick of seeing pictures of her baby daughter in their newsfeed?!? What the!!! Who does that? This is an example of 1. No self-control, 2. No tolerance, 3. Too much time to waste and 3. It’s down right mean!!!! The good old saying ‘if you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything’ needs to be applied a lot more these days.

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If we were more kind to each other, then just maybe the word “bullying” would start to vanish from the school yard and instead children would have their minds more free to be courageous! Courageous – ?!?! Never give up, strive for your best, have a go even when the odds are against you! Too often you see people just give up these days! When the going gets tough so often you see people just throw their hands up in the air and say “whatever!” ?!?! When and how did this become such a common behaviour?!?!

Anzac Day, is one of those times of the year where you hear non stop courageous stories of the brave men and women who fought for our country to allow us the life we have today…they never gave up! This is also evident in the many men and women who bravely take on a position in any of our defence forces to this day! It was so nice to march with our children for the first time on Anzac Day this year. They proudly wore their grandfather’s medals and asked many questions along the way. If this is one way to help them strive to be their best and learn about being courageous, then it’s definitely worth it.

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I’m so lucky to have seen many people in my life who have been courageous and display courage everyday of their life. For me at the moment, knowing someone who is fighting a health battle with courage are the ones that I hold with the up most respect. My nana will always be one of the most courageous people I’ve met. Watching her and how she handled having Parkinson’s disease, without complaints, but still being able to enjoy the small things in life right up until she was unable to, this makes me want to be the best I can be and never give up!

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Have courage…be kind! It starts from us as parents. We need to believe these words before we can teach our children to do so. If Cinderella can love and live happily ever after, after the tragedies she endured, then I think it’s fair to say we can all try to be more kind and courageous! Cinderella may be a fictional character, but I’m sure we all know a Cinderella…for me it’s my beloved nana!

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Goosebumps!

Are you the sort of person who when told something either wonderful or sad gets goosebumps? I am and this week I’ve had a few of those moments!

With the kids returning to school on Monday it meant I also had to return to work. We had a fabulous holiday together so none of us wanted to part with each other Monday morning, but we did! After Sienna went to bed crying Sunday night because she didn’t want to go back to school and leave me, I went to bed feeling sick. I was expecting something like this to occur, but I was so hopeful that she had overcome the separation anxiety feelings she gets. Thankfully after a bit of a shaky morning getting ready for her first day back, she has been fabulous at school all week! Not one tear has been shed just lots of beautiful big happy smiles! Phew!!!

Tuesday night was parent teacher night. I arrived a little bit early (I know what some of you are thinking – early?? Lol…yes I am capable of being early lol) When I walked up to the lady who was directing all the parents where to go, with a sincere smile she said “are you Bailey’s mum?” very proudly I said “yes!” She proceeded to tell me how wonderful she thought my son was and how much determination he has and that any adult that knows him thinks he is just fantastic! I started getting goosebumps and I couldn’t thank her enough for her kind words. But when she said it’s obvious he has great role models, I stopped for a mere moment and let out a sigh of relief! It was in that moment that I said to myself….the grey hairs, the wrinkles, the bad cop moments, the times when you sound like a broken record have been so worth hearing such kind words about one of my children!

But it didn’t stop there. I had Sienna’s interview first and her teacher said the same thing! Well mannered, caring, kind, pleasure to teach, tries hard, doing well….another goosebump moment! Then over to Bailey’s teacher who claimed the very same things….hard worker, great role model, mature, working above year level standard, we love having him in our class!!! I walked away on such a high!!! The children they were talking about were ours….very different from the ones we sometimes see at home lol….but they were ours!!!!

Then another goosebump moment occurred the very next day when Bailey came home and told me he had been chosen for the third year running to lay the wreath for his class during their school’s Anzac Day Parade. I was so proud of him. And finally I was able to be present for the parade today. He did such a fabulous job and like always he takes any job he is given seriously!

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Then there is our littlest one. Well what can I say. She is at the ‘sponge’ age of 2 where she is taking in everything, saying any word that is asked of her, stringing words together, using her beautiful manners, telling us what to do next in the routine, learning her colours and her goosebump moment this week was when she counted past ten for the first time to twelve…fourteen and eighteen then followed but that is awesome too as she knows that teen numbers are to follow. I’m really enjoying our time together when the two bigger ones are at school, but love it even more when we are altogether!

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It’s these goosebump moments that make my life so fulfilled. It makes all the sleepless nights worth it. It’s worth the pain you go through to finally be able to hold them in your arms. The tantrums, the billion times we are endured to the word no and the back chatting which I would have to say grinds my nerves the most! And even though parenting is a road full of flat, bumpy curves, with lots of ups and downs, it’s the moments that bring us to goosebumps or tears which usually accompany the bumps, that make this job the best around!

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Shield of Love!

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This parenting gig was never meant to be easy! There is always something to worry or stress about when it comes to the health and well being of your child! And then when things do seem settled, you start to let your mind relax and BAM something else happens!!!

I really feel terribly sad for my children. They were born into this world happy, healthy little bubbas with not a care in the world and the hardest decision they had to make was do I feed for 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes??? Then they started teething and their ears have taken a pounding since! Bailey, who is 7 in February, is still having ear problems and is looking down the barrel of a fourth set of grommets! Over the last few months, between the three of the them, they have had 5 ear infections! This not only brings sad unwell kiddies, but also angry and frustrated little beggers!

Because I’ve had three children to suffer chronic middle ear infections, for the past 6 and a half years I’ve dealt with so many tantrums and meltdowns from children who have just been feeling terrible! At the time of a meltdown or inappropriate behaviour my heart breaks for the fact that being little and feeling pain and discomfort contributes to the loss of self-control and not thinking straight, but the hard side of me puts up my shield and follows through with a consequence! I call my shield the ‘Shield of Love’! I know by putting up my shield, the kids will be better people in the long run!

If I used their sickness as an excuse every time they were naughty, I would end up with rude, disrespectful, out of control children who wouldn’t be very well liked! Each time I have to be the bad cop I tell myself I will thank myself later as I’m teaching my children right from wrong! Of course it would be easier to let things go, but children are so smart and if you let that shield down once they will expect that the next time and the time after that! My theory is as parents we are not meant to be their friends. We are their role models to guide them through life and to assist them in being the best they can be! If we get along really well in the process that is awesome, but if there are times we butt heads then we have to stand up and be the parent and guide them in understanding right from wrong!

This week has been such a tough week with Bailey! He had a tooth removed on Monday and by Wednesday he had six ulcers in the side of his mouth from where he had bitten his gum when it was numb! He has been so miserable and has displayed every emotion possible! My heart breaks when I see my children in pain and if I could I would take it from them. I’ve said on several occasions to my son this week…”we know you are in pain, but that doesn’t excuse your behaviour!” So the shield of love has been used a lot this week! It’s times like this I want to throw the damn shield away, but my biggest thing with all my children at the moment is dealing with their emotions and expressing them sensibly and appropriately!

So while my kidlets are still young and learning the rights and wrongs in life I will continue to use my shield of love. There will be a day when they are older and will appreciate why I’ve used it. I already appreciate that I’ve used it as I see my hard work paying off, especially when they are at school:)!

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Middle Child Syndrome…..does it really exist?

Middle child syndrome. People say it’s just a myth and maybe it is. Maybe it doesn’t exist in every household, but it certainly does in ours!

Meet my middle child….Sienna Lynette Trew!

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When Sienna was born she was everything everyone in our family longed for! After having 3 rowdy boys, my sister who lives in Melbourne had twins – a boy and a girl….finally a granddaughter! But we still had all these boys in Brisbane, but at 11.57am, on the 30th of June, weighing in at a whopping 10 pound 2, our little Sie Sie girl was born and everyone was over the moon that a second little granddaughter was to join our family! She was a beautiful baby:) When I gave birth to her I pulled her out and she was placed on my chest and there she stayed with her eyes wide open, not crying, just looking around and checking out the world and the life she was about to embark on!

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Bailey and Sienna were inseparable from the minute she was born. There is two years and four months between them but that gap has always felt much closer! Their personalities complimented one another for a while there, as Bailey was always so highly strung and Sienna so placid and easy going. Sienna was seriously the best toddler that you could come across and many a times while Bailey was having a moment, I would turn to Sie Sie and her beautiful beaming smile would let me know that everything would be ok….she was my shining light in a moment of darkness!

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I always wanted three children, but when Sienna started having all her ear problems like Bailey and then when she turned 2 life started to become easier, our thoughts suddenly turned to – do we really want to upset the apple cart?? Then unbeknown to us I was actually pregnant at Sienna’s 2nd birthday party! I was never worried about middle child syndrome, it was Sienna the most carefree child, how could she ever be affected by anything?? Didn’t things change….! Sienna and I have always shared a special bond right from the minute she was born and one of the first thoughts I had when I found out I was pregnant, was “Sie Sie won’t be my baby anymore:(!” Being a parent feels like a constant guilt trip and this was one of those moments!

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During my pregnancy, Sienna loved being involved with my growing belly and was always so fascinated by the whole baby thing and never seemed jealous at all! I made sure I included both the kids in everything as I didn’t want them to feel left out! Bailey was verbally disappointed when we found out we were having a girl, but Sienna was happy to be getting a little sister. I was about 35 weeks pregnant when Bailey started prep and this was the day that my quiet, placid, easy going girl disappeared and even though she is still in there and comes out every now and again, her heart from the day her little mate went to school, was left with a hole in it! Then if that wasn’t big enough, a few weeks later she became a big sister to Mia! That’s a lot for a little person to process and deal with! This is where middle child syndrome started to come out in our house!

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In my opinion when you have 3 children middle child syndrome seems somehow unavoidable! I’m very conscious of it and tried everything in my power to eliminate it from happening, but somewhere along the way, when I was dealing with a reflux baby and a tired prep student, Sienna become lost in it all! Everything became all about Bailey starting school and along with that came special performances and fetes, homework and awards….Bailey, Bailey, Bailey! Then of course everything is about the baby because they are the most dependent child in the house….Mia, Mia, Mia! No wonder Sienna would just sit and scream at us if she didn’t get her own way! My placid girl who had never chucked a tantrum before the age of 2 and a half, turned into tantrum city, attitude plus and this affected everything then – including her sleep! It was just a spiral of events for a while there!

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These days my little Sie Sie girl still suffers from middle child syndrome. She idolises her big brother and little sister and tries so hard to impress them both all day! She often gets her heart broken by both of them which breaks my heart to see! And we still deal with some behaviour issues, but in general she is a pretty good girl and has improved since starting preschool at the beginning of the year. I make a point of spending one on one time with her, as out of the three of my children, she has missed out on the one on one time that Bailey had before she was born and Mia will get when Sienna goes to prep next year!

Next year is Sienna’s year! She starts prep and I’m going to let her choose a sport of her choice. She spends all her time supporting her big brother at his school functions and football matches, it will now be her time to shine and shine she will! No matter how being the middle child has affected her, she is still my shining light in a dark moment. When Bailey is having a melt down and I’m cleaning up something of Mia’s for the 100th time, my middle child is always right behind me telling me “I’m being a good girl for you mummy!”…..god bless her cotton socks:)!

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