by JeriDawn McKellar
Jason and I graduated from Utah State University in Logan, Utah and never left. We love it. We have honestly never ever been around more loving, supportive, open-hearted people. When I found out I was pregnant with Mialee, I already had one little girl. I have since had another little girl.
They are my three little princesses.
I guess that makes me the queen and Jason my king. That sounds about right!
My pregnancy with Mialee was as normal as could be. The doctor's due date was a little off, and we knew it. All in all, it was what we wanted, expected, and got.
I was in labor with Mialee for about a week! I would have contractions every night for several hours and then they would disappear. By the time I was finally “really” in labor and ready to go to the hospital, Jason's only response was, “Are you sure we have to go right now?” He then got out of bed and fell flat on his face. The only complication with her birth was the anesthesiologist going too far with the epidural, poking a hole in my spinal column. This happened with my first child too (different hospital, though) and I was totally bummed! This hole lets the ever-important spinal fluid leak out and your brain no longer floats, but rests on the back of your head, causing massive migraines. With my first two children I had SIX epidural procedures! They try to fix it by inserting blood through an epidural to “patch” the hole until it can heal. Needless to say, I went au' natural with my third. Somehow, also, my legs went totally numb with this epidural. So Mialee wormed her way out all by herself and she was perfect as could be.
Mialee was such a good baby. She would sit on the floor for hours content just playing with a toy. The first time I noticed Mialee might have something different about her (I didn’t think it was anything major, just thought it was a quirk) was during that stage that babies go through where they know that they should be able to move, but still have to figure out how. She took on her own agenda. When she was about 9 or 10 months old, she stopped nursing. She simply refused. She also stopped sleeping well. I took her to several doctors worried that something was really wrong. Finally, one doctor said that he suspected it was just a series of things coincidently strung together. He suspected that she had figured out that she could control things and didn't like my “agenda” anymore. He suggested a few things, like a calming environment for nursing (in the bath with a candle for light and music). It was work, but she eventually started nursing again and sleeping better...But ever since then, she goes through stages. She'll be fine for a while, and then all of the sudden she'll stop sleeping which causes kind of a downward spiral.
She has always been a very vivid dreamer. She often wakes in the night screaming “No! No!” And when I try to comfort her, she is too angry to accept help. She'll kick and scream, but doesn't want me to leave either. And then once she is awake, she is awake for hours, no matter what I do. I was a little scared of potty training with Mialee, just because she was more fragile than my first, and this turned out to be another red flag for me. She did fine with the potty training part, but once I explained that we should wash our hands to get the germs off, it was like a little switch went off in her head. She was an instant obsessive hand washer. Her hands got so very dry and they would crack. It seems that, from here on out, it has been one worry after another for poor Mialee.
At first, I thought it was just another one of Mialee's quirks. She is just a little different and does things her own way, but not in a bad way. She is a sweet kid and wants to do what is right. So I simply tried to explain the logic of not washing our hands too much. And I introduced her to lotion. This helped, but she moved on to other worries. She couldn't go potty without me because I had to make sure that her little bottom was all the way clean. At one point she started going potty every 5 minutes. I thought for sure she had a bladder infection and took her to the doctor several times, but they never found anything wrong. Finally, someone mentioned a “Psychological” condition that sometimes happens in kids, called Pollakiuria. I began a little research and came up with this information about the condition:
Frequent Daytime Urination-Pollakiuria
Pollakiuria is defined as frequent daytime urination that may occur as often as every 5 minutes, although usually the child urinates 3-4 times/hour. This is a common pediatric complaint and the parents are usually concerned that their child has diabetes mellitus or a UTI. The majority of children are between 4-6 years of age. Pollakiuria is more common than urinary tract infections in children. Symptoms may last for years, but the average length is 7-12 months.
Are you kidding me? Years? I could not imagine my poor baby having to use the bathroom every five minutes for years! There really was not a definite known cause, but stress seemed to play a role and highlighting the problem often made it worse. So I started a routine that never really stopped...De-stress, comfort, distract, and love. Once I had identified the problem, her condition only lasted a few weeks.
But Mialee simply moves from one worry to another. At times her worries are very illogical and somewhat frustrating. She went through a stage where she was convinced that everything that she came near, she contaminated with pee pee. And before that, she was always worried about peeing her pants. Here was a typical conversation in our car...
Mialee: Mom, I think I peed my pants.
Mom: Well, did you or not?
Mialee: I don't know. I think I did.
Mom: Well, I think you would know if you did. It's pretty easy to tell when there is a puddle underneath you.
Mialee: Well, it's a little wet.
Mom: Are your pants wet?
Mialee: I don't know. No, but I think I peed my pants.
This then evolved into another routine for her where she would ask 20-30 times a day if she peed her pants, mostly when we were in the car. We finally convinced her that she was just sweaty and she was okay with that. Her older sister could often be heard yelling, “No Mialee you didn't pee your pants! You’re just sweaty!”
This has been especially hard on my husband, the most logical person on the face of the earth. He refuses to enable Mialee in any way and I agree with him, but sometimes he is so logical that I feel like I am stuck between his world and Mialee's and I can't find a happy place for anyone.
I also wonder how things will change as Mialee gets older. It's hard to treat a child who cannot disguinguish between reality and fantasy simply because of age. How much of her fears are age-related and will disapear with time? And how do you introduce logic into someone who is too young to comprehend it? And, then, is she actually comprehending any of this logic that we are feeding her, or is it all about trust?
I pray a lot. It came to a point where Mialee wasn't functioning normally. Well, she still functioned and did all the normal things kids do, she just needed to be reassured every five minutes. Sometimes she asks a question over and over and over. Lately, she recites a narrative so she can cover all her bases. But it was at this point that I knew I needed help. I needed to know that I was helping her in the best way that I could. The hard part is that I don't necessarily want her to be labeled, and that is partly because I have seen several instances where this has been more of a hindrance or a crutch. And she is already so afraid of being different and standing out. I just want to be able to help her.
As quoted from Aureen P. Wagner and her book Worried No More, “Anxiety becomes a problem when it begins to affect a child’s ability to engage in the three main responsibilities of childhood—to learn, to make friends and to have fun. For most children, fears and anxieties come and go with time and age. For some children, anxiety does not follow this expected course, and becomes severe and long lasting.”
Mialee is still able to learn, make friends, and have fun...
but her worries take their toll. Continuing on from the same book...
When does anxiety become a disorder?
An anxiety disorder is at the extreme end of the continuum of anxiety. It is a matter of severity rather than differences in features from normal anxiety. Some children progress to a “clinical” level of anxiety that merits a diagnosis. Yet, not all anxiety becomes a problem, and not all problem anxiety becomes a disorder. Children can display a wide variety and high number of anxiety symptoms without ever developing a disorder.
To be considered a disorder, anxiety must meet the four criteria described below:
Disproportion—The anxiety is excessive, unreasonable, and well out of proportion to the trigger or context. It is beyond normal expectations for the situation and child’s age. The child has an exaggerated sense of threat and danger, in situations where most people would not be concerned. The child is unable to stop or control the worry or fear, regardless of effort.
Disruption—The anxiety interferes substantially with the child’s ability to function normally. She is not able to accomplish things that she should be able to do to get through a normal day, such as go to school, do homework or sleep.
Distress—The child is distraught and easily upset. The anxiety is burdensome and bothersome to the child.
Duration—To meet criteria for a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, a significant level of anxiety should be consistent over a period of time, usually a month.”
I actually cried when I read the above for the first time. I didn't really want something to be wrong. But there is something wrong—Mialee fits all four of those categories, some more so than others. Even on good days, she parrots her worries to me two or three times an hour.
As her parent, and not a clinical-condition-giver, I would say that Mialee has Anxiety with an OCD type personality. She worries, that's obvious, but her worries turn into repetitive phrases or actions that she finds comfort in performing. It becomes a behavior that we then try to break the cycle for. Unfortunately, once the cycle is broken, she simply moves on to another.
You know, life is not always as it seems. Looking at her sweet little face gives me such joy, but my heart also breaks. Mialee is a tormented child. Her worries have consistently moved from one thing to another for the past couple of years and will likely continue. One week, Jason was out of town and perhaps that set her off, but everything that Mialee had ever worried about came haunting that week.
“Mom, I think I got pee pee on the cupboard."
"Mom, I think I said something mean."
"Mom, I think I whined."
"Mom, I think I hurt Nikell."
"Mom, I think I did something bad when I touched that."
"Mom, I think I called that person fat."
"Mom, I think I told the whole world that I was mad at them."
"Mom, I think I made a mess."
"Mom, I think touched something I wasn't supposed to."
"Mom, I think I did all the bad things that I am not supposed to do."
"Mom, I think I did a new bad thing."
"Mom, I think I did all the bad things and the new bad thing."
"Mom, I think I got my clothes dirty and I still wanted to wear them."
"Mom, I think I got my germs on that."
"Mom, I think I spit on that."
"Mom, I think I got my spit on everything."
"Mom, I think I was mean to that boy."
"Mom, I think I took that without asking."
"Mom, mom, mom, mom, I think, I think, I think, I think..."
Day in and day out, seconds apart, Mialee worried and worried and worried. She still worries. Even when she is not with me and she internalizes the worry, it's still there. You can see it on her face. I cry for her and for me regularly. I try new things and reinstitute old things. We keep learning together and I am constantly, and most importantly, reaffirming my love for her.
Today, I came home after another discussion with a childhood professional, and cried once again. I am so worried for her and how her life will turn out and I know that I have a huge impact on it all. It's so much responsibility and I never have enough knowledge or patience or time or understanding...and yet It's important that I convey to her that it's not a big deal and that she's not driving me absolutely crazy and that I don't want to run away screaming with my hands over my ears.
And so today when I wondered how much longer I could go on, and the tears fell once again down my face, the sweet spirit of peace whispered into my heart that Mialee was sent to me, especially, because I am the one with the ability to help her. That she could have been sent somewhere else where she could have been beat down and less understood and unable to cope. Now, I'm not saying that there aren't other families that could have helped Mialee, but God gave her to me. He trusted me with her sweet soul and sensitive little mind. And so He will enable me to help her. And that's all there is to it.
No matter our struggles, or our fears, or our shortcomings, we can have everything that we need. I am so thankful for that. I pray every day and every night and all the time that I will do right by Mialee. And I often fail. And then I pick myself up again, and I pick Mialee up again, and we start over. Day by day, minute by minute, worry by worry. If you have a child that you too wonder about, know that God gave that kid to you on purpose and you are the one that is going to save them.
Lately we are taking life one day at a time, one worry at a time. Most of the time when Mialee repeats her latest narrative, I simply hug her and tell her that I love her. Sometimes that's all I can do when worries don't have a name or a place in a mind doesn't understand them, but overwhelmingly feels them every minute of every day. Right now Mialee goes to preschool 4 days a week and loves it. She has developed trust with her teachers and friends. She doesn't often go to sleep at night when I put her to bed. Sometimes it's a short time later and more often, it's an hour or even hours later. So she hates getting up in the morning. But she is always willing to get up for preschool, and it's always her choice.
My plan is to keep searching, keep praying, keep finding, keep loving, keep on keepin' on. Oh, and survive public school.
My advice to other parents is to trust yourself. Like I said before, God gave you your children for a reason and you are the one with the intuition, the guts, and the love to save them. And don't be afraid to talk to anyone or everyone, you never know where the latest miracle will come from.
I have talked to a few people… okay, a lot of people. :) The funny thing is that at first I expected some very tangible advice so that I could fix my child. But the more I learn, the more I realize that it's about time. Oh, there are specific remedies that help specific situations, but more importantly it's about time. President Ezra Taft Benson said it best when he urged “unrushed and loving” time with your kids...Here are his 10 suggestions. I think they are words of wisdom that every parent should adhere to:
1. Take time to be at the crossroads when children are coming and going.
2. Take time to be a real friend to your children. Listen to them, talk with them, laugh and joke with them, sing with them, play with them, cry with them, hug them, honestly praise them.
3. Take time to read to your children.
4. Take time to pray with your children.
5. Take time to have a meaningful weekly home evening.
6. Take time to be together at mealtimes as often as possible
7. Take time ti daily read the scriptures as a family.
8. Take time do to things as a family.
9. Take time to teach your children. “Mothers, you are your children's best teacher. Don't shift this precious responsibility to baby sitters. A mother's love and prayerful concern for her children are her most important ingredients in teaching.”
10. Take time to truly love your children. “A mother's unqualified love approaches Christ-like love.”
Leave a comment for Mialee and Mialee's mom. Let them know if you have any thoughts, advice, or if you were touched by Mialee.
A little support goes a long way.
And remember, each comment is an entry into the drawing for this week's giveaway. Which is....
2 Martha Stewart Craft Kits
reindeer puppet kit and
pom-pom insect kit
The winner will be announced Monday, December 8th.
Also don't forget....
to stop by Nana's Kitchen and see what's cookin'!!!You don't want to miss out on today's recipes. TRUST ME!
Hugs to Mialee, to her mom JeriDawn,
and to all of you for supporting kidz,