Saturday, October 16, 2010


I intended to write an introspective post on infant loss today. Yesterday was National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Day, where families who have lost children through miscarriage, stillbirth and infant deaths remember their lost children.

Instead, life takes over and I'll have to save that post for another time.

Of my eight children, I have two with serious mental health issues. M is my child with a dozen problems going on in his body and his mind. He had been in my home less than 2 weeks when he physically attacked me for telling him no and began screaming for someone to "call the police and take mommy away."

Other, wiser adoptive mothers emphatically told me to get him OUT of my home then and there. I was so overwhelmed with the knowledge that documing his violence would guarantee he would never have another foster home in the system. The last foster home capable of managing his medical conditions was the he had left to enter our home. She had clearly told the state that either they moved him to our home immediately, or they removed him as soon as the school year was over because she was DONE. We thought it involved his potty behaviors, his "tantrums" and his low functining ability. We figured out pretty darn quickly that we had a raging, violent child on our hands--the likes of which I had never encountered before in my life.

M was eventually diagnosed with both severe Autism and Bipolar disorder, to round out his low IQ he came home with. It takes heavy doses of psychatropic medications to control his rages and violence. We've had him in a good place for the last year, medically. However, he gets insufficient sleep while attending school now, and that frequently means that he's higher than a kite when he goes maniac on the weekends. Sometimes, we can get him to crash and sleep all weekend. Other times, the change in routine from school means he's simply out of control. Last weekend, he thrice went violent to our shock after having it under control for a year. I was prepared to call his Psychiatrist about a medication adjustment except the routine of his school week immediately brought him back to functioning.

Meanwhile, to my heartbreak and horror last fall, my oldest birthchild appears to be heading down the path of her father's mental illness. Combined with the normal hormones of pre-teen adolescence, she's stymies my understanding of how to reach her much of the time now. Normally, I try desperatelly to not engage unless absolutely necessary. I find options for her to participate in the family in ways she is agreeable to. I don't take the nonsense coming out of her mouth personally and simply walk away.

Today, I knew I was going to have to engage her. Today is Saturday, and on Saturday we do our chores. The most dreaded of chores is the kitchen. Last weekend, we were re-arranging rooms in the house so we didn't do Saturday chores, and the house has shown the neglect all week. Everyone in the house has known for two weeks that its E's turn to clean the kitchen this weekend. Everyone has been dreading today. Yesterday, I had the homeschoolers "pre-clean" as well as they could. Yes, it needs cleaned, but its not nearly what it normally is.

So, she decided to get up at 11:30am this morning. The first words out of her mouth were, "I'm not going to clean the kitchen today."

Le Sigh. I have a FIRM policy as a mother. I don't engage in a battle of the wills unless I'm absolutely sure its worth fighting. When I do engage, I don't back down. This is one of those battles that I must engage. I must because everyone else in this house is expected to do their Saturday chores, because this house cannot run with all these people if we don't all contribute as we can, and because her siblings are hurting knowing that she's having lax rules right now and they don't. This one, I will engage, and so I have.

What I didn't anticipate is that one mentally struggling child would cause the other mentally ill child to feel in competition. M was having a fairly decent day before E arose. He started having a nominally difficult day as she wound up for battle. However, when she went into full fledged melt-down, raging and screaming through my house.....he decided to join her.

At one point, I had the two of them in an acutal face off. I've known other adoptive mothers of kids with severe emotional issues who have had to bodily seperate waring siblings. The closest I've *ever* come to this scenario was when C and Ch would engage in fistfights starting at age 7. Those were fairly age appropriate and rather boyish responses. And, these days those two prefer to be the Hardy Boys--joined in adventures with arms around each other in love.

Today, I nearly got to bodily seperate two children. They wound up and were in a glare down while screaming at each other. I had to repeatedly remind E what the Psychiatrist has told her repeatedly--she is NOT M, she CAN learn to control her impulses and she does NOT have an excuse to resort to violence simply because she is struggling. Nothing reaches M but medical sedation. And, I work very hard to minimize that because every pill he swallows to allow him to remain safe in this home is another hit his dying liver must endure. He had his normal meds today but I'm not ready to sedate him simply because he is feeding off her mental instability and bringing it into his own.

Sure enough, an hour after she began, she is nearly stable again. And, he is stable because there is no more chaos for him to feed. She has *not* done her chore. But, I promised she could take her meds and eat first. Its going to be a LONG day, and I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy it. Yet, this is the life I live some days when the mental illnesses are front and center.

These two are no longer homeschooled. They both go to public school. He has an IEP and attends a special classroom. She's on the verge of having an IEP invoked. We, her parents and her school, are monitoring her functioning and stability carefully. At least sending these two to school allows me the opportunity to provide calm and effective time with the other siblings.

The biggest challenge about today is that they are both falling off the cliff of instability and I'm solo parenting all day long. II took the Cub Scouts to sell popcorn, and I am home with six chilren alone. Its not his fault, he's parenting as well, and I have the most helpful BIG BROTHER. However, when I am left solo parenting the higher needs children and their needs become front and center, I am always struck by something. Until last fall, I did ALL of this ALONE.

Its not wonder my health was failing and I shut down for the vast majority of J's pregnancy. No one can do what I was doing alone. I never would have admitted I was doing it alone. But, I was. And, since I wasn't about to let my CHILDREN lose out when something had to give. It was ME and MY HEALTH that gave. I think I *finally* this fall got my thyroid to stabilize from that nightmare. My blood pressure is still higher than where it needs to be and my asthma is far from being under control. Its really no wonder I had the rare phenomenon of developing anaphylatic allergies past the age of 30!

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