Friday, April 16, 2010

Pills and Parenting




My husband entertained himself this morning by stacking my pills in a pyramid and snapping this picture on his phone while I was in the shower. I take a lot of pills. More supplements than prescription meds. Typically, they are all over the kitchen in the morning until I'm done taking them and then I pack them up and hide them in a cupboard.

As a parent, I have had to think about how I want to handle all the medical stuff with my daughter. Above and beyond the obvious safety issues.

I mean, duh of course I keep all the pills under lock and key--we use a baby gate and the toddler is never in the kitchen without us. They are stored out of reach. But I also have to consider, should she see me take them?

I decided no because I don't want her to ever try to model the pill popping. Toddlers are such mimics and I don't ever want her to play 'pills.'

As hard as I try to hide the pill popping, she still sees me sometimes. I often worry about the 'norms' I create for her as a chronically ill parent.

Some of them are good...

1. I eat a healthy low carb diet with lots of veggies. She eats the same food as me but also gets fruit and high protein dairy such as cheese, kefir or Greek yogurt. She may not eat everything, but she is exposed to veggies and flavors that most American kids are not. There's no bread. No cereal (which I believe is essentially poison no matter how much fiber it has). No crackers unless it's a whole grain low glycemic Wasa cracker. I make almond/flax/flour banana or pumpkin muffins for her and use 1/2 the sugar (I don't like to give her artificial sweeteners).

I don't sweat sugar either. Junk food happens and even as anal as I can be, I'm not going to be able to prevent it. Junk is so much bigger than me. She gets her share of junk food, but not at home. The only thing I haven't been able to avoid are chicken nuggets. She'll eat them and sometimes that has to be good enough on days when she's being picky.

There are things I would give her, but she won't eat them. Oatmeal. Pasta is hit or miss. Stuff like that.

2. I make sure she sees me exercise and I am pleased when she 'copies' me. "Look, mommy. I exercising!" The goal is get her into several different physical activities once she hits three so that movement is just normal to her. She's been a little sedentary lately but then she was sick for like 8 weeks and then I was sick so we have a reasonable excuse. Daddy is great about taking her to the playground in good weather and playing.

3.If she develops asthma (which is looking likely at this point) my experience will be an enormous help. She'll be able to avoid the pitfalls I fell into. (I was the first chronically ill person in my family and I got no support at all or help--I'll have to talk about that some time.)

Some of them are bad...

1.She is intrigued by my diet soda habit. Although I have completely stopped drinking Coke Zero (that was a major addiction) but there's still some diet root beer and orange soda around. I would rather she never start drinking any of it--I don't think it's healthy, but I am having a hard time giving it up 100%. I came to pop late in my life. I never drank it as a kid or young adult. When I graduated college and started working, I fell into the habit and I regret it.

2.She worries about me because I worry about her. Before I got sick, I spent a lot of time asking her "Are you okay, baby?" because her breathing was so dodgy. So now she does the same to me. "Are you okay mommy?" she frets when I hack. She kisses my boo-boos. She cries when the doctor takes my blood pressure and I now try to leave her at home whenever possible if I have a doctor's appointment. Partly to spare her, partly because it's just hard to have a conversation over her sustained screaming.

We also bought her a doctor kit and we play doctor at home to let her play out some of her anxiety. The home bp unit helps too--I let her push the button. We take her with us when we get shots so she can see it happens to everyone and that we're not afraid. I also found a girl's anatomy puzzle that goes from clothes down to bones and we talk about what bones, muscles, organs etc... do.

I spend a lot of time framing things for her. 'Mommy's cough is a good thing. It helps Mommy feel better' etc...

3.Not being present as a parent. This is the biggie. I'm sick. I'm tired. I don't feel well, but she still needs me to be Mommy. I try to rise to the occasion, but it is hard and I have some work to do to improve my parenting within the context of being chronically ill. Obviously, things improve as I improve, but I need to spend some time thinking about how I can be a great parent when I feel like shit.

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