Saturday, January 26, 2013

Freaking Out

Normally, I'm a pretty chill mommy. With Big Brother and Princess Peanut, I'm pretty darned laid back. For some reason, that's not really the case with Geri.

I distinctly remember looking at her yesterday morning, while we were getting ready to go to her marathon of therapy appointments, and thinking "that one tooth looks like it's off somehow." Yeah, that whole thing about how moms can see everything and notice all and have eyes in the backs of our heads and the soles of our feet (which is why we almost never buy new shoes or get our hair done) is sometimes pretty darned true. Later, during the 45 minute break between OT and PT, I was looking at her and thinking again "that darned tooth looks WEIRD." I reached in and touched it and it wiggled. A LOT. Like, parallel to the floor and back up to vertical again.

I have a six year old. He's proudly wiggled teeth for me and I've responded with just the right amount of acting impressed and acting grossed out (neither one faked, btw) to make him beam as if he'd won a Nobel prize. We've discussed not yanking them out, not swallowing them if you can help it but if you do it will be okay, fair wages from Tinkerbell's crazy cousin who collects teeth, and all of the other things that go along with losing baby teeth. Seriously, I've done this a few times and never been freaked out by any of it.

So of course, when Geri's tooth wiggled, I completely freaked out.

I immediately began to fear for my daughter's life. What if she swallowed it? It would tear her insides wide open with it's jagged edges and she would bleed internally. It was almost certainly radioactive, I'm sure it was, and it would hide in some nook or cranny of her esophagus and give her cancer. Cancer of the throat or the lungs or the spleen or something. It had to come out!!! Now!!!

I grabbed a napkin and wiggled it some more. It moved like a reed in a hurricane, but it didn't want to give. Geri was not a fan of this action. I got a new napkin and tried again. This time, there was a tiny pop and it came out. Geri cried and the little hole bled. And then, I became utterly certain that this tooth had not fallen out. Oh no, it couldn't possibly. It had to have been broken! I examined the tooth, certain that it's anatomy was all wrong and there were pieces of it lodged in her face and burrowing their way to her BRAIN, you hear me, her ever-lovin' BRAIN!!!!And the hole in her gums looked wrong. All wrong. For one thing, a new tooth did not immediately sprout from it. I'm pretty sure that is how this whole thing works, right? I couldn't see anything in the hole. No jagged chunks of old tooth, nor a big, shiny new tooth. Something had to be wrong! I stashed the tooth in a napkin in my pocket, for later examination by the dentist whom I was certain would want an emergency appointment for facial reconstruction later that afternoon, and ran to the doors to get some cell phone reception and call my husband.

"Love, I think Geri broke a tooth!" I blurted as soon as he picked up the phone. "What!?" he demanded. "Tell me what happened." I explained the whole sordid tale and when he answered me, his voice was full of relief and incredulity. "Lauren, she just lost a tooth. That's all." Relief, because his daughter was okay. Incredulity because I had called him in the middle of a nervous breakdown over something so mundane.

This is not in my character. Normally, I'm a pretty level-headed mom. (I said mom, not person. Don't attempt to apply that to the rest of my life!) Somehow, with Geri I am suddenly neurotic and freaked out. I'm not sure if it's the fact that she is adopted, and I feel that looming over us, sentencing us to a lifetime of uncertainty. Perhaps it's because of her special needs. All I know is that, with her, I almost always feel as though someone took my well-worn playbook and threw it on a merrily burning fire. I'm at a loss with her about things that are normally no big deal at all.

I really should have seen this whole tooth thing coming. She's 5. Every time she gets anesthesia, they ask me if she has any loose teeth. Other kids her age are losing their teeth. It's that time of life. But in a lot of ways, she doesn't *feel* 5 to me. She's only been home a year, so in that way she feels like a baby. And she is still pretty delayed from her peers, so she feels around 3 from that perspective. She's started school a year older than her brother did, and I think that makes me think she can't be more than 4. That's preschool age, right?

Yet, somehow, I have moments where I couldn't even begin to tell you her age. Oh, I can spout her birthday like nothing. I repeat it enough for doctors and such. I know hers better than mine, now. I can tell you how long she's been home. I can tell you her current developmental level. I can tell you about milestones and where she is on them.

Moreover, I can easily list every drug she takes and the frequency, dosage, and prescribing doctor. I can tell you the phone number of her ophthalmologist and pediatrician and therapy center from heart. I can tell you the dates of every seizure, the exact heart defects, the particular chromosomal abnormality, every diagnosis and therapy and surgery and treatment. I really ought to try to be an extra on a medical drama. "Doctor, this peds patient needs 50 mils of Keppra and Diazopran STAT!"

But, somehow, I keep forgetting that she is 5. And getting older. Daily, go figure.

So where does that leave me? Over in the corner, with a dish towel over my head, breathing into a paper bag because my 5-year-old lost a tooth. And I will be back there again when she gets hair on her legs, or breast buds, or (oh God in heaven I hate to think of this) her first period. OhmyGodshewillgetoneofthosesomedayandIwillnotbereadyatall... okay, I'm back. Sorry.

I'm realizing that I will never be ready for her body to march on and meet all of it's milestones, whether her mind and psyche follow suit or not. And, frankly, that freaks me out.

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