ADHD: What it’s like in our household.

I honestly don’t know where to start with this post.. as trying to navigate from start to finish is a slightly overwhelming task for me. So to give this blog a bit of context I’ll explain to you some ADHD facts as quoted from the Royal Children’s Hospital website.

Lucas was a bubbly baby, with a big personality.

‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a developmental problem which results in poor concentration and control of impulses. The three most common symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsivity and overactivity. It can impact upon children’s learning and social skills, and also family functioning. Every 3-5 in 100 children in Australia have been diagnosed with ADHD and it is far more common in boys than girls.’

When Lucas was born he was the perfect newborn. He slept, he ate and he barely made a fuss. It wasn’t until solids were introduced where I noticed that something was a bit off. He was very sensitive to textures, and I’d spend more time cleaning up his vomit than actually feeding him. So to make it easier for everyone (mostly me), he practically ate the same food just to ensure that it stayed down. Can you believe that even today he can vomit caused by a certain texture? Not that long ago, he threw up on himself because he had berry seeds in his smoothie.

Just before his first birthday I introduced him to Gymbaroo, which is a program specifically designed to educate parents on child’s development. At Gymbaroo there is gym equipment for your children to move, climb and develop their strength. There is also a play mat area where each week the educator discusses topics of children development. This includes balance, coordination, fine and gross motor skills, speech, auditory, visual processing and body awareness. I noticed that Lucas didn’t flourish like the rest children, and he was always ‘that’ child. You know.. the one who squeals, snatches, unable to participate and is so disruptive. In the end it was just too stressful to continue, and we had even won a term which we barely attended because in the end I’d be turning red with frustration.

Taking Lucas to parks, playgrounds, play centers and birthday parties were and still continue to be a stressful event. When he was around two/three years old he was terrorizing another child, trying to snatch their bike away. On my way to sort out the issue, the mother grabbed him by the shoulders and screamed ‘NO’ in his face. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Have you heard of the fight or flight response, well I am neither of these. I freeze! Always!

Another incident occurred in a doctors surgery, where I was trying to calm him down and he just wouldn’t listen to reason. The doctor picked him up by the ankle and held him upside down. Again, I froze, looking dumbfounded. Looking back it at it, I should have approached the mum and addressed the doctor about their behavior. Because, lets face it, we are the adults and we need the control.

Our biggest issue to date with Lucas is his impulsivity. Last year, when I was heavily pregnant with Flynn, Lucas went on a walkabout. We have a tall Colorbond fence, and Lucas decided to open it and take our pets for a walk. After an hour of searching for him, we knew we had to contact the police. There is a massive golf course that runs through our suburb and my fear was that he would decide to go for a swim and likely drown. Once the police arrived, they had a helicopter on standby in case it was needed. Thankfully I always ensure that our pets are tagged and this is how he was located. A lady called me to say that not only did she have our dogs but also our son who invited himself in for a cold drink of water. He was having a grand old time.

It wasn’t until Kindergarten where someone else noticed his behavior. During his first term of school, his teacher suggested I take him to a pediatrician just to ensure that everything was okay. Eight months later, due to a very long wait list, he was finally assessed. It only took 45 minutes to diagnose him with ADHD. But we weren’t really given much, except to attend a seminar on positive parenting. When we were approaching the final week of Kindergarten , we spoke with the school on how his behavior could improve as he was scoring as a below average. Chris and I learned that WA does not have funding to support children who have ADHD. Soon, hopefully within the next two years, we will be relocating back to the eastern states.

There is still room, lots of room, for improvement from our part. We try so hard, but our own ignorance and frustrations taint our ability to be patient with him. It’s a big learning curve for us, and we try hard to ensure that he is on the right track. He does not consume processed or refined sugars and he eats a mostly plant based diet. We supplement magnesium to help him control his behavior. We try and give him a structured day so he knows what to expect, we give him small goals to complete so he feels accomplished and has something to work towards. We try to avoid negative words like don’t, didn’t, isn’t and wasn’t. Most important of all though is that we tell him we love him.

 

Much love

Melanie xoxo

 

Save

Save

Good Riddance 2016

2016 – Definitely Not an Odyssey

Well, 2 days into the new year and it feels largely the same as 2016!

I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that by some kind of divine intervention, the coming of a new calendar year is somehow going change them (new year, new me). Or that it may  bring them some kind of different life. As though there is some kind of divine being in control of their fate, a ‘Sky Wizard‘ if you will!

I’m not about to start waxing lyrically about how I’m a pessimist, or a realist (of which I am neither) or any other kind of ‘ist’ really. If I was forced to choose one like my very existence relied upon it, I would be somewhere between optimist and opportunist.

For me, I strongly believe that we are in full control of our own destiny. We are our own Sky Wizard, and as such, it’s up to us to get about fixing the things we don’t like. And let me tell you, there was a lot about 2016 that was not to like. I’m sure everyone has their own list of reasons that 2016 could fuck right of and your probably damn well happy that it has!

However, on the other hand, there was a lot about 2016 that was to like, a lot!

2016 was a year of change for us in the Edge household. The first half was pretty mundane. Work was pretty straightforward, Mel was plowing through her pregnancy (and bags of chips) with flying colours. Lucas was getting in trouble looking under the toilet doors as school (to see people wee), and we were fostering rescued Greyhounds. By all accounts, most likely an average 6 months in an average Australian family of 3.

The second half of the year was where things got interesting.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight of my (our?) year was finally getting to meet Flynn. You can read the story of his Birth here. He is an incredibly sweet, calm and easy going little boy. He has brought a sense of calm to us both that we didn’t know before, both Mel and I love him dearly. As we do both of our sons.

Mel had made the decision to take a full 12 months maternity leave after Flynn was born. A decision that had (and still has) my full support. When Lucas was 6 months old, Mel made the tough decision of returning to work. Even though things have worked out fine, has always felt that this was the wrong thing to do.

And you know what, even though money is tight, we shop at Aldi, and no longer eat meat, things have been great! Both boys are thriving, Mel is a lot more relaxed (most days) and she has an incredible bond with the boys that is completely different to mine.

I reckon anyone that claims to be a perfect father is fooling themselves, but not fooling anyone else. Parenting is hard work! It’s the hardest bloody thing I’ve ever done. And it’s a heck of a lot of responsibility. I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way? It’s our job, to care for, nurture and mold this person into the kind of adult that will be able to function in an ever changing society. That’s some heavy shit right there! I’m flat out most days just getting myself to do the things that I need to to get through my day. Brush my teeth, shower before work, no sugar in my 4th cup of coffee for the day. And that’s before 8am.

For my brother and I, we grew up in a pretty typical household. Dad worked (a lot), Mum did the household stuff, and we went to school. Both my parents are fantastic. They sacrificed everything to bring us from the UK to Australia in 1989, so I’m not about to get on my soapbox about how my childhood was hard, and that it’s not my fault that I am the way I am. But it is you see. Yes, Dad was quite authoritative and at times dictatorial, but we were kids. Pushing the boundaries, testing the limits and creating chaos wherever we went.

Do I want to be that kind of parent to my boys? No. Am I? Sometimes, yes. And it’s not until it’s too late, that I realise that I am slipping back into learned habits.

I’m sure by now you’re thinking ‘Why the bloody hell is he banging on about his daddy and 1989 when this is supposed to be about 2016?”. Well, I do have a point, and I’m getting to that (Shush Mel, my stories are important, however meandering.)

Back in October, we had Lucas assessed by a pediatrician. A pediatrician that charged us $400 to have us and his teacher do all the work for her. (I’m definitely in the wrong line of work.) Long story short, she came to the conclusion that Lucas has symptoms that suggest he has ADHD. I say suggest because I’m still not convinced, or i could just be reluctant to label the boy. Nonetheless, he does behave different to other boys his age and has issues recognising boundaries and when Mum and Dad are feeling the pressure of a constant barrage of begging for the tiniest morsel of our own dinner. Coincidentally exactly the same as his.

He can be an incredibly sweet boy, and has an amazing zest for life that i think all adults forget. Life has a nasty habit of making us get way too serious about things, and we can sometimes forget to have a sense of humor.

And here it is, the point of the last few paragraphs is that coming out of 2016 and in to 2017, we’ve had a lot of changes in our household. Quite significant ones at that. Most notable is the obvious additional mouth to feed (good on you love, you’re boobs are doing a great job!), we’ve had a significant drop in income while an increase in expenses and lastly. We’re having to completely redesign the way we parent. And it is unquestionably more of a lesson for Mel and I than it is for Lucas.

So here I am, jumping on the bandwagon that is full of people that proudly chime “Fuck off 2016!”, as we launch into what I’m going to call “Fuck yes, 2017!”

That’s all for now. I’d love to hear what you have said goodbye to in 2016! I’m sure you’ve got your own stories to tell.

If I’m not back in 5 minutes. Just wait longer!

Wife of a Navy Sailor

It is approaching my husband’s seventh year as a sailor for the Royal Australian Navy. One thing I have learnt during these six years of our relationship is how I have developed resilience, patience and a thick skin. Because let me assure you, that it has not been smooth sailing.

It began six years ago in Melbourne. Where Chris and I chatted online, met and we pretty much instantly fell in love with one another. Chris was approaching the end of his trade training period and during our first date was quick to let me know that inevitably he was going to move. There were a couple of destinations on offer and Perth was his first choice. I had an open mind and was willing to see where it led. When the time came and he was arranging the move I jumped on board. Shortly after, I gave up my job, said goodbye to my family and committed to moving to a new state.

We had moved, settled into our first home, I got a new job and yep I fell pregnant. It was completely unplanned. We were just a couple of horny people who sucked at contraception. Again, we rolled with the punches (sometimes figuratively as those hormones were wild) because it would be unavoidable that he was posted to a ship. Not long after I said farewell to Chris when I was about half way through my pregnancy with Lucas. Chris went on his first overseas trip to support those requesting early leave, and I think he was gone for about five or six weeks. Peace of cake!

It wasn’t until Lucas was born that shit got real. Chris missed out on so many of Lucas’s milestones, especially during his first year. Sadly he didn’t hear Lucas say his first words, or see when he first crawled, and the worst was his first birthday. Because Chris was absent from his life, even when he was home Lucas only ever wanted me which just put further strain on their bond.

Our first real deployment, back in 2012 where Chris was absent for three months..

So to put things into perspective, there is a belief that family members are only absent during a deployment. Wrong! The preparation can be just as long as a deployment. At the beginning of 2014 Chris was absent from his family on and off for a total for 18 months. Yes 18 months! During this time there were weekly running’s, a combination of training drills and assessments. Chris and his crew were sent to search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, making matters worse. As it was a delicate matter there was little to no communication. Families would only receive a weekly email from the captain of the ship to advise that morale was high.

Lucas was not ready to say Goodbye. Our last 2014 deployment.

Later that year, they deployed for the middle east and three weeks into the stint I became incredibly ill.  On my 30th birthday I developed cholecystitis and pancreatitis caused by a gall stone attack. I had been having these attacks for a couple of years, but oddly thought it was just a bit of heartburn so I never addressed it. I was hospitalized after tests concluded that I was really sick, and I was a mess. There was little to no family support and I needed to care for a demanding two year old. I was knocking on my neighbours door in tears because I needed help, and once I was spoke with the surgeon it was inevitable that I would need surgery.

Now began the daunting task of getting Chris sent home. I can assure you that it was the most stressful thing I had ever experienced. We were told over and over again that it was not considered serious enough to warrant a flight back home. I was on a strict no fat diet because I could not risk another episode, because lets face it pancreatitis is something you can’t mess with. I lost several kilograms and developed an anxiety disorder.

Chris was doing everything at his end, but no one was listening. He has even threatened to get drunk in every port just so that he could get sent home. I remember speaking with a woman from DCO’s hotline. For reasons I don’t know said to me that my friend’s would feel honoured, yes honoured, if I asked them to care for both me and my son. My mouth gaped in disbelief, did she actually say that to me? I wanted my husband and it was his responsibility to care for Lucas and I.

It wasn’t until I received support from a Chaplain that the seriousness of the procedure was fully realised. Thankfully Chris was sent home, I had my surgery, and thank the heavens that he was posted home as I spent three days in ICU and later transferred to another hospital for a follow up procedure. Since then I have not been able to cope with my anxiety, and now require medication to keep it at bay. Another stress inducing episode of Navy wife life, is the Navy wives.

It was like high school all over again, friends left as soon as they came. And what I mean by that is when your husbands were no longer working together on a ship, friendship was void. This had happened several times, it was so bloody upsetting and infuriating. I am serious about friendships and lets face, it we’re all far too mature for the dramas that lie within the circle of their lives.

Chris spent further time away in 2015, and during this time we started having our first home built. Something always went wrong when he was away, it was like Murphy’s Law or something. I always relied on the support of other people to ensure that the house was up to scratch. Another hole to add to my bucket of anxiety. Thankfully Chris has now been posted ashore for over twelve months, and good thing too otherwise we would not have been able to conceive with our gorgeous little man Flynn. Not long now until discharge and we can gain better control over our lives.

That’s all for now.

Much love

Melanie xx