Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Latest Baerg Happenings

Life has not felt normal here at the Baerg household, not for months. We sold our house - the one Monte grew up in and the one we had planned to stay in until the boys grew up and moved out - and moved into a house with a suite that would accomodate Monte's parents as well. This move happened at the beginning of December, just in time to add to the chaos of Christmas! We were blessed to have Monte's sister and her family out from Quebec for two weeks for the holidays, but having just moved our home never quite felt "settled." Our dog ran away two weeks before moving and got hit by a car, so she was a nervous wreck for about a month! And I was working part-time from home for Focus again, plus making a go of my etsy shop and growing another baby boy in my belly! Nope, not normal life for us at all and it just kept going...

Between the four of us, we'd all been fighting a cold or flu of some kind since the middle of November. Antibiotics, inhalers and loads of tylenol for the littlest guy with a double ear infection - we were not in the best of state and looking back most likely our immune systems were probably extra-susceptible to sickness with all the changes/stress going on in our lives. So sleep was a rarity in our house and the lack of it was starting to catch up with all of us. I had started the morning habit of having the boys play quietly in their room while I took my time getting up and ready for the day... I'm not a morning person at the best of times, let alone pregnant, sick and sleep-deprived! One February morning as I was slowly waking up I heard Cody screaming and crying. Nothing new in our house, since he still can't communicate well and therefore resorts to outbursts that sound like murder but are much less extreme in reality. I've gotten used to tuning out some of his screams, and have been trying to let the boys work things out on their own as much as possible since in just a couple month's time I'll have another little guy to tend to. I remember saying to a friend recently "at least they're not at the age where they can physically hurt each other." Boy, was I wrong. After a few minutes of tuning out Cody's non-stop crying, I ran to the bedroom to see what was the matter. He was on the floor pointing in pain to his leg while Nate tried to help him up. Nate explained he had wanted Cody's Iron Man toy but he wouldn't give it to him, so he yanked on his leg and Cody fell. I tried to pull Cody up on his feet to see just how hurt it was, but he refused to put any weight on it and fell into my arms screaming. After changing his diaper and removing his jammy pants through pain-filled cries, I called Monte realizing I'd be making an improptu trip to emergency. Thankfully Monte ran right home and took Cody himself, and Nate & I met up with them there about a half hour later. X-rays showed a terribly long spiral fracture of his femur (thigh bone) - one of the worst breaks he could have.

And there the nightmare began. Would he need surgery? Just a cast? Should he be transferred to BC Children's hospital? Enter social worker number one. We were questioned about the leg break and then informed that we would each be interviewed by Child Protection Services, both together and separately, and with police present, asap. Suddenly I was not allowed to be left alone with my kids - Nate particularly since Cody was admitted at the hospital so there would be enough nurses around to "protect" him from me, should I be an abusive mother. Just a little later I spent a good hour away from comforting my son (who was lying in peds in so much pain despite the constant flow of morphine to his little body) to answer to two workers from Child Protection as to what kind of mother I am and the events of that day. Monte followed in his own interview, while I went back to Cody's room to have a good sob. It was just such a slap in the face, and humiliating, not to mention that it took both of us away from being there for our frightened little 2-yr-old. A nurse caught me in the midst of my breakdown and was thankfully much more sympathetic than the social workers, as I blubbered on through sobs about how I wasn't a terrible mother and please don't let their views of us as potentially abusive parents affect how they take care of Cody. It was one of the longest days of my life, not knowing if they might suddenly decide to take one or both of our boys away from us during the investigation.

Almost nine hours after being admitted we finally saw an ortho surgeon who wanted to just slap a cast on Cody's thigh and send him home that night. Monte fought to have him transferred to Children's as we discovered they had a surgeon who specialized in recognizing bone breaks from abuse - it was our hope to immediately clear our names and move past the investigation, since we had nothing to hide. So by ambulance around 10pm Monte & Cody went to Children's in Vancouver where they quickly saw a pediatric ortho surgeon who had a very different opinion of what Cody would need to recover properly. Three to four days in traction, minimum, and a cast that would enclose half his body. Thankfully the next morning they discovered just how well the bones had lined back up and felt traction wasn't necessary. And the surgeon specializing in child abuse saw Cody and confirmed that Nathan could have in fact caused the break, the first and most important step in clearing our names.

Meanwhile, I had to have my mom come stay overnight with Nathan and I so someone could witness my every interaction with him, as per Child Protection Services. And both he and I needed to be questioned by the police before they could consider me a suitable guardian for him again. The worst part was that Nate wasn't allowed to have anyone else present in the interview and it had to be done at the police station - he was so scared, it took me 45 minutes just to convince him to talk to the detective alone. But he finally agreed and did great in the interview... he even got the detective's business card which he taped to his chest proudly. And Monte & Cody spent two nights at Children's before coming home. We were given a special car seat for Cody since his legs were set too wide to fit into a regular seat. It's been just over two weeks since he was put in a cast, and we're counting down the days before it can come off! As if a two yr old isn't stubborn and assertive enough - try taking care of one who can't do half the things he used to do only weeks ago! He's cranky and irritable, and for the first little while he wasn't getting much sleep because of the nightmares he'd have over the incident. It's been a long haul, but going back to Children's this past week for his check-up made me realize just how fortunate we are... this is something so temporary, and there are so many kids out there who are battling long-term diseases and conditions. Families who don't live anywhere near the hospital have to relocate and turn their lives upside down to take care of their child's health. While sometimes the day-to-day challenges of carting around what feels very much like a giant, opinionated, vocal baby bring me to tears feeling discouraged, there are kids who are in far worse states and I thank God he's granted us our overall health.