I’m trying to keep this rolling.
I know, 30+ parts is a little ridiculous. I should be writing a book and calling them chapters. But whatever, I’m committed now.
Read from the beginning here.
Pregnant. Tired. Struggling. Raising a neuro-atypical six year old boy with impulse control issues, a loud and beautiful four year old girl who liked to instigate fights with her brothers and melt hearts everywhere, and a strong-willed not-quite two year old boy who challenged me to new levels at every turn, with advanced tooth decay and a sparkle in his eye that wouldn’t quit.
I was feeling lost and forlorn. It wasn’t at all a new feeling for me – I think at that point I had been some degree of lost and forlorn for the last ten years of my life. However, this time around I had decided that what I needed to fix me was DEFINITELY to move again. I wanted to go back to our townhome, closer to Charlotte, back to where more of my friends lived, where our mortgage was cheaper by half than our current rent, and there was a pool across the street. In my mind, moving was the solution to all of the problems that I was able to recognize as problems. It made perfect sense to me: give our tenants 30 days notice, put in our own 30 days notice, and move. Immediately.
Brock was an adamant and resolute no. He didn’t want to move back to the townhome at all. While he knew we couldn’t stay in our current home (the rent was far outside of our budget), he wanted to keep our renters in the townhome and find something else that might be suitable. It was the first truly huge disagreement we had gotten into since our prior separation, and it was painful. We just couldn’t see eye-to-eye. After several big fights that were left unresolved, we decided to return to our marriage counselor for a “refresher” in communication, and an outside perspective.
However, our counselor doesn’t provide answers – she provides tools for coming to win-win situations, which always involves each of us doing our own work to get there. Not an easy button, but more of a guide to finding the best solution. We went home and continued to talk and listen to each other’s feelings on the subject without ever getting to any kind of resolution. We stayed in our rental while life went on, waiting for a solution to present itself that satisfied both of us. Honestly, it was super frustrating and annoying. But that was how it was supposed to work.
Around Christmas, Ryder’s teeth took another turn for the worse, and it became apparent that it was time to intervene. Food particles were causing him intense pain if they got stuck in his grooves. I began carrying a toothbrush with me everywhere we went in order to immediately brush his teeth after eating. Brock and I knew it was time for Ryder to have some major dental work done. We had been seeing a holistic dentist that I really appreciated, and I called his office to make an appointment. I felt really great about having his work done by someone that valued the same things we did, who had been with us for the last few years, and fully supported our decision to hold off on intervention until Ryder was older. I was absolutely crushed when I was informed that, while our dentist was willing to see Ryder, and do cleanings/appointments, the doctor was not comfortable doing any kind of surgical procedure on our boy, and told me we would need to find a pediatric dentist to do the work.
It’s been a really long time since I shared about Ryder’s teeth. He’s been mostly unchanged for a while. His last whole tooth (the Right K9) has started to show signs of decay. His molars have occasionally started to cause him pain, which is heartbreaking and because of it, we have started to address the possibility that he may need them all pulled. Our decision to avoid pulling was always based on fact that he showed no signs of pain or discomfort, and also no signs of infection. There has always been lots of guilt and turmoil regarding this issue… and lots of fear. But it will turn out however it does, and he will be fine – he will be wonderful – no matter the outcome.
I cried. I had been in pediatric dentist offices before, and I did NOT want to go see someone new. I didn’t want to explain our story or situation, or defend our eating and breastfeeding habits. I didn’t need to be talked down to or belittled, shamed or scorned. I started calling around to offices to get Ryder on the schedule, and despite our regular dental care and extensive records, every office required us to come in for a paid visit before they would give us any information. Ryder ended up seeing 4 pediatric dentists, and each visit played out exactly the way I had expected: fear mongering, shame and belittling. Of COURSE his teeth were rotting because of breastfeeding. Of COURSE it was because I didn’t brush well enough. Of COURSE he needed extensive work done. OBVIOUSLY we ate like crap, he had too much juice and candy, and he would clearly have never had any issues if we had used fluoride. All of those things seem to just be a given when you walk into most pediatric dentist offices.
In the end, we went with the dentist that was the least rude. Honestly, that was my decision making process – I will give my business to the professional that treats me and my child the most like humans who are suffering from an unexpected difficulty, not like trash who have created their own problems and are to blame for their shitty situation. We went ahead and scheduled Ryder for a surgery day – even the most conservative evaluation stated that he needed 4 teeth pulled and 10 crowned, which would require general anesthesia for a very busy two year old. The soonest date we could get was February. The dentist we chose only did one surgery day per month, and the next two dates were fully booked. I was so hurt and sad for Ryder, who had to live with uncomfortable teeth longer than was ideal, but I didn’t see any other choice.
Christmas came and went, and added to rifts in our family situation. There were hard feelings over Brock’s brother and nephew moving out, and it felt like sides were taken without any conversation about what truly happened, how it played out, or why. Brock was incredibly hurt that he wasn’t given any sort of benefit of the doubt. He felt like he was pigeon-holed as the bad guy, no matter what the actual situation was. There was a massive lack of communication. I sat with my loving, gentle, generous husband as he wrestled with the belief that his family would always see the worst in him, and that he couldn’t ever do anything right by them. We spent several sessions in therapy together, discussing the merits of limiting communication with people that continued to cause emotional pain, whether or not it was intentional. We discussed the difference between boundaries, and a complete severing of ties. We struggled together and cried together and decided together that we would probably never be fully understood nor accepted, and that space from his family was probably the healthiest option.
Time crawled slowly and resolutely on. We continued trying to exist through each day, trying to figure out was right, what was okay, what was survivable. Ryder’s surgery date approached, and I started feeling anxiety that I was sending my son to his death. It felt incredibly irrational, and I couldn’t shake it. In the following weeks, we had to do a battery of pre-surgery appointments to make sure he was healthy enough for the ordeal, and I began dragging my VERY two-year-old two year old to a multitude of different offices and hospitals to get all the requirements met.
And before I knew it, it was the day before his surgery.
To be continued…