its been a hot minute since I did an update on the big girls. we’ve gone through a TON of change over the last 6 months since I posted a little update about whats been going on with them- aside being a couple of really cute 5 year olds that make me laugh my head off every single day. if you remember when I posted HERE about Parker and Jolie, life was a big fat headache of confusion and flailing emotions.
things have gotten much better. actually, I have a couple of very happy little girls these days. which is a far cry from the emotionally distraught kids + sleepless nights and meltdowns every single day that lasted 2+ hours or more. we’ve been able to grasp their needs both together and separately and have hit a groove that has helped them thrive and flourish into their fifth year.
its been good. so I decided to give a little update on whats been going on!
our sweet fighter! y’all, she’s been through more in her 5 years of life than I have at 33. I am happy to report that her anxiety and worries have resolved.. which happened on its own and she hasn’t had any more trouble sleeping or having to be connected at my hip 24/7 as she did over the summer when we were right in the thick of trying to figure out what in the world was going on with her. finally getting a PFAPA diagnosis, back in august, was the greatest relief of all- we have some resolution to what is plaguing our girl. since that diagnosis we have been dealing with the episodes that come every 6-8 weeks. we treat the symptoms as they come and with the support of her doctors we have opted out of medications/steroids to offset the symptoms- the side effects are much worse on her little body. over the holidays we were hit with back to back fever episodes.. the second one I thought was flu because it followed so quickly from the first one, but flu test was negative and so was strep. I thought for sure we were going to be able to get through Christmas without an episode but no such luck, I suppose. she finally stopped running fever on Christmas Day but it was still a slow day- she’s pretty lethargic the following two or three days while she’s recovering.we go back to the rheumatologist in a couple weeks where we will talk about getting her tonsils and adenoids removed. most kids with PFAPA have 100% relief of their symptoms and become fever free when these are taken out, so we are hoping for the same result, especially as she walks into kindergarten in August. she won’t be able to attend enough school if she’s missing 11-14 days every quarter due to high fever and feeling like complete garbage. these last two episodes seem to be worse than ones before, and her lymph nodes are getting larger and more painful to the touch with every fever causing her to refuse all food. we pretty much feed her whatever she will eat!
I’ve heard getting her tonsils taken out is a terrible recovery process, but its worth it and we will be prepared as best we can to help it go smoothly for her. as always, I’m open to all the tips and tricks you mamas have for us!
in between her fever episodes she’s our easy going free spirit. never failing to offer her opinion and BFF to Baker and her puppy.
this girl is such a light. days with her can swing from absolutely amazing to absolutely exhausting. she has the most genuine soul on the planet and deeply loves everyone close to her. those same emotions that make her heart so big are ones that are occasionally uncontrolled causing incredible outbursts. I mentioned in my last update (HERE) that Parker was having insane outbursts and I felt totally defeated as to what to do for her or how to manage it. she would sob for hours on end after an angry and destructive fit over nothing I could pinpoint- every fit was for an unrelated reason and every fit seemed to get worse than the last.
my decision to stay home with the kids was strongly influenced by the emotional changes Parker was going through- she said multiple times to her dad that she would be happy if my mama was home every day. the transition from my working 4 days/week to being home full time was exhausting. I could have never imagined something like that to be so difficult, and I arrogantly thought it would be ‘easy’. I was so excited and very thankful to be home with my babies, but to say it was easy..
back at the end of October I made an appointment with our pediatrician. it wasn’t a sick visit or a well visit, it was a psychological visit. did you know pediatricians have this kind of visit? I didn’t. we previously met a couple times with a social worker to discuss Parker’s behavior, but I actually found little resource in her guidance- she was amazing, but I felt like Parker was a little far from her scope, if that makes sense? during our appointment with Dr. Butler I shared videos I recorded of a couple of Parker’s fits. they were loud and scary.. bringing tears to Jolie’s eyes as she relived one particular fit in the car when Parker unbuckled herself and refused to sit back down causing my need to pull over. Jolie was really distraught in those intense moments and I could see the same look of distress once again when she could hear the video as Dr. Butler watched.
I agreed to this visit and was open to hearing what Dr. Butler said but I was very adamant that I did not want to medicate her. I didn’t want to take away my amazing kid. her personality. her love. her joy.. I was terrified (and uneducated) that a medication for her behavior would change her in some way.
SIDE NOTE: I want to be clear that I do understand the need for some children to be medicated. nothing is wrong with that I just want to make sure I touch all the bases before resorting to that because thats what we feel is best in our situation.
Dr. B agreed that she didn’t think she needed to be medicated for something along the lines of ADHD yet, although she has very strong signs and symptoms that point in that direction, she isn’t comfortable at this age putting her on a stimulant. what she did recommend was L-Theanine. she shared studies and encouraging information regarding the use of this supplement in children with anxiety. basically, its a naturally occurring amino acid that influences the dopamine and serotonin in the brain encouraging those that take it to chill out.
improved cognitive function, alleviate ADHD symptoms, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep
after researching it a bit more on my own I found this supplement for kids called “relax-a-saurus”. its a chewable dinosaur shaped l-theanine blend supplement. I went out on a limb and picked a bottle up at GNC, and later found it in bulk on amazon.
it took four days for us to see a difference in Parker. and when I say difference I mean DIFFERENCE. since then she takes it once a day, in the morning, and that chewable lasts about 10-12 hours. it relaxes her to think through tasks thoroughly without getting upset when something isn’t going as she expects it. she gets along with her sisters and with ME. she sleeps AMAZING. before she started taking this supplement she was fighting me to go to bed on most nights and waking still a couple times every other night.
occasionally she needs a second purple dinosaur (thats what we call it) around 4pm in the afternoon. I can usually tell when she’s getting stressed or anxious (she talks A LOT) and asks me repeatedly if she’s “doing a good job”. Christmas completely wigged her out and we needed two dinosaurs almost every day that week before and the week after Christmas. all the activity and stimulus surrounding that time really kept her on edge, but thankfully the purple dinosaurs helped kill that pretty quickly.
Parker’s tantrums are few and far in between. her last tantrum was a couple weeks ago- Jordan and I went on a date and left the kids with a sitter. before we even left I could tell she was ‘off’. we face-timed and talked her down and she was fine by the time we got off the phone.. where as before we would have had to just come home and relieve the sitter. before that tantrum I can’t tell you the last time she really threw a fit..
she’s come a long way, leaps and bounds actually, from this summer. we have learned to talk Parker through something she’s frustrated about and the l-theanine has really helped to make those frustrations manageable for her brain to process. I cannot express enough how magical that purple dinosaur is for her.whew. so there it is. the nitty gritty of life with these two at the moment. I always appreciate the encouragement, the love, and outpour of prayer and support we get when it comes to the tough stuff in life. thank you so much for reading and allowing me to share some vulnerable emotions I have struggled with as a mom. you guys are the best!
photography by:: b faith photography