There are good reasons its been a few weeks... so let's update.
Almost 2 weeks ago, we got a very unexpected call from the director of the Cache Humane Society. He heard that we had been contemplating and looking for a dog to use as an emotional support/service dog for Faith. Because she responds so well to animals, we knew it would be a good thing for her, but weren't having much luck finding a dog that fit into the price range we could afford. We knew we could handle the month to month upkeep, but even the shelter here wanted $150 for a dog, and when you couple that with the necessities of a dog that will be mostly indoors (a kennel, toys, food, veterinary care, etc.) it just wasn't working out.
The director of the shelter decided that he wanted to do a service for us and give us the right dog for a price we could afford. He suggested we come by the shelter to meet a dog that had been in the shelter for a while, but seemed like she would fit our needs, a Jack Russell Terrier named Ripzy. We decided it wouldn't hurt anything to go down and meet this dog they were suggesting and possibly meet other dogs that could interest us.
We met Ripzy and I was very impressed. She was very sweet and very kind with the girls. She was so kind that even Phillie, who had been terrified of dogs since our last experience at the shelter when she was knocked over by a very enthusiastic 1 year old hound cross, was IN LOVE! We didn't have time to meet any other dogs because Jeff needed to go back to work,but I was already sold because of how stellar this dog was with the kids. Jeff needed a bit of convincing. My husband, the avid outdoorsman he is, really wanted a dog that he could take hunting and that had a bit more energy. The director of the shelter offered to put her on hold for us for 24 hours so we could think about it...and after a day of debate back and forth (literally, we spent all day talking about it...the joy of instant messaging and cell phones with texting), we decided we would do it. We knew that we weren't going to get another chance to pick how much we paid for a dog, let alone a great dog that was already housetrained (supposedly, we had a few accidents, but I think we're almost over that battle after going back to strict crate training for a few days) and was so gentle with the kids.
We made a deal with the shelter and paid for the cost of her microchip and then went to get the rest of the stuff she needed. We definitely have been blessed. I did have a few days last week where I wondered if we should take her back. She started developing some nervous ticks around the girls, I think she just wasn't sure about what she was reading off of them, and coupling that with her refusal to eat and some accidents in the house when we'd had a good first few days, I was wondering if she was a good fit for us, but we weren't a good fit for her.
After bouncing pros and cons back and forth with my awesome husband (seriously, he is the greatest. He just knows how to get me to think through things differently and give me the perspectives I need to make a decision I can feel good about), we decided that, for better or worse, Ripzy, now called Pixie since its easier for Phillie to say, is a part of our family now.
As suspected, Faith has already made some HUGE strides because of Pixie's presence. She is already babbling more, she sits and babbles at Pixie, petting her and trying to get her attention to play. She brings toys and food to share with Pixie (something she would NEVER do with another kid or even an adult), and last night was the cutest thing ever (of course, as soon as I brought my phone out to record it she stopped)- she actually had a book out and was trying to show Pixie different pictures, babbling about everything she was pointing at in the book.
I'm hoping to eventually train Pixie to help calm Faith during her meltdowns (which shouldn't be hard since she innately has already started going to Faith to investigate why she is crying and tries to snuggle up close to her), and I'm hoping that as Faith sees us get Pixie to do tricks using hand symbols and word commands that she will give them a whirl too...since we've also had a few heart in my throat episodes where Faith has gotten out of the house (toddler door knob guards have been purchased and are working), I'm also hoping to train Pixie to alert us when Faith is leaving the house unattended. We will see how it goes. I grew up raising, breeding, and training dogs...we will see if I am a little over confident in my training skills.
For now, we are perfectly happy to see Faith making progress and that Pixie's mere presence is causing some huge shifts for us. To anyone on the outside looking in, they would still see an almost 3 year old who is still non verbal, but to us, who live with her every day, we see the shift from barely making any noise at all to wanting to babble at her new furry friend and are VERY encouraged.
I have tried on multiple occasions to get pictures of her and the girls together. Phillie likes to walk right up to her grab Pixie's face, and put her nose to Pixies and give her kisses calling her "baby" and babbling her version of baby talk at her...its ADORABLE...but of course, as soon as the camera comes out, it stops. Faith likes to stand next to her and gently pat her when she is feeling overwhelmed and she is CONSTANTLY trying to snuggle up next to her on the couch...we have had a "nipping" incident last night. Faith did something that hurt Pixie(we didn't see...) but before tears that came with her holding a nipped hand, we heard a painful yelp from the dog, so we couldn't really be mad at Pixie for defending herself. We just took her to her kennel and said "no biting" and Jeff took Faith upstairs because she was FURIOUS that we'd decided to put Pixie away... I was worried that Faith would be afraid of her after it, but this morning, she was even more eager to be sure that she gave Pixie loves and patted her VERY gently, as if to say she was sorry. I would imagine it is likely the first and LAST time a little nip would ever happen. She didn't break the skin, so I know Pixie was trying to be as gentle as possible. It was just her way to say "Ouch, you're hurting me. Stop!"
Beyond adding a dog to the mix, I spent some time last week in the hospital.
Wednesday night last week, out of nowhere, everything started spinning and it wouldn't stop. We tested my blood sugar to be sure it wasn't that my sugars were too low or too high, but they were normal, I drank water to do a kick count and also in case it was dehydration...Jeff was so sweet and kept vigil over me. After about an hour of waiting for it to go away, he eventually suggested that maybe I was just overly tired from a very full day and practically carried me up the stairs for bed...I seriously couldn't walk in a straight line. When my eyes were open, everything was spinning and when they were closed, it felt like I was physically still spinning. I started getting very nauseous from all the non-existent spinning and the only way to help was keeping my eyes closed. I went to sleep, praying it would be better in the morning, but had no such luck.
After some discussion, Jeff called his mom to come watch the girls and took me to the ER. After lots of tests, an MRI, and monitoring the baby to be sure she was okay and what was affecting me wasn't hurting her, we were given the diagnosis of unexplained Vertigo. I had/have no signs of infection, so they couldn't chalk it off to an ear infection or sinus infection, the MRI showed that none of the pregnancy related issues that could cause it were causing it...
Of course, because I am pregnant, they couldn't REALLY treat it because the medicine they needed to give to get the spinning to stop right away is Category C... After a day in the hospital, they sent me home with Meclazine, a motion sickness pill to try to help with the nausea and some of the dizziness, and orders to rest until it goes away.
So far, I've had several "spinning" spells, since I came home. All I can do is lay down, take a Meclazine and wait...which has been interesting with two toddlers to say the least...especially when one of those toddlers is Autistic and is having a VERY bad day where she is just overwhelmed by any and all sensory input (like the day before yesterday...)
Fortunately, the day after that VERY BAD day, we had a session with our Occupational Therapist, and she gave me some strategies to help Faith feel more grounded and less like she needs to control her environment by checking out and avoiding any engagement in activities that I'd tried to divert her attention from her melt downs.
The OT said that Faith was just likely very overwhelmed from a poor night of sleep and that she was seeking to feel grounded and was trying to accomplish this by ignoring everything around her and doing activities that allowed her to focus on one thing at a time...this meant that touching her, trying to get her to eat, trying to get her to go take a nap, everything we normally do was just too much. She suggested getting Faith to do "animal walks" getting her to crawl on all fours, wiggle on the floor like a worm, or crawl on her hands with her feet on the ground...she said it may seem counter intuitive at first since she doesn't want to be touched or engaged, but if you can, hand over hand, start the activity, she will sense that it's what her body needs and start to become active in it. She demonstrated, and I was amazed by how FAST Faith started to do the activity and how eagerly she kept going even after our OT had stopped doing it with her. The OT says the ultimate goal is for Faith to engage in these activities long enough that she gets a sensation similar to the one that we would get after a good long workout. She also showed me some pressure/holding techniques that would help her feel grounded as well... even the OT marvelled at how much Faith seemed to "need" the pressure/holding, and she was even having a decent day that day...
She is going to bring us a weighted blanket so we can try it before we buy one, in hopes that it will help curb her sleep problems and that we will have fewer "bad" days in the future.
In other news...in spite of our "bad days", I still have cuteness like the picture below going on in my house, so, I can't complain too much...even when I feel like poop and have to spend hours on the couch waiting for the world to stop spinning...
It may be a crazy life...it may not be easy (but what worth having is easy?) but I am blessed to be living it. It makes me a better person, it makes me closer to my Father in Heaven as I turn to Him for comfort and counsel, and it brings me closer to my husband as we work as a team to make it all happen. At the end of the day, all I can do is have courage enough to try again tomorrow and have faith that it will continue to get better. And with God on my side, the support of my awesome husband, and angels who hear about our random needs and deliver (like the Cache Humane Society, thanks again guys!) I know it will.
I often tell my friends that are struggling that if my experiences of late have taught me anything, its that our mantra in life should be "baby steps are still steps." Progression is still progression. We keep moving forward and if we do all that we can do, God will make up for the rest that we can't and we will eventually reach our destination...and there will be MANY destinations in this earthly life...each destination is a jumping off point for a new journey. You can be dragged kicking and screaming from one blessing to the next or you can choose to have faith in the baby steps and find joy in the journey...I don't always choose joy...but I am working on making my choice joy every day. Eventually, I will get it right.
Hugs and loves until next time darlings!