Wednesday, June 3, 2015

To Jack, on your (preschool) graduation day...

Dear Jack on your (preschool) graduation day,  

 I can already picture your 18 year old self proclaiming, “But mooooooooom. It’s just preschool – it’s not a big deal.” Then why, my sweet boy, can I not pull into the preschool parking lot during this last week of school without dissolving into a puddle of tears? 

Maybe it’s because you are my first born – the one we wanted so badly and waited so patiently for.  But plenty of moms will be sitting there during the last show watching their first born children “graduate” from preschool without gasping for air between bouts of ugly cries. So why, oh why, is this so very hard for me?

You see, you and I got to this place by taking a different path.  Your first year of life was not typical and it made me fiercely protective of you.  There was a moment where we didn’t even know if you’d be able to attend “regular” school with “regular” kids.  I’ve spent the last five years eyeing down strangers in Target who looked like they were going to say something or ignoring the conversation with the mom next to me at the playground because that kid following you around might do/say something about your glasses.  I was/am the Mama Bear of Mama Bears.

You were safely guarded at preschool, and I fell in love with the teachers who were as fiercely protective of you as I am.  Being at that school was like being with family, and it was more than easy to send you off every day.  And now you’re leaving.  The bubble I’ve created and kept sacred for five years is now expanding to include things like school buses and cafeterias, and much older kids…and a place I cannot protect you. For 8 hours a day, I will not know if you’re ok, if you’re happy or being teased.  Your teachers won’t be as easily reached, and I can’t call the front office just to check in if you’re having a bad day.  It scares me to death. 

 Here’s the thing – you’re going to be fine. I am so excited for all the things Kindergarten holds for you, but what I wouldn’t give to protect you for one more minute, one more day, one more year. Everyone tells you it goes by fast, but holy cow, that was lightning speed.  I just keep thinking of a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Father of the Bride” (which I can also not get through without sobbing, but that has to do more with your sister):

 Sooner or later, you just have to let your kids go and hope you brought ‘em up right. 

I’m not letting go, trust me, I never will.  But I suppose I’ll have to loosen the reigns a bit.  I love you to the moon and back, kiddo, and this Mama Bear will never let go. 
become this so quickly???
How does this.....

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"I don't want to burst your bubble..."

Well, there are seven words you don't want to hear at a doctor's appointment.  Bubbles burst. 

When we first came through Jack's initial surgeries, almost 4 1/2 years ago, we were led to believe that there would eventually be an end in sight.  Maybe we did it to ourselves, but we truly thought that when Jack was 4, he would have the IOLs (implants) put in, eyes would be fixed and glasses/cataracts would all be a history.  It's what got us through. 

Fast forward those 4 1/2 years and that's not exaaaaaaaaaactly how it's turning out.  For one, Jack's prescription is still changing too frequently for our doctor to feel comfortable putting the IOLs in, especially because there is really no other reason to do it.  (A lot of times doctors have to do it because of contact intolerances, problems with glasses, etc.)  Jack is fine.  He wears his glasses, and he sees almost perfectly with them.

The other issue is his left eye.  We have never had any outlying issues besides the cataracts, so it knocked us down a peg when we were instructed to patch Jack's eye for 2 hours a day.  I know I'm his mom, but seriously, Jack is the sweetest, kindest, most well behaved kid I have ever met.  To stick that thing on his face every day makes me cry, but boy has he taken it like a champ.  (And I must say, he looks adorable with it on.)

There's another black cloud hanging over me: kindergarten.  I know that sounds silly, but for the last almost 5 years, it was in my head that this would all be taken care of by the time Jack started kindergarten.  I envisioned his little glasses-free face getting on the bus, meeting a whole new group of kids that had no idea what he had been through in his little life.  This is where my bubble was burst.  I made a comment about having this taken care of before he started kindergarten, and the doctor's exact words were, "I don't want to burst your bubble, but he's going to be dealing with this for life."  I love our doctor, I really do.  I don't mean to make her sound like a monster, and to be honest, it's probably the slap in the face I needed.  But ugh. 

So at the end of the day, we still consider ourselves very lucky.  Patching 2 hours a day is nothing compared to what some people have gone through, but I have a whole new appreciation for you all!  We coasted for awhile and this is just a little bump in the road.  My next mission is to find some "kindergarten-friendly" glasses! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Glasses: A Board Book" review and giveaway!

I'm so excited to finally be able to review Glasses by Ann Zawistoski. Ann is the founder of Little Four Eyes, the first and by far most helpful support group I came across after discovering Jack's cataracts.  I also got to meet her this summer when she was in my neck of the woods, which makes this all that more exciting!

Glasses is a celebration of young children wearing glasses in a format  targeted to the younger crowd.  This is so special to me because Jack was 3 months old when he got his glasses.  As he got older, the only books we could find about glasses were still a bit over his head.  This book would have been PERFECT! 

Don't be discouraged though.  At almost 4 1/2, he loves the book.  There are bright and fun pictures of all types of children wearing all types of glasses.  Every time he "reads" it to us, he changes the story a little. (Sometimes he tells us about the mommies and daddies wearing glasses, sometimes he talks about the different colors of glasses, etc.)  His younger sister also loves the book and usually just yells, "Jack!" on every page.  The rhyming story is a lot of fun, too and the board book format ensures that this book will last on the shelf for years to come.

Here's the best part: I have been asked to conduct a giveaway of the book and I have TWO copies to donate to a local school or library.  To enter, leave a comment with your favorite color, school or library you would like the book donated to, and an email where I can reach you! 

Drawing ends Thursday evening at midnight EST! Good luck!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What we've learned...

I couldn't even begin to list the number of things we've learned since starting this journey, but the one thing that matters the most is that when Jack starts looking out of the corners of his glasses, it's time for a prescription change.  He wasn't scheduled for another checkup until July, but we were able to get him in much sooner and thank goodness we did.  Talk about a growth spurt!  His prescription went from a +14 and some change to a +12.  No wonder his glasses were driving him crazy.

We are almost in "normal" sized lenses.  For once, the optometrist who fills our glasses did not comment that this was the highest prescription he had ever seen.  The funny part was that even though we used the exact same frames, EVERYONE noticed that Jack got new glasses.  I couldn't believe that the lenses made that much difference. 

Back in July for another checkup, and little sister will get her last cataract check then too! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Another great checkup!

These are my favorite posts to write.  We are now three years and four months into our journey, and things are going great.  Jack had his checkup last week, and it couldn't have gone better.  First of all, what a difference age makes.  Every time we have a checkup, he is 6 months older and is able to do so much more.  They were able to get pressure checks (all is well...phew) and do all these other tests that he fully cooperated with.  He didn't lose steam when reading the charts, and even sat by himself!  Of course, he didn't have to be dilated this time, so that certainly helped our cause. 

As long as his glasses are on, Jack literally has no vision issues.  He can see just as well as any other 3 1/2 year old.  (Without the glasses are a different story, but why would we ever take them off?)  His teachers have been great and hyper vigilant, and even they say that the only reason they know he has any sort of eye problems is because he wears glasses. 

Emma update: I always like to include her, too, for people who are curious about how cataracts effect future children.  OF COURSE, everyone's situations, genes and family history are different, but so far Emma is in the clear.  They even got a pressure reading on her, as well!  The doctor shared that in her years of monitoring siblings, if they didn't have them by 8 months, they didn't get them, so fingers crossed that we are not the exception!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

3 years!

Well, it's been 3 years (and some change...blame our computer for not getting this out sooner) since we found out about Jack's cataracts, had both removed, and were on our way to life with an aphakic (no lenses in the eyes.) When I first started searching for information about cataracts, one thing I could never find was how this was going to effect us down the if you're new to the cataract thing or just curious as to how Jack's ya go!

Jack is a full time glasses wearer. We had a short lived attempt at contacts about a month ago, but it was just too traumatic for all of us. They're still sitting on the counter. The glasses are a non issue. He wears them happily and at this point, that's all that matters.

He's in preschool three days a week. He LOVES it. He loves his teachers, friends, learning...everything. He doesn't require any sort of accommodations. I shot his teachers a quick email at the beginning of the year just explaining that he needs to wear them and giving cleaning instructions should snack or craft time get messy. He's adjusted well to the bifocals and there is nothing cuter than watching him tilt his head so he can read through the bifocal.

We go to the doctor twice a year. The visits are usually pretty painless and result in a prescription change. I'm scared to say this out loud, but we have thus avoided the patching boat. One of the benefits of having a bilateral kid is that neither eye was ever stronger than the other. Don't get me wrong...I know plenty of bilateral kids who have to patch for one reason or another, and I guess we're never fully in the clear. Same thing goes for glaucoma...he'll be carefully monitored for life I'm guessing.

Three years ago, I was terrified to think of what life would be like at this point. I lived in the worst case scenario world. The good news is, I'm not sure life today is any different than it would have been without cataracts. Jack has no recollection of his fateful first year, and continues to be a happy go lucky little dude!

If you're just starting your journey and have other questions about what life down the road is like, please ask! The unknown is a scary thing...
Jack doing his best "scare face" after watching Monsters, University.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Jack started preschool two weeks ago.  I cannot even start to express how AMAZING it has been for him.  He absolutely loves it, his teachers are incredible, and I couldn't be happier.

The weeks leading up to preschool were filled with apprehension, though.  I thought, for sure, he'd be in contacts by now.  I imagined him coming home telling me that someone said something about his glasses.  Look, I'm not an idiot.  I know one day, he's going to get it.  Someone's going to say something unpleasant or rude to him and he's going to understand it.  For now, though, they're 3.  Jack can't wait to get to preschool to tell his teachers that his daddy is going to get new tires at Costco.  This gives me faith that the other kids aren't worried about his glasses right now. 

In fact, one simple conversation wiped away all of my fears.  On the first day of school, we walked into the lobby only to be face to face with another child in the exact same glasses.  We didn't point them out and Jack didn't say anything.  A few minutes later, Jack's daddy took him to the bathroom before class started.  The other boy with the glasses happened to be in there with his daddy at the same time.  When they left, Jack turned to David and said, "Daddy! That little boy was wearing..."

Here's where you are expecting him to say "glasses."  Nope, the conversation was, "Daddy! That little boy was wearing a Lightning McQueen shirt!"

After hearing about this, I later asked Jack about the encounter in the bathroom.  He told me there was a little boy in the bathroom wearing a Lightning McQueen shirt.  When I asked him if the little boy was also wearing glasses, Jack's response was, "Nope, just me!"