shudder attacks

Back when K was about 11 months old, she began having tremors. These tremors were brief. They lasted less than 5 seconds, so if you weren’t staring at her intently, they were easy to miss. It essentially looked like a shiver — as if she felt a sudden chill — followed by a brief “tensing” of her body and a blank stare into space. Then, that was it. They went away after about a week, and we never received an explanation for them.

Fast forward about ten months, and we reach this past weekend when we noticed that these tremors were happening again. She had multiple “episodes” on Saturday, but very few on Sunday. Regardless, I decided to take her in to the pedi. We didn’t get a definitive answer during the last round of tremors, and I wanted to see if a new set of eyes would be able to determine what was happening.

After a thorough exam, the pedi called in a pediatric neurologist, who finally put a name to these strange (and admittedly a little scary) events:

shudder attacks

Don’t worry. I’ve never heard of them either; however, you can Google search and watch videos of these attacks happening in small children. You can also read more here. Shudder attacks usually start in infancy and peak during a child’s toddler years. They are essentially benign “seizures” — though they aren’t exactly seizures and aren’t usually tied to any larger neurological disorder or function.

They have no clue what causes these. There are no consistent triggers, though we have noticed that they seem to happen for K around mealtimes. They are just these strange things that happen that are completely unexplained. There is no method of treatment, and kids usually grow out of them by the time they are ten or so. The only thing we can do is monitor her to make sure they don’t start occurring more frequently or lasting longer than several seconds. If that does happen, she’ll have to go in for further testing.

On one hand, I’m happy that this was her diagnosis. These are relatively harmless, and she doesn’t seem affected by the episodes. She’s had a couple since our appointment, and she appears to bounce right back into whatever she was doing prior to the shudder. On the other hand, I wish I knew WHY they were happening. I want to know what causes them. I want to know if this is something tied to any of her other, previous medical issues. I want to know if other children born under similar circumstances have them, too.

Clearly, it still frustrates me to hear “I don’t know.” And it frustrates me even more so now that it’s about my child — not about me.

cherry blossoms

I love cherry blossoms.

Before we moved here, I had no idea that cherry blossoms were a “thing” in Seattle. I mostly associated them with the NJ/PA/DC area. Imagine my surprise when they began blooming along our neighborhood streets over the course of these last few weeks. Then, imagine my excitement when I learned that the University of Washington’s campus is covered in them.

There is so much that I appreciate about cherry blossoms: their beauty, the history and culture behind them, etc.

Yet, I believe it’s the timing of their bloom that makes them most special. For many, cherry blossoms are the symbol of spring. The icons of rebirth and regrowth. It doesn’t matter how harsh the winter felt or how long it lasted — the cherry blossoms will eventually bloom and signal the beginning of the new season. They also reflect new beginnings. The chance to start over. The promise of what lies ahead.

After some coaxing from me (and some initial teasing from Joey), we set aside Sunday afternoon to check them out. The weather was supposed to be beautiful, and it was — meaning everyone in the Greater Seattle area would be taking full advantage. It was packed, but we had a fantastic time wandering around the Quad and staring at the gorgeous sea of white and pink blossoms. It was nice to take a moment to remember that spring is around the corner.

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It was also a timely reflection for me, as I’ve spent the last week incredibly focused on trying not to let my thoughts wander back to “winter.” It’s not a practical use of my time. It’s also not healthy for me; yet, winter proves difficult to escape. The cold air seeps back in, sometimes with little or no notice, and I find myself once again snowed in by these feelings I have. Feelings of sadness, disappointment, anger, frustration, resentment, betrayal.

What I can’t do is go back and change these things. I can’t go back and force events to happen differently so that I don’t feel this way. I can’t force others to understand or see things from my point of view. There’s no use shouting at a brick wall. Even if I thought that the brick wall should understand. Even if I expected the brick wall to be better. To do more.

It’s in these moments when I need to take a step back and think about the cherry blossoms.

I need to remember that regardless of how harsh and cold things can feel, there is always light around the corner. There is always an opportunity to start anew and refresh your perspective. I need to take a moment and realize that I can’t change the past. And remind myself that, maybe, the best is still yet to come.

everything to say

“We had everything to say to each other, but no ways to say it.”
— Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

How many times have we all thought this at some point in our lives? We had things we wanted to say, and for whatever reason, those things never came out. And not just because of death, which is what Foer is referring to — at least at the surface level. (Those of you who’ve read the book know what I’m talking about. I digress.) But because of everything. Timing. Circumstances. Fear. We have countless words living inside of us that we don’t release.

I didn’t always feel this way at “from IF to when.” There was a time when I felt comfortable saying whatever, whenever, however. This stopped. I kept saying and writing and doing, but I didn’t feel comfortable anymore. I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time, but I didn’t feel as if I was a part of the group. Then, Monday happened. That’s when everything fell apart.

Or, maybe that’s when everything came together. I’m not sure which at this point.

We are told time and time again growing up that words can never hurt us. This isn’t true. In fact, I find it to be the LEAST true thing that we are told as children next to, “If you cross your eyes, they will stay that way.” Words hurt. Silence in the lack of defense of those words hurts even more. The words that I read on Monday hurt me. They hurt many of us. The lack of words in defense of my feelings and the feelings of others crushed me. (For more on words and how they affect those of us who’ve adopted, read this blog post.)

Tuesday, on the other hand, uplifted me. It made me realize that I wasn’t fighting this alone. It made me realize that I still had a voice and that voice was still important. It made me feel so incredibly grateful for the blogging community — a community that I couldn’t possibly walk away from.

Which leads me to here and now. My new space. It was difficult to make that leap, but I had to do it. In my mind, I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t stay and continue to NOT be true to myself. I couldn’t stay and be a silent supporter of something that didn’t support me in return. As a friend and fellow blogger told me, my choice was an example of “how you live a life with no regrets.” I don’t regret my decision.

This is the first and last time I will write about “from IF to when.” I cherish everything that happened in that space — the good and the bad, but especially the good. The friendships it led to. The confidence it built in me. The catharsis that was blogging every step of our journey throughout infertility and adoption. I remain, always, a supporter of infertility and adoption-related causes and advocacy work, and I’m sure I will write about adoption, in particular, on this blog because I live in that world daily.

But these is not what this blog will be centered on. It will be centered on everything that I had to say.

The only difference is that, now, I finally have ways to say it.