Monday, January 31, 2011

It IS Reflux

I took Jack to the doctor today with the video from yesterday and it IS reflux.  Our doctor prescribed Zantac, and I picked it up on the way home, gave it to Jack as soon as we got here, and he's sleeping so peacefully I could cry.  My poor little man.

He listened to Jack's lungs and said they sound great, so there's no reason to worry that he has aspirated anything, or that it's a respiratory problem.  He says that Jack will grow out of this.

And just for added fun and games, Claire has a double ear infection.  Seriously.  I am so exasperated with this flu season.  It has sucked.

In other news, the SNOWPACALYPSE has begun.  It's coming down hard out there!  Everyone in town was at the grocery store, so we just grabbed an extra gallon of milk at the pharmacy.  I'd guess that we've already gotten half an inch since it started about 30 minutes ago.  We're in the part of Indiana that's supposed to get 12 inches of snow and half an inch of ice.  I just hope we don't lose power.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jack's Reflux Vlog




So what do you think, folks?  Is that reflux?  Apnea?  It has been a lot worse this weekend for some reason.  Poor baby.  He doesn't generally cry, though, or arch his back, and he rarely spits up...  I just don't know what to do.  Notice that he's upright when it happens.  It's worse at night when he's lying down.  Nothing is scarier than being jolted awake by your baby gasping for air.

Reflux?

No time to post, but tell me everything you know about reflux.  Jack has been yelling and dry heaving at night.  He's so uncomfortable!  I'll try to get video of it.

Does anything help, or do we just have to wait for him to outgrow it?

Thanks, y'all!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh Gag!

I haven't been doing a lot of writing this year, what with the baby attached constantly to my breast and all, but I've been doing a lot of reading...  And I'm not liking what I'm reading folks.

Seriously?
First Amy Chua came out and called all American/Western mothers wimps, and basically said that we don't love our kids enough to demand that they perform like trained circus animals or something....  I think she wants to be the Siegfried & Roy of parenting, with all her little tiger children jumping through hoops around her.  At least, that's how I pictured it.  And now Blossom is on the Today Show's mommyblog telling us that she has never told her kids to "say please" or "say thank you."  Wow.  I didn't even realize that correcting kids' manners had gone out of vogue for modern mommies.  I'm pretty sure that's a revelation we can all do without.  I've met some kids who really, really needed to be reminded to not act like wild animals. 

Two ends of the parenting spectrum, both telling us that we're doing it wrong.  Both stretching the wild animal metaphors to the absolute limit.  Don't even get me started on Sarah Palin and her Mama Grizzly thing.  Ugh.

Every time one of these articles appears, the blogosphere erupts with praise and condemnation, and everyone has an opinion, and everyone says that the original author is doing this and that and the other wrong, and it goes on and on...

Well, I'm here to say two important words (that Mayim Bialik would never say):     Shut up!

Everyone needs to quit with the mommy bashing and the my-way-is-better-than-your-way-ing and the sanctimony and the catty crappiness.  Just knock it off.

I talk about parenting a lot, both here and in real life, and I work really hard to say, "This is how I decided to approach this situation," but not to judge other moms and their choices.  I think I've been pretty consistent in saying, "your mileage may vary," when I've talked about touchy issues in mothering.  I hope I've succeeded, and that I haven't made anyone feel like this is a "my way or the highway" sort of blog (or worse, I hope no one reads this as an "I'm better than you are!" blog - I would die of embarrassment). 

Yes, I believe in breastfeeding.  I also believe in paying the mortgage, though, and if I had to work for someone other than my husband in order to keep a roof over our heads, and if that environment weren't friendly to pumping or bringing the baby with me, I would absolutely feed formula.  I recognize that not every mom has the luxury of being able to stay home or take their baby to work, and I am just profoundly grateful that I do.  I hope that comes through when I write about nursing.  I also know what it's like to have supply issues, or medical issues that prevent breastfeeding, and you know what?  Even if you had no reason at all to not breastfeed, it was your choice and it's none of my business.

Similarly, I believe in co-sleeping.  You know why?  Because that is the only way I get any sleep.  I would be thrilled if our kids would sleep in a crib, but they have other plans.  Maybe I'm a rotten mother and I just haven't figured out the magic secret to getting kids to sleep in their own beds.  (People are already asking me if Jack is sleeping through the night, and I'm like, "Um, no, we're hoping that the 5-1/2 year old will figure it out soon, then we'll work on the baby!")  If you can get your kids to sleep in a crib at 6 weeks, or to sleep through the night in general, I am impressed, and I think you're lucky that you got kids that sleep well.  Claire is one of those kids, and we parented her the same way we've parented the other two... so I'm pretty sure that it's just luck and temperament, and not some magic secret that I'm missing or some superiority in your parenting style vs. mine.

Do you have anything in orange?
I read an article a couple days ago that said that Graco strollers are the "Velveeta" of strollers, and that other mothers probably judge me because of my Graco stroller.  You know what?  I don't want to be friends with those materialistic mommies, anyway.  I'll take my Graco pushing, Kohl's Sale shopping, Honda driving, Velveeta eating crowd any day over a bunch of one-uppers.  I honestly have never noticed another woman's stroller, except when I was looking at doubles when the girls were little, and I quizzed everyone I saw with a double stroller on whether they liked theirs or not.  I wouldn't be able to pick a Maclaran out of a crowd, nor do I care. 

Don't you think we would all be better off if we stopped judging each other?  Seriously, we're all doing the best we can with what we've got - and we all have limited resources - time, money, breastmilk, ability to deal with a lack of sleep, etc.  None of us have infinite supplies of any of those things, and our limits are unique to our individual situations.  So why not just acknowledge that anyone who is taking the time to read mommyblogs and parenting websites is probably already doing the best she can (otherwise she'd be busy doing whatever people who aren't obsessed with parenting do).  The moms who truly need the advice are NOT the ones reading these blogs and getting into these endless debates, and even if they were, they're probably not going to listen to someone who's saying, "You're doing it wrong!  You need to be more like this wild animal!"

I think this year we should all retroactively resolve to stop judging each other, and we should remember that all of us are just doing the best we can with what we've got.  And we should stop looking to old episodes of Wild Kingdom for the secret to better parenting.  For real.

Don't worry, though, I'm not going to hold my breath.  What would that make me, a dolphin mother?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Intrusive Thoughts, Revisited

I'm over at Postpartum Progress helping Katherine fight the good fight today.  Check it out.

Have you ever had intrusive thoughts? 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Clothes

Last fall I got a bunch of maternity clothes from my friend, Sarah, who grew up across the street from me.  I've always known her, ever since I can remember, and it's totally weird that we're both mommies, now, and that we're sharing maternity clothes instead of tree houses.  That is the magic of Facebook.

Anyway, she wrote the other day (pre-plague) and said that another friend of hers is pregnant, so could I please box up her maternity clothes and send them back to Grammaland so she can pass them on to her friend.  Since I completely wore the red shirt with the runching to death  totally lost track of what belonged to her and what belonged to me am such a generous person, I said that I'd add in all my own maternity clothes, and she could pass those on to her friend too.  I have stuff that other friends sent me when I was pregnant with MG.  The sisterhood of the traveling stretchy pants.

What I never saw coming was that I would have a big ol' ugly cry over getting rid of my maternity clothes for good.

We're done.  Our family is complete.  And even if I didn't think so, the odds of talking BJ into a fourth kid are between slim and none.  

The childbearing years are so special - they're the years we're going to look back on when we're old.  They're the hardest and the best in so many ways, and they're over.  I mean, we're not throwing the baby out with the maternity clothes, but this is it.  I never get to feel a baby kicking inside of me again.  I never get to hear "it's a boy!" or "it's a girl!" again.  The next time I hold a brand new, hours old baby that is literally a part of me, it'll be my grandchild


So I stood there, looking at the clothes that I got so sick of over the past year, and I had a big old cry, and I felt really old.

I'm sure there will a point when knowing that we're Done will be a big relief, but right now it's a lot more bitter than sweet.

In other news, nursing tops are a total scam.  I found a couple white t-shirts in the bin with my other non-maternity clothes that had small stains on the front...  you know how white t-shirts are.  Instead of throwing them out, I cut slits over the boobs.  Now I can wear them under regular t-shirts and not flash the world when I nurse the baby.  This is good, because the bin with the nursing tops and the nursing bras has gone missing, and because the commercially available nursing tops are like $25.00 a piece.  The layered look is still in, right?

Anyone know how to convert regular bras into nursing bras?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Recovery

Everyone has been much better today (except me, I'm worse, but I'll suck it up), so we actually went out for lunch (Steak & Shake - the shake felt good going down but it sure didn't help my cough!), and to Best Buy to look at printers for BJ.  The kids were pretty excited to get out of the house for a change.  Then we stopped at Grandpa Bob's new house (just six doors down the street!) and visited for a while.  BJ hooked up Grandpa's DVD player.  I got tired and we came home, but Claire opted to stay.  We're going to try that new Mongolian Barbecue style place for dinner with Grandpa in about half an hour, so now that my hot tea is gone, I'm going to close my eyes for a bit.

Thanks, Facebook friends, for keeping me laughing yesterday!  It really helped!  If we're not yet Facebook friends, shoot me an e-mail with your link and I'll friend you as long as you aren't one of my creepy ex-boyfriends from high school.  :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Am Smote

So Claire came down with the flu this morning, and because we're quick on our feet we called the on call doc and asked for Tamiflu for her (to shorten it) and for BJ (to prevent him catching it).

BJ came home with the medicine, gave it to Claire, and she promptly threw up all over the couch.  Being the smart ass that I am, I put the following on Facebook:
Jammies - $12.99, Tamiflu - $60, Sectional Sofa - $699. Keeping $4 worth of Tamiflu down for approximately 11 seconds before puking it all over the jammies and the couch - Priceless.
Apparently the Universe does not appreciate gallows humor.  The Universe also does not appreciate it when one makes fun of one's sick 3 year old, because the next time Claire threw up, it was all over MG's favorite Jessie doll.
Without thinking, I say, "I can't clean this, we'll have to throw her away and get a new one."
MG starts freaking out.  "What's going to happen to her in the garbage place?" she bawled.
Oh no.  Curse you, Pixar!
If I had a brain in my head I would've put Jessie in a bag and said, "I'll clean her up later..." then I would have discretely thrown her out when no one was looking, and I would have swapped in the new Jessie without any drama.  But nooooooo....  
Instead, now MG knows that her beloved Jessie is facing this:
Awesome.
So I did what any mother would do.  I lied.  "She's not going to that garbage place.  She's going to heaven.  She and kitty are going to play with each other and wait for us."

"Mommy," she replied, "We're not going to get puked on!"
Oy.
(New Jessie was $50.  This is a VERY expensive flu.)

Awesome

Now I have it too.  The minor sore throat, low fever, headache, body ache thing I had this week turned ugly yesterday.  Higher fever, bad cough, chills...  I've been up since about 4:30 with various kids, and I decided to stay up and drink some hot tea, instead of going right back to bed.

But if I have to get it to produce the antibodies to protect Jack, then I'll take it.

How on earth do people manage to deal when they, or their kids, are really ill?  I know this will pass, and that keeps me going.  I guess when it's bad you deal because you don't have a choice.  One foot in front of the other.  What else can anyone do?

A friend of mine had a baby on 12/29, and she's in the hospital with RSV.  It seems like everyone on Facebook has at least one sick kid.  But it could be worse, it could always be worse, and so even in the midst of it, I'm grateful.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

MG's Results

The CT scan was negative for appendicitis - the doctor said that her symptoms were probably caused by the urinary tract infection that she has, but to keep an eye on it.  (Yes, I feel a tiny bit better knowing that the ER doctor saw enough of what I saw to test for it, but mostly I'm just glad she doesn't need surgery).

The bad news is that she has Influenza A, and she needs to stay away from Jack until she is symptom-free for 24 hours without fever reducers - which will be about two weeks from now.  Influenza A can be fatal in infants, so, yeah.

I have no idea how we're going to manage this...  Thank goodness we're self-employed. 

See you in March or so....

ER

Mary Grace was fine this morning.  When I picked her up from school, her teacher said that she had been really tired.  Odd, because she stayed in bed all night for the first time in months last night.

When I got her home her temperature was around 101.  She slept on the couch a little while.  She didn't want anything to eat and wouldn't drink much.  She didn't want medicine, so I didn't push it. 

At 1:30 her temp was 103.5.  Then I got a little more serious.  I started quizzing her about her symptoms, but she said that just her tummy hurt.  I gave her some ibuprofen for the fever, then I asked her, "Is your tummy ache sharp or is it dull?" 

"It just hurts, Mommy."

"Does it feel hot or squeezy?"

"It just hurts."

After 30 minutes her temp was only down to 102.7, so I called the doctor's office.  The triage nurse said she could be seen by the doctor at 3:30, or we could take her to the ER.

"What would you do?"

"Well, if it is her appendix, you'll want to be in the ER."

So I called BJ and had him come home to take her.  Of course, of course, by the time he got there the ibuprofen had kicked in, and her temp was down to 99.  She's slept the whole time they've been there, which is extremely unusual for her.  The nurse at the ER says it doesn't look like appendicitis, but they were still waiting on the doctor when BJ called a half hour ago.

The hardest part, for me, and I know it's not all about me but it's my blog, damnit...  The hardest part for me is that I'm not there.  An ER is no place for a newborn, and I would have had to take Jack (he's exclusively breastfed, and I can't pump).  Honestly, BJ is better at this sort of thing, anyway.  He stays calm and doesn't make big scared eyes when they bring out the needles like I do.  Claire is driving me insane (she doesn't know what to do with herself when MG's not around) and I'm so worried (what if it's pneumonia?).  I'm relieved that it's not her appendix, but I feel a little stupid for sending them to the ER now.  I guess BJ joked with the nurse about taking away my internet connection. 

Parenting is hard.  If I hadn't called the doctor's office and it had been her appendix, I'd feel stupid AND I might have a really sick kid on my hands, so I'd rather feel dumb with a kid who doesn't need surgery.  And I'd rather feel dumb ...........

Holy shit - BJ just called and the doctor IS worried about her appendix, so they're doing a CT scan.

I liked it better when I was wrong.  Oh God.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dramatic Reinactment

video
At 5 and 3, their acting is better than a lot of what I see on TV!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's Raining Men!!

Congratulations to PrettyBabies reader Stef in Canada on the recent birth of her son!  Our warmest best wishes for mom's speedy recovery and a healthy baby who's a good sleeper! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

3 Weeks Old

Mary Grace at 3 weeks
Jack

Jack
Claire at 4 weeks


Who do you think he looks like?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Bad and The Ugly

I've already shared a lot of The Good about Jack's birth - and most of it was good - but now that I've had three weeks (and while I have two arms) to process all of it, I want to tell you some of the bad and the ugly.

I am a Bad Patient.  I know quite a bit, for a non-medical person, about medicine.  I question EVERYTHING, not to be a pain in the ass (although it does tend to have that side effect), but because I truly want and need to understand what's being done to me and my kids and why.  I believe that it's my responsibility to be my own advocate, and my family's advocate, when it comes to health care.  I know mistakes are made - doctors and nurses are human, after all - and I feel that the buck stops here when it comes to our health.  I have a long history of pissing off doctors and nurses, but ultimately I believe that BJ and I have made excellent decisions for our family. 

One of those decisions is that we refuse the Hepatitis B shot at birth.  As I told the nurses, "My kids aren't allowed to use IV drugs or have unprotected sex until they're at least 3 months old, so they can get that later at the doctor's office."  I got a couple eye-rolls out of that one, but no one gave me too much crap.

The crap started when the baby's nurse checked some chart and said, "He's large for his gestational age, so we need to check his blood sugar." 

"Oh?  What are you going to do if it's low?" I asked.

"Well, we'll give him some formula."

"No, you won't," I replied, "So you might as well not stick him."

I had just given birth an hour or so before this all happened, so my recollection is a bit fuzzy, but we argued about it.  I'm pretty sure I told her, "Yeah, the excuse with my oldest was that she was too small and she needed formula.  Now she's perfectly healthy and very tall for her age, and I ended up nursing her for 28 months."  I probably also mentioned the baby born in Mexico City right before an earthquake, who survived for EIGHT DAYS without food and water before being found, as an illustration of the fact that the baby was perfectly capable of surviving for a couple of days on colostrum until my milk came in.  In the end, I'm pretty sure I said, "If my doctor would like to come in and have a look at him (it was 3 am at this point), and if he thinks that something looks WRONG, then we'll intervene, but I don't see any reason to do anything at this point - he looks perfectly healthy and comfortable to me."

The nurse didn't like me much, at this point. 

So the baby's nurse left and got back up - she brought in the NICU nurse to tell me that I was an idiot (nicely, of course, with a smile on her face).  I restated my point (that I wasn't going to give him formula, so there was no reason to stick him), and she said that he might need IV fluids if I refused formula.  I again said that if we were going to do something that drastic, it would be after the doctor looked at him and said there was a problem.  Not before.

All through this, my poor mom, once a La Leche League Leader and fellow person-who-dislikes-taking-crap-from-medical-professionals was practically chewing through her tongue to keep herself from jumping in.  I was really proud of her for letting BJ and me handle it - I know it was hard for her.  If I had to watch Mary Grace, an hour after she'd just done something as hard as giving birth, get bullied like that, I don't know if I could keep my mouth shut.  I'm sure she wanted to go full Mama Grizzly on them, and we aren't even republicans, but she held back and waited until the nurse was out of the room before she gave me a big "Atta girl!" and told me that I was right.  (Good job, Mom!)

Then the baby's nurse wanted to do all the standard after-birth stuff.  As I did with both of the girls, I refused the antibiotic eye gunk.  They give it to babies because of sexually transmitted diseases that cause blindness, and while I understand that there might be women out there who could have chlamydia or gonorrhea and not know about it, I know that I am not one of them.  Neither of my other kids are blind. 

This time the nurse flat-out lied to me.  "It's not just to protect against STDs, it also prevents against e-coli and stuff.  You know, the area down there isn't exactly sterile."

My head almost exploded.  I wish I'd said, "I don't know about your area, sister, but mine is plenty clean enough, thank you very much!"  Besides, the erythromycin they use, according to my dad the nurse, isn't even effective against e-coli. 

Once again, the NICU people (two this time) had to come tell me, with a smile, what a profoundly dumb idea it was to refuse their standard procedures.  And once again, I listened to them and said, "Yes, I understand, and I still don't want the eye gunk."

In the end, we had to sign a bunch of forms saying, essentially, "We know we're idiots and we aren't going to hold the hospital responsible when our kid is blind and has low blood sugar," or something.

If I had been a first-time mom, I totally would have caved the first time they brought in the NICU nurse.  The implied threat is clear, "Do what we say, or your kid's going to end up in the NICU."  It would have made a lot more sense if they'd brought in the head nurse in charge of the mother and baby unit, but that isn't nearly as scary as saying, "NICU," or even "e-coli."  They completely took advantage of the fact that I was tired (it was 2 - 4 am when all this was happening), hurt (I'd just given birth!), and vulnerable to try to get me to do what they wanted.

Now, granted, I don't think they wanted to harm Jack - quite the opposite.  I agree that for many children, in many situations, the interventions they wanted to make would have been appropriate.  I'm sure that the eye gunk has saved many kids' vision, and that routine blood sugar checks have probably helped some children - but I did not believe that they were appropriate in our particular circumstances, and they really tried everything they could think of to undermine our right to direct the medical care of our own child.  I'm not a fan of doing things without a reason.  Since Jack wasn't showing signs of low blood sugar, and because I know that I don't have any STDs, and since I know how Hepatitis B is transmitted, there was no reason to do the things they wanted to do. 

By the way, our midwife and our doctor, who know us much better than the nurses we'd just met that night (our midwife has treated me since before the pregnancy, and we've been seeing our family doctor since 2003) agreed that there was no reason to do those things, as I knew they would.

And, lest you think I'm inflexible and I don't ever listen, I should tell you a story about a time when I initially refused something and then changed my mind when it was explained to me.  After I had MG, the nurse said, "I'll put this ice pack in your panties..." and I said, "Like hell you will!"  All I could think of was Flick from the movie The Christmas Story.  "Stuck.  Stuck!  STUCK! STUCK!!  STUCK!!!"  Well, once the nurse promised me that that wouldn't happen, I consented to the ice pack, and everything was just fine.  (Why is it that NONE of the books I read about pregnancy and birth mentioned the ice pack??)

The only other annoying thing that happened was that I had to stay in the hospital until Sunday (I went in Thursday) because my blood pressure stayed worryingly high.  On Saturday night BJ called me from home (he had gone home to help his mom with getting the girls to bed) with a couple crises - Mary Grace had a rash that he thought might be scarlet fever again, and the power was going out.  It turned out that the rash was because I had forgotten to tell Grandmother Diana that MG and bubble baths don't mix. 

The electricity was a slightly bigger problem - when we put the new siding on the back of the house our friend Jim came over and loosened the electrical connections so that we could slide the old siding out and slide the new stuff behind all the pieces that are fixed to the house, then he came back and reattached it all once we put up the new siding.  Well, something got knocked loose or something was old - I don't know exactly - but whatever the reason, the result was that the power would kind of randomly go off when the wind blew.  BJ went out there, like Fonzie, and banged on the side of the house to get it back on.  I was worried that it would go out in the night and his poor mother would be out there in the snow banging on the house, so I said, "Maybe you should stay home."

"No," BJ replied, "I need to be there with you.  It'll be ok.  I'll call Jim."

Well, we got a hold of Jim and that was all fine, he came over and fixed it, but I was still worried about Diana and the kids.  I figured that I had an entire staff of hospital personnel to help me, while she would be all by herself if BJ came back to the hospital.  Then I got smart.  "I know," I thought.  "I'll have the nurse take my blood pressure, and when it's 120/70 or something great, I'll be able to call BJ and say, 'see, I'm fine, stay there!' with greater authority."  So I called the nurse and the aide came in and took my blood pressure.

It was 160/100.

I don't know if you know anything about blood pressure, but that's BAD.

She waited a few minutes, then took it again.  159/98. 

So much for my plan.

The aide left me there, panicking in the dark, while she went to find my nurse.  I think my nurse was in Canada somewhere, because she was gone a long time.  The longer she was gone, the more I freaked out.  I actually decided that the best course of action was to lay with my finger hovering over the call button, so that if I had a seizure I had a chance of hitting the button before I croaked.

It never occurred to me that they wouldn't have left me alone if they thought I was going to die.

Then I remembered that my dad is a cardiac nurse, so I called him at work (in the middle of a crisis, not a code, but someone was trying to get out of bed or something, and he really couldn't talk right then).  He reassured me that while I would probably die of heart disease eventually, it wouldn't be that night even if my pressure was that high, and to just chill and he'd call me right back. 

My poor dad.  I wonder, if he'd been a shoe salesman instead of a nurse if I'd still be a hypochondriac.

So the nurse finally showed up after 40 minutes, and I said, "I know my pressure's going to be high because I've been lying here alone in the dark thinking I was going to die for the last 40 minutes!"  She apologized and took it again.  Still high.  We waited, and she took it again.  Still high.

"I'm going to try the one on the wall," she said.  The old-school analog machine, as opposed to the automated digital one they'd been using.

It was 120/70.

The *&@^ing machine they'd been taking my BP on all weekend was broken.  I could've gone home Friday if we'd known.

"I wondered why everyone had high blood pressure this week!" the nurse said.

Sigh.

And now, as Paul Harvey would say, you know the rest of the story!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wow!

So you might remember that I lost about 50 pounds prior to getting pregnant last year.  Of course I couldn't diet when I was pregnant, but I kept my weight gain under careful control.  I gained a total of 25 pounds, most of it at the end of my pregnancy.

Ever since I got home from the hospital I've been trying to screw up the courage to step on the scale and see how far I am from where I started.  Since today is the beginning of a new year, I figured that it was as good a day as any to face my bathroom scale demons.

I am four pounds heavier than I was when I became pregnant.  And to be honest, I can't really blame any of it on Jack - I blame the cookies and candy and pie and ham and turkey I've been eating for the last month!