Friday, March 29, 2013

The Road: It Is Still a Bit Bumpy, Folks

Welp, things didn't slow down around here. After I complained about taking both girls to the hospital in one week, we experienced the following:

First hit to the head that was bad enough for me to get out the flashlight and check for signs of a concussion:

A lovely reaction to yogurt, which resulted in me going off all dairy (hold me):

And, just for funsies, a 2 AM trip to the ER. Because WHY NOT?

Here's how I'm feeling about all of that:

1. I hate being the mom with a kid who has visible bruises. I feel like people are looking at me. You know exactly what I'm talking about.

2. Did you know when you are doing a total dairy elimination diet, you effectively cut out every single food item that is prepared or processed? Fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, and legumes are about all you've got left. I basically also went cold turkey on wheat and sugar at the same time I cut out the dairy, and shit y'all, I really should have checked into a residential facility for that kind of detox. My body was pissed about my new diet of green smoothie for breakfast, veggie soup and salad with chicken (no dressing) for lunch and again for dinner. I am slowly thinking of more ideas of things I can eat, and I'm feeling better now, but still feeling a bit sorry for myself because Easter candy. SOB.

3. Even more than I hate being the mom with bruised-up kids, I hate being the mom who is always calling the doctor, calling the after-hours number, and, in four instances already, being the mom sent to the hospital with her kids. I hate taking my kids to the hospital when they're not, say, bleeding profusely, because I feel like people think I WANT to take my kids there. Does that make sense? It makes sense in my head. The first time I was admitted to the hospital was when I gave birth to Josephine. Now I fear my pediatrician's receptionists know my voice and are pulling up the girls' files before I can get my name out. I have lots more thoughts on this, but I think I'll just leave it at this and try to move on.

All of this has made me really wonder ... are we cursed? I mean, I'm seriously thinking we should look into it, because DAMN. I know the saying is "It's always something!" but could we get a FEW hassle-free days here and there?

I felt I should ask Jeremy the other night, "Have you, perchance, hit an old gypsy with your car lately, my love?"

"How dare you, madame?"

"I think it's worth asking. Let's just be honest with each other, okay?"

"Well, darling wife, have you ever stopped to think about all the salt you spill every single time you use the salt shaker? Have you ever once thrown salt over your shoulder after you do that?"


All I can say is, it better not be related to this house, because I cannot move again this year. I cannot. I will have to suck it up and live in a cursed house for a few more years if that is the case.

But hey, Easter is coming! We went on our first of five (FIVE!) Easter egg hunts this morning. 

I hope you all enjoy a curse-less Easter weekend!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Will I EVER Learn?

From the brilliant mind that brought you such startling realizations as Sometimes Babies Don't Sleep!, Every Pregnancy is Different! and Two Kids are Harder Than One!, a new, even more startling realization: Don't tell the Internet you've had a "difficult, long, tiring, insane week."

The Universe will rain down upon you with the fury of stomach bugs for the whole! family! because two puking adults isn't fun enough -- let's get the little girls in on the action, too! Fevers, chills, puking, headaches, feeling as if we'd been beaten with baseball bats. You name it, we had it. I broke so many capillaries in my face that my foundation still couldn't cover them all a week later when I had to teach my night class.

Woe! Woe is us, right? 

Wait, this just in. More breaking news! Don't bother feeling bad for yourself when your entire family is sick, because it can always get worse:

Then, don't (do NOT) compose a blog post in your head while driving home (with a migraine) from teaching your night class about how the following week was ever so much worse, because:

Good gravy, y'all. 

I could go into a blow-by-blow recap of the whole stinking week, and I've done that many a times already, but I decided to tell you two things: the scariest part of it all and the (very few) tips I learned for short hospital stays.

The scariest part. 
Josephine was never really that sick when Jeremy and I were in the depths of hell. She was feverish and a little slower-moving, and she threw up three times, but the whole thing was pretty much a non-event for her. Then, she started getting better. Jeremy and I did not, so much. Then, suddenly, she was feverish and lethargic again. I read once that you should be concerned if a child appears to get better and then takes a turn for the worse, and Josie was definitely not herself. Her fever didn't get very high and she didn't throw up again, but she ... get this ... sat on the couch. For more than five minutes. All day, in fact. Seeing as five minutes of sitting still was her previous all-time record (when she had a fever of 104), I was concerned.

I told Jeremy I was going to call and get an appointment for her the next morning, just in case. He did the "whatever you think" thing that usually means he probably doesn't think what I'm doing is necessary. I made her drink lots of water and rest all day, but I wasn't extremely worried. 

The next morning, she tried to assure me she wasn't sick (again), and when the nurse called us back, she crawled in and told everyone "Meow! I a cat! Meow!" Everyone was laughing at me, I just knew it. (Yeah, your kid's totally sick. Good one, hypochondriac.) She was being adorable and energetic and not helping my theory that something was really wrong. 

When the doctor came in, she said, "Well, I'll admit, we were all laughing out there about how Josie didn't seem sick at all" (SEE!) "but we got the results from her urine sample, and I've never seen more ketones. She shouldn't be able to walk."

And just like that, whoosh, off to the hospital. With Josephine crawling out and pretending she was a kitty, naturally. The whole office was shaking their heads as we left, and I overheard the doctor calling ahead, saying, "She doesn't look or act sick at all, but don't let her fool you. She is SICK."

Then, this was basically repeated with Genevieve three days later. "Are you sure she's sick? She's so smiley and sweet and happy! How can she be sick? Ohhhh ... look at these test results. Well, she's pretty dang sick."

I think every mother who's read What to Expect When Your Expecting or any other similar parenting book has come across the (infuriating) adage that "you will just know when your kid is sick enough to take him/her to the doctor." That always made my stomach eat itself. Will I know? How will I know? Are you actually trusting me to just know, book? Are you?

So, I guess, technically, I did "just know," but in another sense, I didn't. I didn't think I was taking Josephine to the doctor so we could be admitted to the hospital. When I called and told the nurse that Genevieve hadn't eaten for 15 hours and hadn't had a wet diaper in that time, I was still hoping she would give me tips and tell me to keep an eye on her. 

On top of that, it appears that my kids are never going to "look sick," and that is going to make things a great deal more difficult. I am going to come off as a hypochondriac helicopter mom. I am going to have to know the right questions to ask, the right tests to demand. I am going to have to be forceful and say things like, "I know she doesn't look sick, but ..." while Josephine cartwheels around the exam room.

This terrifies me. Isn't it hard enough to begin with to be a parent and try to decide when your kid is just a little sick or sick enough to merit medical attention? Why do mine have to show no outward signs? (My mom will tell you it's because I was the exact same way. In elementary school  I would go down to the office and ask to rest on the cot for a while, and the secretary would send me away because "any kid who's being polite and smiling isn't sick enough to miss class," then I would go home with a 104-degree temperature and puke for three days. Why couldn't I just rest my head for an hour, huh, Mrs. Reynolds? HUH? But I digress.)

I swore I was working hard on the "not being scared" thing, so I will try, but ... damn. 

I did learn a few things you might not already know, so here is my new-found hospital wisdom:

1. ALWAYS eat breakfast before you take your kids to the doctor's office; you might get sent to the hospital and then it might be ten hours before you eat again, and if you're breastfeeding, this means you'll be shaking and about to pass out while trying to take care of your sick kid. Not ideal.

2. If you have time to stop home and grab stuff, GRAB COMFY PANTS AND SOCKS. I let Josephine and Genevieve wear one-piece PJs to their doctor's appointments because they were sickies, and then when they had to put on their hospital gowns, their poor little legs were cold.

3. If your kid needs an IV, ask for a hospital sock to put over the whole shebang -- keeps it in place, they don't have to look at it, it won't catch on anything, much harder to yank out. Brilliant. (thanks, nurse Steve!)

4. Don't be afraid to ask for things. They worst they can say is no. The least I could do was ask for an extra pillow when Josie was uncomfortable or ask for extra juice and jello when she was requesting a snack. Asking for the little things will give you good practice in case you need to ask for big things.

5. Use one of those "personal belongings" bags you'll find stashed in a closet somewhere to toss all the toys that have hit the ground. It helped to keep them separated so I remembered which were off-limits for the rest of the time, and then I could dump them straight into the sink with bleach the second we got home. 

6. If you don't already have a white noise app on your phone, grab a free one. When I was alone in the ER with Genevieve and she FINALLY got tired but the kid next door was screaming like he was in the middle of an exorcism (he kept it up for FOUR HOURS) and we were across from a door that apparently needed to be SLAMMED every five minutes, I downloaded it, cradled her, held the phone up near her head, and BAM, three hour nap. 

If you have any other tips for other parents who might have short hospital stays in their future, please feel free to add them in the comments! I'm no expert on long stays, and that's a whole other can of worms, but if you have tips for that, too, by all means, share away.

There you go, folks. Our sad, sad week. NOT THAT I'M SAYING IT WAS TERRIBLE, UNIVERSE! No, no, that's not me complaining! No need to make me realize it could always be worse!!!

(Whew. That was close.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Review: Elegy for Eddie

Things got a little crazy around here, people. Things got taken to a whole new level, and I am trying to get it all down, but even sitting down to write about it is proving impossible. So is, it seems, remembering that I agreed to post a review of Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear. 


Elegy for Eddie is one of the Maisie Dobbs books (which meant nothing to me when I agreed to review it). Having never heard of Winspear before and then learning that TLC Book Tours had multiple books in the series being reviewed this month, I looked her up and learned she is quite the prolific best-selling author.

That makes perfect sense as soon as you crack open one of her books. Maisie Dobbs is a investigator in 1930s London. I could probably stop the review right there, because DONE. Am I right? I'll give you a little more to go on, however, if you aren't sold on that alone (although if you're not, I question your taste in reading material). (Just kidding) (Sort of)

Winspear is an award-winning author for a reason. The writing is simply divine, her characters are dynamic, and the plot will make any detective-novel lover happy. The entire series is highly acclaimed, and I will be adding them all to my library list. Start with Elegy for Eddie or start at the beginning of the Maisie Dobbs series. Either way, you're in for a treat.

I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my review, but was not compensated in any way. The opinions are my own.

Friday, March 8, 2013

This Week

This week has been ... difficult, that's the word I'm looking for. See also: Long, tiring, insane. 

Genevieve, although she is an angel during the day (minus the won't-take-a-nap nonsense), has decided she cannot sleep at night unless I am holding her, and even if I do that, she wakes up screaming about every half hour. I am hoping it is a good old fashioned sleep disturbance combined with being overtired from not sleeping well during the day and not that she is in pain from the gut stuff (things are about the same with all that). Plus, since Josephine has been waking her up at 7 in the morning (Genevieve would prefer to sleep in until 9), she is a tired mess all morning. I just made my FOURTH attempt at putting her down for a nap, and a certain older sister has woken her up within minutes every time. And I just discovered that my cloth diapers are repelling (MAYDAY!), so don't mind me, I'll just be putting Josephine in her insanely expensive overnight disposables while I get these all stripped and working again, all while nobody sleeps. La dee da da!

Anyway, this week wasn't all bad, and it wasn't even terrible. One of the things that gets me through the tough weeks are the hilarious things Josephine has been doing and saying lately. I feel like my life is just a series of vignettes with her. She's all funny little episodes and one-liners that I have dutifully been trying to record.

Commence vignettes.


The other day Josephine was very upset and also, apparently, thought she was being ignored, and she ... well, she bit yours truly. When I did the "NO! Never again" and all that jazz, she immediately dropped to all fours, made her dinosaur face -- have you seen it? It's this:

and said, "But my a dinosaur, mama! Dinosaurs HAVE to bite! They have to!"


Every morning when reaching into the plastic bin full of the nutrigrain bars to which she is hopelessly addicted, she rummages around all of the bars that are the exact same flavor, s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully considering each (identical) one, then finally (blessedly) chooses one, and bursts into a huge smile, telling me "Oh, dat's a BEAUTIFUL one!"


Sitting and happily painting, she looked up, very pleased, and shouted, "Cowboy monkey!" All I could say was "...what?" She repeated, with the same enthusiasm  "Cowboy monkey!" When I asked her "What does that ... mean?" she shrugged and said, "Cowboy monkey."

Well, that settles that.


The other day, Genevieve crawled into Jeremy's lap, and she shouted, "Oh no, baby! Dat's MY daddy!"

All I can say about that is ... oh dear.


When I take a picture of her, she often does this funny little old man laugh ("Huh huh huh!") and tells me "Dat's a GOOD ONE!" (before she's even seen it)


She's really into birthdays, and every week when they ask at storyhour if it is anyone's birthday that week, she raises her hand and shouts "MY BIRTHDAY!" So lately she has been shouting "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!" at me at random times during the day, while handing me a "gift" (either a random object or an imaginary gift), and she just looks so dang pleased when I accept. 


She has this crazy ball popper that shoots balls in a "unpredictable manner" (as described by the box), and they often roll under the TV stand and couch. This morning we were looking for some missing balls and I spied one under the TV stand. I pointed it out to Josie and told her to grab it, and she said, "Uhhh, maybe MAMA do it." When I encouraged her to try herself, she said, "But it so FAR FAR AWAY, mama!" When she finally deigned to get down on the floor and try to reach it, she barely extended her arm and did the whole "Ughhh! I just cannot manage!" thing even though she had barely reached an inch under the TV stand. "Mama better at it!" she told me. Flattery gets you everywhere. (Except, no, the ball is still there, because I know she can reach it herself) :)


She has started answering her own requests in the affirmative: "Please my have a snack, please?" "Ummm, SURE!" and if that doesn't work right away, she smiles and tells me "That's a nice way to ask!" (what I tell her when she asks nicely and means I'm about to give her whatever she asked for. And yes, she does the double-please thing when she really wants to lay it on thick. She knows what she's doing)


Jeremy and Josie sit and eat breakfast together on the weekends and Jeremy reads the paper while she eats her cereal. This Sunday, when they got back from sledding and she was sitting and drinking the requisite hot cocoa ("hot gogo"), Jeremy went to toss the paper in the recycling and she stopped him because she needed to see Garfield.


Lately she has been telling us a lot about her feelings, and it charms me to no end to hear her say things like "That makes me happy!" and "That makes me excited!" This morning, I was making two stuffed puppies lick her face at the same time, and she kept asking me to "try again" ("do it again" in Josie-speak), then she stopped and told me "That makes me ... WILD!" We stopped that game.


As I was typing this, she kept shouting a word at me, after asking her to repeat it about twenty times, I finally heard "Vra-ka." I asked her, are you calling me "Veronica?" to which she sighed, and replied, "Yes, Vra-ka. YES."


And hey, why don't I just dump all my favorite photos from this week here, too? YOU'RE WELCOME.

Making snowballs with daddy:

I wasn't sure the first picture turned out, since she was running at me, so I kept asking her to hold up her snowball so I could get another picture. This is what I got:

Making squeeze-and-mash cookies with Grandma. Best cookie recipe ever for little kids!:

She told me her rocket was too tired from blasting off and needed a break to watch Super Why:

God, she's cute:

She wanted to feel all the fabric. She deemed it "fuzzy" (not "soft," like Grandma suggested):

 OH, the SHOCK at the idea of Genevieve touching her dollhouse!:

She eventually got over it. Well, she still held her doll in her mouth to keep it safe from her sister, but better:

I posted this on facebook and Instagram before I even realized I wasn't wearing make-up. Huh.

Another avocado lover in the family (it's Josie's favorite):

She just likes food in general (like her mom):

Baby model:

The girls were being all snuggly and cute this morning, so I got the camera. And got ... this:

Love these girls. It seems as if Genevieve is up from her 15-minute nap, so I must be on my way. Share a favorite moment from your week in the comments for me?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Trying to Get Over It: Doctor Edition

I wrote this whole long post about Genevieve's recent visit to the gastroenterologist and the ensuing confusion and nervousness, but then I just sat there and thought, TMI my friends. It felt like a call to action -- Give me all your opinions! Tell me what ails my daughter! Don't tell me I'm being too aggressive/too passive with her treatment! Don't tell me I'm a terrible parent! -- and, well, no. No thanks. 

Here's what it boils down to: According to the gut doc, as I like to call him, something is wrong, and it could be not a very big deal, kind of a big deal, or a huge deal. Now we just have to find out which it is. 


Tests have been done. Procedures have been scheduled. My nerves are a bit shot. I just keep reminding myself about the part where he said "it could be not a big deal." We have our fingers and toes crossed.

After our marathon doctor appointment day last week (two doctor visits and lab work! yikes!), I had time to think about all the information we got and I have a hypothesis. Sure, it's the easiest thing to fix after "nothing," but I don't think that's because I want to ignore the problems. I have high hopes that we can turn this thing around before the exploratory procedure scheduled for the beginning of April, but it's based on facts and logic and my pediatrician thinks it really has merit (I would tell you what the gut doc thinks, but ha! like he's available for a phone conversation).

Why all this has me in such a tizzy is because it reeks so much of poor Josephine's gut problems (No, it's not oversupply like it was with Josephine. I wish it were, because I could fix that), and the experiences I had with the medical community at the time have left me with so little trust that I don't know what to do here. My kid is sick. The only place I can take her is to doctors, even though last time SO MANY doctors either brushed us off or gave us horrible information. 

In fact, the very first doctor I saw, armed with a list of concerns with the strange things Josephine did when she ate, after she ate, and how she filled 20-25 diapers with diarrhea a day, she scoffed, "That's how babies are!" Three months later, when my mother-in-law found the diagnosis for us, I scanned the list of symptoms, and OH, Josephine exhibited all 25 of them, and OH, it turns out it's NOT normal for babies to choke the entire time they're nursing and have BLOODY DIARRHEA FOR TWO MONTHS, but thanks for your professional opinion, doc! I had given her a list of 25 symptoms, told I was being stupid, and so, of course, every other time I took her in about her poop problems, I never mentioned all the other stuff, assuming it was nothing and I was a stupid first-time mom, which meant I never gave the clues to any of the other doctors, who might have pieced it together much sooner. Yes, feeding problems and elimination problems are often linked. SHOCKER.

Then there was Josephine's gastroenterologist, who we first met in the hospital, scared to death and trusting him. He, however, seemed very uninterested in discovering what was actually wrong with Josephine. In the hospital, after spending two minutes with us, he told us it was a milk protein allergy. Simple. Do x, y, and z, and she will be fine. We did it. No change. When I followed up with him a month later, at my wits' end, he said, "Huh, looks like it's not a milk protein allergy after all, but I don't know what it is." Then he wrote ... get this ... "milk protein allergy" in the diagnosis line of her paperwork. When I inquired as to why he might write that, he said, "Oh, I have to write something in that line." (!)


Then, as he breezed out the door, he mentioned over his shoulder, "No need to schedule a follow up appointment. I don't need to see her again." (!!!!!!)


So, yeah, based on past experience I assume the worst, even though things might be okay. I'm trying really hard to just learn from the past and not repeat the mistakes I made with Josephine.

I must remember that my role as advocate for my child is crucial. I am her voice, and every decision I make must be in her best interest, not because I am afraid to speak up or ask more questions or have things explained more carefully.

I will speak up, I will speak up, I will speak up. I learned the hard way that medical professionals are not perfect, and I must know what is going on at all times. (Like the time a nurse, who had spent 45 minutes intubating Josephine, picked up a bottle of saline and was seconds from pouring it into her stomach, when I interjected, "Isn't she supposed to get the pedialyte?" "Oh yeah!" she laughed, "The bottle is exactly the same! Isn't that funny?" NO. No, it's not funny.)

Like I said, maybe this isn't a horrible horrible problem. Maybe it will be relatively easy to fix! La dee da da! Nothing to worry about here! Maybe it will be a long road. Who knows. But I need to get over myself and stop being so god damned scared, because my fear will not help my daughter. We'll fix her. We'll find a way. 

World's best patient quietly reads a book on hour six of doctor-appointment day
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