Monday, November 28, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Timmy at 4 months

We had Timmy's 4-month checkup a week early because we'd be traveling.  He weighed in at 15 pounds 1 ounce and was 25 inches long.  He's solidly average in size.  He's certainly the leanest of all my babies.  I don't mind.  It's nice not having to figure out how to clean underneath two or three chins.

He doesn't have enough hair to tell (when are you gonna grow some hair, Timmy?!), but it looks like he's turning out to be another blonde.  I am eagerly awaiting the growth of more hair.  What little he had in the first place has fallen out and all he has left is peach fuzz.  When the light is shining on his head, he looks blond.  If a slightly orange light is shining on his head, he looks strawberry blond.  In dim lighting, he's dirty blond.  He's got a big patch of cradle cap in the middle of his head, and once I take care of that (the sight of it makes me want to gag, so I guess it's about time) some more hair might grow.

Timmy had a couple of firsts this month.  There was his first road trip -- New Bern, NC to Grafton, MA in just under 15 hours.  We did it in one day.  He slept almost the whole time, except for the rare occasion he was hungry or fussy.  When we arrived at my sister-in-law Karen's house, he gifted me with 8 straight hours of sleep (8 hours for him, 6 of it I enjoyed).  I am so lucky to have yet another good little traveler!  Here's a video of him the next day, trying out a jumperoo for the first time, and laughing at one of his favorite people, Delaney:
He also had his first Thanksgiving.  He was a hit at his great-aunt Jayne's house, where he was passed around from one set of arms to another for four hours, while I had fun eating with both hands.  I'm so glad he doesn't mind being held by different people.
So thankful for this baby boy!
His sleep habits haven't changed much since last month.  For most of the month, he's been sleeping in 4-hour stretches at night, and the last few days he's been sleeping one 5 or 6-hour stretch.  He still does eat-activity-sleep throughout the day, but I kind of wish the intervals would lengthen a little.  He is awake and happy for only a very short time before he's ready for another nap.  If I'm out somewhere and can't put him down for a nap, that can be hard.  I'm looking forward to when he settles into a pattern of one morning nap, an afternoon nap around the time of the girls', and then maybe one late afternoon nap.  Then again, maybe I don't look forward to that because I don't know how well I can stick to it with two other kids and things to do.
His sisters give him lots of hugs and kisses.  In return, he drools on them and grabs their hair.  Annie still likes to count his toes and she comes up with a different number every time.  Delaney likes to say, "Hi Buddy!  Hiiiii!" over and over, and he grins and "talks" back.  They treat him like a living doll.  I wonder if they'll be as happy with him when he becomes mobile and starts going after their stuff.  Probably not, but it will be funny.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Annalise at 2 1/2

Annie is 2 1/2!  She's growing bigger, more articulate, and more opinionated all the time.  I love it when she says things like, "Don't be scared, Sissy.  There's no such thing as monsters."  She sounds like such a big kid when she's being so calm and rational.  Then the little monster comes out in her and I'm reminded that she's 2, whenever she snarls at one of us when we don't want to give her her way.  She tells me, "Bad Mama!  Go away!" for things like making her sit in her carseat and get buckled in.

We have had no more wheezing incidents since we checked out of the hospital.  Annie isn't taking any more prescriptions and I -- perhaps foolishly -- didn't even pack the inhaler before we left for Massachusetts two days ago.  I'm going to hope that her breathing troubles were a fluke.

For awhile, Annie was at least doing Number 2 on the potty on a regular basis.  But as of the last month or two, she wants almost nothing to do with the potty.  She'll sit on it every now and again when it suits her, but is perfectly content in diapers.  I'd just as soon she stayed in diapers at least another couple months anyway, with all of our traveling.  She knows how to go in the potty, and I think when she's ready, she'll just do it.  I did pack all her undies just in case seeing her almost-3-year-old cousin/doppelganger Natalie going potty, would inspire her.  But I'd rather she waited until after we've made the 15-hour drive back to North Carolina in January.  I don't know if we need one more variable for that trip on top of weather, traffic, and an infant.
During story times, Annie interrupts often to ask questions with very obvious answers.  Me:  "I clapped my baby brother's feet together to make him laugh."  Annie (loudly):  "Who's clapping his feet together?"  It's in the illustration.  She already knows, but she wants to hear me say it.  It doesn't matter that we've read the book together at least 20 times.  She asks the same questions on the same pages.  She also likes to point to every character on the page, and talk about what that person is doing.  I try to bear with her because I know that it's good for her developing mind, but sometimes I get a little annoyed at being interrupted.  I like the way the books flow without all the questions.

She is the worst little backseat driver ever.  "This is the way, Mama?"  "Why our not going, Mama?"  "Why our going slow?"  "Our going fast!"  It's funny, but sometimes it's a little unnerving to have a little voice right behind me wanting to know why I'm doing everything I'm doing.

She doesn't eat much besides Goldfish crackers, bread, and other starchy, processed foods.  She avoids anything that has nutritional value.  As a result, she might work on one bowel movement for two days.  I keep telling her, "If you'd eat something besides crackers, you'd have an easier time!
Eating the crackers and bread and avoiding Grandma's meaty lasagna.  I know, I should just not give them to her, but it's hard not to when I like to eat them too!
She still soothes herself when she's tired by moving her mouth as if she's nursing.  During our brief stay at the hospital, I was asked a few times, "What is that thing she does with her mouth?"  She did it the whole ambulance ride, I was told.  She's always done it, even before she weaned, whenever it was naptime or bedtime.  It's just her way of relaxing.  She does it while holding her Lovey, so the two things go hand-in-hand.  I think when one of them goes, the other will too.  She seems to be doing it more often the last few months, and I'm not sure why -- maybe because she sees her brother nursing, and a part of her remembers.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wherein Annie gives us a scare

I should be starting to prepare to leave this house, and this state, for two months this weekend, but here I sit wasting time.  I've done nothing but make a list of things to pack and things to do, but a list is a good start.  It just doesn't seem real that we are going to be loading up the car and leaving in just a few short days to stay in Massachusetts with Tim's family for the holidays.  At some point it's going to hit me and I'm going to start panicking, but for now I'm enjoying the little down time I have.

It's been a crazy couple days.  Our Annie, who all her life up to this point had only had well visits at the doctor, was hospitalized for a respiratory infection.  On Thursday she had a cough and runny nose that seemed very ordinary for this time of year, and I didn't think much of it.  But on Friday morning, when she came out of her room whimpering, wouldn't eat or drink, wouldn't say even a yes or a no to me, I knew something was wrong.  By late morning/early afternoon, I noticed she was working hard to breathe, and I could see her belly and chest moving a lot more than normal.  I put her down for a nap, and then checked on her a couple times.  She wasn't sleeping, just lying there, shifting around, and wheezing.  I called the nurse hotline, and when the nurse heard her breathing over the phone, she advised me to take her to the ER.  I didn't hesitate, especially since at this point she still had not had anything to eat or drink and it was 2 in the afternoon.

Annie didn't even react when I told her we were going to the hospital.  She just sat there and let me get her dressed.  Delaney, who had been bored all day long, was happy to know she was being dropped off at my friend Amy's house, and she'd be playing with all the kids there.  I dropped her off with nothing, thinking I'd be back to get her in a few hours.  I brought Timmy with us.  

Annie handled the ER trip mostly well, just sitting and allowing the nurses and doctors to do whatever they needed to do.  
Here is Annie getting the first of several nebulizer treatments she would get at the ER.   She didn't like that mask.  I didn't either, because it kept slipping, and the tube kept coming loose.  You would think they could make these things a little better!
The impossibly young and pretty ER doctor was sure Annie had RSV, and that was a little alarming.  I had only heard of preemie babies getting that, and I know it's dangerous and contagious.  She was given a chest x-ray, which showed she did not have pneumonia.  

Annie was the sweetest and most compliant little patient.  A man came in to put in an IV, and he knelt beside the bed and asked me, "What's her word for hurt?  'Hurt', 'owie'?"  I told him, "Owie."  He said, "Hi Annie, my name is Brian, and I'm going to put an owie in your arm right here."  Annie just stared at him.  "I'm going to give you an owie, and it's going to hurt."  Annie didn't react at all, just kept on staring, but I was starting to feel anxious.  "I need you to hold real still because I'm going to put a needle in your arm and make an owie, OK?"  In my head, I said, Well, stop talking about it already and do it!  This is torture!  I felt terrible for Annie, but tried not to show it.  I've had an IV before and it's not all that bad, but listening to that man go on was scaring the crap out of me.  I might have jumped out of that chair if he'd talked to me like that!

Then I commenced praying he found the vein the first time.

As soon as he put the needle in, Annie snapped out of her trance and started crying and writhing.  Two people had to hold her while he worked, and I couldn't do anything but stroke her head and tell her, "Mama's here, Annie." 
Annie watches a show while getting her IV meds
After that, Annie wanted nothing to do with anything in the hospital, or anybody in it.  Even the nebulizer treatments that she had accepted before, became a fight.  But eventually she relaxed.  The treatments seemed to be working too.  She coughed and coughed until we thought she might throw up, and the nurses and doctor were happy that all that junk was moving up out of her lungs.  When she collapsed, exhausted, on her belly, they found that to be reassuring, because it meant she must be having an easier time breathing.
The doctor thought she should be observed overnight, but didn't want to admit her there (in New Bern) because there was no in-house pediatrician.  So she wanted to transfer her to the one in Greenville.  I worried about how Annie would handle riding in the ambulance alone, but she was OK.  The EMT guys came in and introduced themselves, and were really sweet.  She didn't cry when I explained she'd ride in the ambulance by herself and I'd follow.  She said, "Then I can wave at you, Mama."  Sweet girl.

At the huge hospital in Greenville, we were given a room the size of a supply closet, with barely enough room for the hospital bed, the crib for Timmy, and my chair (that couldn't be pulled out because of the crib).  Poor Annie kept wanting to go to sleep, but different people kept coming in wanting this or that -- blood pressure, listening to her lungs, all that.  By now it was 10 at night, and she usually goes to bed at 7.  Two also impossibly young (or am I just getting to be that old?) residents talked with me for a long time, asking me all kinds of questions about Annie.  Mostly, they were probing for any kind of family history or risk factors that would lead to Annie's problems.  The only thing I could tell them was that Tim and his sister Karen had been hospitalized several times each as babies, for breathing problems.  They each asked at least once or twice if Annie had had an episode like this ever before.  They couldn't believe she'd always been so healthy, but it's the truth.  She's been sick before, but never like this.  Last year right after Christmas, she was sick, but we would have noticed wheezing or trouble breathing.

They were also having trouble making sense of how well she seemed to be doing by that time, after the report they'd gotten from the ER.  They kept examining her, and examining again, looking at her stats, and talking.  They'd given her the RSV test right away, and it was "pending negative", whatever that means.  She sounded just a little wheezy, but that was it.  They determined that she would probably go home in the morning if she continued to look improved and she was eating and drinking.

Annie finally went to sleep that night, and I dozed now and then, but between Timmy waking up every so often, and trying to sleep on the most uncomfortable chair I've ever been on, it was not a very restful night for me.  Annie was disturbed twice by the respiratory therapist coming in to give her albuterol treatments.
The next morning, Annie woke up thirsty and with an appetite, chatty as could be.  I was very happy to see that.  One of the residents I'd talked to the night before popped in for a minute, but didn't say much of anything, then left.  And then we were mostly left alone, except for the nurse who came in from time to time, and the respiratory therapist, who was now teaching us to use an inhaler.  I waited and waited for news of when we could leave, but none came.  

Then the attending doctor came in after Annie had gone back to sleep around 9:30 or 10, and he was obnoxious.  He kept nudging Annie with the stethoscope and talking to her even though he could see she was exhausted.  He wanted to hear her lungs, but couldn't he turn her over gently and do it while she was asleep?  Nooo.  It was, "Hi Annie.  Whatcha got there?  Is it a mouse?  No, a bear, dummy!  I'm going to listen to you now.  Oh hey, you woke up!  How're you doing?"  I think some people must go into pediatrics to torment kids.  He must be pretty good at what he does, though, because the family lounge is named after him. Or maybe he's just really rich.  Or both.

He wanted to keep her a while longer, based on what had happened last night at the ER.  Even though she was doing well now, she was doing pretty badly not long ago.  He said, "I find it odd that there was never any history of this happening before.."  I didn't really follow, because there's a first time for everything, right?  He seemed to be waiting for me to go, "Oh yeah, I remember this one time," but nope.  He said he would re-evaluate her at 6 that evening, and he thought it would be 50/50 whether she could leave that day or stay another night.  He said he was ordering another chest x-ray since the one from last night had not made the transfer, and he'd let me know the result.

The next several hours passed so slowly.  Annie and I both felt caged.  And Timmy was miserable.  Trying to take care of both of their needs in that tiny, unfamiliar place, was fraying my nerves.  Timmy would need to be held constantly, and then he would finally crash for maybe 20 minutes to a half hour.  He didn't want to nurse.  Annie was by turns playful and happy, and very moody and sad, saying, "I want to go home, Mama!"  I tried taking her on little walks around the pediatric floor, but the whole area was tiny, and we kept walking in little circles.  There were crying kids all around, things beeping loudly, and the walls kept closing in.  I talked to Tim a couple times on the phone, and I missed him so badly.

The attending doctor, who was at first inclined to keep Annie another night just as a precaution, eventually decided to discharge her when he couldn't find sufficient need to keep her, and I was making a nuisance of myself trying to get us out of there.  I didn't think he'd let her go that night.  After I had nearly come unglued, and Karen had talked some sense into me on the phone, I was calmed down enough to accept that we would be here another night.  Then at 4:30 he came in with his little entourage of residents, and started looking at her and talking.  They said, "Annie, you've got to let us look at you if you want to come home."  I bristled at that, thinking, please don't entice her with the possibility of going home unless you know you're sending her home!  They listened and started talking all sorts of stuff like "I to E ratios, and blah blah," and how "I wouldn't let her go if this, but that.."  And then they checked her pulse ox, and it was 99, and they liked that. We were going home!  I had to contain my relief, but it probably showed because I don't have a poker face.  

I'm not good at dealing with being in the hospital.  My plan for dealing with hospitals and doctors is to just not get sick, and not have any of my kids get sick.  That plan seemed to be working for a long time, but of course it can't always.

I expected the discharge process to take hours, because I remember it did after I had Delaney and Annalise.  But they got us out of there so fast I had to remind the nurse to take out her hep lock!

The respiratory therapist taught me how to administer the albuterol inhaler, and I have to give her that four times a day.  She also has prescriptions for an antibiotic and prednisolone.  I was instructed to bring her to her pediatrician tomorrow, and I'll be calling to make the appointment first thing, so hopefully I can get her there right from dropping Delaney off at preschool.  I checked on her a couple times throughout the night, and she sounded good, just a little junky.  

At CVS today, the pharmacist looked at my kids, from one happy face to another, and said, "Which one of these kids is sick?" 
All better!
Annie kept a few souvenirs from the hospital.  She insists I leave all her "stickers" on her back, and you can see the one on her chest, poking out of the top of her nightgown.  The band-aid is somehow still hanging on from when the hep lock was removed, although it's migrated up a little.  And her ankle bracelet is still on too.  I'm not allowed to touch any of these things, but I did warn her at bathtime that the skin under the stickers will become moldy and stinky eventually.

I am praying now we can all hang in there and stay healthy for just another few days, so we can get through the things that need to be done this week, and the long trip to Massachusetts.  After we get there, I know someone's going to get sick again, and I'm prepared with a whole pharmacopoeia of cold and flu prevention and remedies that I picked up today at CVS.  Please, can we wait until we get there..

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Excerpt from tonight's letter to Tim

Oh lord, what a rough night.  I am exhausted and will be going to bed early.  Too tired to work out.  Too tired to drink a beer.  But not too tired to tell you all about it.

The whole afternoon was a blur for me, just trying to drink coffee and start to think about getting ready to take us all out.  Timmy was sleeping, waking and eating in short intervals, and I didn't feel like I had any time to just sit and collect myself.  It was a 2 cups of coffee afternoon.  That is very rare.  I usually get by with either a nap or one cup of coffee.  I talked with my mom for a little while after the girls went down for nap.  She called.  She wants to get us a Kindle for Christmas!  She brought it up.  I said, "How funny, we've been talking about a Kindle lately!"  I told her about Amazon's library, blah blah.  So we're getting that and we're getting some fancy chopping tool that she'd also bought for Faith, and Faith loves it.  Good enough for me.

I managed to take a shower, and that was good.  When my hair was getting to be almost dry, I tried these foam rod rollers in my hair to give them loose waves (impulse buy from Target -- bad, bad.  But I'd read on one of my blogs that they worked really well.).  I left them in for a while, and when I took them out, my hair was curled in some places, crimped in others, and ugly all over.  So I ended up braiding it.  I also put them in Annie's hair, and they didn't do much for her either, although she looked really cute with curlers in and I took a picture.  I'm going to try again with those rollers, this time with my hair dry and the ends of my hair sticking completely out, nowhere near the curlers.

The girls were up by 2:45, and excited about going to Play Date.  We started our process early because it takes forever.  I lost track of what times Timmy was eating, he ate so often, and only slept for what felt like 5 minutes, but probably was more like a half hour.  That after I held and shushed and kissed and coaxed him for several minutes to lay down.  He was having an off day, I guess.  He was not well rested and I knew it, but I was so looking forward to dinner with Aimee!

At a little after 5, we met Aimee at Play Date and she, Timmy and I were off to Captain Ratty's.  I couldn't wait to have that pasta dinner, I'd been hungry all day for a nice big meal.  I had had the last of my casserole leftovers at 3 as a snack, so I wouldn't be completely starved when I got there.  That turned out to be a good idea.

Timmy didn't stay in his car seat long.  I knew he wouldn't.  I sat him on my lap and just hoped we'd make it before he got too bad.  I ate all my salad, but he was getting super squirmy by the time my hearts of artichoke pasta arrived.  Aimee held him for me for a little bit, but when he started turning his head and looking aggravated, I thought he might like to nurse.  So I tried, and he only cried.  Oh dear.  So then I just kept shifting him around, trying to at least keep him still while I ate.  Finally I stood up with him and bounced.  Aimee took him from me when she was finished with her dinner, and tried walking around with him.  I ate as fast as I could, but that spaghetti was slippery and hard to get on the fork.  He cried for a couple minutes, and then got quiet and I felt relief.  But it didn't last long, and when his wails started up again from the other room, I smiled at the waitress and said, "Perhaps I'll take the check now."  

She got me a box for my food and I said, "I will enjoy this after I get the kids to bed."  She was really nice.  From the sympathetic smiles they gave me, I could tell the waitresses probably had kids of their own and they understood, and didn't think I was starving or neglecting him to make him cry that way.

I tried to feed him in the car, but he didn't seem hungry.  As we drove away, he quieted down, and I said, "I was hoping the girls would be able to stay at Play Date for a couple hours.  They like it so much there."  We decided to just take a little drive, let Timmy get settled down, and then go get the girls.  I drove all the way down to the Havelock Walmart and turned around,  went through the Taberna Dunkin Donuts drive-thru, and back to Play Date.  We got to have conversation in the car that we couldn't have at the restaurant.  By the time we got the girls it was close to 7, which was in keeping with my plan to keep them up until 8 tonight because of the clock change.  

At home, I nursed Timmy and put him to bed.  I nuked my artichoke pasta.  But before I could even take one bite, Annie started demanding a snack.  I said she could have an apple but I wasn't cutting it up.  I was hungry and wanted to eat my food, and I know they fed you there, I paid for you to eat there..  She demanded I cut it up, and threw it across the table where it fell and landed on the floor.  Then she completely melted down.  So I had to put her in her room until she calmed down. 

Then I put my meal back in the microwave, wondering if I was ever going to get to finish it.  Then Delaney started wanting something to eat, then wanting something to drink.  I got her a slice of cheese, all the while saying, "It is obvious to me that neither of you ate your dinner there," and going on and on about how I paid for their dinner at Play Date, they need to be eating it, and I'm hungry, and I want to eat my dinner.  I split a bag of trail mix between them and ended up eating what they left behind.

I'm still hungry two hours later, even though I finished the pasta -- eventually -- and ate another bag of trail mix.

As it got closer to 8, I said it was time to get in pajamas, brush teeth and go to bed.  But Delaney had to poo, and it was one of those times where she sits there for at least 15 minutes, and complains that Annie won't leave her alone.  So, partly to distract Annie and partly to help move Delaney along, I suggested maybe a story would help.  Annie got one and I sat out in the hall and read it.  One didn't do it.  Two didn't do it.  Finally Delaney was either done, or just done for tonight, and we went to their room for bedtime.

I've never seen the two of them go to pieces the way they were.  Delaney cried because Annie didn't want to wear her cute, cozy footed PJs that looked like hers.  Annie cried because, "I want to cry, not Delaney!"  (She owns crying now.)  Then Annie cried because I was going to let Delaney pick one story since Annie had picked the bathroom stories.  And finally I said, "That's enough, no stories, you two need to go to sleep!"  And I closed the door on both of them crying.  Delaney opened the door a couple times to beg for another story, but I knew she'd crash within minutes, and she did.

So that was my disaster of a night.  I'm going to turn back the clocks and go to bed here in a few minutes.  

I'm also going to post this story on my blog because I know one day I will want to look back and laugh.