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April 16, 2019 2:15 pm

Allergies

A couple of months ago, Thora had an eczema flare-up that I felt like I couldn’t get rid of. Most of her flare-ups make her legs patchy and red for a few weeks and then it goes away. This one wasn’t going away, so we took her to her doctor and got some recommendations, but I also brought up possibly doing allergy testing.

She had a bad reaction to a kiwi last fall (vomiting, red mouth/chin, a hive next to her mouth) that we treated at home with Benadryl, but it did freak me out because she’d had kiwis before with no visible ill effects. Given the kiwi incident and the current eczema problem, I asked if it would make sense to do the allergy test. Her doctor agreed, and we made an appointment for a blood draw.

IgE Test

Thora handled the blood draw like a champ – I don’t even think she blinked when the needle went in. A few days later, I went to meet with her doctor to get the results.

They were devastating.

The test was an Immunoglobulin E (IgE) test that looks at 22 common foods, and she showed reactions to over half of them:

Allergy panel results showing multiple food allergies

Clam, Corn, Garlic, Pea, Mustard, Orange, Peanut, Potato, Rice, Shrimp, Tomato, Walnut, Wheat, and Soy

Additionally, her IgE number, which according to the paper should be between 0 and 60? It was 1131.

Her doctor (Dr. M) was incredibly sympathetic and advised us to eliminate the foods she showed responses to from her diet and to feed her the “safe” items on the list. That said, she acknowledged it was incredibly restrictive and difficult and said that while she could counsel us on what to feed Thora, she would have to Google it first. I asked for referrals for people who would know, and we agreed on sending us to a local allergy clinic and a nutritionist.

Dr. M let me know that the lab still had a bit of Thora’s blood left on which we could run additional tests. We agreed to test for coconuts and almonds because if she can’t have wheat, potato, or rice, those are the alternative flours she could potentially have. Plus, she drinks almond milk nearly every day since we already avoid dairy for her.

(Weirdly, her IgE test showed she was not allergic to dairy, so it’s definitely a sensitivity versus a true allergy.)

Dr. M’s office called me back later that day to tell me she tested positive to coconuts and almonds as well. By that point I had used up all my devastation and panic and I limply agreed to avoid those as well and hung up.

Allergy Clinic

It took two weeks to get in to the allergy clinic, during which we fed Thora an incredibly limited diet of meats, vegetables, and fruits, and cooked everything from scratch. We had a really hard time finding any prepared foods that would be safe for her given the sheer number of foods to avoid.

I wasn’t sure what the visit to the allergy clinic would entail, and the doctor we got was… not my favorite.

She seemed unclear why we were even there, and kept interrupting and talking over me when I tried to explain. She was incredibly dismissive about our concerns, declared Thora’s eczema as “not that bad” without doing an examination on her or even looking at her legs which are always the worst, vehemently disagreed with our decision to meet with a nutritionist (“No, no, no. That’s… Ugh. You don’t need that.”) and dropped her arms down and her head back in annoyance when we mentioned the phrase “gut health” within the context of Thora’s high IgE number. She also seemed to not believe that Thora could have a sensitivity to dairy even though she didn’t test as allergic and sternly told us that strictly avoiding foods was how you make allergies worse. It really felt like she thought we were enormous idiots for eliminating the foods she tested positive to on the IgE test.

The allergist also had zero concerns about Thora’s high IgE number and told us we could give her some Zyrtec if she’s itchy but otherwise feed her whatever we want.

However, she did agree to do the skin prick test to confirm/deny her allergies to many of the foods on the initial list, plus dust mites, cats, and dogs.

Thora showed as allergic to LITERALLY ZERO of the items.

Skin prick test showing no allergies
Not allergic to corn, egg whites, egg yolks, milk, peanuts, soy, tomato, wheat, almond, hazelnuts, walnuts, potatoes, or bananas according to the skin prick test.

It’s hard to describe how completely bewildering this was. It seemed to validate the allergy clinic doctor’s (perceived) opinion that we were bananas for even showing up there, and completely invalidated Dr. M’s advice to avoid those foods.

The allergist’s parting words were basically “forget the blood test, feed her all the foods.” The only thing she did seem concerned about was Thora’s reaction to the kiwi last fall, and she wanted to bring us back in at the end of summer to do a skin prick test for kiwis in addition to an Oral Food Challenge where they feed the kid the food they’re supposedly allergic to and see what happens. That way, we know for sure that she’s allergic before she starts school and we can make sure she has an EpiPen in case she needs it.

We left that appointment even more confused than when we went in. I was obviously incredibly relieved that she didn’t seem to have a skin reaction to any of the foods the blood test said she was “allergic” to, but… why the disparity? Is she allergic or is she not?

Nutritionist

Meeting with the nutritionist was so helpful. She laid out the science behind the different kinds of allergy tests and the antibodies the tests are looking for. She also described the concept of “leaky gut” and how that can relate to allergies and Thora’s high IgE number.

Her take was that the IgE test results are (more or less) a symptom of a larger gut health problem for Thora. If her guts were healthy and not-leaky, those IgE antibodies wouldn’t be able to enter her bloodstream to create that high number. Because her guts and intestinal flora have been damaged somehow (possibly through antibiotic use?), they’re spilling this stuff into her bloodstream which is causing the eczema and the alarming IgE test. This also helps explain why her skin prick test showed negative to all these items – she has antibodies for them in her bloodstream, but they haven’t risen to the level that they cause an obvious histamine reaction on her skin.

We made a plan that includes gut-friendly foods like bone broth, good meats, and organic fruits and vegetables, and does not include GMOs, corn, dairy, or wheat. It feels hard but do-able, unlike her initial elimination diet! We are also adding in probiotics, vitamins A, D, E, and K, and I think some digestive enzymes though we haven’t received those yet. She said we should see results within about a month – kids’ tissues heal quickly so she’d be surprised if it took longer than that.

I felt so much better after meeting with the nutritionist! I am still somewhat irritated that Thora’s doctor treated the IgE test like it was gospel without explaining more of the science behind it.

For instance, there was no indication to me that those test results could change in the future OR that simply because she has antibodies, it doesn’t mean we have to, like, clear the house of those things. I was already envisioning changing Thora’s shampoo and conditioner and our bathroom cleaner because they’re formulated with coconuts, and not letting her play with Play-Doh because it contains wheat. Those things are still fine for her, but that was definitely not clear to me from that initial meeting.

It also helped explain several things, like why she had never had an ear infection until about the last 18 months, and why she got a UTI right before her fourth birthday, and why she always seems to have a cold. Her body’s immune system is so preoccupied with this leaky gut issue and creating antibodies that it probably doesn’t have anything left to fight off basic infections.

I am also incredibly irritated at the allergist and her dismissive attitude. Even if she felt we didn’t need to be there, EXPLAIN WHY and don’t make us feel stupid for being worried about an alarming test result and trying our best to help our daughter.

We are still in the thick of things and haven’t started the enzymes or the probiotics yet (they have yet to arrive in the mail!) but I’m glad we have a plan going forward! Here’s hoping it helps her eczema and her overall health.

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October 2, 2014 5:31 pm

Struggles Update

[Note: This was written over the course of various days throughout September. Ignore the “todays” and “yesterdays” etc. as best you can because they’re irrelevant but I can’t be bothered to change them. Sorry, and thank you.]

——

We finally had a good day! Wesley woke up cheerful one morning and wasn’t aggressive toward Thora or rude to me, and he kept it up until bedtime. He thought about having some meltdowns at various points during the day, but he was able to talk through them instead and seemed really committed to being nice. He worked hard to do it and I was really proud of him.

I NEEDED that day, badly.

——

Then last night, Wesley got really upset because Daniel had shared some coconut water with him but there was none left to have seconds. I kept trying to talk him down, but he laid on the floor and kicked some giveaway boxes, and then pulled a huge stack of meticulously folded blankets off a chair and grabbed the corners of each one to shake and unfold them, and then he threw them all around the living room. After there were no more blankets to mess up, he moved to the coffee table and used his whole arm to sweep everything on it onto the floor. I figured he needed to get the destructiveness out of his system so I just let him go for it.

I was talking to him the entire time and he just kept saying he was mad about the coconut water. Then he said he wanted chocolate soy milk, knowing full-well that we didn’t have any in the house, so he got worked up over that too like it was some giant conspiracy against him and what he wanted to drink. Finally, I got him to admit he would like regular milk and some water.

Again, I was talking through this whole fit (“You’re really upset there’s no more coconut water! You’re so mad you’re throwing blankets!” etc.) and ended up talking a bit about problem solving. I indicated the blanket mess in the living room. He brightened up and his whole demeanor completely changed. “Mommy! I know how to help! I will fold some blankets and you can fold some and we can work together to solve the blanket problem!”

So we did.

The rest of the evening wasn’t perfect by any means, but he did fix the blanket mess he created and was happy to do so. I felt like once he understood that I sympathized with him and what he wanted, he was able to see how he could help fix the mess he created.

——

Today, he got up grouchy again. I can usually tell what kind of day it’ll be based on how he reacts to me nursing Thora in the mornings. He’s often very annoyed by it, and responds by getting in her face and making loud noises, pinching (usually ears or cheeks), bending her free arm the wrong way, or snuffling at her feet. This morning he did all those things while I tried to talk to him about what he was feeling.

The best I got out of him was that he doesn’t like it when I nurse her because he wanted to go to a park. (?)

I finally got us all ready to go and we went to the Farmer’s Market, where he had a meltdown over cheesy popcorn. Then at Daniel’s work, I had Thora in the carrier and was talking to one of Daniel’s bosses, when Wesley was apparently annoyed I wasn’t paying attention to him so he jumped up and slapped Thora upside the head/face and she started screaming.

*large sigh*

It’s difficult for me to judge whether or not this is all within the realm of normal. I’ve never heard anybody talk about their four-year-old behaving this way, but I kind of figure they’re probably too damned embarrassed to admit it. I know I’m embarrassed. Parenting is unfortunately one of those life skills that’s constantly on display and constantly under scrutiny. I mean, really, what’s the best way to respond when a kid slaps an infant in the face because his mother was having a brief conversation? It’s not like there’s one right answer, though there are many wrong ones.

——

I hate to admit it, but it’s a little gratifying when he completely loses his shit like this when Daniel’s around. Partly because I feel like it usually sounds like I’m exaggerating when I try to describe my days, and partly because I can see how quickly it tests Daniel’s patience and then I get to feel like a martyr for having to manage it EVERY DAMNED DAY by myself.

——

As I’m posting this now at the beginning of October, some things have improved and other things have gotten worse. He’s less violent, which is a huge relief. There have been several occasions where he resorts to punching or scratching as a first response, but he’s getting a bit better at just glaring horribly at us instead. I’ll take it.

He’s gotten more rude verbally though – everything is “peenie pee poop butt penis” and he says things like “excuse my FARRRRTS” when he burps which turns a perfectly polite response into something gross. He called Daniel a penis head the other day and BY SOME MIRACLE I did not laugh out loud but ugh it’s exhausting. I tried making a “bathroom words stay in the bathroom” rule, so if he wants to call someone a “peenie-weiner” he can, but he has to be in the bathroom. It sounded brilliant – I read it online somewhere, ages ago, and stored it in the recesses of my brain for exactly this moment – but it totally does not work. He just shouts “NO!” and runs away or he calls you a rude name. Or just quietly says “poop” at you to let you know he will not be controlled.

It’s the defiance and the mansplaining that really wear me down day after day. He clearly thinks I have a brain the size of a walnut and has no qualms about (incorrectly) explaining familiar concepts to me. “Mommy, Thora is crying. You have to go get her and change her diaper.” “Mommy, you are doing the laundry wrong.” “Mommy, that’s not how you make eggs. YOU’RE DOIN’ IT WRONG!” Ad infinitum.

He’s still iffy about Thora needing to nurse or take a nap. I think it’s because he knows if she’s already napping we can’t leave the house. He makes up all these plans in his head about his daily activities and then gets SUPER PISSED when I don’t do them, except A) it was something he made up, and B) sometimes he totally fails to even tell me about them. So I’ll start transferring her into her co-sleeper and he’ll start having this full-body screaming fit about going to a park, when this is the first I’ve heard of it.

Writing that out, maybe we need to actually make plans every day? Before we get up in the morning? That sounds exhausting, but maybe it’d alleviate some of the “but I wanted to do THIS today” fits.

He does go to preschool 2x/week now, which I love. Mondays he only goes for 2hrs and normally he’d do that on Wednesday too, but it only costs me $15 to leave him there for the whole day (it’s at his daycare) so I happy throw fistfuls of money at the daycare provider to have a day to myself once a week.

Anyway. Things are sort of better but “less horrible” is still sort of horrible, so there you go.

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August 9, 2014 2:52 pm

Struggles

Those of you who follow me on Twitter have probably noticed a theme to my updates recently, and that theme is Wesley’s behavior and my inability to understand what’s going on in his head. Just today I had to drag him, screaming, out of the coffeeshop Daniel works at, and once we were at the car he clawed Thora’s head hard enough to leave marks and then at some point in the car on the way home, he dug his fingernails into her fat little arm hard enough to make her bleed.

I tried to get him to eat his lunch – he threw his shoes on the kitchen table instead – and when he refused to eat, I carried him (kicking and screaming) to his room for naptime. Once we were in his room, he grabbed a ukulele and swung it from behind his back, over his head, to throw it across the room.

I sobbed on Wesley’s floor for a good fifteen minutes after that.

——

There are many points during any given day where I feel like I’m raising a tiny sociopath. I love him to bits, but I see now why my mother-in-law calls this age the “fucking fours.”

He loves Thora, but he always wants to be RIGHTINHERFACE and he frequently scares her by running up behind her, jumping, and landing next to her while making a loud noise. He hoots and shouts in her face. I cannot count the number of times I say “back up, please!” or “please don’t shout at her face” in a given day. Far too many. And he ignores me every single time.

I’m afraid to take him anywhere in public. Anything I say could set him off and he’ll be throwing himself on the ground, kicking, and scream-crying at the top of his lungs. It can be anything from “Please don’t poke me with that stick” to “We’ll need to leave in five minutes.” He’s completely unpredictable and I walk on eggshells around him, even in our own home. I hid in the kitchen yesterday to put away a puzzle so that he wouldn’t see me, because I was afraid he would come unhinged if he noticed me.

——

I finally broke down and bought a parenting book for the first time in yearsPeaceful Parent Happy Kids. I saw it recommended twice within three days and it seemed like it would address a lot of the issues we’ve been having.

Reading through it, it seems so obvious – the tantrum that’s happening is actually about something else: their “emotional backpack” is full to overflowing, and you need to empathize with them to help them get all their feelings out before they can start acting rational again. It’s all about empathy. This is the easiest thing to do – “Oh buddy, I’m sorry we’re not able to get kettle corn today. I see you’re very disappointed. Now you’re crying. You’re very sad we can’t get kettle corn today.” but it feels SO WRONG and SO HARD and SO STUPID when you’re in the moment. SO UNBELIEVABLY SCHMOOPY AND STUPID. It’s very simple and yet so hard to actually put into practice because FFS, you just threw your shoe at me, I AM NOT GIVING YOU KETTLE CORN.

When trying out the techniques in the book, I find that they sometimes work short-term, but the jury is still out on whether they work long-term. Like, it seems to help him stop crying or throwing a fit in the moment – certainly much better than other methods – but it totally has not reduced the frequency of the tantrums. Yet, I guess – I will persist.

——

Clearly, Wesley is hurting. A lot. And I feel terrible about that. My plan of action right now is as follows:

1. Keep up the empathizing as outlined in the book.
This does seem to help.

2. Give in to his “regressive” requests more often.
Lately, he’s been wanting me to put his shirt on for him or scoop his breakfast yogurt or be his “bathroom buddy” – all things he’s been doing by himself for YEARS at this point. I give in sometimes, but sometimes I really need him to just put the damn shirt on already. I will try to make a point of giving in more often to show that it’s still okay to ask Mommy for help even if you don’t truly need it.

3. Get some one-on-one time with him.
This will be hard for me. He doesn’t listen to anything I say and routinely hurts me (kicking, pinching, etc.) and as a result, I’m finding myself not really wanting to hang out with him. Plus it’s hard to do with a baby sister who needs her mama every two hours to eat. But! I will do my best. This is also a technique in the book.

4. Continue praising good behavior.
I’ve always made a point to “catch” him being good and praise him for it. “You were using a very gentle voice with Thora! Thanks!” or “Thanks for using your manners so well at the store. You stayed right by me and were walking instead of running, and you asked before putting things in the cart.” I will definitely continue this, as I think it helps reinforce – for BOTH of us – that yes, he is a good kid at heart.

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January 23, 2014 5:08 pm

Dressing A Girl

Since finding out that Baby #2 is a girl, I’ve started browsing for clothes online and I’m realizing I apparently don’t fall into the marketing niche all manufacturers think I’ve fallen into.

I’ve been pinning stuff on Pinterest that I like and it’s all neutrals or navy blue and maroon or gray and teal and yellow. And it’s adorable! Way cuter than the “Mommy’s Little Cupcake” stuff. Why is it so hard to find clothes that don’t say dumb things on them? Or onesie packs that come in colors other than pink and hot pink? I like pink just fine, but good grief.

I get the feeling I’ll be reusing more of Wesley’s wardrobe than I initially thought! A girl needs some blue and green in her life.

This is not a unique dilemma, I know. And I had a similar one when we found out Wesley was a boy – little boy stuff is all SPORTS TIME and DADDY’S CONSTRUCTION BUDDY and I LOVE TRUCKS.

Where are the relatively inexpensive clothes in simple dots and stripes in a multitude of colors? Or florals. I think I basically want to dress my kid like Posie Gets Cozy dresses her daughter.

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November 13, 2013 10:00 pm

Bath Night Policy

I can’t remember if I’ve written about our household bath night policy or not, so if I have, please forgive me.

Daniel and I trade off whose night it is to give Wesley a bath and put him to bed. If it is your bath night, you can elect to skip the bath and simply put him in his jammies, brush his teeth, and tuck him into bed. However, it remains your bath night until you actually give him a bath.

So in theory, you could elect to just do jammies four nights in a row if you want, but you’re stuck with bedtime for that long. Boo! So it behooves you to actually bathe him in a timely fashion.

I tend to skip the bath on my first night “on” and do it the second night. Sometimes third. The absolute WORST is when Daniel gives him a bath the very next day so I only get one night off. Blergh!

It’s no secret that I dislike bath nights. They just take so long and everything is annoying and by the end I am so grumpy and exhausted I just want to go to bed myself.

Plus, there’s the bedtime snack issue. Unless you spend about an hour coaxing Wesley to finish a bunch of snacks, he will allow himself to be put to bed and the he’ll start sobbing that he’s SO HUUUUUUNGRY and he won’t go to sleep until he’s eaten.

It is beyond frustrating.

All this to say that today Daniel offered to trade me dish duty for picking up some extra bath nights and YESSSSS BY ALL MEANS. I don’t like doing dishes but they are not nearly as arduous as a bath night.

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November 6, 2013 8:55 pm

Helper

Wesley has been uncharacteristically cheery and helpful over the past few days. (Knock on wood.) As in, instead of dramatically throwing himself to the floor and whining if you ask him to pick up his jacket, he’ll brightly say, “Sure!” and do what you’ve asked.

It’s fantastic and I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it IS sort of making me wonder when it will inevitably end. (Please not anytime soon.)

Tonight, it was my turn for Wesley’s bedtime routine and we were joking with him that I was tired and that he should put me to bed instead. He happily brushed my teeth (skipping only… all of my upper teeth) and tucked me into bed.

In exchange for his delightful mood, I have been much more likely to sit and do art projects or science experiments with him. I should probably be doing those things anyway, but it’s so much less stressful when you’re not wondering when he’s going to angrily swipe the tub of glitter onto the floor because you looked at him wrong.

Anyway, I am sure this is a phase, as are all things with children, but it’s been a great few days regardless.

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April 20, 2013 1:30 pm

Binkyless Bedtime

Before he turned three, we started prepping Wesley for giving up his pacifier. He only got it at naptime and bedtime anyway, but it wasn’t good for his teeth, he had started becoming very obsessed with it, and truthfully, three-year-olds don’t need binkies.

On his birthday, he had his very first dentist appointment.

First dentist appointment! Happy birthday, little dude. Have some clean teeth!

He did great! Didn’t cry at all, and let the dentist and the hygienist do everything they needed to. Then the dentist asked about thumb-sucking or pacifier use and I saw Wesley’s eyes get big. I said that he did use a binky at nighttime but we’re working on the idea that now that he’s three, he doesn’t need to use one anymore.

Daniel was able to put him down for a nap without one that day, and he hasn’t had one since! He likes to say “when I was two, I used binkies but now that I am three I don’t use binkies anymore.”

We’re very proud of him.

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April 19, 2013 12:52 pm

Extended Rear-Facing

Wesley is now past three years old and is still rear-facing in our car. Here’s what extended rear-facing looks like in our family:

Extended Rear-Facing

As you can see, he seems to prefer resting his feet on the back of the seat with his legs straight out, rather than crossing them on his lap. He’s never even mentioned leg room, much less complained about it.

Why do we ERF?

A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing. (source)

SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT. If it were, say, six percent, I could see more of an argument to turn the kid around since it wouldn’t make too much difference. But SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT less likely to die or be severely injured? I’m sticking with ERF.

Additionally:

In Sweden, it is standard practice to keep their children rear-facing up to the age of 5, or as much as 55 lbs. From 1992 through June 1997, only 9 children properly restrained rear-facing died in motor vehicle crashes in Sweden, and all of these involved catastrophic crashes with severe intrusion and few other survivors. (source)

While we’re on the topic…

The chest clip should be even with your kid’s armpits.
I see a LOT of photos of kids in carseats where the buckle is at their bellybutton – it should be even with their armpits.

From a Britax FB post:
britax-chest-clip

It looks kind of high, I know, but that’s where it’s supposed to be to keep your kid safe.

Make sure the straps are tight.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that 59% of child harnesses are not tight enough. That’s over half – there are a lot of potentially unsafe kidlets out there! You shouldn’t be able to pinch any slack in the straps.

NHTSA states that, “a snug strap should not allow any slack. It lies in a relatively straight line without sagging. It does not press on the child’s flesh or push the child’s body into an un-natural position.”

Don’t put a giant snowsuit on your kid and then put them in a carseat.
This one is especially pertinent given that we live in North Idaho. Big, fluffy snowsuits or jackets are great for keeping your kid warm, but they’re not so great for carseat safety, since the fluffiness will compress in the event of an impact and what seemed like snug carseat straps will not actually be very snug once the fluffiness is compressed.

Kids should be dressed warmly but in thin layers, and then have a blanket (or their coat) placed on top of them once they’re safely buckled in.

More Info

This concludes my Public Service Announcement for the day, but you might want to check out The Picture Guide to Carseat Safety over at The Daily Momtra – it has great images that help illustrate what’s safe and what isn’t.

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September 26, 2012 10:03 pm

The opposite of escapee

BECAUSE TODDLERS ARE INSANE, as soon as Daniel returned home I have not had a single frustrating moment with regard to Wesley’s bedtime.

Okay, okay, so I didn’t love discovering him climbing onto the back of my head at 4:45am this morning, and I don’t love that he’s been getting up roughly two hours earlier than usual, but HE STAYS IN HIS BED when you put him there which is a big win in my book.

Daniel got home Sunday night and we put Wesley in his bed, and I fully expected the whole up-down-up-down three-ring-circus, and he just… stayed there. And then fell asleep. I was nearly mad that he didn’t get up because he was making me look like a total nutjob for having such a hard time this weekend.

I read this Free Pass post on Ask Moxie recently (the best parenting website ever, BTW) and it was just what I needed. Nearly every annoying thing kids do is merely a phase, but when you’re in the thick of it it’s difficult to envision things getting better. They always do, but if you feel you’ve done a poor job managing the situation it’s nice to be reminded that you can do better tomorrow.

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September 22, 2012 1:05 pm

Escapee

The other day, Wesley finally figured out how to escape from his crib. Of course, he discovered this new trick right before Daniel was about to leave on a business trip for four days. The following is a timeline of my experiences over the last few days.

Context:

https://twitter.com/meggan/status/172790680240930816

Day 1, Naptime:

I put Wesley into his crib. Wesley escapes. Repeat x7. I become more and more furious with each escape, and Wesley becomes more and more amused as fury levels rise. After roughly the twelfth attempt, complete with threatening to take his Binky away, he stays in his crib and naps. I resolve to not outwardly show emotion when he escapes.

Day 1, Bedtime:

I take a deep breath and start bedtime at 8pm. An hour and a half later, I am still attempting to keep him in his crib. Finally, after telling him if he got out again I would take his Binky away, he gets out. I take the Binky and put him back in his crib. He starts crying, and decides to get out of his crib, AGAIN. He army crawls down the hallway, crying (not hysterically though, I want to be clear – just normal semi-whiny crying). He gets almost to the end of he hallway, coughs, and then throws up all over himself and the floor.

I almost have an aneurysm.

I change his jammies and we re-brush his teeth, and put him back in bed, where he finally goes to sleep. It is now 9:40pm.

Day 2, Naptime

Wesley wakes up at 7:45am. (Normal wakeup is around 9am.) We spend two hours at the park, hoping that will wear him out enough that he will fall asleep easily. He yawns on the way home, eats a gigantic lunch, and then it still takes me 8-10 tries to get him to stay in his crib.

He then wakes after roughly 40 minutes. (A normal nap for him is about two hours.) I put him back in his crib a few times and he finally falls asleep again for a while.

Day 2, Bedtime

We spend the evening at Grammie and Grandpa’s house and pick up the toddler crib rail while we’re at it. We have lots of talks about when Mommy puts you in your crib, you… “Stay in!” He falls asleep in the car on the way home from Grammie and Grandpa’s so I am hopeful he will be drowsy and go right to sleep. No such luck, but escapes are at a minimum.

Day 3 (today), Naptime

Wesley wakes up at 6:55am. I install the crib rail and lower the mattress and have more talks about staying in bed when it is time for sleeping. We plan to go to the Farmers’ Market with my SIL and her nanny kids, but they had a whacked-out morning and weren’t able to make it by the time Wesley would be getting sleepy.

After several attempts to get him to stay in his bed, I notice he has gotten awfully quiet. A quick peek into his room reveals that he is laying on his back on the floor in front of his closet and has fallen asleep there.

He sleeps for thirty minutes.

……

That about brings us up to date. He is still not napping. I am supposed to attend a wedding this afternoon. Solo now, because Daniel is unexpectedly out of town, but with Wesley, who has been up since before seven and has slept for a grand total of thirty minutes all day.

Daniel won’t be back until late, late tomorrow night and then he has to work the next day which would normally be his day off. My SIL is going to watch Wesley while I’m at work, but because she is nannying that day, I have to drive Wesley up to the nanny kids’ house (which is 15-20 minutes out of my way) to drop him off and then still make it back to work before 8am.

In case it is not abundantly clear, I need some moral support. THIS IS THE PITS. Truly. Solo-parenting plus toddler bed transition equals HORRIBLE. Why anybody would choose to transition their kid to a toddler bed I have no idea, because it is the suckiest thing I have experienced in a long while.

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January 16, 2012 11:34 am

Extraction

This showed up in my feed reader today and I felt compelled to respond:

Can I tell you how sorry I feel for the child born of a mother who says she didn’t give birth to the kid? That s/he was “an extraction,” like an infected tooth or a cancerous mole? What is that going to do for his or her self-esteem? Has anyone thought that far ahead yet? What a horrible set-up for loving parenting, starting out thinking your baby was “extracted” from your body.

I suppose I see where she’s coming from. The author is making a case for viewing your c-section as a “metaphor for the beginning of a new life” rather than something to “terroriz[e] women” with. I’m sorry she thinks I’m not setting my child up for loving parenting by describing what happened during his birth, but I think that statement is nutty enough that it almost doesn’t warrant a response. If anything, I’d be more likely to show loving parenting to try to mollify the circumstances of his birth a bit.

I’ve talked before about how I felt as though I played no part in my child’s birth. I’m a little… confused? I guess? as to why the author is so hostile about this feeling. I was anesthetized, strapped to a table and “blindfolded” from what was happening with a giant blue sheet, and then someone used a scalpel to cut me open and then people pulled a baby out of me.

My part in this was… what now? You can call it a metaphor for new life if you want, and it is, but it was also an extraction. I was actively prevented from participating in my birth, and yet somehow, feeling this way and talking to other women that feel similarly is “extraction crap” started by “a sadist.”

She then goes on to play the Guilt Olympics by describing impoverished women in Somalia that would love to have a c-section to avoid an obstetric fistula, or women who end up with stillborn babies while birthing vaginally. I am not sure what this has to do with the price of tea in China but I think it’s totally inappropriate to try to make me feel better (?) about my c-section by telling me that there are loads of people would love to be in my position, while simultaneously telling me how I should feel about my position.

In the comments, she’s accused of not having compassion for the women that believe their babies were “extracted,” and responded:

I have compassion… I feel sorry for the women who don’t feel they’ve given birth. Very, very sorry for them.

THIS is the attitude that makes me feel “less than,” not other women’s descriptions of surgical birth.

Then there’s this:

Quit being dramatic, you Extraction Queens. Find a way to get over your selfish belief your birth wasn’t real because of the location the kid entered the world from.

I don’t believe my child’s birth wasn’t “real” – I have the scar to prove it. I just believe I played a very little part in it.

Let me grieve for the birth I wanted, describe the birth I had in the manner that seems appropriate to me, and keep your misplaced pity for my child to yourself.

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January 11, 2012 2:35 pm

Stroller Do-Over

Every time I consider taking a walk with Wesley, I start thinking about how much I hate my stroller and what I’d pick differently if I could do it over.

We received a stroller as a gift (which was super generous) and despite it being the accompaniment to our carseat, I didn’t really have an opinion on it. I mean, it handled fine, I guess, but I think I used it once? And then we were talking to one of the instructors at Wesley’s daycare and learned that it was the exact stroller she’d been wanting but couldn’t afford. So we offered to sell it to her and she bought it and all was well.

Meanwhile, I found my OMG DREAM STROLLER on Craigslist for something like $300 off the sticker price. (Yes, it was one of those fancy expensive strollers.) I hemmed and hawwed and with the urging of a co-worker, I decided to go for it. Daniel negotiated them down another $20 or so and we brought it home.

Quinny Buzz 3

It’s a Quinny Buzz 3, but in lime green. Dream come true, right? Well…

People familiar with strollers will probably notice something VERY IMPORTANT missing from this high-end fancy stroller.

What could that be, you ask? And I reply, storage. It has no under-stroller basket for your purse or a blanket or the multitude of things you carry with you when you go on an outing with a stroller. There is a little bag that comes with it that clips on to the bottom, but it’s not really storage by any stretch of the imagination. It holds the rain cover (which I have never used) and the tiny pump for the tires, and that’s it. You could not fit a blanket in it, perhaps unless it was one of those really lightweight muslin swaddling blankets. But that’s it. No purse, no toys, nothing.

Plus, the stupid little bag is situated such that if you take normal-length strides, you end up kicking it with each step. And that’s ME pushing it! Me, a person who is not even five feet tall. I can’t imagine how people use this stroller with the bag thing if they are any taller than I am.

I can’t even tell you how annoying it is to not be able, for instance, to throw a jacket into the basket in case the wind picks up. Or to have a place to put said jacket if it’s warmer than you expected and you take it off. ARGH.

In terms of accessories, there is an optional cup holder you can (and we did) buy, because I often use the stroller for walks to Daniel’s work where I sometimes get a beverage to go, and the stroller handles poorly enough that it’s difficult to steer with one hand. So I spent the $20 (!!!) on a cup holder.

It doesn’t fit in our trunk unless you take the wheels off. We keep a cheapy umbrella stroller in the car now instead, but sheesh.

To add insult to injury, it’s hard to fold up. It takes me a couple of tries EVERY TIME to get it to collapse. You have to get in front of it, press a very large button down with your left hand while simultaneously pressing and sliding a very large button forward with your right, and then sort of leaning into it so it gets the idea that it needs to go down and not up (because it auto-unfolds), and then you have to stretch a little bunjee with a loop over this little metal nub so it stays closed.

OMG.

(Seriously. The list of things I hate about this stroller is so long.)

And I am SO SAD that I hate it. Price-wise, it’s basically equivalent to if we had bought that first stroller ourselves, plus I use it all the time, so it’s not a huge loss. But I DREAMED about this very stroller and wanted it so bad and I had no idea it could suck this much.

Now that I’ve had a while to use a stroller and it’s not this imaginary thing that I’m buying with no idea what my criteria for a stroller should be, I have OPINIONS on strollers and I am going to voice them in case anyone might be helped by my predicament.

Meggan’s Current Stroller Criteria

THINGS THAT ARE ACTUALLY IMPORTANT:

1. Storage
Stroller must have a large basket underneath for storage. I want to be able to fit my purse and a small lap blanket in there, and neither are huge so this should not be very hard. This is non-negotiable. No settling.

2. Big tires
This is not so important in the city, but in a tiny town with minimal sidewalks, I will not get a stroller with small flimsy wheels. I go over a lot of curbs, bumps, uneven sidewalks, leaves, and snow, and tiny tires just won’t cut it. Air-filled is not a requirement, but big, beefy tires are.

3. Ease of collapsability
I hate the amount of effort it takes to fold this thing up.

4. Maneuverability
This should probably be higher up on the list, but even though the Quinny’s maneuverability isn’t awesome, it isn’t as annoying to me as a lot of these other things.

5. Places to put my stuff
My good friend Meagan (HI MEAG!) has a stroller with this little parental console thing on the handle. It has cupholders and a little bin with a flap to close it, so you can put your phone or keys in it and they won’t fall out during a bumpy ride. This is very handy.

Bonus stuff, the “would be nice” things:

6. Tray with cupholders for the baby
Wesley would still probably throw his sippy on the ground, but if not, he’d at least have a place to put it when he’s not using it.

7. Cute color
Ugly strollers make me sad, and all-black strollers seem kind of plain. I like bright, gender-neutral colors for baby gear.

8. Ability to lay the seat down with minimal disturbance to baby
With the Quinny, there is a LOT of jostling if you want to tilt the seat back, and off the top of my head I can’t even remember what awful button-pressing and leaning combination you have to perform to do it.

THINGS THAT ARE NOT IMPORTANT, BUT I MISTAKENLY THOUGHT WERE IMPORTANT WHEN I WAS DREAMING ABOUT STROLLERS:

1. Ability to reverse the seat so baby is facing you
I still think this is important if you routinely use a stroller when the baby is little. I did not. Wesley was always in a carrier and strollers made me uncomfortable because I couldn’t see him, and what if he spit up all over himself or needed his binky etc. The Quinny has this feature, which is a huge part of the reason I wanted that particular stroller, but since I never used the stroller when he was little enough that it mattered, it was useless. Plus, you can’t collapse the stroller if the seat is facing you. You have to remove the seat and put it back in facing outward. Annoying!

2. What the stroller looks like
I know, rookie parent move. I still maintain that looks are important with something you’ll be using a lot, but mostly I liked the color and the neoprene-y seat on the Quinny, two features that are not really crucial in the grand scheme of things.

3. Highly adjustable handle
This would be nice because Daniel is a full foot taller than I am, but I feel like most strollers have some semblance of this and I am the one using the stroller the most anyway.

——

Also, I would advise a stroller-shopper to think about how they will use the stroller. If I had actually done this, I would have realized that there was no way I was going to use it from birth until about age one. So I’d pick a more toddler-friendly model versus one that will fit all 6832 models of carseats and has a reversible seat.

Now that I know more about what I like and dislike in strollers, I’ve got this on my wishlist:

Big basket! Big tires! A place for my stuff! Probably folds easier than the Quinny! A tray (plus a toy) for Wesley! Nice green color!

(Please tell me if you have this stroller and think it sucks. For now, it seems to fit all my criteria.)

After this GLOWING ENDORSEMENT of the Quinny, um, does anyone want to buy it from me so I can get this Jeep stroller? Heh. Seriously though, I think I am going to list this thing on Craigslist and highlight the good things (um, the color? the reversible seat?) and use the money to get myself a functional stroller that I don’t hate. Because, really. Life is too short to actively hate something you use all the time.

4 Comments >

April 6, 2011 12:25 pm

Babywearing Crisis

(Note: This happened a couple of weeks ago, but I didn’t have the post finished and then it was Wesley’s birthday and my family was in town, and then my in-laws, and I am just now getting around to posting it.)

My first official day of being a stay-at-home-mom, and I go and lose our baby carrier.

Okay, that’s not totally true. Daniel and I both remembered using it on the 19th when we went to IKEA and Target. Beyond that… it was a mystery. I discovered its absence two days later when I was all ready to go on an afternoon walk. I searched the apartment, even went out to the car and looked in the trunk, nothing. No idea where it went. I couldn’t even remember when I last saw it. I had a vague memory of remarking that we had accidentally shut the straps in the car door, and I believe I said this in the Target parking lot, but beyond that I wasn’t sure.

I called Target and the lady had no idea what I was talking about.

Me: Yes, I’m calling about something that may have been lost in your parking lot?

Target: Oh, yes?

Me: It’s an Ergo brand baby carrier. It’s bright green, with black straps?

Target: Oh, like a carseat?

Me: No… um, it’s… you can carry your baby in it? It’s got buckles, and–

Target: OH! Like one of those shopping cart covers.

Me: No. Um… It’s like… OH! It is like a Baby Bjorn.

Target: Ahh. I will go look.

Me:

Target: Nope. Not here.

Me: Ah, shoot. Nobody turned one in? Okay. Thank you for checking.

I tried to call IKEA too, but their phone system was a maze of not-quite-accurate options and then they put me on hold forever and I finally gave up.

The next day, after sending a panicked email to Jem about Plan B Babywearing Options, I decided to give Target another call just in case I got someone that had a better idea what I was talking about and would know what to look for.

To my complete surprise, the girl confirmed that yes, they did have my carrier and I could pick it up anytime. HURRAY!

Once Daniel got home from work, we drove back out there to pick it up. I was so relieved! I can’t even explain it. Without it, I had felt like a prisoner in my own home! I had never realized how much I depended on my baby carrier until it was gone.

3 Comments >

February 9, 2011 1:00 pm

Cesarean

As most of you know, my pregnancy with Wesley ended in an emergency cesarean section due to pre-eclampsia. My kidneys had more or less stopped working, so despite feeling fine, I was told that it was time for things to get a move on. (Delivery is the only cure for pre-eclampsia.)

Initially

I was very, very upset. I started bawling as soon as they told me it had to happen. They presented it to me like it was a choice, but it wasn’t, and I signed the consent form through tearful sobs.

Weeks Later

I cried anytime anybody brought it up. I’m still not 100% sure why; I think it had to do with how I envisioned my birth going and how very different it ended up, as well as the fact that the midwife on call was someone I did not know well and her attitude rankled me. She was the person conducting my two-week postpartum appointment as well, and after asking “So, how do you feel about the c-section?” was baffled by my tears.

She then wrote a totally silly note in my chart that the midwife at my six-week postpartum appointment read out loud to me because she thought it was so weird. It said something to the effect of, “Patient is very touchy; best to not bring up the c-section.” The midwife who performed my 6-week checkup was like, “Um, I don’t know what she’s talking about. You seem fine. It’s clearly not how you wanted things to go, but I think you are handling it very well.”

Once I could talk about it without crying, I mostly just gave the stock answer of “at least we are both healthy, that is what matters.” Which… yes. But. I think that minimized a lot of the feelings I had regarding the whole procedure and what it will mean for me in the future.

Now

I’m not sure why, but this subject keeps coming up for me lately and I wanted to get my thoughts out of my head as it helps me process the information.

I often feel like my entire reproductive future is ruined. Whether or not this is true, I think about it a lot and it bothers me. I’d love to have a waterbirth, or a homebirth (or both!) and I’m frustrated that the most I can hope for is doing a “trial of labor” and it’ll have to be in a hospital so they can perform an emergency c-section if necessary.

I know I gave birth to a baby, but I didn’t give birth to a baby – he was removed from me, and I played basically no part in his delivery. I was strapped to a table and he was cut out of me. THAT IS WEIRD, YOU GUYS. I was just sort of presented with a freshly washed and swaddled baby. I didn’t get that moment of seeing my new baby for the first time, allowing him to try to nurse right away, seeing more than just a sliver of his face between the tightly swaddled hospital blanket and the pink-and-blue striped hat they put on the newborns.

And that bums me out! Since I had a c-section with no prior vaginal births, my rate of success for a VBAC is lower than it would be otherwise, so I have to live with the idea that I may never get to experience those things.

If, for some reason, I end up uninsured in the future, I don’t think we would be able to have any more kids. My prenatal care + c-section + hospital stay cost THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS before insurance. If we were uninsured, we would not have thirty thousand dollars to spend on delivery if I had to have another emergency c-section. We just wouldn’t. We could bring the costs down a LOT by having a homebirth with midwives, but hey! I can’t! Because I already had a c-section!

I get that it was medically necessary. I do. But I feel like all my options have been removed. I’m jealous of people that got the sort of birth they wanted. I’m sad that the size of my family will have been dictated by some stupid condition I came down with that nobody understands and that caused me to have major abdominal surgery to resolve it.

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