Friday, March 28, 2014

News & Notes, After the Deer Edition

- So, animal control came to pick up the fawns.  I tried very hard to get a taxidermist, but apparently random dead animals aren't really an option for them because of all of the red tape.  They need permits for the animals they stuff, and those usually come during hunting season or from the farms where the animals lived.  There's not really a setup for a case like ours, especially out of season, mostly because they need to prevent people from saying they "found" a dead animal, when in reality they somehow actively killed it.  I understand it, but I do wish there was another way.  They were so beautiful.  Of course, I knew it was bound to happen, but an animal got to one of them overnight and did some pretty nasty damage to the face.  Overall the situation is just sad.  I'm relieved someone  finally came to get them, though, because I just couldn't stuff them in a bag...for multiple reasons.  Nature really stinks sometimes.  Had it been a day like today, they might have had a shot.

- Carter is doing a little better...I think.  In general he's much happier.  He's sleeping well, he's willing to play, and he's eating like a champ.  He's still rather clingy, though, and very impatient.  If you take too long to do anything for him, he screams like a banshee.  I don't know if that's just a developmental phase that happened to coincide with all of this other sickness, but man...it's hard to do anything when he's around.  Cooking dinner is nearly impossible.  Of course, part of the reason it's impossible is because he seems to have an insatiable appetite right now, so he screams while I'm getting his food ready.  I don't know if he's making up for lost time, having a growth spurt, or if (God forbid) the virus triggered something, but he seems like he could eat 24/7 right now.  I'm pretty sure he could out-eat Jacob.  Yesterday he had a pancake for breakfast because he woke up early and I needed to keep him occupied while I packed lunches.  He had his bottle at daycare, two meatballs and (I think) a side they provided for lunch, another bottle, a couple cereal snacks during the day (Kix and Cheerios), and still put up a fuss when he saw someone else get a bottle mid-afternoon. So they gave him a bottle then and supplemented with their own milk later when he was actually due for a bottle.  Then at dinner he had some milk, chicken, a stick of string cheese, corn, yogurt melts (his favorite), and some grapes.  And then another bottle at bed.  I know I need to get him off the bottle thing soon, but they bring him such joy and comfort right now that I just don't feel like I should wean him.  He's getting better with the sippy cup, so that's less of a worry, and if he keeps eating like this his weight won't be either, but I love seeing him happily downing his bottle, especially when he has so many fussy moments.

The food thing is a bigger challenge than usual because I'm not quite sure what to feed him given our current diet.  He can't eat most of what we have in the house because of the rice intolerance and all of the rice-based gluten-free foods we have.  Most of our dinners involve some sort of rice product, so he can't eat most of our dinners.  It's more important right now to eat gluten-free with Jacob, as he has a hard time being excluded.  Carter also eats smaller amounts and simpler foods in general so it only makes sense to have his meal be the specially prepared one.  But because of those small amounts it's hard to figure out enough single-serve items to keep him satisfied.  I've asked daycare to start checking their lunch foods for rice, because I'm more than happy to have him try new foods there.  Today was soy nut butter and jelly sandwiches, so we'll see how that goes!  Just because we haven't eaten it at home doesn't mean he can't try it there.  They're sensitive to what's appropriate for this age, so I'm willing to give it a shot, especially given how hungry he is!

If this appetite thing keeps up, I may mention it to the doctor.  All of his blood work came back normal, albeit with earmarks of a virus.  The Celiac test did officially come back negative, by the way, though it's not a forever determination.  Things could change down the road, but for right now, that is not what is causing him issues.  Whew.  He's still inexplicably fussy at times, but at least it's manageable. 

- Jacob has been, well, challenging.  I really do think this stuff is cyclical.  I don't know why, but he'll have a week or two when he's downright pleasant, then a couple or three weeks where he's impossible.  To be clear, it's not what it was in the late summer/fall.  He still hits, but mostly it's almost like a reflex or something he thinks is sort of funny, rather than him being purposely violent.  He's very particular about things, and still very hard to transition.  The battles are still lengthy and difficult, but it is rare for them to get out-of-control.  He's just generally mischievous and likes annoying people.  But he has times where he can be totally cool, too. 

I talked to the school psychologist the other day, and it seems like he's doing a little better at school with things like getting his stuff ready in the morning.  He still needs some prompting, but he's managing.  He's had a few really good days where he's been on purple, the top color on the behavior chart in his classroom.  He got to do this "bucket fillers" thing for the first time today, and it really makes me happy to know he's finally settling in a little better.  But today he also ended up getting the worst color on the behavior chart, and since we didn't get the usual call home, we're not sure what happened.  He couldn't tell us, and while normally I'd think he was just protecting himself, it seemed to me that he legitimately didn't understand why.  I can't help but wonder if he's in his own little world when he does something wrong and just doesn't understand exactly what the problem was. 

We got some of his paperwork back from the school, and while our responses to the Asperger's-focused questionnaire put him borderline, his teacher's responses put him closer to probable.  The thing is, though, that it's not consistent.  It's different at school than at home, and at home he can range from totally normal to completely bizarre.  Maybe that's how high-functioning Asperger's works, but I still can't help but wonder if there are multiple other things at play that combine to look like Asperger's but aren't, which would explain that he can have periods of almost entirely normal behavior.  Sometimes I wonder if he's just sort of shell-shocked from Carter's entrance into our lives.  It was a major change, and maybe he just can't quite process what happened.  At this point almost nothing would surprise me, but I still feel like he's been far too social his whole life (even if he's a bit awkward at times) to really fit in the spectrum mold quite right.  No one even considered this stuff as a possibility until six months ago, aside from my overactive mom mind a few years back.  It just an odd situation, that's for sure. 

Hoping for a fun and relaxing weekend...starting now :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Four Years, Three Deer

I realized earlier tonight that today's date was significant because it's the fourth anniversary of our move into our current house.  It's hard to believe that by the time Thanksgiving hits, we'll have been in this house as long as we were in our other house.  That's still a while away, but I'd say these four years have gone much faster nonetheless!  That move was so crazy and so stressful (Craig had to work on moving day, remember?), but it was all with the purpose of getting a bigger, better house for our future family of four.  And now, four years later, here we are all settled in.  Well, we were here three years later, too, but now Carter is much more lively and it really makes it feel a lot more real, you know?  But oh, what a time that was.

In other news, we had quite the exciting day yesterday.  As I was getting ready for work, I looked outside because I noticed that my weather app said it was snowing.  As I looked around the backyard, I noticed a deer sitting by our swing set.  It's pretty rare to see a deer back there at all, even though we live a street away from a golf course.  I did see three come out from the side of the house last week, but it'd been months since I'd seen one before that.  As I looked further, I noticed something moving in front of her.  I realized it was a fawn...a very small fawn.  And in the time it took me to move to a different window to get a better look, the deer was standing up and another fawn just fell out of her!  So....yes.  A deer decided to have twin fawns in the middle of our backyard.  It was cold and snowing out, and this seemed early in the year for fawns.  I didn't realize how early until I looked it up later, but I figured this might not have been quite a planned delivery. 

I watched them all for a bit.  One fawn was trying to stand up, but the other one only lifted its head.
The fawn is in front trying to stand up
The fawn never quite got up.  It toppled over and then sat down to rest for a while.  In the meantime, the mom was tending to the other fawn, mostly just lots of licking.  By the time we were ready to leave for the day, she was still licking that fawn...only I noticed that that fawn didn't seem to be moving much.  The other one was still awake and moving around, but I was concerned that neither of them would make it through the day because it was so cold.  That concern intensified when suddenly the mom got up and left.  I found out later that it's normal for that to happen, but I think most of the time the babies are a little more protected and it's warmer.  Did I mention that normally fawns are born in late May?  Yeah, this deer was at best a month early, and probably closer to two.  Not good.

During the day I thought about the deer constantly, and ended up calling the DEC to see what their thoughts were.  They were surprised to hear about the birth and requested pictures.  They didn't have much advice if they were dead other than to move them to a place where they could decompose naturally or double bag them and throw them out.  I didn't like either of those options, but I didn't know for sure what we'd be facing until I got home.

Sure enough, once I got home I discovered the sad truth.  Both fawns had passed away.  I got a closer look to take pictures for the DEC, and I had mixed emotions looking at them.  On one hand they were dead animals on my property.  On the other they were the most beautiful, perfect creatures and it was so sad to see them there, knowing how alive they were in the morning and seeing them like that afterward.  I'd post a picture here but it's a little depressing despite the beauty.  The DEC has sent my pictures off to other deer biologists in the state for them to marvel at the craziness of deer born two months early.

Ever since I've been trying to figure out what to do about them.  I called a couple taxidermists and one was interested, but I haven't heard back.  I may try another one tomorrow.  I'm worried about them starting to decompose or other animals getting to them, but I don't really want to have to scoop them up either.  It's not like a squirrel or mouse.  These things are big and they have long, gangly legs.  I'd really hate for their beauty to go to waste, so I really wish someone could take them. 

And in case you're wondering, Jacob got to see them when they were alive, and he did find out they had died.  He was sort of obsessed with it for a while, in fact.  We didn't let him see them, though.  We did find out he had some interesting ideas about death and what happens after.  He actually said something about wanting to go into the backyard to watch them go to heaven.  That was a new one.  Guess we have some work to do on that. 

So...we'll see how this ends up.  Everyone on Facebook has been remarking how sad it is, and it is...though it's nature, I guess.  But why did it have to happen in our backyard?

Hopefully I'll have another update on other things soon. We're still working through some stuff with Carter's illness, and hopefully getting closer to getting Jacob in with the behavioral specialist.  More soon...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Looking Back and Marching Forward

For some reason this morning I felt compelled to take a look back in the blog at what was going on a year ago.  I don't know why, specifically, that popped into my head, but perhaps I was trying to subconsciously remind myself that every phase has a challenge, and things just keep moving along and eventually resolve themselves one way or another.

Anyway, when I looked, I discovered that a year ago today was the day I came to terms with stopping breastfeeding and starting Carter on formula.  It was such a brutal decision.  I had spent the previous two days in tears and by Sunday, when I wrote the year-ago-today blog post, I had decided that my sanity and the ability to feed me family stress-free was just as important as what I was feeding Carter.  Ironically, six months later we'd be having a different kind of major dietary change around here, but to this day I'd still rather do the gluten-free thing than dairy-free.  Perhaps there's just more gluten-free options, perhaps gluten-free information is more readily available, or perhaps the replacements are much closer to the real thing than fake dairy.  I'm sure the hormones and stress of having a new baby didn't help.  It was a very difficult decision.

The weaning process went as smoothly as I could have hoped given the accelerated schedule, and a year later we're now officially done with formula.  We finally wrapped it up over the weekend after lots of false starts and stops in the past few weeks with the stomach bug and whatever else.  I won't miss spending that money, that's for sure.  We still have to figure out how to ease him off his milk, which he loves, and introduce more food, but given our rice-heavy menu it's a little challenging at the moment to find single-serve options that work for him.  Interestingly, last Friday before I picked up Carter, a couple teachers who have watched him but aren't his main teachers gave him some Multigrain Cheerios.  They didn't realize he couldn't eat them because they have rice in them.  He came out unscathed, which gives me hope that he might be outgrowing the intolerance already.  I'm not ready to test him because I'm guessing we'll have another "oops" along the way (every once in a while something comes up that you'd never think has rice), but it's promising. 

As far as Carter today, he seems to be getting a tiny bit better.  He's still very impatient and clingy, but in between he seems to be having happier moments.  He actually smiled at people at Wegmans today, which hasn't happened in a while.  He laughs more and smiles more, but is still not entirely into playing or being out of my arms in general.  It's hard to say if he's just improving slowly, or if he's having bad days and good days.  I feel bad for him because I don't know what's bothering him.  His doctor called today and said that the bloodwork was consistent with a virus, but it was hard to say if it was still present or if it was still working its way out of his system.  The Celiac results weren't back yet.  On Saturday another doctor said that one part was in and negative, but today our doctor seemed a little more non-committal.  She said she wanted to wait a couple more days until those results are in before we make any more decisions about next steps if Carter still isn't feeling well by then.  If the Celiac test is indeed negative, the next steps would involve looking into his belly, but I don't know much beyond that.  Hopefully he continues to visibly improve and we can just assume he's simply having a tough time recovering from what he had.  I just miss my laid-back, sweet, happy baby. 

Looking back on the dairy-free experience a year later, it definitely reminds me that every phase has its own difficulties.  Problems come and go, but it's pretty rare to be problem-free at any point.  So, we'll just take this issue day-by-day and hope that this problem goes away as quickly as it came. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Another Day, Another Try

Carter slept through the night last night, so I was hopeful this morning that he'd turned a corner and would be a happier baby today.  No such luck.  I got a call mid-morning that he'd been miserable, pulling at his ear and rubbing it on the high chair.  He's still constantly wanting to be held, arching his back, crying out of the blue, and not being the happy, smiling baby he usually is.  By the time I got that call I was practically distraught.  It has started to feel like it felt dealing with Jacob six months ago, when he was at his worst and there seemed to be no end in sight.  There were no easy answers and every guess at the cause seemed more outrageous (and scary) than the last. 

When I got back from lunch I got a call back from the doctor's office, after calling them again and saying that after Tuesday's appointment things only got worse.  Luckily our doctor was in today and they had an opening this afternoon.  So I left work, picked up Carter, and headed over.  I handed over another $25 co-pay (that's $100 total this week after his routine follow-up at the pulmonary specialist--ugh), and we went in.  Luckily, he gave her a pretty good idea of what we've been dealing with--a lot of whining, crying, arching, etc.  She said that it was good that nothing was very obviously wrong, but it was clear that he wasn't himself.  She's seen enough of his goofy grin to know!  So, she sent us for blood work.  Among the tests is the one that looks for a telltale Celiac disease sign.  Ugh.  God forbid that comes back positive, because I simply don't know what kind of gluten-free diet I would feed a baby who can't eat rice.  It seems odd that the symptoms would come on that suddenly, but sometimes traumatic life events can trigger it (though the issue is always there, sometimes a specific event officially triggers it...like in Jacob's case, perhaps a new brother and the start of Kindergarten, perhaps?).  While it doesn't seem like Carter has too much stress, keep in mind that he had a terrible stomach bug last week and then he was very upset after we left him to go to Toronto last weekend.  I suppose those issues could have done it.  He's generally been a bit constipated like Jacob has been in recent months, and his discomfort could be his stomach.  Jacob never had telltale symptoms either besides those two issues, so I suppose it makes sense.  But I still really hope that's not the case.  Selfishly I'd like to have one kid that I can take to normal restaurants or allow to buy school lunch or send to birthday parties without sending along a backup cupcake and special pizza.  I know it would probably be easier for Jacob if his brother has to eat the same thing he does, but you know...I thought Jacob would appreciate having a brother, too, and we know how that went.  It's hard enough to think about what to feed Carter now when 75% of our dinners don't work for him, let alone when my simple stand-bys (mini-bagels, chicken nuggets, Cheerios) won't work for him either. 

It could still be his teeth, but the fact that painkillers aren't doing the trick there makes it a little more unlikely.  I did buy him a molar-specific teething toy tonight, so we'll see if that helps.  He chewed on his toothbrush for a while the other night.  But in general any sort of distraction seems to help temporarily, but after a bit it's like he remembers he's uncomfortable and he gets upset again.  He does not want to be put down for any reason, but sometimes he's still arching and battling while he's being held.  It is so perplexing.   

The whole thing is very unnerving.  I just want my healthy, happy baby back. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just when you thought it was over...

So...today was our first "normal" day in a while.  Jacob went to school, Carter went to daycare, and Craig and I went to work.  I spent most of the day half expecting a call from somewhere about a sick kid, just because I don't really trust this plague.  It has been an odd one.

To recap...
  • Carter got sick Tuesday night and spent about six hours retching every half hour or so.  He seemed a lot better by morning and we all stayed home that day thanks to a combination of the sickness and the snow day. 
  • We were back to normal on Thursday, and everything seemed fine until Friday morning when I got the call that he had thrown up his morning bottle at daycare.  He seemed okay again right after, and sure enough, he was fine the rest of the day.  We chalked it up to drinking his bottle too fast combined with an odd burp, and hoped that was the end of it.
  • We loaded up Friday afternoon and headed to Buffalo to drop Carter off with my parents and continue on to Toronto with Jacob, to stay until late Saturday night.  Carter was very sad when we left him behind and cried a while, but he went to bed fine and all was well.  
  • Meanwhile, on our way to Toronto, Jacob seemed a little odd right after dinner (extra whiny/panicky about wanting to get on the road), and then fell asleep just a few minutes into the drive.  I was a little nervous since he had already slept really well the night before (and so did Carter before he got sick), but it had been a busy day of anticipation so I hoped that's all it was.
  • He slept most of the way, until we just reached the city.  He was a little groggy when he first woke up, but perked up quickly and was fine for the couple hours it took to get there, load in, and get ready for bed.  
  • As we were getting ready to go to sleep, Jacob complained that his stomach hurt.  A few minutes later he threw up.  Fortunately we managed to contain the mess pretty well and he felt better afterward.  The guys fell asleep and I stayed awake too nervous about round #2.
  • A couple hours later he woke up puking, or so it would seem since I was pretty quick to check on him when he stirred, and yet we ended up with a huge mess.  
  • After housekeeping stopped in, I tried to get some sleep but probably barely dozed.  Four or five hours after Jacob's last incident, right when I was hoping he was done, he woke up and dry heaved.  Fortunately that marked the end of the worst of it, but we had to come back in the early afternoon because I was too nervous about getting it myself and stranding us there.
  • All through the week, Craig and I had moments of nausea, though some of that can certainly be attributed to nerves and the physical response to dealing with bodily fluids.  Mine seemed to manifest itself in almost an acid reflux-type feeling, which made me feel yucky in my throat even though by all accounts my stomach itself seemed fine.  It actually reminded me of pregnancy, where the slightest thing could bring me to the brink of being sick, but I never actually got sick.  That feeling intensified overnight Friday to Saturday, but the worst held off.
  • The boys and I came back home Saturday night, and we had a relatively uneventful overnight.  Carter woke up a bit unhappy, and throughout the day he turned into a clingy, cranky mess.  He didn't have any other symptoms until I realized he had a low-grade fever, but it certainly left me confused because that kind of a fever shouldn't be able to do that much of a job on my normally happy baby.
  • Craig was home with Carter on Monday and basically had him sleeping on his chest ALL day.  Still no other symptoms.
  • I stayed home with him yesterday because he still had a fever and still seemed miserable when he woke up in the morning.  He perked up a bit mid-morning, where he actually cracked a few smiles and had moments of seeming normal.  The doctor said that it could be a virus or teething, which is exactly what I had been thinking they'd say.  
  • His appetite has been hit-or-miss for a couple days and he's still pretty clingy.  I can't leave the room and his periods of playfulness seem pretty short compared to normal. 
So, this morning I was hoping he'd be back to normal, but he seemed to wake up a little hoarse with a bit of a cough, so perhaps the virus is getting worse now that the fever is going away.  He seemed unhappy at daycare when I dropped him off, which almost never happens.  When I picked him up, they said he had had good moments during the day, but particularly this afternoon he was unhappy.  He was periodically cranky at dinner, and afterward he was completely inconsolable at times.  He'd cry for minutes on end, didn't want to be held, and kicked and scooted on his back along the floor.  A few times he stopped and seemed fine, but then he'd start back up again.  He had a hard time falling asleep after his bottle because he'd constantly whine for a minute and then chill back out.  He went down fine (only one cry that I've heard so far, an hour later), but I'm concerned.

I don't want to sound cheap, but our ER co-pay is $500.  That is a serious investment in something that could be gas, you know?  It doesn't seem like gas because his belly isn't hard, and while it could be teething (he's been chewing on his fingers a lot), it seemed more intense than that.  I gave him ibuprofen, but the pain continued for a lot longer than I would have expected. 

A friend of mine suggested via Facebook that it could be intussusception, which is basically a sort of intestinal obstruction.  I won't lie--the symptoms sound very similar, but I'm still trying not to jump to conclusions.  Usually extremes like that sound crazy, but at this point nothing would surprise me.  I would really like him to poop so I can make sure there's no blood in it, but he's not always consistent with that, unfortunately.  The good news is that he's got his every-few-month appointment with the pulmonary specialist tomorrow morning, so hopefully they can give him another once-over to make sure nothing seems amiss.  It was very scary, but I find it encouraging that he's sleeping well right now.  Still, all bets are off when the ibuprofen wears off.  It could be yet another rough night.  He slept on me for a good part of two nights this week before a good night last night, and I'm exhausted thinking of another sleepless night on top of all the others I've had in the past week.

On the bright side, Jacob seems to be doing better.  His behavior is back to difficult (it's sort of cyclical, I swear), but he's been doing okay at school with the exception of yet another write-up at the afterschool program on Monday.  We're waiting to hear if he gets suspended for a bit since this was his third.  My stomach is still a little off, but it's much better than it was.  I started taking Ranitidine (just like Carter!) to counteract the reflux-y feeling in my throat, and that seemed to help.  I'm not imminently expecting to be sick, but I still have moments where I can tell I'm still not entirely back to normal.  The worst it got was a few very soft and frequent BMs while Jacob was at his worst, but even since it's just been a general ickiness that gets better at times.

So, just when we thought things might be better, we have yet another concern.  I'd really like to get back to normal, because this is getting old.  I like my happy, healthy kids and our nice, normal existence.  Hopefully soon...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Aftermath

Jacob's illness lasted into early Saturday, as he woke up around 6am with (mostly) dry heaves.  He felt much better by the morning, after Craig went out to get something for him to drink (in the absence of Gatorade, Vitamin Water had to do).  He drank some of that and kept down some bread (we brought our own). He watched TV and eventually enjoyed some iPad time once it appeared he was past the risk of puking on it.  Craig had to go to practice and I tried to catch up on sleep.  I also had to determine my health status to figure out when we should leave.  My stomach was a little off, but I ate a bit and was good enough.

When Craig got back from practice we finished packing up and headed downstairs.  We decided to walk down the street to the Hockey Hall of Fame store so there was at least one redeeming moment of the trip for Jacob.  We shopped a while but Jacob seemed to be fading a bit.  I stopped in a newsstand to buy a drink and snacks for the drive, and then we headed back to the hotel, grabbed our bags, and hopped in the car, minus Craig.  It really stunk to be leaving, but having to leave him there was even more of a bummer.

I had been all excited to take some pictures of our historic hotel and other sights along the way, but in the end I only took a few photos:
The crazy optical-illusion hallway in our hotel

One view of the lobby...so classic!

Another view of the lobby...notice the wood ceilings!
 
The drive back was fine.  Traffic wasn't bad and Jacob slept almost the entire way.  The wait at the bridge was about a half hour, but decent considering it's Canada's March break, I guess.

When we got to my parents', I gave Jacob more bread and Vitamin Water.  He wasn't his energetic self but seemed better.  Carter woke up from his nap and was happy to see me after a day apart.  We hung out for a couple hours to give us a break from the car and give Carter some time post-nap. He gets bored in the car and if he can't sleep he gets very unhappy.  We left around 6pm and headed home.

It was nice to be home, but we had a full evening.  We listened to Craig's broadcast during dinner and I tried to get a cranky Carter to bed ASAP.  Jacob was quite upset that we weren't in Toronto and that Craig wasn't home, so I gave him a little snuggle time before bed as we finished listening to the game.  Even though he was well aware of how sick he'd been, he was worried he won't get another chance to play on the turf there (because the team might move to a smaller arena) and he was just upset that we couldn't make it work.  I think his tiredness made it all worse, but he drove both of us nuts rehashing things over and over.  

This morning Carter woke up cranky, which isn't like him.  He was needy and cried like he was in pain.  My best guesses were his teeth or gas.  He could use a poop, but he wasn't even really trying.  He did let out a lot of toots, but nothing seemed to help.  He took a good nap, but still wasn't himself and lunch was a challenge.  Shortly thereafter I realized he had a fever.  I couldn't put him down and he rested on me most of the rest of the day.  He perked up a bit at dinner and survived a bath, but he's been in bed for a few hours and already woken up twice.

Jacob seems to be closer to normal, but I fear a return of the pukes like Carter had.  I'm feeling better, but I still worry about lingering germs.  Craig will be home late tonight from his double road trip, and will hopefully spend the day tomorrow snuggling Carter.  I just want the yucks out of this house and to get back in a groove.  I hate seeing my kids sick and I worry about what happens if Craig or I follow suit.  Bad nights of little sleep aren't doing us any favors.  It's been a rough week and we're not out of the woods yet.  This weekend just didn't go like we thought it would, and I'm sad about that for all of us.  It held so much promise...and yet here we are, two sicknesses later with one less day in Toronto under our belts.  What a bummer.

Man, I hope this week is a good one!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ill-Advised

So...perhaps this was a bad decision.  It's 2am in Toronto and I'm pretty sure I haven't slept.  Jacob started feeling sick as we were going to bed (rather late) and became stomach bug victim #2 shortly thereafter.  He slept for another couple hours after that before waking up puking, and we've been up ever since cleaning up, waiting for housekeeping, and waiting for the next round--be it him or one of us.  Fortunately Jacob is sleeping now, but for how long?  

Today (or really yesterday at this point) started with the call from daycare that Carter puked again.  He'd been fine since 2am Wednesday, but we'd also heard this illness sometimes came back a couple days later.  Still, I was hoping that he just drank his morning bottle too quick and that would be the end of it.  He stayed at daycare and ended up having a relatively uneventful day, even visiting the pre-toddler room.  

In the meantime, we were trying to make the call on what to do about our planned trip to Toronto.  Jacob was so looking forward to it, even telling his animals about it!  I was honestly worried that if we didn't go, he'd blame Carter and resent him more than he already does.  I haven't been feeling great all week, but I've been hoping that the slight nausea that never turned into anything was as far as the illness was getting in me.  I felt good enough, though, and no worse than earlier in the week.

By the time we picked up the kids, all was well so we headed to Buffalo and dropped off a very sad Carter with my parents.  Fortunately he seems to be recovered, although a bit clingy at times. He cried a lot when we left but he went down to bed fine.  

We headed up to Toronto and I first noticed something was up after dinner when Jacob was very antsy to get on the road.  When he fell asleep almost immediately, and I thought about how abnormally well he slept last night, I started wondering what we might be in for.  Still, Craig had to get to Toronto, so we soldiered on and hoped for the best.  

Jacob woke up a little outside the city and seemed better.  We made it to the hotel and he had plenty of energy, but then he started complaining just before we turned out the light.  He got really miserable before round #1, so we had some warning and managed to contain the mess to one pillow and the recycling bin.  Round #2 a couple hours later came out of nowhere and we had no shot.  It was everywhere.  So we cleaned what we could and waited for maintenance.

At this point I can't sleep.  I'm nervous about Jacob, worried about myself, and wondering how to make our escape.  If we go too early, we risk him still being sick.  If we go too late, we risk me finally falling victim and being stuck here.  Craig has to go to Philly after tomorrow night's game, so either way I'm a bit stuck.  Right now my stomach is fine (maybe a little rumbly, but fine), and yet I have this refluxy feeling where my throat burns.  When I was trying to sleep it almost felt like something was coming up, yet I  don't actually feel sick.  It's very odd.  I keep sipping water to calm the burn.  I don't want to get sick on the way home and I don't want to be sick home alone with two kids.  I also don't want to pass this to my parents. I'm hoping Craig avoids it, too, since he'll be on the road until Sunday night.  It's just a bad situation all around.  

Still, we mostly just have to wait for the morning.  We'll see if Jacob has more episodes, and then one of us will have to venture out for Pedialyte and see how that goes down.  We'll have to make the call by noon if I'm going to venture home or if we need to shell out the big bucks for a late checkout.  This is a nice hotel (Royal York, the team hotel), so it's not cheap. It may be worth the money, but still...this is bad.  No sleep, sick kid, lots of germs...and a long drive from home.

Yup, bad idea.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sick and Snow

I spend most of winter paranoid about anyone getting sick.  The more I read people talking about it on Facebook, the more I see notices pop up outside the rooms at daycare, the more paranoid I get.  Particularly where the kids are concerned. 

Carter had been having some moody moments lately, and his cheeks have been pink for a couple days.  Still, he seemed happy most of the time so I was hoping it was just teething.  Last night he wasn't that interested in eating.  After dinner he was hanging out on the floor in the living room, and suddenly I heard a noise.  I turned around to see him full of chunks from his dinner, along with curdled milk.  Man, puking was easier before solids!  He heaved a couple times and we headed off to the bathtub. 

I gave him some water before bed, and that came right back up, too.  I momentarily thought that maybe touching his food after touching the rice noodles we had with dinner made him have a reaction, but he's never thrown up multiple times from rice exposure.  He was happy in between episodes, so I put him down to bed hoping he'd sleep it off.  He threw up one more time in bed, but much less.  I set up shop next to him for the night.  He proceeded to dry heave every 20-30 minutes for the next few hours.  I felt so bad for him, but he was a trooper.  He barely cried.  Heck, I cry sometimes when I dry heave!  Eventually he settled down for the night.

I woke up a few times and gave him half a teaspoon of Pedialyte to help keep him hydrated.  He kept it all down, and slept late this morning.  Oh, did I mention we're all home today because there's a blizzard outside?  Jacob is off school, and with a sick baby and an active boy, we deemed it best to both be home.

Carter has been a little tired (read: cranky) today, but happy in between.  We've slowly upped the Pedialyte and tried tiny pieces of bagel and some Cheerios.  So far, so good.  He took one marathon nap and is sleeping on me again now.  He seems to be doing well, all things considered.  Now it's just a matter of waiting to see if anyone else gets it.  We have our trip to Toronto coming up on Friday, so that's a concern right now.  I haven't been feeling great today, but whether that's lack of sleep, a sinus thing that started yesterday, nerves, or some form of what Carter had remains to be seen. 

In the meantime we're housebound for the day.  The snow is blowing and we're supposed to get at least a foot by tomorrow.  Craig and Jacob have been outside twice trying to clear the driveway (and play snow football, apparently), and it keeps coming down.  It's just blowing and drifting and it looks miserable.  The Weather Channel is hanging out in the next town over, for pete's sake!  Adding insult to injury in this already awful winter is that it was finally 50 degrees the past couple days!  We've had such a cold, snowy winter, and that weather felt amazing.  And then today it's a blizzard and tomorrow it will be in the single digits again.  Someday it will be nice.

Anyway, time to take another shift with a cranky Carter before attempting dinner.  Wish us luck, in more ways than one! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Status Quo

Sorry it's been a little quiet around here lately.  I guess that's a good thing, because it means that there's not a lot to vent about.  It also means there isn't much excitement either, but we're sort of in one of those lulls of the year where there isn't a lot of ready-made fun.  We either have to plan it ourselves or it isn't happening.  Craig has spent so many of the last few weekends on the road that there hasn't been a lot of motivation to plan things.  Easter still isn't for another six weeks and the weather is still crappy.  I did realize that we're traveling a bit for three weekends in a row, starting with today when we went to Buffalo for Craig's mom's birthday and to see his Nana who's still a bit ill.  It was a nice day, though I spent the day thinking the kids' schedules are going to be totally screwed up, since the time changed last night and today's car rides led to oddly timed naps.  On top of that, I've been trying to wean Carter off his bottles a bit and give him more milk in sippy cups, but the end result always makes me think that he's not going to get enough since he loses interest in the cups sooner than bottles.  Today's schedule was a little different in general, so I wonder if he really ended up with enough.

Still, it was a pretty good day.  Jacob had his moments as usual, but he was a trooper when we had a couple hiccups--first with some limited food options and second with not being able to get some hand-me-down hockey equipment he'd been hoping to get.  I give him major credit for not having a major meltdown in either case.  He's been pretty decent lately.  He definitely has annoying moments, but he can be reasonable and downright charming at times.  I can't help but wonder if his body has finally adjusted to the lack of gluten and the six-month Behavior improvement window I read so much about has actually come to pass.  I still think there are some other things happening--maybe some ADD, maybe some other behavior issues.  He still really doesn't like Carter, and I can't help but wonder if there isn't some sort of PTSD from all of the changes over the past year--from Carter's arrival (and my subsequent disappearance from so much of his daily life) to starting Kindergarten.  We've done our best to help him through, but it almost seems like he improved most once Craig's roadtrips started and it forced us to spend time together.  At least Carter's naptime has given us some time alone, and we've had a chance to enjoy each other without constantly having to be rushing somewhere.  I definitely think it has helped.  We still have a lot to work through, but right now things are at least manageable.

Carter is quite the kid.  He just wants to be moving and be in the middle of the action.  He's not walking, but he's standing unsupported a lot more and loves walking while his hands are being held.  Give it another month and he'll probably be doing the real thing.  He's super playful and has a great sense of humor.  It's fun watching him move between his toys and see what he gravitates to.  He actually really seems to like cars (which I credit to watching the "big boys" drive them around during church), and he will push vehicles all over the room at daycare.  Around the house he has taken to pulling the fridge farm and alphabet bases (both electronic toys) off the fridge and pushing them around the kitchen floor face down.  I don't get it, but it's funny.  He also likes swinging around golf clubs and hockey sticks and sweeping at balls.  He also loves his little tunnel and one of these days I have to get video of him in there.  I keep hoping he'll start talking soon, too, but that may be a bit off.  Since he seemed to babble earlier than Jacob I hoped he'd talk sooner, but I guess he's focusing more on the walking.  He doesn't seem to necessarily make connections like Jacob did at this age.  I have video from Jacob's first birthday where we'd ask him how old he is and he actually held up one finger on command.  Carter doesn't seem to make a connection like that yet.  He'll mimic certain actions, which Jacob almost never seemed to do, but when it comes to sounds he's not quite there.  Of course, we know now that Jacob is extremely smart, so I guess it makes sense that he was a little advanced in that way.  Carter will get there, but what I wouldn't give for a little clear communication, or at least some direct acknowledgement. 

He's eating pretty well, but he's losing some interest in vegetables.  We're done with baby foods entirely.  He likes mini bagels, meats, and some fruits--though peaches are not his favorites.  He seems to do well with yogurt and we're slowly introducing him to other foods as we go along.  The transition from formula to milk is going pretty well.  We're more than halfway there and he's been fine.  Once we got his medicine flavored again he was keeping milk down again, so it appears that medicine just didn't settle well.  I will not miss that expensive formula, that's for sure!  I am trying to figure out how to take milk with us places, so I may have to get some shelf-stable to-go bottles of something for when we're out and about.  But we'll be on whole milk by the end of the week!  And once that happens, we can start weaning him off of one of his medicines! 

I almost had a disaster the other day when I had to run out and get something to get us through the one day between the end of our last can of formula and the arrival of the toddler formula I was using for the rest of the transition.  I was going to get the cheapest "gentle" formula option, so it wasn't the expensive stuff but also wasn't full-on dairy, and when I brought home a six-pack of the ready-to-drink Gentlease, I looked at the ingredients and realized it had rice in it!  The regular stuff doesn't, so I have no idea why the ready-to-drink does!  Thank goodness I didn't try to feed him that.  I ran back out later that night and grabbed some Gerber bottles with similarly broken-down proteins.  Part of me really wants to test out the rice thing because I'd love for him to eat with us, but it's probably just too soon. 

This coming weekend we're heading off to Toronto for a couple days.  Carter will probably stay back with my parents so we can focus on Jacob and spare him some chaos and odd schedules.  Jacob's been dying to go to Toronto to see the Knighthawks play the Rock, so we'll do that and hopefully hit up a couple other favorite stops while we're there.  The change of scenery will be nice.  But before that we have another busy week!

For tonight I'll leave you with a preview of Carter's silliness in his tunnel...
 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Compassion

Parenthood has taught me many things--how to function on little sleep, how to manage being covered in bodily fluids, and how to multitask at all hours of the day, among others--but one lasting impact that is really in the forefront these days is compassion.  I can't see a sad story about a kid and not be completely devastated by it.  And lately, those stories have been everywhere:
  • I've spoken before about my one set of friends whose daughter is battling cancer.  She's doing okay right now, but nothing has stalled the growth of her tumor and they're running out of options. Every time I read one of their CaringBridge posts, I'm both saddened and inspired by their journey.  They have such amazing attitudes and are trying to stay so positive, all with the very real knowledge that their daughter may be starting the long road home...away from them and off to Heaven.  But they refuse to throw in the towel any time soon.
  • Lately there's been one story popping up in my Facebook feed multiple times each day.  There's a little boy named Ben, one half of a four-year-old set of twins.  They live near Buffalo, and it seems that many people I know know them as a friend of a friend, or a former co-worker, or whatever.  It shows what a small world it is when you see so many people from different walks of life all have a connection to the same family.  Anyway, not too long ago Ben started having headaches and nausea.  He was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and had surgery to remove as much as they could.  It turned out to be cancerous, and they started radiation and chemo to treat the remaining tumor.  Well, after a week of radiation Ben was sick again and when they checked the tumor, everyone was stunned.  It had tripled in size since it had been operated on.  The tumor was growing far more rapidly than anyone had ever seen.  His prognosis is not good and they have stopped treatments other than the ones to keep him comfortable.  He is still in relatively good shape despite the tumor's growth, and his parents are doing everything in their power to make his last weeks (yes, weeks) perfect.  They are also people of very strong faith, and that is all that is getting them through right now.
  • The other day I took Jacob to lacrosse practice for the first time.  Usually Craig takes him, but he had an event to attend so I went.  As I was sitting there waiting for practice to start, I noticed a woman push in a wheelchair.  There was a boy in it, probably around 10 years old, give or take a couple years.  He was profoundly disabled, to the point that he mostly just stared into space.  A couple things struck me as I looked at them.  First, it's pretty rare these days to see a kid like that.  I feel like I saw things like that much more when I was younger, but then again there was a kid like that in my church (caused by a very high fever, as I recall) so I may have been a little more conscious of it back then.  The other thing was that the mom looked relatively young (older than me, but probably 40 or less) and was pretty stylish.  I guess it just sort of brought the point home that something like that could happen to anyone, even the "cool kids".  I guess when I was a kid, any parents that had kids like that seemed older and beaten down by life.  This mom just looked...different.  Like someone I'd have known at school or from work.  So to picture her "normal" life being completely changed by her profoundly disabled son...well, it definitely made me think of the challenges they must face.  Particularly since it's often exhausting wrangling Carter and his stroller and whatever else when we go places, and here was this mom bringing her (much heavier) son to her daughter's practice.  Life has to go on, I guess, but my heart went out to them because I'm pretty sure that's not how they pictured their life when they decided to have kids.
  •  Facebook is full of countless sick kid pages that I often catch friends' activity on, and for some unknown reason I end up clicking on the page and reading yet another heartwrenching story that simultaneously makes me cry for them and be thankful for the life we have.  You see just how much worse it could be and your heart cries for the people whose lives have been uprooted by some random, horrible illness.
Ironically, one of the sad stories I've mentioned here before is now one of the happy ones.  My co-worker's son is in remission from his rare form of leukemia, and he's doing so well that she'll be coming back to work soon, for the first time in over nine months (due to hyperemesis, as well) as soon as her new baby is old enough to go to daycare.  I can't wait to have her back!  She stopped into the office yesterday to chat with her boss and she brought the baby with her (holy cow, he is so cute...and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly you forget how tiny new babies are!).  We were talking and generally rejoicing over the fact that Roman is healthy and his baby brother is here and doing well, too.  But it struck me that there were moments where I almost didn't know what to say to her because the hell she's been through in the past year is beyond my comprehension.  Parenting is hard, which is why we all commiserate about it so much.  But when one parent has been through something that you can't even fathom, it leaves you at a loss, even in moments of joy.

Also ironically, I had a moment this week where I was on the other side of the conversation.  I was talking to another co-worker whose little boy appears to have lactose intolerance issues.  Obviously I have plenty of experience now with Jacob's and Carter's issues, so we had a nice chat about how it stinks,and all I could do was sympathize with her and try to find the bright sides--like Wegmans now having store-brand lactose-free ice cream!  It's the small victories, people.  But I could feel her pain, knowing that her son won't have a normal upbringing.  It's a lot to process, for sure.

Even things that don't deal directly with kids, or even people I know, are breaking my heart.  My parents' good friend is going through a very tough time with cancer, and while I hate to see my parents' worry about losing a friend, I also think about her family.  No one ever imagined a couple years ago that this would be her fate, and it's sad to think of a vibrant life ending too soon. 

There was a thing floating around on Facebook, a long-format Thai commercial, about a single mom and her daughter.  Their relationship was beautiful, but people gossiped about the mom.  When a friend asked her why she didn't tell people the truth about her daughter, she said she'd rather have people talk about her than her daughter.  The reason?  She actually found her daughter discarded in a bag near some garbage.  When they showed the mom discovering the baby, I cried.  It was only based on a true story, and yet it brought me to tears. 

The moral of all of these stories is that in each and every case, I'm fighting the urge to sit at my computer and sob.  I put myself in their place and my heart breaks.  I worry about how I'd survive in their situation and feel like an inadequate human being because to me it just doesn't seem possible...and yet, all of these people not only survive, but in some cases they find such beauty in their challenges.  I just don't know if I could do that.  So, in the meantime I pray and try to be thankful for my own circumstances, even if sometimes they frustrate me to no end.  We're blessed. 

While all of these things probably would have touched me even if I didn't have kids, being a parent has drastically changed the way I look at the world.  I love my family and friends, but having kids creates a love in your heart that is beyond anything you've ever experienced.  And when you envision anything getting in the way of that love, or somehow impacting those you love, it is paralyzing.  All of these stories are evidence that our lives are so uncertain.  There are no guarantees.  It's so hard to appreciate every moment of your life when everything is so busy, but that's what we need to strive for.  There will be hard moments, and it's impossible to truly enjoy it all, but even the most mundane moments can be special when you realize how limited they are.  Our kids are growing so fast and we're blessed to have the time we've had so far.  I pray we have a long lifetime of moments to spend with them and watch them grow.  In the meantime, you can bet that all of the stories I hear and see on a daily basis will make me appreciate this time even more.  Even when Carter is screaming, Jacob is disobeying, and I'm spending my umpteenth evening staring at my pantry, wondering what gluten-free creation we're going to have for dinner...again. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Finishing Formula

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, I was fascinated reading over my posts from when Jacob was about the age Carter is now, and recalling how the weaning process went back then.  It was obviously a very different scenario than where we are right now.  Back then I was over a year into nursing, getting to the end of having to pump at work and slowly dropping feedings.  We had supplemented a bit with formula all along once Jacob started daycare, and that's what he had at mealtime later on, as well.  We started transitioning him over to milk right when he turned one, and in general things were very smooth and pretty natural.  It was actually a pretty great experience overall.

This time around we've got about 10 months and dozens of cans of expensive formula under our belts in the formula feeding world.  It's been a very different experience, and while I appreciated breastfeeding the first time around, I do think formula feeding was far less stressful for me, in so many ways.  Yes, I cringed every time I hit "Submit" on another Target.com order for four cans of formula, but I'm thankful I haven't spent the last 10 months battling my body or awkwardly hiding from Jacob or trying to time things just so.  That's not to say I wouldn't have gladly done it again had going dairy-free not been such a challenge (ironic, though, considering the big change we had a few months later...but thank goodness I'm not juggling both!), but in this instance it worked out fine.

However, this time things feel decidedly less natural (surprise!) and I feel like I have no idea how to wean.  To be fair, there are certain complications this time around.  First, knowing for sure that Carter had a cow's milk protein intolerance has made transitioning much more of a process.  For a while I was convinced he was having similar reactions to dairy as he was to rice, but whether that was just circumstances (stomach bug, congestion causing ill-timed coughing fits, reflux--all leading to large spit-ups) or a legitimate issue that has since gone away, I'm not sure.   So finding the right time to test out dairy took a lot longer and involved a lot more courage.  Even now we're dealing with some insecurity.  Earlier this week, Carter threw up a little two nights in a row after his night bottle.  I was concerned yet again that he was reacting to the milk I was putting in his bottle, but in the end it appears it was because Wegmans didn't flavor his nightly reflux medicine.  It's a note in their system but apparently easy to pass over.  He used to fight me on it all the time, but in the couple months since we've been getting it flavored, apparently he's acquired a complete aversion to it.  It made him gag, which then primed him to throw up later.  Since we took it back and got it flavored he's been fine, so I guess that was it.  Bullet dodged, for sure.

Another issue is that Carter is already awfully skinny.  He's tall (nearly 29.75 inches--50th percentile) but he's thin (17 lbs. 12 oz. - between the 5th and 10th percentile), and I worry about any changes causing him to lose weight.  Everything in my head is saying, "More calories!" but around this age the goal is usually to start dropping feedings and replacing it with table food.  But based on what I can get in his mouth in an average table food meal vs. a bottle feeding, I feel like he's going to be missing out.  I know kids eat when they're hungry, but Jacob never really cared much about food and could probably go much longer without eating than would be wise.  Carter has generally been much better with eating, though the last few days have been a challenge.  I'm not sure if he's getting sick of the same foods, or if something else is bothering him, like his molars or, again--God forbid--the whole milk I've been putting in his bottles.  Perhaps his birthday cake spoiled him forever and steamed veggies just don't cut it!  But prior to this week, he'd been amazing.  He loves meat, ate most veggies that I put in front of him, and could probably down as many pieces of cereal or yogurt melts as I could offer.  I gave him yogurt last Saturday, too, and he downed the entire thing in a few minutes.  I couldn't shovel it in fast enough.  Of course, he refused the exact same stuff on Monday, so again, no idea what's happening there. 

We've made some headway this week on having him drink milk at mealtimes, but he is still having trouble with the angle he has to hold the sippy cup.  I may try a straw cup, but I'm not sure if he'll pick that up, either.  I know he still loves his bottles, and I swear he just wants to do it that way more than anything.

One of the funny things that I realized while reading my old posts is that nursing provided a lot more motivation to stop than bottle feeding.  Right now the big drawback of bottle feeding is washing bottles each night.  But with nursing, stopping brought the prospect of being done with lugging around my pump, not having to wash pump parts AND bottles each night, and getting my body back for real.  Normal bras, normal birth control, and no more engorgement.  All of that was much more enticing.  Finishing up nursing and bottle feeding both bring an end to a special bond.  Even though bottle feeding isn't quite as intimate as nursing, I still love my nightly snuggle with Carter as he drinks his bottle.  I love how eager he is to eat and how he holds his own bottle, and I worry about how much he will miss his bottles when we try to transition away from them.  In both cases the night feeding will probably be the last to go, but this time around weaning off of the other ones is really vexing me a bit because he loves them so much.

I have noticed lately that he doesn't always want to drink his full bottle.  Often he will leave an ounce or two behind, which almost never used to happen.  So that tells me that he's slowly transitioning into needing less at a sitting.  That's fine, but again, I worry about withholding enough nourishment from him overall, and I just don't feel like I'm equipped with the right combination of volume, variety, and nutrition for him to replace the milk.  Now that we're mostly past baby-specific foods I don't feel so oppressed by the rice intolerance, but then again, I'm still forced to make him separate dinners from us because most of what we eat has rice due to the gluten-free limitations we have.  So instead of being able to use our dinners as inspiration for giving him new things, I feel like I have a very specific group of foods he can eat and we're sort of stuck there until the rice intolerance passes.  I really wish we could test it out, but I can't willingly make him sick.  Not yet, at least.

Anyway, it's just amazing to me how different this process is this time around, for so many reasons.  I've said from the beginning how different my two kids are, and this is no exception.  While I don't exactly love our limitations this time around, and contrary to how this post probably sounds, I think I'm still taking things in stride pretty well.  I guess I figure we'll get there eventually because these sorts of things always seem to work themselves out.  Even if it's not exactly at the best time, we will get there when we're all ready.  Every kid is different, and Carter will get there in the end, even if he takes a much different path than his brother.  I won't miss the formula itself, nor the bottle washing every night, but life will never be the same once our nighttime snuggle feeding gives way to a big boy bedtime.  Sigh.