Friday, February 25, 2011

C-Section: The Ugly Side

This post is long long long, but I left a lot of details out of Kermit's birth story, and I need to get them written down somewhere I can read them later. (But, I didn't want them integrated with his birth if they didn't have to be, because ick! let's focus on the cute baby for that one!) Details like, in what ways did it matter that I didn't give birth vaginally? How was the c-section? Did they put everything back where it goes, or is my bladder in a subtly different place than it was before?

The answers are: Lots of ways. It sucked. Things definitely feel a bit scrambled in there.

More details? Yes, I do have more details! If you insist.

First, I'll just mention that the nurses at my hospital are clearly not used to dealing with women who do not want a c-section, despite a non-trivial number of women attempting VBACs at this hospital on a regular basis. I can't possibly be the only woman they've ever dealt with who wanted a vaginal birth but didn't get one. And yet every nurse greeted me with something along the lines of, "You're here for your scheduled c-section! You must be very excited to be having surgery today instead of going through all the hassle of a vaginal birth!" When the first person said this, I didn't respond, because my eyes filled with tears and I didn't trust myself to speak. With the second person, I informed her that I actually would prefer the hassle, thankyouverymuch, but it didn't end up being feasible for me. I'm not sure how I expected her to respond to this... probably something like, "Oh, I'm sorry it didn't work out. We'll do our best to make this experience as positive for you as we can." That would have been reassuring. Instead, she tried to convince me that this way would be so much easier and more convenient for me. Which was exactly why I was upset, so it was exactly the wrong thing to say. Anyway, that nurse must have made a note in my file ("Crazy woman wanted VBAC instead of the nice convenient surgery") because every other nurse who came into my room, even ones who were just dropping off linens, gave me a speech that started with, "So I understand that you're a little reluctant about your c-section today" and then proceeded to tell me why surgery was oh so very convenient. In a voice that very much implied that only a naive little girl would be reluctant to give birth surgically.


I'm definitely not a granola hippie type person, and I've always shrugged off people who believe that giving birth in a hospital automatically means that you'll be steamrolled by the uncaring medical establishment, blah blah blah. That whole outlook on hospital births was nothing like my experience giving birth to LL -- I had a doctor who listened to me, provided me with well-researched information, and ultimately let me call the shots about my own care; I had supportive nurses who asked how I wanted to be treated with regards to labor assistance, and then followed through on my wishes; the default behavior at the hospital is that all babies room in with their mothers; fathers are considered on equal footing with mothers, and are thus not considered "guests," which means that they can always spend the night if they want to; it is assumed that all mothers will breast feed, and formula is never offered unless it is explicitly requested by the parents. Basically, everything that the anti-hospital-birth people complain about... none of it matched with my experience with LL. But hearing nurse after nurse try to convince me of the virtues of a c-section, when I very obviously did not want it... um, yeah, I get it now.

Anyway, once everything was set for the c-section, I managed to get myself into a good mental place where I just wanted to meet little Kermit, regardless of how it happened. The c-section was, ultimately, medically necessary, so let's just go ahead and do it. And as I mentioned in Kermit's birth story, my hospital actually does a lot of things to make it easier on c-section moms, so that they don't miss out on as much of the post-birth stuff. A lot of these polices were actually new since LL was born, so I was pleasantly surprised. For example, when LL was born, he was immediately whisked off to the nursery. The nurse held him up next to me for 10 seconds so that I could get a quick glimpse and S could snap a quick picture of me with him, and then I didn't see him for nearly an hour, during which he was weighed and examined and bathed and dressed and everything else they do during those first precious minutes. I hate the one photo I have of me with LL immediately after his birth. The nurse was holding him at an angle to get us both in the photo, but that meant that I couldn't actually see him at all. In the photo, I'm trying to smile for the photo, but it looks like a horrible grimace because I'm really attempting to crane my neck to see his face, which is exceedingly difficult to do while you're unable to move and someone two feet away is still holding your uterus outside of your body. This time around, I got to see him as he was being born. He was cleaned up ever so slightly, the bare necessity of stuff was done (apgar scores and very little else) and then he was brought immediately to my side, where I got to touch him and hold him and stroke his face for as long as I wanted. They didn't do anything else to him until after my surgery was over, so that I could take part. Fantastic improvement over LL's birth.

Before having this c-section, Dr. M had assured me that a lot of things would be better than LL's birth. Since this was a scheduled c-section, instead of an "OMG, after 23 hours of labor the baby is stuck like a big round peg in a much smaller pelvic opening and he's turning purple we have to get him out now" c-section, the surgery itself would be much easier. None of that "push the baby back out of the birth canal so we can reach him" stuff that made my recovery the first time oh-so-fun. None of the body trauma from the long labor and several hours of pushing. Easier surgery. Easier recovery. He promised.

To summarize: that was not my experience.

This c-section was definitely completely different than what I remember with LL, but not in a good way. The birth itself was very similar, but once the baby was out, things diverge tremendously. I remember feeling very little during the 30 minutes it took to close me up last time; I mostly remember being rather bored and wanting to get out of there so that I could see my baby. This time around, I was consumed with the terrible tugging and pulling going on at my lower half. It felt awful. It's hard to describe the sensation of your body being tugged and pulled in a million different directions, internally, while you're unable to move. I can't use the word "painful" because the spinal does block pain down there, but it was intensely uncomfortable and unsettling. I also started feeling dizzy, and out of the corner of my eye, I watched my own stats on the monitor to see my blood pressure dropping down down down.

The anesthesiologist offered to give me something to make me sleep through the rest of the surgery, but I declined, because I wanted to be completely alert as soon as they were done, so that I could nurse. A few minutes later, I started to experience horrible chest pain that got worse and worse. I panicked a bit because, um, what happened to not feeling any pain? The anesthesiologist added some other type of pain killer, which dulled it a bit (he promised it was referred pain, and not a heart attack, which is what it felt like) but it also made me even more dizzy, and my blood pressure continued to drop. The tugging and rummaging seemed to go on and on, as I repeatedly asked how many more layers they had to go. It really sucked. Which surprised me, because I expected the recovery to suck, but not the actual procedure. Over and over in my head was the thought that thank goodness Kermit was here and healthy, but this whole surgery thing was clearly a mistake. I just desperately wanted to be out of there.

When I finally got to recovery, all I wanted to do was to sit up and nurse Kermit. When they took my stats, though, they discovered that my blood pressure was still very very low, and my temperature was also low and continuing to drop. They would let me sit up a little, I would get very dizzy, and they would immediately lie me back down. Thus, my first nursing experience with Kermit involved me lying flat on my back with hot towels wrapped around my head in an effort to bring up my core body temperature. (It didn't work; when I left the recovery room two hours later, my body temp was still hovering near 95, which is a bit insane, and my blood pressure was barely double digits. In retrospect, I'm not sure how I was even conscious.)

I was in that condition for the rest of the day. My L&D nurse asked me what one thing she could do for me that would make my life better, and I said, "I want to get up and walk around!" Nope, not gonna happen. "How about at least letting me sit up?" And she looked at my stats, and smiled apologetically, and asked if there was anything she could do for me that wouldn't make me faint. (Side note: I'm lying in a bed with rails. Why does it matter if I faint? It's not like I'm going to fall into anything or bump my head, and I'm sure I'd come around again eventually. I'm kidding, but only barely.)

Anyway, the surgery sucked. I'm not a squeamish person; I can watch my own blood being drawn, and I have no fear of surgery or anesthesia or any of the rest of it. Yet the last 30 minutes or so of Kermit's c-section ended up being one of the more terrifying things I've ever been through, as the chest pain consumed me and my abdomen was pummeled from within and I thought I was going to pass out and my blood pressure dropped lower and lower. And the rest of that day, as I struggled to sit up despite continuing low blood pressure and low temperatures, also sucked.

The next morning, my stats were still low, but no longer in the scary range, and I was allowed to sit up and eat a little and get out of bed. After LL's birth, this was when things were just starting to suck, because the recovery from labor + surgery was long and hard. But I'd been promised that recovery this time around would be much easier, so part of me actually started feeling like maybe the worst was behind me. Except that my recovery was worse than last time, too, for unknown reasons. It does seem to have been faster -- I wasn't able to move around normally until 8 weeks last time, which meant two full months of no driving and no lifting things and trouble standing up or getting out of bed. This time around, I felt like I reached 85% recovery by the one-month mark, and I kind of ignored that last 15% and just returned to my life, so that was definitely an improvement. But that first month was much worse than last time. It's almost as if my two months of pain from last time was just intensified and shoved into a shorter period of time. Is that better and easier? Um.... not sure. I was definitely in a lot more pain for that entire month. But maybe it's just an indication that, last time, I got off easy.

I had my six weeks post-partum appointment last week, and I know that I'm definitely better now than I was at six weeks post-partum with LL, so I guess that's something. And the remaining effects from the surgery (loss of nerve sensitivity for several inches around the incision; intense pain on my lower left side when I do anything more strenuous than walk from the living room to the bathroom; extremely weak ab muscles that give out when I carry Kermit for more than five minutes) are apparently completely normal, and can be expected to continue for another 4-6 weeks.

So, overall, while I'm thrilled that Kermit is here and healthy (recent hospitalization for respiratory distress aside), and that I will eventually be completely healthy as well, I can't say that things went as I expected. And while I'm grateful that c-sections are an option -- having a c-section certainly saved both my life and LL's life two years ago -- I'm left wondering why the hell anyone would choose a surgical birth voluntarily. S and I haven't decided yet whether we will someday want to try to have a third child, but I hate beyond measure that my birth experience with Kermit is inevitably going to color that decision for us.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

LL's First Joke

Today LL invented his very first joke! We're very proud of him. Are you ready?

"What color is Baba's car?"


Insert hysterical toddler laughter here!

You see, it's funny because everybody knows that Baba's car is actually white.

The best part of the joke is watching the totally evil look on LL's face when he says what he knows to be the wrong answer, then tries for all of one second to suppress his laughter.

He followed it up with these gems:

"Mommy's car is blue!" (My car is actually gray.)

"Daddy's car is blue!" (S's car is green.)

"LL's car is blue!" (If LL had a car, I'm pretty sure that it would be red.)

He practically fell off his chair laughing at that last one. Then he very soberly informed us of the correct colors of each of the cars, because jokes are always funnier if you explain the punchline.

Let the years of bad knock-knock jokes begin....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kermit's Birth Story

I've obviously been distracted for a while now, what with the extra work of keeping my kids out of the hospital and stuff, but I didn't want to wait much longer to get Kermit's birth story written down. So here it is, in way too much detail, the story of Kermit's entry into the world.

We had a relatively normal morning, getting LL ready for the day. I had become ridiculously emotional the night before, and that continued into the morning. Every time I tried to talk to LL, I started crying. I'm honestly not even sure why. But I kept sitting down with him on my lap to try to explain to him what was going to be happening over the next few days, and every single time, I had to do it through tears. We'd spent the last two weeks having these conversations once or twice a day, where I would explain to him that very soon, Mommy and Daddy were going to go away for a few days, and he would get to stay home and play with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma would dress him and change his diapers and read to him and rock him and put him down for bed and feed him (even special treats like yogurt shakes and french fries!) and it would be tons of fun. And after a few days, Mommy and Daddy would come back home again, because even though Mommy and Daddy leave sometimes, Mommy and Daddy always come back home. Each time I explained this to him, he would nod his head and say that he understood, and I just hoped that after hearing it a dozen times, it would actually sink in. So, I gave him my speech one final time, through a few tears, and he nodded his head and patted my leg and asked if the baby was coming home. All good. After breakfast, my mom drove LL to Natasha's at more or less the normal time, and he waved and blew me kisses from the car as they drove away. S and I took a few minutes to finish packing up our stuff, and at 10:00, we left for the hospital.

After an emotionally tumultuous evening, I felt more and more calm the closer we got to the c-section. I still wasn't thrilled with how things were going, but I was slowly moving past the disappointment and focusing on the joy of finally meeting our little Kermit. We checked in at the hospital, got settled in an L&D room, and began all of the random things that you have to do to prepare for surgery. (Undress, sign forms, answer tons of questions in triplicate, start an IV.) The IV took several attempts by several people, and ultimately the anesthesiologist had to do it himself, and it took him two tries. One person remarked that it appeared that I did not have a circulatory system, though I assured her that I was fairly certain that I did. It reminded me of my ultrasound 3 weeks earlier, when the technician couldn't find my cervix. I had to reassure her, too, that I was fairly certain it was there, since the baby had not fallen out yet.

Eventually, S and I were left alone, as the IV pumped me full of fluids and we waited for the appointed time. I surprised myself by how calm I was by the time we moved to the operating room. Time to get the show on the road!

Getting the spinal was relatively easy, and I was shocked by how quickly it began to numb my legs. I literally felt the cold spread downwards as I slowly lost sensation. I wasn't quite prepared, though, for how much I was still able to feel. I seemed to recall my epidural at LL's birth blocking just about everything during the c-section -- even when I was warned to expect some pressure at the moment when they took him out, I only really noticed it because it moved my whole body a bit. This time, I spent the entire surgery completely aware that people were rummaging around inside of me. It wasn't painful exactly, but supremely uncomfortable and unsettling.

After 10 minutes or so, Dr. M announced that he was ready to get Kermit out. At my repeated insistent request, they lowered the curtain for me so that I could see him emerge, which was incredible. (I had asked Dr. M about this possibility several weeks ago, and he told me that it would be fine, but to remind him on the day of the c-section. I mentioned it to the anesthesiologist when he was talking to me about the spinal that morning, and he balked and said, "No way!" I sputtered a bit and tried to get him to discuss it with me, but finally just dropped it until Dr. M came into the operating room, at which point I brought it up yet again. Dr. M immediately said, "Sure, that's fine!" and told the anesthesiologist to be sure to lower the curtain at the appropriate time. Score one for speaking up for yourself!)

I didn't get to see LL until after he was washed and swaddled, so it was wonderful for me to be able to see Kermit while he was still attached to his umbilical cord, all naked and alien gray and covered in schmutz, hands clenched in angry fists and squawking in surprise. And at that moment, his method of birth didn't matter. Or rather, it mattered, but it wasn't the earth-shattering disappointment that it seemed the day before. I'm still sad that it happened this way, and I feel like I still need to mourn never getting the opportunity to progress naturally and give birth vaginally, but seeing my brand new son in his very first second of life did indeed heal the worst of the resentment.

Kermit was cleaned up ever so slightly, the bare necessity of stuff was done (apgar scores and very little else) and then he was brought immediately to my side. The nurse supported his body while lying his head on my chest, allowing me to watch him and kiss him and stroke his face with my hand and count his fingers for as long as I wanted. And S and Kermit and I got to spend quite a while staring at each other and murmuring over our perfect little baby. When Kermit was put back in his bassinet, it was only to go with S to my recovery room, where S got to bond with him undisturbed while they waited for my surgery to end. Only after I joined them in the recovery room did the nurses do the rest of the post-birth stuff like weighing and bathing, so that I could observe everything.

Meanwhile, Dr. M and his team were putting me back together. I'm going to skip over that part for now, because it sucked. I'll leave the sucky things for a different post.

When I got to recovery, I asked for Kermit to be unwrapped so that I could hold him on my chest skin to skin while he was still all new and alert, something that I never got to do with LL until an hour or so later. The nurse wanted to bathe him, but cheerfully agreed when I said that I would prefer to nurse him first. And so I got to cuddle my naked little Kermit on my chest and watch him root and twist his way to my breast, where he latched on almost immediately.

After that, we did the usual things you do post-birth. Snuggled Kermit. Called the relatives. Chose a little knit hat for him to wear in the hospital. Remarked about who he looks like (more S than me, but just barely) and what color his eyes are (steely gray) and the incredible quantity of hair (dark and curly, as expected).

The extra fun ending to the birth story: once we were all moved from recovery into the room on the maternity ward where we would be staying for the next several days, our newly assigned nurse smiled at the three of us and said, "All settled?" At which point, right on cue, we had an earthquake. Yes, an actual earthquake. I was on a wheeled hospital bed, so I thought that somebody had just kicked the bed really hard for no good reason, and I was a bit confused about why somebody would do something so mean to a woman who just had surgery, but then S looked around and asked if anyone else felt something, and we all realized what was going on. At the tender age of almost-exactly-three-hours old, Kermit experienced his first earthquake. A magnitude 4.1, for those of you keeping score at home. That number will either make you say, "Wow, that sounds big!" or "Wow, I'm surprised you felt it at all!" depending on whether you've ever lived around earthquakes and how well you understand logarithms.

Welcome to the world, Kermit! Life is full of surprises.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Home Again Home Again

Quick update: we're home, thank goodness. Kermit isn't completely out of the woods, but he was stable enough and on the road to recovery so that they discharged us from the hospital Saturday night. We had a follow-up with Dr. K on Sunday morning, where we briefly thought that she was going to re-admit him, but all is well. He's still a bit weak, but he's eating better and breathing a little easier. And the fever is gone. And his oxygen saturation is staying a bit more stable, though it's still lower than we would like. We're checking back in with Dr. K tomorrow, just to make sure that Kermit is headed in the right direction.

In a twist that would only be achieved by a newborn, Kermit began social smiling while in the hospital. I mean seriously, who smiles, much less for the first time, while in the hospital?

The decision we need to make now is what to do about our upcoming trip for S's sister's wedding. We had been planning to fly, but I'm starting to have concerns about trapping Kermit in a plane with 300 strangers and recirculated air for several hours. We could drive instead, but it's a 14 hour trip, and that's a long time to spend in a car with a toddler and a newborn. Dr. K says that Kermit will probably be well enough by then that we don't need to worry about flying. But nothing puts a mother's nerves on edge quite like several days in the hospital with a one-month-old.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Nothing quite like the feeling of finding out that you've been focusing on exactly the wrong things.

Last weekend, both my kids got sick. LL was a feverish toddler mess, but he had weathered colds before, and I figured this one wouldn't be any different. Kermit's symptoms were newer and more mild, yet he was the one I was concerned about. I knew the drill with toddler colds -- you bring them to the pediatrician, and then you listen to the lecture about how viruses just need to run their course, take them home, keep them hydrated, nothing else to be done. It almost always feels like a wasted trip. Kermit, however, was barely one month old. Surely a cold in a one-month-old deserves a bit more professional attention!

So Monday morning, I called and made an appointment for Kermit to see Dr. K. And as an afterthought, I checked with the advice nurse to see if maybe possibly it might be a good idea to bring in LL as well? I expected the "don't be a hyper-protective mother" speech, but instead the nurse rather pointedly mentioned that lying on a couch for four days without playing or eating isn't exactly normal behavior for a two-year-old, so yes, bring him along to the appointment.

When Dr. K entered the exam room, my speech to her went something like this: "Kermit has the sniffles, and he doesn't have a fever or anything, but he's coughing, and he's only four weeks old, and I'm really concerned about him. Also, LL has been a feverish mess for four days and counting, but I'm sure he'll be fine soon." And then she examined both of them, and said, "Sorry, he has pneumonia." And I said, "Oh my goodness, Kermit has pneumonia?!?!" And she gave me the oddest look in the world, and I'm paraphrasing here, but she said something along the lines of, "No, you dolt, I'm talking about LL! You know, the one who's really acting sick! Kermit just has a cold, and it'll run its course, keep him hydrated, call if it gets worse. But LL, goodness gracious, he's really sick!"

Anyway, I felt like an idiot, because the whole time that LL had been sick, I'd been focused on making sure that he didn't pass it to Kermit. And not only did I fail at that (as if there were any doubt that Kermit would catch LL's cold) but I had somehow totally glossed over how very sick LL was. I was completely focused on the wrong kid.

So, I spent the next several days obsessing over every detail of LL's recovery. Was his fever dropping? Was he drinking enough? Was he eating more? Exactly how much more active was he than he was the day before? On Wednesday morning, Dr. K called to check on the kids. And I gushed over how much better LL was compared to when she saw him on Monday. As for Kermit... well, he wasn't getting better, but he wasn't getting worse. You know how colds are, they need to run their course.

By Thursday morning, however, as I gleefully dressed LL to head to Natasha's because he was remarkably and gloriously better, I looked down at Kermit and realized that he hadn't really eaten much the night before. And he'd spit up massive amounts of milk at his last several feedings, even though he's generally not a spitty baby. And he had been fussing at every feeding since Wednesday afternoon. And he seemed to be sleeping more than usual. I'd told Dr. K on Wednesday morning that he wasn't getting any worse, but by Thursday morning, I had a sinking feeling that he actually was getting worse now, and maybe we should bring him back to be seen.

I made a follow-up appointment for Kermit for Thursday afternoon. When I made the appointment, I kind of thought (again) that I was doing the over-protective mother thing, but by the afternoon I was glad that we were going. Still, I felt a bit silly leaving the kid with pneumonia to fend for himself at daycare while I brought the kid with the run-of-the-mill cold back to the pediatrician.

Then again, Dr. K never once said this about LL, but she said it about Kermit on Thursday afternoon: "Sorry, but this baby can't go home with you today. He needs to get to the hospital. We're calling an ambulance to take him there. Right now."

For several days, I had obsessed about Kermit's cold and missed that LL had pneumonia. And I then over-compensated and fixated so much on getting LL over his pneumonia that I completely missed that Kermit had suddenly, very suddenly, gotten a heck of a lot worse. For the second time in one week, I was focused on the wrong kid.

I'm currently admitted to Children's Hospital with Kermit, while LL is at home with his grandmother. I totally didn't see it coming, but my toddler with pneumonia is at home without his mommy because, remarkably, he is not the sickest child I have. We think that Kermit has some sort of respiratory infection, probably RSV, but we don't know for sure quite yet. His oxygen levels keep dropping, so he's getting help breathing, which thankfully is giving him enough of a boost that he has also started eating more. We've been told that he will be here for at least two days, probably more. S keeps telling me that I should feel proud of myself for realizing that Kermit was getting worse and insisting that he be seen; apparently when I made the follow-up appointment, S thought I was being silly and that Kermit was just fine. And yet, I cannot shake the feeling that I'm failing miserably at the mommy-to-two-children thing, because I can apparently only pay attention to one of them at a time, and it always seems to be the wrong one.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Good and the Bad

First, the good news:

The Packers won the Super Bowl! The Packers won the Super Bowl! The Packers won the Super Bowl! The smallest town with a professional sports team in the US has defeated the mighty Big City! The Lombardi Trophy is back in Title Town! Cheeseheads rule the earth!!!

Now, the bad news:

Our house has been hit with the plague. I mentioned that LL was feeling a bit sluggish and under the weather on Friday? He continued to spend 100% of his time with his feverish little body draped over me all day Saturday. And all day Sunday. After breaking out the animated movies Friday and Saturday, we switched to football on Sunday. This was absolutely a one-time-only, just-because-LL-was-sick sort of thing (definitely not something that I would have done under normal conditions, even with my Packers in the Super Bowl) but we watched eight hours of pre-game shows on Sunday. Eight hours! Do you know what people have to resort to in order to fill eight hours of pre-game? Let's interview every player on both teams, even people you've never heard of. Let's interview people who used to play for both teams but don't anymore. Let's interview people who have ever played in a Super Bowl. Let's discuss exactly how much of a jerk Ben Roethlisberger is, and whether anyone cares. Did you know that it's really cold in Dallas? Let's talk about that for a while. Here's the history of the cheesehead. Here's the history of the terrible towel. Did you know that the Packers coach grew up in Pittsburgh? Let's find out which team his former neighbors are cheering for! Did you know that Michael Douglas is cheering for Pittsburgh? Did you know that Catherine Zeta Jones is a huge Green Bay fan, because she really likes cheese? Did you know that John Madden, George W. Bush, and Cameron Diaz sat together at the Super Bowl? Does anyone who is not literally being held down against their will by a toddler actually care about all of this??? And then, when all eight hours of pre-game were over, we still had a full Super Bowl to watch. With commercials. All told, we watched 12 hours of football on Sunday. I am now officially footballed out.

Normally for LL, watching NFL games is a full-body sport. He runs when the players run. He falls down when they're tackled. He does all the referee hand motions. He yells, "Touchdown!" and "First down!" and "Go Pack!" But for this Super Bowl, he sat quietly on the couch with his head buried in a pillow. When the Packers scored a touchdown, we got a faint smile, but he didn't even have the energy to lift his arms for the signal. I convinced him to eat an Oreo cookie, and it was the only food he'd eaten since Friday. Really pathetic.

Also, by Sunday morning, both Kermit and I also had coughs, congestion, and slight fevers, so nobody was having very much fun. S was still healthy, so he was hiding out as far away from the rest of us as he could manage.

When nobody was any better Monday morning, we went to the pediatrician with both kids. Kermit has a run-of-the-mill cold. Except that he's barely one month old, and no cold is run-of-the-mill at that age. We're keeping a close eye on him.

LL's cold has progressed to pneumonia. And an ear infection. He's on antibiotics. We're trying to convince him that he needs both food and oxygen to survive, but he's not getting very much of either one right now.

I was told to provide LL with whatever he needs most (to sit in my lap, 24 hours a day) and to provide Kermit with whatever he needs most (to nurse every hour, 24 hours a day) and to be sure to get plenty of sleep so that I recover, too. Anybody notice how completely incompatible those things are?

And the kicker: the pediatrician suspected that this might not actually be a run-of-the-mill cold at all. She thought that it might be whooping cough. (Yes, LL and I are both vaccinated against it, but this particular vaccine is notoriously unreliable, so it was a very real possibility.) We were in panic mode until this morning, when we got the lab results that came up negative (thankfully). But if nobody's better by next week, our pediatrician wants to re-run the test, because it apparently has a high false negative rate.

But hey, at least the Packers won, right?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Trial by Feverish Fire

My mom has been staying with us and helping out since before Kermit was born. She's planning to stay until Kermit is 6 weeks old, since that is when I'll be able to lift LL again. She's been doing a lot of cooking and shopping for us, as well as helping a lot with LL. But she also promised to attend my nephew's birthday party this weekend, so she left on Thursday to go there, with plans to return to our house Sunday night. Thus, S and I would be on our own with both kids for four days, our first time ever.

The idea was for this to be a very light practice run of life with two kids. My mom prepared several meals before she left, another friend was planning to bring us dinner on Friday, and we had a small Super Bowl party planned for Sunday (Go Pack Go!) which would provide some extra hands and entertainment for LL. Still, we were a little nervous about being on our own, since we've gotten used to having my mom around to help.

Mom left Thursday morning, and the rest of Thursday went just fine. We got dinner on the table on time, and got both kids to bed with relative ease. S and I were actually feeling pretty good about ourselves! Until 1am or so, when LL woke up crying. S went to check on him to discover that he was burning up with fever. Great.......

All of Friday and Saturday have been spent trying to soothe a sick sick sick toddler while also trying desperately to keep him and his germs away from not-yet-one-month-old Kermit. For me, this has meant sitting on the couch holding LL and watching movies, then handing him off to S while I scrub myself raw to try to decontaminate myself before feeding Kermit, hoping that my breast milk has enough antibodies in it to help him to fight off the cold, then handing Kermit back to S so that I can go back to snuggling LL until Kermit's next feeding.

Before this illness, LL had seen exactly one movie in his entire life (I was heavily pregnant and exhausted and home alone with him, and it was the only way he would let me lie on the couch for 90 minutes). In the last two days, he has seen eight movies. Er, three movies, repeated several times. (Four viewings of Finding Nemo ("fish movie"), three Kiki's Delivery Service ("train movie"), and one Beauty and the Beast.) He insists on being in physical contact with me the entire time, alternating being in my lap, over my shoulder, and lying with his head on my legs. When I need to get up to feed Kermit, LL lies pathetically on the couch asking me when I'll be coming back to him. I swear I saw heat plumes rising from his feverish little body. (103.5 midday today, and that was after being dosed with Tylenol.) The only food I've gotten him to eat has been a yogurt shake that he sipped throughout the day, along with as much juice and water as I could force into him, because he's getting awfully dehydrated.

Luckily, Kermit seems happy being held all day by S. (If he were old enough to have a parent preference, I don't know what I'd do, because LL has been refusing all comfort from S and insisting on being held by me.) Unsurprisingly, I am now developing a cough and sore throat, which we're hoping will skip both Kermit and S. I'm a little fuzzy on the science, but my being sick means that there will be additional antibodies in my breast milk, which should provide additional protection for Kermit, right?

One particularly sad side effect of all of this is that we've had to cancel our Super Bowl party. The last time my Packers were in the Super Bowl, I watched the game in my dorm room and made all my friends chip in a few bucks for the meager snacks that I bought for the occasion (most of the food had been stolen from the dorm dining hall). In other words, I've been waiting a long, long time to host a real Super Bowl party featuring my Green Bay Packers. Instead, the four of us will be watching it quietly at home. If I can keep the coughing, sneezing, and feverish delirium to a minimum, it will hopefully still be a good time for all. In the mean time, we're all counting down the minutes until my mom gets back to make us a giant pot of matzo ball soup.

Go Pack!