Juggling Multiples In Urgent Care Situations

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Categories Childcare, Medical23 Comments

I talk to my mom just about every day. Which is why I’m scratching my head as to why FIVE DAYS WENT BY before I knew that my 11 month old nephew had been taken to the emergency room for a last-ditch treatment for a case of seal-barking croup.

He ended up there late last Tuesday upon the recommendation of the pediatrician, after efforts to calm his coughing proved ineffective. A long evening, short-term admission, and heavy duty breathing treatments later, my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew headed home. Tired, but on the mend.

As I was discussing the blasphemy of such delayed information dissemination with my partner, the conversation moved quickly from vilifying grandma to asking one another: “What would we do if something like that happened with us?” And I’m talking single event situations, as opposed to longer-term illnesses, because that’s a whole different ball o wax.

As with most readers of this blog, unlike my brother, we have two or more child(ren) to address and waking/taking the doing-just-fine kiddle is not going to pay off. And if you do go as a family, you better have banked the mental cost of jacking with more than one child’s routine. And what we decided – as well as you can go on deciding without going through it -was the following:

For semi-planned urgent care, one stays and one goes. Such as with X and croup, one of us would stay with the better kid, while the other of us (probably me, since i used to work in the healthcare industry) would take the not-better kid to the hospital. We’d keep in touch via calls and text messages. But to us, it would be important to keep one parent and the other child(ren) with as much rest and as little routine disruption as possible.

For unplanned urgent care/emergencies, same thing. This would be something like big falls or a need for stitches or something of the sort. While it would be poopy for one of us not to be there, keeping things moving with the well kid is equally important.

For rapid-onset illness, one stays and one goes, but the one staying is making plans to go. That means the stayed-homer would shore up plans, clothing, materials, childcare, and phone calls to family, then joining the other and sick child as soon as possible.

For critical illness or injury, we’d probably both go immediately after calling upon godparents (we should probably inform them of this, no?) or friends to stay with the well child until the situation was stable.

We also have a good circle of neighborhood friends who could likely step up in a time of crisis, as well as godparents and a set of grandparents that live within 30 miles. Of course, under any of the above scenarios, it’s possible that we’d have no choice but to take the well kid, too. And we’d figure things out from there.

We are immeasurably blessed and grateful to have emerged this side of infancy without major incident [warning: we’re entering toddlerhood], but I also know these things can be inevitable at some point in time. Certainly, there isn’t a wrong way or a right way to handle a childcare situation when one of the children falls ill/injured. But to the extent that we can somewhat prepare, the smoother the chaos can be.

For those who have had an urgent/emergent care incident, how did you handle the other child(ren)? Did you have a loosely organized plan as to how to handle a situation like that? What would you differently?

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Rachel is a mom who managed to survive the first year with twins, but hold the applause because the second year has only just begun. You can read more about their adventures on her blog.

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Diagnosis:Hypochondria

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Categories Medical, Mommy Issues7 Comments

First, let me give credit where credit is due.  My husband is the one who actually came up with the idea for this post.  The idea came to him following a recent discussion we had after I observed both of my girls sneezing.

Ella: (Sneeze).
Amelia: (Sneeze).
Me: Ugh!  Do you think they might have the Swine Flu?
J: Um, no, I do not think they have the Swine Flu.  I do think there might be something wrong with you, though.

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I can be a bit of a nervous Nelly, especially when it comes to all things medical.  I have self-diagnosed myself with a myriad of conditions over the years.  And, yes, I am often wrong.  How often, you ask?  Well, if this was a game of baseball, I would be batting about 1 for 1000.  Okay, maybe worse.  But, for the record, my 1 correct diagnosis has more than made up for the other 999 misdiagnoses. 

Between weeks 30 and 32 of my pregnancy with the girls, I started to get itchy.  Really itchy.  I was scratching my belly raw, and my hands and feet would often burn from the intense itching.  After my OB chalked up my symptoms to normal pregnancy-related discomfort, I decided to pay a visit to Dr. Google late one itchy night.  I just typed in “severe itching during pregnancy,” and I had myself a winning diagnosis within seconds of hitting the enter button.  Obstetric cholestasis.  During my 34th week of pregnancy, I was in fact diagnosed (by a real M.D.) with cholestasis, after going to the ER following a particularly sleepless night due to severe itching (and crying!).  Thankfully, with the help of daily liver medicine and bi-weekly non-stress tests, both of my girls were born healthy and with no ill effects.     

Unfortunately, my somewhat casual hobby of misdiagnosing ailments kicked into overdrive shortly after the babies were born.  It didn’t help matters that our pediatrician diagnosed Amelia with torticollis at her two-month check-up.  Torti-what?  Two guesses what I did as soon as I got home from that pediatrician’s appointment?  Yep, I Googled it.  From Amelia’s initial diagnosis until the day she was discharged from physical therapy, I spent countless hours online researching therapies and treatments. 

And, don’t even get me started on ear infections!  The hours I have spent online (okay, and in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office) trying to distinguish between teething symptoms and those of an ear infection are innumerable.  For the record, we have yet to see an ear infection in this house, but I am seriously considering purchasing one of those home ear check machines.  I simply cannot suffer the humiliation of leaving the pediatrician’s office with my tail between my legs one more time, apologizing as I go, “Sorry.  I really thought she had one this time.” 

So, there you have it.  I am a hypochondriac.  Since the girls were born, I have Googled everything (probably more than once!) from “diaper rash” to “teething sypmtoms” to “mucous in a baby’s stool.”  Don’t even ask about that last one.  I actually brought the diaper to the pediatrician’s office.  Long story; see above for similar, humiliating ending.  Anyway, I have come to accept this quirk in my personality, and I can even laugh about it now (obviously, since I am sharing it with the blogosphere!).  While I’ve always had the propensity towards hyphochondria, having twins has just brought it to a whole-new, freakish level. 

Please tell me I am not the only one!  Is some of this just part and parcel of being a first-time mom?  Did having two (or more) babies at once bring out the inner hypochondriac in you, too?

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Phthalate exposure in NICU babies

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Categories Birth Stories, Medical, Mommy Issues4 Comments

My boys were born at 36w3d and each weighed over 6 lbs, but they ended up in NICU for a week due to feeding issues, breathing issues, and weight gain issues. I have since made peace with their stay and the emotional toll it took on me and my husband. I have mourned the loss of a “normal” birth experience. The three years since our short NICU stay has given me ample time to get to a place where I can write that first sentence without tearing up or feeling overly emotional.

Then I read this story on NPR about phthalate exposure in NICU babies. Those little tiny feeding tubes in Nate and Alex’s noses and those IVs? They need soft plastic to function correctly and that soft plastic has been shown to impact sexual development in mice. The study in the article showed phthalates leach out of those tubes and bags into babies.

natealexnicu

The good news? Limited studies have shown no long-term impact to NICU babies. The bad news? “any effect on ICU babies is likely to be subtle — a slight delay in puberty, or fertility problems later in life.” At the end of the day, those tubes saved my boys’ lives. I know this rationally, as a former environmental engineer.  And while obviously much more research is needed into this topic,  I couldn’t help but want to title my post “Insult to Injury.”

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Taking care of one kid

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Categories Behavior, Family, Medical, Preschoolers2 Comments

This is cross-posted from my personal blog, Laura’s Mommy Journal.

When illnesses went around the boys’ infant day care room, they both seemed to get it at the same time. This is how I became a confirmed “rip the band-aid off” parent. Inevitably they were both going to get sick, so I may as well clean up puke/stay up all night with feverish babies/administer medicine all at once. It also meant the house could be de-germified faster and there was no waiting around for the other kid to get sick.

As they grew into toddlers, they actually… gasp… got immune systems (either that or they caught every possible bug EVER in the first two years of their lives). One kid may get something and the other kid never gets it. 99% of the time, Alex is the one who catches the bug and stays at home sick. This is not surprising to me as he is very tactile, touching everything and then putting it into his mouth.

Nate’s pink eye is the first illness in awhile where he has stayed home alone. While Jon and I make a concentrated effort to get alone time with each boy, it is rarely a full day. After yesterday, Jon and I have an all new appreciation for Alex. Poor Alex, getting bossed around by Nate ALL THE TIME. I love love love Nate but that kid CAN TALK and he will not stop talking until he gets what he wants.

After just one day alone with Nate, I completely understand why Alex has become such a fast runner – he needs to get away from Nate’s talking. I also understand why he’s developed the habit of giving in to Nate’s demands – it might be the only way to shut Nate up. And I also understand why Alex gets so cranky when we give him a lot of commands – yet two more people bossing him around?!

As the boys have gotten older, I’ve started to take for granted how much interaction occurs between the two of them that does not involve us. Having Alex out of the house amplified how much verbal interaction Nate needs and how much of that interaction Alex provides for Nate. It was a good reminder what a special relationship siblings have. And it was a good reminder how twins rule in every way.

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True bed rest confession

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Categories Medical, Mommy Issues, Pregnancy23 Comments

(In no way does this post intend to belittle anyone’s experience on bed rest.)

I was on some form of modified or strict bed rest for 14 weeks when I was pregnant with my boys. Fourteen weeks. It was hard, boring, scary, and long. But you know what? I have a secret!

I really miss being the ultimate couch potato.

There are two things I miss so much I could cry. I miss watching hour after hour of television with NO GUILT. With the help of my TiVo boyfriend, I got to watch anything I ever wanted to watch – movies, dramas, reality shows, comedies, baby shows. And the TiVo remote was mine, ALL MINE. No constant whining for Dora when I want to watch Rock of Love (which obviously I do not really watch in front of my boys!). No handing the remote to my husband.

The other part I miss? STUFFING MY FACE. I made the most of my 5000-6000 calories each day. I’d love to say I ate organic and low-fat meals. Nope, I stuffed my face. Lunch was mac and cheese covered in bacon. Afternoon snack was a chocolate milkshake. I lost count of how many large roast beef sandwiches I ate from Arby’s. Arby’s! And I ate every bite with not one single moment of guilt.

Would I ever want to live through that experience again? Absolutely not. But I would love to have just one entire day laying on the couch watching all my shows, stuffing my face, and having someone wait on me hand and foot… all GUILT FREE.

Tell me your true mom confession!

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NPR segment on multiples and infertility

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Categories Higher-Order Multiples, Medical, Mommy Issues, Multiples in the News, Other peopleTags 11 Comments

For all those mothers of multiples (with extra help!) out there, or those that didn’t have help, but are interested anyway, this NPR segment aired Monday. It is on multiples and how they are changing our lives—and I’m pretty sure she’s not talking about the specifics of MY life but the bigger EVERYONE’s. I found it disturbing on a number of levels, but perhaps that’s simply because I’m one of “those moms”, as she discusses, who would rather have had two babies at once than tried to do IVF again? My own personal feelings aside, I’m curious as to what others think of this? There are certainly some interesting ethical dilemmas which are highlighted, but I do think she misses out the positives of twins or more.

http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&prgDate=2-23-2009

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Life Saver

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Categories Medical, ProductsTags , , , 6 Comments

Amidst one of the crazier weeks of my entire life, it’s especially reassuring to find something that will truly make things easier for all of us. It doesn’t happen often, but I have great hopes for this product. My mom witnessed its magic at a hospital recently and thought it was so amazing, she ran out and bought one for us as a Valentine’s Day present (thanks mom!). And without further ado…

The easiest thermometer to ever exist! It’s a temporal scanner device and all you have to do is lightly pass it over the forehead for a temp reading as accurate as a rectal thermometer. Brilliant! I don’t know about you, but it’s never given me much pleasure to take a rectal on my kids. It was one thing when they were infants, but now that they are two…well, you can forget about it. And any prodding to their underarm or ear area is out of the question, too. This is so easy, so quick, and so painless – and you can take their temp without waking them while they are sleeping. Amazing!

It’s a little pricey ($40 range), but if this existed when my kids were born, I would have gladly invested in it. No cleaning with rubbing alcohol necessary. No germ transfer worries. We can all use it, easy peasy.

Here’s to easier times for us all!

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That helpless feeling

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Categories Medical, ToddlersTags , 8 Comments

Our “vacation” down here in semi-sunny Florida has really started off with a bang.  I thought my son sounded like he was getting a little congested on the flight on the way down.  By the next afternoon, we brought him to a pediatric urgent care clinic near my in-laws’ house.

[As a small digression, this was an entirely new experience for me. I don’t know of any urgent care clinics near us in Massachusetts. Our pediatrician’s office has a rotating on-call schedule, and if no one’s on call, then you go to the ER.  This was a brightly colored office, staffed every day until 11PM, in the middle of a strip mall.  Unexpected setting, but pretty good care and child-friendly with TVs playing movies and Dora in each exam room.]

Anyways, the doctor decided it was croup and gave my son some oral steroids and a nebulizer treatment to help clear the airways.  Hard both physically and emotionally to hold a mask over the face of a sick, unhappy toddler.  Though, I must say, having only the one child with me did somehow seem to tap into greater patience reserves…  Treatments went fine, we were sent home with instructions to keep on the Motrin to keep the fever at bay, and just wait it out.

On the plus side, my sweet son might be the most well-tempered sick kid you’ve ever come across. While he clearly isn’t feeling 100%, he’s still smiling and playing and very much enjoyed our trip to the zoo today.  But the cough and the wheezing seemed a bit worse today (and his sister is now starting), and there’s nothing quite so sad as not being able to do a darn thing about it.

Tonight, after he went to bed, it continued to get worse.  He has slept well the last couple of nights, save for a cough here and there, but tonight he’s been a wreck.  My husband went in to get him, and after listening to the poor thing wheeze, has decided to take him back to Urgent Care, maybe for another breathing treatment.

And so, here I sit.  At my in-laws’ house, cell phone by my side. Clearly, one of us had to stay and listen for our daughter, in case she has a rough night, too. (So far, so good.)  I’m sure he’ll be OK, but right now I’m helpless. My sweet boy, who carries a big chunk of my heart outside my chest wherever he is, feels rotten and I can’t kiss it and make it all better.

I know, this isn’t a particularly twin-specific post. I have no advice to give, or questions to ask.  But we’re all moms. We all wish we could take away our kids’ illnesses, pain, or sadness and make it all better with our super-special mommy dust.  And it sucks when we can’t.

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Belly Up

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Categories Medical, Mommy IssuesTags , , , , , , , , 13 Comments

Alright gals, I did it. After two years of agonizing over the appearance of my belly, I finally got the gumption to go to the plastic surgeon. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually have anything done. But I took the first step with a consultation. And let me tell you, it was fifty bucks well spent.

First off, if you have the ambition of making a crap-load of money during your time here on earth, become a plastic surgeon. I stepped into this guys’ office, and I felt like I was at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Super deluxe…and I live in Austin, Texas, where you can go to a five star restaurant in jeans and a tank top (and don’t forget your cowboy hat!). When I got a look at his fees; let’s just say he makes somewhere in the range of $1,500 an hour. Not bad!

I was oddly comfortable waiting for Dr. 78735 in the plush terry robe and g-string scrubs, although it would have been nicer if they had offered me a glass of wine and a pedi while I waited. He entered the room and after brief introductions, asked me what I was interested in. Huh – isn’t that what you’re supposed to tell me? I admitted that I was a total neophyte and meekly stated a tummy tuck and a boob job. He asked if I wanted both a breast augmentation and lift. I answered with a blank look. After some discussion over the technicalities of each procedure (more blank looks), it was time to disrobe (eegads!).

The unveiling wasn’t that bad. I was diagnosed with a large umbilical hernia (which my insurance would cover – whoopee!), major diastasis (above and below and all around the tap that my Be Bo has become), stretched-out skin and, of course, stretch marks. He pronounced that I would need a full tummy tuck to correct everything. He’d try and use my existing c-section scar and then cut a smiley face to each hip bone, a general surgeon would come in and fix the hernia, he would pull my ab muscles back into place, and then stretch my skin downwards to get rid of all the unsightliness. All of the skin and stretch marks from my belly button down would be gone (as in cut out forever), and the stretch marks above my BB would be much less visible because they would be, um, really stretched. Lovely.

As for the boobs, he said I wouldn’t need a lift. After 13 months of breastfeeding two babies, imagine that! At least there was some good news to this visit. But he said an augmentation would “restore the look and fullness” to my deflated mom boobs. He said silicone was the only way to go, because it feels the most like breast tissue. I nodded and tried to mask another blank look.

We sat back down and talked more technicalities of the actual surgery. It’d last about 4 hours, I would need at least one overnight in the hospital (he recommended two), and a pain pump was the way to go (kind of like an epidural for the stomach). The kicker was when I heard about the recovery time. The boob job was hardly anything. The tummy tuck? Six weeks. Yes, you heard me. Six weeks of lifting no more than 10 pounds. With twin two year olds, one of whom attaches himself to me as if he wants to be back in utero, good luck on that one!

After the consultation, I had the pleasure of posing in my g-string scrubs for some pictures. With mirrors and umbrella lights in each corner and a pretty, skinny young thing taking the pictures – let’s just say it was a humbling experience. She took about ten photos, and to add insult to injury, made me step on the scale. They program this whole experience just right, because then I was ushered into a room to view before and after pics. All I can say is AMAZING! I couldn’t believe my eyes. And I loved seeing bellies that looked far worse then mine looking gorgeous after a tummy tuck.

A lovely lady in her 50s entered the room with lots of paperwork and walked me through the process and the expenses. Pretty amusing that she went into all of the details of surgery and recovery, as if I had already signed on, before going over the itemized estimate. Nice to know I have the option of spending my second night of recovery not in the hospital, but at the beautiful Barton Creek Resort where I would have nurses waiting on me and lymphatic massage therapists at my disposal. And then I saw the only piece of paper that mattered. All in all, even with insurance covering the hernia portion, a tummy tuck and boob job would cost…

$14,000. Yes, you saw that right.

She pulled out the doctor’s schedule and asked me what time frame I was looking at. I answered her with an unabashed blank look. I managed to ask if there was any “wiggle” room in the estimate (the negotiator that I am). She said if I removed the second night at the hospital and got rid of the pain pump, that could bring it down $750. Oh, and the $50 consultation charge would be deducted from the cost. Wow. Great.

Now that it’s been a few weeks, I’ve decided against the boob job. After some quick research, I learned that boob jobs have at most a ten year life span. So once you get one, you can plan on getting another every ten years until you have no more money left. Not my cup of tea. Plus, the silicone that was recommended has a lot more maintenance. Like MRIs every few years to check for leaks. With saline, if it pops, you know it. All of the above I wish to never experience in my lifetime (nothing against boob jobs, though!). So I plan on calling them back and getting a new estimate for just the tummy tuck. Not because I’m going to get one anytime soon, but just so I know how much I need to save over the next five years. Amidst a downward spiraling economy.

Belly be damned, I do plan on getting you fixed eventually. But for now, it’s you and me, belly. No matter how ugly you are, we’re in it for the long haul.

You can read my other post on post-partum ugliness here. And to be totally jealous of one HDYDI mama who has a killer and unscathed post-partum belly, read here.

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A letter to Santa from two years ago LauraC

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Categories Childcare, Infants, Medical, Mommy Issues6 Comments

Two years ago was Nate and Alex’s first Christmas and they were seven months old. It was also their first cold and flu season in group day care.

I don’t remember much of December 2006, between the twins, the endless ear infections, the reflux, the torticollis physical therapy appointments, the helmet casting, The Time The Ped Diagnosed Them With RSV And I Freaked Out, the sick crying babies being up all night crying, stomach flu (yep, stomach flu AND ear infections AND possible RSV), and oh yeah, twins. Frankly, I don’t remember much of winter 2006-2007, except what I wrote on my blog.

So imagine my surprise this weekend when I dug out the Christmas decorations. I found a plate to be used for leaving cookies for Santa. It comes with a dry erase marker so you can write a letter to Santa to see when he eats your cookies. I vaguely remember this was a Christmas gift from 2006 that we never opened and I thought it would be perfect for Nate and Alex to use this year. I opened the box to find this:

santaplate

It says, in my handwriting, to please bring me:

* two sleeping toddlers
* a full night’s sleep
* lots of red wine
* CHOCOLATE
* my pre-pregnancy body

Before erasing the list, I had to take a picture. This plate is from one of the most difficult times of my life. I was so sleep-deprived, I have no recollection of writing on this plate. Zero memory of this list. NONE. It scares me and makes me laugh at the same time.

Doesn’t that just sum up life with twin newborns?!?!?!?!

(Cross-posted at my personal blog, Laura’s Mommy Journal, because ironically one of my boys spiked a fever close to 105 last night while my husband’s out of town. I don’t have two posts in me today.)

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