The Things We Won't Remember. Or The Things We Choose To Forget.

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Categories Infants, Medical10 Comments

Yesterday, we were on our way back from the pediatrician’s office, when Jennifer said to me “You’re in trouble.” “Why?”, I say. “You said that first six months was the hardest, and here we are at seven months and THIS is hard,” she says. “Oh, well, yeah,” I say, “but that didn’t include illnesses.” “Doesn’t it seem like no one ever talks about this part?” she asks. “Well,” I respond “they probably do, but I think these are the parts we forget.”

And let me start off by saying that we have it SO EASY compared to SO MANY others: our kids are relatively healthy, no known underlying issues, there’s two parents who share equally in care and responsibility, we can afford to pay for extra help every now and again, and all that. But if you strip all that down and just think of us as first time parents with no prior parenting experience, unaccustomed to lack of sleep or the sounds of screaming for hours on end, we are in the midst of trying times.

On our way to the pediatrician’s office yesterday, I sent a text message to the kids’ godparents to let them know what was going on. I am walking away with SOMETHING this visit, I wrote, I don’t care if it’s a placebo, stickers, or a lollipop. We had been there last Monday, too. Colds and congestions, yes. But no ear infections or crackly lungs. Which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. Prescription for them last week, then? Tender Loving Care. Got it.

Fast forward six days and my things can change. I took the scream-at-the-top-of-his-lungs-cannot-be-consoled-dead-ringer-for-an-ear-infection shift from 2:30 a.m. – 4:30 a.m. Jennifer took the 4:30 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. shift so I could sleep an hour before getting ready for work. At 5:30, our daughter began screaming, would only sleep on one’s chest, and wouldn’t wake up to eat. RED FLAG. Change of plans – I am not going to work. Not taking a shower. Not going pee. We’re going to the clinic.

Sure enough, Mateo has an ear infection. Make that two. By the way, this is now his FIFTH ear infection in two months. And one of them was bulging and blistered. Harper has one ear infection, and crackly lungs. Prescription: round of antibiotics for both, albuterol treatment for her. No stickers for us. I did mention that Jennifer and I used to indulge in a nice dinner out weekly and that now that seems to be weekly copayments totaling $60 to the clinic. He said something about writing us a pretend gift certificate. He’s cute.

We spent the day at home with the kids. Loving on them. Holding them. Carrying them. Feeding them (or trying to, because Harper wasn’t much for food or drink). Loving on them some more. Constantly changing them out of clothes they’d throw up in. They try SO HARD to play play play and fight through being sick, but most of the time, the pain of ear infections got the best of them. We got some fresh air on a neighborhood walk. We were fortunate that one of their godmothers brought the mom’s lunch and we ate while she fed Mateo and held him for a couple hours while I played mattress to Harper who could not otherwise sleep. And if that’s a run on sentence it’s because yesterday was a run on day. We enjoyed our time as a family even if it meant they twins were not feeling well.

Playing Through An Ear Infection
Trying really hard to play through their ear infections.

I’m seriously considering looking into a live-in (weekdays) nanny. Could be the lack of sleep talking. I LOVE our daycare. It’s clean and professional and the kids truly love it. But they also get sick more often because of it. But it’s close to the office. But they wouldn’t get sick as much at home. But they get more stimulation at school. But they get more individual care at home. But there are more eyes watching over them at school. But but but but but but but but.

In the last couple months, some one of the four of us has had any combination of pink eye, cold, ear infections, colds, allergies. I don’t think we’ve gone more than 7 days at once with a fully healthy household since September.

This morning, I’m at the office (can’t you tell???). I just got a call from Jennifer reporting that neither kiddo has a fever this morning. And Harper ate. And neither have thrown up. Our Saturday nanny was available to be home with them today. And Jennifer and I are both working so we can pay for someone else to care for them. Grrrrr. Hopefully the mend continues. And hopefully we go more than 10 days as a healthy household. Please?

Rachel’s personal blog can be found at RaJenCreation.

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Rosie the Virus

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Categories Medical, ToddlersTags 5 Comments

Ah yes, our good friend Roseola paid us a visit this weekend.  It was only my daughter (so far), but that was plenty.  From KidsHealth.org:

Roseola (also known as sixth disease, exanthem subitum, and roseola infantum) is a viral illness in young children, most commonly affecting those between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. It is typically marked by several days of high fever, followed by a distinctive rash just as the fever breaks.

Rebecca was textbook on this one.  She was warm all day Friday, but it seemed to come and go and I blamed it on teething as she was drooling and chewing way more than usual.  And super cranky.  But by shortly after bedtime, when she woke up quite unhappy, we realized something was up.  She was hot to the touch and bright red, and the thermometer jumped up past 103 degrees.  Off she went with Daddy to our local hospital, since it was way after hours and that’s what the on-call doctor would have had us do, anyways.

A diagnosis of roseola is often uncertain until the fever drops and the rash appears, so the doctor may order tests to make sure that the fever is not caused by another type of infection.

Indeed, the poor, tired thing got the whole workup.  Checked for an ear infection, even the dreaded catheter to rule out a UTI.  Three hours later, she was back home and we rotated Motrin and Tylenol and she spent a very out-of-character night in bed with mommy.

The viruses that cause roseola do not appear to be spread by kids while they are exhibiting symptoms of the illness. Instead, someone who has not yet developed symptoms often spreads the infection.

God only knows where she got it.  We spend plenty of time around other kids, and I’m just not a germ-phobe. Not that I would intentionally let them get sick, but frankly a little virus here and there just isn’t a battle I’m going to fight.  Thankfully my kids are a fairly robust pair, so aside from the flu shot and general good sense, I don’t take it all that far.

A child with roseola typically develops a mild upper respiratory illness, followed by a high fever (often over 103° Fahrenheit, or 39.5° Celsius) for up to a week. During this time, the child may appear fussy or irritable and may have a decreased appetite and swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck.

Fussy?  Irritable?  Bwa ha ha!  Cranky as all get-out.  Screaming.  Over-tired. Fever with shivers. I’m sure generally feeling crappy.  Oh my lord was she a cranky girl all weekend.  Sleep was all kinds of messed up, which obviously didn’t help the cranky factor.  And poor not-sick Daniel was almost as cranky, since his weekend was no fun, either.  And Mommy and Daddy?  Let’s just say we weren’t at our shiny best this weekend.  Short on sleep, nerves frayed from being screamed at by a sick little girl… not a recipe for marital bliss.

The high fever often ends abruptly, and at about the same time a pinkish-red flat or raised rash appears on the child’s trunk and spreads over the body.

The fever stuck around all weekend, still getting as high as 102.5 between doses of medicine. Thankfully, by this morning, things seemed relatively back to normal.  The tell-tale rash is on her little shoulders, but the fever is gone and she’s eating like a normal toddler again (mediocre, at best, but better than Saturday).  I’m just glad it’s over, and I’m hoping against hope that Daniel lucks out and doesn’t get it.  Granted, I did nothing to really keep them apart, and they still stole each other’s toys and sippy cups per usual.  But hey, maybe we’ll get lucky…

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A cure for my singleton fantasies

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Categories Childcare, Family, Medical, Mommy Issues, Toddlers4 Comments

Earlier in the month, I wrote a post about how I wasn’t sure we were done having kids. After reflecting on it, last week I realized I had a serious case of singleton fantasies. Last night, Jon and I found a cure for that 1% doubt we are done with kids: a sick tantruming toddler.

My boys are almost 2 1/2. They went to bed with no objections at 7:30 then sang and chatted until 8:30. Around 9:15, right as Jon and I were settling down to watch the Heroes season premiere, Alex woke up crying. Despite soothing and motrin, he would not settle back to sleep. We got him up and hung out for an hour before deciding it would be best if we laid down with Alex in our room. He then proceeded to have a mega-tantrum that would not stop. He was so clearly overtired but every time he calmed down, within a minute he burst into another screaming fit. At 11:30, Jon put Alex in the car and drove him around until he fell asleep. Alex was complaining about his ear hurting, so Jon has him at the doctor this morning.

Last night was a repeat of almost every night of the newborn phase with twins. We spent hundreds of hours floundering with crying babies, trying to figure out what was wrong. And as difficult as the newborn phase was, last night was even more difficult because we knew exactly what Alex needed – sleep – yet we were unable to achieve that goal. 

This pretty much clears up any baby lust I had. I don’t miss those days of little sleep and crying newborns. I’ll just depend on my friends with newborns to get my baby fix.

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Our experience with plagiocephaly, torticollis, and a helmet

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Categories Development, Medical, Mommy IssuesTags , , 14 Comments

One of my twins, Alex, was born with torticollis, a condition in which the head is tilted to one side. In Alex’s case, the muscles on one side of his neck did not develop correctly in utero and he could not turn his head to the left. Torticollis is more common in multiples because they are so cramped in utero.  By the time Alex was two months old, the entire right side of his face was flat because he always had his head turned one direction. We learned preemies have softer heads when born, and are more prone to plagiocephaly (head deformation). 

Our doctor told us Alex would outgrow the torticollis. This is absolutely false. After researching it and talking to doctor friends, we got a second opinion and a referral to physical therapy. The majority of torticollis cases can be resolved with simple stretching exercises. Despite the physical therapy, increased amounts of tummy time, and changes in sleeping position, Alex’s head did not improve. Our pediatrician told us Alex’s head would eventually round out, but every month Alex’s head was getting more deformed. By 6 months, his facial recession was noticable and one half of his face was still flat.

After reviewing a plagiocephaly severity assessment chart (found here) with our physical therapist, we realized Alex’s head would be classified extreme. Most distressing was that his forehead recession was extreme – one half of his face and his forehead protruded an inch farther than the other side.  We got referred to a pediatric plastic surgeon and upon examining Alex, the surgeon told us if Alex did not do a helmet, his face would never be symmetric. Additionally, there were many medical issues that could occur if his face continued to be recessed, affecting chewing, speech, vision, and sinuses.

Here is where I would like to interrupt my story. Alex’s case was extreme. One of his eyes was recessed into his head. This was not a simple flat spot from sleeping too long in one position. I do not think the helmet is the right choice for every child. Two of my friends went to the same plastic surgeon and did not get a recommendation for a helmet. But I do think the best thing to do is consult a professional. After talking to many plagiocephaly and torticollis parents, I do not think most pediatricians are experts in this. Through this experience, I learned it never hurts to have a second medical opinion, particularly from someone who is an expert in the field.

I wrote extensively on my personal blog during this time because it was very emotional. I felt that I failed Alex by not getting him the correct medical treatment early enough. In my story below, I’m going to post a lot of links so those interested can read more about our experience.

Shortly after getting our very emotional diagnosis, we had the helmet casting. I was traumatized when googling other pictures of the casting process, so I posted ours because it was a fun, light-hearted experience. The orthotists were fantastic and made the comment their experience was “the easy twin usually get the helmet.” That was certainly so in our case!

The day before Alex got his helmet, I was an emotional wreck. I still did not have peace with how I failed him. I wrote him this letter about my feelings. That post remains one of my favorite blog entries because it sums up how hard parenting can be some days. The day he got his helmet, I was shocked to find I thought he looked adorable in it. After getting the helmet, it seemed everyone had an opinion on it and I shared my opinion loudly and proudly.

Alex got his helmet at 7 months and we were told he would wear it until he was a year old. We could not believe how quickly his head improved with the helmet.  He got it on right before a couple of major growth spurts and within two weeks, we saw a noticable difference. After 3 months, we got the news the helmet was coming off early two months early and I was ecstatic. As positive as I was about him wearing it, the thing SMELLED and it was a pain to clean it every day. The day Alex got it off, I put it on his twin’s head and took pictures.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the road for us. Our insurance company declined to cover Alex’s helmet and we got a bill for $3000. They declined it because Alex’s head was 1 millimeter not deformed enough. I decided to appeal because the measurements were taken on a wiggly 7 month old. The fight went on for months. The end of the road was a special appeal hearing I attended where I laid out all the facts – premature twin A, head down, torticollis, in physical therapy for 9 months to deal with developmental issues. Despite fighting a good fight, I got denied and I was angry.

Then I had my faith in the universe restored. We never got a bill from the hospital. When the hospital received the final denial from the appeals committee, they decided to write off the helmet because they should have gotten pre-approval from insurance. A month later, I went to help my sister with her new baby and saw a baby in a helmet. I had my cathartic moment, and it brought me peace to know I did everything I could to help my baby.

Now, 17 months after the helmet came off, I never think about any of this. I barely remember those helmet days and Alex’s head looks perfect. This is my favorite helmet picture, because it is so Alex during this time – he was always so happy and never noticed his helmet.

If you’d like to see more helmet pictures and read more about our experience, the information is on Laura’s Mommy Journal while Alex was helmeted between Jan 2007 and Mar 2007. Firsthand, I know how difficult and emotional this experience can be. For anyone who wants to talk, I can be emailed through this website or my personal website.

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