Category Archives: Baby

Crumbly Day

When Lentil was nine days old, her pediatrician heard a murmur in her heart which we had diagnosed the next day as a ventricular septal defect. She has a small hole in her heart, near her left ventrical. Her cardiologist at Children’s Hospital Oakland says that in about 50 percent of cases, the holes close themselves. Another percent will close, but not entirely, yet pose no risk to the person as she grows. The rest require surgery.

At CHO, Lentil first had an EKG to confirm the murmur, then she had an echocardiogram to get a picture of what was really going on in there. Her hole is about 3mm (I think).

The doctors told us to watch her breathing, no small feat since newborns breath eratically. We also knew that if she were to get sick, she could become much sicker than other babies because her heart and lungs are working harder than other babies’. The news was devastating but with time, we have seen her be healthy and thriving, and met someone from each of the categories of VSD who are thriving adults. Still, we watch her carefully and freak out a little when things happen because we aren’t sure if whatever’s going on is related to the VSD.

In early December, she had a stuffy nose that cleared up after a couple of days. Then we took her to Truckee where the altitude made her grousy. (She may have had a touch of altitude sickness.) This past week, she got a diaper rash. Then she started throwing up. (Lentil’s end to end yuckies) Initially I thought the vomit might have been in response to how badly the diaper rash hurt when we changed her. But we decided to take her to the doctor on Saturday when she threw up repeatedly on Friday. We took her to her pedicatrician on Monday, seeing another doctor in the practice who was thorough and deliberate in her review of Lentil’s condition. We agreed to watch her closely though I was ready to take her to Children’s (okay, I was ready with the first vomit but let’s not panic). When we took her in on Tuesday morning for her follow up, none of us was happy with how our baby looked — very pale and thin. She was more listless than normal, having a difficulty waking. We didn’t see any of her usual smiles.

Her vomiting led to weight loss and dehydration — any weight loss is serious when you don’t have much to begin with. When the scale showed a drop of an ounce and a half from Monday to Tuesday, our pediatrician sent us to CHO. I was relieved.

The pediatrician called ahead, a boon as we got there at 9:45 and were in a room by 10am. The waiting room was filled to overflowing that day with kids. It’s winter, one of the nurses said, and lots of kids have chest colds and fevers. There was a boy with sickle cell anemia, a disease that Mister and I only knew had to do with blood. We asked our second nurse about it as she was discharging us. Life expectancy for those children isn’t past their 30s at best. It is a painful disease, she said, because the blood isn’t moving oxygen around which causes blocked blood vessels, among other things.  We were in line for the ultrasound to determine if Lentil was suffering from pyloric stenosis, a condition in which a muscle in the stomach is too narrow for food to exit properly. The baby projectile vomits several feet, which Lentil was not doing. It generally presents when the infant is 4-5 weeks, not nine weeks as Lentil is.img_0281

The nurses put a saline block in her hand so that they could pull blood and adminster an IV. They wrapped a lot of tape around the block to keep it from moving and put a board on her hand and a little “house” over the unit to protect it. It was a horrible process for her, leaving her hoarse from crying and without the hand she sucks for comfort. Later, I talked to a friend whose daughter has a condition that requires exhausting and painful annual tests. We both marveled at the other’s situation and hope neither worsens.

Lentil had another echo to determine whether the VSD had a role in her illness (it didn’t). Blood and urine tests that confirmed dehydration (duh) but showed nothing else.

The doctor ordered a 10cc bag of saline for her which, though it looked like something for a child’s Barbie, perked her up enough to nurse with a bit of vigor. She had another 20cc before we went home. It was like Lentil woke up from a long nap. We went home at 5:45. The sickle cell boy was being admitted.

Today she woke, stretched, and smiled. She’s nursed like mad, slept like a log, and smiled.

Weekly Lessons Learned

  1. Baby’s poop is supposed to be yellow if you’re breastfeeding. Lentil’s hasn’t been yellow for weeks. Doctor told me not to worry, but I have. I thought I needed to nurse more, or better (getting every last drop of hindmilk). Um, no. If you take prenatal vitamins, the iron turns the baby’s poop green.
  2. When a baby gets a rash, do not use your regular wipes. Use only cotton balls and warm water.
  3. A hair dryer (on low!) helps dry out the baby’s bottom.
  4. Do not leave cotton balls in the baby’s new diaper when you put her back to bed, even if it’s 5:38 in the morning.
  5. Baby vomit is relatively odorless and should not cause you to retch.

Lentil’s end to end yuckies

Lentil developed a mean diaper rash a couple of days ago. Note to new parents: do not use wipes on your child’s rash. It burns them, Frodo, it burns. Use cotton balls dipped in warm water (cool water is unpleasant). Friends have suggested two additional tips:

  1. Hold nakee baby bottom to sunny window for a couple of minutes for vitamin D warm yummy air
  2. Let nakee baby roll around in her all-togethers for a couple of hours (my addition: use an incontinence pad to keep baby from leaking all over everything. I had leftovers from the end of my pregnancy).

The rash is heartbreaking. She cried and cried on Thursday night as the lactation consultant offered sympathies. I asked her to come by (for a small fee, gulp) to check our latch, give advice on bottles (Lentil won’t take one), and check things over to make sure we were doing things right.

I had been thinking about having her come for a few weeks (by her, I mean one of three possibles based on recommendations) but the bottle issue pushed me in the direction. Then I weighed Lentil. She hasn’t gained enough weight this month — far less than a pound. Furthermore, she recently started vomiting up what she’s drinking. She started spitting up a few weeks ago but it was relatively mild. Now she can chuck a waterfall. It’s sudden and startles all of us but most of all Lentil. Sometimes it scares her but it doesn’t seem to really hurt (except when it comes out of her nose).

Poor Lentil. Rash, vomit. We took her to Night Owl Pediatrics, an after-hours (or odd hours) pedicatric clinic in Pleasant Hill. I think people from all over the Bay Area must take their kids there as its the only game in the area (other than hospitals, that is). The vomit could be reflux (crap!), an infection caused by my membrane breaking and her delayed delivery, pyloric stenosis, mmmm…there was another option.

So, I burp her more often (every 3-5 minutes), hold her upright, put her in her carseat when she’s done nursing.

And, after her bath tonight, she chucked it all and was very sad. Merde us.

Further wisdom from the Northwest Mommy

“Heed my words,” she wrote me in a recent email. I shed ounds of water weight after Lentil was born, yippee! But once the water days are past, said the Northwest Mommy, it can be easy to fall into the breastfeeding trap. When she lived in my ‘hood, NM would walk to a couple of the local pastry shops for a treat. Too many treats, apparently, though with good reason to celebrate:

“I gave birth to a nearly 10 lb. baby”, “I woke up 9 times last night to nurse her”, “I changed 6 poopy diapers today”, and so on.  After about 6 months I decided that I couldn’t quite justify daily pastries nor could my waistline but by then the damage was done.  Heed my words!!!

I’m heeding, I’m heeding. My only fitting pants (fitting is a loose term) are pre-pregnancy though neither should be worn with the waist revealed. I’m a little blobby (understandable but true). Still, it is easy to eat something that is not good for you or that is not a productive snack out of nursing desperation. (Example: tater tots) My fallback is and always has been bread and cheese or crackers and cheese.

So, on Friday I will attend my first “Stroller Strides” class through The Tulip Grove. While I would like to get back to the gym, I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with day care (baby must be in clean diaper, I should probably have a bottle for her … but she won’t take bottles); baby comes with to Stroller Strides. I can roll ugly out of bed and out the door. Lentil, on the other hand, will be cute as pie.

Stuffed

Lentil, Mister, and I are stuffed up. We all have head colds, to varying degrees of stuffed-ness. Tonight begins round two of sleeping with a cool mist humidifier on, the door cracked so the room doesn’t fill up with condensation, the electric heater going to keep us (and especially Lentil) warm, and me fretting the heater will spark and we’ll all fry.

Last night we sucked boogies from Lentil’s nose. Dry little bastards for the most part. Tonight I went to Pharmaca to buy saline drops for babies and Claritin for Mister (lucky boy gets to take drugs, sniff, sniff). We live near a Walgreens, but parking is a pain and sometimes it feels a little sketch in there. Unfortunately, Pharmaca’s pharmacy was closed so I ended up at Walgreens anyway, dealing with the very nice person at the counter who had to take my ID down before I could buy the behind-the-scenes Claritin-D, the kind that meth users buy and cook into meth. We aren’t so fancy here, no, we just take it to rid ourselves of sinus issues.

We tilted Lentil’s nest, the box she sleeps in in our bed, to elevate her head for sleeping. She’s sacked out right now, hopefully for a few more hours as she only took one real nap today. (Bad mama)

Nothing is lovelier than listening to your baby’s sleepy sighs, even when she has a cold.

Revisioning finances

I went on maternity in early October as my blood pressure elevated and my feet swelled. Two trips to the hospital which became four were enough to keep me home and off my feet until I delivered Lentil. The school district used my sick days to cover the first part of the leave (about 2/3 of October) before shifting to extended leave; at this point, my monthly salary pays for the long term sub who is teaching my class for the rest of the school year. In a few weeks, when my eight weeks of maternity is up, I’ll be off the books on a leave of absence. Mister and I will have to cover the cost of my insurance, either through cobra or I find an alternative for the year.

We sat down and went through our household budget to make sure we could manage on his salary. We use Wesabe, Mister’s company, to set spending limits and track our budget.

One of our weakest spending areas is food. We eat out too much, especially for folks who like to cook and own too many cookbooks. This last summer, between Mister’s work schedule and my pregnancy, cooking wasn’t much fun so we used any excuse possible to eat out. I’m ashamed to disclose what our monthly spending was, but it was silly high. No surprisingly having a baby has cut our dining out bills remarkably, but then, we are also shopping smarter and cooking more. We use our Marin Sun Farms meat CSA regularly, as opposed to never. Or, worse yet, we’d take meat out and defrost it, then not use it. Waste, waste, waste. The chickens are happier, too, because they get vegetable scraps more often. It’s a win-win for the household.

On my own, I looked for recurring bills that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t need. For example, I said good-bye to Earthlink, an account I’ve had for nearly a decade. With the advent of gmail and my mac.com account, I didn’t need to spend even $9.95 a month for Earthlink ($120 a year). I also cut out Pogo.com, a $5.95 a month game site that’s a time suck. With a new baby in the house, I don’t need a time suck that isn’t all about her. Last to go was my typepad account. Frankly, I prefer typepad to wordpress for various reasons, including ease of list management, but it was another $8.95 a month I could cut with little pain.

One of Wesabe’s users, CymbidiumKelly, instituted a “no spend month,” hoping to save $1500 in a month. Can you imagine what you’d save if you cut out your morning lattes, dining out, movies, more yarn your stash doesn’t need? Check it here.

Being out of work and reworking our household budget has made me look at my money very differently than I have in a long time. What else can I cut? What can I sell? How can I help keep us on budget?

60 Hours, but who’s counting?

The clock starts ticking when your water breaks. Convential medicine gives women 24 hours to go into labor before panic sets in. I can’t blame them since babies can get infections once the bag of waters breaks.

My water broke at 6:30 am and I experienced mild, irregular contractions for the day. We checked into the hospital at 9pm, though we were supposed to check right in but I sent us to triage (oops). My husband and I had planned to have a natural childbirth (or as natural as possible). We spent 11 weeks in a Bradley Childbirth class to prepare for the event. I was ready to walk and squat my way to delivery.

My body was not on board with this plan, however. We were given cervidil that first night which led to pitocin the next day. I had hoped to avoid pitocin as it can be hard on your body but also very hard on the baby. You can’t eat when on pitocin but I could walk around the hospital floor thanks to a telemetry unit for monitoring my contractions and the baby’s heartbeat. I did squats in the hallway, walked like a duck, walked stairs in the garden.

And got nowhere.

So, night two, cervidil again, this time for 11 hours. The next day, back on the pitocin. I have, at this point, several pokes in my arms from blood draws and attempts to put saline blocks into my swollen but uncooperative veins.

At this point, my back hurts, I haven’t eaten, and I’m crabby. My body aches from the contractions. My hands hurt from carpal tunnel syndrome (pregnancy related) and my feet are swollen. I want my baby and I want to not be pregnant anymore.

The pitocin racheted up the contractions but by hour 57, the nurse cut the dose in half because the baby’s heartrate was fluttering under the onslaught of too strong and too close together contractions. We also found out that my cervix hadn’t changed, really. It was long and solid, not thin and ready to go. The doctor couldn’t feel the baby’s head at all.

From natural childbirth to C-section. It wasn’t our plan, but the class and our own research as well as the presence of our doula helped my husband and me make decisions, or at least feel like we made our decisions.

Sixty hours after my water broke, the doctors pulled our daughter out, healthy and happy. Her 14-inch noggin never made it near the cervix, hence the lack of change. As I lay on the table, I could hear the doctors talking excitedly. It turns out that we were doubly lucky as the placenta and umbilical cord were dangerously joined. Instead of the umbilical cord inserting in the placenta as is normal, it was incorporated into the membrane that surriounded the baby (Warning: graphic pictures) in a condition called valementous cord insertion. If the membrane had broken near the arteries or vein that ran through it, the baby would have hemorrhaged and died.

Everything happens for a reason.

The baby is home and gained back the weight she lost in the hospital plus an ounce for luck.