Category Archives: Mamahood

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.

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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.

Diaper Testing, one, two, three

Before Lentil was born, Mister and I talked about cloth vs. disposable diapers. I thought that cloth was the way to go rather than create little bundles that could never break down. A co-worker turned me on to Mother-ease, her choice of diapers, but another friend swore by the Bum Genius. So, I bought one each of three different kinds of cloth diapers: a Bum Genius 3.0, a FuzziBunz, and two kinds from Mother-ease, the Sandy and the all in one.

We’ve happily used Pampers Swaddlers and Seventh Generation Chlorine Free diapers since Lentil’s birth. (The hospital sent us home with Swaddlers; I’d purchased some Seventh Generation prior to going in.) Swaddlers don’t leak and are super absorbent but I feel like the Seventh Generation are probably less toxic in the long run.

Since we’ve been home, I’ve tested the Mother-ease Sandy (and didn’t like it) and the Bum Genius (very happy). I have yet to try the FuzziBunz, but I ordered 12 more Bum Genius from Cotton Babies tonight. We are making the transition to cloth. I use white vinegar in an initial wash, then I rewash the diapers. Lentil seems very comfortable in the Bum Genius. Here’s hoping the honeymoon lasts.

Cotton Babies has a cloth diaper reference that is helpful for answering various questions including, “Do I have to sanitize my washing machine?” (No.)