30 September 2009

A Peawhistle By Any Other Name

Two kids napping at the same time and another off at school? The crap you say! This doesn't happen often as I've discovered over the past month, hence why I made a mad dash to do as many important things as I possibly could squeeze in, namely checking my email and blogging. You know, life-and-death sorta stuff.

Speaking of life and death, guess what Peawhistle did to me last week? SCARED THE POPSICLES OUT OF ME, THAT'S WHAT. So we're in the parking lot of the grocery store and I'm unloading my many, many children to go shopping. I have Peanut in the cart seat and PW is standing next to him while I get SweetPea in the sling. My back was turned to the older two while I was extracting SP and I hear a sick-sounding thwack. I turn around to see PW on the asphalt, flat on her back, head in a puddle of water. My first thought was that she was screwing around as usual and I told her to get up. She lifted her head and let it fall back on the ground in the puddle and she stopped moving. I went to help pull her up and she was completely limp and her eyes went cross-eyed and then started to move in circles. She didn't say a word or make a sound as I started screaming her name to wake up, all while trying to pick her up unsuccessfully. After a while she came around enough so that she wasn't steady, but she wasn't limp anymore, and as I asked her if she was OK she started to freak out and demanded to know why I sounded "weird"(-er than normal). That's when I threw everyone back in the car and sped over to the pediatrician's office. The triage nurse came out and sat with PW while the receptionist called the ambulance. My dear friend Ethel willingly dropped everything (she was in the middle of making dinner by the way) to race over and take Peanut and SweetPea to my house along with her own daughter, Pippy Longstocking. Fortunately, Pippy and Peanut are very close in age and get along very well, or as well as two nearly 2-year-olds can get along. Pippy is Peanut's only friend, which made his evening a little more fun anyway, even if Ethel's (and Fred's by association) evening was all shot to heck as a result of the events. She graciously stayed and entertained my children until The Husband could get home from work and take her and Pippy back home to a very, very late dinner. I will forever be in debt to Ethel and the entire Mertz family for that.

The ambulance strapped PW all up, loaded her in, and we shot off out of there with lights and sirens blazing. They had called around to various ERs and the Children's Center at the main Hopkins hospital had said they were intensely interested in seeing her (and you recall my thoughts on medical professionals being intensely interested in my children). So we flew down to Baltimore in rushhour traffic. The sirens made the stop-and-go traffic not so bad as most people are still good about getting out of the way for an ambulance, even when there seems to be no place for them to really go. However, one or two motorists blew my mind a bit. Here's the ambulance, flying down the highway at 75 mph with lights and sirens and the whole deal, and there were still people who thought it was going too slow and actually cut us off. I'm no cop as we all know, but isn't that illegal or something? And extremely unethical? And supremely jerky? Yeah, well I'll see you in HELL you jerks. Man alive.

So we get to the ER and they rush her off to the trauma unit as a "Bravo," whatever that means (sounds important though!), but they wouldn't let me follow her. Why, because I'm going to start accidentally doing surgery on her or something? I wasn't screaming and freaking out, but I would sure like to see where the crap they're taking my child. Eventually a social worker came and escorted me around the long way to her room, which looked more like an operating room to me (comforting!), and let me stand by the doorway while several people hovered over her. I also had to sign release forms because they were video taping the whole thing, presumably for teaching purposes, or just kicks and giggles later on. Either one.

She had a CT scan on her head and neck to look for internal bleeding or cracks, none of which were found fortunately. And then came the question of why the kid fell in the first place. She kept telling everyone she just closed her eyes, fell asleep, and that's the last thing she remembered. I didn't see anything seizure-like when I saw her on the ground, and nothing else in her recent history would explain why she would just pass out like that. So that is still a mystery to some extent. We're all hoping and assuming she was just playing on the cart, slipped off, hit her head and then passed out, but we can't be positive as I wasn't watching. But they did an EKG on her heart just to rule out any heart defects or issues that would have caused her to lose consciousness.

They considered keeping her overnight until the final results of the CT scan came back, but given that the preliminary results looked fine and she was back to her old self, PeaWhistle-esque Personality in tact, they released her with Hannah Montana stickers and sent her home. I tell you, I fell in love with PW all over again. And not just because I thought I was going to lose her, but I realized just how much I take the little thing for granted. Within 10 minutes of her being admitted to the ER she had the entire trauma staff in her room cracking up laughing at everything she said. She is an absolute riot, no doubt. Combine that with her adorable little singsong voice and you have quite the crowd-pleaser (who knows when she's captured an audience's attention and hams it up to the Nth degree). They asked me if she's like this all the time, and that's when I realized how lucky I am to have such a fantastic kid. I'm used to her funny conversations and cute little voice, and really, really bad jokes that make you laugh anyway, so I don't always think of her as something special. She's just Peawhistle, you know? But she is unique and special and I'm so glad that she came out of this with just a concussion and nothing worse. And I'm so glad she's mine. I love you Peawhistle!


"Oh, You Better Watch Out...."

I have news of a wonderous variety! I am famous yet again! And by "famous," I mean "nobody knows who the hell I am!" Nor do they care to! I am, of course, speaking of the wonderful new Cake Wrecks book that just came out and is on bookstore shelves as we speak. You recall that awesome website, right? Well, they put out a book with new and old wrecks galore! And if you all care to turn with me to page 47, you will see a very familiar face staring back at you:

Rudolph the Poop-torsoed Reindeer has staged a return more historic than MacArthur storming the Philippines! Unfortunately, my kitchen linoleum is not book-famous as they cut it out of the photo for printing, which means only my money is famous now, in that it was my money that bought the stupid cake in the first place. Not even my colon, which graciously digested the cake, is famous as no one cares that I sacrificed my health to ingest such a wreckacular wonder. I really should be getting awards for this kinda selfless stuff, you know? Something big made of gold with the words "Humble Genius" somewhere on there. Yeah, that should do it.

14 September 2009

A Sweet Little Pea

My my, has it been nearly a month already? Did you miss me? No? Shut up.

So I had the baby. And by "the baby," I mean adorable SweetPea. As it turns out, the name fits her to a T. She is not only very sweet, but was the smallest at birth, too. Not the size of a pea, but you get the gist.

So here's what happened. The blood pressures went up and up and up, they tested my urine, it had craploads of protein in it making me officially pre-eclemptic (3-for-3 ladies and gentlemen!), and it was decided on that Monday to immediately expel the infant from my hefty womb. So she was scheduled for eviction on that Thursday evening. I had a headache Monday and into Tuesday, but it was manageable. By Wednesday afternoon it was a screaming migraine and I knew that as soon as I called Labor and Delivery, they'd induce me right away (as bad migraine is a sign of worsening pre-eclempsia and all that). So I waited for Peawhistle to get home from her very first day of kindergarten and I limped to a phone and called and sure enough they told me to come and in and bring all my hospital crap with me. [Fun sidestory: on PW's first day of preschool I went to the hospital for a high risk appointment and they wound up keeping me there and inducing Peanut; PW's first day of kindergarten I would up going to the hospital and being induced with SweetPea--totally not even planned, but way for her siblings to completely overshadow PW's personal milestones, eh?)

And it is here and now that I will openly whine and complain about one of the greatest gift God has ever given me. WORST LABOR EVER. FOR ME ANYWAY. Well, technically the worst delivery ever would have resulted in no baby and/or my demise, so not really the worst delivery ever, BUT certainly very painful. There was nothing the staff could do to assist in my dialation as I was just barely at 3cm when I went in Wednesday afternoon and 3cm is all they can get you to with their magic pills and balloons and whatever else they can think to shove up there, so all they could do was stick me on pitocin to start contractions. And 12 hours later I had progressed to a whopping 4 cm! Hooray for all that fricking excruciating pain for nothing! I've always wondered what going into labor naturally would feel like since I've heard forcing it with pitocin is a million times worse, and I had high hopes for this one, but oh well. And it is usually because of this unnecessarily accelerated pain that most folks on pitocin with no signs of natural labor starting any day soon choose to go with an epidural, as I did. And wouldn't you know it, it was medical student day there in L&D and I had a student try it three different times in three different places in my spine, all without result, before her mentor stepped in and supposedly did it right, also without pain relief in any form. But at least my back still hurts from it nearly three weeks later, so that's good anyway! And the best part? Dr. SourPuss who looked like she was in labor every second I saw her and yet, not being pregnant, I'm fairly sure she wasn't and thus had absolutely no excuse for her major attitude problem. This is the same woman who thought my hoo-hoo was her personal mitten. Remember the OJ trial where OJ kept trying to fit that glove over his too-big hand? That was her and me. And the woman would NOT STOP. She'd get in there and twist and turn and poke and prod and scrape and puncture and rip and whatnot, all while I'm screaming at her to get the hell out and away from me, which only made her do it all the more purely out of spite. I hate that woman. The rest of the crew, including the 3,582 medical students and nurses who were learning on the job and constantly taking my BPs, listening to my heart and lungs, testing my reflexes, poking my legs and feet, taking my temperature, and all every 5-10 minutes or so, were all very nice to me. The real nurses assigned to me were brilliant about delivering every combination of pain killer they possibly could for my migraine and bringing bags of ice from the ice machine for my head every half hour. I am forever in their debt. After a couple of days the migraine finally went away, but that was after the delivery of course, which didn't make it any better naturally. So after the 18 hour delivery (aren't they supposed to get shorter with each kid, not longer?), we had our sweet baby girl. And immediately after expelling her I turned to the Husband and said, "We are NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN." He agreed.

And SP had a hole in her head. It's called cutis aplasia and can be associated with horrific birth defects, but sometimes just shows up without reason and eventually heals over and whatnot. Basically, the skin didn't completely form over a very small spot on top of her head so it looked like someone dug a spoon into her scalp and scooped the skin out of it (they didn't though). Two weeks later it's completely healed over and the worst to be expected is no hair will ever grow from the scar. Meh, big deal. Coulda been much worse. Speaking of which, remember when they tested me three months into this pregnancy and announced that based upon my blood results I had a higher risk of having a baby with something awful like Trisomy 13 or 18? Her hole in her head is what gave them the false positive for that test. The presence of such a skin problem was evident even that early on, and since it can also be seen with 13/18 kids, it came up as positive on the test. Honestly, the medical world never ceases to amaze me.

But what makes this story even more entertaining was the head of Neonatology at the hospital who magically appeared the second it was reported that our kid had a hole in her head. She was an odd duck, this doctor, and she wandered the hospital with her own entourage of little medical students furiously scribbling notes whenever she spoke. I swear, you have never seen a doctor so excited to see a birth defect like this. I mean, she was just BARELY containing her smile as she spoke to us about it. She ran and retrieved her medical books about this with pictures of what SP had, which happened to be next to the photos of the worst versions of what kids with 13/18 could expect to be seen with, and with her reassurance that that didn't apply to us and we shouldn't look at those. All while she was showing them to us. Nice. So after she gleefully told us about the baby's problem and the phone calls she'd already made over to the main Hopkins Hospital to everyone who would be interested, who also definitely were, she yelled at her students to take photos of our kid's head in every position possible, at every angle, with and without flash, etc. "Well did you try the macro setting?? Well then get a camera that HAS it! Run!" And then she'd turn to us and, again, just barely keeping her feet on the ground, excitedly inform us that, "I only see this sort of thing about once a year. But don't worry, she's totally fine!" All while we could see she hoped and prayed she wasn't.

The next day she informed me that I was asleep when they came to tell me they were hauling the baby off for an ultrasound of her head by order of the main Hopkins hospital, so she, with her crew, told me after the fact, and that they were anxiously awaiting the results. I noted with much amusement that when she did finally come back with the results, her line of medical students was missing. She popped her head into my room, tossed the results on my bed and said, "Um, yeah, she's totally fine. Perfectly normal. Bye." and she scampered away. Well, more like dragged her feet out of there with a sad look on her face, but whatever. If this has reinforced one thing for me, it's that it's never a good thing when doctors are intensely interested in your child. Unfortunately, doctors are still intensely interested in Peanut. I don't need two kids like that.

Oh, oh, oh, and then there was The Nurse. When they switched me over to the recovery room where I stayed for a day or two after the delivery, I was assigned nurses in the morning and at night. At night I had the same nurse both times, but during the first day I had The Nurse. The second we met she seemed incredibly nervous. I have no clue why. I mean, I hadn't even threatened that one so what did she have against me? So all day she was walking on egg shells around me like some headcase. Because of my ever-persistant migraine, the nursery was very good about taking SP so I could get some sleep. Or rather, my night nurse was very good about insisting the nursery take her so I could get some sleep. I loved my night nurse. Greatest person in that hospital. Anyway, all day The Nurse kept asking me if I needed my baby or whathaveyou. If I knew she was sleeping peacefully in the nursery, mostly because I used to sneak across the hall and peek in the window to look at her and note that she was, I'd tell her no and that she and I were both just fine. Why pester the kid, am I right? Never bug a sleeping baby, folks. If they're happy, just let 'em be. This worried The Nurse to no end. The next morning nurse was awesome. I asked what else I had to wait for before being discharged and she said I still needed my Rhogam shot, and then she paused and said, "Your nurse from yesterday recommended that we call a social worker because she didn't think you were properly bonding with your baby. But the rest of the nurses said they didn't see that and I've been with you all of five minutes and I can see that's not the case at all, you're bonding with her just fine. So I'm not going to do that." THANK YOU AWESOME NURSE. What the hell?? I have CPS called on me and I'm not even out of the damn hospital yet?!? Holy crap alive! I will say here and now that The Nurse is an idiot. Has she honestly never seen a woman not hold her baby obsessively every fricking second of the day? What you're seeing here, dear lady, is not a lack of bonding but an overabundance of experience. Third kid, lady. I know what it's going to be like when I bring her home. I know I will have numerous hours upon hours with this child to look forward to. I also know how to accept help when it's offered, especially when it's being offered by professionals who are being PAID to watch her. And on top of that, I had a bloody migraine that would not have gone away otherwise. On top of this, I am the sort of mother who holds the baby constantly. Honestly, I am. I know you would never believe me unless you saw it, but unless she happens to be sleeping somewhere else for a couple of minutes (like her car seat or something) then I am holding her. I sleep next to her. I put her down to pee and shower and that's it. I know this about me: that I'm paranoid to not be with my babies constantly for fear they'll stop breathing. Part of that is just natural paranoia and part of it is Peanut's history. Everyone asks if that doesn't put more stress on me, but honestly it reduces the stress for me overall. If I can't see the baby and know that he/she's breathing, I freak out. So I simply don't put them down. So to have someone who is more adept at caring for newborns than I offer to take her for a few hours so I can get some sleep to dull my head pain is very kind and I'll take it, dammit. I wonder how many other women who have gladly take the nursery up on their offer have been called on by social services for it? Nice. Very nice.

SweetPea is doing well, despite my horrific parenting in the hospital. She is easier to figure out than the other two were: all she asks is to be fed, burbed, rested, and changed, in that order. Otherwise, she merely looks around very curiously, wondering why she was forced outside two weeks too early and why she was sent to us and not better parents. And oh my, the hair. The other two were hairless wonders, but this one. Oh my the hair!! I figure God put it there to distract us from the hole in her head and to cover it up a bit, which it certainly does. And honestly, she is so sweet. The Husband has never been too up on newborns as he's a little nervous around them, but this baby already has him wound around her little finger. PW adores her and Peanut is actually very gentle with her (now), occasionally giving her loving pats on the head and gently poking her eyes and nose (he's learning the names of facial features now, see). For someone who was created slightly unexpectedly, she's become the favorite of everyone around her. What a sweet doll.

Thanks again to everyone who helped make her entry into this world a healthy one, including everyone who prayed for her/us and helped reduce my BPs for as long as possible (it definitely prolonged her gestation). You're wonderful people. Also, thanks for never calling CPS. Really.