Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hitting the panic button

So, I don't know if you've heard, but there's this swine flu thing going around.

Are you sick of hearing about it yet?? I know I am. It is not helping that I have this paranoid freakness left over from when Caroline was in the NICU. I'm absolutely terrified of her getting sick, going back to the hospital, or worst of all, losing her. Really, I couldn't care less if I get this stupid pig flu, except that then I wouldn't be able to care for her. This is a terrible thing about being a mom, I am discovering. Reading the news and hearing about it nonstop just gives me this sick feeling in my stomach and makes me feel all shaky, thinking about something like that happening to my baby.

Tyler thinks I'm totally nuts. (Chances are, you do too, at this point... but hey, it's my blog and I'll freak out if I want to!) Our phone conversation from this morning, after I read the news about the toddler in Texas who died:

Me: We're not taking Caroline anywhere unnecessary until this whole thing is over with.
Tyler: Okay, fine, but I think you're going a little overboard here.
Me: I don't care, I'd rather be safe than sorry.
Tyler: Should I also pick up a shovel on my way home, so we can dig ourselves a bunker?
Me: Yes. But wear a mask at the shovel store.

Clearly, I need to step away from the CNN. It's scary, though, you have to admit! I definitely learned way too much in college about flu pandemics and how we're overdue for one. I had this one particular evolution professor who was obsessed with the idea. There are also three suspected cases in CT as of right now (all people who just traveled to Mexico), one right down the road from us. Still, I almost feel ashamed posting about it, because there's already enough propaganda about this flu out there on the internet.

And on that note, I will quit writing about it and try to stop obsessing! Luckily I have America's Next Top Model to distract me! Love this show...

Monday, April 27, 2009

And now for Caroline's latest trick!

Blood in her spit-up! Wahooo!

Sigh. I woke up to this lovely new development the other night, and rushed to the pediatrician in the morning for the third time in a week. I think they're about as sick of me as I am of them.

They said it was due to irritation of her stomach or esophageal lining from the reflux. They called the GI specialist for me, whose advice was to put her on two new medications, get rid of one of her old medications, and have me give up dairy in case she has a sensitivity. We'll be going to see the specialist in early June, which was their first available appointment. These suggestions seem to have helped... at least, I haven't seen any more blood and she hasn't had any more choking episodes.

So, I'm glad I don't have to switch to pumping or formula to thicken her feeds. BUT. It really stinks to have to give up dairy. I love my ice cream, cheese, chocolate, etc... and constantly checking labels for crap like "lactulose" is not especially fun. I was hoping that the excess lipase thing would be the last hurdle, but apparently not. I should be happy that I get to keep breastfeeding after I worked so hard to do it... but instead I am sulking about my dairy. Sulk. Sulk. Sulk.

The other breastfeeding issue du jour: I have mastitis. (That's a boob infection, for those lucky enough to not know anything about it.) Tyler was in Canada all last week so I didn't get enough sleep, and I was totally stressed by all Caroline's health problems, both of which can contribute to getting an infection. The worst part-- it's the kind of infection that starts way at the end of the nipple with a blister, and the milk gets all the way backed up to your armpit. (You're welcome.) The solution? Going to the doctor and having them stick a needle in your boob.

That is correct. I said stick a needle in your boob. Sonofabitch. Wish me luck with that one.

But somehow despite all her reflux issues and her cranky sick mommy, Caroline is still the happiest baby around:

How cute is that!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Whose leg do I have to hump to get a referral around here?

I took Caroline in to the pediatrician yesterday to discuss her recent flare-up of le reflux. It did not go especially well. First I put her on the scale and discovered that she had lost three ounces since Friday. (In case you were unclear on this, the only person who's supposed to be losing weight around here is me.) I silently panicked until the doctor came in, but when I pointed it out to him, he said "oh, well, that isn't that much weight." I ignored this nonsense and told him about the airway issues she's been having. His response, in a nutshell: "Sometimes that happens with kids who have reflux."

I'll take "Bitches I'd Like to Slap" for 800, Alex.

Seriously, what in the hell? I tell you that my two-month-old, who has previously been hospitalized in intensive care for this very reason, cannot breathe and is losing weight and you think it's no big deal?! (This was a different doctor from the one we saw last week.) I fixed him with my Death Stare (which I have been perfecting in preparation for Caroline's first boyfriend) and told him I'd like a referral to a pediatric GI specialist, thanks very much. He gave it to me. The Death Stare cannot be denied.

So we will be going to a specialist, hopefully ASAP. I'm really not looking forward to the process-- I know they will be running lots of tests and she may even be admitted to the hospital for them-- but with any luck they will have some kind of solution.

Although if they ask me to switch to exclusively pumping or formula-feeding (so that we can thicken her feeds to help them stay down), I will flip my shit. I'll do whatever they ask, of course. But wouldn't that be ironic, after all our struggles to ditch the bottle? I'm just warning you guys, be prepared for a very whiny post if that is their solution. (You can skip it. I'd never know.)

So now we play the waiting game... hopefully it doesn't take too long to get an appointment. Fingers crossed!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reflux: 1 billion. Me: zero.

Okay, this will teach me to brag about how well things are going! I think that's just how life goes with a baby, though-- you get the hang of one thing and another thing pops up.

Poor Caroline's reflux is totally out of control. If you remember, her reflux was the reason she was in the NICU for so long, because she got aspiration pneumonia from it. Well, it's been sort of up and down ever since, but lately I feel like it's taken over our lives! She spits up multiple times at every feeding. We go through at least 8 outfits per day. Often I can't even get her from my boob to my shoulder to burp her before she's spewed at least half an ounce all over herself, me, the couch, and the dog. Her medications (Prevacid and Zantac) have made her more comfortable with the spitting up-- it doesn't burn her little esophagus anymore-- but they don't reduce the sheer volume of it. I would be okay with it... I mean, I can do more laundry without a problem, and she seems comfortable... but she went in for her 2-month appointment on Friday and this is how it went:

Doctor: Is she nursing well?
Me: Yes, she nurses really well, but she does spit up a huge amount.
Doctor: Well, she's in the 5th percentile for weight, but that might just be her growth curve.
Me: ...I'm sorry, the what?
Doctor: The 5th percentile.

Okay, no, I didn't drop an F-bomb on the pediatrician. But I wanted to. Because AARRGHH!! I worked so hard to breastfeed exclusively, and don't get me wrong, I'm glad I do it-- but it's so hard not to feel like it's your fault when you're the sole source of nutrition and your child isn't gaining weight. (When she was born, she was somewhere around the 40th percentile. A drop to the 5th is no bueno.) The pediatrician didn't seem that concerned at the time since she had gained over a pound since her last visit, but then later in the day she called me back and interrupted my obsessing to tell me that she wanted Caroline back on weight checks to "make sure she's on the right track".

It's never what you expect it to be, you know? I used to be afraid of losing my supply or some other common problem, but my supply is super-awesome-- she just can't keep any of it down.

And as if that wasn't enough...

The very next morning, I was holding Caroline in bed and passed her to Tyler to reach for my Boppy. This was maybe 2 hours after a feeding. Suddenly, I heard Tyler say in a terrified voice "what's wrong with her??" I looked over and spit-up was coming out her nose and mouth and she had such a scared look in her eyes, and she wasn't breathing, and she had a bluish tinge around her lips. I FREAKED OUT. I flew out of bed and down the hall to get her booger sucker and suctioned her little nose and mouth like crazy until she was breathing again, while Tyler whacked her on the back.

There is nothing more terrifying than having your child not be able to breathe. I swear. Nothing can possibly compare to it. You can't breathe, you can barely see, you can't think, you feel like you're drowning. It seemed like it took hours to get her airway clear... I'm sure it was under a minute. I'm certified in infant CPR but that does not matter in that situation because you are too petrified to even remember your own name, let alone the sequence of CPR.

So now I am afraid to go to sleep because I'm scared that she will choke on spit-up and I'll wake up to the unthinkable. And of course Tyler is in Canada this week-- awesome. I'm taking her to the doctor today and demanding a referral to a pediatric GI specialist because clearly this reflux is not under control. I'm also contemplating demanding a monitor, even though I hated the monitor in the NICU. I suspect they will put her on one even if I don't ask, because airway issues are so serious.

I just want my little girl to be safe and feel better. Oh, and reflux? I hate you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Life is good.

Having a newborn was hard in ways I never imagined. I don't just mean the NICU experience, either. You have this tiny, beautiful person that you somehow managed to create, and you are totally in awe of her, but at the same time you're completely enslaved to her. You get up a million times a night. You feel more tired than you've ever felt. Sometimes you are both completely covered in spit-up and you can't tell which one of you is crying louder. Really, you don't get a whole lot in return for all the things that you do, and it can feel pretty thankless at times. You're also completely terrified that you will somehow break your child, and you're convinced that half of what you're doing is totally wrong. You worry that you're somehow failing her, and it feels like an endless, exhausting parade of nursing and dirty diapers and crying and shushing and bouncing. (Sorry, just telling it like it is! I can't be the only one who thinks these things.)

But one day you are sitting up and feeding your baby at some obscenely early morning hour, and you realize that even though you are dead tired, this is a time when you have an excuse to do nothing but cuddle with your baby and stare at her perfect eyelashes and ears. Another day you go to pick baby up when she's done with her nap, and she gives you the biggest toothless grin you've ever seen, just because you are you, and she sees you standing there. Nursing finally becomes surprisingly easy, if you've chosen to do that. You start to get more sleep at night. She starts to stay awake more during the day, and seems like a real little person with a true personality, and you can really tell that she loves you unconditionally, whether you feel like you deserve it or not.

Can you tell things have changed around here? Caroline has been sleeping through the night consistently for about two weeks now. Breastfeeding is suddenly kind of effortless. She seems healthy and happy and is doing all sorts of new and fun things, like actually playing with her toys, flipping herself onto her back on her playmat, smiling at us, and cooing when we talk to her. We've established somewhat of a routine, and we do fun things like walk to the park down the street to look at the geese and turtles.

Overall, things are looking up. She is such a joy to spend time with, and I no longer have guilty feelings about "giving up my whole life" to stay home with her. She IS my whole life, for now, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm 25!

It's my birthday today, and Caroline's gift to me has been a whole week of sleeping through the night!

It's strange to me that I'm married with a baby at 25... I didn't ever think I would be either at this point.

Well, I'm off to celebrate by snuggling my little one! Non-lame blog post (we hope ;) coming soon.