Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Update: Baby Health

It has been a hectic, scary, exhausting couple of days. I feel about 100 years older...but the good news is, all tests so far say that Connor is ok. To me, that is the most important thing.

So here's what happened...

Connor slept longer than usual Monday night...about 7 hours uninterrupted. When he woke up I noticed that his fontanel (soft spot) was bulging and firm. This had happened once before a couple of weeks ago when he had slept through the night and I googled it and read that the fontanel will sometimes bulge on babies who are or have been laying down, but it should go back down when they are sitting up. It did go back to normal within an hour of him being awake and active so I wasn't terribly concerned. I called his doc anyway and they just told me to keep an eye on it and gave me a list of symptoms to look out for, none of which he presented.

So Tuesday morning I wasn't terribly concerned, at first, when his fontanel was bulging, but I began to worry when it wasn't down by the time I was ready to drop him off at daycare. I had planned to leave him with them and then call his doctor's office when they so far as putting him in his room and getting to my car, but I couldn't do it. I turned around and went back for him. Called his doc right at 8 and they told me they wanted me to come in for the first appointment of the morning. We got there and they did their exam and determined yes, there was bulging. He was behaving happy and playful, though, so they weren't terribly concerned. They had to rule out excess fluid of brain bleeding so they scheduled us for a CT that afternoon. Poor Connor had to go without eating until after the scan, so he didn't get anything to eat from 7am-1pm. He usually eats every 3 hours so you might imagine he was rather hungry and tired at the end of it. We got the CT scan results at about 3:30pm and everything checked out ok. They doctor said they couldn't explain why his fontanel was bulging but they didn't think anything was wrong with him. They gave me a list of symptoms to keep an eye out for and called it a day.

That evening, around Connor's bedtime I kissed his forehead and he seemed a little hot so I took his temp. 101.6. I called the on call doc and told her about the bulging fontanel and fever and she just told me to keep an eye on the temp and his behaviour (if he seemed lethargic, excessively sleepy, irritable) I should go to the E.R. She also told me to call back in the morning because they would probably want to examine him again. When Connor woke for his night feeding I noticed that the bulging was a lot worse and it looked and felt like a goose he had bumped his head or something. He seemed normal though so I waited to call the doctor at 8 like I had been instructed.

Much to my anger and frustration, they told me that I needed to go straight to the E.R. That since he had a fever it meant he had an infection that was causing the bulging and the hospital would need to run tests. I was upset because they had told me that the CT had ruled out any problems, and because the on-call doc hadn't told me to go to the E.R. when I called her that night. As I drove to the hospital I couldn't help but worry about any damage that might have been done because we didn't get there sooner.

When we arrived at the hospital they told me that the primary concern was meningitis, which I knew from my Googling...but they weren't terribly concerned that he had it because he still seemed reasonably happy and playful. They also needed to do blood work to check for other possibly serious infections. Again, poor Connor had to go about 6 hours without eating...but this time was much worse because he had to under go a lot of painful poking and prodding.

They couldn't find a vein in his hand or arm so there was about 15-20 minutes of him screaming as they squeezed and stuck him over and over again. They never could get an IV in, and barely got enough blood for the tests. They told me it was because he's so chunky!

Then came time for the LP. For that there was no sedation and no sugar-water paci for soothing. They didn't want me in the room but I wasn't about to leave him alone so I watched the procedure. He was stripped naked, folded in half, and held there forcefully while they did took his spinal fluid. The poor guy was trying to scream but his lungs were compressed so he could only force out strangled whimpers. The worst part was the nurse holding him wasn't experienced and it took him a good 10 minutes of struggling with the doctor who was guiding him getting ever more impatient before he got Connor in the right position.

Afterwards he was finally allowed to eat and barely got through half a feeding before collapsing into a deep, exhausted sleep.

An hour or so later we got the results. Connor has a virus, but nothing serious. The virus is causing increased cranial pressure, but isn't damaging him or life-threatening. The doctor told me that some babies get the bulging fontanel when they are sick and so it may happen again. I asked her how I would know if there was something really wrong. She told me that he would look bad....vomiting, refusing to eat, listlessness....etc.

This made me cry a little inside because so many relatively MINOR illnesses cause these symptoms, and if he gets a bulging fontanel EVERY time he has a little bit of the flu or whatever then we're going to have to go back to the E.R. a lot....cause I can't EVER ignore the combination of those symptoms due to the possibility that it IS something life-threatening like meningitis.

So we finally got home from the hospital around 3 and Connor has slept for most of that time. He is still running a bit of a fever so I am giving him Tylenol. He probably needs it anyway cause it wouldn't surprise me if he is sore after all that happened today.

I am exhausted myself, these past 2 days I haven't had sleep so much as fitful bouts of unconsciousness. I broke down and went out and bought one of those Angel Care baby monitors that will sound an alarm if the baby stops breathing and moving. I think it is the only way I will be able to ever have a hope of sleeping again.

Thank you all for the thoughts, prayers, etc. They were and are appreciated.

Connor in his baby sized hospital gown:

Connor wearing heat packs on his hands to bring out a vein:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm In Trouble

Last night Connor was sitting in his Bumbo seat on the kitchen counter watching me as I went through my nightly routine of cleaning my pump and readying his bottles for the next day. I was singing and dancing around trying, unsuccessfully as it were, to keep him entertained. I am not as amusing to him as I was a mere 2 months ago. It probably won't be long until I am no longer cool either.

When I didn't respond immediately to his squawks of frustration, he began to arch his back attempting to get out of the seat. They put a warning on those seats about not using them on elevated surfaces for a reason. He's 5 months old now, not too young to learn when he is doing something wrong so I looked him directly in the eyes and gave him my firmest "NO!" His response? He laughed. He thought my hard mommy voice was hilarious. It didn't take long for him to realize that the back arching would elicit the Mommy No from me, and every time I said it he laughed even harder. Baby giggles are infectious. You know this. I know this...and I SHOULD have been able to resist them, but it wasn't long until I was laughing too. I finally gave up and took him out of his Bumbo seat before he launched himself into the floor in a fit of mirth at me actually attempting to do the parent thing.

For the record, that's Connor: 1 / Mommy: 0

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Single Parent Dating...

Dating is rough. Dating as a single parent is like a cheesy b-rated horror flick. The acting is bad, the make-up is half-assed, and you're either totally creeped out, or laughing at the absurdity of it all. At least, that has been my experience so far.

Added to the awkwardness of attempting to balance work, parenthood, family and friend obligations and a dating social life, I've found that my cautious nature has expanded exponentially to encompass someone I am far more protective of myself. It makes me take a much deeper look at potential dates as they enter the ring.

Of those that have passed my initial screen so far, one committed so many classic first date blunders (arriving 30 minutes late, with no wallet, only talking about himself, blatantly checking out other women, etc) that I had to wonder if he really wanted to be there at all. The next one went beautifully until he unexpectedly began cussing at me and calling me every foul name in the book because I had the audacity to suggest that I was looking forward to my little one becoming a bit more independent so I could take a shower in peace and not be greeted by a chorus of angry wails when I got out. Apparently this makes me a TERRIBLE mother and person. And then there was one who was perfectly nice in every way and I had nothing really to complain about...but I just got the feeling that it wasn't going to go anywhere so I ended it. That last one led me to wonder if I am even ready for this dating thing at all.

But, here I am still...putting it out there, because I know if I give up what I really want will never manifest. So here's hoping that the bad movie with the terrible dialogue and silly costumes at LEAST has a good ending.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Frugal Diet - Tips and Suggestion Requests

Here are some tips I have for saving money while eating healthier and lighter, and while we are on the topic, I would love to hear suggestions from other people!

Diet Drinks:

The hardest thing for me when I am trying to lose weight is avoiding soda. There are diet drinks available, but they tend to have the problem of being icky or expensive.

Diet Coke - Awful aftertaste
Coke Zero- Good, but can be expensive.

I have found, much to my delight that the Publix Brand sodas are pretty good, and at $.68 for a 2-liter, you can't beat the price. I recommend Diet Black Cherry. I honestly can't tell that it is a diet drink and I LOVE the flavor.

Fuze has several 10 Calorie per serving flavors, and has the added benefit of added vitamins. It is rather expensive, though. However, Kroger currently has this on a 10 for 10 sale, so if you read this in time, I suggest going and stocking up. It, obviously, isn't as good as a deal as the Publix soda, but if you like it this is a cheap way to pick it up.

Coffee - If you work in an office, there is a good chance that it is free. If not, it is still very economical to make. I have discovered that it is an excellent appetite suppressant, and if you use Splenda or some other sugar alternative to sweeten and low-cal creamer it can have a only a small impact on your calorie intake and has the added benefit of waking you up a little.

Ok, that's all I have for the moment. I will post more as the come along. I expect to make The Frugal Diet a weekly topic if I can.

Progress so far? -0.8

14.2lbs to go! We're counting down!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I WILL Win, Darn You.

I'm stuck. I have been working to lose 15lbs for 2 months now. I lose some, then regain it. Lose, gain, lose, gain. My only comfort is that I haven't gone over a certain amount. I REFUSE to lose the ground I have made so far.

I blame the holidays. I do well for a few days and then there is another event that encourages gluttony and indulgence. I also blame soda. I had weaned myself off it for the most part, but then I let myself have a little...after that I had a LOT. I had to put a stop to that so my only beverages have been 1% milk, coffee with splenda & powdered creamer, diet soda, 10 Calorie Fuze, and Water. (What can I say? I'm a thirsty girl) The only calories I have to worry about is the milk and creamer.

When I lose this 15lbs I will be on a MISSION to lose 40. Cause if I can get those 15, I can get the 40. I know that sounds crazy, but I will be hitting a HUGE milestone when I lose those 15 that I am NOT mentioning here.

So I want to knock out those 15lbs by March, and the other 40 by Connor's first Birthday. If I make it, I will have lost 100lbs within the span of a year. Connor will have a mommy who actually has a chance to keep up with him when he starts to walk.

The only difficult part will be keeping enough calories and fat in to keep my milk up. If I skip meals my milk dwindles, so I can't take short cuts. I just have to be healthy. I can do healthy. I was doing it when I had to do it for Connor...I just have to remind myself that THIS is for Connor too. He deserves a fit, healthy mom who can keep pace with him as he grows and becomes more active.

I am really looking forward to when the days start to get longer so he and I can take walks in the evening.

I am not the only one with a weight loss goal.

A friend is also working on losing weight, so hopefully we can help keep each other on task.

Wish me luck! ...and if I come to eat at your house, only offer me good stuff.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Joy and Pain and Anger

My step is eager as I enter the building. It's been a long day and I am looking forward to seeing him, holding him again. Before I enter the hallway that leads to his door, I can hear his frantic cries. The women who watch the door greet me, but I breeze past them un-noticing, my walk almost a run. I force myself to open the door to his room carefully in spite of my anxiety so not to bang into a little one that might be in it's path. I see him a moment later, trapped in a walker that, meant to entertain small children, has become his upright prision. I rush to him and lift him up into my arms. The moment his body touches mine his screaming quiets into thick, choking sobs. His body is hot and damp from sweat and his cheeks bear crusty trails of dried tears. I press his cheek to my own, his fresh tears wetting my face. His sobs subside and he wimpers softly as if to say "Where were you mommy?" He nestles closer and digs his hands into the fabric of my shirt, balling it in his tight little fists letting me know he is NOT going to let me go. I stroke his downy head and murmer to him softly. His panting breath finally slows, although a few hitching sighs escape. My chest is tight. Guilt, frustration, anger. I pull my face away from his just enough that I can look him in the eyes and tell him how sorry I am that I have to leave him to go to work, and that I can't leave him in a better place...but when his giant brown eyes greet mine, his face splits into a huge toothless grin. "Hi mommy!" he says, without speaking. I touch his cheek and his smile broadens even further. My aching heart amazes me by stretching further to somehow allow me to love him even more. I take a few deep breaths and gather his things together so we can leave. I hate the place, and yet I know I will be back again tomorrow.

By the time we reach the truck, he is already asleep in his carrier. I try to secure him into it's base as gently as possible so not to disturb him. He only grunts and snores a little as it locks into place. I slide into the driver seat, but before I start the engine I give myself a moment to contemplate in the silence. My emotions threaten to overwhelm me and tears sting at the back of my eyes. I feel guilt that I can't stay home with him so he doesn't have to go to daycare, and I hate the daycare for not giving him everything he needs even though I know that the nubmer of children they care for make doing so impossible. I feel guilty that I am INCAPABLE of providing him better. I think of his medical bills and know that there are soon going to be more added and I wonder how I am going to pay. I sort through my budget in my head, trying to find something else I can cut, even though I know I have gone over this a hundred times or more already and not come up with any new answers. I think of SD and his perfect new life and know that THEY aren't worrying about finding the money to pay for food or rent, and the kids that ARE NOT HIS his have new clothes, and new toys and don't have someone who has to make a choice between paying for their insurance or decent child-care. Somehow I manage to hate HIM a little bit more until it all melts into a deep, profound exhaustion and the under-current of depression that always plagues me swaddles me in it's cool, familiar grasp. And yet, I turn and touch the smooth, perfect cheek of my child and he sighs contentedly in his sleep. The love I have for him makes the struggle seem worthwhile, even if the weight of the worries never seem lighter.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Surprise Mommy!

Today when I went to feed Connor on my lunch break, he did a new trick for me. It was sooo obviously a "Mommy! Look what *I* can do!" moment. He was looking me right in the eye when he did it with this HUGE smile on his face. He was so proud! I am too, of course!! Extra kisses for Connor cause he's a big boy!

Fortunately he did it again for the camera!