One and Done

Luffy and I have decided. We’re changing our life-plan and sticking with our little family of three. One child. Just the dumpling. Honestly, other than my absurd wish to be pregnant again (anyone need these rose-colored glasses?) and hold a newborn (but only for like half an hour), the thought of just having one child brings me a lot of peace.

I wrote once, on a community board, that I feel like I’m too selfish to have another child. Not in a bad way, but more in a self-care way. Not to knock the dumpling or anything, but there are so many other things I enjoy in life. Plus, I’m not really into the whole mom sacrifices everything – her time, her body, her identity, EVERYTHING – to raise children. At the end of the day, I still want – nay NEED – time for myself. Time for my interests and hobbies, like exercising and travel. I’d really like to be able to teach at least three exercise classes a week again. Luffy and I would love to go to Italy again and we can’t wait to introduce our child to the joys of traveling. And hell, I need time to take care of myself. I’m a much better person with 15 minutes of peace and quiet. I don’t want to become a mother who hasn’t had a decent meal all day or whose children are well-dressed but she’s in sweats and unwashed hair. [Nothing against those mothers! It’s just not for me.]

With the plan for one child a go, Luffy and I have already started to become excited for the near future again. Travel! With and without the dumpling! We’re that much closer to getting a dog (because I refuse to be the primary care-giver for a puppy at the same time as a baby)! We’re that much closer to retirement! We’re that much closer to diaper-free days and meltdown-free days and – GUESS WHAT?! – we no longer have any newborn days in our future again! HOLLA!! WOOT WOOT!! and etc!!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware we might change our minds and we reserve the right to. Once the dumpling’s a little more independent and we’re through the ups/downs of early toddlerhood (read: teeeeeeeeeth because the dumpling is getting four right now). Once he can talk to us, maybe? We might change our minds. And that’s ok.

Right now though, my mental health is a lot, er, healthier with the thought of having just one. And that’s ok too.

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The Follow-up

We had our appointment with the neurologist this morning. It went well, all things considered. Really well, I’d say.

Our doctor did indeed have the results of the dumping’s MRI. He didn’t find any of the things he was concerned about (“crossed wires” or, even more frightening, a mass). He did note what’s called low-lying tonsils. Basically part of the dumpling’s brain protrudes through the base of his skull into his spinal column. Right now, all this means is something to monitor and triggers a follow-up MRI in a year. Our neurologist said that in the majority of cases like this (young patient, developing brain, etc), the malformation corrects itself. In about 25% of cases though, the malformation gets worse and he would be officially diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation. Which, if you open that link, is also a scary thing, but our doctor assured us that this is the type of thing we would have never known about without this early MRI and it’s quite possible that the dumpling will never have signs or symptoms of the condition. It’s simply a case of being able to know a little too much, much like his heart blip in utero.

As for the epilepsy, he’s been officially labeled as such, but in a softer, he’s-likely-to-outgrow-this sort of way. We’ll be continuing on the anti-seizure medication for two years. If he’s seizure-free for two years and has a normal EEG at that time, then we’ll discuss weaning him off of the medication. Another seizure-free year after that and we’ll be released from the care of the neurologist with a perfectly healthy preschooler. It sounds like a long road, but I’m hopeful that all will go smoothly and the dumpling will never have another seizure.


In other very important news, I bought the dumpling THE CUTEST pair of overalls at Hanna Anderson today and I cannot WAIT to try them on him!

Back to the routine

I must say, it feels good to slip back into a routine.

That was completely me. I lost all sense of the days and, even this week, I’m still lost as to whether it’s Tuesday or Wednesday. I used to love the times of the year when you get to kick back and lose yourself in the days of leisure, but with a toddler who does much better with routine, it feels so good to sink back into our cozy routine.

Unfortunately, our routine is being disrupted yet again this Friday by the dumpling’s MRI. Luckily, it should be fairly short, all things considered. I mean, the poor baby has to be sedated for the procedure so I was concerned they’d want to keep him for monitoring. I spoke to the radiology nurse yesterday though and she assured me that we’d likely be on our way by 10am at the latest. I still plan to keep him home though, to monitor him myself, so Friday should be an interesting day.

Luffy and I were talking the other day about how strange it is, having a child, in certain situations. For instance, while I was talking with the radiology nurse, she told me that two adults can wait in radiology, but then only one adult can go back with the dumpling. She said that adult could remain with him until he was asleep and then that person (which, who are we kidding, is going to be me) will be removed from the procedure area. And when she said that, my heart just seized up as my mind conjured up the image of my son under sedation, all alone in an MRI room. I won’t be allowed to rejoin him until he’s in recovery and I’m praying that he will take longer to wake up because I don’t want him to wake up without me being there. I mean, if he wakes up and no one’s there… my heart can’t take that.

Or, another example of this odd phenomenon where my heart squeezes involuntarily: our daycare is hesitant to move the dumpling into the next class (the toddler class, for ages 12-18mo). The dumpling’s 14mo now and finally walking pretty well. He’s actually already on the school’s lunch plan and we’re beginning to shift his schedule to align to the toddler class, so we asked them about the timing of his move to the next class. When they hesitated, we pressed and they told us that they thought he was too small. At first, we were dismissive (and also probably a touch defensive), but really, he’s small?! He’s probably always going to be on the smaller side of the class, at least until he hits his first pubescent growth spurt. What’s the cutoff here? I mean, if you hold him back for his size now, what about the next transition? He just broke twenty pounds (which we know thanks to a visit last Friday to our pediatrician!*), did they want him to be 22lbs or 25lbs? What exactly was their goal?

So, I asked my mother. A long, long time ago, she worked in a daycare (actually several, including running her own in-home daycare). My first clue as to the depth of her concern was that I texted her and she called me back. (Complete sidebar here – whenever you elevate the method of conversation, it always feels a touch more dire. Like if you email someone and they text you in return – or, in this scenario, you text someone and they call you back instead. But I digress…) She told me that if the daycare managers were hesitant to move the dumpling because of his size, it was very likely that the next class has some “assertive” toddlers – i.e. the toddlers that are in the pushing and hitting phase. His teachers have told me time and time again that if another baby takes a toy from the dumpling, he just goes to find another. He has such a sweet and passive personality (most of the time!). My mother said that she’d listen to the daycare managers, because she’d hate for the dumpling to go from a stellar daycare experience (seriously, he loves his teachers and class so much) to a classroom full of “bullies” who will quite literally run him over, physically and figuratively. And y’all – my heart just hurt for my son. It made me want to scoop him up and give him a hug. Or follow him into the toddler class to run interference for him against all of those bigger, pushier toddlers. Or, better yet, just keep him in the infant classroom with the teachers who already love him! Yes! Let’s do that!

Parenthood, right? It’s frustrating and fulfilling and heart-wrenching, all at the same time.


Now for a little observation that I really want to jot down:

My sweet baby has always loved to read. He loves books and turning the pages and lifting the flaps and hearing the stories. One of his favorite books (which was actually one of my favorites as a child!) is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. He also really like Sandra Boynton’s Doggies when he was really little, I think because of all of the doggie sounds. He’s gone one step further lately – he actually has favorite pages. And it’s very clear because he will thumb through a book with purpose until he lands on a particular page. And if we’re reading the book and I turn the page away from his favorite, he’ll immediately turn it back to have me re-read the page. Squee! Isn’t that just adorable?!

Right now, his favorite pages are the “nine dogs on a moonlit night” page from Sandra Boynton’s Doggies because we howl at the moon and he thinks that’s hilarious. His other favorite page is the “di-no-saurs sing-ing a di-no-saur song!” from her Oh My! Oh My! Oh Dinosaurs!. I think he likes it because I sing the words with much flair and embellishment. Plus, I occasionally decide to show off my skills at holding a note and hold on to the “song” until he’s smiling like a fool. Good times!

Anyway, wish us luck for Friday. I’m ready for next week when we can slip even further into our comfortable routines.

*The trip to the pediatrician last Friday was unscheduled but ultimately uneventful. The dumpling had a cold over Christmas, as I’ve mentioned. He ran a fever Friday through Sunday, but woke up fever-free on Christmas Day (Monday). He seemed to be improving and then he ran a fever again on Thursday afternoon. He didn’t have a fever Friday morning, but I spent a restless Thursday night with him as he tossed and turned and dozed fitfully. So, we went to the pediatrician’s for a clean-ish bill of health. Good thing too because the radiology people weren’t too jazzed about him having had a cold so recently and were quizzing me to make sure he hadn’t been diagnosed with the flu or RSV or something.

Post-holiday Recovery

Well then, that was depressing.

In hindsight, I think that I was just really upset over my parents leaving early. Even before the holiday, I had been bummed that they were only staying for a full day (Sunday afternoon through Tuesday morning, so basically just here for Christmas Day). So the abrupt departure was something I just couldn’t deal with. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the dumpling was a lot to handle, but topped off with my parents being here for just 24 hours, and voila! Existential crisis du jour.

If I may though, the decision to have a second child has been weighing heavily on my mind lately. I’m not sure if it’s the dumpling’s mini-tantrums or my concerns over his development or perhaps the lackluster Christmas we had. Regardless, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to whether I want to have a second child.

Luffy’s ambivalent on the matter, so it’s really up to me. He does, at least, concede that I do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to our son, especially right now when we are in the grips of parent-preference (me, of course). It is nice to hear, in a way, that he sees everything that I do, but it doesn’t help the decision about a second child because I know that I’ll be doing most of the work. Hopefully, the dumpling will be a bit more independent when/if this hypothetical second child makes an appearance, but I know I can’t just focus solely on the young child and leave the older to fend for himself.

On the one hand, it feels like such a cop-out to plan my life out based on what’s easier right now. Right now, I can’t comprehend throwing a second child into the mix. Another strong-willed, uneven tempered being. I barely keep up with the dumpling as it is and I am always happy to turn him over to daycare for the day (mama needs a break too!). Honestly, just the thought of “I will only have one child” brings me a lot of relief and peace. And since it does, is that my gut telling me that I’d be no good as a mother of two? Is it taking the easy road or is it taking my feelings into consideration regarding our family’s future? After all, no one wants to be that mom who looks back at her life and regrets her children.

I feel like we’re at a crossroads of sorts. We ventured down one life path (have a child!) and we’re coming to a fork. The path that we’re on now has been fun, yes! With the dumpling’s laughter and smiles – watching him learn to crawl and walk and eat solid food. But it’s also been hard. With nursing around the clock in the beginning to newborn meltdowns to toddler meltdowns to colds and stomach viruses and febrile seizures.

This post is just all over the place at the moment. Basically what I’m trying to say is that raising a child is hard – oh so very hard – and I do a lot of the truly hard stuff. So if I choose to only have one child – is that taking the easy way out of life? Would I regret it later, that I never put in the hard work upfront to later enjoy the rewards of multiple children? Or, is choosing to have one child simply listening to my gut feeling that I’m unhappy right now and that child-rearing is the source of my unhappiness?


To add in one of my patented to be fairs, we have had a few tough weeks here recently. First with the shenanigans at Thanksgiving, then the seizure, and Roseola, and a cold, and possibly molars, and Christmas letdowns – it’s probably not the best time to be making life decisions. In the midst of the holiday blues, I even forgot that just weeks ago I seriously contemplated writing up a post about just how happy I was. At the end of October and first week or so of November, I was completely content. I felt it to my very core, the feeling that all was right in my little world. I didn’t write the post, because I thought it would come off as too braggy – look at me and my cozy little family! – but now I’m sad that I didn’t. It would have been a nice reminder of just how happy my life can be.

The Aftermath

[Click here if you’re wondering what I might be referring to.]

Questions for the group: when will I stop compulsively watching the dumpling sleep? When will I stop latching on to random things (why’s he doing that thing with his leg? he’s never done that thing with his leg…) and wondering if they’re a sign or symptom? When will I stop feeling his forehead and cheeks for signs of a fever? When will I stop grabbing the thermometer when he cries in the middle of the night? When will I stop questioning whether this outburst is a symptom of his medication as opposed to a typical toddler tantrum? When will I stop looking at my child and wondering if this was a turning point (we had a great first year with him and then he had that seizure and things were never the same)? I know that’s an irrational thought, but it still crosses my mind and I wish it wouldn’t.

I told you that he was in the monitor’s blind spot when it happened. We bought a second monitor to eliminate the blind spot and I am absolutely perturbed that, in the day of Prime Now and same day shipping, it’s not getting here until next Tuesday. We now have both infant Tylenol and children’s Motrin on-hand. Previously, I just had Tylenol. I will no longer wait for a “moderate” fever to treat him and Motrin, with its 8 hour life, will be my go-to.

As terrifying as Monday night was, one of the worst moments occurred Tuesday when we got home. He needed a diaper change and my breath caught as I walked into his room. It was exactly as we left it. My slippers cast aside. The cloth diapers I’d grabbed as rags to catch the drool and vomit. Paraphernalia from the paramedics – a syringe wrapper and cap, for instance. The dumpling’s zippy on the chair and his pj’s in a heap on the floor. I couldn’t deal with it and asked my mom to straighten up. Just this morning, I went to grab his laundry and saw the pj’s. It all came rushing back as my mind conjured up the image of my son, convulsing and panting, eyes unfocused and hands drawn to his chest. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to put those pj’s on him again.

I know that time will soften this, but I can’t help but wonder how much time it will take. Part of me wishes we could fast forward to the point when all of this is an afterthought. For the year when I’ll say something like, oh yeah, you did have a seizure as a baby. In the meantime, I’m doing my best to stay positive and enjoy my son without all of the worries clouding my brain.

As a little PS anecdote, the paramedics who treated him Monday night were back on shift today. They stopped by our house to say hi and see how he was doing. They were happy to see him up and about. I was deeply touched by the gesture and wish that I could find a way to repay them, to thank them as profusely as they deserve. 

[Exhale]

When I first saw the dumpling sit up on the monitor over three hours after he had gone to bed Monday night, my first thought was oh maaaaaan, I hope he goes back to sleep. A selfish thought. I wanted to relax and head to bed myself, not spend twenty or thirty minutes patting and shushing. When we saw him lay back down only moments after sitting up, I silently urged him to go back to sleep. And then, we heard a cry. A startling, piercing, interrupted cry. He was in the monitor’s blind spot, so we couldn’t see him, but the cry was so out of place that both Luffy and I raced back to his room. Luffy got there first.

“Oh god,” he muttered to me or perhaps God himself as he picked the dumpling up. He passed him to me and even in the darkness, I knew something was terribly, terribly wrong. My baby was having a seizure.

Luffy flipped the light and asked me what we should do. I passed the dumpling back to Luffy and didn’t hesitate as I raced for my phone to call 911. When I returned, on the phone with the operator, Luffy was on the floor holding the still-convulsing dumpling. In what will probably be the longest minutes of my life, we anxiously awaited the paramedics as I raced around gathering diaper bag and wallet and shoes. The dumpling was still convulsing when the paramedics arrived and would continue to convulse for several minutes (right up until they were about to administer an anti-convulsant). The total length of time: 13 minutes. Thirteen agonizing, heart-breaking minutes that are seared into my memory.

The dumpling had actually had a fever that night, a mild one, but since he was still eating, drinking, and playing normally, we sent him to bed without a dose of medicine. The paramedic explained that it was a likely febrile seizure (seizure caused by a sudden spike in temperature in young children), but he advised we go to the hospital due to the length of the seizure. (A typical febrile seizure lasts about one to two minutes.) It was the first time I’ve ever ridden in an ambulance. Luffy followed behind as we traveled to a local Children’s Hospital. In the ambulance, the dumpling was stiff through his limbs and unfocused. He began emitting a constant cry/whine and the paramedics were unsure if he was lapsing into another seizure or coming through what’s known as the postictal state (a state of confusion and drowsiness following a seizure).

Once in the ER, the nurses and doctors began to examine the dumpling. They too were unsure of the second seizure or postictal state question, but moved him to a trauma room that was better equipped. In the end, the dumpling would need two anti-consvulsant medications delivered through an IV and respiratory support to bring the seizures and postulating (tightening of the muscles) under control. A CT scan was performed (especially in light of the fact that he bumped his head on a window sill Saturday night), but nothing was noticed there. In order to identify the source of the fever, a nasal culture and urine tests were analyzed, but the hospital was unable to find an explanation. We were admitted for the night for observation.

In the morning, the pediatric neurologist opted for an EEG, a test that would analyze the electrical patterns from the dumpling’s brain. This would better tell us if the dumpling just had one (though frighteningly long) seizure or more than one seizure. If his EEG was normal, we would be good to go without any follow-up care. If his EEG was abnormal, we’d proceed with an MRI. His EEG was abnormal and confirmed that the ER doctors likely saw a second (or even third) seizure that night. We have an MRI scheduled for January. We’ve also started a daily epileptic medication to help ensure the dumpling doesn’t have another seizure in the meantime. We were discharged from the hospital though, under our insistence that the dumpling get a good night sleep that night. (The neurologist had initially suggested keeping the dumpling a second night and having the MRI done inpatient, first thing this morning.)

Unfortunately, the dumpling was still running a fever this morning. We’re following his pediatrician’s advice for dosing him up with Motrin and Tylenol to keep the fever down. He’s cranky and tired, not that I blame him. I’m longing for my happy baby to come back. I wish I could make all of this better. I’ve started researching epilepsy, but I can only take so much (it’s never a good idea to look at medical reviews online but it’s an even worse idea to read through them for your child). I want to watch the dumpling chase after Luffy. I want to watch him sort through cabinets. I long for Saturday when all of this hadn’t happened and we were blissfully unaware of a potential problem with the dumpling’s brain.

I have to stay calm and positive though. We’ll take each day as it comes. Once the dumpling gets over whatever is causing his fever, I think I’ll be more capable of tackling the rest. After all, he’s lived 14 months with a brain that might be prone to seizures. If you’ll excuse me now, I need to go cuddle my baby some more.

Turkey Day 2017

We’re back! I hope your Thanksgiving was gluttonous. Ours was…. good? Bad? Clingy? Scream-y? No-sleep-y?

Sigh

Our mistake was staying too long. We were visiting my parents out in West Texas and flew in Tuesday morning with a return flight on Saturday at noon. Honestly, if we had left Friday morning instead, we probably would have avoided 80% of the crying and woe that we endured. (Yeah, Friday night was that bad.)

It all started pretty well. The dumpling was clingier and more tired than usual, but I expected that for the most part. His waketimes drastically shorten until he’s more familiar with his location, but that’s perfectly understandable. We worked around it for the most part, holding him for most of the early days or talking to relatives from the floor as we encouraged the dumpling to play. Extra patience at bedtime and holding him to lengthen a nap (which wuh?? did we bring along a newborn??). Luffy’s patience ran out about 2:30 on Thanksgiving day when we were both struggling to get a clearly tired dumpling to go the F to sleep and he tried to change our return flight. No dice, though I did manage to get the dumpling down just in time to go snuggle my cousin’s newborn!

The true trouble started on Friday night though. The dumpling was extra cranky and resistant at bedtime and fear shot into my heart when we heard him wake up just two short hours later. I managed to get him back down fairly quickly but he only stayed down for forty minutes or so. And here is where we made the biggest mistake, I think. I envisioned a very long night for us and, in an effort to make soothing easier for myself, tried to bring the dumpling into our bed for the night. Now, the dumpling hates co-sleeping, and I know this, but I thought that since he already had been asleep that his sleep drive would be enough for him to just conk out again. In reality though, we actually just ensured that he’d be wide awake by the time we re-arranged things. Then he treated the first couple hours of the night as a nap and wanted to party while we tried to get him back to sleep. By the time he was truly ready for sleep again (somewhere around midnight), he was far too touched out, I suppose, at all the patting and shushing and rubbing and holding.

Around 12:30 in the morning I decided to give him some space, which is when he decided to howl like a banshee. My poor mom woke up (though she assured me that she woke up to check on us) and convinced me to let her take him for a bit. The dumpling started crying even harder when I passed him over to her. I gave them ten minutes and poked my head out to hear my son still screaming. That’s when I threw in the towel and resigned myself for a very long night. I gave him a dose of Tylenol, just in case, and then held him as I talked with my mom. I then moved to the living room and sat down on the floor, where the dumpling finally passed out in my arms sometime around 1:30am. My sweet mom gathered blankets and a pillow for me and I scooched my way down into a reclined position and tried to ignore my protesting back and hips. Around 3:30 in the morning the dumpling rolled off me and face-planted into the floor where he slept soundly for another hour or so. After that he wanted back on my chest and slept there until 6am, when he was AWAKE! and ALERT! BRIGHT EYED AND BUSHY TAILED! Gah mom, what is your PROBLEM?? I walked him around the dark house until I reasoned that he might as well eat some breakfast if he wasn’t going back to sleep.

So, I got about an hour’s worth of sleep that night? I’m not really sure. Thankfully, Luffy took over mid-morning while I laid back down and got a nap in. The dumpling also got a good nap in before our flight (also thankfully – praise baby Jesus!). And then….. the flight.

The. Flight.

We managed to distract the dumpling with food for most of the flight. But, when we started our descent, all hell broke loose. He quite literally melted down. My best guess is that his ears needed to pop and that sort of just set off his whole DONENESS with the travelling situation. He was over it. He wanted to be out and off and was done. With me and his dad and everyone. I have never felt more embarrassed and ashamed on a flight and this is coming from a girl who once threw up on a flight because she was hungover (which, I would not recommend to anyone, was not a fun experience). He screamed and screamed and screamed, barely pausing for breath. He worked himself up so much I seriously thought he might vomit or pass out from lack of oxygen. He screamed right up until we walked off the plane. By this point, Luffy was boiling mad and I can’t really blame him. The whole experience was just miserable and didn’t really lessen up any on our Uber ride home, though we did at least get to joke with the person we inflicted our hollering child upon (and tip generously, I might add).

Then, ladies and gentlemen, I witnessed a damn near miracle. As I walked through our front door with the dumpling, he lit up. I kid you not. He was SO happy to be home. I had not put that child down since practically Tuesday and in an instant he wanted down and was off to say hi to Jas and find his Sharpies* and visit his toys. It was incredible to feel the tension and stress just melt away from him.

Sunday was wonderful as we spent quality time together again, laughing and playing and not holding him for 90% of his day. I had almost forgotten what our little boy was like normally while we had been away.

So whew. I am glad things are back to normal around here. We did have some fun. We ate lots of good food. Drank lots of champagne. My mom and I baked and made candy. We saw the house my brother and his wife are moving to (that’s right! they’ll no longer be in DFW which I am very sad about). The dumpling played with my parent’s cats, including their four-month-old kitten, and my parents were delighted by just how well he treated them (gentle hands! I say for the millionth time). We watched movies and saw extended family. We took walks and enjoyed tickling the dumpling. If I separate out Friday night and the flight back, we had a fantastic time! So I think I’ll do just that for my own sanity.

*I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but the dumpling loves Sharpies. I have a colorful set of the fine-tipped ones in my office that he discovered one day. Now, he’ll just go play with them and cart them around the house. I keep finding Sharpies everywhere though my set seems to have dwindled. Oh well, it’s awfully cute.