A year

It’s been one year since the unthinkable happened. A year since we listened to his strangled cry. A year since Luffy held him in his lap while we watched him convulse. A year since I called 911 for my baby and we waited those agonizing, syrupy minutes for help to arrive. A year since we loaded our child into the back of an ambulance and made our way through the darkness to the children’s ER.

I feel compelled to revisit the day, through my own writings, through the midnight email I sent to my coworkers, through the pictures I took in the hospital. To read and remember the fear and the worry. To see again how tiny he looked on the trauma room’s bed. To realize that no parent is ever prepared to see their child with monitors and IV’s. To remember the way the doctors and nurses buzzed around as I stood by helplessly, catching phrases like “no gag reflex” and “poor response” and “respiratory distress.” To remember when the radiologist performing the CAT scan asked my permission to give my son a little blanket, lovingly handmade by someone who worries about the tiny patients in the children’s ER. To recall the sobering moment when the overnight on-call pediatrician asked us about poisoning, both intentional and accidental. 

I remember my struggle to get the dumpling back to sleep after we were admitted to the hospital and transferred to a private room. He was hooked up to an IV and monitors, so I was chained to one spot. I struggled to think of what to do: should I try to lay in the hospital bed with him? Should I lay him on my chest or beside me? Were the wires long enough to stretch to the bedside? We ended up curled together in a recliner while Luffy angled his 6’5″ frame on the couch. By the time we got settled, it was almost dawn. I remember dozing off, watching the sky lighten through the window. I could hear the nurse shift change and I wondered what the day would bring. There’s a picture of us, the dumpling and I, in the chair. He’s still alseep, his long lashes on display over his smooshed cheeks, and I look tired. Tired but relieved too. I remember deciding when it was finally late enough in the morning to call my mom. I remember breaking down when she assumed we were in the hospital for his fever and I said the words out loud for the first time: he had a seizure. My mom would be there just hours later, to greet us at our room when we came back from the EEG.

I remember our push to get him discharged Tuesday, after his abnormal EEG. I remember driving home with him in my lap as he dozed off again. I remember the fear of putting him back in his crib for the night and the need to keep an eye on him the entire night. I’m fairly positive that between Luffy and I, we physically checked on him almost every hour throughout that first night.

I remember our shared terror when we woke up early Wednesday morning to find that the dumpling was running a fever of 103.5. We debated going back to the hospital before remembering this was exactly the sort of thing that our pediatrician’s night-call number was for. She directed us to rotate Motrin and Tylenol throughout the day to control his fever and keep him comfortable. That was probably one of the truly scariest moments: thinking we’d have to go back to the hospital after just getting home. 

Sprinkled in with the fear and the uncertainty though is a sense of wonder at how much we humans care for each other. My coworker’s responses to my midnight email, for instance, are full of concern. I was supposed to have my annual review with the partners of our firm on Wednesday, but they urged me to stay home with my son. When I did have my review (via Skype), they expressed sincere concern and condolences. Our neighbor texted us the next morning, having seen the lights of the ambulance and fire truck, and offered to feed Jas or bring us anything we needed from our home. The night we returned home, our neighbor across the street stopped by out of concern. She too had seen the lights. Our daycare teachers were horrified when they found out (upon our return to daycare) and held the dumpling close; one teacher offering a quick prayer for him.

And to the kindness of strangers: I imagine that blanket I mentioned earlier was sewn by some sweet mother or grandmother in the hopes that it would comfort a scared child. I was given a care kit in our hospital room that was put together by volunteers with the sole purpose of supporting parents who found themselves caring for a very sick child. A couple of days after we returned home, the EMS team who had cared for the dumpling stopped by our house, to check on him. [One day, I plan to take the dumpling by the firehouse to see the fire trucks he’s obsessed with and I swear that if I happen to see the people who cared for him I will absolutely lose it.]

A year to the day since the unthinkable happened and the dumpling’s doing well. We have his follow-up MRI scheduled tomorrow (which isn’t helping my compulsion to revisit the past) and we’ll meet with his neurologist in January for the results. I’m not anxious for the results; I’m sure everything will be fine. 

In the meantime, I’m going to spend this holiday season eternally grateful that the dumpling is healthy and thriving. 


Adorable Things My Child Did Over the Weekend

Why are toddlers so cute? Like, seriously, how on earth can I go from pulling my hair and gnashing my teeth in frustration to looking at my child with pure love and adoration in like …. 2.5 seconds? I truly believe that toddlers are the reason people decide to have more children – they’re so cute. That’s how they get you.

But without further ado, I present to you adorable things that my child did over the weekend:

The dumpling is just beginning to play pretend. He’ll pick up the play phone in his kitchen and say “hello?” He’ll serve you pretend soup, if you sit patiently as he makes it. He has started tucking his puppy and kitty under his blanket and saying “night night” to them, but this past Friday, he took it to a whole ‘nother level. 

We were hanging out. He’s been having a ridiculous amount of energy right at bedtime for the past few days, so Luffy and I have generally spent the time between 7:15 and 8:15 trying to wear him out. Friday night, the dumpling was directing me around the house when he decided to pretend to put kitty to bed.

So we’re in his room and he gently lays her on the floor and puts his blanket over her. He gives her a kiss and tells her night night, then gives her a little pat. Suddenly, he gets up and says I’ll be right back! before tearing off down the hallway. He pauses midway to the living room to turn back and direct me to continue patting kitty to sleep. I’ll be right back! he assures me again as he continues down the hallway. He returns with his milk and water, to feed kitty, before resuming her pats. He then gathered her up and said let’s go mama! and we all went back in the living room to start kitty’s bedtime process again.

Every once in a while the dumpling decides that he doesn’t want a zippy for sleep. He’ll usually go without it for a few days in a row before changing his mind once again. On the nights that he doesn’t sleep in his zippy, I usually sneak back into his room after he’s asleep to put socks on his feet. I can’t help it, I worry about his little toes. I think it’s a maternal compulsion to keep his little feet warm. Anyway, Sunday morning, when I walked into his room, I found both socks on the floor outside his crib. Take that mama!

I put up the Christmas tree over the weekend. I am actually really pleased with it. I bought a new one this year. Our previous one was a slim tree, more suitable for apartment living (which is where we were when I bought it). This year, I upgraded to a “full” tree and opted to decorate it with more toddler-friendly tinsel rather than the bulbs and orbs I’ve had for years. It turned out gorgeous, if I do say so myself. Half way through assembling the tree (did I mention it was artificial?), the dumpling decided to investigate. 

“Uh oh mama – grass!” he said, bending down to pick up a few scattered needles. I didn’t even know he knew the word grass.

Later, I introduced him to the felt Christmas tree (and ornaments!) I purchased expressly for his entertainment. I hung it up opposite the actual tree so that he could play with it whenever (and so that I can conveniently redirect him to it whenever he tries messing with the real one). He loved it and I solemnly swear that I did not rearrange his haphazard placement of ornaments into a more pleasing arrangement.

Oh ok, fine. I did move the star that was clearly meant to be the topper to the top of the tree for reasons. And I also moved a present that was clearly meant to be under the tree to the bottom. Because reasons.

I took the dumpling for a walk in his wagon yesterday. We got to an area that accumulates fallen leaves. He hung over the side of the wagon, enraptured by the crunch, until I heard mama, it loud from the backseat. I moved over to the non-leaf-covered sidewalk.

A little bit later, he wanted out of the wagon so that he could pull it. I pushed from behind, trying my best to keep the front-wheel-steered wagon on path. My back’s a little sore, but it sure was worth it to see the pride in his face over pulling his wagon around the block.

The dumpling recently decreed that a tiny toy bunny rabbit should also join his bedtime companions. One evening a couple of weeks ago, as we were putting him to bed, I thought he was saying “help, help, help” but I realized as soon as I walked out the door that he was saying hop hop hop. As in the bunny, she hop hop hops. He must have learned it at daycare, because I didn’t realize he knew this.

Last night, as I was trying to get him undressed and into the tub, a very naked dumpling suddenly got down on his hands and feet, executing a tiny little hop. I wasn’t really sure it was intentional until I heard a ribbit. A frog! He was pretending to be a frog! I also didn’t know he could do this, but I got down on my hands and feet and we ribbitted down the hallway, mooning* Luffy before heading to the tub. 

*For clarity, the dumpling mooned Luffy. I was fully clothed. Just FYI. I can only imagine the grace and dignity I would exude if I were to ribbit down the hall naked.

Oh sh*t

It’s been a while since I recounted for you all of the words my toddler could say. Since then, he’s truly turned a corner verbally. His vocabulary has exploded into phrases and he’s rapidly making headway into sentences. He can answer questions (even abstract ones like how was your day? which gets a tiny little good with a big smile). He can consider your explanations (he will studiously listen to you explain that if he stays in the bath much longer, he’ll get all prune-y, to which he responds ok while pulling the drain plug).

We talk about it being cold outside or bright outside or scary outside (poor baby). We talk about trucks and school busses and concrete mixers (his absolute favorite). We talk about dinosaurs and big dinosaurs and tiny dinosaurs and hot dinosaurs. He’ll attempt to sing along with Daniel Tiger songs and is doing a pretty good job of getting all the words in. He picks up new words seemingly instantly, so long as it’s a fun word (the windmills on our way to West Texas were a big hit).

And so, we’re finally to the stage of parenting where we need to start watching what we say to each other. Spelling out m-i-l-k for instance or c-o-o-k-i-e-s. We’ll have a learning curve, I’m sure, because we’ve both got a sarcastic sense of humor, especially Luffy. And then there’s the cursing. Neither of us curse much in everyday conversation, but we do manage to let an expletive fly under pressure (or stubbed toes). Which brings us to my current dilemma: 

I noticed it a few days before Thanksgiving, and even pointed it out to my mom while we were there. The dumpling was saying sit sit sit sit sit sit. Or was that shit? Or some other form of a word he hasn’t quite picked up yet?

I passed it off as coincidence until Sunday, when the dumpling managed to lightly bonk his head on the end table and let out a perfectly timed oh shit! 

Truly a milestone for the baby books, ladies and gentlemen! 

Unfortunately for us, he seems quite enamored with his new phrase and utters it constantly for everything from dropping his toy to bumping into the wall. It’s adorable, but it’s also something I’ve got mixed feelings on.

I don’t really believe in “bad words.” I wouldn’t mind a teenage dumpling exclaiming oh shit! over a dropped phone. What I do mind though, is a child who can’t control it or realize that certain situations require certain words (or the lack of others). Cursing is a grown-up task (to speak in Daniel Tiger vernacular) because it requires gauging the situation and company and formality. You don’t curse at work or in front of your grandmother, but you do with your friends. Or you do curse at work because your job has a very informal setting, but not with that one friend who is very religious. You get the idea. Kids can’t make these types of judgments.

So anyway, that’s going on. It’s a mystery as to where he’s picked it up. I definitely say oh shit on occasion, but not enough for him to pick up on (at least I don’t think). I’m much more likely to say ridiculous words like whoopsies! Luffy’s more partial to the f-word when pressed, so it’s not him. Maybe there’s another little toddler in his classroom with a fondness for oh shit.

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

We’re back! We made it! Oh thank goodness and praise the etch-a-sketch gods!

The car ride there actually went really smoothly, all things considered and thanks to the aforementioned etch-a-sketch. Luffy got it for the dumpling, especially for the car ride and he loved it! He, of course, ping-ponged around like a monkey for a while after getting out of the car, but that’s to be expected. And, unlike last year when it took the full four days to even get the dumpling to agree to separate from me for even a nap, he had left me behind and was reading books with his papa within 30 minutes of our arrival. Yay for me! Ahem, I mean him. Yay for toddler independence!

Our primary hiccup was sleep related, not surprising given the dumpling is a very particular sleeper. The first night, we tried setting up a toddler airbed in a separate bedroom for him. He did pretty well going down, but he woke up at midnight and didn’t go back to sleep until I crawled into the bed with him. Since I couldn’t sleep well in the position I was in, I tried getting back out of the bed around 4:30, but he woke up about 15 minutes later and was up for the day basically. I took him to our bed where we dozed for a bit, but never really got back to sleep. The next night, I asked him – where do you want to sleep? Initially, he asked for his bed to be brought into our bedroom, but changed his mind once we laid him down to sleep. (On an interesting note, he was all about the toddler-sized airbed, until it came time to actually sleep in it. Toddlers, amirite?) He requested to sleep in our bed which was shocking since he’s never, ever done that. We did that for the two remaining nights and it actually went really well besides a few kicks in the face and a really early wake time since oh hey mom, you’re right here and I’m up so let’s party

Sleeping aside, we had a really great time. Lots of good food and playing with the dumpling. We took walks* and met my brother’s dog. The dumpling was fascinated by my parents’ cats (all four of them) and delighted in helping feed them. We decorated and baked Christmas cookies. I made a delicious cake. We played in the backyard. We played in the front yard. We looked at Christmas lights. We dug through boxes full of things from my childhood, sorting into keep-toss-donate piles. (And giving the dumpling one of my stuffed puppies.) Lots of fun!

The drive back even went pretty well, up until the dumpling got himself so worked up over getting back in his car seat that he puked. And then he did it again not an hour later for good measure. That part wasn’t so fun. But hey, we at least made it back in one piece! 

I even got a little extra dumpling time on Monday because he vomited twice Sunday, just enough to make me wonder if he had a stomach bug. I’m still not convinced, but he definitely does have a cold, so we just hung out watching Daniel Tiger and eating Cheerios. As we should.

*One adorable anecdote: I took the dumpling for a walk Thanksgiving morning (the day we woke up at 4:30) at about 9:15ish. Luffy and I had already planned to load him up in the car around 10 for a car nap (he loves those and we were not about to try getting him to nap on the airbed). He was tucked away in his wagon under a blanket and we were talking about it being cold outside. I literally turned the corner and looked back to find him asleep. ASLEEP! Sitting upright! In the cold, harsh wind! When we had been conversing not a minute prior! Who is this child? I laughed so hard and was thankful that we were right around the corner from my parents’ house.

The Target Adventure

It all started this morning when the dumpling started pulling at the pants of his jammies. 

“I think our child is hot,” Luffy remarked from across the room.

“Hmmm… I think it might be the pants. I think they’re too short,” I replied as I suddenly realized that I’ve seen his belly poking out from beneath his Daniel Tiger jammies for the last several weeks. I suppose his growth spurts have finally caught up with us. I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised that my 47th percentile for height child can’t still fit into 18mo-sized jammies. We get a lot of leeway, since he’s so skinny. Most toddlers’ clothing is made with ample room for chubby little bellies and limbs, so that gives him extra room for his un-proportionally long limbs. Anyway, it was high time to get him the next size up. Before Target ran out of his beloved Daniel Tiger jammies. And I will never say no to a Target run, so I gathered the family up after nap time and off we went!

We made it into our my favorite Target only to find that they were out of size 2T in the Daniel Tiger jammies. I briefly contemplated buying the 3T before pulling my phone out to check my Target app. We were in luck! My “home” Target had them in 2T and I ordered them for drive-up pick-up. We spent some time in the grocery department and the wine section and headed home. On the way back home, I was notified that my drive-up order was ready. Also on the way back home, the dumpling started to get a bit … exuberant. In a toddler way. If you know what I mean.

After a few minutes at the house, I shocked myself when I managed to get the dumpling to agree to get back into the car with me to go pick up the jammies. Though, I’m fairly positive it’s because his newest favorite thing to say is “sure!” He realized his mistake about five minutes into our trip, calling for dada to come save him from his horrible mama. I managed to temper the tantrum as we pulled into the Target parking lot and I notified them that I was here. Whew! In just a few minutes we’d be on our way home, jammies in hand, and I could let loose the antsy toddler in the back seat and wash his new jammies before night fall.

Ha. Ahaha. Oh Belle.

After ten minutes waiting in the parking lot, attempting to distract the dumpling and wondering what on earth was taking so long, I finally unpacked us all from the car and headed in. It was there that the first bad news of the afternoon was waiting for us: my app had defaulted to the wrong Target, which meant that my order wasn’t at the correct Target. My order was at a Target that was 15 minutes further away. A Target I’d never been to, never shopped at. I didn’t even know where it was located. I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, it could have been worse. I mean, the metroplex is enormous so at least it went to a store in our vicinity. Since it was somewhat close-by and I’d already indicated that I had arrived (which is the crucial bit, you can cancel out of pick-up if you’ve just indicated that you’re on the way – but once you say you’ve arrived, that’s it), I decided to just pack us up once again and head to the next Target. The dumpling was confused and a touch grumpy about finding himself in his car seat once again, not that I could blame him. However, the next Target was truly “just down the street” in metroplex terms and we quickly arrived.

We got our order without incident at the third Target of the afternoon and I tossed the bag into the passenger seat, ready to get home. The dumpling let up an indignant string of toddler-ese from the backseat and I fortuitously tossed the jammies into the backseat to distract him. When he demanded the jammies to be removed from the hanger, I briefly debated just driving off anyway, before coming to my senses and putting the car back in park to attend to him. THANK MY LUCKY STARS I did that because I quickly noticed something wasn’t quite right. It’s a set of two jammies – one dark blue and one light blue. Pretty distinct against each other, but even with that, I couldn’t see the second pair of bottoms. I wrestled the jammies away from the dumpling to investigate and groaned when I didn’t find them. I could not believe my luck as I was forced to unpack us all AGAIN and head in the THIRD TARGET of the afternoon.

We were greeted with quite the line at Customer Service, but luckily the same woman who had delivered our order to us came out from the back. She brought me around, where I explained what was going on. Unfortunately for us, that was the only pair of 2T Daniel Tiger jammies they had. So, she had to process a return for us and we left without a pair of jammies. 

All that – over an hour in the car, three separate Targets, three trips into the store, and one full-blown tantrum on the way home – and we came away without new jammies. There were a couple of silver linings though. I ordered another set of 2T jammies from the Target app while our return was being processed. I chose to have it delivered to the house this time. Secondly, after the dumpling composed himself in the car (and truly, I can’t blame him for the meltdown, the afternoon had been exceedingly frustrating for all parties involved), he was holding my hand as I awkwardly tried to rub his leg from the front seat. He was sort of petting my fingers when I heard a sweet little “I love you” from the backseat. Precious baby.

So that’s the story of how I went to three separate Targets today and didn’t get anything*.

*If you don’t count the three bottles of wine, which I would never.

**Also, if you’re wondering how I have a favorite Target and a separate home Target, I should explain: I am spoiled. So I have two Targets that are about the same distance (the way the bird flies) from my house. The one that feels closer is my “home” Target, for everyday Target runs. The one that feels a bit further away though is a Super Target, so I go to that one when I want or need a bit more selection. Neither of those are my favorite Target though, which is a bit further away and I go to when I want to treat myself. Then I have my work Target. And my favorite-work-Target. And none of those five Targets are the Target that I ultimately ended up at today. So yeah. I’m a bit spoiled in terms of Targets. 

Officially Two!

We threw a birthday bash for the dumpling on Saturday, so it’s official! He’s two! He also seemed to grow two inches and put on a good five pounds over the weekend. But maybe I just feel that way because he requested to be held about 95% of Sunday, give or take a minute for bathroom breaks (mine) and kitty hugs (his).

We had the best time though on Saturday. The fun actually started on Friday evening, when my mom drove in early. I pointed out her car pulling up the driveway and as soon as she stepped out, the dumpling just dissolved into a fit of giggles and wiggles. He was SO excited to see her. The next day, we added more fun people when my dad and brother showed up. My brother chased him around the house for a while and allowed me to focus on getting ready for the party (those four dozen cupcakes weren’t going to frost themselves!). The party itself actually started out a little slowly because literally all of our guests except family had said they were coming but would be late due to various reasons. We truly did have the best time though and rounded out the evening playing Drawful with our neighbors.

Adorable moments from the party include:

  • When he discovered balloons: I bought him a big, Mylar fire truck balloon and had it professionally inflated Friday afternoon, hiding it in my closet overnight. I brought it out while my brother was playing with him and as soon as he stepped foot in the dining room, he stopped dead in his tracks. What is that glorious thing??? you could just see the question form in his mind. I felt a little bad for my brother as the dumpling immediately made a game out of letting the balloon go and having my brother get the string for him (even though he could totally reach it himself).
  • When he noticed that someone had brought him (the most adorable) stuffed dinosaur. It wasn’t wrapped, just sitting on the presents, and he immediately exclaimed di-no-sor!! and carted it off.
  • When he was overcome with shyness the moment he realized we were all singing Happy Birthday to him.
  • When he unwrapped the fire truck book my parents gave him and immediately decided to sit down in my lap to read it. He still had presents to open, but he just had to know what the fire truck’s smooth, shiny bumper felt like!
  • When he deftly handled the serving spoon to get himself more watermelon from the table. I was pretty impressed, honestly.
  • When my family had to leave fairly early to drive back to West Texas and he decided that it was time to say goodbye to everyone.

Not related to the party, but still completely adorable:

  • Our neighbors had an inflatable dragon up for Halloween. Quick thinking let me convince him it was a dinosaur. He’s been saying hi/bye to the dinosaur all month. They took it down on Sunday. He was very sad and talked about the dinosaur going bye bye for a good ten minutes.
  • This morning, he was in a particularly good mood, which was helpful since Monday mornings are always busy for us. I was making breakfast in the kitchen, when I heard the dumpling calling for me from the living room. I told him he’d have to come to me, since I was making breakfast. Miss you! is the response I heard, and felt my heart swell.”Awe! I miss you too baby!”

    Suddenly, he appeared around the corner of the counter, looking perplexed.


    It suddenly dawned on me that he was not proclaiming the fact that he missed his mama, he was inquiring as to when his damn waffle would be ready. Jeez, mother, and would it kill you to refill my coffee in the meantime?!. I turned the oven light on and had him check his waffle himself.

A surprising Halloween

Luffy always says that the key to a great time is low expectations. And that’s exactly what I had for Halloween.

Countless people had asked what the dumpling was going as. An adorable puppy? Perhaps a superhero? Or what about a fireman? My answer was actually nothing. We weren’t dressing up. I had no plans to trick-or-treat or even really do anything to celebrate the holiday with the dumpling. He has no clue what Halloween is. Luffy and I don’t care about Halloween. Why on earth would I go through the effort?

Last year, our neighbors brought out a folding table and we combined forces and candy, sticking around to chat long after the last trick-or-treater had come by. I planned to basically do the exact same thing this year. The catch is that our neighbor has an older child (he’s six I think) who was, obviously, super excited about trick-or-treating. Since the evening was pleasant, I figured we’d just tag along with them. We brought out the wagon to put the younger kids in (the dumpling and our neighbor’s 14mo old) and we started off around the neighborhood. It didn’t take too many houses for the dumpling to figure out there were eats at the door. He started tagging along with our neighbor’s older child to get candy. He was very polite about it, taking just one piece at each house and saying thank you when prompted. He didn’t have a costume, but he did have on his orange jacket so he looked somewhat festive.

We ended up having the best time, walking around with our neighbors, trick-or-treating. The last house we went to was passing out hot dogs and chips, so the dumpling devoured a hot dog as we walked back to our house. He’d basically just had candy for dinner, so I was glad he got something solid in him before bedtime. We managed to get him down for bed around the usual time, but all that traipsing around really took it out of him – I’m fairly sure he was asleep before we even closed his bedroom door.