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. 

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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.

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.

    “Waffle?”

    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.

Two

My sweet dumpling turns two today! Our official* party is next weekend, but I did take some cupcakes in to school today for his class to enjoy. I hope they sing Happy Birthday to him, because he loves that song.

In looking back, this year doesn’t seem as momentous as the first. I mean, that first year of life, there’s just SO much happening. So many milestones and such a visible, tangible change in a child’s life. This year though, I know he’s made developments (huh, hello??? talking???), but they don’t seem as life-changing as that first year. Perhaps that’s because I had so much adjusting to do. Anyway, as I browsed back through my photo reel for this year’s inspiration, it surprised me to see how small he looked at the beginning of the year versus now. Similarly, by the time I’d made it to the current photos, it surprised me how child-like the dumpling looks now. When exactly did he get so big? When did he stop looking like a baby and start looking like a little boy? Even glancing through, I can’t pinpoint the day or month.

Less surprisingly, there are far less photos this year as compared to last year. Part of the reason is that we’re just far busier doing things now (even if those “things” are just keeping up with a toddler running full-tilt across the house all day). I’d argue another part is that he simply won’t sit still for photos now and has no patience to be my monkey if I’m trying to capture a song or word or phrase. Still though, I searched for a few memories for today:


I occasionally snap a photo of him while he’s asleep in his crib and, beside his own growth, that’s probably the biggest change of all. Earlier in the year, he slept with absolutely nothing in his crib, per infant sleep guidelines. He was nestled in his zippy, but that’s it. Then, it started. First the humidifier cap, then (more suitably) the stuffed puppy. The dumpling adds a new thing every once in a while, which brings us to the current count:

  • Puppy
  • Kitty
  • Blanket (monkey)
  • Blanket (striped)
  • Blanket (fuzzy)
  • Zippies (the two he’s not wearing, or all three if he’s not wearing one)

It’s…. a lot. But, he seems to love it. And as a person who is still sleeping with a maternity pillow so I can snuggle it to death, I can’t really judge him.


Speaking of Puppy and Kitty, I’ve watched him giving them kisses and chatting with them in the mornings (while he’s still in his crib). Sometimes, when we go get him, he’ll give me one of them to hug. This morning, he was giving Kitty kisses on the nose. Yesterday morning, he pretended to tuck them both in, placing a blanket over them and saying “night night.” It was adorable.


There are no forgotten moments this year because I’ve scrolled through my photos a hundred times in pursuit of videos. I don’t think I’ve mentioned his obsession with watching videos of himself, but he was seriously OBSESSED. For probably a few months, judging by which videos I know the most. Because of this, I introduced him to Daniel Tiger on PBS (really Amazon Prime Video, FTW!) because he would inevitably get annoyed with my directing the videos and he’d swipe out at the phone and next thing you know, we’re calling my brother. Anyway, I taught him to ask for the different videos as “watch Daniel” and “watch [himself].” Soooo cute. We’ve added “watch trucks” for Amazon Prime’s The Dirty & Stinky Show and “watch Drake” for … well … the walk through of Uncharted 4 on YouTube.

You see, one weekend, Luffy was playing and the dumpling was enraptured. Nothing had ever held his attention for so long. Afterwards, he started to request it (“watch dada”) except that Luffy wasn’t always around to play. So, we found a full walk through on YouTube without commentary and we play that for him. He loves it. We fast forward through particularly intense scenes, but since so much of the game is puzzle solving or climbing through the jungle, it’s actually a pretty beautiful game to watch.


And that’s it for now, I think. He’s emerging as such a sweet, funny little person. He tries my patience, time and time again. He knows exactly how to push my buttons (yanking all of his shirts off the hangers) and two seconds later he’s making my heart melt (getting breakfast bars for each of us and passing them out – one for dada, one for dumpling, one for mama). There are days when nighttime comes that I simply don’t want to put him to bed yet, because we’re having such fun. Of course, there are other days when bedtime can’t come soon enough. He’s learning so many new words now and making strides towards full sentences and each day brings a new discovery.

Happy birthday my sweet dumpling!

*I totally wasn’t even going to have a birthday party for him this year. I mean, he’s two, it’s not like he cares. But then my mom asked if we could have it on Nov 2 because she’d be in town. And my neighbors offered to grill something up as a sort of payment for the smash cake. And – oh fine! – I’ll throw him a birthday party. I think I’ll make cupcakes.

Pumpkins and Cheese

A quick note from the editor’s desk: I am completely and utterly swamped at work this week. If you’re asking yourself what I’m doing here then….. I’m asking myself the same question. But! I had to jot down a few things for posterity and all that before essentially ignoring my blog for the upcoming week.


Happy Fall y’all!

We took the dumpling to the arboretum this weekend – Luffy’s idea. We generally had a pretty great time. (I mean, outings rarely go off without a hitch or a single tear when there’s a toddler involved.) The Dallas arboretum has an outstanding pumpkin patch each year and we got some adorable photos out of the trip. The dumpling has even been practicing his picture-taking at school apparently because, after the first photo, he kept getting back up on the hay bench, saying “cheeeeeeeeeeese!” and then patiently waiting for his picture to be taken. Then he’d climb off and repeat the process. It was pretty adorable, though I did have to tell Luffy at one point to keeping humoring the little guy and that he could delete the pictures off his phone later. I probably scandalized a few of the very Dallas-ite mothers that were there by uttering that phrase.

The garden also provided a fun opportunity to people watch. You could definitely tell who was there to have family portraits done – lots of button-down shirts on young children and matching family outfits. We saw a few women having maternity photos taken. Another couple was announcing their pregnancy with photos (and the sex too, I imagine, as they were holding a little blue-painted pumpkin). I saw the afterglow of what I’m pretty sure was a proposal. We saw several men in tuxes pouring out from a Hummer as we were leaving. More than any of the others though were the 15-year-olds in their quinceanera dresses. We saw at least six or seven of them – floating through the crowds with an army of helpers to hold their dresses. An explosion of color and organza and rhinestones. Really brightened up the day.


The dumpling was particularly accident prone yesterday and managed to completely bite the dust in the gravel parking lot of the arboretum. Gravel: 1; Toddler’s chin: 0. He’s sporting a few ugly scrapes this morning as a result. I’m honestly relieved at that because it was the sort of injury where I’m busy counting his teeth while trying to console him, so a few scrapes seem like a good trade off. Just a few hours later, he took a tumble – head-first – off the couch. Not his finest moment(s).

Speaking of, I made a rookie parent mistake at the arboretum. Never, ever make something into a game unless you’re willing to repeat it a hundred times. What is this Belle? Amateur hour?! So the arboretum has this amphitheater built into the grounds. One of our challenges yesterday was getting the dumpling to move through the gardens. He’d get fixated on one thing and get mad as soon as we moved away, not really understanding that there was a lot to see. So, in a desperate bid to distract him, I pointed out the amphitheater’s steps and – 1! 2! 3! Whee! – scooped him up and over. I did it for all three tiers and then my intention had been to point out Luffy at the top and have him run up to greet him. That part did not go as planned, though my distraction worked well. Too well actually as the dumpling doubled back to go down and then back up and back down and back up. Again and again and again. Luckily, he got to the point where he wanted to pull himself up and over the step and I only had to say the wheee! part. But even with that… my glutes are so sore today.


On Sunday afternoon, we broke open the sidewalk chalk that I had pestered everyone into going to Target with me to procure. He seemed to enjoy it, though the bathtub crayons were a bigger hit. To be fair, the sidewalk chalk requires a fair bit of pressure to get decent markings, so he might be just a tad too little right now. We decided to go for a walk instead, and left the chalk in the driveway while we went. When we returned to pick up the chalk, we found we were missing one. Not really sure what happened, though I spent a few hilarious minutes imagine a squirrel making off with one.


A few events for the milestone books:

  • The dumpling took a 20 minute nap yesterday. He was plumb worn out from the arboretum and slept on the ride home. I planned to transfer him to his crib when we got home but he woke up as soon as we pulled into the garage. I then figured we’d just do an early bedtime and deal with the little terror he was bound to be by that point but…. and here’s the milestone part … the terror never came out. He played perfectly well all afternoon and when it was time for our early-bedtime, we actually questioned ourselves as to if he even needed it. He seemed fine.
  • We had a neighbor get-together planned for the Cowboys’ game yesterday afternoon. I decided to bake some brownies and I just want to say that I managed to bake them yesterday while the dumpling was awake and Luffy was napping. Why is that a milestone, you ask? It means that I was able to do a task that required both hands while the dumpling entertained himself. Incredible!
  • Last night, the dumpling woke up around 1:30 in the morning, literally screaming. He settled down immediately though, as soon as I walked into the room, so my first thought was a nightmare. However, after about half an hour of restless flipping had passed, and I heard this tiny little “mama?” from the crib, it finally dawned on me that I could try, you know, asking him what was wrong. I got no response when I asked about a bad dream, but when I asked him if something hurt, he pointed to his head. WHAT?!?!?! YOU MEAN HE’S ACTUALLY OLD ENOUGH TO HELP ME TROUBLESHOOT NIGHTTIME ISSUES?!?!?!?!?!?! I took him to go get a dose of Motrin and some water and put him back in his crib. Didn’t hear a peep from him until morning. I swear, 2am me would have popped some fireworks if that wouldn’t have gone against the whole go back to sleep thing I was trying to do.

And that’s all I’ve got for now. Let’s chat again next week, k? Thx. Byyyyyyyyyyeeeee.

Wedding wishes

As you might recall, Luffy and I went on a little trip recently. I think I mentioned it, once or twice. I think I also mentioned this previously, but we were there for our wedding anniversary. Our fifth one in fact. (Quick! Get us something wooden!)

Five years since we said I do.

It was a big year for us, really. I had started a new job just a few months before. We traveled abroad for the first time (together). We bought a house. We got married. We moved into said house. We had a small flood in said house. Fun stuff like that.

Anyway – fifth anniversary! Big thing!

One of the things that I set up for our wedding was a wedding wishes – er – thing. I collected five wine bottles (lol – like that was hard), cleaned them up and labeled them with 1, 5, 10, 15, and 25. The numbers represented a year and I provided our guests with sharpies and slips of paper. The idea was for them to write us a little wish or note and slip it into a bottle. The number on the bottle corresponded to the anniversary on which we would open the bottle. I’m sure this is by no means ground-breaking as far as Pinterest-worthy wedding ideas go, but I was pretty proud of myself. And it’s been fun! The one-year bottle was enjoyable but the five-year bottle was even more fun.

Luffy and I dug all of the scraps of paper out of the five-year bottle over the weekend. It was entertaining reading the notes. Some were applicable (I bet you’ll have at least one kid by this point!), some were a sweet surprise (the one from my paternal grandmother, who almost didn’t even get to come to the wedding). We got one with a piece of advice from a now divorced couple. We had one that was signed with a reminder as to who on earth this person was (the intern!). We had one that left Luffy and I scratching our heads as to who on earth this person was. But mostly, we read a lot of love from our friends and family, wishing us the best on our fifth anniversary.


I need to figure out what to do with the slips of paper. The ones from our one-year bottle are still sitting in a decorative bowl on our computer table. I put the fifth-year ones in a plastic bag and added them to the heap as well. However, I feel like these little wisps of paper are only going to get more precious as the years go by. I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like to read these little well-wishes from our friends in ANOTHER five years or ten years or twenty years. I want to figure out a way to display them or keep them, though it’s challenging because they’ve all been folded and twisted to get them into the bottles in the first place.

…. I know, I should probably go browse Pinterest for this rather than lamenting my woes to you guys. I’m off to go dig through ideas!