Shutterbug

Fiona likes pictures. I’m actually waiting until I have this post written to add pictures to it, because as soon as I start pulling up pictures on the computer she’s going to be on my lap directing me to look at this picture or that picture. I can stop a tantrum by pulling out a camera to take pictures.

Even as a very little baby, Fiona liked having her photo taken. We have almost no pictures of her crying, even as a tiny baby. By almost six months old Fiona knew what the camera was. She even liked to look at it and take photos with me. So, when she sat up for the first time by herself, I pulled out a camera.

Did you know that most babies sit up unassisted at between 4-7 months? Yeah, so she was right on track for that. No big deal. On the other hand, when I tried to take her photo, she kept toppling forward toward me. I’d put the camera away and she’d sit back up. For most of a day, I tried to get a photo of her sitting. Eventually, I did.

Followed immediately by photos of her crawling towards me for the first time.  Incentive is a powerful thing.

(I learned from this and her first steps came as an attempt to get away from the horrible sensation of fresh green grass. I know, Bad Mommy!)

She has had an ongoing love of cameras and photos. It seems natural then that she should absolutely adore my friend Krisheena who is a photographer (https://www.facebook.com/krisheenaphotography). The feeling is, thankfully, returned, so Fiona is given age appropriate lessons in photography and the supervised chance to play with Krisheena’s camera.
Given all that, her birthday present this year just makes sense. One pink kid-tough camera. She seems happy.


My little shutterbug.

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Wishes

At this point in time three years ago I was pacing the halls at the hospital. I was trying to get the contractions that the nurse called “textbook perfect” to actually do anything. I was trying to will my little girl out into the world. I was wishing for my baby.

Now, having just put her to bed and understanding all that my wishes entail, I wonder if I was in too big a hurry. Then I think about the past few days and realize that if I’d known I was going to end up here, I would have wished and willed even harder.

Tomorrow, Fiona will be three years old, but we had her party on Saturday. It was pretty simple.  No planned out games, though all the kids had fun. No entertainment, the adults just hung out on the blankets talking while the kids played with balloons and bubbles. Sweet and simple. Candles were blown out and cake and ice cream were eaten.

Presents were opened. Toys were shared. The summer morning sun dappled the grass and the kids played with a good humor that gave the whole moment a rather surreal idyllic air.

Fiona ran back to me from where they were playing with a dandelion puff. “Help me blow the wish, Mommy.”

I carefully squished the slightly immature “wish” so that it would free the seeds with her breath. Holding out the puff I said, “Okay, Baby, make a wish!”

So softly that it was more a breath than words, I hear her say, “I wish for a tiger.”

And off on to the breeze she blows the dandelion seeds.

I laugh out loud, and she smiles at me. “Baby, did you just wish for a tiger?” I ask.

She nods shyly as all the adults look on, “Yeah.”

“Did you wish for one with your candles too?” I ask.

She looks at me through her eyelashes, “Yeah.”

And then she runs off to play, to poke at the dirt with a stick, to chase the other children, to giggle, to dance, to be a part of this great big, wonderful, messy thing we call life.

I watch her and I remember my wish from that night three years ago. I wanted her here. I wanted her healthy. But my wish, my wildly improbable, irrational wish, was that she be a spit-fire. I wished for a tiger.

Yeah.

Motherhood: Weak Stomachs Need Not Apply

If you have a weak stomach you may want to skip this post.

There’s really nothing like starting your day at 4:30 am with coughing and vomiting. Especially when it’s not your vomit. I got used to vomit while I was pregnant, but it really is different when it’s someone else’s. Especially when you’re wearing it.

I don’t like vomit. It’s gross. I really don’t like the kind of vomit that results from post nasal drip. It smells bad. Well, it smells like what it is, snot mixed with stomach acid, and it has the worst possible texture, warm slime.

That’s how my day started this morning: 4 a.m., coughing child, slime-puke.

I’ve been puked on a lot since all this started. I may actually be a pro at getting puked on. I know how to get as little as possible on me or her. I know how to angle the girl so she’s pointed at the most washable object possible. (No couches, mattresses, or floors – they don’t fit in the washing machine.) Yep, I could definitely take this show on  the road, except that it would be exceedingly gross and require getting puked on more… Yeah, on second thought, I’ll pass.

I really have been puked at a lot (that last paragraph got away from me a little…). When I brought Fiona home from the hospital, it didn’t feel real. I kept feeling a little like I’d escaped with a child and any minute the proper authorities would pound down my door and demand her back. It might be part of why I was so resistant to letting anyone hold her. What can I say? I have issues.

I spent three days feeling like nothing was really real. I was trying to get the hang of her. She wanted to nurse all the time and I was lousy at burping her. So, eventually, she did what all babies do when there is a large bubble of air trapped under about 45 minutes worth of nursing. She puked.

I was not an expert on puking at that point. I was the complete opposite of an expert. She puked straight down my shirt. Vomit blasted into my bra and flowed straight through to my waist. She threw up so much milk that I had to change every stitch of everything that both of us were wearing. Did you know that stomach acid curdles breast milk?

We stripped, showered, and sat back down to fill up her belly again. The second time we stopped every 10 minutes to burp, even if she didn’t want to. I can be taught.

The weird thing is, that’s the moment it became real. All that puke, and that was the moment that I finally realized that I got to keep her. She was mine and no one was going to take her away from me. I was a newly christened mommy. Blessed.

The food allergies mean that I got to see a LOT more puke. I’ve seen the kind of puke that burns when it comes up. I’ve seen frothy puke. I’ve seen puke that contains food that, I’m reasonably certain, is at least a week old. For the first year, most of this puke landed on me.

See, sick babies like to snuggle. The sicker they are, the more they feel that the best place on earth is within six inches of mommy’s face.  It took a while to learn the warning signs and then it took a while longer to hold on to my presence of mind long enough to grab a container.

Sometimes there is no container available, that’s when your instincts kick in and you catch it with your hands. This is how I’ve come to personally know all the many varied and disgusting textures of vomit.

There are many horrible textures: chunky, like canned stew,  frothy, gooey, etc. I could go on, but I imagine you’re all a bit green by now. Suffice it to say, slimy is the worst.

Trust Your Child

There is really nothing worse than having your kid in pain and not being able to make it better. Or, rather, there is and I count myself blessed that I haven’t had to go through it.

My daughter was sick over the weekend and seemed to be on the mend until last night. Last night, she spent about 4 hours wailing and arching and thrashing trying to get away from pain in her stomach.

It reminded me so very much of her first year. She spent most nights her first year trying desperately to get sleep, despite the pain.

I talked to our first doctor two weeks after she was born and said there was a problem. Something was wrong. I was told that there wasn’t, some babies just cry.

I said again at our six-week appointment that something was wrong. I was questioned about my own state of mind and sent home with the words, “Babies cry, she’s fine. You may just need to let her cry. Call us if you want to talk about anxiety and depression.”

I cut all dairy out of my diet.  It helped some. We went from sleeping for less than 20 minutes at a stretch to sleeping for up to 40 minutes if she was held.

At six months when we started to introduce foods we noticed more patterns start to emerge. Strawberries caused a rash. Cinnamon caused the worst diaper rash I’ve ever seen.

At a year, we found that she couldn’t have soy because it caused stomach pain, diarrhea, and rashes. Milk products caused projectile vomiting. Eggs caused hives and wheezing.

But through it all we didn’t sleep. We slept in snatches and we slept together. I trusted my daughter. The doctors kept telling me that she was “just in the habit of waking up” and that I should let her cry. I told them they were wrong, she was in pain and it was their job to figure it out.

The doctors fought me. They didn’t want to check. They didn’t want to do tests. They told me that she was gaining weight and hitting her developmental milestones and that was all that mattered.

I couldn’t seem to get anyone to value her well-being. No one seemed to care that she was in pain. When we weaned at 13 months, because I needed a medicine that could have damaged her liver, it got worse again. Coconut milk was giving her rashes, rice milk left her with painful constipation, and the prescription formula was the worst.

My friend, Chris, watched her one afternoon and called to ask if poop was supposed to look like coffee grounds. The answer is no, it’s not. That’s blood.

I got the doctors to test for allergies and to run a scope into her stomach. They found an allergy to eggs and nothing else. The doctor said that she probably had irritable bowel syndrome and not to worry unless she stopped gaining weight and that she was probably just waking up because it was a habit.

I, again, chose to believe my daughter. She was learning to talk and would wake up repeating, “Owie, Owie, Owie!” while holding her stomach.

We went back to rice milk. She screamed every time she pooped. She refused to poop unless I was there. It was too scary to be in that much pain without her Mommy there to hold her.

Finally we found our answers. We were having dinner with friends and they served corn-on-the-cob. I gave a piece to Fiona, only to have her face break out in an instant rash.

Oh! Corn is everything! Corn-syrup solids are the main ingredient in even the prescription formula.

We cut out corn, corn-starch, corn-syrup, all of it. And we switched her to Almond milk to reduce constipation. Within days we had a totally new child. She stopped crying. She started sleeping. She stopped clinging to me and started exploring her world. She was happy.

She was also not in pain for the first time in her life.

Last night made me think of all this. Made me remember all that we’ve been through to get to a point that she can eat, and sleep, and live without pain.  I feel so bad for her, but so very glad that she is my child.

This morning we’re a little worse for the wear. She’s clingy and I’m tired. It’s probably going to be a little bit of a rough day.  I also went label reading to see if I missed something and sure enough, those hamburger buns have milk and the second to last ingredient in the new cookies is cinnamon.

I think the point of writing all this out is that, no matter how hard you advocate for you child (and there were times where I was taking her to the doctors weekly and calling them daily), there will be times when the experts will not listen to you. They will not believe your child. They will tell you not to trust your child.

Ignore them. Trust your child. If you’re wrong, you’ve lost some sleep. If they’re wrong, you’ve left your child in alone to endure pain.

Hope, Loss, and Five Years

2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.  Four years. I have been pregnant in all of them. I have one daughter.

I got pregnant with Fiona in ’08 and she was born in ’09.

In the summer of 2010, I got pregnant, while on the pill, and was possessed by the idea that something was wrong. I was so insistent, that the doctors scheduled me for an early ultrasound. They found nothing in my uterus. They took blood samples. They ran more ultrasounds.

Three days later, I let Jeff take me to the ER with a strong feeling of pressure on my lower right side that turned to pain anytime I moved.  My pregnancy was ectopic and my fallopian tube ruptured during surgery.  The surgeon looked unbelievably stressed and tired when he spoke to us afterwards.

At the end of last year, 2011, I got pregnant again.  We aren’t actually trying, but pretty much all forms of birth control are out for us at this point, except the permanent kind, which we’re not ready for, yet.  An early, six week, ultrasound showed a heart beat. I was thrilled.

Three days before we moved 700 miles from Washington to California, we went in for a second ultrasound. They couldn’t find a heartbeat. I stopped breathing. I felt shattered.  Because we were changing jobs and insurance I had no further follow up care. I finished miscarrying near the end of January.

Each time we have a loss, I tell myself not to get attached. It’s not a baby, yet. It’s just potential. It’s just hope. It’s not real.

It’s so much heartbreak to have losses. To have that hope and then have it go away. It makes things so much more scary.

When we got pregnant with Fiona, we were fearless. We told our friends right away and all of us went out for dinner. People brought presents. It was magical and amazing.

I want to be that girl again. That fearless woman who was so thrilled that she didn’t wait to share. Couldn’t wait to share. That woman knew it was all okay.

I don’t think I can be. It’s too hard. It’s too hard to have people ask. It’s too hard to be asked two months later by that one person who didn’t hear.

So, with all that in mind, it’s way too early to talk about it, but I want to.  No one can know whether this one will stick or not. I’m not ready to talk about it and I’ll want to write about it if I lose it, and if I don’t, so…

I’m pregnant.

The positive was faint and I’m hopeful, but not convinced it will stick. We’ll see.  We’ll hope. Cross your fingers for us, okay?