Monday, May 18, 2009

It's a Short Trip to Crazy

Forget about water boarding. The cruelest form of torture is driving for any length of time with an infant and a preschooler.

My dad's birthday was this past week, so I drove to my parents' in upstate New York for the weekend, just the girls and I, to surprise him. This is a three hour drive under the best of circumstances (i.e. no traffic, no stopping). It's an eternity when you have a fussy baby. Corinne was OK. It was Miss Lily, who took a nice nap for the first half and then screamed intermittently for the second half. Both there and back. Two hours. It wouldn't be so bad if she just cried continuously. It's the starting and stopping that makes it like the Chinese water torture. Here's a break down of the return trip:

12:15-- Both kids crying as we leave Mimmie and Poppa's. Lily is overtired. Corinne is devastated because I wouldn't let her help me pack the car, and I snapped at her. Already I am tense and tired (did I mention that Lily was up every hour the night before? Yeah.)
12:30-1:30-- Sleeping baby, happily reading preschooler. Ahhhh. This is kind of nice.
1:45-- Corinne has to pee. Really? Can you hold it? Please? Lily is sleeping...
2:00--Stop at a rest stop to pee. Why did we want her potty trained?
2:20-- Lily is not happy to be returning to her car seat. She begins to fuss in half-assed manner.
2:30-- Whimpers becoming more urgent and angry.
2:35-- Crying stops. Maybe she's asleep?
2:40-- Crying resumes with more intensity. She's not asleep. I put on new age music to soothe us all. Can barely hear it over crying and it just annoys me anyway. Change it to "Tool"- loud and angry music. Perfect.
2:45-- All out screaming, she's royally pissed off. Please God, let there be no traffic, just this once.
2:50-- Stop again at next available rest stop. Attempt to feed Lily the bottle in parking lot. She's not interested.
2:55-- Plop pacifier in and hit the highway again.
2:56-- Spits pacifier out. I do the reach-behind again, crawling all over her body with my fingers searching for missing pacifier. I can feel every square inch of her body and the car seat. No sign of pacifier. It has somehow disappeared off the face of the earth.
3:10-- Crying tapers off. Maybe she's worn herself out?
3:12-- Crying resumes. Corinne begins speculating as to what Lily might want: I think she's hungry. I think she's tired. I think she doesn't like her car seat. I think she doesn't like her coat. I think she doesn't like pink. I think she's tired... I acknowledge the first few times, then try to ignore her. She proceeds to repeat each thing over and over until I acknowledge. I finally snap "I don't know what her problem is, Corinne! She's just miserable, OK? Let's not talk about it anymore. Let's never speak of it again!"
3:15-- Screaming bloody murder resumes. I fantasize about driving off the road. Pete would never really know what happened, but would probably be suspicious with the lack of skid marks.
3:30-- Do the reach around again, this time to hold the bottle in desperate attempt to get her to feed. Shoulder practically dislocated. Very difficult to coordinate angle of bottle using rearview mirror in conjunction with baby-view mirror. She still doesn't want it.
3:40-- Start muttering about how Dadda is SO taking the two of you off my hands when we get home. And about how I'm never driving more than 15 minutes in the car with either of them again.
3:50-- Screaming tapers to crying, then to whimpering, then silence.
4:00-- Both kids asleep.
4:15-- Arrive home. Dump kids on Dadda and take a nap.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Thrush treatment update: They're right- it does stain everything.

Life With Lily

I know, it's about time I wrote about her, right? I mean, she's already almost 10 weeks old. I keep meaning to post, but then I'm like, what can you really say about a newborn that everyone doesn't already know? They sleep, they poop, they eat, they cry. Here are a few things of note regarding my Lil' Lil:

Boobies (warning: this might be TMI for those who are squeamish regarding women-stuff)
I think the most note-worthy thing with Lily has been nursing, or should I say the lack thereof. It's been one issue after another since I was in the hospital after her birth. First I had sore nipples and literally sores on my nipples from letting her be sloppy with her latch-on. Then I felt like she wasn't getting enough milk because I wasn't hearing her swallowing and my milk wasn't really letting down the way I remembered with Corinne. Then I started pumping and bottle feeding to give my poor nipples a break and to build up my supply. She got use to the bottle and no longer wanted the breast, and it's been a bit of a downward spiral ever since. So now that has left me...

I feel like this is all I do. She just doesn't want my poor, tired, freakishly large (for me) boobies, which makes me sad. I really enjoyed breast feeding Corinne. I liked the bonding and the fact that I was where the buck stopped as far as Corinne and hunger were concerned. It's kind of an ego trip. I'm so bummed to not have this with Lily, too. And I hate pumping. It seems like every time I turn around it's time to pump again, and because I double-pump it means I have no free hands, so I have to just sit there for 15 minutes. Initially I needed to do it every 2 to 3 hours to build up my milk supply and get it well established. Now I am getting a lot of milk and am freezing quite a bit of it (enough that I could run away and Lily would be fed for a few weeks, not that the thought has crossed my mind , of course). I have wanted to throw in the towel a million times and say to hell with it, you're getting formula, chick. But I really want her to get breast milk and share in my killer immune properties (I never get sick. Not even colds) and the other 50 or so reasons why breast is best. I also cling to the dream that one day she will be back to breast feeding exclusively, and to stop pumping is to give that up that dream. So on and on I pump. I tell myself not to think about pumping for the next 10 or even 4 months. Just pump today. And the next day, and see how long I can keep it going. I'd like to at least go until she's 6 months old, when she starts taking solids. This is how long I nursed Corinne for before I was forced to wean her due to milk supply issues as well. But God do I hate pumping. The milk always leaks out and soaks my bra and Corinne always needs help wiping her poopy butt while I'm in the middle of pumping, or Lily starts screaming, or the phone rings, or the remote is across the room and the TV is on the Disney channel. I hate hand washing all the components 10 times a day (I have the worst case of dish pan hands) and I hate that it's the last thing I need to do before bed, especially when I fall asleep on the couch and even brushing my teeth seems too daunting a task. And it's the first thing I need to do when I wake up, which means getting up before both kids so I have 15 minutes of peace in which to do it. And I have to time every outing around it so I don't feel like I'm going to burst. And it's just an ugly thing to watch. The pump stretches the nipple out about an inch and the milk coming our reminds me of popping a white-head and the whole experience is like a cow being milked. Moo.

Thrush and Yeasties (OK, this one is definitelyTMI, too. Hey, no one said baby rearin's pretty.)
Compounding the nursing issue is the yeast infestation that Lily and I are passing back and forth. Lily started it with Thrush, a white cottage cheese-like coating on her tongue from a build up of yeast. Yuck. We treated it with minimal success by swabbing her tongue with some sort of anti-fungal liquid for ten days. This made her angry or gag or spit up or wake up or any combination of these. We were supposed to do this after she ate each time, and I admit we definitely didn't do it that often, it being so unpleasant for everyone involved and all. So the thrush remained. And then it showed up on my nipples, my reward for my occasional efforts to get Lily to nurse. Then I got a yeast infection down low that I misinterpreted as just post- delivery yuckiness. I got that cleaned up but the nipples remain a problem, and Lily's tongue is a mess. I rather foolishly thought that if I didn't nurse her anymore it would clear up, but lo and behold, it perseveres because it gets onto the pump and in the milk. Duh. And this includes my frozen milk stash that I'm so proud of. And let me tell you, there is no way in hell I'm dumping it. I worked too hard for it. We'll both just have to suffer endlessly. I've never heard of anyone dying of thrush, or having their entire body over run with yeast. Eventually it's gotta run it's course, right? (Actually my doctor told me about some kind of purple dye treatment that you can do that usually clears it right up, and also stains everything purple, but it's worth it if it works. So I think we'll try that next.) I'll keep you posted, cause I know everyone wants to hear more about our yeast issues. Beer and sourdough bread, anyone?

Comparing Thing One with Thing Two
Yes, I know it's not fair to compare any two children. But when one of your kids has PDD and it's pretty much known that autism is hereditary, you'd better believe we're monitoring Lily's every developmental milestone. I'd be lying if I said we weren't. I know it's too soon to tell if Lily is autistic, but already we see a lot of differences between the two (we noticed before we'd even left the hospital). Overall she's a pretty happy baby. She has her moments, of course, but usually when she's crying we can just run down the checklist to figure out what's wrong and fix it. Is she hungry? Is she gross down below? Is she over-tired and irrational? She's a big fan of back thumping, and can almost always be calmed by patting her (I wish someone would invent a machine at does this for you, since I'm developing carpal tunnel from doing it all the time). When that doesn't work a good swaddling and a boobah usually finishes her off. She loves to be held, which is very sweet but is also a very convenient excuse for me to nap with her every day, telling myself it's the only way she'll nap.

It was so different with Miss Corinne. When she was a baby she was just miserable. At first Pete and I just didn't know better. We thought that was how babies were: crying all the time for no apparent reason, easily overwhelmed, often inconsolable, hating baths, never sleeping in public of even in the car, afraid of strangers, prone to meltdowns of astronomical proportions several times a day and just general fussiness the rest of the time... We use to say that Corinne's default mode was crying. When she was about 6 months old I started to see how babies her same age acted (generally happy) and I said, hey wait a minute... why isn't my kid like that? We started referring to her as Evil Corinne and we entered what we refer to as "the dark period". It was a tough time that only got tougher, culminating in her PDD-NOS diagnosis.
Don't get me wrong, I love Corinne to pieces, and in many ways she is now an "easier" child than her same aged peers because she is so cautious and so non-confrontational and eager to please. Usually a change in my tone of voice will stop naughty behavior right in it's tracks. And you only have to tell her something once and it's in that head forever, including "rules". But boy was it a long, hard road to get to where we are. I'm just saying that Lily's temperament is very different already (we actually thought there might be something wrong with her at first because she was so quiet. We thought she was too weak from hunger or something.) I'm sure she'll have her challenging behaviors, and in many ways we are spoiled with Corinne (for example, we never had to baby proof our house, and she's always been a great sleeper, sleeping 12 hours a night and followed by a 2-3 hour nap.) but at least we seem to be off to a good start. We're relieved that she has already met two critical milestones: smiling and eye contact, and she seems to have great muscle tone, holding her head up early on and flipping herself from stomach to back at only a few weeks of age. She doesn't mind strangers holding her or looking at her, she is very alert, looking around and cooing happily. We find ourselves saying things like "Ah, so this is how it's supposed to be!" So we'll keep monitoring her and crossing our fingers because damn it, we've earned the right to an easy baby!

Having one kid on the autism spectrum brings up a dilemma: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate subsequent kids (there are a lot of people who think that vaccines, for whatever reason, can cause autism in kids who are genetically prone to it)? I really don't know where I stand on this. We are both science people who work(ed) in pharmaceuticals who believe in the value of vaccinations. We're not holistic, all natural kind of people and we certainly don't belive there is some kind of conspiracy theory surrounding vaccines and mercury. But there is some compelling stuff out there regarding the fragile immune systems of autistic kids, usually manifesting itself with intestinal and metabolic issues. The belief is that their systems can't handle the bombardment of vaccinations in their first year, particularly some of the combination series. For example, at the two-month well-visit babies typically receive vaccines against six different diseases. I don't know if there's any merit to this, but I can say that Corinne had perpetual diarrhea and loose stool as a baby (it's still very loose) and often acted like she had a stomachache, to the point where we thought she was lactose intolerant. We even took her to a pediatric gastroenterologist. So here we are with our healthy, seemingly normal newborn baby and we're faced with this decision and wondering if we could potentially cause her to become autistic as a result of our good intentions. It's an awful thing to consider. Then again, so's having your kid contract something like polio or one of the deadly diseases that vaccinations prevent. We've chosen to go with a sort of compromise: we're skipping some vaccines for diseases she is not at high risk for (Hep B), and we're separating out the combo ones and spreading them out over a longer period of time, the goal being to have them all done by school age, but to not give her more than 2 at a time. It helps us sleep a little better at night.

The Kidney Situation
So I kind of neglected to mention that we've been monitoring Lily's kidneys since she was in utero. This actually came as a result of the ultrasound I had back when I panicked over not feeling any fetal movement (see Kick Me). It turned out she was fine, but the ultrasound did show that one of her kidneys was just a little bit larger than the other. The doctor said not to worry (of course I did) and that they would do another ultrasound in a couple weeks to see if it was still enlarged. It was, so then we had to go to a specialist at Brigham and Women's. They said usually these things resolve themselves by the time of birth, and we'd do another ultrasound when she was born to make sure. Well, it was still enlarged at birth, so then we had to go and have a catheter put in to drain her bladder, inject a dye, and then see where it went. The concern was that her urine was refluxing back up into her kidney, which could result in chronic kidney infections. She was so good for the procedure, and fortunately that test turned out normal, which means that she'll just keep getting ultrasounds every six months to monitor it.

I mention it only because it was a pretty significant thing during my pregnancy that I only told a few people about because, as per my logic here, the more people you tell the more of a big deal it becomes and the more you worry. In hindsight I do wish I had shared our concerns, because it turns out it's pretty common and not that big of a deal. Maybe we would have spent less time worrying that it was the result of something much more sinister going on in her little body, or that she would die hours after being born, or that it was because I ate uncooked lunch meat.

The Big Sister

Last but not least, it's worth mentioning how wonderful Corinne has been about being a big sister. She really seems to like Lily, even when she's fussy and when I have to put Corinne temporarily on the back burner to deal with Lily's more pressing (or at least harder to ignore) needs. We've put a lot of focus on the things Corinne can do that Lily can't do and the differences between being a big girl and being a baby, so I think that makes her feel important. I also think she sees Lily as more like a pet or a new toy than as another kid. Surprisingly we have not (yet!) seen any jealousy or resentment at having to share our attention and affection. Once again when we expect the worst with Corinne she surprises us. She's also been very helpful, handing me things that I can't reach when I'm feeding Lily or pumping, and giving Lily her Boobah or holding the bottle for her. She likes to be my "Great Big Helper Girl". Last night during book time she even suddenly looked at Lily, who was practicing standing next to her in the bed, and said with such feeling "Oh, she's so cute. I love her". It was unbelievably sweet.

So that's been our lives the past 10 weeks or so. We're all adjusting and settling into a routine and enjoying being a family of four. It's all good!