Two friends of mine lost their father this weekend. He was a wonderful, kind man, who I had the pleasure of meeting a few times in the past decade. But even if I had never met him, knowing his children would be enough of a statement about what kind of person he was. And his death has given me pause. I think because he died of Glioblastoma Multiforme, a cancer that I hate with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, a cancer that has already taken 2 other loved ones from me, I can’t help but feel heavy right now.
One of the strangest things about dying is that for the living, it feels like there this worldly crescendo. Everything becomes so important, so critical, so imminent. You have all this excess adrenaline waiting for it to happen. Every decision seems tremendously important. You wonder if this will be the day, how it will happen. You say your goodbyes and everything just seems so big, so impossible to manage. You can’t understand how the universe can hold all your feelings, how your body can hold them for that matter.
And then once it happens, everything seems to go silent.
You try to carry on with your life because the laundry still needs to be folded, the dishes still need to be washed. You fold towels and cry. You do dishes and you cry. You go out to eat and you wonder how all these people are living their lives and how is it that they don’t understand that your life has been turned so upside down that you don’t even know how you’re going to carry on? How can dishes still need to be done in a world where your loved one no longer exists?
I have been fortunate to not have many close family members die. And until recently, all those who I knew who died, did so somewhat quickly, which at times felt like a cruelty and at others a blessing. But I have learned recently that there is something uniquely cruel about watching someone die in a healthy body.
My father-in-law looks like he has always looked- like a 20 years older version of my husband. His voice has the same soft tone. His smile is as it has always been. His clothes seem a little bigger on a slightly smaller frame, but he looks essentially as he has always looked. But he is not there. There is a shell of what used to be my father-in-law.
The man left inside is confused. He wants to be helpful so he tries to stay busy, but he has no idea what he’s doing or why. He would try to pack boxes for his big move, but would then forget what he was doing and unpack everything he’d just put into the box. He used to be masterfully humorous with incredible timing and now he tries to tell a joke but can’t remember the words. He can’t participate in big conversations because he doesn’t understand what’s going on. He can remember something that happened 30 years ago with clarity but not what the plan for dinner is.
Watching him fade is every bit as horrifying as watching my grandfathers each die a fast death. Watching this brilliant man die in a healthy body is horrific. Watching his family grieve while he is still living, silently and in secret, is unbelievably sad. Knowing that my son will only maybe remember this version of his grandfather, a man who was so vibrant and funny, is devastating. That my father-in-law can’t remember his newest grandson’s name is even more so, especially when you can see the twinkle of recognition in his eyes and the anguish of not being able to remember the name.
There is no good way to lose someone you love. There is no way to lose someone that doesn’t involve losing them and thus, death is inherently painful for those who live. There are enough platitudes about carrying someone with you forever to sink a ship, but the reality is that even if death was the best outcome of a bad situation, even if there was no suffering, we suffer. We feel that loss in every moment, in ever fiber of our soul forever. Maybe it’s not as noticeable after a while, but it is there.
I fear, in the deepest parts of my heart, that someday I will watch my husband die in a healthy body. I fear that this man, this incredible father, won’t get to be a grandfather. That his amazing mind will shrink, that his often irreverent, always impeccably timed sense of humor will go quiet. I fear the silence that will come after the crescendo of dying. Of seeing his healthy body without his incredible soul, the same death we are watching in his father.
These are heavy things. They might make us stronger, but only because they must first break us so completely.
I’m very much a live and let live person.
You want to breastfeed your kid? Awesome.
You want to formula feed? Super.
You want to unschool? Knock yourself out.
Boarding school? Hooray for you.
Parenting is tough. You have to wade through volumes of information from a wide variety of sources, balance what’s right for you and your child against what’s right for others and then inevitably something changes and you have to do it all over again. And by and large, I have nothing but the utmost respect for your parenting decisions. With one important exception.
Currently, Eli is sick. He came home from preschool with a 103 degree fever (he was fever free this morning). There are a lot of things I should be worrying about. His comfort, whether to take him to the pediatrician, when I can give him more ibuprofen. But I should not, in the year 2015, be worrying about whether or not he may have measles.
And yet, here we are.
I’m not here to preach about how perfect vaccines are, there are other people who can do that better than I can (they’re called scientists, physicians, etc), I’m here to talk about how mad this situation makes me.
In 2000, measles was eradicated in the United States. We killed it. Clearly it wasn’t with superb sanitation, because I’m pretty sure that didn’t get worse in 15 years, but it WAS because of medical advances, namely, a hugely effective vaccine. And it was because of herd immunity. The vaccine is 95% effective at preventing measles in a single dose, 99% effective after the second. 99%. That’s just incredible. Science, man. And enough people were vaccinated that even when people came from overseas with measles, there just weren’t any hosts to infect. We were protected.
And then a former doctor lied, in an attempt to secure a patent for a new MMR vaccine, falsified data and convinced parents to stop vaccinating. A few celebrities jumped on the bandwagon. And vaccination levels began to decline (notably, Autism hasn’t, so…) and hey, guess what? Measles is back. It’s back because we let vaccination levels dip so low that the 1-5% that don’t develop immunity from the vaccine are getting sick because there aren’t enough other people to protect them, as are children, like my own infant, who are too young to be vaccinated and those who cannot vaccinate.
It was gone. 15 years ago it was gone and now it is at my front door, almost literally.
I live less than 30 minutes from Disneyland, a mere few miles from Orange County where the most cases are focused. Someone with measles went to a mall we go to, went to a movie theater we attend. One of the parents of a kid in Will’s daycare is quarantined because he’s an employee at Disneyland and was exposed. This virus, which can hang in the air for hours, is in my neighborhood, threatening my toddler, and truly, genuinely threatening my infant. Measles isn’t like a cold, I don’t need to rub my snot on you for you to catch it. It’s highly contagious even without actual direct contact. If my infant is in the room with someone with active measles, there is an extremely high chance he will get it.
My infant. My tiny boy who is too young to be vaccinated and relies on everyone else.
And I am mad. I am mad that in the year 2015 when we can land a robot on Mars and can circle the globe in airplanes and have cars that run entirely on electricity, we can’t keep my child safe from measles. I’m upset that people have taken the words of liars and discredited quacks as the gospel truth and that it is putting my child at risk. I’m upset that some people are so selfish that they cannot be bothered to care about those too young to be vaccinated and the immunocompromised who cannot receive vaccines.
Because that’s the thing- those of you not vaccinating may believe you’re doing it for the right reasons. But in order to do so you have to make peace with some really serious issues. You may have blog posts from other parents, you may even have a few physicians (ones who, I will add, are making a metric ton of money off of telling you not to vaccinate, by the way), but you don’t have science on your side. You may think that this is what’s best for your child, but you also have to acknowledge that it puts other people in danger. Your child might survive the measles, but will my 5 month old? Will my sister’s father in law who had a bone marrow transplant? Will my 6 year old patient who is recovering from chemo and radiation?
Maybe this post will cost me readers. That would be a bummer, it really would be, but I’d rather piss you off than support a decision that directly puts my family in danger. I wouldn’t support you walking around with a vial of smallpox in your backpack and I can’t pretend to support not vaccinating without a legitimate medical reason. I feel strongly that your parenting decisions are yours to make, but when you choose to do things that put my children at risk, I get an opinion. I am mad. I am mad that you are threatening my child’s welfare. I’m mad that I can’t even go to a grocery store with my child without fearing for his health and safety.
I’m mad that it’s 2015, my child is sick and all I can think about is whether he got measles and how on earth I can keep my 5 month old safe. This shouldn’t be happening and it is because we have chosen selfish pseudoscience over real evidence and have completely forgotten to consider the welfare of others. It’s sad and it’s scary. And I’m pissed off.
We never believed that Eli’s disposition was the result of anything other than sheer luck, but I will say that I have been shocked every step of the way, how very different our boys are from one another. They are both very happy, but they have uniquely different likes and dislikes. They have very different schedules and ideas and just, they’re just not the same. I guess I sort of thought Eli was a baby, not necessarily that he was Eli. I know that sounds kind of stupid, but there it is. And so we’ve done some things differently this round.
The first was sleep. I’m sure plenty of you remember Eli’s sleep woes, but the Cliff’s Notes version is that Eli slept in a Rock n Play until he was almost 11 months old. We tried almost daily from 6 months on to transition him to the crib and he would not have it and I didn’t have the heart to use the cry it out method. We finally had success with a floor bed at 11 months. And basically we didn’t want to deal with this kind of thing with William because it was incredibly difficult on all of us for months on end.
So we did use the Rock n Play, which I think surprised a great number of people. William has terrible reflux, so it wasn’t really safe for him to lay flat when he was tiny and couldn’t really protect his airway. At around 2 months, I started to get the itch. It was time, William was getting a little too cozy. And so we pulled out the Pack n Play and put away the Rock n Play. The first night was a breeze, but after that he started to have some trouble staying asleep, so we started swaddling, which we never really did with Eli. At around 4 months, I started to get the itch to ditch that too and so we slowly weaned him out, one arm at a time. And now, at 5 months, William happily sleeps on his tummy (he rolls there himself, safe sleep!) in his slightly inclined pack n play.
He does not sleep through the night, of course. I don’t make babies who sleep through the night, apparently. But he typically only wakes once to eat, so I will happily take it. He even naps in his pack n play when he’s not sick.
Another thing we’re doing differently is feeding. I mean, obviously nursing is different, but so is bottle feeding this time. William basically feels about bottles the way Eli felt about boobs. But William does take bottles at daycare, thankfully. We started Eli on solid foods at 5 months, but we have opted to wait until 6 months with William. I won’t lie, about 95% of this is laziness. Feeding William means more food I need to make, store, clean, etc., but also, he just doesn’t need it. It’s not that we’re not excited, I am actually super excited, but there’s no rush, and that is kind of glorious.
William also gets waaaaaaaaay waaaaaaay waaaaay more floor time than Eli did. Part of it is him being the second child. I simply have to put him down a whole lot more often than I did with Eli. He does spend some time in a bouncer, which Eli never did, also just out of necessity, particularly when I’m solo parenting and William wants to be in my eye line while I’m cooking or bathing Eli.
Mostly, I think what’s different this time is striking a balance between focusing solely on the future and focusing not on it all the time. So with Eli, I pretended like the Rock n Play wasn’t a problem right until it was, and then focused only on getting him out of it at any cost. With Will, I knew that the Rock n Play had the potential to be a problem, but I didn’t let it consume us in anyway. I helped him ease out of it. I knew the swaddle could be an issue, but instead of panicking and taking it all away, I slowly eased him out of it. It’s a weird mix of looking at the short term and the long term and freaking out about neither. Probably it’s just that I’m more calm in general, but it feels like the perspective we have on parenting is just…right this time.
Honestly, the thing that’s most different is that I’m enjoying parenthood. Really, truly, in my bones enjoying it. It’s not all easy, it’s not all fun, but it is all awesome.
It seems like Will grew cognitively and developmentally quite a lot this month, but based on the picture, the same can’t really be said for size. He is starting to outgrow some clothes so I know he’s growing, but maybe not really as noticeably as some other months. Also, trying to take this picture without my husband home was about 8 different kinds of difficult and a few kinds of dangerous too. There was much tipping. Happy 5 months, Will!
Today you are five months old! I cannot believe that you’re a mere month from being half a year old. It sounds so old and yet you’re so new. You may be new in the grand scheme of time, but you are so far from the days of being a generic newborn. You are persistently and delightfully you.
This month started out rough. What we thought was relatively minor reflux ended up coming to a big apex and after a major eating strike and terrifying pseudo seizures, you were officially diagnosed with GERD and Sandifer Syndrome. And an ear infection, just for good measure. We got you on antibiotics and started Zantac right away. After the first dose of Zantac you slept your longest stretch of sleep ever. I realized that this had really been bothering you for a few weeks and I felt and still feel so bad that you had to suffer for so long before we figured it out.
Thankfully, it didn’t take too long before you were back to your joyful self. You are just the happiest little guy. Last week we were at aunt Claire (who you adore)’s house and you so badly wanted to smile at her. You kept looking at her and waiting and whenever she’d turn your way you’d just beam. You do that sometimes, you just wait so you can smile at people and it’s the best. Like you just want them to know that you love them.
You are also just really, really cute. I mean, I’m your mom so I’m biased, but you have those big giant blue eyes, longer eyelashes than I’ll ever be able to attain, even with extreme quantities of mascara and soft pale skin. You’re just gorgeous and people stop all the time to ogle at you.
You celebrated your first Chanukah and Christmas this month and you were sufficiently spoiled by everyone. You also got to meet one of your (second?) cousins for the first time. He’s only 8 weeks older than you, so I’m excited for you two to grow up together.
Your likes this month include: Mom, dad, Eli, Aunt Claire, grandparents everywhere, sleeping on your tummy, blankets, sleeping with mommy, Sophie the Giraffe, rolling to your tummy, touching mom’s face, pups, baths.
Your dislikes this month include: reflux, Zantac, thrush, your pack n play, being left to play on your own, the car when it’s not moving, being overtired.
As much as you love other people, your favorite person (besides me, I have the milk) is your brother. You want to be persistently touching him (much to his frustration) and no one gets you laughing quite like Eli. It is the most incredible thing, watching the two of you, and it just about makes my heart burst. More than once it’s made me cry because it’s just, oh, my whole heart. You have changed things for Eli in a lot of ways and I think the two of you are someday going to have an incredible relationship.
This month marked your first real developmental milestone- rolling. You rolled tummy to back the day you turned 4 months (and have repeated the feat once I think) and unbeknownst to me, started rolling back to tummy just after Christmas. For a while you only did it at daycare, never at home. I tried, I put toys at your head, sat in places you’d have to roll to see me and you would not do it. I was starting to think your daycare teachers had you confused with someone else.
And then a week ago, I put you on the floor on your back, walked to the kitchen to get something and came back to find you on your tummy. You did it again (again when I wasn’t looking…) a few minutes later and since then it’s become a habitual thing, though you have yet to perform for your dad to see. I’m terribly sad that I didn’t get to see the very first one as it seems like such an important thing. I’m sure that when you’re old and reading this you really won’t care that I wasn’t the one who witnessed it (and trust me, you ADORE your daycare teachers), but right now, it weighs on my heart.
You are growing so fast and I feel like I am never able to stop and savor things the way I did with your brother. But, lest you think you’re getting the short stick, even though I don’t stop as often, I am enjoying your babyhood to the absolute highest degree. I was telling someone just today that this year (academic year) hasn’t been great, but that you’re the glue that’s holding it together. And it’s true. You are the one fantastic thing this year and you have helped us overcome a lot of lousy things, some major losses and quite a bit of stress. You’re our sunshine and we just adore you so very much. Now that we know you, we wouldn’t be us without you. Something would always be missing and that something would be all the joy and love you’ve brought into our lives.
We love you so very much, William. And we can’t wait to see what next month brings.
If you’re not into pity parties, this will not be something you want to read.
I am having a day. That’s not true, I’m having a year. We are having a year.
My husband chose to do this one year fellowship because he thought that a) he could get a job at this hospital (where he thought he might want to work long term), b) it’s a specialty he has always wanted to be in. It turns out that this is definitely absolutely not where he wants to work. Ever. He also feels concerned about moving ahead in this specialty for reasons that don’t need to be written. And well, it’s been a long six months and there are six to go.
Six more months of grunt work. Six more months of horrible hours. Six more months of sink or swim learning for less than minimum wage. Six more months of missing bedtime.
When we moved to our current apartment, we had a bunch of money in savings. We knew we’d need it (higher rent, higher loan payments, second baby) and we worked hard to build it up. We thought it would be sufficient. And we thought this apartment could hold four people for a year and we’d make do.
It’s been 8 months since we moved. We’re down to 1/10 of our initial savings, my husband’s stipend check is late and we literally can’t pay for Eli’s preschool until it comes in. There are piles upon piles all over our apartment because 1000 square feet is not enough square feet for 4 people, 2 cats and all our shit (not literal shit). My car’s air conditioning went out this week. My husband’s power steering went out last month. We have money to fix neither. Everything is feeling a bit out of control. To put it mildly.
I am just so frustrated. How did we get here? How am I 31 years old, living in this tiny apartment crammed with people? How do we have two doctorates and two great jobs but we can’t pay for preschool tuition? These are rhetorical questions. I know we chose expensive schools, I know I don’t work full time (may not be the case soon…). I know we have not always been wise with our money. But we have worked really hard the past few years.
I do not have long term ambitions of riches and piles of money. I have long term ambitions of financial stability. Of not worrying about how missing a day of work to care for my sick kids might mean we can’t pay for something we need.
This year was never likely to be an easy one. But I didn’t expect this. I’m hedging all my hopes on July 1, when we move somewhere bigger. On August 1, my husband’s first real paycheck. On the future in general. Because things are lean and ugly right now.
Somewhat coincidentally, in the past week I’ve been involved in several online discussions about being a working parent. Since I only work 3 days a week I don’t share the same burdens or experiences as full time working parents and I try to be really respectful of that. I am grateful for the arrangement that I have.
But this week, hell, this month, it has been hard to be a working parent. Even a part time working parent.
Some of the struggle has been because I’m an hourly employee and both boys were sick, necessitating days off for my husband and me. This is especially rough since both child care centers require us to pay for the full 3 days, regardless of whether they’re used.
But beyond the missed work and income, this month has been difficult because it was the first time that I ever really realized I missed something.
I was chatting with Will’s daycare teachers at drop off one morning this week and mentioned that given how rough the past month was on Will, it was no great surprise that he wasn’t rolling yet (he’s rolled belly to back exactly once at home). Both teachers looked confused. Finally one said, “he rolls all the time here!”
Today his form said that everytime they set him on his back he immediately rolled to his belly. I cannot tell you how much time Will spends on the floor. It’s a lot. More than Eli did. And not once has William ever rolled. Tonight I carefully moved all his toys in such a manner that he’d have to roll to see them and…nothing.
My child will not roll for me.
I think what bothers me the most isn’t that Will did something for the first time at daycare, it’s that I dont even know when the first time was. His daycare teachers didn’t realize he wasn’t rolling at home so they didn’t think to tell me. I didn’t just miss it, I didn’t even know about it. I have the date for all Eli’s firsts and I’m only 4 months in and I’m already missing things for William.
For the most part I really like working- my job and coworkers are awesome and I think both my kids benefit from time away from me. I’m lucky in that I can stay home 2 days each week (and weekends) with my boys, I know that. But that doesn’t make it any easier to know that I didn’t just miss the first roll. I missed the first 20. I can’t even put a date in his baby book because I wasn’t there. It’s probably not a big deal in the long run, but today it feels big.
It’s the 4th year I’ve done this and I know probably everyone else is over this kind of thing already, but I’m not. So I’m doing it again. I find it kind of fun to go back and read previous years and see what has, and mostly what hasn’t, changed.
1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
Not a whole lot, it really wasn’t a hugely groundbreaking year. Aside from becoming a mother of two kids. And I don’t want to harp on this much because it’s the kind of thing that would make me roll my eyes hard if I was reading it instead of writing it, but I also successfully nursed a baby, which is something that I didn’t know if (or how) I’d be able to do.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Nope and nope.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Well, I did. But beyond that, not a whole lot of people close to me. My boss did and several friends, but no one I am extra close to, either in terms of relationships or proximity.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. In June I lost my beloved grandfather. It was the best outcome for the situation he was in at the time, but it continues to be extremely difficult to move on without him. I still often expect to see him at family functions and I know that especially during the holidays, his absence was very apparent and sad for not just me, but my whole family.
5. What countries did you visit?
None. I didn’t even visit anywhere outside like a 150 mile radius from our front door. I think it’s entirely possible that Bakersfield was our farthest trip, which is really sad.
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Sleep. Like 10 straight hours of it. Financial security. Stability of location. We are moving in 2015 and then hopefully not again for a LONG time. 8 moves in 11 years is too many moves.
7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 14th- the last day we were a family of 3.
August 15th- the day William was born and everything changed (in a great, great way).
November 27th- Thanksgiving and the 7th anniversary of my brain surgery.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Being really, genuinely happy. There were some not so great parts of this year (so much morning sickness, so much stress), but I have just been really, really ridiculously happy the whole way through. I asked for help when I needed it, I have taken time to care for myself and I am really enjoying my life.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Losing my patience with Eli. He is the most incredibly gifted button pusher and I am so easy for him to frustrated. I wish I could be a more zen-like parent for him.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Morning sickness for months. It was awful. Like, William is the easiest baby and I want a million more just like him, but it’s going to take a few years to forget what it was like to pull over my car and vomit on the way to work.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
The velcro swaddle sack William sleeps in. And his Zantac. And Disneyland year passes.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Daycare and preschool ($1500 a month. OMG.) Student loans, rent, groceries (read: junk food), giving Eli things.
13. What did you get really excited about?
Eli growing up into this real person who says things and does things so far beyond what I realized he could do. Watching him grow up is just such a huge privilege. I am so, so lucky to be his mom and so excited for 2015 and all it holds for him (and for William, obviously). I was also really really excited to not be pregnant anymore.
14. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Probably a tie between Let it Go and the theme songs to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Dinosaur Train.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? 10,000,000 times happier.
– thinner or fatter? Fatter, by about 8 pounds.
– richer or poorer? This one is interesting, because we are actually making more money, but our bills are higher, so we are actually poorer, sadly.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Staying awake when I could’ve been sleeping. It might be worth mentioning that William is in a bit of a sleep regression right now, so my answers might be a bit skewed.
18. How did you spend Chanukah/Christmas?
We did Chanukah at home every night, except for one night with my in laws. It was wonderful and though Eli repeatedly shouted “NO SINGING” when we did the Chanukah prayer, he was otherwise super excited to light the candles and pick out a gift. Christmas was in Bakersfield with my family and lovely as usual.
19. What was your favorite TV program?
Gilmore Girls (Netflix!), Scandal, Orange is the New Black, New Girl, Bones.
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Gone Girl, Divergent (those might be the only two I read)
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Umm, Frozen soundtrack? Truthfully, I listened to very little music. I did just finish the Serial podcast and I was hooked.
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Gone Girl, Big Hero 6, Silver Linings Play Book (not new, but we saw it this year and it was great)
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
31 and truthfully, I have no idea. I think we just finished unpacking our house. Beyond that I have absolutely no memory. I know I bought new pots and pans with my birthday gifts and that was awesome. Maybe we did that on my birthday? Truly I have no idea.
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Money. Though I would hesitate to say it would make it immeasurably more satisfying. More like, less stressful.
25. What kept you sane?
My family, friends and kids. And anti-depressants, if we’re being honest.
26. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
To let go. My theme has been to let go and let God. I don’t mean this in a terribly religious way because it’s not as much religion based as it sounds, but I’ve just come to realize that there are a trillion things I can’t control in this life. And instead of spending my time and energy worrying and trying to fix unfixable things, I need to let those things, and their associated worries, go and let someone else handle them.
That’s it for 2014. Hope you and yours have a wonderful new year and that 2015 is the best year yet, for all of us.
Happy New Year!
It has been quite a month.
Just before Thanksgiving, the baby got a cold from daycare, his second in 3 weeks. He passed it along to me and I donated it generously to my husband, who got a horrible cough. Like, slept in the living room because he was waking everyone up all night long cough. Just as he was starting to turn a corner, he had to go to Seattle for a conference.
The day after he got back he called me from work, sounding extra
dramatic sick. He said he felt like the cold started over again and that he had a fever. I brushed him off because I’ve known him for over 10 years and in that time he has never once run a fever (but has claimed to be at least a dozen times). But it turns out he was actually sick and when I got home that night he really was running a fever. I am a jerk, it seems.
Two days later Eli spiked a high fever out of the blue and Will jumped on the bandwagon a few days later. It was ugly. Really, truly ugly.
Even before getting sick, Will had suddenly become a very fussy eater. He would go 4, 5, 6 hours, during the day, without eating. At daycare he wouldn’t drink more than an ounce out of a bottle, where before he was drinking 3-4 ounces without issue. And when I tried to feed him, either nursing or a bottle, he would scream hysterically. This ebbed and flowed a bit- some days it happened once, some days it happened at every feeding, but for a solid week, feeding was a struggle.
The Friday after everyone but me got sick, I took both boys to the pediatrician for what was originally a flu vaccine appointment for Eli (second dose) and Will’s 4 month well check, though neither of them really got those done. It turned out that Eli had a terrible sinus infection and fluid in both ears, and Will had fluid in one ear. Eli got antibiotics, Will got a wait and see but here’s a prescription just in case prescription. Over the weekend both boys improved, with the exception of Will’s eating, where things got worse until they reached an apex of awful.
On Sunday (the 21st), we had Chanukah at my SIL’s house and Will all but refused to eat for the six hours we were there. I chalked it up to the place being loud and unfamiliar and him being tired and assumed he’d nurse when we got home. But instead, when I went to nurse him, something scary and weird happened.
I put him on the nursing pillow and laid him on his side, and he all of a sudden arched his whole spine and stayed rigidly arched to the point where I could’ve practically balanced him on his head and toes. At the same time, his eyes looked upward and wouldn’t focus on anything no matter what I tried. And he screamed. It was an unfamiliar low pitched scream and it wouldn’t stop. For 3-4 minutes he was like this. I tried everything, my husband tried everything and nothing worked. I was nothing short of hysterical.
Thankfully it all took place in front of my husband, who just happens to be a neurologist with an interest in seizures and also the calmest person ever. After those longest 3-4 minutes, the screaming finally stopped. He relaxed and started to fall asleep. The same thing happened, to slightly less severe degrees at 2am and again at 6am. My husband assured me that it wasn’t a real seizure, but that it looked like something called Sandifer Syndrome. It’s a disorder associated with GERD where babies have pseudoseizures (events that look like seizures but are not neurologically driven) as a defense mechanism because eating is so painful for them. Which, while I was thrilled that he wasn’t having real seizures, just about knocked me down with how sad it was. Will had once been a comfort nurser, he would eat all day if I’d let him, but now it was causing him tremendous pain.
We went to the pediatrician again on Monday who said Will still had fluid in his ear and suggested we do the antibiotics just in case and also wrote us a prescription for Zantac. He got the first dose at around 7 on Monday night and went to sleep at 9 and slept until 5:30- his longest stretch of sleep ever. He hasn’t duplicated that effort since then (4 month sleep regression is going to be the death of me), but he has been a different baby. He drinks 3 ounces at daycare, he nurses happily. He still spits up all day long, but he’s not in obvious discomfort, which is an incredible relief. We do need to adjust his Zantac dosing since there seem to be gaps in it’s effectiveness in the late afternoon and early morning, but even still, it’s such a huge improvement that I cannot complain.
So that’s part of why the blog has been quiet. I’ve been caring for sick little boys and sad little boys and just trying to stay afloat. But! I have blogging plans. I do not expect this site to go quietly into the night. As soon as Will is past this sleep regression, I have hopes of him actually going to bed before 9pm and me having a few hours of quiet time at night once again. Or so I hope.
So I know what you’re thinking- why am I reviewing a kids toy right after the holidays? and that’s a reasonable question. Part of it is because the company just sent it to me and asked me to review it now, and part of it is because I love the combination of after holiday sales and holiday gift cards. While it may seem boring, one of my favorite gifts for Eli to receive is a gift card because we love nothing more than taking him to Toys R Us or other stores and letting him pick a toy.