Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Calliope's First Narrative

Calliope, "Boppy (pacifier) is sad."

Me, "Why is Boppy sad?"

Calliope, "Boppy is crying."

Me, "Why is Boppy crying?"

Calliope, "Mommy's sad."

Me, "Why is Mommy sad?"

Calliope, "She wants Boppy. It's (she's) too big!"

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sick Girl Went to the Doctor

The rest of the night was quieter, with only 3-4 visits to anxiously check on Calliope. I turned off the damn monitor at some point -- too many whines that I didn't need to hear -- but kept my bedroom door ajar for the more serious upsets.

It's a weird Mommy ability, this thing where you find yourself vaulting across the room and down the hall before your brain has registered consciousness.

The wheezing seemed better during the night though she developed a slight fever.

I wanted to make sure she was wheezing when we went to the doctor, so she could see what was really going on, but not wheezing enough to make my girl seriously uncomfortable.

So I gave her just one puff on the inhaler, which seemed perfect. She stopped wheezing for a little while, but it was back in full force by the time we were safely at the doctor's office.

We did a couple more puffs at the doctor's office, and walked out armed with a fistful of prescriptions for oral steroids, inhaled steroids, a nebulizer, and saline respules for the nebulizer. I am to give Calliope the oral steroids for 3-5 days and the inhaled steroids at least until the end of March. Yikes. I know it's a tiny amount of medication -- less than a five day course of oral steroids -- but it just sounds so serious, daily steroids.

And she's got a diagnosis of possible asthma.

The doctor, once again, couldn't locate Calliope's eardrums, given her abundant ear wax (sorry, TMI), but decided not to stress poor Calliope with more searching, given that Calliope didn't have a fever.

Naturally, her temperature went up to 101.3 this afternoon.

So now I will spend Thanksgiving week anticipating having to take next Monday off work to get an ear infection diagnosed.

Just like I -- accurately -- predicted that she'd be getting sick just before Thanksgiving.

I talked to my mom, my sister, and my cousin, and luckily everyone is relatively content with the new plan for Calliope and me to stay with my cousin, to shield my mom and her compromised immune system from Calliope's hacking cough.

Now there's just the horrible weather forecast on Wednesday to worry about... Being stuck for hours in an airport with a less-than-fully-well toddler during naptime could be very, very ugly. I know there are bigger problems in the world but oh, I could appreciate some luck on this front!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another Sick Night

I noticed that Calliope had a slightly runny nose when we came in from the playground yesterday. I thought maybe it was just from the cold air.

Then she started coughing in her sleep yesterday, resulting in a dramatically shortened nap.

This morning her cough was a little more productive, though still totally within the realm of normal for a toddler in wintertime. We went with our friends to the toddler gym this morning, and Calliope had a ball. She totally owned the somersault ramp. No one else could match her. But she was beyond tuckered out afterwards, and wailed most of the way home.

She coughed a bit more on the car ride back home, and I remarked to Amy, "you know, I have a feeling she's going to be wheezing by tomorrow."

Just to be on the safe side, I gave her a puff on her inhaler before nap (no lunch -- too tired). But she woke up, again from coughing, wheezing. I gave her two more puffs before we went out to buy milk and fruit, then to visit our downstairs neighbors.

By bedtime she was worse, and even my friend Emily could hear, without prompting, the wheezing.

I gave two more puffs off the inhaler (which she uses with a device called a spacer, which enables just about anyone to use it successfully, even babies) and put her to bed.

She's been up multiple times, talking and crying in her sleep, and this most recent time, looked like she was working much too hard to breathe.

So I anxiously called the doctor's after-hours hotline.

The doctor said I can give the inhaler as often as every three hours. But if she needs the medicine as often as every 1-2 hours, or if her respiratory rate reaches 50-60 (currently it's 38), I have to take her to the emergency room. Otherwise we go to the doctor's office first thing in the morning.

Of course, while I was talking to the doctor, Calliope was cheerfully building a tower on the floor, and kept asking loudly "I talk?" while I was trying to concentrate. And as I was saying goodbye, she chimed in cheerfully, "Goodbye! Goodbye!"

Luckily, I guess, I'm sure the doctor could also probably hear Calliope's hacking cough in the background so I don't sound quite so ridiculous.

I really, really don't want to drag my toddler to the emergency room tonight! Praying that her breathing gets better and we both get to sleep.

Regardless, I will be taking yet another sick day tomorrow to bring her to the pediatrician.

Now to worry about exposing my mom, who is undergoing chemotherapy, to Calliope's germy little self. I was so sure that this was going to happen. I mean, what are the odds of a toddler staying healthy for two weeks in a row during the winter months? Last week she was both healthy and off antibiotics, so this seemed inevitable.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I've Got Peas Like a River In My Soul

We were listening to Elizabeth Mitchell, my favorite children's music, and I was singing along to "I Got Peace Like a River" and Calliope, clearly confused, asked for frozen peas.

Then see said, "Hold it. I want-a hold it."

I carefully handed her the open bag, watched her pick a couple out, then turned my back for a moment.

This was the inevitable result.

Bad Photos, Without Organization. Awesome!

Building towers with Ellie. Ellie is modeling Calliope's awesome new boots... that Calliope refused to try on.

The beautiful challah we made together for the first time

Eleanor getting super creative with her outfit

A thank you note at work

Wintertime swinging

My faithful workout partner

Super nanny Susie is SO silly!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What Calliope's Been Up To

Talking talking talking.

Her speech is changing weekly. She's almost, but not quite, speaking in completely full sentences. Direct object pronouns have entered the scene.

So now she says things like, "I don't see it, Mommy."

It's the strangest thing, language acquisition.

Yet every night when I come home and she says something, I'm surprised by how babyish her little voice sounds, despite that relatively grown up grammar.

She heard beeping out our window and said, "Truck backing up! I hear it!"

She's very, very interested in all vehicles. Particularly rescue vehicles. Seeing a fire engine with sirens blaring makes her whole morning. Luckily we live on a busy street in a very large city so odds are good that if we are out, we will see a rescue vehicle of some sort. She also loves "hele-tockers" (helicopters).

The other night I woke up at to hear her calling, loudly, "More water 'peez' Mommy! More water 'peez'!" over and over again. We've been working on manners, saying please and thank you, for a while now... but I didn't expect her to be so polite at 3 am.

Another form of etiquette we've been working on is taking turns. This was really hard for her at first, but she and Eleanor have gotten pretty great at it, actually. One of the things that delights me about their relationship is that when Calliope rushes to get her turn being tossed in the air by Eleanor's daddy, Eleanor watches and giggles, a huge grin on her face, just as amused at the sight of Calliope flying through the air as when it was her turn. And then when it's Eleanor's turn again, Calliope squeals with delight at the sight of her pal having so much fun.

I continue to be amazed by their relationship. The girls have been together eight hours a day (Calliope has almost two hours alone with the nanny each morning before Eleanor arrives) since they were three months old. Obviously I've never had twins, but I think there are a lot of similarities. Calliope looks for Eleanor each and every day. Even on weekends, she is eager to visit her pal. If she gets to do something special at home, she asks anxiously, "Ellie's turn?"

They like to sit on the Stokke booster seat together. When they had ice cream as a special treat last Friday, Calliope carefully fed the last drops in her bowl to Eleanor.

I've been thinking a little bit lately about moving to Boston, to be closer to family, and the thought of separating these two girls breaks my heart. Which seems so silly. Of course they'd be fine. But their bond is so special. I want to preserve it, just for its beauty to my own eyes.

In other developments, she just figured out how to stack differently shaped boxes to make a tower. Seems like a small thing, but it has taken her many months to figure it out.

Her climbing skills still garner her some strange looks at the playground. And I watch as she executes perfect somersaults in her crib at naptime. Thank goodness she does, eventually, go to sleep.

She's totally recovered from all her illnesses, but doesn't seem to have fully regained her lusty appetite from before she was sick. But she's certainly eating enough, across the average day, that I'm not worried. But I'm hoping to work on expanding her repertoire once again. I was so proud of her progress... now it's time to try again. Tonight I made one of her favorites, "tato pies." (That's "sweet potato fries" to the uninitiated. She adores them. Even for breakfast.)

She has learned one day of the week, Friday. Because she looks forward to our new tradition, Shabbat celebration, on Fridays. Last week she asked, "Pink ice cream on 'Fyday'?"

I have no idea where she got this idea from. But I readily agreed. So now I think 'Fyday' will be known for lighting candles, drinking juice, eating challah... and eating ice cream.

I hadn't celebrated Shabbat in my home since I was a child, but since Calliope has learned the rituals and loves them, it is becoming a part of my life again. It's funny how things go full circle that way.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Romance Update

I've been hesitant to share much on here about my budding romance, partly due to respect to Old Flame's privacy, and partly because it's been a bit up and down. I wasn't sure what I felt, and what I wanted.

My brother had told me that he thought I was "afraid to ask for what I needed" and that was why I was feeling unclear on what I wanted.

A few days ago, my friend asked me if I wanted him to be my boyfriend, and I said, "I have no idea."

But then he and I had a good talk recently and I tried to be more clear and say, "look, at our current level of communication, I find myself retreating. And then you come for a visit and it's like trying to start from square one all over again. I need to talk more, please." (Trying to follow my brother's advice of actually asking for what I need.)

And lo and behold... we talked a lot more this week. And despite a snafu on Thursday night, when he arrived on Saturday morning... it was great! He met us at the playground where we were hanging out with my SMC friend Emily and her five year old. We greeted each other with a quick hug and a sly grin but it just felt so comfortable from the first moment. I didn't feel like I was trying hard.

And that is the difference that I find, dating as a single mom. I'm so much more clear on who I am and what I need. And by extension, what I don't need.

So when I wake up at seven (before Calliope), I'm fine to slide out of bed and into my bathrobe, to check email for a few minutes, then greet her with a sippy cup of milk. She sits on her potty then dons her bathing suit and we fire up Insanity for our mother-daughter weekend workout. I "let" him sleep two more hours after I got up... and was happy about it. In a previous life, I might have felt like I was "supposed" to stay in bed if he was.

Likewise, if he wants to take a nap while Calliope naps, I don't mind. I just come in the living room and check email or practice the banjo or do one of a hundred other things that nurture me. What I don't do is think, "I can't believe he's wasting a precious minute of our brief weekend together."

Maybe none of you were ever this unhealthy in a relationship, but I think I might have been at times.

So that feels really good. I feel healthier than I ever have in a relationship before.

Last night and today we had some good conversations about our relationship. And for the first time, I said what I wanted, without waiting for him to take the initiative.

First I said, "I think we should have a conversation about sexual monogamy." He agreed.

I said, "I'm not having sex with anyone else."

He said, "I'm not either."

"Good," I replied. And that was that.

And a few minutes later, "I feel like we are seeing each other."

He laughed and said, "That does seem to be the case."

Voila, relationship defined, low drama style.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Look Who's Talking (...Too)

Calliope has a special fondness for the word "too," and likes to sprinkle into sentences wherever she can. So, for example, if I'm doing something, she says, "I help you, too." Even though she's just "helping," not "helping too." She also likes to invite me to do things with her, like going to her bedroom, "Mommy come, too?" (Where a simple "Mommy come?" would suffice.)

A phrase that can be funny, or decidedly unfunny, depending on my mood, is "Give it back to me!" With or without a "please" tacked on to the end. She uses this even when it's something of mine that she's never had. It sounds very grown up and obnoxious, which sometimes cracks me up. Just because I'm not used to hearing this sort of mature attitude from my twenty-six month old.

Yesterday she woke up from her two hour afternoon nap in a foul mood. She kept asking for "the pink medicine" (amoxicillin), which she has grown to love, especially because she gets a square of dark chocolate for cooperating (I tried other rewards, like Skittles, but my girl likes her dark chocolate... she gets her good taste from her mother, I suppose). And it was too early for her medication, so I would say, "you can have it at dinnertime." And then she would ask for her chewable vitamin -- "the purple medicine" (even though the color varies from pink to orange to purple) and I would say, "You already had your vitamin today. You can have another one tomorrow."

I read this blog post once, by a single dad, I think. And he said he tried to challenge himself to never use the word "no" in response to a request from his child. But to try to find a way to say yes, no matter what. And I've been trying to do that. So it's "yes, you can have your vitamin... tomorrow" or "yes, we can go to the playground... tomorrow" or "you can have some milk if you're still hungry (after choosing to skip dinner)." And it usually works brilliantly.

But nothing was working yesterday. She was a flailing, sobbing, screaming, melting mess. I tried. I tried so hard. From the moment she woke up, crying. I tried emphasizing. And rocking. And distracting. And nothing worked.

And with one last screaming of "give it back to me!" I was done. After forty-five minutes of effort, I was all used up. And pissy and resentful. I was trying so hard to be nice, dammit, and I deserved to be treated better than that.Trying to get her out the door to the bike store and her refusing to put on her coat, to put on her shoes, to sit in the bike seat. I scooped her up and dumped her in her crib. With her shoes on. And shut the door. Firmly. Leaving her screaming in the dark.

And went to the living room and played the banjo for a few minutes. It felt like a long time, but I'm sure it was less than five minutes.

She stopped screaming and started to sob "all done. All done please." So I went back to her room and picked up. I carried her back to the living room to try to get ready to leave again. She asked for medicine, again. I said, "No Calliope. I'm not having this conversation with you again."

Commence screaming.

Toddler is unceremoniously scooped up and dumped back into the crib in the dark room.

More screaming. Then sobbing "all done" again.

I returned once again. She held up her arms to be picked up and did not ask about medicine again.

Thank god.

She did, however, ask about chocolate. But didn't melt down this time when I said no.

I offered a ride in a baby carrier, and she gratefully accepted. Still refused to put on her coat, but I reasoned that being snuggled against me and inside a heavy carrier would keep her warm.

So I carried her on my chest -- couldn't get her on my back with my thick fleece coat -- and wheeled the bike. My back was aching after a few blocks. Leaning over the bike with twenty-four pounds of lanky toddler on my front was exhausting. And then the bike store was closed.

But by the time we were heading back, she had cheered up, and consented to sit in the baby seat of the bike. Phew. And we got back upstairs and inside the apartment and she started chatting as if nothing had happened.

And for the first time, I held a grudge. I didn't want to chat. I wanted her to go to bed. I was mad. I didn't like being screamed at.

But I dutifully fed her -- finally, many hours after her last meal, she agreed to eat -- she picked carrots with hummus and apple slices with peanut butter as her dinner, and I readily agreed. And put her to bed afterwards, completely exhausted.

I don't ever remember being so frustrated with my child before. I've never seen her in a tantrum like this before. Just fully, completely, 100% out of control. She's lost it before, definitely, but not in a protracted way like that. I've no idea if the crib time out was the right thing to do or not, but it was clear that we both needed a break and since she loves her crib, I don't think she was traumatized.

Luckily we both got a good night's sleep and all was happy between us today. But that feeling of frustration and anger was not a welcome one. I hope we don't experience that again soon.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

...And a Third Trip to the Doctor In a Week... Scratch That, a FOURTH Trip in Ten Days

Calliope's fever didn't get better on Thursday.

And Friday, she woke up crying at 5:30 am with a fever of 105. 105!

Yikes. My eyes almost popped out of my head. I knew it wasn't really dangerous, but it sure freaked me out.

I gave her some Motrin and put her back to bed, but was totally incapable of falling back to sleep myself with thoughts of that scary fever in my head.

Showing considerable restraint, I didn't text the doctor until 6:30 am. She eventually responded, after 8, saying to wait another 24 hours unless Calliope started showing any signs of difficulty breathing.

I called in sick, and resigned myself to another day at home. But once the Motrin kicked in, she was pretty cheerful. And Eleanor arrived early that day, and Calliope was so pleased to see her.

So I went with the girls and the babysitter to Tot Shabbat. Which was a hoot. I've been wanting to go for ages, but of course, I'm always at work.

The girls had a great time and afterwards, since it was raining out, they burned off some steam by running up and down the aisles and between the seats of the pews. Very, very cute.

Calliope seemed fine until the Motrin wore off, except that she refused to eat anything. In fact, she'd hadn't been eating much at all since her fever the previous weekend, but now she wanted nothing except a couple of ounces of milk here or there. After the nap, with the Motrin not working well, she was a mess.

She was up bright and early the next morning, once again with a fever, but only 101.5. I debated if I was being crazy to bring her to the doctor -- I didn't pick someone convenient, but rather, someone I really respect -- or crazy to consider not bringing her to the doctor.

Off we went. And I'm so glad I did. Because she had a raging ear infection. The doctor said that if the fever had been from the flu vaccine, it would've only lasted 24-36 hours, maximum. So the fever had been due to the cold she had had the previous weekend, which circled back around and descended into her ears. The flu vaccine was unrelated to her illness. Phew! Because I'd been feeling very guilty, indeed, for giving it to her. (I had given it to her myself, at home, or it would have been four doctor visits in one week.) Still, this was a good reminder not to practice medicine on my own child. The potential consequences are just too big, and my brain doesn't work well when I'm too close.

I was even more that afternoon, when her fever spiked over 103 that afternoon, and I still couldn't get her to eat anything, and only took a few sips of water. She lay limply in my lap, wailing. Tears and snot coursing down her face.

I called the doctor back but he wasn't concerned.  Said I just had to wait for the antibiotics to kick in.

Her temperature was back up this morning, to 104.3, even with Motrin in her system, and I was getting increasingly worried that I'd be missing work once again tomorrow -- he'd said to come back if the fever lasted 48 hours.

But thank goodness, the fever broke this afternoon! And she slept longer than she had in a week. Woke up in yet another foul mood.... but armed with a ziploc baggie with one square of dark chocolate (her choice), she didn't fight me tonight in taking the antibiotics. Phew! I had my downstairs neighbor ready to hold down her hands, but thank god it wasn't necessary.

... And now, four days after I wrote the first part of this post, I'd like to add that there was a fourth visit to the doctor. On Monday, as I was putting Calliope's pajamas on, I noticed a bumpy rash all over her chest, back, and neck, and extending up her neck and onto her face.

I was sure it was a penicillin reaction at first, but after texting my pediatrician (how can I ever leave this practice where I have her cell phone number? even if she's so geographically undesirable???) and talking to my medical director, plus consulting Dr. Google, I realized it might be a viral rash.

I took Calliope to our FOURTH doctor visit in ten days early the next morning.

Yes, it was a "viral exanthem" -- a random rash that a baby or toddler gets as part of a virus. The pediatrician had tentatively given Calliope a diagnosis of roseola once before, though maybe that was wrong and this was the real case. Or maybe, as the pediatrician said, she got it twice. (I have my doubts about that.) But the high fever that goes along with roseola (and which disappears right before the rash makes its appearance) also made sense with her ear infection. So I may never be able to tease the symptoms apart.

So in summary, that's: one round of wheezing (with a tight sounding cough for several days), one ear infection, one viral rash, one flu vaccine, and two rounds of fever (for a total of six feverish days) in the past ten days.

Plus the aforementioned four visits to the doctor (which doesn't include the flu vaccine which she got at home).

I'm hoping for a few healthy weeks, at least. I fear that if another cold comes along, her lungs will not be up for the challenge. She's still got a deep productive cough that isn't all that frequent but still sounds pretty unpleasant when it happens.

The patient. On doctor visit three of four. Looking pretty cheerful
despite ear infection, fever, and those puffy eyes.
"Talking" to Grammy on the play phone at the office.