Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Did I Call The Doctor?

Yesterday we went to the playground, which was extremely hot. Samara was sleeping in the Moby Wrap, so one side of her face got sunburned. She was really cranky when we got home, and I wanted to do something to soothe her sunburn, poor thing. I made the mistake of looking on the internet for treatments for baby sunburns. The first thing I saw was "baby sunburn, when to call a doctor." Naturally, I freaked out, and called the doctor. Of course, I had to leave a message for someone to call me back. In the interim, I called my friend Donna, who has five siblings and has witnessed many an ailment.

"Give her a cool bath and some infant tylenol." Donna said calmly.
"Okay, okay ..." I said trying to remain calm. All of a sudden,I noticed the doctor was calling on the other line. I quickly hung up with Donna and promised to call her back.

Guess what the doctor's advice was? A cool bath and infant tylenol!

Why the hell did I bother calling the doctor?!

I called Donna back to tell her the news, and I strongly encouraged her to go to medical school.

She told me she only remembers two instances where her siblings went to the ER, one was was when her brother dislocated his shoulder, and the other was of the same urgent nature, but I can't recall it at the moment because I am sleep deprived.

Thank you Dr. Donna. I'm calling you next time!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Department of Vital Records Strikes Again

When we first received Samara's birth certificate there was error on it. So, like any neurotic Jewish mother would do, I trekked down to the hospital with the two kids to get the error fixed. The error, in case you were interested, was that the time of birth was listed as 10:07 am, when Samara was actually born at 8:06 pm.

A month later we received this envelope:

I opened it to find this:

Which made me feel like this:

The Department of Vital Records is jumping rope on my last nerve. I guess I'll have to make a second trip into Manhattan and fill out yet another correction form! As if I didn't have enough going on.

I wonder what the next version of this document is going to look like. Maybe she'll be born at 2am!

I can only hope they get it right this time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Surgery, Therapy Dogs, Improv Theater and a Baby in a Laundry Basket

Ari had surgery this morning. The doctors came and got him from his hospital room at 9am to transport him to the O.R. They let me come with him down to the Operating Room, but first they suited me up:

When we were traveling down to the Operating room, I felt like I was the one about to have surgery. I guess that's because Ari is like an extension of me.

We got to the Operating Room. He cried at the unfamiliar stark white surroundings. I held him while the Anesthesiologist sedated him. I was terrified. He was going under general anesthesia. He fell asleep quickly. As soon as I saw him on the Operating Room table I could feel a lump in my throat. I wanted to cry.

"Okay, mom." Said the Anesthesiologist, I was glad that she spoke because it stopped me from crying, "We'll show you to the family lounge now." One of the nurses walked me to the family lounge where I could wait for the surgery to be over.

It was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I tried to distract myself by looking at silly websites on my phone, i.e., but I was a nervous wreck. Finally, the doctor came to get me and told me the surgery had gone well and walked me to the recovery room where Ari was sleeping in a metal crib.

He woke up pretty quickly and wanted me to hold him.

I made the mistake of asking one of the nurses when he could eat bland foods like crackers. He heard "crackers" and said:
"Crackers? I want crackers!"

The nurse replied:
"Not yet sweetie, you need to drink a little bit first to see if your tummy feels okay."
"CRACKERS!" He demanded.
After much cajoling, he drank a cup of apple juice, small sips at a time. Then he bugged the nurse until she gave in and gave him a pack of saltines. I promised him many more crackers when we got back to his room, and I delivered on that promise.

Meanwhile, my other child has been sleeping in random household items at my friend's houses. Thank you Zahir and Mint!

Samara in a Laundry Basket: Wil's Brilliant Idea
Samara in a Drawer
She loved the laundry basket, but I hear she got bored of the drawer.

While Ari has been at the hospital he made friends with a therapy dog named Hudson:

And saw a show by an improv theater group called Only Make Believe:

These guys were awesome! They performed an original show for the entire Pediatric Unit in the play room here. The kids were very much involved in the show; there was a ton of audience participation. OMB were wonderful with children. For more on Only Make Believe, click here.

Ari is feeling much better. He's sleeping at the moment. I was told we could go home tomorrow afternoon. Here's hoping!

Thank you to all of our friends and family that offered kind words, transported breast milk, gave us a place to stay, and much much more while we've been going through this challenging time.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Admitted to The Hospital

I don't know what day it is. I barely know what time it is. Everything is running together. People's faces are blurred. I can't tell one doctor from another. They all look the same. We're in the hospital. Ari is in the hospital. I write those words and I don't believe them. It's surreal.

At some point in time, I realized that Ari wasn't getting better. The mass on his throat was swollen and red. I called the pediatrician and said:
"Look, he isn't getting better, what can we do?"
"The next step is so see an ENT doctor." Ear, Nose and Throat.

The ENT I wanted to see (the one affiliated with my pediatrician) wasn't available for two days. So I took a second choice appointment with a back up ENT. It was a mistake.

The doctor, we'll call him Dr. Y, barely looked at Ari and said he needed a Cat Scan. Whoa...back the bus up! He called in his partner who said "He doesn't need a Cat Scan, the mass is superficial. You should aspirate it." I went along with that plan; another mistake.

Dr. Y strapped Ari into a papoose like structure. He stuck a needle in Ari's neck and he screamed. I rubbed his head. Not much came out. A little blood, that was all.
"I thought there would be puss." I said.
"So did I." said Dr. Y. He said he was going away for the weekend with his wife who was 9 months pregnant, but Ari should have an ultrasound the next day. I numbly took the prescription for the ultrasound in my hand and Ari, Samara and I went home on the train.

The next day, the day of the ultrasound, the pediatrician called. I told her what happened at the second choice ENT's office.
"Do you still have the appointment with Dr. X?" Dr. X was the Dr. I would have preferred to see. The first choice Dr.
"I canceled it because Dr. Y scheduled an ultrasound today."
"You should get that appointment back with Dr. X." She said ominously.
"Oh...okay," I said.
"Yeah, cancel the ultrasound and get the original appointment back." She reiterated.
So I did just that.

We got to Dr. X. My dad came with me because Wil was sleeping (he'd worked the night before) and I had both kids with me. Ari was playing in the waiting room while I nursed Samara and my dad helped me fill out forms. It was a rather large waiting room and I feared we might wait a while. We didn't. We were called in within five minutes of our arrival.

When we got into the exam room, Samara started crying. I handed her to my dad and he took her into the waiting room.

Dr. X was great with Ari. Before he examined him, he talked with him, gave him high fives, and warned him that he was going to look in his mouth, and examine his neck. After the exam, Dr. X locked eyes with me.

"It looks pretty bad," he said gesturing at the enlarged lymph node on Ari's neck.
"My recommendation is that you admit him to the hospital." My jaw hit the floor at the words "admit him to the hospital." Dr. X explained that since the oral antibiotics weren't working, he wanted Ari to receive IV antibiotics and be monitored at the hospital.

I returned to the waiting room and told my dad the news, mistakenly, in front of the whole waiting room.

"WHAT?!" He practically yelled.
"Never mind, let's talk about this when we leave." I said.

We left the office and headed to the Emergency Room. The pediatric Emergency Room was full of toys and DVDs. Ari was happy to curl up in bed and watch Disney's Robin Hood while he played with a pack of playing cards and a rubber duck that the nurse, Doug, gave him upon admission.

I called Wil obsessively (until he woke up) to let him know what was going on. I finally reached him and told him the news. He got to the hospital within the hour to meet us.

Ari was evaluated quickly and admitted to a room.

Since his admission, he's been on IV antibiotics, and the doctors have been waffling back and forth as to whether or not they want to do a surgical drainage. If he doesn't respond to the antibiotics, he'll go to the Operating Room. I'm trying not to think about it.

The nice part about this hospital is that they have a wonderful pediatric unit. The nurses and doctors are really kind and super responsive. They have a play room where the kids can hang out and a giant fish tank to look at.

Ari has also been bribed with toys so that he can feel more comfortable under these circumstances.

The challenging part of this whole situation has been caring for Samara. She's not allowed to stay in the hospital with us. I've been pumping every two-three hours (they have a pumping room) and my dad has been delivering breast milk to my mom who has been watching Samara. My parents have been staying at a friend's place near the hospital.

I'm trying to stay strong. Please send good thoughts.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Got Lost in Bed Stuy, And Then I Learned How to Wear My Baby

My friend Chana Leah invited me to a baby wearing meeting at store called Caribou Baby here in Brooklyn. Since I frequently wear Samara in the Moby Wrap, I thought it would be fun to go.

I tried to call my friend Cordy to see if she wanted to go, but she (being a mom of two girls three and under) dropped her phone in the toilet, so I couldn't get in touch with her. Instead, I talked to her husband, Chaim, who encouraged me to leave the house. I was having second thoughts about going to this event, and I was particularly feeling anxious about meeting new people.

I posted on my Facebook status that I was headed to Billyburg (that is slang for Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, for those of you non-New Yorkers) and immediately, my friend Alicia, from college, replied with something like "Where?" I can't remember exactly what she said because I have no brain right now. She works in Bushwick, so Williamsburg is really close to her office. I told her to call me immediately. She did, and we decided to meet up for lunch at a cafe near her job.

I piled two two kids into the car and off we went.

All was going well (Ari was pointing out the green lights and the red lights, and Samara went to sleep) until I realized that I had absolutely no idea where the hell I was going.

Suddenly I found myself lost in Bed Stuy. Okay, I thought to myself, no problem, my phone has a GPS, it's a Garminfone. I'll just ask it where to go!

I tried to plug in my location to my phone, and I got a scary error message: "No map data available for your location" it said. I wanted to cry. So as I drove around in circles trying to find out where I was, I called T-Mobile customer service on speaker phone. I can do that safely because my phone attaches to the windshield.

Each time I called, I was disconnected. I called over 15 times. I tried different permutations of numbers to get a representative, I tried not dialing any numbers at all, it didn't matter what I did, it all resulted in not reaching a live human and getting hung up on. It was incredibly frustrating.

I even tried screaming profanities at the T-Mobile automated system, but that didn't work either. In fact, I think that made the system more confused, and in those cases, I got hung up on faster.

Finally, after asking five different strangers how to get where I was going, I met Alicia for lunch. I parked illegally and prayed I didn't get a ticket.

Ari had a chocolate muffin, I had a mozzarella tomato, and basil sandwich and a latte, because I needed some caffeine after being lost for an hour, and Alicia had a grilled cheese.

If you're still reading this, you're awesome.

After lunch, Alicia went back to work and I texted Chana Leah that I was going to be late to the baby wearing meeting. I didn't get a ticket, which was awesome.

I managed to find my way to Billyburg from Bushwick pretty easily. That was a refreshing change from being lost for an hour.

I got to Caribou Baby and I immediately liked the store. It had a hippy vibe, and was filled with eco-friendly baby products. I wish I had pictures of it, but I was in a rush to get out of the house, so I totally forgot my camera. The only picture I managed to take was with my phone, and it was of the kids being cute. It has nothing to do with baby wearing.

When I entered the store, I immediately spotted Chana Leah and her baby F.S. F.S. was lying on her stomach smiling and looking adorable. She is super cute, and it was the first time I met her in person, at six months old.

The baby wearing meeting was really fun! I was exposed to many different kinds of woven wraps. Chana Leah let me try on her woven wrap which is called a DIDYMOS. Samara loved it and fell asleep in it after a minute or two of being in it.

Woven wraps are different from the Moby Wrap, which is stretchy, and feel more secure to me than a regular fabric wrap. Needless to say, I believe I am now a woven wrap convert.

In addition to learning more about baby wearing, I also met a really nice mom.
She has two kids that are 18 months apart. Both of her kids are in the toddler phase now.
She gave me a sound piece of advice about caring for a newborn and a 2 3/4 year old.
"Just remember, you are doing important work," she said. "All you have to do is take care of your kids right now, don't worry about anything else, or anybody else's expectations."
Her words made me feel a little more sane.

I got an opportunity to speak with the owner of Caribou Baby, Adriane Stare, who was super cool. Ari was running all over the store, and in the process he managed to knock over a giant rack of baby carriers. I was horrified.

"Don't worry," she said "I have a toddler, I totally understand how it is." Then she proceeded to tell me how cute Ari was, even after he tried to destroy her store. That was very kind of her.

After the meeting, Chana Leah and I said our goodbyes, and the kids and I headed home.

I'm glad I went to the meeting after all. It was a lot of fun even though it was a bit of a misadventure getting there.

Tell me, do you wear your baby? What baby carrier or wrap do you use?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Farewell Story Time

Today was my last day covering Story Time at the library. Ari was feeling a little better this morning, so I asked him if he was up to going to Story Time. He "Yes!" enthusiastically. The pediatrician said since he is on antibiotics, he is not contagious.

So off we went. On the way out the door we ran into my dad. He asked if I wanted help with Story Time and I said "Yes!" enthusiastically.

When I got to the library, Samara was cranky. Thankfully, she fell asleep in the moby wrap as I was walking around looking for books to read to the kids.

We had a lot of fun as usual.

Toward the end of Story Time Ari got tired.

Those are not his boots, FYI.

I am a poor multi-tasker, so his exhaustion resulted in this:

In addition to being exhausted, he was upset because a little girl hit him. He responded by hitting her back. Then he started to cry. Kids are weird.

Here are the books we chose:

Ari selected this one:

The librarian is back next Monday, so I'm off the hook. But, I have to say it was a lot of fun. I think my parents had fun too.

So...what's your favorite children's book?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Giant Lump

After our banner day yesterday, we were settling in to go to sleep. I went to give Ari a kiss good night and he yelled:
"Don't kiss me!"

This was especially strange, as Ari loves kisses and hugs from me.

"Why don't you want me to kiss you?" I asked.
"I hurt." He replied in a soft whimper.

All of a sudden I noticed that the right side of his neck was twice the size that it normally is.
"Oh my G-d!" I exclaimed. I reached out to touch it and he screamed:
"Don't touch it! It hurts!"
"Is that why you were crying when we were walking home?" I asked.
"Yeah..." he said softly.

I don't know what came over me, but I started bawling. I felt awful. I completely misjudged the situation. He was being defiant, for sure, but there was a reason behind his behavior. He was in pain and I didn't realize it.

"I'm so sorry," I managed to say between sobs.
He cried too. We held each other.

"It's going to be okay." I said. I called the pediatrician's office. It was after hours, so I spoke to the doctor on call. She said it was probably a swollen lymph node, but to bring him in the next day. When I got off the phone, I called Wil at work and told him what was going on. He was really worried.

"Does he have a fever?" He asked. I could hear the anxiety in his voice.
"99.3." I said. I took his temperature before I called the doctor. I reassured Wil that we were going to the doctor in the morning and encouraged him to stay calm.

Ari and I read Tikki Tikki Tembo and went to sleep. In the middle of the night I felt his forehead, and though I didn't take his temperature, I could tell that his fever had gone up from 99.3. He was burning up.

Today we went to the doctor and my dad watched Samara. When we got to the doctor's office it was a struggle to get Ari into the exam room. He wanted to stay in the waiting room with the lollipops and toys. I had to carry him, literally kicking and screaming, into the exam room.

The doctor said it was probably strep throat, but she wanted to do a test to make sure. Regardless, he would need antibiotics because his lymph node was extremely swollen. She attempted to open Ari's mouth with the tongue depressor.
"Ari, say aaaa!" She said.
Ari clenched his teeth closed and screamed and cried through his shut jaw.
The doctor called in for reinforcements. There were now three people, the doctor, and two assistants trying very hard to get my child to open his mouth, but to no avail.
He covered his mouth, he kicked, he screamed, he refused to leave my lap. He held onto me like a baby monkey. I rubbed his back. I told him if he let them look in his mouth, he would get cat cookies when he got home, but no amount of bribery worked. The doctor finally gave up on the strep test, and prescribed antibiotics to treat his symptoms.

We don't know whether or not he actually has strep, but we do know that he has an infection in his throat. We know that he is in pain.

He won't let me near his neck. I feel so badly for him.

When we got home, my dad helped me give him the liquid antibiotics and Children's Motrin for the pain. It was the same struggle all over again that I had experienced at the pediatrician's office. One of us had to hold him down and the other had to medicate him. We took turns.

He's sleeping now.

The doctor said it's highly unlikely that Samara will get what he has, but to wash our hands well just in case.

Here's hoping he feels better soon.

Are your kids challenging at the pediatrician's office?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Winner of The Mazel Tov Giveaway From Little One Books is...

The winner of The Mazel Tov Giveaway from Little One Books is...

Renee Adams from Me Myself and Mommy.

Samara and I would like to say:

Yay for Renee! Renee, what do you have to say?

Knock It Off!

Today I feel like the worst mom. Ari, Samara and I went to the playground this morning. Ari wanted to take his scooter with him. I told him that was fine by me, but he had to promise that he would ride it or walk with it all the way to the playground and all the way home. He agreed enthusiastically.

When it came time to go home, he did not want to leave the playground, which wasn't much of a surprise.
"Ari, we have to go home, when we get home, we're going to see Chesca." Chesca is Ari's cousin, and it was true, she is coming over later today.

We started walking home, and that's when the trouble started. He paused in the middle of the street and stood there unmoving.

"Ari you need to walk or ride your scooter."
"No." He whined
"Ari, I'm not in the mood for this right now. We need to go home and you need to walk."
"NO!" He yelled and started crying. I tried to reason with him:
"Ari, I can't carry you because I'm carrying Samara. So you need to walk."
At this point Samara started crying, and I knew she was hungry.

He walked a little bit, and then started crying in the middle of the street.
"Ari, you need to walk." I repeated.
He just stood there. So I walked ahead of him, figuring he would follow once he saw I wasn't putting up with his defiant behavior.

My attempt at tough love failed. I walked ahead of him and he did not follow. So I walked back with the baby on my chest crying loudly and got him.

After several more attempts to get him to walk home, reason went out the window and I lost it. I knelt down and yelled at him:
He cried louder and still refused to walk.

"Okay," I said "If you don't walk home, you can't see Chesca this afternoon and no playground for the next three days." That got his attention.

He begrudgingly held my hand and walked home crying all the way.

When we got home, I told him he did a good job walking home and that he would see Chesca and go to the playground after all. But I felt awful, because I lost my cool and yelled at him. I don't know how people stay calm when their kids are throwing monster tantrums.

What do you do when your kid sits in the middle of the sidewalk and refuses to walk?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Liz At The Library

Last week my dad helped me lead Story Time while the librarian is on vacation for three weeks. This week, my mom helped me read and sing to 0-4 year olds. She is a former ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher for elementary school children, and also has a public relations background. Essentially she's great with kids and an extrovert! It figures that she's a Leo.

Liz, my mom, is pictured above with the list of songs and stories we did for Story Time. She inspires me to be organized.

Ari was busy reading while we were getting ourselves ready for our 10:30am performance.

My friend Leah drove down to Brooklyn from upstate NY with her step-daughter Kinneret, age 2, to join in on the Story Time fun. She also took all the pictures of us reading, singing and being silly.

I was in a rush this morning, and therefore hastily selected my books. My mom's two books were a hit. They were:

Eric Carle's "From Head to Toe"

This is a great book. It goes through a list of animals and things they can do with their bodies. For example "I am a giraffe, I can bend my neck. Can you do it?" And then then the kids bend their necks in response.

Her second book was called "Barnyard Boogie." She got it second-hand at a thrift store up in Nyack, NY. That's where she gets the majority of her books and toys for the kids.

This is a fun book. It's actually a book and a puppet show all in one. Each page becomes a different animal. On one page the puppet mouth is a duck, and on the next it becomes a moose. The words to book are rhythmic and can be made into a song if the reader likes. Here's my mom reading "Barnyard Boogie" to the kids.

Then I decided to bore the kids to death by reading them a book about how penguins grow!

Boring! Ari loves this book at home, but I should have realized it's more of a one-on-one book and does not work for large groups. Leah pointed this out later.

Here's a picture of me boring the children about the growth of penguins from egg to adult.

Leah was on the job taking pictures!

Here we are singing "The Wheels on The Bus"

We had fun, my mom and I.

After Story Time ended, Leah and I drove over to Borough Park and had some delicious kosher pizza at Mendelsohn's while my mom watched Samara.

So...what songs should I sing next week? Ideas?