Saturday, August 30, 2008


Lincoln Charles made it into the world via c-section August 27 after almost 20 hours of trying to induce labor to no avail and my sister running a high fever. He was 7 lbs. 6 oz. and 20 inches long. Of course, I'm biased, but I think he's beautiful.

Initially his oxygen levels were troubling and was thus whisked to the nursery after delivery as they were concerned he had a tear in his lungs. My sister didn't even get to see her son for the first time for almost three hours after delivery. They kept him in the nursery for the first night to continue monitoring and to give her some much deserved sleep - as she'd been up for almost 40 hours at that point and was feverish.

She's been running a fever ever since. They've been pumping her full of antibiotics and as of this morning it was 102.4. She's been having uncontrollable shaking on top of it. If she still has a fever tonight they are going to do a CT scan of her abdomen tomorrow, and a heart scan Monday. Of course, the way insurance works in this "civilized" country of ours - Lincoln has to be discharged tomorrow. So much for bonding with your newborn, I guess. While she was leaning toward formula feeding with all that's happened, she's had no choice but to give up any hope of breastfeeding.

I'm worried, but there's really nothing I can do for her. And that breaks my heart.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Keeping my fingers crossed

My younger sister, Daphnne is pregnant with a baby boy, to be named Lincoln. She's due in a few weeks. This was a picture of her taken last month when I was in Dallas.

Her blood pressure is skyrocketing and she's spilling protein in her urine. She's going to be induced tomorrow at midnight. I'm not sure why the doctors are waiting, but I suppose there's a reason why I went to law school and not medical school.

All I know right now is that I wish I wasn't half a country away, and that I could be there for her more than just in spirit.

Please keep her and the baby in your thoughts.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

About three weeks ago I went upstairs to put laundry away (hahaha, I jest - who knows what I was doing, but I guarantee you it wasn't that). I left Julian in the bouncy seat on the breakfast table. The problem with this, you see, is that Ennis is convinced that it's HIS seat.

So when I heard Julian screaming bloody murder, I started sprinting downstairs to make sure that Ennis hadn't chewed his toes off. As an aside, I have this ridiculous fear that the cats will eat the baby's toes. I have no idea where this comes from, maybe some news story about something similar?

Anyway... I start sprinting down the stairs.

You see where this is going right? I bound down two stairs and then...


Only it wasn't so much "SPLAT" as it was a long, arduous slow motion fall that made me fall ass over tea kettle down the entire flight. I was shaken, but nothing appeared to be broken and the next few days just tried to take it easy.

A few days later I decided to go get some groceries (and of course by "groceries" I mean wine. and cheese. maybe coffee.) I went to lug my chunkster son out of the car in his carseat and then suddenly I was sitting in the Meijer parking lot crying, fighting back waves of nausea and blinding pain was shooting through my back and down my right leg.

The next day I went to the doctor and she put me on a week's worth of steroids, some muscle relaxers and vicodin. Now, while I was appreciative, since I'm still nursing J - I can't take the muscle relaxers or the vicodin unless he's not going to nurse for 12 or more hours. I hate pumping and dumping. So, I've managed to get by about a week with only the tiniest church mouse nibble of the good stuff. I was starting to feel better, and then yesterday while I was tiling the kitchen, I twisted ever so slightly to the left, and wham. Same damn thing happened again. On the floor, ready to pass out from pain.

Today I had a follow up with an orthopedist, and had eight x-rays of my spine. It's so surreal to me to see my own body in x-ray films. Spine looks o.k. - no fractures or breaks thankfully. I get an MRI next week - woo! And am being sent to physical therapy and will start using a TENS device. She's concerned that because of previous damage I have to my back that one of my discs may have ruptured.

In other news... my kitchen floor is missing. I got frustrated with the disgusting white berber carpet that was in there when we moved in last fall. Who the HELL puts white berber carpet in a kitchen? So, one day I just started ripping it up, and then ripping up the 1940s linoleum that was underneath it, and then the thick paper padding under that... until I was down to the bare plank subfloor. So now, when you're standing in the kitchen you can see slivers of the basement beneath you. Not exactly the ideal situation for someone (such as myself) who is afraid of heights. I also ripped all the 1970s trim off the kitchen cabinets, and am in the process of repainting them, and switching out all the hardware. I am painting the walls an asparagus green color and we picked out a solid carbonized bamboo floor to put in. I bought some amazing vintage french mosaic tiles and ripped out the old tile and replaced the backsplash with those. I've still got about two full days worth of work in there, but I think it's going to be a huge improvement.

Oh, and apparently J didn't have rotavirus. They don't know what is wrong with him (whatever it is -is back. A plague of watery green poop is upon us again). His poor little butt is so raw that it looks blistered. I've tried every brand of diaper cream I can find, and nothing seems to help.

And one last thing. I just cut off six inches or more of my own hair. In my bathroom sink. It wasn't quite pulling a Britney... but close.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Getting slowly better

Definitely rotavirus. Poor baby... every diaper change he screams so hard his body shakes. His poor skin is so raw, but he's doing better.

Slightly better at least.

Thanks for the well wishes.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tip of the Day - Can't find your rolling pin?

While making pastry, if you can't find your rolling pin, or need an extra one - simply fill a straight sided wine bottle with cold water and recork. The cold water will make the pastry easier to roll.

Oops. That was meant for a post on my food blog.

Sorry, we'll return to your regularly scheduled programming shortly.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


When Patrick and I bought our house last November, we looked all through the Fox Valley. We decided on our town because there was easy Metra access, and we could afford a house on one of the most beautiful streets in town with gorgeous historic homes. Mind you, the house we bought had been lived in for the last fifty years by one couple. The house had some SERIOUS updating to be done. In fact, it still has its original 1925 bathrooms - complete with 1925 toilets. They're the most horribly water inefficient things ever - but we heart the hex tiles on the floor and the subway tile on the walls. Eventually, we'd like to restore them and make some changes.

One of the best things about the house is that it has a lot of room to grow with. There's a huge walk-up attic and a complete basement. Both, however, are unfinished and will require quite a bit of work to make them livable spaces.

This brings us to our current predicament.

My mom was providing my great-grandmother "Granny" with 24 hour a day Alzheimer's care for the last five years of her life. She gave up working as it simply wasn't compatible with trying to keep Granny from hurting herself or walking down the streets confused. Mom's had a hard life. A very, very hard life. Granted, a lot of this is her own fault. Those of you who have been long-time readers (from my old site) know that my childhood was peppered with her going in and out of rehab. I didn't live with her after I was 11 years old. Now, in her defense, she was a wonderful parent before she tried escaping an abusive philandering husband in bottles of vodka. She's been sober almost fifteen years.

She was promised the opportunity to live in Granny's house once Granny passed as a thank you for her years of unpaid labor bathing Granny, changing her diapers, etc. And then the heirs sold the house out from under her - with 30 days notice for a pittance.

We've had a very strained, distanced relationship up until the time I got pregnant with Julian. Now Mom is essentially homeless. My grandmother has asked her to come live with her, but she's a bipolar alcoholic and I honestly think that one of them would end up killing the other (or herself) before the end of the year if they moved in together. Mom is a brilliant person - though she has only a high school education. She's fluent in american sign language. She's patient, and great with children. She's an artist and is incredibly creative. She also suffers from an anxiety disorder and hasn't held a steady job in over 3 years.

After long, careful discussions, Patrick and I decided that we would ask her to move up here from Dallas and be our nanny. It would allow us to help her, without giving her a handout... and would ensure that Julian was being watched by someone who loved him as much as we do.

She agreed to do it. I was honestly a bit surprised. The catch is that we'll be completely supporting her. COMPLETELY. Gas, groceries, housing, utilities, etc. Essentially as if she was an au pair. Which brings us to the housing issue.

I'm currently on unpaid maternity leave. I.e. no cash flow coming in. We've got savings, but not a ton. Our original plan was that we'd buy a second small home for her to live in (in our names) as an investment property. Gives her privacy, gives us some potential return on the outlay of money for housing, etc. Great idea except the well, not being paid part. We can do it, but the minimum downpayment would essentially drain all of our savings. Once I go back to work, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. We could easily do a second home in six months or so, after I've been back to work for awhile. That, and I'm a bit hesitant to take on another mortgage not knowing for sure if she's going to be happy with the arrangement.

So... that leaves us with two options. Get a short term lease on an apartment. Cheap monthly expenses, but we're just throwing the money out in a way.

Which leads us to the (probable) solution we're going to take... finish out our basement and let her live with us for six or eight months while we save up for a down payment on a second place. She would have a separate entrance to use if she wanted, and we'd be putting in a bathroom, bedroom and living area downstairs. It's virtually soundproof from the rest of the house. The only thing we'd be sharing is the kitchen. There's a separate back door that goes to the landing between the kitchen and basement. Putting the money into the renovations rather than rent would greatly increase our property value, and give us much needed space for a playroom and additional guest room once she's gone.

Patrick's dad is a general contractor, and we're calling him tonight for his thoughts and ideas. It wouldn't be a perfect situation, but it would help us more than the other option for a temporary solution.

I think we may be crazy. But sometimes, a little bit of craziness is what's necessary.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I'll take the Rotavirus with a small side of pneumonia.

By 1:00 this afternoon, Julian had seventeen poopy diapers in the last eighteen hours. They were watery and looked like the color of grass clippings. And he was screaming, wailing - and it was breaking my heart. I was a bit worried that the stool softener (apparently it wasn't actually a laxative) that I'd taken had caused him to be sick. But I didn't think it would make him that sick (as it turns out, that wasn't what was wrong). He was running a low grade fever, but nothing to write home about. His voice was hoarse, but I thought it was from crying so much over the last 24 hours. He was a bit raspy and wheezy but he seemed in fairly good spirits.

I called the pediatrician's office and described what his symptoms were. Their instructions - "Go directly to the emergency room." I called Patrick, lamenting those instructions, and said that I didn't think it was necessary, that he didn't seem that sick to me. I was pissed that we'd have to pay a $100 co-pay instead of the $20 for the doctor's office.

We spent seven hours at the hospital. He had two IVs, IV antibiotics, a chest x-ray and a full blood workup. His x-ray showed some potential pneumonia and some "left perihilar stranding densities representing atelectasis" whatever that means. His white blood cell count was too high, his red blood cell count too low, hemoglobin too low, platelets way too high, neurtrophils too low, lymphocytes shockingly high, glucose almost double what it should have been, creatinine too low, potassium and calcium too high. I have no idea what any of this means - except that elevated white blood cells indicate an infection of some kind. He's to follow up with the pediatrician's office tomorrow at 9:15. I've been directed to let him nurse as much as he possibly will and then top him off with pedialyte through the night. I took a sip of it before I put it in a bottle for him, and it tastes like liquid medicated ass. Blech. He actually seems to like it though.

While in the emergency room, we were sharing the room with a guy who'd gotten his nose broken (and heard him moaning and throwing up blood while his face was stitched up) and an elderly woman who was in for shingles and a potential heart attack. I'm praying to God he doesn't get chicken pox now (since shingles are the same virus). We were separated only by a flimsy cotton divider.

My nerves are wrecked, even though Patrick actually made it to the hospital before we did and stayed with me the entire time. I lost it and started bawling when they put a catheter in his tiny little penis and he let out the most blood curdling cry I've ever heard. I had to leave the room when they put the IV in because I almost passed out.

I felt so awful that I'd initially hesitated to take him to the hospital, as I really didn't think he was that sick. The rotavirus results will be back in two days, but the doctor said that's what her money would be on. They're doing some further analysis on the chest x-rays to get a better feel about whether he has pneumonia.

Oh, and in other news - I am not pregnant. Took a test last weekend, and all is well. I'm incredibly thankful, as that was something we didn't want right now.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Things I learned today...

When breastfeeding, it's best to never even think about taking a laxative. Even if it's been almost a week. You'll change more dirty diapers than you ever imagined possible, and they will all reek like rotten apricots.

Real post coming later, I promise.