An unexpected visit to the ER

Last summer (2018) I left my work conference in Washington DC a day early – I took the greyhound home because it was the quickest I could get back.  Chris described his symptoms to me…he was crawling up the stairs, his legs were extremely painful – inexplicably painful that he could barely walk.  He had numbness and tingling spreading up his legs.  Chris went to urgent care where the doctor couldn’t really explain what was going on, but took several gallons of his blood to test for various things including Lymes Disease.  The doctor sent him home and told him if it started to spread up his body to immediately go to the Emergency Room.  I made it home and it was clear Chris was very ill, with what exactly we had no clue.  It was all very worrying.

The next day when Chris woke up the numbness and pain had started to spread to his hands and arms, so we sent Aviana off to daycare and headed to the nearest ER.  It was there that Chris was admitted into hospital for tests and observation.  The doctors were very concerned and he became that patient that would have had House M.D. appearing at his bed.  It was a mystery.  Each day they ruled out various diseases with tests and observations, new doctors and specialists appeared with their theories and hypotheses.

It was very difficult for me to leave Chris in hospital and go home to look after Aviana in the evenings. It was difficult for Aviana to understand why daddy couldn’t play with her.  The hospital is generally a terrifying place for a toddler, beeps, noises, wires, strange people etc aren’t overall very welcoming.  I had friends who helped to look after Aviana whist I visited Chris in hospital.  Of course this all happened when our regular sitter was out of town otherwise it would have been a whole lot easier to handle.  It made us realise how far away our family is in a time like this. Of course we were all worried.

Eventually Chris was discharged and told it was probably a virus and one of these things that happens. (Ummmm yeh, just one of those things???!)  When he became an outpatient Chris had some nerve tests done which confirmed he had nerve damage in his legs…and so was diagnosed with acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, also known as Guillain Barre syndrome.  It is basically an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly attack the outside of the nerves and damages the myelin insulation.  It is often triggered by an infection of some sort (he had some kind of stomach bug thing a few weeks before), but it can happen to anyone, anytime. They don’t know why it happens. Scary. Chris was told his recovery could take from 6 months to a year.  He was off work for several weeks, exhausted as he slowly gained his strength back.  He also suffered from a lot of ‘brain fog’ as well, so mentally he has had to build his strength back up before going back to work. There are still unknowns if this would ever come back again (chronic form), but so far, it’s looking promising.

Chris was lucky that this did not spread further to their parts of his body and that the damage did not require him to need physiotherapy nor need much longer hospitalization.

So that’s where I was and where I went to.  It was a crazy summer and I decided to take some time off blogging to focus on my family.  Then I got busy with learning how to sew and knitting blankets for local families who lose their babies (that’s another story for later).

I miss blogging but I have also been thinking very carefully about this blog and what I write about here.  At the forefront of my mind has been Aviana’s privacy, especially after reading an article about a kid asking her mother to stop blogging about her and her mother refusing to.  I don’t want to be that kind of parent, but at the same time I want to share my experiences as a parent. So I will return to this blog!

(Ps. the post I posted the other day was SOOOOO old and incomplete, sorry about that- I have a lot of draft posts I have yet to finish!  My goal is to finish them within the month!)

Goodbye 2018, you have been full of highs and lows.  Hello 2019 – what will you bring us this year??

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!

Tips for Flying with a baby

So I discovered a few things about flying with a baby and thought I’d share them with you!

I flew from Norfolk International Airport, connected at Philadelphia to London Heathrow on American Airlines and returned connecting at JFK New York on British Airways; so my experiences are somewhat limited to these airports and airlines!  I also travelled on my own when I flew back from the UK, so I experienced solo travel with a 3 month old (Yikes).  Please do share any of your tips and experiences below too 🙂

Before Flying.

Reserve the right seat.  Not paying for a child seat and carrying an infant on your lap?  Try and book a bulk head seat or phone up the airline and ask for one because you have an infant on your lap and want to use the bassinet.  This only applies to larger aircraft, so if you are traveling on a smaller plane you will have to have baby on your lap. Ughh.

Generally infants flying on your lap are free if you are traveling within the US or if you are traveling internationally it depends on the airline, but it will cost about 10-20% of your ticket price.  And you don’t get any extra baggage allowance so you have to fit all your baby’s stuff in your bag!  Luckily they are tiny!

Packing Carry On Bags.  Pack a diaper bag as your personal item and pack a BACK PACK/RUCKSACK (or vice versa if your diaper bag is a back pack already).  I was going to take my small roll on and thought it would be easy to carry….but actually pushing a buggy and rolling a bag is not a good idea.  If you have paid for a seat then you can take a diaper bag and two carry ons – one for you and one for baby.

Pack diapers/nappies, wipes and change mat in a smaller bag within the diaper bag.  Why?  Because you will be going to the toilet lots when on the plane and it is easier to carry that down the aisle than the whole diaper bag and knocking people’s heads as you juggle baby and bag on a bumpy plane!

If you are traveling for more than a few hours, don’t think you will only need one change of clothes.  Believe you me it will typically be the only time you get TWO blow outs.  Yup, speaking from experience here! Just pack sleepwear to save space.

Pack a comfort toy and one other non noisy toy.  I didn’t want to be the person with an all singing dancing toy…baby is loud enough as she is!

If you are breastfeeding then you are lucky you don’t need to pack lots of formula and bottles! Sorry I don’t have tips for you formula feeding parents.  But I did pack an empty bottle and two portions of formula powder just in case for any reason something happened.  I think I was over thinking things and really didn’t need this.

Baby carrier/sling/wrap.  BEST THING EVER.  This gave me so much flexibility and I needed it when my buggy didn’t arrive at the gate and I had to walk about a mile from the gate to passport control/baggage claim in London Heathrow.  Hands free baby carrying for the win.  I use the baby hawk Mei Tai which rolls up nice and small into the diaper bag.

Checking in buggies and car seats.  I spent aaaages researching this. I bought gate check bags to put my buggy and car seat in when I get to the gate.  These little bags fold up nice and small, so I could put them under the buggy.  If there are two of you traveling, definitely buy these two items so the carseat/buggy don’t get scratched or wet.  Remove cup holders and any other items hanging off the buggy, they will get broken because honestly, the baggage handlers really do throw these things around.  But if you are on your own? Don’t bother…honestly just leave them at the gate without a bag, it is way too difficult to carrying baby and trying to put these into the big bags. Just make sure any infant inserts are secured tightly into the car seat. Yeh lesson learned there!

Incomplete….

Micro blog: The copy cat

We quickly discovered that Aviana learns fast if she has someone to copy.  For example…we visited our local botanical gardens that has a giant sand play pit, the previous night it rained heavily so there was a lot of wet sand and big puddles.  Aviana freaked out about the texture of the wet sand (sticky, wet and dirty!), so she just stood there, not playing, just watching the world for quite sometime.  As soon as our friends joined us with their almost 2 year old daughter who has no such fears, Aviana immediately followed suit, she even sat in one of the sandy puddles, digging the dirt! It was quite an amazing transformation.

We had tried on many occasions to get Aviana to wear her helmet when she rode on the back of my bike, but we failed and she was miserable if we forced her to wear it.  But as soon as she saw her friend wearing the exact same helmet, that was all it took, and Aviana has been happy to wear hers from since then. In fact she asks for it.

This all good, really it is adorable to watch her learn in this way, but there is going to be the time when she copies others and we DON’T want her to follow suit!!!

Micro blog: The poop monster

Here’s another interesting development….Aviana wanted to sit on the toilet to poop.  She didn’t actually poop, but she sat there for a little while.  She also sat on the step stool and pretended to sit on the toilet to poop (in her diaper).  We have been asking her to tell us when she has pooped so she doesn’t sit in it for too long, and she decides to also tell us on occasion when she has peed.  Sometimes she gives us warning she’s pooping, and sometimes she has actually just farted, so we are some way off potty training!  But it made us think perhaps we should smarten up on potty training and get a potty for those moments when she asks to sit on the toilet.  I’m not in a hurry to potty train her, she’s got a way to go physically I believe. Apparently their bladders aren’t really big enough until around 2. But I literally have no clue on this subject, we should be prepared-time for some reading up!

Speaking of poop, Aviana’s poop was blue on the 4th July.  It was so blue it stained her bottom blue.  We discovered she ate a muffin at daycare the day before that had a lot of blue food dye in it!! hahahahaha….so gross.

Micro Blog: The wee bean pole

As for recognizing Aviana as an IUGR baby, you really can’t tell anymore.  Yes she has skinny arms and legs, but she is definitely one of the taller kids in her class, but not the oldest.  On Monday she had her 18 month wellness check up.  She was 21lbs 6oz (31st percentile, up from the 25th!) and 32.5″ tall (69th percentile, up from 60th).  But she has been wearing 18-24mth old clothes for a while and has outgrown many of her 12-18mth clothes in length.  She can still wear 6-9 mth trousers, they are short, but still fit her waist!  In my IUGR support group i is believed that many IUGR babies catch up in size by the time they are 2 years old.  However, that is not necessarily the case for all types of IUGR (symmetric and micro premie babes), and sometimes it is very easy to spot the IUGR baby in the class.  Aviana is one of those who has caught up physically!!! Good growing little Miss A.

Micro blog: The Hungry Caterpillar

We are making a little bit of progress with Aviana’s food habits.  She actually ate a chicken nugget the other week! SHE ATE MEAT!!!! OK, so this type of chicken nugget is the kind which you can barely tell it’s actually chicken…but hey, it’s a win in my books! She eats any kind of fruit thankfully, but vegetables we are down to frozen peas and occasionally broccoli, but that’s it.  She still hates tomatoes, and gags on tomato sauce, but she has been willing to try new stuff, even if she has spat it out before.  So we just keep offering her whatever is the plate du jour in the Fenning house hold, praising her for trying new foods, and keeping it as relaxed as possible.  We know that she eats better when she is around other kids at daycare…sometimes, I wish I could be a fly on the wall whilst they eat their lunch!  On occasion we are sent videos of the class eating their lunch or snack.  I’m amazed at how quiet they actually are when they sit down for food together!  It’s the complete opposite of what you would imagine a toddler lunchtime to be like.  I reckon that must change as they get to the older classes because at the moment conversation isn’t exactly flowing at this age.  My lesson with food so far is not to stress over how much or what exactly she is eating and she seems to do ok, but honestly it’s really hard not to worry after IUGR.

Micro blog: Little Miss Shy

There was a moment in time when I thought Aviana was struggling with her shyness and wasn’t enjoying participating in group activities.  I wondered whether we should change daycare to some where more like a Montessori school.  Every photo or video we were sent from daycare, Aviana was either sat in the lap of the teacher, upset or on the otherside of the room by herself.  She had been in this class permanently for over 2 months, it wasn’t like it was so new.  But the daycare staff never thought much of it, Aviana just had her own way of having fun.  Aviana is very affectionate and loves her teacher cuddles.  I am very appreciative that the teacher’s reciprocate, although I was beginning to wonder if they spent too much time holding her or even spoiling her.

I even wondered whether we should stop going to the little gym parent-child classes at the weekends.  Aviana would cling to us throughout the warm up and would scream, cry or refuse to do any of the skills or activities.  She was happiest playing away from other kids (and noisiness).  And then just as we were going to make an appointment to see the Montessori school…we suddenly got videos of Aviana integrating, participating, and smiling.  We went to the little gym for a birthday party one weekend and she came right of out of her shell.  She was showing off all the skills she had observed other kids doing.  Just yesterday Aviana not only participated in every single activity in the class, she joined in with the other kids (in her own way still!) and suddenly was happy to do all the daredevil stuff she had spent the past 6 months avoiding, and she wanted to do it over and over again!  An incredible change. I doubt she will be the attention seeking kind of kid, but this little step in self-confidence has been wonderful to see.

Micro blog: The walking dictionary (for beginners)

Aviana is coming along nicely with learning new words.  I have lost count of the number of words she knows but it is well over 50, may be even 100, and the other day she actually put two words together that she came up with herself, in context of the situation….”Daddy gone?”.  I was taken aback at her new found skill.   Her other new skill is knowing the names of colours – she hasn’t quite got the difference between pink and purple yet, but to be fair, I know a few guys who can’t tell the difference :-0 There is one word in particular she has trouble saying, but is the sweetest – Lizard – she basically says ‘Li-la-d’ and sticks out her tongue like a lizard as she says it.  Too cute.  She occasionally also says words backwards…like ‘Cup’ is ‘Puc’.  I find all this language development truly fascinating.  Every day it’s something new!!!

Micro Blog: Child’s Brain

Aviana seems to be growing into her skin a lot more.  Now that she is walking, running and galloping (her new skill this week!), she seems pretty content with her new found skills.  She spent a lot of her growing life constantly frustrated that she can’t physically do stuff she mentally wanted to do.  It felt like her brain was always two steps ahead of her body developmentally.  We have also ran out of ‘wonder weeks’.  Her final leap was actually earlier than expected, a couple of weeks early than the book suggested, but this was becoming the trend with the last few leaps.  Now that we have run out of leaps, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t ‘leap’ in her brain development anymore, it’s just that it’s less predictable.  The wonder weeks app has been a wonderful resource and comfort.  I highly recommend it to new parents.

I am now reading a new book called ‘Welcome to your child’s brain’ which is sort of an advance on the wonder weeks, and explains a child’s brain development in a whole lot more detail.  Like the wonder weeks, it provides guidance on when and how a kid’s brain develops, but towards teenage college years.  Everything from sight, smell, reading, mathematics, art, behavior, motor skills and emotions.  It’s thoroughly fascinating to learn about how, when and why children do certain things and its normalcy.  Read it.  You won’t regret learning about why your child does certain things and how to deal with them.

Where’s Dani?

I haven’t blogged in a while.  Mostly because I have been focusing on other things in my spare time, like learning how to use my sewing machine!!!  Work was a little crazy too and I have often come home feeling like the last thing I want to do is sit down in front of a computer to write.  It is also a sign that I haven’t felt the need to blog, my therapeutic tool.  And that’s kind of a good thing.

I’m feeling more comfortable in my parenting rhythm.  It goes something like this…

….Figure stuff out (books, facebook, family, friends and google – thank you) Two weeks later forget that and figure something else out.  Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

I have learned to be cool with the routine of the routine always changing.  That’s not to say we don’t have a routine, because we do and it’s a pretty good one Chris and I have figured out.  Rather, I mean, that Aviana is constantly changing and her needs are always changing.  Now I’ve gotten used to that reality.  Expect the unexpected is my new motto.

With that in mind, I haven’t felt like I have needed to blog!  Which is a shame because I love to capture the interesting things I have learned as a parent.

In any case, I thought I’d do a series of micro blog posts to catch up!!! No one wants to read my 3 months worth of an essay in one hit!