Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dad: Let me tell you how awesome my wife is.

The mothering instinct is a very powerful thing. I learned just how powerful last Sunday when I witnessed one of the scariest moments of my entire life.  At around 11:30 a.m. that day, the culmination of a precise string of events came to a head when my wife went unconscious, fell straight backwards and landed head first onto a hard tile floor. We spent the rest of that day and the following night in the hospital as a team of doctors treated her for several broken bones in her skull and a slew of other issues that come along with head trauma.

Ambulances also come along with head trauma.
As you know, healthy adults don’t just keel over at random unless they’re doing something they shouldn’t be, like drinking excess amounts of cough syrup or doing anything in any location with Charlie Sheen. For the record, Mary was doing neither of those things leading up to the incident. What she was doing was fighting a stomach bug that came hand-delivered to our house Friday afternoon, compliments of our 11-month-old daughter, Susan.

Friday morning at daycare, Susan had crazy Willy Wonka Chocolate River diarrhea, and by Saturday afternoon Mary was vomiting her delicious Jason’s Deli BLT along with whatever else she’d eaten two days prior. She felt slightly better Sunday morning, but I convinced her to stay home and rest while I took Susan to urgent care to figure out what was causing her to act like the world’s unhappiest baby. As soon as I got out of the neighborhood, Mary called and asked me to turn around and take her to urgent care to get checked out too. Boy, are we all glad that my mother-in-law convinced her to make that phone call, because if what came next would have happened when she was home alone, I don’t know what I’d be doing right now but it sure wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog while Mary sleeps.
Augustus found out the hard way about the
Oompa Loompa's septic system backup.
When we got to urgent care, Mary checked us in while I hauled Susan and all of our belongings to the waiting area. Before you ask why I didn’t stay up there with my ailing wife, I’ll remind you that a) cranky, sick, 25-pound baby in one arm; b) 25 pounds of baby accessories in the other arm; and c) I also had the stomach bug, just not as bad as Mary, apparently.
Once Mary got the both of them checked in, she came and sat down next to us. Susan didn’t want to sit still, so I started walking with her around the lobby (oh by the way, she can walk now, both on her own and while holding my finger). While we were doing that, the receptionist called Mary back to the counter to clarify something. After a few minutes, Susan guided us to the counter to see her momma, and there we all stood while Mary handled the check-in business and I tried to keep our daughter from flopping on the floor like a fish and licking the tile like a dog (and from this point on, I’m calling that maneuver “fish-doggin”). When I bent down to pick up Susan, I heard the check-in lady scream “WATCH OUT” and then heard a sickening THUD as something hit the floor behind me. That something turned out to be my wife who had lost consciousness and fallen straight back onto the floor. The back of her head took the brunt of the impact.

I have never in my life looked into somebody’s eyes and seen absolutely no trace of consciousness behind them until that moment. Mary was laying there to my left, wide-eyed but completely absent. Susan was to my right, crying. That was the only sound in the entire lobby. Having absolutely no idea what to do next, I called Mary’s name and tried to help her up, but there was no response. She was completely limp. Saying she was "out of it" would be like saying Lance Armstrong used some supplements.
Since you won't be needing it anymore, we could use that helmet.
That next ten seconds felt like twenty minutes as a team of nurses swarmed and lifted Mary into a wheelchair. Her head lolled and flopped as they settled her in and wheeled her back to an exam room. I picked up Susan – who stopped crying as soon as the nurses got out there – and followed Mary back to the room. The doctor, an older man with white hair and matching beard, came in immediately. The first thing he told me was that Mary would have to go to the emergency room because she passed out, which is beyond the scope of what they do at urgent care. I could only say ‘OK’ and nod. Then I looked at Mary. She was looking right at me and asked, “What happened?” I told her that she fell and hit her head very hard on the floor. Then she asked me, “I fell?” I said yes, and explained again that she hit her head. Then she said her ear hurt. Then she asked me, “Did I fall?” and I said yes. Then she said her ear hurt. Then she asked, “I fell?” Then she said her ear hurt. That went on for the next twenty minutes, at least. Pardon my language, but when the most brilliant person you know can’t remember what you told her two seconds ago, that is scary as shit.

The doctor examined her and determined pretty quickly that she had a temporal bone fracture. Mary asked me if she fell. She also said her ear hurt. Nurses were in and out of the room. I kept explaining to Mary that, yes you fell, and I know your ear hurts. It hurts because you fell and hit your head, but the doctors are going to make it better (having absolutely no idea if that was true). Then the EMS showed up and put Mary in a neck brace. Then they brought out the back board. And Mary asked me if she fell.

While all this was going on, Susan was on my right arm, dead silent, watching the nurses run in and out and the EMS folks put her mother in a neck brace. Then Susan started crying. And do you know what my concussed wife said? My wife, who lost consciousness for the better part of two minutes, and who couldn’t remember why her head hurt despite being told multiple times that she fell? She heard Susan crying and announced to the room, “There’s a pacey in her diaper bag.” If you would have asked Mary where she was, what month it was, what color her hair was, or even what her favorite movie was (it’s Die Hard, by the way), she would have stared at you blankly and said, “Did I fall?” Instead, deep in the mommy processing unit of her brain, she was able to a) hear a crying baby; b) determine the crying baby was her own; c) remember the quickest way to stop the baby from crying; d) remember where the pacifier was; e) put that into clear enough directions that her (at times aloof) husband could hear it amid the commotion in the exam room.  

So guess what I did? I went to the diaper bag and found, as promised, a pacifier.
A diagram of the human brain after becoming a mother.
They moved Mary to the ambulance and took her to the hospital. Susan and I followed in my car. Mary’s parents met me at the emergency room to take Susan, and I went back to triage with Mary. It turned out she had fractured the mastoid bone behind her ear along with a few other bones in her head. Her ear hurt because she had blood pooling in her middle ear from the fracture. The doctors believe she fell because she was dehydrated after not being able to keep any food or drink down for 24 hours at the time of the incident.

They kept her overnight at the hospital to make sure her vitals were OK and also to make sure she got rehydrated. She still has some hearing loss and a very bad, persistent headache. The good news is that all of this will heal in time, the hearing loss in a few weeks and the bones a bit longer. The bad news is that there really is no treatment for it, so Mary is at the mercy of her own body as to when she gets better. She will be homebound for at least a week, but the wonderful people at both her office and mine have ensured the both of us that they can cover things in our absence. My awesome in-laws live less than an hour away, so they’re also on call to help with Susan (who on top of all of this, has something called adenovirus which will have to “run its course”).

Mary has been very sleepy and resting most the time since she got home. She is 100% back from the concussion and had to pass some crazy hard high-level cognitive function test before she left the hospital. It was like taking the SAT, but less than 12 hours after suffering a mild head trauma. And, of course, she aced it.

And do you know what I learned out of all this? That I no longer have any excuse to ever EVER ask my wife where the pacifiers are.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mom: Baby Stats at Eleven Months

Well, there have been a lot of changes for Susan Louise Cook during the ten month to eleven month time period.  She has developed and changed so much so quickly.  All in the last two weeks it seems like!  

Now we are planning for the BIG DAY aka her first birthday.  My baby will be a year old.  That is so hard for me to imagine.  This has flown by.  Pregnancy was like 9 years instead of 9 months but these last 11 months felt like 11 days!  And while she is ready for more, we are not.  If we could freeze her, even just for a few more days, we would.  She is so quickly becoming a toddler and leaving babyhood!  And we have loved babyhood!  I know we will love toddlerhood because she will present new changes and challenges that we can all enjoy.  But man, fast forward a few years and I can see her looking at me and saying "I LOVE timeout."  Oh it will happen.  And that's probably when we will make Charlie or unamed-baby-girl-cook-part 2.

Here are her stats.  She turned 11 months old yesterday.  I bet you won't even be able to keep up with how much she has changed.

Weight:  Not sure.  Won't know until next month unless she gets sick.

Height:  See above.

Next Appointment:  3/21 for her one year check up and more shots

Teeth:  9!  Beat that!  I bet you can't.  I wish that was one thing she was losing at.  She got tooth number 8 around the end of January, and her first cuspid (the dreaded"eye teeth") popped through on 2/14.  As you will see as you read on, last week was a big one for Susan Louise.  We can already tell she is working on the matching number 10.  We have given up hoping for a break in teething.  I truly do not think she is going to stop until she has all 20.  I mean she has nearly half her teeth and she is not even 1!  Who does that?

New Foods:  She still eats everything but she has now tried oranges and loved them.  We are still holding off until she is a year old for eggs (although she has had some baked items that I am sure eggs were used to make them, but oh well.)  No real sweets yet to speak of, except for juice.  Until two weeks ago, the only thing in her sippy cup was water.  Which she loved.  Now, we let her have a sippy cup with 1/2 apple juice and 1/2 water about every other day.  She still loves water and loves her juice/water.  First cake is coming soon!

Bottle:  Two times a day.  She is so easy to wean.  We just made the midday bottle a sippy cup full of formula and give it to her with her lunch.  (She can't have whole milk until she is 1.)  She usually doesn't drink all of it, since she is having it with her meal, but I am pretty sure that with the super nutritious stuff she is eating, she is getting her nutrients through her solid food diet more than she is the formula.  We are trying to decide when to drop the next bottle (the morning one).  I honestly think she will do fine with the drop; it is the two of us who aren't ready.  Weaning from the bottle completely is such a huge sign that she is NOT a baby anymore.  So, if she isn't completely weaned by a year, I won't miss any sleep.  So it might be another month before we drop the next one.  We'll see.

Clothing Size:  12 to 18 months.  18 month stuff is still too big, but a lot of 12 month stuff is too small.  Her smocked 12 month stuff fits great - it's the day wear and pjs that are too small. 

Sleeping:  11 to 12 hours at night.  Susan has slept in a Halo Sleep Sack since she got out of the swaddle.  And she was outgrowing the Large size.  Rather than ponying up and spending another $100 dollars on four more, we decided it was time for Miss Susan to learn to sleep without a sleep sack and instead with a blanket.  We started with her afternoon nap on a Saturday and she didn't miss a beat.  In fact, she has been sleeping a little better.  Who knew?  Her naps at home are great; daycare is a day-to-day thing.  Yesterday, she had 2.5 hours of naps-her best ever.  She slept from 2-4 so she was able to play happily all evening and didn't go to bed until 7:45 p.m.  We were shocked.  Last Friday, she napped 35 minutes all day and went to bed for the night at 5:45 p.m. and slept til 6 a.m. on Saturday.  So it is a toss up.  

Diaper Size:  Five.  Hopefully we will be there a while.

Favorite Toys:  BOOKS!  It is the CUTEST thing you have ever seen.  If there is a board book around, it is the first thing she will crawl/toddle to.  She flips the pages, points to pictures, talks out loud, and giggles whiles holding them.  We read to her before every nap and before she goes to bed every night (and have been doing this since she was 2 days old).  We have also occasionally tried reading to her while we are playing but usually, her attention span was too short and the rattle/truck/anything else was way more amusing.  But her attention span has gotten noticeably longer so she is content to listen to short, rhyming stories.  Especially if there are big colorful pictures.  Her favorite books are Pat the Bunny (she loves Paul and Judy), Baby Cakes, Baby, I Love You and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?

Likes:  She likes to walk. She likes to blow raspberries.  She also likes it when we mimic the different sounds she is making or we stick our tongues out at her.  She thinks that is hilarious.  She will not always think we are this funny so we are trying to soak it up.  

Dislikes:  She doesn't love when we have to take something away from her, but we are trying to make things a trade.  For example, if she is holding our remote (because we forgot to put it high up), we will offer to trade her our remote for her happy smiley, sing along remote.  The trade usually does not result in too many tears or fits.  But we have seen her throw a few fits.  With real tears and everything.  We handle it by distracting her with something new but ignoring the fit.  No pick ups or coddles. That is hard but it seems to work best.  That way, we aren't validating the fit.  (For those of you who don't think its too big of deal to let her play with the real TV remote, wait until you experience your Ross/Marcell/everyone-is-speaking-Spanish-what-did-the-baby-do moment and then we will talk.)

Milestones:  Well, she walked on 2/14.  I knew she was close but I did not realize how close.  Now of course she tries to walk on all occasions.  Crawling is still her fastest mode of transportation, but she tries to walk almost every time she moves.  And now, she doesn't even wait to pull up on something.  She just using her strong legs and arms to push herself up into a standing position.  Before, she would pull up on the ottoman or chair, then turn and start walking.  Now, even if she is just sitting on the ground, she will position herself to her knees, get in a full squat and push herself up.  On 2/12 she said her first word.  (Told you last week was a big week.)  She said "bear."  It was adorable and magical.  Of course she has not said it since but it is still great.  She also knows exactly who we are and our names.  We have been playing the "Where's Mama?" or "Where's Dada?" game for a while.  She always knew exactly who and where Oscar was.  Her providers and loving parents?  Not so much.  But we played the game again this morning and she looked at the right person/dog each time she was asked.

So much has changed in these last two weeks.  And of course instead of walking, she is really trying to run.  It is obvious.  We have our hands full but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Look at my almost grown up baby!

Best way to get her to sit still now is to give her a book to look at/read.

Happy Eleven Months Susan Louise!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mom: Wear Sunscreen

Remember that song/speech to music that was played around graduation?  Circa 2000?  (No, not Vitamin  C.)  It began with "Wear Sunscreen."  Here, for those of you who act like you don't remember what I am talking about, click the video below.

For those of you who know me, and I guess for those of you who have ever seen a picture of me, you will have undoubtedly noticed that I am about five shades lighter than a Cullen vampire on their best day.  I am a pale-face.  I don't sparkle in the sun but I have enough moles on my body that they could be called my own version of sparkles.

Why are you blogging about this MJ?  What relevance does this have to parenting?  Well I will tell you.  I have gone to the dermatologist periodically throughout my life.  I have even had a couple of  moles removed - most notably one on my back in law school.  Well I was about three years overdue, so in January I went to a brand new Duke dermatologist to have them all looked at.  Unsurprisingly, there were a few moles he needed to biopsy.  And by a few I mean FIVE.  Of course, he didn't  have enough time to take little chunks out of five different moles that day, so he had to schedule a second appointment for the next day.  On that day,  I bravely held my husband's hand while the doctor shot what felt like needles (anesthesia) into my skin and then cookie cuttered a 2mm portion of each mole out.

I figured with 5 moles being biopsied, my odds weren't great for everything coming back hunky dory.  And I was right. Four came back as severely abnormal.  One came back as a touch of melanoma.  Yes - I have a touch of cancer.  I say "a touch" because it is Melanoma In Situ, which is Stage 0.  That means it hasn't spread past the dermis and is just sitting there.   On my back.  All "I'm cancer" and stuff. 

Ugh.  Great.  Like I have time for this.  So now for treatment.  I have two different surgeries scheduled.  One for my melanoma mole and one of the other superbad-but-not-quite-cancerous moles which is today.  My new new dermatologist (that's right, after the biopsy I got referred to Duke's melanoma specialist) will be cutting clean margins to make sure she gets it all.  Then in two weeks, I go back to have the other three superbad moles removed.  Because they are all probably baby melanomas in the making.

What else?  Well, I am personally going to insist on a PET scan, and probably one a year for a while.  I know its not the usual treatment and my doc will likely not recommend it.  But guess what - doctors are human.  They are talented and know everything about their field.  But there are those weird cases where docs say they had clean margins and two years later, the patient wakes up with Stage IV.  I won't be one of those - No sir.

But what does this have to do with parenting?  Well - WEAR SUNSCREEN!  If you have not gotten the memo, being tan is not "in."  Finally, thanks to skin cancer, being a pale-face sparkly vampire is "in."  No one is tan anymore, and if you are, people think you are weird.  And this applies to all ages.  It doesn't matter how old you are, you aren't supposed to be tan.  Now, you are supposed to wear sunscreen anytime you will be exposed to the sun. 

Now, this is not my parents fault that I have melanoma.  They typically slathered me up with SPF 15 in the summers.  But in high school, did I take my pasty self to the tanning bed?  Yes.  College?  Yes.  But after college it stopped.  Let's face it - I can't get that tan anyway.  I mostly burn.  Chris and I went on a cruise at the end of law school.  We came back as pale as we were when we left.  Why?  Because I only packed SPF 50 sunscreen.

And in case some of you haven't noticed, Susan definitely inherited my coloring.  We even found her first freckle, which almost made me cry.  At the work cookout we hosted this past summer, my boss (known for his tact) said "Well, she is definitely the whitest baby I have ever seen."  So true.  And she will stay that way.  We will make her the queen of sunscreen babies.  Anytime she will be playing outside, she will be a covered, greasy toddler.

Beach?  She will wear a hat.  If she isn't splashing in the water or building sandcastles, she will be hanging out under the umbrella.  (Seriously, who goes to the beach and doesn't sit in the shade?  That is just like giving melanoma the finger.  Well guess what - karma is a bitch and so is that weird ass  looking mole on your belly/back/scalp/calf.)  Playing in the yard?  Same thing.

Chris agrees with all this too.  Both of us are always incredulous when we see people spraying tanning oil at the beach or laying on their stomachs with a swimsuit strap unfastened.  Are you kidding?  Didn't you get the memo?  Tan is OUT!  Tan is a sign that you are stupid and don't care about preventing one of the most PREVENTABLE forms of cancer.  I was stupid once - LOOK WHAT HAPPENED!  (And if you are one of my friends and are tanning - STOP!  You are being stupid!  So Stupid! And by tanning, I mean not covering up, not wearing a hat, not sitting in the shade and not slathering with at least SPF 45 everytime you are out in the sun for a while.)

Now let's face it - with as pale and moley has I have always been, this could have happened anyway.  I could have been the queen of SPF 70 in high school and with my moles everywhere, I could have still been in this boat.  But maybe not.  Probably not.  Because with my skin coloring and my stupid teenage choices to tan, I was definitely giving melanoma the finger.  Ugh.

Susan will be the sunscreen queen.  No adorable Coppertone Baby here.  My baby will be under an umbrella when Oscar pulls her swimsuit bottom down.

P.S.  This blog  is not going to become "Mary Jane's Battle with Cancer" Blog.  I have a touch of melanoma.  I am going to be fine.  But I will give you all some periodic updates.  But not many and not that often.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mom: Baby Stats at Ten Months

I know, I know!  She actually turned 10 months on January 19, but we have been so busy!  Really and truly, it has been crazy!  I am teaching a class at the law school this semester.  That's right...Professor Cook is in the house!  I love it, but because it is my first time teaching this material, it is very time consuming, not only on Tuesdays when I am teaching, but also in terms of preparation.  I spend a good bit of time on the weekends preparing for class.  Not to mention that work has been a little stressful and very busy these last few weeks.

So we have been busy.  But I want to keep blogging because I love doing it.  Chris will be Guest Blogging on Baby Center at least once a week, if not more.  So that may take away some of his time here.  But we want to keep doing it, if for no other reason then to chronicle Susan's life and development.  And if we manage to make all of this seem way less scary then we all thought before we birthed babies, well that is even better.  (P.S. Sometimes it is a little scary.  It helps if you married someone who makes you laugh and can calm you down.)

Anyway, here are her stats at 10 months (even though she will be 11 months in about two weeks).  She had to go to the doctor right around her 10 month birthday so her weight and height are pretty accurate.

Weight: 25 lbs.
Height: 31.5 inches
Next Appointment: 3/21 for her one year check up and more shots
Teeth:  7 - The seventh tooth erupted on her 10 month birthday. 
New Foods:  She eats everything.  All meals are self-feeding now and literally, she eats anything we give her.  She eats all the same things we do at night for supper and she gets to have a whole host of different types of food at daycare.  For example, last week she had curry chicken one day, with broccoli and tropical fruit, another day she had beef empanadas.  She may still hit a picky eater stage at some point in toddler hood, but maybe not.  She has yet to have a single french fry or chicken nugget and we plan to keep it that way. 
Bottle:  Still three times a day.
Clothing:  Some 12 month items still fit, but she is wearing a few 18 month stuff but they are too big.
Diaper Size:  5 - Hopefully she will be in this size for a while.
Sleeping:  This largely depends on how bad she is teething or if she has a cold.  If she is teething really bad or is sick, she is waking up at 5:30 a.m.  But if she isn't, she will sleep to 6:30 or even 7.  So she gets anywhere from 12 to 14 hours of sleep a day.  I wish she was getting a little more, but there isn't much we can do about it.  When she moves to the toddler room at daycare, she will have to move to  one nap a day.  I don't think she is moving right at 1 year, which is good because she is not ready for the 2 to 1 nap transition.
Favorite Toys:  She loves all the toys she got for Christmas.  She really does.  That truck, clearly is number one.  Way to go Santa.  She also loves her musical table and the Laugh and Learn Home.  Now that she has so many toys, we had to set up two separate play areas.  We have some toys upstairs now in the bonus room/playroom but we still have some downstairs. 
Likes:  She loves to blow raspberries and play the uh oh game.  And as demonstrated before, she LOVES to walk behind that truck.  We really aren't encouraging walking but you know, can't stop it either.  She is just SO busy right now.  She is a super fast crawler and I cannot imagine how much busier she will be when she is walking! We have told Daycare that if she walks there, not to tell us. 
Dislikes:  She dislikes it very much when her truck gets stuck behind some immovable object.  She transitioned into a toddler kind of overnight.  I am reading the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers (as I am a HUGE believer in the Baby Whisperer philosophy).  She just doesn't know any other way to voice her frustration then to cry and whine.  It isn't often but it does happen.  So we have also ramped up the sign language.  Because if she feels like she can communicate, then maybe she won't get so frustrated.
Milestones:  Walking behind objects, standing unassisted.  She pulls herself into a standing position now and stays there.  Talking and babbling is about the same, although she has a word for Oscar and says it at home quite often.  She has also started saying mama at me occasionally.  Not regularly all the time.  I have read that baby's tend to work on 1 big milestone at a time.  We have found this to be true for Susan.  She was babbling up a storm for a while and really interested in trying to talk.  Then when she became really interested in walking, she was way less interested in talking.

So adorable and happy on my ten month birthday!