The Daughter Chronicles

Friday, September 30, 2005

The exorcism of Norah

Krys and I were sitting there on Tuesday night about 9.30, getting ready for bed (because we're, you know, lame), and suddenly, through the second child's monitor, comes this frightful keening. Now, we were very proud of Norah's move to the crib, because last Sunday and Monday, she made it smoothly, with a minimum of fuss, and wasn't waking up every five minutes screaming for Mommy. We're such awesome parents. So the banshee-like wailing from her bedroom alarmed us, needless to say. Krys scurried into her room, and when I followed a few minutes later (I think I was in the middle of cleaning up the dishes), Norah had puked. I'd like to say something genteel like "she evacuated," but no - she puked. Puked something fierce. Krys was very upset. She was holding Norah and rocking her gently, and Norah was upset - this was her first puking experience, and I'm sure she was a bit surprised that all this gunk was coming out of her mouth.

Krys changed her and rocked her and sat with her, but the puking continued. Over the next hour she puked maybe four times. Krys was holding her over a towel on her changing table so that she wouldn't get it all over herself and Krys. Norah kept falling asleep, but before she could get really settled, she would puke. We thought about taking her to the hospital. This is the decision all parents must face at some time or another. With Mia, unfortunately, we have to take her to the hospital if she vomits, because vomiting may be a sign of her shunt being screwed up. So that's a concern. With Norah, we have no such concerns, but still - when a baby is puking, you have to wonder when it's time to go to the doctor. All our expert books say that if the kid is puking repeatedly for more than a couple of hours, it's go time. Well, she was puking repeatedly, but it only lasted a little over an hour. It never turned into bile, so she still had stuff in her stomach, and if bile had come up, I think we would have gone to the ER.

Eventually, she got everything out and went to sleep. I took her temperature on Wednesday, and she had a fever, but it was gone by the end of the day and she's fine now. The first real health crisis of Norah's life has passed. Phew.

This incident just brings up the difference between rookie parents and veterans. We were concerned about Norah, but not like we were with Mia when she was three months old. When she was three months old, we freaked out about any little thing. Now, of course, we're more level-headed. It's nice to know that we've been through these things with Mia, so we're not as nutty. In a few months, of course, it will be all new to us, because after Norah is eight months old, she will be doing things physically that Mia hasn't done yet, so that will be groovy.

More Norah news this weekend. She's doing more stuff, so she's not as boring these days.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The battle for the fate of my child!

Okay, it's not that dramatic. But how ever will I hook you if I don't spice it up a bit?

Last week I went to visit Mia's school on the day Krys was home sick. I wanted to have a chat with her school physical therapist and see if I could convince her to train the teachers how to put her into the gait trainer so Mia could spend more time in it at school. I had a nice conversation with her, and she told me she was concerned about the fact that when Mia stands, she pushes off on her toes and doesn't get her heels down. This leads to her knees hyperextending, which is never fun. She has done this ever since she started standing, and I don't know exactly why, although I'm sure it has something to do with her lack of balance. The standing on the toes and hyperextending of the knees pushes her butt backward, which she thinks will help her balance better. It doesn't, but it's an instinctive thing. So I get it.

The PT wanted to fit Mia for orthotic device, specifically an ankle brace to keep her heel on the floor. I gave her the phone number of Mia's home PT, and surprisingly enough, she called him last Friday (I say "surprisingly" not because I didn't think she'd do it, but because I didn't think she'd do it so quickly - she seemed a little disorganized). Mia's home PT explained to me yesterday (and to her during his phone conversation) that he did not think an orthotic device would help her very much at all. He said that what AFOs do is lock the knee and actually decrease flexion, which is what we want to increase in Mia. He also mentioned that they cost $2000. Now, as my loyal readers (hi, everybody!) know, cost isn't really an issue when dealing with Mia, but it does make you do a double-take when you hear numbers like that. Her insurance probably won't pay for it, but we can. I would, however, like to see if we can fix the problem in another way before we go dropping that kind of green.

Part of the problem is the gait trainer they have at the school. It's smaller than Mia's home one, and made out of metal. Therefore, she is closer to the ground and more likely to lock her knees as she tries to sit down in the saddle, and it's much harder for her to move the damned thing because it's heavy. This morning I had her in hers, and she was actually walking without being prompted, which is what we usually need to do. The one at school looks difficult to move even if she weren't disabled.

I mentioned this all to her home PT. He said that the AFO might help her keep her heels on the floor, but that's it. He also said it wouldn't hurt her to have one for a while. My big concern was that the school PT would recommend that Mia stay out of the gait trainer when she's not there to supervise because she wouldn't feel comfortable with only the teachers looking after her. The school PT is only there for 30 minutes a week, and I'd like Mia to spend a lot more time in the gait trainer. So today, when I picked Mia up, I met with the PT. I kept thinking that Mia had two PTs with conflicting ideas on how to fix her, and that a battle was looming (hence the name of the post).

However, it was not to be. Stupid reasonable people! The school PT really wasn't concerned with Mia in the gait trainer. She has a stander at school in which she puts Mia, and it was there that her concerns lay. When Mia stands in the stander, she pushes off on her toes, and the PT didn't want her in that position for too long, something I can completely understand - it would really mess her up. I didn't get a chance to look at the stander, because in the one Mia used at home before she outgrew it, she didn't have that problem. We could put her in it in a way that her heels would be flat on the ground. She tried to push off, but she couldn't because her ankles were secure. So I wonder if the stander they have at school isn't as sturdy as the one she has at home. The PT said she wanted to have a meeting with me and Mia's teacher next Friday to show the teacher how to put Mia in the gait trainer and what to do once she's in it, and I said I would take a look at the stander then to check it out. I wonder if she even needs to be in it, because the gait trainer helps her stand as well as walk. But that's something we can discuss next week.

I was glad that both sides were reasonable. As the school PT pointed out, the beginning of this year is going to be tough because they don't know Mia and her capabilities. Once they get to know her better, they can provide her with better equipment. She's making great strides with her gait trainer, so I hope that she can be in it a lot at school. I think it would be very helpful. How can she work the fields if she can't walk?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Three-month update

Norah was born 3 months ago today, and she is actually sleeping right now (sort of - she keeps making those weird noises babies make), so it's time for another quick update on what a 3-month-old does in these here days.

Well, not much. Still. On Tuesday Krys took the day off from work because she felt yucky, and she had Norah on her belly in the gymini, and the child rolled onto her back. Twice. I did not see it, so I have only Krys's word on it (and really, why would she lie?), but that's a pretty cool thing. Like most devious little children, she hasn't done it since. They live to make us joyous and then pull the rug out from under us! I'm still happy, though, because she is getting closer and closer to the day when she can move around and amuse herself. Then I won't have to. I'll just have to follow her around to make sure she doesn't destroy anything or kill herself. I'll take it.

She's interacting a lot more with us, too. She has gone from smiling and making small gurgling sounds in her throat to smiling and making long, sustained, happy cries. Krys walks around with her in her arms and Norah just checks things out, saying, "Aaaaaahhhhh, aaaahhh, hhhhaaahhhh, gggaaaaahhhhh" over and over. It's quite cute. She doesn't do this as much with Daddy, although she has started a little. I don't know why she doesn't with me - maybe it's because I get grumpy when she doesn't sleep (I'm trying not to, but at the end of the day, it's hard - she's crying and I know why - because she won't sleep!).

Her attitude toward Krys is an interesting one, because it mirrors Mia's. I don't want to get all sexist here, but is there something in young children that hardwires them toward preferring Mommy? Is it the gestation? Is it the breast milk? On the weekends, Krys has to get the pry bar to get Mia off of her, and when she comes home every day, Norah instantly calms down when Krys picks her up (she's usually crying when Krys gets home, because that's when I'm feeding Mia and ignoring her as she sits in her bouncy chair). Here I am, taking care of both kids like a sucker, and they remain Mommy's girls. I weep long hours because of it.

I know Mia digs me - she's always very happy to see me when I get her from school (although, to be honest, Tamerlane could probably pick her up and she'd be happy - she's just a happy kid), and she enjoys our time together, but when Mommy is around, it's like I'm something she might cough up after a bad meal. Even though Norah really can't distinguish much about the people who are holding her, she seems to endure me as well. It's just interesting that they really like it when Mommy is home. Is it because they're girls, or because Mommy is the exotic parent who is never home, or is it simply because she's Mommy? I don't know.

So Norah is coming along like a 3-month-old should. She doesn't sleep very well during the day, which is part of her insidious plan to drive Daddy insane, but other than that, she's perfectly normal. Which is nice.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I'm offended

I was watching Sportscenter on ESPN yesterday morning, and there was a heartwarming sports story on, which ESPN puts on occasionally when they run out of highlights in an attempt to show how pertinent sports are. Okay, that's fine. The story was about a girl who was born with a mysterious brain disease. I say "mysterious" because the reporter never identified it - it could be a common brain disease for all I know. Anyway, she has had seizures all her life. I wasn't sure if she had 3-5 seizures a day, or 3-5 outbursts of seizures a day - as someone with a seizure-ridden daughter, it does make a difference, as Mia usually only has one outburst a day, during which she might have anywhere from 1 to 10 actual seizures. So this girl was going through life unhappily, I would imagine, until one day her parents took her to an Atlanta Braves baseball game. Speaking as an avowed hater of the Atlanta Braves, I would say this might cure my seizures by putting me into a coma, but it seemed to work wonders on the girl. Her seizure activity was cut in half, and she became a huge Braves fan. Again, speaking as an avowed Braves-hater, I might wonder if the cure was worse than the sickness, but that's neither here nor there. She wrote a letter to Marcus Giles, the Braves' second baseman, telling him how wonderful and cute he was (I'll admit, he's not a bad-looking guy) and what a big fan she was. Giles read the letter and invited her to a weekend series and introduced her to some of the players. She was blissful and is making steady progress.

All of that is not what offended me. It's a nice story, and appears to be working its way toward a happy ending. Joy to the world. What offended me was something the mother said during the interview, when it came time for the obligatory tears and the wiping away of same. She said something about baseball not curing her daughter. She doesn't want to say that. Then she said, "If you want to say it's medicine; you can definitely say it's prayer."

She gave more precedence for her daughter's recovery to prayer than to medicine. That's what offended me.

Long time readers (all, what, 4 of you?) will know that I have an adversarial relationship with God. In fact, I don't believe in God, because I don't really feel like believing that an all-powerful God would allow a flat bed tow truck to ram into my car, thereby almost killing my daughter and leaving her with a traumatic brain injury. That's not to say I didn't appreciate all the people who prayed for her in the days and weeks after her accident - I did, I just don't share your optimism. God may work in mysterious ways, but if he could have helped Mia in the days and weeks after the accident, as many people believe, then he could have made sure she wasn't in that position in the first place. As you know, she is on medication today, and she often has seizures. The meds seem to be helping her a little, which is nice, and her neurologist has pointed out that some people grow out of seizures, which would be swell, but the point is: she has seizures, and I very much doubt that prayer is going to help. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Maybe our lack of praying for her has pissed God off and he's not going to help. Medication, however, is tested and tested and has been proven to work. For this woman to shortchange her daughter's medication like that pisses me off. If she had said both were responsible for the change, that's fine. If she feels that way, she should take her child off medication and treat her like a Christian Scientist would. We'll see if she likes that option.

Sorry about the rant. This kind of thing just makes me mad. It offends me because a LOT of human beings are helping Mia, as I'm sure they helped this girl, and to dismiss them in favor of some entity that, if you believe these sorts of things, gave your daughter the brain disease in the first place, gets me worked up.

Cheerier stuff next time, I promise.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Identifying things with Mia

Although Mia doesn't talk much, she does communicate rather well, and we're trying to get her to express herself better. Whenever she looks at something, she says, "Dat?" She says this if she is asking what it is, or if she knows what it is and is simply telling us. It's somewhat frustrating.

So this week while she was eating I noticed that she specifically looked at the cat more than just randomly when I was talking about the cat.¹ I have been telling her all about her sister for almost three months, and when she eats, Norah is usually hanging out in her gymini or sitting in her bouncy chair. She sits to Mia's left on the floor. So this week I kept asking her where Norah was. This is how it went:

Me: "Mia, where's Norah?"
Mia, after looking directly at Norah, smiling, and pointing down at her: "Dat?"
Me: "Mia, where's Zoe?"²
Mia, looking at the cat and pointing: "Dat?"
Me: "Mia, where's Norah?"³
Mia, looking back to Norah and poiting: "Dat?"

This is the extent of most of my conversations with Mia. The nice thing is, however, is that she knows who Norah is. Her pointing leaves something to be desired - she kind of waves her arm in that direction - but it's definitely directional. So even though she's not really talking yet, we're happy that she continues to learn and communicate a little better. Slow and steady wins the race.

¹ Either cat will do. They wander around her chair in shifts.
² Or Smokey. See note 1.
³ I have to make sure it's not a fluke, right?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Norah's achievements

It's tough being the second kid. Sure, it's nice to see them hit the milestones, but at the same time, it's kind of like, "Yeah, we've seen it all before." So I thought I would devote a post to how Norah is doing, without mentioning Demon Child #1 once (well, after this time).

A few weeks ago Norah started smiling. This is really a big deal, in case you're wondering. For the first six weeks of her life she just lay there like a lump o' flesh, staring out at the world as if to say "This is it? I've seen better." Then she started smiling. She first started it to respond to us smiling at her. Kind of like, "Hey, this is kind of fun, I'll try it." The old cliché about people being much more attractive when they're smiling is true - I always wonder why supermodels look so deadly serious on the runway. When Norah smiles, her face lights up and her toothless gums come out and then she laughs, which is a wonderful sound. Yes, it's a gurgle, really, but she enjoys it so much, and she responds to us smiling and laughing with her, so she just keeps going. It's gotten more fun because I think she's starting to anticipate us interacting with her. When she doesn't want to drink anymore, we move her so that she's sitting on our knee and looking at us. She immediately starts smiling, as if she says, "Hey! This is smiling position! How cool!" Of course, she's still a baby, so her attention span is woefully short, but for a few minutes, she's a happy tiny thing.

The other big development is that she has started noticing things around her, specifically toys. If you don't know what a gymini is, check out the picture of her in the previous post. She is lying on her gymini, which has two arches joining the opposite corners from which toys dangle. If you put her on it, the theory is that she will play with those toys. Norah has finally started to check them out as her vision improves, and this past week she has started to bat at the toys. We're not sure how deliberate it is, but it seems like it's getting more deliberate, which is cool. She has combined her laughter with lying in the gymini, too. We put her down and she looks up, whacks one of the toys, and giggles. She has started to grab hold of the toys too, which we're sure is not deliberate, but it's still neat. It's very cool that she is starting to play and figure out that the world is out there and that she needs to interact with it.

So that's her latest thing. She is gaining some weight and growing a little bit, and we're probably going to move her into her crib soon because she's actually sleeping through the night. Ah, the move to the crib - big news!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Assorted pictures

I know it's been almost a week since I ranted about my daughters, but it's been a busy week, since someone has decided sleeping is stinky (Norah) and there's not much she can do if she's awake except sit in my arms and drink and occasionally smile and laugh (I'm convinced she's laughing because she is thinking: "Ha-ha, sucker! Try to get me to sleep, will you?"). But I got our film developed, so there are pictures of Mia's first day of school and her birthday party. Enjoy!

This is the first day of school (15 August) and she's in the van, ready to go!

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Here's a picture of her at the school. She looks a little dazed. I don't know why - she was perfectly happy to leave me. She has a love-hate relationship with the camera - she loves to get her picture taken, but hates to smile. She usually smiles right after the flash goes off, because the camera makes a funny noise.

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Every month on the girls' "birthday," (the 30th of the month for Mia, the 22nd of the month for Norah) we take a picture of them sitting in the same chair. It's kind of neat to see the changes. This is Norah's two-month picture. She hasn't quite mastered holding her head up yet.

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This is Mia's birthday party on 27 August. That's Julie, one of my ex-bosses, holding Mia, who is strangely fascinated by the water, and that's Yazil and her daughter Alondra.

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Mia opens presents. Of course, the packaging is always much more interesting than the actual present.

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I included this picture for two reasons. One, we have been horribly lax about photographing Norah - parents know the drill - with the first one, you can't take enough, and with the second one, it's like "Yeah, yeah, we've seen it all before" - a horrible attitude to have, but unfortunately all too true; and two, we put her in the gymini (which she is starting to dig) to let her relax, thinking Smokey would get up and leave. He simply ignored her. He's mellow like that.

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Finally, this is Mia's three-year-old picture. I like it because she's actually smiling. She also looks rather sassy! Who knows what mischief lurks in that mind???

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I will probably have time this weekend for something more meaty. I have to go on about Norah's achievements!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The second-worst question you can ask someone

Okay, the worst is, of course, "Are you pregnant?" Why would anyone ever ask any woman that question? No good can come of it.

The second-worst question you can ask someone is "Is that a boy or a girl?" How rude. At least six people have asked me in the past two months whether Norah is a boy or a girl. She is always wearing pink, or orange, or sea-green, with flowers all over her clothes. Maybe parents dress their sons in that, but it's not really the usual thing, is it? One guy actually said he was color-blind, which I suppose is an excuse, and once Norah was wearing light blue pants and a white onesie with flora on it, so MAYBE you could make the case that it was a "boy" outfit, but not really. Just don't ask, you people!

Listen, people who can't determine the sex of a baby (and yes, I understand that it can be difficult - I'm not saying you shouldn't wonder, just don't ask): parents LOVE talking about their children. If you say something like, "What a cute baby!" most parents will say something like "Yes, SHE is very cute" or "NORAH is such a fun baby." Did you catch the subtle clues to the baby's sex? I understand this doesn't work for kids named Taylor, since sexually neutral names are all the rage, but usually parents will give it away. And then everyone is happy.

This is just a public service announcement. See how I care about you?