Archive for the 'Parent Odyssey' Category

Milestone Alert

Sunday, May 14th, 2006

I had heard this day would come. . .

Emma has achieved a new stage of development, and Mom and Dad now have new cause for anxiety.

For the past week and a half or so, now, Emma has been practicing the art of transitioning from a stomach position to sitting, and conversely, from sitting to lying on her stomach. 

I had read that kids are creative, and that they sometimes learn to move around in what seems an unconventional way.

Emma is one of those.

She doesn’t make the lying-sitting move on her side, as you or I might.¬†Instead, being very limber, she moves from sitting to lying, and vice versa, by pushing forward or¬†backward, as the case may be, over her hips.¬† She just¬†does the splits and shifts herself.¬† (She knows that this is quite an achievement, and she smiles and laughs at herself each time she does it).¬†¬†

Well,¬†today, I put her in her crib (on her back) for a¬†nap.¬† Before she fell asleep, two different times, she rolled to her stomach, and then sat up – in her crib!¬†I “caught” her in there sitting up, playing the tinkly tunes that come out of her bear toy, and bouncing to the music!

This¬†is a new stage, and I’m starting to envision her trying to climb all the way out in the not-too distant future.

Good thing we have the anti-cat crib shield installed.

Jimmy  Jimmy


Frankly, we’ve only zipped that up on the few occasions that the crib was¬†under direct cat-attack.¬†

But now, we’re going to be zipping it closed, not to keep cats OUT, but to keep an active¬†baby IN.

Miracle Worker

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

This is Bearthoven, a bear that lives in a corner of Emma’s crib.¬†

When switched on, it speaks a few encouraging phrases in a female voice and plays twinkly Beethoven tunes in time to soft red and yellow flashes of light from its tummy.

Until recently, Emma and I have only been playing the bear’s upbeat “daytime” music and chatter.¬†¬†

Playing with Bearthoven     

Tummy Aglow,
originally uploaded by Koog Family.

But last week, out of curiosity (and because she wasn’t falling asleep in her crib anyway), I turned on the “nighttime” mode in the crib at bedtime.¬†¬†The result was so amazing that we’ve been repeating the routine ever since.¬†

After completing our other bedtime activities, I put her into bed.¬† I turn on the bear.¬† It tells her¬†”sshhh,¬†it’s quiet time.”¬† It plays three short, slow-tempo¬†tunes.¬† She stares, enrapt,¬†at the soft glowing lights, which¬†reflect off of other surfaces and become, temporarily,¬†the absolute center of the otherwise darkened room.¬†¬†The music ends.¬†¬†The bear pauses.¬† She sighs, as if finally resigning herself to give in¬†to sleep.¬† The bear wishes her good night.¬† And she¬†falls peacefully into slumber.¬† ¬†

Our little girl has been sleeping through the entire night very well lately.

But, Paul had an important lawschool exam early this morning, and I think she figured that last night was a good time to mix things up.

Bearthoven was the only thing that got her back to sleep at 2:45 a.m.

I only wish I’d turned it on¬†an hour earlier.

Mom and Daughter – 6 months old

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

Mom and Daughter – 6 months oldOriginally uploaded by Koog Family.

“Six Month” studio portraits of me (left) and Emma (right), separated by approximately 33 years and 9 months (the difference in our ages. My father pointed out that this was also the exact age at which my grandmother had her first child [him]).

So far, Emma has my eyes, something of my upper cheeks, my hands and feet, and my quiet focus [she’s great at entertaning herself with toys].

The rest (dimples when she smiles, head shape, mouth shape, having less hair and earlier teeth) is all Paul…

Like me as a baby (and very unlike colicky baby Paul), Emma hardly ever cries. But unlike me, there’s more of a drama queen element going on here. When she does cry, watch out Рshe means it. The shrieks are short-lived, but shrill, and enormous tears well up immediately. These have to be wiped away, usually always after she’s calm and happy again, because she settles down again so quickly.

She shares a birthday with Napolean and a couple of German Kaisers. So far all indications are that she shares with her birth-date-fellows the desire and great ability to command attention. (While being MUCH cuter, of course!)

Sweet Aching Baby Love

Monday, March 27th, 2006

November 2005 – She’s about 3 months old here
Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

It’s true what people say. . . and what I knew when I was pregnant. . . That you just don’t know what to expect until that baby finally arrives.

Some friends of ours will be having a baby soon, and we (Emma too!) had dinner at their house a couple of weeks ago. The mother-to-be was eight months along when we were there – as pregnant as the day is long. But when I was talking about having a baby, she told me that she just doesn’t know what to expect. How will it be? It being life with a baby.

I remember that feeling. That months-long, sometimes happy, often anxious wondering. The not knowing.

It was a relief to finally know what it felt like to hold my little baby in my arms. By the end of the third trimester, it was a physical relief as well as an emotional one. And I’m now convinced that the labor and delivery process stirs up a cocktail of love hormones that carry you through a blissful high for about three days.

It’s on about that fourth day that you start to notice that you’re exhausted. And that this baby is crying a lot and needing attention almost more often that you can give it. But you wake up every time. You come groggily and willingly to her side because you have to. You have to for her, and you have to for you. There’s no other choice.

I’m very happy for our friends who will be having the baby soon. Part of me feels sorry for them, though. I know that they’re in for a very steep learning curve. If things go in their house like they did in ours, they won’t get a full night of uninterrupted sleep for months and months to come. And then there’s the not knowing. The not knowing yet how to give a bath. How to nurse. How to prepare a bottle, when it’s time for that. Is this normal? Is that normal?

We were addicted to baby books for at least the first four weeks straight. Actually, I can’t remember when we stopped reading the baby books. At some point, we found our confidence and the books fell away. And then the baby helped by eventually learning to hold up her head, which meant that she could be carried around the house sometimes in one arm, instead of always two. And later, just when we thought our hearts would break from the lack of reciprocity, she learned to smile at us and reward us for all our nurturing and mush. Then she learned to sit. And finally, to play with toys on her own while – get this – we can actually take care of something else for a few minutes. And she becomes more independent, in her still very dependent way, each day. We’re out of the woods now. I started feeling that way as soon as she was five months old, or earlier, but I feel more and more that way every day – that the hardest part of her tiny infancy stage is over.

And at our friends’ house, soon, together with all that joy and new-found love, there will be the tiny, high pitched cry. The literally sleepless nights. The rocking of the baby in the dead of night for hours. The looking at the watch and knowing that it’s 3:00 a.m., and you’ve already been rocking for two hours. The wondering when he’ll just fall asleep. Just sleep. The not knowing.

We’ve come a long way already on our parenting journey. And our friends will travel the same road. They’ll arrive in the same place we have. But they’re going to look and feel like they’ve been hit by a truck at least a few times before they get there.

And so I’ll do the only thing I can do. I’ll do the only thing that anyone can do. And people do it all the time. Now I know why. I’ll give them a baby gift, and keep them in my thoughts. Their sweet aching baby love will pull them through.

Late Night with Dr. Adler

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

Well! We had a big adventure here on Thursday. Miss Emma was looking very healthy for a while there, but things had taken a turn for the less robust after she finally finished her antibiotic-applesauce cocktails a few days ago.

During the day on Thursday, J., who takes care of Emma, called me at work to say that she was concerned about Emma’s coughing and breathing. And Emma just didn’t seem to be feeling well.

When I picked her up that night, she had a temperature of 101.4. She had watery eyes surrounded by pink, weary-looking lids. She had just, let’s say, “expectorated” on J., and looked like she would have told me, if she could talk, that the felt like she’d been hit by a truck. In the car on the way home, I called our pediatrician, after hours. Since Emma’s been sick for about 4 weeks! now and is so young, he agreed to see her at 8:30 the next morning. I gave her some Tylenol at home, and held her in my lap most of the evening and quietly sang little songs to her.

Oma came over for a little while, and was very worried about her little grandaughter.

I put her to bed at the usual time, and woke up a time or two to check on her or feed her when she fussed.

But when Paul took his turn to do a check in response to her fussing, what he found panicked him. He said that she was having a great deal of difficulty breathing: coughing, not breathing for three seconds, and then breathing quickly to “catch up.” Her breathing was labored, and her wheezing was worse than I had heard it before. This is kind of what J. had tried to describe to me on the phone. Paul was suddenly into “we’re taking care of this baby NOW” mode, and before I knew it, we’d run out the door, and were on our way to the ER room just a few blocks from our house. It was the only time we’ve ever not taken the time to clip Emma into her car seat. Instead, I just carried the little wheezing girl on my lap in the passenger seat.

That was at just after 1:00 a.m.

Emma got the full work up: a chest x-ray (disclaimer: the picture here is not her actual x-ray), some blood tests, nebulizer treatments, an IV, and several botched attempts at administering medicines orally to our clamp-jawed gal.

Is it wrong of me to feel some validation in the fact that even Nurse Stacey was unable to penetrate the fortress of my daughter’s decidedly anti-medicine mouth with the likes of a plastic syringe? I suppose I would take more comfort in her failure if it weren’t so clear that Stacey was not generally adept in treating the younger set.

At one point – and I have to credit her resourcfulness on this – she returned to the room with a bottle and some applejuice, as part of a ruse to disguise the bad-tasting stuff. Unfortunately, she had not properly secured the nipple-top to the bottle. This resulted, when the concoction was administered, in the flow of amber-colored juice all over Emma’s cheeks, chin, and neck. Nurse Stacey (who as a nurse, I suppose, takes some pride in her ability to ably comfort) was a bit mortified. We heard her recounting the episode in the hallway to any other nurses that had nothing better to listen to at 3:00 a.m.

The next couple of status checks were performed by Nurse Ben, whom we suspect Stacey recruited so as to avoid having to revisit the scene of her embarrassment.

After some other failed attempts (and gown changes), an executive decision was made to introduce the medicines by IV tube, which Ben inserted like a pro.

And Dr. Adler was the physician over seeing it all. A kindly guy. Late 30’s, maybe; wearing a wedding ring. I found myself wondering about what kind of people choose to work this late night shift – and whether the get paid any more for working at that hour. I also wondered if Dr. Adler had any kids of his own. Didn’t ask him though.

In fact, I started shutting down and missing my opportunity to ask a lot of things. Because we were in the ER for 5 (count ’em, five) hours. Yep. A real restful night. After that, I wanted to run a marathon. Oh, wait. I mean sleep for six days. But instead, on fumes, but not much sleep, I went off to work, and Paul kept the appointment with the Pediatrician, as coordinated between that Dr. and Dr. Adler at sometime around 5:00a.m.

Emma is doing better now. Just on a new course of steroids for a few days to help with breathing. And just fighting off this new round of bronchiolitis that she was lucky enough to catch.

And how does our Pediatrician know that it’s a new round? It’s music to him, that’s how. According to that doc, the wheezes she presented with a few weeks back were “musical,” while those she has now are “rough.” Who knew there different ways to describe audible breathing? I guess he did.

But still, despite some lost sleep and extra comforting duties of late, we’re sure she’ll pull through, and we feel so lucky about Emma’s health status generally. A coworker of mine has a daughter Emma’s age that was hospitalized last week with pneumonia. And Paul’s cousin recently had a premature baby, who is struggling with some health issues, not the least of which is that he weighs 4.5 pounds. I hadn’t realized how small that was until we visited the little guy in his incubator in a baby intensive care unit. He is expected to stay there for 4 – 6 weeks! That baby is so precious, and so tiny. We wish all the best to him and his family, and can’t wait for him to grow up to be big and strong so that he can cause mischief with Emma when the family gets together on holidays.

New Post Coming Soon . . .

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Steroids in the Oatmeal

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

Well, who knew that it would come to this. This morning, I fed my daughter steroid-laden oatmeal! And she ate it! Now that Emma’s been prescribed some antibiotics (pink fluid) for her ear infection and a steroid (syrup), for five days, to help with breathing and for the bronchitis, Paul and I are finding ourselves challenged to get these various strange-tasing things into her body. We’ve found that we can get a few drops at a time of the pink stuff in, by mouth, if we’re patient. But she has no tolerance for the steroid fluid. So I disguised it in a little of her oatmeal cereal today, and it worked like magic! Now if it were only this easy to give pills to cats . . .

Diagnosis: Dang!

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Dang! Emma has had a lingering cold since just after the New Year. Finally, today (on her third trip to the Doctor this month), she was diagnosed with Bronchitis and an Ear Infection! So now she will take two kinds of medicine, and we’ll continue to use the nebulizer treatment on her three times day, which helps her to breathe. I know – three trips to the Dr. sounds like a lot, but this baby has not been feeling well…

Other parents in Wisconsin tell me that these Winter months are the ‘sick months’ and that I should just get used to it. Just seems like a bummer for a five month old to have bronchitis! Anyway, at least she’s getting treated for it now, which should help her feel better soon.