Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daily Peep: Mmm, Hands!


Peeper's Panda Perspective

By special request, from Aunt LadyKay:

5 days

10 weeks, 6 days

13 weeks, 1 day (3 months)

15 weeks, 4 days

17 weeks, 4 days (4 Months)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Daily Peep: Four Months


Four Months

Dear Peeper:

You are four months old today.

I hope I get to finish typing this tonight, because you're sleeping right now, but you've had a rough couple of days and have been quite a little grumpus lately, and were awake almost hourly last night.

We're thinking it's probably just from the shots you got a couple of days ago, or possibly the dairy proteins clearing from your system (I hear that, for some reason, symptoms tend to get worse for a few days before they get better). I hope that's all it is.

But let's don't talk about that, let's talk about what you're up to when you're not being a poor baby.

Of course, your upcoming surgery is pretty all-consuming for us right now. We are terrified, and we can't stand the thought of you going through that, and we hate that it has to happen, and we wish we could just get it over with and have you already on the road to recovery.

It's funny, though, when someone asks "How's the baby?" invariably, our answer is "Great!"

Then we feel kind of stupid when we have to then go back and say, "Well, um, except that she's going to have open-heart surgery in a couple of weeks. Oh yeah, there's that."

But the thing is, you are great.

There's that one little thing we have to get taken care of, but that's just a thing. It's not you.

Having holes in your heart sucks.

Medications four times a day suck.

Doctors appointments and echocardiograms and surgery suck.

But you?

You are great.

You know, I often think that euphemisms and PC language and such are kind of silly, and I kind of rolled my eyes that one time, when the perinatoligist's genetic counselor made reference to "birth differences," but yeah, I kind of get it now, because I cringe a little inside whenever I hear - or use - the word "defect" to describe why you're having surgery.

There is not a damn thing "defective" about you.

You are perfect*.

(*With a couple of perfect - and, I've no doubt, adorable - little holes in your heart, which just need to be perfectly closed up so your perfect little lungs can breathe perfectly.)

So, all that said, what is four-month-old Peeper up to?

You are really starting to be more and more social, smiling and sort of laughing (just one "heh!" at a time) fairly predictably at a few favorite things.

And, of course, that smile completely melts me.

You often smile at strangers, which of course, just makes them gush over you that much more.

You're starting to notice the critters now, too. A few days ago you were checking out BoyCat and yesterday you smiled and laughed at BigGaloot.

I think you also laughed when he licked your hand, which is much better than when you used to cry when he licked you.

(We still try to avoid letting him lick your head, which is what he'd really prefer.)

I'm starting to feel less like I'm performing for myself when I play games with you, because you're becoming a much more responsive audience.

One of your favorites "Peekaboo" because, evidently, " 'dere she is!" is just the funniest joke you ever did hear.

You also enjoy "Guess What/Why/When/How/Where/Who?" - especially the part about your chin.

I think you might be starting to be a bit ticklish, and are starting to understand "Tickle Monster." I think I can alllmost see a look of recognition and anticipation in your eyes as the "monster" starts "comin' to get you."

Our newest game is the one where we inhale dramatically and blow a puff of air into your face. You startle and blinkblinkblink and smile/laugh over and over. You definitely "get" this one, and will startle after the inhalation, even if we delay the blow part. Because you're a genius.

You also enjoy looking at that really cute baby who lives in the bathroom mirror. You especially like fist-bumping her, and get a kick out the fact that her Mama always taps her on the nose/chin/cheeks at the same time I tap you.

(Does it freak you out that she seems to have your Mama in there with her?)

Speaking of bathroom games, you also like the sound of running water, and almost always smile at it.

(Okay, that was totally a euphamism. "Running water" = "Mama pee-peeing in the potty like a big girl.")

You are cooing more and more and gurgling now, as well, and are starting to blow bubbles and spit (especially while taking medicine).

You're drooling more and more every day, too. Sometimes you've got so much bubbly drool going on that it looks like you're foaming at the mouth.

(That, combined with your recent grumpiness, prompted me to explore your gums today, just to see if anything dental might going on there yet. Nope, not a thing.)

You continue to do great with your gross motor development, and the doctor agreed (or, at least, did not disagree) when I said that I thought you were actually a bit ahead there.

I'm glad, because I figure you'll lose some ground while you're recovering from surgery.

After saying, a few days ago, that you still have trouble "bringing your head with you" when lifted from supine to sitting, you're suddenly doing much better with that and, once, I think I almost caught you "leading" with your head a bit, holding it maybe a degree or two forward!

You enjoy sitting up and standing, and support your weight on you legs completely; a lot of times, we're only providing balance, not really holding you up at all.

Because you are so tiny, it's just incredibly cute when you stand up and I like to say that you look like "Cindy Lou Who" because, although "she could be no more than two" I seem to remember that she looked more like a baby than a toddler.

(Perhaps I misremember, but it's cute to call you that, so please don't disillusion me. And so what if I could probably reach the book from this very chair and look it up?)

You're making progress in the fine motor department, as well, and have finally gotten your thumbs and fingers into your mouth!

You still miss sometimes, and often gag yourself (we're very sorry for laughing at that) and you've yet to figure out a preference for any particular hand position or technique, but they are getting in there, and that's progress. Sometimes you even seem to prefer your own fingers to mine for chewing and sucking purposes, which is fine by me.

I am amazed at what loud sucking and smacking sounds you can make with your mouth and hands, especially when I'm holding you on my shoulder, and you're right by my ear.

Mommy says, "It's baby acoustics. Just like with the burps and farts."

Even when they're not in your mouth, your hands are exploring each other, and a couple of times, you've accidentally (?) grabbed a toy and held it for a few seconds.

(Other than last night) you sleep great. You've often been asleep for an hour or two before Mommy and I are ready for bed (around one or two am), and when we change your diaper and give you medicine before turning in, you either don't really wake up at all, or you nurse right back to sleep.

Then you sleep for usually 5 - 7 hours, get a clean diaper and maybe medicine, and nurse back to sleep for another hour or two.

If we've no where to be that morning, we usually lather, rinse, repeat until ten or even noon.

I realized yesterday that, because I'm not getting up to go to work, I actually get more sleep now than before you were born.

(I'm also awakened much less often in the middle of the night than I was during the last several weeks before you were born, when I was getting up to pee all the time.)

You still enjoy hanging out on your changing table, looking at your panda mobile, and the panda and rainbow bears, and all the books.

You also like lying in the middle of the bed, looking the light/fan and listening to Mama babble at you.

When you're grumpy or not feeling well, but not hungry, the most effective way to make you happy is to dance with you to the last five songs from kd lang's album Shadowland.

Your favorite is "Don't Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes", which we often have to play two or three times, before letting the rest of the CD play out.

Mommy really needs to get that on her iPod before your surgery, so we can play it for you in the hospital.

Oh yeah, there's that.

Sigh.

I wish you didn't have to go through it, and I'd do anything to make it so you didn't, but Mommy and I will be there with you the whole time, and although you're going to feel really yucky for a little while, once you're all better, you will be all better, and no more medicine, and way fewer doctor's visits, and you'll probably feel a lot better than you do now.

Let's hope this is the worst thing the three of us ever have to do together.

I love you, my little grumplette, and I hope you're feeling better soon.

Love,
Mama

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Daily Peep: Sleep

Happy Blogiversary (a little late!)

A few minutes ago, I bopped back to the beginning of the blog, looking for an old photo and thought, "Ah yes, I started blogging in February. . . Hey! It's February now! Oh no, I missed it!"

Well, it turns out that my first post (other than some old stuff transferred from a previous website) was on February 25, 2007 - so I only missed it by a day!

Not bad, says I!

On this occassion, I want to take a moment to take all both my readers, especially the handful of you who are "following" me. I feel so special!

When I started blogging, I had no idea how often I would actually manage to post, or for how long, but I figured I'd give it a shot.

I certainly never imagined two years worth of daily posts, or that I'd be mobile blogging from my hospital bed while in labor!

And, although I knew that we were hoping to start trying to conceive soon, I really never expected to go from just-some-generic-dyke-writing-about-whatever to TTC blogger to pregnancy blogger to, oh-dear-Lord, "Mommy Blogger" or, for just a veerrry short while, mah-poor-sick-baybee blogger.

It's amazing how much blogging has become a part of my mindset, to the point that as soon as anything interesting (or not) happens in my life, my first thought is often "I'm just gonna have to blog about that!"

I'm also surprised at what a great log of my day-to-day activities the blog has become. Anytime I wonder when something happened, or exactly what happened (within the past two years) I can just look it up!

And, of course, it's the easiest way for my friends and family to keep up with our daily doings, especially now that Peeper's here, and especially for those who are far away and don't get to see her very often.

Looking back through the blog is also great for reminding myself just how far we've come in the past couple of years, and for putting things in perspective, when I see exactly what I was thinking and feeling in the past.

Which brings me to thing I love most about blogging - it is incredibly therapeutic. To write about what I'm feeling, I have to first think through what I'm feeling and process it and sort it out and come to terms with it, at least on some level.

That's something that I wouldn't necessarily be doing a lot if I weren't trying to put it into words for the blog.

It seems very strange that writing for all the world to see has helped me to see myself more clearly but, oddly enough, it has.

So, although it's a day late, Happy Birthday to You, Oh Blog-O-Mine, and Many Happy Returns!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Daily Peep: Preppy Girl

This is one of the outfits that Anonymama bought for Peeper right after we found out that she was a girl. It was my favorite of the bunch, and I was so excited to realize that it now fits!

I'll try to get some less blurry photos of it when Shrike shows me how to turn on the flash on the fancier camera that we've just started using.


And, is it just me, or is this another one of those photos where Peeper looks like she's about half grown?

Four-Month "Well" Baby Check Up

(Firstly, please tell me that I'm not the only pet-owning new parent who struggles to remember to say "pediatrician" instead of "vet.")

And secondly . . .

Peeper saw the pediatrician today for her four-month check up.

She got to visit both her boyfriend at the registration desk and her buddies at the pharmacy.

(You know, I kind of like that she makes such an impression on people, but it's probably not a good sign that so many medical types recognize her and know her by name.)

The doctor said that she looks great, and was happy with everything we had to report about her developmental milestones.

I asked about the dairy thing and she said that it's pretty rare, but certainly a possibility, and that I should stay away from dairy until Peeper is six months old, then we can try adding it back and see how that goes.

Sigh.

We had kind of a wierd discussion about solid food. I'd been told that it would be on the agenda, bu the doctor didn't mention it, so I asked.

She said that she usually recommends cereal at three months, which surprised me, because everything I've read says four to six, and just a couple of weeks ago, one of their nurses referred to the cardiologist's mentioning it at three-and-a-half months as "weird."

Basically, she said that the sold food will have some vitamins that aren't as abundant in breast milk, but that it's fine to wait til six months, or start now we want. Whatever we prefer is fine with her.

I am loathe to mess with her diet until we know we've got this poop issue sorted out, and then we've got surgery right around the corner. I think we're going to hold off at least until we're past that, and then evaluate her readiness, based on her behavior and growth after she's all fixed up.

All in all, the appointment went well, other than the part about the shots. She got one oral vaccine, two vaccine injections, and her Synagis shot. She was not happy about them.

And we were not happy about her being unhappy.

If, after all the injections and heel sticks and even venous blood draws we've been through, I can still be in tears over a couple of sticks in her thigh, how the hell am I going to survive her having open-fucking-heart surgery?

(As I told her when she was crying, "You think you got it bad? She only put holes in your leg, she put holes in my baby!")

We had to hang around for fifteen minutes to make sure she didn't have any kind of reaction to the Synagis, and by that time, she was calmed down, nursing and about asleep, and the docs were on lunch break, so they let us stick around until she finished nursing.

By that point, she was zonked, and pretty much stayed asleep through a trip to the pharmacy (in the same building) and the ride home (other than being pissed about the carseat bucking / unbuckling, as usual).

I'm assuming that she's not feeling so great, because of the shots, because after a diaper change - followed by a outfit change, because of a mid-change pee incident - and some Tylenol, she nursed back to sleep, and other than waking up to fuss, get a diaper, and nurse a few times, she pretty much slept until well into the evening.

Then she was awake and fussy / whiney for an hour or so, until I finally had the good sense to give her more Tylenol, then she settled down, nursed went back to sleep.

I'm really wishing I'd thought of the Tylenol a little earlier, so she could have another dose before Shrike and I go to bed.

But, other than the post-shot grumpiness and, you know, that heart thing, she's fit as a fiddle.

She goes back for her last Synagis shot the week after surgery, and for her next check up a couple of days after she turns six months old.

And now, the tale of the tape:
(Current / Birth / Percentile / Adjusted Percentile)

Length: 22 1/4 " / 18" / 3rd / 10th
Weight: 9 lb 12.5 oz / 4 lb 12 oz (?) / < 3rd / 7th (?)
Head: 15" / 12" / < 3rd / 7th (?)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Butt, Of Course.

Peeper's bloody poop returned on Friday, and continued, off and on, through yesterday evening.


It's just a tiny amount, really, but any blood is too much when it's coming out of our baby.


When I first saw it, I called her pediatrician's on-call nurse, who said that unless there was a lot of blood (like a tablespoon - it's nowhere even close to that) to just give the office a call Saturday morning to see if a doctor wanted her to come in.

When I called, they said she could wait until Monday or Tuesday (with, again, that "unless there's a lot" caveat) but when I reminded them that she's scheduled for her four-month (!) check up on Wednesday, they said to just wait for that.

Through the day yesterday, though, it became obvious that it's hurting her to poop, although we're not sure if it's hurting in her guts, or in her butt or on her butt.

She suddenly starts crying, though, and there's always poop to be found. I suspect the diaper changing and butt-cleaning process itself might be hurting, too, because she's usually happiest on her changing table, but not right now.

And, a couple of times, when I knew she needed a change (when we got up this morning, and when we got home from some running around), although she wasn't crying at first, as soon as I started to put her down on the table, she started crying.

It was pretty awful to realize that, in just a day or two, she'd learned to associate what's usually one of her favorite past times with pain.

So, this morning, I called and left a message asking if there's anything we can do to ease the pain for her. We tried a little Tylenol last night but I don't know if made any difference.

In case the pain were more external, I asked if I could use some of the numbing spray that I was given in the hospital when she was born.

(I figured if it was allowed to go on my birthin' parts it should be okay for her poopin' parts, but certainly wasn't going to use it without their permission.)

Weeelll, when the nurse called back she said that "the doctor said absolutely don't use that stuff you have" (Well, then, don't I feel like a dumb ass, and an awful parent for even suggesting it. Can we just hit "undo" on that one?) "and that he thinks its likely a milk allergy."

Aw, crap.

What that actually means is a sensitivity to cow's milk proteins, which are in my milk because of the cow's milk products in my diet.

So, of course, the solution (or, really, the test, I suppose) is for me to cut out the dairy products from my diet.

She said that, for now, at least, I don't have to go all-out and read labels and eliminate everything that says "this product contains milk," but I do need to eliminate the "obvious dairy" products, ie milk and cheese.

Yep, cheese.

Have I mentioned that about 90% of my diet is cheese?

Hell, Peeper is made out of mac and cheese from my favorite convenience store!

(And a little bit of chocolate. Okay, a lot of chocolate.)

As luck would have it, we had pretty much no food in the house at the time, dairy or otherwise, so we went to the grocery store this evening and picked up some non-cheesey stuff for me to eat.

It's really quite a challenge, not just because I love cheese and I think that everything's better with a handful of shredded cheese on top, but also because I am supposed to be eating a high-protein diet, but it's very hard to actually cook much of anything these days, (And, by "cook" I mean "make warm in the microwave.") because even if Peeper's happy in her swing long enough for me to fix it (she usually is) she's likely to be back in my lap before I'm done eating, and I'm terrified of the possibility of dropping hot food on her!

So, I got some peanuts (we're hoping that's all taken care of by now!) and some lunchmeat (oh yeah, I'm allowed to eat that again) and some vegan "cheese" ("It Melts!") which I'm a little scared of, but it's worth a try.

I'm so torn between hoping this is what's given her the problem, because that means I have the power to fix it, and hoping that's not it because, well, because I'm an awful mother and a selfish bitch who loves her some cheese.

Of course, if this is the problem, most kids tend to outgrow the sensitivity as they get older, so it's not something that's going to be a problem for her forever and, at any rate, it's only going to be an issue for my diet as long as she's nursing. (Of course, that may be quite a while.)

I do feel kind of shitty about this because, back in early January, when she was having a lot of inconsolable crying episodes that we thought might be gas (Or she was upset, then the crying made her gassy; hard to know which.) one of the possibilities we considered was a dairy sensitivity.

Oh, did I mention that Shrike had a dairy sensitivity as a baby? They had to go through several different formulas before finding one that she could tolerate. It was the one that is, invariably, described by her parents as looking "like mud." Yummmmy!

So, when we got home from Texas, I cut out "obvious dairy" for two or three days, and Peeper's crying episodes pretty much stopped.

That seemed awful quick to have made a difference, though, (I'd read that it could take several days for the proteins to clear my system and then several more to clear Peepers, after she stops getting them in the milk.) and when I tried adding them back, she did not start the crying again, so I figured that wasn't the problem.

(Actually, I really suspect that it was more about being discombobulated and over-stimulated by the travelling and just generally undone by it all, and the gas was a side effect of the crying.)

Then, when this bloody poop thing started, I read about the dairy possibility again and even asked the doctor about it at her appointment last Saturday. She said that, unless I'd suddenly had a lot more dairy than usual, it wasn't likely.

(Um, I'm not sure how I could have "a lot more dairy than usual" but that was good to hear.)

But, sounds like whichever doctor the nurse talked to today does not agree.

So, this is something that we suspected before, and it's something that we could have suspected before she was even conceived, but I was soooo relieved that it didn't seem to be the case a few weeks ago, and continued to eat like cheese was going to be illegal next week.

So, I feel kind of shitty about that.

But, I think the worst part is, the one thing that I know I can do to make it all better when she's unhappy or hurting or just not right?

Nurse her.

And that's what's making her hurt.

I certainly didn't do it on purpose, but I feel like I've been poisoning her, because of something that I've done solely for my own pleasure.

(Yes, cheese brings me pleasure. You got a problem with that?)

So, while I know the dairy proteins are still in me, I feel so conflicted when she's crying and every fiber of my being is telling me to pick her up and nurse her and fix her, but I know that the milk she's getting is just going to make her hurt again later.

So, I feel particularly shitty about that.

But, if this is what's making her hurt, then it's completely within my control to fix it and make her feel better, and how often do you get to say that, right?

So, I'll do this no-dairy thing for a while and we'll see if she gets any happier about her poop, and see what her doctor says about it all on Wednesday.

Wish us all luck.

Daily Peep: Ears Lookin' at You, Kid

More of Peeper's parts!

Wow, we really need to clean her ears. Huh, who knew.

Heads Up!

Anonymama asked about Peeper holding her head up in the diaper photos and my reply got a little long, so I figured it merited its own post:

Oh yeah, she's got that head-control thing pretty much licked.

The only time she has any trouble with it is in a supine (is that right? on her back) position.

If we put her down on her tummy, she can push up and usually rolls over. We don't do that much, though, because it really pisses her off.

I figure she's read the sleep-safety manuals, and thinks we're trying to kill her.

She's also got it under control if we're carrying her around in a prone position ("flying") but we don't even attempt to carry her prone without her head supported.

She also has some trouble bringing her head with her when pulled up from supine to sitting (we do that a lot, to practice) but we noticed last night that she was doing much better with it, and a time or two, kept it pretty much in line with her body all the way up!

I've read that, eventually, she'll lean forward when lifted like that, and actually lead with her head, but she's got a ways to go on that one.

It seems that, according to this chart, her gross motor skills are, if anything, a bit advanced.

I'm especially glad to see this now that the surgery is a reality, because we're assuming that she's going to lose some developmental ground, or at least "tread water" while she's recovering, and I would think that the gross motor skills would be the area most likely to be affected.

In particular, I would expect her to lose a fair amount of "core muscle" strength from the chest incision itself, and from having to take it easy while it's healing.

It will be interesting to see what happens with her other recently-acquired skills, and whether they are affected by the down-time as well.

We plan to ask the surgeon about that, not so much because we're worried about it - we know she'll catch up - but just so we can know whether we ought to adjust our "milestone" expectations a bit more, in addition to the month that we're tacking on to everything, to make up for her prematurity.

I plan to give a full report on her skills and latest tricks when I write about her four-month checkup later this week, so stay tuned!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Focusing

I just sent the following email to my county Democratic Party:

Friends,
As some of you know, my daughter Peeper has a congenital heart defect (she was born with two small holes in her heart - atrial and ventricular septal defects) which we've been monitoring closely since it was diagnosed when she was a few days old.

Although many of these defects resolve on their own without any intervention, hers are not showing much sign of improvement, so they will have to be repaired surgically.

She is scheduled to have open-heart surgery at Nearby Medical Center on March 16 to close the holes.

We're told that this is the most common congenital heart defect, and that the surgery is quite "routine" (perhaps for the surgeon, but certainly not for Peeper or us!) and low-risk (about the same as an adult having their gall bladder removed).

That said, I'm sure that those of you who are parents remember what it's like to have a newborn, let alone one with Peeper's health concerns.

Knowing that we are also facing surgery and her subsequent recovery, it has become obvious that I need to get some things "off my plate," so that I can be a better mother for Peeper.

Therefore, effective immediately, I am taking a leave of absence from my duties and responsibilities as MyPartyJob, so that I can concentrate my time and energy (physical, mental and emotional) on Peeper and Shrike as our family faces this challenge.

This has not been an easy decision to make, but I have realized that I would be doing both my family and the party a disservice if I were to attempt to continue to "do everything," because I would be unable to do any of it very well.

I do not plan to permanently resign my position, but I need to take a break for at least a few months, and possibly through the end of this election cycle.

As Peeper recovers from her surgery, her heart condition is resolved and she gets a bit older, I plan to resume the duties and responsibilities of MyPartyJob but I hope that you will understand that my family must be my priority right now.

Thank you again for your understanding,
Whozat

Daily Peep: Diapers

DoulaK gave us a sample pack of four Bum Genius pocket diapers to test drive.

They are less bulky and possibly more absorbent than the prefolds and covers that we bought from LiPA, but also rather pricey.

I'm going to be helping her with a website for her doula services soon, and we're working out a deal for her to pay me in diapers and baby carriers, so that will help.

(I'd better get crackin' on it, though, because I'm already four diapers and two carriers, plus a loaner, in the hole!)

Still, given as often as we're changing her (seems like every ten minutes!) we'll probably stick with the prefolds for around the house during the day and save these for night or going out and about - if we dare.

At any rate, they sure are cute:


Friday, February 20, 2009

Daily Peep: Stripes and Stripes







Surgery

Peeper's been scheduled for surgery to correct her heart defects on Monday March 16.

We will meet with the surgeon on Thursday March 12 to learn more, and Peeper will have all her pre-op testing done at that time.

We'll get a lot more detailed information then, but here's what we know now:

The surgery will involve opening her chest, and then her heart, to repair both the atrial and ventricular septal defects. She will be on a heart-lung bypass machine to oxygenate and circulate her blood while her heart is stopped for the repair.

It's my understanding that the defects will be repaired by inserting patches of a mesh-like material (Dacron?) that will serve as a substrate for her own tissue to fill in the holes.

I think it will take about 4 -5 hours, start-to-finish (from kissing her goodbye until we can be with her again) with about an hour of that being the actual surgery itself.

After surgery, she'll spend a couple of days in the Pediatric ICU, and then move to the regular Pediatric Ward.

We expect that she'll be in the hospital for about four days, so hope that we'll be able to come home on Thursday March 19.

She'll have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon a week after she's discharged, and then will see her cardiologist two weeks after that.

We don't know yet how long to expect it to take for the holes to fully close and the pressure on her lungs to decrease enough to stop the medication.

We're told that a VSD is the most common congenital heart defect and, therefore, this surgery is quite routine.

(Maybe for the surgeon, but not for us and not for Peeper!)

We're also told that, while it sounds awful, the risk level is actually quite low - comparable to an adult having their gall bladder out.

Of course, even if we had a 100% guarantee of no complications or bumps in the road (and, given Peeper's history, we've almost come to expect "bumps" and scares along the way) we still hate the thought of her going through this.

But, given that the holes are not closing on their own, she needs the surgery to protect her lungs from possible damage, and at least it will resolve everything now, so that we can get on with the business of just learning to be a family, and she won't face surgery later, when she's old enough to anticipate or remember it.

Many friends and family members have already called or emailed to ask how they can support us during this trying time, and I can't tell you how much we appreciate that.

To be honest, we don't really know what we'll need the most, besides everyone's thoughts, prayers, mojo and such, but we will discuss it and let them know.

In the meantime, Peeper's scheduled for her four-month "well-baby" exam next week, so I'll be sure and let you know how that goes.

Thanks again for all your concern and support.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Daily Peep: Worn Out

Peeper was rather a butt-head at Drinking Liberally this evening, and after seeing that she wasn't even going to settle down to nurse out in the car, where it was nice and quiet and just the two of us, we left early.

When we got home, she did nurse (and poop - most likely her problem all along) but the revved back up.

I took this photo with my phone (veeerrry quietly) after I finally had her settled down and asleep.

We lay in bed for about thirty minute before she woke up again, but she nursed back down pretty easily that time.

Now she's sleeping and I just heard Shrike come in, so we'd better go see her.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Daily Peep: Oh Noooos!



Tickle-Monster comin' to gets Peeper!

What She Said

Amalah, one of my favorite "MommyBloggers" (Oh my God, is that what I am now?!) has a son who is two (really six) weeks older than Peeper.

And also, if her most recent post is any indication, mind-reading super powers:

A Post About Boobs. But You Know, the Lame Mommyblog Functional Sort of Boobs.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Worth a Try

I talked to Peeper's cardiologist today, about the discrepancy between Peeper's weight gain on his scale and on our pediatrician's scale.

He did seem glad to hear that Peep is growing faster than he'd thought but, unfortunately, it doesn't change his opinion about the surgery.

The more important "factors in the equation" are that the hole hasn't closed much and that the pressure differential between the two sides of her heart hasn't increased much, meaning that her lung are still being subjected to higher than ideal pressures.

The longer that continues, the more chances of irreversible damage to her lungs, so we probably need to go ahead and get it closed now, rather than waiting around for it to close on its own.

The surgical team will be reviewing her case on Thursday (he was confused about that before) and we should hear back about their recommendations "by the end of the week."

So, yeah. This is sounding more and more like a done deal.

If the surgery happens, it's likely to be within a month or so, and will be done at a big teaching hospital, about an hour from here.

(Not Children's Hospital of BigCity, where we went for metabolic testing.)

For those of you in-the-know, it's the same hospital where I had my gastric bypass surgery. For those semi-in-the-know, it's the big teaching hospital not far from CapitalCity, where you might expect to get yummy treats on your lunch tray. (wink wink)

(It remains to be seen what comes on a parent's guest tray, but I can guarantee there was nothing of the sort on a gastric bypass post-op lunch tray!)

I asked if we'd be better off to go to Children's Hospital, and Dr. C said that there's no one there that's any better for this surgery than the guy that he's referring us to and that "If my grandchild needed open-heart surgery, this is who I'd want to do it."

So, that's where it all stands.

Of course, we're hoping for some sort of reprieve.

Maybe the surgeon will say that it doesn't look that bad after all, and her lungs are in no danger, and we can watch it for a while longer.

Or maybe he'll ask for one more echo, and we'll be pleasantly surprised with big improvements.

Or maybe. . .

Oh hell, I can't even conjure up a third possible scenario of how we could avoid this.

We're pretty sure it's happening.

So, at this point, I think I'm just ready to find out for sure, and get out of this fucking limbo, sowe can get on with it and get it over with.

The sooner it happens, the sooner it's over, the sooner she's recovered, the sooner we can stop worrying about how it will go, the sooner she's off these fucking medicines that we have to torture her with four times a day, the sooner she can just get on with the business of being a baby, and stop spending so much God damned time being a patient.

But still, yeah, one of those reprieve things I mentioned earlier would sure be a lot better.

Daily Peep: Adorable

Why, yes, she is.

See?



I told you so.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fears Founded
(nothing actually scary, don't worry)

Remember back when Peeper "was a baby" (I really do find myself using that phrase when I think of her very early weeks! I am silly.) and I talked about bathing with her?

Well, we still do that every few days, and it's actually the only kind of bath she's ever had, other than just wiping her down (mostly her yucky neck) more or less on a daily basis.

I'm still the one who bathes with her, because Shrike's not big on tub baths anyway ("You're soaking in your own filth!") and is scared to bathe with Peeper because "What if she poops in there?"

I've always thought that she was kind of silly to be worried about that.

Not any more.

Peep usually seems to really enjoy being in the tub, but hates getting out. Last time, though, she started squawking when she got in, so we cut it short and got her out pretty quickly.

Tonight, the squawking began while I was bathing alone, before Shrike brought her in, and didn't stop when she got in.

We were kind of starting to worry that she might not like it anymore, for some reason.

So, we hurried up and got her hair and her neck scrubbed real well, and Shrike went to get the towels.

While we waited, I snugged her up, and offered her some goody, which she accepted and settled down a bit.

When Shrike got back, we decided to just go ahead and let her nurse for a while before getting her out and pissing her off.

Evidently, it relaxed her, because the next thing I new, I was feeling something up against the my leg that she was sitting on.

Something coming out of her butt.

"Oh," I said, "Please let that just be a toot!"

And I felt it again.

And again.

And then I saw it.

By that point, I figured what the hell, no point in leaping out of the water, it's already in there.

So, I let her finish nursing, all the while alternating between laughing about it and thinking EW EW EW!

When she was done, Shrike suggested that we spray her off with the shower before taking her out.

(After which I would take a shower. With soap.)

I figured she was going to hate that, but Shrike got the temperature and pressure adjusted just right, and started at her head, and she actually seemed to like it!

I stood her up and Shrike showered her all off.

I wish there were some way we could've gotten a photo of that, but I think we would've had to invite a friend in to help and, um, no.

At first, I thought we'd found the solution to the tub-exiting hysterics, because the shower seemed to bridge the gap between in-the-water and out-of-the-water, but as Shrike was snugging her up in the towel (and I was starting my real shower. with soap) the squawking began.

Oh well.

She did settle down once she was dressed, which occassionally doesn't happen, so it wasn't too bad.

I'm not quite sure how this experience might change our future bathtime plans, but it's possible that there might be more spraying of the baby involved.

And perhaps a swimmy diaper.

Daily Peep: Rattled

Bloodless Poo

Short version: Peep and her poop are all good.

Long version:
No more visible blood after about 6 pm on Friday, but that evening maybe it seemed that it hurt when she pooped, either when she actually went, or afterward until she was changed.

We took her in to the doctor yesterday, and she told us that the stool culture was clear so far (will have complete results tomorrow), and since she doesn't have fever, isn't lethargic or inconsolable or acting sick that it's most likely just a little anal fissure, which is absolutely inconsenquential.

Whew!

We also talked to the doctor about the cardiologist mentioning cereal and she said that they generally recommend starting somewhere between four and six months, depending on the individual baby's readiness, and that it's on the agenda to be discussed at her four-month appointment, which will be a couple of weeks from now.

She also said that she would definitely not want to make any changes to her diet right now, until we're sure the blood / poop is resolved, so as to not introduce any additional variables.

So, we'll discuss then.

As to the other stuff, I plan to call the cardiologist's office tomorrow and ask if they know whether the surgical team will be reviewing Peeper's chart this week or next.

I will also (diplomatically) let them know about her weight at the pediatrician's office.

When he was talking about the surgery, it sounded as though one of the factors he was basing it on was her slowing down her growth, and if that's not actually happening, they need to know it, before making a decision.

I certainly don't want them thinking "Well, it could wait if the kid were thriving, but . . . ." when she is.

So, wish me luck with that.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Daily Peep: Love Monkey

Dear Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins:

I'm sorry I haven't sent my valentines yet. I've been pretty busy with doctors lately.

I love you all very much, and I promise I will get them in the mail soon.

In the meantime, look how cute I am!

Love, Peeper



Out Takes

Sometimes the "bad" photos are more fun than the "good" ones.


Trying to get a cute smile and keep the "I love Mommy" sign propped up was a little challenging.


I suppose I could've gone a different route for expressing the sentiment, but that only would've solved half the problem.

What About Love: Celebrate Love

Celebrate Freedom to Marry week with The Other Mother's blog carnival.

February 10 - Something Old
February 11 - Something New
February 12 - Something Borrowed
February 13 - Something Blue
February 14 - Celebrate Love



Friday, February 13, 2009

What About Love: Something Blue

Celebrate Freedom to Marry week with The Other Mother's blog carnival.


February 10 - Something Old
February 11 - Something New
February 12 - Something Borrowed
February 13 - Something Blue
February 14 - Celebrate Love







Okay, now, back to bitching about our lack of rights.

This is not very romantic, but my "something blue" is Blue Cross - Shrike and Peeper's insurance company.

I say it's their insurance company and not ours because her employer won't allow her to put me on her policy.

(Blue Cross would be happy to cover me, but her employer won't.)

Instead, we are currently paying $370/month to continue my coverage from Learning Center and I'm going to take a $10/hour position with Learning Center Online solely because it comes with insurance.

More and more employers do offer domestic partner benefits, but it's still far from the norm.

I'm sure that in most cases, it comes down to a purely financial decision, but it seems to me that discrimination is a pretty chicken-shit way to save a buck.

Daily Peep: Panda Pic - 15 Weeks, 4 Days


She's Legal

Hmm, well, it seems that just as I was pissing and moaning about Peeper having no birth certificate, it was being issued.


We received it in the mail today!

I was really surprised how little information is on it - Just date of birth, county of birth, name, sex and our names. And the dates it was filed (2/10) and issued (2/11). That's it.

*Our* birth certificates have a *ton* of information on them. Parent's ages, address, occupation, number of previous live births, singleton/twin/etc, all kinds of stuff.

That's wierd.

I'm curious about one thing.


It lists us both as "Parent." I'm wondering if they did ours special, or they're all like that.


I've asked LawyerFriend to let me know, when they get their son's birth certificate, if they're listed the same way, or as "Mother" and "Father."


And, speaking of - thanks again for all your help with the pre-birth order.

Beyond the practical reasons that we're glad to have it in hand, I can't describe how much it meant to open that up and see both our names on it.

We have several legal documents to protect our relationship, but this is the only piece of paper in existance that actually says we are officially, legally, in the eyes of the government, a family.

And that feels pretty damn good.

It's Always Something

As I mentioned yesterday, Peeper had a weight check at the pediatrician's office today, either for reassurance or to discuss what might be going on, if she really had slowed her growth as much as the cardiologist's scale indicated.

So, they weighed her at 9 lb 8 oz (!) which is up 11 oz in 2 weeks.

(And double her revised/estimated birth-weight of 4 lb 12oz!)

5 weeks ago, we also had back-to-back weigh-ins.

To compare:
Cardio: + 1 lb in 5 weeks (8 lb to 9 lb)
Peds: + 1 lb 12 oz in the SAME 5 weeks (7 lb 12 oz to 9 lb 8 oz)

Yeah, I don't believe their scale now at all.

So, that's all good.

Not only is the pediatrician okay with her growth, he is "impressed" with it.

(Go Mama! Go Mama's goodies!)

BUT. . .

You know Peeper.

It's always something with this kid.

When we took off her diaper for the weigh-in, it had (of course) poop in it - but also BLOOOOD!

She's been irritated the past couple of days, but I inspected and there's no where external that looks like it could be bleeding.

Also, it was all mixed in with the poop. Obviously it came out with it. Bright red (Which, I know, is good. Well, less bad.)

So, needless to say, the nurse showed a doctor the diaper, as well as the weight.

He confirmed that it was blood, and ordered a stool culture (she pooped again, while nursing in the car, and we took that in to the lab for the culture) and she has an appointment with a doctor tomorrow at 11:30.

They should have preliminary culture results then.

In the meantime, we're to put vaseline on her little poopy-hole, in hopes that it's just a little fissure and that will help to fix it.

Dr. Google tells me 80%+ babies have at least one anal fissure by 1 year, usually no treatment needed, just frequent diaper changes.

(?! We probably change her hourly, except overnight).

Or, maybe something else, which would show up on culture.

Or, possibly something that wouldn't show up?

So. . .

If it's not one thing, it's another.

Either she's going to get her heart cut open, or there's blood coming out of her ass.

More news as we have it. . . .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What About Love: Something Borrowed

Celebrate Freedom to Marry week with The Other Mother's blog carnival.

February 10 - Something Old
February 11 - Something New
February 12 - Something Borrowed
February 13 - Something Blue
February 14 - Celebrate Love



First, apropos of not much, in honor of the eleventh anniversary of the day that Shrike and I met in "real-life," here's a photo of us from that weekend.

(This is the photo that was blurrily visible in a recent photo of me and Peeper.)

Shrike was 28, I was 29.

We had a lot of hair. Even more than at the wedding.



For the other topics, it's been pretty easy to think of something to write about, but all week, I've been stumped on this one.

Now I've got it. It's completely unrelated to the issue of marriage equality, but that's okay, because it's important for me to say it.

I don't believe in much in the supernatural, but there are times - and we've had many of them lately - when it's awful comforting to have friends who do.

You may have noticed that never ask for "your prayers" but rather, something along the lines of "your thoughts, prayers, good vibes, positive energy, mojo, etc."

That's because I'll take whatever you've got to offer, and I believe that all those things are equally effective.

I don't know just how effective that is, but equally so, I'm sure.

And, when I make a request like I did earlier today, and the comments and the emails start coming back, the variety of ways in which people phrase it always amazes me:

You are in our thoughts
I'm praying for you
I'm sending healing energy
We are with you in spirit
Here's a dose of mojo
and even the actual words of the prayer offered
I really don't know if, or how much, all this has actually made a difference for Peeper, or actually made a difference in the outcomes of her various health concerns, but I do know how helpful it's been for me to know that there are so many people out there wishing her - and us - the best.

So, thank you to all our friends for letting us borrow your faith, or your energy, or whatever it is.

Daily Peep: By Special Request

Peeper, with ears.

For HerLovelyAunt.






Of course, for every one of those shots, there were two of these.



And anytime you try to make a three-month-old sit up, you gotta expect a few of these.

Cardio Update

Before I get to the real news: Our power came back on around 9 am, right before we left for the appointment, but when we got home around 2 pm, they still had roads closed, repairing downed wires just up from us on the big road that we live about a block off of. It seems a fallen tree was involved, as well.

Now, to the important stuff: Peeper had another echocardiogram today, and it did not go as well as we had hoped.

The atrial septal defect (ASD - the one that's less of a concern) is smaller than it's been, and the ventricular septal defect (VSD - the one that we are worried about) is a bit smaller than last time, but is not changing as quickly as the cardiologist would like to see.

The pressure gradient between her lungs and left ventricle has also increased (which we want) but also not as much as he'd like to see, and not enough to say that her lungs are no longer in danger of sustaining long-term damage from the high pressure (if it's allowed to continue).

So, he will be sending her chart and a tape of her echo off to the surgeon to review.

Actually, it will be a team of surgeons and pediatric cardiologists, about a dozen in all, who weigh in on what to do.

It's possible that they will want to watch it a bit longer and see if it improves enough on its own, but it sounds more likely that she will be having open-heart surgery to correct both defects, probably in about a month.

The surgical team reviews cases on Tuesdays, but he didn't know if they'll get to her next week or the following week. He should be able to find out and let us know, though.

If they recommend surgery, we'll then meet with the surgeon to discuss the details, set a date, and such, and Peeper would probably have her pre-op bloodwork and be checked out by the anestheiologist, all at the same time.

The other concerning thing from today's appointment is that he didn't seem as happy as usual with her weight gain, but I am a bit suspicious of the measurement.

In the past, we've had back-to-back appointments with him and the pediatrician that have shown quite different weight gains, so I never really trust his scale.

Today, it showed that she had gained only about seven ounces over twenty-two days, whereas two weeks ago, the pediatrician's scale showed a seventeen ounce gain in the same length of time.

So, either the scale is funky, or she has really slowed down her growth dramatically in the past couple of weeks.

During that time, she certainly seems bigger, and other than sleeping longer between meals during the night, her nursing behavior doesn't seem to have changed significantly, so I'm a> mostly suspicious but also b> a little concerned.

Typically, the first words out of his mouth when he comes in the exam room are "Looks like she's growing!" but today they were, "Has she started on any cereal yet? Have they (our pediatricians) said anything about it? Maybe its time to start talking about it."

What the fuck? She's fifteen weeks old. (Eleven, really!)

So, on the way home I called and got her an appointment for a weight check at the pediatrician's office, where we will either be reassured or will discuss why she's slowed down and what to do about it.

In other news, Peeper will be going out to dinner with us on Sunday, I will train with Learning Center Online before surgery, but not start until after, and so the bottle issue seems to be on hold for the moment.

It's hard to be too glad about that, given the reason, though.

So, we wait to hear back from the surgeon in a week or two, and have an appointment scheduled with the cardiologist in three weeks - unless we're starting to prepre for surgery by then.

And, once again, I will ask that you keep us all in your thoughts and prayers, and send us whatever good vibes, positive energy and no-surgery-mojo that you've got available.

Mobile Post

Hmmm. Power out. Windy as all fuck out there. (Was forecast)
Cardio appt @ 11 w/echo. Will report. PS I'm bored.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Daily Peep: Two Sleepy Girls


What About Love: Something New

Celebrate Freedom to Marry week with The Other Mother's blog carnival.


February 10 - Something Old
February 11 - Something New
February 12 - Something Borrowed
February 13 - Something Blue
February 14 - Celebrate Love





Of course, the first "new" thing about our relationship that comes to mind is Peeper.

Peeper is fifteen weeks and two days old but she (rather like her parents' marriage) still does not officially exist, according to the government.

That is, her birth certificate has yet to be issued.

A few weeks ago, I called our county courthouse to ask if they'd received it, and they referred me to someone with the BlueState Department of Health's Office of Vital Records.

At first, she had no idea why we wouldn't have a birth certificate for our three-month old, but then I started explaining the circumstances.

"What's the last name again? Oh yes, I remember you. You need to call . . . . "

So, I made another call, "What's the name? Oh yes, I have your file on my desk. We were wondering about that."

Um, so, were you going to call someone to ask about it, or just sit there and ponder on it 'til she needs the damn thing to start kindergarten?

(Actually, she needs the damn thing now, to get a Social Security number, so we can file our taxes, so we can get our tax refund, so we can pay our damn mortgage for a couple of months!

Not to mention that Shrike's insurance company would very much like that number, as well, since they've already paid several thousand dollars of benefits for her.)

But, I digress.

This woman told me that LawyerFriend needed to call their legal department, yada yada yada.

A week or so later, after the legal lady had not returned his calls, I finally got her on the phone, and explained, and then she knew what to do, and then she sent him a form that we had to fill out: Supplemental Report of Assisted Conception.

This is basically the form that's used for a surrogacy, to show who the "intended parents" are, if they are not the person who birthed the child.

(Nevermind that one of her intended parents did birth her.)

It came with instructions to fill out my information for the "intended mother" and Shrike's for the "intended father."

(So, when we finally get the damn certificate, is she going to be listed as Peeper's father? And how screwy is that going to be for the rest of her life?)

If we were married (and, therefore, the state had a concept of two women creating a family together) we could have just put both our name on that first form that we completed at the hospital and been done with it.

We wouldn't have had to go to court to ask permission to both be legally considered our child's parents.

We would not have had to ask permission for Shrike to be legally considered the mother of a child who shares half her genes.

But way beyond the legal issues surrounding her birth, Peeper deserves for her parents to be married.

She deserves for her Mama to get health insurance through Mommy's employer (more on this later in the week).

She deserves to be protected by our state's divorce and custody laws should, God forbid, we break up. (Which we have no plans to do.)

She deserves for her surviving parent to receive social security benefits should, God forbid, one of us die. (We have no plans of doing that, either. But one never does.)

She deserves for her family to have the same recognition and the same rights as any other kid's family.

She deserves equality.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What About Love: Something Old

Celebrate Freedom to Marry Week with The Other Mother's blog carnival.

February 10 - Something Old
February 11 - Something New
February 12 - Something Borrowed
February 13 - Something Blue
February 14 - Celebrate Love



Something Old

In honor of our eighth wedding anniversary I thought I'd share some old photos of us, from our commitment ceremony on February 10, 2001.

(Wow, we sure both had a lot more hair then, and I had a lot more, um, everything.)

The photos are nice and all, but I don't think they even come close to showing how I felt that day, how happy I was to be marrying Shrike and, yet, how terrified I was about the huge step we were taking.

A couple of mornings later, I woke up, almost panicking, thinking "Oh my God, what have I done?!" as I realized that this was forever.

Legally, of course, we had done nothing, and had we changed our minds it would have been no more complicated to extricate ourselves from the relationship than before the ceremony.

To us, it was a wedding, and it was forever and it was as real as it could possibly be and we are as married as we could possibly be, in our hearts and in our heads and in everything that we do and how we conduct our lives.

To our friends and family who celebrated it with us (whether in person or from afar), it was wedding, and they see us and treat us as they would any other married couple.

To the minister who performed the ceremony and the church where it was held, it was a wedding, and they asked their God's blessings upon our love.

But to the government of our state and our nation, it was nothing.

Meaningless.

Just a party with some pretty clothes and a nice cake and some thoughtful gifts.

To the government of our state and our nation, we are nothing to each other. We have none of the 1000+ rights and privileges that come with marriage.

We've got a folder full of documents to protect ourselves in case of Something Bad Happening to one of us.

We've gone to court - twice - to ask permission share our name, and to share our child.

Yet, we are strangers, in the eyes of the law.

And that is just wrong.

A poll taken in September showed that more than 70% of BlueStaters support some legal recognition of same-sex couples, whether civil unions or full marriage rights.

There have been similar poll numbers around the country, so why hasn't it happened yet?

And why - how - did Proposition 8 pass in California, of all places?

Mostly, I think, because those who oppose our relationships are a lot better organized, better funded and evidently, more motivated than we are.

And that, too, is just wrong.

Perhaps we're too busy just living our lives, loving our partners and raising our children to have the time or energy to fight to protect them, but we must.

We should not have to, and one day we won't, but until that day comes, we must.