No touching!

Yeah. So THAT happened.

The follow-up appointment was not good; her healing progress combined with the debacle of trying to restrain her for x-rays last week led the doctor to decide that she really DOES have a small hairline fracture. So into a cast she goes. I actually don’t know how long this is going to last. We went straight to the “plastering room” (the Brits do have a way with words) for a cast and the follow-up with the “fracture clinic” is on Thursday. Anyone want to take bets? I have 2-3 weeks. I hope I’ve overshot. Fortunately the cast is flexible at the knee and she is welcome to crawl on it. It’s ugly, but she can do it.

In true Maggie fashion, getting the cast ON was a spectacle. They heard her screaming throughout the fracture clinic and the ER. It took four adults, including me, to keep her steady enough to get the cast on. The original plan to have a purple cast with pink stripes flew by the wayside when it became clear that the purple wrap wouldn’t dry nearly fast enough to accommodate the writhing monster on the table. For the record, if you get purple plaster dye on your arm when it’s wet and don’t notice until later, all your arm hair is coming off. A little PSA from me to you.

After that we moved on to traditional white quick-drying plaster. Even with the extra hands (“She’s…quite strong, isn’t she?”) they only had time to reinforce the injured areas and left the rest gauzy and soft with a flexible outer covering. Her foot is rigid and her shin is reinforced, but there are flexible spots so she can still move around a bit. And as you can see, having a white cast and a toddler is not such a bad thing. Just add markers and it’s fun for all!

One thing that embarrassed me a little at the time but now thrills me to pieces was Maggie’s outspokenness at the clinic. Maggie doesn’t like strangers, she especially doesn’t like them in her personal space, and she has no problem letting anyone know about it. One thing she’s going to need to learn is context: sometimes wellness professionals will need to enter your space to set you on the road to healing. It’s just part of life. But since she hasn’t quite learned that yet, she told off the three casting techs today in a volume and tone that could have shattered crystal: “I don’t like that. You don’t touch me.”

I don’t like that. You don’t touch me.

Now, much like y’all, I was raised to be deferential to adults. So having my pint-size monkey tell three grown-ups (who were just trying to HELP, for God’s sake) where they could step off was slightly mortifying. I repeated my mantra: validating that she hated them there but that she needed to let them help her get well and that I would be there the entire time. We got through it.

I thought about it more on the way home: what she said was really kind of incredible. Maggie knows her boundaries. She knows what she’s comfortable with and what she isn’t. And probably most amazing for a child who, like most toddlers her age, has been carried along on the whims of adults for her entire life, she had no problem–or hesitation–telling an authority figure that she was not okay with what they were doing and that it needed to stop. She spoke with command, confidence, and unmistakable clarity.

Context will come in time. Like every person who’s ever walked the earth, she’ll understand that into every life a little “unpleasant but necessary” will fall. But that lesson is easy to learn. Knowing who you are, what you want, and what you will not tolerate when it comes to people in your sacred space? THAT’S the hard lesson. So…I’m not going to correct her. I’ll work with her to teach her context. But if someone gets up on her body in a way she’s not okay with, I’m not ever going to tell her she’s wrong to be honest about voicing her feelings in a direct way.

My little girl is gonna be just fine, I think. In every possible way. :)

 

 

Bouncing Babies

We’re in Day 3 of post-fall recovery over here and Maggie’s quite obviously unwell. She’s napping in the afternoons, which she had given up, and her appetite is zip except for some bland foods in small quantities. The whole mess was such a serious shock to her little system so it’s not surprising. She’s nowhere near being able to walk but she can bear weight on her knee and hip well enough to scoot around and crawl. I got the appointment date wrong so we’ll find out more on Tuesday. The lack of walking mobility is hard for her and she’s been extra clingy the last few days: needing me to lie down with her to help her sleep, a nightmare or two at nap time, and major anxiety if she doesn’t know where I am (odd, since it was my swollen pregnant ass that literally put her in this position). Her blankie and favorite baby doll have played a major role in recovering–she needs them like never before. All pretty much par for the course. The best treatment I’ve found is to give her a nice bubble bath and to gently rub down the sore leg with coconut oil–I wish we had arnica but I can’t find any.

Ideally the next step in her recovery after getting her ankle healed would be chiropractic care to make sure her spine and hips are realigned properly. Given her exceptionally hostile response to the medical staff in the ER, chiropractic care seems like a long shot. However, MY back and hips could definitely use the care as well so I think if she goes to a few appointments with me, sees how it all works and that I’m enjoying myself, and gets used to the chiropractor’s face like she has with my midwives she juuuuuuust may allow one to adjust her. As for the rest of me…I’m slowly forgiving myself. I wasn’t rushing down the stairs, I was holding the railing, basically doing everything right. It is what it is: just a freak accident.

**********

In happier news, I put in an order for my homebirth supplies. Our midwives bring their own supplies*; this is just for things like a big plastic shower cap to go over the mattress and a surplus of disposable underwear. As I informed a friend of mine who is pregnant with her first and about 7-8 weeks behind me: when it comes to labor/recovery/babies in general, you cannot have too many absorbent things around. The next step is hitting the thrift shops around here for cheap surplus towels. I’m thinking the Ralph Lauren Polo towels I got as a high school graduation present will also be used–they’ve definitely seen better days so I don’t mind them being stained, but who wouldn’t love a such a posh entry into the world? Other parts of our birth prep: ordering premium Kona coffee in case of a birth in the wee hours and determining which bottle of champagne we should have handy to celebrate. With Maggie it was Veuve Cliquot; stick with tradition or try something new? Ah, the things that weigh on my mind.

*Here’s a story for you: the supply kits my midwives order contain episiotomy scissors even though they adamantly refuse to use them (THANKFULLY). One of them said we could have our scissors after the birth because “They’re great in the garden or for trimming meat.” Disturbed as I am by the term “trimming meat” when used in conjunction with episiotomy scissors, I simply cannot wait to bring an air of surgical precision to cutting the fat off my steaks.

Wipeout

Today’s dispatch comes to you from my couch after a long day at the ER with Maggie. I’ll ruin the suspense and tell you up front that the three of us (me, Maggie, and 2.0) are okay but in varying degrees of discomfort. Baby 2 fared best with absolutely no discernible injury and has been merrily thocking me in the ribs all day long. So here’s what happened and here’s why you should never show motivation, EVER.

In the spirit of preparedness, Maggie and I have been “playing school” for the last few weeks. This is an attempt to work in educational activities so when we start using formal homeschooling curricula when Maggie is older, we already have an established rhythm to our day that allows me to slip it in without her noticing. As far as she’s concerned, it’s ALL fun and fingerpaints and playing with special blocks and puzzles. It’s a good time and we both enjoy it quite a bit. And in establishing this rhythm for our days, I’ve been working on our weekly rhythms which include Field Trip Wednesdays.

This is all by way of telling you why I was wearing socks.

I hate socks. Hate shoes. But you need both for scrambling over boulders at Brimham Rocks and so was I thus clad in nice thick hiking socks for our outing today. And while carrying Maggie down our hall stairs, because sometimes it is just easier to pick up a toddler and move them to where you want them to be, those thick hiking socks met the slippery fibers of our high-traffic-area semi-industrial carpeting and whoosh! Out from under me came my feet.

It’s terrifying when you slip holding your child. Terrifying. Doubly so when you are on an incline like stairs. Add in pregnancy on top of all that? Most agonizing few seconds of your entire life. I fell backwards and Maggie fell forwards with her head ending up by my knees and I LANDED on her left leg and against the stairs. Then we slid as I tried desperately to get her out from under me and into my lap. If I broke an ankle or whatever at the bottom of the stairs, so be it, but the only two thoughts in my head were “Get Maggie UP” and “Oh God. The baby. The baby.”

And we kept sliding.

Fortunately a preliminary check showed that Maggie seemed unbroken–no swelling, no bruising–and as we fell I got ahold of her arms which kept her upper body, head and neck from crashing against the stairs. I brought her into the living room to comfort her and then I realized–she couldn’t stand up. Couldn’t bear any weight on her left leg at all. Shit. So off to the ER we went.

Now, here’s some highlights from bringing a child with extreme stranger phobia and control issues to the emergency room:

  1. Doctors kicked in the face: 1
  2. Nurses informed “Do not come back in the room”: 1
  3. Sets of X-rays required because of baby-panic: 2
  4. Number of technicians required to restrain child for X-rays: 3
  5. Number of mothers who, due to pregnancy, had to hide in the lead-paneled X-ray control room and couldn’t help: 1
  6. Number of scratch marks left on technician’s face: 2

Number of mothers who were mortified because really, the kid is not THAT HURT if she’s just chilling on the gurney playing with Duplos and perusing Thomas the Tank Engine in between examinations: 1. Unless you saw her try to stand up you’d never know she was hurt.

I did discover something interesting about Maggie: she might be on the table being examined for fractures and other injuries to her leg, but if her personal safety feels threatened she will kick you with that self-same leg and the pain it may cause her be damned. Anyway, she’s not fractured in any way but she did twist up her ankle, knee, and hip–they seem to be equally affected–and she’s going to have to stay off it for a few days with a re-exam on Friday. My back is a sheet of fire but 2.0 is thumping away with no bleeding, spotting, or suspicious amniotic leaks to report so overall? We were LUCKY. SO LUCKY.

But I still have to figure out how to keep a toddler immobilized for the next 48 hours without trying to walk on her bad leg. After a few hours of that this afternoon Maggie decided not walking was bullshit and got really, really frustrated. I feel terrible for her because she’s two! Of COURSE she wants to get up and move. She doesn’t want me to deliver puzzles and books to her comfy chair; she wants to Do It Herself. It’s a trait I totally admire but in this specific instance I wish she was slightly more co-dependent and lazy so we can get through the next 48 hours.

Wish us luck while Maggie heals up. It’s going to be a long few days of trying to entertain her unless she figures out how to use a Tiny Tim crutch.

And let this be a lesson to you: slow down. Don’t overstuff your day. And don’t wear socks.

Twenty Eight

Because it is my goal to make sure that the readers of this site (all three of you) are REALLY, REALLY AWARE of the possible side effects before you procreate, anyone who tells you that pregnancy is a nine-month endeavor is mistaken. 40 weeks shakes out closer to ten months, kids, and don’t let them tell you differently. You’ll need that extra month to remind your husband why he should make you cookies (which Tom happened to do this evening, entirely without prompting. I do love that man). But even with cookies, you’re going to be pregnant for about a month longer than you might have been told when you were a tender youth learning about the biological processes that put Mr. Stork out of a job.

Like Carmela Soprano, you can’t say you weren’t warned.

Today was the start of my 28th week of pregnancy, or what I consider to be the start of my seventh month. Like clockwork, I woke up with the numb hips and shooting thigh pain that came to characterize my third trimester with Maggie. I’ve used all manner of body pillows and sleeping positions and y’all, it is what it is and there’s no way around it. The third trimester is, by design, just uncomfortable. It’s supposed to be; otherwise how would we get to the point where we’re EXCITED to have an 8lb ham-loaf come rocketing out of our nethers? Let me tell you: it took a mere five hours from start to stitches to deliver Maggie, who weighed in at a hearty 8lbs 3oz with a head that measured in the 90th percentile. Recovering from that was still better than my third trimester because a) I could sleep on my back or belly if I chose, b) I could eat without fear of reflux or without interference from fetal feet, and c) it cannot be said enough: I COULD SLEEP ON MY BACK OR BELLY. Options, sweet options!

But I digress. Lower body numbness is just how my mornings are going to begin for the next twelve or so weeks. The best way to ease my legs back into the land of the living is to eat breakfast sitting on a large exercise ball so I can stretch and work the muscles gently as I wake up. The second part is to take a nice walk and keep mobile. Easy enough when you have a toddler who, much like a terrier, needs to be walked and exercised routinely or her constant motion and yapping will snap the ever-thinning cord of your patience.

I complain (oh, how I do complain) but the truth is that beside the horrific nausea of my first 20-odd weeks, I have easy pregnancies. Everything I experienced in the third trimester with Maggie was more or less par for the course and it appears to be going the same way this time. To be a healthy, fully-functional engine growing a life is a pretty cool thing–it was certainly awesome in Portugal, where I could (mostly) hold my own against the hills, provided Tom did the heavy toddler lifting (I do so love that man). Essentially I’m just at the point where my thoughts run from “Ughhh, twelve more weeks…” to “We’re going to have a baby in twelve weeks, OMGWTFBBQ?!?!” It’s exciting. Hip-numbing, but exciting.

That hip belt is not flattering.

 

I can do this. I’ve got this. Just twelve weeks left.

No, thank YOU

Today Maggie was in a rotten mood. I don’t know if she slept badly last night or just wasn’t feeling well, but she woke up swinging and striking. We went to Brimham Rocks, which is a fantastic place to go if you have kids and both hands free–lots of boulders to scrabble around on, lots of steep dropoffs. She allowed me to corral her away from various high edges but grew so irate when I purchased our ice cream in a CUP instead of a cone that she tried to knock it to the ground rather than let me eat it. Our usual gentle bedtime was a joke, though she was asleep within five minutes of being put in bed–she didn’t even have time to get out from under the covers.

In the middle of it all was this:

At one point this afternoon she got startled by noise when I was looking at my computer–loud autoplay videos on websites should be banned–and leapt up into my lap. She buried her head in my shoulder and put her arms around my neck. I hugged her and quietly rubbed her back for a few minutes without saying anything. Finally she sat up, gave me a kiss, and said “Thank you.”

I’m pretty sure I needed the hug more. Thank YOU, little girl.

Traveling With a Toddler: Care and Feeding

White rice and shrimp. She ate the rice.

When it comes to Maggie’s diet we are fairly strict–no HFCS or artificial dyes, as free of preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients as we can get, and as much fresh and local produce and proteins as possible. We vary it up with lots of spices and fun recipes to help develop her palette and I thank all the available deities that Maggie is so free of food allergies and sensitivities that I suspect she could manage to digest rebar without trouble. That said, I will share with you my number one rule when it comes to travel, toddlers, and mealtimes:

Stop caring.

Though Maggie does eat a fairly incredible range of things at home, when she’s on the road her system gets a little unsettled and she prefers familiar comfort food favorites. What she will and won’t eat becomes completely unpredictable. Portugal was no exception. So if she wants to eat plain white rice for the third dinner in a row? Cool! I don’t care! If she wants to fill herself with watermelon for breakfast and nothing else? It’s a fruit! Cool! I don’t care! Say it with me! I DON’T CARE!! FEEL THE LIBERATION ROLLING OFF YOUR TONGUE.

One meal was surprisingly successful. Maggie tucked into cod croquettes, a plate of presunto ham, and tried to suck the head of the shrimp after I peeled it. Presunto is similar in taste and texture to prosciutto, which Maggie calls “special ham” and is a favorite of hers, but trying to suck the brain matter of something with intact eyes was a new one. And then there was her attempt at trying tapenade:

A little taste here...

...and a bigger taste there...

 

...and she likes it! Hey Mikey!

 

As you can see, it’s worthwhile to offer new things here and there but this was the exception to the rule. Our usual strategy was to order her something small and get entrees she might like to share. If that didn’t work, well…we had leftover croissants from the breakfast buffet. Go carbs! I don’t care! I can’t tell you how many times her meals in Portugal contained caprese salad:

 

Represents a few food groups? Check. Healthy toddler-brain-boosting fat? Check. Olive oil and seasonings? Check. That’s a damn fine meal, right there. Who cares if she ate it at four different restaurants? The Portuguese have themselves some fantastic olive oil–just throw some bread on the side to help her get all of it down!

Traveling with a toddler is so rewarding and fun, but there’s a lot of potential for stress. Their little systems are so easily whacked out by change that you have to keep to a much stricter routine than you might maintain for yourself. This is also not the first time where I have taken up more space packing individual bags of her favorite familiar snacks from home than I have with fresh garments for myself. You too can have a fantastic trip, relaxed and full of wonder, if you simply remember the magic words:

I don’t care.

 

Stay cool, homies.

Keyed Up

Portugal was amazing and fantastic, and I will write what I hope to be the first of many posts praising Lisbon and Sintra soon. First, though, I have a question. It is a basic tenet of our marriage that we tie our own shoelaces. I mean that in the metaphorical sense, of course; we work together to keep track of Maggie’s needs and her various accessories and this goes double for when we travel. But the location of my wallet? My problem, not Tom’s. His toothbrush? He’s a big boy and I’m not reminding him to pack it.

Now that you have that background, I shall bring you to the baggage claim area this evening at Manchester Airport as we were awaiting delayed luggage. We had to check one of the bags in order to bring our wine home (did I mention Portugal was amazing? Their wines certainly are) and well…some drama unfolded. Names have been omitted for the sake of debate; you make the final call as to who was right. Actually, as you will read, which person was LEAST wrong?

Person A, realizing there might be the possibility for lost luggage, has a thought: “Person B, the future of our marriage will depend on your answer to this question: are the car keys in the checked bag?”

Person B: “…They are.”

Person A: “You may be hearing from my attorneys.”

Person B: “Well, the better question is: where are YOUR keys?”

Person A, thunderstruck: “At HOME.”

From there the discussion became less civilized so I will summarize the players’ positions thusly:

Person A was appalled and amazed by the breathtaking display of stupidity committed by Person B. Person A equates putting car keys–the only way to start the car that will take you home–into a checked bag to be on par with putting one’s wallet, an engagement ring or family heirloom, or passports in the checked bag. It is Not To Be Done, EVER, because airlines are untrustworthy and lose things. Person A’s final conclusion was that the obvious wrongness of this act was so…well…OBVIOUS that it need not be mentioned to Person B when organizing luggage.

Person B was similarly horrified by the breathtaking display of stupidity perpetrated by Person A. One should NEVER leave the house without a backup plan. To only have one set of car keys–did I mention this was the only way to start the car that will take you home–shows an inexcusable lack of planning and foresight. It should go without saying that Person A, while not the one who drove to the airport initially, should be carrying a set of keys as backup in case something should happen to Person B’s keys. To disregard the need for a backup plan is shocking and dangerous.

As it turned out, the bag was retrieved and all was right with the Monkey Family. I have no intention of revealing who was Person A and who was Person B but I will note that while Tom does drive often, I also mitigate the risk of motion sickness by being the driver when I can. Don’t assume. :) We made it home okay and concluded that we both screwed up–Person A will always carry a spare set of keys and Person B will never again check a bag without moving such an important item to carryon.

But since we argued about it for a good bit, I am taking it to the public: was one of us obviously MORE wrong? Is it possible that one of us may have been in the right?

Bright and Shiny

Does the site look cleaner to you? Brighter and shinier, perhaps? Beveled in aluminum and chrome with a silvery edge? It does to me, because I am looking at it through a beautiful, beautiful, shiny new Macbook Pro. Last summer the 3-year warranties expired on our Macbooks and from then it’s been a downhill slide: running out of memory, freezes, crashes, and for me, not being able to download new programs or use new technology because the systems were so out of date. We knew last fall that replacing both laptops was going to be inevitable and started budgeting accordingly, which is how I skipped straight over the Leopard OS stage of Apple’s systems and went from a broken-down Tiger to a fearsome Lion.

I’m excited, can’t you tell? We spend our fun money on travel; rare is the day we buy anything shiny for ourselves. I’ll drop $300 on a top-of-the-line Britax car seat before I’d consider paying full price for a pair of Old Navy jeans for myself. Our iPods are 5+ years old and running fine and we use pay-as-you-go trac phones. I call them our “Stringer Bell burners.” For new laptops to come into our home makes this, in the parlance of Mr. Bell, a 60 degree technology day for Team Monkey.

And now that it doesn’t take five hours to load photos from our camera on to the computer AND opening iPhoto doesn’t crash the computer into a freeze from which reboot is the only escape, I can picture-spam you. So I shall. Enjoy Maggie enjoying summer (such as it is).