Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Day My Heart Stopped

It's been quite an eventful weekend:  Four hospitals, 3 ambulance rides, 2 tired and worried parents, and one frustrated baby boy all waiting for answers.

It all started on Saturday.  Andrew woke up as happy and hungry as ever.  Ben helped me finish some math homework and then we all said good-bye to him as he went off to work.  Since it had been a late night the previous night, we were all tired and cranky so I decided an early nap was definitely in order. After nap time, I fed the kids a snack and went in the kitchen to do the dishes.  When I came out like 20 minutes later (we don't have a dishwasher), Andrew was still finishing up his lunch.

I sat on the couch with the baby and Emily, determined to read them some stories.  I looked over at Andrew and noticed that he had drool coming down his face. His eyes were a bit unfocused and his lips were stuck in a half-smile.  I asked him if he was okay.  He looked up at me but didn't respond.  I went over and picked him up.  He gave me a thumbs up sign so I figured he just didn't want to talk.  We went into their room to play with some blocks. Andrew suddenly threw up.  This is when he stopped responding to me.  His eyes stared straight ahead, his jaw was tight, he was moaning, and his breathing was shallow.

I called Ben.  He rushed home from work.  In the mean time, Andrew started shaking (what I now know as convulsing), I knew enough about seizures to conjecture that he was having one but not enough to know what to do during an episode.  When Ben got home, Andrew was still convulsing. We packed everyone up in the car and rushed to the nearest hospital.

At the ER, the receptionist took one look at Andrew and called the nurse.  The nurse picked him up out of my arms, called to the back saying, "I have an unresponsive 3 yo, I need a room and a doctor STAT."  At this point I was sobbing.  The nurse rushed to the back with me (Ben had to stay behind with the kids).  When we got into his room, nurses and a doctor converged upon my son.  They checked his oxygen (which was dangerously low) put a breathing mask on him, poked and prodded various parts of his body, and, since he was still seizing, gave him some emergency anti-seizure medication. Once his breathing was back to a normal level, and he had stopped seizing, they took him back to do a CT scan.  His whole episode from start to finish lasted a little over an hour. After finishing all preliminary tests (all of which came back clear indicating no meningitis, brain tumor, brain bleeding, etc) they went and grabbed Ben and the rest of the kids.  They transported him via ambulance to one of the children's hospitals in our city and Ben rode along with him.

He spent the night at that hospital and saw about 10 different doctors.  They were completely baffled by his episode as he had no priors, no sickness, no behavioral things, nothing to indicate that he would ever have a seizure.  They diagnosed him with a staring spell and sent him home in the morning mostly assuring us that this was probably an isolated incident (7/10 kids have a one-time seizure).  They gave us rather vague instructions regarding what to do if it happened again while basically assuring us that it wouldn't happen again.

On Monday we all woke up shaken and worried, but hopeful.  Our awesome nanny came over to watch the kids while I went to class and Ben went to work.  I came home directly after my class was over so I could work from home and continue to watch Andrew.  He was tired and seemed a bit out of it, so he went to take a nap (I checked on him every 5 minutes).  After about 10 minutes I went in and saw him awake and staring.  I picked him up and tried to get him to respond to me. He wouldn't. As the hospital doctors told me, I watched the clock. After 5 minutes passed I called the neurologist's office per the doctor's instructions.  They told me to hang up and call 911, so I did. At this point he started convulsing.  I called Ben. I took a video (so the neurologist would know what it looked like). I cried and cried and cried.  When the paramedics arrived, he was still convulsing. After a few minutes he stopped on his own.  Off to the hospital we went.  (Thankfully my nanny was there to take care of the other kids and have things ready for Ben when he came home.)

Since this was the second very prolonged seizure - over an hour for the first and over 20 min for the second - the doctors were much more concerned.  They stabilized him at the hospital, did a few more blood tests, and transferred us again to another children's hospital.  He was admitted, again, and we talked to a dozen more doctors.  Since it was the second time, I was much more confident in relaying the events which led to a more accurate diagnosis of primary epilepsy.  He was started on anti-seizure medication, given an EEG, and sent home but this time with clearer instructions as to what we needed to do if this happened again.

I feel dazed by this all.  My perspective on life has drastically altered as I now realize certain things are just not important anymore.  I am still figuring out how to live life now that I have this constant worry.  I find myself just letting the kids do what they want because is it really that important to not have a lollipop in the morning?  Or eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Or stay up until 10pm?  I am sure that in a few weeks things will return to normal and we'll start some sort of routine. But right now? We're eating candy in the morning and watching movies together at night.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


On par with the whole New Year's resolutions thing, I've started a new diet.  But I'm having trouble deciding between two equally important breakfasts:
 or Girl holding 10 pound chocolate bar

I think I'll choose them both. Between school starting, house buying, and children waking up at night, I need a breakfast of champions.

Speaking of my children (because obviously we were), Baby A is mobile! I only found out because she rolled off the couch while I was changing her diaper.  Parenting win!

Since we're on the topic of winning (and since I have amazing writing skills), my first day of school went super well.  I even rode the bus for the first time! I felt like such a big girl. I also managed to miss the bus after class.  This allowed me to catch up on my exercise goals for the year by walking  2 miles in my heels.

Now that life has gotten easier, I've decided to devote more time to blogging.  No time like major life transitions to make big and almost impossible to keep goals, right?

So. Tell me. How has your week been?

*Images courtesy of Heavy Chocolate website and Dr. Pepper.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Public Broadcasting (time)Sucker

When we moved to our apartment 9 months ago, we braced ourselves for a trying period.  "Only one year!" became our anthem.  (It has worked.  Mostly.)

Upon learning that there were no parks close by - or any outside space within walking distance (or really anything within walking distance) - and due to sharing a car with Mr. B. (who holds the position as Money Bringer-in-ner which means he has priority with the car), I quickly discovered that my once valued schedule was no longer possible.  When I thought about the kids and I surviving this apartment ordeal, I prudently compromised on my long-held child development based parenting strategies and went with something that was more suitable for spending hours of the day holed up in a 700 sq. ft. apartment.

That's when I discovered something magical on TV.  I like to call it educational programming. The rest of the world calls it PBS.

Rather than divulge all my dark parenting secrets, I'll just say we have watched our combined weight in PBS programming.  On the plus side, Big Sister E learned to read and Brother A learned his letters and numbers! I'll call that a PBS Kids win. But we all know about shows like Sesame Street.  My biggest find was the shows that began after 5:30.  Just. Wow.

Last night I found myself engrossed in yet another PBS show.  The next thing I knew, 3 hours had gone by and it was close to midnight. No biggie EXCEPT, this is not the first time this has happened. And, you know, with sleep deprivation already an issue, I should probably reconsider my whole late night television viewing.  But. Science! Period Pieces! Volcanoes!

I think I have a serious addiction.

Rather than face my problem, (problem? what problem?) I've decided to share my favorite PBS shows with all of you.

Call the Midwife was my gateway drug into the PBS world.  A show about midwifery during the early 1950's in England, I quickly fell in love with the characters of this delightful show.  It's my first love.  (Even above Downton Abbey. I KNOW.)

Most of my friends are infatuated with Downton Abbey. After watching an episode, I understand why.  The drama. The outfits. The atmosphere! I'm even thinking about naming my new home Downton Home.

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Last night was my first dip into the world of DCI Banks and I already know it won't be my last.  Three words: British Crime Show.  Need I say more?

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Science.  I love science.  The kids will often watch this show with me as we learn about neanderthals, space missions, and other fascinating topics. Well researched with a novice bend, I always find myself lost in internet research after watching each episode.  Well done, Nova.

Have you heard of Food Inc? Yeah, it was first aired on POV. This show has won several major TV awards and I can't praise it enough.  I'd highly recommend the recently aired Reportero.

Another documentary style show, I love Front Line because it tackles tough issues (like Poor Kids and the Battle for Syria) with excellent investigative reporting techniques.

If you haven't noticed, I have thing for documentary-style shows.  I fell in love with American Experience with its Death and the Civil War two-part series.  Just go watch it.  Amazing stuff.

And that's why I stay up late.

*Images courtesy of Wikipedia and PBS

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Night Movie Recommendations

The past 9 months have been just one of those Series of Unfortunate Months. This has resulted in more TV watching (out of necessity) and less outside time (due to lack of outside space and accessible parks).  Thankfully, I can put this wasted time to use by giving you, dear reader, a review of my favorite movies I've watched recently!

You're welcome.

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(Brief synopsis here.) I strongly believe this movie was highly misunderstood in the movie industry.  A beautiful movie that left me sobbing - like sobbing so much that my kids started crying - I could not think of a better representation of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I have strong links to the Autism community and I feel like this film realistically portrayed how a child with Asperger's thinks, feels, and reacts to tragedies.



(Brief synopsis here.) As winner of Best Picture, I watched this with heavy anticipation.  I worried at first that it would bore me.  A silent film in 2012? What?  But, it wasn't.  It was funny, cute, and completely reminiscent of the silent films of yore.



(Brief synopsis here.) As a self-proclaimed Disliker of Animal Movies, I was quite skeptical to watch this movie. After some convincing by the smooth Mr. B, I sat down to watch it with him and some friends.  I loved it.  As a warning, it's not a kid movie and neither is it for those who are averse to violent scenes.

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(Brief synopsis here.) Since the targeted audience was children, I wasn't particularly excited to watch this. I mean, I watch kid shows all day long. No thank you.  But I acquiesced and ended up enjoying it (which is a common theme in our marriage, apparently).  I think it's best to watch it with children as the magic will sparkle in their eyes and help smooth over adult cynicism (of which I have a very serious case.)

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(Brief synopsis here.)  I adore espionage movies. I also adore British movies.  A combination of the two? You bet I'd like it. And I did. Very much.  A definite edge-of-your-seat thriller, I'd recommend watching with some delicious popcorn to munch on during the tense scenes.

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(Brief synopsis here.)  As a full disclaimer, I had to stop this movie about 20 minutes in to brush up on Margaret Thatcher history. (I'm sure that since most of you who read this are much smarter than me, you may not have to do this.) Meryl Streep is possibly my favorite actress, so this was an easy film for me to love.  Additionally, it included feminist themes of which I'm particularly fond: women in politics, women working and caring for children, etc.

Go. Enjoy your Friday night and have a blessed weekend.  Will you also please enjoy the outside for me? I'd really appreciate it.

*Images courtesy of Wikipedia.  Thanks Wikipedia!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Mother Load

When I was a young(er) mom, and full of All Motherly Wisdom, I would often hear other moms discuss the difficulty of showering.  I, in my absolute certainty, internally scoffed.  My babe was a mere infant and I managed to shower once, even twice, a day.  I even managed to do my hair and make-up and dress in nice clothes.

I was clearly above them all.

After I had Andrew, and entered the realm of Mother to More Than One Child, I knew I was still above other moms.  I continuously managed to shower daily, get dressed, do my make-up, exercise, read a million stories to my eldest, teach my baby math, cook healthy and delicious meals, volunteer at dozens of organizations, organize fantastic murder mystery dinners, and other fantastic things*.  I was the Homemaking Queen.

Then I had Baby A.  That showering thing? Yeah, I get it now.

Excuse me while I go eat a big slice of humble pie.

*I might have exaggerated these accomplishments slightly.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Semiserious Sunday: Blogging

I've been blogging for five years.

When I started my family blog (which I still have), I discovered this new world.  Like Ariel in the Little Mermaid, my heart began singing, "I want more!" (I also wanted red hair, but I figured that would be taking things a bit too far.)

So I started a new blog and called it Making the Moments Count. It became my refuge, in a way.  A place for me to vent, cry, and discuss tough issues. I began commenting on various blogs I enjoyed and met many internet friends who virtually held my hand during depressive episodes, anxiety attacks, miscarriages, changes, and parenting woes.  I grew and struggled with a burgeoning new perspective on life. I shifted, transformed, and felt frightened by new feelings and ideas.  During this period, I met the sea witch.

The original tale of The Little Mermaid* is a cautionary tale of trading one life for another and the unforeseen consequences of doing so. While it's a bit more gristly, I find it beautiful.  As I've traded one life for another, it has resulted in painful dancing and much heartache.  It has also meant embracing my wildish nature - something Clarissa Estes eloquently discusses in her book, Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Part of trading one life meant letting go of the other.  For me, that meant shutting down my beloved space. This keenly weighed on my mind and spirit, but I continued putting it off.  And then, suddenly, I felt ready.  Ready to let go, ready to move on, ready to complete my personal transformation, privately.

I've lived much of my life in a dismal fog, wondering when light would shine through. Recently, though, I've found more chances to laugh than ever before.  Parenting isn't easier; heck, life isn't easier, but seeing things through a humorous lens has certainly eased the internal pressure I feel.

*What the original Little Mermaid lacks, though, is awesome music.  Under the Sea? Part of Your World? Classics.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's A Resolution!

Last year I resolved to have a healthy baby.  For the first time in my life, I fulfilled a resolution.  This has made me tingly with anticipation as I try again this year, with a much more aggressive list.  I am FEELING* the resolutions, baby! So, here is my list.

My Top Five Resolutions

1. Do my hair AT LEAST one time.  

2. Walk. And I'm not talking about walking from room to room in our 700 sq. foot apartment.

3. Eat. As in, don't skip 3 meals and then eat all the cookies in my cupboard.

4. Wake up.  This is what I call Reverse Psychology - or telling my brain that in order to wake up, it must sleep.  Yeah, take THAT brain. 

5.  Read 3 books.  I've already read two so know I will OWN this one.

How about you? Any New Year's resolutions you are dying to share?  Are you as THRILLED as I am about 2013?  

*CAPS LOCKS brought to you by the word EXCITEMENT

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Year in Review Using Six Probably Unrelated Words

January: Hospital; Soda; Snow; Ultrasounds; The Office

February: Zumba; Interviews; Crackers; Cuddly Kids; Flutters

March: Packing; Unpacking; Moving; Driving; Laughing; Crying

April: Homework; Stairs; Laundry; Plays; Birthday

May: Training; Baseball; Binky; Walks; Graduate School

June: Existential Crisis; Decisions; Bed Rest; Medications

July: Pre-term Contractions; Heat; Baby; Anniversary; Happiness

August: Family; Fourth Birthday; Tears; Healing; Adoration

September: Colic; The Mentalist; Chocolate; Naps; Joy

October: Frustration; Exhaustion; Chaos; Halloween; Books; Hope

November: Third Birthday; New Friends; Smiles; Thanksgiving

December: Houses; Traditions; Milestones; Changes; Downton Abbey