Archive for the ‘ Newborn Care ’ Category

My Kids’ Health Crisis, Part 2

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

I hate to see my kids sick. Who does? I hate it even more when they are diagnosed with something “rare,” which is exactly what happened to Fia after the Wednesday doctor visit.  I left my last post off with Em’s pneumonia and the removal of Fia’s alleged tonsil stone, which was followed by a 105.5 fever.

Thursday morning I had to take them both back in. Emmett’s lungs were still “wet,” but they thought he sounded a little better. One down, one to go.

Fia however, now had a huge patch of white on her left tonsil, and it was really swollen and red. A different doctor saw us and said she had a peritonsillar abscess– something that is uncommon in a young child. She said that Fia now needed the hospital-grade antibiotic shot–the same one Em had the day before.

Note to self: Never tell your kid they won’t get a shot before taking them to the doctor. Technically, I told her she probably wouldn’t need one, so I didn’t swear it. But that didn’t help the wailing. Now she had to endure what she gleefully witnessed her brother getting the day before. A butt shot. She walked out limping–which the doctor said happens. However, Fia managed to dramatically limp for the next 36 hours. She’s my girl.

The pediatrician said we had to come back the next day to see if the swelling was down. She seemed worried. She also said the white stuff we thought was a tonsil stone was actually pus. She said this could turn into a serious infection that would require an ENT to surgically drain the abscess. If it got worse, she would need to be hooked up on antibiotics at the hospital with an IV line. You know when you are on a flight with turbulence and you look to the flight attendant for reassurance and she looks just as frightened as you? Well that is how I felt.

I don’t know what it is, but I somehow worry about Fia more than Emmett. Maybe because he’s such a wild boy who is capable of large-scale destruction while remaining indestructible himself. Fia is so lithe, and while tough and fearless, has a fragile, ethereal way about her. And she’s so damn sweet. Her latest thing is she wants to be a Superhero so she can help people. She has an empathy that I think is pretty remarkable for her age. Sometimes I think she’s too good to be true. Self-indulgent and narcissistic, I know. But it’s how I feel. I was really worried with this infection.

I went home and Googled the abscess. Why is it rare in children and what causes it? Leukemia is what came up on one site. I felt a sinking, sick feeling in my stomach. I stopped Googling. We all know Google is the devil at a time like this.

I watched her like a hawk. I bribed her with television then, 6 hours later, with a lollipop, to look twice in her throat. The swollen, pus-covered bulge wasn’t changing. Neither was her fever. I kept hoping the antibiotics would work.

The next morning she was no better, though I felt calmer for some reason.  It was also Friday. Once again, I took them both back. Em was still on the right track, though he had now developed an ear infection, despite being on oral antibiotics. Cue yet another butt shot. This time Fia didn’t grin. She grimaced. She even got her limp back–for dramatic effect perhaps?

The pediatricians sent us to the head ENT doctor at Children’s Hospital. They wanted us to see a specialist before going into the weekend. I scrambled to get a sitter for Emmett in case Fia needed surgery on the spot.

I have never been so happy in my life to hear the beautiful word: tonsillitis. That’s what he said it was. He said it was swollen more on one side, which could have made the pediatricians think abscess. But the white stuff wasn’t pus–it actually was a tonsil stone. It had just grown. He said it would go away in time. Now whether my pediatricians had averted an abscess by injecting her with antibiotics or not, we won’t ever know. I stand by everything they did, but I was gleeful to hear the words, “Go on home.”

We celebrated with ice cream. Doc said it was okay.

“Just the girls,” she said as she licked her “icing-on-the-cake-with-sprinkles” cone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Em would still barely eat and only take a bottle. Of course this meant diarrhea. Which meant diaper rash. So I found myself back in the throes of newborn territory. I have given them both Culturelle like candy. The doctors told me that right now probiotics are my best friends.

Despite all this, by Sunday, both kids were doing much better. We decided some fresh beach air would do them good. Off we went.

We played in the sand and splashed at the edge of the tide. Phil and I exchanged looks of relief. But fate wasn’t done with us yet.  We changed Emmett’s diaper in the back of the car. As I went to put his pants on, the wild-child-who-can’t-sit-still turned around and flung himself forward, falling face first onto the seat back. He stood up shrieking. Blood was streaming from the outer corner of his right eye.  We thought he sliced his eyeball. We threw them both in their car seats and rushed to the closest ER. He missed his eyelid by 1/8th of an inch.

When the boy is sick, he’s super cuddly. When he’s not, you have to be on a constant death watch. He would find danger in a padded room.

Ending the epic week in the Marina Del Ray emergency room begs the question: How many gods did I piss off in my previous life? I am burning 7 twigs tonight, one for each day of the week. I will recite “Ill luck is broken as these words are spoken.”

Yes, I’m resorting to fairy-magic, hippie-dippy crazy crap at this point. Why not? Of course if my luck doesn’t turn around, my twigs could catch fire and burn the house down…

 

 

 

Cartoon pic of sick kids via Shutterstock

 

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Toddler Question: How Do You Birth A Baby?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

My good friend Courtney is pregnant. When I was pregnant with Emmett, Fia was only 2 years old, so she didn’t really “get” what it all meant. In fact, the first time Fia came to the hospital and saw Emmett, she looked like she had been hit by a bus. Bewildered would be an understatement.

Now she’s 4 and can actually grasp the concept (perhaps too much) that her best friend Teddy is going to have a sister. The other night we were lying in bed. Here’s how the conversation went:

“Mom, how did the baby get in Courtney’s belly?”

“Well, Courtney and Brian and God (threw that in on the fly) made the baby,” I said.

“Mom, I know that,” Fia replied indignantly. “I mean, how did the baby actually get IN the belly?”

“Um, well, it’s hard to explain,” I stammered.

“Why is it hard to explain?” she persisted.

“It just is,” I said, hoping to change the subject.

“Well then how does the baby get out?”

Oh dear. My brain was being taxed on this one.

“Courtney pushes it out of her belly,” I said matter-of-factly. Then held my breath.

“She pushes it out???” Fia says quizzically. “Where does it come out?”

“Of her stomach,” I replied, knowing this conversation wasn’t getting any easier.

“But there isn’t a hole in her stomach!! Silly Mama,” she says.

At this point baby was put in a corner. As was I.

I had the choice to make something up–like the baby comes out of her bellybutton–or, try harder to change the subject, or explain all about Courtney’s vagina. The latter of which frankly felt a little weird.

I told her it was bedtime and we would talk about it another day. I think she was tired of not getting answers, so she let it go. For now.

I want to be as open as possible with my children. We don’t call her body parts a “lady bit” “minnie” or “vajayjay”. We don’t call Em’s a “willy” or a “wee wee.” We use vagina and penis. At first that felt strange to me. But in researching, they say it’s best to use the clinical name, for various reasons. One is to help prevent your child falling victim to a sexual predator. It indicates to these criminals that your child is comfortable with openly talking about their body parts, including sexual parts.

So when Fia was asking about Courtney’s future baby taking a trip down the canal, it’s not that I didn’t want to use the word vagina. It was more because I suspect it’s a hard-to-imagine concept. I didn’t want her to get freaked out by the power of the vag or start obsessing about how something other than pee could come out of it. Maybe I’m wrong on this. But you tell me. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the subject comes up again. I need to get my birthing bullet points  in order.

How tall will your little one be? Take our Height Predictor Quiz and find out.

Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas
Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas
Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas

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Bedtime Invasions: Can They Be Stopped?

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

Every parent has an opinion on this. And it’s happened to all of us at least a dozen times. It’s 2:00 a.m. Your four-year-old daughter comes scampering into your bedroom unannounced. You can’t see or hear her, as she’s standing silently in the dark. Afraid it may be a ghost, you hold your breath and peer into the darkness. You finally see her, of course, when she’s within arm’s length, frighteningly staring at you with a blank expression, like that girl in The Ring. At this point, a ghost would’ve scared you less. So what do you do?

There are two camps, and they are quite distinct. You either welcome your terrifying child into the bed, a spot religiously left vacant for her where your sex life used to lay, or you send her packing, refusing to bend to your children and their ongoing, selfish quest to invade your pillow space.

Even if you don’t have kids, you likely know a parent who is one these two extreme types. Let’s break them down.

The first one, let’s call her “Clingy Parent,” sleeps next to her 6-year-old son every night. The boy, let’s call him “Tommy” sleeps between her and her husband. Every. Single. Night. Any half-hearted attempts to break the cycle have been quickly thwarted by Tommy, with little to no resistance by his over-accommodating parents. From what I understand, relations between mom and dad…they’re not so good.

The second type, which I’ll call “Stiff Arm Parent,” has never once let either of her children into the bed in which she and her husband (or boyfriend, girlfriend, dog, hey, I’m not judging here) sleep. I mean, maybe once or twice when they were babies and were teething and miserable, but certainly not once since they became toddlers, and full-fledged kids. They say no, and by God, they mean no.

Personally, I take issue with both of these approaches. Now, I don’t judge either parent, because I’m a big believer that there is more than one way to skin a cat and there is certainly more than one way to raise a happy child. But both methods are extremes, whereas I believe the healthy approach to anything usually lies somewhere in the middle.

When dealing with this issue, there are two clear, distinct goals, and to ignore either would be irresponsible.

  1. To ensure your child is given age-appropriate guidelines for when it is acceptable to come running to their parent’s bed and when it is not
  2. To ensure you’re getting enough sleep to deal with their nonsense and have enough space to sufficiently relax after a long day of dealing with their lovable, yet occasionally absurd behavior

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer in nurturing our children, giving them a neck to wrap their arms around when their alarm clock casts a menacing shadow on their dresser. However, I’m also a believer in setting boundaries so compassion doesn’t transform into a bad habit that becomes increasingly difficult to break.

Put simply, there’s a reason that “Tommy” in the “Clingy Parent” scenario is an only child. His poor parents are never alone to conceive another! If we allow our children access to our beds every night and never allow them to be nocturnally independent, they’ll take even longer to “let go of our legs,” so to speak, ultimately making it much harder for us to break them from the habit later on.

And the “Stiff Arm Parent” approach is a bit too cold for my liking. I see it as ultimately more beneficial to the child’s well being when compared to “Clingy Parent,” but seriously, how do you muster the will power to follow through on a child development plan at 3:00 in the morning? This, frankly, is where I crumble. If I’ve had a stressful day at work, operating at 35% mental capacity and my son crawls into my bed and starts snoring, guess who’s letting him stay there for the night? You got it. In fact, most of the time I’m not even aware he’s there until the next morning, when it’s far too late to put my foot down.

Ultimately, I’ve opted for positive reinforcement. My older son will go between 10 and 14 days without a nighttime visit, then suddenly starts popping in three or four days in a row. My wife (who, if it needs to be said, is the real brains behind this whole parenting thing) has implemented a rewards system. It just started this week. We put a magnetized “reward calendar” up in his room, and for every night he stays in his bed until morning, he gets to put a magnet of his choosing on the corresponding day. The kicker? He gets a surprise each time he’s successful. Not like a bike or anything, but something as simple as getting to pick out his dessert after dinner that night. It’s a little way to motivate him and to get him excited about doing something he wouldn’t normally be excited to do. Some people call it bribery. But those people would understand if they were parents.

So, while I firmly believe that our children’s needs override our own, I don’t think we’re being fair to ourselves (or potentially our significant other) by ignoring our needs completely either. It’s a delicate balance of instilling confidence and comfort in our kids while also maintaining a healthy “bedroom lifestyle” for ourselves as adults. In truth, splitting the atom was probably less complicated.

So, what tactic do you employ when approached mid-sleep by your child (if any at all)? Send me your feedback and thoughts by adding a comment below!

* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

 

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When To Start Time-Outs?

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

I’ve said it before, but I think I’m going to be saying this for a long, long time. I can’t grasp how the male species has survived. This, after having a boy. An 18-month old boy. A boy who has turned from tame to terror. Albeit, a remarkably happy terrorist.

My friends with boys just laugh it off. They are already in this club and have accepted what it means to have birthed a Y chromosome. For those of us who have girls, it is a rude awakening.

Fia was a wild child. I used to joke she was “like a boy.” I still hear moms saying that about their daughters. Baaahhaaaa. Not even close.

Fia has tons of energy and is still full of spunk. But she isn’t stupid. She didn’t climb up on counters and reach for butcher knives. I wouldn’t turn my back for 3.3 seconds only to find her dangling from a bar. Or climbing in the dryer. Or crawling in a drawer. Or, Or, Or…I could go on and on.

It seems each day I am reaching a new level of madness. It is making me feel like I no longer have control of my house. We are moving and our current place is really hard to childproof. But we are here for 3 more deadly months. Who knows what this tornadic force will do next? I can’t even make supper anymore without him nearly losing a limb. Hello? Calvary? Anyone there?

The thing is, he has about the best temperament of any child I’ve met. He giggles in his sleep and sings in his highchair. And as, um, “active” as he is, he will sit for 30 minutes and page through books. At least he used to do all these things. I’m scared I’m losing that part of him. I’m scared he’s turning into a gorilla.

So what to do? He is starting to get angry when his needs aren’t instantly met. He gets frustrated if he can’t figure out a toy and sends it hurtling across the room. Yesterday I turned my back for 1.3 seconds. He had a glass I had just set down, dumped the water out and as I screamed, “NOOO” he looked at me with that mischievous grin and sent it crashing in a million pieces on the floor. He has discovered that pulling hair makes Fia cry. He thinks “finished” with his food means throwing it all on the ground. “Emmett—NOOOOOO!!!!!” is becoming the dominant phrase in our house.

Oh, but it gets better. He yanked Phil’s prescription sunglasses off his face today and threw them across the room. As usual, we reacted. Phil yelled, “NO EMMETT! “YOU DO NOT DO THAT.” Emmett immediately burst into tears. Wailing. The word NO also equals meltdown. Or, in an act of animalistic defiance, he starts to eat his arm or foot. I am raising a gorilla, a canibal and a crybaby.

My sitter Michele just laughs. She has 5 kids, 4 of them boys. She said Emmett definitely ranks up there as a wild one, but at the end of the day she insists he’s simply “all boy.” She points to how fearless and fun his disposition is. I can’t entirely disagree. My pediatrician has said he is one of the more active babies she’s seen, but the fact that he does (or did??) sit and read and have quiet time made her think he just has a lot of energy to burn. My in-laws say he’s a normal, happy toddler. How can this be? “Normal” is making me pull out my hair. How does the male species justify their insane behavior as “normal???”

I know I’m probably painting a terrible picture of him and it sounds contradictory when I say he is almost always in a great mood. But these little snapshots happen throughout the day. What do I do? Should I start putting him in his crib for a timeout? I feel like he’s too little to “get it.” Am I being had?  Will he begin to understand consequences and boundaries at 18 months? Fia is 3 1/2 and I honestly can’t remember when she had her first time out. But it definitely wasn’t this young. She was far tamer. To date, she’s probably had less than 7 time-outs.

When he turns 2, I’m planning on putting him in preschool 2 mornings a week. I think some structure will help. But that is still 6 months away. A lot can happen.Maybe I just need to embrace this chapter. Let it pass. Or maybe I should find a different preschool… one that will take him now.

Looking for advice, tips and a survival timeline. Please.

 

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The Royal Baby: How To Choose A Name?

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

 

Prepare to have your tastes judged relentlessly.

Giving anything a name can be a daunting task. A poem, a song, your pet iguana. If you’ve ever been in a position where you’ve had to “title” any of them, I don’t need to tell you that it’s a painstaking, often arduous process. And naming your own child is easily the most difficult of any naming decision you’ll make.

First, it’s a name you’ll be blamed for until you die. Second, both you and your spouse have to come to one joint decision (which is difficult when you can’t even decide on a movie for Saturday night). And third, there is often family pressure to succumb to their wishes rather than sticking to your own (likely predetermined) ideas. Just ask Princess Kate, who I can guarantee you, deep down, would’ve loved to go against royal tradition and name her baby Thor, or something equally unexpected. King Thor does have a nice ring to it.

Before you even start the process of determining a name for your child, there is one thing you need to remember: Everyone has opinions, and most of them are terrible. Or at least they will seem that way to you. After you’ve announced that you’re expecting, and you’ve been grilled relentlessly about the-gender-you-won’t-know-for-months-anyway, you will find yourself inundated with baby names. It’s like being smacked across the face with a Pottery Barn Kids catalog. Most of the information will be completely unusable and self-serving.

Aside from your own indecisiveness, you also have to deal with the aforementioned skewed views of everyone in your life who believes their opinion matters. For example, you’ll have those who will passive aggressively tell you they hate the name you’ve chosen.

“Sophia? Really? You guys actually like that name?” No, we can’t stand it. We’re just really big ”Golden Girls” fans.

Then, you’ll have those who don’t like the name because it reminds them of someone who wronged them in a totally insignificant way in 1973.

“Oh, please don’t name her Francesca. I knew a receptionist named Francesca and she had a lisp and was incredibly promiscuous.” I was grateful for this information, as the last thing I’d want is for my daughter to be a lady of the night with a speech impediment.

The most intriguing bunch are the ones who believe that by naming your child the same name as someone they despise, your child will magically inherit the awful personality traits of the hated party. Generally speaking, this person’s opinion should be treated like a new boyfriend or girlfriend’s attempt at making homemade sushi—pushed to the side and ultimately discarded when no one is looking.

Your best bet is to not tell anyone your chosen name until he/she is born. Pre-parent, I found this pretentious. But now I believe it’s the path that leads to the least amount of drama, bitterness and resentment. In a nutshell, people are much less likely to speak ill of your decision if it’s one they can no longer change. Not to mention you have a new baby. Anyone with an ounce of social grace knows to keep their mouth shut.

With that said, here is a series of pitfalls to avoid. Follow these and you should be able to keep your child out of therapy for a while.

  • The name chain

If your last name starts with a “K,” don’t name your kid “Mike.” Instead of being Mike Kaplan, your child will end up being My Kaplan, Mike Aplan, or worst of all, Micapalin (which sounds more like an over-the-counter ED medication).

  • Hey, it’s tradition

It’s an honorable act, naming your son after his grandparents. However, if you’re having a boy (and the two grandfathers are Richard and Lester), don’t name your poor son Richard Lester. People tend to abbreviate or shorten names and this one will only spawn ridicule and shame (shorten Richard to Dick…then take it from there). Or, for abbreviation, our newest royal family member: G.A.L.

  • The unavoidable nickname

Speaking of abbreviating names, don’t name your daughter Susan if you hate Sue. It’s like putting a piece of cake in a doggy dish and being angry that the pup licked the icing off. A nickname is going to happen at some point. So I suggest picking a name where you can live with any possible version of it. You can still monogram their receiving blankets with your personal favorite of the bunch.

  • Fallen on hard rhymes

Before you slap a name on that birth certificate, say it out loud to yourself. Then say it to a few others. Did any of them cover their face and stifle a laugh? Well, it’s probably because you named your kid Dino Marino.  If you want to give something a clownish name, saddle your dog with it. Better yet, a goldfish. The life expectancy is much shorter, minimizing the humiliation from their friends.

At the end of the day, this is your decision and yours alone. When my wife was pregnant with our second son, we made a monumental mistake and told everyone our three top choices. This guaranteed one thing: at least one person would be disappointed. In fact, people started referring to the baby by their favorite…while he was still in the womb!   We waited three days after his birth and ultimately decided on the least popular of the three, Nathaniel, and announced it to the families shortly thereafter. Sometimes, at night, I close my eyes and can still hear the crickets.

So, stick to your guns, decide on a moniker that sounds pleasant with your last name and one that you’ll be comfortable shouting for the next couple of decades.

Thanks for reading, and look for my blog next week about the thought process behind going from two to three kids. In the meantime, check out my recent appearance on Huffington Post Live, discussing “How to Hire a Nanny.” They had me take my glasses off, so I l0ok blind, but I was thrilled to be a part of the conversation.

What are your baby-naming pet peeves? Add a comment below!

Pregnant belly picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com

 

 

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