Saturday Night at the ER (note: this will turn out fine)

I believe that it is a testament both to our wonderful fortune of having a healthy daughter as well as my own relatively non-hysterical nature that we have never been to the ER with Edie for anything except her little forehead-dive-into-mixing-bowl gash situation at around 15 months.  Not that I am worry free when she’s sick, but I can usually hold my own even with the standard fretting.

Back-patting aside, I got pushed past my edge on Saturday when Edie went from her normal self to a listless, mumbling, not eating or drinking kid in the course of an hour or two that afternoon. We’d spent the morning at a playground waiting for her dad to make his way from the finish line after he’d completed the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon.  It was much hotter than I’d anticipated – I just can’t seem to prepare for tropical temperatures in April yet -and there was very little shade.  Edie had fun and didn’t complain, but the fact of this outing came to worry me when she fell ill. And by “came to worry” I mean my mind starting yelling “I baked the baby! She’s cooked on the inside and her brain is melting!”

The three of us were at the house of some friends that afternoon.  Edie began to get crabby pretty quick, but I’m dealing with a two year old here, not a model of emotional stability.  But soon her crabbiness got incoherent and she wouldn’t eat things she normally devours, nor drink from a juice box, which is practically sacrilege around here.  I ran home to grab a thermometer to see if we were dealing with a fever and got back to find her pitifully crying and ultimately passing out in my lap amid a cookout.  Edie does not pass out in laps.  Oh, that she were a child that passed out when tired and not one that has withstood sleeping more than 30 minutes on an eighteen. hour. transatlantic trip.  But this was concerning, and so I brought up the idea of taking her in to see a medical professional in the way one does among friends that you like enough not to want to lose. “Hon, I think she needs to see someone.”  “Eh. What’s anyone going to do? I think she’s fine.” (In voice raised just a couple of notes:) “But, hon, I think she’s acting very weird.  I’d like to take her in somewhere.”  “Well, maybe a walk-in clinic.  Let me [*wife translation* pull out my iPhone and do pointless things on the internet, and stop communicating with you about this].”  “You know, I don’t freak out about just anything” [in voice that can only be described as freaking out]  Cue: toddler, who wakes up and commences projectile vomiting.

So we’re off to the hospital.  More projectile vomiting in the car.  No longer calling Will “hon.”  Sickness isn’t usually frightening to me, but I thought she was dehydrated to a point that could need intervention and I wasn’t comfortable putting a kid to sleep who was merely passing out from fluid deprivation.  We get there, she is appropriately limp and sad looking, we sit down among the sick and weary.  I chat with a mom whose daughter is lying pitifully on the chairs, not moving or talking.  We bond over our woe-is-mama evening.  But then, my little huddled mass starts to perk up.  She wants a little juice now, please, mama.  How about some cookies, please, mama?  Can I share that boy’s Cheetos, mama? Heheh.  Uh, April Fools! She’s not sick!(?)

Fast forward through the next three hours of our night: Edie keeps getting better.  We try to exit gracefully, but are told we really should wait it out.  By the time we finally a doctor sees us – some four hours past bedtime – Edie is dancing and counting to eleven as fast as she can.  I welcomed Dr. Young Resident into the Model of Health room.  He told us that there were some very fast moving stomach bugs going around and that’s what she probably had.  No serious dehydration.  No liquified baby brains.  And he assured me, in spite of my bouncing child, that with the symptoms I described, taking her in was not crazy. Yet when I look in the mirror these days, I now see The Root of the Rising Costs of Healthcare looking back at me.

She had another sick spell soon after we got home that night, so I guess I’m at least glad that we had some confirmation that she was going to be all right.  She got into a fitful sleep sometime after midnight.  I stayed in bed with her until after 2 am, taking her pulse.  And then I returned to bed for a rest time comprised jumping out of my skin at every sound on the monitor and odd lucid dreams.

So, then, who pranced into our room at seven am?  Surely not world’s sickest two year old?!  Oh, but, yes.  Because that’s what they do.  And so swollen-ankle half marathon dad and swollen-lots-of-things very pregnant mom get up and face the day.  But it wasn’t pretty.

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Getting a *little* too pregnant for this

I am into week 33 of this my second pregnancy.  Past the nausea and first trimester exhaustion, through the grace and cute belly of the second trimester, right into a whole new third trimester exhaustion, which is accompanied not by an aversion to food but by a nagging hunger and widening everything.  I am also anemic, which isn’t rare or anything for a pregnant person, but it adds to the exhaustion.

On the other side, I have a wildly cute and energetic two year old who is home with me seven days a week.  I still want to do all of the activities that we do, but I am thinking that some wind down is in order.  Today we went to storytime at the public library, which usually I love.  Today there was even a special guest, the Mayor of Nashville!  (This was cute, since he was introducing a fluffy but nice reading campaign, but I don’t think anyone told him that his audience would be 60% 2 years and under, and at least 35% moms.  Poor guy seemed genuinely rattled by being talked over by most of the crowd, while his speech was either aimed at five year olds, or else he is a holdover from the nineteenth century notion that women have brains more similar to gorillas than human men. Mayor: “Books are like broccoli for your mind!” Two year old: (shouting) “I have a SHOE!!” )

So, library storytime.  It involves sitting on the ground.  Which now means one big baby on my lap and one small baby climbing up my rib cage.  After the official presentation, one must peel oneself off the ground to exit the theater.  A lady tries not to grunt and expose the fact that her maternity panel rises high, high up to the heavens.  I am not much of a lady.  Then off to find books.  Guess where they keep books for little kids?! Real low? You bet! This means crawling on all fours, because while unsightly, it is better than passing out from losing oxygen on a badly executed forward bend.

After all of that, picnic in the atrium.  I decide that I am a “cool mom” today.  Cool moms don’t fret or micromanage.  And so, happily, cool moms don’t have to get out of their seats that much. And I really needed to sit.  So I let Edie eat awhile and then when she begged to get up to walk over to the nearby water fountain, I say, okay, but first, chew and swallow.  You see, Edie loves to take great big mouthfuls of food.  But she is prone to forgetting what comes next, especially when distracted.  And then the food just sits in her mouth, masticated occasionally, until something gives.  Well, I got her to chew and swallow before she left, but she still had a fistful of food, and evidently took another bite on the way.  She returned to me a few minutes later, mouth frothing over with Tofurkey and saliva over-production.  And that’s when cool mom turned into incompetent mom, as I saw what was about to happen. “Oh, Edie, no! Swallow!”  Instead: projectile vomit. “Oh, God. No! Edie!” (I am such a natural nurturer.) And that was the coup de grâce of our library trip.  I left in defeat, bedraggled and smelling of puke, holding hands with a toddler who insisted on running the entire way to the car. 

Tomorrow: music class.

The No-Nap Artist

Edie never used to leave her room on her own volition after waking up.  First, it was the whole legs-don’t-work-because-I’m-an-infant thing.  Then it was because she just wasn’t a crib climber.  Keeping her from crib climbing was aided by the fact that she sleeps in a sack (think sleeping bag with arm straps / Maggie Simpson).  After moving into a big kid bed, she soon learned to unzip her sleep sack and get out of it, but for some reason, this just led to her playing pantless in bed for awhile, and later playing in her own room.  But always calling out for me to come get here when she was ready to be up and about.

But, about two weeks ago, something finally clicked, and she realized that there was nothing stopping her from leaving her room whenever she wanted.  There was also nothing stopping her from doing it in as dramatic a fashion as possible.  Her method involves deftly removing the sack, climbing out of her bed – all quiet enough that it cannot be picked up on the baby monitor – creeping to her door, and then… flinging the door open and tearing down the hallway as fast as her little legs and pumping arms can take her.  No destination.  All journey.

Last week, I heard Edie open her door while I was closed in my room sewing.  A second later she opened my door to look for me, but I didn’t turn around, wanting to see what her next move would be.  Was it “Hi, Mama!”?  Nope. She simply saw me, then shut the door again, and proceeded to do whatever toddler risky business she saw fit.

Then yesterday, she hit the motherload for alone time mayhem.  Will and I were gardening in the backyard – with the baby monitor turned all the way up, mind you.  At some point, I looked up to see Edie through the glass door.  First, she smiled.  But that faded into a grimace as she held up her hands and arms which were both covered in a thick layer of bright blue.  My smile faded then too.  I tossed her to her dad and ran inside to inspect the damage.  Aha! She found a brand new bottle of acrylic paint not too far from her chalkboard easel which, in an unfortunate coincidence, had a paintbrush and cup of water in its holder from some innocent water painting she’d been up to earlier.  Edie managed to unscrew the lid, remove the tiny protective seal, which tried in vain to prevent such tragedies, and begin to paint. And paint, and paint.  She must have been at this whole process for a good half hour before she became annoyed at her dirty hands, forcing her to seek help from people tall enough to reach the sink.  Happily, the carnage was quite contained relative to the catastrophe potential. Our duvets will bear the marks of her work, as will our bathroom door.  But the wood floors were saved, and so was about 20% of my new paint.  And I will work on finding a new hiding spot for liquid-y craft goods, and I vow never to let her see me use the hot glue gun again.

Relief.

A breath of relief came in the form of a letter from the Tennessee State Bar Association this week when I got news that I had passed the bar exam.  Or rather, this bar exam.  I doubt I’m the most licensed / least employed lawyer out there, but I am sure I could get into a club for such folks.  I hope there is no club, though.  Because it would be depressing and also would probably cost money, and that’s something that we just don’t have a lot of.

I can admit that lawyering is not my sole ambition.  In part, I can admit this because it is really obvious and is a hard truth to avoid.  And in part because my husband is perfectly okay with it, and he’s the only one I feel sheepish about knowing this.  When we got married, back in 1796, we both envisioned a dual-career situation and we invested heavily in education for both of our careers.  Now the mister has done everything according to plan and is a Wunderkind professor, while I was employed fulltime after law school for less than two years, and now just keep taking bar exams as a smoke-and-mirrors gesture to act like I really will be a lawyer one day.  But setting aside the time, money, and energy – three things we are always a bit low on at the moment – to take the bar this time around got me to a place where I see using my JD in my future.

Right now, though, I’m glad to put this in my back pocket for the time being and get back to pinterest-ing my future baby’s nursery.

How to Fail at Potty Training

(“Those who can’t do, teach.” quoth the potty-hating, teddy-bear-toilet-training toddler)

Potty training is the worst. The worst.  Even calling it “potty training” makes it sound productive and regimented.  It is, instead, something I try all day not to do, to be nonchalant about.  But the small one cannot be fooled. And she can smell the desperation to be diaper-free that festers so close to my psyche’s surface.  And she laughs and laughs.

She’s still young, and I know this. I am not desperate for  it to happen tomorrow.  It’s just. Well. She poops so much. Maybe there’s a more delicate way to say that.  But it’s not a delicate situation.  It’s five times a day.  And my gag reflex is only sharpening.

Also, the potty is in the mix.  We’ve actually been doing potty time since she was a wee babe – 4 months old, if memory serves.  So, it started as a partial-elimination-communication thing where we put her on the pot when it was apparent that she needed to go.  And it was a good thing back then.  Really helped her fussiness and helped us avoid diaper rash.  All good.  But somewhere along the way, the path got crooked, and us putting her on the pot when we knew she needed to go head-butted with her own elimination awareness.  And instead of a smooth transition from using the potty being our prerogative to hers, there has instead evolved some kind of mangled state of being where somehow we have twice as many diapers and twice as much time on the pot.  It is not fun.

What I like, in instances like this, is a good strategy.  Something to dig my heels into.  Not the easy way, but something that seems reliable and at least incrementally successful. Actually, the hard way usually gets a death grip on my mind pretty quick.  But a plan is a security blanket for me and I want a blankey.  Alas.  Here are the many avenues that have dead-ended so far.

The Promise of Underpants

From my lovely cousin, I was advised that the promise of wearing lovely underwear instead of a diaper could change a child’s mind about where to do one’s business once she could understand that concept.  Edie speaks quite well, I think.  She is very (very) verbal and likes things explained to her.  So I have told her that if she only poops and pees in the potty, she can wear underwear.  Now I regularly have a two year old who walks up to me, beaming, and says “Only poop potty, wear underwear!” And I exclaim “Yes! That’s right!” And she says “I pooped!” still smiling.  “Right now?”  “Yes. Edie pooped.”  And off we go to change diaper #5.

I have even upped the ante.  I have promised underwear of any variety she wants.  Horsey underwear has got her pretty excited at the moment.  Diamond-studded is available.  And still, it poops in its pants.

Let ‘er pee her pants. She won’t like it.


Oh won’t she?! Is that right, world?!?!  Can you reconcile, then, the puddle underneath my daughter, on my kitchen floor, and then the subsequent shrug of shoulders (and possible eye roll) when I asked her if she just peed her pants?  How about the fact that when we have naked time in the backyard with the kiddie pool – a common event since it’s been hot here since March – she gleefully tells me “I’m gonna whiz in my hippo chair!” while she is tearing off her clothes.  And then she does.  Whiz in her hippo chair, I mean.  And she likes it.  And only the hippo chair and I are sad.

The flip side is that 50% of the time, she tells you when she is peeing her pants, and acts like she doesn’t like it.  But she only does it during the event. Not before.  So the only purpose of these announcements seems to be to cause everyone else to remark how “ready” she is to potty train, while I stand there, slouching, trying not to look like a mom who is forcing her child to sit in her own waste.  Not sure I’ve got that look down.

Get a potty chair she likes.  

Likes the potty chair: check.  Gets us any closer to diaper-freedom: HAH!  We’d been using a little seat that sits on the big toilet, and that works fine, except that we’ve found no way to get her up on it safely without our assistance.  She’s got a stool, but it just doesn’t work.  So I got one that sits on the ground that you empty out.  She LOVES it!  Want to know what part she loves?  The emptying.  How good do you think her accuracy?  If you answered: dumps it out on top of the closed toilet lid, then we have a big winner.  If you also answered: she tries to do all of this without telling me what she’s up to so that I find biohazard spills and not-so-fresh-naked-toddlers around every corner, then I am now worried that you are spying on me.

So where are we at?  Nowheresville, man.  Except that I now truly see the beauty of the mom’s refrain “they won’t go to college in diapers.”  I used to think it defeatist.  I know see it as Zen.  Except that maybe it just means she will be wetting herself at 22 but won’t have a Bachelor’s degree….