Friday, April 29, 2011

Take Your Child to Work Day

I learned (after the fact) that yesterday was TYCTW day. But little Maggie has actually been coming with me to work all month. Because my job is nice enough to let me do some part time work from home while I'm on maternity leave. I guess if they were super nice, they'd pay me to do nothing but squish Maggie's cute little cheeks. But still.

As a matter of fact, I just finished up for this morning (I helped with a webinar and managed to have minimal baby noises in the background. She is already so professional!) And now miss Maggie is sleeping peacefully and adorably in her K'tan carrier.

I've been thinking a lot about being a working momma lately. Staying home with Maggie, going back to work next month, facing the prospect of another wave of layoffs in the not too distant future...There is a lot of not working and working and possibly not working again in such a short period of time.

All this thinking reminds me of when I was in high school, talking to my European History teacher (whom I idolized and hoped to one day become...and still do. Wish me luck) about college. I told her how ambivalent I felt about deciding what to study in college, knowing it might become a moot point if I stayed home to raise babies. I don't remember exactly what she said, but the take home message for me was that (a) an education is never wasted, but more importantly (b) I could do it all! I was inspired.

That teacher went on to have twins (and then some) and earn an advanced degree and is now a COO of a really cool company. Because we are still in touch, to this day I'm inspired not only by her words but also by her life.

This fall, Hannah's daycare teacher taught her to sign "Mommy's at work." It was pretty cute, I'm not gonna lie. But it was a little bittersweet for me. I'd love to be hugging and kissing her 24-7. And that little sentence means that I can't do that. But as she grows up, that statement will take on even more meaning. One day it will mean that she will know that when she grows up she won't have to choose between a meaningful job and an adorable family. That she can support herself or her family if she needs to. That she has choices and independence. I'm sure she could learn those with a stay at home mom. And who knows? Maybe she and Maggie will have a stay at home mom in the not too distant future? But for now, I'm just going to have to give extra hugs and kisses every moment I'm with my girls. And hope that they never question their ability to do anything.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Follow Up

**updated below**
Maggie had an rather uneventful follow-up appointment. We already knew her tests were normal. But it was nice to hear it officially.

On the way up to the doctors' office, we saw a little girl in a wheel chair. The kind that supports your head. Probably the kind that kids who have symptomatic infantile spasms would have to use when they got older. At first I wanted to reach out in some way. Tell them, I know I don't know what your life is like, but I know I've probably spent more time imagining it than most moms.

But then I remembered something I felt when I imagined Maggie getting a neurological diagnosis. There was this sense of anger that I didn't want other people looking at her and thinking, "thank God my kid isn't like that." In a way, they immediately would assume their kid was better than mine. No matter what, their kid "wins" because he doesn't need a wheelchair or have extra doctors and specialists to see. And it really pissed me off. I felt like, I'd just want to scream at people, "you don't even know my [hypothetical] kid! She is kind of awesome just the way she is. So back off!" I know parents wouldn't consciously be feeling smug or superior or writing my child off as "less than," but it certainly seems that way from a certain perspective.

I guess I'd never realized before how sympathy can feel so patronizing. How gratitude for what you don't have can look so ignorant. And the thing is, I am grateful for what I don't have. All the time. How can you not be? I'm grateful for weird and random things, like the fact that my kids don't need feeding tubes. Who is grateful for stuff like that?? I don't know. But you just hear from one coworker about their granddaughter who needs one and how can you not thank god that your kid can swallow just fine? I'm grateful that I can leave my kids with a babysitter who doesn't need medical training. I'm grateful we've never needed occupational or physical therapy for our kids. I still feel a sense of relief when Maggie reacts to loud noises or tracks objects with her eyes. I thank God almost every day that Hannah has never shown signs of autism. And I could go on and on.
I guess my point is, that I don't really have one. Except, I am very lucky that even though our lives are crazy right now and there is a little more shoe throwing in our house than I'd like, we have it pretty good. But I feel like the family I saw at the doctors' office feels the same way (maybe minus the shoe throwing). At least, I really hope they do.

**update** I saw this the other day and felt vindicated:

Don't cry for us, Argentina. When we tell people about our kids' disaiblities, they sometimes say things like "I'm sorry." Or "you poor thing." Or even, "I'm so lucky my kid is OK." There's no need to pity us when we have children who make us appreciate the small things in life, who show us how to love unconditionally, and find strength in ourselves that we never knew existed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My 12 Pound Albatross

I can't put this baby down. And not in a good way. Except for sometimes. She is rather cute. But this constant holding makes it hard to do things like eat and drink and work and sleep and clean....and I could go on.
Ms. M napping on my lap

Seriously, if I so much as walk towards the baby swing she will recoil in protest and start to make sad faces like she hates me for even thinking about it. If I put her down anyway, she cries and confirms her hatred. Not really. But sometimes. Kind of. And way, way, way more than Hannah ever did. That kid could happily sit in her swing for hours. Not that I'd leave her there. But I could, if I were that kind of mom (I'm looking at you, cast of Teen Mom on MTV).

I can't tell if I'm doing something wrong. Like did I miss some window of exposing babies to places other than my arms? Like how lactation consultants spread lies about nipple confusion and giving babies pacifiers or bottles too soon so they will never breastfeed again? Am I making up this aversion to not being held to satisfy some deep psychological need to never eat with two hands again?

I imagine Dr. Sears would say this is how you are supposed to be with a baby. To that I say: Dr. Sears, you are an unscientific misogynist, and I hate your whole family. There. I said it. (but not as eloquently as others.)

I'm sure one day she will be a teenager and she will hate me because I won't let her wear the trendiest thing that also happens to be a horrible idea for teenage girls. And I will look back on the days where she wanted to be held all day, and I will miss those days. So for you, future teenage daughter who is mad at me, I will try to ignore my strong need for another glass of water and the lack of sensation in my right leg while you sleep on my lap.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This Past Week

I noticed Maggie doing something strange before her two week check up. Strange even for newborns. I asked her doctor and she said to keep an eye on it but it's probably nothing.

I asked the doctor because I first Googled the symptom and was given horrible, terrible ideas. But with the doctor's permission, I brushed them off as best I could. Until it started happening again, only worse.

In my head, I begged her to stop. She was putting us in a difficult position. Either I was being dramatic and crazy or she was about to get a horrible prognosis. I brought it up with her doctor, asking if it was normal. The way she said "no...oh no" made me start to cry.

When Cork got home from work and I told him what I saw, what the doctor said, when the neurologists' appointments were, and what the internet said (basically the majority of babies who have these seizures stop developing and lose any developments they have made. The more I read, the more I reconsidered my fears of a Down Syndrome diagnosis after the 12 week ultrasound. I read about babies who basically stayed babies for the rest of their lives.)

And Cork said the most amazing thing (like always). As I choked up, finishing the explanation, Cork hugged me. And he said, "No matter what happens, we're not going to love her any less, right?" And of course he was right. And I realized, you have kids for a lot of reasons. But the main reason is to love them. And to help them be everything they can be. Even if "everything they can be" just means sitting up or holding their head up. And maybe Maggie and Hannah wouldn't be BFFs in quite the way I imagined. And a million other things I imagined wouldn't be. But the most important things would still be there. We'd still love her. And she would still be the best little Maggie she could be.

While we were waiting for the EEG my doctor scheduled for 48 long hours away, I searched every last inch of the internet for better answers. And oh sweet Jesus I found one. And I clung to it dearly for the full five day wait until the neurologist called us back with her test results. I Googled one of the differential diagnoses for Infantile Spasms (baby seizures), and saw a YouTube of a kid doing EXACTLY what Maggie was doing (which looked way too much like what the YouTube videos of babies with this seizure disorder were doing.) And this baby was doing it because she had severe infant reflux. REFLUX. Which she'd already been diagnosed with. I have never wanted to hug the internet so badly.

Maggie's brain waves were normal. I cried some more when the nurse gave me the news and then gave Maggie lots of hugs and kisses. The five-day wait wasn't as torturous as it would have been if I didn't have such an incredible husband and such amazing Googling skills. And it was an important lesson. Every word Hannah says, every skill she has mastered, I felt a renewed sense of gratitude for. And for both of my girls, I got a big reminder about how fragile life is and how lucky we are.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Or Just Two?

Looks like we hit the jackpot. According to this study mentioned in the NYTs parenting blog, two girls is the ideal combination of kids.

I know nothing about parenting boys, and only have 19 months experience parenting girls, but I do think our family is pretty perfect.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One Million Babies

Parenting is full of low moments. When your daughter refuses to let you take her diaper off, or put her pants on, or take her out of the car. When you were up all night. When you are covered in throw up and runny poop that doesn't belong to you (not that it would be much of an improvement if it were your own. But now I do fully appreciate how my parents used to tell me they wished they could be sick or hurt instead of me).

But somehow you still have these days were you are so in love with your little kids and with being a mommy that you wish it were some how financially and psychologically and physically possible to just have a ton of babies.

Maggie has gotten to the age where she smiles. And it reminds me of all the little things about Hannah being a baby that you can't capture in a "first moments" record. Like how happy and calm she'd get looking at mobiles. Watching Maggie's face light up just like her sister's would just makes me fall in love with Maggie even more and with Hannah all over again.

Friday, April 1, 2011

On Colic

Parenting a newborn with colic is what I imagine parenting a Gremlin would be like. Except without the benefit of any instructions. You get this cute little creature and what could possibly go wrong?! But then you do the baby equivalent of feeding Gizmo after midnight (But what?! Someone please tell me?! What did I do to deserve this?!) and your child morphs into this screaming baby-Gremlin. And every night you try desperately to keep the Gremlin at bay. You look wildly for a cause or a treatment. Swaddling, shushing, walking, nursing, all useless. Nothing could stop the progression from high-maintenance fussy to Oh Dear God, Nooooo! For those of you who dearly miss the analogy section of the old SATs: "The Happiest Baby on the Block" is to full on colic what piss is to a forest fire. "E" for effort, guys. But the forest fire hardly noticed. I mean shushing? Really? I think some of her crying fits gave me long term hearing damage. It's not really the kind of thing you can "shush" over.

Sure she looks cute now...

The whole thing is horribly stressful because I just imagine she is in pain or scared or stressed out and I am utterly powerless to help her (or prevent the long term damage it might be causing!). But then I read Your Fussy Baby where it says that brain waves during these fits are just like brain waves during Non-REM sleep. I choose to believe that this is just what an immature nervous system sometimes looks like when it is totally relaxed. It is like newborn meditation. So I just started tossing her in the K'tan carrier, putting on my head phones and taking her for a very late night walk. Yes, neighbors, I know it looks like a homeless person stole a baby. But trust me, everything is fine.

Bottom line, things got much better at around 6 weeks. And I think (hope) we're both gonna be alright.