Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How's Will?

We get asked this question a lot. That’s not so unusual; most parents get asked about their children. But we get asked about Will more than most, I suspect. Probably because Will was born with EA/TEF. Which means it’s been a busy couple of years.

So how is Will?

Well, he’s funny. Feisty. Loud, particularly when he doesn’t get what he wants. He scales furniture, jumps on beds, throws toy cars into dishwashers and screams when his sister won’t let him in her room. So pretty much your typical almost 2-year-old right?

Yes. And no.

When we first learned that Will might have TEF before he was born, we did all the research. And it looked like it was something that could be fixed. If you’re going to have a medical problem, it’s obviously better to have one that can be solved. So we would fix it and everything would be normal and we would move on with our lives.

Only after living with TEF for almost two years now, I have to say I’m not sure it is ever really truly “fixed.” True, we are fortunate that Will’s gap has held and he does not need a feeding tube. And he can eat most things, provided we chop it up well and convince him to drink as he eats. But there have been challenges.

This September, Will grabbed a piece of take-out food from his sister’s plate and ate it. Only it was not as diced-up as his food normally is and it got stuck. How stuck? Well, normally if he’s got a stuckie, we can usually convince him to take a sip of ginger ale, which tends to bring up the food. Or he brings it up himself by sticking his fingers down into his throat. This time, neither was working. He couldn’t even hold down any liquid. Time to call the surgeon.

Luckily, our surgeon was able to arrange for Will to come in on a Sunday to get the impacted food out and do a dilation of his esophagus at the same time. Not so luckily, he had a bad reaction to the anesthesia and wound up in the hospital for days, lethargic and sore, barely holding his head up. It took a while but he pulled through it and our feisty, crazy boy was back.

And then in December, he got what we assumed was a cold. However, anyone who has a TEF kid knows that colds are not to be underestimated. We spent a night with our hands on his chest, monitoring his respiratory rate, on the phone with doctors through the wee hours debating whether or not to take him to the emergency room. The next day, he seemed like he was getting better. And then he got worse. So we took him into the city to a better hospital (instead of going to the one five blocks away) so his pulmonolgist would be able to monitor him.

Will was diagnosed with paraflu, a strain of influenza not covered (of course) by his flu shot. He was on oxygen for a couple of days but luckily healed quickly. We had lovely nurses who did everything to make us feel comfortable but Will hated them all, giving them dirty looks and saying “bye bye” as soon as they entered the room.

So now it’s January, just at the start of cold and flu season (with everyone predicting it is going to be a bad one) trying to do everything in our power to keep the boy healthy. He gets Pulmicort twice a day as a precautionary measure and Atrovent when he’s coughing—which honestly he will do probably until May. Which means we’ll be getting dirty looks whenever we bring him out in public for months to come. I swear I should wear a shirt that says “No, he does not have whooping cough or croup or pneumonia. It’s his trachea, people. Honest.”

In the meantime, we wash our hands until they are raw, minimize our time in crowded places and refuse to let Will hang out in any more doctor waiting rooms (since we are convinced he picked up paraflu at the pediatrician’s office). Of course, Will isn’t exactly helping with our efforts since he finds it funny to lick things he shouldn’t. Like radiators. Walls. Windows. Garbage cans.

At least we know if he’s running around licking walls that he is probably feeling healthy. And we know that overall, given his condition, it could be a whole lot worse. There are people out there dealing with much more difficult health situations than we are so I don’t feel sorry for us. And I hope nobody else does either.

But this January 21st, when our wild boy turns two, we will toast him with something stronger than a juicebox. Because we’ve earned every single one of his 730 days on the planet. But then again, most things worth having in life take work. And Will is most certainly work—and absolutely worth it.

Happy 2nd birthday, big guy.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Twas the Night Before Passover

It's happened. I look back on this blog that I've been totally ignoring for six months and what do I see? Cute stories about my kids.

I am so so sorry.

You see....I didn't intend it for this purpose. I intended it to write about the Bachelor show (which I now dare they think women should compete for the types of guys you usually try to avoid in bars?) or to get on my soapbox about something. But lately, I am too tired to get on my soapbox. Hell, I don't even know where it is anymore.


Anyone want to hear a cute story about my kid? No? Okay. Stop reading. Catch you on the flip side.

But in case you do....

Tonight A. asks me the story of Passover. I thought she might remember a little something from seders past but apparently not. I told her the story of Purim, which she liked a lot since it involved a queen, a beauty contest, a king and a bad guy. And eventually, it involved cookies. Hard not to like a holiday like that.

But the Passover tale is different. It's harsh. Kind of scary. And really, when you think about it, ripe for to be made into a horror movie.

I tried to give her the Cliff notes version. Went something like this:

ME: So the Jews ran out of food in Israel so they went to Egypt to look for some.

A: Really? Why didn't they go to the grocery store?

ME: They didn't have them then. Anyway, they found food but then the Pharaoh AKA King turned them into slaves.

A: Slaves?

We then digress into a long unpleasant conversation about slavery. I start to try to touch on a bit of American history here but stop myself. I'm not about to tackle the Civil War tonight too...I will save this conversation for my dad the retired history teacher. Anyhow...

A: Um, when do we get to the princess part of the story?

ME: There is a princess, I think. She adopts Moses. He is really Jewish but the Pharoah doesn't know it so they become friends.

A. Is he smart?

ME: Yes. He helps lead the Jews out of Egpyt. But then the Pharoah changes his mind and tries to stop them. So Moses finds a way to fight back.

A: How?

Uh oh. It's about to get trippy now.

ME: Well, there are a bunch of plagues that they use to try to stop him.

A: What's a plague?

ME: A bad thing. Like hail.

A: Huh?

ME: Bad weather.

A: What else?

ME: Um. Pestilence.

A: Wha???

ME: Bugs. And then frogs. Raining down from the sky.

A: You are joking me. It can't rain frogs.

ME: How do you know?


A: What else?

ME: Um...the cows all got sick.

A: Well, that's sad. Anything else?

ME: Um....some stuff that you might think is kinda scary.

A: Tell me!

ME: Well, the water all turned to blood.

A: This is a good story, Mommy. More!!

ME: Well...

At this point, i am thinking about bedtime, the fact that the husband is at a business dinner and if she doesn't sleep, I will have no one to blame but myself.

A: Tell me!

ME: All right. They uh...killed the first born baby of each Egyptian family.

A: Whoa.

Me: Yeah.

A: That is scary.

Me: Yes. But it happened a long time ago. So don't worry.

A: I'm not worried. I'm already five so I'm safe.

Me: True.

We went into the rest of the story. She was impressed with the whole parting of the Red Sea in particular. Then a little while later, it was bedtime. Uh oh.

And then plagues started raining down on me. Sing 'em with me folks.

Tears. Screaming. Freaking out. Whimpering. Whining. Interrupting the sleep of the second born.

ME: What can I do to make you feel better?

She feebly points to a magazine on the nightstand. I am not proud to say what it is. Us Weekly. With a Kardashian on the cover. Sigh. And then I hand it over. A proud parenting moment, I must say.

Less than five minutes later, she is asleep. With visions of reality tv stars dancing in her head.

Happy Passover, friends. I'm off to make nut-free charoset.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Creepy, Kooky,Mysterious and Spooky

There's something about October. And I've always kind of liked it.

The wind is always just a little bit eerie. Everything just a touch greyer. Except for an occasional spot of orange pumpkin on a brownstone.

But this year? I'm so over October.

Why did I ever think this month was the best one ever? It's the start of cold-and-flu season and never-ending coughing. The start of mice-looking-to-warm-up-and-get-in-your-apartment season. And now this weekend, it's going to snow. Seriously. The nerve of snow to show itself before November! Totally rude.

What next?

Ghost talk.

Yes. It has happened. A. has asked me if I believe in ghosts.

Now. You might think the best and easiest way to end this conversation would be to say "no such thing as ghosts." Only...who am I to say there aren't? Lots of reasonably intelligent people have had ghostly encounters. I have had one or two questionable ones. And let's be honest...if the ghost we are talking about is a deceased loved one, then maybe we want there to be ghosts after all. I personally would like to think there are one or two of them hanging around looking after us.

You think ghosts might like to babysit?

Anyway, I've had two questionable ghostly encounters. Here's one. Years ago, the husband and I were staying at a very remote inn in Scotland. Neither of us slept a wink that night. He had gotten attacked by midgies (little Scottish bugs)and was in the midst of a miserable allergy attack. I kept hearing strange noise like someone pacing in the hallway. But every time I opened the door to check, no one was there. Husband said "old building." I said "ghost." I mean, if you were a ghost, wouldn't you totally pick Scotland for haunting? Nice and gloomy.

And of course, I googled the inn once we got home and sure enough it did have a resident ghost. Hmmmm. Though when I googled some more, it seemed like pretty much every building in Scotland claimed to have one. Maybe it's good for tourism.

So. When A. asked me if there were really ghosts I said "some people think so." When her eyes widened, I said "but probably not."

So what do you think? It's almost Halloween. Tell me your creepiest, kookiest ghost tale. What have you got?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yay for boobies

If you are male and the title of this blog post excited you, you may want to stop reading right now. I'm serious. Stop. Right. Now. It's not what you think. It's not sexy. I promise.

Oh well. You've been warned.

Never in my life have I thought so much about my boobs. Not because they are so amazingly fabulous. But because I am breast feeding. And therefore as a working mom, always pumping. If I am not pumping, I am thinking about when I need to pump next. And where I can do it. And how I can keep it cold.

So you see, I am a bit obsessed.

This was especially apparent on my first business trip since going back to work after maternity leave. What made it especially challenging? I forgot the battery pack to my pump...meaning anywhere I had to pump, I had to plug it in. Nightmare.

This meant that while I thought I might wind up pumping in the airplane bathroom, I did not. Instead, I just stared at myself in the bathroom mirror, watching my boobs swell up like Pamela Anderson. I had to wait until I was back to the hotel for a marathon pumping session while watching a marathon of Sister Wives. Strangely addictive and horrifying at the same time.

Luckily, most of my time on the trip was spent at casting sessions, where I could excuse myself to pump in a very clean and tidy bathroom. Unfortunately, this also meant I kind of had to take over the bathroom for about a half hour, which meant everyone knew what I was up to. More talking about my boobs. I was starting to bore myself.

In case you are wondering, pumping itself can get pretty damn boring. Sometimes I talk on the phone while doing it or go on the computer. I read. I write. Other times, I do exercises. Yeah. I do. Standing up while pumping. You can totally do plies. Squats. Whatever. If I am stuck in a bathroom, it is better than staring at myself in the mirror since I will inevitably spot a new gray hair. Which makes me wonder if I am too old to have a new baby (too late!) and too old to be pumping. But still. Pump I do.

I can't help it; the boy is eight months old and still loves it. Our girl was never a super big fan of it and pretty much gave it up at around nine months. The boy, however, loves it. I would say that is one of his main hobbies in life. It's good for him. It's good for me. So this is why I do what I do.

Plus did I mention it burns a ton of calories?

Worst place I have pumped since going back to work? Probably in an Amtrak train bathroom that hadn't been cleaned in about 50 years. Worst experience? Being walked in on at the office while doing it (should have locked the damn door and he was more horrified than I was). A sign that I no longer give a crap about modesty? Allowing other people in my office while doing it (I was totally covered up and it was only once and the sound was pretty much humiliating for everyone and no, I don't recommend it).

As I type this, I'm sitting on an airplane, counting the minutes until I get home and don't have to pump. When I can feed a real live baby. So I can retire the pump for a day or two. I'm starting to feel like it's my boyfriend, which is not a good sign.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In case you're wondering...

It's pretty much impossible to feel cool when you're walking around with breast pump parts.

Not that my goal in life is to be cool. At all. However, I do work in an industry where you don't want to be a complete dork. Unless you're doing it ironically, of course.

And carrying your breast pump parts to the kitchen to clean them well, nothing ironic about that.

Just embarrassing.

That is all.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Living the wild life in Brooklyn

I don't like critters. Sorry my vegetarian friends. But I don't. So sue me.

That's why I chose to live in a city environment. Too many snakes and frogs and lizards in Florida for my liking. And in college, too many random gators. Yes, I know, ha, ha...I went to University of Florida, what could I expect. But seriously, the campus was crawling with the real ones. Anyone else remember the baby gator living in the pond by the student union? And I never understood why anyone went on romantic walks around Lake romantic would it be if you stepped on an alligator? No thank you.

I realized once I got to the city that it has its own share of wildlife. Namely, the dreaded mice. When I first got here, I stayed in the NYU dorms where they had so many of them, you literally had to step over them. Then there was that mouse I accidentally toasted in our apartment over on 14th Street. After that, I thought it was a good idea to get a cat. It was. Didn't see any mice for about a dozen years.

But mice are nothing compared to raccoons, as it turns out.

So we have a lovely roofdeck that's perfect for watching the sunset on summer evenings. One night, A. went upstairs with a popsicle, my husband and my sister's boyfriend. She came running downstairs, claiming to see a raccoon. Ha, ha, I said.
Really, she insisted. My sister's boyfriend snapped a picture to prove it. We figured it was just lost. Visiting. Wouldn't happen again.

The next day my husband went upstairs to check on the roof deck. Our raccoon friend had apparently invited a few friends over. They were taking a sunbath. These tough Brooklyn raccoons saw my husband and basically gave him the finger.

Our neighbor went upstairs to check out the situation and snapped a photo of one of the raccoons in our chimney. You know. Making itself right at home.

A: I think raccoons are cute. I'm glad we have a new pet.

ME: This is not a pet. This is a dangerous animal.

A: No, it's not. SHE POINTS TO A PAGE IN HER SNOW WHITE BOOK. Look. This raccoon helped Snow White.

ME: Snow White's an idiot. She took a poisoned apple from a witch. Please don't try to pet the raccoon.


This is followed by an eye roll. Awesome. Love those eyerolls.

It was time to call in the big guns. A trapper. Of course, this is NYC and everyone is trying to make a buck. All the trappers know that the city folk cannot possibly handle something like this themselves. Heck, we can't even carry our own can we be expected to catch a wild beast? You'd be surprised the numbers I was quoted. Our fellow coop neighbor found the cheapest guy in town. Mike the Trapper. He placed and baited the traps. And lo and behold, the first night out, he caught something.

He came the next day to pick up the raccoon. I wasn't sure what to expect. A big strapping guy in a plaid shirt, perhaps? He would most certainly have a beard. Don't all trappers have beards?

Instead, a little old guy came huffing and puffing up our steps.

MIKE THE TRAPPER: You need an elevator.

ME: Yes. I know.

I was a bit worried Mike the Trapper was going to collapse.

MIKE THE TRAPPER: You're pretty. You Italian?

ME: No. Sorry.

MIKE THE TRAPPER: Too bad. You're almost pretty enough to be Italian.

Now what is the proper response to this?

ME: Let's go get the raccoon.

We went upstairs. The metal trap was moving around on the roofdeck. Inside, a 20 pound beast was thrashing around, teeth bared. Mike the Trapper looked terrified.


He picked up the trap by the handle.

ME:'re not going to open that thing are you?

The raccoon growled.

MIKE THE TRAPPER: Well, I guess I shouldn't release it.

ME: Definitely not.

The raccoon was now trying to pick the lock open with its teeth.

ME: Maybe you should bring it downstairs.

Mike picked it up. The raccoon continued to hiss and spit and basically act like Linda Blair. This guy wasn't going down without a fight.

MIKE THE TRAPPER: I think it might be rabid.

ME: Okay, then. Let's get it out of here.

MIKE THE TRAPPER: Lots of raccoons around here. And bats.

At this point, we are near our apartment. A. poked her head out.

A: I want to see the raccoon.

ME: No.

A: Can we visit it at the park sometime?

ME: Maybe.

MIKE THE TRAPPER: I'll be back tomorrow with more traps. Are you sure you aren't Italian?

Still not Italian. Still hate critters.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Food for thought

So there's this scene in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that always sticks out in my mind. It's where Santa has lost his appetite for some reason and Mrs. Claus is saying "eat, Papa, eat!" in a very distinct way that truthfully always reminded me of Goldie in Fiddler on the Roof. Was Mrs. Claus supposed to be Jewish? Or was this some Hollywood writer's clever way of letting you know who was writing the script?

In any case, I know it is a complete stereotype to say that a Jewish mom always wants to feed her kids. I hate to perpetuate this kind of thing. But for me, it is true. When A. started eating for the very first time, I loved the way her mouth sounded as she enjoyed all the new tastes. I have no idea why. I still love that she loves food; really, I have never seen anyone take such great pleasure in olives or sushi or chocolate chip cookies as she does.

And now there is Baby Boy.

If you read this blog at all you know that he was born with an esophagus connection problem that made the start of his life really challenging. Since then, he had to go back to the hospital once to have his esophagus dilated. This made it not quite so narrow and made feeding him sooooo much better. He loves to eat and literally smacks his lips when I come in the room. Baby Boy is so happy and smiley you'd never guess what the first eight weeks of his life were like.

And then one day, it happened. He stole a French fly off Daddy's plate.

Don't worry, he didn't eat it. But it was pretty clear the boy was ready to eat. Our pediatrician wanted him to start slowly so his six-month birthday came and went without any baby cereal or baby food. Although I will admit to giving him a taste of popsicle. He loved it so much, I felt terrible for not letting him finish it. The thing is, his breathing started to sound "wet"...which is something that usually lets us know he isn't swallowing the way he should. So I pulled it away and he yelled at me like well, a baby. He's not much of a yeller either so I knew he was ticked.

Yesterday, we got the thumbs up to feed him baby food. So last night, he got his first taste of pureed sweet potatoes...made even thinner with milk. Just a few teaspoonfuls but man, he loved it. He ate it really neatly too, as though he was not going to waste a drop.

We sat and listened and made sure everything went down the way it should. It's different with him; while I don't want to think of food as the enemy, there is still a chance that at some point in his life, the food will get stuck and we will wind up back in the hospital. This is pretty common with guys like him.

I still love the little noise his mouth makes.

I just want him to love to eat like the way his sister does. He completely deserves it.

Tonight's menu....avocado. As Mrs. Claus would say, eat, baby, eat.