Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Walking Along

We walked Ada home from day care the other day and I thought I'd be silly and walk on a board next to the sidewalk like it was a balance beam. Ada hadn't quite figured out how to walk the balance beam yet so I figured it was a good time to teach her. While I was up walking on the beam, Ada turned her head to watch me and walked straight into a very large tree. She fell and got right back up like nothing happened, intent on trying her luck on this new found beam. Her first few steps looked great, and then she started to tip toward the sidewalk. We thought she was going to rebalance herself but she caught us both off guard by failing to counteract her lean and falling over. Just like that she was on the ground wondering what happened. It was a foreign concept for her to have been attacked by the evil forces of gravity. Now it made more sense to me why she was always falling over. Luckily, she got back up and gladly took my hand to assist her future attempts down the beam.

Moral of the story: Be careful what behaviors you model for your children and know that gravity is always out to get you.

Shedding Like Crazy

I alone could supply twenty birds with enough hair balls to make expansive mcmansion nests. I mean serious nests with a separate wing for each egg. Post-pregnancy, something in my body changed and caused me to shed hair like crazy. Each time I wash my hair I create a hairball of enormous proportions, enough to clog many a drain. It might not be as noticeable or annoying for the average head of hair, but I have enough hair for four people which makes this a serious ordeal. It is kind of like having a golden retriever to clean up after without the benefit of his unconditional love. It wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't constantly picking hairballs up off the floor and stray hairs off my shirt. And if the hairs that fell down my shirt didn't tickle me. I'm trying to manage my mane by wearing constant ponytails, but if I forget my ponytail holder at home, I'm leaving a trail of hair wherever I roam.

Moral of the story: Consider sporting a hairdo that helps manage the shedding stage post-pregnancy so that you can focus on your newborn instead of constantly sweeping up hair.

Ada's Sleep Marathon

I never knew it was possible to sleep sixteen hours straight until Ada proved it could happen. I put her down for her afternoon nap on Friday and she didn't wake up until Rick went in the next morning to make sure she was alive. We checked on her several times to make sure she was breathing, and she was. Somehow she got into Doc's time machine and fast forwarded to being a teenager . I blamed it on her being sick and needing the rest to combat her cold. Whatever the reason, it was pretty amazing.

Moral of the story: Kids need their sleep. Do your best to provide an environment that fosters healthy sleep habits. And try not to ever wake a sleeping toddler.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Neighborly Play Dates

We have the best neighbors in Chicago. We often joke that we live in a real version of the show Melrose Place because we hang out together and keep an eye on one another. Last week, our neighbor Kelly stopped by to tell us about her trip to Baltimore to see a friend. It was right around lunch time when she appeared at our door. While she was here, we decided to invite our other neighbor Krissie over so we could all catch up at once. As the three of us were chatting in the kitchen, I rocked Iain to sleep while Ada danced on the floor in a pink sparklie hand-me-down dress that Kelly helped her put on. What started out as a little get together between a few neighbors, quickly became lunch while standing around to catch up. It was so nice to have good neighbors that we trusted who were willing to spend time with us and entertain our kids. Ada got credit for entertaining us all by sticking quarters to the bottoms of her feet and dancing around the kitchen as if they were tap shoes. She was beyond adorable.

The best part about these neighbors was how they understood kids. At Kelly's for lunch the next day, Ada threw up right on Kelly's dining room table. It wasn't what I hoped for, but Kelly and Krissie just rolled with it as they helped me clean everything up. Then Ada's diaper leaked and that didn't phase them at all either. They were living vicariously through me and learning from my experiences.

Later that week we had another impromptu playdate when Ada threw up on the couch and it was time for Iain's nap. I didn't have enough hands to bathe Ada, clean the couch, and rock Iain to sleep so I called in reinforcements in the form of our upstairs neighbor Krissie. She held Iain while I scrubbed Ada clean, and helped Ada get dressed while I put Iain down for his nap. Without her, I'm not sure how I would have managed.

Moral of the story: Get to know your neighbors who love kids. You never know when you'll need an extra pair of helping hands or a shoulder to cry on.

Doctor Drama

We have had the same doctoress for Ada and Iain their whole lives. I started out with a different doctoress who left the practice four years ago and our current doctoress took over from there. I never had more than one doctor growing up in a small town so it was a bit of a shock to learn that I needed a different doctoress to deliver my children. And when the hospital asked who Ada's pediatrician would be I just defaulted to my doctoress. I didn't know anything different. 

With all of Ada's colds and episodes of throwing up, which we now believed was reflux, I started to question our doctoress' skills as a pediatrician. I asked several friends about their experiences with their pediatricians and found a few recommendations. I really wasn't happy with how our doctor's office handled things administratively either so I was excited to switch things up.

Several friends recommended the same pediatrics office near our house so I called to get us in. My first attempt failed as they were booked and only took new patients for wellness visits. I toughed it out with our regular doctoress another month and then called back to make wellness appointments for both kids. I scheduled Iain a month in advance and ordered a copy of his medical records a week later. Rick faxed the request from his office and learned two weeks later that the fax didn't ever go through. He called to expedite the process and offered to pick up the copied records or have them faxed, but was told nothing could be done since the office used an outside copying service on Tuesdays. They assured him that if the records were copied that Tuesday, they would be mailed and likely arrive in time for Iain's appointment that Thursday. As the eternal optimist that I am, I hoped the medical records would magically appear in time, but they didn't and I had to cancel Iain's appointment. The receptionist at the new pediatrician's office rescheduled me for the following Monday morning at nine. Hoping the records arrived in Saturday's mail, I kept the appointment only to have to cancel it at nine-fifteen on Monday, since they didn't open until nine and they made it clear they wouldn't see Iain without his medical records. And he was sick on top of everything else so it wouldn't really have been a wellness visit anyway.

Two-and-a-half weeks passed before the records arrived in our mailbox. It turned out that they weren't ever copied the first time and then when they were finally copied the next week, they were sent to Atlanta for processing and mailed to me in Chicago from Atlanta. Seriously? Seriously. Because that must have been the most effective and efficient way to get this done. Obviously. 

When I called with the medical records in hand to get Iain rescheduled, the office manager started to give me a hard time and I was almost in tears. After all I had been through to get the medical records, she wasn't going to give me an appointment since I cancelled the two that they did give me previously. After explaining the situation, she squeezed me in and emphasised the need for me to be there early. I thanked her profusely and quickly found a friend to watch Ada so Iain and I could go.

Then a few mom friends recommended I try to get Ada tested for early childhood development intervention since her language skills were a bit delayed compared to her friends. We have been concerned about her communication skills for two years now but everyone told us it was due to her being so big and her body was busy growing. All of a sudden, it was urgent I got her checked out since the assistance program through the Chicago Public Schools stops when she turns three--which was in one month.

In speaking with two other moms who had been through this process, they suggested I call our doctoress, she would give me a referral, Ada would get evaluated and start therapy if needed. Easy right? Never. I called our doctoress and she wanted to evaluate Ada in person instead of giving us a referral. Why? I didn't know. She wasn't a childhood development expert. She clearly had no idea how much effort went into me getting the kids down to her office.

First, I made the appointment for four in the afternoon to maximize Ada's nap. I put her down at one-thirty and had to wake her up at three-thirty to get to the appointment on time. Both kids screamed as I got them into the car and drove to the doctoress' office--one major reason I wanted to change physicians was the proximity of the new peditricians' office since being able to walk to the doctor is a big benefit when your toddler suffered from motion sickness. The kids cried on and off until we arrived. We got into the exam room and the doctoress examined Ada to make sure her cold was completely gone, said she thought Ada did need speech therapy (shock), and didn't seem to know who to refer us to. She also forgot that we needed to get a hearing test to go with the referral until I mentioned that my mom was worried about Ada's hearing. She also didn't mention anything about Ada getting a flu shot while we were there, but thankfully her nurse did.

We walked out of there with referrals for three different speech therapy evaluation services, including the one my friends suggested that I had to specifically request since it was for low income families typically and I'm apparently too affluent for my doctoress to think I'd want to utilize the free services available to my child. Her lack of knowledge on the subject erased any doubts I had previously about switching doctors.

She really got me when she said, "Well, you have insurance that will cover this."
I said, "Yeah. But next year we are switching to an HSA."
And she replied, "What's that?"
I expected that my doctor knew what a Health Savings Account was and how it worked. It was, after all, a key component of how she got paid.

Once we left the office, I went to pick up my husband and our friend Bob from work downtown for a game night at our house. Two blocks from home, Ada got car sick and started throwing up in the back seat. Rick tried to catch it and just ended up with puke on his hands. Iain was screaming and Bob asked if he should just go home since we had our hands full.

I pulled over to unload the kids from the car and told Rick to get Ada since he was already covered in vomit. Bob offered to park the car and met us inside. Rick went to shake the vomit from his hands before he got Ada from the car and ended up shaking off his wedding ring. I heard it ping against the ground as it rolled through the dark past my feet on the sidewalk. My heart sank. Luckily, Rick found it next to the back tire of the car when he walked around to get Ada.

Bob parked and we got the kids cleaned up and settled down when Rick noticed the diamond from his ring was missing. We tried to find it on the sidewalk near the loading zone with no luck. It was gone.

To add insult to injury, once I get Ada's hearing tested and speech screened, they will send the results to her current doctor and...I'll have to have those new medical records sent to her new pediatrician.

Moral of the story: As soon as you get pregnant, start searching for a qualified pediatrician. Location, proximity, doctor's qualifications, responsiveness of the practice, tendency to medicate liberally or conservatively, and size of the practice should all be considered. Save yourself future headaches by getting it right the first time. 

Friday, November 12, 2010


This wasn't our most creative year for Halloween, but we've been kind of busy, and neither of the kids really understand what the holiday is all about so we just let it sneak by virtually unnoticed. We did coax Ada into dressing up like a cat. Her costume next year will have to be awesome to make up for the lameness of this one. She's really good at growling though so maybe she was a black panther instead of just a cat.

And Iain got lucky with a costume from a friend who wasn't big enough for it quite yet. Turns out being a four-month-old boy who wears nine to twelve-month clothing was a benefit in this case.

Moral of the story: Sometimes you just have to wing it when it comes to Halloween costumes and a busy schedule. Hopefully you're kids won't hold it against you when they get older.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Diaper Drama

The other day, we went to Costco to stock up on diapers and baby wipes. A box of size three diapers for Iain, a box of size five diapers for Ada, and a box of baby wipes to share cost us $100. I'd love to say that we didn't have to buy diapers and wipes and were using all cloth diapers and washcloths as wipes, but I can't. Our various babysitters prefer disposables, as does Ada's daycare. And when anyone in the house is sick, or tired, or stressed out, disposable diapers get used because they are just easier. They are a major convenience and until cloth diapers become convenient or easier in some way, that's just how it is going to be.

Last night, I was feeling guilty about all of the disposable diapers we have used with Iain lately. I lost track of where his diaper covers were over the weekend. I wasn't sure if the dirty diapers needed to be washed or what their status was. And we hadn't used the cloth diapers in a few days. We were in the middle of sleep training him via the "Cry it out" method and just didn't have the dedication to deal with cloth diapers. So after the nanny went home, I put Iain in a cloth diaper. That would normally be just fine since it was five o'clock. But he fell asleep at six and only woke up at nine for a little snack. He woke up a few times at night briefly to cry for a bit of attention, but we ignored him like the "Cry it out" method calls for and he went back to sleep every time.

You can imagine my surprise when I woke up at six in the morning and found him wet from head to toe. It made me doubt the whole "Cry it out" strategy. Now I want to modify our strategy to include stealth nighttime visits to check on him to be sure he isn't wet and hasn't pulled a blanket up over his head. To make myself feel better, I decided he was only wet like that for a little while, maybe an hour.

We are getting more sleep, or at least we anticipate getting more sleep now that we know that he doesn't really need to eat in the middle of the night. And I won't be putting Iain in cloth diapers past four in the afternoon. At least not until he has a set bedtime and I can add a doubler to his diaper that will prevent the mess we woke up to this morning.

Moral of the story: Cloth diapers take some serious dedication, patience, and a lack of easy access to disposables. And, using the "Cry it out" method to teach your child how to self soothe can really work if you are committed to it, but it is not easy.