/ The RE's Muse: March 2006

The RE's Muse

After 4 years of infertility, 2 surgeries, 1 miscarriage, and 19 months of high risk pregnancies, hubby and I now have two little women in our lives--one a toddler, the other not far behind. Buckle your seatbelts, it's gonna be a wild ride.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A hot spring day

...found us at a popular west coast beach a few hours from our side of the state.

To say that J thoroughly enjoyed the sand would be an understatement...and, apparently, it tastes good too. First she dug her hands into the sand, repeatedly scooping up, clenching, and unclenching handfuls of the powdery goodness. She soon found a shell, gnawed on it and got a nice amount of sand in her mouth. The funniest thing was how she licked the sand from her palms after we took the shell away...yum, good.

I think the best part of this crazy ride is seeing new experiences through her eyes and how she interacts with the world around her.

Sometimes I wonder if we should even try to have another baby. How can I possibly love a second child as much as I love this one? I know it's possible but it just seems impossible to me...and for me.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Her growing, me shrinking

So earlier this week, our little miss had her 9-month check up with the ped. She was weighed, measured, vaccinated, and palpated. The verdict? Height and weight, both in the 50th percentile, head circumference 25th percentile--all 3 right on track with where she's been all along. All good. My petite flower is 27 1/2 inches long and a mere 18 pounds and change. Above is a shot of her as daddy hoists her up in all her glory on her 9-month "b'day" this past weekend.

She also had her follow up with the plastic surgeon this past week, who is very pleased with her (slow) progress courtesy of the PT. Her eye asymmetry has improved nicely and is usually barely noticeable unless she's tired. She'll go back in 3 months for another follow-up and to see where we go from there (perhaps b0t0x, perhaps not). He said her head tilt is rather slight in the grand scheme of things so who knows? Of course, when it's your child and there's someting "off," it looks huge to you but, per the doctor, it's really not all that bad...meaning she may not, in fact, be a candidate for the (last resort) surgery to lengthen her SCM muscle but we'll see with time.

I also made an appointment for her to see a specialist down at the regional children's hospital (about 2 or so hours from me) about this like some of your kind ladies had suggested. Again, thank you for that :-)

So that's about all. Things here are doing good and I can't complain. Hell, I even resumed my sugar-free lifestyle (yes, that also means very little carbs) like my RE had me take up three years ago (which I had to give up when I got pregnant). It was what took 45 pounds off of me, and kept it off, until I got knocked up.

I figured it was time to start eating healthy again and take this weight off/keep it off. Two weeks back into the swing of things and I'm down a little over 10 pounds and I feel great again physically (I forgot how tired and generally blah I am with sugar in me). Back down to fighting weight by June, I hope. Just in time for J's first b'day party (I've already started planning) and also for a mini-vacation in our state's party playground: Key West. It's been a while since our last trip there--one that holds pleasant memories for me as my uterus (formerly a barren dry place where no sperm dared to grab a toehold) was busy implanting J's predecessor that very weekend (my period was officially late; I tested the day we returned home and saw 2 lines). The time spent there was memorable for the possibilities it held--which is kind of hard to explain really.

(Of course, that pg didn't make it but that doesn't make that time in KW less special for me.) I'm looking forward to going back. I think I fell in love with the island and its charms all over again during those four days in 2004.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A four year journey...

ended when you expanded our family to three exactly nine months ago today. Happy three- quarter birthday little one.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Another milestone...well, not really

Oh, last night was one for the Dee family annals.

The littlest person among us did not want to go to bed at her usual time so daddy was playing with her, trying to tire her out.

Toss, tickle, toss, tickle...up and down went the little J, until I heard A call my name and ask, in a muffled voice, for "a little help here."

And what do I turn to see? A's face, covered in copious amounts of baby vomit--nice and yellow from the mango she had as dessert at dinnertime--from his mouth, across his right cheek to his right ear--in his right ear--in his hair, on his shirt, on the couch pillow behind him. etc.

I about peed myself laughing so hard. I guess that's what one gets for tossing about a wee little person two hours after that person ate dinner, and about a half-hour after that person also had her bedtime bottle.

Whoo boy, I guess you had to be there but it was dang funny. And it was also the first time she's puked on either one of us (glad A was the first to get the honors)--so it appears we hit another milestone, though this one not so highly touted. Now I guess we've gotta change our Dee house safety sign, gone is:

270-odd days without a projectile vomiting incident.

In it's place is:

1 day without a projectile vomiting incident.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I may never rest again

Tonight, the little miss stood up all by herself for the very first time. She's been pulling up on everything in sight to stand up these past few weeks but this, this was poetry in motion. She was taking her bath, playing with her toys, all was tubtime status quo. Out of nowhere, she simply rocked forward onto her feet and slowly but surely stood up, all while viciously chewing (hello, teeth? um, anyday now...really, it's safe to come out, promise) her rubber ducky.

The good folks at "school" and her physical therapist predict she'll be up and walking in the next month tops. Which means that life as I knew it, i.e., sitting on my soft arse on the couch on a regular basis, will soon come to a screeching halt.

Aye, it was a good run while it lasted.

Friday, March 03, 2006

That which has not been named

(Disclaimer: This post, she is a long one. If you're up to it, pull up a chair, bring a drink--poison of your choice, and join me.)

Most mornings, I wake up and get the baby ready for 'school,' and think to myself that this life I live is a pretty good one. The weather here lately has been exceptionally lovely (read not too damn humid or hot) which I think adds to my rose-colored glasses take on life at this particular junction.

But then, then there is the bad, that which I do not speak of in this space, that which I keep bottled up inside, quietly eating away at me. But I think the time has come to share it because it worries me and perhaps it'll do me some good to get it all on the outside, instead of all pent up in my head.

You see, J has this minor physical anomaly, CMT, that she was born with. Now, in the grand scheme of things, it's not horribly deforming or debilitating, but as a mother, well, you scrutinize your child for every little thing and anything that deviates from what society perceives as 'normal' is cause for concern.

So several days after J was born, A and I both noticed a small palpable mass on the side of her neck. We brought it up to the one pediatrician we saw most in those early weeks at the practice. Ah, it's nothing, he assured us. A branchial cleft cyst, a vestige from the embryonic stage, something we will remove after she's a year or so old in a simple outpatient procedure. We were reassured (to a degree) and moved on.

Fast forward a few months, okay, more like 3, and we had noticed that J kept her head turned to her left and tilted to the right A LOT. And that one of her eyes was the slightest bit asymmetrical to the other, and that a portion of the back of her head was slightly flat (plagiocephalic). But when I would bring these things up at the pediatrician's office, I was reassured by the original doc that it was probably nothing.

But something still didn't seem right. The head turn continued as did the eye asymmetry. So I started pushing. I asked if we could have the ultrasound done on her neck in preparation for the procedure in the months to come. Oddly though, in that time, A and I had noticed that the mass had all but disappeared from her neck. And then it didn't show up on the ultrasound...or rather the u/s was inconclusive.

Fast forward about another 2 months, and we're seeing a different partner at the pediatrician's practice, one who takes one look at J, asks if we noticed that she favored her head to one side and also kept it tilted. We responded that we had. Hmmm, that doc said, she's got [congenital muscular] torticollis.** Bingo presto, a diagnosis and then a plan of action.

J started weekly physical therapy immediately. We also went to see a pediatric opthalmologist to make sure J's eyes were okay and not the reason for the torticollis (they weren't). And we then saw a pediatric plastic surgeon to discuss putting J in a D0cBand (a helmet-like device) to correct the slight flatness and asymmetry but he determined that her deviation from the norm was so slight that the band wasn't necessary. He did prescribe an innocuous collar for her to wear while at home in hopes it would alleviate the head tilt.

Now, almost 4 months later, the collar does nothing to alleviate the tilt so we've stopped making her wear it. We started craniosacral therapy in early January (which, in all honesty, is a little new-agey for me) and we've continued the PT, but while the head turn has been corrected, the tilt has not.

This week, the physical therapist told me that J's case is one of the more severe ones she's seen and that she doesn't think the PT will alleviate the tilt at all. She mentioned the possibility of surgery to cut out the fibrotic muscle tissue in J's sternocleidomastoid muscle, followed by a certain cut to the muscle to elongate it. She also mentioned a fairly new procedure (one the pediatric plastic surgeon had also mentioned in passing) of injecting b0t0x into the muscle to paralyze it, thereby eliminating the signal to J's brain to tense and tighten the muscle, allowing it to stretch and--bam--end of the tilt. Or so we'd hope, yet the b0t0x is not a permanent fix as it only lasts for a few months until the next dose.

But who knows....

We follow up with the plastic surgeon later this month...should be interesting. And damn if I'm not scared of the options. Yes, I know that there are worse things J could have. I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing. But damnit, to know that something's wrong with her, something that it's going to hurt her to have fixed, it kills me a little bit inside.

So I'm not the Pollyanna I make myself out to be. We have this troubling "secret" in the Dee house. One that clouds my days. One that I've shared here in an attempt to unburden my fear and worry. One that is small in comparison to the problems so many others--both children and adults--face, but that is huge to me and to one very small girl in my family.

And it doesn't help me knowing that the torticollis came from either one of two factors--1) malpositioning in utero; or 2) a traumatic delivery (i.e., forceps, breech, etc., and well, you my lovelies may recall that it was the giant salad tongs from hell that brought her physically into this world). J was also face up at birth--something that I keep wondering why no one realized before I was induced. Sunnyside up babies are usually cause for c-section. I had been having weekly stress tests (and biophysical profiles & ultrasounds with all 8 of the 10 failed stress tests). Hell, I had one done a mere two days before I was induced. Would J not have gotten torticollis had they given me a c-section? We'll never know, but now A and I are left to deal with the outcome. And I just want this chapter of her story to have a happy ending. That's all I want...I hope it's not too much to ask for.

**It is thought that congenital muscular torticollis, or CMT, comes to be by way of an injury (through malpositioning or traumatic birth) to the sternocleidomastoid muscle in an infant's neck. The trauma causes a hematoma (the palpable mass we saw early on on J's neck). While the muscle reabsorbs the blood and damaged tissue in time, it leaves behind scar tissue. It is this scar tissue that tightens the muscle (because scar tissue has no elasticity) and causes the muscle to shorten, hence the head turn and tilt.

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