The flu and death strike against me in tandem

Nobody in my family died from the flu – thank goodness. This post is about the flu that my daughter contracted (as well as every other kid in her daycare, literally). It’s also about the death of my grandmother, and the spread of said flu to everyone in my family as we gathered over our loss.

First, let me say something about my grandmother (because I’m going to get whiney and focused on my own problems soon). She was an amazing woman. She lived to be 95, and was more or less healthy up until the end. She liked to do adventurous things on her birthdays. When she turned 92, she rode on the back of my uncle’s motorcycle to Port Dover for the annual Friday the 13th motorcycle rally. When she turned 94, she did the CN Tower walk (leaning backwards, in a harness, over the edge of the CN Tower, 1168 feet above the ground), and on her 95th birthday she went zip lining at Canada’s longest series of zip lines. My grandmother was the only grandparent I came out to, and she was always incredibly supportive of my sexual orientation and loved my wife. She was also my only grandparent who lived long enough to meet my daughter. She will be missed, but when I think about her now I don’t feel sad – I feel happy for her that she had such an amazing, adventure-filled life, and I feel lucky to have been related to such an amazing woman.

Now on to how the flu attacked my entire family. It’s unknown whether my wife or my daughter caught it first, but Avery’s symptoms only revealed themselves when I was visiting my grieving family on Thursday through Saturday. My parents were hoping I could help sort through my grandmother’s apartment, but Avery became absolutely miserable, tired, lots of snot and a cough, not interested in eating, had diarrhea, and a fever. I stayed alone with her at my mom’s completely un-baby-proofed house (wine glasses, crystal decanters, poisonous plants, a hot fireplace, and an open stairwell all within toddler limits). It was exhausting. My heart always breaks for my baby when she’s sick, and it was exhausting to have to keep saying no to the things she couldn’t get into when the resulting tantrums were equal parts angry and pitifully sick sounding.

I spent one night sitting upright with her to help her breathe. She was utterly miserable. Back home, my wife was just as sick, and had no one to take care of her.

On the day I left my mom’s house, myself, my mom, and my dad were all sick too. My wife was still so sick when I got home that she spent 3 hours holed up in bed while I continued to solo parent a sick toddler while I got progressively sicker. It sucked.

Yesterday we thought she MIGHT be starting to feel better, but she broke out in a full body rash that we feared was the measles. We took her to the doctor today and it turnes out it was a post-viral rash.

This is good news. It means the virus is gone, and she is on the mend and no longer contagious. Tomorrow she is going to daycare and my wife is going to work. I am going to take the morning off and sit on the couch with a pot of tea and fucking relax.

It’s going to be great.

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Kids are dying from the flu in our town

It’s making the breaking news headlines today. Two children have so far been confirmed to have died of the flu, and both while in school.
*edit a week later to say that the first news article was misinformed – both children were taken from school to the emergency room where they passed away. One of the children (only 7 years old) had cerebral palsy, the other (12 years old) had no reported pre-existing condition to put them at higher risk.

My heart is absolutely breaking for the parents of these children. I know that kids die all over the world every day, and that is tragic, too, but I can’t bury my head in the sand and avoid thinking about these deaths. They’re happening in my town. My small-to-midsized town where we know our neighbours and our community members.

The details of these deaths haven’t been released yet, but I am terrified and clinging extra tight to my also sick baby. At least two kids at Avery’s daycare have had the flu since last week. One was pulled out of school and taken to the emergcy room on Wednesday.

Avery has a yucky cold again, and she also has a stomach bug. I hadn’t thought it was the flu because she didn’t have a fever and she hadn’t vomited. I blamed her diarrhea on teething. But now I’m extra vigilant.

How could these kids have been well enough to be at school, and then just die, without even making it to the hospital? How can it come out of the blue like this? I’m so unsettled.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 30

My blogging challenge has come to a close. I’ve loved writing for 30 days straight, and I’ve learned a lot about what’s most important/pressing to me in life by what I’ve chosen to recount. Lots about sleep and breastfeeding, not surprisingly. That’s mostly what you get from me if you follow my blog! That, and a spattering of chicken talk and pics of homemade bread.

Tonight I’m going to write about something we haven’t been plagued with in quite a while – teething. Avery has started teething her 2-year molars. Last night she woke up at 1:30am crying (which she hasn’t been doing for the past couple of weeks – she wakes and asks calmly for me to come in and give her milk). This time she was inconsolable. I tried offering milk, I tried cuddling her, I tried bringing her back to our bed, but she wasn’t having any of it. I tried taking her downstairs to watch tv but we have a basement tenant and she was still crying downstairs, so I figured that wasn’t a sustainable option. Finally at 2:15am we put on Moana in our bedroom. She fell asleep cuddled into me watching her favourite movie. It was so adorable.

This morning she felt hot to touch, but didn’t have a fever. Her cheeks were red. She wouldn’t take her fingers out of the back of her mouth. She barely touched breakfast, snack, or lunch. Advil was a game changer – clearly she was feeling pain.

Although we can’t see swelling at the gums, it’s hard to see back there, and the teeth could be moving down but not at the edges of the gums yet. I’m 99% sure that teething is on the table. I hope they come soon, but I’ve heard that the 2-year molars can take a long time to work their way down. It’s also kind of shocking to think that my little baby is working on the last baby teeth she will ever grow…

30 Days of Blogging, Day 9

It’s cold again. It’s supposed to go down to  -20°C again tonight, and it’s icy and snowy outside. It’s the kind of weather for family cuddles. The kind of weather where I miss bed sharing with my baby. 

And when your baby has another nasty cough and cold and has to choose whether to breathe through her mouth and trigger more coughing, or breathe through her nose and not get enough air to her lungs, it’s really, really hard to withhold nighttime nursing. Nursing is the throat soothing cure-all that helps her sleep through anything. 

So about that night weaning we started… the night weaning has gone out the window during my shift. While my wife is on call for nighttime wakings (from bedtime till 1am), Avery goes back to sleep with nothing more than my wife poking her head through the doorway and saying “go back to sleep.” During my shift, I’ve started nursing her again. It’s how she sleeps well through being sick. It’s the only way to get her back to sleep during her bouts of middle-of-the-night insomnia (even during my wife’s shift). 

So weaning is a discussion topic for another day (or month, or year….).

On a related note, Avery LOVES peppermint tea. It’s just a dried mint leaf from our garden steeped in hot water. And when she’s sick, a little dollop of honey is a great throat soother. 

Avery’s first emergency room visit 

We hadn’t visited the hospital since August last year, and that time we left with a brand new baby. Yesterday, we were there for a less joyous reason. 

I was making Avery lunch when I heard the smash from behind me. She had broken one of the cat’s ceramic dishes. Before I could get over to her to pick up the pieces, I saw her hand go to her mouth and pop something in. Shards. Shards of broken ceramic. I immediately fished them out with my finger, but then she started coughing and I feared she had swallowed one. I couldn’t be sure if any were missing because the break was messy and in many small pieces. I called telehealth and they told me to take her to the ER for x rays. 

It’s amazing how your day can turn from good to bad so quickly… We had a fun morning, she was about to sit down to lunch, and then BAM, mommy’s in a panic and rushing off to the hospital. 

My wife works across the street from the hospital, so she met us there. Avery was in really good spirits (and stayed that way for the whole time… what a trooper), but I was eager to figure out just how serious this was. My worst fear was that she would perforate her gut on a shard.

When we saw the first nurse, she told us a story about how her own infant daughter had swallowed the tine of a plastic fork. She said she rushed to her doctor in a panic and her doctor laughed at her – “this happens all the time,” he said, “kids swallow things and they pass things.” This nurse’s story reassured my wife and I A LOT. But we were still referred on to a doctor who would order x rays, just in case. 

Eventually my wife went back to work for a while because the wait was dragging on. We waited 3 hours to see a doctor, and another half hour to get in for the x ray. My wife had made it back by then because the work day was over, and she went into the x ray room with Avery while I waited outside. OMG the crying… I had to leave the waiting area and walk up the hall because the sound of her wailing on the other side of that door was too much for me. The x ray itself was quick and painless, but she was scared. She was strapped into a high chair type of apparatus, and my wife had to hold her arms straight up in the air. She resisted, and my wife had to pull up harder, which scared her. When it was finally over I held her as she worked out the rest of her sobs on my shoulder. 

The doctor saw us shortly after to go over the results of the x ray. They had done an upper chest x ray to look in the lungs for any obstruction or foreign object. Apparently if she had swallowed it it would have passed on its own. But if she had inhaled one, it could cause major problems in her lung. Nothing showed up on the x ray. But then he said, “of course ceramic wouldn’t show up on an x ray anyway, so just watch for signs of infection.” Umm, why the hell would you put us through all of this if you knew ceramic wouldn’t show up on an x ray?? Hospital procedure, that’s why. A kid comes in having possibly aspirated something, they have to x ray. He told us a story of a kid who had chronic asthma, and after a chest x ray they found a tiny plastic brontosaurus in his lung that the parents hadn’t seen in years. They have precedent, and have to check to be safe. 

Anyway, Avery made it through her first ER experience unscathed, and we are 99.9% sure everything is fine. We couldn’t have asked for better circumstances behind our first ER visit, that’s for sure. She was happy and feeling good, the risk of her being not OK was low, the procedure was quick and painless… Let’s hope it’s a long, long time before we have to step foot in a hospital again.

Taking her afternoon nap in the hospital waiting room

Four Pillars of a Bad Night’s Sleep

Avery is sick. She is teething. She seems to be going through the 8 month sleep regression, and the 3-to-2 per day nap transition. We haven’t slept in days. 

The Sick

I think she must have gotten sick from the Tylenol dropper… Is that possible? We gave it to her last time she was sick, and let her suck on the dropper. In a tired haze, I put it back in the bottle without washing it. Last week we used the Tylenol again for a bad bout of teething. Now she is a Cranky Pants Sicky McGee. Her nose is a faucet and she wakes every 15 minutes because she can’t breathe/is uncomfortable. She’s in our bed again for the duration of the cold, but I spend most of the night sitting up with her because being upright helps her breathing. 

The Teething

She has been working on FIVE new teeth and two have fully broken through in the time she’s been sick. Her upper central incisors have been black and blue with bruising and one has finally come through, one upper lateral incisor has cut through and for once doesn’t seem to be receding back into the gum again, and I can see white points under the gums at both lower lateral incisors. 

The 8 Month Sleep Regression 

Before she got sick (for about a week and a half now) she started getting harder to put down in the crib again. Our 15 minute bedtime routine has returned to a 2 hour bedtime routine and I have once again lost my evenings. She wakes every 45 minutes again. We’ve been surviving and waiting for it to pass, but with the sick/teething drama it’s been harder to deal with. 

The Nap Transition 

Avery has always been a high sleep needs baby, and she has also always been a good daytime napper (although I’ve always let her nap in the Moby Wrap or on the boob). She had been on a great schedule for a couple of months: 8-9, 11:30-1:30, and 4-5. I think she’s showing signs of being ready to transition to 2 naps a day. The signs are: skipping naps entirely despite us spending an hour just laying in the dark at each scheduled nap time; shorter naps, from 1-2 hours to 30 minutes; especially fighting her third nap of the day but then falling asleep on the go at 6pm, which messes up bedtime. 

I hope she feels better soon and finishes with those teeth soon. We’ve learned that we can deal with sleep struggles, but we really didn’t need the extra crap piling on to already shitty sleep. 

Weekend Update

Our weekend was busy and full of little parenting worries. Not my favourite kind of weekend. 

Worry 1: pressure to leave my baby

Friday night was tainted by an emotional discussion between my wife and I. We’ve been getting a lot of offers from people wanting to babysit Avery so my wife and I can have a date night. I want to be emotionally available to my wife, and she really needs some alone time with me after 7 months of always coming second. But, I’m just not ready to leave Avery with someone other than my wife. She’s been going through a long phase of “making strange,” and my instincts are to slowly help her ease into social situations. Those offering to babysit assure me that it’s ok if she cries the whole time – they can handle it. No offense, but I’m not worried about the adults in that situation. So my wife and I continue to debate how and when we’re going to leave the baby with someone else for a date night. 

Worry 2: Eczema

We decided to miss Avery’s last swimming lesson of the season because her eczema spots on her cheeks were open and weeping and we didn’t want to get pool water in them. It was sad to miss because Avery LOVES the pool and we love seeing her having fun. 

Mid-Saturday-morning we went to a parenting book club meeting at the public library. That was nice. I love talking with other like minded parents. Hearing that others bed share and struggle with feminist parenting dilemmas, and just being around people who don’t pass judgment on my parenting is refreshing. It makes me feel like I suddenly have a cheer squad backing me. 

Saturday afternoon we ran errands, did a lot of cooking, and I did some work. The house did not get cleaned, I did not shower or even look in a mirror. Self care fail. 

Sunday morning we left for the city where we picked up some used building supplies for our chicken coop (my wife’s building us a chicken coop this spring!) and then we were off to Avery’s cousin’s first birthday party. My sister-in-law did such an amazing job throwing a Wiggles themed party – everything was rainbow and it looked like a Pinterest party gone right. 

Worry 3: my baby being labeled as anti-social 

At these kinds of social functions, though, Avery tends to get passed around a lot. She doesn’t like it, and she gets labeled as not liking people or as being a mommy’s girl. We’re already working on teaching Avery (and friends and family) about consent, and don’t want physical interaction to be forced upon her. If she cries and gets upset when someone new takes her, I want to let her come right back to her safe zone (with her Mo or I). I like to slowly introduce her to people and ask if she wants to go to them (even though we kind of have to infer her answer based in body language right now…)  But others out there believe in letting her work out her fears through tears. Unfortunately I pried her out of several people’s arms at the party when my wife had passed her around, and by the end I started to get frustrated. People assumed there was something wrong with her because she was being so “anti-social”. They even got the baby thermometer out, assuming she must be sick. Nope, I know my baby. She’s not sick, she’s sick of the grabbing hands. So that had me feeling quite judged as a parent, whether intentional or not. Oh and note to self – don’t admit to bed sharing around old school parents…. 

Worry 4: constipation 

Becuase of all the stimulation on Sunday, Avery didn’t breastfeed well. I only got her to have one small feed through the entire day. By evening, I noticed her straining more than usual. She woke a few times during the night crying (which she doesn’t normally do while next to me). This morning she struggled to pass some hard rabbit-like poops. I’m focusing on offering her the boob all the time throughout the day today, and her solids are going to be prunes and pears. 

I have to call the doctor today to ask what to about eczema that isn’t clearing. It keeps blistering and scabbing and weeping and I don’t want it to get infected. The corticosteroid is doing nothing and I’m concerned that overuse is going to thin the skin. 

I just want to look at my baby and feel like she is perfectly happy, healthy, and carefree. Do we ever get to that point as parents, or will there always be something to worry about? 

This post was written in reponse to a daily prompt:

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