Sunday, July 12, 2015

Broken bones

So, Alice broke her elbow (really, a supracondylar fracture). You may have seen my posts on Instagram/Twitter/Facecbook the other day as it was going down, but here's a play-by-play of the whole situation.

Monday started quite nicely. The girls were playing together so sweetly while I relaxed and watched. They made cozy little beds in and read to themselves and each other for a good while. I posted this photo to Instagram and breathed in the peace and calmness.

 Then I crossed a bunch of other stuff off my "to do" list. I can't even remember what all I did, but I do know I scrubbed the baby's crib and dresser down, and Alice helped. She was so pleased with herself, she wanted me to take a photo of her next to the crib.
I'd been on my feet a lot of the morning, actively bustling around, and started having some good strong contractions as I sat down to lunch. After lunch, we took the girls to a park and Jon kept an eye on them while my mom walked with me in circles around the playground, trying to spur the contractions along. When we got home, we dropped off my mom and the girls, and Jon and I headed out again to keep walking. Really, we got ice cream cones and walked up and down a hill a few times before my feet and body hurt too much to keep going. Plus, it was hot. We were only gone about half an hour.

It wasn't quite time to fix dinner when we got back, so Jon and I headed up to the playroom with everyone else. Alice was dressed up in her leotard and tutus, wanting to play gymnastics. This consists of laying out my yoga mat and making a pile of various things to be used as the apparatuses.

This time, she'd made a tangled pile of overturned chairs and their rocking horse and was climbing all over them. I've told her many times that she can't use the furniture and toys that way, and that it isn't safe. I reminded her again and she gave me some serious sass. I told her a few times to get down, and she kept sassing me until she finally said "FINE! I'LL GET DOWN!"

And then she did this little slip jump, where she just kind of slides off of the thing, like she's done at least a hundred times before. She may have also kind of thrown herself toward the ground, to be dramatic, as I've also seen her do to over exaggerate the injustices her sister inflicts on her. In any case, she fell onto her side and let out an awful cry. My mom, Jon, and I all watched it happen. At first, I thought maybe she fell on the handle of the rocking horse, which would really give a good jab in one's tender side. I also thought she might be crying extra dramatically for theatrical value. Jon jumped right up (since I cannot move any more quickly than a sloth) and tried to assess the damage, and she showed us where her arm was hurting.

She was pretty hysterical, so I had her lay down so she could try to relax a little bit and we could get a better look. There weren't any bones poking out, or funny angles, but it definitely seemed tender and looked swollen. I was sitting with her, trying to figure out whether we should take her right in or wait and see. I had just decided that we'd better be safe than sorry and take her to the Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic at our local doctor's office, when Jon spied our neighbors pulling in across the street. They are both E.R. nurses in the nearby hospital, so Jon ran out to see if they could come up and give us their professional opinion on what we should do.

She gave it a quick check and said we should definitely take her in. She helped fashion a sling out of a blanket. She recommended that we go to the E.R. at the hospital, instead of the clinic in town, in case she needed an I.V. or surgery or anything. Plus, she said her husband was working at the moment. I was so glad she'd gotten home just then, and was able to run right over, and so glad we have neighbors with such expertise.

Alice was pretty terrified to move from the floor and definitely didn't want to get in the car. So Jon scooped her up and transferred her and buckled her into her seat ever so gingerly. She stopped crying, mostly, once we were in the car and driving. I sat next to her in the way back seat and tried to distract her.

On our way, our neighbor called from the E.R. and recommend that we actually head to Children's Hospital in Seattle instead. He said there were some pretty sick people waiting in their E.R. that would have to be seen before us, and that it might be an hour wait. Plus, at Children's, they would be a bit better equipped for whatever Alice might need. Unfortunately, we were almost to the hospital, and Children's would be at least another 40 minutes away, so we decided to just stay put. Plus, if I went into labor, we would be very near the birth center or I could just transfer over to the well-regarded Women's Pavilion at the hospital, just down the street.

We got into the E.R. and checked in, and then broke out the iPad in the waiting area. Thank goodness for the numbing effect of screen time.

They told us they would take us to triage in a bit, but they actually took us straight back. Alice got some generic vicodin for kids via syringe and started feeling a bit better, and a bit loopy, before too long.
 At this point, I thought her arm looked funky below the elbow...
 The doctor came in to give her arm a look and told us he thought it looked broken. He said he was going to get her x-rayed. We hung out and watched some more shows on the iPad. Jon went to find some snacks for Alice, since it was past dinner time and we didn't want her meds to bother her empty tummy. He came back with some pretzels and some trail mix. We broke open the trail mix while we watched the iPad. The doctor came in a bit later and said he actually forgot to put the x-ray order in, but that they would be there soon. He also nixed the snacks, in case Alice needed surgery. So we had to put them away. I was telling Alice that her bed was like a wheelchair, and they could wheel her down to get her x-rays. But instead, the x-ray came to her! I had to step out and wait as far away as possible but I could tell she was a trooper and didn't cry as the guy had to twist her arm all kinds of ways to get the shots he needed.

Looking pretty gross.

The doctor told us he was waiting for a consult from a pediatric orthopedist, because elbow breaks sometimes require surgery and he wanted some advice. He came back a short time later and said Alice wouldn't need any surgery that day, that they would give her a splint and send us home for the night and that we would follow up with Children's Hospital in the next few days. She had a fracture in her humerus (upper arm bone), just above the condylar (the round bumps at the end of the bone, where the elbow joint is). From my reading (particularly here) I understand this kind of injury accounts for something like 10% of pediatric fractures, and 90% are kids under the age of 10 with the most incidences between 5-7 years of age. They typically happen when kids fall from a moderate height, like off the monkey bars or a bed, or say, a rocking horse. They usually occur when a kid falls on an outstretched or hyperextended elbow; less than 5% of incidents are on a flexed elbow, as Alice's was.

So Alice was free to eat her snacks. She was disappointed she wasn't getting a cast, and seemed to think she'd be able to take the splint off later, or the next day. She got pretty upset and cried when we told her she wouldn't be able to run through the sprinklers. We'll have to get some sort of waterproof cast protector so she can still enjoy some summer water fun...
 Then the nurse came in to fix up the splint. She put on what Alice called an "arming," aka a legging for the arm, wrapped it in cotton, put a strip of fiberglass along the back of the arm to stabilize it, I think wrapped it in cotton again, and then wrapped it all in an Ace bandage.
 And all the while, Alice ate pretzels off her tummy...
 Dad got to help by holding her fingers.
 And then the doctor checked it out.
 And Alice got two souvenirs, a "doctor's squirt gun," and a strip of unused fiberglass from her splint. She was pretty thrilled on both accounts.
 We wheeled her out to the car...
 And took a photo for posterity. Poor girl.

All in all, we had a really good experience in the E.R. Everyone was very friendly and kind and spent plenty of time with us to make us feel comfortable and to make sure we understood everything. Alice was very brave and patient and cooperative. The whole thing could have been horrible, but instead it was just kind of awful and inconvenient. 

So we have a follow-up appointment at the Children's Hospital clinic near our house first thing on Tuesday morning. They will do another round of x-rays, and either put on a proper cast or schedule her for surgery. From what I've been reading, she doesn't have the type of break that usually requires surgery. The break didn't go all the way through the bone, and the bones were not displaced. So my fingers are crossed for a cast! My fingers are also crossed that this baby is born today, or before Monday afternoon/evening so that we don't have to juggle childbirth and an orthopedic appointment...

Alice was pretty loopy on the drive home. We left the hospital around 8pm, about three hours after we got there. We dropped off Alice's prescriptions and picked up a pizza, and Alice finally hit her pillow around 10pm. I was scrolling through Instagram as I was trying to get to sleep, and saw the photo I'd posted earlier in the day (the one at the top of this post). I looked at her left elbow, so prominent in that photo, and just cried. Luckily, she's young and her bones will heal fast. And she'll have a good story about her summer break when she goes to school. 

We took it easy the next day, keeping her drugged up on generic kids' vicodin and immobilized on the couch, with her arm elevated. Again, I was so thankful for the anesthetic effect of television! 

The barf bucked was just a precaution.
Alice had some wicked tantrums before we realized that the vicodin might be affecting her mood. So we stopped that after a day and switched to Tylenol, which seems to be working just fine. She's feeling a lot better and the splint doesn't seem to be slowing her down much. In fact, she's already lost her balance and caught herself with her broken arm. We all exclaimed, but her reaction was mostly surprise and fear and notsomuch pain. We keep having to remind her to slow down and be careful and take it easy. But if she ever listened to us, she wouldn't be here in the first place...

If you commented on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, thank you for the support! It was so nice and comforting to read while we were waiting in the E.R.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dear Alice & Ivy: Waiting for baby brother

 (I went to publish this original post and Blogger deleted it. The whole thing. Gone. So this is a rewrite which will surely be less elegant that the original. Plus, I had to leave the house to rewrite it as Alice was having a tantrum the likes of which I could not have imagined...)

Dear Alice and Ivy,

Any day now (hopefully) we'll get to meet your new baby brother. Alice will become a big sister for a second time, older and wiser, and Ivy will get to experience big sisterhood for the first time. You're both aware of what is happening, though I'm sure you aren't aware of what the actual day-to-day will look like, and how much our lives will change. I think you are both excited, in various ways, and I'm eager to see what you will think of having a new little baby at home. You love babies, Ivy, and I hope that you love having one to kiss and cuddle and baby as much as I think you will. You also need a lot more Mama cuddles than Alice ever did, and I'm hoping that you don't feel jealous or neglected or displaced. Alice, you love a good procedure, and you love to be in charge, so I think you're going to enjoy helping with all the things a baby needs and making sure I'm doing everything right.

Life is continuing on for you fairly normally right now, but these last days and the waiting is really hard for me. I am tired and uncomfortable - so uncomfortable - and cranky, I don't have the energy or agility or patience to moderate your squabbles and chase after you both and remind you a million times a day how to use the bathroom and get dressed and put your shoes on and put your toys away. Because when you are not being sweet and charming, you are an unholy handful of exasperation and you make my temper go from neutral to nuclear in seconds flat about a million times a day. Thank goodness that Grandma, and now Grandpa, are both here to provide a little distraction for you and relief for me.

Waiting (and waiting and waiting) for Alice.
I am weepy and sentimental right now, and I get sad when I think about how these are our last days with just my two girls, as a family of four. And these are our last few weeks all together before Alice starts real, every day school in the fall. But then Alice has an outburst and I can't wait for school to start. I really am looking forward to that break, and having just two kids at home again. And I know it will be wonderful for you, Alice, and that you will be glad to have the routine and stimulation again. But I just wish that I could fill this time with summer fun and special memories. Instead, I have to carefully budget my  energy and our time with the rest of the unpacking, getting things ready for the baby, mediating your fights, reminding you how to behave nicely, getting enough rest and staying upright, plus all the regular housework. We have to squeeze in whatever fun we can between all the rest. I wish that I could capture this time, on camera or in a bottle, and savor it more.

Waiting (and waiting) for Ivy.
I try to remind myself that we are not losing anything, but gaining more love and happiness. I felt this same way before Ivy was born, scared of dividing my time with another child and sad that my days with my one little girl were coming to an end. But I can't imagine life or our family without our delightful Ivy, she brings so much joy and laughter and happiness to us all, and I know this baby will be no different.

I know some people worry that they won't love another child as much as they love the one(s) they already have. I was never worried about that, I know that love expands to fill all the available space. But I do wonder and worry how we're going to handle all your regular demands, plus your fighting and defiance, and Alice's tantrums and Ivy's night waking and a newborn's needs. I had similar worries before Ivy was born, though (how do you get two kids to sleep at the same time in the same room?), and it all just worked out. Mostly. I do struggle with feelings of guilt, though. We have a perfect little family, with two perfectly healthy girls, why push our luck? What if something goes wrong? But that is the great game of life.

We need to make new shirts!
I also feel the weight of my own mortality in these heavy days of waiting. To me, it feels a bit like waiting for the executioner; you don't know when it's going to happen and the task at hand is difficult and dreadful. There's a lot of hard work and unpleasantness to go through before I'm holding a sweet baby in my arms. I feel like I can't be excited until the executioner comes and I get through the other side and the waiting and the pain is over, and everyone is healthy and well. Wait, that's kind of a weird and not entirely appropriate metaphor...

Perhaps some day, you'll understand all these feelings better, when you are waiting for babies of your own. Though, Alice, you are pretty insistent that you do not want and will never want kids. I'm curious to see if that persists through adulthood. And then again, maybe the waiting will be easier for you. And maybe you won't have such late babies, or such stubborn, "spirited" children.

I wanted to take this time to capture this season of our lives, and to put down my feelings. And I wanted to remind you how much I love you, even when you are driving me absolutely bananas. You are both incredibly spirited girls, and no matter how much aggravation it causes me, I don't ever want to break that spirit because, as they say, "well-behaved women seldom make history."

image found here
You are both so clever and creative. Combined with your wonderful imaginations and precocious vocabularies, you crack me up on the daily. Luckily, you make me laugh more than you make me cry, and you never fail to delight and amaze me. I am proud to be your mom, and sorry for all the times that I fall short of my own high expectations for the example I want to set and the mother I want to be for you. But alas, as they also say, "you are making it difficult for me to be the parent I always imagined I'd be..."

image found here
So cut me some slack, and I'll try to do the same, as we transition into this next chapter of our lives - which might be rocky for a while. I can't wait to meet your baby brother, and to see how you grow as big sisters, and what you teach him. Like me, he's lucky that you are part of his family.