Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Birthday to You: 18 Months Old

Dear Anabella,

This week you turned 18 months old. Just so we're clear, that's one year and one half of a year. Holy effing eff. Some amazing things have happened this month and I want to take time to write them all down for you, but it's late and tomorrow we're leaving on our family summer vacation. I've been sitting here for a while, contemplating what things I should select to jot down about this month and all I can come up with is HOLY EFFING EFF. I am the mother of a toddler.

A toddler who just today graduated from the infant room at daycare, complete with a graduation cap and little celebration party with all your baby friends and your lovely caregivers. A toddler who can say her own name and who knows all the pieces to her puzzles and can name all the characters on her diapers. A toddler who still loves to sing and dance, has made up her very own word for butterfly (Laalow!) and who, when tired and ready for bed, will look at me with her big sleepy eyes and say, "Bed, Mama."

A toddler who has grown to love her dog so much that first thing in the morning, when I lift you out of your crib and we share our morning hug and kiss will point towards the stairs and say, "Momo!" And I know that you can't wait to get downstairs and share your Cheerios with him.

But most importantly this month you became a toddler who can toddle! You are still not very steady and you hesitate to take more than a few steps at a time and always towards someone, never away from them. But you know what? I'm so proud of you. There is simply nothing in the universe that gives me more pleasure than watching you stand up all on your own, reach out your chubby and still babyish little arms and walk towards me all on your own. I know that so soon, well before I could ever be ready, you will be walking away from me. And of course, I want you to go forward with confidence, grace, curiosity and strength. But today I will relish in those teetering, toddling steps into my outstretched arms.

I love you,


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Say My Name, Say My Name

You may have already seen this on Facebook, so feel free to disregard. It's just too cute not to document here as well.

It's amazing when your baby suddenly discovers that she has a name of her own. It's a tiny thing, in Bella's case it's even a tiny word, but it's a huge step towards discovering her independence.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's Hip to be Square

I recently posted about an illness that Bella went through that caused her to stop moving and have severe muscle/joint pains. Symptoms were a few days with a low grade fever, pain and discomfort whenever we moved her, no moving on her own at all, and severe pain and screaming/crying all through the night (very out of character for her). After about three days the fever was completely gone and started to regain movement, but continued to have pain in her right hip that lasted for just over a week and caused her to completely stop rolling over, pulling herself up to sitting, crawling, standing up, etc.

It was a terrifying ordeal for all of us and when her discomfort first started (it was mild at first, she only cried at night, but this was so unusual for her that I knew something was up), I took her to her pediatrician who examined her and found nothing. He told us it could be a stomach ache, or it could be constipation, which was what I initially thought it might be because I simply couldn't find anything else wrong but I knew that she was in some kind of pain.

The next day the fever kicked in, her pain clearly got worse, she screamed all night long in agony and we ended up going to the after hours Children’s Clinic on the Danforth (where I will NEVER go again – straight to Sick Kids for us from now on) and basically being told by the doctor that examined her that “everything was fine, it’s 'probably' a virus, and just to 'wait it out'). And because I didn’t know what else to do, I just listened to him and we waited. And waited. And I stressed and worried and cried in frustration every single day.

Thankfully, she did start to get better and we assumed that maybe she had just injured her leg somehow during her "illness" (which we still couldn't explain) and we missed her falling or spraining something and she just needed time to heal. Because her pediatrician was away for the full week after our weekend of hell, we didn't take her anywhere to follow up because I was adament that I would not go back to that clinic. By the time our doctor was back, his wait times were so long that we chose to cancel our appointment rather than put us all through the waiting, and waiting and waiting that would have to happen in order to get her checked out.

Recently a friend of a friend’s son came down with something that had very similar symptoms while they were away at a cottage. He was rushed to emergency where they did a number of tests and determined the illness to have something to do with a build up of fluid around the hip. When I heard about his symptoms and realized sounded exactly like what Bella had, I did some research and discovered that it was something called Toxic Synovitis.

I’m now almost certain that this is what Bella had.

I wanted to share it with all the parents I know because apparently it is something that’s fairly common in children aged 2 - 8 (though can occur in babies and older kids too) but so far I have not run into a single other parent that’s ever heard of it.

In hindsight I know that we should have been more persistent in finding a diagnosis. She should have had some tests done to rule out something more serious like septic hip or another bacterial infection, which can lead to permanent damage of the joint. It's just so hard when life gets in the way and I feel tremendous guilt over the fact that I avoided taking her to the doctor or hospital because it would have interfered with my work day. Instead I just "let her be" as advised by some quack doctor who could barely stand to look me in the eye or give me the 60 seconds it would have taken him to listen to what I had to say about her symptoms.

From now on I will not be concerned about seeming like a paranoid, first-time mom, or about missing yet another day of work because the baby is sick. It literally sickens me that parents are forced to make the decision between looking after a sick child or going to the office - especially since in too many instances the office wins. The pressure is enormous, the resulting guilt is crippling and the bank account is the only thing that wins. From now on Bella comes first, every time, over everthing, plain and simple.

If that's square, then I'm hip to be it.

Anyway – here’s some info about the illness in case one of your little ones ever suddenly stops moving, starts limping or showing signs of pain that you can’t find any evidence of. I should also stressed again that we did not ever get a diagnosis, this is a little bit of me playing Dr. Mom, but if it's not what she had, it's eerily similar, the symptoms are dead on:

On a positive note, after about two weeks, Bella made a full recovery from her illness. She's slowly starting to build up more confidence and this past weekend at my mom's house she even took a few steps on her own walking from Nana's arms to Papa. This is the little trooper last weekend at the cottage - cruising around as if none if it had ever happened at all. We should all be able to forget and move on so easily, no?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I Hope You Dance

I've spoken many times about my love of the super-cheesy Lee Ann Womack song, I Hope You Dance, and still defy any new parent (or old parent for that matter) to listen closely to the words without completely LOSING YOUR SHIT and crying for hours while clutching your child to your chest. Okay, maybe that's just me, but still.

I'm puffed with pride and swelling with love to know that when "she has the chance to sit it out or dance," my Bella chooses to dance every time.

She can't hear a beat, a strain of music, or even a repetative sound like the dryer or a train, without rocking and twisting and bopping her head. Bella has a beautiful voice and I love to hear her sing, but there's something so free and so primal about her need to move. I sincerely hope she'll continue to love music and dancing.

Many times after daycare, when we're all settling in for the evening, changing our clothes and getting ready for the bath, Bella will turn on the stereo in her room, crank the volume and do a little dancing to whatever music happens to be on. It's seriously the best. Here's proof: