My Tip-Toe is Too Loud

October 10, 2012

So Annalise spent the weekend at the grandparents again. Her transitions back home have been a little rough lately (code word for lots of time outs, fussing, whining, and crying). Within a few days, things seem to get back to normal. But those first few days are a living nightmare doozy. Especially those 9-10 hours when it’s just me and the terror daughter.

So one day this week, Annalise’s afternoon nap lasted only one hour. This only happens when she’s sick, teething, or upset that she’s not at Mawmaw’s house. I was not ready for her to get up, and neither was she. Generally she wakes up happy, but she was fussing and crying. I let her cry for a while, hoping she’d go back to sleep. (We are in the CIO camp, which has worked great!) I eventually went in to get her, but she immediately collapsed on my shoulder when I picked her up. She was exhausted. I let her rest on my shoulder, and then decided to put her back in the crib.

As soon as her head hit the pillow, she shrieked in protest. I rubbed her back for a bit, and she sucked her thumb and laid back down. By the way, we never do this. Primarily because 1) it doesn’t work and she will not go back to sleep, and 2) see number one.

So I am tip-toeing out of the room, and I’m at the door. As I turn to go out, my foot cracks. You know what I mean, right? My bones just slightly crack as I shift my weight.

Up pops her head. Annalise cries out as she sees me. And naptime is over.

And I have to mention that we have a white noise machine that is cranked wayyy up in her room. So her bionic ears isolated my foot-cracking while surrounded by the soothing sounds of a mountain stream.

Ridiculous. No wonder Annalise was such a light sleeper as a baby. Oh wait – she still is.

Not a problem – we just won’t make any noise louder than a foot-crack while she’s sleeping those 12-14 hours each day.


Annalise’s Kidney Series

October 3, 2012

I’ve had several people mention that they’ve read some (or all) of my blog posts where I documented our journey with Annalise’s kidney. Hey! Thanks for reading! This is one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog – to share how we dealt with Annalise’s birth defect, and how it’s all worked out. I’ve written a 5-part series, from our first glimpse at a prenatal ultrasound, to surgery, to the life afterwards. I’ve created an index to Annalise’s kidney series to aid in navigating my blog posts. You can always find this link on the home page under the “Main Menu.”

As always, please be sure to share our story with anyone who may be facing a similar situation. And don’t hesitate to comment (or email) if you’d like to know more. We are blessed, and I hope to bless others through our story.

Trust Has Been Broken

October 2, 2012

No, not my trust in Annalise. That is still being earned. But the trust of which I speak is in an inanimate object…

Door knobs.

One day last week, Annalise was able to open and close a door, repeatedly. With a knob. A knob I have trusted in since Annalise was able to crawl. This knob is no longer able to keep my toddler in or out. I am in a state of shock.

I knew this day would come, and I’ve even seen glimpses of it’s coming. Annalise figured out a long time ago that the shiny brass (I know, we have the latest 90s fashion in door hardware) handle was the key to freedom. As soon as she could pull herself up, she’d reach up for that handle. And I’d smile as her fingers barely touched the knob.

Now I’m not smiling. Her entire hand fits squarely over the knob. It’s just the twisting mechanics that is keeping her at bay. Until last week.

Thankfully, Annalise has forgotten about her new found skill. I shan’t remind her. And you better not either.

Is it Still Called “Time-Out” if it Happens Most of the Day?

September 24, 2012

At Annalise’s 18-month doctor’s appointment, I had so many good things to share with her peditrician. In the past three months, Annalise has learned so  many new things, and she is really a full-blown toddler. We were both amazed at her verbal and social skills. But then, there is the issue of discipline…

I brought up the issue because I was a bit discouraged. At 7 months pregnant, a rule-breaking toddler exhausts me! So I lamented with the doctor the day-in-the-life with Annalise, and asked his advice…

Back story:

When Annalise first started disobeying (meaning she knows not to do something, and she does it anyways – not just her exploring and learning about the world), I tried smacking the back of her hand. This didn’t really go so well – since she rarely got the point. She’d usually laugh or smile after I slapped her hand. And she’d even hit her own hand, while saying “No.” It was a game to her.

Then we moved to time-out. It was a struggle for me to just get her to sit still, but I knew it would be effective since she strives for attention. I did start to see some results…but then I was hit by round ligament pain, and I got lazy. And when you aren’t consistent with discipline, it never works.

After explaining the the doctor Annalise’s struggle with obedience, he reaffirmed Annalise’s readiness and need for time-out, and discipline in general. She is “advanced” in many ways, including testing authority. Joy. So we left the doctor’s office by 9:15am, and I was determined to stand up to the will of my 1.5 year old.

By her 12:30 nap time, we’d probably already had 8 time-outs. Almost all of them were because she had hit me. When Annalise hits, sometimes it’s out of frustration, sometimes anger. And many times it’s as she is expressing her understanding of the “No Hitting” rule, which means she hits me while saying, “No.” Needless to say, on this day, when Daddy got home from work, I left Annalise into his care while I got some space. Of course, she’s always much better behaved with anyone else.

Time-outs at this stage look like this: Annalise is taken to a designated area in the room (or in the car, if we are out…getting in and out of the car is a prime-time for hitting). She sits down and is told, “You are in time-out. We do not hit/throw/touch/run-in-the-street/etc.” I divert my attention, but stay close enough to make sure she doesn’t get up or find a nearby toy. After about one minute, I go over to her. I get down on her level, and get her to look at me (which is usually difficult because she “hides” by covering her eyes…ugh…another game). I tell her she is done with time out, and that we do not x…y…z…. She gives Mama a hug and kiss, and off she goes.

Honestly, I don’t know how effective the time-out is. She doesn’t complain in time-out, and actually seems to enjoy it (she often sings or hums). Annalise still hits and disobeys known rules, but not as often. I think she finds the whole system of time-out intriguing and new. After a week of this, she still hits me (while saying “no hit”), but now she’ll head right over to the time-out spot without being told.

Even though I haven’t created this obedient angel child, I can tell that she is exercising some self-control. When she does hit, she doesn’t do it hard – or she completely misses me. I think she’s testing the limits of her rules, and time-out is just a new activity. I am trying to be much more consistent. The hard thing is enforcing rules when we are out and about, or she’s about ready to go down for a nap. I’m torn as to how to handle those extraordinary circumstances.

But we’ll see how it goes. I have several books in the queue for disciplining strong-willed or spirited children. I’m sure we haven’t solved the problem, and it will always be a journey with Annalise as she grows and exercises her independence.

Anyone else out there have experience with disciplining strong-willed kids? I’d love to hear some feedback!


Goodnight Moon – If I Could Just Find You!

September 18, 2012

So I’ve always known that my little Annalise was a comic. She will do anything for a laugh, or for some attention. Here is her latest tactic…

We read books. Lots of books. They are probably her favorite thing to play with. But in the last few weeks, she has put a new twist on “reading.”

Let’s say we are reading 101 Dalmatians (which is quite likely this week). There are three pages in the whole book that have a picture of a moon in the background. Whenever we read the book, she will always point and exclaim, “Moon!”

Not so unusual yet?

Well Annalise will often immediately close the book and hold up her hands – her way of asking, “Where did it go?” Then she will flip through the pages trying to find it. When she’s on a page without the moon, she will shake her hand and say, “Noooo….” And keep flipping. Then she will find the page and say, “Moon!” But the victory is short-lived. Usually, the book is closed again and Annalise holds out her hands in confusion. Repeat x 48383.

So I have played a similar version of this game with peek-a-boo. When Annalise first started playing that game (which gets really old really fast), I’d mix it up by guessing places she was hiding. So instead of being right in front of me on the changing table covering her eyes, I’d ask, “Is Annalise in the bathroom? Noooo… Is she in the kitchen? Nooooo…”

So today, the “reading” game has also been mixed up. Instead of just flipping through pages looking for the object (this time, it was a cat), Annalise started making the baby sign for car. It threw me off, so I asked, “A car?!”, thinking she was anxious to get out of the house. But to my surprise, Annalise replied with, “Nooooo…” And then said, “Outside? Noooo…” And so the game continues…probably even at this very moment…

Haha. I think she’s pretty funny. And Annalise knows it, too. So I guess that means that I’ve just guaranteed that I’ll be playing this game until she goes to Kindergarten…

There’s a Toddler in My Bed

September 12, 2012

So I’m getting sick with a cold. It’s at the point where my head feels heavy and congested, and I can’t always breathe through my nose at night. This spells disaster and fatigue for a pregnant lady. No NyQuil for me.

Double bonus for the toddler also being sick (I blame her for catching the bug and passing it to my compromised immune system). Today Annalise wakes up at 6am, crying and fussing because she doesn’t feel good.

So desperate for a few more minutes of sleep, I bring her into my bed (I never do this…). She’s a snotty mess, but cuddles up to me. “Good,” I think, “She’s going to go back to sleep.”

In 10 seconds, Annalise realizes its play time. She proceeds to slap my head, saying “Hug.” then points to my facial features, calling out, “Ear”, “Nose”, “Eye.” It’s really hard to sleep when you are a learning poster for your extroverted daughter.

I keep telling her that we are going “night night” and to “lay your head down.” It works for about 5 seconds, and then a neuron fires and she’s popping her head up with a new revelation.

“Dada?” “Dada is at work…shhh.”
“Pillow.” “Yes, let’s go night night.”
“Drink!” “Shhhhh.” “Drink!!!!” “Later, lay your head down.”

I finally wave the white flag and get dressed, probably with about 4 solid hours of sleep. Let’s just hope we both get a good nap this afternoon.

The Excuse for My Silence

September 10, 2012

Well it’s been a while since I posted, folks. And in the last few weeks, it’s been a struggle even when I do post. But you see – it’s not my fault (so says the American culture, right?). I’m a victim here. The culprit?

Round Ligament Pain. RLP.

So if you’ve never been pregnant, you probably have no idea what the heck I’m talking about. But the round ligaments are the muscles that attach my uterus to my pelvis/groin area. (See this article on WebMD for a better explanation.) They basically hold the uterus in – towards my back – so it doesn’t fall forward. When you are pregnant, they get stretched out like rubber bands, and they can spasm or ache. This is the cause of my pain and suffering in the last few weeks.

Sorry for the boob shot, but this is the best image out there. Thanks to for the image.

So I had this RLP with Annalise the first go-round. It started around the 5th month, and I was still consistently jogging. The pain got worse and worse, and I finally called my OB about it because I couldn’t walk one day without chronic, sharp pains. I was sure this wasn’t normal. Round ligament pain was the culprit, and rest and stretching should help. So I stopped jogging, and doing any strenuous activity. Within a week, the pain had subsided tremendously! I never had a problem again, unless I overexerted myself with a long walk.

But things are a bit more extreme this time with Baby Boy. At 5 months preggo, I felt the RLP coming on again. And it has increased in severity quite quickly (as in, I sometimes can’t walk without doubling over in pain). But the thing is, I haven’t been running or jogging in MONTHS. Only some moderate walking and chasing a toddler. There is very little I can do to change my lifestyle, and I already feel like a fat, lazy sloth.

I’ve talked to my OB, who is known as the “weight Nazi” of OBs in town. While having the largest single-man OB practice in town (he delivered 52 babies in June), he’s a marathon runner. He has zero compassion for excuses for not exercising. He loves his job (has to, right?), and he is passionate about women staying healthy and active during pregnancy. So when I complain to him about my RLP and my lack of exercise, he nods and says, “Some women are just built that way.” And then tells me to do yoga instead. Have you ever tried to do yoga with a 17-month old around? It’s not like I can strap her in her stroller for that one. Sorry doc, I love you and you’ve seen more of me than my husband…but yoga ain’t going to happen.

So anyways, that’s my sob story. I’m limiting almost ALL activity and trying to rest (lying on my side) so my round ligaments can recover. Stretching is also helpful – I get on my hands and knees, and then press my head to the floor while sticking my butt in the air. Lovely picture I know. But it supposedly helps. Sigh.

And I am officially done being pregnant. I know I’ve posted before about not being eager for November to come, but I’m ready to have my body back. I’m tired of sharing. I’d like to have the freedom to go on a walk around the block, without the fear of being bed-ridden later. This is getting ridiculous. And at this point, I choose the chaos of two kids under two and sleep deprivation. Doesn’t sound so bad if I can walk or stand up without pain…

And we’ll end with a note to my unborn baby. It’s heart-felt:

“I’m sorry, Son, but as much as Mommy loves you, I’m done. Come early, please. My uterus is tired. I want you to grow healthy and strong, but unless you find a way to stop straining my round ligaments, Mommy can’t walk. And big sister didn’t get the memo to stop running everywhere and sit still. I feel fat and lazy, and I can’t really do much while I’m reclined on my side on the couch…even though there is so much to do before your arrival! Your father has been such a good support system, but this horrible chronic pain seems to turn Mommy into an uncontrollable monster. And because of all this, I find myself cursing my pregnant body. Every. Single. Day. So I think the best solution is to finish this pregnancy, and have my uterus recover. I don’t mind sharing my body with you, but 9 months seems to be a little too long. And before I forget, I love you! And I hope you get your father’s patience. Love, Mommy” Written at 6.5 months pregnant…Are we there yet?

Pregnancy Band Break-ups

September 4, 2012

Okay, so this post may be TMI for you. If so, feel free to read my one of my light-hearted posts instead. But…there was one change in my preggo body that completely shocked me. And I haven’t found anyone else that has had such an extreme change. Ready for this?

Bra band size. Did I already lose ya? Sorry. I warned you. (For all three of my non-married, male blog readers, this has nothing to do with cup size. Just FYI.)

So I had heard that pregnancy can cause your rib cage to expand. I’d heard it was normal to grow 2-4 inches in your chest. That seemed crazy to me, but it makes sense. As the uterus grows up and crowds other organs in your abdomen, things shift around and even expand. But what was so shocking about my own experience?

Pre-pregnancy (the first time) I was a 32 inch band size. For being 5’10”, that’s a really narrow chest. Anywho, my band size started to expand when I was about 3 months along…and continued. The peak? Just before I delivered Annalise – at a whopping 40 inches!!! That is an 8 inch difference in band size?!?! And you know what? After I got back in shape after having Annalise, I was never less than a 36 inch band size. The ribs stayed expanded.

This time around, my starting point was a 36, instead of a 32. I hope that doesn’t mean I’ll expand past a 40 inch band size. I’m still surprised that my chest has expanded this much (I’m already at the 40 inch mark) at 6 months preggo, even though I’ve been here before!

So now you know. And now you know that it was stupid of me to buy new nursing bras at 3 months pregnant, thinking they’d last through the pregnancy and after. Ha! Thank goodness for those bra expanders.

So really, has anyone else had this crazy band-size growth in pregnancy? How about another unusual symptom? The hardest consequence of this crazy rib expansion is ever hoping to fit in all my dresses (some which were taken in in the chest) ever again. Such a tragedy!

Labor Day Loungin’

September 3, 2012

So we are sitting at Starbucks, enjoying an extra long weekend. Jason has the day off, which means I’m off baby-chasing duty. It’s glorious.

And it’s September, which means its pumpkin spice season at Sbux. I got a decaf, iced version (not as good, but I’m roasting as a pregnant lady in this 75 degree weather). As soon as my drink came up on the counter, Annalise wanted a sip. She lowered those puckered lips over the green straw, sipped, and said, “Mmmmmm…milk.”

And that is how Starbucks gets customers at an early age. Most expensive 12oz of milk ever.


Annalise’s Kidney Abnormality: Part V

August 28, 2012

Last time on this topic, we left off after Annalise’s surgery. We were heading home from the hospital, relieved that it was all over. But the appointments with the doctors didn’t stop after surgery…

Annalise had recovered so well in the hospital. At almost 8 months old, she bounced back like they said she would. Besides a slight favoring of her abdomen, I really couldn’t tell a difference. We headed home, on Thanksgiving night. Our home was so much more relaxing than the pediatric unit at UVA Hospital. Don’t get me wrong – the nurses and doctors were great…but nothing beats sitting on your own couch and NOT sleeping on a recliner.

That evening, Annalise started to spike a fever. She went to bed fine, with tylenol, but she was restless throughout the night. Annalise is extremely cold-natured, and rarely ever gets a fever. It was so weird to touch her head and pull back from the heat. We called the doctors at UVA when her fever reached over 101, and they said it was normal to spike a fever post-operation. They weren’t worried, unless she showed other signs or the fever lasted more than 24 hours.

The following day was Friday, and Annalise and I were both cranky from little sleep. But what did I do? I wanted to roast a turkey for the three of us (yes, my 8 month old ate table food…another post to come about all that). Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and we were having turkey. Screw my exhaustion. I need turkey. And mashed potatoes. And pumpkin pie. Annalise’s fever started to subside that evening, and was completely gone the next (Saturday) morning. Oh and did I mention? That day was my birthday. Happy birthday, to me…right? I’ve had better days. Probably every other day that year.

So two weeks later we were back at UVA for Annalise’s out-patient surgery to remove the stint. If you remember, there was a slight complication during her kidney removal. Her healthy ureter must have been nicked during the surgery, so they put in a stint to help it heal. The procedure itself lasted 5 minutes – literally just using tweezers to pull out the stint through her bladder. But she still had to go through all the pre-op fasting, prep, IV, and anesthesia. Thankfully, it all went smoothly (aside from the fact that we didn’t know where the out-patient surgery was). And the pediatric urologist did get to look Annalise over. He was pleased with how her incisions were healing…awesome. And we were home in time for a morning nap, and we all Annalise slept wonderfully.

Six weeks from the first surgery in November, we headed to the pediatric urology clinic for our first follow-up. Annalise was now 9 months old, and the surgery seemed like a distant memory. We had stopped giving her daily dose of antibiotics (as a preventative for infection), which was weird for all of us. Since Annalise was just two months old, her  “candy” in a dropper became part of our life. One day, we just stopped (with our doctor’s approval). And life got simpler.

In the clinic, Annalise had to give another pee sample, and have another ultrasound on her abdomen. It wasn’t as easy this time, since Annalise was now crawling and much more agile. But we got through it, and the pediatric urologist confirmed that everything looked great! And great, meaning that all of the dysfunctional part of her kidney was removed. And the kidney and ureter was healing normally. Next appointment scheduled in 6 months.

So as I’m writing this, we had her 6 month post-op checkup a month ago. Same routine: pee sample and ultrasound. But this time, Annalise is a walker/runner/mover/shaker. I felt less like a mom and more like a lion tamer. But armed with a bag of grapes, she held still long enough for a few ultrasound pictures. And everything looked good – the kidney was actually beginning to regenerate and grow. Good signs. And now we’ll head back a year from now.

As Annalise grows, we’ll probably have yearly appointments for follow-up (pending no infections or complications). Basically, she is doing most of her growing right in these few years. So the pediatric urologist wants to watch this kidney as it grows. Eventually, if everything continues to heal and grow as it should, the doctor will stop seeing Annalise. They will assume that after several years of monitoring, her kidney will continue to grow and function normally. So lets just hope for that!

Of course, I plan to update this series if things change course. But as for now, we think that this is the end of the road with the kidney saga. Yes, there will be more follow-ups, more ultrasounds, and hopefully more good reports. Life post-surgery has been uneventful for us, thankfully. And it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (but is anything, in hindsight?). Although, I bet I will still get lost in UVA’s west complex as I navigate the halls to the Pediatric Urology clinic. Let’s hope the new Children’s Hospital opens soon…and there’s a cafe close to the clinic!!!