Saturday, August 29, 2009

Monkey (or the baby formerly known as Peanut): 5 & 6 months

MonkeyBoy (as Grandpa calls him) turned 5 months in July but as you know, I've been distracted by the situation with my brother, so I'm late. So late in fact, that he turned 6 months yesterday so I seem to have missed out on the 5-month update. For posterity's sake, here's things that have happened in the last couple of months.

Big news: He learned to sit up! All by himself! The first week of August we were at my dad's and I had just finished feeding Monkey and had him on a pillow on my lap. Like I always do when he's done eating, I sat him up on my lap - normally he leans back against me, but this time he leaned forward and sort of sat there. I thought maybe the pillow was making it easy for him, so I plopped him on the floor and poof! There he was, sitting all by his lonesome. Luckily, I told Mr. Fantastic what I was doing first and so we captured it all on video. It was terribly exciting and exceedingly adorable.

He's getting better at sitting for longer periods - but sometimes he will get distracted and reach for something or just forget what he's doing and tip over, but we're working on it. Practice involves the use of many, many pillows as our hardwoods are not forgiving to tender little baby heads. Monkey is also thiiiis close to crawling, I think. He's doing this sort of army-crawl thing - only backwards - and when he sleeps, he sticks his butt in the air, which I've heard is a sign crawling is nigh. We've also started him using a sippy cup, trying to get him used to water and a new method of drinking. He took to it right away, although he makes a yuck face when he realizes it's just water in there. He's even drank from a straw which surprised me that he figured that one out on the first try.

Monkey has definitely found his voice and spends much of his time babbling away and also making "pbbbbbt" raspberry noises with requisite spit bubbles. LOTS of spit. Also there's this happy little "arooo" noise he does that comes with a super cute face. He continues to be the drooliest kid on the planet, despite the fact that I don't think any more teeth are coming for a while. He has his two front bottom teeth and they say the top two are next but so far they don't look like they're coming anytime soon. He chews on his hands a lot and has now discovered his feet in earnest. It's really hard to change a diaper when he's got his foot in his mouth. Babies are bendy! Plus, if it's not his foot or hand in his mouth, it's whatever is within grabbing distance. They say babies use their mouths to explore the world, and boy does this one! He still won't take a binky with any regularity though - there was a brief week or two when he started taking one so we rushed out and bought some more, but he's back to not liking them. And he does a thing where he doesn't so much suck his thumb as chew on it, with it stuck way back where his molars will be.


We also have just started him on solids. My cousin Heidi and I did a day of baby food-making for our boys - steaming & pureeing a bunch of fruits and veggies and then freezing in ice cube trays. So far the jury is still out for the most part. We have tried peaches, pears, banana, avocado, sweet potato and rice cereal. Mostly everything gets spit back out although he does seem partial to the pears and might actually be swallowing some of that. Until he's 1, solids are mostly for fun and learning new textures and tastes, not for nutrition. Which is a good thing because some of the yuck faces he made while eating were hysterical. We did a video of the first time and at one point, he gave me this big smile, so of course I stuck some food in there and the speed at which he went from smiley to yuck face is hilarious. He looked so betrayed. Evil, evil Mommy, where is the boobie juice?

So, it turns out Monkey is a boob snob. We thought it might be a good idea to try and introduce some formula in case I'm unable to pump enough boobie juice for times when I have to be away. Unfortunately, in a disastrous trial by fire, Mr. Fantastic learned that formula is NO GO. He wound up having to drive home from his mom's with a hungry, crying baby so I could feed him. He called me from the car and put me on speaker phone so I could talk to Peanut, which would calm him down momentarily until he figured out that I was not actually present and the yumyums were not forthcoming. Poor Mr. F. That was a rough one for him. We are going to try some other formula brands and maybe work on getting him to take a little each day so he'll get used to it. The majority of the time he'll still have breastmilk, but we'd like to have the option just in case.

We had his 6-month checkup and shots yesterday, including flu shots for all three of us. As always, he cried for a minute or two and Mommy cried for ten. The doctor (Dr. Sarah this time) said he looks great - good strength and control, and she commented on how resourceful he is when she put the eye/ear scope thingy down on the exam table and he wanted it but couldn't reach it. So after a few tries of reaching for it, instead he started pulling the paper table cover towards himself until the scopey thing was close enough to grab. Smart boy!

This month he weighs 17 lbs, 5.5 oz and is 27 3/8" long, putting him in the 50th percentile for weight and 80th for height. Funny, I keep thinking he's gotten quite thick - in fact, I've taken to calling him Chunky Monkey - but people still comment on how skinny he is! Also, we get asked a lot if he's a boy or girl (despite the fact that he wears a lot of blue and baseball hats). This is because although I call him the Cutest Baby in the World, a more accurate word is pretty. He has ridiculously long eyelashes and big blue eyes and this little tuft of blond hair that sticks up in the middle of his head.

Aside from being beautiful and intelligent, Peanut is still the happiest baby I've ever met. He is so content, so happy to just sit and play or be held. He hardly ever cries except when he's hungry. He takes to strangers easily - so far has no fear of being held by someone he just met. He smiles and laughs all the time, especially when he sees Mommy or Daddy. I cannot tell you how much joy it brings us when he just lights up at us. I hope he has some idea just how much we love him and how much our lives have been enriched with his presence. I think having a child my own has finally given me an understanding of just how much my parents loved me.

So, all is well in Peanut Land and I will hopefully be back on track for next month's update. Stay tuned for such newsworthy evens as Peanut tries Peas! and Bathtime for Monkey: Is it time for the big tub yet?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Brother update

So, as I previously mentioned, I'm long overdue for a 5-month Peanut post, but things have been a little crazy these last two weeks. My brother was back in the hospital for a week - we just brought him home on Monday afternoon and had to bring him back in yesterday.

Steve called me the morning of Tuesday the 4th because he was having what he thought was a stroke. His right arm and hand had stopped working and he couldn't feel them and he was having trouble speaking and finding words. We had a very disjointed conversation because we were both panicked and he was unable to tell me what was wrong. Through a combo of me playing twenty questions and him telling me as much as he could, we determined that he wasn't bleeding and could breathe but couldn't use his hand, didn't want an ambulance but wanted us to come get him and take him to the ER. I have never heard him sound so scared and that in turn scared me. I hung up with him long enough to get Mr. Fantastic and we loaded Peanut up and raced over.

I called Steve back as soon as we were on the road because I was imagining him sitting all alone in his car, not being able to do anything and being scared and so I wanted him to know I was there, that we were coming as fast as we could. Since he still was having trouble talking, I just told him where we were and played more twenty questions. It was weird, he could understand me and knew what he wanted to say but certain words just wouldn't come out. Like I asked him what floor of the parking garage he was on and he couldn't tell me. He could say, "I'm on..." but couldn't get out the word "three" even though he was staring at the big number 3 on the wall.

We got him to the ER and there was more twenty questions as he and I tried to explain what had happened and tell them about his medical history. They took him off pretty quickly for an MRI, and when he got back we had another scare. They wheeled him back into the little curtained area where he'd been and I'd been waiting. As the nurse was fiddling with the various monitors and tubes and things, I was asking Steve how it went and he started having a twitch on his right cheek. Then he started sticking his tongue out and I asked him why he was doing that and suddenly he started having a full-body seizure. It was awful to watch and to just have to call for help and not be able to do anything. It didn't last long and they quickly gave him some anti-seizure meds.

That was the only seizure he had, but his right hand was still not working. He spent a few days in the ICU, then got moved to a regular room where he had visits with physical therapy and occupational therapy. He had several scans and basically the brain doc said it was a metastatic brain lesion that burst and the bleeding into the brain causes swelling and pressure, which in turn causes the stroke-like symptoms. Apparently, given time, if the bleeding can be stopped the brain will reabsorb the fluid and that should relieve the symptoms. They keep assuring us that use of his hand will come back eventually if the swelling and pressure go away.

I was not comfortable with this "wait and see" approach, but we're told it's better to give the brain a chance to heal itself as opposed to going in surgically to drain it with a shunt or something. So they ended up sending him home on Monday with medication for seizure and blood pressure and appointments for more OT and scans. Through it all, Steve was basically feeling fine - no headache or pain of any kind and all the doctors were amazed at how well he presented despite what was going on in his head.

He was home all week and basically doing ok. We did some grocery shopping for him but he has been mostly self-sufficient even with the right hand still not working. He can move it and grip loosely, like to hold a highlighter, but not squeeze tight enough to open a factory-sealed jar. The OT told him to keep using it for everything he could, even if it means taking longer and making more of a mess than with the left.

We thought things were going well since he's been feeling and doing fine, and then yesterday he was on the phone with a friend and started having trouble finding words again. They hung up and he called me. I know how much he hates being in the hospital but I told him I thought we had to go back to the ER, since it was Saturday and I didn't think there was any alternative.

They admitted him to the ICU again and kept him there overnight last night. They did another scan and there's some discussion on whether it's bleeding in a new area or more bleeding from the same area or what. They are moving him back up to a regular room again today and the brain doc will by to see him tomorrow and make some decisions. I'm still uncomfortable with the waiting-and-seeing but I'm trying to keep in mind that it's supposed to be better for him in the long run.

They have him on steroids this time, which is supposed to help the swelling and I think it may be having some effect. He says it feels like his right hand is working a little better - not major improvement but enough to make him hopeful. So, we'll know more tomorrow but they've said he could possibly even go home again as early as tomorrow.

This whole thing has been incredibly scary - I thought more than once, "Is this it? Is this when we lose him?" I try not to have the mindset that we're going to lose him to this cancer but sometimes it's so hard to push that fear back. For all that it was terrifying, he seems to be just fine now (with the exception of his right hand, of course.) I don't know what to make of it. I mean, a bleed in your brain can't be good but nobody seems to be in a big rush to do anything. Is it because it's a lost cause and they just aren't saying it? Or is it really as simple as they say? It's his brain. But sometimes these things can be deceptive.

So, I'm trying to keep my spirits up (and his) and would dearly love your good thoughts, wishes and karma to help him.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pants! (in the good way)

I have, right now, comfortably on my person, a brand-spanking-new pair of a size 10. Please join me in celebration!

This means it is entirely possible that in my adult lifetime, my pants size might actually become one digit. It boggles the mind.