Friday, February 18, 2011

Hernias and Her-Knee-Uhhhhh

One night at the end of October I discovered that Alex had an incarcerated hernia (his bowels were stuck out of a little hole in his abdomen). He was really miserable and I noticed the swelling and knew something was wrong. After talking to the doctor we decided I needed to take him to the ER.

We had just moved here a few months earlier. I knew people, but no one that I really felt comfortable calling at 8pm on a school night to come over to my (always) messy house and stay with my 3 big kids so I could rush off to the ER.

Johnny was working on a project in New York City at the time. It was at least an hour and a half commute, but when he heard what was wrong, he literally ran to the next train. Alex had fallen asleep in my arms so I decided to wait for Johnny. Alex slept fitfully in my arms as we waited.
When Johnny got home I went to show him the lump and it had gone away. We called the doctor and she told us that we didn’t need to go to the ER but we needed to get in with a pediatric surgeon soon.

They scheduled him for surgery about a week later at Yale New Haven Children’s hospital.
The doctor told us they would give him some baby Valium so that he wouldn’t have a hard time separating from us. They said it would make him ok to go with anyone. When it really came down to it though, he only wanted his daddy. I tried not to get my feelings hurt!

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Even though it was a relatively low risk surgery it was still scary to let him go. In that moment I thought about the trust I was placing in this doctor (a stranger I really knew nothing about) to take care of my baby.

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He handled the whole thing like a champ. He was a tiny bit miserable, as you could expect, but by the time they released him an hour or so later he was pretty happy. Johnny and I even took him and his new dinosaur (a prize from the hospital) to lunch on the way home.

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Everything was going great, until about 3 weeks later when I noticed a second hernia on the other side. When doing hernia surgery they used to just check both sides when they were doing the surgery but our doctor said that the latest research recommended that they only do one side. He said that he does over a hundred hernia surgeries a year and only about four or five end up coming back with double hernia. Just our luck…

So they scheduled a second surgery exactly four weeks after the first.

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He handled things great and just like before, he wanted his daddy… which was lucky this time because Mommy could barely hobble through the hospital on my newly acquired crutches…

Her Knee… Uhhhhh…
A few days before the second surgery and the day before Thanksgiving, Johnny picked up his parents from the airport. We were excited that they were coming to visit. I was putting some things in the freezer in the garage and missed the last step. My knee twisted and I fell.
I had one of those moments where you wish you had one of those medical alert things. “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Luckily I had my phone in my pocket and called Johnny to come rescue me. When Abby saw me laying on the garage floor, she went in to report to Johnny’s dad that he better come quick because “THIS IS SERIOUS!!”

Turns out it was. Johnny took me to the ER and they drained about a cup of blood out of my kneecap (I will spare you the pictures!). The blood indicated that I had definitely torn something.

Johnny’s mom ended up making her own Thanksgiving dinner and they spent the weekend doing laundry, taking care of kids, and taking care of me!

An MRI showed that I had dislocated my knee cap and torn some of the surrounding tissue. I stayed in bed for days and used my “crotches” (Lila’s term for my crutches) to get around. It was weeks before I could walk unassisted.

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My mom flew out and helped take care of the kids and Johnny was able to use some vacation to stay home and take care of all of us.

It’s been about 3 months now and I am feeling much better. I have an awesome brace that I wear (NOT that ghetto one pictured above) but I still struggle with a lot of things like stairs. I am hoping physical therapy will cure me, but the therapist said that the swelling could take up to a year to go away.

I’ve decided that “disasters” are great for helping us keep things in perspective. I don’t take walking for granted like I used to and I feel lucky every day when the kids pray “for mommy’s knee to get better”. Though it is incredibly frustrating to have limited mobility, I realize there are so many people who are worse off. I also got to know so many people through this experience as new “friends” stepped up to help.

I am also so grateful for modern medicine. It truly is a miracle and I can’t imagine what might have happened to my sweet baby boy without it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mama Called the Doctor…

And the doctor said, “NO MORE KIDS FALLING ON THEIR HEADS!!!”

Wednesday afternoon the kids were sitting at the counter getting ready to eat lunch and Abby fell off her stool and hit her head (hard) on the tile floor. I helped her calm down and she sat down to eat. About 20 minutes later she said “I can see two of everything…” and then, “everything looks blurry!”

The alarms started going off in my head… I held up my fingers and she consistently counted more fingers than I held up. I called the pediatrician and rushed her to their office. By the time we got there Abby was pretty miserable. After she threw up, the doctor told us we needed to go to the ER to have a CAT scan. Johnny was working in New Jersey and couldn't get home for a few hours. So I dropped the boys off at a friend’s house, arranged for someone else to pick Lila up from school and headed to the ER.

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On the way to the hospital she threw up again and as we sat in the waiting room she slept in my arms for about an hour. It was scary.

Luckily the CAT scan was negative and by that point she had perked up a bit. They diagnosed her with a concussion and sent us home with instructions to take it easy.

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Two days later (almost to the exact minute) I was making lunch and Alex fell out of his high chair and hit his head on the tile floor. Same scenario. He started throwing up and then was just completely lethargic and sleepy.

So once again we headed to the pediatrician. Alex slept (a concerning, scary sleep) the whole way there.

Alex, sleeping in the car on the way to the doctor holding the classic “throw up bowl
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By the time we got there he seemed a little better. She checked him out and tried to determine if he had double vision (how do you tell if a 16 month old has double vision??). We decided the radiation risk of a CAT scan was too high so we didn’t get to go to the ER that time, but we got another diagnosis of a concussion. They sent us home and told us to call if he got worse and to “take it easy.”

When Johnny abruptly left work in the middle of the day again for the 2nd time in 3 days, his co-worker joked that you typically can only use the concussion excuse once a week to take off early. My mom said the doctors will probably think we were making up "excuses" too and decide to call social services on me!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Hope your day is full of SMOOCHES!! (Mine surely will be!)

Happy Valentines Day!
Love, Us

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This is gonna suck!!

Abby and Zack have always been finger suckers. Abby originally sucked her ring finger. One day I watched her notice that Zack sucked his pointer finger. She looked at her chubby little fingers and switched to her pointer finger too.

(April 2008, they were 16 months old)
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There were times when it was really gross, but there were also times when it was incredibly convenient. Johnny and I had been talking about how to get them to stop sucking their fingers for years. He had done a lot of research and learned that it isn’t really damaging until they are about 4. It is also best if you can get them to want to stop sucking their finger.

After we moved to Connecticut and got settled, we decided that it was time. We ordered two tGuard fingerguards. In order to get them on board we promised them a bike once they really stopped. They were excited and supportive. I secretly wondered if they realized what they were getting into!

When they arrived in the mail Abby and Zack were excited… I was nervous.

This is their “LAST SUCK!”
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The device is simple and held in place by a wrist band. They got to pick a different color each day. The first day Zack picked pink. (I blame Johnny…)


They had to wear it all the time. Day and night.

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It didn’t seem to slow them down at all initially.


After a few hours I think Abby was having second thoughts when she asked “how much does a bike cost??”

That night the novelty really wore off. They were like newborns trying to learn how to sleep again and they woke up every few hours crying and begging me to take them off.

That was the worst of it, mostly because I felt so bad for them. The second night was tons better and after about a week I started taking them off during the day. One night about a week and a half after we had started, I put them to bed and realized later that I had forgotten to put the finger guards on. I went in to check on them and they had fallen asleep without sucking their fingers.

I am still amazed that it worked so fast and was so relatively easy! I would have never guessed that by two weeks they would have completely stopped. We gave it one more week (just for good measure) and then they earned those bikes!

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And that… doesn’t suck at all!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Peanut Butter Fudge

My sister Natalie has started a totally cute new blog called Corduroy Dreams. She has cute craft ideas and projects and I talked her into letting me post some things with her. This was my first post.

With all the snow (and school cancellations) we've had here in New England we've had to get a little creative to keep ourselves entertained. This recipe is one of my favorites to do with the kids. Lila asked me if this snack was good for us. I laughed and said not really, but it sure is yummy!
Peanut Butter Fudge
(yield: about 24 one inch balls)
1/3 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup Karo syrup
2 cups powdered sugar (approx)

Mix butter, peanut butter, and Karo syrup in a bowl. Add powdered sugar until it forms a soft dough.

(It's sticky. I let the kids try to mix it up themselves but I ended up having to do it for them.)
Knead the dough until all the sugar is mixed in and it isn't sticky anymore.
Trust me, you're going to want to make a batch for yourself, just in case you don't want to have to share theirs (for obvious reasons!)
Shape dough into balls (about 1 inch).
Or... snowmen... or snakes... or pancakes... use your imagination. The kids really treated it like it was play-doh. Even the baby got into it!

(I gave them cookie sheets to try to minimize the mess. The rolling pins came from Target's dollar section a few years ago.)
Place your creations on wax paper.

If desired (and you should desire) drizzle balls with chocolate.

Place 1/2 bag of milk chocolate chips in a glass dish or liquid measuring cup. (Alex and I are really fond of Ghirardelli chocolate chips, it's all I will use!)
Microwave chocolate chips for 1 minute. Stir, then microwave for 30 more seconds until completely melted. (Do not overcook or you will break the chocolate.)

Use a spoon and drizzle over peanut butter balls.

Refrigerate and enjoy!!
Note: I let each of the kids make their own batch and it was a little too much (mostly because I ended up eating it all after they were asleep!) Next time we do it I think I will let them each do half a batch.