Tag Archive | motherhood

The Obligatory Coronavirus Post

I have been following this virus since about the third week in January and it looks like it has taken until now for the US government to take it seriously. So…7 weeks. I have a lot of opinions and feeling about this, but I want to focus on what we can all do to help. Since I spent much of Little Miss Minion’s first year of life in a constant state of bleaching everything we owned, I have some relevant experience. RSV isolation and introversion have prepared me for just this situation 😉

As the parent of a former 28 weeker, I take cold and flu season extremely seriously, even though my kiddo has hopefully outgrown her preemie lungs and the problems that go with them, as well as developed a decent immune system. Last time she got sick, she had a runny nose for about 12 hours and then gave it to me, where it lasted six weeks and turned into a double ear infection, a sinus infection, bronchitis, and borderline pneumonia mixed with infection-induced asthma.

I’m sure everyone has heard the non-stop refrain of “wash your hands,” “it’s just the flu,” and “it’s only killing old people.” Here are my two cents, as a NICU mom, as a preemie mom, and as a (hopeful) future nurse:

  1. WASH YOUR HANDS. For real. Viruses need us to take them to the cells they can infect. Take the common cold, for example. You could dunk your hands in a bucket full of rhinovirus and not get sick…UNLESS you brought the virus to your nose or mouth. Scrub your hands, and the detergents in the soap will disrupt the virus capsule and kill it. Hand sanitizer does the same thing to this virus–although not all viruses are killed by it. Norovirus, for example, is not killed by most sanitizer gels.
  2. Take it seriously. While 80% of cases are apparently not a big deal, that means that 20% result in symptoms serious enough to warrant hospitalization. We don’t have the space in our hospitals for that kind of volume. We don’t have the staffing, or the supplies…which brings me to the next point.
  3. Do your part to flatten the curve. The curve is basically the number of people who need medical attention at a given time. The lower that number is, the better shape we will all be in. Slow the spread of illness so that the numbers of severe cases don’t surge. 100 people knocking on your door over the course of a year is far better than all of those people showing up in one day.
  4. Don’t be a carrier. Limit your visiting with more vulnerable people (looking at you, nursing homes, retirement homes, people fighting chronic illness, people with newborns). You could be sick with this virus (or any other virus) and not know it, bringing it in and infecting others who may not be able to fight it off. I can’t tell you how many times I had to tell, explain, and argue with people about why it was so vital that Little Miss Minion not get sick that first year she was home with us. What you think are “allergies” on Monday, so you go visit an older relative, could turn into “just a runny nose” on Tuesday and a full blown cold on Wednesday–and could prove to be pneumonia or worse for your unsuspecting relative.
  5. Don’t let the anxiety rule you. Check in on the news once or twice a day and get on with your day…albeit with a little more soap and a little less face-touching than usual.

 

Wishing everyone health and lots of toilet paper…

 

New Semester, New Journeys

Lots of news in this post!

After six years at my place of employment, yesterday was my last day at work. Mr Minion and I decided that my focus should be on my school and spending time with Little Miss Minion before she starts kindergarten in the fall.

I’m excited and a little nervous to start this new phase of life. I’m very type A, so the thought of not having a schedule or consistent daily plan is strange. However, since I am so type A, I have decided to make my own schedule. I’ll be doing some school type activities with LMM so she is ready for school in the fall. I’ll be planning lots of trips to the library and the parks around here, once the weather warms up. And I’m going to have far more time to study.

That brings me to the next bit of news. The spring semester has started! This time, I’m taking Anatomy and Physiology II, which will cover the rest of the organ systems that weren’t covered in the fall semester. My lecture and lab are both on Saturdays, and the class is comprised of me and one other girl. Yes, really. We really have no excuse to not get an A, since we have practically personalized lectures. Today, we talked about blood, blood cells, etc in lecture, and in lab, we looked at the cells under the microscope and did a test where we were able to determine our own blood types based on which antigens and antibodies were present. Next week, we’re covering the heart and doing a heart dissection.

I’ve also made a list (because that’s what I do) of things that we’ve been meaning to do around the house since we moved in. It’s essentially a deep clean of every room and a clear out of everything we don’t use. I’m trying to get everything in order before I (hopefully) start nursing school in the fall.

Another adventure begins!

First Week of Class

It’s been a week since class began and I had to buy a new planner to keep track of all my classwork and homework. Anatomy and Physiology definitely seems to be a dividing line in terms of coursework. This class has a once a week lecture, where we’re covering about two chapters, and a once a week lab class, where we handle application of those two chapters. I think there a lot of new college students in my lecture class because none of them seems to understand how to take notes. 90% of the class was frantically copying down notes–even though the notes are available on the school website and we were looking right at them.

So far, we’ve covered the body plan, general explanations of what A&P is, and a review of chemistry. This week, we cover the cell, and this weekend is a holiday because of Labor Day so I don’t have my Saturday lab. Yay! I’ll spend the time studying instead. 🙂

Quoth Little Miss Minion

Much like Edgar Allan Poe’s famous raven (quoth the raven: nevermore), Little Miss Minion has some phrases that are all her own. Please find a list here for your entertainment.

I’m a octopus officer. (She wanted to be a cop for like five minutes tonight)

Green beans go! (Green traffic light means go)

It was an assigent. (Accident)

Are you going to the hopsickle? (Hospital, where I volunteer in the NICU)

Is that your torn snickel? (Turn signal)

Are you frussrated? (Frustrated)

Are we waiting for the children? (Not really sure what this means, but she’s always waiting for the children or going to play with the children)

Squints at me while attempting to do the “I’m watching you” hand movement of two fingers pointed at your own eyes and then one finger at the other person. She can’t figure out how to do the two fingers by themselves, so she ends up kind of waving at her own face and then pointing at me, while squinting. It’s much less dramatic, but way cuter.

While listening to Siri beatbox yesterday: Mama, can I have catzenbooten again? She’s terrified of Siri but she wanted me to make her beatbox and sing part of bohemian rhapsody.

This is a fun age.

Little Miss Minion’s 4th Gotcha Day

4 years ago today, Mr Minion and I watched as the wires and stickers that had monitored our baby’s heart rate, oxygen levels, and respirations for the past three months were removed. We could see her whole face clearly, without the tube that had gone up her nose and into her stomach. We could pick her up and walk more than a few feet from her crib, something that would have been impossible due to the wires that monitored her vital signs. I vividly remember holding her carefully in my arms and slowly spinning in a circle near the large window in her room in the NICU that we had called home since May.  

As we waited for the discharge paperwork to be signed off on and for our nurses to go over instructions with us, I kept expecting the next person to come into the room to tell that there had been a mistake. That we couldn’t take our daughter home yet. We packed up her tiny preemie outfits, the mobile we had brought her to put on her hospital-issued crib, and her bottles. We also packed the jars of protein powder that we would have to supplement her bottles with for the next several months, and the diapers that were only slightly smaller than my cell phone. We packed her special issue Ultra Preemie bottle nipples, since she was still unable to handle the regular Preemie ones that were available in some stores.  

When our nurse finally came in and asked us if we were ready to head out, I could feel my eyes burning with terrified, excited, nervous, and overjoyed tears. We had arranged Little Miss Minion in her car seat and strapped her in, using rolled up towels, blankets, and washcloths to make sure she was secure. I carried her through the door of her room in the NICU and we walked through the unit, with Mr Minion and our nurse helping to carry the rest of her stuff. As we waited for the elevator to arrive, I waited for someone to run through the double doors with the news that we had to stay. The elevator arrived and the doors remained closed. We walked through the lobby of the hospital, seeing other parents leaving with their two day old full term babies as we left with our 3 month old, 5 pound miracle, who had already survived a Group B strep infection, meningitis, sepsis, and one surgery to implant a shunt to control the hydrocephalus she had developed as a result of those illnesses.  

When we made it to the front of the lobby, I tilted my head to look away from the Maternity Welcome Center, something I still do each time I visit the hospital for my volunteer work. We turned to walk through the vestibule that led to the parking garage and my daughter felt fresh air on her face for the first time since she had been born. We packed her things in the trunk and snapped her carseat into the back of our car. I rode in the back with her, and we stopped to get McDonald’s on the way home for lunch. The packaging was Minion-themed, and I still have a picture of it somewhere.  

While the memories of her birth and the immediate time before and after are fuzzy, thanks to the magnesium I was receiving by IV to prevent seizures or strokes, her Gotcha Day is carved into my memories with a chisel and I will remember every tiny detail of that day for the rest of my life. I will also remember how, when we took her for her first pediatrician visit a few days later, I got a compliment from a woman in the lobby who saw my ridiculously tiny baby and assumed she was a newborn, and said that I looked amazing and she couldn’t believe I had just had a baby. Since Little Miss Minion was three months early, I hadn’t really ever definitely looked pregnant, so after she was born, I looked mostly the same, except less puffy and swollen from the preeclampsia. I had only gained about 15 pounds, and between the stress of the NICU and exclusively pumping, I had lost about half of that. I just said thank you, laughed a little, and darted into the well-baby room to escape from the germ-filled waiting room. 

When I look back on where we started, I am amazed all over again at the tenacity of a 1 pound 14 ounce baby, born 3 months too soon, and the marvels of modern medicine that allowed us to bring her home. It solidifies my yearning to return to the NICU as a nurse, and makes me treasure my time spent there as a volunteer, speaking with parents who have found themselves in the NICU.  

Happy 4th Gotcha Day, Little Miss Minion. I’m so proud of you and everything you have overcome.

 

The Sims: Kid Edition

If you knew me in high school, you might know that playing The Sims used to be what I did in my free time. In case you are unfamiliar with The Sims, it is a computer game where the user gets to create a character and then build them a house, get a job, get married…essentially control their lives. I built starter homes (and didn’t cheat), built massive mansions (thanks, rosebud and motherlode), threw parties, and went on vacation. Once The Sims 2 came out, I created virtual versions of my favorite book characters and of course, of myself. My sister made a picture on Microsoft Paint for me in which my Sims came out of the computer and killed me, spilling my ever-present bowl of popcorn onto the floor as they continued their rampage into the real world.

Since I am a Grown Up now, and have to juggle things like my full time job, my family, going to school, and volunteering, I don’t get to play as much as I used to. Which was all the time. However, I learned several things from spending most of my teenage years playing The Sims that I think are beneficial in real life.

  1. Sim-Meter. This is the little box in the corner that tells you how your Sim is doing. It shows if they are tired, hungry, happy, getting enough socialization, having enough fun, if they consider themselves clean at the moment, have to go to the bathroom, etc. Kids have this box too, but they don’t know how to tell you about it. When Little Miss Minion was a couple weeks old, I took a class at the NICU about how to take care of a preemie. Preemies have different needs and reactions than full-term babies, so the NICU hosted classes to teach parents how to interact with their babies. One of the things they taught us was that preemies usually have a specific reason for crying and it is just a matter of figuring out what it is. We had to become experts at “reading the Sim-meter” for LMM. Was she hungry? Tired? Was there too much stimulation? Too much noise? Too much movement? Unlike full term babies, who usually love being rocked, preemies (especially micropreemies) DON’T handle rocking well. We got to be pretty good at reading LMM and figuring out what she wanted so that she could rest and grow stronger. Now that she’s a rambunctious 4 year old, its a little easier to read her meter because she will mostly tell us what she feels. Due to her shunt, she has an extra line on the meter, and she isn’t great at reading that one yet. Since we can’t see it, we aren’t always sure whether we are reading it right either. For example, yesterday we went to see a movie in the theatre for the first time with Little Miss Minion. It was a lot of sitting and she was late for her nap and lunch by the time we got home. She said her head hurt and she felt “yucky.” This causes instant alarms to go off because of her hydrocephalus, but since we don’t have a personal MRI in the basement (anyone know where to buy one?) we have to guess. She woke up from her nap and said she felt better, her head didn’t hurt anymore, and she didn’t feel yucky, so we are hoping it was just from being overtired. But since we can’t see the Shunt Line on her Sim-meter, we were deciding what the plan would be if we needed to take her to the hospital.
  2. Free Will. There is an option on The Sims to turn off Free Will. This means that your Sim will do whatever you tell it to do without stopping, unless the Sim-Meter drops to red in too many categories and they have a breakdown. In real life, there is no such option. You can tell your kid to put their shoes on for three hours straight, but whether or not they actually do it is up in the air. Hopefully, your kid listens on the first try, but usually it takes a couple of reminders and maybe a time out for them to finally do it. We are pretty lucky in that LMM usually pays attention to what we tell her to do, but if she doesn’t want to do it, good luck.
  3. Fun. Your Sim-meter will tell you if your Sim is having enough fun (or at least, doesn’t hate what they are doing). Things that bring down the Fun-Meter include practicing speeches for Charisma points, doing homework, watching something boring on TV, and doing anything that they don’t want to do. While you would think that this would translate well to real life, it is surprisingly difficult to pinpoint. This weekend, LMM was all energy and bouncing around. She was also really annoying, yelling gibberish songs and not listening to us. It wasn’t until late Saturday that we realized what was wrong. Since it is SO HOT outside, she hasn’t been spending as much time playing outdoors as she usually does. She was literally running in circles Saturday afternoon, which I think was the last puzzle piece. She wasn’t miserable, but she wasn’t having FUN, which for her is getting outside or running around and playing. We set up a little splash pool in the backyard and let her play in that for a while, then chased her around the house once it got too unbearable to be outside. Her mood improved and she paid more attention to us.
  4. Building skills. Your Sim needs to build their Skills to progress in their job and in their status. Little kids have to be taught to walk, use the potty, etc. Adults have to practice speeches to boost Charisma, work out to build Fitness points, etc. The same holds true in real life. You have to build skills and improve on them to succeed in most aspects of life. For LMM, we are focusing on fine motor skills that will improve her writing later on. We try to blend this with the Fun category so she enjoys it, such as painting a picture or coloring nicely. Coloring inside the lines may sound like a cliché, but it helps fine motor skills to grow as  the child controls the movement of the crayon with more precision.
  5. The last thing is the timed Life Stages aspect of The Sims 2. If you know how to do it, you can hack into the coding of the program and pause your Sim in any Life Stage so that you have time to get them where you want them. For example, you might have a Baby Sim and in 4 days, the baby will turn into a Toddler Sim. A week later, the Toddler will be a Child, then a Teen, then an Adult, etc. Certain people like myself might want to freeze time so they can perfect their Sim and max out all their Skills before they move on. This doesn’t happen in real life. You have to work with the time you have.

The Sims is a fantastic computer game and I don’t even know many hundreds or thousands of hours I spent in the glow of the screen as I shepherded countless Sims to glory (or death, because I wanted to have ghosts in my fancy mansion). And even though it is just a game and all of my points above are also common sense, I’m a visual person and I thought the parallels to gameplay and real life were interesting. I hope this has been amusing and entertaining for you. And maybe, if you find yourself feeling “yucky” one day and you can’t pinpoint WHY, go through your Sim-Meter and see what is low.

Baby Steps

They took Little Miss Minion’s nasal cannula out yesterday afternoon. The cannula was only there to help keep her lungs open. She handled it very well, even though I was watching the monitors and waiting for her to desat. They were hoping to see how she did and maybe try oral feeding later next week.

She did so awesome for the rest of the day yesterday that they said she could try practicing today. The lactation consultant got us all set up and LMM did perfectly!  I get to do it once a day until she gets used to it.

They think we might get to move to the stepdown unit soon! Baby steps will get us home in about 4-6 weeks!