Saturday, December 29, 2007


alternate title: Isabella's First trip to the ER

My poor, sweet, sick baby. No, it's not serious, thank God - just the Cold From Hell. So I thought I would take this as an opportunity to do a little more teaching, nurse-style. We're taught use any opportunity to educate, so here it goes.

RSV: Respiratory Syncytial Virus. "a cold on steroids", Dr. Mylander from the Pediatric Center, at Bella's follow-up appointment.

Symptoms: fever, runny nose, cough, wheezing or other difficulty with breathing (sound like almost every other infant illness?) Bella had sounded like she was catching a cold for a few days, but nothing earth-shattering so I wasn't concerned. However, by Thursday afternoon she sounded like a whistle with each breath. (In medical-speech, we call it expiratory wheezing/stridor.) *Important Note: Respiratory symptoms in kids can progress quickly and become serious, so pay attention to them. No doc will berate you for being concerned about ANY trouble breathing.* It was this principle that led us to the ER (after calling the doc) that evening.

Treatment: Some places are happy to report in typical eschatological fashion that RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization among children under 2. The CDC clarifies that only 0.5%-2% of RSV cases requite hospitalization. About 80% of kids would test positive for having had it at some point, but most are not serious. We spent 4 hours in the ED, but after a nasal-swab (for diagnosis), a chest x-ray (to rule out pneumonia) and a nebulizer treatment (for the wheezing) we were on our way home.

Like most virus, it's a waiting game. Symptoms can last anywhere from 3-15 days. You CANNOT USE ANTIBIOTICS - it is a virus, and therefore unaffected by antibiotics. Use a humidifier in baby's bedroom, suck their noses (my favorite part - yuck!), warm baths, and whatever other tricks for lessening congestion you have up your sleeve. Baby Tylenol isn't a bad thought, either. Because Isabella is still wheezing we are also using a nebulizer at home under a doctor's order.

I also read that like most virus, it can be transmitted on doorknobs, cups, toys, etc. However, it's life span outside the body is only a few hours, and the virus is washed away with simple soap and water. yay!

So, now the obligatory note on proper handwashing!!! PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS, AND the KIDS' HANDS OFTEN! Here's a video on proper handwashing technique. Proper technique is actually very important, and multiple studies have proven over and over again. *tip: you are supposed to scrub with soap for 10-15 seconds. A good way to time this is to either say a Hail Mary or sing "happy birthday." That's a good thing to get your kids into the habit of, also! (My nieces and nephews don't like my hand-washing supervision anymore :) )

Here's a good website for the details on RSV if you are interested in learning more.


Isabella is doing better, I think. Even that night in the ER she was acting fine, the little devil. She was babbling and blowing raspberries, pulling on the doc's stethoscope while he was trying to assess her breathing, and rolling over on the gurney. I wasn't really worried, but as I mentioned before an infant's breathing problems can become very serious very quickly, so I wanted the doc to check it out.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Buon Natale!

May the joy and peace of this blessed Christmas season be with you and those you love!

We had a very nice Christmas, of course! It was Isabella's first, obviously, and as the man behind us at midnight Mass said, our "Last free one. before you know it they want Gucci purses."

Yes, we made it to Midnight Mass. I LOVE midnight Mass SO MUCH! I love everything from arriving in the dark in the cold air, like all pictures of the Nativity always look. I love walking into a dimly lit church, with the choir singing soft, beautiful hymns. The candles burning, and trees and poinsettias, the hushed excitement of everyone waiting for the celebration of the Birth of our Savior to begin. Although theologically this is not the absolute high of the liturgical year, it is dear in the hearts of many Christians, as we celebrate the beginning of the Life that would save us. *interesting fact: I learned a few years ago that some South Americans who were converted away from Catholicism to LDS and Seventh-Day Adventists still attend Midnight Mass as part of their Christmas celebration. They just consider it part of Christmas.*

Bella did pretty well during Mass - she did, of course, wake up. But then she proceeded to smile and charm everyone around us. I do think she was the only baby there! Brave (read: crazy) parents!

Pictures taken last week:
Look what Santa left in our stockings! ->

Santa in the carseat courtesy of Sara

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Have you ever seen such a sweet little picture? OK, yes, your pictures of your own kids, I agree. But for me this was my favorite Christmas picture. It also sums up her impression of her first Christmas.

<- this was at the end of Christmas day - exhausting, wasn't it?
-> Bella hasn't fallen asleep like this for a while - it was wonderful! True, she was so overtired that she didn't know quite what else to do... I'll take what I can get!
Are you beginning to see how much I love pictures of babies sleeping? And when that babe is my own, with whom I was up 5 times last night, pictures of her sleeping are truly impossible to pass up. I need reminders of just how Sweet she looks while she's sleeping - I don't seem to be getting many glimpses lately :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Santa and Jesus?

I often wonder why there is such controversy in the Christian world over Santa. Why do some people hate a representation of childhood joy and the spirit of selflessness and giving? We have fantasy in other parts of life with our children – Disney Princesses come to mind, as well as trains or puppets that talk, or vegetables that dance and sing. I especially like the example of the VeggieTales (at least the Big Idea ones, before the buy-out). Is there a possibility of celebrating Christ’s Birth, a Holy and Beautiful day without having to exclude fantasy?

I like Santa. NOT more than Christ, Not as a replacement for the Real Reason. But rather I like him as a way of allowing children to have fun and joy while growing in a spirit of giving. I think a lot of this has to do with the way I was raised. We grew up with a LOT of joy around Christmas. My parents worked very hard to create a magic of childhood that I can only describe as amazing. I learned a lot from their attitude. While I do plan to make a few changes, especially in the Advent department, I hope to continue some of the magical tradition of santa. (Anyone looking for ideas should ask; my mother was truly amazing! I’m not sure I will admit how long I believed in santa…)

Maybe the secret lies in Advent itself. Are the kids spending their time looking through magazines for what they want, or are they cleaning out their toys to give to children in need? Are they reading only books about jolly elves, or are you reading Scripture that gives light to the anticipation of the Messiah?! Do they write multiple letters about what they want, or did you pick a tag from the giving tree and involve them in shopping for the other family??? I, for one, believe that these examples help keep even children focused on the real reason, and acting as Christ wants us to. He came into the world out of Unconditional Love; are we showing and helping our kids learn how to show self-less love?

One thing I did a couple of years ago with 2 nieces was set up the Nativity scene with them. My mom has a large “Italian garden-style” Fontanini Nativity. As we unwrapped each piece I made up stories about the other characters, telling tales about the pottery man, the woman at the well, the children. I recounted scripture about the centurion reading the decree that all should be taxed and the kings following a star, and asked them what they thought the shepherds were thinking when they went into the fields that night. It took a long time to unwrap the 50ish pieces and set them up, and the girls LOVED every minute! I plan to do something similar with our kids; it’s fun to deck the halls, but taking time to focus on the Nativity set-up could help remind everyone involved why you’re doing it.

I have no problem with people choosing not to celebrate with santa! If keeping him out of Christmas is what it takes for you to keep Christ in Christmas then by all means PLEASE do so! I respect that decision! I abhor the way the anti-Christian minority has replaced all meaning of Christmas with secular emptiness. All I’m saying is that including santa and allowing kids to be excited about the mystery and magic of the jolly old man does not automatically exclude the Joy of Christ’s Birth.

I posted before that growing up with the excitement of Santa may have helped prepare my heart for the anticipation and joy of a grown-up spiritual Advent. Knowing that this time of year was different than any other sets the stage for Christ to come in – at least for me. Yes, most people think I’m crazy. But before condemning santa as a pagan element that is only a representation of the commercialism of our society and the secularization of our Religious Christmas, consider that it might be possible to teach kids about Christmas using Santa.

morning tears

I had the best of plans to make it to Mass every day this week. Well, most weeks I think I am going to Mass every day, since there is a 9am just a few minutes from here; this week, however, I was thinking that for the last week of Advent I really wanted to go everyday.

Isabella slept all night in her crib (waking up once) until 0620! And then I laid her in the bed next to me because I'm lazy at that hour; then at 0750 she woke up screaming! Sad, Sad, Sad!!! So after an hour and a half of tired/hurt crying, I put her down and she fell asleep in her crib laying on her stuffed hippo.

No Mass today...

Being a mommy: Loving them and hurting for them SO much you are certain your heart is going to fall out of your chest.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

once a nurse...

Nursing (the profession, as in Registered Nurse - Kate Tramma, RN, BSN) is a permanent change to one's brain. Although I am a stay-at-home-and-loving-it Mommy, my brain still works like a nurse's, with the constant desire to assess and teach. So today I was having my glass of Light Cranberry Juice (1/3 calories!) and thinking what a great preventative. How many other people, especially women, know of the simple and wonderful benefits? How many other little tidbits are there from which other women could benefit? SO every once in a while I will throw out a little advice that could help. Not everyone will care, and a lot of people probably already know this stuff. But on days like today, when I have down-time and not a lot of motivation I will fill up my blog entry with random advice from a nurse. :)

Cranberry Juice: Cranberries have gotten a lot of attention in the health-food world in the past few years. Just buy a package and it says "Little berry, Big benefits!" Why? Well, antioxidants, like most berries. But cranberries are unique, and the benefits can be gotten from one glass of juice a day, or every couple of days. note: please don't be tempted to overdo it - too much juice gives unnecessary calories, increases dental caries. Really, just a little goes a long way. Which is another reason I like the "light" variety, of course.
UTIs: every woman knows what that stands for, and those with kids or pregnant cringed just now reading it. lol, at least I do when I hear it. So there is a special chemical compound in cranberries that inhibits bacteria adhering to the urinary tract. This, with plenty of water helps the body flush out bacteria, preventing an infection.
Fat: Nope, not a miracle weight-loss solution! However, it does help emulsify fats, so it can, to a certain degree, attack fat cells stored in the body. If you are drinking enough to add 300 Cal/day, it doesn't help...
Infections: In 2002 there was a study that suggests that cranberry may inhibit a certain strain of bacteria (Haemophilus influenzae) that commonly causes respiratory and ear infections especially in kids. I'm not sure how much weight to put on this one, so take it with a grain of salt. It's just a theory out there, so don't swear by it.

I love advice of this nature, so that's why I decided to share with anyone who reads my blog. I know this may be old news to some, but if people are at all interested, I will keep adding health update posts. It's one way to keep me fresh in the medical world, too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

as that Bella, goes rolling, along...

A whole new world has opened up - a world in which the scenery changes suddenly, bringing into view new things to reach for and chew on! Isabella is a rollin' roly-poly! Although she has rolled before on a few random occasions, just last week she started rolling with a purpose, and is more aware that is it she who moves herself. And boy oh boy is it fun! Today I put her in Rachael's crib to watch the mobile in hopes of her falling asleep. Ha! No sleep was to be had, but after 10 minutes of quiet I went to check on her, and she had flipped herself over and was playing with a toy. "Enough of that mobile stuff; I need something to put in my mouth!"

Which brings me to my next bulletin: I finally believe her to be teething. *sigh* At least I believe that there has to be a logical explanation for the emotional trauma and sleepless nights that have been going on. And Bella has been having a rough time, too. :) Isabella has been chewing on everything lately, and if it's possible she's drooling more than before, too. I don't yet feel anything different on her gums, but she finally got some Tylenol the other night and teething drops courtesy of Aunt Michelle. We slept for a whole 3 hours! So far I think I recommend them for teething babies; they're 100% natural and (if nothing else) give her something comforting to think about for a little while. Who knows when the ugly beasts will show themselves.

We have been to 2 breakfasts with Santa, and she really could not care less. She's 5 months old -it's a fuzzy soft place to sit! Who knows, should I actually decide to send out post-Christmas wasn't-she-beautiful picture cards (highly unlikely as it looks now, but ya never know...) she is awfully cute!

I would love her to start sucking her thumb so we could ditch the pacifier. However, I don't think it's really the thumb I'm interested in, but rather a sign that she is moving toward self-soothing. I have to admit I'm really weary of the swaddling-pacifier-shushing-aerobic routine. Now, the aerobic workout that accompanies her screaming fits have great cardio benefits and I'm sure burn at least the calories from my glass of skim milk but sadly probably not the cookie... *sigh* I just think that we're at a turning point in her bedtimes, and it would make me feel better if she would find her precious little built-in soother when she's laying in her crib screaming her head off. On day we will all sleep again... I hope :) (This is where I put my plug in asking for forgiveness for my terrible grammar, typos galore, and scant and random blogging.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Courtesy of Bishop Fulton Sheen

In reading the daily devotionals of Advent and Christmas by Fulton Sheen I was really struck by this particular day's:

"For old age is not honored
for length of time
or measured by number of years;
but understanding is grey hair for anyone,
and a blameless life is ripe old age...
Being perfected in a short time
they fulfilled long years;
for their souls were pleasing to the Lord
therefore He took them quickly..."
Wisdom 4:8-9, 13-14
"There is no escape from the tremendous fact of Christmas Day, that when God revealed Himself to this poor world of ours, men cried in astonishment "Why, it is a child?" And so it is that the closer we get to God the more we become children, and the closer God gets to us the more He becomes a Child. No one in the world ever suspected that the Ancient of Days who presided at creation would take His throne in that creation as a babe in a crib, just as no one ever thought He would tell the old men of forty, like Nicodemus, that they must be born again.
"According to all worldly standards, it is the aged who are learned. And yet when Wisdom came to earth He was a child, and when Wise Men came to Wisdom they were told to be like children. Christmas, then, is the coronation of childhood,the glorification of the young whose hearts are simple, the proclamation to aging hearts that the world need not despair and die, because the Fountain of Youth has come into it... turn time backwards, make old things young again."
~Fulton Sheen
emphasis added... not that it needed it.....

Monday, December 10, 2007

daily antics

Giving Mama grey hair, TODAY. Not when I start walking, not when I get my driver's license. Today. When I heard the swing make it's "working extra hard like the weight shifted or there's a blanket dragging" sound I went to check it out, only to find my little one sitting up happy as can be eating her blanket.

Daddy gave me my first bottle ever. I was NOT at all impressed.

Check out this thing! After a cold and yucky search, we found it, and then brought the great outdoors inside. How cool is this? ... I can't wait to see what she thinks when there are lights and ornaments!

I really, really love my toes. God sure knew
what He was doing when He gave me such great toys, right there at the bottom of my legs! Darn those socks that hide them - they come off and I eat my toes any chance I get.

what a day...

Yesterday was...

First, Mass: Angela and the girls and the 3 of us. What is the unspoken rule in the diaper world that says "thou shalt poop the minute you get settled in the pew after Mass starts?" We have 2 baby carriers, 2 diaper bags, and a toddler who wants her milk that very second. The poor ladies behind us! I try to discreetly leave to change my stinky girl in a pretty dress, which is very hard when I'm squeezing by Angela et. al. While I'm in the bathroom changing my little stinker, in comes Angela with Sara, another stinky girl in a pretty dress. Sara, not Angela. :) The rest of Mass was Sara's quest for the stuff in my diaper bag and Bella being the Queen of the Wiggles. whew!

Home to nap? Never! Off to my parents' house for brunch, where my Uncle Chris announces his engagement to long-time girlfriend Leslie. Apparently we're busy April 26th, heading down to Annapolis. :) My folks' house is always filled with fun and chaos, and of course yesterday was no exception. We finally left so we could go get our Christmas Tree; we like to go the "cut your own" farms, which are only open on weekends. We were on a mission - a Cold, Overcast, Mucky Mission. Of course. We lose the 2nd baby sock in 2 days. different pair, of course. If you ever see my child in mis-matched socks, keep your mouth shut. ;-p

But Wait! There's More! After dinner Patrick and I took Bella (obviously) and Sara to our church's "Lessons and Carols" which we enjoyed last year. It's a series of readings leading through the prophesies and laying the framework for the Birth of Jesus in scripture, interspersed with Advent songs/carols. It was done well - at least what I heard of it. "Beyya seep" "Yes, Bella is asleep, sshhh!!! do you want to read the book?" "*whisper* Sara, sit right next to me, honey. Good girl" *thump* LOUD crying. scoop Sara up and RUN to the back. On my way back I hear Bella wake up. Oh Goody. Back to the front where I exchange girls with Patrick - "Sara, sit on Uncle Pat's lap." Back to the ladies' room to feed Bella, and over the speaker I hear Sara break down again, and a phone ring that sounds suspiciously like mine. *sigh* We left right after that, and for that I'm sure we had many thankful participants.

We, including Bella, slept pretty well last night!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Joyful Anticipation

Happy Advent! I know I am a few days late jumping in on the "Advent posts" ; I seem the past week to be off my game, having trouble stringing together a complete thought. Some might suggest that this is no change from normal for me... Whether it is the cold I've been fighting off, or the circumstances of Isabella waking up every 2 hours at night, I decided it was best to stay away from blogging. But, I'm back this morning!

Advent is my favorite time of the year, hands down. As a child there was great anticipation leading up the Day of Days, the grandest, greatest, most wonderful Day of the year. While Santa was very big (no pun intended) in our house, there was always more to Christmas gift-giving than the gluttonous consumerism that plagues much of society. But more on that later. Right now I am thinking about the most joyful anticipation that I encounter during the year. The intense joy cultivated in me as a child has continued to grow over the years, and I would say mature right along with me.
May I dare to submit, in fact, that the happiness surrounding a child's anticipation of Santa grew and matured and has carried into a grown-up spiritual anticipation of the Birth of our Lord. It's like the mystery and magic of Santa tilled the soil in my heart for much more important planting. OK, I could go on about this all day, and at the end of it many of you will still think I am silly. oh well :)

This Advent, I (along with several girl friends) am reading Fulton Sheen's Advent and Christmas as a spiritual meditation. The first week has already been really good for me, calling me to some good scripture reflection and daily prayer. I recommend it for people who are looking for a little help throughout the day to stay focused! The very first day set the stage:

" God walks into your soul with a silent step."
See, right there - I love the hustle-and-bustle! But I am reminded each day to take some time for me to listen to God's voice.
I may have mentioned in this post how much I love Advent and the Christmas season - this could mean excessive blogging (you don't have to read it!) as I always seem to have lots to share. On the other hand, if last week was any indication of how my days are going to go, I might forget how to use a computer!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

5 Month-Old Adventures

Just 5 months - we've hit a few more growing points with a vengeance! She is doing much better sitting up - with help :) And we've discovered that the "boppy" pillow, which was useless for nursing, is the best "baby sofa" ever! Thanks Angela! Bella will happily sit there for a while playing with whatever toys she can reach for. It provides enough support that I can walk away for a few minutes, at least. And then the quest for the unreachable toy... usually one she has managed to push out of her own reach - darn those hands! So she leans wwaaayyyyy forward to reach for it. You know how the weebles wobble but they won't fall down? Although my baby may be shaped like a little weeble, she does, in fact, do a fantastic face plant. There is one of 2 responses at this time - either she's within reach of the desired toy, or she's just ticked that she's on her face. Ah, the adventures!

We went to the doctor's last week, so the stats are in: 13 lbs, 9 ozs. 25 1/4 inches long. Small side of normal range, but growing on the same curve she has been since birth! Everything that she "should" (those books crack me up) be doing she's handling just fine.

This morning we spent 10 minutes on her favorite activity - laying naked (plus diaper, I'm not stupid!) on the changing table blowing raspberries, cooing, tickling, and eating her toes. She LOVES this! She laughs so much when tickled, especially on her sides and feet. Mama's daughter! Also, she got a good grip on those elusive toes with both hands, allowing her several minutes of the purest toe-chewing pleasure. Then I decided that it was too darn cold for her to be laying naked up there anymore, and broke up the party by dressing her. What a party-pooper.
Two nights ago we began the process of moving her out of our room. *sigh* So, so, SO far away to her own bedroom, her own crib. Now, allow me to lay some framework, lest you think I am nothing but dramatic. (of course anyone who knows me knows that I am not in the least dramatic. right?) So Isabella is my little mover - she has slept in a swing since she stopped sleeping on my chest, at a few weeks old. For many months, when the swing stops, her eyes open. It's like magic! I have been putting her in the crib to nap almost every day, at least once a day to start the transition. I find transitioning during the day helpful, as we all sleep at night. :) And heaven knows that's important! Anyways, I started telling Patrick to put her in the crib if she's fast asleep at night. Little did I know how much I was NOT ready for this!
I get all ready for bed. Check on her. Lay down, jump up to get my water... as long as I'm up I might as well check on her! Snuggle in, and proceed to talk to Pat about my concern about not hearing her until she's wide awake and screaming. Go check on her. Ha, she had started to fuss, so pacifier and I'm back in bed. I start to talk to my poor hubby again; out of nerves I can't seem to shut up! My dear, beloved Hubby says "Please let at least one of us sleep tonight?!" She slept for 2 1/2 hrs there and then ate and back in the swing. For the record, I had managed to fall asleep. We all did fine:) One night at a time, she will move out of our room, and one night at a time, I will sleep.