I Cry Uncle

I’ve been fighting the good fight and soldiering on as my mom would say, but I’m pooped.  Two kids, working, wifeager to my husband’s career, I can keep the balls in the air okay, but Rex waking up like he does is starting to CRACK ME. Crying babies in the night remind me of when I dated an alcoholic. At night is when is when he was his most belligerent, verbally abusive, showing erratic behavior, and then in the light of day he was full of life, smiles, buying me presents. Okay, Rex’s presents come wrapped in a diaper. But when he smiles at me and giggles, it’s like a lobster dinner.

Just called the pediatrician. I told her that after I had nursed him the in middle of last night, he would go down. I had to deal with Vivien having a bad dream and while I did that, Mark gave him a big, full bottle of breast milk. Rex then slept for almost 5 hours. Unheard of around here. So I asked the doctor, maybe I am not nursing enough for him? She said his weight and height are good, but babies go through growth spurts and to give him a bottle extra at night. I asked if I should throw in a little formula (the powder kind, not the pre-mixed stuff; he hates that) at bedtime. I think she said it’s okay, but honestly my memory ain’t what it use to be.

Just now he was fussing for nap time. I had been sucked clean, so I wrapped him up, pacifier, and vibey chair  (my go-to, sure-fire tool),  and he was crying. I did something I haven’t done… walked away. Let him cry. I could hear the chorus of “bad mother” in my head as I stayed away. And after 5 minutes… nothing. I crept in. He is asleep. All in the time it took me to write this.

So, time for Ferber at night? Any clues or suggestions on this time of life I would appreciate because I know I didn’t do much with Viv till she was 1. But then I wasn’t working… and I was able to hire some night-time help to ease the sleep deprivation problem.

Oh, the last picture is just Rex’s copious spit up… I gave up on dressing him by 12. He had gone through 4 outifits already.

The “Night Before Oprah” Day

I thought Oprah day would feel different. It was exciting to do it, but I watched the show with my husband in our infant son’s hospital room. Not the viewing party I had envisioned.

Early Sunday morning, Rex felt hot and was needy. He didn’t want to sleep alone. We took his temp and seeing a temp of over 101, we gave him Baby Tylenol. He seemed better but drowsy most of the day. In the afternoon, I noticed the fever had returned. I gave him Tylenol and held him for two hours. When I checked, the fever was still there. Odd. When I got ahold of his doctor, I was a little surprised that she said, “Take him to the emergency room.”

At 8:30p.m., Rex and I waited for an hour, and then Mark showed up. He had to wait for our babysitter to be with Vivien and Oliver. The ER waiting room is bleak and dirty. Rex was sleepy in my arms. Sometimes, I could get him to nurse. I looked like hell and was pretty sure some of the sketchy and forlorn folks were getting a glimpse of my breast, but the ER wears us all down so even naked flesh is not appealing.

Mark and I were shocked when (after an hour in the ER exam room) the doctor told us plainly that Rex needed to be hospitalized for 48 hours (I said, “Well, I’m going with him”), have a catheter take his urine, have an IV and blood drawn, and have spinal fluid extracted. Doc, he is 7 weeks old. I just left a hospital after delivering him. Isn’t this an ear infection?

We learned that any fever for a baby under 2 months is a red flag for Meningitis. And I learned that we could all get through what the doctor told us would be “one of the roughest nights of our lives;” he wasn’t making that up.

They wheeled Rex and I on a gurney to another room off the ER. By now, it was close to midnight. Before everything began, I said to Mark, “I’d feel so much better if I could do this instead of him.” “Yes,” he agreed.

I lay on the gurney, sometimes nursing Rex, always holding him. First was the catheter to get a sample. Not pleasant, but not the worst. Now the IV and a blood sample. I knew from Cool Mom readers to ask for the best stick, and one nurse said she was. I felt she was too young to be, but another nurse agreed. I lay Rex down on the gurney, and he was already crying. He knew. As I went to his feet, I saw my husband move Rex’s side. I have never seen Mark cry, but now his face was red, and his eyes filled with tears. We tried to reassure Rex as the needle went in his tiny arm.  But no, all she did was bruise him. Not the best stick after all. I picked Rex up and started to nurse him. Within minutes I heard “Ready, mom?” from a middle-aged, stone-faced nurse who had taken the other nurses’ places. “Oh,” I said. “Are you good at this?”

“Yes,” she answered, and she was just old enough to make me believe her. She put the IV in the top of his hand. It worked. They taped a little board covered in gauze to keep it in place. After that, Rex was ready to nurse, which was a relief to me, and it meant we were two-thirds over with this torture. New shift brought a new nurse whom I really liked: a slender man who seemed very bright and compassionate. Later I would learn he was a former Marine who had done two duties in Iraq, which made me trust him more. He and the doctor wanted to wait while I nursed before the spinal.

When the time came, Mark and I wanted to get it over with. The former Marine said we could stay or leave the room. That “different parents do both.” Mark asked me what I wanted to do. I said, “If Rex has to go through this the least we can do is be here with him and let him know we haven’t left him.”

The Marine put Rex gently on his side and held his body in place while the doctor–who I liked- shot Lidocaine into Rex’s back. I got down on the floor and put one hand on his head, stroking, the other to his hand. Rex gripped my finger with his whole fist. Strangely, when the doctor extracted the spinal fluid, Rex stopped crying and his face took on a look of resignation, like, “Oh good, they are just going to keep doing stuff to me.” It broke my heart, and yet I thought him so brave. Then it was over. The Marine said the fluid was clear, and he doubts Rex has Meningitis. But we have to wait 48 hours for the cultures, and while Rex is in the hospital, they will give him the antibiotics by IV in case he does have Meningitis.

It was 3 a.m., and we were still in the little room when the residents asked us the same questions about Rex’s illness. I finally told mark to go home. No point in both of us being ruined. He left to return in the a.m. to bring me breakfast. And he needed to be home when Viv woke up. I had called my sister Carole’s house after midnight, and her dear husband Kevin said right away, “What can we do?”  I asked them to take care of Viv the following day, which they did.

I nursed Rex as all our bags and car seat, were loaded next to me and we were finally wheeled into our own room on the pediatric level. Our new home. I so was tired I had to stare at the crib for a minute before I realized I wouldn’t fit. They kindly wheeled a regular bed in as they knew I needed to hold Rex all night.

And I did.

Luxury Pediatrician

As a native of LA, I spent 12 years in Northern California enduring the dumbest, most narrow-minded insults from well-to-do liberals who parroted what others had said before. They would constantly say that LA was superficial, that we were jacked up with breast implants, and never read a book. As if LA was the land of Entertainment Weekly on every avenue. People in San Francisco, and points a tad north and east and south of there, never seemed to grasp that THEY WERE THE INSULAR RICH PEOPLE. SF is one the whitest places I have ever been. It’s politically homogeneous. A moderate would be considered a fascist there. There was only one Jewish deli in town, and truth be told, it wasn’t that good.

When my friend Bonnie was about to move down here from Marin County, I said, “Don’t believe any of the bull sh– Nor Cal people tell you about what’s bad about living in LA.” I told her, “People are friendlier here.” (It took me two years to make a friend in SF). “You can go hang out with ‘hey look me over’ people if you want, but there are plenty of all other types as well.”

What is harder here, is you are in an urban, mixed population. Traffic, density, lots of public schools you would rather not send your kid to. That unlike Marin, Palo Alto, or most of SF ( except for three blocks that haven’t been mowed down by redevelopment), you can be wealthy and be right next to working class people of all colors. You will go to a doctor who treats all classes and so forth.

Bonnie moved here, and she said she was like, “Oh, yeah, this is a city.” As you drive across town, you will see all types. She also grew to really like LA and is now bummed her work has taken her back up north. And here is the punch line. Check out the picture.

That is her daughter’s new pediatrican in Palo Alto. A huge playground, a library. I have never seen anything like it in LA. It’s perfect that it’s in Palo Alto. A rich, liberal enclave full of people yammering on about how insulated and superficial LA is. Right, the “real” people live in Palo Alto, where life just keeps coming at you.