Monday, March 31, 2008

Bad mommy

We were having a pretty good weekend, at first. Went to music class, where Bat Girl was her usual spunky, spirited self, and where another mom complimented me on how well-dressed BG is. Went to a first birthday party, where other parents remarked on BG's "cool personality" and on what an impressive walker she is and how energetic and inquisitive she is. So I was feeling like a pretty awesome mom, never mind the fact that none of these things is due to any excellence in parenting on my part. (Well, I guess I can take partial credit for how nicely I pair her hand-me-downs with Old Navy jeans.) That was Saturday.

Then on Sunday, I dropped Bat Girl on her head.

Okay, technically I merely dropped her, and her forehead HAPPENED to strike the top of the metal gate keeping her out of the kitchen, and then she HAPPENED to continue falling until she landed facedown on the floor with a sickening thud. And then there was that moment of silence before she started screaming when I thought, "Dear god, I killed my baby." And then the screaming, and the screaming, and the huge black and blue lump that immediately appeared on her forehead, and the attempted icing of said black and blue lump (do you know how hard it is to ice a toddler's forehead? we were only able to do it with the serious application of Blue's Clues*, and even then she kept trying to pull away and shove the icepack off because DAMMIT WOMAN I CAN'T SEE THE CLUES WITH THAT THING IN MY FACE!). And the googling of "baby concussion symptoms," and the flashbacks where I keep seeing her slip out of my arms, do a spiraling half-twist in the air, and plummet to the parquet.

But we're all fine now, really. The ice seems to have worked and the mark is hardly noticeable today. BG hasn't been vomiting or having seizures or walking funny or anything, and she was back to her regular cheerful (interspersed with screaming due to THE BOOK WON'T COME OFF THE SHELF FAST ENOUGH or THE SKWISH WON'T FIT INTO THIS BOX WHERE IT IS CLEARLY NOT DESIGNED TO FIT BUT I MUST MAKE IT FIT, because come on, she's a toddler) self pretty quickly. And I'm sure a head of white hair will look very stylish with my "World's Worst Mother" badge, right?

*Yes, she watches TV. Blue, and also the baby crack known as Yo Gabba Gabba. In fact, she will walk up to me, hand me the remote, and demand "Bwoo!" I'm telling ya, Mother of the Year over here.

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Monday, March 17, 2008


I have said repeatedly in the past year that I do not want any more kids. I used to think I wanted two, maybe three (as did my husband), but the arrival of Bat Girl was such a hurricane in our world--not to mention the tsunami of bed rest and its related physical, mental, and emotional destruction--that we could not imagine doing it again. At least not any time soon.

I don't know if it's hormones, or springtime, or what, but the last couple of weeks I've felt a weird pull in the other direction. Don't get me wrong--I am not even considering THINKING about getting pregnant again. I resolved from the beginning that I'd wait until Bat Girl was close to 2 before going down that road again.

But consider, if you will:

Exhibit A: Two weekends ago, I happened to catch an episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8. Now I know, the proper response to this show of any sane person--especially an infertile--is to run screaming in the other direction. These people are, as they themselves admit, a "fertility nightmare," an example of what you do NOT want to happen when you head to your friendly neighborhood fertility clinic. But instead of horror, I was filled with...longing? What? What is WRONG with me? It was seeing all those cute part-Korean toddlers running around with their little lisps and squishy bodies. Bat Girl hasn't quite grown into that yet, but she's getting there, and it was cool to think about what she's going to be like at 2 or 3 or 4...and then a little wistful, thinking about how cool it might be to see another kid go through the same stages. Maybe a little boy. I don't know. I got my period two days later, so I'd like to chalk it up to that.

Exhibit B: This weekend, we were watching the kid of a neighbor of ours--he's 9 and has brother-and-sister twins, age nearly-3. (And yes, ART was involved with the twins, as you might guess.) When his mom picked him up, the little ones squealed with delight to see their older brother, ran up and threw their arms around him screaming his name. He acted embarrassed but you could tell he was thrilled to be worshipped so much. I looked at the mother's beaming face and thought, "This is why you have another."

Exhibit C: This morning, talking to a friend whose mom is going through a tough time, and who wished "for the first time in my life," she said, that she had a sibling, someone who could share this burden with her.

The thing is, having a sibling is no guarantee of companionship, worship, or a helping hand--heck, I'd consider my brother and I decently close and we only talk once a month. But I do wonder what we--all of us, Bat Girl included--might be missing.

On the other hand, last night we also caught Dennis Quaid and his wife on 60 Minutes, talking about the medical error that nearly killed their newborn twins. A friend of mine just gave birth to a baby who will have lifelong disabilities (undetected on any of her prenatal tests or scans). I think about all the things that can go wrong, not least because of my wonky ute, and wonder how anyone can have the audacity to have children at all, much less tempt fate by trying again after having one healthy baby.


Thanks for all your comments and emails re: my plagio meltdown. It was especially helpful to hear from those of you who decided not to do anything about your kids' heads. (And from Ornery--hello, ORNERY!!! We miss you! Hope you and the babies are well!) I've decided to let it go and make my peace with Bat Girl's head shape. No one else notices it but me and my husband, and she'll grow hair soon (please? where is the hair?!?) and it won't be noticeable at all. I hope.


Work (and taxes) is kicking my ass right now. But I do have a (now two weeks late) post about Bat Girl at 13 months in the works, and lots of other stuff on my mind. Remember how I said, way back when, that I was going to post about sex, or lack thereof? I have so much to say about that. Next week I hope I'll have more time to write...


Monday, March 03, 2008


I don't think I've ever mentioned this before, but Bat Girl has a flat head.

To be precise, she has mild positional plagiocephaly--the rear right quadrant of her skull is flattened and the rear left quadrant pushes out very slightly. We first noticed the flat spot when she was around three months old, but in retrospect it's likely she came out of the womb that way, given the cramped conditions and her breech positioning. (Her right ear was also smushed and folded almost double for the first few weeks of her life.) She has always favored turning her head to the right, so it's also possible that she had very mild torticollis, especially in light of her resistance to nursing on my right boob (i.e. turning her head to the left). If she did, it was very mild, as she has no problems with range of motion now.

At her four-month well baby visit, we pointed out the flat spot to the pediatrician. She was unconcerned and recommended that we do some repositioning (bolstering Bat Girl when she slept so she turned to the left, etc.), which we had already already doing, and we left it at that. However, by this point Bat Girl was already rolling over and mostly slept on her tummy or side. Everything I read about plagio said that mild cases usually resolved themselves once the child started rolling and crawling, so I wasn't worried and pretty much forgot about it. We made an effort to keep her off the flat spot when we remembered, but it wasn't an obsession or anything.

By the time Bat Girl was 9 months old, the plagio was definitely no better, and in fact I worried that it was getting worse. Was her head bulging out to the left? Were her ears still misaligned? (Earlier, her right ear was visibly set further forward on her head than the left.) I brought it up to the pediatrician again, who took another good look at Bat Girl and said, essentially, yes, she has a flat spot, but it's not that bad, she doesn't need a helmet, and once she grows some hair you won't even notice it.

But I kept obsessing about it, on and off. I'd go through periods where I thought, oh, it's not so bad, you can't even tell. Then I'd catch sight of the top of her head in a mirror and think, holy crap, and then spend two or three days googling pictures of pre-banded plagio babies' heads until I worked myself into a panic. But I thought it was probably too late to do anything about it, and to be honest, I really did not want Bat Girl to wear a helmet. I just didn't. So I stuck my head in the sand.

Over the last month or two, though, I've read about Statia's battle to get the Mini banded, and have emailed with her about her experience, and I started to think, why not just see a neurologist and get it checked out, just for peace of mind? So last week I prepared myself for battle and called the pediatrician. Who, of course, gave me no hassles at all about it and gave me the names of 4 pediatric neurologists. Only one of them accepts our insurance, so I called the office to make an appointment. Here is how it went:

Me: I'd like to make an appointment with Dr. Fancypants.
Bitchy Receptionist: What's the diagnosis?
Me: Plagiocephaly.
BR: And how old is the infant?
Me: Actually, she's a year old.
BR: Oh, Dr. Fancypants doesn't see plagio patients older than 10 months. Why are you just calling now?
Me: Our pediatrician felt it might get better on its own, but it hasn't really improved, so--
BR: Well, it's never going to improve. It's too late, her skull has hardened.

AARGH! Setting aside the fact that YOU, BITCHY RECEPTIONIST, ARE NOT A DOCTOR, AND IN FACT HAVE NO MEDICAL TRAINING WHATSOEVER, I have read of plenty of cases where children have been banded as late as 18 months and shown improvement--not as much as if they were banded before 9 months, true, but it's not totally unheard of. Also, WTF?!?!?!?!? Why not just tell me, "I'm sorry, Dr. Fancypants doesn't see plagio patients older than 10 months"? You could even add, "He feels that after 10 months is too late for treatment." There is no need for you, bitchy receptionist with no medical training, to editorialize and diagnose MY child over the phone. Ugh.

Unfortunately, my default reaction in cases such as these is to fall apart and start to cry, rather than opening up a can of whoop-ass as this woman so richly deserved. So instead of ripping BR a new one, I hung up and felt like the worst mother in the world. Why hadn't I pushed for a referral sooner? Was Bat Girl's head going to be fucked up for the rest of her life, and would she resent us forever for not fixing it?

I'm still debating whether to call around and see if one of the other neurologists our ped recommended will see Bat Girl. It will probably cost around $350 for the appointment (that's average for a non-insurance-covered office visit around here) and it seems likely that another doctor will tell us there isn't much they can do, given that BG has passed the optimal banding age. The money is definitely a factor--obviously if it would help BG, there's no amount of money I wouldn't spend, but if it's just to be told "Sorry," I don't know if it's worth it. The head shape looks bad from some angles, but other times it seems fine, and honestly I've been looking at it so much, I don't know what to think anymore. Her ears have definitely evened out, so maybe it's getting better.

My main concern is that it not cause other problems for her down the road, and it seems like long-term effects are usually in severe cases where there's facial asymmetry. BG doesn't have any facial asymmetry due to the plagio--back in September she was diagnosed with mild ptosis, but after the Bitchy Receptionist encounter I called the pediatric opthalmologist we saw back then (whom I LOVE, btw, if anyone needs a ped. opthalmologist in the Big City area) and he assured me that the ptosis was "100%" not caused by any head shape irregularities. (And I believe him, because I also have a slight asymmetry between my eyes, as does my dad.)

In the end, it comes down to the guilt, as always. Guilt for not noticing sooner, guilt for not being more aggressive with repositioning--we turned her so her head faced the other way when she was lying down, sure, but we could have also changed the way we held her during feedings, etc. etc. On the other hand...we did tons of tummy time, she spent no time in a car seat and very little in a bouncy seat or swing (was in-arms practically constantly her first three months of life), she rolled over and crawled early, so what else could we have done? Other than call a doctor and get her banded, of course.

At the very least, this is another fun thing we can blame on my stupid uterus. (Intrauterine crowding due to twinning, uterine anomalies, and/or breech positioning can lead to plagiocephaly. Too bad our pediatrician didn't know that, or didn't mention it when BG was two weeks old and I told her I had a UU and asked if there was anything we should watch out for in BG as a result--she said, "Nope, nothing!") And we like blaming things on my stupid uterus.

I don't know...forgive all the rambling. What would you do?

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