My baby had bacterial meningitis

Lately it seems everyone we talk to compliments us on how healthy Jade is looking. She’s happy, healthy, and, while still rather tiny, resuming her growth and skill progression as any little baby should.

Last month, on February 1st, we found ourselves in the emergency room receiving the diagnosis of bacterial meningitis. That was a fun week, let me tell you.

One morning, sometime in the middle of January, Jade woke up rather sick. She was tired, pale, and vomiting. A pleasant situation for everyone, I assure you. Well, Layne worked from home that day as well as the next, that second day being when he ran Jade into the doctor’s office where she was diagnosed with an ear infection. Antibiotics were prescribed and we carried on.

But she wasn’t quite perking up as we hoped. About a week later, I took her into Urgent Care. Ear infection still doing its thing. We carried on. And then a few days later, at the close of the original antibiotic, we went back into our family doctor office. Ear infection was still hanging out in one ear, and another, stronger, antibiotic was prescribed.

Jade still acted sickly, but not as she was originally. Layne was working in Park City for that week, and one day I stayed home when Jade acted particularly sick. Toward the end of the week, health finally seemed to be on the return. She was happier, had a better appetite, and crawled and played more. We were getting our happy baby back.

Then, that Sunday, she ended her run of the second antibiotic. Okay. The next day, she went downhill and downhill fast. We all knew something was wrong. Our daycare provider said she was sick. My mom said she was sick. We knew she was sick. So we made another appointment and went into the doctor. We couldn’t see our regular doctor, so the appointment was made with a nice NP. I dragged in Ruby and the pale and frail Jade. The nice NP examined her, a frown appearing as she said “this isn’t right.” She went and she pulled out regular doctor from whatever he was doing. He also examined her… and told us he was seeing signs of meningitis and that we ought to get down to Primary Children’s Hospital.

Whoa, I thought. Layne was at work. I called him and told him we needed to head down to Salt Lake City and we made plans to meet at his office. I dropped Ruby off at my parents’ with hardly a by your leave, and they weren’t even home and my sister found herself in charge. And off we went to the hospital to sit in the ER waiting room.

At this point, everyone wasn’t positive it was meningitis. Our doctor said he was actually betting on dehydration, but still wanted us to get it checked out by those more powerful. Even the ER doctors were asking repeatedly for just why our doctor sent us down here with the suspicion of meningitis, because not all symptoms were there and they tested for a lot more meningitis than they ultimately diagnosed.

But test for meningitis they did with a spinal tap… and within a few hours we first had definite meningitis followed by a diagnosis of bacterial meningitis.

Our cute little happy girl had a fairly rare and fairly serious disease and was admitted into the hospital. We were there for four days while she was given antibiotics and the doctors waited for cultures to determine more specific antibiotics. She was poked and prodded and even had residents come in to feel her swollen fontanel (a meningitis symptom) so they too could recognize it.

One of my greatest fears during this time was that we had brought her in too late. She had been sick more or less for over two weeks. Had she had meningitis this entire time?

Fortunately, no. The ER doctors hadn’t been jumping right to meningitis and part of that was apparently most of the cases they saw had the patient coming in much later. Her meningitis? Probably that day or the day before, likely stemming from the prior ear infection, maybe kept at bay by the antibiotic.

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We went home four days later with a happier baby (just joyful to be out of her hospital room), a PICC line, and a plan for the home health people. We then spent the next week and a half pumping medicine into her PICC line every day. While this was happening, Jade was obviously getting better. She was still pale, still a little tired, but worlds better than she had been. And every day she became better and better, more or less returning to her old self and her old ways.

Of course Layne and I spent that first night in the hospital googling bacterial meningitis and frightening ourselves. Except… we weren’t really frightening ourselves. Once we were rested, we felt calm, that everything would be fine. The doctors couldn’t be sure, but they did say we had brought Jade in time and the prognosis was good. We just had to get her better. That just wasn’t a worry for us.

She’s fine now. She passed her hearing test the other day. She’s practicing walking, practicing talking. It’s all good and for that I am eternally grateful.

happyjade

You must understand I still don’t quite comprehend just how serious bacterial meningitis can be. It’s a big deal, a very big deal and babies and people can die from this.

What I have Learned About Bacterial Meningitis

Obviously, this is caused by bacteria, in our case from the ear infection. It’s different from the more common and less severe viral meningitis. There are several bacteria usually causing this. According to our doctors, many are vaccinated against now, leading to a rise in cases from other bacteria. This is what happened in our case, though I still give the warning, as a believer in vaccines, to vaccinated your children.

Symptoms of meningitis in babies

  • Listlessness or drowsiness
  • Deydration-like symptoms
  • Bulging fontanelle spot
  • Vomiting (This is what sent me running home the day of the ER visit)
  • Stiffness, presenting in babies as seeming to have pain or stiffness when picked up or moved
  • Headache
  • Purple rashes (Jade did not have these)

Funnily enough, I had read about meningitis earlier in the ear infection battle. She wasn’t hitting most of these until that week, and I had told myself it couldn’t possibly be meningitis.

Pay attention to these symptoms if a baby just isn’t getting better. And keep your doctor in the loop.

 

 

 

Turkey Soup with Cabbage and Rice

Last night I accidentally made some of the best soup I have ever unintentionally made. So often I hunt down recipes in a search to find that perfect pot of soup. But last night I found myself dealing with two kids and a turkey.

The turkey has been sitting in our freezer for over a month. Layne received it from work. We knew it and expected it, but since we always go to someone else’s for Thanksgiving, it sat there until last week when Layne took it out to thaw. Then he had to go to Tennessee. We knew we just had to eat the bird. So I roasted it up after an argument with Layne over whether it should be covered (I did not cover it because I’m trying to roast a turkey, not bake it) and it turned out delicious.

Since Layne would theoretically eat most of the turkey, it was up to me to preserve said majority. Which involved making stock. Which involved throwing things into the stock.

And I came up with something very tasty.

souip

 

 

6 cups turkey stock

2 cups turkey, chopped into bite-sized pieces.

4 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon of garlic

2 teaspoons of salt

2 teaspoons of pepper

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

2/3 cup of rice

2 cups of chopped cabbage

Oil

 

So after letting my turkey stock simmer away for the appropriate amount of time, I put together my soup.

I cooked up the garlic and onions in the oil until they were nice and pretty and soft. I then poured in the turkey stock and let it get nice and hot before adding the veggies, rice and seasoning. (Feel free to add more seasoning to taste, I happen to really like seasoning.)

I brought the whole thing to a boil, then reduced it to a nice simmer until the veggies were cooked through.

So good.

 

Cleaning an area rug in the snow.

Earlier this year, I took a look at the white shag rug I had bought for my daughter’s room approximately eighteen months earlier. I thought it would be a cute, girly way to dress up the hardwood floor. And, for a time, it looked great. Until that aforementioned look.

The formally cute white rug was a gross, greasy and untamed forest of nightmares. Curse you, whoever thought of the shag rug.

This led to me reading about cleaning area rugs on the interweb, deciding having the thing professionally cleaned cost more than I paid for it, and eventually to a ghastly incident of attempting to clean it myself in the bathtub and nearly breaking my neck trying to hang it to dry on the swing set.

The good news that during my readings I also found the age-old tip of using snow to clean rugs. It’s a thing, and not terribly unpopular.

Beside the poor white shag rug and a collection of mini rugs scattered about bathrooms and the kitchen, I own two area rugs I inherited from my mother because she thought the bare floor of the living room needed something. I like them and apparently rugs are good for collecting the icky bits in the air, something of a filtration system, if you will, but they do get dirty to a point where vacuuming doesn’t always do the trick. Beating, of course, is a great way to go, but for a decent cleaning without getting the professional involved is where you might want to head out to the snow.

I was happy with it. I had already did it with one rug a few months’ back and was surprised with just how well it worked. Christmas brought a proper White Christmas snowstorm, and I found myself itching during school break to do it again.

So I dragged out my two living room rugs plus the unfortunate white shag rug who had been ostracized to the garage (Spoiler: this one is a lost cause).  I placed them face-down in the snow and went to town with putting carpety stuff to snow. I stomped around on them. I let Ruby stomp around on them. I let Jade crawl around on them. I flipped them over to beat out from the other side. I moved them about a couple of times to get a bit of a dragging motion in.

You want the snow to do its scrubby, icy, slightly wet job of cleaning the rug. I once saw a poster somewhere in some old forum commenting on how horses roll in the snow to clean themselves. Same deal.

I left them to “soak” for a couple of hours. I had not done this last time, and I think I shall recommend the tip.

grosssnow

See all the junk in the snow? That was pulled out of the rug. I also had one which was relieving spots of various Play-Dohs and food and who knows what else into the snow. Kind of cool, kind of gross.

I beat ’em about again, then dragged the rugs back inside. This, I recommend, be done with help. Husband was at work, Jade was asleep (because babies are big muscle help) and Ruby was wisely hiding. Anywho, I hung them over the banister to dry and… do one more little thing.

I don’t have the folksy wisdom or talent of making this better than a professional job, but a bit of baking soda and a brush can always be helpful. I used my brush to scrub at the snow and any particular little problem spots.

Again, a heck’s work of gunk was back in the snow, but I was surprised at how easily I was able to brush out the more stubborn particles. Use the snow! It helps!

I let the rugs hang until they were dry, used the opportunity to clean the living room floor, and later enjoyed the fresh, clean rugs.

Not too bad for a DIY job.

A breastfeeding mom goes to formula

The past couple of months have been an adventure I admittedly did not spend a heck of a lot of time, thought or energy upon, but yet remains one that still has me scratching my head.

I gave my baby Jade formula.

Yes, me. The rah-rah-breastfeeding mom who loved the convenience and cost-efficiency of breastfeeding.

The worst part is that I have yet to even feel bad about it.

Jade has always been a happy baby. Social, cheerful, generally pleasant as far as babies go. But this summer she became, well, a mama’s girl. I figured it was because I was on summer break. I was with her all day. I was spoiling her. Of course she was going to reject people. Of course she was always going to take advantage and would want to nurse frequently. She obviously had turned into a pampered mama’s girl.

Her 6 month checkup changed the situation.

My husband took her in, being all set up for taking small children into the doctor’s office. He then reported that upon weighing, Jade had lost over a pound.

Suddenly the naughtiness of the summer took on a new meaning. Our baby may have been just about starving.

Though I took pride in the quantity of the milk I pumped, something wasn’t going quite right. For one reason or another, Jade was losing weight. Jade was not getting the nutrition she needed.

Here’s where fate led us, to that dreaded moment scorned on all the mommy/breastfeeding forums: The doctor recommended formula.

So… we pulled out the box I had received from Amazon Vine. We pulled out the sample can from the hospital. And, by golly, we gave our baby formula. And when those supplies ran out, we went to the store and bought formula.

My one sadness during this? Formula is sure freakin’ expensive. I mean, wow, you either have to be super-rich or able to receive WIC to afford formula. Luckily, we do have the money and Jade is eating solids. I also continued to breastfeed her whenever she wanted it.

The Interweb, however, almost seems to deem me a failure without be even turning to it. I gave my baby formula. I should be ashamed of myself, or mourning the misfortune that led to this moment.

But Jade gained weight. She became a happy baby again. And a few weeks’ short of a year, we’re slipping her the much-cheaper cow’s milk.

And I’ve yet to feel any sorrow. I know what the Interweb says I should be feeling, but it’s not there. Maybe it’s because I still consider myself a breastfeeding mom, just one doing it for comfort and supply upkeep rather than to fully nourish my child. I’ll make that lovely one-year mark and I’ll keep going if we wish to.

I just have one lingering question… why is using formula such a big deal?

When breastfeeding is just like urination

I enjoy reading fun little articles on my news site of choice, something to take away from all the tragic tales of world and local horror. Yesterday, this piece appeared, sharing the happy little anecdote of a mom with skills so mad she pumped her breasts while running a half marathon. Yes, Ms. Anna Young has some mad pumping skills and running skills. I can manage a pump while I browse the internet during recess and maybe one day I will think about running around the block. I salute you.

However, as comments go, the expected sort came rolling around in due time: How dare she be flashing her non-exposed breasts while people are about! How immodest! How inconsiderate!

And, of course, my favorite: “Peeing and pooping are natural, too! Should we do those in public?”

I respond to that: No. Under most circumstances you should not pee or poop in public. That is gross.

And what in the world does the natural physical actions of urination and defecation have to do with other natural actions?

Are we really failing category sorts that badly in kindergarten?

Many things are natural. That doesn’t mean we lump together in a single category. If you are doing this, you need to return to kindergarten and explore new and more specific ways of sorting objects and concepts.

Because if you equate breastfeeding with urination, there is something very and probably irrevocably wrong with you.

But Emily! I’m not saying breastfeeding is a way of expelling disgusting waste from the human body! I’m simply saying that if urination is done in private, other things ought to be done privately as well.

Gotcha and thanks for that extremely general phrase. Some things ought to be done in private. Okay. So what’s the connection between urination and breastfeeding? That’s a bit of a leap without any steps of logic. What other vague notion should be done in private? Or in public? I think we’re going to need a few more definitions before we start with better categorization.

Breastfeeding is eating. Urination is peeing. They’re extremely different. Ask a medical or biological professional. I’m quite positive they will assure you they are different. Different organs, different purposes, differing fluids.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s see how urination and breastfeeding are the same.

  1. Urine and milk are both liquids and come out of the body.
  2. That’s about the long and the short of it.

This means that if anything is liquid and comes out of the body, it should be done in private. Like crying and bleeding. Crying is for wussies and your arterial damage had best be done away from others.

If you honestly think urination is anywhere in the same ball park as breastfeeding, you also have to keep this straight across the board. If breastfeeding is like urination, it’s unsanitary for human consumption and should not be done to any infant no matter where you are.

But most people don’t think that way, do they?

 

 

To parents who can’t get their act together yet send their kids to school anyway…

I write this to all you givers of genetic material who have as of yet not been able to properly grow up. You know, grow up as in act like an adult, pay bills, take care of kids, be responsible members of society. Not those of you who act like the fact that you reached legal age emboldens your special snowflake status. You special snowflake drama queens are the ones I’m talking to.

Thanks a lot for sending your kid to school. Yeah, I’m the teacher. I will love your child and give all that I can reasonably give and probably what I can’t reasonably give to help your kid.

But that doesn’t change the fact your kid is a piece of work and yes, I’m blaming you.

You, the parents who seriously thinks violent pornography is an appropriate passtime show for small children.

The ones who managed to make it to 18 with no concept of how to hold down a job. The ones who grew up in generational poverty and have reached a point of lack of compassion but a nice big entitlement complex. The ones who cry and moan when their bosses tell them they need to get with the program.

You parents who think abuse is funny, that because you survived it it’s A-OK for you to do it to your own kids. And then you get your panties in a bunch when someone suggests otherwise.

I’m blaming your kid’s issues on your complete unawareness of normal human relationships. Because boyfriends and girlfriends who scream and hit are apparently sexy to you. Because your single mother insisted that long-term committed relationships are for pansies and that your freedom to be you is more important than the age-old foundation of society.

I’m blaming you because you think drug and alcohol addictions are the best parenting tool to have.

Because you don’t know how to have a normal relationship with the other parent of your child, whether you’re together or separated.

And then, because you’re just too tired to be a good parent, you send your kid to my classroom only to freak out when I have to spend more time developing semi-normal social and behavioral skills with them instead of “challenging” them with stuff far above their ability level.

You look around and see the other kids who are less than perfect and you think you’re good to go. Well, sometimes and even fairly often awesome parents have kids who are troubled, who need as much help as your kid.

This does not excuse you from being a complete failure as a parent.