Friday, May 17, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Coraline and Lily, 5 months and 4.75 years
It was our first Mother's Day as Mommies of two.  We didn't do anything super exciting, because we're saving money to go away for the weekend in two weeks.  But we did go out to a nice brunch (and we brought/treated Missy's mom) and exchange a few gifts (Lily made us presents/cards at school, I bought Missy some basic supplies to learn how to whittle wood, Missy bought me some photography props and a gift certificate for a much needed pedicure, and Lily bought Missy  a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lego set for them to do together.

 But my favorite part of the day was... we went on a nature walk, and took portraits of the girls, which is a huge treat for me since Lily hates posing for photos.  (She agreed to pose as a Mother's Day gift for me.)  

I wanted to share some of the photos from the day.

My favorite shot of Lilian from the day.

Lily's gift from school - on canvas.

Lily's two cards for her two moms.

Best Mother's Day Ever.

Thanks for reading!  Hope you all had a Happy Mother's Day!

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

P is for... Plagiocephaly. T is for... Torticollis.

5/7/13, Almost 5 months old
My baby has a funny shaped head.

There, I said it!

She was born with a very tall & cone-shaped head, which is normal for a baby who gets squeezed through the birth canal... only she took the shortcut!  (c-section)  The back was flat from the start as well and only got flatter as time went on.  My wife told me, when they handed her the baby (while I was off getting sewn back together), the first thing she noticed about her was her unusual shaped head.

At her two month appointment, I mentioned it to her doctor, and he said it was fine/normal and it would round out on its own.  But by 3 months, I saw no improvements and maybe it was getting even taller/flatter, so I made an appointment to bring her in just for that.  I saw a different doctor, and she said that yes it was flat, but we are going to have a generation of flat-headed people due to the SIDS "Back to Sleep" campaign, and although flat head are weird, back sleeping saves lives, so it seems a worthwhile trade-off.  She told me to keep her off her back when she was awake, tummy time, etc.  She however said that the tall proportions of it were strange and it could be for a few reasons, so we'd keep an eye on it.  At her 4 month regular appointment, we had the 1st doctor again, and he felt her fontanel (still open) and said she was fine/normal.  So I tried to put it out of my mind - and I just focused on her beautiful face and her world's-cutest-smiles.

Super cute baby smile!
The week before she turned 5 months we went to a community vegan potluck - which was mostly old people.  And inevitably, people flocked to the only baby in the room.  People cooed over her and said how adorable she is (because she is).  But one old lady said "what an unusual shape head she has" (etc. she went on about it for a little while, but i forgot exactly what she said.)  And that sort of set something off for me... it wasn't just me thinking that it looked abnormal - strangers could see it (and it took an old lady with no FILTER to say what other people were probably thinking), and so I made another appointment to take her back.  During the time between the potluck and the appointment, I also noticed that the back of her head had developed some asymmetry - one side was flatter than the other.

So I went back, and saw the first doctor (the one who keeps assuring me everything is fine).  And - he told me she's fine.  He said to keep her off her back when she's awake (and all the other tricks to prevent flat head syndrome) - but I already KNOW about all of those (this isn't my first baby) and i already do them!  I am not uneducated nor am I negligent.  So I kind of insisted that we go get a second (professional) opinion and so he wrote me a referral to see a neuro-surgeon though he implied I was ridiculous.  I told him that I couldn't live with "what-ifs" and/or regret if she did have something wrong and I didn't pursue it and miss a window of opportunity for treatment.

And so we went to see a neuro-surgeon yesterday.  He examined her, took a head circumference, stretched her neck/arms, etc.   And from a 5 minute (or less) exam he diagnosed her with torticollis, brachycephaly (flat head) and mild to moderate plagiocephaly (flatness on just one side causing asymmetry).  He said she does not need a helmet to correct it (yay) but she does need physical therapy to treat the torticollis, or the asymmetry will only get worse.  He said to do all the keeping-her-off-her-head-while-awake things that we do.  In terms of the height, he said it's just genetics - I also have an oval head (see below).  He said the slight pointiness was because of the flatness in the back, but he said there was a 100% chance that it would round out and correct itself, probably in about 6 months. (I did roll my eyes a little, because how can anyone be 100% sure about anything, really.)   He said she was alert, healthy, strong, and beautiful - and that the asymmetry was only reflected in her ears (4mm difference) and back, but not at all in her face.  I also mentioned to him being afraid of missing windows of opportunity, and he said "well you already did, so let's take it from here", meaning she should have been in physical therapy from 2 months ago for the torticollis and that might have prevented the asymmetry from ever happening.  That kind of steams me, since I've been pointing out these issues to her pediatricians since she was 2 months old and they dismissed me every time, and I wouldn't have even been AT the neuro appointment unless I absolutely insisted.  But, it is what it is.  He gave us 2 exercises to do at home at every diaper change and she starts physical therapy tomorrow, and twice a week after that.

Baby Me on the left, Baby C on the right.

The truth is, I don't have a lot of trust in doctors.  Before Coraline was born, my doctors kept forgetting about my placenta previa and I had to fight to book my C-section within the designated window (so my placenta wouldn't burst killing both of us).  Throughout all my struggles to breastfeed and all the breast pain I've had, I haven't found a single doctor who had answers for me.  I just generally feel like doctors are always failing me, and this time is no different.

So lesson learned is: Follow Your Maternal Instincts.   I suspected there was something off, and the award-winning neurosurgeon at the second best hospital on Long Island agreed with exactly what I thought.  I'm glad we can get her into PT before anything gets any worse, but it's definitely with no help from the pediatricians.

She's a beautiful baby and I just want to make sure that she stays happy, healthy, and reaches her full potential.  She's had a rough start to life (premature arrival, fluid in her lungs and being on a respirator her first few days, NICU, jaundice, a 2-week RSV infection when she was 3-4 months old, painful reflux, and now this) - but she is still the happiest, calm, easy baby.  It's amazing how sweet she is no matter what is going on with her.  I feel truly lucky and honored to be her mommy and to get to watch her grow up.

In order to keep her off her head more, today I took Lily's old Exersaucer out of the basement and cleaned/assembled it for her, and put together her new highchair (Thanks, Mom!)  She tolerated each of them for 30 minutes at a time, which is pretty long for a baby, and sat in the Exersaucer for a total of an hour today.  She looks so tiny in them both (her feet can't touch the bottom) - but also super cute.
Here are some photos from today:

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