Dollies for my dollies
Today the girls had a doctor’s appointment. It was supposed to be just a quick pop in for a needle. My doctor was running late, which is very rare for her. So a medical student came to take me in. I cringe sometimes when I have to deal with students, or the very junior residents. When I was going through my nightmarish pregnancy, I learned to take everything they said with a grain of salt as they were inclined to present worst-case scenarios. The older doctors (with some notable exceptions on both sides!) are much more measured and more accustomed to dealing with high-stress scenarios. But I also recognize that dealing with these docs-in-training is a necessary part of being treated in a teaching hospital.
So the student flips open the very THICK file and says “Oh, so they’re preemies?” I knew it was going down hill from there. She hadn’t peeked beforehand into C’s two-inch thick file. “Did you have a complicated pregnancy?” I said yes. “What were the complications?” That alone would fill a page of notes, but I whittled it down to the main issue. “Were they ever hospitalized?” Um, they were 30 weeks! (It says that on pretty much ever page of their files, I’m sure.) I’ve never heard of a 30-weeker who was not hospitalized, at least briefly. And then “Oh, I see she had an intracranial hemorrhage. When did that happen? When did you find out? How did they diagnose it? What caused it? Why did she have a chest tube?”
Why, why, why did I not cut her off and tell her tersely to read the file? I don’t know. Because I have that uber-Canadian desire to be nice, and not to offend anyone. The questions kept going. “What symptoms does she have?” (I am sure there are at least two reports about her physical challenges, including a report from a developmental paediatrician.) And then my favourite: “Do you have any concerns?” I think it’s safe to say I have a lot of concerns. But I don’t feel like getting into them when I came for a 5-minute shot appointment.
Just to cap it off she asked several questions about her facial birthmarks. The med students always love to ask about the birthmarks, which are completely benign. Once a student even said, right in front of me, “Doctor, what are those facial lesions?” It’s not like I forget they’re there – I’m used to people asking questions about them, especially at school. But I’m not sure why a doctor needs to comment on an unusual facial feature when you’re there for totally unrelated reasons?
I answered all the questions. In fact, I think I educated her. It didn’t seem like she knew the kinds of challenges these babies face – pulmonary hemorrhages, routine head ultrasounds, chest tubes, respiratory distress. She had lots of questions about it all.
And then I got home and wept. I mean, if I had been there about myself, or even one of the other kids, I’d probably have been grateful for her attention to detail. But I’m fragile when it comes to C. Those events, just a few short months ago, were incredibly traumatic. They are almost more traumatic in the reliving as they were at the time, since at the time I didn’t really understand the implications.
I have to deal with a lot of medical professionals – physiotherapists, early intervention consultants, follow-up clinics and various specialists. And I can deal with them. I can tell them what they need to know. I can point out the positive. I’m always happy to update friends on what’s going on too. I cope really, really well. But I hate looking back, and thinking about those early days and how much they will define her life, and how she almost died, but instead just got a brain injury.
I called the doctor’s office when I got home. I cried on the phone. My doctor apologized and took responsibility. I’ll probably never see a medical student there again. And hopefully the med student will have learned a lesson: (1) Read the file. And (2) More questions don’t mean more thorough care. Sometimes it’s better just ask “What can I do for you today?” In which case I could have responded “We’re here for the flu shot” and my morning would have been defined by this happy face.
You know despite my current blog byline, I actually do not consider myself crafty. Knitting and sewing is fine. But case in point, P wanted to make these paper diamonds. He spied the tutorial over my shoulder as I was looking at a simple knitting project on the same site. He was so sweet and patient cutting out the templates and then watching as I clumsily glued them together.
Yep. Nailed it.
Thankfully, P’s not too picky. He took one look and nodded. “Good.”
I’m the kind of person who starts thinking about Christmas even before Hallowe’en ends. I mean, I don’t decorate or anything until at least after Remembrance Day. And the tree is not up until mid-December. But I start thinking about it and planning. Even last year when we were in the midst of moving and pregnancy drama I had ONE thing I needed to have. A real garland on the stairs. (FYI, we’re not doing it again this year. Pine needles EVERYWHERE.)
So this year, I have an even crazier project. Home-made Advent Calendar.
The kids are actually really into it. They want me to make them specific little characters, and they move the people around all over it. Hopefully this means I can get away without buying chocolate ones this year, since last year I got woken at the crack of dawn each morning by a certain then-two-year old who “wants go downstairs” to eat it.
(Definitely not an original design in case anyone is wondering. Pattern & kit are from Purl Soho.)
Jared Flood must be some kind of genius. Looks how he uses two simple purl stitches to create a braid effect. Pretty neat.
The bad news is that this approximately one centimetre of knitting took me about two hours by the time I figured out the provisional cast-on and knit the hem. (It’s hard to see here, but it’s actually doubled over.) After this part, the pattern casually states “work Row 1-64 of the right mitten chart.” Yikes. And the worst news is that I have to do another mitten.
These mittens are a Christmas present for J (who neither reads this blog nor pays close attention to what I’m knitting.) I’ve been doing lots of stockinette patterns recently so I figured a teensy bit of colour work and some cables would be good for the soul. Still have to knit two stockings, a cowl and the rest of this mitten and its mate before Christmas though – can I do it?
I finished this little jacket recently too. I made it for size 12-months just in case the 6-12 was too small by the time I finished. I was too fast for my own good and it’s certainly going to be a few months before the twins fit in it. That said, I think they’ll (one? both?) get at least a few years of wear in it. M could probably fit in it if we passed the sleeves off as 3/4 length. The yarn is the same Madeline Tosh mohair blend I used in the booties, and is not quite as variegated as this picture shows – I was having fun with filters.
I’ve been experimenting a bit with drafting some of my own patterns. This is a little pair of socks (or are they booties?) that I did. I knitted the sole first, and then picked up the stitches to knit the rest. It could use some refining, but I think they’re kind of cute!
The almost luminescent yarn is Madeline Tosh DK. It’s thicker than most DKs and really knits up as a worsted or aran weight, at least it did for me. I made a baby (toddler?) sweater out of it too, which is currently blocking.
I also want to make some dinosaur slippers and I may even felt them. With short rows you can make some really fun creative shapes with knitting – check out this stegosaurus spine in Cascade 220 sport.
I’m not usually big on advice posts. I actually abhor the advice culture that seems to permeate women’s and parenting magazines. Ever notice how men’s magazines aren’t constantly offering tips and hints on how to do ordinary tasks?
Still, I think I have figured out a few principles for surviving life with four, two of whom are twins.
Number one: I never plan to do anything that takes longer than seven minutes. There is a high chance that at least once every seven minutes some child will interrupt me. However, if I am thirty seconds into a task when it happens, I am probably safe to let that child cry, whine, or wait for at least six minutes until I finish whatever it is I am doing – be it showering, handling raw meat, boiling eggs, or having a Facebook conversation with my friend which will likely be the sole adult interaction of my day.
If I absolutely must do anything takes longer than seven minutes, I break it into seven minute parts. Also, if I get longer than seven minutes… bonus! Sometimes if I am very lucky I might get an hour or even 90 minutes during which all my children are asleep or at least reasonably content. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I am astoundingly productive. Or sometimes I just watch episodes of 30 Rock and knit. Like I said, it doesn’t happen often so I take advantage.
Also, I go to places where there are people around. I love my afternoons picking up P from school, even though it often means I wake the twins from a nap. That’s because there are usually moms there who are happy to hold a twin, point out if my toddler is about to leap off the jungle gym, or just chat to.
Also, I had to throw out all the advice that applied the first two times – Never wake a sleeping baby, sleep when baby sleeps etc. etc. I wake the girls to go to Mother Goose because it keeps me sane to get out of the house. Although I always napped with P when he was tiny, I have accomplished “sleeping when the baby sleeps” approximately twice in the six months since they have been home.
I often think “to each according to their need.” It’s impossible to slice your time evenly among four. If you are a happy relaxed baby and your sister is a bit higher needs and requires tons of physical interaction, you might find yourself woken from quite a few naps to go to medical appointments, and sitting in that bouncy chair through a lot of showers. I can’t feel guilty over this or try to keep score. When we do get “alone time” occasionally, it’s that much more special.
And last but not least, I get my groceries delivered. And I really wish I’d thought of doing it about 10 months ago instead of just six weeks ago. Worth every cent of the $8 charge.
I knit this cowl a couple of weeks ago in Malabrigo Rasta and I’ve been wearing it ever since.
Super quick knit, so I think that at least one person will be getting one for a Christmas present. The pattern is Marian.
Also, we went to Knit City this weekend, which was such a blast. So much yarn in one place! I loved it.
I can’t believe that it has been six months since these two little people made their entrance into the world.
I had a bit of an epiphany lately with the girls. We had a big medical appointment for both, which involved assessing their motor skills. I was terribly nervous before the appointment and did tear up a few times. But after the appointment, I realised that these appointments do not actually tell me anything about my child that I do not already know. It was an empowering realisation.
We are starting to see now that certain motor activities are harder for Cora. Her head control is decent, but definitely wanes when she’s tired. She continues to favour one side. Her hands are not terribly coordinated and she will sometimes scream because she cannot release something she has accidentally grabbed. At times she flexes her legs and arches her back in a way that makes other people say “She’s so strong!” All the doctors and OT do is describe this in more medical terms – “very strong palmar reflex”, “when she tires, reverts to ATNR”, “tight heelcords”.
But she progresses. I wrote out some of her “challenges” a few days ago when I started to write this post, and already some of them have improved, and new ones emerge as we shoot for the next goal. The doctor said “Her milestones will be different.” It took me a while to figure out what she meant by that, but I think I get it now. We celebrate things that most parents don’t notice in their typical child – we cheer when she brings her hands to midline, or opens her palms without encouragement. That said, I do think some of her milestones will be the same. I do think she’ll sit upright and use her hands, and walk. She will have tantrums, make bizarre crafts that we can’t identify and fight with her siblings. And she already beat B on one milestone – she laughs!
I know I sound really positive here, and it’s not because I don’t sometimes grieve at the unfairness of it all, or fret about what the future might bring. But I didn’t want to write this entry when I was feeling low about it. This disability that she will have is part of her, but it’s not the whole story.