Midi The Hungry Caterpillar

Monday 24 Sep

Still heart-wrenching to see my hungry little caterpillar skip off to hospital with her Daddy, like it’s a day out

…a day I’d been looking forward to and dreading in equal measure: Midi Minx’s 2nd attempt at getting grommets.  (Remember last time?  She went in for grommets but instead got adenoids out).  I’d gotten myself into a right tizz, convinced that the operation we’d been waiting on for 7 months would be delayed yet again because perhaps Midi would catch a cold, or the surgeon would refuse, or she would be bumped off the list, or we’d be late to the hospital, or… or… a million equally unlikely things.

I think I got so uptight because the last week I could really see how Midi’s dodgy hearing was affecting her.  The little P1s are learning phonics.  Now, I know Maxi was nearly a whole year older than Midi at this same stage in her schooling, so I shouldn’t compare.  But Midi can’t seem to ‘get’ any phonic in a word other than the first one.  She confuses final phonics and can’t seem to differentiate between ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘g’.  I’ve been making her look at my lips and really over-exaggerating the sounds when we do her homework.  And I’ve been trying really hard not to get exasperated with her when she can’t do it, because I’m not convinced that it’s her being a bit lazy or tired.  I do think her poor hearing is affecting her more than before, now.

About to go and be fixed. Hopefully.

So!  Monday was a big day.  Again Midi chose for her Daddy to come with her the whole time with me shuttling everyone else around to and from school and home.  I got back to the hospital around 9.30hrs with Mini, Maxi safely at school, to find Midi already changed into a hospital gown: she was 2nd on the list and was going down to theatre in a few minutes!  Blimey… not like last time when we didn’t know if she would be seen or not till after 2pm.

The porter who came to take her down was the lovely man who wheeled me down to theatre to have Mini, over 2 years ago.  It’s not that I have an amazing memory: I knew him from my/our previous jobs!  From departmental heads to a stay-at-home mum and hospital porter.  And I think we both look younger and happier nowadays, but there you go.

At 11 o’clock, she drank some juice and a smoothie, but she was *still* hungry…

After half an hour, Midi was wheeled back to the ward.  Obviously she was a little groggy at first, but I guess she hadn’t been given any morphine because she didn’t scratch her nose once.  She wanted a little Mummy-Cuddle while The Boss took Mini down to the cafe for something to eat and drink, but apart from that it

At 11.30, she ate a round of toast, butter, jam and more juice. But she was *still* hungry…

was business as usual – she raced around the ward with her friend’s little sister, who was coincidentally in the bed opposite to get tonsils and adenoids out.

Did my Hungry Little Caterpillar eat the hospital kitchen out of food again?  Well, she gave it a good go:

At 12 o’clock, she ate a round of sandwiches and a Tunnock’s teacake, but she was *still* hungry…

juice, smoothie, toast with butter and jam, then sandwiches, a Tunnocks teacake, more juice, milk and a full lunch.  They let her out mid afternoon, saying that she could go back to school the next day if she wanted to.  Against my better judgement, and swayed by her

That night, Foster Cat and Mini Minx kept watchful eyes on Midi

pleadings, I agreed to.  Obviously Foster Cat and Mini felt the need to keep a closer eye on Midi than usual that night.

Ear we go again…

Midi Minx had her follow-up appointment with the Ear, Nose, Throat professor on Friday just past. Sheesh, give me strength…

Background (skip if you remember all this): She’s been seeing the consultant for over a year, since I started kicking up a fuss at the GPs (8 ear infections in 8 months; some GPs wanted to treat with antibiotics, some refused, no-one really put it all together and figure that this little 2 year old might be in some pain with so many infections and perforated eardrums…). They established that the hearing in her left ear was borderline normal and ‘significantly worse’ in her right ear. After a lot of watching and waiting, we all agreed that she needed grommets to cure her permanent glue ear. So she went for the op at the end of November. The surgeon, though, didn’t perform the op as apparently Midi *didn’t* have glue ear, but did have a big ball of wax. So she had her adenoids removed and a middle ear suction.

I’d cancelled the original follow-up appointment a month ago when the kids came down with chicken pox. So a month later, and 2 months after the op, you’d think the medical notes would have been delivered… Nope. So the professor wasn’t impressed when I relayed to him what the surgeon had said. “Well, she definitely has glue ear right now”, he asserted. Hmmm, so apparently Midi’s had glue ear since she was 2 or younger, still has it, has had it every single time a doctor has looked in her ears, but *didn’t* have it suddenly on 27 November? Midi’s hearing is just the same as it was all the previous hearing tests. The professor rationalised that with chicken pox perhaps still having an effect on her, and it taking a while for the adenoidectomy to make a difference.

Upshot? She’s to go back in May/June. This time I think I’ll be Very Grumpy Mummy. We’ve waited plenty. All I want to know is what can be done to improve Midi’s hearing. And bloody do it! The only reason why I wasn’t stamping around on Friday was because Midi’s not had an ear infection in months, and is in no pain or discomfort. And her hearing isn’t affecting her at nursery too badly. But school? That could be another matter…

Actually, I’m saying she’s not had an ear infection. But she has had a bit of a cough. Last week she had me and The Boss in giggles as she dramatically flung her hands in the air, declaring, “Nuffin’ makes my cough better: not going to sleep, not waking up, not breakfast, not lunch, not eatin’ my dinner, not medicine, not nuffin'”.

child's ears

A cross-section of Midi Minx's little head

Back to Friday, though. Looking on the bright side, we had a fun day out in Inverness, just me, Midi and Mini. I had a long shopping list of bits and bobs to pick up that I couldn’t source locally, so had packed the Big Green Double Buggy-mobile. The day started great: we had an easy drive, all sang along to the radio, it was sunny, I swung straight into a brilliant parent & baby space. We had a wobble when I opened the boot to discover one of the tyres on the buggy was burst and Mini (unusually for her) steadfastly refused to go in the sling. It went back on an ‘up’, though, when both girls happily held hands and trotted along with me. I cut my shopping list down from 3 pages to 3 lines long (ie essentials only) and hit the shops.

Well, of course the kids acted like they’d been set free into the wild, scuttling off in opposite directions, chuckling their heads off. I was on a tight timescale, so wasn’t going to waste time asking old ladies and fat people blocking the aisles to ‘excuse me please’. Oh no! If 2 minxes are escaping, I know I’ve around 3 seconds grace before they’re tearing a stand apart. So that rude, harassed-looking, blue-haired haridan yelling, ‘Mind!’ and ‘Coming through!’ was me. Sorry.

School uniform, plimsolls and woolly dresses acquired, we headed to the hospital for morning snack before the appointment. I did notice the roomful of oldies shrinking away from us as we sat down – I guess when you’re 100 years older than God you know just how messy a 1 and 3 year old can be. I divvied up a sticky apple turnover and a banana 3 ways, poured milk and coffee, and we all tucked in, like a pack of lions devouring an iced gazelle filled with jam. I guess the oldies noticed that the kids liked their food too much to drop even a crumb, so relaxed a bit. Two even chuckled indulgently at Mini throwing a tantrum when it was time to stuff little thrashing arms back into her coat while she ‘mysteriously’ lost the ability to stand or even sit up…

On the way out, I marvelled again at how Midi can spot our car in a whole car park. I asked her how she knew it was ours.

“Easy!” she said, “I look at the numbers here”, pointing to the numberplate.

“But what bit?” I asked, knowing full well that she can’t read yet, although she does know her numbers.

“This!” she said, pointing to the second letter, X, “See? X marks the spot”.

That Gigglebiz Pirate has a lot to answer for…

It’s Oh So Quiet…

…because everyone’s sleeping! Except me. We’ve had a busy old week and today (28 Nov) was probably the climax.

This week Mini Minx cut 2 more molars and has been practising saving up her normal 3 poos a day into one mega nappy-busting plaster. She’s achieved 100% success with getting it to happen at the worst possible time every day this week. 10/10 for effort, 3/10 for artistic interpretation.

I’ve had 2 busy craft fairs. I made enough sales to keep Maxi and Midi in ballet lessons till Easter, and buy a pair of cheap ballet shoes each, so that’s perfect. Even better, I spent 2 whole days chatting with people about babies and knitting. I had the inspired (!) idea of displaying my eSocks on a bunch of bananas. I quickly had to add a sign explaining what they were – the horrified looks from many of the elderly knitters tutting at my wares made me realise The Boss was right, and they looked like willy warmers. Och well, it certainly gave me something to joke about and say something to browsers with. One woman had me in choking knots with her quips: we were imagining this one proudly, um, displayed on Christmas morning, with tinsel draped off the bobbles… Ah, me, what a weekend! [edited to add: my website’s down for a day or 2, moving to a shiny new server. If you can’t see the socks, try again tomorrow xxx]

But the biggie this week was my wee baby (OK big tall girl) Midi going into hospital to have a general anaesthetic to get grommets in and possibly adenoids out. I wasn’t worried about the routine procedure, it was more the GA that left me feeling a bit wobbly. I’ve had 8 in my time (I tested a couple at university – seemed like a good idea at the time, I had rent to pay, and it paid more than my usual shelf-stacking. Anyway…).

What a 3 year old packs for a hospital stay

We all chatted about it as a family over the last month, describing to the girls what was going to happen: first in really broad terms (“The doctor will fix your ears so you can hear properly”), progressively adding more detail as she asked for it, and as it came up in conversation. Last night I warned Midi and Maxi to get to bed as they’d a long day ahead of them. Midi nodded, “Yes. We need to get up early so I can eat breakfast an’ drink mlk (sic), so Special Medicine will work, anna Doctor gonna put a Big Special Needle *right through* my ear drum. And he’s gonna suck out all my ear bogeys! Then I can hear! Yeeeeeay!” She looked gleeful about it, whereas Maxi pouted, leaned over and stroked Midi’s arm and murmered, “I’m worried about you, Little One. I love you”. Little One? Little One?! Where did she get that from?! Nevertheless, the sight of the pair hugging each other in mutual comfort brought a tear to my eye. As did the fact that they’d been play-acting hospitals – Maxi had her little sister strapped into a pretend car seat (she’d knotted socks together into a rope and tied them round her bed-head to hold Midi in like a seat, and added extra ones like an aircraft infant safety belt for Midi’s dolly). Midi had already packed her toy wheelie suitcase with dolly, teddy, books, real stethoscope, toy train and some plastic doctor-implements. And her sister’s camera (!)

That first adult tooth, behind the seriously wobbly one

The girls were fine this morning: we woke them at 6 so they had time to eat before cut-off time at 7am, then out the door at 7.30 to get to hospital in time for 8. Back home, crazy tidy up, then off to school, drop Maxi off, back to hospital, and… wait. We then got to keep 2 little girls occupied in the play room till 1pm. They were actually really good. Had me and The Boss not been so dog-tired it would have been fun, just hanging out with the girls, playing tea-parties and colouring in and playing doctors. As it was, it was an exercise in staying awake. (Mix of teething children (plural – Maxi’s cut her first adult tooth), noisy storm keeping me awake, toddler bad dreams, stress over organising a craft fair with some unwelcome outside mixing… The usual rubbish!).

I couldn’t face seeing Midi put under a GA unless I had to (my acting skills are excellent, but being nonchalent about my baby going limp whilst open-eyed is a bit too evocative of death for me to comfortably cope with willingly), but luckily she’d always said she’d wanted her daddy with her, and he was happy to. I couldn’t even cry when she toddled off holding his hand in her cheerful hospital jammies because sleepy, needy Mini was with me.

I waited 45 looooong minutes, then had to drive back to pick up Maxi from school. Typically, when I got back, I couldn’t get a parking space. Anywhere. And the amount of selfish double-parking going on meant I struggled to *get* anywhere, either. The Boss had agreed to text me if I needed to know anything, even if it was terrible news. “So if I don’t hear from you, I know she’s *still* not out of recovery, or she’s fine. OK?” So when he texted me as I was futile-ly crawling up and down local roads (given up on the carparks), my heart nearly exploded. Silly sod had forgotten our agreement: when I pulled in and checked, with shaky hands and blurry eyes, it only said, “Midi’s fine, adenoids out, no grommets and itchy nose”.

When I got to the ward with Maxi and Mini, a very sleepy, woozy Midi croaked at me, waving her cannulated little hand in my general direction. Despite epic failures on a previous hospital visit, this time the anaesthetist got a cannula in first time, it hadn’t hurt her, she was fine, went to sleep with her eyes wide open. The surgeon hadn’t found any fluid behind her eardrums at all (?!) but enlarged adenoids and a ‘huge’ lump of earwax. So the earwax and adenoids got hoiked out and the eardrums left alone. So that’s good, I guess! And I have no idea what constitutes ‘huge’: pea sized? Golf ball? Planet?

The Boss took a video of Midi coming round: typically, our little minx managed to focus her eyes (mostly), look at The Boss, licked her parched lips, gazed into the eyes of her beloved Daddy and croaked her perpetual daily demand: “I hungry!”

So that was 3.30. The Boss drove the other 2 home at 3.45 when Mini upset Midi by hauling around her suitcase (“coo-case”) and Maxi wailed “I’m bored! I’m so bored! I’m really bored! No, really, really bored! In fact…”. I stayed at Midi’s request. Around 4 she’d drank a few sips of water and was mostly awake. The nurse agreed to get her some toast. I explained that she’d need more than that (Midi eats as much as most adults. She’s around 98th centile for height and 91st centile for weight. That growth needs a lot of fuel…), and nipped down the cafe literally 50 steps downstairs to grab a sarnie and half litre of milk for myself (2 coffees and a teacake all day make for a VERY Grumpy Old Trout). Midi ate the toast, and the calories gave her the energy to eat my 2 ham sandwiches, the rest of the water, the entire bottle of milk, 2 sausages, plate of beans and 2 potatoes. And a partridge in a pear tree. After that, she bounded out of bed and generally acted like a manic thing on drugs. Strong ones.

Meal 3 – she polished off the lot after she finished scratching her very itchy nose

She’s not reported any pain, but then she was given morphine and 400mg paracetamol (according to The Boss), which may explain why she had an incredibly itchy nose for a few hours. Like me after each Caesarean!

Before she ate the entire hospital kitchen, she got discharged after a bit of a sleepy cuddle in front of CBeebies and another sudden charge around the ward, thrusting her tiny oxygen mask and tube onto anything vaguely humanoid, demanding, “Right, breathe deeply for me, darling!”

So, she’s to go back to the professor for more hearing tests and a review. Not having spent 6+ years at medical school, I’m surprised that we had 4 consultant visits (plus one earlier at another hospital) that all recommended grommets, only for them not to be needed. I wonder why – is it that common for earwax to not be noticed and to cause such problems? Or maybe the glue ear finally spontaneously resolved itself just in the nick of time? Och well, I’m glad. I guess 7-Lunch-Lil will be happy to be able to swim after all, and she’ll love seeing Prof L again. (Or at least getting another silver sticker).

Today Was Brought To You By The Minx ‘Midi’

Saturday 5th November. It started fairly well:

Midi Minx: “Mummy, your breath smells AWWWWful!”
Me: “Well, that’s because I’ve not had my morning coffee, yet.”
Midi: “Why you always drink coffee?”
Me: “Because you always come in my bed at night and wake me up so I feel tired all day.”
Midi: “Oh. Well, I always drink wine.”
Me: “That’s nice. What do you want to drink with breakfast, then?”
Midi: “Mllllk. Cold. Actually”

(Yeah, she really pronounces it like that, without the ‘i’)

It was mine and The Boss’s 6th wedding anniversary. That’s traditionally iron. I guess we both anticipated that an electrical iron as a present would be reciprocated with divorce papers. So we both had to up our game a bit. Well, I did. Last year’s ‘wooden’ anniversary present was a proper wooden porridge spurtle. It was just the perfect present: little, but thoughtful, useful (we eat porridge by the cauldron), it was simple and classically shaped, and it had a little loveheart carved in the top. Perfect. Clever man!

So, what about this year? Well, I found a very cool cast iron bike stand for my mountain-biking mental man (he seemed pretty pleased). And I unwrapped my present to find a little silver box, shaped like a star. Jewellery. Iron. Star. Shooting star? Meteorite?! Meteorite!! He’d got me a piece of a meteorite (1947, Siberia): my very own shooting star. He also wrote some very wonderful things in a card, which will remain private, but made my stony old heart just melt. What a wonderful, thoughtful person he is!

Even though I’d explained that only the people celebrating the anniversary actually observe it, Maxi made us a little paper card, with our house and the whole family (even the cat) on it. Tellingly, she’d drawn all 3 girls in flamenco dresses..!

It was such a gloriously beautiful day that we decided to get out. Unlike last weekend, though, we did a mini declutter. So we had to via the dump first to get rid of the 3 big bags of baby clothes and plastic bottles. So we had to check out the ‘recycled’ bikes. And there were loads, just in Maxi’s size, so we got her a perfect purple one. So we had to go to the park via Lidl to pick up some groceries and check out the bargains. And bought half the shop in Christmas goods (pannetone, gingerbread hearts, gift wrap, etc, etc). So we had to have some lunch before we hit the park. And we were on such a high we decided on soup and a roll at the brilliant garden centre cafe. The girls were fantastically well-behaved just chatting, us 4, while The Boss waited in the longest line ever for 30 mins.

Why am I boring you with all this? To make the point that had we gone straight to the park, the day would have been a bit of a downer, instead of reasonably active and productive. Maxi and Midi had a play at the playground before getting on the bikes, while I walked Mini in the sling to get her to sleep. After maybe 15 minutes, from the far end of the park, I saw The Boss pick up a roaring Midi and hug her to him. His body language didn’t say ‘Panic!’, but it wasn’t right either. So I marched over as fast as I could. I forget what he said, but I could see Midi had fallen on her little bonce – she had a blue egg on her forehead with a red stripe through it, like the skin underneath had split from the force of the swelling.

We were amazingly calm about it. Spot the 3rd time parents who’ve seen their daughters get a fair few head injuries?

“I think we should get it checked out – it’s Saturday and what if she gets dizzy later?” The Boss reasoned.

“Hmmm, she seems ok. But yes, let’s go. Now. Maxi, we’re going. Climb down. Car!” I remember saying, briskly. Inside I felt like sinking to my knees and wailing at the sight of my baby’s little forehead, but outside I think I sounded like a bored robot. Maxi predictably threw a real strop at having to leave and Mini wasn’t too happy at waking up, but there you go. We did a quick detour via Co-op for a £1 bag of frozen peas to stick on Midi’s head, shielded by the cloth bag that usually holds Mini’s spare nappies, then off to A&E. Yes, the A&E Midi visited only on Wednesday and acquired a stethoscope from. The same one.

forehead bump child

Bit of a washed-out photo, but here is the egg, a few hours later

We had to wait a wee while, which I’d warned the girls about. They idly people-watched, and seemed fascinated by the steady stream of sports injuries.

One rugby player sat trying to look innocuous while holding a wet towel to his obviously broken nose (it was plastered flat onto one cheek).

Midi: “Look at that man’s pink bogeys!”

He sniggered. So did I.

Needless to say, Midi was just fine. No concussion, no fractures, nothing. But I felt a lot happier that she was checked. And she got to say hello to some of her new ‘friends’ as well, which was nice for her.

burning crucifix in bonfire

...and in a Wee Free stronghold, too!

After spending a few hours at A&E we (even Midi) really weren’t in the mood to go back out, and besides, we had to eat to get out for fireworks (“We’re going to the bangs!”: Midi). Normally we go to the main town display near where we used to live. That’s always fantastic. The last 2 Bonfire Nights we’ve lived here, we’ve driven back to that town. But this year we thought we’d try our actual, nearest (bigger) town’s display. It was very, very good. But I think next year we’ll go back to the old town. There were more bangs, but they weren’t quite as amazing. And although I’m not a person of active faith, I did find the burning crucifix left over after the guy burnt off rather unsettling…

Midi screamed at the first few bangs, then despite quickly putting in earplugs, covering them with ear muffs and muffling the lot with a down-jacket hood, she still just wanted a big Daddy-Huggle. She didn’t see any of the fireworks, just snuggled into his shoulder. Och, she’s only 3, though! Mini was in the sling, so probably felt secure enough to watch it without fear at the noise. Maxi sat on the ground, counted the flying lanterns (she’s a massive ‘Tangled’ fan…) and oohed and aahed along with me.

I actually enjoyed just sitting in the car afterwards in the car park, waiting on the traffic disappearing before starting up, just chatting as a family. I’m really noticing how old the girls are getting – last year we could hold a conversation only with Maxi. Now it’s a proper 4-way. It’s not 5-way, yet: all Mini ever says is “Aye-wan-nat!” (I want that) over and over and over again. All day long. Bless.

So Near and So Far

Aaargh!  One of the reasons why I hate being too busy to blog is (a) all the little stresses of life build up in me with no bloggy outlet, and (b) I forget to write down relevant bits.

I don’t know if you remember me moaning about Mini Minx being refused her MMR jag because she has an egg allergy?  Well, about a fortnight later, I got a phonecall from the GP’s surgery noting that she’d had the other 2 jags but not the MMR, and was there something she could reassure me about?  I explained patiently that the Health Visitor had refused to inject Mini with MMR despite my reassurances that I was happy it was safe.  The woman dropped the bombshell that the Health Visitor had not written anything about this in Mini’s notes, never mind written to the hospital to refer her to them.  I expressed my irritation and frustration as gently as I could.  So the woman and I got into cahoots and booked me and Mini onto the Practice Nurse’s clinic for the MMR.  My irritation grew to new levels when I discovered that it was impossible to speak with / get a message to the Nurse to find out if she was willing to give Mini the MMR (“Can’t you speak to her and call me back if she says no?  Can I write to her?  Can you leave her a message, even?”)  We agreed that if *she* refused, I’d book appointments with the GPs, one by one.  I privately also prepared to change GPs before they ousted me…

A few days after that, the Health Visitor called The Boss to tell him that one of the GPs had written to the local hospital asking for Mini to be referred for her MMR there.  He asked me why she’d sounded like a sulky teenager, and had I been noising her up.  I managed to look the picture of innocence.

I expected the hospital to either not get in touch for months (as the Health Visitor had said would happen), or to write to me telling me to get back to the GP’s surgery (as a friend told me happened at her hospital).  Imagine my surprise when last week the Children’s Ward (well, a member of staff from…) called to ask when it suited me to come over with Mini.  Wowsers.  So I cancelled the Practice Nurse clinic appointment, slotted the appointment into the busy House of Trout diary, and waited.

It was today.  Let me give you a tiny bit of an idea of the kind of day it fell in.

I drove 15 mins to drop Maxi and Midi at nursery at 9, then drove 30 mins to the hospital to drop The Boss off for an appointment.  I’d forgotten my purse, so couldn’t do the 3 things I wanted to whilst there.  As it turned out, Mini got up too late to have breakfast, so I fed her at the hospital.  Then 30 mins drive to the nursery to watch the girls at their sports day (my mum never went to any of mine, ever.  It hurt.  So I won’t miss my girls’).  Back to the house (15 mins) to get the stupid purse, then 15 mins to town.  Do the 3 things I meant to earlier, grab lunch, then hospital for MMR (more later), 30 mins drive to nursery, pick up girls, 30 mins drive back to let Maxi go to her swimming lesson, 15 mins drive back.  Dinner.

So it wasn’t the best of days, ok?

The nurse at the children’s ward took me through the paperwork and said, “Oh, did someone tell you that you’ll need to hang around for 2-4 hrs after the injection?” Noooooooo, and this could be a bit of a problem if I can’t be out in 2 hours to pick up Maxi and Midi.  She checked and decided that would be ok after all.  The doctor came, gave me a consent form to sign, explained what a possible vaccine reaction would be like, stated that the possible consequences of not vaccinating were worse, got my signature witnessed, then disappeared.  (I’m glad I do my own research…)  The nurse called us through to the treatment room* where the injection was waiting in a little dish.

*the same room where Midi had been held down by 4 adults to try and fail to get a cannula in her when she was dehydrated and admitted overnight.  And the same room where Mini had failed totally to get a decent blood sample for allergy testing.  The room gave me the shivers.

She noticed Mini had a runny nose.  I explained she was starting a cold, caught from her sister, but that she didn’t have a temperature (Maxi (5) and Midi (3) have had all their vaccinations despite being snotty nosed most of the time – the various Health Visitors over the years always said it would be fine so long as they didn’t have a fever.  So I thought that was gospel).  The nurse checked her temp – 37.1degC, so “warm” but not a fever.  She asked if the doctor had examined Mini.  Noooooo.  Her eyes widened.  No?  Had he even listened to her chest?  No, he hadn’t looked at her at all; should he have?  The other nurse fetched him.  He glanced at Mini gurgling and cooing on my knee then went to consult the consultant.

“I’m afraid that because she has a runny nose and a cough we cannot give her the injection today”, he said in his gentle way.  Both nurses ganged up on him immediately: “Cough?  Who said cough?  I didn’t say anything about a cough.  Did you?”  Um, no, she hasn’t got a cough. Oh crikey, don’t get me involved… <wince>

The long and short of it was, I was very happy to just make a new appointment.  The doctor apologised profusely, I accepted graciously and proffered my own apologies – had I known that any kind of illness was a contraindication for the MMR I’d have phoned to cancel the appointment yesterday and not wasted their very valuable time.  We all apologised politely all round and I was given an appointment next week.  I scuttled out, and prepped the nursery for a possible overrun in picking the minxes up next week if they hold me to 4hrs post wait post MMR.

So.  Now I’m almost spooked at how tricky it’s becoming to get poor unsuspecting little Mini her MMR.  With a bit of a measles outbreak in France and the SE of England, I’m really keen for her to have the vaccination.  But it’s beginning to feel fated that she’s not to have it!

I Am Mostly Being A Little Bit Frazzled, Tonight

Today’s been a tough old day.  I’m trying to think of the humourous side, but I’m struggling!

I think the crushing lack of sleep (all 3 girls were up in the night last night, and baby R cried for an hour straight from 4am, with no let-up (teeth)) cut into my steely-eyed resolve and reserves.

Baby R has an egg allergy.  Although by nature pretty cautious and open-minded, this was obvious.  At 7 months she ate some pasta carbonara.  She really loved it, and smeared it all over her chubby cheeks.  Her fingers and face came up in red weals and blotches within a few minutes.  I noticed a wet wheeze (though it may have been there beforehand).  Just as I started to think about a quick trip to hospital, I remembered the Piriton we’d stashed away in the cupboard that she’d been prescribed for her eczema.  One quick dose, and the rash and wheeze were going within 15 mins and gone by 30 mins.  She came up with a similar rash a week later after eating veg cooked in the same water used to boil egg pasta.  She didn’t react at all after eating a whole jar of Heinz egg custard… (Hint: there’s a higher percentage of egg in the pasta than the processed custard.  Actually, there’s probably a higher percentage of egg in my clean left sock than that custard.)

Anyway, the GP was duly impressed with the detailed report and the A4 photo of R’s rash that I’d taken right after administering the Piriton, and promised to write to the paediatrician.  (Photo: I learned how useful photos of rashes are after *not* taking a photo of my Lyme disease rash years ago, and after taking a snap of Middle Minx’s amoxicillin reaction rash – at the time I thought it was chicken pox with cute loveheart shaped spots…)

Today, the appointment with the paediatrician came.  Baby R was relatively happy for the nurses to weigh and measure her so long as she maintained eye contact with me.  She was blatantly thinking: “It’s December, it’s -10degC in the middle of the afternoon and I’m naked in a cubicle.  Two strange women in white are cooing over me and my nappy contents.  This is not dignified.  I’m not impressed, Mother.  Don’t pull this stunt again.  Last warning”.  She was even ok with the doctor.  “You warmed up the stethoscope first – I’ll let you off with a warning grizzle.  Next time it’s The Shriek.  I mean it”. 

The doctor suggested she have a blood test to confirm whether it was an allergy to yolk, albumen, both, milk, house mites, dust, cat or all of the above.  “And we’ll do a full blood count if there’s enough blood”.  My insides wobbled at the prospect of anything sharp hurting my baby, but hey, it couldn’t be worse than her 500 vaccinations, could it?  (I exaggerate – it was only the standard 6 or so over 3 months).  Um.  It could.

We went to the children’s ward for the doctor and staff nurse up there to do it.  I did a sterling acting job in nonchalently walking into the same room that only 9 months ago Middle Minx had been jabbed 11 times in an effort to site a cannula (she’d been admitted to hospital overnight with dehydration, along with all the other children filling the ward that night – bad v&d bug).  An aside: a wonderful nurse came every hour to feed Middle Minx a few teaspoons of fluid instead, right through the night.  It was 2 weeks before Mini Minx was born just one more ward down the corridor.  Unlike the other wards, the children’s ward staff were, and are, just fantastically and endlessly patient, caring and kind.

After much patting and stretching and frowning from the doctor, the first stab site was selected: baby R’s wrist.  The nurse held her hand forward, the doctor eased the needle in, with no local anaesthetic, and R blinked seriously at him twice.  She looked from needle to his eyes and back again.  Then up at me.  Then back to the needle.  The little tube of blood stopped growing into a bigger tube and the nurse squeezed R’s wrist.  2 fat little drops of blood were coaxed out.  The doctor sighed and went to fetch the consultant.

Santa came in (honestly!) and shook my hand.  I nearly curtseyed.  Then he spent 20 minutes prodding, stabbing, saying “No, no, never do xyz” to the suddenly nervous doctor, who was trying to help.  This time, baby R was having none of it, and wailed her little head off.  The consultant propped R on a bed so it was easier to hold her still.  Like her big sister, it took 4 adults to stop her thrashing too much.  She sobbed and screamed, not understanding why I wouldn’t take the pain away.  I didn’t count, but it was 3 attempts to the right wrist, 2 to the left, and finally enough blood was taken from her heel for it all to stop.  Santa managed a grimace of a smile and peeled his shirt away from his armpits.  Poor man – my Mummy Guilt was in overdrive, so his Nice Old Man Guilt must have been redlining.

The Trout's Daz Challenge

As I gave R a consolatory breastfeed in the day room I apologised to her for causing her the pain and indignity and trauma.  Poor little mite!  If I’d had any inkling it would have been like that I’d have refused the blood test, settling for label reading and avoiding all egg instead.  I only allowed the blood letting (!) to continue after the first tears because I thought I needed to make it worthwhile – why hurt her to just abandon it and not find out which allergens to avoid?  And I suppose it’s an advantage to be pre-warned that her veins are as small and weedy as mine and Middle Minx’s if she ever needs blood taken / cannulas sited / drips installed.

After an exhausted nap from all the screaming, R woke up as sweet-tempered and happy as ever.  She’s forgotten it all, and the bruising to her hands doesn’t seem to be causing her any pain.  Ironically, her heel didn’t stop bleeding for a bit, so my trousers have more blood on them than was sent to the lab.

The one plus of being at the hospital today?  The Boss took the afternoon off work to watch the kids, so did the big Christmas Food Shop in the madhouse that was town today with Midi and Maxi Minx, instead of me.  That would have traumatised me forever, but they all seemed to enjoy it (mentalists!).  So it’ll be turkey for Christmas Dinner.  It’s currently -11degC; tomorrow’s forecast high is -6degC.  It can snow all it likes, now: we’ll dine like kings for the next week.  I iced the Christmas cake to de-stress from upsetting my baby.  The kids parcelled up their home-made peppermint and chocolate-drizzled creams that we made in a fit of Christmas nostalgia.  And most important of all?  I finally purchased the coloured chalks that Maxi Minx asked Santa Claus for her Christmas present!!  So bring on Christmas: we’re ready at last!