Browsing Tag

fear

newbie mom

Anniversary of our trip to Children’s Hospital

March 3, 2016

Professionally this month I celebrated the one year mark of joining a new client team. Personally we, as a family, celebrated the anniversary of our toddler’s health scare.

Back in February of 2015 we noticed an odd rash on our son’s face – we scheduled a doctors visit and found out that he had a very low platelet count that then plunged to dangerous levels. I can still remember the fear I felt welling in my throat when I received the call from his pediatrician while preparing for my first client all-agency presentation.

We were fortunate that things came out on top for us and our little guy made a full recovery – but it was definitely an unexpected and frightening experience. (More about our visit to Children’s, some of our learnings and our follow-up visits).

4 things we’ve learned over the last year since our trip to Children’s Hospital:

1) Trust your gut

It drives me crazy when people say ‘you’ll know it’. Too Olivia Pope ‘trust your gut.’ Maybe it’s the planner in me that just has to know. Like… “What does labor feel like?” “If you were in labor, you would know it.” Annoying.

When our son V woke up from his nap over President’s Day weekend last year with a rash on his face like we’d never seen before we just knew something was off. It just didn’t feel typical – it felt odd. So I’m going to do the thing I hate… tell you that ‘you’ll just know it’.  So here you have it…

If something is wrong, you’ll know.

2) Google is not your friend

According to Google our son had nothing or cancer… and all that’s in between. An online diagnosis can read like the disclosure on pharmaceutical advertisements – listing every single potential scenario that may be anywhere near a slight possibility. Needless to say, it’s worth the copay to go see your pediatrician for an actual diagnosis. They got a degree after all. Wouldn’t you rather have the peace of mind instead of worrying over the unknown infinite possibilities?

3) An elephant never forgets

It’s true that thoughts will flutter in and out of your conscious as you move further from the hospital stay. But the memory of the event never fully leaves. Instead the thoughts hang in the back of our minds waiting to be brought to the light. We kept a keen eye on V this past year. We’d take special notice and mentally log every mark and bruise on his active toddler body. Commenting to each other at the end of the day while brushing our teeth “Did you see that mark on his back? Let’s keep an eye on that.” Fortunately most kids his age that experience ITP and recover do not have a recurrence. However with no reason for it’s cause in the first place it can be cold comfort. So now, on the year anniversary, we’re putting it further to bed than we ever have before but our guard will not be completely down.

4) Teamwork makes the dream work

It’s true that I sometimes want to murder my husband a little bit in his sleep. (Mostly because he makes this insanely annoying ‘ticking’ noise – according to facebook and the inter-webs I may have misophonia. I realize this is ironic since I just told you in my second point that online diagnosis is a no-no). When we were faced with this scare we banded together instead of splintering apart. We were scared, we were facing the unknown and we did it together. Yay us!

I cannot express how thankful I am for the health of my family. Events like the one we experienced last year bring our fortune into sharp focus. We were lucky that our scare was brief however there are many that are not so fortunate. To mark the anniversary we will be donating some items to the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital Ronald McDonald Family Room. In what was, thankfully, our short stay at the hospital we really appreciated the toiletries we received and hot shower we were able to take in the RMHC Family Room.

If you’re ever wondering what to do with those soaps, shampoos and lotions you couldn’t help but take from the hotel on your last business trip – stock up and donate to RMHC!

Find out more about Ronald McDonald House Charities.

-JLVR

motherhood, working mom

New Mom? Quit Social Media.

November 18, 2015

My advice for a new mom going back to work? Quit social media.

Why? The recent bombardment of articles around infant death. Seriously.

Going back to work is difficult enough without reading about tragic stories involving infant deaths – which are rare. Even though these incidents are in the vast minority, infant death doesn’t feel rare when you see multiple articles pop up in your feed as you’re checking your social media between meetings. The worst thing? You can’t not read them – you’re compelled by some inner anxiety and fear that ensures you click thru. Why torture yourself?

Many of the articles I’ve read mention having to leave your infant with strangers. To that I ask, why are you leaving your infant with strangers? The people that take care of your child while you’re working should not be strangers. Get to know them for fuck sake you’re leaving your precious tiny human with them!

Many also mention a group care setting. Not comfortable with a group care/daycare setting? Don’t send your kid there. Find another option – a nanny, an au pair, relatives or determine which partner will stay home. You have options – exercise them.

I will tell you from experience, however, leaving your kid to go back to work with ANYONE other than YOU is f-ing HARD. Even if it’s your own relatives – the fact remains it’s not YOU. And that SUCKS.

What can you do to ease your mind? Get to know your care providers in any setting you choose. Ensure that appropriate certifications are in place, like CPR for instance, and that your child will only be allowed to sleep in a crib devoid of loose material on their back (not in any type of seat or carrier). Oh… and quit social media for awhile.

I just recently began back at work full-time after having baby #2 – ‘new baby’ according to our toddler – and all these articles are making me beyond anxious. Even though this is not my first rodeo, I furiously texted my husband in a panic just yesterday morning after reading yet another story.

Are you a new mom preparing to go back to work? Do yourself a favor and quit social media for awhile.

 

 

newbie mom

ITP, the (seemingly) never ending story

June 2, 2015

It all began on February 15th when a strange rash appeared on V’s face and was kicked-up a notch with V’s admittance to Children’s Hospital for treatment for ITP on February 23rd.

NOTE: Petechiae has a very specific look – see a few pictures of V’s cheeks above for reference. It looks like tiny pin pricks and is not raised. It’s one of those things they say ‘you’ll know it when you see it’ and it’s true. It’s very distinct.

Since being released from Children’s Hospital on 2/24 we began a regimen of weekly blood draws at our local Cleveland Clinic lab. V was a champ. He was a ham in the waiting room, flirting with the ladies. He did really well even though most of the time it was not easy to draw his blood and he was poked and prodded a bit. (Also have you ever met a kid that hated band-aids? It’s this guy. NOT A FAN. All I hear/read about is kids asking for cool looking band-aids even though they don’t have a boo-boo or they have a microscopic scrape. This guy – not so much.)

Each week, in the beginning, we saw a decline in V’s platelets. The declines prompted the request for a quicker turnaround visit in March only leaving half a week rather than a full between lab visits. Then we had an inconclusive test. It was slow torture. The decline was constantly in the back of our minds each week as we waiting until the next draw. The waiting game and the unknown was the worst of it for sure. Here’s how it played out in his platelet count (normal levels are between 150-450,000)…

  • 2/17 Count at 25,000
  • 2/23 Count at 7,000
  • 2/24 Count at 31,000
    • V was released form Children’s Hospital
  • 2/26 Count at 160,000
  • 3/13 Count at 116,000
  • 3/26 Count at 46,000
    • Glass half empty – Another test ordered for Monday
  • 3/30 Count at 60,000
    • Glass half full – Though it was still lower than we wanted, his count had rebounded
  • 4/6 Inconclusive test
    • Glass half full – Even though the test was inconclusive, the doctor felt we could wait until our next weekly draw rather than redoing the test
  • 4/14 Count at 196,000
    • We could skip a week and get checked after our mini vacation to Florida
  • 5/1 Count at 101,000
    • No need to get blood drawn again, schedule appointment with hematologist to HOPEFULLY have one final check and be cleared

Today was, I’m happy to report, our final visit! His count came back at 287,000. V has been cleared by the hematologist. We no longer have to visit the lab for blood draws and can consider his ITP resolved however we should keep an eye out for atypical bruising and petechiae – both signs of ITP. For most kids it’s a one-and-done thing with treatment. We’re hoping this is the case for us. For now we feel fortunate that this can categorized as a blip on the radar of an otherwise perfectly healthy toddler.

– JLVR

More about our visit to Children’s and some of our learnings.

newbie mom

our trip to children’s hospital

March 2, 2015

Last week our V was admitted to Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital to treat  Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) – a disorder that can lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding due to unusually low platelet levels. Though not an uncommon occurrence in children it was still a scary experience that luckily we came out on the right side of. Below are all of the details of our experience. We are so fortunate this has gone our way thus far and that we were able to have the flexibility in our work schedules to tackle this as a family.

Sunday Feb. 15th

  • Afternoon – Our little guy went down for a nap (not without a fight) and woke up with a rash on his face.
  • PM – We were giving DV a bath and noticed that he had quite a few bruises on his legs. He’s an active toddler so some bruises are common but he seemed to have a lot.

Monday Feb. 16th

  • AM – The curious rash on V’s face didn’t fade at all overnight so we looked a little more into it. The rash looked like he had been pricked by a bunch of pins which was unlike any other rash we’d seen on him to date. That said, we’re first time parents and he’s only been around for 17 months so there are a lot of firsts. We Googled the rash – it looked more like petechiae – and were met with potential diagnosis information that ranged from nothing to cancer. So we decided to make an appointment to be sure – joking that the doc would wave it off as nothing.

Tuesday Feb. 17th

  • AM – We chose to see DV’s pediatrician because he had an opening in the morning. My husband took V so that I could get to work because I had another appointment early afternoon. At first our pediatrician didn’t think much of the rash but by the end of the examination he’d requested that DV have blood work done. My husband said V did amazing with the blood draw – he didn’t even cry!
  • PM – That night we got a call form another physician in the practice with the results. Though all of V’s other counts looked good, his platelet count was at 25,000. It should be around 150-450,000.  We were told to bring him to the lab on Monday for another blood draw to recheck V’s levels. In the meantime we were told ‘Don’t throw him off any cliffs and you should be fine until Monday morning. If he develops a new major bruise before then bring him in earlier for a blood draw.’

Wednesday Feb. 18th-Sunday Feb. 22nd

  • We had a nerve-racking week and weekend as we waited for Monday morning to arrive and DV’s next blood draw. We inspected V’s body every night to ensure that he didn’t have any other spots of rash or bruises. It was a buzzing underlying worry that followed us through the week as we played the waiting game.

Sunday Feb. 22nd

  • PM – As we were doing our new routine bedtime inspection we noticed some more areas of rash on V’s bottom that hadn’t been there before – not a good sign.

Monday Feb. 23rd

  • AM – We woke up in the morning to fresh rash spots on DV’s face – not good. My husband took him to have his blood work done, they pricked his finger this time to take the sample. Shortly after lunch I received a call form my husband. Daycare let him know that V’s finger didn’t stop bleeding until midday and they had to change his bandage a few times – also not good.
  • Afternoon – I received a call from our pediatrician around 4PM. DV’s blood work had come back and his count was at 7,000 – anything below 10,000 you’re at risk of internal bleeding – we needed to pick V up from daycare and take him to Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology department. They were expecting us. We should pack a bag and plan to spend a few nights.

    • I was in a meeting with one of my direct reports working on our first client agency summit presentation for Thursday when I took the call. I held it together to listen to the instructions from the pediatrician and take notes but as soon as I had to relay to her what was happening I broke down. This wasn’t a complete surprise, we had quite a few signs that cropped up that morning pointing to this outcome but it doesn’t make it any easier to hear.
    • I called my husband, gathered my things, shot an email to my team to let them know why I was leaving because I couldn’t tell them without crying and walked out the door.
    • When I arrived home my husband let me know that V had come home with another bruise on his back, he said it was pretty ugly and that I may not want to look at it. I did. It was. I almost wished I didn’t.
  • PM – We arrived early evening and went through admissions. We were set-up in a room and awaited visits from the medical staff. V loved being examined by everyone. He was a complete chatter box. I think he secretly delighted in being up hours past his typical bedtime.

Diagnosis – Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), an unexplained destruction of his platelets by antibodies produced by his own immune system.

Treatment – IV steroids and immune globulin (IVIG)

  • Late PM – At 10:30PM they put an IV line in V’s foot (because he’s a hand kid – sucks his fingers, holds his ear for comfort – they decided foot was best for the IV). Dad held him, he cried, I tried not to pass-out. After that he was both hooked up to a bag of steroids and dosed up with some Tylenol and Benadryl he was understandably exhausted and fell right to sleep. We put him in the crib and covered him with a blanket from home.
    • The nurse, who was amazing, began the IVIG around midnight. To do this she had to constantly monitor his vitals. While V was sleeping she adeptly attached 4 stickers to his chest and belly, a cuff on his leg and pulse ox on his foot so that she could run tests without waking him.
    • He woke up a few times, once at 2:30AM and once at 5:30AM and he was able to get right back to sleep (after a little snuggle in his Dad’s shoulder). He was done with all the IV’s after 5:30AM and we all slept until the nurse shift change at 7:15AM.

 

Tuesday Feb. 24th

  • AM – We threw a sock over V’s IV port and took him down to the cafeteria for breakfast where he ate approximate 2/3 of a pound of pineapple and strawberries as well as some Chex cereal. He LOVED hanging out down there and seeing all of the people. When we got back to our room breakfast had arrived – he proceeded to drink milk and eat waffle sticks. Clearly he had not lost his appetite!
    • After breakfast our friend, who is a dietitian at the Clinic, dropped by between her meetings to say ‘hi’. V loves visitors so he quickly cuddled up in her arms after playing in his crib with a few balls we brought from home.
    • After our visit, I took DV down to the 3rd floor to look at the fishes in the aquarium. We also checked out the playroom which was awesome. He loved getting out and about. I’m so thankful that he had the IV’s overnight because I’m not sure how we would have kept him still!
    • We had a blood draw late morning to check V’s platelet levels which lead to a midday snooze for the little guy.
  • PM – After lunch the nurse let us know that V’s platelet count had rebounded to 31,000. With this positive response to IVIG and the stable platelet count we received great news from our doctor – we were being discharged!

Wednesday Feb. 25th

  • My husband and I arranged our workday so that we could stay home with V rather than sending him to daycare. I took the morning shift and he took the afternoon so I could head to work and practice my presentation for the next day.

Thursday Feb. 26th

  • AM – My husband took V back to Cleveland Clinic Children’s for a blood draw and immediate results. V’s platelet count had rebounded to 160,000. I was half way through the morning session of my day-long client meeting when I got the good news via text. (Thankfully the morning session was held in a large auditorium and I could stealthy yet obsessively check my phone!)

The Game Plan

We’re not completely in the clear but things are looking great so far. We have to follow-up one time per week for the next three weeks with blood work, fortunately we can have V’s blood drawn at the medical center down the street from where we live.

If everything keeps looking good for the three weeks we will meet with the Hematologist again at Children’s to determine the schedule of blood draws for the next few months.

What I Learned

  • My husband and I did well in a crisis situation. We calmly put a plan in motion and did what needed to be done. We worked well together as a team facing the unknown.
  • I already knew he was an amazing Dad but he truly cemented his status. V is a Daddy’s boy right now and definitely needed him for comfort. He was calm, collected and extremely attentive to his little boy.
  • We’re beyond fortunate for our health, and that of our little guy.

 

motherhood

I was just ready for him

October 15, 2014
Baby Dan V in Navy Hoodie

I was really scared about becoming a mom. Like real scared. I literally told my husband, IV, that he better be ready to take care of this baby on his own because I may check-out of the whole thing.

The truth is children terrified me. I was convinced that I’d be one of those people that did not love or bond with their child. I definitely wanted a family but was more of the mindset to skip infancy and adolescence and go straight to the well-adjusted adult child part.

This may explain why I really enjoyed this quick article by Jenny Mollen for Cosmopolitan “The Moment I Fell in Love With My Son”. (You may know her husband, Jason Biggs, of American Pie fame among other projects like Orange is the New Black/OITNB). She directly addressed my thoughts and fears. Babies? Yeah, not super into them. Second Thoughts? For sure! I’m almost to the ‘finish line’ but am I really ready for this? Um I’m thinking no.

With this line she says it all…

“I wasn’t ready for kids. I was just ready for him.”

Now that Dan V is in my life, I think back on how much energy I wasted being anxious and worried. I may not have been ready for kids, but I was definitely ready for him.

LV ♥

-JLVR

P.S. She’s also all about breastfeeding and one of her favorite selfie accessories is her pump, which is kind of awesome from a celeb. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.