D’s journey, part 4 – Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Just a note that this post talks a lot about intestines, if that grosses you out you should skip! Also not a post with a happy ending, but we’re getting there!

We last left off with D readmitted to the NICU with plans for exploratory surgery in the morning since he had some kind of abdominal issue.

Mr. Tiger and I arrived at the hospital just in time to see D off before the surgery (although he was already intubated and drugged up on morphine). The surgeons got our consent and explained they were going to go in through his belly button with a small camera, and see if they could tell what was wrong. They warned us that the worst case scenario would be that they would have to remove a section of the intestines, and that if the remaining intestines were too inflamed, they’d have to stay disconnected (outside of his body) for several weeks until they could be reconnected. I consented without really understanding what this meant, since what other choice did we have?

When the surgery was over and the surgeons brought us back into the mini conference room, which is always the longest 30 second walk I’ve ever had – what if they are bearing bad news? They explained that although the surgery went well, they did have to deal with the worst case scenario. D had developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis, or NEC, which meant that part of his intestines had actually died – hence the abdominal distress and bloody poops. They had removed 15cm of intestine, so now he had an ostomy bag (for the part of the intestines that came from the stomach, to empty out) and a fistula (the part of the intestines going to his butt which would be unused until reconnected).

I later was researching NEC and discovered that 1 in 4 babies who get it, die from it. Although the specific cause isn’t known, preemies are the most susceptible, although the vast majority get it while pre-term and still in the NICU. Preemie parents may remember a lot of belly measuring — identifying stomach bloating caused by NEC is one of the reasons why.

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Favorite Potty Training Books

Charlie was very easy to potty train at 2 1/2, and we probably could have trained him much earlier. I always assumed that girls would be much easier to train, but Olive is now almost 3 and though she likes sitting on the potty, she doesn’t like using it. We were waiting for the magical day when she would really start showing interest, but it hasn’t arrived yet. If we’ve learned one thing about her, it’s that she does things in her own time (and she’s a stubborn honey badger!). We’re probably going to have to buckle down and try the 3-day approach.

We’ve read a lot of potty training books over the years (the library is a really great place to check out a bunch), and Olive really enjoys them. These are our favorites:

Princess of the Potty/Prince of the Potty – This is the book we used for Charlie, and I like that the story and illustrations are clear, and it is very thorough covering how to use the potty, accidents, washing hands, and more. As far as a comprehensive how to, I think this is one of the best potty books.

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homemade spaghetti sauce

There’s a recipe that’s been passed down my family for generations. My dad’s grandparents were both born in Italy and came to the States in the early 1920s. My nana is a first generation Italian-American, and she said her entire family grew up in the same area of the city. Literally, across the street from each other. My nana lives in her parents’ house, where my dad grew up, and she’s told me so many stories about the markets and how they’d buy fresh vegetables to make their own sauce. This is a family recipe that’s been tweaked through the years, but the base is still the same. She never taught me how to make this with fresh tomatoes and we all used canned sauce now. The sauce makes your entire house smell delicious, and it reminds me of my childhood.  I used to help my nana cook her sauce and she’d always give me a ladle of sauce in a small bowl with some mancini’s bread.  There are other ways to tell, but you know the sauce is done when it sticks to the bread.

Each person in my family makes this a  bit differently.  My nana starts by browning an onion in oil at the bottom of the stock pot for extra flavor but omits garlic. My mom cooks hers with a whole green bell pepper, quartered, and raw pork chops (they cook with the sauce). I omit the onions, bell peppers and pork chops, so my base is like my moms and nana’s, but sometimes we use real basil and fresh garlic. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to make this, but the extra ingredients really make this taste differently. You can tell who has cooked the sauce for our Sunday dinners based on the flavor!

This makes a huge portion of sauce.  I have never bothered to do the math to half this. At Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter we actually double this and use very last drop for our meal. When I make this, I’ll use some for dinner then freeze the remaining portions for a quick meal. It thaws easily and tastes just as great!

Already teaching Chloe how to make our sauce!

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Disney Wrap Up: Things I Hope to Do Next Time

Disney truly has so much to offer, it is impossible to do everything in one vacation. I was both surprised and pleased with the amount we were able to do and see, especially with two small children in tow, but there are so many things I wish we could have squeezed in even if I knew time and the patience of the kids weren’t on our side.  Besides the rides and attractions we missed out on in each park, there were many side things I had wished to try out but we never managed to do. So I decided to compile a list of those fun extras for a future trips.

(via urbanspoon)

The Kitchen Sink Ice Cream - Beaches & Cream is an ice cream shop at the Disney Beach Club Resort, and the Kitchen Sink Ice Cream is a huge pile of ice cream and toppings  placed into container resembling a kitchen sink. It’s pricey (around $25 I think) and enough to feed a family. I wanted to do this to see Drake’s face when such a huge bowl of ice cream was placed in front of him. I also think it’s just one of those fun memories kids will never forget because of the novelty and whimsy of it. You can find the recipe here!

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Choosing A Primary Care Physician in Canada

The first decision I had to make when I found out I was pregnant was which type of primary care practitioner (PCP) I wanted to see. Typically in Ontario, women see their family doctors; many of the doctors in our area also have delivering privileges at the local hospital. I’m fortunate enough to live in a city with a large team of midwives as well, so I was quickly faced with a pro-con list.

First on the list was my family doctor. I’ve been seeing him fairly regularly for the last ten years or so, and he’s got a general idea of who I am and the types of health concerns I’ve faced. His wait times are fairly short, and I knew that I could get an appointment within a few days if I needed one. The lab for bloodwork is right downstairs, and the ultrasound clinic is down the hall. It was convenient, close to home, and sounded like a good choice. The problem was that he doesn’t deliver babies. I could see him until 26 weeks, at which point I would be transferred to whichever OB in the area was accepting patients. I didn’t like that level of uncertainty; I’d much rather have someone who could follow me throughout my entire pregnancy.

My other choice was the midwives clinic. I would be assigned a group of three midwives to follow my case; with each appointment, I would see one of the three. There would be a midwife on-call 24 hours a day, reachable by pager, for any emergencies that might happen. Because the midwives are licensed, they could requisition any of the blood work I might need, and they have a great relationship with the ultrasound clinic in the building. If anything were to happen, they have a few OBs that they work with, so my care could be transferred and I could be seen by the midwives at the same time. They operate on the principle of informed consent; all of the tests, scans and treatments that are offered during pregnancy are carefully explained and detailed before they are done (or not done). They also encourage natural birth, either at home or in the hospital.

The problem with the midwives group is the transfer of care aspect. Say I went into labour and wanted an epidural; I would need to have my care transferred to the OB on call at the hospital, and the midwives would be done with my case. After following me for nine months, I would now be the sole responsibility of the OB and the hospital nurses.

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Why I Might Be “One and Done”

Growing up, I was never the girl who thought she would be the traditional “get married, get a kid-friendly job, have kids” type. My first dozen years were spent in a fairly traditional family environment in Russia, where that was pretty much exactly what women did, and had I stayed in Russia, I probably would have ended up on that track. But my subsequent and most formative years were spent in the US, where women could be anything they wanted and having kids was an option, not a given.

When I met Mr. Carrot, I met someone who shared my love for travel and exploration, and living in a major metropolitan area, we had plenty of adventure to pick from. With enough planning and saving, we managed to take some amazing overseas vacations, and our jobs were demanding and engaging enough that we generally felt like our lives were pretty complete. We bought a condo right outside our city, we formed a circle of friends that gave us plenty of weekend plans to consider, and we fell into a comfortable rhythm of being our own people and a young professional couple enjoying the kid-free life.

Mr. Carrot always wanted to have kids, but let me set the pace on that question. And for a long time, the answer was “no.” Not “not right now” or “I’m not ready yet”  - it was a solid “no.” As much as I loved kids, I didn’t feel any twinges to have my own. I could come up with a litany of reasons why I didn’t think we were ready logistically, but I was also always rational enough to know that you never really can be ready. My deciding factor wasn’t readiness, it was my own instinct – I just didn’t feel like kids were something I wanted to do. A lot of people rolled their eyes when this subject would come up – “you’ll get there eventually” and “insert name of commonly uttered phrase about having kids here.”

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Super Simple DIY Nursery Letters

I have developed an obsession with Paper Source and seek out excuses to pick out beautiful pieces of paper whenever I can. My favorite craft project so far has been these letters for the nursery. It’s so very simple, takes no talent, and with all of the gorgeous paper to choose from, you can easily create something quite special and lovely!

What I used:

I chose this quilt paper because it offered so many designs in one… making the letters look far more involved then they really were.

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