A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

A Blizzard In August: The Things We Do For Our Kids… August 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 2:46 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last week, August 8th, was Blizzard Day at DQ to help raise funds for your local Children’s Hospital. Now I know going out for ice cream in August certainly seems like a chore, and sometimes, for most people, it’s just happy circumstance that satisfying your craving for a delicious treat has the bonus side effect of giving back to your community, whether you frequent the hospital or not!

For us, we actually had the date marked down on our calendar because V has shamelessly taken advantage of their services several times this year and whatever we can do to give back we will…even if it means eating copious amounts of ice cream to raise the funds…oh the things we do for our children right??

Enjoying a Blizzard for Children's Hospital London!

Enjoying a Blizzard for Children’s Hospital London!

I realized that while I’d shared our terrifying ‘febrile seizure’ story I have been lax in updating the other health story of the year. V’s week-long stay for croup! Now as a parent I had always heard people speaking of this mythical ‘croup’ illness and I always did the smile and nod thing since I had no idea what they were talking about…well never again! I will probably hear the sounds of the croup cough and wheeze in my head for many years and my adrenaline will likely spike to unhealthy levels each time V gets a cold because let me tell you, croup is not for the faint of heart!

One night, nearing the end of March, Andrew picked me up from work and let me know that he thought V had gotten a little too crazy in the bath and maybe swallowed some water since he’d picked up a bit of a cough before bed. No big deal right? We can handle a cold like a champ! The shocker came when we went to check out little man before turning in and found him struggling to pull in a full breath in his sleep. We grabbed that kid out of his crib so fast and Andrew had the car around to pick us up before V had even realized what was going on. Our first thought was that he was having an asthma attack and we figured we’d head to the ER, have a treatment and see our family dr the next day. We figured if having a seizure had us home in under 3 hours then a little wheeze wouldn’t take much longer. Pfft….

The second we stepped into the ER the nurse had us in for our preliminary evaluation in Triage, into a bed and seen by the doctor all within 15 mins, and if you’ve ever been to an ER in Ontario you know that is practically unheard of. The doctor looked over V quickly and confidently before giving us the diagnosis of croup. He told us that we’d give V a steroid treatment, watch him for about an hour and then go from there. Usually the first and second nights are the worst but the steroid usually takes the edge off and kids are good to go. V took the steroid like a champ and then proceeded to cough it up all over the bed…awesome…so round two it was! The dr however didn’t see enough initial improvement and called respiratory therapy to come down and visit. Awesome! Things were starting to look a bit more serious but again Andrew and I were just going with the flow. The RT came down and decided it was about time to give V an ‘Epi’ treatment. Basically epinephrine given in a mist held right by his nose. V was having none of this ‘smoke’ held into his face so this was bit more difficult but we got it done. Of course this type of treatment carries a few more risks related to the elevated heart rate it causes so we were in for at least 8 hours of observation…*sigh* They wouldn’t even think of letting V go home until they could see him breathing in his sleep and were content that the ‘strider’ (wheeze) was gone. Of course after you give a 2-year-old a dose of steroid and another inhaled treatment to get him going they are pretty much on board for any ‘all-nighter’ you might have planned and we didn’t get him to sleep until after 8am.

Sleep you say? I don't think so!!

Sleep you say? I don’t think so!!

The doctor then sent us home and let us know if he got worse to come back but to try taking him outside to the cool air first. Gotta love those old tricks! We dragged our butts home, slept for about an hour and then spent the rest of the chilly March day with our windows and screen doors open. V seemed back to his normal self and we were read to put it all behind us by Monday night when he fell asleep with no trouble.

Tuesday morning however we were back to the ER when V woke up struggling to pull in a full breath again. Honestly as a parent watching your child struggle to breathe is one of the scariest and most powerless moments of your life. A and I had already done this while he was in the NICU and having to revisit it was no walk in the park. We arrive at the ER just before the shift switch and actually were lucky enough to be seen by the same staff we’d had on Sunday night. They didn’t even start with the steroid first this time but called RT to come back down for the special ‘smoke’ treatment. We knew this meant we were going to be there for the day at least and made ourselves comfortable. However when V required a second inhaled treatment an hour after the first and a third two hours after that, we were told that we should make arrangement to be admitted, likely until the end of the following day. The only benefit to being admitted with croup was that it is CRAZY contagious to other kids so we were given a swanky private room with a pullout couch, free cable TV and internet, bathroom and plenty of space for one crazy active 2-year-old hyped up on all sorts of adrenaline producing drugs.

Downtime between vitals checks and medicine...poor sleepy boy!

Downtime between vitals checks and medicine…poor sleepy boy!

One test the doctors needed to perform was going to be a scope to view V’s airway and lungs. The concern they had was that when he was a preemie and on a ventilator that he had developed scar tissue and this was causing the airways to narrow more than they usually would with croup. Luckily that came back totally normal but V battled this croup infection for a week before we were finally discharged the following Saturday. We had to stay until he could go a full day without the inhaled treatments and we had a great team help us get there. V was being followed by the RT team, PICU team, Floor drs and nurses, as well as the ENT team! Popular little guy during rounds let me tell you! The treatment, however, that finally helped turn the corner, was a full 24 hr dosage schedule on the oral steroids. Usually it’s given once a day but V received 6 doses in a 24 hour period. They worked like a charm but until you’ve seen a 2-year-old experiencing ‘Roid Rage you have no idea what you’re in for! V had the most epic meltdowns I’ve ever seen from any child ever and for absolutely no reason. He would literally flail about on his bed screaming “I MAD!!” at the top of his lungs until he wore himself out enough to sleep. It was awesome….especially since it took about an additional week to clear itself out of his system.

Running around like a maniac, hopped up on the steroids, playing with a glove balloon!

Running around like a maniac, hopped up on the steroids, playing with a glove balloon!

The most heart-wrenching moment for me during his hospital stay was when they decided they wanted to hook him up to an IV to make sure he was getting enough fluids. To insert the IV into a two-year old they have to bundle them (aka swaddle) in a blanket and have a second nurse hold the child down to prevent them from yanking away. V took it like a champ, no screaming, but he just looked at me with big crocodile tears streaming from his eyes, and asked me “Mommy, what I do bad?”. I lost it. The consequence of being big enough to be aware enough of what was happening to his body and not being big enough to understand the why made him think we were punishing him instead of helping him. It just broke my heart and I just sat and snuggled with him as much as possible to let him know that no-one was mad at him. Poor baby boy!

V will his IV and all of his monitors. That's a lot of equipment for a tiny kid!

V will his IV and all of his monitors. That’s a lot of equipment for a tiny kid!

V was also the most spoiled kid on the face of the planet that week! Various friends and family stopped by to visit or send gifts. He was in seventh heaven and we were just in awe of the amazing support system we had in place helping us through a hard time. I also have to give mad props to Andrew’s work who went above and BEYOND to make sure he could be at the hospital with his child as much as he needed. His boss even took time out of his day to bring us coffee and a gift bag for V including his very own personalized Jays baseball cap! As I said…SPOILED!

Pimped out hospital room! Target also opened that week so I think all of our relative cleared out the Thomas section...

Pimped out hospital room! Target also opened that week so I think all of our relative cleared out the Thomas section…

Since we’ve gotten over this one incident V has had croup a second time. We managed to make it through without another hospital stay but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about croup season coming up again in the fall. Once a child has it once apparently they are more prone to having it again and I’m not sure my heart can take it! Placing my order for V’s protective plastic bubble this week!


Literacy: A Toddler’s Perspective

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 1:39 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

As the parent of a toddler I’ve now found that one of the ‘hot topics’ among our friends and colleagues, especially with JK just around the corner, is how ‘advanced’ our kiddos are. Now the definition of ‘advanced’ when your child is just barely approaching a 3rd or 4th birthday is somewhat relative. What exactly does it mean…and on another note…how extensively are you willing to guide your child to make sure they enter Kindergarten at the ‘top’ of their class?

Now, while I did complete Teachers’ College, I’m the first to admit that I’m not an expert in Early Childhood Education, all I know is how A and I are introducing V to a world that is way more complicated that it was, even 25 years ago, when we were starting our first days at school.  While I realize that each child develops talents in a variety of academic areas, for the purpose of this blog I’m going to focus on literacy. As for our approach on the topic, I think it’s an interesting mash-up of how we both were raised with a focus, for V, on ‘whole media’ literacy.

I was brought up in a household that valued traditional literacy. I remember taking weekly trips to the library, stories before bedtime and phonics workbooks to help increase my reading level and spelling abilities. We didn’t even own a TV for two years during my primary school years! Andrew, on the other hand, was brought up with a focus on media literacy; early use of computers (including web design!), video games, television, magazines and comic books. Each of these approaches had their benefits and when we talked about how we wanted to encourage literacy in V we decided a combined approach would probably be best to allow him to succeed in a world where media literacy is quickly becoming the definitely of ‘literate’. To us, ‘whole media literacy’ means that V spends equal amounts of time with TV, Computers, Tablets, Smartphones, Radio and of course, books, magazines and comics.


Reading his Day out with Thomas newspaper with Grandma Sherry and Grandpa!

Reading his Day out with Thomas newspaper with Grandma Sherry and Grandpa!

As an example let’s look at V’s routine during a day at home with us. V wakes up in the am and yes, brace yourselves, watches TV! He will request his favourite show (Toopy and Binoo, Dora, Bubble Guppies, etc) and thanks to the magic of ‘On Demand’ we usually cue up an episode we haven’t seen enough times to quote the entire script. Now, while I fully admit to having used cartoons as a babysitter when mountains of laundry are calling my name, what normally happens is that we actively listen to the shows with V and encourage involvement in the show. Luckily most children s programming today encourages their small fans to interact with the story lines and run their programming much like a kindergarten lesson, dividing it into: Introduction, activity, recap, extrapolation/lesson. Shockingly, the same things most parents would do when reading a book! V will sing and dance along with the music, answer questions and choose appropriate objects/activities during prompting and recap the plot with us after the show is over. Courtesy of Dora he will even answer questions in Spanish when the mood takes him. How can you not be impressed by that!?!

Even the Children's Hospital hooked him up with Dora DVDs while he waited for treatment!

Even the Children’s Hospital hooked him up with Dora DVDs while he waited for treatment!

After TV we usually encourage creative play or crafts. He is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and will make up his own story lines with his characters. Usually James is getting into some kind of trouble and Thomas needs to save his sorry butt. Never a dull day on Sodor! Based on a combination of Thomas story books and the TV show ‘Thomas and Friends’ V is never short of locations or plot lines to draw from and create his own unique version of events. He even colours us pictures of Thomas and his buddies gallivanting around the island, although they usually require some explaining as to adult eyes they look suspiciously like blue and green squiggles.

Spelling words with his 'Monsters' App on the iPhone. So impressed when he uses the work 'lopsided' correctly!

Spelling words with his ‘Monsters’ App on the iPhone. So impressed when he uses the work ‘lopsided’ correctly!

V is also fully allowed to access our computers, tablets and phones to play a variety of toddler friendly games. I have no idea how parents did it before the advent of technology! V, at 2.5 years old, is now more proficient at using these devises than most of our older family members. He listens to interactive story books on the iPad, follows Jays twitter with his dad on the Samsung Galaxy and learns spelling, puzzles and matching games on my iPhone. He knows how to get to the section with his apps and alternates between them as long as his  attention span allows. He has such a sense of pride when he finishes an activity and loves to show us the end product with a verbal explanation on what he did! We also let him bang away on the computer to encourage learning on what a keyboard and computer can do, since in all likelihood when he starts having to hand in assignments in school they will be typed or submitted electronically. Not to say that it isn’t a necessary skill but handwriting is already becoming less of a focus on today’s public schools! If you don’t believe me check out your local curriculum documents! V also asks to use Skype to talk to family members that live out-of-town. He can recognize their pictures, and as Grandma can attest, will even dial himself and leave blank messages for people to find later!

Drawing on the iPad is hard work!

Drawing on the iPad is hard work!

To end our day A and I always read V a story from his extensive collection. I grew up loving books and hope to instill the same wonder in my own child. We rotate a few favourites and love books revolving around his favourite characters and songs. After we’ve read a book a few times we ask V to fill in the blanks during reading with different nouns, point out objects in the illustrations or do the actions/sing along with us. It is a really special way to end the day and he loves that part of his routine.

For V there is no preference to any type of media platform and he is able to work with and entertain himself using any one presented to him at a level appropriate for his age. The fact that publishers and producers are themselves creating multimedia empires for each fictional universe definitely helps create a seamless transition when encouraging this type of literacy for your children. For example we can create a whole ‘Team Umizoomi’ Day at our house using cartoons, crafts, toys, books and apps!

V still has a year to go until he’s registered for kindergarten (and that’s a whole other kettle of fish let me tell you!) but A and I are fully confident that when he’s placed into an interactive, multi-media classroom he will flourish based on the skill set he is already developing. While I still have a great book collection in my basement and enjoy a paper copy every once in a while I’m not blind to the fact that for most of V’s life he will usually be using electronic platforms to access his literature and activities. Might as well get him started early and teach responsible use and content across all platforms!!

And sometimes watching TV has cool side effects - Like being on it!! Second time V has made a 'guest appearance' on Sportsnet's  'Jays Connected'

And sometimes watching TV has cool side effects – Like being on it!! Second time V has made a ‘guest appearance’ on Sportsnet’s ‘Jays Connected’