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 An Avalanche of Catastrophes
(May 28, 2010)

As of the last entry, we had gotten the baby home and all was sweetness and light.

The two weeks after that... well... not so much.

Let me see if I can adequately capture experience. Think of it as a historical exercise, for the benefit of posterity. Or, if that doesn't do it for you, think of it a cheap alternative to therapy.

So, the Beautiful Woman came home on the Saturday after the operation. That would have been on April 17. We collected her prescriptions (for pain meds and various other things), and settled in. Theron was staying with his grandparents, so it was just the two of us and the baby.

On Sunday the 18th, Theron came home and then had a bit of a meltdown at bedtime. In retrospect, I should have seen that coming. He's like me - he does his panicking after the crisis is over. But, okay, we got him down (and more or less soothed - I think he was making sure he still had our attention as much as anything else.)

On Monday the 19th, the Beautiful Woman noticed a bit of leakage around the incision (from the c-section). That area was itchy, but that was expected; itching is part of the healing process. Unfortunately, by Thursday (the 22nd) the itching and the leakage had gotten significantly worse, and there was now a visible rash around the incision and all the way down to her upper thighs. The Ob-Gyn diagnosed it as hives, and advised the Beautiful Woman to start taking benadryl, which she does. The Ob-Gyn also gave her a prescription for Keflex, an antibiotioc, as a precaution again possible infections. The Beautiful Woman quit taking the painkiller that she'd been prescribed, and I laundered... well... pretty much everything that she had been in contact with. That night, the rash also appeared on the top of her feet. It had pretty well taken over her thighs by then.

The next day was Friday, and we went out to eat dinner with my wife's parents and a couple of other family members who were passing through time. At dinner, the Beautiful Woman was very cold; we didn't think much of it, since she was drinking an awful lot of ice water at the time. She went to sleep as soon as we got home, then woke up about 1:00 a.m. and threw up everything in her stomach. (My stomach was also somewhat upset that night.)

Saturday morning (the 24th), we called the Ob-Gyn. She gave us a prescription for an alternate anti-biotic, but we did not manage to collect them. The rash was now entirely covering her belly, breasts, and thighs. It appeared to by dying down/drying out on her feet. Oddly, there was no sign of it on her back. On Sunday, the rash looked a bit... drier... but it was still everywhere and it was still itchy. Despite the Benadryl and the Keflex, it appeared to be spreading to the back of her neck as well.

By Wednesday night (the 26th), the rash spread to the Beautiful Woman's face, particularly around her eyes. That was more than enough for both of us. We turned Theron over to his Nana, and went to the Emergency Room. They consulted the Ob-Gyn, and finally gave my wife some sort of steroid shot. This had a nearly immediate effect on the itching, and by the next morning the newer areas of the rash looked and felt a lot better. We picked up more of the steroid, and waited for the 'established' areas to settle down.

By Saturday, my wife was doing a lot better . She no longer looked like she got into a knock-down fight with someone wearing poison ivy boxing gloves. And Roland was coming along just fine; he lost a little weight when he first came home (not unexpected), but by this point (the 30th) he was back up to his birth weight.

Unfortunately, Theron picked up The Horrible Tummy Bug from either his cousin or his aunt (Arrow's sister), and was sick (and gross!) from the middle of Wednesday night (the 26th) until about midafternoon Thursday. He spent most of the day on the couch in the living room, watching Transformers and later playing Lego Star Wars. Because of the steroid (and Roland), Arrow spent most of the day in Roland's room. The last thing we needed was for either of them to get sick. I wiped things with disinfectant and laundered various sheets, blankets, pillow cases, pillows, and sleeping bags... oh, and clothes. So, really, I was the prime candidate for Person Most Likely To Be Infected... but somehow I managed to avoid it. Under the circumstances, that was nearly miraculous. I finally got some food into Theron on Thursday night, and he recovered fairly quickly after that.

So, yeah. The birth went wonderfully well; apparently the Almighty was saving the Avalanche of Catastrophes for the two weeks subsequent.

My wife added this message to some friends on a message board, who offered support and helpful advice in the midst of all this:

I'm typing this one-handed (holding Roland) but had to thank you for the well-wishing and ER advice. Getting that steroid shot saved me. I had reached a point where the rash was on about 65% of my body, and was so itchy that I had stopped sleeping. We still don't know what caused the reaction. I went off everything, but the reaction kept escalating.

Of course, now I'm so afraid that I'll take my final dose of steroid in two days and then the rash will reappear. Maybe I'm allergic to the stitches? Or is it the tape and keflex? Or just a crazy hydrocodone reaction? No way to tell right now.

What really freaked me is that I bled vaginally more and more the worse the rash became, soaking multiple pads, with internal itching and pain. The night we went to the ER I was sure I was going to bleed out and die. Cue my melodrama and tears. Just couldn't stop. I got the steroid and the bleeding went back to black, and just a very small amount. Very weird.

Roland is fantastic. He seems ill now with the tummy bug, though. Hope this ends soon. Don't know how I'd handle a vomiting disease fresh from a c-section. Attempted to Clorox wipe the house today.


We still don't really know what caused it. My best guess is the pain medication; the timing matches that pretty well. Alternatively, it may have been an allergic reaction to the tape used to cover the incision, or a random virus that settled into the Beautiful Woman's already-weakened immune system. Or pick some combination of the above. We think the vomiting was unrelated - it only happened the one time, and my stomach was upset that night, too. Our big fear (which, fortunately, proved to be groundless) was that this was an allergic reaction to the stitches themselves, which would take several more weeks to completely dissolve.

In the midst of all that...
Theron went to the zoo on Saturday the 24th, with my brother and his wife. Roland had an immunization shot - his first - that morning, and handled it pretty well. He felt puny and slept a lot, afterwards. Theron, meanwhile, had an absolutely wonderful time at the zoo. Then, on Sunday, he had a play date with his friend Christopher, which gave us another two hours of relative peace and quiet. We're exceedingly fortunate to have helpfully-inclined friends and family nearby - an observation I've made before, but one I feel compelled to repeat.


Riding on Kangaroos
(Photo)

Climbing the Net
(Photo)

Penguin Sized!
(Photo)

Yes, he was hatched
(Photo)

Theron was a little freaked out by the disruption to our schedule. He was fine all the way through the birth, but the Sunday night afterwards - the first night we were all four home together - he had a major meltdown when it came time for bed. I should have seen that coming, really; I also tend to do my freaking out after the emergency is over.

Now that Roland was home, Theron didn't shown much interest (positive or negative) in the baby - but he was quite touchy about who he was talking to (he'd complain if the "wrong" person responded to what he's saying), and he gave me a lot more outright refusals when I asked him to do things. Some of that was probably normal development, but I think the new arrival was exacerbating things. He's pretty adaptable, though, and he seems to be over that now.

And then we were eaten by May
The month of May brought with it the high point of my busy season, culminating in the local music festival which my employer puts on. This has kept me extremely busy. (I put in 32 hours of overtime during the festival - which is to say, it was sandwiched between two full work weeks.) The Beautiful Woman has been busy with the end of the semester - she was back to teaching shortly after the birth. This was made possible by the help of her sister, who drove into town for a week, and their mother (who lives nearby and makes our lives a very great deal more pleasant than they'd be without her).

Roland has continued to grow - visibly - but otherwise he isn't doing much. He eats, he sleeps, he poops, and sometimes he cries; that's about it. (I am cultivating a theory that this is largely true of adults, too, it's just that we break our crying into syllables... but that may be needlessly cynical on my part.) He has a strong preference for being held, but can sometimes be placed in the Nap Nanny or the swing. As I write this, at the end of May, he can hold his head up unaided. It won't be long until he can forage for bosoms in the wild, I imagine.

This time, we're doing a lot better with the "sleep when the baby sleeps" approach, with the result that we don't get worn out nearly as often as we did with Theron. We're also a lot less... "panicky", I guess is the best word. I don't wander into the baby's room every half hour to check that he's breathing.

It's still hard, but I know from experience that it could be a lot worse. At some point, it probably will be, but that's okay - we know it gets better. After those two horrible weeks, our current existence feels positively serene.

Theron rediscovers the pool


In the Pool
(Video)

So my parents have a pool in their back yard. Theron swam in it a lot last summer, or at least floated around in a swim ring. We didn't have a lot of luck getting him to kick his feet or otherwise move himself around.

This year, he jumped in and started doing all the things that we spent so much time and effort trying to get him to do last year. (I told my cousin that, and she said: "Yep. He's a lurker.  Our son was like that, too. He just hangs back, and hangs back... and then all of a sudden he jumps in and just starts doing things.") He's still in the swim ring, but he moves around the pool - sometimes to escape me, sometimes to catch me, and sometimes to knock things off my head. He climbs out, and jumps back in. He loves it.

I don't know if we'll manage to teach him to swim on his own, but he's definitely making progress.

Theron and Roland


Sleeping Roland
(Video)

Theron has settled into being a big brother. He's careful with Roland, and he's really gotten the idea that his younger brother is breakable. Of course, he insists that he wasn't breakable when he was a baby.

He has told me that he doesn't like Baby Roland, because he's crying - twice. In both cases, the baby actually was crying at the time, so I can't really blame him for that. I don't like listening to the baby cry, either.

And that's pretty much it
So that was the rest of April, and most of May. I'm thrilled to be putting this up before June, so I'm just going to add the images and videos and have done with it. The next few months are going to be kind of hard, but that comes with having a baby - and Roland is already shaping up to be an excellent Secondborn.


So when do I get my license?
(Photo)

Playing in the Fountain
(Photo)

He's small, but he's alert!
(Photo)

Classic Sleeping Baby Shot
(Photo)

Alseep at the Music Festival
(Photo)

New Baby Sleeps In Car Seat
(Photo)