I don't have all that much to report, nothing exceptionally funny or cute or tragic in the last week and a half. It's sort of a strange feeling. But I thought someone out there might be wondering what's up with us, so here goes.
I've been busy. The first-trimester pregnancy nausea has finally almost disappeared, and the fatigue lets up for a break here and there. During those moments of renewed energy I've been attempting to tackle all the projects that have been put on hold for the last six weeks: cleaning, shopping, cooking real meals, and the monumental task of packing up the kids' winter clothes and unpacking their summer clothes. Next up on my list: unpacking my maternity clothes. I've put that one off for awhile since most of my maternity wardrobe was out-of-date when it was handed down to me over seven years ago. But my OB told me today that I was measuring 16 weeks along even though I'm only 12 (which I assured him was normal for me), so there's no fighting the elastic waist-band at this point.
Wardrobe changes have also been on Toby's mind lately. He has quite a developed sense of fashion. Along with his staple truck shoes, he has now added a Lightning McQueen baseball hat, which must be worn on his head, backwards, at all times. Often he accentuates his outfit with a pair of red mittens which his great-grandmother knitted him for Christmas. "Got my HAT, and my TRUCK SHOES, and my MITTENS!" he will announce proudly. Upon waking in the morning, if any of these items has gone missing overnight, he will frantically wail, "Need my HAT! Where's my HAT go?!" until I stumble out of bed and return the missing item.
Last Thursday I took Naomi to see the rheumatologist which we'd waited two months to see, and it was really an utter disappointment. He didn't see signs of joint damage and she wasn't in any pain at the moment, in fact she hadn't had much joint pain in several weeks, so about the best he could do was to tell me to call the next time she was very stiff and sore to see if they could run any blood work at that time. However, this seeming brick-wall of unhelpfulness set me re-thinking Naomi's joint pain. If it isn't arthritis, what the heck is it? Because I know it is real.
Coinciding with this re-thinking was Naomi's seventh birthday party the very next day, and once again she had horrible joint pain that evening. That makes four out of four birthday parties in the last three months that have coincided with severe joint pain for Naomi. This coincidence was even more striking since she hadn't had any joint pain for several weeks. So I thought through the birthday party diet once more: gf cake, soy ice cream, Sprite. I knew it wasn't the Sprite, since she'd had that a few other times recently with no pain, and this party Naomi didn't like the new flavor of soy ice cream and ate only a taste of it. Then it struck me: the icing on the cake is always loaded with dyes. I had begun to notice a connection between Naomi eating dyes and bizarre behaviors, and so I had recently cut back on them, but this was the first time that I made the connection between dyes and her joint pain and headaches.
Thinking back, I realized that Naomi's most horrible joint-pain episode happened on March 7th, the day after Hannah's 5th birthday party. I had made a mistake on that cake too. Instead of buying frosting in a writable tube, I had accidentally purchased gel dyes in identical tubes. When I put the flowers on Hannah's cake I wondered why the "neon pink" tube looked more black on the cake, until Naomi bit into a black flower and her entire mouth turned neon pink...and fingers, and face, and everything else she touched. She must have consumed an enormous amount of red food dye that evening, and I am nearly convinced that she suffered for days from that mistake. Around that time, in an attempt to encourage Naomi to drink more rice milk I had conceded to adding Strawberry Nesquick to one glass each afternoon. This would easily explain why her joint pain and headaches seemed to come nearly every evening. I had cut out the Strawberry Nesquick a few weeks ago, realizing it was affecting behavior in the evening, and that was the same time the joint pain and headaches seemed to ease.
Naomi has consumed zero food dyes in the last week and she has been pain free. The evidence, in my mind, is overwhelming, but I know that I can be eternally optimistic, and I have been wrong multiple times before. Time shall tell, but I can hope.
Dear Little Emma had a second ear-tube surgery this past Monday morning, and her uncanny calmness that morning has begun to worry me. She sat listlessly in the bed, seeming not to notice the nurses taking her blood pressure or temperature. She stared blankly at the cartoons on TV while we waited, but didn't really watch them. When the nurse told me she was about to give Emma some Versed to help her stay calm when they took her from me, I assured the nurse that wouldn't be necessary. Later, seeing the blank expression on her face during the pre-op consult, the doctor thought she had had her Versed already. "Nope," I said cheerily, "she's just always a laid-back kid." But I was beginning to wonder why she seemed to be permanently drugged.
Emma didn't make a peep as they wheeled her away from me, nor as she woke in the recovery room. All around me I could hear children screaming, but Emma sat sweetly and quietly in her bed as the nurse wheeled her into the room to see me. "She has just been a star!" the nurse raved, "If all our kids were this good my job would be a whole lot easier!"
"Yeah, she's my sweetheart," I agreed. Emma did smile at me then and reach for a hug, a small sign of life. Her minor lingering cough from a week-old cold suddenly worsened after anesthesia and her oxygen dropped and hung around 90 percent for a good hour. An albuterol nebulizer treatment had no effect. Finally, Emma announced that she was hungry, and the nurse tentatively gave her a chocolate muffin. "I know her oxygen's going to drop even more when she eats," the nurse warned. But food seemed to have the exact opposite effect. Emma immediately came to life, and devoured the muffin. She must have started breathing deeper too, because the oxygen level finally climbed to around 95 percent, and we were discharged. She has always liked her food. As we were leaving I asked her if her ears felt better, and she thought a moment, then smiled, "Yeah."
And what can I say for Hannah? She's a ham of a five year old, and still supplies a good portion of my daily laughs. Maybe now that things have settled a little I can take the time to write down more Hannah-isms.
Even as I heard baby number 5's heart beat today, I wonder what he or she will bring to this family. Each of my children are so unique, I always have a hard time imagining what another one will be like. It's pointless, because I would always be wrong anyway. Who could have imagined Naomi, Hannah, Emma, and Toby? Only God.