Saturday, February 21, 2009

Some recent pictures

Frances with her Grandpa Gary, blowing bubbles
and with her Grandma Sue
me taking a self portrait
Frances with her mother
She's up and around and walking like a pro
and playing with her toys at Aunt Mae's
I love this picture
And look at her, walking around like a pro
Daddy thinks this is the best picture he's taken in a while
And here she is, reading with her Aunt Mae

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I went and bought a new digital camera earlier this week, and snapped these pictures of Frances sitting on my lap--this was a few hours after the breathing treatments started working, and she was just up from a nap:

 This past Thursday night was very hard. Frances came home from daycare with a slight wheeze. We had noticed it happening before--but it always went away within a few minutes. Frances has been teething with a vengeance, so her nose was running constantly and she was we dismissed the wheezing as a product of the congestion from teething.
As the night progressed, things got bad. Things got scary. Frances began struggling to breathe. None of us slept much all night---we kept her in bed between us, and she woke up frequently. Her breaths were loud and raspy. On Friday morning, I called the doctor's office the minute they opened, and they were able to see us at 9. By that time, Frances was exhausted, and every muscle in her body was struggling to breathe. It was scary for me--my mother died of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis--which she had assumed was a resurgence of her childhood asthma, and for years, treated it with over the counter inhalers. She died just three months after being diagnosed, when she'd had the disease for four years. Seeing Frances' lungs acting up like that put me in a place I didn't want to be. 
The doctor said Frances was in the "red" zone in terms of struggling for breath--which means she couldn't walk or talk or do anything other than focus on breathing and coughing. Right in the office, they gave her a breathing treatment with a nebulizer, and a dose of an oral sterroid. They sent us home with a nebulizer and mask, and prescriptions for a fast-acting inhaled sterroid, a slow-acting inhaled sterroid, an oral sterroid, and a nasty, expensive, hard-to-find antibiotic. What they think happened is that the ear infection Frances had/has was not fixed by the amoxicillin, and that it caused a secondary infection in her lungs, which caused "Reactive Pulmonary Disease." At this stage of the game, they are not diagnosing her with asthma, though she is on some heavy asthma meds. We give her nebulizer treatments every 4-6 hours, in addition to inhaled and oral sterroids and the antibiotic. And her breathing is better. Her sleeping is much better, and today, her appetite came back. We were in Costco getting diapers and formula, and Suzanne took a pierogi sample and Frances seemed very interested in it, and ate it quite willingly. She did the same with some sort of Chicken Ravioli. Frances wasn't at all interested in the chocolate cake, but she has been eating much better, and is acting like her old self. 
The nebulizer treatments aren't easy. Frances freaks out. She doesn't understand why she has to wear the mask and inhale the vapors and why her mother and I have to hold her down. She screams bloody murder, and kicks and struggles and has fits. By the end of the treatments, she is exhausted and sweaty. She is strong as an ox. But we do it because they are helping her breathing. 
Seeing the nebulizer was very upsetting for me. The mask and the tubing looked to me like the apparatus of death--My mother and I didn't get along all that well, and while I had heard from different people that she was very ill, all she would admit to me was that she was having a bit of trouble breathing, and that she occaisonally had to use oxygen. When she died, quite suddenly from my perspective, Suzanne and I arrived in her apartment and found it full of breathing apparatus, including that same clear tubing. The thought of using that sort of equipment on Frances, who is so small and young--it was traumatic. My mind started going in places it didn't need to. Its a fortunate thing that Suzanne has, for the last ten years, worked for the Pediatric Pulmonary Specialists at the Children's Hospital, so she has a better perspective and has easy access to the best Pediatric Pulmonologists on this side of the state, because she works for them. Its an odd thing, but it never occured to us to actually call any of the doctors Suzanne works for during that night--we still thought it had to be related to teething, and that once Frances went to sleep, it would go away. We know better now.  
Frances does not necessarily have asthma--right now, they are writing this off as a nasty middle ear infection that didn't respond fully to amoxicillin (I pointed out that the fever went away within 24 hours of starting the amoxicillin, but apparently that doesn't mean anything...and Frances was pulling at her ears, but again, that can be attributed to teething, which she is actively doing) and then caused a secondary infection of the lungs. In a month, they will reevaluate, and it is very possible we will be able to take that dratted nebulizer machine and donate it to some charity. 
While the whole experience has been a bit overwhelming, I am tremendously grateful that Frances is responding well to the treatments. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

This and that...

This weekend has been interesting in its ups and downs. Frances got sent home from daycare with a 101.4 temp on Thursday, and was feverish all day Friday (when she wasn't on Motrin and acting as if she was on top of the world) and today we finally broke down and brought her in to the doctor. We weren't going to--from what I hear these days, doctors don't give out antibiotics anymore, there is some new push to not use antibiotics, and to let the crud just run its course. A friend was telling me her son was home sick for 11 days before the doc would give him anything, so we were resolved to tough out whatever she had, and figured why on Earth would we want to pay a doctor to tell us to tough it out? Anyway, Suzanne became concerned that Frances had an ear infection when she was walking like a drunk, so we called and got her in, and were utterly surprised when the doc gave her a scrip for antibiotics. We have a sturdy little stoic--we had no idea she was as sick as she was...and when she has Motrin, she acts perfectly fine--you wouldn't know she was sick. I had no idea she was sick when I brought her to daycare on Thursday, and she had a fever of 101.4. It never occurred to me, to check her temp.
Anyway, today has been a wonderful day in terms of weather--it was above freezing. I think it got into the low forties. They call that a warm-up! It was wonderful. We were down at the cottage this afternoon, and we decided to put Frances in her hoodie and in a windbreaker, and walked her around the block in her stroller. We hadn't done that since the say after Suzanne and Frances came back from China. I remember taking a jetlagged wife and a groggy baby out, and it was November 15, which is the opening day of deer hunting season, and hearing the rifles going off in the distance as we walked around England Point.
Luckily, I found the second roll of film I shot during Frances' birthday weekend, so I am going to post a few more pictures...
Look who's walking like a pro!

Look at how nicely her hair is coming in...
Here are two more pictures of Frances with her grandparents, at the botannical gardens.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This is why I still shoot film

I still shoot pictures on film, because I think the digital cameras I have access to don't capture the color, mood and detail of regular film. Look at these pictures and see what I mean.
With my digital camera, it always takes the picture a second after I hit the button, and with a baby, often the whole expression changes in that split second.

There is a depth of field present in pictures shot on film that I could only capture with a digital SLR, which is out of my price range right now.
The tone and shadowing of this picture would have been completely different if taken with a digital camera, which would likely have drastically altered the mood of the picture.
And no, I'm not going bald, though it sure looks like I am in this picture. It was just a bad hair day, really, it was...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Birthdays and Busted Lips

Today is Frances' first birthday. Its also a very busy day for her parents, so we spent the weekend celebrating. Her grandparents from Virginia came up for a weekend visit, and she got to see her Nai-Nai (grandmother) Wilda for the first time since they came back from China. It was a good visit. On Friday we went to the CCCGR's Chinese New Year party at a restaurant, and were able to watch performances and dancing by children from the "Chinese Village" school. There were many Chinese adoptees at the party, and it was great fun.
We had a small party for Frances at the cottage on Saturday. Here are pictures of Frances' first encounter with birthday cake. Truth be told, she didn't much care for it. The cake was a family endeavour--Nai Nai baked and frosted it, her Grandfather stirred (I didn't realize we didn't have a mixer down at the cottage) the concoction, Daddy wrote "Happy Birthday Frances" with the food coloring pens, and Mom put the sprinkles on it. Daddy doesn't do sugar and flour, so he didn't eat the cake, but the assembled company attested to the cake's adequacy.

Blogger seems to upload these pictures in reverse order... oh well. I don't have the time to go back and re-0rder them chronologically.
Anyway... the weekend went pretty well, though there was an unfortunate accident. Frances is becoming quite good at walking, though she walks a bit like Frankenstein. The problem came when she fell during one of her walking endeavours, and in her descent, her mouth hit the leg of the dining room table, and her little teeth busted open her lower lip, so she had a bloody lip... which was a mini-calamity. She wanted to be held, but she didn't care for a cold wet washcloth being pushed against her sore mouth, so she voiced some significant indignation. Twenty minutes after the fall, the situation had de-escalated to the level of a mere fat lip. This morning it was barely noticeable (which is a good thing--F's daycare has a photographer coming to take pictures of the kids, and since its her birthday, we figured we would dress F in one of her Chinese silks and make the most of the usually awful getcha gimmick studio portraits.) I felt awful at the time, but feel slightly ammused at Frances' fat lip now. You see, on Thursday I was changing her diaper, and our precious baby kicked her daddy in the face (squeaky shoes can hurt) and gave me a bloody fat lip. There's nothing dainty about those little legs of hers... no sir. And at least, as she gets these bumps and bruises from running into things, she's learning about limits and edges and how the world works.