We had a scary incident on Sunday morning. Emily woke up to me running into the room with a screaming toddler yelling, “There’s blood!”
Astrid was standing on the couch, playing with her new bike helmet, which unfortunately wasn’t on her head, when she slipped backwards and fell. Her head hit the corner of the wall awkwardly and with enough force to leave a crack in the wall.
She only cried for a few minutes and the bleeding wasn’t too bad, but it left a 2 cm gash on her head. If it had been anywhere else on her body, a bandage would have probably been enough but we took her into the hospital for stitches.
She was a real trooper. You could tell it was painful when they were washing out the wound and cleaning her up, but she gritted her teeth and never cried.
Luckily the hospital wasn’t too busy, because we were pretty low on the priority list. They froze the wound first to stop any bleeding. Then they used skin glue to close it up and braided some of her hair across the wound to act as extra stitches (very clever!).
After the hospital, Astrid was back running around and being her energetic self. She even went to a birthday party in the afternoon. But Sunday night she got a fever right before bed and was complaining about a headache. We gave her ibuprofen to help her sleep, but she was bad again at 4 am when it wore off.
We went back to the hospital because our discharge instructions told us to look out for a fever as a sign the wound had become infected. Apparently Monday at 6 am is the ideal time to go to the hospital. We didn’t have to wait for a room, a nurse, or a doctor. Turns out the fever was just an unrelated virus. Astrid was back in bed by 6:45 that morning and healthy again within 24 hours.
Spring has been good to our family. We’ve had beautiful weather in Vancouver, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, we planted our garden, Astrid’s asthma is under control, and we spent a beautiful Easter weekend in Kamloops.
And we got rid of all of our diapers! Back in November, Astrid started wearing underwear during the day and pullups at night, but now she’s officially done with diapers at night too (as of March 24th). She’s been consistently sleeping through the night dry with only one accident early on. It certainly makes parenting a lot easier not having to worry about diaper changes anymore.
Easter in Kamloops was a real family adventure, with my parents joining the grandkids for the fun. Unfortunately, a stomach bug also showed up. As we were driving to Kamloops we got word that my father was throwing up and had diarrhea. Having had Norovirus twice this year already, I should have turned the car around but we were committed. Two days after arriving, I found myself heaving into a toilet. Luckily, it wasn’t that bad and the kids were all spared.
As is always the case when Astrid gets to visit her cousins, they had a blast playing together. With Nora walking and talking, the ability gap between the 3 of them has really shrunk.
We went to the park, made pizza, played games, and had an easter egg hunt in the backyard. Jacob and Astrid were excellent egg finders this year – I’m going to have to make it a bit harder next year.
We did have an asthma / allergy scare while in Kamloops. On the second night, Astrid woke up at 9 p.m. gasping for breath and complaining her throat was hurting. It’s the first time I’ve seen her panic for air before. Even when her asthma has been really bad and her oxygen levels low, she’s always been in a good mood. It scared me.
We took Astrid outside for some fresh air and gave her Ventolin. She had calmed down after 15 minutes, but we still took her to the Royal Inland Hospital emergency department just to be sure. By the time we got to the hospital, she was fine and we were quickly sent home.
We’re not entirely sure what caused the incident, but it was probably allergen related – she was digging in wet hay for easter eggs, playing with cats, sleeping in a carpeted basement, and developing a cold. A real nasty mix for her lungs to handle.
After Easter, my parents came back to Vancouver with us and spent two days with Astrid enjoying Science World and making cookies.
It started suddenly without warning and has been a non-stop barrage since. On February 18, Astrid asked her first “Why?” question. I don’t remember what it was about but my response was promptly followed by a follow-up “Why?”. As many parents know, “Why?” is the perfect question because no matter how thorough the answer, you can always go deeper with another “Why?”.
I like encouraging her curiosity and answer as much as I can, but after the 5th why I usually have to respond with “Why do you think?”
February was an unusually snowy month in Vancouver, including a full-on Snow Day on February 12 when all the schools and daycares shut down. It was cool to see all the kids running around the neighbourhood and enjoying a rare blast of real Canadian winter.
Too bad Astrid hated it. The snow was too ‘crunchy’ and cold and she would only watch her friends tobogganing, complaining the whole time.
In January Astrid started on a new asthma medication, Advair, and it seems to be having a huge impact. We’ve now gone 45 days without any asthma symptoms, which is a new record. Astrid had one cold in early March and even though she was coughing she never got wheezy. It was nice just having a normal sick kid with a runny nose without worrying about when we would have to take her to the hospital.
Advair is definitely more expensive than the other medications we’ve tried (it works out to about a $1 per puff) because there is no generic version. However, after sending doctor approval to the province’s Fair Pharmacare program and our health insurance provider, we now have 80% of the costs covered.
Although we’ve avoided asthma problems, we haven’t been completely healthy. Stomach bugs (probably norovirus) ripped through our family in February. Astrid and I were sick twice, with vomiting and diarrhea. Grandma got it too. Emily got mild symptoms from the first bug and somehow avoided the second one. I was just glad we weren’t all sick at the same time so there was always one person with energy to look after the rest of the family.
On a more positive note, Astrid has avoided a tooth extraction, at least for now. After she knocked her tooth out last month, her root extraction was delayed because she got really sick. By the time she was healthy again the gums had healed over. We’re now hoping her body is able to take care of it on its own, but if it gets infected she will have to have surgery to remove it.
Astrid has turned into a very compassionate toddler. When I get home from work she always asks “how’s your day, Daddy?” and “what did you eat at New Hippopotamus?”. When Emily was sick, she started every morning by asking her “you feeling better?”. It might be more of a routine than genuine concern, but it’s still nice.
When Astrid was really sick in January we abandoned all our independent sleep practices and often slept in her room. After she was better we were still spending up to an hour in her room waiting for her to fall asleep. If we tried sneaking out early, she would just come find us a few minutes later. Now that she’s no longer sleeping in crib we had to find a new approach to sleep training.
Based on some ideas in this blog post, we decided to try confining her to her room by holding the door closed. A few minutes after we left the room, she tried to open the door. We held the door closed and asked her to go back to sleep. She tried every trick to delay bedtime. She asked for a snack, asked for another story, said she had to pee, asked for help with her blanket, and even took off her socks and asked us to put them back on. When that didn’t work she cried and got upset. Through the door, we encouraged her to sleep and sang to her. When she really got upset, we went in once to calm her down but otherwise stuck to the strategy.
It took 60 minutes the first night and 45 minutes the second, but after 4 nights she went to sleep on her own without trying to escape. Since then she’s resisted on a few occasions (especially after daylight savings time kicked in) and figured out some new tricks like pushing books under the door and turning the light on, but it’s been much better. Fingers crossed, but she hasn’t figured out she can watch youtube on the iPad we use as a white noise machine.
Mornings have also been better since we got the Gro-Clock. She always waits for the sun now (programmed for 7 am) before coming into our bedroom to wake us up.
After her sleeping improved we let her have a sleepover at Grandma’s house. She did pretty well, although she woke up at 6 am and crawled into Grandma’s bed.
Astrid loves painting and doing art. We’ve let her curate her own gallery.
New skills for Astrid include putting together puzzles, identifying around 10 letters, and counting to 13.
Is it summer yet? I’m not sure how much more of cold and flu season I can handle.
The new year started off well enough. We spent the first Saturday snowshoeing up on Mount Seymour. Astrid had fun playing in the snow, making snowbabies, and sliding on her bum. We had to run back when Astrid announced she had to pee (the new reality of being diaper free) and I couldn’t convince her to just pee in the snow. I was impressed she was able to hold it in with me bouncing her up and down the whole way.
Then she knocked a tooth out that night and it has been all downhill from there. She was drinking water from a bottle with a hard straw when she tripped. There was lots of blood and a few tears, and then she spit out a tooth. I was distraught but Astrid was back up running around like nothing had happened within no time. I kept worrying about the implications of losing a tooth that early (compounding all my personal anxieties about teeth). Yes, it’s just a baby tooth, but one that isn’t supposed to fall out for another 5 years!
We saw a pediatric dentist a few days later and he assured us that it would be ok – no speech impediments or tooth spacing issues, but there was a piece of the root left that needs to be extracted – Astrid’s first dental surgery.
The dental extraction hasn’t happened yet because Astrid has been dealing with colds and asthma. We ended up in the hospital with one of the worst asthma attacks Astrid has had in a while. It hit really fast before she had any cold symptoms and we couldn’t keep it under control at home.
Normally they give Astrid a big dose of dexamethasone at the hospital to reduce inflammation, but this time they gave us a half dose of dex and a 3 day prescription for prednisone to give her more time to recover. But the prednisone came in bitter pills that we couldn’t get Astrid to take no matter how we disguised them (crushing it in yogurt, frosted sugar, chocolate pudding, ice cream). After some desperate conversations with pharmacists at 3 different pharmacies, we managed to get ahold of an emergency doctor at BCCH who switched our prescription to prednisolone – same drug but in less bitter liquid form. It was still a bit gross on its own, but she guzzled it down when we masked it with a strong ginger beer, which she luckily loves drinking.
The next few days were not fun and we almost went back to the hospital on a few occasions but after sleepless nights for everyone and lots of drugs we got through that virus, although I ended up getting sick at the end of it and still haven’t fully recovered.
Astrid was mostly healthy for a few days before she picked up a new bug that lead to nasty cough and 4 days of periodic fevers, which were usually mild but one day she was feverish for over 12 hours and her temperature hit 39.9 C before we gave her ibuprofen. Luckily this latest virus hasn’t caused any serious asthma problems, which might mean her newest medication, Advair, is working better than the Flovent she was on before, although it’s probably too soon to tell.
Emily has managed to escape all of this mostly unscathed. Astrid is almost back to full health and we’ve rescheduled the dentist for 10 days from now if she can stay healthy.
I’ve gotten really good at pretending to be Doctor Daddy. I can now calculate Astrid’s asthma PRAM score on my own using the stethoscope we have and the oximetry sensor on my Samsung phone that measures oxygen saturation. If I can’t keep the PRAM score below 4 then it’s time to go to the hospital.
All of our health concerns have us contemplating more drastic lifestyle changes – like pulling Astrid out of daycare, getting a nanny, spending our winters in Mexico, or going full hermit in rural Manitoba with my parents. If I was more confident that any of them would prevent Astrid’s asthma attacks, I would do it now.
On the positive side, Astrid is now sleeping in a bed and is almost fully potty-trained. She still wears a pull-up at night, but wakes up dry most mornings. Moving out of the crib and into a bed was a bit of a transition. The first week worked miraculously well, but then she got sick and was waking up more at night and discovered she could just walk into our room whenever she woke up. But we bought a Gro Clock and she’s doing better about staying in bed until the “sun comes out”.
Bedtimes are still a bit of a struggle. When she got sick, one of us would often sleep next to her bed for comfort and now she wants that every night. Emily tried to go back to the ‘put down and walk out’ system when Astrid was healthy again, but that just lead to an epic sleep battle one night. Emily would put Astrid down to sleep and leave the room, and Astrid would lie down for 10 seconds before getting up to find her. They did this for 90 minutes! I eventually had to intervene and find a compromise where I sat in her room (but out of sight) until she fell asleep. That’s been our new normal for the past 2 weeks. We’ll have to slowly transition back to where we were before.
Astrid’s imagination has really blossomed in the past month. She likes to play make believe and pretend she’s cooking or shopping. She makes up new words to songs. She changes the diapers of her dolls and pretends to flush their poopies down the toilet. Yesterday she invented a bear family that had joined us for dinner and was shooing them away so they wouldn’t eat her pizza. It’s awesome.
The big news here is that Astrid is now diaper free, at least during the day. She’s been wearing underwear at home since October but we weren’t sure how to make the transition at daycare. She would never tell her teachers when she had to go and we didn’t want to burden them with a toddler peeing her pants several times a day.
Then suddenly on November 8, she said she wanted to wear underwear to daycare. It caught us by surprise, but we wanted to capitalize on her enthusiasm. So we sent her to daycare with 7 extra pairs of pants, socks, and underwear and pre-apologized to the teachers for the mess she was about to make. We were shocked when she came home in the same pair of pants.
Over the next few weeks she had a bunch of accidents and sometimes came home with 2 pairs of wet pants, socks, and even shoes. But she quickly got better at letting someone know when she had to pee, and it’s been a few weeks now since her last accident. We cancelled our cloth diaper service a few weeks ago and use disposable pull-ups at nighttime.
The next big achievement is Astrid had her first sleepover at Grandma’s. Again, we weren’t ready for it but our hand was forced when our only babysitter (Grandma) was under house arrest (backstory) and we had plans to celebrate Emily’s birthday. So we dropped Astrid off after dinner and prayed we didn’t get a phone call to come get her overnight.
We expected the worst – Astrid hadn’t napped that day and was a bit grouchy, she was still on Ventolin for asthma, and she had been waking up at night coughing and wheezing. But she had fun, slept through the night on the futon, and was brushing her teeth after eating a yummy breakfast when I came by the next morning to pick her up. If grandma is up for it, we hope to try it again in the new year.
Astrid’s health has been pretty good lately. A few minor colds and the accompanying asthma, but no hospital ER visits. We saw our respirologist and pediatrician, who told us to keep doing what we’re doing. They were impressed with the data and charts I’ve been collecting. The goal is to see less hospital visits and drugs this winter.
Astrid loves singing. Her favourite songs right now are Puff the Magic Dragon and Frosty the Snowman.
She also likes helping cook and bake, especially pancakes on Saturday mornings and popcorn at night (the perfect snack for a blanket fort).
Astrid’s newest obsession is clothing with pockets. She loves having pants, jackets, and shirts with pockets on them.
We had to cancel Astrid’s 2nd birthday party when she picked up hand, foot, and mouth disease. The symptoms haven’t been that bad, but she’s contagious right now and we didn’t want to infect all the party guests. She had a fever one night, then two days of low energy and not much appetite, and then the sores started appearing (mostly on her bum and feet). I haven’t seen any sores in her mouth, but there must be some small ones because she complains about acidic foods and cries sometimes while eating. Luckily, she’s still eating and drinking and her energy levels have bounced back in the past two days. The hardest part is now finding ways for her to burn energy while avoiding other kids.
On her birthday, we had a special breakfast with muffins and candles, I took her out of quarantine to check out the train engine at the Roundhouse (I hope I didn’t infect any other kids), and we had a yummy lunch at Meet in Yaletown with some of Astrid’s favourite foods – french fries, guacamole, and mac & cheese.
Our little girl is definitely growing up. She’s moving out of the infant room and into the toddler room at daycare (although the hand, foot, and mouth interrupted the transition). And she’s started potty training at home. We’ve had a potty since she was little, and had some early success placing her on the potty first thing in the morning. But ever since she started walking she’s refused to sit on the potty. That changed this month.
Now she often refuses to wear a diaper at home (we bought her some big kid underwear) and she’s started talking more about the potty and going pee pee. I can often get her to pee in the potty first thing in the morning if I get her out of the crib before she’s been awake for too long. We’ve had a few glorious triumphs where she’s realized she’s needed to pee and made it to the potty on time, once or twice all by herself. Misses are still more common and we’ve had to clean up a lot of puddles (thankfully we don’t have much carpet), but things are moving in the right direction.
We bought a little balance bike for her. She hasn’t mastered it yet, but we’ve had a few fun days riding around on it. If we can get her to ride for more than 5 minutes, it’s a triumph. Often she rides for a few minutes and then I end up carrying the bike while she runs about.
We cleaned off our patio and made a little outdoor area for Astrid. She loves playing out there, tearing up the flooring, and watching the dogs and bikes go by.
A yummy breakfast on Father’s Day.
The upside of Astrid being sick – she gets to eat lots of vegan ice cream and homemade popsicles.
Sometimes Astrid lets mommy sleep in on the weekends, but not always.
After a year away, we’re happy the Holdings are back in Astrid’s life.
We’ve been avoiding cutting Astrid’s hair for a while now. Partly because she has such beautiful curly hair and it seemed a shame to cut it; and partly because we couldn’t fathom her still long enough for someone to maneuver scissors next to her head. Well, we finally did it and it really wasn’t that big of a deal. The hairdresser at Hairloft (in the Granville Island Kids Market) was a pro at moving with Astrid’s darting head and their were plenty of distractions in the room to keep her mostly looking forward. Her hair still looks lovely and curly, and now it is much easier to comb and doesn’t tangle as much.
So we ended up back in the hospital in May, but luckily not in the emergency ward. We went to BC Children’s for a Cystic Fibrosis sweat test. Astrid had a genetic screen for Cystic Fibrosis when she was born but with all of the breathing problems we’ve had since last winter, our doctor wanted to rule it out with a more accurate sweat test. Astrid was a champ as she calmly sat (staring at the tv) while they ran electric currents through her arm to activate the sweat glands and then covered her arm in multiple layers of plastic wrap and even a diaper. Then I had to convince her to wear all of her warm clothing and run around in the sun to get her as sweaty as possible. I didn’t do a great job but they got just enough sweat to run the test. The end result is she concussively doesn’t have Cystic Fibrosis. So that’s good news.
She did pick up a bug at daycare that gave her 5 days of diarrhea. It probably rotovirus or norovirus. 7 kids in her daycare either had vomiting or diarrhea at the end of May. It even got me and I spent an awful night emptying my guts.
Once she was better, she had to stay home for 24 hours to make sure she wasn’t contagious, so we got to hang out and do some pair programming together.
Astrid has really started to push her boundaries as she approaches the so-called “terrible twos”. We’ve had a few more tantrums and it can now take 30 minutes to leave the house in the morning as she refuses to wear a diaper, pants, socks, or shoes. We’ve been trying to give her choices (“which pants do you want to wear?”), which helps but she also likes to scream “no pants!” and run away.
Over the past few weeks, she’s started to learn what the boundaries are and we’ve been conscious about being consistent in enforcing them. She also keeps us in check by ensuring we’re applying the rules consistently to ourselves. Which means that if Astrid needs to wear a hat, then so do we. If she has to wear socks and shoes to daycare, we’re not allowed to leave the house in sandals. Seems fair.
During the summer months, I really appreciate how lucky we are to live where we do. We have a beautiful rooftop garden and tons of neighbours with kids. It’s awesome letting the kids run around and play together, while the adults hang out together.