How can a beautiful weekend that started with a fun birthday party end with another trip to the hospital!? I’m starting to wonder if Astrid is terribly unlucky or we’re just doing something wrong.
The July 6th weekend started with Astrid’s third 3rd birthday party (that’s not a typo, she really had 3 parties spread over 8 days). The Hirtles and Holdings joined us for a morning splashing in Hillcrest Pool, pizza lunch at Rocky Mountain Flatbread, and ice cream at Yum’s Sweet Shop. Then we ended the weekend with a trip to the hospital (well several trips in fact).
Yes, Astrid’s adventures with the medical system continue at a rapid pace. She’s barely 3 years old and has had repeated trips to emergency for asthma, stitches for a head injury, knocked out a tooth, and now a cast for a fracture on her elbow. Hopefully, we’ll be able to laugh about this in a few years, but right now it’s exhausting.
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.
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.
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.
January was a rough month. Astrid got the flu, had a high fever twice, saw numerous doctors, got a black eye when she fell in the tub, and spent far too much time at the hospital.
We ended up in the emergency room at BC Children’s again on January 10th. It was our second visit for Astrid’s wheezing. The good news was that she responded really well to the puffers and we learned a lot from the doctors. The bad news was that she officially has asthma. We were out of the hospital in 5 hours with a referral to see a paediatrician who specializes in asthma.
A week later, the doctor reassured us that most young children with asthma grow out of it. She prescribed a new puffer, a corticosteroid called Alvesco, that’s supposed to reduce the inflammation in her lungs and prevent future trips to the hospital. And we were told to come back in April when cold season is over. Unfortunately we ended up back at emergency on January 26th. This time we stayed overnight. We’re pretty used to the drill by now (The Asthma Protocol); the nurses just hook her up the monitor, hand us the puffers, and leave. Hopefully the Alvesco just didn’t have long enough to kick in (it’s supposed to be slow-acting). As good as the treatment is at BC Children’s Hospital, we don’t want to be back anytime soon.
In between hospital visits we had two great weekends with Baba. She and Astrid had a lot of fun together. You can read her blog post about the visit and her time in Kamloops.
While Baba was here we thought it would be nice to go for a snowshoe in the mountains. We planned to do Bowen Island Lookout Trail on Cypress Mountain. On the drive up we kept on waiting for the rain to turn into snow. But all we got at the top was a frigid wet sleet coming down at a diagonal. Not the best conditions for a frolic in the woods with a toddler and two grandmas. Luckily it was dry and periodically sunny at Lighthouse Park so we still got a little hike and picnic lunch.
Astrid continues to learn new skills, expand her communication, and charm the pants off everyone she meets. She knows her body parts (toes, head, nose, ears) and a couple of animal sounds. She’s really into putting things where they belong – helping us put away our shoes, cleaning up blocks, disposing of trash in the garbage can. One of her favourite games is to see how many of her sweaters and jackets she can wear at once. She just keeps on bringing you new layers to put on her. Once she can’t move anymore she starts bringing your jackets.
It’s been a crazy past few days. We were supposed to fly to Cancun Sunday morning, but a trip to Emergency ward at BC Children’s Hospital changed those plans.
It all started with a cold in late November that turned into a little cough. We didn’t think much of it until Wednesday last week when she started having fevers at night and coughing a lot.
We saw our GP on Friday and he said it was Croup and prescribed dexamethasone. He said it should get better within 4 hours.
That night there was no improvement, so I took her to a nearby walk-in clinic Saturday morning. The doc immediately sent us to Emergency at BC Children’s Hospital. It was a stressful bike ride hauling ass up the hill to BC Children’s with a sick child in the trailer.
We had underestimated how serious Astrid’s condition was. She was definitely wheezy, but she was in a good mood and playful – how bad could it be? When we arrived at BC Children’s, we were placed at the top of the triage list and got to see the next doctor, which should have been an indication how serious it was. And yet, I still clung to this hope that we would be discharged soon and be able to catch our flight to Mexico the next day.
Astrid’s lungs were really constrained and she was having trouble breathing. They pumped her full of steroids (Atrovent to start and Ventolin every hour after) and immediately you could see the difference. She hated using the puffer mask, but it was making it easier for her to breath. In the first few hours at the hospital, her heart rate was between 130-200 bpm. Her body was working really hard to pump the limited oxygen around. After a few hours of treatment it was between 85 and 150.
At 4:30 pm Astrid was moved out of Emergency into the Critical Decision Unit (CDU) for monitoring. Emily stayed with her, while I went home to finish packing. At 9:00 pm, they did a chest x-ray to see if she had pneumonia but the only thing they found was a small section of collapsed lung (which is apparently common when you have trouble breathing for so long). They almost released us at 11:00 pm. Astrid had gone four hours between Ventolin puffs without much problems, except when she was sleeping her SpO2 (oxygen concentration in the blood) would periodically drop below 90% causing alarm bells to go off. It went as low as 87% and the doctor said she had to stay the night, sleeping with the help of extra oxygen tubes in her nose.
After nearly 24 hours of excellent treatment (I really can’t say enough good things about the nurses and doctors at BC Children’s), Astrid was discharged at 7:35 am. The final diagnosis was Reactive Airways Disease (a vague and unhelpful catchall for all breathing problems). We had to do more Ventolin at home every 4 hours for the next 3 days and monitor her condition.
We missed our flight to Cancun, but we’re just happy Astrid is feeling better. We were all packed and ready to head straight from the hospital to the airport, but the doctors told us to take a few days to rest and see how Astrid is doing. The grandparents flew to Mexico without us and hopefully we will join them in a few days.
I feel horrible for not doing something sooner. It’s tough because we had been at the hospital a few weeks earlier for something that turned out to be nothing. We didn’t want to be the overreacting first-time parents yet again. And Astrid was in such a good mood even when she was sick, it was hard to think she was in need of emergency attention. Now we know to look for trouble breathing and wheezing.
Astrid is now in her 3rd daycare in less than a year. She’s now spending her days at the Creekside Child Development Centre. It’s our dream daycare, so hopefully she’ll be there until she starts school in 4 years. It’s a fabulously run group daycare (think Club Med for little kids) conveniently located across the street from where we live. Like most well run daycares in Vancouver, they have a really long waiting list. We added Astrid to the list before she was even born. Since most new spots go to siblings of existing kids, we’re lucky we got in.
It’s an awesome facility and the teachers are excellent. It’s well structured but also flexible to the kids’ needs. They have a schedule that includes walks outside, circle time, meals and snacks. They are much more rigid about food and regulations than our previous daycares – we’ve gotten lots of feedback on the food we pack for Astrid – grapes have to be quartered, not just halved, no dried fruit, and sunbutter sandwiches must be clearly labelled so there’s no worry about nuts. The check-in procedure every morning includes hand washing, shoe changing, sign-in sheets, and food and diapers placed into very clearly labelled bins. We’ve been pleasantly surprised that they have no problem using cloth diapers and feeding Astrid the vegan food we provide.
For the first two weeks there were tears during drop-off and pick-up, but otherwise she transitioned very smoothly with no problems napping, eating, or playing with the other kids.
New daycare means new germs. Astrid has been sick with colds for the past 2 weeks. Her cold has moved to her chest and she often has a rasping cough at night that sometimes keeps her up. Luckily no fever. We’ve been treating her cold with steamy baths, a humidifier while she sleeps, warm water with honey, and herbal cough medicine before bed. Hopefully she gets better soon because we’re flying to Mexico in 2 weeks.
A few weeks ago, Astrid ended up in the hospital. She was playing at the dining room table and dancing on a chair like she often does. They’re heavy chairs, but she managed to rock it far enough that it tipped over. She was crying for a while and couldn’t put any weight on her right foot. After talking to the nurses hotline, we took her to the children’s hospital. By the time we went through triage, Astrid was already in a better mood and was limping around the waiting area and exploring. When a nurse came by to check her out, she said her foot seemed fine and they wouldn’t do an x-ray but we could wait another 2-3 hours if we wanted to see a doctor. We figured sleep would be more helpful, so we went home. She had a slight limp that lasted for a week and we ended up taking her to our family doctor, but he quickly dismissed us letting us know that if anything was wrong she wouldn’t be putting any weight on the foot. Classic first child over-reaction on our part.
Last Saturday, I was curious if Astrid was getting enough nutrients. She’s always been slightly above average for weight and height and she’s never shown any sign of a nutritional deficiency, but I thought it would be interesting to track all of the food she ate and compare it to the recommended diet. If I was more concerned, I would have tracked it for a full week and averaged it, but tracking a single day was enough work. In one day there were 24 foods to track and calculate nutritional information for. Here’s a summary of my big spreadsheet:
Actual (Nov 25)
35-40% of calories
41% (66 g)
50-55% of calories
48% (157 g)
10-15% of calories
11% (44 g)
The calcium value was little low, but otherwise her diet was pretty good, and completely vegan. What she eats varies from day to day, but she consistently has breast milk twice a day and 250 ml of smoothie. The smoothie is perfect for cramming in nutrients. I like to add kale, Vega One protein powder, omega oils, and hemp seeds to ensure she’s getting lots of healthy fat, protein, and vitamins. Peanut butter and sunbutter are the other nutrient dense foods she often eats.
Astrid has now learned the concept of ownership and has become very forceful about enforcing it. In the morning, she loves to bring Emily and I our shoes, jackets, and cellphones. It’s cute and almost helpful. But she gets very upset if anyone other than the owner tries to take something. I think this is the start of her “that’s mine” phase.