Tuesday, May 3, 2011

hear ye, hear ye

She looks like a pirahna in the dark.

I have spoken to the point of extreme redundancy about The Baby's horrible sleep patterns. After my essay about her pacifier whose elusive tendencies seemed to wake her in the middle of the night, I discovered during a follow up visit to our pediatrician that the poor kid was still fighting off an ear infection and was in need of stronger antibiotics. Of course, sleeping would be uncomfortable for her. And, I regret that I ever thought to try to break her of her pacifier habit, her means of self -soothing. Aside from her night waking (which she has done all of her life), I never would have known about her ear. Maybe her new head posture- finger in her infected ear and head pressed against her shoulder was a missed clue? But, I was too exhausted to play detective and still too hopeful that time would resolve whatever kept her from restful sleep. However, I was beginning to worry that she was not speaking as much or as clearly as perhaps she should. She spoke dog, cat, and firetruck fluently, uncannily. An infected ear could have hampered the processing of human sounds- the formation of words. Having been late to diagnose First Born Son's Central Auditory Processing disorder, I am sensitive about early intervention and making sure to inundate her with verbal lessons- auditory reinforcements, to keep her from struggling in school. But, not to fear, in the midst of taking the course of new medication, she presented proof of language acquisition in the middle of the night.

At 4:00 one morning, she woke up with a cry of distress. I dragged myself into her room where I found her pressed against the crib bars with her blanket and her Binky Bunny (the lone Beanie Baby we found in the house- a rabbit holding a carrot- which also now holds a pacifier fastened with a silky ribbon). She looked like she had been there for a while, contemplating the darkness. I knew that she was not going to fall back to sleep easily; and, she probably wasn't feeling well.  I brought her into our bed where she perked up and began to jabber a monologue in the most inappropriately emphatic voice for 4:00 AM. And while she was babbling and gabbling, she was running back and forth between The Mr. and me on the bed. Then, suddenly, she began to punctuate the rambunctious song streaming from her mouth with crystal clear words.

"Badadeeboodadee." "NOSE!" And with that, she would lunge at my face with her sharp pointer finger, piercing my nostril and laughing in pleasure at my wincing.

"Yes, Baby nose. Now go to sleep."

"Badadeeboodadee." " EAR!" And, she stopped in her tracks sticking her finger in the infected ear and shaking her head.

"Yes, Baby, ear. Now go to sleep."

"Badadeeboodadee" "Hair!" Patting her smooth hair and then trying to run her fingers through my knotty curls, with a look of disdain.

"Yes, baby, hair. Now go to sleep."

At 4:00AM, the birds, clueless and inconsiderate, perched outside our window and began to call to one another. The Baby's eyes grew like saucers. She inhaled sharply with excitement and recognition- pointing in the direction of the bird call. Overjoyed to hear them, she began to bounce, "Dirbs! Dirbs!"

"Yes, Baby, damn birds. Now go to sleep."

I still had time- precious little minutes- to recapture some sleep. There was nothing more I could do for her in our bed. Clearly she was fine. She was just excited to practice her new skill. I placed her back in her bed and fell back into mine. But, she was pitching a fit- which grew into a storm of hysterical screaming. I returned to quiet her, as I did not want the other children to wake. When she saw me, the crying ceased and she inhaled that sharp, enthusiastic breath of recognition. "Dirbs! Dirbs!"

"Yes I know. There are birds outside."

But, my answer did not appease her. "Dirbs!" She was frustrated and now pointing to the light switch. I flipped on the overhead light.

She gave me a grin so wide and proud and pointed to the wall mural above her crib that I had painted with old house paint.  "Dirbs!"

"Yep. Them there are birds." And, just like that, satisfied with the effectiveness of her communication and with my comprehension, she went back to sleep. Just in time for my alarm to sound.

There may be more reasons why- besides an ear infection and needing to prove her language skills- that keep the The Baby awake. My mother's intuition has always nagged me- from the time she was three weeks old and gripped by colic- that something is just not right with her. There is something there- always present which makes her uncomfortable- which robs her of restful sleep. I took her for her 15 month old check up and met with one of my favorite pediatricians in our group. For whatever reason, we have not seen him for any of her visits. But, I am so grateful that he was with us on Saturday. For the first time, I got validation for my suspicions- for the ongoing feeding and digestive problems- for my innate and overwhelming concerns for her (which had been brushed off by the other doctors). My little jockey has dropped to the 3rd percentile for weight. She has dropped an whole pound in three weeks. She is not eating well and is uncomfortable after feedings. Finally, we are being sent for testing on Friday and Monday for food allergies and GERD- both would explain the chronic night waking, the painful cries, the chronic ear pain, the slow weight gain- the months of exhaustion. No mother wants their child to have something wrong with them; but, I can not help but wish on all of the stars that something (benign, manageable and treatable, of course) shows up during the testing- so that we can bring her comfort and so that we all can find peace. 


  1. Ahhhh. . . I hope it gets solved soon. Mother's intuition will drive you to drink. . . but it's usually right! Love the last photo with the bird mural! Good idea with the beanie baby. . . genius!

  2. First, Happy Mother's Day. A what a wonderful Mom you are. Positive thoughts that you will find an answer, and comfort for your little one. You certainly know what Mother's intuition means!

  3. I hope everything goes well with the testing. It must be frustrating not knowing what to do to help her

  4. Thank you sweet ladies for your kind words:-)
    We got the results of her tests today. Negative for any food allergies- which is really good. But, she does have mild reflux. Even more troubling, according to the pediatrician, is that she has delayed gastric emptying (gastroparesis)- so food stays in her stomach much longer than it should. It explains the discomfort, the lack of bowel movements as an infant (she was the incredibly seldom pooping baby. I should have pressed for answers back then but the doctors never seemed concern by the info I gave them), and it explains her weight loss as she is not absorbing the nutrients properly. The ped is sending us to a feeding clinic- apparently to watch how she eats. He said will will probably end up at a gastroenterologist eventually. So hopefully after we meet with the feeding clinic we will figure out how to make her more comfortable around mealtimes.