Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Allegrini Cousins

She Walks!

or make that - RUNS!

Yes, I know she's incredibly 'behind', or at least that's what everyone says. The reality is, according to just about every baby book I've read (and that's a lot), though the average is 12 months, the normal range is 7-18 months. That is, her doctors (and officially me) were not going to worry about her lack of walking until she was 18 months.

Well, on Christmas Eve, at 17 months and 21 days, she took off and we haven't been able to stop her since.

She started pulling up in October/November, by Thanksgiving (16.5 months) she was walking with help. It wasn't til Christmas Eve, probably because she wanted to chase around her cousins, that she really began to go for it on her own. Until recently she was still resorting to scooting if she really wanted to get somewhere fast, bt thanks to her babysitter who wouldn't let her scoot when she showed she could walk, now she just runs. She still wobbles a bit, but now at almost 19 months, she's a real walker!

Mommy can stop worry now.

And today she said "See you later!"

(I can't figure out how to change the orientation of films, sorry)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Silly Girl!

From these you can see Angelina's personality of late. She's full of laughs and tricks. She loves to play little games with you.

Fun with static electricity....

And a game that provided endless hours of entertainment: putting walnuts into the whiskey container. Spilling them out. Putting them back in again.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A scary time

This post is about Mommy, one Angelina still has, thankfully. Perhaps that's a bit melodramatic but I was sure scared. I decided to write this here as a warning, should anyone have similar symptoms, don't hesitate to be an advocate for yourself. Medical professionals aren't always right.

We returned to the US on New Year's Eve and I went to the ER on New Years Day following 3 weeks of bleeding and a couple of days of cramping. I had a positive pg test and though I figured I was miscarrying, I was concerned about an ectopic as this was a lot different than the last miscarriage. The nurse in the ER made me feel like an idiot for even going and said "It's not ectopic, it would hurt more. We don't have an OBGYN here so you have to follow up elsewhere anyway." Ok, I knew that but I was hoping maybe you could verify it wasn't ectopic as today's a holiday and the OB's office is closed. They did a sonogram. 5 hours later the nurse comes in and says "you're out of here." about explaining what's up? "Oh yeah, you have an HCG 165, so you were pregnant but no intrauterine pregnancy so you're miscarrying. Bye." Frederic left for London the next day.

I scheduled a follow up with my new OB the following week. On Thursday night (1/3) I had major cramping again. On Friday morning they said to go ahead and come in that day. The OB reviewed the report from the ER (but not the actual sonogram) and took the time to explain to me why he wasn't sure if it was ectopic but didn't rule it out. He did recommend a blood test  and said we'd do another sono if the HCG levels rose. I felt relieved after the explanation as it made sense, except I was still cramping.

Saturday I was in pain all day but by evening it was letting up. I thought the miscarriage was finally running its course. Then at midnight it hit me like a ton of bricks - massive, sharp, burning pain at one point, then spreading out. I have a very high pain tolerance but this had me doubled over. I couldn't stand, I couldn't lie down, all I could do was kneel hunched over. I was in tears. I finally called Frederic in England, just because I needed a sympathetic voice. By about 2:30am he convinced me to go to the ER. Problem was Angelina. So he contacted our friends Ann and Garth and they came over at 3am to take care of Angelina while I went to the ER.

After 2 hours I saw the triage nurse who said "They already did a sono, they're not going to see anything more. You can wait 5 more hours if you want though they won't find anything wrong." After another hour, no sleep in 24 hours, totally worn out and realizing I'll be there all day and they likely wouldn't even bother with another sonogram, and the pain was letting up, I decided to come home without being seen at all. Meanwhile Fredo had been debating flying back, I told him not to, as apparently 'nothing was wrong.'

Monday the OB called to say my HCG levels had risen, and I should come in for another blood test. I told them about the weekend cramping so they scheduled me for a sonogram on Thursday. The pain had remained dull and constant. On Wednesday I was feeling a bit dizzy. I took Angelina to her doctor's appt, then went into work about noon. I thought I was light headed because I hadn't had lunch. I'd also had a pain in my neck/shoulder since the night before. I knew those were both signs of ectopic pregnancy but had convinced myself it was all in my head. As the dizziness got worse,I debated calling the OB or waiting one more day til my scheduled appt.

Being a researcher, I had done my research. Many medical professionals hate when patients say "I read..." Well, I knew the symptoms and had read that ectopics occur in ~ 1 in 2000 pregnancies, and ~9-13% are fatal, most following a trip to the ER where the woman was diagnosed with a miscarriage. I really didn't want to be part of that 9-13%.

When one of my staff asked "Are you alright?" I realized I looked as bad as I felt, and called the OB who told me to come in right away. I called our neighbor to pick up Angelina from daycare, knowing I'd be late.

Sure enough, my BP was ~70/50. I run low anyway, but this was very low. They did a sonogram and it was glaringly obvious there was a mass in the tube. I was no longer in limbo and he set up a surgery for an hour later. No waiting. It was urgent. I called Frederic who was now in France, asked Angela to take Angelina overnight, and made a bunch of other calls while the OB walked me over to the hospital. Though friends offered to come over, there wasn't time, so I went into surgery alone. I was ok until they began prep, and I got massive pains again. The OB was calm, but I heard him tell the nurses to 'hurry up, it may be rupturing now.'

Luckily the tube didn't rupture, I made it thru surgery just fine, I've got a couple of weeks of recovery but all is well. Frederic made it back by Thursday evening, and I was discharged on Friday. I think my OB did everything right, but I am frustrated both with the ER staff and with myself for not fighting harder. I knew something was wrong, but I let myself fall prey to medical staff who just couldn't be bothered.

Moral of the story, if you've made it this far: listen to your body, listen to your gut instincts. Medical professionals aren't omniscient. Good ones recognize that and will work to help solve the problem (as my OB did), the few bad ones out there write you off. Either way, you have to be your own advocate.

On the positive side, Angelina had a blast staying with our neighbors. I don't think she missed me at all.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Food and Drink or Why I love the Swiss

This is just the apero for Christmas Eve dinner, the main course was still to come. Angelina loved the foie gras, like Mommy.

Fredo claims this is just his family, but from hearing around it sounds like fish at least is the standard Swiss Christmas Eve meal. It's "traditional" amongst the Allegrini clan to have "Fondue Chinoise" - yes, Chinese fondue. It's not as weird as it sounds. The Swiss love to cook at the table, or rather have the guests participate in making their food.
They have a big Asian soup tureen that's filled with boiling liquid (usually with vegetables and noodles). There there is a ton of wonderful fresh raw fish of all sorts. You put the fish into a little basket and let it sit in the boiling liquid to cook, then you eat it with an array of sauces (my favourite is the garlic) while the next basket cooks. Yummmm.

There's there's dessert. Of course that's followed by the cheese course and the chocolate course.

And did I mention the wine? One of the useful things about being in an old cottage in a cold country, interesting places to cool wine and beer:

Note, the above photos were taken at 3 different homes, but the idea was the same at each - lots of food and wine! We always return saying we need to give our livers a break (and since I didn't know I was pregnant at the time, I was indeed enjoying the wine).

The Sea of Fog

The entire first week we stayed in L'Abergement where Marcel (Fredo's father) lives, it was foggy and cold. Though the frost on the trees was beautiful, the fog at times was so thick you could barely see in front on you. Indeed one night while driving back from Orbe, Frédéric suddenly made a turn seemingly into nothingness, but really was the road into the village. I was just amazed he knew there was a road there!

Little did I know we only had to drive a few km up the mountain to see the sunshine!

When I remarked it was like looking out over a lake, he said "That's why it's called the 'sea of fog.'"

Angelina enjoyed her walk with Papa!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Père Noel

Angelina is not so sure about this Père Noel guy! Look at her eyeing him.... She's glad she's safe in Megane's arms.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Maybe it's something in the chocolate?

Or I'm a bad mommy.

At least, that's how I felt.

A couple of days after Christmas we went to MediaMarkt to find some French CDs (it's kind of like Best Buy, which I hate, but anyway...). Of course it's packed. Angelina was enjoying pulling all the cds off the shelves, so we split up - first Frédéric took her away while I looked (trying to find some kids' music in French for the car), then it was his turn to search. So Angelina and I were over in the TV section. Now, Angelina isn't into the TV much. It's useless as a babysitter (not that we've ever tried ;-)). Seeing all those screens, though, she was enthralled. She couldn't take her eyes off of them. But that wasn't enough, she had to TOUCH them, she had to run around as much as possible, try climbing up on the stands, you get the idea.

The place was full of kids +/- 6 months of Angelina's age. ALL of them sitting quietly in their parents arms, or sitting calmly on the floor watching the TVs with cartoons showing. Of course I felt all the other parents staring at me, and in my paranoia thinking they're thinking "Stupid American! Can't control her kid!" (of course maybe they were feeling sorry for me too) After the bazillionth "NO!" followed by the bazillionth time pulling her away, I took her outside (no matter it was -4C).

But how do they do it? I'm convinced there's something in the chocolate they give them. There's got to be. I don't think Angelina is a particularly active child, at least not anymore than most kids her age.... Or is it just me? How many times can you yell "NO!"?! The sling used to work to calm her down. Now it lasts about 2 seconds before she wants to get out and run around.

(Oddly enough, she actually is pretty good at responding to NO normally. Today she started opening cupboards that are off-limits. A simple "No. Close that door Now" worked - of course she kept opening it and would look at me and as soon as I said it she'd close it again.....)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

With Friends Like These....

We had a great New Year's Eve!

Since we live in view of the Tower of the Americas, where San Antonio's big NYE celebration and fireworks show is held, we usually have a party. This year we were arriving back from 20+ hours of travel on NYE and knew we'd be in no condition for a party. However we didn't want to leave our friends out, so we said to feel free to come and hang out in our backyard for the fireworks, we'd have no food or drink and may be asleep ourselves, but they were welcome. And they took us up on it.

As it turns out we arrived earlier than planned and promptly fell asleep. They all arrived but didn't even know we were there. They came prepared with food and drink for us, we woke up in time to see the fireworks and wish everyone a Happy New Year. Then promptly fell back to sleep ;-) It was fun to have a 'non-party' and not have to do anything!

(I'm cheating with the picture, it's not mine and it's from last year...but you get the idea.)

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