Back in November, our lives took a crazy turn that really leaves me wondering in retrospect how I made it through everything, but here I am. Now I can breathe and finally put this down on paper.
I wish I could pinpoint exactly when it started, but I unfortunately can only narrow it down to a span of a few days (but let's say the first day I'm sure of is the Wednesday a week before Thanksgiving). Tadpole, our sweet, smiley, happy, "easy" baby started being cranky. After a while (hours, days, who knows?) we noticed that she wasn't just cranky, she was really hysterical. She would calm down when I'd cradle her, and then fall asleep, but when she was awake she was inconsolable. We couldn't see anything obviously wrong, but after several days of this, we finally called the advice nurse. At this point it was the weekend, and the nurse thought it was worth a trip to the doctor during the week.
When Monday came, off to the doctor we went. He checked her out (although didn't undress her, which I thought was strange). He ruled out an ear infection, and chalked it up to either growing pains or teething. Then he sent us home.
On Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving, we noticed that Tadpole wasn't putting her left foot down when we'd hold her up and let her feet touch the ground. If we tried to lean her in that direction, she'd pull her foot up even higher. When she was in her "rainforest jumperoo", she'd only push with her right foot, and if we tried to put pressure on the bottom of her left foot, she'd pull it away. We thought it was strange, but didn't know what else to think of it.
By Thanksgiving morning, she was still favoring her left leg and we started wondering if there was something wrong, and if it could possibly be related to the inconsolable wailing. Another call to the advice nurse - she told us that it sounded like something could be going on, but it wasn't an emergency and we should wait until Friday to go to urgent care. So we waited, but all day we kept noticing her favoring her left leg. Since there was nothing visibly wrong, we started worrying that there might be some neurological problem, and I started to quietly freak out a bit.
Friday morning, we spent hours at urgent care seeing the doctor on call (not a pediatrician). He mentioned bone cancer and joint infections, and then sent us for hip x-rays - let me tell you, getting hip x-rays of a 4-month-old baby is really sad. The x-rays checked out ok, so he made a follow-up with the on-call pediatrician for Saturday. Friday evening, I remembered that a friend's step-dad was a pediatrician, so we went to their house get another opinion - he also thought Tadpole seemed ok.
Saturday morning, we went back to the hospital for our on-call appointment - the pediatrician also had no idea what could be wrong, but my husband asked if we could x-ray her whole leg. Over an hour later and after many trips back and forth down the hospital corridors with a semi-naked baby (due to major incompetence at the x-ray lab), we had our x-rays, and the pediatrician thought everything was fine and sent us home.
Two hours later, I received a call from the doctor's office - the x-rays had been read by the radiologist, who determined that Tadpole had a fracture in BOTH her tibia and fibula, just above her ankle. We had to come back in for a splint, but she assured us that it was already healing well, and Tadpole would have no trouble crawling or walking. After thoughts of cancer, neurological disorders, and bone infections, we were incredibly relieved to have found what seemed like a minor problem that was already healing. There was nothing wrong with our beautiful baby! Our hearts were light as we let everyone involved know the result, although we still had no idea at all how the fractures could have happened.
Monday morning, my pediatrician called me. It turns out, my friend's step-dad called him and urged him to report us to Child Protective Services! I cried for an hour before I was able to calm down enough to call my husband to tell him. The next day he called back to tell us he had made his decision and felt obligated to report us. I cried again. I cried myself to sleep for several days. I imagined the county coming to take our children away from us. No one could tell us what would happen, except that someone would contact us "very soon". It took a week for them to contact us, and I lived in constant fear and anxiety, wondering when the axe would fall and what would happen.
In the end, a social worker and police officer came to our house on a surprise visit and luckily they picked a good day. The house was relatively clean, the babies were dressed in their cute Christmas outfits, and Tadpole was in a happy smiley mood (although they pointed out the birthmark on her head and asked if it was an injury, sheesh). They talked to me for a while, and asked to see where the kids sleep, and said they didn't see any problems (whew). No one followed up with us before we left for Italy, so I'm still nervous about what will happen when we get back.
At that point in my path to motherhood, I had already been feeling a major lack of self-confidence, and nothing had gone the way I expected, starting from pre-eclampsia, the induction, the entire labor and delivery process, and my failure to continue breastfeeding. I knew I was lucky to have two beautiful babies, but it seemed that everything was spinning out of control, and the constant comments and "advice" from friends, family, and strangers really chipped away at my self-confidence. To have everything culminate in my sweet 4-month-old having a broken leg and us being reported to CPS - well, I'm not sure I've quite recovered from any of it.
After all this, the daily isolation and mental strain of having two little babies, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without a break is really starting to wear me down. I question myself and doubt everything I do. When I'm not with them, I miss them. When I'm with them, I feel anxious about how I'm going to get through the day. I sorely feel the lack of a support system, and I'm finding it harder and harder to get out of the house with two babies that are more active every day. I love them ... and that's why I've decided to start looking into getting some help and advice from a professional, as soon as we get home from Italy. I don't know if I have postpartum depression, but I have so much anxiety and depression that I think it's better to get things checked out.
So - we are in a much better place right now, but the events of the last few months still remain with me and I wanted to get it down. The next posts should be much better! Happy 2011, everyone!