Remember I was fretting about getting Mini Minx the MMR vaccine?  And how for a while it seemed like she was fated to not have it, and have to face instead the growing and spreading measles outbreak?  Well, the Friday before last she finally got it (oh my stars, has it really been that long since I blogged last?  I really have been busy knitting up stock for Rainbow Knits…)

Luckily Mini’s cold had finally gone only the day before, and she was fighting fit.  We arrived at the appointed time, and this time the nurse sister gave Mini a thorough physical.  I discovered that she’s on the 91st centile for height, 30-somethingth centile for weight (tall and slim like her Daddy) and that her little fingers don’t fit the pulse machines.  She finally got her injection and squealed the place down for a bit.  The look of proper hatred she gave the kind nurse was something to behold.  In fact, Mini whimpered the rest of the afternoon whenever she saw her.

I settled down for a few hours of fun with my littlest daughter – we had a little play, then I gave her a breast-feed, she zonked out (predictably) and I put her in the cot we were allocated for a few hours.  However, her temperature spiked a bit.  I assumed it was from cuddling up to me while she had a feed.  Then the nurse asked me about Mini’s pink cheeks.  “Oh she’s just like that – she shows a flush really easily”.  And her breathing – was she always so noisy?  “Um, yes, she’s a proper snuffle-bum”.  By then, though, I was beginning to doubt myself, and my daughter’s health.  The staff decided to keep Mini in for the entire 4 hours.  They were extremely apologetic, as if they expected me to kick off, but how could I get cross about them paying such close attention to my baby?  I watched Mini getting her obs taken without even stirring and recognised that she’d be asleep now for 3 hours.  And kicked myself for not bringing any proper coffee or even anything to read. 

I kept myself occupied by trying to organise childcare for Midi and Maxi Minx for the next 4 hours (the nursery shut in 3…).  Just as I sorted out The Plan and the Back-up Plan, one of the nurses achieved the unthinkable: while flirting with the IT man, she let out a cackle so loud that it woke Mini up from the deepest sleep.  Wow.  Some laugh!  Still, the ward was empty, so it certainly echoed.  Poor Mini looked so disoriented peering out through the cot bars.  She pretty much levitated up and lurched at me.  With my little playmate awake, we had fun in the playroom trying out all the toys and drawing a picture for Daddy.  When she got bored with that she tried out her new walking legs, racing up and down the little 4-bed room in her new pink shoes, again and again.  The lovely nurses even fed Mini: she polished off 2 sausages, swede, mash and Angel Delight.

We got let out right after that, and even had time to share a coffee (me), toasted teacake and some raisins (me and Mini) in the deserted hospital cafe before being reunited with the rest of the family around 7pm.  The Boss had taken them to McDonald’s for dinner as a massive treat, so they were full of balloons and giggles and no sympathy at all for Mini’s little plaster on her wee thigh.

Update: today (MMR+9 days) Mini had a bit of a rash.  Having read more about the MMR for her than for her sisters, I guess this was the Day 10 possible reaction to the measles bit of the vaccine.  She was completely fine in herself, and if I read the article right, it implies that the vaccine worked.  Bonus.

Update 2: yesterday Mini ate a bit of croissant that had egg in the ingredients.  She didn’t go red; she didn’t get a loose nappy; she liked the croissant bite very much.  I must test out her egg allergy in my GrumpyOldTrout-Non-Scientific-Way (dab a bit of scrambled egg on her cheek and see if it still goes red), as I wonder if she’s finally growing out of it?

So Near and So Far

Aaargh!  One of the reasons why I hate being too busy to blog is (a) all the little stresses of life build up in me with no bloggy outlet, and (b) I forget to write down relevant bits.

I don’t know if you remember me moaning about Mini Minx being refused her MMR jag because she has an egg allergy?  Well, about a fortnight later, I got a phonecall from the GP’s surgery noting that she’d had the other 2 jags but not the MMR, and was there something she could reassure me about?  I explained patiently that the Health Visitor had refused to inject Mini with MMR despite my reassurances that I was happy it was safe.  The woman dropped the bombshell that the Health Visitor had not written anything about this in Mini’s notes, never mind written to the hospital to refer her to them.  I expressed my irritation and frustration as gently as I could.  So the woman and I got into cahoots and booked me and Mini onto the Practice Nurse’s clinic for the MMR.  My irritation grew to new levels when I discovered that it was impossible to speak with / get a message to the Nurse to find out if she was willing to give Mini the MMR (“Can’t you speak to her and call me back if she says no?  Can I write to her?  Can you leave her a message, even?”)  We agreed that if *she* refused, I’d book appointments with the GPs, one by one.  I privately also prepared to change GPs before they ousted me…

A few days after that, the Health Visitor called The Boss to tell him that one of the GPs had written to the local hospital asking for Mini to be referred for her MMR there.  He asked me why she’d sounded like a sulky teenager, and had I been noising her up.  I managed to look the picture of innocence.

I expected the hospital to either not get in touch for months (as the Health Visitor had said would happen), or to write to me telling me to get back to the GP’s surgery (as a friend told me happened at her hospital).  Imagine my surprise when last week the Children’s Ward (well, a member of staff from…) called to ask when it suited me to come over with Mini.  Wowsers.  So I cancelled the Practice Nurse clinic appointment, slotted the appointment into the busy House of Trout diary, and waited.

It was today.  Let me give you a tiny bit of an idea of the kind of day it fell in.

I drove 15 mins to drop Maxi and Midi at nursery at 9, then drove 30 mins to the hospital to drop The Boss off for an appointment.  I’d forgotten my purse, so couldn’t do the 3 things I wanted to whilst there.  As it turned out, Mini got up too late to have breakfast, so I fed her at the hospital.  Then 30 mins drive to the nursery to watch the girls at their sports day (my mum never went to any of mine, ever.  It hurt.  So I won’t miss my girls’).  Back to the house (15 mins) to get the stupid purse, then 15 mins to town.  Do the 3 things I meant to earlier, grab lunch, then hospital for MMR (more later), 30 mins drive to nursery, pick up girls, 30 mins drive back to let Maxi go to her swimming lesson, 15 mins drive back.  Dinner.

So it wasn’t the best of days, ok?

The nurse at the children’s ward took me through the paperwork and said, “Oh, did someone tell you that you’ll need to hang around for 2-4 hrs after the injection?” Noooooooo, and this could be a bit of a problem if I can’t be out in 2 hours to pick up Maxi and Midi.  She checked and decided that would be ok after all.  The doctor came, gave me a consent form to sign, explained what a possible vaccine reaction would be like, stated that the possible consequences of not vaccinating were worse, got my signature witnessed, then disappeared.  (I’m glad I do my own research…)  The nurse called us through to the treatment room* where the injection was waiting in a little dish.

*the same room where Midi had been held down by 4 adults to try and fail to get a cannula in her when she was dehydrated and admitted overnight.  And the same room where Mini had failed totally to get a decent blood sample for allergy testing.  The room gave me the shivers.

She noticed Mini had a runny nose.  I explained she was starting a cold, caught from her sister, but that she didn’t have a temperature (Maxi (5) and Midi (3) have had all their vaccinations despite being snotty nosed most of the time – the various Health Visitors over the years always said it would be fine so long as they didn’t have a fever.  So I thought that was gospel).  The nurse checked her temp – 37.1degC, so “warm” but not a fever.  She asked if the doctor had examined Mini.  Noooooo.  Her eyes widened.  No?  Had he even listened to her chest?  No, he hadn’t looked at her at all; should he have?  The other nurse fetched him.  He glanced at Mini gurgling and cooing on my knee then went to consult the consultant.

“I’m afraid that because she has a runny nose and a cough we cannot give her the injection today”, he said in his gentle way.  Both nurses ganged up on him immediately: “Cough?  Who said cough?  I didn’t say anything about a cough.  Did you?”  Um, no, she hasn’t got a cough. Oh crikey, don’t get me involved… <wince>

The long and short of it was, I was very happy to just make a new appointment.  The doctor apologised profusely, I accepted graciously and proffered my own apologies – had I known that any kind of illness was a contraindication for the MMR I’d have phoned to cancel the appointment yesterday and not wasted their very valuable time.  We all apologised politely all round and I was given an appointment next week.  I scuttled out, and prepped the nursery for a possible overrun in picking the minxes up next week if they hold me to 4hrs post wait post MMR.

So.  Now I’m almost spooked at how tricky it’s becoming to get poor unsuspecting little Mini her MMR.  With a bit of a measles outbreak in France and the SE of England, I’m really keen for her to have the vaccination.  But it’s beginning to feel fated that she’s not to have it!

2 out of 3

All right! All right! She can have the MMR! Stop citing BMJ articles, woman!

It’s Friday 13th, which means Mini Minx was due her MMR, Meningitis C and HiB booster vaccinations.  Well, until the Health Visitor noticed that Mini’s file had ‘egg allergy’ written on it in big red letters.

I reassured her that I’d done a lot of research (proper research: on the BMJ rather than Mumsnet) on MMR with egg allergy, and that the majority of babies reacting to the vaccination don’t have an egg allergy; they’re far more likely to react to the neomycin or glycerin in it.  And there’s no real egg material in it: it’s made with chick embryos.  There was no longer a standard protocol for egg allergy babies having the MMR in a hospital with a paediatric department.  I was quite happy that so long as there was adrenaline on the premises, that we were more than covered.  Nor was I concerned about her having 3 vaccinations at once: she’d be exposed to far more things attacking her immune system in a standard day, chewing and licking the things that she does.

I did my best impression of a nonchalent, non-neurotic mother.  So I think the Health Visitor over-compensated.  She listened politely, noted my lack of concern, then explained that she would have to administer said adrenaline in an emergency, and she wasn’t happy.  One of the GPs recommended that Mini Minx not have the MMR on the premises, and that she was to have it in the local hospital.

Trying really hard not to look irritated (to be fair, I do understand why she wanted to protect herself.  And better over-cautious than under-cautious, I guess), I asked how long the appointment might take to come through – a few weeks?  A month?

“Oh, much longer.  It’ll take quite a while for the letter to be written by the doctor and sent to the hospital, then they have to open it, then respond, then make an appointment… It’ll be quite a few months,” she said.

Oh.  So in the meantime, my baby gets to risk all the terrible side effects that a disease like measles can bring.  Great.

Still, my poor, wee unsuspecting baba got her 2 booster vaccines.  And yes, she looked at me as if I’d let the Child Eating Witch attack her.


Mini may only be 13 months, and I do tend to baby her, but she does understand a fair old bit.  She insisted on wearing her favourite hat (a red and purple tartan thing), merrily shouting, “Ah! Ah! Ah!” (well, imagine saying ‘hat’ with a dropped aitch and a glottal stop) and patting her head.  Then she’d whip it on and off her little head to make me laugh.  And when I stopped laughing, the little minx smacked me on the bonce, shouted “Ah!” and tried to fit it on me.

For the first time ever, she actually went down in her cot for a nap without a fight.  I put her in her sleeping bag, she waved goodbye to the flowers, the trees, the sea, the cars, the birdies, the cars and the houses (!), then lay quietly in her cot.  I gave her a little Tiny Tears doll that she seems quite fond of, and she poked it in the eyes.  I asked her where the dolly’s nose was?  She poked it in the nose.  Cute – I know she knows what noses are because “Rub noses!” is her favourite game, but I didn’t know she could translate that onto a dolly.

General Minxiness

Just a bit of an update post, really.

Mini Minx is now proudly standing on her own 2 little (long, thin, banana) feet for up to a minute at a time.  If me or The Boss don’t see her standing tall, she’ll shriek till we look over, then beam with delight as we cheer madly.  I predict that she’ll take her first steps by the weekend.  Then I will need eyes up my bum, as she moves so blooming quickly, and usually towards the nearest point of danger.  She can exploit potential minxdom in anything she finds, that child…  She still only has 2 proper teeth and one just poked through.  Her hair is still a strange colour (ginger / brown / blonde / see-through), and she still enjoys being wrapped.  We’re getting fast at strapping ourselves together so I can do things with both hands (separate her sisters from a fight, clean up mess, put out kitchen fires, that kind of thing…).  It’s not so much that she likes being close to me – it’s so she can pull my ears and rub banana / baby snot in my hair and down my neck.  She knows fine what she’s doing – she usually giggles just before she rubs some mushy substance where it really shouldn’t go.  Her favourite song right now is “Eyes, Nose, Cheeky-cheeky, Chin” and she claps along to anything with a beat.  Tantrums aren’t far away – she got really frustrated yesterday at not being allowed to ‘help’ me change her sisters’ bedsheets, so yelled through clenched gums, buried her face in the sheets, and pulled her head back with the sheets between her gums/teeth.  Biting in frustration?  Already?  Oh hell…

We had ice cream cones tonight after dinner, pressed into chocolate sprinkles.  Just as Mini sank her 3 teeth into hers, The Boss remembered that brand of ice cream had egg in it.  As he whipped it away, to Mini’s indignant protests, Maxi commented kindly: “Gosh, I hope R isn’t going to get another egg infection!” 🙂

Midi Minx has taken a bit of a stretch.  A few weeks ago her feet were a 7H; they’re now 8H.  I’m looking at her latest new shoes and wondering how the hell she can walk in them without falling over – they’re like flippers.  I ordered absolutely everything Start-rite did in an 8H (both pairs!), so Midi plumped for her favourite ‘Meg shoes’* instead of the cute red ones with butterflies and sparkles on.  Still, the cute red ones had a sole that’s so much wider than the already-wide shoe that, never mind flippers, she looked like she was wearing snow shoes!

*So-called because they’re black and look like witch’s shoes to a 3 year old (‘Meg’ as in Meg, Mog and Owl)

She’s now in the same nursery room as Maxi Minx, and is suddenly quite happy to go to nursery again.  (I’m not sure I am – she returned home on Friday with one hell of a big bruise on her vulva that the staff obviously hadn’t noticed occurring, or they’d have mentioned her falling of the play equipment.  Surely?  Thank goodness Maxi is a spot-everything tell-tale).  She’s just had yet another ear infection, and her speech went very murky for a bit.  For the first time, too, she managed to say to me, “Say it louder, Mummy: I can’t hear you!”  My heart sank, as I’d been speaking quite loudly and clearly to her, but on the other hand I was very proud at how well she can now articulate her needs.  Though right now her needs usually involve requiring a Mummy-huggle every time my hands are full or I physically can’t. 

Midi made a chocolate bird’s nest for Easter, but calls it her ‘Eagle’s Nest’.

Just as the Earth’s magnetic poles have and may (allegedly) suddenly reverse, Maxi and Midi have suddenly reversed their fear polarities.  Midi, who normally knows no fear, got scared climbing the steps to a slide.  Maxi, meanwhile, swarmed over tall cargo nets, steep ladders, fast roundabouts.  Her usual scaredy-cat wail has gone.  I asked Midi if she wanted to go on the big swing with her sister and their friend.  “Nooooo”, she replied, “It makes me bery sad.”  Eh?  Why?  “Cos it does”.  Oh.  “But this chute makes me bery, bery ‘abbeeeee!” she grinned gleefully*

*translation: she was very happy

Eggs, Cats and Little Baby Jesus

The paediatrician called the other day to say that baby Minx’s blood tests were back and that there were no signs of any reaction at all to anything.  His advice was to just try her on egg now, and that if there was any reaction to “Just come back and see us” (like you can just waltz back into the hospital.  It takes a special code and secret club membership to see most GPs, never mind specialists…)

My first reaction was, “Yippee, she’s maybe outgrown the allergy already!”  My second reaction was, “My baby can have a proper cake on her first birthday!”  My third reaction was a reversion back to type: “Hmmm, it was only 2 months ago.  And they barely got any blood.  Were the tests properly carried out?  Was it a false negative?”

Being a cautious sod, I decided to ignore the doctor.  Yes, I know, he studied medicine for years and years just for me to ignore his advice and listen to my suspicious, overly-cynical gut feelings.  I waited till today to try R on egg in case I had to take her to hospital – no point planning it for a day when the place will be chock-full of the hungover and still drunk.  And that’s just the doctors… (Sorry, that’s a cheap joke – the staff at our local hospital are brilliant).  So I gave Perma-Wakey-Wakey and Sneak-Into-Your-Bed-6-Times-Last-Night scrambled eggs for breakfast and kept Little Miss Sensitive on porridge and buttered toast.  I dipped a finger in the remnants of the egg and gently rubbed it in a circle on the baby’s cheek.  5 mins later, holy schamoley, there’s a bright red circle on her cheek with little blisters inside, just where I wiped the egg.  I washed it with some cotton wool and water and it faded within the hour.

So, shall I be feeding my baby some egg now?  Shall I hell as like!

I don’t know whether to attempt to see the paediatrician again; I don’t know what purpose it would serve.  Perhaps:

Trout: “Look, my daughter *is* allergic to egg!”
Dr: “Oh, so she is.  Gosh”
Trout: “Well..?”
Dr: “Avoid egg”
Trout: <flabberghasted>

I guess I’ll just attempt to get a GP’s appointment and discuss with her what I should do now, if anything.  I suppose the specialist needs to know that R is still reacting to egg, regardless of what the blood tests suggest, so perhaps just a letter will be enough.

In other news:

Christmas has obviously had a profound effect on my eldest 2.  Today I overheard them bickering over who was going to have The Baby Jesus in bed with them.  We are not a religious household and the sum total of my religious instruction to my daughters is that “Christmas celebrates the birthday of a very, very, very nice man called Jesus who lived a very long time ago”.  So it was safe to say that the girls had either had a visitation or it was to do with something they’d learned at nursery.  It turns out that they’ve been naming their dollies now that they own 4 between them.  So there’s Baby Annabell, Baby Ava, Dolly and Baby Jesus.  I guess that one must resemble the star of the nursery nativity?  Regardless of who they were given to, all toys and dollies, of course, belong to the 2 year old Midi ‘Mine-mine-mine’ Minx.

Still, L’s behaviour is being tempered slightly by the release of the cat and her sentence reprieve that allows her (the cat!) to prowl downstairs at will.  L is unafraid of everything and everyone.  Except the cat.  And of me grassing up her bad behaviour to Santa.  Threats to tell Santa still have her shrieking in dread, and most importantly, desisting from whatever carnage she’s causing.  Maybe because she believes a tale I made up on the spot: that Santa can make all the toys he gave you disappear in a puff of smoke if you’re extra naughty after Christmas.  Yes, I am evil and A Bad Mother.  I know.

I Am Mostly Being A Little Bit Frazzled, Tonight

Today’s been a tough old day.  I’m trying to think of the humourous side, but I’m struggling!

I think the crushing lack of sleep (all 3 girls were up in the night last night, and baby R cried for an hour straight from 4am, with no let-up (teeth)) cut into my steely-eyed resolve and reserves.

Baby R has an egg allergy.  Although by nature pretty cautious and open-minded, this was obvious.  At 7 months she ate some pasta carbonara.  She really loved it, and smeared it all over her chubby cheeks.  Her fingers and face came up in red weals and blotches within a few minutes.  I noticed a wet wheeze (though it may have been there beforehand).  Just as I started to think about a quick trip to hospital, I remembered the Piriton we’d stashed away in the cupboard that she’d been prescribed for her eczema.  One quick dose, and the rash and wheeze were going within 15 mins and gone by 30 mins.  She came up with a similar rash a week later after eating veg cooked in the same water used to boil egg pasta.  She didn’t react at all after eating a whole jar of Heinz egg custard… (Hint: there’s a higher percentage of egg in the pasta than the processed custard.  Actually, there’s probably a higher percentage of egg in my clean left sock than that custard.)

Anyway, the GP was duly impressed with the detailed report and the A4 photo of R’s rash that I’d taken right after administering the Piriton, and promised to write to the paediatrician.  (Photo: I learned how useful photos of rashes are after *not* taking a photo of my Lyme disease rash years ago, and after taking a snap of Middle Minx’s amoxicillin reaction rash – at the time I thought it was chicken pox with cute loveheart shaped spots…)

Today, the appointment with the paediatrician came.  Baby R was relatively happy for the nurses to weigh and measure her so long as she maintained eye contact with me.  She was blatantly thinking: “It’s December, it’s -10degC in the middle of the afternoon and I’m naked in a cubicle.  Two strange women in white are cooing over me and my nappy contents.  This is not dignified.  I’m not impressed, Mother.  Don’t pull this stunt again.  Last warning”.  She was even ok with the doctor.  “You warmed up the stethoscope first – I’ll let you off with a warning grizzle.  Next time it’s The Shriek.  I mean it”. 

The doctor suggested she have a blood test to confirm whether it was an allergy to yolk, albumen, both, milk, house mites, dust, cat or all of the above.  “And we’ll do a full blood count if there’s enough blood”.  My insides wobbled at the prospect of anything sharp hurting my baby, but hey, it couldn’t be worse than her 500 vaccinations, could it?  (I exaggerate – it was only the standard 6 or so over 3 months).  Um.  It could.

We went to the children’s ward for the doctor and staff nurse up there to do it.  I did a sterling acting job in nonchalently walking into the same room that only 9 months ago Middle Minx had been jabbed 11 times in an effort to site a cannula (she’d been admitted to hospital overnight with dehydration, along with all the other children filling the ward that night – bad v&d bug).  An aside: a wonderful nurse came every hour to feed Middle Minx a few teaspoons of fluid instead, right through the night.  It was 2 weeks before Mini Minx was born just one more ward down the corridor.  Unlike the other wards, the children’s ward staff were, and are, just fantastically and endlessly patient, caring and kind.

After much patting and stretching and frowning from the doctor, the first stab site was selected: baby R’s wrist.  The nurse held her hand forward, the doctor eased the needle in, with no local anaesthetic, and R blinked seriously at him twice.  She looked from needle to his eyes and back again.  Then up at me.  Then back to the needle.  The little tube of blood stopped growing into a bigger tube and the nurse squeezed R’s wrist.  2 fat little drops of blood were coaxed out.  The doctor sighed and went to fetch the consultant.

Santa came in (honestly!) and shook my hand.  I nearly curtseyed.  Then he spent 20 minutes prodding, stabbing, saying “No, no, never do xyz” to the suddenly nervous doctor, who was trying to help.  This time, baby R was having none of it, and wailed her little head off.  The consultant propped R on a bed so it was easier to hold her still.  Like her big sister, it took 4 adults to stop her thrashing too much.  She sobbed and screamed, not understanding why I wouldn’t take the pain away.  I didn’t count, but it was 3 attempts to the right wrist, 2 to the left, and finally enough blood was taken from her heel for it all to stop.  Santa managed a grimace of a smile and peeled his shirt away from his armpits.  Poor man – my Mummy Guilt was in overdrive, so his Nice Old Man Guilt must have been redlining.

The Trout's Daz Challenge

As I gave R a consolatory breastfeed in the day room I apologised to her for causing her the pain and indignity and trauma.  Poor little mite!  If I’d had any inkling it would have been like that I’d have refused the blood test, settling for label reading and avoiding all egg instead.  I only allowed the blood letting (!) to continue after the first tears because I thought I needed to make it worthwhile – why hurt her to just abandon it and not find out which allergens to avoid?  And I suppose it’s an advantage to be pre-warned that her veins are as small and weedy as mine and Middle Minx’s if she ever needs blood taken / cannulas sited / drips installed.

After an exhausted nap from all the screaming, R woke up as sweet-tempered and happy as ever.  She’s forgotten it all, and the bruising to her hands doesn’t seem to be causing her any pain.  Ironically, her heel didn’t stop bleeding for a bit, so my trousers have more blood on them than was sent to the lab.

The one plus of being at the hospital today?  The Boss took the afternoon off work to watch the kids, so did the big Christmas Food Shop in the madhouse that was town today with Midi and Maxi Minx, instead of me.  That would have traumatised me forever, but they all seemed to enjoy it (mentalists!).  So it’ll be turkey for Christmas Dinner.  It’s currently -11degC; tomorrow’s forecast high is -6degC.  It can snow all it likes, now: we’ll dine like kings for the next week.  I iced the Christmas cake to de-stress from upsetting my baby.  The kids parcelled up their home-made peppermint and chocolate-drizzled creams that we made in a fit of Christmas nostalgia.  And most important of all?  I finally purchased the coloured chalks that Maxi Minx asked Santa Claus for her Christmas present!!  So bring on Christmas: we’re ready at last!