Tag Archives: parenthood

Nora Left Eye Lopes, Part 3

(Continuation of Nora Left Eye Lopes and Nora Left Eye Lopes, Part 2)

So last I left you, Nora was doing great but sporting a somewhat funky-looking cyst on the corner of her left eyebrow, at one of the sling surgery incision sites (there are four such sites, two on each eyebrow. The other three sites are completely fine and healed, barely visible). Here’s a diagram of the situation on her left eye, for visual learners:

surgery.jpg

As mentioned previously, the cyst does not seem to bother her at all (except when we have to clean/medicate it), but the problem with leaving it be is that it is constantly opening and reforming, and every time that happens, it runs the risk of becoming infected. That would be crappy for many reasons. I don’t think I need to explain them.

Plus no one needs a cyst permanently sitting on their face. Life is hard enough.

In a last-ditch effort to get rid of the cyst (we’d already tried various topical steroids and antibiotics, to no avail), the surgeon prescribed an oral antibiotic. He hoped that this would do the trick– if not, it would mean that it’s the silicone sling itself causing the chronic irritation, and so it (the sling) would have to be removed.

So Nora took the oral antibiotic and the cyst went away and we all lived happily ever after because LIFE IS RAINBOWS AND BUTTERFLIES AND UNICORNS THE END!!!!!

tenor-1.gif

Bwahahahahahahahahh jk guys. But you knew that.

You’re on MY blog, not [insert name of someone I’d hate]’s blog.

Life never gets tied up in a neat little bow, so here we are at the next boulder in the road. Get out your chisel. (Is that what one uses to break through a boulder? Listen I’m not outdoorsy nor have I ever used a tool).

The cyst remains. And while we’ve grown so used to it that we’ve considered giving it a name, starting a college fund and raising it as our own, the doctor feels it needs to go. And the only way to do that is to remove the sling (you know, the one holding her eyelid up).

So we have another surgery scheduled for Monday. Yes, this Monday. July 22nd. Because some people go to The Hamptons in the summer, but honestly we prefer the bright florescent lights of Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, Day Surgery Division.

th.gif

Same doctor. Same hospital. Same general anesthesia. Same crippling anxiety thought spirals of hell positive attitude leading up to it.

The doctor seems hopeful that because there are two slings in the eyelid (refer to professional diagram above), the inner sling will be sufficient in keeping the lid up. If the lid DOES droop, to the point where it could affect vision, he will be able to discern that mid-surgery, and we will then have the option of putting in a replacement sling in a slightly different location (all this can be done in that same surgery). The downside to this is that Nora will then have three incision sites in that one brow. And, of course, the chance of another cyst-like reaction at the new incision site.

The good news, again, is that the surgeon seems confident that the one remaining sling will suffice (especially since this was the better, less droopy eye to begin with), and that removing the troublesome sling is not going to affect the cosmetics, or her vision, at all (then why did he put it there in the first place? Standard procedure? Slightly better chance of symmetry with the other eye? IDK guys I guess I missed the day they taught that in the medical school that I didn’t go to).  Furthermore, he feels that if he DID have to put in a replacement sling, the likelihood of a cyst forming again is small, especially since the other three incisions healed so nicely.

His confidence seems promising, and the odds do seem to be in our favor– however, this is only the THIRD time in his TWENTY YEAR career that he has had to remove a sling, so I’d say my faith in odds right now is akin to my faith in Eric’s hair-regrowth shampoo.

tinafeyeyeroll.gif

Thankfully, Eric remains positive and hopeful (regarding both the surgery and his hair), so I don’t have to. This is a marriage strategy and not an accident. It’s written in our ketubah: “In sickness, and in health, Emily will constantly assume the worst and Eric will keep the entire ship afloat by himself, so help him God. He’ll also get Emily iced coffee and egg salad and never comment on how much she’s sweating.” It’s all there in Hebrew.

IMG_7735.jpeg

So that’s where we are. One of the four silicone slings will be removed on Monday. The surgery is slated to take 120 minutes, from prep to finish. I will eat my feelings next to the hospital’s frozen yogurt machine, which likely still has my chicken-nugget-greased fingerprints on it from February. Eric will wander around introducing himself to various dogs.

Nora, I assume, will handle it better than both of us, because she’s still zero years old and life is just a series of eating, pooping, and maniacally swaying to Queen:

 

And I’m sure all this hardship will make Nora stronger, and it will all work out in the end, just like it did for Freddie Mercury.

url

No, I’m kidding. Obviously. I DO believe this will all be fine, I’m just sorry my sweet little tater tot has to go through this. AGAIN. I’m not necessarily confident that this is the last time we will deal with this issue, but I AM confident we’ll be able to look back one day and this will all seem like a distant memory and a minor roadblock. I know that day will come, because, no matter how hard life has been at any point, and no matter how hopeless things have seemed at any  given moment, a good dose of distance and perspective has always made the value of the struggle seem crystal clear.

But right now it’s surgery-anticipation mode, so I’m sorry, I’m just not there yet. But I will be.

And until then, I’ll cope in same way any other loving, caring, fiercely devoted mother would.

rs_500x283-150522135111-amy-schumer-oversized-glass-of-wine.gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess I’ll Be Handling All the Coming-Of-Age Talks

Eric sits down with Nora, who is playing with her new favorite toy– a box of tampons….IMG_6908.jpeg

Eric: “Hey! Did you find a new toy? You like tampons? You’ll use tampons one day, you know. Dad’s not gonna wanna hear about it. (picks one up, examines wrapper) Look, this one says ‘L’ on it…and this one says ‘R’. Huh, they make different tampons for righties and lefties? Who knew!”

ms-krJVnF.gif

 

Like, REAL air?

That she is not in fact a robot will never cease to take me by surprise:

Me: “So yeah, sometimes all the ‘what ifs’ really paralyze me, in terms of all the bad things that could possibly happen to Nora.”

Therapist: “Of course. As parents, we will always feel that to a degree.”

Me: “Wait– YOU’RE a PARENT?”

Therapist: “Yes, to a 13-year-old daughter….”

Me: “You have a DAUGHTER?!”

Therapist: “…and a 9 year old daughter.”

Me: “You have TWO daughters??!!”

Therapist: “Yes, so I know that feeling….”

Me: “You have FEELINGS?”

Therapist: “…. of being so scared for your child, you forget how to breathe air.”

Me: “You BREATHE AIR?!”

giphy.gif

 

 

Nora Left Eye Lopes, Part 2

(A continuation/update of Nora Left Eye Lopes )

Yesterday I received an email from a reader asking me about the progress of Nora’s ptosis, and it dawned on me that I never actually posted an update on the blog. I’ve kept friends informed through Facebook, but hearing from this woman (who also has a baby with congenital ptosis) made me realize that I owe an update to blog readers as well. I am always hopeful that my experiences can help and provide information/insight for others, so here’s the spiel (I tried my damndest to keep it short but, choice of husband aside, I’m pretty bad at keeping things short. Ba-dum ching! url):

Soon after my last (and also first) blog post about Nora’s ptosis, we had our next ophthalmologist appointment. The diagnosis up until that point was “mild” ptosis in her right eye that was (so far) not impacting her vision or development. We were told to patch her left eye in order to force her to use the right one, with the purpose of maintaining vision in that eye and preventing Amblyopia, aka “lazy eye.” This patching phase is when she earned her “Nora Left Eye Lopes” nickname. Because, I mean, just look at this photo and tell me she is not one badass bitch:

45505048_10160935416825545_484783794902007808_n.jpg

You can’t, right? I know.

So yeah. We left that first appointment thinking this was a relatively minor issue that we’d just have to watch, and if down the line we wanted to consider surgery for cosmetic purposes, that would be an option. Thankfully, the ptosis was not severe, and surgery was not something we needed to even have on our radar yet.

giphy-2.gif

So imagine my surprise when I took Nora to the next appointment (Eric was traveling for work) and was told that, in fact, BOTH eyes had ptosis (I kind of already suspected this, but also kind of talked myself out of it and chalked it up to my BFF, Paranoia, rearing her ugly persistent head). The doctor classified the right eye as “severe” and the left as “moderate.” No “mildness” about it. While Nora’s vision was thus far intact, the extreme head-tilting she had to do in order to see would likely start to affect her physical development.

Surgery was recommended.

The good thing is that even though this was not at all what I expected to hear, I remained totally calm. I listened to the doctor’s words and stayed completely composed, because instinct kicked in and I knew I had to be strong for my baby girl.

raw.gif

I cried like a little bitch.

tenor.gif

The recommended surgery was Bilateral Frontalis Sling, where an internal silicon sling is inserted to connect the lid muscles to the eyebrow muscle, so the brow muscle can lift the lids for her. Using silicon as the material for the sling is usually only a temporary solution– as a baby’s face grows, the silicon does not grow with it, and therefore the lids typically start to droop again after a period of time. An alternative material to silicon is a thigh tendon  (aka “fascia lata”), taken from the child’s leg through a very small incision. This is typically a more permanent solution, as the tendon will grow with the child’s face. It also has the added benefit of not being a foreign object in the body, and therefore infection or rejection is unlikely. Unfortunately, the tendon can not be used until about 3-4 years of age, because it is not developed enough before then.  So our only option at this point was silicon.

Luckily, through the amazingness of social media (Facebook gets a bad rap but I’ve already nominated Mark Zuckerberg for a Nobel Prize), we were able to locate and be connected with one of the top doctors in the country for this kind of surgery: Dr. William Katowitz at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). During our consultation with him, he agreed that Nora’s case was severe, and surgery was scheduled for February 21, just a few days shy of her 6-month birthday.

The nice thing about waiting for a surgery date to arrive is NOTHING.

THERE IS NO NICE THING.

I thought I was handling the anxiety of the approaching date well, but in hindsight I was just channeling my anxiety into other aspects of my life. It was anxiety just the same. I didn’t eat well, sleep well, or think well for months. Wine through a straw helped. Until it inevitably didn’t.

Finally, the date arrived. We drove to Philly the night before, stayed at a hotel, and arrived at CHOP around 8am the next day. Here’s a visual summary of surgery day:

52663250_10161328643690545_4287995563351212032_n.jpg

Nora was a brave (re: oblivious) little saggy-cheeked champ, Eric befriended every dog he came across, I ate my feelings/smiled so I didn’t cry, and then I sang to Nora post-surgery and mentally transported myself to a place where I wasn’t staring at my bloodied, swollen, groggy, whimpering child.

Seeing her after surgery was terrible. It was a long car ride back to NYC. I sat in the back with her, but covered her car seat with a light blanket as she slept, because I couldn’t bear to see the evidence of what we had elected to do to her. Yes, it was medically advised and yes, it would probably be better for her in the long run, but in that moment all I could think was “I caused her this pain.”

Well, no worries, because as it turns out, my daughter is a fucking warrior.

tenor-1.gif

We got home and she slept through most of the night, waking only once for a bottle because, due to the anesthesia, she hadn’t eaten in about 24 hours. After a 3am feed she went right back to bed and, I shit you not, woke up like this:

56985472_10161495220765545_7894736702839717888_n.jpg

Happy as a goddamn clam.

For real, WHO MADE THIS CHILD?! It seems that somehow, despite the fact that I carried and birthed her, she inherited zero of my DNA. Because if it were me, I’d be handling the situation with exactly this much grace:

giphy.gif

As you can somewhat see in the photos of Nora above, the surgeon tied the sling at four separate incision sites, two on each brow. He then put in a temporary stitch on the bottom of each eye, for the purpose of keeping her eyes cinched tight post-op, in order to prevent her from scratching a cornea.

Two days after surgery, we returned to CHOP and he removed the temporary stitch. The results took my breath away (it was at this point I realized I hadn’t, in fact, breathed in 2 months):

53208689_10161338648030545_6845494549117140992_n.jpg

Nora instantly stopped tilting her head back, and we were able to see, for the first time, just how beautifully blue her eyes are. I praised Jesus. Yeah, I’m jewish, but still. This felt like a moment for Jesus to be involved. Allah, Buddha, whoever Wiccans worship– everyone was welcome at this prayer party.

Since then, Nora’s eyes have “settled” a bit, which is to be expected with this surgery:

IMG_6250.JPG

As far as I’m concerned, her eyes now look typically-developing.  Yes, sometimes her right eye still looks “droopier,” especially when she’s tired. And yes, there’s still a little bit of a “sleepiness” to them, but it’s so minor I’m pretty sure I’m the only one perceiving it. She sometimes sleeps with her eyes a bit open, which we were warned was a possible side effect, but it has not had any consequences other than to kinda creep us out.

giphy-1.gif

So all in all, a huge success with virtually no complications!!!!!!

BWAHAHAHA giphy-3.gif

Not how my life works.

About 3 months after surgery, Nora woke up with a swollen eye, and one of the suture sites on her brow looked irritated. We went to the opthamologist and they gave us some cream and didn’t seem too concerned. Weeks later, the irritation had only gotten worse. We went back to the surgeon at CHOP.

It turns out that a small cyst has developed, a minor and fairly common healing complication. The cyst varies in its appearance, and every so often it pops, draining some pus and blood (I know, gross– but this is actually a good thing). Some days, it looks like nothing more than a small little scab on her brow. Other days, it takes on a life of its own.

ms-ZXGv5G.gif

Fortunately, much like the dude above, Nora is blissfully unaware of its presence and, in terms of cosmetics, gives a total of zero fucks. Ah, to be no years old.

It isn’t causing her any harm or discomfort, aside from when we have to put hot compresses on it, squeeze it a bit, and apply the cream. That, she does not care for (#grossunderstatement).

The doctors seem hopeful that the cyst will eventually resolve itself and fully drain on its own. I’m not so sure. It continues to fill, pop, scab, and then the process begins all over again. If it doesn’t improve soon, we will have to consider surgery as an option.

I know– another surgery?! Whhhhhhyyyyyyyyy? Especially for such a minor thing that only seems to be a cosmetic issue at this point?

Well the problem is, the more the cyst opens, the more likely it is to get infected– and if it DOES get infected, and THEN the surgeon goes in to remove it, there is a much higher chance that he might have to remove the sling, too. And if that were the case, we’d have to wait for the cyst surgery to heal, and then do ANOTHER sling surgery. Granted, this is a worst-case scenario, but the fact that it’s even in the realm of scenarios makes me want to ugly cry, Kardashian style.

ugly-cry.gif

So nothing’s perfect. Which falls under the category of “duh.”

But overall, we are so grateful for the surgery and the results, despite the non-perfection. Nora can see. People no longer look at her and wonder if something is “wrong” with her (you might think that’s me being cray, but I actually had a former student’s parent, pre-surgery, ask me exactly that– “Is she ok? Is something wrong with her?” It was the first time in my life that I considered murder as a viable conflict resolution tactic.)

Nora is now completely thriving in all areas of development, and she’s just the happiest little rope-a-dope. I mean look how thrilled she is about a banana that I bought on the street for 15 cents:

And yes she’s eating that banana naked because do you really expect me to feed AND clothe her? What am I, a wizard?

So that’s where we are in our ptosis journey. We have the possibility of cyst-removal surgery, as well as the eventual possibility of fascia lata sling surgery to replace the silicon sling a few years down the line. All that being said, Nora is happy, healthy, and thriving– we are thrilled with our decision to surgically treat her eyes, and have never looked back (no pun intended).

A huge thank you to ALL those who have supported us along the way (and there have been so SO many of you). The brightest, most silverest (back off, spellcheck) lining of this whole experience has been a renewed faith in the human spirit. Anyone who thought they might be able to help, did. We were connected with the best doctors, given the most helpful advice, sent the sweetest gifts, notes and kind words. There is simply no way to accurately express my gratitude, so in lieu of the perfect words, please accept this photo of Nora making the world’s most absurd face:

IMG_4456.jpeg

The end.

(are YOU exhausted? I am)

 

 

Not Postpartum Depression

Speaking with a new mom I met in our building, who has a son around Nora’s age, I mention that as much as I’m completely in love with my daughter, I’ve definitely had some bumps along the way in adjusting to motherhood.

Her: “Ugh, I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with postpartum depression.”

Me: “Oh, you’re very sweet and I appreciate that so much, but I actually, very fortunately, have NOT had to deal with postpartum depression.”

Her: “Oh, my bad! I just thought from what you were saying…it sounded like a postpartum depression type thing.”

Me: “Oh, no. I actually was very nervous I’d have postpartum depression because I’m definitely at risk. But surprisingly I didn’t. What I’m talking about is just like normal parenthood transition stuff, you know?”

Her: url

Me: “Maybe you DON’T know…”

Her: “I don’t know, I guess I just haven’t found the transition difficult at all.  It’s really only brought me joy.”

Me: “Wow, that’s awesome. You’ve really never been totally overwhelmed? Or anxious about the huge responsibility of raising a human? Or even just like ‘AHHHH I miss my old life!?'”

Her: “Honestly, no. I love every second of it. Is that weird?”

Me: “I mean no, it’s amazing! Good for you.  ENJOY IT!”

You lying cunt.

 

 

Age 70

Therapist: “How has the motherhood balance been going?”

Me: “Actually much better lately. I’m definitely finding my groove. There’s still just like a constant underlying worry/anxiety, though.”

Therapist: “Right. But I think it’s fair to say that’s just what it is to be a parent.”

Me: “So the worrying never goes away?”

Therapist: “I’d say maybe around age 70.”

Me: “I have to wait until I’m 70?!”

Therapist: “No- until Nora is 70.”

Me: “But I’ll be dead.”

Therapist: “Exactly.”

Totally Imperceptible

Me (to myself, in the mirror): “Ok, this [insert any unsightly skin imperfection– zit, wrinkle, mole, scar] is really bothering me, but I’m sure it’s one of those things that only I notice, and it’s totally imperceptible to everyone else.” (Vow not to focus on it. Convince self it’s not even there.)

10 minutes later, wake Nora up.

Nora: <Opens eyes. Immediately zooms in on skin imperfection with sniper-like focus. Lunges at it with two hands. Slaps it. Twists it between her little devil fingers. Tries to yank it off. Bites at it. Cackles maniacally.>

img_1179-1