Do you ever have one of those weeks that feels like it just won't quit knocking you down? That was our week. It was stressful, exhausting, worrisome and one for the books.
The craziness started Monday night. Rob had an evening work meeting that meant he wouldn't have a chance to see Dessa that night. I wanted to give Dessa a little bit of time with her Daddy, so we packed into the car and went to share dinner with Rob at work.
After a nice family dinner, Dessa and I made a surprise visit to see Rob's parents. Just as I was turning the corner into their subdivision, I noticed that the car was running funny. And not in the ha ha way – in the uh-oh something is wrong way. The engine sort of sputtered as I pressed on the gas and a second later surged in sort of a delayed response. I was relieved to pull into Rob's parents' driveway a few minutes later.
Dessa had the best time visiting with her grandparents (especially the family dog). While she was playing, I noticed spots on her thigh and later I saw that Dessa had gotten a few small spots on each of her cheeks as well. The marks on her cheeks looked a bit like acne and they had popped up out of the blue. I wasn't sure why she was starting to break out, but I figured it wasn't anything that a little children's Benadryl couldn't fix. I left Dessa with Rob's parents and ran to CVS.
That's when the car really started acting up. We just had the transmission replaced on our family G6 this winter and the way our Focus was acting on the ride to the store was all too familiar. The engine would be slow to respond and then quickly kick into gear and rev for no apparent reason while I was driving. I texted Rob and told him that I would not be driving home – he would have to come pick us up after his meeting.
The rest of the evening was a very long whirlwind. We made it home safe, but very late, with both cars. We tucked Dessa into bed and saved the car drama for another day.
Tuesday arrived with a bang. Or rather, an outbreak. When we walked in to get Dessa out of her crib, we were mortified to see that her arms and legs were covered with hives. We fed her breakfast and anxiously waited for the doctor's office to open. All the while, we watched in horror as the spots on her arms and legs spread, swelled, and grew darker in color.
After a worrisome couple of hours (right before we were ready to head to the emergency room), the nurse at our pediatrician's office told us to come right in. We met with Dessa's doctor who examined her and said she strongly suspected it was a food allergy. She prescribed Dessa an oral steroid and told us to give her Benadryl every six hours around the clock to get the hives under control. We were also told to call her if Dessa had any swelling around the mouth or difficulty breathing. Rob worked from home and I took care of Dessa, while trying unsuccessfully to squeeze in any time to work on the blogs or classroom projects. It was a frustrating and we were both exhausted when we crashed into bed that night.
I took this photo on Friday morning – when Dessa's hives were looking substantially better than when they began. Our poor baby girl was absolutely coated with puffy red spots on Tuesday.
Once we had some peace with Dessa, it was time to turn our attention to the dreaded car. Rob dropped the Focus off at the local dealership first thing Wednesday morning so they could diagnose the problem. A few hours later, our suspicions were confirmed – it was the transmission and it was not good.
Thank goodness we've been following Dave Ramsey's financial advice because we already had a plan (and savings) in place to purchase a new car. Once we became a family of three, we quickly realized that we needed at least one vehicle with extra space. We don't want to pay out the nose to fill a vehicle with gas, so our sights have been set on a minivan. I've been keeping my eyes open off and on since December, but we dragged our feet on purchasing a new (used) minivan because it just didn't feel like we needed it yet. So we've gradually been adding a few hundred dollars every month into our new vehicle sinking fund, figuring we would be able to purchase a van with a few more bells & whistles when the time came.
Now, it was apparent that the time had COME. As luck would have it, the dealer repair shop we had taken the car to happened to have the exact make and model of a minivan that I had been eyeing – in the color I wanted. I waited until Dessa was down for her nap and drove over to the dealership for a test drive while Rob worked from home. I took the van for a spin and loved it, so I asked for out the door pricing, including taxes and any fees. Then I drove home, told Rob how much I loved it, and sent him to the dealership so he could go for a test drive. He stopped at the bank for a cashier's check on his way. Fast forward a few hours and we were the proud owners of a 2014 Chrysler Town & Country.
Normally, spending so much cash on a car is a big deal and worth celebrating. At that point, I didn't really have the energy to care about the shiny new car in the driveway. My hands were too full to celebrate.
Wednesday Afternoon – Thursday
I honestly don't remember much about that 36 hour time span. I just know that I was unshowered at home with a baby still covered in hives who was sometimes happy, sometimes miserable, took terrible naps and usually hated taking her medicine.
After such a long week, Rob and I were both overjoyed when Friday finally rolled around. Unlike Thursday, I had finally showered and was trying to wrangle Dessa that morning so we could make it to a follow-up dermatologist appointment for her hemangioma. I had big, big hopes of taking Dessa into school to work on a classroom design project after her appointment. Dessa was extra cranky that morning, and her appointment fell smack dab in the middle of her naptime. Time kept ticking by and I realized that there was NO WAY I could get everything packed in the van that we would need to accomplish anything at school with a baby in tow. At this point, I had been without childcare for the better part of the week (as a precaution due to Dessa's hives), was light years behind in my work for the blogs, and feeling pretty overwhelmed. I once again said goodbye to my goals for the day and managed to get a very fussy baby dressed and in the car for her doctor's appointment.
After all that work, I settled in to the driver's seat and was determined to enjoy my inaugural drive in the new van. I inserted the key in the ignition, turned the key, and slowly realized that the car wasn't starting. I tried and tried and tried, but the engine wouldn't turn over and the car refused to start.
The car we had just spent several thousand dollars on would not start.
As I sat helplessly in the van that refused to start with Dessa, I called Rob to tell him that our brand new-to-us van wouldn't start. It had been a long, long week and the dead battery in the van was the last straw, I burst into tears and hung up on Rob as soon as I spit the message out about what was wrong. Rob left work to rush home for what felt like the billionth time this week (I swear he was in our house more than he was at the office during all of the craziness). He jumped the van, then took it to get the battery replaced. Rob returned to work for the afternoon while I took care of a fussy baby who refused to nap in her crib and would only sleep if I walked in circles through the house while wearing her in our Ergo carrier.
I truly believed that the arrival of the weekend and having Rob at the house would help to ease things up a bit. But then Saturday and Sunday proved to be just as much of a challenge as the rest of the week.
Dessa usually sleeps a solid 10 hours every night, but woke up screaming one night at 11:30pm, settled back down for a bottle and awoke in tears once again at 5:15am. We pulled out all the stops to try and calm her down, but it didn't make any difference. Dessa also pretty much abandoned her naps this weekend. She'd rub her eyes and go down without too much fuss, but start screaming endlessly after a few minutes until someone came in to get her. Normally we would give her a little tough love, but is sick, so we've been getting her during a screaming fit and hoping that this isn't our new normal.
After five days of Benadryl and steroids, we made a return to the pediatrician. Since the meds didn't seem to have much of an effect, they now suspect that her hives were not actually a food allergy, but most likely caused by a virus which just needs to run its course.
Which, I suppose is better than a long-term food allergy. But it's also frustrating because there is literally nothing we can do to make it better. And we still have plans to look into possible food allergies just in case.
So here we are on Monday. I spent the day at home again with Dessa, whose hives are finally beginning to subside. We have big plans to head up to northern Michigan for the 4th of July and spend some time with my family. Dessa has a couple of cousins who we are so excited to spend time with, but trip is on hold until Dessa's hives finally clear up. And as an extra-fun bonus: our other car suddenly started acting up and we fear the transmission is blown on it, as well. (If you're taking notes – YES we do mean the G6 that we just had the transmission replaced on this past winter. And yes, the new transmission came with a warranty – which expired about a month ago.)
Rays of Sunshine
Despite all of the frustrations of the past week, we know we are so incredibly blessed. Our finances are in order and we have a savings for practically everything. The van has been paid for in full and we have enough money in savings to buy a junky car to get us through if the G6 is about to meet its final demise. We are so thankful every day that we discovered Dave Ramsey and can handle unexpected financial setbacks without it becoming a crisis.
And, as for Dessa, it has certainly been a tough week for her. Not that she has had a fever or been very uncomfortable (except for that one awful morning). She just hasn't had a chance to see anyone except Rob and I until she gets better. And it's been so unbearably hot in Michigan this past week, she's hardly had any time to go outside and get some fresh air.
Despite all that, there have definitely been a few precious rays of sunshine for our sweet girl.
She took her first steps on Friday – right before bedtime, which officially made for the most difficult milestone photo I've ever taken of her.
We also gave Dessa her first-ever bath in the big tub as a special treat for being cooped up in the house for so long. She loved every moment of it and I'm not sure we will ever be able to get her back in the kitchen sink.
Our cozy family room/play room on the second floor of our bungalow is nicely coming together and the Ektorp loveseat we ordered from IKEA arrived on Saturday. Dessa loved watching Rob assemble the sofa and she had a great time climbing on the cushions while he worked. (It's the first piece of upholstered furniture we have ever bought from IKEA and will keep you posted on our thoughts about the loveseat.)
We've lost most of our childcare until Dessa is completely recovered, which means I've been spending a lot more one-on-one time with her. I especially love watching her chase a stray toy into her nursery, only to become completely captivated by the books in her basket.
I've also been letting her get into a bit more mischief than usual – like emptying her diaper bag and helping herself to the food I had packed.
Ok, so the past 8 days haven't exactly been the best time for our family. But we've still had some pretty magical moments and we are so incredibly blessed. Now, if we can just get rid of those crummy hives and get the car straightened out, we will be all set.