Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Garb

Let the record show that I went to work dressed as Dr. Taylor...

In scrubs and a lab coat and tennis shoes and a t-shirt that says, "Trust me, I'm a doctor."

I look totally legit. Someone asked me if I was Meredith Grey. We both wear blue scrub pants and have a lot of issues, so yes.

Zuzu went to school NOT in a costume because: "It is a rule at my school that we do not wear costumes."

(Interesting aside: Zuzu is somewhat more interested in following rules than she used to be, or at least interesting in exploring the concept of rules in conversation, particularly if she feels that she gets to help enforce them. She really loves making rules for others to follow.)

She did wear a Pumpkin-Jack-o-Lantern Shirt. And gray leggings with silver stars on them. And a black and white polka dot skirt. And turquoise socks with the Little Mermaid on them. And pink shiny tennis shoes. It's one of her more put together outfits that doesn't break all the rules of the color wheel, actually.

But now let's discuss the MOST SIGNIFICANT HALLOWEEN GARB:]

Coco went to school in big girl undies.


I am simultaneously DELIGHTED to be finished with washing disgusting cloth diapers (even with using a flushable liner, they are disgusting), and DELIGHTED to be finished with purchasing disposable diapers to use overnight and on the go, and DEVASTATED that mah baybee is less babyish.

In other words, we're so happy. It's liberating and awesome and also a creeping reminder of my own mortality.

Oh, nice. Way to take potty-training to a really dark place. YOU'RE WELCOME. Happy Halloween.

(I got up at 5am this morning to grade papers and I am jazzed up on caffeine and the somewhat successful teaching of "To His Coy Mistress" this morning, so apologies for the shout-caps and incoherence.)

I'd also like to take a moment to share the most important words of parenting wisdom that I have learned in my time:

It's not you. It's them.

What did I do to potty-train my two-year-old?


Certainly much less than I did to potty train two-and-a-half year old Zuzu. (I'd link to it, but I'm doing this on my phone, so just check out potty training posts in the archives circa December of 2014. So frustrating!) I gave it my all and then I gave up and Zu wasn't potty trained until after she was three.

They truly made up their own minds.

After my experience with Zuzu, I would have said we'd work on Coco next summer. But girlfriend was READY. I did nothing except put her in underwear and say, "Doesn't it feel good to keep your undies dry?" when she peed on the potty.

And (I seriously would want to smack me right now if I were reading this two years ago, so please feel free to stop reading) she went all day without an accident. Even with trick or treating and everything. The child is a marvel.

I'll recap Halloween tomorrow. We had a fun night but it ended with a plumbing disaster in the kitchen that David is still dealing with. Happy Halloween to us!

Friday, October 28, 2016

No Good Card for This

I'm not sure how many people read the comments on this blog, or how many of you saw Melissa's comment on my last post about the loss of her daughter, Evelyn. I read her comment and thought "There is nothing I can possibly do or say to make this easier for her."

I'm living this reality every day, but sometimes my first impulse is still to think, "I have no idea. I can't even imagine how someone copes with the loss of their baby."

It's not that I forget for a moment about Eliza, or about the reality that I've lost a baby. It's just that I don't know what I could possibly say that might be helpful in such an impossible situation.

I still get e-mails, blog comments, and sometimes texts or phone calls from friends or friends-of-friends or blog readers telling me that someone they know and love has lost a baby, and often they want advice: "What can I do to help them?"

I always feel completely blank at first. Then I try to come up with some advice... Don't say "Everything happens for a reason." Don't expect them to be okay again in six months. Or a year. Don't be afraid to say their baby's name even though you feel awkward. Don't make it about you. Put it on your google calendar so you remember and acknowledge their baby's birthday. 

My friend Beth was the one who said something like, "I know it's hard to hear about other people's kids, so I'm not going to talk about Lilly unless you bring it up first." I felt like that was such a gift--to acknowledge how painful it was for me, not to make me sit, tense, just bracing myself to "act normal" if Lilly came into the conversation, and not to make me feel like an asshole about not being able to talk about her daughter (who was just over a year old when Eliza died).

But when Beth got breast cancer, even though I'm almost six years into this so I should pretty much have a PhD in What to Do When Life Gets Shitty, the first thing I felt (besides scared and sad) was panicky that I was going to handle this wrong.

So if you've ever been in that place of "How do I help my friend?", here is a book that you can put on your wishlist (or gift list) (or both):

There Is No Good Card for This by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell (It's not released until January, so it won't work for Christmas unless you give vouchers. But you can preorder!)

Related: I want to order half a dozen of those enamel pins she's selling now and keep them and wear them and give them away. They are so great. I especially like this one, this one, this one, and this one.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Three Challenging Things to Read

1) Children Don't Always Live (from The New York Times). I had two blog readers send me this link. I've read the article at least five times now, and I cried the first three times I read it. It's so exactly true. This sentence particularly spoke to me: "I had a child die, and I chose to become a father again. There can be no greater definition of stupidity or bravery; insanity or clarity; hubris or grace."

2) Church Pastor: The Truth About My Late-Term Abortion. For me, this article isn't just about the presidential election or the maddening comments made in the last debate, but about the definition of motherhood and the importance of trusting women to make incredibly difficult choices about what happens to their bodies and their unborn babies. I think there is this vague notion of the "type of woman" who chooses to have an abortion, but the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of women in that position are not frolicking around trying to escape the responsibilities of motherhood with some kind of "convenient" surgery. They may in fact be bereaved mothers making an incredibly sad choice that is also the right choice for their health, their future, and their families. I don't usually get political here because I know that internet comments could make me angry and hurt my feelings (and because you all already know I'm a liberal feminist, right?) but this article really got to me. I think it tells such an important and often unspoken story.

3) I've recently signed up to be part of We Stories in St. Louis, and I think the organization and its purpose is great, but I also recognize the weirdness of affluent white families wanting to figure out how to talk to their kids about race. This essay, "How To Discuss Race As a White Person" articulates that discomfort better than I could.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Some of This, Some of That

Oh, man. I get busy and I don't post for a while and then I have SO MUCH TO SAY but also nothing important, really, and I need to go to the grocery store tonight partly because I'm a coffee snob now and partly because the girls are out of yogurt and if we can't eat microwaved silver dollar pancakes with a dab of yogurt on each one for breakfast, we might spontaneously combust.

I wanted to report on parent teacher conferences and talk about how things are going for Zuzu this year as opposed to last year (SPOILER: if you start out biting your friends and then the next year you stop, you've set the bar so low that everyone is SUPER IMPRESSED and relieved). But also Coco is looooooving the toddler house so much and she's so freaking independent that it kind of makes me want to cry, out of nostalgia and occasionally frustration. "No, Coco self!" is the sentence most often uttered in our home. But she's just now shifted from saying "Carry you" to saying "Carry me" when she is feeling lazy about going up the stairs and she's just getting so big.

Still no bangs, though, so until she grows bangs she will always be my BAYBEE.

Also she has finally (FINALLY) stopped crying at morning drop off. Now she slays me another way--by requesting hugs and kisses, "One more hug! Kiss! One more hug! Kiss!" It's so freaking adorable and I basically want to kiss her face off for about 30 minutes, but I usually have to break away and run to my car. She always looks disappointed when I leave, but she's not crying, and I know that she's happy immediately after. I asked her yesterday what her favorite part of the day was and she said, "Marcia! Linda!" (the names of her two teachers) so that was pretty freaking cute.

I'm still swamped with grading here.

Also, I'm committed to working out 150 minutes a week with a student personal trainer which is going exactly as well as can be expected. Read: It's terrible. My muscles hurt, I'm always sore, and I can't get my college student to really make conversation with me, so I'm just going to give up and start listening to the Hamilton soundtrack during my workouts. I'm full out fangirl obsessed with that musical now, and I completely geeked out over the PBS special on it.

David's working late all week, and I got crazy last night and skipped out to see Don't Think Twice because I'm a crazy wild person who does crazy wild things like seeing a movie on a weeknight. Coco came running out of the house with no pants on to give me one more hug and kiss, and she did actually cry when I drove away and David carried her back inside. The movie was good, though it was heavy on secondhand embarrassment, which is hard on my friend Erin, who saw it with me.

She was pantless because we are doing the potty-training learning thing. My plan is to get hardcore this weekend when my parents are here and we have all hands on deck. The only downside is that Grammy and Bops tend to be pretty fun and distracting, so we'll see how this goes. I can tell you that she's already a year ahead of her sister in this area (not that I compare my children to see how they measure up to each other in some kind of unhealthy competition--I'm just saying that so far Coco is THE EASY ONE when it comes to sleeping and potty training, knock on wood, spit in the devil's eye, and all of that).

Yesterday I had a unexpectedly fantastic and unanticipated discussion with my students about race, dialect, and white privilege that all stemmed from the lyrics to a Nelly song ("Forty acres and a mule? F*** that, forty acres and a pool!"). I felt kind of unequipped to lead it, but I still think it was a useful and important conversation to have.

I just finished listening to the Accused podcast, which was pretty fascinating. I was asking my mom what she remembers about living through the serial killer peak of the late '70s (her answer: not much... the media were different than they are today). David's grandparents were living in Wichita at the time, so they were there during the BTK killing spree and he remembers his grandma, mom, and aunt being anxious about it. It's wild to me how much our perceptions don't match reality, since most people think that we live in a more dangerous world today than we did thirty or forty years ago, and that's just not true. Also, one expert on the show hypothesized that the reason so many serial killers peaked at that point in time is that had been parented by traumatized WWII war vets. Also known as the greatest generation, right? So that's weird to think about.

In other, less violent, news, I've utterly given up on picking out Zuzu's clothes. It's gotten to the point where it doesn't matter how many choices I give her, she wants to put her own outfits together. In fact, if I lay something out (even something I know she likes) she won't consider it. Today's choice was a sleeveless dress, so I told her it was chilly and she needed sleeves. So then she elected to wear the red dress with a bright pink shirt under it. She finished off the outfit with aqua polka-dot leggings, purple socks, and gold shoes. My eyeballs hurt from the assault, but I am doing my best to embrace this form of self-expression. I'm also grateful that Coco still lets me make clothing choices for her--though she came up with this pose all on her own. Such a little ham.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

To Live In This World

I'm dedicating today's post to Share's Walk of Remembrance, which I'll be attending with my family on Saturday, and to the Wave of Light, which I'll also be participating in Saturday as part of the effort to shatter the stigma of infertility and pregnancy loss.

This post is part of a blog tour to mark October as the month of pregnancy and infant loss awareness. You can read more about it and view all the bloggers who are participating by clicking here.


When Eliza died, I stopped moving. I left the hospital and somehow I walked in my house, but then I kept still. I sat, stunned, in a frozen stupor for a long time. I did that thing where you stare and stare and you don't have to blink because your eyes are full of tears. I did that thing where you can't get off the couch and you can't change your clothes and you can't eat because when life is unbearable everything makes you want to vomit, and you especially can't eat one more godforsaken pan of sympathy-laden lasagna, or choke down one more piece of pineapple from an arrangement of condolence fruit (mostly because pineapple tastes like happiness and happiness tastes like ashes in your mouth). I resented gentle suggestions that I should take a walk, open the blinds, allow the blood to circulate in my veins. I was in shock, perhaps, but I think I was also convinced that if I just held completely still, I could stop time from going on without my baby.

I recently reread a Mary Oliver poem that made me think a lot about those early grief days, when all I wanted was to turn back time and get everything back to the way it was before. I was still clinging to Plan A with everything I had. Plan B was a dark hellhole and I wanted no part of it. I tried not to move, tried not to live Plan B. Instead, I would sit still and read poetry and avoid thinking about seasons changing without Eliza here.

Oliver ends her poem "In Blackwater Woods" like this:

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the times comes to let it go,
to let it go.

The first time I read this poem, I wanted to shred it. Or spit on it. Or slash it out with a black marker. My baby was dead and I'd held her in my arms and I'd touched her cold, tiny fingers with their tiny purple fingernails and I would have traded my life for hers and this fucking poem is telling me to let it go?

It wasn't just impossible. It was completely offensive.

This poem knew nothing of my grief, of the particular brand of grief that spins into existence when the timing of a loss is completely wrong and backwards and the only explanation is that we've entered an alternate reality and we have to stop moving forward so that we can go back and fix it. I shouldn't have let her go. I should have held her tighter and slipped through a wormhole with her into an alternate dimension--back into the real world, my world--where everything was working out the way it was supposed to.

In other words: You say let it go, I say go fuck yourself.

And now... It's been six years. And yes, I see the poem differently. Mostly because I'm looking forward again, and six years ago I couldn't imagine anything but trying to undo the timeline of my life.

Now I think, this poem isn't offering advice. It is simply presenting the rules for survival. I hated the poem for being right about what I needed to do, because I was nowhere near ready to do it.

I've got the loving-what-is-mortal part down. And I know--perhaps better than most--what it is to hold that tiny, mortal being against my bones.

I struggle with the letting go.

How can I possibly let go of my dream, my plan, my life, my baby?

The answer is that we don't have to let go of the important stuff. Not the love and not the grief. But we do have to let go that desperate, breath-holding, fist-clenching hope that we are about to get a do-over. That unspeakable belief that somewhere, someone will realize this terrible, horrifying mistake and make it right. Eventually, we have to stop digging in our heels and turning our faces away from the sun. Eventually, we start walking down a new path, and we start opening our eyes not just to an unfamiliar landscape that holds both terror and beauty, but also to the community of people who join us there.

I don't like the word "acceptance" with all its implications that we can just sort of shrug and "c'est la vie" our way forward when the world has crumbled to ruins around us.

But I am starting--slowly and begrudgingly (and, mercy, it's already been almost six years so maybe I'm slower than most)--to come around to the idea of letting go of Plan A and all the preconceived notions and confident expectations that went along with it. I can't change Eliza's death. I can't turn back time and right the wrong and become the person I was before. And although I'll never stop missing her and wanting her here, I have to let go of what I thought my life would be with her here.

To do otherwise would be to freeze myself in the most devastating moment of my life, and to do that, supposing I could stand it, would fail to acknowledge all the good that has come into my life alongside the grief--including Eliza's sisters.

None of this justifies Eliza's death or makes it acceptable. But six years has allowed gratitude to interweave itself with grief in a way that I could never have predicted or imagined. I know now--though it still makes my heart itch to think about it--that I have had to let go of my old life (the life without babyloss) to make the space for this one.

This is the price we pay for being human and existing in this world: we will have our hearts broken. Life will be impossibly unfair and disappointing. Where there is love, there will be grief. Some of us will experience it more often, more harshly, more unexpectedly than others. Some of us will feel so broken that we think with absolute certainty we'll never recover. And I'm not saying that we should stop trying to right the wrongs. But grief is its own form of love.

And to love what is mortal, to hold it against our bones knowing that we may have to give it up without warning, is to live the biggest life possible.

We must--eventually--let go of old expectations to make room for a new version of happiness. It happens slowly (painfully slowly). And it's not perfect. It's not abundant recompense. It's not even a consolation prize. It's just the truth of this world. We only get this one life. It's fragile and it's full of uncertainty. Just when we think we know the next step, we're exposed as fools (and I really hate feeling foolish). The best we can do is let go of the fear, open ourselves up to love, and do it again.

None of us will get through this life unscathed, and yet still we love what is mortal as though our lives depended on it.

Because, of course, they do.


Thank you for reading about babyloss and not just pretending that life is awesome and that bad things don't happen all the time.

Special thanks to those friends and kindred spirits who showed up in person or emerged from the ether of the internet to help nudge me out of that frozen stupor in the very early days of grief--Abby, Keya, Cailin, Monica, Kate, Jill, Sarah, Brandy, Laura, and Angie.

I hope you'll all take a moment to read what Christine wrote earlier this week about grief and rainbows and highs and lows of grieving one son while parenting another. Also, please check Justine's blog tomorrow--she organized this whole blog tour and I'm grateful that she let me be a part of it.

If you participate in the Share walk this weekend, look for me there (!) and post your photos using #ShareWalk2016.

If you have a candle, a lighter/match/piece of flint, and a social media account, it would mean so much to me if you would be part of the Wave of Light at 7:00pm by posting a photo with #WaveofLight #pregnancyandinfantlossawareness (hashtags for terrible things are, by definition, kind of terrible).

And, finally, if you're missing your baby, or having trouble letting go of the life that you expected, I hope you feel the love and light coming your way.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Conversations with Zuzu

Bilingual Baby

Scene: Girls talking in the dining room.

Zuzu: Coco, do you want to play Elsa and Anna?

Coco: (unintelligible)

Zuzu: Coco, do you want to play Elsa and Anna?

Coco: (unintelligible)

Zuzu: (getting irritated) Coco! Do you want to play Elsa and Anna?

Coco: (unintelligible)

Zuzu: Coco, are you speaking Spanish?

Storytelling Game in the Car Leaves Parent Speechless

Zuzu: Once upon a time there was a baby boy, and he was so shy he stayed in his mom's tummy and the next day he was born, but when the doctor saw him he was so shy he wanted to go back in his mom's privates, but the doctor wouldn't let him... And then what happened?

New Bra, Thank You Very Much

Scene: In our kitchen, getting ready for work. I'm wearing a somewhat fitted striped, knit, crewneck shirt and a button-up jean skirt.

Zuzu: Mommy, your boobies are sticking out a little.

Me: What?

Zuzu: They must be full of food!

Lyrical Genius

Zuzu: I'm going to sing you a song that will be your favorite things. It's about superheroes and mermaids and Christmas and holiday little kitty cats.

Tattling, Reporting, or Inventing?

Zuzu: I saw Coco push Olivia at school today!

Me: Oh, my. Coco, did you push Olivia?

Coco: (grinning cheerfully) Yas!

Me: (unconvinced) And what did you do when you saw this, Zuzu?

Zuzu: I didn't do anything but stand still like a statue. Because I was taking a break from running. And I saw Coco push Olivia and I stood so still like a statue and I didn't move my body. But I was freakin' out!

Call It Like You See It

Zuzu: Can I watch a show when we get home?

Me: No.

Zuzu: Why not?

Me: Why do you think?

Zuzu: Because you're mean?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Henoch-Schonlein Purpura: It's Just As Cute As It Sounds

It started three weeks ago when Zuzu ran away from soccer practice and ended up with a bunch of chigger bites on her legs and bottom.

She had a bath right away when she got home that night, but the next night she had a baby sitter and David and I went to parents' night at the girls' school. So it was Friday before I really looked at her legs/bottom again, and I was shocked at how red and angry the bites looked. I treated them with Benadryl gel and some Neosporin over the weekend.

On Monday she had a doctor's appointment to get her four-year-old vaccinations, plus a flu shot. I pointed out the bug bites on her legs to the doctor and he didn't seem concerned. He said I could keep using Benadryl or Neosporin.

On Wednesday we got a call from her school around lunch time that she had a fever. I picked her up and she slept all day. I figured it could be related to the vaccinations or it could just be a back-to-school virus. David stayed home with her on Thursday. She didn't run a fever again, even without tylenol, and she didn't complain about her bites. She wasn't scratching or messing with them at all, which surprised me, because they didn't seem to be getting better.

On Friday, our friends Julie and Cate flew in from Minnesota for a weekend visit. The girls played together on Friday, and I showed Julie how bad Zuzu's bug bites looked. Some were getting better, but others almost looked like they had bruises around them. But I reminded myself that the doctor had just seen her on Monday and hadn't been concerned. Plus, I was taking extra care to keep them clean and medicate them, and I was sending her to school in leggings even though it was warm enough for bare legs, just because I wanted to protect them from being exposed to more dirt.

On Saturday, all the girls played hard at the Magic House in the morning. That afternoon, I put on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood so Julie and I could have some uninterrupted conversation. Zuzu fell asleep, which was unusual. She wasn't really herself for the rest of the day, either. She occasionally complained that her tummy hurt, and didn't have much of an appetite. We went to Forest Park that afternoon and all the girls ran around and played, but Zuzu complained that her legs hurt. I figured she was just tired because they'd been up  late on Friday.

On Sunday, we said good-bye to Julie and Cate and Zuzu seemed okay, just kind of droopy. But she complained about her ankle, and I realized that it looked bruised and swollen. I made David look at it, and we wondered out loud if kids could sprain their ankles? It seems like their ligaments are so stretchy that it's pretty rare for a preschooler to have a sprain, right? I put ice on it and propped her foot up on a pillow while reading to her in bed that night.

She seemed to be feeling better on Monday, but I was getting worried that the bug bites didn't seem to be healing properly. Some of them seemed to be getting worse, and instead of looking like bug bites, they were definitely morphing into some kind of rash.

By Wednesday, we were back at the doctor. He took one look at her, said that it was an allergic reaction plus a mild staph infection. He prescribed an antibiotic ointment to be put on three times a day.

We ran through the little tube in about two days because the bites/rash were all over her legs, the backs of her arms/elbows, and her bottom. On Friday, I called the pharmacy to get a refill, but my insurance didn't want to pay for a refill so soon, so I had to call the doctor's office, and then the pharmacist ended up having to call my insurance, and it was Saturday afternoon before we could pick up another tube of it. Over the weekend, I continued to smear it on her every morning and every night, plus once after school, and the rash was not improving. In fact, there were red lines where the elastic of her undies seemed to have irritated her skin (something that had never happened before). I was having her sleep in loose-fitting pajama pants and no undies, but it still hadn't improved.

On Sunday she got stung by a bee while outside eating a popsicle. She'd been stung last year, too, so I fussed over her while she cried and got her an ice pack and put some lavender oil on it and let her watch PJ Masks. I wasn't too concerned about her having an allergic reaction or anything because we'd already been through this once. But this time she got an angry red rash in almost a square shape a few inches across, all around the bee sting. Plus she took off her shoes that evening and told me her feet hurt and she had red spots on one toe and the arch of the other foot. I started wondering if she could have gotten something else, or if I had assumed they were chigger bites when maybe they were some other kind of terrible insect (watching Stranger Things around this time was probably not great for my imagination). I also started googling symptoms of all the things that really scare me: lymphoma, leukemia, MRSA, meningitis...

The only thing that kept me from losing my mind with fear/worry is that she never ran another fever, and she never complained about the rash--never said it hurt or itched or tickled. She was completely unfazed even though I wanted to cry when I looked at her legs and bottom. It was the weirdest thing.

Monday morning, I called and spoke with a nurse. She thought maybe it could be HFM if I was seeing red spots on her feet, even though I explained that they didn't look like HFM when my other daughter had it. These spots weren't like blisters or scabs--they were more like bruises. She told me to give her Zyrtec for the bee sting and keep using the Mupirocin ointment and to call back Wednesday if things didn't improve.

Monday night when she took of her pants before the bath, I gasped. In addition to the bee sting area still being red and angry, she had red lines around her legs where the elastic of her socks or bottom of her leggings had been. This was NOT normal. We were coming up on three weeks from her last soccer practice, and while some bites seemed to have healed and faded, others were looking worse, and I just knew something else was going on.

Tuesday we were back at the doctor. This time David came with us because I was kind of freaking out. The doctor assured me that she wasn't contagious, it wasn't a flesh-eating bacteria, MRSA, or leprosy. But he said it was "very unusual." He referred us to a pediatric dermatologist and he didn't let us leave his office until his receptionist had called and set up an appointment for us on Thursday afternoon.

After leaving the doctor, I sent a photo of Zuzu's legs to my friend Erin, telling her I was freaking out and that we'd been referred to a specialist at Children's.

"That looks like a rash my sister had when she was little," Erin replied. "Allergic purpura."

I started googling.

It turns out that Allergic Purpura is now called Henoch-Schonlein Purpura. It's named after the two German doctors who discovered it, but "purpura" means small blood vessels are leaking into the skin. I read WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, and the Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center website and just KNEW that's exactly what we were dealing with. All the pieces fit. She had every single symptom, though I realized that I had probably neglected to report her tummy ache or complaints about her legs hurting to our doctor. When he asked if she was complaining, I'd been so focused on the rash that I had kind of blown off her mild appetite loss and occasional whining about her legs hurting--poor little punkin!

Thursday afternoon, I took Zuzu to Children's Hospital and the dermatologist, three residents, a med student, and a nurse all gathered in the room to see her "classic presentation" of Henoch-Schonlein Purpura. The dermatologist also told me (unprompted) that our pediatrician "knows what HSP is" and "is an excellent physician" but that the bands around her ankles had thrown him off (which is also what freaked me out) so he wanted a second opinion.

It was a little funny when the first resident came in because I'd prepped Zuzu by telling her that the doctor was a woman; however, the resident who talked with us first was a tall Indian guy with a five-o'clock shadow. Zuzu did a quick double-take and then said to me loudly, "Mommy, is that a boy?" so I had to explain her confusion.

She was an awesome patient, letting them examine her and sitting quietly during my conversation with the doctors. I was really proud of her and how well behaved she was all afternoon.

So here's the thing: HSP is the inflammation of blood vessels that leak into the skin, causing what looks like a rash with yucky raised bumps, but they are actually under the skin rather than on the surface. The rash doesn't itch or hurt, but it can cause pain in joints and the gut as vessels leak there and cause swelling and lack of appetite. In some cases, it can cause kidney damage. There is no known cause for HSP. It's sometimes associated with upper-respiratory infections, but it has also been associated with vaccinations (specifically measles and chicken pox, both of which she had) AND insects bites. There's no recommended treatment, either. It usually lasts 4-6 weeks, but she could experience flare ups (including rash, achy legs, and loss of appetite) that may come and go for up to 6 months.

There are no known genetic causes (so Coco isn't more or less likely to get this) and no significant health issues to be concerned about in the future, except for this potential kidney damage. The dermatologist told me it was "quite rare" and then quoted "something like 10% of cases" which felt like a HUGE number to me, since I now face with the world with the understanding that the odds of anything bad happening to me or my family that are 1/160 or greater are basically guaranteed to occur.

My skewed logic aside, the doctors didn't seem too concerned about it since her appetite has improved and she hasn't had any sign of blood in her urine or anything like that. Still, we headed down to the lab to have blood work and a urinalysis.

I'd been to this lab at Children's hospital once before, when Coco was a teeny baby, and I felt the same way when I was there with her--terrified and also grateful. You see these parents there with kids who are visibly ill and although I haven't walked in those shoes, I can imagine the fear and the hope and the desire to learn everything you can but also to maybe protect yourself from knowing too much and being able to control so little.

Zuzu was a champ about her blood draw and made a really good effort to pee in a "hat" to collect her urine sample, but we ended up having to do it at home. My parents dropped off the specimen at the lab the next day.

Her blood tests have come back with everything in the normal range, and we see the pediatrician once more next week, at which time I hope we'll get the results of her urinalysis. The "rash" is already looking better, although her ankle was a bit swollen again Thursday night after she had a tumbling class.

I feel mostly relieved to have a clear diagnosis and thankful that it's not anything more serious. Of course, I've already run through the worst-case in my head (dialysis and kidney transplant), but it's been pretty easy not to dwell on that stuff because she feels/acts so normal 98% of the time. I'm now hyper aware of her complaints of a "stummy-ache," and she's catching on to that because she told me the other night that she had a "stumm-ache" and the only thing that would fix it was to eat chips for dinner.

Anyway, this HSP thing is also funny because most people have never heard of it, but I've also met three people who have known someone who had it (it mostly occurs in kids, but supposedly is more common in boys than girls). So I thought I'd put it out there (if you've made it all the way through this looooong post)--anyone know someone who has had HSP? My friend Erin's sister made a full recovery and had no further issues with it her whole life, so I hope that Zuzu is heading in that same direction.