Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Katie #1 -- The Eye Has It

Katie arrived on a fall afternoon, in comfortable weather, on neither a hot day like George or a cold one like Maggie. She was as determinedly (pigheadedly??) posterior as George had been, but the birth was relatively easy, because at 5 3/4 pounds she was by more than two pounds the smallest of my children, a little pipsqueak. This earned her the nickname Pippi, and I must say that in sheer individuality of personality she resembles that storied character, though her hair is a lot more manageable :-D

I was a bit worried by her tiny size, which turned out to have been caused by a medical mis-communication. I had my blood drawn at the usual time during my pregnancy, and I was mildly anemic. But the midwives filed the results and forgot to mention them, so I didn't take additional iron supplements, and so Katie didn't grow as much as she might have. She was also the earliest-born of my children, at 38 weeks. (I tend to go more like 41 or 42 weeks.) I think she just wanted to get out and get something to eat. She gained a pound by her ten-day checkup!

But the size worry was minor compared to the worry about her left eye. Shortly after she was born I was holding her, doing the bonding-and-counting-the-fingers-and-toes thing, and when when she opened her eyes I saw a big, red, bump. I asked the midwife about it, and at first she thought I was talking about a broken blood vessel on the white of the eye, which can happen during birth. But this was NOT that! She eventually called a pediatrician she was associated with, who recommended a pediatric ophthalmologist about an hour's drive away. We called, an appointment was made, and two days after giving birth I dressed myself and Katie and a friend drove us to Dr. O's office for the first time.

I can't say enough good things about Dr. O. The very first time I met him, I was sitting in an examining chair holding tiny Katie on my lap. He was very gentle with her, waiting for her to rouse a little before examining her eye. His diagnosis, which he had confirmed by one of his medical school teachers, was an epibulbar dermoid. (Actually, hers is a much brighter pink than the picture, and bigger.) In layman's terms, "epibulbar dermoid" just means "skin on the eyeball". In her prenatal development, a few skin cells that were supposed to be somewhere else grew on her eye instead. It's not dangerous, and the only real problem as Dr. O described to me, is that her cornea, which should be shaped like a slice off a ball, is shaped more like the back of a spoon instead.

This mis-shaping of her eye leads to a very severe astigmatism. The "treatment" for this problem is simply glasses, and Katie got her first pair at five and a half months! They had lenses just a little bigger than nickels, and springlike earpieces that hooked all the way around her ears, and made her look cute as a button. As long as she kept them on, of course!

When we had George after three girls, everyone told us that boys are different from girls -- which is true. What nobody told us is that girls are different from girls, too. Our first three were basically even-tempered, well-behaved, quiet little ladies. Katie is feisty! She didn't like the glasses, and it took her about a week to learn to push them off. We got a sport headband called a Croakie, tailored it to fit her tiny frames, and heaved a sigh of relief. That lasted about another week.

Eventually we wound up wrapping paper medical tape around Katie's head from under the chin to the top of her (luckily still mostly hairless) head and back down, perpendicular to the Croakie. It was odd looking, but it mostly worked. I wish I could show you a picture, but I can't find one. I know Dr. O took one for his files, because he thought it was a great solution to a problem he sees regularly. We called her out little "tape head".

Back tomorrow with Katie part 2!


Jen said...

I don't know how you made eye problems in a baby so funny, but I laughed through the whole thing! I do hope you have a glasses baby picture somewhere. I'd love to see one.

My brother-in-law, Mikey, was born with eye problems too. His was an inability to keep his eyes straight and he has had to have quite a few surgeries on them. (I drove him to his last appointment, when he was eighteen, at the pediatric ophthalmologist. He was seventeen years older than every other patient. I asked him if he wanted to play with the dinosaurs in the waiting room.)

Lindsay said...

Do you happen to have any pictures of baby Katie with the glasses?? I bet she looks adorable. :o)

Anonymous said...

Hello from Texas!

I know you may not consider childless democrats from the South chief among your most devoted readers...but you should now!

I have been *so* blessed and entertained by your participation in NabKnobWishWash, or whatever it's called.

I have been returning anxiously each day and savoring each missive that has so beautifully and animatedly captured so many facets of parenthood and womanhood.

You are just great! Your whole family is beautiful; you have such a gorgeous and genuine smile and your daughters are every bit as beautiful. Handsome boys, too- and absolutely munchable grandbabies! That Camilla...I could put her on a ritz and have her for a snack, she is so precious.

Anyway, I don't have a blog but among the people I know personally who DO have one, they are always pleased to get comments and find out they have heretofore unknown readers.


Oh, by the by...I actually *did* get stuck with "Elizabeth Marie"... ; ^ )