Hiking Hacks, Sleep Reboots and Viral Vexations

Last week we took our toddler on his real first hike in Tahoe and he made a stellar effort, hiking nearly half the hike. We thought he was a real ninja, considering the blistering sun (thankfully covered in sun block and wearing his super hat!) and altitude.

I had been researching toddler friendly hikes around Lake Tahoe (or as L terms it "Lake Taco"), where we spent some splendid summer days and was a little disappointed at my results. Numerous hikes were deemed "family" or "child friendly" but didn't specify whether this included the tiny steps of tots. Hikes that were proffered as "toddler friendly"  didn't specify why and if they were also stroller friendly. For instance, the hike (which isn't really a hike but more like a tough promenade) down to Emerald Bay is toddler friendly because it is paved some of the way and while you endure elevation, the gradient is not steep so that your little tyke can walk the majority. It is also stroller friendly (depending on how much you use and abuse your stroller - our tired traveller has faced travails of various terrain around the world, including mountains and beaches). The Lighthouse Loop at D.L. Bliss is termed toddler friendly and our toddler walked half of the way, but it's certainly not stroller friendly. The hike itself is immeasurably beautiful, providing grand vistas of glistening azure Tahoe bordered by verdant Pines below incandescent, alabaster peaks (their grandeur best captured in an old Maori aphorism, 'long after man passes, the mountain remains').

When we couldn't use our stroller, I carried M, L walked and hubby carried supplies and when needed, our tired toddler. We kept him walking by diverting his attention away from his hurting legs to his treasure hunt - L having adopted my penchant for picking up rocks wherever he goes (so now when we finish any holiday, my hubby stands sentry as L and I have to undergo the painful process of culling our treasure, later invariably and clandestinely adding some stone stowaways to our luggage). I found one of the most enchanting rocks I have ever seen during the Lighthouse Loop hike, only to have lost it before it ended to my dire dismay (was it the universe informing me that all is fleeting?). Alas.

We decided to go with the single stroller, since any double stroller would be but a monstrosity on any hike and we hacked it to put both our kids in. We undid the back to its fullest extension and had little M sit far in the back, while L sat at the front with stern instruction not to sit back, which we supervised through the opening at the top of the stroller. They loved it and started tickling each other! This allowed some respite for weary little legs as well as parental arms.

Both boys dipped with us in the lake, which proved quite refreshing, and it was M's first swim in a natural body of water, to the tune of the giggles of a nearby gaggle and under a kaleidoscope of butterflies. L also had a first... he righteously threw up the contents of his breakfast as we increased in altitude in the serpentine road, stopping for relief next to a creek at El Dorado. I must admit that I'm quite emetophobic and had always feared the day motherhood would lead me to clean up my progeny's expulsion. However, I didn't mind cleaning L up at all and it didn't even make me gag. I remain befuddled, but it's good news, since I know this is merely the start of a long, smelly, dirty, journey.

After we returned from our holiday, we decided we've had enough of sleeping in our kids' beds, alternating between M and L and that we would reboot their sleeping habits. Unfortunately L got sick and I gave into cuddling him to sleep and sleeping in his bed all night, but we remained on target with the bub. He's about to turn one, so it's high time we all started getting uninterrupted sleep through the night. I am thankful and elated to say that we hacked M's night snacking which had remained a solid three session process for the past few months. The past several nights, I've only nursed him at midnight and then again at 6. Woohoo! That's 6 straight hours of sleep for moi and soon for hubby and M too, who endured a battle of the wills until M, despite his hunger, fell vanquished and
 succumbed to his slumber.

At the end of this month, it will be 6 months since L's been off the prophylactic antibiotics and on my breastmilk (which he drinks in his tanuki ninja cup) which his pediatric urologist had provided as a solid temporal period to measure in considering whether he should have surgery. We looked like we were going to pass through without any issue, when this week we endured a crisis.

It's always the same circus of chaos whenever L gets a fever of guessing whether L's fever is due to a virus or other infection or a UTI- and his case, with no barrier, pyelonephritis (thankfully, it was a virus he is beating). Every time L gets a fever, we're walking the tightrope of waiting to see whether it's a virus or whether he needs antibiotics, not wanting to medicate unnecessarily if he doesn't need antibiotics, but well aware that if he does and we prolong the process, he risks kidney scarring. What is a parent to do? No decision is perfect and each delivers its own risks, the consequences of which we know we chose. We take a cautious approach and watch for any other symptoms as we watch any rise in his fever. Now he's even old enough to tell us where his boo boos are, which is a great asset (does anything hurt? where does it hurt? does your ear hurt? your pee pee?). We also know how our son reacts when he is ill and he's reacted the same the few times he's had an infection - high, persistent fever, lethargy, malodorous urine being the main symptoms. So despite knowing that UTIs can present with low grade fever, he's never presented this way and we remained skeptical, albeit still worried and finally nearing the 48 hour mark of his first fever, stampeded into our pediatrics office to test him. Thankfully, he no longer requires a catheter, which was a traumatizing process for all of us and can provide his own sample, being fully potty trained (and for nearly a year now!). I told him we would be playing a game to see if he could aim his pee into the cup and my husband disinfected him and supervised his sampling (in truth he's more delicate and deliberate in these things than I am and was the better parent to attend to him). The problem is that particularly with uncircumcised males, you have a difficulty with obtaining an uncontaminated sample and simply knowing that there are higher leukocytes or nitrates doesn't provide an accurate result and you must wait for the culture to grow. The decision we face then, is do we wait until the culture returns or medicate before? We decided to wait it out because neither of us thought it was a UTI from the display of his symptoms and his previous history and were thankfully right, but each time we have to weigh the risks and are engulfed by looming stress. We're also well aware that L starts preschool in a number of weeks, and that kids being cesspools of bacteria and little whirlpools of viral infestations, we're going to go on this rollercoaster more often.


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