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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Little Man's Big Day

I laid with my daughter last night before bed, and explained to her that when she woke up this morning my mom would be at the house because Mommy and Daddy had to take her baby brother to the hospital to get another boo-boo fixed. 
Her: "Is he sick Mommy?"
Me: "No baby, but he has another owie inside his mouth, and the doctors need to fix it so he can eat and talk like you do."
Her: "He's going to cry."

And cry he has.  Today has been long and rough.  We woke up before 4:00 am.  My husband and I got ourselves and both kids packed, since our daughter is staying with my parents while we are in the hospital with our son.  Just before we left we woke, changed, and put him in his car seat for our 40 minute drive to the hospital.  He was in great spirits, "talking" to us all the way here.  Our moods, however, were a little less cheerful.

As we drove I started to think about how different our son is this time.  He was only 3 months old for his first surgery.  He didn't do much more than eat, sleep and dirty diapers.  He had begun to smile and interact by then, but he still slept through most of his days.  His personality had just begin to surface.  Today (7 months later) he is a tiny little person with a big personality.  He has moods (95% of the time it's some variation of happy), clear likes and dislikes, and has firmly rooted himself in my heart.  So much so that my arms actually feel empty when he's not in them. 

We got checked in and taken to pre-op to answer the same questions 10 different times.  The Anesthesiologist and Surgeon came into the room to explain how the morning would progress.  Our surgeon made a point to let me know that he was well-rested and had a good breakfast: something I sincerely appreciated.

Only parents who have experienced this before will understand how difficult the hand-off at the OR door is.   You are literally trusting a stranger with the life of your child, and it is heart-wrenching.  I stood in the hall crying, while my husband hugged and attempted to comfort me.  We were given a pager and a pitying look, and sent on our way to the cafeteria to try to eat something.  We hunkered down for the longest three hours of our lives. 

Of course it's been considerably longer for him.  We had a difficult time getting him comfortable after surgery.  He was in a great deal of pain, and obviously annoyed by the gadgets, tubes and needles attached to him.  There is a delicate balance when dealing with a baby.  It is important to manage their pain, in order to allow rest and healing.  However, too much medication has the potential to halt breathing.  I held and rocked him as we tried to get him comfortable.  Several times his eyes met mine, pleading for me to make it all better.  At those moments I would have given just about anything to be able to take it for him.


We are now sitting in a dark hospital room, watching mindless television and listening to our baby softly snore.  We are breathing much easier, counting our blessings, and the hours until we see him smile again.

We are overwhelmed by the support and prayers, and have no doubt they have helped get us to this point.  I am humbled by the strength of my son and the love I feel from so many.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Surgery Number Two



I took my son to the Pediatrician this morning, and he was cleared for surgery, after a few nerve-racking days battling a fever.  We weren't sure he'd be able to have the surgery tomorrow, which would have opened the potential for a whole new group of issues.  Phew!

So now the hard part begins.  We'll go home tonight and spend the evening with the kids, doing our usual activities.  Dinner, baths, bedtime, but tonight we'll also explain to our 3 year-old that her brother has another "boo-boo" - inside his mouth this time, and that the doctors are going to fix it.  She is somewhat  familiar with this routine, from our last go-round.  She'll be able to come see him (and us), and she was a trooper about it all last time.  I'm hoping she is this time too.

We'll have to leave our house at 5:15 am to get him to All Children's in time, and his surgery is scheduled to begin at 7:30.  I'm not looking forward to the moment when they take him from me, back to the anesthesiologist.  It was rough last time, and now I've had 7 additional months to grow closer to my little man, and him to me.  

It's tough to explain the emotions I feel.  Part of me is happy that we can do this for him.  Having this procedure will make eating easier, and his speech less effected.  We are hoping it will help with his cough, and will decrease the likelihood of aspiration.  Those are all good things!

However...it's really hard to know that I am willingly handing him off for a procedure that will cause him a lot of pain.  It's my job to protect him from pain.

I wish I could explain what is happening to him.  I wish I could make him understand that it is in his best interest, and that he will start to feel better very soon.

It's scary to know that he'll be under anesthesia.  

I feel nervous about his recovery period, for much of which he will be at home.  It's easier to handle everything when a nurse is a button-push away.  Once we get home, if something comes up it's up to us to deal with it.

So the best I can do now is to pray and trust that he is in very capable hands.  When he comes out of surgery, we'll be able to room in with him at the hospital, which is wonderful.  He'll likely be in the PICU for about 24 hours, then moved to a room on a regular floor.  We will hold him and love him and try to nurse him back to health as best we can.

We've received all sorts of calls, texts and emails from friends and family who are thinking about and praying for Deacon and for us.  For those, we are very grateful.  Continued thoughts and prayers are welcome and appreciated.  We'll keep everyone posted!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three Year-Old Conversations



Each day on the way home from daycare, my daughter and I have a little conversation.  We've been doing it since the very first day, when she was 15 months old.  Of course, back then, the conversations were pretty one-sided.

They start out with me asking her how her day was.  When she was littler, and less verbose, I tended to fill in what I imagined she had done that day.  "Did you play outside with your friends?  Have a snack?  Read some stories?..."  As she's gotten older and more capable of expressing herself, these conversations have become quite fun.  Talking to a three year-old is just fun in general (most of the time).  

Some of the highlights lately:
Her: "Mommy, what's that truck doing?"
Me: "Making a U-turn."
Her: "Making a me turn?"

Me: "Did you go on the tire swing today?"
Her: "Yep-siree!"

Standing at the top of a jungle gym last week, she screamed, "Way to go Dada!  You went pee-pees on the potty!  I'm so proud of you!"

She recently learned the word "worried", though I'm not positive she entirely grasps its meaning:
Her: "Mommy, I'm worried about my Dada"
Me: "Why, baby?"
Her: "Because I love him soooooo much"

Her: "Purple is my favorite color.  Jakey-poo's is blue."  (Jakey-poo??  We're in trouble)

I've realized that I truly look forward to these conversations every day.  I get excited little butterflies in my stomach when I'm on my way to pick the kids up from school.  Now that my son is testing his vocal cords, he's been joining in too, though nothing besides "Mama" is understandable.  

It is my hope that by establishing a pattern of ongoing conversation about little things now, I am laying ground work for the big conversations later.  For that reason I do my best to acknowledge her when she speaks to me, even if it is to ask her to let me finish what I'm doing so I can give her my full attention.  For that reason I try to match her enthusiasm for whatever she's telling me.  For that reason I laugh at her silly jokes and pretend I'm learning something new too, when she tells me what she's just discovered.

I want her to feel as though the things she tells me are just as important to me as to her.  I want her to just keep talking to me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Siblings

"Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation, quite often the hard way" - Pamela Dugdale

Ever since our daughter met her baby brother, she's been smitten; and since he was able to recognize faces, he's been in love with her too.  She is often groggy and a little grumpy when she first wakes in the morning (NO idea from whom she got that...), but the moment she sees him, she lights up and exclaims his name (or one of the nicknames she's developed for him).  He lights up when she walks in a room, and follows her when she leaves.

It's been so interesting to see their relationship develop.  Now that he's mobile, she's not quite as willing to share with him, and can often be found reclaiming something of hers he found, sometimes not very gently.  But no matter what, they are happier when around each other.  They play and laugh.  She watches out for him, and he looks up to her.

My husband and I both come from families with two children - one boy and one girl.  All of us remain pretty close, and would be there for one another in a heartbeat.  Though we don't talk or see each other as often as we'd like, my brother and I remain in contact, and can pick up where we left off whenever we do get the chance.  My husband's sister lives very close to us, so we're fortunate to see and speak to her more frequently.  It is important to me that my kids have a good relationship too.

I wish for them:

The ability to speak openly and honestly to each other.
The comfortability to ask the questions they don't want to ask us (their parents).
The strength to call each other on their crap.
The loyalty to stick up for one another.
The humor to laugh at each other.
The experiences with one another to build a lifetime of memories and stories to tell their children.
The perfect amount of healthy competition to foster personal growth.
The ability to debate each other to learn to defend their points of view.
The generosity to help each other when necessary.
The camaraderie to keep from being lonely.

But most of all I wish them the love and support unique to siblings, in order to maintain their sense of family long after we're gone.

Friday, October 19, 2012

All Children's and My Child

Playing in the waiting area.  He was exhausted...but still smiling!
I spent most of the day yesterday at All Children's Hospital with my son.  We had to get some pre-surgical appointments out of the way.  We ended up spending a significant amount of time in various waiting areas, as well as walking the halls and traveling via elevator.

I'm always astounded by the children I encounter there.  I'm astounded by the fact that most of the kids seem to be happy, smiling and unfazed by whatever illness or issue they face.  My son is this way too.  He's been poked and prodded more than any child I've ever known, yet he's quick with a smile, and is a big flirt.
Finally fell asleep on Mommy while waiting for a chest x-ray. 

When I first got the diagnosis while still pregnant, it was heartbreaking.  I worried how this would impact his self-esteem and ability to interact with other kids.  I worried (and still do) that he'll be bullied on the playground or in other areas of his life.

Seeing all of the kids yesterday reminded me of two things: 1. It could be A LOT worse.  We've been told over and over that if you had to choose an imperfection, this is the one you would pick.  2. It's up to me and his father to help him build his self-esteem, make him willing to teach the ignorant, and set him up to succeed.  All of the kids I saw had a parent (or two) with them - encouraging, hugging, laughing.  I can't do this for him, but I can be there with him every step of the way.

We embark on his second surgery next Thursday.  While I'm more relaxed this time than I was for his first surgery, I'm still very nervous.  I am still scared of the anesthesia.  He'll be under general anesthesia for quite a while.  There's always a chance something could go wrong.

I am upset that he'll be in so much pain.  I realize this is in his best interest, but I desperately wish I could take the pain for him.  I cannot explain to him what is happening, or prepare him for it in any way.  I can only hold and love him until he's well again.

I worry that each of these procedures will chip away a little piece of his good-natured personality.  I worry that the happy, smiling little guy I know will be a little less ready with a smile after this procedure, and a little less willing to trust that I'm doing what's best for him.

So next Thursday I will be there, praying, worrying and waiting until I can see him again.  Then I will do the best I possibly can to make him feel better, or at the very least, very loved.  And I will excitedly anticipate the first sign of a smile.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Marriage



A few weeks ago, my husband and I were at a rehearsal dinner.  I excused myself to go to the restroom, and he leaned over and gave me a quick kiss before I walked away.  When I returned to the table, he once again kissed me.  One of the other guests commented that we must be newlyweds, since he kissed me when I left, and again when I returned.  We laughed, and explained that we are not.

We get a lot of comments about our relationship, and the fact that we seem to really enjoy each other's company.  The truth is that we do.  I love my marriage, and I love him.

We have had to work hard, however, to get to this point.  Those who have known us since we started dating know that our courtship was....well, rough.  We had no idea how to communicate with one another.  We let stupid stuff build up until it seemed unbearable, and we broke up numerous times.  I don't think there was a single person outside our relationship who thought we would ever be where we are today.

There are some pretty important things that we do to help strengthen our relationship.  I'm not sure he'd want me spilling our secrets, but I'm going to anyway!

We talk.  We talk about work things, sports, our kids, our family, our friends....pretty much everything. Talking to each other helps maintain our friendship.  A good friendship can go a long way toward a happy, healthy marriage.

We play together.  We do silly stuff when we're together with and without the kids.  We are constantly laughing, whether it's because he's singing a strange song - loudly - to me in the car, or spontaneously dancing with me in a place where no one else is dancing.  It's fun to be together.

We go on date nights.  We don't do this as often as we'd like to, but it's a tricky thing to balance time with the kids and time alone together.  We both miss them throughout the week, and the weekends are our time as a family.  Often we'll go on a date night after the kids have been tucked in for bed.  (Someone is always there to watch them...so no need to call CPS.)  We usually don't do anything particularly fancy.  Often we'll go to a local restaurant, sit at the bar and share a bottle of wine and some appetizers.  It gives us both a chance to relax and just be together.

We have a very active and great sex life.  We are both committed to keeping this part of our relationship fun and fulfilling.  We believe it is a very important part of a good marriage.

We do things we don't want to do.  Two people in a relationship are never going to agree on everything.  That means sometimes you compromise and do something because the person you love likes doing it.  It usually turns out to be pretty fun anyway, because we're together.

We respect one another.  Like any couple we argue.  However, we don't resort to name calling or putting each other down.  We discuss things, and usually (maybe not right away) come to some kind of agreement.  We had to work at this one.  It takes a lot of communication and patience, and we weren't so good with that in the beginning.

We talk about money.  Money is one of the biggest reasons for stress and strain between a couple.  We have a budget and we touch base with each other about where we are usually about once a week.  Neither of us makes a large purchase without talking to the other.  Money is still never a fun topic to discuss (unless you have a bunch of it), but it is so important to get, and stay on the same page.

We share the workload.  We both work full time, so keeping a house together and raising two children takes team work.  If I had to do it all myself, I'd likely be pretty resentful, and vice versa.  We've got a good rhythm going.

We love each other, and we express that love all the time.  He calls me sometimes at work just to say "hi".  We email each other throughout the day, we send flirty text messages when we're apart, and we say "I love you" all the time (and mean it).  We're that cheesy couple.

Is our marriage perfect?  No.  There are always things upon which we could improve, so we work to do just that.  We are, however, very happy together...and we count that as a blessing!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

For the Baby Daddies


I’ve heard a lot of pregnancy announcements lately.  It’s awesome and exciting, and though our family is complete, it still gives me a little twinge of jealousy for all that is ahead for the new parents. 




One of my coworkers entered my office yesterday and, with a big grin on his face, told me that his wife is pregnant, expecting in April.  I attended a conference with this coworker while I was pregnant with my second, and I remember him telling me they were thinking of starting soon, but that he was nervous.  When he told me yesterday, my brain immediately started spontaneously pulling tidbits of advice from its files.  However, one of the most annoying things about being an expectant first-time parent is all of the unsolicited advice you receive, so I kept my advice to myself and simply congratulated him.

Then I got home last night and decided I’d put all of my words of wisdom down in a blog post.  People can then choose to ignore my unsolicited advice!  All of this is geared toward the men, because they will never truly understand what it means to be pregnant.

  •  Prepare for some crazy.  Pregnancy hormones are powerful.  I can vividly remember times when I was being crazy, knew I was being crazy, but just couldn’t stop the crazy.  In fact, the reason I took the test that confirmed I was pregnant with our second was because of a complete overreaction on my part to a fairly innocent comment made by my husband one morning.  On my way to work I replayed the encounter and it dawned on me that the crazy was back and I was likely pregnant.  Don’t ever tell my husband I openly admitted to EVER being crazy.  I’ll deny it.
  •  Cravings are serious business.  Do not laugh at her, tell her you won’t go, or otherwise delay the satisfaction of a craving.  You are incapable of understanding it, unless you have ever felt as though you were literally going to DIE if you did not get the pizza/ice cream/salad (yes salad)/red Slurpee... you were craving.  Should you choose to ignore this advice, and mock or deny her cravings, please refer to the previous bullet point.
  • Bladder control is sketchy when pregnant, especially if this is not her first pregnancy.  When she says she has to go, you must help her find the nearest facility without delay.  Do not poke her belly, stomp on the brake (actually done by my husband during one unsuccessful trip to a Christmas tree lot), block the door while laughing, or tell her to “just hold it”.  Should you choose to ignore this advice, please refer to the first bullet point.
  • When she tells you her back, feet, or any other body part hurts, she is not looking to hear about how badly your right contact is irritating you.     
  • Tell her she is beautiful.  She is watching her body change in ways she never had a clue it could.  She feels fat and unattractive.  So even if she looks like she ate your younger sister – every day – for a month – tell her she looks beautiful. 
Yep, this was AFTER I had the baby!!!
  • Let her do all the research she wants about car seats, swings, slings, breast pumps, pacifiers, blankets, preschools, whatever...  
  • Go to her ultrasound appointments.  If everything is perfect, you will love being there.  If something is wrong, she will need you there. 
  • Touch her belly (but ask her first).  Talk to the baby, even if it makes you feel silly.  The baby has 40 weeks to hear and know Mommy before even taking a breath.  Let little one get acquainted with you, too. 
  • After the baby arrives, she will feel like she is doing it all incorrectly.  She will feel like she’s missing some switch inside her that was supposed to flip at the moment of birth, telling her how to do this baby thing.  She’ll feel lost and insecure, and like she is failing the baby – and you.  Tell her how proud you are of her, how wonderful a mother she is, and that you are more than willing to learn along with her. 
  • After the baby is born, YOU will feel lost, like you are doing it all incorrectly, and like she is a million times better at this than you are.  It’s okay.  Babies are forgiving.  They don’t know that you don’t know what you are doing.  Don’t let those feelings prevent you from jumping in and helping.  You’ll learn along the way, and she will appreciate a bit of a break from time to time. 
  • Enjoy it all, and remember to enjoy each other.  Some day you will look back on all of it and laugh (even at the crazy).  Just ask my husband about his company Christmas party the year I was pregnant with our first...


       

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Random rant


I realize this is likely an unpopular opinion, and I also realize it’s going to make me sound pretty old.  However, I cannot hold it back any longer…so I’m just going to say it.


I cannot stand “text speak”, and the overall lack of spelling and grammar skills found day in and day out on Facebook, blogs, articles and smart phones everywhere.  I love words, writing and reading, and it frustrates me to no end that the English language is being so badly corrupted. 

I fear that my children are going to grow up among a generation of people who do not know how to spell or communicate eloquently, or even intelligibly.  Though if I have anything to do with it, my children will do it properly.

“U” is not a word.  “I” and “a” are acceptable single-vowel words.  “U” is not.

Capital letters have feelings too!  Do not leave them out.  They have every right to begin sentences and proper nouns. 

Punctuation can be fun!  It helps express emotion, emphasize opinions, or break up a sentence.  Learn it.  Play with it.  Use it!

Don’t even get me started on the whole “they’re, their, there” issue.  It might make me cry, and I try not to cry at work.

I realize mistakes are made, and that Facebook isn’t exactly a professional document to be published and reviewed by millionaires everywhere, but it can’t hurt to just get in the habit of using the English language correctly. 

I realize it’s much easier to type “u” instead of “you”…wait, is it really that much easier?  It’s two extra letters.  You can do it!

I hope I can inspire even one person to take a little extra time the next time he updates his status.  You’ll appear more intelligent, eloquent, and thoughtful. 

And you won’t make me want to poke my eyes out.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Conversation with Myself


I turned 36 a few weeks ago.  I’m not as afraid of the number as some people I know, and I’ve really enjoyed my thirties thus far.  I really believe I’ve gained some knowledge through experience and perspective on the important things in life.  While I’m not perfect, and I hope to continue learning and improving until the day I die, I think if I could go back 10 years and talk to my 26 year-old self, I could probably teach her a thing or two.  Things like:

“He is most definitely not the right man for you – LISTEN to your instincts!”  At this time in my life I was staying in a bad relationship and ignoring my instincts.  I think sometimes, as women, when we commit to something, we ride it out until it’s beyond dead.  I would go back and tell her that she’s correct, he’s not the one, but that the one is out there, right around the corner!
This is the RIGHT one!!
“You are stronger than you think you are.”  In the past 10 years I have faced things I really never could have imagined I would.  I faced them, and I’m still here, and I’m stronger for it.  So I’d tell her to believe in herself.

“You will have children and they will be amazing, so stop stressing that you are running out of time.”  I think maybe part of the reason I was staying with said wrong man is because I was afraid of starting over and not having time to have children. 

“Get some girlfriends and go out and have some fun!”  I was behaving like an old lady.  I had no local girlfriends, and was working on alienating my oldest (long-distance) friends.  I never went out.  Nothing can replace great friendships.  They are to be nurtured and enjoyed. 
Yes we look ridiculous.  That's part of the fun!
“Your body is beautiful, and you’ll believe me one day when you see what your body is capable of creating.”  If I could tell her to spend less time in front of the mirror finding fault and more time on the beach in a bikini finding fun I would!

“Wear sunscreen.”  That one is just obvious.  You will get wrinkles.  I promise.

And finally, I’d tell her that as much as I’d like to jump in and fix everything that is about to happen, I wouldn’t do it.  The things I’ve faced and conquered in my life are the things that have made me who I am.  I’ve gained the strength and wisdom by walking through things, not avoiding them. 

I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring!

Oh – and I would also tell her to listen to her parents….they might just know a thing or two! 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Laughter

As a family we laugh - a lot.  We're also pretty silly - pretty often.  Today's post is just a random glance through the pictures saved on my phone.  Hopefully they make someone smile!


Mommy and little man goofing off with the camera on the phone.

Big sister joins in the fun.


Our kids had to get it from somewhere...

Not sure what she's telling him.

Pretty sure they were laughing at Daddy here.


I've worn more costume apparel since I became a mom than I probably did if you
add up everyHalloween of my entire life.

And more...

Can you find Daddy?

Something on the back of his head was really grabbing her attention!

Cute little piggy.


Silly Faces!!

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter" - e.e. cummings


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Daddy's Girls


The relationship between a father and daughter is a very special one.  Growing up, I had a pretty cool relationship with my dad.  We joked around a lot and had a lot of fun.  My dad always challenged me to do my best, and wasn’t afraid to tell me when he knew I wasn’t.  He taught me that it’s okay to have my own opinions, but that I had better be able to back them up with facts.  We spent many evenings debating current issues, and I always joke that I became a Liberal because my dad is a Conservative and I liked fighting with him.  As I got older, I always knew I could count on my dad for the big stuff, and I frequently did!  I’m sure I broke his heart a million times, but he’s never shown me anything but love (tough love sometimes!) and support.


There’s an old theory that a woman marries a man like her father.  I definitely see a lot of similarities between my husband and my dad, and one of the most significant (and best) comparisons is that my husband is already fostering a unique and wonderful relationship with our daughter, like my dad did with me.

They are two of the silliest people I’ve ever met.  When the two of them start playing and giggling together, it’s contagious. 

He is a patient teacher to her, always answering her questions and explaining the new things in the world she’s noticing.

He is teaching her a love of music.  There aren’t many 3 year-olds in the world who will request Sam Cooke during a ride in the car!

He uses tough love when it’s necessary, and though she doesn’t understand it now, it’s harder on him than it is on her.

Though he’s tired from a full day himself, as often as he can, he sits and reads to her before bed.  Lately it’s been the Dr Seuss story of her choosing.  I’m sincerely not sure who enjoys it more!

A little while ago he was driving the kids to daycare in the morning.  He noticed a huge, brilliant rainbow in the sky, but our daughter couldn’t see it from her position in the back seat.  He was already running late for work, but he pulled the car over, got her out, and stood holding her up so she could see it.  Things like that stick in a little girl’s mind.
This is THE rainbow!

I could go on for days about their relationship.  I consider myself incredibly lucky to call him my husband, but she is even luckier to call him Daddy. 

Oh, and I still consider myself lucky to call mine Daddy too!