Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I have so many, many, many things to be thankful for this holiday season. I really need to focus on those things more.

Just to name a few....

My family, immediate and extended, who are always there for me.

My kids, two of which beat incredible odds and one that is no longer on this Earth, but taught me so much.

My friends, many of whom I've never met face to face, but just the same consider them friends.

My amazing fiance that never lets a day go by without telling me he loves and appreciates me, usually more than once a day.

Our home that is just the right amount of space for us and that we are making more and more our own.

Health. We are not dealing with any kind of catastrophic diseases or illnesses. (And now I feel like I need to knock on wood.)

I have many other things to be thankful for as well. But even if these were the only things I had to get me through the day, I would be a very blessed individual.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's a Preemie World

That's the title of my "retired" blog, which came about during my 3rd pregnancy. I created it to keep friends and family updated on my pregnancy. It was titled something else to start (can't remember what) and after having my 3rd preemie, I renamed it. Before I had my first baby, I never really gave prematurity a second thought.

My dream ever since I was a young girl was to be a mom. But I never dreamed that I would not be able to carry a baby to full term. It was something that never even crossed my mind.

All three of my children were born prematurely. I can probably to relate to the parent(s) of any baby in the NICU because I've experienced every outcome.

My first baby lost his life due to prematurity. He struggled for 11 days, but it was all just too much for his tiny body and he passed away. Zachary was born at 23 weeks 4 days after a "textbook pregnancy". The day he was born, I was having some intense back pain and feeling a lot of pressure (TMI) like I needed to go to the bathroom. I called my OB right before lunch and they told me to come in after their lunch hour. But before my appointment time I had bloody show and my parents (I was at their house for the day) rushed me in. I was 6 centimeters dilated! I never in my worst nightmares thought I could have been in labor. I couldn't believe how tiny Zachary was the first time I saw him. I had barely even absorbed that he was here before he was gone. What an absolute nightmare to have to bury your baby....your firstborn.

My OB was convinced (and convinced ME) that my preterm labor and delivery was a fluke. I was young and naive and took his word for it.

I have also watched a baby, my second born son, struggle through the NICU for 6 long, scary, frustrating, tiring months. Ryan was born at 23 weeks 5 days. He made it one day longer in my womb than his big brother, but I went in to labor also at 23 weeks 4 days with him. My OB kept a close eye on me during my pregnancy. I had regular ultrasounds to measure my cervix and make sure it was not shortening or dilating. I even had an ultrasound in the late afternoon the day before I went in to labor and my cervix looked perfect. By the next afternoon, I was having the same "symptoms" I had as with Zachary. When I called in to my OB's office, the nurse (knowing my history with Zachary) had the nerve to say to me, "You were just here yesterday and everything was fine." I am still annoyed at that 8 years later! I went in and sure enough I was 3-4cm. I was admitted, given medicine to stop my contractions (that I couldn't even feel), and put in bed with my feet more elevated than my head. The contractions stopped, but still the next morning I was 10cm dilated and had to deliver.

Ryan endured so much in the NICU - collapsed lungs, ventilated for 3 1/2 months (almost ended up with a tracheotomy), numerous infections, a bowel obstruction resulting in an ileostomy for 4 months and then surgery again to reconnect his bowels, heart surgery (PDA ligation), and Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and laser surgery in both eyes to help prevent it from advancing. His first month in the NICU was at a local hospital, 20 minutes away. Then he needed the belly surgery, so he had to be transferred to a hospital in Pittsburgh...almost 2 hours away from our house. That was where he spent the next 5 months. It was tough. Thank goodness for the Ronald McDonald House. I stayed there a lot and spent many long days at the hospital, doing all the care I was able to for Ryan. I hardly felt like a mom, though, until he finally came home.

Even once he did come home, it was short-lived. Two weeks later he almost died from congestive heart failure and was in the hospital for three weeks. He finally got to come home, only to end up back in a week later with pneumonia. The poor baby could not get a break. After another 3 weeks in the hospital, he finally came home to stay with no further prolonged hospitalizations.

Today he is a shockingly healthy, active 8 year old that loves life. He does have vision problems from the ROP and a partial retina detachment (in his right eye) and he wears glasses for nearsightedness (in his left eye), but he has adapted very well to the vision he does have. He will amaze anyone with his ability to play basketball and shoot hoops and to hit a wiffle ball. He also still receives therapies (speech, occupational, and physical) to help his development. But 8 years ago, when he was laying in the NICU fighting for life, I never dreamed that he would come out of it all with as few issues as he did. I know of preemies not as early as him that have more severe issues. He definitely (and unfortunately) did not escape his prematurity unscathed.

And then came Brooke. She was one of those preemies that really just needed to grow and mature in order to come home. She made it a whole extra 4 weeks in utero than her big brothers with the help of a cerclage (placed at 12 weeks) and 17P injections and was born at 27 weeks 4 days. I was in the hospital for a week before her birth, fighting preterm labor. I was given the steroid shots to help her lungs. I may not have gotten to experience carrying a baby to full term and a "normal" labor and delivery, but I got bits and pieces of it with her. She was the first one that I got to hear cry in the operating room. They even carried her over to me wrapped up just like a full term newborn with her hospital issued pink and blue striped hat so I could give her a kiss before they took her to the NICU. There was a celebratory mood back in my room with my family, unlike with the boys where everyone was scared to death and in shock. There are never any guarantees, but at least with an almost 28 weeker there is more hope for survival and a good outcome.

Brooke spent 7 1/2 weeks in the NICU. After the 6 months Ryan put in, that seemed like a drop in the bucket. She seemed huge to us at 2lbs. 10oz. after two babies not even 1 1/2lbs. each. She only ever required oxygen through the nasal cannula to assist her breathing. She did have her spells of apnea and bradycardia for a period of time, but that is to be expected in preemies. She took to her feedings pretty well. I kept waiting for something to happen or be wrong with her, but it never happened. She had a very uneventful NICU stay as far as not-quite-28 weekers go.

She is now an active, healthy 3 1/2 year old. She is even on the tall side for her age, which is different for me since Ryan has always been on the small side. You would never guess she was a preemie. She has no (noticeable) effects from her prematurity. Not all 27 or 28 weekers are that "lucky", though. I know things could have been different. Trust me, I know.

So there you have it - my experience with preemies and the NICU. I really feel like I've been through it all. It has definitely made me a stronger person. I've heard so many times from people, "I don't know how you did it". I just....did. I had to. For my babies. I hope that doesn't sound flip, but I really didn't think about it at the time. I did a lot of praying and it really helped me to feel more calm. Three times was enough, though. I don't think I could go through it all again and that's why I decided to have a tubal ligation during my c-section with Brooke. Sometimes it's hard for me to accept that, in a way, the number of children I have was determined by my body and not my heart, but I couldn't put myself, my family, or another baby through yet another NICU stay. I am so blessed with the children I have.

Every baby deserves 40 weeks. Please support the March of Dimes and if you are able to, consider donating.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Letter to Mom

Dear Mom,

I am sorry that I didn't appreciate all that you did for our family growing up. I am sorry for every time I gave you attitude when asked to do something. I am sorry that I did not offer to help more. I am sorry that I didn't tell you "thank you" enough. I am sorry that I took you for granted. I know you felt unappreciated at times and looking back now, I hate that.

We always had clean clothes. We always came home to a clean, inviting house. We almost always (everyone needs a break from cooking once in awhile) had a yummy, hot dinner. We always had the things we needed for school. Most importantly, we always had you.

Now that I am an adult and have a family of my own, I know just how hard you worked and just how thankless a job it can be at times.

I only wish I would have known it sooner. Maybe I would have helped to make your life easier.

Your Very Grateful Daughter

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Reminder

Between my constant state of tiredness (or downright exhaustion) and dealing with the day to day duties of raising a 3 1/2, 5 1/2, and 8 year old, sometimes - ok, A LOT of the time - it is hard for me to really enjoy being a mom. Lately, it seems like any time we try to do any kind of outing with them, it ends up being extremely frustrating and stressful for me because of the near constant whining, fighting, complaining, etc. We took them to Idlewild (a local family amusement park) for Hallowboo the second weekend in October. There was a whole lot of whining, fighting, and just flat-out not listening. It was just not fun. And it made me really question why we take them to do these fun things when they have proven time and again (lately) that they just can't/won't behave. Yes, I want them to have fun experiences and get to do things, but I also think they need to earn those things, to a certain degree, at least. We had been planning on taking them to the Pittsburgh Zoo at the end of October for Zoo Boo or whatever it is they call it. But after the craziness at Idlewild, we decided that we would skip it. And we did. It kind of sucked, but I think it was for the best.

This weekend was a great reminder for me that we CAN go out as a family and have everyone behave, listen, and have a good time. Joe's aunt and uncle sent us money for the kids' birthdays and told us to go do something fun with them. So we decided that this weekend we would take them to dinner and a movie. Yesterday, after Brooke woke up from her nap, we headed out to Toys'R'Us so the kids could do some "window shopping". It was actually a lot of fun, even for me. Joe took the boys to look at the things they like and Brooke and I scoured the "girl" aisles. It's so fun watching Brooke run around checking everything out. She's actually very good about not ripping everything off the shelves and if she does, she puts it back (and will even put things back or straighten things up that she didn't get out or mess up). I think we got some good ideas for Christmas.

We decided on Olive Garden for dinner. I was a bit leery about this because of it not being one of the most kid friendly restaurants (compared to say, TGIFriday's or Red Robin). But Joe suggested it and it is hard for me to NOT want Olive Garden's yummy food once it is mentioned ;-). They told us it would be a 25 minute wait and we decided that wasn't too bad. I think it was probably only about 15 minutes and other than hearing "I'm huuuungry" whines a few times, the kids were rather patient. We were seated and got out the crayons and coloring books to occupy them while we waited for our food. There was no fighting. Everybody sat still in their seats for the most part. They used inside voices. Ate well. It was SO nice. Even the waitress complimented the kids on how well-behaved they were and gave us coupons for free kids' meals (with the purchase of an adult entree) for next time we go! You have no idea how good that felt (okay, if you are a parent, you probably do!).

We had some time to kill before the movie started, so we went to TJMaxx to look at more toys. It made me think about how much of a treat it was to get to look at the toys while we were out shopping when my sister, brother, and I were kids. We never got anything unless we had birthday money to spend or something like that, but we just loved to look. I need to remember this when I'm out with the kids and they ask to look at toys. Usually I just want to get what we need and get out, but is it really going to kill me to let them look at the toys for 10 minutes? No. I NEED to loosen up and try to see things from their perspective more.

(As I am sitting here typing this, the kids are watching Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakel. Our kitten, Crosby, just walked over near Brooke and as she is leaning over petting him, she's telling him, "Thank you for coming." She is a trip.)

We went to see Puss In Boots. When we go to a movie, seating is very strategic. Usually it goes Brooke, me, Ryan, Joe, and Cole. It's just better if the kids aren't seated next to each other....I'm sure you can imagine why. Joe's mom met us there, so she sat next to Ryan with Cole on the other side of her and then Joe. Ryan is not a big "movies kid". He has his favorites (all the Toy Story movies, Cars, Alvin and the Chipmunks 1 and 2, and Despicable Me) and if it's not one of those he is usually not very open minded about it. Right after Puss In Boots started, he told me he wished we watched a movie at home instead. A couple minutes later he was asking for his DS. After asking a couple more times, I told him if he asked again, he wasn't getting it at all today. The movie started out slow, in my opinion, but it did pick up and after about 20 minutes or so he seemed to really get in to it and enjoy it and he stopped complaining. I didn't love the movie, but it was pretty good and the kids definitely liked it. We are all really excited for Chipwrecked next month! There was a preview for it last night. It looks funny....and how can you not love the Chipmunks??

Anyway, all that to say that it was a really great day. Of course, there was the occasional whining and the kids picking on each other, but it was rare. It gave me hope that someday it will be more of the rule rather than the exception. And it reminded me of all the things I once looked forward to about being a mom.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wow, This Blog Has Gathered Dust....

I guess that happens when you don't blog for 6 months....

I've been thinking and talking about getting back to blogging for a few months now. I guess I stopped because I didn't feel like I really had anything to say that was worth reading. I don't feel I am a particularly good writer. There are several blogs that I read on a regular basis and I don't feel like I am on the same level as them when it comes to writing and content. I don't feel like I'm great at putting my words down "on paper" or getting my point across. But maybe if I start blogging again, I will start to feel better.

{This is me being very open and honest.}

Lately I've been having a lot of "down" moments. Too many. I haven't slept well in months. I sleep for usually 7-8 hours a night and I normally sleep straight through. But I have vivid, strange dreams (and sometimes actual nightmares) for what seems like all night. I wake up feeling like a slept maybe a few hours. Sometimes I also will wake up really early in the morning to go to the bathroom and not be able to fall back asleep. I don't function well when I'm tired. I've been extremely moody, short-tempered, impatient, angry, etc. so much of the time lately. I am very snippy with the kids. I get annoyed over practically nothing. I yell way too much. Then I feel bad for acting like that and I get to feeling like everyone would be better off without me. Everyone would probably be a lot happier and carefree anyway. I don't want to be like that. But I don't know what to do to change it. My future sister-in-law mentioned to me that maybe blogging again would help me be able to sleep better. Anything is worth a try at this point. I don't plan on turning this blog in to a big whinefest or post about really heavy things all the time. But I do think it may help me to clear my head a little bit. We'll see where this goes. I haven't had the best track record with keeping up with my blog. I'm not sure if this time will be any different or not.

Joe is great. He makes sure I get a break from the kids to recharge. Honestly, I hate that I even need that. He is for sure the "fun one". Don't get me wrong, he disciplines as well, but he is definitely the laid back one and he is great at playing with the kids. I can't seem to relax enough lately to do much of that. I also feel like the behavior of the younger two leaves a lot to be desired. They are 5 and 3 years old. I keep trying to remind myself that when Ryan was 5 and 6 that I felt the same frustrations over his behavior. He is like a different kid now, for the most part. I just really feel so hopeless at times and like these 2 are never going to get it. Brooke is a champion button pusher. She also picks up any and all bad behaviors from the other two, which is extremely frustrating for me. It just feels like a vicious circle at this point and like they are "winning". Sometimes I don't think I was cut out for this...being a mom. I feel like they deserve better.

Some days I deal better with the tiredness than other days. Then there are days (like today) where I just feel completely exhausted and drained. So I think I am going to go to bed really early. Hopefully it will help, but it doesn't always.

Nighty night.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Baby is THREE Years Old!

::::sneaking back in here, pretending it hasn't been almost 2 months since my last post::::

On March 26th, 2008, after battling preterm labor for a week (it seems like it was much longer than that) daughter was born.

Brooke Elizabeth entered the world 3 months early, weighing only 2lbs. 10oz., but after having two 23 weekers that weren't even a pound and a half each, she truly seemed huge to me. And getting to hear her cry in the operating room moments after the doctor pulled her out was one of the best moments of my life and one of the best sounds I've ever heard. I didn't get to experience that with either of my boys. I also got to see her all wrapped up in a hospital blanket wearing the standard blue and pink striped hat and give her a kiss before she was taken to the NICU, where she spent the next 7 1/2 weeks (which seemed like absolutely nothing compared to the 6 months Ryan spent in the hospital). I will admit that I spent those 7 1/2 weeks waiting for something scary to happen after all we went through with Ryan, but it never happened. All she had to do was grow, learn to bottle feed, and grow out of her apnea (forgetting to breathe) and bradycardia (heart rate drops)....typical preemie "stuff". She's never really been behind in her development and now I think is even maybe a little above the average 3 year old, especially when it comes to her verbal skills.

She is strong-willed, independent, stubborn, funny, and sweet. She loves her baby dolls and books, Super Heroes and Disney Princesses. She loves Toy Story. She loves to eat and is always hungry and asking for a snack or for me to make breakfast/lunch/dinner, but she is still a skinny little thing. She loves going to Sunday school and her Wednesday night class at church. She likes to talk on the phone and will sometimes bring it to me and say, "I need to talk for Nanny" because that's who she usually talks to on the phone. She is so excited for her birthday party and can't wait to go to it (we're having it at my mom and dad's next Saturday).

(She loves Jake, the cat, too!)

In some ways I can't believe she's already 3 years old, but on the other hand I can't remember what life was like before she was here!

I love you, Brookie!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flashback Friday - Birthday Trip

Joe's son, Cole, is going to be 5 on Sunday! Last year, Joe had decided to take him to Splash Lagoon (an indoor water park) for his birthday...and he invited me and Ryan and Brooke to come along. I remember thinking, 'wow, this really is serious'. We had been dating 4 months at the time we went. It was (obviously) our first trip we all took together :-).

I wasn't sure how Ryan and Brooke would do, honestly. I knew Ryan wasn't a huge fan of the water and Brooke wasn't even 2 and hadn't even really been swimming much. (Cole is a little fish!) Joe thought they would be fine and them seeing Cole enjoying the water would rub off. He was right! While neither of them were as brave or uninhibited in the water as Cole, they both did have fun.

We arrived Thursday afternoon, got checked in to the hotel adjoining the park, put our suits on, and headed to the water park. We swam and played for a few hours and then went back to the room to order dinner. The kids had a blast playing in the big whirlpool tub (with the jets off) in their swimsuits. Friday we spent most of the day at the water park and checked out the arcade there. We ordered dinner again in the room and the kids played in the tub some more. We headed home Saturday morning. We went to Joe's mom and dad's (where he and Cole were living at the time) and that evening they had a small birthday party for Cole.

It was a great weekend and an awesome first trip together!

After eating pizza and powdered donuts...hehe.

Don't be fooled, that is NOT a look of fear on his face ;-). He is a little daredevil.

She loved the little fountains. Can you tell this was taken late in the afternoon and she hadn't had a nap?

She's clearly too big for this, but she insisted on trying one out.

Cole with his Pittsburgh Penguins (hockey) birthday cake.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Flashback Friday - Miracle #2

The last Flashback Friday was about Ryan. Now it's Brooke's turn.

To make a long story short, I was in the hospital for a week battling preterm labor before Brooke's early arrival at 27 weeks 4 days (she made it 4 weeks longer than Ryan with the help of a cerclage and 17p injections). I was worried about possible complications and another rocky NICU stay, but when she was born and I actually got to hear her tiny little cry (a first for me in the OR!) I was over the moon. Then I even got to see her all wrapped up like a burrito with her little hospital blue and pink striped hat on and give her a kiss before they took to the NICU. It was.....amazing. Even though I didn't get to carry her to term, this experience was at least a little more like a full term delivery (versus Zachary and then Ryan being whisked straight to the NICU and getting only a passing glimpse and a quickly snapped polaroid to hang on to and stare at).

Brooke Elizabeth was born at 9:52pm (via c-section), weigh 2lbs. 10oz. and measuring 15in. long.

We got comments from some visitors about how tiny she was. But after having 2 babies that were 1lbs. 5oz. and 1lb. 6oz....she seemed ginormous. And she just looked like a miniature full term baby (with a little less body fat). She only ever required oxygen through the nasal cannula. She had a little bit of an issue with apnea (forgetting to breathe) and bradycardia (heart rate dips), but it resolved as she got closer to term. No infections, no complications. She came home 7 1/2 weeks after her birth, the day she turned 35 weeks gestation. It was quite a different experience for us!

Doing kangaroo care with my precious girl for the first time:

Ryan got to see his baby sister out of her isolette for the first time on her one month "birthday":

And he held her for the first time 2 weeks later:

To date, this is my favorite picture ever of the two of them!

(I feel like I should add that the only reason I didn't post more pictures of Ryan from the NICU is because most of them are saved on floppy disks...yes, you read that right. I really need to find a way to get those transferred. And the rest of them would need scanned in to the computer and we don't have a scanner right now. Someday I will post more!)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thank You, Melatonin

I thought I had recently posted about my sleep issues, but I looked back and apparently it was one of those things I just thought about posting about and never actually did.

I can't remember exactly when it started, but it was before Christmas. Sleep had never been an issue for me, but all of a sudden it seemed like every night I was dreaming all night long and even if I slept for 7 or 8 hours, I would wake up feeling absolutely exhausted. Or some nights I would have trouble falling asleep or I would keep waking up from the dreams. I was so tired. All the time. I seriously felt like a zombie. And when I'm tired like that, I get very cranky and easily irritated. You don't want to be around me when I'm like that. I don't want to be around me when I'm like that.

Joe was great, though. (He's always great.) He gave me lots of opportunities to rest or nap or just take a break from taking care of the kids. I couldn't have been very good company most of the time, though. I just felt like I was in a fog and I was SO frustrated. I just wanted sleep. Good sleep. I tried a sleep aid that I got at Walmart, but it didn't help.

Then Sunday I picked up some melatonin at Walmart. I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a try. I was desperate. Hopefully I won't jinx anything, but it really seems to be helping. This is the most consecutive nights of good sleep I've had in I don't know how long and I actually feel human again. More like myself and not like a grumpy, exhausted ogre. Yay!

Please let it last!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Baby Got a Haircut!

I had been thinking for a month or two that I really needed to take Brooke to get her hair trimmed because the ends were starting to look straggly. I decided that yesterday was the day. And then somehow I went from wanting to get the ends trimmed to wanting to cut a few inches off. I'm not really sure what made me want to do it, but I went with it. I took her to Fantastic Sam's and when it was her turn, it was a gentleman that cut her hair. I had a feeling that it might not go over well with Brooke. She did end up crying a tiny bit (as she tried SO hard not to), but I think she would have even if it had been a woman. But this guy was clearly uncomfortable with her and he rushed to get done. Later that day after we'd come home and had lunch and she took a nap, I gave her a bath and afterwards I noticed just how uneven and crooked the back was. I took her back in to get it fixed and somebody else did it and did a MUCH better job. Last night and this morning I was sort of regretting getting it cut so short, but now that it's cut correctly I'm much happier with it. And besides, it will grow back!

I cannot believe how much older she looks now! It's not just me, is it?

These are both cell phone pics, so excuse the quality.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

(Not Really) Wordless Wednesday - Li'l Miss Independent

Brooke is quite independent these days and insists on doing a lot of things herself. One of the biggest things is dressing (and undressing) herself. She does a great job for not even being 3 years old yet (2 months from TODAY my baby will be 3), but there is almost always tears involved and she will cry and cry and cry before (sometimes) allowing someone to help her.

Here she is getting her PJ's on last night. I didn't want to expose her too much on here, so these are just of her getting her top the rest of the way on. She can easily find the right part of the shirt to slip over her head, but usually needs help making sure it's not backwards and she sometimes (as you'll see here) has trouble getting the shirt pulled down if it gets rolled up.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - First Lost Tooth!

He lost it on 12/29 at his dad's. This was taken New Year's Eve at my mom and dad's. The top one right above it is pretty lose and will be the next to go! His other front top one is loose as well as the one next to the tooth that fell out!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Do You Make a Tissue Dance?

Put a little boogie in it.

How do you get Brooke to stop crying and whining and screaming about boogies in her nose?

I have NO idea!!

She's so cute when she's sleeping....

Okay okay, so she's cute when she's NOT sleeping, too...and also unbelievable funny (and ornery) at times. But if I hear her throw one more tantrum about boogies in her nose, I might just throw a tantrum myself.

I don't even know what started it. She isn't sick and doesn't have a cold. But if she blows through her nose (and she will do it purposely to check) and feels the slightest rattle of a "boogie" (as she calls them) in there, then the crying and whining and eventual all-out-tantrum begins. And I'm sure you know that crying just produces more "boogies", so that then produces more crying and even MORE "boogies", and before you know it she's been tantrum-ing for 30 minutes or more. I'm not even joking, people.

Two nights ago, this went on for an hour at bedtime. An hour. Sixty minutes. Of screaming and crying because of "boogies". She will refuse a tissue and even if I manage to get one close enough to her nose to wipe it, she just cries even more. Yesterday morning she started when we were sitting on the couch. Just out of nowhere I guess she realized there were boogies in her nose and off she went. This evening the kids made their own English muffin or bagel pizzas for dinner and after I helped her with hers, I took it from her to wait for the boys to be done making theirs so they could all go in the oven. She didn't like that. So she started crying, guessed it!...turned in to her crying about boogies. For 30 minutes.

I honest to goodness do not know how to get her to stop once she starts. Maybe there isn't anything I can do and I just need to let her work it out. But it's making me crazy. C-R-A-Z-Y. I will gladly take any suggestions!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flashback Friday - Tiny Little Miracle

I've been MIA lately, but I'm back to play along for another week of Flashback Friday

Ryan at 6 days old with my hand resting on his tiny rump. He was 1lb. 6oz. at birth, but dropped to 1lb.

All babies are miracles. But that baby in that picture there - and the little boy he has grown in to - has made me truly 100% believe in miracles

Gosh, I was there and still can't believe how tiny he was....can't even remember it, really. But I remember being scared, especially after losing our firstborn who was born at almost exactly the same gestation (Zachary was 23 weeks 4 days. Ryan "cooked" one day longer.) 14 months earlier. That's what I mostly remember. Being scared. Scared to love him (impossible not to). Scared to get attached (too late). Scared that we would lose him (the odds weren't in his/our favor). We were warned that even if he survived, there was no telling what kind of long term problems he could have, be they physical or cognitive. We were prepared for the worst. Asthma, chronic lung problems, blindness, deafness, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, seizures,....the list went on and on. All we could do was pray. He spent 6 months in the NICU and battled tummy issues (2 surgeries), an open heart valve that required surgery, infection after infection, prolonged time on the vent and possible talk of needing a tracheostomy (didn't happen...he was even off oxygen before discharge), laser surgeries on his eyes. There were just so many obstacles.

But man, did he beat the odds. Wow. I still can't believe it sometimes. Sure, he is probably legally blind in his right eye and he is extremely farsighted in his left eye and wears glasses to correct that. He may never be able to drive. But he is ALIVE. He is healthy. No lung issues. He is smart. He is funny and sweet (when he wants to be) and inquisitive. He loves life. He may not be the most coordinated 7 year old and he still receives physical, occupational, and speech therapies in school. But he is always making progress. He is very close developmentally in most areas when it comes to his peers. Honestly, after expecting the worst I am ecstatic about well he is doing.

He truly, truly is a miracle.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yep, I Suck

I can't believe how long it's been since I blogged. :::hanging head in shame::: Not sure what happened there. I guess the holidays screwed me up because I was doing SO well there up until Christmas. Speaking of, Christmas was great! The weather cooperated so my parents were able to come on Christmas Eve and go to church with us and Joe's parents. Then we all went to Joe's parents for dinner and the kids opened their gifts from the grandparents. Then back to our house where the kids opened their PJ's delivered early by "Santa" while we were at church and in to bed with them after putting out milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. My parents spent the night (obviously), so they got to be here for the Christmas morning mayhem....which actually turned out not to be nearly as bad as I was expecting. Truthfully, it went WAY better than I thought it would. They each got a few gifts at a time to open at their own pace and when they were all done with those, the paper was gathered up and stuffed in a garbage bag and it was on the next set of gifts. I think they had just enough that they didn't feel overwhelmed and not want to finish unwrapping and just enough that they weren't asking if there were more.

The kids left with my parents around 2:30 to be dropped off at their dad's. They stayed there until New Year's Eve day. That was hard for me. I mean, I was happy for them to be able to spend extra time with him since they only see him every other weekend, but I really missed them. A lot. I think that's where part of my blogging slump came from. And then once I hadn't blogged in like a week, it just became easier and easier to NOT blog. Not to mention, I STILL haven't even uploaded the pictures from Christmas (or since then) to my laptop yet :-X. I know, I know! Slacker. So anyway, we picked the kids up New Years Eve afternoon and headed to my parents house (to spend the night) where we ate dinner and then played the Wii for about 6 hours straight, turning it off just in time for the ball to drop. And then my sister and her hubby went home and we all went to bed (the kids went to bed around 9). Party animals, huh? We had a lot of fun, though.

Not a lot exciting has happened since then, I guess. Except...Brooke is finally almost 100% potty trained! And it only took 3 months. No, I'm not being sarcastic! She still has the occasional pee accident (but usually catches herself and finishes on the toilet), but I no longer have to tell her when to go to the bathroom and she hasn't pooped her pants in WEEKS. ::::happy dance:::: Except...I can't dance,'s an imaginary happy dance :-P.

If I seem a little loopy it's probably because I didn't get much sleep last night. Ryan woke me around 1am to tell me his belly hurt and that he threw up in his bed. I got him and his bed cleaned up and then (since he sleeps on the top bunk) I made him up a bed on the couch (covered it with a sheet and also the floor in front of the couch) and gave him a bucket in case he had to throw up again. He came up 3 hours later, around 4:30, to tell me he threw up again. (In my sleep-hazed state it didn't occur to me to camp out on the couch WITH him...shame on me....but really, it never occurred to me until this morning. That's kind of terrible, huh?) I came down and switched out the sheets because, while he hit the bucket, he also managed to get some on every other surface around him (sheet on the couch, sheet on the floor, AND the pillowcase)...poor kid. I got him settled back on the couch and went to try to get a little more sleep. But Brooke decided to get up about an hour later and kept crying, so in to bed she came with Joe and me. She was extremely restless and I didn't sleep much with her beside me. Ryan came back up at 6:20 to ask for a drink (specifically, no!) and I told him I'd be down in a little while and he should wait a little bit longer before drinking anything. Brooke woke up around 7 and wanted to go pee, so I took her in the bathroom and thought her lips looked really pale and I got nervous. We went back to lay down for just a bit longer and she started coughing a bit and then kind of gasping like she was trying not to puke and I sat her up a couple times. Finally, the 3rd time I heard her stomach gurgling and I picked her up and raced her to the bathroom where we arrived just in time for her to puke in the toilet (which she surprisingly did without fighting me and didn't cry afterwards.....this is an issue with her when she is congested with a cold and throwing up mucus). I thought for sure she was victim #2 of this tummy bug, but it appears that this was just one of those congestion issues (her nose has been a little stuffy/runny the last few days) because she's been totally fine all day. Ryan has kept down everything he's drank (Sierra Mist....a lot of it) and eaten (some crackers, applesauce, and a couple bites of chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner). He's perky and in a good mood, but he is running a fever now. Hopefully the puking is over and tonight will be a better night. Please. I need some sleep. And I'm tired of washing pukey laundry.