Monday, September 21, 2009

Kids say the darndest things: Volume 1

Carter, our oldest son is known fondly in our house as Boy 1. He is truly a joy. He is a little firecracker and has a bit of an attitude sometimes, but the reasons for this, the fuel behind it all is part of what makes him so special. He is loving, caring, kind, curious, and many times just plain hilarious. I wanted to take the time to share with you some of his latest revelations; some clever, some funny, and some that just plain blow me away.

Carter: Mama, what is your dad's name?
Me: (Even though he knows the answer) Jeff.
Carter: What is your mom's name?
Me: (Again he knows the answer) Sharyn
Carter: What is your grandpa's name?
Me: My grandpas were Joe and Frank.
Carter: They died, right?
Me: Yes they did.
Carter: So they are with God?
Me: Yes, they are in heaven with God.
Carter: Well, God won't sit on them.

Carter loves music. Some his favorites that crack me up right now are Technologic, "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black Eyed Peas (known to Carter as the Grey Eyed Peas), and "So What" by Pink.

Owen got a toy cell phone for his birthday. He likes to pretend to talk on it, but Carter really loves to talk on it. He can often be found conducting business, "Mama, I'm talking to a customer. I'm selling a printing press." He wants to be just like Daddy. A conversation he had the other day:

Carter: Ok, yes, I will see you later.
Me: Who were you talking to?
Carter: My daughter.
Me: Your daughter, what is her name?
Carter: Daughter.
Me: Oh, who is her Mama?
Carter: I don't know, just it is not you.

Wes: Carter, what do you want for breakfast (names options, all met with a no.)
Wes: What about a cereal bar?
Carter: No cereal bar.
Wes: But you love cereal bars, especially the granola ones with the chocolate chips.
Carter: Miss Naomi (his preschool teacher that moved away about a month and a half ago) says I should not have chocolate for breakfast so I don't want cereal bars anymore.

Carter calls receiving communion at church "getting Jesus bread". It is awesome seeing him get more and more into church.

I am sure I am forgetting a ton of what we call "Carter stories" that bring endless smiles to our faces. I will be back with more as the occur.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Five years already?

It was five years ago today that I married my very best friend. It turns out he is also the very best husband and the very best Daddy. We are always talking to Carter about choices, mostly about making good ones, i.e. following the rules. Today I feel an overwhelming feeling of certainty that I made the right choice when I pledged my love and my life to this man 5 years ago. (No, in this case my good choice does not have to do with following any rules.) What I'm trying to say is that I am definitely blessed to have this man as my husband, my partner, the father of my children, my best friend and so much more. I love him in so many ways, it truly feels as though there could not possibly be enough words to list them. I think the thing I feel most thankful for today as we celebrate 5 years of marriage is how well we compliment each other. We are a team. There is just not another person in the world that I'd rather have on my team.

Happy Anniversary Wes! I want you to know that I love you and appreciate you today and every day. Also, that I plan to continue to do so for many many years to come.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My New Do

I have been in something of a funk lately. This particular funk is multifaceted. Nearly all of the situations inducing said funk are out of my control. (What else is new?)

So what is a Dara to do? Chop off all of her hair. For those of you that don't know this about me I have what Ashley and I call hair bipolar disorder. She has it too. What happens is we grow our hair long, then when the time feels right (or for me when I am in a funk) we cut it short. Ashley takes this process a step further by changing her hair color every now and again. I don't do hair color, I am too low maintenence. Love you sister! :)

Today I took control of my funk and got my hair cut. I love the cut, and I feel just a little bit lighter.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Print '09, I despise you!

Every year our company (I don't work there now but it is our family business and I will be going back) has booths at two industry trade shows. The bigger of the two is Graph Expo, held in Chicago every year sometime in September. Every 4 years Graph Expo is Print X, whatever year it is. This year is one of those years, Print '09. This basically means Graph Expo on steroids. Graph Expo is usually 3 or 4 days, I can't remember which. This year the show is 6 days. Six. Wes, being the Vice President of the company is obviously an integral part of the show. Thus, Wes has been out of town since last Thursday and will not be home until very late tomorrow night. It has been quite some time since Wes has had to travel overnight. I don't think he has ever been away for this long since we've had the boys. Certainly not since Little Man made his appearance.

We all miss him very much. Carter is having a particularly difficult time. He was ok for the first few days. Now every once in a while he starts this truly sad and pathetic whine and cries, "I want Daddy." Poor guy, he is going to be so excited to see his Daddy on Thursday morning.

I have been lucky to have my mom and Ashley to help me out some, so I haven't been totally solo. Still, I can't wait to have my husband home. I feel blessed that he is so wonderful and so missable. The fact that his presence and help is so missed is really a testament to what a great husband and father he is. We miss you Daddy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Little Man's visit to the ER

Disclaimer: A small part of this post explaining the reason Owen had to the ER may be a bit graphic for some people. I will try to keep it to a minimum, and only explain what is necessary.

Reminder: Owen has a bilateral ureterostomy. His ureters are disconnected from his bladder (since December 4, 2009) so his bladder is just hanging out in his body, never filling with urine. His urine drains through these holes in his abdomen. Nothing should ever be in his bladder. If something comes out of his bladder that is a big concern.

Reminder 2: Wes is in Chicago on a business trip. He left early Thursday morning and will not be back until late Wednesday night.

I meant to get this post up yesterday, but life got in the way. I just haven't had time.

Owen had his VCUG on August 25, where dye was injected into his bladder. As you may remember from that post he was cathed three times before it was successful. He spiked a fever on August 31 and I took him to the doctor. There he was cathed again to make sure nothing was in his bladder, ruling out a bladder infection, which is a risk for him after the VCUG. Nothing came out and the pediatrician decided that he either had something viral or the fever was being caused by a blood blister that developed as one of his incisors was trying to break through. September 4 he had his one year well visit. All was A-OK. A few days later he became feverish again and very fussy. This continued to escalate to the point where I really wondered if it was just teething related. I kept telling myself that the doctor found no infection, he is fine.

Fast forward to Saturday. In the 24 hour period from Friday night to afternoon nap time on Saturday Little Man slept only 7.5 hours. This is not enough sleep, and not like him. He was fussy, clingy, and inconsolable at times. I had begun to worry. He woke up from his afternoon nap after only 45 minutes (way shorter than normal, especially considering his poor nighttime sleep and lack of morning nap). Even worse, instead of chatting or fussing to let me know he was awake, he was screaming as though in excruciating pain. I tried to comfort him and went to change his diaper.

Here comes the slightly graphic bit...

In his diaper near where his penis is there was a brownish sort of rust colored spot that looked exactly like dried blood. I freaked. As far as I could deduce, blood had discharged from his penis. This is a big deal, a big no no. Something to be worried about.

I called the urologist's office and waited the agonizing 20 minutes that it took him to call me back. After some discussion he thought that it was unlikely that there was a bladder infection resulting from the VCUG because of how long it had been. He thought the repeated catherizations could have caused irritation resulting in the bloody discharge. After discussing the fact that I had taken him to the pediatrician twice and he had undergone a general checkup resulting in nothing but normal findings, and hearing that the symptoms (fever mostly) had been persistent for so long, he recommended that I take Owen to the ER.

My mom came over to watch Carter and Ashley went with us to the ER. We waited for an hour just to be seen in triage and a total of 2.5 hours to go back to our room.

Long story short: He was examined. He was held down while the nurses looked for a vein and took blood. We both cried. They were going to place an IV since they had to stick him anyway but it infiltrated, just like I told them often happens. The nurse said "You were right mom." Do you know why I was right? Because I have seen it too many times, Owen has been through it too many times. Going through things like this never gets easier for either of us.

Diagnosis: Owen's left ear was "a little red, but probably not enough to cause the fever and elevated white blood cell count" The ER doctor talked to Dr. Gazak, who told him not to collect a urine sample (the only way to do that is to cath his ostomies, which would not provide a valid sample since they are open to the skin and the skin always caries bacteria) and to put him on a vigorous course of a stronger antibiotic than the one that he as a proflyactic.

Translation: Owen might have a slight ear infection and probably has a UTI. We have made it almost 11 months without Owen getting a UTI or a more serious kidney infection, which is a major concern with bladder reflux kids. Especially those with reflux as severe as Owen's and those children with ostomies. Now here we are less than a month away from Owen's reimplantation surgery and he gets an infection.

What now?: They send more specific blood cultures off to check for a more serious (kidney) infection. We hope they don't find one. I watch him. I make sure his fever doesn't spike and that he doesn't act out of sorts. Mostly, I worry and hope I will be able to tell if something more serious is wrong. Also, we pray.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One Year Old Stats

In all of life's recent craziness, I forgot to post about Little Man's one year well visit. He weighs in at 20.4 lbs. and is 31 1/4 inches long (the right side, which is his unaffected leg). I have to look up what Carter's weight was at 1 year, but I know it was less than 20 lbs. Funny that this boy that was so sick turns out to be my little chunker! The doctor was very happy with his growth and development. We also had the chance to update him on all the recent news from the different specialists. Owen is on a delayed vaccination schedule so he did not receive any shots at this visit. Actually, before the one year visit he was all caught up since there were no shots at 9 months (when he received his 6 month shots), but we have decided to keep him on the delayed schedule. We decided to put off the 1 year immunizations particularly because of the close proximity to his bladder surgeries.

Speaking of bladder surgery, the big day is going to be October 12. We were hoping for the end of September, but that is the first available date so we are going with it. We still feel blessed to be moving forward. Call it irony, coincidence, whatever you want, but this reimplantation surgery will be taking place once year to the day after Owen's original surgery was performed!

The pediatrician was also surprised and thrilled that Owen is walking, and doing it so well. He agreed with the orthopedist that his leg strength is equal on both sides. This is something to be truly thankful for.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I fought my laptop and the laptop won!

On Wednesday I was rushing to get out of the house and had an accident. I wasn't late or really in any hurry to be anywhere, I just tend to move quickly and am admittedly a bit of a klutz. So my laptop was sitting on top of a fairly high end table (about 3 feet high I'd say) and was plugged in to a nearby outlet. I tripped over the cord and the computer came crashing down on my foot. It hit my right foot diagonally, battery side down, across the big toe side of my foot. I screamed, loud. Owen really was a little trooper. He just sat there nicely looking at me like perhaps I had lost my mind as I crawled to the couch and cried and cried. My mom was out, but luckily when I called her to come rescue me she was only about 5 minutes away. My big toe and the part of my foot right under it was already purple and very very swollen. I applied ice for about half an hour, saw no improvement and decided that and x-ray was going to be necessary. My sister came to get me since I couldn't drive and my mom kept Owen. To make a long story short, I went to the doctor (luckily they do x-rays right in the office), and found out that my big toe was broken. It is a pretty bad break right across where my toenail is. She said that I wouldn't need a cast because you really can't cast a toe, especially when the break is that far up, but I would need to stay off of it. I started laughing and so did she. Her daughter goes to school with Carter so she knows that I have two small children whose care necessitates that I be ON my feet much of the time. Nope she said, I was getting crutches and would need to enlist help. My mom and Ashley both pitched in where there schedules allowed on Thursday, but they both already had plans to be out of town this weekend. Wes ended up having to take Friday off work because I couldn't carry Owen. Probably not his idea of a riveting vacation day, but I really appreciate his support.

I'm still on the crutches. My toe hurts extremely bad and the rest of my foot, although it is not broken does not feel very swell either. Uh, no pun intended, it is actually very swollen. I'm looking forward to the pain subsiding and being able to put weight on my foot. Crutches really are not fun at all. At least my upper body is getting a workout!

Friday, September 4, 2009

News from the Orthopedist

Owen had an appointment with his orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday. This was the first official appointment to discuss and deal with his leg length discrepancy. Of course we have known about the LLD since he was 5 days old and learned more when he was about 2 months old. We thought we were dealing with a congenital short femur and knew that he would require a leg lengthening surgery. Because the surgery needs to be coordinated around his growth pattern and growth spurts it will likely be when he is between 8 and 10 years old.

This was the appointment at which we were to begin measuring the length of the femur. He had a baseline x-ray, which unfortunately showed not only that the left femur is 2 cm shorter than the right, but that his left tibia is also short. I was devastated. I did not expect to go there and receive news that yet another thing was wrong with my Little Man. Dr. Casey, his orthopedist was not all that surprised and I guess I really shouldn't be either. The discrepancy has always been obvious in the femur and not so obvious in the tibia (it is 1 cm short) but we were never told that his tibia was unaffected. At this point he is much to young to consider lengthening, but this makes figuring out how to go about it even more difficult. There are what seem to be 100 different options. To name a few, she may have to lengthen the femur and the tibia, just the femur, lengthen both twice, lengthen both once and then shorten the "long" leg a bit. There are complex growth formulas which she will use in conjunction with measurement on x-rays to decide what to do. The bottom line is that it is going to be a long time before we know anything, and it is weighing heavily on my mind.

The good news: she was thrilled that he is walking and that he did so as early as he did. She said the strength is equal in both legs, he has done a wonderful job compensating for the discrepancy and she believes he will continue to do so. That brings me to the next issue: heel lifts. Since the surgery can't be done until he is much older, it will be necessary for Owen to have a heel lift on his left shoe. We were expecting that to begin now since he is a full-blown walker, but for many perfectly reasonable and understandable medical reasons that I will not bore you with, she wants to wait. I didn't want to wait and thought about arguing with her about it, but she was able to validate her reasoning and convince me that it is better to wait. We go again in 6 months for more x-rays and measurements. At that time we will revisit the possibility of beginning the lifts. At the very latest we will start with them when he is 2.

More good news: His hips are both still in perfect position and are looking great. Also, the bone quality and composition in the left leg looks just the same as in the right. That means it is just the length discrepancy and not something worse or more complicated that we are dealing with.

This is the main reason I have been hesitating to post. I didn't know how to talk about this latest development. I didn't know how much to share or what to say. What it has come down to is that this is my outlet, writing is my therapy and I have always been very honest about my emotions and feelings. Ok, so we got some unexpected and bad news, but we also learned that it is not the end of the world, it is still fixable, and there is plenty of good news to be thankful for. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful, eternally thankful and grateful. I am also angry, confused, sad and just upset and frustrated. I hate having to watch my baby go through this, I hate that he has to deal with this. I want what is best for him. I don't want to have to wait, I don't want him to have a disability to deal with for years to come, I don't want to watch him struggle. I don't want to go back every 6 months for more x-rays and to be told that the discrepancy is now larger, to continue to be fitted for new heel lifts each time he outgrows a pair of shoes. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am having a hard time with all of this. I am blessed to have Owen, I wouldn't give him up for anything in the whole wide world. It is just hard to watch your baby go through hardship, it is hard when there are things that you cannot fix no matter how good of a mom you are. It is a terribly helpless feeling.

Little Man's Birthday Party

We had a small birthday party for Owen last Saturday with family and a few friends. Thanks to all that were here, and we really missed those that couldn't make it. Of course he didn't really know much about what was going on, just that there were a lot of people in the house and the poor guy's teeth hurt so bad. He was a bit of a cranky guest of honor, but we still had a very nice time.
Some pictures:Mama, Owen and Carter before the guests arrived. Aunt A holding the birthday boy.
The birthday cupcake cake. I wanted something with a tiger on it, but Tigger was as close as I could get.
Mama and Daddy singing Happy Birthday.Blowing out the candle.Carter and his friends Christian and Carter.Owen waiting for the cupcake that he really wanted nothing to do with. He had a bit of a been there, done that attitude. Pappy helping Owen open gifts. I don't know why we bother buying the children toys when they really prefer playing with boxes.
Now the box and some paper! Owen playing with his new cell phone.

Owen's Birthday Pictures

I am so behind and have not blogged for a little bit. Since I am totally Type A and don't like to combine too many topics into one post, I should have a few coming up in the next day or two. First, please enjoy some photos of the Little Man's first birthday.

Wes and Owen opening gifts.Carter getting in on the action.

Mama and the Birthday boy!

Owen's birthday cupcake.

Digging in and getting his hands dirty!Clapping with DaddyCarter eating his cupcake.