Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Right to Choose

I used to think I was a super feminist. My little brother used to have all sorts of names for me, teasing me about my need to push my agenda and the ideas of leaders in the women's rights movement. "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." I had that hanging on my wall. My mom would laugh under her breath, never taking it too seriously, knowing it was a phase.
At work, I am part of a leadership team that is about 50% women. I spent many years thinking these women were my competitors and feeling a need to be superior to them. There were personality clashes and some really ugly talking behind backs and other junior high behavior. It felt like a race for attention, accolades, and promotions. A few years ago, one of the women I had butted heads with for so long told me she respected and admired me, and it blew my mind. I secretly had always been jealous of her success and saw her as a great example in so many things, and yet felt pitted against her and would not admit my need to have her on my side. When she took that step to talk to me and express those things, my perception of being a woman in the workplace changed dramatically. I wanted to be like her, openly. And I told myself I would find a way to take up the gauntlet-I would be a leader of women, I would not keep competing with coworkers based on nothing more than our gender.
Having a daughter has reinforced my need to be a feminist and yet to redefine what that means to me. I want Clara to have every choice in the world when it comes to career and love and life. And I want her to know that getting married and becoming a mom can be choices she makes along with or in lieu of a career. My choice to work full time as a mom is right for me and for my family. She'll build her family her way.
I saw something online today that really bugged me. A woman was making jokes about another woman with a lot of children, making snide remarks about making sure she had birth control. My blood boiled for a few minutes. It is what prompted this post.
I am sad when I see women not supporting and celebrating each other's choices. I want Clara to have the right to have 7 screaming kids if she wants them. I want her to have the right to have no kids if she wants. And I want her to be able to make all those choices with the support of her sisters-the women she makes friends with and the women who know nothing about her and see her in a store.
When we joined the heart world, we joined a sorority of heart sisters who have brought such joy and knowledge and support to each other. I often feel so very socially awkward and have a hard time putting myself in new situations without a safety net of friends or family. But I have grown to see that there are people who, through a shared sense of unexpected identity, think nothing of what I look like, what I have accomplished or what I believe. They welcomed Clara and my family immediately and offered support with no judgment. And when I think about what it means to be a mom and the first example Clara will absorb of being a woman....I am just glad to have gone through those phases and come out stronger and hopefully wiser.
Clara will know that she is a divine gift, and that being a woman is special and important. That she deserves respect and love. She will be taught to be strong in her own choices and stronger still in not putting down the choices of others.
As a feminist, it is my right to be bald like a boy.
And super cute anyway.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Silly Girl

She just keeps me laughing, every day...

Learning to crawl, by climbing up Mom. She also has gotten good
about wriggling her eyebrows at me when I do it to her.

"If I could master this face with the crinkly nose they love, I'd NEVER have to nap again!
Bwa Haa Haa!"

Judgy Face. Like I'm the first mom in the world to spend the day wearing
pajamas and eating croissants for every meal.

 She doesn't really care for socks and such, but she'll let me put any old
thing on her head. Like pants.
Has there ever been a cuter thumb sucker?
Flirting with her dad




Sunday, November 25, 2012

How's My Parenting? (Call 1-800-OOPSIE)

We don't know what we're doing here, but we are having fun.
Aunt Sherrie and Clara
It's been a busy few months, we come alive around here when the summer heat ends. Clara finally got to meet my brother and his family from Texas, and my sister and her family from Virginia. We even got to spend a few rain-soaked days up at Swiss Days where Clara loved napping on Aunt Sherrie and visiting with heart-Aunts Jill and Angee.
Wriggly Girl! I have
a feeling her next echo
might have to be a
sedated one.

September and October were full of doctor appointments-nothing radical, just a bunch of vaccinations and weight checks and an echo. Her last echo looked good, though there is still a bit more gradient (narrowing) where the stents were placed. Dr. Pinto estimates that her next open heart surgery will take place closer to 3 years of age than the original 5 or 6 that we hoped for. We'll have another echo in January to check that the stents are still doing their work.
Watching TV makes
her so happy!

Clara has gotten so silly the last few months. She is so quick to smile, and she loves TV. This is where I begin to question our parenting skills-she will stop crying or eating or anything she is doing when she hears the following on TV: the theme song to the old Beverly Hills 90210 (weekday mornings on Soapnet, I am not ashamed to DVR it), Chris Matthews on MSNBC, and the guy in the Humana commercials. And when I say she stops to watch TV, I mean she stops and smiles and giggles and focuses on the TV. We might have ruined her already.

She also smiles anytime we sing her theme song. Oh, yes, you heard that right, she has a theme song. The only words so far are "Clara-bell! Do do do!" followed by a bunch more do do dos. We don't want to pigeon-hole her yet, before she has had a chance to develop all her super powers. So we'll fill in the do do dos later with actual lyrics, once we know what type of skills she has, once she's picked out her cape and tiara, etc.

Eating toes

Clara also has started to eat very well, she's averaging about 24 ounces a day finally and is still on the growth chart in the 4th percentile at 14 pounds. We decided to try baby foods a few months ago, without really checking with her doctor or following any of the prescribed methods used to introduce babies to new foods while watching for allergies. Nope, we just jumped right in and tried peas and squash and bananas and pears....she loved them all. Her pediatrician later had us slow down and focus on just a few foods at a time, and in very small amounts still. But sometimes we throw caution to the wind and let her have jello. There's always jello at Aunt Jenn's house.
Eating wipes

She also eats, well, everything else. Fingers, blankets, toys, floor lint, my hair, things that make crinkly noises, toes (hers, mine, Todd's), diapers that get left too close to her hands, the wipe packages, the clothes on her body. Everything. She's also going to crawl, any day now. I can't imagine what she'll be finding to eat next.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Todd's parents this year, just them and us and Clara. We love to show off our girl and how big she is getting, everyone tells us she looks so much like her dad, but that might be the bald head :)

I took Clara shopping with us on Black Friday, she was pretty fascinated from the first stop at Lowe's where she ended up in a bucket. She lost enthusiasm after about 7 hours and no real naps, but sure giggled when we got home and she got to see her dad (and she finally saw the floor again, her favorite place to play. She had been in someone's arms for days, with all the visiting family, she almost lost her mind when she got to stretch and roll and crawl again!)

I love the holidays, and I'm so excited for Clara's first Christmas. It has been a year of ups and downs and heartbreak and joy. We've met new friends in the heart and 22q worlds, we've said hello and goodbye to some, we've bonded as a family. About 3 times a week, Todd and I have to look at each and ask "well, now what do we do?" Becoming parents has been the most fun challenge of our marriage, we love making it up as we go. And we're certain we'll be purchasing at least one helmet this Christmas season, it's chaos around here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

By The Numbers

Months since Clara was born: 5
Days she has now been home from the hospital, in a row: 35

Times she tried to kick the blanket off her legs when her mom thought she looked cold: 4 billion
Times she has peed on said blankets: about 10

Number of thymuses she has: 0
Number of times she's been sick: 0 (I'm not counting her sternal infection post-surgery, that was happening, thymus or no thymus)

Weeks without feeding tube: almost 3
Weeks without gaining weight, but not losing any either!: almost 3

Tubeless nights she has slept through: 2 or 3
Nights she has creeped out her parents by staring at her mobile and slowly, mindlessly scratching at her sheets, as if possessed: 2

Times she grabbed Dad's chops and pulled hairs: countless
Number of hairs on her own head: 7ish (maybe she's trying to steal his for implant?)

Number of times I have made her watch the Twilight movies, Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Real Housewives reunion shows: hundreds
Number of times her dad has let her watch Disney and Pixar movies: hundreds
(Clearly, one of us has a better pulse on what is appropriate for babies than the other)

Road trips with mom: 2
Rides on ATV: 2

Trips to the pool: 1
Trips to Costco and the grocery store: 5 (one of these activities is air conditioned, one is not...)

Times I've picked her wee nose: too many to count
Times she has picked mine: 2, this morning in fact

5Ks completed: 1
Pedicures completed: 4
Shoes worn: 0 (she has my short, fat  hobbit feet, I'm afraid and nothing fits yet)

Elf ears: 1
Tiny cute bums: 1
Perfect broken hearts: 1
Super smitten parents: 2

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Out and Proud

About a month ago, Clara and I had gone to dinner with some of my family. It was a super hot day, and the restaurant had a lot of fans on the ceiling, so I opened Clara's carseat cover so she could get a breeze (and commune with her favorite thing on the planet, ceiling fans.) A waitress came by and saw her feeding tube, which led to a discussion of her son having been on a feeding tube when born premature. When she asked about Clara, I said she had a heart defect, had had surgery, and was now learning to eat.
After the waitress left, my mom sort of questioned why I had told her about Clara's heart, not 22q. At the time, I honestly was just trying to get the waitress to leave-our waiter had brought our food and I was too hungry to discuss chromosome abnormalities. Heart defects are easier for most people to understand.
But since that day, I have thought a lot about this insignificant little encounter, and my feelings about this journey. I've realized that you can't (at least I can't) find out that your baby has significant health problems that might impact her whole life, and then see her miraculously treated and see her grow and flourish without acknowledging that she is a gift. And if there is a gift, there is a Giver. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a Heavenly Father who gave us our Clara, and I can only take this wonder, this gift and find a way to give back in her honor.
When we first found out Clara might have 22q, we told very few people. The possibility of having a special needs child was daunting, and we weren't ready to have people ask a lot of questions, overload us with information they found on Google, or look sad and uncomfortable, not knowing what to say. And when we found out she did have 22q, and we told a few more people, that is exactly what happened. I found myself feeling defensive about what caused it, to deflect any possible blame. I got irritated when people would tell us about their friend's neighbor's sister's son who has 22q and is 11 and 'is just fine, you'd never know!' I went back and forth between wanting to tell them that it is ok to know someone is different, that makes us interesting, and wanted to shout that I didn't care about other cases, I cared about Clara and what this meant for her!
So now, with Clara stabilizing, getting stronger, and life settling down again, it is time for us to focus our efforts on helping people know and understand 22q, heart defects, and what can be done to help those in our situation. We are going to tell everyone who will listen, we are going to wear it on our sleeves. We are going to work with our geneticist to help spread awareness of 22q support groups and we hope to build a local community of 22q friends for Clara. I am wary of the word 'normal', but I know that the mildness of Clara's condition so far means she will have a lot of strength and energy to give to educate people about special needs, so its only fair that we get it started for her. I want her to be proud of who she is, what she has overcome, and the tiny missing pieces of her chromosomes that will make her experience on this planet as complete as any other, in her own special way.
Oh, and we pulled her tube the other night. This girl is going to eat, just to prove she can :)

Barenaked Lady

She hates clothes, and she eats now, so we celebrate with a little song parody tonight...
Chickity China, the Chinese Chicken
(Good luck getting it out of your head now!)

It's been... one week since you looked at us
Cocked your head to the side and said "I'm hungry"
Five days since you laughed at us saying
"Get a big bottle, come back and see me"
Three days since the living room
We realized you don't need tubes, but couldn't tell you
Yesterday... you ate all your food
and you'll still be tube free and hungry tomorrow

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Aunt Sherrie and
Clara's glitter heart
The too-long, hot days of summer have sucked the will out of me and forced me to spend hours playing sudoku on my phone in my house. Ok, maybe it's not just the weather, maybe it's the NG blues.
I hate this tube. I can't wait to run it over with a lawn mower...More on that in a minute.

Watching Barbie movies
A few weeks ago, Clara and I made a trip up to the mountains with my family, we had a reunion up at Big Bear Lodge and had a lot of fun playing with all the other grandkids. Because Todd is often sick with migraines, Clara and I spend time gallivanting about on our own like the Gilmore Girls to give him some respite. My entire family, minus Todd and my brother in law in Virginia, was in town and made it to the party. Because we had our cath lab visit scheduled for the following Monday, we had to keep her from getting sick, and so we spent a lot of time cuddling inside, listening to the rain. She did get to hit her first pinata and she took her first ride on an ATV. She also spent an afternoon watching a Barbie movie with Nana and the kids, and she loved it!

Post surgery,
VERY comfy
The trip to the cath lab was very successful. It started out rocky, with the IV team attempting to put in her IV and me not being able to sit in my chair and listen to the anesthesiologist while she was screaming-I just had to jump up and hold her hand. But the dear anesthesiologist knew I was close to tears, and took mercy on us all. He offered to wait until she was in the lab and use the gas mask to calm her while they placed the IV, out of Mom's sight. He was so kind, he also made sure she was more heavily sedated after the procedure to ensure she would be able to handle the 6 hours after where she had to keep her legs straight. They normally can just bundle these little ones, a good tight swaddle will keep them calm and mostly still. We told him Clara would probably not tolerate that well, and he was great about making sure she was comfortable.

Sleepover with
the nurses!
After reviewing all of that, Dr. Gray (the doctor performing the procedure) came in and reviewed the procedure details with us. He said that most of the time, with little veins in Clara's condition, a balloon would not take care of the narrowing and he believed it would be necessary to place a stent. We had been forewarned of the possibility by cardiology, and had no concerns. We trust Primary Children's and their staff so deeply to always take good care of our baby, we knew they would do whatever was best. He then walked us all down to the radiology department, and I handed my sweet girl off to a nurse. It felt so weird to walk out of there without her-we'd spend MANY hours in the radiology department replacing NJ tubes in April. Usually, she was never more than 3 feet from us, and this was new.
Todd and I were given a pager, and expected to be notified in 2-3 hours when the procedure was complete. We actually left the hospital to get some Subway and kill some time. We then returned to the waiting room and before we knew it, the pager went off, our girl was done!

Preparing for her
first ATV ride. Or
was this before
cath lab?
We rushed to radiology and met again with Dr. Gray. We got to watch a high-speed 'film' of the procedure, filmed through x-ray. He explained that he ended up going in both legs, through 3 places, in order to place 2 stents instead of 1. We watched the cath go in, balloon up, then deflate and go back out, leaving the stents in place. We held our breath, watching her little heart beat, seeing the ties on her ribs and sternum from her open heart surgery, and now the stents. The amazing, live saving bits of metal that keep our girl together! We did have to keep Clara at the hospital overnight, just for observation, since they had messed around in there a bit more than expected. But Dr. Gray was so optimistic about her pressures and the hopes for her right ventricle to recover entirely, and we can't wait to see her prove him right.

After returning home, Clara started a new regimen of de-tubing herself and developing skin problems, over and over. We had heat rash and diaper rash and more impetigo and skin irritation from the tape. She learned to pull her tube by pulling the untaped bit near her nose, pulling the 'tail' that hangs off her, rubbing the tape over and over until it came off, without mittens, with mittens, and she even hooked the tube in her toes a few times and attempted that method. She's smart and wiley, but not yet smart enough to know that pulling out her tube means torture for the whole family.

Ooops. No tube.
Tube replacements are awful. We try to put the tube on the side of her nose that is in the best shape. Her skin on both cheeks is continually irritated, so there is no winning on this. But we pick a side, clean it and put on some cavilon to help the tape stick. She tends to laugh and smile during this process, as if to talk us out of it. Which then makes the next step so much more painful-I hold her hands and kind of restrain her while Todd puts the tube up her nose and down her throat. And the look on her face goes from pure joy to pure terror, it feels like we have betrayed her to the deepest core of her soul. And that part goes quick, but then we have to try to hold the tube in the right spot, to the right depth, keep her kind of still while I try to get the tape on in the right place. Even with the gagging and choking from the tube over, she is so mad and does not want us near her face. She turns her head from side to side and cries and screams and it feels like we're wrestling an 11 pound wild cat. And as soon as we're finished, I scoop her up and cuddle her and she calms down, but does that pitiful hiccup-sob thing that girls do after a big crying fit and it haunts me for hours. I know that sound well, because I am often making the same sound at the same time. Poor Todd, I hope her teenage years come with less drama. One of the times recently when we had to re-tube her twice in one day, after we finished, she turned her head to Todd and told him off. There might not have been words, but she got her message across. She calmly but forcefully babbled at him for about 15 seconds with the maddest look on her face, she made it known that this was not a process that she would continue to tolerate.

We met with Clara's pediatrician yesterday for her 4 month vaccines, and we talked about our NG PTSD. She is going to work with GI and Primary to see if we can get in any earlier-currently we are scheduled for the end of September just to meet with them, not even for the actual procedure. We love Dr. Molberg, she is great about hearing us out and making sure Clara is happy and healthy. She even called me today, on a Saturday, to let me know she wanted to refer us to ophthalmology as well since vision problems are common with 22q. It feels good to know that she was working on Clara, even on the weekend. Clara is so lucky to have such a strong team of professionals, family and friends on her side.

Clara and Addi
Our good friend Eric also came and visited last night. He brought his sweet 18 month old daughter Addi. And here is proof positive that the instinct to feed babies is strong and urgent and ingrained in us at a very young age. Addi was a bit tired and not super interested in Clara for the first few minutes when she got there. But then she saw Clara's tiny bottle with juice in it (ok, mostly water and Thick It, with about 8 drops of apple juice). Immediately, her eyes lit up and I helped her pick up the bottle and held Clara while she put the bottle in her mouth. Clara mostly laughed at us both, not eating anything. But Addi was so happy, and spent most of the night worrying about feeding Clara, and getting mad when she couldn't-I hear you, sister, it makes me mad too! Even at that young age, she just knows, that's what you do with babies. You feed them! For the record, she was not quite as interested when it came time to change Clara's diaper. Guess that instinct is not as strong :)

Flirting with Uncle Nate
The vaccines yesterday have made Clara a bit cranky and fussy. She was up most of last night, and she spent most of today sleeping in my arms. She is usually only in to cuddling when she is tired or cold, so it was nice to have her need me so much today. I miss her so much during the week while I'm at work, though her dad does a good job of sending me updates and pictures during the day. Our little family nest is so snug and comfy, we spend a lot of time watching our little miracle and being thankful that we can plan for Clara's future, knowing she will have a bright and healthy one. And some day, soon, all the NG tubes and supplies will be fed to Uncle Nate's lawnmower. He has a habit of ruining lawnmowers, surely he won't notice a few bits of orange tube and tegaderm in there, right?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cardiology for Beginners

At our last cardiology follow up, Dr. Pinto had advised us that she had some small concerns about part of Clara's heart repair. To repair Truncus Arteriosus, the surgeon takes the common trunk that should have been an aorta (send the oxygenated blood to the body) and pulmonary artery (send the blood to the lungs to get oxygen) and turns it in to the aorta. He (or she) then takes the periphery pulmonary arteries and places a conduit between them and the heart, thus building a new main pulmonary artery. Ta da!
The new artery (conduit)
is where the narrowing is
However, where the conduit creates a T with the periphery artery, there was some (expected) narrowing showing in her echo taken shortly after surgery. Today, they did another echo on her and found that the narrowing is getting worse and it is impacting the effort made by her right ventricle. Long story short, we'll be making a visit to the PCMC cath lab soon. The news is that it is an easy, generally same day procedure. The surgeon will go in through a vein in her thigh and use a balloon to stretch the area that is narrowing. If needed, they may have to place a stent to keep it open. If all goes well, we're home for dinner.
The good news from the appointment-Clara is getting a g tube! After we re-fix her heart, Dr. Pinto has referred us to GI to get the ball rolling. So while that is probably a few months away, I can see a light at the end of the tegaderm tunnel. 2 tape changes per week x maybe 10 weeks means less than 2 dozen NG tube nervous breakdowns for Mom. I know there will be new and different challenges with this new tube, but we have heard so many good things in comparison to the NG. We also got cleared to take Clara up in the mountains this weekend for a family reunion, no oxygen required! We'll take progress where ever we can!
Showing off her muffin top
after her echo

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Nothing Much to Report

It has been 6 months since we found out about Clara's heart defect as of Friday. That was another Friday the 13th entirely. It felt like our whole world turned sideways, but we've mostly gotten our sea legs since then. I  do find it suspicious that my mom and sisters are always at market on Friday the 13th, however. I am beginning to think it is to test me and my coping skills.

Clara has had a tough week. She pulled out her tube a few times, her impetigo is back for about the 6th time, and she seems to be just plain cranky. We hate summer in this family, excessive heat makes us grumpy. It seems that the heat combined with the tape we use to keep her tube in adds up to her skin getting irritated and infected. This leads to use changing the tape every few days to let her skin breathe and recover (PS, it is Not. Working.) and the tape change leads to Clara and I crying and crying. She knows when it's coming, I think she sees the supplies sitting on the bed after bath time and she starts to get upset. And her cry has become more and more sad-instead of just a little kitty baby cry, she has started to sound so much more real when crying, like she knows what is going on. And it breaks my heart every time, because it's me causing this cry. It's the worst feeling in the world.

We did get to visit Uncle Nate and Aunt CC for dinner last night, and Clara was happy for several minutes in a row. I think it's because of the nice cool air that Nate, as a hardcore Wallace, so appreciates. If something happens to Todd and I, Clara needs to live with someone who really appreciates her need for industrial sized air conditioning units in private, single family homes. That's on you Nate, Sherrie and Papa.   

Clara is also getting very determined to turn over, she's even attempting it while in Genevieve and then yelling and yelling at us when it doesn't work. When she's on the floor, she is so happy because she can turn to her side and she does it over and over, then falls asleep. She's learning so much, so fast, and we love watching her change and grow.

We're meeting with Cardiology tomorrow and hope for some help with getting us in to GI quickly. We need them to move her to a g tube in her belly, I can't keep torturing my baby girl with skin infections and tegaderm tape.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Making Our Own Socks

There is a commercial for socks that always cracks me up. You see a dad and his son applying a white cement-like paste to their feet, and when mom returns home and asks what they are doing, they explain that they can't find socks that stay on without losing their shape ("and we're sick of it" says dad. "Sick of it" enforces son), so they are making something that will stay on permanently. The mom tells them that is stupid, and produces a  solution-socks that maintain their shape! And the family is joyous and they all jump on the bed together in their crisp, white, appropriately curved socks. Hoorah!
This is similar to what I foresee for the next few years. I go back to work in 2 days, and my control issues are creeping up on me. I am nervous to not be here to make sure things go smoothly, and I'm facing the fact that they won't go smoothly, and that it's ok.
High maintenance newborns create a lot of work and stress, diligent time keeping skills, and much patience. It's hard enough with both Todd and I around, and I know it will be harder when he's on his own. Clara is a full time job of feeding and cleaning and changing and laundry and restarting the mobile, replacing the binkie, re-applying raspberries to her tummy.
But I'm learning that people who are not me can also take care of Clara just as well, even if it's different than how I would do it. When the socks won't stay on, I know Todd will find an alternative process for keeping feet warm. I predict big messes and crazy ideas and that at least once a pet will be purchased without mom's input. Like so many working moms, I am sad that I have to leave and miss all the fun and chaos and milestones. I'm worried that I won't be here to figure out how to handle things going awry, but I know Todd will use his creativity and endless love of Clara to fix any problems that come up. And I can't wait to come home from work and tell them it's stupid and give them my solution ;)  Then we can all jump on the bed and laugh together in ecstasy!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Firsts and Lasts

Its just less than a week before I return to work, and we're trying to squeeze in all the activities we can.

We started by going with Aunt Jenn and (most of) her kids to the Lehi Rec Center pool today to get away from the insane heat. Todd is attempting to deliver a 6mm kidney stone, so Clara and I went on our own. Clara was not super impressed with the heat, and wasn't sure yet about the juxtaposition of cool water, but she did a bit of splashing, snoozing, eating, puking and smiling. Not bad for her first swim day!

She also wore a size 5 diaper for the first time. Mom didn't think to bring anything but swimming diapers, and we needed something to change in to for the drive home. Thanks for sharing, Tate and Tanner!

Fits well, yes?

We also had another visit from Clara's speech therapist today. Ironically, while this is the first visit where she was really happy with Clara's progress on oral feeds, it was also the first visit where she did not gain any  weight. It felt like a tiny step back, but I quickly put it out of my mind when I remembered that she has been eating almost half an ounce, on a regular basis, this last week. The ST also told me I was the first mom she worked with who tracks feeds in Microsoft Excel. You should see the graphs we have going!

Heart Jams!
 I think Clara has worn my favorite heart jammies for  the last time, the ones we brought her home in. We 
love how much they remind of us her miraculous heart, and she wears them 
when the other heart babies are in need of moral support. She might not be
gaining weight, but she did get taller-her toes are ready to break through the
footy part. I think we need to have Nana Wallace help turn them in to jammie

I bought KY Jelly for Clara this week. I needed a water based lube to place her NG tube, and this was what they had. So that's a first to commemorate, I think?

101 Degrees at almost 5:00 PM

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Bits In Between

Our days  have gotten quiet, life is settling down, it's almost time for me to get back to reality and work. Clara is doing so well. We went to the ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) clinic to check on her snorty breathing. Her cardiologist was concerned that there was a possibility of a nerve being nicked during surgery, a nerve  that would impact how she swallows and her voice box. The ENT doctor cleared her in every way. The nerve does not seem to have been nicked and her palate seemed to have no abnormalities, which is unusual for 22q kids. He believes she just has a floppy voice box and will grow out of it-Nana Wallace reminded us that there is a lot of floppiness in our family, no big deal :)

Waiting for
Cinderella to

Clara attended her first cultural event-we went to see her cousin Ellie perform in Cinderella. When she wasn't sleeping, she loved the lights and glitter and wonderful costumes and colors! I cried a bit when watching a sweet little girl with Downs Syndrome dancing with the girls, assisted by another dancer. I can't wait until Clara is old enough to participate in dance or any activities she wants-and I hope there are such wonderful partners for her if she needs it. It reminded me that she can do anything she wants, this girl is strong and she will rock it.

Clara's disorganized
tongue, she always
sticks it out her
left side.

Speaking of being strong, Clara's ENT and speech therapist believe her biggest obstacle to eating is her weak cranofacial muscles. She has been eating about 3 mL orally, which is a sip in adult terms. So when speech was here yesterday, we tried feeding her on her side with thickened formula. Then she can suck in the formula and let it sit in her cheek for a second before gathering the energy to swallow without choking on it. She has become disorganized about eating, no knowing where to place her tongue and how to process everything in order. So we are taking it slow and practicing this new method, and she actually ate almost 1/2 ounce yesterday! She is sleeping more, this is definitely sapping her energy a bit, but we won't give up unless she does. In the mean time, we are still going to set up an appointment with GI to explore moving to a g tube, just in case.

Comfort for Kids
care package
 We are so lucky to have found so many online support groups to share ideas and advice and strength. The 22q group we participate in has a mom with a cute little daughter around 11 years old. She had an idea to  start an organization to help 22q kids feel better when they have surgery. It's called Comfort for Kids, go like their Facebook page and donate today! This sweet girl and her family have done a great job, and they sent a darling care package to Clara this week (it was sent last time she had surgery, but due to hospital mix ups, arrived here yesterday.) She  is fascinated by the toy with the bells on it, especially when I put it on her foot.  We have a soft cozy blanket, a bunch of fun books and DVDs, and our favorite part-the artwork on the box. Thank you to Kirsten and Amy and your family, it was so sweet!
Comfort for Kids box

I know that when I return to work, life won't stop and I'll still get lots of time with my sweet pea. I intend to keep her locked in on weekends, snuggling with me and telling her stories. But my 'vacation' will be over soon and we intend to make the best of it. We're going to stuff in all things we can, some swimming, heart mom play dates, a trip to the mall, and maybe a visit to the canyons for some s'mores. It feels good to have some control over our lives again, to know she is doing well, and to get out and play with her.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Clara's Dad

I want you to always know how lucky you are to have picked the Dad that you did. You could not have found a more loving, sensitive, silly, giving, smart person to be your first prince in this life. When I woke him at 4:00AM that August morning to tell him we were pregnant with you, a light came in to his eyes and it hasn't dimmed a bit since. Every minute of our pregnancy, Dad took care of you and I. He brought us water and rubbed my feet and spent hours talking to you in my belly. One time, he laid his head on my belly to tell you to be nice to me (you were kicking HARD), and you went right ahead and kicked him in the face. He was an anchor,  the strongest person in the world, when the doctors started telling us about your wee heart. He was so sad and scared, but he made sure that his first priority was to keep me happy and sane and focused on the joy you were bringing us.
When it was finally time for you to join us, Dad spent the better part of 2 days awake, getting me more water, and doing everything he could to get you here safely. He was the first to see you when the doctors took you out, he walked with you and the transport team to Primary's, and he was so mesmerized by you that he almost forgot to come back to the University hospital to find me.
Dad hates to see you in any kind of pain, he will do anything to stop you from being sad. He spends hours talking to you, trying to make you laugh. He swings the hanging light around in the living room to entertain you, he is always bringing toys to your bed to show you, and he loves to blow raspberries on your tummy to make you smile. He held his breath through every midnight visit to the ER, kept you covered and protected from germs, and was ready to intercede should any medical professional not help you fast enough.
Becoming parents has changed us profoundly, you have altered our lives in the best way possible. I have loved watching Dad shrug off any tough-guy appearances to help pick bows and dresses for you, to sing silly songs and just lay on the floor and play. I am so excited to see how much fun you two have when I go back to work, because I know nothing will be more rewarding for your dad than that special time together. When you are bigger, we are going to spend every Father's Day trying to thank Dad for all he has done for us.


Happy Father's Day, Todd-you are the best dad we have ever seen! 
Clara and I are lucky to have you!