A Day In The Life

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
It's 4ish and I've already poured myself a glass of Chardonnay. Both girls are napping (a rarity) and it's been a glass-of-wine-at-4 kind of day.

I've seen these "Day in the Life" posts around on other blogs and figured I'd give it a whirl. I'm sure in 20 years I'll be amused at how my life was at this point in time and I'll probably cry wishing I had my little ones to cuddle. Anyways, here it goes.

6:30am- Abby starts to stir. Nurse her back to sleep, doze myself for a few minutes.
7:15- Stirring again, try to nurse Abby again, but notice Hannah is awake, so figure we’re up for the day.
7:20- Change and dress Hannah. Change and dress Abby
7:40- Make myself coffee and a piece of toast. Bottle for Hannah. Hannah “reads” her books and plays with her toys. Nurse Abby.
8:30-Time for Barney. (I try to have Hannah play for at least an hour before I turn to Barney.)
Hannah watches Barney. Abby plays on her mat. Unload dishwasher. Decide what’s for dinner. Write dinner menu on our kitchen chalkboard. Get ready for the day.
9:10- Head to the mall. I have something to return (a basket from Crate and Barrel) and want to let Hannah play on the playground they have there.
9:30-Arrive at the mall. Debate whether to get a Starbucks, opt not to. Head to playground (the stores don’t open until 10)
9:40-Hannah has the entire playground to herself! She jumps and leaps and climbs the stairs. Abby is fussing, so I nurse her.
10- Another little girl arrives at the playground. She has monkeys on her socks, Hannah is interested in the monkeys and tries to touch them, the little girl does not like this.
10:20- Leave the playground. Proud of us that we played there for almost an hour.
10:40- Get myself an iced tea lemonade from Starbucks before we leave the mall. Head to TJ Maxx thinking maybe I can find a basket there. (I've been trying to find a basket to match the one we already have in the living room. I need another basket to keep Hannah's books.)
10:55- Arrive at TJ Maxx. Abby is fussing, Hannah is tired. Know I’m pushing my luck trying to go to another store, but go anyways. Quickly look around TJ Maxx, no basket. Get sidetracked by the cute yoga pants, make a mental note to come back sometime.
11:10-Leave TJ Maxx. Both girls are tired and probably hungry. Mentally chastise myself for even bothering to try to find a dang basket.
11:15 Drive to Goodwill to drop off a big bag of blankets and clothes. Girls are crying in the back.
11:20-Girls stop crying. They fall asleep.
11:30- Drop off donations. Briefly chat with a very pregnant lady who’s also dropping off donations.
11:40- Arrive home. Proud of how much we’ve accomplished before noon. Hannah naps. I nurse Abby.
11:50- Scarf down a salad while Abby is whimpering.
11:52- Nurse Abby.
12:00 Prepare Abby’s bath. Take off Abby’s helmet. Bathe Abby. Wash Abby’s helmet. She gets one hour a day off from wearing her helmet.
12:30 Abby is cleaned and bathed. Lie down with her to try to get her to fall asleep. Nurse her to sleep.
12:32- Turn on Heartland (a show about a family that owns a horse ranch) on Instant Netflix. Reconsider city living. Want to move to Montana and buy some horses.
1:15- Finally check my email.
1:20- Matthew is home, decide to head to the gym downstairs to do my “walk” on the treadmill. Throw in a wash while I’m down there. (The laundry room is right next to the gym.)
1:30- I have the gym to myself. Yay! Watch the news as I speed walk. My Ipod battery dies. Decide to just watch the news. All about the damage caused by Irene. Realize how glad I am that we had no real damage here.
2:00- Walk 2 miles. Change laundry to dryer. Head upstairs.

Okay, I'll finish the rest tomorrow. I'm not usually this busy, but such is life.

7 Quick Takes--Halloween Edition

Friday, August 26, 2011

There's a lot of downsides to having a kid in a helmet, but on the upside, there's a lot of possibilities for a cool Halloween costume. I've already been planning a few possible ones. Here they are.

1. Roller Derby Girl

2. Evil Knievel

3. Thor (probably not this one)

4. Astronaut

5. Hermes

6. Marvin the Martian

7.London Bobby (probably not this one either, but the mustache would be cute:)

Any other suggestions?

Thanks to Jen for hosting!

Post-Partum Care

Recently, I've realized that in order to have the busy yet peaceful Fall that I envision for us, I need to be in tip top physical shape. I need to take care of myself if I'm going to be able to take care of everyone else.

So I've started my "exercise" routine and began to monitor my diet a bit more. I've also been reading up on post-partum hormones and diet in the book, Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon. This book really is a must read for every woman.

From re-reading through the book I've realized the importance of continuing to take my prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding and learned that I should also be taking flax seed each day too. Fortunately, I recently bought ground flax seed, so now I just need to be conscious of eating a Tablespoon or two each day. Usually I've been adding it to my smoothie, but yesterday I made Zucchini, Banana & Flax Seed Muffins. I was worried they might taste gross, but they're actually really good.

Here's the recipe. I adapted it from Martha Stewart's Every Day Food Recipe.

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 mashed banana
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. banking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes. Makes 12. Enjoy!

Earthquakes, Hurricanes & Storms, Oh My!

Mother Nature has been busy!

The Virginia area experienced a 5.8 earthquake earlier this week. A 5.8 is pretty big, even by California standards. And I was so bummed I didn't feel it! Mild earthquakes are usually harmless and can be kinda fun. Although, I say that as a Californian where earthquakes are the norm and every building is designed to withstand them.

Hurricane Irene is making it's way up here. Hopefully it doesn't cause too much damage. Although, it should only be a tropical storm by the time it reaches Massachusetts. We're looking forward to it up here, but praying that those South of us aren't affected too much.

It's times like these that I'm so happy to have a roof over my head.

Abby's Helmet: Day 1

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Mama, I can barely see."

"This thing on my head is heavy."

Isn't she the cutest?

Fortunately, most of the day has looked like this.

So far, so good. Only about 270 more days to go...

Fall Planning

Fall is just around the corner and I can practically smell the change in the air. I absolutely love the Fall in New England. The leaves are beginning to turn color, school is starting, the harvest is coming and the slow, easy life of summer is about to give way to the structured schedule of September. To be honest, I can’t wait.

My scheduling skills have been in hyper overdrive lately. Not to toot my own horn too much, but if I had a superpower it would be organizational skills. I’m pretty good at mapping things out and planning ahead. I find that the more organized things are, the more peaceful life can actually be.

Since this Fall is going to be crazy, yesterday I broke out my big calendar, sat down and started mapping out the next three months. In a few weeks I’ll be heading back to work (very part time- 3 days/week for about 1.5 hours per day), which has propelled me into getting our home and our schedule prepared.

Hannah will have her storytime at the library once a week and I’ve volunteered to be on the board of the Children’s Library. Our library here is amazing and I’m thrilled I get to help out. I also decided to sign Hannah up for a Music/Dance class once a week. I wavered back and forth on whether to do this, but ultimately I’ve decided she’s been so good this summer, going with the flow of everything and has adjusted incredibly well to her big sister role that she deserves something all her own (even if Abby and I will be there-ha). And hey, you’ve seen her dance; she’s going to love this.

We also have a bunch of New England-y type activities we enjoy during the fall, such as driving to see the fall foliage, attending all sorts of fests: cranberry, oyster, chowder and this year I think it would be fun to add apple picking to the to-do list.

Yet, what really spurred this need to organize and plan was finding out that Abby will need to go to the hospital to have her helmet checked and adjusted a lot more often than we realized. For the next month she needs to go to the hospital each week and then every two weeks after that until she’s 6 months old. I laughed when I heard this because that's is often, my friends.

We did not realized her helmet wearing was going to be this intensive. But as much work as that will be driving to the hospital so often, we’re glad. These people are really on top of fixing Abby’s head shape and we’re willing to do whatever it takes. But man, that drive to the hospital is going to get old. Having to go to the hospital so often changes a lot of things. It limits what we’re able to do and where we’re able to go. But you know, it’s not permanent and for that we’re grateful. And for my Abby, I’d do anything.

"Exercise" Regime

Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I've recently decided it was about time to try to start losing this baby weight. I've started to plan my exercise routine, and I use that word "exercise" loosely.

We are lucky enough to have a gym downstairs in our apartment building, so I really have no excuses not to work out. Every day (for the last three days) I've walked a total of...1.5 miles on the treadmill. Please hold your laughter, 1.5 miles is a lot for me these days. My goal is to build up to 3 miles/day and to add in some strength training.

Yesterday when I came upstairs from my "walk," I asked Matthew if I looked skinnier. He said, "oh yeah, wow, you definitely look skinnier."

He knows how to humor me, my husband.

Recap of Abby's Hospital Stay

Monday, August 22, 2011
We arrived at the hospital a little before 7am. We hadn’t slept very well the night before (no surprise), but we were up and as my Mom says, had our “game faces on" and were ready to meet the day.

We checked in at the pre-op clinic and a nurse took us back to check Abby’s vitals and to ask if we had any final questions. Then we were escorted up to the holding area. There were a bunch of other parents and kids awaiting surgery as well as a lot of doctors and nurses checking on their respective patients. It was somewhat weird to see so many doctors and nurses in one room, it really drove home the severity of what was about to happen.

The anesthesiologist team came and talked to us for a while and once again explained the various procedures that they would be doing. I’m thankful Children’s Hospital really goes over everything several times. They really understand that amidst the stress of the situation that parents can sometimes forget certain details.

At this point we were supposed to dress Abby into her surgical gown, but we opted to wait until the last possible minute because it was really cold in the room. Abby started to cry a little, she was probably hungry since she wasn’t allowed to eat for four hours prior to a surgery. Anyways, Matthew is forever my hero because he walked Abby around the room and was able to get her to sleep. This was a great blessing and made the wait much, much easier. He may be embarrassed by this, but I’m going to add it anyways. Matthew also sang to her as he walked her around. Although the song he sang was questionable, it worked nonetheless. He sang “I’ve Seen the Needle and the Damage Done” by Neil Young. It’s a song about a junkie but he said it was the only song he could think of considering Abby was going to have a needle injected into her soon.

Soon enough it was time to hand Abby off to the team of doctors. Thank goodness Abby was asleep because if I had to hear her cry as she was being walked away, I would have lost it. But seeing as she was fast asleep, the hand off was so much easier. We gave her a kiss and told her we loved her and I choked back some tears as we walked away. After saying goodbye to Abby, we headed to the family waiting area.

The nurses in the family waiting room were so nice. We checked in and they talked to us for a bit and told us they would be updating us with the status of Abby's surgery every hour or so. Also, since I was a breastfeeding Mom, they gave me a coupon to receive two free meals. How awesome is that?

So we headed down to the cafeteria for a while then back up to the family waiting area. In some ways it’s easier to be in a room full of parents who are waiting for their child’s surgery to be finished and in some ways it’s much harder. During Hannah’s surgery we were in a family waiting room that was mostly comprised of adults waiting for other adult’s surgeries to be finished. In that waiting room people were laughing, surfing the web, and playing games. In a family waiting room that is comprised of parents, people don’t play games and nobody really laughs. For that I am thankful. But on the flipside, it’s a lot harder because there are a lot of emotional mothers in there. (Understandably)

Abby’s surgery was SO much faster than Hannah’s. Perhaps because the coronal suture is much shorter than the sagittal suture, or perhaps because pediatric anesthesiologists are much better at finding the veins of little babies, I’m not sure of the reason, but it was so much quicker. Thank God for that. Her surgery wrapped up around 10:45am (it started around 8:30am). Dr. Proctor came out to talk to us and to let us know that the surgery went very well, as expected. He had to run because he had another craniosynostosis surgery planned for 11am, but this time he said the child was too old to have the endoscopic surgery and so needed to CVR (cranial vault reconstruction) surgery. My heart immediately went out to the parents of the child. They must have been so afraid and anxious. I pray their child's surgery went well, I'm sure it did, Dr. Proctor is the best.

Soon thereafter we were able to go see Abby in the recovery room. She was fast asleep, but we were happy to simply sit by her bed and watch her sleep. We were able to give her gentle little kisses and to tell her we were there and that we loved her.

About an hour later, we were moved to a room ready up on the neurology floor. Like I mentioned before, Abby’s roommate, also named Abby, was there recovering from her hemispherectomy.

Abby's nurse came in and talked to us for a bit. After that I went outside to get some fresh air. There’s a little atrium garden within the hospital so I took a short walk around the garden. It was nice to get outside for a bit.

For the rest of the afternoon we sat by Abby’s bedside and pretty much watched her sleep. I was able to hold her a couple times, even though she had all her lines attached. She was still pretty drowsy, but it was so nice to hold my baby.

(Look at those thighs, I could just bite into them.)

Unfortunately, the hospital only allows one parent to spend the night, so Matthew headed home after dinner. I forgot to mention that Matthew’s Mom had spent the night at our place the night before so we could get up and go rather than have to wake up Hannah and drop her off. So she had been with Hannah all day. (Sidenote: My mother in law is awesome and has been so helpful this entire summer. She had Hannah for the year I was in labor with Abby. Someday I’ll have to write an Ode to her.)

Abby had a great night in the hospital. She slept really well (I’m sure the drugs helped) and only woke up a few times. I was even able to nurse her when she woke up in the middle of the night. That was so lovely.

The next morning, I was up around 5am, so I walked across the street to Starbucks. It had been a long night (hospitals are a tough place to get a good night's sleep). A Venti coffee never tasted so good. Abby continued to sleep and recover well. At one point, the doctors came in for rounds and one of the doctors was like, “so we’re still waiting for the pathology report to see if it’s an infectious disease.” I was like, wait, “what?!?” the nurse started shaking her head, you could tell she was annoyed. She informed the doctors that they had the wrong patient. I was thinking c’mon, how hard is it to make sure you know which patient you’re dealing with before you walk into the room? And secondly, there’s an infectious diseased kid on this floor? Great.

Matthew arrived back at the hospital around 11am and we proceeded to take the steps to be discharged. It’s incredible to me that our baby can have her head operated on one day and go home the next. Modern medicine, it’s a marvel.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the hospital offers all these neat services to parents and one of them is free chair massages. Oh my goodness, can you tell how much I love Children’s Hospital Boston? So I was able to get a chair massage that afternoon before we were discharged.

By 2ish that afternoon we were ready to checkout. It was nice to be leaving the hospital but a little nerve-racking too.

Since we’ve been home, Abby has been doing great. She’s been in a little pain at times, but otherwise she’s her happy, smiley self. Friday morning she woke up with her eyes swollen shut. Poor baby, that was tough. We propped her upright and I held a cold washcloth on her eyes and by the end of the day her swelling had gone down a lot. But despite the fact that her eyes had swollen shut, she was still smiling. God love her.

Abby has been such a trooper through this entire ordeal. God has blessed her with a calm disposition and a joyful soul. I'm so proud to be her Mama.

So that’s the gist of our experience at the hospital. I think I’m going to write a “What to Expect” post for any parents whose child will be having an endoscopic craniectomy. But that’s for another day.

Thank you again for your prayers.

The Strength Of Women

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Today is Saturday right? I have completely lost all track of time. A few days in the hospital will do that to you, I suppose. I kept thinking yesterday was Monday, I have no idea why. All day I was really looking forward to watching The Bachelor Pad (totally trashy show, but I love it, I can’t help myself), until I realized that it was only Friday. Oh well, I digress.

What matters is that we are home and Abby is doing beautifully! I’m feeling a little silly after my long “woe is me” post. When I read it now, I feel like I was being a tad dramatic. Although, I don’t want to trivialize my emotions too much because I do believe what I was feeling was legitimate.

There’s nothing like visiting a Children’s Hospital to induce feelings of gratitude. Seeing all the sick kids and the look of helplessness in their parents’ faces was extremely difficult, to say the least. It certainly puts things in perspective. Things could be worse, much worse.

Abby’s roommate was also named Abby. (Apparently, there were two other Abby’s on our floor too—yay for little girls named Abby.) Little Abby #2 was just 11 months old and had been in the hospital for two weeks recuperating from her hemispherectomy. Hemispherectomy? you might ask. Little Abby #2 had half of her brain removed. Yes, you read that right, half.of.her.brain.removed, Apparently, she had been having continual seizures and a hemispherectomy is the traditional treatment for her condition.

I felt like an idiot when I heard that. I felt silly feeling sorry for myself and a bit guilty for the relative simplicity of Abby’s condition and surgery.

However, against all odds, little Abby #2 has shown remarkable progress. She has astounded doctors with her resiliency. Initially, they didn’t think she would be able to move the left side of her body, but she’s been kicking her legs and moving her arms. She is a miracle baby. I pray she will continue to amaze everyone around her.

As incredibly impressive as little Abby #2 was, I was more in awe of her mother. I’m not sure if I’ve ever witnessed such strength in a woman. She is enduring what is undoubtedly a soul wrenching situation with such calm and grace. I overheard her tell the nurse how much she had been praying. No doubt her prayers are being heard.

Witnessing this mother’s deep inner strength despite such intense circumstances, reminded me of a part in the book The World’s First Love by Bishop Fulton Sheen. The book is a beautiful tribute to the world’s archetypal woman, Mary, Mother of mothers.

The Venerable Fulton Sheen writes, “Which stands up better in a crisis—man or woman?” One can discuss this in a series of historical crises, but without arriving at any decision. The best way to arrive at a conclusion is to go to the greatest crisis the world ever faced, namely, the Crucifixion of Our Divine Lord. When we come to this great drama of Calvary, there is one fact that stands out very clearly: men failed.

In contrast, there is not a single instance of a woman’s failing Jesus. At the trial, the only voice that is raised in His defense is the voice of a woman. Braving the fury of court officials, she breaks into the Judgment Hall and bids her husband, Pilate, not to condemn the “just man”. On the way to Calvary, although a man is forced to help carry the Cross; the pious women of Jerusalem, ignoring the mockery of the soldiers and bystanders, console Him with words of sympathy. One of them wipes His face with a towel and forever after has the name of Veronica, which means “true image”, for it was His image the Savior left on her towel. On Calvary itself, there are three women present, and the name of each is Mary: Mary of Magdala, who is forever at His feet and will be there again on Easter morn; Mary of Cleophas, the mother of James and John; and Mary, the Mother of Jesus—the three types of souls forever to be found beneath the Cross of Christ: penitence, motherhood, and virginity.”

Is that not beautiful? Ah, Fulton Sheen, what a way you had with words.

Among the many mothers in the hospital, I felt fortunate to witness such fortitude, such grace. Mothers who willingly endure the endless doctors appointments, the uncertainty of a diagnosis, the severity of a treatment, the cold of the hospital, the sleepless nights when a chair replaces a bed, skipping meals for fear of leaving your child’s bedside, praying through surgeries and comforting your child even when all you want to do is cry. I felt humbled and honored to be surrounded by such women.

Indeed, as Bishop Sheen says, mothers will always find themselves close to the Cross. Love and suffering are inevitably intertwined and there is none greater love than that of a mother's.

Mary, Mother of mothers. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Thank you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Abby came through her surgery with flying colors! Thank you all so much for your prayers and kind words of encouragement!

We should be able to go home tomorrow, but it depends on how she does tonight (but she should do just fine).

Thank you again. Truly, I thank you.

Surgery Day: T-1

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Abby’s surgery is tomorrow morning. Please say a prayer for her. I’ve been cleaning and organizing and basically doing everything possible to keep myself busy and preoccupied. I’m not yet ready to think about what will happen tomorrow. I’m not yet ready to think about having to hand over my baby to doctors and watch as they take her into the operating room. I’m just not ready for it all emotionally. And yet, at the same time, I’m ready for this to be over. I want this all behind us already.

Yesterday, Abby had an ophthalmology appointment to determine whether she has any eye problems associated with the craniosynostosis. Sometimes kids with craniosynostosis have vision issues due to the deformity of their skull. It turns out Abby has basically every eye condition possible. It is likely she will need eye surgery. While the doctor assures us that the procedure is simple and we will be “out by lunchtime,” it’s still surgery. Another surgery.

I’m at the point where I feel like I just can’t handle it all anymore. I’m exhausted, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I’m trying really hard to keep it all together, but I’m hanging by a thread.

I feel like St. Teresa who famously said, “if this is how you treat your friends Lord, then it is no wonder you have so few.”

Perhaps it’s just the exhaustion speaking, but I just don’t understand anymore. Why is this happening...again? Why my children? Of all the people to have to go through this twice, why us? Did we do something to cause this? Are we being punished?

To be entirely honest, it makes me question the goodness of God. If God is truly our loving Father, why does he burden us with this? I prayed so hard for a natural and safe birth with Abby. I didn’t get it. I prayed for a healthy child and while Abby is perfect in every way, she’s only two months old and needs surgery. I feel like my prayers are not only not being answered, but they’re being thrown back in my face.

"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

I feel like I’ve been given a stone when I asked for bread.

These past few months, it’s been very hard to persevere in faith. Initially, when Abby was born and one of the doctors in the hospital suggested she may have craniosynostosis, I was so angry. Angry with the doctor, angry with God. I told God in no uncertain terms, “You’ve got to be kidding me! I CANNOT deal with this.”

Later, alone in my hospital room, I began to think that in all honesty I probably could handle it, if I had to. I am strong and have endured emotionally crappy situations before. I’m really good at keeping things together, at least on the surface. But the question was not that I would or could, but rather why did I have to?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

“Whoever will be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Perhaps this suffering is really a chance to draw closer to Him and to develop a deeper understanding of His will. If that is the case, then I’m failing miserably. I feel like Jonah, simply ready to run away. Run from the stress, run from the pain, run from the suffering. But God was there with Jonah and I suppose He is with me too.

Pray for my Abby.

Hannah Claire--18 Months

Monday, August 15, 2011

A few weeks ago Hannah had her 18 month check up. I've been so focused on Abby lately I haven't had time to record much on Hannah, so I thought I'd write down who she is at 18 months.

At 18 months, she is in the 60th percentile for both height and weight (average--that's our girl!). Her pediatrician calls her a "thriving" child and we believe she is. She is happy and healthy and everything we could wish for in a daughter, smart, kind, funny and cute.

Ice Cream (I imagine this will never change no matter how old she is)
Looking at herself in the mirror
Being tickled
Her little felt saints
Her blocks
Quacking like a duck
Kissing and hugging her sister
Swimming (but not going under water)
Helping Mama cook
Fake Sneezing

Words she can say:

Oh yeah
Please (sounds like pfsss, but it's a start)

To be honest, she can't say that many words yet, but I imagine once she starts talking, she won't stop.

We celebrated St. Clare's Feast Day last Friday. I made a St. Clare Cheesecake and we sang Happy Birthday to St. Clare and Hannah Claire. My wish for Hannah is that she always remains close to her patroness and grow to be like St. Clare, beautiful, kind and good.

St. Clare, pray for my Hannah Claire.

Happy Feast of the Assumption

Today one of my best friends from college will be taking her First formal Vows as a Religious Sister of Mercy. I am so excited for her. It also happens to be her 30th birthday too, what Providence!

(Sister Mary Benedicta is the one sitting on the lower left.)

Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us!

Swistle Blog = Hilarious

Sunday, August 14, 2011
The post, The Giant Hand of Internet Spanking, has been gaining popularity around the blogsphere. It's really funny. It basically highlights how easy it is for a blog reader to jump to conclusions about a blog writer and his/her intentions and/or personal beliefs.

Read it here.

I'm really fortunate to have fabulous readers and commenters and haven't yet experienced people making such assumptions about me (thanks to my obscurity in blogland), but I've seen it happen on other blogs and it's really sad/funny how riled up people can get.

Since I was so amused by Swistle's sense of humor, I continued to read on and found this great post on postpartum life. It's hilarious and I completely identify, especially when she says:

"Sometimes I feel like everything is going GREAT! I am incorporating this baby into the household SEAMLESSLY! It is NO BIG DEAL! It is like I am some kind of NATURAL! I could handle even TWO MORE babies! I have to tell the world that having a baby is not as scary as they think! EVERYONE should have babies! LOTS of babies! Babies are GREAT! I LOVE babies!

Other times I feel like this SUCKS. I can't do this AT ALL. Furthermore, NO ONE could, because this is NOT POSSIBLE. I am twenty steps behind. Everyone is crying. Everyone needs something, and I'm the only one who can provide it. I will never catch up. I cut off one hydra head and three more grow back. I have to tell the world that having a baby is very, very hard and that they shouldn't be alarmed if they feel like it is suckily impossible to cope with one."

I TOTALLY think the part about being able to handle two more babies, twins even, and then just one hour later am thinking "why can't you all go to sleep?!?"

And the part about knives and railings, so true. It's nice to know I'm not the only other crazy postpartum lady out there.

7 Quick Takes-- One Day Late

Saturday, August 13, 2011

These are kind of a stream-of-consciousness 7 Quick Takes. It's about all I can manage right now.

1. Abby’s pre-op appointments went well. I think there were four appointments in all. We met with several surgical nurses, a neurosurgical nurse, a phlebotomist (named Hannah!) and an anesthesiologist. Abby was a complete doll the entire day, except when she had her blood drawn, but who can blame her there. I have to say, Children’s Hospital really knows what they’re doing. Everyone seems so competent, but yet they also possess a certain compassion towards parents and the understanding that while this may be routine for them, it’s certainly not for the parents.

2. Speaking of the preeminence of Children’s Hospital Boston, we joke that we can’t leave Massachusetts until we’re done having kids. If our babies continue to have craniosynostosis (highly unlikely-but you never know), then we’ll continue to need access to the best pediatric neurosurgeons and many of those are right here in Boston.

3. Speaking of more kids. Amidst all the hub-bub with Abby, I completely missed writing posts on NFP Week and Breastfeeding Week, two topics near and dear to my heart. Maybe I'll still write a few when I get the chance.

4. Speaking of NFP, people have been asking me a lot lately if we plan on having more children. It seems many people assume that since I had such a difficult labor and second c-section, and the fact that Abby needs surgery, and that we could potentially have more children with birth conditions, and yada-yada-yada all the reasons why we shouldn't want more kids that we must be out of our minds to say "next time" or "with the next baby..." But the truth is we love our kids and we love being parents and we most definitely would love to have more (God willing!). Besides, these girls need at least one more sister and probably a few brothers too.

5. Speaking of sisters, my sister Jacqui will hopefully be coming to visit us this fall. She has a very busy schedule, but I’m hoping she'll still be able to make a trip out east. She’s a nurse and with all the hospitals we’ve been to in the last two years (four different hospitals in the Boston area), I have such an appreciation for good nurses. Their care makes all the difference and I'm so proud to be able to say my sister is part of such a wonderful profession.

6. Speaking of nurses, all the medical attention and time we’ve spent in hospitals lately has really deepened my appreciation for good doctors and nurses. Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to school (when the kids are older) and becoming a nurse-midwife, or a nurse practitioner or even a doctor (yikes-probably not that one). I love the idea of being able to help people through difficult experiences, but of course there are many ways to do that, so we shall see. But I am looking into becoming a Doula...

7. Speaking of going back to school, the start of the new school year is just around the corner. As a student and as a teacher, I've always loved this time of year. There’s always so much excitement and promise of what the year will bring. This year I’ve been thinking more about how exactly we will educate our children. Public school? Catholic school? Home school? Ten years ago I would have never, ever considered homeschooling my children, but now I don’t think it’s such a crazy idea. In fact, I really like the idea. But regardless, I don’t know if we will end up homeschooling or if our kids will go to public or private school. Time will tell.

That's it. Have a wonderful weekend!

For more Quick Takes visit The Conversion Diary. Thanks to Jen for hosting,

Pre-Op Day

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Big day today. All of Abby's pre-op appointments are today, so we're heading out to the hospital soon and will most likely be there all day.

We're meeting with Abby's team of doctors this morning to go over the surgery and for them to answer any questions we may have. So like any good/nerdy mother, I have all my questions written down on my little notepad. I am prepared for this meeting, let me tell you.

I'm also giving blood this afternoon and hoping I don't faint. I remember giving blood for Hannah's surgery and feeling faint during the process but lying and saying I felt fine. I was determined to give that blood, even if I passed out.

So wish us luck! It will be a long day, but hopefully a productive one.

Here's a few cute pictures, just because.

eShakti Promo Code

The clothing company eShakti is offering a special promo created specially for my readers. From now until September 15th, use the promo code CGBB0811 and receive $20 off your purchase. This is a fabulous deal!

Now's your chance to buy a new dress or top for yourself for an affordable price. And remember they offer special tailoring if you need it. Enjoy!

Craniosynostosis Awareness

For anyone who's interested I found this great You Tube video of Abby's surgery. It's only 30 seconds long.

I've said it before, but we are so lucky that Abby will be able to have her surgery endoscopically. From what I've read, many of the kids that have craniosynostosis don't have their cranio diagnosed until they're past the point of being eligible for the endoscopic version of the surgery and are therefore forced to have the traditional version.

Doctors prefer to do the endoscopic version of the surgery before the child is 4 months old, so early diagnosis is crucial. Children who undergo the traditional version of the surgery sometimes have to undergo multiple surgeries, so again, early diagnosis is of the utmost importance. Therefore it's important to promote awareness of this condition. After we get through Abby's surgery and recovery, I really want to start working with charities and foundations to get craniosynostosis awareness out there, especially among pediatricians so that they're able to make that early diagnosis. We are so lucky that we have such a phenomenal pediatrician who was able to catch Hannah's and Abby's cranio early. Many families have to keep pushing their pediatrician to even get a diagnosis.

There are numerous Craniosynostosis awareness campaigns and charities (I was not aware of this with Hannah) out there that are doing such good to educate people about this condition. For anyone who feels compelled to do something for us, we would kindly encourage you to donate to one of these fine charities.

One charity we have benefited from is the Cranio Angel Network. This Cranio Mom creates headbands and do-rags for kids undergoing cranio surgeries. See Abby wearing one below, so cute! The headbands are intended to cover the scars from the surgery. Fortunately for our daughters, their scars are/will be minimal, but for some kids, the scars cover their entire head. She creates these headbands and do-rags free of charge for cranio families. Abby received hers earlier this week. The Cranio Angel Network is also working incredibly hard to increase awareness about craniosynostosis. There is a fundraising walk that will be held at Sea World in San Diego this October. All the proceeds will go to helping cranio families and to promoting awareness. We plan to be "virtual walkers" when the time comes.

Another wonderful charity is the Cranio Care Bears. This Mom sends care packages to families whose children are undergoing craniosynostosis surgery. We received our care package yesterday and oh my goodness, everything in it is so thoughtful. She sent a blanket for Abby, gum, candies, socks, toys, a frame with Abby's name on it, and so many other little knick-knacks that we'll need for the hospital stay. We were so incredibly touched by this care package. What a generous heart this woman has. Again, we received this package free of charge.

I've also discovered the Jorge Posada Foundation. Jorge Posada is the starting catcher for the Yankees. His son was diagnosed with craniosynostis, but not until he was a little older and as a result has had to undergo seven surgeries. (Again, this is why early diagnosis is crucial.)The Foundation hosts a glitzy fundraiser in Manhattan every year to benefit awareness and to help families pay for surgeries. Hopefully in a year or two we'll be able to attend the fundraiser (and maybe meet Derek Jeter-rumor has it he attends).

The Jorge Posada Foundation also sponsors a mentoring program, which connects families undergoing the surgery with families that have already been through the process. We plan on becoming mentors after we get through Abby's surgery and recovery.

As you can see, there are a lot more foundations and charities trying to get the word out about craniosynostosis than I initially realized. Just knowing that other people have been through this makes a world of difference. Craniosysnostis effects 1 in 2,000 children, so statistically, it's not that uncommon. Once Abby is on the other side of this surgery I really want to get involved in promoting awareness for this condition.

Speaking of Giving Blood

Monday, August 8, 2011
Children's Hospital Boston has teamed up with JP Licks (a local ice cream company) to promote blood donation. Their "A Pint For A Pint" campaign offers a free pint of ice cream if you donate a pint of blood.

This is fantastic. It's even more incentive for me to give blood (as if my daughter's welfare weren't enough).

Although this morning I worriedly asked Matthew, "do you think I'll be able to get an appointment? What if so many people have signed up and they're all booked?" He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "To give blood? Not everyone's like you. Not everybody is willing to do anything for some free ice cream." Phew.

Dancing Queen

Blood Type and Personality

Sunday, August 7, 2011
There is a small chance Abby may need a blood transfusion during surgery, so the hospital recommends that family members donate blood in case it's needed. Since my blood type is O-(universal donor), I am able to donate. Hopefully she won't need the blood, but at least I can feel like I'm doing something tangible to help my daughter.

However, again since I'm O-, I needed a Rhogam shot after having Abby and Rhogam can stay in the system for a while. So yesterday I was trying to research online how long Rhogam supposedly stays in the system (if it's still in my blood I won't be able to donate). While I was googling I found a bunch of articles about blood type and personality.

Apparently, in many Asian countries (Japan in particular) a person's blood type is considered very important and believed to be directly related to an individual's personality, health and lifestyle. I find this line of thought fascinating.

According to the Japanese blood type chart, my Type O blood means I am agreeable and an optimist, but also vain and arrogant. "Arrogant?" I thought to myself, "I'm anything but arrogant, I'm the most humble person you'll meet." Haha.

What do you think? Is the chart accurate for your blood type?

(Apparently, there are also a bunch of fad diets that recommend eating certain foods that correspond to your blood type. For example, Type B people should eat lamb, rabbit and green vegetables and try to avoid chicken. Check out more here.)

Menu Chalkboard

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Around 4pm every afternoon, Matthew starts asking me what's for dinner. He usually asks me at least twice (he always seems to forget my answer the first time). So in order to remedy me answering him a gazillion times I decided to create this cute little chalkboard where every night I would write our dinner menu. Okay, I didn't actually make the chalkboard, a very talented woman on Etsy did, but I came up with the idea.

Besides being a lovely addition to the kitchen, the chalkboard has the added benefit of keeping my menu plan organized. I have to plan ahead in order to write what our dinner will be each night. Any summer meals you would recommend?

Two Months

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dear Abby,

Happy 2 Months, Sweet Pea! You seem like you've been a part of our family forever, I can't believe it's only been two months since you were born.

With your big smiles and your belly laughs, you bring such joy to our family. You are such a little love. Already you inspire us with your happy disposition.

You love your sister and she adores you. You two already seem to have a language and understanding all your own. We pray you will be best friends all your lives.

Yesterday, I was reading about Abigail in the Bible. She was described as "a woman of good understanding and of a beautiful countenance." I pray you grow to be just like her. I am certain you will.

Abigail, we love you so much and feel so blessed to call you our daughter.


Trying to Keep a Sense of Humor

Michael Scott: Doctor, what's more serious, a foot injury or a head injury?
Doctor: A head injury.
Michael: Well, you don't have all the information. The foot has been severely burned and healed quickly, very quickly. Actually suspiciously quickly.
Doctor (to Dwight): Okay, I'm ordering a CAT scan.
Michael: Look, since you have that machine up and running, can I just stick my foot in?

When Abby was getting her CAT scan Matthew jokingly said, "what if I ran up to the machine while Abby was in there and stuck my foot in? What would they do?"


Just To Keep Things Interesting

Thursday, August 4, 2011
All of a sudden last night Hannah started crying uncontrollably and grabbing her diaper. It was really freaking us out. Fortunately, she was able to get to sleep, but we were up around 4am this morning. So around 8:30 we headed to the pediatrician. After all it had been a few days since we were last there. I've lost count how many times we've been to see a doctor in the last month. Five? Six times? Anyways, it doesn't look like she has a UTI, just a rash,which is a relief.

We like to keep things interesting around here.

And since I was up at such an ungodly hour this morning, I started researching espresso machines. A $1,000 espresso machine doesn't seem like such a silly purchase at 4 in the morning. This one looks good. But does anyone have any recommendations?

Grams Visit

My Mom was out here for a lovely visit two weeks ago. We had a ball, especially Hannah. Grams took her swimming and to the park and played and danced and laughed with her, but I don't know who was more tired at the end of the week, Hannah or Grams.

Can I just add, I really hope I have my mother's genes. That woman has had six kids people.

We love you, Grams!

p.s. Mom, I realized we don't have any pictures of you and me, bummer.

Surgery Date

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
With so much going on, there's been a plethora of blog posts swirling around in my head. I almost don't know where to begin. August 2011 has been the month of the doctor, that's for sure.

Yesterday we met with Abby's neurosurgeon, Dr. Proctor of Children's Hospital Boston. He went over Abby's diagnosis and the treatment (surgery followed by about 7 months of wearing a helmet). Her surgery is set for the 17th. He explained the traditional form of the surgery, CRV, where the doctors actually remove the skull bones and then a plastic surgeon fashions them to the correct size and then they place the skull bones back in place. I had no idea that's how extensive that surgery is. Thank goodness Abby will be able to have her surgery endoscopically, meaning they will make two tiny incisions and remove a strip of bone from her skull to effectively create a new soft spot for her.

The doctor seemed shocked that this is our second child with craniosynostosis and a different form of it to boot. Apparently, our girls may be one of the only sibling sets like this in the country. Can you believe that? Craziness. We kept joking we're going to be famous. New England Journal of Medicine here we come!

Matthew joked I may get my wish to be on a documentary. Oddly, I've always had the bizarre wish to be one of those people that's interviewed for a History Channel documentary. So I said if we are interviewed for anything (highly unlikely) I'm going to randomly start talking about John Adams or something. Haha. Check that one off the bucket list.

But in all seriousness, he (the doctor) suggested we meet with a geneticist to see if we can determine what's causing this. We definitely want more children (God willing) so it would be beneficial to know the likelihood of having another child with this. Not that it would really matter, but knowing our genetic makeup would be interesting.

Abby also had to have a CAT scan yesterday to conclusively determine her cranio and thankfully she fell asleep just in time to have it done, otherwise she would have needed to be sedated. That was certainly an answered prayer.

Next week we'll meet with an Ophthalmologist to test her eyes. Apparently, kids with her condition can have vision problems, but fortunately they're usually fixed by the surgery. We'll also have a pre-op appointment to meet with her team of doctors and nurses. That should prove very interesting and probably overwhelming too.

Right now I'm kind of in autopilot mode. Running around trying to get everything organized and ready for the surgery and our stay in the hospital (2 days). I'm trying not to think too much about the moment when I'll hand her over because if I start to think about it, I'll cry. So I'm just taking things one doctor's appointment at a time. For now, that's working.

Thank you all for your prayers, I really do appreciate them!

Baptism of Abigail Elizabeth

Monday, August 1, 2011
Since Abby will be having surgery soon, we had to plan her Baptism rather quickly. Fortunately, our parish was extremely accomodating and Abby was Baptized last Sunday in a small ceremony. Despite its impromptu planning, it was beautiful.

At one point I started to get emotional when the priest placed Abby's baptismal garment on her and said the words, "See in the white garments you wear, the outward sign of your Christian dignity. Bring this garment unstained to the joys of everlasting life." There is so much weight and importance in that one statement for both Abby and me. Does anyone else ever get completely overwhelmed with the immense responsibility of parenthood? Pray for me!

Here are few pictures of the blessed event.

(Sidenote: ugh, I really need to lose weight. I'm starting my diet soon! Stay tuned.)
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