Eric and I are both bundles of nerves, for a few reasons. Both of us are nervous about Avery’s procedure tomorrow. Every time I think about her spine, and moving her, and feeding her, and burping her, and changing her diaper, and her spine… I just get squeamish, and think about the opening that will be there… I just… Ugh.
So at least there is something else causing some of my nerves which can help alleviate the nervous fear of that, and that’s work. I have to give a ginormous presentation to the entire sales organization next Friday, and it makes me tremble to think about. Two hours of me talking about stuff that I’ve been doing research on for the last few months! What if people ask questions I can’t answer? What if my data is wrong or I interpreted it wrong? What if I mess up while super high ups are on the call listening? Again, ugh.
Eric is nervous for similar reasons. So he’s also nervous about Avery but while Avery is having her procedure tomorrow he will be reading a Bible passage for his friend’s funeral, in front of lots of people, which is his biggest fear. He said he has to worry about not only not being nervous but also keeping it together, and I think he’s a tiny bit terrified.
What’s with all this public speaking while trying to not think about a teeny tiny baby having her spine dissected and surgically altered?
So yeah, ugh.
Ugh it has been a difficult few.. time periods. I don’t even know when it started to get so rough, but it feels like we’re sliding downhill over broken concrete on roller blades without safety gear on, hitting every shattered piece on the way down, all the while picking up speed, with no bottom in sight. Not that I would know what falling on concrete with roller blades and no gear, behind a car, would feel like…
I love my Avery so so much. But she does require a whole lot of emotional response. She brings me joy and breaks my heart all in the same day. Her enormous adorable smiles melt my heart and her little helmet makes it bleed.
God has a plan. I know it, He knows it, Avery seems to know it too. She started off so tiny and frail, with calcification in her brain, a body with so many complications, and a bleak future. And now at six months her feet look normal, her head is rounding out, her tethered cord surgery is right around the corner with a promising future after recovery, her cleft palate surgery is also scheduled and she’s eating baby food, interacting with her family and showing personality, grasping and cooing and playing, and even able to sit unsupported for a good long while. All things that I wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to do, or at least not within normal milestone timelines. I look at her and I apologize to God that I ever had any doubts. He placed a lullaby in my head when we struggled through those first few days, that “you will overcome, all that was undone, and may the Lord be true and bring new faith through you.” He may not have knit her together completely in her mother’s womb, but he hasn’t put down his knitting needles yet. He’s letting me watch and help work through some of the tangles. She has changed me so much in her short little life so far, and I need to just continue to trust that everything I still worry about isn’t worth worrying about, because she’s a beautiful perfect little angel puff just the way she is and however she turns out.
I did just stop this morning to buy the pre-op soap that I’m supposed to wash her with every night this week in preparation for her back surgery on Friday. I’m getting squeamish and nervous.. but it will be ok and will all be a memory soon.
And then there’s Eric’s family. Our nephew Mark ran away last weekend. He’s home now, but there is so much brokenness in that poor family, with him having been taken from home as a child, enduring the foster care system for years before being adopted by Eric’s brother and sister-in-law. He is so sweet with all of the little kids, his cousins, and even with us, his aunts and uncles. But he has so much grief that he’s buried and can’t escape. He watched his father die from an overdose of drugs at seven years old, and his mother chose drugs, alcohol and men over him, and yet he’s drawn back to her because it’s his mother. Despite all that Jason and Crystal do for him, try to teach him, and the future he’s guaranteed just by being part of a middle class family, he can’t see it through his teenage hormonal blindness and childhood trauma. They can’t seem to connect to him, and he keeps getting in trouble. Once he was found they did have a small breakthrough, but it’s such a long road ahead and the poor kid probably feels so alone. He can’t possibly understand why they would care for him and he’s surrounded by so many bad influences that tell him to take care of himself first and steal, cheat and lie to do so.
And then this weekend we learned more news. Eric’s childhood friend, who would come to game night every week, who watched Aria grow up for the last two and a half years and who I called Uncle Joel because of that, who helped me plan Eric’s surprise game party birthdays multiple years in a row (although it was only a real surprise the first time), who has a fiance who built her entire future on him.. is in the hospital dying. He had gone to the doctor with a cold, then later with the flu, then finally admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, and ended up with fluid in his lungs, kidneys that started to shut down, and sedated on a ventilator and life-flighted from one hospital to another as he continued to get progressively worse over the course of a month. On Friday it looked promising, that the dialysis was working and his oxygen was improving and it looked like it would be a long road to recovery, but recover he would. And then he had a brain aneurysm. Eric went up yesterday and was told to say his goodbyes, along with all of the other friends and family that had come to give their farewells. Joel’s brother was flying in and then they would pull the plug.
It’s just so heartbreaking because he was a such a great person and friend, and my heart just breaks repeatedly as I think about his fiance. I saw her on Wednesday when I went to visit Joel and she said, “I’m not worried about them calling to say he’s dead, I just can’t figure out how to manage without him every day though.” And then this.
I know I lay awake a great deal last night praying for her. They wanted to get married. They did not want to have kids because they didn’t want to bring children into the world with their health problems, but oh they loved their nieces and nephews and their friends’ kids dearly. Joel was always so very sweet with Aria. In fact, when I would tell her it was time to go to bed, while the guys were having game night, I would say, “let’s tell daddy night night” and she would climb in his lap to give him a hug and kiss, then she would go over to Joel for one as well. She ignored the other guys.. or would give them weird looks. But Joel was her favorite. Now she won’t even remember him. They hadn’t had game night since Avery was born because of all that is going on with life since her. But Eric was actually thinking about starting it up again. We had just had a talk a few weeks ago about him doing game night and me going to Bible study with Crystal. Now who knows if or when that will ever happen, with all that is going on with our families and our friends…
It’s just been a little bumpy over here, but we’ll get through it. I keep telling myself that God is on the move.
Aria is SUCH a little mother anymore. She tells me when Avery is crying, even if Avery is sitting in my lap, and she brings her toys and blankets and anything else Avery might ever want, at random intervals throughout the day.
The other night she disappeared for a little while and when I went to check on her she was in the kitchen “making Avery a bottle.” There was a bottle dusted with formula, and what felt like hundreds of dollars worth of formula on the floor. It wasn’t really that much, it just felt like it.
She tells me when it’s time to put Avery to bed, she helps bathe her little sister, helps feed her sister, and in general makes sure I’m doing my job correctly.
She also keeps her father in line. Just the other night she asked him for something and he told her no, and she squared her shoulders, looked him firmly in the eye and said very sternly and calmly, “Daddy. Open this.”
I feel bad for the guy, he doesn’t really stand a chance against the tiny package of adorable bossiness.
Meanwhile Avery is starting to get a sense of humor. She is fascinated by hair and glasses, and gets the biggest kick out of pulling on them to get a reaction out of me or whoever. Like when Aria, or Kayla for that matter, put their face in her face to say hi or give her a hug, they are rewarded with huge smiles and two fistfuls of hair that have to be pried away.
The other night Aria was sharing her tablet with Avery, and was letting her watch Winnie the Pooh with her. Avery decided to lean forward and grab the tablet but then Aria decided she no longer wanted to share after that and turned her back on her.
And honestly I think Avery is starting to burp me. While I’m holding her and patting her back, she often starts patting mine as well. Not sure if it’s play or what’s going on. But one thing she Always does is wrap her arms around my neck. No more stiff arms to the side while she passes out on my shoulder, now those arms are wrapped around my neck, sometimes with fingers tangled in my hair, but it’s so sweet and cuddly.
She still hasn’t started actual laughter yet, but she has her own version which you swear is her laughing, even if it doesn’t sound like it. The face says it all, and then she makes little baby squeals and she’s just so infectious that you forget that you didn’t actually hear true giggles.
And I think she’s going to be a little bit mischievous like her sister, because she just seems so… so overly innocent after doing something, like untying the shoe you literally just tied.
Her grandmother told me that she had eaten a variety of the foods she’s been exposed to, but later in the day she spat everything out and clamped her mouth and refused anything but milk. Who knew Avery had enough presence of mind to decide what she does and doesn’t want. I guess I forgot when they start to have individual demands.
But no worry, Aria is usually around to tell us what Avery wants, or needs, or what she’s going to have whether she wants it or not.
I’ve been so blessed with such a sweet, smiley little baby girl. She really is in a great mood about 98% of the time. There are very few things that upset her, the primary of which is needing to burp. Because of the cleft palate, she takes in a lot of air, and it must really be uncomfortable until that trucker burp comes out.
Case in point, when she had blood taken most recently the nurse was appalled at how she only fussed a little while the needle was going in, then was content while the blood was actually being taken. And after when it was all being bandaged up. Then the nurse walked us out and while I was holding Avery she started screaming. I explained to the nurse that she needed to burp (as I had been feeding her), and she turned to people around us and said, “this is a burp scream? Meanwhile she let me take her blood without a complaint!”
So otherwise, she gets mad if the bottle runs out and you have to go make more, but if you calmly explain to her, while propping her up in the rocking chair or corner of the couch, that you’re going to go get more, she quite often settles down and waits patiently for more food to arrive. But not always. And she cries with the most adorable pout ever when she gets hurt, but that only lasts for less than a minute and doesn’t happen very often. I can’t really think of when else she cries.. it really has to be something for her to maintain a cry for any duration, and then I get stressed out because, no really, it really is something if Avery is crying!
So anyway, now she’s in a helmet, and has taken to it fairly well. She complains a little while it’s first going on, but then gets over it.
The one scary thing about it is that she can get really hot with it on. I had read about all the different things to watch for when she was being fitted with it, but then stupid me still didn’t take it seriously when it was time to go home. I still bundled her up in her sweater, with a fluffy blanket over her lap and the snuggy carseat cover, because, you know, it was snowing outside, regardless of how warm the car would be…
So yeah, she started screaming on the way home and I thought it was a burp. But no, when we got home she was drenched in sweat. I felt HORRIBLE. I took it off immediately, as well as her clothes, cooled her down and reread the pamphlet on how to actually take care of my baby while wearing this stupid thing.
Last night she had a hard time sleeping with it, and it was making her irritated. She would pass out from sheer exhaustion, then wake up screaming. I was worried about her being hot so I forwent the sleep sack, and also ended up taking off her shoes and socks, thinking her feet would survive a night and not regress. But even so, she would twist and turn around while crying and trying to get comfortable, and pass back out, then wake up and do it again. This went on for a little while, and I was on the verge of going and taking the helmet off, even knowing that it would make the whole process take all the longer if I caved, especially at night, but eventually she did fall asleep and stay asleep.
And would you know, she wasn’t any worse for wear this morning. I inadvertently woke her up taking it off, so that she could have her 1 hour break before I dropped her off before work, and so I could clean it, and she stirred a little then drifted back off. But when I went back to get her ready for the day she was awake, playing with her little feet, which happened to be little ice cubes. Poor baby.
But no matter. As I was holding her to my side and gathering up things she leaned herself back so that she could see my face, and as I adjusted my arm to make sure I wasn’t going to drop her (her leaning back like that) I turned to look at her and was rewarded with a giant smile. Oh my goodness she’s so freakin’ adorable.
Just as I was about to drop her off with her grandparents I started to put her helmet back on, so that they wouldn’t have to do it. I thought I’d get at least some grumbling, but instead she just smiled at me. Lots and lots of sweet adorable I love you smiles. I forgive you for torturing me, I know that it will benefit me in the long run, and I’ll tolerate it because I trust you, smiles.
Aria’s tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy happened this weekend. Poor thing wasn’t allowed to eat all morning, so I tried to keep her up the night before and feed her anything and everything she wanted. That didn’t work out so well, because she just wanted applesauce..not sure how well that sticks. And she wanted to go to bed just a tiny bit later than normal, instead of staying up to the wee hours (or at least until 11 or so, so that she’d sleep way in). But no, she woke up at 9.
So to distract her Friday morning we went to the playground at the mall, per Pappy’s suggestion.
When we got there she went from asking persistently, “payground? payground? Payground in there!” to so shy that she couldn’t pry herself from my leg. But she finally did and ran up to the playground… then over to the bench where the parents sit. She climbed up and sat herself down, then pointed to the playground, “go play mommy.”
We ran around, went down the slide, and up the ladder, and I fully participated because it was fairly empty and she needed a friend.
When it was time to head to the hospital I told her where we were going, and she repeated, “going to the hociple,” but when we parked in the garage she asked, “shopping?!”
The poor thing kept telling me she was hungry too. When we had driven past Donut Connection she pointed to the sign and said, “go there?” and later, “mommy, donuts?”
So once at the hociple and checked in we were allowed to go to the playroom. That made it easier because she just made herself at home and had a ball with all of the toys. But when they called us back to our room it was a bit of a struggle to pry her from that room.. but after some questions we were able to go back, which was the most wonderful thing ever.
After surgery I was called back to hold her while she was monitored in recovery. I did as I was told, and sat in the rocking chair and was handed my largish precious bundle. Ah, to snuggle my big girl, who never lets me cuddle her like that any more. It didn’t last long, maybe 10 minutes before she woke up enough to realize that she was NOT comfortable, and made herself very understood that she wanted to lie down in her crib/bed/thing. The nurse thought that was amusing, that she definitely knows what she wants.
But while I was still holding her, when she was somewhat awake and before she was done being held, the doctor was called in to take a look at her. The second doctor with her needed to look in her mouth, so put a tongue depressor in and said, “open up sweety.” She did. I said, “open up wide” and she did. He said, “can you open your mouth bigger?” and she tried. I said, “say aaaah” and she whispered, “aaaaah.”
They looked at each other, “that never happens!” As they walked away they were still commenting on how amazing that she just did whatever they asked and actually let them look in her mouth and even said aaah.
After awhile we were moved to stage two recovery, where she was hooked up to monitors and able to watch tv. After awhile she whined at me and I picked her up and put her in my lap, in the chair next to her crib/bed/thing. It dawned on me, after she struggled, that she didn’t actually want to sit in my lap, but rather wanted my chair. So I gave it up to her, and she sat snuggled in the chair with her blanket and watched tv.
The nurses all thought she was a teenager already.
Eric showed up in the evening, at just about the time we were being taken to her room, and took her to the playroom in that hallway so that I could go grab some food. He played with her for a good long while, and I did too, and it definitely helped take her mind off her pain.
The night was pretty rough, what with her moaning in pain and tossing and turning, and nurses in and out checking on her, and just everything, so neither of us got a whole lot of sleep. But fortunately they discharged us pretty early in the morning so we were able to go home and she slept most of the next day. We did stick around long enough to eat breakfast, and while we were waiting we went back to the playroom, and she was in great spirits after that and breakfast.
She wavers now between crankiness and pleasant, especially when it’s about time for a new dose of medicine, but at least she’s getting a lot of rest, and Eric and I have and will be home a lot this week (Eric for MLK day and an appointment he has on Thursday, me for my regular Tuesday/Fridays as well as Thursday for an Avery appointment). So she’s home a lot and resting.
She’s actually doing pretty good at taking is easy, and the time in the playrooms at the hospital has given her new appreciation for her own toys, so she’s been dragging out everything she owns and rediscovering it. I’ve done a lot of puzzles and played a lot of games with her, and she’s done an awful lot of snuggling with her father.
Oh, and very interestingly… after the surgery the doctor pulled me from the waiting room to let me know how it all went, and besides the tonsils coming out that her adenoids had grown back to 90% (or 90% blockage, not sure) but she didn’t take them out completely because of her split uvula. What’s that, I didn’t know she had a split uvula?? Oh, someone probably should have told me after the last adenoidectomy, but that she needs some adenoids in there to compensate for the uvula so she doesn’t have speech problems.
So the split uvula is due to not everything fusing correctly.. basically a mild form of cleft palate!!!! Now I’m starting to question Aria’s health. But instead of rushing her to be tested for everything under the sun, I’m just going to bring her up in my meetings with Avery’s specialists to get their feedback. Maybe it’s a fluke… maybe not..
Well the whole Christmas season excitement has finally gotten to Aria. What with candy every day, and way more junk food than we would ever normally allow, and just all the fun the season brings, I can’t really blame her for being all riled up.
Which is why last night, although surprising at the time, in hindsight is not so surprising. Yes last night Aria scaled her baby gate, then the baby gate across our door, and into bed with us. With her Blanket. I said something about putting her back in her own bed and Eric surpringly said to let her be.
At first I thought it was the cutest thing ever and snuggled her in bed next to me, and cuddled her and let her share my pillow, and nuzzled her and thought to myself how sweet this was. That lasted for all of a minute, until I realized how uncomfortable I was, and how much I really wanted to go back to sleep and how squirmy she is.
Not to mention all of the commotion woke everyone, including the baby, so I had to keep rocking the bassinet with my foot to try to lure her back to sleep.
When Aria had tried the whole “lying still” thing and tired of it, she would stand up to see Avery, or would press herself up to her daddy to see if he was sleeping and what his face looked like.
I tried whispering to her that we needed to whisper so we didn’t wake Avery back up, so she at one point put her face in mine, one hand on either side of my head and whisper gibbered at me very seriously.
I snuggled her back in bed next to me, held her close, and pet her hair to soothe her. So in return she put her fingers in my hair and tangled them up and made a mess. I had left my glasses on so I could check on Avery and so that I wasn’t blind when needing to figure out what Aria was doing, but she made me take them off. And tucked me in just so.
After a very long squirmy hour (or however long it was) I asked her if she was ready to go back to bed and she very firmly rooted herself in bed, asked her daddy to cover her with Blanket, and I guess eventually fell asleep. That was all from 5 to some much later time. Eric said when he got up she was snuggled next to him but migrated over to me until he woke me up because I kept snoozing my alarm.
She woke too and jumped up and ran around the bed and followed him to the bathroom to brush her teeth alongside him. This from the child I usually dress, including diaper change, while she is so knocked out she’s often still snoring.
It was a bit of a battle to get her dressed and convince her she wanted to go to “school” (daycare), but finally the idea of seeing her friends won out.
Oh, and the stinker usually clings to my legs when I drop her off, but this time she went and stood next to her friend, and when I said bye she just waved.
Eric, despite being super tired, talked to me the whole way to work, swapping stories about Aria’s antics last night and how cute and ridiculous she is, amidst many yawns.
Pain in the Butt #1:
My cute adorable little toddler is such a stinker sometimes, but we all already knew this.
I was taking a shower in the bathtub in the main bathroom and found that quite a bit of my hair was coming out. Having recently given birth and rarely washing my hair anymore, clumps were sticking to my fingers as I combed the conditioner through my locks. In an effort to reduce the amount of strands washed down the drain, and there to clog said drain, I began to plaster the strands to the wall so I could throw it all into the trash when I stepped out.
Aria wandered in, saw me in the shower, and proclaimed, “Aria shower! Shower with mommy!”
I reluctantly allowed her in, grieving the loss of the closed shower doors (she likes to leave them open) and the warmth that escaped in a breath. She plugged the tub, capturing the soapy water that began to swirl around our ankles. She splashed, she spun, she sortof let me wash her hair as she wandered aimlessly around the tub.
Then Aria looked up and screamed, “EEW!! Eeew eeew eeew!!” I followed her gaze and saw her looking in horror at the spidery mess on the wall.
Other recent antics include wanting to change the movie in the DVD player over and over again. She is able to do it all herself, will go and get a movie from the case (she recognizes them by their cases, she knows which ones are which), take the movie out, eject whatever movie is currently in the player, puts the new one in, puts the ejected one away in its correct case and back in the movie stand thingy, and will watch for approximately 2 min before wanting to do it all over again. The only thing she can’t do quite yet is start a movie that requires the remote control. The DVDs will start automatically, so she, literally, is completely self sufficient and doesn’t need any adult shmadults.
This becomes frustrating when, oh say, you’re trying to watch something on tv, like a football game, and she decides she’d rather watch a singalong video, and she and her father are RACING to the tv to see who can get to it first. I personally find this incredibly amusing.
For some completely unknown reason when I put her to bed it takes a million times longer than when her father does. Together we say our prayers, read books, put on our PJs and lotion and chapstick (mouth breather, always wakes up with cracked lips unless enough stuff is put on her lips before bed), sing songs, give lots of hugs and kisses and then she still cries and yells after me the names of songs she still wants sung, or asking for more hugs or kisses.. When Eric puts her down she is completely content after the 5 to 10 min he spends with her then leaves her tucked in and happy with no crying or yelling. So unfair.
Pain in the Butt #2:
My sweet, precious, oh so cute little baby is sooo patient and calm. One would never think she could be a pain in the butt. But no, she can be. For example, the bar that connects her shoes is off for now because she keeps kicking her shoe off by using the bar as leverage, and instead of spending the whole day re-buckling and re-tying her shoe, we’ve been told to just leave the bar off until we see the doctor again. She is SO excited to have freedom of her feet and they just kick constantly. Like at 5 in the morning. She apparently wasn’t hungry yet, because not a peep came from her mouth. No, we were just awoken with a very rhythmic, thunk thunk! … thunk thunk! … thunk thunk! It would last for awhile then I would groggily turn on the vibrate and music on the bassinet, and that would lull her for a bit, then it would start up again. This went on until I finally dragged myself out of bed and got us ready for the day. Ugh, so tired. Stinker.
But she’s soooooooooooo cute, and that smile just makes you instantly forgive her. And really, who can blame her for reveling in her new found freedom.
Pain in the Butt #3:
An actual pain. No really, I have a pain in my butt. The dermatologist took a suspicious looking mole for biopsy. So my butt hurts.
Pain in the Butt #4:
The hubby. Often of an evening I’ll ask him to put Aria to bed, or will give him the list of things I still need to do, and he’ll take over some portion of that list. Last night I rattled off things I still needed to accomplish and how tired I was (a little under the weather) and jokingly asked if he could pump for me. I’m so tired of pumping. Well he never actually signed up for any of the nightly activities and went about cleaning or whatever he was doing. I was a bit peeved and huffily took Aria up for a bath and to put her to bed. A tiny bit pissy the whole time.
Well once she was tucked away I came back downstairs and Eric was holding Avery, had just fed her, and also showed me one of the pump bottles with something in it. He said, “I pumped, but this is all that came out.”
It was slightly brown and viscous. I was very very wary of what was in the bottle, and while appreciative that he had fed the baby, I still had to take her up and top her off because she was clearly not sleepy yet. Not to mention I still had to pump.. ugh.
I asked, “what’s in the bottle?” and his response was repeatedly, “I pumped! You asked me to pump and I did! Aren’t you happy?”
So, while a bit less pissy, I was still frustrated that I still had to put the baby to bed and pump.. I just wanted to go to sleep already.
Once all that was done, I came back down and was going to go wash bottles and pump parts for the next day. But Eric had already washed everything. Ok, I was no longer pissy.. but what was in that bottle???
I opened it. It was sweet smelling. “Eric! Did you put syrup in here??”