Monday, September 29, 2008
It's a Boy!
Cooper Cabell Holton
8 pounds, 3 ounces
September 26, 2008
I went into labor the night of Harlie's birthday. We got to the hospital at about 11pm. Here's me checking in (the last belly shots):
Ahhh, look how happy I was here...
WHAT?!?! Are you kidding me?? Only 4 centimeters?!?!?! Oh boy, I think I'm in trouble.
Well, I wanted a whole different experience. And I got one. I was nauseous, shaky and itchy. I couldn't sleep at all. He wasn't in the correct position for proper birth and his shoulder got stuck, and, here's the best part, the epidural ran out more than an hour BEFORE his birth! It was lovely.
But, most importantly, he is HEALTHY! We got to hear him cry and there was no NICU team in sight! Then they brought him to me when they were done with him and he got to stay in my room all day long! It really was a wonderful experience. After I took a shower, I started to get dressed, in regular clothes. Then I realized that I didn't have to leave my room. That I could stay in my pjs and stay in bed for the rest of my stay!! I was so used to having to leave my room (or the building) to go see my babies! This way was MUCH better!
I was afraid I would re-live all the feelings I had when I had Harlie (especially considering her birthday was the day before). And it certainly did take me a few hours to get myself "back" after the delivery. But once they brought me Cooper and I got to spend a few hours with him, everything just fell into place. I guess I was sort of scared how I would feel about him and if that would make me feel guilty about loving another baby other than Harlie. But, I guess as they say, your heart just grows bigger.
And now that Harlie is doing so well and is happy as can be, I don't find myself "sad" about her actual birth day anymore. I mean, I'll never look at it as a good, happy experience. But instead of focusing on her birth, I will just celebrate where she is and how far she's come. And I am so thankful that this third time was the charm, and I finally got a typical birth so I could be just a regular mom who is so incredibly happy to have this cute little boy.
Tom brought Murphy and Harlie up to see me on Saturday and boy, was that a crazy experience. Harlie did great. So far, she has no issues with me holding the baby. She just signs "baby" herself and wants to hold him. It's so cute. I really think that her timing of walking just couldn't have been better. I think now that she's found this freedom, she is really focused on that and doesn't really care that I'm busy with a new baby.
So, here's the last photo of our family of four (taken just Wednesday night, I think):
And here's what we look like now...
It looks so funny to me. We're out-numbered!
Well, it has taken me a while to write this. Clearly, I don't get long stretches of time to concentrate on one thing (like this computer). And while Cooper is sleeping soundly, I think I might rest for a bit as well.
Thank you for all your well wishes and congratulations. It really was wonderful to have so many people excited about this birth with us.
So, thank you!
Friday, September 26, 2008
Here is the little guy for you all to see.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I don't want to look back at her actual birth day. That was not the joyous day it should have been. Especially considering how incredibly joyful she makes my life now. What a difference time (medical advances and some lucky breaks) makes! And not just in her achievements. Mine, too.
Two years ago, it hurt in every way to look at a "normal" baby. How lucky I thought everyone else was to have perfectly healthy, beautiful babies. Well, that's still true (about the lucky part, I mean. But it doesn't hurt to look at other babies now, thank goodness.) But, now I think of how lucky we are to have her. She really is such a joy to be around. She's a lot of work, I'm not going to lie about that. But, she is SO worth it!
Yesterday, Brandy and I took Harlie shopping to find a birthday present for her and someone who worked there noticed her. She told me that she used to work at Children's Hospital here in Richmond years ago. She was watching Harlie play and she told me that she looked like she is very sweet girl. We said yes. (It is so nice to know that other people can see it, too!) Luckily, Harlie has the perfect personality for the life she was given.
I wanted to put some stuff together for her birthday, but I just haven't been able to be focused on that task lately. Hopefully I will get it done soon, it just won't be today. Or tomorrow. It might be next month now that I'm thinking about it. And you would think that everything would be easier for me to do now versus later considering later I will have another baby to take care of. But, my head is just too foggy right now. The anticipation (and hope) of labor pretty much occupies my every thought.
Well, I'm going to try to work on her birthday project for a few minutes while the house is quiet. Happy Birthday Harlie!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I saw my OB doc yesterday and she wants to induce me on Sunday if I don't go before then. I really didn't want it to come to that, but I want to do what's best for the baby and the thought that we could finally meet the little one in just 5 days makes me happy. Plus, with our nursing situation, planning has HUGE advantages. We are going to pretty much need 24-hour nursing care (for Harlie, I mean) while I'm in the hospital and I only get so much per week. But, now that I'm thinking about it, I do have some respite care that I haven't used yet, so that will be fine. It's just that each nurse can only work so many hours. Brandy would definitely do more than 40 hours in a week, but they won't allow it. And one of my other nurses (Dawn) works during the day elsewhere, and the third (my friend, Jennifer) has 2 kids and their schedules to worry about. So, planning really would be very helpful for us all.
Well, Harlie is doing great with her walking. I can't believe how much it has changed her! She is so much more confident in everything else. She is really starting to behave like a typical toddler! You know, she wants up, then she wants down, etc. Whereas she used to be completely content being held forever. She walks every chance she gets now and when she falls, she doesn't cry (that used to set us back days and weeks!) she just gets right back up and keeps going. It has been so amazing and wonderful to watch.
We had physical therapy yesterday and Traci is working on getting her feet closer together when she walks. Right now her base is still far apart and she walks with her hands up high in a protective way. Traci said that in time her hands will come down and within a few months her hands will be swinging by her sides. Brings a smile to my face. Anyway, Traci had Harlie walk on a board that was about 6 inches wide or so to try to get her legs and feet to stay closer together. She did pretty well with assistance. But on her own she just put one foot on the board and the other off, which is still good for her balance practice. The cool thing is how cooperative she was to do it over and over again. She thought it was pretty funny.
We also talked about her foot braces. She definitely walks better with her braces on, versus off. So, we are going to have her continue to wear them all the time (when she's awake, I mean) through the winter and spring and re-evaluate how she's doing at the beginning of summer. Traci said that it's not just a strength issue, it has something to do with ligaments and we just aren't sure what they are going to do at this point. Hopefully wearing them another 8 months or so will get things good enough that she could sport some sandals in the summer on occasion with no braces. She has grown a lot this summer and she got the braces that she has now back in May so it looks like she'll be needing a new set pretty soon.
We also had speech therapy. That was a little more challenging. Beth tried to get a baseline of how her mouth and face are now as far as stretching and mobility goes. That way she can see exactly what we need to work on. There are some facial/mouth reflexes that we have that can be measured - and, well, Harlie didn't have some of those reflexes. But, that just tells her what we need to work on. And the good thing is that we will be able to really tell what our progress is down the road. And that's always good.
But, Harlie wasn't too happy about all the face work. I need to call Dr. Magee's office today. There is a bone in the right side of her jaw that is really sharp and I have a feeling that it will start to come through her skin soon. We found it a while ago and now her skin is bruised and it definitely feels sharper than it did before. When I talked to his office about it after we found it she asked me if it had come through yet and I said no. She said that he won't do anything unless it comes through. I guess he shaves it smooth. ugh. But we see him October 14th for our follow up so we'll see what he says then.
Anyway, my point is that I think the facial exercises, which makes her skin move around, hurts her because of the sharp bone. So, I guess I will continue to do what she allows me to and not force the ones that she really doesn't like at this point (which are the exercises that stretch the bottom of her face).
Well, I've written enough for right now. And I'm hungry. Again.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Well, I can officially say that Harlie is walking. Every day she walks more and more. Another huge milestone achieved. And right before her 2nd birthday! I can't tell you how thrilled we are. And what a difference a little confidence has done for her! She is playing like a typical toddler and it is wonderful to watch! We don't even bring the walker in the house anymore. Although I still use it for distances, as she can only do short ones now. But, I know that will change quickly!
Here is a video (shocker) of her walking at the mall this past weekend. Another thing she's learned is how to give a kiss (something the jaw surgery has helped). I know it is hard to hear (the water fountain is right behind me so the camera picked up the sound), but Tom asked her to give him a kiss. She is just the sweetest thing ever!
Oh, and the other day she wanted her sunglasses, but they were just out of her reach. So, she made up her own sign! I couldn't believe it. She pointed at the sunglasses and then tapped her fingers to her temples. That's not the sign, but it is close enough and it really doesn't matter as long as I know what she's saying anyway. And I clearly understood her. She just amazes me!
Today we had feeding therapy with Beth. Harlie did great! Beth said that she swallowed a couple of times. But most important is how she's letting us do more and more and how she's biting down on her chew "toys" and moving her tongue all around. So, now I can see that what felt like not making progress, is actually, well... making progress. What a difference that makes to my spirit and my new enthusiasm for working with her feeding!
I can't believe how great everything is going. Oh! And she has been wearing her PMV (speaking valve) a lot the last few days. In fact, she wore it practically the whole time during her feeding session today (1 hour). And there is a little plastic hook that wraps around the trach so if she takes off the PMV it hangs there instead of falling on the floor. So, I put that on and for a couple of hours she kept on putting it on herself and clapping. Clearly, we're big clappers in this house - you know, all that positive reinforcement stuff. Anyway, I was trying to get her to make sounds (other than the sound you've heard before) and she actually said "mama!" Now, she wasn't looking at me, or calling me and I don't think she realized that she even said it. But, the fact that she did is all that matters. And I'm not exaggerating or making that up. My Mom and Dad were there and they heard her, too.
Beth said that she will start to learn the same way a baby learns they can make sound. So, it will be a learning process, but one that we are REALLY looking forward to. And I think I can relax a little. I think she's made it perfectly clear that she will accomplish her goals when she's good and ready and somehow it seems to all work out. And that she can do that in one instant. Meaning that one day she wouldn't walk if her life depended on it, and the next day, she took off.
I will have to get Tom to take a new photo of my belly. It is very big and I think I can officially say that I am ready to have this baby! Well, that's it for now.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
My speech therapist suggested that we try it while she's watching TV so she'll be distracted. So, here's her whining:
That's it for now. Hopefully I'll have more, better ones, later!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
First, I must say that the trip to DC overall was great. Traffic was moving both on the way there and on the way home, so that wasn't much of an issue (always a great thing).
You know, I wish I knew how many procedures Harlie's had at a hospital that have required anesthesia (in her life). I suppose I could try to go back through my calendars and see if I could find them all. Despite her knowing very well where we are and what's going to happen, she just doesn't seem bothered at all. The nurse doing all the pre-op stuff to her looked right at Harlie and said, "I can tell you have been through this too many times, you are way too good." The whole time all the other babies are crying and Harlie is just playing with us and letting the nurse do whatever she needed to do. Don't get me wrong, I suppose I am glad. If we have to spend this much time there, it is certainly easier on me that she's good and happy. Although handing her over to the team when it's OR time is NEVER easy. She does not let strangers hold her and it is agony to pry her little fingers and hands from my arms. How many times are we going to have to do this??
Oh, I have to say that there was a resident there that came in to ask me if I had any questions. HA! I should have asked him if he had any questions!! Just to give him something to think about, I asked him how long the procedure would take. He went on and on giving me some BS answer that simply made no sense at all. I should have told him that it is okay to say "I don't know." As a veteran of the OR, I saw through his BS answer, and, quite frankly, was insulted. I just smiled politely and hoped he would leave my sight as soon as possible. I looked at Brandy and she just started laughing, knowing very well what I was thinking. I really think I've hit my breaking point with residents. The next time I get someone like that, I'm going to help educate them on talking to moms like myself - politely, of course.
So, Harlie had a bronchoscopy. The goal was to see if the jaw surgery actually got her jaw out of her airway and to make sure there were no other airway issues (scar tissue, granulomas, etc.). The good news is that her airway looked great and he said that the jaw was completely clear from her airway. Definitely improved from before, of course. Keep in mind that this doc is the one that performed her emergency intubation right after her birth. He said that at that time regular intubation was impossible due to the severity of her underdeveloped jaw. And he did her bronch last year, so he knows her intimately.
The bad news is that he could not use a rigid bronchoscope, even though he was able to use one last year. This was puzzling because if anything, given the jaw surgery and her growth in one year, it should have been easier, not impossible. He said that he believes it was because of her cervical spine abnormalities. She has some vertebrae that are fused together making mobility impossible. So, basically she has a lot less range of motion (looking up especially). Great. Just when I think one of her abnormalities is "no big deal" and completely livable without being obvious or a pain in our butts, it rears it's ugly head. UGH! I guess he couldn't tilt her head back enough to get the bronch in the right angle. I don't really know what this means for her. I'm choosing to put it in the back of my mind for now.
He also looked in her good ear. I am SO happy he did that! Back when she got her wires removed, she also had an ABR test on her hearing. They said she had mild hearing loss in her good ear (which did not make me happy, of course, since she only has one). Well, he said that her ear tube had come out of her ear drum and was in the canal, and a granuloma was growing around it and it was blocking the canal! So, he removed the granuloma and the tube and cleaned it all out. YAY! That would certainly explain her loss of hearing! I noticed lately that she would play with a very loud toy right up to her ear and not even be phased by it. So, hopefully this means that her hearing is great.
So, since her airway looked good, he did downsize her trach (which allows more air to pass by the vocal cords). So, after she recovered for a few hours a speech therapist came to see her and test the PMV. The BIG moment! She brought a pressure gauge and put the PMV on and her pressures were great! And she maintained her normal sats (oxygen levels) and kept the PMV on for... get this... 10 WHOLE MINUTES!!! I was SO pleased!!! The ST said that she was good to go. Of course, during the 10 minutes, she didn't make one itty bitty little sound. We tried everything, and she just sat there with her mouth hanging open looking at us like we had lost our minds. Then she pulled it off and put it back in the container.
Of course, I've tried putting it back on countless times, and she takes it off immediately. So, I have gotten to hear some squeaks, but that's it. We see our speech therapist tomorrow, so we'll see what she thinks. Maybe she'll have some ideas as far as getting her to wear it.
Well, that's it. Thanks for reading!
Monday, September 8, 2008
Today was so busy. I just have to share...
Took Murphy to school at 8:30, went to Harlie's pediatrician for her pre-op physical, dropped Harlie and Brandy off at home, went and picked up Murphy from school, took him to his dentist appointment, went to the grocery store, came home, got to be there for the end of physical therapy (which went GREAT), speech therapy was canceled, had lunch, put Harlie down for her nap, Murphy was settled down for quiet time (which ended up being a nap), left to go run errands to... our bank, Benjamin Moore paints to return something, Harlie's bank, back to the pediatrician's office for a form that I have to have for her procedure tomorrow in DC, then to the pharmacy to pick up her prescription, to the library, came home, realized I forgot some items from the grocery store that we needed for dinner, so had to go back to the grocery store for a second time and then came home and got to stay. Whew!
Well, I really need to go but I just wanted to tell you how great physical therapy was today. She walked 17 steps totally by herself. I don't know why she did it for Traci and won't do it for us. Other than she just wants to torture us even more than she usually does. Anyway, here is Brandy and I trying to get her to walk after Traci left. The sign she does is the sign for "change diaper." She really cracks me up.
Here is her walking:
I am still learning my new camera so I missed a bunch of good walking. Ugh. And Tom just told me that I had my setting at compact, so the video is really small. He changed it for me, so hopefully the next ones will be better.
Now I need to go and pack for our trip to DC tomorrow. We have to leave at 5am. I really hope I get a decent maternity leave so I can get some rest. haha At 4pm today they called to tell us the time to be there. Then they told us that she would have to stay for 24 hours. I about had a cow. I did NOT want to stay up there overnight. So, I e-mailed her doc and hoped that he had his e-mail go to his blackberry so he would get it in time. He did and e-mailed me right back that he would release her the same day, so not to worry. Whew! I was very glad to hear that. So, hopefully all will go well and we can hear some of her voice tomorrow!
I'll let you know how it goes...
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Here it is:
Once we have the baby, we will get some gender-specific knobs for the dresser to jazz it up a bit. I really want to thank Paul for helping us get this project done. The correct paint equipment was essential to get the right look. So we really appreciate his help. Tom still needs to build the night stand, but in the interest of time, we knew we could live without the night stand for a little while. I can now relax knowing that the baby has a place to call home! Ahhh....
Now... Are you ready for some football???
We (Tom, myself and Murphy) are off to go watch the Steeler's play their first game of the season. I don't remember if I mentioned it or not, but Tom used to be the President of the Steeler Club. But this season he stepped down due to family obligations. I was so glad he decided to do that. So, now we are going to the club to watch the game like we used to many years ago. I haven't been able to go in several years and now Tom will be able to relax and watch the game with us without having any presidential duties to worry about. Harlie cannot go due to the smoke. No way she can go anywhere near smoke with her trach and lung issues. So, unfortunately she has to stay home.
Well, that's it for now.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I definitely feel like we are flirting with disaster. The last thing I wanted to do was to be out of town (2 hours away if good traffic) for an entire day at 37 weeks pregnant. Granted, I will be right across the street from where I had Harlie, so it's not like we don't know the area. But still...
As much as I didn't want this bronch to have to happen, we simply have no choice. I am determined to get a PMV (speaking valve) on Harlie! I don't care what I have to do. It is so important to the function of her airway and swallowing, not to mention that hopefully it will get her understanding that she can make sound so we can make some progress in the speech department. Although I know that it won't be as simple as just putting the valve on and teaching her how to talk. I have a feeling we will struggle with her to keep the valve on. Since she will not wear an HME, it really wouldn't surprise me if she takes the PMV off, too. But, I am hoping that once she figures out she can hear herself, that will help motivate her to wear it. Clearly, we will have to cross that bridge later.
Unfortunately, this makes Harlie's 5th procedure under anesthesia in just 4 months!!! Add Murphy's surgery in and quite frankly, I am TIRED of hospitals!!!! Throw in all the pre-op AND follow-up appointments, not to mention the home therapies and it just gets overwhelming.
Monday should be fun. Harlie has to get a pre-op physical by her pediatrician (for the bronch on Tuesday) at 8:50am, then Murphy has a dentist appointment at 10:30, then Harlie has physical therapy at 11:30 and then speech therapy at 12:30. Ahhh, sounds relaxing, doesn't it?
Well, tomorrow the baby's furniture gets painted! Thankfully, our friends Susan and Paul are helping us out. Paul is a cabinet builder and has the necessary equipment so him and Tom are going to be working on it tomorrow. Hopefully Tom will be able to bring it all home on Sunday. I am so excited!
Well, that's it for tonight.
He might be nervous to put a smaller trach in when we aren't sure if her jaw reconstruction was successful. Over time, her jaw could continue to recede, making the smaller trach size not such a good idea. So, we'll just have to see.
I'll update on how it went later on tonight (if it's not too late). Have a good day and wish us luck!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I am very thankful that he gets lunch there before I pick him up. And it is a very good, well-balanced lunch, too. Anyway, getting into a new groove has been good. It is definitely different to have him home every afternoon. And, sadly, he has out grown his nap. The timing really couldn't have been better. Now that he's home at 12:30, I don't have to worry about him having a different schedule some days (they still nap at 1pm in his class). Bedtime is so much better now without him taking a nap. I really wanted him to keep it until I could get a handle on having the new baby, too. But, that didn't happen. So, now instead of nap time, he gets "quiet time" and has to stay in his room and play, read, etc. So far he has been pretty cooperative. So, hopefully that will work out fine.
This past weekend we were very busy. We actually got out as a family, which I LOVED! Just running errands with all four of us in the car makes me happy. I don't know why exactly, but it does. We took the kids for haircuts, went to Target, went to the mall and let them play in Pottery Barn and the play area. The weather was great and Harlie got to do some walking outside (at the mall) and they seemed to have a great time.
Sunday was our 6th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, I've had a cold for the past couple of weeks, so we didn't get to go out to dinner or anything. But we had a nice dinner at home and watched a movie. Tom got me this great little camera that takes movies, too. That way I can easily download my movie clips onto this blog. I'm very excited about that. Downloading the videos I was taking was a nightmare. So this will be much better. And since it is a smaller camera, I can keep it with me all the time, which is great.
And, this is the best part... Tom finished the baby's furniture! YAY! All he has to do now is paint it, which is being done on Saturday. So, if all goes well, the furniture will be up in the room by next week! Here are some pics of the dresser:
Oh, I have another funny Murphy story. When we were out over the weekend I put a pink bow in Harlie's hair (to keep her bangs out of her eyes). Yesterday, Murphy got the bow and wanted to put it in her hair. I told him no, that she didn't want it right then and he said, "But she looks beautiful with a bow in her hair." He is so funny. The two of them together just crack me up.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Out of all the things I've seen her endure - this one just makes me hurt - sick to my stomach kind of hurt. And the realization that she can't alert you that something is terribly, horribly wrong... Ugh. I just don't want to think about it. What if I was doing the dishes with my back turned? What if I was putting the laundry in the wash? Well, so much for being comfortable enough to leave the room for a few seconds.
She calmed down after only a few minutes. I'm STILL not calmed down, really. I just cannot believe what that little girl can handle. I felt better when she stopped crying and started playing again. And Tom said that a trip to the ER would be, well, kinda silly. He is the one that got her thumb out and he said that it was only the upper portion of her thumb, not her knuckle, so he really thought that it was just bruised (and squished flat) and that there's nothing an ER could do for her. Which is true. And she really seemed fine. I am sure we'll see an ugly bruise forming tomorrow, though.
Well, just had to get that off my chest. Somehow writing about what bothers me helps a little. Now I need to go think about something else!
Oh, one other thing... Murphy woke up the other morning and told us he had a dream that he had an ice cream cone for breakfast. We said, yep, that's a dream alright. Here's your cereal. He was pretty disappointed. But, he's over that, too, it seems.
Oh - and sorry about the lack of posting this weekend. No baby yet. Just busy doing stuff with the family (which was great).