Wordless Wednesday: ONE

Thank you to my wonderful friend Erin for taking these pictures- I absolutely adore them!

Home from the Hospital

We just got home from a 2 night stay at the hospital. Grayson, being the sweet big brother that he is, waited until after his sister’s birthday party before getting sick. This illness came out of nowhere and really took us by surprise; it just once again shows the unpredictability that is life with a medically fragile child.

Tomorrow is Ryan’s birthday. Four years ago today I found out I was pregnant, and the next day surprised my husband with the news that he was going to be a dad. Four years later, I spent the day cuddling my precious baby boy in a hospital bed, trying to keep him calm as we waited to see if he would tolerate his feeds so we could go home. He’s been battling a virus and it’s been a really rough three days on him, and on all of us.

Saturday night, Grayson was restless and fussy. Ryan was up with him several times because he was vomiting, and I crawled in bed with him about 2:00 am, thinking I could sing and cuddle him back to sleep. Neither his favorite “mommy” songs nor his Veggies calmed him, so I knew something was up. I finally brought him into the living room about 5:30 and realized he was warm. We went back and forth whether or not to bring him in, but when his fever climbed to 102.6 and he had a seizure (his first since November) we loaded him up and made our way to the hospital.

Although the decision to admit him was made right away, we were in the ER about 8 hours waiting for a room. During that time Grayson had two more seizures, one requiring IV medication to stop. He was poked six times, including once where the nurse hit an artery instead of a vein. There was lots of blood everywhere- ugh. The nurses were having a really difficult time finding good veins for an IV and to draw labs, and since his feet are casted right now, that ruled out those for vein options. They finally were able to get an IV in his thumb.

He was started on heavy IV antibiotics, which I really struggle with. I know that if he did or ever does have a bacterial infection, antibiotics could literally save his life and prevent sepsis. However, they have to grow cultures for 48 hours to determine if it is bacterial, so giving him the antibiotics right from the start is always a “just in case” kind of thing. I hate, HATE pumping unnecessary stuff into my poor guy’s already fragile body, and actually had a conversation with Grayson’s immunologist about this a few months ago. From that conversation, I thought more individual consideration would be given this time since she said to have the ER call her, but I guess not. I did refuse to give him “just in case” Tamiflu, a decision I feel good about. It’s so hard to reconcile my intuition, my fears, and my trust in the medical team at the hospital, because a lot of times I feel pulled in a million directions.

By Sunday night it was obvious that Grayson’s little thumb just wasn’t going to support that IV for all they had to run through it (fluids and antibiotics) and the decision was made he needed a PICC line. The doctors and nurses all assumed that Grayson has had one before- nope. They were shocked. I guess it is pretty amazing that after all these hospitalizations and him being a “hard-stick” that he’s always been able to rely on regular IVs. Anyway, yesterday Grayson got the PICC line; it had to be inserted under anesthesia, so that was a whole long ordeal being taken down to radiology, putting him under, and waiting for him to wake up. Yesterday was a really long day. Thankfully, my sister in law came up to watch Grayson for a few hours and my friend who lives close to the hospital picked me up, bought me dinner, and let me use her shower. Life-saving, these people of mine.

Last night Grayson went to be red and feverish, but woke up back to his normal self. It always amazes me how Grayson can go from totally fine to seriously ill in the blink of an eye, but then can seemingly recover just as quickly. I learned this morning he tested positive for parainfluenza (which is not the flu) and that explains his fever. Today we spent cuddling in his hospital bed; this is the first stay they put him in a bed and not a crib, which was nice for me to be able to lay down with him. We slowly restarted his feeds which he had been off of since Sunday and waited to be released to go home.

Today was a “snow day” in our city, which really meant lots of freezing cold rain and a few snow flurries, so I guess being cooped up in a hospital room wasn’t the worst place to be. But I sure missed my Charlotte, who spent the last three days with her Grammie (in Heaven, I’m sure).

Grayson fell fast asleep as soon as we got in the car to go home and is still sleeping soundly in his bed now. Poor baby has been through so much, both in the last 3 days and the last 3 years. I told the PACU nurse that I don’t think I would be as forgiving as he is if I had to go through half of what he does.  I’m praying this was just another bump in the road and we can quickly get back to our normal- whatever that is.

Charlotte’s 1st Birthday Party

This morning, we had Charlotte’s first birthday party. It was such a fun time celebrating our sweet girl’s first year of life with some of our favorite people!

I wanted the party to be low stress and simple; I chose the morning so we could party hard until naptime and then put both kids straight to bed (the plan worked!)

The invitation:

I made this sign with all Charlotte’s 1  year “stats”. I wanted it to look like a chalkboard sign, but I did it on a black canvas with paint pens-much easier!

I also made this banner-I’m hoping to hang it in her room or bathroom

We served breakfast- kolaches, cinnamon rolls, and fruit- yum!

The birthday girl didn’t quite know what to think of all those people in her house, but she was ok as long as she was with her BFF Grammie.

When grocery shopping the other day, I happened to find these “Window Markers”- GENIUS! They kept our little party guests busy, and now we have beautifully decorated sliding glass doors 🙂

Me and my girl, munching on a kolache. I think we look a lot alike in this picture.

Listening intently to Great-Grandmommy

Big brother Grayson was right in the thick of the action, but of course had ears only for his Veggies

Birthday Cinnamon Roll- much better than cake!

Family pics


Sweet friends

And…post nap sillies. Love.

It was a great day celebrating our precious Charlotte!

If Only

This morning, I opened up my Time.Hop app to discover this post from exactly 3 years ago. Three years have passed since I “came out” on my blog that there was something wrong with our son. I read that post with sadness this morning, and with a lot of if onlys…

If only I was right back in 2011, when I hoped that the only thing really wrong with my 4 month old baby boy was his vision, and that was why he wasn’t grabbing at toys or meeting other milestones. I was wrong.

If only I was right to hope that first brain MRI on January 24, 2011 showed no abnormalities, and would have allowed us to cross that worry off our list. I was wrong.

If only those early worries about our son’s life and development were a distant memory of his babyhood. They aren’t.

If only, if only, if only.

Three years ago, I became consumed with figuring out why Grayson was different, and how to make him better, and how to care for him in such a different way than all my friends were caring for their infants. It was overwhelming.

Caring for Grayson now isn’t so much overwhelming as it is profoundly sad. Tube feeding him, holding his head while he vomits multiple times a day, pumping him full of medication three times a day, and pushing him around in a wheelchair are all, unfortunately, normal now.

Normal, but so sad. I sometimes wonder what kind of kid Grayson would be if he was developing typically and wasn’t sick. Would he be an outgoing extrovert like his sister or an introvert like his parents? At three years old, would he be playing soccer or attending preschool? What would he be “into”?

I rarely, if ever, cry about Grayson anymore, but as I write this, I have tears in my eyes. There is so much good about Grayson, so much. He has completely changed my life and my attitude and I am a better person and mother because of him. But all that comes at such a high price: his life. His life spent listening to the same songs over and over and over in the same chair with the same one toy in his mouth- day after day after day. His entire life will likely be spent as an infant: in diapers, and relying on others to take care of even the simplest of tasks for him, tasks that his one year old sister mastered months ago. It’s just not right, and it’s not fair, and I don’t understand it.

If only…

Grayson’s Surgery

I apologize to those of you who have been waiting for an update on Grayson’s surgery last week. I’ve been meaning to write one since Wednesday but Ryan, Charlotte and I all had a mild stomach bug for a few days, which was exhausting, and then we had Charlotte’s birthday hoopla yesterday. My sweet girl had such a fun day- her daddy had off work for MLK day, so we met Grammie, Aunt Hannah and Uncle David, and “Baby Theo” (as she calls him) for breakfast. Then later in the afternoon we went to an extra music class since we’ll miss her regular class Saturday because of her party. All was great and wonderful until about 6:00 when Charlotte suddenly spiked a fever. I was thinking teething but it was a looooong night- she was up every hour until about 2:00 am screaming and was burning up. I only took her temp twice and it was 103. Poor sick bear. She’s a little better today, but still running fever and just feels crummy. We have her 12 month well-check tomorrow and I have a feeling I’m going to have to change it to a sick visit.

But back to Grayson. The surgery could not have gone better and we had a fabulous experience at UTMB in Galveston. I was so nervous about being in an unfamiliar hospital and not knowing if we were going to have any issues with them following the Mito anesthesia protocol, but the anesthesia team was totally on board and already familiar with the protocol. The surgery was scheduled for 9:00 am; we had to be in Galveston at 6:45, so it was an early morning around these parts. Thankfully, there was no traffic in Houston that early (we left at 5:30 am) and we made it there in plenty of time and had no trouble parking and getting our parking validated.

The pre-op moved quickly and efficiently. We had a room with a bed for G, so he was able to lay down comfortably while we signed all the consent paperwork and they took his vitals. They gave him a sedative about 30 minutes before they took him down to the OR, so he was chilled out by the time we saw the doctor. He was listening to his Veggie Tales on his ipad with headphones, and the doctor told us just to leave them on- so he was wheeled into surgery with Bob and Larry still serenading him (oh brother). We were so impressed that they took him back at exactly 9:00- both Ryan and I are very impressed with timeliness!

The procedure was quick- lasted about an hour, and the doctor came and got us and said it went really well. I then was taken to the PACU to wait for him to wake up. We always say Grayson takes FOREVER to wake up from anesthesia, but as he’s gotten older, the time has gotten much shorter. I don’t know exactly how long it took him to wake up, but it definitely was less than 2 hours. He woke up groggy but didn’t seem to be in a lot of pain; after a few minutes we were taken back to the floor where we started and waited to be released.

IMMEDIATELY we noticed a huge difference in the tone in his legs. I almost couldn’t believe how loose they were (are). Changing his diaper and his clothes were so easy and even picking him up was easier. Simply amazing.

We were released and were home by 3:00 pm. I can’t say enough good things about our experience- the nurses were wonderful, everything moved efficiently, and we were provided with a care packet and prescriptions all together in one place.

It’s almost been a week since the surgery and Grayson is doing really well. He’s been on pain medication but I don’t think he’ll need that much longer. His orange Childrite seat (big Bumbo) that he sits in a lot is the most remarkable- it was extremely difficult to get him in and out of that chair prior to the surgery because he would squeeze his legs so tightly together. Now, we lift him in and out with absolutely no problems (although we do need to look into getting him another kind of chair because this one doesn’t support his head at all). Diaper changes are a thousand times less difficult, and it’s a lot easier to carry him from one place to another because he isn’t so stiff anymore. His incisions are healing nicely and he will be in casts for 4 weeks. After that we will have the casts removed and his orthotics place will determine if he needs new AFOs or if the ones he has will still work.

I’m feeling so good about this and are so thankful we were able to do something for Grayson that has already impacted his quality of life so positively!

Letters to Charlotte: 1 Year

Dear Charlotte,

Happy, Happy Birthday to my baby girl! It really has been a whirlwind year, and I can’t believe we are already at the 12 month point in your life! What an absolutely amazing, joyful experience it’s been adding you to our family- we love you so and are so, so glad you are you!

You have grown and changed this year so very much- from a tiny 7 pound, 1 oz newborn to a 20 pound, 3 oz 1 year old! You are now 29 inches tall and are in size 12 month clothing and size 3 diapers. You have 2 bottom teeth and your hair is definitely getting longer and flipping up on the ends- adorable! You still drink three 8 ounce bottles a day and nurse 2-3 times, but are slowly starting to eat more solids to replace the milk.

I made a list of the words you can say, and there are 12 that you use consistently. You will mimic words and even phrases a lot too- I can’t wait to see how your vocabulary explodes in the coming months!

You are such a sweet little sister. Grayson is one of your favorite people and if he’s in the room, you want to be near him or on top of him. You give him hugs and kisses, talk to him, and pat his back when he’s not feeling well. I love watching you love him, even if I do have to intervene between you two quite a bit!

We are now in our new house and you have transitioned really well. You are sleeping well at night and taking good naps. You love climbing the stairs, cruising on the furniture, and sneaking into Grayson’s room to get into whatever you can!

I’ve been looking back at the hundreds and hundreds of pictures taken of you this year. Looking at you as a tiny newborn makes me wistful, but I absolutely love the little bundle of spunk that you have become. You are sassy, opinionated, sometimes exasperating, but you are also funny, sensitive, cuddly, and so, so sweet. I couldn’t love you more if I tried.

Happy, Happy Birthday sweet Charlotte Faith. I love you to the moon and back.



Toddlerhood, Here We Come!

In ONE WEEK my daughter will be one. ONE! However, Charlotte is not wasting time diving headfirst and fearlessly into toddlerhood. Sadly, unless she’s fallen asleep in my arms right before I put her down for the night, she has no resemblance to the tiny baby who slept soundly on my chest for hours at a time less than 365 days ago.

 Let’s be honest, this will be my first experience raising a toddler. Sure, I’ve been around toddlers a lot the past 3 years. I’ve read about them on blogs, seen frustrating tweets about their antics, and witnessed my friends corralling their own little people. But my own 3 year old was never a toddler. Obviously, he never “toddled”, but there’s also the fact that I never had to try and reason with him about things that were totally unreasonable, wipe his dirty bottom while he contorted himself into unnatural positions and tried to escape, have food thrown in my face or on the floor, or dealt with ohmygodistheworldendingbecauseyouarescreamingsoloud tantrums. I guess in these aspects, you could consider Grayson “easy” (ha).

So here we go. Lately, Charlotte has been giving me a preview of what’s in store for us over the next few years. And yes, I know we haven’t even scratched the surface of toddlerhood yet. Just wait until she starts walking, right? Eeeeek!

This morning, we didn’t have Grayson’s nurse, so I had to get both kids ready solo. This is doable, but difficult. Grayson’s morning routine involves a lot of medication in syringes (which you know Charlotte is very interested in), changing his diaper, his undershirt onesie, getting him dressed, refilling his feeding bag, combing his hair and putting on his AFOs and shoes. And he’s extremely stiff in the morning and can’t “help” at all, so it takes time. With no distractions or Charnado in the mix, it takes 30-40 minutes.

Enter Charnado to the scene.

I get Grayson out of bed, but him in his baby gym and turn on his Veggie Tales. He’s happy as a clam. I turn off his feeding pump and unhook the tube from the extension. Charlotte makes a beeline for the pole, pulls herself up on it, and it crashes to the ground and she hits her face on the floor. Screaming commences.

I’m giving Grayson his medicine and Charlotte is all up in our business, trying to help. She takes each empty syringe one by one, and either puts them in her mouth or tries to give them to Grayson in his button (smart girl). When she’s tired of that she crawls over to the pole again, grabs the hanging tube, flings it, and formula starts flying all over the room- aaaa! I take it away from her. More screams.

I then go to change Grayson’s diaper and Charlotte, once again being a big helper, starts pulling the wipes out of the box one by one. Then she decides that Grayson’s face needs a cleaning. He LOVES that (sarcasm font). I remove her from his presence. Screaming.

Charlotte finds my purse on the couch and empties the contents all over the floor. She takes all the cards from my wallet one by one and tosses them around the room and under the couch. Then she finds some homeopathic flu beadlet things in a container and starts shaking it like it’s a maraca at music class. I let her do it.

While I’m putting Grayson’s clothes on, Charlotte decides the socks that have been on her feet for the last hour are no longer acceptable and frantically tries to pull them off. They are the good kind that don’t come off (ha) but again, this causes more screaming.

I put Grayson in his orange chair to comb his hair. Charlotte wants her hair combed too and she thinks it’s hilarious that I alternate between combing her hair and Grayson’s. It’s pretty cute, until she decides she wants to do it herself and starts combing Grayson’s face.

Grayson starts throwing up. While I’m holding his head and a towel underneath it to catch the vomit, Charlotte takes this opportunity to pull up on her brother, laugh manically, and pull his hair.

I then put Grayson in his beanbag chair. Charlotte races over and climbs on top of him and starts bouncing and saying “Hi Gray Hi Gray”. Adorable accept for the fact that my poor defenseless boy is totally getting pounded on his stomach, just moments after vomiting.

At this point, I’m feeling a tad exasperated with her but I consciously make a huge effort to control my emotions- this is, after all, normal. And after Grayson, I will forever be thankful for normal. So instead of saying “No” for the hundredth time in 30 minutes, I put Grayson’s headphones on him, scooped Charlotte up, and I turned on a praise song I downloaded yesterday after hearing it at church. We listened to that song 3 times and danced around the living room. It was fun, calmed us both down, and gave poor Grayson a break from his sister’s relentless “affections”.

These are the words to the song I played:
What can I do but thank You,
What can I do but give my life to You
Hallelujah, hallelujah
What can I do but praise You,
Everyday make everything I do a hallelujah
A hallelujah, hallelujah

Because really, what can I do? Not much about Charnado, evidently. But I can be thankful and praise God that she is who she is, a sweet, precious, healthy whirlwind of an almost-toddler, who surely is going to make life very interesting in the years to come.

I love this girl.