Thursday, September 27, 2012

Life Lately

Another whirlwind week come and gone.  I seriously stopped in my tracks this morning at the realization that it was already the end of September.  Crazy! 

Our lives have been even more hectic than usual lately it seems. 
Last Monday: appointment with Audrey's ENT to have her tubes checked.  All is good.
Last Tuesday:  appointment with all 4 of the therapists that evaluated Audrey and the coordinator and discussion of the next steps.
Last Wednesday:  appointment with Audrey's pediatrician for her 9 month wellness visit (oops - she was 9 1/2 months+ for this appointment).  Both kids got flu shots and Audrey got another shot. 

Tim was out of town all weekend last weekend so it was just me and the kids.  Somehow we managed to stay busy the entire weekend though, between a haircut for Barrett, grocery shopping, making a few freezer meals (Chicken Chili and  Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili) and a lovely visit from my wonderful friend Jen.  It'll be Tim's turn this weekend when I have to work all weekend. 

This week Audrey came down with something and was home for two days from daycare so Tim and I each had to take a day off to stay home with her.  Poor little thing just looked so pitiful, glassy-eyed and hot and just wanted to be held all day.  Holding her was like holding a lightbulb, she was so hot.  Fortunately she is doing a lot better today, but still not her normal active and happy self.

Work has also been busy since I'm still interviewing applicants for an open position in my department.  It's been really hard to find qualified applicants, believe it or not.  Whomever the recession has been hitting either isn't in my field or in my area!

We had some good meals this week too so wanted to share the recipes.

Slow Cooker French dip -  so easy and delicious.  With only a few ingredients (beef, beef broth, french onion soup and beer) really can't be beat.  Tim claims it's near the top of his list of favorite meals now.

Carnitas - we poured this packaged sauce on a pork roast and simmered in the slow cooker all day.  I try to avoid packaged stuff for both the mystery ingredients and the cost, but it was very flavorful and easy.  We served on corn tortillas with sliced avocado and tomatoes.  This is probably the last of the garden's tomatoes, as it's turning really cold here some days!

One great development in the last few weeks is that now Audrey is eating table food with us!  It's so nice to be able to serve her what we make for ourselves and she's actually a much easier and less picky eater than someone else under 3 feet tall who shall not be named but has the ability to make some mealtimes a nightmare.  Some nights little Audrey devours her food and just eats and eats, even picking food off her bib after we've taken her tray off the chair.  It's so wonderful to see her eating so well and I can only hope the scale will show this when we weigh her again in a few weeks. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Audrey - Nine months old

Poor Audrey, I never posted an eight month update for her.  Neglected second child.  And her 9 month photo shoot was an adventure that I wouldn't mind never repeating!  She has become such a wiggle worm and was all over the place.  Everytime I would try to take a photo, she started crawling forward, propelling herself out of the chair and trying to get away.  The photos were exhausting!

Anyway, Audrey at nine months is such a sweet little thing.  She has become her own little person in the last few weeks, so unbelievably curious and active.

Food - I had almost given up hope on solids but she has now turned mealtimes around and is eating solids like a champ!  Dare I say that she is doing awesome???  In the last month she has eaten pears, plums, peaches, prunes, cauliflower, and parsnips.  She also really likes finger foods, although has gagged a few times after eating them.  I think the texture gets stuck in her throat.  This has happened with the chunkier parsnips I made this weekend and with bread.  She's really cut back on her milk consumption, hopefully due to the added solids.  I continue to worry about her eating constantly but am optimistic since she seems to really be warming up to and excited about solids.

Sleep - what can be said about her nightime sleep besides that she rocks! She goes down easily at 8pm like clockwork.  I wake her at 7am weekdays and she'll sleep until around 8 on the weekends.  Naps on the other hand continue to be not so great.  Most days she'll just take a few 20 minute catnaps here and there.  If we're out and about, she's pretty good with falling asleep in the ergo.  But every once in a while she'll surprise us with a really long weekend nap out of nowhere.  So hard to predict.  She seems to nap best curled up on me or Tim and that sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon to me!

She's really started to show preferences for people and some stranger anxiety.  One of her favorite people is definitely her older brother and she's all about watching him and doing whatever he's doing.

Audrey's favorite toys are her musical seahorse and this random clock that I bought at Once Upon A Child, thinking Barrett could better learn numbers and how to tell time.  Turns out she loves dumping it over and playing with all the pieces.
Fighting over toys all the time now!

Her lateral incisors popped through mid-August and it's so cute to see her little fangs!  The middle ones are following soon after though, so no fangs for long. 

One of my favorite latest activities of Audrey - crawling!  Okay, so that wasn't a development in her ninth month - it happened at 9 months, 2 days, but I'll include it here since it was close enough.  She moves slowly, but she's doing it.  In the two weeks before she turned 9 months, she became really active as far as moving up and down from sitting to laying, pivoting and reaching.

And since I never updated for her 8 month milestones, here is a photo from Audrey at 8 months!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our LITTLE girl and some serious issues

Boy, two posts in a row about feeling bummed.  What a depressing blog, huh?  I swear I have a half dozen half-written posts that are much more upbeat but I need to add photos and finish them so in the meantime, I'll just be a Debbie Downer and write yet another depressing entry.

I have had Audrey evaluated by Early Intervention, based on recommendations from her pediatrician and Cleft team.  I have been concerned with her, shall we say, extremely petite size and her reluctance to eat and babble so the medical teams and I decided this was something I should pursue.

I met with a developmental therapist, a physical therapist, a nutritionist and a speech therapist over the last few weeks.  The news was mixed.

Physically, our Audrey Kate is doing great.  She's sitting, crawling, reaching for objects, etc.  But the other information wasn't so positive.

As expected, she's little.  Like really little.  Like 4th-percentile-for-weight little.  Everyone is surprised to hear that since she looks so proportional but she is falling off the growth curves.  She's 8th percentile for height.  In the last month or so, I've started adding 1t of formula to some of her bottles but clearly that's not enough.  So now I'm adding formula to all her bottles in an effort to bulk her up.  Barrett is small, there's no doubt about it.  He's routinely in the bottom 20% of the growth charts, which is still surprising to me.  Tim and I are not small people are neither are the majority of our family members.  I don't know where he got his little stature from.  But he's not alarmingly small like Audrey. 

Secondly, her vocalization is just not where it needs to be.  She's making sounds that a two month old might make.  Pretty much all she's doing is cooing and making "ah-ah" sounds from the back of her throat.  Occasionally, we do hear a "mamama" sound but this is rare.  I had assumed first that her sounds would be delayed because of the cleft but her speech pathologist at her Clinic told me that the cleft shouldn't influence her sounds.  Then I assumed it was probably due to her inability to hear well until she got her tubes placed, but it's been 6 months now and she still hardly makes any noises.  She is just a quiet little thing.

Based on preliminary recommendations, the developmental & speech therapist that I met today suggested that the next steps would be to see a medical diagnostic professional to assess her more thoroughly.  They thought this might be a endocrinologist or geneticist to see if there are further issues at play here.

I am terrified.

Clefts can come by themselves as just an isolated fluke or they can be a part of a much more serious syndrome.  I'd been thinking all this time that we were in the clear and that her small size was just due to her difficulty and reluctance in eating.

Now I am being told that it may be much more than that.

I am trying to get through the day and hope for the best.  I will hear the final evaluation of the Early Intervention Team tomorrow and then we'll have to figure out our next steps.  I cannot even fathom the thought of my little Audrey having more serious medical issues than we knew she already had.  All I can do is hope and pray and try to keep it together.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Last week I traveled to Wolfsburg, Germany, for work.  It was the first time leaving Audrey and only my second overnight trip away from Barrett.  Poor Tim had to take on the task of all the childcare duties, which isn't easy.   And I knew it was going to be tough to leave the kiddos and a bit exhausting to travel overseas.  But I had no idea what was ahead...

It all started with a 9pm flight from Chicago.  This part went relatively smoothly.  The only hitch was that I had to pump.  I thought I would possibly be able to do this in my seat, since it would be nighttime and I can do it pretty discreetly under a blanket, but it felt really awkward, due to the location of my seat and continued meal service.  I hogged the bathroom for 20 minutes twice, standing in a gross airplane bathroom attached to a pump.  Keeping it classy.

I proceeded from Munich to Hanover via another flight, then took two trains and a taxi before finally reaching the hotel Tuesday night.  Total travel time = 19 hours.  Total modes of transportation =  6 (1 car, 2 planes, 2 trains, 1 taxi)  I was exhausted!

The next two days was our conference.  I was unbelievably jetlagged.  I guess that's something you get used to the more you do it, but when you average 6 hours of sleep per night and spend a night traveling, the time change definitely catches up to you.  I was really struggling to stay awake and feel okay.  Plus, pumping in the bathroom during every break wasn't fantastic either.

Of course, just as I was finally starting to assimilate, it was time to return home.  That is when the fun really started.

 Our first flight was scheduled from Hanover to Frankfort at 8:30am.  I was very nervous about the day's flights due to a pending flight attendant strike.  So when I randomly woke up at 1am, I thought I'd better check to see if the flight was okay.  Sure enough, it was cancelled.  I spent the next few hours trying to figure out what to do, going back and forth, and finally decided to wake up my coworker and try to catch the 6:30 flight.  I called him at 3am and we left the hotel at 3:30 to depart in his rental car for the airport.

Then the highway was closed.  Oh joy.  As cute as I think those rural German towns are, I didn't plan on seeing them at 4am!

We ran into the airport and made it to the gate.  Relieved, as I continued to see that my flight from Chicago was still on time! I made it to Frankfort, enjoyed all the luxuries that airport provided (tiny dirty bathrooms, crazy crowds and chaos and employees and passengers yelling and overflowing trash cans) only to see that my flight was suddenly delayed as it was scheduled to board.  Flights all over the board were cancelled, so I had no choice but to hold out hope for my scheduled flight to eventually make it out.  I was seriously concerned that I may be stranded in Germany indefinitely.

At last the gate clerks announced it would be departing!  We all herded around like cattle, as if the plane would pull away again and we'd still be stranded there.  Just as they were close to opening the doors, someone vomited all over the floor at the gate.  And no employee cleaned it so everyone had to walk through/around it to get onto the plane.  I alternated feeling like I was on candid camera or in a third world country.

Finally, at 9pm that night (4am German time), I made it home.  Total travel time = 25 hours, total awake time = 27 hours.  Tim kept the kids awake so I couldn't have been happier than to wake through that door and see all my babies.

I knew Barrett would miss me, which he did.  Since I've returned he's been crazy clingy to me and my biggest fan.  That could also have something to do with my insane work schedule in the last week since I've returned, including working Saturday and Sunday and working until 10pm Tuesday night.

But I didn't think Audrey would really mind me being gone.  Turns out I was wrong.  Everyone commented that she just wasn't herself - that she wasn't as bubbly or happy as normal, was much more subdued and that it seemed like she missed me.

Needless to say, after this experience, I don't plan to fly again anytime soon.  In all my years of traveling for work (which were a lot, since I traveled non-stop for my first job), this was by far the worst travel experience I had.  So happy to be home and with my family again!