Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Barrett was trying to butt his way in on a toy Audrey was playing with.
Me:  "Barrett, you need to let Audrey play with that by herself."
Barrett:  "but I'm helping to teach her to talk."
Barrett, now in Audrey's face: "TALK."

Me:  "Barrett, what do you think you'd want for your birthday?"
Barrett, without missing a beat: "cake.  Birthday cake."
Me:  "that is the gift you'd want for your birthday?  That's the only thing you want?"
Barrett;  "yes, just cake," with a big smile on his little face.
Alright, sounds like easy birthday shopping for his Mommy!  He definitely is my kid with that sweet tooth!

One morning we were discussing how children are so demanding and think they rule the house.
Me, laughing:  "Barrett, are you a tyrant?"
Barrett:  "no!  I just woke up!"
That one took me a second but then I got it, haha.  Tyrant = tired.

Audrey expresses a lot of interest in the toilet.  Barrett was going potty tonight and Audrey looked very curious.  So Tim asked if she wanted to sit on it.  Se replied, "yea," in her sweet little voice so he pulled her diaper off and sat her on it.
Barrett: "she needs to push her penis down."  (as he was instructed to do when sitting on the potty).
Tim, laughing:  "She doesn't have one"
Barrett:  "oh.  Because she's little?"

We finished a puzzle one afternoon.
Me:  "you did a great job!  I'm very impressed with what a great job you did on this puzzle!"
He very seriously responds: "I couldn't have done it without you."  Smartie pants.

I mentioned to Barrett that our babysitter, Cassie, is coming over to watch him and Audrey on Saturday.
Barrett:  "why?"
Me:  Because Daddy and I are going to dinner."
Barrett:  "I have an idea.  Why don't Daddy and Cassie go to dinner and you stay home with us?"

Barrett and Audrey were playing nicely one day together.  I asked what they were playing.
Barrett: "I'm the daddy and Audrery is the mommy.  We put the cars to sleep and the babies to sleep."
Me: "oh, sounds like everybody is asleep!  Do you want to go to sleep too?"
Barrett: "no, mommies and daddies don't sleep."
Truer words were never spoken, kid.

Irony:  Barrett coming up to me as I was making dinner and telling me, "I locked the pantry door so Audrey can't get into mischief."

Barrett and Audrey were dressing up in the construction worker and firefighter costumes we have.
Me:  "Barrett, do you want to be a construction worker when you grow up?"
Barrett:  "no, a firefighter."
Me:  "oh, a firefighter?"
Barrett:  Thinking..."No.  A bird"

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Audrey - 19 months

Audrey turned 19 months recently.  I can hardly believe it.  She is still a teeny little thing and oh so sweet, sweeter than ever.  She is funny and expressive, smart and sweet.

She is still a huge mama's girl.  And I eat it up.  She loves to be held and carried and she's so cuddly.  She is definitely still very reserved with strangers and doesn't give smiles away to just anyone.  But with us, she's so funny and sweet and playful.

Audrey is still a peanut.  She was 31" and weighed 20lbs 11oz at 19 1/2 months.  That's the approximate 18% for height (yay!!!) and 3% for weight (boo!!)  I am thrilled about the height growth.  I think she had a growth spurt over the last few weeks and I noticed she was seeming taller.  The weight, while still low, is at least a bit of an improvement on the growth curve from the last few months, where I'm not sure she was even at 0.1%,  She's inching closer to actually being on the curve again, so I guess that's good?  I obviously still have concerns with her small size, but I am giving it one more doctor's appointment, now that the palate repair surgery and all the repercussions from that are well behind us, to see if she can improve.   It's frustrating because I don't understand it - she eats pretty well so I just don't understand why she isn't catching up. 

She likes reading books (her favorite is Goodnight Gorilla), she loves following her brother around doing whatever he's doing.  Like if he were to lift his arms in the air and laugh, you better believe Audrey's doing the exact same thing. She and Barrett have also started fighting. And fighting.  And fighting.  So frustrating.  Each wants the toy the other has.  Of course.  And they push each other's buttons.  Audrey even more so than Barrett.  In the last couple months, Barrett, who previously ignored her for the most part, has now started to realize she can be a friend but also a competitor.  He wants her to come play with him and she wants to play with him always, but the two go at it.  A few months ago she started to slyly sneak up behind him and snatch his toys and run away, laughing.  We got a chuckle out of the fact that each loves to sit at the top of the slide, leaving the other waiting behind impatiently and growing increasingly frustrated. Apparently it's more fun to tease the sibling than to actually slide.

She's still our little daredevil.  Early on, I started to joke that she would be our rock climber or skydiver and I still see that.  She loves to be thrown up in the air.  We took her to the beach at my parents' lakehouse and at first she was tentative with the water and sand.  An hour later, she was trying to squirm out of my arms and swim to the middle of the lake on her own.  Crazy girl! She thinks she can do it all!

Words: mama, Mimi, daddy (ah-ee), Papa (na-na), water (wawa), hi (eye), bye (eye.  yes, sounds similar to hi, but we know the context), more (muh), elmo (eh-mo), yes (yeah), no (nuh), please (ease).  And her latest?  Audrey! (ahh-nee)  She is babbling a lot more.  Mimi and mama are her all-purpose words.  I think she may be trying to say a lot more and we just can't tell what she's saying.  We aren't hearing any Bs or Ds, which is disappointing to me.  We are continuing to meet with a speech therapist once a week.  Even though I don't always understand what she's trying to say verbally, she always makes her point known, through pointing or gestures.  She is really starting to have opinions.  She will vehemently shake her head no and push away anything she doesn't want or squeal for what she does. She does the signs for more and please pretty consistently, but that's it.  

She understands EVERYTHING.  It's crazy to me that she understands everything that we ask or tell her. That's reassuring to me, that even though she's not saying a lot, at least she understands everything.  She's pretty good at following instructions, although sometimes she'll get the twinkle in her eye and defy.

She's still incredibly sweet and caring.  She gives great hugs and kisses and cares about others.  When Barrett is in time out, even if it's for hitting her, she'll see he's upset and get his blanket and brings it to him and sometimes sit with him.  She takes care of dolls like a tiny mama. 

She has so many opinions these days, and lets us know.  If I try to set her down when she wants to be carried, she gives me limp legs so I can't set her down.  If I try to put her in her high chair when she doesn't want to be in there, she'll give me straight legs so I can't set her down.  If I try to hand her to another person, she'll cling to me and whine in protest.  At my parents lakehouse, she was quite outraged when we left the beach before she was ready so she tried to push the door shut so I couldn't put her in her seat, leaving a little handprint firmly on the window.  Little Miss Opinions!

As fun as this age can be, I'll confirm my statement with Barrett at this age, that this isn't my favorite age.  Oh it can be so fun.  Their personality is really coming out at this age.  They're starting to express themselves, communicate, play, interact, show their likes and dislikes.  But it's also really tough because there's so much they WANT to do but they don't have the sense to know the danger.  And they struggle with communication and there's no reasoning.  Audrey's a lot easier than he was, but it's just a tough age. A struggle and desire for independence, but they're still such babies so it's hard to tame.

But I am seeing so much personality that I just love and I am having so much fun watching the kids play together, seeing the sibling relationship form, and seeing Audrey growing and discovering.  Week over week I keep seeing changes, fears diminishing, language development, and learning.  It is so much fun to be this little girl's mom!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Quick life update

Ok, so I am very behind on posting so here's a very quick update on life lately.

After working at my job for nearly 7 years, I am now unemployed.  The local office closed June 14 and it was a pretty emotional closure for everyone.  Very strange to pack up and say goodbye to everyone I've worked with for so long.  Then I went to Atlanta for two weeks to help with the 2Q close and transition.  My parents watched the kids in St Louis the second week so when I was done, I flew there and met up with them.  I missed the kids after 2 weeks apart!  We spent a week at their lake house and then back home.  Whrilwind!

This is my first week of being a stay at home mom.  It's been eventful and fun and crazy and such a change of pace.  We're obviously adjusting to the big change.  So now we're just settling into our new routine.

Barrett is having surgery tomorrow.  So in the last 3 1/2 years, this is the fifth surgery our family has gone through (2 c-sections for me, tubes and palate repair for Audrey and now Barrett's).  Since he was born, he's had a clogged tear duct in his left eye. Fairly normal and usually goes away on its own, but Barrett's never did.  It waters a lot and gets gunky.  So we finally are getting it opened up.  It's a pretty quick procedure but the thought of Barrett going under anesthesia is just so scary.  So tired of taking my babies into the hospital for anesthesia and surgery!

So this is just a quick update on our lives lately!  Please send prayers tomorrow for Barrett!

Monday, June 3, 2013

My Little Van Goghs

Lately I've been feeling like the Pied Piper of the 3 and Under set.  Anywhere I go, I lead a parade.  So if I need to buy myself a few minutes to get dinner ready, the latest trick I've found is coloring.

One day I had to run out to the garage to grab something out of the refrigerator and left the kids in the kitchen coloring.  I was gone approximately 60 seconds.  This is what I came back to:

Purple marker makes good lipstick, apparently

Audrey thought the red went better with her complexion

Audrey was quite upset that I didn't give her my phone as I was taking this picture.  "Mine, Mine!" she was yelling.

Barrett's self portrait.  He was pretty funny.  He did this all unprompted and as I was looking at it, he said "Oh, I need to draw my belly."  So he drew the circle in the middle and added a belly button.  I think it's actually pretty good!  Tim is a good artist, so it'd be nice if Barrett got some of his skill. 

Uncanny resemblance!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Minnesota Weekend

I have been in a constant routine of work and being a mom so when my college roommate Michele suggested a girls weekend away, I responded enthusiastically!  We tried to find a reasonable trip down to Miami, Key West, Ft Meyers, etc but just couldn't find anything affordable or with decent flight times so decided instead to do a long weekend in Minneapolis the last weekend of April, where Michele lives.  It ended up being a blast!  I didn't take my camera so don't have many pictures to show for the weekend sadly.

I drove up on Wednesday.  I was alarmed when I still was seeing ice and snow on the hillsides on the way up.  The drive was pretty painful and I was starting to wish I'd flown but I ended up getting there around 6pm and we went to an awesome local Italian place for dinner. 

We slept in (you'll see that being the theme of the weekend!) and had a delicious homemade chocolate chip pancake breakfast.  Then we took a long walk around Lake Nokomis with Michele's dog Riley.  It was a little bit cold for me.  I thought I was used to the cold, living in Chicago, but I will definitely concede that the Minnesotans know a cold I don't.  Congrats to them?  The walk was around 3 miles and so after we showered and got ready, we headed to the Mall of America. 

I love shopping, so this was one of the things I wanted to do over our weekend and I'm glad Michele was up for it.  I bought:
Nordstrom Rack - a pair of Paige Jimmy Jimmy skinny boyfriend jeans, and two pairs of shoes

Marshalls - a pair of Ralph Lauren brown sandals and a little Lightning McQueen car for Barrett, since his was somehow lost at school a few months ago

Gap - a blue plaid button down for Tim ($12!), a pink gingham button down for Barrett, and a navy sweater with hot pink hearts for me (no pictures online)

Old Navy - a couple of the Tami style tanks

I had my eye on a pair of over-the-knee leather boots at Steve Madden but lucky Michele got the last pair.

We headed back to Michele's and had a quick dinner of tilapia, salad and rice before heading out to a comedy show in downtown Minneapolis.  Afterwards, we crossed the street and had a few cocktails at Crave.  I had a (ok, 2) very delicious Crave martinis (Stolichnaya Razberi, Chambord, pineapple, Domaine Chandon Brut).

It was a gorgeous day.  We were really lucky with the weather Friday and Saturday!  We had breakfast and headed to Stillwater.  It is a quaint little town on the St Croix River, bordering Wisconsin.  It reminded me a lot of a smaller St Charles, MO, with its old homes and little shops.  We ate lunch outside and had salads and I had a bloody mary.  I haven't had one of those in years but, hey, I was on vacation, right?  They served it with a little glass of beer.  Is this a MN thing?  I hadn't seen that before. 

We walked around for a while, shopped a bit, had some mint chocolate chip ice cream (they called it mint bon-bon in the great North apparently) and headed back into the cities.  We ended up on the northeast side of the city, at a little local brewery near Michele's friends house.  It was named Indeed and we tried a few different beers.  Some of Michele's friends came too and so did my friend Terese!  She and her husband used to live in our area but they moved up to the Twin Cities a few years ago.  It was great to see her again and catch up! 

What do you know, another beautiful day in Minnesota!  We slept in (I was feeling pretty rested at this point!) and walked around the lake to a little breakfast place.  Oh, was it good!  I had a BLT omelet and lots of coffee. 

Sufficiently caffienated, we drove to Minehaha Falls.  Let me tell you, everyone was outside that day.

We walked around that area for a little while and then ventured into Uptown, an eclectic city-feeling area, which reminded me a lot of the Wicker Park area of Chicago.  We did some sightseeing and walked down by Lake Calhoun before heading back to Michele's and then to her friend Sarah's for a cook out.  I, of course, had to try the local drink a Big Ginger, which I'd seen people drinking so we stopped to buy the ingredients and do some grocery shopping for the cookout.  It was delicious!  It's: 1 part Irish whiskey, 4 parts ginger ale, some lime and lemon wedges squeezed in and for garnish, served over ice.  I may have bought the ingredients to make these at home.  We had a good time with some of Michele's friends.  She has such a strong group of friends she's made up in MN and is so busy and active all the time! 

I was antsy to get on the road the next morning and get back to my beautiful babies, whom I missed tremendously!  I left around 8am and got him around 2:15pm.  I pulled into the driveway and a little towhead popped up in the front window with a smile and said "MOMMY!"  (no it wasn't Tim, though I think he had the same sentiment) 

Although I could never see myself living even further north than I already live, I started to understand what's appealing about living in Minneapolis.  The lakes are beautiful, there seems to be a lot of things to do, the homes are charming, the cost of living was reasonable, and it's a city without feeling too harsh and urban.  When the weather was nice on Friday and Saturday, everyone was out in droves.  So many walkers, joggers, bikers and people out and enjoying the day.  There was so much activity!  I know Michele says there's a lot of activity in the winter too (ice fishing, broomball, races, etc) and that you have to get involved with that kind of activity or you'd go crazy.  But I also learned about roof rakes and there was still a lot of snow and ice-covered lakes for being the last weekend of April, so that will likely deter me from moving there!

Tim did a great job taking care of the kids for those few days and I appreciated that I had the chance to get away for a long weekend and have some fun girl time.  I had so much fun for the weekend and was glad to have a nice getaway, but there's no place like home, with my family of course! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

And just one more...

This morning

Barrett: "I don't want to go to school today.  I want to go to work with you."
me:  "You wouldn't like Mommy's work.  There's no playground and no friends and no books.  It's not very much fun.  Why would you want to go to work?"
Barrett: "I just want to be with you, Mommy," wrapping his arms around my legs and kissing them. 


This is age 3.  A roller coaster of independence and snarly faces and backtalk and deliberately knocking glasses of milk off the table and throwing trains and cuddles and laughter and sweet kisses and sweet words and "I love you so much"s and discovery and joy.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Latest Barrett-isms

Having a 3 year old is a source of never-ending frustration and fun.  3 is definitely challenging but I will say, Barrett makes me laugh every single day.  He's so sharp, aware, and funny.  Here are the latest Barrett-isms:

B was quite interested in two dogs at his grandparents' house and kept wanting to see them and know what they were up to.
Barrett, to me: "What are the dogs' names?"
me:  "I don't know. Why don't you ask?"
Barrett:  "Maybe they don't talk"

Barrett is obsessed with his blue blanket.  He carries it constantly around the house, snuggling it and chewing on it all the time.
Daddy:  "No taking blankie into the grocery store.  You need to leave it here in the car."
Barrett:  "Okay.  I chew it really quick."
proceeds to nibble on it for a few seconds.  Then sets it aside.
Barret:  "Okay.  All done" and was ready to go.

I asked Audrey a question tonight, in the usual sing-song way of talking to an infant without expecting an answer.  Barrett decided to set me straight.
Barrett:  "Audrey doesn't talk."
me: " Well, Audrey  will talk soon!  What do you think she'll say when she will be able to talk?"
Barrett:  "'Give me back my toys.'"
Yes.  Probably.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Audrey - 16 months (nearly)

One of my nicknames for Audrey is SnuggleBug and that pretty much sums up how she is these days.  So snuggly!!!  I love it.  She lays her head in the hollow of my neck and shoulder and puts her arms around me and I just melt with the sweetness of it.  She wears my arms and back out on the weekends, because she loves me to carry her as much as possible.  She gets upset when I set her down and she still prefers her mama over anyone else.  No complaints from me!

Her latest lovebug move?  When you ask for a kiss she'll lean her head into you so you can give her one.  Awww!  I also heard from her teacher at school that when the other boys and girls are upset, she tried to calm them down.  Apparently she goes to get their toys or pacifiers and hands them to them.  Last night Barrett was wailing in time-out, which he was placed in because he pushed her.  She picked up his blanket and shuffled down the hall to take it to him. 

Also, we handed her a baby doll two weeks ago and she took that little doll, pulled it to her chest and gave it the sweetest little hug.  She's definitely a little girl!  She now likes to put the doll into a stroller and walk it around the house.  She's very interested in putting its pacifier in and taking it out. 

She says a few words regularly:  mama and uh-oh.  Some words she says infrequently:  hi, daddy (ah-ee), and more (muh).  I haven't picked up on any others yet. 

I know she's starting to understand what we're saying pretty well, since she's starting to follow some simple commands.  Like leaning in for a kiss or if I ask her to get a book, she'll go pick one out.  She lets me know what she wants by pointing and if I offer her something she doesn't want, she'll shake head head furiously or push it away.  So even though she's still not speaking a lot, her non-verbal communication is strong.

Favorite books:  Audrey's obsessed with Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  She and the speech therapist read this book weekly and so now she's obsessed with our book at home.  Whenever I try to read other books to her at bedtime, she rips them out of my hands and shoves Brown Bear in.  She does like the lift-the-flap books we have too. 

Favorite toys:  she always likes to walk around with a toy in her hand - lately it's either her little yellow duck or one of our bath books.  She takes this to daycare, in the car, to bed. 

I'll say one thing about my kids - they're obsessive.

Favorite foods:  Audrey's still on a restricted diet but that ends this week - hooray!  I am so ready to be done with this.  Making all these extra meals has been a huge pain.  She still eats pretty well but the drinking has been difficult.  She's never been too enthusiastic about drinking, starting from the bottles at the very beginning and continuing to valveless sippy cups or open top cups.  But in the last two weeks, she pretty much decided she wasn't drinking at.all.  We push and push the liquids but she still doesn't drink much.  I don't know what the deal is but it drives me crazy!

Size:  She wears size 3 diapers and is in size 12-18 month clothes.  She still wears 12 month pajamas but there isn't much additional room and I plan to move her to the 18 month now (although they seem so big!).  She is 18lbs, 10oz.  She's around the 2nd percentile for weight and I think around the 4th percentile for height.  She's only gained four ounces since her pre-op appointment six weeks ago and her height is just a tad bit more.  I'm not surprised but that was a bit of a bummer.  The first few weeks after her surgery, she lost her belly.  It's back now, but she had a lot to overcome.  I hope that she'll grow now that she can be back on her regular food again.

I think she's already figuring out how much fun it is to push her brother's buttons.  She like to grab his toys and tease him.  I don't feel too sorry for him because he instigates plenty with her too.  I think now that she's so much more active, he sees her as more of a peer so he is a little more rough-and-tumble with her than I'd like.  She usually likes it and just smiles and laughs when he's pushing her around or climbing on her but sometimes it erupts into tears.  I have to watch very closely.  Barrett definitely sees her as competition now for our attention.  He mimics all the things she does and of course the things she plays with are suddenly what he needs to play with.   

Snatching a toy from big brother and running!
I couldn't have imagined such a sweet little girl in our lives.  Everyone who knows her is head over heels in love with her.  She's so sweet, so playful and so loving!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Latest Barrett-isms

Barrett is a never-ending source of laughter these days.  Some of the latest things he's said to make us laugh...

Tonight on the way home from school:
me: "I see you didn't eat lunch today!  Why not?"
Barrett:  "I didn't like it.  I didn't like it, I didn't like the pizza, I don't like pizza bagels, I didn't like the fruit, I don't like yellow fruit, I didn't like it, I didn't like the fruit, I didn't like it... I like ice cream.  I like ice cream and candy."
oh. Okay then.

Barrett is obsessed with getting bigger and tall (like Daddy/like Mommy).  Some of the funny things he's said about that:
Barrett:  "When I grow big and tall like the sky, I won't fit in Mommy's car."

Barrett and Audrey were splashing in the tub, giggling and having fun. 
Barrett to me:  "When you get littler, you can get in the bath with us and play too."
Sorry, kid, it doesn't work that way.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Audrey's Cleft Palate Repair in Pictures

We are nearly 4 weeks out from her surgery now, and Audrey is healing like a champ.  I felt like I'd been holding my breath for the last few months in nervous anticipation of this surgery and now I can finally let it out and feel like the worst is over. 

Pre-surgery, trying to keep Audrey happy despite the early morning wake up
The Versed was kicking in!

I look back at these pictures and I want to cry over the images of my sweet baby girl. Seeing these brings back such awful memories of holding her in the recovery room as tight as I could and wishing I could take away her pain. It was such a terrible few days in the hospital and the first days at home. But she was such a strong little cookie and she is past it now.

Sad little girl

Fortunately those days went quickly and Audrey recovered amazingly.  Despite the splints, despite the food restrictions, she adjusted so well.  So proud of our sweet little girl!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our experiences with Cleft Palate repair

I did a ton of searches on the internet over the last year to read other peoples experiences with their child's cleft palate and the repair.  I found a lot of different information all over the place.  I wanted to jot down a few of my experiences with Audrey's cleft palate repair as a reference for others who may be readying to go through the same thing.

-Wear dark clothing the entire time.  I had heard this and wore a black tee and sweatshirt the day of surgery, but hadn't planned to need to wear dark colors the 2nd day onward.  But I definitely needed to, so wore the same tee the entire time at the hospital.  Even on day 6 post-op, she still drools blood during her sleep, so dark bedding and clothing would be good to have to reduce stains.

-We've always put Audrey to sleep with this seahorse and she seemed to like it so we sent it back with her during the surgery.  Well apparently it was a great decision because it was the first thing she reached for as she was waking up and she has wanted it played continuously for the days after her surgery.  It has had such a calming effect on her.  Now when we go into her room in the morning, the first thing she wants us to do it turn it on and carry it downstairs with us.  So if your child has a favorite toy or lullaby item, send it to surgery with him or her and hopefully it'll have the same effect ours did.  We did take some other familiar toys and books to the hospital, which she played with very briefly.  She just wasn't in the mood and really just wanted to be soothed the entire time.

-Audrey has to wear her no-nos (arms restraints) for three weeks.  Different doctors have different time frames.  I discovered in the hospital that having colorful covers for the no-nos is nice - we were given some at the hospital that had been tie-dyed.  Apparently a family of a daughter who'd been a long-term patient at the hospital dyes men's socks to give to patients for these covers and it's been really nice.  I'm thinking of buying some and dying them myself - they'd be pink of course!

-a handheld blender will be your best friend.  I bought this one at Costco (for $20!) a few weeks beforehand and am so glad I did.  I have used it for everything so far and it's way easier than lugging out my food processor constantly.  I'm wondering how on earth I made baby food without one of these for so long.

Like I mentioned previously, Audrey is on a puree/liquid diet only for three weeks and then soft-foods only for an additional three weeks (again, different timeframes from different doctors appears to be common).  Her weight and feeding has always been such an issue for us so I'm really trying to think of foods that she likes but can be easily eaten now.

Foods I've been feeding Audrey:
-infant oatmeal mixed with milk
-ice cream
-chobani yogurt
-regular full-fat yogurt blended with fruit
-pureed soups
-mashed up bananas and avocados softened with milk
-refried beans, mixed with milk
-puree of sweet potato/chicken/grapes
-mashed potatoes, thinned with milk
-pureed fruits, vegetables, prunes

What I didn't know
- the breath.  Oh my goodness, her breath.  I didn't know that her breath would be so bad after the surgery.  I know this can happen with an infection, but really her breath has been this bad from the very beginning.  It's a sign of how much I love her that I'll still kiss her and cuddle her cheek-to-cheek when her breath is as rank as it is now. 

-the clinginess.  Audrey's always been a mama's girl, but she has been so needy and clingy lately.  There are very few times throughout the day where she'll be content without me there.  I see glimpses of her usual self occasionally, but in general, she's just been very clingy and mopey

-the bleeding.   Like I said above, she still drools blood in her sleep, so I'm washing sheets every day.  It's getting more and more diluted, so I think it will hopefully be coming to an end soon

Every day Audrey is getting better and better.  I think every child and every repair is so different.  I was expecting two weeks of up-all-nights, crying, etc but her sleep was back to normal when we came back home.  We did wake her up to give her tylenol for the first 4 days or so to keep our timetable of giving her pain meds every 6 hours consistent.  But her sleep was fine.  Maybe because her cleft was primarily in the soft palate, but our experience seems to be much better than others have been.  We feel very fortunate so far and are so happy to have this behind us right now. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Palate Surgery

On Wednesday, February 13, Audrey underwent her palate repair surgery.  It was a day that I'd been both anxiously anticipating and dreading for the last 14 months.  I couldn't believe it was finally here.  I was so nervous leading up to it.  I knew that she'd be in a tremendous amount of pain that I wouldn't be able to fix and seeing your child in pain is every mother's worst nightmare.  Anytime I'd start to think about it or talk about it with her doctors or schedulers, I started to tear up. 

We arrived at the hospital around 6am.  Audrey awoke when we moved her from her crib into her carseat that morning, but was her usual calm self despite the early wake up and lack of food.  We waited at the hospital and I kept her happy by swaying with her and singing.  She of course wouldn't let anyone else hold her.  The nurse asked how the handoff would be and I said "awful" so we gave her medicine to calm her down and make her drowsy before the surgery.  I think it was Versed.  This made her totally loopy, silly and drowsy so it did its job.  She definitely didn't mind being handed to the anesthesiologist around 7:50am thanks to the medicine.  It made it easier for us too, that she wasn't crying, scared or upset to leave us. 

Tim and I waited anxiously in the waiting room.  It was a pretty nice set up at the hospital, with comfortable chairs and a television to give you regular updates on your family member's status.  Tim got breakfast and we continued to wait.  Around 8:30 the ENT came out, told me Audrey did well with the anesthesia and her ear tubes were fine and wouldn't need to be replaced and that the plastic surgeon was getting started.  The plastic surgeon came out around 9:40 and said Audrey was done and everything went smoothly.  We were fortunate that most of the cleft was located in the soft palate.  It was a teardrop shaped cleft, with just a little in the hard palate and most in the soft palate (the back of the mouth).  Surgeries in the hard palate are more difficult and the recovery is much worse.

A little later, they called me back into the recovery room to see her. Only one parent was allowed into Recovery.  That part was awful.  She was loudly crying, squirming, unhappy and out of it.  I grabbed her from the nurses, and tightly held her and swayed and rocked her.  She eventually calmed down.  Apparently as soon as she came out of anesthesia, she was grabbing for her lullaby seahorse we'd sent back with her.  It seemed to really help calm her down and I played that continuously for her.  She had blood smeared on her nose and mouth, was swollen, had her arms in splints and was so unhappy.  I tried to keep it together but couldn't help but cry while holding my sad, pained little girl.

Eventually she calmed down enough to drink a cup of apple juice/water.  She would calm down and then cry again so we eventually gave her morphine also.  After about an hour, the nurses wheeled us up to her room and Tim joined us. 

The rest of the day was pretty awful.  Tim and I alternated rocking Audrey in the (totally uncomfortable) chair in her room.  She was doped up on morphine and tylenol so woke up every few hours for about 20 minutes or so.  We continued to offer drinks but she refused to drink anything.  Tim slept in the fold out couch while I slept with Audrey in the hospital bed.  It was pretty restless sleep, with the nurses in and out and Audrey squirming on me but at least she seemed pretty sedated and wasn't too fussy.

I had hoped the next morning would bring a drastic turnaround but we still didn't see it.  The nurse turned her IV off around 9:30 and said that she would feel the effects in about 2 hours and be interested in drinking then.  We couldn't go home until she drank about 2oz/hour so we were anxiously offering her water, apple juice, milk, applesauce, popiscles all day.  It wasn't until around 3pm that she finally took her first sips of water.  Hooray!  I knew she was still in pain and confused but was thrilled she was finally expressing some interest in drinking.  We got our first smile when we took her into the Ronald McDonald play room and stood her at the music table.  It was a quick, tentative smile but she seemed to relax for just a moment.

We were able to leave the hospital around 5pm.  She seemed relieved to be in her carseat and I think she knew she was headed home.  That afternoon, she had begun playing with her tongue, running it over her mouth and lips.  She could tell things were different.  She was still very swollen and incredibly pale but was starting to be interested in playing for a few minutes here and there.

Now, we are on day 3 post-operation and Audrey is gradually returning to herself.  She seems to be getting used to the arm restraints we have to keep on her at all times, so she can't put her hands in her mouth.  This makes it hard to walk and to play, but she's adapting.  She is interested in drinking milk and water.  Food is still a struggle, as she is still relatively reluctant to eat.  I've given her a variety of foods including baby oatmeal, mashed banana mixed with milk, yogurt, applesauce, ice cream, pureed sweet potatoes/chicken/grapes, and pureed chicken chili that we ate for dinner last night.  Some foods have been more successful than others, but she's only eating a little at a time, so her appetite still seems very low.  I hope that it picks up soon. 

For the first three weeks, she's allowed to eat only purees and liquids.  For the second three weeks, she's allowed to begin eating soft  foods - macaroni and cheese, soggy cereals.  Nothing crunchy or hard.  She's to keep her arms in restraints for three weeks. 

Seeing your child go through this amount of pain and misery has been awful.  But her recovery has exceeded my expectations so far.  I had no idea what to expect since every child is so different, and I have heard worst case scenarios, of hourly wake ups all night, nonstop tears and fussiness, weeks of recovery.  We have been blessed so far that Audrey seems to be healing so well.  I know we have a long way to go, but she has been doing so well.  The first day was definitely awful but she's continuing to improve.  She is definitely still pretty subdued and has cranky spells.  Plus she wants to be held by me constantly and is tough to make her smile, reluctant to play and very somber. But I think her recovery has been great so far. 

Another reason we feel so blessed is by all the love and support we've received.  Our friends and family have given us so much encouragement, prayers and good wishes as we've gone through this with our sweet baby.  It's been so encouraging to know how many people support us and love our little girl. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

When it rains, it pours, eh?

So I've been noticeably absent from the blogging world for the last few months.  There were some issues with blogger where I couldn't upload photos.  Also, November - January were crazy for me both at work and at home.  I had crazy hours at work, planned a birthday party for Barrett and Audrey, traveled for Thanksgiving and Christmas and battled multiple round of illnesses for our poor family, including ear infections, strep throat, colds, and coughs.


January is my busiest time at work and I was routinely working 14 hour days and weekends for a while. At the end of January, I was supposed to be able to enjoy a little reprieve before the stress of Audrey's mid-February surgery began, but that was not to be.  It started with an ache in my tooth last Monday afternoon but turned into intense pain by Tuesday morning.  Visits to the dentist and endodontist resulted in a repeat root canal, a few rounds of antibiotics, nights of vicodin, days and nights of intense pain (probably worse than my c-section), and now a super-swollen face.  Apparently it's a tooth infection, which was probably lying dormant for a while and was triggered to flare up by the previous week's cold.  So all the infection was trapped in the root of my tooth area and swelling against the bone, causing this tremendous pain.  Ouch!  The pain decreased this past Monday morning, but I awoke to a puffed-up face, as the infection found its way out, courtesy of my cheeks.  Charming, huh?

Fortunately I'm now on the mend and I'm trying to get my life back on track and part of that resolution is to get back to my little blog.  I really enjoy documenting our lives.  This time is just flying back and taking the opportunity to document it helps me to remember each stage later on.  I always find myself looking back at old posts.  As I'm getting older, my memory is getting worse, so I can barely remember yesterday, let alone 2 years ago! 

We have a crazy week ahead next week with Audrey's surgery.  I'll post more about that and what else is going on with the family in the next few days as I have time.  Hoping I can be more diligent about keeping up with our family's adventures this year!