Thank you for visiting my blog! If you are visiting because you have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss, let me say that I am so very sorry. I started this blog shortly after our Baby Grady was stillborn on November 12, 2008. Please visit the sidebar below called "Labels" to find the topic in which you are interested, or just read as your heart desires.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tidbits from T

**So glad today is Saturday. And I'm even more glad that we are expecting beautiful weather. Sunny and 60 degrees! I plan to get myself and all the kids outside today for some Vitamin D! Maybe I'll attempt to wash my van. Not sure yet. But I definitely want to open the windows when it is warmer and let in some fresh air!

**Gib and I had a date (sort of) last night. We went to a couples baby shower for some friends of ours. It was lots of fun to hang out and just be out together without the kids. Except I didn't see my hubby much as I mainly hung around the fondue table, eating, drinking and socializing. Good times!

And for the record, just one more time, I would totally have another baby if my body and husband would allow it. I love all things baby! But it's just not gonna happen.

**I'm regretting the fact that the physical therapist suggested we blow up our exercise ball for some of Matthew's therapy. My girls constantly fight over whose turn it is.

**I have lots of errands that I need to run today, but I'm choosing not to. I really just want to be home with the kids and not so busy, especially after the busy week we had.

**I ran across a blog yesterday whose baby was born without a heartbeat, but they revived him and he lived for 9 days. They concluded that he laid on his cord. Exactly the same speculation as Grady. I can't get that family off my mind, and I can't help but wonder what would have happened if I had gone to the hospital sooner. It wasn't meant to be. My heart breaks for them.

**I've really enjoyed some of the new shows on Oprah's new OWN television channel. My faves so far are Enough Already with Peter Walsh and Behind the Scenes, Season 25. I watched an episode of Enough Already this morning and the woman reminded me a lot of myself. She had suffered a lot of death/loss in her life, too. Except I don't have the amount of clutter she did. But I will admit that every time I have to throw away something that my girls make, it creates tension inside of me. I know I have to get rid of things and can't keep everything, but I have to MAKE myself do it. Otherwise I'll end up on one of those shows. However, I would love for a professional to help me organize!

The point I was trying to make, before I got sidetracked, was that I love reality TV. The Biggest Loser is probably my all-time fave.

**My family room looks like baby central, and honestly, I love it. There's a swing, exercauser, activity gym, bouncy seat, another activity mat and random toys. I clearly remember a time when I longed for these items to fill my house, but instead it was the same as it was before, with no evidence of a baby being born anywhere except in my grieving heart. I'll take this clutter any day!

**I enjoy my pajamas way too much. If we don't have something planned, I often stay in them most of the day, which I know makes me less productive. It might sound crazy, but if I shower and get dressed early, I am more productive. I said at the beginning of the year that I was going to be better about this, but it hasn't happened yet. Just like exercising hasn't happened yet. It's all about choices, and I haven't been making the right ones in these areas. *SIGH*

**I reactivated my Facebook account and found an old friend that I grew up with. It has been so nice to reconnect with her and find out how she and her family are doing. She is one of four other friends who share my same birthday, September 10th. Only one of the others was born the same year as me. Pretty cool to personally know that many people born the same day!

**Speaking of being productive, its noon and I need to get busy doing something. I made breakfast but need to do the dishes and start some laundry.

Here's to another relaxed, ordinary day at home with the fam!

Love,
Tonya

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Appointments and Teeth

This has been the week of appointments for sure!

Tuesday, Matthew had his first official physical therapy appointment. It went really well. Unfortunately, it was not the same one who did his evaluation, so she was not able to see the improvement he had made on his own since our last visit. I really like this lady, though. She's very good, sweet and gentle with him. She commented on how happy he was and how much he smiled. She said that she could "see pure joy on his face". Yes. That's what he brings me every day.

PURE JOY!

He wants nothing to do with the reclining position anywhere (which makes me very sad because we/I have loved the bouncy seat!). It's all about trying to sit up these days, and he's getting a little better with tummy time. In fact, he stayed on his tummy the longest he ever has during therapy. They had the coolest Playskool bee that he absolutely loved. I was ready to go buy one for him until she told me they were really old. Oh well. If I were more knowledgeable about ebay, I might try there, but it just overwhelms me!

I wish I had gotten a picture of him on his tummy with the bee, but this is the only one I got this week. Tummy picture next week for sure!


Yesterday was Matthew's big day of appointments. Thankfully, Gib decided at the last minute to go with me. The weather started out terrible. It was so nice to have an extra set of hands and a chauffeur to drop us off and pick us up at the front door. Thanks BeBe!

First was his appointment with the pediatric surgeon. I REALLY liked this doctor. He had an excellent bedside manner, but we did not get the news we were hoping for. Our Little Bear must have surgery. Instead of having a hydrocele like we thought, the doctor called it a hernia. His intestine has not fallen into his sac, but there is a definite opening that did not close between his abdomen and scrotal sac. It starts out small in the morning and gets larger as the day progresses. This is a sure sign that there is fluid communicating between his abdomen and his sac. He said it didn't feel like a simple hydrocele where the fluid is contained, and that it will not close on its own. The doctor went into a long explanation, but the gist of it is that prolonging the surgery could impair the development of his testicle on that side. So, we are going to try to schedule surgery in April during the week of spring break. He goes back to the cardiologist in March for another echo to check on the hole in his heart. The doctor said the anesthesiologist would want an echo before surgery and that it was fine to wait until then. I'm not excited but am thankful that it is a common surgery and will be done as outpatient. I will certainly be asking for prayers as the time gets closer!

I was amazed that we were in and out of the surgeon's office within an hour! Fortunately, the neurologist (who is across the street) was able to see us early, so off we went.

Matthew had a very good visit and got a great report from the neurologist. However, Mommy did not have such a good time. I don't like change, and I don't embrace it well, even though I know it's a part of life. I was expecting Dr. S., Mr. Personality himself to come in, but instead walked a tall blond woman who was the PA. There is absolutely nothing wrong with PA's, but we did not schedule our appointment with her, and I did not want to see her. Especially since Dr. S was there. I did not hide my surprise well and actually was very rude to the woman when she walked in. She was very nice, but I still don't know how we ended up with her. And I did apologize for being rude. But even when I was checking out, the receptionist looked puzzled and scheduled his next visit with Dr. S. Part of the reason I was disappointed was because I wanted him to see how Matthew had improved. Oh well. Maybe Matthew will blow his socks off when we go back in 4 months.

Yep, 4 months!

If you remember from Matthew's 6 month check up, I was concerned about his head circumference. They measured his head at the neurologists office and plotted it on their growth chart. I voiced my concern to the PA, and she showed me the curve and where Matthew plotted. He is following the curve almost spot-on which is exactly what we want. This put my mind at ease.

Matthew has a few small flat spots on his head that I'm a little concerned about. Emphasis on the word *little*. He likes to sleep in certain positions and often falls asleep in his car seat on the way home from taking the girls to school. I leave him in the car seat on the floor of his room and he takes the best nap! Anyhoo, I wanted her to look at these areas. She said she could see what I was talking about and that it didn't concern her right now. But then she said we could do a "banding screen" at the children's hospital to screen him for potential problems, etc. I politely declined a test that isn't absolutely necessary right now. I truly think once Matthew learns to sit up, it will help tremendously. It will also help when he learns to roll over and sleep on his tummy. I can't wait to see him curled up in a little ball with his bottom in the air...

We were home by noon yesterday and our second appointment wasn't supposed to start until 11:40. Woo-hoo! Gib worked on school work, Matthew napped, I messed around on the computer and enjoyed connecting with a childhood friend on facebook (yes, I reactivated my account last weekend), and enjoyed some snuggle time with my Little Bear when he got up from his nap.


Today I took Matthew to get his 6 month shots that I delayed from last week. He cried, of course, but recovered nicely and was smiling again in no time. Fortunately, with the exception of physical therapy next week, we don't have any more scheduled appointments in our near future.

--------------------

Quickly onto another topic...teeth.

Jessica lost her last baby tooth last night! I can't believe it! She is done with baby teeth forever. It really does make me sad that she's growing so fast. This means that she will definitely be getting her braces in May. Oh me. Good times. I guess. She's excited, but I know from experience that the excitement wears off very quickly!

And Matthew is cutting his second tooth already! I noticed it night before last while bathing him and dug my fingers in to get a better look today. I can't wait to see two pearly whites shining below when he flashes his handsome smile, which is like, all the time!

That's all for now.

Love,
Tonya

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Double Dog Dare-A-Thon

Saturday night, the middle and high school ministries of our church hosted the annual Double Dog Dare Marathon. From 8-10pm, they issued a new dare every 10 minutes for the students to complete. The winner of each dare would be awarded a prize the next morning at church.

Jessica invited two friends with the same name, Sidney and Sydney, to share in the fun. However, Sidney with the "i" (featured on my blog many times before) wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it. We sure did miss her!

Apparently, the girls had a little photo shoot of their own before the dares started rolling in.

I do LOVE these two! Could eat 'em up!!!


Jessica and Sydney.


I think they are trying to be models...oh me!



Here are the dares as best as I can remember:

Dare: Build the biggest fort you can. Not that big definitely fun making it!


Dare: Make a sundae on someone's face using ingredients of your choice. We didn't have ice cream, so we used mayonaise and chocolate frosting topped with sprinkles, black eyed peas and icing. The X across Jessica's face stands for Xtreme, which is what the middle school program at church is called.



Dare: Dress up in a costume. I was putting Matthew to bed for this dare, so I'm sure I don't have it 100% correct. Jessica had all sorts of different clothes on, starting with a dress she wore years ago to a Daddy-Daughter dance.



Dare: Cover yourself up to your head in something, inside or outside. (The winner covered himself in wood.)


Dare: Put as many spices in your mouth as you can at one time. Spice labels must be in the picture. We took these spices and put a little of each on a spoon and dumped them on Jessica's tongue. I thought this was a lot, but a friend of ours son won with 37 spices! The pictures that follow tell what it tasted like...




Dare: Make a mummy out of duct tape. We had to borrow some duct tape from our neighbor. Gib was nice to Sydney and didn't wrap her too much. If it had been Jessica, I have a feeling she would have been COVERED! We did have to help her stand up and make sure she didn't fall and hurt herself. She was able to waddle like a penguin which was cute!



Dare: Paint your face like a superhero or villain. We chose the Joker. JESSICA WON FOR THIS! She won out of the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. She got a gift card to a yogurt place that looks pretty cool. Can't wait to visit and use it! She plans to take Sydney with her to celebrate.



Dare: Build the tallest tower you can out of whatever you wish. We couldn't think of much, so I suggested putting it on top of some chairs.


Dare: Blow up and attach as many balloons as you can to someone.


Jessica couldn't move. She had 63 balloons pinned to her! We counted as we popped them in the picture below.





Dare: Do something that makes you laugh. Well these girls couldn't think of much, except for the fact that every time they stare at each other, they laugh...


The girls participated in every dare except one. It was to put as many clothes pins on someone's face as you can. OUCH! We only had a few, so we knew they wouldn't win. Gave them a little break to rest.

Lots of fun and looking forward to it again next year!

Love,
Tonya

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Touched By A Text

I have a lot of friends who are pregnant or who have recently had babies. I have friends in all different age groups, but I honestly never thought I would be 38 and have this many friends still having babies, let alone have a six month old myself!!! I had my first when I was 26. My plan was to have four children, each three years apart, which would have meant I would be finished having babies at 35. Well, we all know the best way to make God laugh is to make a plan of your own.

That's not the point of this post...

One of my good friends had a baby just a little over a week ago. I saw her and her beautiful baby girl at church this morning. I am so happy for this sweet friend. This is not her first child or marriage, but she has finally found true love and happiness in a wonderful Godly man, and she deserves every bit of it!

I received a text three texts back-to-back from her today. The following is what I read...

"I want to tell you that I held [baby girl's name] today and just cried for you. I cannot imagine how empty your arms felt. I don't mean to bring this up to cause you to cry but to honestly be able to tell you how sorry I am that God had that in His plan for your life. I know that His will and plans are always perfect but that doesn't mean that we always like the road He takes us on. You are an amazing and strong woman to endure what you have and I admire you and your never ending faith in Him."

This meant
so, so much to me. Two years after Grady went to heaven, she is still thinking about me and my empty arms and what it must have been like.

I wish I could say that I don't remember, but I remember all too well...

I remember the gut-wrenching realization that he wasn't moving anymore and wasn't going to move again.

I remember the words of Dr. Joe,
"I don't see a heartbeat either," confirming what I saw on the ultrasound screen.

I remember not knowing how in the world I was going to give birth to a dead baby.

I remember not knowing how in the world we were going to tell the girls their baby brother had died,
inside of me. That just wasn't supposed to happen.

I remember how deafening the silence was in the c-section room when he was born and there were no cries...only sniffles of those in the room.

I remember seeing Grady for the first time, knowing he was dead but still warm from my body, looking like he was sleeping like a newborn might be.

I remember asking him what happened and why he had to go.

I remember spending two days with him, holding him on my chest and in my arms.

I remember kissing him goodbye, placing him in the basket and handing him over to the funeral director.

I remember crying myself to sleep in the rocker in the nursery, wishing to have him back on my chest to feel the weight of him safe at home and not just in a cold hospital room.

I remember the suffocating feeling of not being able to breathe deeply because my heart was so broken.

I remember waking up each morning and thinking,
"No. Not another day to live through this hell."

I remember how it took me three hours just to get dressed because I was so depressed.

I remember how badly it irritated me when people would say
"Well, you look good." What was I supposed to say in return? Thanks. My baby died. I'm not eating because I feel like I'm going to throw up all the time and I've lost 30 pounds in two weeks.

Oh, I remember every second of it. And it lives within me every day.

I'm so very glad that my friend didn't keep her thoughts and feelings to herself. It meant so much to me that she thought of me and Grady and let me know. Too often, people want to say things but are afraid of making that person cry or making them sad. Yes, I got very teary eyed when I read her text. But I was touched beyond belief. The tears are always there. They just surface more easily depending on the situation or circumstance.

I love the poem on my left side bar called
Remembering by Elizabeth Dent. If you've never read it, take a minute to before you leave my blog.

And I don't know if this particular friend reads my blog regularly or at all, but if you do...

Thank you! I love you and am so happy for you!

Love,
Tonya

Friday, January 21, 2011

Honesty and Thankfulness

If I'm honest, there are times that I struggle with Matthew's health issues. Not just on the level of worry. It goes much deeper. I fall into the pit of gloom and doom and fear and doubt. The thought of possible surgery. The thought of him being teased if he has lingering evidence of his cerebral palsy. The thought of something else happening to him or the girls. The questions of "Why?" and "What if?" freely abound.

But just when I start to really wallow in my pit, I'm brought back to the realization of how
good things really are. I'm reminded of how blessed we are and how much we truly have to be thankful for.

Let me share a few things that I try to reflect on and give thanks for...

My husband and children love me. Just like in any relationship, I don't
"feel the love" 100% of the time, and I bet they don't either (even though I try hard for them to!). But I know they love me. And I know they would be lost without me, as I would be without them. There are LOTS of hugs and kisses that pass between the five of us here on earth and lots of love sent to heaven for Grady every day. Words cannot express the love and thankfulness that I feel for each one of them.

I am SO thankful for Gib, Jessica, Emma Grace, Grady and Matthew. I'm thankful for God's blessings on, of and through my family!

My husband has a job. Not only does he
have a job, but it's a job that allows me to stay home with our children. Granted we make sacrifices and don't have much extra, but it's all worth it. I don't have nice clothes. We don't have a fancy house. We don't spend freely on "stuff". Most everything we buy is purchased with much thought beforehand, waiting for items to go on sale and/or using coupons when possible. I feel guilty (and I know Gib does too) at times when I can't buy Jessica and Emma Grace the things they want. Not to spoil them, but to give them some of the things their friends have so they don't feel "left out". For instance, Jessica is the only one of her friends who doesn't have a NorthFace jacket. She desperately wants one, but she will have to wait. She talks about it, but she is also learning some great lessons about needs versus wants. I often remind myself and them that we have what we need and that's what really matters. And when we save the money to get the things we want, we appreciate them so much more.

I'm thankful for Gib's job, that he goes to work everyday and the fact that God provides for our needs.

For the most part, we are all healthy. And for that,
I'm so very thankful!

I clearly remember writing this post on Grady's 6 month birthday. This year, I have a living baby to write a post about and actually tell what he's doing instead of just speculating what a 6 month old might be doing.

I'm so thankful for the gift and blessing of Matthew's life. In no way does he replace Grady, but he has brought much healing to each one of us.

When I start to think about the issues Matthew has had and continues to face, I'm reminded of how blessed we are. His brain bleed was only on one side and wasn't severe. His cerebral palsy is mild; it could be so much worse. His porencephaly didn't cause any of the horrible side effects that I read about (other than the mild cerebral palsy). Because the hole in his heart is so small, it will not require surgery even if it is not closed in March when we have it rechecked. And if he does need surgery on his hydrocele, it will be done as an outpatient and should be a simple procedure. Even though the thought of anesthesia and my baby being cut on isn't appealing and is actually very scary, it could be so much worse.

For this, I'm so thankful.

I could make a list of the other things that I'm thankful for on a daily basis that often get missed and taken for granted. Some might include my warm bed and house, our food, my morning coffee with hazelnut creamer (*wink*), my hair dryer and flat iron (another *wink*), technology that makes it possible for me to link up with all of you, our car & van which we readily hop into to get from point a to point b, the clothes on my back, running water, electricity, etc. These are things that often don't get a second thought by myself and probably many of you. But the truth is that there are plenty of people who don't have these things.

I'm so thankful for the pleasantries of life that make it simple and more enjoyable.

And last, but
most important of all, I'm so thankful for my God who loves me/us unconditionally. Who sent His son as my Savior. Who promises to never leave me or forsake me. Who walks beside me and has carried me when I couldn't carry myself. And I'm so thankful for the promise and hope of heaven.

It is important to remind myself of these things,
and more, when I start to dwell on the negative in my life. The good definitely outweighs the bad, but for some reason, in odd ways, the bad carries more weight than the good. (That doesn't make sense, but I can't think of another way to put it!) The bad automatically overshadows the good. I have to clear the bad from my brain to make room for the good to shine through. I have to be very intentional about this, and when I do, it lifts my spirits and gives me new perspective, hope and energy to keep trucking along. You should try it, too!

Love,
Tonya

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tidbits from T

***I'm a bit flighty in my daily life these days and apparently in my posts, too. I have several started but not finished. And when I sit to blog, I don't seem to want to go back and finish them. I start one task at home and then find myself working on something else just a moment later, forgetting what I originally set out to do.

Hmmmm. Not sure what's going on with me...

***I received a phone call yesterday from the incredibly sweet family member who gave me this laptop that I'm currently typing on. Guess what? She has a camera that she and her husband don't use anymore. And guess what else? She's giving it to me! I feel terrible taking yet another very nice item from her, but she insisted. I feel absolutely completely blessed by this gift. She is essentially giving me the "gift of time"...the gift of capturing these times with my family and this time that Matthew is a baby. Thank you! And thank you again to Nicole for letting me borrow her old one in the mean time!

***If breast milk wasn't supposed to be so good for babies, I would stop pumping. And I'm seriously considering dropping the middle of the night pumping session. But when I entertain the idea, guilt creeps deep into my heart. And I know that without that middle of the night pumping, my milk supply will suffer greatly. Just not sure I'm 100% ready to take that chance...

***I'm dreading next week already, and it's not even the end of this week! Matthew has physical therapy next Tuesday morning, a surgical consult and neurology appointment on Wednesday morning, and his 6 month shots on Thursday morning. Wednesday will be the hardest day because the appointments are the earliest and farthest away from our home. I decided to keep them both in the same day, though, so I don't have to make two trips down there.

***I feel like I haven't talked about the girls much on my blog and that it's all about Matthew. That's because, fortunately, not much has been going on with the girls. That's a good thing in my opinion!

***Jessica has decided to run track. Yesterday was the first day. I knew she would call me to come get her when it was over, but her timing wasn't so great. She called right as Matthew woke up from his nap and was ready to eat. He was a trooper, though, and managed to happily hold off until we got back home.

She brought home a report card with STRAIGHT A's! We were so proud of her because she does all of her work. We are here to help her, but she writes her own papers, does her own projects, etc. The most important thing is that she was proud of herself, as she should be! She got off the bus that day and literally skipped up the hill with a big smile on her face, chanting "Momma, guess what?" over and over. I was quickly scanning my brain about what she could be so excited about and it hit me...the report card. I guessed that she got all A's and she shouted a big "YES!". That was followed by lots of hugs and kisses and jumping. She requested Mexican to celebrate and we happily obliged. She also said she double checked that she got the right report card...funny girl!

Have I ever told you that I could eat Mexican out at least three or four nights a week?

Well, I could.

That was the first week of January right after they went back to school. It's been a while...

***Emma Grace is doing well, too. She still continues to do great in school, meeting and exceeding expectations. She is one bright little girl. She amazes me with what she can do in math, and she is an excellent speller for her age. She loves to jump on the furniture as if it were a trampoline. I keep telling her that's what they have gymnastic classes for. She is getting more and more comfortable with Matthew. However, she picks the worst times to ask to hold him...he's usually fussy from being tired or hungry. The other problem is that he's bigger and stronger and she has a hard time containing him in her lap.

***Gib is back into the full swing of things with work and school. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing much of him until the end of May. This semester is the busiest time of year for his work (testing) and this is supposed to be his hardest/busiest semester of school.

Lord, help us!

I think if he really wants to be productive, he is going to have to stay at work, after work, to get his school work done. Once he comes home, I want his help with Matthew and the girls want his attention. As much as I love having him home, I think it will be the best use of his time. We talked about this a while back and he agreed.

***Speaking of him being home, I realized again yesterday that it absolutely does NOT work for me to go to the grocery store after he gets home from work. It is impossible not to run into someone who wants to chat, not to mention it is the busiest time of the day anyway with everyone going after work. I'm going to have to manage my time better during the day and just take Matthew with me. In all fairness to myself, my plan was to go on the way home from getting Jessica from track, but Matthew had other plans. If I go that late in the afternoon/evening, it is way too late for us to be eating dinner. Everyone is tired and cranky, and my night is behind before I even start.

It's all part of being more organized, which seems to be a constant work in progress for me.

Sigh.

***I haven't talked much about Buddy lately. He's still around and kicking. Or tail wagging. Or begging. Whatever he does, he's a good boy. Gib still doesn't like him, to put it mildly, but he's great with the girls. He lets Emma Grace hang all over him. He stays away from Matthew and off of his blankets. I'm anxious to see what happens when Matthew's toys are all over the floor and when Matthew starts crawling. Hopefully Buddy will realize he's not a puppy to play with! And Buddy does absolutely LOVE to ride in the car. Every morning about 10 minutes before it's time to leave to take Emma Grace to school, he starts crying at the door to go. He rides in the backseat of the van and enjoys himself immensely. And he even shares the his seat when Jessica is with us. :-) He continues not to bark much which is very nice!

***It is now six hours after I first started this post. Guess I need to wrap it up and hit publish. Especially since I can't think of much more to add.

I will say this one more thing. If you know me in real life, then you know that I always used to be busy...out and about and always on the go. But not since Matthew has been born. I went to a friend's house this afternoon, and as we chatted, I told her that I feel like I've pretty much become a recluse since Matthew has been born. She very politely agreed with me. And it's true.

But you know what?

I'm really okay with it. I can't pinpoint one single reason why I'm so okay with being home. But I'm pretty sure that part of it is because I love soaking up every minute with my Little Bear. And before I know it, he will be in middle school like Jessica is now.

Time flies.

That's all.

Love,
Tonya

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Matthew, 6 Months

My sweet boy is already 6 months old! (adjusted age: 4 months, 2 1/2 weeks) Halfway to his first birthday...it just doesn't seem possible.

Finally a picture with a sign like I've wanted.


And I had to take a picture of him with these signs, too. His big sisters made them for him.


I took him for his check-up yesterday. He weighed in at 16 lbs, 10 oz (35th%), was 25 1/4 inches long (18th %) and his head was 17 1/2 inches (75th%). While he seems big to us, he really isn't when you look at his numbers and percentiles. I was happy with all but his head circumference.

I hate it. There always seems to be a source of stress with this Little Bear. I just want to enjoy him and not be worried all the time...

Why am I worried?

His head measured 16 inches at his 4 month check up, which fell into the 15th percentile. He jumped a whole inch and a half in two months and went from 15th% to 75th%. His other growth was consistent, but not his head measurement. His head doesn't look abnormally big to me. My pediatrician said we would have to look at a few more measurements before we get concerned. But that conversation took place before I compared the numbers with his last check up. I'm concerned because his MRI showed some extra fluid in his head, but the neurologist's words were "That doesn't excite me". Well, I sure am glad that we go back to the neurologist next week so I can talk to him again.

Sigh.

I delayed Matthew's vaccines yesterday just because I felt like his immune system took such a big hit last week with RSV. Dr. E really didn't see the need to do that, but it made me feel better.

I'm still pumping about five times a day. He continues to get very little formula. Some days he doesn't get any, others he gets 2-4 ounces. It just depends on our schedule and how many times I can pump. I gave him his first taste of cereal last night. The girls were super excited to see him eat, and he was definitely ready. Of course I made it "soupy", but he did really well and enjoyed himself. I think he felt like a "big boy" eating at the table with us.


He's such a love.

He is drooling a lot! And tonight while we were at Target, I FOUND HIS FIRST TOOTH! Jessica said last week that when he bit her finger, she felt a tooth. I dismissed it because when I looked, I didn't see anything, nor did I feel anything when I rubbed his gum. Guess I was wrong and she was right!

He's very vocal these days. "Gee" (with a hard g) is his favorite word/sound although he "says" much more. Today, he perfected his squeal, and he loves to make a gurgling sound in his throat. He continues to be a very happy, "good" baby and smiles almost all the time. Seriously.

I love him more and more every day!

He hasn't been back for any physical therapy since his evaluation two weeks ago. They cancelled because of the weather last week, and they didn't want him there this week because of his RSV. So, he will have his first official PT session next week. During his evaluation, the therapist said that he definitely had some deficits but also said several times that he was "mildly affected". I love that word "mildly". He scored all over the charts on his development. There were three different areas that they looked at. I can't remember each of them, but he was at two months, four months and five months. The therapist did say that without the official diagnosis of cerebral palsy, his numbers alone would not qualify him for therapy.

We continue to see slow improvement in his right arm and hand. He loves being on his back under his activity gym and has started reaching for toys with his right arm. He continues to move it more in general, but I find it has to "wake up" each morning. He moves it very little after he first gets up.

The therapist also pointed out to me the fact that he doesn't look to his right side much. I knew this and purposely position him in his crib so that he must turn his head to the right to see his mobile, which he loves (he's looking at it in the top picture in this post)! But, he has started looking to the right more on his own, like when I change his diaper and when he is on his activity mat.

I have to work on getting him up to one hour of tummy time every day. That's a lot for him! His right arm drifts out to the side, and he gets frustrated very easily. I haven't done great with this because he was so sick, but we're gonna get cracking this week. When he is on his tummy, he tries to get his knees up under him which is very cute.

He is also working hard to roll from his back to his side and stomach. He can get his upper body to the side, but he can't get his hips and legs to follow. I help him some but then he's in that dreaded tummy position.

So, my new full-time job is to do therapy with him all day when we can. Thank you Lord for hiring me for this position. It's truly an honor.

Little Bear is still in 6 month clothes with some variation. He fits into some 3-6 month and 6-9 month outfits, depending on how they're made. We still haven't made our way through all the size 1-2 diapers, but he's definitely ready for the jump to size 3.

He is still sleeping well for the most part. He goes to bed around 8pm and sleeps until 6 or 7am. He does fight sleep, though, I guess because he doesn't want to miss anything. He is settling into more of a nap routine which is nice. However, since he got sick, he isn't going to sleep as easily by himself. That's okay. I think he will get back to it, and if not, that's okay, too. We rocked Jessica and Emma Grace for a loooong time...about 4 years each! (And I don't regret one second of it!) We will do the same for our Little Bear, too.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but that's all I can think of for now. A special thanks to my friend Nicole who is letting me borrow her old camera until I can get a new one. The pics above aren't too clear because I don't know how to properly use the camera yet. I'm just thankful to be able to capture these moments and not let them slip by.

And a few more pictures just because. These were taken for our electronic Christmas card.


There's something about this picture that I absolutely love.


And it's blurry, but he tried his best to help me hold his breathing treatment. Cute!


We love you sweet boy! Happy 6 month birthday! (even if we are two days late!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Our Little Lion..(Little Bear's Big Brother)

So, I have taken over T's little blog again! Here is my little video she mentioned. I am working on some other family videos since I can't make it to work due to the snow and ice. Before you view, mute or pause T's music at the bottom of her blog.

video

In all honesty, this stuff is very easy. You only need to know Adobe Photoshop & Windows Movie Maker. I used to teach both these software applications to students and adults so it comes easy to me. If the video is less than 2 minutes and 100 Megabytes you can post it to Facebook.com. You can also post it to YouTube.com and share the link or embed it into your web-page. YouTube.com provides this code to you with a simple click of the button.

OK....I'm a nerd. T tells me that all the time!!

A special thanks to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep for the photographs! Music by Craig Cardiff. Song entitled "Smallest Wingless".

Enjoy!
G-
(a.k.a. T's Technical Support)

Matthew's On The Mend

Matthew had a super good night last night. So good that I think he's going back to his own bed tonight. He slept from 10pm till 7am without any weird noises, coughs or needing his nose suctioned.

We did make an impromptu trip to the pediatrician's office today, though. I changed his diaper around noon and noticed that his hydrocele (the left side of his scrotum where he has excess fluid) was super big. Not only was that area big, his lower abdomen just above his private part and next to it was also very swollen. I knew it was related to all the coughing he's been doing, but I was a bit concerned and called the doctor. I don't think the nurse consulted the doctor before telling me to come in. So, I braved the ice and snow, which thankfully wasn't too bad.

Of course, when I got there and opened Matthew's diaper to show the doctor, it looked much better. However, we chatted about it, he told me what to look for if something really was wrong and he wants us to go ahead and see a general surgeon. There's still a chance that this area will close on its own, which is what we will hope and pray for. The thought of Matthew going through surgery scares me silly. More the anesthesia than the actual surgery. If this hydrocele stays a hydrocele, no immediate action will be necessary. If, however, some of his intestine dips into that area, it then becomes a hernia and will have to be taken care of ASAP. Time will tell.

It was nice to have our same doctor listen to his lungs again. Dr. E said he was "much improved" and that he was on the mend. That was worth my drive and co-pay in and of itself. But we do have to go back on Monday for his 6 month well-check. He said Matthew could go ahead and get his immunizations that day, but I'm a bit skeptical. I've never liked my kids to be sick with anything when they get their shots. I'll cross that bridge on Monday.

I'm ready for some relaxation. I'm extremely overwhelmed by this last week and the worry that has accompanied it. I'm truly exhausted on all fronts. I really thought Matthew would have a bit easier of a time with this RSV because of his size and the fact that I'm still giving him breast milk. It is easy for me to forget that he was a preemie because his size is deceiving. I'm so thankful that Emma Grace was able to get the vaccine against RSV as a baby because she would have definitely landed herself in the hospital. Her lungs would not have been able to handle what Matthew has been through.

In other news, Gib and the girls were home today, and will be home again tomorrow, because of the snow and ice. Buddy loved being outside in the white stuff when it was just snow. Now that it has turned to ice, he hates it. He's having a hard time "taking care of business" if you know what I mean. Frustrating to say the least, especially when the wind is whipping through you.

Gib has been using this time off to hone his video making skills. He took the NILMDTS pictures of Grady and made his own video for his facebook page. I will put it here once I have a code with which to embed it. It still amazes me how much Matthew and Grady look alike.

Can't think of too much more to ramble about today. I wish I could just go take a nap. But seeing as how it's almost 5pm, it's time to think about dinner. No rest for the weary here.

Love,
Tonya

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

RSV, Day 5/6

I didn't post yesterday because my Little Bear was one sick boy. Sunday night and Monday morning were rough. Fortunately, we didn't have to go to the hospital. I would have had to call an ambulance to get him there because we got 4-5 inches of snow Sunday night. I did talk to the doctor on call, and she walked me through some things. He was coughing BAD and wheezing BAD. He had so much nasal mucous that it was hard for him to breathe. He was getting choked on the mucous when he coughed, despite my best efforts at using the bulb syringe to suction him. He was miserable. He wasn't able to go the four hours between his treatments without needing another one. The only thing that he didn't have to deal with was a fever...he still doesn't have one, which I find hard to believe.

I felt better when the doctor said that yesterday was probably our worst day. Apparently, day 5 is the worst in a typical course of RSV. I didn't know that, but I did know that it would get worse before it got better. Since his cough started on Thursday, yesterday was technically day 5, even though it had only been 4 days since we had been to the doctor. She told me signs to look for if hospitalization was needed and increased his treatments to every 3 hours. I already knew what to look for, but I needed confirmation that what we were dealing with was "normal".

Matthew took two great naps on Daddy's chest yesterday, and after the second one, he woke up seeming to feel better. Thankfully last night was better than Sunday. Today, he is still wheezing and coughing but is definitely improved. He has his smile back and is "talking" to us again. I missed that! He has not been eating as much and has lost some weight, which isn't detrimental to him, but I miss his big fat belly! *wink* His appetite is slowly coming back.

The only problem now is that he doesn't want to be put down. We've held him so much the past few days. I am not complaining...we all needed the cuddling. But this has definitely wreaked havoc on any sort of routine we had. It's gonna take some time and patience to get back to where we were. The doctor said he is probably going to have his cough for about 2 weeks, but that it should get better as time progresses.

The girls and Gib are home again today because of the snow. It doesn't look like it's melting or going anywhere fast. I know they are hoping to be home again tomorrow, at least the girls are. I sure do miss my camera and have missed out on some good photo-ops with all this snow. And some cute pics of Matthew, even though he has been sick. I feel like I've neglected my girls something terrible, and in many ways I have. But I've been totally consumed with Matthew's well-being. I've tried to tell them I love them and give them hugs when they pass me or come near. I haven't been out once in the snow with them because, honestly, I don't like the snow. I just like to look at it, but I HATE to be cold!

Thanks so much for praying for sweet Matthew. The prayers are working, and he is slowly feeling better. And I'm slowly starting to relax a bit more. I'm so thankful that Gib has been home this whole time to help me and give me some moral/emotional support. THANKS BEBE! (Pronounced Beh, Beh with emphasis on the second Beh. Just in case you were wondering).

***And if I have lots of misspelled words, spell check isn't working on blogger right now***
Love,
Tonya

Sunday, January 9, 2011

RSV, Night 2, Day 3

Well, today hasn't been as good for our "Little Bear". That's his new nickname given to him by his Daddy. And I love it!

He had a decent night. He slept from 9:30pm until 4:30am again. There were a few times where he had a hard time exhaling, but for the most part he rested well.

At 4:30 he woke up with his awful stuffy nose and another blowout. Luckily, he didn't require a change of clothes this time! I fed him and gave him a breathing treatment. He was coughing pretty bad after his treatment, and he had one episode that scared the stew out of me. I woke Gib up just for moral support. I hate to be up alone at night. It really is so lonely. And scary. At least for me.

Matthew went back to sleep until around 8:30 this morning. He has gotten his breathing treatments every four hours today. He is more sleepy than normal and took a good nap on my chest earlier. He is currently sleeping again in his swing. He hasn't been nearly as hungry and has been spitting up much more than usual.

I almost took him to a pediatric urgent care center today, just to be checked again before our snow comes. I decided not to go because I really felt we are doing everything we can for him right now. Even though I'm a nurse, it means nothing when it's my child. Plus, I've never had a baby with RSV before (Emma Grace was older), and I've never worked pediatrics. I'm so fearful that I will miss something...that he will need to go to the hospital, and I won't know it. I would never forgive myself.

And if I'm truthful, I'm afraid he's going to die.

There.

I said it.

Tough to swallow and even think about. But it's the truth. My mind can't help but "go there". It only happens in 1-2% of cases, but you know how I feel about statistics, especially the 1-2%.

I'm trying to think positive and PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!

And TRUST, TRUST, TRUST!

Uggh.

Prayers please...for me and him.

Love,
Tonya

Saturday, January 8, 2011

RSV, Night 1, Day 2

So far, Matthew is doing remarkably well with his RSV. He is coughing at times and it sounds absolutely AWFUL! It is a strong, deep cough, but the breathing treatments seem to be keeping his wheezing under control. His nose is terribly, terribly stuffy, and he is NOT enjoying having is sucked out. I didn't think he would do well yesterday with his steroid or breathing treatments, but he did great with both. He is catching onto these treatments, though, and is starting to enjoy them less and less.

His appetite is decreased, but I'm not too worried. He is still eating well, and he has a bit of a cushion as far as weight goes. He was 16 lbs, 6 oz yesterday.

I ended up putting him in bed with me last night because every time he coughed I went to check on him. It was much easier with him beside me. He had a very hard time going to sleep last night, but he finally settled around 10pm. He slept until 4:30 this morning, had a breathing treatment, a bottle, a blowout, a change of clothes and was back asleep by 5:30. And he slept till 10am! And I stayed in bed with him. :) I do have to say it was wonderful to wake up this morning with my sweet boy, with his chubby cheeks and blue eyes, smiling at me.

Thanks for your prayers for him. We are not out of the woods yet, so please continue to pray for him as you feel led. You will never know how much we appreciate them!

We are gearing up for a big snow here in GA. Well, big for us! We might have some freezing rain which makes me fearful that we will lose power. This would mean that Matthew won't be able to have his breathing treatments. I'm praying that he will be better by then and while he might still need them, maybe he won't be so reliant on them. Time will tell.


Love,
Tonya

Friday, January 7, 2011

An Ugly Three Letter Word

RSV.

I guess it's really an abbreviation, but whatever it is, it's not fun and it has made its way into our home.

Matthew started with a little cough yesterday. He coughed some last night and it started to sound different. I could tell he was wheezing, so I made him an appointment this morning. They swabbed his nose, and sure enough, he was positive for RSV.

For those of you who don't know, this is basically inflammation of the bronchioles (tiny air passages in the lungs) which usually presents itself as a cold to most people. However, it can be more dangerous to babies, especially preemies. I'm just praying he stays out of the hospital. I think we caught it early, so hopefully that will help.

Emma Grace got the Synagis vaccine against this her first two winters. Insurance denied Matthew because he didn't meet all of their "criteria". Dr. E, our pediatrician, decided in November not to appeal their decision. I didn't really argue with him because Matthew doesn't have the "sick" lungs that Emma Grace had from all her time on the vent. I also didn't argue because he had just gone around in circles to get Matthew's MRI approved because insurance didn't want to pay for that either.

Ironically enough, I got a call from the home health agency yesterday saying that Dr. E had decided to appeal the Synagis for Matthew and they would be back in touch with me. It's a mute point now that Matthew actually has the illness. Truth be told, I'm mad at Dr. E for not appealing earlier, and I'm mad at myself for not insisting on such.

Sigh.

Nothing can be done about it now. We just move forward from here. So, Matthew will have breathing treatments every 4 hours during the day and at night, if needed. He will also be on an oral steroid for five days. Poor thing, it tastes terrible, and I know he's going to hate it! He fell asleep on the way home from the pharmacy, and I don't have the heart to wake him. He hasn't napped good all day, and he needs some good sleep. I don't look forward to his first breathing treatment or steroid. He is NOT going to be a happy boy!

Please pray for him that he has an easy course of this illness and doesn't have to be admitted to the hospital. I'm high-strung anyway when it comes to illness, but as my mom used to say, "My nerves are shot". I'm doing my best to pray and trust...

Love,
Tonya

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tidbits from T

I wish I had my camera handy to upload more Christmas pictures, but I don't. And I'm not in a position right now to go get it. Instead you get another dose of Tidbits from T. That's me!

I crack myself up.

***Jessica was happy to take her chocolate croissants to school this morning. I sampled one as I cut them into bite-sized pieces last night, and they were GOOD!

***After I posted last night, I did indeed go to bed. However, my girls did not.

Sigh.

I had tucked them in, each into their beds and trusted that they were going to sleep. Gib was up watching the Sugar Bowl. At 11:30, I heard a noise through the monitor from Emma Grace's room. Yes, 11:30!

I got up to find not only Emma Grace awake, but Jessica, too! Emma Grace had come home from school with a bad headache yesterday. I gave her medicine and told her to rest on her bed. She fell asleep. In the past when she has taken a late afternoon nap, she is back asleep by 9:30ish. Not last night.

Fortunately, they both got up easily this morning. But, they WILL be in bed early tonight. And this time, I'm not going to bed until they are asleep!

***I had a great conversation with my wonderful friend, Mary Beth, this morning. We spent almost 2 hours on the phone catching up. We promised it wouldn't be so long between our chats next time. I miss her living here so much!

***I absolutely love to watch The Biggest Loser. The new season started last night, and I always record it on DVR to watch the next day because I cannot stand commercials. I did indeed watch it this morning, but I ate chocolate chip cookies while I did. Something about that just isn't right!

***Speaking of exercise, I need to get busy with something of the sort. The number on the scale isn't so bad for me, but the flab on my tummy and hiney need to find another home. I'm honestly just not motivated right now to get moving. Part of it is that I'm lazy (honest truth) and the other part is that I'm afraid I really will eat like a cow once I start burning more calories. I'm seriously hungry all the time while producing breast milk.

***I'm not really making resolutions this new year. I never keep them anyway. However, I am striving to improve in some areas of my life, which I might decide to share. Then again, I might not.

***Matthew goes for his physical therapy evaluation tomorrow morning. I'm a bit anxious to hear what the therapist has to say. Is he really delayed or not? Is there a good chance that his right arm may function normally or not? Only time will truly tell, but I'm still anxious to hear it from a professional.

Speaking of Matthew, I noticed the left side of his head is a little misshapen last night. If I'm honest, I've been obsessing over it a little this morning. Has it always been like that, and I've just missed it, or is something else going on that I should be concerned about? That's the side where he has the porencephaly.

I want to start him on solids in the next couple of weeks. I have to get a good food processor and a double boiler with a steam basket first because I'm going to make my own baby food. I've wanted to do it with each of my kids. This is my last chance. Plus, since we are on such a tight budget, it will help us save lots of money AND will be healthier for him. I started both girls on solids around 4 months but for some reason have waited with him. I honestly don't know why.

***I haven't been nearly as productive today as yesterday. Oh well. Hopefully I will get a shower before Emma Grace gets home. Then again, maybe I won't. If not, my goal will be to shower before Gib gets home. At least that way it looks like I've done something! HA!

***Gib opened a Facebook account last week. It blew my socks off. He is the reason I don't have one! Don't ask...it's a long story that I'm not gonna share. But now he wants me to get one. Another shocker! I would love to make some changes to my blog first, update pictures of the kids and get it looking nicer. I really wish I had the money to have someone do it for me. It is so time consuming to choose a background and change colors, etc.

And I still want to turn what I've written here into a book. And I definitely need to back it up somehow. I would be absolutely devastated to lose these memories and my early writings on Grady and my grief.

***Oh, Grady. I've been thinking about him SO much lately. I know it has everything to do with Matthew and how he is growing and developing. How his smile melts my heart. How every breath he takes is truly a gift to me. How I know Grady would have looked like him. How unbelievably thankful I am for Matthew...I cannot imagine my life without him, nor can I remember what I did before him.

***I've been going through Matthew's drawers, taking out clothes that he has already outgrown. The ones that were originally Grady's are going into a bag to eventually be stored in a plastic container. I made sure that Matthew wore everything of his brother's at least once. I know I should donate them to a needy baby, but I honestly don't think I can part with them. And part of me doesn't want to get rid of Matthew's clothes, even though I know he is our last. I'm such a sentimental softie. Not just with clothes but everything! Just ask my husband. (Gib, there does NOT need to be a post about this, so don't even try! I'll change my login info in a heartbeat! *wink*)

Matthew is waking up which signals the end to this blog post, although I could "talk" all day. Just ask my hubby about that, too! Until next time...

Love,
Tonya

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Quickly...

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and feedback! I ended up going with chocolate croissants, thanks to my friend Nicole whose in-laws live in France. In French, they are called Pain Chocolat, pronounced something like Pah Shocola. Sorry Nicole, I know this doesn't do the true pronunciation justice...thanks for the idea! I chose this because it was something that I thought the kids would really like.

And please don't think that I made them. I ordered them from Panera Bread which saved me LOTS of time. That might be cheating, but at least it's something! Instead, we baked chocolate chip cookies this afternoon. You can't get much more American than that!

Before I go, I want to ask you to pray for a special friend of mine. Her name is Sara. We met through our blogs and actually met in person early last year. She is pregnant with a baby who was conceived from embryo adoption. She and her husband have an amazing story of love, faith and hope. They lost a baby boy, Samuel, to stillbirth just before we did in 2008. Sara has been admitted to the hospital for high blood pressure. She will be there minimum 2-3 days and has 5 children at home. Please pray for her BP to come down and for her husband to handle things at home while she is away. If you want to get to know her better or send her a little love, you can visit her here. Thanks.

Off to bed...I hope!

Love,
Tonya

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Shout Out For Help!

So, I'm in a bit of a panic.

Not really. But I am a little stressed.

To complete their European Unit at school, Jessica has to participate in the "European Cultural Cafe" on Wednesday. She has to bring an authentic dish from a European country of her choosing to share with the class. ***Read, Mom has to make a dish for her to take!***

Any thoughts, ideas or recipes? It can be food or a beverage. Remember, I have a 5 month old and not much time to invest! I do good to get dinner on the table for us. I've spent some time on the internet, but it's only making me feel more overwhelmed. Any and all suggestions are most appreciated!

Thanks!

Christmas Pics, Part 1

Isn't my hubby so funny! I had NO idea he would hijack my blog and write about me!

I'm still so far behind on posting pictures. I still want, and need, to post pictures from months ago of different moments with, and of, Matthew. This has become our family journal, and I'm amazed that anyone wants to read/see it at all. Posts like the ones today probably bore the stew out of you! But thanks for visiting anyway!

Christmas came early for my kiddos with a huge package from MeMe, our special family friend, who is very much like a grandmother to them. They couldn't wait to open their presents from her because they're always awesome gifts. Here is Matthew with his very first Christmas presents.







The girls got several things, all of which they loved!







Despite my temperamental camera, which is now completely dead, I was able to get a few pictures of the kids on Christmas.

We let the girls open one present on Christmas Eve. They chose which one based on the size of the present. Emma Grace opened a Blizzard Maker (which has already been taken back and exchanged for Barbies) and Jess a dolphin pillow pet.









Making cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. Matthew was SO sleepy, but he was doing his best to get his foot in the cookie dough, kicking like crazy! I somehow managed to keep it out!




Christmas morning, just waking up. Waiting to see what Santa brought. Big gifts for each was a new mountain bike for Jess, a razor scooter for Emma Grace and a high chair for Matthew.




Other pics in random order, mainly because it's taking way too much time to organize them as I would like!












I made Gib take my picture with my beautiful kids. There's a certain two year old missing though...



If you've made it this far, thanks for enduring our Christmas morning fun. This is much longer than I thought it would be, so a "Christmas Pics Part 2" will follow soon.

Love,
Tonya