Saturday, March 30, 2013

Six and Strong

Six years ago, on a bright and sunny day, a boy and a girl met at a church.

They each looked pensively out the stained glass windows.

And leaned on walls.

Hundreds of other people showed up.

And the boy and girl stood up in front of God and everybody and got married.

And there was much rejoicing.

And minorly inappropriate shenanigans.

(And sneaky 12 year old cousins stealing 40 glasses of champagne.  And somebody-who-shall-remain-nameless PUKING IN THE BATHROOM OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  But I digress...)

Fast forward 6 years, and here we are.  Going strong.

This is our life.

It would be an understatement to say that this year of marriage has been a hard one for us.  We lost an entire quarter of it, to be honest.  But we've come through it, just as we have the bumps in the road we've already passed and the ones yet to come.  'Cause I love this man.  Heart and soul forever and ever.

He makes me laugh.  Usually at inappropriate things.
He keeps me sane.  Well, he tries.
He is a better daddy than I ever dreamed possible.
He puts his life on the line every single day for people who don't appreciate it.
He leaves my closet light on when he goes to bed early so I don't bang my toes on the footboard in the dark.
He makes me feel pretty even when I have Cheerios in my hair and dried cake batter on my pants and am still carting around 32 pounds of 2-babies weight.
He's a big squooshy softie underneath his gruff and crusty exterior.
He makes me bonkers and sometimes I want to lock him in the backyard, but at the end of the day...

I'd marry him all over again.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Photo Catchup

It occurs to me on a daily basis that I need to get better about actually saving pictures and videos onto our external hard drive, most especially after my phone erased EVERYTHING last month.  It also occurs to me that everything I upload to this page can act as an extra backup on top of allowing our friends and family to see what the boys are up to...
In that spirit, let's revisit Parker's 9 month pictures and St. Patrick's Day.  Better late than never!!

My aunt Nesie (go visit her page and get her to take some pictures of you.  Seriously.  Go.) took Parker's 9 month pictures, the next in our we-can-do-that-Pinterest series.  He's pretty stinkin' cute, even if he REFUSED to smile for Nesie.  Not even one bit.

Here's the whole series so far-- just one more to go!  I can't even talk about how close we are to his birthday.  For serious.

She also took some of the boys together, which I absolutely ADORE. 

 Couldn't love two little beings any more than these two.

We also had St. Patrick's Day, which was not really a festival of festivities...

We went to the park...
 He loves to swing.

And Publix...


But it DID allow me to partake in my somewhat-obsessive Photo Re-creation with Jeremiah and Parker.

   Jeremiah at 3 months (one of my favorite pictures EVER!), Parker at 10 months. 
Love my little leprechauns!

In other news, we are completely doctor's visit free until May.  I do have to schedule a follow-up hearing screen (precautionary, not due to any concerns) and a possible physical therapy consult.  I have gone back and forth 100 times about physical therapy-- the developmental clinic wanted him "crawling by St. Patty's day", which I suppose is technically happening. It doesn't  look anything like a regular baby crawling-- it's more of a commando crawl with crazy leg kicks added, but he can most definitely get where he wants to go.  Dr. Putnam, our pediatrician, is unconcerned.  My friend Jill, a PT herself, is unconcerned.  I, his crazy mommy, am in constant "SHOULDN'T WE BE AT THE DOCTOR MORE?????" mode. Le sigh.  We'll get it sorted out.

This week, however, we are focused entirely on Easter festivities and remembering the sacrifice Jesus made for us all. (I have been glued to The Bible miniseries on the History channel... though it has taken some "artistic liberties" with the Scriptures, it has been an amazing reminder of God's power and His plans for this mixed-up world we live in.  Sunday is the finale- the crucifixion and resurrection. Can't wait!)  We also have Easter egg hunts and seersucker suits and bowties and frivolities.  And being eternally grateful to have two baskets for the bunny to fill this year.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Storytime Shift

If this entry seems out of place, it is.  It originated as a response to a question posed by an expectant CDH mama on Facebook, and my response was so gigantic and ridiculous that I had to move it here.  Perhaps it will be useful to other CDH mamas who are trying to plan it all out.  Maybe they will want to see my Psycho Mommy Binder full of childcare charts and freezer meal recipes!! :-)

Her situation sounds so similar to ours-- an older sibling at home (who would be out of school for the summer, mind you), within driving distance of the hospital, but not an ideal distance, and a general feeling of "HOW ON EARTH AM I GOING TO DO THIS???"

Here's how it worked for us, and only for us.  It it not a magic answer.  It is not the best thing for everyone.  It is not the prescribed method of How to Survive the NICU.  It is, however, something I would have loved to have seen before I lived it. I am a planner, and detailed plans make me happy.  So here it is:

Going into it, we were adamant about 2 things:
1) We would eat dinner together EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Unless there was an emergency.
2) There would not be a day that both Mike and I did not see both of our boys.

And we were able to do it for the entire 3 months.  I can count on 2 hands the days where one or both of those things did not happen.

How did we do it?  A glimpse into our lives during Parker's NICU stay:

Mike's Off Days:
7:30- wake up, place phone call to day nurse for update about Parker's night.
8:30- Parent A (it alternated) departs for hospital, Parent B stays home with Jeremiah
6 pm- Parent A arrives back home, dinner as a family
8:30 pm- Parent A puts Jeremiah to bed, Parent B departs for "Storytime Shift" at hospital, stopping at Starbucks on way (a necessity)
Midnight-ish- Parent B departs hospital after reading a story.  The story was a non-negotiable. **shout out to Egleston for having a lending library!!*
1am- Parent B collapses into bed.  Rinse and repeat.

Mike's Workdays
5 am- Mike leaves for work.
7:30 am- Abby wakes up, places phone call to day nurse to see how Parker had done overnight.
8:30 am- Abby departs home, drops Jeremiah off at whichever family member/friend is responsible for him that day 
4 pm-Abby leaves hospital (it was always at 4 because there were vital checks and blood gasses at that time) and picks up Jeremiah
7 pm- dinner at home, or meet Mike out for dinner somewhere between his work and the hospital.
8 pm- Abby does bedtime with Jeremiah, Mike goes to hospital for Storytime Shift.  Still in uniform, as seen below :-)
10pm- Mike leaves Storytime Shift fairly early if he has to be up the next day.  Otherwise, he stays 'til midnight.

A lot of people would look at this and think "You have to be kidding."  I look back on it and am not entirely sure how we pulled it off, but you do what you have to do for your kids and your own mental sanity.

It worked for us because we are late-night people.
It worked for us because there was a Starbucks at the hospital exit.
It worked for us because we had every confidence in the overnight hospital staff, knew they would call us in a heartbeat if we were needed, and that if it came down to it we could make it to the hospital quickly.
It worked  for us because Egleston welcomed us at all hours (except shift changes while on A side) and never made us feel weird for being there, reading to our unresponsive baby in the dead of night.  
It worked for us because I precooked 8 weeks worth of meals that could be reheated in less than 30 minutes.  All Hubby had to do if he was home was warm it up and make a side dish.
It worked for us because we have the absolute best friends and family with whom I never had a moments' worry about leaving Jeremiah.

-no sleep.  But seriously, it's not like you get any sleep the first three months of any child's life.
-very little time together as a family.  There's just no way around that one, but we did the best we could.
-insane amounts of time spent driving.  Gas money.  Road rage during rush hour.
-a chemical dependency on Starbucks that lingers to this day (it might have been there before.... moving on.)

-consistency for Jeremiah.
-traffic and parking hassles were non-existent on Storytime Shift.
-the NICU was silent at night.  COMPLETELY. SILENT. Peaceful.  No hustle and bustle that wasn't necessary.  Lots of good bonding time.
-those late night stories are some of my best memories with Parker.  And I know they paid off!  **last entry is proof!**
-it allowed us to stick to our two goals-- dinner time together and time with both boys every day.

Was it hard? HA! I don't think I have to answer that.  But it worked  for us.  It was a temporary season of life, and it was not my favorite for many reasons.  It was hard on our family, it was hard on our marriage, it was hard on our bodies, it was hard on our hearts.  But we did our best.  And that's all anybody can do!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lots of Good Fun That is Funny

Yesterday was Dr. Seuss's birthday... and Friday was Read Across America Day.  Jeremiah had a ball at school on Friday-- he greeted me at carpool wearing quite festive headgear.  He was pumped because they had read one his favorite books, One Fish Two Fish.

Love him so.

As we drove home, it was round about Parker's naptime, and he was cranky.  He had mysteriously lost his binky in the depths of his carseat, and I of course could not reach it as I drove.  He was not pleased, to say the least.  Those little lungs that we spent so many months praying over were proving themselves to be functioning QUITE NICELY, thank you so much.

Meanwhile, on the Kids Place Live channel on XM, they were broadcasting live from the New York Library  Celebrities were stopping by to do read alouds of Seuss books.  It was a good time.  For me and JB, at least.  The P-nut, not happy.

And then, something strange happened.  Uma Thurman came on to read The Cat in the Hat, and not 30 seconds into it, Parker was completely calm and rode home the rest of the way in happy silence, kicking his little legs and smiling.

Why, you may ask, is that strange?  Because I read that book to him at least once a day in the hospital.  Starting from the day he was born.  It sat in his box of clothes and toys and it was a favorite.  I got my first big smile while reading it to him.  He was completely enthralled by it, even after the hundredth time through.

"The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play..."   Hearing those words  brought back so many memories... sitting by his bedside at midnight during Storytime Shift, before we could hold him.  Propping him up on my knees in the Boppy once we could.   Seeing his little eyes light up while he looked at the pictures. Here's little movie clip I found (apologies for the cellphone camera quality and the fact that I was trying to read and film at the same time!):

Look at my little booger!  Seems like a lifetime ago! Makes me a little weepy.

Coincidence?  Maybe.  But I don't think so.  Since we've been home, that book has been put back in the rotation with the other 5 million we have around here and I honestly don't remember the last time we read that one to him.  And his response was almost instantaneous!

It makes my English teacher heart happy. We have read every day to both our boys since I saw two pink lines on the stick with Jeremiah.  I think it has made a world of difference for Jeremiah, who is consistently described as having the vocabulary of a grown-up.  I got proof on Friday of the impact it had on Parker, even during his newborn days.

All of this to say--
Read to your kids!  Every day!  Big kids and little kids and kids not yet born.  NICU babies who are unresponsive and feel light years away despite being within arm's reach.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

-- Dr. Seuss