Sunday, November 17, 2013

World Prematurity Day!

Today is World Prematurity Day... something I don't speak off too often because our NICU experience seems like SUCH a lifetime ago. It was an AWFUL and yet preciously sweet time when we clung to the Lord in complete desperation for the life of our premature son. I've written bits and pieces before about Parker's birth and what a miracle this little stud is but in case you're new here, I wanted to rewrite it. Every time I look at these pictures, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for my children... the children I statistically shouldn't have.

After my cancer, we were told I probably couldn't have children but if we wanted them, to not prevent them and hope for the best. We did a little more than that and prayed for children but in God's timing... which was sooner than we expected. 6 months after my last chemo, I was pregnant and I was ecstatic! We had no idea how far a long I was so based on ultrasound measurements they gave me a due date of May 5th (which ended up being Avery's birthday 2 years later!). 

I had an uneventful pregnancy and really enjoyed being pregnant other than the fact that my hair quit growing since I was too busy growing a baby. I was desperate for my hair to get out of that awkward "growing it back out" length. It was stuck. 

One night, I leashed the dogs up to take them for a walk when I saw out of the corner of my eye, my neighbor's dog charging at me. I scooped up my pug and was struck by the German Shepard. I screamed for Daniel and he came running. He kicked the dog off me but I had already fallen on my belly and was in a panic. I knew something wasn't right. 

We went to the hospital, where they patched up the back of my leg (which looked like hamburger meat) and kept me overnight to monitor me. I was spilling proteins, contracting and my heart rate was elevated. The next day, they sent me home but told me I better rest a lot and see the doctor every other day to be monitored. 

5 days later, I drove to the grand opening of Harris Teeter (because that's what you do in the suburbs!). I bought toilet paper and got a Starbucks but I could tell something was off. I had my blood pressure taken along with the 65+ Sun City senior crowd and the pharmacist wouldn't let me leave until I called my OB. Apparently it was bad... really bad. I felt like I had consumed 3 shots of espresso... except I hadn't. Of course, they told me to come RIGHT NOW... to which I replied "I'm going to go home, pack and bag, take a shower, shave my legs... and then I'll come." Vain? No Not me. 

Obviously, that didn't go over very well and so I drove my hairy legs and chipped toe nails to the hospital... with nothing except my wallet. Daniel was out of town and got that dreaded call. The "haul hiney home RIGHT NOW and abandon your co-worker in another city" call 'cause this baby's coming. We don't know whether the dog attack cause my pre-eclampsia or if I had it and we became aware then but either way, my blood pressure was too high and no amount of magnesium was keeping this baby in. I took steroid shots to develop Parker's lungs and I remember high risk doctors giving us statistics. I've never been so thankful to have been on too many drugs to really remember what they were but I was blissfully loopy because they weren't good. 

The next morning I woke up after a wonderful night's sleep on Ambien and said "is it normal to not be able to see anything?" Um. No. Doctors rushed around while I obliviously put on makeup for my pending c-section...'cause these pictures are going in the baby book! 

Parker was born 8 weeks too soon on March 21, 2009 via c-section weighing 3lbs 10oz. It was love at first sight.
 He was whisked away to the NICU and Daniel went with him. He filmed the doctors and nurses explain what each tube and wire was. At 14 minutes old, Parker quit breathing and we have the beginning of Parker being resuscitated on film. It's the worst home video... EVER. If "America's Most Horrifying Home Videos" was a show, we'd be millionaires.

I didn't get to see Parker for 3 days other than in pictures and videos. His doctors would come see me and I remember asking them if he would live. The answer to that should be "yes, of course" but words like "we don't know," "most likely" and "time will tell" are what I got. It was like a knife... I quit asking. 
He spent a few days on the ventilator until he got too frustrated with it and ripped it out.
He spent a while on the c-pap and under the glow worm lamp for jaundice. Parker was fed by TPN and given medicine every day to try to close his PDA. He dodged heart surgery by hours. HOURS. For the first few days, we could only lightly touch him until day 5. On day 5, a sweet nurse could see my desperation to hold my precious baby and she let me for 5 minutes. His stats actually improved during those 5 minutes. It was heaven on earth... even though I look greasy and tired. 
NICU really is a roller coaster. One day, he's doing great and we'd get to bring him home in the next week or so and then the next day, they think his bowels are dead and will need surgery and possibly be here for months. One day he's taking a bottle like a champ and the next day he was having brady's and forgetting to breathe. I don't think I've ever prayed so much and with such fervor.
I was discharged after 1 week and spent every single day driving to and from the NICU twice a day. Once during the day alone and once after dinner with Daniel. I quit taking any pain pills so I could drive to be with my baby. I didn't care how much it hurt. I sweat off my baby weight under those yellow itchy gowns. NICU moms can I get an amen?!
 I walked into his isolet one day and remember thinking how handsome he looked... it took a nurse pointing out that he was off c-pap and I could see his face! He wore the nasal cannula until he was discharged. He was 8 days old and 3lb 8oz in that picture. 
We became very close to our NICU nurses, particularly our primary day and night nurse. They humored my 3am "can I just talk to my baby?" calls. Most of the nurses were amazing and I can't say enough about how dedicated they are to their jobs. They are angels on Earth to NICU parents. An acquaintance of mine is a MUCH more eloquent writer than I'll ever be and was featured on the Huffington Post with her Dear NICU nurse post. Heather is a micro preemie mom who blogs at Team Hucks about their little fighter, Tucker. Make sure to swing by and tell her "hello!" They're in their 2nd year of isolation... a not so fun part of having a preemie... and I know she'd love some encouragement. Those days can be long and lonely!

Parker was classified as a "wimpy white boy." It's a real thing. They're just slower to do most things... like breathe, take bottles, etc. So we waited... and waited for him to just "get it." Not so unlike life with him now... it's all in HIS time. Once he "got it" he became an expert at eating and breathing and went from 3lbs 7oz at his smallest to 4lbs 10oz. 4 weeks after he as born, 8 weeks too soon, we strapped him into his gigantic car seat and brought him home.
I almost feel like I cheapen other people's NICU stories when ours was only 4 weeks. It's such a small blip of time in the grand scheme of things but each minute crawled by. We meet many parents whose babies were in the NICU for 6+ months and they were so encouraging to us and genuinely happy for us when we got to bring our son home, knowing full well they still had a long and uncertain road ahead.

Babies came and went in the NICU... and not all went home. I read many blogs about NICU babies and each time, I'm humbled by our outcome. We still struggle with some preemie related issues but in the grand scheme of things... it's nothing compared to what it could be. If I didn't tell you Parker was a preemie, you probably wouldn't know. 

So there you have it... our preemie story. Our 3lb 10oz "screamie preemie" who has made our lives fuller and richer than we ever thought imaginable.
"Every good and perfect gift comes from above" James 1:17

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I'm loving... {MY Christmas List Edition}

If you're anything like me, you started thinking about what you wanted to get your kids for Christmas sometime back in July. Santa is already done by November 5th because this mama just likes to enjoy the holidays... and have you ever seen the line at Marshall's/Homegoods from mid November-Christmas Eve?!?! Insanity.

One thing I'm not so good at is thinking about what I want for Christmas. I end up just saying "oh don't get me anything" or "whatever you think is cute" and then I end up with $200 in Starbucks gift cards and a $50 Victoria Secret gift card from my 86 year old grandfather because nothing says Merry Christmas like a lace thong from your Poppop. Don't get me wrong... I LOVE those Starbucks gift cards... all 15 of them because they are gone by March every year and yes... I really do get a VS GC almost every year from my Poppop but it's meant for "jammies" I'm told ;) ... I decided this year to be more intentional with my list.

But here's the thing about being an adult. When I want something, and I have the $ to buy it... I do. And I certainly don't want it wrapped under the tree .... because those magical elves who wrap the kid's presents and build trampolines do actually intend to sleep at least a few hours Christmas Eve! The point is, Christmas shopping for adults, or even making a list for yourself can be HARD!

I'm a pretty sensible Christmas gift kinda gal. Daniel and I usually just pick something we want for the house and gift that to each other. This year, we gifted ourselves our present(s) early because we actually needed it sooner than later. Get excited.... 1st on my "I'm loving for Christmas list" is....

1. The Dyson Animal:

How I have lived my adult life without this vacuum, I'm just not sure. I loved my robot vacuum... all 3 of them but that's the problem... I had 3 in 2 years. They just didn't hold up well. The Dyson is a beast but it works.... so much so that I gagged the 1st time I cleaned it. It's pricey but worth every penny!

Next, was a surprise from Daniel. I told him we needed to call a carpet cleaner.... cause we have toddlers and dogs and our poor carpet had seen better days. He told me he'd do some research and I planned to ask him about it a few days later. 2 days later, thanks to Amazon Prime, came this:

2. Bissell Big Green Cleaning Machine
Apparently, I am the new carpet cleaning company around here. It was one of those moments where I wasn't sure whether or not to be mad or ecstatic. I gave it a go before explaining that I meant more along the lines of "Stanley Steamer" ... and much to my surprise, this thing is AMAZING! It's so powerful, that I ended up having to use a GFI outlet with an extension cord because I blew the circuit... twice. My carpets look just a good as they did the last time we hired a professional company! It's pretty big and storing it is proving to be an interesting task but if you have kids or dogs, you'll save so much $ over time just owning your own steam cleaner and I HIGHLY recommend this one!

The rest of my list isn't big items like the ones above and I don't actually have them (hint hint) but you NEEDED to be informed of the awesomeness of those carpet products.

3. Hillsong United Zion Album
Confession. I own an iPod and an iPhone and I haven't got a single song on either unless you count the ABC song app. I'm a lover of CDs, Pandora and YouTube and I stream the Hillsong channel most of the day. This CD would make a nice addition to the swagger wagon's collection. If you haven't heard "Oceans" yet from this album, you MUST. Right Now. Be blessed.
Hillsong is coming to Greenville SC next Tuesday and I'm trying to make it work out. I want to go SO badly!

4. Anne Taylor Loft Boyfriend Cardigan
I wore this cardigan in mustard for our family photos and I LOVE it! It fits really cute and is a great fall staple piece to have in your wardrobe. I like the length and the material seems like it will hold up nicely. Good news! It's on sale for $25 right now! SO... I'm thinking I need it in another color.... or 5.

5. Starbucks {You are Here} Mugs
I've decided to streamline my coffee mugs for stacking purposes... and because these are darling and make me happy. I have Charlotte and North Carolina. I've requested NYC from my sister who lives there and Atlanta from my grandparents but since my parents are flight attendants, I think they need to start buying me Sbux mugs from cool cities, don't you?

6. Canvas Flats

I bought these Steve Madden camo Tom like shoes about 2 months ago. I wasn't sure what I would wear these with because I am NOT a country girl and would never wear camo but these have proved to be more of a neutral that jazz up jeans and a solid shirt. They're like butter on my feet and have become a "go to" preschool drop off/errand running shoe. I'd love another pair... that SPARKLE or have polka dots or are crocheted. I like a fun shoe.

7. Gift Cards
You really can't beat a gift card. I know it isn't as fun to gift but it sure is fun to receive! There are lots of cute Pinteresty ways to give a gift card. I personally like the mason jar of candy with the card hidden in it idea! :)

Here is my list of fun, not as common gift cards that I'd love and I bet you might too!
a. Hobby Lobby - this place is my weakness... I go in for $2.99 worth of grosgrain ribbon and $127 later, I have new mantle decor, a cake plate, polka dot fabric, glitter, wrapping paper and a sparkly singing Santa.
b. Canvas on Demand (or any other canvas place)
c. Groupon/Living Social - this is like cheating because you're getting a gift card for a discount site which means you're getting a more expensive gift than they would have given you in the 1st place!
d. Amazon - you can buy anything... and I mean anything on Amazon.
e. Etsy- Don't buy me an etsy gift card... I WILL spend it on hair bows for Avery... but you may like one for some handmade jewelry or a crocheted sweater for a pig... they probably sell one... that site has some wacky things
f. Nail salon gift card but for 2 people... it's way more fun to go with a friend and treat her too!

That's my list of things this mama's loving for Christmas present ideas. Next up... Christmas List Toy Edition!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mermaid Hair

When I was pregnant, I told Daniel that when Avery's head came out to please clip a bow into it. I wasn't kidding. Sadly, Avery was born via c section and Daniel wasn't even in the OR... so 8 hours later, after a brief stint in the Medical Intensive Care Unit ('cause I like to try to die when having babies... fun times) I finally got to see my sweet little red headed beauty. She was naked and bowless and I was pissed. How dare my baby go 8 hours without a bow and a something pink!?! I mean for heaven's sake, I brought 14 bows to the hospital. No lie... 14.

After a quick kiss, I slapped a bow on that wisp of red hair and we began our relationship as mother and daughter. I have to admit; however, that I've longed for her to have long mermaid hair. Like fire engine red, Ariel hair that I could curl and brush with a fork... well not really the fork part but you get it... long, red locks. 2 1/2 years later, Avery's rocking approximately 1-3 inches (depending on what part of her hair we're talking about) of fine, not so mermaid hair. I have to believe that Ariel also had no hair until she was 3 and then she woke up one day with that coif. It makes me feel better. It's coming... eventually... I believe in you pretty hair fairy!

Today, Avery was sitting still eating Lucky Charms... except the off brand... 'cause $4.99 for a box of the real stuff is a crime. Mom of the year, I know. Anyways, she was still and I was brushing her mullet hair and spraying it with my magic Sauve kids leave in conditioner that helps her hair not stand straight up like she put her finger in a light socket when I began to think that MAYBE ... just maybe... I could put it in pig tails. Get excited y'all because......

Naturally, I proceeded to follow her around the house taking pictures and posting them to instagram because THIS was a moment 2 1/2 years in the making! I know this is vain. Really, I do. But I was SO excited. I have had serious hair envy. Ask Tabitha, who texted me a picture at 3am of her newborn baby with more hair than my 10 month old had. I believe my text back was "screw you!" followed by "and congratulations! She's beautiful!" 

I'm aware that technically only half of her hair is in pig tails because the top is seriously maybe 1 inch and I can barely pry it off her scalp but let's just take a moment to celebrate because OMG she's precious!!! So here are 7 of the 60+ pictures I took of Avery on our walk today in pigtails.... covered in some delicious Red Bowl chicken and broccoli. Obviously, taking pictures BEFORE taking a 2 year old to eat Chinese food makes more sense but when your husband says "wanna go out to eat?" I hear "wanna not have to cook" and I jump in the van before he changes his mind.

The cutest thing you've ever seen, right?! I thought so. 

Now off to buy pigtail bows! HUZZAH!