Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful Thirty

 In light of my very, very, VERY favorite holiday this Thursday, I’d like to list just some of the many, many, MANY things I am thankful for.  Since there are thirty days in this month, I’ll go with thirty.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy.

I’m thankful for…

1. My husband, my best friend, my partner-in-crime, my better half, the love of my life.  Like any couple, we have our ups and downs – it’s not always rainbows and sunshine.  But we’re the strongest couple I know, and we both believe we can get through anything, as long as we’re together.  I’m so lucky I get to go on this adventure with him.

2.  My daughter.  My Cameron Kate.  The most beautiful, fun-loving, happy, wild little spirit.  The one who made me a mama.  The reason I NOW know what it feels like to love with every ounce of my being.  Someone who has taught me how to be selfless and patient, to understand that I am not in control of the universe, to learn how to appreciate the little things.  The absolute light of my life.

3.  My parents.  Two people who have helped to shape the woman, wife, mother I am today.  Two people who love me in spite of my faults, who are there for me whenever I need them, who let me be – me.

4.  My in-laws.  I have two sets of in-laws who I truly feel as though love me like an actual daughter.  Who would drop what they were doing and be here for us at any hour, on any day.

5.  My siblings.  My brother, sisters, step-brother, and step-sister – we’re one big, crazy, happy, chaotic family, and I love every minute of it.

6.  My siblings-in-law.  Both my siblings’ better halves and my husband’s family members.  People who I feel like I’ve known my whole life.

7.  Good health.  It takes about an hour of sitting in a surgical waiting room – and a pediatric surgical waiting room at that – to make you realize just how much you take your and your family’s health for granted.

8.  My niece and nephews.  Becoming an aunt a little over three years ago changed my life.  I absolutely adore being Aunt Jess!

9.  My job.  I complain about it often, but mostly because I want to spend my time as a mama.  However, in today’s economy, I am grateful to have a stable job I (for the most part) enjoy.

10.  My dog, Bailey.  T got her for me for Christmas NINE years ago.  Sweet pup has been around for a long time, and has adjusted pretty well to having a toddler running around.  She’s such a good dog and SO patient when Cameron chases her, steals her toys, pulls her tail, dumps over her water bowl, and "pat pat pats" her while she's trying to eat.

11.  My friends – both old and new.  I’ve always believed there are people we’re “meant to be” with.  Husbands – yes – but girlfriends, too.  Sometimes you meet them in high school, sometimes in college, sometimes even later in your life.  But, like with your husband, it’s an instant connection.  A bond you know cannot be broken.  You just know it’s the real thing.  Lately, my faith has been restored in these types of bonds – these types of friendships that you’re sure will stand the test of time.

12.  Running.  All it takes is a bum ankle to make you realize how much you depend on that outlet.  That time where it’s just you, your breathing, and the road that lies ahead.  I went for my first post-injury jog last Friday and despite my ankle still being sore, man, it felt good.

13.  Red wine and craft beer.  Especially after a long day.

14.  Lists.  Something silly to be thankful for?  Possibly.  But I’m always thankful for a good list.  Bonus point if there are square boxes to check off.

15.  Mail.  There’s something like getting an actual letter or package in the mail that makes me so, so happy.  It seems as though surprises in the mailbox are few and far between in this technology-driven world we live in.

16.  Recipes.  Particularly those that are easy and require five ingredients or less.  I’m terrible in the kitchen and have never in my life made something from scratch.  So thank goodness for recipes.

17.  And on that note – take-out.

18.  DVR.  A pretty shallow thing to be thankful for, but as a full-time working mama, I rarely if ever have time to watch tv.  And when I do, it’s always something that was recorded earlier in the week.

19.  Target.

20.  Health insurance.  While my ankle mess and Cameron’s surgery will both be costing us a pretty penny, I can’t imagine how much worse it would be without our buddies Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

21.  My iPhone.  From keeping track of schedules/feedings when CK was born, to taking pictures/videos, to accessing the internet whenever I want/need to, to swapping texts/pictures/videos constantly – I have to say I feel naked without it.

22.  Cameron’s buddy Melvin.  He’s gotten her through some tough times lately!

23.  The one diet coke I HAVE to have everyday.

24.  CK’s very first teachers, who will forever hold a dear place in my heart.  They dealt with my first-time-mom anxiety and worries and always made both Cameron and me feel comfortable.

25.  Our house.  While I often feel like the walls are closing in on us, it is our very first home – the home we bought together and moved into as Mr. and Mrs., the home where we found out we were going to become a family of three, the home where we spent many sleepless nights learning how to be parents, the home where our little girl turned 1, the home where our best and most favorite memories have been made.  While I selfishly hope we don’t say in this house forever, it will always be so special to us.

26.  I kinda mentioned this in the iPhone blurb, but I am very thankful for pictures/videos.  I absolutely LOVE looking at old pictures my mom has in her house, and I hope one day Cameron enjoys doing the same.  Maybe that’s why I take about four hundred pictures of her a month!

27.  Days off of work.  Even though I wish I wasn’t working full-time, I’m lucky enough to work for a school system, which means I have it pretty good when it comes to getting days off, especially around the holidays.

28.  My coworkers.  I love, love, love the people I work with, and they make going to work everyday enjoyable!

29.  I think about this one often – I am incredibly thankful for the experience of getting pregnant, carrying a baby to full-term, and giving birth.  There were many emotional, stressful months during which I wondered if I would even be able to get pregnant.  So I don’t take the pregnancy or the labor and delivery for granted.  I still think back and cherish the days of early pregnancy excitement, constant nausea, feeling my bug kick inside of me, feeling miserable, having painful contractions, laboring for 21 hours, and pushing her out with TJ cheering me on.  I am so thankful I was able to go through the entire experience from start to finish.

30.  This blog.  A little self-indulgent, maybe narcissistic, full of grammatical errors, not always very interesting… but it’s become my outlet.  A form of therapy.  A way for me to do one of my most favorite things – write – while also documenting my life.  And I will forever cherish these days – when my memory becomes a little hazy, and my hair becomes gray, I will always have these words to read when I want to remember…

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!!
Our little turkey :)  (Like her shirt?  Check ouGoat and Lulu on Etsy!)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Longest 45 Minutes of My Life. Twice.

Sometimes, you just gotta let go.  And trust a greater being.  And breathe.  And close your eyes.  And pray like hell.

That’s what happened this morning when we arrived at Brenner’s Children’s Hospital.  Luckily, we were the first ENT surgery of the day, with an arrival time of 6am and a surgery time of 7am.  After check-in, the wait was short before we headed back to the pre-surgery holding area.  We talked to the surgeon for a little while, who was very reassuring and made us feel confident in our decision.  After changing our sweet girl into the littlest hospital gown I’ve ever seen, it was time to meet with the anesthesiologist.  The part I was dreading.

The part where I had to sign my name on a line agreeing to the fact that I understood all of the bad things that could happen to my daughter due to anesthesia.

That’s when I lost it.  I’d held it together all morning, kept a smile on my face, being brave for my girl, telling her we were going on an adventure.

But – well – there’s just something about agreeing to put your child at risk that causes a mama to crumble.

I signed.  I cried.  I sucked it up and put my brave face back on.

They then gave Cameron a drug to calm her down so that she wouldn’t lose it when we handed her off and walked away.  Within about ten minutes, she was acting like I do after about three cocktails.  Happy, smiley, go-with-the-flow, not a care in the world.

We said our prayers, gave hugs and kisses, and then handed Cameron to the anesthesiologist…

And walked away.

And then the clock-watching began.  My heart raced as if I’d just gone for a long, cold winter’s run.  My stomach turned.

I cried.  I prayed.  I browsed Pinterest.  I looked over Facebook.  I prayed.  I cried.

I prayed.

After about 25 minutes, the surgeon came out to tell us that everything went well.  That both ears had actually STILL been full of fluid, and her left ear was actually STILL infected and full of pus, making us even more confident in our decision.  He said it’d be a little while longer before she started waking up, at which point they’d let one person go back to see her in the Pediatric Recovery Room.

This, of course, was the part I was worried about.  Not the cutting a hole in her eardrum.  Not the dropping of a tiny tube into that hole.  But the waking up from being put under.

I cried and prayed some more.

About 20 minutes later, I got the call that one of us could go back.  No words needed to be spoken – it would be me.

I left the waiting room and entered the hallway leading to recovery, and that’s when I heard it.

The unmistakable, ear-piercing, heart-wrenching, high-pitch screams.  Screams I’ve never heard before coming out of my child, but it was definitely her.

When I rounded the corner, a nurse was struggling to keep her contained.  Cameron was struggling to open her eyes as they kept rolling back into her head, and she was thrashing, and arching, and swinging…

And screaming.

Oh the screams – screams that told me she was scared – didn’t know where she was – didn’t feel good – something was hurting – something was weird – she wasn’t herself…

Honest to God, it was like she was possessed.  And I was terrified.

I took her from the nurse and attempted many, many things to try to calm her down, help her come to – I just wanted my girl back.

But nothing worked.

In a flashback I remembered Dr. M telling us that about 5% of babies wake up and are, well, out of their minds.  Not right.  Inconsolable.  Struggle to maintain muscle control.  And that it could take up to an hour to wear off.

And obviously, our sweet Cameron Kate was in that 5%.

Which was fine – I was willing to deal with whatever I needed to as long as it meant she was awake and well.  But I started to get nervous that something was wrong.

Luckily, the nurses called T and let him come back, too.

T – our rock – my better half – her knight in shining armor.  I knew he would help both of us calm down, and that he did.  He was able to control her movements a little better, get her to drink some water, get her to fall back asleep.

I won’t go into all of the details, but it was the second longest 45 minutes of my life I’d ever had – all in one morning.

Eventually, we got her calm enough to be dressed and discharged.  Besides a few more fits of an inconsolable little girl and projectile throw-up in the car on the way home, she was starting to show signs of my sweet Cameron Kate.

And after a few of her favorite snacks, a warm bath, and many hours sleeping to the rhythm of her mom’s and dad’s heartbeats, head on our chests – our little girl is doing just fine.

I’m so glad to be on the other side of this experience.  To watch my little girl live a healthier and happier life.  To hopefully have made a decision that opens up a world of opportunities to her that may not have been available otherwise.

But man – it was tough.
Some Before & After Pics
Post-Surgery Chest Naps... Perfection

Saturday, November 10, 2012


From the minute you find out you’re pregnant, you’re constantly facing decisions concerning the health and well-being of your baby.  For nine neverending months you make decisions about what to register for (Who knew there were so many types of bottles?! Or that something called a Boppy would be a daily necessity?), if you’re going to find out the sex, what kind of nursery to create, how you plan on birthing the baby, what you’ll name the baby, which pediatrician to use, what kind of car seat you’ll need… trust me, the list goes on, and on, and on.

And then your baby is born – and the decisions get even bigger, even harder.  Making that oh-so-difficult decision about your nursery theme seems so minute, so ridiculous.  Because now you’re making the real decisions, the big decisions – like who will take care of your child while you’re a working mama, whether to keep trying to breastfeed or give up and go to formula, whether or not to sleep train, how to begin teaching your baby all about the big, scary world she just entered…

And whether or not to choose surgery in order to try to give your little girl a healthier, happier life.

That’s the decision that has been weighing heavily on our hearts since Cameron’s 12-month checkup, when she had yet another ear infection and we were referred to the ENT.  We knew we needed to wait to see what the ENT suggested, but the weeks leading up to the appointment included lots of conversations between T and me, weighing different scenarios, different options, different what-ifs.

We went to the ENT open-minded and anxious.  Within two minutes of Dr. M examining Cameron’s ears, we learned she had her fifth double ear infection (in six months) and that her hearing was as muffled as it sounds when you stick your fingers in your ears.

When he told us to do just that – stick our fingers in our ears to hear how muffled it sounds – my heart broke and my decision was made.  When I looked over at T’s face, I could tell his was, too.

It was an unspoken understanding.  An instant exchange of glances between the two of us told me that we were both heartbroken that our sweet, wild, nonstop little girl had no clue what the world really sounded like.

So the ear tube surgery is scheduled.  Thursday morning.  And while it is considered a fairly simple procedure, I can tell you there’s nothing simple about handing over your child, your heart, to a team of doctors who are going to put her under anesthesia… and walking away.

I can tell you that I know we’re making the right decision.  I can feel it in my bones after much thought and many prayers.

But I can also tell you that I am sick to my stomach with “what-ifs.”

I cannot wait until it’s all over and done with – a thing of the past – something to check off my proverbial list.

And while there will undoubtedly be many, many more difficult decisions to make as a mom, this one has me sleepless, stressed, and prayerful.

So, if you’re the praying kind, please add our little girl to your list on Thursday morning.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on staying positive and focusing on the end result of our decision -- no more ear infections or weekly alternating doses of antibiotics, and our sweet Cameron Kate having the opportunity to clearly hear all of the joyful noise this world has to offer.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wait for it...

Last week I was meandering through classrooms at the school where I work, observing and enjoying the view from the frontlines.  In one particular classroom, a teacher was giving a math lesson.  She asked a question, and called on a student who eagerly raised his hand.

He spouted out the wrong answer.

The teacher urged him to rethink his answer and rework his math.

Other than his pencil scribbling on his paper, the room was silent.

We waited.  And waited.  And waited.

I wanted SO badly to help him, give him a hint, call out the answer.

But we waited.

And finally...

He got it.

And the teacher moved on to the next problem, and the class went about the rest of their day as usual. 

But I was so affected, by something so minor.

Because the teacher had given this child some wait-time, let him think through the process, given him as much space as he needed, he was able to find success.  Even moreso, the teacher had obviously conditioned her students to this type of practice, as not one student huffed or puffed in frustration at how long it took the little boy to answer, nor did anyone call out the answer.

They waited, too.

Giving students - children - this window of wait-time, this opportunity to take their time to think, explore, try, fail, try again, succeed... is imperative.  And sometimes we're all so consumed with moving on, getting to the next question, checking things off the list - we fail to allow for the awkward silence, the minutes when a child's brain is ticking, connecting, figuring things out.  But, as both educators and parents, it's SO important to do that... let them figure it out without always doing the figuring out for them.

So, remember, when you’re tempted to jump in, and help, and hold their hand, and give them the answer...

Just wait for it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Better late than never, right?

And yes, of course she was a cupcake.