Thursday, March 29, 2012

So much news, So little time

Hey ladies!

I cannot believe it has been a week since I have posted!  It has been insanely busy and I have finally had a moment to catch my breath.

First off, I want to say a big congratulations to Kristin and her hubby on the birth of their son Elliot James on Friday.  Kristin's daughter Stevie was born sleeping in May 2010.  Stevie's story and Kristin's unyielding strength has been a huge inspiration to me so I wanted to make sure I sent her a big WOOHOO!  I cried big, happy tears for her when I saw her post announcing his birth.  This community never ceases to amaze me.  It is so wonderful how you can feel such joy and happiness for someone you have never met in real life. Welcome to the world, Elliot!

Secondly, I need to say a giant thank you to my friend, L.  As you know, Robert and I will be lucky enough to stay in the Ronald McDonald house again for Sully's second surgery.  We are so grateful to them for all the help and support they gave us while we were basically in crisis with the first surgery.  Being able to sleep right in the hospital was so comforting and made it a little easier for me.  I wanted to make sure that we gave back to them as much as we possibly could so I reached out to my amazing friends and family.  I asked anyone and everyone to save poptabs for us.  RMD turns in the poptabs for cash.  Many people don't know this but there is just as much aluminum in the tab as there is in the entire can. It is also easier to collect than a bunch of messy cans.  Tons of my peeps have stepped up, but L and her family in particular, have really just given it all they've got!  They have taken their collection containers to their church and even though we still have a month left, look at their stellar showing:

Is that not the coolest thing you have ever seen?!  My mouth hit the floor when I saw that.  There are so many families that are going to benefit from all these pop tabs.  RMD has done so much for my family; this is the least we can do.  We are also collecting food items, laundry soap, etc for the RMD House as well.  There is a wish list on their website and Robert and I have been purchasing things, little by little.  I am hoping to have a trunk full of donations by the time we go back in May.  :-)

Thirdly, my boys and I survived the nastiest flu on record this past weekend.  On Saturday, Sully was throwing up his entire bottles after he ate them.  I didn't think much of it until it happened a third time, and then the third time was followed by green bile.  Obviously, we went to urgent care and called the Heart Clinic on the way there.  Luckily his cardiologist Dr. V, was on call and he told us to go to the ER instead, in case Sully needed to be admitted.  Now, Sully seemed ok, but this made me really nervous.  I started to cry and we headed over.  Sully James was all smiles and smelling like hurl.  We got to the ER and he didn't have a temp, his O2 sats were great, and he seemed a lot better.  The on call spoke to Dr. V and they ordered blood work, just to be sure.  The stinkin' lab couldn't get enough blood, so they had to stick his heels THREE times.  Mama and Sullivan did not care for that!  He was screaming his head off.  The blood work came back fine so we were found out it was a little GI bug and he should be fine.  We gave him an ounce of food at a time and he was able to hold everything down after that. 
On Sunday night, I started getting bad tummy cramps.  I felt like I may have gotten a touch of food poisoning.  Before I knew it, I was throwing up and having diarrhea.  We put Sully to bed and I went to lay down as well.  I could barely sleep because my stomach hurt so bad and I was constantly in the bathroom.  Around 2am, Robert came upstairs, and he too started to vomit.  OMG.
By 6am we were both in bed, freezing, and dealing with fevers of 103.2.  I have never been that sick in my life.  I called my brother to come feed Sully because I was so afraid I was going to get him sick.  I called the Heart Clinic yet again to make sure he could still drink my breast milk etc.  They assure me that Sully had probably given the sickness to us so he was probably safe.  My legs were so achy I could barely walk.  Robert was throwing throwing up, I was throwing up.  Robert was whining, I was whining.  And then there is my awesome boy.  He must have known Mama and Daddy were hurtin' units because he spent the day being absolutely perfect.  He took lots of naps, played toys, didn't whine a single bit and even went to bet at his normal 7pm time and slept the whole night.  We are so lucky!
It was nice because we already had a cardiology appointment scheduled for Tuesday so he got to get all checked out again. 
As usual, Dr V. said Sully looks fantastic!  I don't think I will ever tire of hearing how well my son is doing and what a great baby he is.  I am definitely proud.  As we were leaving, Dr. V says, "Ok, well we will see in in Minneapolis for pre-op on May 14th."

Wait.. what?

"So, no appointments in April?"  Nope.  Not a single one. No doctor visits.  No shots.  No home nurse.  No cardiologist.  No nothing!  We get to be normal for the entire month of April!  Can you believe it!?  I was so excited.  :-)  Woot! 

Well, I suppose I better actually get some work done today. 

Have a good one!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Things to Remember

I am stealing this idea from Heather because I just love it so much!  There are all these little things that Sully does that I want to make sure that I never forget.  He is only a baby for such a small time, and I don't want things to pass me by.  I wish I could freeze some of these moments and bottle them up, but I guess that a blog is a second best, right?  So, here goes:

1.  Every morning, Sully wakes up happy. No fussing, no crying, just smiles and farts.  I put our noses together, smooch his cheeks and sing the "Good Morning" song.  I love that he is so chipper and happy.  It makes me feel like I am doing the right things in his life.

2.  When I am feeding him, I always hold the bottle with my right hand.  He always reaches up and holds my thumb during feedings.  It is a little thing, but I love that we hold hands. :-)

3.  The moment he was born will go down in the books as the happiest moment of my life.  The minute I heard that beautiful cry, I have never felt such joy.  When I look back and remember the first time I saw him, I still tear up.

4.  Even though I don't like remembering, I can never forget the moment after he was taken from the hospital we delivered at, to the NICU at the adjoining hospital, and he was being prepped for the life flight.  He was on his back and being given IV meds.  Robert looked at me and said, "I have only been able to hold him twice... now what..."  I have never felt such a stabbing pain of grief ever.  Here was my husband, sad and afraid, because he had only been able to snuggle our beautiful boy two times.  Lucky for us, the flight nurse picked up Sully and put him in my husband's arms before whisking him off to the waiting isolette. This memory still causes my heart to break.

5.  Back to happier things, I love the way that we he is in a deep sleep, his bottom lip comes out and sticks out as if to indicate, "Don't mess with me.. I am sleeping."

6.  The first time he gave a big, belly laugh was awesome!  We were in the tub, taking a "tubby" as we call it, and Robert pushed one of his little tug boats towards him and said, "Toot Toot," and Sully gave five huge belly laughs!  It was the best sound ever!  I cried like a little girl!

7.  I still get emotional every time I get to do a "Mom Thing."  Ya know, signing his Christmas present from Mama and Daddy, getting the stuff for his first Easter basket, etc.   I have burst into tears at Target on more than one occasion.

8.  Telling people, "Yea, I gotta leave work and go pick up my son."  Yep.. MY son... I have a son. :-)

9.  I love seeing the joy on his face when he sees me.  Any time I walk into a room, he lights up and smiles.  I can't help but smother him with kisses.  My family always teases me that if kisses were dollars, I would be a millionaire!

10.  His smell.  I know that sounds creepy, but on my first day back at work, I took one of his blankets with me and it smelled just like him.  Ahhh, heaven.

11.  Leaving Children's.  The day that we packed up and left the hospital was so amazing.  Robert pulled up front and we got in.  As we pulled away, I started sobbing.  I looked at his little face, and I knew that all in my life was great and we were on our way home... together.

12.  After weeks of trying, the first time he nursed from me was amazing. He was wearing white teddy bear, newborn sized pajamas.  We were sitting on the bed, and he nursed for 20 minutes. And yes, as you might have guessed, I was crying.

13.  Getting the OK to go out in the world and not live in our germ free bubble at home as we had been for 5 weeks, was awesome.  We went to Bentleyville, saw Santa and walked around, proudly pushing the stroller.

14.  I love being able to get tons of personalized family stuff.  Shutterfly is going to leave me bankrupt.  I have ordered prints for me, a mug for my mom, and now monogrammed thank you cards.  Damn you Shutterfly and your 10% off AND free shipping!  I also bought a purse from ThirtyOne that says, "Sully's Mama"  on it.

15.  I love the way he only wants Mama at nighttime, or when he is upset.  He snuggles right in the crook of my arm, looks up at me with those big blue eyes, sighs falls asleep.  It is the best part of my day.

16.  I love that he jumps around so much in his bouncer, that he ends up falling asleep:

There are a million other things that I will carry with me forever.  I love this little boy more than anything in this entire universe.  As long as I have him and Robert, my life will be the most amazing life ever lived.  I strive to be the best person I can be, just to make sure he is proud of me one day. Sully James, I love you so much.  I am so thankful I am your mama.  Love you Stinky Monster Bear. :-)


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Motivation: Gone

I have zero enthusiasm about working today. It is unseasonably warm here in Northern Minnesota and it is supposed to be in the high 60's and 70's for the rest of the week.  Sully also has his 4 month appointment today and is getting some shots, so I always have anxiety about that.  The only upside is that he is extra snuggly after them so I took the rest of the afternoon off so we can just go home afterwards and snuggle up.

I have more to write about this weekend, but I will do it tomorrow after I find more motivation.  :-)


Thursday, March 15, 2012

27 Years

Beware the Ides of March... because I was  born!  Today is my 27th Birthday.  I know that it doesn't have a 5 or a 0 in it, but I still feel different today.  Maybe not older exactly, but wiser.  I still am in shock to realize that out of the blue, I am closer to 30 than I am to 20. What the heck? 

26 was a stellar year for me.  I am sure 27 will be pretty rad too, but my dreams came true at 26, so how that really be topped, right? :-)
I remember when we got the BFP last March, I thought to myself; "Wow.  I am going to have a three month old on my next birthday!"  Thanks to an early arrival, I have a strikingly handsome four month old, who is always the best birthday present.

I have spent the day at work, and being spoiled by friends, coworkers and family.  They treated me to lunch, we had ice cream and Robert and I are going to spend the evening eating steak Gorgonzola and asparagus and taking a walk in this unusually warm Northern Minnesota weather with our Sully James.  I don't know how the rest of 27 will be, but so far, it is pretty bitchin'. As long as I have my two handsome men, I think I will be just fine.

I will leave you with this picture of Sully. I took it this morning.  It is his time wearing overalls and he is giving me a big birthday smile:

Happy Courtney Day to you all! :-)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dear Sully

Dear Sullivan James,

I cannot believe how fast these four months have flown by.  It seems like just the other day I was running down to the man cave to show your Daddy the BFP.  It seems like minutes ago that I was laying on that operating table, and hearing your big, beautiful cry.  But, it seems like a lifetime ago that we were sitting in our room at Children's waiting for you to go on that big, scary operating table. Time seemed to stand still during those days.  Now they are once again zooming past me and we are gearing up to do that all over again.

I always knew that there was a second surgery coming and that we were kind of living in this state of limbo until then.  The white, Gortex shunt you have now is just a temporary fix and that this surgery would be the actual solution.  I know that it is going to be scary.  And it is probably going to hurt, but I promise I will be there every step of the way.  I promise I will try and be tough for you, but even Mama gets scared too.  I don't want them to have to slice your perfectly healed chest again.  I don't want to see you sedated and intubated again.  I just want this to be over.  I want you to be all better and this state of limbo to be done.

We're tough though, huh buddy?  We have that good, Finnlander stock and we are made of steel. 

I looked at you this morning after your morning bottle, and you were just snoozing away.  I love you so much.  You are the air in my lungs and the reason my heart beats.  You are such an outstanding little boy and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life watching you grow and explore. 

You are four months old today.  These have been the most rewarding and fantastic four months of my life.  I promise to give you these best life I possibly can and make sure you feel loved, appreciated and safe every day I am walking this earth. 

Mama and Daddy love you so much Stinky Monster Bear... :-)

Happy Four Months Pal!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

How much has changed

Lately, I have been dealing with a rash of "busy brain," as we call it in my family.  I just can't seem to shut off my mind.  I am constantly thinking about surgeries, insurance, leaves of absence, grocery shopping, lactation tea, work, birthdays, baptisms, vacations and everything else that could possibly cloud my dome piece.
Then I let my mind wander to the happy place and I think about how absolutely lucky we are.  We have this outstanding little boy who makes my days so bright and worthwhile.  His smile is contagious and he makes me feel like I am the best mom in the world.  I actually physically feel my heart just swell with love and joy for this tooting bundle of baby love!

And to think, this journey started almost a year ago.

On Sunday March 13, 2011, Lily was born to our best friends.  It was a bittersweet day.  We were so happy for them, but still aching inside for a baby of our own.  We visited this sweet, new baby and her beaming parents in the hospital, and left with heavy hearts.  Little did I know, that a mere 13 days later, I would be overjoyed to discover that I too had a bun in the oven.  As if it was some sort of irony, the doctor had even told us that our conception date was Sunday March 13.  Perhaps Lily was our little good luck charm.

Lily is going to be one next week.  ONE.  I cannot believe how incredibly fast this year has whipped by and I am still in shock over how much our lives have changed.  I see our friends with this little girl who has teeth, and she is walking and eating Cheerios like it is her job.  And we are changing diapers, playing patty cake and being the most happy we have ever been.  I have gone from having fancy hair treatments and blow up bath pillows in my tub, to rubber ducks and plastic boats.  I've gone from lacy, under wire bras, to bras that snap open to allow easy pumping access.  We now have a car seat permanently in our car.  I rarely listen to my old Tupac CDs on blast in the car.  I no longer have this bitterness and self loathing that I did when I felt like a reproductive failure.  Instead, my heart is filled with love and hope and gratitude.  We went from a pair, to a trio and I still can't believe we are so lucky.
I can't wait for all the years to come and watch this little boy grow up and be an amazing little person. 

What a difference a year makes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Breastfeeding: The Saga

I have recently joined the Pail Blogroll and the lovely Elphaba thought it would be an awesome idea to have a monthly theme and this month, it is breastfeeding.  I have written a post about low milk supply, but I am kind of excited to share with you my whole breastfeeding debacle.
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed.  I wanted to have that connection with my child.  I wanted to make sure he was getting the best nutrition.  I didn't want him to have processed food.  I wanted that moment of when he was pushed from my loins, for the nurses to triumphantly put my baby on my chest and I would unleash this breast full of sustenance for my offspring and we would gallantly feed until he was a year old.  Of course as we have all learned in the IF community, nothing goes as planned. As you know, Sullivan was born three weeks early via an emergency c-section and then life flighted to Minneapolis for open heart surgery.  Not exactly the loin pushing heart felt moment I had envisioned.

Not exactly in my birth plan.

For the first few days of his life, Sully was receiving IV fluids as food.  Now, when I got to Children's, they gave me a hospital grade pump to use while I was there to pump the colostrum and freeze it so I could give it to Sully after the surgery and so on.  I was a pumping fool.  I barely got anything the first few times and I think it is because I didn't really know how to use the pump properly.  The lactation consultant at the hospital I delivered at was a complete waste of space and the pump she brought me was from the 1970's.  I was glad I got some advice from Sully's admitting nurse, but I was almost embarrassed to ask questions because I felt like I should know this stuff.  I remember sitting in our room at the Ronald McDonald house and crying the first time I actually saw milk being pumped out.  I felt like I had just stormed the beaches at Normandy and taken on a 500 person army single handedly and won.  I put a label on it and actually looked forward to pumping again in two hours. 
When Sully was 4 days old, I was able to try and give him a bottle.  They knew I wanted to nurse, but it was more important to have Sully to learn how to eat and even though I was bummed, he was more important.  The first bottle they gave him was Pedialyte.  He took to it immediately and I was so proud.  They told us that most babies have to stay in the hospital longer because they don't know how to eat, but Sully was a champ.  In fact, he did so well, that for his next feeding, they put my breast milk in his nasal gastric tube.  We alternated feedings in the NG tube and my breast milk in a bottle for about a day. They we strictly bottled him and he was a pro.  He ate and ounce and a half on day 6.  It was such a relief.  The nurses knew how important it was for me to pump and to have breast milk for Sully so they wrote a prescription for a high grade breast pump so my insurance would cover the cost. SCORE! 

The only downside was that cardiac infants sometimes have a hard time gaining weight, so as we were planning our departure from the hospital, we were told that we would have to supplement Sullivan's formula.  Breast milk contains 20 calories per ounce.  In order to ensure weight gain, we had to add a few teaspoons of formula to make the milk that he was drinking, 24 calories an ounce.  It added up to 3 teaspoons of formula per 8 ounces of breast milk.  We were released from the hospital 6 days post op, when Sully was 9 days old.
Sully was putting on weight amazingly and we were able to stop the supplement and just go to straight breast milk.  I bawled like a baby that day.  It was what I had always wanted.  We had been trying to put Sully to breast because we were told that there was a chance he would nurse, but that it was slim because he had to be bottled right away and he didn't get to eat for the the first 4 days of his life.  I tried and tried but Sully would latch, give a few sucks and then get frustrated and just want to eat.  Sometimes I would get really lucky, and he would nurse for two minutes.  Those were huge victories.  One time, he even nursed for 20 minutes and was satisfied for TWO WHOLE hours!  I called my mom and cried and jumped up and down and even put a picture on facebook about our accomplishment.  I continued to try and nurse, but eventually, Sullivan just was like, "Forget this.  I am hungry.  Bring on the bottle."  As bummed as I was to have to stop nursing, I was still happy that he was getting breast milk because I was a pumping fool.  I was able to keep up with his needs and I was happy about that.  I didn't have a huge supply and only four bottles in the stock pile in the freezer, but I didn't think that was too shabby.

Cut to me going back to work.

Sully is four months old now and drinks four ounce bottles.  What can I say, he is an oinker.  The first day of daycare, I had pulled some bottles out of the freezer and freshly pumped ones and sent five of his four ounce bottles to daycare. After a few days, we realized he drank 3-4 bottles at daycare and that was all I needed to send. I started to realize that my lower supply was starting to be a problem now.  I was barely making enough to send to daycare and for him to eat at home.  One night, we ran out of breast milk completely.  My boobs were dry, it was 2am and Sully was screaming for food.  Through a face full of tears, I made a straight formula bottle.  I sobbed as I tried to feed it to him and he flat out refused.  He wouldn't take it.  Robert tried.  I tried.  I tried to nurse him.  Nothing.  I tried pumping again and barely squeezed out 2 ounces.  Luckily, he ate that and wore himself out. 

I tried taking the Fenugreek, but all that did was give me horrible gas.  I am also drinking the Mother's Milk tea and that seems to be helping.  I am also pumping 8 times a day, Yep, 8 times.  Including four freakin' times at work.  It is pretty awesome.  I have been able to send enough milk to daycare and for at home, but every once in a while, I have to make him a half and half bottle of 2 ounces breast milk and 2 ounces formula so I can catch up on my supply.  I used to get really down on myself when I had to do that and cry and feel like a failure, but I just can't do that.  Sully is eating, he is still getting just breast milk 90% of the time and I am doing the best I can.  That is really the only thing us mamas can do;  the best we can.  We try with all we got and sometimes, things don't work out the way we want. 

Hang in there everyone; the saga continues....


Monday, March 5, 2012

And the walls, come tumbling down

At what point do you stop the incessant worrying?

When I finally got pregnant with Sully, I was so worried that something was going to go wrong, that I barely ever relaxed.  It didn't help that we had a placental abruption at 9 weeks and I was bleeding bright, red blood.  I was frightened.  After that point, I practically stared at the toilet paper every time I went. Every twinge made me panic, every lull in movement sent my brain to the dark place. 
Everyone kept saying that the worry would go away once he was born, and for the first day, it did.  Then of course his heart was not working, he was life flighted, there was open heart surgery; you know the rest.
Now, I am constantly checking to make sure he's breathing/moving/laughing/pooping etc at night.  I don't want to spend my life in a constant panic and dread, but I don't know how to stop myself.  I don't know what I would do with myself if he wasn't in my life.  He is the reason my heart beats.  He is the reason I inhale and exhale.  He is the reason I am still on this planet. I want nothing more than to be the most amazing mama, provider and friend that he could ask for.  I want him to look back at me when he is an adult and feel like he had the best life.

So, when will the worrying subside?  When will the pull at my heart stop?  Does it ever stop?  You worry about your kids for the rest of your life, but will it always be daily and so severe?  I realize that these are extreme circumstances because he has a piece of Gortex passing blood to his lungs; but I am praying and hoping that after this second surgery, I can finally take a big breath. Maybe I just need some reassurance and hugs right now.  I am not usually needy, but I guess I am just not at 100% today.
Thankfully, I have the best reason ever to smile:

My big boy! He is 16 weeks old today!  And in 6 month clothes!  He is growing so fast!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snow Day!

Gotta love living in Minnesota.  Yesterday, we got a whoopin' of snow.  We were pummeled with about a foot of blowing snow.  The winds were howling at 50 mph and the roads weren't fit to travel.  Lucky for Robert and I, both of our offices were closed.  I was so excited to spend a day at home in my jammies with my amazing boys!
Sully seemed to be confused, as this was not our normal morning routine to just stay in our lounging duds and snuggle.  He was very happy about it though!  We threw some meatballs in the crock pot, tuned on some tunes and had a good, old fashioned snow day.  Robert and I put Sully in his Bumbo and he played with toys while I massacred Robert in Scrabble and Sequence.  We watched Netflix, read books, napped and played.  The weather was roaring outside, but it didn't bother us one bit.  We hunkered into fuzzy blanket and sipped hot cocoa.  It was a much needed relaxation day.  The mall closed and our public buses even stopped running.  It was pretty insane!
Here is a cute little pic of my happy boy:

He is adorable beyond words!

After our family day o' fun, it was time for Mr. Sully to take a tubby.  I decided to just get in with him and make it a quick bath.  Well, as soon as Robert and I started playing with him and his boats, he let out his first, real belly laugh!  I couldn't believe it!  He just kept laughing, hard at the tug boats.  Before I knew it, I was a blubbering mess.  Hahah!  It was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard!  We ended up playing in the bath for a half hour and having a blast.  Also, Sully is growing so big and strong that he is now in some 6 month clothes.  I am amazed how fast my little mister is growing!

Another stellar fact, my birthday is in two weeks and I am jazzed about it.  I have a lot to be thankful for and I am looking forward to a great day.  Robert always tries to surprise me on birthdays and holidays, but I always ended up finding out what it is and then nothing is ever a surprise.  In reality, my husband sucks at being sneaky so it doesn't take a super sleuth to figure out his plans.  This birthday was different!  He came home the other night and said he had a surprise for me.  I thought it was weird that he was giving me my birthday gift so early, but he said he wanted to make sure I was surprised.  You can imagine my even more shocked-ness when he handed me a bag from a jewelry store.  When I opened the standard velvet box, I was happy to discover another wedding band!  I have always wanted a second wedding band.  My first wedding band has diamonds on it, but I am not a huge fan of it.  We bought it because it was on sale and he had spent so much on my engagement ring (which I love!)  This was just a plain, thick band that I wanted.  I was one happy lady.  Something on this inside of the band, caught my eye.  My amazing husband had "Sullivan James" engraved inside!  Oh yes, there was many happy tears shed!  I am so pleased to peaches!  I have a feeling that this may be my best birthday ever!  Year 27, here I come!


P.S.  Notice the new PAIL button!?  I can't believe I was able to install a gadget.  I feel so tech savvy!