Friday, January 11, 2013

A Happy Christmas Surprise

We have had an amazing last few months!

Kenny graduated from college
We went on a trip around Europe
Jake is learning to walk and doing well
We were able to get a car
and... as everyone now knows... I'm knocked up!

Oh it's funny how the Lord has timing and a plan all his own. But I guess a part of me felt like this could happen. As you could see from my last blog post, when to have our next child has kind of been plaguing my mind. I didn't feel ready, and I didn't feel like I would feel ready in a year, or maybe ever, but I have known that it would be great for Jake to have a sibling one day. I just didn't think it would be so soon! God knows I probably would never have been ready to try on my own.

During Thanksgiving at my parent's house I wasn't totally feeling myself, which I chalked up to my normal crazy hormones. We just didn't think this would happen. I've been taking good care to prevent pregnancy for the last 2 years, and mother nature hasn't visited me (if you know what I mean )  in who knows how long! Considering that it took a year to get pregnant after using birth control methods the first time, I thought it basically impossible! Sure, it's a bit my fault, but I wasn't hardly careless at all. Anyway, I didn't even suspect anything until two weeks before we left for Europe. I was just feeling horrible, and I started noticing symptoms that I only remember getting when I was pregnant with Jake. Crap.

I ran to the store, got a pregnancy test, and yep... that positive sign popped up REAL quick! But of course, because of the past, I wasn't counting my little chicken just yet. We went to the doctor a few days later, and there it was, wriggling inside of me and with a heartbeat and all! I was about 9 weeks. It's kind of nice not knowing until I'm that far along though. It has made everything go by pretty quickly.

So now you're thinking, "That crazy lady just went to 5 countries in two weeks, with a baby and in her first trimester!" Yep, I sure did! Oh boy it wasn't easy, but it was pretty awesome. If I said I got a lot of exercise that would probably be an understatement. We walked EVERYWHERE, and carried the stroller. I'm talking up and down flights of stairs which are EVERYWHERE, on and off subways and buses, through castles, you name it. Pretty much the whole time I thought, "well, if this doesn't cause me to have a miscarriage, nothing will!" And somehow, the little peanut survived it all! (I mean Alford) The morning sickness hasn't been fun to deal with either and with all the new smells and different food, my stomach was churning quite a bit. I managed not to throw up the entire trip somehow, and even after eating some sketchy food a couple times, I didn't get sick. (In Italy, they don't fully cook their ham or bacon, which I learned to my dismay more than once.)

Here we are in Bath, England at the Roman baths: ruins of a Roman temple/bath

I'm finally feeling like this is actually happening and starting to accept it. I'm a bit nervous about having a 2 year old who is more on the level of a 1 year old who also has medical problems to look out for, and a newborn too. But oh so obviously, it was God's plan. There's nothing else to call this but another miracle. I just can't believe how easy it's been this time. It's weird!

It will be great for Jake to have a buddy though. Whether it's a boy or girl, I do believe the Lord is sending the perfect sibling to help him. I think they can help each other quite a bit in the coming years. I really believe  that there's no way this could have been an accident. God always knows what he's doing, and so again, I just need to accept his plan. I keep thinking, if God was going to send me something that was going to be difficult and unexpected, I'm so glad it's a new baby instead of a medical problem of some kind, you know? And this baby looks to be 100% healthy so far.

I AM high risk, mostly because of the C-section I had before. I'll get more ultrasounds, and the doctor will be a little more thorough than his usually is. I'm a bit nervous to have another C-section. They may have to do the vertical cut again, which wouldn't be the best because it weakens everything so much, but the doctor said he may be able to do a regular cut if things look good at the time of surgery! I'm really hoping for a regular c-section. Either way, they should not have to cut me nearly as much as they did last time so my recovery will probably be easier with any luck. I'm just praying for a normal pregnancy experience for once!

I'm drawing a lot of strength from my husband, my family, and everyone around me. Everybody seems to think that I can do it, which makes me feel so much more confident! Jake is taking off at rates we thought impossible before, and now I believe part of the purpose we've been so blessed with Jake is because he wanted to send us another, and who knows how many? I know the Lord always provides a way. It won't be easy, but I'm really getting excited to have another baby now. The first few weeks I wasn't so excited, but now things are getting easier to accept. And really, it's a HUGE blessing! There was a day when I prayed and prayed to be pregnant, and many women still do. I am thankful!

So here we go again!!! July 18th is the date, but I cannot be allowed to go into labor because of risk of uterine rupture (again thanks to the zipper that was put in up to my belly button) so I will hopefully make it a week before that and not go into early labor. That about sums everything up!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Too Many "Lasts"

Oh how the days fly by...

Anyone who is reading this probably saw my Facebook link to this article from the Huffington Post:

If you didn't read it, you should. I bawled my eyes out, and now I'm feeling rather nostalgic.

I started looking through Jake's pictures and for some reason this one made me really tear up, next to the pictures of me holding my little one in the hospital for the first time when he was 2 days old.

I have many friends and family having babies and so babies have been on the brain a little bit... and lots of memories. I guess I'm also getting teary-eyed because my little boy is finally growing up: and he's doing it quickly. For so long he aged, but he was still such a baby because he couldn't do the things other kids his age could. It has been bittersweet in that it has kept him a baby for longer (I've gotten to baby him longer) but he has been behind developmentally and some days that is a hard thing. Now I see the beginning of a new phase... a more independent one. Jake is not so much a baby anymore.

Being a parent is so happy, and so painful at the same time.

These days were the happiest, yet also the most dreadful days of my life. I cried at the moment when Jake was born because I was finally a mommy, something I had prayed for all my life. At the same time I remember telling my mom that I was glad Jake had to stay in the NICU for a while... things were just too difficult to process. Every day for three weeks as I trudged through the 4th floor of Texas Children's Hospital, back bent over in pain to go see the little sick one, I wondered what life-changing news I would get that day. Whether it was good or bad, it was all life-changing. 

At the time I couldn't wait to move past that moment. I wondered if my life would ever feel normal again. Everything felt clumsy, awkward, and there was always something to worry about if I wanted to. Even after the hospital, the first year of Jake's life, I feel as if I've been a little caught-up in moving on to the next thing so that he is not too far behind his baby friends and future peers. 

Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have slowed down a little more to enjoy the moments. The first picture I posted, where Jake is smiling, and chubby... I miss that. I also don't miss all the worry I still carried around. He was still struggling quite a bit at that time. It's a little easier to put my mind at ease these days. 

But look how fast time has flown! Saturday, Jake just learned how to crawl. He has learned how to pull up on furniture, cruise around, and crawl all in a matter of a couple months. He has had many "lasts" as well as "firsts". This has marked a new era in our lives with Jake because he is now moving from baby to toddler.

I miss sometimes how he used to just stay put in one place. Up until Friday he rolled everywhere to get where he wanted to go, and now I just realized I'm going to miss that. I'm so excited he's crawling now! It's going to help him with everything. But I also just realized that before I know it, he will be 2, then 3, then 18.

One interesting story I don't want to ever forget: 

Monday on our way out to dinner at a friend's house, a neighbor of ours was walking home from the store or somewhere. Cute, little older black woman with the best Southern Accent. We had never talked before but she was friendly as could be. She stopped and smiled at Jake and said, "Well, hello! Look at you, how are you doin?" I told her his name was Jacob.  She said, "You know what I was just thinking of? I was just writing in my journal about Issac and Sarah in the Bible. You know, they prayed to God for a child for a very long time. They kept trying and trying, and finally they had to bring in another woman and she had Ishmael. Finally Sarah was able to have a son and it was Jacob. Now, you know they were promised a large posterity but God didn't fulfill it in the way they thought he would. They had to wait for Jacob. Jacob was the promise". 

I almost started crying. This complete stranger, out of nowhere, seemed to know exactly what I needed to hear. This bible story I had not before applied to us, but it goes perfectly for Jake. God has not fulfilled things the way we thought he would, and we had to try and wait, but Jacob has been our promise and even better than we could have imagined. 

Well, I got sidetracked, but my main point is this: our Hydrocephalus life is transforming quicker than I had ever thought. The first year was so full of chaos and hard, hard work and I am surprised that the worry and the hours of moving Jake's arms and legs and putting him into equipment, are tapering off because Jake is becoming so independent so quickly. I wish I could go back to my terrified self holding my sick, deformed (but beautiful) baby and tell her to cherish the quiet moments. The coos, the 3 A.M. feedings, and even the times when Jake could not even hold his head up and all I wanted was to be able to hold my baby without five pillows and with some comfort for both of us. The truth is, it was only a short time and now those moments are gone forever. 

Every day I try to remind myself to sink into these moments when we are happy, oh so happy, and healthy and safe. Not every day will be that way, but for today, I am so thankful for the blessing of a quiet day with my little boy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

An Update on Life

This is how Jake likes it. He likes to be on the ground, rolling around to get his toys and books. I remember working so hard on trying to get him to roll for months and months. Finally, he's an expert roller and he can get anywhere he wants. So then what do his therapists say? That he needs to be up! 90% of babies Jake's age are walking experts, so since he's not crawling (more like, refusing to work on crawling and fighting me when I try) he needs to be up.

I'll admit I've been taking a bit of a break from therapy lately. Not completely, but I haven't been as dilligent as I should be because we've both been burned out. It's a major workout and fight every time! But I'm getting back on it and we're going strong from here on out. If we want Jake to walk within the next year, no more breaks. We've been doing the stander for 35-40 minutes a couple times a day, his bouncer with and without leg braces (just a regular old bouncer!), working on sitting to standing, and some arm exercises on the exercise ball. Well, obviously there's always more but that's the main list.

We've been taking Jake out for swimming, which he thinks is pretty fun. He loves Grandma and Grandpa's pool. The water is good for his muscles. There's even "water therapy" that we may look into a some point. For now, we just do whatever mom thinks of which is usually just standing on the step in the pool and kicking around in the water.

New with me and Kenny?

Well, I'm so proud of Kenny. He just finished a semester of 18 credits, which means, after one class in the summer and another semester in the fall, he GRADUATES!!

Also, he has gone on a "diet", which is really just a lifestyle change from being unhealthy to healthy mostly based on the foods he eats and he has lost around 25 lbs! He looks great! He's been working very hard and sticking to his goals.

With me, Kenny being healthy has inspired me to be healthier. I have really been struggling since Jake was born with feeling good and having energy. So this week I started an exercise routine and seriously folks, it's like a complete turn-around already! Several days this week I didn't even need a nap when usually I feel like I'm going to die if I don't get a nap or two. I put Jake in his stander or bouncer in the morning while I workout so we both get our workout at the same time and I love having productive mornings. I'm really gaining a testimony of exercise! I used to be super fit, and exercise all the time and I really want to get back to that. I feel so much better. I have energy, I eat healthier when I workout, and I'm happier throughout the day. Usually I think "oh I don't know if I want to do this this morning" but then I remember how good I felt the day before and just don't think about it and put on the DVD. I hope I never quit!

Here are some pictures when we went to our friend's house for baby pool time. They have a little boy 3 weeks older than Jake, although I always forget that because their little boy runs around everywhere and so seems much older. In the first one, Jake was being super lazy and didn't want to sit up, silly boy! Again, getting back into therapy will help with him feeling tired too. As I exercise I realize how important it is for him too so that he can do the simple things in life we all take for granted.

Oh yeah, and Jake has a hernia, which you all probably read about on Facebook. It's not a bad surgery, and he'll do fine. It just seems like it's neverending with him and I just feel bad because he's developing a real fear of doctors. Unfortunately, doctors, hospitals, and needles will always be a major part of his life but he's a strong boy.

Oh yeah, my couponing is going really well. We've been able to save a TON of money. This month we had a couple hundred extra dollars that usually aren't there at the end of the month. I've been able to get so many things for free or almost free, it's amazing and I frequently wonder why I didn't do it before. A huge part of it is not only learning to use coupons but learning how to shop and not just give your money out that you could have saved. It's a fun hobby :)
Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Such is Life

So you know when everything seems to come at you all at once? I think everyone has had those moments. Saturday night I was thinking about how everything in my life seemed to be going so wonderfully and I think the universe heard me, and decided to rear its head our way to keep us on our toes.

I don't have any pictures for this post, which makes it more boring to read (at least in my book) but I did not have a camera with me.

Monday morning Jake woke up with a fever. I kept him on meds which seemed to be controlling it ok until that afternoon. Around 3:00 when I checked his temperature it was about 102 and luckily Kenny was home so we decided to take him to the emergency room. When we got there the waiting room was full so we got in line. Grandma Gina was there holding the baby. After about 30 minutes of sitting there waiting she looked over at me and said, " Ummm... he's staring to twitch...I think he's having a seizure". I walked over to the desk, told them, and they sent someone immediately. By the time we got him into the room he was completely unconscious, eyes rolled back into his head and his whole body was convulsing. They rolled him onto his side and got oxygen started. His skin was all blotchy.the temperature they took read 103.8. There wasn't anything anyone could do but wait for it to be over. We waited, and we waited. I said to the doctor,"This has been going on a long time, hasn't it?" She said,"Well it always seems longer than it really is. Its only been about 5 minutes." I thought ok, I'll just wait some more. We waited 5 more minutes. He was still convulsing. So they gave him a dose of seizure medicine. Another 3 minutes, still nothing. I was holding back tears trying to watch. Luckily I'm always halfway prepared for these kinds of things to happen at any moment. Realistically I know that medical issues could crop up any day with him. I managed to hold it together for the most part and after a second dose of seizure medicine, Jake's seizure finally ended after 15 minutes. 15 minutes! I'm so glad we were not at home.

They told me he would be in a quiet, drugged state afterwards because the dose of medicine they had given him was a dose for a much bigger person so it may take him a while to come out of it. He was conscious, but unaware of his surroundings. Sometimes you just couldn't tell if he was awake or not.

We told the doctor that his cousin had come in Saturday with a very high fever and they had been together all weekend. But Jake is a complicated case. The doctor said,"Well if he didn't have a shunt I can tell you we would probably just wait for his fever to go down and send him home. But we have to check out the shunt to make sure it's working." What does that mean you may ask? A CAT scan,   x-rays, probably 5 or 6 IV sticks, 3 blood draws, and hospitalization. Not to mention our first ride in an ambulance. I was a bit disappointed they didn't turn on the lights and speed down the highway, it was a little anti-climatic.

Since we got to the hospital at night and we had to stay at least 24 hours, we had to stay for two nights. I just cannot tell you how horrible I felt for Jake. Especially the first day it was someone coming in and poking jake with needles every few hours at least. He's a very hard stick so he had to get poked over and over and they kept digging was so sad to have to hold him down when he has no idea why and he's just screaming and crying. They finally got an IV in him and during the night it somehow got occluded and his arm puffed up like a marshmallow and was leaking the rest of the night. They took it out and thank goodness they didn't put another one in.

The good news was that his scan looked good and none of the surgeons thought it was a shunt issue.

So things were going good, and then I get a call at 11 the second night. It was Kenny, and apparently our bank account got hacked into and someone stole 300 dollars. Awesome. Perfect timing. I managed to fall asleep.

Not for long. 2 am the doctor wakes me up, "Um... One of the blood cultures we got is growing some kind of bacteria, so we have to take ANOTHER sample and grow it to make sure it's not a blood infection." Jake is sound asleep and of course they have to get it right at that moment. So on goes the super bright light above his head and there's 3 people holding him down and sticking needles in him. What a way to get woken up right? I felt horrible. Also we've been informed it may be another 2 days until we're allowed to go home. At this point neither Jake or I have gotten more than 3 hours of sleep in a row, so that was great news. Not.

Ok, I'll skip ahead. Long story short, the blood sample was just contaminated and they let us go home Wednesday evening. Yay! Jake is back to normal, but we do have to watch him. Apparently some kids tend to get seizures when they get sick between ages 12 months to 6 years old, even sometimes without a fever. They don't know if maybe his hydrocephalus could predispose him to getting them easier but we just have to watch him every time he gets sick. They said hopefully it won't happen again, but it could.

The thing is, when Jake gets sick it's a whole different ball game. What I don't like is that he already has to have a CAT scan or MRI every year of his life. Do you know how much radiation those things put out? And right onto your brain too. All this is accumulative over his lifetime. We don't need extra reasons for him to get more scans if we can avoid it.

What have I learned? I'm going to be much more proactive about not letting Jake put his mouth on certain things and making sure I know if kids around him have been sick and trying to avoid their germs. There may be only so much I can do but I'm going to try. It's so unfair to him if I just let him do whatever and then he has to go through this again when it's not an actual shunt failure. Yeah, I'm upset. At myself, and at people who don't keep their kids home when they're sick. Seriously I don't know why people don't keep their kids home when they're sick!! (My nephew got it from someone else and it didn't show until Saturday. By then it was too late for Jake.)

The cherry on top of the ice cream this week? Finding put that my brother was in a huge car accident today and the car rolled twice. No seriously, it's good news because he wasn't hurt at all. But what did I say about the universe kicking our butts this week? I'm kind of scared because the week isn't over yet... bahaha

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Ok so although I still have some deals I would like to take advantage of this week, I thought it would be fun to post my Target run. It's going to help motivate me to keep going too I think.

I forgot to include in this picture two Aquafresh Training Toothpaste tubes that I got for the babe.

It wasn't the best ever, but I managed to get all this for only $21.83. Again, not that great because I had to buy the staples, the bananas, the deoderant, the paper towels and the juice at full price because we needed them and Kenny likes that certain kind of deoderant.

But I did get these good deals with coupons:

The Zyrtec (5ct) was 4.76 each but I had four coupons for 4.00 off 1. So I got $19.04 in Zyrtec for $3.04.

The pasta and pasta sauce was on sale, when you buy both (.89 and 1.00) you get 1.00 off. So I got both for .89 cents.

The Aquafresh kids toothpaste was 2.69 (not pictured) but I had 2 coupons for $1 off so they were only 1.69 a piece. Not the greatest price ever, but we needed it.

The paper towels were only .99 each, and the turkey breast was on sale for .99/lb so that was 5.74 which I thought was a pretty good price.

All in all, even though it wasn't fantastic, I still saved 26.16, which is over 50% of my grocery bill. The Zyrtec was definitely my best deal.

Whenever I get to checkout I get pretty nervous because I'm always afraid the person is going to accuse me of not using my coupons correctly and deny me. So I always scout out someone who looks nice. Today I totally scored with my cashier and so did she. She was nice, but also very good... she definitely pinned me for a couponer which was good (because she didn't blink twice at my coupons and she knew how to scan them correctly) but also good for her (because she convinced me to sign up for something in order to save even more and get more coupons). Smart lady...

Anyway, as I get better at this, create and stock my coupon binder, create and stock a small stockpile of basics (because we're a small family) I should be able to lower my weekly cost of groceries! It's kinda fun.. like a puzzle. I'm just glad I have some blogs to follow or I'd be completely lost. I've read from them that you have to put a little bit of money in at the beginning, like setting a weekly stockpile budget, but that you end up stretching your dollar really far in the end. I just hope I don't burn out and give up before I figure out what I'm doing!

P.S. Michelle, I REALLY wish we were neighbors so we could figure this out and do it together. Then I wouldn't get so sweaty during checkout, haha.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Some Really Cute Easter Pics.. And Extreme Couponing!

I just had to share some of these Easter pictures we got of Jake. We did a little Easter egg hunt with the three little boys, but Jake didn't really get it. He just wanted to put everything in his mouth. Still, it was extremely adorable. Take a look:

I am for sure printing off some of these to hang up!

In the meantime, I am learning the ropes of COUPONING! Have you ever seen EXTREME COUPONING on TLC? At first I thought coupons were for people off their rockers, BUT- I don't know what it is... the rising cost of food, the increasing bills, that has made me take an interest in couponing and I am trying to teach myself. I have found some great couponing blogs to follow.

I looked a bit like a freak walking out of CVS with 4 newspapers, and I already have an associate there that hates my guts because I'm a crazy couponer. But what can I say? I've already saved some major moolah on things (even gotten things for FREE!) and I haven't even scratched the surface of couponing really. It obviously takes guts and practice, but I'm willing when I see those amazing deals pop up. I also think it will be a great way to have a year's supply. I'm even making a huge coupon binder that I can take to the store so everyone can stare at me.

We just found out we are taking a trip to EUROPE later this year, so of course I'm even more motivated to save up some spending money.


We'll see if it was worth it this week, but I think it will be. I already have some FREE deals I'm planning on going for.

(Stay tuned for my deals post: I'll show you what I got, and how much I paid! Hopefully it'll be good)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Equipment and Therapy

IT Finally Came!!!

The long awaited stander finally came and we were so excited! (Me especially) We had been practicing standing in his braces on the floor in preparation for the stander. The braces help stabilize his legs and give him the support he needs to figure out how to stand and get used to the weight through his legs.

What I didn't realize (and wouldn't have if it weren't for our lovely therapists) is that children have to get used to the pressure of their body weight and gravity through their legs, knees, and feet before they can walk. This pressure is also very important for growth and development for bones, muscles, and joints. Not only is the standing good for physical development, but cognition as well, as is the case with any movement. Movement = cognition = movement. So you see why this is so important.

The goal is to work up to about 3 hours per day (1 hour at a time) in the stander unless he gets so good at standing that he can do it that often on his own without the stander's help. We'll see how things go.

It took me a couple times of working it over to figure out how to use this contraption, but I daresay it's a handy dandy thing. One I'm so grateful exists! We have really only been using the stander for about a week, and already we have seen changes in the way Jake responds to weight-bearing.

We have had a couple set we are trying to work out currently. His skin is so sensitive that the weight through his legs and through the braces causes his heels to turn bright red after about 5 minutes in the stander. So we've been doing about 5 minutes at a time multiple times a day. The only thing is that he keeps getting a little red spot here and there that won't go away after about an hour which is a bad sign. If we kept on going without addressing the issue it would cause a blister, which would cause us to not be able to use the stander for a very long time until it healed, which would cause slowed progress with the standing. And so I have to figure out a way to get over to the orthodic place and get his braces adjusted without a car to drive.

We usually do bubble time in the stander. He's very curious about bubbles.

Speaking of bubbles, Jake also got a bath chair! This has worked WONDERS in the bathing department. Before we got this I used the swimming noodle (located in right upper corner of photo) and we put it under his head and he just laid flat in the tub. It worked, but   A. how uncomfortable would that be?   B. He couldn't play with his toys or see the water, and I think being upright is so good for the cognition.

The bath chair we originally got, Jake was much too advanced for. We ordered it right before he learned how to sit up, so the whole thing lays down and has about 5 straps on it. It's also so high you would need a spray nozzle to bathe the child, and I don't have one. So I gave that one to Jake's physical therapist to pass on to a family who needs it and she gave me this one that was in her office from another family.

It works pretty great!! I don't know if he could tolerate it for a long period of time just because the strap can dig in and if I loosen it then he tries to propel himself backwards to lay down and gets caught... so I have to tighten the strap pretty tight and if he flings himself backwards I just try to get him to sit as straight as possible again. At the end of the day he's tired of holding his head up so he tries to lay down as much as possible.

But how cute does he look? And so grown up when he sits and stands.

Here is a video of Jake crawling during therapy. We are trying to teach him to move his arms and legs correctly, and trying to build his strength in his arms and neck. The hand and knee position is also very good for his hand development, again because of the weight-bearing. Oh the things I never would have thought of! I quite enjoy being a therapy mom overall, even though I obviously have my days, because I feel as if I'm getting an education at home. I someday want to go back to school, but I'm highly interested in the human body now and would love to do something with therapy or nutrition.

Anyway, I digress.

Enjoy the video! I hope it works right