Sunday, November 29, 2009

Better Late than Never

What I am thankful for - in no particular order except the first one:

1. My boys: Chad especially for being a great Dad and husband, Gavin and Sam for teaching me that miracles happen and to expect the unexpected.

2. Volunteering: I've given of my money in the past; this year I have started giving my time. It's blessing my life in more ways than I thought possible. It's really true that you get back so much more than you give.

3. My family and friends

4. My job

5. Great Kindergarten teachers

6. An unseasonably warm fall

7. Our new ENT who actually listens to me

8. Hospitals like Blank all over the world that are healing babies and children and putting them back in the arms of their parents.

9. Neonatologists and NICU nurses

10. Google

11. Blackberry phones

12. Sunday night ABC line up - just what I need before starting another week!

I could go on. I love this time of year because I do take the time to reflect and be thankful for the great things that are in my life. There's a lot. It's not perfect, and it hasn't always been easy, but we've got it pretty darn good.


Gavin's due date. It's so strange to me how the course of his life may be altered due to his prematurity....I mean, besides the health stuff directly related to preemie-ness...the other stuff like:

Had Gavin been born on 11.27.04 he:

Would not be in Kindergarten this year. He would be bored out of his mind in another year of day care.

Would not spend all weekend running back and forth to Arushi's house, as he would not have met her in Kindergarten.

Would have been one of the oldest instead of youngest in his class. Who knows what impact this will have on learning and sports in years to come.

Will have different friends, will date different girls, have different teachers, all because he was born 3 months early.

It's strange to this about what impact this will have. Will he go to a different college? Choose a different major? Marry a different girl?

Yes, it's all a bit Sliding Doors to think about. But since I fully believe life works out the way it's supposed to, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Update: School, clothing sizes, and other stuff

I can't believe it's been a week since the last post! It's been a BUSY week....see post below for what I have been up to!

We had our first conferences on Monday! His teacher was so proud of all the progress he has made so far....some of the issues with focus and not being able to sit still are gone. No more carpet rolling! They rate different areas on a scale of 1 - 4. 1 meaning there are some concerns, 2 means we're not quite there, but making good progress, 3 is right on, and 4 is exceeding expectations. Gavin got mostly 2's and 3's and even a 4! No 1's which means he is doing great. And she really thought on some of the 2's he actually was at a 3 but was having a focus problem at that particular time of assessment. So overall, great news, and especially great is that he's just making so much progress. Every day I see him wanting to learn. Sunday night we were reading and came across the word "jet" and he said, "no, wait, I want to read it" and sounded it out! Most of their reading right now comes from sight words and visual cues, so it was so exciting for him to sound out a word! And did you know a diamond shape is no longer a diamond, it's a rhombus. That's what the teacher told us the new math curriculum calls for.

Speaking of school, last Friday I volunteered in his classroom and had so much fun! It was neat to see what they actually do...when I got there they were dancing on the carpet while some kids were finishing up making birthday cards for the teaching assistant. Then they went back to the desks and did some exercises to a letter sounds song. No wonder he has been sleeping so well!

Gavin has been so hungry lately and eats all the time. I swear he gets taller every day. For those buying clothes for Christmas, he's in a size 7 shirt and a 6 pant. Size 13 or 1 in shoes.

Crawling, pulling up on everything, and starting to tentatively cruise. He is one crazy boy, and he is into everything. Babyproofing was invented for this child, I'm telling you. He has also been eating a ton of food and is growing like a champ...around 23 pounds now and 12 month clothes are getting short. So if anyone is buying clothes, we'll be in 18 month size soon.

He started doing "so big" and is shaking his head no, he'll do it when I tell him no, and also in our bedroom there is an extra cable outlet on the wall that we always tell him no when we tries to touch it. So now he'll crawl over and look at it and start shaking his head no himself!

The other day we think he said "ball" - his main sounds right now are still baba and mama but we were playing with balls the other day and saying the words and he said "ba" a little more definitively repeating after us, so I think he's starting to understand that words mean things. He also says "baba" for bottle, but all his different ba sounds are a little different depending on what he means!

Sam sees his brother and Dad roughouse and wrestle, so he thinks all interaction should be hitting, pulling hair and grabbing. We are working on "nice touch". He's definitely a go-getter and not afraid to go after what he wants. His ears don't seem to be bothering him and he's sleeping better although his cough/congestion is still hanging on (as is mom's). And he's still super duper cute with those big blue eyes.

One of these days I will get pictures taken to prove it!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a lot to be thankful for, I know I do.

Why I'm absent from the Thanksgiving Table

Just when you think you know everything, life has a funny way smacking you in the face with another life lesson doesn't it?

I was sitting in the NICU with Sam feeling very sorry for myself, thinking I'd been through this before with Gavin, had learned how precious life was and to be thankful and not take anything for granted. I was more patient and appreciated every moment with my kids....lesson learned, why was this happening again?

Somewhere in that two week stay with Sam, something in my head clicked that this is not all about me. I had a very strong desire to DO something. I eventually want to work on getting a NICU family support group at Blank, but in the meantime, would try to work on anything Blank related (Blank Children's Hospital).

So I ended up getting introduced to the ladies that run the Festival of Trees and Lights.

Another lady at the informational meeting asked if I would co-chair the Children's Area with her. I hadn't wanted to be that involved, but having a hard time saying No when put on the spot, I agreed. Two weeks later she backed out, and I was stuck with the job. A little overwhelming for my first foray into volunteer work!

I recruited a fabulous team of friends to join my committee and we started meetings in June. It was a LOT of work. This week we have seen all our hard work come to fruition.

I'll back up and tell you that this event raises money for the Child Life Program, and Advocay and Outreach programs at Blank. If you've ever heard a Children's Miracle Network telethon on the radio and cried your way to work....well, Child Life is that program, except they only support one hospital in each state, so Blank has to fund the program itself. You can read more on the link above.

Yesterday was opening day for the Festival. We worked really hard Tuesday getting set up (And I will never again wonder "How long can it possibly take to fill 1500 little cups of frosting?" Answer: FOREVER!). Setting up an event reminded me of my old Des Moines Golf days managing banquets - so much fun. I believe I have a calling as an event planner, but may be a little late at this stage to change careers!

So yesterday. Everything went off without a hitch. Kids had a BLAST. Our volunteers working the event were great. And then I saw a little boy with a shaved head and a cancer awareness shirt and saw with my own eyes, why this event is so important. Child Life is there for all kids at the hospital, to help explain the procedures, distract them while they are being done, to provide daily activities so long hospital stays are more tolerable.

And Thanksgiving Day? I will be running the floor of the children's area, and will probably be missing many Thanksgiving's to come. As the chair of my committee I felt it my responsibility to give up the day. And I am lucky that my family is close and we see them often anyway. Chad is taking the boys to their first Thanksgiving in Anita! Wish him luck wrangling those two crazy guys himself!

And I hope to see you all at the runs til Sunday!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Please think happy thoughts that tubes go well....we have to arrive at 6:30, and surgery is at 7:30. I'm a little worried about anesthesia - even though our Dr. said his lungs weren't sick, he's had more cough-til-you-puke episodes the last two nights. I'm going to try to give him a neb treatment while he's sleeping to see if that helps.

He's such a happy kid, I can't imagine how much happier he will be when he finally feels good. We KNOW he's had an ear infection for going on three weeks now - and he's not sleeping well, but during the day he's as happy as can be.

*update - We are home - we had a little added excitement due to Sam's severe congestion, the anesthesia caused fluid to build up rather quickly in his lungs so he was coughing really hard throughout the procedure. Thank goodness it was such a quick one! He got a neb treatment before he saw us and the fluid was clearing nicely while we were in recovery. He even got treated to full strength apple juice - they didn't want him to have milk until some of his secretions cleared - milk tends to make that worse. He also got one huge nasty antibiotic shot that was thick with a super long needle and took about 30 seconds to push in. That made him very upset but hopefully will kick this sinus infection once and for all. Our doctor was great and we go back in a few weeks to see how things look. She sucked out a lot of gunk out of his nose and his right ear was also holding a lot of nasty infection - she said "he REALLY needed those tubes". He's sound asleep now and we're hoping he feels better soon and Mom can start getting some sleep and stop being a total zombie at work.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to the best husband and Dad ever!

Pictures in no particular order (ie, not chronological!)


Whenever the camera is on, Sam gives us this cheesy grin on cue

Sam was having a grand time spanking Gavin the other morning.

A rare clothing choice of sweater vest and jeans, I had to capture it on film

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 17th

Today is Prematurity Awareness Day! If you feel so inclined, please click on the link below and learn a little about the March of Dimes mission. They do so much more than find new ways to treat preemies - their goal is that one day there are NO preemies, and they have played an integral role in helping determine the course of prenatal treatment that pregnant women get today. Did you know that it was a MOD research doctor that discovered the importance of folic acid and made the recommendation that pregnant women take this supplement? So it's not just those of us that have preemies that owe something to the MOD. All parents have benefited from their research - and don't even know it!

Today also marks 5 years that Gavin has been home with us! It was this day in 2004 that we carried him out of the hospital. The weather was a little warmer than it was today, warm for a November day. Putting him in the car, he finally felt like he "belonged" to us. We no longer were on the hospital schedule, no longer would we walk through a crowded parking lot and check in with a front desk clerk just to see him. Gone were the tubes, the monitors, the wires. He was just.....ours. Finally.

Between our two boys we have spent 99 days in the NICU. Thanks to the excellent prenatal care I received, it wasn't more than that. Let's never forget the miracles these little boys represent, not only in themselves, but all the tiny babies that have made the fight out the hospital doors. Unfortunately, not everyone makes it home, and THAT is why this mission is still so critical.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


November is such a bittersweet month for me - we have a LOT of milestones in November.

November holds a lot of beginnings, and endings.

November holds the happiest and saddest moments of my life.

Here's a rundown of all our momentous dates - and check back for reflection on these events!

Beginning: 11.18.78 - the day Chad was born, without him the rest would never have happened. I wonder what Betsy and Jim thought as they stared at their newborn baby? What path did they envision him walking? As each birthday passed did they guess at what the future held?

which leads to.....

Beginning: 11.15.03 - the happiest (til that point) day of my life. The beginning of "Bridie Sellers", the end of "Bridie Saldanha", and the beginning of sharing the ups and downs of life, safe in the knowledge that I always had someone to walk beside me.

which leads to...

Ending: 11.18.03 - how quickly life can change. On this day began and ended the life of Ella Mae. She took a few brave breaths in the arms of my mother. How amazing the impact of such a tiny life. How strange to miss someone to much, even with the knowledge that without her loss

we never would have celebrated...

Beginning & Ending: 11.17.04 - After 82 days, Gavin Gatsby was carried out of the NICU, wearing a puffy-painted custom onesie saying "Happy Birthday" to dad. I somehow managed to not have any of the staff let Chad know Gavin was close to coming home, b/c I wanted the ultimate birthday suprise. Well, when I made my usual 5 am visit that day I found out we were free! I raced to Target on MLK (no longer there), bought a onesie and puffy paint and frantically tried to get it to dry before Chad made his mid-morning visit. It was the beginning of life as we know it, and the end to our NICU journey.

What does November 2009 bring?

beautiful weather
Gavin making great strides in school
Sam crawling
Festival of Trees - my first huge volunteer commitment
realization that "normal" kids get sick plenty too, not just the super preemies, and along that line, lots of doctors visits, ibuprofen, and tubes

Happy November!

Oh Sammy!

Sam's cough has progressively gotten worse this week. Last night it culminated in him coughing til he threw up a couple times. So today we had an appt scheduled for a pre-op check up, and his lungs sounded ok (which is good or we would have had to cancel the tubes). He got a steroid shot to help with the inflammation of his airway, and we have meds for our nebulizer in case he needs it. Hopefully he will be on the mend soon! The antibiotcs have done nothing to clear the ear infection, but when they do the tubes, they will suck out all the yuck.

I'm ready for this sick period to be over!

In other Sam news, he is quite the little monster at day care - but good at home. Apparently when they tell him "no" he'll throw a fit and try to start banging his head on the floor. So then Brenda will pick him up to keep him from hurting himself. Today to retaliate, he grabbed her hand and bit her. Not a "my teeth hurt" bite, but a "I'm mad at you" bite. Gavin was never a biter, and Brenda said they don't really have any in the room right now. He's definitely one strong-willed boy, and I think he is going to give his brother a run for his money.

Oh Sammy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tubes Nov 19th - Update

Tuesday morning we went and saw the ENT. Sam decided to start the day off exciting, when we were in the waiting room I saw that his light blue pants were all wet.

And yellowish brown. S***! Literally.

Only two days into his antibiotic and already this kind of a mess. I took him to to the changing room - a dad holding the door for me and giving me a sympathetic look, saying "that happened to us this morning".

It was so bad I just threw away his clothes. Which bummed me out because the pants were part of a cute outfit - but they were 9 month size and he was getting close to outgrowing them anyway. SO gross! Fortunately I stayed clean, and had been smart enough to just wear a t-shirt and had a shirt in the car to change into after I dropped him off at day care.

So back in the office, we had a hearing screen done. Not sure of the details, but his hearing is fine, not great, not bad. His right ear drum is not moving as much as it should, but that is more than likely due to the constant fluid in that ear, as well as the current infection.

The doctor said it was a no-brainer for tubes. I guess September is pretty early in the cold season to be getting such a serious ear infection as he had, add in how hard it was to treat, and the quick recurrence and the decision was pretty easy. She said had we come to her in May it would be a different story. Oh and let's not forget the family history and Gavin's record ear infections.

So we're scheduled the 19th. I'm a little nervous - even though we went through it before with Gavin, Sam has never been under anesthesia or had any kind of procedure. I know they do tubes all the time...but still.

I had the day off anyway, but the bummer is I had to cancel the kids flu shots since they were scheduled that morning, and he won't be out in time to get there. The office isn't scheduling any more flu shots at this time, so I'm back to calling every morning to try to get an appt as soon as they do start scheduling again. (I have some strong opinions on how this whole flu shot business is being run, but I save it for another time).

We see his pediatrician tomorrow for a physical to make sure his heart and lungs are in good shape before the surgery. We'll also see if the medicine has made any progress on his ear infection. I doubt it since this med didn't work last time, and while I hate for him to get shots, I hate what the oral antibiotic does to him. It would be one thing if it worked, but if it doesn't, then it's a lot of extra laundry and thrown out clothes for nothing. I'm not optimistic as he is still having really bad nights, horrible coughing/crying spells.

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Going to be a Long Night

I don't understand how Sam can feel so good during the day and it all goes to pieces at night. He'd only been asleep a little over an hour when he woke up - heart racing, shallow breathing, and a high respiratory rate. His temp went from normal to almost 103 in less than an hour. And he was coughing.

Now, shortly before Gavin turned 1 we had an ER visit for the very same thing. After doing an x-ray of his throat and some other tests, the Motrin they gave him kicked in and he was fine within an hour. So I gave Sam a dose, and we went to sit on the front porch to speed bringing his temp down. And now sure enough he is sleeping peacefully, still breathing a little fast, but ok.

What is it about the night time that brings these episodes on? He was great today and no Motrin since about 6 am. At any rate, I have a couple hours of work to do still. Making for a long night, and fingers crossed Sam stays asleep til morning.

Sam's "Sick" Day

Sam had a rough night and was still pretty cranky this morning, thus convincing Chad to stay home with him. So much for his sick day!


Taking Sam in tomorrow. Chad is home with him today.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ear Infection

Went to the clinic today and Sam has another ear infection. Apparently goo coming from the eyes is "common" with ear infections though I can't say we've ever experienced it. Our primary ped will be calling me tomorrow to discuss a referral to an ENT. I'm leaning towards just going for it, after the ear infection that wouldn't quit, and then this time his eyes have been so bad and he just seems miserable.

We're on the red diarrhea inducing antibiotic, the Dr. we saw didn't want to go straight for the shots. I'm not optimistic and expecting this antibiotic to fail like last time, as assuming we'll be back in the office soon. But let's keep our fingers crossed that it works!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Goopy Eyes

Poor Sam. He's had a bit of a runny nose and yesterday he woke up with crusty eyes. Today his eyes got progressively worse, and swollen - poor kid, his eyes look only about half as big as usual. We couldn't keep his eyes clean and by this evening he was really fighting us off when we came at him with a wet cloth.

I called the Dr's office this afternoon and they want to see him tomorrow - so hopefully we'll be on the mend by Monday.

Picture Update

Hanging with Great Grandparents (Chad's grandparents)

Gavin's new passion is breakdancing, here he is in action

And here are the three cutest boys I know

Something tells me Sam will be able to hold his own

Somebody can hold his own bottle

Monday, November 2, 2009

Savoring the Moments

I'm trying to make a point of savoring the moments in life. I tend to let my mind get so consumed with stuff. Work stuff, house stuff, schedule stuff....Now I'm not one to stress about my age, but as I approach the big 30 I realize that every day that passes means less moments to enjoy in the future. So I am trying really hard to put that stuff out of my mind and just enjoy the moments as they come.

And this weekend was wonderful! A good friend that I haven't seen in years is back and town and came over with her husband and 3 yr old daughter (Ella - how strange?) for pizza and trick or treating. Now the good thing about getting older is that you are old enough to have old friends to catch up with - Meg I'm so glad you're back and with such a cute family to boot!

Another great moment was Saturday night and we were all in our room playing. Gavin was jumping on the bed, Sam was on the floor playing and we were taking turns trying to throw a ball at Gavin and he was keeping score between us. I realized that we get so busy on the weekends that we either each take one kid or one of us takes both and we go about our chores and errands and work. It was so nice to all just play together.

SAM CRAWLING! He can get where he wants by rolling or going from belly to sitting but he took some tentative strides crawling.

Family soccer - since we've been unlucky in soccer weather and had a couple games cancelled, we had a family "soccerfest" where the parents participated with the kids. Chad and Gavin were playing together trying to do tricks like drop kicks and headers, and then I played with Gavin in the parent/kid scrimmage. It was PERFECT weather and a nice end to the season.

And my last favorite moment was Gavin doing "chicken legs" last night at my mom's. We were over for dinner and afterwards we were in the living room - and I don't even know how the subject of chicken legs came up - but - Gavin started doing this crazy strut and singing "chicken legs, chicken legs!". We were all about crying we were laughing so hard and he just kept doing it.

Gavin - you crack us up. How lucky we are to have you in our lives, cracking us up on a regular basis.