Wednesday, February 28, 2007

She slept through the night!

For the second time this week actually. Halleluja! After nine and a half months we finally got a full night's rest. And it wasn't easy getting there.

Ava was actually a very good sleeper as a newborn. She only ever woke up once or twice at night to eat. She even occasionally slept through the night on her own. But then she got used to waking up to eat. And more often than not we would all fall asleep in our bed and she would get to sleep blissfully with her mommy and daddy. Amazing how much space a tiny baby can take up in a queen size bed. But I couldn't bear the thought of not feeding her (she really is small) at night if she wanted to eat.

So at her nine month checkup I asked her Dr. about it. I said that I thought she was old enough to sleep through the night, but I felt bad about not feeding this teeny, tiny baby. The Dr. agreed that she was old enough to sleep all night and said that she would probably eat more during the day if she didn't get fed during the night. And so the experiment began.

The first night she only woke up once and cried for twenty minutes before she finally fell back asleep. The second night she woke up and it was only five minutes before she was sleeping again. Awesome! Then she woke up again. And again. And cried for an hour! It was horrible. I felt like the worst possible mother. And Dan SLEPT THROUGH IT. I finally had to say "Don't you even care that your daughter has been screaming for an hour? There is no book anywhere that says to let them cry for an hour!" He convinced me to let her go a little longer and she was asleep within minutes. We had another week of sometimes waking up for a few minutes and sometimes crying for almost an hour. And now two nights of sleeping from 8:00 pm to 6:30 am! Maybe its a little early to start rejoicing, but I am just so excited. What will I do with myself now that I'm so well rested?

My cutie patootie just before bedtime

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I woke up another day!

About two weeks ago Drew started saying something new when he woke up in the morning. “Mommy! I woke up another day!” The first thing I hear in the morning (well, the first thing after Ava crying to be fed) is his sweet little voice, genuinely excited to wake up another day. And I don’t know where he got it. We don’t say that to him and I can’t imagine where he would have heard it. It’s pretty cute, but also pretty powerful. At three years old, I find it hard to believe he realizes that we may not wake up another day. But maybe, after all he’s been through, he does get it. Maybe he does understand what a blessing each new day is and how lucky we are to be here to enjoy it.

Of course for Drew it means one more day to enjoy playing with his train table!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Pediatric Heart Surgery Reunion

Today we went to a Pediatric Heart Surgery Reunion at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento. It was really fun. They had a lot of activities for the kids and lots of free food for everyone. We ate pizza, Drew decorated a heart cookie and Francie Dillon (the children’s entertainer) played her guitar and sang for the kids. There was also basketball, fishing for prizes, crafts, the Kings dancers and Dinger from the River Cats. It was nice to talk to the other families whose kids have had heart surgery there. Except we felt like imposters because our heart surgeries were at UCSF.

It’s not like we crashed the party or anything. We were invited! But I think we were the only family who didn’t have surgery there and I kind of felt like I should keep it a secret. Which became difficult when Francie invited Drew up with her to sing his favorite song. She wanted to know if he had surgery there. I said no. She asked, “Oh, it was his sister?” I said “Um. No. It’s complicated.” Then as soon as they were done singing Rudolph (it is his favorite) we were out of there! I didn’t want to be caught!

Drew with his yummy heart cookie

Dinger-The Rivercats mascot-doing the hokey pokey

Francie Dillon and Drew singing Rudolph

Friday, February 23, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Today was my 29th birthday. Guess how I celebrated…Yep, that’s right, I co-hosted a birthday party for four boys turning 3 in February. I have to admit, I was convinced that the party would be chaotic at best and downright violent at worst. But, I was pleasantly surprised. The party was great! It was a Cars theme so we brought play mats and cars to play with inside, a Cars piƱata, a license plate craft, and of course Cars cupcakes. We only had about 12 kids (a lower turnout than we expected due to some nasty viruses going around), and everyone got along. The weather was great and the kids were able to play red light/green light outside. Hooray! If it’s going to be that easy maybe we should plan this every year!

Of course, I still wanted to have some sort of adult celebration for MY birthday. So after a brief rest we got ready and went out to dinner with some friends sans children. We went to Mikuni’s, my favorite sushi spot and ate yummy food. There also may have been some sake bombs involved. We had a great time and I even got to spin the wheel. I won a cute Mikuni’s T-shirt. And then, we ran into Downtown James Brown while walking over to the Streets of London. He gave us some pretty decent impressions of James Brown, Al Green, Prince and Michael Jackson for the spare change we had on us. What an awesome birthday!

The kids working on the pinata

Getting ready for some red light/green light

My cool Cars cupcakes-McQueen even lights up!

The adult birthday party

Spinning the wheel for my 29th birthday

Friday, February 16, 2007

Magic Heart Day

February 16th, 2004 will always be a special day for our family. For my husband and me it was the best and worst day of our lives. It was the best day because it was the day the surgeons at UCSF saved our one-week old son’s life by doing open heart surgery. It was the worst day because it was the day we had to put his life in their hands and hope & pray for the best. It was a day filled with worry and anxiety and fear of the unknown. It was a day of hope and prayer and being surrounded by friends and family.

Every year I have a difficult time around this anniversary. This year was no different. It started off innocently enough. I thought back to what was happening three years ago and thought how amazing it is that we are where we are know. Drew is a happy, mostly healthy, sweet, loving, active little boy. But then all of a sudden all the feelings from that time come back to me. How scared we were. How out of control it felt. How shocking it was to hear the day after he was born that he wasn’t a perfectly healthy baby. That we wouldn’t be bringing him home anytime soon. That our tiny little baby was going to be frozen, cut open, put on a heart lung machine, and sewn up again. That he would have a machine to breathe for him, have all kinds of tubes and IVs and blood draws, that he would be kept in the pediatric cardiac ICU for many weeks.

As I look back on this time it is always with mixed emotions. We are extremely grateful that the surgeons were able to save his life. That he was able to come home from the hospital with us. We have met parents in the hospital that were not so lucky. We are thankful for all the good that has come out of this situation, for the wonderful friends and family we had to support us during this devastating time. But we also mourn the loss of a healthy child. It’s not fair that he has to have so many blood tests and Dr. appointments. I don’t want to have to endure another open-heart surgery. I don’t want to hear him tell me that it hurts, that he wants to go home and there will be nothing I can do to fix it. How many parents can really say that there was a time when they didn’t know if their child would live or die? We have wondered that too many times already. But he is still with us! And we are so grateful for the gift he is to our family.

I would just like to thank everyone in our lives who has been a support to us. We couldn’t have made it this far without you. We thank you for standing by us in the good times and bad, for letting us cry when we need to, and reminding us what a miracle Drew is when we need to hear that. I hope that one day I will be able to look back at Magic Heart Day with mostly gratitude and thanksgiving and that there will be less sadness with each passing year.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from Drew's first three years. Happy Birthday Drew!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day

Two years ago, my husband approached me with a new idea for Valentine’s Day. He said that since Valentine’s Day really is a commercial holiday, why don’t we skip going out to dinner and buying flowers and candy and bring some joy into the lives of others instead. I have to admit, at first I was skeptical. I thought, hmm…what a convenient way to get out of having to be romantic! But his idea was to go back to the NICU where our son spent the first ten weeks of his life and bring balloons to the babies and some candy and encouragement to the parents. I loved his idea and I think it is even more romantic that he has such a giving heart. So it has been a tradition in our family to visit the NICU every Valentine’s Day. We chose V-Day because it is close to Drew’s birthday and it also happens to be Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day.

This year we were able to expand our efforts and bring balloons and candy to every child in the hospital (thanks to help from The Children’s Heart Fund). We bought 100 red heart mylar balloons and attached a small box filled with chocolates and a note to each one. We couldn’t even fit them all into our mini-van! We also made cupcakes for the nurses and doctors and included thank you notes for all the hard work they do. Having a caring and compassionate nurse can make all the difference during a child’s hospitalization. We are so thankful for the many kind people we have run into during all of Drew’s hospital stays.

We got to deliver the balloons to each baby’s bedside in the NICU and we talked with some of the parents. Two mothers really touched me emotionally. One saw all the balloons when we first walked into the lobby and started crying. She said “it is just so nice that you guys are doing that. These are happy tears.” It really made me feel good to know that what we were doing didn’t just make us feel better, it made her feel better too. Another mom said thank you as I was handing her the balloon, and I told her that our son was here three years ago and we remember what it’s like to be in the hospital. She looked at me and said “So you get it” and I said, “yeah, I get it.” Even though it was something so small that she said, it brought tears to my eyes. I have this strong connection with a total stranger because of a shared, tragic experience.

Drew had fun visiting too. It is always nice to see the nurses who used to take care of him. They enjoy seeing how big he’s gotten and how well he’s doing. In each room we visited Drew kept saying “Want to see more babies.” I like the opportunity to teach him about helping others.Anyway, I just wanted to share our story. A lot of work went into putting all the gifts together and getting the cupcakes ready, but it was totally worth it in the end. Our family had an awesome Valentine’s Day and the lessons we learned and the love we shared are much better than any night out could have been.

Our family visiting the UCDMC NICU

Carter and Drew bring balloons to the babies

All the balloons, candy and cupcakes ready to go