Thursday, December 28, 2006

Who's been reading?

In just the last few weeks, I've had a remarkable number of people tell me they read or are still keeping up with the blog, and with the girls... I've been amazed at just who logs in to follow along! When writing in the early days, I thought that there were maybe a couple of dozen people who logged in - since then I've heard from so many from around the world - friends, family, friends of friends, families that have been through or are going through similar situations... I can not thank all of you enough for your love and support!!

As things are now starting to settle down a bit, I'm trying to get caught up on putting some things together for Sadie's baby book/scrap books that I hope to one day have the time to work on. I know that some day, most likely in her teen years, she's going to have questions about her scars, and, while I hope she never does, she may even feel embarrassed or ashamed of them. I want to be able to have something tangible to show her how special and amazing she is. For part of it, I would like your help.

I think I've finally fixed the "comments" section now - I'm on a new version of Blogger, and the bugs seem to be worked out a bit better. If you wouldn't mind - just drop a line, and let Sadie know you've been rooting for her. Or, drop me an email at I'll compile all of the comments into the book I'm making for her, which will also include this blog. Feel free to send photos, too - it would be nice to have pictures with the comments!

Now, on to Sadie - she had her monthly Synagis (I have no clue how it's spelled, but it's an RSV immunization) shot today, and got weighed - she's now up to 12 lbs 14 ozs! That means she put on a pound and 13 ounces in one month. She is becoming more alert and active by the day, and wants to be entertained ALL the time. She got some new toys to chew on/play with from Santa and has been busy with them the last few days. She's rolling from back to tummy now, but gets really ticked once she's on her belly. The doctors tell me to do tummy time with her as much as possible, just like a normal baby, but to be honest, I don't. I've gotten to where I know her cries a little better, and she really has a hurt cry and is upset for several hours after being flat on her stomach - I think she's still sore, no matter what they say. Anyway, she's holding her head up well, and can sit up on her own with very little support. I can't believe how alert she is - it's like that first month that she was in a comatose state never happened.

Katie is another story. She's in the full throws of being misplaced from her previous position of "center of mommy's universe." Now that she has to share the spotlight, she's been reverting to baby behavior and driving me absolutely insane. I miss my independent "big" girl who would entertain herself from time to time, talk like a normal 4 year old, etc.. Now that she's got competition she wants my attention every waking moment. I know, I know, it's normal, every big brother/sister goes through it, but I was totally unprepared all the same. Some days I just want to scream if I hear "mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy" one more time (she loves this mantra, and will keep it up for hours at a time. She doesn't want anything, just likes the noise and the negative attention she gets from me.) I love her to death, and I'm trying to figure out how to best handle the regression issues, but my God, how much longer will this last? Seriously?!

A friend gave me this book called "The Three Martini Playdate" and I highly recommend reading it. After what I've been feeling about my life as "mommy who can't get out much because her baby cries in a way that everyone in the supermarket thinks she's beating her to death and who's toddler is asking "why can't I have __?" nonstop," it was a refreshing read, to say the least. At least I know I'm not alone...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sadie's first Christmas

The morning began as it does for most moms of preschoolers on Christmas - with Katie running at breakneck speed into my room at an ungodly hour and shouting that Santa had arrived. This was by far the most fun Christmas morning we've ever had. Sadie enjoyed watching us opening gifts for her, Katie was on cloud 9 and I was close to tears all day, just thankful that our family was together, and missing those that we lost over the past year.

The one that is most closely on my mind today is our beloved Nana, who passed away last January. She is Sadie's namesake, and was one of the most loving people I have ever had the pleasure to know. Since I haven't had the time to add the story of how Sadie got her name, now is probably a good time, since we're all missing Nana so much today.

Sadie Esther Blanton was a strong-willed woman, and the matriach of my husband's family. She had many things she loved - her family, a good game of Rook, the church she went to most of her life, good food, and, most of all, babies. When Jason and I found out we were pregnant with Katie, she was the first person we told. When we found out we were pregnant with Sadie, however, it was a different circumstance.

Last year, Nana was 96 years old, and her health began to deteriorate in the fall. By Christmas, we knew her time was close at hand, and the entire family - even very extended ones - was there by her side for Christmas. Despite her failing health, it was one of the happiest I have ever known. Nana enjoyed watching the children playing, and loved having the family all together in one place. I did not know at that time that I was pregnant, but Jason and I had been hoping for another child.

Several short weeks later, I confirmed that I was pregnant. I went to the doctor to make sure everything was ok, but they could not confirm the pregnancy through ultrasound. A week later, things still looked grim. I had had a miscarriage that began similarily several years before, and the doctor told me to prepare myself - that this one looked like another miscarriage. I was heartbroken, and so was Jason. It was hard enough watching Nana struggle through the end stages of life without having to deal with a second loss at the same time. We chose not to tell the family of the pregnancy, as it would be just too much to deal with.

Several days before Nana passed away, she could barely talk anymore. She said very little to anyone. I had gone to the doctors office for my third ultrasound, which confirmed the pregnancy, but did not show the growth rate we had hoped for. After coming home from the appointment, I got the call from Jason's mother that Nana was failing fast, and that we should come soon if we wanted to see her again. I was devestated by it all, and just could not deal with going to Nana's side at that time. So Jason went without me.

When Jason arrived, he went to Nana's side. In the background, his mom was talking to his aunt and uncle, about this wierd thing Nana had been saying all day - "Tell the Grandson, name the baby." No one knew what it was about. We had not told a single soul that we were pregnant. But Nana knew somehow. Jason talked to her, and she responded with some of her last words - "I love you so." Jason left the room, overwhelmed with emotion. His mom followed him, trying to comfort him - telling him Nana had lead a full and happy life, and was ready to go. "No mom," he said, "you don't understand. Kim is pregnant, and we thought she was likely going to have a miscarriage, so we hadn't told anyone."

Two days later I went with him to visit Nana for the last time. She could not speak, and could barely respond, but her eyes still had that twinkle I so loved about her. As I talked to her about the baby, I said, "Nana, you knew about this baby, didn't you?" and her eyes smiled and she raised her eyebrows a few times. So I started trying to come up with names for the baby, and told her that we would try to use a family name. I even mentioned Sadie, which I could see her laughing at internally.

Just before Nana passed, we were able to confirm the pregnancy, and got the good results we knew we'd receive. The months passed, and we were all calm and happy - the family was thrilled at the prospect of a new baby. We had been plagued by so much loss - Jason's brother, cousin, grandmother and uncle all passed away within a short span of time. We could not wait to celebrate new life.

Jason and I could not agree on a name for the new baby, though. We racked our minds, scoured countless baby books, but just could not find the right fit. I think we both felt a little pressure - Nana had specifically talked about a name for the baby. We wanted something she would have liked. On the night of Sadie's birth, we still had not agreed on a name. Just that morning we had started to throw around Madeline Sadie, and were thinking of calling her Maddie. We knew that we wanted to have Sadie as part of her name, no matter what - in honor of Nana. But I knew that we'd constantly mix up Sadie and Katie... so we thought perhaps Madeline would be a better name. But when we found out that Sadie had some health issues, we knew that we would go with Sadie - after all, Nana lived a long, wonderful life.

When the devestating news of the severity of Sadie's heart defect sank in the evening after I gave birth, my heart cried out, and I just couldn't understand why Nana would have given us "the sign that everything was ok," as I had come to think of her prophetic words. As I cried that night, it slowly dawned on me. Nana gave us an invaluable gift - the gift of hope. Through all of the days that would come, her words sustained me. I just knew Sadie would be alright, and that Nana was watching over her.

On the night before Sadie's surgery, that hope and faith, I admit, were shaky at best. I can't tell you the fear that was in my heart, or explain the anxiety that a parent in that situation faces. Sadie had this wonderful nurse that evening, though. She told me that she felt bad that there was nothing she could offer me, but she said she could give a prayer for Sadie. Now, I am not a religious person, as most of you know, but I do know that there is power in prayer and meditation and my heart was crying out that evening. This nurse was so sweet, and wanted to help, and so I said yes, and we placed our hands on Sadie and she said the most beautiful prayer. I can't recall the words today, but it was a plea for peace for our family, for healing for Sadie and in it she said, "we know that you did not bring Sadie here for disaster, but that you brought her here to fulfill a purpose." Those words brought to me a peace that I can not describe, and soothed my aching soul. It reminded me of what, I think, Nana had been trying to convey with the limited breath she had left on her deathbed. That Sadie was brought to us for a purpose, and that she was going to make it.

So, this Christmas has been a bittersweet one. We are so thrilled with Sadie's progress, and that she is here, at home with us today. We are thankful for our family and friends who have surrounded us with love, and lifted us up when we felt like the world was crumbling beneath our feet. We are grateful and amazed by the love that has been poured out to our family over the past several months - from our family, friends, friends of friends, and the total strangers who became our friends or whome we have yet to meet, but who have been praying, meditating or thinking of Sadie. And, most of all, we are remembering Nana, who for the first time in 12 years I did not spend Christmas with (and likely the first time in Jason's life). We are so happy that she was able to be such a large part of our lives, and thankful for the wonderful gift of hope and the legacy she left behind.

With this, I'll close this overly sentimental Christmas blog and return to my favorite role - Mommy of two. If anyone has suggestions on how to remove ground in candy canes from berber, please let me know. In the meantime, I will vacuum up tiny parts of dolls that Katie will cry over when she discovers they're missing tomorrow and try to make a path through the main areas so that no one steps on a scooter or noisy animatronics animal on the way to the restroom in the middle of the night. When I finally fall into bed, Sadie should wake up within 15 minutes of my dozing off, requiring immediate attention. And I will happily oblige - she is, after all, my little miracle - my own personal little Christmas angel.

Merry Christmas!!!

I do NOT recommend the Rescue Pet toy dog. If you got one for a kid, and he/she has not yet taken it from the package, destroy it before said child wakes up and has a chance to play with it. The dogs are actually torture devices. All they do is whine and bark. Incessently. In fact, they have two modes on their control box. Whine or bark (the modes are marked "happy" and "sad"). Worst of all, it's got a motion sensor. With the slightest motion in a 10 foot radius it will begin to whine. And of course, it does not come with volume control. Thus, your kid will love it. You, however, will want to permenantly disable it within 15 minutes or less. The only suitable time to give a Rescue Pet is if, for some unknown reason, you are required to give a gift to the child of a mortal enemy. Otherwise, skip it. You'll thank me later.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ho, Ho, Ho...

I'm happy to report that we really don't have much news around here for a change! Sadie is doing wonderfully. Last night we took her out to dinner with us, and, as usual, everyone who saw her had to come up and comment on how cute she is. Jason said to me at one point that it's amazing that none of them would even know that anything had ever been wrong with her.

Sadie's scar is continuing to heal, and it looks really good. I think that by this time next year it will be barely noticeable. I hope so! It's the only thing that really remains as a daily reminder of what we have been through these past few months. I guess the positive thing about it is that, when I have a long day with her and feel like I'm going to loose it, it is always there to remind me of just how lucky I am to have her, and it puts everything back into perspective for me.

We're finally getting ready for Christmas around here, and Katie is about to turn herself inside out with excitement. From the moment she wakes until we can finally get her down at night she chatters on and on about all things Christmas. We finally got a tree last week (a total Charlie Brown deal that is covering my carpet with a blanket of needles, but a tree, none-the-less) and Katie rearranges the ornaments every morning. Most of the time they all end up on one branch near the bottom, which does nothing to help the overall appearance of the tree.

Sadie is completely off of the methadone, and has done well with the wean. It's been almost four weeks now, so I think it's safe to say that that chapter of our lives is finally overwith - yay! She no longer cries for hours at a time, and is responding to us very well. She still cries a LOT - don't get me wrong (I think it's safe to say much more so than the average baby), but at least now we can console her. I still have to stay away from dairy, or it will do a real number on her system... I hope she outgrows the milk intolerance. While I was on a business trip recently she had to have formula near the end, and the milk-based lactose-free stuff really messed up her system for three days. It has to be soy-based if we use it anymore. So, I'm learning how to adjust my diet. But man, do I miss cheese.

As far as development, I think Sadie is pretty much on target. She smiles socially now - her daddy can make her smile at the drop of a pin. She is reaching and grabbing for things and has discovered her toes in the past week or so. She loves them. Her favorite thing to do is to hang out on the changing table with no diaper - she sings and coos, kicks and smiles up a storm. And she loves to splash in her bath. I think she's probably up to 12.5 lbs now, is 22.5 inches, and is getting some cute little rolls of fat on her thighs and tummy. In fact, I noticed yesterday that she finally has dimples on her elbows and hands (my favorite thing about babies are fat dimples). She does well following objects and is discovering how to put things in her mouth. I think she may already be beginning to teeth, though, because she's drooling up a storm, cranky and biting everything she can get in her mouth (including me - ouch!). She constantly is shoving her hands into her mouth, so I'm even more vigilent with the Purex when we're out with her - especially since strangers seem drawn to touch baby hands without asking. She is cute, I can see why they do it, but I still have to be careful with her in regards to germs and such. A slight cold could be very serious for her still.

So, that is where things are here. We're all gearing up for Christmas and looking forward to a New Year more than ever. If I don't get a chance to post before then, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

First time away...

I just got home from a business trip - my first time away from Sadie. It was so hard to leave her, but so nice to sleep for more than 4 hours at a time. I'm very happy to be home, though.

We're back to a lot of crying again, and trying to figure out the cause, or if it's just colic. She's acting like she's teething, but I don't see any tooth buds or feel anything in there. She's drooling a ton, still gassy as heck, and now having constipation issues. I guess it's time to call the GI to make sure there's nothing else going on.

We've now gone 2 weeks without methadone, and she's become so much more alert and interactive. It's great! Now if she'd just quit crying! :)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Our first really good week!

I haven't been posting as much lately, and it's great to say that I really don't have too much to report for a change!

This week was chock full of doctors appointments for the girls. Sadie had to have a few shots on Monday. They give her a special booster called Synagis (for the bargain price of $100/shot AFTER insurance) every month to help protect her from RSV (a respiratory virus). Plus she had to update her HepB shots, since we were behind due to her prolonged hospital stay. And a blood screening was done since the one that was done in the hospital was invalid because she'd recently received a transfusion. So she was pretty cranky the following day, but is now up-to-date and where she should be for an almost 3-month old. Yay!

Katie had to do a VCUG and sonagram this week to make sure that her recent urinary tract infections weren't due to reflux of the urine, problems with her kidneys, etc. The tests were awful and she was scared to death. They had to do a catheter in, fill her bladder through the catheter with barium and watch it go in and out a couple of times. She's got a serious phobia of hospitals (gee, I wonder why?!) and was shaking like a leaf, but was brave and did very well. I do NOT want to have to watch my girls cry though any more tests. I know they're necessary, but there's been way too many of them, and I'm getting weaker emotionally with each one. It was everything in me not to cry when Katie was looking at me screaming as they put the catheter in. Poor baby. Thankfully everything looks good, so we're in the clear on that one. It was nice to get positive test results for a change.

Thursday was Sadie's cardiologist appointment, and they did an echocardiogram to make sure the anatomy of the heart and blood flow are working ok. The cardiologist (Dr. Albrecht) was wonderful, and Sadie was a perfect angel during the exam. She now weighs 11 lbs 2 ozs, which puts her in the 10th percentile, so they're a little worried about her weight and growth (she's 22.5 inches), but not so much so that anything needs to be done. The cardiologist is following up with Sadie's GI, though, because he wants further follow up regarding the lower esophageal slow motility problem at a sooner date than she had thought was necessary. So we'll see what happens there. She's on Prilosec, and it seems to have helped a lot with the spitup and crankiness, and I've been avoiding all dairy products, which also helps. So I'm not sure why the weight isn't going on as fast as it was last month.

The best news of all is that Sadie has now successfully completed her methadone wean! We took her off last Saturday, and she's made it all week long with very few withdrawal signs. Day 3 was kind of tough, but nothing we hadn't seen before - just a lot of crying, cold sweats, stuff like that. We've got a whole new baby on our hands - she's becoming so much more alert, even tempered (well, as even as I think she'll get - some of this is just personality) and so darn cute I can't stand it. I'll try to post new pictures later this weekend!