Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Surgery Update - Bad News

I have a heavy heart tonight. I took Mackenzie in for a follow-up with the plastic surgeon today. I mentioned my concern that there is a lot of milk and food coming through her nose when she eats, which alarmed him. He looked in her mouth and confirmed my fears - her palate has pulled apart. He was able to see for sure that it has pulled apart in the back, on the soft palate. He had a different angle than I did; I thought it looked like there was a hole in the front, right behind the teeth, too, but he wasn't able to see it, as Mackenzie was not cooperative. I suppose it doesn't really matter much at this point how extensive it is. The bottom line is that the repair failed, and she now has to repeat the surgery. The doctor said we have to wait for her tissue to heal and he wants to give her a chance to grow some more, so he said we won't do it for 6-8 months.

I know that somehow, this is all of God's plan, but it's hard to understand why she has to go through all of this again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hangin' Out

Forgive me...I've been playing with Picasa again.

On the needles

I've been busy with my needles, as you can see. I started the shawl, down below, the weekend after Mackenzie's surgery. Yesterday, I needed a break from it, so I cast on this adorable Butterfly Hat, which is knitting up quickly. I love how it's coming together, and it's been fun learning some new things - I learned how to do k2p2 ribbing, and I learned how to do the butterflies, which are easier than they look.

I've got to hurry off to get ready for church right now, but will come back later and link to the patterns!!

ETA: Sorry it took me so long...

The shawl is the Cherry Blossom Shawl - she will will email you the pattern, or it's available as a free download on Ravelry. The hat is the Butterfly Hat - I LOVE THIS HAT!!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

More handmade gifts - crayon tote and rice bags

I realized as I was editing blog posts that I still had one post of handmade Christmas gifts leftover that I had never actually gotten around to posting! I use Picasa to edit my photos and then email them to Blogger, and they sit there as drafts, waiting for me to add text and post them...and sometimes I forget they're sitting there!!

Anyway...without further delay...this adorable little pink crayon tote is a gift I made for my 2-year old niece, Emma. I used iron-on vinyl I got at Jo-Ann's, which I applied to the cupcake fabric first. I then used fusible webbing to iron the lining to the cupcake fabric, before I assembled the tote. The tote is big enough to carry a few coloring books.

The other gift is a rice therapy bag. I actually made it using two layers. The inside is a muslin bag, with two channels sewn, to help the rice not get all bunched in one place. I scented the rice with a couple different scents, using essential oils - some were rosemary-lavender, some were peppermint. After filling the muslin and sewing them closed, I placed the muslin bags inside the outer bags and sewed them closed. My original plan was actually to have the outside bag be removable, with a velcro closing, but I didn't plan my measurements correctly and couldn't end up doing them that way. Oh well...live and learn!

The bags can be used for heat therapy or cold therapy. For cold, they can just be placed in the freezer for a while before use. For heat, they can be placed in the microwave for 2 minutes. They are easy to make, easy to customize by scent, size, and fabric, and make great gifts!!

Does this mean she's a toddler??

Makayla has gotten quite confident on her feet. She can even squat down and stand back up, get up to standing without holding on to anything, carry things around with her while she's walking, and eat something while she's walking. She thinks she's pretty big stuff!!

I'm a little afraid that this means I can't really call her a *baby* anymore. But I'm just not ready to call her a toddler. Do I have to?

Good thing Mackenzie seems content to stay my baby for a while longer...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A walk through the neighborhood

For the girls' first birthday, our friends Dan and Gloria got them a wagon - something I've been wanting for a while, though I hadn't actually said so out loud...Gloria has an uncanny ability to know exactly what we need! Last weekend, while Mackenzie was recovering and we were all going a bit stir crazy from being in the house, we decided to take a walk in the newly assembled wagon. I wore Mackenzie in the sling, since she still wouldn't allow herself to be detached from either myself or daddy...and Anthony was just dying for a chance to ride in the wagon. It was a toasty 85 degrees outside! Had we stayed out any longer, we would have needed sunscreen!!

Rainy Day Bread Pudding

I just called it Rainy Day Bread Pudding because it's a rainy day here today and it seemed like the perfect day for some nice, warm bread pudding!! This is super easy and so rich and warm and delicious - great by itself or with some vanilla ice cream on top!

Rainy Day Bread Pudding

16 slices white bread, cut into cubes
1/3 C. melted butter
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
8 eggs, beaten
3/4 C. white sugar
1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1.5 T. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C. orange juice
5 C. scalded whole milk (I scald mine in the microwave for 8 minutes on high)
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine bread, melted butter, and cinnamon - mix well, then pour into baking pan. Beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt, and orange juice. Add milk, stirring well to avoid cooking the eggs. Mix well, then pour over the bread. Sprinkle nutmeg over the top. Let sit for a couple minutes, then bake for 35 minutes or until knife inserted to middle comes out clean. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting (if you can resist - I have a hard time waiting!!).

You could also add raisins, dried cranberries - pretty much any dried fruit you wanted - or some cooked cinnamon apples would also be good. Also, you can omit the orange juice if you don't have any - I just had it on hand and it adds a nice touch of extra flavor, but it's certainly not necessary. Finally, you could use lower fat milk...we have whole milk in the house since Makayla's starting to drink some, and it gives the pudding a richer taste...but if you're trying to cut some fat and calories, you can certainly use a lower fat milk.



Oh - and I realized that I sort of left you all hanging with the possibility of rib fractures. I updated Twitter, but never did an actual blog post. Turns out the radiologist reviewed the x-rays and there are no anterior rib fractures. This still does not clear up the mystery of what the swelling and bruising is on her back, however. The surgeon saw her on Monday and still thinks it's a pressure wound from the shoulder roll they placed under her during surgery. She sees the pediatrician tomorrow, so we'll be asking more questions.

In the meantime, she is still running fevers - 100.1 this morning. She is drinking much better, but still not eating well. She is very cranky and cries a LOT. She is starting to sleep some in her bed, for naps and starts the night out in her bed, but still ends up in our bed, and is very restless in her sleep. It's hard to know if she's in pain, or what's really going on. Keep sending healing prayers!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

She deserves a break today. Right?

So we're now one week post-op. You would think things would be getting back to normal, more or less. I would have thought that by now, she'd be eating and drinking better, having less pain, and be well on her way to recovery.

Instead, last night, I took her to Urgent Care with a 102 degree fever, still not eating or drinking well, still in a lot of pain. They checked her blood - white count normal, so they don't think she has a big infection brewing. She's still on antibiotics, too. She's drooling a lot, so even though her urine output is decreased, they don't think she's dangerously dehydrated. They did a chest x-ray to check for pneumonia, and her lungs look great. The doc thinks her fever may just be a viral thing.

While we were there, I pointed out to the doc that the spot on her back - the one that we discovered the day after surgery - is still very swollen and tender to the touch, although the redness has faded now to brown. The doc was mystified, though agreed that it did NOT look like a skin wound or cellulitis. I AGAIN expressed concern about the amount of swelling and questioned the possibility of a fracture (they must get tired of me sounding like a broken record). She said the only way to see a posterior rib fracture would be to do a CT scan, which she didn't want to put Mackenzie through after everything else she'd been through at this point, but said we'd see if anything showed up on the chest x-ray.

So when we got back to our room, she pulled the chest x-ray up on the screen and showed it to me. She started out by saying, "Now, I admit that I don't look at ribs ALL that often, which is why I'm gonna have the radiologist take a look at this tomorrow..." and then said, "But this right here looks like it COULD be fractures..." In the ANTERIOR ribs, right near the sternum!!! What the heck????? She asked if she's had any tenderness or swelling there, and I said not to my knowledge, and when she felt her there, Mackenzie didn't seem to flinch. I could see exactly what she was talking about on the x-rays, too.

Anyway...the radiologist was already gone for the day, so the plan is for him to look at the x-rays today and decide if she needs further x-rays and/or CT scan. All I know is that our baby girl was fine when she went INTO the hospital and when I handed her off to the OR nurse to go to surgery. What in the world happened to her between then and the next morning?

And then, of course, my mind goes to...what if her unexplained anemia and these unexplained possible fractures are somehow related. Yeah - don't google anemia plus fractures - the possibilities aren't really that great. Google can be bad for your health!

So we'll just take it one step at a time and wait to hear from the doc. Or at least wait a little while and then call the doc to remind her that we're waiting to hear from her. ;)

In the meantime, Mack had a rough night, waking up about every 3 hours screaming out in pain. And it makes you wonder - is it her mouth hurting, or her back/ribs?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Post-Op Day 4 - She's home!!!

Home...but still needs prayers for continued healing. Her temp when I put her to bed was 99.6, so still higher than we want it to be.

She ate really well this afternoon/evening, though...when she got home, she drank 3 oz of formula. Then she played for a while, then cuddled for a while. Then she was trying to attack Darrell when he was eating, so I put her in the highchair to offer some baby food...she scarfed down a jar of applesauce and part of a jar of green beans! Hungry baby!

She, unfortunately, has to wear arm splints to bed (well, really she's supposed to wear them all the time, but when she's awake, we can keep a better eye on her, so we don't make her wear them as much). She can't put her hands (or toys, or pacifiers, or cheerios, or crackers...you get the picture) in her mouth, due to the danger of her damaging the sutures/repairs, so she has to sleep with the splints. I got her to sleep pretty easily...but when she wakes up and tries to turn over to her tummy, and her straight arms get in the way, I'm guessing she's gonna be mad!

Makayla was really happy to have me home today. I think she was a bit traumatized by my absence the last three days. Last night, she woke up at 2 a.m. and refused to sleep in her own bed the rest of the night...she had to be in my arms - not just in my bed, but IN MY ARMS the rest of the night, and she pretty much nursed off and on all night. Ever time she opened her eyes even a little crack, she'd cry out, "Mama, mama..." Poor baby. She needed LOTS of cuddling today.

My friend Heather brought us a yummy dinner of enchiladas, beans, salad, and flan. Mackenzie LOVED the flan!!! She ate almost an entire cup by herself! Everything was delicious!! Thank you, dear friend!!

My New Year's Resolution

I only made one this year. One resolution. Well, two actually, now that I think about it, but they're both under one main resolution - to learn something new. Last year, learning to sew was SEW much fun and opened up such a whole new world to me, that I don't want to stop. I want to continue to challenge myself and open new creative doors for myself. So this year, my resolutions were to learn to knit and to learn to quilt (which is really just an extension of sewing).

For Christmas, my little sister, Kristina, who overheard me say I wanted to learn to knit, got me a "learn to knit" kit. So, the day after Christmas (or was it later on Christmas day?), I sat down and started knitting. I quickly fell in love with it, and have used some gift cards to purchase yarn and more needles. I found a wonderful yarn store in Redlands, about a half hour from my house, with a great selection of natural fiber yarns, including some wonderfully soft merino wool yarn from Uraguay, called Malabrigo.

My first project was a pair of fingerless mittens that I made out of some acrylic Homespun yarn. They turned out "okay," but they're a bit too big and loose. My second project - my "Mackenzie" project - the one that has kept me sane this week - turned out completely wonderful. I used worsted weight Malabrigo yarn in a gorgeous brown colorway called Marron Oscuro. It is kettle-dyed, with many shades of brown and even some maroon-mauvey tones thrown in. It is gorgeous and soft and buttery. The original pattern is here, with the modified version for worsted weight yarn here. I can't wait for it to cool off again so I can wear it!!

So...I think I'm doing well on my New Year's Resolutions! It's only January 15, and I can check one off! I have to say, knitting is VERY calming. Oh, and Deanna - it involves some counting - so you would LOVE it!!! ;)

(P.S. Sorry the pics are fuzzy - that's what happens when you take pics of yourself in the bathroom mirror!!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Post-Op Day 3

No pictures today - sorry! I forgot to take any...and she spent a lot of time sleeping peacefully today, and I didn't want to disturb her!

Her chest x-ray came back clear - no pneumonia. Her white blood count has dropped, so no apparent active infection. Her urine was clear, as well. Her fever never went back up after the tylenol brought it down last night. However, she did not pee at all last night. A-ha!! They finally figured out this morning that they weren't giving her enough fluids through her IV, and she was dehydrated - that's probably what caused her to spike the fever yesterday evening. So they bolused her and bumped up her continuous IV rate this morning, and she's peeing much better now, and her fever's gone.

She had a MUCH better day today. The surgeon came in early this morning and removed her tongue stitch, which she apparently slept through. Darrell said her heart rate immediately dropped about 30 beats/minute. That was one of the issues of concern that they'd been wondering about - her heart rate has been really high all along - 180's all the way into the 220's at times. Babies do run higher than adults, but still, that's way too high, and she was constantly setting off the alarms. Anyway, that stitch was obviously causing her a great deal of distress.

They had given her some morphine just prior to my arrival this morning, and she slept fitfully on my chest for most of the morning. Around 11:30 or so, I was able to lay her down in her crib and run down to the cafeteria to grab myself a quick bite to eat. She was just waking up when I got back to her room. I asked the nurse for some baby food and juice to see what I could cajole her into trying. What do you know - I got her to eat an entire jar of pears!!! She also took a little bit of apple juice from a cup - she wants NOTHING to do with the little tube attached to the syringe that they want us to use.

After filling her tummy, she played for a while with me. I got lots of smiles. She eventually got cranky, and we gave her some tylenol with codeine, and she went back to sleep. I laid her in the crib, and she slept SO peacefully for 2 solid hours!!! Her heart rate was in the 140's - the lowest it's been since her surgery. It was so awesome to see her so comfortable.

My awesome friend Amber surprised me by bringing me fish and chips and a shake at the hospital!! She just "happened" to be in the area - an hour from where we live. :) I'm so blessed with the most awesome friends! AND - when I got home tonight - I got to eat the best homemade spaghetti I have ever eaten! Seriously - loaded with basil and so much yumminess!!! Thank you, sweet Amber!!! I love you!

When she woke up, I offered her some formula, and she took about an ounce from a cup. She refused any more food or drink, and was pretty cranky. We weren't sure if she was in pain - she can still have IV morphine if she needs it, but the longer she's on that, the longer she's in the hospital - or if she's constipated, or just mad. I gave her a bath, which she badly needed, and that made her even more mad. I had just gotten her calmed down, when the nurse brought in a suppository for her...that was fun! But once I got her calmed back down, sans morphine, I was once again able to lay her down in her crib, and she slept for over an hour and a half!

Then Darrell got there and woke her up. Silly man.

I talked to him a while ago, and he said she finally pooped - yay! (It had been several days.) And he asked the doc about discharge, and he said he'd think about and they'd talk about it tomorrow, depending on how she's doing.

Her hemoglobin was 8.1 last night, so it didn't drop anymore, which is good - still very low, but at least not continuing to drop. I haven't had a chance to talk to the pediatrician about any other lab results or about a plan for following up on her anemia. It may just be something we have to get the neonatologist to follow up on after discharge.

The red mark is still there. It may have faded a little bit...hard to tell, but the swelling certainly hasn't gone down. I'm still inclined to think it's a trauma-sort of injury and that her back got hit on the crib. I just hope nothing's fractured in there!! (Though I'm thinking they would've been able to see something like that on the lateral view when they did her chest x-ray...maybe??? Nurses?? Help me out here...)

Anyway, pray that she continues to eat and drink, and that her pain stays under control, so that she can come home tomorrow!!

In addition to the yummy food from Amber, I have to thank my dear friends and family for helping out so much this week. On Monday, my sister-in-law, Chrissy, came here and stayed with Anthony and Makayla all day long...from like 6:45 a.m. til about 9:00 p.m. It was such a long day for her, and I'm so thankful that Darrell and I were both able to be at the hospital for Mackenzie's surgery. Tuesday, I took the kids over to my friend Allison's house, where they spent another long day. Poor Allison is about 7 weeks pregnant and in the heart of that first-trimester fatigue and nausea, and has two little boys of her own to care for, and yet graciously took care of mine all day too. Then today, my dear friend Kristi brought her crew of 3 little ones (9 months, 2 years, and 4 years) over to my house to stay with my two, and spent 12 hours here!!! I am surprised she still appeared to have her sanity intact when I got home, and didn't even go running out the door the minute I walked in!

Thank you my dear sisters and friends!!! I also have to thank my moms' group, who have set up meals to be delivered for the next week. It is such a HUGE help. I love you all so much!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Post-Op Day 2

As you can see in the picture, the swelling in her tongue and face has gone down quite a bit! That's a great thing! The doc thinks he should be able to remove the stitch from her tongue tomorrow morning, and hopefully then she'll feel more like trying to eat and drink. Thus far, she has not been too interested. I did get her to take a few sips of apple juice from a cup this afternoon, and she did show some interest in the apple I was eating...but when I tried to spoon feed her some baby food, she just let it fall out of her mouth.

I forgot to tell you yesterday - and I forgot to take a picture - the little gauze bandage that's over the place on her ear where the surgeon revised her ear tag excision - it's in the shape of a heart! It's so cute! I asked him today if he's the one who cut it out like that, and he said yes. How sweet!

Her breathing seems better today. She's been on room air all day, and has been keeping her oxygen saturation around 95-97%. They'd prefer it to be 100%, but they're not too concerned. She does still sound noisy and congested when she breathes, so they are still keeping a watch on that, and have discussed giving her another dose of steroids. Additionally, she does still have some overall swelling - her eyelids, her face, even her little fingers are chubby, and she normally has very slender little fingers. Her blood pressure was on the high side this afternoon, but they suspected that was because she was in a lot of pain when they took it.

Her fever seemed to be gone all day. Then mid-afternoon, it was around 100, and then early this evening, I noticed she was shivering and had goose bumps on her arms, so I called for the nurse to check her temp again - 101.7. Oops. So the doc ordered some bloodwork, a urine specimen, and a chest x-ray. Hopefully they will get to the bottom of it. She's already on IV antibiotics, so it's a little worrisome that she could still be brewing something...

The pediatrician that was on today wanted to hold off on having the hematologist see her, since she still had so many other things going on...so instead, they just ordered some bloodwork to be done. The only results we've gotten so far is that her hemoglobin went down more - it was 8.8 yesterday after surgery, and today it's 8.0. They ordered another CBC with her blood culture tonight, so they're keeping an eye on it to make sure it's not going to continue to go down.

The big mystery today is this random red, swollen spot that appeared on her back (actually, the swelling extends beyond the red area). It wasn't there yesterday. When I got to the hospital this morning, Darrell showed it to me. When I touched it, she freaked out. I showed it to the nurse, who got the pediatrician, who had a couple ideas about what it could be - a mark from laying on a cord, or maybe cellulitis (infection). She just wanted to watch it and make sure it doesn't grow. The nurse theorized that maybe she had hit her back (or gotten her back hit accidentally) on the crib rail. Later, the surgeon came in, and I showed it to him. He thinks it's a pressure sore from laying on the operating table for so long yesterday, and he had the wound care nurse come take a look at it. It was unclear to me whether or not she really believed it was a Stage 1 wound or not...but at any rate, she wrote wound care orders stating that she's not to be laid on her back or in her car seat. Not really sure how a Stage 1 wound would cause such swelling under the skin...but I guess time will tell if that's what it really is. And no, she didn't have any tape there...it's not a contact-type of reaction.

I talked to Darrell a while ago, after we changed shifts. He said when they came to draw her blood for the blood culture, she threw a major fit and pulled out her IV, so there was blood spurting everywhere and she made a royal mess! When I was there earlier, and they came to take her chest x-ray, it took 3 of us to hold her down for the x-rays. Three big, grown adults, to hold down a little tiny baby. The x-ray tech said, "Man, she is STRONG!" What a little spitfire she is!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Surgery Update and Prayer Request

What a long day it's been!!! I am overwhelmed, though, with gratitude - to our heavenly Father for His grace and peace throughout this ordeal, and to our amazing friends and family for their support and prayers which I know are making a HUGE difference!

They took Mackenzie back a little before 9:00 a.m. for surgery. The doc had said it would be around 11:30/12:00 p.m. when they would finish. 11:30 passed. 12:00 passed. 12:30 passed. 1:00 passed. I was starting to get really worried. That's when your mind starts going to the dark places...when your ears start listening for, "Code blue, Operating Room..."

I got a LOT of knitting done.

They came and got me and took me to the recovery room. They always assume, with babies, that mom will go first. I think Darrell's feelings were hurt. What about the dad? They only allow one person at a time at the bedside in recovery, so we had to take turns. Of course, it all depends on the nurse - last time, our nurse let both of us be in there.

I got in there, and our poor baby was crying and upset - take one look at the picture, and you can see why! They put a stitch through the tip of her tongue, and it's taped to the outside of her cheek. OUCH!! It's there because there's a big problem with the tongue swelling after this surgery, which can cause airway obstruction, and if they need to get the tongue out of the way in a hurry, they need to be able to do so - thus the stitch to pull the tongue out of the way. Still...ouch!

Surgery was more complicated than the doc anticipated. He was visibly exhausted when he came to talk to us. He said when he first got in there, her adenoids were inflamed and when he touched them, they started to bleed. He stopped everything and called for an Ear, Nose, & Throat doc to come up and take a look at them. That doc said they were okay and didn't need to be removed. Dr. Kiran said, though, that throughout the surgery, she continued to bleed, far more than usual. He asked why her hemoglobin was so low last time it was checked (in October it was 9 point something). We don't know - but she's on iron because of it. He said he would run an H & H and if her hemoglobin was below 7, he'd do a transfusion. It came back at 8.8 and 25, so he didn't transfuse her. He also said that he had a really hard time with her palate, which he didn't anticipate. The openings didn't look that wide, but her mouth is tiny, and no matter how he tried, he just couldn't get things to come together...so he ended up having to use cadaver tissue to close it up. He said in all the palates he's repaired, only one other time has he had to use it!

Not really surprised Mackenzie has to be different. It's the way our family does things.

Once they moved her to the Pediatrics unit, she started to have some mild stridor (breathing issues) and her oxygen sats were in the mid-90's, so the doc ordered continuous cool mist oxygen blow-by. She is swelling - her face (even her eyelids), her hands, her forearms...so they gave her a dose of steroids. She is running a fever, and she's already on antibiotics. She got a does of morphine, and a few minutes later had a major episode of agitation - which seems to confirm my suspicion from last time that she's having a reaction to the morphine - so they gave her some Ativan, and she calmed down. Her heart rate is too high - 190-220 - and they don't know if it's because she's in pain, or because she's anemic, or because she's got an infection and running a fever. The pediatrician is going to have a hematologist (blood specialist) see her tomorrow to further assess why she's anemic and why she was bleeding so much. She's actually still bleeding, from her nose and some from her mouth.

Darrell is spending the night with her tonight. Makayla was so happy when I got home, if she could've run to me, she would have. I didn't take a pump with me today, so I was pretty happy to see her too!! :)

When I talked to Darrell a little while ago, he said Mackenzie had woken up and gotten agitated again, and they had given her some more medicine, and she was now resting on his chest. Hopefully both she and he will be able to get some rest tonight!!

Speaking of rest...I'm off to get some myself! Thanks for your continued prayers and support. The hospital doesn't have internet, but I'll try to keep updating Twitter via my cell phone. My tweets show up both on this blog (in the sidebar) and on my Facebook page.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Surgery tomorrow

Edited to change surgery time.

While it seems as though her last surgery was just yesterday (though it was actually in September), our sweet little Mackenzie is headed in for her second surgery tomorrow morning. This time she will have her cleft palate repaired, as well as some further work done on the outside of her right ear (where she previously had a couple skin tags removed). I'm not sure of all the details of how the surgery is actually done, but the surgeon said it will take 3 to 3.5 hours. We have to check in at 7:00 a.m., and her surgery is scheduled for 8:20 a.m. How long she is in the hospital after surgery will depend on her recovery...hopefully it will go better than the last time. The doc did inform Darrell at the pre-op appointment that the poor baby will have a stitch through her tongue, attached to her cheek, for the first 24 hours after surgery. I just can't imagine how mad that's going to make her - she has quite a temper these days!!

Specifically, here is what I've been praying and would ask you to join me in praying for-
  • that the doctors would have wisdom and the skills they need during the surgery
  • that Mackenzie would respond well to the anesthesia, and that she would wake up easily and without side effects
  • that the pain medications would be effective and that Mackenzie will have minimal discomfort during her recovery
  • that Mackenzie will be calm and without agitation during her recovery
  • that she will be free of any infection going into surgery, and that she will remain infection free during the recovery
  • that Mackenzie will adapt well to whatever method of eating the doctor prescribes and will take in adequate fluids and food so that her hospitalization does not have to be prolonged due to poor intake
  • that we will have nurses who will ADORE our little girl and love her as if she is their own!!
  • that if there are any problems, the doctors will be open to our suggestions, recognizing that as her parents, we know our daughter best
I will send out mass text messages with updates tomorrow. If you don't get one, I probably don't have your cell number! Feel free to call the house or my mom or sister for an update if you aren't receiving the texts. My sister-in-law will be here at the house with Anthony and Makayla.

Aren't the pink sweater dresses just too cute?! Birthday gifts from my sister Karen. :)

Thanks for your prayers and support, everyone!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Quality children's toys and clothing in danger!!

Last year, we all read the news stories in horror as week after week, new children's toys were discovered to have dangerous levels of lead in them. As a parent of 3 young children, I was appropriately concerned, and I have started looking more closely at labels when I purchase toys - those made in China are low on my wish list! In response to the outrage, our Congress took action - too much action! In August, they passed the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, which is set to go into effect on February 10, 2009.

In essence, this law will mandate lead and phthalate testing of all products sold in the U.S. for children under the age of 12 - clothing, toys, etc. Both manufacturers and retailers will be held responsible for ensuring this is done. For the large manufacturers and retailers, this won't be a big problem.

But imagine the stay at home mom who makes unique baby gifts and sells them on etsy.com to help support her family. Or the small family-owned business who specializes in handmade, wooden toys. Or the three moms who went into business together making a unique line of boutique-style children's clothing. Can they afford the $4000 testing per item to comply with this new law? Were any of these businesses the ones who violated the public's trust in the first place? Has there ever been a problem with lead or other safety issues with any of these types of businesses? No!

And yet, these will be the very businesses who are put OUT of business by this new law.

Additionally - think about the thrift stores who sell children's clothing, furniture, and toys. They will be required to prove the products have been tested or forced to turn the donations away - can you imagine the HUGE increase in valuable products being sent to our landfills? And what about the already struggling families who rely on these thrift stores to be able to purchase low-cost clothing for their children?

Clearly our legislators did not take any of this into account when they enacted this law. Clearly they need to hear from US about how this is going to affect all of us.

Go here to find out who YOUR legislators are and contact them IMMEDIATELY to let them know that you want this law amended before it takes effect!!!

Here is another post on the issue.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday!!

It's impossible to believe that one year ago, on December 27, 2007, these two precious girls came into our lives! It feels like just yesterday, and yet, a lifetime ago, all at the same time. I remember laying in the recliner in the living room Christmas night last year, trying to get comfortable, wondering how much longer it would be, and waking just a couple hours later, feeling the contractions, wondering, again, "Is this it?" I remember timing the contractions, and as usual, they were coming one on top of another. I remember thinking, "I could go to the hospital, but I'm afraid they'll try to stop labor, and I know these babies need to come out! So I'll wait for my OB appointment at 10:00!"

I went to my appointment the next morning, and sure enough, I was 2 cm dilated already, and sure enough, he wanted to stop labor, since I was only 34 weeks. But I made my case, stated my concerns about Mackenzie's failing to grow and my gut feeling that she needed to come out, and he agreed to let me labor. And labor I did. For 39 LONG hours. But he let me have my wish to try for a vaginal delivery, and I was able to. It was a scary one, for once Makayla was out, Mackenzie crashed, and for 15 of the longest minutes of our lives, we didn't know what was happening as the doctor worked frantically to get her out and I pushed with all my might. Just when he said the words, "We're doing a c-section," her little head appeared. She wasn't crying, she was pale and limp, but she was out, and once she was out, she perked right up! And the doc's first words - "Oh, you're a tiny thing - it's a good thing we got you out when we did!" Mama's intuition was right. Babies needed to come out!

It's unbelievable to look back at the NICU pictures and remember. It's amazing how tiny they were. Mackenzie was still only 4 lbs, 4 oz when she came HOME from the hospital at 29 days old! Wow. What an awesome year we've had.

I loved putting them in the swing together - they slept SO much better this way! But we had to get them in there at the right time, together, otherwise they woke each other up! And this picture was just the best - it wasn't staged at all - Makayla totally put her arm around her little sister. So sweet.

And here we are, a year later.

Makayla is taking her first steps, saying, "More, more!", putting everything in her mouth, and shaking her head in a definitive "NO!" to vegetables. She has two teeth on top and two on bottom, and uses them regularly while nursing! Ouch! She rarely sleeps through the night, she's a total mama's girl, and she's got the best giggle. She's quite the ham and loves attention, though she's not much of a cuddle bug - she wants to know I'm near and that I'll pick her up whenever she needs me, but she's constantly on the go. She adores her big brother and follows him around like a puppy dog. She's a drama queen, and gets jealous when I'm giving her sister or brother more attention (or food) than she thinks they should get. She's pretty easily quieted, though.

Mackenzie is quite the little smarty pants. She may be a bit behind in some of her physical milestones, but cognitively, she's ahead. She's doing things 13-14 month-olds do, according to our early intervention teacher. She signs "more," says "mama," and waves "hi" and "bye-bye." She loves to play pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo, and will mimic several other signs. She loves to snuggle and be held; she's much calmer than Makayla and will sit on your lap for a long time. She does have a temper, though, and can through QUITE a temper tantrum, already, and it can take a LOT to get her to calm down when she gets herself worked up. She fights sleep like it's her worst enemy, but she does usually sleep through the night once she goes to sleep.

We had a little party to celebrate their first birthday, with a few friends. They were spoiled, of course! Their daddy had gotten them some little Santa's elf dresses, which were so cute. Mackenzie wasn't in a particularly good mood, since she had fought her nap and had only fallen asleep about 45 minutes before the party.

We gave the girls each a cupcake - their first. I wasn't sure what they would do with it. Anthony, on his first birthday, didn't really know what to do with his, and didn't really care for it. Yeah, I shouldn't have been concerned about Makayla - she knew EXACTLY what to do with it, and in a matter of like 90 seconds, hers was completely devoured! Mackenzie picked a little at hers, but pretty much just left it alone.

It's been a year of miracles and wonder for us. I can only imagine the blessings these girls will continue to bring us. We have so much to be thankful for!

For those of you who may not know, Mackenzie will be having her palate repair surgery on Monday, January 12, so please keep her and us in your prayers. As you may or may not know, the recovery from her last surgery was difficult, complicated by uncontrolled pain and agitation as well as pneumonia, so we are praying this time goes much more smoothly. Thanks!


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