Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today the inevitable happened: Little Husband rolled off the couch and fell on his head (don't worry, he's okay).

It was only a matter of time. That kid was a whirling dervish from 20 weeks gestation. He *never* sits still. The only time he lets me hold him close to me is if he is in my lap and we're reading a book. He won't take naps with me, he won't cuddle and prolonged hugs are out of the question. Yesterday he was trying to dive off the side of the couch and the only thing preventing him from doing so was the vise-like grip I had on his ankle.

He needs to be more like his father. His father cuddles with and hugs me all the time. Sometimes while mid-embrace I'll look over to see Little Husband watching us, as if he's greatly comforted by our display of affection. The other day while Husband was hugging me I felt a tug on my pants leg. I looked down to see Little Husband looking up at us with his arms out, asking to be held. I picked him up and put him in between me and Husband and we hugged him with everything we had, but he quickly wanted no part of the group loving. That's just how he rolls.

Which brings me to him rolling off the couch. He was drinking a bottle and I, as usual, was sitting next to him with one hand wrapped around his ankle for safety. For one split second I let go to stretch, turning toward him as I did so (if I couldn't keep a hand on him, I would keep an eye on him). To my horror, he was no longer on the couch. I literally saw him dropping down and then heard the sickening thud as the back of his head connected with the wood floor. It was all in slow motion which is such a weird phenomenon. I mean, how on earth is the brain capable of slowing down events in that manner?

I swooped down and picked him up. He was silent for a moment as he digested what had just happened. I waited for the blood curdling scream that I knew was coming but what I got instead was much worse. He let out a high-pitched muted wail, a keening, and kept it up for several minutes as I held him to me, helpless. Husband grabbed a flashlight and we shone it in his eyes to make sure the pupils were dilating (they were). Then Little Husband did something that he's never done his entire life: he laid his head down on my breast and let me hold him to me. We stayed that way for thirty minutes as Husband continued to check his pupils and responses to various stimuli. When he smiled, we knew he was feeling better. When our handyman walked in the door and Little Husband emitted a banshee cry as a way of greeting him, we knew he was going to be okay.

I would never forgive myself if something happened to my little Wild Indian, especially on my watch. After all, it's my job to protect him and he trusts me 100% to do so. Consequently, I've had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach all day. This is the exact same feeling I had when we first found out about his heart condition. Fragile. Breakable. That's how I feel. I guess the feeling is the same because today--like back then--I was reminded just how quickly I could lose my little man.

And that's not an option.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cranradish-Salsa Jelly

In keeping with my Mother of the Year status, today, while making Little Husband a jelly sandwich, I first grabbed this:



Then, shaking my head at my absentmindedness, I grabbed this:



I meant to grab this:



Why is "clear jar with a white label and metallic green lid" so popular right now? Seriously, if I'd accidentally fed him either of the first two I'd have one helluva diaper to change later!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Is that rocket fuel you're rubbing into my feet?

For those of you not familiar with Groupon, it's a site that offers a daily discounted deals from local businesses. For instance, a local restaurant may offer the chance to purchase a $50 gift certificate for only $25. The buyer has a certain amount of time (usually a few months) to use the certificate. The idea is brilliant and the savings are awesome. Businesses are attracted to Groupon because of the instant, high-volume sales it generates. That and the fact that it's excellent marketing for the business.

I get a daily email from Groupon that details the deal offered that day. Here was today's deal:

"The hands are the astronauts of the body-the first explorers to make contact with any matter in your orbit-and the feet are the blazing rockets that propel you into space. Take care of your trustworthy space objects with today's Groupon to Polish Nail Spa: $40 for an essential mani and ultimate pedi (a $73 value)."

Are they kidding?!? Isn’t a spa supposed to be relaxing? There’s something about being rocket-propelled around space (by my feet, no less) that sounds pretty stressful. No thanks, Groupon!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Still Got It

Last night while Husband was hard at work in our office, I wrapped a white dinner napkin over my head, snuck out to the pool area through the master bedroom French doors, worked my way over to the office and--while hunched over and screaming--rapped on one of the office French doors. I like to think that my appearance and expression resembled a mix between the witch in Snow White and that guy in The Scream painting. Husband casually looked in the direction of my knocking, then, upon seeing me, his eyes widened and he joined me in screaming.

Oh yes, I'm back.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Finish this blog post

"Last night our new bed shook like the world was coming to an end. It wasn't."

I was looking through old blog post drafts and stumbled upon the one in quotes above. It was written just two months into my pregnancy. There is no title and is comprised of just those two sentences. I have no idea what the rest of the story was, but my imagination is running into overdrive. Knowing my rules for blogging, I am pretty sure that this story did not have a lascivious nature, but I dunno...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Losing It

I accidentally wore these to the dog park today:



Seriously, I'm losing it. I'm just glad I remembered to wear pants. I was walking along when I realized that my feet were getting hot. "That doesn't make any sense," I told myself, "Why are my feet hot?" Then I looked down.

They're hot because they're encased in big, white fuzzy slippers!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Like a "Last" than a "First" (also known as the "Goodbye Cheeseburgers" post)

It was inevitable. It had to happen. Much to my despair, nursing Little Husband is nearing an end.

I remember in the beginning how I had *such* a hard time getting The Mighty Stubborn One to accept this medium of food intake, i.e., he didn't want to latch on. "Don't give up for seven weeks," a wise mother-friend told me, "it will get better." I didn't and it did. That was some of the best advice I received to date.

It's hard to describe the feeling that washes over you when nursing your baby. Words like "tender" and "magical" come to mind. There's a closeness there that is indescribable and a certain feeling of pride as you watch your baby grow and know that it's a direct result of the nourishment that your body is producing. It doesn't hurt that nursing allows you to spend thirty unfettered minutes snuggling with your baby and inhaling his sweet baby scent. It's such a precious, private moment.

I'll miss cradling him in my arms as I absorb his warmth and plant kisses on the top of his sweet, downy-soft head. I'll miss his plaintive cries as he calls out to let me know that he's hungry and then latches on, sobbing, as if he hasn't been fed in days (Husband and I were always charmed by this bit of drama). I'll miss laughing during the later months as he would break his latch at the slightest sound, as if even the noise of a passing car warranted his attention. Most of all, I'll miss those groggy early mornings when I would tuck Little Husband into bed with with me and nurse him until we both snuggled into a comfortable sleep. These days, I can't get The Whirling Dervish to take a nap with me for anything.

Alas, though, nursing isn't supposed to last forever. Little Husband's regular food intake has increased and my milk supply has decreased and the only way I can get him to nurse is if he's starving. This limits us to early morning nursing sessions.

While I'm glad that I was able to stretch it out this long, I do wish that I could nurse LH through cold & flu season since the anti-bodies that I pass to him seem to do wonders in staving off illness. Although he's "fully repaired", I somehow still have the mindset that I am protecting a frail infant with a heart condition and I want to do everything in my power to make sure that I send him out into the world with as much protection as possible. I guess this is the first step in cutting the apron strings, right?

Try as I might, I don't see much benefit to losing my status as a milk maid except that all my old shirts finally fit again. My ravenous appetite can no longer be satisfied with plates of cheeseburgers and greasy fries. Junk food, such as pizza, will once again have to be eaten in rations, and instead of watching the numbers on the scale creep down, I suspect that I will now stand there in disbelief as they creep back up.

Kind of like how I felt throughout my pregnancy.

Still, I plan to limp along, nursing LH with whatever ounce or two I've got to spare, until one day there's simply nothing left to give to him. Hopefully by then I'll be ready, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Growing Up

This morning was a series of "firsts" for Little Husband. This was a bright spot on an otherwise groggy morning as I was kept awake until 2 am by a certain snoring/kicking someone who will remain nameless.

The first "first" was that Little Husband pushed himself up into a sitting position all by himself. He's probably a little behind on this baby benchmark but hey, it's hard to do push-ups when you're recovering from open-heart surgery.

The second "first" was this (you might want to lower your volume as my high-pitched squeals are annoying even to me):



The third "first" are his two lower teeth that are starting to come in (for sure this time). My gummy-smile baby is growing up, sob! I need to get some professional baby photos ASAP!

The last--and saddest--"first" I will blog about in another post.

Hmmm...perhaps it's time to rethink that second baby I've been so against.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Didn't Notice the Microphone When I Bought It

Despite all the fun that Husband and I have been having with this new toy--imitating a McDonald's drive-through worker, pretending like we're rap stars--something tells me that I am going to regret this purchase...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Tragic Day

Although Little Husband repeatedly proves otherwise, I repeatedly refuse to believe that he has outgrown his exersaucer. Here, however, is the irrefutable evidence:



Today I found him in this state three times before I gave up and set him elsewhere. Whatever will I do when I need to get things done?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happenings

I can't remember the last time I sat down to post anything to my blog, so much has been going on. For instance, we moved. We now have a guest room and an office. We also have this:



The pool truly would be heaven if I ever actually got to use it, however, I never get to use the pool because there seems always to be some sort of contractor lurking about the premise. Just yesterday the fence guys finished installing the fence but I still can't use the pool because Creepy Pool Guy is coming at some point today to clean the pool and add chemicals. You might have figured this out, but I'm not a big fan of Creepy Pool Guy. When he comes to our house to clean the pool he looks in the back windows to see if I'm home. He only does this when he needs to talk to me, which happens to be every week. In my opinion, he should be walking his butt around the house to the front door and knocking like the rest of the civilized population. He's doesn't know it yet, but he's about to be fired and not for his Peeping Tom tendencies. He's about to be fired because he's a belligerent SOB with an attitude problem. Besides, I found another company whose pool guy isn't quite so creepy.

In the picture above you can see that our new home has a great many windows. The side of the house with three levels of windows is actually our living room (tall ceilings). Once per week I hear a loud, startling thud which means that another bird has flown into an upper window. Up until two days ago, there had been no fatalities nor even any casualties, however, that changed for one poor birdie on Tuesday. At that time I sent Husband a text message that went something like this:

"I am so glad that I am not the man of the house."

The poor bird flew into the window, then hopped around our pool deck in a state of shock. Not knowing what to do and unwilling to touch a filthy bird, I watched helplessly from my bedroom window (it seemed asinine to call animal control over something like this. I need to reserve those calls for the snake that lives under our front deck). After a while, the bird curled up under a window as if it were taking a nap. "Oh good," I thought, "It's going to live!" Right then the bird shuddered and died. Something started leaking out of it's mouth. I shut the blinds and sent Husband the text alerting him to his after work clean-up duty. "That's men's work!" I declared in my text. Husband did not disagree.

Ten days after our move we went to see my family in VA. Little Husband did very well on the three-hour plane ride. He kept his fussing to a minimum and enjoyed playing peek-a-boo with our fellow passengers. I tried the old "nursing upon takeoff and landing" trick to keep his ears from popping, but every time I pulled the nursing cover over his head, Little Husband would flail and punch mightily at it with his fists until the cover was rendered useless. What was most humorous was watching Husband flailing about, trying to keep me and The Whirling Dervish covered up. I guess men are protective like that.

Little Husband loved his time with my parents and his aunts and uncles. He truly loves them and it was such a pleasure to witness. He treated my mother as an extension of me, and he loved, loved, LOVED being teased by his "Grandaddy". So cute. He also got to spend a great deal of time with one of his aunts and there was much loving and teasing there as well. That baby sure does love to be teased!

In other news, Little Husband's paternal grandmother just bough him this:



I know it's ugly, but in a cool sort of way AND it's going to have a stylin' red cushion. I love me some red!

That's it for my news. Not much to report except every time I visit my old 'hood I see Santa sitting aimlessly at one of the bus stops that line my old street. He never fails to holler "Hey Mama!" at me and wish me well. I miss my quirky old neighbors. The people in our new neighborhood are friendly, but I don't have my normal gaggle of eccentric personalities to monitor. That needs to change, and I am going to make it my current mission to figure out how!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Distracted

With so much to do between closing on our new house and selling our current one, I find myself quite distracted with mental lists of everything I need to accomplish. This was illustrated perfectly this morning as I stepped out of the shower and grabbed my face toner. I poured it onto a cotton pad and began to vigorously wipe it all over my face. A split-second later the smell hit me: instead of grabbing my toner, I'd grabbed my nail polish remover. Naturally it was the super industrial strength salon-grade one that lists acetone as its first ingredient. Now that the burning has subsided I can objectively say that my skin looks great! My oil glands don't know what hit them!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Homemaker of the Year

Let me start with this: Husband loves, just LOVES to read the newspaper from cover-to-cover in the morning, especially on Sundays, especially the Sports section. On Sundays he'll tuck away into our sun porch where he sips coffee and reads the entire local Austin paper and the Wall Street Journal. I know better than to mess with Husband's paper before he reads it. Even the dogs tiptoe reverently around Husband's paper. Nobody messes with Husband's paper.

Last Sunday I was in a frenzy trying to get our home ready to go on the market. We are going to close on a new house in a few weeks and will need to sell this one quickly which means that it must be immaculate. Feeling a burst of energy in 100+ degree weather, I grabbed the ladder and a squeegee and started vigorously washing the exterior windows. One window had a stubborn film that would not wash away no matter how many times I wiped it down with a sponge, so I got creative and went inside to grab some newspaper figuring that the newspaper ink might do the trick. The first paper I saw was the Sunday paper and I paused as I considered grabbing one of the sections but, since it was late afternoon, I figured that Husband had already read it. With this logic in place, I randomly grabbed the front page of a section and polluted it with window film and cleaning solution until it was in tatters.

Sidebar: late afternoon is *the* hottest time of day in Texas. What was I thinking washing the windows at this time? This is the time when all Texans become as soft as tea cakes and lounge around until dusk sets in and the air begins to cool off. No Texan in their right mind performs hard labor at this time of day.

That evening after a long, hard day of hauling our extraneous "stuff" to a storage unit, Husband collapsed on the couch as I began preparing dinner. I heard the newspaper rattling and didn't think much of it until Husband asked, "Honey--what happened to the front page of the Sports section?" I glanced up to see that indeed the front page was missing from the precious sports section. My mind flashed to the tattered paper in the trash can. "D-didn't you read it this morning?" I asked, buying time as my mind raced. "No," Husband replied. "The paper came late and I had to get all this work done around the house while the store were open so I didn't have time to read it." "Oh, well I um...(mumble mumble) washed the windows (mumble mumble) kind of ruined..."

Husband just gave me "that look" as he tried his best not to be mad at me. He succeeded. He's a sweet man, just don't ever tell him so.

----------------

Later that same night as I continued to straighten the house...

"Husband, did you clean the Exersaucer?" I asked in delight. First of all, I never in my life thought I'd utter a sentence like that with such emotion, but there I was doing just that. Like probably all mothers, I have a love/hate relationship with the Exersaucer. I love how much Little Husband loves it. I love how cute and happy he is when he plays in it. I love how he hollers at and beats up and tries to eat the toys. That's where the loving stops.

I hate how big and garish it is. I hate how it takes effort to get Little Husband seated comfortably in it. I hate how that it has one million nooks and crevices that render it impossible to clean. This is significant because whenever LH is in The Big E, as I have now dubbed it, he spits up multiple times. My theory is that as he stands up and whirls around in the spinny-seat, he keeps bumping his tummy against the frame thus purging his most recent food intake. It's gross, my friends, I know, but that's motherhood.

Anyway, Husband looks up from the paper and admits, "I didn't clean the Exersaucer."

"You didn't?" I asked, confused, "That's so strange. It was practically coated in spit-up and now it looks like it's been through a car wash."

Husband thought for a minute. "You know, I did see Le Pooch Grande lurking around it earlier today..."

Dumbstruck, we looked at each other as the realization set in.

---------------

In other news, Little Husband and I were snuggling in bed this morning--as we do most mornings--while he nursed. I guess I dozed off because all I know is that I was in the middle of a dream where I was hugging Husband tight and the next thing I know, I woke up to Little Husband pushing me off of him as if to say, “Mom—get offa me! Stop hugging me so tight!”

(Sigh!) I felt an apron string cut already...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mother of the Year

This afternoon while I fixed a turkey sandwich, I plunked Little Husband down in his exersaucer where he merrily played, spinning and bouncing all around for 20 minutes. Then I noticed this:



From a different angle:



How it should look:



It looks terribly uncomfortable to me (can you imagine bouncing around with your foot all twisty underneath you like that?!?) but Little Husband just laughed and giggled away as I snapped pictures of it. I guess he wasn't too bothered by it. I wish I could bend like that!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Blog-Roll

Sorry everyone I blog-rolled, but a friend's blog was compromised so I decided to play it safe and remove all links on this blog. It doesn't mean that I don't love reading your blog, it just means that I'm not going to link to anybody anymore.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Celebration, Pain, and a Ride on a Private Plane

This past weekend Little Husband took his first flight ever to visit a great aunt who was terminally ill. What's significant about this is that a family member had the means and felt it worthwhile to charter a private plane, so Little Husband's first plane ride ever was in serious style. Crazy. My first plane ride ever was when I was 18 and it definitely wasn't a chartered plane.

This morning we awoke to some fabulous news--my little niece was born! I am so excited to meet her in August. Then we were met with some not-so-fabulous news...Little Husband's great aunt passed away. What's interesting is that the time of death and the time of birth appear to have been at exact the same time, give or take a minute. No kidding, no exaggeration. The two are from completely separate families so it's not as if someone can claim 'reincarnation' or anything, but still it's interesting.

Oh, and it's Little Husband's grandmother's birthday as well. Happy birthday, Nana!

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Baby Called "Head"

When Husband was in high school he was one of those guys that stood 5'11" and weighed 135 lbs---a true bean pole. Unfortunately, his head didn't get the message about staying in proportion with his body so it grew and grew and grew. This was the 70's so his big 'fro of curly hair didn't exactly help matters. From what Husband tells me, he looked like a lollipop. As we all know, kids can be cruel and the kids at his school--where Husband was a minority--were no exception. In order to keep from getting his a$$ kicked on a daily basis, Husband took up basketball and became friends with all the guys on the team. A wise move. Still, that didn't prevent his new found "friends" from teasing him and one day, as he was walking down the hall, he heard one of his teammates call out, "Hey--that's the dude they call 'Head'".

The guy was talking about Husband.

Fast forward to June 26th, 2009 where I am sitting at my laptop furiously inputting Little Husband's measurements (taken today) into a Baby Growth Percentile Calculator. Here's what it came back with:

Height - 25th percentile
Weight - less than 5th percentile
Head - greater than 95th percentile

Look familiar?

We're installing a basketball hoop pronto!

Happenings...

Here is what our little Brookstone weather monitor is telling us about the weather outside:



Seriously, it's 89 degrees but "feels like 108"??? What on earth did Texans do before air conditioning came along?

Yesterday, on my way to meet the girls for dinner I saw this:



Even though it was 107 yesterday, the dog seemed fine, happy even. It was kind of cute.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Zero interpersonal skills? Come sit next to me!

Ever had one of those weeks where you're a freak magnet? I seem to be having one right now. Here are my freak stories in order of appearance (all of these stories are going to start out with, "I was minding my own business..."):

Two days ago I was minding my own business while putting gas in my car. Suddenly a *very* friendly guy materialized out of nowhere and walked up to me with a big smile on his face as he called out, "Hey there!" So friendly was he that I thought for a moment that I knew him. It wasn't until he busted out his cleaning solution spray bottle--the kind they use at NASCAR, apparently--that I realized I did not know him at all. He proceeds to start spraying my car (without asking) and cleaning certain areas to demonstrate the superior cleaning power of his NASCAR product. Mind you, there could have just been water in that bottle, for all I knew, but why split hairs?

I considered making a joke about feeling like I'd been transported to a stop light in the seedier part of Baltimore but thought better of it.

Anyway, he continues talking and cleaning and I notice he has a trainee watching his every move. Apparently his parent company thought that he had some mad sales skills. Every time he sprayed another area, he'd hand me the bottle to hold, as if I was going to examine it in all its greatness. At one point I burst out laughing (at him, I admit) but he didn't seem to get the joke. Finally he revealed the price: $25 for a bottle and with that bottle you get five, count them, FIVE full washes that you get to do yourself! I didn't want to burst his bubble by pointing out the car wash not ten feet away that will do the exact same thing without my having to lift a finger. I just looked at the bottle, then the car wash, then politely declined.

Super Sales Guy immediately looked past me as if I were of no further interest to him (because I wasn't!) and walked off towards his next sucker.

I headed toward the car wash.

-------------------------

Yesterday I was minding my own business, walking from the bathroom to the living room when some guy opened up my front door and poked his head in. "Hello?" he called out. "Oh hi," he said when he saw me. I stopped dead in my tracks and blocked him from coming in. All 5'2" of me.

So stunned was I that I just stared at him. Encouraged, he started babbling.

"I noticed that you are getting new carpet installed and I know the builder of this house and I was going to ask the carpet guys for the remnants. You see, I use them for my dogs to lay on so that they don't have to lay on the hard floor (insert syrupy, animal loving smile here). I know the builder and he doesn't mind when I ask for remnants--I do it all the time. I was just driving by when I saw the workers' trucks. Actually, I saw them this morning but I couldn't stop then so I came back. Anyway, if they have remnants I sure will take them because I know the builder."

"The builder?" I asked, none-too-friendly. "Do you think this house is under construction?"

"Well I assume they are just finishing up..." Seeing the look on my face, his voice trailed off.

"This house is NOT new, in fact, we have been living here for ten years! This is our private home and you are scaring me. There is a baby here (why did I say that?!?) and you shouldn't be walking into our house!"

"Oh, well, I didn't mean to scare you. I just saw the workers' tools here so I was going to knock but then figured it would be okay to poke my head in and call out to them. You see? I didn't even come inside. I mean, the builder is my friend and all..."

"Okay, look, we want to keep our remnants, thank you, and this house is not under construction, okay?" I put my hand on the door knob to indicate that the door was about to be closed in his face.

"No problem...maybe you ought to lock the door..."

(sound of door shutting in his face)

What chafes me is that I get a lot of flack for locking my house up like Fort Knox (hey, I'm a DC girl at heart) and the ONE TIME the door is unlocked some creep tries to walk in. The door was unlocked because the workers kept having to go out to their truck and tools and it made no sense to keep locking the door on them. Plus, we have a front gate that usually deters people from coming into our front yard. What scares me is that had it been 30 seconds earlier, I would have been in the bathroom and this creep probably would have walked into my house. What scares me more is that Little Husband was asleep in the corner of the living room.

----------------------------

Today I was at the grocery store, picking out some food and minding my own business when some older man starts following me back to my cart. "You know," he said eyeing the prepackaged mashed potatoes in my hand, "my wife makes mashed potatoes from scratch and they are the best on the planet. You really should try making them fresh instead of buying the premade ones."

Seriously? Did some dude really just give me, a harried mother with a seven-month-old in tow, flack about buying ready-made food?

"Actually, they're free." I told him.

"They--they are?" Bewildered, his head whips around to the mashed potato display and he begins madly reading the sign above them.

"Yes. If you buy 2 lbs of chicken breast, the mashed potatoes are free. I bought 2 lbs of chicken so I'm getting my free mashed potatoes."

Recovering, he stands a little taller and starts in on his sermon again. "Well my wife makes them from scratch..."

"So do I," I interrupted, "But these are free so it made sense to take them."

Undeterred, he kept talking. "And you can buy whatever potato you want because it won't matter, my wife's mashed potatoes are still better than yours."

"Okay, well I'm sure you're right." I said patronizingly as I backed away.

What gives? I mean really--what gives? Am I wearing some sort of sign?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dear Dad

I just found your Father's Day card, the one I bought several weeks ago, hiding in a drawer along with Husband's Father's Day Helicopter gift. Whoops--sorry about that! I'll still mail it, but obviously it will be several days late. In order to make up for my oversight, I will post a special Father's Day video taken only a few short hours ago of your seven-month-old grandson squealing. I hope you like it and Happy Father's Day to the best father a girl could ever have. I love you, Dad!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

For Husband

They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that's true. Okay, so I stole that line from a movie, but it's so apropos to what happened the day I met Husband that I give myself permission to use it as if it is my own. Here's what happened...

I was walking up the stairs of a restaurant with an upper section that overlooks the lake near my house. It was July 26th of 2002 and the air was muggy and humid so I was pulling my hair up off my neck as I reached the landing. Right then I looked up and locked eyes with the most handsome man I had ever seen. Tall, with thick, dark, wavy hair and hazel eyes, he was dashing--my ideal. His eyes widened when he saw me, and I took this as a good sign. I knew I had to meet him but I didn't know how to approach him. I've never been comfortable chasing men.

I was new to Austin and was at a UT MBA alumni happy hour as a guest of my cousin. I didn't know a soul, but that's never deterred me before. As I made my way over to the group, I realized that he was attending the happy hour as well. This was good news as I figured that I could make my way around the crowd and eventually catch his attention. I managed to accomplish this in, oh, 10 minutes or so.

We stood next to each other and I was immediately at ease as I drew him into a conversation. He had a perpetual smile while talking, and his relaxed manner only encouraged me. We quickly found out that we were both from DC and both never wanted to move back. I have no idea how much time passed as we stood there locked in conversation, but as the sun was going down his friends invited me to join them for a beer at another restaurant. I was dead tired and really didn't want to go, but I sensed that I might never see him again if I gave up this opportunity, so I accepted. I then turned to Prospective Husband and asked, "are you going to the restaurant too?"

"Yes," he responded, "Me and my girlfriend will be there."

It was as if I had been punched in the gut.

I try always to stick to my promises and commitments so despite this terrible letdown, I joined the group at the next restaurant. Prospective Husband was there as was his very pretty girlfriend. At that moment I gave up on him and decided to just enjoy my new friends and think nothing more of this guy who was so perfect for me. At some point Prospective Husband left with his girlfriend only to return 20 minutes later; he was in a rage.

Okay, maybe not quite a *rage*, but he was pretty mad as he stalked into the restaurant, slammed his fist down on the bar and declared, "I need a drink!"

For those of you who have met Husband, you know that this is completely out of character for him as he is normally very level-headed and mild mannered.

"Uh oh, looks like they had another fight," one of his friends muttered to me. "Those two are always fighting. I don't know why they're still dating."

Prior to Prospective Husband's return I was about to go home, however, as my favorite saying goes: Daddy didn't raise a dummy. I stayed.

It didn't take long to cajole Prospective Husband out of his foul mood and get him smiling again. It never does. We moved our party to a popular rooftop bar where Prospective Husband and I talked while his friends scoped out girls. We talked until 2 am as he opened up to me about the troubles in his four-month-old relationship. "It shouldn't be that hard," I told him.

He should have listened to me.

A few weeks later found us meeting for coffee at a favorite lake front coffee shop. It was a Friday afternoon and I thought it was a date so I took great pains to wear something cute lest he invite me to dinner afterward. Apparently he thought it was a friendly networking session as he gave me advice about who I might contact in my search for a job. After 30 minutes he looked at his watch, stretched, thanked me for the nice time and announced that he had to go meet his parents and girlfriend for dinner. I was dumbstruck but somehow managed to wish him a good time. In fact, I was in such shock that, as I was backing out of my parking space, I crashed my car into a fire hydrant. Mortified, I looked around wildly to see if he'd witnessed my stupidity. Funny that in a time like that, I cared more about his reaction than the huge, expensive dent in my car.

Years went by and we ran into each other from time-to-time, but he was still dating that same girl. Funny, though, I never saw her with him. Even funnier is that whenever we did see each other (usually at a party) we would hang out for hours talking and laughing. I was so at ease with him and so in love with him but I knew it was hopeless. He had a girlfriend and he saw me as just a friend and I had to respect that. Not once did he ever flirt with me or lead me on which caused me to respect and love him even more.

Almost four years after we met, in a moment of sick-of-dating-losers-weakness, signed up for eHarmony. Actually it was Melek who encouraged me to do so. She'd met her fabulous boyfriend on that site so I decided that the same might happen to me. I duly paid my $110, answered the 436 questions and pressed "send". Three days later I checked my email and nearly fell out of my desk chair: Prospective Husband was one of my matches. It turns out that he and his girlfriend had broken up the year before.

The very next year Prospective Husband became my husband.

And the year after that? Little Husband was born.

Happy second wedding anniversary, Darling. I will never forget the day I laid eyes on you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dad, your day has finally come

There's that old saying that the sins of the father will be revisited by his son, or something along those lines. I don't remember it exactly. In short, I believe it's predicting that your children will do to you what you did to your parents. I've always been a little afraid of this prediction because I wasn't exactly a model child. In fact, not long ago my father and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: "Dad, what was I like as a small child?"

Dad: (without hesitation) "You were a hellion. An absolute hellion. Don't get me wrong, I mean, we *liked* you and all, but..."

Me: (stunned silence)

So there you have it. I'm sure that *my* father has been greedily rubbing his hands together, waiting for me to be blessed with my own little hellion. Well, Dad, your day has finally arrived.

Little Husband, for sport, enjoys nothing better than screaming at the top of his little lungs. I don't mean cry-screaming. I mean one long drawn out blood curdling scream. He does this when he's being tickled. He does this when he's bored. He does this when he's frustrated/angry/tired/you-name-it. He does this in stores. He does this in restaurants. He especially likes to do this at his paternal grandparents' house. Yesterday he did it all. Day. Long. At one point late in the day and at the height of his screaming fits, he would narrow his eyes and throw a death glare my way. I swear he was trying to turn me to stone.

On the bright side, while his mouth is wide open I use the opportunity to examine his gums for budding teeth since he won't let me do so otherwise.

I thought this behavior was pretty normal--a phase of sorts--but this weekend we were among friends and every time he let one rip, everyone would turn toward me and Husband with a bemused, "Whoa! He's pissed." That reaction tells me that this behavior is not normal. Me thinks my son has learned how to throw one hell of a temper tantrum.

Of course, when *I* was younger--MUCH younger--this was in fact very normal behavior for me. I remember screaming so loud that my throat would be raw for days. I remember grabbing onto banisters and door jams while my mother and older brother struggled to carry me to my room. I remember being locked in my bedroom and attempting to bash a hole in the plaster walls with my metal roller skates (my father damn near killed me when he got home from work and found out what I was doing). Oh yes, I remember throwing tantrums galore and consequently I'm afraid. Very, very afraid.

We're going to visit my family in August and we'll be staying with my parents. I can already imagine my dad standing in a doorway, arms folded and chuckling to himself while he surveys Little Husband revisiting my sins upon me.

I am so screwed.

Monday, May 4, 2009

This is why we can't get a sitter...

This is Little Husband's preferred method of sleep. Needless to say, the "smother position", as I term it, freaks the babysitters out. I can't imagine why...

Happy Baby

Little Husband and I took a walk down to the lake this morning to grab a cup of coffee (me) and enjoy the beautiful morning. I think he liked it.



Yes, Mom, I had the stroller brake on and the tether strap secured to my wrist.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mean Mama!

Little Husband's latest party trick is to grab the newspaper while I am reading it, crunch it up with all his might, and then cry inconsolably when I won't let him eat it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feeling Old

I was emailing a prospective sitter and I noticed that her email address was her last name, first initial and the number 85. "85"? I asked myself. "I wonder what that stands for? She's a senior in college, so it can't be the year that she graduated. Perhaps it's the year that her dad graduated from high school or college. That would be weird, though. Why would she include her dad's graduation year in her email address?"

After a few more minutes of musing, it hit me: 85...the year that she was born.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dear Santa

Last year, I wrote about a neighbor whom we fondly refer to as Santa. Santa is a quirky guy---probably hovering near 70---who lives in one of the 1950's condos next door. Santa has been the center of this drama and this drama and is a constant source of mild amusement to both me and Husband. Last September he stopped me as I pulled out of my driveway and told me all some mysterious presents he has for Little Husband. After reading this post about it, many friends advised me to avoid receiving the presents altogether. I felt this was wise advice so I complied.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. My life has slowed down considerably since Little Husband's birth and I find myself ever fascinated with the goings-on in everyone else's life. It's not that I am a busybody, per se, it's just that I now have more time to think and care about other people. At least that's what I told myself the other day as I was digging around in the abandoned corner lot, trying to uncover the reason why Husband heard someone digging there at 10:30 on a stormy, moonless night.

I know I'm digressing, but I feel that I must first relay this story. Husband was walking the dogs around the block after a heavy thunderstorm. The block is a 1/2 mile long. As he neared the far end of the block, the one with the abandoned house and wild, overgrown lot, he heard the unmistakable sound of a shovel clanging against dirt and rock. The owner of the property died over a year ago, and the property has fallen into ruin. As Husband rounded the corner for a better view, he spied an old, beat-up pick-up truck parked on the side of the road. Not one to invite trouble and sensing that something bad was going down, Husband got out of there quickly. He came home, told me the story and my imagination went wild. I resolved to visit the site the very next day and inspect the grounds for signs of a fresh grave or buried treasure. The thought of possible danger thrilled me but, of course, I could not subject Little Husband to such danger. I had to go alone.

It took several days, but I finally found the opportunity to go down to the lot and take a look around. I ventured timidly onto the property with my dogs as if they had "led" me there and I was merely following. As the minutes ticked by I grew bolder and ventured deeper into the property near the shed where Husband heard the digging. I lasted all of three minutes before I hightailed it out of there fearing that a boogeyman or crazy, ranting homeless guy would pop out of the shed and give chase. I never did discover why that person was digging on that dark and stormy night, but I did see a pile of rocks that I decided must be a human grave. I'll have to go back and inspect that another day.

Back to Santa. So I'm running on the track near my house one Saturday morning and suddenly I see Santa. I run a few more laps and then slow down to walk beside him. "What's new, Santa?" (I don't really call him that). "Not much---and yew?" he asked in his East Texas drawl. Since he asked, I told him. I talked all about Little Husband's heart condition and surgery and how well he is doing. "Ya know...I never did give you that gift I got fer the little fella." Santa mused. "Well you'll just have to bring it on by!" I told him. Hey, I blame it on runner's high.

A few days later I was out on my front porch and heard Santa milling around in his doorway. "Is that you, Santa?" I called over the fence. "Yup!" he responded. "I'm coming over!" I announced as I made my way down the porch steps. "Oh no---don't do that! Let me come over." Santa sounded slightly panicked--the way you might sound if your house is a mess and you don't want someone to see it. "No problem, I"ll wait right here."

A few minutes later I saw a flash of blue on the other side of the fence and there was Santa rounding the corner and bearing gifts like a Wise Man. He looked so proud as he marched up our walkway clutching his treasures.

And what were his treasures, you might ask? A gently used globe and a children's dictionary. I was touched but also ashamed of myself for avoiding this little gift exchange for so long. Mostly I was touched. I could think of no reason why Santa would spend his time and energy on me and my son, but he did and he did so without asking for anything in return.

Well, he did ask for a babysitting job but I think I successfully dodged that one.

You Asked for It

Because I am extremely busy doing next to nothing (what *do* I do all day??? I have no idea!) I haven't been keeping up with my blog. Someone, I won't say who, is emotionally blackmailing me to post something so here it is.

Here's Little Husband eating his gruel:



Here's the little bird opening his mouth in the hopes that I will spoon some mashed peas into it:



And here he is caterwauling like a feral cat (his latest party trick):




There is absolutely nothing wrong, mind you, he's just screeching for the sake of screeching. He refuses to exhibit this behavior when he knows he's on camera which is why we have to resort to trickery. Our theory is that he doesn't want his beloved grandmothers to know what he is really like.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Happenings

Recently some things have been going on with Little Husband's health that I've found rather difficult to share openly. I realized today that I tend to not share things of this nature because I want to shield my friends and family from worry and grief. I guess my thought process is that if I keep it to myself, no one else will have to hurt like I do. I don't do this conscientiously, believe me. I never even knew that I did this until I married Husband two years ago and caught myself doing it with him. If something was wrong and there was a chance that it would turn out okay (and there was nothing he could do to influence the outcome), I wouldn't tell Husband about it. That way, he wouldn't have to worry. I never want anyone to worry.

By now most of my friends and family know that Little Husband had a disappointing check-up several weeks ago with his cardiologist. It was the first appointment we had back in Austin after the surgery. During surgery they decided to spare the pulmonary valve because it was just a tiny bit undersized (normally they remove this valve as part of the corrective surgery). Had they removed the valve, it would guarantee that Little H would need another open heart surgery later in life (teens to early twenties) to replace it. If they spared it, there's a chance that it could fail to work as it should and cause other problems. Either way, Little Husband will always have a heart murmur because his valve is shaped differently than a normal one. Unfortunately, during that first visit we learned that his murmur was loud--on a scale of 1-5 it was a 5.

It was so loud that when I took him for his 4-month check-up, the pediatrician, after holding his stethoscope up to Little Husband's chest, reared back quickly and looked at me as if to say, "Do you know about this?!?"

Anyway, back to the cardiologist. He outlined our options and told us that there was a very real possibility that medical intervention would be necessary for Little Husband. This could be as simple as inserting a catheter through a vein in his thigh and expanding a balloon up in the valve or, if this failed, it could mean another open heart surgery. I was sick about it. I couldn't bear the thought of my little baby going through another surgery.

Weeks have gone by and each visit to the cardiologist shows the murmur decreasing. Two days ago it measured out at 3.8. I am almost afraid to hope that things might be okay, for I fear having the rug ripped out from under me again (referring to the day that LH was born although that was more like the whole foundation than a mere rug). The cardiologist feels comfortable enough with the current state of the murmur that he told us to wait one full month before coming back to see him. Unfortunately, we were back in his office just this morning.

Here's what happened: This morning while Husband worked from home, a very cool, Texas-sized thunderstorm rolled in. Our little family snuggled together while we watched the show outside. The mood was cozy and safe and joyful as we made plans to go for a run (after the storm) and to take Little Husband out for his first boat ride this evening. I took Little Husband upstairs to change him out of his PJ's and what I saw on his chest made me gasp: it was the beginnings of an infection at the very top of his surgical incision and it looked like it was spreading. I am terrified of an infection, you see, because if it reaches his heart, he could die. I think I fear infection more than any other complication that may arise from Little Husband's surgery.

Momentarily paralyzed, I called out for Husband but he was using his electric razor and couldn't hear me. Recovering my senses, I raced into our bedroom with Little Husband and laid him down on our bed. Husband joined me as we inspected the wound. I was in a panic but I toned it down for Husband---I didn't want him to worry as well. Forty-five minutes later I was at the cardiologist's office and, because Little Husband was not running a fever or showing any outward signs of being in distress, the doctor suspects that what we're seeing is a surgical suture working it's way out of Little Husband's body.

Oh Dear God in Heaven I pray that's all it is.

Still, I'm going to watch that baby like a hawk. As long as he's his usual smiling, happy baby self I'll know we're okay. My job will be to make sure that he's laughing.

------------------------------------

We went to a nice gala last night as guests of Husband's parents. We were so excited to go since we missed the American Heart Association gala due to Little Husband's surgery. I really wanted to wear my kickin' ball gown, you see, but that wasn't in the cards for last night. It wasn't that sort of gala so instead I settled on a black cocktail dress (I'm so original).

The dinner was wonderful (I ate like a trucker) and the entertainment was fabulous. I'm not particularly well cultured so take this with a grain of salt but the pianist was the best I've ever heard. After the concert we went out on the terrace for champagne and cupcakes. The cupcakes were small--about the size of a golf ball--so Husband decided to grab another as I waited a few feet away. It was then that two men swooped in and hijacked our evening. Now, I'm always up for talking to new people, but these guys were something else. They went on and on and on about their glamorous lives and all the famous people they knew. "Blah blah blah and then Fergie (Duchess of York) told me that she liked my tie...blah blah blah and I told Pavarotti that we ought to go hunting some day and blah blah blah..." Husband and I were dying. We tried to ditch them by going to the bar for a glass of champagne but they followed us. After forty-five minutes in their company, we left. I was so disappointed because these days it's a rarity for Husband and me to get any time to ourselves and thanks to these guys we lost what precious little time we had. I wish I knew a polite way to "lose" someone in a setting like this, but I haven't mastered it yet.

Prior to that, at dinner, I was seated next to a doctor who practices in the Austin area. We began discussing the medical school in Dallas and I told him all about Little Husband's surgery. It turns out this man is well-connected in the pediatric cardiology field and he shared my misgivings about the Houston hospital (I still need to write a post about what happened in Houston and why we decided to transport LH to Dallas for surgery). As we talked he told me about a heart related charity in Austin that I would be well-suited for. I can't elaborate in this blog for anonymity reasons, but I do believe that I've found my purpose. In short, I would be an advocate for babies and children who need open heart surgery but cannot afford it. I would be their voice and I would fight their battles. I believe I have found my calling.

----------------------------------

On a final note, I've been forever meaning to write about an incident that happened a few days into our hospital stay in Houston. Husband and I were switching off who stayed in the hospital with Little Husband and who slept at the hotel. It was my night to stay with Little Husband and I was exhausted so, when he woke at 3 am for a feeding, I pulled him into bed with me to nurse. Naturally we both fell asleep but the beauty of nursing in bed is that the baby has access to food any time he wants it. Several hours later I woke up to find Little Husband happily nursing away while eight doctors and residents stood around us and watched the show. The worst part is that they pretended like nothing was happening and began conversing with me as if my boob (which is bigger than Little Husband's head) (sorry Dad) wasn't hanging out in all its glory.

Good times.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's Tummy Time!

Today, Little Husband was cleared by the cardiologist to get started again on Tummy Time. Here's how Tummy Time goes in our house: I place Little Husband on the floor and he lays there with his face mashed into the floor, pathetically crying and gnawing on the carpet as if the wool fibers are the only only meal he's had all day. At no point does he make an attempt to lift his head or do the proverbial "push-up" which, to my understanding, is the whole point of Tummy Time. Then, if that doesn't garner any sympathy, he'll start crying, then screaming like he's being branded with a red-hot cattle prod.

In essence, Little Husband found a way to render Tummy Time completely ineffective.

Out of desperation (why does it seem like everything I seem to do these days is prompted by desperation?) I did some research and found an inventive way to get Little Husband to cooperate during Tummy Time.

Old Tummy Time:



New Tummy Time:



He loved it and spent a whopping ten minutes on that ball, lifting his head, doing push-ups and just generally allowing me to roll him all around. I'm sure he'll catch onto me and renew the protest, but I've got a plan: once the novelty wears off I'll just pour a few drops of Sweetease on the ball and let him lick away!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Shhhhh...

Guess who's on his 8th straight hour of sleep?

Guess who popped awake after six straight hours of sleep and now, at 4 am, cannot go back to sleep? Don't feel sorry for me, this is the longest stretch of sleep that I've had in ages. I feel like I could go run a marathon or something!

The irony is, over the past few weeks I've tried every trick under the sun to get Little Husband to sleep longer than 3 or 4 hours. Last night I tried nothing; my bag of tricks was empty. I simply stuck LH in bed and that was it. No schedules, no Ferber, no rice cereal, no nothing. I am particularly grateful that he's sleeping so long because Husband is out of town and I was dreading handling all the night wakings myself.

Guess who just woke up? He must have sensed that I was about to start getting productive.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"T" Stands for "Tough"!

You haven't heard from me lately because I can only blog while Little Husband is asleep. At night when he goes to bed it's a race against the clock for me to get myself into bed since I know that I'll be unceremoniously wakened in five hours. Then I'll be wakened again two hours after that and again 45 minutes later, and so on until 5 am strikes or I beg Husband to go deal with him (whichever comes first). Little H used to only wake once each night but that's changed since his open heart surgery, and I don't know how to deal with it. Therefore, while Little H is sleeping I'm reading books on how to get him to go to sleep and stay asleep. Makes sense, no?

Here's a picture of Little Husband dancing on his "T" rug the week after we returned home from the hospital. You can't see his chest scar because I took the picture with my phone, but believe me it's there. It's about five inches long and looks like someone scraped down the front of his chest with a ragged fingernail. Little Husband is oblivious to its existence, that's why we call him Tough.




I thought that Older Sister's perspective on this picture was particularly insightful:

"He really is strong evidence that people can make a choice to be happy."

Well said, Older Sister. Here's to my happy little baby. Now if I could only figure out how to get him to be that happy at four in the morning...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mom Car

Today I went from this:



To this:



I am grieving.

I told Husband that the minute Little Husband can safely sit in the front passenger seat, Husband had better have another manual transmission convertible on order. Doesn't have to be new or expensive, just has to have a top that comes down.

Otherwise, I'm going to go from this:



To this:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Because Open Heart Surgery at Three Months of Age Isn't Enough...

Here's why it's noon and I'm not even dressed yet:



No, he's not crying because I put that ridiculous wizard hat on him. He's crying because he's cutting his first tooth! He's been gnawing on his hand non-stop, poor little guy. In one of my many "mother-of-the-year" moments, I swaddled him the other night only to realize, when he woke up screaming a few hours later, that Little Husband's hands were trapped and he was unable to gnaw on his hand to soothe his aching gums.

The worst part is that at times I can't tell if he's crying because his gums hurt or because his chest hurts. MY question is, why haven't we, as a human race, evolved out of this sort of hell? Why can't babies just be born with teeth or, better yet, no pain receptors in their gums?

I've looked into the various remedies for teething and they are effectively useless for a three month-old. Little Husband cannot yet hold a teething ring let alone bring it up to his mouth. Different sources warn against topical analgesics due to their side effects. I've had two people mention some tablets that the baby can chew on--I need to look into these. Does anybody else have any ideas or input?

If baby doesn't sleep, mamma doesn't sleep, and when mamma doesn't sleep, nobody's happy...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Homecoming

We turned left onto our street after a 4-hour drive home from Dallas. It was 4 pm and Little Husband slept most of the trip, so Husband and I knew we were in for a challenge this evening. As we rounded the corner, I noticed an SUV parked in our driveway and I immediately bristled at the thought of having to entertain someone after returning home from a 15-day trip. Then I realized that the car belonged to my mother-in-law and my irritation faded.

We walked into our house as she was putting fresh-cut flowers on the table. A nice bottle of wine accompanied by our best crystal sat waiting for us. A freshly cooked dinner was in the refrigerator as well as fruit, vegetables, cheese and roasted peanuts. She had thought of everything.

There, attached to a dining room chair, was a helium balloon. It was a basketball. Little Husband will never be able to play football or rugby, but basketball should be just fine.

Husband and I thanked her profusely as we looked forward to a wonderful meal. Then the meltdown started.

The nurses warned us that Little Husband might have a hard time transitioning home, and I saw that they were right. We swaddled him and cradled him and changed his diaper multiple times but he was never calm for longer than 15 minutes. I nursed him hourly but he'd only eat for 10 minutes or so (he usually eats for 30). After a few hours of this I decided to try to feed him one more time, so I asked Husband to prepare a bottle for him.

"Do you want to feed him breast milk or formula?" Husband asked me. His eyes were slightly wild and reflected the stress of driving almost 200 miles and then having to deal with a fussy baby.

"Just fix the formula. All the breast milk is frozen so formula will be faster. I just need a bottle quick," I instructed him. "The formula can be found in the---"

"I've got it," Husband interrupted, "I've got it right here."

I looked up wondering how Husband would know that I'd stuck the formula in the pantry. Husband was looking down at a bottle he was assembling as he proudly waved the "formula" in the air.

It was the can of peanuts.

We're tired. We're so tired.

Home, Home, We're Going Home!

Finally! 15 days after it all started, we're headed home! We had one last checkup with the Dallas cardiologist today and they sent us out the door with a "fare thee well".

The nightmare is truly over.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Motherly Guilt

I was just reading a blog where a mother was asking a question in relation to motherly guilt and I decided I could expand on the topic in today's post.

Children's Hospitals, no matter how many trains are running through the lobby or how brightly painted the hallways are, can be places of intense loneliness. "You would be amazed," my favorite nurse told me, "at how many people drop their sick children off at the hospital and never visit them."

How on earth can a mother worth her salt do that to her child? If I so much as leave the room for one second to go ask the nurse something, Little Husband senses my absence, bolts awake and starts screaming as if he's going through another open heart surgery minus the anesthesia. (Yes, my kid is spoiled but we'll fix that later.)

I first witnessed this phenomenon in the ICU in Houston. They ran out of rooms so LH was put in a room with a tiny baby whom I suspect has Down’s syndrome. He was asleep most of the time--I almost never saw him move or open his eyes. He had tubes taped all over his body and wires that led to multiple monitors that were constantly alarming. I noticed, after several hours, that no one ever came to visit him. Clearly he had loved ones as his crib was adorned with toys and balloons, but for the duration of our stay in that room (7 + hours), he was on his own. This was especially heartbreaking when I noticed a movement in his crib and looked over to see that he was crying – silently because he had a tube going down his throat – with all his might. His tiny little fists flailed in the air and his head shook from side to side, but no one was there to calm him and I couldn’t do so because the nurses would have killed me. I did the only thing I could think to do: I sang a lullaby which I directed at Little Husband but was meant for him. I’ll never forget that sweet little baby crying for a mother who wasn’t there to comfort him.

After we moved over to the Dallas hospital I shared that story with my favorite nurse. A shadow passed behind her eyes as she commented, “You wouldn’t believe the parents who drop their kids off here and never visit them. It’s heartbreaking and it happens all the time. We have volunteers who come in and visit the kids, but it isn’t enough as they don’t work the weekends. These poor kids go without a visitor the entire weekend. The nurses try to keep them company but we still have to do our jobs and sometimes the parents complain when we bring the kids out to the nurses’ station and play with them.”

“I don’t suppose I could go into their rooms and just talk and hang out with them for a bit…” I began. She shook her head sadly, “No, I’m afraid that’s against hospital policy and privacy restrictions.”

I vowed right then and there to volunteer at our local children’s hospital once Little Husband was enrolled in preschool.

A few nights later I was chatting up the ICU nurse and the topic of parents who don’t visit their children came up once again. The nurse told me, with tears welling in her eyes, how a little, tiny baby girl had been taken off life support just the day before. Not one single family member or friend cared enough to show up at the hospital and say goodbye to her. This poor little baby had to make the transition into her next life with just the hospital personnel by her side.

Yesterday, my favorite nurse and I were chatting again and I told her what happened in the ICU with the baby girl. Again a shadow passed behind her kind eyes and she told me this story:

Favorite Nurse had a patient who had been in and out of the hospital throughout his teen years because he was morbidly obese and his heart just couldn’t handle the strain (he was approximately 400 lbs). In fact, his mother passed away a few years prior from the same sort of thing. This boy desperately needed a heart transplant but he wasn’t a viable candidate for one due to his weight. The hospital tried over the years to control his diet but every time he was discharged and went back home, he’d revert to his old habits and regain all the weight. When he was 17 his heart was in such bad shape that he was admitted to the ICU. No one visited him, not even his father. The hospital called Favorite Nurse at home and asked her to come in and stand by his bedside, but by the time she got there he had passed away (she missed him by minutes). This poor boy was all alone with no one there to say goodbye to him and tell him that he would be missed. I cannot begin to imagine how unloved he must have felt.

This morning we had to take Little Husband down to radiology for an x-ray. In the waiting area there was a man with his four year-old son. The little boy was engrossed in the cartoon as his dad and Favorite Nurse conversed. It turns out that this little guy was on his second heart transplant. It turns out that his first transplanted heart was found to be “as hard as a walnut” when they performed the second transplant surgery. The doctors commented that this little boy should have died. The father laughed and said, “It was amazing—we had no idea that anything was even wrong with him! He was still running all over the place and full of energy up until it was time for the new transplant!”

After he left, I turned to Favorite Nurse and said, “I wouldn’t last a day working here.” Then I let the tears fall.

“I know,” she said, “It’s tough. But then you see parents like that and it makes it all worthwhile. That little boy survived on a bad heart because he has such strong, loving, devoted parents. Their strength makes him strong.”

Then she looked directly at me, “And that’s how I know that Little Husband is going to do just fine.”

This changed my perspective on motherhood. For instance, tonight my little family of three hung out in our hospital room joking and laughing and loving on one another. “We’re probably spoiling Little Husband by letting him sleep on us all the time,” I informed Husband. “I’m not worried about it,” he responded, “we can worry about all that after he’s healed. For now, I’m holding him whenever he needs me to.” I agree.

There are so many sources out there (books, friends, doctors, family) who make you feel guilty—like you’re spoiling your child—by giving them too much love and attention. I’ve decided that there’s no such thing. From what I’ve seen, when you are doing everything you can to love on and protect and comfort your baby, you’re doing just fine. In fact, you’re perfect.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Little Mama Has Gone Crazy!

I haven't had a chance to continue the saga about what happened to us in Houston and why we moved Little H to the hospital in Dallas, but I will over the next few days. Suffice to say, once you read it you'll see why all of this stress has rendered me crazy. For example, one night while we were in the Houston hospital, I went to go find the kitchen which was in room 35. I found the room, walked in, and started rummaging through the drawers and cabinets. In my peripheral I noticed that everyone else in the room had stopped what they were doing and were all looking at me, but I was too tired and distracted to care. Then it hit me: "This isn't the kitchen, is it?" I addressed to the room in general. They shook their heads "no". "This is your private hospital room, isn't it?" They all nodded. I left without another word.

I have many more examples like that, but I can't remember any of them right now (because I'm crazy).

In other crazed mother news, Little Husband has been moved out of the ICU! He was actually discharged last night but there were no rooms on the regular floor so he stayed in his ICU bed one extra night. Our surgeon said this was for the better as it can be a little tricky moving a patient to the regular floor during a shift change. I wasn't sure what he meant, but I suspected it had to do with keeping up with the pain meds. I'd heard that sometimes the pain management orders get lost or don't get followed when a patient moves out of the ICU, so I did my best to manage the situation. I swear I must have spoken with everyone who crossed my path--from the surgeon to the valet--in order to make sure that Lil' H's pain meds were good to go. I was told in no uncertain terms that they were. I spoke at length with the nurse on duty to find out what he'd been prescribed and when it was to be administered. I thought I had all the bases covered.

This morning, after the first restful sleep since this nightmare began, I strolled in the hospital certain that all was well. They moved Little Husband to his new room and shortly thereafter he started screaming. I mean, SCREAMING. I knew immediately that he was in pain. Husband went to get the nurse and came back shaking his head. "The nurse said that they screwed up his pain medication orders when he transferred floors."

"WHAT?" I think I almost had a coronary. I then morphed into Shirley McClaine in that role she played in "Terms of Endearment" (the one where she starts screaming at the nurses because they were late with her daughter's pain meds). After the shot was administered I started grilling the head nurse to find out what happened. She did some investigating and came back to tell me that it had been SEVEN HOURS since Lil' H was last given any meds (he's supposed to get them every three). I was livid. I think my head was spinning on its axis. The nurses kept their heads down and worked as quickly as possible. I can't even remember what exactly I said to the nurses, but I do remember envisioning the freak-out I was going to have on the ICU staff.

I looked over at the head nurse, "HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? I WAS WARNED ABOUT THIS! I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS HAPPENED! HOW DID MY SON GO SEVEN HOURS BETWEEN PAIN MEDS?!?"

"I don't know," she said, "but I'm going to find out!"

"THAT'S GOOD BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T FIND OUT, I WILL!"

With this, I looked around. Husband had left the room. My mom was in a chair in the corner, trying to make herself very small. Everyone was tense.

I couldn't help it. I can usually keep myself under control but I tend to lose it when it comes to my child. He's helpless, after all, and I consider it my full-time job to make sure he's got what he needs when he needs it. I'll calm down before I get crazed and become a helicopter parent.

At least I hope I do.

On a lighter note, our new room has a kickin' view of Downtown Dallas...

On an even lighter note, we've nicknamed Little Husband "Stay Puft" because he's retained so much water post-surgery. It sounds mean, but it's said with much love. He's normally a lean baby but the fluid retention makes him look like a chubby little marshmallow dumpling. So cute!

How come I don't look that cute when I've retained water?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Little Husband Update

Little Husband is still in the ICU but is doing very well! His breathing and drainage tubes have been removed and he actually drank 4 oz of Pedialyte this evening. The next step is to get him to drink breast milk. This should be no problem---Little Husband was dubbed The Milk Monster for a reason!

Even though he continues to improve and show us just how vigorous he truly is, the doctors do not expect him to leave the ICU and go to the normal pediatric floor until sometime this Saturday. This is good as two of our (and his) favorite pediatric nurses don't work until Saturday.

As you can imagine, Husband and I have taken more pictures of Little Husband in the past week than we have in all the time leading up to this hospital stay. Here are a few...

This is Little Husband with Laura, his favorite nurse. Little Husband definitely has "a thing" for blonds. This picture was taken the day before his surgery and we can't wait to see him smiling and flirting again.


This is him two days before surgery holding his own pacifier which is a rarity. Usually I have to stand there and hold it in his mouth for him. This kid's not spoiled one bit, no siree!



Here he is this afternoon in the ICU, just before drinking the Pedialyte...


...and here he is after the Pedialyte looking like a Ninja. Go Baby Power!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

He Made It!

Praise God, he made it!

The nightmare is over.

Update #4

Little Husband came off the heart/lung machine 30 minutes ago and is now under observation. Strong little guy! It's almost over. The nightmare is almost over.

Update #3

We just received another update from the OR nurse: the surgeons are almost finished with Little Husband's heart repair. Once they are done with the repair, they will close up his chest and prepare to take him off the heart/lung bypass machine.

Keep those prayers coming--we're in the home stretch!

Update #2

Little Husband is now on the bypass machine...

Update #1

Little Husband was wheeled into surgery shortly after 8 this morning. We just received an update from the OR nurse: Little Husband "went under" just fine, and surgery is about to commence. We were concerned about how he would react to the anethesia since he prove to have problems with being sedated, so this is a tremendous relief. We should have another update in an hour and a half.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Surgery

Little Husband is slated for surgery at 7:30 am on Wednesday, February 18th. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. I feel helpless.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Nightmare

It was Wednesday morning and we were driving Little Husband to Houston for a surgery consultation. I was nervous about this trip because he would have to be sedated for his echocardiogram. He had been sedated one week prior during a surgery consult in Dallas, and my gut instinct told me it wasn’t a good idea to sedate him a second time so soon. Sedating an infant is pretty hard-core: the sedative is given orally and tastes terrible, it takes the rest of the day for it to wear off, and the baby reverts to infant-like behavior such as kittenish crying and no muscle control. Not an easy thing for a parent to witness.

Little Husband screamed when he’d been given the sedative in Dallas. Plus, for some reason he didn’t fall asleep right away like most infants do. In fact, it took him 20-30 minutes to fall asleep and even then he woke up after only 20 minutes (he should have been asleep for an hour). I guess our little guy wanted to show us who was really in charge.

He did just that in Houston.

We arrived for the consult on time and were led back to the room where they sedate him. The nurse weighed him and performed the calculations that determined how much sedative Little Husband would be given. I mentioned how he failed to fall asleep in Dallas. I immediately regretted telling her that fearing that she’d give him a little extra, “just in case”.

Just like the first time, Little Husband screamed bloody murder when he tasted the sedative. The nurse and I took turns trying to calm him and 15 minutes later he was finally in a light sleep. We took him to the echocardiogram room where they hooked him up to a monitor and began tracing his tiny chest with their sonogram probe.

15 – 20 minutes into the test, just as the ultrasound tech was tracing the wand around his stomach, Little Husband began to stir and cry out. Husband comforted him. Then the baby started to cry a little more and we noticed his blood-oxygen level start dropping. It went from being in the high nineties to the eighties. Then the seventies. Then the sixties. Ignorantly, I had no idea what level was considered alarming (anything below 85, as it turns out). As the oxygen left his blood, Little Husband became more and more agitated and was kicking and flailing. The nurse, obviously out of more creative ideas, demonstrated her finely tuned understanding of inconsolable babies: she attempted to restrain him by holding his legs down. Little Husband freaked out. They stopped the ultrasound so that we could work on calming him as this was the best way to raise his 02 level. His crying got worse as did his oxygen levels. I remember looking at the monitor at one point and his blood-oxygen (02) level was in the 30’s. I got up on the table to hold him; he was inconsolable. I tried to breast feed him because he had to fast for four hours prior to the echo and I thought he might be hungry. He wanted no part of it. The nurse placed oxygen tubes in his nose but his 02 level would not rise above the 50’s or 60’s. Finally realizing that things were spinning out of control, the nurse called for the cardiologist and then went to go get an infant oxygen mask.

By this time Little Husband was a shade of ashen-grey. His feet, however, were blue.

The cardiologist (who was devoid of a personality) walked into the room and offered some lame advice that didn’t help. Another more competent doctor joined us and offered better coaching. In hindsight it occurred to me that not one doctor ever offered a hand in assistance. I guess the technical stuff is beneath them; the egos in that hospital are mountainous.

“It looks as though Little Husband just had his first tet spell,” the competent doctor told us, “unfortunately this means he bought himself a night in the ICU.”
The nurse held Little Husband in a jackknife position as Husband and I took turns holding the oxygen mask to his face. Various doctors, nurses and technicians joined us from time-to-time as we waited for a room in the ICU. Little Husband, semi-conscious, would struggle feebly against the oxygen mask but then give up as if the effort sapped too much of his strength. Due to lack of bed space, three hours passed before we were led to the ICU.

We walked into the ICU and a team of hospital personnel were standing outside the door waiting for us. The atmosphere was charged as everyone visibly sized up Little Husband’s condition. I couldn’t help myself, I started to cry.

Once in our room, the team of nurses went to work putting in an IV and drawing blood. “Wow—we’ve blown two veins already,” one nurses commented to me. I didn’t know how to interpret that statement.

Grateful to be allowed to stay with Little Husband, Husband and I took our post in some chairs stationed against a wall. It had been at least six hours since we arrived at the hospital. I was in a skirt and high-heeled boots. Husband was in dress clothes as well. The chairs, while padded, were as comfortable as metal folding chairs. Finally, the nurses stabilized Little Husband and handed him to me. He was weak with fatigue and nothing like the vibrant, giggling, rolly-polly baby whose diaper I changed just prior to the start of this nightmare. My mind kept flashing back to how cute he looked on that changing table as he smiled up at me and rolled around, knees drawn to his chest. As I gazed down at his sleeping, cherubic face, I studied him for signs of that little boy but there were none. I silently apologized to him for not protecting him. I looked over at Husband---he looked drawn and tired. I’m sure I did too. My heart never broke so hard as it did that night with the three of us alone in our ICU room.

To be continued…

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

How apropos that it's February 14th and we're driving our little Valentine up to Dallas to get checked in for heart surgery.

More to follow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hamming It Up for the Camera

Little Husband is going to be one of the "poster babies" for an upcoming charity gala. Here are the results of today's photo shoot. He looks like he's cooking up trouble in that last photo!









Thursday, January 15, 2009

Up to Something

He has my poker face.

He Made It!

I was milling around my kitchen, absentmindedly cleaning up and praying for Owen. Little Husband was sleeping on his car seat on the counter in front of me. He looked like an angel. I thought about the parallel lives that Owen and Little Husband lead. I'd no sooner thought "It's as if whatever happens to Owen happens to Little Husband" than an email came in on my Blackberry. It was from Tobacco Brunette. Owen survived the surgery! He survived! I leaned against the counter and wept with joy.

He survived.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And so the clouds lifted

As some of you know, Tobacco Brunette (TB), who is becoming rather dear to me, is in the same predicament I am in terms of having a young son diagnosed with ToF. I've been religiously following TB's blog as it gives me a possible glimpse into what the future may hold for Little Husband. TB and I also correspond via email several times per week and, among other things, we share the results of our baby's doctor's visits. Until yesterday, everything was going well for both of us. Then TB's son had a "tet spell" and everything changed.

TB's son is slated for surgery within the next few weeks. Please, please say a prayer for her sweet, little baby boy Owen. As common as the surgery is, no one can ever predict what the outcome will be, and that's what strikes the most fear in her (and my) heart. The thought that we may never see our little men smile and coo and sleep and breathe those sweet baby breaths is often too much to bear. I handle it by keeping those thoughts to myself or pushing them away. But still, they live with me every day--make no mistake about that. When I comfort Little Husband in the early morning hours with the only illumination being the moon, I'm am wondering if our nights together are numbered. This is the greatest fear I have ever known: losing someone I love as much as I love my little baby. That shouldn't be discounted.

After reading about TB's experience yesterday with Owen and his tet spell, I had a minor breakdown. Fortunately, Husband is the calm one so he comforted me back to sanity. Owen wasn't supposed to get sick, you see. Owen's test results are great--near perfect. Just Like Little Husband's. Owen shows no signs of turning blue, just like Little Husband. Owen was simply supposed to have surgery with no outward signs of having a congenital heart defect.

At least, that's what I told myself. Owen's hospitalization smacked some sense into me.

Today I took action! I learned all about what to do during a tet spell (net result: call 911! No ER heroics for me, I'll leave that to the experts). Husband and I signed up for a CPR course. We happened to have an appointment with the pediatric cardiologist and we peppered him with all sorts of questions. Even though Little Husbands blood-oxygen levels were at 100% (100%!), I outright told the cardiologist that I no longer trust those numbers based on what happened to TB.

Side bar: our cardiologist was blown away that I have a friend whose son is only three weeks older than LH and has the same diagnosis. As a result, he took my fears seriously and never once tried to down play my concerns due to the fact that Little Husband's test results are looking so good.

Unfortunately, today's echo cardiogram revealed that Little Husband has a muscle in his heart that is thickening. One month ago it wasn't so bad, in fact, last month the cardiologist thought we might get lucky and never see a tet spell. Today he had to retract that statement.

The mood around our house this afternoon has been rather somber. I've been piddling around, doing housework and watching Little Husband sleep. Husband had to go back to the office. Both of us got online and performed a little research on surgeons and pediatric heart hospitals. What we found is very encouraging. In fact, inasmuch as one can be excited about open heart surgery, I feel that we are in a very fortunate place. The hospital that our cardiologist recommends, Texas Children's Hospital, has been listed as one of the best in US News and World Report. The surgeon that our cardiologist promised to put us in contact with happens to be the one featured in the article.

For the longest time I was having trouble conjuring up images of Little Husband post surgery. I tried so hard to imagine him taking his first steps or getting on the bus to kindergarten but my brain simply would not produce the images. I began to fear (greatly) that this meant that these things were never going to happen. Today, after this simple set of coincidences, I have a little hope and I'm clinging to it.