April 22, 2012

Smiling.... and Project Simplify

Some things I am smiling about right now.....

A very generous gift received in the mail from anonymous. What a blessing! Totally unexpected! What kind of awesome person does this?

The Shr*ner's comment on our way to the hospital, "The last driver told me he was so impressed with your husband and how attentive he was to that little girl."  Music to a wife's ears.

Finally finding the perfect convertible carseat. Only took three tries.

Skyping with a couple from Thailand who wanted to know more about the treatment of Fibular Hemimelia in America. It was fun talking with them and seeing their sweet little girl.

Anna's face when riding this at a friend's house.

The OneRepublic album Waking Up. I know I may be a little behind, but I don't listen to the radio much and am enjoying it.... if a few years late.

The book "French by Heart" by Rebecca Ramsey.

Anna turning back into herself now that her casts are off: no more meltdowns on the kitchen floor. Sitting like a perfect angel in the shopping cart for the entire grocery run. Making friends with everybody.

Kroger carrying more health food/allergen-free food than I thought. I was looking in the wrong section. Foods I  didn't think they carried are available and clumped together in the Natural Foods section.

Only four more months until Ben graduates.

And Project Simplify....

I'm a big fan of keeping things simple. I don't like living with endless clutter or a million books, photos, toys, magazines, etc. This $5 e-book, "One Bite at a Time: 52 projects for making life simpler" put out by Simple Mom has been a great motivator for me. I love the idea. Each project is only 1-2 pages long. Many are things I have been thinking of doing or already started on before reading the book. I love that it's an e-book, so you can click on links and page numbers easily. I did print out the table of contents so I can check off the ones I've done so far.

I take it slowly and do one project here and there. Of course there are some that I don't need to do, or am not interested in, but overall it's good stuff. If you want to see what kinds of projects are included, I scanned my table of contents. Hopefully some of you will enjoy this e-book, too.
(Sorry if it's too small to read! Check out the link if you want).

April 18, 2012

Casts Off

Anna's procedure went well and we are all home resting up. The trip was long but good- I rode in the Shr*ners van and stayed right at the hospital. It was really convenient this way. I pulled my back out a week or so ago and then re-pulled it the day before, so I was not looking forward to taking this trip solo but I tried to pack really light and brought this for Anna to sleep in instead of the pack n play:

It's a Kidco pea pod tent- a gift from my parents a while back. It has a little inflatable mattress that goes inside, and it folds up to become the lightest thing you will ever see. Anna slept 12 straight hours without a peep. Nice.

Good choice because I ended up lugging our bags around and didn't mess my back up from it. The timing of the arrival was great as Anna went to bed fairly soon after we arrived. I stayed up and watched The Voice thanks to the pleasant surprise of cable in the room. I had some major trouble sleeping- not as bad as the night before the first surgery where I didn't sleep a wink, but it took a while to fall asleep. I kept kicking myself for telling my mom several months ago that she didn't need to come down. Despite being 8+ hours away and having a bit of an aversion towards hospitals following my father's coma and death, she was ready to be there at 6:30am to give emotional support, and I was feeling like I desperately needed it at that point. But I tried to view it as an opportunity to be a full fledged grown up. I think I stood up to the plate well- we only had two minor catastrophes the two days :)

Anna went under anesthesia at 8am and came out at 8:45am. She was not happy, but it was easier this time because she wasn't on any pain meds. I ended up in the same room as this really great woman from Florida and we talked pretty much the whole time. I was very thankful for the company. She flies in from Tampa every 8 weeks for her 3-year-old daughter to undergo surgery and receive a new full torso cast for her infantile scoliosis. My heart really went out to her for everything she has to go through- I think she said this was her eleventh surgery! I can't imagine. I was so thankful that Anna only needed her cast on for 6 weeks. The hospital was wonderful and all the staff were top-notch. Anna received a special toy and a new outfit for her Build-a-Bear, per tradition. I thought I wanted to go locally for her first prosthetic but now I'm not so sure. Side note: why didn't I ever think to go into prosthetics? It would have been such a great career field. My mind goes back to all those people in India who couldn't walk because they didn't have a prosthesis. Can I go back in time please?

Anna is doing great. Only one more day with the bandage and then she can go in the pool and bathtub. Two weeks wearing a compression sock and then we go back to have her leg checked and see if she is ready to be casted for her prosthesis. She is already putting weight on her left leg. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it isn't much shorter than her right, so she can still stand and cruise around. She still drags her leg along as if she had her cast on, which is pretty funny.

Anna dropped two diaper sizes (stress? burning off tons of calories?) and she is a skinny-mini. It's so strange to hold her without the cast! We are already thoroughly enjoying the lack of cast complications.
We are relishing in the following:

12 hours of sleep that is uninterrupted from bursts of crying and wet casts.
The ability for her to sit up- we don't have to hold her up for everything.
No more hijacking my blow dryer back and forth from drying Anna in her nursery to drying my hair in the bathroom.
She can fit comfortably again in her carseat and highchair.
Going back to our cloth diapers.
She can wear ANYTHING now! Yay!
She no longer smells like urine from the cast lining.
She can take a bath and get in the pool. Hooray!
I can take her outside when it's hot because we don't have to worry about her getting a rash.
I can feed her all the messy foods she hasn't been able to have- including her favorite, spaghetti.

The last six weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. I am going to go ahead and say they were the hardest. But it just makes the joy of the present that much more. Hooray!

April 12, 2012

Looking Good

Anna's fingers look a million times better than they did a week ago. We are happy with the transformation once the swelling went down. Apart from the scar, you wouldn't notice anything different about the middle finger. The ring finger is fatter, longer, and the tip hooks to the right, but it was that way to begin with, so overall it looks pretty darn good.

April 9, 2012

Happy Easter

These pictures were taken last week at our local Kroc center.

Creepy Bunny = Great place to take a nap? Who knew.

April 7, 2012

That time I didn't take anyone's advice (I meant to, I really did).

Everyone had such great advice about weaning and I agreed with all of it. I wanted to go slowly. To wait until the casts came off. But then I did none of those things.

Thankfully I think it all worked out for the best.

When Anna had her arm cast removed and Ben brought her home, she was in a strangely content mood. Probably the best mood since the surgery. That coupled with the knowledge that Ben would be starting one of his most intense rotations in the ER in four days motivated me to take this window of opportunity to wean Anna while she was happy and I had the moral support of the hubs.

Call it parental instinct, intuition, or whatever... when we were trying to decide which bottle feeding to drop, we had an epiphany. Dropping feedings wasn't going to work with Anna. We knew she wouldn't just forget about the feeding with distraction, she would more than likely throw a mini-fit all day long until it was time for her next bottle. She would be pushing for them all day if she knew there was a chance that at some point during the day, she would get one. She's persistent like that. We were afraid that she wouldn't 'get' that we were moving her off the bottle. We agreed that the subtle weaning-without-her-noticing thing wasn't going to work. So we decided to instead go with a more direct approach- tell her exactly what we were going to do up front and then wean cold turkey. Drop the bottles completely, move her to a new cup, and even drop a feeding. I know it sounds terribly fast and borderline abusive (ok not really), and I was very nervous about the whole thing but Ben was confident enough for the both of us. And it worked sooo well!

In the morning we gathered all the bottles together and showed them to Anna. We told her that she didn't need her bottles now because she was a big girl who could drink from a cup like mommy and daddy. We told her we knew she could do it, and then we said "bye bye" to the bottles. She immediately started crying. She knew what we were saying! I don't know if it's because Anna is so small for her age (and bald) that she still resembles a baby to me and therefore I assume she can't grasp most of what we say or what... but she gets it. She gets more than I think. It makes it so much easier when you can explain to your kid what's up. So even though she was pretty upset, we brought out her new cup (it was the same Playtex straw cup she was using before but smaller, with handles, and without a valve so she can sip easier) and I acted really excited about it, clapping and all. That was the first time she smiled. After that, we just doted her with extra attention throughout the day and gave her milk in her cup in the afternoon and before bed (we decided on morning, after her afternoon nap, and nighttime for milk. This is what worked best for Anna's needs and our own. We didn't want to be lugging around milk everywhere we went and trying to keep it cold, so for lunch and dinner she gets water).

If you can believe it, her attitude was actually better the day we weaned her than the entire last month when she's been whining for a bottle all day long. It's like we saved her from the tyranny of her own endless desires. Ha. It's really been great. She's even drinking the exact recommended amount of milk now that she's on the cup, completely on her own. I'm sure part of her improvement is also from having the arm cast off. Regardless, I feel like I have some of my daughter back! Can I just say that I also love how our kitchen looks normal again. No more baby bottle paraphernalia. She's also eating really well now that she's not snacking as much. I've gotten her to actually enjoy broccoli by putting some plain yogurt on it, and she eats sweet potato like it's candy. She has eaten a whole sweet potato at dinner before. Impressive.

Thanks everyone again for all of your advice! Even though I didn't take any of it. I guess this just goes to show that each child and circumstance is so different, you never know what will work out best. Moral of the story for me: don't sweat it. I feel 50% more laid back as a Mom already. Phew.

April 5, 2012

Finger Freedom

Anna's arm cast is finally off! She still has to wear a dressing on it for 10 days until it is completely healed, but it's sooo nice to not have to get whacked in the face every time I hold her.

The day before her arm cast removal, I took a few videos of Anna getting around with her casts. I want to remember how far she has come and how much she had adapted by the end of the four weeks. Here's a short video of her standing, cruising, and climbing down. She became adept at getting up and down with both casts within the last week or so.

Ben took this trip to Greenville solo. For many reasons, including the opportunity to relieve some of the travel burden by travelling with Shr*ners transportation, we needed to split up the next two trips. I knew I would have to go solo for the overnight stay when Anna goes under anesthesia to have her leg cast removed, so Ben took her on this trip to give me a break. The trips are exhausting and emotionally draining. It's hard to see Anna going through the processes each trip involves. We both felt like we only had enough emotional stamina to take the reins for one trip.

He said it was a good thing I wasn't there. Anna was scared when they took off the cast, but became pretty traumatized when she saw her fingers for the first time. I'm not sure if she was scared because of the scabs and stitches, because they were unrecognizable, or what. She pretty much lost it and was inconsolable for a full hour, crying each time she looked at her hand. Finally the nurse thought to go ahead and dress up the fingers. Once they were covered she was able to calm down. When Ben relayed this story to me, I burst into tears. I didn't think Anna would be so self-aware. I thought she would be thrilled to have the use of her hand back. Obviously, she was very disturbed by what she saw. This has made me think a little bit more about her leg cast removal. I thought she wouldn't even remember what it was like before, that she wouldn't think anything of it. But now I realize that it might be quite traumatic for her to see her footless leg for the first time.

During the surgery they separated the fused skin between her fingers and then used skin and tissue from her amputated foot to graft on to the side of the finger that needed it. In terms of appearance, the fingers will look better and better with time. From far away, they look pretty good.

Anna looking at her fingers while we change the dressing.

It was hard to get a close up of her hand because she kept moving around. This was the best I could do.

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post- you all gave some great ideas. I'll give an update on at some point.

April 2, 2012

To Wean or not to Wean. That is the Question.

In case you single people ever wonder what a Mom's mind is occupied with, here ya go.

I officially have no idea what to do about weaning Anna from the bottle. The deal is that six months ago I would have said, "At one year's old, no questions. That's the recommendation, that's what we're doing." Yeah....

Now I'm second guessing the whole when-to-wean thing. See, Anna used to treat the bottle only as a means for food. She wasn't particularly attached to it. I noticed at 11 months (around the time of her surgery) she started to show signs of relief and happiness when it was time for her bottle- she started to get attached and it has become a major soothing mechanisms for her during this recovery period. Let's face it, she's had a rough few months. Lots of adjustments. And the adjustments are only going to continue. That's where my dilemma comes in.

I attempted to give her milk in a cup instead of a bottle today and she had a major meltdown. It's not that she can't drink from a cup, or that she isn't eating enough solid food- she drinks water from a straw cup and eats solids well. Normally, I could work with her resistance but right now I feel like it's one more thing I would be putting her through. She's been so emotionally unstable since the surgery, I just don't have the heart to put her through something like taking away a primary comfort right now. I firmly believe that it's my job to set limits no matter how much she is going through, but I'm torn on this one.

Even if I wait say, six months from now, it's not like she won't be going through major adjustments then, too. She gets her leg cast off in two weeks and she will be adjusting to life without a foot. Then she will be fitted for a prosthesis and for the next six months she will be adjusting to a new limb. Talk about adjustment. She will have this heavy thing attached to her leg and will be learning how to use it and integrate it into her body. So even if I wait until she's 18 months, there's nothing to say it will be any easier. If I wait even longer, it could wind up being more difficult in the long run.

That said, there are two sides of the weaning coin. Many people say one year is it because of the increased chance of cavities, preventing them from seeking oral gratification, it interferes with speech, encourages chugging liquid, etc. So on and so forth. I know the deal. Then there are the other folks who say it's not that big of a deal and point out how our hyper-parenting culture is always coming up with new recommendations and turning them into life-or-death matters, that babies don't need to be pushed to become adults so quickly, that we are in way too much of a rush to push our kids on to the next thing these days, etc. I vacillate between the two points of view. I really can't decide what is best in Anna's case. Should we just get it out of the way, even if it will be really hard? Should we throw the recommendations to the wind in lieu of her special circumstances? I know that if she gets off the bottle it could be a rough road, and she won't be drinking as much which isn't great when it comes to constipation. But it has to happen at some point.

Thoughts? Should I do it now and get it over with? Wait until the casts come off? Wait until 14-15 months when she's adjusting to her new leg? Wait until after the leg and just forget about it for now? (I really don't want a two year old on a bottle).

If you are a parent, I am obligating you to comment :) Even if your child never touched a bottle, you are not off the hook. And no need to tell me I'm over thinking things. I already know that, ha :)