Monday, October 15, 2012


I can't tell you how tired I am of everyone being sick.  It seems to be a constant thing around here.  I feel like we haven't had a break since Zach was born.  With possibly a week's break in the middle of it all, we've had newborn-itis (having to get up regularly throughout the night to feed a newborn makes you feel like YOU are sick!), heart problems and surgery including a two-week stint in the hospital, bronchitis (Tyler), bronchiolits (Zach), colds (everyone), walking pneumonia (Carl), and more colds.  That said, I think we might be turning a corner (knock on wood) and Zach totally slept through the night last night.  We're talking from 8pm to 7:30am...I am praying it wasn't a fluke but the beginning of something beautiful! :)

Somewhere along the way Zach has decidedly become a thumb-sucker and a blanket-lover.  He learned to roll from his back to his stomach but complains rather frequently because he hasn't quite figured out how to get back.  And of course he is still regularly submitted to brotherly "love".

He has started rice cereal but it's sort of a bust right now because he doesn't seem to like it.  After a few days of practically forcing him to eat even a couple of tablespoons we opted to try out some of the other grains.  We're not sure if he's holding out for the "good" stuff like fruits and veggies but it seems we've got another picky eater on our hands.  Yay.  Regardless, he's quite the cutie and a rather happy baby.  Love him!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Starting School

I am officially not only a soccer mom but a mother of "school-age children".  Connor started kindergarten and while he refused to speak to his teacher at Back to School Night because of shyness, he has loved going to class.  Everyday he tells me that school was "awesome!"  Taking after Carl, he doesn't say much else about it, even if I ask a bunch of questions and he gets annoyed if you ask too many questions but it's clear he's enjoying himself.  He has a great teacher and we're excited for what the school year will bring.  And just in case it's not clear in the picture below, his most recent answer to the question "what do you want to be when you grow up" is a "Magician."  Thank you Wizards of Waverly Place and Harry Potter.

Tyler says he misses Connor everyday but he's been a delight.  It's amazing how much calmer he is when Connor is gone.  We've played a lot of puzzles and he likes having full say over the tv for a couple shows in the morning.  But really, what's to complain about when you reap the benefits of school without actually having to go (please notice the juice he got to drink because Connor got one in HIS lunch).

And Zach, well, he's cute as ever and just along for the ride, to school, back from school, back to school, and home again. :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finally a Soccer Mom

When we bought our van back in 2008 we joked a lot about it being my "Soccer Mom Speedster".  And now, 4 years later I am proud to say it's finally been realized.  My dream of being a soccer mom has finally come true.  Connor works everyday to overcome his shy tendencies and is having a great time doing kartwheels and somersaults, rolling in the grass, running around like crazy, oh, and playing soccer.  We are loving being there to cheer him on and giving him a chance to use up a little more of all that energy he packs!

His best cheerleader is his younger brother of course.  Tyler spent the first practice sitting in a chair on the sidelines cheering, "Go Connor go!  Go Connor go!"  He has since divided  his time between cheering, jumping on Dad, and doing the chicken dance.

But he certainly wanted his fair share of time in front of the camera.  Apparently the squished pinecone rivaled Connor's soccer ball as far as props go.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Many Faces of Zachary

People ask if Zach has been different since having surgery, if there's a notable change in his demeanor.  As you can see, the answer is a resounding "Yes!"  We can't stop this cutie from grinning and can't help ourselves from grinning back.  I guess I'd be pretty happy if I was able to eat without sweating to death and didn't feel like my lungs were drowning me anymore either.  Regardless, he's one happy baby making us one extremely happy family!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1/2 of a Bunk Bed

Just wanted to give props to my amazing husband.  Per my request, he designed and built the first half of a set of bunk beds, all with a hand saw and good math.  We opted to go black but that's the beautiful thing about furniture, it can always be refinished.  I love it and so does Connor who got the first bed.  Tyler is anxiously awaiting his.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Update on Zach

Zachary is a trooper.  I can't say that he loves to eat and he's still pretty scrawny BUT he is growing and that's great news!  At his latest check-up (4 months old), he weighed in at a whopping 10lb 4oz.  He still doesn't even come close to registering on the growth charts for weight but his height and brain don't seem to be suffering which is also great news.  We've tried him on rice cereal but he doesn't tolerate it well.  Ok, at all.  He threw up for 3 days after giving it to him and we remember that prior to surgery when adding rice cereal to his bottle, his reflux got incredibly worse.  We'll give him time and cross our fingers he'll get there.  Meanwhile, we're amping up to try oatmeal sometime next week. :)

And you can see how well his scar is healing.  Still can't pick him up under the arms for another couple weeks but we anticipate getting the all clear in about a week and a half at his next cardiology appointment.  He's getting better and better at lifting his head when we do tummy time and he will possibly go to pediatric physical therapy once the cardiologist gives the ok to get him back on track developmentally.

All in all, we couldn't be happier at his progress and as you'll see in so many pictures to come, he couldn't be happier either. :)  Thank you again for all the love and support through this challenge. Glad we're on the downhill side of it!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Congenital Heart Failure

Not the words you want to hear when you take your 2-month old baby in for a simple check up but that's what happened when I took Zach in for his well-child visit at the end of June.  At 2 months old, Zach was only weighing in at 8lb 8oz and was deemed "failure to thrive."  The dr. then listened to his heart and found a distinct heart murmur.  We were sent to UAB the next day to see a Pediatric Cardiologist who would be able to more precisely determine the exact problem and give options for treatment.

At the cardiologist appointment, it was discovered that Zachary suffered from congenital heart failure because of a rather large and unusual shaped hole in his heart between the ventricles allowing oxygenated blood to travel back up to the lungs rather than out through the body.  Essentially, Zach wasn't gaining weight because his heart was working overtime just to pump blood to maintain organ function and such and his lungs were expanded and surrounded with a lot of fluid because of all the extra blood being pumped to them again.

We were given heart medicines and 2 weeks before the next checkup at which point open-heart surgery was to be scheduled.  The 2 week window was an attempt to get Zach to gain as much weight as possible before performing such a significant surgery on such a small baby.  Two weeks went by relentlessly slow, but when they finally did, we were surprised to learn that not only had Zach NOT gained weight, he'd lost weight.  Consequently, he was admitted to the hospital right away.  We were sent home to pack a bag and find a babysitter for the boys since Carl was out of town until the following day.

Back at the hospital, Zach and I settled in to our new temporary life.  A feeding tube was put in through the nose all the way to his stomach.  The tube was then hooked up to a continuous pump sending formula to his tummy.

After 5 days of "fattening" - Zach weighed in at 8lb 4oz when we were admitted and post-fattening he was up to 8lb 13oz. - he was sent in for surgery.  My mom was able to fly in the night before so she could stay with the boys while Carl and I spent the night with Zach in the hospital.  It was hard to let him go off to surgery without us but we really felt confident (thanks to all the prayers from family and friends) that everything would go well.

After a run on the bypass machine, open-heart surgery to correct a hole between the ventricles and a hole in the atrial wall, a second run on the bypass machine so that an extra stitch or two could be placed to fix a residual leak on the patch of the VSD, and a long 5 1/2 hours for us, we were finally let in to see Zach in the pediatric cardiology ICU.  He looked horrible and I cried for the first time when I saw him - red, swollen, and connected to a whole host of machines and tubes and lines keeping him alive and monitoring his progress.  The first day, after surgery, he was in a single ICU room with 2 nurses dedicated just to him.  He had a breathing tube, which he extubated too early and they had to put back in which caused a smidgin of panic for me during the 5 minutes he was turning blue and they were calling for the doctor and he was suddenly surrounded by about 6-7 medical people.  He also had an arterial line for drawing blood and a line in his groin for administering medicines.  He had a chest tube draining internal bleeding, a heart monitor, pulse/oxygen monitor, and a blood pressure cuff/monitor.

We couldn't spend the night in the ICU so we went home and I came back the next day while Carl was at work (he's not so great with hospitals and IVs and all that stuff).  I couldn't believe how much better he looked the next morning.  He was clearly still swollen and pretty out of it but his coloring wasn't so red and he'd already been disconnected from several things including the breathing tube (he was put on oxygen until his levels rose but at least he didn't have a tube down his throat.

If Day 2 was good, Day 3 was incredible.  He looked almost normal, minus the large scar down his chest, and the still i-don't-feel-great-eyes.  I couldn't have been happier sitting there all day with him hugging, cuddling, and rocking my baby.  And on Day 3 we finally moved from ICU back to the regular Pediatric Cardiology floor!  He was back in his hospital crib/jail and I was back in the uncomfortable hospital bed.

He continued to make gradual improvements and I could have cried I was so happy when he was finally down to just the heart monitor.  On Day 6 he was finally released from the hospital and in MUCH better spirits.

My mom and the boys came to visit us every day or night.  Carl and I took turns staying with Zach at night and trying desperately to get him to eat from a bottle so they wouldn't put the feeding tube back in.  We met with success finally towards the end of our stay and now are thrilled to report that the hospital is just a memory.
We go in for regular check-ups with the cardiologist and Zach will continue to have annual check-ups for the rest of his life.  We also go in for weight checks with the pediatrician every 10 days to 2 weeks.  Thankfully, it's anticipated that Zachary will have no further complications from his heart defect which was patched and repaired.  We couldn't be happier!