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With a second little one, I was totally inspired by this blog . . . Mila’s Day Dreams.

The blog is about one mother and her little daughter’s “possible” dreams.  I have wondered what my little ones dream of before, but this mom goes above and beyond with her inspiring, creative, and beautiful ability to capture dreams.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Be sure to stop by Mila’s Day Dreams and check out some of the great ideas!  I could see doing something similar and using it as artwork in a nursery.  Or this would be a great way to photograph your baby’s monthly growth progress.  Oh, one more thing . . . I like to send handmade, holiday theme cards to family members . . . this would be a great way to photograph your little one for ALL holidays and put together in cards or even in a calendar.

Enjoy!

Amanda- High Fire Mommy

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Growing up, I considered myself a Daddy’s Girl.  I loved my dad.  He worked his tail off to provide for us but, when he was home, he was my go-to guy.  He was a quiet man but, had a great sense of humor.  Many of my friends thought he didn’t like them because he didn’t say a lot.  Over the years though he would come out of his shell with a few of them, mainly my college friends who would always ask about him.

My dad was a very special man born with Hemophilia, he faced a lot of challenges.  He required numerous blood transfusions, meaning long stays in hospitals far from home.  If he got hurt or even bruised he ran the risk of extensive bleeding so, he wasn’t able to play sports.  I don’t know a lot about my dad’s childhood because he didn’t talk about it much.  I do know that his youngest brother was also a Hemophiliac and struggled as my dad did.  My dad was a natural leader and took care of my uncle in their long hospital stays.

Over the years, crazy things would happen to my dad.  Things that shouldn’t happen to anyone.  When I was four years old, my dad was working in the garage, standing on a ladder when it collapsed beneath him.  I was the only witness.  He fell and hit his head.  Days later he had a brain hemorrhage and stroke, leaving him paralyzed on his left side for the rest of his life.  He spent nearly a year, from what I remember, in the hospital and wasn’t supposed to make it.  After he came home, he was in physical therapy, had visiting nurses, and still went back to work.  My mom once told me that if he hadn’t have had to go back to work when he did, he may have been able to regain more use of his left hand.  A year after, he was home from the hospital my dad fell down the stairs, breaking his right arm.

Through the years, hospitals became the norm for my family.  With the progression of time and technology my dad was able to get his transfusions at home and didn’t have to visit as often.  But, it always seemed like there was another surgery for deterioration or a random fall.

Through it all my dad was a pillar for our family.  He was my hero.

When I started high school I was in the marching band, meaning long days and nights at football games and competitions.  My dad went to all of them, even some of the away games.  When I hit my senior year of high school my dad got laid off from his job so, he was home a lot more.  Every day after school I would come home and have lunch with him.  The day that I got my acceptance letter to TCU, I opened it with him in his study.

When I went to college it was a hard day when my parents dropped me off.  Even my second year, I cried when my dad left me there.  But, just like high school except that my school was now 4 hours away, my dad came to every football game to see me in the marching band and afterwards he would take me and some of my friends out to dinner a tradition that continued until my brother graduated from the same school.  He never missed a game.  Every home game the band would march around the stadium before going in and my dad was a permanent fixture at the gates waiting for us before he would go to his seat.  My friends would wave and every time tell me they saw him.  During our pregame performance one of my spots was directly in front of where he sat and I would stick my tongue out or wave.

When I got my own apartment, he would come and stay with me.  When I got married, he had his own room at our first apartment and then our house.  We would go to the TCU games together when I wasn’t working.  I would talk to him on the phone every 2 days and if he hadn’t heard from me, he would call to make sure I was okay.

After graduation, and even before, my dad was sick.  During the 80’s blood scare my dad contracted Hepatitis C from tainted blood products.  It lay dormant for many years but, had finally started attacking his liver.  All of his life, he never complained, never said he was feeling bad, so you never really knew how sick he was.  But, over time you could tell by his face and his mannerisms that he didn’t feel well.  He was constantly going for tests and check ups.

In October of  ’06, I had been married a little over a year, Mark and I had just moved into our first house and I had just been promoted to store manager for the company I worked for.  I was also taking on the Breast Cancer 3Day, 60 miles of walking for 3 days through DFW.  That weekend my dad was supposed to come stay at my house to go to a TCU game while I was walking.  The first night of the 3Day I got a call from my dad that made no sense, he was experiencing dementia brought on by liver issues from the Hepatitis.  I was in a tent in the middle of no where.  I called my brother who was living near my dad at the time and he sent my uncle over to check in on my dad.  That was the beginning of the end.

My dad went into the hospital and never came back out.  He needed a liver transplant and a partial wouldn’t do (I checked because I would have given him my whole liver if I could have).  There are a lot of gory, agonizing details that I would rather not relive.  We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in the hospital with him.  My brother missing school, my mom and I taking off of work or driving down 5 hours on our days off, it was painful.  I remember watching the SuperBowl and talking to him in his hospital room.

On February 18th, 2007 they found a liver for him.  We all rushed to be there and there was excitement in the air.  Then they opened the other guy up. .. the liver was too fatty.  My dad had to have a perfect liver and this one wouldn’t do.  It was hours before anyone came to tell us.  It was excruciating when they did.  I remember my dad starting to sing Happy Birthday to me because my birthday is the 24th but, I told him to stop because I was coming back on Friday to celebrate with him.

I went home the next day, only to come back the following.  My dad passed on February 20th 2007.

I couldn’t believe it.  My hero, my DAD was gone.  The person that I went to for everything.  He could answer any question.

But, I know that he is in heaven and he’s playing baseball.  He loved baseball.  I know that there he is comfortable and well.  He is happy and doesn’t suffer any more.  I also know that I will remember him as my hero not, as a sick man with numerous problems.  I will remember him as a family man, a believer in God, a true friend and father figure, a natural born leader.  I know that if he could he would tell me that is how he would want to be remembered.

I miss him now more than ever.  I’m sad that he is missing out on his grandchildren and my brother’s awesome accomplishments.  But, I know that he knows and I know that he’s proud.

I can only hope that Mark and I can be the parents that mine were.  That I can live up to the standards my dad set.  I love you Dad.  Happy Father’s Day.

My dad on the day I was born

Dad walking me down the aisle

I’ve been MIA for the last week because I’ve been visiting my mom and sharing in a huge moment in my little brother’s life. 

My brother and I are 2.5 years apart and definitely haven’t always gotten along.  When we were little we used to tease each other mercilessly and there were several knock-down drag-out fights.  But,  when Little Brother got to the point where he was taller than me, I thought it was probably a better idea to stop the fights! 

Our father was sick for most of our lives and we went through a lot of stuff that kids shouldn’t have to ever experience.  I believe these experiences brought us closer as brother and sister.  When I left for college, Little Brother was still a sophomore in high school and I missed out on a lot with him.  When he decided to go to the same college I was attending, I thought it was super cool.  I tried to get him in with my group of friends and invited him to the same parties.  But, he had other plans.  He made his own friends, he made better choices than I did and ultimately, was way more awesome than I was at going to college. 

I couldn’t have been more proud when Little Brother was accepted into one of the best Optometry schools in the nation 4 years ago.  I was even more proud to find out he was voted by his colleagues as Most Outstanding Colleague and gave the student speech yesterday at his graduation.  Sure, the day was ugly, it rained and Houston is a pretty crappy place anyway but, it was Little Brother’s day.  And I know our Dad was looking down and swelling with pride just as I was. 

I can’t believe Little Brother is all grown up, a doctor with a wife and soon a house.  It seems like just yesterday we were running around being silly kids. 

Congratulations John!  I know you’re going to be an awesome doctor!

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there.  You are awesome!  It’s the last day of Mother’s Day Mania over at Mama M’s and today we’re writing a letter to our first born that gave us this awesome job.  I hope everyone has a great day!!

Dear Christopher,

You made a dramatic entrance and haven’t stopped since.  You are the light of my life and I can hardly remember what I did before you came along.  You make things interesting every day.  I love watching you discover new things and taking steps to your independence.  I also  love when you come running back for an extra hug or a hand to get down a step because you’re not quite ready yet.  Take your time.

This past year and half has flown by and I expect the next 17 will as well.  I want you to remember that Mommy and Daddy love you no matter what.  Although we would love you more if you chose to play the saxophone…no, it’s okay if you decide percussion is for you. 

You were a miracle baby and you have great things ahead of you.  I can’t wait to see what you do in your life.  I am already so proud of you.  And remember watch your step.

I love you,

Mom

 

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It’s almost the end of Mother’s Day Mania over at Mama M’s and I’m visiting my own mom this year for Mother’s Day.  I missed out on 5 Question Friday and I’m a little late for Saturday’s What do you love about being a mom… but, it’s still night time so, I’m going to sneak it in 🙂  Just a note, yes it is 4:15 am while I’m writing this because my child has been awake since 2 and after playing with him for an hour and a half I’m trying to wait him out to go back to sleep.  And now… what I love about being a mom…

Hugs

The look they give you when they first wake up and you come into the room to get them

Smiles

The complete adoration in their eyes because they don’t know what imperfect people parents are yet

Smashed food in their hair

The look they give you when they learn something new

Bath time

Baby “dances”

When they fall asleep on you and everything just seems perfect

And on that note, I’m hoping Christopher falls asleep soon!  Happy almost Mother’s Day!

 

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Today for our Mother’s day Mania the theme is birth stories…  and mine is such a fun one, insert sarcasm here,  I copied this from Christopher’s Story, The Delivery.  For Christopher’s full story click on the tab on the side bar.  I hope every one is having fun with all of the MANIA and don’t forget to stop by Mama M’s to check out everyone’s birth stories.

Thanksgiving came and with it long hours at work, swollen feet, upper back pain, and 15 people in my house for the holiday that I insisted on cooking for.  As usual, I worked the day before and the day after Thanksgiving, 12 hour work days, and continued working until that Wednesday the 10th of December.

The night before, I had to close the store and prep for the morning’s truck delivery.  I was trying to train my staff for when I would be gone on disability because my company wouldn’t let me work if I couldn’t lift 35lbs.  What pregnant person is able or willing to lift 35lbs?  On my way to work, I picked up my food of the month an 8 piece chicken nuggets and a large Dr. Pepper from McDonald’s.  Don’t judge, McDonald’s is awesome when you’re pregnant!

I went in to work not really feeling all that great but, what else was new.  I was running to the bathroom every 15 minutes to pee and my stomach felt like I had swallowed a balloon.  My back was hurting like it had been for weeks now.  I stuck it out thinking that it was just the McDonald’s I had eaten earlier.  Yes it tastes great but, no it’s not really that good for you.  I closed the store and went home to get some rest so I could be back at 6 am the next morning.

Of course I couldn’t sleep.  That’s the other thing they don’t tell you about being pregnant.  You won’t sleep for probably the entire second trimester.  The first trimester all you want to do is sleep.  Then the second trimester comes along and all the books and magazines say you’ll get a burst of energy and you’ll feel great.  Well, if that burst of energy is actually insomnia than yeah, I got a burst of energy.

After getting maybe a few hours of sleep, I woke up to go back to work.  On the way there I was still feeling pretty bad and I decided I would go in and give directions to the staff and then go home and go to the doctor.  Mind you, I lived half an hour away from my store.  I still went in for about an hour and then came home all before 7 am.  No one can ever say I wasn’t a hard worker!

I got home and laid on the couch until 8 am when Dr. C’s office opened and then called in to see if I could get an appointment.  I gave the receptionist my symptoms, upset stomach, no appetite, back pain, gas and she said to come in right away to see the nurse practitioner.  I was a little nervous but, thought maybe it was just a flu or something.  So, I drove myself to the office which is conveniently located in a hospital, and told Mark I would call him.

When I got in the room with the NP, I went over my symptoms again with her and she said it might be something with my gall bladder.  I remember thinking “oh good, that’s exactly what I need.”  I think I would have rather have had a gall bladder problem.  Then she took my blood pressure.  She remained calm but told me she was going to take it again.  After the second reading, she told me to lay down on my left side for a minute and she would be right back.  She hadn’t told me what my BP was but, I started to get a little worried.

When the NP came back into the room, she took my BP one more time.  She still didn’t tell me what it was but, proceeded to tell me that they were going to admit me to the hospital downstairs for observation.  A nurse came to wheel me down there because they don’t let pregnant ladies walk around when they’re under observation.  When Mark called during all of this, I told him that I was being admitted and that it would probably only be a few hours.  WRONG!

After all of the admitting, changing clothes, getting into bed stuff, they got me hooked up to a BP monitor and told me to be quiet and not stress.  Because that works.  By this time, it was about 1 pm.  Mark was trying to find me in the hospital and my store had called me 3 times.  Dr. C came in and told me I had something called Preeclampsia and that I needed to keep my BP down.  If my BP didn’t come down by Friday we would have to deliver via emergency C-section.

DELIVER?? C-SECTION??  What about classes?  Forget classes, what about the house?  What about me, I’m not ready??  I still have 4 days of work left.  I was going to buy a book about babies on Monday!

It was Wednesday, December 10.  I was due February 20.  At that point I was 29 weeks and 4 days pregnant.

So, the next 24 hours went like this, from what I remember… catheter, unpleasant, but, I didn’t have to pee anymore, awesome.  Then getting hooked up to magnesium sulfate drip, worst experience ever.  Magnesium sulfate, from what I understand, is supposed to slow preterm labor but, it really screws up your system.  It makes you really hot, lethargic, and pretty much slows you down all together, sort of like getting hit by a truck.  They also gave me two steroid shots to boost Christopher’s lungs in case we did deliver.

They also told me to let them know immediately if I had a headache or blurry vision because that meant I was either about to have a stroke or a seizure.  At this point I didn’t know anything about preeclampsia.  I knew that I had read somewhere that it only affects 5% of pregnancies and not to worry about it when you can worry about other crazy things during pregnancy that are more likely to happen.  A basic explanation is, preeclampsia causes high blood pressure which can cause stroke, seizure, or death and the only way to “cure” it is to deliver the baby.

So, Thursday evening comes along and I’m hot, hungry, tired, and I have a headache.  I remember looking at my mom, who had driven in from Houston in the middle of the night, and she was wearing her coat.  They had all kinds of fans blowing as well as cold wash cloths and ice chips for me.  I told her I had a headache and the nurse came in.  I also remember saying “I think I have a headache but, it feels like more of a sinus headache.”  Within 20 minutes I was in the operating room.

The other thing about magnesium sulfate…it’s like a really bad muscle relaxer.  Your muscles relax without that “ahh” feeling.  They’re basically like dead limbs.  So, when you have to move yourself from the gurney to the operating table to get your spinal(like an epidural) it’s incredibly hard.  But, I did it and within a few minutes we were good to go.

When Christopher came out, the first thing I thought was “he’s not crying!”  His lungs weren’t fully developed yet.  The team of doctors for Christopher took him away to the NICU to get him taken care of while my team of doctors knocked me out to finish my surgery.  I did briefly see him when they rolled him out the door.  He was so small.  He weighed 3 lbs 7 oz and was 16.5 inches long.  He was 10 weeks and 2 days early.

When I woke up after the C-section I was back in the observation room for a required 4 hours before moving to post-partum.  They also had to keep me on the magnesium for a little longer, just in case.  I don’t remember much of those 4 hours except that everything was very hazy.

On the way to my new room the nurses took me by the NICU to see Christopher.  They wheeled me in, bed and all, and I got to see him in his isolette.  He was so small and hooked up to a ventilator and all kinds of tubes.  They had wiped him off when he came out but, couldn’t even give him a bath because they had to get him to the NICU so fast so, his hair was all curly and dark.  I got to touch his hand for the very first time through a port hole in the isolette.

Just a note for non-regular readers*  Christopher is now 16 months old and awesome.  He came home from the hospital after 47 days and you would never know he was a preemie.

Christopher at 16 months

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Mama M is hosting Mother’s Day Mania, 5 days of Mother’s Day related posts!  Come join in the fun!  Today’s theme is Whoopsie Wednesday… we all have those whoopsie moments where little one bumps his head or skins her knee on our watch, one of those moments we’d rather forget but, will tell them again to let others know they are not alone.

So, here is my whoopsie moment…

Lately, Christopher has been wanting to sit on the sofa with me and play with his toys.  This is actually pretty cute when he’s not pulling my hair or putting his number flash cards in my face.  So, we sit on the couch and read books or drink our water together in the morning.  One of his favorite things to do is bring his bucket of blocks on the sofa with him dump it out on the sofa and then put all the blocks back in over and over again.

The point is, we hang out on the couch… a lot.

Even though I let him on the couch with me most of the time I have to help him down.  He’s starting to get the hang of it but, sometimes he tries to go head first.  We all know where this is heading right…

A few weeks ago he was sitting up with me playing with his blocks.  I turned around for a second to put my cup on the table next to me and I hear a CLUNK and screaming, crying, and wailing.  Oh my gosh!!  I turned around and  I scooped him up and held on to him for dear life.  5 minutes later all was well and we were playing blocks again.  But, I felt so bad that I turned my back for the split second.

I know I have more of these whoopsie moments but, this is just one I’m brave enough to tell!  To read more and laugh along with us stop by Mama M’s My Little Life and keep up with the Mania all week!

Recently hubby and I were talking with a friend of ours that we hadn’t seen in a while.  Hubby has been going through a tough time at work and it has been coming home with him, leading to a tough time at home.  After talking with our friend for about 10 minutes she stopped us saying, “the negative atmosphere in here is crazy!  What I see is that you are letting the negative feelings you are getting from work affect every other aspect of your life.”

What we needed to do was resolve every morning to have a good day, to go into the day with a positive attitude and not letting others’ negative attitudes drag us down.  When we resolved to have a positive attitude not only would it make us happier at home but, it would hopefully spread to others around us.  Have you ever tried smiling at a stranger?  More often than not they will smile back at you.

So, as I go into the end of my week I am doing it with a positive attitude.  It WILL be a good end of the week and I am not going to let others stand in the way of mine and my family’s happiness.

What things do you do to keep a positive attitude during your day?

Since Christopher was born I have been a big advocate for the March of Dimes.  When I felt like I was all alone in the big NICU world I could look to their Share site and read stories of other families going through the same thing I was.  I could also read all of their great research and information about preemies and life in the NICU.  The March of Dimes website and Share families helped me through a tough 47 days and I still refer back to them either for myself or to help others going through similar situations.

I have talked about this before but, there are many, too many babies born too early every year which is why this is the second year I am participating in March for Babies.  Last year, my team Crazy for Christopher raised $190 and this year I am proud to announce that we tripled our fundraising to $610.  Woohoo.  I have a great idea up my sleeve for next year to raise even more!

Tomorrow morning hopefully we will not see any rain and team Crazy for Christopher will be out there walking for preemies, babies, and pregnant mommies.  I just want to say THANK YOU to those that donated to our team and if you are in the Dallas area tomorrow morning come out and join us for a 5 mile walk around White Rock Lake!

March for Babies 2009

Recently I read a blog post a friend of mine posted on facebook.  You can read it here

Typically, I’m not one to get involved with controversial subjects just because I don’t like to stir up trouble.  But, this one I think is interesting.  Breastfeeding. Just saying the word creates either an instant bond between two mothers or an uncomfortable explanation of why one mother is and one mother isn’t breastfeeding.

It’s interesting to me the animosity created between women that all want the same thing…healthy children.  Mothers.  Mothers attacking other mothers for their choice to breastfeed or not.  Admittedly, I have had my own thoughts on women that don’t even try to breastfeed because of whatever reason they have.  But, I refuse to shut out these mothers because of their decisions.  Instead, I’m choosing to share my own breastfeeding story and hopefully, it will change some minds about breastfeeding or at least lead to some thinking.

As most readers of my blog know, my son Christopher was born at 29 weeks and 5 days.  I hadn’t had time to think about breastfeeding, let alone make a decision about whether or not I was going to do it.  I knew that my mother was unable to breastfeed me because the doctors told her I was jaundiced and needed to be supplemented.  I also knew that she did breastfeed my brother for about 6 months until her mother told her to stop.  Another thing I knew was that I was really uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding because of the whole baby latching on to your boob thing.

But, up to the point Christopher was born I hadn’t made any kind of decision about what I was going to do.  I was pretty sure I was going to at least give it a try mainly because of the cost of formula.

When Christopher was born so early, I felt like the decision was made for me.  I hadn’t read all of the “breast is best” propaganda or all of the message boards with women berating each other for their choices.  I knew that my son was born 2.5 months early, was struggling for his life, and my doctor told me that breastmilk would give him a better chance.

I was still groggy when the nurse came in with the hospital grade pump and the equipment that went with it.  She showed me how to use it and I managed to get about an ounce out.  Because babies don’t develop a suck and swallow reflex until 32 weeks, I couldn’t even try to breastfeed Christopher.  He had to be fed through a tube.  For the first 4 weeks of Christopher’s life, MY life revolved around an every 3 hour pumping schedule.  I would pump at the hospital and at home and bring it in for Christopher.  He was never once given formula.

After week 4 we started teaching him to take a bottle with breastmilk in it and then eventually I was allowed to breastfeed him.  He was a champ.  I told one of the nurses it was because he was a “boob man!”

I continued pumping even after Christopher was home so that I could feed him bottles when we were out in public.  Because even though I was totally committed to breastfeeding, I didn’t like the way people reacted to breastfeeding mothers in public.  I don’t like being judged as I know others don’t like being judged.

My goal was to breastfeed Christopher for one year, the recommended amount of time and I made it two weeks short of his first birthday when he lost all interest.  I would have kept going too if he hadn’t tried to crawl away every time we sat down for it!  I firmly believe that my pumping for Christopher helped him gain the weight he needed faster and grow healthier and to leave the NICU almost a month before his original due date.  Typically, preemies end up in the hospital at least once or twice in their first year of life after their original release because of health related issues.  Christopher had a few minor colds his first year and that was it.

My goal in this post is not to alienate anyone for their decisions.  I do, however, believe that we need more education and support in making these decisions.  In this country women are not getting the support from the medical community that they need to at least feel comfortable trying to breastfeed.  They are also being bombarded with adds and free samples of formula, even some of the baby websites are sponsored by formula companies.  These companies make it that much easier for women to pick formula because it’s easily accessible.

I also know that formula was made for a reason.  There really are women out there that are unable to breastfeed.  I don’t believe that these women should be made to feel guilty for their inadequacies either.  But, maybe instead of pumping so much money into formula companies we should be looking into milk banks or ways to share milk.  The nurses in the NICU actually told me I could donate my milk because I made so much.  But, there is a ton of red tape involved.

We need to as a society, support each other regardless of whether we are breastfeeding, supplementing, or formula feeding.  We need to band together for education for new mothers in all aspects of parenting, specifically breastfeeding.  We are all mothers striving for the same thing…healthy, happy children.