Buddy Turns Three!

It was Buddy’s birthday on the 22nd and he turned three years old! For his birthday we kept it pretty low-key. We mostly just hung out during the day and talked about how gigantically big he was now. When Husband got home from work, we had Buddy’s favorite food. Breakfast food with syrup.

Buddy LOVED his waffles, french toast and pancakes for dinner!

Buddy LOVED his waffles, french toast and pancakes for dinner!

After that we opened his gifts from us and anyone who shipped gifts to him from far away. He loved them all, especially his new tag reader! (And holy amazing, I’m in love with that tag reader!!!! That thing is an amazing tool!)

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Oh, and my mom sent glow sticks. BIG. HIT.

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The next morning Husband and I set up for Buddy’s birthday party. Due to my exceptionally poor last-minute planning, I didn’t have any games or awesome themes, but 22 people still ended up coming to our humble home and it was a fantastic party!

I know. Coolest cake ever!

I know. Coolest cake ever! And I mixed some red velvet cake in with the vanilla cake and it tasted pretty amazing!

He's just so photogenic!!!

He’s just so photogenic!!!

You know he's excited when the tongue comes out!

You know he’s excited when the tongue comes out!

There were lots of kids here to help open presents and eat cake and snacks and it was a really fun time! At the end of the day, we were all exhausted and passed out early. Now Sunday is here and we’re staying in our jammies and watching a few of Buddy’s new movies for a full-out recovery day!! I think that’s my favorite part of hosting parties. That, or the leftover snacks. ūüėČ

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Traditions

I was very lucky growing up. The Christmas season was always full of little traditions and family events for me. On the weekends surrounding Christmas, my Mom, Dad, sister and I drove to see our extended families every year. The Christmas season was a busy time for us! Yet despite all of our traveling and busy schedules, my parents always made sure we were home for Christmas Eve/Day. We had our own family traditions that we almost never deviated from. I’m so grateful for this.

I believed in Santa. I remember opening gifts from Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, the little elves, Frosty and just about every Christmas related character out there. I absolutely loved it. I always looked at the tag to see who gave me a gift. I remember at least one year we even baked cookies for Santa. I’m sure there were more. When I got old enough to know better, my Mom still did this all for me. She still wrapped gifts when I wasn’t looking and labeled the gifts from Santa and company. She still occasionally baked cookies. She still built it up for me. She still made it special.

I remember getting so excited to get our tree out and set it up. I remember diving into the decorations box and carefully hanging every single one. I remember each decoration bringing back different memories for me, even at a very young age. I remember saving my very first decoration to hang last. It was so special to me. I still have it, and I still hang it last.

I remember being so excited to turn the lights off in the living room and turn the Christmas tree on for the very first time every year. And I’d be just as excited every evening after that. I remember waiting impatiently every day for night to come so we could turn the outdoor lights on. I remember sitting in a snowbank in the front yard, in my soaking wet snow pants and coat and my sopping mittens and hat, but not caring one bit as I stared at our house in wonder.

I remember getting out the decorations for around the house. One decoration in particular always kept me entertained for hours. It was a spinning nativity set with candles. Kind of like this, but bigger. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth $250 or my Mom wouldn’t have let me play with it all the time! But I remember just sitting on the living room floor next to the coffee table and admiring all of the little figures and details while slowly spinning it around and around and around. I was sometimes even able to light the candles. I would turn all of the lights off in the room and silently sit and watch it slowly turn on its own in the flickering candlelight. The little figures glowed like magic. The angels on the top were beautiful and magnificent as they flew around and around.¬†This is my favorite Christmas memory. I don’t know why, but even now, thinking about that nativity set just makes me feel the magic of Christmas down to my very core.

Family traditions are what makes Christmas so special to me. It gives the kids something to look forward to just that one special time of the year. It’s really important to me that we continue traditions of our own because I want the kids to feel the same way about Christmas as I do. I want them to feel the magic and excitement. I want them to look forward to something as much as I looked forward to setting out that spinning nativity.

Some traditions I’d like to do every year with the kids is either setting up our fake tree or picking out a live tree together. Decorating the tree together and letting the kids hang their first decorations last in a special place. Hanging lights outside and setting out decorations around the house together. Watching old Christmas movies. Preparing for Santa on Christmas Eve by baking cookies, tracking his progress, writing him a letter and/or reading stories by candlelight before bedtime. I want to have lots of simple but beautiful non-electronic family time.

Another handful of traditions I’m looking forward to are on the religious side. I grew up with no religion, so I never went to midnight mass (aka: Christmas Mass). I never really heard the story of the birth of Jesus Christ as a Christmas tradition. I never really appreciated the religious side of it. I didn’t disrespect it, I just didn’t know it. I’m definitely not bitter for the fact that I never had a religious Christmas, because I truly believe that my Mom made it a very special non-commercial season for our family even without it. She helped me to appreciate the magic and wonder of it.

Since I’ve never regularly had any religious Christmas traditions, I’m not entirely sure where to start. I don’t want to saturate the holiday with either Santa or Jesus, but I definitely want the kids to have at least one or two things that we can do every year together to celebrate both figures. I’m excited to see what we come up with as they get older!

What favorite traditions do you practice over the Holidays? Do you prefer the commercial or religious traditions? Please share! I would love new ideas!

For Once, I’m Not Complaining

So – Quick recap.

Peanut was born on 3-15-2011, paralyzed from the waist down. She also had clubbed feet. There were a couple of other health issues, but these were the two most significant. Over her first year, she had been through physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, neurological exams, a broken leg, a dislocated hip, invasive surgery, genetic testing (ie: blood draws and skin biopsies), an EMG (electromyography), multiple MRIs on both her brain and spine, daily injections for two months, more x-rays and ultrasounds than I can currently count, Orthopedic exams, Ponseti Method casting for her clubbed feet and, of course, I can’t discount her well baby appointments and her immunizations.

Through it all there have been multiple emotional, physical and financial hiccups and setbacks. Yet, through it all, she has been an extraordinary little fighter. She just never quit. Everything we throw at her she fights her way through like a champ. She continues to push herself to her physical limits, sometimes even to the point of breaking them. Cognitively, she is extremely observant and intelligent and easily keeps up with, and even sometimes surpasses, her peers. She refuses to be left behind.

Because of her drive, I decided to look into wheelchairs a little earlier than most kids get them. She’s 16 months old now; most kids get chairs closer to 2 1/2 -3 years old. I had a strong suspicion that she could do it though. I felt like once I put her in a chair, she would figure it out.

I was right.

After a couple of weeks of extreme vigilance and determination, I found a vendor for equipment for kids with physical disabilities. He is the superstar of vendors and I got him, I was so excited. After everything Peanut had been through, I so badly wanted to give her some kind of independence. I wanted her to feel like she was at least in control of something in her whirlwind beginning to life.

So, Peanut got a demo to play around with from the vendor and husband and I moved into the next stage. Buying a wheelchair. We planned to meet with the vendor (and by we, I mean “I”) and get Peanut’s measurements and discuss what parts we would need to best fit Peanut’s needs. That was coming up in the next week or so.

Well… it looks like it’s not going¬†to¬†happen. At least not until the beginning of 2013. We have yet another setback and this one’s a DOOZIE.

But for once, I’m not complaining, because the doozie is that husband got a job offer!!!!!

He has already put his two weeks in at his current job and will be starting his new one mid-August. His current job is great and we both love his co-workers dearly. It’s a wonderful company and they’ve been more than¬†accommodating¬†for husband and I as we’ve worked through everything with Peanut.¬†Really, the only problem was that the company was just too small to afford competitive health insurance premiums. We have an unbelievably high deductible. UN-believable.

Because of this, husband reluctantly started looking into a couple of jobs that someone had contacted him about. He got a job offer from both of the places that he interviewed with! Talk about an ego boost for husband!!! I was so happy for him! I have always known that he’s an incredibly selfless and dedicated employee for any company, but it makes me so happy to know that it’s visible to other companies as well!

So now, husband’s new job has moved up from the¬†enrty-level position, it’ll be better pay, an we’ll have an unbelievable deductible (thousands less than we’re currently paying). And if that wasn’t enough, it’s actually a company that he had applied for right out of college, and the position is doing something he has always wanted to do! And if THAT wasn’t enough, his new employer has opted to waive the 60 day waiting period for insurance coverage. We will all be covered starting his first day! And if that wasn’t enough, He’ll be getting a sign-on bonus right before Christmas!!! AND IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH, the job is located back home!!!!!!! So once it’s reasonably possible, we will be moving to a new home closer to our friends and family!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

I mean… wow.

WOW.

I can’t even express how happy I am, both for husband and myself and our kids. I am, and always will be, husband’s biggest advocate, and I can’t say enough good things about him (Okay… I know I complain, but it’s all out of love and/or humor. I swear!). So I can’t even tell you how happy I am for him. He deserves this. He. deserves. this. I will pound this into your brain. HE. SO. DESERVES. THIS.

He has worked his butt off from the very first day that I’ve known him.

In high school he voluntarily worked three jobs at one point to save up for college. He was just shy of a cumulative 4.0 and constantly challenged himself academically. He was president of this society and captain of that team. He graduated with high honors and was one of two speakers for his class for the graduation ceremony.
In college, he worked at his internship and additional on-campus jobs to help pay for it. On top of multiple jobs, he participated in athletics, once again making captain, and became an RA (residence assistant… the person in charge of one of the floors in a dorm). He was up well past midnight every night studying and made the Dean’s list up until graduating.
After graduating he went straight into working without any break in between. He has gone in to work on numerous Saturdays without complaint, sometimes in the middle of the night, to finish testing products. In the three years since starting his job he has never called in sick and only left early once at his co-worker’s insistence. And even then he tried to avoid it.¬†He never makes excuses, never complains and gives more than he is asked for. And this can apply to his family, his job, his faith and his friends.

And, his biggest feat of all. He dealt with ME through all of this. I know… w.o.w. Like I said, I will always be his biggest advocate.

Now, back to the wheelchair before I explode from gushing… While this new job is amazingly astoundingly stupendous wonderful for us, we now have to start over with this new deductible. After, of course, JUST meeting our current deductible. Everything that we will have to spend on Peanut’s new wheelchair will be applied to this new deductible now.¬†We decided it just doesn’t make sense to spend the money on the wheelchair in what remains of 2012 and then have to start over AGAIN on a new deductible at the beginning of 2013. We are going to wait until January and attack it in the new year. Besides, it’s only four-ish months longer to wait. It’s really not a big deal at all in the big picture.

So, after getting so far and getting so close to getting my dearly beloved Peanut her piece of freedom. It slipped through my fingers. *sigh* But, like I said, for once I’m not complaining.

For Peanut, 2011 was the year of fighting. 2012 is the year of hope. And now 2013 will be the year of independence.

And for Husband, 2012 is the year that he finally got what he has worked so hard for!

HIP-HIP-HURRAH!!!

A different kind of Independence Day!

Look! LOOK!!!!!!!! Peanut’s in a wheelchair!

That’s right. Today was the big day! We had our first consultation with her vendor and she got to try out some wheelchairs! I felt like we were car shopping. It’s absolutely unbelievable the amount of wheelchairs you can pick from. THOUSANDS. There are chairs for indoor use, outdoor use, easy transfers, lifts and SO much more. I’m relatively new to this and I’m already overwhelmed with the “simple” choices. I can’t even fathom the more complex features that are at her disposal!¬†I just can’t believe the opportunities that Peanut has in front of her with the way modern medicine and technology is today. It floors me.

Okay, so first of all, I LOVE the vendor and I’m SO HAPPY I fought tooth and nail for him. He is everything that everyone said he was and Peanut absolutely adores him to boot. He’s incredibly well versed in the field and so patient and receptive. When he showed up he didn’t bring a chair in because he wanted to sit down and just listen to my thoughts on her abilities and what our goals were for her. He just sat back and listened to me for half an hour while I told him about Peanut and what I wanted for her. He never interrupted me or corrected me. (which, when dealing with healthcare people, is a major rarity.) Once I finished, he asked me questions and had me go through a daily scenario with Peanut to get an idea of what she’d be needing her chair for. FINALLY after an hour of talking, he went out to his van and grabbed a chair.

He was definitely listening to every single word I said, because when he came in, he brought in something to fit everything I had described. I wanted her independence (check), I wanted her to be able to keep up with her siblings (check), I wanted something for easy transfer to bed, the couch etc (check), I wanted her to have reasonable outdoor use for her chair (MAJOR check), I wanted it to be streamline (check), I wanted it to be something she could use on her own (check), I wanted something that could be adjusted to keep up with her rapidly growing body (CHECK!), I wanted something that would be easy to travel with (MAAAAJOR check!).

We put Peanut in and she was all smiles and giggles. She LOVED it. I mean seriously loved it. She likes being at her sibling’s level. She also loves getting pushed around. She refuses to try the wheels because she’s apprehensive about them, but I’m thinking it should only take a few days at most.

So as far as the wheelchair itself. It’s called the TI-LITE TWIST.

  • This wheelchair is versatile both inside AND out! Once she’s strong enough she can easily play in the yard with her siblings, wheel through forest trails and get around on uneven ground with ease.
  • It comes apart easily (like literally at the push of a few buttons) so travel is simplified tenfold.
  • Everything from the seat to the footrest to the height and width is adjustable. We can also buy a number of different adaptive wheels for different heights and terrains that will all fit on this universal frame so it’s not like we’re stuck with one chair and one chair only.
  • Because the vendor can special order a number of parts, the chair grows with her and¬†she can easily keep this chair for six years at LEAST which is a HUGE financial plus.
  • There’s one wheel in the back for anti-tipping and it’s adjustable depending on indoor/outdoor use. When outdoor it basically becomes a 5th wheel.
  • The front wheels have blinking lights. BLINKING LIGHTS. Talk about appealing to kids! Every time Peanut moves the lights start flashing. It’s similar to those tennis shoes that all kids want that flash when they run. They’re also adjustable and can tip the entire frame forward or backward so Peanut can find a good spot for lumbar control which is imperative to strength building.

There’s more I’m sure, but there’s just so much to remember! Bottom line… it’s perfect. I absolutely love it. LOVE. IT.

To top it off, the vendor offered to let me keep it here for a couple of days so we can test it out and see if there are any immediate issues we can think of that he can either fix or find a new chair. He is also going to contact a rep to find a stander that he thinks would fit her well so we can try that out as well. What an awesome guy!

OH… AAAAND, coolest thing of all, I was originally told that most vendors take 3-6 months from beginning to end to get everything figured out with finances and fitting and everything.

Not this guy. He’s a badass mofo. He¬†is already pushing to try to get this entire wheelchair process started and FINISHED in the next month. I thought we’d be looking at christmas and now we’re looking at next month!

NEXT MONTH?!?!?!?!?!?!? I’m just dying. Every headache and heartache was worth getting this guy. He is wonderful. He is giving my daughter a freedom that I have been dreaming of since the day she was born.

Independence, here we come!!!

The Holiday Hangover

When I was a kid, the holidays always meant it was time to pack up and hit the road. We always managed to celebrate our own Christmas at home, but we always inevitably ended up driving hours on end to get to the nearest family celebration. Lucky for my parents my sister and I were old enough to take care of ourselves for the most part. We didn’t need bottles or naps or diapers.

Now, husband and I are usually traveling anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to get to family celebrations. It’s not close but it’s not terrible. Now, though, the traveling isn’t what makes it difficult to go to family celebrations. It’s not even the bottles, diapers or naps. In fact, it’s not even the holidays at all.

It’s the kids. The kids and their post-holiday meltdowns. Aka, their holiday hangover.

With so many people around and so much going on it’s nearly impossible to keep the kids on their feeding and napping routines. They’re so busy running around and soaking up all the people and excitement that they don’t notice they’re all out of sync. And forget about preventing any sicknesses. That’s almost a guaranteed¬†occurrence.

On the day of the celebration all is usually well. They only throw the usual fits for attention and they seem fine with eating at odd times. By the end of the night they start wearing thin and getting crabbier than usual. They’ve had enough excitement and need to get back on their routine.¬†This is when we leave and get home and get the kids ready for bed with the usual bedtime routine. By this point, they’re usually too tired to put up a fight. They pass out and we don’t hear a peep from them for the remainder of the night.

This past Saturday we went to our first Christmas with all three of the kids. The holiday itself was great. We all had fun and enjoyed spending time with family. We left a little bit later than we wanted to and had to race home. We got home with ten minutes to spare and got the kids ready for bed at super speed. As anticipated, we got them down and didn’t hear a single sound after that. They were out cold. We patted each other on the back for a job well done. We managed to travel without incident.

Around 5:30 in the morning was when our success fell apart around us.

Our door crashed open and an enraged Buddy charged into the room and collapsed on the floor in a fit of tears. Husband and I woke up with a start and looked at one another. *wtf?*

I got up and went to Buddy and tried to ask him what was wrong, but he was so far gone there was absolutely no reasoning with him. It remained that way for the next hour as he crashed around the house, inconsolable. He wouldn’t let me near him.

Sighing, I finally picked up the feral child and headed into our bedroom. I tossed him in our bed and laid down next to him so he was in between husband and I and threw the blankets over us. He could thrash and scream all he wanted, but I wanted to at least be in bed if he wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. Plus, I knew husband was such a light sleeper that he was never going to sleep if Buddy was screaming, no matter how far from the bedroom we were.

Another twenty minutes later husband and I learned that we just had to lay completely still. The smallest sound or movement set him off. He finally fell asleep in our bed. Or rather, on my pillow, wrapped around my head like a cat. I was incredibly uncomfortable but I wasn’t about to wake up that little monster again. It was around 6:50 at this point and I was exhausted.

I found myself woken up again around 7:45 to husband growling to himself as he shuffled past the bedroom door in the hallway. Buddy followed, continuing his angry rampage on Husband’s tail. I later learned that Buddy woke him up at 7:15 in a fit again. I was apparently too tired to even hear it and Husband figured he’d take the next turn with our furious little angel.

This continued for the entire morning. We only had to look at him to get a glower like I’ve never seen before. Buddy was beyond help. We realized through the day that he was so hungry but he refused to eat. He was catching a second cold but refused to let us near his nose. He was so tired but he refused to even blink for fear that he would fall asleep. He wanted to be angry with very fiber of his being. He thrashed and crashed and screamed and whined with every remaining ounce of his energy.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, it was noon. Nap time. Buddy was going to sleep whether he wanted to or not. For the entire day the girls had been exceptionally whiney too, though not nearly as bad as Buddy. I scooped up the red-eyed Buddy and went upstairs to his bedroom. I laid him down and told him to stay in bed and take his nap. He stopped crying and looked up at me with a mixture of annoyance and exhaustion. I left him in silence and headed downstairs to tend to the girls. I had to feed them and diaper them and put them down as well. By the time I finished with them, Buddy was completely silent upstairs. I took that as a sign that he was sleeping and headed to the kitchen to make myself some lunch.

Husband had left to go grocery shopping and look for a few parts to fix our now broken dishwasher. It was only me and Remmy now and it was eerily quiet in the house.

I was soon on the couch reading a book with Remmy snuggled up next to me. Husband eventually came home and we watched the Packer game and hung out around the house doing odds and ends. By this time it had been two-and-a-half hours since putting the kids down. They usually only sleep one hour.

The girls woke up soon after that point and seemed to be much better. Hungry but better. We fed them and played with them and waited for Buddy to get up. He didn’t.

I creeped up to his bedroom to check on him and laughed. I found him in the exact position that I laid him down in. The blankets hadn’t moved an inch and he was out cold sprawled on his back. I went back down and consulted with Husband. Do we let him sleep until he wakes up on his own, or do we wake him up before he sleeps so long that it messes up his bedtime? We decided to let him sleep. Obviously he needed it. Besides, we didn’t have it in us to deal with a crabby Buddy anymore. We were too worn out.

Over three-and-a-half hours later, Buddy woke up. He came downstairs and greeted us with his big smile and headed straight for the fridge and asked for food. He ate more food than I ever thought possible and immediately went into the living room to go play. He was finally back to normal! He still had a cold which irritated him, but he was otherwise back to his usual self. From then until bedtime we still had a few aftershock meltdowns from the kids, but they were fine other than that.

Today they’re still a little crabbier than usual, but nowhere near yesterday’s level. Thank god Husband was with me yesterday for those horrendous 12 hours. I don’t know how I would have survived those vicious fits on my own.

I really hope this doesn’t become a typical thing for the kids every time we go to a holiday celebration. From what I hear, three years old is worse than two years old. Which means we’re in for at least another two years of this between all three of the kids. But after that, I’m wishing and praying and hoping that they grow out of it. This post-holiday hangover of theirs is unbelievable.

One of the scarier words of my life

Surgery.

It’s something I’ve never had to go through.¬† I think that’s why it scares me so much.¬† It’s unknown.

On Monday, September 26th Peanut had surgery.

She has bilateral clubbed feet (fancy way of saying both of her feet were clubbed).¬† We began treating them with serial casting.¬† Serial casting is when you put someone’s legs in casts every week for approx 8 weeks.¬† Each week they remove the cast, and stretch the feet out a little more and put on a new cast in the stretched position.¬† They keep changing casts and stretching until their feet are over corrected (pointing slightly out).¬† They will eventually turn back in to what would ideally be pointing straight forward.

We were three weeks into casting and it was going well.¬† But on the third week they already saw that her Achilles tendon was far too tight to stretch out.¬† They said she’d need surgery.¬† It’s called an Achilles tendon release.¬† The Orthopedic surgeon explained to me that they were going to put her under general anesthesia.¬† Then they would cut around the back of her heel, push the artery off to the side, snip the tendon and pull her foot up into a neutral position.¬† If the tendon cut alone doesn’t do it, they’d need to do some soft tissue release as well.¬† The only reason they’d need to do soft tissue is if there’s a lot of extra scar tissue from the malformation that needs to be cut.

If I’m going to be completely honest with you, I didn’t hear most of what he said the first time.¬† All I heard was ‘general anesthesia’ and I went deaf.¬† I felt the world close in on me.¬† I was so scared for Peanut.¬† When he told me this, she still wasn’t even ten pounds.¬† She was so tiny.¬† I was terrified that something would so easily go wrong with the anesthesia.

Surgery.¬† I wasn’t sure what to think.¬† I really didn’t want to do it, but I knew it was her only option to have her feet corrected.¬† I didn’t have a choice.

Surgery.¬† I’ve gone 26 years surgery free, and Peanut didn’t even make it one.¬† I was so sad.¬† I still am a little bit.

I had known about it for about 6 weeks prior, but I never really thought about it because it was so far away.¬† I was in the midst of B12 injections, blood draws, leg splints and many other ordeals with her.¬† Not to mention just trying to survive the regular daily life that is twin babies and a 1 1/2-year-old.¬† *Surgery?¬† Oh yeah… sure sure that’s awhile away though.¬† I’ve got other things on my plate.*

We had a wedding coming up, we had a baby shower coming up we had birthday parties coming up and everything else in the world.¬† In hindsight I’m very, very thankful I was kept so busy for so long.¬† Why?¬† Because about two weeks before her surgery date, I was suddenly very aware of the 26th.¬† Very, very aware.

I started hounding husband to make sure he had off of work so he could watch the other two kids.¬† I started making lists.¬† Lists of clothes to bring.¬† Lists of food to bring.¬† Lists of things to bring to keep me entertained while I’m waiting.¬† Lists of questions to ask.¬† Lists on top of lists.¬† I had to do something and this was the only thing that made me feel like I was being proactive.¬† Like I was doing something to get me to an end.¬† What end that was, I don’t know.¬† I was just moving for the sake of moving.¬† I was moving for the sake of not thinking.

If I started thinking, the word ‘anesthesia’ came into my head.¬† I would get so worried I’d lose sleep.¬† I have enormous bags under my eyes to prove it.¬† I’ve had to start wearing my glasses regularly again to cover up the enormous dark circles.¬† They still haven’t entirely gone away.

When the weekend before the surgery came, I got really sick with a chest cold.¬† It got to the point where I could hardly breathe and I was coughing so hard my throat was raw.¬† I was so congested I had terrible sinus headaches.¬† If I tried to sleep my nose would literally pour on my pillow if I didn’t position myself right.¬† My eyes were even puffier, my skin looked sallow and my voice was hoarse.

I was so scared to go near Peanut.¬† Thankfully husband took on the brunt of Peanut’s daily care for me.¬† I was terrified I’d get her sick and she’d get congested and suffocate while intubted.¬† That, on top of everything else about the surgery and anesthesia had me in a worrying fit.

Finally, Sunday night came.

I didn’t know if I’d feel good enough to take Peanut to the hospital.¬† This had me more upset than anything previously stated.¬† I absolutely had to go.¬† I don’t think I’d have been able to stay away from the hospital that day without going crazy with anxiety.¬† But still, I have enough common sense to know when to give up.¬† I told husband I wasn’t sure if I could go and to prepare in case he would have to go.¬† He didn’t want to go, and I didn’t want to stay.¬† We were both equally tense about the situation.

We went to bed and didn’t really talk.¬† We both just layed there awake for one hour… two hours… nearly three hours.¬† Finally we fell asleep around midnight.¬† After that I woke up at 1 AM, then 3 AM, then 4 and 5 AM.¬† Each time I laid there awake, my imagination buzzing 100 miles a minute.¬† Not even just about the surgery.¬† About anything that came into my head.¬† Surgery, dinner, gardening, Harry Potter, sewing, sickness… anything.¬† I was too wired to stay asleep.¬† I felt like right when my eyes closed, they’d fly open again with another thought.

Finally my alarm went off at 6 AM.¬† Normally I’m not at all a morning person.¬† But when it went off I immediately sat up and just sat there and felt my stomach harden.¬† I felt like there was a boulder in my stomach.¬† I sat there trying to convince myself to get out of bed.¬† Not because I was too tired, but because I felt like the second my feet touched the floor I was accepting my daughter’s fate that day, good or bad.¬† *ok.¬† Today’s the day.¬† She’ll be fine.¬† She’ll be fine.¬† Ok… just get her there.¬† Stay positive.¬† It’s going to be fine…*

It felt like I sat there forever, but when I finally took that final breath and got out of bed I looked at the digital clock in the darkness and it said 6:02.

I realized that my sickness had abated somewhat overnight and rejoiced!¬† I could go now without worrying.¬† I ran and took some medicine for good measure.¬† I mechanically got dressed, brushed my teeth, did my hair and grabbed the bags I had packed the night before.¬† I went through my lists in my head, making doubly sure I had Peanut’s blanket, stuffed animal and a book to read to her when she gets out, healthy and well.¬† I wanted to make sure I had everything to make her feel comfortable and secure.

I went in the girl’s room and looked at her little face.¬† She looked so sweet and gentle.¬† I stroked her cheek and she FLEW awake with a happy squeal!¬† She started flailing her arms around and chattered away a little more exuberantly than usual.¬† I laughed so hard at her.¬† That little goof.¬† It was just what I needed to chip that boulder down into¬† rock.¬† *Ok… yeah, she’ll be fine.*

I got her in her car seat and grabbed up the bags I needed and headed out the door with a swift kiss and good luck wish for Peanut from an equally tired looking husband.  We loaded up and were on our way with 15 minutes to spare.  Thank god for that because the weather was godawful on the way down.  I ended up getting there ten minutes late despite my best efforts.

We checked in to day surgery, headed back to her room and Peanut got dressed in her hospital gown.¬† I don’t know what it is, but I just love the gowns on her, they’re so tiny! In the meantime she was still chatting away with anyone who would listen.¬† All the nurses in our pod were immediately in love with her and kept laughing at her squeals and smiles.¬† I secretly hoped that meant they’d take extra good care of her if they thought she was so cute.

Peanut's cute little hospital gown

About half an hour before the scheduled surgery time they gave her some sedation that calms her (doesn’t put her to sleep) since she was beginning to start stranger anxiety.¬† Even though she was being so friendly we all figured it’s better to give it to her so when we’re separated she doesn’t get upset that she’s with strangers.¬† We headed down to the holding room.¬† (Keep in mind I’ve never done this before.¬† Although I’ve been to children’s many times, this was so official.¬† I was very intimidated by this whole process!)

The holding room is a room with six curtained off areas similar to cubicles.¬† A child is rolled in on their bed and each of the surgeons, anesthesiologist and OR nurses meets with the parents.¬† The nurses came in first to ask health related questions which, again, is very intimidating.¬† Mostly because now I know for a fact that these questions will directly affect Peanut’s surgery. (Which at this point is not T minus ten minutes!)¬† Then the anesthesiologist Fellow came in with his Attending and started asking me some questions.¬† After that the Orthopedic surgeon Fellow came in, introduced himself, and explained the surgery in full and asked if I had any questions.¬† I listened smiling.¬† I was ecstatic!¬† They both introduced themselves as a Fellows!¬† *Yes!¬† YES!*

I was so so happy that it was fellows and not residents doing the surgery!¬† I knew that since it was a teaching hospital, that a student would be performing the surgery.¬† At first I was so worried that something would go wrong, but then I knew that the Attending would be standing right there ready to intervene at any time which is a comfort.¬† My only wish was that Fellows would be doing it because I was positive that this wouldn’t be their first time performing this surgery then.

By the time I finished talking to all six of the doctors and nurses that would be taking care of my little peanut, I felt like that rock in my stomach had turned into a pebble.¬† My biggest fear had been the anesthesiologist, and not only was the fellow extremely confident and capable, but the attending was so casual and friendly that they really made me feel comfortable with their ability.¬† their bedside manner was honestly the best I’ve ever dealt with.

They all left periodically and I was left alone with Peanut.¬† I realized that I hadn’t really looked at her for the past ten minutes.¬† the last time that I had looked at her she was for the most part with it.¬† When I looked at her this time, though, I had to literally choke back a laugh.¬† I realized that I was so distracted by all the background noise I didn’t hear her singing groggily to herself this whole time.¬† It was somewhere between a groan, a gurgle and a sigh.¬† Not only that but her eyes were half drooped and she had this odd little confused smirk on her face.¬† In short, she looked drunk.¬† She was staring up at the ceiling and she’d raise her hand unintentionally and startle herself.¬† She’d hold her hand over her face and rotate it round and study it so intensely.¬† Then I’d say her name and she’d startle and throw her head in the direction of my voice.¬† It took her a second to focus on me when she finally realized where I was then she’d stare at me.¬† Hard.¬† Almost like she was trying to figure out if it was really me or not.

'drunken' peanut

When she wasn’t studying my face or her hand, she’d look at the nurses that popped in and out.¬† She’d stare at them, then almost smile at them like she recognized them, then go back to serious in an instant.¬† It was like she was always just short of coming to a realization and was always lost in thought.

She had me laughing so hard I didn’t realize her surgery was late.¬† When all six of the doctors and nurses came to get her, I was shocked to see so much time had gone by without my noticing.¬† Peanut’s goofy half-drunken state was just what I needed to relax.

Then, the final kicker.¬† When they announced “it’s time.” I felt a rush of emotions come back again.¬† I snuggled Peanut close for a couple of seconds and gave her one, or ten, final kisses and backed away watching her almost smile before going back into contemplation mode about whether she recognizes me or not.¬† I chuckled.¬† The nurse wrapped her body up in the blanket I brought and picked her up.¬† Immediately, as if Peanut’s consciousness was an arrow shooting through the fog, she seemed to get the spark back in her eyes.¬† She threw her hands out of the blanket, braced them against the nurse’s shoulder and reared her head back while giving one of the dirtiest looks I have ever seen.¬† Her eyes bore into the nurse like lasers.¬† Her eyebrows nearly met in the middle.¬† Her nose was wrinkled up like she smelled dead fish.¬† Her frown looked absolutely disgusted.¬† For a good five seconds she glared at the nurse with this look of absolute hatred.¬† Then, slowly, she drifted back into a state of indifference and started singing to herself again.

I, and the whole team of doctors, laughed.  We laughed so hard that all the other patients and their parents and their doctors looked our way.  Soon, they were all smiling too.

That pebble in my stomach turned into a grain of sand.¬† What a personality…¬† I will never, ever forget that face.

I watched them walk away with my baby.  All smiling and laughing about what she just did, and she was indifferently observing her surroundings as she went.  Somehow, at the moment that I feared the most, I was feeling my best in the last two weeks.  I was scared that watching her go would be so hard for me.  I kept thinking of all the bad things that could happen to her.  Yet here I was, smiling and chuckling to myself.  I was completely comfortable with the doctors that were walking away with her.  I was completely comfortable with the day now.

I headed out of holding, and made my way to the family surgery waiting room.¬† They said the surgery would take about two hours so I brought some knitting and a book.¬† I considered bringing more, but I knew I could easily just read for two hours and be fine.¬† I brought a neck pillow in anticipation of a crappy chair with plastic arms in a crappy small room with crappy lighting.¬† To my complete surprise the waiting room was in a new wing recently built on the hospital.¬† It was huge.¬† There were two receptionists there, there was a mini kitchen with so much free food and even more drinks, there were tens of couches and recliners with their own coffee tables and ottomans and there were three big screen TVs.¬† Phones were even spread through the room for free outside calls if you didn’t get cell phone reception.¬† The receptionists were there to call the OR at any time and check on the progress for parents and answer any other questions in the meantime.¬† *Thank you Children’s, yet again, for exceeding my expectations!*

I went straight back to an empty corner in front of one of the TVs and set up camp on one of the couches.¬† I went to the kitchen straightaway and found the coffee.¬† Now that Peanut was gone, I was beginning to realize just how tired I was.¬† After the first coffee I got creative and started mixing coffee and hot chocolate and creamer.¬† It was delicious.. and effective.¬† I was happy to see other parents brought book, puzzles, music players and one Mom even had a yoga mat laid out.¬† Some other parents were napping with blankets and a pillow and had their shoes off, so I felt it was only appropriate to take my own shoes off.¬† It was like a bum’s paradise.¬† We were eating free food and napping on furniture that wasn’t ours.

Two short hours later The attending surgeon came and found me to let me know Peanut was out of surgery and already woke up in recovery.¬† I don’t know if it was the enormous amount of caffeine pumping through my body, or the immense amount of relief exploding from my body, but I was absolutely happy and wired to the max.¬† (probably a little bit of both)¬† He told me that they had a minor issue with the anesthesia at first.¬† They originally put her on her belly so they could get to her ankles easier, but the weight of her body was too much for her lugs to handle so they had to flip her over.¬† I honestly don’t know if she want into cardiac arrest, or if her heart rate just got too low or what.¬† I didn’t ask.¬† I didn’t care.¬† I knew she was fine now, and I knew it’d only make future surgeries scarier for me if I knew she had something serious happen.

The surgery itself went very well.¬† He said the tendon release wasn’t enough to bring her foot up so they had to do a soft tissue release too.¬† I guess she did have a lot of scar tissue around her tendon.¬† Now because they had to cut more she’ll always have a little gap in the back of her ankle, but I figure it’s better that than being tippy toed all her life!¬† In the meantime we put her in casts and wait for the tendon and tissue to heal itself back together where it was separated.¬† That could take anywhere from six weeks on.

I was led back to the recovery room to see her.¬† The room had approximately ten bed around the left and back perimeter with an island of computers and desks in the middle for the nurses and staff.¬† The right side had a bunch of door for what I imagine are supplies.¬† It was a long skinny room.¬† Right when I entered I heard her.¬† At least I thought it was her.¬† It sounded like her, but the little voice sounded so dull and tired and hoarse.¬† All I heard was “eeeeeeh… eeeeeeeh…”¬† I was led to the farthest back corner and saw her.¬† She was in casts up to her hips, sprawled on her back on the nurse’s lap and her head was draped over her arm, completely limp.¬† Her eyes were closed and her arms were limp at her sides.¬† She was letting out the saddest little cry I have ever heard.¬† But the hoarseness is what shocked me.¬† She sounded like someone who had lost their voice.¬† I mean it was really really bad!¬† I asked why her voice was so scratchy and the nurse said that some kids that are intubated get really dry throats from the gas that’s blown in their throats.¬† I felt so bad for her.¬† It must have hurt so bad!¬† I got her in my lap and held her tight.¬† After a few minutes she stopped crying and she opened her groggy little eyes and looked right at me.¬† She didn’t smile and she didn’t reach up to touch my face like she always does.¬† Her eyes were so tender and trusting like she knew I was here for her now.¬† She snuggled into my chest, closed her eyes and let out a little sigh.

Peanut right after surgery. Still groggy.

I finally felt that little grain of sand I had been holding on to disappear.  It was finally ok.  She was finally ok.  It was done.  I think she sensed that too when she snuggled in.  It was like she had been smiling and laughing for me those last two weeks to keep my spirits up, but now that it was over, she stopped trying to be happy for me and just wanted to be comforted and held tight.  We sat there for a long time quietly.  It was so peaceful.

We eventually were roused from our mental slumber and were taken back to day surgery for recovery time.¬† We had to wait until she showed signs of being “back to normal” and that the anesthesia was completely out of her system before we could go home.¬† I snuggled her tightly in her blanket and went to get her stuffed animal.¬† I realized I forgot to bring one!¬† I was bummed, but glad she wasn’t attached to any one in particular yet.¬† I grabbed out “goodnight Moon” and snuggled her up in my lap.¬† We didn’t even start it yet and the nurse came in to check up on her.¬† She had a piece of paper in her hand and the other was behind her back.¬† We chatted for a little bit the she gave me the piece of paper.¬† It was so sweet!¬† It was a certificate of Bravery for Peanut.¬† It had a picture of a princess¬† and said, “Peanut is entitled to this award for bravery for her surgery at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.”¬† I loved it immediately.¬† She deserved that certificate months ago.¬† Then the nurse took her other hand out from behind her back.¬† It was a little handmade stuffed animal bear.¬† It had a ribbon tied around its neck and a big heart sewn on its chest.¬† She said it was a “bravery Bear” for her to take home to always remember this day.¬† I almost cried.¬† I don’t know why.¬† But it was just so sweet.¬† Someone took the time to make this little bear for kids who go through surgery.¬† My little Peanut got a Bravery Bear.¬† I profusely thanked the nurse while Peanut, who was getting back to her usual self, squealed and chomped away on her new toy.

Bravery Bear

An hour later we were getting ready to go.¬† Peanut, who was now screaming at the top of her lungs in delight every time she saw her bear, was “back to normal”.¬† When the nurses saw her thrashing and panting and squealing and laughing, they came in laughing and said we clearly didn’t need to stay here any longer if she was about to destroy the room in her excitement.¬† I agreed.¬† Right when¬† I got her in the stroller and pulled on my jacket Peanut’s OR nurse came in to check up on us.¬† Peanut greeted her with smiles, completely unaware of the death glare she gave her earlier in the day.¬† I chatted with her for a minute.¬† She asked about her siblings and I told her about Bear and Buddy and how they’re all already really close.¬† She told me to wait a minute and disappeared.¬† A few minutes later she showed up with two more bravery bears.¬† (Which resulted in more screams from Peanut when she saw them)¬† One for Buddy, and one for Bear.¬† I couldn’t believe how generous everyone was that day!

I gave Peanut all three bears in the meantime which she greedily chomped on, and we headed home.¬† It was around 1:30 PM.¬† By the time we got home we were gone around 8 hours, which was less than I would have ever expected!¬† When I got in the door, Buddy was right there waiting.¬† He saw his sister’s car seat and pointed over and over.¬† He wouldn’t get out of the way and kept telling me to put her down.¬† He insisted on seeing her right then and there.¬† I’m not sure if he sensed that something happened to her, or if he was just happy to se her, but he made it clear he wanted to see his sister right now.¬† I put her down and he squatted down next to her and closely examined her.¬† He looked over her face, checked her arms, poked at her casts and checked her buckles.¬† After the check he still stayed though and just chatted to her and pointed to her.¬† It was like he was so happy to see her.¬† It was really sweet.¬† When I got her out of her seat he ran ahead to her swing and waited for her there.¬† What a doting brother. ūüôā

Doting brother

Now, three days later, you would never have known she had surgery if she didn’t have those casts.¬† She is more rambunctious than ever and smiling and laughing right along with her sister.¬† We have a follow-up appointment in a week and she’ll be getting her permanent casts then after removing the stitches and checking the healing.¬† (I’m still debating what color to get her.¬† I’m thinking bright pink will fit her just fine.)¬†¬† In the meantime I at least have the scariest day of the year (so far!) out-of-the-way!¬† Plus, wouldn’t you know it, my sicknes is nearly gone now.¬† It was totally stress.

Everyone, thank you for your well wishes and prayers!¬† Peanut, and especially I, thank you for everything you’ve done and said.¬† I’m so happy that she has so many people who love her so much.¬† She really is a special girl!