Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday, Jamie!

Happy Birthday to our six-year old!

Just six short years ago (to the minute since it is 7:42pm right now as I type this - the time of your birth), your birth changed our lives forever. We could never have foreseen the joys, wonders, excitement, (challenges!), and love you have brought into our lives. You were the one who made us parents - what an amazing gift to us.

We love you, Jamie! Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sweet Stuff

More photos of our cutie pie. And, sadly, this is the only photo so far of my four children together (still weird to say that!). We HAVE to get a better photo!

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Feel Pretty

"I feel pretty... oh so pretty..." that's Violet talking because I most certainly do not feel pretty! I could go on and on about how this recovery is a zillion times harder (because it is), and now I have so much more appreciation for what some of my friends have been through. But the main thing is that Violet is here safe and sound, and we are all enamored with the newest member of our family.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Postpartum Indulgence

It's a new experience to indulge in Percocet and Toblerone chocolate at 2am. One of the perks of a C-section?

We're all doing fairly well right now. My pain meds have been decreased in strength. Although I am much more aware of my incision pain now, it is such a relief to have the IV out of my arm and the epidural catheter out of my back (they leave it in for two days postpartum). I don't like being all doped up, so I am trying to get away with as little pain medication as I can without killing myself. I have gotten so much great advice from all my friends who have gone through this experience - thank you! I need it because I think one of the hardest parts for me about undergoing a C-section was that I had three amazing birth experiences (and as my OB put it, I have a "proven pelvis") and I fully expected Violet's birth to go along the same path. So this came as a huge shock to everyone, OB included. Since Christina is due a few weeks after me, we have been discussing birth plans and labor and delivery options. And C-section never came up because my biggest concern was not being able to handle the pain and have a drug-free birth like I did with Simon. Although labor was not a piece of cake with Simon, the recovery was. Within an hour of giving birth, I was up taking a shower, walking around, doing whatever I wanted. Maybe just a little slower. There is absolutely no "get up and go" now. I have to rely on someone else to even pull up my underwear! But enough about me!

Violet is doing great. I still cannot get over how tiny she is. Everything about her is so delicate. I think Clare has baby dolls bigger than Violet! It's hard to determine who she looks like, too. We catch glimpses of all our other babies in her. I think she is showing signs of a feisty personality, which is the way Jamie was as a baby. Clare slept so much as a newborn because of her heart, and Simon was a very mellow baby for the most part. Jamie, however, stopped acting like a newborn at one week old - very alert and aware and did not sleep, sleep, sleep like most newborns. Yesterday was a rough day for Violet because she was hungry and wanted to nurse all day long, but my milk had not come in yet. We had a day like this with newborn Jamie, too. (And I can remember my dad spending most of the day rocking Jamie.) I nursed Violet as often as she wanted (even if she's not getting much, it stimulates the milk production and can speed up the process), but eventually started to get very sore. Violet spent most of the day crying or trying to fall asleep, but I think the baby was just so hungry. By Baby #4, I have learned that sometimes you need to let go of how you think everything should be. I would have been appalled to let the nurse do this with Jamie, but I was more than willing to let our nurse cup-feed Violet half an ounce of formula just to settle her tummy a little bit. She did this once late morning and once late afternoon. Both times, it was enough to allow Violet to feel satisfied, and she would settle down to sleep. (And give us a break!) By the late evening, my milk had started to come in. So now, Violet has had a good night, waking only to nurse then she goes right back to sleep for a couple hours. I am alternating between having her in bed with me and putting her in the bassinet. I know she is happy because she does not mind sleeping in the bassinet.

The ENT did stop by this evening to take a peek in Violet's mouth. She does have a moderate tongue-tie, and he could fix it right away using just a local anesthetic. We talked about Clare and our concerns if we did not have Violet's tongue released. Dr. Z was Clare's former ENT, and he was the one who referred us to Clare's new ENT once we found out she had to have her surgery at a different hospital. Since Violet has no issues latching on and is nursing well, Dr. Z said there was no rush to having the tongue released. He was happy to do it before we left the hospital, but also said we could wait a few months. This would still be early enough to not interfere with eating solids or speech. Then Violet would undergo the same procedure Clare is having done. Although this involves general anesthesia, the recovery is the same, and Dr. Z said it is actually a safer procedure because it is more controlled since the child is not awake at all. Violet would be awake if we did it now, and her only pain relief would be sucrose water or breastfeeding after the procedure. So Shawn and I agreed on a wait-and-see approach for now.

We are planning on being discharged this morning. I am a little nervous about going home because I know I will feel even more helpless in my own home. But I am eager to get home because we have three other little ones who are missing us very much (and can't wait to have their new baby sister at home). Simon has decided that he does like me still, and both times he came to visit in the hospital, spent most of the time snuggled against my side in the hospital bed (and he was actually very good and listened about sitting still and not pushing on Mommy's tummy). Unless she was eating pudding after pudding, Clare was often snuggled on my other side. Jamie is the baby hog and just wanted to hold Violet the whole time. Both of our moms are with the kids right now (Shawn's mom has been with them since Violet's birth), and my mom is staying through the weekend, so we will have some help.

Okay, time to track down my nurse for another Percocet.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Photo Time


Okay, I am kicking Shawn off blogger now. It is 2:20 am, and I am surprisingly more energized now that I had about 45 minutes of sleep!

Violet's labor and delivery was nothing like I expected at all. I would never have predicted that it would end in a C-section. We arrived at the hospital at 7am, and I was at 2 cm and 50% effaced. Because I am a carrier of the Group B strep infection, the first order of business was putting in an IV and getting some antibiotics in my system. About two hours later, they started my Pitocin to get the contractions going stronger and longer. Then Dr. B broke my water. By this time, I was at 3 cm and that's when the real fun began.

From the beginning, Violet was not happy with labor. At first her heart rate would go down with each contraction (below 100), then it started taking longer and longer for the heart rate to go back up. Dr. B thought Violet might be laying on her umbilical cord and compressing it with each contraction, so we tried various positions to get Violet off the cord. When that did not work, Dr. B started an amnio infusion, which means that she inserted a catheter into my uterus and started to put fluid back into the uterus. This provided more cushion for Violet, and her heart rate began to improve. At the same time, a pressure catheter was inserted to accurately monitor the strength of each contraction. This worked for a bit, and I dilated another centimeter to 4 cm. Then, once again, Violet's heart rate was acting up again. This time, not only did she have decelerations with each contraction, but in between, she became tachycardiac, and her heart rate would go up into the 180's. So this time, Dr. B inserted an internal fetal monitor to keep an exact eye on Violet's heart rate. By now, I had tubes and wires everywhere. It was becoming quite clear that my "natural" birth was going to be anything but. I was not allowed to labor in the tub or on the birthing ball. I was confined to the bed (which is exactly what I didn't want!).

Dr. B explained up front that if they could not get Violet's heart rate under control, then I would have to deliver by C-section. Definitely NOT in my birth plan, so I was willing to try anything. I spent over an hour on my hands and knees on the bed with the addition of giving me oxygen via mask to see how that would improve Violet's heart rate. Now after 10 hours of doing various things, I was still only at 4cm, and Violet really was not happy in any position. I had told Dr. B that I would stay on my hands and knees for hours and deliver that way, if I had to. But by now Shawn and I realized that a C-section was looking like the best option. After all, Violet's health and safety came first, no matter how the delivery went.

At 5 pm, we agreed to the C-section, and everything proceeded rapidly from there. I admit to being extremely nervous about this great unknown. Dr. B explained the procedure and recovery thoroughly (I love my OB and trust her implicitly - she has delivered all four of my children now). We joked about how I was going to have all the birth experiences possible, and now if I ever did have a fifth child, I could even experience a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean). Getting an epidural while in very little discomfort was also a new, unpleasant experience, but the anesthesiologist was wonderful. Very encouraging and supportive and kept me updated the whole time we were in the operating room. I know Shawn was very anxious as well, but he was strong and brave for my sake! (Thank you, honey, I love you!) The C-section was underway, and Violet Grace was born at 5:42 pm. Although it is still surreal to me that I actually underwent a C-section, when Violet was brought out of me, and I heard that first cry, that was as real as my other births. I cried and thanked God that she was finally here.

We are surprised at what a peanut she is - weighing in at barely 6 lbs, 7 oz. (she was technically 6 lbs, 6.5 oz) and measuring 18 inches long, she is smaller than Clare was at birth! (Who was 6 lbs, 8 oz and 20".) About an hour after birth, Violet's heart and respiratory rates were still high, and she was cold (her feet and hands were blue). That resolved over the next couple hours. Violet did have the cord wrapped around her body twice (and I think once around her neck), which explains her decelerations. Dr. B believes that there was no way Violet would have delivered vaginally because of this. So I am thankful we made the decision to have a C-section before I endured hours more of labor (especially on my hands and knees). This way, I do have a C-section recovery ahead of me, but I am not recovering from hard labor and pushing as well. Dr. B hypothesizes that the stress of labor at least contributed to the tachycardia, but is having my placenta tested as well to rule out any infection. We, of course, have asked over and over, and Violet has no heart murmur (not that I was expecting one, but you never know!).

Right now, I am extremely tender and starting to feel the soreness of the incision. The epidural will remain in my spine for a couple days, and I am receiving pain relief through that. I have developed the "itchies" (which, to me, feels worse than the incision right now) and have received a shot for that. I don't know what to expect from the recovery, but so far, it is all new. Not too bad yet, but everyone keeps telling me, "Just wait." Great!

Violet is in the nursery having her hearing test done, and I miss her already. A mommy's pride, but she is the most beautiful baby. She has dark hair, but not as much as the other three did. She looks like a mix of Jamie, Clare, and Simon - it's so amazing! And I couldn't believe it when Shawn told me she is tongue-tied as well. The pediatrician will look at her later today, but from what I can see, it actually looks like a worse tongue-tie than Clare's, and her tongue may actually fork like a lizard's when she sticks it out because the tie is all the way to the front of her mouth. Thankfully, this should be a simple procedure if she needs it released, since Violet does not have Clare's medical history. But, for right now, Violet is already nursing like a pro and prefers being in bed with me.

I am still in awe that our baby girl is actually here and in our arms. One of the benefits of the C-section was that my sister-in-law was able to bring the kids to the hospital an hour after Violet's birth so they could meet her. Already, Jamie cannot get enough of her and wanted to just sit and hold her. Clare was eager to meet Violet, too. She has not gotten to hold her yet because she was also so excited to see me. Simon, however, wanted nothing to do with me and clung to Auntie Becky. I have a feeling we're going to have a little bit of a rough adjustment down that road. Especially since I have an incision now and won't be able to do all Simon will want me to do.

We will definitely be in the hospital into the weekend now. Shawn is going to download the photos off the camera later (since it is 2 am, and he is actually sleeping), so I will post more photos! Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. We are ecstatic that Violet Grace has finally arrived, safe and sound.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Introducing Violet Grace

S~I planned to do a little more updating, but things got a little crazy. So I am going to keep this short because we are all a little exhausted. Violet Grace was born today at 5:42pm by Cesarean section. The reason for the C-section is apparently Violet likes gymnastics and was doing some tumbling in the womb. She ended up wrapping the umbilical cord around herself twice. After 10 hours of trying with many issues with her heart rate, the C-section was declared. So here is Violet Grace, weighing in at 6 lbs 7 oz and a whopping 18 inches tall (she is our peanut!). And as you can see, just a little hair. Well, that's it for now with a promise to do more tomorrow. Thanks for all your prayers and well wishes!

Quick Update

S~So a quick update. The Doctor (we'll call her Dr. B) came in and broke her water. She thinks she was able to get it but was not sure because the water didn't really seem to come out. Could mean her water was already broken and slowly coming out. Teresa is still in good spirits and feeling good. Talk to you soon!

The Arrival of Violet Grace~The Intro

S~Hey there everyone. Well right now Teresa is in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV and has already received her first dosing of Antibiotics. Things are looking good! We were able to come right in at 7am and are now waiting for our Doctor to get out of a few procedures. Since Teresa will be doing all the leg work today, I will be the emcee for today's main event. So in good emcee style..."LET'S GET READY TO....CONTRACT!"

Here is the plan. Right around ten they will start her on Pitocin to get some contractions going. We are not too concerned about a Pitocin delivery considering both Clare and Simon were Pitocin deliveries. Then around 12:30 the doctor will most likely break her water. From there everyone is expecting a quick delivery!!!

A quick delivery is good with us since Teresa was up at 4am with Simon. I think the Mamma's boy was looking for a little last minute snuggle time as the baby. We plan on doing periodic updates from the hospital, but I know once Teresa gets going she won't let me blog anymore. So in the meantime we will try to keep you up to date as much as possible. Please keep both Teresa and Violet in your prayers today that we get a safe delivery with no complications!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Then there's burning your arm on the stove; two days later, ripping the scab off on a rusty piece of metal; and now ending up with an infection requiring antibiotics and a tetanus shot. All while 39 weeks pregnant.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The best part about being pregnant is that I can spend an hour soaking in a bubble bath, reading my book, and eating a huge bowl of Vienna Mocha Chunk ice cream drenched in chocolate and caramel sauce, and I DON'T FEEL GUILTY AT ALL!!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

They Come in Threes

For the most part, we live a normal life, and Williams syndrome is not a daily part of it. In fact, when we initially met with Clare's new ENT and went over her medical history with the nurse and the doctor, I never once stated the words "Williams syndrome." I completely forgot to tell the doctor that's what Clare had and forgot to write it down on any of the medical forms. (As I remarked to Shawn later, the doctor was probably wondering what these parents were so freaked out about with anesthesia!!)

But then there are times when one thing after another reminds me over and over what challenges Clare (and us) face. This time, they came in threes.

It started on Sunday. We had a busy day, including visiting Jamie's new school. Since Jamie's current school ends at kindergarten, we are sending him to a different school come fall. The only thing left to do was to physically visit the new school with Jamie. They had an open house on Sunday afternoon, so we all trooped out in the snow (once again!) to visit. Shawn and I both liked the school, and Jamie is excited to go there next year. (Although I don't think he will know anyone in his actual class, he will know other children that attend the school, so he is excited about that.) We met the first grade teacher, saw the classroom, and explored the rest of the school. I have nothing in general against public schools but our preference is to send our children to a Catholic elementary school if we can afford it, they will get a good education, and we like the staff, teachers, and environment (yes, to all three right now). However, Jamie will have to take a test (called a "readiness test") before he can enter the first grade there. Shawn remarked that he wished Clare could also attend this school, but we know that is a scant possibility. In fact, when researching the local Catholic schools, I had a conversation with the principal of this particular school regarding Clare. She was very forthright (which I appreciated) and told me that the school was not equipped to adequately educate a child with Clare's disabilities. Clare would not necessarily be refused admittance, but they did not have the resources to educate children with special needs. Before Jamie started private preschool, Shawn and I had discussion after discussion regarding school choices for all our children. Part of me really wants them all to be in the same school; but, at the same time, if public school is the only option for Clare, I do not want Jamie to go to public school just because that's where Clare has to go. I prefer sending our children to a Catholic school - our faith is very important to us, and I want my children to have the foundation of a solid Catholic education. So I still personally struggle with the decision we have made to send Jamie, Simon, and all other children to private school while navigating the public school system with Clare. It's easy to second-guess your decisions as parents, especially regarding such important choices as education. I just keep hoping we are doing what's best for everyone.

After the end of this long day, Clare had a meltdown before bedtime. I let the kids choose between a cookie or piece of chocolate for a treat. Jamie chose a cookie and Simon chose chocolate. Clare, however, chose both. When told that was not an option, she lost it. We ended up carrying her upstairs in a full fit of hysterics. She was so upset, she was choking and gagging. I finally was able to get her to settle down by laying her in her bed and rubbing her chest. She threw another one today at Jamie's school because she did not want to leave to go home. It took her most of the 25-minute ride home in the car to calm down. Then we had another one after dinner because she wanted to take a bath right away. I never know what to "blame" her tantrums on. I know she is only 3 1/2 years old. I know she is tired at the end of the day, especially after a long day of school. Clare does not nap anymore, so she does not get the rest I think she needs. She had that nasty stomach virus which threw her off her regular schedule for more than a week, and it was somewhat of an adjustment to go back to school after the weather-extended Christmas break. I know of many children with Williams syndrome who have to go on medication for anxiety, etc. I do not believe in any way that we are at that point with Clare, but it does scare me when she gets so out-of-control, and we struggle to help her regain that control. All I think about is her heart working overtime to pump all that blood! I am not sure what the answer is here, but we keep plugging away.

And, finally, Clare's new speech therapist, Judy, hit us with the startling news that Clare's feeding skills are on the level of a 6-9 month old. We knew Clare had some issues with chewing, but had no idea how bad it really was. Part of me is relieved to hear this because it explains so much about how Clare eats and what she prefers to eat (no more feeling like a bad mom because I let my daughter eat macaroni and cheese, cream cheese wraps, and cheese puffs every single day). But then the other part of me feels like an even worse mom because we've had no clue that Clare's oral skills were so poor. As Judy stated, after Clare's surgery, "we have a lot of work to do." Clare's tongue-tie contributes a lot to her poor skills, but she also does not use her molars to bite or chew. She relies on her front teeth for biting and mashes and "gums" her food, rather than chewing it, before swallowing it. We are still seeing so much progress with Clare's speech after months of working with Judy. (Such as, this is literally word-for-word what Clare yelled down the stairs to Shawn after lunch today - "Daddy, you come back here! I am talking to you!") I am praying we see the same progress in her feeding after the surgery. (And I won't even go into the whole insurance issues of making sure we have some sort of coverage for continued weekly therapy - if you've been there, you know the headache we have ahead of us.)

I had an e-mail conversation with a good friend (whose daughter also has a heart condition and has some other challenges as well) about being selfish. I try to be grateful that all this has nothing to do with her heart and is not a life-or-death situation. But I wish that, for once, everything else would go smoothly as well.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Finally, Someone Gets It

A friend sent me this newspaper clipping from Carolyn Hax's Tell Me About It column in the Washington Post. I loved it!

"Dear Carolyn: My best friend has a child. Her: Exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group . . .

OK. I've done Internet searches; I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please, no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners. . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them every day. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day, and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events), and I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy — not a bad thing at all — but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth? Is this a contest ("My life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids, and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions. — Tacoma, Wash.

● Dear Tacoma:Relax and enjoy. You're funny.

Or you're lying about having friends with kids.

Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them. Internet searches?

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand — while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom friends are either lying or competing with you — is disingenuous indeed.

So, since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries and questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family members and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting the constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.

It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity, empathy. Everything.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy — and then when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, you wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend — a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends or marvel at how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand, or keep your snit to yourself."
~reprinted without permission

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bruiser Boy

As I stated in the last post, 2009 has started off with a bang and poor Simon has gotten the brunt of it so far! Being a typical toddler (and a fearless one at that), he takes multiple spills every day. I am amazed, though, how resilient little kids are, and he very rarely gets more than a little bump as a result of a fall. However, on New Year's Day, Simon took a slide down the stairs on his face. He didn't go too far, but it was far enough to produce a carpet burn down his forehead and nose. I tried to take some photos of the bruiser, but he does not stand still for long! Then later that night, he was goofing off in the bedroom and fell right into the corner of the floor molding, causing a gash out of the corner of his eye. He definitely looks like a rough and tough boy now! Reminds me of another toddler we used to have running around this house...Top photo is Simon, after the carpet burn but before the eye cut. Bottom photo is Jamie at 17 months old with his bruiser face, complete with stitches in his forehead.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy New Year's (Belated!)

We've made it to January (which probably excites me the most because I am ready to have this baby)! And the New Year has started off with a bang by striking down 3/5 of the household with a stomach virus - Clare, Simon, and me. Simon is back on his feet again, but Clare is still totally wiped out. She started vomiting on Friday night and has spent the last two days in bed. At least today is an improvement in that she is spending it in MY bed watching Disney versus sleeping in her bed all day. (Actually, Clare and I spent a good portion of yesterday sleeping in my bed together.) I am somewhat back on my feet, but I still feel very weak. If you've ever had a stomach virus while pregnant you know what agony it is, not only to have the virus and the unpleasant effects of it, but have this little person beating you up inside at the same time. I have to be really good while pregnant about keeping up my calcium and potassium levels on a daily basis or else I get muscle cramps everywhere. Unfortunately, I was not able to do that yesterday, so today I am plagued with cramps and spasms, primarily in my legs. Poor Shawn has been such a trooper with all the invalids in the house! Thankfully he and Jamie escaped unscathed.

On a better note, we met with Clare's new ENT up at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth this week. Armed with our list of concerns regarding a possible frenulectomy and the anesthesia associated with one, we were very satisfied with the new doctor. He answered all of our questions and interacted great with Clare. She did not want to sit on the chair (similar to what is at the dentist's or eye doctor's and surrounded by big, scary-looking equipment), and he was fine with her sitting on my lap on a regular chair while he examined her mouth. He stated that Clare's tongue-tie is moderate to severe, and we would most likely see improvement in speech and eating if it was released. There are two types of procedures that can be done to release the tongue. For now, we are opting for the less invasive procedure. This involves general anesthesia, but only under a mask (no breathing tube, no IV sedation), and literally for a few minutes. Plus by going to Dartmouth, Clare will be under the care of a pediatric anesthesiologist familiar with her type of heart condition and Williams syndrome. The actual procedure will take about 5 minutes, and there is very little recovery (the doctor said Clare will feel as if she bit her tongue too hard). She won't have to come off any of her medications for the procedure, although she will have to fast because of the anesthesia. There will be no diet restrictions and hopefully we will notice improvement. The highest risk (percentage-wise, that is) is that too much scar tissue will develop and Clare would end up more tongue-tied than she already is. If that does happen or the frenulectomy is not successful for any reason, we would proceed to discuss the second option. This is a longer, more invasive procedure and entails more than just the gas mask for minutes and other areas of her mouth are involved. So we are praying that this procedure is a success! Since our baby girl is coming in the next few weeks,we opted for a March 2 surgery date.