Thursday, June 26, 2014

Throwback Thursday - June 26, 2014

Sometime in the 80's

Some of my greatest family memories have been at Long Beach Island, NJ. Every August, our family, and I mean entire family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole lot of us, would rent a huge multi-level family house there. 

I remember those 2 weeks being so carefree, so fun. Not a care in the world except whether the waves would roll in and destroy your perfect sandcastle. 

This picture was always one that was famous, in it's own respect, within the family. There I was, the little ham, posing on the hood of my Aunt Barbara's t-top Toyota Celica. 

My Aunt Barbara, in particular, always loved this photo. She always said it was one of her favorite pictures of me. It's one of my favorite too. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday - June 19, 2009

Brandon 6-19-2009

Awe look at my little Brandon. This picture was 5 years ago today. It's hard to believe that this tiny little baby is the same rambunctious 5 year old that runs around my house. The same kid that is starting Kindergarten in September. 

Even though I didn't plan on having another preemie baby, I saved the preemie clothes anyway. Back when Brandon was born, there was a very small selection of preemie clothes. Now it seems that everything comes in a preemie size. Those preemie clothes seemed to fit Brandon forever. And now they are all small on Ryan, even though Ryan is only slightly bigger that Brandon was at the time. 

Which brings me to why I chose this picture. I often have a hard time remembering just how tiny Brandon was. I hold Ryan a think to myself, I don't remember Brandon being so small. But he was. The picture proves it. I don't know how I ever figured out how to care for something so tiny and fragile. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014



As Moms, we've all been new. We've doubted our abilities as good moms. We rejoice in our baby's every milestone. We learn and we have personal victories and an equal amount of failures. We've all sat there and said, "I can't believe that's my baby. I made that".

But NICU moms are different. We have a camaraderie that I have seldom seen in non-NICU moms. We've gone to war and come back a different person. We swap stories proudly but can empathize with each other. I mean really, truly feel with them in that moment. 

NICU moms never know the joys of lying our babies on our bare chest moments after birth. We'll never share a hospital room. We will never know what it's like to be wheeled out of the hospital while Daddy carries the infant car seat out the doors to begin your life as a family. 

No. Our experience is much different than a non-NICU mom. And as I speak to other NICU moms, I learn we all have similar stories. Our bodies, the bodies that were created to conceive and grow new life, fails us.  

We understand the enormity of milestones. While an ounce in weight gain may seem less than spectacular to a non-NICU mom, to us an ounce can make the difference in your baby moving one step closer to home or not. A 3ml increase in intake is always a huge deal. 

NICU moms become accustomed to the dings, bings and beeps of the monitors. We know the ranges of heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation. We know what oxygen saturation is and why it's important. We become experts in our baby's medical treatment. 

We change diapers amidst wires. We do this while changing our babies in what can only be described as a salad bar. Hoping and praying the wires don't land in the dirty diaper. 

We know what it's like to have to ask to take your baby out of the isolette. To wait while some one else fixes your baby's bottle. To have someone watching your every move with your own baby. 

We have gone through the emotional torture of leaving the hospital without that little bundle of joy. It's pretty weird, ya know. You walk into a hospital one day, and there's this little person growing inside you. A little person that only you know. You know his kicks, his rolls and even his sleep patterns. He knows what your heart beat sounds like. Then one day you have a baby and leave him behind. Not forever, but you are leaving your baby, in someone else's care. We've all experienced the stab in the gut walking into the nursery at home and staring at an empty crib, clothes that are waiting to be worn. 

We often become over-protective. In our eyes, those little people living in our house, will always be those fragile little babies. 

The NICU changes you. It changes the woman you are and the Mom you are destined to be. You learn how strong you are capable of being and you learn your breaking point. Do I wish that I would have had my dream birth experience? Of course! But I have learned to embrace my experience and appreciate the woman and mother that it has made me. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Just Like Riding a Bike...Right?

Although yesterday was Friday the 13th, a full moon AND the weather was crap, it was a great day. Our newest little addition to the family was coming home. He spent 17 days in the NICU. Was that all it really was? Hmmm, seemed longer. 

After Ryan was born, I found that I was constantly doubting myself and my abilities to once again care for someone so tiny. It's been 5 years!! I was constantly told, "it's like riding a bike, it all comes back to you". But would it really? I spent that 17 days only getting to feed him twice a day. I got told when to check his temperature and change his diaper. Reporting on the contents of his diaper and changing his shirt. I had to work around wires and when I held him, he was still connected to those wires. 

I thought I knew what to expect, after all I had done this before. Sleep him on his back, no loose bedding, toys or stuffed animals in the crib. Always leave them secure in the carseat while the car is in motion, duh. Swaddle with his arms out. it's arms out? What else was I forgetting, what else had they changed. 

Once our discharge was complete, we were on our way. No more of some one else's rules, no more monitors and no more wires. PANIC! Those wires were my security, they let me know that he was okay. As the nurse peeled the leads off, well, let's just say, I was on the verge of tears. But again, it was just like riding a bike, right?

Ryan's First Car Ride

In the hospital, I rarely heard him cry. He was always sleeping so soundly. Alright, maybe this wasn't so bad. Then we came home and I was on my own. ON. MY. OWN. I thought I knew what I was doing, until I changed his first diaper in the middle of the night. I had to heat the bottle while he was crying, get the cloth ready to clean him, vaseline on the gauze, change his clothes. He was squirmy, so so squirmy and it was pretty dark. I tried to keep Ryan calm and quiet. I kept telling him that it was our first night and we would get it, we'd understand each other. Then we woke the whole house up. Brandon started calling for me, my husband woke up to console him. Cause I, of course, can't be in 2 places at once. Another thought that never crossed my mind, what happens when they both need me at the exact same time?

I woke up this morning exhausted. If I slept 2 hours combined, well, I'm giving myself a lot of credit. I kept looking into his bassinet making sure he was okay. I was cleaning spit-up from his mouth and clothes. I felt just a little defeated. 

Then we went through another feeding this morning and it was better. It was just like the hospital...calm, peaceful, controlled. Then another feeding, less crying going through the changing process. And I felt better in control. 

Would I agree that it is just like riding a bike? Probably not. Let's face it, the last time I hopped on this bike, the ride was missing passengers and the bike was much younger. But I do think things come back to you. You get comfortable again being a mom and having more people to care for. Would I trade it, nope, but I have learned the cliche phrase to NEVER tell my friends having baby #2. Cause the second time isn't anything like the first. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Throwback Thursday - June 12, 2014

Dad's 57th birthday dinner at Benihana

Although this picture isn't too much of a throwback, it only dates back to October 2013, it has become a picture that I hold very close to my heart.

Dad discovered Benihana many many years ago when he was working in Detroit, Michigan. Every year for his birthday, the only thing he wanted was to have dinner at Benihana and we all looked forward to it every year; the food was good and we had a great time together. And each year we took another family photo. We would joke how each year the family grew and soon, we would take up more than one table.

This is the last family photo we ever took. And ironically, we came to realize that it is the only photo of our entire family; all 4 grandsons included. In this photo, my sister-in-law was pregnant with their second child, and this was taken 2 weeks before we found out we were pregnant with our second. So, it is the only photo we will ever have of the entire family.

Looking at these pictures is sometimes hard. We were all so happy, we were all together. We were all smiling. But I am happy that we were able to capture these memories to look back on and remember the wonderful times that we have had and how wonderful of a man my dad was.

I miss him every minute of every day, but I know that he will always be here to watch over us, protect us and guide us, just like he always did. In like, he did everything he did for us and I know he will do that in death as well.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Throwback Thursday - June, 5, 2014

To sit and write a post this week for Throwback Thursday is a tough one. So much has happened since my last post. It is nearly impossible to decide exactly what to write about, so this week is a throwback for the last couple of weeks.

Pregnancy News

On May 13th, I went in for a growth scan. Basically, the sono tech measures pockets of amniotic fluid  and takes measurements on the femur, stomach and head to assess how well the baby is growing. After the tech took the baby's stats, she determined that we was a little on the small side, weighting in around 2 pounds 14 ounces. This sent me on a trip down to the perinatologist for a doppler scan. The doppler scan measures the blood flow through the baby's organs, the placenta and the umbilical cord. Although the tech there measured him around 3 pounds, he was still small. He should have been measuring closer to 3 1/2 pounds. The reason for his growth restriction was that he wasn't receiving the nutrients he needed through the cord because it was restricted. The exact same problem I had with my first pregnancy. My OB and perinatologist decided I would have a scan to check the fluid and a Non-Stress Test every 3-4 days to monitor the baby's health. The test itself was stressful because I knew what they were looking for, I had been down this road before, almost exactly 5 years ago. They wanted to see if his heart rate went up or down during movement. Up is good, down is bad.   I knew what a lowered heart rate meant and during each NST, I prayed I never heard a dip. Any day could be the day and it scared the shit out of me. I was only 31 weeks when they started to monitor me, I delivered my first son at 33 weeks and 1 day gestation. I was quickly approaching that mark. 

I Lost My Dad

On May 16, 2014, I got a call from my mom just after I dropped my son off at school. Dad wasn't breathing and they were taking him to the hospital. She was watching my nephews and was waiting for my brother or sister-in-law to get there. I told her I would head over to the hospital and call her when I knew anything. My cousin had spent the night at my parents house the night before. He heard my father fall and when the dog started howling, he rushed up from downstairs and called 911. I gave the hospital as much information I could while I waited for someone to tell me what was going on. A nurse came out to talk to me and my cousin. I knew it wasn't good that she walked out with a wheelchair for me. She brought us into another room where she explained that they were still working on him and she prepared me for what I was going to see. I tried to stay calm, after all, I was 32 weeks pregnant and put on the "premature birth watch list". She wheeled me into the room where the doctors were trying all they could to bring my dad back. I held his hand and asked him not to leave us, I told him that we needed him. I told him I still needed my daddy. I asked him, I begged him to come back to us. He was our rock and we still needed him. But nothing I said worked. After 29 minutes, the doctor informed me that they did all they could do, but he had been deprived of oxygen too long. They had to stop. I wanted to be one of those people that throw themselves on the table and screamed, to shake sense into the nurses and doctors to keep going, to start CPR myself. But I knew I couldn't. I knew he would never want to live that way. I knew what he could be like if he had been brought back. I couldn't argue. I remember hearing the doctor officially call it. 9:29am on May 16, 2014, my dad died. My life would change, my heart broke. The days that followed were a complete blur. They were filled with arrangements, gathering photos, making videos, ultrasounds and NST. Praying that any pregnancy problems would hold themselves off until at least after Dad's funeral. The NST the morning of the wake was particularly, um, stressful. And of course doing my best to stay calm and rest according to doctor's orders. 

I was going through the motions, but just couldn't believe it was happening. Did I really just lose my dad? My dad died. Words I thought wouldn't have to leave my lips for 20 or more years. He still had so much more to do, another grandchild to see, the rest of his life to spend with his wife, kids and their families. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I never truly considered life without him, I just assumed he would always be there. I still wait for him to call and ask for a hair cut. The pain of losing a parent, is pain I have never felt before. It felt like someone put and oozy to my chest and pulled the trigger. There was a hole. A big huge hole. Little things make me cry; a song on the radio, seeing his truck in the driveway, his funeral card hanging on my dresser mirror. He was an amazing man and we are all going to miss him immensely. But he will remain in my heart forever. 

We Had a Baby!

On May 27, 2014, I went in for my ultrasound and NST. I should have known something was wrong, but I suppose I could have been in denial. The sono tech measured my fluid less that half of what it was a week prior. Not good news. The doctor said to repeat the ultrasound after my NST is complete. So, my mother-in-law and I headed down to the hospital. They hooked me up to the monitors like every other time. I still believed that everything was fine. Then I heard it. The heart rate dropped. In the blink of an eye, there were 3 nurses in my room. Now I started getting nervous. They hooked me up to IV fluids "just in case". My MIL called my husband and he was on his way. I laid there hoping this wasn't happening that day. It was Tuesday and Saturday was my son's big Star Wars 5th birthday party. After my OB called the perinatologist, they decided it was best that my OB delivered. It was happening, I was having a baby, 33 weeks and 3 days. Here we go again. I was nervous, I was scared. I was in shock. 

My husband made it just in time. Thank goodness. I got prepped and wheeled into the OR as he was getting in his scrubs. Ugh, the epidural. I was much more calm going into this one. I guess cause I knew what to expect. I laid down in the table and watched the door waiting for my husband to walk through. I breathed a deep sigh of relief when I saw him. Although I could only see his eyes, I knew everything was going to be okay. He sat by my side and we talked. We talked normally like we were sitting having a cup; of coffee. Before I knew it, I heard my baby cry. And boy did he cry. It was the most amazing sound. They took him over to get vitals and clean him up. And still he cried. Then I saw him. That little itty bitty face sticking out from all the blankets he was swaddled in. I never thought I could love another baby as much as I love my first, but in that instant, my heart was bursting with love for both of my boys. My heart was full. My beautiful baby was here at just 3 pounds 5.9 ounces and 16 inches long. 

May 27, 2014

My husband followed the baby while the doctors finished up and then I was wheeled to recovery. I laid there watching the clock. 1 hour in recovery and they would wheel me down to see my boy. They rolled me down in the bed to the Special Care Nursery. He was so tiny. So very tiny. My first was smaller by 2 ounces. But time will skew your memory. I got to hold him. He was so small, so fragile. I couldn't believe this was happening again. But, as with my first, he was healthy. 

The last 9 days have been roller coaster. A busy roller coaster. Managing 2 kids in 2 different places, giving both attention, but knowing that Ryan needs his rest. I'd be there all day every day if I could. He needs to grow. He is doing well. As of last night he weighed in at 3 pounds 9.5 ounces. He is maintaining his temperature in the isolette and eating well. He's up to 32ml every 3 hours, which is just over an ounce. At 4 pounds they will transfer him to an open crib and see if he maintains his temperature for at least 48 hours. If he does, he will be on his way home! 

June 5, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Throwback Thursday - May 8, 2014

Mom and I on my wedding day

I chose this picture of my mom and I for this week's Throwback Thursday because Mother's Day is this Sunday. This is also one of the very few pictures that I have of just me and my mom. I know she is probably going to hate this picture, she has changed so much since then, but in my eyes, that day she looked beautiful. She was so happy and proud that her little girl was getting married.

It was also the day that my relationship with my mom began to change and evolve into what it is today. I wouldn't say that we ever had a bad relationship, my relationship with both my parents was always pretty good. But growing up, I did give them some hard times, as I am sure most kids to during their teenage years. Heck, I know adults that still give their parents heart failure. 

Our relationship changed in that I understood her more. I understood the things that she did to make her marriage work. I understood what it was to maintain a home, worry about finances. I understood her as a wife. It was on this day, that we became friends. 

I don't know what I would ever do without my mom, although the sad reality is one day, I will. I call her to vent, to laugh, to cry, to know that their is someone on the other end that understands, not just because she is a woman too, but because she is my mom and I am part of her. 

I know I can call her a million times and ask her how to make a hard boiled egg, something I just can't commit to memory and I know she will be there to tell me how. I could be looking all over the place for something very specific and if I tell her, sure as the sky is blue, she will be the one to find it. She comes up with solutions to problems that only a seasoned wife and mother could possibly think of and most times, they are positively genius. 

Not only is she a fantastic mother, but she has morphed into the most amazing grandmother to all her grandkids. They are her life. They keep her going when sometimes she feels that the cards are stacked up against her and things aren't going right. They are just as lucky to have her as I am.

I just hope that my mother knows just how much she means to me and that I wish her the most wonderful of Mother's Days, this year and always.