Feb 21, 2011

Ainsley's First Year

I take a lot of pictures. It's what I love to do. There is something about looking at old pictures that makes us appreciate our loved ones, and the good times more by focusing on the good instead of the bad. Looking at photos is one of my favorite things to do that I don't do often enough. On occasion, when we are not experiencing technical difficulties, we watch a slide show on the big screen in our basement which is networked to our computer(and thousands of photos). It is reminiscent of the days when people used to use projectors and do a slide show, but this is SO much better since the pictures are bright and colorful and we can even set the slideshow to have background music. I still love a good album or scrapbook, but a slideshow is also great in a different way. And I love that everyone can see so easily (no whining from the kids that they can't see).

But to have a good slideshow you need to edit your photos. Rotate the images, delete the duplicates and the ones where people's eyes are closed or you took 15 of the same shot to get that "perfect" expression or to compensate for poor lighting. And yes, I also like to removed red-eyes, adjust lighting and make other fixes. It takes time.  And it's something I am always working on, because you see, every day I take MORE pictures.

Happily I will say TODAY I finished editing the photos from Ainsley's first year. It's not that I haven't edited photos in the past 3 years, just that I found these particular photos to be difficult to work on. You see, the first year of Ainsley's life was probably the most difficult period in my life, largely because it was so difficult for her. When she was born my oldest daughter had just started Kindergarten, my son was 3 and enrolled in co-op preschool. I was already busy with the two little ones. Ainsley was hospitalized for the first 2 months of her life which meant daily trips to the hospital. At 5 weeks, after three extubation attempts she was trached. When she did come home we had to adjust to having nurses in our home to keep her safe while we slept. She had cranial reconstruction surgery at 3 months of age. She had a g-tube placed at 9 months of age.  She had a second cranial reconstruction at 9 months of age, during which they removed and reshaped her entire forehead. That surgery had a very negative impact on the appearance of her eyes which was difficult to accept (and still is). During that year she needed constant suctioning, was constantly vomiting. I had to be with her every second. She was in therapy starting at 4 months of age. All these things were hard, but I think mostly it was the grief over the change in our lives that was the hardest. That and not knowing what our future would bring. A lot of the time I just wished I was "not here". Those closest to me had no idea how hard it was and except for my pediatric trach support group I felt so alone.

I can't explain how I feel when I look at those pictures from that time, but it's saying something that I've finally healed enough to be able to view them. Near her first birthday I put together a montage of her first year. I did it by skimming her first year photos without looking too closely. This process of editing the photos required intense examination which is why it was so "uncomfortable". But it was good to be reminded that despite the pain there was a lot of happiness that year too. And it was great to see and remember how much joy she brought us (and of course still does). 

Though her first year montage is always on the Medical Page of Ainsley's blog I am going to post it again here today. Finally I can watch it without crying. I never did a second year, third, or fourth, but just maybe I'll mange to put together a "First 5 Years Montage" for when she turns 5 this coming October................................but I'd better get busy.

Feb 18, 2011

10 Years Of Being A Parent

I never was sure I wanted to be a parent. My mom was a single parent of three (divorced with a virtually absent father) and she always let us know it was a lot of work. (Sorry mom, but you know it's true.) I was with my husband for 8 years before we had our "oops" moment that would change my life forever. I had no idea what I was in for. Nothing can truly prepare you for becoming a parent other than doing it. (And to those who think having a dog is similar, it's not all that similar because, among other things, it is legal to lock your dog in the house with a bowl of food and LEAVE.)

I remember those early months after Evie was born. How much I loved this little person who needed me so much. But I also remember how much of a challenge I thought it all was. Never having any time for myself, no sleep, no money. I remember having to go grocery shopping and squeezing the baby carrier out of the car door, hefting it up into the cart and then having no room for groceries (for some reason mine didn't fit safely on the handles) while she cried and I felt that everyone in the store was watching me. I thought, "How do people do this?" Now I smile when I think of that. It's all about perspective I guess. Compared to my life before children it was hard. But little did I know how much harder it could become. Adding a second child. Then a third. Try grocery shopping with a 4 year old who can't walk AND a suction machine in the cart, talk about no room. Add a 7 and 9 year old who always seem to like to wrestle in the isles. Ha! That's just the example that stands out. Thankfully I do my grocery shopping while the nurse is here. There are so many ways that having three children is hard, but especially so when the demands of one are so great. I love Miss A but I'd be lying if I said it was easy.

Still I wouldn't change it for the world. They are everything to me, my three lovely children. There are so many thoughts and feelings I would like to write about in depth some day, but today I have to clean my house because I have a "showing" at 3:00.  But before I go, real quick, I just want to say, "Who is this beautiful young lady? Where is my BABY?!" She is growing up right before my eyes, and just this week started calling me "Mom" instead of  "Mommy". I'm not ready! I wish the clock could stop because I know that as hard as it is at times, these are the days we are meant to enjoy, and one day I will miss them deeply.

I am so proud of her (and all my kids).

I will leave you with a picture of the birthday girl from her party last weekend (but yes today she officially turns 10). Which was, hallelujah!, the easiest party I've ever thrown. Evie used my scrapbook software to make her own party invitation all by herself, which we then folded into origami frogs. The theme was a rainforest sleepover. She just had two friends to keep things simple (we had an open house the following day).  We made one trip to the party store. Spent an hour decorating the TV room. We ate diner at the Rainforest Cafe, had a volcano cake for desert, made pressed pennies, fed more pennies to the crocodile, bought our party favors at the gift shop.

Easy Peasy. 

Tonight  we'll probably have our usual family Friday pizza and a movie night (these days it is the only day of the week I can count on Steve being home for dinner.)  
And open presents, which oddly she hasn't even asked about this year.

She thinks it's her birthday, but to me it's the 10 year anniversary of becoming a mommy.
The best day of my life.

Feb 14, 2011

Zoo Trip, V-Day, Poop, Stairs and Stuff.

I wish I could say Valentine's Day was top on my mind but it isn't. Yesterday we had a third successful open house with lots of traffic, but yet no offers. When we put our house up for sale I knew it's issues. Mainly the lack of a third bedroom and bathroom on the upper level. And the basement ceiling height isn't ideal for very tall people. Still I didn't expect those thing to keep our house from selling, especially after reducing our price by $20,000 this week. Over all the feedback has been very positive.  I'm trying to have faith that the right buyer is out there but as the final days count down to our contingency expiring (on 2/25) I am less sure.

Still if it doesn't sell, it isn't the worst thing in the world, I keep telling myself. We do still have a house that we like. It's not like we'll be out on the street. We've finished some unfinished projects that had been driving me crazy, so that makes me happy. The worst part is that we have 3 storage boxes full of stuff that would all have to come back, and that would not be fun. 

The open house yesterday forced us out of our house, and since it was a clear winter day I thought we would head to the zoo, something I haven't done as much as I'd like these past couple years. Steve was, of course, at work. The kids and I had a great time, even though they were not feeling 100% and were tired. I took Ainsley out in her walker for about an hour so our pace was slow. I was so proud of Evie and Adrian for being patient and for how much they love their sister and show it.

Ainsley still isn't quite sure what to think of all the animals. And maybe they weren't sure about us. These miniature panda cattle were quite vocal. It was really fun for Ainsley to hear very loud cow moos. 

She actually really liked walking through the bug house. 

As usual I got tons of pictures, but will just show a few. Surprise, surprise I have just about used up all my free Blogger photo storage. A fun discovery this week.

Evie had fun pushing Ainsley in the stroller for awhile. It sure was cute, Ainsley would tip her head back and look up at Evie. I wish she could talk. I'd have loved to have known what she thought today.

I almost didn't bother to pull Ainsley out of the stroller for this shot, she was so tired, but I'm so glad I did. These moments, while ordinary at the time are so wonderful to look back on.

I was pretty happy with this one. And these taken at the end of the day before we left.

I caught Adrian kissing Ainsley. It was so sweet. I love their relationship. It's special. But he was mad at me for taking a picture, as was Evie, for catching her standing on the monkey. I think I have a picture of her doing that when she was 3. Time flies.

There have been a lot of other things happening over the last week or so.....

First #2. Hooray!

Ainsley spontaneously cleaning up a spill on the floor. Wow that impressed me. It helps that we are hiding our sponge under the sink due to it's "unsightliness" to potential buyers, making it convenient for her to get to. Not so great when, today, she decided to chew on it.  She still loves to play with the cups.

I've been considering CPAP and doing a little experimenting with where we left off prior to her December surgeries, but decided to go easy until life settles down some.

Ainsley has started drawing circular shapes. She's now giving real kisses that you can hear. She is using her voice a lot and trying to talk, though you still can't really understand the words, other than by looking at context and guessing. But it's improvement and I'll take it!

And the biggest news of all. Drumroll please........

She is now brave enough to go down stairs by herself. (Meaning when we aren't watching.)  One bump of the bottom at a time.

If this house doesn't sell fast, we might not need a rambler.

She has trouble with the angled stair, but can do it.

These are the ones that take a bit of courage.
I actually think we will miss the stairs for their PT opportunities but I think the ability for Ainsley to get where she wants safely is a fair trade. Cross your fingers for us.

Oh yeah, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Feb 6, 2011

Thirty One!

Okay, so maybe it's not just the strawberry Pediasure. Ainsley has been eating more over the past months. I think I've posted about this already but to recap: I started pushing oral feeding again in October when she started getting more interested in the tastes we would offer. Since then I've been offering spoonfuls with every feeding, up until she says stop. Most often she eats about 10 bites, sometimes, 20, and at a bad feeding maybe only 2.

Today she upped her personal best record of 25 by 6 and ate 31, count them THIRTY-ONE, bites of my homemade pureed formula (and really it doesn't taste that bad). AND she ate them quickly and eagerly. I can't "force" her to eat because she fatigues and is then at risk to aspirate (get the food down the wrong way into her lungs). Today when offered the Pediasure she only drank about 2 ounces but I'll keep trying it. But it appears that whatever she's eating all this extra effort is finally paying off (dare I jinx things by saying so) and her endurance is increasing. Plus hunger helps, a delayed lunch seems to get results. 

Here she is showing off!

Feb 4, 2011


Blogging is a funny thing. When you've been silent for awhile sometimes it's hard to find the right post worthy of breaking the silence, so to speak. What have we been up to? Things have been busy, as always. Keeping the house spotless and "ready to show" has taken a lot of energy. So far we've had a lot of interest and showings, just no offers. I think our house just needs the right buyer. Our agent is confident and I am trying to be too. Then there is Steve's work schedule. He is going through yet another game deadline so the pressure on me is intense which hasn't left a lot of energy for blogging. It's not that there aren't things worthy posting....I just needed the right thing to get me started again.

So......this is it.....Over the weekend when I had to get out of the house, quick for the open house, I stopped at Safeway to get some Strawberry Pediasure. Ainsley had officially used up our stock of enterral formula from the days before we switched fully to blenderized. Well today after school Adrian was looking in the pantry for a snack and saw the Pediasure. He said he'd seen a commercial for it (when, where?) and wanted to try it. Really?! So I said he could since I happened to have half a bottle open in the frig. He and Evie both tasted a sip and thought it was pretty good. Then I gave the rest to Ainsley in a sippy cup while I was making her blenderized food. She'd had it room temperature before and wasn't as impressed, but then she likes stuff cold. Maybe it also helped that she was good and hungry thanks to my extra busy day. (Do ya think?)

Damn Dang if she didn't drink the whole thing with no problem.

All 4 ounces. SEE?!!!! Just in case you don't believe me, there is the empty cup.

And she wanted MORE! 

I guess in taste tests kids prefer the taste of
                                   this.              Compared to.................this.

In case I'm confused, this is where she wants it. 
Her new way of telling us she wants to eat. And she WANTS to.

I always said if she would eat, I would let her eat ANYTHING. Now she's putting me to the test, asking for Pediasure instead of my nutritious home made blenderized food. Wahhh!
Not really.
It's awesome and I'm already searching to buy it on-line by the case.