Monday, July 29, 2013

Date Night - Much needed Sanity

Brian and I try to get a babysitter and go out alone every couple of weeks. We need to do it for our sanity. You need "alone" time with your spouse when you have kids - you HAVE to make that happen. I am not someone who thinks your children always come first. Wait, let me explain - Yes, they are obviously very important and they always come first - however you can not put your marriage on hold or have it not exist while you raise your kids. You won't have a marriage pretty soon if you do that. You must make time for you and your spouse, no matter how you do it.

We don't have a whole lot of extra help, so we make due with what we have. If I had my way, I would plan a date night every weekend, but we just can't do it. We have a really trustworthy & reliable babysitter (that comes to our house) and we use often - thank goodness for Jill! Most times, we go out for a nice dinner and a glass of wine, and just relax, talk, laugh and enjoy the time without children.

This past week, we asked Jill to come on a Thursday night. We took the boat out and anchored in a small cove... we had some appetizers and a glass of wine, listened to nice music and relaxed while watching the sun set ... and watched day turn to night & watched the stars come out. (Not too many stars that night as it was kind of cloudy, but it was still nice!). It was a cool night (maybe 60 degrees on the water) and once the sun went down, we were one of the only boats out there.... we had a blanket with us and we snuggled under there to get warm.

Sunset as we were heading up past Racoon Island. 

Our romantic dinner... 

So beautiful & peaceful to look at while being the only ones out on Lake Hopatcong. 
You'd never know there was a house every 40 to 60 feet along the shoreline of the entire lake from these pictures; and the lake is 9 miles long with many little coves, islands & bridges. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

You can't forget about the fun stuff

...But first, a potty training update...

I will be the first to admit, I didn't expect Julianna to do so well potty training. I wasn't 100% sure that she would really take to it even though we talked about it for a few weeks leading up to this past week. Actually by Tuesday morning, I was ready to give up. Julianna was fighting me over going to the potty and I was ready to put her back in diapers. Then it clicked for her. I called my girlfriend to bitch about my 'almost failed' potty training... and as I was having my own personal meltdown. As that was going on, Julianna went in the bathroom and went potty on her own and announced it to me! She was SO proud of herself and wanted her sticker and 5 coins - of course I obliged right away! That was it... she hasn't had an accident since last Tuesday morning! The key with her is to not bother her about going {control freak!} - she tells us when she needs to go pee and she does it on her own. She was indeed ready thank goodness!

I ventured out of the house on Thursday and put a pull-up on over her underwear 'just in case' - and she was dry when we got home! I got that idea from my bloggy friend Kim at Granthamania (THANK YOU!!!!)
Then after that, I worked on getting her to go on the potty while we were out - she went at BabiesRus because I bought THESE for her and she loved the idea of having a special seat. After that, we went out Friday night, Saturday and Sunday - she told us that she had to go potty and we would bring her to go. She even now goes on the small potty on the boat! HOORAY!!
She had some false  alarms where she froze up and couldn't do it, but then we would try again later and she went! She loves the seat covers (thank goodness because as you know I am super germ-phobe mama!).

We promised her a scooter when she was potty trained - so we took her to ToysRUs Saturday to pick out her own scooter. She picked out this one and LOVES it! She is so proud of herself!
Did I mention we did all this training with a 9 week old here too?! LOL! I am a glutton for torture!

All this talk lately of heart surgery, potty training hell, support groups, and mommy losing her mind... I thought "now" was a good time to put some pictures out there of fun times. We spend a lot of time out on our boat ... so it would only seem normal if all my summer pictures are from there too!

Our Marina 

Daddy & Julianna 


Relaxing day. 
Anchored... eat lunch... feed Tyler... swim...all comfortable under the shade. 

Julianna loves swimming 

Mama loves relaxing. 


Captain Mommy. 

Now for some Iphone pics 

Leisurely evening cruise

Captain Daddy.

My baby boy Tyler! 

Julianna and Tyler 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Potty Training Boot camp

And here we go ...

Potty training has officially {FINALLY} entered the building. High Five! 
Today, Monday, is the day we started potty training cold turkey. Julianna is 3 years and almost 2 months old. We've been talking to her about potty training for a {long} time now. We had her watch the Potty Power DVD, sit on her special potty, told her she could get a sticker or coins when she went peepee (we aren't doing food for bribery & she loves stickers & money haha!), told her only babies wear diapers, told her she is a big girl if she goes on the potty.... tried everything and she still refused to do it.
BUT ... all of this failed... until NOW.

Brian and I talked to Julianna about starting peeing on the potty last week because her daycare provider was going to be on vacation this week, and she's home with me & Tyler all week. So we figured this would be the perfect week to do it! She actually agreed to go along with it - and we've been talking it up for days now. This morning was the time to start.

You know toddlers; everything has to be ON THEIR TERMS. I never truly understood this until I had a 2 year old. You can't force a 2 (or 3) year old to do anything they don't want to do, especially potty training. Brian and I agreed we would not force Julianna to potty train and traumatize her. We also agreed we would not use pull ups... we were choosing to go right to underpants. If she were younger then we might choose the 'pull-up' route. But she is perfectly capable physically of using underpants & going on the potty on her own. She is stuck on the 'mental' aspect of this whole thing. We always said that she would go when she was ready. And she's ready now - she told us she is.

I am keeping a journal all day today for fun ... we'll see how this goes. I'm doing this on my iPhone to make it easier.

Our progress so far: I put Julianna in 'underpants' (that's what she calls them, so we're going with that term!) after she got up this morning. I had her sit on the potty 4x so far. She told me 3x she did not have to go & didn't. She's also refusing to go sit on it if she feels she doesn't have to go. HELLO CAN YOU SAY CONTROL!??! Seems like she's having an issue letting herself go peepee on the potty. That has to be a hard line to cross mentally when you're so used to going in a diaper!

Then, she was sitting on the floor playing and I noticed her shorts were wet. She went & didn't tell me. Accident #1 of many more to come (I guess it doesn't bother her enough yet to tell me and she was ok with sitting in her wetness- grrrr). I calmly changed her, and told her it was OK and not a big deal... and I sat her on the potty right on the potty after that and .... BINGO! She finally went pee pee on the potty! She was SO PROUD of herself and once she was done, gave me a big hug and picked out a nice sticker to put on her potty chart on the wall in the bathroom.

I had her sit on the potty again - and still nothing. I feel like she's holding it. It might take some time to get over that fear of going on the toilet. I can see I'm going to be trapped in my house with her trying to pee for the rest of my life.

Did I mention I'm taking care of a 9 week old during all of this too?! Ha! Can you say "multi-tasking". I was sitting on side of the tub feeding Tyler & burping him earlier when Julianna was sitting on the potty! Thank goodness he's on a good eating/sleeping schedule so I don't have to worry about him too much today while I go full-on potty power with the girl!

Tried to squeeze in a shower. NEED MORE COFFEE. This is stressful.

Time to feed Tyler. Julianna is now refusing to go on the potty or go near it & she's whining and crying for no reason. I think the 'fun' of it all has gone out the window. Well guess what little girl, it's gone out the window for me too. The beast is coming out. She's screaming & crying she doesn't want to go on the potty and to put a diaper on her. Kill me now. I'm trying to stay calm. I am trying everything to get her to go sit on it... even bribery... no go. Time to break out the potty power DVD I think.
The good news is she's still dry. The bad news is she hasn't peed in over 2 hours. I feel a big accident coming soon, probably just as I'm feeding Tyler. Oh well. She can sit in it & just be wet, I'm ready to give up already. She can go to her senior prom in diapers for all I care.

She went pee pee in her shorts as I thought she would. And she could care less. I feel a horrible FAIL coming on for today. My emotions are so up & down about this! Still need to feed poor Tyler.

Success! She sat on the potty after her 2nd accident and went pee pee! She yelled "I did it!" - I gave her a high five, a big hug, a sticker for her chart and 5 coins ( did I mention she loves money!)
She was very proud of herself again! We called daddy at work to tell him the good news, she loved that part! The only bad thing is she peed onto her special pottery barn chair... So I had to take off the cover & wash it. And since I was rushing & didn't follow instructions, I ruined the embroidery. Big time Bummer! Maybe this potty training thing will work out. I have to go buy more underpants for her pronto! 

Still hasn't gone yet and refusing to sit on potty again. Need more coffee. 

MAJOR Meltdown because I asked her to try & go pee pee. No go. Nap is needed clearly. I put a waterproof pad on her bed for her nap since she now doesn't want a diaper for nap. Totally playing with fire no doubt. 

Still no nap and I had to beg for 20 minutes but she finally went pee pee on the potty! Success again ... Sort of. She gets so excited when she goes that I have to assume she will want to do this on her own at some point so I don't have to spend the next 5 months begging and bribing. 

Both kids are napping. Praise the good Lord. Let's just hope Julianna doesn't pee all over herself & baby giraffe (her favorite stuffed animal!) before she can get to the potty after she wakes from her nap. I did get to spend some quality time playing with Tyler after Julianna fell asleep! Look at that smile - I love this boy! 

I wasn't able to write much more the rest of tonight because it got pretty busy with both kids, my girlfriend stopping by to visit, dinner and my husband getting home from work.
Julianna had another accident but ended up going pee pee on the potty 3 more times and went poop one of those times. (I'm sure you are just jumping for joy at poop & pee talk but that's my miserable little life now).

Overall I think the first day of potty training effort was a success, however Julianna fought me every time I asked her if she had to go. I know other parents have said they happily take their toddler to the potty every 30 minutes to prevent accidents, but that's just not happening here. She is not happily going anywhere. She is too resistant and I have to beg her to go near the potty. I am praying this changes or I might run from home away screaming soon. I do however think she is ready because she gets so excited when she does finally go, but I think it's a "control" struggle for her (or so I've read) to fight me on this stuff.
I'm exhausted now and really can't think about doing this again tomorrow and the day after that..... and so on. I feel like I'm going to be trapped in the house for a long time until this takes effect, and I don't do well sitting in the house. I'm just not "that" mom that can sit home all day and play happy games and build crafty fun things out of sticks, glue and paper towel rolls. I wish I could be. Forgive me; it's late and I'm in a hormonal mood & being brutally honest. Let's hope day 2 goes better.

For anyone interested,
Here is the potty seat we are using for the toilet;

We decided to use a seat that fits on the toilet and not a separate potty that she sits on. We only have one bathroom in our house and this is the way we needed to do it... and it's way less clean up for mommy & daddy too. Not to mention since she's older, we felt she was able to handle climbing up on a stool and sitting on the potty seat.

Here's Julianna's special nap area for today only since she peed on her chair and I told her she could lay on the cushions until the cover was washed ... 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sometimes you just need a little support

Brian and I have had some discussions about Tyler's health and the unknown future he has ahead of him. We both have concerns over what future surgeries he may need, what long term issues he may have from his open heart surgery, and the many unknowns of what could go wrong unexpectedly due to his heart defect, even though it was fixed.

We have some fears to say the least & have felt very alone since it's hard to talk to others about this, as they may not understand. We felt like we needed to talk to other parents that were going through the same thing that we were. I talked to the social worker at the children's hospital that we bring Tyler to for his cardiologist appointments, and she suggested we attend the monthly support group at the hospital for parents of children with CHD (Congenital Heart Defect).

Tonight was the first night we went to the group meeting at the hospital. What a breathe of fresh air it was! As each person introduced themselves to us and told their stories, we realized each and every one of them had such a unique story about their child's Congenital Heart Defect, but yet it was so similar to ours in the sense that our lives have all changed forever. We finally met a group of parents who we could relate to and who were going through the same emotions we were feeling.

I am staying up late to write this so I don't lose my thoughts (which happens too easily lately with brain overload!).

Tonight, I heard something in our support group that really hit home with Brian and I.
When you have a child with a congenital heart defect, you need to eventually mourn the loss of your "healthy" child. It's something I never really thought about ever. EVER. Yes, Tyler has a congenital heart defect, and we've come to accept it (sort of) and everything else that we may run into in the future. But at some point, we need to actually "mourn" the loss of our healthy baby. It makes total sense. Every parent prays to God for their baby to be healthy of course. But it doesn't always work out that way. Life sometimes throws you for a loop and God has other plans for you.
Julianna was healthy (with the exception of her pneumothorax when she was born- but she was out of the NICU in 6 days and perfectly healthy since then). She has been a very healthy & "normal" child, so I never thought for a minute that it was possible to have an unhealthy baby since she was so perfect. Once Tyler was discharged from the hospital, and we were home, Brian and I both thought "Wow, we are home free - we have a healthy baby!".
As you know, he was home for 4 days, and then all hell broke loose. You can read about it HERE if you missed it.

This "Parents of CHD children" support group meets monthly - and there is no doubt we will be regular attendees. I felt so comfortable and "normal" with these people already. We all have a very special connection and sadly we can all relate to each other in a way that no friend or family member can.

Brian and I were the newcomers to this group, but I felt very welcome and at home with them. I can see us getting close with all of the parents as we hear more and more about their children's heart surgeries, issues and lives in general. Brian and I look forward to future meetings, they will no doubt be very helpful in helping us "mourn" the loss of our healthy child... and allow us to feel much better about his future.

My beautiful Tyler. 

Gummy smiles! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

How's Tyler doing now? {Heart update}

Tyler is 6 (almost 7) weeks old!

Despite Tyler's heart surgery and being in the hospital for 6 days, he has managed to hit all his milestones. (In case you missed it, HERE is my post about his open heart surgery!)

These are some of his '6 week' milestones

He was 9'13 lbs and 21 inches long when we went to the doctor this past Thursday. His birth weight was 6'15 (19.5 inches long), so he has been growing like a champ.

He is taking about 4 oz of formula every 3 hours. At night, his 'bedtime' is 9pm. We feed him at 9... wake him at 10:30 for a dreamfeed... then we let him sleep until he wakes up or we get him up at 6am to eat... then back to bed until 9am which is what I like to call his morning wake up time officially. Julianna slept through the night by 7 weeks (11-6), and he's following in her footsteps.

In the last week, Tyler is really alert & paying attention to everything around him. He is batting at toys and really reaching out for things with his hands. He also gave us a smile a few times! He is on a very predictable schedule (very good for us too!). I'm still trying to get his naps right during the day. He is a light sleeper for some naps and he has a hard time napping in his crib sometimes for whatever reason. I know this will straighten itself out, but for now, it's a lot of work for me. Thank goodness he sleeps better at night! He also naps well if we are out doing things... just not napping well at home. ha!

Julianna is interacting with Tyler much more in the last week. She likes to give him his binky and  'check' on him to make sure he's ok. She is slowly warming up to him now that she knows he's not going anywhere. She includes him when she's talking about "us" as a family - which is very cute to hear her talk about him.

Tyler's Health update
So originally the plan was to not go back to the cardiologist until December. That changed almost immediately.

Here's what we've been through since he was discharged from the hospital 4 weeks ago...

  • Initial cardiologist follow up appointment (3 hours because they do an echocardiogram each time & EKG, checkup, etc...) 
  • Initial pediatrician follow up appointment & 2 week checkup (he gained weight- they were very happy!) 
  • His arms & legs started quivering when he got hungry, excited, etc... I called the pediatrician, who then had me bring him in. Every little thing makes you worry when you have a child that has been through such major surgery & has a congenital heart defect. 
  • The pediatrician ordered bloodwork & sent me to see the neurologist (immediately) later that afternoon. 
  • The neurologist did some basic tests & said the same thing the pediatrician did - The random tremors were just a normal 'baby' thing they called baby quivers. It was not seizures or brain related issues from the surgery. They explained that if you are on bypass, you can have brain related issues (seizures,etc) apparently. However, to be 100% certain, the neurologist ordered more bloodwork in addition to what the pediatrician asked for. 
  • I then drove from the neuro's office directly to the hospital where Tyler was born to get the bloodwork done (the children's hospital is there - and so is his cardiologist) - They wanted him to go to the hospital because they needed the results ASAP... and it was a better equipped facility than a "blood lab" to get this done. It took an hour of pure torture to get the blood from Tyler because his veins were thin from surgery still. The ped, neuro and bloodwork were all in the same day. Poor kid. It was a LONG day for both of us. 
  • The bloodwork came back fine ... but the cardiologist called me to say she wanted to see Tyler for a follow up to make sure nothing else was going on. 
  • The day that I brought Tyler for his follow up with the cardiologist, he had blotchy skin and was kind of lethagic with his eating. Panic set in with me. Of course right away I think "Heart issue!" because every silly symptom now makes me paranoid. But the doctor said to never feel like I'm just being crazy thinking something is wrong - they all said make sure you call us even if you think it's nothing. Better to be safe than sorry. Hell yes.  
  • Another 3 hour appointment at the cardiologist. She noticed he had an "extra heart beat" or rapid beat every so often during the EKG and Echocardiogram. She was concerned so she sent him home with an EKG halter to wear for 24 hours. 
  • We returned to cardiologist the next day to have them remove the EKG leads, and read it on the computer. The cardiologist ordered more bloodwork (extra heartbeat can be caused by many things & they like to rule out everything else first). She called me that night saying the results came back OK except he is slightly anemic. Once they read the EKG, it also showed he had this 'extra' beat about 2% of the time... very typical for a baby who has had heart surgery like this. She said we need to watch it and he may need medication later on but she would consult with the other doctors there and let me know. 
  • Because of the anemia, I had to then follow up with the pediatrician a few days later. She said the low anemia is most likely something called "Nader" that all babies go through - they all get anemic at this point in their lives. The cardiologist thought the same thing but wanted to send me to the pediatrician to confirm that's all it was. 
  • The pediatrician ordered MORE bloodwork again. Poor Tyler. He just HATES getting his blood drawn. Who doesn't. 
  • This time it came back with some low levels of something (I can't recall the name) that showed he might be fighting off an infection or virus of some kind. She called me the next day and said I need to go to the ER to get his levels taken again because if it was lower, they would need to admit him because he would be too weak to fight off anything. REALLY??? Come on. Enough already. 
  • Tyler did not have a fever, so it was most likely not an infection... but we had to be 100% sure. At this point, I am SOOO sick of hospitals, doctors offices, copays & bloodwork. ARRGGHH!!!!! I know it's for his own good, and would never blow it off, but it's frustrating to say the least. With that said, his docs have all done a phenomenal job of following every symptom and making sure everything is looked at- you can't afford to overlook one thing with his condition.
  • So... off we went to the ER. Brian met me there since Julianna was home with me - no way could I deal with her in the ER and Tyler alone. The did an echo & EKG there... & more bloodwork. Our cardiologist was not on call, but someone else that works with her looked at Tyler for us. She said Tyler had to be put on "Digoxin" starting now - for his 'extra' rapid heartbeat - I think it's called Chronic Atrial Fibrillation.
  • Tyler was released from the ER without any issue other than the fact he has now started the Digoxin to help regulate his rapid heart beat. They are confident he will be off of it within a year... it's something that he will grow out of (caused from the surgery- it's a very typical side effect) 
  • He has another follow up appointment with the cardiologist this coming up Monday (today) to get an EKG and make sure all is OK after being on the medication all weekend. He seems kind of irratible when I'm feeding him and he has spit up pretty bad a few times since being on this medication - those are some of the side effects, so I'll need to talk to the cardiologist about this when I go there. Then there will be another 2 week follow up with the her after that.... and so on and so on... to be continued... 

It would be REALLY nice to go a week without a doctor or hospital visit and/or bloodwork.  
These visits are mentally & physically draining between the driving, the time, the planning for both kids, the copays & the uncertainty every time I go and find out something new is wrong, and being shipped off to another doctor right away. I haven't once asked "Why us?" or "Why Tyler" during this whole ordeal - you can't think that way and you certainly can never plan for something like this in your entire life. However, I just want everything to settle down & be normal. I want Tyler to be a happy normal baby. 

Having a child that has been through what he's been through already in his life; you worry even more so about his every day health. Even with a 'regular' baby, we all tend to 'over worry' as parents. It's just normal. Try having a baby that has congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery... you worry about every breath, every time his skin gets blotchy, his physical & mental development, his future quality of life, the unexpected, and the list goes on.... and on...
I sometimes watch him breathe, and start making myself nuts thinking "Is he breathing too fast? Is his skin turning blue?"... your mind plays bad tricks on you... and then you snap out of it & realize he is just fine.

Here are some pictures I took of Tyler couple weeks ago - 
Hint... they are going on his birth announcement, which I already ordered & stuffed them in the envelopes... but they've been sitting on a table for about a week now! I have to find the time to address them... *SIGH* !! 


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