Search This Blog

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Results Are In....

My "HemAware Wednesday" update is late. (But what's new, right?) I decided to copy & paste this particular link (in addition to adding the link) because I realize that not everyone will be comfortable clicking on a "random link." We found out the good news about Diamond Tiara on 9/21/10. (It was about 9:20am when I found out.) My genetics counselor is the BEST. I wished that I could reach through the phone and hug her when she told me the news.

P.S. John and I haven't officially decided on a first name for Diamond Tiara, but we've selected a middle name. John gave me the go ahead to share our baby girl's nick & middle name.....

Noelle - "Noie"

Pretty, no? Anyhoo, enjoy the post!

I was in a meeting when it happened. I peeked at my cell phone vibrating in my pocket and recognized the number immediately. My genetics counselor was calling, and I knew the results of my amnio had finally come in. I hurriedly stepped out of my meeting to answer the call, hoping I would pick up before my voicemail did. My heart was pounding. The results would define my birth plan, alter my daughter’s destiny and possibly change the lives of our entire family.

The first few seconds of the call were a blur. My genetics counselor went over the clinical data and the mutations the laboratory searched for. I felt the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I’m usually very savvy when it comes to medical speak, but my brain was struggling to decipher what my ears were hearing. Then, she said it…

“Your daughter only carries one copy of the factor VII deficiency gene—your copy. She does not have factor VII deficiency. She’ll be just like you—a carrier.”

I’m going to remember that conversation—that moment—for the rest of my life. I felt an instant wave of relief wash over me. A huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. My baby girl is a carrier, not a severe! She’s going to be OK. No NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] stay, no CVAD [central vascular access device] surgeries, no infusions, no needles and no cesarean delivery for me!

My heart was singing! I was so overcome by the sheer joy of the news that I started to cry right there on the phone. My genetics counselor was equally happy for me, and I must have thanked her about a million times. I honestly believe that this amniocentesis wouldn’t have happened had she not gone to bat for us. It’s not very often (almost never) that our insurance carrier agrees to pay for genetics testing to be done overseas. I felt so lucky to be assigned as her patient, and I will always be grateful for her help.

I called John immediately after I got off the phone with the counselor. I was still crying because I was so ecstatic. I heard John breathe an audible sigh of relief when I shared the news. We’re not symptomatic carriers, so our daughter will be able to lead a normal life. As long as she does not have children with another carrier, she will never pass factor VII deficiency down to her children. John and I joke that we were destined to be with one another because we both carry incomplete forms of a very rare gene. I’m hoping our youngest girl won’t be so “lucky” when she gets older.

I tried my best to make light of the situation, but truth be told, I was terrified of “hitting three in a row.” For the last few weeks I’ve felt like my body was bracing for a storm as I waited for the results to come in. John and I were mentally preparing to raise two little girls with a severe bleeding disorder. I was already calculating my Family and Medical Leave Act hours to include maternity leave and a possible NICU stay for the baby. I was worried about my job, our finances and my ability to be up to par to raise two bleeders. John tried to think of creative solutions for our worrisome scenarios.

Aside from preparing for the worst, we also romanticized the idea of having two bleeders in the house. If two girl bleeders were in our future, making light of the situation normalized it for us. Nothing would be new with this baby—she would have the same NICU staff, surgeon and hematologist as Niki. We wouldn’t need to have all the training we did when Niki was born, because we have turned into veteran HemoParents.

My fantasies not only included two little girls to put pigtails and cute dresses on, but two little girls to order supplies for. I thought about color coding their factor vials and supply drawers in pink and purple to keep things fun and organized. I imagined how amazing it would be to watch Niki help take care of her little sister. And even though it wouldn’t happen anytime soon, I daydreamed about how awesome it would be to watch them console one another if they both had horrendous periods to deal with. But none of that was going to happen because this baby is a carrier.

Our euphoria calmed down as John and I talked about how the good news was also bittersweet. After all, this meant that Niki would be growing up with her bleeding disorder … alone. Now Niki’s only direct connection with factor VII deficiency is buried deep in the ground. We’ve always feared that Ethan’s death would place a stigma on Niki’s perception of her factor VII deficiency. It could go either way. Niki could feel utterly alone and resent her disorder, or feel blessed because she would not be alive today if it weren’t for her brother. We will try hard to raise Niki so the latter is the case, but again, only time will tell.

Nevertheless, John and I are absolutely relieved that our youngest daughter and final addition to our family is a carrier. We have two “normals,” two “deficients” and now, finally, a “carrier.” We’ve got the best of everything, and we feel truly blessed.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Alyssa's Tropical Luau...

On September 11th my MIL informed me via text that my SIL Alyssa's 13th birthday party was moved up to September 18th! The party was originally supposed to be on 9/25/10, but unfortunately, no one would be able to attend if the party was held that day. So, that meant I needed to kick my ass into high gear to put the party togther in less than one week!!! I searched high and low for luau decor on 9/12/10 with no such luck -- all I found were some hibiscus swizzle sticks, a plain sign, and some tropical flowers.

That meant that I had to make EVERYTHING from scratch!!!!

Unfortunately, Niki and I took turns being sick during that one week time period. I had a terrible case of vertigo on 9/17/10 (the day before the party) and I was out of comission all day. By some miracle I was able to pull the party decor together. I like to think is somewhat resembles a luau being that I dabbled some of my SIL's old hula accessories here and there. Or, perhaps I'm just telling myself that to make me feel better. This party definitely was NOT up-to-par with my usual standards, but the important part was my SIL had a blast. I even got to indulge in baking & "rescuing me" in the process. :)

I handpainted the colors on this sign...
 Sea Glass
 Hand-glued each and every seashell...
 The Pineapple Jumphouse...
Tropical Flowers...
It works, right???
"Tropical" Treats...
 "Seashells in the Sand" ;-)
 Tres Leches Mini-Cakes...
The Luau Feast...
Boo Enjoying the Pineapple Jumper..
 More Jumpers...
 Niki looked like she wanted to go inside...
She didn't like it very much...
 And was much happier outside...
 The Cutest Cake Ever! (Made by A.S.)
 My SILs...
 Happy Birthday Alyssa!!!!! :)

Back 2 School Night and a Fight!

My SIL KC had an interesting story to share when I came home from work on Wednesday, 9/15. KC's best friend's little brother (did you get that?) in in the same class as Kevin. Apparently, her best friend's mom saw Kevin get socked in the nose during the morning line-up, and Kevin did nothing. He started to tear, but he didn't tell the teacher. KC's best friends mom was concerned.  The Mom immediately called KC so she could tell me about it when I got home. Needless to say, I was pissed off.

Kevin has had trouble with this boy "G" before. When they were in Kindergarten, G tried to kiss him. Kevin responded by grabbing a Lego box lid and tried to hit him with it. (They both got in trouble for the incident.) Kev and G went to childcare together, but they didn't have the same class. This is the first year that Kevin has a class with G.

When I asked Kev why he didn't fight back, he said that he didn't want to "get in trouble".  So, I explained the difference between self-defense and being a bully. Even though this may have been a poor parenting decision on my part, I told Kev that IF he were to get in trouble at school for fighting back, he would NOT get in trouble with me. I shared some stories with him about my past experiences with elementary school bullies and "mean girls" from junior high. And, I summed it up by saying, "If you don't fight back, people are going to always mess with you. So, stick up for yourself. You are a lion, and lions defend their pride. "

If you know Kevin in real life, then you'll understand that he simply is NOT "bully material." With that being said, our conversation shouldn't have a negative effect on his citizenship at school. The KID is all dimples and smiles! The fact of the matter is, I just want him to be strong. I don't want him to be like I was... He needs to be able to stick up for himself when people mess with him. I didn't realize that our pep talk would kick in so soon...

When I came home from work the next day (9/16/10) Kevin told me that he was sent to the Principal's office for fighting. Apparently, G started to hit him again so Kevin fought back. They got into a tussle and Kev bit G. I stayed true to my word and didn't get mad. I told him that I was proud that he stuck up for himself, but that he shouldn't bite. And that was that. Kevin didn't get detention or even a note sent home about the incident. I thought it was odd that the Principal and Ms. H didn't call me or John to let us know about the fight, but Thursday 9/16 also so happened Kevie & Boo's Back 2 School/Open House Night. So, I figured I'd speak to her about it then.

I'll come back to that later...

Let me start off by saying that I'm absolute LOVE with both of their teachers. Boo was lucky enough to get Mrs. C (Kevie's teacher in Kinder & my old friend from high school) and Kevie was assigned to Ms. H. I know Mrs. C very well, but I never had the opportunity to really meet Ms. H because John drops the boys off to school in the morning. Mrs. Crabby (from last year) was awful (she yelled at the kids), and I was afraid that Kev would have another mean teacher this year. I discovered very quickly that Ms. H was wonderful teacher -- I witnessed an old student of hers come into the room just to give her a hug. :)

Our visit to Mrs. C's class revealed some very interesting information about Boo. Evidently, Anthony can read just as well as Kevin can. Mrs. C made a comment about how he was one of the few kids in class that could read the daily schedule! When we read together, Boo quietly listens to the story. He tends to stay quiet when I ask him to sound out words, too. He's more of a spectator than participator so I suppose it was easy for him to hide his secret. We never pressure the kids to do anything they don't want to. When I asked Boo why he never told me that he could read, he responded with a huge grin, a shrug and said, "I was nervous!"

Now back to Ms. H...

We witnessed the "hug-fest" shortly after John and I walked in the class. Afterward, Ms. H approached us immediately and asked to take a family picture. Kev scampered off with Boo to show him around the classroom while John and I spoke with Ms. H. She went over the new language book and marveled at how well Kevin could read. She also praised him for his math skills and genuine interest in art. Mrs. H told us that Kevin draws comics for her and leaves them on her desk so she could read them at lunch. She also mentioned how protective he was when saw Kev introduce Boo to his friends. Sweet kid, huh?

When I mentioned the fight, Ms. H shook her head and acknowledged that G admitted that he had been bothering Kevin for the last few weeks. So, the fight wasn't Kevin's fault. That's why she didn't call us to let us know about it. Mrs. H said she moved Kevin and also agreed to keep an eye out for the older kids during recess. She stooped down to eye-level with Kevin and asked him to let her know if any of the older kids were messing with him. She reminded Kev that if she didn't know about the issue, then she wouldn't be able to help him. All in all, I felt pretty good about Ms. H and her action plan. She's a wonderful teacher and we feel so blessed that Kevin was assigned to her class. :)

Here are a few pics from Back 2 School Night. Enjoy!

Boo's Self-Portrait. So super cute, huh?!
Boo's Yellow School Bus
 Kevin has excellent reading comprehension!
 Kevie's Art Peice...
 Kevin's Timeline...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday Links...

It's HemAware Wednesday, bloggy-friends. Here's a link to my latest post. It's a "grief post" so be forewarned if you're not in the mood to enter the inner depths of my grief cycle. I grin and smile, but I STILL miss Ethan. He's my baby. A mother can NEVER get over losing her child. Never.

Also, I have another link that I'd like to share with you. I didn't even know Jolene Philo posted this blog entry until NHF tweeted about it today. This is just one of the things we talked about during my interview. I can't wait to read the book when it's released this spring! In the meantime, enjoy and take a look around the website. Jolene is a wealth of knowledge and has TONS of resources for parents raising children with special needs. What an amazing woman she is. :)


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Niki's Update (And a mini London update!)

**In case you haven't heard, I found out about Diamond Tiara's FVII-def status this morning. She's a carrier which means she is just like John and I. We. Are. Thrilled!!!!!!! Post coming soon.***

You may or may not have noticed that Niki was not included in my "Long Sip" post. Unfortunately Niki's September updates have been far too many. Niki has had so much going on this month that she needed her own dang blog entry! All was quiet since her port surgery, but we were suddenly hit with a huge surge of  medical stuff in the last few weeks.

But, before I go into all of that, onto the regular toddler stuff...

Niki had her first haircut on 9/4/10.  I somehow allowed John to convince me that Niki need a trim. Maybe it was my silly ol' pregnancy brain, but I also let him convince me that the lady that cuts his hair was the "man" for the job! Well my friends, I was wrong.We should have just left Niki's precious locks alone.

I had a bad feeling when we got to the salon, but John said the lady was good (or in his words, "She's the shit.")  and I foolishly trusted his judgment. I know better now. He's a GUY! What the hell does he know about little girls and their hair?! Anyway, I  told the lady that I only wanted to just give Niki's bangs a trim (Niki already has a natural side-swept look), but the lady convinced me that china-doll bangs were "better for a little girl." I reluctantly agreed as John proudly held Niki in his lap.

I wanted to drop the camera and strangle that lady after she made the first snip! She cut Niki's bangs soooooo short! Alas, it was too late, she already started and John is her regular customer. I couldn't get mad at her. I continued to snap pictures, but boy, was I unhappy! John was still proudly grinning and Niki was contently sucking on her lollipop. This meant that I had to resist every temptation to snatch Niki out of that chair and spoil everyone's fun.

The haircut was over in less than 15 minutes, and I was so utterly disappointed with the finished product. As soon John finished paying and we stepped outside, I vowed to NEVER let anyone else touch Niki's hair again. Especially that woman! Niki's bangs needed a trim (they were getting stuck to her nose) but I should have done it myself!  I hate, hate, hate her bangs.

A baby's first haircut is a huge deal. Niki is our first daughter which means she's kind of like our "guniea pig child." (Just like Kevie was.) I feel like we seriously messed up with deciding to cut her hair so soon. If there is a silver lining to this whole story, I guess it's the fact that I'll know better when it's time for Diamond to have her first haircut. Poor Niki though, she looks EXACTLY like I did when I was her age. Blessing or curse? You decide.

Now that I look back on's just hair. But at the time it, was the only thing I had to fret over. All was well in "bleeding disorder land" so why NOT obsess of regular stuff for a change? I'm still new to this whole mother-daughter thing, aren't I? But alas, our worry-free days were short lived. Things started go awry when Niki developed what looked like a bug bite on her left butt cheek.

She had similar bites (about 2 or 3) a few weeks before and the bites disappeared after I put some cortisone on it. When a single bite resurfaced Memorial Day weekend (9/4/10), I wasn't super concerned. It was normal looking on Saturday, but by Sunday morning it was slightly swollen. The bite wasn't tender to touch or pus-filled (actually it had a scab on top), but I was still very concerned about it getting infected. Niki wasn't bothered by it at all, but it was still unnerving for me. The bite area was about the size of a dime. Any nasty bacteria brewing at the bite site could go straight to Niki's port if she were ever to develop an infection there.

I figured it would be best to bring her in to Pediatric Urgent Care clinic for an evaluation first thing in the morning.

On Sunday, 9/5/10, Niki and I set off for her 10:45am appointment in San Francisco. On the way there she puked in the car (I think she's inherited motion sickness from me), and whined incessantly until I pulled over and changed her. (The girl does NOT like to be dirty.) We made it on time to the appointment by some miracle, but we still ended up waiting close to one hour to be seen. The Pediatrician was cool so I didn't mind the wait. Niki was having a blast playing with all of the toys anyway.

Once we got into the exam room, the doctor examined Niki's bite and decided to contact the on-call Hematologist for advice. Luckily, they on-call Hematologist turned out to be Dr. Awesome. As always, Dr. Awesome came up with an excellent good game plan.

The Pediatrician swabbed Niki's bug bite and sent the sample to the lab. They wanted to run a culture to see if and what bacteria would grow. Dr. Awesome and the Pediatrician decided to start Niki on a broad range antibiotic (Cephalexin) mainly to protect her port and ensure that the bite didn't get worse. Niki's been on the pink stuff before so it was no biggie. The doctor thought Niki simply had the beginning of what could have been a mildly infected bug bite or perhaps a localized cellulitis. We were sent home with  over-the-counter double antibiotic ointment and a bottle of the pink stuff.

All was well with the world again so off to Hercules we went!

The next morning (Monday 9/6/10), Niki's diaper had a quarter-sized spot of blood in it. It looked like she scratched the scab off over night. I took some pictures to monitor the bite and amount of blood so we could have a way to compare any worsening or improvement of the bite. John and I do this for all bleeds because a picture speaks a thousand words. We're documentation aficionados, I guess. ;-)

Despite the bloody morning diaper, Niki STILL wasn't bothered by the bite. It wasn't tender to touch, there was still no pus, and she didn't have a fever. I actually believed that the bite was getting better.

Labor day weekend came and went. We continued to give Niki Cephalexin and put OTC ointment on the bite. By Tuesday, there was still no word on the results of the culture. Keep in mind that culture results don't usually take that long. I figured that if there was something wrong, SURELY they would have called right away. The swab was done on 9/5 and it was 9/8! When I came home from work that day, Niki had a slight nose bleed, but the bite was looking much better.

We take pictures of everything around here.

Light pressure and cool compresses helped with the nose bleed, and everything was copacetic until 11:30pm anyway.

I checked my e-mail after Niki fell asleep and saw that a message was sent to me at 9am that morning.  The hospital's online system automatically sends notification to members when test results come in. Now, keep in mind that standard protocol is to call a patient IMMEDIATELY if a test comes back positive.  Especially for someone like Niki with her port and all. So, when I saw the e-mail, I still didn't think anything was wrong. Cause someone would have called me right? A full clinic day had passed and no one called me. My jaw hit the ground when I opened up the growth report....

Niki's culture grew MRSA!!!!

MRSA, ya'll! What ever happened to catching normal things like the flu? First she caught Serratia and now MRSA. What's next? The bubonic plague?! All of these "designer bugs" are really starting to annoy me.:-/

Now, before you beat your brains out about whether or not you touched Niki that weekend, please, do NOT be alarmed. (Or be ignorant for that matter.) MRSA is everywhere. If you work in the hospital or gym for example, you're exposed to MRSA on a daily basis. Niki's bite was covered by her diaper. So, unless you licked her nostrils or your fingers after changing her diaper, you did not contaminate yourself. She is NOT a germ-spreader and I'd appreciate it if she wasn't referred to as such.

Someone already indirectly did that and I was NOT amused.

MRSA isn't a big deal if you're healthy, but it IS a big deal if you're a child/infant. And it's an even bigger deal if you have a weakened immune system like Niki does. Her port makes her prone to getting sicker, quicker off of "designer bugs" like MRSA. I don't know how she got MRSA, but it was there and she was NOT taking the correct antibiotic. MRSA is not sensitive to Cephalexin. I couldn't believe that no one called me with the test results. I had no idea they were even ready that early in the day!

Niki didn't have fever but still...MRSA is some serious shit if you have a port. I was worried that something was brewing in Niki's port -- especially with her being on the wrong type of antibiotic since 9/5. Unfortunately, it was already close to midnight and the advice nurses couldn't do much to help me. I sent messages to Dr. Sweetheart and Dr. Awesome's office first thing in the morning.

I waited all day to hear back from someone. Dr. Awesome and Nurse Richard were out if the office and Nurse Richard's replacement didn't call me back untiI I called her a second time. It was almost 4:30 when I spoke with her! I was surprised that Hematology wasn't on top of it.

Thank goodness Dr. Sweetheart got in touch with me already!

Apparently, Niki's culture results were sent to the doctor in San Francisco so none of the doctors (Dr. Sweetheart or Dr. Awesome) knew about the results of the test. And, whoever it is that reviews the lab results in San Francisco snoozed on spreading the word. Fail. Niki's diagnosis was delayed by one day, but the good news was Dr. Sweetheart was on top of it. She prescribed Niki an antibiotic called Septra (which does work on MRSA) and gave me instructions on how to de-colonize Niki and the rest of the family. Dr. Sweetheart didn't believe that Niki was colonized, but she decided to move forward with the treatment anyway to be on the safe side. So, the plan was:

1. Septra twice a day for the next 10 days (starting 9/9/10)
2. Muprocin ointment nasal swabs twice a day for Niki and the entire family for the next 5-7 days
3. Hibclens soap-downs for Niki and the boys for twice a week for the next month.

MRSA is a very stubborn bacteria. The best defense we have against it is to make sure that it's completely gone. The Septra would take care of it, but the Muprocin and Hibiclens would completely kill any residual MRSA that could be hanging around. Needless to say, we had our hands full with that treatment plan along with Niki's every-other-day infusion schedule and daily iron sulfate supplement for her anemia. There was a hell of a lot of medication tracking going on, my friends.

Bless my iPhone for keeping me sane, organized, and reminded of everything!

Just when we thought things couldn't get any worse, yet another curve ball was thrown our way. On Monday, 9/13, John and I came home to discover that Niki started limping at about 4pm that day. Keep in mind that Niki was still dealing with MRSA medications so the limping was the icing on the cake. It wasn't a factor day, and she refused to bear weight on her left leg (you know, the same leg where she had her possible ankle bleed in August) so John and I went ahead and gave her a dose of factor. We also tried to ice her ankle in case she had developed a target joint.

Niki fought with the icepack so icing the joint didn't last for as long as I wanted it to.

John and I tried bending/pressing every possible aspect of her left leg, but nothing seemed to be painful for her. Niki had no bruises and minimal swelling of the leg so we couldn't figure out why she was limping. Nevertheless, we kept her off her feet, and periodically checked for new bruises and/or swelling for the rest of the evening.

We both had work the next day (and she was still limping) so John called Nurse Richard and got advice from him first thing in the morning. They (Nurse Richard & Dr. Awesome) wanted us to continue to keep Niki off her feet and suggested that we get Niki an appointment with Dr. Sweetheart's office. My MIL, God bless her, was able to keep Niki off her feet despite having other children in the daycare to tend to.

Dr. Sweetheart was out of the office, but we were able to get Niki an afternoon appointment with one of the other Pediatricians on the floor. Tuesday, 9/14 was a factor day and the second dose of factor seemed to help. Niki's limp was still there, but it had dramatically improved since I last saw here in the morning.  My BIL and SIL came to my building (Dr. Sweetheart's office is only two floors down from my department) so I could conserve my FMLA. My BIL had to leave for work, but I met my SIL in the waiting room.

This is why we are so lucky to have the family support system that we have.
I jokingly asked my SIL if she felt like "Teen Mom" while she was waiting for me in the waiting room.
Niki's appointment went well. She's an interesting little creature so, of course, a Pediatric resident from UCSF shadowed Dr. Sweetheart's colleague during the exam. After watching her walk, bending, poking, and maneuvering every joint in the that leg, Dr. Sweetheart's colleague "Dr. RC" determined that Niki had a sprain.

The good news was it seemed to be resolving! We were instructed to continue with rest and ice (as much as Niki would tolerate) and of course, to continue with her regular factor schedule. (I swear, NovoSeven is the best!) Niki's bleed/sprain/limp/whatever-the-hell-it-was completely resolved by Wednesday 9/15.

Oh, but we weren't out of the woods yet. Keep in mind that we were still dealing with the MRSA treatment plan (antibiotics twice a day, nasal ointment twice a day, Hibiclens baths), infusion schedule, daily iron supplement, and NOW her ankle. I thought all was starting to get back to normal until I got a text from my MIL the afternoon of 9/15. And, the text looked like this:

Sure, Niki's limp was gone, but an eruption cyst in her mouth must have burst because she was having a pretty nasty mouth bleed. Mouth bleeds aren't serious (they just look serious), but the bleeding was happening off and on throughout the day. My MIL is used to handling Niki's minor bleeds, but this particular mouth bleed was a little more alarming that normal. She always sends me text/emails of Niki in both bad and good states. I guess my MIL understands that I feel better when I see pictures of my baby midday or mid-episode. It makes me feel like I'm with Niki even when I can't be with her.

The picture was taken when she was asleep and the bleed was non-urgent, but eating cold food/drinks didn't help stop the bleeding either.

Unfortunately, I was set to have my eyes dilated just minutes after I got the text (my vision has gotten alarmingly worse for the past two weeks) so there wasn't much I could do. The dilation would render me virtually blind (super blurred) for the next few hours. This meant that I wouldn't be able to administer factor when I got home. It was going to be left up to John. My eye dilation made me completely useless and John had to deal with Niki's mouth bleed on his own. He gave her factor and all was well with the world again.

But this time....I think it's for good.

It's been crazy and I'm glad it's over. Niki finally finished her Muprocin and Septra regimen just a few days ago. The Hibiclens baths will continue for the next few weeks and all will be back to normal again. normal as we're used to, anyway. ;-) The mouth bleed has resolved and she hasn't limped since last week.

The stress from the last 10 days must have caught up to me because I woke up Friday morning (9/17) with a wicked case of vertigo and maybe even a mild migraine. I called in sick for the first time in months (all the while worrying about my recent work drama) and slept in between dizzy-spells all day long. I'm doing much better and I'm REALLY hoping October will be a quieter month.

In the meantime, in the words of Green Day, wake me up when September ends!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Long Sip...

I've subjected you all to a serious blog drought, haven't I? I do that from time to time in case you didn't already know. ;-)

It's not that I haven't been writing. On the contrary, I've started tons of blog entries, I just have little time and energy to finalize them. I've been terrible about keeping on top of my HemAware blogs too so don't take it personally. The blood flow to my brain has been redirected to my uterus which means I haven't been very happy about my writing lately. "Pregnancy brain" has hit me hard. But hey, it's no fun for me either when all is quiet in my little corner of blogland.

For the sake of getting you all up to speed on what has been going on in my neck of the woods, I've condensed/summarized all of my would-be entries into this one post. Consider this the Cliff Notes version of all that has been going on in the den. Please excuse the typos.

Drink up 'cause the drought is over! This is going to be a long post so take one hell of a "sip" and enjoy. :)

My Updates:

Aside from being exhausted at the end of a long work day, I've recently recovered from dealing with some work drama. Apparently, someone has something against me and the supposed "special treatment" I get because of Niki's condition. (Totally untrue by the way. I had FMLA time-off denied before.) Someone even went as far as going into my manager's office complaining about my sonogram picture on Facebook! They were annoyed that I wasn't "acting like I was pregnant" at work. I didn't even tell my manager I was pregnant yet because I was waiting until I got the results of my amnio! But, after I found out that someone took it upon themselves to spread my pregnancy news, I was forced to tell my manager about my pregnancy sooner than I wanted to. My manager didn't care either way, but I would have preferred to tell her about my pregnancy on my own terms.

Apparently, there is also underlying animosity in regard to how much "special treatment" I'll be getting if Diamond Tiara were to also have a bleeding disorder. I couldn't believe it when I found out how people were feeling about me, my pregnancy, and Niki! I don't know who it is, but most of the people I work with were the same folks that supported me after Ethan passed away!  I can't help it if my kids have special needs and the whole thing really broke my heart.

I really hope that the treatment I'm receiving isn't a precursor to how Niki's life going to be when she joins the workforce.

Apparently, this person (or group of people) also lied to my manager and said that I was "always late". They claimed that someone else was clocking me in on time and basically accused me of time card fraud. All. blatant. lies. The accusation is some serious shit, my friends. I could lose my job over that! The fact that someone would resort to such extremes really baffled me. I mean, I was really emotionally screwed up over it. Losing my job means I would lose my insurance! And, it doesn't only affect me, but my kids as well. I would never risk my job  for something so stupid. Unfortunately, the anonymous person(s) threatened to report my manager if she didn't "take care of it" and investigate me.

The good news is my manager believes me. I've made arrangements to prove that I am indeed on time and present when I clock in. That way, if the people decide to report me and my manager, then I'll have proof that they're harassing me. (Which is really all that this boils down to.) I pissed someone off and they want to get even. I consulted with our employee hotline, and I was told that I really have a strong case should a formal complaint be placed against me. My initial reaction was to run away from it all and transfer to another department, but that wouldn't be the answer. My secret nemesis will "win" and I'll suffer/be further away from the kids if any emergencies occur! I may be meek, but I'm a fighter when I have to be. Especially if someone is indirectly threatening my livelihood or the livelihood of my cubs.

Regardless, the whole situation sucks and it's been very hard for me to simply brush it off. I'm sensitive and I can't figure out what I did to these people to piss them off so much. Sometimes I wish I had thicker skin. :(

Shortly after all the drama at work went down, I went on an unexpected dinner date with my girls B, L, and I on 9/1/10. We barely see each other, but we always pick up where we left off. We had Japanese food, coffee, and of course, good times! I really admire those ladies. My life seems so boring and run-of-the-mill compared to some of the stories they shared with me that night. But let me tell you, it feels good to be friends with such amazing and hilarious women. I felt so uplifted after spending a night out with them. And, I can't wait until our next dinner and/or M&M date. :)

I also just got off the telephone with my very good friend J. I feel positively refreshed and rejuvenated. I haven't talked on the phone in....ages! Note to self: Reconnect with other girlfriends...quick!

P.S. Working on a post about my "rescuing me" progress. Post with pics coming soon!

John's Updates:

John and I have been together for 12 years and I've never seen him be so health conscious. He has adhered to a strict diet and exercise routine for the past few weeks. He even gave up his beloved Rockstars and drinks nothing but water!

What prompted him to change his lifestyle, you ask? Well, his recent CT scan of his liver was unchanged from last year. This is good and bad, I suppose. However, his ALT and AST (liver function tests) got worse even though he still doesn't have high cholesterol or diabetes. This my friends, is not good. You see, John was diagnosed with NASH last year. And at that time, he was supposed to adhere to a strict diet and exercise regimen. His primary doctor even referred him to a nutritionist so he could get help with weight! The problem is, he never did follow up with the plan. John ate horribly, continued to smoke, drank whenever he wanted to, and didn't exercise one bit for the last year. (Of note: John gave up smoking a few months ago so that was good.)

Hence, the unchanged CT and increased ALT and AST levels this year still aren't good. Zero improvement is a bad thing. The good news is, this scared the living crap out of John, and he's tried to been healthy ever since then. On Friday, 9/3/10, John decided that he wanted to take the boys for a random family outing. He was wearing slippers (with socks I might add!) and somehow, we ended up having dinner at Bubba Gumps.  Despite all of the tempting, delicious yumminess there, John ordered a veggie burger.

And, I'm pretty darn proud of him.

Kev and Boo in food comas. :)
 They perked up after they got their Make-Your-Own-Sundaes though.

Kevin's Updates: 

Two weeks after school started, Kev told me that two older kids (he didn't know their names) were going up to him during recess and calling him a "nerd" and a "whimp." Yep...we're dealing with bullies again! He didn't seem bothered by it, but I was. You see, John was a born fighter. He was never bullied and if anyone tried to mess with him, he would fight. Unfortunately, Kevin didn't inherit that personality trait. The kid was destined to be my son -- meek and non-confrontational.

I know I can't teach Kev to be a fighter if it's not who he is. However, this was one of those situations where I wanted him to do more than remove himself from the situation. Violence isn't the answer, but I also distinctly remember what it feels like to be bullied. And how much I wish I had the courage to stand up to those elementary school bullies. (And the ones from Jr. High!)

I wanted  to tell Kevin to fight for himself,  but I held back. John gave Kevin the "you should knock 'em out talk" while I told him to "ignore them because they're just stupid kids talk." Kevin dealt with it in his own way and eventually the recess bully stories subsided.

Kev also disclosed to me on a separate occasion that he played by himself during recess. When I asked him why he thought kids didn't play with him he responded with, "Eh, maybe I'm just too cool." I was somewhat concerned that he was being ostracized, but at the same time he didn't seem to care. Kids are cruel and Kevie is awesome!

Kev kept getting distracted as I was talking to him about his school situation. Boo was playing video games (Toy Story 3) so Kevie kept turning his head to the television screen while he spoke with me. I had to remind him multiple times the importance of eye contact whenever you're speaking with someone. This was the conversation that followed:

Kevin: "Well, uh, can we hurry this up because I have to get back to my video game?"
Me:  Kev, you can pause video games, but you can't pause life.
Kev: (Turned back to face me and looked puzzled for a few seconds.) Oh, I didn't know that.

Needless to say, he maintained perfect eye contact for the remainder of the conversation. I'm also happy to report that Kevin has finally settled into the 2nd grade nicely. I'll write about Back to School night and Kev's trip to the Principal's office in the next few posts.

On Friday 9/10/11, Kevin threw me a curve ball. He asked me if he could call me Mom instead of Mommy! Apparently, Kev felt that he was "old enough" to call me "Mom" because the term "Mommy" is "baby-ish." I damn near shed a tear when he asked me. John and I were on our way out to get groceries so I hurriedly told Kevin that we would talk about it when we got home.

I cried in the car when I told John what Kevin asked me. He's my baby! I foolishly believed that he would call me Mommy forever. He calls my MIL "Mom"! Evidently, before I came home from work that day, Kevin asked John if he could call him Dad instead of Daddy too! John was surprised when Kev asked him, but he didn't say no either. I guess John's having an easier time accepting the fact that our young cub is growing up. After John approved Kevie's request, Kev asked him, "Will Mommy would be alright if I started calling her Mom?" Holy shit ya' boy is growing up! They're already leaving me out and having father-son conversations!

When John and I came home from grocery shopping, I convinced Kevin that he could call me Mom in public, but Mommy in private. I made a deal that he could fully transition to calling Mom once he's ready to accept more responsibility around the house. I'm stalling, can you tell? ;-)

Boo's Updates:

I picked up Boo every day for the first two weeks of school. And EVERY DAY he acted like a big ol' grumpy goose. He would give me one-word answers when I would ask him about school. The boy was totally disengaged when it came to talking to me about his day! (Isn't it too early for him to be anti-social with his Mommy?) I know he was probably tired but still...I wanted to know about his day. The good news is he would soften up by the time I got home from work. But I swear, that child is the moodiest little creature, ever!

Boo also spent the first three weeks of school insisting on writing B-O-O instead of his "Anthony" because as he so eloquently complained, "Why'd you named me something so long?" My headstrong little boy finally broke down and agreed to write his full name, but he then insisted on only writing his name in upper case. Thank goodness he has the same teacher that Kevie did! (Mrs. C also happens to be an old friend from high school.) With a little encouragement, Boo has finally completely broke down and got used to writing his name in proper upper and lower case.

Boo detests coloring his homework pages like Kevie did, but I gotta admit that he takes pride in his work. Boo has got to be the neatest five-year-old on the entire planet. He works very hard to stay clean at school (he refuses to climb up the side of the truck in the morning) and he tries his best to write/color as neatly as possible. I was always worried that Boo would be defiant once he started school, but he's an excellent student. And perhaps, maybe not as hard-headed as I initially thought. (Again, I'll write about Back 2 School night in another post.)

Diamond Tiara:

Still no word from London.  I'm getting antsy, but I'm enjoying this pregnancy! I love the feeling of the baby moving in my tummy. Here's Diamond's latest picture from my ultrasound on 9/7/10. :)

She knows where her nose is! ;-)
Boo has suddenly taken great interest in my expanding belly. He keeps asking when the baby will come. (I think he's finally gotten used to the idea of having another little sister.) We had a hilarious moment together (the "three of us) a few weeks ago and I'm compelled to share it.

Me: Boo, the baby is moving!
Boo: (Stops playing video games and puts his head on my tummy) It's not moving.
Me: Well, talk to her and see if she moves.
Boo: Hello? (pause) It's not talking. Why is it not talking?!
Me: She can't talk yet.

Boo looked at my belly/Diamond Tiara with a "babies are dumb" face and turned back to his video game. I can't wait until this little girl adds more pandemonium and broke-ness to our household.

September Weekends w/ the Lion's Den:

Labor Day Weekend:
We spent Saturday 9/4/10 at our good friends D&V's house for their housewarming/September birthday celebration. I was utterly exhausted, but it was nice to catch up with our friends. :) I'm slowly falling in love with the idea of moving to Hayward, but our main support system is here in DC. I know our friends would be there for us should we ever have an emergency at 3am, but John and I aren't "imposers." We need to be close to family. So, John and I are working on a compromise for our next Home Sweet Home.

Sunday 9/5/10 - We spent some quality time at my sister's house in Hercules. I love spending time with my family. We're a small and rowdy bunch, but we always have a blast when we're together. I also discovered a whole new level to my sister's  infamous "nice & tidiness."  The woman folds her plastic bags (grocery bags she uses to line trashcans) into perfect, tiny little triangles! I've got the video footage to prove it. LOL!

After spending the day there, I became infatuated with the idea of moving to Hercules, too. My sister's house is ginormous and the lucky ass has her own room devoted to scrapbooking! You can't get that here in DC!!! I spent most of Sunday scrapping with my niece, getting Cricut tutorials from my sister, fiddling with her awesome cartridge collection, and finishing up invitations for my nephew's bday/housewarming party. I  was totally craving for a swig of some chocolate wine that my sister had, but settled on HiChew to satisfy my sweet tooth instead. I'll just have to get "chocolate wasted" some other time. ;-)

Monday 9/6/10 - John had work. It sucked, but I couldn't do much anyway. My sciatica flared up from sitting on the floor in my sister's scrapbook room. ( was so worth the layout I made. Again, I'll post a pic of it soon.) I was completely out of commission the whole day --I even puked because I was in so much pain-- so John took the kids out to fly their kite when he got home from work. All was not lost for the cubs, after all. :)

Saturday 9/11/10 - We woke up early Saturday morning to take Kevin to an orientation/Mass held for all of the incoming CCD students. He'll be starting CCD on 9/25 and I'm still in awe that time has flown by so quickly. Kevin whispered to me during Mass that the stained glass flowers at St. Augustin meant that "God loves us." He also told me that he learned from Veggie Tales that the Isralites were mades into slaves. I swear, that kid never ceases to amaze me. He's like a sponge -- so thirsty for knowledge! I can't wait to see what he sops up from his religious education and faith formation!

Later that day we attended our friend's daughter's 5th birthday party in Brisbane. The cubs had a blast enjoying the weather. :)

Later that night, we spent some time with family to celebrate John's grandfather's speedy recovery from a recent health scare in the PI. As always, it was nice to lounge around and catch up with the familia.

Sunday 9/12/10 - I was supposed to do my first switchboard shift at SFSI, but I had no one to watch the kids. Needless to say, I was bummed, but we made the most of our day anyway. I took the cubs to visit Ethan and run some errands. We checked out the new Dollar Spot that just opened up, made a trip to Michael's for my SIL's bumped up 13th birthday party (I have less than a week to pull it together), and I took the kids on a trip to the park & Krispy Kreme. Wrangling the kids while 5 months pregnant and alone is totally stressful, but we made it all home in once peace. Yay, me!

9/18/10 - My SIL's 13th Birthday Luau. Niki and I took turns being sick all week, but I still was able to pull of some party decor and baking. I'll post pics soon!

So there you have it long-winded update is complete. Hope you enjoyed your sip. More posts are coming your way.