Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sometimes Coming Up With A Title Is The Hardest Part

It's December!
It's December?!?!????
Wow.

It's also swiftly approaching my bedtime, so I'm going to make this monthly update snappy.

Liam
Have you seen this kid? He is incredible and I am madly in love with him. At 4 months old he continues to be the happiest, smiliest (Yes, I just invented that word.  Ha!) baby I know. He basks in the attention of others and gladly holds conversations with anyone who gives him a moment of their time. In addition to his ooohing and aaahing, I've hear a few consonants here and there. I'm going to do my best to train this one to say "mama" first.

He is very ticklish and loves to be tickled. He anticipates it, smiles, and laughs with his big giggle when the tickles come his way. It's adorable and wonderful because it is impossible not to smile and laugh with him. 

He is not rolling over yet, but you should see the moves he has while lying on his back. He's great at batting at toys, grabbing toys, waving them around, and then getting frustrated when he can't reach them. He also kicks at toys and objects like a pro. My favorite is when he wiggles, waves, and kick/stomps the ground like a he's doing an Irish dance, complete with all the flourish.

Liam still lets us know when he is tired and falls asleep like a champ. He is officially sleeping in the same room as his sister every night, and so far it's going really well. *Knock on wood that I didn't just jinx myself!* He wakes up a couple of times a night, but I don't mind. We just take care of business and he goes right back to sleep. The only problems arise when he wakes around 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning. That usually wakes Emma up too, which means my day starts too early.

Emma
My girl and my big, black dog have something in common. Sometimes, even though I know they need to "go potty," they put up a fight. My dog does this to me because, in spite of being a Labrador Retriever and bred for cold, wet experiences, he is a complete sissy with sensitive toes who is afraid to set foot in his run in cold, wet conditions. Emma puts up the fight because she is two and has a penchant for being a drama queen.

The sounds that come out of this girl during her tantrums/mental breakdowns are remarkable. I think she stands in front of the mirror and practices her fits. No, really. After her nap today she was convinced that it was the next morning. She completely flipped out when I informed her that we would be eating dinner, not breakfast. Consequently, we ate pancakes and eggs for dinner.

She is very smart and picks up on everything. She remembers everything, too, so we have to be really careful of our words and actions around her. She loves to read and sing. She can write the letter E if I tell her where to draw the lines. She talks non-stop most of the time, but is mute around people she doesn't know well. She is obsessed with princesses. She loves going through people's purses and playing with their makeup. I think she may be developing a fear of the dark.
Now it is officially past my bedtime. That's what happens when I get on a roll, talking about my remarkable babies.

Goodnight.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blog Number Eleventy-One today!

I feel behind on my blogging.
I probably shouldn't lump all of these subjects into one post, but I'm going to do it anyway. Sorry if it turns out to be incredibly long...

I Turned 30!
My family and friends "surprised" me with a great party the week before my birthday. I knew it was coming, because I can smell these things a mile away, but I didn't know how it would all work out or who would be there. It turned out to be a wonderful evening with amazing people who make my world a happier place.
I'm making an awesome face here!
 In related news, our washer went poo-poo that week. To celebrate my actual birthday, Barry and I went shopping for a new one. I must really be getting into my role as a domestic goddess, because I discovered that buying a new washing machine was a pretty rockin' birthday gift. We also went out to dinner that night, without children. Wow! A million thanks to my mom for that gift!

I have never been one to fear getting older. I love my birthday each year and am elated to be alive to celebrate the aging process. Thirty is a good number. In the past thirty years I've managed to secure a husband, a house, two children, two careers, loads of amazing friends, and a plethora of gray hairs. I feel adequately accomplished.

Emma's Arthritis is Still in Medicated Remission!
Can I say that again? Yes? Thanks.
Emma's Arthritis is Still in Medicated Remission!
We went to her rheumatologist today and Em still has no signs of active arthritis. There is some synovial thickening in her left ankle that isn't present in the right, but that might be left over from initial damage. We will monitor it and see what happens.
Since her disease has stayed under control with her meds, we're letting her outgrow her doses. So, she's currently being under-dosed for her medication. In mid-January, if she's still symptom free, we'll reduce her meds even more. Hip Hip Hooray!

Family
I miss my brother. He lives only thirty minutes away, but I haven't seen him since January. I talk to him on the phone periodically, but I never know if he'll be manic, depressed, or somewhere in between. With the holidays coming up,  I thought it would be nice to get together this weekend. I called him today and asked if he was available for a lunch date with my little family. He basically told me that he didn't think that was necessary and that we probably shouldn't get together this weekend, but that he still loves me.
That kind of crushed my little sister heart.
I see the way my baby Liam watches his big sister's every move. He adores her, smiles at her constantly, and will hopefully always look up to her. That's the way it is for little siblings. We view our older siblings with a weird admiration, a hero worshiping love that persists in spite of the teasing, wedgies, and general I'm Too Cool For You attitude we get in return. It's a very hard thing to watch my childhood idol deteriorate into a mentally ill, yet beautiful and bright man. So, as I said at the beginning, I miss my brother.

When I got married, Barry's family became my family. They have welcomed me into their lives and hearts and it has been wonderful. I have grandparents again and the number of aunts and uncles I can now claim as my own has tripled. The real bonus has come by gaining sisters. I never had a sister before, now I have two that live only 45 minutes away. I love them both very much and am grateful to have them  in my life. In the past year I have grown really close to Barry's older sister. She has become my big sister and my dear friend. No one will ever replace my big brother, but what a blessing it is to gain family.

Okay, that's all for now.

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy and be grateful for your physical health, old age, mental health, and family tomorrow. I know I will.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's a New Month!

Welcome to November.
The Princess & The Pea
 Halloween was a lot of fun with my little ones. I took them to my parents' house so the grandparents could see how cute they looked in their costumes. We took some pictures and trick-or-treated at a few houses in their neighborhood. Then we came home to share their cuteness with my neighbors and my father-in-law, AKA Papa.

The Princess
Miss Emma continues to do well health-wise. She also continues to be a royal pain in the tookus whenever she gets the chance. I'm trying really hard to convince her that she should obey me. Sometimes she falls for it. She is so funny and so smart.

Her latest efforts to manipulate The Mommy happen at nap time and bedtime. "Mommy? Can we read one more book?" "Mommy! Can I have another drink of water?" "Mommy! Uhh... ummm..." "Mommy?" The best is when she comes out of her room and starts with some excuse for not being asleep, such as, "Daddy! You're too loud!" (She's probably right about that one.) I know she's just exercising her stubborn will power, and it's kind of cute, but it's also a little bit obnoxious. I've had to start bribing her to go to sleep. Today, since she went down for her nap without being a jack-in-the-box, she gets to watch some of Lady and the Tramp when she wakes up.

She named them Rapunzel & Eugene.
That brings me to my next subject: Movies and videos! The kid loves them. She's like her daddy in the way that she gets absolutely glued to a television. If she hears one of us watching a video on the computer, she comes running into the room to see what's playing. Good thing we don't have cable t.v.

All of her quirky traits make Emma the wonderful little girl that I love so much.

The Pea
Liam is 3 months old today. Already. He is still my little angel and I am very much in love with him.
His blue eyes are bright and aware.
My handsome 3 month old!
He continues to spit up like an erupting volcano.
He laughs daily and it is adorable.
If he's not sleeping, eating, or quietly observing the world, he is smiling, smiling, smiling.
He loves to engage others in conversations and has added "oooh" into his ever expanding vocabulary.
Liam & his adoring fans.
This may be a little bit gross, but Liam only poops every six or seven days. He saves it up all week long and then poops on Thursdays and Fridays. Today he decided to begin Project: Fill Up Diaper at 4 A.M. and I was not pleased.
He bats at toys, kicks at toys, and holds onto toys.
His eyes follow me around the room.
If I ignore him for too long, he calls out to me so that we can resume our conversation.
He is already a huge flirt.
He has me wrapped around his tiny finger.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Let's Talk About Arthritis. Again.

Next week marks one year since I gave Emma her first injection of Enbrel and we started getting her arthritis under control. It's been an awesome year. We got to wean off of her oral NSAID. We went to physical therapy and saw greater range of motion in her affected joints. We entered the world of medicated remission and we are still there!

Just look how much she has grown in a year. (Okay... 16 months, to be exact.)
Smiling through the pain.

My beautiful, big girl!
The first picture is from June 2012. That would be a month after onset of disease but before any treatment aside from naproxen. See her big, swollen knee?

The second picture was taken last week. You can't quite see it, but her knee is normal now and has been for some time.

Hooray for modern medicine and modern day miracles!

If she continues to be symptom free for two more months, we'll stop her meds and see what happens. I'm hoping we make it that far. I'm hoping we stop the medication and the arthritis stays away.

I'm delighted for my little girl, but there are kids out there who are not so lucky. Em was diagnosed quickly and we were able to start aggressive treatment early. Most children go for years without diagnosis and by the time the doctors figure out what is going on, these kids have permanent damage. We have a friend whose JA was quiet for months. Then while fighting a stomach flu, her immune system started attacking her little joints again and they became swollen, angry, and red. There are children whose own bodies attack their eyes, heart, lungs, and muscles. Juvenile Arthritis can kill these kids. It is horrible. I hate this disease.

Yet, it appears that JA is Emma's battle to fight in this life. I hope she endures it well and grows stronger because of her trials. I pray that her disease stays quiet for a while. I feel greedy to ask for complete remission; all I ask is for a few years so she can know comfort, peace, and a pain-free childhood without Mommy giving her injections every week.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Going Green!

During my senior year of college I had a roommate who used biodegradable dish soap and cleaning products. That same year I learned that a woman I knew through church wouldn't use pesticide flea control on her dog. She is a cancer survivor and has chosen to remove as many toxins from her life as possible.

None of this made sense to me. Why would it? I lived on poptarts, Oreos, frozen taquitos, pizza, and cereal. I didn't really know there were organic and all natural products out there and I didn't understand the bigger picture behind why people were choosing them.

Now, I'm starting to understand.

I don't let my kids have Red40 and try to stay away from most artificial colors in Emma's food. (I still eat the junk, but old habits die hard.) I haven't used fabric softener or scented laundry products in so long that the smell of other people's highly scented laundry literally makes me sick to my stomach. Emma is used to eating natural applesauce, so when we go out to restaurants and the kid's meal comes with high fructose corn syrup applesauce, she doesn't like it and won't eat it.

I'd like to go all organic with our food, but I hate the higher prices and am currently too lazy to become a coupon super-mom. I think I will with time. For now, I'm introducing organic and natural products little by little. As we finish one item, I'll replace it with a healthier, natural choice. For example, Emma and Liam get natural shampoo and soap, while I indulge in the mainstream stuff. I use "green" cleaner for the shower, sink, and counter, but my toilet gets nasty, straight up bleach. Once my bleach bottles (purchased in bulk from Costco) are all used up, I'll try to figure out something else to use.
Looking a little green?

So what happened to me? Why am I even attempting this change and repeatedly resisting the urge to buy those poptarts?

I think it is partly because of Em's arthritis. It seems to me that autoimmune diseases, cancers, asthma, and Autism are more prevalent these days. Why? I can't help but wonder about all of the chemicals in the air we breathe, in the water we drink and food we eat, and in the clothes, makeup, and shampoo we put against our skin.

That is why I'm trying to change things and hoping to limit my family's exposure to the byproducts of our industrial world. And I totally understand if you think I'm a little bit weird.

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Gray Hairs Are Multiplying

The past month has been eventful.

At the time of my last post, I was dealing with my first ever case of mastitis. That sucked because fevers make me miserable and a miserable Sarah is not fun to be around. Thankfully, antibiotics saved the day and life improved rapidly. Then, three weeks later I had a clogged duct that was a little bit painful and extremely annoying. In case you wondered, breastfeeding isn't easy, people.

I said goodbye to my best-kitty-friend on September 4th. That was sad, but I was well prepared. It was actually a relief to send my sweet Winter off to a happier, healthier place. She was nineteen years old and had lived a very nice, long life.

Last week I returned to my part-time work, which was good but bittersweet. I'm glad to be back in the swing of things and see all my wonderful coworkers, but I miss my babies. Thankfully, they're well cared for while we're apart.
I love these monkeys!

Emma continues to perfect the art of being a two year old, which gives me the opportunity to perfect the art of issuing Time Outs. She can be the most charming, adorable sweetheart one minute, and the next she is a screaming, spinning Tasmanian Devil whose sole purpose in life is to raise my blood pressure. I'm sure that her cranky rebellion is fueled in part by her perpetual sleepiness. You see, Miss Emma has decided that 5:45A.M. is an acceptable wake up time, regardless of when she went to bed the night before. Please don't tell me that she just needs less sleep than she use to, because the dark circles under her eyes say differently. The good news is that she's still napping well in the middle of the day (*Knock on wood!*)  and we're surviving.

Today, Liam is two months old! He weighs 10 pounds 8 ounces according to my baby scale. (It really was my baby scale, too. I can't believe my parents kept it for so long!) He is still a wonderful, mellow baby. He cries when he is hungry, tired, or in need of attention. Once you give him what he wants, he's quiet and happy again. He spits up a lot and it's a little bit gross. My mom calls him Mount Vesuvius. We use receiving blankets as burp cloths to cover a greater surface area and the poor kid always wears a bib. Thankfully, my hair is short, my carpet is cheap, and my couch wipes clean easily. He sleeps like a champ. His smiles are heartwarming. He has incredible blue eyes. I am madly in love with my little man.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

One Month Old!

Liam is one month old.

Already.

That went by really fast.

Dressed to impress!
This baby boy is amazing. He's mellow, except during the evening when he just wants to be held and I just want to make dinner, eat dinner, bathe his sister, or shower. Then he likes to cry a lot. Good thing there are usually two parents home around that time.

He spits up after almost every feeding. If you don't get a good burp out of the kid, he'll spit up for a while afterwards. As a result, I'm doing laundry more frequently than I did before he came into the world.

He likes pacifiers and prefers the Nuk variety.

I adore him. 

He is a champ at holding his head up and looking around. He can keep that little head pretty steady for a minute or two before he becomes a bobble head.

Liam is approximately five days into his first cold. Thanks, Big Sister, for sharing. He does not like the snot sucker (AKA nasal aspirator) very much.

The kid makes lots of interesting noises. He grunts, squeaks, whimpers, snorts, and cries. My favorite is this little cough cry thing that he does that means, "Hurry up and feed me!"

Smooches!
He loves Emma, almost as much as she loves him, I think. He likes watching her run around and listens to her talk and sing. He even sleeps through her screams, singing, yelling, jumping, and general two-year old behavior.

We all love him.

Liam has rolled over from his front to his back three times. He hasn't actually mastered the skill of rolling over, he just has fits of wiggly rage when he no longer wants to be on his tummy. Wiggly rage leads to incredible feats of strength, like rolling over. Just call him Baby Hulk.


I think he's starting to smile. I've seen several silly smiles when he's falling asleep, but those don't really count. However, today he smiled while wide awake. He was looking over my shoulder at the front door and made a big happy face.

I love him dearly. The really super thing is that I actually LIKE him. A few weeks ago I actually spoke the words, "I love little babies!" That's a phrase that I had never said before. I fully expected that it was a phrase I would never ever say.

This little man is changing me.

Did I mention that I love him? 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Type A

Let's talk about me for a change.

I'm a bit of a type A personality. (My blood type is also A, but that's irrelevant to this post.) Don't know much about the Type A/Type B personality theory? Look it up on Wikipedia. The Wikipedia article says something about Type A people being "obsessed with time management." That's me to a T.   
Or should I say, that's me to an A.

This isn't a new thing. My mom recently recalled my neurotic, high-strung behavior as a child. Apparently, when given several days or weeks to complete a school project, I'd come home stressed about it and get the assignment done the next day. (I don't remember this, but I believe my mom.) I do know that the very first entry in my childhood diary says, essentially, that my pediatrician prescribed journal writing for me as an outlet so that maybe I wouldn't worry so much. I also know that my college roommate called me The Camp Director because I organized our friends' activities and cracked the whip a lot.

I think I do an okay job of balancing my rigid type-A neurosis with a more laid-back attitude, once the chores are done and everyone is fed. For example, I enjoy taking a different route to get to the same old place, even if it takes longer. I enjoy the impromptu stop at the park, or ice cream parlor, or friend's house along the way. I let my girl get dirty, make her own choices, and make messes. However, when it's lunch time, we need to eat. When it's nap time, we need to sleep. When I have to meet the needs of three cats, a dog, a toddler, and a newborn, as well as clean up after dinner, take out the trash, and shower before I get to go to sleep at night, my rigid Type A behavior goes into overdrive.

This part of my personality doesn't really bother me, but my husband can't stand it. Apparently I'm no fun because I'm not impulsive and don't really love surprises. He can't whisk our family away for the day without telling me exactly where we're going and what we're doing so that I can bring the proper supplies, clothing, food, etc. We don't go on dates very often because Emma goes to bed early and I don't know how she'd do with a random babysitter putting her to bed at night, and I can't always ask my mom to babysit. My poor Barry has to put up with me for the rest of forever.

Anyhow, I'm a control freak.

And now you know.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Here We Are Together...

...Listening to children's songs. Again.

I'm not finding much time to blog. Gee, I wonder why.

While I have a moment, let me update you on a few of the things going on around here.

We call Liam our Sleepy Beepy. He's wonderful and sleeping during the day and the night, thank goodness. The only problem we've encountered is that he wants bedtime to be a little later than Barry and I prefer.


I have learned that diapering little boys must include an extra step. I need to remember to point his little peepee downwards in the diaper, otherwise we get a lot of pee pee all over his back and bed while he's sleeping. This was, obviously, never an issue with my daughter.

Emma is dealing with the adjustments of a new baby brother rather well, but she is having her two-year-old melt downs a little more frequently than normal. That wouldn't be such a big deal if her parents weren't extra tired and therefore less patient than normal. Oh well. We're surviving.

We bought a minivan, or as Emma calls it, "A Vini Man!" I'm so excited to have a bigger vehicle! Now I will be able to leave the house when I'm babysitting instead of being trapped at home three days a week.

My recovery is going really well. My guts don't feel like they're going to rip open when I sneeze anymore and I can actually use my abs when I get out of bed or off the couch. Yay!

I need to go. Morning chores are being neglected and my girl is looking for attention...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Liam's Grand Entry

Well, folks, I have two kids now. Let me tell you how it happened...

On Wednesday we went to the hospital at 7A.M. so I could change into my lovely gown and go through a bunch of pre-surgery things, like answer questions, get an I.V., and wait. Then we waited some more. Apparently a lady who was trying a VBAC had her uterus rupture, so she got an emergency c-section and I had to wait a little longer. Ouchy.

Then my scheduled doctor got pulled away to the E.R., so I had to wait a little longer still for a different surgeon. That turned out to be fine, because the new guy was AWESOME. The doctors and nurses were accommodating and did things just a little differently than usual to avoid aggravating my itchy adhesive allergy. Everyone was super nice.

I got my spinal, became numb to all pain and heat from my chest down, and we were ready for surgery. Everything felt surreal, I didn't feel like I was about to have a baby and I wasn't really sure if I wanted to have another baby. What had we been thinking?!?! Was it too late to change my mind?

Obviously, we proceeded in spite of my sudden doubts, and I'm glad we did.
"I'm having a c-section RIGHT now!"

Surgery went beautifully from start to finish.

When Liam was delivered, he had some fluid in his lungs. That's not unusual with c-section babies because they don't go through the squeezing pressure that regularly delivered babies experience. With Emma I was terrified about this, but she only had a small amount of fluid in her lungs and coughed it out instantly. This time I didn't worry about it at all, so of course it caused a problem.

My newest love
Liam had a difficult time clearing all of the amniotic fluid from his lungs. We waited and watched. The nurse gave him additional air to breathe through an oxygen mask that would keep his airways open, and we waited. However, he just couldn't manage to clear his lungs.

I was lying on the surgery table, staring straight ahead, (because craning my neck to look at my baby made me nauseous) and praying. The nurse working with Liam said that they were probably going to take him to the NICU to continue with the air flow and do chest X-rays. I started praying harder. Then I had a sudden knowledge that Barry needed to give Liam a blessing*. He put his hand on little Liam's head, closed his eyes, and said a silent blessing while I prayed silently across the room.

A few minutes later the nurses said that Liam seemed much better and wouldn't have to go to the NICU after all. Thank Heaven.

They stitched me up and sent me off to recovery. Barry and Liam headed over to the Well Baby Nursery for a little bath and warming up time. An hour passed and I was getting a little anxious because I still hadn't held my boy, but my room was ready so they took my there to wait.

FINALLY, two hours after he was born, I got to hold my baby for the first time. He nursed like a champ and is all around an awesome guy.

Recovery went really well for me, way easier and less painful than after Emma was born. We came home from the hospital on Friday afternoon and life has been nice. I've never really been a fan of newborns, (they're so needy) but this little man is changing my outlook. He's mellow, sleepy, and so extremely cute. I think I'm a little more mellow this time around too. His crying doesn't stress me out, I'm not flipping out at the fact that he's lost a "bunch" of weight, and sleep-deprivation is already a way of life for me. I've been here and done this before.

Emma and "her" baby.
I love having two kids. Emma adores her little brother and has adjusted beautifully to him being around. When she visited in the hospital her first words were, "Mommy, can I hold my baby?" She isn't bothered by his crying and he isn't bothered by her screams, squeals, and general craziness. Life is good.


*We're members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and believe that worthy men can hold priesthood power that enables them to bless the lives of others in a way that Christ would bless others were he walking the earth today.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympic Babies

Since it's the trend so far, I'm making a rule that I can only give birth to my children during the Olympics.

Emma was born during Winter 2010 Olympics.
Liam will be born during these Summer 2012 Olympics.

That's pretty cool. Maybe they'll be amazing athletes when they grow up.

(On that note, Em & I were watching the women's USA gymnastics team trials and Emma said, "I cannot do that. I can do a somersault." She's so amazing.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Doctor Doctor, Give Me News...

Today was busy.

After all of our morning chores, breakfast, and the usual routine, Em and I hopped in the car and drove approximately 30 minutes to her rheumatology appointment. Everything is still looking great with her, so we're going to stick with our current plan and go in for her next check up in four months. Awesome!

On the way home we stopped at the Oakland Temple, because that's what we like to do. Emma loves to hear the big statue of Jesus "talk." Today we heard the recording in English and Greek, which was very exciting.

Once home, I made a delicious lunch of steamed broccoli and mac-n-cheese. We finished up with some raspberries and blueberries. Now, with both of us stuffed full and happy as can be, it was nearly nap time for Emma.

I settled her into bed and settled myself in front of this computer to do a little online shopping. The time has come to purchase the final items off of my baby registry with my gift cards. I love Target, but I was annoyed to discover that the 10% discount on "everything" left on my registry doesn't actually apply to everything. What the heck? Fine, I don't care at this point if I have to pay the full price for formula and shampoo, at least they qualified for free shipping. However, at checkout time the website informed me that I could only use up to four gift cards per transaction. I have seven gift cards! That doesn't seem very fair!

Oh well. With the purchase finally made, using gift cards and my credit card, my mom was at my house and it was time for me to leave again. Off I went to another doctor's appointment. This time I drove 30 minutes in a different direction to meet the OB/GYN who will be my surgeon and deliver my baby boy! She seems like a nice doctor and I got good vibes from her, so I trust that I'll be in good hands. Only fourteen days to go!

As soon as I got home it was time to scoot the kitchen table around and gather the needed dinner paraphernalia to feed the missionaries a delicious dinner of salad and pizza.

Now they're gone, the kid is bathed and singing to herself in bed, and I am documenting this day. I'm about ready for a shower and bedtime myself.

I might not look huge to you, but I'm a huge pregnant lady. Seriously. And huge pregnant ladies don't like driving around for two hours in one day. My back is sore and my rib hurts.

Blurry, but you get the idea.





Thursday, July 5, 2012

This is my 100th Post

I felt like I needed to write about something epic for my 100th post. I kept waiting for something spectacular to blog about but nothing too exciting came up. So, here's an ordinary update, for the 100th time.

I'm 27 days away from having a baby. That's really soon. Everything is falling into place, his belongings are washed and waiting. I've been nesting on and off like a crazy person and am almost ready to welcome my son into the world outside of my abdomen.

Speaking of my gut, I swear this child is going to be bigger than Emma. Let's compare pictures, shall we?

39 weeks 1 day w/ Em
34 weeks 4 days w/ Liam

The picture on the left shows me on Emma's birthday. The one on the right was taken five days ago. I'm huge this time, right? Well, I think I am bigger now than I was on the day I delivered Em. Despite my abnormal uterus and doctors' warnings about low birth weights and premature deliveries, Emma was born a healthy 7 pounds 4 ounces. Kid #2 has a little more room in the womb than Emma did because the bottom of my septum is no longer in tact. I feel him stretching (and punching/kicking) areas of my body that Em never dared to reach. He must be bigger. I'm guessing he'll reach at least 8 pounds, but we shall see. Should we start a poll?

In other news, Em is doing magnificently. She's great at sleeping in her twin bed, except that she fell out last night. Oops. She's still feeling fine and seems pain free on the lower dose of mtx, but since that drug takes several weeks to take effect, it takes several weeks to know if a dose change made a difference or not. I'll keep watching for evil arthritis.

Emma and I watched a video this morning that was taken last summer. Instead of seeing my beautiful, little girl playing at the water park, all I could see was her swollen right knee and her hobbling limp. It made me cry. Mom says I cried because I'm pregnant, and maybe that's true. However, I think it's more than hormones. I will always grieve over the pain caused by Emma's illness. I will always fear it's recurrence. I will always rejoice over her magnificent strength and current medicated remission.

video

I will continue to do my best to raise awareness and funds to help research Juvenile Arthritis treatments and a cure. Emma is one of the lucky ones, and God only knows how long this lucky spell will last. If it weren't for her quick diagnosis and speedy, aggressive treatment, we might not be where we are today. I want other kids to have the results Emma has enjoyed, so I'm going to keep on talking about JA. 

My big girl refusing to smile.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wahooo! & Ahhh!

Wahoo!

Yesterday I had a phone appointment with Emma's rheumatologist. We discussed the fact that Em has been doing wonderfully with no active arthritis for six months now. In the rheumatology world, once you've reached that six month mark, they consider you to be in medicated remission.

That is correct. Emma's mean, ugly Juvenile Arthritis is now in MEDICATED REMISSION!!!!!

Em's "Wahoo!" Face.
Keep in mind that there is no cure for this auto-immune disease, so the goal here is remission. We've reached the first step towards that goal. Hallelujah!

Em's been on two medications for a while now, methotrexate (mtx) and Enbrel. Studies have shown that they work better together, but in adult studies the amount of mtx needed varied widely depending on the patient. We're going to reduce her mtx dose to half of what she's currently getting and see if her joints stay quiet and calm. In case you forgot, methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug. Chemo drugs are scary. I am elated that we get to reduce her dose.

If she is still in medicated remission at the beginning of 2013 and has enjoyed one entire year with no active arthritis, we will take the next step and get her off both drugs. If her joints flare, then we'll have to start her on the meds again. If her arthritis stays quiet... well... I don't even know how to express what I will feel. Let's just pray that it stays away. We'll do a happy dance together if that day comes.

In the mean time, Emma and I will chant, "It doesn't hurt! It doesn't hurt!" every Sunday afternoon during her two injections. Keep your fingers crossed for her and be grateful that you can cross those little fingers without any stiffness or pain.

Ahhh!

Last week, at 32 weeks preggo.
My boy child will be born in exactly six weeks! I think I'm ready, only I'll never be ready. His bedding is washed, and his clothes (teeny, tiny clothes!) are clean and put away. I even cleaned pacifiers, the bouncy chair, the baby swing. I still need to pack my hospital bag, but I think I have time enough for that.

Emma seems fully aware of the fact that this brother person will be coming into her life. She even understands that some things are his and not for her to touch. She's potty trained and doing really well, so that's one less thing I have to stress about with two kids. Em's also been out of the crib and sleeping in a twin bed for the past five nights and is doing a magnificent job, thank goodness. If I can't stand having Liam in a cradle in my room, I can move him to the crib without displacing Emma and causing drama.

As for Liam, he's on the move ALL THE TIME right now. Emma and I have a little joke that he is dancing "The Hokey Pokey" in there. Well, to me it's a joke. I'm certain Em thinks he's actually doing "The Hokey Pokey." I'm okay with that.

Six weeks to go. That's 42 days. Let's hope I can survive the summer heat before then.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tick-Tock

All expecting mothers eventually reach a point in their pregnancy when, instead of counting how many weeks they've been pregnant, they begin to count how many weeks they have left. I have definitely reached that point.

Today, I am exactly EIGHT weeks away from meeting my second child.

HOLY CRAP.

I think most moms have a slight fear when it comes to delivering a baby. We hope we can do it, we believe in our bodies' power and ability, but we secretly fear that something will go wrong. As mothers, our instincts to protect our families kick in very, very early and that slight fear is a powerful force with which to be reckoned. I think c-sections are scary because I don't get to trust in my body's innate abilities, but instead I have to trust in the abilities of my surgical team. Heaven help them.

Anyway, at this time eight weeks from now, I'll be lying in a hospital bed, regaining feeling in my toes, recovering from major abdominal surgery, asking for pain meds, and trying not to scratch my brains out. (The spinal meds made me itch like a crazy last time and I have developed an allergy to the adhesive used in medical tape and band aids. Awesome.) I'll also be nursing *fingers crossed* a newborn, changing tiny diapers, feeling exhausted but too wired to sleep, missing my big girl, and nervous about leaving the helpful staff of the hospital behind.

Only eight weeks left until all craziness breaks loose.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Big Girl & My Big Belly

Emma is growing into a little person right before my eyes. I only have two months left to enjoy being a mother of one, so I'm trying to take extra time to enjoy in my girl before I have to share my attention all the time.

Taking a "nap" with her baby doll.
She is learning so much. She started saying Ls correctly some of the time. The "L" sound has always come out as Y sound at the beginning of words. If you ask what her little brother's name is, she'll say, "Baby Yiam." As of this week, she tries EXTRA hard to get that L sound in there, and it's adorable. She now says "yellow" correctly almost every time.

Unfortunately, Em wakes up between 6 and 6:30 A.M. This has been going on since the start of Spring and I am not a fan.

Emma has crying fits because she wants to be independent. For example, this morning (shortly after 6A.M.) I helped my girl step into her underwear. She had a full-on screaming fit. "Me do it all by myself!!!!!!" She insisted on taking them off only to put them on again, independently. While I love that she wants to do things on her own, I could do without the tantrums.

At least twice a week, when she wakes up (at 6A.M.) she tells me that she wants to wear a dress. A dress?!?! Whose child is this? Help! I have a girly girl on my hands.

We're constantly working on ASKING "May I have _____, please?" instead of just telling me, "Mommy, I want _______." She kind of gets it.

When she wakes up (at SIX A.M.) she shouts from her room, "Mommy! Pick me up! Please!"


Though I don't really feel like I look pregnant all of the time, I REALLY do look pregnant all of the time. When I catch a reflection of myself in a full-length mirror I stop and say, "Woah!"

I'm 30 weeks along and got to hear Liam's heartbeat at the doctor's today. I weigh the same now as I did at this point while pregnant with Emma. That's good news, because I started this pregnancy six pounds heavier than at the start of pregnancy #1. I don't want to gain too much weight because then I have to lose more later. Goodness knows that lazy, old me doesn't want to have to exercise on a regular basis.

I don't sleep so well these nights. Mr. Liam thinks that when I lie down he should start Celtic dancing, doing karate, and practice jumping in a mosh pit, all at once. When his theatrics are over, it takes a while for me to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. An hour later, the dog might bark to wake me so he can go out and pee, or maybe the cat will wake me because she's hungry, or maybe my bladder will wake me because it's full. Who knows? Last night, when recounting my regularly broken sleep to my husband, he said, "No wonder you're crazy."

Em took this one all by herself. She didn't even throw a tantrum first.
Despite being crazy, I feel like a very successful super-mom this week. I took two toddlers to the zoo one day, then to the park and library the next. I did lots of laundry - which I enjoy this time of year because I get to hang things outside to dry and that makes me happy. I even made delicious, beautiful dinners TWO nights in a row. I feel healthy and very happy, aside from being tired because I sleep in two-hour chunks and start my days at 6 A.M.

It's hot outside, my house is cool, and life is good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our First JAnniversary

Love those normal knees!
What?

A year ago I had never heard of Juvenile Arthritis. I didn't know kids could even get arthritis. That changed pretty quickly.

One year ago today, Emma started to limp in such a way that could not be ignored. For two days she had been waddling in the mornings and I knew something wasn't right. I attributed it to the tetanus shot she'd gotten in her leg at her 15 month check up a few days before, because those things HURT. However, on the 15th of May, 2011, things were worse. That was the beginning of Emma's real pain. She couldn't stand in the mornings and would cry if I made her. When I sat her on the floor she stayed instead of chasing after me. I carried her until after breakfast, then I made her walk it off and start moving, but all day long she was really limping.

That's when we noticed the swollen ankle. Then came the X-ray, the blood work, and more swollen, stiff joints. It wasn't long afterward that I heard the words "Juvenile Arthritis" for the first time.

Thank heaven for Emma's pediatrician who suspected what this really was and diagnosed her promptly. Thank goodness for my dad's friend who has connections and got us in to the rheumatologist swiftly. The average time for diagnosis of autoimmune arthritis is one to three years. It took only TWO MONTHS from the onset of Em's limp to the start of her methotrexate treatment. How much permanent damage might she have if Emma hadn't received quick, aggressive treatment?

This year has brought a wide range of experiences. Pain, stiffness, doctors, oral medications, tears, relief from pain, weekly injections, blood draws, more doctors, more tears, more relief, regained range of motion, decreased swelling, no more oral meds, more laughter, more smiles. Tears of joy.

I have been introduced to a wonderful community of fellow JA families and have gained strength and information from parents who know our struggle. That has been a huge blessing in my life and I am thankful for the friends I have made this year.


Here's the good news: Emma has NO ACTIVE ARTHRITIS.
She started getting Enbrel in October, and once it kicked in things improved rapidly. Em's rheumatologist found no active arthritis during our January and April check ups. If that's still the case in July, then Em will be consider in medical remission! If things continue in this awesome trend, we'll likely treat for a year, then try to wean off meds!

Since JA is typically a lifelong disease, I'm hoping, praying, and keeping my fingers crossed that my girl goes into remission, even if it's only temporary. I want my kid to have a few years of a "normal" childhood, free of pain.

So, a very happy JAnniversary to you, my Emma.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Walk This Way

Last weekend we participated in our first Arthritis Foundation Arthritis Walk. It was similar to the Jingle Bell Run/Walk we did in December, except it wasn't timed. Also, we were in L-town this time, which is less scenic and hotter than Monterey, where we walked in December.

Thanks to so many friends, we had a very large team supporting us. Twenty of us walked on Team Emma. More were signed up online, which is support enough for me. If we walk again next year, I'm going to make matching t-shirts and get a group photo. We have managed to raise $1,302 so far, and I think a few more checks are on their way. I am impressed that we raised so much money, especially since I am not too fired up about fundraising. A HUGE THANK YOU to those of you who donated.

The whole event was a lot of fun. There were several booths with games for kids. There was a big bounce house with a slide that Emma desperately wanted to go into. However, once inside she was a bit intimidated and came out again. She did get her face painted, which was very lovely.

When the walk started, we were towards the end because I had been standing in a long line to use the bathroom. I'm a smart pregnant lady who knows that it is best to go pee before taking a three-mile walk. Good thing, too, because there were no potties along the way. Our team stuck together for a good part of the walk, then we started spreading out. As we approached the half-way mark, where you turn around and head back, I took a detour. It was motivated partially by my bladder, and partially by a desire to say hello to my friend, Dawn, who was riding in a gymkhana nearby. I got to talk to Dawn, pet her lovely horse, and use a port-o-potty.










During the 1.5 mile walk back, I started to tire out. I'm 6 months pregnant and was suffering from allergies so we cheated by taking a short-cut at the end. When we reached our finish line, they fed us hot dogs! That was a wonderful surprise, because everyone was hungry!

Grammie & The Bean!
I feel fairly good about raising funds for The Arthritis Foundation. They have a free family education day about Juvenile Arthritis. We went to that this year and learned a tiny bit, but mostly it was about stuff I already know. They also hold a Family JA Conference each year, which I'm hoping we can attend next summer. When Emma's older, she can go to a camp that they have especially for kids with JA. I like all of these things, but I'd love to see the Arthritis Foundation raise more awareness about Juvenile Arthritis

Just so you know, there's a very cool non-profit out there called International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement that works to raise awareness that autoimmune arthritis is very different from osteoarthritis. I think that's a pretty important thing to do. I'm all about raising awareness.

Okay. I'm done blabbing on about JA. Until next week...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Emma Knows Some New Tricks

I've spent a bunch of time the past few weeks teaching Emma skills that will help her through her life, because that's what mommies do.

First, I am proud to say, the girl is POTTY TRAINED! We've been virtually accident free for about two weeks. She's still in a diaper during her nap and over night, but that's a-okay with me. She's amazing and I am thankful that she caught on so quickly. I was afraid this was going to be one of those highly frustrating parenting experiences, but it was no big deal. Thank goodness.

Proof that potty training has its ups and downs.
Secondly, she finally knows the names of more colors than just pink. We have been using jelly beans to help her learn. We've got a bunch of Trader Joe's natural jelly beans that are delicious. If she can name the right color, I'll let her eat a bean. Talk about motivation. She's pretty much mastered red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, dark pink, and white.

Isn't she so great?