Monday, April 30, 2012

I just want answers

Today we had an exhausting afternoon.  Tera had her appointment with the allergist for what I've assumed is part of her ongoing sinus and respiratory issues.  After a lengthy conversation about her health issues, they tested her for allergies to dogs, cats, mold, dust mites, mice, and roaches.  The good news is she isn't allergic to any of those things.  The bad news is I feel like we wasted our time and Tera's comfort for no new news. 

Today was one of those days when the frustration of everything became overwhelming.  She has so many issues that could be contributing to various health concerns, but we never know for sure what's causing what or even if anything we're thinking of has anything to do with anything else.  After waiting a half hour to see the doctor with a very antsy little girl and then an almost an hour total of questions, testing, and discussions, we found out she's not allergic to anything they would suspect and instead opted to do some blood work to eliminate any immune disorders that could be making her more susceptible to germs.  When the lab technician couldn't find her vein, we called it quits and said we'd get the blood work done at her pediatrician's office; we'd all been through enough. 

As we sat there waiting to be called for her blood work (before we decided to leave) it all kind of hit me again.  I'm tired of not knowing what's wrong with her.  I know we've been lucky because we haven't dealt with anything very serious, aside from the pneumonia, but it's so incredibly frustrating to keep guessing what might be the issue.  She's always congested it seems.  But is it a cold? I used to wonder about allergies, but apparently that's not the case.  Is it a sinus infection? Is it a cold that will inevitably turn into a sinus infection? Does she have the beginnings of a sinus infection currently that is causing her to cough a horrible nasty cough that makes me wonder if she'll get pneumonia again?

Half the times that I'm talking to a doctor I'm wondering if they're thinking I'm overreacting because I'm wondering the same thing too.  I read a lot of posts in my forum and for the most part I think it keeps me informed, but sometimes I wonder if it makes me jump to conclusions. But there are some things that I just don't like and I don't think she should have to live with.  I think there should be a reason why she's always congested.  If she gets these sinus infections so frequently, why is she getting them and shouldn't there be something we can do to alleviate them? I want to know a more definitive way of determining a sinus infection; it seems like even the doctors are kind of guessing some of the times.  I don't blame them for this, I'm aware that despite my wishes, there isn't a definitive test for sinus infections, it's just frustrating.  I don't think she should have to strain so regularly when she's trying to go to the bathroom.  It makes me want to cry knowing how uncomfortable she seems to be when she's trying. 

I know there no answers to these questions or solutions to these problems, I'm just freaking tired of not knowing anything besides the fact that she doesn't seem healthy.   I want to know how to know what's wrong with her, how to fix it, and how to make sure it doesn't happen again.  Tom and I both feel that there will be something wrong by the end of the week.  This is not negative thinking, it's just based on past experience.  It more than bothers me that her cough sounds just like it did when she had pneumonia and that she's been congested for so long.  The question is, when do I take her in again? The allergist said it's not a sinus infection yet, but that it could become one.  We'll see...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A little humor to end the weekend

Since I'm already dreading tomorrow, I'm going to finish out the weekend on a humorous note.  Do you ever experience something only to think to yourself that things like that only happen on sitcoms? That would be our morning today. *Disclaimer: if you are not a fan of poop stories, you may want to skip over this one. 

I got up with Tera, gave her her bottle and we relaxed a little in bed.  We had plans to go visit my sister and brother-in-law at their new place with my grandma so while not rushed, we wanted to move things along.  She ate breakfast and then I had to give her a bath before we left. 

To preface this story, changing Tera lately, whether it's clothes or just her diaper, has rivaled something from WWF wrestling.  There is yelling, laughing, crying, and frustration involved most times.  She had spent the morning pooping every 45 minutes so I was already tired of our little matches, but I got her out of her clothes and into the tub.  I have to admit, I was already a little worried about bath time because as I said, she had been pooping every 45 minutes.  We've already experienced one pooping in the tub incident and I was slightly concerned that today there would be an encore performance.  She had been playing for a few minutes when the tell tale look appeared on her face.  Tom was in the bathroom with me so he left immediately to go get the litter scooper for the cat (as I said, she's done this before and this seemed to work the best for clean up) and clean it off to use in case we needed it.  Within minutes it had happened.  I moved her to the other end of the tub while we started draining the water and fortunately it was easy to clean up. 

At that point I decided play time was over and we just needed to get her cleaned up and out of there.  So I started shampooing her hair and all of a sudden I realized she was going to do it again.  And she did.  Twice.  This time, we were not so fortunate on the clean up front.  There was no way we could clean it up quickly, she had to come out of the tub.  With the shampoo in her hair.  So I was holding our dripping wet kid with the sudsy hair on the sink in the bathroom while Tom attempted to clean up the poop fragments in the tub.  Not only did this kid not stop moving, but she was slippery and she can't really stand up for that long.  She was also laughing and trying to make faces at herself in the mirror behind her.  I was alternating having her stand in the sink and on the counter top all the while yelling for Tom to hurry up because she still had shampoo in her hair and was dripping and slippery.  He's yelling that he's trying and she was still laughing and smiling.  As he finished up, she proceeded to pee all over me and the bathroom sink.  At that point, I almost couldn't hold her up anymore because she was still slippery and wiggling and then I was laughing hysterically, as was Tom, while trying to scoop out the poop.  He got the tub cleaned up, we put her back in, and she proceeded to try and pull herself up to stand while I had to wash her off.  So then he's holding her down, I'm spraying her down, and she's still laughing and trying to stand up. 

We finally get her out of the tub and back in her room and we then reentered the world of wrestling.  Tom had to hold her down again while I got  her dried up and dressed and we finally we were able to put her down and we both just wanted to collapse. 

About ten minutes later my grandma arrived to an angelic looking little girl who you never would have imagined could have just caused the chaos she had.

We now have to go fall into bed from the exhaustion we both feel after chasing around the Energizer bunny that we call Tera. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thank you!!!!

While the weather sucked outside, we had a perfectly wonderful day.  Tom got up with Tera this morning allowing me at least a few extra minutes of half-sleep (I'll take what I can get) and then somehow, Tera fell back asleep in our bed a little after 7am for over a half hour! I can't remember her doing that since she was seven or eight months old, but it worked out really well because she got a little bit of a nap in before we had to run errands.  We picked up coffee, went grocery shopping, picked up a few things at the mall, and picked up our newly framed picture for our living room.  This afternoon my brother-in-law and sister-in-law stopped by for a visit with Tera and she got to play with her aunt and uncle. 

It was a relaxing start to the day, we got some stuff done, but we weren't crazy busy.  Now tonight we're just sitting back at home and watching another hockey game.  I'm not sure our TV will know what to do once the playoffs are done.

One thing that I wanted to do tonight though was take a minute and really thank every single person that has donated and/or registered as a member of Team Tera for the Gigi's Playhouse 5K Fun Run/Walk.  Last year Tom and I were completely blown away by the support and donations we got for Team Tera which ended up totalling just a little over $5000! Not bad considering Tera was only four months old at the time.  This year we set our goal at $5000, but we're hoping we can do just a little better than that and the support we've received already shows us that we just might be able to do that. 

This was a really great event last year because there is something for everyone.  We came in 3rd place last year and ended up getting our own tent.  We had about fifteen people registered and obviously a ton of donations.  This year we already have over thirty people registered for our team! We have such an incredible support system and this event is just one outstanding example of that.

The really great part about this is that we have people that we don't even know donating to us.  Obviously the donations are great, but it also means that awareness is being spread to that many more people.  I've received multiple emails from people both last year and this year telling us what a great organization Gigi's is and how they know other people who've benefited from Gigi's services and support. 

I just can't even describe well enough how much everything everyone has done for this has meant to us.  Our team consists of family, friends, friends of our family, family of our friends, former students, and coworkers.  After Tera was born this event gave me something positive to focus on while I was still dealing with the news of her diagnosis and the support everyone gave us just reminded me how we'll always be able to handle anything that comes our way.  This year I just feel an overwhelming urge to make sure that the organization that has welcomed us and helped us through the past year, is able to continue doing that for other families. 


If you are still interested in joining or donating, please visit our team site at:
http://www.events.org/GIGI01/sponsorshipteams.aspx?event=42964&team=706



The event takes place Sunday June 10th at the Arboretum in South Barrington.  Registration starts at 7:30 am and is $25 for adults and $10 for kids before the day of the event and $35 for adults the day of the event.  Tom and I are co-chairing from the McHenry Playhouse for the first time and we're very excited to be helping out this year.  We also just found out that Lauren Potter from Glee will be at the walk and will be visiting all the top teams! Should be a great day!








Friday, April 27, 2012

Wants and wishes

A few minutes ago Tom told me about an article he was reading about parents who were given an unbelievably short time to enjoy their baby.  As the result of a terminal disease, the parents were told they could expect to only have their baby for a little more than one more year.  The parents in turn created a bucket list for their daughter. 

After wiping the tears from my eyes and being told I wasn't allowed to actually read the article, for obvious reasons, I started thinking, in a less morbid way, about what kinds of things other parents think about as wishes for their kids. 

I've written before about things I have wished for Tera and thinking too much about things like this is exactly what made her diagnosis so hard to accept at the beginning.  It's not as difficult anymore because I realize that not all of those things have to change.

We are overplanners.  We spent weeks researching our first vacuum cleaner (and it paid off, it was great).  We read reviews on the most minor of purchases, we do comparison shopping, we subscribe to Consumer Reports, and we check forums.  Before I got pregnant we knew we wanted to be due in March and that I would take the rest of the year off.  I had my bag packed for the hospital six weeks before I was due.  I kind of had a birth plan, but we were very flexible with it and fortunately I wasn't that hung up on it because it would have been thrown right out the window when we found out I was ready to push ten minutes after being admitted.  One might have thought given this information that we would have opted for prenatal testing, but we didn't and I don't regret it for a second.  That did of course result in what was probably the biggest surprise of our lives. 

In hindsight, here's why I'm glad I didn't know anything ahead of time: had we known that Tera would have DS, I would have spent months worrying and trying to plan for something that we just wouldn't have known enough about.  I might have expected all the worst case scenarios about health and development and I wouldn't know that those things wouldn't be as scary as they might have seemed at the time.  And I wouldn't have known that I could want even more for her than I ever imagined. 

Here are the things that I want Tera to do: have a best friend, get her nails done with me, go shopping with me, help her dad and odd-father work on car stereos, help her dad with home projects, fly on a plane to visit her grandparents and aunt, have a crush on a boy, go on a date, go to Disney World, visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, drive a car, love hockey and figure skating and watch it with me like I used to with my grandma when I was younger, bake Christmas cookies with her YiaYia and I, meet regularly for coffee with her Nani and I, go shopping and have sleepovers with her aunts, learn to play guitar and play with her uncle and grandpas, play video games with her uncles and dad, love school, learn to ice skate, go to Blackhawk games with her grandpa, explain to her classmates the difference between authentic and replica jerseys, love to read, love math, learn another language, have more patience than I do and be able to just sit down and watch a whole movie with her dad without doing something else at the same time.  I know there so many more things, but I'll just have to write them down and share them later. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

14 months today

Today Tera is 14 months old.  Every time I hear the word toddler I think to myself that it doesn't apply to Tera because she's still a baby, but I'm thinking 14 months does in fact fall into the toddler category.  As I told one of my classes this today, one of my students that I also had last year, commented that it seemed like I was just pregnant.  Oh how many things I didn't know back then. 

When Tera turned 13 months I pulled out her baby book all ready to update her information and realized that it only updates monthly for the first year.  I could probably tell myself that I could just start a scrapbook and custom design it and make a new book for year two, but let's not kid ourselves.  I still have a crosstitch that traditionally is done before the baby is born and a Christmas stocking that most definitely is traditionally done BEFORE Christmas, so I figure I might as well just do my updates on here seeing as how I already do this and would probably include everything here anyway. 

This past Tuesday Tera had a checkup with her endocrinologist for her thyroid.  Her levels all looked good and we don't need to adjust her medication at all so that was all good news.  They weighed and measured her and according to their scale, with all her clothes on, she was 18 lbs 15 oz.  This is about a full pound more than she was after she got sick with the pneumonia and then also after her stomach virus two weeks ago.  I'll probably check her with our scale this weekend just to see how the numbers compare and see how close the two numbers are.  This puts her in the, wait for it, the 4th percentile for weight! That's right, she went from the 2nd percentile all the way to the 4th! Her height, which is definitely hard to measure on small children, actually seems to have to gone down by a very small amount since her last checkup, but as I'm fairly certain she hasn't shrunk in the last four months, I'm guessing it just means she hasn't grown at all.  She's now down to the 11th percentile for height.  I'm getting kind of used to my petite little girl so these numbers down bother me, it's just who she is. 

She now pretty much eats any type of food.  And I mean ANY.  We have identified two foods that she doesn't seem to like and one that just doesn't seem like a good idea: Salmon, hard boiled eggs, and sweet Italian sausage (it was apparently still a little too spicy).  She seems to love mushrooms, kidney beans (which she eats right out of the can and by the handful), cheerios, noodles, lima beans, peas, chicken, grilled cheese, scrambled egg, tortillas, waffles, pancakes, peaches, pears, strawberries, bananas, and probably some other things I'm forgetting. 

This week alone she got her first tooth, started pulling herself up, and is just a little closer to crawling. We have a very nice relaxing weekend planned so we'll see what she can accomplish then.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My other kids

Last night one of my seniors from last year posted some pictures on Facebook that we had taken in advisory last year.  They were from only about a week before Tera was born and I had completely forgotten about them until I saw them this morning.

Here is one of the best parts of my job;  I get to know some amazing kids that turn into even more amazing adults.  I am privileged to develop relationships that have lasted years beyond when they leave high school.  There are so many days, especially at this time of year, when the frustration of things almost becomes too much.  But then I am reminded of the truly special students I've had and I know that it's worth it.  I've had two completely unique and fabulous advisories since I started teaching.  I didn't always think that because each group had their own unique "personalities" that made me want to pull my hair out at times, but despite those mischievous moments, I loved them.

When my first advisory graduated, I was lucky enough to be able to sit by three of them during graduation and when that final song played, I cried.  I swore to them when they were freshmen I would be counting the days until they graduated and on that final day, I wasn't sure what I was going to do without them.  Fortunately I still talk to many of them and I can't believe how lucky I am to still have so many of them in my life. 

When my second advisory came along, I wasn't sure how they would compare to my first one.  They definitely filled the void filled by my first one, but not at first.  My love, and patience, for them came slowly just like my first group.  And just like my first group, they were their own challenge.  But these kids came to my baby shower, they voted me teacher of the year when I wasn't even with them for three months, they texted and called me after Tera was born and told me how beautiful she was, they came to visit us at my house while I was on leave, and I definitely cried again at graduation.  They always check to see how she's doing, they adore her, and they've carried their ever growing personalities into successful freshmen years in college and I couldn't be prouder of them.

I will say, I still half expect to see them in the halls at school and when I realize they're gone, I miss them all over again.   I'm not sure how my current advisory will measure up, it's still too early to tell, but I don't necessarily have the same feel for them that I did for my other two.  Part of it may be that I'm in such close contact with both my previous advisories, that I'm not ready for a group to replace them.  Either way, I'm so glad I was able to see those pictures, it reminds me yet again why I do this...

Some of my advisory students "with Tera".  They definitely made me cry when they gave me this picture in a frame after Tera was born.  It currently sits on her bookshelf with all her other pictures. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Well hello Dr.

Today was just another day in the life of Tera.  Another day and another doctor visit.

The day started off well enough.  Very well in fact considering it was a Monday and we all know my disdain for Mondays.  But on the way to work I just kept thinking about Tera's new tooth (I know it seems silly to be this excited for a tooth, we've just been waiting a long time it seems) and when I would think about that I would picture this new face she makes where she looks really far to one to side with just her eyes (I think she just figured out her eyes could do that) and it looks like she's making shifty eyes.  It was literally making me laugh out loud while in the car by myself.  Also, we have a little bit of an easier week because of PSAE's so we only have three actual days of classes and that was making today being a Monday much easier to take than usual. I wouldn't have thought I would have been in as good a mood as I was considering I haven't slept well in three nights, but for whatever the reason, I was in a good mood. 

The day went by fairly easily and I left right after school to run to Target since we're busy the rest of the week.  When I was about ten minutes away from the store, Tera's school called and said she had pink eye.  I hung up frustrated that yet again she was being sent home sick and that I was going to have to miss yet another day of work.  After calling Tom, we decided it was a good idea to take her to the doctor and since I had left early, I actually had time to get her into the walk-in hours. 

The doctor told me he was sure she didn't have pink eye but that she probably is just suffering from congestion again, due either to a cold or allergies, and it's literally coming out her eyes.  Another $15 later, we have a note saying that she does not have pink eye and can actually go back to school tomorrow.  We think this may be around the fifth time they've thought she had pink eye, and I completely understand their position, don't get me wrong, it's just frustrating because I don't think she's ever actually had it. 

So here's how our next week or so goes.  Today was an unexpected doctor visit, tomorrow is her check up with her endocrinologist, Wednesday she has two therapies, Thursday she has speech therapy, and then we have a few days off before she goes to an allergist for the first time to see if we can't identify some of her issues and hopefully alleviate some of this congestion and eye craziness.  The best part of the allergist appointment? They told us to plan for a 2-3 hour visit.  How the hell I'm supposed to distract and/or entertain an antsy one year old for that long remains to be seen.  She could barely contain herself for the twenty minute visit we had today. 

And now for our good news for the day:  apparently Tera pulled herself to standing while in her crib at school today! We were able to witness it a little later tonight and it's just so incredible to see how she can not be doing something at all one day and then do it constantly the next day.  She continues to amaze us literally every day, in so many ways.

She was intently watching the Hawks pre-game

Sunday, April 22, 2012

When will she...

I have a few different ideas floating around my head right now, so I'll just see where this goes.

I had a fabulous day with Tera yesterday; she was so good, but I forgot what it's like to spend a day with her when she's healthy, that kid doesn't stop moving! I was exhausted by the end of the day.  We visited with my mom and aunt for coffee, went grocery shopping, and then went to visit my sister and brother-in-law at their new house. 

We were able to see their beautiful new home, pick up Tom so he didn't have to drive home after his three hours of sleep and moving, and visit with two of Tera's three grandpas.  By the time we got home, Tera was completely asleep and Tom and I were ready for bed.  At 8:45 I made some popcorn, headed up to bed, we watched the first period of Hawks game, and we both fell asleep. 

Today was a wonderfully relaxing day filled with a lot of, "what do we want to do now?" This is very unusual for us and so it was a very welcome problem.  I was finally able to sit down at one point and look through the list of strategies that her therapists had come up with during her one year review a month ago.  There are multiple pages of things for us to be working on and I've found it helpful in the past to highlight the things we want to focus on. 

Unfortunately the past few days have been somewhat more difficult for me where her development is concerned.  While I know that she will eventually do most of the things other kids do, and that it just may take her longer, sometimes that's a harder pill to swallow than other days.  Most of the time I just accept that her development is at her own pace and I'm fine with it.  Then there are other stretches when I wonder how long it will take her to be able to do the same things other kids her age are doing.  Two or three of my bigger concerns now are crawling, walking, and any kind of communication.

I sometimes feel like she isn't close to crawling just because she doesn't really have a reason to.  This kid can scoot along the floor on her belly super fast and I wonder what her motivation will be to not just keep doing that.  Slightly more concerning is the fact that I don't think she's anywhere near walking.  It's hard for me sometimes to hear people say that I should just count my blessings because as soon as she's walking she gets into everything.  And that's easy to say when your kid is already doing it.  Mine isn't and won't be for some time.  She just doesn't seem to have the lower body strength and I really wonder when it will happen. 

The biggest reason I am anxious for this is because whenever we go somewhere, mostly public places, and she starts to get antsy, we can't just put her down and let her stretch out.  We have to hold her or at most, let her sit in a high chair or regular chair and it gets really frustrating for all of us because she just gets cranky and we get uncomfortable trying to hold in her less restrictive positions. 

Communication is a tough one for me too.  I'm not expecting words by any means; but I'd settle for a sound different from "b".  She doesn't even really say "d's" anymore and she definitely has not added any new sounds.  I'm also wondering when it is reasonable for her to be able to start signing or even recognize the signs we've been using for a while. 

However, despite all these concerns, we did have one really exciting development tonight.  And when I say exciting I mean Tom and I were literally on the phone with our moms moments after the discovery.

She has a tooth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At the tender age of just about 14 months, our little stink finally has her first tooth! Tom thought he felt it earlier tonight and we confirmed it after dinner.  I don't remember the last time we were both so excited.  

So she now has almost one tooth and we can finally legitimately attribute things to teething without laughing at ourselves.  I'm really hoping by the time she has speech on Thursday for the first time in a month, she's added the letter "m" into her repertoire, but I'm not holding my breath...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Just me and my girl

So tomorrow Tera and I are flying solo.  My very wonderful husband graciously offered to help my sister and brother-in-law move from Springfield back up to our lovely Chicagoland area and has to actually go down to Springfield to do that.  After some discussion we pretty much figured it didn't make sense for me to go down there with Tera because visiting wasn't going to happen and I'd be pretty much watching her the whole time, so a plan was devised.  Since Tom has hockey tonight and is usually wide awake for a while afterwards, they decided that he and my sister would drive down there tonight, they'd load the truck up tomorrow morning, and head back home tomorrow afternoon. 

For the past few days I've been wondering what Tera and I can do together and also how I was going to get stuff done.  And then it occurred to me, I did this for six months.  Before I went back to work, all I did for six straight months was take care of her by myself during the days, and we did just fine.  I'm not exactly sure what I thought was going to be different. 

Apparently my being a working mom has made me doubt my own ability to be just a mom and I don't like it.  When I was home with Tera last year I never wondered what I would do with myself or her for a day, things just happened.  During that time I wondered how I would make it through my day knowing I wasn't with her and now when I have the opportunity to have a day where it's just the two of us, I wonder what to do.  I've obviously had days home with her by myself since then, mostly when she's been sick, but for some reason this seemed different; probably because Tom was going to be gone overnight this time.  Either way, I'm not worried how we'll fill the day.  Usually things that used to take 15 minutes take an hour these days anyway.  As it is I'll have to shower and she needs a bath so that's at least two hours right there.  Also on our agenda is meeting my mom for coffee and grocery shopping. 

I will admit the grocery shopping with Tera was concerning me not because of her, but because our grocery store of choice is usually a mad house on the weekends. I'm not a person who loves crowds so I'm mostly not a fan of being there in general, but seeing Tera laugh, smile, and charm every person that walks by her should make the trip more interesting. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ahh, memories

Today Tera had to get blood drawn for her endocrinologist appointment on Tuesday and she did great! They were finally able to find a vein so they could get the blood that way instead of having to do the torturous finger stick and after some tears when the needle went in (quite understandable) she was fine.  The hardest part, besides having to hold her still, was knowing that she was in any pain at all and of course that she has to go through this regularly.  But once again I remember that things could be so much worse and the whole experience only took about five minutes so all things considered, it was not a big deal. 

Earlier this week I had a doctor's appointment in the same building where Tera was born and stayed for the first seven days of her life.  I've been back there once before, about a year ago for my check up after she was born, but now a whole year has passed.  As I walked up to the elevator I passed by the little waiting room where we spent several evenings eating heated up leftovers or food people had picked up for us after I had been discharged and Tera was still in the NICU.  I rode up the elevator where I had ridden up by myself when I was in labor with her while Tom parked the car and where Tom and I had gone up and down from the floor my room was on to the one the NICU was on.  We had ridden that elevator at all hours of the day and night visiting and feeding her.  I had broken down in tears in there several times when the realization of what was happening hit me and when I was discharged and we were officially leaving the hospital without her. 

After my appointment I took the stairs back down and when I reached each of the floors where Tera and I had been, I saw the sitting area where Tom had told so many of our family and friends about Tera's diagnosis and that she was in the NICU and that only a few people could see her, and where we had camped out in between her feedings to catch up on some sleep and respond to emails about her updates. 

When I walked out of the building, the sun was shining and while I didn't have my girl with me, I knew that she was at school just waiting for me to pick her up.  Needless to say my 20 minute visit had left me quite emotional and nostalgic.  Fortunately I don't have to go there often or I would be a (bigger) mess. 
Look at that peach fuzz on her head!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Let me explain...

I try to stay away from controversy here because I don't want this to be a platform for it; however, I do also believe that it is my post so I can voice an opinion.  What I want to talk about is not a huge deal, but does go against what a lot of people on my forum believe. 

I am not an easily offended person.  Many of you know that already and I've stated it numerous times.  I think I've found myself even less offended since Tera has been born because I've found that a lot of people just want to say the right thing and get so nervous they're going to say the wrong thing that a good intention comes out a little "off".  I guess my perspective is this: I already have a lot of my time taken up by things I'd rather not do so I don't want to waste any more time worrying about how somebody phrased something to me.

Let me put it this way: if you want to piss me off and want to say something to hurt me, that's your choice, I probably just won't talk to you anymore or I'll try unsuccessfully to pretend I'm okay with you.  But if you just want to ask a question or you truly don't understand something, I'm more than willing to answer or clarify so that should you come across someone who does care, they won't be offended.  Obviously what I'm referring to has mostly to do with DS, but it applies to many other things as well. 

I'm a teacher and I've always told my students that my job is to educate them in many arenas, not just math.  I feel the same way about my personal life. I feel like part of my role as Tera's mom, and that of a parent of a kid with DS, is to help educate people on the nuances of this crazy little extra chromosome. 

Where all this rambling is going is to a topic that has actually come up in conversation with many people lately (I'm not sure why all at once, but whatever) and that is the "severity" of DS. 

Just to clarify: DS is not a spectrum disorder like autism.  You can't kind of have DS; you either have it or you don't.  There is a type of DS called mosaicism which does tend to have fewer of the characteristics typical of DS, but it is still DS nonetheless.  Many people post in my forum about coming across individuals that say things like, "he must just have a mild case", or "are they high functioning?" The first statement just can't happen.  DS affects all the cells in a person's body, not just some of them so there are no mild, moderate, or severe cases of DS.  However, the term "high functioning" can actually somewhat be applied. 

My husband, who is incredibly blunt and really doesn't get offended, basically put it as, there are plenty of typical individuals who function at a higher level than others and there is no major faux pas happening there.  We refer to students as high achieving, so why not high functioning?

If a person asks whether my child is high functioning, I assume they mean to ask how is she developing in comparison to a typical kid.  There is going to be variance in the DS community of individuals just like there is in the typical community, it's just a part of life.  Tera did some things like roll earlier than some other kids we know with DS, but she sat a little later and we're still waiting for sounds other than D's and B's to come out.  She's incredibly active and engaged, but she's not crawling yet.  She's very strong, but she doesn't seem to recognize familiar words yet. 

So if you want to know whether Tera really has DS or just kind of has DS, I'll probably give you the cliff notes version of how the cells split incorrectly and that every one of the million cells in her body has this little issue which is why its effects are so widespread.  But if you want to know if she's high functioning, I'll probably tell you yes, of course, my child is incredible and will probably be the first person with DS to be accepted to Harvard on a full scholarship because she's just that amazing.  But seriously, yes I think she is.  She's only mildly delayed in physical and developmental areas and a little more in speech.  But she's only one.  We have LOTS of time to work with her to make sure her application and essay are complete and off the charts impressive.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Not exactly pefect

So while it turned out that Tera did not wake up entirely covered in bumps, she was still covered enough to be sent home from school, again.  Another visit to the doctor with dad and $15 later, she has a note to return confirming what we already knew; she is one of the lucky 5% to experience a rash as a side effect of one or both of her vaccines. 

So she spent the second half of her day home with dad and I was lucky enough to be able to spend some quality play time with her tonight.  She didn't nap well again today, probably because she's congested during the day lately, and was ready for bed by 6:45 but this time she fell asleep during her bottle, laid her head on my shoulder and went right to sleep.  These are the nights I live for. 

This past weekend I was on my way back from some errands and was driving through a rather upscale neighborhood near our house.  As I drove through and admired the huge houses and how they are probably not trying to figure out how they can store extra towels behind their bathroom mirror due to a small linen closet, I started thinking about "perfect" families.  There is a lot you can dream about or imagine when you look at someone's house without knowing anything about them. 

I see these houses and I imagine the stereotypical 2.5 kids with the proverbial white picket fence, the parents are happily married, the kids excel in school, college funds are funded, traditions are celebrated, sports are played, and there are neighborhood block parties where all neighbors actually know and socialize with each other.  A bit too tv-ish? Perhaps, but those shows are based on someone somewhere. 

I think about these things and I wonder if people drive by our house, which is nowhere near as estate-like but is probably a step up for somebody and makes us happy, and think the same thing about us, and I laugh.

I'm sure to some people, Tom and I live that stereotypical suburban life.  We dated each other in high school, graduated from college with your somewhat traditional business and teaching degrees, got jobs pretty quickly, got married, bought a house, two cars, dog, cat, and after a few years, had a kid.

Here's what is not evident to the average onlooker.  I drive a full size truck and Tom drives a Mini Cooper.  This tends to throw people off a little, especially when they see the two vehicles parked in our garage next to each other.  Our dog is and always has been "special".  She's a quirky little canine that has had more issues than I care to list here (one is that she hates the rain and usually has to be accompanied by an umbrella) but is amazingly loving and crazy loyal.  Our cat is one of the only felines that I've ever known to be afraid of heights, she likes to lick our bedpost, and will sleep on any piece of clothing left out.

Our house's decor is, well, different to say the least.  It's a style that suits us perfectly but leaves some people wondering what the hell they've gotten themselves into when they enter.  We also have some kind of unique features in our house courtesy of my incredibly talented and creative husband (the reference above to towels behind the bathroom mirror is one of his latest ingenious ideas that involves putting my bathroom mirror on a tv swing arm so I can use the space behind it). 

Oh yeah, then there's our kid.  She was destined to be a little different from the start.  She has a decent collection of boys clothes (not hand me downs by the way), her room is decorated in Star Wars, she has a Monster High doll, she's encouraged to yell frequently, her bedroom playlist and bedtime music include Pantera and Mudvayne among others, she has had and probably will have a mohawk again, and her first birthday party had a Blackhawks theme.  There's also that whole visiting the doctor on an almost weekly basis and having four therapists to evaluate her every move. 

What all this meant to me was that our life is not the picture of suburban perfection, and I love it.  I don't love, especially lately, the one the thing that has really set Tera apart from most other kids, but it too is a part of our weird little life.  We live our life in a way that makes us happy.  Sure sometimes we enjoy the shock value (for the record, I really never rebelled before I was 25), but mostly we do what we feel is "us".  Our friends and our family mostly get it, we get the occasional rolling of the eyes, but they love us no matter what. 

And no matter how open minded I am, I will probably continue to assume the same things about those crazy big houses; I'm sure I'm mostly wrong, but I can't help it. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rough night

How exactly does someone unwind after spending almost 30 minutes straight of trying to hold onto and get to sleep a screaming, writhing, hysterical child? I have no idea, but I'm accepting suggestions.  As anyone who has read my posts before will know, I'm not a fan of Sunday nights.  I know, it's still the weekend and I should use the time to de-stress not re-stress, but apparently my body doesn't work like that.  Some days are better than others and I can just go to bed and wake up accepting, but not really liking, that my week and all it entails is starting all over again.  Other days, that's a little harder. 

After having spent about eleven days straight of worrying about some part or multiple parts of Tera's health, I'm exhausted.  It hasn't just been one thing with her, it's been a combination of things and that combination has changed throughout those eleven days.  This morning I thought we had finally rounded the corner and were on our way back to "normalcy".

She ate breakfast like a champ, back to her usual self.  She didn't take a morning nap, but yesterday she didn't either and slept for an hour and a half in the afternoon and ended up staying up until after 9pm.  So today when she did the same thing, I assumed we'd still be okay.  At around 5:30pm she started getting cranky and tired and around 6:30 I caved and got her ready for bed.  But that was not going to happen.  We tried a few times to get her to sleep because she was exhausted, but it wasn't working so we just brought her back downstairs where she played for another hour.  At 8pm, Tom tried putting her down again. She still wouldn't sleep.

So I went up there and literally had to just hold onto her while she twisted, squirmed, kicked, screamed and cried for almost a half hour. 

Her body is covered in little red bumps as a side effect of her vaccines last week and once again I've seen her rubbing her left ear on her shoulder and so of course, my mind goes into worry mode once again.  This evening's bedtime antics are highly unlike her and I have to wonder if there's something else at work that's causing her discomfort. 

I would like to think that when she wakes up in the morning she'll be her usual self and we'll make it through the whole week without any phone calls.  But thinking a little more realistically, I'm worried she'll wake up with her whole body covered in the rash and they either won't let her stay at school, or will end up calling us for some other reason. 

I started this school year with a motto: Not peppy, but positive.  As the year has progressed, that has become trickier.  In my day to day life, I'm more pragmatic than optimistic or pessimistic.  In my most overwhelmed moments, I go into survival mode and deal with the events at hand because that's all that I can do. 

There have been many times, a lot more lately it seems, that I feel like I should be more positive about things.  But when I sit back and reflect, I realize that while not overwhelmingly positive all the time, I don't feel like I'm negative.  I just am.  I've never been accused of being "perky" and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to start at 31 so I will continue just experiencing the emotions as they are. I won't try and pretend everything is great but I'll try not to dwell on the downside. 

Here's to a realistic outlook for the week. 
This face always puts things in perspective...

Friday, April 13, 2012

TGIF

Wow has this been an interesting week.  Tera has been sick and/or not feeling well since pretty much last Sunday.  I was home with her on Wednesday and Tom was home with her today.  She seems to be mostly recovered from the stomach virus, and may or may not be currently suffering from the side effects of her chicken pox and MMR vaccines last week (they have a 5-12 day window from the time of the shots) with a fever and general discomfort and irritability. 

A good friend of mine shared with me this piece of information that was passed on to her by her daycare provider:  kids tend to feel most comfortable with their moms so when they don't feel well, that's typically who they feel the most comfortable being a pain in the butt with.  Those aren't the exact words, but basically the idea is that kids don't have to try and pretend to be happy or feel better than they really do with their moms and so they might be crabbier with their moms than anybody else.  It kind of makes sense and can be reassuring in a way.  But at the same time I feel like I had to carry her for 39 weeks, I had to give birth to her, I had to recover from giving birth to her, I do most of the dirty work, and she still smiles at Tom when she's sick and whines non stop for me. 

Perfect example: Wednesday when I was home with her, she started waking up around 4:15am and napped for exactly one hour total the whole day.  Today when she was home with Tom, she slept until 7am and napped for three hours.  And the absolute worst part? The part that he really shouldn't have shared with me? That she was super cuddly and snuggly this morning with him and not at all with me on Wednesday.  The one thing I look forward to the most when I'm home with her!!! Seriously kid? I'm still trying to get rid of the those last stubborn pounds and stretch marks from you!

Ok, I got it out.  But if that kid knows what's best for her, I will get some kisses and smiles tomorrow along with minimal to no whining. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Some improvement on the virus front

So Tera seems to be feeling a little better, but we're still not sure about her status for school tomorrow.  This would be one of those days that really makes me not want to go back to work tomorrow.  Any day that I get to spend at home with her, even when she's sick and makes me a little crazy because she won't nap, makes it harder to leave the next day; especially when I know she's still not 100%.  And I can't even say I got my snuggle time today.  As sweet as my baby is, she's not really a snuggler unless she's sick or already asleep; she just moves too much! And today unfortunately, even though she was sick, she just wasn't in a snuggling mood. 

But hey, the best part about going back to work tomorrow is that we have parent-teacher conferences! (I know sarcasm can be difficult to read in text so I'll just come out and say that was indeed sarcasm)

On top of there being conferences tomorrow night, I will have to catch up on stuff that I missed today.  See, when you're a teacher and you miss a day, planned or unplanned, you have work to do to get ready for not being there and then you have more work to do to catch up from not being there.  Really the only way you can avoid this is the ever popular movie showing.  But alas, if that were my plan each day I was gone this year, I think my students would only actually finish about a semester of math. 

As for tonight, I plan on taking my melatonin, using my relaxing scented hand cream, and cracking the window in the hopes of a good night's sleep.  For anybody wondering, the melatonin was recommended to me by a friend and it really does work to help relax my mind.  The honey milk scented "relaxing" hand cream may or may not actually do anything, but it smells nice and makes my hands softer.  The open window is because I always sleep better when I can snuggle under my sheets and at this time of the year, the smell of the air outside is soothing to me.  Typically as soon as Tom hears me slide the window open (which is right above my side of the bed and when I say crack I mean it's open about an inch) he whimpers and claims I'm trying to kill him.  Really what it means is that because we have to have flannel sheets on the bed from October until May, I end up waking up in a full body sweat.  To avoid this, and to actually get a decent night's sleep, I open the window a teeny bit.  He'll sleep fine no matter what so while I do lose sleep over many things, I don't on this (he'll be scowling at me when he reads this). 

Here's to a good night's sleep and a healthier baby when we wake up tomorrow morning.  And I'm hoping that when she wakes up, it's a little later than this morning when she started waking up around 4:10 am...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Damn viruses

So we definitely have a sick girl on our hands again.  Seeing as how my petite little girl already gains weight slowly, I was getting worried about the amount of food exiting her body and the lack of food going in her body.  When I weighed her this morning, I was a little upset to see that she had lost over half of a pound since Sunday morning.  That may not seem like a lot to us adults (hell, many of us probably look forward to it) but when you're a mere 18 lbs, a half pound makes a difference.  When I dropped her off at school today, Tom and I pretty much placed bets as to when they would call us and tell us we had to pick her up.  I was a little off, but she did end up coming home early and spent the afternoon with her dad and at the doctor's. 

Once again the ever-popular virus has attacked.  This time in her stomach which would be the reason for all the upset.  Of course with viruses it's always kind of guessing, even by the doctor.  I'm always "relieved" when the doctor is puzzled by some of her symptoms; such as a random fever several days ago and the fact that she seemed to throw up undigested food hours after she had eaten it. 

So tomorrow I get to spend the day with my baby again, though I wish it was under better circumstances.  On my way home from work I started feeling down again about her having to be sick yet again.  When these thoughts entered my mind, I started thinking about another little girl, just a little younger than Tera, who also has Down Syndrome, who was just diagnosed with something far worse than a virus.  A little girl who, as I found out from her dad's blog today, was just found "healthy" enough to start treatments for her infinitely more serious illness.  As my thoughts wandered to this, it occurred to me that Tera's health while always my first concern, isn't in nearly the same danger as some other children and I need to try and keep that in perspective.  I'm not naive enough to think that when she is suffering, whether from a cold or virus or pneumonia, I will always keep this same perspective, but in my better moments I will try.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Which infection is it this time?

So the guessing game begins again.  What game is that? Oh, it's just the Guess What's Wrong with Tera This Time game.  It started on Thursday when she started running a 101.5 degree fever at school.  Since we would have needed a doctor note to bring her back on Friday, I stayed home with her.  She became a picky eater right around this time.  You have to understand, my child eats EVERYTHING.  Last week she tried bleu cheese and asiago cheese and didn't even react, she just wanted more.  There have been nights when we've wondered how much she really would eat if we didn't just stop giving her food.  But starting on Thursday, she didn't want much of anything.

Friday I was home with her and she acted pretty normal all day, except for the food situation.  She played and was happy.  Her first nap was interrupted by what I can only describe as roughly half her body weight deciding it had to exit her body and enter her diaper.  The poor kid woke up screaming and her morning nap had only lasted a half hour.  She didn't eat much lunch and her afternoon nap was fairly normal.  Friday night was our annual egg coloring event at our other family's house.  Considering she wasn't feeling 100% and hadn't napped normally, she did pretty well.  But she still didn't eat much. 

On Saturday we went out to get our grocery shopping done before the crowds became unbearable.  She barely made it to the car before falling asleep and proceeded to sleep for almost two hours.  We picked up lunch, brought it to Tom's brother's house and Tera ate only baby food (better than what she had been eating, but still less than what she normally eats).  We went to a birthday part where again she got very tired.  She slept in the car, but woke up when we tried to lay her in her crib.  We didn't really know what to expect for the rest of the evening. 

Tom and I both had dishes to prepare for our Easter brunch the next day, but Tera was increasingly cranky and again, hadn't eaten much.  It's important to note here that I understand that most kids go through phases of not eating.  I know it in my rational mind that is.  The rest of my mind wonders how a kid that normally eats a ton and gains very little weight, is going to gain any weight when she's not eating even half as much.  Each meal I go through this little mental exercise when she starts throwing her food on the floor and refusing to eat anything. 

We finally got her ready for bed, she experienced another bout of tears due to a stomach evacuation, and we just looked at each other exhausted and finally climbed into bed.  She woke before 6 on Sunday morning, only slept for 30 minutes for her morning nap, and sent me into an emotional spiral when I thought about how she hates napping when people are there, how she still wasn't eating, and for various other reasons I still can't identify.  I was kind of a weepy mess. 

Easter was fabulous.  The food was delicious, it was beautiful outside, our family was with us, and my baby girl looked beautiful in her dress.  My mom finally got her down for another nap, after two more bouts of hysterical tears due to yet more stomach distress, and she woke up much happier, but still not really hungry.  Sunday night she played well and we put her to bed.  I had started noticing that a few times throughout the day she was cocking her head to the left and almost rubbing her ear on her shoulder. 

She was pretty normal this morning when we left the house, but when I called school to check on her, she hadn't been herself all day.  She still wasn't eating and was somewhat cranky.  We got a call later in the day because she had a diaper blow out.  Then another call saying her eye was draining.  When I picked her up, she was not her usual smiley self.  She was cranky most of the night, still not eating much, and now I'm wondering if she has an ear infection, a reaction to her shots last week, both, or neither and something else all together.

The only thing harder than putting my sleeping baby down, is putting down my sleeping baby who isn't feeling well...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I hate it

I've been constructing this post in my mind all day.  Last night Tom and I attended a financial planning night at Gigi's.  A lawyer that specializes in the planning for families of individuals with special needs presented and Tom and I came away with so much information that we were in need of.  What we found out is that you need a law degree and 30 years of experience in special needs planning to be able to protect your child, or you need to hire someone who does.  It is mind-boggling how many hoops parents have to jump through to make sure that their special needs children/adults are provided for both by their families and the government without being taken advantage of.  At the end of the night we felt very informed, with a plan of action, and I also felt frustrated.  We are responsible people.  We pay a very fair share of taxes, we are definitely supporters of the economy, and pay all our bills on time and in full.  So it makes me angry that it's just so incredibly complicated to make sure Tera is taken care of.  What's equally frustrating to me, and this is a social rant that I don't often do, I'm pretty sure people who are on food stamps and welfare, don't have to sit through and hour and a half presentation on how to use their government aid and how it will all work.  It makes me angry that it's easier to get support for people who don't bother looking for jobs and rely on the government, than it is for us to protect the money we set aside, not the government, for our daughter so that the government doesn't take it. 

This would be one of those reasons that DS sucks.  It makes things harder for Tera to be independent and it makes it harder for us to protect her so that she can be.  I haven't said this in a while, but today I realized for a few reasons, that I hate that extra chromosome.  It's very hard for me to say that I hate any part of what makes Tera, Tera, but that little thing causes so much pain and hardship.

This morning I read something that just broke my heart.  I was reading another blog that I follow and what I read gave me the chills.  A fellow parent of a child with DS shared that his little girl, who is only a few months younger than Tera, may have cancer.  Because if all the therapies, colds, infections, heart conditions, and social acceptance weren't enough, kids with DS also have a higher incidence of leukemia.  It's something I think about often because many parents post about it in my forum, but I try not to dwell on it.  And then I read the same thing about a parent who I have followed a little more closely and it's that same punch in the stomach to alert me to the fact that my kid is different.  Are there other kids who get leukemia that don't have DS? Of course, absolutely, but the minute she was conceived, her chances were higher than many other kids. 

I know there will be another day soon when I'm not so upset about this, but today was just too much. 

As I write this, my baby sleeps in her room, sent home from school with a fever.  Again.  The doctor doesn't think it's a reaction to her shots from Tuesday (that will probably be in a few days) so they think it's probably a virus of some sort.  Of course it would be on a weekend, full of plans, and a holiday, but I'm hoping a day at home with mom tomorrow helps her recover faster and we can get on with our plans.  We'll see if her immune system agrees with that plan. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Perfect moments

After Tera was born, I spent literally hours just staring at her.  I loved the way she felt when she was sleeping in my arms.  I have to say, one of the best parts of being a mom, is feeling her heart beat as she sleeps on me and hearing her little snores as she lays on my shoulder.  On the nights when she falls asleep drinking her bottle and she's actually completely asleep before I put her in her crib, I feel like I might never let her go.  I could stand there for hours just holding her as she sleeps and it's one of the most peaceful, reassuring feelings I've ever had.  I don't know that that feeling will ever lose it's novelty.  So far in the first year it hasn't.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My first baby

There's something I've been not wanting to write about for a while now, but these past few weeks tell me maybe it's time.  Shortly after Tom and I bought our town house eight and a half years ago, we were in a Petsmart I believe, and there was a German Shepherd rescue organization with a sign up sheet to be foster parents to a dogs that they received.  The rescue didn't have a facility so when they received dogs from pounds or animal control or were found as strays, they had to have foster houses lined up so they could place the dogs.  We had decided we were interested in this type of thing and put our names down. 

Not long after, and I mean a week or so, we received a call saying they were getting a German Shepherd who had been injured and was being scheduled for surgery, but would need a home when she was ready to be released.  I was home for the summer at that point and after discussing it, we agreed.  I was so excited I went out and bought her dishes, a leash, and some toys.  We didn't really know the extent of her injuries and we were only signing up to foster, not adopt yet.  The day we went to go pick her up she came out of the room and could only walk on three legs.  Her injured leg had been almost completely shaved, along with parts of her two front legs where they had put it in the IV's.  We found out that in her previous foster home, she had been attacked by the owner's other dog and had sustained ligament damage.  She was small and only weighed 45 pounds.  When we got her home she snuggled into her crate and would limp ever so carefully when we took her to go to the bathroom.  She was immediately sweet and already the bond was forming.  They had called her Raquel at the rescue, but that certainly wasn't going to stay so we chose Jaina. 

After a few months of fostering, we both knew she was ours.  We made the decision to adopt her and I've never looked back.  My poor baby came to us in bad shape, but after a year she was walking pretty well on all four legs.  After her initial check up from our vet, we also found out she had early hip disyplasia and we immediately started her on glucosamine to help alleviate any future issues.  We took her with us when we could.  She loved the car, but wasn't a fan of other animals like cats, and definitely not dogs.  She, understandably, had some serious dog issues that we tried to work on at various times and she was better sometimes than others.  She was our baby and she was spoiled.  She adores people and is fiercely protective.  When Tom was out of town on various occasions, I never once worried about being alone when I had her with me.  She has always been Tom's dog, but we had our own bond. 

When I found out I was pregnant, I was sure she knew before I did.  She had been following me around the house everywhere I went.  This was something she usually only did when I was sick.  For as much as she was Tom's, she always stayed by me when I wasn't feeling well.  She would lay next to me when I was on the couch and sleep on the floor on my side at night.  She has been one of the smartest animals I've ever seen, incredibly addicted to her routine, and insanely snuggly. 

When we were in the hospital with Tera, Tom brought home one of Tera's blankets so Jaina could smell it.  We were a little worried about how she would react because she has always been our baby, but when we came home, without Tera at first, Jaina was sleeping on the blanket.  When we did finally bring her home, Jaina sniffed her a few times, and then didn't leave her side.  When people came to visit, she watched their every move.  If we took Tera out somewhere, she was waiting at the door when we came back to make sure we brought her back.  She's licked her I don't know how many times and as Tera finally started to become more aware of her surroundings, she became her new best friend.  Tera literally squeals when she sees her and spends much of her time on the floor trying to get closer to Jaina to "pet" her. 

The part that is hard to write is that last June Jaina was diagnosed with cancer.  We opted not to do chemo because in the course of the time we've had her, she's had a toe amputated, hookworm, two open sores, arthritis, bad hips, ligament surgery, been sprayed by two skunks, and got violently ill when we switched her food once.  We didn't think she could take the chemo and we knew we couldn't.  They told us without it, she had about 6 weeks to 3 months to live.  Here we are in April and she's still with us.  But I'm not sure for how much longer.  This was a decision I never wanted to make and I'm still not sure how we'll do it, but we know it's getting close. 

I'm glad I chose to spend more time on the good parts and not the bad, but I'm pretty sure in the near future it will have a different tone. 





Sunday, April 1, 2012

Yes, it's different now

I've taken the past few days off from writing.  I needed some time to rest and gather my thoughts.  Unfortunately right now, they seem to be all over. 

Today is my last day of Spring Break.  I wouldn't necessarily call it restful, but I got some things done, was able to do a few things I wanted, and was able to spend some quality time with Tom and Tera the past four days.  On Friday my mom was nice enough (I really had to twist her arm) to take Tera over night so Tom and I could go out to dinner and sleep in.  Dinner was at one of our favorite restaurants and was fabulous.  We came home, watched a movie, and slept in all the way until 7 on Saturday! This would be because even when our child isn't home with us, our pets are and they are not conducive to sleeping in either. 

Then we got coffee, stopped at a local craft show (where I did in fact buy an Easter decoration!) and then picked up our girl.  One of the things that has come up more in the past few days, and not necessarily in a negative way, was how much our lives have changed since Tera was born. 

As a result of my being in general a bad sleeper, I always seem to feel tired.  This could also be attributed to all the stress and scheduling that goes along with my sweet girl, but the lack of quality sleep doesn't help.  Before Tera was born, I used to at least try and nap when I was this tired and when the idea of curling up in my bed under a blanket until I dozed off was overwhelmingly tempting, it was somewhat of a possibility.  Not so much anymore.  At this point in her life, you would think that might be a possibility again, but since my kid doesn't ever stop moving, she's not really in a cuddling mood unless she's sick. 

We now schedule grocery shopping and other errands around nap time.  We have annoying baby songs stuck in our heads, my shower is full of bath toys, our living room and basement have been overtaken by toys, at any given time I may find a puke rag in my bed, and our vacation plans now involve places that are kid-friendly, I have spent less money at Express and more at Baby Gap and our conversations with our friends have way more advice on baby gear than good restaurants.  We spend more money on daycare than car payments. 

But...when I'm dragged out of bed before 6am on the weekend, I'm dragged out by the sweetest smile ever.  When we're running errands, she happily sits in the cart and smiles constantly at us.  She's brought our family closer together than we ever thought we could be and has inspired more people than I ever imagined and has been proof that our friends are the best kind.  When I pick her up from that expensive day care and she hears my voice, she whips her head around and gives me the biggest smile and when she flashes that million dollar smile at her dad, it absolutely melts my heart.  She's an incredibly motivated kid that has brought her dad and I closer together and reaffirmed that we can in fact handle anything thrown at us. 

So yes, I do miss those napping opportunities and spur of the moment plans.  It would be nice to have more cash on hand and go out for more of those "nice" dinners.  But I wouldn't trade any of those things for the love we have for our baby. 

And now for three things we learned about Tera today:
1.) She will poop in the bathtub.
2.) Despite the fact that she's eaten literally everything we've given her, she's not ready for jalapenos.
3.) She can make it on one slightly long nap, but by 6pm she's pretty much done for the day.