Monday, January 27, 2014

She needs a backpack!

Last Sunday I was sitting in Tera's room with her while she was playing and my mind kept wandering as I watched her move around.  I love watching her.  A mother's bias (and lots of other people around me) makes me constantly wonder how she turned out so damn adorable; I could seriously watch her for hours.  But all of a sudden it occurred to me that she's going to need a backpack soon!

This next month will be an interesting one for us as we complete the final steps to Tera's transition to Early Childhood.  She will be evaluated on February 7th and 11th to determine her eligibility for services, we have her exit meeting with her current therapists on February 3rd, and we still need to set a date for her actual IEP meeting.  Then her Early Intervention services stop the day before her 3rd birthday and she will start preschool within a day or two of that.

I don't know what made me think of it.  I was just sitting there watching her and I realized that with the start of school soon, she would need a back pack.  And with that thought came a flood of emotions.  Mostly that I can't believe that she'll be three in a month, but also missing that little baby she once was.  

One of the best parts of having multiple digital frames in our house is that I can constantly see the stream of hundreds (okay, maybe thousands) of pictures we've taken of her since she was born.  But it also constantly throws me into an emotional state wondering where the time has gone and knowing I'll never have that time with the tiny little girl in those pictures again.  I know we'll make new memories and that we have unlimited great times to look forward to, but it doesn't change wanting that time with her back.  

She has changed and grown so much these past three years and I'm just so proud of everything she's been able to accomplish. There has been a lot of stress during that time too, but I don't think I ever could have imagined the happiness she would bring us. She is an incredibly funny, and oftentimes very unique, little girl. She has so much personality, and love, and compassion for someone so little. 

And so I will begin my search for a backpack for my "baby"...

Monday, January 13, 2014

What sickness does...

There has been a lot of sickness lately.  I'm obviously more conscious of it in my own family, but it's everywhere.  It is that time of year and unfortunately though I personally love winter, it takes its toll on my loved ones (and this week on me too).

We're no strangers to sickness in our house and in our families; like so many other families we've had to come to grips with serious illness, cancer, and disease.  And here's what I've come to realize: it really can define who your family and friends are.  In our case, I'd say we're incredibly lucky, and I'm not just talking about Tera.  We've had our share of problems in our families and each time the rest of our families and friends show have shown their incredible love and support.

But here's what else sickness can do: it can put fears and worries into your mind that you never thought possible.  At times, completely irrational and nonsensical fears and worries.  At other times, very warranted fears and worries.  I would say that since Tera has been born, I've experienced more fear than any other time in my life.  In her case it ranges from whether we are doing everything we can to help her develop, to what the future might have in store for her and us, to what each illness means for her little body.

Tera has been fighting what we think is a cold for over a month now.  It never seemed to get worse, but it never seemed to get better.  Early on we took her in for fear of pneumonia, but another chest x-ray later it showed that as of that time, her lungs were clear.  Fast forward to this week and the cough that has been our primary concern, got worse.  We started increasing her nebulizer treatments even more and waited it out.  Friday night she coughed the entire night (though somehow managed to sleep through it all).  Saturday morning we decided we needed to have her checked out again.  The doctor said her lungs sounded clear but that after a month, we should probably try something to help clear whatever it was up.  Based on her history of sinus infections and the current symptoms we decided to start her on an antibiotic in hopes that it would treat whatever it might be.  This will not, to be clear, prevent pneumonia.  It will only treat what she thinks might be a sinus infection.  So last night after a visit to my sister's, Tera coughed the entire 30 minute drive home. She continued to cough for the next 30 minutes at home asleep in her bed.

Her temperature was 99, but when I tested her oxygen it was only at 91.  Tom and I, the professionals that we are, prepared ourselves for the night.  The thermometer and pulse-ox meter were easy to find, the Motrin was in the bathroom in case her fever went up, and we went to bed early in case we were up all night with her.  And of course almost every night we are that prepared, nothing happens.  And except for waking up a few times after 2:30 am, she had very little coughing.  But that didn't stop all the fears from invading my sleep.  I must have imagined at least ten different horrific situations that could have happened.  And despite telling myself that we've been through pneumonia before (five times to be exact) and that she doesn't actually have pneumonia yet, I replayed every horrible story I'd ever read and heard about in relation to pneumonia and respiratory distress.  Why did I do this? I have no idea.  All it does is torture myself, but I can't help it and my guess is that many other parents out there have done and will continue to do the same thing.

It's what sickness does.  It makes you realize your own mortality, how fragile life can really be, and it can bring your worst fears to the surface.  I think all you can do at point is hope that it gives you perspective and a better outlook on what you want your life and time to be.

As of today, the cough is still pretty bad.  As she naps I can hear that awful, fear inspiring sound come from her room every 20 minutes or so.  But she's acting normally (ie a bit of a pain in the ass at times), she's eating fine,  and there's no major temperature.  So once again, we'll see...

Friday, January 3, 2014

What I'm thankful January.

A new year.  It's a great time for resolutions, reflection, and if you live in Chicago right now, hypothermia (I actually love winter so this particularly harsh weather doesn't really bother me as much as other people).  A lot of people used the month of November to share what they were thankful for, but I'm going to do it now because the ending of one year and the beginning of another seems appropriate too.

These are in no order whatsoever:

 A beautiful, mostly healthy, funny, energetic, smart daughter that is the light of my life.

The most amazing, loving, sweet, and talented husband I could ever have imagined.

A family that loves me, cares for me, rejoices with me, cries with me, celebrates with me, and is always there for me.

A house that that we can enjoy the holidays in.

Friends that love me for who I am, support me, and are always there with a shoulder to cry on or a drink to celebrate.

A career that challenges me, can be rewarding, allows me to do what I love, and also provides for my family.

Happy memories of family members that are no longer with us.

Cameras that have allowed me to capture special times with my family and friends.

Yoga pants and Minnetonka slippers.

Days off.


Social media that allows me to stay in contact with people I might not otherwise be able to.

FaceTime so that Tera can have close relationships with family members who don't live nearby (and so that I can see my sweet nieces when I want).


All five of my trips to New Orleans.

Old and new holiday traditions.

Chocolate, wine, and vodka (not always in that order).

Medical advancements that have made life possible and more enjoyable for my friends, family, and I.

First world problems (too much food in our refrigerator, a house to clean, nice cars that need gas, too much laundry to do, too many toys in our house, jobs that we have to go to).

I'm even thankful for the bad times because when the we finally reach the light at the end of the tunnel, I usually have gained some perspective (and a few more gray hairs that I keep cleverly disguised).  Some of these bad times are worse than others, and the perspective changes.  It might be that things I had previously worried about aren't as important as I once thought, or that Tera's illness of the week could be much worse.
But when I look back on the past twelve months, I'm not overly sad or disheartened.  On the other hand I'm not naive enough (or without enough experience) to think a new year will bring an end to our worries.  This new year could be great or it could really suck, but my personal approach to it (although Tom will take the credit for it) is that I can't do anything about the unknowns at this point anyway.  I've survived everything up to this point, albeit with a few scars to prove it, and I will, we will as a family, continue to survive.  I hope my list next year has all these things on it and more.