Feb 28, 2011

School time!

This morning Gavin woke up, ate breakfast, and got himself ready for preschool.

Did you miss the memo that Gavin started preschool? Yeah, me too. I happened to be sitting at the computer, checking my email, when Gavin announced his plans for the day, so I transcribed our conversation.

Gavin: I've got my backpack ready. I packed extra clothes for Sis.

Heidi: Oh, honey, you're not going anywhere today. You're staying home with me.

Gavin: But I'm going to preschool!

Heidi: Oh, really? Where is it?

Gavin: It's really far away.

Heidi: OK. Who's your teacher?

Gavin: Nobody is. Wait. William is my teacher.

Heidi: Hm. Very interesting.

Gavin: It's really far away at Grandma's house. Or Julie's. Julie has mattresses to jump on. That's my preschool.

Tyler: Are you really going to preschool? Did Mom tell you that?

Gavin: Yes! And I have to wear flip-flops.

Heidi: Gavin, what do you do at preschool?

Gavin: I play every time at preschool in my classroom!

Tyler: Have you ever been to preschool?

Gavin: Yes, and there's lots of treats in my treat room. I'll get all of treats for everybody.

Tyler: Yeah, when it's your birthday.

Gavin: No!

Tyler: I got treats for my class because it was my birthday.

Gavin: And I need to go talk to Dad.

Gavin: Daddy, I'm going to preschool!

Garry: Maybe Granny will do something like preschool here today.

Gavin: No, this isn't preschool, this is

Garry: This is Colorado Springs.

Gavin: But I need to go far away to preschool.

Garry: Zachary and Tyler's school isn't far away. Preschool is close like their school.

Gavin: But I want to go to their school, too.

Garry: You will, when you get bigger.

Gavin: But I AM bigger already!

Garry: You have to get even bigger still.

Gavin: WHY?


The most tragic part of this conversation is that I'm not even sure if Gavin gets to attend preschool in the Fall. He was registered somewhere and the teacher backed out a couple of weeks ago, canceling his class. Even though it's only the end of February, every program I have checked into is completely full.
There is no way my life can handle a co-op home preschool this year. Gavin is on a couple of waiting lists, but I'm not sure if we can plan on preschool. Huge bummer!!

Feb 27, 2011

Slow and steady

I left the hospital around 8:30 Friday morning, and I just have to say:


I have taken so much for granted. Things like holding kids on my lap, showering unassisted, walking up and down stairs and sleeping in whatever position I want are life's little perks that I appreciate so much now. Last night I sat with the family for dinner for the first time in several weeks. I was teary. Just listening to Tyler chatter on about his backyard playtime brought me so much joy. Later, when Lexi wouldn't go to sleep and Garry was at the grocery store, I laid on the floor in her bedroom in the dark and sang her some Primary songs. I got choked up. I couldn't remember the last time I helped put her to bed. I was more than happy to have her cuddle in my bed when the song routine didn't work. And then, at 2:00 a.m. when a feverish, coughing Zach stumbled into my bedroom, I was thrilled to help him. I felt like a mother again. It was wonderful.

I was happy to snap a couple of photos yesterday. It felt...absurdly normal. The boys were just playing with a neighbor in the backyard. I stood at the door and watched them for a while, just basking in the contentment of the moment.

Zachary's ongoing illness re-emerged yesterday. He looked so tragic lying in the chair. He napped on and off throughout the afternoon and then all day today. Given my recent experience, I have great sympathy for a child with a fever. It's just so miserable!!

I spent some time yesterday sorting through a week of mail and two months of papers, most of them related to medical care. I needed to find receipts for flu shot reimbursement, a bill for Gavin's ER visit last summer, and documentation for another medical payment. I found everything I needed, got rid of the rest, and once I make phone calls on Monday my brain can take a break. This project has been a monkey on my back for months.

But that's not to say that I don't still feel sick...because I do. I am taking nausea medication every six hours and two different antibiotics twice a day (plus Tylenol for a persistent headache). Movement and noise and light and smells still turn my stomach. The battle against throwing up is constant and requires nearly all of my energy. I am just afraid that if I let go and rid myself of the rock in my gut, I will spiral and end up back in the hospital. So I am being very careful, eating often, and resting a LOT. [Sidebar: in an odd turn of events, I have lost 10 pounds since I started eating again. Why has it taken my body so long to realize I am starving?] I am very, very motivated to make this system work, but I would never survive without my mom's and Garry's helping hands.

Speaking of my mom, she is mostly running the household. The Littles were happy to enjoy her assistance while I was in the hospital, but now that I am home, they aren't as content with Granny. So she is staying busy with mounds of neglected housework, laundry, ironing, and cooking. One of yesterday's projects was cleaning out our toxic waste dump (otherwise known as the refrigerator). Something vile was growing in there and she eradicated it. I was kind of surprised how empty the fridge was when she was finished. Garry had the honor of trekking to Walmart and filling it back up with fresh food.

So that's life in a nutshell. I am slowly recovering but still require lots of assistance (which I have). I am incredibly grateful to be home and on the road to wellness. I am thankful for all of those (lurking or known) who are praying and fasting for me, thinking of me, emailing and calling me, and serving my family in other ways. It has been a humbling experience to be so sick and require so much help, but I am grateful to see the miracles happening all around me. Thank you for your part in the miracle.

Feb 24, 2011

Scenes from the hospital

I'm sure I'll never forget my time in the hospital this week, but here are a few photos that might one day jog my memory.

Garry snapped this photo with my cell phone when we arrived in the ER Sunday. I was too delirious to object. I actually look much better than I felt. I shudder to remember....

After surviving the ER, I came up to the third floor. These bad boys were my constant companions. The pump on the left regulated all the medicine. On my first afternoon, I was trying to nap. The humming of the machine was SO annoying, but I eventually got used to it, and by Wednesday (when I was last attached) I hardly noticed it anymore. It had crazy-loud alarms when something malfunctioned. Usually an alarm meant that my IV was about to infiltrate. It wasn't my favorite sound.

This is the chair where my mom or Garry slept overnight when they stayed with me. They were good sports. After two nights, Garry needed a bed.

Several people generously sent me flowers to brighten my room. These are from (L-R, top to bottom): Cindy, my Relief Society president; my sweet extended family in Salt Lake; the Credit Group at Wells Fargo; and my mom. Every time I look at them, I remember the people who love me.

I was determined to shower every day and re-join the human race. It was so refreshing, even if the shower was a tiny curtained cubicle. I fixed my hair every morning in the chair on the right...except for the first morning, when my mom did that for me.

I used waaaaay too many of these (barf bags). Moving quickly to the bathroom with a heavy/awkward/plugged-in IV pole is impossible. Puking in the comfort of my bed is overrated. This dispenser was full when I arrived.

These are some views from my bed. Even though my window overlooked a parking lot and Lowe's, I was grateful for the blue sky and sunshine every day. The natural light was wonderful. My room is almost directly above the ER. The whiteboard showed my nurses and techs every day. My favorite, most compassionate nurse was Katie. Lisa took care of me four nights in a row and was two weeks further along in her first pregnancy than I was. She was also fantastic.

This was my "bling." I had three wrist bands. The white one had my name and medical record number. The red one said I didn't have any drug allergies. The purple one told nurses and techs not to touch my left arm. The PICC line had been in that arm, and after a few attempts, it became apparent that no IVs could be in that arm, either.

So all of my IVs (and there were many) this week were in my right arm. Three were in my hand, rendering it almost useless. The brace helped stabilize the IV. I also used it to straighten my elbow when IVs were placed in the bend of my arm.

I devoted much energy to eating. I have developed a rather unhealthy relationship with food, so every time I eat something I think about what it will taste like when I vomit. But I am working on it. On Monday, I had a President's Day feast of popsicles and Jell-o. By Thursday I could tolerate more regular food. I also enjoyed the addition of a computer to my room.

Because I have now been able to tolerate (read: keep down) food and water for 48 hours, I will be discharged in the morning. After five days in the hospital, I am ready to go home. Can you tell?

Feb 23, 2011

Hospital letters

Dear Memorial Health guest network,

I love having free internet access in my hospital room, especially because the internet on my phone doesn't work in the hospital.

Thanks for making my stay more pleasant.

The Patient


Dear ER Nurse,

Sorry I cried while you poked me today. It's not your fault. I know you're the "best stick" on shift in the whole hospital and I'm glad to have you (even if it took you two pokes to get a viable IV). I just want to DRINK my water, thankyouverymuch.


The frustrated baby


Dear body,

I just want to DRINK my water. Oh, and eat my food. And keep it. K? K.

Hugs and kisses,



Dear Enterobacter,

You are the ugly specimen that has invaded my bloodstream. I don't appreciate your infectious ways. I'm popping Keflex (orally!) and sending you packing. Don't come back. Ever.


Good riddance,

Your unwitting and disgusted host


Dear Ilya,

Although your thick accent made it hard for us to communicate last night, I am very glad for the ultrasound you performed. I was grateful to see the Little Miss/Mister stretching and waving tiny appendages and showing off his/her brain and beating heart. I don't understand most of what we saw or what you were doing on your screen, but I saw what I needed to see. And since you couldn't say anything of value to me, I'm glad my OB cleared everything up this morning.

Still smiling,

The lady from the third floor


Dear Wells Fargo Credit Admin Team, Cindy, and Granny,

Thank you for the flowers. They have really brightened my hospital room.


Garry's wife/ward member/your daughter

P.S. Whenever I say, "Thank you for the flowers," I picture that scene in You've Got Mail when Meg Ryan is wearing pajamas and a trench coat...


Dear Angieinpink and Granny,

I love all of my new pajamas. All! It is so refreshing and uplifting to put on fresh, cute pajamas instead of a depressing hospital gown (or my own lame pajamas) every morning. And it makes me happy to think of you shopping together on my behalf. Thank you!




Dear family members,

Thank you for fasting for me today. I feel so loved and supported. And I know that your united faith and prayers are a much stronger force for good than my own. I am sure that when the time is right, the tide will turn. I just really hope today is the day.

I love you,



Dear Baby,

For the first time last night, I imagined us cuddling together after we get through this yucky ordeal. Actually, I pictured the day you are blessed at church. When will that be? I like thinking about that day...and what a blessed day that will be. I'm having a hard time waiting. Can we get to the good part? I'd like to enjoy you on the inside for a good long time. Let's get started.



Feb 22, 2011

I'm not the only one

I think life at the hospital is a picnic compared to what's going on at my house. As I have mentioned before, each of the kids has taken a turn on the sick list in the last week, but these two have had fevers since Thursday.

Garry took them to see the pediatrician today. Daddy is getting lots of practice with this routine!

Gavin's fever was 102.5 in the office. He has a bad ear infection. Hopefully antibiotics will turn this kid around!

Zach's fever is finally under control. His persistent cough is just that: persistent. He was given clearance to attend school, since it can last 2-3 weeks. So he went for the afternoon.

Dearest Gavin is completely miserable. Sweet Granny has been rocking and comforting him (when she hasn't been rocking and comforting me) since she arrived. We hope easier days are ahead for both of them.

The bad news: Tyler came home from school with a fever and chills!

Feb 21, 2011

The road

I have been pondering the adventures of the last few months, marveling at what has happened, where my family and I have been, what new (and hard) things we have done. I'm really glad I didn't know what was ahead when I pleaded with Heavenly Father for another baby. I'm quite certain I wouldn't have been brave enough. Now that I'm in the thick of things, I'm mostly not brave enough, but I'm trying to summon my courage again, now that we've hit a new milestone and the way ahead is less clear than ever.

The time line seems important to me today, with dates and events floating through my brain, so here's a brief(ish) run-down:

December 25: Garry finds a positive pregnancy test (taken that morning in secrecy) in his Christmas stocking. He sees it, thinks it is negative, gives me a weird look, and hides it away. I have to revisit the issue later that day. We bask in the happy news, let it soak in, and keep it to ourselves.

January 4: Morning sickness arrives. I write in my journal: "only dry heaves so far." There follows a 25-day break in my journal.

January 7: Puke arrives in earnest.

January 11: First OB appointment. Ultrasound confirms dates and a beating heart. I beg for a Zofran prescription (and don't get it). We announce the pregnancy, knowing that I'm not far along but unable to hide my sickness. We tell the kids, who are relieved to find out that I'm not dying. We sit around the dinner table and brainstorm baby names. Zach lists all his friends' names. Garry and I pledge not to have a real conversation until we know gender.

January 18: Doc finally OK's Zofran. I'm vomiting 2-3 times a day with constant nausea. It's hard to manage the household. Zofran isn't a miracle cure but mostly keeps the vomiting at bay. There are unsavory side effects, but vomiting seems less savory.

January 22: I decide to take a short break from Zofran to recover from the side-effects. In past pregnancies, breaks like this were effective and balancing. Not this time. I go into a tailspin.

January 25: By Tuesday I have gone 48 hours without keeping anything (not water, crackers, popsicles -- anything) down. I have to call Garry home from work at noon. I spend the night in the ER getting IV fluids. I am 9 weeks and 2 days along.

January 27: Miraculously (and I do mean by God-given miracle), I am stable enough to travel to Utah for Women's Conference orientation, which is completely delightful. I vomit during the travel periods, but feel quite well the rest of the time.
What a blessing.

February 3: I have an emergency appointment with my OB. Even with constant Zofran (every eight hours, around the clock; I set an alarm at night to take it), I am throwing up and/or dry heaving half a dozen times a day. Nothing is working. I can hardly function. Several friends have suggested a Zofran pump, and my doctor complies.

February 4: I meet my home care nurse, Shelly, for the first time and feel completely overwhelmed by the process of caring for myself. But I learn to poke myself in the gut to set up subcutanenous Zofran infusion. It's not as bad as it sounds.

February 5: Shelly comes back to set up home IV fluids. I am so dehydrated that she can't find a vein suitable for an IV. She tries four times (ouch) and then sends me to the ER. Ouch.

February 6-10: On the upside, people from church are helping with my kids, meals, and housework. I find I am benefitting from the fluid infusion. It seems to be helping much more than the Zofran. I am learning to time my meals with Zofran boluses. Things are looking up....except that I keep having complications (usually in the middle of the night) with my IV sites. One infiltrates (the vein bursts and the fluid fills the surrounding tissue). One clots off. One just has to be moved. I take one out on my own because we make the decision to insert a PICC line in my arm.

February 11: I get a PICC line in my arm. It's not love at first sight. It causes chest pain and doesn't infuse as well as the IV. My arm hurts. I actually feel MORE nauseated than before. In general, I'm not a fan, but all things point to eventual improvement, and I do love the absence of an IV.

February 13: Happy Birthday to Tyler!

February 14: Lexi is vomiting. She is the first of four puking, coughing, feverish kids this week. Garry handles all of it. (Happy Valentine's Day!)

February 15: Lexi is still puking. Tyler has a migraine. I pick him up from school (pole and all) and have a breakdown in the front office. On the same day, I'm concerned enough about my new chest pain (and general deterioration) that I see my doctor again. He orders a chest x-ray to confirm placement. He also pledges to figure out a new medicine regime to alleviate my worsening symptoms. The x-ray results are normal. Everyone is relieved but me; my chest still hurts. Something is wrong.

February 16: While Shelly (whom I adore, by the way) is changing the PICC dressing, the catheter somehow pulls out a tiny bit. In an instant, my chest pain disappears. Everyone is thrilled. Shelly shows me how to inject Benadryl into my IV bag, which is supposed to help with the nausea. It makes me feel like I'm on a boat at sea (and I'm seasick).

February 18: Zach is barfing. Gavin has a fever. I feel sicker than ever. I can't keep anything down, even though my Zofran rate has nearly doubled in two weeks. Everything hurts. I call Garry home from work at lunch. He finds me shriveled in a recliner. A man in the ward comes to help give me a priesthood blessing. I start a low-grade fever that reaches 101 an hour later. I spend a miserable evening in the ER, receive three liters of fluids and morphine for my pain and fever, and go home with the diagnosis of "the flu."

February 19: I spend the entire day in bed. (Thankfully it is Saturday and Garry can man the troops.) I only leave my bed to throw up. I have violent bouts of chills. I lie on a heating pad, dress in layers, and have six quilts on top of me, but still shiver convulsively. One episode gets so bad that I throw up for ten minutes straight. Garry helps me into a hot shower, which is the only thing that warms me up. My temperature is 102. I call the on-call OB, who recommends the ER. Still smarting from my bad experience just 24 hours earlier, I ignore the advice. Garry tries to comfort and keep me warm all night. I have seriously never loved him more.

February 20: I wake up at 6:45 and my temperature is 103.9. I know I have to go to the hospital. Garry starts getting ready. Lexi wakes up with a major blowout -- ankles to neck -- inside footie pajamas. 45 minutes later, we "rush" out the door. Once again I experience the gawking stares of the ER staff and patrons as I am wheeled in, doubled over, with a PICC line and an IV pole. However, this time people seem to take my symptoms seriously. Garry leaves me to pick up my mom, who bought a one-way ticket to Colorado Springs,
at the local airport.

I see a doctor within five minutes of arrival. He and two nurses are hovering. They are concerned; I am nearly incoherent with pain and dehydration. The nurse can't start an IV after two very painful attempts. The "best stick" in the ER finally gets one going. The nurse takes several bottles and vials of blood and sends them off for testing. I have a nasal swab for the flu and submit a urine sample. I receive fluids and morphine. The next few hours are a blur.

My mom arrives. I cry when I see her. Garry stays home with our sick kids. By then I still don't look very good but am calm and can speak in complete sentences and open my eyes. I am sweating profusely and am acutely aware that I haven't bathed for a couple of days. The nurse removes my PICC line, which, happily, is a much less painful process than the insertion. There is lots of waiting. Finally I find out that I do not, in fact, have the flu.

Finally I am admitted as a patient. The ER nurse tells me that when I arrived she was sure I was septic. We are all relieved that it now appears I am not. She finds the baby's heartbeat, which is easily the high point of my week. I settle into a room on the third floor. By nightfall I find out I do have a bacterial infection and start antibiotics. I have been without Zofran for almost 12 hours. Getting more provides sweet relief and I eat some crackers. They come up later. Garry spends the night with me and my mom goes home to be with the kids.

February 21: After a pretty decent night of sleep, I take a shower. That is Life Experience #247 that I will never take for granted again. I realize I feel better than I have in at least three weeks, but probably two months. Life isn't perfect, but there is a plan. My OB visits and says we will get the infection under control (and determine its source), and then work on a protocol for my nausea and vomiting that I can maintain at home. Looking forward, this is my biggest concern. I have many, many questions.

But I also have many helping hands. I have been keeping a list of people who have helped my family -- and the list only includes those who have set a foot in my house, run an errand, picked up a child, etc. That list numbers 26, and most of those have helped more than once. I know there are dozens more, maybe even hundreds more, who are praying for me and my family, watching out for my kids at church and school, and encouraging me online. I am truly humbled by the service that has been rendered and will continue to be rendered while we weather this storm.


On another note, today is the 13-week mark of the pregnancy. My doctor says that three days of a high fever shouldn't have harmed my little one. I'm encouraged but still worried (I'm a worrier!). More than ever, I look forward to holding this baby in my arms and crying with joy that we made day at a time, we made it.

Feb 16, 2011

Must-see TV

The lovely lady with whom I am privileged to present at Women's Conference spoke at a BYU-Hawaii Devotional with her husband yesterday. I just watched their address entitled, "Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness" online and had to share. You can watch the broadcast here or read the transcript here.

When I met her in January, my first impressions of Chris were remarkable. I immediately knew she was a deeply spiritual, powerful woman and I felt so lucky to know and work with her. Those feelings have only expanded as we have exchanged emails, and my respect for her grew as I listened to her biography and to her wonderful address!

I also loved the topic of the devotional, which brought back fond memories of my courtship with Garry. I have pretty tender feelings about my dear husband as he devotes his every waking hour to serving me in my time of need. It's hard to believe this wonderful life all began in a smelly boys' apartment 13 years ago...

The small people in the house

Are you sick of pregnancy updates? Me too. Here's a look at what else is going on around here.

Unbeknownst to me, Zach has enjoyed a season of respite from homework. I have asked him to do his homework every day, and he has reported it complete, but I have not checked it at all. Today I decided to follow up on his work, and he had eight incomplete math assignments, to say nothing of his spelling homework and reading projects. Oh, that child....he's taken advantage of me! I am very glad that I emailed all of Zach's and Tyler's teachers (including the assistant principal) about our crazy situation at home. The teachers have been very understanding so far!

Last night was our ward's Blue and Gold Banquet for Cub Scouts. The theme was "Through the Ages," and each boy was encouraged to bake and decorate a cake with his father to serve for dessert. Garry and Zach made a volcano that looked fantastic! I especially love the strawberry jam lava, which was a last-minute touch. All of the boys won awards for their cakes. Zachary brought home the "fanciest cake" prize.

Tyler spent the afternoon reading jokes from a book his cousin gave him for his birthday. (Sidebar: a birthday post is coming. We are having issues with our camera card reader for the fancy camera, which takes all birthday photos.) Most of the jokes were pretty long as you understood the play on words, which Tyler often didn't. So Tyler would read a joke out loud, then offer a pause, then say, "I don't get it," and then I would explain it to him. I found the exercise entertaining. I was also impressed when, as I was reviewing Zach's math homework, Tyler wanted to know about fractions. By the end of my explanation, he seemed to grasp the concept quite well. Smarty pants.

Lately Tyler has suffered from debilitating headaches. Last week the PA at our pediatrician's office diagnosed the headaches as migraines. What a bummer! Yesterday Tyler called from school with another headache. Garry had a conference call and couldn't leave work, so I carted Lexi to the school to pick him up. When I arrived in the office, I was completely overwhelmed by the effort involved with leaving my house. I was quite a sight, standing there with a sick baby and an IV pole. But I digress. Tyler responded well to ibuprofen this time and seems to be better now. Garry took him in to see the PA again (at her request). We are holding off on a neuro consult for now.

Gavin is expanding his social horizons. Every day, a kind mother in our ward picks up Gavin and Lexi at 9:00 a.m. and returns them to our house at noon. Six months ago, such a routine would have been a complete disaster, but now the Littles are thrilled to leave the house to play with friends. This has been a huge blessing in my life and theirs! Gavin has enjoyed such adventures as visiting the library, the park, and restaurants; having a Valentines party; eating lunch with someone new every day; and occasionally skipping his nap. Every morning he is eager to get dressed and fill his backpack with supplies. Every afternoon he bursts in the door and exclaims, "I always come back!"

This week I have hired teenagers to help me in the afternoons. The girls are mostly employed to entertain Gavin, who still runs a mile a minute and gets into everything. I am finding he doesn't just save his antics for me; he gives these girls a run for their money! I'm so grateful for the extra set of hands during a challenging time.

Gavin still asks me if I'm feeling better about ten times a day. He doesn't seem too discouraged that I always have a negative response. One of these days he'll get his wish. Listening to his prayers on my behalf is so touching. Gavin really has a tender heart.

Miss Lexi has become quite a cuddle bug. With her out-and-about adventures every day, she seems to relish time with her mama. She loves to sit on my lap and just melt into me. We read stories and watch shows together, and sometimes we just rest. I love our quiet time. I also appreciate the times when Lexi goes down for her post-playdate naps without a fuss. Usually she's only home ten minutes or so before it is nap time. She seems to know I can't chase her and just complies with the routine. What a sweet little girl!

Lexi has had an upset tummy for the last couple of days. I kept her home yesterday because she threw up Monday night (and then on me in the morning...that was fun). After that she really perked up and I thought she would be fine at a friend's house today. It wasn't until Lexi came home that my friend informed me that Lexi threw up as soon as she arrived and then slept on the couch. I can't believe April kept her all day! What a trooper. I'm not sure what we'll do with Lexi tomorrow. Maybe she needs another day with her mama.

The Baby has a strong heartbeat, which I was privileged to hear again yesterday. Baby is 12 weeks and 2 days old. Although the many medical professionals in my life can't make any promises about a happy ending, they have all told me that severe hyperemesis typically indicates strong fetal growth and attachment. That is my happy thought for the day.

Well, there's the rundown. Life goes on, even if a sick mama is confined to the recliner. I'm so grateful for all the people who are helping me and my children survive this phase!

Feb 14, 2011


I rarely join the family for dinner these days. The sight and smell of real food (let alone actually partaking) is usually more than I can stomach. But tonight the dinner conversation was hilarious. Some comments I overheard from the recliner include the following, in no particular order:

Garry: Surely licking a napkin is worse than eating a green bean.
Zach: No! It's not! I hate beans! I'm going to barf.

Garry: What was the best part of your day?
Gavin: Playing outside with Rachel.
Garry: What was the worst part of your day?
Gavin: Getting a Diego backpack from Granny.
Garry: Um...wasn't that fun? Don't you LOVE that backpack?
Gavin: Oh, yeah! That was the best part, too!

Lexi: I'm poopy, Daddy.
Garry: Really? Again? We need to get you on a schedule, Sis. This is three times in an hour and a half.
Lexi: I'm poopy, Daddy.

Gavin: We're having dessert for our dinner. Treats!
Garry: Happy Valentine's Day! (Passing out treats.)
Lexi: Whoa. Open dat pees.
Gavin: Look at my tongue. It's green! I'm going to show in the mirror.
Tyler: Whoa! Chocolates! What's in that corner one?
Zach: Do I HAVE to eat my beans?

Tyler turns seven

{Editor's note: This post was written more than a week ago, but between health issues and card reader issues, I couldn't add pictures until today.}

My Valentines baby turned seven on Sunday. Where does the time go?

Because of all that is going on at our house, I wanted Tyler's birthday to be as normal as possible. It isn't a party year (even birthdays only), so Tyler just had a special request for his birthday cake. Not too hard, right? Tyler put together a new Lego set, I whipped up a cake and frosting, and voila! The Harry Potter quidditch cake was born on Saturday afternoon.

Tyler opened his birthday presents on Sunday morning. His reactions to all of the fun packages were priceless; I wish I had video footage of those few moments! I fretted over what to get him this year, and I'm pleased to report that snap circuits have been a huge hit. He and Zachary played with them all afternoon.

By strange coincidence, Tyler had the opportunity to give a talk in Primary on his birthday. He didn't practice out loud one time before church, but I was pleased to hear his flawless delivery in Primary. Since we had to turn in the talk to the Primary presidency afterward, I included a couple of references at the bottom of Tyler's script. I forgot to tell him not to read that part out loud. Oops! Garry recorded Tyler giving his talk at home after church. Disclaimer: Audio track includes a screaming toddler.

On Saturday, Garry took Tyler out to buy a new bicycle from Grandma and Grandpa Bartle. They had success, and Ty is thrilled with the bike. The Sunday afternoon weather was glorious, so the kids and I (including Ivy, my IV pole) took a short stroll around the block. Afterward the kids rode their bikes in the cul-de-sac for a while. Tyler hasn't experienced many birthdays with terrific weather! I was happy for him.

Later in the evening, Garry made dinner and we finished off the birthday celebrations with cake and ice cream. I got out of bed in time to join a chorus of "Happy Birthday" and watch him blow out his candles with one big breath.

Tyler is a terrific kid. At seven, he is thoughtful and articulate; friendly and compassionate; intelligent and wise; funny and charming. He is blossoming at school and loving first grade. He is helpful at home and eager to please. Tyler is too tall for all of his pants (time for size 8), his shoes are getting tight (size 3 is next), and he always needs a haircut. He is a happy, growing boy, and we are so glad to have him in our family.

Happy birthday, Tyler!

Feb 11, 2011

PICC me, Valentine!

Garry and I ventured out for our 2011 Valentines Day date this afternoon. After hiring the kids' favorite babysitter, I dressed up in my comfiest yoga pants, favorite t-shirt, and Crocs slippers. Garry, who took the afternoon off of work, sported jeans, tennis shoes, and a Denver Broncos shirt and cap. We were ready for adventure and full of anxious anticipation as we got in the car. I leaned on Garry's arm as we entered our exciting destination: Memorial Hospital Central.

Garry selected the finest wheelchair possible (blue instead of brown) and gave me a lovely ride through the sterile corridors until we reached the oncology wing. After being treated to a course of paperwork topped with runaround, we met our escort for the afternoon: Del, the PICC nurse. She showed us our accommodations: a small procedure room with a vinyl bed, an ultrasound machine, and table full of mysterious tools. I took the liberty of vomiting before we proceeded with our scheduled activity.

Sadly, the next portion of our Valentine date separated Garry and I for a time, as Garry wasn't allowed to be in the room while Nurse Del inserted my fancy new PICC line. So he moved on to have a romantic dinner in the hospital cafeteria: a Pilly cheesesteak sandwich and a mint brownie. I dream of eating like that one day.....but I digress.

Nurse Del was a most hilarious companion. She made every effort to keep me laughing, although having one's arm invaded by needles and foreign objects is anything but amusing. She handled my tears and distress very compassionately and assured me that I would feel better soon. It was true; I felt better when Garry came back to hold my hand. Isn't that what Valentines do?

Once a chest x-ray confirmed that the catheter in my arm ended at the right spot above my heart (the superior vena cava, if you are well-versed in human anatomy), Garry and I were allowed to venture home. I had another lovely ride in the wheelchair, then waited for my "knight in dirty old car" to pick me up at the hopsital entrance.

My Valentine treated me to a five-star dessert at Sonic, where I ordered a grape slush and tater tots. We also purchased slushes for the kids since it was happy hour and drinks were half price. Upon our return home, I tucked into bed at 3:45 p.m. Nurse Shelly arrived at 4:30 to hook up fluids and Zofran in the PICC line. Then I went to bed for good, leaving Garry to feed and bathe and bed down four loud and crazy hooligans. Then he went to work to finish a big project.

Isn't that romantic?

Maybe not, but I sure love my Valentine.

Feb 10, 2011

Inside, outside, upside-down

Here I am, in all my pajama-sporting, IV-toting glory.
On this day, I actually took a shower.
There is a way to take a shower with an IV in place,
but I'm nervous about the procedures involved.
As it turns out, I've had three IVs in six days,
and every-other-day showers are working so far
(don't judge).

On Tuesday night, I fell asleep just before my IV bag drained completely.
When it dried out, blood from my arm went into the IV tubing and a clot formed.
Bye-bye, IV.
Yesterday a new nurse came to place a new IV. Her first attempt failed.
I begged her not to try in my hand (begged, I tell you),
but she did it anyway.
I was so upset about the painful location that severely hampers my functionality
that I needed to take a walk and clear my head.
So out I went, bundled against the 12-degree weather, IV pole and all.

I imagine I was quite a spectacle for the two or three people
who saw me from their cars.
Oh, well. My slow, slow walk around the block was invigorating.
My upside-down life is distressing at times,
but fresh air and sunshine just might be my ticket to sanity.

Feb 8, 2011

Focusing on the good things

As the days drag on in our "new normal" way of life, I'm having some clarity on priorities and needs and stuff. This sometimes involves crying. Note to self: buy tissues.

It's not all bad, of course. I have a new IV in a better place on my arm. I'm getting a bigger dose of Zofran. I kept solids down twice today. And it really helps that I love Shelly, the nurse who comes to my house. While I don't want to be sick enough that she needs to come every day, I really enjoy her company.

Also, my ward is providing some great service. The most helpful part is that some lovely lady picks up Gavin and Lexi for three hours every morning. So far, the Littles think it is a grand adventure. And today, the kind soul who signed up for the Littles took all four kids because school was canceled for weather. What a giant blessing.

Someone will bring the boys home from school every day, and a few times a week, someone else will come over in the afternoons to help with housework like laundry, dishes, and vacuuming. The cleaning lady (who I know and love) came for the first time today. Her job is bathrooms and the giant wood floor (most of my main level). Having those things spruced once a week will make a huge difference.

Garry has stepped up in a big way. He is the real reason we are surviving. From the minute he gets home at night to the minute he leaves for work in the morning, he is organizing and feeding and cleaning and playing with the kids. I don't know where we'd be without him. I emailed Zach and Tyler's teachers this week to let them know what is going on at our house. Several of them replied with pledges of support, as well.

The most challenging part of the day is the segment between nap time and bed time. These are the "witching hours" when I'm perfectly healthy, so it's not surprising that they are completely impossible when I have tubes coming out of my arm and gut, an IV pole to contend with, and constant nausea and headaches. The last two afternoons just about did me in. So I am exploring the option of hiring someone to help for a couple of hours each day after school to bridge the gap until dinner time. We'll see.

My nurse suggested that I find some mental coping strategies to help me stay focused on the positive things in life. She suggested taking a walk every day, to let the sun shine on my face. I haven't done that particular thing yet, since venturing out in the single-digit weather and four inches of snow with my IV pole doesn't sound very fun. But I have done one thing that makes me happy: I decorated a wall.

This is a work in progress, with motivational thoughts and scriptures that uplift and encourage. I hung photos of my newborns to help me remember that the end really will come, and that it will be happy. I am just 11 weeks along (199 days to go...), so the road ahead seems daunting. But good things are happening, so I am trying to stay positive.

Feb 6, 2011

circa 1981

When I was about two years old, my Grandma Dent made this dress for me. When I found out a little girl would join our family, Mom gave it to me for my daughter. And now it fits. Lexi calls it her "fluffy dress." I think she looks adorable.

pass it on!

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