Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Strength has nothing to do with it.

"Stay strong". It's the words we say when we know someone is suffering through an especially difficult time in their lives. When we know no other words will do "Stay strong" seems like a pretty safe alternative to all the stupid, fumbling, things that could pop out of our mouths at any given, panic stricken moment. I say panic stricken because when people hear others stories of difficult adversity the need to say something, anything, is overwhelming, and sometimes what we hear ourselves say is ridiculous. Some people never know that what they just said was completely insensitive, and others realize it the minute it pops out of their mouths; and then the blushing and fumbling just becomes more evident and uncomfortable for both parties.

I admit that I've done it to people. Said something because I felt it was expected and knew the moment it popped out of my mouth it was the wrong thing to say. And recently I've had it happen to me. While telling Puck's story I have had the typical responses of "he'll be fine, don't worry" to things like "it could be worse". But the most generic response seems to be "stay strong". So I started to think about that phrase...that "advice" if you will. And as much as I understand it's intent it just seems kinda...obvious.

What else am I supposed to do? Collapsing into a puddle of tears, while rocking in a fetal position and screaming why at my ceiling isn't truly a viable alternative. This journey isn't about "staying strong", it's about finding hope. It's hope that keeps me going from day to day. It's hope that gets me through to the next hour. My strength hasn't got a damn thing to do with it. I'm no stronger than any other mother in this type of situation. I do what I have to do because I HAVE to do it. But my "apparent strength" through the tough times is truly born from hope, not from experience, and not from sheer will. I have hope. And through the survival of this hope, I have found my own survival, and I will find the strength so many people say I should keep.

"Stay strong" should be amended to "Keep hope". And I will. I am.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Annoying little things.

Scott and I have been together for four years. Not a huge amount of time, but long enough to feel confident in our relationship and long enough to know we are steady and stable. It's also just long enough for all those cute, little quirks you used to love (or at least tolerated) to become the annoying little things you hate. Since this is my blog Scott won't get to enlighten you about the things I happen to do (although if he could I'm sure he would lay claim to my excessive need to critique him and less significantly...my sleep farting...although until he can prove this to me I don't believe it.)

Scott's list of annoying habits is much longer than mine...probably.

1. Drink Gulping. Drinking a nice, cool glass of liquid may not seem like something that could become annoying but when an 8 ounce glass of water is gulped very loudly, in 10 seconds time, it makes my left eye twitch. Why is it so hard to sip your drink? Must you leave yourself so on the edge of dehydration that when you finally do drink, you act as though you have been wandering the desert for 50 long years!

2. Decision making...or lack thereof. Why must I be consulted with every single decision that needs to be made. It's one thing to ask my opinion about something major...like a new car, but to require my input on every single, teeny weeny, decision the brain could ever hope to make, is another thing.

Example!

(Family goes shopping and now the kids are hungry, lets eat out! Simple right? WRONG.)


Carrie: Let's eat out
Scott: Sure, where would you like to eat?
Carrie:I don't know babe, you decide
Scott: Okay...fast food or sit down?
Carrie:Ah..I don't care...whatever you feel like"
Scott: Well what do YOU feel like?
Carrie: Look Scott, I'm tired, can you please just pick a place and I will choose off of the menu they have!
Scott: OK..OK..Um...what about the kids? What would they like?

At this point in the conversation I'm doing my best to bite back sarcastic retorts...and I admit, I'm not always successful. So instead I usually give a very audible sigh and reply...

Carrie: I guess fast food, they don't look like they will hang in there for long,
Scott: Okay, so there is a few fast food joints coming up, Dairy queen, MacDonald's, Burger King, where would you like to go?

 I wish I was exaggerating, at this point I really want to say "Are you Fucking kidding me!" But knowing there are kids in the back seat I reply instead with, "YOU CHOOSE".

Finally the decision is made, we get up to the take out window and he asks, "So what do you think the kids want?" Followed by "should I get them milk or juice?" Followed by "apple slices or fries?" and finally he repeats every question asked by the employee like "ketchup, drink tray, and how are you paying this evening?" Sometimes I wonder how Scott makes it through the day without me.

3. Sleep Fighting. Scott has a few annoying things he does when he sleeps. The first being he snores, VERY loudly. I have learned to sleep through it (for the most part) so this no longer irritates me. But the second thing he does is sleep talk. Most of the time he is incoherent so I never reply. But there are times when his sleep talking is clear and almost makes sense. He has even gone so far as phoning people in his sleep and having entire conversations that he has no recollection of later. All of this would be amusing except for the times when I know he's sleeping and I try and tell him so...

Example!

(Edie wakes up in the middle of the night, simultaneously with Gabe)

Scott : Weird
Carrie: What is?
Scott: How they wake up at the same time!
Carrie: Oh yeah. It is.
Scott: It's your fault you know!
Carrie: How is it my fault?
Scott: It's in your DNA
Carrie: How is that in my DNA?
Scott: Because you ride the camel too.
Carrie: um...I think you're sleeping.
Scott: No. I'm not.
Carrie: Well what you just said made no sense.
Scott: OH...no no... I didn't mean DNA. I meant you ride it too. So that's why.
Carrie: Scott...go back to sleep. You aren't making sense.
Scott: YES I AM.
Carrie: You're sleep talking again.
Scott: I'm not sleeping!!!
Carrie: yes you are, stop talking.
Scott: Whatever.

At which point he rolls over in a huff and in great offence. By the next morning he doesn't remember any of it. Arguments about whether he is in fact sleeping while he is most definitely unconscious is amusing now...not so much at two in the morning while I'm trying to get my own sleep.

There are definitely more things that can cause my left eye to twitch...but then Scott's claim that I over critique him ( I think he uses the word 'nag') would be proven correct...so I think stating three minor yet very annoying habits is probably good enough. It's also proof that even the most stable couples have moments where suffocating the other with a pillow would seem satisfactory...even fun.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nightmares and Smiles

In a few short weeks my life has become a contradiction. I always expected certain wonders in my life, amazing little treasures, especially in regards to having children. When my son was born, 7 weeks ago, I knew what some of those treasures would entail. One of them would be the first smile, just like the one he bestowed on me this morning. Huge, and wonderous. Gorgeous from ear to ear. My heart soared and I took multiple videos and then the thought came creaping in to ruin my enjoyment. It was barely a whisper, barely audible to my conscious brain, but it's a thought that can never be ignored when it rears it's ugly head. "What if he dies...What if this is what I'm left with...videos and pictures".

"What if". I hate it. The thought is ugly and invasive...like a cancer that has taken over my brain. My son isn't my son, he has become this defect. It makes me mad. It makes me mad that people see him that way...it makes me mad that my brain pushes it in my face day after day, hour after hour. It's so exhausting...this nightmare I'm living. I used to say so nonchalantly "I don't know what I would do if I ever lost one my babies". Of course I know what I would do. I would die along with them. I would change in ways I would hate. I would see the world in all it's dangers and become an overprotective, domineering mother.What would I do if that nightmare became real? I would hurt beyond all comprehension and I would struggle to remain sane.

But it's still beautiful...these things I have created, these creatures who have taken over my life. And no matter what fate has in store for me, I will always have the little things that will make the harsher contradictions in life worth it.

I will always have the first smile.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cardiology appointment

A few days ago I got a letter in the mail. It was from the Children's Hospital. For some reason I assumed it was a bill (even though we live in Canada and don't have to pay for anything medically). When I opened it, I discovered instead, that it was an announcement of Puck's next cardiology appointment.

They plan on doing an ECG and an echocardiogram, along with a half hour consult with his cardiologist afterwards. Seeing it all in writing made me gasp out loud. I don't know why it would surprise me. I knew he was having another appointment in early January. But I guess I was expecting a quick 20 minute echo like the last one... To see they are doing it for an hour, with a 20 minute ECG to boot... made my stomach turn.

I guess it really struck me, once again, how serious his heart defect is. I feed him, bathe him, change him, cuddle him, and other than the medicine I give him twice a day and the regimented feedings...it all seems so natural...so typical. I can almost forget how sick he is, and then moments like the letter just hit me extra hard.

I know his two month appointment is very important since heart surgery for this defect is performed between three and six months...but it's hard to imagine getting anything but good news. If we go into that appointment expecting that the holes are growing over only to discover they will be scheduling us for a surgery date...well I don't know how I'm supposed to digest that...how I'm supposed to handle that.

How can anyone expect a mother to deal with handing over their child to a perfect stranger whose job it is to slice said child open, crack their ribs apart, and stop their heart in order to repair the defect. How am I supposed to accept that my child's heart has to stop...that essentially he has to die...in order to save his life.

I just can't prepare myself for the horror of it. I can't believe that he will need surgery because the very thought of hugging and kissing him, and saying goodbye while they wheel him into the OR seems preposterous...torturous. How can I do that? How can I ever let him go knowing there's a chance...however small...that it could be the last time I ever feel his warmth next to mine?

How do I sit there for endless hours wondering if my son is alright? Wondering if there's been complications? Wondering if the surgery will in fact fix him? I know that his defect is notoriously difficult to close. I know that there can be residual holes, and that sometimes a second surgery is needed. I can't imagine ever having to do it once...but twice?

I know I'm getting ahead of myself. I know that January may come and we may get wonderful news. I guess my pessimistic side is trying to caution me, trying to force me to prepare. And yet I know...preparing for something so...unnatural...just isn't possible. So why worry?


Because I'm a mother...because I love him more intensely than my instinctual need to breathe.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Toddler Language

My son Gabriel is finally speaking in sentences regularly. I believe his vocabulary is now at an acceptable level which is a relief considering all the other things going on in our house right now. Although his vocabulary is now beyond a word count it's still somewhat indecipherable to people who don't know him. It's frustrating for Gabe and somewhat embarassing for me (and not in the way you would think).

I'm not embarassed that my son is speech delayed (his prematurity caused this)..what can be embarassing is trying to explain that my son did not just say what you think he said...seriously...I swear. I don't blame you for hearing what you heard. I've fallen for it as well and scratched my head at his foul language and where he could have picked it up. The first time he ever "swore" he was watching "Harry and his Bucket Full of Dinosaurs" and during his show he had hit his sister, so I was putting him in time out. He refused to walk so I had to carry him and the entire way there he was yelling and kicking while screaming "bull SHIT"... I looked at his father accusingly who just shrugged and stated "I don't say that"! Just as I was about to retort "Oh Sure, so where did he learn it from?" (because I know for a fact I have never said bullshit around him), I noticed that he was pointing at his show. It dawned on me that maybe he was trying to say "bucket" and and so I asked him!  "Uh huh, mom" he replied, "Bull shit".

video
Many other words can be misconstrued or are just completely indecipherable. The one thing he can say fairly clearly is "bum hole..." and unfortunately this is my fault. After giving birth to Puck I have had some...issues...with my bum hole. As any mother knows...hemorrhoids can be a pain in the ass (pun intended) after birth.  Well i'm extremely 'lucky' because I happen to have internal ones. So my dear husband went and bought me hemorrhoid suppositories (which I still have not had the courage to use).  The day he bought them I exclaimed "They look like bullets! I'm not sure I want to stick this bullet up my bum hole". Well Gabe took that phrase and ran with it. Now if he farts instead of saying "Oh! My bum", like he used to (and as though his ass were speaking and it was shocking to him), he now adds hole to the end of it. "Oh, my bum hole".  Awesome!

On one hand I'm relieved that Gabriel is speaking more, while being mortified that he is speaking more...Not only do I have to watch what I say...I have to decipher what he's saying because it's never what you think it is...or it's EXACTLY what you think it is...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Juggling

I know I may sound like a broken record constantly talking about my son's heart defect, but it has become my life. His health is my primary concern. My day revolves around him. He needs to eat every three hours which means I pump every two (he's too weak to breastfeed). He needs his lasix (diuretic) twice a day to keep his breathing regulated, and I need to sterilize his soother and bottle nipples constantly. Hand washing has taken on a whole new level of compulsion and we are now homebound other than doctors appointments because an illness will put him back in the PICU...or worse. He has doctors appointments every week to ensure he's still gaining weight and cardiology appointments every month. Then there is the typical care all infants need (diaper changes, sleeper changes, baths, belly button cleanings...etc) On top of all that I also have two other little ones to care for. I have to find time to make their meals, get them dressed, bathe them, brush their teeth, and put them to bed. Additionally, it's also important that I keep my house clean. Overwhelmed would not accurately describe how im feeling. It's hard.

Truthfully I have no idea how I have managed all this. I'm surprised I still have the energy to blog or write about any of it. But it's the one thing I do for myself. I have this NEED to keep a journal of this journey for my kids. I need to explain to them why I haven't been as attentive as they want or need. I know they are still young and probably won't remember mommy walking around on auto pilot, or that I couldn't play cars or dolls with them because I had to do laundry, or feed puck, or pump. But I still feel guilty about it. My kids never signed on for this. No one asked them if they wanted another sibling and a sick one at that.

So I guess what I'm trying to say, Gabe and Edie, is that i'm sorry. You two are still the other half of my heart. You are still my world. And if I could split myself into two people I would in a heartbeat. I can only hope that one day you will understand. It may take until you have children of your own, especially if Puck is sick for years to come, to understand why I have had to compromise my time with you. Please know that I don't love Puck any more than I love you two, but he requires a little more attention just to keep him healthy...to keep him alive. I'm doing all this for the benefit of our family. We need him. You deserve to have your baby brother by your side for the rest of your life. I need to keep our family whole because living without any of you would be like living without a piece of my soul.

I love all of you. More than I could ever hope to put into words and I will do anything I have to in order to ensure you all remain happy, healthy and whole.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Time

Time. It's how we measure our days and our lives. The seconds tick by and we barely notice it's passage. We barely notice the years fly past us. Nothing lasts.  Everything changes. All living things eventually die. Time. It runs out for everyone. We all have our own internal clocks, tick, tick, ticking in our ears. We get so used to the sound that we forget to appreciate the moments; we forget that our time here doesn't last forever.

 In a blink of an eye my premature son is almost three years old. My 17 month old daughter is sleeping through the night and my newborn baby is over a month old. And it's because of him; because of this little baby whose barely had a chance to live, that the tick, tick, ticking of time has become noticeable again. His life, as short as it has been, has made me appreciate the little moments a little more.

And I'm sure all of you out there are saying "thank god it's not me"..."Thank god it's not my baby". Sure. Why wouldn't you? I've done it. Being relieved that it was another person's cross to bear when some horror befell my neighbour, or the person on the news, or the friend of a friend, is normal, and understandable.  It could never happen to me... Logically we know it's possible that misfortune could visit our doorstep... but deep down, in our guts, we never believe it could truly, ever happen...to us.  And then suddenly - suddenly it does. And now my life is the one people pity, and shake their heads at, and think "thank God, it's not me". And this story I thought my life could never become is being written out before me at an alarming rate.

Time is moving much too fast now. I'm painfully aware of the clock. The one that counts down the seconds we spend here on this earth. I'm aware of it because I can see it over my son's head. I can't see how long his clock is wound for, but the ticking is so excruciatingly loud. It invades my deepest sleep. Tick. Tick. TICK.

 It's true. My son's heart is sick, and his clock is ticking in my ears, but at least I'm aware of it. I no longer have the luxury of forgetting that we all have a time limit here. All. Of. Us. And who knows...my heart sick son's clock may run ramshod over yours. My husband may attend your crash scene tomorrow, or you might have an insidious disease waiting to be discovered next week. Your clock may be running down as you read this... But you don't believe that do you...because it could never happen to you...

Time. It's our greatest gift and our worst enemy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hormones and Normalcy

Ever since finding out that Puck was sick my world flipped upside down. I feel like the past couple of weeks I've been running from an invisible enemy that has been gaining on me. But since I've escaped isolation with him (my other two petri dishes...Gabe and Edie...are finally healthy) things have gotten back into a somewhat normal routine. One of the heart moms I have met online told me this would happen. That as far fetched as it seemed, eventually I would get used to the mind numbing fear. I have to admit I didn't believe her. But slowly I have gotten used to it. Don't get me wrong, it's still there. It still wrenches me from moments that would be a little funnier, or a little cuter, if the voice in the back of my head didn't pipe up "I hope Puck get's to do this when he's older". But all in all, the voice echoing between my ears, has been silenced with the busy of life and raising three kids.

It's nice feeling free enough to bitch about normal, mundane, typical BS. For example my dear husband has no concept of what it means to clean. He took care of Gabe and Edie for a few days (after our help left and while I was still in isolation) and when I came down the stairs one night (while Scott was putting our little sickos to bed) it looked as though my house had been used as a preschool for 30 kids...and the teacher died before he could clean up their mess. To say my excess hormones from post partum and breastfeeding didn't overtake me in a rage of tears and curses would be a lie. Scott's terror of me ensured I didnt have to clean alone...he tackled the dishes after he came from the kids rooms and saw my rage contorted face.

AND since I have been gone for nearly two weeks from my kids lives (not that they noticed) their behaviour is out of hand. Clearly daddy let them get away with bloody murder! Literally..I think they might have killed someone...probably the preschool teacher...But in all fairness he did admit that things came apart at the seams without me around (which made me feel GREAT) and he admitted that I'm the General of this household and that he's merely my lieutenant. Damn rights. Now drop and give me 20! dollars...I need a treat.

So life has become a normalcy that I can live with...which will make everyone else's lives in our household a little easier!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's a time for miracles

Ever since the birth of my son Gabriel in 2008, Christmas has taken on a whole new, shiny veneer. It's exciting seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child - through the eyes of your own child - and this Christmas was one Scott and I were looking forward to the most. It was going to be our first Christmas as a complete family. From here on out there would always be three kids on Santa's knee, three kids to eat my holiday baking, three kids to tear wildly at the presents placed neatly under our fake, but cute, little tree.

And then the words congenital heart defect sent our world into a tailspin. Family get together's this year has been cancelled because we can't allow Puck to fall ill. Santa pictures at the mall are not going to happen either for the same reason. On top of all that the doctors also informed us that the lasix *may not* continue to work once Puck hits six weeks to two months of age. If he's going to take a turn for the worse and need more medicine or more hospital visits it's going to be at Christmas time.

So Christmas, with all it's new, shiny veneer, has been tarnished by the knowledge that my son could wind up failing to thrive right around the time Santa is saying "ho ho ho" over our homey, detached townhouse.

But I have two other children. Two other babies who don't understand any of this. They deserve a great Christmas with their new baby brother, and I am bound and determined to give it to them. So although I'm terrified that Puck's heart will hit new, all time lows this holly jolly Christmas...I can't allow that fear to ruin Christmas for Gabe and Edie. So I have talked Scott into buying a Santa suit and playing Santa for our photos this year. And I'm taking votes on what Christmas goodies to bake. And decorating the Christmas tree will be an exciting and new adventure for Gabe and his sister.  And on that very first Christmas together I plan on taking a million photos, and hours of video footage, while my kids sit on Santa's knee, eat my delicious holiday baking, and tear wildly at the wrapped presents under our fake, but cute, little tree.

And maybe...just maybe...God will see fit to grant us a Holiday miracle...and in January at Puck's next ultrasound I'll hear the words "the holes are growing over". That would be the best Christmas gift Scott and I could ever recieve.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My little warrior.

Just a quick post to say that little Preston has gained weight again! I can now relax until his next weigh in! I hope he continues to get wonderfully rolly polly! I love this little guy so much! Stay strong my little man!





A Mothers Perspective


~ by Stephanie Husted ~



You passed me in the shopping mall...(You read my faded tee) You tapped me on the shoulder...Then asked..."What's a CHD?" I could quote terminology...There's stats that I could give...But I would rather share with you...A mother's perspective.



What is it like to have a child with a CHD?

It’s Lasix,aspirin,Captopril…

It’s wondering…Lord what’s your will?…

It’s monitors and oxygen tanks…

It’s a constant reminder to always give thanks…

It’s feeding tubes, calories, needed weight gain…

It’s the drama of eating…and yes it’s insane!

It’s the first time I held him…(I’d waited so long)

It’s knowing that I need to help him grow strong…

It’s making a hospital home for awhile…

It’s seeing my reward in every smile.

It’s checking his sats as the feeding pump’s beeping…

It’s knowing that there is just no time for sleeping…

It’s caths, x-rays and boo boos to kiss…

It’s normalcy I sometimes miss…

It’s asking do his nails look blue?

It’s cringing inside at what he’s been through.

It’s dozens of calls to his pediatrician…(She knows me by name…I’m a mom on a mission)

It’s winters homebound…and hand sanitizer…

It’s knowing this journey has made me much wiser.

It’s watching him sleeping…his breathing is steady…

It’s surgery day and I’ll never be ready.

It’s handing him over…( I’m still not prepared…)

It’s knowing that his heart must be repaired…

It’s waiting for news on that long stressful day…

It’s …praying…it’s hoping…that he’ll be okay.

It’s the wonderful friends with whom I’ve connected…

It’s the bond that we share…it was so unexpected…

It’s that long faded scar down my child’s small chest…

It’s touching it gently and knowing we’re blessed…

It’s watching him chasing a small butterfly…

It’s the moment I realized I’ve stopped asking why?

It’s the snowflakes that fall on a cold winter’s day…

(They remind me of those who aren’t with us today)

It’s a brave little boy who loved Thomas the train…

Or a special heart bear…or a frog in the rain….

It’s the need to remember we’re all in this plight….

It’s their lives that remind us we still need to fight!

It’s in pushing ahead amidst every sorrow…

It is finding the strength to have hope for tomorrow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

if I could do it over...

Dear Puck,

Today I sat here wondering how different life would be if you had been born healthy and whole. Life wouldn't have changed much for me. I guarantee you that I would have felt like things were infinitely harder and certainly more busy, but the routine and the things I took for granted...and even the complaints I had would have remained the same.

There were definitely times in my mommy life where I let frustration get the better of me. Times where I yelled "WHAT!" at the two year old who incessantly asked, "Mom, ma, mommy, mama, mum?" Times where I ignored the cries of my children as they pounded on the locked bathroom door just so I could have two minutes of peace to myself. Times where I cried from sheer exhaustion because my daughter refused to sleep without me. And there were times as a wife when I railed against the unfairness of a husband who worked terrible shifts and a dangerous job and who sometimes forgot to hang his coat up when he got home.

My complaints were so typical... and what I wouldn't give to have those complaints again.

Now my mommy life has turned into one of nurse. I count your breaths per minute and supply you with the medicine that prevents your heart from failing. How clean I keep my house or what I make for dinner, or how long your siblings watch TV for doesn't matter anymore. Every frustrated sigh, every fear, every want or need I've ever had - it's all so small now - pathetic.

And I can't help but wonder how simple life would be right now, if I only had Gabe and Edie to take care of. That sounds so horrible. But sometimes I think I can't possibly do this. I can't possibly live if I lose you. You are so wrapped up in my soul that I would never be able to entangle myself from your memory. If God takes you home I won't be left with a hole...I'll be left with that beautifully wretched piece of you, decaying me from the inside out...

So would I go back? Would I prevent a pregnancy that late February afternoon if it meant I would never have to stare that ugly, monstrous possibility of burying my own child in the face? If I could erase all memory of you and forget that you existed...would I?

No.

Because erasing you would be worse than losing you. It would be trading your life - your impact upon this world for a little bit of solitude...and nothing is worth that price. This journey it has to mean something and I think it's just this... Love is unconditional - it is given no matter the consequences - no matter the agony it might cause. That broken heart that beats within your chest has already imprinted upon my own...

And all I have to do is close my eyes and I can call up so many tiny attributes of your being. Your hair is darker than your siblings and it grows in such a unique way, cutting across your forehead and growing over your temples. Your eyes are such a dark blue that I am convinced you will be my first brown eyed child. Your nose is petite and perfect, just like your sisters, and you have a tiny red dot on the tip of it. Your lips are like mine, full and pouty and kissable; and you have perfect pianist fingers...long and beautiful.

How could I give any of that up... even if it meant a moment of peace?

I would do it all again so I could know those things about you. Those sweet little features only a mother notices. And although my life is harder now, and sometimes full of fear... it's also full of love, and hope, and all the tiny things I now take the time to notice.

I love you Puckaroo.

Mom.

Friday, November 26, 2010

To Win the Lottery.

Last night my husband and I were talking about all the things we have had to overcome as a couple since we first fell in love almost four years ago. We have definitely had our fair share of craziness! As Scott stated yesterday, "with all the odds we have managed to beat you would think we would have won the lottery by now". Looking back I would have to agree.

First of all we met on the internet. Now I'm not sure what the success rate for online dating happens to be but I'm thinking it rarely produces a couple as in love and as stable as Scott and I. And after four short months of dating we moved in together...which again is usually a death blow to most new relationships...but Scott and I only got stronger as a couple.

Approximately six months after moving in together we began to discuss babies and when we wanted to start trying. We decided to try after our vacation that summer. We had sex once at the end of July 07 before changing our minds and deciding to wait another year... only to discover we were pregnant two weeks later. The odds of falling pregnant at any given time is 25 percent...I'm assuming if you only tried once in an entire month the odds probably fall even lower than that.

Six weeks into my pregnancy Scott went on a high speed chase in the tiny town we were currently living in. The person they were chasing crashed and his partner got to the scene a minute or two before Scott did. He radioed Scott that the perp was armed but Scott's radio cut out and he didnt get the message. After pulling up to the crash Scott exited his vehicle only to run for cover as gunshots rang out over his head. If the guy had better aim...the odds are Scott probably would have been shot that day.

A few short months later at 33 weeks and 6 days into my pregnancy, I had a preterm premature rupture of membranes. This phenomenon occurs in about five percent of women.

Our son then spent 2 weeks in the NICU. During that time his main problem was eating but he thrived in every other aspect. The doctors were pleasantly surprised to discover that Gabe never lost weight, and never developed jaundice. He beat those odds and because of it was sent home four weeks earlier than expected!

Six months into Gabe's life we moved to the lower mainland for better job opportunities and wound up getting pregnant with our daughter after a drunken Halloween party. She was unplanned but totally welcome. A few weeks into my pregnancy I began to bleed. We went for an ultrasound expecting the worst (50%  of early bleeding in pregnancy leads to miscarriage). Her heart was beating and it was beautiful.

At 38 weeks my water broke before labour once again (PROM). The odds of this happening a second time is about 15%. Edie was born with an infection and spent two days on antibiotics in the NICU.

Eight months into my daughter's life Scott and I celebrated the Gold Medal won for men's hockey in the 2010 Winter Olympics! I was breast feeding at the time and still didn't have regular periods, and assumed wrongly that it would be nearly impossible to fall pregnant.

Puck was born at 37 weeks and one day, on my brother's birthday, and a week into his life was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. The chance of being born with a CHD is approximately .4%.  He was born with the most common CHD ( a ventricular septal defect) but the most uncommon kind of VSD (swiss cheese). Only 5% of children with ventricular septal defects have the type Puck has.

From all the information I have gathered on VSD there is between a 20% and 50% chance the holes will close over on their own. Scott and I are hoping that once again we can beat the odds and Puck will never need surgery.

At this point I think Scott and I need to start buying lottery tickets on a daily basis...we might actually win!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Swiss Cheese

Scott and I headed to Children's Hospital today to get Puck his second echocardiogram. The tech was nice if not a bit aloof and the meeting with Dr. W afterwards really helped to clarify what was wrong with Pucks heart. The doctor said that the two lower chambers of the heart that pumps blood to the body (left side) and to the lungs (right side) should be closed off from eachother. As we all know Puck's aren't. I was under the impression he only had two holes in his heart but the doctor confirmed today that there are literally too many holes to count (they call this a "swiss cheese" Ventricular Septal defect for obvious reasons). Apparently it wasn't evident how many holes there was when the first ultrasound was performed. The doctor then went on to explain that this was due to the pressure in the lungs still being high enough to mask what they call the "shunting" of the blood from one side to the other.

He explained that while in the womb the pressure in the lungs is equal because they are in water and aren't breathing air. A few weeks after birth the pressure in the lungs begins to drop and this is when most babies with a moderate to large VSD will begin to present with problems. The first symptom usually being rapid breathing (which is what Puck was rushed to the hospital for). The doctor explained that blood is lazy and will go where it is easiest. So instead of being pumped up through the aorta to the body, the blood is being squeezed through the holes from the bottom left chamber into the right and back through to the lungs. Essentially Pucks lungs were getting twice as much blood than they needed . This in turn makes the lungs work harder because now they are the equivalent to a wet sponge, essentially soaked in blood. So Puck was having to draw in breaths with lungs that were much heavier than normal which resulted in little to no weight gain in the first few weeks of his life (in fact he lost two ounces before they put him on the diuretics) due to all the calories he was burning in order to just draw a breath.

The diuretics drain the excess fluid off the lungs and treats his high blood pressure enough that Puck no longer has to work so hard in order to breathe. Now that he is breathing normally he is gaining about an ounce a day. And we have hope that as his heart grows the holes will close over on their own without intervention. This is really good news but the doctor cautioned our optimism by saying that Puck's lungs still have not reached their lowest possible pressure. This won't happen for another month. It is at this time that we will know for sure whether his congestive heart failure can be managed with Lasix (diuretic) alone. If it can't be, he said the first step is to add another medicine (he didn't say what). If that also failed to help Puck thrive then they would supplement my breast milk with a high calorie formula. If that failed to work then the next step would be a NG tube so he wouldn't need to expend any energy at all to eat; and if THAT failed then heart surgery would be his only option left. Usually if open heart surgery is needed it is performed between 3-6 months of age.

So that's the news. He's gaining weight for now. If he stops gaining, or begins to lose then we will have to add more medicine; and if worse comes to worse then open heart surgery will be performed in a few short months.

I hope it doesn't come to that. But if it does I have been told I can rest assured that it is the most performed and successful heart surgery done on infants. Somehow this does little to assauge my anxiety but at least I know there are lot's of options and lots of solutions.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Surreal

This past week has seen me tredge through hell and back. I wandered the fields of hope and despair and have come to rest at the valley of acceptance. When I first heard Puck's diagnosis and realized how seriously sick he was my heart broke. No mother ever wants to hear heart failure put into a sentence regarding their child. And let's be honest.."heart failure" equates to death in most people's minds. The heart is definitely a necessity and when it's failing that generally doesn't seem like a manageable problem.

But the weird and true fact is.."congestive heart failure" can be managed...for years. I don't know how long I will have to "manage" his heart failure for. I don't know what the future holds. He may require heart surgery, he may not. All I know for certain right now is that he's alive, he's thriving, and my fears of waking up beside him to find he has passed away are slowly fading.

It's a surreal world I live in now. One where I find myself being thankful that the only problems with his heart is a ventricular septal defect. But I suppose I'm trying to take the advice I gave to Puck before he was even born. The reality is that life will give you good times and bad. And their will be moments where you will "cry real tears, and ache real aches, and hurt real hurts" and as much as I have wanted to skip over this period of time, the fact is it has made me stronger. It has made me a better mother. I no longer take my children's health for granted. I no longer believe "that it could never happen to me" because the world doesn't work that way. The world doesn't care if your a good person, or if the baby you are crying over is innocent and blameless. This world will give us all challenges, and it's how we meet those challenges which will define us as a person.

I told you Puck to never live in the future because we never know how far that future goes. I told you that when your moment came to grasp onto it and enjoy it while you could. So that's what I'm doing baby boy. Yesterday gave me that moment...when I saw that scale and realized you had gained weight! And so I'm going to hold onto that moment for as long as I can. Because today maybe all we have, and today you're heart is beating, and your lungs are breathing, and your body is warm and snuggable. So my moment today is going to be all the cuddles I can manage.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away...

Yesterday I took Puck to his doctor's appointment hoping against hope that he had gained weight, or at least had maintained his birth weight. So as my husband lay our squirming infant on the scale I held my breath. When the doctor read off 6' lbs 8 oz Scott and I both felt it. A swift kick in the solar plexus...Preston has lost two ounces since birth. Scott who had been filled with optimism suddenly took on a look I haven't seen. He looked desperate, and scared. A look im sure I mirrored. Since the weigh in things have gotten progressively worse, as hard as that is to believe.

Puck has been hit hard by the cold that has been circulating our house despite our best efforts to keep him well. With a head cold his breathing has become laboured once more and I'm terrified it could turn into a lung infection in his fragile state.

Today we are meeting with a new pediatrician so she can assess him and determine what if anything can be done about this new turn of events. I'm trying my best to remain upbeat but it's hard to do when I'm sleep deprived and terrified.

I feel like our lives have been put into stasis. I can't be around my other two kids because of their colds, I don't sleep much because of my worries over Puck, and my anger at the whole situation is becoming nuclear. I just want to break something. I want to scream and yell and blame something or someone. Instead I sit here and write because I dont know any other way to express such horrible emotions.

I feel so helpless. My stomach is so tied up in knots it's hard to choke down food. I eat though. I eat so I can maintain my breast milk, but truthfully I haven't felt hungry since Puck first wound up in the hospital. I wish I could see the future. I wish I knew what was coming and how to prepare. Instead I have to consider every possibility and it's killing me. I find myself taking pictures and videos of him...just in case... And just admitting that makes me cry. A mother shouldnt have to contemplate such possible scenarios. It's not fair.

But this is the hard part of motherhood. The parts you have no control over. The parts that make you break out in cold sweats and make back room deals with any and all parties. It's the desperate prayers and the quiet tears. It's the sobbing I did on my husbands shoulder this morning. It's the love you feel so deep that when it's threatened... cuts you to the soul.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear Puck.

About a week ago I wrote all about how you were turning out to be my easiest baby. I gushed about how great you were and how much you slept and rarely fussed, and how I would have to wake you to feed because you barely made a squawk. I didn't know it was because your heart was making your lungs work too hard. I didn't know you were burning too many calories and so didn't have the energy to be awake...or even to eat on time.

But it doesn't matter anymore. It all seems so trivial now. Hoping for a good baby. Feeling as though I needed an "easy" infant because I already had two young ones at home. All I care about now, little one, is that you get well. The medicine the doctors prescribed for you has finally regulated your breathing. It took three doses and one and half days but you are currently breathing normally.

So now with our new situation, and these new challenges we have to overcome, I need to make you some new promises.

I promise, Puck, that no matter how scary this gets I won't shut down my feelings for you. I won't let myself detach in anyway. You will be loved as much and even more than before. I promise never to be afraid to love you.

I promise that I will do everything in my power to get you well. I will be your champion. I will make the hard decisions. I will do what you cannot do for yourself yet. And I will never give up.

And finally I promise that your family will always stand by your side. We will all take turns holding your hand, stroking your head, and telling you how much we love you.

Love is a very powerful healer Puck. And we all adore you so much. If I could I would trade places with you. I would give you my heart. I would do what I had to in order to ensure you never had to endure such a difficult journey. But I don't have that power. As much as it kills me to admit it, I can't fix this, not without outside intervention. So I will consult with the cardilogists and the pediatricians and any and every doctor I need to. And in the end I will do what a mother does best. I will love you. Everyday.

XOXOXOX

Mom.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prayers for Puck

Ever had one of those dreams where things become so ridiculous that you become aware you're dreaming while you're asleep. I feel as though I've awoken in a nightmare. One I can't escape from. I can't seem to wake myself up no matter how hard I try.

My world began to crumble around me a few days ago. I noticed Puck was having real problems breathing. I googled how many breaths a minute an infant should have and it said the average is 35-45 breaths; I was counting Puck's breaths at 85-100. At first I assumed he had caught a cold from his siblings. So we phoned the nurses hotline and they told us to bring him to the hospital right away.

Scott took him and I stayed behind to take care of the other two kids. I was still convinced it was probably just a cold. After a few hours Scott called to say they had sent him for a chest X ray. When the results came back they had discovered his heart was a bit enlarged. They did an EKG and determined he had a heart murmur. It was then arranged to have him transfered to Childrens Hospital the next morning for an echocardiogram. I collapsed after taking that call from Scott. I found a quiet corner away from the kids and sobbed. Scott came and picked me up and dropped me off at the hospital. I spent the night with my little baby, praying he was going to be okay, while scared to death that he was sicker than even I could imagine.

That morning they transferred us by ambulance to the hospital. He was hooked up to monitors and his breaths per minute was ranging from 65-125. He was too unstable to move to cardiology so they brought the ultrasound machine to his room. As I sat there watching the monitor I could hear the doctors quietly talking to eachother. Words like "muscular defect" "holes" and "congenital heart defect" were used. I tried my hardest not to cry. I tried not to break down in front of the cardiologist and technicians. I wiped the tears from my eyes the second they appeared. "Don't cry, Don't cry" I kept saying to myself over and over and over. He needed me to be strong. I tried my best.

They had a meeting and came back to talk to me. They told me all the findings they had made. His heart was enlarged and he had spots on his lungs in the X ray they took. The ultrasound showed that the muscle that seperated the right side of the heart from the left has tiny little holes along it. The problem is they still don't know for sure what is causing the breathing problems. The spots on his lungs could be caused by the cold virus, which in turn is making his breathing laboured. Or his breathing problems could be caused by the right side of the heart pumping too much blood back into his lungs because the right side is a bit enlarged. All infants they explained have hearts that work harder on the right, but not to the extreme Puck's is working. Or it could be the holes that are causing all the problems. Unfortunately they just don't know what the answer is yet.

The cardiologist said that babies with congential heart defects don't grow, they will be a failure to thrive. Puck has gained weight since birth. But they don't know if it's true weight gain, or if its caused by the excess fluid accumulating around his lungs. So they have given him a diuretic to drain off the excess fluid. On Thursday the Pediatrian will weigh him and determine if his weight gain was caused by the excess fluid or not. If it is determined he hasn't gained weight since birth than it will indicate that his heart is the problem.

I feel as though my chest has been placed in a vice. Poor Puck is breathing too fast, and I feel as though I have stopped breathing altogether. I can't contemplate the worst case scenario. It's too horrible to bear. He has to be okay. His heart has to heal because if it doesn't...neither will mine.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A letter to my son.

Dearest Puck,

In the middle of the night on November 4th you made your way into this world. You screamed for a good hour and nothing I would do could calm you. Eventually, you tuckered yourself out and slept through the night and you haven't cried since (except for a little incident where you peed on your own face).

You are such a good baby. You wake to feed every three to five hours with barely a squak to let me know you're hungry. The last day you have been a bit gassy but some gripe water has helped you out quite nicely. So far you have proven to be my easiest baby. Unlike Gabriel I don't have any of the new mommy jitters. I don't have to worry about you being too weak to eat, or about your physical development. I don't have to see multiple doctors and nurses for assessments, and I don't have to be terrified of every cold virus that enters my home. And unlike Edie you know how to sleep! You don't cry or whine 24/7 like she did, and so far you haven't developed the dreaded colic like your big sister had.

You are my final baby. My last infant. And i'm a little sad about this. I can't imagine what it's going to be like...all your milestones...bittersweet. And because you are my last I plan on cherishing every last one of them...from the first smile to your first steps. I will celebrate these moments beside you, cheering you on, and encouraging your independence... But I promise you, my heart will break a little. I don't know what it is about my babies...but it seems you all grow up much too quickly.

You are six days old today Preston just old enough to start losing your umbilical cord. Another moment I never thought I could be sad about. But it was your life line to me for so long. Your ultimate dependence on me, and already you are telling me you don't need me as much anymore. With this very first step towards independence I feel the sudden urge to make you a few promises...

I promise that although you are my last you will be just as special as my first.

I promise that although you aren't the only boy in the house, you will be recognized as your own little person, with your own little personality.

I promise that although you won't get the one on one time like your big brother did, you will get family time, something highly cherished and revered in our household.

I promise that although some moments you will absolutely detest having older siblings, there will be moments when your sister or brother does something extra special for you. A kiss when you fall, or a hug when you cry, or a whispered "I love you" after you have fallen asleep.

I promise you that your dad will wrestle with you, just as much as he does with your siblings. He will beam with pride at every new milestone, much as he did when he discovered that we had another precious, little boy entering our busy household.

And I promise you little Puck, that I will kiss your hurts, hold your hand, and cuddle your fears away. I will love you in every way I know how. You are my last little baby and because of this you have a special place in my heart. Just like Gabriel who was my first, and your sister whose my only daughter. Each of you is special, and unique. Each of you will always be my precious, little babies no matter how old you get, no matter how independent you become. Nothing will change how I see you. I will always look at you and see that screaming little body who broke into my world and forever changed it for the better.

I love you so very much. With all my heart and soul. So grow up little one, grow up and become a daddy yourself. There is not a thing in this whole, wide world more precious than the bond a parent has with their child. This I swear, and it is the biggest promise I will make to you.


XOXOXOX

Mom.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Preston's birth

November third came with the expectation I would have a baby that day. I had started contracting at 2:30 in the morning and continued until five. I fell asleep at around 5:15 and slept until eight without another contraction to wake me. I realized than it must have been false labour.

That morning the kids were their usual selves. Edie was cheerful and giggly and Gabe was a typical two year old (bipolar to say the least). I decided to get them out of the house and we walked to a nearby coffee shop and I treated them to orange juice and chocolate chip muffins.

That night I was tired and cranky, my back was killing me, and I decided that spaghetti would be the easiest meal to make. I chatted on the phone with my sister and complained about all my false labour and told her that I wasn't sure if I would know when true labour began. After dinner, daddy brought out a much anticipated present for Gabriel and Edie; Toy Story 3! As we sat there watching the movie I started to get contractions again. I told Scott that I was going to have a bath so I could stop the false labour and get some sleep that night.

After a few hours labouring in the bath I realized the contractions weren't getting better and in fact were intensifying in pain. That's when it dawned on me that it had to be real labour. After a lot of cursing and muttering about no one answering their phone we finally got ahold of Scott's brother and grandparents to come over and watch the kids.

We headed to the hospital and after an assessment they determined I was 4 cm dilated, 80 percent effaced, and not going home anytime soon! Soon they had me in my room where I immediately hopped into the shower for my back labour. The nurse brought me "the gas" to help with the pain and soon I was sucking back on that while my husband sprayed hot water on my sore lower back.

After a half hour the gas was making me really woozy. I told Scott I had to get back to the bed. The nurse came in during the transfer and noticed that the tank had been leaking. This explained Scott's wooziness since we had hotboxed that tiny bathroom pretty good! Scott later told me he thought he was going to pass out. After an hour of labouring on my hands in knees in the bed I requested something with a little more kick for my pain. The nurse gave me a single dose of fentanol before I told her I had to push. She checked me and I was 10 cm dilated.

The doctor was paged and after she arrived I pushed with abandon and within 4 minutes my son was born. I recieved two stitches and spent a quiet night alone with my last and final baby. And for once my little one wasn't taken to the NICU to live his first few days of life without me.

We named him Preston and we call him Puck (he was conceived after Canada won gold at the 2010 winter olympics). His brother and sister adore him (maybe a little too much). Edie throws a fit if she can't hold him and Gabe calls him "my baby Puck". He's such a perfect little guy and boy do I love him; boy...do we ALL love him!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

37 weeks!

I made it. My body did what I believed to be impossible. I carried another baby to term. With my pelvis ground to nearly nothing thanks to SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction), and my exhaustion hitting all time highs, I'm relieved; and done. I won't do this again. This is my last baby and I'm content with the notion. Truth be told, three kids in three years seems like a good time to end this.

Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, I live for them, but one day I would like to get back to my life, and aspirations. These babies will always be the best thing I will ever do, but i'm ready to start the mediocre, the middle of the road goals, the things easily set aside when you have a child yelling mom at you 100 times a day.

One day I would like to go back to school, take some writing courses and see where this faded dream might take me. It's already brought me here. A journal for my kids. Memories and stories that won't completely fade overtime. I like to think that some day my great-great grandchild will bring in an entry or two for show and tell. But we all hope to have a story survive throughout the generations, don't we? I know my story is already being figuratively written through the people my children will become, but I hope they can have something more literal to hang onto.

I also hope they never let their dreams fade, not until they have given it their best shot, no matter how unlikely the dream may seem at the time. 37 weeks. A huge goal I have reached and accomplished. Now in a few years when this baby is in school, maybe I will accomplish more of the mediocre...just for me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

On a Dark and Stormy Night.

He had done this to her. The man who stood in the corner, quiet and still, he had brought her to this god forsaken place. She begged for mercy. The tears had long dried upon her face, the pain was too much to even cry about. "I can't...please" she whispered her plea, begging for a reprieve. But he didn't move a muscle, didn't budge from his stubborn perch in the corner. It was his deep blue eyes that betrayed his emotions. They were filled with excitement and a touch of fear, his hands shook at the very prospect of what was about to be. She knew he wouldn't help her, indeed he couldn't.

Her screams bounced off the lime green walls. Their dingy, peeling paint a testament to the hard life they had led and witnessed. The myriads of women who had suffered at the hands of men was a secret these walls whispered amongst themselves years after the screams had faded and the memories were forgotten. The floors, a distant cousin, had tasted blood and known the agony first hand. It held it's own secrets but dare not whisper it like the walls did. Some secrets were better left unspoken.

Her blood pooled under the table beneath her. The woman's agony heard and tasted by the quiet witnesses of the cold, hard concrete that surrounded her. The man had finally moved and stood next to her bedside. He held her hand as the pain rippled through her sore and tortured body. She found comfort in his touch, despite what he had forced her to endure. She gave one final push and her child emerged, his screams matching hers. Suddenly the woman's pain seemed to be forgotten; comforting this squirming, screaming mass was all that mattered. The tears that had long dried up, flowed from her again. Love replaced pain and once more the walls whispered the names of all who had come before them.

Her son was born that dark and stormy night, but it would not be the last time those cold, concrete witnesses would observe the secrets that all women held within them. Life isn't born, it is forced and wrenched into being by a love that knows no bounds. A woman's power can never be matched as it is by her will alone that life is allowed to exist, and indeed, flourish.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tiny Feet. For Kris.

"There is no footprint too small, that it cannot leave an imprint on this world".

Dear Chance,

October 15th, 2007, you were born into our family. You never took your first breath to exhale your first cry, but rest assured baby boy, this was done for you by your mom, and your dad. They say a picture says a thousand words, but a thousand tears will speak infinitely more. Your mom's tears tell a story of incredible love and unbearable pain. You see baby boy, as mothers we all share the same dreams. Before our babies take their first breath we imagine...

We imagine the first cries, and the first steps. We wonder about the first words, and what our child's laugh will sound like. We live your entire lifetime inside our own heads, within our own imaginations, before our baby's ever enter this world.

Your mommy dreamed of the day she could hold you, and kiss you, and cuddle your tiny body to hers. But she imagined your lungs would be full of deep and beautiful breaths. She imagined the cries they would expel and how it would be her arms that would be your comfort. Never in her wildest dreams would she imagine your body so still; or that your eyes would never seek hers. She could never imagine a world without you in it.

Oh but baby boy, you would be so proud of her. Somehow she found the strength to walk out of that hospital without you bundled in her arms. She made it through, one painful day at a time, and when she was as healed as a mother could be, she created her second miracle. She went through your brother's pregnancy scared and a little unsure. Her dreams for Gage put on hold until she could be sure, that his tiny feet, would do more than walk beside yours.

But don't worry baby. You haven't been replaced. You will always be her first born, and you will never be forgotten. And on occasion, when she looks at Gage, she can see you. She can hear your laugh, and envision the amusement in your eyes. She can almost see, the way you would play with your little brother, giggling at his army crawl and trying to hold his hand for his first steps. Her love for you will always imagine the life you should have had, a curse and a blessing, if ever there was one. You see because your life counts, it held impact, and on the day you meet again, maybe you can show her that all those dreams she had weren't wasted, and you lived them alongside her all those many years.

You would be three years old today, Chance. Happy Birthday baby boy. I'll light a candle just for you. And your mom will pick up your brother, and cuddle him a little more close and she'll imagine...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Picasso

I wonder, is it inherent in all people to want to create? Does everyone start off in the world as little artists and are only dissuaded through proclamations of talent, when compared to another, in which we give up this inherent want? I always enjoyed drawing and coloring, but realized at a young age that any people who possessed eyes could see that art was not my talent to wield.

My circles always look like ovals, my lines are never straight, all animals come out looking like disfigured dogs and I swear I have no idea how I passed geometry as any shape I drew came out looking hexagonish...

So as I sat on the floor this morning drawing and coloring alongside my kids...a thought dawned on me. My kids don't care that my pumpkins look like upside down icecream cones, or that the bats look like mice with wings! All they care about is that mom is creating with them, and that I think every crooked line, and oval circle is wonderfully beautiful. They drew and colored to their hearts content, only stopping to hang a picture on our mahogony cupboards.

Edie and Gabe became so focused on their projects that they never noticed how intently I watched them. Their art speaks volumes. Gabe is so careful in life. He's cautious and slow and never ventures far from his regular comfort zone. He looks before he leaps, and is much like his mother in this regard. But his art allows him a freedom I have never seen come from him. His strokes are bold and courageous. He's quick to color outside the lines leaving streaks of rainbows across my tiled floor. He bravely proclaims that his pictures are of his family and always points out the eyes on our faces. It's the one thing he's meticulous about drawing...Almost as though he knows that eyes are the windows to the soul, like he knows that love can be found there.

Edie is Gabe's polar opposite. She's never cautious in life and will no doubt be the first of our brood to break a body part. She'll always run before she walks and will never look before she leaps. She trusts that this fine line she travels is only worth taking if she journey's to its farthest edge, always perilously balanced on a cliff that could spell disaster or wonderous adrenaline...Oh, but her art! She's slow and careful and every stroke is measured with intense concentration. Every dot, and every line is placed there with exact precision. She adds colors only when it suits her, and only the exact color she deems is worthy. If her brother switches markers with her mid creation, she will throw a fit and refuse to add more to her picture until the color she requires is back in her hands.

Maybe that's what true art is...discovering a piece of ourselves so imbedded in our psyches that it can't escape otherwise! Or maybe i'm over thinking this, and it's just a whole lot of fun!

Friday, October 1, 2010

False Labour

Last night I was sitting on the couch watching Hawaii Five 0 (the episode I missed on Monday)"book em Danno" -heh so sexy- when it began. The pain started on my left side and radiated across my belly. Soon a pattern became discernible and my hips and back started to feel it too. I didn't panic right away, Hawaii Five 0 offered a distraction and I thought the false labour would be over after a few painful contractions. When it didn't stop by the time my show had ended I began to think that maybe this was the real deal. The contractions were coming quite frequently and lasting for longer than the braxton hicks allowance of 30 seconds. Given the pattern, the pain, and minute long contractions, I assessed the situation as possibly problematic. I drank a few glasses of water, hoping the labour was being brought on by dehydration.

After another ten minutes and two more painful contractions I told Scott we might want to figure out how to get me to the hospital without dragging the kids all over hells half acre (I live in a different city than the hospital I have chosen to deliver in). Why would you do that? The hospital I want to deliver in is brand new, has a NICU, and is really only 25 minutes from where I live! The need of a NICU seems to be a recurring theme in my pregnancies, so I figure its better to be safe than sorry!

I wandered upstairs and updated my Facebook status, looking for distraction and some encouragement from any friends crazy enough to be awake and online at 1130pm at night! After finding what I needed I paced the floor. I chewed my bottom lip to smithereens waiting for the labour to intensify or stop. My main worry at that point was the possibility of the contractions causing my water to break. Labour has a better chance of being stopped if your membranes are intact -of course- and with my history of PPROM I was more than a little concerned! After what seemed an eternity my false labour trickled to a stop. And right on cue...Edie began her endless crying campaign. I tell ya...if it's not one kid driving you insane with worry (thanks Finale), it's another driving you insane with no sleep!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Milestones

Well kiddos, you guys are getting so big. I'm always astounded by the new things you do week to week. Today I was struck by how independent you both are becoming, and it breaks my heart a little.

Oh Gabey the Baby, you are picking up new words at an astounding rate, and although I can't quite understand them all yet, I know they are, in fact, true attempts at the English language! You mimic a lot of our words now, attempting to say a word you have never heard before or one that still gets you tongue tied. Today you tried to say "top drawer" when I explained to you where your underwear was in your dresser. You managed to say "top" alright, but drawer came out all jumbled. We praised your attempt none the less.

This brings me to one of your newest milestones! You now love to pick out your own clothes. If I do it, you absolutely refuse to put it on and insist that you be allowed up to your room to fix my apparent lack of fashion sense! On the other hand, your sense of fashion is quite...unique! Today you came down with a bright blue robot shirt and brown and green camo pants...I looked at your daddy and shook my head, "He gets this from you"! I stated. "Get's what from me?" your daddy asked. "The colorblind look" I replied. But of course you aren't truly color blind! Im sure of this as you now know the majority of your colors. The only colors you seem to confuse is red and pink and that's more than understandable!

And finally your best achievement and milestone to date...You are potty trained!!! You have about one accident a week and it is usually a pee accident due to not being able to get your pants off in time. So daddy went and bought you a ton of jogging pants! The logic in this, of course, is the idea that you can take them off a lot faster...Who would have guessed that you would think jogging pants were a walking fashion disaster!

You my little man are growing up so quick. You feed yourself, pick out your own clothes, attempt to dress yourself (although you still need some help with this), you brush your own teeth, are gaining more and more communication skills, you now know your colors, and have mastered potty training...What's next? School? My God...where does the time go? I love you my baby...and no I will probably never stop calling you that!

Well my little Edie the Sweetie, you have developed quite the personality. You are asserting more of your independence by demanding more of what you want. You now take your mommy and daddy on little jaunts around our house while pointing to snacks or drinks or toys that you want us to get for you. If we aren't quick enough to follow you, you throw a fit and scream and jiggle all over the place.

You also love to wrestle with your brother and you copy almost every move he makes...like climbing on the couch, scaling the coffee table, or jumping from high dangerous places. The other day you split your lip while playing tag with Gabe. Of course you probably could have avoided the injury if he hadn't run into you (on purpose) and you hadn't acted like it was the funniest thing in the world the other 4 million times he's done this to you. You just aren't quite big enough, or coordinated enough to keep up with him yet. Yet being the operative word!

Speaking of words, you have added a few more to your vocabulary. You have been saying mom and dad for a while and now attempt to say brother. You say up and down, as well as don't, done, and stop (essential words with a sometimes overly aggressive, big brother). You call your little doll "baby" and enjoy feeding and cuddling her. And just recently you have gained the words "bug" and "dog". Two words your brother is also obsessed with!

You are quite the little charmer and enjoy hugging and kissing all of us. You still enjoy being rocked to sleep at night and you love to be cuddled and held. With all your toddler advancements you are still my little, baby girl, but I know, as with your brother, one day you won't need me to rock you to sleep. One day it won't be necessary to pick out your clothes, or decipher your words, or change your diaper. One day soon, you'll be like your brother, further from my arms, and closer to your own sense of self.

You two are so amazing. But I think I can wait to see how truly amazing you'll become. So do me a favour, and slow down a bit.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Sis"

Now that I'm a mom I get introduced to things like cartoons, and action figures, and the imaginary, consumer world of today. I allow my kids two hours of tv during the day and most of the time it's the same shows over and over and over.

The other day the tv went on a little earlier than normal and we ended up watching the Berenstein Bears, and as with all kid things i'm forced to endure, I thought about the sheer stupidity of some of the crap that now inundates our precious babies. "How ridiculous, why would anyone name their children 'Sister' and 'Brother'", was the thought that continually teased my brain. Deep...I know.

Then Gabe looked over at Eden and said "Hi, sis!". Edie smiled and waved and said "Hi,Brothe". I blinked in surprise. Gabe always calls Edie "Sis" because he just can't get his tongue around Edie or Eden, but Edie has never attempted to call him anything! And you would think that when she did attempt to name the bane of her existence "Jackass" "Gabe" would be her first attempt rather than "brother" because it's easier to say. That's when I realized that although they had names, Scott and I always referred to them as "Sister" and "Brother". Statements like "Gabe don't hit your sister", or "Edie, your brother needs a hug", continually reinforce the fact that they are indeed related and moreover that there true names aren't Eden or Gabe but Sister and Brother. Suddenly the Berenstein Bears don't seem so ridiculous...But what about the show "Franklin"! Why the hell is he the only animal with a real name? He should be called "Turtle", no?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The World

My home is cramped and full of noise. Sometimes the walls cave in on me, collapsing around my limbs and crushing my torso. Screams echo through these walls from sources unknown; squeals of delight, and shrieks of pain penetrating my once soundful slumber in a cacophony of thunderous sound. I do not know the cause of such unbearable noise except that it is called gabrieleden. Just when I think I can't take anymore, silence reigns and I uncurl my body as best I can and let my fingers explore the world around me.

What I find is astounding. The walls of my house are smooth and warm and seem to breathe on their own accord. The water that keeps me safely cocooned is always being replenished and I like to taste and breathe it regularly. Oh but the blessed silence enables me to hear THE sound! The rhythmic beat that I have heard for as long as I can remember is reassuring and relaxing. I like to listen to it's beautiful music after a long hard day of gabrieleden attacking my little piece of asylum. Soon I feel the need to dance and all I want to do is stretch and roll, and kick, at the squishy walls around me.

The Mom doesn't always enjoy my gymnastics but I find her voice soothing even when it's berating me for my constant movement. The Dad isn't around as much, but I like him best I think. His voice travels through the walls much easier than the rest of them, almost as though he's lying right beside me, just on the other side of my sanctuary. He tells me about The World and I think I will enjoy it there. But what if The World isn't as wonderful as the home I have now? What if the gabrieleden thing is out there, waiting for me? Should I be afraid?

The Mom tells me she loves me and although i'm not sure what this means, I think it suggests that I don't need to be afraid. She won't let the gabrieleden hurt me. She will keep me safe, just as I am now. I'm sure of this.

The World...I wonder if you float there too? The Mom says she does...on cloud nine...because of me. I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dear Finale

Dear Baby,

Today you are 30 weeks old and I find myself asking, "Who are you?"; shame on me.

Such a simple question. One we are expected to answer in a convoluted, 1800 word essay in High School. A question we ask ourselves, and are asked of us, our whole lives. It seems like such an innocent question. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I had no idea, baby. I racked my brain, and searched my soul, and felt like a failure when I didn't know the answer on the day I graduated high school. And yet I find myself pondering this question of my own kids. What future will they have? What career path will they follow? Who will they marry? How financially successful will they become?

You haven't even been born yet and I find myself wondering about such inconsquential matters. Stuff that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. The light and happiness I find in my life right now, baby, has nothing to do with career, or finances, or even the man I married. My happiness is found in being content with the life I lead at this moment. Perhaps that's the secret to being happy. Perhaps the simplest answer is to live in the moment, and not in your future. And yes, there will be moments that are hard, and even seemingly unbearable. You will cry real tears, and ache real aches, and hurt real hurts, and as much as I will want to take these moments from you, I will not. And as much as you will want to skim past these times, and look to a brighter day, you cannot; for it is these moments that will make you recognize and embrace the happier ones. Because at the end of the day it is that person left standing, that person who found the silver lining and kept going, the one who survived and grew stronger that will be able to answer that nearly impossible question. Who am I? And 'who you are' doesn't have to be answered in any one way, and it certainly doesn't have to remain the same answer day to day.

At this moment in time I can tell you a little bit about who I am, but I cannot gurantee any of these traits, save one, will remain the same. I am stubborn, sarcastic, and a little bit rebellious. I am narrow minded, and yet flexible if given to the right circumstances. I am from a broken home, was going to be a lawyer, and never completed college. I became a chambermaid, a partier, and at the pinnacle of my confusion at life and who I was supposed to be, I met your father. Soon thereafter I conceived your brother, and I became a mother. And this one event, this one addition to my life - now so ingrained in me I barely recognize the girl I was - this is the one thing that will never change.

I am a mother. I am your mother. And I will love you as much as your siblings, and I will hold your life in greater esteem than I hold my own. I will bake, and cook and clean. I will cuddle, and hug and kiss, and tell you everyday I love you. I will celebrate your first steps, laugh at your first joke; I will read you your favourite books and sing you songs at bedtime. I will let you sleep in the middle when you need some extra comfort; and I will cry your first day of school, and on your last.

I am your mother. And I will be there for every milestone. And who you will become, will be written through your own experiences. Some of which will be given to you by your father and I, and some of which you will seek entirely on your own. And my wish for you and your siblings will always be this;

To be happy.

I am a mother. My happiness is found in living that moment everyday and for the rest of my life. I can't wait to see where you will find your happiness.

Live your moment, baby, no matter how or when that moment comes. Live it, enjoy it, and don't spoil it with the future.

I love you.

Mom.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Spaceship Train

Two Huggies boxes sit side by side, Gabe in one, Edie in the other. "Sheep Shane" Gabriel replies as he transports Edie and I on a ride through his imagination. Thanks to my wonderful toddler translating skills I know he and his sister are riding in a spaceship train. Gabe grasps the flaps of Edie's box ship and pulls her closer "Sis, sheep shane, Chooo Chooo". Edie Merely smiles at her brother, unsure of the game they are playing but ecstatic to be included none the less. Her brother's eyes take on a look of wonder as he points to some far off land in the distance, he glances at me - co pilot - "Home!" he states and off we go.

He grabs the flaps wings of his box spaceship train, manually manuevering them and stearing their ships to outerspace. "Vvvrrroooommmm", then he leans down and pushes some buttons in his huggies box cockpit. He and Edie zoom off to some alien landscape, giggling and smiling at eachother. After ten minutes of interstellar travel Edie loses her patience for the spaceship train game. Suddenly Edie stands up and Gabe panics. "SSSSIIIIISSSSSS DDDOOONN'TTTT DOWN!!!" he screams, while trying to push Edie into a sitting postion. We haven't docked!!! She's jettisoning from her space pod too soon! Edie tips her box spaceship, and crawls to safety. Gabe uprights the slightly damaged vehicle while shaking his head. Foolish move, he thinks, she could have been killed!

Gabe pushes some more buttons and raises the wings of his spaceship train. It's time to complete the journey home, with or without his sister. Then disaster strikes!! "A HOOOOO" he screams at me "uh oh". He jumps from his spaceship and runs to the desk interstellar docking station/trading post, desperately looking for some tape. I look at his space ship train and notice that "the hole" he's referring to is the handle for the diaper box...catastrophe...damage to the hull. Gabe runs back to his box ship, shrugging at me, the desk interstellar docking station/trading post has run out of tape, he'll have to make do with smoothing the flap down with his hand. He jumps back in and resumes his journey home.

But it's a long, arduous journey without any pit stops in between, and soon there's a puddle under Gabe's box and a look of disgust on his face. I grab a cloth and tell him that the box is dirty now and he has to get out so I can clean up, and just like that the spell is broken. He gets out of his box and sits on his potty...remembering what is supposed to happen when wearing big boy pants...but realizing now it's too late. His cockpit has to be thrown out much to his dismay and soon the spaceship train is all but a faded memory. Edie's box remains intact however, and soon the spaceship train becomes just a train, and I tie a string to the box steam engine, so he can pull around my tupperware his cargo. Hopefully this time Gabe's imagination will permit bathrooms on board so another box spaceship train isn't ruined!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Worst fears.

If you belong to the world of parenthood you know what fear I speak of. As a parent we all share it. That unimaginable, totally despicable, horrendous nightmare. When we hear the stories from parents who have experienced the totally unimaginable, we all cringe a little inside. To lose a child. The very words, indeed, just the very thought of it turns my stomach and tightens my throat; threatening to cause me to vomit and choke on it all at the same time.

I can only imagine the kind of pain that would cause. I can only imagine how it would change a person. What that experience would strip from you. My kids are my life. I live and breathe them. I have no idea how parents pick up and move on after surviving that horrible, living nightmare. I'm not sure I could. I don't know if I would ever be strong enough to manage it. When I lost Gabe in that campground, when the thought entered my head I may never see him again, when that horrible nightmare was becoming reality and taking on a life of it's own...I had a little taste of what it would be like to live without your everything.

He was gone for less than two minutes, but it was the longest two minutes of my life, and it was long enough for me to watch my world crumble around me. Just as a neighbour was carrying Gabe back into the campground my panic was turning nuclear. My sister in law later stated how calm I appeared, and I can only reply that if he had been missing for a few seconds longer she would have seen someone completely lose it.

I was jogging back and forth, unsure of what direction to look in, clutching Edie to my chest, trying to match my breath to hers, trying desperately to suck air into my lungs and feeling faint nonetheless. Helpless, confused, and utterly terrified, I prayed someone, some evil someone, with intentions unknown...and yet too known...hadnt taken him. My family fanned out in every conceivable direction. My cousin Jamie shouted to look along the river bank, and he began to run to the swimming area where Gabe loved to play, just in case...in case... he had fallen in. My head jerked to the river, and my knees grew weak, "he can't swim" was all I could manage to think. A scream threatened to escape from my tightened throat, bile rose and cut off what breath I had managed to suck into my lungs. Edie cried as I crushed her body to mine. Just then, at the beginning of my panic induced collapse, a lady came walking into our campground, my son on her hip, his tears caused "by falling" she stated, but he was otherwise unharmed. I collapsed into my chair, my knees no longer strong enough to keep me upright, but he was safe and I scrubbed the panic from my mind. I scrubbed the thought of drowning or kidnapping from my thoughts because you can only live with them briefly before they rip your heart out. Every now and then I think about those few minutes he was missing and I feel that familiar panic pour through my veins and I have to shut my brain off, while forcing my thoughts on happier memories.

So why am I remembering those moments today? Why am I writing about our worst nightmare as parents? Because a woman on my blog list lost her child. She named her blog "514" today because it's been 514 days since her baby girl Maddie passed away, and because it was 514 days her child lived and graced their lives with her presence.

I can only imagine the pain she must feel daily. The sucker punches she has to endure while raising her daughter's younger sister. The moments filled with laughter and yet still tainted, always tainted with the laughter she will never hear again, with the life that should have never been lost, with that moment NO parent should ever have to endure. A living nightmare that she can never wake up from; and one which I refuse to imagine for very long, lest I drown in this sour, sticky air.

Friday, August 27, 2010

For the Record.

Dear Gabe and Eden.

As you may well know, being kids yourselves, children are the best miniature comedians the world will ever produce. The stuff you two have done or said since the beginning of your lives has never failed to put me into stitches. Because I am your mother, and am pretty much obligated to embarrass you with stories of yourself to your teen friends and future boyfriends and girlfriends, I have decided to record some of the most hilarious events in your young lives to date!

Gabriel.

Event 1. Diaper change in the NICU.

We were young parents, ill prepared for the undertaking of caring for a premature infant. We were stressed, tired, and in need of some serious TLC and laughter. Then one day, during a diaper change, you pissed all over your own face. I was mortified and was screaming at daddy to "put the diaper back up, PUT THE DIAPER BACK UP", and I'm not sure if it's because your father is a bit sadistic, or if it was because he was laughing too hard, but you ended up emptying your entire bladder contents all over your own head. The funniest thing about the whole ordeal was watching your poor little reaction! You shook your tiny head from side to side trying to avoid the waterfall of pee hitting you in the face, not to mention trying in vain to catch your breath while being drowned in your own urine. CLASSIC.

Event 2. 6 weeks old at Grandmas house.

Another daddy diaper moment was brought to you only a few short weeks later. I think you were trying to punish him for his horrendous treatment of you earlier. Daddy had you on the guest bed at grandma Jefferson's house and was kneeling, face level with your ass...im not sure what the logic of this was...but just as daddy had slipped a clean diaper under your skinny butt, your tummy rumbled and out shot projectile poo! Daddy got the diaper up just in time, but I can still imagine him being an instant slower and getting a mouth full of infant crap! I really wish to this day he had, it could have been the best diaper story of all time.

Event 3. Trip to Victoria.

Approximately 3-4 months before your sister was born, your father and I took you on a trip to Vancouver Island. We visited friends and relatives and stayed in a variety of hotels. One of them was in Courtenay (The Best Western), and as with all great quality hotels, our room was beautifully decorated with breath taking floor to ceiling mirrored closets. The instant you saw yourself you got extremely excited and ran full bore at the child in the other room...never slowing for one second and never realizing that the floor did not keep going...that it was merely a reflection of our own room. You hit those mirrored doors so hard I thought for a second that there would be damage to them and you would be stuck with 7 years bad luck... starting with the multiple stitches you would need...Turns out the mirror was just fine, and so were you and I think I laughed for a good week after that.

Event 4. Edie's homecoming.

The day your sister came home was a momentous occasion, but if we thought you would let your sister have one day to be the center of attention...we were wrong. After your nap your grandma Jefferson went to get you from your room. I was snuggling down with Edie for a nap of my own when I hear my mom yelling for me. I run to your room where I'm immediately hit with the smell of crap. My mom merely looks at me and says "he got his diaper off..." With your diaper off and your little butt hanging free, you thought it would be a good idea to squat, take a crap on the rug then pick up the poo and smear it all over the walls, door, carpet, and yourself...Welcome home, Edie...

Event 5. 6 weeks after your sister was born.

You have always been a kid with instant karma. If you hurt someone the universe will slap you down in nearly the same second the act was committed. This is unfortunate for you, but fun for me to watch. Your little sister had just come home and although your jealousy was mild compared to other kids your age, it did pop up every now and then. This particular day you ran at your sister (who was strapped into her rocking chair) and hit her with one of your toys. Now I don't know how many times I've asked you not to run with food in your mouth...or for that matter to be gentle with Edie...but Karma would be your teacher this day. The minute you swung your toy train and connected it with her little, innocent, infant head, you choked on the piece of marshmallow you had been eating, barfed, slipped in it, and landed flat on your back in your own vomit. The dazed and confused look on your face was priceless!

Event 6. Potty training.

My first attempt at potty training you was only successful for a week, but in this time you managed to make me gag and shudder, and I'm sure this was your plan all along. You were doing awesome with the potty training and I was so proud of you. You rarely had accidents and when you did I asked you to help me clean it up (which you did with a weird sort of fascination). One day I was preoccupied with cooking, cleaning or attending to Edie (who knows) when I happen to look over at you and notice you are slurping some sort of liquid off my hardwood floor. My eyes scan the immediate area for cups, or bottles and when I don't see anything my shock and horror is instantaneous. "SCOTT" I scream, "STOP HIM"...Your daddy asks why..what is that? When I exclaim "He's not wearing a diaper, what do you think it is?" ,daddy again enters a state of hysterics (and is less than helpful) and you, my little man, look up at us with such a mischievous little grin that it's hard for me to claim that you were too young to know what you were doing!

Event 7. Mommy's tired brain.

You and Edie love to steal each other's toys and I'm constantly playing referee. Her favourite toy to play with is your Toy Story action figure "Woody". One day as you were sitting side by side, you snatched your action figure away from her. "Gabriel!" I said sternly, as Edie started to whimper, "Why won't you let your sister play with your little Woody" My lecture just kind of trailed off there... I still think that naming a child's favourite movie character 'Woody' was an inside joke at PIXAR.

Event 8. Diaper Cream.

You have a weird obsession with diaper cream. You love to rub it all over yourself. The first time your father and I caught you doing this you were hiding behind our bed, with a tin of penaten, and had it all over your chin and lips...it kinda looked like you had a white beard going on. I found it hilarious and took a picture! The next time I caught you doing it, I was tired and in pain, and you had managed to cover yourself...head to TOE...I was less than impressed that time!

Event 9. Flying poop.

You have been potty training for nearly two weeks now and you have only had one accident. This one accident was met by an intense look of shame and an attempt to hide behind my curtains. When I finally coaxed you out and told you it was okay that everyone had accidents, I got to taking your soiled pants off. Just as we were nearly home free your pant leg caught on your ankle and as I gave one last strong yank on your pants, they turned from garment to sling shot, and the poop that resided in them flew a good five feet..and landed on my couch! I tried not to laugh too hard so you wouldn't think pooping in your pants was hysterical...but it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

Eden.

You my little girl are not quite as adept at doing things to make me laugh until I cry; however, you are the most lovely and charming little girl, and do a million things that make me say "awwww". But don't get me wrong...you do have a few stories.

Event 1. What's that!

You and your brother have bathed together for quite a while and it hasn't been until recently that you two have showed any real interest in each other. One day, as your father was bathing you (as rare as this is) I hear that tell-tale, hysterical laughter coming from your dad. I join him in the bathroom and ask him what is so funny. Your dad tells me that you grabbed Gabe's dink and yanked as hard as you could, dropping Gabe like a ton of bricks and making him yelp in pain. You and daddy thought this was hilarious...Gabe was, of course, a little less than impressed.

Event 2. Owie.

You soon grew to hate bath times and would fight me tooth and nail when it came to getting your hair washed. As I was about to lean you back and rinse out your hair, I warned your brother to back off because you liked to flail and I didn't want any injuries to occur. Gabe backed off a few paces and I dunked you in the water, and on cue you started to kick your legs as hard as humanely possible. While I'm feverishly rinsing your hair I hear "OWWWIIIEEEE"!! emanating from your brother. I glance at him and see that he is in a half squat position with your foot caught between his legs...poor Gabe...he just can't keep his junk safe from you.

Event 3. Here Horsey!

Your father and I took you and your brother to the fall fair in Chilliwack. We visited the petting zoo first. Gabe loved to run past all the animals making all their sounds, and trying in vain to communicate with them; while you sat contentedly in your stroller. As we were passing the miniature ponies, one leaned down to sniff you. The look of horror on your face and the flinch that brought your foot in a wild kick which landed directly on the ponies nose, was only matched in intensity by the wild ripple of laughter that oozed from your father and I. The pony seemed to be the only one not laughing.

Event 4. Bouncing Baby Butt.

One day, before a prenatal appointment, I was shaving my legs in the sink. You and your brother were playing in the hallway (stair landing) at my feet when I heard Gabe say "Poo, mom, poo". At first I wasn't sure what Gabe could possibly be referring to when I notice that you, my sweet angel, are naked as a jaybird. When I swing my foot from the sink I almost put it directly into your dirty diaper. When I look down at you, I see that you are happily bouncing your bare, poopy butt all over the carpet at the foot of the stairs...Your sheer look of delight and Gabe's look of utter disgust is what made this moment so memorable and so hilarious!

Event 5. Bare ass.

While I was doing the dishes I heard you and your brother's peal of laughter coming from the bathroom. I immediately knew that whatever was going on, wasn't good, as the majority of the time you two are at each other's throats. When I reach the bathroom I notice that there is paper hanging from your brother's mouth, and in your hands and I start to scold you guys for playing with the toilet paper. My confusion begins when I notice that there isn't any toilet paper in the bathroom...but you, my dear, soon cleared up that mystery when you walked past me and your bare ass was hanging out of your freshly changed diaper like those old fashioned pajamas with the ass flaps... I realized then that Gabe had chewed his way through your diaper...for what purpose i'm not entirely sure...but i think it has something to do with me randomly biting your little baby butts!

Event 6. Cracker.

You are notorious for eating other peoples discarded food. If Gabriel leaves so much as a crumb on his plate you will go after it with a zest I have never seen before. After snacks one day, Gabriel left a peanut butter covered cracker on his plate...if you can call a cracker he's licked half to death peanut butter covered... and you picked it up as per usual. You brought it over to the couch, with the intention of eating it after you were finished your cereal bar. Soon you forgot it was there and went on your merry way. A few minutes later you wandered over to the couch and rested your head on it and when you brought your head back up, you had a cracker stuck to your forehead. The fact that you didn't notice and wandered around with it plastered to your face until your daddy saved you (I was having too much fun laughing) made my day.

Well kiddies, that's all the stories I have about you so far, but don't worry I will keep recording them so that I can bring them up at inappropriate times during your teenage years and young adult life!

Love,

MOM.