Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why mommy requires coffee...

Gooooooood morning, everybody!

Yes, it's 8:01 a.m. and no, I'm not really that chipper. I am still working my way through my first cup of coffee. Given the night we had, I'll probably need three or four to get through the day. I went to bed way too late after dinking on the interwebs and finding an interesting web story of some Scottish fellow from the turn of the 20th century who lived in Malaya, fell in love with a local girl, and then suffered a horrible bout of malaria. I really didn't expect to read all 6 chapters, but I did. Then I checked my email before bed and discovered that my best friend had sent me a link to this neat website called Shelfari. It's basically a virtual bookshelf and I have to admit, it's pretty addictive as I finally called it quits at 1 am. Oops!

Michael and I were awoken about 3 am from a loud whirring noise. Turns out Michael had somehow jammed the remote for his side of our sleepnumber bed under his pillow and activated it with his noggin whilst sleeping. It scared the bejeezus out of us and I had to laugh. Billa manages to find the remote occasionally and press the button which scares her silly (this was how the remote got under his pillow in the first place); now we know how she feels!

Billa came in about an hour later and Mommy spent a very frustrated hour and a half trying to get her to go to sleep. Finally, I got so mad I picked her up and took her to her room. Michael comforted her after she got up from there and let me have an hour or two of blessed sleep.

And after all of this, it has been quite the eventful day so far. Billa has already bumped her head once, had two meltdowns, broken two glass votive holders and managed to cover the bathroom floor in milk and then proceed to "draw" in it. [sigh] And it's not even 9 am!!! I need more coffee.

In the meantime, enjoy the picture of Billa playing keyboard!


Toodles,
Kelly

Thursday, June 25, 2009

HAYDEN IS HOME!!!!

Good news, folks! Baby Hayden has come home! Thank you all in advance for all of your prayers and well-wishes. I know that our friends appreciate them and they are grateful to have their littlest one home with them safe and sound. Hayden's ANC has steadily gone up and when they released him on Tuesday, it was over 2500! Because of the cleft palate, he is still having to use a feeding tube, but his pediatrician and the doctors at Dell Children's gave his folks clearance to take him home so long as they learned how to insert the tube themselves, which they have mastered. It's a lot of work for him to try and suck on a bottle, so they have to supplement with the tube in order to make sure that he gets the right amount of food to increase his weight. Because he is so small, he isn't allowed to lose any weight and will continue to have many pedi visits over the next few weeks to monitor that closely. But at least he is home.

I would have reported this earlier except that I have been sick the last five days with some sort of cold/summer flu/respiratory infection and too exhausted to do anything besides sleep. I started feeling ill last Friday and by Saturday morning I was so ill I had to call in the reinforcements (read: the grandparents) to come play with Sybilla for a bit so I could rest. Billa had Playtime with Papa while Mommy and Daddy slept. Michael wasn't sick, but he and my brother David has been up all night fixing the heater core issue in my SUV so that I could have working AC and just in time too... yesterday the thermometer in my car read 110F!!! My poor SIL Michelle has broken AC now too so I totally sympathize with her situation. Many thanks to my brother for taking time out of his weekend off to help us out...YOU ROCK!

Father's Day I felt a little bit better and we went and made dinner for Michael's dad. I really shouldn't have though as that night I got worse. [sigh] Sometimes I have too much energy for my own good! Monday was Michael's 27th birthday and I spent most of it sleeping. I feel so bad about being sick this weekend because both of Michael's special days were ruined. He spent most of his time watching the baby and taking care of me. I tried to make it up to him by making him a strawberry cake on Tuesday evening when I felt a bit better. We'll definitely be making up for it when we have his birthday party this Sunday. The Marino's are going to come out and make homemade hot wings and we're going to swim and grill burgers and enjoy a pirate ship cake, pictures of which I will post later.

Seeing as how I have missed three days of being in the office, it's time for me to play catchup. I'll post later on some of the funny things that Billa has been doing, but just wanted to make sure everyone heard the good news about Hayden!

Thanks again!
Kelly & the Gang

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good news on Hayden!

Good news, y'all! Baby Hayden's ANC today was 400! He's not out of the woods yet though, but this is good news. They're going to draw his blood again on Friday and check it, but so far, the new count means that a lot of things have been eliminated. Phew!

Thanks for the prayers and well-wishes, please don't stop yet!

Ciao,
Kelly

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Baby Hayden Update 6-16-2009

Ok, prayer warriors...our work ain't done yet! When I last reported on Hayden, things seemed to be looking up. However, late last week his white blood cell count seemed off so the medical team at Dell Children's decided to give him a course of antibiotics to help him out. I've been hesitant to post an update on Hayden after this because as we all know, I am a drama queen who is prone to over exaggeration. I really didn't want to make things look or sound worse than they might be. Unfortunately, Kellie & Anthony received some not so good news yesterday that could mean something far more serious and I am here to ask for your prayers again.

In a nutshell, white blood cells are our defenders against disease. What most people don't know is that within WBC, there are three different types of WBC of which the neutrophil is the most prevalent. Think of these guys like the Marines; they're first into battle and do most of the work when waging war against infection and disease. A normal healthy person will have an average neutrophil count (ANC) 1500 or more of these guys in a blood sample. If you're slightly ill, you might have anywhere from 1000 to 1500. If you're really feeling a bit under the weather, you've got about 500 to 1000. Less than 500 and the next strain of bacteria could kill you. Hayden's current count is 120. Basically, if he were to get an infection he has no defense against it and could die in a mere matter of hours. Even the natural bacteria on his skin could cause complications.

The good news is--yes, there is a glimmer of hope in all of this--that after numerous tests there appears to be no sign of infections, Hayden seems healthy and hale, and he's received a couple of rounds of antibiotics. It's just that he is currently experiencing severe neutropenia (abnormally low neutrophil count for those of you keeping track at home!) and the doctors can't figure out why.

The bad news is that because infection has been ruled out, the causes for the low ANC could be because:
a) his mom had some disorder during pregnancy, like pre-eclampsia OR
b) he could have some other disorder that is akin to the blood cells from his mom attacking his and wiping out the neutrophils (similar to what happens when a woman who is Rh negative gives birth to an Rh positive baby) OR
c) Hayden's bone marrow is not able to keep up with production of said neutrophils OR
d) Hayden could have congenital neutropenia aka Kostmann's Syndrome.

Of these, they've pretty much decided that option A is not an answer--Kellie had a textbook perfect pregnancy with no complications. Option B is best case scenario because even though it sucks, it should cycle itself out in about two months and Hayden can come home and will be fine other than the cleft palate surgery and/or therapy he may receive later.

Options C & D are the scarier ones. Kostmann's syndrome is essentially "bubble child" syndrome--the child has almost no defense against normal bacteria and usually has to receive a kind of gene therapy for the remainder of his life. While the treatment for this has definitely improved the odds of kids who have it, the gene therapy *could* lead to leukemia or cancer later on in the child's life. And of course, Option B could be a sign of aforementioned cancer or leukemia if his bone marrow is not producing it regularly.

Obviously Hayden's folks were in rough shape last night after receiving the news; they can't take the other children to go visit him until his ANC goes back up to a safe level and there isn't a pediatrician in the city who would allow Hayden home until that level is at least 1000 which could mean a long stay in the NICU. Currently, we are waiting to hear results on additional tests they are running and a hematologist/oncologist has been consulted and is working to help Kellie & Anthony figure out what's going on. We may have some results tonight or early tomorrow so until then, your prayers, well-wishes, and happy thoughts are greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Kelly & the Gang

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spoonbill(a)

We've been trying to get Billa to use utensils while eating. Yesterday for breakfast she had English muffin and applesauce. Here are some photos of that experience!

The right handed approach

The left handed approach

The "oh-screw-it-I'll-do-it-my-own-way" approach

And now the video version, along with some congratulatory action (now Billa's favorite game):

video

Happy Sunday!
Kelly & the Gang

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More Baby Hayden

I babysat the kids last night so that Kellie & Anthony could go and try to feed Hayden some pumped milk. He did as well as he could and K says he really wants to suck, which is good news. Since the cleft is so mild, they are holding off on any surgery until he's about 1 year old at a minimum. He will most likely have to visit with a speech therapist as he gets older and closer to the surgery, but that's a surmountable goal, all things considered. His breathing is not affected at all, like we thought it was, but he does occasionally have a little grunty growl raspy sound that he makes.

Michael and I are planning on visiting him this weekend since it will still be another week at a minimum before he comes home. In the meantime, his family is doing well and holding up fine; it's a little stressful but they are trying to maintain some normalcy as well as get some much needed sleep while they can!

Until then, thank you so much for all your prayers and well-wishes! We are grateful for all of you and so much more.

Night night,
Kelly

The Goofy Guerra's

It's summah-time, y'all! I thought I'd share this with you all. Here we are at our friend Josh's welcome home party. Josh just finished yet another tour in Iraq and we are so very glad that he made it home safe and sound for his birthday and to propose to his girlfriend of many years! Congrats to the happy couple!





It's time for some lemonade! Or sweet tea, or water, or coke, whatever your choice of tasty beverage!

Cheers,
Kelly & the Gang

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Update on Baby Hayden

I spoke to Kellie late last night as she and Anthony were headed home. Baby Hayden is resting comfortably in his own room at Dell Children's and being attended to by a very wonderful staff of nurses and doctors who are determined to help him eat on his own. As his mom said, it's déjà vu but without all of the drama, which is refreshing for once! After examination, Hayden's cleft palate is mild and is only affecting the soft palate in the back, but it is causing some issues for his breathing and feeding. He also has a very small lower jaw, which could be an indicator of something else, but only time will tell. They are going to keep until he can feed on his own and will then determine a course of action at that point. An hour of Google research revealed that in cases like these, they will usually fit the child with a device to help "plug the hole" essentially until he's a bit older for surgery to repair, 6 months being the youngest and 12 to 18 months being the norm. They're going to try and take the other kids to go see their new baby brother today and hopefully learn some more. So for now, we're still praying and we're cheering Baby H on!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baby Hayden has arrived... but with some caveats...

As we put Sybilla to bed this evening I held her a little bit tighter than normal and offered up a prayer of thanks to the Old Man Upstairs for my beautiful, perfect, healthy child. She is smart and clever and walking since nine and half months. At fifteen months old, she has at least 20 words to her vocabulary and she has gained weight well and hit all of the milestones on her chart and then some with flying colors. We are blessed. I read blogs and articles everyday about other parents who are living the stuff of nightmares and I thank God I am not one of them. But I also offered up prayers for all of them as we experience some of that so close to home.

My best friend gave birth today to her third baby at 12:59 pm, Hayden Alucard, and he has certainly shattered all of our expectations as to what to expect. His labor was longer than either of his siblings and he came much earlier than expected. We expected him to be early since his older sister and brother were too, but not three weeks earlier. And if his birth weight and development is any indicator, he is actually five weeks early; Hayden weighed in at 4.5 pounds, 17" long. And lastly, the kicker in all of this is the small horseshoe shaped hole in the roof of his mouth preventing him from being to swallow or breathe properly which appears to be a cleft palate.

While a cleft palate might not sound that serious given modern medicine, it doesn't negate the fact that we don't know when he'll come home and meet his older siblings and that his mom and dad have to endure this added stress on top of a newborn baby with two older children. My initial research is that cleft palate is treatable and if his condition is serious enough to prevent him from eating or breathing without assistance, they would most likely operate soon. There's also a lot of unknowns; how long will he remain in the hospital and what is involved in the recovery and rehabilitation process? Could his small size and early arrival signal some other developmental issue that has of yet been undiscovered?

The upside to all of this is that at least the pregnancy and the birth experience have gone well for Kellie and Anthony. They utilized the Austin Area Birthing Center, which so far has exceeded all of their expectations and so much more. When they left for Dell Children's this evening, the midwife that has been working with them accompanied them to be their advocate and to support them as needed until we know more. The pregnancy was relatively smooth with very little hiccups and morning sickness and Kellie was able to get all of the antibiotics needed during delivery (she's GBS positive) unlike the previous pregnancies.

Our prayers tonight are for our friends and their family and that the diagnosis is positive. We hope that you too will keep them in your thoughts and prayers over the next few days as we learn of what's to come and that Baby Hayden gets to come home soon. I will share some pictures as soon as we have had a chance to meet the little munchkin, but until we find out more, your imagination will have to suffice.

Thanks for listening,
Kelly & the Gang

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Can't you explain to Lady about Sundays?"

Just like the scene from Lady and the Tramp, we must teach Billa about Sundays. It is now 8:10 in the morning as I write, but it feels like 10 in the morning. I have been awake for 57 minutes, made my daughter breakfast, had my first cup of coffee and written out my to do list for the day. [sigh] Such is the life of a toddler's parents.

I think I may have written about this prior (or not, it requires navigating away from this page to check) but we converted Billa's crib to a toddler bed recently as a result of her new sleep habits. Billa had been waking up at about 5 am and wouldn't go back to sleep unless she was in bed with us, which isn't that big a deal, but it was really frustrating to have to get out of bed to go get her (that wasn't the only reason we converted her bed, mind you, but it was a big deciding factor). While she has gotten better about getting out of bed and coming into our bedroom at these times, it hasn't come without a price: she has fallen out of the bed twice now (even with the toddler railing--it doesn't hurt her, just startles her BTW) and some nights she just sits in bed crying until one of us comes to walk with her to our room.

I have to laugh though; we've definitely come a long way in 15 months! I remember those long nights of getting up every one to two hours to feed Sybilla and desperately promising myself that my next cup of coffee would be my last (this was of course repeated several times throughout the day). By the time she was 8 months old we had her sleeping through the night and I was no longer experiencing black outs. And I remember naively thinking that we were golden and would never have to sleep train again. WRONG. Apparently sleep training is forever!

We have also reached another landmark in 15 months: it has now been 2 weeks since I have breastfed. Surprisingly, all four of us are doing well. (Four, you ask? Kelly, are you sure that coffee has kicked in yet? Yes, it has and yes, you read that right. Four: Billa, me, Elsie and Daisy, my two breast friends.) Occasionally Billa will pull on my shirt in the very early mornings and say "Beebie? Beebie?" and I gently tell her that Mommy has no more milk, that it's all gone and she ceases and desists. I didn't think it would be that easy, but it was. Out of all the things we've endured, stopping breastfeeding was the easiest. However, the process has resulted in a new name for her pacifier, which at times ranges from Popo to Paci to Bobie. It took us forever to realize that the sound she was uttering when she wanted it was "BOOBIE." Yeah, we never saw that coming.

This morning, she called it Bubba and I am content with that. Personally, I think Bubba is a hilarious name for one's pacifier. I am starting to think that each one of the remaining three pacifiers has an individual flavor, personality and name because she has referenced each of them with different sounds. And yes, we only have three left. Well, technically four if you count the one that lives at daycare. But we have not bought new pacifiers in months and are currently working on getting rid of them after our visit with Dr. Patil on Friday, who harped on us about the paci usage (we were actually prepared to hear this--some of our friends are also patients of hers and they too have received the paci lecture).

Which brings me to well check stats! Billa is healthy as a horse. Unfortunately, she is eating like one too. Because of her weight growth curve, we're now cutting the whole milk down to 2% and increasing the protein and fruit/veggie intake and working on good eating habits. It's not that Billa is fat, it's just that she sits in the 97th percentile for weight now, which is out of sync with her height and head circumference curves. Billa is incredibly active causing Dr. Patil to be concerned with her eating behaviours as opposed to her eating habits and weight. Billa would eat all day if she could and she puts the food in her mouth fist over fist when she eats. To make it worse, Daycare Lady actually told me on Friday that Billa has been stealing food from the other kid's plates when they're not looking! Grrrreat...

Billa's stats were, BTW:
Weight: 28 pounds, 97th percentile
Height: 31 inches, 50-75th percentile (Ha, she's 2' 7"!)
Head Circ: 47 cm, 75-90th percentile

Learning our first lesson on inertia

So there's the latest update. We're now on a family mission to eat right and get more exercise, we're working on eating like a lady, and once we have all that down, then we can start to teach Billa about Sundays... because fielding an angry neighbor's complaint about "owning a rooster" is not on my list of things to do today!

Toodles!
Kelly

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pictures from the Park

I've been remiss in publishing some photos and I was going to include these with the Billa Babble Post but that seemed awkward. So they get their own post. Ha! We went to the park on Sunday to kill some time and wear Munchkin out before her midday nap. This time, Mommy got to play and be in the pictures :o)

Getting ready to go down the slide

This one is our favorite! Ferocious little monster!

Whee! Mommy holds on for dear life and Billa lets go!

Why so serious, Billa?

Come on Mommy! You gotta keep up!

Until next time!
Kelly

Billa Babble: Billa, Snack, Go and Puzzle

Who wants some more Billa Babble? You know YOU do! So here we go...

First up, BILLA. Yep, folks, the child knows thyself. I was in bed trying to catch a few more z's on Sunday morning listening to Billa and Michael play in the living room. One of Billa's new pastimes is to pull the framed pictures off the bookshelves and arrange them elsewhere. One of these is her from Valentine's Day. Michael started pointing at her picture and told her "Billa!" She then repeated it, but it sounded like "Bil-ya!" She said it several times and when I came out of the room I tried to get her to say it but all she wanted to say then was "MAMA!" Go figure.

Our next word is SNACK. FINALLY, we are getting somewhere. Typically when Little Bit wanted a snack, she'd run in the kitchen and scream "MAMA!" until I guessed correctly. This ordeal often ended in a meltdown from one or both parties. Yesterday our problems were solved! I asked Billa if she wanted a snack and she responded, "Nach? Nach?" It sounds like 'snack' without the s and k, but hey, I'll take it! Phew!

Our third word is GO. It's funny when kids learn words but even funnier when they actually use it in the right context! We were driving home today and Billa started chanting "Go, go, go, go!"

Our final word is PUZZLE. Michael was watching Noggin with Billa this evening and she loves Puzzle Time, which if you're not familiar with PT on Noggin, it's basically a little commercial-like segment that has a simple puzzle for the kids to solve. Example: Which one of these three cats is different from the others? And one of those cats will have stripes and the others don't. When I say our child loves Puzzle Time, she LOVES Puzzle Time. She screams and yells and jumps up and down. Tonight, she yelled "Puh-yuhl!" when it came on. Smartie pants...

So there's your Billa Babble fix. Until next time!

Kelly

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