Tuesday, February 23, 2010

11 months...WHAT?!

I can not believe that more than 11 months have past since our little Elle Belle joined our family. It just doesn't seem that at this point a year ago, I had my bags packed and Lee and I were just counting down the days until she arrived. I think it was also at this time last year that I started to stress out about my decision to not take child birth classes. I took the approach that ignorance is bliss - well that coupled with the fact that I knew my delivery wasn't going to be normal - so I really didn't want to know what "normal" was. It was very logical thinking in my mushy pregnant brain!

She was way too busy to have anything to do with our birthday photo shoot
So...what's going on in the life of our little eleven monther?
  • She is weighing in at 18 pounds - probably plus a few ounces
  • She can sit up un-assisted and most of the time does a controlled fall to get onto her tummy
  • She is a great army crawler and can still roll around with the best of them! We see crawling in her not so distant future!
  • She can push herself up into sit from lying on her back - but only from her right side - we're working on that left side!!
  • She has started to pull herself up to stand - she works so hard at it - her little face gets so red and she grunts - but she does it!!
  • She is SUPER smart and mimics everything we do!
  • She is signing smart, girl, pretty, sometimes eat, daddy, and sometimes mommy
  • When she sees someone or something she will wave and say "hi"
  • She loves patty cake and peek a boo - if you say patty cake - she will clap her hands and then roll them up...too cute!
  • She is a talker! She says hi, dada, mama, and we just heard her say "ba"...and we think she said granddaddy - she said it twice and it was pretty distinct because she was talking straight to Lee's grandfather!
  • We're still working on eating - she puts everything in her mouth but isn't too interested in food! If it's plastic or metal or fabric - you can bet it will go straight in to Elle's mouth!
  • She is a wiggle wiggle worm - there is no keeping that girl down!!
  • She is keeping her hearing aids on for longer periods of time. Although, she is getting sneakier and sneakier about how she gets them out of her ears!
  • She understands the word "no" and will look up at you and just smile when you say it. Her favorite thing to do right now is mess with her feeding tube button. Of course we tell her "no" so she will move her hand away and then slowly inch it back across her stomach until she is almost touching the button and then will wait for us to turn our heads before she grabs at it again. She is too smart!!
  • She sleeps through the night - although we don't because she is a bed hog!
  • She takes one morning nap around 9am and then is a go go getter for the rest of the day
  • She is in physical therapy 2x a week, occupational therapy 1x a week (2x starting next week) and we just started audiological therapy..her weekly schedule is booked!
Every day I am amazed at the things she can do and how much she has grown. I was telling Le the other night that I don't even remember the first 2 months. I don't remember the 52 days in the hospital or sitting next to her bed for 16 hours a day - day in and day out just in case something happened. I don't remember anything but the good news we would receive after each surgery. Looking at her now, no one would have guessed at how far she has come. She's our little miracle baby! She is such a happy baby and we are so blessed by her little life!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Picture Catch Up

It's been a few weeks since I downloaded the pictures from my camera onto the computer...so here are a few pictures from the past few weeks...

Animal Print Friday - February 5, 2010

Pre Surgery - February 11, 2010

Elle in her Valentine's Day present from me...a bike helmet! I got Lee the seat to put on his bike. Her helmet is yellow with chickens on it - ha!

Elle Belle walking in her walker on our back patio - pulling her Mardi Gras balloon along with her
Animal Print Friday - February 19, 2010

A Beautiful Day for A Beautiful Event

Today was the It's My Heart Walk/Run. We could not have asked for more beautiful weather and the turnout for the event was amazing. When we got to the park where the walk was, they were just starting the competitive run. I actually teared up seeing the overwhelming amount of people out to support It's My Heart and those affected by Congenital and Acquired Heart Disease. It really was an amazing sight - teams all sporting matching t-shirts ( we were Team WElle and Elle's shirt said "My Heart is WElle" - we sure were thinking about our precious Witt while we were out there today!) - one team with the COOLEST zebra print balloons...families and friends all brought together for such a worthy cause. We ran into a few of our heart friends and even some of our nurses and nurse practitioners from the hospital. It was awesome to see Team Colin! Colin and Elle were across from each other in the NICU and then they had their first heart surgeries on the same day. They even had their second heart surgeries 2 weeks apart from each other so our paths crossed again at TCH. It was truly an amazing experience to see Colin and his wonderful family OUTSIDE of the hospital!! We even met up with one of our blog friends who graciously walked with us - thank you Bonny!!! And a very special thank you to our friends Crystal and Cortney - thank you for coming out today and running!! I am go glad Elle got to meet so many amazing people today! After the walk there was an awards ceremony and then they had the entire park filled with bouncers, a rock wall and other fun stuff for the kiddos to play on. They even had a step show and a dj - it was so much fun! I got so pumped up for the event next year - you better believe that our team shirts will have animal print somewhere on them and I might even copy the balloon idea! I pray that next year we will have a huge team to support It's My Heart.

Elle and Colin meeting for the first time

Elle meeting Colin's big sister, Katherine

Elle, our friend Crystal and me

Post walk family pic (minus my dad who had just left) and ViVi and Elle having a laugh during the walk

Elle on the car ride home - still having fun from the morning with all her heart friends!

I guess this little morning was just so much fun for our little lady. She didn't sleep on the car ride home (this after waking up at 6:00am). I wasn't feeling too great once we got home (stuffy nose and all that crud) so Lee took Elle up to Lowe's for a quick daddy/daughter trip so I could take a nap. I was for certain that Elle would sleep the afternoon away so I could too...but nope! I guess she just had too much fun at the It's My Heart walk and was hoping we would be going back this afternoon! Instead we opted for a trip to Hobby Lobby and the Dollar Store! Now that the walk is over with - it's time to start concentrating on the next big event...Elle's first birthday!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's My Civic Duty

I don't get too wrapped up in politics. I say that with some hesitancy because I'm pretty adamant about my views. I have my views, I know what I feel is right and what I feel is wrong. More importantly, I side myself with what the Bible says is right and wrong. Lee and I pray for the leaders of our county, our state and our nation. While we might not necessarily agree with what they have to say or what stupid laws they put into action, we still respect them as the leaders...leaders chosen by our neighbors, our fellow Texans and the American people. I say all this because today as I was driving (more like madly rushing) to get Elle in to see her pediatrician, the county workers were putting up the early voting signs at the entrance to our neighborhood. I always early vote. I hate standing in lines for anything and early voting is definitely the way to go. Now, back to my comment about not being a very political person...I don't get into politics...I can't tell you what the latest discussion or hot topic is on Fox News or CNN, however, I do vote. I do get out there and support the people I feel would be best to lead us. I do try to do research on the candidates (mostly by reading what they have to offer on click2houston.com) and sometimes I lend my time and our money to help support their causes. I absolutely feel that voting is the only way that any of us have the right to complain about the people we have in office! If you don't get out there and vote - you absolutely have no right to complain about who is doing what. You didn't participate in the decision making process so keep your thoughts to yourself (and with absentee voting and early voting...there aren't too many excuse for not doing it)! And when there is a candidate that I know or that I fully trust would be the best person for a certain position, I back them with my full support. Since this blog is my outlet for all things from being the mother to a very special child, to learning to grow in Christ as a wife and mom to my dislike for companies that plaster their name on the side of their vehicles (and then drive like maniacs) I feel it is an appropriate outlet to show support for a candidate. If you live in Harris County, not only do I urge you to get out there and vote, but I urge you to vote for Sheri Y. Dean for Judge in the 309th Family Court. Early voting starts tomorrow, TUESDAY, February 16 and continues until the 26th. Then the regular voting session will be on MARCH 2ND. Another plus of early voting is that you can vote anywhere and not just at your specific voting location. But, if you wait and don't do early voting, you can go here to find your specific voting locations. All you will need to vote is your driver's license. This is the primary so you are voting to pick the candidates which will represent each party come November when the General Election takes place. There are 3 other Republican opponents for this bench and I fully believe Sheri Y. Dean is the best choice! CHECK OUT HER WEBSITE and learn more about Sheri and see her long list of respected endorsements and accomplishments.
While you are surfing around, learning more about Sheri and the other candidates, you might find it interesting to see what else is on the ballot...
Ballot Proposition #4: Public Acknowledgement of God The use of the word God, prayers, and the Ten Commandments should be allowed at public gatherings and public educational institutions, as well as be permitted on government buildings and property.
Ballot Proposition #5: Sonograms
The Texas Legislature should enact legislation requiring a sonogram to be performed and shown to each mother about to undergo a medically unnecessary, elective abortion.
If you have read my blog you already know where I stand on these issues. Yeah - there are other issues on the ballot about taxes and controlling government growth - but how can we have a government without GOD? If this isn't reason enough to get out and vote, I'm not sure what else is!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Special Valentine

Tomorrow will be our first Valentine's Day with our precious little Elle. It has an even more special meaning because of Elle and her struggle and triumph with Congenital Heart Disease. The month of February is American Heart Month. We are so honored to be supporting It's My Heart on February 20, 2010 by walking in the It's My Heart Family Walk and Fun Run. It's not too late to sign up for this wonderful event! We would love to walk next to family, friends, blog friends, perfect strangers...all to support Elle, Witt, our heart friend Colin, our heart friend Sofia, our heart friend Isaac, our heart friend Olivia, and all the other babies we know and don't know and their families that are affected by this terrible disease. There is a great video on the It's My Heart website that shows the story behind Noah's Legacy. On February 20, 2010 - there will be 900 soliders, all serving overseas that will march in unison to raise awareness for CHD. If soliders overseas can walk - so can WE! I urge you to sign up to particpate in this wonderful event!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Give me a sedated, hospital stay recovery any day...

Yesterday was terrible!! We were called back to the recovery area way faster than what we thought was going to happen. When they called our names in the waiting room, we thought we were going to be getting an update from the operating room - instead they said "she's finished - read to go and see her?" Of course we were ready to see her - but we didn't have time to mentally prepare ourselves for what we were about to see. We were escorted back to the recovery room and the nurse led us to Elle's bed and before we actually saw her, we heard her. We heard that all too familiar - just had the ventilator pulled, hoarse little cry. It's enough to break a momma's heart (or daddy's heart for that matter). Elle was thrashing around - kicking her arms and legs and screaming as loud as her little voice would let her. The poor nurse was trying to do so many things - calm her down, give her some pain medicine, say hi to us and get us taken care of. He asked if I wanted to hold her and I immediately sat down and waited for him to pick Elle up and get all her tubes situated. Our poor little Elle Belle was covered in blood on her face and wouldn't let anyone touch her from her neck up to wipe it off. She had blood coming out of her nose and her mouth - it was just terrible! The pain meds finally kicked in and she calmed down. We saw Dr. E and he said surgery went well. He widened both her nostrils, cut her frenulum and put some stitches in her tongue that will eventually dissolve, he looked in her ears and didn't see any fluid so he didn't have to put tubes in and he scoped her throat. During the throat scope he did notice that Elle's trachea is narrow. I'm not sure what this means but he wasn't concerned about it at all. One of the things with CHARGE babies is esophageal atresia (where the esophagus is completely closed and blocked). Elle isn't anywhere near this point but that was the first thing I thought about when I heard him say that. The anesthesiologist stopped by and said she did great. I was holding Elle and every few minutes she would wake up and scream and kick and then fall back into a drug induced sleep. After about an hour, we were moved into the secondary recovery room which was one step closer to going home. Elle wouldn't let me put her down. I tried to put her down to charge her diaper and she started screaming so bad her nose started to bleed. I had to pass her off to Lee to go to the bathroom and the same thing happened. She's never been a momma's girl - but yesterday she definitely was. A few hours later, Dr. E came by and told us we could go home and then a while later, the anesthesiologist came by and released us. They had been watching Elle's oxygen saturation level - it had been pretty low after surgery and they were waiting until it rose to a higher level before the anesthesiologist was comfortable with us going home. I can honestly say that yesterday in the recovery room was the worst recovery in all of her 5 surgeries. Give me a sedated, ventilated recovery any day. I told Lee that and he asked why. With all the other surgeries, she came out of the operating room sedated and on the ventilator. Yesterday was a completely different experience. She was in pain and vocalizing it - letting all of us know how badly she was hurting. She was covered in blood which was just terrible to see. We couldn't do anything for her except hold her and rock her and even that was horrible because I kept thinking that if I rocked too hard in the rocking chair - I would make the bleeding start again. It's a good thing I was wearing a black sweater yesterday because I was covered in Elle's blood. Walking out of the hospital was another terrible experience. I had her covered with a blanket while I was holding her - but she kept lifting her head up to see what was going on and when she would lift up - she would show everyone her bloody little face..ugh. The car ride home was terrible - it was raining and gross outside and of course, the minute I put Elle into her carrier she started crying so bad her nose started bleeding - so I held her in the back seat - with the seat belt going over both of us - for the entire ride home. We picked up her meds on the way home and then put her right into our bed as soon as we walked in the door. She was in a medicine induced sleep for a good part of the afternoon. Around 7pm, all hell broke loose - she woke up and her face and clothes were covered in blood. We figured it out later that the stitch that was on the tip of her tongue had been ripped out - either by Elle's teeth or by her pacifier that she was able to suck on. Again, she wouldn't let us touch her face - she looked like a crime scene victim. We took pictures but I wouldn't dare post them - they are too graphic and make me cringe just thinking about them. She fell into another medicine induced sleep and woke back up around 10pm. Lee and I had already talked about it that when she woke up again we would give her a bath and see if we could at least get some of the blood off of her. Sure enough, we filled the sink with warm water and put her in it and she instantly relaxed. I was worried she would scream the whole time like she had if I had put her down at any other time during the day. I couldn't even put her down to change her diaper without screams and tears coming out. Luckily, the warm water helped and she sat there and stared at her toys while Lee and I were able to get a majority of the dried blood off of her. Towards the end of her bath, the old Elle started to come through - she smiled at one of her toys and then picked it up and put it in her mouth. Lee and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when she started to act more and more like herself. Lee got her dressed in clean pjs and brought her back into the kitchen. She was all smiles and dancing for the rest of the evening until she fell back asleep. I woke up at 3 to give her some more pain medicine but other than that - we had a drama free night. While it was nice to be home last night, I think I still would have preferred a hospital stay - at least just overnight. I was so nervous all afternoon and evening - especially with all the blood. ugh! The good news in all of this and everything that happened yesterday is that Elle should be surgery free for years to decades. She had been completely fixed - from head to toe - all before her first birthday! Our next goal is to get that new tongue working on eating so we can get rid of the feeding tube!! Our prayers are with Witt today as his heart surgery was postponed until today.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Surgery is Over!

We dropped Elle off with the surgery team at 8:30 this morning. Our name was called at 10:00, Elle was through. Dr. Edmonds said everything went as planned. She had her frenulum snipped and her nostrils widened. Now, we are in recovery and she is doing well, with pain meds of course. Please continue to pray for Witt. Last report he had not been taken to surgery, yet. Please pray for peace for Austan and Mel, strength for Witt and wisdom for Dr. Morales and his team. Thank you for all your prayers!

Just Went Back

The anesthesiologist just took Elle back into the operating room. She was all smiles this morning and such a happy little baby. We were waiting in the little pre-op room and one of the doctors walked by and made a comment to one of the two anesthesiologist what a cute baby Elle was - she was all decked out in her polka dot pjs and polka dot socks. The doctor kind of chuckled and said "yeah - she's had 4 already." We met with her surgeon and the 2 anesthesiologists and then they took her back. We pray for issue free surgery and for a speedy recovery!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gearing Up for Surgery

For the last 2 weeks I have been keeping my distance from the computer. It's probably because I have been glued to it at work with benefits renewal stuff going on and I want nothing to do with it once I get home. It's not helping that for some reason none of my pictures are downloading so I can't share that many pictures from the past week. The big news in our house is that tomorrow Elle will be having her last surgery for a (hopefully) long time. She will be having her frenulum sniped, her nostrils widened, water drained off her ears and her throat/voicebox scoped to be sure there isn't anything there hindering her breathing/eating. While we are worried about her going under the knife again, our thoughts and prayers are also with our precious nephew, Witt. He will be having open heart surgery tomorrow at the same time Elle is having her surgery. Texas Children's Hospital will be encased in prayers for our sweet babies tomorrow. Every few minutes or so, I start to think about Witt and just start praying for that sweet little guy and his amazing family. I pray for his surgeon (who is also Elle's heart surgeon) and his amazing team. I pray that God's incredible presence is felt in both his operating room and Elle's operating room and that both surgical teams are filled with knowledge and peace as they fix our babies. I pray this is the last time Elle and Witt have to have surgery at the same time. I pray for Witt's family and specifically Witt's parents and grandparents. Tomorrow will be a tough day for Mark and Vickie, Witt and Elle's grandparents. They will be going between 2 waiting rooms as their only grandchildren are both in surgery. I pray for the Lord's immeasurable strength for all of us to get through tomorrow and they days that follow. I pray for my sweet baby girl to come through this surgery with the ability to eat and possibly breathe better. I pray for Elle's amazing surgeon and his team. I pray that Elle' recovery is without complications and we don't spend too much time in the hospital - although - if we do - it is because of God's perfect timing. I pray for my husband and the rest of Elle's family - for our peace and strength tomorrow. Oh Lord, please just watch over our babies tomorrow. You do on a daily basis, but tomorrow - Lord, please, please take care of our little ones.
I know I won't be able to sleep tonight, even though tomorrow will be a long day with a very early wake up call. And while my heart is heavy for the long day we have tomorrow, there is some exciting news (and pictures) to share. Little miss independent pulled herself up to standing yesterday! The crazy kiddo can't sit up on her own yet - but she sure did pull herself up! I had put Elle in her crib while I was hanging up her clothes yesterday and she was happily playing with her toys. I watched as she scooted to the side of the crib and watched in amazement as she pulled herself up onto her knees. Next to her crib is a rocking chair with a few stuffed animals on it and a framed picture of Witt. She saw the picture of Witt and had to investigate and before I knew it, she was standing (I snapped the pics with my phone)!

She kind of hung over the side of her crib for a long time staring at Witt. I kept hoping she would make that last big push up to be fully standing but she was just too mesmerized. I tried to entice her by holding the picture up higher but she got frustrated and scared and sat back down...although she did stand back up one more time looking for Witt. We are so proud of this little inchworm! She really is a inchworm now - she is army crawling (inch worming) her way all over the place. I don't think it will be too long before she is crawling and then really pulling herself up. I hope this surgery doesn't knock her down for too long so she can continue to improve on her sitting/crawling/standing/walking.
Tomorrow while we are waiting I am going to try to update the past week in pictures. There are some great pics from Animal Print Friday - she was really hamming it up. Even the lady at Wal-Mart laughed today when she was helping me with the print station thing! I love it when Elle makes strangers smile!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm Doing It Again

I have probably written 15 posts and thank you notes in my head in the past week. I hate that! It was one of my New Year's Goals - to stop writing mental letters and thank you notes and to ac tally put my thoughts down on paper (or on the blog). This is one I definitely need to continue to improve! Lately it seems that I am barely keeping my head above water. It's an odd feeling - I usually feel like this - but this is a different kind of sinking feeling. Before Elle's open heart surgery, I felt this way - like we couldn't really start "living" until her heart was fixed. Now that we are a week away from her next nose/ears/mouth/tongue surgery I am feeling the same way - like we will finally be able to start our lives after this next surgery. I am so nervous about this next surgery - not for the surgery itself but more for how Elle will recover. What if she wakes up after surgery and can eat - or rather - wants to eat orally?! I've never had to feed her like a "normal" child. She never took a bottle, she doesn't eat baby foods - I honestly don't think she has ever felt hunger before because her feeding schedule is so regimented. Granted, she does take water from a sippy cup, but that's about it. I guess only time will tell!

Elle on my birthday - I love this outfit! I emailed a friend that I actually squealed with delight when I got her dressed because the tights and the dress are just too cute. They are by Le Top. She has started this crinkle nose when she smiles - pretty cute if you ask me! Animal Print Friday!
We've been on the go for the past week - last Thursday was my birthday. My parents got me a wii and the wii fit plus. A few weeks ago I was obsessed with the Twilgiht Saga and now I am obsessed with the wii. Lee and I got it home last week and stayed up until 2am playing all the different games. And I sure am still sore from my awesome wii workout on Saturday. Elle got to experience her first nice restaurant Thursday night and she did so good. Of course, she tried to eat the menu but she behaved like a perfect little lady! She did great at dinner with Lee's fam on Friday night too! Sunday, my brother and parent's came over for brunch. We got some great pictures of Elle and her Uncle Benny. I just need to learn now how to download pictures from Lee's big camera! I can only do one techy thing at a time and right now I have a one track mind for the wii!

Elle in her exersaucer on Saturday and Elle with Lee on Sunday
Elle had her 9 month check up this morning (a month late!). She is in the 25% for her length (28 inches) and weight (17lbs 14 oz) and 3% for her head size. Despite her small size, she is still growing and on track on her growth curve. She's such a happy baby! Her check-up came only a few hours after she pulled her feeding tube out. Yes - that's right - she grabbed the tube with her little monkey toes and yanked and out came the button. She didn't cry at all which helped me not freak out and I was able to put a new button back in her stomach. It was pretty weird to see the hole in her stomach with stomach juices and milk leaking out - I hope I never have to see that again - but all in all - it really wasn't' that bad. Hopefully we will be able to get in with pedi surgery to have it checked because this afternoon/evening it was leaking a little bit. I think it might be time for her to have a larger sized button put in.
This week is a crazy week - last night was the RoHO Girls Night Out (i will post about this later), today Elle had a few appointments, tomorrow night I am going to a Valentine's making party that I am super pumped about, animal print friday we have therapy, saturday morning I am going to a baby shower and saturday night Lee and I are going to a wedding and then Sunday I am hosting a baby shower...whew!!