Tuesday, September 29, 2009

naps? we don't need no stinkin' naps!

Yes, I realize that is a double negative. No, thank you, I do not need a lesson on how I should have phrased that, so please ignore the need to write and tell me so. I was going for humor, but I guess if I have to point that out, the point was missed.

And, for the record, I am told that the line I referred to was from the movie Blazing Saddles, but I only know it from the marvelous sleeper hit known as Troop Beverly Hills... where Rosa (Shelley Long's housekeeper in the movie) says 'Patches! We don't need no stinkin' patches!' If you have not seen the movie, let me tell you, it is quite inspirational ;)

A la Sophia Patrillo.....But, I digress.

Sharing a little video of my littlest man and the wonderful sleeper he IS NOT. You can CLICK HERE to see it. I should mention that this video comes on the heels of getting less than 5 hours of sleep thanks to the little star of this film. Which now probably explains the ramblings throughout this post. Yawn.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Me! Monday

A relative newbie to the blogosphere, this is my very FIRST Not Me! Monday post. After reading all the other posts, I wanted to let you know about all the things I have NOT been doing, 'cause you all know how together I am, right? If I, in fact, had done some less-than-stellar things, it might be liberating to blog about it and let the world know. But, since I did NONE of the things mentioned below, it certainly DOES NOT apply to ME!!

After a grueling day, an absent husband thanks to the darn flight schedule, and trying to make a dinner for 3 hungry children, I absolutely DID NOT just give up and pull Goldfish out of the pantry while I cowered on the kitchen floor for a couple minutes. I would NEVER concede defeat, and CERTAINLY NOT in front of my hungry, salivating children. It sure WASN'T ME who followed the goldfish up with some 20-second hot dogs and an invitation to pick whatever EASY treat my children desired. I'd NEVER stray from the nutritious standards I employ at EACH and EVERY meal.

Surely, it WASN'T ME who left a load of laundry in the washer overnight, rewashed it the next morning, forgot about until dinner, and then REWASHED it AGAIN before going to bed the next night. NO WAY!! NOT ME!!! I would NEVER be so wasteful or so absentminded to let a load of laundry sit for hours. I am far more together than that!

And I adhere to bedtimes, even on the weekends, so I can undisputedly say it WASN'T ME  who let my kids go wild at Al and Wendy's house, way past their bedtime, hoping they would conk out and sleep in the next morning. And you know me-- my children always are incredibly well-behaved, and I would NEVER allow them to run around a friend's house, screeching loudly as they went. NO SIR, NOT ME!  I am raising them better than that.

Just so you know, it WASN'T ME who rewarded my sweet daughter with chocolate, merely for looking cute in her ballet tutu. I WOULD NOT ever place value on looks, even if it was my own child looking sweet and precious as can be. I WOULDN'T DARE give her chocolate just because she is so dang cute, that she could have asked me for a pony and I would have logged on to craigslist looking for one. NOT ME!! Why, that would be improper and go against all my mothering values!

And, just to clarify, NO WAY would I be a little disappointed when something 'arrived' letting me know- concretely- that I am not, in fact, pregnant. And I DEFINITELY DID NOT follow that up with automated text messages to my husband letting him know exactly when I will be fertile, and for how long. Because I KNOW that everything happens when it's meant to happen, and I WOULD NEVER try to create a baby on my timing, rather than His timing. I WOULD NOT let a little 6 month deployment keep me from having a child without my husband present, because you KNOW I am SUPERMOM. I can handle anything hurtled at me, and I am always performing at 100%. If I had to give birth to a child (#4, no less) while my husband was floating around on some steel contraption in the middle of who-knows-where, I WOULD NEVER complain about the downfalls of being a military wife. NOT ME!!! So, then it goes without saying that a deployment assuredly WOULD NOT be a factor in pregnancy timing. 

I NEVER get frustrated, I NEVER lose my patience, I NEVER bend my own rules just a little, and I DO NOT fly by the seat of my pants DAILY. NO WAY!!!

NOT ME!!!!

reteaching an old dog some old tricks

I am ashamed to say it, but I really must. My name is Shannon, and I'm an apostrophe addict. I have a problem, a problem that runs deep, and has been lingering within the depths of my being for years.

I have a problem with the ever-lovin' apostrophe.

You're thinking, wow-- this is all she has to write about-- the apostrophe? It isn't all I have to write about, but it is what is bouncing around in my head right now. Well, there is a lot bouncing around in my head right now-- like why my house is always cleaner when my husband is deployed than when he is here with me, why people look outside themselves to find happiness instead of within, and why my 10-month-old son has glitter all over his face and feet. But the apostrophe thing is bouncing the loudest.

I promise to translate my eye-opening, jaw-dropping grammar lesson into something a little deeper. Just bear with me for a few minutes. Or paragraphs.

I was reading a mommy blog today, one which I have grown incredibly fond of lately, and was getting very involved in the topic (she discussed the Duggar family and whether or not they have too many children, what really is too many children, by whose standards, etc.) when the writer made a teensie weensie grammatical error. I didn't notice the error in the bulk of her blog because I was more engrossed in the thought-provoking topic, busy formulating my opinion.

Wait, that's not entirely true. The reason, the true reason, I didn't notice the error is because I make the same error, time and time again, and until tonight was not aware that it was an error.

So, I am reading....."Do the Duggar's have too many children?". And there it was. Staring me in the face. And I completely missed it. Do you see it? Well, let me point it out for you.

Duggar's. Duggar's. Duggar's. Duggar's.

I was only made aware of the error when I was reading some comments. Duggars. No apostrophe. It's a noun. Yes, I know- a proper noun. But a noun, nonetheless. And when we pluralize nouns, we simply add an 's', in most cases, not an apostrophe.

I knew that. Deep, deep down, in the banks of my journalism studying brain, I knew that. But, for some odd reason, I pluralize nouns incorrectly, and often.

I immediately set off on a quest to change. I didn't go far. Actually, I just reached down into my nightstand, so it was more of a symbolic quest. I pulled out my old journalism books and AP style guide, and read up on the darn on nouns and making them plural. Then, the reality began to sink in. I have been making this mistake for years!! To think of all the stationary I have soiled, all the photo captions I have sullied by using that dang apostrophe. The articles, the essays, the cards, the RESUMES. Oy vey!!

And, as I was thinking of the photo cards we sent out at Christmas (yep-- signed with love by the darn Nelson's), I started to laugh.

Me, the person who studied JOURNALISM for nearly four years, the wife who CORRECTS her husband's grammar, the woman who SHUDDERS upon seeing statements punctuated with a question mark or questions punctuated with a period.....ME!!! The woman who WROTE for our local newspaper, and then got promoted to EDITOR of that very paper!!!

Go ahead and laugh. I'll join you when my embarrassment subsides. The weird thing is, the mistake is ridiculous. I never insert an apostrophe when I am referring to writers or dentists or rabbits or roads. And I should know that a noun, is a noun, is a noun- proper or otherwise. Oy veyyyyyyyyy.

At one point, while going through all this in my head, I found myself trying to reassure myself that the English language is a difficult one, tough to learn and even tougher to write, with so many rules and exceptions, blah blah blah.

But I stopped.

The truth and the lesson here is simple. When you think you've got it, chances are, you really don't. I kinda thought grammar and I had a thing going. Now I see, not so much. What a silly fool I was.

I wasn't so rude as to correct my friends. Good thing, right? I saved that service for family...you know, those who were forced to love me, regardless.

But the point is, I'd been walking around thinking that, grammatically speaking, I rocked the house. So tonight's little lesson was humbling, taking me down a peg or seventy, but also very positive. I finally get it.

I realized my error, I sought to change it, and I learned quite a bit, and refreshed A LOT of my knowledge in the process. Still, though, I'm a little miffed. To think it took comments on someone's blog, a woman I've never met, to teach me this lesson, some 16 years after I've been writing. Wow. The next time I hear my husband end a sentence with a preposition, I'll bite my tongue. YEAH, RIGHT!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

sweet saturdays

I am in love with Saturday mornings, in case you didn't know. There is no better time of the week, in my book. The peace that comes from waking up to smiley children tugging on my arms, rather than being so rudely jolted from quiet slumber by an alarm clock screaming at me to 'GET UP' from my warm, cozy bed. Having 5 people moving through the house, lazily greeting the day, instead of me and the 3 kids scrambling to get out the door, fully clothed, and belly's reasonably full, on time. Having the WHOLE day to with it whatever we like, instead of having our time mapped out for us in minute and hour increments. Oh, how I love Saturday mornings. So much potential.
Okay, I realize I sound a little dreamy, but really, the sentiments are sincere. You may think I have romanticized Saturday's a bit too much...perhaps because this was the first Saturday in a long, LONG time that we have had very few obligations. And it has been wonderful. After I got home from the T-Ball team mom meeting this morning, I sat on the couch and just hung out. No TV. No cleaning. No prying children apart from a toy they both desperately clung to. None of that. Just chillin' out with my husband. So nice. So very, very nice.
Thankfully, a very minor thumb boo boo kept me from delving back into my obsessive bow-making hobby of late. Instead, I chose to bake. We are going over to play with Wendy and Al tonight, and between Wendy and I, there is usually always a home-baked goody to indulge in. As I recall, last time it was she who made brownies. But let's face it- it's not like I really need a reason to bake. I didn't need to think twice about what to whip up-- my sticky bars were calling to me from the pantry. Okay, they really aren't MY sticky bars...I kind of altered a Paula Dean recipe that you can find HERE. My family is not big on nuts in food, so I switched it up a little. I thought I'd share it here, in case you are interested. Okay, I have some yummy bites of goodness calling my name.  Enjoy folks! And enjoy this lovely saturday with your family.

*I should mention that I changed this recipe around to suit my family's needs.


  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Almond extract
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips*
Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 13x9 baking dish.

Mix together first 3 ingredients, then add in next 3 and stir well. Fold in coconut and chips until well blended.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

* Original recipe called for 1 cup pecans, which we substituted for white chocolate chips, since the Nelson's don't like nuts in baked yummies.

A word to the wise--- I have learned here that even if you use the toothpick rule, you might need to make an exception-- this scrumptious treat is meant to be chewy, so fight the urge to put it back in until the toothpick comes out completely dry. That probably means you've overcooked it. Happy baking~

Friday, September 25, 2009

Great giveaways you need to check out!

Hi friends! Just wanted to share with you all some wonderful giveaways going on right now. Hop on over to this page and enter to win some sweet little things! But you better hurry- it end's soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

goodnight sweetheart, well it's time to go

I love that song. It reminds me of my mom. And that movie Three Men and A Baby. But more my mom. Thank goodness. I'd much rather picture my mom's beautiful face in my head than Steve Guttenberg or
Ted Danson.
Wow. Can you tell I'm tired? But, what I lack for in clever, witty quips, I make up for in pictures. I really couldn't NOT post these. He'll forgive me someday.

Yeah, that's my husband as a banana. Back off ladies, that chiquita is ALLLLLLL mine!

Notice the smile. He is actually proud. Hands down, this costume is the weiner....I mean winner! (I just high-fived myself in my head for that one.) Now, if only I could find a hamburger costume......

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

a big day's a'comin....

Have any guesses? Come on......Okay, I’ll give you a hint, but just one. His name rhymes with snack. Pretty fitting, huh? Fine, one more hint-- pretty soon, that person whose name rhymes with snack will be celebrating! You got it...FINALLY..... man, you guys are slow ;)
Our Jack is turning ONE! And THAT, my friends, is a VERY BIG DEAL! 
Much to my husband’s chagrin, I like to celebrate birthday’s like it’s nobody’s business. Really. I feel like you only get one day a year to celebrate the wonderfulness that is you, so you should make it count. And by make it count, I mean, each birthday I try to throw my kids a shindig they won’t soon forget. 
Now, since Jack is turning one, I don’t feel the need to go quite so big. I’d rather it just be a celebration of my little guy’s life. Most importantly, I want all those who have loved on him, prayed for him, and helped grow him to be by his side as he shoves his first piece of sugary sweet, icing-topped cake into his mouth. 
Since we can’t possibly have everyone I previously mentioned present, we’ll be sure to capture the day’s highlights on film (err, teenie disk inside my digital camera), and post it here. 
So, why am I writing about this, you ask? Because. Because... I need your help. Ugh, I know. You’re busy, you’re tired, and just generally don’t want to give of yourself. But wait-- don’t leave me. The help I am asking for requires no sweat, no energy, no giving of your time. I just need you to share your brilliant, far reaching minds with me for a few minutes. (Shamelessly sucking up here, I know. Is it working?) Does anyone have any wonderful birthday party ideas for a little guy turning 1? I don’t mean location ideas-- I mean theme ideas, activity ideas, tradition creating ideas, memory making ideas, gift ideas? Anything that comes to mind- bring it! Once you’ve got something, could you please share it by adding a comment here? That way, everyone can delight in your inspired suggestion. I know, I know......ideas like these are as coveted and veiled in secrecy like time-honored family recipes. BUT- remember this- what mom doesn’t put her own spin on things? And, truth be told, sharing makes us better. Okay-- ready, set-- SHARE!

what a difference a year makes, wouldn't you say?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

answers....sort of

First off, if you live in Jacksonville, FL, and are going to medical school and are undecided on a specialty- pick Genetics!!! This is a big city, serving a bunch of smaller cities, but still, we have one Pediatric Geneticist. Just one! Which means he is a very busy guy. But he is worth the wait- my husband and I completely feel confident in his conclusions, and he has made me feel at ease in an uneasy situation.

We saw Dr. P on Tuesday, thinking the appointment would be somewhat of a waste because we still had not gotten in to see the number of specialists he wanted us to see before returning to him. I called Dr. P’s office and told them as much, but they said to come in anyway because he wanted to see Jack. And I am so glad we went, because I got clarification on things that had been troubling/puzzling me since our last visit.

Namely, the issue of Jack’s hearing- or lack of. As we have told most of you, Jack failed his hearing test 3 times, with consistent results every time. They concluded that Jack has no hearing in one ear, and less than 50% in the other. Our friends and family who knew of this took it upon themselves -as did I- to test the diagnosis. And almost everyone believes that Jack can hear, and hear well, at that. He responds to music, and when he hears his brother and sister across the house, he takes off after them. So, it seems that he CAN hear. We shared our thoughts with Dr. P. After patiently waiting as I made a case for Jack’s hearing, he calmly explained that while it is reassuring that he responds to sound and the kids shouting, it does not mean he can hear the way he is supposed to. Since sound travels at different frequencies, just because he can hear music and rumblings of running children, does not mean that he can hear sounds at higher frequencies, or everyday conversational tones. That poses a problem because this is obviously how children learn to speak. So we are going to do an inner ear probe and CT scan to get another look and determine whether his hearing loss is conductive, neurosensory, or both. Whatever the result, he thinks his hearing loss is reflective of his overall ciliary condition.

He also explained, again, that he thinks each one of Jack’s health issues are linked to a common cause, and we need to figure out what that is- soon. The cardiac anomaly of situs inverus, hearing loss, frequency of infection, bradycardia, cardiac arrhytmia, abnormal heart structure, and questions and abnormalities related to his abdominal organs- mainly, the spleen, all stem from a primary condition. Unfortunately, it is not a simple as conducting a blood test to determine which condition he has. There are hundreds, and each one has a hundred different deviations, and we are dealing with an incredibly rare condition. We also still do not know whether Jack’s condition, which they not so lovingly refer to as a gene defect, was spontaneous, or a genetically recessive trait. They are going to hold off on testing the kids until we know more about Jack. They will not do genetic testing on Jeremiah or I because they are more concerned with what our genetic profiles combine to create. So, all we know is what we have already known- that our son has heterotaxy syndrome, also referred to as laterality defects, and that the conditions that spring from this are wide ranging and plenty. I won’t name them here, because I know Grandma Julia likes to look things up, and as I have learned, no good comes from that. But there are a few that we are focusing on.

We are going to start the testing very soon, and hopefully will have a better picture of things before his 1st birthday! But our Jack continues to thrive and grow and you’d NEVER know to look at him that he is not the picture of perfect health.

On a lighter note, an interesting comment made it into Dr. P’s report. Jeremiah and I shared a good laugh from it, so I thought I’d share it here. ‘....-stuff about jack-...His sister and brother are tagging along, they are being good, and not disrupting the clinic.’

I got a good laugh out of that. Not sure why my insurance carrier needs to know that my children were well-behaved on THAT day, or if that was to serve as a warning to us that should they disrupt the clinic, it would certainly make it into his report.

Okay, better put my laptop away.....yep, it is still missing the ‘Shift’ key. We’ve got our first Open House tonight at T’s school, and I need to prepare my list of questions for his teachers. ;)

Monday, September 14, 2009

in a bit of a pickle

I’m in a bit of a pickle......not sure where that adage comes from, because I don’t feel like I am surrounded by watery green walls, but anyway. (if the point of the saying is that you are in something you can’t get out of, then why did they pick pickle and not squash or potato? I’m just sayin...)

I’ll get on with it. A little over a week ago, I decided to ‘clean’ my mac laptop. I wiped down the keys and screen, made sure the outside was fingerprint free. Not quite satisfied, I decided that the underneath of the keys needed cleaning, as well. Don’t ask how I came to this- it’s just who I am. I am going to be honest here, and if ya love me, you’ll stick by me after this admission-- I get a thrill out of cleaning odd things. Like hairbrushes. It pleases me so to pull out the hair and remove the gunk from the brush and restore it to slightly less pristine condition it was in before it came to meet my mop. Cleaning my cell phone brings a smile to my face, too. It’s sad really....I mean I have no problem sitting amongst the muck and mess that finds it’s way into my living room, but I will put my children on hold and demand some quiet time while I am cleaning that all important hair brush.

Anyway....so I was peeling the keys off gently and cleaning what I found underneath and having a grand ole’ time-- really, it makes me so happy. When I was pleased with my results, I proceeded to put the keys back where they belong. And all was going swimmingly (another one I’m not sure I understand, but since I love how it sounds, I’m gonna use it), until I got to the ‘Shift’ key. That darn, teach-me-a-lesson, very necessary ‘Shift’ key I have come to call ‘aww poop’. It would not go back on. I was patient and gentle, and begging the little button to please pop back on before my husband walked through the door and gave me one of those ‘Oh, Shannon’ looks. After many deep breaths and desperate maneuvering, I realized that it was not going to go back on, at least not by my hand. So, I did what I had to do. ‘Honey’, I called. No more was needed-- he knows me enough to know the tone, so the look when he walked through our bedroom door was not great. I told him what I had done, how I had tried to fix it, and asked for his help. So he tried-- all the while mumbling about how next time, maybe I should ask him before I attempt to clean my computer-- and he failed. And since then, two of his friends- one a mr. fix it, the other a tech junkie- and also failed. So, my only option is to learn to use the Shift key on the right (which I never knew was there until this catastrophe), or to take my computer into the apple store and face the 20-something apple genius who is far more hip and knowing than I, and explain what I have done. Enter the pickle.....

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Much love!!!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

...my how things have changed

--copied from our family site--

Well, it’s certainly been a while. I neglected the site for quite some time, but only because life has been full and eventful lately, in a wonderful way.

As you all already know, my wonderful husband is home! His time in Iraq was cut short (thankfully) because he has orders to transfer to HSL 48-- so he had to be back before the rest of the group. I did not tell the kids about Daddy’s return until an hour before he was set to land in Jacksonville-- finally, I have learned, right? Anyways, they were beyond ecstatic of course...it was an awesome thing to see. The homecoming was one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced and it felt wonderful to have my husband in my arms again. It was the sweetest day.

He’s been home for a couple months now, and we quickly settled back into our routine as a family of 5. And can I tell you how incredible it is? Kaiti would not leave Jeremiah’s side for weeks-- I am not kidding. I had to fight for a spot on the bed, and even if I got close to him, she was not far behind, wiggling her way in between us. Being the happy baby Jack is, there was NO adjustment to Daddy being home. Jeremiah quickly got filled in on all that he missed-- with Jack sitting, laughing, babbling, and jumping in his jumperoo. Tyler was equally happy to have his Dad back, and to have his load lightened. Even though he is only 5, Tyler is entrusted with a quite a bit-- baby entertainer, door holder, dog feeder, recycler, grocery carrier in-er. Kaiti helps, too, but Tyler seemed to revel in his big-shoed role. So I was a bit surprised when he seemed all too happy to relinquish his many titles.

Since Jeremiah has been home, we have had a very full summer. We went to Charleston and saw the aquarium and walked downtown, and swam A LOT. The kids held a baby alligator and saw sharks swimming just a few feet from their noses.

We visited Flat Rock, NC, with Ellie, Vic, and Hayne and had a wonderful time hiking beautiful mountain trails, wading in streams, and admiring waterfalls. The boys went golfing while Ellie and I enjoyed quiet time, and we filled our bellies with great food every day. It was a blast- Jeremiah and I decided the mountains of North Carolina is a place we’d like to set down roots.

When Grandma Julia came in August, we did a lot of fun little outings here in town, and then took off to Hilton Head for a couple days of fun. While there, we sailed on a sunset dolphin cruise, made tye-dye shirts at the Salty Dog cafe, went to a hand’s on children’s museum, splashed and swam in the pool, visited amazing historical sites (Old Sheldon Church and a plantation near Beaufort), and stopped at charming little shops and bakeries- Grandma Julia spoiled us all with chocolate alligator pops, yummy fudge, gummy treats, and chocolate dipped marshmallows.

We were blessed to have time together as a family and to be honest, I’m a little sad that summer is fading, which is surprising to me. I’m a fall girl- never realized it til I moved to Florida. Taking a walk on a crisp autumn night, seeing the beautiful leaves of Florida oaks turn a fiery red reassure me that this is where I am meant to be.

But the end of summer meant the start of school-- and
Tyler entering big school. That’s right, my not-so-little boy is a Kindergartner. He was so excited to go to big school an had been wearing his backpack and sharpening his pencils for days, so that when it was time to go, he didn’t even turn to offer me one last wave or hug. So I stood outside his classroom door for a while, biting my bottom lip, hoping the tears did not spill over onto my cheeks, making sure my little boy found his place. And he did. It is such an intense feeling I’d imagine most parents feel. Knowing that I have to let him go, but seeing your child, so small amongst a sea of so many, and hoping, praying, you’ve given him what he needs to find his way. I was a mess that day. That was almost 3 weeks ago. It has gotten better, but I still have my moments. The only struggle he has with school is the time he has to wake up for it. He’s my child, after all.

Kaiti started VPK this year with Miss Pat, and she was a little apprehensive-- which comes as no surprise based on how she was last year. But when it came time to drop her off on Tuesday, a little panicked that I would have to peel her little fingers from my thigh, and suppress my tears while wiping away hers, my daughter surprised me. She saw Miss Pat and Miss Betty, gave them huge hugs, turned to me and waved, and told me she’d see me in a bit. This was not something I was ready for, and once again, I gave it my all to keep the tears at bay. And they held out long enough for me to fasten my seat belt and turn to see my little girl in a whispered conversation with her little girlfriends, smiling and looking so happy. This time, the tears were joyous, that somehow my beautiful baby girl had found within herself what she needed to face something a bit scary and new. My heart swelled with pride the whole drive home.

As for Jack, well he continues to be our little butterball of bliss-- most of the time. He is truly the happiest baby I’ve been around, so long as you catch him from 8am to 8 pm. He is now crawling EVERYWHERE. If he hears bath water running, he takes off, and I usually round the corner just as he is about to throw himself over the edge of the tub. He started taking steps, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say he is walking, because after about 3, he either plops down on the floor, or falls face forward. Tyler walked at 9 1/2 months, Kaiti at almost 11 months, so we’ll see what this guy does. He really beats to his own drum, so just when we think we’ve got him figured out, he throws a new one at us. As for his health, we continue to be blessed with how healthy our boy is. In June, Dr. Lacey- Jack’s cardiologist- told me that she thinks he has Kartegener’s Syndrome. She explained what it was, and told me he needed to get into to see the geneticist as soon as possible. The news broke my heart. There I was, with my 3 little ones, Jeremiah far, far away, while this amazing doctor tells me that Jack might have something that would could limit him, create problems for him, as he grows. But she- Dr. Lacey- looked at me and, while urging me not to google it (the last time I googled something they thought Jack had, I did not sleep for weeks) and reassured me that with all the things Jack was up against before he was even born, he has been, and continues to be, a very healthy, GROWING, baby boy. She is absolutely right. And when I spoke to Jeremiah that afternoon on the phone while he was in Iraq, he reassured me that if it were true, and Jack has this condition, we would not let it affect his life. Thank goodness I had the foresight to marry such an incredible rock of a man. We have been to the geneticist since then, and he thinks that Jack may have a ciliary condition (which is the category that Kartegener’s falls under) but that it might not be as severe as Kartegener’s. He thinks that all of Jack’s health idiosyncrasies are linked to one common condition, and now we have to figure out what that is. We go see the geneticist again next week- but we have learned that answers about Jack are slow to come by. So I have had to learn patience in all of this. I am still learning. But as soon as we have answers, we’ll be sure to pass them along. Every night, we say our prayers, and we ask that God continue to watch over our family and our friends. Every once in a while, as we are finishing our prayer, one of the kid’s pipes in, ‘Excuse me God, can you please make sure that our baby Jack is okay.’ Tyler and Kaiti have been there every step of the way with Jack, from the scary news in the beginning, and I often forget how this has affected them. And then they remind me, while we pray, about the compassion this has taught them. I think we all know how blessed we are that Jack is a healthy boy and it could be much, much worse. I am so incredibly thankful for my family and the blessings that have come our way.

Before I close, I wanted to share with you all that my old friend Chris- Christine, now that she is all growed up-welcomed her second child, a healthy, beautiful baby boy, they named Dylan, a couple weeks ago! Glad to hear she has already been inaugurated into the ‘Mama of a Boy’ club......hehehe.

Love and hugs to you all!

p.s. had to share this with you- as I have been typing this, Jeremiah has been baking cupcakes for Kaiti’s fishy, Lady-- it’s her 1st birthday today, according to Kaiti. he even went so far as to make buttercream frosting--- isn’t he great????

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

jack's story

My Jack. My special baby, specially made. For those who don’t know Jack’s story, here it is, from a mother’s perspective. I am not a doctor, and don’t pretend to understand much of what we have learned about our little boy, so please pardon my lack of knowledge and my very layperson view. All I do know is how this experience has changed me, how it has changed my family, and how his presence has added more joy and love to our already abundant lives.

At the 21 week ultrasound (we delayed it 3 weeks so Jeremiah could be present, because he was deployed at the 18 week mark), we went in excited and anxious to find out what we were having. After telling us we were having a boy- WOO HOO- the technician started to get a puzzled look on her face and kept going over and over the same spot on my belly.

Her mood seemed to change, and as I continued to rattle off questions, she grew more quiet, more hurried and intent on what she was doing. I immediately felt dread- her expression, in my eyes, was telling. She told us to wait there, she’d be right back. I knew something was wrong. Whether Jeremiah did too, I don’t know. I told him I was worried and felt something was wrong,  but he dismissed it by saying she was probably just going to the bathroom or something. In what would be the first of many, my husband gave me an ‘everything is going to be alright’ pep talk as he squeezed my hand. We waited, for what felt like hours, as I was thinking ‘Lord, please not again.’

Just 12 weeks prior to that, we lost my mom. I was just 8 weeks pregnant. Suddenly, without warning, my mom, my rock, my confidant, my friend, my hero, my idol and role model, and my biggest fan, was gone, and I had not even begun to process her loss. My heart was broken and I questioned whether it would ever be whole again.

My hopeful spirit and positive nature was not what it used to be, and I was truly scared for our baby.

The doctor came in and explained that the technician found something ‘interesting’-- I kid you not, that was his word. I’m thinking, unless you see a bunny or a gumball machine in there, it is NOT interesting. As I sat there, tight lipped and quite huffy over his word choice, he told us that our baby’s stomach was not where it should be, and that some other things looked ‘off’. He said he was not 100% sure, and suggested we go see another technician for a more in-depth look- this was on a Friday afternoon, though, so we had to wait until the following Monday. I walked out confused, devastated, and afraid. We had plans to camp with friends that weekend, and while tears spilled down my cheeks and I told them what happened, they looked on, rather helpless. 

We got the first available appointment, with Tyler and Kaitlin in tow, which later I realized was a bad choice. ~I should interrupt here and say that while I was terrified and worried, I was hopefully optimistic, and I let myself be convinced, swayed by the encouraging words everyone was sharig with me. My husband, my sister, my friends were all telling me that it was probably a mistake (‘You know how the Naval hospital sometimes goofs up’ some said), and assured me that when we went to the next appointment, we would see everything is as it should be with our baby. So I believed them, really because I could not accept the alternative- this pattern of hopeful words convincing me of things I desperately wanted for became a pattern with Jack, I would later learn.

So, we sat through over an hour of tedious scanning, moving, flipping positions, pushing, trying to get this stubborn child to give us a good clean view of what was going on. From the start, our boy was hard-headed. And again, the ultrasound view of our baby- to my eyes, anyway- looked the same as the ultrasounds I had seen for Tyler and Kaiti. Nothing jumped out at me, so it was easy for my head and my heart to believe they were wrong, that this was all some colossal mistake. So, I was not prepared at all for what came next.

Upon finding out about Jack’s condition, there was a lot of confusion. Some thought his heart was incorrectly located- dextrocardia. This was his diagnosis for several weeks (10, actually) and most likely meant that caridac function was affected and he would require heart surgery upon birth. Other neonatal specialists insisted his heart was where it should be, but everything else was a mess. We were told that with this genetic anomaly, typically, there are a lot of other issues that they cannot always identify with an ultrasound. So, for 10 weeks, we had no idea what was going on or what kind of fight our son was involved in.  And I waited- not at all patiently- to be assigned the proper high risk doctor who could treat me. For 10 weeks I was without an OB, but continued to go back and forth, more times than I remember for ultrasounds.

Finally, at about 34 weeks, we got an answer. Our baby, who we chose to name Jack William after Jeremiah’s grandfather and my dad, had something called Situs Ambiguous. His heart was in the correct location, though it was flipped, but his stomach, liver, and other abdominal organs were on the wrong side and malrotated. They were not sure what would happen with our baby until he was born. They told us he would immediately be taken to the NICU, and they would do tests on him and watch him and determine from there whether he needed surgery or anything else. They explained that eating would be an issue, and since there are specific pathways that connect the heart to the stomach and other organs, they weren't sure how our son would handle his own unique pathways......basically, only time would tell.

At one point, during all of this, we were taken into a room and told Jack’s chance of having Down’s Syndrome had dramatically increased, among other things, and though he seemed fine while he was in my womb, once we cut the cord, he would have to survive on his own, and there was a chance we could lose him. They suggested the possibility of an abortion. I am not sure how to describe how I felt, because I was so many things- stunned, offended, hurt, scared, and angry as heck. We quickly told her (Dr T) that abortion, along with testing that could put me into early labor that would certainly result in losing the baby, was absolutely not an option, and this was our baby- end of story. To think of that now still really upsets me. **Ironically, I saw Dr. T recently, while struggling to keep Jack content in my arms, and fought the urge to march up to her and introduce my beautiful, bubbly boy she told me to consider ‘terminating’.** I refused to see Dr. T after that day.

Three weeks before my scheduled c-section, I went in for a routine visit- they removed me from military care and put me with a wonderful high risk team at Baptist Hospital. As my doctor was using the doppler and asking me the normal things- complaints, pain, contractions- a concerned expression spread across her face. I knew that look well. She cranked the volume up on the doppler (what they use to listen to sounds in the womb- namely, the heartbeat), and looks up at me and says, ‘When was the last time you felt him kick?’ I felt nausea rise in my throat and tears spring to my eyes. I glanced over at Tyler and Kaiti, who were sitting in the chair watching Scooby Doo on my ipod, as I felt that familiar fear creep up my spine. They had not heard what she said, thankfully. I remember thinking, Lord, please help me look strong- do not let them see my tears and please spare them from this. --Please understand, this all very much affected them, too. They were aware that Jack might be a little ‘sick’, but only slightly. We prayed for their baby brother every night, spontaneously, so while we played down what was going on, they were aware and they felt worry, too.-- She, my OB, told me Jack’s heart rate was very low, too low, and she wanted to keep me there to do an ultrasound so we could get a good look and see what was happening. I waited, with Tyler and Kaiti at my side, terrified once again. They admitted me overnight and let me go home the next day when they felt his low heart rate would not endanger his life. I had to go back in every 3 days until I had him.

On the day he was born- true to their word- they whisked him away. I had to wait for over a day to hold my precious baby in my arms-- I was NOT prepared for that. My husband, my dad, my friends, my pastor....all were able to see my child, but I could not because of the c-section. God knows, I tried to get to him- I all about threw a fit and forced myself to stand and reopened my stitches to get up to the NICU. Staying in my bed and not touching my child was crippling. I had to see my son, struggling., in his first moments of life, via a digital camera my husband kept bringing down to show me.

And when I finally saw him, my heart broke, and swelled at the same time. I felt so blessed and beyond thrilled to meet my new son and to touch his sweet skin, but was overwhelmed by the tubes and wires and machines hooked up to his tiny, sweet little body. He spent his first week of life there.

But as much as we longed to take him home and rip those wires and tubes out of his body, we knew how fortunate we were. He was one of the healthiest overnight baby's in the NICU. Some of Jack’s neighbors were waiting to undergo open-heart surgery, one little girl’s weight was measured in ounces, and not pounds, and another little girl was born to a drug-addicted mother and was not expected to live through the night. It was heartbreaking. It was the saddest place I had ever been. We heard weeping mothers and whispering nurses and saw exhausted, spent parents pacing the hallways. 

But in the midst of all that despair and unexplainable sadness, we saw baby’s going home. We saw baby's healing, becoming well, thriving, and defying odds. And our baby, despite having complications, was not desperate fighting for his life every moment, like so many were. I remember crying my eyes out when I was dismissed from the hospital and had to leave my son there. I remember coming to the point in my agony where I had no tears left. I was numb.

The next morning, on the drive to the hospital, I remember thinking how bizarre this was, that this was happening. You see, you never imagine that things could go wrong, really. Babies are all around us, pregnant women are glowing amongst us, and in my innocence, despite having had a miscarriage, it never occurred to me that after making it 9 months in my belly, a child could be born and have to fight for his life. And for the first time in my 30 years, I was in awe of the miracle that is life. I will never take for granted how amazing a gift a healthy child is. Never. And that is just the first lesson my sweet son would teach me over time.

That experience is forever written in my heart, reminding me every day how we blessed we are to have Jack home with us now. No matter what the future holds for our son, we know that every day, every moment is a gift, and come what may, our perfectly made son is a constant reminder of His beauty and love. 


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