Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I've Moved...

I've renamed my blog, thus moving it to a new web address. It's the same stuff, just wanted a different feel overall. So for all 13 of my followers, you can find me here!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Roly Poly Baby

As of last Wednesday, baby C is dazzling us with her newest party trick - rolling over! We have been working on this trick for a couple weeks now. Once she began rolling to her side, I started using a blanket to gently roll her back and forth while singing a silly song, making the motion fun and familiar instead of scary. Then last week, at 19 weeks old, with a look of sheer determination, she did it all by herself! I then, of course, spent the rest of the day getting her to do it over and over again while I took pictures and videos and cheered her on. 

Each day, she gets stronger and stronger. Just this morning, she began refusing to lay down for her bath. She much prefers to sit up and smile at herself in the mirror. She holds her own bottle now (with a little assistance from Mommy) and pulls it away when she's full. I love watching her become this persistent, independent little person. I just know that sitting up is right around the corner.

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Since I was little, I had lists of hypothetical baby names and ideas of where I would live and where my kids would go to school. I have never been afraid of trading in my car for a mini van. I always knew I would be a mom. But I had no idea it would be this much fun and had no idea I could love one human being so very much. Husband and I decided the only way to even remotely describe it is that it has the intensity of your first love - the all consuming thoughts of adoration paired with infatuation, the need to be with that person every second of every day without ever growing tired of their company, the thought that you would rather die than have anything bad ever happen to them - times 10. It's unreal how much I love this little girl and how many hours I can spend staring at her, watching her roll over (over and over again), and dancing around the room trying to make her laugh.

I have a beautiful life.

Friday, July 8, 2011

To Everything There is a Season

A few years ago I took a job I wasn't entirely thrilled to take, but knew it would help Husband (then boyfriend) and I make the move back to Birmingham and would add a nice line to my resume. It was simply a building block, a stepping stone, and nothing else. It was not a dream job and was certainly not a dream company. But as I began my position as sales and marketing rep for a physical therapy company, I was lucky to meet a physical therapist who would become a great friend. That physical therapist was Jessica. We became friends over the few months I worked with that company and relished our lunch breaks together until we each moved our separate ways professionally. 

We have since attended each other's weddings and shared the joys of pregnancy and motherhood together. She is a wonderful person and her Ben and baby Catherine are going to have years of fun together. But this week, as she lost her father to a battle with melanoma, my heart aches for her and I am reminded once again how precious is our time in this world and how important are the friendships we not only make, but maintain and enjoy.

As C and I waited in line yesterday to pay our respects and hug the necks of loved ones, I looked around at the chapel full of family and friends her father had spent a lifetime acquiring. There were tears as to be expected, but there were also smiles as stories of reminiscence were being told all around me. As I hugged Jessica's mom and then Jessica, I was suddenly so grateful for an otherwise meaningless job a few years ago. Grateful that a job had brought such wonderful people into my world. And grateful that I could be there to celebrate the life of the man most precious to them.

There is little, if anything, that can be said to bring peace at such a difficult time. But I hope Gerald left this world knowing how dearly he was loved by so many. And I hope that we are reminded to love and appreciate the people in our lives every single day, however they may have entered our world.

To everything there is a season, and 
a time to every purpose under heaven: 

A time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 
A time to kill, and a time to heal; 
a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; 
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, 
and a time to gather stones together; 
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose;
 a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
A time to rend, and a time to sew; 
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
A time to love, and a time to hate; 
a time of war; and a time of peace

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I am the product of a military family on both sides. My father's father proudly served in the U.S. Army, lying about his age to enlist early and avoid the otherwise inevitable work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. He served in Vietnam and spent years moving my dad, my aunt, and my grandmother all over the place, even spending a few years stationed in Germany. He flies his flag proudly in his front yard (above his Pittsburgh Steelers flag, of course).

My mother's father served in the U.S. Army as well. He then served as a Colonel in the National Guard and was a renowned recruiter. Once he retired, he built his business on his military passion and connections, owning and operating one of the largest military supply companies in the U.S. He made his big break during Desert Storm in '91 as he was able to keep up with the high demand with a sudden rebound of patriotism. He is 80 years old and still goes to work every single day. This country is his life.

Needless to say, my family is proudly American and celebrates accordingly. I was taught at a very young age that the 4th of July is simply the date. The holiday is referred to as "Independence Day." And for as long as I can remember, I've had a homework assignment due on the 4th of July. 

My sister and I were required each year to turn in an assignment to my dad. In any artful expression we chose, we were to describe why were proud to be Americans and what Independence Day meant to us. They began as drawings in crayon on construction paper, but over the years, developed into poems, essays, and paintings. Two of my Dad's favorites being my essay written from my summer serving as a camp counselor at Camp Nakanawa in Crossville, Tennessee and my sister's very long text sent from her summer backpacking through Europe. Without fail, every year, no matter where we were or who we were with, we turned in our assignment. We were thankful. We celebrated.

This year, I'm a day late with my homework, but am thankful none the less. I am so very proud to be from a family of service men. I am so very proud to be a part of a country in which I can raise my daughter to be a strong, educated, independent woman. She will be able to attend college, to pursue the career of her choice, to serve her country if she so chooses. She is free to make any decision she wants and for this, I am most grateful. I am grateful to the men and women who serve so that we may lead a life of freedom. 

I am proud to be an American and will pass on this tradition to my children as well. They will know how important their heritage is and each year, they will express it in any way they choose on the 4th of July. 

Happy Independence Day!

Catherine expressed this year's assignment through her wardrobe! :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bragging Rights

4 months old

I have bragging rights. It's my right as a mother. 

So I will cash in that chip right now when I announce that at her four month check up, C did so well that "preemie" was taken off of her chart! She is meeting all the major milestones of a typical four month old, both developmentally and physically. Weighing in at a whopping 12.5 pounds and 24.5" long, she is 30th percentile in weight and 70th in height (which were my usual percentiles at her age). There is no doubt about it. This girl will be tall.

Just look at those feet! She gets them honestly...

She's a cutie. And oh so funny.  I literally laugh at her all day, and she at me because I'm hilarious. Well, that, and the fact that she has no source of comparison. She's the perfect blend of her parents: mostly laid back with a slight flare for the dramatic; and I am constantly amazed at her ability to communicate her needs with us with a systematic string of screams, coos, and babbles. I am loving how alert she is these days as we cut back on her daytime naps and have more time for playing, reading, and watching Baby Einstein. And just the other day, I realized that she was strong enough to hold onto me while I held her. This may be my favorite development of all so far. 

Overall, she's perfection wrapped up with a bow. I just can't imagine what we ever did before her (or how much time I must have spent doing unnecessary things like applying makeup and washing my hair).

I have the best job ever.

1 day old

4 months old

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If a Tree Falls...

It's the age old question:

If a baby falls asleep two hours early, will morning come two hours earlier?

sleepy girl

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

World of Wonder

Day 41

We've seen a lot of changes in 41 days. 

C has learned to hold her head up, to grasp toys, and, just this morning, to roll over. She is teething, a constant stream of drool flowing from her mouth and a tiny fist trying desperately to provide some relief. She no longer wants to be on her back, but instead wants to sit upright any way that she can, and in true C fashion, will let you know how she feels!

Still the bright and cheery morning person, she squeals and "talks" constantly, recently adding consonant sounds to her babbling. She is wearing size 3 month clothing and has almost grown out of her footed pajamas with those long legs of hers. She smiles all the time and is wide eyed most of the day, taking in the world around her.

We've introduced Baby Einstein videos as she can finally watch them without falling asleep. She helps me turn the pages (well....sort of...) when we read books, exploring new sensations with her fingers. She would sleep straight through the night if I didn't have to wake her at 11:30 for a dose of medicine. At nearly four months old, she is growing up so very fast.

Among all these changes, we've watched the hemangioma shrink day by day. The dose of propranalol is still 0.4 mL three times a day, but will most likely increase after her appointment next week. The changes have been slow, but visible, and there isn't a day where we regret going through with this treatment:

Day 1: Day 39 profile: Day 41

The progress has definitely slowed, but we can still see that the bump is much smoother and smaller now and the coloring overall is beginning to gray, which Dr. Theos told us was the first sign of the medication working. There seems to be less pressure on her left eye and eyebrow when she smiles and this will hopefully continue to get better over time. Hopefully, C's weight gain will allow us to increase her dosage over the next couple weeks. Once the dose is 0.8 mL three times a day, the changes should be much faster. Regardless, we are so happy to watch this treatment work before our eyes and are so very grateful for such a great doctor so close to home.

We will know more after our appointment next week. Until then, we will continue to watch her grow and change before our eyes and love every single minute of it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Daddy's Girls

Something happens to a man when he becomes the father of a little girl. While he still maintains the manly gene responsible for finding fishing, golf, and baseball interesting, a soft spot develops in his heart, pushing the baseball cards and golf clubs aside, and making room for all things pink and frilly. 

My dad has never been the typical dad. I mean this in a good way. He was always there, ever present, wholly involved. His odd work hours which began his day at 3:00 a.m. allowed him to also be a room "mom", drive on field trips, serve as PTA president, and drive the carpool to dance and cheerleading practice. Often, he was the only dad there, comfortably chatting among the moms and passing out Gatorade and orange slices during breaks. He knows how to fix a tap shoe, how to turn a tutu into a bustle, and can fix a mean side ponytail. He hates, yet embraces, that glitter is a part of life. And, when challenged by my sister and me, he can do a headstand (well.... sort of...).

Always the "funny" dad, he made up songs about everything, gave all my friends silly nicknames, and kept my slumber parties lively. One of his silly songs still gets stuck in my head for days:
A fish is an animal that lives in the sea. It eats peanut butter and drinks iced tea.
He can quote many a "chick flick" and is only now, with both daughters grown and married, starting to get his fill of movies with car chases and explosions. He is the father of two very girly girls who after attempting soccer and basketball, settled on dance and cheerleading. His life has been full of assembling Barbie's dream house and reattaching Ken's leg and he stopped hunting the day I asked him why he wanted to kill Bambi. He's the daddy of daughters.

Father Daughter dance at my wedding

While I am very much my mother's daughter, so much of me is him. My love of writing and great Southern literature is from him as is my tendency to procrastinate (having watched him, on multiple occasions, write a speech en route to giving it). As a child, he took me on bicycle adventures and, after many painful sessions, taught me how to drive. He taught me how to change my oil, to change a tire, and how to cook. And even as I now have a daughter of my own, I am still a daddy's girl.

When I found out I was pregnant with baby C, part of me imagined how excited he might be if I gave him a grandson. Someone who would appreciate his signed Mickey Mantle ball instead of rolling it up and down the hallway like my sister and I did, diminishing its value with each toss. Someone to share his baseball cards with. Someone who would think bugs were cool instead of shrieking at their presence. 

But, when I told him we were having a little girl, he was thrilled. Thrilled to get to experience the Barbies and dance recitals and tea parties all over again. Thrilled to have a little tiny person with a giant bow shrieking to be picked up and tossed in the pool. Thrilled to now have a Poppa's girl. 

Poppa's girl

Having a daughter changes a man.

I see these changes in Husband as he snuggles his baby girl and sings Disney songs in the car. The youngest of four boys, his childhood memories mostly involve broken bones and dirt bike adventures. He spent summer nights digging for night crawlers while I spent mine catching lightning bugs. His Friday night movie selection was never The Little Mermaid

But, with two sweet nieces and now a little girl of his own, he gets it. He's changed a little to allow room for all of the pink and make-believe. He still loves an afternoon spent watching the Braves, but now, he does it with a tiny person in his lap, explaining to her as she listens intently how each play is impacting his fantasy team. He has mastered dressing her in little lace dresses with slips and teeny tiny buttons and he understands the importance of a properly placed flower headband. But there is oh so much more to come.

And I simply can't wait to watch him from my ringside seat over the years. 

Daddy's girl (perfectly placed
beneath the antlers on Daddy's t-shirt).

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful dad and Happy first Father's Day to my sweet Husband. We certainly are lucky girls to have such wonderful men in our lives.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Few Minutes for Mommy

The sun slowly melted into the deep blue lake as I mounted the wave runner and took off on a much needed solo ride. The lake was calm after a short summer rain chased the day's usual traffic back to their docks. I made my way to an empty slue and let the engine idle, taking in the uninterrupted sounds of nature only minutes away from civilization. The scenery resembled a work of art, perfectly reflected in the water's surface, smooth as glass, and I breathed in the warm, humid air that follows a hot summer shower. I was alone, at peace, and recharged.

As I headed back to the house, the wind ripped through my hair, eyes squinted at the sunset. I docked the wave runner, unzipped my life jacket, and went inside to reclaim my role. Twenty minutes of "me" time had passed and I felt rejuvenated as I prepared my daughter's bottle and kissed her warm, pink cheek. Mommy's back.

It is amazing how guilt so easily accompanies motherhood. I spend my days and nights wholly enveloped in this mesmerizing little girl and honestly love every minute of it. But, while every moment of every day now revolves around taking care of another person, so easily I forget to take a moment to take care of myself. In only 20 minutes, I was able to recharge and all was right again; but the guilt associated with wanting to still be a person is palpable. 

I hate that in wanting to grab dinner and drinks with a friend and actually use both hands to eat, I feel a sense of abandonment. My daughter is almost four months old and I can count the times I have left her alone with my sister or Husband on one hand and have yet to hire a babysitter for a much needed date night. 

Don't get me wrong. I love love love being able to stay home with C full time and am so thankful every day that I can; but in order to be the best mom I can be, I can't let go of the person I am. I want my daughter to benefit from having a well rounded mother who has friends and activities outside of the home. I want her to grasp the importance of relationships. I owe it to her and to myself to be a whole person and to have a little "me" time every now and then. I know this. But, will the guilt ever subside? 

My gut tells me it won't.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Little Something Extra

Yesterday, C turned 15 weeks old. For those who don't have children, she's 3 1/2 months old. Apparently, once you give birth, you then measure the child's entire first year in weeks. It seems odd, but each week is so very different. The things she is doing in her third week of month 3 are so different than the first week. I know it's silly. I'm a recent convert. (Prepare to be annoyed when I measure the second year in months).

But C was born 4 1/2 weeks early. Often I forget this little tid bit as I read all of the mommy blogs and books and emails out there that are telling me what my child should or shouldn't be doing by now. I was reminded of this factor while doing some light reading last night: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. The issue of sleep has been upon us recently as I have contracted my second bacterial infection in a one month span and often go entire days without remembering to drink water in between my coffee(s). I'm a little sleep deprived to say the least.

Operation Goodbye Hemangioma continues to go smoothly, but this also means that I continue to administer medication exactly every eight hours. The third dose of the day falls at 11:30 pm and the interruption in C's sleep tends to effect the whole sleeping-through-the-night thing.

So I consulted the book in hopes of a brilliant answer. Instead, I learned that C just might not be ready to sleep through the night yet, and that no amount of rice cereal or sleep training will change her inherent need to wake up at 4:30 am for a little mommy time.

It then occurred to me. I get an extra month.

Yes, I have to suffer through an extra month (at least) of middle of the night feedings and sleep deprivation; but I get to have an extra month (at least) of middle of the night feedings. Those sweet groggy moments of feeding and snuggles that will be gone all too quickly. I get a little extra time.

It is difficult to see my happy, healthy child as a preemie. She is stubborn and determined to her core and it is easy to forget that this strong willed little girl was once only 5 pounds. Today, she struggles to sit up, crying if I place her flat on her back for even a moment. She lifts her head with assurance and smiles a huge gummy grin when she succeeds. She is so very big in my eyes, yet still so very small. And as she grows and develops each day, I take pride in how far she has come, throw the rule books out the window, and relish the little something extra I get as the mommy of a preemie.

Mommy Brain

Last night, after I rejoiced over a poopy diaper, Husband informed me I officially suffered from "Mommy Brain" in which I was incapable of talking about anything but "mom stuff." 

He is so right. I have lost touch with the real world.

I am totally okay with this.

Welcome to my world. It's so much cuter here:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Size Matters

14 weeks

It's all about size lately. How big is she now? How much is she eating? How much medicine is she taking? How long is she sleeping?

How big? Too big! I blink my eyes and she gains an ounce, grows 1/4 of an inch. She has grown out of newborn diapers and I have packed away a box full of newborn onesies and footed pajamas.

How much is she eating? Enough to keep me in my day job of cleaning and making bottles. 

How much medicine? Enough to make a difference on day 22 of OGH:

Day 1 - Day 22
Side note: is there anything sweeter than a sleeping baby?

How long is she sleeping? Long enough for me to finish one load of laundry, start a load of dishes, attempt to make the house not look like a small explosion just went off, and grab just enough sleep to allow me to hazily function the next day.

As I rocked my nearly 12 pound (12 pounds!) baby to sleep tonight, struggling to still cradle her like a newborn, my arm tingling beneath her weight, I was painfully aware of her size and how rapidly it is increasing. I sleep for 4 hours and wake up to find a beautiful little morning person, more expressive than the day before. I blink and my three month old is teething. I turn around and she is nearly holding her head up on her own.  Where is the time going?

Along with all the other unsolicited advice you receive from complete strangers as a new mom, is the warning that they grow up much too fast. Well, random lady in the Target checkout line, you were right. I look at my sweet little three month old and realize that she is already one quarter of a year old! She has been in this world for 14 weeks in which she has learned to make playful noises, to smile, to follow the sound of my voice. She can push her tiny body up on her tiny little arms when on her tummy, and can grab toys and purposefully put them in her mouth. 

Each day she evolves more and more into the person she is supposed to be. At 14 weeks old, I can already tell she is stubborn like her Mommy, but easygoing like Daddy. She is dramatic (her god-given right as the first born) and has us wrapped around her little finger. She likes bright lights and mirrors and kisses on her chubby little cheeks. She's ticklish. Mommy's bedtime stories put her to sleep while Daddy's make her ready to play. We've already learned so much about this precious little girl yet still have so very much to discover. 

It's difficult to believe that 14 weeks have passed by already and that our once 5 pounds, 2 ounces daughter is now nearly twelve pounds and that the same little girl who was once swallowed by preemie clothes is now wearing size 3 months. While our daughter grows and changes each day, so does our world, living as if we ceased to exist before her and never looking back. We have grown from a family of two to one of three and that size matters most of all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Girl

13 weeks old today and already stealing the show. This morning, we made another trip to Children's to see Dr. Theos and evaluate how well the propranalol is working. My little show stopper was all smiles in the waiting room, in the second waiting room, and while waiting in the exam room (there is A LOT of waiting involved in these visits). In the past few weeks, C has become so expressive and something about all the bright lights at the doctor's office just makes her day (and mine)!

Waiting happily for Dr. Theos
In just 15 days of treatment, her hemangioma has changed drastically. The entire area has become soft to the touch and much less raised. The red area has become slightly gray, which Dr. Theos said is a very good sign of the medication working. I'm simply amazed that in only 15 days, we have seen such a difference and I have to brag, once again, on the staff there. Without looking at her chart, the nurse knows her name and my previous concerns from each blood pressure check. She knows that a paci is the only thing that makes C still enough for the blood pressure check and that she is happiest flat on her back on the table (so she can stare at the fluorescent light). While it's not ideal that we have to be there in the first place, I couldn't be happier with our experience.

Day 1 - Day 15
Although her blood pressure checked out much higher today, we were still advised to stick with the 0.4 mL dosage instead of increasing at all. It seems to be working well and C has adjusted to the thrice daily doses. We will return in one month to reevaluate. I'm not sure what we'll do with all our free time until then! But, after over an hour of entertaining the staff and other patients with her squealing, kicking, and general cuteness, we headed home for some much needed napping. Nap time. It's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spoiled Rotten

3 months old

Yesterday, our baby girl turned 3 months old! I have a feeling I will type this exact same thing each month, but I can't believe she's 3 months old already!

The past three months have been exhausting, exhilarating, and life changing and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's difficult to remember our lives without C. To remember life before 3:00 a.m. feedings and pacis and laundry loads full of delicate pink things. Before weekend trips involved carseats and bottle pit stops and a CD of womb sounds. Before my ears adjusted to hear the tiniest change in breathing or to identify different cries. Life before C is a distant memory and not nearly as much fun. And in this new life, there are new things to consider.

Husband and I have talked a lot lately about the people with which we surround ourselves and how they automatically become a part of her life. This weekend reminded us of what simply good people we have chosen to call our friends (and vice versa). 

C is the first baby in our group of Birmingham friends, thus becoming somewhat of a community baby. She boasts more aunts and uncles than most babies (because, you know they all talk) and I slightly fear she won't ever crawl or walk because she is constantly being held. She is loved. so. very. much. And for this, I am grateful.

This weekend, C ventured into the pool for the very first time. Our friends Ryan and Alex had everyone over on Saturday and even heated the pool to the temperature of bath water for our little girl. She was so excited to finally wear her cute bathing suit and cover up from her CiCi and her sun hat from her Mim (because the outfit is just as important as the activity) and she loved the water! She spent the afternoon being passed between Aunt Ryan, Aunt Heather, and Aunt Jenn. She even had a little cuddle time with Uncle Alex. 

Just one of the girls

After a fun filled day in the sun, the same crew headed to the wedding of a dear friend. Not only was C quiet throughout the entire ceremony, but she partied with the best of them all night long! She was mesmerized by the music and the lights at the reception and, once again, found herself being passed from one friend to the next. 

Uncle Warren and C at the reception
Dinnertime with Aunt Jenn

We so enjoyed spending the entire weekend with such wonderful friends and are grateful that C will grow up surrounded by such positive examples. She is one very lucky little girl. Happy 3 months, sweet Catherine!

Friday, May 20, 2011

In the Blink of an Eye

Operation Goodbye Hemangioma: Day 10

This morning, we increased C's dose of propranalol from 0.4 mL to 0.8 mL. After checking her blood pressure, Dr. Theos determined it was much too low to continue with that dose and instructed us to stay with 0.4 mL over the weekend and check her BP again on Monday. 

Thirty minutes before, as I carried my sleeping daughter's limp body in my arms, I knew what the results would be. While the medication has affected her sleep habits, she typically only sleeps that hard at night. And after I managed to put her in her carseat, drive home, and take her out of her carseat without so much as a peep from her, I began to panic. So I pulled out my best acts to attempt something everyone tells you never to do: wake a sleeping baby.

I sang songs, told stories in funny voices, and kissed her all over. I was going for this reaction:

Finally, after much work, she woke up as her smiling, happy self just in time for a picnic with friends. We were able to spend this sunny afternoon with our friend Ben and his Mommy Jessica. Ben is three and a half months older than Miss C and I love watching him grow and getting a little sneak peek at what is to come. These two will grow up playing together and will be best friends by their first day of kindergarten together! I'm so lucky to have a friend in the same Mommy stage as me for those days when I need to talk to someone who can talk back (and it doesn't hurt that our kids get to socialize too).

Somehow, while I have been focused on dosages, feedings, and sleep schedules, my baby girl has gotten 10 days older right before my eyes. She is much more alert throughout the day, responding to me with coos and squeals and a crooked smile. Her expressions entertain me all day long as I change mine in hopes of a mimic. She is ticklish, loves bright lights and mirrors, and thinks her Mommy is hysterical. She is squeezing into her last pack of newborn diapers and stretching out her newborn footed pajamas. Our little girl is growing so fast and I am amazed at how she changes each day.

And while she has been busy growing, her hemangioma has been busy shrinking! While the red is relatively the same, the bump has gone down, no longer affecting her left eyebrow when smiling, and the surface area is soft to the touch. Although we weren't able to stick with the increased dosage today, we will keep trucking along with our 0.4 mL until our check up on the 25th. Hopefully, Dr. Theos will be as happy with our progress as I am.

Day 1 - Day 10 on propranalol

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ain't No Rest for the Weary

Operation Goodbye Hemangioma: Day 6

Sleep is on the brain. Mostly because the Ryan house hasn't seen much of it in the last week.

We knew Operation Goodbye Hemangioma would come with side effects, one of which is increased fussiness. I can't imagine what it must feel like to already be so small and then to have your blood pressure drastically lowered. Our C is certainly a trooper, but the difference in her mood is apparent. She seems to be inexplicably upset more often than before, but can typically still be consoled. Still, this increased fussiness has somehow made it more difficult for her to sleep.

I blame myself. I may have bragged a little too much about how easy it has been to put C on a sleep schedule. For weeks now, she has been going to bed at 9:00 and not waking until 5:30! It was magical. The operative word being was

Our day now revolves around three very important feedings with medication: 8:30 a.m, 4:30 p.m., and 12:30 a.m. For the past five days, she received 0.2 mL of propranalol with a bottle exactly every 8 hours. Starting today, the dosage was increased to 0.4 mL. While the only dose that seems to throw off our sleep schedule is that at 12:30 a.m., the necessary changes made to our feeding schedule to accommodate these doses paired with her decreased appetite, have made our girl unhappy and restless in the evenings and only able to sleep for a couple hours (at best) at a time. But after these less than restful evenings, our typical happy girl is back and all smiles. Someone is a morning person (and her Mommy is learning to become one)!

Sleep. It's a simple trade off really. If my being sleep deprived and disheveled for a mere few months results in this treatment working and her hemangioma vanishing, I'll sleep later.

The medication has already begun working! After only five days of treatment, the spot is noticeably softer and less raised and her blood pressure, while much lower, is still healthy enough to continue the course. I am amazed at the results of this treatment already and continue to be impressed with the staff at Dr. Theos' office. The nurses already know and call Catherine by name at our blood pressure checks and Catherine lights up when we are there. I don't know if it's the bright paintings and lights or just the cheerful staff, but she just can't get enough of them. 

I'm so proud of our little girl. I'll leave you with this while I attempt to master the power nap.

Day 6 and counting...

Day 1
Day 6

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Operation Goodbye Hemangioma

Today, at exactly 11 weeks old, C started a treatment for her hemangioma. After much research, we went into our appointment on Monday with reservations. We were seeing a pediatric dermatologist who specializes in hemangiomas and happens to be the only one in the state. I had read countless articles and blogs and watched way too many heart wrenching you tube videos of painful laser treatments and surgeries performed on infants just as small as our baby C to treat hemangiomas very similar to hers, so I braced myself for shocking suggestions.

I was pleasantly surprised. After waiting in the bright and cheery waiting room of the Specialty Division of Children's Hospital South, we were quickly taken back to check vitals and meet with one of her many residents working underneath her. The nurses were wonderful with C and the residents were all so nice. I was most impressed with how "normal" they seemed to think C's case was, having seen countless just like it. When Dr. Theos entered the room, she got right down to business. While she assured us that the location of C's hemangioma would not likely affect any vital organs (most concerning is her left eye), there is always a cosmetic aspect to consider. Even though it should shrink and vanish on its own by the time she is two, it could leave scarring, stretched skin, or other permanent markings. Taking that into consideration, she suggested a relatively new and slightly experimental treatment that was discovered by accident while treating children in France:

Propranolol. A blood pressure medication.

By taking up to 0.8mL, three times a day, the decreased blood pressure should allow the hemangioma to shrink at a rapid pace. We could see beginning changes in as little as TWO DAYS and it could be completely gone in as little as two to three months! After an EKG deemed C's heart strong enough to handle it, it was decided we would start this morning with our first dose under nurse supervision at Children's. We started with 0.2mL and after her blood pressure checked out okay, we were sent home to continue the next 5 days of doses every 8 hours on our own. We will increase to 0.4mL on day 6 (again under nurse supervision) and then again to 0.8mL on day 11. 

I will be documenting her progress in hopes that other parents will find this information useful. I know I spent countless hours searching for answers online only to find mostly disappointing stories. Hopefully, C's case will be a success! 

Day 1 of treatment
11 weeks old

We are positive and hopeful that this will work, but know that it is experimental and we may have to explore other options. Either way, I am excited that modern medicine is allowing our little trooper to be the beautiful girl she is. Operation Goodbye Hemangioma has commenced!

"I believe that the happy girls are the prettiest girls." -Audrey Hepburn

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mom Knows Best

Mom's advice started out early with, "You can cry all you want, but you're not going to get it" and "Don't make that face or it will stick that way." It grew as I grew into classics such as, "Make good choices," and my all time favorite, "Nothing good ever happens after midnight."

I would roll my eyes as I hopped in my cherry red convertible, turned up Dave Mathews Band and pulled out of my driveway, annoyed at her constant need to know where I was going and who I was with, and painfully unaware of how much freedom I actually had. 

I had her trust and I tested it. I threw epic parties when my parents were out of town, I stretched curfew, I lied about who I was with and where I was going. 99% of the time, I got caught and 100% of the time, I learned valuable lessons. It turns out, nothing good really does happen after midnight and that the cool girls I wasn't allowed to hang out with really didn't make good choices. 

While her advice was tried and true, it was her actions that taught me the most lessons. I watched her put her whole heart into teaching, only to come home and do odd side jobs for hours at night, eventually getting her masters degree and a real estate license along the way. She didn't just serve on committees at church and at school. She was head of them all. And she still somehow had time for Alabama's Junior Miss and Bal Masque after driving us to dance and cheerleading and basketball (ahem... for that one very painful year) practices. I learned to work hard, to organize, and to take charge.

I watched her artfully wrap gifts with intricate details because the wrapping is just as important as the gift inside. She taught me how to make the perfect bow.

I learned to love Westerns, all things John Wayne, and Big Valley, because she watched them while she ironed. She ironed so often that I drew a picture of her ironing in class and gave it to her because it was her "favorite thing to do." I did not, however, learn to iron. The dryer works just fine.

I make a big deal out of all holidays with themed food (heart shaped everything for Valentine's Day, ghost cookies for Halloween, sugar cookies at Christmas) and I know how to make the perfect J-ELLO shot.

I tri-fold my towels because that's the way she did it (and it's the right way) and even if my house is a wreck, my kitchen sink is always clean.

While all these lessons have come in handy (especially the J-ELLO shots), I realize now that I learned the most valuable lesson without even realizing it. She taught me how to be a great mom.

She loves me unconditionally. Forgives and forgets with ease. Can calm me down and allow me to use perspective with simple reassurance. Even now, as I carry the title of Mom as well, she is the first person I call when anything, good or bad, happens and the one whose advice and opinions I now crave.

And all those hours she spends selflessly organizing my kitchen, cleaning my house, doing laundry, and spoiling my child, she doesn't know that I am watching her every move intently, secretly hoping that I can be only half as good a mom as she is. 

While I rocked my daughter to sleep on my very first Mother's Day, I read I Love You Forever and softly sang a verse of My Favorite Things.  As my daughter's eyes gently fluttered, fighting to stay awake, I could hear my mom reading that same book to me and singing me to sleep with that very same tune. I couldn't be prouder.

     I love you forever,
     I like you for always,
    As long as I'm living,
    My Mommy you'll be.

Nana, Mallory, C and me, and Mom
celebrating Easter four generations strong.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!