Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Portland with Friends

After college, many of my friends stayed in Portland. Heath and I wanted to stay in Portland but thought it would be good for us to save up money before Owen was born, so we moved in with my mom. Well, you know the rest - Owen was born and we stayed in California.
Anyway, during our vacation we got to see many friends we have missed so much in the last two years. It was just like old times!

First . . .

we had to go to Applebees. This Applebees was not far from the college and I had many fun nights wirht friends at this place. I can remember some nights just filled with laughter. I also had many late nights studying at this Applebees. Great times

Next . . .
We simply had to go to Powell's Books. This store was always a place filled with adventure! It is such a big bookstore with such an interresting floor plan. If you have never been, you must go!

Finally . . .
What's a day in Portland without Flying Pie Pizza? It is wonderful! My best friend Stephanie had never been?!?!?! She was my friend all through college and I never took her! Shame on me! I had to make up for the time lost and show her the wonderfullness that is Flying Pie hehe

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Visiting my Brother

I have to say, one of the main reasons we were so adamant about taking this trip was so that my brother and his family could meet Owen. Owen is now 2 years old and my brother is the only one out of all immediate family who had never met Owen. With Owen's GI team pushing a surgery that I am not comfortable with at all, I thought it was important for my brother to meet him before the surgery took place. I know that sounds terrible but I would feel so terrible if, God forbid, something happened to Owen and my brother never got to meet me.
With that said, we had a wonderful visit with family. I think they were all very excited to meet Owen!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Daddy and his boys

I just have to share these cute pics!

Lydia's First Birthday Party

When picking this weekend to go to Portland, we didn't even think about birthdays. Well, Heath's sister Heidi has a daughter about 3 weeks younger than Isaiah. She turned 1 on the 19th!
Happy Birthday Lydia!
Heidi has a friend that throws children's pony parties - how fun! So, we got to experience a little farm life for Lydia's first birthday. Since it was rainy outside, they ended up giving the kids inside pony rides. Every once in a while the rain would clear and a kid would get to go outside on the pony :) I wanted to share a few pictures from the day.

 Lydia and Heidi
 Happy 1st Birthday Lydia!
 The Merritt Family
 Owen got to ride the pony!
 Isaiah did too!
Heidi made the cake and cupcakes all by herself :)
 Lydia's first bite of pizza
I think she liked the cupcake!

We were so glad to be there for Lydia's special day!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our First Family Vacation

We are currently on vacation! We made it to Portland!
This is the first time we have been to Portland since the summer before Owen was born. Heath and I both went to college and met in Portland. We will always have a special place in our hearts for this city and the people that live in it. We constantly think about moving back but we know it would not be the best thing for Owen's medical care. Someday we hope to move back to the Northwest but for now we will stay in California and make sure Owen is taken care of by the best!
Anyway, we decided it would be best for Owen if we drove. Driving to Portland without children is about a 14hour trip. We were a little nervous about a long drive with our kids but we knew they were no strangers to living in their car seats for a day (due to frequent trips to Oakland). The planning was a little tricky. Because Owen is on TPN each night, we had to take a whole duffel bag of medical equipment. We also had to bring a cooler loaded with ice packs (the gel kind because if you use regular ice the TPN could freeze), TPN bags, and the meds that need to be refrigerated. We had a thermometer in the cooler to make sure the TPN was kept at the appropriate temperature.
Because it is such a long drive, the TPN supplier told us that we would have to stop every 4-5 hours to re-pack the TPN. This presented a problem because stores do not sell gel ice packs already frozen. We were told that we couldn't use ice so we really didn't know what to do. So, we started thinking about relatives or places we could stop that would have the gel ice packs. Fortunately, I have a cousin that lives in Red Bluff - which is about 5 hours from Sonora. Perfect! I called her right up and she was happy to pick up some ice packs and freeze them for us! It was a pretty perfect place to stop because we arrived in Red Bluff at about 11am. We ended up stopping for an hour and a half as we ate lunch and let the kids run around.
They were even able to meet some chickens!

Our second stop was at another cousins house in Grants Pass. Again, it took us about 4.5 hours to get there! Perfect timing to change the ice packs! We had a great visit with more family :)
The whole trip went pretty well. Our kids are so good in the car :)

 Owen had a couple of poops that were pretty bad but, thankfully, it never ruined the car seat! Also, Isaiah didn't get fussy until we were about 2 hours from Portland. He cried for a solid hour but then fell asleep . . . poor little guy

Owen playing peek-a-boo

A bottle can always calm Isaiah down

We arrived at Heath's sister's house (in Vancouver WA) at around 9:30pm. As soon as we got the kids to bed and the car unloaded, Heath and Dustin (brother-in-law) got started with the endless video game playing - in 3D

What a great first vacation for our little ones! Excited to share more . . .

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy NICU Nurses Day!

I had every intention of writing this post early this morning, however, the boys had other plans :)

Happy NICU Nurses Day!
NICU nurses are very near and dear to my heart, of course. I thank God that NICU Nurses exist and spend their lives caring for the most delicate and needy babies in the world. Thanks to all the NICU Nurses in the world :)
I want to take this moment to especially thank the NICU Nurses that chose to be Owen's primary nurses while he was in the NICU. A huge thank you to Janie, Tess, Shi, Vera, Christina, and Janis. You 6 women are so special to me. I have no idea how I would have survived Owen's NICU journey without each and every one of you. 

This pictures is extremely special to me. If you don't know, Heath and I were married at the Oakland Children's Hospital Chapel. We were originally waiting for Owen's due date so that we could be married with him in the wedding. Well, when he came early we decided to wait to plan a wedding. After 4 months in the NICU with no discharge date in site, we decided to ask if we could get married with him at the hospital. They agreed! The social worker set it all up and we were married on Owen's due date. We were so happy that Janie, one of Owen's primary nurses, came to witness the occation

I want to take this time to write a couple of stories just to show how special these women are to our family.

1. It was early January 2010. Owen had recently gone through his 3rd surgery to re-connect his intestines. Owen wasn't himself. He was lethargic and his oxygen saturations were dropping. I was holding him. It was shift change but Janie was his nurse that morning. All the sudden, a nurse comes running in saying, "He has RSV!" The nurse was clearly freaking out and the nurses started scrambling saying they needed to get him into isolation ASAP. I immediately started crying. I was holding Owen and I just got so scared. It was Janie's time to go home. But, did she go home? NOPE! She got on her knee and started comforting me. She started explaining what RSV was and what I should expect. She kept reassuring me that Owen would be ok and that we would figure out how to help him. She stayed with us until Owen was moved into the isolation room. She calmly explained everything that was going on and she didn't leave for home until I was comfortable. Janie is completely family. She will always be a part of our lives and I hold the deepest respect for her as a nurse and as a person. I love you Janie!

2. It was late January 2010. My Grandma had just died. Owen was in isolation due to RSV. He was on the oscillator for breathing (the oscillator is the strongest ventilator used in the NICU). His health was leveling out and I needed to be home for my mom during my Grandma's funeral. My primary nurses all made sure I knew they would let me know everything that was going on with Owen and call me with anything I would be worried about. Well, just after my Grandma's funeral was over, Owen began having seizures. Shi was his nurse when the first one happened. She called me as soon as Owen was stable and Heath and I drove straight to the hospital. When we got there both Vera and Shi were there to meet us. They were both supposed to get off at 11p.m. but stayed until we got there so they could let us know what was going on. They both hugged us and tried to calm us down. Vera started telling us that Owen had a total of 3 seizures and had heart arrhythmia's. They had no idea where these symptoms were coming from or why they were happening. These nurses were there to help us through it all. I have no idea what I would have done if I didn't have nurses who cared so much about Owen and our family.
We were truly blessed with the best NICU nurses anyone could ask for!
Happy NICU Nurses Day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Facebook Remembers

Does anyone find it creepy how much information we put on facebook? I know I put way too much about myself on the internet but it really is my way of communicating with family, friends, and sharing my family with them. Well, I never realized this before but, sometimes when you go onto facebook and are looking at a specific status, picture, ect. it will give you links to random status updates, pictures, or comments on the right hand side.
Today I realized that one of these links is titled, "On this Day in 2009". Well, 2009 was the year Owen was born. Facebook brought to my attention a status that I wrote on Sept 14th 2009. Here is what I wrote,
"our little baby Owen is back to his birth weight yay! However, its probably just because he can't poop. poor guy . . . he's all backed up. Tomorrow they will find out why. Other than that he seems to be doing well. He just needs to keep on growing :)"
On this day 2 years ago, I was excited. Excited for weight gain. I didn't see the signs. I was clueless. The words that stick out in my mind in this status are he can't poop. The words that really started it all. Brought us to the world Owen lives in today. It amazes me - this simple statement I wrote so innocently 2 years ago flashes RED at me today. He couldn't poop. He couldn't poop because he had a disease called Necrotizing Enterocolitis. A disease that the doctor said would go away on its own and that we shouldn't worry. Little did we know that 5 days from me writing this statement on facebook, Owen would be in an OR fighting for his life. We would be sitting in a waiting room listening to doctors tell us they will do what they can but that we should prepare for Owen to never come out. This all started with just three little words I was so naive about back then.
Thank you facebook for reminding me of the important things in life. I cannot change the past - even though I want to so badly sometimes (just to educate myself a little more - maybe I would have faught harder for the docs to transfer him). Today I am thankful and reminded that it could have been worse for Owen. He is with us, he is growing, he is learning - getting smarter every day, he is happy. I am so thankful that my little boy can poop! And I hope his pooping improves as he grows to someday be able to live without all the tubes.
I guess this was just a little trip down memory lane for me.

On this Day 2009

(my engagement rign on his arm)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The difficult days

Today was a difficult day for me. I guess it was just an emotional day. This past year has brought many challenges I haven't been prepared for. I feel like I am in a constant thunderstorm on a small boat in the middle of the ocean. Let me just say - I am scared of thunderstorms, I hate the ocean, and I would not be caught dead on a small boat. With that aside, I am here - floating and learning how to survive.
Let me say first, I know we are so blessed to have Owen here with us. Please do not take this post the wrong way. I know what could have happened to Owen and I know it could be so much worse.
With that said, today was not a day I would like to repeat. I don't know that I can even fully explain why. It wasn't a particulary difficult day compared to some of the days we have had this year. However, for me emotionally, I can only describe it as gut-wrenching.  As a mother, you don't want to see your child go through pain. I guess seeing Owen go through so much pain on a daily basis finally caught up to my emotions.

I hate to watch Owen in pain. I feel like, a lot of the time, I am putting him through the pain. I know what I am doing is what he needs to live, however the look he gives me as I am changing his picc dressing or putting ointment on his constantly burned bottom just kills me. I can't help but feel responsible for his pain. I wish I could take it all away from him.

This day way long, filled with unexpected problems which, I guess, added to my stress and emotional state.
I appologize if this was a post about me or the way I am feeling but I can't help but feel so sorry for my little boy. I want to take his pain away!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Drinking Water

A little background: When Owen was born, of course, he didn't eat right away. At a couple days old they would wipe his mouth with breastmilk. At three weeks old, when he was transferred to Oakland, he was taken into emergency surgery. As he recovered from surgery, he was not able to eat by mouth or NG tube. They slowly introduced feedings after recovery but it was never by mouth. The first time Owen drank by mouth was after his recovery from his second surgery. He was almost 4 months old. Because he was almost 4 months old, he had to be trained to suck and swallow. Something so simple - he had no idea how to do. He went through many therapies - OT, Speech, PT. By the time he came home, at 8months, he was sucking from a bottle but not much, only 20mls 3 times a day. We had to mix in a liquid thickener into his formula so he wouldn't choke. He had a tendency to inhale the formula if it was too thin. Well, in July 2010 Owen got Whooping Cough. As his cough got worse, his interrest in sucking on a bottle went away. While hospitalized for Whooping Cough, Owen no longer would take a bottle. We stopped trying to force him to take it until he recovered. When we got home we started letting him play with a bottle again but he would not even put the nipple in his mouth. It just got worse and worse. Soon, he could barely swallow.

It has been over a year since Owen stopped sucking a bottle. We have been worried about Owen getting sick lately because he wants to drink water but kept choking when we would give it to him with a cup, spoon, or straw. I have been trying different sippy cups with him lately because he seems to be really interrested in water. Owen really likes straws so a couple days ago I pulled out this old sippy cup we got as a gift on Owen's first birthday. It has a large straw but the straw acts more like a sippy cup. When you suck on the straw, the water comes out very slowly. I handed it to Owen just to see what he would do - he started sucking on it! He loved it and wouldn't put it down for the rest of the day! The following day he drank 7 cups of water - he got sick from drinking so much water! Can you imagine - not having a drink for over a year? I would be excited to drink too! I am so excited for Owen! He sucks and sucks on that straw and doesn't cough or choke at all! I am a very proud mommy! I just had to share this video :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blog Button!

So, I have seen many blogs that have a button with some kind of logo and their blog name. People can grab a code and place your blogs button onto their blog, like a link. I have wanted one for a while now. Well, last night I spent most of the night/early morning trying to figure out how to create one. And. . . I actually did it!
I made one for this blog, our family blog, and one for the Owen's Miracle blog. Grab them and put them on your blog today :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Smarty with a G-Tube

I have to say, even though Owen doesn't talk yet, we all can see how smart he is. His g-tube feedings are continuously ran day and night. However, when the bag is empty, he needs a bath, or he pooped all over and we don't want it to get onto the tubing, we will unhook him from his feedings. He watches us so closely when we take care of his medical needs. Well, he has now learned how to hook up his g-tube to his feeding. He can open his g-tube, plug in the tubing, and even pushes the button on the machine to start it. What a cutie he is . . . and learning even in all that he has gone through.

Owen really amazes us with every step he takes. We are so blessed by him as we learn what life is really all about each and every day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thing 1 and Thing 2

As my previous posts have revealed, I now have a 1 year old and a 2 year old! My boys are growing up so fast! Because I wasn't able to throw a big bash for Owen's first birthday due to having a baby a few days before, I thought it would be a fun idea to make this birthday extra special. I started planning this party around April of this year. Little did I know that Owen would be in the hospital most of the summer. But, I was determined to get this party together! Luckily, my mother-in-law flew in a week before the party. Unfortunately, Owen was admitted that same day. Owen was discharged two days before the party. We had a lot of work to do in those two days. We pulled it off! I think the party turned out great!

When thinking about this party in April, I couldn't get dr. seuss out of my head. I thought, how perfect to have a "thing 1 thing 2" party for my thing that's turning 1 and my thing that's turning 2! I know this theme is usually used for twins but I think it is a perfect fit for my two crazy fun boys!

WARNING: Lots of pictures ahead : )

The sign that welcomed the party guests

This is the candy/picture signing table. I was very proud of this table. There was a variety of blue and red candies for party guests to fill the goodie bag with when leaving the party. A week before the party we were blessed with the opportunity to have a photographer come to our home to take pictures of our "things". We bought frames and had people sign around the picture of thing 1 and thing 2.

Thing 1

Thing 2

The goodie bags

Thing 1 high chair, present table, Thing 2 high chair

I was looking all around for a Happy Birthday banner, thing 1 and thing 2 style, but they were so expensive on etsy. So, I decided to make my own! I am very proud of the way it turned out :) Below the banner, are a years worth of pictures for both Owen and Isaiah. Everyone loved being able to see them grow through the year.

Of course we had to have green eggs and ham in honor of dr. seuss! Below is a picture of Isaiah eating the green eggs - he loved them! hehe

Thing 1 and Thing 2 had matching shirts on. I was so happy I bought these shirts! They totally tied the theme all together.


Isaiah had some funny faces during the present opening portion of the party. He was trying to entertain himself lol

Our party guests certainly knew our boys! Almost everyone got them at least one book! With each new book, their faces lit up and they had to hold them.

Owen got a new phone! He just loves phones - they got three new phones all together.

Keeping with the theme, we just had to make thing 1 and thing 2 cupcakes! We attempted to make the blue hair with cotton candy but it didn't work out so we dyed the frosting instead. I think they still look amazing!

Cupcake Stands!

These two smash cakes were made by Cornerspace Cakes in Sonora. They were great! I was so happy to have these fun cakes for the boys to destroy.

The cakes and the cupcakes together!

As we sang happy birthday! Owen didn't wait all all. Stuck his hand in and took a bite. Isaiah reached for it but Daddy made him wait til the song was over.

Isaiah was all over the cake. He loved it! He just kept digging in for more!

After Owen's first bite, he decided that the cake wasn't for him. He sat back and took his hands off the table. Then he signed, "All done." Hehe He did NOT like the cake.

Once Owen realized I was not going to take the cake away, he started to play with it! He peeled off the Thing 2 white fondant from the top and removed the candle. Then he smiled as if he was so proud of himself

Our messy boy!

Owen smiling for mommy!

All of us! Isaiah was done and when he is done you better get him down! hehe Owen looking on amazed because his brother is so loud.

After the boys had a bath, they changed and everyone came into our living room. The boys wanted to sit in their chairs like everyone else lol.

Right when we got inside, we pulled out the tunnel the boys got from Grandma to see if they would like it. At first, they refused to go inside it. But, as Daddy started playing with them, they quickly changed their minds and had a blast!

Happy Birthday Thing 1 and Thing 2!