January was the start of our long stretches in the hospital with Owen. When the year began we had no idea how much our lives would be consumed by Owen's health and just getting through each day. We started off the month with family pictures! The boys were so little and cute! The day the pictures were taken, Owen was acting a little strange. We saw faces on that day that we had never seen before. I thought it was just because he was uncomfortable taking pictures. However, it turned out that he wasn't able to poop and later that night began throwing up his poop. He followed that day with several weeks in the hospital. His hospital stay moved right into february. Isaiah grew and grew while Owen and I were away.
Owen spent the beginning of February in the hospital fighting brochialitis. There were several days where he needed oxygen. And, whenever he got a bug his gut motility would slow to the point of needing IV fluids for hydration. The rest of February was pretty great! A couple really exciting things happened in February. Number 1: Isaiah learned to sit on his own! Number 2: We bought Owen's first backpack! This was huge because it meant that I had my freedom again. Before Owen's backpack, I spent my days chasing after him while pushing his pole all day. He was on continuous feeds and no backpack. I had a tiny baby to take care of and was having to follow my 1 year old around so that he didn't yank his tube out of his tummy. The backpack was a wonderful blessing!March
March brought many tearful moments and joyous moments. Isaiah learned to crawl and got his first tooth! Owen began to eat by mouth! He started with cheerios and was soon on to many other solids!
What we remember most about the month of March is that Heath's dad, Howard, passed away in the beginning of the month. He was battling cancer. Our family still misses him daily. He was taken much too soon. We have had many moments of picking up the phone and realizing we won't be able to call and tell him what we wanted to. He was an amazing man who was always caring about others first. A true man of God.
With April comes Easter and . . . standing children! They both learned how to pull themselves to a standing position this month! April 23rd marked the one year home mark for Owen! We were so excited to realize that Owen had come so far and was growing into a beautiful little boy. To honor his 1 year anniversary, our non-profit, Owen's Miracle, delivered our first set of NICU gift bags! 40 gift bags went to families struggling with their babies in Oakland Children's Hospital NICU.
May brought much more hospital time for Owen. During this hospitalization the doctors were closely monitoring Owen's weight. We had been discussing his weight in months prior but it was starting to concern everyone. When he left the NICU he was a 14lb baby boy. In May, more than a year later, he was just over 17lbs. Gaining 3lbs in one year is not ideal. Especially when you start discussing his physical and brain development. Gaining weight and good nutrition is key to developing properly. The doctors started to discuss the possibility of TPN at home to help support his healthy growth and development. The doctors went back and forth on this decision and they didn't all agree. In the end they decided against it. Owen was in the hospital most of the month of May. Unfortunately that means that I don't have many pictures of Isaiah during this time :( I often feel bad for Isaiah and I get teary eyed when I think of all the time I missed with him in his first year of life.
June brought a couple very exciting things in our lives! #1: The boys got to take swim lessons for the first time! This was both of their first times in a big pool. I couldn't really take Owen last year because he still had his NG tube and I wanted to make it easy and just keep him in his baby pool. The boys were naturals in the water! I was so excited to get to take them to the pool. I worked as a lifeguard at that pool for many years. I even became a manager and taught swim lessons for many many children. It was great to be able to have my kids in the water! I hope they grow up to love it! Unfortunately, Owen only got 4 days of swim lessons before getting sick and ending up in the hospital again. This hospital stay was extremely scary. He ended up with a gram-negative rod blood infection. These infections usually are only seen with people who have central lines. The fact that he got this infection without a line in place was a very scary thing. This infection caused him to be hypothermic. His temperature was in the low 80s and his heart rate was going through the roof. On top of everything, the particular bacteria growing in Owen was a drug-resistent bacteria. It took the doctors several days to pinpoint which drug would be able to fight off the bacteria. Thankfully, he got through it. This is the hospitalization where they realized that he would need a central line and would need to start a TPN home regimen. They placed a picc line in his left arm the day he was found to be negative for the bacteria. It was a relief because his IVs were not lasting long. He got a new IV almost everyday and it was becoming increasingly difficult to get an IV at all. At one point they had to poke him 18 times before finally getting a good IV. #2: Isaiah began to walk!! He started walking June 30th! Owen was still in the hospital when he began to walk but many people sent me videos so I could watch right along with them. Isaiah was growing up so fast and I missed so much of it. Way to go big boy!
July was an adjustment period for us. It began in the hospital. Owen was discharged and sent home with TPN and a picc line. We were so nervous but we had to learn fast. We went from being comfortable with his g-tube feeds to a much more difficult routine. We accepted the challenge and got organized! My mom graciously offered up the back bathroom so we turned the extra bathroom into a medical supply room. All the supplies and equipment soon became second nature. We were doing Picc Line dressing changes weekly along with weekly lab draws. It was a little tricky because where we live the hospital does not usually take care of children with a central line at home. Most doctors here have never seen a short gut baby. It also required us to drive to Oakland weekly (a 3-4hour drive) for Picc Line maintenance.
July brought many new things into our lives. Our most exciting development was . . . July 25th . . . Owen started WALKING! We were so happy for him! Because of all his hospital stays (not to mention his ever-changing weight of his backpack), Owen was struggling with balance and strength. With a lot of work with physical therapy Owen finally did it! It is so exciting to watch your 23month old finally walking! Now we had two mobile children!
August meant birthdays! Heath's birthday on the 17th, Owen's birthday on the 28th, and Isaiah's birthday on the 29th! All my boys in one month :) Sadly Owen had to be admitted into the hospital on Isaiah's birthday. But, he was found to not have an infection and was out just in time for his birthday party. It was a small party with just family and close friends. However, it was a wonderful party with Thing 1 and Thing 2!
In September we went on our first Family Vacation! It was lengthened when Owen ended up with a Picc Line infection. He was mostly healthy but did have a fever of 105 one night. Other than that, he just got to spend some extra time with family and friends. My brother, who lives in Vancouver, watched Isaiah while I was in the hospital with Owen and Heath took a bus back to Sonora to go back to work. Doernbecker Children's Hospital took very good care of Owen. I was so happy to see such a wonderful hospital was available in our favorite place to visit, Portland.
We were excited for October because it meant we were going to celebrate Halloween at home for the first time since Owen was born! Owen was in the NICU for his first Halloween and was in the hospital last year so this year was the first time we actually dressed both of them up! Don't they make cute Crayons?
November was very low key. We were working on talking and verbal language with both of the boys. They were both sick most of this month so we chose to stay home for Thanksgiving, just the four of us. We had a lunch/dinner that I made. It was not very good because I am not a very good cook, but I will learn :) This month we also realized that Isaiah badly needed a hair cut :)
December was one crazy month in 2011!
It started off great! We bought our newest Christmas ornament for the family, we watched Elf nightly, and sang Christmas songs all day long! Heath and I celebrated our 2year anniversary on Dec 6th! We went away for a whole weekend for the first time since Owen came home from the NICU in 2010. We were so nervous to leave Owen but knew my Mom, a nurse, could handle his care just fine. It was a much needed restful, fun weekend. After these fun events, it got a little crazy. Owen spent a couple weeks in the hospital. However, in between those weeks he came home for Christmas eve and Christmas! We were so happy to have our family all together for Christmas :)
Our family had a crazy 2011
We pray that 2012 brings health most of all! and happiness always