Saturday, May 31, 2014

Post Surgery, Day 3

Zeke  had a good afternoon and evening with only one little meltdown over not being able to get out of bed.  (He also tried to get out of bed on his own in the middle of the night to try to find Derek.  The nurses found him standing by the bed.   When I asked him this morning if he forgot or just didn't care that he had to stay in bed, he of course told me that he didn't care.)  So far, this morning has been about the same.  He's been eating more and more and has felt like playing and smiling.  Play is a bit of a challenge because he has to be in bed, has to keep his hand at 90 degrees, and then has no fingers on the other side.  But we're creative.  (See Zeke's short video below.)

It sounds like he will get moved out of the ICU sometime today.  But the plastics team still wants him to stay in bed lest he mess up the finger since it is not casted.  It sounds like the plan is to now cast it on Sunday so on Sunday, they will put him back under anesthesia and cast the foot and the hand  They also told us we can turn the temperature down.  After almost 2 fulls days of being in an 80 degree hospital room, we are all grateful for that.

One more pic...
Pardon the photobomb by Mom.  You can see how large of a dressing he has on his hand.
The one on his foot is not quite as big but pretty close.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Post Surgery, Day 2

Zeke had a pretty uneventful night and got the breathing tube out around 7:30 this morning. He is still in the pediatric ICU. He has been doing okay and we seem to be managing pain alright but he is getting frustrated by all the wires and bandages, the extra heat that is required to keep the blood vessels from constricting, and being in bed. He just pitched a pretty good fit but the nurses all said that even with that, he's doing great. It sounds like he might get to go to the regular floor tomorrow. Part of the issues revolve around the inability to cast his hand and foot since there is still a lot of swelling (totally normal). So he has this makeshift dressing that is swaddled with cotton padding and gauze and is loosely held together with bandages and tape. Definitely not 3 year old proof, especially when everyone wants you to hold your arm upright at a 90 degree angle.  We've lost our permanent bedside nurse but they still want the hand monitored continuously with a Doppler monitor and kept upright.  I think it's also starting to bother his shoulder as he was complaining of back pain.  It's a lot of work for his muscles to be in that position so much.  Amazingly, he has moved the new finger several times already.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Just in from the Sauna

Big day today-it was surgery day in Rochester for Zeke.  We started our morning bright and early with a check in time of around 6 a.m..  Zeke's surgery started at about 9:40 and he was finally back into his ICU room by 7:45 or so.  I'm guessing the actual surgery wrapped up around 7 or 7:15.  A few highlights to share with you all:

1.  Zeke handled the anesthesia and intubation well.  He did not cry when he headed back with the anesthesia team and has had no issues with blood pressure, breathing, etc..
2.  Dr. Moran shared that from a surgery standpoint, things look good.  The nubbin on Zeke's hand did not have an artery flowing to it and was also lacking a tendon so the surgery team had to pull the tendon over from the back of his hand and create an artery graft from the section where they removed his toe. Because of this, Zeke will require additional skin grafting.  Dr. Moran also shared that the actual blood vessels are as small as half a millimeter and that sutures they used are thinner than a human hair.
3.  The actual waiting for the surgery to finish wasn't awful.  Tonight will probably prove to be a rough one.  Zeke will be heavily sedated as they want to give his new finger the best chance to attach.  This means he will have a breathing tube all night.  Also, one of the risks associated with this surgery is constriction of the blood vessels.  To keep the blood vessels from constricting and disrupting the blood flow, his room temperature must be 80 degrees.  (Or warmer.)  Hence the report from the sauna.  I'm guessing it will be a pretty sleepless night.  Thankfully, because he is in the ICU and because this requires such a high level of monitoring, a nurse will be bedside all night as well.

A few things you could pray for:
-an uneventful night with no issues related to respiration or blood pressure
-that the surgery will be successful.  They will know by tomorrow morning how well things are going.  My heart just aches at the thought that we have done all of this for naught.
-that Zeke will be calm and not restless

A few things we thank God for:
-a highly skilled team of Mayo surgeons who can do amazing, mind bending things
-dear friends who have made us feel loved through financial gifts, offers to watch our kids, offers to watch our dog, and words of encouragement and prayers

Blessed by God's presence, from Is. 49:16
"See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands."  Believing God loves and care for us all, including Zeke.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

One Little Thought

One little thought-that's all it takes to get you doubting yourself, your ability, your worth, your purpose.  A cutting remark from a friend, well intentioned advice from a family member, an Internet article with 6 easy steps, a Pinterest page full of wonderful ideas, a moment in time where your inner voice echoes the negative.  It just doesn't take much and all of a sudden, the devil has a foothold.  Like a flash, he's in.  Inside your head and inside your heart, stirring up all sorts of trouble.  The cutting remark nags at you and you question your friendship.  The advice stings and you recoil and get a little bitter.  The Internet problem solving makes you feel inadequate, like you must be doing something wrong.  Pinterest starts feeling like a popularity contest, as if you've returned to high school only to find out you've shown up to prom in a gunny sack while everyone else is wearing couture.  And your inner voice becomes your enemy, repeating a subconcious message that you're unsure of its origins but quite sure of its effect.

I've had kind of a week like that, where I've just felt generally stressed and emotional.  (Maybe a few weeks...)  Kai has been doing all sorts of fun new things but the flip side of that is that he's decided sleep is optional.  Naps?  Who needs them?  A 45 minute cat nap will suffice.  Sleep through the night?  Why?  The occasional waking up doesn't bother too many people.  I've wondered if it's our lack of a hard schedule.  (And wondered how on earth I can even keep a schedule when I've got 3 other kids and other demands that require the baby to be a bit flexible.)   I've wondered if I ought to be encouraging him to self soothe and fall asleep on his own.  (Which he was previously doing, with little fussing.)  But when that results in hour long crying sessions, it quickly makes you think you ought to try another method that's more nurturing.  Which then leads you to believe you will create a little tyrant who will never be able to sleep without your presence.  I suppose it's just like every other parenting situation; it's so darn easy to doubt your every act.

Doubt seems like such a small thing.  But it quickly digresses into more than just a simple thought.  Doubt leads to panic, where you feel like you frantically should search for a solution.  Doubt leads to comparison, where everyone else seems so much more capable and happy.  Doubt leads to hopelessness, where you are certain this situation will be never ending.  Doubt leads to a vicious cycle of stress and overreaction and guilt.

So for myself (and probably for a lot of other moms), I'm going to be the voice of confidence.  There isn't a right way.  You are doing just fine.  Love covers a multitude of sins (and mistakes).  This moment is just a season.  Because every mom has fallen short and missed the mark.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

Surgery Prayer Requests

Zeke's surgery is now less than 2 weeks away.  I suppose it's just the time of the year, where our schedules are jam packed with stuff so the days just fly by, but I can't believe the actual surgery date is so close.  A few friends have asked how they can pray for us so here is my list:

1.  The surgery will be long, probably 6 hours and then Zeke will be sedated overnight.  He will undergo potentially 24 hours of general anesthesia.  All of that makes for a very long, anxious day.  Pray for peace for our hearts as we wait.
2.  Post surgery we are of course hoping for a completely successful surgery but we are also hoping for good pain management.  Pray for the surgery's success as well as adequate pain medication.
3.  My mom is traveling with us and will be responsible for Kenson, Conleigh, and Kai while we are in Minnesota.  This means a cramped mini van on the way there, a cramped mini van on the way home, and having to entertain the seven year olds for several days.  We are hoping that my mom and the kids will be able to stay at the Rochester Ronald Mc Donald House but that depends on the availability of beds.  This would be much better arrangement than a hotel since the Ronald McDonald House has access to more of the things a family might need for a longer stay.  (Like movies, board games, a kitchen suite, etc..)   Pray for a pleasant trip, especially on the return trip when we will have a post surgery 3 year old in the car for 7 hours.  Pray also that our housing situation would be something that meets our needs and that my mom doesn't have to resort to 24-7 tv and unlimited bed jumping in a hotel somewhere.  Say a prayer of praise for my mom's ability to go with us.
4.  Upon returning home, Zeke will be casted on his hand and his foot for a month.  This will limit his functionality as he will have literally no fingers for that month.  It will also limit some of the activities he can do.  Pray for this to not be a source of stress for him or us.
5.  After about a month of casting, Zeke will return to Minnesota to have the casts removed.  If all has gone well, he will need not additional surgery.  If there is not enough skin to cover the wound around his new finger, he may have to have a skin graft surgery to resolve this issue.  Pray for there to be no need for additional surgery.

Thanks so much!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Our Wildlife Rescue

The kids totally cracked me up this afternoon with their play.  At some point, they decided to play like they were rescuing sea animals.  They brought all their blankets out and had each kid stand on a corner of the blanket, lifting it up and pretending to carry a shark or a dolphin out of the water.  Then I overheard them talking about a pregnant dolphin that they were apparently caring for .  Zeke was pretty sure it was a boy dolphin but Kenson set him straight.  Lots of recording information in notebooks too.  And a hearty discussion on littering as they descended down the stairs to the coral reef.  In Kenson's words, "Um, there's a pair of Hello Kitty shoes that someone dropped onto the coral reef.  And some measuring cups."  Geez!  Litterbugs, I tell you!

I also thought it was pretty funny that the baby was watching them the whole time.  Kai loves being where the big kids are and they usually like having him around.  Apparently, they thought he needed some boundaries because they created a semi open fence out of old couch cushions and then dumped all of his toys around him.  He was entertained like that for a good 40 minutes.

Conleigh is administering some type of shot to the pregnant dolphin in this picture.
(The syringe is a styrofoam tube off of her bike, with a pen inserted into the middle.)

Kai's observation spot-yes he is watching Zeke burn his eyeballs out with a flashlight.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Here Comes Trouble!

This must be the week to become an adventurer.  In addition to army crawling everywhere (and really crawling for a few seconds at a time), this little bugger is getting into everything.  He has figured out how to open the kitchen cupboards, how to open the oven drawer, how to stand up on his high chair, and how to move around and stand up in his crib (from a lying down position).  In fact, he spent most of day simply exhausted because he was so busy "exploring" his crib that he would play and play and play and then scream and scream and scream. 

Conquering Mt. Graco

Cribs are not for sleeping

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hot Potato, Literally

Just in time for summer, when we need a few new things to do, our local Walmart had Mr. Potato Head's Hot Dash on clearance for $1.  It's actually a pretty fun little game.  The stuffed Mr. Potato Head plays music, and of course, if it ends with you holding it, you are "out."  But it also comes with a stack of cards that have pictures of objects and places around the house.  So if you play with the cards, your job is to touch the objects featured on the cards before Mr. Potato Head's music stops.  Yesterday, the big kids wanted to play just plain old Hot Potato.  Zeke was on the fence about playing and I couldn't figure out why.  He would watch and giggle with anticipation but if he tried to play, when it would come his way, he would avoid the stuffed potato.  It was a huge overreaction when it came near.  I finally figure out the problem:  Zeke knew the game was called Hot Potato and thought that if the music ended while you were holding the potato, that the potato would get hot.  Once he figured out you were not going to get burned by a fake potato, life was good.   Gotta love a literal 3 year old!

Monday, May 12, 2014

10 Fingers are Overrated-Throwing a Frisbee

How do you throw a Frisbee?  And how do you throw a Frisbee if you have Zeke's hand?  Apparently, the answer is you throw it upside down.  I tried to get a video of him as he was actually doing pretty well throwing it and getting it to glide rather than flop.  But once I got my camera, then he was all about doing something different.  Like riding his bike and having me record him riding without sitting on the sit so he could show Grandma that.  So there you go.  Now you can watch both.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Good is Not Always Simple

Parenting seems to be a bit like doctoring.  At some point, most every parent raises a hand and repeats a Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.  (And I don't necessarily mean physically, although I'm sure each one of us has more than once gritted our teeth and uttered something about promising not cause bodily injury while dealing with our children.)  The thing is, parenting is often distilled into doing good by our children.

But doing good is not always so simple.  Good does not come labeled.  The most applicable ways to do good are not highlighted or marked with post it notes.  Truth be told, some days, parenting feels like a final exam where the prep material was significantly different than the questions on the test.

The last few weeks around our house have felt like a never ending testing session, where I've ended most nights with my head in my hands, mulling over a thousand different answers while doubting every single one of them.  My indecision has revolved around one of my adopted kids.  So while being an adoptive parent does not mean I have a monopoly on that feeling, it does add an extra element to parenting.  For my child who has been struggling, it's considering that it might be lack of sleep or our extra busy schedule or Dad's absence for soccer or the end of the school year or Zeke's upcoming surgery or big feelings about a birth family or big feelings about Mother's Day.

It's the question that haunts adoptive parent:  is this behavior just normal kid stuff or is there a piece of this that is about loss or outgrowing some orphanage habit or deep seeded questions about identity?  The intensity and frequency seem to point towards something other than typical seven year old behavior.  We seem to be on a cycle of impulsive behavior (um, no we do not stand on the tables or put sand buckets full of water in our room) followed by redirection followed by sass, eye rolling, and lots of attitude complete with hips and an extended tongue.  That's all pretty normal.  But it's this cycle that repeats itself often.  Maybe three times in ten minutes.  And it's exhausting and defeating and irritating.  Oh I want to do good by this child.  But sometimes, good is not always simple.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Excitement of the Week

Not sure which I am more excited about...

my order of plants from Santa Rosa Gardens which includes a green and pink coneflower called Green Envy, a hosta that will get really tall, and some interesting coral bells

or that the local boys' soccer team is continuing play by qualifying for sub state which is the first time in school history that has happened.  I know as the soccer coach's wife, I should probably be more excited about the second item but the plants I ordered are just so interesting and they arrived in fantastic condition.

On the Kai front, there is definitely some excitement around all the new things he is doing.  Conleigh taught him to clap a few days ago which I happen to think is pretty darn adorable.  And while he's not crawling outright, he is very close.  He can crawl backwards and he can army crawl by pulling himself up and then forward.  (I know for certain I am not all that excited about the crawling prospect.  I am not sure this mom or this house are ready for that.)

Getting into stuff on the tv stand

After starting in the center of the living room, Kai made it this far.  
Zeke is trying to blockage the vacuum cord away from Kai.
And as I write this, Kai who was sitting right by Zeke in the above picture, has now turned the corner and is heading down the hall.  Me thinks that this weekend's plans may include the installation of a baby gate.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

No Fuss Seasonal Decor

Looking for an easy way to save your kids' artwork that doesn't involve shoving them in a box somewhere, never to be looked at again, until your child is an adult and you finally make them get their junk out of your house? 

 Here's one way that purposefully upcycles artwork into something more polished.  First, pick one spot in your house where you will consistently display the artwork.  I set aside this shelf in our entryway just for seasonal decor.  I also used a shelf because it's easier to accomodate frames of various sizes.  You don't have to worry about nail holes or if the nail is too high or too low.  Next, select a few frames that are dedicated for this purpose.  My favorite ones are some 12 x 12 scrapbook frames from Michael's.  They are meant to hold decorated scrapbook pages, so they will hold artwork that is three dimensional.  I can also place multiple pages in them, rotating the pages as the seasons change.  Last, pick the artwork you want to use.  I have stuck with mostly handprint pictures since my kids have made quite a few of these for the holidays.   Don't be afraid to do a little modifying to the pages.  My older two made handprint turkeys in preschool, 2 on a page for a total of 4.  But they were a bit wonky looking, off center, and just didn't fit into a frame very well.  So I trimmed off the excess and fashioned each handprint into a 3 x 5 rectangle.  Then I glued each handprint to a piece of scrapbook paper, so that each handprint looked matted.  The handprint art in the photos below also benefited from a bit of scrapbook paper embellishment.  I really didn't spend a lot of time on it; just enough to make the handprint art fill my frame.  (And in the case of the flowers, I used it to create a grass/sky type background.)  Over the years, we've collected quite an assortment of various seasonal pieces.  Turkeys for Thanksgiving, reindeer for Christmas, snowmen for winter, a torn paper heart for Valentine's, a flower and butterfly for spring, and an autumn tree for fall.  I always add a few extra seasonal accents and it has turned into a quick way to change out our entry way for the holidays as well as an easy way to showcase the things my kids have made.

What our entryway looks like this week
(At least until yesterday, when I shut the front door too hard and one of the pictures fell off and the glass broke.

My red stools-I actually have a collection of red stools which is probably odd.  The middle one was my Granny's, one the kids almost always sat on at her house.  I found these two (plus another one that's in our living room) at an auction for a couple dollars a piece.

The rake and hoe are children's garden tools with wooden handles and metal (ie definitely poke your eye out) ends.  They were my mother in law's.  They are definitely cute but potential weapons, so the shelf is the best place for them.