i am raising a ninja


We moved Austin into a big boy bed almost a year ago in preparation for Everett’s arrival. It was a difficult transition, but he adapted. Since then, we had been using a baby gate to keep Austin from roaming at night.

About three weeks ago, we ditched the gate. And, I miss it.

Of course I worry about him tumbling down the stairs in the middle of the night. But, he has mastered the stairs, and, to some extent, I have let go of that concern. And, I worry about the mischief he could potentially accomplish in the dead of the night. But, honestly, what makes me miss that gate the most is my own fear factor.

Walking into a room after the children have gone to bed only to find a small person standing, silently staring at you is creepy. Beyond creepy. It has actually caused me to literally jump. He has become quite stealthy at sneaking out of bed. Sometimes it is to play, and other times, well, I can’t figure out why. Occasionally, he will watch us from the catwalk, unknowing that he is there until I glance up, fall to the ground out of sheer surprise and nearly have a heart attack.

I admit that I have seen far too many horror movies. Growing up, my best friend LOVED scary movies. Adored them. I hated them. But, guess what? We watched them – over and over and over again. I’m quite certain that any horror movie made before 1999, I have seen… against my will. Since then, I can count the number of those movies I’ve seen on one hand… okay, maybe two fingers. Those story lines are engrained in my brain. I can barely watch CSI without having nightmares.

In fact, several weeks ago, the hubs was out of town on business, and I was home with the kids. About 10:30 at night, I was lying in bed, when I heard a noise – a LOUD noise – followed shortly by several lighter noises. Obviously, someone was in my house. There could be no other option. So, what did I do? I called my neighbor… who came over with a bat. And, we proceeded to search my house, room by room, opening closets, looking under beds and behind the curtains for the bogie man. Surprise, surprise, nothing turned up. But, I was able to sleep much better after that. Too many scary movies…

So, obviously, I am a little jumpy. But, I mean seriously, who wouldn’t be that way if they came face to face with the spitting image of a ghost child, who appeared out of nowhere, wanting to know if you will play with them?

It’s hard for me to understand how such a little person who doesn’t understand the concept of “inside voice” and constantly crashes into everything during day light hours could sneak around so ninja-like in the darkness of night. While I appreciate him not waking his little brother by running around like a wild man, it would be nice to have a little head’s up.

In fact, maybe I’ll just attach jingle bells to all of his pajamas. Problem solved.

maybe you should’ve counted a few more sheep

naptime blog

I have a love, hate relationship with nap time at our house. In fact, some days I just can’t muster the courage to even try to put my children down. As nap time approaches, I do a quick poll in my head – Is it worth it today? Or, can we try to survive until bedtime?

Now, let me explain. I LOVE naps. It is a beautiful thing when the stars align and both of my children go down easy and sleep like sweet cherubs. I adore those days. And, really, the drifting off to sleep is not what sends me into near panic attacks. It’s the wake up.

The wake up that makes me want to hide under my own covers. The wake up that immediately makes me regret nap time. The wake up that is the reason I practically toss the children at the hubs when 5 o’clock hits.

I loathe the wake up. Imagine a mother grizzly bear. You have just trapped her, and then decide to steal her cub away. But, you don’t stop there. You then proceed to sit just out of her reach and taunt her, while arbitrarily throwing acorns at her head. Now, bottle all of that anger and rage.

Austin’s fury at wake up time is the equivalent of that mother grizzly bear.


He cries and screams and just when you think he’s done, you glance in his direction, and it begins all over again. Usually, this goes on for about an hour. Bribery begins shortly after the first wail: a cup of water, a cup of animal crackers and cartoons expertly positioned for maximum efficiency. Sometimes it turns the grizzly bear into a mere rabid dog, and other times it only prolongs the outburst when we run out of the beloved animal crackers.

The real fun is when both boys wake up simulataneously. Everett is a dream napper in the mornings. But, there is something about afternoon naps that leaves both my boys a shoe in for leading roles in The Exorcist. Everett completely loses his mind. You know that bottle he doesn’t need for another hour or so? Yeah. He’s decided he’s going to die if he doesn’t have it five minutes ago. Oh, and that diaper, that he just wet .05 seconds ago. Yes, that should have been changed preemptively.

When I hear people gush over how much they love nap time, and how they themselves sneak in a nap too, I dislike them a little bit… okay… a lot. Because even when the children are sleeping, I sit there waiting. Waiting for the explosion that is our afternoon. But, it’s okay. Because at the end of the day, I know there will be chocolate.

i’ve never liked dominoes


Continued from six months of living

When we first learned of the diagnosis, we cried a lot, and asked God, “Why?” After a particularly difficult last couple years, we couldn’t understand why we were not invincible to this pain, or given a free pass complete with a miraculous cure for our child.

At the cardiologist appointment, we had discussed Everett’s weight, and, still, he was not at his birth weight. Knowing what our child had to accomplish in a few months, I immediately stopped nursing and started pumping, needing to know why he wasn’t gaining weight and what he was actually taking in. And, I got my answer – an ounce. Total.

Thus, began the first inkling of a problem. I pumped overtime to build up my supply, in hopes that at some point Everett would take normal bottles. But, it took lots of coaxing and tears for him to finish the single ounce.


And, then the first domino fell. It was late. Austin was in bed, and Everett was extra unhappy this night. We rocked. We walked. We sang. We fed. We swaddled. And, still he screamed. The hubs decided to change his diaper for the hundredth time in hopes he would settle, but, instead he raced to me with a horrified look on his face. He removed Everett’s diaper, and there it was… a hernia… on our three-week-old.

We immediately called the pediatrician who asked us “if we could push it back in.” Uh, push it back in? Negatory, doc. So, off we went to round one at the ER. The doctor confirmed it was a hernia and tried to reduce it – aka shove it back in – with no luck. At this point, he made a phone call to discuss surgery options at its downtown hospital. We waited… impatiently… for a decision. Finally, the doctor returned and decided to try again, motivated by teasing from fellow colleagues who couldn’t believe this doctor couldn’t reduce a hernia on a three-week-old. That’s the kind of care a parent can only hope for, right? He was successful this time and sent us off with information to set up a consultation with a surgeon.

The next morning, Friday, a consultation was scheduled for the following Wednesday. Between a screaming baby and having to reduce the hernia every hour or more, this seemed a lifetime away. That night, things were bad. Every 15 minutes, we had to reduce it, and Everett was inconsolable. Feeling helpless, we headed back to the ER, except this time we went to the downtown hospital where we knew they could do surgery if needed.

We waited and waited, terrified of what horribly contagious diseases our heart baby could pick up from the overcrowded ER. When we were finally seen, the doctor brushed us off, unsure of why we were there. Apparently, if you can reduce a hernia – no matter how often it pops back out or how much your child screams about it – then there is no rush. And, Wednesday was soon enough, he told us. Right…

That weekend was long. Everett cried a lot, and, at this point, began screaming when we tried to feed him and was progressively breathing faster. There we were with our newborn, not knowing how to care for this fragile child, but doing the best we could.

Relief came on Monday when my dad used a connection to get us in with a pediatric surgeon that same afternoon. The surgeon was excellent, and he worked out of a different hospital in town. The hospital we now love. Surgery was scheduled for the following day.

To say we were nervous would be an understatement. Ideally, a hernia repair would follow a heart repair, but it couldn’t wait. Everett’s cardiologist was hopeful his poor eating could be attributed to the hernia, and this could potentially solve our problems. The surgery was a success despite running slightly over his projected time. He was discharged in the morning with several new medications, a diagnosis of reflux, and instructions on how to create high calorie bottles.


Several days passed, and we found ourselves nowhere. The domino effect had truly begun. The hubs had left town on business, and that same evening I placed a call to the cardiologist. Everett’s breathing was irregular, and he still wasn’t eating. We were sent to the ER, where he told us he would most likely be admitted, if for nothing else, to place an NG tube to help pack on the ounces. It was a terrifying experience. I cradled my baby, trying to calm him, and cried in the arms of a friend as they placed the tube and listened to my child’s gut wrenching cry.

After struggling to find an open flight, Philip arrived the following morning off the first flight he was able to book. One day turned into two, and two into three. Everett not only fought feedings, but now began vomiting most of his bottles. The first GI doctor saw him on day two and promptly diagnosed him with a food allergy, and that was that – this is about the time I officially chunked the pump. Still he vomited on the new formula, and nothing changed. The next doctor took a closer look and ordered an upper GI scan. And, that’s what was needed.

Everett was diagnosed with an intestinal malrotation. Another surgery. And, this one was urgent. On day five, at five weeks old, he underwent his second surgery, and, again, we were hopeful this would solve his feeding issues.

We lived day to day, switching between the hospital and spending “quality” time with our other son. If I was with Everett, I missed Austin. If I was with Austin, I missed Everett. We were tired and not getting the response we had hoped for with Everett. He saw an OT every day to work on bottle feeding, but most feedings were administered through the NG tube. By day ten, we were done. It felt like nothing was changing and nobody cared. We knew something was not right, but it was hard to express that when doctors dropped by haphazardly and only stayed two minutes to answer all your questions. And, that’s when I lost it.

I threw a fit. I let it out. Everything that had been bottled up, nodding and agreeing, and trying to remain calm about the hell my son was going through, came out. I wanted to talk to Everett’s doctor. No, not the doctor on call, his doctor. A nurse tried to play interference, and I explained to her that we were done. There was no reason for us to be here because it felt like nobody was doing anything and the doctors were not working together. We had both dropped the NG tube multiple times. We had been trained on the pump. We were sitting and waiting and nothing was happening. We had voiced concerns but they were always written off. So, why are we here, with no comforts of home, trekking back and forth from one child to another? Why are we here if nothing is going to change?

They did get me on the phone with Everett’s doctor, and I cried, and he apologized for the way things were going (p.s. I really do love E’s doctors and they are fantastic). The next day, there was a new plan – something that actually seemed to finally make a difference. He was vomiting less and appeared to be gaining a little weight. On day 14, Everett was discharged with the NG tube… only to return three days later. This time to the Cardiac ICU.


Continued Happy Heart Day