Sunday, December 9, 2012

Busy Bees

I know it has almost been a month since I made post.  Things have been busy around here.  For Thanksgiving Uncle Sean and Aunt Heidi came from Chicago.  We had a great time with them hanging out and doing our thing. 

The following weekend Grammy came to stay.  That Friday evening (Nov. 30th) we had a "Thank You Pizza Party" for all of our nurses.  November was officially our last month of nursing and we are missing our nurses already.  It's so weird having these individuals in your home for a year and a half and then just going back to our family.  It was an adjustment getting used to having nurses IN our home and now it's an adjustment having nurses OUT of our home!  We miss them and plan on staying in touch.  With that said, we have a fabulous nanny who had been watching the girls along with one of our nurses and is now taking over a couple days a week.  We couldn't ask for any better!

That weekend we also took Ava and Reese to see Santa.  As you can tell from the pictures they weren't too fond of the big hairy fella.  They didn't mind him from the comforts of mommy and daddy's arms but once we sent the girls down on Santa's lap...flood gates opened!  They much preferred the carousel and coloring station. 

Last week the girls went to the doctor's office to get their synegis shots for RSV.  Much to our surprise they both had ear infections that the doctor informed us about!  Ava had been a little cranky a couple days prior and they had not been sleeping as well but neither girls tugged on their ears or seemed to be in pain.  After just a few doses of their ten-day supply of antibiotics, they were pretty happy and sleeping great.  Thank goodness for meds!

Other than that we are just loving the girls and their fun stage of toddler-hood.  They are learning more and more words every day and personalities are revealing themselves more and more.  Reese is testing limits loud and clear while Ava is the quiet sneaky one.  As you can tell from the picture, we are also getting hair long enough for pig tails!  Giving hugs and kisses is popular around here too!

Friday, November 16, 2012

One Year Ago...

One year ago from today I lost my dad, and Ava and Reese lost their Peepaw. It's so hard knowing that my dad won't be here on Earth to see his granddaughters grow up but I constantly remind myself that he has a front row seat from the everlasting paradise called heaven. Even worse than my dad not getting to see the girls grow up, I hate the thought of Ava and Reese not remembering Peepaw. We will be sure to tell them stories about their loving grandpa, his infectious laugh, huge hands, and warm heart. Although they won't remember him, it will be my goal to help them understand what a wonderful man he was and how much he loves them whether here on Earth or waiting for us in heaven. The pictures we have around the house will help them know who this loving man is until we all get to be with him again.

How far we have come in a year.  Almost a year ago these pictures were taken and Ava wasn't sitting up on her own yet, was still on the ventilator, and Reese had just started sitting up. 

November 13, 2011

November 13, 2011

November 13, 2011
Now we are working on using our forks!

Thank you to each and every person who thought of our family today.  The prayers, supportive words, calls, emails, and texts mean the world.  God has provided me with such wonderful friends and family to help get through the ups and downs of life.  I am truly blessed.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Milk and Cookies Anyone?

These two are milk and cookies that you will want to just gobble up!  I know we are a little biased but they were pretty cute in their milk and cookies Halloween costumes.  Our Halloween was spent with some friends' house doing a neighborhood give-away for our church.  It was fun being with friends and was pretty decent weather for the end of October. 

(P.S. Someone should have been videotaping me trying to get Ava and Reese to stand together on the front porch for a picture.  Zack had to teach night class so it was quite the challenge as you can tell from the pics!)

That afternoon we also had our last vent clinic appointment at Children's Mercy.  Since Ava left the NICU at Children's Mercy with a ventilator and trach, her acting pediatrician was the vent clinic with a few different doctors who specialize in circumstances like Ava's.  Now that Ava has no ventilator requirements or trach, we are moving on to our regular pediatrician who Reese sees.  It's a bitter sweet "break up."  Definitely a sign that things are going wonderfully with Ava but hard to part with the doctors and nurses who have seen Ava (and momma and dada) regularly for the last year and a half.  They have been so wonderful, supportive, and knowledgeable through all of this and we can't be more thankful for their team.  It was reassuring to hear that there have been families of kiddos who haven't been to the vent clinic in over a year who still call in to ask questions or get advice!

Other than that the girls have been busy "clipping coupons" for momma, bundling up in their snowsuits for walks in the colder weather (size - 12 months...thankfully they still fit!), and raiding the pantry.  I turn my back for two minutes while putting away groceries and Ava already has a mouthful of crackers!  Then she tries to make a run for it when I say we need to put them away.  At least she is willing to share with her sister!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bound to Happen but Moving On

Well we knew it would happen but we didn't expect it so soon.  We got back from Children's Mercy with Ava trach-free last Friday and sure enough sissy (Reese) wakes up Saturday with a runny nose and cough.  So despite trying to avoid Ava from catching it, she did by Monday.  It was pretty mild but anytime Ava shows signs of infection my gut starts churning.  Monday started with a runny nose and by Tuesday the coughing started.  Through the night on Tuesday she was coughing non-stop and was having a difficult time keeping her oxygen saturation at an ideal level.  She wasn't completely "tanking" but she would hang out around 88-92% in general.  So, since we didn't have a trach and had not gotten nasal canulas from our medical supply company yet, we had Ava sleep in her rocker chair and layed oxygen tubing on her chest, blowing towards her mouth and nose as best as possible.  Yes, you can imagine how difficult that was with her coughing, tossing her head back and forth, etc.  However, we were able to help her oxygen saturation improve Tuesday night, she finally fell asleep around 3:30am, and that was the worst of it.

After Tuesday night she slowly started coughing less and her drainage started to end.  As much as I hate when she requires oxygen I have to remind myself that when other kids, or even you and I, have colds they probably don't have ideal oxygen saturation either.  There are plenty of kids who require oxygen when they get sick and things turn out just fine.  I guess we are just so in-tuned with Ava's oxygen saturation that it becomes something to worry or obsess about.  In fact, on Wednesday our medical supply company came to pick up some of our equipment like our ventilator, suction machine, and other extra supplies, and I was thankful that the pulse-ox machine (the monitor that measures Ava's oxygen saturation and heart rate) wasn't going anywhere.  It's like a security blanket and I may finally feel comfortable giving it up when Ava's 10 years old! 

Now that we are past that, things are great.  We are enjoying not having to do trach cares but are still having to be extra careful during baths with Ava's trach site still being open.  We are just keeping a band-aid over it for the most part and it seems to be getting smaller but not closing.  We go back to the vent clinic next week and then back to see our ENT doctor the first week in November to have her evaluate the trach site.  Below are some fun things we've been up to.  Yesterday (Saturday) was beautiful and we had quite a busy day with the KC Pumpkin Patch with our buddy Nolan, our friend Riley's first birthday party, and dinner/Peachwave with our former night nurse Megan and her hubby.  And speaking of nurses...for those of you who are curious, our nursing will continue through November and then starting in December we will officially have a nurse-free home.  It will be extremely weird because our nurses have become like family.  The thought of having nurses in our home when we were planning Ava's move home from the NICU seemed so crazy.  Now, it's a way of life and one that will be bitter-sweet to move away from.  However, we will never forget the awesome care every nurse has given Ava (and Reese at times!) and will definitely stay connected with them.  Over-qualified babysitters is a wonderful bonus too!!!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Thank YOU for another landmark on Memory Lane

If you want me to cut to the chase, Ava came home today trach-free!  If you're someone who wants the whole goes.

We checked in at Children's Mercy yesterday(Thursday) at noon.  After a short wait we were taken back into a pre-surgery room to get vitals, get Ava changed into a gown, etc.  We waited after this for about an hour and a half in order to consult with the anesthesiologist and the ENT doctor who was doing Ava's bronchoscopy and decanulation.  The anesthesiologist came first and after a short visit we waited a while longer for our ENT doctor.  She came around 2:30pm and after discussing the plan we were ushered back to "Reunion Avenue" where we gave Ava hugs and kisses before she was taken back to the operating room. 

It was probably just 10 minutes later when we were called to consult with the ENT doctor who had already completed the bronchoscopy (scope down the airway).  She was very pleased with what she saw and didn't have to remove any granulation tissue.  We now just waited for Ava to come out of the anesthetic.  Less than 20 minutes later they asked one of us to come to the post-op recovery area to console Ava who was pretty grumpy coming out of the anesthetic.  So I went back and felt like I was wrestling an alligator for a while until they could get us a room on a regular floor in the hospital for our overnight stay.  Ava required oxygen at this time in order to keep her oxygen saturation at 95 or above.  The rest of the afternoon and evening she was moody on and off.  Our ENT doctor was going to come by later in the evening to remove her trach and allow her to spend the night without it. 

A little after 6:00pm our doctor came and Zack was able to remove Ava's trach while she was asleep in my arms.  After some labored breathing and some repositioning, Ava was breathing comfortably and just needed a little oxygen "blow-by."  (Oxygen blown in the area she was breathing.)  Not long after that Ava was not needing oxygen and slept a little while longer before being awake for a couple hours to cuddle with mommy and daddy. 

Throughout the night Ava slept well and maintained her oxygen saturation around 94-98% without any oxygen support.  Her site where the trach tube used to be was left open without any bandage and the hole reduced some in size.  This morning she was able to finally eat food and drink her milk, after only getting water (and IV fluids) for almost 30 hours.  We were discharge to go home around 11am and Ava has been doing great at home.  With a little band-aid over her trach site, she is back to playing with her sister in the comfort of her own home.  We will go back to see the ENT doctor in 3-4 weeks and we will learn what the next steps are for Ava's site.  Typically if a trach is in place for over a year there is only about a 5% chance it will close the whole way on its own.  If Ava's does not close it will need to be sutured shut and down the road will most likely need a little plastic surgery to minimize the visibility of the scar. 

With all of that said, first and foremost we are so thankful for God's hand in all of this.  He has guided us through, every step of the way and will continue to be with us through the journey of parenthood.  And from there the thank-yous are endless.  Our parents have been amazing...supporting us, being there for us physically and emotionally, and being tremendous models for us as parents.  Our friends (near and far), neighbors, church family, strangers, all of the individuals at Overland Park Regional and Children's Mercy from the doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, receptionists, respiratory therapist, and on and on and on.  We can truly say we couldn't have gotten through this chapter in our lives without EVERYONE.  So if you are reading this, that means you.  And if you are reading this and know of someone who we have come into contact with over the last twenty-two months...forward this blog to them.  We know that there are still "epilogues" to this chapter and there will then be many more chapters to come but at this point in Ava's recovery and overcoming the experience of having a trach, we can't be more thankful. 

Swinging before heading to Children's Mercy.

Quick cat-nap before checking in.

Trying to pass time while we wait for the doctor.

The blinds helped pass a little time too.

Daddy getting to remove her trach for the last time.

Watching Ava's response to being trach-free.!

Can't get enough Cheerios!!!

Let's blow this popsicle stand...and leave that old trach behind!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Memory Lane

At a time like this I constantly find myself going down "memory lane."  Today is the day Ava is scheduled to have a bronchoscopy and possible decanulation at Children's Mercy.  Our check in time is noon and the actual procedure will most likely happen around 1:30 or 2:00pm.  We are comfortable with whatever plan God has and know that if Ava is experiencing her last hours with a trach it will truly be one of those special landmarks on memory lane. 

Enjoy a few of the other special landmarks on my "memory lane" below and I will keep you all posted on how today goes as soon as possible.

December 20, 2010...Ava and Reese come into this world.


March 22, 2011...Ava is taken to Children's Mercy from Overland Park Regional for a tracheostomy.
All packed up in the travel isolette.

March 24, 2011...Ava has her trach placed and is the most critical state of her life.

April 23, 2011...Reese comes home after spending 4 months at Overland Park Regional.

May 15, 2011...Reese visits Ava at Children's Mercy and they get to lay next to each other for the first time since in the womb. (First family photo!)

June 28, 2011...Ava comes home after spending 3 months at Overland Park Regional and 3 months at Children's Mercy.

Since this blog begins when both girls are officially out of the NICU I will let you browse the blog for other landmark events.  One thing I always want to remember is to cherish all the small things in life as well as the big.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

On the Calendar

I'm just now getting a minute to write an update but we officially have a date for Ava's bronchoscopy and possible decanulation.  We got a call from the ENT clinic at Children's Mercy on Monday letting us know that we needed to go for "Pre-Admission Testing" on Wednesday (yesterday) and that her procedure would be next Thursday, October 11th.  Not exactly the advanced notice we were hoping for but needless to say we are really happy to have it on the calendar.  So yesterday we went to sign paperwork, have Ava checked out, answer a bunch of health history questions, etc....A process that is required before scheduled procedures/surgeries with anesthetic.  Things went fine and now we are trying to be patient, washing hands more, praying, and trying to imagine what life will be like without a trach.  The last 22 months (roughly) have been wonderful even with all the ups and downs with Ava and Reese and now assuming it is in God's plan, our family will experience a major "up"!  Please pray for Ava to remain healthy and for her procedure to go as planned uneventfully.  Thank you all so much!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Loving Fall

Yesterday we went to the Cider Fest at the Loiusburg Cider Mill.  The girls stayed in the stroller most of the time for multiple reasons...they're tough to keep up, less likely to come in contact with people touching (NO germs please!), etc.  However, when we let them out for a short amount of time they had a blast touching every pumpkin they could get their hands on.  They also enjoyed the fresh cider donuts!  And don't forget the pumpkins we got to bring home!  The beautiful weather made it a great way to spend a fall day!