Sunday, December 31, 2006

Looking back, looking ahead

The last moments of 20o6 are ticking off, seemingly faster and faster today.

What an intense year this has been. Highs, lows, and everything in between. Our pregnancy, getting married, the birth of Brandon, getting a new car, reinventing ourselves throughout the year with everything from new pots and pans to a new fishtank, learning how to become parents, getting through Brandon's first (and hopefully biggest) hurdle with flying colours, to great memories with our families and friends. Then there were the times that you chaulk up to experience, the times the car broke down, how I counted down the last few days at work and wondered how I would make it through, learning how to breastfeed and persevering through the challenges, loss of a family member early in the year, creative financing and worrying about money, painting and then having to put everything back together again, getting a new kitchen floor, a new computer... damn, it seems like we spent a shitload of money this year! I look around though, and it was worth it. Besides, who can take it with them?

Last night was great - we had a houseful of dear friends and hung around talked and told stories. It was great to just shake off the last vestiges of the last few weeks and hang. Gilly is in town, and as I have said so many times this year especially, there is nothing like when you get to chill with your g'friends and just chat. It doesn't have to be about anything in particular, just to be together.

That is something else I have relearned this year. The value of girlfiends. For wisdom regarding childbirth and child rearing, for tidbits about life, for a shoulder to cry and laugh on, another complement to our life together. Even though the greater proportion of my dearest girlfriends don't live on the coast, I value our contact through email and the phone and when we get to gether in person, it is just magic.

It has been a good year for Ken and I - I wouldn't say that marriage has changed us, but what time is doing is making us more of partners. Besides all the lovey-dovey gushie stuff, I know he has my back and I have his, and now having a child together, as crazy as it is that we have a child, it feels like we have always been a unit and the next adventures seem a little cooler because we have this new set of eyes that we can see things through.

Between waxing poetic I am also waxing a bit sentimental too.

Even so, it doesn't feel lke it should be New Years. That tonight is the "big night"(I always preferred St. Paddy's Day) and tomorrow is the 1st, a brand new year and who knows what lies ahead for us. When the chips are down, we have weathered the rocky bits and pulled out farther ahead.

Here is a mighty toast from us to all y'all. May there be a good wind at your back, and a smile on your face.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day Buzz

All things considered, I didn't gorge myself on turkey this year. Ken and I fall in to that category of folks who probably didn't gain any weight over the holidays. I think we have been lucky to snag 2 square meals a day for the last week.

Has it really only been a week since everything became total chaos in our household? WOW. Brandon is doing well - everything is healing, and he seems to be handling it all. Gettings our feeds in, I am watching him like a hawk, and making sure he gets all his naps. So far so good!

Christmas was good. Spent the first part of the morning together, then visited with my folks, then to Ken's side. We were surrounded by love, got a little spoiled, I was wound up with worry about wearing Brandon down with all the excitement, and in the end, everything worked out well and we called it an early night. This has been the strangest Christmas. I think I found a bit of the spirit, and definitely feel grateful for what we have, but when you get the wind knocked out of your sails but good it takes a bit to get your bearings again.

Of course there were sales galore today, and for the first time ever I made it to a Boxing Day sale and we managed to put a mighty big scorch streak on the ol' vi$a for some retail therapy. Nothing like going out and knowing you are probably going to come home with something big. Just because.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

remind me...

Remind me not to start googling shit at 2 am.

It comes to no good when you start to google information when you are tired and vulnerable. Way to easy to get caught up in an evil "what if" quagmire that means it will take many more minutes or hours to fall asleep because your brain doesn't want to turn off.

Of course, now in the light of day, with my smiling son, what they hell was I so worried about but a few hours ago?

Our tree is up, and soon we shall decorate!

Putting Life in Perspective

I am currently in the process of rediscovering my Christmas Spirit.

It officially went on a hiatus, pretty much starting about 12:15 on Monday afternoon with our follw up visit to our Pediatrician. Right now I will say everyone is ok - we had a rough spell, but we are getting through it and are better than ever.

This week has put so many things in focus for me, for my family, for the people that touch our loves. You know who you are! Hell, you are here, reading these words. This will be a loooonnnggg post. It will be long because I have a lot to say about what has happened in the last week. Yes, I know this is a dramatic build up, but it can't be helped because I am trying to figure out my own way through this and being able to stream out consciousness here is a form of processing.

Our doctor, and then our pediatrician have been concerned about Brandon's head growth (circumference) over the last several weeks. His head was growing at an exponential rate (off of the growth charts for his age and his percentile), so we were sent to Children's Hospital on Tuesday for an ultrasound. The US showed that Brandon has enlarged ventricles in the brain (the part that carries the cerebral/spinal fluid) which was creating pressure on his brain and since the bones hadn't fused yet, allowing his head to expand quickly to make room. After the US we were scheduled for an MRI at Children's on Wednesday morning at 9:30am and then set up to meet with the Neurosurgeons about possible treatment if indeed there were any blockages causing the buildup or if it was hydrocephalus.

It turns out that Brandon was indeed diagnosed with hydrocephalus and was put on the wait list to get in for surgery ASAP. We do not know what caused this, it could have been viral or one of many other causes. What I do know is that we caught it really early and there was no brain damage which has been confirmed by how Brandon was behaving and hitting milestones prior to this diagnosis, and now, a few days after, how he hasn't changed and is still interacting and behaving as before. What happens to manage hydrocephalus and the abnormal CSF build up is to install a shunt in to one of the ventricles in the brain and a tube is placed down through the body in to the belly cavity to have the excess fluid drain in to and be absorbed by the body.

We had to wait to get a room, which was surreal. We took turns making a few phone calls, going to the bathroom, watching Brandon, and just alternating between feel numb, shellshocked, scared shitless, dumbfounded, unbelieving, questioning, back to being scared shitless, and just coping. It made me so glad I had Ken with me and none of us had to walk this path alone. Once we got a room (about 3:30) then we had to wait for surgery. Our neurosurgeon figured we would get in about 8pm but since there was a degree of uncertainty about it, we couldn't feed Brandon, so the poor guy hadn't eaten since 6:30 am since he had to be sedated for the MRI. He is a total trooper and all in all was pretty awesome all things considered. It was Ken and I that seemed to take turns being the strong one while the other had a few moments where we crumpled from the incredulity of it all. Family came by to be with us during visiting hours (until 8pm) and I know I was a complete Momma Bear, it was really hard to let him go to anyone, I just wanted to hold him tight and protect him from everything and knew that I couldn't help him with what was going to happen beyond being there and giving whatever comforts my body and heart could give. That was the hardest part for Ken and I, the limitations of what we could do. Amazing how much love you can possess in your heart for your own.

We went in for surgery about 9:30, and come out after 11pm. This was time that dragged on and on. We went for a walk in the rain, and the coldness helped. We made a few more phone calls, pretty much to our parents just to connect to them and keep them in the loop. Then it was more hurry up and wait. This was worse than waiting for Brandon to come out of the sedation for the MRI I was so scared at what changes there could be after this surgery. So many unknowns. Brandon's recovery was ok - he was over tired and really hungry so it took a while to calm him down once he was awake. Truth be told, it was terrifying with all the machines going ping, and the tubes, and Brandon crying so hard it was hard to calm him down. I ended up getting wheeled in the stretcher with him back to our room. When the chips are down, I was relieved to hear his cries and see how lusty and strong he was.

This is a pretty routine procedure and the doc was happy with how things went. The surgery itself only took 40 minutes - WTF? I have had root canals take longer than this!!! I say routine because it apparently happens in 1 out of every 500 births, so this is not a rare condition (rare to us!!). There are over 180 causes of hydrocephalus, and since we caught it so early, Brandon will live a normal life so we have been assured many times.

I was able to stay the night with him on Wednesday while Ken had to go home (hospital only allows one parent to stay). It has been really tough, and there were a few scary moments Wednesday night because we had to wake Brandon up every hour and check his vital stats for 6 hours. I didn't sleep much, but I was so grateful we didn't end up having to share the room and I could sleep with Brandon in the hospital bed. It took several hours for the anaesthetic to wear off, and in the morning, he had a really good crying jaunt that got all the machines going, me going, had the nurse in, freaked me out so bad my legs were weak. Thankfully Ken arrived shortly thereafter on Thursday morning. The doc wanted to check in on us at the end of the day, and would make the decision whether or not to discharge us at that point.

The shunt is for life, but it will not impact the quality or duration of his life. He can still play sports, and it won't affect his mental abilities. We were dischared on Thursday night to come home. It felt so strange how significantly our lives had changed over the last 4 days. Was it only 4 days? The nurses and doctors were amazing, and in a time where you hear a lot of negatives about our health care, we couldn't have asked for a speedier series of events, and we felt confident that we got the best of what we needed and will receive great follow up.

He is just like before - smiling, sleeping, eating, interacting as he always has, clutching objects, recognizing people, and being himself much to our relief. The bandages covering the incisions will come off tomorrow, and on Christmas we are just going to take our visiting a little slower and more low key. This could be more for us because we haven't really slept like normal this week. Everything happened really fast and our care has been amazing. For such craziness, things are evening out and I am slowly getting less uptight about everything. There are times in the last few days I was/am so aware that I have been walking an emotional tightrope and I have been really trying not to be a wanker at times because I am so wound up. It is hard to relax, you half feel like you are in a fog of unreality because life does move on, and you move in to acceptance, and you do what you have to do, and get'er done.

So all in all we caught this really quickly, the staff at Children's was awesome, we are both shaken but well, and Brandon is already on the road to recovery.

It has been mind blowing because the process more or less started with our PED appointment on Monday, and his call to neurosurgeons here to get the ball rolling. Our pediatrician was on the phone to Chrildren's while we were actually in the original US and had a call in to the neurosurgeon so he knew what to expect and to make sure there was as little hurry up and wait as possible, nothing short of a miracle this time of the year! We are very grateful for how caring our doctors have been to get this dealt with before any of us could even breath and fully come to terms with it. Almost a good thing so we didn't have to worry about it for weeks on end and who knows what impact it would have had.

Our amazing guy - Thursday night when we got home. The pinkish-purple tint on his head is the antibacterial wash that they apply to the area where they have to make incisions. Brandon has one incision site on the left side of his head where the shunt was placed, and then a small incision to the left of his belly button where the brought the drainage tube through. Both are healing really well and the bandages will come off later on today.

Ken considers this the "does that bandage make my head look big?" picture... as you can see, not even a day out of surgery and we got smiles.

Friday is a blur. Saturday was not so much of a blur, more moments that brought more tears to our eyes because Brandon was just Brandon - full of smiles, and laughs, and cranky moments when he needed to sleep, and full of beans like any boy his age.

For us, this year, our Christmas was put in to perspective. We have a healthy family and our son is recovering. We caught what was wrong with him really quickly and these events are already moving in to the past and we are preparing for the future, as crazy and unknown it continues to be. We are surrounded by love, and that was reinforced by our family and friends reaching out to us and keeping us afloat even if it was just with words, prayers, positive thoughts, hugs, and just old fashioned love, whether in person, phone calls, emails, messages, whatever. That is what it is all about. The rest is just a bonus.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The sky is falling!

Before I launch in to my tirade for the day, I must say that our cats are affection whores. This is putting it politely. Between me being up relatively early, and perhaps the unsettled weather, both of the cats have been my perpetual shadow this morning. The kitty lovin' is kind of sweet, but one cat is draped across my arms, and the other cat is hovering. It also borders on downright irritating as the claws flex and go for skin, and when what I really want to do is enjoy a moment of relative calm solo, solo in the sense that the cats or zee wee man isn't demanding something from me. I just moved a bit, and I got the look of death from the Ripper. Screwing with his zen am I? Ah, the trials and tribulations of being so popular eh? LOL

I can't remember ever having as many back to back weather warnings as we have had in the last few weeks. First it was the rain. Then the wind and rain. Then the snow. Then the big freeze. Followed by the big melt. Now, rain, and more rain, and the winds, and a little more wind, and then back to a chance of snow tomorrow!

It has been cool being off to actually watch the flucuations in the weather. After spending the last several years in a workplace with no windows or natural light, it has been kind of novel to watch the world go by and change through the seasons.

I digress.

See, we have a cedar tree in the backyard that has been looking a little sickly. I can't remember who I made the comment too, but in the last windstorm I had remarked about how the cedar tree trunk was moving significantly in the wind and that I wasn't going to let Brandon play near the windows.

Funny how you can get an inkling of things to come. Or perhaps it is just being able to look back with 20-20 glasses. This morning we awoke to no power and a call from my bro who needed a number for that company that helps stranded motorists. Ironically enough, my dad was making a Timmy Ho's run so we scored coffee and breakie. Wandering around the outside of the house, I had to move to avoid scattered branches, and pick up my jaw when I saw the broken off cedar tree, pitched in to the neighbor's yard! We got lucky, it didn't break anything, but the living part of the tree was what went down (it was a cedar nurse tree that had 3 seperate trees coming off the main trunk) and the dead strands still stand?!!!

Obviously we have power again, but it always strikes me as somewhat funny (for lack of a better word) about how different our inside worlds feel when the power is out, the candles are lite, and you get to wander around carrying a flashlight. The same, but different.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Because it is late... or early?

Well, knocked off a few things off the old list today.

Also dropped a mitt load at the grocery store today. OMFG it adds up quick. All stuff we need, and I can't believe how much cheaper it is to buy in bulk. Whether it is for your emergency stash of chocolate chips to diapers. You have to buy in quantity to actually get a deal. Or use coupons. I am the coupon queen at this stage. I saved $50 off of our bill tonight!!! It is amazing how buying in larger quantities makes such a difference for meat, cleaning supplies, TP, and kids stuff. If you just go and buy packs of diapers you are almost paying 40 cents each... if you get the box, it brings it down to about 27 cents. You really have to be good at math or be willing to shell out a little extra or do a "big shop" to really see some savings. This is where my past history working as a cashier comes in handy. Funny how it shows up in weird dreams, organizing my money, having a coupon envelope, and searching out deals.

It is like shopping at some stores.. why bother paying full price when you know it will go on sale, or a coupon will get mailed to you? Who I am kidding, I like deals. Collecting points. Seeing some kind of savings.

I am feeling a lot less scattered, the last few weeks have continued to go by too quickly. Getting stuff done is being a bit undermined by the fact that I am having a few issues getting to sleep at a decent time. After finishing my latest pocketbook, I laid there in bed staring at the ceiling. After a half an hour of letting my drift no where fast, I decided it was time to surf.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Damn fast

Today didn't feel like a monday by any stretch of the word.

Brandon and I didn't crawl out of bed until nearly 11 o'clock!!! SCORE! I can't remember the last time I was lounging in bed for that long. I guess we both needed the sleep from the weekend? Of course, it didn't help that I didn't fall asleep until 2am, but the extra sleep was great :] it sure does make the day go really quickly though.

I really did go on a laundry strike in the last week. Or perhaps just with Brandon's stuff for some strange reason. There were two full loads of babystuff. WTF?! I guess I have been putting off washing his clothes to make sure I use all those sleepers in the drawer, and try out some different outfits rather than just the tried and true. I had him in awesome colorful pants and a red shirt yesterday and it was fun to see him like that. They were his happy pants for the day.

I got a total suprise visit tonight! Nej and the boys are in town!!! So a certain favourite person of mine came by for some baby-luvin! I never understood that until now that I have my own. One of my other friend's always thought it was funny that I wouldn't notice cute babies, they didn't even blip on my radar... well... that was another thing that changed with childbirth! I notice kids. Hell, the other day at the rink there were kids EVERYWHERE!! Strange phenom. Our visit zoomed by and we had some great laughs. Amazing to pick up where you left off from, even better when the leaving off was the last email I sent her this morning!

So, no tree up yet, but the lights did go up. It is strange getting used to the LED lights... not bad, not OMG these are the best things since sliced bread, just different. I am mulling over my baking list, and the shopping list is taking shape. It seems to come just so damn fast though. I am excited to see everyone, and the food, and the good times, and watching the whole experience through a new set of eyes.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Hockey and my Man

Puck = One, Husband = One great save

The picture describes life as a goalie. You win some, you lose some, you wear the marks of some. Of course, this little dandy occured hours after I made a comment about Ken's leg pads and learned that they actually make specialty pants just for goalies. The bruise has been many colours, and now the red flush is deepening a little, and other areas are starting to lighten up.

As well, Ken played in a tres cool charity game this afternoon. They had the mayor come out on a red carpet, the zamboni did an extra ice clear, and there was even music played in between stoppages of play. It was a great afternoon and was about giving a little something back to the community with the food bank and xmas bureau. Fairly well attended and Brandon did well until he decided enough was enough and I took him for a walk around the rink until he dropped off. It was a tight game until our team pulled away with 2 quick goals in the last minute of play to make for an interesting re-match next year!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

the 6th?

So much for getting Christmas cards out early! I will aim to get them out in a week... perhaps! I think that when you have a baby, everything is good intentions with an unknown outcome on what you do, can do, or when it will get done. I am getting better about letting go and feeling confident that things will get done in their own time and I don't have to push so hard to get them done on a manic-panic time line.

I also think I am shedding. My hair is everywhere. I know I have long hair, and can be a bit paranoid about it, but I am leaving hair everywhere. I half wonder if this is an effect of the retreat of pregnancy hormones. I know this falls under TMI but I could clean out my hairbrush daily and when I run my hands through my ponytail I am always losing a few. Doesn't seem fair. I guess I should finally break and get a haircut, seeing as it has been since before the wedding!! Now that is a true measure of how fast the time is going!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

A Ramble for Today.

Well, I am figuring out this new version of Bl0gger, and at times we have gotten on well, and at other times, not so good. It is good for the ol' learning curve though and I am all about those curves!

Lots has happened in the last week, and at times it is hard to stay on top of it all because life keeps on marching forward. It has also been great because I have had the chance to catch up with most of my closest girlfriends so much so that my long distance bill is a bit scorched, and I think my cheeks hurt from talking so much! Ah the price to pay for heart warming conversations. Distance really doesn't matter, or the frequency that you actually get to see each other in person. Friendship is a state that exists in the heart and knows no bounds.

I have been learning about the "momma bear" element that I now possess. Well, perhaps I always had it because I look out for what I consider my own and it is natural to reach out and help even if it is only an ear when I can or am needed. Now that "momma bear" element is a little more focused that I have my own family.

It has also been reaffirmed for me that ultimatums don't work. Through our network of friends I have seen one couple make the next step after ten years of being together and another couple shatter because the battle lines were drawn in the sand and it was do or die in terms of taking the next step. It is a funny thing about our culture that once a couple has been together a certain amount of time, expectations start to rise exponentially. Especially when the two people aren't kids anymore (read in your early 20s). Those expectations of taking the next step are more so exposed by friends and family who are looking for a good excuse to celebrate, and occaisonally by one half of the overall equation. Most of us have been there where we have had to contemplate this, and in my own relationship, I feel that having this label or that label isn't what counts and shouldn't make a difference because in your heart of hearts, you know what you have together and shouldn't need the external validation to prove that. Of course, it is nice when you cross that line and take that next step (if it is natural and on both of your terms where a choice and a decision has been made not an ultimatum delivered) and make a public commitment but I feel it should be a natural progression of your relationship and not something that you had to do to make someone momentarily happy. Soon we will have been married a whole year and I can say that this year has been like the rest - we are partners, throwing our hats in together and what we have done is publicly affirmed that in our way and things continue to improve because we have more shared experiences, a life together, our son, and so much more of a collective history and our steps follow a parallel path of togetherness.

No one likes being backed in to a corner. At the end of the day, there are no winners. It is also why I like the barter system - both parties have the opportunity to walk away happy with something in the "hand".

Yup. I am going on a big ramble here, and talking around the bush a bit, but it is my way of just throwing a few of my own philosophies out there, as wacked out as they are or convoluted at times (my disclaimer since I know every one has their own stance on this one). Who knows if I make sense, but somewhere in here this makes sense to me!