Sunday, March 30, 2014

50 Questions TAG!

I haven't done one of these since the MySpace days so I figured it might be fun. :)

1. Things you cannot leave the house without? Phone, keys, purse
2. Favorite brand of makeup? MAC (I rarely wear makeup though)
3. Favorite flowers? I don't like getting flowers but I guess roses if I have to pick
4. Favorite season? Spring
5. Favorite perfume? Abercrombie
6. Heels or flats? Flats (I love how heels look but I like being comfortable more)
7. Do you make good grades? Yeah, I did when I tried
8. Favorite color? Pink
9. Do you drink energy drinks? Nope
10. Do you drink juice? Sometimes
11. Do you like swimming? Ehh, I guess
12. Do you eat fries with a fork? Only if they are cheese fries
13. Whats your favorite moisturizer? Aveeno
14. Do you want to get married later on in life? I'm already married
15. Do you get mad easily? Usually not but if I'm already in a bad mood then yeah
16. Are you into ghost hunting? I was in high school, not so much now
17. Any phobias? Spiders
18. Do you bite your nails? Yes.. I wish I could stop
19. Have you ever had a near death experience? No
20. Do you drink coffee? Yes, it's very necessary
21. What's a nickname only your family calls you? Lis
22. What's a song you secretly LOVE to blast & belt out when you're alone? Story of my life
23. What's one of your biggest pet peeves? People who don't turn the volume off their keyboard while texting
24. What side of the bed do you sleep on? Whichever side is farthest from the door
25. What was your first pet? A cat
26. What's the drink you ALWAYS order at Starbucks? Coffee frap
27. What's your favorite 'comfort food'/food thats 'bad' but you love to eat it anyways? I have more than one.. cookies, mozzarella sticks, bread & butter
28. What is a favorite TV show from your childhood? Full House
29. What's your favorite thing to do when your upset? Listen to music
30. When is the last time you went to the mall? A few weeks ago
31. What is your heritage? Portuguese & Brazilian
32. Are you rich? LOL
33. Have you been to the movies in the last five days? Nope
34. What are your plans for tonight? Go to sleep at a decent hour
35. How old were you when you had your first kiss? Thirteen
36. What is your usual bedtime? Between 3-4am.. not by choice
37. Are you lazy? Extremely
38. When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween? Pirate, Bunny, Ghost, Pink Power Ranger
39. What is your astrological sign? Libra
40. How many languages can you speak? One
41. Do you have any magazine subscriptions? Yes, despite my many efforts to cancel it
42. Which are better legos or lincoln logs? Legos by a landslide
43. Are you stubborn? Very
44. Do you like hot sauce? No! I hate anything even remotely spicy
45. Ever watch soap operas? Nope
46. Are you afraid of heights? Yes
47. Do you sing in the car? Always
48. Do you dance in the car? Yeah, if the right song comes on
49. Ever go to camp? Yup, for Indian Princesses lol
50. Last time you got stopped by a cop or pulled over? When I was 18 (not counting random seatbelt checks)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The struggles of feeding a picky eater

Sigh. I have no idea where Olivia got her lack of appetite from but it's definitely not from me. I love food, a little too much probably. Me & Olivia have the opposite problem, I need to lose weight and she needs to gain, neither of us are having much luck. Instead of feeding her breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks, I feed her about every three hours as much as she will possibly eat (usually not much). Now that she is sleeping through the night, I have to get more calories into her during the day (it's not easy). Instead of being able to just make her whatever I think is best, I have to have a variety of options because one day she loves something, the next day it just gets tossed on the floor. It's so frustrating because I hate wasting food, I really hate it. To avoid wasting food, I give her really small portions. Sometimes that backfires and she ends up wanting more but by the time I get more, she just wants to get out of her highchair. My plan while I was pregnant was to feed her healthy, organic, nutritious food, unfortunately my plan was a bust. I still try of course but when it comes down to eating a little unhealthy or nothing at all, I rather her eat something. Something is better than nothing. I wouldn't do that if her weight was normal but she's so low on the curve that I really don't have much of a choice. By unhealthy I mean pizza, ice cream, cookies, pudding.. of course she loves all that stuff. I don't give it to her all the time, it's always as a last resort (trust me, I cringe every time). Here's an example of how she eats, for dinner tonight I gave her milk (2oz), pasta with butter (a few spoons), white bread (1/4 slice), a banana (one bite and spit it out), applesauce (2 small spoons) & a cookie. It's exhausting and it's a lot of different things but it's really the only way that has worked. For a few weeks I tried feeding her really healthy and if she didn't want it, I would wait till the next feed (hoping she would be really hungry) and she would just refuse again. I still give her a few purees, just to get some veggies into her but now she's really starting to refuse puree so that will be another challenge. So far the only vegetable she likes is broccoli, so I give her that as much as I can. I spoke to a nutritionist a few months ago and she suggested giving her more protein (yogurt, eggs, chicken, beans, cheese) I thought that was a great idea, unfortunately Olivia didn't like any of that stuff. The only thing she ate from that list was yogurt & sometimes cheese. It was worth a shot though. I'm hoping once she can talk, she can tell me what she wants to eat, I feel like that will help a lot. Although maybe not, I know older kids who are picky eaters too. I kind of just wanted to vent about that cause feeding her dinner tonight completely drained me. I get tons of advice on feeding her (most of which I've already tried) but I'm always open to new ideas, if anyone has some, feel free to share.

Olivia's many options. (smh)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quick Q&A

So I've gotten a couple of questions in the past few weeks and I decided to do a quick Q&A, I wanted to take the time to answer these questions honestly.

Q.) How were you so strong?
A.) I get this question a lot, the truth is that most of the time.. I wasn't. I wasn't strong, I broke down many times. After I first found out, I went into the bathroom and cried my eyes out. I wondered why?! Why my child? (although I would never wish it on any child). What did I ever do in my life that was so bad to deserve this?! There is no answer to that. I will never know why it happened but it happened and I had to deal with it. People always say "I couldn't even imagine" or "I couldn't do it" Well of course nobody wants to imagine something horrible happening to their child but if it did, you would be able to handle it because that's all you can do. If I had the choice of letting her go into surgery that day or erasing everything and making her magically healthy so she didn't need surgery, I would have chose the latter. You just have to take it day by day (as cliche as that sounds) and some days hour by hour. It's okay to breakdown, it helps. My main goal was to be there for her and I was. I was with her every single day and night at that hospital.

Q.) Are you happy that she won't remember any of it?
A.) Yes, now I am. When people said "she won't remember this" while it was happening, it didn't make me feel any better. I knew she wouldn't remember it but it was happening at that time and she could feel pain, I hated that. I wanted to her to be comfortable and happy but that wasn't the case. I truly did wish that I could take her pain away, I wished it happened to me instead. When she is older, I will definitely tell her the whole story and make sure she knows how truly strong she is.

Q.) Did it affect your marriage?
A.) Yes, something so significant will definitely shake things up a bit. There were ups and downs but we got through them and I think it made our marriage stronger in the end. Everyone deals with emotions differently, my husband and I have two completely different ways. I won't say he was in denial but he was much more positive than I was. He didn't want to believe anything would have a bad outcome and he also was trying to be strong for me. I tried to prepare myself for the worst. I did try to be positive but at the same time, I didn't want to turn a blind eye. I wanted to make sure no stone was left unturned, that she was getting the care and help that she needed. Even if I was wrong about what I might have thought was wrong with her, I wouldn't take it back. I needed answers and even if my questions were way out there, I asked them anyway.

Q.) What helped you through?
A.) Normally I'm not a very emotional person, I rarely cry. I can honestly say that I cried more in that one month than I did my entire life. Crying really helped, I had to let it out or I would have gone crazy. A lot of things helped me through, not just one thing. My family and friends support was a huge help, so many people were praying for Olivia and a lot came to visit, sent gifts or just messaged me to say they were thinking of her. The hospital also had some counselors and I spoke to a few of them, they were really nice and very supportive. Even the hospital staff shared their stories about their own children, some of them went above and beyond to make sure Olivia was comfortable. I really think the biggest help was talking, about everything. Exactly what happened and what would happen, what might happen, what I had fears about, just anything I could think of. Also, having some time alone with Olivia gave me a chance to clear my head and just focus on how adorable and perfect she was to me. I would talk to her all the time even though she was usually sleeping. I would tell her about her room, her cats, her toys and books. I would tell her all the things we were gonna do once we got home and how much I loved her. I know she didn't understand me but it made me feel better.

Q.) Do you still worry about her heart?
A.) Of course, I always will. Every parent has worries, healthy child or not. I might be a little more paranoid just because of what happened but I try on most days to just enjoy my time with her. Worrying is usually pointless. I worried my whole pregnancy about what could go wrong and not one of my fears was about her heart. So all that worrying didn't help in any way. When I did find out about her heart, I dealt with it at that moment. My best advice is to try your best not to worry because things you worry about probably won't happen and things you don't worry about, might. There is no way of predicting tragedies. I almost lost my child and I would have never thought that could happen to me. "If you didn't bring her in, she would have died." -ER doctors exact words. I will never forget that because it echoed in my head, it was the scariest thing I've ever heard.

Thanks for the questions everyone. If you have any other questions, just comment below or email me at and I will do another Q&A soon!

 The tattoo on my wrist has even more meaning to me now, she is strong.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Here comes trouble

Guess who's walking! Okay, she's trying, she's not perfect yet. She walks the same way as I do after I've had one too many drinks. She's getting better though, today she took about fifteen steps without falling, her previous record was eight.

(Insert proud mommy tears here) She is growing up way too fast! I still can't believe she is now known as a "toddler" ..well not to me, she's still my little baby! We were clapping for her and she was so proud of herself.

Today was gorgeous out, it was the perfect day to be outside so we went to the park. Olivia is not too fond of the swings anymore, last year she loved them. She was holding on for dear life and the sun was annoying her, she kept squinting so we didn't stay that long but it was fun. She's been babbling up a storm, I wonder what she thinks she is saying, it seems like she is trying to tell me a story sometimes, makes me laugh. I can't wait till she starts saying more words and can form sentences, I feel like she's gonna be a funny kid. Well everyone is sleeping and I'm just not tired at all but if I don't at least try to sleep, I'll regret it in the morning, night!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Citrus Lane review - March 2014

Sorry for the back to back reviews but I got Olivia's Citrus Lane box today and I figured I might as well do it now while she's napping. Citrus Lane is like Bluum (see the last post), it's a monthly subscription box for babies/toddlers. So far Citrus Lane has been my favorite, I have loved every box (we got three so far). This box is for a 13 month old girl.

Everything that was in the box. (the stuffed chick was an add on)

Chronicle Books: You Are My Baby (Ocean) Book:
This is the cutest book I've ever seen. I love how it has a smaller separate (but still attached) book for the babies. This is so perfect for Olivia because it's not too long, she starts to gets antsy if I'm reading on one page for a long time and wants me to flip to the next page so she can see the pictures. It's also great because it's a board book, the pages are thick and sturdy, she will have a hard time destroying it. I can't wait to read this to her before bed tonight! Retails for: $8.99 (I found a lot of different prices for this book but I went with the one on their website).

Hape Eco Safari Peg Puzzle:
Last month I was complaining that Olivia only had one puzzle, now she has about eight. I saw some spoilers for other 13 month old boxes and they were getting push and pull toys so I thought we would get that but we got this puzzle. I really do like it though, it's cute. Olivia isn't too great at puzzles yet, she likes taking out the pieces but never puts them back on, we will have to work on that. Retails for: $6.99

Weleda Citrus Hydrating Body Lotion (6.8oz):
Ehhhh.. again, saw some spoilers and people were getting disinfecting wipes, was hoping for those. I don't mind getting this lotion but we have enough lotion now to last us for a year. This is a pretty big size too. Definitely would have gotten more use out of the wipes but this is fine, smells pretty good too. Retails for: $13.20

Me4Kidz Medibuddy:
I think these little first aid travel kits are adorable! We already have a first aid kit but I will keep this one in her diaper bag, perfect for travel. We got the penguin, I was hoping for the purple cat since she loves cats but this is pretty cute too. The penguin is just on the wrapper anyway, once it's open it will just be an orange case. It contains band aids, gauze, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, stickers & a few other things.  Retails for: $5.15

Plum Organics: Stage 2 World Baby Pouch:
Not thrilled to get a food pouch, I try to make sure whatever she eats is high calorie. When I buy food pouches or purees, I always pick the highest calorie flavor. I never get anything under 80cal and this one is only 50cal. Citrus Lane has no idea that we are trying to get Liv to gain weight so it's not their fault. Maybe I will give this to her after a meal as a snack, I refuse to waste food.  Retails for: $1.69

North American Bear Co. - Chick:
This is an add on, it wasn't part of the box. A feature that I really love is their "add to box" feature. Boxes always have free shipping and Citrus Lane sends coupons all the time. I got a $10 off coupon and when using "add to box" the shipping is free. So you can pick an extra item (or a few) for your box. I got this chick because I figured it would be perfect for her Easter basket. I ended up only paying $4.99 for it, I'm a sucker for a deal.  Retails for: $14.99

The total value of this box is about $36 (not including the add on chick). I got a six month subscription and with coupons, I paid about $15 per month. So it's definitely worth it to me. Olivia was napping when I got the box so I don't have any pictures of her playing with anything but once she wakes up, I will see how she likes it! If you're interested in getting a Citrus Lane subscription for your child, you can use the code SPRING20 for $20 off your first box or you can use my referral link for 50% off your first box Melissa's CL referral. It's a subscription so make sure you cancel after your receive your boxes or you will be charged again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bluum review - March 2014

In case you've never heard of Bluum, it's a monthly subscription box for babies/toddlers. You pay for a certain number of months and you get a box every month with 4-5 items geared towards your child's age and gender. The more months you sign up for, the cheaper it is. I found a great deal that was $40 for three months, so about $13 per box.

My daughter is 13 months old and I specified that she was a girl (you can also get a gender neutral box).

 Here is everything we got in the box. 

Baby Legs - Leg Warmers:
I think these are so cute! I've been wanting to buy them for Liv but didn't get around to it so I'm really excited we got these. I have to put them on her soon because it might start getting a little too warm (hopefully!) They are one size fits most but I don't think that will be an issue since she's so small. They definitely won't be too small and if they are too big, she will grow into them. Retails for: $12

Baby Basics: My First Words Book:
This is such a cute book! It has tons of pictures and at the end, it has all the colors and numbers. It says it's for 0+ months but that's fine cause she does really like it. I'm a little worried that she might destroy it though. We had another book with similar lightweight cardboard pages and she completely ripped it apart. This is her favorite item in the box. Retails for: $4.49


Begin Again Wooden Earthworm:
I think this is pretty cute, it's a little wooden worm toy. You can move it all around, it's held together by a rubber string (I think). It's for ages 12+ months. Retails for: $9.95

Deep Steep Hand Scrub (2oz):
Haven't tried this yet but from watching unboxing videos, everyone seems to love it so I will have to try it. Happy to get something in the box for me but still rather have everything in the box be just for her. Retails for: $5.89

Fresh Starts: Chilled Travel Bowl:
I think this is my favorite thing in the box. It's perfect for travel and it even has an ice pack to keep food chilled. Love it! Retails for: $8.99

So the total value of the box came out to just a little over $40. I looked up each item online and went with the lowest price, so that is just an estimate but since I only paid $13, I think that's a great deal! These aren't things I would necessarily buy but that's the whole point, I like the surprise and I like to try new things. Overall I am very happy with this box. Last month I was pretty disappointed but they definitely sent a great box this time. Not sure if it was because I complained or not but now I'm confused, I don't know if I still want to cancel or keep it a little longer. I signed up for three months so next month will be the deciding factor. If you are interested in signing up your child to receive a Bluum box, you can use my referral, it will get you 50% off your subscription. You just have to go to and enter my email as the coupon code: :) Not sure if that is only for a one time use or if it can be used multiple times but if you do subscribe please let me know how you like it! Also, keep in mind that after your subscription is up, you have to cancel or you will be charged for another few months. Make sure you read everything before you purchase anything.

 Olivia enjoying her new book. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

I have a love/hate relationship with Girl Scout cookies

A little update on the sleep situation, I'm happy to say that Olivia is in her own room now (sigh of relief). It actually went much better than expected. With the exception of that first terrible night, she's been falling asleep within five to ten minutes. There is no way I could have handled another night like the first one, I've never been so exhausted. A few months ago I got into a horrible habit of staying awake until 5am every night (not on purpose). I would have to nap when Olivia did in the afternoon, I was finally able to break that habit and now it's happening again! I know I need to cut out the naps but it's so hard to do when I can barely function. Even though she's been sleeping well, she's been eating horribly, barely anything. I even took her to the doctor but he said it was most likely her teeth, molars suck.. my words, not the doctors. I'm sure it must be really painful to have teeth ripping your gums apart but I hope she doesn't lose too much weight, she's already so skinny.. she's gonna start to look like Gollum. We had a pretty good weekend, we went out to eat on Friday night, it's like an adventure brining a baby out to dinner. I never know what's gonna happen and it's a little scary. She did pretty good most of the time and when she starting getting antsy, we let her watch Bubble Guppies and Dora on Paul's phone, never fails. What did parents do before smart phones?! Get dirty looks because their kid was screaming at the top of their lungs I guess. The older Liv gets, the more mischievous she becomes, if you're thinking about having a child ask yourself a few questions 1.) Do I love sleeping? 2.) Do I need privacy? 3.) Do I like how fast I can leave my house? 4.) Do I like having money? 5). Am I fond of the quiet? 6.) Do I dislike sharing my food with people who decide to just spit it out anyway? 7.) Do I hate being thrown up on? If you answered no to most of those questions, you are ready for a child! Congratulations! Don't ask me to babysit. Mostly kidding, but as much as I love Olivia, it's a huge adjustment from what life used to be. With that being said, I think it's totally worth it. Not kidding. Just one hug or smile from her and it melts my heart.

Here's a little preview of the mischief Olivia has been getting into lately. If I had a pull string doll of myself, it would say "no!" over and over again.

Let's see.. what else.. Oh yeah, I went to the St. Patrick's day parade with my friend on Sunday, better known as bar hopping. It was okay but I'm definitely starting to feel too old for that type of stuff, lots of people throwing up and fighting. I also hate the fact that it took forever to get inside the bar and when we finally got in, we couldn't even move cause it was so packed. The amount of time it took to get drinks killed my buzz. It was kind of a waste but there were some entertaining moments. After being out for about an hour, I really started to miss Olivia. I'm with her pretty much 24/7, I'm gonna have real problems when she goes to school. Today went by pretty quick, probably because we were out and about. I'm really looking forward to warm weather so we can get out of the house more often! Pretty bummed that her playgroup is over until the summer, she loved it. Some of the moms said they would still meet up once a week so I might do that. Oh yeah, totally off topic but I had this brilliant stupid idea of starting a diet, apparently this just can't be done during Girl Scout Cookie season. I fell off the wagon hardcore. I'm honestly ashamed of how many boxes I've eaten in the past few weeks. I've been doing great with exercising but I'm pretty sure it's all been a waste of time. Oh well, the boxes are empty now and I definitely won't be buying anymore till next year, I obviously have no self control. A few days ago I was looking for hand weights online, I was gonna buy the 5lb set but they were kind of expensive so I waited. Good thing I did because I really underestimated how freaking heavy they were, I'm probably gonna get laughed at for this but seriously.. even the 3lb set felt pretty heavy to me but I got those, hopefully I'll get used to them. Well anyway.. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Just so you know, the bow in her hair looked perfect at first. She kept messing it up and I finally gave up and just took the picture anyway.. sigh. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I can only blame myself for this

Getting Olivia to sleep in her own room has been a big struggle. I know it's my fault for keeping her in our room for over a year but it was just easier at first with the tube and now she doesn't want to leave us. I don't want her to leave either but I know she needs to sleep in her own room. Plus, the play yard is probably uncomfortable and she's getting too big for it. Last night was terrible! Pure torture. I tried everything to calm her down.. feeding her, rocking her, playing music, giving her stuffed animals, giving her Tylenol for her teething and I even climbed in the crib with her! I really thought I was going break the stupid thing but luckily I didn't. I wondered if she would EVER fall asleep, it took hours! I finally tried letting her cry it out around 12:30am (heartbreaking and traumatic). She fell asleep at 1am and woke up at 5am, she was ready to get out but I put her back down. She cried on and off for a while but finally fell asleep again at 6am. She woke up at 7am, ugh! I just gave up at that point. None of us got any sleep, especially me. I was a zombie all day. I'm normally clumsy but today it was ridiculous, I was walking into walls/doors, falling asleep standing up, couldn't keep my eyes open or my head up so I took two short naps with her. I'm terrified to try again tonight but I have to or else last night was a waste, there's no going back now. Wish me luck!

Left: Around 12am, she just wanted to cuddle with me, sweet but it was so late!
Right: Today around 5:30pm she was ready for bed but I had to keep her up or else tonight would be worse! She just laid on the floor for a while.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The truth about being a stay at home mommy

I didn't exactly plan on staying home for a whole year (and counting) but since everything happened the way it did, it was best for me to be home with Liv. I remember while I was pregnant I would always say "It will be so great staying home for a few months! The house will be clean, dinner will be ready and that will be my job!" lol.. yeah. freaking. right! Don't get me wrong, it is great (most of the time) but it's much harder taking care of a baby than I ever could have anticipated, I also wasn't counting on health problems. Let me say this.. I had a job at the same place for eight years and I've only been a stay at home mom for one year, every single job I've ever had has been much easier than mommyhood. People think I sit home and watch TV all day.. not so much. If and when the TV is on, it's on Bubble Guppies or Dora the Explorer while I'm quickly trying to wash the dishes or start a load of laundry. Between feeding Liv (still a struggle), giving her a bath, changing diapers, playing with her, taking her to doctor appointments, playgroup, running errands and dealing with the cats.. I barely get a minute to breathe. It also seems like we always need to go to the store for something.. diapers, wipes, food, medicine, clothes. I try to stock up on stuff but it still runs out really quick. Having a baby is not cheap, especially with tons of medical bills piling up. It's safe to say that I am ALWAYS tired (actually an understatement). Olivia comes first so everything I do for myself is done while she naps. Lucky for me she still naps twice a day, I try to use every minute I can in the best way. For instance, I've been writing these posts while she sleeps and I'm on the treadmill (a little risky, hopefully I don't break an arm or leg). But it actually works out because the times goes by much faster. Some days really fly by and some days seem to drag on forever and I end up counting down the hours minutes to her bedtime like it's New Years Eve! I guess it's part of mommyhood to have those rough days. We all have them so I try not to feel guilty when I think to myself that Olivia is driving me crazy! The funny thing is, after she's sleeping for a few hours I start to miss her and I just wanna wake her up and play with her. That would be a terrible decision so I haven't actually done it yet. I had previously said she has three teeth coming through, well I was wrong, it's four.. all at once. That explains her very cranky night last night. Poor kid and poor me! Lol kidding but she did wake up around 3am and just would not go back to sleep. I tried feeding her and rocking her but it didn't work. I had to give her medicine (not my favorite thing to do) cause I could tell she was in pain. After that, twenty minutes later she finally went back to sleep. I couldn't though. I am always so jealous of those people (Paul & Olivia) that can lay down and fall asleep within minutes. It takes me at minimum half an hour to fall asleep and that's on a good day. Before I had Liv, nothing could wake me up. I even worried about it when I was pregnant "what if she's crying for hours and I don't wake up?!" but now if she even just rolls over in her crib, I spring out of bed like the house is on fire! So weird. It's still strange to me that I have a baby, I say this all the time but I still don't feel like an adult. That sounds silly since I'm married with a baby. But seriously.. I'm eating a poptart for dinner. I guess another reason would be the fact that in many situations.. I decide that I need to consult with my parents in order to make the right decision. When you're a kid, adults always say (and I remember this vividly) "enjoy being a kid, you don't have any responsibility!" and I would just be like "yeah yeah whatever old man" well they were right (surprise!) I totally miss having zero bills, getting mail used to be fun. Okay.. I've definitely gone off topic and I'm starting to ramble.. happy Tuesday!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

More about the tube

This is going to sound a little crazy but the tube was more stress on me than her heart surgery was. Only because the surgery and recovery lasted three weeks but tube feeding went on for months. It doesn't seem like a big deal but there was a lot more to it than most people realize. First off, I felt like it was holding us back. To feed her, we had a pump that connected to the tube which hung from an IV pole (right in my living room and always in the way!) So if we wanted to go somewhere, I had to bring this huge syringe (sort of like the one you use to dispense medicine but much bigger) and manually push her formula through her tube, I had to wait a minute or two before pushing another 2mls through. It took forever!  Not only that but if we were out somewhere and she pulled it out, I had no way of putting it back in by myself so she would have to wait to eat until we got home. For that reason, I didn't go out much. Another issue I had was the fact that they gave us a certain amount to feed her every three hours, so let's say 3oz every three hours .. the problem with that is we had no idea when she was actually full, the only way we knew was if she started throwing up. Throwing up is NOT fun so that was hard for me to see her go through. On the other hand, sometimes 3oz would be fine but how would I know if she was still hungry or not? We had no clue. Plus, I don't think she even understood what hunger was because in her mind she was magically being filled with formula so she never even got a chance to feel hungry. Babies who are not tube fed don't drink the exact same amount of formula every feed, sometimes they drink more, sometimes less but with Olivia we really didn't know how much was the right amount so it took a lot of trial and error. The tube had to be taped to her face (more and more tape the older she got) so that she wouldn't pull it out. If she did pull it out, we had to reinsert it which was a nightmare. I'll get to that in a second. So to say the tape bothered her skin would be an understatement. I tried so many different tapes, lotions and creams to protect her little cheeks but nothing worked. She has very sensitive skin and it would get so bad that her cheeks would crack and bleed sometimes. What sucks about that is.. that meant we had to switch the side that the tape was on very often. It wasn't just re-taping, we actually had to remove the tube and switch which nostril it went in.

These two pictures are her cheeks at their worst. I can't count how many times people asked me if she had rosacea or eczema. When strangers asked, I would just say yes. I was not going to get into the whole long story with someone I didn't even know. At the time I didn't realize how truly bad her cheeks looked but looking back at these pictures, it was pretty bad. Happy to say that her cheeks are clear now and she has no scars from it (which I worried about).

Let me paint the picture of inserting the tube for you.. I got all the supplies needed to change the tube (new tube, tape, scissors, gel etc) and while Paul held her down (she was already screaming at this point because she knew what was coming) I had to put some gel on the tube and slowly feed it through her nose until it got down to her stomach. She would shake her head and scream at the top of her lungs (An adult who had an ng tube inserted described it to me as a very unpleasant experience, your throat burns and it's just uncomfortable, every time you swallow.. you can feel it. Something is up your nose so your natural reaction is to get it out but you can't). I understand why she was screaming but it made it much more difficult for me (she really proved how strong she is). Sometimes she would win and I would have to do it three or four times before it finally went down all the way. By the time we were done, I was sweating. Then I had to use a stethoscope to listen to her stomach while I pushed some air through the tube, if I heard a gush of air, it was in. If I didn't hear it, that meant it was possibly in her lungs. Of course you can't feed formula into someone's lungs. If that happened, a trip to the ER would come next (luckily it never happened). Getting it in the right spot was crucial, I hated knowing that her health rested in my hands because again, I am not a medical professional. So that's pretty much the low down on Liv's tube days.. I can honestly say that I don't miss tube feeding AT ALL. Things have been so much easier since she's been off of it, I know she needed it at the time so I did what I had to do but I am very thankful that those days are behind us. The ng tube gave me a whole new perspective on tough love.

Tube or no tube, Olivia is beautiful! This is how I remember the first five months of her life. Her hair cracks me up in these pictures! Whenever we were going to change the tube, I would snap as many pictures as possible so we could have some without it. Although I took tons of pictures with it in, I never really shared them because I didn't want to get tons of questions but now since everyone knows the story, here's my former little tubie. 

Uhm, do you know you spelled live wrong?

Someone actually said that to me.. oh no, I had no idea so thanks!! ;) Okay I'll stop with the sarcasm. Seriously.. I spelled it that way on purpose. My daughters name is oLIVia, we call her Liv so I hope that clears things up.

I don't have a job right now but for some reason, I still hate Mondays. I think it's because I worked for so many years that I'm just still in the mindset of hating Mondays. Anyway.. I'm really happy with the support I got for my last few posts, it was hard to talk about while it was happening but now I feel okay about it. I appreciate everyone's kind words, I also forgot to mention how much support we got while we were at the hospital. My mom was there every single day and lots of other family and friends came to visit, sent gifts and prayed for Olivia. People I hadn't talked to in years reached out to me and it was just really nice to know they were sending out good thoughts for my little girl. I know I already said it but thank you again to everyone from the bottom of my heart!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Oh by the way, she has heart disease

Before I start I need to say that this is the first time I am going to relive this whole thing and it's been a year. This is going to be pretty heavy so if you want to keep things light, I suggest skipping this post. I'm going to try to make most of this about facts because if I don't, I may end up having an emotional break down. At the time all of this happened, I was extremely scared but I try not to think about it because I know it's over now and I want to enjoy as much happiness as I can with my daughter. I appreciate every moment I have with her and I think that is the one good thing that came from all that happened to her.

Trip to the ER:
I left off where we got to leave the hospital, we got home and everything seemed to be going well. She still wasn't eating great but she was eating. The next day we brought her to her pediatrician for a check up, he said everything was good and she looked healthy. That night is when things started to change, she stopped eating. It took me about 45 minutes to get about 10mls of breast milk into her. I figured she would be very hungry her next feed but the same thing happened again. She was also crying every hour or so but it wasn't for too long. I decided to call her pediatrician but it was already 11pm so I got connected to a nurse line. I explained what was going on and she asked me several questions. After talking to her she said to call my pediatrician in the morning. Olivia refused to eat ALL night, I was up trying to figure out what I should do, I let her sleep and then in the morning tried again, she refused. She was pretty much out of it and just wanted to sleep. The nurse came around 10am (the nurse the NICU told me they would have visit) and I told her everything that was going on, she looked concerned but stayed calm and called my pediatrician. She told him what was going on and I heard her say "okay, that's what I thought, thanks" then she looked at me and said "go get a bag ready because I need to call an ambulance" she was pretty calm so I wasn't really sure what was going on, I got everything for Olivia and myself. On the way to the hospital she got oxygen and I called my husband to meet us. When we got there, they started putting IV's and oxygen and all sorts of other stuff on her, I had no idea what was going on. There were a ton of people around me and they just told me they were trying to figure out what was wrong, ranging from not serious to life threatening. At that point I didn't know if it was anything serious, I was hopeful that she would be okay and felt relieved that we were at the hospital and she was getting taken care of. One of the doctors told me they were going to do an ultrasound of her heart "just in case" but they didn't think anything was wrong because they didn't hear a murmur. I honestly did not think she had heart disease.

 Left: I snapped this picture right before the nurse came over.
Right: I really debated taking this picture but I think it's important to explain to her what she went through when she is older, she is a strong girl & I am so proud.

Heart disease and surgery:
I was trying to overhear what they were saying while doing the ultrasound and I heard "heart disease" but I thought "okay maybe they said that they don't see any signs of heart disease, just because they said heart disease doesn't mean she definitely has it". The doctor came over and told me that her heart was enlarged and the cardiologist would come explain to me what was going on. I was in shock. It didn't really sink in until the cardiologist said "heart surgery" then my heart dropped, my throat became dry and everything around me was blurry. I could hear him continue to talk but I was in my own head. I went numb, I guess that's the best way to describe it. I've heard that your body goes into survival mode and you block everything out to deal with the pain. If you've ever seen the movie 50/50, when he finds out he has cancer - that's exactly how I felt hearing my daughter needed heart surgery. My first question was, is she going to die? I know that sounds morbid but I wanted to hear that she would be okay, they told me it was very likely that she would be just fine. They said CHD was more common than we think and that 1 in 100 babies are born with a heart defect. They also told me a little boy was there a few weeks ago with the same problem and he was doing great now. That softened the blow a little bit but still.. it was MY baby this time and how could I know what the outcome was going to be?! Nobody can say 100%, not even the doctors. Olivia had coarcation of the aorta, which is the narrowing of a valve, she also has a medium sized ASD & VSD (two holes in her heart). They decided to only do surgery on the coarcation because the holes can close over time. The heart surgeon came in to speak to me and he was very nice, he put my mind at ease a bit but still, signing a paper that says surgery can leave your child paralyzed is extremely scary. I had no choice. Having heart disease can be because of other underlying issues, although not always but they tested her for lots of things, one of the big things was turner syndrome. Luckily all her blood work came back normal but while I was waiting for it, I convinced myself she had turner syndrome (too much time on the internet during that hospital stay). The nurses told me to stop looking online and if I had questions, the doctors were the best people to ask. I tried to stay offline but it was harder than I thought. Before Olivia could go into surgery, she had to be stable. She was very dehydrated (I had no idea how quickly a baby could become dehydrated) and her body had basically shut down, her kidneys took a day or so to start working again. At eleven days old she was finally stable enough to go into surgery. I kissed her a bunch of times and I cannot explain or describe the feeling I had when they wheeled her away. I wondered if that would be the last time I would see my baby alive. Eleven days was not enough, I needed her to be okay. Waiting in the waiting room was pure torture, hours went by without anyone updating us on how she was doing. Finally I couldn't take it anymore, after about five hours I asked and I was told they were just about done. When the doctor came in I was shaking because I was so nervous, he said "she's doing good, I'm very happy with the way the surgery went". We (me & my family) all started crying (tears of happiness of course) and hugging. We thanked the doctor and went to see Olivia. She didn't have open heart surgery (she had thoracotomy heart surgery), the incision is on her left side below the armpit (the scar is very thin and looks so great today, I'm pretty impressed with the surgeon). They said that the open heart surgery wound is less painful than the one she got; which sucks.. I felt horrible for her. She had a breathing tube, feeding tube and several IV's. Nobody wants to see their child suffer, especially not when they are so tiny. Her recovery was a few weeks long, it was so up and down. One day she was great, they next day something bad would happen. While we were there, her lung collapsed twice, her chest tube was taken out too early so her oxygen started going down, they needed to put a new chest tube in and she was still refusing to eat. Which brings me to the next part of all this.. the feeding tube.

In recovery - my little heart warrior.

Love/hate relationship with a feeding tube:
Olivia did not want to drink more than 7-10mls of formula at a time, despite many efforts on my part and a feeding therapist, it just wasn't happening. When they first told me she was being discharged WITH the feeding tube, it really scared me. I had to learn how to put it in, "what?! I'm not a nurse, I have no idea what I'm doing!!" they assured me it was easy enough and I practiced on a doll. She had an NG tube which basically goes in her nose and down her throat into her stomach. Not a pleasant feeling for her and putting it in was a struggle as well. Much easier to do on a doll that's not moving and crying. She had the feeding tube for about five months and the older she got, the more she would pull it out. It was my enemy but I knew it was helping her grow and get the nutrition she needed so there was nothing I could do about it. With not much progress on oral eating (despite many therapy sessions), the doctors started suggesting a more long term option, a G tube (tube that goes directly into her stomach). I went back and forth with the idea for months. My main concern was, if she got the G tube, she would have it for years. I did so much research on tubes and found a great website that connects moms with other moms who have children that are tube fed. That was the best thing that could have happened (my crazy obsessive searching finally paid off!) There was one mom who really helped me, I talked to her almost everyday and she gave me tips on weaning Olivia off of the tube (which I discussed with our doctor) and she really just helped calm me down on certain days when I would have melt downs. My family also helped of course but it's hard to understand when you aren't in the situation directly. Before I found this site I tried taking out the tube several times and letting her get hungry but it made no difference. We had a surgery date scheduled for a G tube. We ended up cancelling the surgery the day before because I was able to wean her off the tube and she was gaining weight.. very slowly but gaining. I did this by slowly decreasing what was going in the tube and letting her make it up orally. This was in no way an easy task. It took months and she lost weight (she was always on the 5% curve for weight and by the end of weaning her off the tube she was around 1%). Just a quick side note, if you are having the same problem with your child and they are tube fed, ALWAYS talk to your doctor before attempting a wean. I had a very specific plan with her pediatrician, GI doctor and feeding therapist. We also had a stop point, if she lost a certain amount of weight in a certain time frame, the weaning would stop. I tried once before the successful wean and she ended up getting sick so that wean had to stop. It was also helpful to start purees and rice cereal because she loved eating, just not drinking. We started purees at about 5 1/2 months and that was a huge turning point and the whole reason why I decided it was time to try weaning.

 The picture on the left is her screaming, which she did often. I decided I was either gonna go crazy or laugh, I chose the latter. I look terrible but that's what spending three weeks living at the hospital does to you.

Here we are now:
Olivia is now 13 months old and doing well. She is by NO means a "good eater" but she has definitely come a very long way. She drinks around 1-4oz every three hours (yes they still want her on that newborn schedule ugh) except I don't have to wake her up during the night anymore (yay sleep!) She still enjoys eating foods although she likes table food a lot more than purees and yogurt now. Unfortunately she was teething last week (three teeth coming it at once and one is a molar) so her eating suffered and she lost a few oz. but the doctor isn't concerned and she is back on her 5% weight curve. She is still tiny and we have bad and good eating days but she is happy and meeting her milestones! As far as her heart goes, she will always need to have yearly check ups for it. It was more frequent at first but now the visits are more spread out. The ASD & VSD are closing, one of them is no longer even an issue. The other (I can't remember which) most likely wont be an issue, as long as she has no problems. The cardiologist is confident that she wont need anymore surgeries.

Left: Half the food gets spit out or thrown on the floor but it's okay. ;) 
Right: Olivia with her heart warrior blanket. It has her name and says heart warrior - it also says "a mended heart is a special heart".

Okay, exhale! That was really long! I hope I can help anyone going through the same thing or even something similar. I know while it was happening to her, talking to other moms or just reading about others who went through it and now their child is fine really put my mind at ease, if only for a moment.

*I joined this great website for children with heart defects and I shared Olivia's story, here is the link if you want to check it out, join or share your heart warriors story!  Little Hearts - Olivia

Pregnancy & delivery woes

Quick history on my pregnancy:
It took over a year for me to get pregnant so when I finally did, I was ecstatic! I didn't actually believe I was pregnant so I ran to the store and got 3 more tests (it was kind of like the scene from Knocked Up). The pregnancy was actually going well but it ended up being a really bad scary pregnancy. I wasn't throwing up or having back pain so all that was great. I started having issues around 12 weeks when I saw (cover your eyes for TMI) blood. I quickly called the doctor in a panic and his response was to come in the next day (it was the middle of the night) and if I lost the baby there was nothing he could do about it (his exact words by the way) cue the tears. The next day I went in with the mindset that I was no longer pregnant, well I was. I was so happy and I thought that was the end of my little health scare. (lol yeahhhh, little did I know this incident was just the tip of the iceberg) The time came to find out the sex of the baby, I was so so excited for this visit.. they told us it was a... GIRL! I got to smile for about 3.2 seconds and then they told me that she had two soft markers for down syndrome or cystic fibrosis. My heart sank. Please don't misunderstand this.. I would love her no matter what the circumstance. However, I would of course want my child to be healthy if given the option. Her soft markers were echogenic bowel and crooked pinkies, which I have as well ..they are just slighty curved so they said it was probably a family trait. Keep in mind that they never said ONE word about anything being wrong with her heart. Did I say quick history in the title? Thought it would be. I opted for blood work instead of the amnio test for fear of having a miscarriage. Fast forward to two weeks later (by the way, longest two weeks of my life; at this point) I got the call that the blood work was normal. Woohoo! That's the end of my pregnancy scare!! JK! They wanted to have a follow up ultrasound and at that one they told me she had a "duplex collecting system" of her kidney. This turned out to be nothing thankfully but at the time it was just another problem to add to my list and I was pretty much a wreck at that point. Hormones + bad news over & over again = disaster. I also ended up getting a sinus infection right at the end of my pregnancy, that was a splendid time of fun.

Little miss trouble maker.

Delivery and NICU:
Me & the hubby decided to go to the movies, it was a Saturday night and we were going to pack our hospital bags the next day (I was due in ten days) so we could be prepared. Olivia said "Nah, I think it will be more fun this way" I started having contractions as soon as the movie ended, I wondered if it was just a stomach ache from all the food I ate that day so I went home and took a shower. (weirdo I know, who does that?!) As I was drying my hair the pain was getting worse and worse. I finally called the doctor and he wasn't sure if it was a stomach ache either until I had a contraction on the phone. He said to meet him a the hospital right away, (during this phone call my husband is running around throwing things into a bag for us) we were not prepared. So on the way to the hospital I was on the phone with my mom (nobody truly thought I was going into labor at this point because we all thought the baby would be late) and all of a sudden a gush. "Okay I know for a FACT that I did NOT just pee everywhere" my husband was so grossed out! ha ha so yeah my water broke and I had no idea that after it breaks.. it keeps on coming out. I mean every few seconds another gush, I could not believe the amount of fluid coming out.. it was like a gallon! That's what it seemed like at least. The first thing I said was "give me the epidural!" after that I was pretty much okay. By the time we got to the hospital I was already 7cm dilated. Another scary thing and probably TMI, the "water" coming out of me was brown. I KNEW it was supposed to be clear from all those Baby Story episodes I watched! That freaked me out but they assured me it was going to be fine. Uhm hello?! My baby is swimming in her own poop, DISGUSTING, get her out!!! (what I was saying in my head) After a few hours of pushing she was here! Another fun quote from the doctor while I was pushing "oh that was a lousy push" gee thanks. So from start to finish my labor lasted 6 hours. Pretty good I think! Then I heard some keywords .."floppy" "lack of oxygen" and I freaked "is she okay?! IS SHE OKAY?!" ugh she had to go to the NICU (I wanted her to sleep in our room so bad but she couldn't) A new all time scariest moment (at that point) After a few hours she was doing much better and her tone started looking normal. She only needed oxygen for one day and after three days of being in the NICU they told us we could go home. Although she wasn't eating much (only about 1oz every three hours) they said it was okay and that her stomach was very small, I thought it was strange but shrugged it off. When they told us she was okay to go home, I must have made a funny face because the doctor asked me what was wrong. I told him I was worried and he suggested having a nurse come to the house in a few days to check on her, I agreed.

Olivia Paige - 7lbs, 2oz - 19inches long & a very loud screamer!

A little background & what to expect

So.. my name is Melissa, I'm 28 (holding onto my 20's for dear life) I'm married and I have a 13 month old daughter named Olivia (hence the title of this blog). The boring stuff is out of the way now.. that felt kinda like a game show introduction. I also want to say, don't take me too seriously and definitely don't expect my grammar and punctuation to be on point; this is my blog, not a term paper. I decided to start this blog for a few reasons...

1.) I need to get some of these thoughts out of my head so I can possibly sleep at night instead of rambling on and on to myself.
2.) Once my daughter was born, my whole world turned upside down and not in the normal "having a newborn that cries in the middle of the night and poops on you" kind of way because I was prepared for that. I wasn't prepared for what happened to me and my family.. more about that later, it deserves it's own ridiculously long post.
3.) I need a hobby.. seriously.

To give you somewhat of an idea, here's a few starter topics I will be blogging about..
1.) My daughter and her journey.
2.) Our crazy everyday life. (I swear we need our own reality show.. although lots of people say that)
3.) Subscription box (latest obsession) and product reviews.
4.) Occasional venting posts. (don't worry you can skip over those)

Oh and by the way I'm very fond of using "...." which I've been told is very annoying, oops? Anyways, just wanted to write this quick introduction!

Not the greatest family picture but I think anyone with a baby can tell you that getting them to smile look at the camera is near impossible, it usually involves a lot of trickery and I just didn't have the energy that day. (typical)