Monday, September 26, 2011

Look at my baby's fingers!

Don't worry, I'm not going to share gross post-surgery pictures, although if you're interested, you can go here.

This post is about Journey's fingers, her newly independent fingers! The bandages are off, the stitches are out of her left hand, and she just has pink scars now. She hasn't had pain medication in almost a week, and she is using all of her fingers. If you look closely at this picture, you can see that she is using her pinky to hold that 'spoon'. That pinky had been curved and attached to the bottom of her ring finger since before she was born. And now, she uses it to hold a spoon and make pretend soup with her sister :) I have a couple of other pictures to post when I get a chance to put them on the computer, but for now you can gaze at my adorable girls cooking :)

Move in week

Or not. Who really knows anymore? BUT supposedly we have the last inspections this week that should not only get us our occupancy permit, but should get the fha people and our awful contractor out of our lives forever!

There are just a few tiny things left to be done by the contractor...almost as many as were left a week and a half ago...but that is to be expected. The kitchen/dining room, hallway, Jeb's bedroom, and the girls' bedroom are all painted and we are starting to really move things in. There's a 'big girl' bed in the purple room for Vivi, and Journey will have a crib mattress on the floor until she stops rolling around so much and falling off the bed :)

Eric just traded his car for his brother's truck for a couple of weeks, so we were able to move 3 shelves in the truck and a bunch of boxes in the suv today. This week, whether we get the okay to move in or not, is moving week. Our lease is almost up, we are READY to stop living in limbo, and we need to be settled in the house before Jeb comes home.

Today marks 7 weeks since passing court. They say it's about a 6 week wait from passing court to being cleared for embassy. Of course, because it is adoption, there is no definite time, sometimes it is shorter, sometimes much longer. Journey's process was very quick; she passed court on April 26th, we got our embassy clearance email on May 27th, Eric got on the plane on June 4th, and Journey was home on June 9th. Clearly, Jeb's case is different, but we're still hopeful that he'll be home before the end of October.

This year has been an excellent teacher in patience for us!

I also got to go today with my best friend Sam for her final wedding dress fitting. Her future mother in law and I learned how to lace up the back of the dress and do the bustle on the big day. I'm so excited for her!

Here are a few pictures of the house, I realized I haven't posted any in awhile:

The back room, recently rebuilt. The tile goes between the side entry and the back sliding door, and there will be a wood burning stove in the corner.

Jebriel's room!

My pride and joy...if he would just put my double oven in!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Oh the drama!

This week was supposed to be very low key, we didn't have any plans, just taking it easy so Journey could heal. She had other plans. If blood and stitches make you squeamish, you may not want to read this.

I mentioned in the last post that the doctor said the surgery went so well that she didn't need hand casts, just soft bandages. Her hands were padded all around with cotton, then wrapped in ace bandages. There wasn't any wrapping on the tips of her hands, so the nurse told us to 'try to keep her from eating the cotton'. We put socks over the bandages so she couldn't nibble at them, and all was good. For a few hours. While playing that evening, her bandage on her right hand (I'm guessing because she is right handed) started coming loose. We rewrapped it but it was coming loose again, and she was in pain as the bandage was moved around. I called the number on the after care sheet we were given at the hospital. Little did I know this would be the first of many phone calls this week in which I would feel like I was talking to a brick wall. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi, my daughter had surgery today on her hands, and one of her bandages keeps coming off and causing her pain.

Resident on call: Well, you definitely want to try to keep her from getting them off.

Me: Yeah...but she's 18 months old. We were supposed to have hard casts and I'm starting to think that would have been a better idea.

Resident on call: Hm, well...maybe you can come up with some kind of contraption, maybe with a towel or something, that will keep her arms at her sides.

Me: Um...

Resident on call: Yeah, she probably wouldn't like that would she?

Me: No...we did have socks over the bandages, but that didn't help.

Resident on call: Wow, socks are actually a really good idea!

Me: .....but they didn't help...

Doy! Anyway, he ended up saying to try to keep them on her for the night and if they come completely off we should take her back to the clinic so they can check it so it doesn't get infected.

Twice during the night I was awakened to Journey gasping in pain and the bandage laying next to her on the bed. I was pretty angry at that point that she was having to go through all that pain when she should have had a hard cast instead. Around 8am, we called our trusty number again and told them what happened and they said someone would call right back. After awhile, nobody had called back, and Journey was still acting like she was in a lot of pain, so I put her in the car and drove the 45 minutes to the clinic. I went in all mama-bear and demanded to be seen right away. We were able to see the same doctor who did the surgery and she took off both bandages and said "these really don't look bad, I think we can just put bandaid on it." Seriously??? We argued a little about it and she said she could put some gauze over the bandaid. I said I still didn't think that was enough and she left to go talk to a nurse who is a 'dressing expert'. In the 2 minutes she was gone, Journey was trying to pull and nibble out her stitches. I told her that when she came back in and she didn't say anything. Then, just to prove my point, I said "and, my husband passes out at the sight of blood or stitches". I swear she rolled her eyes before giving me a look and saying "it isn't going to bleed". The nurse came in, looked at her hands, and gave her some nice gauze wraps that she made nice and thick around her fingers. On the drive home, 2 hours later, we got our 'immediate' call back from the number we called that morning.

I realized at that point that we were on our own for wrapping, so we bought some bandages and tape at CVS, and we had been given antibiotic cream at the hospital, just in case. That night, Journey started wheezing, similar to what she sounded like in the recovery room when they put her on oxygen. I gave the recovery room a call and they said to go to the nearest ER. Eric wanted to go to one of his hospitals because we get a discount, so we drove out, and when we got there, she was hardly wheezing. We checked in anyway, and as she started running around with Vivi, she started wheezing again. I started making small talk with the people around us and found out that the people next to me had been waiting for 2 1/2 hours. Yikes! We tried to wait it out anyway, I was hoping that her surgery the day before might bump us up on the list. But by the time we hit our 2 hour mark, Journey fell asleep and wasn't wheezing much, so we decided to just go home and call the pediatrician in the morning. The next morning she was wheezing again, so I called the pediatrician, but they couldn't get us in until later that afternoon. Of course as soon as the appointment was made, she stopped wheezing and hasn't wheezed since :)

We went out to lunch with my mom and while Journey was sitting in the high chair playing, she somehow got her bandage off of her right hand and her incision was bleeding. She suddenly burst into tears and was shaking from the pain. There was too much blood on the incision to tell where exactly it was coming from, so, again, I called the clinic. Just the day before, I had been given a look and told that it wasn't going to bleed. When I got my call back, I spoke with someone on behalf of the doctor, and explained what happened again. She said

Nurse "ok, so I guess when you were here yesterday there was some kind of disagreement with how much blood you thought there was and what the dr. saw."

Me "No, there was a disagreement with how well covered her hands should be-she wanted to put a bandaid on it and I wanted something more protected since she just started walking and falls a lot."

Nurse "The dr. says you told her that your husband passes out at the sight of blood, so maybe it isn't as bad as you think."

Me "I just said that as another reason her hands should be well wrapped, and that doesn't even matter, my husband isn't here and there is blood dripping down her hand!"

Nurse "Ok, how much blood is it?"

Me "I don't know! It's soaking through the napkin I have over it. The dr told me it wasn't going to bleed so I just wanted to call and make sure everything was ok"

Nurse "Is it soaking the entire napkin?" (this was said in what sounded like an almost sarcastic voice). I described how much blood I saw and she went to talk to the doctor.

Nurse "Ok, the dr says all they did was release the amniotic bands, they didn't do any deep cutting that would cause bleeding."

Me "This is her right hand, where they DID have to cut down into her hand. She needed a skin graft. And she IS bleeding!"

So apparently they thought I was some crazy mother who enjoys calling doctors while holding screaming children! She ended up saying "well we are open until 4:30 so if you can get here before then we'll take a look". But she totally sounded like she didn't even believe me. I was livid! I had Eric meet me at the restaurant and we were going to go up to the hospital, but by the time he got there, she had pretty much stopped bleeding and wasn't acting like she was in a lot of pain anymore. I told Eric what had happened and he was mad too, so we decided to just wrap it up at home and Eric called and cancelled our appointment for that afternoon and our post-op appointment and asked for the dr to call him personally.

When the dr called him back, he told her that we were going to find another doctor who would treat his patients and their parents with respect and that we shouldn't have had to PROVE that she was actually bleeding before they would agree to see us. She sounded like she actually didn't understand why we were mad, and kept arguing that we were welcome to come in to the clinic any time if we had questions. Did you get that message from the above conversation? I didn't either! Then he told her that we could have avoided this whole thing if she had just done the hard casts she said she was going to do. She said "we never do hard casts, we always do the soft casts" (hello?? 3 weeks before she was the one who told me about the hard casts!) Eric said "well that might work for most of your patients, but it doesn't make sense at all for an 18 month old!" She was still acting totally oblivious and never even apologized for how we felt. Eventually she said we could come in and get hard casts if that was what we really wanted, after Eric had said multiple times that we would not be coming back. He finally just said "ok, we are finding another doctor, thank you for your time" and hung up.

So...we are now a family without a hand surgeon. Maybe canceling the post-op was a bad choice. Obviously we want someone to check her hands and make sure everything is healing right. I have a friend in Ohio whose daughter had hand surgery recently, and they go to the best guy in the state. She mentioned us at her daughter's appointment the other day and he said he gets a couple of patients a month from our surgeon because people are unhappy with after care. He said we could give him a call, so we are going to do that today and maybe we'll be making a trip to Ohio for her next surgery.

This was so not the week I had planned! But, Journey is feeling much better and isn't taking pain meds every 4 hours around the clock anymore, just 2 or 3 times a day. She doesn't like having her bandages changed, but loves moving her fingers independently and looks so amused by that!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vivi 'reads' her favorite book

This movie is actually a couple of months old but it's just too cute not to share :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Journey's hand surgery update

Ok my plan had been to post pictures of her hands and describe the procedure before she actually had it, but I never found the time, so I'll just post my update.

The morning of the surgery we were instructed to bathe Journey with antibacterial soap. She also had to take her medicine before the 7am no liquids deadline. Vivi woke up and wanted to take a bath too. I had slowly started telling Vivi about the surgery over the last few days, her favorite line that she liked to repeat was "Journey maybe a little bit of grumpy" (after the surgery). While they were in the bath I was telling Vivi more about what we were going to do and what to expect, and she started getting a little concerned about her sister. I took this video of them playing, a last glimpse of Journey using her fused fingers:

During the video you hear Vivi asking if she was going to have surgery too. I assured her that she wasn't, just Journey, and that she would play with Daddy and Nana and Bapa while I took Journey back, and then I would come back and play and Journey would stay with the doctors. She didn't like the sound of that and started demanding that she go with Journey too. My sweet girl!

We checked into the hospital and went into the pre-op room where she was weighed, measured, vitals checked, and her arms were marked. We put her in a hospital gown and then we waited. My parents came to help with Vivi and we spent a lot of time in the little toy room they have in pre-op. As soon as we went into the pre-op area, even though it was a different hospital, Journey knew what was going on and started getting upset. It probably didn't help that she had her eye procedure just a month ago and recognized the room as a place where she was going to get poked and prodded. Vivi was a little bit worried about Journey's fussing and was telling everyone "Journey sad!" but then she got busy with the toys and felt better :)

Because she was so upset and because of the recent adoption, they recommended a medication they give to help calm the patient down. The oral medication had dye in it, which we found out she seems to be intolerant to, but they had a nasal one that was dye free, so she got that one. The surgeons and anesthesia came to talk to us, and pretty soon it was time to go back. The nurse said they would just come and take her, but I asked to go back. She didn't seem to want me to, but I mentioned that I did it with her last surgery, so she went and told anesthesia, who came over and said "are you sure? You saw it before, and you were ok with the eyes rolling back and the arms going limp?" I don't recall being given a choice at the other hospital, it seemed like all the parents went back. I assured them I was fine and they got me a suit, hair net, and mask to wear. I carried her down to the OR and held her hand while they put the mask on and she fell asleep. The calming medicine had definitely worked because she didn't get all upset or fight like she did last time.

I was escorted back to pre-op and then we went down to the family waiting room. I told everyone else to go get some food and I was going to just wait there. I checked in at the desk and was given a cell phone to hold, and she said "just let me know if you're going somewhere". Yeah technology! We all went down and ate, then wandered back up and my sister had just gotten there. Vivi loved having her favorite family members all to herself :)

We hung out in the waiting room for awhile, and then the doctor who works with the main surgeon came out and told us that the surgery was over and had gone really well, and it had gone so well that she didn't think she needed the hard casts, so she just put on soft bandages. She also said we didn't need to wait a full 2 weeks for her post-op appointment and changed it to one week. All good news! She said we  would get to see her in about an hour, so we hung out a little longer, then Eric, my mom and sister took Vivi down to get lunch. Not long after they left, they came and asked if we were ready to see her.

She was crying when we got there and a nurse was rocking her, trying to calm her down. After I took her and sat in the chair, she fussed for awhile and then calmed down and fell asleep. Her breathing was a little funny and the alarm with the red light that was on her toe went off a couple of times, so they decided to give her some oxygen. Pretty soon she was doing better and we were moved from phase 1 post-op to phase 2, which was quieter and the chair was more comfy :). Everyone was able to come back and see her in phase 2, and Journey started perking up a little. Her face the first time she realized that her arm was all bandaged was priceless, her eyebrows went up and she was rotating her arm and moving it and looked surprised that the bandage moved with her arm.

We were instructed on after care and they gave us a form with the numbers to call if we had a problem. They weren't able to give her any tylenol or other meds there because they didn't have any that didn't have dye...which surprised me at a children's hospital. Journey drank a juice box and I even got a few smiles out of her. After awhile, we were discharged and were ready to head home.

***To be continued***

Saturday, September 10, 2011

2 days and counting...

Journey's big surgery is on Monday. It's funny, we knew when we accepted her referral way back in November that she would need surgery. It was something we've known for so long, we didn't really think much about it. We were thinking for months about getting her home and getting her help and for her to finally have separated, individual fingers. I was excited to have a surgery date and to start the count down. Now that the countdown is almost over, I've started thinking about other things, like recovery. Things that never occurred to me, even though they were sort of obvious. We learned at her pre-op appointment that she would have casts on both arms going up past her elbows. I had thought about how that would annoy her, having her hands and arms immobilized. She's so independent. I had thought about how she would need help eating and that bathing her would be a 2 person job because she loves to splash. I really wanted her to start walking before the surgery, (which she is, like a pro :) so she could be mobile even with the casts.

Now I'm starting to plan my week, and realizing that she probably won't fit into any of her clothes. Besides toddler shirt sleeves tending to be kind of tight, and she is a little chubby to begin with, she will have casts up past her elbows. Trying to get 2 casted arms into a shirt is probably not going to be easy. Not that I'll really want to take her out of the house much, I'll look like the mom of the year with a baby with 2 casted arms!

The nurses and other medical staff I have spoken with have been very gentle with me, making sure I don't have any unanswered questions and assuring me that it will be ok. And maybe it's just because I knew she would have this surgery before I knew she would be my daughter (which was really only a split second ;) but I'm not really nervous about this. I know surgery always has risks, and the recovery won't be easy on her (or on me!) but I know it will be ok. She is amazing and overcomes every obstacle with flying colors and a great attitude and I know she'll do great with this.

My new countdown is about 2 1/2 weeks from now, when we go to her post op appointment and get to see her fingers all separated and working!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy September!

It's come down to this...September may just be our craziest month yet. The house is slowly getting done...slowly...but getting there. Through some sort of miracle, our lease goes through the end of October, not the end of September like we thought, so that at least buy us some more time to get completely moved. However, Jebriel could come home as soon as the 4th week of September and we don't want to move him twice, so we are still feeling a little rushed.

We've been doing a lot of painting, the girls' room is lavender, and Jeb's room is a light blue. The kitchen is a lovely shade of copper, which I think goes nicely with the warm cherry cabinets we picked. The doors will go on after the countertops, which supposedly should be going in this week...

I was going to do some painting in Jebriel's room and had just put a fresh white roller on the handle, but I had a question for Eric so I went into the other room where he was playing with the girls. Vivi looked up at the roller, her whole face lit up, and she said "I like to try that marshmallow!" She had such excitement in her voice, I felt bad telling her it wasn't a marshmallow :)

We ended up changing our minds about the bedrooms-we were going to give the girls the master bedroom and use it for toy storage too, but they have a tendency to get into things and it interferes with nap time, so we are going to do a more Montessori style bedroom instead. They are getting the small room, and it will just have their beds, a small bookshelf, a mirror, and hooks to hang a couple of different outfits for them to choose from. They can bring toys in to play during the day but at nap and bed time there will only be books and the couple of stuffed animals they like to sleep with. We'll see how that goes :)

The countdown for Journey's hand surgery is on, she has 10 more days of fused fingers, then she'll have 2 weeks in big casts. After that I don't know if she'll still have small casts for awhile or not, but she should have 10 working fingers by Thanksgiving for sure :) A lot of people have asked, so I'll get pictures of her hands and try to explain the procedure as best I can.

Vivi's excitement for the month is that she starts dance class. She has her leotards, tights, and shoes, and has been asking constantly when she will go to dance class. She can't wait to be a 'bawa yeena' :)

And other than that, we're pretty much packing boxes, moving boxes, and doing painting, cleaning, and other little chores at the new house. Everyone knows us at Home Depot because we are there multiple times a week getting paint, lighting, etc. We are SO looking forward to the day that Eric can come home from work and we can eat a relaxing dinner without rushing off to the new house or Home Depot right after dinner every. Single. Day.

So, bring it on September! We're ready for you!