It Has Been A Rough Year

Again, I find myself neglecting this page and my duty/responsibility/desire to post here. If you read my last post you know that my wife and I welcomed our second child into our lives about a year ago. Having two kids if a huge change compared to having one, you’d think, “well we did it once it should be a piece of cake, right?” wrong. Having a 6 year old and a new born is a level of nuts I didn’t think possible. TK is frustrated with everything that has to happen with #2 because it doesn’t involve her. If #2 needs to go to the doctor for a check up, TK is mad because the doctor isn’t paying attention to her, if #2 gets a shot, TK wants one to (until the actual shot arrives, then it’s all tears).

Add to this, my father’s health. In March of last year my dad got sick, his kidneys weren’t working correctly and he was retaining water in his legs. It was either his heart starting to shut down that caused his kidneys to stop working or his kidneys not working that caused his heart st start failing, it depends on whether you were talking to the heart or kidney specialist. He spent a week and a half in the hospital and they got 7 gallons of fluid out of him in that time, my sister did the math and it was about 60 lbs. of weight they got off of him. He came home and was given instructions to follow, cut out the salt, cut out the soda, start moving more, and start eating better. To his credit, he did almost all of those things.

He started small with exercising, he would walk from his front door to the end of the block, about 3 houses, and back home. Once he felt stronger and more confident he started walking to the corner and back then a couple of houses down and back home. After a month he was walking around the block, and a few weeks later it was two blocks. He was losing weight , he was eating better, he was moving more, but he didnt cut out the pop, he cut back but not out. But he was doing better so that was good.

Then, in August, something changed, he started losing his balance, he was shaky and forgetful. After a day of this my mom decided he needs to go to the hospital. He had an infection, he was still retaining water in his legs and this becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, and that caused the infection. the doctors looked at all of this and decided that even though he had made good changed and good progress, it wasn’t enough and his kidneys were still not working at their full capacity, it was time for him to go on dialysis.

If you or a family member is on dialysis you know that the place you go to have it done can be a very depressing place. My dad’s doctor, unbeknownst to my dad, put him on a low level antidepressant, my mom just put it into his daily pill box and didn’t tell him what it was or what it was for. He went to the dialysis center three days a week for about 5 hours a day. My mom took him for the first month but after that it got difficult for her to get in and out of the car and help him get in and out of the car, so my younger sister and I were asked to help out. I would drop TK off at school at 8 am and then head to my parent’s house with #2. #2 and I would hang out for an hour and then I would load him and my dad into the car and head to the dialysis center, I’d help him into the car and help him out, the dialysis mad his legs hurt and feel weak. when he was done, my sister would pick him up and take him back home.

After a couple of weeks in dialysis dad got sick again, same symptoms as before, he would lose his balance and fall down, he’d get shaky, he was loopy and forgetful. After a day of this my mom took him to the hospital again, it was another infection. He was able to get his dialysis in the hospital and after a week he was better and out of the hospital and back home. We went back to our usual schedule. After a week or so, my dad noticed that his legs were “leaking”. He would get, what looked like, a small blister on his shin or calf, after a day or two the “blister” would pop and fluid would come out, and fluid would just keep coming out of it. Eventually a sore would develop and he’d try and bandage it up, but the fluid would soak the bandage making the sore worse. This led to another infection and another trip to the hospital.

The doctors got him fixed up again and after a week in the hospital he was sent home. This time he was given a home wound care nurse who would come every other day and a physical therapist that came twice a week. The PT got him waling better and got his legs stronger, and the wound care nurse got his legs to heal up. At one point we celebrated the fact that he was able to get into my car with no help for the first time since I started driving him to dialysis, that was a good day. But a couple of weeks later, the same symptoms came back, and he was back in the hospital.

This was the pattern from August until February. He would feel good, he would fall, he would get shaky, he’d get loopy and forgetful, he would go to the hospital, he’d get better, he’d come out, he’d feel good. In late December the sores on his legs came back and his days would get longer, he would go to dialysis at 9am, and my uncle would pick him up (my sister had to go back to work so dad, begrudgingly, asked his brother to help) around 2pm and take him to the wound care specialist at the hospital who would clean his legs and change his bandages and then my uncle would take him home around 5pm. But other than that change the pattern continued.

In February he got sick again, is seemed different, worse, than before. We had to call an ambulance because his legs had gotten so weak we didn’t think that my older sister and I would be able to get him out to one of our cars.

After a week in the hospital, he wasn’t showing any signs of getting better. He had stopped eating and was becoming incoherent. One day he pulled out his feeding tube and IV and pulled all of the monitoring cables off and refused to let the nurses put them back on until my mom get there and calmed him down. The next day my mom called my sisters and I together and discussed what she wanted to do. She said that he wanted to die and she was going to let him. My older sister was not having it, she said that the doctors hadn’t done anything different to treat this and until they did she didn’t want to let him go, my younger sister agreed. I barely got a word in edgewise, but I felt that the infection, which made him loopy, and the fact that he went off his antidepressants cold turkey were not a good combination for my dad, mentally, and that I didn’t want to give up on him yet. My mom listened to us and the next day told the doctors that she wanted them to try and treat this more aggressively.  That afternoon they tried a different antibiotic than they were currently using, one that treated a broader spectrum of viruses.

The next morning he seemed to be doing better, he was more lucid, he didn’t fight the feeding tube, he seemed to respond to us better, and seemed more alert. I had spent the last few days bouncing between my kids at home and the hospital, I would talk to whoever was at the hospital once #2 went down for his nap, get the update and the plan for the day, and then once TW got home from work I would head to the hospital and stay until 10 or 11pm then head home and repeat the process again the next day.

Two days after starting the new antibiotics I was at home, I had just put #2 down for his nap, and was going to make a sandwich when my phone rang. It was my older sister, my younger sister took my mom home at about 8 that morning, she went back to the hospital and at about 10:45, right before I put #2 down for a nap, my dad’s blood pressure dropped, it was something like 50 over 20. The ICU crash team was sent to his room and my younger sister called my older sister because my older sister was the main decision maker after my mom and my mom was not answering the phone because she finally got to sleep after almost 48 hours of on and off dozing at the hospital with my dad. OS told mt to go to mom’s house an wake her up, don’t bother calling, just go and get her and bring her to the hospital, things weren’t looking good.

I woke #2 up and drove to my mom’s house. I woke her up and told her that we needed to get to the hospital now. While she was getting ready I got a call from TW, she was getting ready to choose our health benefits and wanted my input about a couple of things. I don’t know what I sounded like but it must not have been good, I filled her in on what was happening, she said she would leave work and meet me at the hospital. It was flu season and the hospital wouldn’t allow children under 12 in to see patients, so I couldn’t take #2 up to my dad’s room.

I got my mom loaded into the car and got the hospital, I called YS en route, and told her that she would have to come to the main entrance and pick up mom and that I would be up later after TW came to get #2. I got the hospital a short time later and waited for TW to get there. 15 minutes later TW was in the lot and I was heading to dad’s room. The ICU nurses said that they were going to stay in the room with us until they had a bed ready in the actual ICU, until then they had more authority that the standard nurses  when it comes to medications they can give. We all sat in the room and stared making plans, we needed to get my little brother home from Florida as soon as possible. YS and I searched for the cheapest flights and OS and mom talked to the doctors and nurses. once we found a flight, mom bought his ticket, he’d arrive at 11:45 that evening.

When his bed in the ICU was ready we were told to head to the ICU floor and wait in the family area until the nurses came to get us, it was going to take them a bit to get things set up and to bring the ICU nurse up to speed. they said that once they were don they would come get us. We sat there in the waiting area and tried to stay positive, we tried to keep the atmosphere light, but we all knew that things were going to get serious soon.

Once he was in his room we met with the nurse and planned our next steps. I was going to take OS home, she was gong to leave her car there in case mom needed it, YS was going to pick up LB at the airport and drive him straight to the hospital, mom was going to stay at the hospital, and after dropping OS at home I was going to go home and fill TW in on what had happened, and let her know that we had decided to let dad go. Once LB was there we were going to pull the feeding tube out, stop the meds keeping up his blood pressure, and make him as comfortable as possible until the end.

The next morning that is what we did, I had breakfast with my wife and kids and then headed to the hospital to meet up with my family. My older sister has always been the “smart” on. She was a straight A student from birth, but that morning she said something that made my jaw drop right before bursting out in laughter. The ICU nurse explained what was going to happen, he was going to pull the feeding tube out and stop his medication, he would be able to give morphine every 2 to 3 hours as needed. Mt sister waited until after he had left and asked us when they were going to give him the shot that let him die. Like I said, my jaw dropped, we all looked at her like she had lobsters crawling out of her ears, and then we all laughed at her while explaining to her that it didn’t work that way. It was now a waiting game, we would have to wait until his body quit.

We spent hours in the ICU room, talking, reminiscing, waiting, listening to music, waiting. Until the ICU nurse, whose name escapes me but whose kindness has stayed with me since that day, told us that dad would have to be moved to a hospice room. When we got to the new room and got settled in, a couple of cousins and aunts came to visit. We all sat together and talked and waited. At the end of the day, after everyone had left, we made our plan for the rest of the night. OS and YS were going to stay with dad, I was going to take mom and LB to mom and dad’s house so they could get some sleep, and I was going to head back home and update TW.

The next morning, I was woken up by TW’s phone going off. I left my phone on vibrate the night before and didn’t hear it go off when YS called. She called TW and she put the call on speaker and there, lying in bed with my wife and kids on a sunny Sunday morning, we all found out that my dad passed away a half hour before they called us.

It Has Been A Rough Year, Part 2.

      After the phone call telling me of the loss of my father, I got out of bed, got dressed, made a cup of coffee and drove to the hospital (hopefully for the last time for a while). I got to the room and my mom and LB had just gotten there. Dad looked as he did when I left the night before, if you didn’t notice his chest not moving any more you’d swear he was still alive.

      Now, I forgot to mention in the last post that my mom, being extremely sleep deprived from unsuccessfully trying to sleep in the hospital, had told us that the day they started the new antibiotics she started hearing music playing in her head. Random songs with no real connection to anything just started playing in her head. She said that she woke up from a light sleep and it sounded like a record had just started playing, that staticish sound that you hear before and after a record plays, and then the music started. A couple of times I cough the singing along with the music and a couple of times she told us what song was playing and would sing with it. I would jokingly ask her what was playing on KMOM from time to time, she would hold a hand over her right ear and bop her head a bit and give me the name of whatever song she was hearing.

      When I got settled in the room I asked mom what song was playing now, she said that the music finally stopped. She said that she walked into the room that morning and sat down next to my dad, she said that When The Saints Go Marching In played in her head and as soon as it was done she hears the staticy sound that comes at the end of a record and then the music just stopped.

      We all sat in the room together for a while, talking and just spending time together. after a bit mom spoke up and suggested finally getting out of the hospital. We decided to head to a restaurant down the street that dad liked and grab some breakfast and discuss what we need to do next. My sisters started planning and assigning jobs the second we sat down, LB and I just sat drinking coffee waiting to be told what to do. My mom was somewhere in the middle knowing that there is a lot that needs to get done and not wanting to do any of it. 

      I left that restaurant with a list of calls to make and people to talk to from my sisters and a list of friends that I needed to call as well. I called TW as I was leaving and let her know that we were heading to mom and dad’s house and asked her if she would bring the kids, I know that they would make for a wonderful distraction for my mom. She said that she would and, as soon as I got off the phone with her, I called my friend that became a priest about 10 years ago. I had to talk to him because he was my friend but also because we wanted a priest that, at least, knew the family to do the mass for my dad. It was the first of many difficult calls I had to make, and receive, that day. 

     The wake and funeral went as well as can be expected, a lot of tears, some laughs, a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a while. Sorry to gloss over all of that, it just isn’t something  I’m ready to write about yet. My mom got a notice in the mail a couple of days ago letting us know that dad’s headstone had been placed, his birthday is in a couple of weeks and I know that I’m not ready to see it but I know I have to go.   

 

 

Been A While

It has been a while since I have posted anything. After what TW and I went through with her second pregnancy things were tense with the third. All of that added tension, and all the fun and excitement of pregnancy in general, had my focus elsewhere.

I am happy to say that, aside from a couple months dealing with gestational diabetes, my wife’s pregnancy went well and at the end of February she gave birth to a baby boy! For the purpose of this blog he had been dubbed #2.

The day before he was born we had a check up, just a quick NST and a quicker discussion with the baby doc. At this point we were less than a week away from TW’a due date and the doc was planning on inducing her 5 days from this visit. During the NST #2’s heart rate dropped, this was the first time anything like that happened during a visit for him. The doctor reassured us that everything was ok and did a quick ultrasound just to make sure. Everything looked good and the doc told us not to worry and the everything was fine.

Naturally TW was still concerned but eventually calmed down a bit. I tend to trust the doctors a bit more, if he days not to worry, I don’t worry.

The next day started like all of the others, TW got up and headed to work, TK and I got up and ready, then TK headed off to preschool and I got to enjoy a couple of hours of quiet while doing laundry and some other household responsibilities. Around noon TW called, I was a bit concerned at first mostly because she usually just texts. She said that she got a call from the baby doc, he wanted her to come in for another NST that afternoon, he just wanted to make sure that nothing was wrong.

TW also told me that she was pretty sure that she was having contractions. She thought they might be false alarms because they were irregular and had a bunch of stuff she needed to finish up at work since her induction was planned for the next week. She told me when the appointment was and I told her that TK and I would meet her at the office.

We get to the baby doc’s and TW says that the contractions are coming a little more regularly now. We go in for the NST and she tells the nurse that she thinks she’s having contractions, the nurse says ok and we start the NST. 15 minutes later she comes in to check on things and sure enough the sheet shows the contractions are coming pretty regularly. We go in and see the baby doc and he looks at everything and does a quick check under the hood and tells us that #2 is ready to arrive and that he’ll meet us at the hospital.

We make some quick arrangement for my sister to come and grab TK and TW’s car and head over to the hospital.

We get there and into the room. TW just wants her epidural and to have the baby but we have to wait for her to get an IV bag of fluids into her first. The first nurse can’t get the IV in so we have to wait for another nurse to arrive, that one got the IV on the second try. Once the fluids are in they call for the anesthesiologist. The same one that gave TW her epidural for TK arrives and I get sent to the waiting room while they give TW the epidural.

In the waiting room I call my folks and let them know how things are going, I text my sister and thank her for the assist, I call my other sister and let her know what’s happening and right before I make a cup of coffee and call my brother a nurse comes into the lounge area. I’m the only one there so she says, “it’s time, you need to get to the room.” I get up and head to the door, when I get to the door the nurse that came to get me starts running down the hallway.

I take off after her, not realizing yet that when she said, “it’s time” that she means the baby is coming right now, not like, “it’s time.” meaning they are done giving the epidural and I can head to the room now.

I open the door and I see 9 nurses in the room, one of them is putting the gown on the baby doc, two are standing near the warming cradle, one is manning the computer, two are unwrapping the supplies, and one is standing next to TW rubbing her back telling everything is fine.

On the bed, just below where TW is sitting, is #2.

The baby doc, now in his gown and gloves calls me over to cut the cord then hands #2 off to the nurses to do their thing. I hand the scissors off to a nurse and post up out of the way next to the warmer and just take it all in. TW asked me three of four times if he is ok, I tell her yes. I do a quick count of fingers, toes, arms, legs, eyes, and ears, everything is where it’s supposed to be. TW is crying now saying over and over that I missed it and asking if he’s ok, enough of the nurses have left allowing me to move a bit easier in the room so I replace the nurse rubbing her back.

A half an hour later, when things have calmed down and it’s just the three of us left in the room, TW tells me what she remembers happening.

The anesthesiologist sat her up to give her the epidural, he gave her an injection of something and right after that TW’s water broke, the nurses checked on things and saw that things were too far along for an epidural and called for the baby doc. She remembers the doc and a couple of nurses coming in, she remembers a nurse telling her not to push yet, and she remembers telling that nurse that she needs to push, then she pushed and #2 was here. It all happened so fast.

I told her what happened on my end. She got a good laugh envisioning me and the nurse running down the hallway.

TK got to come to the hospital the next day to meet her new brother. She was so happy, the smile didn’t leave her face even after I dropped her off at my parent’s house and headed back to the hospital.

Here we are almost 4 months later, TK is adjusting well to being a big sister, TW is back at work, and I am working on getting #2 to hit all of the milestones he’s supposed to hit.

The Specialist and Results

Due to TW’s age, weight, blood pressure during her first pregnancy, how small TK was at birth and what happened with the last pregnancy, the Baby Doc had us consult with a high-risk specialist. We had the first appointment with them yesterday.

The HRS did an ultrasound before we actually sat down to discuss anything. Things are progressing nicely, the HRS said that she size, heartbeat, and other developments are looking good.

TW’s blood pressure was a little high during the pregnancy with TK. We had weekly checks on her blood pressure and TK’s heartbeat. The HRS said that she thinks that we should definitely be checking the baby’s size along with TW’s blood pressure this time.

TK was small at birth, she weighed in at 5 lbs, 13oz when she was delivered and, I think she was only 5lbs 8-9oz when we checked out. She was born 5 days early so her size wasn’t due to her being premature. I did need to run out and find some preemie clothes, all we had were newborn sized and those were very big on her. Today TK is in the 99th percentile in height and weight, she is the tallest kid in her preschool.

The HRS said that everything looked good so far. We didn’t have the results of the genetic screening yet but she did some reassuring. She said that there is a 3% chance of a genetic problem in a normal pregnancy in someone under 35, TW is 40 so the HRS added one percent for age bringing us up to a 4% chance of a problem. She also said that that add 1% more if there was a previous instance, bringing us up to a 5% chance for a genetic problem. Those are pretty good odds in my book, 95% chance of a “normal” baby. TW was still worried because we had a 4% chance with the last pregnancy and ended up with a problem. I am staying cautiously optimistic until we get the results.

In the time it took me to write the bulk of this story we had some good news arrive. We were sitting on the couch watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with TK when TW got a call from and unknown number. Now I don’t know about you, but TW and I don’t answer the phone for numbers we don’t know. If it is important to the caller they will leave a message and if there is no message then it must not have been important. A few minutes after the phone rang her voicemail notification pinged.

The call was from the Baby Doc, the results of the screening came in today and……….

Everything is ok, the screening came back negative for any genetic problems. We have a healthy baby. We have an appointment with the Baby Doc on Tuesday and will be finding out the sex of the baby then, unless the suspense gets to TW and she calls the Doc back sooner.

I feel great right now. This was a major hurdle to get past. Not knowing the results of this screening was preventing me from really getting into “Baby Mode” but now that we have the results I can feel it coming on. I can’t wait to find out the sex so I can start looking for names and clothes and toys and all the other things that are gonna come along with becoming a dad again. I might even celebrate this with a beer or two after TK and TW go to sleep tonight!

One Week

Yesterday marked the second doctors visit and came with a side of ultrasound! The ultrasound went well, it confirmed the due date, we’re looking at mid February if everything goes well.

We heard the heartbeat, the tech said that it sounds good and the rate was normal. I’m really trying not to get too attached yet. Yes, we’re 9 weeks into this, yes the tech didn’t see anything abnormal, yes the doctor said everything looks good so far. But, everything looked good with the last one, until it things stopped looking good.

The doc said that TW could get the genetic screening done during week 10. We have one week to wait until the blood gets drawn for the test. Then we have about two more weeks for the results. This is the big hurtle. If the screening results come back clean then I can stop worrying and start getting attached. I can start planning, and start hoping again.

If the screening comes back showing a problem, we’ll have to start dealing with things. A whole new set of decisions need to be made, a whole different mindset adopted.

I’m really trying not to let the “If’s” and “What If’s” take over my thinking. I mean, the first pregnancy went well, TK was a little small at birth, but she is in the 99th percentile for height and weight now at age 4.

I think that your first time going through this process makes you worry, it’s a new and unique experience. You naturally worry, “Am I ready for this?” “What if …” “How will I …” “Can we handle …”. The second one finds you in a different place, “I am ready for this.” “If ____ happens then we’ll do ____.” “I know how to handle …”.

But for us week 12 was the week that we were handed something we weren’t prepared for. The results of the screening showed a problem and it wasn’t a good one. But TW and I got through it, we dealt with it and took our bumps and bruises and learned that not all pregnancies will be good ones.

So here we are, pregnancy #3, getting screening #3, and waiting for the results. If everything is ok, we know how to proceed. If something is wrong, we know that we will get through it.

On a lighter note, we told TK about her possibly getting a sibling. TW and I discussed it and decided that she needs to know, and if something goes wrong she should know about that too. This way if she see’s me or her mom sad we don’t have to make up a reason and she will understand why we are emotional.

I asked TK last week if she wanted a little brother or a little sister. She thought about it for a second and said that she wants a sister. She thinks it’ll be fun to have a sister to play with and teach and talk to. I asked her how she would feel if we found out she was going to get a little brother. She thought for a second and the scrunched her face up a little and said that she would be disappointed. I asked her if she would be happy or sad if it was a little brother, she said that she would be happy but disappointed.

I’m just hoping that she gets a sibling. We can quibble over everything else later.

First Baby Doc Visit

We had the first visit last night. The doctor said things are looking ok, as far as he can tell at 6 weeks.

We are going for the first ultrasound in three weeks. He went over the usual info, breaking down how often we’ll be visiting, reminding TW about what she can and can eat and do.

The doc joined a different network of doctors since we were last there, he recommended that TW see a high risk specialist due to her age, her last pregnancy, and the fact that TW’s blood pressure got a bit high with TK and how small TK was when she was born.

I sometimes forget how small she was. She was born 5, or so, days early and was 19 inches long and 5lbs 13oz. I remember running out before we took her home and trying to find preemie sized clothes for her. After being out in the world for a few months she gained weight and length (height?) and went from the 10 percentile in size and weight to where she is now in the 95th percentile for height and weight.

The genetic screening had to wait until the 9th week so the doc said that he would discuss and order that when he sees us for the ultrasound.

TW and I are both hoping for better news than last time.

Two Pints of Ice Cream and a Six Pack of Beer

If you were a cashier in a grocery store and a youngish man placed those items on the belt, what would your first thought be? My guess is the answer depends on your age and/or life experience.

For example, if you are an unmarried person with no kids your answer might be, “what an odd combination of items, what would you need with two pints of ice cream and a sixer of beer? Maybe the guy has a weird party he’s heading to, on a Wednesday night.”

Now if you are married or a parent you reaction might be similar to the cashier that I had yesterday when I placed those exact items on the belt. The 50+ year old woman with graying hair looked me right in my tired eyes and said, “Congratulations, is this your first or second child?” To which I politely replied that this was the third pregnancy but will be the second child of everything goes well.

I have written in the past about the problems TW and I faced with the second pregnancy and what ended up happening, you can read that post here. The short version is, we had the genetic testing done and a problem was found, after multiple tests confirming the results of the test, my wife lost the baby.

Now, I know there is all sorts of protocol about that needs to be followed regarding the announcement of a pregnancy, and I know I’m breaking that protocol by saying that TW is pregnant and that she is only about 5 weeks along, but there is a lot of baggage that comes with the first pregnancy after an unsuccessful one and I need to unpack a bit of it. I mean, we haven’t even had the first Baby Doc visit yet, though that will be occurring in a couple of days.

We are both scared. That is the big cloud hanging over us right now, all of the “what if’s” that come with a “normal” pregnancy situation, but with so much more emotion behind them since we have had one successful and one unsuccessful pregnancy. What if they find a problem again? What if it’s worse than the last one (I don’t think it could be, but you never know)? What if there isn’t something wrong and we’re worrying for nothing? What if this pain is the sign of something bad and not psychosomatic? What if the reason TW feels “off” isn’t just normal pregnancy stuff and it’s the sign of something bad? What if the reason TW feels “off” is just normal pregnancy stuff? Is the stress that TW is feeling from work affecting the pregnancy? If the pregnancy the reason she feels more stressed about work? Experience had shown us that anything can happen, that these worries are all justified, these questions are all valid.

A successful pregnancy, the one resulting in the awesomeness that is TK, taught us to roll with the changes and that things will be just fine. A pregnancy has its ups and downs and in a few months they will all be part of the story you tell friends and family when the subject comes up. None of that is gonna matter anyway since you’ll be too busy with the newborn to have a coherent thought for a few months after he/she arrives.

The unsuccessful one taught us this is all out of our hands. It’s like waking into a casino, the odds say you can win or lose, and in reality a casino’s odds are skewed towards the house, but with a pregnancy there is a lot that goes into the odds and depending on those factors the odds can fall either way. We rolled the dice once and won, our daughter is awesome, right now she’s chasing Muttley and Droopy around the house because it’s raining and there is nothing better to do. We rolled the dice a second time and lost. That loss sucked worse that anything else I have ever been through. It is something I, and TW, think of often and still hurts.

Here we are now, the dice have been thrown and we’re waiting to see where they fall.

I’m trying my best not to let the “what if’s” take over. There is a lot of waiting that still needs to happen. Our first step is getting to the Baby Doc, after that we will do the genetic screening again. Then we wait for the results, the results will either be good or bad. If they are good then great we move on to the next steps. If they aren’t good then we move on to the next steps.

We just gotta hurry up and wait.

Heartbreak

There have been many points in my life where I looked at some part of myself and wished it was different. I think this is true of most people, some deal with it better than others. The earliest one I can remember is around junior high, as puberty hit I started to get dark hair on my legs, and it seemed to start at my ankles and work it’s way up. I tried to hide it by pulling my socks up but that drew more attention to my legs and that made me more self conscious. Eventually I accepted that this was me now and it stopped bothering me.

I know that compared to other problems this is insignificant, and that in the grand scheme of things it’s no big deal. At the time though, it was the most difficult thing I had to deal with. And there have been many other instances where I have looked at myself and decided that I needed to change or accept that this is who I am, but this is the first one i remember.

I never, in all of my life, thought that my 4 year old would look at herself and be sad about who she was. I mean, she’s 4, how could she possibly even come close to feeling like that. I had never considered that self image would be something she would even be thinking about yet. I felt that those feelings would come but that it would be later in life when TW and I could help her through it and she would have the ability to understand how to deal with those feelings.

Realizing that I was wrong and hearing the sadness in TK’s voice broke my heart in a way I never thought it could break.

TK and I were driving to the vet to pick Droopy up after getting neutered (don’t even get me started on how hard it was to explain neutering to a 4 year old) and listening to the Moana soundtrack. TK has recently become obsessed with Moana and I added a couple of songs to her playlist on my phone. In the middle of “How Far I’ll Go” TK stops singing and asks me to turn down the radio.

After I turn down the music she says, “Daddy, I don’t like my voice, I don’t wanna sound like this any more. Can I change my voice to sound better?” Cue the heart ache, no parenting book or advice column can prepare you for a question like that. A hundred different reactions fly through my head in the next second as I try to figure out how to respond to this.

Finally I say to her, ” TK, your voice is your own and will change as you get older. You might like how it sounds or you might not, just know that I love the way it sounds, I love the way it sounds when you sing and when you talk, I love all of the different sounds you make and wouldn’t want you to change it at all.” She said, “Ok daddy, I won’t change it. Even though I wanna sound like Moana.” Another shot to the heart. “TK, I think you sound just as good as Moana does, and I love hearing you sing her songs with your own voice.”

That got another ok daddy, and then she asked if I’d turn the music back up. I did and we both kept belting out the songs together. We even continued the car concert after we picked Droopy up from the vet, he even joined in with a few howls of his own.

Lots Of New Stuff

A while back, when we were first starting the potty training process, TW promised TK that she could get a puppy when she starts going #2 in the potty. After many (I mean MEAAAAAAAAAAAANY) weeks and many more accidents including two bathtub accidents and one middle of the bathroom floor accident TK finally went #2 in the potty and the first thing she said was, “yay, now I get a puppy!”

Now when my wife initially made the puppy offer, my jaw hit the floor. I have no problem offering rewards for achievements, we had a prize bucket for TK to choose stuff out of to get her to use the potty initially. She would have to pee, she would tell me, we’d go to the bathroom, she would pee, clean up, wash up, and go and get a potty prize. It was a good system, but she would not do a #2 no matter what the prize was. But a puppy?!?! I thought a puppy was a bit too large of a prize. I was sooo happy when she finally did, I mean, I haven’t been that happy about poop before and probably won’t ever be again. But then we had to make good on the puppy promise.

Muttley’s patience would be tested even further with the addition of another dog into our pack. My patience would be tested training this new addition to our pack. TK would be happy either way. TW would have her patience tested too. When we got Muttley TW was just TGF (The Girlfriend) at the time and only saw Muttley on weekends when we were able to stay at each others places. By the time we moved in together Muttley was the well trained/behaved dog he still is today.  She has had dogs before and knows what it is like house breaking them and moulding them into “good boys” but it has been a few years since she’s had to.

We spent the next few months stalking the Facebook page of the shelter where we got Muttley and finally found one that TW and TK agreed was good. We loaded everyone, including Muttley into the car and headed to the shelter. Once we got there TW started having second thoughts. We left that day without a puppy and with a very angry toddler, TW tried consoling TK but she wasn’t happy at all with the decision not to get the puppy the four of us played with for almost an hour.

A month later TW saw another puppy she liked at the same shelter. Quick side note about this place, they are small and their turnover rate is amazing, they will have a transport come in with 30 dogs on it on a Saturday afternoon and by the time they close 20-25 of those dogs will have been adopted. They post pictures on Friday night of what dogs they are receiving Saturday and people will be in the building an hour before the transport shows taking numbers for the animals they want to see. TW noticed the dog she liked on Saturday afternoon, right around the time the transport showed up, so there wouldn’t be time to run out there and see him before the shelter closed for the day. TW said, “If he is still there on Tuesday, then he was meant to be ours. You ,TK, and Muttley can go ther after TK gets done with school and if he gets along with TK and Muttley and you think he’ll be a good fit we can get him.”

That’s how it happened too, I loaded Muttley into the car when I went to pick TK up from school, we went to she shelter, all three played well together, TW watched via FaceTime, and an hour later we took Droopy home with us.

Droopy has been a ball of crazy energy but is fitting in well. The first week was rough getting him on a potty schedule and there have been many instances and accidents since then but I can say that this is the first accident free week we’ve had since bringing him home. He’ll be getting neutered next month, and microchipped shortly after that. Muttley originally had some territory issues inside the house but since the end first week they have done nothing but play and even ocasionally nap on or next to each other.

We stil have a ways to go to get Droopy to full-time “good boy” status but he’ll get there.

A Holiday Scare

We had a major scare this past weekend.

TW decided that this would be a good weekend to do the Christmas decorating, the weather was nice so I could easily put up the outside lights and my family wasn’t getting together for Thanksgiving because my mom was in the hospital so we’d be well rested enough to put the tree and stuff up. The outside lights went up easy enough, I have a pretty good system in place for doing everything and, since this is my third year doing it, everything went smoothly.

Putting the tree and stuff up is a bit harder, it is all stored in the basement in a storage area under the stairs, we also have more decorations than we have space so some of them are brought back down and put back into storage. To make the process a bit smoother I put Muttley and Droopy in the back yard for the duration, it’s hard enough lugging boxes up stairs without two dogs under your feet. After moving the Halloween decorations out of the way I brought the Christmas boxes upstairs, TW began searching for what she wanted to put up as soon as the first box came up and TK was happier than I have ever seen her. She was literally jumping up and down the whole time I was bringing boxes up, she giggled at every decoration that came out, and wanted to help put every one up, even the ones she couldn’t reach.

We have a fake pre-lit 7 foot tall tree that we got at a wholesale discount store a few years back, it goes up easily, and looks nice enough. I cleaned off the top of our entertainment center and put up my A Christmas Story houses and figures and my Hallmark Peanuts musical light up figures. TW and TK started work on the tree. I took down and carefully wrapped my small brewery growler collection and put our stockings on the shelf that held them. TW put her metal angels up on the remaining area on the entertainment center. We were making good time and I stopped a few times to look out the back window and check on the dogs.

After a while I decided that I would start taking the empty and refilled boxes back downstairs. I want to pause for a second and add this, we have a finished basement. There is a carpeted family room and extra bedroom, a laundry and storage area and a full bathroom as well. The stairs leading to the basement are carpeted as well. At the top of the stairs there used to be a door, the previous owners took it off the hinges and stores it in the storage area in the basement. We decided that keeping the door off made the hallway feel more open so instead of putting the door on we added a semi-permanent Baby gate where the door should be. It is screwed into the door jamb and secured both with a thumb latch and the gate needs to be lifted slightly to open.

I had just finished bringing the last box down to the storage area and was starting to pack the storage room back up when I heard a couple of bangs from upstairs. It sounded like TK had knocked something off the couch or had dropped a couple of things. Then I heard TW call out for TK and figured that TK fell or knocked something down upstairs and TW was getting ready to scold her. But then I heard TK crying. Only she wasn’t crying from upstairs, it sounded like she was crying from the basement. This shouldn’t be possible, I know I latched the baby gate and TK doesn’t know how to open it. I dropped the box I had in my hand and ran to the stairs just in case. As I turned the corner I see TK standing at the bottom of the stairs bawling and red faced. I instantly grab her and sit her on my lap as I sit on the stairs. TW arrived at the stairs st the same time I did and came to the bottom to see if TK was ok.

I just sat there on the stairs and held her while I rocked slowly back and forth telling her, “it’s ok, sweetheart, it’s ok” while hoping that was true. After a couple of minutes she calmed down and I stood her up in front of me, I wiped the tears from her face and asked her what happened. She said, “I don’t know daddy” I asked her if she fell down the stairs, she said, “yes, daddy.” I asked her if she hit her head, she said, “no, daddy I hit my butt.” I asked her where she was hurt and she pointed to her hip. I pulled her shirt up and her pants down and looked at her hip, she had a small red spot. I checked her arms, hands, neck, head, back, and legs and didn’t see any other redness or scrapes or any bruises or bumps starting to form. I fixed her clothes and sat her on my lap and just held her for a bit, TW was sitting on the floor next to the stairs trying not to cry and not doing a very good job at it. I held TK so she wouldn’t see the look of panic on my and TW’s face while we composed ourselves.

After we all calmed down we went back upstairs and TK said she was hungry so we made some lunch. I must have asked her a dozen times if she hit her head and each time she said, “no.” I asked her what happened and she said that a ghost opened the gate and she did a summersault down the stairs. I am pretty sure that my house isn’t haunted so I asked her if it really was a ghost and she said, “no daddy, the gate opened and did two summersaults down the stairs.”

We kept an eye on her, checking for signs of a concussion or any other pain she might be feeling. She said that she felt good every time we asked her. She even reminded us that we planned on going to see a big musical Christmas tree at an outdoor mall not far from where we live. She begged to go and after an hour of listening to the begging we went. She laughed and danced along to the music and was as well behaved as she usually is while we did a little pre-Christmas browsing. And still every time I asked her if she hit her head her answer was no.

She slept well that night and TW and I were sure that she would be feeling some kind of soreness the next day. TK amazed us when she woke up and told us that she felt good and wasn’t sore at all.

This, by far, by leaps and bounds, was, hands down, THE scariest thing that I have been through as a parent. TK seems to be fine, here I sit two days later, and she doesn’t have a single bruise or scratch on her. She was even laughing when she told my mom that she fell down the stairs. TW and I are watching her like a pair of hawks, looking for any signs of any problems and so far we haven’t seen anything.

Kids are resilient and, I’m pretty sure, are made of rubber.