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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

hello blogging world.

Life has been busy in the Palmer household, but good. December 1st hitting was like a breath of fresh air for me. November and the months leading up to it were rough, but after getting past I&P's birthday, I have begun to feel better.

Owen is a bundle of fun. He's learning new things constantly. I love that he's starting to like activities and projects. For part of his Christmas this year, I've been doing a crafty advent with him. I planned out all of the activities and put together a little kit for each day. I found these cute kraft bags at Hobby Lobby and put the items for each day in a labeled bag. It's made it fun and incredibly easy. We open a bag every day and do the activity inside. Owen caught on to the whole process pretty quickly and now when I pull out a bag, he runs to his table and clears it off so he's ready to go.

These are the activities we've done so far-

Day 1: contact paper snowmen & cotton balls


Day 2: painting ornaments



 Day 3: gingerbread playdough

Day 4: macaroni noodle stars

Day 5: felt Christmas tree


Day 6: Christmas tree decorating


Day 7: bell sorting


Day 8: snowflake painting


Day 9: waterless snowglobe

Day 10: pom play

Day 11: wrapping paper play

Day 12: construction paper Christmas tree

Day 13: paper plate ornament

Day 14: push pom box

Day 15: painting with watercolors 

Day 16: pom wreath sorting

Today we're decorating ice-cream cones as Christmas trees. Doing these activities has given me a good idea of what kinds of activities Owen enjoys and where his fine motor skills are. It's also made me want to do more activities with him after Christmas. I'm so excited that he's getting to an age where he can do these kinds of activities. 

One of the highlights of our month is that Owen has been cleared to catch up on his vaccinations! We originally didn't think it would happen until he was a year past his last chemo, so it was a nice surprise. Owen had to get six shots at once when we went in, super grateful we could do it but I felt really bad for my baby. He handled it pretty well though and I took him for a fun lunch to McDonalds when we were done. He was also weighed and measured. He's still in the 97th percentile for height, 90th for head size, and 80th for weight. He's a super healthy kid if you don't count the cancer. He's also starting speech therapy this week (tomorrow!) Hopefully it will help him. I really think if he can communicate with us better, it will be less frustrating for all of us and mean less meltdowns for Owe-bug. 


 

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season! 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

three.

Dear Isaac and Porter,

I'm writing this a little early. Your birthday is in three days and as it draws closer, I'm finding it harder and harder to function. I worked last night because I'm taking Sunday off. I wish I was taking it off so that I could spend the whole day cuddling you, singing happy birthday, making you cake, and watching you open presents. Instead, I'm taking it because I can't handle being in the place where you died.

Last night when I returned home from work, I did something I work very hard not to do. I imagined what it would be like if you were both here. I thought about you interacting with me, your daddy, and especially Owen. I wondered how tall you would both be. What your interests would be. I thought about you calling me mama. I thought about tickling you, kissing you, and being able to hold you.

So many things that I'm missing.

I didn't realize when I lost you that I'd lose you over and over and over again.

Every birthday I lose you again. Three years ago I lost my newborns, this week I'm losing my pre-schoolers.

Owen has become more and more interested in you lately. I believe he has more of a connection and relationship to you than I understand. When I wear my I&P necklace, he plays with it. He looks at the charms and listens to me explain what they mean. He's also been getting into the photo album more and more. I want him to be able to look at your pictures, but I worry about something happening to the original photos so I made him a book of his own. I hope that he always feels a connection to you as he grows older. And I hope that you continue to watch over him and protect him.

We are grateful for you. We are grateful for your lives and the lessons you taught us. Most of all, we are just grateful that you're ours. The reason we hurt is because we miss you so much, but we would never change having you. If we could change anything, we'd just have you with us instead ;)

Happy Birthday sweet boys. If they have cake in heaven (would it be heaven without cake??), eat some for the three of us missing and loving you from down here.

Love, Mama

Monday, October 13, 2014

Isaac and Porter were born via emergency c-section. They were born at 3:04 and 3:06 a.m.. When the doctor was trying to decide if the flutter we were seeing on the ultrasound screen was Isaac’s heartbeat or my own and discussing with the nurse how we should proceed, I asked if we could do a c-section just in case. To give him a shot. From the time I gave my verbal approval to perform the c-section and Isaac being born was less than ten minutes. I remember lying on the OR table with people rushing around me to get me prepped. I was shivering and waiting for Jacob, worried that he wouldn’t be able to find me. The last thing I remember before I went under was the nurse assuring me that he would be there.

After Isaac was born, he was taken into the resuscitation room where Jacob was waiting. The doctors worked on him for ten minutes, trying to get his heart to start again, before asking Jacob for approval to stop.

A few days ago I walked into that resuscitation room. I was taking a tour of the labor and delivery department as part of my job at the hospital. I didn’t think about that room until I was already inside of it. As I stood there, I wondered which bed my baby was laid on. I wondered how my sweet husband felt as he watched the doctors desperately try to save his son. I wondered how he felt as he waited, alone, for our parents to arrive at the hospital.

I don’t think about those moments very much. I try not to. I was asleep during that time, which I consider a blessing. I don’t know that I physically would have survived the aftermath of that day if I had been conscious while it was happening.

I have avoided that department at work. As I’ve thought about what kind of nurse I want to be, I’ve always crossed labor and delivery off.

But yesterday I happened to be in the hall when a baby was born. I heard the first cry. It was absolutely miraculous and I wondered why anyone would want to be anywhere else.

I’m starting to consider that working as a labor and delivery nurse might be where I want to end up. There would be many, many good moments. And some really, really awful. I’m not sure yet if the awful is something I can handle. I do know that strong nurses are needed in those moments. I still remember how kind and helpful the nurses were to me. It was a nurse that told me over and over that Isaac had passed away (the c-section drugs made it hard for me to retain information). It was a nurse that sat next to me and showed me my gorgeous, perfect, tiny son. It was a nurse that tenderly wrapped my Porter in a blanket so we could hold him also.

I sometimes wonder about the nurses we had that day. I’m not sure that they realize how big of a difference they made for us. I hope that no matter what kind of nurse I end up being, I can make a difference for someone.

Friday, October 10, 2014

EUA.

Owen’s still asleep (11:36 a.m.). Obviously the past few days wore him out as much as they did me... or more. Let’s be honest, as tough as it is for me to travel alone with him and do all of these appointments, he’s the one that actually goes under anesthesia. So if we’re handing out tiredness awards, Owen gets one first.

I thought I would update before he wakes up.

We flew to LA on a late-ish flight Wednesday night. There were a bazillion other kids on the flight (going to Disneyland). I decided to bring our pack n play this time since I wasn’t sure our room at the RMH was going to come through and I didn’t want to be stuck sharing a bed with the Owenantor again.

Owen is mobile, but doesn’t always go the direction I want him to go. And when he gets tired, he just sits down. Wherever we are. But when he’s carried, he doesn’t always want to be carried so he lunges himself out of my arms to get down. As quickly as possible.

That occupied my left arm.

I put the diaper bag on my back.

My right arm was occupied with the rolling suitcase and the pack n play, balanced on top. I really should have practiced that little combination before I took them to the airport, but I think it will suffice to say, it doesn’t work well.

Next time the pack n play stays home.

We met kind people along the way. People that helped with our bags, gave us money for dinner, and helped load the car. The Long Beach airport is just full of kind people. Employees and travelers alike. It’s always such a good experience flying in there. Even when I’m frazzled and exhausted.

Thursday, Owen had his EUA.

He played happily in the waiting room until it was time to go back. The other families there were all Retinoblastoma families and we had some good conversations. Owen went up to one lady and just sat in her lap (he’s not shy). and the other kids played really nicely with him.

His results were great, his tumor still looks very dead and the scarring is looking better than his doctor expected. Our next visit will be in 6 weeks.

Owen woke up from anesthesia more quickly than he normally does. The longer a person can sleep after being put under, the better they wake up feeling. I could definitely see the effect of waking up too early yesterday. Owen was very, very upset. He usually wakes up and drinks his juice right away and is calm (as long as you don’t take the juice away). Yesterday he cried for a good twenty minutes before I could get him to calm down long enough to drink the juice. I felt awful. Every time I tried to shift him so I could give him the juice box, he would think I was putting him down and freak out. I cannot tell you how much mommy guilt comes from your child being terrified that you’re going to put them down and send them into surgery again.

After I got him calmed down, he drank his juice and we were discharged. We were running a little late, so we headed for the airport as quickly as we could. We ended up returning the rental car on time and getting to our gate twenty minutes before boarding. Just enough time to grab some food before we got on. Once again I was so grateful for the Long Beach airport. It’s small enough that we could grab food and eat and still hear the announcements for our gate.

Owen didn’t sleep on the way home either (he usually sleeps during flights), but he was entertained with a combination of Sesame Street, snacks, cars, and his sticker book. The people on the flight were very kind and the lady sitting next to us even helped get our bag off the plane after we landed.

We finally made it home a little after nine last night. Owen went straight to bed.

I’m exhausted. My arms feel like someone tried to tear them off while I slept. I would like to take a few lazy days to recover from our trip, but I work the next three nights. I keep feeling like at some point we should get used to this traveling. Sometimes I think we are, but the past few days were very exhausting. I’m grateful for O’s results and pray that they keep going in that direction. Between now and the next LA trip he’ll have an MRI, hearing test, oncology visit, and possibly some therapy visits. He puts up with a lot.









Owen’s left eye. The big black spot is his central vision.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The weeks fly by incredibly fast. Owen has another EUA on Thursday. I finally feel like we’re in a good rhythm when we travel on our own. Last time we flew out Wednesday and flew home Thursday as soon as we left the hospital, it was nice to be only be gone for one night. Owen is also due for an MRI and hearing test, but those will happen here in a few weeks. If his hearing hasn’t been affected by chemo, we’ll probably have him evaluated for speech.

Yesterday Owen was playing in the kitchen and I had the realization that he’s a full blown toddler and not so much baby anymore. He’s pretty good at communicating what he wants (even though he’s not speaking) and he definitely has opinions. This morning I was washing dishes and heard him grumbling by the baby gate. I walked around the corner to see him holding up his bag of mega blocks, angry because he couldn’t unzip the package to get them out.

He loves to play outside and at the park. His favorite thing to do in the yard is play in the dirt or with the hose. At the park he loves climbing up and sliding down the slides and playing with the wood chips. He also gets excited when other kids are around.

He loves books. We haven’t been to the library in a few weeks because I’m worried about the virus going around, but he has lots of books to entertain him at home too.

He also loves playing with anything kitchen. He plays with his play food and supplies and when we let him play in the kitchen, he pulls out the pans and bowls and plays for as long as we’re in there. He also loves to help when we cook. We lift him up and let him stir, and yesterday I found him trying to add ingredients to a pot on the stove (yikes!) Jacob joked that he’s going to ask Santa for a zester.

Owen desperately needs a haircut. I haven’t done anything to it since he started chemo again and since he stopped I’ve hesitated because chemo left him with a huge bald spot on the back of his head. He’s starting to look mulletish though, so it’s time. I’m trying to be more self sufficient (read: spend less money), so I ordered hair clippers. Once I experiment enough on O, maybe I’ll be confident enough to do Jacobs. Maybe youtube will help me out. Hair cuts are expensive! I understand why my mom always did it herself.

I’m including a slew of pictures from the past 4 weeks. Starting with our EUA and then the stuff that’s more fun :) Owen sat all by himself for his vitals at his last appointment, then hopped down and got on the scale. He knows the routine and he’s big enough to follow it himself, that blew me away. Where did my baby go??

If you want to see pictures of this adorable little man on a daily basis, follow me on instagram. Kimberlypalmer :)