Thursday, June 24, 2010

Four Years Later

Today, Jeramie and I celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. In some ways, it feels like we got married a lifetime ago and, in other ways, it seems as if these four years have gone by way too fast.

I am so very blessed to call Jeramie my husband. He is a hard-working, soft-hearted, romantic, compassionate, helpful, gentle man. Sure, he has flaws and there have been many tearful, hurtful days during our time together, but his ultimate goal is to be the man God created him to be. He loves me and Ethan the best he knows how, and is constantly learning how to be an even better husband and father. For that, I am thankful.

Jeramie is literally making my dreams come true. Before Ethan, I thought there was no way I could or would be a stay-at-home mom. However, I think we've all learned more in the past year and a half than we ever thought possible, and my heart has changed. Being at home with Ethan is all I've wanted ever since I went back to work last August, and Jeramie has stepped-up to the plate. Not only does he go to work everyday and find ways to make more money for his family, but he does it with excitement. The support and encouragement he gives me for staying at home with Ethan is incredible.

I am so lucky to have a husband who not only showers me with thoughtful surprises and expressions of love on our anniversary, but constantly throughout the year as well. I pray that I can show my love to him as easily and freely as he does to me.

I hope that God grants us many, many more years together and that we will continue to stand strong, no matter what may come our way.

Happy anniversary, Jeramie. I love you, and I am honored to be your wife. For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. We are in this together, and there's no where else I'd rather be.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You've got to FIGHT!

(Disclaimer: I've had yet another ridiculous experience with our pediatrician's office. These are my thoughts and opinions only, as I know many parents are very satisfied with the practice. They are not meant, in any way, to sway someone's opinion of the practice or the staff employed there.)

First of all, thanks for all of the comments y'all left on my Facebook post last night! For those who may not have Facebook, I simply asked whether I was being wise or just paranoid for wanting to take Ethan to the doctor for a quick check-up before leaving for vacation this weekend. Jeramie and I had talked about it a bit, and he was torn on whether we should take him in or not, but ultimately agreed that a once-over would be a good idea. You all were very encouraging and made me feel like I wasn't crazy for wanting to request an appointment, unlike the receptionist at our pediatrician's office.

Our conversation went a little something like this:
Me: Hi, I'd like to set-up an appointment for my son [name, date of birth, yadda yadda yadda].
Receptionist: OK, sure. What's going on with Ethan today?
Me: Well, nothing specifically... [explain we're going away for a week and I'd like to have someone lay a medical eye on him before we leave].
Receptionist: So, he doesn't have any symptoms right now?
Me: Well, no.
Receptionist: So, he's not sick?
Me: Well, not acutely. But he's a chronically sick child... [repeat that I just want someone to look him over and give us a clean bill of health].
Receptionist: Hmm. So, you basically just want to make sure he's not getting sick? He doesn't have any symptoms what-so-ever?
Me: No, but would you like me to make one up? Is this a crazy request to you, that I want my son to be examined before we're 150 miles away from the hospital?

*there is a hospital near where we'll be, it's just not Duke if anything serious were to come up*

Receptionist: [sarcastically] Well, what exactly do you want us to look for if he doesn't have any symptoms?
Me: [almost in tears, I'm so mad...about to come through the phone] I'd like for someone to look in his ears and listen to his lungs. He's been on a nebulizer recently, just came off of an antibiotic for a double ear infection, AND we just had to make a Saturday call into the office for dehydration. I'd also like to check his oxygen sats, and if someone just wants to give me the machine, I'll tape it to his toe myself.
Receptionist: [suddenly realizing that I'm serious, and I'm not going to back down] Oh, well OK then honey. When would you like to come in?
I could have spit fire I was so mad (and still am). Will someone please tell me why it took going through all that, with some high and mighty receptionist, to make a simple appointment? Is it an issue with our insurance system? Is it a flaw in the way appointments are scheduled (he's not sick, but it's not a well-visit either)? What is it?!

It's hard enough to have to repeat his entire medical history each and every time we go into that office. It's maddening to have to correct the medications they have listed that HAVEN'T CHANGED from visit to visit. It's emotionally painful to have to repeat OVER and OVER that my child has a feeding tube and I don't really know "how he's eating today". Then, to spend 15 minutes on a phone with a receptionist, trying to justify why I want my child to be seen by a doctor, and being made to feel like an idiot for doing so, is just down-right appalling.

Needless to say, we have an appointment for 10:15 tomorrow morning. And you better believe that they'll hear all I've said in this post and probably a little more. I'll also be requesting information on how to change pediatricians. After much research and many conversations, we have a good lead on a doctor with Raleigh Pediatrics, and we plan to make the transition once we get back from vacation.

For reasons we may never know, Jeramie and I have not yet been afforded the chance to be parents of a healthy child. However, because of this, we've been given a fighting spirit that does not take "no", or any other version of that word, for an answer.

I will fight for Ethan until I physically can't any longer and, by that point, I pray that I would have spent lots of time teaching him to fight for himself.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Let's Hear it for the Boys!

For some reason, I am really tired today. Ethan and I both slept in until 7:30 this morning, which was a nice change from him waking up at 6:15 recently. I think we're both trying to figure out whether he wants to take one nap, or two, during the day, and it's creating some funky sleep patterns for him. Any advice for making this transition, or deciding if it's the right time to do so?

I also spent the entire past weekend with Ethan at my parents' house while Jeramie was fishing with his dad and brother.

That was most definitely a new experience, and not one that I think I'll repeat anytime soon. Don't get me wrong, my parents were a huge help, but there are certain things (like making and administering a blended tube feed or consoling a scared, screaming baby) that only Jeramie or I can do.

Then, Ethan gave us a scare on Saturday morning when he woke up with a dry diaper. I called his pediatrician and they were pretty adamant, at first, that we take him to the hospital for some IV fluids. Thankfully, he had peed shortly after he woke up, so they felt that it wasn't so emergent of a situation, but said he would definitely need to go if he stayed dry for another 6 hours. I pumped him full of Pedialyte and by 11:00 he had a diaper as heavy as can of soup. He continued to produce wet diapers throughout the day, so we were able to steer clear of the hospital, and spend lots of good quality time with Granny, Poppy, and Bubbie!

I'm not sure what happened to cause him to become so dehydrated. I'm really worried that this will be an issue throughout this scorching hot summer, though, so we're working harder than ever on getting him to drink from that dang sippy cup.

This weekend made me appreciate, even more, how much of a team Jeramie and I are when it comes to parenting. Just having each other around for those stressful moments is something I think I've taken for granted. I could not imagine being Ethan's mama without Jeramie as his daddy.

His shirt reads: "I get my handsome from my Daddy"

I'm not sure who was more excited to see Jeramie once we all got home on Sunday, me or Ethan! We were happy to celebrate the amazing dad that Jeramie has become, and closed out the night with a home-cooked steak & shrimp meal. YUM!

Also, I can't mention what a great dad Jeramie is without recognizing my Daddy and my awesome father-in-law! I've always known that they would do anything for me, but seeing the way they love and care for Ethan is incredible. I bet they never knew they could be such softies!

Thank you Jeramie, Daddy, and Rick for being strong men who love your wives, children, and grandson with such passion and gentleness!

I'm into Week 2 of being at home with Ethan, and I really do think I will love this new lifestyle. Ethan's therapists are recognizing some amazing progress that he has made in the past two weeks, and that makes me feel so good! I look forward to nurturing him and helping him learn about his special body. Just yesterday, I took the brace off of his left arm and he immediately picked up a veggie stick and fed himself.

The proud grin that spread across his face was worth more than any paycheck that any school system could give me.

And that

is what it's all about.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

These boots are made for walkin'...

..and that's just what they'll do!

One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Third Time's the Charm

For those of you who haven't kept count, Jeramie and I have attempted an overnight getaway twice in the past couple of months. Our first trip, which included two tickets to see Bon Jovi and a room in the upscale Westin Hotel, was canceled when Ethan contracted osteomyelitis in his finger and required emergency surgery.

The following month, we planned to enjoy a baby-less night over Memorial Day weekend. My in-laws gave us a gift card to Outback when trip #1 went down the toilet, and our plan was to have a nice dinner, watch a movie, and get some much needed uninterrupted rest. That trip was canceled when Ethan came down with a bad case of the croup and needed steroids and breathing treatments for 5 days. It seemed as if it just wasn't in the cards for us to get away.

Until this past weekend.

That's right, folks. We kept our plans a secret from Ethan and didn't really tell many people at all. In fact, we planned it in a just a few short days and we were dropping Ethan off at my in-laws' house before we knew it! He stayed from Saturday to Sunday afternoon and had an absolute blast!

While he was busy mastering the art of scooting down the stairs, covering every inch of their carpet on foot, and squealing with excitement at their animals, Jeramie and I were making the most of our baby-free time! I won't lie; I definitely shed a few tears once we got on I-40 headed back to Raleigh, but I knew we needed this.

We started our time together by going to see Shrek Forever After in 3D. I was probably a little more excited about this than your typical 27 28 year old woman (I seriously had to do the math right there), but I love all the Shrek movies and I had NEVER seen a 3D movie before. And, let me just tell you, it did not disappoint! The graphics were uh-mazing and the movie was really cute as well. Even the glasses weren't that bad.

After the movie we came home, freshened up, and headed out to dinner. There's nothing like a good steak and some garlic mashed potatoes from Outback! Jeramie had the salmon, and I might even go as far to say that it was better than my steak. Just sayin'.

We rented another movie after dinner and came home to an eerily quiet house. It was so strange to not hear the buzz of the baby monitor, or to give nighttime meds. The only interruption to our 2nd movie was needing to pause it long enough to call and check-in on our sweet boy. We slept well Saturday night and didn't wake up until 9:30 the next morning!

We were able to go to church together on Sunday, but then boogied on down I-40 as soon as it was over. As much as we enjoyed time to ourselves, we were missing our son! It was so good to experience what it was like to miss him, outside of the hospital setting.

I am so thankful that we were finally able to follow through with our plan. It has been a long time comin' and it was just what we needed.

Here's to many more... :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Through the eyes of a child...

Last night, I had the awesome opportunity to go roller skating with a handful of my students and co-workers from school. We had an absolute blast, but my muscles are screaming at me today! I spent most of the night helping to pull kids off those blasted hardwood floors and protecting myself from joining them!

My good friend Meg (who also happens to be our school audiologist) joined us with her family, as well. Meg has the most beautiful little girls, and they are oh-so-smart! The Guenther Gang is one lovely family, indeed.

After I got home from skating, I checked my e-mail/Facebook messages/etc. and came across the most hilarious, but precious, message from Meg. Turns out she and Anna (her oldest, who is three) had quite the conversation on the way home. Below is Meg's re-enactment of said conversation:

*Background info: Jeramie and Ethan were also at the skating rink, and Ethan's brace was off of his arm due to a nice little fungal infection he has acquired over the past few days.
Anna: Mom, why are Efan's hands not the same?
Meg: Because everyone is different honey. Like you have curly hair and I have straight hair. Ethan has two hands that are different.
Anna: Like your boobs are REALLY big and mine are small?
Me: Well, yes. And they are not THAT big.
Anna: Yeah.
(She is now quiet in the back seat for a minute or two...and then this):
Anna: Mom, can we buy Efan a present?
Me: Sure, honey. That would be very nice. What would you like to get him?

I think
Efan would like a white Michael Jackson diamond sparkle glove. That way his hand will always make him happy.
How adorable is that?! After I spent a solid minute laughing at it all, I couldn't help but cry. To know that kind of innocence, to feel free to ask questions without feeling like you're judging or being judged, that is the essence of a child's heart. I am thankful for parents like Meg and John who are raising their children to be accepting of differences in others, and who encourage conversations about it. I pray that Ethan will come to know many more "Anna"s and "Mrs. Meg"s in his lifetime.

As if Anna's conversation with Meg wasn't enough, she also informed her mom that she doesn't think Lily (her little sister) should marry Ethan after all. (Which is unfortunate, considering Ethan and Lily spent their time at the skating rink doing what all the other young love birds do.)

When Meg asked Anna why she thought that, Anna responded with,
"Because I'm going to marry him!"
I adore the heart of a child.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

15 Months Later

Ethan has been e-mailing...
...and shouting from the let everyone know that
Pretty cool, huh?! He hasn't quite figured out that walking is functional, though. Right now, it's more of a fun trick that gets lots of applause and praise from "the big people". I love watching his confidence grow with every passing day, and I get so excited when I find him randomly walking to a toy in the living room! He'll be running before we know it.

In other 15-month old news, Ethan is still hanging out around 25 pounds, but stands about 32 inches tall. He is not my little boy anymore; every picture I take shows him looking more and more like a full-blown toddler.

He is still very interested in foods and, in the past week, he has tried and/or eaten: eggs from a BoJangles' biscuit, oatmeal, an Oreo cookie, TONS of yogurt, and lots & lots of carrots, just to name a few. He drinks out of an open mouth cup better than a sippy cup or straw, so we're just going with it. We still continue to give him blended foods through his tube, and I think it is making a HUGE difference. Just tonight he got mac & cheese with peas & carrots, a splash of milk, a side of tomato bisque, topped off with yogurt for desert. I'm pretty sure he's eating better than I am.

He attempts to put his shoes on his feet, points to his ear on command, and signs "please" whenever he wants something. He loves Grover from Sesame Street and would love on every animal he came in contact with if we let him. His therapists are very pleased with his progress, and we can't wait to see how much more he'll grow now that I'll be home with him 100%!

We couldn't be more proud if we tried!

Happy 15 months, Ethan! The best is yet to come...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We Survived!

Whew. I am so glad this whirlwind day is behind us! It definitely went better than expected, though. Ethan managed to squeeze in an hour long nap between appointments, and Jeramie and I were still cordial with each other by the time the witching hour came around. I'll count those as definite successes!

The pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to stop the prednisone. Glory, hallelujah! She said that she didn't hear any more wheezing in Ethan's lungs, but they still sounded pretty junky. We'll give him breathing treatments twice a day for the next couple of days, then move to using the nebulizer on an "as needed" basis. Hopefully we'll be able to wean him off of that soon, too!

Other than sounding so congested, Ethan's cardiologist was very happy with how he's doing. He walked into the exam room for the first time to find an extremely hyper little boy, and two sweaty parents who were literally chasing him around the room. It only took one look for him to decide that an echo would not be happening! Without sedating him, it would have been near impossible to get decent pictures of his heart. So, Ethan didn't end up getting the holy trinity of cardiology tests after all; Dr. I was happy with just an EKG and chest x-ray. It took a minute for me to be OK with not getting the echo, but Ethan's cardiologist is absolutely fantastic with explaining his decisions and reassuring me that is truly is A-OK. I know so many of you heart moms can relate, but I find myself just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I told a friend tonight that Ethan's heart has been so well-behaved during our most recent medical dramas, so I just kind of expected that it would be it's turn to act out.

Yeah, not so much.

Dr. I said that the murmur is definitely still there (and always will be), but it doesn't pose any reason for concern. Given that Ethan is full of energy, growing so well, and acting just fine, Dr. I doesn't feel that there is any reason to think that anything (even more) funky is going on inside his chest. And I am totally OK with hearing that!

I asked tons of questions during this visit, most of them related to our week-long planned vacation to the lake. I was really concerned that we would have to place lots of restrictions on Ethan for summer-time activities, but Dr. I's only words of advice were "keep him hydrated, and have fun!"

Yes, sir. We can most definitely do that.

We'll head back in three more months for another check-up. At this rate, we'll see Dr. I at the start of each season, and wish him a "happy-whatever" until we see him again!

Our last appointment with the orthopedic surgeon was the most difficult of the three. We waited a super long time, and Ethan was beginning his transformation into the Incredible Hulk. Once the surgeon arrived, things moved pretty quickly from there. He was very pleased with the way Ethan's finger has healed, although he wouldn't pinch him! We'll leave that to the nerve guys when we go see them in a few weeks. Ethan went back for an x-ray to check the original correction, and all of that looks wonderful as well. Dr. F doesn't think that we've lost any of the correction, which is HUGE considering what that arm has been through in the past few months. He gave us a friendly "see you in 2 months" and out the door we went!

The drive home was excruciating. A 35-minute drive turned into an hour and 19 minutes, thank-you-traffic-and-crazy-drivers on I-40, and we were all getting a little delirious about the time we reached the hour mark. I think Ethan could sense that things just weren't right, and decided to give us a little bit of his wild man entertainment.

Is that kid crazy, or what?!

So, there you have it. Overall, a good day with lots of good news. It wasn't nearly as interesting as these types of days have been in the past, and I am so very thankful for that!

Thanks for all of the prayers; our God surely is mighty to save!

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