Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

August 2010

 August is a very significant month for me because of everything that happened during that month. It was a wonderful month and it was a scary month. I've had August on my mind because it's right around the corner and I've just been reminiscing about the events that took place then.

Our First House

We moved into our first ever bought house together in August. We are very proud of this accomplishment! 1900 sq ft, three rooms, two bathrooms to raise two children in.

August 1, 2010

We took our first family vacation to Myrtle Beach! We had SO much fun. We visited the aquarium, swam in the ocean, and browsed shops. We took walks on the pier and watched as fishermen caught all kinds of things including baby sharks and the awkward looking ribbon fish. I really enjoyed relaxing on the hotel balcony and feeling the sea breeze. I loved the view of the beautiful sea oats and palmetto trees. We had such a wonderful experience. Vincent had a great time, too. I'm sure Marlena was happy as could be, floating around in my tummy.

This is all of us together on our first family vacation.

August 6, 2010

My husband and I have been together for a long, long time. We met in an internet chat room when we were just fifteen and playfully had an "internet" relationship. He was from Michigan and I was living in South Carolina. We didn't take it seriously at all when it first started, but soon it blossomed into something very serious. We had Vincent in 2009. After we became pregnant with Marlena, we both decided it was time to make it official and get married on August 6, 2010. We had already been together for so long, we already felt married! So we made an appointment at the court house with no rings and tied the knot officially. Our "One Year Anniversary" is coming up. How special!

 August 20, 2010

This is the day my husband and I went for our fetal anatomy ultrasound. I had already had an ultrasound at around 11 weeks during my pregnancy because I felt so much anxiety that something wasn't right. The OB gave me a treat by letting me pop into the ultrasound room to see my little one's heart beat and punches and kicks. This reassured me everything was fine.

This was a very scary day. I remember going back out into the waiting room after the ultrasound was done and my husband and I had already blasted all over Facebook, "SHE'S A GIRL!" Then about 10 short minutes later, myself still completely oblivious that anything could be wrong at all, we were called back again and sat with the doctor. "Concerns." That word sticks out the most to me. "Should I be crying right now?" I remember asking that question before I fully understood the situation. "Level II ultrasound is needed, but it's Friday afternoon, so you probably can't be seen until Monday." I was hysterical at this point. Good thing everyone was at lunch by this point, because I was making a scene. "NO. I NEED TO BE SEEN T-O-D-A-Y." Thankfully, there was a cancellation and we made it there in time.

And so set forth the emotional basket case I became over the following months.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Overwhelming Thankfulness

I never expected on the day of our fetal anatomy ultrasound that I would leave my OB's office in tears and not drive home, but to a specialist's office. I never saw it coming.

I never saw it coming.

After the doctors told me what they were "supposed" to tell a mother who's child's brain was smooshed so badly that you would see much more fluid than brain tissue, I didn't expect Marlena to thrive and flourish, but she is. I never saw that coming, either. Life is full of surprises.

I never saw that coming, either.

I sometimes think, you know, I need to get off this high of feeling absolutely euphoric. I need to stop blabbing to the world that I am absolutely exhilarated beyond belief that my child is cooing, smiling, grabbing things, CRAWLING! Marlena still can't sit up on her own unassisted, but I feel that once her body weight catches up to her head size she'll be able to balance a little better.

No one guarantees a tomorrow. No one can guarantee that the rug won't be pulled out from underneath you at any moment. So I will continue to just relish in these moments.

And I am thankful. Oh, am I thankful as ever. As I tuck Marlena into her crib at night and see the shadow of both of us, together against the wall. I am thankful that there is a shadow of us. Together.

I am satisfied in all that you are, little one. It's also bittersweet to me, remembering your brother's milestones and great achievements that I was SO elated for him to do. I even CRIED when he took those first steps. I took for granted that he always would take his first steps, but I cried when you crawled, little one. You have taught me, that nothing in life is guaranteed. I love you and Vincent so much, from the bottom of my heart and all that I am, and your daddy, too.

I asked Marlena's therapist if she thought she'd be in "mainstream" school. Looking back, I don't think I should have asked. I'm so happy with my children and who they are. I'm sure mostly everyone has heard, "What you don't know won't hurt you." Well, I don't want to know!

Her response was, "We'll talk about it when she's three."

I will savor every moment with them both and try to focus more on who they are and not worry about who they will be in the future.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Guess Who's Crawling?

I have already shared this feat with many of my friends on Facebook, who I have no idea where I'd be without through this journey! I believe that having other families to converse with who have children with the same diagnosis, the same daily fears, and the same feeling of absolute euphoria when their baby meets a new milestone that they were otherwise told may not be able to do, can be very therapeutic.

Marlena is "commando crawling!"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Marlena Has Now Met 2 Hydro Friends

Today Marlena and I had the wonderful opportunity to meet another child with a shunt. This is a picture of Marley and her new friend, Kyleigh! Kyleigh was born prematurely and she had a severe brain bleed which led to her hydrocephalus. They tried to get away with just using a VAD (Ventricular Access Device, used to remove CSF manually with a needle,) but that pesky hydro ensued anyhow and Kyleigh had to get a shunt placed as well. Kyleigh and Marlena have the same neurosurgeon, Dr. McLanahan. This is the same surgeon who placed a shunt in a close friend of mine when she was an infant. She graduated with me and we're now in our mid 20's! I'd say he's been in the shunting business for quite a while. Thankfully, Kyleigh and her mommy only live about 20 minutes away. How awesome is it to have someone who fully understands life with shunted baby living so close!? Not that it's awesome to rely on a shunt or anything, because it certainly isn't!

Marlena met her first hydro friend at Duke Hospital during our visit for her second cord blood re-infusion. Michelle is so pleasant and her son is nothing short of amazing. Michelle just held Marley, stroking what little hair she had at the time while she snoozed and swayed back and forth while we chatted. It was an awesome visit, even though we weren't able to meet a few other families who we had planned to because everyone was sick! Hydro friends rock! And who better to become her first hydro friend than none other: The Amazing Owen! :)

P.S. Marley's next neurosurgery follow-up is Aug. 30th. I'm pretty nervous about what they'll have to say about the shape of her little noggin'! There will be no cosmetic chopping on my baby girl!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Backyard Wish List

There's nothing wrong with wanting more, is there? I don't think any of this will be a viable option until the water problem is cleared up, though. (Not to mention that little teensy-weensy financial problem, too, yeah?) This list is all very materialistic and trite, but it has just been in the back of my mind this Summer.

- Chain link fence; It would be so nice to play with Vincent outside within a fence. I really hate living on a main road.

- Some trees; Trees are nice. I would love to plant a couple pecan trees.

- Swing set; I have wonderful childhood memories of playing on a swing set. I long for my children to have similar memories. They were good ones.

- Sand box; I had SO much fun in my turtle sand box as a child! A bad memory with it was getting in it and being attacked by fire ants who had taken over--- It hadn't been played in for months when this happened. The memories are only vague, but I remember running into the house screaming and my mom pouring either peroxide or rubbing alcohol all over my legs.

- Patio/Porch; The back yard isn't readily accessible. We only have a side door. Patios (or porches) are awesome for entertaining and just walking outside to enjoy a little of the outdoors for moments at a time, which is often all I really need.

- Grill; Who doesn't like grilling? It is the heart of Summer, which currently has been mostly spent inside for my family. Our back yard is pretty bland. And floody. My step-dad makes some awesome steaks and grilled onions in a foil concoction. Delish!

- Furniture w/ shade; It gets SO hot here in South Carolina. We do need our shade if we're to spend any time outside.

- Shed; Our pushing lawn mower is currently being stored in our neighbor's shed. I'm so glad they allow us to keep it there, but it does suck to ask them for a key every time my husband decides to mow. It would just be nice in general to be a little more self sufficient.

- Garden patch; I dream of maintaining my own little vegetable garden! Squash, radish, collard greens, green beans, cucumber, tomato... these are all things I remember thoroughly enjoying from our garden growing up as a child. I would bite into a tomato straight off the plant!

- Flower beds; I would love to maintain flowers. They are easy on the eyes and I have such a creative spark for what I would like to do out there.

I can envision it,

but it just isn't there in


Someday, Hydro Mom.