Friday, April 30, 2010

Ice cream/snacks and book reviews: from the couch, Part III

To see my original ice cream/book posts, click here and here.


The only new ice cream flavor I have tried since last time is Ben & Jerry's Hanna Teter's Maple Blondie. I have had Dan on the look-out for this flavor since someone recommended it a few weeks ago but he hasn't been able to find it anywhere. Last weekend my friend Jess came over with Maple Blondie in hand!! It is a really yummy flavor.

I have been trying not to eat ALL junk, like I was for a while when I first entered my bed rest blues. I do still eat at least a little bit of ice cream on most nights, but here are two of my new favorite things to eat during the day to balance out my indulgences:

For lunch I have been making enormous, delicious salads made up of spinach and other greens, sliced fresh strawberries, sliced grilled chicken, avocado chunks and sliced tomatoes, topped with Newman's Own Lighten Up Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing. YUM! I'm addicted!

For an afternoon snack, I put a few spoonfuls of Greek Yogurt in a bowl and mix it with a little bit of Toasted Wheat Germ and a few squirts of honey. I love the little bit of crunch from the wheat germ and the sweetness from the honey and the creaminess of the greek yogurt.


Candy Girl by Diablo Cody - This was an interesting memoir about a gal (same gal who wrote the screenplay for Juno) who decides to become a stripper for a year. And of all places, she does it in Minneapolis! Parts of the book are really disgusting and weird and I wouldn't recommend it for anyone with a weak stomach. It was definitely interesting and entertaining, though.

Snow Flower and the Secret F an by Lisa See - This was such a good book. It gave a lot of interesting insight into the world of Chinese women back when foot-binding was necessary in order for them to be an important part of civilization. It was very sad at times, but a very good story.

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott - A memoir about a woman growing into her faith and the amazing story of her life. I enjoyed this one.

Momzillas by Jill Kargman - While reading this, I kept thinking, "Are there really people like this in the world?" UGh! It was a quick and entertaining read, but the characters were annoying.

The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther - I did not dig this book AT ALL. I kept considering not finishing it, but I never do that, so I just continued to do a lot of yawning.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - WOW!! I absolutely could not put this one down! It is so well-written and has such a crazy story line and it is honestly one of the most intriguing books I have read in a while. The premise is a little bit disturbing, but really so so good. There is a sequel, Catching Fire, and I'm excited to get started on that.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Elijah, will you please take your feet off the dinner table?" "NOOooooooooo!"

One of Elijah's favorite things to do is "essersize with Daddy" in the garage every night. He does great arm stretches and sit-ups!

Aside from the fact that every teeny weeny little thing in our house is met with resistance, things are going great! (I just keep telling myself that patience and consistency will eventually pay off. Right? Right??)

Ok, quick side question for all you moms and dads out there. Has anyone ever dealt with a child who likes to hit himself when he is frustrated/upset? HOW IN THE WORLD do we deal with this? It makes me crazy! Half the time he does it for attention and half the time I think it is his natural way of dealing with being frustrated.

Back to our week.. The weather is gorgeous, my contractions have stayed consistent and under control (less than 3-4/hour) and we know for sure that the baby is growing because I am getting bigger by the minute. In two days I will have reached the 34-week mark, which is so so awesome and today marks 13 weeks of bed rest. I have been really lucky with this pregnancy because I haven't been 100% stuck to the bed like I was last time. I definitely need to take it easy, and I do, but at least I can move around a little bit and that helps me tremendously when dealing with the emotional part of this ordeal.

That's about all we know! Soon things will get exciting, but for now it's pretty low-key around here. Aside from all the NOOOOOoooooo-ing, that is.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cardiology appointment

Please forgive me for posting some old photos from Easter..

I was able to go to Elijah's cardiology check-up this morning with my boys. Aside from his anxiety, everything went really well! Elijah has grown in height and weight, even just since his 3-year well visit two months ago. He is now 36 inches tall and he weighs 30 lbs!

They did an xray, an echocardiogram and took all the usual vitals. The only thing that was different from his last visit six months ago was that the pressures in his heart have increased just a tiny bit (from 30-40 to 45ish). This just means that he is slowly outgrowing his bovine valve, and of course this is totally expected. Dr. G said that he always expects to get at least two years out of a valve for someone Elijah's age (we hit the two-year mark a few weeks ago!), and that he always hopes for three or four years.

We don't have to bring him back in for another SIX MONTHS (woohoo!) and at that point he will get another heart cath, which will help determine the timing of his next open heart surgery. It sounds like OHS #3 could take place any time between a year from now and two years from now. The one symptom we have to keep our eyes open for with him is increased fatigue when he is exerting energy. If we were to notice this before next fall, we would obviously need to bring him in sooner. If you have been reading this blog at all lately, you will know that Elijah is currently NOT experiencing increased fatigue. :)

I was telling Dan on our way home that I just feel like we are extremely blessed with how well Elijah has done ever since he was born. He has some pretty serious stuff going on inside that body of his and it is sometimes so easy to forget that. Elijah has been so steadfast with his growth and healing and recoveries and we couldn't be more pleased with how well he and his special little heart have done over the past 3+ years.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A bit of an unusual weekend

We have been teaching Elijah to shut his eyes when the sun is shining in his face. It's so much better than screaming.

We have had kind of a pieced together, unusual weekend. It has been rainy and cold, which has kept Dan from getting much work at the dropzone. A few helpers have come over to assist with Elijah while Dan was attempting to work. My contractions have been staying pretty consistent and my stomach is growing by the minute. Elijah has had his good and bad moments and I discovered that closing a 3-year-old up inside for an extended period of time is like putting a wild lion in a really tiny cage for a month or so.

Elijah has a cardiology appointment tomorrow, so I feel a tiny bit of anxiety about that. Hopefully he will continue to surprise us all in a good way.

We hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Check-up at almost 33 weeks

(I had someone mention to me recently that I get "too personal" on this blog, so now I feel like I should give a warning any time I talk about personal issues. I guess I don't know what is considered "too personal," so read at your own risk..)

Because of the complications we dealt with during my pregnancy with Elijah, I was seen at a high-risk perinatal clinic for all of my prenatal care. They were the best of the best, as specialized as they come and ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL doctors. I assumed I would be able to continue to see them with subsequent pregnancies, especially considering my age and history of complications, but nope! I have been going to a regular old OB clinic this entire pregnancy and it has been quite a different experience in many ways. The doctors at this clinic aren't bad doctors, they just are not what we are used to so it is sometimes difficult when we had such super high standards from our last experience.

"My" doctor is rarely running on time, so I always opt to see another doctor in place of her so we don't have to sit in her waiting room for two hours. I see different doctors all the time, and either they don't know who I am or what my history is or they say, "I think I've seen you once before, right?" This is frustrating because I come with some pretty heavy pregnancy baggage that I think is important to know and remember. At yesterday's appointment, I saw yet another new doctor because again, my doctor was "running way behind," and I got frustrated. I just didn't feel heard and I didn't feel cared for, especially since the end is in sight. No doctor has ever talked to me about a "plan," which I find a little bit frightening.

I'm trying to let it go. As long as they know what they are doing when it's time to deliver our baby I guess that is what matters. Next time (ha!) I will force my way back into that perinatal clinic. I wish I had been more persistent this time.

Anyway, everything checked out fine at my visit yesterday. The baby's growth was excellent! He is now in the 52nd percentile (up from the 40th!) and weighing 4 lbs, 5 oz!! My cervix looks good (is that too personal?) so the doctor wasn't too concerned about the increase in contractions I've been experiencing this week. I got the first of two betamethasone shots and will get the second one today. This will help the baby's lungs to mature in case I go into early labor. The doctor we saw yesterday thought I should easily be able to make it until 36 or 37 weeks, which would be wonderful!

As I said, my contractions have increased in frequency this week. I am now getting about 3-4/hour instead of the 1-2/hour I was getting for basically the first 12 weeks of bed rest. The doctor is comfortable with that number and doesn't feel medication is necessary beyond my regular weekly progesterone shots. I thought for sure I would be on the "big guns" meds by now, so it is a nice surprise that I have been able to avoid them. I remember not liking the side effects from them at all.

That is all for now! I go back in two weeks to get rechecked (maybe by a doctor I've yet to meet?) and by that time I will be getting very close! Yikes and woohoo, at the same time!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

River pics and other bits

First, a p.s. on yesterday's post: The bus driver said Elijah had two big tears roll down his cheek on the way to school, but no crying. (This somehow makes me more sad than if he had cried.) The ride home was great, though, and he actually cried when the bus pulled away from our house. "Elijah riiiiide yellow buuuuussss!!" I was NOT an adaptable child, so it makes me very happy to see him, especially with all that he has been through, so adaptable. I'm so proud of my big bus-riding boy!


I found a series of fun photos I took a while back that I forgot to post. We went down to the river to see just how flooded things had gotten.

I took this picture seconds before Elijah decided to walk straight into the river with zero hesitation. Dan didn't let him get very far.

I'm so happy I caught this expression on camera. It's one of my new favorite things Elijah does when he is excited about being outside. He puts his hands in front of his face and screams like a wild man.

I sometimes still can't get over the fact that Elijah is walking. He has been able to explore more of the world than ever before and it is SO MUCH FUN for us to see this. In the past few days he has even started trying to RUN! Amazing!

I feel like we are making strides with some of the new un-fun behavior Elijah has been showing us. Dan and I are being consistent with time-outs, which are truly awful for all of us (we have to make sure our doors and windows are all closed so people don't hear the terrible screaming and make wrong assumptions), but necessary and actually quite helpful in the end. I think a lot of what is going on with him has to do with 1) him sensing winds of change, and 2) preschool being wonderful for him but simultaneously being very overly stimulating and tiring and completely wearing him down emotionally and physically.

We have had such amazing weather so far this spring, so sometimes it feels like it is the middle of July instead of the middle of April. It is wonderful! We don't get that feeling too often in Minnesota. The sunshine and the fresh air have been wonderful for Elijah, and for our spirits, too.

I had a kind of scary, sleepless night last night, with lots of contractions and worrying. Thankfully I have an appointment today so we can see what, if anything, is going on.

I'll end with a funny Elijah story. One of the behaviors we have been trying to get under control is his hitting (he hits Dan and me only; he never does it to anyone else, which I guess is a good thing). The other day I walked by Dan and tapped him on his back side. Elijah saw me do it and said, "Mommy time-out! Noooo hitting!"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Elijah ride yellow bus?

This is the question Elijah has been asking us for weeks. So today it finally happened. He is now officially a big boy bus rider!

He was so cute getting on the bus. The bus driver helped buckle him into his seat and then he pointed out the window to our house and said, "Home! Bye home!" He looked a little bit scared for a moment and then they were off! I'm sure he did great.

As the bus pulled away, I cried my eyes out. My baby is riding the bus!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I already knew that we had the best friends in the world and then we received a package in the mail from Kathy and her boys that confirmed this. She made, BY HAND, this adorable little Zooter piggy for Elijah. It could not be more perfect! "Zooter" has such a fun, special meaning for us, so it is a very meaningful little gift.

I'm pretty sure I will always think of 2010 as the Year of Patience. Bed rest has required a lot of patience (and will continue to do so, I'm sure), Elijah is in a phase where he is constantly searching inside himself for patience, which requires even more patience from Dan and me. We literally pray for patience at each meal and before bed each night and all three of us repeat "patiencepatiencepatience" as we walk around the house or eat dinner or lay on the couch or do whatever.

Today I realized that it's not really that Elijah is overall behaving worse than he normally does. It's just that his highs have become higher and his lows have become lower. When he is a good boy, he is really really good and when he's not, well.. No matter what, though, I love every minute I get to spend with him. I'm so grateful for him and for his health. We love our little (sometimes very impatient) boy to pieces! He's the best.

I reached the 32-week mark in my pregnancy yesterday, which is a huge milestone. My contractions have maybe gotten just a little bit worse, but nothing too alarming yet. I am so happy to have made it to this point and I'm still hoping for a 39-week delivery. Stranger things have happened!

I'll end with my favorite recent Elijah translation:
"bundled up" (as in, wearing layers of clothes) = "buckled up"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Heart Day!

Today is Tax Day, yes, but more importantly (for us), it is the second anniversary of Elijah's second open heart surgery! This surgery made such a significant difference in his quality of life that I think we will forever celebrate the day it happened.

We obviously can't do too much celebrating with an invalid mama in the house, but I think I'll have Dan get some heart balloons and maybe we will make some fun cupcakes or something.

Happy Heart Day, my boy! We are so proud of how far you have come!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New pediatric cardiovascular center + lots of sobbing

I haven't mentioned the trip we made to Children's Hospital a while ago out of fear of sobbing like a child. Again. But with Elijah's surgery anniversary approaching and already being an emotional pregnant lady, I figure it is impossible to avoid sobbing, so..

Children's Hospital in Minneapolis recently completed construction on an incredible addition dedicated SOLELY to its pediatric cardiovascular patients. They hosted a grand opening reception, so the three of us drove into the city to check it out. Everything a heart patient could possibly need is now within one unit. Pre-op, catheterizations, surgery, recovery and short stay recovery are all in the same little spot. And patient rooms have been built with parents in mind, too, so no more begging for a sleep room at night. It is an amazing addition and we are really excited about it.

The first stop on the tour was the new Short Stay unit and I got particularly excited about this area. The "regular" Short Stay unit down on first floor is where Elijah has always gone after his heart caths and we haven't always had the best experiences there (not all bad, just not all good). It will be wonderful to have cardiac-only nurses and nice new private rooms, too, after his heart caths. I was practically skipping around the unit like a giddy little kid, and I wasn't AT ALL expecting the emotions that were about to sweep over me.

Our next stop was at a big room next door to short stay. At first all I was focusing on was Elijah because he recognized the things inside of that big room and he immediately started to panic. Dan picked him up and reassured him that nobody was going to hurt him, as I stepped into the big room to check it out by myself. I took one step in and...oh my, this is an OPERATING ROOM. Yes, I knew that before walking in, but the heaviness of it didn't hit me until I had stepped inside. This is the room where IT happens. And then I completely lost it. It wasn't just a few little tears sliding down my cheeks. It was a full-fledged sobbing that instantly shook me to the core. It was one of those sobs that you cannot control no matter how hard you try. A very nice nurse was in the room giving tours and she was immediately at my side, hugging and comforting me.

Standing in an operating room is extremely overwhelming, with all of the super high-tech equipment and monitors and lights and machines and instruments. And that table right in the middle. The table that my little boy has been on twice and will be on again soon. Past anxieties and current anxieties and everything in between shook my body and heart and soul without warning. Eventually I told myself that I had to stop the crying, after all, we were at a very public event, so I looked at the nurse square in the eyes and tried my hardest to carry on a conversation with her. At that moment, out of the corner of my eye I saw our beloved Dr. Gremmels walk into the room. I thought it was pretty cool that the one person in this world who knows EXACTLY what our son has been through (heart-wise), every little bit of it, showed up at that very significant moment. I kept it mostly together, but almost lost it again when I saw him. He came over and gave me a hug and reassured me that what I was feeling was normal. (Really? Because I don't see anyone else here freaking out!)

I pulled myself together and we toured the rest of the unit and we even ran into Elijah's heart surgeon, Dr. Moga. He told Elijah he was "lookin' good" and gave us his trademark smile and wink. Every time I see Dr. Moga I get emotional, but I was able to hold back the tears this time (probably because there were none left).

Not only is this new unit going to be a lot more convenient for patients and parents (and doctors), but it is a huge step toward keeping little heart patients healthier, as well. Patients will not need to enter the hospital's regular PICU after surgery, which will keep them protected from sicknesses that might be floating around down there. This will also free up bed space in the PICU for other children. Check out the virtual tour of the new cardiac patient rooms, which include private bathrooms, refrigerators, sofa sleepers, tvs and xbox 360s.

This new unit is a really big deal and we are really proud of it. We are grateful we were able to see the new area and we feel so blessed to live in a city with such amazing facilities, nurses, surgeons and doctors.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I don't know if it's his cold or a phase or an alien invasion or all of the above, but Elijah has been quite the defiant little boy this week. A lot of hitting, kicking, screaming, noooooo-ing and time-outing has been going on in our house. Weeeeee!!!

We are thankful that croup has not visited us yet this round of sickness. I pray about this constantly throughout each day.

Not much else to report. I mainly just wanted to get some cute pics posted.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our weekend

I cannot get over the beautiful weather we have had so far this spring. The winter tends to put a lot of Minnesotans in a funk (especially those who might be bed-resting), so it feels beyond amazing to be able to open our windows and let some fresh air inside. Dan bought me an outside bed-restable chair this weekend, so I have spent some time outside reading and lounging in the sunshine.

Elijah spends a lot of time running around outside. He loves to play with his toys in the garage and play with Dan's golf clubs in the grass (when he's not feeling it is too bumpy) and draw on the driveway with chalk. We are working on "driveway and sidewalk ok, street NO-NO." This weekend he started getting upset about every single thing or person he saw pass in front of our house because he wanted to be doing it, too. "ELIJAH RI-I-I-IDE BI-I-I-IKE!!" "ELIJAH DWI-I-I-IVE CA-A-ARRrr!" "ELIJAH RU-U-U-UNNn!" "ELIJAH WA-A-A-A-LK!"

Our munchkin caught a little cold this weekend, so we are sending up some anti-croup prayers. We do have an appointment with his pulmonologist this week, so I have a list of things I want to talk to him about.

Other than that, everything is going just fine for us. My contractions are about the same and staying very manageable. We received some WONDERFUL visits from friends this weekend that we are extremely thankful for. We have the best friends in the world.

Have a good week, everyone!

Friday, April 9, 2010

I gotcha

Lately when I put Elijah to bed at night, he has been especially clingy and huggy. For the first time ever, he doesn't want me to leave him. He has never had any trouble parting with us at bedtime, so it has been really hard for me to deny my snuggly 3-year-old of bedtime cuddles. Each night as I sit in his chair with him, I think, Someday I will be ACHING for this again. So I usually let some time pass before I put an end to the snuggling and put him into his bed.

He wraps his arms around my neck after we say prayers and he burrows his little body into mine and says, "HUG! HUG! HUG!" until I am squeezing him just firmly enough. When he says, "HUG!" I usually say back to him, "I gotcha, my man." Ever since he was a tiny baby in the NICU, this is something Dan and I have always said to him. I remember whispering "Mama's gotcha!" into his ear when he was a day old and when things were so new and scary. It was my way of telling him that we would never let go of him. We would never stop loving him and we would always be there for him.

So after I say that to him at bedtime, he has started to say back to me, "I gotcha, Mom!" Through tears, I say, "Thank you, Elijah, I'm so glad you've got me, too."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

30 weeks, 5 days

As you can see in my Easter photos, Elijah adores being outside. It is the new love of his life. And it is a good match because sunshine does wonders for him. Vitamin D works some sort of magic, especially after a long winter. When he is able to spend time outside, he is a much happier little person and he sleeps better and is just overall more enjoyable to be around (not that he is ever not enjoyable to be around).

My pregnancy and bed rest are going fine. Not much has changed, which is a good thing. Every once in a while I will have a scary day of contractions, but a restful night of sleep always gets things back under control. One thing that has been annoying is that I have become clumsy. In the past two weeks I have had two refrigerator catastrophes. The first time I knocked a jar of jelly out of the fridge and the shattered glass flew EVERYWHERE. Ugh. The second time I knocked an entire shelf off of the door of the fridge. The only thing that broke was a jar of vinegar, which we could smell for days. Both times after my disasters, Dan walked around the corner and said, "ELIJAH!" Nope, not Elijah, just clumsy, pregnant ME! :)

As my delivery date gets closer, the more anxious I find myself getting. There is a lot to think about even though I can't do anything about any of it. It's a little bit strange to be having "normal" pregnancy worries/anxieties this time. We had such heavy heavy things to mull over last time, so these normal worries are pretty new and different for me.

Our wonderful friends, the Rollers, sent such a sweet sweet care package in the mail for us. I cannot wait to show you what Kathy made for Elijah!! Photo to come soon!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Today has an overall feeling of sadness. A new friend of ours (who I have asked for prayers for before) had a baby who went to Heaven on Friday. My heart aches..


On a different note, we had a nice weekend. My contractions have been staying in a comfortable zone (usually no more than 1-2/hour still) and that makes me very happy. I was able to tag along with Dan and Elijah to Dan's parents' house for a bit yesterday for Easter dinner. I snapped a bunch of photos of Elijah from the deck (you will be seeing lots of these this week) but otherwise didn't move around a whole lot and when we got home I felt like I had just finished running a marathon. My body definitely is not used to anything but being glued to the couch!

Elijah had a fun time playing in the dog kennel (that no dog lives in). He opened and shut the door to the kennel about 4,367 times. Opening and closing doors is a favorite activity.

Of course I had to get a few pics of my gorgeous hubby, too.

This is his fake mad face:

Elijah is still really hesitant about walking on bumpy surfaces. He will walk on grass if the surface is fairly smooth, but he will not walk on grass if the surface is uneven. This is what happens when we encourage him to try it:

I have spent two of the past three Easters at home, so I was worried that I would be spending this Easter at home, as well. I am extremely thankful that I have a little bit of freedom these days so I don't have to be cooped up 100% of the time.

I loved being able to spend a little bit of time with Dan's family yesterday. As always, Elijah got a ton of love from Grandma and Grandpa and his cousins. And his new word of the day was "resurrection," which sounded more like "wezzuweshin." :)

Many more Easter pics to come this week! Have a good week, everyone.

Friday, April 2, 2010

29-week tummy and 30-week tidbits

My tummy last weekend, at 29 weeks..

Today marks 30 weeks of pregnancy! Somehow that seems like a huge milestone and I am so happy to have gotten to this point. I have nine weeks of bed rest under my belt and I am praying hard for nine more weeks! My c-section is scheduled for June 4th, which is exactly the 39-week mark, so let's hope that is our day to welcome Not-Zooter into the world.

My contractions have gradually over time become more frequent, but they still are nothing compared to what I was experiencing at this point in my pregnancy with Elijah. I usually get no more than one per hour, sometimes two per hour depending on the time of day. I have been able to move around MUCH more during this bed rest (compared to Bed Rest of 2007) and I am so thankful for that. I usually take it easy for most of the day and if I have had a good day I get up to play with Elijah a little bit in the evenings and even sit at the table with my boys for dinner. I have even been making one or two small trips out of the house every week if my body is cooperating (and with my doctor's blessing). This little bit of freedom I have helps immensely!

Nine weeks ago I was a pretty huge emotional wreck, so I feel really good about how things have panned out so far. Bed rest is limiting and frustrating at times, but I'm incredibly thankful that my body seems to be responding well to the progesterone shots (and that I haven't needed any medication aside from the progesterone).

Here's to nine more weeks!!

p.s. Last weekend I got out of the house for a photoshoot we had been planning for Elijah. It went great! We strolled around the sculpture gardens in Minneapolis while the talented Gwen snapped photos of our munchkin. Anyway, please check out her blog post and leave a comment (if you haven't already) so we can get a free print!