Oliver is 1!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

 Oliver is the sweetest baby!  He is doing so well and is so smart.  He is walking and tries to catch up with the big kids.  He loves climbing.  I'm constantly having to get him off the table and counters.  He just recently started dancing when music comes on.  He loves to sing and make so many sounds.  He says Dada and Mama.  He pushes his little cars around the house and makes car noises. He loves just hanging out and tagging along with his sisters and brother.

Oliver turned 1 on July 7th!  As I was reflecting back on that day a year ago, it was very traumatic for me and I felt a roller coaster of emotions, but in the past year this baby has changed my life for the better, and I love him more than I can describe!

Last year I opened up a little about my feelings with Oliver and how difficult it was for me when he was born, but I'd also like to share some of the tender mercies of the Lord and how much peace and blessings have come in this past year.  I wrote this post almost 2 months ago, but debated wether I would post it for others or keep if for my own record.  I've shared some of these experiences with family and close friends, but I decided to put them here for others to see how much our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are aware of us in our daily lives and how much peace and strength can come during difficult and hard times. 

When we were naming Oliver, the previous names we had in mind just didn't fit once he was born. At the hospital Brendan's Dad gave me a priesthood blessing and one thing that stood out to me was that this baby would bring peace.  Oliver was a name that I had liked for Niels but didn't end up using.  As I was looking at the meaning of the name I just felt it fit.  Oliver means Olive tree in French.  The biblical olive tree symbolizes peace and fruitfulness.  When you extend an olive branch it signifies an offering of peace.   The next couple of months there were times when I felt so much stress and uncertainty.  I remember one night in particular when I was looking up information online on some of Oliver's symptoms and it all seemed so horrible.  I was crying and feeling depressed when I had an impression to go pick up my baby.  I went in the room and picked Oliver up out of the bassinet and an immediate peace washed over me and I felt that everything would be OK.  Since that experience there have been many other times that I  have needed and felt peace as I held little Oliver in my arms.

I would like to back up a little and share some of the struggles I was dealing with before Oliver was born.  After having Niels I felt very overwhelmed with my day-to-day tasks as a mother, and struggled to be happy with the everyday.  It wasn’t that I wanted to be doing something else, this was what I had always wanted to do, but it was so much harder than I ever could have imagined, as I’m sure most moms know. The housework never ended and the kids were constantly making messes.  I felt I would take 1 step forward and 2 steps back. I would finish cleaning a room and then find that the two previous rooms I cleaned were already a disaster.  Milk spilled on my mopped floor, urine all down the cleaned toilet, and every piece of clothing the kids owned somehow ended up on the bedroom floor during dress up.  Most of the time it looked like we didn't own a trash can or a laundry basket in the house.  I realized having your house spic and span with little kids wasn't realistic and that wasn't what I was going for, I just wanted it semi clean so we could walk down the hall at night without tripping on things that were all over the floor, and somewhat presentable if someone stopped by.  Going grocery shopping seemed like a simple task that I should be able to do, but the thought of it with three little kids gave me anxiety.  One kid always seemed to be either running away from me or throwing a fit, another kid had to go to the bathroom right that second, and the baby was screaming or needed to be fed.  There were times that I had to leave a whole cart full of food and get out of the store as soon as possible before I had a meltdown in public.  The reason I usually resorted going to the store with the kids in the first place was because it never worked out to go in the evening and then I was stressed out because I didn't have anything healthy to feed my family for dinner.  The worst part was that I just wasn't very nice at handling situations with my kids.  I felt like I was yelling too much and at the end of the day felt so upset about it all.  I really didn't know what to do to a have a better balance and to be happier with what I was doing in life.  So when Oliver was born I couldn't imagine what my life would look like from then on and how I could possibly handle such a stressful situation.  

Now a year later I'm the happiest I've ever been as a mother.  I've been able to more fully love each of my children and cherish them.  I feel that the Savior has helped me to have more of an eternal perspective in my life and realize what's most important.  I've had moments like that in my life before where you stop and have a change of focus.  For example, maybe I'm stressed out about going somewhere and I look terrible and then I see a man walking down the road struggling to walk.  It brings me back to what's most important.  Instead of stressing about how I look and to remember to be grateful for body that I've been given that can do so many things.  Or I would be making a cake and stressing out about something not looking right or tasting right and then my kid comes in screaming and needs stitches and all of a sudden the dumb cake you were stressing about isn't important.  I feel like Oliver continues to help me have that eternal perspective.  So many little things that don't matter in the grand scheme of things.  Before in my life there were so many things that seemed important that I stressed about that were getting in my way of being happy.  I'm sure most people have seen the quote on Pinterest that says, "Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, and happy kids."  I hated that quote!  I can't stand sticky floors, and I wouldn't have it.  But I've learned to let things go.  Anyone that has listened to me complain knows that we have a minimum of one milk spill a day over here.  My kids would cringe and apologize when they spilled something because they knew what my reaction would be, but now most days I just say it's ok and we use the towel, or shirt, or whatever is usually on the ground and wipe it up and keep going (or sometimes it doesn't get wiped up and it just dries on the floor.)  My kids are still getting used to my new reaction and always seem to say, "It's OK mom?  You're not mad?"  Of course I'm still working on my patience, and you will still find me yelling at my kids at times, which I've already done twice while typing this.  I felt Niels touching my legs and found he was using a blue marker to draw all over my calf, and a couple minutes ago he peed on the carpet in his room.  I'm starting to feel like a hypocrite, so I'll stop writing about the patient mom I am.  Just ask Brendan how my patience is if you want the full truth :), and just know I'm making progress. 

I also feel there were lots of high expectations I had set for myself that I had to realize were too high, or just not realistic for me at this time in my life, for example, having myself and family put together and looking a certain way (it's ok to go out in public not having showered for a few days and my kids hair not brushed), pinterest parties, healthy gourmet meals, running marathons, beautiful house, going on a target run with 4 little kids in tow.  Most of these are things I enjoy doing, but I've had to slow down in life and realize there is a time and season for everything.

I've been able to develop more Christlike attributes.  The kind outpouring of love from friends and family after Oliver's birth really touched me, and made me want to be a better person who looks outward.  I had friends that would bring meals, babysit my kids, and text to check up on me all the time.  One friend randomly stopped by with two full bags of food from Trader Joe's.  The closest Trader Joe's is 40 minutes away and she said she was there and thought of me and didn't know how often I got up there so they bought their family favorites and brought them to us.  When I closed the door, I just started crying.  How thoughtful!  How often when I'm out shopping or running errands am I thinking of other people?  A friend gave a lesson in church recently about looking outward, and I felt so inspired by it.   We are so much happier when we are looking outward and less focused on ourselves, when we are sympathizing with others, giving people the benefit of a doubt, being less judgemental, and more loving and compassionate people.  There were times before when I would know of a hardship someone was going through, but didn't know what I could do to help, so I ended up doing nothing, but because of my experience I know how much just a written note means.  

After Oliver was born, I really tried to focus on the positive, but it was hard at first, and I really wished I didn't have to go through this.  This was something very difficult for me to go through, but I felt my eyes were opened to lots of other hardships people were also going through and it gave me great strength.  I had signed Hazel up for Fall soccer and wasn't sure how it would work out getting her to games and practices by myself with all of the kids and Oliver was only 6 weeks old.  We went to her first soccer practice and I was sitting on the grass with the kids when Oliver started getting fussy in the stroller.  I had him covered and was a little stressed about taking him out to feed because people stare when they see him.  There was another mom on the grass behind me, and I heard her say to her daughter she was going to feed her baby.  I turned around and saw that her baby had a bilateral cleft lip.  I fed Oliver and when I put him on my shoulder to burp she could see his face, and she asked me how old he was and started talking to me.  I asked about her baby and if he was going to have surgery.  She said he was supposed to have it at 2 months but she wanted to wait until he was a little older and he was having surgery next week.  He was almost 5 months.  She was also up at Primary Children's Hospital in the Craniofacial clinic.  This was her 4th child, and she found out about her baby's cleft lip and palette only a week before her baby was born.  Oliver has a cleft nose and other things, but even though they don't have the same complications, we were going through very similar things in our lives.  We could relate with taking our babies in public and the stares you get, expectations of how our babies would look after surgery, worrying about hitting milestones in their development, how they would be cognitively, and many other things.  I had never run into anyone that had a baby with facial anomalies, and I felt Heavenly Father knew how much I needed to talk to someone that was going through something similar.  Another mother on the team was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer and was undergoing surgery for a double mastectomy.  The soccer coach of that same team had a lame arm, and wrote the team an email explaining that some of the kids had asked about it and so she shared her story.  She was born with epilepsy and as she got older it got a lot worse.  Whens she was 18 the doctor said she could either have the surgery to correct it which would cause her to be a vegetable or she would die before she was 30.  During her 19th year shortly after her 18th birthday she had the first of five brain surgeries, the fifth and final one did not cause her to be a vegetable but did paralyze her left arm.   She had gained a lot of use back in her arm but not the hand and wrist.  There was a time where her life and future looked so bleak and here she was now a mother of 6 coaching her daughter's soccer team.  I didn't feel like this was a coincidence that we were all on that same team together.  It gave me strength during that time to see other people and their struggles and strength to get through hard things.

I mentioned in a previous post how I felt that I would really have to rely on my Savior more than ever to get through this.  My relationship with my Savior has grown so much this year, as I've had to increase my faith in him and look to him for comfort and peace.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  With my already hectic life I didn’t know how I could possibly take on more and get through each day, but with him I have been able to do more than I thought possible.  With his help I have been able to grow and become more like him in developing Christ like attributes.  I still have burdens to bear, but he has lightened them and been with me to bear them up. Because of him I have found joy in the everyday.  Because of him I have felt peace during uncertainty. Because of him I have felt comfort while watching my baby suffer and bear physical pain I’ve never experienced myself, but know that the Savior has felt all of his pain and can succor him.  From the hymn How Firm a Foundation it says, I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand.  He truly has done that for me. Because of him I know I can do hard things. I love my Savior and know he is the Savior of the world.   

We've been through a lot together this past year, and I love this little family of mine.

I'm getting emotional as I type this, because I remember so well how I felt in this picture.  I had been crying so much, and the last thing I wanted to do was take a picture, but I remember thinking if my baby doesn't live much longer I will regret not taking pictures at his birth, so I tried to smile and carry on.

Oliver's Medical Update

I wanted to give a little update on Oliver since we have met with most of his doctors recently.  In May we met with the surgeons, Dr. Siddiqi and Dr. Kestle for a follow up.  They said Oliver seems to be doing well.  Dr. Kestle didn't think we needed to do an MRI of his brain or see a neurologist because he has been developing so normal.  Dr. Siddiqi changed his next surgery to when he is 2 years old to repair his nose.  I think we will also do the front of his forehead then.  They will blow up a balloon under his skin to stretch it and then pull up his hairline.  I think they will also shave some of his forehead at that time to make it more symmetrical.  Dr. Siddiqi also referred us to the Hanger Clinic to get a shaping helmet for Oliver's forehead.  They usually use helmets to shape the back of flat heads, so we weren't sure how well it would work for Oliver's case.  The back of your skull is a lot thinner than the front of your skull, so it is not as easy to mold, and Oliver is also a little older than most babies when they get a helmet, which is around 5 months old.  The helmet doesn't work like braces or hurt the baby, it just puts gentle persistent pressure on areas and allows space in other areas for the growth to go into, in Oliver's case the right side of his forehead.  So they want to have the right side of his forehead come out a little bit more and then in surgery shave down some of the left side to make it more symmetrical. Hopefully that makes sense.  I wrote this post a while ago, so I'm updating it now to say that we are done with the helmet.  Oliver wore it for 3 months and there wasn't really any difference made.  I hated that he sweated all the time and his head stunk, but the protection from his climbing and falls was nice.  When I told Hattie Oliver was done with the helmet, Hattie insisted that he wear it or else he would get hurt.

We met with the opthamologist in June, and Dr. Young said that she can tell he is favoring his strong eye more and increased his eye patching from 1 hour a day to 2 hours.  We will still wait on glasses because she wants him a little older because his prescription keeps changing, and we didn't know how long he would be in the helmet.  We also discussed his dermoid cyst in his left eye, and she said we would probably remove it when he is 5 or 6 years old.  We took a week off from patching to get Oliver used to his helmet and now we can't get him to wear his patch.  He keeps tearing it off as soon as I turn my back.  They said to keep putting it back on, but it's like a bandaid so it won't stick and I have to keep putting new ones on.

We also met with the geneticist in June.  The genetic testing we did for frontonasal dysplasia came back negative.  That was really the closest match with his symptoms.  She showed me some pictures of some other syndromes and abnormalities, but she said he didn't look like the pictures and have the same symptoms, so we ruled those out.  We decided to do two more tests that are chromosomal tests, but are low yielding results when you do not have any developmental delays.  They will do a microarray test that looks for duplications or deletions in chromosomes.  If that comes back normal, than we will do exome sequencing which is fairly new in genetic testing and tests thousands of genes.  Those are both likely to come back normal, and if they do then I guess we really won't have any answers as to why Oliver was born with some of his malformations.  I just got a letter from our insurance saying they won't approve the microarray test because he does not have any developmental delays, but Dr. Dugan is working on appealing it, so we will wait to hear from her.

We just met with an ENT, Dr. Meyers, and an audiologist for the first time today.  Oliver has had a goopy eye since birth, and the Opthamologist tried clearing his tear duct during his surgery in January, but she said it seemed to be clogged when it drained down into his nose.  The ENT said we could do a procedure where they drill out some of the bone to open it up, or we could wait and see if it gets better.  We are going to wait because it has improved since birth already.  It used to be sealed shut every time he woke up, but now it is just a little goopy on his eyelashes.  Dr. Meyers said he was also going to speak to Dr. Young (the opthamologist) and see what she thinks.  Oliver also breaths loudly because he has a deviated septum.  I thought they would fix the deviated septum when they reconstruct his nose, but Dr. Meyers said they wouldn't fix it until he is a teenager because doing it earlier would affect the growth of his nose.  We also discussed Oliver's ears.  He has had fluid in them at both his 6 and 9 month check ups with our pediatrician, but he has had colds at both appointments.  Oliver has had back to back colds for the past couple of months, which has concerned me.  It seemed more understandable in the winter when the other kids had colds too, but now it is summer and he continues to have colds the poor baby.  He had fluid in his ears at the appointment, but it looked like there was pus also, which made him think he had an ear infection, but Oliver hasn't had a fever, or hasn't been fussy more than normal or touching his ears at all.  He has had a runny nose though with green snot. Because he has a deviated septum it seems to be interfering with the drainage of his sinuses, so he continues to have chronic sinus infections.  We went across the hall and did a hearing test with the audiologist and his hearing is diminished, which is normal if there is fluid in your ears.  We are just trying to decide if the fluid has been sitting there for months and isn't draining or of the fluid is from the colds that he happens to have every time he gets checked.  He said it can take up to 3 months sometimes for the fluid to drain by itself after a cold.  At the appointment we decided to wait three months and come back and get a hearing test again to see if the fluid has drained and how his hearing is before we make any decisions about tubes.  We are going to be praying that he can get over his current cold and not pick up another one because it is so hard for him to stay well and we need to see if it's the cold causing the fluid in his ears.

Valentine's/President's Day Weekend

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Our Valentine's weekend started on Friday with a fun party at Aunt Whitney's house.  Whit had me drop off the three kids and I got to just take Oliver and go shopping at City Creek.  It was a nice break for me and a blast for the kids.  I wish I would have taken more pictures of all the cute things Whit did.  They went on a treasure hunt, played games, received prizes, decorated sugar cookies, decorated a craft mailbox, built robots with candy, made wands, and more I'm sure.  Then they had the cutest little take home boxes filled with valentine stuff.  On the way home we stopped at Pizzeria Limone for dinner.  It was a fun night!

The next day Brendan had flowers on the table for me with little coupons attached to each rose.  I'm looking forward to using all of them.  Later in the day we finally made it up to our cabin to enjoy the snow with the kids.  The previous weekend we rented skis for Hazel and Hattie to practice at the cabin, and it was perfect for them to learn.  It was their second time skiing, and they loved it.  This weekend we bought one pair of skis and boots for them to trade off, and it worked out great.  One would ski and the other would sled for a while.

On Sunday we went to church up there and later we had a heart shaped pizza for dinner, and we made a heart cake together.  We just hung out as a family and had fun.  On Monday we skied and sledded again.  It was a nice getaway, and now we are back at home with three sick kids. 

At the COOL party!

This was after church.  The kids wanted to make funny faces.  Brendan had to go to our ward at home, so it was me all by myself with the 4 kids at church.  It went really well until the end of sacrament when Niels decided to run up and down the aisles.  It was quite the show with me trying to get him and Niels screaming with excitement as he got away.   I could see several people laughing.  A lady came up to me after and said it was really funny for everyone to watch, but probably not for me. 

 For Valentine's I bought the girls aprons and Niels a little truck.  We made small heart shaped cakes and one big one.  As you can see the kids has a lot of fun with the sprinkles.

 Brendan bought glow sticks for skiing at night, but they got used for dancing.

 Snow bunny cousins.

 This was their lift up.  It was actually a really long run for them from the top of the meadow.

Hazel is doing a little better than Hattie, so we are going to take Hazel on a ski date this Friday night to Brighton.

 I knew he was hiding something.  Stealing all the marshmallows that are supposed to be for the hot cocoa.

 Niels LOVED going down on this sled with the steering wheel.  He felt like he was steering his own car.

Niels even tried skiing, but it didn't go so well.  I think we will wait until he is older.

Oliver's First Surgery

Tuesday, February 16, 2016
We want to thank everyone for all of their fasting and prayers for Oliver and our family.  We felt a lot of peace during the surgery, and his recovery went better than we expected.

I want to document all of this for our records, so it is kind of long and detailed, but if you are not interested in all of the details you can just scroll down to the pictures.

The day of the surgery started early for me.  I had to wake up to feed Oliver at 3 am because that was the last time he could eat because he needed to be fasting before receiving anesthesia.  Then I had to get up at 4 am to get ready to leave by 5 am to check in at the hospital at 6 am up in Salt Lake.

The waiting room was already pretty busy when we got there, so there was a lot of waiting and check in procedures before the actual surgery started.  While we were waiting in one of the rooms for Oliver to have a check up, the nurse practitioner walked in and looked at Brendan and said, "You look very familiar."  Brendan explained he was here just two weeks ago with our daughter having surgery and she was the one who checked her out too.  She didn't recognize me though, because I came a little later because I was dropping off Oliver at Whitney's house.  It was kind of funny.

We changed Oliver into his gown and pants and went to another waiting room where all three surgeons separately came and talked to us and explained how things would go and any questions we had.  Then the anesthesiologist came and talked to us and explained everything.  We were worried Oliver might not be well enough because of the cold he had and that the surgery would be cancelled, but the anesthesiologist said it didn't sound like the cold was in his lungs and that it would be OK to proceed with the surgery.  The anesthesiologist is the one who takes him into surgery, so we walked with him as far as we could and then we kissed Oliver and said goodbye and handed him to the doctor.  I was a little emotional as I handed him off because you never know how things can go in surgery and how he would do going under the anesthesia.

Brendan and I headed downstairs to the waiting room with all of the other parents.  The nurse would call us every hour and a half and give us an update on how things were going with the surgery.  As we waited, lots of surgeons would come out and talk to each of the parents and tell them how everything went with their child.  Brendan was telling me it was kind of weird that they just talked openly about it with everyone around.  He was hoping they would take you into a room and discuss the details.  When Oliver was done the surgeons came out and told us to follow them.  They said they needed to find a room to speak with us, but Dr. Siddiqi kept reassuring us everything was fine and that it was just procedure, which was funny because no one else was doing that, so he didn't want us thinking they were going to a room to tell us terrible news.

They told us the surgery went well.  He was missing part of the dura, which is one of the layers covering the brain, but the two lower layers were in tact, so they just patched the missing part.  One of the risks would be if they didn't get a good seal then it could leak spinal fluid.  They told us to look for any leaking coming out of his stitches.  They also didn't need to do a blood transfusion, so that was great news.  They said he was being transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and we would be called up to see him in the next half hour or so.

The ophthalmologist also came and talked to us and told us that she took the probe through Oliver's tear duct and down through his nose a little, but it was getting stuck in some tissue.  When she came back up through the tissue it would close right back up.  She said she might have done a little to help it, but most likely his eye would still be goopy because it was clogged inside his nose and an ENT would need to fix it.  

When we first saw Oliver he was asleep in the crib, but would whimper every minute or so.  The nurse told us he had been in a lot of pain and had been screaming and very upset and that he had finally calmed down just now.  I wanted to hold him, but she said if he stays calm it's best to leave him in there.  A short time later he started crying again, and I was finally able to hold him.  The nurse was explaining to me that right after surgery it's the hardest because they don't like the way they are feeling waking from the anesthesia, and they are also trying to figure out his pain management.  They were giving him morphine in his IV so it was immediate and then he was getting Tylenol and Oxycodine.  He was trying to sleep, but you know when you are crying for so long you are all worked up and you can't calm down and breathe right, that's how he was as I was holding him.  I tried nursing him, but he just cried and didn't want it.  After holding him for 2 hours, the nurse gave me a break and held him while Brendan and I went upstairs to go eat.  A kind friend of Brendan's surprised us by dropping off dinner, so we went upstairs in the Ronald McDonald Room and ate for a little while.  When we came back an hour later, the nurse was feeding Oliver a bottle of pedialyte and he was chowing down.  She said he had also slept for 30 minutes straight in her arms.  I was so surprised.  We were told he probably wouldn't want to eat for at least 24 hours, and he normally doesn't take a bottle at all.  I was so happy that he was doing so well!  He was more alert when I was holding him too.  Later in the evening Oliver started nursing, so that was great.

That night Brendan went to my sister's house to sleep, and I spent the night on a pull out chair/bed in Oliver's room.  The next day Oliver was transferred out of the PICU and to a regular room.  He had more swelling and bruising around his eyes, but was still happy.  The doctor's kept saying that his swelling would get even worse, but it never really did.  One of the doctor's told me he looked great for the procedure that he had and that he must have a great capacity for healing.

When Brendan woke up at my sister's house he wasn't feeling well at all.  He went back home and laid in the bed for the next three days, so he wasn't able to be with Oliver and I up at the hospital.

The next few days went really well in the hospital.  I kind of got in a routine of going down to the cafeteria for my breakfast and lunch and then my dinners were brought to me.  One night Whitney visited and brought me dinner and a balloon and toys for Oliver, and another night Bruce and Jessica came and brought dinner, snacks, and a balloon for Oliver.

The nurses were great, and I appreciated their kindness.  Oliver had his surgery on a Wednesday and was released that Saturday.  I couldn't believe how well and fast his recovery was!  I was expecting to take home a swollen fussy baby that I would have to hold all day, and here he was crawling around at home a couple of days later!  We only had him on Tylenol for 2 days after he got home for pain relief and that was it.  We really felt blessed and know that it all went so well because of the prayers and fasting on our behalf.

We just had a follow up appointment with Dr. Siddiqi last Tuesday and that same morning Oliver rolled off the bed and hit his head on the bassinet and opened up about 6 of the stitches on the top of his head.  I felt terrible!  Dr. Siddiqi just put ointment on it and said it would be fine.  He said his healing was looking good.  Visible swelling usually lasts for 8 weeks and then underneath for 6 months.  Before any more procedures they want to make sure that the bone graft is getting a good  blood supply and that the bone on the back side of his head where they took from is regenerating.  They put a mesh plate in where they took the bone from and that should dissolve within a year.  They will do a CT  scan later to see that there are no gaps in the bones.  His forehead has a scab on it right now where they cut out some of the stretched out excess skin, but that will heal fine and then later when more of the swelling goes down they will get rid of more of the excess skin and also fix his hairline.  Right now there is a circle spot with no hair, but that will be tucked under his hairline.

I asked about the timing on Oliver's nose again to see if we could at least close it up, and he said that he actually has pretty big ears (thanks to his genetics) and we could probably fix his nose at the end of the year.  I was happy to hear that.

We also discussed the placement of his eyes, but Dr. Siddiqi said that is a major surgery that he doesn't think he will need because he said his eyes are not that far apart.  It is kind of risky with the optical nerves and would just be cosmetic.  He said the corner of your outer eye is supposed to be higher than your inner corner and his are not, so they will fix that with an upcoming surgery and it will help how his eyes look.  Boston said they wouldn't do anything with the placement of his eyes until he was 7-9 years old, so that is not something we will worry about for a while.

So overall Oliver is doing well.  He officially started crawling a day before his surgery, and his first tooth broke through 2 days before his surgery.  He is strong and is making so many more sounds.  We know we are truly blessed.

I'm so grateful for all of the volunteers at the hospital that helped to make our stay better.  There is the Ronald McDonald Room in the hospital that has a fully stocked kitchen that parents can use and they have business', families, and youth groups that prepare and serve meals, they have shower rooms, and nap rooms, and a living room area to make it feel less like a hospital.  It is all staffed by volunteers.  One day I was able to go up and wash my sweats after Oliver threw up all over them in the night.  There are also toys and clothes that people donate for the children.  One day there was a man that played songs on his guitar in the hall that I listened to as I was in the room with Oliver.  It really made me want to donate my time and talents to others and become more involved because it made such a difference for me.

Being at Primary Children's Hospital for a few days was really a unique experience and gave me a lot time to think and reflect.  There are so many children and families going through so many difficult things and it was hard for me to watch.  As we waited in that waiting room we saw and heard a lot.  There was one family with a daughter who had a kidney transplant and I heard the parents talking about how she will always take anti rejection drugs and hopefully this would last 10 years, and then they would hope for another donor.  Another little boy looked about 1 was having a heart bypass surgery.  In the PICU in the room next to ours as I was feeding Oliver at 4 am, I heard the nurses talking about the girl who had cancer and she was throwing up again and couldn't keep anything down.  As I went in and out I saw her Dad by her side through the night and her Mom who came in the morning.  I figured they had other children and were taking shifts.  I saw the same parents of those from the waiting room walking the halls of the hospital throughout the week.  I thought of all of the suffering of these little ones, and I thought of our Savior suffering through all of it.  I know that our Savior knows each of us individually and because of him we can receive comfort and peace during these difficult times and sometimes burdens that seem too hard to bear.  I know we have felt his peace and comfort through all of this with Oliver and because of it I have developed a greater love for my Savior.

So happy before surgery!  All of the nurses couldn't believe how smiley and happy he was especially since he hadn't eaten since 3 am.

Oliver cuddling with Dad while all of the doctors and nurses were explaining procedures.

First time we saw him after surgery.

It was so hard to watch him in pain.

This was the day after surgery, and I was so happy that he was interested in playing and kind of himself even though his eyes were swollen shut.

They took off Oliver's head wrap on Friday and this is what the drain tube looked like under his scalp right before they pulled it out.  It was kind of creepy looking.  He was also off oxygen that day.

Pretty clean cut if you ask me.  

On Friday he was starting to get pretty active and back to normal, so luckily they had toys to entertain him for a while.

Jessica had little Evelyn paint this heart.  I thought it was so cute!

This was just two days after surgery.  Brendan wasn't there so I was documenting it for him to see too, so try and ignore my annoying mom voice.

Checking out!

The hospital sent home doctor kits and stuffed dolls for the other kids and they were over the top with excitement.  Surgeries have been all the talk around here these days.  The other day Niels kept telling Hattie that he was going to have surgery too, and Hattie insisted he wasn't.  Of course they had to come talk to me to find out who was right.

These are pictures of Oliver 2 weeks after the surgery and healing so well.  When Hattie saw him she said, "He still has a bump."  He does still have a bit of a bump, but it will continue to go down over the next month.

 Dr. Siddiqi and Oliver at his follow up appointment.

As we were in the waiting room at our follow up appointment and going into the back, a lady passed this note to Brendan and said, "Please give this to your wife."  When I first read it I wasn't quite sure what struggle she was referring to.  Was she talking about Oliver and his complications?  I have had some embarrassing struggles with my kids in public places, but I didn't remember anything like that, but then I thought I think I'm just used to the everyday juggling of kids and don't notice much anymore.  I did have Oliver on my lap getting a little fussy and also Niels was on my lap at the same time having me read him a story.  This lady only had a baby with her, so I'm not sure if it was her first, but I thought it was so nice of her to write the note, and it touched me.

No, Brendan did not have surgery but remember how I mentioned he was sick while I was at the hospital with Oliver?  Well he thought he was feeling well enough to go back to work and then a couple of days later he was in the worst pain of his life in his lower back.  His kidneys were killing him, and he thought maybe he had a kidney stone.  He could barely walk, and I took him to the emergency room.  They ran some blood tests and did a CT scan of his stomach.  He actually had strep throat.  He kind of felt like a pansy, but apparently strep throat left untreated can be very dangerous and even cause kidney failure or heart failure.  They gave him some morphine in his IV, an antibiotic shot, and a prescription for some pain killer and sent him on his way.  It took him just a couple more days and then he starting feeling better.  It was a crazy month in January for us, but I guess our deductible is out of the way.

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