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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