We had our ultrasound Friday. A didn’t have school, so everybody went with us. The ultrasound tech was so thrilled that everybody could be there to witness this. It must have been a good idea to go first thing in the morning because she put the wand on my stomach and this popped right up:
A perfect profile view. He was so cooperative. Yes, he. Because we are having another boy, naturally! The odds weren’t in our favor for anything else!
I will say that DH had a blessing some years ago, even before we met and got married, in which he was promised that he would be the father of sons . . . oh, and a daughter. She was kind of an afterthought. I really wasn’t happy when he told me that, because of course, I had always wanted daughters. But we had a boy, then another boy, and yet another boy. It became our joke to ask when would this prophesied daughter come???
I knew E was going to be our fourth boy. I just knew it. I also knew he wouldn’t be our last, even after it took many years of waiting and praying for him to come, and I was beginning to wonder if I would ever be able to be pregnant again. Then I had a blessing while I was pregnant with him in which I was promised that there were children (yes, plural) that were still waiting to come to our family. When we found ourselves pregnant again, I was fairly certain that Little A would be our long awaited daughter, even before we knew for sure.
I actually was really hoping she would be twins so we could get those children and be done with it in one more pregnancy. I was 39 after all. (But I’m really glad she wasn’t twins, as I can’t imagine having two newborns at once, or two toddlers, or two almost-3-year-olds. She’s been a handful lately! I can barely keep track of one of her!)
Despite our joking before, I always knew that we would have that daughter. I trusted in God, and in that promised blessing given to DH and just knew that if I got pregnant, we would have our girl eventually.
My thinking has been different in the last little while though. DH and I had talked about, maybe, is there one more baby for us? But mostly, in the last year, I was avoiding having that conversation. I trusted Heavenly Father to fulfill his promise of more children for our family, but I was having a harder time trusting in myself that I could do my part in bringing about the fulfillment of that promise. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to. Little A’s pregnancy was quite difficult for me. I was just so sick for so long, and in quite a lot of discomfort, bordering on pain, the last few months carrying her. Her delivery was no cakewalk either. But I thought about those promised children waiting for us and couldn’t just close that door to them.
Then I turned 40, then 41. Now I’m 42, and here we are, and yes, it was actually a surprise this time. And yes, it’s been a lot harder to be pregnant at 42 than it was at 26. I had three boys in four years; I never thought it would take another twelve years to bring three more babies into this world. I think my journey through motherhood has taught me, more than any other experience, to rely on the Lord. I’m not in charge of my life; He is. He has a plan, and it will be more perfect than anything I could have come up with on my own.
Speaking of perfect, look at this perfect little leg and foot:
I always love to see these little babies on ultrasound. I’ve been feeling him move for several weeks now, but it’s amazing to me that something so small (6 inches long and just over 1.5 lbs now) can be so perfectly formed and moving around and beautiful. It really is beautiful.
The boys thought it was cute that he waved to us. Little A was a little sad at first, though. We had talked up maybe having a baby sister for her. But when the ultrasound tech handed her the printed pictures, Little A said, “It’s my baby brother!”
So we’ll have one daughter and five sons. Naturally, the choice for lunch was:
What does it say about us that all the 7-year-old wanted for his birthday was to sit and play Minecraft???
He’s definitely my kid. Sometimes I too just want to sit by myself for a day and do my thing uninterrupted, without having to be social. He asked for omelettes for breakfast and was very specific that he wanted to have cake after breakfast and open presents then. Originally he had to go to Kindermusik right at dinnertime, which probably lead to the breakfast/cake idea, but class got cancelled last minute so that was fortuitous. I then had no dinner plans though, so we ordered pizza. Grandma and Poppa called this afternoon and E told them he definitely feels different now that he’s seven.
He requested a lemon bundt cake this year. Knowing that he wanted to have it right after breakfast, I had planned to make it last night. DH had to work until midnight and I had a Relief Society activity to go to. When I got home, A was catching up on science classes online and nobody else was remotely ready for bed. We were out of milk and down to eleven eggs, and I knew the cake needed seven, plus we were planning on omelettes so I’d need to go shopping. I also knew Little A really needed to go to bed before I could go to the store.
Finally at 10:30 I made it out the door! E stayed up to wait for me because he really really wanted to help bake his cake. It took more time than I thought it would to juice lemons and whip the egg whites, but I think that cake finally went in the oven about quarter to midnight! He was asleep about five minutes later! He is actually helpful in the kitchen though so I was glad of his help. (Little A is a completely different story!)
It was supposed to cool in the pan completely for one hour, but I was not about to stay up any longer waiting to take it out, so it stayed in the pan all night and didn’t quite come out smoothly this morning. The frosting was very thick which didn’t help matters, but it’s the taste that counts, not the crumbs in the frosting, right?
Thank goodness for good insurance!
The boys have physicals for scouts every summer. When A was twelve, the doctor mentioned a slight curve in his spine, but it really wasn’t anything to worry about. I don’t recall anything being said about it the next two summers.
This summer however, the doctor was concerned and as he estimated it was getting close to a 20-degree curve, recommended we call Primary Children’s Hospital and find an orthopedic surgeon that specialized in scoliosis to see A. “But it could take months to get into a specialist…”
We called that day and amazingly were able to get an appointment with Dr. John Smith in just two weeks if we were willing to drive to his Riverton office. So in our first appointment at the beginning of August, A had a full set of chest x-rays, and within five minutes of Dr. Smith coming in to talk to us and viewing the x-rays, we were discussing spinal fusion surgery.
Um, wait, what?
Apparently our regular doctor was completely batty estimating a 20-degree curve (not the first time I’ve had that opinion of him) because A had a 51-degree curvature of his upper thoracic spine–a C-curve. Luckily he didn’t have an S-curve; his lower vertebrae were straight which is good as all of your bending, lifting, and twisting motions come from your lower back. Dr. Smith said it was called Ideopathic Adolescent Scoliosis, which basically means they don’t know what causes it, but sometimes during growth spurts, spines just don’t develop correctly.
A watch and wait approach is generally taken for anything under a 20-degree curve. Between 20 and 40-degrees (if I’m remembering correctly), bracing can be done, but that isn’t a permanent fix, it just keeps the curvature from progressing during growth spurts. Looking at A’s pelvic and hip bones, most of his skeletal growth is done so we completely missed the window for bracing. And curvatures over 50-degrees tend to keep curving at the rate of 1-degree per year. So when he’s 30, he could have a 65-degree curve.
On his x-rays we could already see how the right ribs were spreading apart and the left ones were scrunching together, which eventually would compress his lungs and all other organs in his chest cavity. So surgery was really the best and only option. But I was in shock. A, on the other hand, was completely calm and accepting of the whole idea. Even Dr. Smith remarked later that A was the probably the least anxious patient he had ever operated on.
We decided November would be a good time for surgery as it would be after our Hawaii trip but before the holidays. A would also need a full six month recovery after spinal fusion and he wanted to be ready and able to do all the scout stuff next summer.
Our regular doctor had also recommended we call Shriner’s as it would be a whole lot cheaper, but we couldn’t even get an initial appointment until October, and who knows when we would have gotten A into surgery. It was also with a different surgeon, and in doing research, we were pretty sure we already had the best guy in the business. Dr. Smith has done thousands of spinal fusion surgeries at Primary’s and we had a really good feeling about sticking with him, plus the timing worked out perfectly for A’s recovery.
Our first surgery was scheduled for Halloween, but Dr. Smith’s office had to reschedule, so on Monday, November 14, A went under the knife. It was one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mornings. At least for me. DH had worked until midnight the night before, and we had to be at Primary’s at 5:45 in the morning. I didn’t have a chance to eat anything before we left and my morning sickness was in full swing that week, plus the stress and worry were not helping. What am I doing to my child?? It’s a very painful surgery and A hasn’t even had any back pain or any kind of discomfort up to this point. But we knew it was the best time to have it done so his curvature didn’t get any worse and as the doctor assured us, kids always bounce back from surgery much easier than adults do. But still, I was a mess.
A, on the other hand, did tremendously well. We were surprised when the surgeon came out to say he was done already. It went quickly and he said it could not have gone more perfectly. In our pre-op appointment he said he had to warn us of the complications, but also said he hadn’t paralyzed anybody yet and didn’t intend to start now. They had monitors on A’s fingers, toes, and brain that would register if his spinal cord was under any stress and they could immediately stop the surgery, but there wasn’t even a blip at all. Getting his initial IV in was a chore because his hands were too cold, but surgery went just perfectly.
He took forever coming out of the anesthesia though, and told us the same story about going back to the OR about three times because he didn’t remember telling us two minutes before. It was pretty funny. Then we were taken up to his room in the Neuro/Trauma unit where he was hooked up to a whole lot of devices. He had an IV, two epidurals (one pelvic, one thoracic), and a drain that drained away all the blood and gunk out of his wound. I tried not to look at it.
He should have been in the hospital until Friday, but when I got there on Tuesday morning, he was sitting up in the chair next to his bed, which was Wednesday’s goal. His nurses said most spinal fusion patients are screaming in pain just sitting up on the side of his bed the day after surgery, so they all thought he was quite the rock star! On Wednesday he walked out to the hallway and back, then spent the rest of the day in bed playing video games and getting pretty bored.
All he had to do to come home was be able to climb stairs, both up and down. So on Thursday when the physical therapist came, he was ready to do it. She wheeled him out to a stairwell and he climbed down, then up, then walked clear back to his room and said, “OK, can I go home now?” It took a good three hours to get everything signed off and ready for discharge, but then he surprised everyone by coming home a day early!
He really missed his hospital bed and his five pillows that first night, but has done so well since. He even got up and went to seminary and choir the next Tuesday because he was feeling so well, although he did panic a little when he realized he’d left his oxycodone and ibuprofen tablets at home on the counter. I rescued him, and he was glad it was then Thanksgiving break so he could rest up after that exertion. He got a little anxious when his oxycodone and valium were running low, but by the time they were gone, he really only needed ibuprofen anyway and is now down to just taking it as he feels he needs it. He’s had a few bad days, but for the most part is doing so well, although he’s been banned from walking in the ice and snow. We’re not taking any chances! And no BLT: bending, lifting (anything over 10 pounds), or twisting for six months. He’s gained a couple inches in height and his back looks so much straighter now. It’s amazing what a couple of rods and a whole lot of $$$ can do!
***Edited to add: I had heard that sometimes the bone needed to do graft the vertebrae to the rods was harvested from your hip bones, but Dr. Smith said, thank heavens, no. He doesn’t do that; that’s a more painful surgery than spinal fusion. He uses cadaver bone instead, so that’s interesting.
And the nurse in the recovery room, besides gushing about Dr. Smith, told us about her brother who had severe scoliosis as a young man in the 1960s when they didn’t have near the kinds of options for correcting it that they do today. He was always self conscious about his back with its hunch and never dated or got married because of it. Eventually he had a rod put it, but fell once and dislodged the rod and never had it fixed. To this day he is extremely hunched over, has to have oxygen because his lungs are so compressed, and really doesn’t have a good quality of life. So the nurse told A that it really was an amazing thing he’d just gone through and he wouldn’t have to worry about so many of the things her brother deals with now. I think she’s right. I’m amazed when I look at him, taller and straighter now. I’m glad we did this.
Or rather, birthday season began, as these two were almost a month ago. Either a) we’re really boring, or b) we’ve just been through a lot the last little while because nobody had any great and exciting plans for their birthdays. I’m guessing it’s option b, what with sickness, surgery, and Mom suffering with morning sickness all of November.
D turned twelve and when I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said, “It’s on Sunday, Mom.” Like we can’t celebrate another day of the week! He finally did come up with going to SmashBurger for dinner with the family, which was nice because DH had to work on D’s actual birthday. We had to facetime with him for presents and blowing out candles on cake.
We gave him tiger pjs, a lego set, and a book about the priesthood. He opened gifts from Grandma and Poppa while they stayed here for Thanksgiving, but (let’s blame pregnancy brain) I can’t even remember what all of them were. I just know this child is due for a growth spurt. The rest of his body needs to catch up with his arms. We’re buying size 14 and the shirt sleeves are already too short, yet, depending on the brand, the pant legs might be six inches too long.
Six days later, A turned 16. That’s a big birthday, but he can’t drive yet although he does have his learner’s permit. He can date now too, but doesn’t seem to have much interest, which is just fine with me! He did express an interest in having a birthday party though. We haven’t done a party with friends in years, mostly for lack of friends, plus winter birthday parties were such a pain to host inside our little downtown house.
At first he had about twenty friends on a list, only four of which were girls. I told him he might want to even out the boy/girl ratio a bit, or else just invite the boys. He decided that might be better.
I’m actually thrilled that he has a really good group of friends right now. C has always lucked out in the friend department with other boys his age at church and scouts, but A has never had more than a couple boys his age in our old ward and scout troop, and he wasn’t particularly close friends with any of them. Since we moved, he’s enjoyed having friends at church, but we still haven’t connected with too many other homeschoolers his age.
But this year he wanted to take choir at the high school, so we signed him up for that and seminary. I put them together on his schedule, but then the schedule changed and he ended up having lunch period between the two. I think he felt a little lost at lunch the first couple of weeks, but then he found a really great group of guys to hang out and eat lunch with, some of whom are in Men’s Chorus with him plus a few of their other friends, and he’s really been enjoying going every other day.
So he ended up with eight people total at his party, which was the perfect amount to sit around our kitchen table and play board games and eat food all afternoon. It was a good mix of friends from school, our ward, and trek last summer. It sounded like they all had a really great time and told him to be sure and do it again next year. I told him later that you don’t have to wait for a birthday to have a party, but we’ll see how ambitious he gets. We’re not exactly party people around here.
Grandma and Poppa came towards the end of the party and we all sang “Happy Birthday.” After his friends left, he opened all the presents from the rest of us. He got some nice pants and a pullover, the Catan game, another brain twister game, a book, a new tie, a daily calendar (again I can’t remember the theme exactly), and a sweater which finally arrived two weeks late.
After dinner, we sang again with a different cake, as it was also Grandma’s birthday and I was trying out a gluten-free chocolate cake for her. I originally bought the ‘7’ candle for E’s birthday next month, but it worked for this day as well because A is 16, and Grandma is 67. (No one is 167.)
Earlier that morning D and A were both interviewed and the next day, on Sunday, A was ordained to the office of priest, and D received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of deacon by DH. It was a good Sabbath.
Our final gift arrived today: John Williams Greatest Hits for piano. It was expected by January 6, so I was going to call it a “Happy Orthodox Christmas” present. It was definitely a piano Christmas around here this year. In addition to John Williams, I got the newest Piano Guys book for the boys, and Grandma and Poppa gave them all piano books (and organ for A). We’ve been playing “Name that Tune” all week as they sightread through them. We have the most success if A is at the keyboard, but C has definitely improved in his sightreading abilities over the past year.
This is probably the funniest thing to come out of Christmas. Little A has seen the show Paw Patrol maybe a couple of times only, but E has had Paw Patrol toothpaste for a while now. (Which tastes exactly like Thomas the Tank Engine toothpaste and Sesame Street toothpaste if you’re wondering.) When Little A opened this book, she got really excited and said, “A toofpaste book!!”
We got a really good laugh out of it.
As I was going through a year’s worth of pictures to make the calendars for the grandparents, I realized there are so many events I missed posting about this year! Not to mention just the little everyday things as well. I seem to have lost the writing bug, although I’m always composing posts in my head that never see the light of day.
I was planning to get caught up on some of them over the Christmas break, but it’s already Wednesday night and I’ve done very little this week except for visiting Grandma J on Monday afternoon and spending yesterday and today having a Lord of the Rings movie marathon with DH and the older boys. And laundry. Every time we changed a disk, I switched loads from washer to dryer, and dryer to couch. I’m down to two loads to finish up tomorrow. It’s a fairly efficient system, except we all need to have a tv detox day and not watch anything for a
while very long time.
I think tomorrow is going to be my organization day. I’m in sore need of one. If your kids are like mine and have the Chatbooks Christmas commercial memorized then you’ll know that my bedroom is my holiday room and it’s a “hot mess of shame.” It’s (still) covered in Christmas wrapping paper, tape, scissors, tags, birthday wrapping paper, birthday presents for the next two children (why did I have babies this time of year anyway?), clothes that don’t fit, clothes that sort of fit, clothes that will fit eventually, all the piles I never sorted for A’s birthday party but just kind of moved from the kitchen counters to my bedroom floor, and all my usual piles of reading books, cello music, and school books/papers that need to be sorted out by next week. The past two months of morning sickness on top of the regular life stress have not been kind to me and my bedroom shows it.
At least DH and the boys finally recycled all the amazon.com shipping boxes and paraphernalia that were getting to be an unstable teetering mass of cardboard inside my bedroom. Why is my room the dumping ground? When I find out, I’ll let you know.
2017 will be the year I get organized, right? Right? I’d really like my bedroom to be my oasis of calm.
I did get a beautiful new journal to use as a new bullet journal for 2017. Partly because I completely lost my old one (that’s how my life has gone lately) and partly because it’s a new year and I needed (ok, wanted) something pretty and fresh and new. I thought I needed new pens too, but I went on a pen search and raided my music/computer bag and came up with eight so I think I’m good for a while. I’m a pen snob (Black Pilot G2 with the .38 mm ultra fine point) and buy them in boxes of a dozen so I don’t run out. I think everyone else likes them a little bit too well too. If I raided their school boxes I might find another three or four.
If I can get a bit more organized on paper, maybe I’ll start getting caught up on other things like blogging again. It’s been two months to the day since we came home from Hawaii and nary a picture has shown up here, but I really enjoyed looking through them and making a collage for my parents for Christmas. I do intend to blog about that. A had surgery, and both A and D had recent birthdays which I’d also like to get written about in some form or fashion. Wish me luck.
First thoughts on Christmas morning: “I don’t think we’ll be seeing any golfers out there today.”
It’s finally looking like winter. We awoke to the fruits of the first good snowstorm this year. Our neighbor measured almost eight inches of snow. I was excited, but then I didn’t have to go out and shovel the driveway. A is unable to shovel this winter as well, so the burden will fall on C and D this year.
I was surprised children weren’t clamoring at our door super early this year. C came in to take the dog out for a walk around 7 a.m. I guess D had been up for hours already at that point, but decided not to bother us. We knew we’d have to wake up A, but E and Little A were still sleeping until about 7:20. Little A ended up in my bed at some point during the night (a habit that needs to end) and when her brothers came to wake her up, she yelled at them.
“A, it’s Christmas!”
“You can get up and open your presents.”
I gave her a few minutes and then gently reminded her about her stocking and presents to open, and suddenly she remembered, gave me a huge smile, and jumped down out of bed. She was excited about everything. “I got a candy cane!”
“And crayons and fruit snacks!” (That sounded more like “huit hacks.”)
And that’s about all the pictures I took with my cell phone. When recharging your camera batteries, it helps if you don’t put your battery in upside down. I got a few nice pictures on Christmas Eve though.
A and C have been sightreading piano duets all week. It makes me happy to hear so much music and see them enjoying themselves together.
DH made bratwurst for dinner. Who needs a bun anyway?
I was just thankful he was home to cook. I was still feeling morning sick most of the week and struggled through the first half of the week while he was still working.
The tree was not my favorite this year. It’s a lot taller and skinnier than I usually like, but when we went to pick out a tree, I wasn’t feeling well and just wanted to get it over and done with rather than go look anywhere else for the perfect tree. I miss the tree lot in Salt Lake that was always like walking through a forest. But we got it decorated and made it through without the 2-year-old or the dog knocking it over which I think is pretty amazing.
We put presents out earlier than usual this year. Every day E would count the number of presents with his name on them, which was actually helpful. One day while I was out running errands and doing some grocery shopping, Little A managed to unwrap two of his presents, despite my new Gandalf ornament:
She can’t read yet, after all. I’m just grateful that A managed to hide them in my bedroom before E could see what they were.
We usually have crepes for breakfast on Christmas day, but with 11 a.m. church (which we were especially grateful wasn’t 9:00) we just bought a big package of little cereal boxes for breakfast and then had crepes for lunch after church. We had a musical program for sacrament meeting only. It was really nice, except DH had to go to work at noon, so we were on our own again.
Grandma and Poppa came for dinner after their church and driving through snow and ice and closed roads due to accidents. They brought still more presents, including a Christmas train set to go around the tree! It was a big hit.
We played all the new board games after dinner and at some point noticed that Little A had crawled under the table and fallen asleep.
She wasn’t happy about being moved to her bed, but I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it would have been to spend the night down there.