Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Sorry for the blog silence! This past week has been pretty crazy with family in town and friends over to help take care of Grace during my recovery. I'm recovering well and today is actually my 28th birthday! I'm enjoying spending the day with Grace and Mike and of course I had to share this cute picture : ) I hope everyone has a great Halloween!

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Trials & (Heart)Tribulations

This past Thursday, I was scheduled to have my gallbladder removed. It's an outpatient procedure, and the surgeon assured me I would probably be able to go home the same day. My parents arrived Wednesday night to watch Grace during the surgery while Mike drove me to the hospital. We arrived early and the nurses quickly prepared me for surgery. I only had to be poked once to get my IV in, it normally takes anywhere from 4-7 times to get a good stick on me so this was impressive! I spoke to the surgeon and we both agreed it was a good day and I would be recovered in no time. That's the last thing I remember before my day got very very bad. This is what I remember:

I woke up and heard the nurses seriously conversing. They sounded worried and I wondered if something had gone wrong for another patient. I remember thinking that I felt worse than I should have. After having my appendix removed in February, I was tired but felt pretty good when I woke up. This time was different, I was very weak and I was having a hard time breathing. Instead of talking about sending me home, I heard them call someone to do a chest xray and echo cardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart) on me. I know that my parents, Grace and Mike were around during all of this but I honestly don't remember talking to them. All I remember is being in pain and getting various tests run on me. I remember hearing the cardiologist complain that he couldn't find anywhere to read my chest x-ray (it's strange what you remember!) The next thing I knew, I was being moved to the ICU.

Over the next few hours, the nurses explained that my heart rate had gone crazy during the surgery, my blood pressure had dropped extremely low (my mom said she saw it drop to somewhere around 57/45) and they had filled me full of fluid to try to stabilize me. The fluid had built up in my lungs which was basically drowning me from the inside. So they needed to keep me in the ICU until they could get my lungs cleared and my blood pressure and oxygen levels stabilized. I spent that night doing breathing treatments, coughing all of the fluid out of my lungs. Of course, I also had 4 fresh gallbladder incisions that burned and ached every time I moved so the coughing was horrible. I had multiple x-rays and blood draws. I was woken up at least every 2 hours so that they could take my vital signs and make me do the breathing treatments.  I was on oxygen, but refused pain meds because they made me extremely nauseous. Overall, I was miserable. To top it off, they didn't let Mike stay overnight with me and so I was alone. Oh and I had to pump through all of this too so my milk supply didn't tank.

Bright and early the next morning, a cardio resident came in and started explaining what had happened and what the plan was. By this point, I hadn't slept, I hadn't eaten or drank anything since Wednesday night and I was by myself, so while I tried hard to focus, most of what she was saying went over my head. However, my world stopped when I heard the words "heart attack" come out of her mouth. I asked her to repeat herself, and sure enough she said that I had had a heart attack during surgery. Those are words you never expect to hear as a 27 year old. I have been sick before, but generally I'm a pretty healthy person and I never imagined that I had any heart problems. I was so freaked out by then that I pretty much zoned out everything else she was saying.

Luckily, shortly after this, my family arrived and the cardiologist came in to tell us what was going on. It turns out that about 10% of heart attacks are not caused by any of the traditonal heart attack symptoms such as clogged or torn arteries, instead they are either caused by a small blood clot or a spasm of an artery. I have no risk factors for heart trouble such as high cholestoral, family history, or diabetes and so the doctor was fairly sure that I was in that 10%. He wanted to do a heart catheterization to ensure that there was no other cause of the attack. This involved inserting a tube into the artery in my leg up into my heart to take pictures. It was a quick, painless procedure. It felt a bit strange as I could feel something poking around in my chest, but luckily they found nothing of concern. I have the heart of a healthy 27 year old.

 After the exam, I had to sit totally still for 6 hours. The catheterization involves sticking the tube into an artery directly to the heart, so if the wound does not clot properly, you can bleed out in a matter of seconds. Sitting for that long was painful, but I did it and at the time I was allowed to eat and drink (after 48 hours) That made me much happier!

The doctors gave us the official diagnosis. I had Takotsubo syndrome, also called Broken Heart syndrome, stress cardiomyopathy, stress-induced cardiomyopathy or apical ballooning syndrome.

Basically, stress, either emotional or physical, for some reason causes the heart to stop functioning properly. There are a lot of medical details that I won't explain here, but the theory is that the stress of the surgery temporarily "stunned" my heart causing it to stop pumping blood properly, leading to the erratic pulse and low pressure. This syndrome is just now being studied extensively in the US and there are still a lot of things that doctors still don't understand. They don't know what causes the attacks, but they do know that a full recovery is likely. These kind of heart attacks do not leave any permanant damage, and the heart fully recovers within 2-3 months. There is no evidence showing that it will ever happen to me again. I still have the same restrictions as anyone who had a heart attack has. I have to go to cardiac rehab to help strengthen my heart and I cannot drive or lift anything over 10 lbs for 2 weeks.

These restrictions are extremely difficult for me to follow as Grace now weighs 20 lbs and loves to crawl all over me. Thankfully my parents and Grandma Barb and Grandpa Doc were able to watch Grace the entire time I was in the hospital, but they couldn't stay forever. Mike was able to get some time off of work to help and I have some wonderful friends and family who have offered to come during the days to help take care of Grace. She does not understand why I can't lift her and why she can't crawl all over me. My incisions are still healing, so I'm having to be very careful about my movements. I can't get down on the floor to play with her and she can't lay on my lap to cuddle. It's been hard and I can't wait until these 2 weeks are over. It's very hard for me to ask for help like this, I can't stand not being able to be alone with my daughter.

I was able to come home on Saturday afternoon after 2 long exhausting nights in the ICU. I have been trying to rest as much as possible, but I'm already going a little stir crazy!

I have a very long road to recovery, but I am happy to say that I should fully recover. This has been the scariest week of my life. I didn't realize at the time how serious my condition really was, but it can be fatal if not properly cared for. Thank God for the wonderful doctors and nurses and for all my family and friends that have helped this past week.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

In memory of a friend

One conversation. I didn't think anything of it at the time. Now I can't get it out of my head.

On Tuesday of last week, I had a short facebook conversation with a friend from work, Lois. She was another assistant who I didn't get to see often, but we always had a great time when we saw each other. I hadn't seen her since before having Grace. I got busy and then she got extremely busy when she started having health problems and delivered her little girl in May at 23 weeks weighing only 14 oz. Lois had delivered a stillborn little boy over a year ago at 28 weeks, so this turn of events was even more devastating for them. But against all odds, Melody fought and Lois and her husband, Kaleb, got to bring her home weighing nearly 6 lbs a couple of weeks ago. I was so happy for them.

We only had a short conversation; catching up about our little girls and planning to get together in the spring (I didn't want to expose Melody to any of the cold/flu germs.) It was good to talk to her again and I was excited to see her and Melody.

Then, on Saturday night, I heard the heartbreaking news that Lois had been rushed to the hospital Tuesday night and was taken off of life support on Saturday. She passed away shortly after surrounded by her friends and family. I was devastated. I had just talked to her.

She will never get to see her daughter grow up.
Melody will never get to meet her mother.
Kaleb lost not only his best friend and wife, but the mother of his child.
He has staggering medical bills from Melody and Lois' care.
He is now a single dad with a preemie daughter.

I know God has a plan, but I don't understand this at all. It's not fair.

I am glad I got to talk to her one last time. I wish I would have known....there are so many things I would have said to her. She was such an amazing person. She was so strong and had such an inspirational faith. I will miss her.

If you would like to help Kaleb and Melody or learn more about their family, you can visit this site: Please keep them in your prayers.

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9 Months! (3 days late)

My dearest baby girl,

You are 9 months old today. I can hardly believe it. It feels like just yesterday that you were born, but at the same time it's hard to remember life without you. You didn't want to sit still for your 9 month photos, so I did the best I could!

You are such a joy at this age, daddy and I are constantly cracking up at your antics!
  • You are still fitting in your 9-12 month clothes! I really didn't think that would happen. Now that you're mobile, you're starting to lose your baby fat (I'm sad about that) and some of your 12 month pants are actually too big around the waist now. 
  • You have mastered army crawling but still aren't sure about real crawling yet. You will do it if you are close to what you want, but otherwise you just drop down and army crawl.
  • You pull up on everything now. Me, daddy, the coffee table, your toys, the bathtub, basically anything and everything you can find. We've had to do a bit more baby proofing to make sure you aren't reaching anything you're not supposed to have!
  •  If we hold your hands, you consistently take steps. As a graceful girl already, you always walk on your tippy toes!
  • Your hair suddenly decided to come in this month and I think it's going to be dark like daddy's.
  • I've finally decided your eyes are going to stay blue. They are dark blue like Papa's and they have a whitish yellow line around the pupil just like daddy's. This is the best picture I have of the color!
  • You are so silly. You love to talk to people in stores, sing, and chase the dogs.
  • You love to eat. We've started feeding you more table foods this month and you love feeding yourself. Your favorite thing to eat right now is chunks of banana. You also like to grab people's straws and try to drink whatever is in their cup. You've managed to drink papa's lemonade and cherry limeade (although I think he might have helped you out with that!) We're still going strong breastfeeding and I don't think we'll be stopping anytime soon. You have no interest in a bottle and will not drink breast milk out of a cup.
  • You have 6 teeth, 2 on the bottom and 4 on the top and are working on the 7th on the bottom right.
  • You love anything on hinges. Closing doors, turning pages in books and the handles on the coffee table are all lots of fun.
  • Your favorite song is Old McDonald!
You are getting so big. We love you so much and can't wait to see what the next month brings!

Mommy and Daddy

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Couponing Update

I have started slowing down my couponing efforts. I never sat out to have a huge stockpile and it's amazing how quickly stuff has been stacking up. I only want to get things we will actually use. So my couponing trips have been for absolutely free items or things we really need. Here's what I've gotten over the last several weeks.

2 Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners- Walmart- We use a ton of these. I got them for $.87 each after 2 $1 off coupons
2 bottles of Excedrin- CVS $.99 each= $1.98 + 1.98 ECB= Free!
5 Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaners- Walmart- $3.97 each + 5 $4 coupons= $.03 moneymaker on each!
2 Softsoap body washes- CVS I don't remember the deal on this, sorry! I know they were cheap!
Renu contact solution- CVS- $8.99- $2 coupon= $6.99 + 7 ECB= Free!
Schick Quattro for Women Razor- CVS- $8.99- $5 coupon= $3.99 + 4 ECB= Free
Transformers toy- Target- $9.99 - $5 off manufacturer coupon + $5 off Target mobile coupon= Free!
Carters 18 month outfit- Target- $2.33 on clearance- I love cheap baby clothes
MyPublisher mini photobook of Grace- Free with free shipping!
Trident Gum- CVS- $1 for 3
Swiffer Duster- free from Vocalpoint
4 Covergirl blushes- Walmart- $3.74 each= $14.96- 2 $8 off 2 coupons= $1.04 moneymaker!
Carmex lip balm- CVS- Free after rebate
2 Aquafresh toothpastes- Walmart- $.97 each + 2 $1 off coupons= $.03 moneymaker on each!
Nursery Water bag- Free from Facebook giveaway
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

I am so excited that we are getting close to the holiday season. I love the holidays and I know they will be so much more fun with Grace around. There are so many family traditions that we want to start this year and we decided to try the first one this past weekend, making a yearly trip to the Pumpkin Patch!

We decided to go to one that is close to Mike's family so we could visit them before heading to the pumpkin patch. We had great visits, unfortunately Grace was starting to get tired from being so social and adorable. So by the time we arrived at the pumpkin patch she was a little grumpy. But we pushed on because we had paid to get in and we really wanted to get some cute pictures. The beginning of the trip went well!

 Then she got fascinated with the tractor and refused to look at me.

 And when we sat her down next to pumpkins, she absolutely refused to look at either one of us.

 If we tried to make her face the camera, she just shut her eyes
 She really wanted to eat the pumpkins!

Daddy tried to distract her, but it didn't work.

It was pretty much a photo fail and we didn't even get a family picture. I was pretty disappointed but we might try again to get some cute fall pictures. I am happy that we went and I can't wait to go next year when she'll enjoy it so much more!
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I couldn't pick just one.
Hi mom! She only crawls on all 4's when she's close to whatever she wants to pull up on, otherwise it's all army crawling!

The table is fun to play under!! She was singing I think.

What's this thing?

Love her.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Baby love

I'm linking up to the Toddle Along Tuesday blog hop today over at Growing up Geeky and the topic is something that you love about your child.

I will be honest, when I sat down to write this post, I thought: Wow, this is going to be easy! And then I started thinking.....and thinking....and thinking some more. I could write about thousands of things I love about her. Seriously, I can't choose just one! I could write for days about every little thing she does that makes my heart melt and all the times she makes us laugh, but I know you don't want to read that much and eventually I do need to go to bed, so I finally picked one thing.

I love her spirit. I love that she is strong willed and fiery. She knows what she wants and she gets it. I was always a pretty passive child. Overall, I still tend to be more of a follower than a leader. But not Grace, I can already tell she's got her daddy's spirit. She will be a leader. It's funny how I can tell that already but it's pretty obvious to me! She has no fear and she is getting to be so out going. She turns around in the shopping cart trying to get everyone's attention and she leans her head back in her high chair in restaurants and tries to talk to people. I see so many laid back babies, Grace is not one of them! She is such a little personality already and I love seeing it come out more and more each day!

One of the first times she pulled up on her activity table, please ignore the drool!

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Must Read Monday- Vampires!

If you have not read the Twilight series, shame on you. While Stephenie Meyer is certainly not the greatest writer in the world, she certainly can be credited with starting the vampire addiction that is present in YA literature at the moment. Go to Barnes and Noble and look around the teen section, I guarantee you that at least half of the books (probably more like 75%) are based around some supernatural being, vampires, werewolves, etc. When the Twilight series ended (quite badly in my opinion,) I desperately began to search for a new YA vampire series and one of my friends recommended the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead.

The cover did not instantly grab my attention and I was hesitant to try it. However, from the first chapter I was hooked. This is a more mature vampire series and it deals with topics that Twilight teen readers might not be ready for. However, adults will love the detailed world that Read has created. If you loved Twilight, you will probably love this series. If you hated Twilight because Meyer ruined everything about vampires, give this series a try! These are not your traditional vampires, but I promise they don't glitter!

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Friday, October 7, 2011


I'm feeling uninspired and tired today. Grace has decided that sleeping is no fun. She has a small infection in her eye and we now have to put antibiotic drops in it 4 times a day. Trying to put drops into a baby's eye is pretty much impossible. She wiggles and cries all while closing her eyes as tightly as she can.

Also, I'm going to be having my gallbladder removed in a few weeks. I'm not looking forward to the surgery but I will be glad for the pain to go away.

I'm ready for everyone in our house to be healthy again.....

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tasty Thursday

I have cooked new recipes from Pinterest several times in the past few weeks and I thought I'd share one that I actually remembered to take a picture of! I found this recipe for Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne on Real Mom Kitchen. We love pasta and I am a huge cheese addict, so I figured it would be a perfect easy recipe. Overall, it was good. A little bland, but I think that's because I forgot to buy the tomatoes at the store and we don't eat mushrooms. I would probably add more cheese next time (you can never have enough cheese!)  I need to learn to take better food photos.

Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne
  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced (We don't like mushrooms so we didn't use them)
  • 1 cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained (I forgot these at the store!)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 6 ounces)
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta and set aside.
  2. While pasta is boiling, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.  While chicken pan is still hot, toss the mushrooms in and saute until golden brown (3-4 minutes).  Use a little extra olive oil if needed.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot , melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking constantly, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer.  Keep whisking frequently as sauce thickens, about 1 minute more. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and and gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  4. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes.
  5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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