Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Night Before

If I were creative, I would blog all my pre-surgery thoughts and worries into a poem a la "The Night Before Christmas." Something about the night before surgery and everyone tucked into their beds with visions of scalpels... Nah. I'm too tired, and it would be too morbid.

So instead, I'll blog about how my sweet boy is snoring softly in the bed next to us. And how Abby and Ashlynn weren't the least bit sad to be dropped off at Grandma and Grandpa's house, and didn't even insist on giving us a kiss goodbye. And about how not only is tomorrow surgery day, but its also my birthday. And I'll tell you how my husband gave me a whole bunch of boxes of Macaroni and Cheese wrapped up as a birthday gift because of an old family joke, and how we laughed and laughed about it. (That wasn't my only birthday gift. He bought me a laptop a few weeks ago, and gave it to me because he didn't want me to have to wait to use it.) The fact that I'm turning 31 may have to wait for another blog post. Although I think 31 is a strange birthday. I'm officially "30-something." I remember my parents watching that TV show when I was growing up, and wondering what was so interesting about being 30-something that you wanted to make a whole tv show about it? But you know you're a grownup when you don't care that its your birthday, you just want surgery to be over and to have your baby back in your arms.

I'll blog about how Max thinks its really funny that his hospital bracelet is attached to his ankle. He already thinks that his toes are the most fun toy ever. And now there's something attached to his foot that's fun to play with! And I'll blog about how hard it was to hold him down while they drew his blood tonight, but how I know that pales in comparison to what he's going to go through tomorrow. (Although I'm taking solace in the thought that at least he'll be under general anesthesia when they put in the IV's.) And I'll blog about how I'm really tired, and I should be sleeping, because its going to be a really long couple of days coming up.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reasons to Love Breastfeeding

1) The milk-drunk look. You know the one. Its most often seen after the baby has been nursing for a while and is in a deep sloppy sleep. They pull off your nipple with a big sigh and immediately fall right back asleep. At this point, I usually look at Max and think "I could hold you like this forever."

2) It's an instant get-out-of-anything card. "Oh, I can't, (clear the table, do the dishes, help with homework, settle the squabble, get up and get the remote control, get my own chocolate chips) I'm nursing the baby. Now, I'm not admitting to anything. But I hear there are people who offer to nurse a little earlier than they normally might just to get out of a chore.

3) Newborn milk dribbles. I'll admit it. I don't much like nursing newborns. I make enough milk to power a small dairy farm, and I seem to always go through a 6-week or so period where my nipples feel like they've been rubbed with sandpaper and then set on fire. But I love when my newborns are nursing and there's little dribbles of milk coming out of the corners of their mouth.

4) Milk breath. Seriously, is there any better smell?

5) Even if I'm doing nothing else, I can sit in my favorite chair, pick up the baby, and feel like I'm being productive.

6) Some days, I don't feel like a very good parent. I yell at my kids, we get KFC for dinner, and I don't read the assigned take-home book with my first grader for the second night in a row. (And that was just today!) But with breastfeeding, I know I'm doing something right in my parenting.

7) Nursing giggles. Max is just now getting old enough to play with me once he's done with his frantic "I'm starving" nursing. He'll be nursing, then pull off and smile at me. Its a reward for 8 weeks of sore nipples. Or I tickle him just a little, and he giggles, but insists on keeping my breast in his mouth.

8) I love, love the frantic, excited, crazy-happy-anxious noise he makes when I lay him across my lap and start lifting up my shirt. It makes me laugh even harder when I don't do it fast enough for his taste, and from the sounds he makes, I know he would be yelling at me if he could talk. "C'mon, Mom, can't you go any faster?"

9) I love nursing toddlers. Yes, I know that puts me in a crazy subspecies all my own, but I do. I love being able to comfort, distract, unwind, relax and reconnect with a crazy toddler just by nursing for a few minutes. I love that they nurse in any position. I love that they frequently experiment with nursing positions just to see what they can do. And I love that I can play the piano and nurse a toddler at the same time.

10) And this one is just for me. I like knowing that come Friday afternoon, after 5-6 hours of surgery, and 1-2 hours coming out of anesthesia, and 3 hours of fasting before surgery, that there will be a time that I can pick up my son and nurse him, And no matter how scared and confused he is, and no matter how much he is hurting, he will know that everything is ok, and that his mommy still loves him. (Ok, I'm crying like a baby now, so I'm stopping.)

Anybody else want to add to my list?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Heard at my House, Part 4

Abby had quite the violin lesson yesterday. She had all her pieces for the group recital memorized and passed off (yeah!) so her teacher gave her a CD of the violinist Hilary Hahn playing unaccompanied Bach Sonatas and Partitas. (For the non-music geeks that read this blog, Hilary Hahn is a famous performing artist who made it big on the concert circuit when she was still fairly young. The unaccompanied Bach Sonatas and Partitas are some of the most difficult and demanding pieces in the violin repertoire.)

So we're on the way to Provo to meet up with some family for dinner, and we're listening to the d minor Chaconne, a piece that's known to stike fear in the hearts of violinists everywhere.

Abby: "Mom, how many violins are playing?"
Me: "Just one. There are lots of chords so that it sounds like more than one violin playing."
Abby thinks about this for a minute.
Abby: "Mom, I need to practice really hard. She's a lot better than me."

In between my laughter, I was actually quite proud of her. If you're going to have something to shoot for, there's not much that's better than Hilary Hahn playing unaccompanied Bach.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The chocolate quest

OK, I admit it. I have a sweet tooth. A big one. I got my kindergartener off to school today and needed some chocolate. Not in a "chocolate might be nice" kind of way or a "I would really like some chocolate" kind of way, but a "search through the pantry, the fridge, the freezer and teh candy jar full of stale candy from who knows when in a desperate frantic search for chocolate." Finally, I found it! Chocolate in the form of a whole unopened bag of chocolate chips! Aaaah. I tore it open and helped myself to a small handful.

Then I looked guiltily at the opened bag. Me and opened bags of candy don't go well together. I feel bad for all the leftover chocolate chips so I have to eat them to put them out of their misery. Its the only humane thing to do, right? Plus, if my husband sees the opened bag of chocolate chips, he'll know that I've been raiding the stash again. So how did I solve this wicked problem? I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies. See, that's a perfectly acceptable way to use a bag of chocolate chips, and no one will ever know it was minus a handful of chocolate chips. And when you take a plate of freshly baked cookies and surprise your husband at work with it, you get extra big "good wife" points. Not to mention the June Cleaver points you get for having cookies and milk ready for your kids when they get home from school. See, totally unselfish reasons for chocolate chip cookies!

(Next time, I should probably run to the local gas station and just buy myself a chocolate bar. Save the guilt, the extra calories, and the dishes in the kitchen!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The surgery Max is going to have is called a Cranial Vault Remodeling with a Frontal Orbital Advancement. While in the middle of some late night research, I came across these drawings and descriptions that help better explain the surgeries.

CVR (Cranial Vault Remodeling):
This procedure takes off a portion of the skull on the top and front/sides. The surgeon then cuts and manipulates the skull so that it is placed back on in such a way that the brain has room to grow and cosmetically looks better. Where the skull is cut depends on which suture is fused. Metopics (like Max) ususally have the skull cut in front of the coronals so that they are not affected.

FOA (Frontal Orbital Advancement):
This procedure is often done at the same time as a CVR. I have never heard of a FOA done without a CVR. The FOA is done to help correct the brow line, which is often smaller than it should be. The brow line is misshappen or smaller than normal due to the type of cranio that has affected it. Metopic kiddos have a "V" shaped browline that is too small...this is from the fused metopic suture keeping the brow line from growing at the normal rate. The FOA procedure makes adjustments to the brow bone so that it is the correct size for the child so that it protects the eyeballs in the orbital socket. Also, it provides a more accurate "look" for the child...the way he/she was supposed to look. Surgeons do often over-correct this so that the child can "grow into" the new brow line. This is because the growth usually does not continue at the same rate needed for the overall outcome when the child is older.

Surgery is a week from Friday... I'm trying to keep breathing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


After approximately one gallon of drool, several sleepless nights, and weeks of Max gnawing on everything in sight, we are pleased to announce....

Drumroll Please....

Max's First Tooth!

So, being the responsible blogging mommy that I am, I set off to take pictures of the monumental event.

You want me to smile? Really? (Notice what the shirt says! So appropriate!)

Nope, not smiling. Not gonna do it.

I'll look really cute, I'll do a pushup for you, but I'm not smiling!

But in other tooth related news, Ashlynn lost her first tooth last week. After the first trip to a dentist in who knows how long (bad mommy!) I took the girls in to find out that Ashlynn had an abscessed tooth. (Even worse Mommy! In my defense, she never complained about it1) So, since she's almost six, we decided to have the tooth pulled instead of worrying about trying to save it.

Ashlynn was a little trooper. The laughing gas provided much entertainment for all of us, especially when Ashlynn started telling me that her hands felt slimy, and that she felt like she was inside a candy store. A few pulls by the dentist and we were finished!

Ashylnn sporting her brand new grin. When did she get so grown up? I'm pretty sure I just gave birth to her! The tooth fairy was very generous and the Smith family has experienced no net loss or gain in the total amount of teeth for the family. Balance has been restored to the universe. I'm sure you're all relieved.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Break

We took the weekend to head down to my parent's vacation home in Torrey UT. On the way, we made a stop at Goblin Valley State Park. Its way out in the middle of nowhere- just when you decide that you must be completely lost, you're there. We had so much fun climbing and exploring. Every cave had to be explored, and the higher the rock formation, the more it needed to be climbed and conquered!

First, you pose for the obligatory family portrait.

Then its off to explore! Ashlynn was fearless- she had to climb everything she could find.

King of the mountain!

Max spent most of the time in the sling, asleep. He ended up with a little sunburn on the part of his cheek that was exposed. His name for the rest of the trip was "One Red Cheek."

Abby quickly warmed up to the adventure. You can't tell it from this pic, but the girls are up quite high.

Abby conquering the mountain.

On the way back.

Max doesn't quite know what to think.

Getting all cleaned up afterwards at the cabin.

Easter Sunday, all dressed up. I debated about having them all matchy-matchy, but in the end, I couldn't resist.

We couldn't convince all three to look at the camera and smile at the same time.

The whole fam-damily.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Heard at my House, Part 3

Aaaah, the joys of sisterly love.

Ashlynn, extremely annoyed: "Mom, I hate when Abby is bothering me!"
Mom: "Ashlynn, Abby's not doing anything to you. It's okay."
Ashlynn: "But Mom, she's talking!"

Can you feel the love tonight?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Surgery Orientation

Shortly after Max was scheduled for his surgery, I got a cute little postcard in the mail from Primary Children's Hospital. It had happy pictures of kids on it and cheerfully proclaimed "Come to our pre-surgery class!" Who knew there was such a thing? Basically, it was a orientation to surgery- a way to talk with the kids who were going to have surgery so that they would know what to expect. Now of course Max isn't old enough to know or to care about hospital procedures and protocols, but being that his mother is a nervous wreck about the surgery and has more questions than a three year old typically asks in a day, I decided to take advantage of the class. Although his surgery is a little more than three weeks away, its Spring Break and I have no lessons, and this was probably the only afternoon available between now and the surgery date when I could make it down to the hospital yet again.

There's something ominous about a class full of parents and children about to undergo surgery. There were four families there, and we instantly started chatting about our kids in a way reminiscent of inmates: "So, what are you in for?" And although no one would admit it, we were all mentally sizing each other up, placing ourselves and our kids in a worst to best sort of way. There was the woman who was in with her four year old son who needed a hernia repair who would be in and out the same day. Then there was the woman whose daughter was having a scar revised after she was hit by a car and drageed for 100 feet, leaving a huge gash on her head. When it was my turn, I explained that Max was having a skull revision. (The technical name for his surgery is a "cranial vault reconstruction with a frontal orbital advancement." Doesn't that sound intimidating?) The other two women were horrified that a little baby would have to go through such an extensive surgery. I was having a little pity party for myself and my little boy when the woman in the corner told us that her 12 year old was having brain surgery. Her daughter was having seizures, and they were going to open up her skull and attach EEG electrodes to her brain. The girl would then be put on strict bedrest for weeks in the hospital while the doctors provoked seizures and mapped them in her brain to find where they were coming from. then after everything was sufficiently mapped and figured out, they would remove and repair the part of her brain that was causing the seizures. Gulp. After I heard that, I realized that I was thankful for what I had been given.

Being in a children's hospital is a surreal experience. They showed a cutsie video to prep the kids for what they were going to experience. It was completely focused on the fun things: "Look! You get to ride to the Operating Room in a wagon!" or, "Oh, there's pictures on the ceiling!" and "Oh, your mask that gives you medicine smells like bubble gum!" All the while I'm thinking, "That's where they're going to take my baby." and "That's where I get to wait for hours and hours and pace holes in the floor while I wonder if everything is going okay." ond, "That's the great big IV they're going to put in his little tiny body."

In all seriousness, I'm betting that as hospitals go, Primary Children's is a great place to be. With the exception of the radiology department (and that's a whole different post full of ranting!) we have had mostly good experiences there. Everyone has been very kind and they do seem very attuned to the needs of the children. But there's something about walking the halls of the hospital with the "Child Life Specialist," and hearing her describe all the perks of the hospital as if I'm a potential recruit touring a college campus that makes me want to turn and run the other way. I'm glad for the little things like that they have a huge playroom; I'm glad they give free zoo passes to families of kids in the hospital. I'm glad for the bigger things like that they have breast pumps and breastmilk storage facilities that they bring to every room; I'm glad that they bend over backwards to provide accomodations for parents. And I'm very glad that I have a laptop and they have wireless internet access. But seriously, I can't be the only parent that wishes that I could be put to sleep when my baby is and wake up when he's completely recovered, can I?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Conference Sunday

So nice to have a relaxing Sunday! We watched two great sessions of conference, we had a nice afternoon nap, a walk in the sunshine, and chocolate chip cookies.

We played on the floor, (notice Ashlynn hiding behind me!)

We had lots of laughs,
And we had pie! This is actually lemon mirengue that I made last week, this week's pie was banana cream. I've been afraid of making pie for so long, but I've had two successes in a row. Perhaps its time to quit while I'm ahead and I can still fit into my jeans.
It was a good day. We are blessed.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A shout out...

I'm a big research fanatic. I spend lots of time researching and reading things that interest me. So since Max has been diagnosed, I've been puring over the internet, trying ot find out everything I can about his condition and about the upcoming surgery. A few days ago, I stumbled onto and have joined the support board there. The women there are remarkable, and its been amazing to read the stories of other moms and babies who have had this condition and see thier progress through surgery, treatment and beyond. So here's a shoutout to my new friends reading this blog from Craniokids! I'm glad that you're here, and glad for your support. I'll be keeping this blog updated as Max progresses through surgery next month, so feel free to check back often. And please comment so I know you're here!
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