Monday, January 26, 2015

Just some thoughtful mustering

It is snowing. I find that I dislike snow even more now, because it snowed on the day Layla died. The snow was awesome, and beautiful on that day, you know, the fat kind that floated gracefully to the ground, yet the wind carried underlying tone of grief.  It has been three weeks since Layla departed our lives. The days are getting easier to handle emotionally. However, there are still moments when it just hits me out of the blue. Like now. 

I look at the food crumbs untouched on the floor that is left by Forrest, and I pull out vacuum to clean up the mess. Then it hits me. Layla isn't here to "clean" up the mess. I miss her. 

It is quite hard to lose a pet. To someone who isn't a pet owner, or animal lover, it can seem so silly, and pointless to grieve over an "animal". However to people like us, it is quite difficult, because they become so much a part of our family. 

After all, Layla was our first baby that we got only a few months after we got married. Layla was a grouchy old girl with wonderful qualities. Nobody can ever replace her. It will be a really long time before we will consider getting another dog. 

Aside from feeling sad, I am surprised at how quickly I am back in the daily routine with a life of two boys, and it seems quicker this time that I am able to get back in the groove. With Forrest, it did take a good year before I felt that I could take care of myself, take care of the house, cooking, errands, and raising a baby. I think it is because I didn't realize how demanding a baby can be in term of breastfeeding; I naively thought babies sleep through the night after a certain number of months, and Forrest proved me wrong. He did not sleep through the night until he was weaned from nursing! It does help that Frankie sleeps a good chunk of hours between nursing in the night. He's such an easy baby! 

Matter of fact, I am able to get back to my sewing quicker than I anticipated. I remember working on my sewing project on the day I went into labor! I have been reading a book, an autobiography book about James Cameron (one of my favorite movie directors) explaining about his biggest work, Titanic, and how it came to fruition. It is a good book, and I hope to finish it this week so I can check off the list for the book project of the year! It is taking me longer to finish reading, because of how busy life is with my kids, and how tired I get at the night, but those two boys are so worth it. I also have another book on my Kindle, but I am not sure if it fits the book year goal. I have to recheck the list. 

Forrest continues to amaze me. He is learning SO much signs these days. He asks me for a specific sign all of the time, and loves learning. Forrest is definitely on the way of becoming a CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult), which means he's very attuned with Deaf World, and Deaf culture. I hope the same for Frankie. Forrest's favorite signs are animals, of course. Forrest is doing great health-wise. The only frustration I have been dealing with in term of Forrest's health is his possible latex allergy. He has a lot of bad reaction to wearing diapers, and Forrest no longer fits in cloth diapers. I am thinking about transitioning him into training underwear instead of pull-ups, and encourage him to really think about potty training. But....Forrest is a strong willed child, and as it is customary with strong willed children, they fight everything that parents encourage them to do. Some days I feel like pulling hair out of my head when it comes to Forrest's strong-willed behaviors, and I tell myself that it will pay off as long as I nurture this trait in him to be channeled into something persistence, to name one. 

It is hard to believe that Forrest will be 2.5 years old soon. And me turning 30. But that's a different post for another day, ha ha! It is just hard to believe that my first is going to be three this summer, and it doesn't even feel like it has been almost 3 years since I had him. 

I was thinking the other day how special my boys are to me. 

Forrest is very special to me, because he is my first, and with your first, everything is so glorified. I hate to say that. It is true though. Forrest made me a mother. With him, we celebrate our firsts; first step, first word/sign, first kiss, first smile, first sickness, first trip to ER, and so many more. I tread into murky waters of motherhood, and experience my firsts of feeling really vulnerable, love for a child, and bond I have with Stu gets so much deeper. 

With Frankie, he is my second, and I already see so much of myself in him. When Frankie entered the world, he was seemingly fragile, and small. Then he was suddenly burdened with problems in his such little life. It made me want to protect him, to hide him away from the world, and to nurture him as much as possible. But that was not how Frankie was. 

Frankie is a fighter. He is not afraid to let the world know what is on his mind. Frankie may be small, but he is not fragile. All the problems that is thrusted upon him is quickly embraced, and turned into a learning experience. To hide him away is not a reasonable thing to do. He is meant to be celebrated. Frankie has added a lot of calmness into my life as Forrest is pure chaos, and they balance each other rather well. 

I do feel really blessed to be their mother. 

It is funny, because ten years ago; I would never have imagined myself becoming a mom, and yet here I am. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

FDR is TWO Months Old!

Dear Frankie,

You are two months old today! Oh boy, oh boy. It has been a really busy month for you, my dear little boy. It is amazing how much of a whirlwind ride it has been in your short life.

About a week before 2015 made its grand entrance; Mama noticed that you had a flat area on the side of your head, and that one of your ears were bigger than other, but did not think anything of it until Daddy also noticed this, and Mama decided to do some of research. Based on the finding she did, it appeared to be normal for babies to have flat heads, and it was usually corrected as the baby grew.

Nonetheless, Mama tried to make an appointment for you, and was unable to schedule one before your 6 weeks wellness check. It was not until Mama's 6 weeks postpartum check when her interpreter, C, noticed that you were favoring greatly on your left side of head, and mentioned that she had seen this with other Mama's baby. C was able to get you in to see a different pediatrician  on that same day since Dr. K was out that day. 

It led to a diagnosis of you having a Congenital Torticollis. It was just a fancy term to say that you had a stiff neck. It was also known as WRY neck,  which meant literally twisted neck, and it led to an appointment with a physical therapist next day. Left untreated, it can lead to a lot of foreseeable problems, such as learning disability, perception, and balance problems. Mama took you to meet with a physical therapist, Dave, to learn how to do manipulative exercises to help you with your neck. The exercises had to be done between 5-6 times a day with repetition of 10 times per stretching exercise. You received those exercises right after your feedings. You were not so crazy about those exercises, but it had to be done, my little boy. Then Mama was lucky to be introduced by a friend to join a support group on Facebook, and learned so much how to further help you.

The second time you and Mama met with Dave, it was apparent that you were making a progress with your neck range of movement, and it was a good news found in a small feat that you made. Dave explained that you will be meeting with him for every 2 weeks until you show more improvement, and once that happens, you will be meeting him every month instead of every 2 weeks.

You also had a hip ultrasound. Mama got the result in the email, and it had a lot of fancy medical jumbo mumbo. At first, it sounded like you had an issue with your hip based on the report in the email. Fortunately, Mama was able to get a clarification on phone with an ultrasound tech specialist, and learned that your result came back gleaming clean! You go, Frankie, you go. Even though it came back clean, you still had to go back in 3 months for a follow up appointment to ensure that your hips were stable with your growing body.

Then there was an appointment with Hanger for Plagiocephaly, which indicated that you had a flat head. It went hand in hand with Tort (short for Toricollis). Since all babies' skull was made up of soft, free floating plates separated by open sutures to expand, and grow with their brain; it causes their skull to be very soft, and easily compressed by any form of pressure. Therefore, restricted movement can lead to flatness on the head, and often had to be medically fixed to correct head abnormality.

You met with Stacy, an Orthotist specialist, and she took measurements of your head. You were officially diagnosed with Plagicocephaly, which meant your head was oblique shaped, and it was recommended that you should have a helmet fitted in early March.

Mama has been talking with a woman named Paula, and she was an artist who painted orthopedic helmets. Paula told Mama that she will paint the helmet for you! After all, you will be in the helmet for a good year so why not have a bad-ass helmet? However, giving Paula a final answer had to wait until Mama got more information from insurance about your helmet, and how much Mama, and Daddy will have to pay for deductible, because Paula's fee was understandably pricey. Nonetheless, Mama has been really hoping to get good news from insurance so she can get this done for you.

It may take a long time for you to get this condition corrected, however, all of this hard work will pay off! Apparently, being a breech can lead to foot, hip, and neck complications. Who would have thought that being a breech would cause you to have so much problem? Nonetheless, it makes up for an interesting tale to tell you someday!

You met with Dr. Karbon for your 2 months wellness check. You came at 10 and nearly half pounds! It put you in 25 percentile of your peers for weight. It was funny, because your brother, Forrest clocked at nearly 14 pounds at this age. So you were definitely skinnier than your brother. Odd how you, and Forrest came from the same parents, yet you both still turned out so different weight-wise with being breast-fed. As for height, you were measured at nearly 24 inches tall! Of course, you were one of the tallest among other babies according to WHO (World Health Organization) chart. It didn't surprise Mama at all. Mama suspected you were tall based on how rapidly you were outgrowing your clothes, just like how Forrest did, and sure enough, she was proved right. Also, Daddy, Mama, and Forest all were tall. It only came natural that you were also tall. Your head measurement was at 39 CM, which put you in average among your peers, and Mama wondered if your head shape abnormality had anything to do with it as well. It was going to be interesting to see if your head measurement will remain the same, or change once you complete helmet therapy. Your feet finally managed to relax themselves, and were no longer flexed backwards so rigidly. Whew!

You were also said to have Eczema. Big surprise there. Nonetheless, Mama knew how to treat your dry skin condition. After all, Forrest was an experiment baby (sorry, Forrest), and Mama perfected a treatment course for him. So by the time you came along, she knew what to do for you, and sure enough, your eczema was drastically reduced.

Because you finally turned 2 months old, you had to be vaccinated, and that was not so fun for you. You received three shots for DTap (Diphteria, Tetanus, and Pertussis), HiB (Bacterial Meningitis), and Polio. You also had a syrup drink of Rotavirus. So, you sure had a lot of punches rolling around in your system for a couple days. You wanted a lot of cuddles, and kisses. You definitely did not want to be put down. Thank goodness for Solly Wrap that enabled you to stay on Mama, and for her to have her arms free to cook, and look after Forrest.

Your little personality has started to emerge. You are a mellow baby that loves to SLEEP! You sleep easily 3 to 4 hours between nursing sessions in the night, which makes Mama very happy!! However, you are a night owl. You like to stay awake between 6 pm to 8-11 pm, depending, then you sleep the night away between the nursing sessions. You aren't afraid to show your disapproval of something you do not like. You are not a fan of water. You scream your head off during bath time. You also scream your head off when your diaper is changed. Mama thinks it is because you don't like feeling Mama's cold hands on your bum! You grunt, and protest when you have your PT stretches done. Sometimes, you spit up during your exercises. You've recently begun smiling, and love to smile at Forrest, or Mama, or Daddy.

Before you were born, Mama worried about how family dynamics will change, and what adjustment it was going to be to have you around. Clearly, she had nothing to worry about. It was as if you were always a part of family. You did make our family richer, and fuller of love.

We love you, little Frankie.

Mama, Daddy, & Forrest

Monday, January 19, 2015

Torticillis & Plagiocephaly

I am going to add a new topic to my growing list of "what to blog" on my blog. I have decided to add a documented of journey with our second boy's conditions, and I think it would be kind of neat to see "Before/After" of what we have been doing with Frankie.

I am pretty sure I will mention this here, and there in Frankie's monthly letters, but I don't want his monthly letters to be overly dictated by those conditions, and dismiss his other accomplishments. That way, I can go into more details about what is happening with Frankie if I make separate blog notes about this. 

Frankie has been recently diagnosed with Congenital Torticillis. It is a term to describe a tightening of a muscle in the neck that prevents one from having a full range of neck movements. It is akin to having a pulled muscle. Frankie had it since birth, most likely from how he was positioned inside the uterus while I was pregnant with him (being a breech), and it was not until when he was about 4 weeks old when I started noticing that something was up with Frankie. I expressed my concerns to Stu about Frankie's left ear being bigger than his right, and how he kept looking away to a distance over my shoulder. He also had a very flat spot on his left side. Stu brushed my concerns aside, thinking I was being very worrisome, and I tried my best to move on. After we returned home from Christmas trip, I did a bit of research, and saw that having a flat head was perfectly normal in babies along with asymmetrical body parts. I resigned to the fact that I was probably being overly worrisome, despite me being a second time mom, and I tried to move on. One day, Stu finally understood what I was trying to address about Frankie's flat spot on his head, and agreed that it was really flat--flatter than it should be. I tried to make an appointment for Frankie before his "six weeks" (he has an appointment at 8 weeks not six, hence the quotes) wellness check, and was unable to get in. 

a noticeable tilt of Frankie's head

It was not until my own six weeks postpartum check that I was able to get Frankie in to be seen by a pediatrician. My interpreter, C, had noticed that Frankie had a tilt of his head, and that he was staring over her shoulder rather than looking around the room. It pretty much confirmed what I thought. To my relief, it was not vision related, and C had informed me she had already seen this with other Mama's baby. She assured me that it was not something severe, however, it was a condition that needed to be worked on. After my appointment, we met with other pediatrician, since our regular pediatrician was out that day, and she diagnosed Frankie with Congenital Torticillis. We were referred out to a physical therapist, and I was lucky enough to have Frankie get in the next day. 

Dave taught me two neck stretching exercises for Frankie, and was told to utilize the exercises at home with every diaper change/feeding. I also began repositioning Frankie during his sleep time by putting him on his side rather than on the back, or Frankie's favorite side, babywearing him as much as possible to avoid Frankie from being on his back for too long, supervising Frankie during tummy time, and of course,doing physical therapy sessions. 

We scheduled a second follow up appointment in two weeks from that day. I began working on stretching Frankie's neck since day one, and noticed that Frankie often was able to turn his head to the right by end of the day. However, Frankie was back to favoring his left side every morning. I was informed that this often required a long process of physical therapy to correct the wry neck condition. 

Frankie got referred to an Orthodist specialist through Hanger, and we learned that Frankie also had Plagiocephaly. It basically referred to a flat spot on the head as a result of weak neck tone, positioning in the womb, or interrelating with other condition such as Torticillis, to name one. Interestingly enough, I learned that breech babies were prone to having a flat head from their heads being wedged under their mothers' ribs, and also of course, because Frankie had a limited range of neck movement, his head rested constantly on the left side, and it led to a flat spot. 

Frankie's head was measured to be above 10 MM, and anything below 10 MM was considered to be cosmetic by insurance. Frankie's head was oblique shaped, and it was not something he can outgrow of. It was recommended that Frankie should start helmet therapy after 8 more weeks of physical therapy. We scheduled an appointment to meet with Dr. Stacy in early March to discuss the helmet fitting, and care for Frankie. 

You can see that his head is a bit tilted despite neck support, and his eyes were looking over his favored side. 

From top view: his head is oblique shaped

Side view of how his head is shaped

Right now, we are brainstorming ideas for what decals, and sign that Frankie can have for his helmet. It's fun to come up with ideas for his helmet. We are looking at Green Bay Packers, Zombies, Star Wars, Batman, and Marvel Comic Super Heroes. It is possible we may go with Packers, but we will see. It is to make a positive spin out of him wearing a helmet!

I don't have much details about Frankie wearing a helmet, procedure that involves with fitting, and how it works just yet. I will find out at his next appointment, and I will be able to give you an update.

As a mommy, I feel a bit extra overprotective of Frankie, especially with his conditions being no longer "invisible", and I kind of dread rude questions or stares when Frankie is wearing a helmet. Now, if they are normal questions out of curiosity; I welcome them, and I will do my best to answer the questions. It's more of rudeness that I don't look forward to. I know how that feel as a Deaf person. In a way, I guess it is a good thing I have this experience, because now I know how to facilitate the questions, and comments.

It will be interesting to see the progression over the time of how Frankie's neck, and head are shaping up (literally, and figuratively, ha ha). Stick around if you want to keep up with what is happening with Frankie!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What to Expect from my Blog in the Upcoming Months

 I hope this finds you all doing well. We are doing wonderfully. Stu is back to work after two weeks of vacation for Christmas, and I am at home with our boys. Forrest is at this age where he has to climb on everything, get into things, cause mischief, and run amok around the house. I am quite glad that we have a tunnel for him to wiggle through, and spend all of his intense energy that way. I often have to come up with creative ways to utilize the tunnel; winding through chairs under the table, bending it around the ottoman, covering the openings at the ends with blankets, or putting it in our long hallway. Forrest loves it. He is also at this age where he is starting to express his frustrations in a physical way of hitting, throwing, and pushing. So, I've been working on this with him, and teaching Forrest how to express his frustration in words, or to outlet his energy safely. It is definitely interesting to be a mama of a very active little boy. 

Forrest cracks me up a lot. He's such a clown. For instance, not even two minutes ago; I caught Forrest ripping up Kleenex tissues, and I took away the mess from him, while explaining to Forrest that it was not a nice thing to do. Suddenly, Forrest clasped his hands on his cheeks, with his eyes wide open, and gasped, oh no, oh no, oh no! He definitely knew he was being naughty. I tried my best not to laugh, and appeared to be stern. I probably failed. 

Life is rarely boring with Forrest. 

Frankie is doing well. I don't want to go into too much of how he is doing, because then I have nothing left to write for his second month letter. However, I can go into a bit about how Frankie is doing these days. I suspect he has a reflux, and it sucks to see him so uncomfortable especially during the peak hours at night. Frankie projectile vomits what seems like 2-3 feedings in one sitting! It's crazy. Aside from that, Frankie is growing fat, and happy. He is content to be held, and doted on. Already I am seeing a huge difference between Forrest, and Frankie. I have a feeling that Frankie is going to be my sensitive boy, whereas Forrest is rough 'n tumble child. We will see if I end up being correct with my guess basing on their temperaments. After all, Frankie is only almost 2 months old, and still has a lot of growing left to do before we can determine accurately what he will be like! 

I am brainstorming ideas to keep my blog going this year now that I am done with my weekly pregnancy updates. I am thinking about doing 7 on 7 photos for every month. I enjoyed doing this on my blog before I got pregnant with Frankie, and would like to revive this idea. It's fun to take a glimpse of what we do in our everyday life.

It would also be nice to have more pictures on my blog too. 

I also am thinking about doing a vlog, and see if it can be added to my blog. Vlog is a slang for video blogging. I recently did this to show Frankie's sign name, and it is such a hit. So it got me thinking that I should try to do one video per month to talk about Deaf culture, sign language, and all that. It's kind of like my "It's a Deaf Thing" posts, but with video instead of blogging. This decision is further reinforced by the fact that I can add captioning to it! Youtube rocks for adding this feature, but they need to include auto-save so I can go back to it anytime without losing my work.

Here's my video that I made! Enjoy! 

There you go. Think I should invest with my idea of Vlogging maybe once or twice a month, depending on what is going on that month? I am not sure if it should be STRICTLY about Deaf topics, or just anything in random, ha ha. For now, I would stick with the themes with Deaf issues, then see where it will evolve over the time, yes? I may have my friends make a vlog, and add it to my blog as well? You see how I am brainstorming here!

I may be blogging about the progress I am making with a few goals that I have set up for this year. I don't want to call them new year resolutions, because it is not really about resolutions, and I tend to fail at those. Anyway, here's my goals for the year:

1) Incorporate more veggies in the meals. We suck at this lately, because it's winter, and I've been bad with my pregnancy--had way too much sweet food, and carbs. With spring, and summer coming long ahead; I am already planning on ideas what to plant in our garden, and am looking forward to Farmer's Market. It is literally only one block or two from our house!

I'm determined to be healthier. I have lost almost all of my baby weight already, which is nice, but I want to feel good about myself energy-wise. I notice when I work out, I feel happier, and more energetic. I need that to keep up with wild man Forrest, and soon, Frankie!

2) Set up a budget where we can set aside between $200 to $400 for a van, and down payment for our home. I am thinking about getting a membership through Costco to get a few things in bulk, and to ultimately save money in a longer run with necessities. I am not a big spender, but I notice I tend to spend a lot on smaller things. It is one of those hidden costs that just blow up in your face, and add up to our spending. So I am really determined to stick with our budget, cut things out that we don't need, and adjust how we spend our money.

3) Reading challenge! C'mon, I need a fun goal, especially now I have Kindle Fire HDX tablet, and can download books quickly at my fingers. I do prefer my traditional books I can hold, smell, and feel in my hands. I tend to buy books I fall in love with, and want to read over, and over again. For this book challenge, I don't want to buy paperback book, and never read it again. It just eats up the space in our home. This is where my tablet will come in handy.

Any recommendations I can read basing off the challenge list I have above? Share with me, please! If you want to join me with my challenge, then let me know! I think it will be fun!

What is your goals that you have created for yourself to keep yourself busy during winter, or for some of you, summer months?

Anyway, I need to get ready for my doctor appointment (it's a post-partrum check to see how I'm doing 6 weeks after giving, it has been 6 weeks already...holy batman), and eat something! :) Have a happy Tuesday!