Sunday, January 30, 2011

You are FOUR!

Taken in the NICU, a few days after birth

My Andrew:

I can’t believe you are four years old.  Where does the time go?  This has been such a special year for you, and you have done so many things for the first time.  You are growing up so fast and becoming more and more independent every day.

One of the biggest changes for you since your last birthday was that you started preschool.  You get to take the school bus to our neighborhood school four mornings a week.  You are learning so much I just can’t believe it.  You started talking in full sentences and we can finally carry on a conversation with you and I love it.  You describe feelings and emotions now and you understand when things are sad, or when you are excited.  You are so fun to be with, Andrew.  You make everyone around you laugh and smile and you light up the room with your sparkling personality.  You always have.  Now you just have the words to go with it!  We couldn’t be more proud of the little boy that you are.

This year you had many firsts, and traveled to some new places.  First, we took you to Chicago to visit your new baby cousin.  You went to the circus for the first time.  You saw your first movies in the theater (Shrek and Toy Story 3).  You discovered a love for popcorn and won’t watch movies without it!  You saw Disney on Ice and your first IMAX movie, the Polar Express.  In July we took you on your first airplane ride to Disneyworld.  This was such a special vacation for all of us.  Ga Ga got to come with us and we all made so many lasting memories.  You loved the airplane.  And meeting all of your favorite characters at Disney was a joy to witness.  I just loved watching your face, so full of wonder and excitement the whole time. 

You have also fallen in love with trains this year.  You have always loved them, but now more than ever.  We took you on your first train ride on Amtrak to the Omaha Zoo.  You enjoyed it so much.  Again, it was most fun for us to watch you and how much you loved every minute of it.  You are a good little traveler, much to our delight, and you are so enjoyable to take places because you just have fun everywhere you go.
Taken when you were 3 months old

When I look at you I now see a little boy.  You no longer have that baby face or chubby toes that you used to have.  You are so grown up.  When I think of the biggest change for you this year it would be your independence, and how much you now communicate with us and talk to us.  You are funny.  You say things that just crack us up all the time and we look at each other and wonder where you heard it!  You continue to amaze us with your determination and joyful spirit, which you have always had.  You like to make people laugh, just like your Grandpa Bill did!

You will have some challenges to overcome in the coming year.  You are about to undergo your third open heart surgery.  You haven’t had surgery since you were 7 months old- a baby!  You have come such a long way and we are so proud of you.  I just know you will be the big boy that you are and fight your way through it.  This is where Jesus becomes such a special part of your life, Andrew, because not only is He there for you every minute, when you experience happiness, excitement and fun things…but he is also there when you are scared, and sad and hurting.  I am so relieved that you know Jesus and we pray to him every night.  You know you can talk to him when you are scared and he will take care of you.  I pray that you will always know Jesus and that He gave you to mommy and daddy for a very special reason.  He made you just the way you are, with a special heart, to teach so many people so many things, Andrew.  And you have.  You have taught your mommy and daddy more than you will ever know.  You have changed our lives in the best ways, and we could never put into words how much we love you.
January 30, 2007

This year you will also become a big brother for the very first time.  We just know that you are going to be so gentle and caring and loving, because that is just the way you are.  We know you are going to love your brother or sister so much.  I know you will be so helpful to mommy and I can’t wait to see you meet your brother or sister for the first time. I pray that you will always grow up and love each other and be close friends, even though you are separated by four and a half years.  You will be the protector, the leader, and your little brother or sister will look up to you. 

Andrew, the last four years have been the best years of my life because YOU have been a part of them.  You bring more joy to your daddy and me than you will ever know.  Happy birthday… even though you are a big boy now, you will always be my little monkey!


Friday, January 21, 2011

If you're happy and you know it!

Andrew literally makes us laugh multiple times a day.  He is becoming such a ham, and he loves to entertain and make people laugh.  You just can't help but be happy when you're around this little guy...
His smile is contagious and his personality is just the best.  He is so silly and funny and we just adore every little thing about him!  He enjoys dumping over his huge bin of stuffed animals and rolling all around them!  Ha!  He reminds me of "E.T." when he is hiding in the closet with all of Gertie's stuffed animals!
Something else he's been doing lately that cracks us up...
He got this huge box of dinosaurs from his great grandma "Tootie" for Christmas and he is just obsessed with them.  That along with the movie "Dinosaur," which Craig and I have seen about 100 too many times!  We have started insisting he watch it on his portable DVD player instead of the big TV because we honestly just can't stand it anymore!
The other night I caught him lining all of them up in front of the Dinosaur movie, you know, so they could all see!  Personally, I thought this was very inventive of him!  Ha!
And it doesn't stop there... in the movie there is a scene where there is a fire and the dinosaurs are running from it.  Well, he now turns on the fireplace by himself and lines them all up in front of it, too.  
Sidenote:  I realize it looks like all we ever wear is pajamas around our house!  Ha!  But if Andrew had his way, that is all he would wear.  Every morning he still tries to get out of the house without having us change his clothes.  And the second we walk in the door, he wants his jammies back on.  Yep, he is definitely my son.  Scary, I know.

Lately I have started thinking I need to start writing down the things that come out of his mouth, because they are equally as funny as his actions!  I can still remember back, not very long ago, where it was like pulling teeth to get him to say a word.  We just had his IEP meeting last week, and we all laughed because one of his speech goals from a year ago was to start combining words into sentences.  Ha!  I'd say he's met that goal, ten times over!  Here are a few funnies as of late:

•  He'll ask us, "Do you love that ________ Mama (or daddy, or Ga Ga, etc)?"  Fill in the blank, but it is often the title of a favorite movie he's watching.  Or a toy he's playing with.  "Do you love dinosaurs daddy?" was a funny one the other day.  Craig's sarcastic response was even funnier, but Andrew didn't get it!  Ha!

•  Last week my mom picked him up from day care and he said "Did you miss me Ga Ga?"

•  He remembers the exact person who gave him everything he owns.  He was playing with his dinosaurs the other day and  he stopped and said "Tootie gave me these dinosaurs."  Me:  "Yes, she did."  Andrew:  "I love Tootie!"  So matter of fact.  

•  He now wants to eat various snacks and he wants them in a bowl.  He'll say, "Mommy, I want too much marshmallows in a bowl please."  I guess "too much" is his way of saying he wants a lot of them!  Ha!

•  He now sings songs from his school and loves listening to his CD's in the car.  He always wants the "Bus song" (You know, the one that gets stuck in your head and you sing it over and over for the next several hours??)  The other day at my mom's house he was jumping on her bed while singing "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!"  Obviously, the song wasn't teaching him a lesson not to do it when the monkeys all fall off and bump their heads!  

• The other day I picked him up from day care and asked him if he wanted to go to the store with me.  His response:  "Not tonight!"  Ha!  My thoughts exactly.

We just love listening to him talk and the things he comes up with.  His teachers are beyond impressed with his speech, and we had to rewrite many of his goals or else he would barely have qualified for his IEP another year!  Preschool has worked wonders for him, and we are so grateful for all of the special people that work with him at school.  
In other news...we are getting ready to celebrate our little man's 4th birthday!  How can he be turning FOUR already??  Where has the time gone?  I created his birthday invitations on our new iMac.  I was pretty happy with how they turned out, but Andrew was thrilled!  He can't wait for his party and it is nearly impossible to keep him out of the room where all the party stuff is!
This is his happy place!  Ha!  It is soon to be baby's room, and I am still trying to figure out what on Earth I'm going to do with all this stuff every year from now on!  Not to mention the major task of cleaning out the entire guest room, which has become the dumping grounds around here for things I don't know what to do with.  I've spent the last several weekends filling boxes for goodwill and re-organizing closets and cupboards.   And I've still got a long way to go... luckily I have a few more months until baby arrives!

As for me and our other child... I am finally starting to come out of the nauseous phase, but for some reason the tired phase hasn't ended!  Maybe it is because I have never been pregnant while chasing a very active toddler around at the same time!  Ha!  I am 15 weeks this week, and baby is doing well and growing.  I've finally broken out my old tub of maternity clothes and found a few pairs of pants that aren't too outdated (can you believe that clothes go out of style so fast?  I can't believe I wore some of the things in that tub!)

I have found that most food sounds good to me now, which at first nothing did.  My problem?  Mostly what I want to eat is deli sandwiches, and apparently you aren't supposed to eat them while pregnant.  I am pretty sure with Andrew I ate them.  But I am not willing to take any chances this time around.  I have been craving Quiznos so bad.  It is my all time favorite sub place.  Bless my mom and Jim's hearts, they have felt sorry for me and ordered me a real turkey from the grocery store and had the guy slice it up just for me!  Now all I was missing was the Quiznos bread and honey mustard...

So I took care of that problem:
I had to chuckle at myself when I came out of Quiznos carrying this huge loaf of bread!  I am sure people thought I was nuts, including the people who worked there when I asked them if they sold their bread separately!  Hey, when you are pregnant and have a craving, you'll do just about anything!  Ha!
Even funnier was the honey mustard.  See, they don't sell it separately.  But I think the lady felt sorry for me so she told me to "knock myself out" and fill up a big cup with it!  So I did.  Grabbed a few to go containers to take to school, and I was all set!  Ha!  My mom asked why I couldn't just buy a container of honey mustard at the store.  Nope.  It's not the same.  Not even close!!  Besides, that would be too easy!
So here is our precious baby at about 15 weeks.  The ultrasound tech said he/she has about the cutest profile she had ever seen!  I tend to agree.  I just fall more and more in love with this baby every time I get to have an ultrasound and see it moving all around inside me.  It is the most miraculous thing I could ever experience.  I feel so blessed.  I asked if it was too early to determine gender, and she said it was.  Then I asked if it was too early to check the heart!  I just can hardly stand waiting... she said it was too early to detect anything, but that based on its size and when she zoomed in on it, she said she could almost certainly tell me that baby has a 4 chamber heart!  Whoopeee!  

Although I didn't celebrate too much just yet.  It is far too early to determine anything, but at least that does rule out several of the more complicated defects.  Whew.

Our plans have changed a little bit with upcoming appointments, etc.  We had originally planned to do the fetal echo of the baby's heart when we were in Iowa City for Andrew's surgery.  When I called to schedule it, the receptionist had talked to Dr. Ben (the top fetal echo guy around!) and he suggested we do it when we are there for Andrew's cath instead.  Deep breath.  This would give us the chance to focus more on Andrew during his surgery and recovery, which was very sweet of him to think about.  He assured us it won't be too early (18 weeks) and it'll be so nice to get it out of the way before Andrew's big procedures.  So, we are doing things slightly out of order:

Feb 9- Fetal Echo and Andrew's pre-cath appointments in IA City
Feb 10- Andrew's cath
Feb 17- Routine Dr. appointment for baby
Feb 22- Andrew's surgery
March 1- Level 2 ultrasound to check all of baby's organs, etc (done by my local OB doctor) *This is probably the appointment we will find out the gender!
(Between our 2 children, they are keeping us very busy!  Ha!)

Yikes!  I see that Feb. 9th date and it makes me very jittery!  It is only a few short weeks away.  I know we will get through it, and I am feeling more and more confident that baby will be okay.  But still.  

We are in need of your prayers now more than ever!  My sweet friend, Stef, designed a button for our blog.  If you have a blog, I pray that you will post it so many more people can be praying for Andrew's surgery and for our precious baby to be born CHD free!

A Little Monkey Business

Please feel free to spread the word!  We appreciate it so much!

Some specific prayer requests:
-  For Andrew's surgery to go well and for it to be successful in lowering the pressure in his heart without further surgical intervention or stents.
- That our new baby will be healthy and have a healthy heart!

Thank you for being our support system!

I'll leave you with a 38 second video that will make you happy (and you'll know it!)

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Thank you all so much for all of your sweet comments here and on Facebook!  It was so fun to read them was just like my birthday! :)  We had been keeping this a secret for so long, it was so nice to finally make the final announcement.
Baby at 11 weeks

I wanted to share a little bit about this pregnancy, so I can get it recorded!  With Andrew, I kept a separate journal (believe it or not, I never started blogging until he was 6 months old!  Imagine that!  So much time went by that I didn't get online!  Ha!)  and I love looking back in the journal and seeing all the special things that we did during our pregnancy.  I also love to look back and remember when I first felt him kick, and my feelings and emotions since we found out about his special heart.
~ 12 Weeks ~ 
I already look huge!  Ha!  I popped really quick this time around.  People at my school were starting to ask questions, so I had to announce a little sooner than I wanted to!  It is hard when you see people every day and have to hide this giant belly!  

Many of you were so sweet to remember our initial struggle with infertility.  And the struggle continued with this baby.  We tried to get pregnant on our own right after Andrew turned two.  I knew that I would want to see our fertility doctor again eventually if it didn't happen, but Craig wasn't so sure.  We were both (and still are!) very worried about this baby's heart and everything possibly happening again.  I guess I was more willing to let it go because I knew how badly I wanted another child.  I was desperate for Andrew to have a sibling.  He loves kids so much, and he is so sweet with babies, I just had "the itch" right away!  I really never doubted it for a moment.  Craig gave in eventually (ha!) and when I wasn't pregnant last summer, he agreed to go back to the doctor with me.

And so it began... another struggle with fertility drugs and doctor's appointments.  It was much harder this time around, because I decided to keep this a secret from my mom.  Shocking, I know!  Ha!  I tell my mom pretty much every single detail of our lives, so this was very hard.  I was determined to surprise her this time around, because with Andrew she was a part of everything.  The whole time we were going through infertility, the roller coaster of emotions we went through when we found out about Andrew's heart... I could go on and on.  Basically this time I wanted to spare her the "worry" part and just let her have fun! :)
We went through three cycles of fertility treatments and one failed IUI.  I was getting worried we were going to have to do In-Vitro again, but we were thrilled to discover that our second IUI worked!  I was shocked and very surprised.  I could never describe the feeling of seeing the "plus" sign appear on that pregnancy test.  I just couldn't believe it was true!  Andrew and I were home alone since Daddy was at school at an event, so I threw him in the car and we went shopping!  We got him Baby Ruth and Sugar Babies and we also bought him a balloon and tied it to the pregnancy test.  I took a quick picture of Andrew in his "Big Brother" shirt (which I have had for about 3 years and happened to buy a 4T, thinking it would take a while before he'd wear it!  It fit perfectly!) and we made a card for daddy and put the picture in it.  Craig's face was priceless when he got home!  It was very fun to get to surprise him, too.
We had a little bit of worry at the beginning when my HCG levels weren't doubling right away (there always has to be some drama, right!?)  But this baby is obviously a fighter just like it's brother, and it is definitely a miracle, and meant to be.  While we are a little nervous that this baby could also have a heart defect, we are putting our faith in God and we know that God sent us this special baby for a reason, and that it is exactly the baby that it is supposed to be.

As for Andrew, this is what he really thinks...
Ha!  Every time we ask him if he wants a brother or a sister (not does he want one, but which one does he want) he says "NOOOOOOOOO!"  It is really funny.  I think now he just says it because everyone always laughs when he says it.  He knows there is a baby in mommy's tummy and once in a while he'll kiss it and touch it.  When I ask him if we should have a baby come and live with us he smiles and says "yeah" so I think he'll come around to the idea!  Ha!  He is really so gentle and sweet with babies.  He smiles and loves on them whenever he sees them.  I am really not very worried about his reaction to this baby (maybe I should be!) but I think he's going to love it so much.  He has never been jealous of me with other babies or anything, and he's never been so attached to me that he won't let me hold another child.  Although, like I said to Craig, all those babies went home eventually!  Ha! 
For the thumbs down picture, I was trying to get him to give a thumbs up, but he didn't quite get it!  Ha!

Lots of people have asked if we want to find out what the gender is.  I have mixed feelings on this one!  With Andrew, our plan was to be surprised.  Until we found out at 20 weeks that he had a heart condition.  Then we felt we needed to know so we could bond with him.  We figured when he was born the gender was going to be the least of our concern, and we would worry more about whether he was breathing, or alive.  So we found out.

This time I'd like that opportunity to be surprised.  There are so few real surprises in life, that this would just be so fun to wait.  However, the truth is...I don't think I can wait!  Ha!  I think with the second child, it is easier to know the gender so you know what you'll need.  Obviously, if it is a boy we'll need very little!  So, I think given our next opportunity, we will find out.  We've had several ultrasounds already, and baby has quite a fast heart rate (which tends to lean towards girl), and I've been more sick this time around than I was with Andrew.  Thankfully, it is starting to get better now that I'm at the start of my second trimester.  The bottom line is, we don't care if it is a boy or a girl, we just want a healthy baby with a healthy heart.
This is baby's whole body- it's little legs are sticking up in the air!  When I had this ultrasound, I got so excited and I just teared up because baby was moving around so much!  It was very active and flipping all over the place!  I couldn't believe that I couldn't feel it, but the tech reminded me that it was only about 2 inches big at that point!

Ironically enough,  I will be 20 weeks when we are in Iowa City for Andrew's heart surgery.  It is then that they can do the fetal echo to check baby's heart.  We figured while we are in Iowa City, we'll go ahead and have them do the ultrasound, since I don't think I can wait until we are back home.  So while my son is in the hospital recovering from open heart surgery, Craig and I will walk down the hall to see if our second child will one day have the same needs.  We can only pray continuously that we will get some bright news on that day.  Something to celebrate while in the midst of CHD world.  Faith will get us through, and hope will sustain us.
I love this one- baby's head with it's little arm, hand and fingers up by it's face.  He/she surely isn't going to be shy!  Ha!

Thank you for being our support group.  Thank you for the kind messages and prayers.  While we are nervously anticipating Andrew's upcoming heart surgery, we are so thankful and grateful that God has brought this miracle into our lives.  Something to celebrate and somewhere else to have our minds rest.  Thank you for joining us in prayer for Andrew's surgery, and also for our new little life that we have so much hope for!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Andrew's BIG Announcement!

Andrew has been very excited to tell all of you that he is going to be a...

I'm almost 13 weeks and due July 16th, Ga Ga's birthday!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

To celebrate New Years Eve we got together with Craig's brother Jason and his wife Rachel and their kids.  We took the kids to Imagine Eve downtown and they had a blast!  Imagine Eve is a free family friendly event and there were tons of families there.
They had about a million bouncy slides and jumping houses, all crawling with germs I'm sure!  This will be the last ones he goes on before his surgery!  I figure, he's got to have a little fun once in a while, right?  And I actually mentioned that everything looked really clean!  It was set up so neat and organized and the equipment didn't look too gross and dirty like they sometimes do!  Ha!  (It made me feel better anyway!)
I'd like to imagine what was going through his head.  He just ran through the bouncy houses and came flying down each slide at the end, yelling "again!" every time.

Craig with Jayden and Andrew
He actually did really good waiting in lines.  The event was very well organized and there were so many slides, etc, that the lines didn't seem so bad.

Waiting in line on daddy's shoulders and poking his eyes!  Ha!  Doesn't he look like such a stinker here?
This picture cracks me up, Craig getting blinded and Andrew getting impatient!  Ha!
The kids just went from one slide to the next and could have gone all night long I think!
Evie and Andrew heading into a tunnel!
They had clowns to entertain the kids in line!  It worked great!
After the fun ended, we all headed down the skywalk to see the fireworks!
Waiting for the fireworks to start...
We had perfect seats inside the skywalk so we didn't have to watch in the freezing cold!
Andrew and all the kids were just fascinated by them!  They were really neat!
After the fireworks we headed back to our house for some more celebrating.  I made delicious cake balls and we had sparkling wine.  This picture cracks me up.  Aunt Rachel was reading a story to the kids and Andrew decided to put this little bag on his head!  Ha!  He looked so funny.  He was so serious and listened to the whole story like that.  The kids all stayed up super late!  We were all having so much fun we hardly noticed it was 11:30pm!  They almost made it to midnight, but Evie and Jayden had to head home.  It was a very fun New Years Eve.
On New Years Day we did something else very special that I had been wanting to do all season.  We took Andrew to the IMAX theater at the Science Center to see the Polar Express.  It has become one of his very favorite movies.  I think I can safely estimate he's seen it about 100 times! (That is Craig, Andrew and Ga Ga at the top!)
We sat in the very back row.  (IMAX tip: the back row are the best seats because you don't have to look up- the movie is at eye level and you can see it so much better.)  Andrew was totally mesmerized by the whole thing.
He loved every second of it.  Especially the parts where you really feel like you were flying down the train track!  It was so cool.  He smiled and stared at the screen the whole time.  Eating popcorn of course.  It was so funny, a boy near us started crying because he was scared, and he was much older than Andrew!  Andrew just isn't scared of anything, and he loves all the experiences he's been given.  He is so fun to take places because he enjoys everything so much.  And he remembers it, too.  He likes to look at pictures of things we've done and he talks about his memories a lot.  It is so sweet.
Sometime soon we want to take him back to the Science Center.  He didn't get to see much of it, but he did play with a couple of things they had out front.  I know he'd love the whole thing.  It would be fun to get season passes to go during the cold winter months when there's nothing else to do!

After the movie we came back and Papa had made us all spaghetti so we ate dinner and the boys watched football.  It has been a fun New Years.  I can't believe it is 2011 already.  Craig and I were talking about how it was 10 years ago that we met.  We met on New Years Eve at a party for one of our mutual friends.  It was pretty much love at first sight and I always joke and say it was all downhill from there!  Ha!  Can't believe it's been ten years.  And what a precious little boy we have to show for it!  Ha!

I hope all of you had a Happy New Year too, and that you will receive many blessings in 2011!

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