Sunday, February 12, 2012

Little Miss {seven months}

My smiley little dolly... you are 7 months old.  Time is just flying and I just want to slow it down!  You bring so much joy into our house.  We love you so much little girl!
You probably weigh around 18 pounds.  You wear mostly 6-9 month and some 12 month clothes.  You wear a size 3 diaper.  You are just a little chunk and I love it!  Everyone comments on your cheeks.  They are soooo kissable!
(You have 3 Valentine outfits so I had to post two different ones today!)

You are sleeping wonderfully!  You take your last bottle around 8:30 or 9 and you will still be awake most nights but we can now lay you down awake and you will fall asleep in your crib by yourself.  We got your brother's favorite toy (the soother) and hung it in your crib and all I have to do is start that, put your paci in and rub your bunny blankie by your face.  You are asleep before the songs are over.  You usually sleep until about 6:00 in the morning, but once in a while you might wake up in the middle of the night, but you are easy to put back down.  I don't even have to pick you up (although sometimes I just want to grab you and snuggle you in bed with me!) I just put your paci back in, roll you over onto your back and you go right back down.  
You still take about 6oz every 3 hours and take one good 2 hour nap in the afternoon (about 1-3).  Your other naps are shorter.  I am thinking it is about time to get you to take more from your bottle and spread out your feedings a little bit.  Sometimes you want more so we'll make a couple more ounces for you.
(Precious little cupcake tights!)

This month you have really started taking off on solids.  You love your cereal around lunch time, and every night for dinner you down a container of veggies.  I am going to start introducing you to fruits very soon.  I wanted to hold off on those until we got through the veggies because if you are anything like the rest of us, you would rather have sweets than veggies!  Ha!  I am thinking you are going to love fruit.
You are definitely starting to show your spunky personality this month.  You get mad when we take something away from you (mostly brother's toys) and other things you aren't supposed to get into.  You can't quite crawl yet, but somehow you manage to still get ahold of what you want!
You get up on all fours and rock, and you can crawl backwards.  You still haven't figured out how to go forwards!  Ha!  You are funny to watch.  You can also go from laying down, to sitting up all by yourself.  One day after I changed your diaper I went to throw it away and wash my hands and when I came back you were sitting up!  I couldn't believe it!  You also go from a sitting position to a crawling position.
You absolutely love looking in mirrors.  You will sit here and occupy yourself for quite a while.  You look at yourself and giggle.  You will move your arms around and put your hands up by your face and watch intently.
I'm not sure if you've figured out it is you in there yet.  But you sure do enjoy exploring!  You love it when mommy gets beside you too!
Whenever I dress you up you are obsessed with playing with the frills.  I love it!  I am hoping for a girly girl, and I'm doing everything in my power to make it happen!  Ha!
You still have two precious little teeth.  I keep looking for more, but none yet.  Your hands are in your mouth constantly, as well as everything else you can get your hands on.  So I am thinking there are more coming in soon!
You love to play peek a boo.  I can always get you to giggle whenever I play it with you (and it works great for photo shoots!)  Ha!
You are very much a mama's girl.  You can be perfectly content with daddy, on the floor or in your jumperoo, but the second you see me, you cry.  It is so pathetic but super sweet too.  The only way I get anything done at all is to strap you into the baby bjorn (which you are getting too big for, and you make my back hurt!  Ha!)  But you are super content as long as I am dragging you around the house with me.
You still haven't cried when I drop you off at day care, thank goodness.  I am dreading that day.  I told daddy that is when I'm going to have him start dropping you off!  I am still so sad leaving you every day, baby girl.  You are so precious and I just want to soak in every single minute with you.  There is just never enough time.  Those mornings we are so rushed to get out the door, you just go with the flow and smile at me.  I love you so much.  My heart just breaks leaving you.
You are a joy to everyone around you, Kerigan.  You just brighten the day.  I cannot even remember what life was like before you were here.
You could not be any sweeter, or cuter, or more bubbly and smiley.  You have the best little personality. You just shine.  
And you still have those big, beautiful blue eyes like your Grandpa Bill.
I could seriously just eat you up with a spoon.  Those cheeks!
I thank God every day for bringing you into our lives.  He picked you and Andrew out just for us.  The most special kids anyone could ask for.  I will never know how I got this blessed, but I will never take either of you for granted.  Not for one single second.  You and your brother are the best things in my life.

We love you to the moon and back, baby girl!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

a comparison

I normally don't plan on comparing my children too much... after all, Andrew is a boy, Kerigan is a girl.  He's five, she's 7 months old (almost!)  He is into your typical "boy" things like cars, trucks, dinosaurs and dirt.  She loves her babies and puts everything in her mouth!

But when I was sitting down to think about what I wanted to post for CHD Awareness week... I couldn't help but compare this.
This is my son.  He was 7 months old in this photo.  This was his second open heart surgery.  It was a 12 hour surgery that completely repaired his Tetralogy of Fallot.  They call this his "full repair" surgery, but his little heart was far from repaired.  At the time of this surgery, Andrew couldn't sit up.  He was nowhere near crawling and barely holding his head up on his own.  He was going to physical and occupational therapy once a week.  I had to take a year off from work just to keep him out of day care because if he would have gotten sick, he could have died.

This is what congenital heart defect looks like.  This is how we were introduced to parenthood.  This was the only life we knew.

Until this:
This is our smiley, bubbly daughter today at 7 months old.  I can't help but to compare.  This is what healthy looks like.  Bright eyed and happy.  Giggles and smiles.  Baby food, sitting up, learning to crawl.

It's quite an amazing difference, don'tcha think??

I stare at both of these pictures and it almost takes my breath away.  It leaves me almost speechless.  I was talking to another heart mom friend when I was pregnant with our daughter.  I remember being scared that I didn't know if I could love another baby the way I loved Andrew.  Especially with everything he had been through.  He was such a special baby, and we had poured every ounce of our lives into caring for him.  Keeping him alive.  I remember my friend (who has one healthy child and one heart child) saying... of course you love them both... but the love is "different."  She couldn't have been more right.

It is an odd feeling, parenting one perfectly healthy child, and one with a CHD.  You do treat them somewhat differently, for example, when they are sick, you tend to worry about the heart child more.  You "worry" more about the heart child in general.  It is hard to look at them both and think of how their futures could be so different.  Whether this is right or wrong, it's just the way it is.  At the same time, it is an amazing experience to parent a healthy child.  One who you got to wrap your arms around and cuddle the moment they were born.  One who was born pink and chubby.  Loves to eat and grows like a weed.  One who is ahead of all her milestones.

I'm so blessed to have gotten to experience both kinds of love.  I wouldn't trade either experience for anything.
Many of you have noticed and commented on Kerigan's heart shaped birthmark between her eyes.  It was present from day one.  And we noticed it right away.  

And we don't think it is a coincidence.

Her birthmark means so much to me.  It is such a symbol of our lives brought together by CHD.  We are a CHD family, whether it is the life we would have chosen or not- that is the life God created for us and we wouldn't change a thing.  Kerigan came into that life 7 months ago.  She has a brother with a CHD.  She will be forever embedded into this heart journey and she will eventually learn what it means to be part of something so special.
 Kerigan forever wears a "heart" for her brother.  And I just get goosebumps every time I see it.  There almost aren't words to describe it.  God is the only explanation I have.  He created her with this perfect little heart shaped birthmark... and a perfect heart.  It's like a trade off.  
Thank you God.
One perfect heart...
One broken heart...
Two amazing miracles...

To my sweet boy:

Never be ashamed of the scars that life has left you with.  
A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed,
you endured the pain and God has healed you.

*For CHD awareness week we are storming Pinterest with the faces of CHD!  Andrew's story is pinned.  Please visit this link and pin your CHD story or others stories to help spread awareness!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

a birthday to remember

Andrew's actual birthday was on a Monday this year, and I have to admit, I looked for ways to miss work that day because I really wanted to stay home and spend the day with him!  But I figured it was time to let him be grown up and go to school like other kids do on their birthdays!  It was the first time I had ever been away from him on his birthday (all his previous birthdays have fallen on weekends, or when I wasn't working).  It felt so strange dropping him off with his birthday treats for both his day care and his preschool, kissing him goodbye and leaving!  It wasn't easy.  But I did it.
I took extra time that morning before we went to school and we all sat and ate breakfast together and sang "Happy Birthday."  I put a candle in Andrew's favorite muffin and he loved that.  Kerigan wore her cupcake outfit just for brother's big day!  The night before I had decorated the house so when he woke up all his decorations would be up.

We had planned to celebrate that night at home.  On my way home from work, this is what the temperature said...
It was 66 degrees!  That is unheard of for January 30 in Iowa!  The whole week was just gorgeous- sunny and mild.  We decided to do something that we figured might not happen again for a long time on Andrew's birthday... GRILL OUT!!
Andrew really wanted to stay home rather than go out to eat.  Usually after a day of school, he loves to just come home, play with his toys and hang out.  He is such a homebody!  If I turn the other direction when we leave his school he gets so mad at me because we aren't going home.  I knew he'd love to just enjoy his birthday at home.  So we did.
We couldn't believe we could actually sit on the deck outside with no coats on!!  Andrew played on his swingset while Daddy and Papa grilled steaks.  It was such a treat for all of us!
Modeling Papa's hat!
The only problem was, it got dark so early!  When the weather is that nice, we are used to it staying light out longer!  So when the sun went down we eventually had to put on our coat and hat!  But it was still beautiful out.
Papa grilled Andrew a hot "dog"!  Ha!
Ga Ga and Andrew looked at a book she had made about the story of his birth.  He really enjoyed seeing the pictures of himself as a baby!
This picture cracks me up!  I was so glad I was able to find him a Kung Fu Panda card!  I bought it last summer when the movie was first out.  They don't have much else Kung Fu Panda right now, so I had to get a lot of things online.
Then he opened presents from Ga Ga and Papa and mommy and daddy.  
He had wanted this Kung Fu P thing... he even realized he didn't get it for Christmas and he thought Santa forgot!  Ha!  I had saved it for his birthday since it went with the theme!  He was so thrilled.
This was probably what he wanted most... he had been begging for this movie.  But again, I was saving it for his KFP birthday!
Ga Ga and Papa got him a Cars 2 geotrax set to connect with his others.  He was so happy about that too.  This is his other favorite movie!
After opening presents we had birthday cake!
This was my sad Panda cake I threw together last minute and attempted to decorate!  Ha!  I realized I had nothing for eyes, so I used oreos and a candy heart for his mouth.  I used two cupcakes for his ears. It didn't really look like a panda, but it tasted delicious and Andrew loved it!
I'm always the one behind the camera but I wanted a picture of me with my boy on his 5th birthday!
Sweet siblings...
Ga Ga and Papa...

It was a perfect day.  Andrew had a great time sharing his treats at school and being with his family in the evening.  Our little miracle is now five years old.  Oh how I wish I would have known five years ago that things would turn out this way.  I would have been so happy and relieved to know he'd be blowing out five candles one day!  I know we can't predict the future...but God knew all along.  

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

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