Today has been a GREAT day. No wait, make that FANTASTIC. My birthday last year was a rough day. Actually, it was just one of many dark days last spring and early summer. Bodie had been in the hospital for almost 4 months straight at that point in time, was still dependent on Milrinone, had a remaining hospital stay of at least another 3 weeks ahead of him, had his next open-heart surgery just around the corner (but no one knew how far around the corner or even which corner we were talking about for that matter) and was just really fragile. Sierra had just been suspended from her preschool under threat of explusion for biting her best friend multiple times. I had just been let go from my job because I had exhausted my maternity leave and simply could not return with Bodie still in the hospital. I was taking Sierra with me to the hospital every day, trying to juggle taking care of a fragile newborn and a confused toddler who really just needed to be near mommy. On top of all of that, I was pumping all the time. Yep, it sucked. I don't remember much from my birthday, but I do remember a few key points - (1) crying as soon as I got to the hospital because the gravity of how sucky my situation was really set in. Bodie's amazing nutritionist, Emily (oh my, how we LOVE Emily!) walked in right at that moment. She just gave me a big hug. It was so needed. (2) my mom took me out to Acapulco's for lunch - it was super crowded (something about the Friday lunch buffet) and Sierra misbehaved the entire time. I remember thinking "geez, why can't she just cut me some slack on my birthday??" (3) when we got back from lunch, Emily had called dietary and had them deliver a birthday cake for me and a little cookie for Sierra (like I said, we LOVE Emily). and (4) Dusk and I had take-out Thai for dinner, but we didn't get around to eating until really late after Sierra was in bed, so we just ordered wontons. Then, I had to pump and call the hospital to check on Bodie. Yep, like I said, it sucked.
But, this year, today was SO MUCH better. I got to start the day by working out (a testament to how much more well-balanced our lives have become), I got beautiful flowers from my parents (ok, from my mom - you all know my dad is reading this saying "what? Oh, we got her flowers. How nice" Ha!), I got to eat breakfast with my kiddos and lunch with some wonderful friends (thank you again Amy and Susan for the awesome lunch - I'm so blessed to have you ladies in my life!). Dusk got me a surprise massage on Sunday - and I get to celebrate my birthday tonight with a yummy cake, surrounded by my loves, all together in my home. I am so blessed.
The best birthday gift by far was the realization that our family has really, finally, found our groove. We have settled in and life is good. Bodie has settled down SO MUCH in the past month. He's such a happy kid now. We can leave him with a babysitter finally! His separation anxiety has finally ebbed, considerably. (I know I've talked about his separation anxiety in the past, but seriously, I don't know that I ever really let in just how BAD it is - it was very rough, mostly on me.) Now that he's on a sippy cup, he doesn't need me around to drink his milk (he seriously, even at 14 months, would only take a bottle from me). That means I can go to the gym in the morning and get ready afterwards before the kids wake up and if they happen to wake up before I get back home (7:30 or so), they can hang out with Daddy for a bit - and everyone is happy when I walk in the door. (Trust me, this was a huge step for us.) He'll even play for a bit with his therapists without me needing to be close enough to grab. The joke around here is that the last month has been my reward for putting up with Bodie for the first 15. I jest. Sort of.
Bodie is walking SO MUCH now. When he falls down, he's pushing himself back up to standing instead of just dropping down to a crawl. I have a feeling we won't see any more crawling after the next few weeks. He's definitely choosing to be upright now. He's talking ALL THE TIME now. He says a lot that we can't understand, but what we can understand is "mama, dada, hi, bye bye, ni-night, hep (help), uh (up), dow (down), my (mine), yeah, nono, momo, more, "ah da" (all done), car, cracker, ball, wawoo (water), love you and thank-you (you really have to know what he's saying on the last 2, but he definitely says them)." And he says "MAMADADA" when he wants anything. He used to just say "MAMA" - I guess he's learned that if he screams at us both to get it for him, his odds increase of someone actually responding. The whole language thing is pretty amazing to me, since Sierra only had 3 words at 18 months! We were worried she'd never talk. Given that we literally can't get an word in edgewise at the dinner table these days, I'd say we don't need to worry about that anymore. :-)
Bodie's feeding has finally started to improve as well! I daresay that he has finally transitioned to table food - he hasn't had jarred babyfood in almost 2 weeks now! Praise God! And, for the kid who threw up once a day for the better part of his first 14 months or so, it appears that we have finally moved past that. (We don't know for sure, but we think it was all related to his vocal cord - given how much louder he's gotten recently, we think the throwing up probably stopped because his vocal cord has been healing.) Speaking of getting louder, we were at our home school academy last week and as the kids were doing their presentations, Bodie was talking through all of them. He's the background track on all of the videos now. Nice. My kid, the one with only one working vocal cord, is interrupting everyone's presentations. Go figure.
Bodie and Sierra are playing together so much these days. Mostly, he just goes around behind her, messing up whatever she has just cleaned up. She gets sooooo frustrated. I can't help but laugh - I can't imagine what that's like - working so hard to clean something up only to have someone come behind you moments later and mess it up again! Ha! But it is wonderful to see them playing together, loving each other. I love that they can play together after dinner now - I send them outside to play in the sandbox and with the outside toys while I get the kitchen cleaned up. It's a win-win for everyone!
Sierra is doing wonderfully as well. We just got a letter home from school this week letting us know that she'll be transitioning to the pre-K class on July 1st. While we're of course thrilled that she's developmentally ready for the transition, it's hard for me emotionally to know that she'll now be in the oldest class at her preschool (she's been there since she was a 4 month old in the nursery!). And she's such a good big sister. She's always giving Bodie hugs and kisses and getting toys and food for him. Unfortunately, she's often on the receiving end of his pinching, hitting and hair pulling (he's a bit of brute these days). We're trying to teach him to be gentle. He just laughs, says "gentle" and then pulls him arm back and smacks us really hard. Not sure how effective that is. Ha.
So yes, life has gotten really good. Finally, we're in a good groove and enjoying life. Only took us 16 months to get here. And with cardiac kids, things could change at any moment. But we'll take it. At least we're finally here. We'll enjoy it for as long as we get to be in this stage. We're gearing up for Tahoe in a couple of weeks, so would appreciate your prayers that we all stay healthy and well and that Bodie tolerates the higher elevation. We're really excited.
I'll leave you with a couple of pics of our life these days.Sierra in the bouncer at cousin Michael's 1st birthday party last weekend - SO fun! Can you see how red her little cheeks were? It was so hot out and she was running around like a crazy woman.
Bodie and Michael having a stand-off. Bodie kept opening up the hood of the car and then Michael would slam it shut. Then they'd stare at each other and start the process all over again. It was SO funny.
The whole family at Michael's party - Dusk and I with the kids, my brother Matt, his wife Val and Michael, and then my parents, Bill and Nancy.
Our little girl is growing up. :-( Her first day as a Froggie...and her last day as a Froggie. (And yes, she wore that crown to school today (along with black shoes and red and black tights to accompany her pink skirt). That's just how we roll around here.) Dusk is going to kill me for including this pic, but thought I'd include it just as proof of how very much we have found our groove. Our life is so together these days that I have time to do things like, I don't know, break out Sierra's hair supplies just to see if we could do piggies in Bodie's hair. Turns out we can. Turns out, he is not a fan. Could be because he kinda looks like a teletubbie. Rest assured, we will not be trying it again. But we had to do it once, right? Right?