Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nap Time

We met with both Early Intervention and Utah School for the Deaf and Blind today. It was a somewhat busy afternoon, and these visits always leave Norah a bit worn out. Early Intervention is particularly good at stretching Norah to her activity limits... In a good way of course.

Both Norah and her roommate were in need of a nap. So we dimmed the lights, Jeff engaged Harper in some quiet play time (with his Nintendo DS), and I snuggled up with Norah in the recliner. It was so peaceful that she fell asleep rather quickly in my arms. At this point, I would typically pick up my knitting or read my Kindle. Instead, I decided to simply live in the moment, and rock my sweet girl while she dreamed against me.

I fell asleep with her in my arms. Sure, it was only 20 minutes or so, but I woke with tears in my eyes. They were tears of both joy and sadness. I've never fallen asleep holding Norah before. It was the sweetest and simplest of pleasures. Shared nap time was a daily thing with Harper. It was something I naturally took for granted. And here I am now, my daughter almost 19 months old, and I had never napped with her in my arms. My heart was fulfilled and lonely at the same time. I wish we could nap together all the time. But I'll take what I can get.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Back on Track

Norah's record for tolerating the home ventilator came before she had two trips to the OR, and before she came down with ventilator associated pneumonia in December. It was 13.5 hours continuous hours. She still hasn't beat that, but she is finally back on track. For the last couple of months, she has only been on it for 4-5 hours at a time. However, she is now tolerating 10 hours every day.

The plan is to re-evaluate her every two weeks, and increase her time on the home ventilator by one hour if she can tolerate it. With as well as she's been doing, I'm hopeful that we won't have a problem bumping her up when it's time. That is... so long as we don't have any sort of setback like we seem to keep having.

So she's that much closer to being able to come home. The unfortunate thing that we just found out, is that the FDA's rule for using the Trilogy (her home vent) at home is that she be 10 kg (about 22 lbs). Right now she weighs in the neighborhood of 7 kg (15.4 lbs), so we still have another 3 kg to go (6.6 lbs). That is a LOT for her. So we may not make our goal of getting her home by the time she's two. But we can still hope.

We have quite a few resources to help keep her weight gain on track. It's a little tricky, not only because of her skeletal dysplasia, but also because her work of breathing burns quite a few more calories than the average child her age or her size. Her growth goals are half that of a child her age. She still gets pretty much all of her calories from her g-tube, and we'll probably have it for quite sometime. I'm not so worried about it though. To be honest, it is really convenient. Of course we are still working on her oral feeds, but I'm quite the advocate of g-tubes when the application is right. We're taking the gentle approach with Norah. We encourage her (she LOVES Cheerios), but don't push too hard when it comes to anything oral. It isn't easy for her, and we don't want to push so hard that we end up going backwards.

I'll keep you all updated on her progress with the ventilator. Hopefully we'll continue to move forward!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jeff!

Happy birthday to the love of my life, to the partner pea in my shared pod, to the father of my children, to the peaceful piece to my puzzle. I love you completely and unconditionally, my heart. Not only do you make me whole, but you support and care for me in ways that I never could have imagined. While this year won't bring you a new computer, new iPad, or anything of the like... I will shower you with love and kisses, and do my best to take as good care of you as you do for me. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Living on Life Support

Most people think of the term "life support" as the means to an end. Perhaps that is true in most cases, but not ours. To us, "life support" is the means to a beginning. Norah recently had her half-birthday, turning 18 months old. She is definitely a toddler. She throws fits. She gets frustrated. She gets annoyed with her family. She wants to do everything her way and on her own terms. But yes, she is still on life support. She has a trach, a ventilator, a long-term feeding tube, and enough gear to start her own medical supply store. She lives in the hospital still, and our hope is to get her home by the time she turns two years old (but who knows if that will actually happen). While we try to live life fully and happily now, we sure look forward to breaking free of life support.

Jeff and I often daydream about our future. There are so many unknowns, as with all lives. We wonder if Norah will still be dependent on these medical devices when she goes to school. We wonder if she will choose American Sign Language or spoken word. We wonder when we will hear her sweet voice for the first time. We wonder what it sounds like. We wonder if she'll grow to be proud of her challenges, or embarrassed by them. We daydream about the day she is decannulated - the day she gets her trach out. It will be an overnight stay in the PICU, and it will be coming full circle. We wonder how old she'll be. At first we pictured her toddling around, all of her favorite nurses chasing her around the unit. But now maybe she'll be coloring in her favorite coloring book. Maybe she'll be reading a Harry Potter book. Maybe she'll be painting her toenails and texting her friends about how bored she is.

We daydream about Norah and Harper taking care of one another. He will protect her, and she will protect him. They will fight, they will laugh, and I can only hope that they will be close.

There is certainly another sort of life support aside from the medical type. There is the life support that requires the love of those around you to lift you up and help you get through tough times. There is the type that creates wonderful memories to draw upon when life gets difficult. Right now we live on both sorts of life support- the medical and the emotional. It is difficult, frightening, and completely beautiful.

A very wire-and-tube-filled photo of Norah during her recent
PICU stay last week. Her hair is amazing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Someone I Love

I recently read a lovely poem on a friend's blog that I felt compelled to share.

Poem by Lori Hickman

Someone I love relies on me in ways you will never understand.

Someone I love endures pain and challenges that break my heart and renew my spirit at the same time.

Someone I love is unable to advocate for themselves for things that most of us take for granted.

Someone I love will never have the opportunities that every child should have.

Someone I love will need unconditional love and support after I am gone - this frightens me to the core.

Someone I love encounters pity, stereotyping responses, and prejudice at every turn, because they look, act, and/or learn differently than others.

Someone I love has needs that require me to allow "outsiders" to have power and input in areas that should be mine alone to meet.

Someone I love will continue to look to me for everything in life long after other children are able to assume a place as part of the world.

Someone I love has needs that require more time and energy than I have to give.

Someone I love has needs that mean I am not able to meet basic needs of my own.

Someone I love has needs that have become the driving force behind major decisions my family makes.

Someone I love has changed me in ways I will never be able to describe.

Someone I love has taught me about love and about the really important things in life...

And still others don't understand what it is to be me.. they aren't living in my skin.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Norah went in for yet another removal of tissue (granuloma) blocking her airway around her trach. Our ENT used a different method to remove it, this time actually taking out her trach tube to get at all the problem tissue. When he did, he noted that her tracheomalacia is much worse than he had originally thought. Basically, this means that her trachea (airway) sort of collapses instead of staying rigid and open like a straw. Every time he's looked in there before, it has been with the trach tube in there, so it helps stent open her airway. The only real cure is for Norah to get bigger and stronger. While growth is particularly slow for Norah and her diagnosis, it has definitely been the trend for answers to her medical problems.

What does this mean? Sigh, I don't fully know. But I do know that she will probably have the vent and trach longer than we had originally thought. I suppose we are already past that 12-18 month projected time with a trach. But if life with my girl means life with a trach and vent, then that's just the way it will have to be. We'll take her no matter what comes with it. At this point, it is all part of her, and these life-sustaining technologies have become a part of her that I am so very proud of.

Once in awhile, I am reminded of how great we have it. Other times, I am reminded that life is pretty tough. But it's not just our lives that are trying... life's difficulties are just part of the human condition. Everyone has their complaints - but as I've always said, should you ever feel down, take a visit to your local children's hospital. You will see hope and courage like you would not believe.

Recent losses in my and Jeff's extended family have reminded me that, while life is beautiful, it is also so sad, and so hard. So everyone, be careful out there. And take gentle care of those that you love. Life is fleeting, and we should do everything we can to take advantage of the beauty and love it has to offer.
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