Monday, June 29, 2009

Gavin's New Look

It has definitely been a very long and emotional two weeks. Let me begin by going back to the morning of Gav's surgery...

Since Gavin's check-in time was 6 a.m., we had wanted to leave the house at 5 a.m., to make sure we got there in plenty of time. I woke Gav up about 2 a.m. for his last feeding before surgery. Afterwards, he drifted back to sleep, happy for the late-night snack; while I laid there sobbing at the thought of what was to come. I ended up oversleeping until 5 a.m., so we quickly threw some stuff together and headed out. I had forgotten the camera at home, so his initial post-op pics were taken from my camera phone.

I sat in the back seat of the car with him on the ride up so I could hold the pacifier in his mouth, since he was a bit hungry. But despite his hunger, he was so good the whole morning! Once we got there and waited for Dr. Martin and his team to take Gavin back to the surgery room, he was all smiles. He cooed and talked the whole time, completely unaware of what was about to happen. I cried most of the time, but completely lost it when they came to take my sweet boy in for surgery. We took this picture of Gavin before they took him back, and it quickly became the cell-phone wallpaper for me and both grandmas.

He was expected to be in surgery for 2 hours, but he was in there for 4! I was so anxious the entire time. Thankfully, my mom, Matt, and his parents were there as well. When Matt and I finally got to go back and see him, I practically ran down the hall. Then, when I saw my sweet boy, I was overwhelmed with emotion. He was groggy and swollen, and he looked so different. We all agreed that he looked older, but we weren't quite sure why. Here is one of his first post-op pics:

We had been given a private recovery room so that I could breastfeed, but Gavin wasn't able to latch on, he just kept crying and it was breaking my heart. Since I hadn't fed him since 2 a.m. that day, my breasts were so engorged that I thought they would pop. (And thank you, Joy, for telling me to wear dark colors because of the blood. It also helped conceal the fact that my shirt was soaked with milk due to leakage!) I tried to self-express some milk into a bottle so we could feed him and wow, was it painful! But I managed to get some out, although he still wouldn't take the bottle. I began to get really nervous that he would get dehydrated again.

When the ambulance arrived, they strapped Gavin in his carseat on the gurney. It brought tears to my eyes to see my tiny little boy in his carseat being wheeled on a gurney through the hospital halls. Luckily, they allowed me to accompany him on his ambulance ride across the street to the main hospital. When we arrived at the hospital, we were transfered to a room. (If you call it that - it was more like a closet with curtains for walls!) They brought me a breast pump so I could finally relieve some pressure and we could try to feed Gav. He still refused the bottle, so we tried a medicine dropper, which wasn't going great, but at least we were able to get some milk into him. At one point, the nurse came in to fix his IV, since it was coming out and I had to hold his little arm while she did it. It was awful - I was sobbing my eyes out, Gav was crying, and both grandmas were crying. What an emotional family we are!

That night and the following morning were rough. Since Gav likes to sleep on his tummy, I just let him sleep on my chest while I laid on the chair. Matt went out and slept in the car since there was only room for one chair in our room (or, closet). Gavin was so lethargic most of the night and the following morning. But thankfully, he began taking a bottle that morning so we could discontinue using the medicine dropper. I made sure to bug the nurses about keeping up on his pain meds and antibiotics. His morning nurse laughed when she gave him his Tylenol with codeine, because she said she had never had a baby like his medication so much. That's our boy! He did so well during the whole ordeal, I was so proud of him.

That day, Matt went home to get some much-needed rest, so my mom came to the hospital to keep us company. She said she loved every minute with Gavin and was so excited that I had called and asked her to come down. We were released about 3:30 p.m., so my mom loaded up our stuff and got the car ready for Gav and I while we waited in the room. It was so nice to finally be headed home. My mom dropped us off and I thanked her and told her I loved her.  I had no idea that that was the last time we would ever get to see her...

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I know all of you are anxious to know how Gavin's surgery went.  Overall, it went great.  It was an emotional thing to go through, but he is healing well and looks just as cute as ever.  I will post a detailed update as soon as I get a chance.  I had begun working on it yesterday, but never finished because I received the worst news of my life - my mom had died in a plane crash.  My mom was one of the most important people in my life.  I called her everyday and she often came over to help with Gav.  She loved being a grandma and cherished every moment she spent with Gavin.  She said that he would always make her day.  She even brought us home from the hospital on Tuesday and was supposed to come by today and help me with him.  But instead, I am spending time with family and loved ones remembering my mom, as she was the center of our family.  I had recently told my mom that her advice was so valuable to me.  I told her I was in awe of her and how smart she was.  If she had told me the world was flat, I probably would have believed her, just because she was so amazingly intelligent.  I still had so much to learn from her and feel completely robbed.  I just don't know how to live without my mom...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day Before Surgery

Tomorrow is Gavin's surgery day and I am just a bundle of nerves!  I can't believe the day is here already.  It is going to be so hard for me, but I have confidence in Dr. Martin and the team at Loma Linda, so I know everything will be okay.  Although, waiting for my baby boy to come out of surgery will be the longest few hours of my life.

I'm going to feel terrible not feeding him tomorrow morning when he wakes up and wants to eat.  We are going to wake him up around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning to feed him so he doesn't have to go so long without eating.  But it's still going to be hard in the morning.

I am so thankful that we got Gavin's 3-month pictures taken today.  The staff at JCPenney's was very kind and accommodating.  We had to leave the appointment after taking just a few pictures because Gavin was very unhappy and cried most of the time, but they allowed us to come back about an hour later and try again.  He still wasn't really thrilled about it and only allowed another couple shots before he lost it again.  Overall, we only managed to get 12 pictures and he was crying in a few.  But he looked absolutely adorable, of course, so I had to buy the CD.  That way, I can print the pictures myself and do all my own editing.  I get to pick up the CD in ten days, so I will post a few of my favorites then.

Please keep us in your thoughts tomorrow!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Nerves and Soy

Yesterday we received the call from Loma Linda that Gavin's surgery check-in time is 6:00 a.m.  That was good news because the earlier, the better.  Gav usually wakes up to eat somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00, so if we just keep him up really late tomorrow night, he might not have such a rough morning.  I know I'll have a rough morning regardless, because I have been overwhelmed with emotions about the surgery.  I feel anxious, nervous, sad, and glad all at the same time.  Whenever I think about it, I cry.  Thank goodness we have such wonderful, supportive family and friends who will be there for us through this experience.

I decided that I wanted to get Gavin's 3-month pictures done before his surgery, so I scheduled an appointment at JCPenney's.  I have never used their portrait studio before (because we have a photographer in the family - check out her work by clicking here), but I have seen some of their work and it's very cute.  However, I read a review online and it made me nervous, because the reviewer said that the appointments are only 10 minutes apart, he had to wait 1-hour, the photographers were rude, and they wouldn't allow him and his wife to interact with their child in order to make their baby laugh.  Ayyy!!  If I have an experience like that I will be so upset.  I hope it goes well.  It is so important to me to have great photos of his sweet wide-smile before he gets a new smile on Monday.

On another note, I have been craving ice cream for a few days now, but still can't have dairy due to Gavin's colic.  So I finally bought some soy ice cream on Friday from Trader Joe's and yahooo!!  It's delicious.  The soy milk I have been drinking is not so great, but the ice cream and ice cream sandwiches are very tasty.  Soy is one of my new favorite things!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pre-Op Appointment

We had Gavin's pre-op appointment with Dr. Martin today, as well as his pre-anesthesia appointment. During the pre-op, Dr. Martin explained that the surgery will take about 3 hours. Gavin will be put under using a gas mask and then the IV will be put in. That was such great news because I don't want him to be in pain.  He said that the surgery involves a lot of geometry; they have to measure everything and figure out how to repair it in the most aesthetically pleasing way.  Gavin's nose will have to be repaired during the surgery as well, since the nose generally stays flat otherwise.  He will have to wear tubes in his nose for 1-3 weeks after surgery, but the longer the better.  They only remove them at 1 week if there is irritation.  They will use removable sutures to repair his lip.  His alveolar ridge (gum area) will be repaired as well.  It seems like we misunderstood the information about the gum repair we were given earlier.  It will still need to be repaired, but then the bone will generally fuse together after the gum is repaired.  He said in 90% of cases, no additional surgeries are needed, but in the other 10%, they decide later that what was done can be improved upon and an additional surgery is done.  He will have to wear arm restraints for about 2-3 weeks after surgery, which can only be removed during baths.  This will be rough since Gavin always sleeps on his tummy, but he will have to sleep on his back to keep from rubbing his face on the bed.  Overall, the pre-op appointment went great.  Gav was in a good mood and, despite missing out on his usual morning nap, he was all smiles.  That's more than I can say for myself, since I cried during the meeting with the doctor!

After that, we went straight to the pre-anesthesia appointment, where they evaluate Gavin's health history and check him for anemia by doing a finger-prick blood test.  The finger-prick test was tougher on me than Gavin.  After it was done, he cried for about 30 seconds, but then he fell asleep in my arms, while I held his tiny hand and applied pressure to his little thumb like the nurse asked me to.  It's moments like that when I think, darn car seats!  Why can't we live in the days when moms could cuddle their little ones in the car rather than sticking them in the cold car seat?  LOL.  They also gave us some good news: Gavin only has to refrain from eating for 4 hours prior to surgery.  The original paperwork said no eating after midnight.  I didn't know how we were going to accomplish that since Gav wakes up around 5:30 each morning to eat and letting him cry in hunger would just break my heart!  But they said breast-fed babies can eat 4 hours prior to surgery, while formula-fed babies require 6 hours because breast milk breaks down faster.  So next Monday, on surgery day, we will wake Gav up and feed him 4 hours before his surgery time and then hope he goes back to sleep and doesn't want to eat again before we leave.

Anyway, Gav was just an angel all day.  The nurses at the pre-anesthesia appointment commented on how content he was and how nothing seemed to bother him.  He even gave them a few smiles, which they loved.  It's that sweet smile that I am going to miss so much.  I've still been trying to get more pictures of that adorable smile, but it is so hard, since he becomes mesmerized by the camera every time I whip it out and stops smiling.  But I managed to get a few good ones last night.  Here is one for you to enjoy!

Cuddling with Daddy after a long day at Loma Linda:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bottle blues

When we met with Gavin's Speech Pathologist (Heather) a couple weeks ago, she said that we would need to get authorization from our insurance before continuing the bottle-feeding clinics with her. My insurance requires a pre-authorization for speech therapy, so we have been waiting for Heather to call us back to let us know if the pre-authorization was approved by our insurance. Well, on Friday, she called to let me know that Gavin's pediatrician had to approve the pre-authorization and, after reading the report about our desire to work on bottle-feeding, he denied it. So we would not be able to meet with her to work on the bottle. I was so distressed about it since Gavin struggles so much with bottle-feeding and we need him to take a bottle when I return to work. I even ordered some bottles that seem absolutely amazing because they look and feel more like a mother's breast than any other nipples I have found. They even require the same suction and compression actions used with breast-feeding. So I was hopeful that they might be the best for Gav. So I made an appointment with Gavin's pediatrician today to explain the reason for trying the bottle and to try to convince him to approve the authorization.

I think I may have mentioned before that his pediatrician is really against bottle-feeding. So, after explaining our reasons to him, he basically said that if Gavin gets hungry enough while I am away, he will eat. Hmmm.... I don't think I really like that answer. I also expressed my concerns over Gavin's circumcision, since I had noticed that it seemed red and pulled apart in one spot. He said that it had adhered together in some spots and would eventually put apart on it's own. This worried me as well since I have heard horror stories about circumcision's fusing back together and requiring surgery. When Dr. Shafai showed me where it had already pulled apart on it's own, Gavin started screaming, so I grabbed him quickly to comfort him. We were also told that he has a herniated belly-button, but that it would go away by the time he is 2 or 3. Well, we certainly didn't get a lot of good news today. The doctor said other than that, Gavin is doing great and seems very healthy. He is even up to 11.14 pounds. I am concerned about his belly-button, circumcision, and bottle-feeding. I'm probably going to put Neosporin® on his circumcision, but I hope that it will get better soon like the doctor says it will. Has anyone else had this problem? And what about his doctor's advice? And does anyone near the Riverside/Corona area have a great pediatrician they might recommend? I'm not sure if I should stick with ours. As much as we like him, I'm just starting to have a few concerns.

On another note, tomorrow is Gavin's pre-opp appointment at Loma Linda. I am feeling so emotional over the whole thing. I cry almost every time I think about it. And after receiving a wonderful email from a new cleft buddy, Joy, it became even more real. She offered great advice, but nonetheless, I cried my eyes out reading it. Having a blog has been so wonderful because it has allowed me to connect with other cleft-affected families who have already been very helpful. We met Darcy while Gavin was in the hospital for dehydration and have continued to keep in touch with her through blogs and emails. It is so nice to have people to talk to during this experience. And, both Darcy and Joy's children had the same surgeon that Gavin will have, Dr. Martin, so that is encouraging as their children are absolutely beautiful! Both moms even said I could call them or meet with them if I needed help and support through this experience since they both live locally. So thank you, ladies! You and my other new blogging friends have been a great support system!

Wish us luck with our appointment tomorrow! Here are two cute pictures taken recently:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thankful for a New Day

Matt left for a boy's trip to Havasu yesterday at noon, so Gavin and I are on our own for the first time this weekend. I decided to come to my parent's house during the day, but go home at night so as not to mess up our routine. Yesterday was great during the day, but the night was not so smooth.

As soon as we got in the car to head home, Gavin started crying. We live about 15 minutes from my parents' house, so I figured he would calm down before we got home, especially since he only had two 1/2 hour naps after 10:30 that morning. But I was wrong! I played the blow dryer CD for him, wiggled his car seat, and tried talking to him during the ride, but nothing helped. By the time we got to our street, he was crying really hard. I couldn't get to the driveway fast enough. It was about 9:00 p.m., so it was dark, but I had left lights on at our house. As soon as I parked, I jumped out of the car to scoop him up and rush into the house. I was nervous though because there was a stray pit bull running down our street. Just peachy.

When we got in, I tried to soothe him and I figured I would give him his bath, since the front of his pajamas were soaked with tears and drool. But when I unsnapped the front, he let out the most blood-curdling scream! It was the loudest scream I think I've ever heard - from anyone. Then he screamed again, so I just grabbed him and held him tight and tried to calm him down. I let him nurse a bit, while I ran our vacuum (he loves loud, white-noise sounds). Once he was calm enough, I finished undressing him and gave him a quick bath. Then I nursed him again, with tears rolling down my cheeks, while he drifted off to dreamland. I was just so heartbroken over his rough night. Once Gav was beginning to fall asleep, our dog, Bocephus, began growling at the front door. Bo never really growls unless there's really something to growl at, so I was concerned. Of all nights for something or someone to be lurking around, it had to be the night when Matt wasn't home. Geesh. After awhile, Bo decided that whatever danger was outside was gone, so the three of us went to bed about 10:30. Phew!

This morning, Gav woke up a little after 5:15 a.m., and after we got ready, we came to my parents' house. This morning has started off much better, so I'm hoping tonight goes a little smoother. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's Only Just Begun...

Everyday, I am amazed at how much Gavin grows.  He is such a joyful, sweet baby and I cherish every moment with him.  And every time I look at him, I think about the future and what it holds for him.

While Gavin was napping yesterday and today, I watched Nanny 911 and World's Strictest Parents.  It's so sad to see parents who have lost control of their children.  It's also a little nerve-wracking because I hope that we are never in a situation like that.  But parenting doesn't come with a manual.  Everyone just does the best job they can.  And I feel sad when I think about teenagers who rebel against their parents and go down the wrong road, because parents don't foresee that when their children are little.  When you hold your baby in your arms, you don't imagine that you may someday have a broken relationship with your child or that your child will make decisions that will horrify you.  My mom once told me that children bring you the greatest joy and the greatest pain in life.  In fact, when Gav was in the hospital for dehydration, I told her that I already knew it was true.  I felt more love and more heartache than I had ever felt before, and it's only just begun...

I know that most people parent as they were parented, and in our case, both Matt and I had great role models.  Matt's parents divorced when he was young, and he and his brother were raised primarily by their mom, who did an amazing job.  She managed to raised two wonderful, caring, responsible men who have both become terrific fathers.  And I like to consider my parents superheroes because they not only raised me and my three siblings, but they were foster parents to over 50 special needs babies.  They even ran a support group for other foster parents of special needs kids called Kids Are Special People.  So Matt and I consider our parents to be experts when it comes to raising children.

Matt and I have already learned quite a bit as parents over the past 2 1/2 months.  One thing that we have learned is that having a night-time routine works great for us.  Every night at 9:00 p.m., we give Gavin a bath together, then I nurse him, and put him to bed at 10:00 p.m.  We don't have any toys or distractions in his bed, which seems to have made a difference.  Even if he's awake, he will wiggle around a bit until he gets comfortable, then he'll just close his little eyes and drift off to sleep for about 7 hours.  It has been great for Matt and I.  But if the routine gets messed up, Gav will want to stay up later, so we try to follow it every night.

We have learned many other things about parenting as well, but I know that we will continue to learn for the rest of our lives.  And what a wonderful and joyful responsibility it is!

Here are a few photos of some of the greatest joy and the greatest pain in my own Mom's life - me and my two beautiful sisters: