Saturday, June 16, 2012

I'm so excited....and I just can't hide it.

I'm so excited for next fall and all it's curriculum!!!!!  I want to squeal with joy.  I want to dive right in and start NOW.  BUT, my kids need somewhat of a summer, we have the neighbor boy over for tutoring and babysitting most days, and things wouldn't be consistent with all of our summer plans.  SO, I will have to hold on to my enthusiasm and wait until August to start. 
My kids will resume TRADITIONAL (as opposed to Summer) schooling on the same day their peers go back to school.  Two reasons for this:  1) I'm just way to excited to wait any longer than that, and 2) the kids get bored and complain if their friends are in school and they aren't. 
I have two other "what's in the box" posts in the works.  One will focus on Bree's tot tray boxes and the other will focus on Audrey's school work.  I'm waiting to do Audrey's until I get her boxes all set up with next year's curriculum.  That way you can also get a look at what we're planning for next year. 
So much fun, I can't wait!!!  I will try to enjoy my summer and not get TOO carried away though.  :)  We still have to reach our goal of trying to get Audrey to progress enough in reading to be on a SOLID third grade level.  Hopefully my interventions will work.  She may never enjoy reading, which breaks my heart as I am such an avid reader, but she needs to be able TO read.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One year ago.

With great anticipation we loaded the bags into the car, hugged and kissed all of the children, and thanked my parents for staying with the kids.  We headed over to the hospital to welcome our newest bundle of joy, Breanne Janeen Stephen. 
After getting all settled into my room, the nurse came to give me an IV.  She couldn't find a good vein and I ended up with black and blue bruises all over my hands.  Finally that was over and things really started moving.  The labor was fast, just a couple of hours, but all those details have faded in my head in wake of the nightmare that was about to unfold. 
Finally, after my hardest labor yet, little Breanne squirmed her way into this world.  She was perfect, and pink, and crying up a storm.  They cleaned her off, wrapped her up, and handed her to me.  Such a blessing.  I held my little baby for a few precious minutes, then it all began. 
Holding Bree before the "fun" began
She started making a weird kind of chattering sound.  It was weird, but I didn't think much of it.  The nurse came over to check on her, and with concern in her face asked if she could just take a look at the baby.  She just didn't think she "looked" right.  The nurse took Bree over to the bassinet and unwrapped her little body.  It was purple.  She called the NICU team right away and began listening to the baby's heart and lungs.  The NICU team arrived and listened to Bree's heart and lungs as well.  During this time, Ben and I were sitting off to the side just holding on to one another, waiting to hear what was wrong with our beautiful little girl.  The NICU team reported that they suspected Bree had punctured a lung during the birth process.  Phew!  A breath of relief.  A punctured lung, I could deal with that.  I knew it meant a few days in the NICU with antibiotics until the lung healed.  My friend had gone through it with her 4th baby as well.  I could live with that.  They would take Bree for x-rays to confirm the diagnosis. 

Bree, after her surgery, hooked up to all of her machines
So, breathing a little easier I sent my baby off for exrays and relaxed.  The time stretched, and stretched.  My anxiety grew and grew.  During my entire pregnancy I had felt that something was "wrong" with the baby.  The first trimester I worried about a miscarriage.  The second and third trimesters I worried about a still birth.  All ultrasounds were positive however, and showed that she was growing and functioning just perfectly.  Still, I could not shake the feeling that something was "wrong."  We received no word from anyone about the status of our baby.  After a long while, I had grown too antsy and NEEDED an update.  I sent Ben off to see what was happening.  He was gone for so long, I began to worry more. 
Holding Bree right before her surgery.  This was the only the 3rd time I had held my baby in 4 days
Ben finally returned.  He said he had good news and bad news and which did I want first.  I asked for the good news first, and he told me that Bree had NOT punctured a lung.  The bad news:  Something was wrong with her heart.  My own heart dropped out of my chest and onto the floor at this news.  NO!!!!  My little baby couldn't have heart problems!  She couldn't die!  She couldn't be sick!
Calling our parents with heavy hearts, we informed them with tears in our eyes, that Bree had been born.  She was beautiful and precious, but there was something wrong with her heart and they were preparing her to be Life Flighted to Primary Children't Medical Center. 
Our dear friends arrived to give love and support and help Ben administer blessings, the first of many to come over the next two weeks, to both Bree and me.  I was wheeled to see my little baby.  She looked so small and tiny in her incubator all hooked up to many beeping machines.  I was so scared. 
With fear in our hearts, we watched our baby be taken to the helicopter.  Ben followed the helicopter down to Salt Lake, while I had to remain at the hospital.  My mom came to spend the night with me.  I couldn't bear the thought of being alone when any moment my baby could die. 

A proud Marissa holding her baby sister for the first time
The night passed, thankfully, with no more bad news.  I was discharged a scant 24 hours after giving birth in order to drive down to Primary Children's to be with my baby.  There, we received the final diagnosis.  Breanne had TGA, Transposition of the Great Arteries, meaning that her heart was basically wired backward.  Instead of blood flowing through her heart in a figure 8, it was flowing in two circles.  All the blood in her lungs only circulated through her lungs, picking up more and more oxygen.  All the blood to her body circulated through her body without ever going to her lungs to be oxygenated.  Without surgery, she would only live a few days at most. 

Audrey finally getting to hold her baby sister
We tried to prepare ourselves emotionally and mentally for our little girl to undergo open heart surgery.  In all of this horror, there was a glimmer of light.  Bree, amazingly, had no other heart defects!!  This is very rare.  Usually children with TGA have multiple other defects as well.  Not so with our little one.  The outlook was good.  The prognosis was optimistic as long as she did well in surgery and the first couple days of recovery. 
Thursday arrived.  Breanne was just 4 days old when she was taken in to the operating room to be operated on.  We waited, and waited, receiving updates periodically.  Things seemed to be going well.  There were a couple of snags, but nothing REALLY serious.  Then, blessedly, my little girl was out of surgery.  She had done so well that they were even able to close her chest cavity up that day rather than a couple days later.  This shaved off a few days from her recovery. 
Now on to recovery.  Recovery went fairly smoothly.  We were told that BEST case scenario, she would recover in the hospital for two weeks before being sent home.  They neglected to take into account the fighter Bree would turn out to be.  After the first couple days she was doing so well that machines just kept being taken off her every time we turned around! 

Trent is finally a big brother. 
The day arrived, not quite a week after her surgery, that we were informed that she would be moved to the surgical recovery floor.  She no longer needed one on one care, and we as her parents needed to start taking a bigger role in her care.  That move to the surgical floor was a huge milestone, but while the hospital staff felt she was ready, I was not ready for my baby to be moved.  I was still so scared that something would go wrong.  However, the hospital staff knew what they were talking about.  Breanne soared through recovery.  The only hitch was that she refused to completely give up her need for oxygen.  A short 8 days after her surgery Bree was discharged from the hospital and sent home with us.  She needed oxygen for the first little while, but other than that was doing amazing. 

Daddy holding his little girl
We left the hospital in joy, and trepidation, as we now knew that all her care was in our hands. 
Having great faith in the Lord, we survived the nightmare and here we are a year later.  Breanne is a happy, healthy, one year old today!!!  A fading scar remains on her chest to remind us of the miracle she is.  I am so blessed to have my little girl, and I am so grateful to my Faith, the priesthood power, and knowledge of God's plan which sustained me through those first few weeks. 
 I am so grateful to so many who did so much for our family over that time.  Friends who took our children full time.  Friends and church sisters that cleaned and sanitized my home in preparation for Breanne's homecoming.  Friends and church members who checked up on us, offered priesthood blessings, and love and support.  We were truly blessed by an outpouring of love.  Thank you to all, and most of all thanks be to God for his tender mercies.  Thank you, Lord, for letting me keep this precious daughter of Thine.  To be able to raise her and love her in THIS life. 
Breanne this morning on her first birthday!  Oh how far we have come!