Thursday, November 4, 2010


"I have a rock in my nose!" Describing his stuffy nose. -October 23, 2010

Kiefer: "I spy with my little eye... something wog."
Me: "Log?"
Kiefer: "No. Wog! It's a tree."
He meant log. LOL.
- October 25, 2010

As we're getting ready for trick-or-treating, Kiefer, full of enthusiasm says, "This it the best day ever!" - October 31, 2010

"Papa! Why you wearing that shirt? You look like a farmer." That's what Kiefer said to Roel when he saw his red checked shirt. - November 4, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Summer fun

Saskia is just about 3 months old and weighs in at over 14 pounds! She's a very sweet baby and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky because she sleeps very well; she has from the beginning. I am almost afraid to write about it because I do not want to jinx our good fortune. She usually goes down for the night at 9:30 and we wake her up at 6:45 so we can get the day started. I believe the reason she sleeps so well at night because she doesn't usually sleep very much during the day. Sometimes she won't take a real nap... only a few 5-10 minute cat naps. I don't know how she does it!

Transitioning from a family of 3 to 4 went pretty smoothly. Now we can't even imagine life without Saskia. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Janice and Uncle Geoff came to visit in July and helped us out with cooking and cleaning. They also kept big brother Kiefer occupied. It was great to see them and Kiefer had so much fun. Kiefer was very impressed with Uncle Geoff and mimicked whatever Uncle Geoff did. If Uncle Geoff took his shirt off while in the garden, Kiefer did, too! A visit to the Creamee in Turner's Falls was a must. Grandpa ordered a large cone of softserv knowing full well that a large at the Creamee is LARGE. They could barely get it out the window to give to him, but he was able to eat it without making a mess!

In August, Oma and Opa came to visit. They, too, were a huge help and did all sorts of fun things with Kiefer, especially during the week when Holly was closed for vacation. They took him to the Great Falls Discovery Center and Look Park where he had great fun playing in the water spray park. We spent a lot of time in the back yard watching Kiefer swim, play with our new neighbor's 2-year old son, Brandon, and drive around in his Jeep. Shortly before Saskia was born, I scored a two-seater PowerWheels Jeep on Craigslist. It took him a little while to figure out how to steer it, but he is quite good at it now. He loves to drive around and he often has us laughing out loud when we see him throw it in reverse and put his arm over the seat while he backs up. He looks like he's been driving for years!

Saskia went through a few weeks of throwing up everything in her stomach all over herself, me and the couch. Although she never seemed to be too bothered by this, it did create quite a laundry problem. I have stopped eating dairy, chocolate and tomatoes and she seems to be better. She is also on a dose of Prilosec each day.  Just another month of that and we'll see how she does without it.

Saskia's first trip outside of Massachusetts was to Pennsylvania for my 15-year high school reunion on September 5. She was amazing. She didn't make a peep during the 3.5 hour car ride there or back. It was just the two of us as Kiefer and Papa stayed at home. I don't think Roel was too keen on going. Plus, Oma and Opa were flying back to the Netherlands that weekend, so he and Kiefer stayed at home.  We left early Saturday morning and returned Sunday evening.

I went back to work full-time after labor day. This meant that Saskia started at daycare full-time. She is at the same home daycare that Kiefer has been at since he was 3 months old. I love Holly and I love that they are together in a home. She is doing very well there and likes to be where the action is--watching the older kids play. We think she might be just as nosy as Kiefer, who refuses to nap there because he's afraid he might miss something.

We took Kiefer and Saskia to the Franklin County Fair. It's pretty great because it is only a 5 minute walk up the road from our house. We thought Kiefer would be thrilled about the rides now that he is big enough to ride many of them. He enjoyed them very much and rode them with his friend, Maeve, who we happened to run into there with her parents. However, Kiefer was just as happy sitting on all the tractors and heavy equipment on display.

We've been keeping busy on the weekends. Last weekend we went apple picking at Clarkdale with our friend, Marie José, and her two daughters. We picked Cortlands and had never picked in that particular field before. When our bag was about halfway full, Marie José noticed some suspicious 3 leafed plants beneath the apple trees. It was poison ivy! Needless to say, we weren't too pleased that they didn't post any signs or warn us about it and the kids were under the trees, of course! We washed our feet and shoes in cold water as soon as we got back to the house and luckily, none of us had any sign of rash.

We also visited my college friends (Bonnie, Cindy and Laura) and their families in eastern Massachusetts. That is quite fun now that each of us has two children. There we were--8 adults trying to keep up with 8 children ranging in age from 4 down to 10 weeks. Gone are the days of sitting around and leisurely enjoying food, drink and conversation!

We also visited the Big E. We hadn't planned on going this year, but my friend from high school, Carisa and her husband, Ed, were going and we couldn't pass up an opportunity to see them. They live in Boston and although it isn't far, we don't get together often enough. Kiefer had the best time. He loved the parade complete with Mardi Gras floats which tossed beads. He enjoyed the rides and when he was too tired at the end of the day, he rode on Papa's shoulders. Saskia was quite content in the stroller and didn't seem fazed by the marching bands and noisy crowd.

Some recent Kieferisms:

‎"I have a good play with my friend today." June 19, 2010 after a play-date with his buddy, Liam

For some bizarre reason, Kiefer calls Diego from the show Go, Diego, Go! "Two-eggo!"

Kiefer got a special toddler alarm clock in hopes we could get him waking up at a more reasonable hour than 5:30 am. We set it to glows green when it is OK for him to get up. The first morning he had it, Kiefer woke up before it was set to glow and said, "Hey! My clock doesn't work! It's not green!"

What Kiefer says when I am listening intently to a story on NPR in the car and he can't get my attention: "Mama! Speak to me!"

Roel explained that the toilet at the restaurant flushed automatically. Kiefer said, "The restaurant guy flushes the toilet." - August 30, 2010

Kiefer: "Mama! Mama! Mama!" Me: "What, Kiefer?" "Um. I have to think of a question." - August 30, 2010

Kiefer informed me that when he gets bigger he's going to marry Suzanne and they're going two have two baby boys named "Sizewise" and "Hippityhop." Random. And funny. - September 21, 2010

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Baby Saskia is here!

Kiefer was 12 days over estimated due date, so I was expecting to go late this time as well. On Tuesday, June 29--4 days over my due date--I had no indication (other than Mr. Oliver, our cat, acting strange around me) that I was going to go into labor. Earlier in the day, I went to the grocery store, made 4-berry jam and a no-bake cheese pie. It started very suddenly in the late afternoon. At first, the contractions felt stronger than usual Braxton Hicks, which I'd been having for months so I didn't think much. Within a couple of hours I knew I was in labor because the contractions became more frequent and regular.When they were about 6 minutes apart, I told Roel that this might be it and I was going to go take a shower. I did, so did he and we gathered everything and called our neighbor, who volunteered to stay with Kiefer if I went into labor at night. I was having contractions in waves of 3 about 5 minutes apart. We got in the car after I had just had the last of a wave and we made it without any contractions until we pulled into the hospital parking spot.

Because labor with Kiefer lasted 42 hours and involved terrible back labor, the first thing I said when I got to the hospital and saw the nurse was, "I'd really like an epidural. I want you to know that now so you can get the anesthesiologist." I was starting to have back labor so I didn't want to go through that again. Unfortunately, she told me I needed to have a bag of fluids before that could happen. Then, when she checked me and told me I was dilated 7 cm and was in transition, she went to get the midwife who had just finished delivering another baby. I knew when the midwife rushed in with everything for delivery that I had missed the boat and I wasn't getting drugs. I was a little freaked out, but mostly happy that things were going so quickly and that I would be able to experience a natural child birth. The back labor is attributed to the fact that the baby was sunny side... just like Kiefer. I had a few minutes between contractions, which helped. When I felt one coming, I would say, "Oh no!" I think I even once said in the middle of the bad back labor, "This just isn't right! Make it stop!" Everything did go very quickly. We arrived at the hospital at 9:30 pm and our beautiful daughter was born at 11:50 pm after only about 10 minutes of pushing.

Roel and I are enjoying being the parents of a little girl. Kiefer is in love with her, too. He just wonders why she sleeps so much! Kiefer had been acting up in past few weeks, but as soon as the baby arrived, he was fine. We think the anticipation of the big event really got to him.

Things seem to be going rather smoothly. Saskia is a pretty mellow baby and a good eater. Roel and I are seasoned parents this time around and that definitely helps, too! We are adjusting to getting less sleep and changing diapers again!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kiefer's 3rd birthday

It is hard to believe that our little boy is now 3 years old! The week before his birthday, we headed to the West Harwich/Dennisport area of Cape Cod with Oma and Opa (Roel's parents). They usually come to visit during his birthday and he has been having a great time playing with them. Oma likes to take him out on his bike and Opa likes to share an orange with Kiefer. The weather was quite beautiful on the Cape for late May, so we spent a good amount of time at the beach playing and finding sea shells.

For Kiefer's birthday, Papa and Opa decorated the house with streamers and he was thrilled when he saw them the morning of this birthday. He asked, "For my birthday?" Throughout the day, he opened presents which Oma and Opa doled out. Kiefer was at home for the week because his daycare provider was on a well-deserved vacation. It was over 90 F on his birthday, so when I got home from work, I ran around with Kiefer in the sprinkler and when Papa got home from work, we gave him ice cream cake and he opened the last of his presents. He was thrilled with all the Cars items and the piggy bank and was ecstatic to get his very own camera. He opened it and said, "A camera. For me!"  Kiefer always wants to take a picture with our camera when we have it out so we thought we would get him his own. He picked it up very quickly and has been happily snapping away. You can check out some of his photos on Picasa in an album called "The World According to Kiefer - Photos by a 3 year-old."

At 11:20 pm the night of Kiefer's b-day, we all awoke to a terrible storm. The thunder and lightening were right overhead and the rain and wind were ferocious. Our power went out and though initially scared by all the noise of the storm, Kiefer was very happy to walk around with a flashlight. We saw that a power line had come done up the street from our house and it was arcing--lighting up the whole neighborhood. The fire department came quickly and thankfully, the downed wire landed on a lawn, well away from houses. The lawn was scorched and black when we saw it the next day. After an hour, things had calmed down and we went back to bed. There was still no power in the morning and to our dismay, it appeared that the power would not be restored for days. Two trees had fallen from the woods into our yard...narrowly missing some newly planted perennials. We all went to bed around 9:00 pm when it got dark the next couple of nights (reading by candlelight doesn't really work) and  power was restored by noon on Saturday... 60 hours after the storm.

It has been two and half months since Kiefer's surgery and he is doing great! He was on blood pressure medication for two weeks. After a visit to the pediatric cardiologist in Springfield, he went down to a half dose for a week and finally went off of it. His blood pressure looked good even without the medication. Kiefer had a follow up appointment with the cardiologist in April and the doctor said that everything looked really good. It was rather difficult for the tech to do the ultrasound because Kiefer really didn't want it done and cried, but he eventually calmed down enough that they could get the pictures they needed. He was just fine with the doctor listening with the stethoscope to his heart and his pulse in his arms and legs. Kiefer has a little doctor's kit and he often practices taking our blood pressure or listening to our hearts. He will see the cardiologist again for a check up in a couple of weeks.

This Easter photo of Kiefer (left) was selected by Children's Hospital Boston as "Photo of the Week!"

The weekend before Easter, we took Kiefer to Diemand Farm in nearby Wendell for an Easter Egg hunt. It was quite chilly that day and there were a lot of kids, but Kiefer had a great time meeting the Easter bunny, looking at the baby goats, bunnies and chicks, "driving" the tractor, and finding Easter eggs. After a morning at the farm, we headed to eastern Massachusetts to Bennie's 1st birthday party. Kiefer had great fun running around with his friends Vivi and Catherine.

Kiefer talks about and to the baby in my belly. He gives my belly kisses and he tells me the baby is going to be "so cute!" I hope he is as nice to her when she actually gets here. I am 36 weeks pregnant right now and I'm really starting to slow down. It's been unseasonably hot, which is not good for a big pregnant lady! Work is air-conditioned and we did install the air-conditioners at home already so it is somewhat bearable.

A couple of my favorite recent Kiefer-isms:

I said to Kiefer, "I love you so much!" To which Kiefer responded, "I love YOU so much!" Then I said, "You're so cute!" He said, "You're so big." - April 11, 2010

I told Kiefer that he had to brush his teeth so he wouldn't have dragon breath. The next day, after brushing his teeth, he said, "I don't have dragon teeth!" -May 15, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kiefer's Heart Surgery

We arrived at the Yawkey Family Inn on Sunday evening at about 5:00 pm. It is a beautiful house located only a 10 minute walk from the hospital. It actually used to be a fraternity house... the frat donated it to the hospital and it is now a lovely and inexpensive place for families of patients at Boston Children's to stay. Kiefer was very excited to explore the place, but we did have to get dinner so we walked to a restaurant in the pouring rain. We were all quite soaked, but we had a good meal and when we got back, Kiefer took a warm bath. We had to bathe him with a special sponge and soap to help make sure his skin was extra clean for surgery. He enjoyed being sprayed with the hand-held shower and was quite cooperative.

After bath, we let him play in the playroom and he had a great time. There was a little girl about a year older than Kiefer who was rather shy but wanted to play with him. They eventually broke the ice and had lots of fun running around and playing. I assumed the little girl was a sibling of a patient at the hospital. It turns out that she was a patient who had just been released that day. She had open heart surgery just 5 days earlier! I was amazed! Her family had to try very hard to get her to not run. That was definitely a good thing for us to see!

Kiefer doesn't sleep very well in new places, so he really didn't want to go to sleep. I think it was close to 11 pm before he did finally fall asleep. He woke up bright and early at 5 am and was ready to play! We got ourselves ready and called the hospital security to come and pick us up. There was no way we were going to walk in the pouring rain again! Security took their sweet time coming to get us, though and we ended up getting there at 6:45 am when we were supposed to check in at 6:30 am. The good thing, I suppose, was that we didn't have to wait for anything. We checked in, they took his vitals, put an ID bracelet on his arm and off we went to pre-surgery. We had a few minutes there to play with a sticker sheet the nurse had given him before the anesthesiologist gave him some cherry flavored liquid to calm him. He spit most of it out, of course. Only moments later they told us that one of us could bring him back to the OR and handed us a surgical mask, cap and gown. I put the cap on and when I stood up for the nurse to assist me with the gown, she asked, "Are you pregnant?" I told her I was and she informed me that I wasn't allowed to go. So Roel suited up and brought Kiefer to the OR. I cried and cried. It all went so fast and it was scary to think that he was about to be cut open.

Within a few minutes, Roel was back and there we were with the sticker sheet Kiefer had just been playing with and the clothes he had been wearing. The nurse brought us to the OR nurse station, where we gave our cell phone numbers so they could call us and give us updates on the surgery and when it was finished. We went to Au Bon Pain on the hospital main floor and had some breakfast while waiting. We were both OK when we didn't think about the surgery. I occupied myself on-line and Roel read the Boston Globe. About 45 minutes later, we got a call from the nurse saying that the surgery had started. Actually, she said, "They just made the incision." Yeah. I really didn't want to know that. More waiting and trying not to think about it and an hour after that we got another call and to my surprise it was the surgeon, Dr. Emani. He told me that they were finishing up and he would be transferred to the CICU in about 15 minutes. We headed upstairs to the CICU waiting room and 1/2 hour later we were brought back to his room.

It was pretty shocking to see him hooked up to so many tubes and machines. He had a breathing tube, two ivs in his right hand, an iv in his neck, a thoracotomy tube coming out his chest and a urinary catheter. This in addition to the wires monitoring his heart rate and O2 levels. We held his hand and talked to him, but it took him a long time to come out of the anesthesia. He'd wake up a little, nod or shake his head to questions we'd ask and then he'd fall back to sleep. It wasn't until about 4 in the afternoon that he woke up enough for them to remove his breathing tube. When they did, he was so good... he didn't cry at all and the nurses were very surprised. When the tube was removed, he immediately turned over to lay on his stomach. I got into bed with him and he put his head on my lap and slept for a while. Dr. Emani stopped by and said that Kiefer was doing great. He told us that Kiefer would likely be able to drink or eat something like a Popsicle within a few hours.

I wasn't feeling so great by then. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions all afternoon and generally didn't feel good. Certainly the stress and lack of sleep had caught up to me. I stayed with Kiefer at the hospital that night and Roel stayed at the Yawkey. Kiefer slept from about 10 pm -12 am and had a Popsicle when he woke up. He slept again from 1-2 am, but woke up quite unhappy and threw up the Popsicle at 2:30 am... a side effect of the anesthesia. That was all the sleep he or I got that night. He cuddled with me the rest of the morning until they removed the thoracotomy tube and arterial line. Because I was laying right next to him when they were removing the arterial line, I got sprayed with blood! It was nice for him to be a little less wired.

Roel arrived at the hospital at 7:30 am and I went to the Yawkey to get some sleep. When I returned at 1:00 pm, I found that he had moved out of the CICU at 11:30 am and onto 8 West to a cardiac in-patient room. He was playing with the trains in the play room and riding around in a big wheel chair cart. That afternoon, our friends Carisa and Ed (who live nearby and with whom we stayed Thursday last week) came by to say hello. They brought Kiefer some Duplo blocks and he showed them the playroom and train table. He got a little sleepy and took a nap for about an hour. Dr. Emani stopped by again and told us what one of the nurses had told us earlier that day: Kiefer would likely be discharged the following day because he was doing so great.

Kiefer got a roommate that evening--a 3 week old baby from Ecuador. The baby cried a lot and it made it difficult for both Kiefer and Roel to get some sleep that night. Kiefer slept more than Roel, but when I got to the hospital the next morning at 7:30 am, they both looked pretty tired. Roel headed back to the Yawkey for some sleep and I stayed with Kiefer. We played in the playroom for a while, but they needed to draw blood remove some of the bandages/tape and get a chest x-ray before they could make the final call about the discharge. I couldn't believe that he didn't care at all about the chest x-ray this time. I told him he was going to get his picture taken and he said, "Cheese!" when both of them were taken. He insisted that I get my pictures taken, too, so the tech had to pretend to take x-rays of me. This pleased Kiefer.

They pretty quickly let us know that things looked fine and Kiefer could indeed go home that day. The last thing to be done was to remove his remaining arm iv and neck iv. This was not pleasant. It took two nurses and me and Roel to hold him down to take out the neck iv. He screamed bloody murder. Poor little guy. When both were removed, we got him dressed, packed our stuff and headed home! It seemed strange to be leaving just two days after his surgery, but we were happy to head home.

Kiefer will see his pediatric cardiologist and pediatrician in the coming weeks and he will be on both Tylenol and Motrin for pain relief and some blood pressure medication for a little while until he heals more from the surgery. He'll be at home for the next week because daycare might be just a little too exciting for him, but after that, he should be back to his normal schedule. His scar is about 3-4 inches and we can't get it wet for at least 10 days. This is going to make bathing a challenge, but we'll figure it out.

Thanks again for all the well wishes. They certainly worked! And a big thanks to all the doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital Boston who took such good care of our little man.

April, Roel & Kiefer

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kiefer's pre-op adventure

It has been a long couple of days, but Kiefer is a trooper. We got up at 4:15 am on Thursday morning so we could leave for Boston no later than 5:00 am. We told Kiefer we were going to see the doctor and he said, "No! It's closed." What a smart little guy. We arrived at 7:15 am for our 7:30am  appointment and we ended up spending a lot of the day waiting... to get a chest x-ray, to talk to the anesthesiologist, to get a tour of the CICU and the regular cardiac in-patient rooms, to talk to the surgeon, to get blood drawn, to get the echo-cardiogram. Kiefer charmed almost everyone he met. He didn't seem to mind the waiting because he had hallways to run up and down, toys to play with, books to read, a playground to play on and lots of other distractions. It's a good thing because we weren't finished until just after 3:00 pm.

We then drove to a friend's house in nearby Somerville, where we spent the night before heading back for 7:00 am Friday morning. Kiefer wasn't used to sleeping somewhere new and we had a very difficult time getting him to fall asleep. He woke up at 5:00 am and said, "I want to play!" Because Kiefer didn't want to cooperate Thursday with the ultrasound (he refused to lay down for it and cried when we asked him to), he had to be sedated for it. This meant he could have no food or drink that morning and we heard more than a few times, "I'm hungry!"  Based on what they saw in the ultrasound, they would then decide if he needed an MRI, too. Luckily, they decided the MRI wasn't necessary.

When it was time for the ultrasound, Kiefer was given a little something to relax him. The nurse handed me a syringe with a little liquid in it and sugar on the tip because the liquid apparently doesn't taste great. I let him take a taste of the sugar and then when he went for a second taste I squirted the stuff in his mouth. He spit a little out and said, "That doesn't taste good!" and "It's yucky." He got a little drowsy and then the anesthesiologist was able to put a put a mask on his face to knock him out enough to do the IV to give him the other meds. They actually scented the gas like marshmallows. Pretty clever. It was hard to watch him go limp and I cried when we left him. We were called about an hour later to let us know that everything looked fine and we could come back for when he woke up.

It took him a long time to wake up! When he did, they said he could have a Popsicle or juice since he had to fast before the procedure. His eyes were barely open and he was mumbling, but when he was asked, "Do you want a Popsicle?" he said very clearly, "Yes!" and opened his eyes wider. Then the nurse asked if he wanted, red, orange or purple and he said loudly, "I want red!" He ate the Popsicle right up. He tried to hold it himself, but I had to hold it for him because they put the iv in his right arm and he had tubes, an O2 monitor and a padded block to prevent him from bending his wrist and screwing up his iv. He asked for an orange and then a purple Popsicle, so he tried every color. He was woozy for a little while, and couldn't walk unassisted, but after about 2 hours he seemed to be back to his normal self.

We're so happy to be home for a couple of days, although we've had a lot of laundry, etc. to catch up on. We're driving to Boston tomorrow afternoon and will be staying at the Yawkey Family Inn, which is family housing for hospital patients and only costs $30 a night. It's a 10 minute walk to Children's from the Yawkey. We decided it would be no fun to have to get up ridiculously early on Monday morning and drive 2 hours to Boston with a kid that is fasting and will definitely say he's hungry and wants to eat. We have to be at the hospital at 6:30 am and they will probably do the surgery about an hour or hour and half later. I'm still kind of scared because they will be cutting my baby and messing around with his heart, but the surgeon, Dr. Emani is fantastic and we know that he will take good care of Kiefer. 

We learned about Dr. Emani and what to expect and where to stay from, Erika, a woman in Western Mass whose daughter had the same surgery as Kiefer. It is a strange coincidence how we got in touch. One of my friends has a blog about children's products and I check it weekly to see what she's reviewing and enter some cool giveaways. One of the items she recently reviewed are tutu shirts for little girls. Since we know we're having a girl, I've been checking out girl clothes... it's a whole new world for me. These tutus are very sweet and $10 from every tutu is donated to Children's Hospital Boston. I checked out her site, Tutu Pour Mon Deux, and that's when I learned that Erika's daughter, Maeley, had had an aortic coarctation just like Kiefer and was operated on by the same surgeon. I sent an e-mail and quickly got a response from Erika, and she has helped us feel more at ease before heading to Children's. Children's has been great to us and it is amazing how they take care of children from all over the world. If you have a little girl in your life, consider ordering a tutu shirt. It will make the little girl happy and help other children at the same time!

Roel and I would like to say thanks so much to you, our family and friends, for the well wishes and prayers. We feel very lucky for the support and love... it has helped us be strong for Kiefer. We're feeling confident that things will go well on Monday. We shall keep you all posted.

April, Roel & Kiefer

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"I'm a big boy!"

These days, Kiefer often says, "I'm not a baby. I'm a big boy!" He is very proud to wear his big boy underwear and not diapers because those are for babies. (Note: He still wears a diaper at night. We're not quite there yet.) He can also get dressed on his own. He proudly exclaims, "I get dressed all by myself!" Sometimes the shirt will be on backwards or the socks a bit twisted, but he's getting it. There are a lot of things we'll try to do for him and he'll say, "I do it! I do it!" Roel and I are happy Kiefer's able to do things on his own. It will make things a lot easier when his baby sister arrives.

Kiefer is also a brave little boy. There was a time when he would scream at the doctor's office, but now he doesn't cry... even when he gets a shot. If he gets a scrape or a bump, a kiss will usually make it all better. Unfortunately, there are some things that kisses can't make better. Our pediatrician detected a heart murmur and just to be on the safe side, she sent us to a pediatric cardiologist to get it checked out. She thought it was likely nothing... some kids have heart murmurs that go away as they get older. I had one when I was a baby.

So off we went to the pediatric cardiologist's in mid-January. They weighed him, checked his height and took his blood pressure. The nurse took his blood pressure on one arm the the other. She said, "Well, that can't be right. It's absurdly high. I'm not even going to write that down." Then she called in the other nurse to take it. She found that his blood pressure was high. The doctor listened to his heart for a while and then said that they would do an echo-cardiogram and an ultrasound of his heart. I said, "OK. When will that be?" To my surprise, he responded, "Now." I was sure we'd have to come back. First they did the echo-cardiogram. The technician was great. She explained to Kiefer what she would be doing and asked him if he wasted to see the stickers they would be putting all over his chest. He was fascinated by it and didn't so much as whimper when she hooked up the wires to the stickers. Then it was time for the ultrasound. It took a good 1/2 hour, but Kiefer was a trooper. He did ask a few times, "Almost done?" but other than that, he was a patient little boy. The technician couldn't believe how good he was and she gave him lots of stickers as a reward.

The doctor came in shortly after the tests were done. He had sketched out a very detailed drawing of a heart and started explaining to me how a heart works. He kept going and going and I joked, "I hope there's not going to be a test on this." But I knew that he wouldn't be going into detail if there weren't something wrong. I told the doctor I was scared of what he was about to tell me. I started to cry, but I had to keep it together somewhat because Kiefer was in the room running around and playing. The doctor told me that Kiefer has an aortic coarctation, which means that his aorta is too narrow. That is what is causing the high blood pressure. He said that it would require surgery, but that it was a relatively common surgery with excellent results. He referred us to Children's Hosptial in Boston. They will make an incision on his left back and go in between his ribs to make the repair. 

His surgery has been scheduled for March 15 and they tell us he will be in the hospital for 4 days. On the 11th, he will have pre-op tests, which I understand will be a repeat echo-cardiogram and ultrasound as well as an MRI. He will, of course, have to be sedated for the MRI because there is no way he could sit still long enough for that test. It is hard enough for adults! Based on how the tests go, they may need us to return for more tests on the 12th. We're hoping that's not the case so we can just make it a day trip on the 11th and come home for a few days before we go back for the surgery. One of us can sleep in the room with him and we have booked a room at the hotel next to the hospital. We figure we will trade off nights and it will be nice to have a place nearby to decompress when we need to.

It is very good that this was diagnosed and that it is repairable. We're very thankful for that, but we're looking forward to getting this corrected and put behind us. They say kids his age bounce back very quickly and he'll be up and running in no time. This means he'll be back to using the living room furniture for gymnastics, riding his tricycle around the neighborhood and playing soccer in the back yard. He can also return to being a smarty pants by saying, "Papa says yes!" whenever I tell him not to do something.

Spring seems to be right around the corner. The maple sugaring season has started so we went to the nearby Williams Sugar House in Deerfield yesterday for pancakes. Kiefer is a funny little boy. He didn't want anything to do with the pancakes, but he did eat sausage! On our way out, we got him a little cone of maple sugar, which he loved! Who wouldn't?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's a...

GIRL! Kiefer was very happy to deliver the news to family and friends.

We're thrilled! I have to say that I was quite certain I was having a boy, so it is taking me a little time to adjust to thinking of this baby as a girl! When I was pregnant with Kiefer, I couldn't tell what was what on the ultrasounds, but now that I've seen more, I knew what to look for. The tech looked "down there" several times and I thought... "Hmm. That doesn't look like a boy!" but she waited to tell us toward the end of the ultrasound. I immediately started to cry and asked her if she was sure and she said she was. Roel said, "I guess we get to go shopping!" Roel is happy not only to have a little girl, but also not to have to a big debate about a boys name... we couldn't agree!

I have had some awful morning sickness with this pregnancy. I know they say it is a good sign, but it isn't fun. With Kiefer, I was sick from weeks 7-14 and I was only ever nauseous... I never threw up. At week 14, it lifted and I felt instantly better. This time, the morning sickness started at 5 weeks and now, at almost 20 weeks, it isn't entirely gone. And although I am not puking as much as I had been, I still get sick from time to time. In fact, I threw up the morning of the ultrasound.
We had a quiet Christmas at home and a few weeks later we got a great present: Aunt Janice came to visit for a week from Arizona. Kiefer was so excited when Aunt Janice arrived. He ran from the window to the door yelling, "Aunt Janice is here! Aunt Janice is here!" We went to the Children's Museum in Holyoke, Yankee Candle (of course), the Eric Carle Museum and we even did a little sledding. Kiefer went down the hill once on the sled and loved it, but then decided he was a little too scared to do it again!

We got out a our puzzle map and Aunt Janice showed Kiefer where she lived. He can now pick out, Arizona, Massachusetts and Florida on the map. Kiefer knows that we have to get in the plane to see Aunt Janice and Uncle Geoff. The other day, on our way home from work/daycare, Kiefer said, "I go in that plane and see Aunt Janice." I replied, "That's a long trip!" He said, "I watch Little Bear." I think he must remember watching Little Bear on DVD on our way over to the Netherlands in September! Wow!

My favorite Kiefer quotes from this past month:

January 5: I asked Kiefer, "What did you do at Holly's today?" His response: "I no sleep!"

January 9: "I big and strong like a monkey!" as he runs around the house flexing his muscles.

And Aunt Janice's favorite: "What's that?" He asks at least 100 times per car ride.