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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Habitat for Humanity...........

Well needless to say this has to be the worst and hardest year of my life, of Chad's life, of Viola's life and most certainly Thurston's life, although thank goodness he wont remember any of it! If anyone would have ever said to me that my brand new baby would be in the hosptial close to an entire year I probably would have told them that that was a mathematical impossiblity. Even when Thurston was first born, and went through all of those dips and turns in the first few months I just still kept thinking about his first birthday and how we would have all of this hospital and medical complications behind us. I even told my uncle that next year at this time(March 8th) we would meet up and how we would all have gotten through our ordeals and that we would celebrate. WOW is that not furthest from the truth. When you are in the thick of all of madness, thinking about the future is sometimes the only thing that gets you through the hardest moments, knowing that in a years time, that you will have gone through it all and survived. Well thank goodness we all survived, but we are in no way shape or form over any of the hard parts, not even close. Thurston will be having his trach surgery on Monday. He will most definitely be in the hospital for at least a month after and most likely through his first birthday. We are relieved with this painstaking decision, but we are also scared out of our minds, from the dangers of the surgery and anesthesea, to the many complications that the trach can bring, and the uncertainty if even that will be enough to bring him home.

And still, there have been some really beautiful moments this year, that unfortunately still does not overshadow the tragic aspects of what has happened to my son and my family, but I would be remiss if I underestimated the enormity of what has carried us through this last year. I cannot even begin to describe the generosity that has been bestowed upon me and my family, the selfless acts of love, the warmth that swooped in and wrapped its arms around our home. Just today we got yet another christmas present at our doorstep (anonymous), and so so many acts of its kind, that continue to lay the foundation on which we are resting upon at this very moment. Each and every act building upon each other like bricks, prayers and love the mortor, providing us with an emotional shelter and keeping us safe from the tedious and harsh environment that has enveloped our lives.

I meant to write an extremely long thank you letter on Thanksgiving, to every single person that I could possibly remember that has helped us, from the smallest gestures, to the hugest of gifts, but of course everyone knows that that night the only thing I typed was 911 into my phone. So I feel that before Thurstons surgery, while I have some time, I would write out in detail everything that I possibly can(and I apologize if I have forgotten anyone), to thank those that have helped us, and maybe for everyone to see just how many beautful wonderful people have participated in building our little habitat for humanity.
(please come back often as I will be constantly adding to this list, and really I did not forget any of you, it just might hit me later on but I will add everyone I swear, you all have meant the world to me)

To Thurston for fighting tooth and nail even when I told you it was ok to let go. Thank you for wanting to live, to be here. I am not sure if I ever mentioned this but your name, had you passed away, was going to be Sterling. Although yes a very vintage old name, it also means 'litte star". I thought if you had passed away, that every night I could look up into the nights sky and find the smallest star, and tell you how much I loved you and that you would always be a shining part of my life. We are forever grateful that you ended up being Thurston instead. Thank you for enduring so much pain and discomfort, even now with so much air shooting up your nose, and tape on your face, and a pulse ox and stickies all over your body, and with so many drugs filtering through your system, and so many pokes and prods, and continued surgeries, I cant even begin to imagine what this has been like for you. You must really want to be here.

To my Husband who thought that he would never be able to handle it if anything bad happened to the pregnancy or the baby....I have to say, you have handled it with the utmost grace, calmness, compassion, and patience I have ever witnessed in another human being. Without you, I truly would be lost forever and I love you with all of my heart.

To my darling Daughter, who has had to endure an entire year witnessing her mother crying, who has been ignored more times than I care to think about, and yet who has more patience and whines less than most adults I know. Thank you for being such a wonderful big sister and giving up so much for your little brother, I adore you and you are my hero.

I am really tired now, and I will finish this in the next few days but I wanted to update you and again thank every single person whose kindness you will never know has made an unbelievable impact on our lives, and without, we quite literally may not still be standing. Thank you thank you thank you..

Thank you to all of the nurses(especially his primaries Mommy Ami, Gladys, Lourdes, Mary Lou, and also Terri, Linda, Heidi, Corina, Analise, and every nurse at North Austin I think you all had him at one point or another and to his Dell primaries Michelle and Peter and all the other wonderful nurses at Dell, All of the doctors and at North Austin and Dell, to Yvette the director at North Austin all respiratory therapists(oh gosh I am so sorry there are just too many names to remeber but you know who you are), social workers, pharmasists, Nurse Practicioners, assistants, volunteers, child life specialists, Chaplins, Custodians and every person who had every part in saving my sons life time and time again, who cared for him, held him, read to him, played with him, played music for him, you all have been such a huge part of his life and I couldnt be more grateful for everything you have done.

Thank you to my mother who has flown out to help us numerous times, giving up so much of her own life and needs. Thank you for endless hours on the phone. Thank you for listening to me scream, whine,moan, bitch,cry, pout, cry, and thank you for never thinking that I was crazy, just extremely lost on this unbelievable journey. Thank you for loving your grandbabies like they were your own. Your support means more to me than you will ever know and you epitomize what a mother truly means.

Thank you to my brothers and sisters. Julie thank you so much for making arrangements each and every time mom came out even at the last minute and thank you for all of your texts of support I love you big sis. Shannon thank you so much for all of your texts and emails and for all of our long chats and thank you for loving your boy so much, I love you little sis. Lonnie thank you so much for all of your support and always responding to all of fb posts, you have been such an incredible big bro even though you have had a pretty rough year as well and just know I love you to pieces. Thank you to my sweet little brother Patrick who also has had such a rough year, mom always tells me how much you love your little nephew and I just love you so much. I miss all of you and wish we could be closer. I know this journey would have been a million times easier had we lived in Ohio and I cant wait to see all of you again.

Thank you to my Pops and his wife Barb. Thanks for calling and checking up and for understanding if I dont get back to you for a few days(or weeks). Thank you for your donation and I just love you guys so much and wish we could be closer. You are the best POPs in the world and I know alot of my strength comes from what you taught me way long time ago as a kid, all that persistence has paid off!!!!
Thank you to Pat and Fred my in-laws who drove out and endured their own tragedies this year, who have helped us financially in so many ways, who are the most dedicated grandparents, and who take over the household, cooking, cleaning, organizing, revamping our yard and garage, fixing everything in their path(especially Fred). We are more appreciative then you will ever know and adore both of you. You are two of the most amazing generous people I have ever met and am so grateful that you raised such an incredible son. Thank you so much for that!!!!

Thank you to Chads Brother Brad and his partner Juan who flew out and watched their niece and who surprised us all by creating the most unbeliveable playroom for Viola. You guys did so much while you were here I thought maybe Fred had flown back out lol. Thanks for being the best Uncles ever and the best brother in laws a girl could ask for.

Thank you to my beautiful friend Karen who flew out and sacraficed so much to do so. Thank you for giving me my hippy cow pow back right when I needed it the most. Thank you for dropping everything in your life to be in mine. I love you so much Karen, you are my little shnarkle pow sparkle friend!

Thank you to my dearest friend Susan who has threatened to fly out on numerous occasions but it just was always bad timing. Thank you for constantly taking my mind off of all of this and regaling me with your own crazy life. You always always know how to make me feel better no matter how horrible I feel. Thank you for letting me cry on your shoulder and calling me. Thank you for always remembering to send me and the kids gifts, and especially sending past momentos that you come across, those are always a lark. I love you so much and thank you for being my best friend for more than 21 years. You are the best!

Thank you to my Uncle Mike and his family. I so looked to you for strength knowing you and your family were going through their own hell, and I so enjoyed our back and forth bantering, and cussing missives, and truly understanding what it is like to go through something horrific and terrifying. I love you muchos!!!!

Thank you to my dear dear friend Johanna. I adore you. You have been with me every step of the way and you have helped me so much with watching Viola, to gift giving, to just being there and listening to me when I needed it the most. You are definitely a keeper and I cant wait until things settle down so we can get back into doing things together more.

Thank you to my dear friend Allison, Jesse, Nicole and Josh(sorry you guys are a foursome, I just cant separate you! :) Allison thank you for calling me weekly especially in those first few fragile months. You have no idea how much those phone calls meant to me and how much I needed someone to reach out to me especially since I was on major withdraw mode. Thank you all of you especailly Jesse for helping move that monstrosity of a playscape into our backyard. You have no idea what an enormous gesture that was especially since all of you had so much going on of your own. Only dedicated friends would help out with such an insane project. Thank you Josh for your Raki's and healings and Nicole my little brown recluse, I have felt your love from miles away. I have always felt your presence and power and I know that Thurston benefitted immensley from your energy. You are an amazing group of people and it is a priveledge to have you in my life.

Thank you Janet Yudichak for sending me the most amazing vintage tea set. That came very early on in our journey and I just couldnt believe the beauty that someone I had only met once(however connected with instantly with our love for antiques and all things vintage) would go out of their way to send me something so beautiful and lovely and antique. That set will always remind me of the beauty that abounds in the human heart. I cant wait to be able to give you the biggest hug ever!

Thank you to tom Yudichak, chads childhood friend, his beautiful wife Julie and their pretty darn incredible son Justin. You guys have given us consistent support throughout this whole ordeal with gifts of homemade yummy bread, cards, a wonderful frame, and just some really great nights where both Chad and I could just feel that life was a little normal even if just for a couple of hours. We love you so much and just appreciate having you in our lives, especially since I love playing board games and you are one of the only families that do toooooooooooo!!!!

Thank you to Tom's brother Bill for sending us gas cards, you have no idea how much that helped us. That has been one of our biggest expenses actually being so far away from the hospital and going up two sometimes three times a day takes its toll(sorry environment, I had to see my son :)

Thank you all of the Ronald Mcdonald House volunteers, especially you Peggy who have constantly inquired about Thurston. You all are amazing and I cant believe you find time in your day to volunteer. You have no idea what a haven you have built for us families in need and we really appreciate all you do.

Thank you to my dear dear friend Janut and Jim. What an amazing amazing gift you have given us by not only coming out once for three weeks in the deadest heat of summer, but coming out again for another three weeks to help us out. The companionship both Chad and I receive from you two is immesurable and it is incredible to hang out with two amazing people we have so much in common with. Thank you for buying all of our groceries and cooking us the most fabulous meals and watching Viola all day while I visit with Thurston. You two wont be able to get rid of us now!!!!!!!

Thank you to my amazing and dear O'mammas, each and every one of you have been there for me either by encouraging emails, offers of babysitting, setting me up with amazing meals, phone calls, gifts, visiting me in the hospital, and of course for all the amazing donations to our auction and for spreading the viral word all over facebook. You guys continue to hold me up and I want to thank all of you for everything you have done for me.

An extremely and unbelievable thank you to Melanie for organizing the most amazing auction. I just dont know how you did it all and cant believe the amount of time, donations that you put into it and you have no idea how much we appreciate it, even though you are so busy. We love you immensely and cant wait until we can just actually hang out without that at the forefront of our conversations. You are an amazing lady!!!

Thank you for all of the people that donated and bid and solicited for our auction. I am in the process of trying to make birth announcement/thank you cards and I hope to send them out sometime in the new year. I cant believe how many people donated time and money and how unbelievable and successful the auction was and how much it will help us out. We just were blown away by all of the response. Thank you so very much!!!!

Thank you to Donna R , Devon, Pey Pey and Emby and Steve for helping me out with Viola and for being so amazing and supportive through this whole thing. We miss you guys so much and would love to see all of you soon.

Thank you to my dearest dearest Inspire friends. I truly dont know what I would have done without you. You ladies are amazing and especially to my sweetest and dearest friends Jennifer and Anais, two parts of my three amigos, you continue to give me strength daily and my heart aches everyday for Benjamin and Natalie. I love you guys so much. Also to Rhonda, Courtanay, Florinsmom, and Mygirls mom. You guys have been amazing with all of your advice and support let alone for your unbelievable gesture and I am forever grateful to you.

Thank you to my built in NICU family, Jen, Michelle, Beverly, Candace, Questa and the many more families that I met. You guys amaze me everyday with your strength and it has been great to relate to people who have gone through it all. Thank you Jen and your neighbor who donated all of those canned goods and their preschoolers who donated, I cant even believe what a generous and thoughful gift and we just cant believe how total strangers would be so inclined to give so much to us. Thank you Michelle for giving Viola something to look forward to once a week besides hospital visits and for helping out with her costume. Your dance class has been amazing for us. Thank you Bev for your future picture date and I will get with you soon and thank you Candace for all of your words of encouragement. Thank you Questa for the picture of your little tater it is hanging in Thurstons crib. I look forward to the day when we get all of our babies together unfettered by cords and wires and oxygen tanks(course that might take a couple of years for us) but it will be fun to watch all of our preemies grow up together.

I still have a long way to go and this list is in no way in order or complete and I will continue to update it but I must clean the house now. Love everyone and keep coming back for the updates
Thank you I think I will put the date next to the last update so you all know when I have updated the list.
December 31st 2010

Update #3 January 3rd 2011

Thank you so much Hand to Hold and its founder Kelli Kelley. Thank you for all of your calls and listening to me kevetch!!! Thank you for forming such an incredible organization and wanting to help others through this very hard journey. And of course, thank you for creating the preemie power photo contest, that was truly one of the only times that Thurstons life was all about him and how cute and wonderful and strong he is and not about the hospital life. That really got me through a good month and a half and it was so much fun for all of my family and friends involved. What a great and fun way to raise preemie awareness. You are the cats pajamas

Thank you to my very dear friend Greg and his wife Leilani. They have also had a pretty rough year and yet still have found so much time to help with our auction and to send emails and phone calls of encouragement. We miss you guys and hope one day when Thurston is better, that we can fly out and take a very long vacation, ALOHA!!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

In Dreams.......

I remember this time last year. We were decking the halls, laughing, smiling, singing, and most of all dreaming. Dreaming about having a new baby in our lives, dreaming about Viola's first reaction, how they would get along, dreaming about new adventures, playdates, library story times etc. When you are pregnant, you cant help but envision you and your babies future. I dreamt of this time of year and how old the new baby would be and how exciting our lives would become. But those dreams faded and had to be replaced with new ones. I was talking to a friend the other day of how many times this year I have had to reinvent those dreams, reinvent myself, reinvent Violas life. I can honestly say it is probably more than all the reinventing I have done in my entire life.
When I was in my 20s, it was definitely not a burden to do that, it was fun and freeing and wild and promising. Early on, I wanted to be a private detective after having read one too many Nancy Drew novels. Having always loved the early 19th century, I envisioned myself living in New York city, with my Nancy Drew outfit, walking into a classic movie theatre playing a Buster Keaton revival series and meeting my one true love.... yes I was a strange 11 year old kid I was. Then in my early 20s I wanted to be an Egyptologist/archeologist. I have always loved the past and I thought I would combine my love for private investigation with the past and try to solve mysteries of long ago. Then I fell in love with literature and decided to make my ardent passion of the 1920s and 30s into reality, and studied silent film and thought I would make my way into becoming a silent film preservationist. Then many many things happened along the way.
The funny thing is though that once I got married and became a mom, I stopped that I mean, I didnt feel the need to reinvent myself anymore. I was in pure and unadulterated other words, I was finally living the dream life. I didnt want anything else after that. So when I became pregnant, I just kept thinking that my beautiful wonderful dream life would continue but with another beautiful child and I would continue all of the mommy things that I so loved doing with Viola, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, singing etc. I envisioned Viola and the new baby doing all of the things I had done with her, library, gymnastics, playdates, bathtime.....I just thought life would continue on the beautiful spectrum that we were on.

Then when things started to go downhill with the pregnancy, every other week I had to keep reinventing my life and my daughters life. Then when we thought Thurston was out of the woods in May, when I began blogging, I set up the nursery upstairs thinking that I could still have that same dream, but things just kept getting more and more complicated. So I accepted that and reinvented the dream once again, changing our lives around thinking well we wont be able to go too many places but I envisioned lots of arts and crafts and there was still bath time etc. since we would all have to stay indoors and hole ourselves up for the winter.
But that dream didnt last long either. Then realizing that Thurston just might need to either stay in the hospital indefinitely or get a trach I realized that my daughter had spent the better part of the last year living life outside of the dreams I had for her. I then had to reinvent her life again. I finally gave in and realized the only way she is going to have any stability is to go to preschool full time, no matter what happens to Thurston. This pains me so much because I so badly wanted to be with her as much as possible these early years, they grow up so fast and I just so desperately wanted her to stay home with me and with her brother. So the dream I first had when we moved here to be a full time mother and stay at home with my children died. But I couldnt just let her life squander away because of our situation, I had to give her an opportunity to make her own dreams too.
As far as my son goes, I have to do what is best for him. Chad and I have talked this over until we are blue in the face. We realize that he is wasting away in the hospital and that there is no way we can even start our lives until he gets home. And the only way to do that is to give him the operation that scares me to no end, that will make our lives extremely complicated, that could cause issues later on, but I think right now we just have no choice. It pains me to be away from him, it pains me for many other reasons I cant go into here, it pains me to know that we have not been a "family" for almost 10 months now, torn apart, never really together. I must reinvent my dreams once again. As this experience has been nothing short of a nightmare, I will try my hardest to rise from the proverbial ashes like the phoenix and hope that one day I can live the dream life once again.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I wish I had a river I could skate away on......40 weeks and counting...

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Honestly OK.............Life SUCKS!!!!!!!

i just want to feel safe in my own skin
i just want to be happy again
i just want to feel deep in my own world
but im so onlely i dont even want to be with myself anymore
on a different day
if i was safe in my own skin
then i wouldn't feel lost and so frightened
but this is today and im lost in my own skin
and im so lonely i dont even want to be with myself anymore
i just want to feel safe in my own skin
i just want to be happy again

yup that about sums it up.......

Too much has happened and I just dont feel inspired to write really. In short Thurston made great progress until two days ago. He was actually slated to go home today but somehow his o2 needs went back up. They have talked about traching him again or else he will be in the hospital indefinitely as it is just too risky for him to be home without one. I know for some of you this seems like an easy decision but the trach is not without its complications and/or risks. He actually could do worse with one or to be quite honest, he could die from complications because he is so fragile. We are exhausted, emotionally, physically, financially. I am at a loss. He is 9 months old today and trying to balance his needs against Viola's needs is daunting especially since now he is 6 months old adjusted. He is significantly far behind in every and all skills. All he does is sit in a hospital bed, I guess what can you expect . I am sick with grief, with guilt , with angst, with apprehension, with depression, with anxiety and the only thing holding me together is my husband and my daughter who I cant comprehend are doing so much better than I am. Chad gave me a very long pep talk last night. He saves me everyday but I am still just at a loss. I hate being in this postion, where we have to weigh the lesser of two evils: an operation that could cost him his life but MAYBE get him home sooner(um yea I know of several kids who got trachs who actually had to be in the hosptial a lot longer because of complications from the trach so its not an absolute guarntee to get him home) or let him rot in a hospital bed for the next 6 months and wait for his lungs to get to a point where he can be more stable at home. I am full of hatred right now, I am feeling defeated, I am feeling anger and sadness and just wish that asshole was watching where he was going before he hit me when I was pregnant and destroyed any sense of happiness and normalcy that we had. I hate him for what he did. I hate that my daughter and son are living at a hospital. Please dont give me a pep talk right now. No one knows what this is like unless you have been there and for this long and have this many unknowns. It is pure and utter torture and you really truly feel like your lives will never be normal, like life is passing you and your children by. I wish we could just go and enjoy the holidays and get a tree and decorate and be jolly but you just cant have any kind of normal under these circumstances. Life really sucks right now and screw the glass half full bull one can ever understand what an absolute nightmare this has been. Trust me I wish we could have been those lucky preemies who got to get off of oxygen early on and go home but we are very unlucky and Thurston the most unlucky of them all. My poor son just has no idea what it is like to be free and I am beginning to wonder if he ever will. If you really want me to be honest then OK...... life sucks!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010


So I guess our dream of home didn't last very long. Right now Thurston is at Dell PICU and is stable but still on very high oxygen of 15 liters comfort flow which is pretty much equivalent to Sipap/CPap but he can still be on a nasal cannula. He is on 20 ppm of nitric oxide which worked immediately to help bring him from satting in the 80s to satting in the 90s. They are doing all sorts of breathing treatments and changing around his medications.

Now to how it all happened....Well on Wednesday night our Nurse(yes we had no idea we were going to get home health care which is beyond fantastic, they set us up for 2 weeks at 16 hours a day and then to get reevaluated to see if we needed it beyond the two weeks unfortunately we didn't even make it 3 days ugh). Anyway, the nurse and I were trying to feed him and I stupidly tripped over his cannula cable which in turn tipped over his water humidifier which is hooked up to the oxygen concentrator and suddenly my poor son basically got a huge gigantic noseful and lungful of water, much like a neti pot but it was alot alot of water. He gagged and choked and desatted quite a bit during this event and I frrrrrrreeeeeeeeaaaaaaaked way out. Thank goodness the nurse was there to attend to the situation and after about 5 minutes and lots of nose bulb suctioning we were able to get Thurston stable again. Well I thought about taking him to the hospital that night but he seemed to be satting great and not breathing bad and we happened to have an overnight nurse that night so I wasn't too worried. The next day was Thanksgiving and he was doing great, at 1 liter satting in the 90s and was calm and playful and smiley etc. Well the day nurse left and we did not have a night nurse(the first couple of nights we didn't have any nursing care and boy oh boy was that stressful...Thurston is on over 13 different medications delivered 4-6 times daily, 3 nebulizer treatments a day and 1 liter of oxygen on a cannula he continually tries and succeeds at taking off and so pretty much you HAVE to stay up all night no ifs ands or butts or Thurston would be in big trouble....basically what I am saying is we took the hospital home with us so the nursing care as we have found out is essential until Thurston can get down to a much lower flow of oxygen or even off of it all together...we also feed him by gtube but that is a piece of cake so if that is all he needed and maybe a few meds it would be no big deal but we just cant chance Thurston desatting, without oxygen he goes down hill extremely fast). Anyway, My mom was in town and she was rocking him and suddenly Thurston started choking gagging coughing and snorting and a ton of saliva and foam came out of his mouth. I grabbed Thurston and started to suction his mouth with the bulb syringe. He seemed fine but suddenly he started to desat. I had Chad put him on our tank oxygen that goes up to 5 liters(the oxygen compressor only goes up to 1 liter) and within 5 minutes we had him on 3 liters and he was still satting in the low 80s. I knew right then and there that he had aspirated so we called 911. This time though for some reason I didnt freak out too much and remained pretty level headed, I guess the adrenaline took over. We got to Dell and he was initially put in the intermediate care unit on 3 liters thinking that maybe he was only going to need a few days to recover. Then suddenly started desatting again and they changed him from low flow 3 liters to a comfort flow 6 liters...then 8 liters...then transferred him to the PICU and then up to 12 liters. Then Chad spent the night on Friday and he seemed to be stable, then I spent the night on Saturday and he just seemed to start going down hill. The doctor decided to put him nitric oxide as that is used for Pulmonary Hypertension. It worked pretty immediately and he was able to get back into the 90s in his saturation levels and they had the sipap machine on standby just in case. Today they put him up to 15 liters to see if that helped at all to bring his saturation level up to the high 90s but they have not seen any results yet. They really thought he would be getting better by now but his xrays look pretty bad so he could be in the hospital for quite some time, maybe even for a few more months. He could also suddenly start to improve and be home in a few weeks, no one really knows for sure.

Thank you for all of your love care and support. This process going on almost 9 months now(10 months if you count all the pre-pregnancy drama/bedrest stuff) is absolutely emotionally, physically, financially exhausting. The most exhausting part is how life threatening Thurstons Chronic lung disease is. This is about the 7th time he has had a close call. And every time your life comes to a halt. Literally you have to drop everything, bills, events, phone calls everything just grinds to a halt and then when things stabilize you are left with dust settling everywhere to try and sort through. I can deal with ongoing appointments, therapies, all of the things that I was working on in that short period of time he was home, but this constant constant crisis mode might just end up putting me into the crazy house. I just don't know how much more I can take really.

We have an appointment tomorrow with the palliative care team. Now before you freak out(believe me I freaked when I heard that) they actually deal with alot of things, not just when a person is dying. They help families who have chronic health issues and where they for see the patient and family being in the hospital for a long time(OK why then did we not see one a long time ago lol) Anyway, this will not be the last time Thurston will ride in an ambulance, nor the last time that he will be close to teetering on the cusp of life or death. My son is no longer a preemie. He has moved on and now is classified as chronically ill. I think I have been in denial for so long. I wanted him so much to just have those normal preemie issues but now I just have to face the facts that he has a very severe, life-threatening chronic illness and we need to adjust our attitudes and act accordingly. The good news though is that hopefully in a few years he will eventually grow if not out of his lung issues, but at least they will improve enough that he will have a better quality of life, because right now, he is absolutely miserable. Even on the 1 liter he is still not the happiest baby in town and being on 13 different medications also screws around with his body enough to where he absolutely feels the effects(nausea, dizziness, pain jitteryness etc). He also is still dealing with the most horrible incessant cough he has had since about july of this year which sometimes is so painful it makes him cry. There is a rare moment when he is not dealing with physical pain or discomfort. I wish there was something I could do to take it all away, but only time can do that.

I will update when I can but right now we are just taking it one day at a time. Also, I threw my phone on the ground in anger. I just got a bad phone call so I took it out on my phone. Needless to say I have lost every ones phone numbers so if you could text me(I have the same number) with your name and phone number so I can update it in my new phone that would be great. Thank you so much also to my mom who helped so much and who listened to my crazy rants, hugged me through my tears, and supported us through all of this and also to everyone who has donated so much time energy and money into the ongoing auction for Thurston especially to Melanie for all the work and dedication she has given to it. We couldn't be more appreciative to all of you for continually support us on this very long hard journey.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday or The flying monkeys return or follow the yellow brick road///.......

Yes those damn flying monkeys came swiftly and stealthily back and again have taken our sweet Thurston for another harrowing ride to go and see the wicked witch of the west.

Well we were only home for 4 days and Thurston we think aspirated on his own saliva and within minutes he went up to 3 liters. We called 911 and he was admitted and slowly but surely he had to be put back on high flow and he is now on 12 liters. I am a complete mess. I feel like it just keeps happening over and over again like we are on the yellow brick road except it just keeps winding around and around and around in circles never ever ending. I feel like not writing in my blog anymore and just telling everyone to keep rereading it from the beginning because we are in continual repeat mode. When will the nightmare end, I am not even upset that he had to go back to the hospital if it was just for something minor or non-life threatening but at this rate we are just not sure of his outcome. Please someone give me a damn bucket of water so I can kill that damn wicked witch once and for all. Please keep him in your prayers and thank you for all of your support.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

There's no place like home...There's no place like home...There's no place like home....

"Toto, I have a feeling wer'e not in Kansas anymore"

So from the title you can rightly assume that indeed, infact, unbelieveably yes our sweet Thurston is finally home. It has been a very long 260 days, 8 1/2 months, 37 weeks; as long as a full term pregnancy. Its hard for me to fathom that someone who got pregnant when Thurston was first born will be having their baby in the next week or two......I will write all about our experience much further in detail but right now I am just too exhausted in a very wonderful wonderful way but I wanted to leave you with this thought.....

I got to thinking about how this experience has felt very much like the journey that Dorthy went on in OZ. It very much felt like a tornado came and ripped my whole house up into the sky, knocking me out and swirling us into the air, landing in a very strange, dark and unknown world full of mystery and fear, dread and hope, tears of sorrow and of joy. And much like Dorthy, I have met many a Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion along the way as well as confronted scary moments of flying monkeys and witches, fell asleep among the poppies and faced Grand Wizards. And the whole time all I wanted was for our sweet boy to come home. So I donned a pair of ruby slippers, put my hair up in pigtails, closed my eyes and whispered those infamous words, ....and just like that, I awoke to have my sweet sweet boy sleeping in my arms, taking his first home bath, playing with sissy, looking up and seeing all of us together in our cozy home, and enjoying watching Thurston soak up his new environment and realizing that truly, there is just no place like home.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


My sweet Mamma's group is holding an auction for Thurston starting November 28th. If you would like to donate an item or a service we would so appreciate it. If you are donating a local service(San Diego, Austin, Columbus Oh etc) all you need to do is put the city in which the service is located in the bid, for example "this item is for Austin only". Thank you so much for all of your continued help and support. If you Have any questions feel free to email me. Thank you friends!!

click here for Thurston Auction


Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy 8 months Thurston!!!! and the best news yet!!!

So this has been an interesting couple of weeks. I dont even know where to begin. Thurston has been doing AMAZING!!!!!! The doctors last Monday decided to try him on low flow cannula. Last Monday they tried him on 2 liters.....then 1 and a half......then 1......then 3/4......then 1/2.......and that is where he is at today. We are all in amazement, shock, elation, and so many other insane feelings. Then the doctors pounced on us and said, "well it looks like this little kiddo is on his way....I cant even bare to say it doesnt sound real. Ok I will say it


Wow were we shocked. Seriously I thought we were going to try a sloooooooow wean. I thought maybe a couple more months...maybe he might be home before Christmas. But Thanksgiving.....I just didnt think that was going to happen. So we have been scrambling this week. Lots of information, lots of last minute testing. Lots of last minute training. Lots of last minute organizing. Wow its just happening so fast...I say that and yet it has been 8 months. As a matter of fact Thurston is 8 months old today(5 months adjusted), Happy Birthday sweet sweet boy. Cant even believe that this journey has been that long. Cant believe my sweet little boy has beat every single odd, fought tooth and nail to be here. He amazes me.

Today I walked up to the NICU with viola and the one thing that always made me sad when I saw others carrying theirs, not sad for those that got to leave but just sad that it wasnt us....yup that wonderful beautiful car seat. Ok so he wasnt leaving in it but I got to proudly put it in his room for them to do a carseat study. It doesnt even seem real. It felt like a dream that I have had a million times before.

I can barely even write this my thoughts are just bouncing all over the place. We dont know exactly when he will come home but they think it might be as early as next week, GULP.....We have so many ducks to get in a row before that happens...medications, oxygen tanks, medical supplies, cpr class, gtube stuff, doctors appointments set up, holy holy crap. I just cant even believe this is real. When my mind is not floating some where up in the nether regions I will write more but just wanted to let everyone know, that soon soon soon my boy will get to see his very first cat, smell his very first home cooked meal, feel his very first cool breeze on his face, take his very first bath with his sister, touch his very first leaf.....he has a whole world he has never ever explored, one we take for granted every day, the little nuances that make life fascinating, interesting, beautiful, intriguing, all the tiny tiny things that make up this great big beautiful world of ours, I am so thrilled that my sweet boy will finally get to absorb it all, drink it all in, and love every second of just makes life that much more sweet for all of us.

So I will write more later and also just wanted to thank everyone who has helped us along this journey. There are too too many people to thank and I will thank all of you personally one day in some way shape or form. We could not have done this without all of you, every single one of you. Thank you thank you thank you. And thank you for all of your votes too in this contest. It shows me how much this kid is loved, how many people are a part of his life, people I have never even met, people that have been routing for him every day. All of you amaze me to no end. We are so lucky to have so many wonderful human beings in my sons life. Will update very soon..... Love all of you!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

preemie contest

I will update after I hear from Thurstons doctor but wanted to let you know Thurston is in a preemie contest to help raise awareness of premature infants. You can vote once a day through November 11th. There are some amazing babies in this contest and each story is just beautiful and inspiring.

preemie photo contest

Have fun

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Curb your enthusiasm........

I know its been a while but so much has happened and Thurston is still always on that roller coaster, we just cant seem to get a break when it comes to his stability, I just didn't feel much like writing because things just change too quickly. I have also been depressed on top of being severely sick(all three of us caught what I can only assume was the plague) and we also had a theft from our home so its just been a hard couple of weeks.

The hardest and most depressing thing for me that happened actually happened to a friend of mine(well two friends of mine). I met her through a preemie group and we have been going through this very hard roller coaster together when we first emailed each other over 6 months ago. Our babies were due around the same week in June and without going into details, her baby who was still in the NICU, just passed away. My heart is breaking as I write this. To go that long, to fight that hard, and both her and her child and her family have been through more than anyone can ever imagine, including me, and to have lost her sweet dear baby brought me to my knees in tears. She was part of a trio on that message board, referring to ourselves as the three amigos. The other mom of that group also lost her baby a couple of months ago. These ladies were and still are my rocks. They are stronger than I could ever hope to be. I love them with all of my heart and they remind me everyday how lucky I am and there is no room for whining or complaining on this journey when so many other people have to endure so much pain and loss. My heart is still breaking for both of them and I will never forget their children and hold them very close and deep in my heart forever.

On the Thurston front, I will go back about a week. He seemed to have been doing ok oxygen wise after his surgery maintaining at 6 liters at around 80 percent oxygen. But in a matter of a days, he climbed up all the way to 10 liters. We are very lucky that Dell has the ability to administer CPAP like pressure through the nasal cannula as it is so much more comfortable for Thurston and 10 liters truly is equivalent to him going back on the CPAP. They actually did put him back on the CPAP for a day but he just didn't tolerate it very well and kept taking it off as he is just too big now and can manipulate everything with his hands. They were THIS close to putting him back on the vent but the doctor did not think it would do much good anyway. Thurston is still an enigma to everyone. He still does not present like a baby who has a severe case of chronic lung disease( oh he has a pretty hefty case of it believe you me, but it just isn't as severe as his saturations shows). His respiratory rate is still very normal. He does not look like he is struggling to breath but yet his saturation dipped into the mid 70s and that is not good for long periods of time. Finally the steroid question popped back up on the table. This would be his 4th round of Dexamethasone which already has its risks but we always seem stuck, like we have to ask ourselves. "we either risk the dexamethasone, or risk him dying" Those pretty much have been our two options with Thurston at least on 3 out of the now 4 occasions we have used it on him. The good thing about the steroid is the bigger the baby is and the older, the less the risks of the steroids use. Doctors were using it on neonates when they were first born and for 2 to 3 months straight at high dosages in the 1970s and found out that it caused developmental delays etc. So the new studies from what I have read(and trust me I have researched the HELL out of Dexamethasone as well as talked to Several mothers who have also had to use multiple doses whose kids are older now who seem to not have any ill effects from it) seem to be a bit more mild(slightly lower IQ and smaller in size) and when the choice becomes whether my son lives or dies, YES those are MILD risks trust me. There are never ANY easy choices on this journey, but when it comes to life and death, the choice HAS to be that easy.

So he started back on the Dex about a week ago and I know how giddy everyone will be when I tell you he is now down to 2 liters of oxygen at 80 percent. BUT WHOA NELLY NOT SO FAST. We have just been down this path before. The only other time he has been that low was in July, after his 2nd round of dex. It did last about a month until he aspirated in August and where we almost lost him AGAIN. So I am going to CURB MY ENTHUSIASM for now and wait until he tapers off of the Dex and stabilizes. We don't know where he will end up once he is off of the Dex and how far he might rebound back up to. They are also not sure that a tracheostomy will help/hurt him(the surgery and afterward is GRUELLING and at this point could be more harmful than helpful according to one of the doctors...again it does not cure him it just gives him a different port to breath out of). The other thing is I talked to the doctor yesterday and they had done a ct scan of his chest, his first ever. I know you would think for a kid that has chronic lung disease um why had they not done this before. Well he just always was too unstable. But the pulmonologist was pretty shocked to find that his lungs, albeit definitely showing scarring and showing lung disease, was no where near as bad as they were expecting. So they are now thinking that it might have something to do with his heart which is what the very first pulmonologist said when he first came to Dell. So now they are trying to schedule some further testing, a bronchioscope, which they just don't think they will find anything from that as they don't think it is an airway issue, and a heart catheter, which I am more nervous about as this is a risky procedure, but they think they might find something that is causing his saturation levels to constantly be low even though he is not breathing hard. They are also puzzled as his blood gases always look pretty good as well which is another thing they would NOT see in a kid who had very very severe lung disease. So I guess there are some pockets of good news, riddled with pockets of puzzles and mysteries that have yet to be solved.

In the meantime, we have been so sick that we have not been able to see Thurston in over a week. I can guarantee that this nasty nasty cold that has draped our house would have most definitely killed him, and I am serious when I say that. I was up last night thinking about how scary it will be when he comes home and how even just a small tiny cold, let alone what we just got would be life threatening to him. But then I stopped in the moment Donna, live in the moment. There is no sense worrying about what isn't yet. Gotta just keep living day by day, worry about only what I need to right now, keep the sanity going. So I will both Curb my enthusiasm but also Curb my fear too and just continue to plod along, trying to be strong for my son, daughter and husband, and be forever grateful that we are still on this path, however shaky and uncertain it may be.

I know Natalie

I know Benjamin

Sunday, October 10, 2010

postcards from the edge......

Sorry to give you whiplash but here it goes.......So as I was feeling pretty good about Thurston's recovery in the last post, this has turned out to be a very very very long and stressful week. I was already pretty exhausted from staying up all night Tuesday because Thurston was not given proper pain management, but Friday when I went into to see him the doctor called me right when I was going into the hospital and told me there have been some setbacks. I did not panic.....I am finally at a point of where I am able to do a wait and see before I react when it comes to Thurston. I walked up to his room and lo and behold he was under lockdown, with full on gowns, masks complete with a huge STOP before you enter sign. I knew right away that it meant that Thurston might have an infectious disease. I still did not panic....I was actually pretty proud of myself, I really am learning I am I am. I put on all the garb and went into see Thurston and to wait for the doctor for explanations. I took one look at Thurston thinking maybe he would look like the plague but nope, he looked completely normal, looking around, his color was great, he was satting pretty high 90s so I kind of thought, "well whats all the fuss about". Apparently Thurston had a huge coughing fit that morning and it was so bad that they thought it could only be one of two things; RSV or Whooping Cough(pertussis). The doctor looked at me with somewhat grim eyes and I almost wanted to laugh but held back. I said, "um I really really am not worried, Thurston looks really good, in fact better than ever. The doctor looked pretty relieved but said that they had to take every precaution, do some more testing and that Thurston would be on lock down until the results came in. They put him on an antibiotic that treats whooping cough and started swabbing away.

Ok so far so good right? WRONG.....well Saturday I went in and Thurston was having a horrible horrible horrible day. He absolutely could not be consoled at all and AGAIN I had to keep telling the nurse and pretty much anybody that walked by that I was concerned, what can they give him for the pain etc. I dont want to get into to much detail but I was again ignored, pooh pahed, and I started to get very very very upset. I felt completely helpless especially after the doctor finally came in and told me she would give some gas drops to help with the gas...WHAT...he is in pain. Finally Chad and Viola came(this was 8 hours later) and I lost my shit. Chad held Thurston and I took Viola into the waiting room, called my mom and just literally lost it. I think everyone heard me. The nurse came out of the NICU to check on me and I told her I just couldnt take it anymore. My son was in pain all day and no one was listening to me. Finally we all went back into Thurstons room and the doctor finally came back and was able to witness what we were talking about. Thurston was crying at the top of his lungs writhing in pain. She finally prescribed some morphine and did some xrays to make sure that everything looked ok.

Thurston was awake the entire day. He couldnt sleep, thats how much pain he was in, I was livid. Then right after the morphine sets in he conks out in my arms and then Respiratory Therapy comes in to give him his treatment. They put this mask over him to do it and I asked them if they could just do the nebulizer(maskless) and they said it isnt as effective. And here is where I feel like a horrible mother because I let them put the mask on my sleeping baby hoping that maybe he was so tired that he would just sleep through the whole thing, but he then wakes up in a panic and writhes in pain and I could only guess that he thought they were suffocating him, at least I think that is what it must have felt like. I was so distraught. I just couldnt believe they were doing this, why cant they just leave my poor baby alone. I was going to stay all night but I havent really slept much this week. The nurse on last night was amazing and I did feel that after he fell asleep again that he was in good hands and she promised me that she would call me if he ever got even an inch next to inconsolable.

Anyway, I went in today and he looked so peaceful and well rested. He was in no where near the amount of pain he was in and I finally talked to the director in charge and he said that all of these things will be fixed. There is more details involved and I am just way too tired to go into it but needless to say it is the opposite of carpe diem. I would rather not seize the last few days. Nothing is worse than seeing your baby in pain and not being able to do anything about it, feeling like no one will listen to you, feeling completely and utterly helpless. Im ok with him in the NICU when I dont have to worry about his well being and if he is feeling ok, I am not ok if that is not the case. This is a very draining expereience and trying to remain positive after over 7 months is exhausting in and of itself. I am grateful but also Chad and I are starting to become completely drained from this whole experience and we are starting to unravel. We are definitely living on postcards from the edge.

PS...Thurston does NOT have RSV and no one in their right mind actually thinks it is Whooping cough although they still have him on lockdown until the final results come back on Tuesday. WAnna know what I think? I think he was in so much pain that he started to hyperventilate and gag and cough on all of his saliva and tears. I think he just went into spasm mode. I wish I was there just an hour earlier I could have told them that. For now they think the pain appears to be both from sharp sharp gas or cramps in his lower abdominal area, and/or just a lot of residual pains from the surgery. I will update later I really need to get some sleep.....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Carpe Diem

Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi
finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros. ut melius, quicquid erit, pati,
seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare
Tyrrhenum: sapias, uina liques, et spatio breui
spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit inuida
aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

Don't ask (it's forbidden to know) what final fate the gods have
given to me and you, Leuconoe, and don't consult Babylonian
horoscopes. How much better it is to accept whatever shall be,
whether Jupiter has given many more winters or whether this is the
last one, which now breaks the force of the Tuscan sea against the
facing cliffs. Be wise, strain the wine, and trim distant hope within
short limits. While we're talking, grudging time will already
have fled: seize the day, trusting as little as possible in tomorrow.


Before I update you on Thurstons progress I wanted to tell you about a beautiful woman I met a few days ago. Her sweet daughter entered the world a mere week ago, born a preemie at 33 weeks, but also born with a chromosomal condition, a condition that most born with die from, sometimes immediate, some in a few months and even fewer will live past a year. My heart bled for this woman. The strength she must have, to know that her daughter will only be here for a very short time, how much no one knows, and to have to at the same time ride the uncertainties of the nicu roller coaster, the tediousness of it all, my heart just gave out.
This family truly understands that every single day counts, that every day they have with their daughter is precious and not one to sit and complain about, that her time is so limited that every single ounce of every second cannot be wasted. They are truly my heroes.

I was able to talk quite a bit with her and her family and wax philosophy with them about the brevity of life, how our situations have changed us and I told them that it was quite a while ago that I just stopped thinking the inevitable question that ALL parents of premature babies ask. "when will my baby come home". I remember early on, I thought for sure Thurston was going to be one of those lucky ones that was able to come home around their due dates, give or take a few weeks. He seemed to have been beyond the horrible ups and downs those first couple of months of the nicu life bring and so I set up his nursery in anticipation of his homecoming. I organized all of his little newborn clothes, I hung vintage plaques of Bambi and Thumber and Flower above his changing table for him to gaze at while I was changing him, I put the glider in a little nook, dreaming about holding him late at night while Viola and daddy slept in the next room. I remember feeling so relieved that he was past all of the hard stuff and could now just move on to cpap, to nasal cannula, then ultimately to room air, just like most of those other little babes did in our NICU. Closing in on his due date, I started to realize that he would be there a little longer, especially as babies that were born 1 and 2 months after him were already at room air and he was stuck on the cpap. I began to get frustrated at the prospect of a couple more months and that is when my mom came back in July to help us out as we just didn't realize he was going to be still in the nicu so much past his due date. Then as he started to show signs of coming home, drinking his bottles of milk, breastfeeding, I was thrilled and so excited that soon, maybe my boy would be able to be home by the time he was 2 months old adjusted....then August hit us, Cold and swift, and I remember thinking to myself that week, please please if he makes it out of this, if he lives through this, I will never ever ever complain again about life in the nicu, I will just be so happy to have my son be alive and well. Well he made it out and I have not even once thought about it ever since. I truly have been changed. I don't even for a second think about when he might come home. I don't even care really. I know we will still be here for halloween and if Thanksgivng and Christmas roll by then so be it. At least now Viola can visit him so we will be able to spend those holidays together as a family, that is what is most important to me.

Anyway, I was telling this brave family that I have learned what Horace meant when long ago he inadvertently coined the phrase "Carpe Diem". Truly truly I enjoy every second of every day with my son. I don't care if he is in the nicu, I just care that I have the ability to go and be with him, to hug and cuddle him, to sing and talk to him, to kiss his sweet face all over. We are truly blessed that he is here with us. I cant truly remember the last time I actually thought that question,"when will he come home?" The only important thing is that he is still here and every single second I get to spend with him, wether it is in a nicu, at home, at the north pole, I really don't give a flying monkeys uncle where, as long as I get to spend it with him.

So Monday night we checked into the Ronald Mcdonald house. It is a few minutes walk from Dell so we felt it would be good to stay there for a few days so we could be close to Thurston. This place just makes it so easy for families in their time of need. I was very nervous so Chad and I decided that I would be with him the night before and Chad would get up early to be with him while he was being wheeled down for surgery. I probably would not have handled that part very well. It worked out great. The scariest part of the surgery for me anyway, was the anesthesia, and going back on the vent. I was nervous with Thurstons chronic lung disease that it would be difficult to get him off of the vent. Well, right after the surgery, we waited in a little room and the surgeon came in and told us it was successful and he did very well. He answered all of our questions and so we went up to Thurstons room where he was waiting for us. He actually was already awake and struggling with the vent and kept fighting it. He had a very scared and pissed off look in his eye, like"what the hell mom, why am I on this again!!!". So the neonatologist came in and I asked if there was anything we could do for him, he was just so uncomfortable, and with his wonderful british accent he said,"well lets just try extubating him and see how he does". WHAT....I was both excited and nervous. They were fully expecting Thurston to be on the vent for at least a few days, but this doctor is crazier than Doctor Maverick back at North Austin. It was only a few hours after his surgery so I really thought this guy was nuts!!!! He said, "well we wont know unless we try and he is not tolerating being on the vent so lets just see how it goes, if we have to reintubate him then we will but we wont know until we try"...Uh ok Ill be going downstairs for a cup of coffee, I just cant stay to watch.......So I go eat and come back and kiddo is back on nasal cannula at the same settings he was on before at 6 liters at around 80 percent oxygen. WOW.........

Anyway, he was ok that first day but during the night he was in a lot of pain and I kept trying to tell the nurse to do something but she kept dragging her feet. She was a very nice nurse but I just couldnt get Thurston to calm down, he wasnt getting any rest and he was practically crying and moaning the whole night. Finally at around 6 in the morning she called the doctor on call and they gave him a phyntinal drip and low and behold, THurston was soooooooooo much more relaxed and comfortable. I just hate pulling teeth with nurses, I mean I so respect them and they do such a great job, but occasionally they just dont listen to parents. I KNOW MY KID HE WAS IN PAIN!!!!!!! The doctor in the morning apologized and said that she should have given him the drip much sooner and that always makes a parent feel a little better that we are NOT THAT ÇRAZY. We truly just want what is best for our kid and truly, we know our kids well. Anyway, they started his feeds back up, THROUGH his g-tube and he will probably be back on full feeds tomorrow. We are very excited for him as he now has a fundoplication that will protect his lungs from reflux and microaspiration(and hopefully help protect him from an incident like the one in August) and he now no longer has to have that tube shoved down his nose poor little guy, that was irritating his throat and making him very uncomfortable. Only time will tell to see if this helps to reduce his oxygen needs at least to a point that he can be on a lower flow, and ultimately, so that we can avoid giving him a tracheostomy. We just have to be patient for our little patient.

So for now, we just have no idea about Thurston's future. All we know is that he is here with us now, he is as cute as a bug in rug, and that we are very lucky that everything so far has been working out at his new NICU and that he is on the path of healing, protecting, and getting the help he needs. Truly this whole experience has taught me that none of us know what our future holds, none of us knows how long we will be here. So when your kids wake you up at 3 in the morning, just know no matter how tired you are, rather than looking at it as an inconvenience just think about it as an extra hour or so that you GET to spend with your child, what a privilege it is to have that little being in your life. I know, especially being separated this long from my sweet beautiful son, that life truly is all about carpe diem!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon.....

Tuesday, afternoon,
I'm just beginning to see, now I'm on my way.
It doesn't matter to me, chasing the clouds away.
Something, calls to me,
The trees are drawing me near, I've got to find out why?
Those gentle voices I hear, explain it all with a sigh.

So we have gotten a lot done in these past 2 weeks at Dell. Thurston has had a ton of specialists look at him and has had a real swallow study done and an ENT look down his throat as well. The good news is that his vocal chords are normal and not damaged(we were a little concerned as Thurston does not have a strong cry and it is rather raspy at times). Everything looks normal but he does have some irritation where the NJ tube goes down his throat. The bad news is it really seems as if Thurston has some very severe reflux. He is often very uncomfortable and coughs a lot as well as gags and chokes. I had noticed this in early August as well as some projectile vomiting right before Thurston took a turn for the worse. The doctors have tried every medication, a 24 hour feeding schedule, and an NJ tube that bypasses his stomach to his intestines to no avail, he is still coughing and gagging a lot and it is still making him sooooooo uncomfortable and so now the doctors think that having a gtube/nissen fundoplication( a feeding tube that goes directly in his tummy, and a fundo is placed around his esophagus to prevent contents of his stomach coming back up which will prevent aspiration) will help him immensely with reflux and with oral aversions caused by reflux as well as making him oodles more comfortable as we can say goodbye to the NJ tube down his throat. I cannot even imagine having something stuck down my throat 24 hours a day and it does not seem there is an end in sight due to his high oxygen needs,(Thurston most likely will be on oxygen for a while even at home probably for the next year of his life, his chronic lung disease is very severe).
The other hope with the gtube/fundoplication is that it will help reduce Thurston's oxygen needs. The thought is that because of his severe reflux, Thurston is probably micro-aspirating into his lungs. This micro-aspiration for more healthy babies(Viola being one of them as she also had severe reflux when she was a baby) usually does not effect their lungs. But with Thurston, his lungs are just so fragile and delicate, that even the slightest amount can not only cause higher oxygen needs, but like in August, cause a major life threatening event(pneumonia). So the doctors are hoping that within a month or two after this surgery, Thurston's oxygen needs should go down enough and hopefully to a lower flow(2 or 1) and maybe even low enough that he can finally finally come home(1 liter or less). Its just a wait and see but I truly do feel Thurston will at the very least be a lot more comfortable and his coughing episodes will be eradicated and he can just be a happier more well adjusted baby.

So for now the idea of a trach is put on hold, and we will just hope that this will help him avoid that. His surgery is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and we will most likely be staying at the ronald mcdonald house for a couple of days so we can be close to him while he is recovering. The most nerve wracking part of the surgery is that he will have to go back on the vent and it might take him up to a week to get off of the vent as he will be sedated for a while to alleviate the pain from the surgery. So we have to expect his oxygen needs to go up and that will be hard for me to take after he has been doing pretty well so far hanging out on 6 liters at around 60 percent oxygen(this hospitals nasal cannula goes up to 8 liters which is awesome as he does not need to go back on cpap at all, another reason to love Dell!!!!)I just hope that his recovery will not entail complications and we can move forward with his recovery.

Thurston also got his RSV shot the synagis(a very expensive shot (1000 dollars a pop) to protect him during rsv season. He will get 1 shot a month through April. Wow talk about an expensive kid.

My mommy is leaving on Saturday, unfortunately, as it would have been great for her to be here for his surgery, but we have had so much fun with her here and it has been incredible to get so much help for so long, we are now officially spoiled rotten. Life at Dell is good though and our stress levels have been significantly reduced since moving Thurston here and just to be able to bring Viola with me anytime I want and/or need to has made our lives much much much more simple and much much more beautiful to just be a family. I love how Thurston and her interact with one another, its just plain cute!!!!!

So next week will probably be a little tough, but we will get through it like we always have, one step at a time, one evening at a time, one morning at a time, and one Tuesday afternoon at a time.......

Friday, September 24, 2010


So its been a few days at Dell Childrens hospital and already, we are thrilled and settling right in at our new NICU residence. The exiting news is that Thurston already, in this very short period of time, has been looked at by almost every specialist that must exist. He has been seen by two pulomonologists, a GI specialist, an ENT specialist, a heart doctor, and of course his Neonatologists as well as ot, pt and a life care specialist. The absolutely wonderful thing is the first day we were there, both the neonatologist and the pulmonologist took one look at Thurston and said....ummmm this kiddo does not look or present like a trach kid, with both of the docs saying, "wow, we were expecting a lot worse". WOW WOW and more WOW. Now by no means did they mean Thurston is not sick but I think both of them thought that we need to investigate Thurstons case a lot further before we even think about giving him a tracheostomy. The neonatologist even said he would rather wait even a couple more months and do some further testing then to trach him just to get him to my ears. All I want is the best for my son whatever that entails and in the end, like I said before if he needs a trach than thats what we will do but so far, no one is in a hurry to perform any operation, and everyone seems to think we have some time to do some investigation before that might even be a possiblity. They both also said that they have never really seen a kid on the nasal cannula that needed a trach and the kids that were candidates for trachs are usually vent dependent, not breathing on their own etc. So that was very reassuring. The pulmonologist said that his excessive oxygen needs might also stem from some mild pulmonary hypertension and they are also investigating reflux as a possible culprit as well. So they are switching around some medications, giving him some lasix, doing some more echos on his heart, putting him on nitric(which treats pulmonary hypertension)and they are nj tube feeding him where the tube bypasses his stomach and goes directly into his intestines, with the intention of trying to reduce his reflux, gagging, and incessant coughing episodes. All of this is hopefully going to help reduce his oxygen needs and at the very least, make my kiddo a little more comfortable. Wow, they are really switching things up quite a bit and doing a lot in such a short amount of time.

The next most beautiful thing to happen is my sweet daughter and sweet son finally got to meet face to face for the first time. It was so sweet. The child life specialist gave Viola a doll first that had all of the tubings and wires that Thurston has to prepare her, allay any fears she might have when she meets him, and see how she would react to all of the medical equipement. I have to say, I almost wish we would have moved to Dell sooner, like a few months ago. They really specialize in so muh more than just medicine and we feel like we are such a huge part of Thurstons life now, they really make you feel like a family and that you are just as important as the patient is, now thats what Im talking about.

Viola was so exited. The first thing she did was to put the pacifier in Thurstons mouth. She stroked his head and he just kept staring at her almost as if he recongnized her or something. Then before you knew it, she gave him the biggest most beautiful hug ever. It was such a beautiful day. By the way, I was able to actually leave my mom with Thurston alone when I went to pick up Viola from school. Wow this place is so freeing.

So for now, we are still just trying to figure everything out. Nothing has been ruled in or ruled out, but at least we are on the path of discovery. Needless to say, we couldnt be more "Dell"ighted with our new residence and just hope that we can soon move forward and finally get our kiddo home where he belongs.

Here are a few recent pictures:

Thurstons new digggggs!!!

Awwwwww Brother and sister touching each other...look at Thurston trying to copy sissy!!

Are you sure she's my sister mom?

Viola giving her brother his paci, already mommys big helper!!!

Our first real family portrait...boy are we ever happy!!!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bicenntenial days...200 days and counting...

I had previously wrote a very nervous and scared post. As I had stated we needed to make some decisions that involved both transferring him to a different hospital and also considering some surgeries. These are both very scary decisions to make and not easy. I am not a willy nilly person. When our dishwasher broke, it took me almost a month to research, and investigate the kind of dishwasher i wanted, the sales going on, I went into stores to try them out, I just really wanted to get the best value for my money, and be happy with my decision with no regrets. Well obviously when it comes to your child, I don't think any parent is going to enter into decisions, especially ones that could involve the life of your child, very lightly. I mean when you go buy a car you always take a test drive right? I know for some it may have seemed like I was dragging my feet, and maybe for a few, not making the best choice for my child, but I felt I had to investigate thoroughly every option for Thurston, so that I could make give him the best informed decision. My child is not a dishwasher or a car, he is a human being and I just needed to make sure that this was the right move for him. If the doctors had told me it was life or death or told me that it was urgent, obviously I would not have hesitated at all, but I had time to do some research and I am so glad I did.

Last Friday I made an appointment to go to Dell Children's hospital to see what it was like. I felt that that would help alot in allaying any fears I had especially as i had heard that the rooms were private. Now for you and I, if we were in the hospital, a private room is pure heaven, but for my sweet baby, who is so used to an open space or a bay as they call it, where EVERYONE and their mother(literally) walks by and says hi to him, talks to him, where he can hear a million conversations, it was very comforting to me to know that he was never ever alone and that he would get all the attention in the world. He is a social butterfly and LOVES to be around people, so that was very hard for me to swallow.

Secondly, I was not sold on the idea of my son getting a tracheostomy. Not that I wouldn't do it in a heartbeat if I felt that is truly what he needed, but I just had this little tick tock inside of me that was telling me not to rush into it, something just didn't seem right about it. Mostly because my son has never had really any testing or specialists looking at him. He has never even been seen by and Ear Nose and Throat doctor, his airways have never been evaluated, he has never been seen by a GI specialist, or a heart specialist for that matter. He has only been seen I think a couple of times by a pulmonologist but to me I just felt, not all of our options have been investigated, he deserves to have every possible scenario exhausted before he just simply "gets a trach" Now if for some reason all of these things are looked at and the ultimate conclusion is to give him one then so be it. But I don't think anyone would even consider an invasive surgery for even themselves let alone their children, especially one so life altering as a tracheostomy, without first exhausting other possible causes of their condition, and perhaps other treatments available.

So before visiting Dell, I was terrified. Besides the whole private room thing, we would have to adjust to all new nurses and nursing styles, new rules and regulations, new procedures, new policies, I just felt almost as if we were back to square one in a lot of ways. Also the drive is a bit further, and most importantly, I was petrified that all of the doctors automatically assumed my son would need a trach, that they would have a preconceived notion about my son and it would already be in their heads and that they wouldn't actually investigate any further what else could really be going on with my son.


First and foremost the NICU rules and regulations are OUTSTANDING and so much less restrictive than NA. Now I am in no way denigrating any regulations at Thurston's old NICU. Those rules and regulations have to be in place as Premature babies are so extremely fragile, its an extremely sensitive time for the families as there are soooooo many ups and downs and uncertainties etc. And most importantly, they expect most preemies to go home by their due dates, so it is unusual for most families to be there as long as Thurston, as any baby needing more support surgeries etc. will usually transfer out of there. So I fully support and am so grateful for those rules that were in place that protected my son in the time that he was there. Because Dell is a children's hospital, they take into consideration the fact that most of the children there have long term chronic illnesses and there is no way to predict how long the families will have to be there, so their rules and much more relaxed and geared toward making the families lives much easier. Here are just a few things that Chad and I were thrilled about:

First and foremost, FINALLY Viola and Thurston can meet face to face and spend some real quality time together. Because viola is on a delayed vaccine schedule, she was not allowed into our NICU(again I totally understood this and supported that) but now I can bring her in every day so they can finally get to know each other. Plus, if I want to go see Thurston I don't have to have a babysitter....I can just bring Viola with me, wow that takes a ton of stress off of us right there. After hearing this, I was sold!!!! That was almost reason enough to move Thurston.

Second...They do not ever close. Chad used to have to wait until 8 o'clock to go into the NICU to see Thurston which meant he had to stay at work an extra hour which meant that he came home later. Also, there were times that I was only able to go later in the day and would have to leave by 630 cutting short my time to be with him. Now we can go in any time we want, whenever we want, and stay as long as we want, which is very nice indeed.

Third...I can bring in any visitors I want any time. We were limited to only 4 visitors the entire 7 months we were in the NICU. That was hard on us as our family lives far away so when we signed up Chads mom and dad, that took up 2 of the spots and they only went in 2 whole times when he was first born. We signed up my friend Karen who also came to help us for 2 weeks and she only saw him about 2 times and then she went home. Then one spot was left when my mom came to visit and then she went home after 9 days. The director was nice enough and understanding of our situation and allowed for us to sign up Chads brother Brad who was only in town for 5 days. So Thurston literally only had probably 10 total visits from other people beside Chad and I in the almost 7 months that he was in the NICU, while other families who had family in town were able to bring them in daily. So we are excited that Thurston will now be able to meet more of our family and friends. More YEA!!!

Fourth...We get to sign up 4 very special people, who will be able to come see Thurston on their own, without Chad or I having to be there. This also will be incredible as we will have more people to give him lots of love and holding when Chad and I cant be there.

Fifth......They have volunteers who come in and spend time with the kiddos. They also have a child life program that includes development, OT, pt, speech therapies, and incorporates Viola in the mix to help her adjust to her brother and his hospitalization. FANTASTIC!!!!!

Sixth...Just a silly thing really but as a nursing mother, they feed me!!!! Yup I get to order from the cafeteria and they feed me for free...Hey Ill take it!!!!

Seventh.....Ok remember my post about HATING those damn sticky labels and the amount of time it takes to clean the bottles for my milk...WELL they provide all the bottles and do not reuse them so I never have to wash another bottle, or try cleaning the stickies off of them ever again. AND I get my kitchen counter back...It does make me cringe a little about the waste of plastic, as an avid recycler, however they said that breast milk is a bodily fluid so for germ purposes they cannot reuse the containers....Hey Ill take it, It would be nice for the break and free up some extra time for me to do other things yea!!!!

Eight...within the private rooms they actually provide my very own breast pump. I don't have to go scrounging for one ever again and the nurse don't have to either YIPEEEEEEEEE plus it is very sanitary to do it that way, so you don't have to worry about other peoples germs...

Ninth....They want me to use my fresh breast milk, and not my frozen if they can help it, and they are now giving Thurston 100 percent breast milk fortified with neosure so that is fantastic

AND drum roll please...the tenth and obviously most important reason is that Thurston will be evaluated by every specialist known to the pediatric world. They are all there, just popping their heads into the room, and it is great to get a ton of new ideas as to how to fix my poor little sweet boy. All of the doctors at NA told me that Dell was the best place for him for this reason alone, and were huge proponents of him moving there, I was just so nervous. We have built a family at his NICU, I love all of his beautiful nurses, RTs, Pharms, Doctors, Receptionists, custodians etc. and they love my son with all of their hearts and souls and I am indebted to them for life. But after leaving on Friday, it just was a no brainer for me, my fear flew out the window and I knew that this was the place for him. It was very emotional to leave however, and I cried the whole time. It was just to painful to say goodbye to everyone. I will have to pop in later, when things are settled to thank them properly for everything they have done for us.

So on Tuesday of this week, just one day shy of his 200th day of life, his bicentennial day if you will and just a just a few short days after my visit to Dell, we traveled to my sons new residence. It was his first trip ever outside and of course, he slept through the whole trip, how funny. A new post of how his first couple of days went will follow this one but just wanted to update everyone on the move.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fundraiser for thurston

My dear sweet mamas group is holding a fundraiser for thurston...I like to call it a thurst-a-thon. Anyway here is the site. Wer so grateful and a big thanx to Melanie for putting this together


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Decisions, decisions....

Today was a very stressful day. We have to make some very very tough decisions about our son. I am pretty broken up. I hope no one ever has to make these kinds of decisions for their children. It's just very stressful and painful.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Candide, The garden of forking paths and The persistence of memory.......27 weeks and counting....

First not too much to report on Thurston. He is still on nasal cannula and they decided to lower his liters and put him on 100 percent oxygen, much like they were doing in August right before he took a turn for the worse. He had a swallow study done where they found he was NOT refluxing so we need to do some further testing to make any more forward moves. They have talked about trachs and gtubes but we are looking into getting some more testing done before we make any decisions. We still have no idea when he will come home and how. We are kind of in a holding pattern. But for now, he seems to be doing ok and is still the king of the NICU, adored by everyone who meets him.
Its hard to believe, but as of yesterday, Thurston has been in the NICU as long as I was pregnant with him, 27 weeks. WOW. Coincidentally it was this week last year that I became pregnant. I often think about all of those early happy memories, the dreams that I had of my pregnancy, how happy I was when I found out a few weeks later, the thought of my two kids taking baths together, what Violas reaction would have been, the playdates we would have went to etc. Those futuristic dreams are now distant memories. I often think of what our lives would have been like had everything been normal, like I am forever trapped in a Luis Borges novella. Every day is a struggle to remain positive and hopeful but I actually find that recently, I have been moving forward with my life, with our lives. There is something about this entire experience that paralyzes you, you feel as if you cannot move. At first its because literally you are like a deer in headlights, you cant believe any of it is happening, you feel like you are walking around in a Salvador Dali painting full of ants, melting clocks, and vast landscapes that seem to go on forever and nowhere at the same time. Then as you settle into your new world, and routine, you don't really plan because you think, well, he will be home soon, its just a matter of time and then after he comes home, you will settle into a routine and then move forward into the future, into your new life. Then suddenly, you realize, there is no end to this, it could be another 4 to 6 months maybe even longer.

But this last experience with Thurston in August when he had a 50/50 chance of living, I realized that I cannot just sit and wait, I must move forward, I have another child at home, I have a husband, and I have myself to think about as well as my son.

Right before all this happened I decided to open up a vintage shop on etsy, called Dust Bowl Vintage. I have such a passion for the early 20th century, mainly, the Edwardian, Flapper and Depression eras. I also love to sew and wear fashions from those eras so I thought, even with a newborn, I would find some time here and there to dedicate to those endeavors, those passions that I have had nearly my entire life.
I was also in the midst of planning things for my little girl who is growing up so fast. Swimming lessons, dance and/or gymnastics, playdates, preschool were all on the horizon when in February we found out my pregnancy was in jeopardy. My husband was supposed to finish his Masters Thesis as well this past semester in college as well as work on finessing his musical prowess by taking private lessons. All of us had so many goals that stopped completely in their tracks. Life completely halted.

So for about 7 months now everything has been put on a back burner. Our lives became just about survival and hard choices. Everyday our choices revolve around the NICU life, and now instead of "should I sew", "should I work on my thesis", "should Viola take a gymnastics class or a dance class", the choices are now; "do I spend more time with Viola today, or should I go see Thurston"; "do I pump before I go to the NICU or wait until I get there", "should we consider getting him a trach and gtube, or should we wait and just let his lungs heal" etc. Chad has always had to work fairly late, but tried to get home to at least be able to see Viola and read to her before bed. Now he has to make a choice; "Should I see my son after work, or do I go home to see my daughter", not a choice I ever thought myself or my husband would have to make, especially for this long. It is hard, I will not lie. Sometimes I feel like people who are undergoing something like this somehow are held to higher standards, like we have to be more stoic, less whiney, or something, that we are not allowed to ever ever complain or occasionally look at the glass as half empty instead of half full. But every day I see people bitching and complaining about their normal lives and their woes......I think we are entitled to the same privileges.

One of the preemie moms on my preemie message board the other day asked how I remained positive after reading my post "a grain of salt and a pound of hope". I told her that it is BECAUSE I allow myself to feel depressed, scared, sad, whiney,and freak out, etc. How can anyone go through something this life altering and not have a bad day....normal people with normal lives have them all the time, why cant I. The other day, I stopped in a parking lot and just balled my head off for about 15 minutes, completely freaked out and then I felt a ton better. I told her the key that I have found to keeping positive IS by allowing yourself to feel all of the other stuff but just not allowing it to take over. There is a very poignant scene from the tv show "Lost" where Jack tells Kate how he conquers fear:
Lost Scene
This is how I now deal with our situation, I allow myself to feel all of the anguish, depression, and sadness, I allow myself to feel sorry for our situation, and to freak out, but only for a very short time, I don't let it consume me anymore, but I also don't pretend that I am made of steel either. This has allowed me to move forward and to ask for help, and we have received a ton of it lately; just this week I enrolled Viola in both a moms day out AND a dance class. I went thrift shopping for the first time in ages(thanx mommy) and found 10 vintage outfits that look like they walked out of those eras that I adore so much, hell I even fingerwaved my hair today, something I have not done since January. Chad has been working on some side projects for people as well. My moms group is organizing a fundraiser to help us out with the unforeseen costs of having a child in the hospital this long(love you guys!). It seems our lives are slowly but surely moving forward. Most days I am very happy and very grateful and although I envisioned my garden going down a different path, that I will not have that ultimate nirvana that I dreamt of, I realize that I must live in the here and in the great last line in Voltaire's exquisite satire, "Candide", "we must cultivate OUR garden", the only one that truly exists.