Thursday, September 12, 2013

Life Lately...Has Changed!

Our lives have changed completely in the past month.  Adding a baby to the family is a big enough change, but adding in one with special needs, along with potty training a toddler and sending two kids back to school is sure to make your mind spin!

We have spent the past 3 1/2 weeks adapting to being a family of 6.  It has honestly been the easiest transition, despite the initial shock of finding out that Liam had Down Syndrome.  I can't believe that my baby will be turning 1 month old in less than a week!!!

I'm going to be sharing Liam's birth story very soon, followed by something I wrote about the first day with him.  I haven't been able to hit publish yet, because the post is so emotional.  His birth was very surreal.  Part of me wishes I could go back to relive the day and tell myself that everything was going to be okay.  I feel so guilty about some of the thoughts I had after he was born, but I have been assured by many who were in my shoes that all of those things that I felt were completely normal. 

As for now, life IS back to normal.  Liam, even with Down Syndrome, just fits in with our family. He is the sweetest baby and seems to enjoy the chaos that is present in our house.  We have adjusted to our new routine and this new path that we're on, and we're all getting back into the swing of things.

Here's what has been going on over the past month:

{Liam}

Liam joined our family much earlier than I expected.  Apparently he wanted to surprise us in every way possible!

The main issue he is having is with weight gain.  When he was almost a week old, he lost a lot of weight.  He was born at 7 lbs 11 oz and 20 1/4 inches.  At his appointment yesterday, he weighed 6 lbs 2 oz and was 21 inches long.

He has been hovering around 6 lbs for over 2 weeks.  He is being breastfed, so we saw our lactation consultant, and he's now using a supplemental feeder while he nurses.  

Yesterday, he had a follow up with his pediatric cardiologist. She explained that all babies are born with a hole in their heart and an extra ventricle. The hole does close after birth, and the ventricle closes off.  The hole in the bottom of his heart had closed, but the hole was still open at the top.  He will have to go back in 6 months to make sure that hole has closed.

Liam was very content through the entire EKG and heart ultrasound.  He just held onto my finger, sucked on his binky, and looked back and forth between the doctor and I.  Because of this, she was able to do an in depth ultrasound, and discovered something she would have otherwise missed.  When the ventricle closed off, it pinched off a bit into his artery, like a skin tag.  Right now, he's perfectly normal, but he will need to get scans every year to make sure scar tissue doesn't form on that "tag" and block his artery.

I am very grateful that it was detected and can be monitored.  Grant, however, is just terrified that the worst is going to happen and he will need surgery someday.  There's the obvious difference in our way of thinking!

Next up is an appointment with audiology to get a hearing screen done, weekly weight checks, and our first appointment at the Down Syndrome Clinic.  Early Intervention is also going to be coming to our house to evaluate him.  From there, they will determine what, if any, kind of therapy he could benefit from right now, and send a therapist/therapists to our house every week.

And so begins our new journey!  Our little man has already touched the hearts of everybody around him, and we are so in love. 

{Liliana}

Our sweet Lily turned 2 a month ago, and 2 weeks later, she became a big sister!

My goal was to have her pee-trained by her 2nd birthday, and miraculously, after just a week of trying, we reached that goal!  One week after turning 2, she pooped on the potty, and that concluded our potty training adventure.  Two weeks and DONE!  From there, we got rid of the pull ups for outings and naps. She doesn't stay consistently dry overnight, so she still wears a pull up to bed.  I'm so proud of her!

{Alexandria}

Lexie just started 1st grade, and is excelling at her school work and tests.  Unfortunately, she hates leaving home, and cries every morning when it's time to leave.  The day is very long for her, she finishes her work quickly, and she gets bored. We are currently considering other options for her if her issues persist.   Her happiness is priority.

When we brought Liam home, we told the kids that he had Down Syndrome.  From that moment, Lexie took it upon herself to protect her baby brother.  She is simply amazing with him, and has become the biggest helper.  She adores him and I know she's going to be so good for him as he grows.  She was stuck in the middle child role for a while, but she has a new role in life, and she is shining.

{Dylan}

Dylan is now in 3rd grade and he loves it!  He is very social and loves going to school every day.  His class is full of his closest friends.  He, too, is excelling.

We did end up skipping Fall baseball this year.  I felt very guilty, but I didn't think we could handle it right now.  He is considering basketball or cub scouts now, and will play baseball in the Spring.

He absolutely loves his baby brother, but he goes out of his way to make Lily feel special.  I love how each child has a sibling close in age and an older/younger sibling that they share a special bond with.

{Grant and I}

Life is good!

Grant continues to work his butt off in the mortgage industry.  The commute and the day is long, but it pays the bills! Right now, he's obsessing over baseball (he's a Tigers fan!) and fantasy football.

I know he's been having a rough time between worrying about Liam and missing his father, who would have celebrated his birthday yesterday. However, he has been my rock during the past few weeks. We just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary on Monday!

We haven't let having a child with special needs slow us down.  Liam has come along on shopping trips, to dinners with friends, to picnics, to school activities, and to visit family members.  Our first family outing was when he was 5 days old.  We took the kids to their schools to find their classrooms, then went to get lunch.

Grant and I finally realized we're pros at this. Grant successfully managed a public bathroom trip with a toddler alone, and we took Lily and Liam out to lunch and they didn't make a peep.  Well, maybe not pros, but we got this!

I slipped very easily into the role of mother of four.  Liam sleeps very well at night, which helps tremendously. All of my kids have slept well at night, so I have never experienced the exhaustion that comes with a new baby.  I will admit that I'm usually drooling on myself by 10:30 every night!  My recovery has been really easy, with the exception of having really low iron.  Right after I delivered Liam, the nausea disappeared.  Oh, happy day!  I'm so thrilled to be able to eat again!

After 9 months of being sick, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight and had a flat stomach again when I left the hospital.  That really is the ONLY perk about 9 months of being sick! But we all know that things shift around after you grow a child, so I need to do some toning exercises! I felt well enough to start 2 weeks postpartum, but decided to give my body a break for a month.  I'm just used to getting some exercise during the week, and I feel yucky when I don't.  I get headaches and have no energy.

I have made some changes to our routine, because I can't, and don't want to, do it all. I'm finally realizing how important it is to push some things aside and enjoy life! Shortcuts are necessary these days!  I thoroughly clean the house just one day a week.  Every other day, I just do maintenance cleaning.  It's actually working out quite well.  The house is always clean and clutter-free, so I'm happy! Our friends and family gave us meals for about 2 weeks, so I just started cooking meals every night again.  I'm making a lot of crockpot meals and casseroles, but I try to prepare them while the babies are napping. 

I get so much done during the day while the kids are in school.  Once they get home, it's complete chaos!  I am on my feet from the time the bus pulls up until the time the last kid is tucked into bed!

All of the nesting that I did while pregnant was awesome!  I managed to thoroughly redo the girls' room (that post is coming up!), and makeover the other bedrooms.  I did start on the bathroom renovation, but didn't get very far with it.  SOMEBODY had other plans to arrive early!  I'm just going to have to work on it bit by bit.

I haven't been able to take Liam's newborn photos yet.  Right before I was going to, he came down with an awesome case of infant acne, and it's still lingering.  He's so tiny and sleepy that he'll look like a newborn for a while!

I did have to let go of my plan to do a lot of volunteer work at the kids' schools this year.  It was doable, even with a baby, but Liam is going to have a lot of appointments.  Right now, the health and happiness of my kids is my main concern! 

I don't want to be stressed and overbooked, and I don't think it's right for my kids, either.  I want to enjoy Fall activities with my family and spend lots of time with our friends.  I want to create memories with my children, instead of rushing them from one thing to the next.   I want them to feel important and loved! 

I want to enjoy right now, because I know just how quickly time passes by.

Finally, I am amazed and humbled by all the love, encouragement, and support we have received.  Our family and friends have been amazing, and acquaintances have stepped up and become good friends. The outpouring of support from people I don't even know in real life has touched me.  I have cried more in the past month than I have ever cried in my life.  There is so much good in this world. 

21 comments:

  1. Happiness of your family is the most important thing. Gary and I come to realize this, this whole year we have lived for us. And it is awesome!

    I have tears in my eyes. Good tears for you. I feel blessed to be apart of your life. xoxox

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  2. So thrilled to hear you are all adjusting well. Amazing that Lily is potty trained!

    I used one of those supplemental feeder deals when breastfeeding Pierce. Not the most fun thing in the world, but it set us up for better successes later, when he got a little bigger and stronger.

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  3. You are SUCH an amazing Mommy & truly an inspiration! Your family will always be in my prayers, and I dearly hope and pray that things continue to improve with little Liam. I was absolutely terrified at first of the thought of possibly having 4 little ones myself, but after following your blog now for the past year, I can't help but look forward to that possibility now =)
    ***Hugs***

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  4. So glad to hear you are all settling in well! Prayers are going up for baby Liam every day. He is so blessed to have such a wonderful family!

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  5. I'm glad everything is continuing to go well!! How awesome that all your babies have slept well. Mine were always horrible sleepers until at least 6 months old :-0

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  6. I must have been living in a hole the last month. I had no idea about Liam!

    If you ever need to talk, feel free to get in touch. I know how hard the unexpected is with a special needs baby. Everything changes. So. Hugs.

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  7. So happy for you and your family and that all is going well! I'm already making lists of recipes for casseroles and the crock pot for when our baby is born.
    Amazed Lilly is potty trained! I keep putting it off for Mackenzie....she's just not showing enough interest in it yet. Good luck figuring something out with Lexie. That has to be so hard for all of you.
    So happy you have so many great resources and friends and family to help you guys. My husband and I are like you and yours. He worried over Mackenzie's heart murmur when she was a baby, I was just happy the doctors knew about it and watched it. (I was normal for a premie)

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  8. You have such a positive outlook on life and it is so wonderful to read about someone who pours so much time and love into their family.

    www.twothiesens.blogspot.com

    :)Christine

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  9. YOu are so amazing! I am glad everyone is settling into their new roles and you are finding your new normal. I am sure your immediate response to his birth is emotional, but when/if you share it, think of all the people you will touch. That kind of raw honesty goes a long way. Thank you so inspiring me to be a better mom!

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  10. Thanks for the Update!! I'm glad that your are in a good place with 4 CHILDREN!! and I love the fact that you love your family so much!! You are right make your children the first and the others things seconds

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  11. You are a rockstar lady...seriously!!!

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  12. Aw, Stef, I wish I could hug you right now.
    I'm glad you're able to realize—you don’t HAVE to do anything! Your children know you love them. They will not feel you love them less if you can only volunteer for one school activity this time instead of them all. You are making memories all the time! You don’t have to go anywhere or even be doing anything “special” to make memories. Life may change a little bit as you’re adapting, but that in no way is a bad thing!!!! I understand that you must have been in a dark place when you first received Liam’s diagnosis, but if the emotions are too raw you don’t HAVE to blog about it. Some things can be left unsaid!! I hope I’m reading too much into this, but you don’t have to be guilty about any of it! The after-effects of giving birth are hard enough even without all the surprises- and anxiety about the future- you’ve had to experience this time. Please be careful not to push yourself, or to be too hard on yourself, or expect too much of yourself. Allow your family and friends to help when you need it!
    I will be praying for your whole family.

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  13. Black Strap Molasses is great for low iron!
    You ARE a pro!! You have four beautiful kids & I love reading about your journey!

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  14. Wow you are such an inspiration to me as a mom! When I see how much you do it makes me believe I can get things done with my 2 as well. I just wish that I had the same experience with the flat tummy that you did! LOL I love reading all the updates on the kids. Liam is so precious as are all of your kids! You guys are doing an awesome job!!!

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  15. Beautiful post Stefanie! I loved reading all about what you guys have been up to and how everything is going as a family of 6 :) It's busy days for you by the sounds of it, but you are such a positive person you really sound like you are enjoying it all. I am so glad you are getting loads of love and support from so many places. You're doing a fantastic job with all four of your gorgeous children!! Little Liam is a doll, I bet the older kiddos love him to bits :)
    Have a great weekend, keep your update posts coming xo

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  16. Where have I been??? Oh my goodness. What an inspiring mama you are. Seriously. I cried reading this post and I don't know why. I think you are handling everything with such beauty and grace. You are a PRO!! I can't believe Lily is potty trained! Liam is seriously A-DORABLE!! And flat tummy?? What?? I am still working on that. See? You were just meant to have babies, sweet mama. I will be following your journey closely...and wishing you all the best. xoxoxo

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  17. your family is too precious! i just found your blog and i love it :) xx

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  18. You have been so busy and have your hands full. I hope little man starts gaining weight for you and lilly gets potty trained. Oh the days I have to look forward too still. LOL.

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  19. I am glad you are all in a happy place! Kenzie has the same hole in her heart and it has never completely closed, just gotten smaller. She will always have it.

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  20. It sounds like you have an excellent frame of mind. I'm glad things are going well.

    Life with 3 is crazy hectic, so I can't imagine four. However, transitioning to 3 kids was so much easier than transitioning to 1 or 2. I was surprised, but very glad!!

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