Friday, May 29, 2009

The traveling circus

Carter has always marched to the beat of his own drum, even when he was in the NICU, he had his own way of doing things. He pulled out tubes when he wanted to, gained weight when HE wanted name it. We're talking about a kid who eats breakfast with his feet on the tray of his highchair, a kid that KNOWS how to crawl but would rather slide around on his belly, a kid that, when he was only a couple months old, figured out how to roll over when the doctor's said it was "impossible"...I could go on and on. This is why I was not surprised when he wanted to ride around in his stroller hanging off the side...upside down. We were quite the sight to see, walking through the mall with Carter, hanging upside down out of the stroller...chewing on a Tylenol bottle. I know what you're thinking, I must be crazy to give him a bottle of Tylenol, but desperate times call for desperate measures and we had been out shopping all day and he had had enough. Alright, alright, to ease your mind...the tylenol bottle was filled with rice, so that when he shook it, it made noise...and so if he got it open, he didn't eat a whole bottle of pain killers. I'm not THAT bad of a mom :)

Today, though, he DID surprise me, which is hard when you're dealing with a monster baby. Carter applied the same stroller technique, to his swing! I came into the living room to find my, once napping, baby leaning forward, then hanging off the side of the swing! At first I thought he had tried to roll over and got stuck, but he was just hanging there happy as can be. This will be quite the experience watching him grow up.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Shop 'til you drop...

....this is the direct result of TOO much shopping with Grandma. Today was Grandma day! Every Wednesday, Carter and I go out to my mom's house and we attempt, and I really stress the attempt part, to be productive. We always make these BIG plans to take a walk, go to the park,... maybe do a little shopping...and that's where it goes downhill. Today started out with an innocent trip to Once Upon a Child and lunch at Portillo's, and slowly turned into a 4 hour long shopping extravaganza.

Throughout this past year everyone who has ever had a baby boy, or so it seems, has unloaded ALL of their baby clothes off on me. I am very grateful for their generosity and love getting "hand-me-downs", but after the 5th kid gave us their old clothes I found myself knee deep in baby clothes. I dedicated an entire day to sorting through ALL of the baby clothes I have acquired, which was no easy task. At the end of it all I had 2 garbage bags full (not to mention I saved SO many clothes that I had to keep some in my closet!) of very nice and gently used baby clothes that I decided to sell to Once Upon a Child...which was a total nightmare!!

So off we went to Once Upon a Child with our bags of baby clothes in tow. After lugging in Carter, the cart cover, 2 huge garbage bags of clothes, and my purse and fidgeting around with the cart trying to get the cover on, we finally got the clothes behind the counter to be looked over. We looked around at all the clothes and toys, and Carter got a new ball :), and I figured I'd buy a jogging stroller, which was only $40, with the money I got back from the clothes. Sounds pleasant enough right? I almost forgot to mention the 6 year old little girl with the runny nose who stuck close by to us, grabbing at Carter's hands and touching his face. If you're a "germ-a-phob" (sp?) preemie mom like me you know I was CRAWLING out of my skin!! I also forgot to mention that my little monster baby was hanging out of the cart grabbing everything in site and holding on SO tight to a stroller that we literally had to pry him off of it! We spent a good majority of the time dodging the snot nosed little girl and distracting Carter from all the "pretties", as we call them, everywhere. Ah...the clothes were done being looked over and I was ready to check out. I waited patiently in line as the lady went througha small laundry basket with about 6 or 7 shirts in it...she then brought me my same 2 garbage bags FILLED with clothes, and $12 for the few shirts they decided to keep. Seriously?! They wouldn't accept jean overalls because they didn't come with a shirt, and they didn't accept a cub's romper because it was "pilly"...and the rest were "out of style", I guess I didn't know that the babies that shopped there were Fashionistas. Who woulda thought?!

So back out to the car with our garbage bags and monster baby in tow...and off to Portillo's for a "quick" lunch and then to the park, or so we thought. At Portillo's, Carter had has first taste of Italian Beef which got him VERY hyped are his reviews. (Sorry mom I couldn't edit you out)

We noticed that right by Portillo's was a Target and a Home Goods, we figured we'd breeze in there real quick, just to "look around". Of course Carter was the star of the show, everyone couldn't help but comment "those eyes", if only they knew :) Two hours and $50 later we returned to my car with just enough time to drop off my mom and get home to feed Carter his dinner. So here I am, after my "productive" day...with 2 bags of old baby clothes, and 2 more bags full of new things. If that isn't pure productiveness (is that even a word?!) I don't know what is.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Moldy limes and yesterday's clam chowder

Sounds wonderful doesn't it? Yesterday Carter was nice enough to "allow" me to do some housework. It sounded like a great idea at first, but as I was elbow deep in dirty dishes, I slowly discovered how much I neglect my housework. I spend a lot of my days looking for "that smell", sniffing around like a bloodhound, "Joe do you smell that???". Oh it must be that dish that's been soaking all week...I wash it...nope. Maybe it's the garbage...I take it out...nope. The sniffing continues...

Carter has a way of strategically placing his food around the house, whether he's storing it for later or he enjoys watching me smell everything in my house, I don't know, but you would be surprised at what I find around the house. He must store it in his cheeks like a hamster and then spit it out when I'm not looking, it really is my only logical explanation. Not to mention the Puffs he eats get stuck EVERYWHERE. It's a good day when I don't have to untangle one out of my hair or dig one out of my bra. On any given day you could come to my house and be sure to find a Puff somewhere, maybe even on you as your driving home.

So I managed to clean everything in my house, with the exception of the floors, while Carter I tackled the floors. Carter was sick of jumping around in his jumper so I busted out my Moby Wrap, which I haven't used in months...and I now remember why, and Carter helped me sweep and mop my floors. Have you ever tried to sweep and mop with a baby strapped to the front of you? Wait, let me rephrase that, have you ever tried to sweep and mop with a MONSTER baby strapped to the front of you? Its like a full contact sport! Everytime I moved the broom, Carter would jerk it back towards me while kicking wildly and screaming and laughing. I will admit that at first, and by that I mean the VERY first time, it was cute...but after getting kicked repeatedly in the crotch and bashed in the face by the broom, it wasn't so cute. The good news is, I still have all my teeth...oh and my floors managed to get swept. Now it was time to mop.

We really were quite the site to see, and believe me the neighbors got an eye full. Joe thought it'd be a bright idea to get one of those bucket's on janitors use...and the tallest mop ever. Let me just remind you that I am 5"2. The bucket's wheels had a mind of their own and at any given moment it was sent careening towards the wall, splashing water everywhere. Again, being 5"2 with the shortest legs ever, my pants sort of drag around on the floor, so as I'm mopping...or the best form of mopping I could acheive with a mop taller than I pants are soaking up the water off the floor and slowly getting heavier and heavier. At this point, my pants are making their way down around my ankles and the floor looks worse than it did before I started, so I took my pants off and continued to mop. Like any other "sport"..this one made me sweat profusely. Here I was, in my underwear, drenched with sweat and wearing Carter in the wrap while he practiced some sort of aerobics, did I mention all of my windows were open? As I looked outside I saw my neighbor, power washing her deck...and waving at me. Classy.

Two and a half hours later, the floors were done and Carter was napping...and I was done searching for "that smell". My housework is done...for now, we'll see about next week. So I have a few dishes in the sink and a mountain of laundry that I have yet to tackle...I have a happy baby and that's all that matters. Afterall...I am the mom of a monster baby, and housework isn't in my job title ;)

Friday, May 15, 2009


Carter spent the better part of his morning perfecting his Golf game. Look out Grandpa...I think he's going to give you a run for your money, if he doesn't eat it all first.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The best thing in the world....

Today, after dealing with a terrible cold for about a week, I broke loose and got outta the house for a little while. This is what I came home to....

the sweetest thing ever.

It reminded me of old times....

man has he grown!!! Nothing sweeter than Daddy and baby cuddling up together :)

PS...Joe worked for 3 hours drawing up the little cartoon for the title of the blog. Like it?! :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Please pray for the Freeman family

This is going to be a quick post. Just wanted to ask for prayers for the Freeman family, last night they lost their sweet baby girl after a long battle. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers while they go through this tough time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Let's rewind....

Hi! Before I begin, let me explain why I've started writing a blog for Carter. I had always wanted to start one when he was in the NICU, but could never really find the words to express how I was feeling. Now, almost a year later I have piles of pictures and videos (just got a new digital camcorder for mother's day...yay!!!!) that I would love to share with everyone. I know a lot of people didn't get to see Carter until he was much bigger so in this first post( which, I can assure you, will be a long one) I'm going to "rewind" back to December of '07 ...

Ok so this isn't exactly Dec fact it's from Sept 29 of 07
the day Joe and I were married....this is how it all began...

Alright, so it was Christmas of '07 and after having gone on a LONG honeymoon ( 12-day Mediterranean cruise) and eating entirely too much, I was begging Joe for an elliptical! So here I was, randomly gaining weight and coming down with some sort of horrible flu, and my only explanation was...DANG HONEYMOON!!...and of course all that Holiday weight gain :) So there were all those "usual" signs of pregnancy, but I really never believed it would happen, at least that quick! On December 27th we went out to look at ellipticals with, as Joe assured me, no promise of buying anything. But we did buy a lot of things, an elliptical, an exercise ball, a resistance band...and a pregnancy test..just in case.

After setting everything up and testing out all my new equipment in my "gym", (aka the spare room with all the crap in it) I figured I'd go take the test just to get it out of the way. I'll never forget that moment for the rest of my life. Joe was in the dining room trying to win money on some scratch-off lottery tickets that he got for Christmas, and I was in the bathroom...taking test, after test, after test...I used a package of 4 tests in about a 10 min period and I could not believe my eyes. I had so many theories of why there were 2 lines and not just one, two lines meaning I was pregnant of course. But after about 4 tests, all my theories went out the window. I called Joe into the bathroom and showed him the tests, he looked at them and then went right back to his lottery tickets, this time feverishly scratching at them...for some money. We were definitely going to need it!

I think Joe was way more excited than I was at first. My first thought was.."Oh my gosh, this is going to have to come out of me somehow!". Eventually, I started warming up to the idea of having a baby, afterall I was a Nanny and LOVE babies, I just couldn't imagine what it would be like to have my own. Morning sickness, or in my case 24-hr sickness, set in right away and slowly I realized that it wasn't the flu afterall. Thank God for my wonderful bosses who understood when I had to come in late or run to the bathroom every few minutes, I definitely would have been fired for sure somewhere else! I'm not going to lie, the first 4 1/2 months of my pregnancy were absolutely miserable! I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, and for some reason he insisted on nestling into my left side and causing me so much pain that it landed me a trip to the emergency room, all this just 12 weeks in! And that, is how he got named "Monster", it was for sure a self fulfilling prophecy...he is still a little monster today (now you understand the title of the blog :) )

After about 20 weeks my nausea went away and I could actually live like a normal person, so we enrolled ourselves in the Bradley Birth Method Class and starting fighting about names. We settled on Sophia Antoinette, named for Joe's Grandma Toni (Antoinette) Goetschel, for a girl and we fought like dogs over a boys names. I liked Oliver or Milo, Joe said those were cats names, He liked Gavin or Colin, I said they sounded bad with our last name. At 22 weeks we had our ultrasound to find out the sex of the's a BOY!( 94% sure...what is that?!)...and the fight continued. We finally settled on Carter, after my Mom came to the rescue and suggested it (Thanks Mom!!) and that was that!

Let's see...that puts us at about 25-26 weeks and I'm feeling wonderful...loading up on McChicken sandwiches and McGriddles and the always tried and true, feel good food...BROWNIES!!! My little panic attacks about labor were slowly alleviated, thanks to our birthing class, and I was loving feeling Carter kick and swim around in there. He could kick so hard that he would kick my cell phone right off my belly! He would kick whenever I listened to the Beatle's and kick to the beat whenever his Daddy played his drums. I knew then that this child was special. All of that was short lived when at 26 weeks, my morning sickness made a hell of a comeback and I was literally brought to the ground by terrible back pain. This is where it truly began...

After 2 weeks of intense pain, sickness, and swollen feet that looked like they were straight out of the Nutty Professor, we finally had a doctor's appointment. When we arrived they tested my urine and took my blood pressure as always, but this time was different, this time they didn't say a word, they just took me back and strapped me to a non-stress test and said to push a button everytime the baby kicked. The baby wasn't kicking. After some juice and sitting still for a little bit, he began to do his thing...kicking wildly around as if he was reorganizing my insides. I thought all our worrying was done until the Doctor came in and he looked extremely concerned. He informed us that in the hour we had been there, my blood pressure went from 148/100 (which is already high) to 161/110. Not only was that a problem but there was tons of protein in my urine, I had gained 20 pounds in two weeks, where at that point I had only gained 10, and my legs were severely swollen. At this point it was obvious, I had pre-eclampsia, but what I didn't understand was how severe it actually was. We were told to go straight to the hospital for monitoring and that the rest of my pregnancy, however long that would be, would be lived out at St. Joe's Hospital. I was 29 weeks pregnant.

We arrived at the hospital at 12:30. My blood pressure spiked to 214/137 and we discovered that the blinding pain in my back was actually my liver...failing. A helicopter was sent from Loyola in Chicago to get me, but by the time they would have gotten there, sadly, I could have been dead. So in rushed a Neonatologist, an OB/GYN, a High Risk OB/GYN, an Ultra-sound tech, 3 NICU nurses, and was overwhelmed by information. A lot of people ask how I felt and I didn't know then, but the one word that comes to mind now is "numb". I couldn't feel anything, I was 29 weeks pregnant and the labor I had dreamed of just flew out the window and here I was being rushed into the OR for an emergency c-section.

The entire thing felt like a dream. Tons of nurses and doctors scrambling around, Joe wandering in dressed in his scrubs, which, by the way, looked adorable, and me, strapped down to a table, numb from the waist down, throwing up into a cup. Now there's a Rockwell moment for ya. Before I had even realized they started, he was here. On June 18, 2008 at 4:22 pm, my precious baby boy had entered the world...crying. I know when a baby is born they usually cry, but at 29 weeks, their lungs usually aren't developed enough to cry, but here was little Carter letting us know he was there. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard, followed by the 3 most heart breaking days of my life.

Carter was whisked away to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and I was transferred to the hospitals ICU (Intensive Care Unit), where I spent 3 days unable to see my baby boy. At that point, I still hadn't processed what had happened and still would put my hand on my belly every now and then just to feel his little feet kicking...when i felt nothing, I was shocked back to reality. So everyone saw Carter except me and I got the usual, "he's so beautiful" "he's so tiny" "congratulations!" comments, when really what everyone was thinking was "he's SO tiny" and "will he make it". It was scary, and definitely an experience I never want to have to go through again. Now enough about me...let's talk about Carter.

This is Joe's first time seeing baby Carter.
He was 3 lbs 2 oz and 15 inches, we were told
he was big for his age....imagine that.

Let me first start off by saying that I do not remember much from this time, which is why I regret never writing this earlier, the mind is a wonderful thing, it helps us forget our tragedies and remember the triumphs, but I will try and tell you the story, as best as I remember. Carter's stay in the NICU was quite the rollercoaster ride. With 24 hours he extubated himself twice only for us to discover that he didn't need a Ventilator. He was put on a nasal cannula and withing 4 weeks was breathing room air...AMAZING. The first time I saw him, I was overwhelmed, to say the least. He had IV's in his umbilical cord, a tube pumping oxygen into his tiny nose, little probes on this chest to monitor his A's and B's (apnea and brady spells: when his breathing or heart rate stopped or slowed), a little cuff on his foot to monitor his blood pressure, a feeding tube down his nose, and a diaper, the size of a maxi pad. Not to mention he was in a little isolette which was completely surrounded by machines and Nurses and papers and all sorts of things. Carter was the smallest and earliest baby they had ever had there.

We quickly got used to all the equipment around him but my heart never failed to skip a beat anytime the alarms went off, even if it was just because Carter had pulled off one of his probes and was holding it tightly in his little fist. He was famous for that, he pulled out feeding tubes, probes, his oxygen, anything he could get his little hands on...little monster. But that was a sign, that I didn't realize at the time, that he was a true fighter.

Holding him with all that equipment was a whole other story. It took two nurses and about 15 minutes to get him out of his isolette and onto my bear chest ( Kangaroo Care). This was the only way I could hold him in the beginning because he was too fragile and couldn't hold his temp long enough. Unfortunately, I have no pictures on my computer of this, but it is something I will never forget. His tiny little body, made heavier by all the tubes and cords, resting peacefully against my chest, and we would both doze off together, while I dreamt of the moment I could hold him in my own home, just him and I.

His stay in the NICU was pretty normal for a preemie but nerve wracking for me. Being a mom is scary, but being a mother to a premature baby who is in the NICU is terrifying. I would go in twice a day, every day, and just sit and watch my little baby, growing bigger and getting stronger everyday...unable to touch or hold him without permission and unable to get even one minute alone. I never thought the biggest question I would have on my mind everyday is "Did he poop today?", it seems funny now but at the time that's all I wanted, I wanted Carter to poop. The reason for this is NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis, or when part or all of the bowel and the intestines die), this could be fatal to a baby and Carter was not able to go on his own and was showing clear signs of NEC, bloated belly, blood in his stool, throwing up, being lethargic. They ran so many tests on him and all came back Negative. We couldn't figure out what the problem was and until we did, they stopped Carter's feeds, which meant he couldn't come home, for a long time. Eventually they figured out that all those symptoms were that of a Milk Protein allergy and they put him on formula, I was heartbroken. I was planning on breastfeeding and had been sent home with instructions to pump every 3 hours and bring the milk in to them to feed Carter, although it seems like nothing, to me, it was my job, it was MY way of taking care of my baby even though he was miles away in the hospital. I did not give up, I researched asked questions, spoke with a GI doc, I was determined. Meanwhile, Carter, at only 33 weeks gestation, drank an entire bottle, something most preemies can not do. Preemie babies have a hard time with sucking, swallowing, and breathing at the same time, but my little fighter drank that bottle down in 5 minutes flat. We were closer to coming home.

Shortly after that, we had the carseat test( the baby is put in it's carseat for a few hours while on monitors to make sure they sats stay up), the CPR class, I was told to stay off dairy and with success, was able to breastfeed Carter, and the night we roomed in with Carter...AH!!!! That night was the scariest night ever! Carter was put on a monitor that was probably from the 70's and VERY touchy, so it went off CONSTANTLY. We had many exciting times in the NICU, weaning off the oxygen, getting off his medications, passing his hearing AND sight screening, graduating from one isollette to another then eventually to a big boy bed :), passing the car seat test, taking his first bottle...and ya...and pooping...but never did we think we'd see the day that our sweet baby could come home with us. I don't think I slept at all that night. I dreamt of the moment I could take him home with me and now...I was completely dreading it!! The next day was his Bella Baby photoshoot and then the day after...I got the call!! Carter was ready to come home!!! It was August 4, 2008...and after 6 weeks and 5 days...we welcomed him to the world!!

It didn't end there, and I'll make this quick. We had weekly weight checks and monthly developmental clinics where he was either too slow or far ahead or just shy of reaching where he needed to be. He had physical therapy for 2 months because of increased muscle tone, (they suspected cerebral palsy...luckily that was not the case) where he progressed at the speed of light. He had to have shots for RSV monthly for 6 months and of everyone nagging "WASH YOUR HANDS!!!!"...But we made it, we made it through all that with Carter fighting his little butt off and living up to his name...The Monster. Carter dodged a lot of bullets and we're truly lucky to have gotten through this all with a I see it...perfect baby. I had my doubts, but not one day goes by that I don't thank the Lord for sending me this miracle. Although he is only 11 months old (can you believe it?!), he has taught me more than any person has in my life...he is an inspiration. Throughout all this, I've really renewed my faith in God. Obviously someone was looking out for me the day of my random check up, or when Carter came close to SO many things...Nec, etc...Someone was there...holding my hand through the whole thing. If you didn't believe in God, or a higher power, before, you will now...This is my miracle baby, whom I will be thankful for for the rest of my life....

Just a couple hours old

Carter Riley
1 month old...and no more oxygen!!

Look...No tubes!!
6 weeks old

His first week home.
Almost 2 months old and weighing in at
4 lbs 5 oz

2 months old
First time in the big boy tub.

3 months old
Eyes as big as ever!

4 months old
Getting chubby..finally

5 months old
Hamming it up.
He has more personality than anyone I know!

6 months old
Christmas Photoshoot
Done by my wonderful mother :)

7 months old
Little baby, big clothes.

8 months old
SHOCKED by what he's reading in the magazine!

9 months old
Prettiest eyes I've ever seen!

10 months old
And all over the place!

Now...just about 11 months old
18 lbs 28 in
He's crawling,
talking (mama, dada, baba, baby, ni ni which is night night, byebye),
pulling up,
he has 6 teeth,
wearing 12 month clothes!!!
He's come a long way...and he's perfect.

One last thing I have to add. There is one person that I could not have done this without. He held my hand through it all, made me laugh when I needed it, and treated me with the utmost kindness. Although at times I thought he didn't get it, he really pulled through. He works his butt off day and night to support our family so I can stay home and be with Carter, and I will forever
appreciate him for that. A wonderful husband and The love of my life...

My husband, Joe.

And I will leave you with this...

told you he was a monster baby :)