Sunday, July 29, 2012

No More Stitches!

Can you believe that it’s already been nearly 2 weeks since baby G’s surgery?  The days are flying by and she is doing better and better.  This past Wednesday she had her suture removal procedure and it went great.  Much like her operation, we had to go to the hospital early in the AM, register and report to the surgical unit.  This visit felt much different and wasn’t accompanied by nearly as much stress, which was awesome.  Grace was in a great mood since everything took place early in the day.  She is definitely a morning person so the timing was perfect.  We didn’t have our family join us for this procedure because it literally took 30 minutes start to finish.  The thing that took the other 2 hours was the pre-op stuff, getting her medicated and recovery, which they wouldn’t have been able to join us for.  We made sure to sit right near the doors to the surgical area this time so that Dr. C would be sure to find us once everything was finished and luckily he did.  Once the stitches were removed, we went right in to see baby girl and believe it or not she was sleeping comfortably!  Again, this was a much less traumatic experience compared to the last time.

Here are a few pictures of Grace as we waited for the procedure to begin.  The same nurse that work with us for her cleft lip surgery was with us again and was so excited to see baby girl.  So excited in fact that she ran up and laid a BIG kiss right on Gracie’s face when we walked in.  I must admit, I didn’t expect the nurse to run up and lay a smooch on my kiddo but it was sweet that she was so happy to see her. :)

We were in post-op with Grace for about 20 minutes when she woke up smiling.  Once she was up, our nurse spread the word and within a few minutes 6 more nurses came in to see who this little girl was that they had heard so much about.  Me and Georgia couldn’t believe what a celebrity Gracie had become, it was so funny.

Check out this upper lip!  Can you even believe how great it looks?  Her scar will fade over time and these beautiful lips are what she’ll be left with!

Here are a few more pictures of Grace taken over the past 2 weeks. 
She sure has had a lot of visitors.

In other news, baby girl has started napping in her crib.  She seems to love it so far!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Favorite Things - Part II

You may recall a post I shared back in March, when Gracie was just 2 weeks old, detailing our FAVORITE baby items.  Well, it is my pleasure to present you with the second installment of our “favorite things” now that we no longer have a newborn but rather – an infant!  Where did the time go?!  Sheesh!  If you have a favorite baby item that isn’t listed, PLEASE share!  I am always on the hunt for baby and toddler stuff that is safe, fun and/or makes my life as a mom easier. :)

:: NoseFrida Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator ::

With Gracie’s (former) cleft lip, she has been a booger machine since birth and an extremely congested baby!  I first read about the NoseFrida in a parenting magazine listed as a must have according to actress, Christina Applegate. The nose sucker they gave us in the hospital was super crappy and so were all the others we purchased.  I was open to trying anything that would work better.  This booger catcher is a doctor-developed, natural way to keep babies snot free.  You use your own suction to draw mucus out of the baby’s nose but don’t worry – a disposable filter prevents the transfer of bacteria (aka, baby boogers).  It’s easy to clean and BPA/Phthalate-free.

:: Play & Grow Freddie the Firefly Take Along Toy ::

We were given this take along, car seat toy for Gracie’s baby shower and she ADORES it!  Until attaching Freddie the Firefly to baby girl’s car seat, she would often fuss as we drove her to and from grandma’s house.  Since Freddie has joined the caravan, Gracie does great and plays the entire car ride.  The awesome thing about the toy is that there are ribbons and textures that she loves to explore, which stimulate tactile senses.  The wings crinkle and rattle for auditory awareness and the bright colors keep her engaged.  Plus, it’s just cute to hear her cooing as she plays in the backseat. :)

:: Tummy Time Boppy ::

G bought this baby sized Boppy for Gracie to use during the weeks that she is recovering from surgery.  It’s the perfect sized pillow for tummy time, napping, and sitting up.  Grace has gotten some great sitting practice with the TTB and has been able to continue working on her tummy time and rolling over even with stitches in her lip and nose!

:: Vulli Vulli Sophie Giraffe Teether Toy ::

Gracie LOVES her Sophie!  This teething ring is made of 100% natural rubber from the hevea tree, it is safe and natural, Phthalate-free, and is non-toxic/not made with vinyl.  The Sophie giraffe is painted with non-toxic paint as well, which is awesome.  Some of the reasons I think Grace loves it so much is that it is easy to grip and has a unique texture, it is very chewy and she enjoys staring at Sophie’s little face!  Warning… it is a bit pricey considering its size but in my opinion, it's totally worth the money.  Special thanks to our friend Ashley for getting Gracie her first Sophie toy!

:: Children’s Books by Chris Van Dusen ::

These are my absolutely FAV children’s books because they get such a reaction out of Gracie.  I don’t know if it’s the rhyming stories or the awesome colorful illustrations but baby G goes nuts whenever we read anything by Chris Van Dusen.  I came across the books on and they were all very reasonably priced.

:: SwaddleMe Muslim Blankets ::

These blankets are a must have in summer months.  They are cool, soft and breathable, which is perfect on hot summer days.  The blankets are 100% cotton and come in the most adorable patterns.  Grace has to be wrapped in a blanket to fall asleep and these blankets have been perfect for this now that summer is here PLUS these are the only blankets that I can swaddle her in that she can’t get out of!

:: Bumbo Baby Seat ::

Much like the Boppy Pillow, this is a well-known MUST have for all parents.  Your little babe has to have neck control before you can use it but once you can, it will be a lifesaver for you!  We sit Gracie in her Bumbo when she watches her little baby shows with us and we also use it on the dining table during dinner so that she can join us.  We no longer have to take turns eating dinner while one of us tends to baby and we actually get to eat warm food!  BONUS: I would also suggest purchasing the Bumbo Seat Play Tray once your baby starts eating.  It’s a great alternative to a highchair and is much more mobile! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dear Gracie

Hello my beautiful girl.  You have had quite the exciting week!  Just 6 days ago you underwent cleft lip surgery and you did amazingly well.  You aren’t going to remember your time in the hospital, or the many appointments you went to with mama and mommy in the months leading up to July 18th 2012, but what I do hope you remember feeling is all the love that has been showered over you this week and all the days before.  This blog is your baby book and when you are a little older I want you to read this story and know just how much you were loved and cared for by everyone around you during this time. 

Your mommies started preparing for your hospital stay about a week before the big day.  Our bags were packed and we were ready but we were also a little sad.  You see, from the moment you came out of mommy’s tummy we loved you just the way you were.  You were beautiful and perfect in every way.  Your smile made us happy and was loved by your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone else who met you!  We knew that repairing your lip was the best thing for you because it would allow you to eat much easier and we knew that overtime the cleft in your lip would expand and would affect your speech.  Because of these things we made the decision to connect the two sides of your beautiful little lip.

The morning of your operation, we arrived at the hospital bright and early and guess what?  Your Nani, grandma, grandpa and uncle Nick all beat us there.  They were so excited to see you off that they were already in the lobby with coffee and breakfast when we walked in.  You were cuddled and kissed while mommy checked us in and you were in the best mood.  For the 30 minutes that we all got to visit, you laughed and smiled the entire time.  After everyone had a chance to love on you, we headed down to the surgical waiting area.  This is when the family had to say their goodbyes.  There were tears and a lot of kisses as everyone took turns giving you a squeeze.  They all knew that from this point forward mama and mommy would be the only one’s to stay with you.

Mommy held you as we all went to the pre-op room.  The nurse that was helping us thought you were the most adorable little girl and loved your smile.  She brought you a hospital gown to wear but it was way too BIG.  It was the only one they had so mama had to get creative and find a way to keep it on you.  The gown had pictures of little tigers on it, which we loved because when you get excited we always say that you sound like a little tiger!  We got you dressed and changed your diaper before laying you down in your crib (that happened to looked a lot like a little jail cell).  While this was going on, you continued to be as happy as always and really had no idea what was going on.  Even though you hadn’t had anything to eat since 4am you were still all smiles and had the family in the next room ohhing and ahhing.  It was a good thing that you were doing so great because your mamas had very heavy hearts.  We were strong all morning but once we got to this room the heartache set in.  We knew we only had a few more minutes with you.  We also knew that you would be taken from us very soon and that it would be the last time we kissed your little lips and looked at the face that we loved so very much.  Together we all prayed and asked God and grandpa Rudy to watch over you and keep you safe during your surgery.  Knowing that your guardian angels would take care of you made mama and mommy feel so much better.

The day before the operation, mama had lunch with a friend and her husband who was an anesthesiologist at the same hospital you were set to have your operation.  He looked into who the anesthesiologist was going to be for you and called to let us know that she was one of the best in the practice and that you were in very good hands.  After meeting her and seeing how good she was with you, we felt better about handing you over.  This was one of the most difficult parts of the day.  Dr. C came in with the nurse to let us know that it was time and that he would walk us out while you were taken into surgery.  After kissing your sweet face, we made our exit.  I looked back one last time as we left and caught a glimpse of the top of your fuzzy little head as you were being carried away.  I probably shouldn’t have looked back because when I did my heart just couldn’t take it.  I wanted to be with you, I wanted to be holding you.  I didn’t want you to wake up scared or alone.  Luckily mommy was there and she handles difficult situations much better than mama.  She hugged me and assured me that everything was going to be ok and as scared as I was, I had faith that everything was going to be ok too.

Dr. C told us that the surgery would take 2.5 hours and that it was very important that we not leave the waiting area because he needed to be able to reach us at any time.  We joined grandma, grandpa; Nani and uncle Nick in the smaller of the 2 waiting rooms and settled in for the morning.  The next several hours went by incredible slow.  Grandpa George was so worried about you that he updated us on the time just about every 20 minutes and he even spilled an entire cup of coffee on grandma’s lap!  He just loves you so much and couldn’t sit still.  Eventually 2.5 hours came and went and we hadn’t heard anything.  Then we approached the 3-hour mark and still nothing.  To be honest baby girl, we all started to worry.  Around 3 hours and 15 minutes we heard a page over the speakers requesting that the parents of Grace Roybal report to the surgical unit.  Mommy and me immediately sped off to find you.  When we arrived we were told that Dr. C went to the first of two waiting rooms and when we weren’t there he assumed we had left… like we would EVER leave our precious girl!  No way!       

When we walked into your room the nurse holding you was so relieved to see us.  She handed you over and we both held you close and let you know that your mamas were there and weren’t going anywhere.  You were heavily sedated and even though you couldn’t really focus in on us, you seemed to know that you were with us because you fell right to sleep.  After about 15 minutes the nurse commented that she could see a visible difference in your demeanor and comfort level once you were in our arms.  Me and mommy took turns holding you while quietly examining your new little face, and then looking at each other and then back at you.  You looked different but still the same.  You were swollen and congested and sounded raspy from the tubes that they had to put down your throat during surgery.  Your stitches were covered in dried blood but already your lip looked AMAZING!  We couldn’t take our eyes off of you. 

After you had some time to rest and get a little more comfortable, we fed you your first bottle using the zip-n-squeeze.  You had a bit of a difficult time drinking from the bottle at first because it required you to swallow instead of suck.  Both mommy and me felt physical pain just placing the mouth of the bottle on your fragile and swollen lips.  Despite the discomfort and pain that we knew you were feeling; you drank your entire bottle like a CHAMP!  We were so proud of you.  After you fed, we were wheeled off to our family room to begin your recovery. 

Although you were such a strong little fighter those first couple of hours after the operation were the most painful for you and the most difficult for me and mommy to witness.  We could see that you were trying so hard to find comfort in our arms but your little face was just so sore and swollen that you had to cry out.  At one point, your crying opened a stitch and your nose began to bleed pretty badly.  This was by far the scariest moment for your mamas.  We didn’t know what to do, there were no nurses around and in my panic I couldn’t manage to work the phone!  After what seemed like an eternity (but in reality was about 2 minutes) our nurse came in to check on you.  She checked your nose and lip and assured us that you were ok and that all of your stitches were still in tact.  She said that getting a bloody nose following cleft repair is completely normal.  When she left I was very upset and both mommy and I agreed that if a spontaneous and very bloody nose were “normal”, a heads-up would have been nice…

Following a long and much needed nap you woke up a new baby.  You were rested, much happier and appeared to be in a little less pain.  The timing couldn’t have been better because your family was dying to see you!  Nani, grandma, grandpa, uncle Nick, uncle Dom and auntie Ashlynne all came to your recovery room to shower you with LOVE.  Uncle Dom was amazed with how great your lip looked and your grandma’s couldn’t wait to hold you in their arms.  Auntie Ashlynne brought you the cutest owl and card and actually got a couple of smiles out of you.  Your little bed was covered in stuffed animals and sweet messages given to you by Andrea, Becca, Kelley, Erin and Felicia.  We were even treated to dinner courtesy of SmileFest New Mexico, which was so touching to your mamas!  Grandpa, like the rest of us still had a very heavy heart and it was difficult for him to see you bruised and swollen.  He explained to us that he can handle a lot of things but seeing his hita in pain was not one of them.  His heart hurt so much he cried.    

That evening as mommy and I prepared you for bed, a new nurse came on the floor that was such an amazing help to us.  She showed us how to care for and clean your wound, she checked in on you often and she came running to the rescue when you pulled out your IV and thank goodness because that too was a shocking and scary experience.  You slept with mommy who snuggled you until you fell asleep while I slept on the couch.  Every couple of hours throughout the night we woke you for feedings and medicine but other than that you did amazingly well.  Your mommy was an incredible comfort to you on this night and even tried to let me sleep during some of the middle of the night check-ups.  She was such a good mommy bear.

Bright and early the morning following your operation, we received a visit from Dr.C.  He checked your stitches and talked to us about your progress.  He gave us the WONDERFUL news that we would be able to take you home later that day.  While we were nervous to take you off all the machines that told us how you were doing, we also knew that Dr. C wouldn’t give us the ok to go home unless he was 100% sure that you would be ok.  Before we even had the chance to call your grandparents with the good news they were knocking on our door.  You are such a blessed little girl to have Nani, grandma and grandpa.  They have been there since the very first appointment when we received the news that you were going to be born with a cleft lip.  They were there crying happy tears when you came into the world and they have been there everyday since.  Your mommy and mama couldn’t have gotten through this week without them so it was only fitting that they joined us for breakfast in Rachel’s Courtyard on our last morning at the hospital.  The courtyard in the Children’s Center was absolutely BEAUTIFUL and you really loved exploring the grounds and smelling the flowers in the beautiful sunshine.  It was a lovely morning and a very peaceful way to say farewell to this leg of our journey. 

We came home to a wonderful surprise from auntie Angela and your cousins; Rudy, Devin, Ociel and Mia.  They made you a glittery pink welcome home poster with special messages just for you.  They also gave you a bag of new books to read with mama during your recovery.  It was the biggest surprise and such a wonderful welcome home for our little family.

Baby girl, you have been so amazingly strong through all of this and your mamas could not be more proud of you.  You made it 4 1/2 months without getting even so much as a runny nose, which is just what we prayed you would do.  You have remained happy and patient at the dozens of appointments that we have dragged you to.  You so quickly forgave us for putting you through such a painful surgery and even found the strength to smile for us so soon after your operation.  You have somehow managed to tolerate those annoying pedi-wraps that you have to wear and even though it is painful you are eating as much as you can for us.  How did we get so lucky?  How did we get so blessed? From the moment we first saw your sonogram picture and you were just the size of a poppy seed, we have loved you.  When we found out that you were going to be born with a cleft lip our hearts grew even bigger and for all the days of your life, we will continue to love and protect you.

You were beautiful when you came into the world and you are beautiful today.  Thank you for being such a blessing in our lives. 

Love, Mama & Mommy

Monday, July 16, 2012

Video Round Up

How has it already been 6 weeks since I last posted video?!  I swear we live in a time warp.  I don’t know that I’m going to be able to manage posting family videos every other month forever but for now Gracie takes 2-3 naps a day and that helps. ;)

Here are a few of our favorite videos of the stinker dinks from June and July.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Bucket List #2: Lavender Festival

In 4 days time our little gal is going to be back home, in recovery and cooped up for at least 7 days.  Knowing Gracie and how antsy she can be when we spend just the weekend indoors, I have a feeling that it may be a LONG week for her (and us).  With this in mind, we really wanted to get out this weekend and do something as a family that involved sunshine and fresh air.  I had heard about the NM Lavender Festival before and wanted to go last year but it was canceled due to a bad grow year.  When I read online that this year's festival was a go I was all over it.  The Village of Los Ranchos hosts the festival, which is in the Valley.  Me being a “Valley girl” born and raised, I love doing anything that brings me back to the place I grew up!

New Mexico can get ridiculously hot this time of year so it was our mission to get out of the house early and beat the afternoon heat.  We ended up heading out at 9:30am, which is still shocking to me and following a short shuttle to the park we arrived within an hour.  The festival was so much fun!  They had an all-day Valley Flowers Farm petting area that had the cutest baby goats, chicks, ducks and alpacas.  Gracie loved the little animals and had zero fear of getting up close and touching them.  We of course kept her behind the fence and didn’t let her pet the animals (hello helicopter parents…) but she didn’t know the difference and was thoroughly fascinated.

One of the other reasons I wanted to get to the Lavender Fest early was to scratch another activity off our Summer Fun Bucket List!  I read that the Susie & Friends Family Music Group was going to perform at 11am and one of the things G and me really wanted to do with baby this summer was have some family music time.  The group was so much fun and while I think Grace enjoyed listening to songs like BINGO and You Are My Sunshine, she was much more interested in watching all of the other kiddos dancing around under the tent.  She didn’t take her eyes off of them the entire time we were there.

Following music time, we took a break under the big tent to listen to the Muddy River Band.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect because as soon as we sat down Grace took a giant poop!  After a quick diaper change, a couple of songs and a bottle we headed to the food area.  Me and G chowed down on some gourmet BBQ before heading back to the shuttles.  As we shuttled to our Jeep and Grace sat on G’s lap in her car seat, I couldn't help but give thanks for all of our blessings.  Grace is such a good girl and a happy little baby.  There is literally nothing we can’t do with her because she enjoys it all.  While I am nervous about her upcoming surgery, for one afternoon I think we all got to do something that took our minds off of it.  It was a pretty great day.  

On a side note, G is at her softball game, which means it’s just me and baby girl AND she has been asleep for 2 hours!  She never takes naps for this long and this late in the day.   I’m not tired, the house is clean and I’ve blogged… now what?

2 down, 12 to go!

1.    Take baby girl swimming for the first time
2.    Go to a Music Together family music class
3.    Visit the Public Library to get Gracie her very own library card
4.    Take Gracie to her first Little Gym class
5.    Go on a picnic at a park we’ve never visited
6.    Take our first family trip to Penasco
7.    Visit grandma and grandpa’s Senior Center
8.    Begin baby sign language lessons
9.    Take Gracie to Toddler Time at ¡Explora!
10. Visit a city park to take baby girl swinging
11. Spend an afternoon visiting the Nature Center
12. Take a Gymboree Play & Learn class
13. Complete an art project with Gracie
14. Visit the Botanical Gardens

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Finally finished.

Yes, my kiddo is 4 months old and yes we started working on her nursery in November of last year… but we’re finally finished and that’s all that matters, right?  Hehe! When baby girl was born (2 weeks early) I still had shelves I needed to install, we were still on the hunt for a toy box, there was wall art that needed to be hung, we didn’t have a spot for Gracie’s button art and baby books were everywhere.  I am happy to report that we finally finished our little gal's room yesterday and we love the way it came out.  I can't wait to see her play, read and learn in this happy and colorful little room.   

Friday, July 13, 2012

{This Moment}

{This Moment} – A Friday ritual.  A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

5 days and counting…

Until Gracie’s cleft lip surgery!  I honestly can’t believe that it’s almost here.  I remember the first time we met with Dr. C and he told us that the operation would take place when Gracie was 4 ½ months old.  G and I both thought that seemed so far away – yet here it is.  We had our final pre-op appointment this past week in which we met with our nurse to run through the “G Day” play by play.  She reviewed what we will need to do to prepare to bring Gracie home as well as all the meds that we will need to pre-fill this weekend.  Me being the chronic “over preparer” that I am, I’ve already gone out and purchased several jugs of Pedialyte (the only thing Gracie can drink pre/post operation), I’ve purchased back-up formula, we’ve done non-stop laundry, our wonderful cleaning lady is coming on Friday to completely disinfect the house and things at work are squared away.  The only thing we really have left to do is pack our hospital bag. 

We report to the hospital at the crack of dawn Wednesday morning, followed by a stop at In-patient Registration and then we’re off to the surgical waiting area.  Our parents are going to be with us and my cousin Nick (who is like a brother) will be there bright and early as well.  He adores Gracie and insisted on bringing us breakfast.  It was so nice of him to offer but I doubt either of us will be in the mood to eat… The operation will take 2-3 hours and following a short wait we’ll be able to go in and see baby girl.  We have been warned that her face will be very swollen; she will be in pain and may be a little shaky.  I’m trying not to think about this too much because when I do it makes my cry.  Dr. C said that we should plan to spend at least one night at the hospital in a family room but that we will likely be able to take Grace home the following day.

Aside from being nervous for the operation and Gracie’s recovery, I think the things we are most worried about is adequately feeding baby girl post-op and the Pedi-wraps she is going to have to wear.

For 7 to 10 days immediately following surgery, Grace is going to have to wear special arm restraints called Pedi-wraps.  The wraps are made to prevent babies from putting hands, fingers, or objects into the mouth following surgery.  We are allowed to take the restraints off for short periods of time throughout the day as long as we are closely watching Gracie, but she will basically have to wear them 24/7.  I can only imagine how hard it’s going to be for her to go 10 days without bending her elbows or sucking her thumb.  My poor baby. :(

We will likely feed Grace with a special Zip-n-Squeeze bottle for 7-10 days following the operation.  She isn’t allowed to suck, use a pacifier, nipple or regular bottle for the 10 day period.  Once she is cleared by Dr. C, we can resume normal feeding.  We were given both a Zip-n-Squeeze bottle as well as a syringe for feeding.  We’ll have to wait and see how her swelling is before we really know which method of feeding is best.

Just as we did back in December when we found out about Gracie’s cleft lip, we have allowed ourselves time to worry and cry but we have kept both of these emotions in check.  This is our reality and we know that Gracie is going to do just fine.  We are so blessed to have a healthy and happy baby and she couldn’t be in better shape, pre-op, than she is right now.  We thank God for that.  The next 2 weeks will be hard but with our support system and your prayers, we will get through it.
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