Monday, December 8, 2014

Tis' the Season

The Holidays are rapidly approaching and Evan is just delighted! He is very much into Christmas this year and Santa and PRESENTS!!! It is such a joy to see him get all excited over decorating, making cookies and getting & wrapping gifts. I have been anxiously awaiting for Evan to understand this season.

When we went to cut down our tree, Evan kept repeating over and over "Im so excited! Im so excited!" We brought a sled and everything as this was this first year there was snow on the ground while picking out a tree!!!

Evan had a holiday sale at school so he had the opportunity to buy presents for the family. I heard he took his present buying very seriously and never once asked or wanted anything for himself! A true gift giver!! I can't wait to see what he picked out for me. I have a feeling it will be by far my favorite gift.

But as much as it is the "season of giving" it is definitely a time to remember and be grateful for our blessings and the wonderful life we get to live. This is Vincenzo's 1st Christmas and Evan's 1st as an eager Santa fan! This will be a memorable holiday for sure!

Cookie Time!!!


Friday, November 28, 2014

Beyond Thankful

This year has been eventful. My pregnancy was quite the adventure from start to finish including a hospital stay at 36 weeks due to high calcium resulting in a parathyroid removal surgery at 37 weeks. I gained a whopping 60 pounds and gave birth via cesarean to a 9lbs 9oz chunker. As you may have read last month, Vincenzo has his own set of "challenges". Nothing like Evan but enough to cause worry and questions. But I still cannot help but be incredibly grateful for my perfect children and my perfect life.

Perfect. A word that many people strive to be. But what is perfect? I absolutely do not strive to be perfect in society's eyes nor want to be. Perfect has a different meaning depending on who you ask. And to me, perfect is what I want it to be. Perfect is being happy with your life. Perfect is being happy with yourself. Perfect is cherishing every moment with the people you love. I am happily married and have happy children. If you ask me, that's pretty perfect. The saying goes, "There is no such thing as perfect." This is true in respect to society's perfect because that perfect is not real. Perfect is what is perfect to you. I have my perfect so I can't say that it doesn't exist. No, it may not be what many consider perfect but it is to me.

This Thanksgiving is very special to me. My family is complete now that Evan is a big brother. We have 2 new babies in the family other than Vincenzo, who we will get to visit with on this holiday. I am beyond thankful for my family. And that goes for every single person in it. My parents and in-laws have been a huge help since the baby has been born (and obviously prior to). They have given me breaks and I have gotten many full night's sleep. They bend over backwards to help us when we need them and I am incredibly grateful for that.

My husband is truly an amazing person. I am so thankful for everything he does for our family. He works so hard to provide for us and makes it possible for me to stay home with our boys. Something that I do not take for granted and am so privileged to do. I know there are mornings when he's leaving for work before 6am wishing he was the one who got to stay home. He is such an amazing father and if you thought Evan had a nice smile, you should see it when Joe walks in the room. Evan absolutely adores his daddy and Vincenzo too!

I am beyond thankful for the life I have been given and the life I get to lead. I love my normal. I love my perfect family, pets included! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season. Remember to not take the precious things in life for granted. Spend as much time as you can with your loved ones and cherish those moments.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

On the Move

Evan has been army crawling for months now. While I was pregnant most of his crawling was done in his room on his play mat. I was nervous to let him crawl around on the hardwood as I didn't want him to fall over and bump his head. It was obvious he was getting the hang of it and if he actually did fall over he knew to keep his head up to prevent it from whacking the floor. So I let my guard down and let him have free roam of the living room/kitchen area.

Though I never thought it would take 4 years for him to do this, I always wondered how crawling, aquaphor and dog hair would pan out. And yes, just as I presumed, a sticky mess! Luckily Evan's new found motor ability has kept me cleaning the floors constantly. I vacuum, swiffer, mop, then swiffer again to make sure he doesn't collect too much dog hair/dirt on his skin. No matter how much I clean the floors he still ends up finding the spots I missed, so he tends to go right into the bath after a good hour of crawling around. Then ironically enough the floors are sticky with aquaphor when he is done leaving me to cleanup yet again. But hey- totally worth it!

He is able to get onto 4 point (hands and knees) with no problem but has NO balance and tends to face plant when in this position. He will only go on four point when I ask him to as he remembers the result of his balance issue. He will use 4 point to get into a sitting position from laying down. Yet another huge motor milestone. While this transition is also a bit unstable, he has been achieving it more and more with less falls and little spotting.

His favorite thing to do these days while crawling, is investigating the piano room. Yet another floor to clean for him but more area to explore and move around on. It's a new world having him move on his own, something his brother will be doing very soon too! Here is some footage of Evan on the move!

(If you were curious to what Evan says at the end of the video, he said "I want Daniel Tiger". His new favorite show)


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Life with Two Kiddos

Life has been very busy as a mom of two. Evan kept me busy as is, add a newborn and WOW! I am still adjusting, trying to make sure Evan gets just as much attention as before without him feeling jealous. Luckily he has been a very good brother and the jealousy has not surfaced yet. The worst I get is Evan saying "Mama, put baby down," in order to get something he asked for. I chuckle and think it is pretty darn cute that he thinks I cannot multitask!

With a new baby comes times where I find myself "keeping Evan busy" so I can feed the baby or do baby "duties". This usually means Evan is watching a show on the iPad. He is currently obsessed with Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. He sings along with all of the songs, giggles and repeats most of what they talk about on the show. Fortunately he is learning something. Life lessons/morals like taking turns, listening to directions for safety, being calm when need be, thinking happy thoughts when scared and the list goes on. I feel guilty sticking him in front of the iPad but recently he begs me to watch it. Over and over and over. Luckily it is not the only thing he does in a day.

Evan is starting to become more independent and is now army crawling all over the house. It could not come at more of a perfect time. He loves to scoot all over the place with some cars and balls. We make forts with big boxes and sheets over the couch and coffee table. I've made him a road, with masking tape, that he got a kick out of for a few days. He is definitely enjoying the independence and I do not feel as guilty as he is doing something motor, FINALLY!

School is going very well for Evan. He still LOVES it and is the happiest kid as he boards the bus. He loves being a big brother and is quite the helper too! Enjoy the video and current pics of our boys!

Halloween: "Smarty Pants and Tigger"

He refused all other costumes!!

Fall hikin' with the boys

Playing with Bruli! He always tells Bruli to come in his fort!

Such a good big brother!!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Good News

We did not win the "lottery"!!!!!! According to genetics, they did not find the gene which causes tuberous sclerosis in Vincenzo. Yay!!! Even though we are not out of the woods yet, this is a huge relief. And granted genetics are never 100%, this lightens the worry load for now! So in the meantime I will enjoy my babies with a little less worry! Evan keeps us on our toes as is!!!


Friday, October 3, 2014

I Don't Want to Win the Lottery..

We have delt with our fair share of medical challenges with Evan. From a life long diagnosis and a two month NICU stay due to a premature birth including strict skin care regimens, blood transfusions and an emergency hernia surgery; it's enough to last me a lifetime of worry. It hasn't been easy but we have remained strong for Evan to get through the bumps along the way.

Evan's condition is rare. So rare, it's a -one in a million- type of occurrence. For Joe and I to both have this genetic mutation and then to pass it on through a recessive gene, is rare in itself. It would have been easier for us to win the Powerball but instead we won the "genetic mutation lottery". A lottery I was hoping to avoid with our second child. And as we avoided the harlequin "lottery". A new set of challenges have popped up with our newest bundle of joy.

Five days prior to his birth, my high risk doctors found a "mass" in the baby's heart. After seeing these doctors for 9 months (because of my preterm history) and receiving multiple ultrasounds and non-stress tests, I was very surprised this was happening. Well sort of. After everything that happened with Evan, I almost felt it was too good to be true to have a "normal" pregnancy. Yet what is normal when you have to have a surgery to remove your para-thryoid at 37 weeks pregnant? (A whole other story!) But when the doctors started focusing on the baby's heart, mine pretty much stopped. Why? WHY?!?! How could we be going through this again?  How could our baby be going through this? How could something be wrong???? I thought we were done with specialists and medical concerns for at least one of our children.

The day of Vincenzo's birth was still a very happy experience. Though there were still concerns and cardiology would be following him after birth, it was not traumatic like Evan's birth. It was a nice change to actually hear him cry and be able to see and touch him immediately following birth. Being able to touch him moments after was so new to me. His skin was so soft and he was so happy to be snuggled up next to my cheek. Though he did head right to the NICU after he got his kisses from me and my husband. The NICU, an all too familiar place. A place where he was monitored the first day of his life receiving an EKG and heart ultrasound. A place where he was being cared for by the very same nurses and doctors his big brother had. A place I never thought we would step foot in again.

After lots of tests and doctors visiting the baby, they decided to test him for tuberous sclerosis. A genetic condition that occurs spontaneously. This condition causes benign tumors to grow in different organs, primarily the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes. These tumors can causes issues depending upon where they are found. Testing for this is just the first step in trying to figure out what is going on. As of right now the "tumor" in Vincenzo's heart is not causing any issues. While in the hospital he received a brain MRI and kidney ultrasound to check for any abnormalities, all to which came back normal. We are hoping that he does not have this disorder and the mass they found is a random one time thing that will dissipate on its own.

For both of my children to have two different random genetic mutations makes me feel like we won some sort of genetic mutation lottery. I am hoping it is not the case with Vincenzo. We have enough on our plate as is and it is hard enough to see one of our children have to deal with lifelong medical challenges. I cannot imagine both of them having to. Let's hope we don't win this lottery.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dear Evan

A week after Evan was born National Geographic aired the show Extraordinary Humans: Skin. The show followed two young adults living with rare skin disorders, one being Harlequin Ichthyosis. It was amazing to me that a week after Evan was born, after hearing the words "Harlequin Ichthyosis" for the first time in my life, there was an episode detailing the disorder. It documented a young woman affected, Hunter. This was the first time I had heard about Hunter and I was so intrigued to see how she lived her life in a positive light. The show answered many of our questions and we were able to see that it was possible to live a normal life with this disorder.

Hunter is a huge advocate for Ichthyosis Awareness. She recently was on the Katie Couric Show explaining this disorder and what it is like living with it. She has always been a huge motivation for us and for Evan. It wasn't until this past summer that we were able to meet Hunter. I was excited as this was the first time meeting her in person. Though I had never met her before, I felt like I had known her forever. Evan took to Hunter right away too. He seems to be aware that Hunter is just like him. We had a lovely time visiting with her and I am so glad we had the opportunity to meet in person.

I asked Hunter if she had any advice for Evan as he got older knowing she had experienced quite a lot in her life. This is what Hunter had written to Evan:

Over the course of my life thus far, I have come to a number of useful conclusions. Here is advice I have for Evan as he grows!

Dear Evan,
First things first, you are a wonderful person who possesses unbelievable love for people! Never lose it! Sometimes this world can make you forget how valuable you are. You are valuable and loved! There have been so many instances where I forgot the support that I have around me. You will always have people in your corner!
            Be prepared to advocate! A big part of being as special as you are is being able and willing to tell other people about yourself. Remember that most people have never seen a person with Harlequin Ichthyosis before. You don’t have to tell them anything, it is your choice, but I have learned from experience that being more open with people will draw people to you. If you are unafraid to speak up and be you, other people will draw on that strength. I know it is not always easy or pleasant. It takes a great deal of patience and understanding but believe me when I say it is worth it.
            Sometimes though, people won’t be so receptive of who you are. People can be cruel. There were many times that I have been singled out for being different and made to feel ashamed for it. Be aware that some people will do this. However, not everyone is like that. The majority of people you will run into will be willing to at least attempt to understand you. Whatever you do, never assume the worst in a person. There is always more to the story than what you are experiencing.
            Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself! When you do encounter someone who treats you unkindly, don’t be afraid to stand your ground! This goes back to what I said earlier, do not let them tell you that you do not have value because of your skin. Your skin makes you uniquely you, people who ostracize you for it will never understand that. At the same time though, do not let your skin become you.
            I know that sounds strange but trust me, it can happen. When I say not to let your skin become you, I mean do not let it dictate who you are and what you choose to do. You will have to work around it sometimes, but working around it is not the same as letting it make your choices for you.
            Life is not always easy but it is always rewarding! For as much crap that happens, there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel! Do not give up! Perseverance is a trait that people admire and attempt to emulate. Not giving in will not always be easy but you will earn the respect of those around you. You deserve that respect! It is a reflection of your strength!
            You are awesome and I will always be here for you! I cannot wait to see the kind of person you grow into!

                        Your Friend,
                                    Hunter Steinitz

Here is the video of Hunter on The Katie Couric Show