Saturday, May 30, 2009

The "Almost" New Life

One week ago I turned in the first draft of my MPH project report, finished my fieldwork hours, completed my independent study course, and stopped pumping. So this week, I've finally had what I would call some normal days with Bridgette.

I didn't have to write anything more than a grocery list, so I didn't write blogs, didn't type reports, didn't even turn on my computer most days. I holed up and partook of some seriously fun home-time.

A few of our "normal life" activities:

-Visiting bookstores
-Buying books
-Reading, for fun!
-Star Trek movie with Jeff
-Pa Johnson's birthday party
-Sitting outside in the shade for hours
-Eating grass (I abstained)
-Visiting friends
-Exercising almost every day
-Cooking homemade yummies
-Eating out
-Playing the piano
-Going to the dentist for the first time in (guess)

And the best news of all? My graduate committee responded to my initial draft with positive feedback, suggesting I am ready to defend. Surprise of all surprises! So my defense date has been pushed up to June 16. I will still have to make post-defense corrections, scribe a fieldwork report, and fill out various forms before graduation in August, but I'm starting to see the light at the end of the program.

In Bridgette news, she's feeding herself. Actually, except for bottles, she refuses to be fed in any other way. We're grateful for our foraging dogs who come running every time they hear the sound of Cheerios. Her favorite is when we plop half a banana on her high-chair tray. She emits a very loud laughing noise, known as "The Conquering Chortle," between each bite. She's also fond of green beans and chicken soup. Yes. You read correctly. She feeds herself chicken soup. With her fingers.

Here is the precious one, with a pink bow that did not last the night.

Bri and Jeff with Pa Johnson at his birthday dinner at Jim's Family Restaurant.

Playing Phase 10 outside with our friends the Read's. Bridgette was tuckered out and fell asleep in my arms. So rare.

I guess it was pink-baby week because we dressed her in this cute little number for church Sunday. She mostly left her hat on.

Some fellow Hirschsprung's friends were kind enough to send Bridgette a Taggies blanket. Which she loves. Those who have read the blog a while know that Bri is a big fan of all things "tag." The blankie is now on her my-favorite-toys list.

And she really loves this soccer ball too (pictured once before). Mostly she likes to slap it with her hands, but we're trying to teach her to roll it. Besides attempting to roll a ball, Bridgette now claps on command, raises her arms when you say, "Yay!" and she just started playing Peek-a-Boo yesterday, as shown in the bottom two pictures. She doesn't quite cover her eyes, but it's still pretty cute.

I think these two videos speak for themselves, but just in case, they are explicitly titled.

1) I-am-bouncing-on-Mom's-lap-and-giggling-because-it's-an-unusual-game-and-very-funny-and-also-I-get-a-kiss-from-Piper-when-I'm-upside-down.

2) I'm-playing-with-Dad-and-he's-trying-to-get-me-to-roll-the-ball-but-I-prefer-to-clap-and-put-my-arms-in-Yay!-position-and-try-my-luck-at-Peek-a-Boo.

Picnic in the Backyard

We have really enjoyed the spring weather and have spent many fine afternoons in the backyard beneath our Globe Willow.

We had a little picnic last week and were fascinated to see babs eat off a plate... like the dogs. She picked it up and licked it off!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Surgery Date & Sundry

Here is Bridgette with her favorite new toy.

Here is Bridgette with her other favorite new toy. The Salt Lake Real donated the proceeds of our purchase to Primary Children's Medical Center (PCMC) where Bri had her surgery.

And speaking of... today Bridgette went back to PCMC to visit with her surgeon Dr. Black. The first thing the technician did was weigh her. She came in at 21 lbs flat. I can only imagine that the scale rounded up, and also, that Bridgette was rounded out with some milk and a wet diaper because yesterday she only weighed 19 lbs 10 oz. Alright "only" is not the most accurate word (heavy baby), but I don't think she gained 1+ pounds in the last day.

She was pretty intimidated by the hospital and played her very serious / shy face all day. But she DID like the crinkly paper on the examination table.

Dr. Black said Bridgette can have her surgery any time. So, it was just a matter of coordinating schedules. Due to summer travel plans, etc., the first date that worked for both of us was July 14. Bridgette will be checked in July 13 for surgery prep, and she'll have her pull-thru the morning of the 14th. She'll be just over 1 year old. The open-abdominal surgery is expected to last between 3-4 hours. Dr. Black will do the pull-thru, remove her colon & non-functioning ileum, and close the ileostomy during the same surgery. She will be in the hospital about 5 days.

In other random news, we went up in the mountains this weekend. It was fun. The river was swollen from all the spring snowmelt, although it still looks like any old river unless you're familiar with its average height.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Date with the Surgeon

...not to be confused with "surgery date."

Bridgette is old enough and strong enough to play with her ileostomy bag, and yes, even rip it off. Yesterday she grabbed it and yanked hard (through her onesie, by the way) and the wafer came off clean. Of course, nothing else was clean at that point.

For those moms out there, laughing in sweet rememberence of your stories with little ones and poop, rest assured it is not the same kind of evil moment if you have to change an ileostomy dressing on a 10-month old. It is considerably more evil. Those of you HD moms reading this blog know that. And I bet you're not laughing.

I wasn't laughing either. It was quite a challenge bathing, cleaning, and redressing the wound... and everything else by the time we were done. Bridgette seemed determined to prevent me from successfully adhering a new wafer to her skin, and she kept scratching her stomach around her stoma until it bled. After a two hour process fixing that one little yank, I put Bridgette down for a nap and, in a moment of weakness and frustration, called her surgeon.

Bri will visit Dr. Black a week from today for a consultation. If we're lucky, he will allow us to schedule a surgery date for sometime this summer. She's not quite the 20 lbs he requested before we return for advisement, but her constant fiddling with her medical attachment is making what has always been difficult, suddenly much more difficult.

As to everything else in our lives... it's been and will continue to be a busy week.

Friday: Jeff and I went on the longest date away from babs yet (except for our semi-stressful overnighter last December). We went to see Thoroughly Modern Millie at the SCERA. The show was not stellar, but it was fun.

Bridgette spent the evening with Uncle Paul and Aunt Brenda and cousin Aeris. Aeris gave her sweet puppy kisses.

Saturday: Bridgette and Jeff gave me a mother's day gift of three hours at the spa. It was wonderful! I was fully pampered with a massage, facial, and pedicure.

Sunday: I don't really want to talk about the first half of Sunday. It wasn't the greatest. We spent the second half of Sunday at Aunt Sarah's house with the rest of the Johnson family. We had a nice dinner and a relaxing afternoon together.

Monday: I spent all day doing schoolwork and then we went to Aunt Heidi & Uncle Jeremy's to celebrate cousin Ellie's second birthday. Here's Bridgette cuddled up with Aunt Sarah.

Ellie turned shy about blowing her candles out in front of everyone. It was pretty cute.

Here are the twins holding their munchkins. Ellie was giving Bridgette a kiss. Bridgette was very tired. She stayed up late a lot this week.

Tuesday: More schoolwork all day. In the evening we went back to Aunt Sarah's house to watch the finale of The Biggest Loser with some of Jeff's siblings.

Wednesday: More schoolwork all day. I'm taking a break to write this blog, then it will be back to the schoolwork. Of course, when I say "schoolwork all day" what I mean is, "schoolwork all day punctuated with feeding, entertaining, changing, and otherwise raising a child."

Extra: Bridgette "dances" to almost all music now. I gave her a musical card that I received on my last birthday from Paul & Brenda. When you open it, it plays the Star Wars overture. She kept opening the card and swaying to the music.

p.s. - Happy birthday Gramma Hoose!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Oh yeah!

Also, I think Piper is being stalked by a red-winged hawk. Some of you are scoffing right now, but it's been circling our house whenever Piper is outside. I was in the backyard with Bridgette on Wednesday, and it swooped down into the yard at us. It was big too! Got my mama-hackles all fired up. Made me think of Planet Earth... how the young always get picked off first. Not in my backyard, Hawkey!

10 Months Today

Happy 10 months of being baby, Baby!

It's hard to believe Bridgette's been in this world longer than she was in my tummy. I hope she's had a good life so far. Every little milestone (and I do mean the tiniest ones) make me reflect how we're doing as parents and how we could do better. I sure am glad this little person lives with us. She's cute.

Here's a little interview I recorded earlier today, before I put Bri down for her morning nap.

Me: "Hey there, Sweet Monkey. Would you like to tell everyone about your new skills?"

Bridgette: "Sure Mom. You know, I understand more words every day, so I like to try to associate repetitive actions with their corresponding terms."

"Here are some of my favorites:

"When you say 'Bonk,' I bash MY forehead really hard against YOUR forehead. Bonk. Bonk. Bonk. I think this is very amusing. Don't you? I can tell you do because you're laughing.

"When you say 'Clap,' I look at you funny. But I know what it means and clap as soon as you turn your back.

"When you say 'Stand,' I get really mad. I'll do it because you make me, but I don't like it one bit. Who wants to stand up when I can sit lazily on my butt all day? It's so much work.

"When you say 'Wooooo!' I get flipped over backward, and all I can think is 'Again! Again!' If I lean my head back, you know what I want. You're pretty smart.

"When you say 'Swallow!' I have no idea what you're saying really, but it startles me so badly that I stop choking and swallow my food. Eating is such a hassle. I may have a good pincer grip, and I may even feed myself Cheerios, but swallowing? What a nuisance.

"When you say 'Dad-Dad-Daddy,' I say, 'Dad-Dad-Daddy' too. I'm not sure what it means exactly, but it sure makes that big man with the beard smile!

"Oh, one more thing. When you lift me up to look in the mirror, I see how adorable I am, and I just have to wave hello to myself. You chubby-cheeked cherub you! You might mistake my self-salutation for well, ok, it looks like I'm swirling my wrist, but I assure you, I am communing with me. And I'm so worth it.

"Anything else Mom? No? Then can I have some 'ma?' I'm thirsty and need a bottle of 'ma' before my nap."

The photo below shows Bridgette in a classic "half-stand."

What do you know? The next photo documents an evening weigh-in, which means there was a little food in Ye Olde Tummy Shoppe, but here is proof that Bri is 19 lbs 2 oz-ish! Based on history, that means she will fluctuate between 18 and 20 for the next month or two.

For those who do not know, Bridgette's surgeon said she should come back to visit him once she weighed between 20-25 lbs. At that point he will determine whether her body is large enough for her second surgery. So even though she's a healthy-looking chubster (who, despite her rolls, is still under the 50% mark) we've been anxious for her to grow, grow, grow!

Here is the view from Bridgette's room. It's a nice expanse of lawn (unpictured), houses, lake, and mountain.

And this was one of those lucky priceless moments. The sun ducked a few seconds after I took this photo. Umm... it's priceless because that is her Daddy, not some random scary person in the shadow.

Heheh. The following photo was debatable for this post. It shows Bridgette's cute Sunday dress. And my (cute?) after-church loungewear.

And we'll end this session with some photos and video in a blue plastic tub. Because blue plastic tubs are lots of fun.

Friday, May 1, 2009

On becoming shy.

With the disaster drill over, I don't know what to write. Although nothing "exciting" happened, I've been busy munging data 7 hours a day for the last week. (And neglecting my baby, until today when I gave us both a much needed break from work. See photos above).

Thursday morning I was in charge of the Shake, Rattle & Roll After Action Conference. All the disaster drill agencies came together to review evaluation recommendations, discuss lessons learned, and figure out how to implement corrective actions. I have run many meetings, but I was oddly nervous for this one. Fortunately, it went well. Nothing like a fake disaster to help you bond with the county's first responders.

Heidi (and Ellie) were kind enough to take Bridgette for the morning during my conference. Heidi captured these two great photos below.

We had a family dinner on Sunday at Kelly's house, and no, I am not speaking about myself in the third person. Jeff's brother Mark married a woman named Kelly, so there are two Kelly Johnson's in the immediate family. I am technically Kelly Johnson the 2nd, as they have been married longer. I've only known a few Kelly's my whole life, so it's funny to me that there are two Kelly Johnson's in the same family.

It was at this family gathering that Bridgette demonstrated shyness in the most darling, pitiful way. Being shy is new to her. She's been around lots of people from day 1, surrounded first for weeks at the hospital, then joining me at both school and work. Then, at a class reunion last Thursday before graduation, she bowed her head and hid her face when one of my friends said hello. She did it again at the family dinner. She was sitting alone, and with everyone watching her, she dropped her head and stared at the floor. "If I can't see them, they can't see me." It's cute and sad all at once.

Here she is with Uncle Paul after her shy-spell evaporated.

And honestly, I've been working so hard on evaluation reports that we didn't do anything fun until today when we went outside and ate sticks. Yum!

Chewy and Piper tended Bridgette while I pulled weeds in the garden. The photo of them below is one of my favorites of all time.

Bridgette's other front tooth broke through yesterday. Now she has three teeth up top, two on bottom. Oddly, her top teeth have come in right to left, not middle out.