Friday, December 26, 2008

Life on the Coast

Locations of visitors to this page
We are having such a sweet time in Gualala. Simon is loving it up here and our easy schedule of beach walks, food, movies and lots of laying around. And it's really scary to be far from the hospital. Simon has been a little more symptomatic the past couple of days and I'm terrified and furious. He's been panting a little and today started to break a little sweat. I paged Cardiology and the doc on call basically said it's normal for him to pant while he's active because his body is trying to compensate for his dimished cardiac output. If he's panting all the time, then that's a different story i.e. not so good. For right now it seems to be just with activity. We're planning to stay until Monday but I'm really steeling myself to pack up in a hurry and get the hell out of Dodge.

We've DVR'd all the Harry Potter movies and have been watching them lately, in chunks. I had a funny thought this morning that Simon is like Harry Potter. He survived an attempt on his life in early August and now the evil spirits keep trying to get him but he keeps battling them off. It feels like Dementors are always swirling around like the the Turkey Vultures we see up here on the coast, though. I hate it. I hate the spector of death always at his neck.

One of my mom's friends, a Yoruba Priestess, essentially said the information she's getting about him is that he's going to make it for now but that every 7 years he's going to have to decide whether or not to stay here. I so wish I could just wholeheartedly believe her and chill for 7 years. I could put up with so much hell cheerfully if I knew he wasn't going to die from his symptoms for at least 7 years. I could battle for his life again if I knew to steel myself but what feels like the daily assault is sometimes so exhausting.

(3 days later)

It looks like Simon is having a little growth spurt! He's been very active, very cute, liking tummy time and in fact fell asleep on his belly the other day. Laura heard a "gallop" in his heartbeat a few days ago and we both freaked out a little. She called Cardiology and they said that actually it might be a sign that his heart muscle is thickening, which we want, and not to be worried to much and just keep a close eye on him. We would really, really love that...
Shimmy in his fancy Xmas outfit

Look what we got for Xmas!

Sweet shot of the kids

Shimmy's first Christmas tree

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Locations of visitors to this page
Simon seems to be enjoying the holidays so far. He has now had his first Solstice, his first First Night of Hanukkah (he LOVED it) and his first early Xmas with my Dad and Stepmom. On Saturday, my Dad and Nola came over for a pre-Christmas/Hanukkah get together. We had lunch and opened presents and Simon was so happy and content and playing for the 2 or so hours. He got some very cute things :-)
Sunday we went to a Latke Party with about 20 people. He was a little fussy and seemed a little overwhelmed but when it was time to light the menorah and sing, Simon stood stock still in my lap, eyes wide as saucers and watched everyone. Then the men started doing the hora right in front of us and he watched with big eyes as I bounced him in my lap to the music. As soon as the festivities were over and things returned to regular party hubbub, he was done.
We stopped by the hospital today to drop off cookies for the staff there and had a really nice reunion. The annex was closed due to low admissions, so we got to visit bed 22. I didn't feel even the slightest twinge of icky feelings there. As Laura said, "that's where he started to heal". Bed 4 in the regular ICU is a whole other story. Ugh.

We had another sweet evening tonight with some family as you can see:

Here's my latest dream life that Laura cooked up for me...I work 4 days a week at my awesome new day job, bake up a storm on Fridays and sell my goodies at the Farmer's Market around the street on Saturdays. I've been baking lately and I forgot how much I missed it. Someday I'll find a way to do more of the meantime I'll enjoy the holidays as an excuse to fatten everyone up :-)

We're off to Gualala tomorrow (up the Mendocino coast) to hang with my Mom and Stepdad in their cabin. We're looking forward to 4-5 days of eating, watching movies, hot tubbing, beach and general chillness. Ahhhhh.....

Friday, December 19, 2008

Medical Update and more

Got a call from HunkyPants this morning. All of Simon's tests came back normal with his BNP going lower.


We went from 1457 from two weeks ago down to 1149 this past week. I'm loving it. Shimmy's BNP can go as slowly as it wants so long as it keeps going down. Very very very pleased about that. We are also moving forward with a Gtube placement sometime early in the new year. I need to double check but I'm pretty sure that it's an in-patient procedure and means at least an overnight in the hospital, most likely the ICU annex- won't they all be thrilled.

I won't pretend that I'm not having a reaction about that, going back there. At least it's for something that we are choosing and will ultimately and hopefully be a step forward in healing. It's still a surgery though and those always come with risks. The cardiologist and the GI specialist have both said that he's in good condition for the procedure AND that doesn't mean that there aren't any risks. He's going to be "under" for almost an hour and that's hard on his little body and systems.

The other bit of good news is that it also looks like we could do it in one surgery instead of two short ones spread out over 3 months and go right to the button. The first picture is the button itself (the little balloon at the bottom is what lies underneath the skin and keeps it in place). The second picture is what it looks like once it's placed. Not too bad right? Supposedly after it's had some time to heal and settle it shouldn't preclude Shimmy from doing anything including bath and tummy time. Sweet.

I am still a little freaked out about him 'going under'.

In other news...
We are figuring this home thing out slowly. I'm getting some good cries in. Shimmy is getting some social time in. We are getting out. We are staying warm. It's all coming together.

And it's frikkin' hard. I am Simon's ICU, his monitor, his nurse. It feels like a lot when I think about it all, or sometimes just around 4pm when I can look back at most of the day and see everything that I've done to keep him alive, gaining weight, comfortable, not to mention learning and growing like a regular baby should be. But the moment to moment isn't really hard at all (tiring, frustrating maybe, but I wouldn't say hard). So I clean up vomit a bit more than most moms, big deal. Watching Simon learn how to self soothe himself to sleep and really respond to a regular schedule is a delightful thing. And, I cannot wait to get his sweet face sans noodle back.
Just got off the phone with Children's Hospital and the initial word is that there is no surgical opening until Feb 2nd. I'm hoping that's not really the case but simply what the receptionist was saying given that she hadn't even gotten the referral yet. 6 more frikkin' weeks?!! Blech.
We had a lovely date with Baby Julian and his Big Daddy Tanner. And last night Shimmy got more facial hair time with two other big Daddies, Robert and Reid. That boy does love him some facial hair.
Here are Julian and Simon playing at holding handsNear.......FarHere is Simon realizing that Julian is still fresh faced where as Poppa Tanner has a Goatee

And then there's Robert's full on Beard
Which is even longer than Reid's. Simon, "Gee you remind me a little of my PopPop Bernie." Jaime's home now so it's family time. It's family time for 2.5 weeks!! Yeehaw.

Happy Happy to everyone.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some photos from the last week

Locations of visitors to this page
It's been a little hectic. I'm sorry we haven't done an update since the 11th. I was waiting for Shimmy's BNP from the last visit but it's still pending. Everything else looks good though.
We've had some sweet visits with other babies and while it's a harsh reminder that Simon has some serious catching up to do (why? well cuz he has a heart condition and spent 4 months in the icu) it's also been really great to have some baby social time. That's what Simon is, a baby, not just a cardiac patient with lots of meds and Dr visits and limitations. He's a delicious baby who can learn and play and grow along side his fellow babies. Next time we'll get some photos of him with his baby friends.
Here are some photos of the last couple of days to tide you over.
Love to all
Snuggle time with Auntie Manders

This Hat is so cool, look what happens when I turn it!

Ah, yes the festival of lights is approachingLook Mom, I can pull your glasses off

Tickle Me Simon

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Settling in

Locations of visitors to this page Laura Here
Home for a while now and finally things are starting to feel more real than life in the hospital. We've had a bevy of visitors showing up with incredible gifts and of course I don't just mean of the material nature. We've got a new street stroller (versus the off-roading one from G'Pa Bruce and Grandma Nola) that we've already been cruising the neighborhood in. Some great new bath toys (See photos- how many boys that age can say they've bathed with so many beauties that aren't their mothers?!). A well stocked fridge with delicious easy food for us to make. And wonderful people galore stopping by to keep me company during the day.
That's Auntie Dre in the bath with Shimmy

That would be Carol

And this would be Auntie Abby out for a hike with the Shimster (after her bath with him)

Shimmy and Jaime are in the bath right now (the boy does love his baths) and I'm taking a moment to add my two cents to the blog. I wish I would write more but it seems like the times where Simon and I are home together and there's a bit of down time for me are more about laundry, dishes, maybe a nap, or simply catching up on emails.

Things have been working themselves out in terms of a rhythm to our days Monday through Friday and Jaime and I are working on the weekends where there's not too much disruption but certainly a shift for Shimmy so that Jaime gets as much face time as possible.

Simon seems in good spirits and mostly stable health. We're still working on figuring out how to keep as much formula in him as possible for weight gain. The pukes are still a-plenty and this coming Tuesday we have a cardiology appointment where we'll have another conversation with HunkyPants about switching over from the NG tube to a more permanent G-tube for Simon. A G-tube is surgically placed and essentially is a direct line through the abdomen to the stomach for enteral feedings. A small plastic plug lies on top of the skin with a port in it to attach the line from the pump.

This would mean that Shimmy would no longer be a noodle nose boy (Hello Supermodel) but more importantly he wouldn't have a tube going up his nose and down his throat. Some parents on our support list serve said that just for fun (hah) they tried to put an NG tube in themselves to see how it felt and they understood immediately why kids with NG tubes are even less likely to want to take anything by mouth. Derr.

The only downside is that it is a surgical procedure and Simon would be completely sedated and there are always risks with that. Once the Gtube is in though the risk of infection is minimal and he can do just about anything he would otherwise (baths, tummytime, etc).

Jaime and I have been doing our homework about it in the last couple of weeks and I think we're feeling fairly pro G-tube at this point. Quality of life. As for Simon, he's growing, making new sounds, practicing his razzberry, and working the "ole Blue Eyes" magic every where he possibly can. He's becoming a fabulous napper and get-himself-to-sleeper. A delicious snuggler. And an all around magical boy who delights and amazes most folk that come in contact with him.

As for me. Jaime's posts speak for me as well. This is fucking hard. I'm still uncovering what it means to be home with Simon, to be his primary caretaker, to struggle with the bandwidth involved in doing all of this, how to share it, how to care for myself, be in relationship to Jaime, co-parent with Jaime (and those are different), enjoy each moment, find time to eat, grieve the loss of my job, stay in contact with friends, get enough sleep, let people help, ask people not to visit sometimes, manage bills, apply for disability insurance, work a homophobic/heterosexist system that chooses when it will and won't recognize us as a family, miss going to the movies, eating out, and other things that I'm not even aware of missing but will more than likely come up sometime soon.

It's such a mixed bag. Simon and this whole experience, have, of course reaffirmed that deep learning about celebrating each moment including the unbearably hard ones (what, because I didn't quite get it before with the motorcycle and horse accident?), embrace the people that love you and let them embrace you, and just slow down and feel the blessings. Oh yeah, and the blah blah blah lesson of sometimes just being in the shit and not letting anybody talk you out of it until you're ready.
Yesterday a sweet friend from long ago visited and got to meet the Shimster and hang out some while he napped. She was catching me up on her life (mine's on the Internet) and I was loving hearing how she's moved full time into the life of a farmer. Forgive the pun but it sounded like a wonderful and organic experience. She spends most of her time figuring out how to nurture and harvest, doing the former so she can have the latter be as great as possible.

I feel like I am doing that with Simon too. Spending this time nurturing my little seedling during this very fragile time in his growth, hopefully to have a strong and bountiful future. His roots are not yet sunk that deep and any big change in his environment could be too much.

I just want him to grow strong, like any farmer wants their planted seeds. Simon is just requiring a lot more attention and diligence during this early growth period.
Maybe he'll be like the cantaloupe that we never thought would grow in our backyard beds but was discovered one day not only to have spread across the lawn but fruited several delish large cantaloupes (as evidenced by the Roxie photo).
Ok enough. I'm off to eat donuts and watch Angelina Jolie kick butt with my wife on the couch whilst the little man slumbers.

Love to all and thanks for keeping up.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Feeling Blue

Locations of visitors to this page
Jaime here:
Sad tonight...both of us. I'm really feeling a new phase of acceptance/grief/loss in this whole thing. I'm meeting new people that don't know I have a baby. They haven't been with me through this journey and I have to integrate this new identity into my first meetings.

I feel like I can't just say, "oh, yeah, I have an 8 month old" and leave it at that. What that implies is so far from our reality that I would feel like an imposter. The reality that we have a pretty severely disabled kid and it feels so overwhelming sometimes. It's like there's some really long, exhausting road ahead of us and it feels sort of bleak and oppressive.

The other hard part for me is the uncertainty of it all. This could be what our lives look like forever. Or, in 2 years Simon could be totally recovered. Or, in 2 years Simon may not still be with us. I have no idea what is coming and it's different than if he had, say, Down's Syndrome and I had some semblance of what things might be like in 2 years. We could adjust, accept, find community with others who are struggling with the same thing. This illness is really isolating in a lot of ways- we can't go out, hardly anyone else has this problem and once he gets his NG tube out it won't be obvious that there is anything wrong so we will just pass for a normal family which I think actually will feel lonlier.

We've become a sort of "high maintainance" family. We have all these restrictions now- people have to come to us, we can't go to certain types of events, everyone has to be super anal about washing their hands, etc, etc. It's so not what I envisioned. I thought I'd be the kind of parent who walked out the door with my kid in a sling, a diaper in my pocket and a few dollars, not a backpack with a pump, a towel to catch puke and a sign that warns people away from touching him.

Adjusting to a new environment and a new "normal" at work is so great and hard because it means I am integrating Simon being sick long term into this new identity. It's really, really sad and people have been awesome. But even that is hard- a coworker used to work for CSS- California Support Services, and was talking about how Simon is so disabled that we probably qualify for all sorts of stuff and that because he's obviously at risk for Developmental Disabilities (not necessarily cognitive, just delays in other areas) that we might qualify for other programs. Whether or not we really do qualify for the programs, it's really intense to hear people who have knowledge about disabilities immediately identify and categorize him as so vulnerable. Ugh.

Hopefully a lighter post next time, but we are where we are. It's been a hard couple of days of reality check.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Coming Home

Locations of visitors to this page
Jaime here...

I just had an incredible week at my new job. I had a few epiphanies this morning about the last few years. My last job was great in a lot of respects, and my former coworkers are very dear to me and I'm still in touch. However, for the last 2 years it's felt a bit like I've been a visitor from another planet in a lot of ways culturally. I realized how much so after the conference this weekend.

I was at "Smokefree California" which was a conference for all the people in the state involved in Tobacco Control. These are all public health/social justice oriented people. I sat in the room the first day and almost teared up looking around- there were people of color everywhere I looked and identifiably queer folks. At one point on the last day, a not so great speaker from a Landlord group tried to draw a parallel about tenants and smoking with illegal immigration. She kept using the term "illegal immigrants" and there was a buzz in the room. Afterwards, someone at my table was talking about it and saying how upset she was that the woman even used the example and that she wished the woman hadn't said "illegal immigrant" but rather "undocumented person". Again, I almost cried. To a lot of people, it just seems like semantics, but to me and a lot of others, the difference in those words speaks volumes. I haven't heard that term "undocumented person" in a workplace setting since graduate school and it was MUSIC to my ears.

At this conference, there were at least 10 identifiably queer people out of a few hundred. I just left an agency that had thousands of employees and in 2 years, never met anyone who was "out" until I came out to them. I had conversations with a few who talked about needing to stay in the closet because it wasn't culturally acceptable there. Everyone was cool with me and always really supportive of Laura and Simon and I, but it's really different to work with people who are "of" your people rather than "support" your people. I love allies- I totally appreciate all the love and support I got and validation of my relationship with Laura AND there's nothing like being around people who you know "get" you and your family in the way someone who is living it does.

Today I realized I've felt like I've been living in a foreign country. I spoke the language and could really function and be an active pariticpant. But this last week has felt like I was finally around English speakers. I experienced this when I lived in Paraguay for a summer- I didn't realize how much extra energy it took to be "other" in a foreign culture until I was with other Americans or English speakers. Then I felt an incredible sense of relief and sort of dropping away of a cloak. I felt like that this week.

I learned about 6 months worth of information in 3 days but I didn't feel overwhelmed at any point because everyone was speaking the same language I know (public health/social justice). I was just learning new strategies, not a new culture. I hadn't realized how much I was trying to learn a completely new culture the past 2 years- really business and sales, which I actually wasn't much interested in. It was exhausting and hard to be/feel successful. This was such a good move.

Also, Simon had his first poop in the bathtub and his first poop in the potty. I knew this day was coming. I mostly just laughed at the beginning and held him over the toilet for the rest of it. Such a big boy :-)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Flyin' Solo (Not really)

It's been a whirlwind of a couple of days with Jaime off on a work conference (starting Tuesday morning before we even woke up), a cardiologist appointment (BNP results in a moment), a blood draw, an Echo cardiogram (nothing worse or different really), a fabulous Mamaw sleep over, a increase in formula volume for the little man overall, visits here and there, a long dog walk, some short dog walks, lots and lots of snuggles, lots and lots of medications given and pukeage cleaned up, some good nights sleep for Shimmy, a little less good for Mommy, an occupational therapy appointment, a home nursing visit (shimmy's put on 1/2 pound in just under 2 weeks- not bad, not great but not bad), and finally a lovely car ride with coos and fwapps of his hanging toys to go and pick up Mama from the airport.

All in all an utterly exhausting three days that we not only survived but I think managed pretty well. A huge shout out to all the single parents out there. That was just three days for me with lots and lots of help. I cannot imagine doing it solo. Just can't.

Jaime is home now and I am overjoyed to have my partner in all this back. She's my partner in so many other things but we are joined with Simon in a way that feels exceptional to all the other ways. This is true since he arrived for sure but even more so since August 1st. Hard to believe but it's true. Love me some Jaime Jenett.

So here's the update on Simon. His BNP was down (from 1690 to 1457) and his weight is up (16.5 pounds). His labs came back just fine (HunkyPants even called to say that they were almost "too normal") but that we should just be careful about his output so we upped his Lasix just a little so that he'd be peeing more. Given that he peed on me twice today ("you're taking off my diaper mom? Sweet. Here's a little treat for you!") it's hard to imagine that he needs to pee more but that's a micro assessment versus the bigger picture that says that too much fluid is hard on the heart.

Also I wanted to take minute to write about the "how are you?" or "how's Simon?" phenomena. Those are two common questions to ask and I know that they are rooted in care and love. They are however very hard to answer. It's almost like the way I am sometimes asked "how're you doing?" when really the person is just using that in the place of a "hello" and doesn't really want or wait for an answer. I hope that sounds familiar and makes sense.

It's hard on me and I know that it's meant to be just the opposite. But it taps a well of feeling and sometimes I don't want that well tapped. Sometimes I just want to shoot the shit before talking about my son in heart failure and if I'm asked how I'm doing or how Simon is doing it means that I have to go right there. I'm not sure what a good response is since "fine" doesn't really cut it anymore (although a wise woman I know says that can also be an acronym for Fucked Interior, Normal Exterior- love that). Not sure what to do about that.

Other than that we are all settling into a regular rhythm, as regular as can be with Dr's visits, nurses coming over, meds, pumps, and blah blah blah.

Really, that's all I wanted to say this whole time. Blah Blah Blah.

Love all out there.


Here are some photos from the last few days.
Simon loves him some buzz cut


Sunday, November 30, 2008


Locations of visitors to this page
Laura here.
I learned a while ago that transformation is not simply the act of changing one's mind or learning something new. It's the process of understanding your world, yourself, as something completely different. I am going through transformation right now. It hurts, I'm scared, it's not chosen, it just is.

And, at the center of the powerful but slow moving storm is this amazing blue eyed being that I grew and housed in my body. My love for him is so tidal. At one moment it feels like slow moving chocolate. So thick and sweet. And then in a moment it changes to feeling like a line of gasoline lit on fire, moving me to quickly find that next move that will stop the pain, discomfort, stop Simon from dying.

And it feels like it's just me now. There are no monitors, no nurses, no team of cardiologists coming around two or three times a day. There is Jaime and Dianne and so many of you that will come and visit and spend time and even spell me (and Jaime) and see Simon and how he is growing and changing for better or for worse. But there is no one but me that will be his primary. I am a stay at home mom again. I am a stay at home mom for a baby that is very sick. I am the stay at home mom for Simon who is still in heart failure and doesn't look like it or act like it but is. He is. His heart is not functioning any better than it was November 19th before we left the hospital. His medications, his naps, his feeding pump those are all keeping him alive right now. And, I am the one in charge of all of those things. I may get some (a lot of ) support with all that but I am in charge and there is no doctor, no nurse, no one that is more in charge, more aware, of all of those things than me.

I was supposed to go back to work November 17th. In some alternate universe I was going to go back to Creative Arts three days a week to work with children, teachers, families, and a community that I love being a part of. That is not happening. It's not happening now, and it may not be happening for a long long time. What will Simon's function be like in three or five years? Will I ever get to finish my licensure hours? Will I be home-schooling Simon because he won't be able to handle regular schooling? Will I ever get to exercise those parts of myself that I really love (being a counselor, children's advocate, anti-racism trainer, outdoor educator) that are not a part of being a stay at home mom for a child with heart failure?

I am different now. Even more so than after the moment that Simon and I were no longer connected through an umbilical cord. So much more so. My life path looks so different that it did four months ago and even then it looked so different than it did before April 9th.
Sometimes I don't feel it at all and am just there in that moment of playing peek-a-boo and making my son laugh enough that I can see the two new teeth that he's growing. Other times I feel like everything is so elementally different I don't know who I am or will be for the next, day/week/month/year/lifetime.

Jaime goes back to work tomorrow and I feel like the last week has been this dream of time together. I am so excited for her to start this new job, meet new wonderful colleagues, and work again in an environment that grows passion. And I won't deny that there is a sliver of me that is jealous and resentful. It's there. It feels awful. How could I even think about being away from Simon at this time in his life, in his healing. But I miss that too. I miss that part of my life that I may or may not get back. I miss working with challenging children that sometimes just need someone to play some Uno with them and listen to who and where they are. I miss being a part of a team that is looking at how to turn a school into a working community with accountability, activism, and all kinds of learning going on.

And I can not imagine being away from Simon. I can not imagine giving up one moment with him, one piece of his care, his growth, his healing. I would and will do whatever it takes to give him the best chance at a full and rich life, whatever final recovery looks like for him full/partial/?

My life is changed and won't change back. I'm swimming in it right now. It's so much bigger than me, affecting all aspects of my life. And it's not even about me. I know, I know, welcome to motherhood. Only this feels a lot like motherhood plus and it's the plus that's feeling so overwhelming right now.

Just some of the time. Most of the time it's about the moment. A medication moment, a doctor appointment moment, a feeding moment, a nap, a bath, a walk, a smile a giggle, a new sound. Moment to moment. People keep asking what do we need? Visits? Food? A winning lottery ticket (where is that one?), and I honestly don't know. The question is hard, the offers are great. The winning lottery ticket would always be welcome (Jaime earning a little less, me not going back to work, expensive medications, insurance premiums, formula, etc) are an added stress but not a huge one. We are blessed with privilege and resources that so many other families are not. It's not going to be super easy but what has been lately?

Oh wait, this. This has been super easy; loving Jaime, Simon, our family and friends. Also delightful; delightful bringing Simon into our bed each morning for snuggles, delightful seeing Simon's little naked body in all it's newly rounded, line-less, glory during bath time. And of course delicious; delicious touching him, smelling him, watching him experience the whole wide world (or at least the much wider than Children's Hospital world) as we walk down Lakeshore, take a hike in the woods, look out at the Bay from the Albany Bulb, or simply eat dinner in a circle in our living room. Simply delicious.

We are approaching the Solstice this coming month. I am working hard at internalizing what it all means. Hanukkah, Christmas, the Solstice, it's all about the returning of the Light. I stand open armed to welcome it.
C'mon, bring it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Little Slice of Heaven

Locations of visitors to this page
Today was my idea of heaven. Our best friend Dre came over at about 9:30 a.m. for breakfast and didn't leave until 8:45 p.m. tonight (after baking the most ridiculous cake at our house- a Peanut Butter Chocolate cake). Our friends Anne and Eric came over at 11:30 a.m. and brought us turkey soup and homemade biscuits. We went on a walk and then they stayed until 3ish, playing with Simon and making homemade wreaths on our deck. Then Alicia and Karen came over and made us a delicious dinner of cheese, bread and salad and then we almost killed ourselves eating cake. Here's what almost killed us.

The cake is 3 layers of devil's food cake with peanut butter frosting between each layer and on top and then topped with dark chocolate ganache. Even *I* could only eat part of a slice it was so intense.

Dre took a bath with Simon, Laura put him down, we all watched part of a movie and now Laura and I are getting ready for bed.

We HAVE to have a date tomorrow. Part of the deal of not being in the hospital is that we have to schedule alone time and so far we suck at it. We're going to have Dre watch Simon for a few hours tomorrow and reconnect a little before I start my new job and go on a business trip Tue-Thursday. Exciting and daunting to think about starting something new.

Friends. Food. Home. There is nothing I like better and I had a delicious drink of it today.

Damn it feels good to be home.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Knew I Felt At Home For Some Reason...

Locations of visitors to this page
Okay, Shimmy woke up REALLY early this morning and I went on the CHO website to putz around while he played in his saucer.

Reading the "About Us" section, I found this:

In 1912, Mabel Weed and Bertha Wright, a nurse, founded Children's Hospital, then called the "Baby Hospital." Its first home was the stable of the old McElrath mansion. Today, with 191 licensed beds,Children's Hospital's medical center offers outstanding patient care,and also supports nationally recognized pediatric teaching andresearch. (

All my red flags went up about 2 women of that era doing a venture like this together with no mention of a husband so I typed in the two founders' names and the word "lesbian". Look what I found!

Bertha Wright (1876-1971), known as the West Coast's Lillian Wald and Jane Addams, pioneered public health nursing in California in the first decades of the twentieth century. Her life partner was social worker Mabel Weed. They lived together for over 40 years, adopting and raising three children and providing foster care for many more.

How awesome is that? I love it.

Had a pretty mellow day today. Went on a dog walk and on the way home, Simon was in a stellar mood and decided, after some prodding, to show me his teeth. He has a chapped upper lip which looks deceivingly like a tooth but you can see the two little nubbins on the bottom.

I tried a number of variations on the "Show Me Your..." command including one often heard during Mardi Gras. It brought chuckles from the front seat AND the car seat.

We had Alex and Jake from our birth group come over and we had a nice time. Roxie thought Jake was another puppy and tried to clean his ears:

Karen, Fred and Zuzu also came over and brought yummy Thanksgiving leftovers. It was very sweet.

Turns out MCT oil is not the source of all evil. Simon booted all over the place today even with no oil. Not quite as much as he has been, but MCT is not the lynchpin, evidently. Also, I never really thought I'd use San Pellegrino to flush nasty crud out of my baby's NG tube. Gross. Effective. Thank god for cases of it at Costco.

I have been remiss- weeks ago I promised one of our favorite nurses, Kathy, that I'd post a picture of her puppy Brutus on the site and ask for good thoughts for both of them. Brutus has cancer of the tongue, I believe, and will probably need to be put down soon :-( We're hoping for very sweet time until that point, a quick passing and comfort for Kathy when that day comes. She's had Brutus since he was an itty bitty puppy and I can only imagine how hard that is. Big love for Kathy and Brutus please!

p.s. yes, Kathy is that hot in person.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Locations of visitors to this page
So much to be grateful for...

Had a really nice Thanksgiving at my Mom's house with 14 of us. Simon got to have a whole suite in the master bedroom upstairs and had a few good naps. He sat at the table with us and played with some cranberry sauce, turkey and mashed potatoes (didn't eat anything but got to mush it around a bunch).
Then, tonight when we got home, Laura checked his heart rate before giving his Digoxin and, for the first time in probably 3 weeks, his heart rate was under 100 while he was sleeping. This is AWESOME! We had to call the cardiologist on call and get approval to give it to him anyway and had a nice chat with the doc. She was happy to hear that he was doing well.
We also forgot to bring the MCT oil with us to Palo Alto and lo and behold, Simon did not throw up all day. We are going to check with the team to see if we can stop giving it to him and see if he can still gain weight. That would be awesome because he pukes about every hour or two and it's really messy, not to mention unpleasant for him.
We didn't get a chance to say what we were thankful for at dinner so I'll reflect a bit now:
Simon is out of the hospital
Simon's heartrate is under 100
My Mom's house turns out to be a great place to be with a baby
We can afford (barely) to have Laura stay home with Simon
My new health insurance, while costing 8 times my other coverage, will cover all Simon's doctors
We have incredible friends and family who are helping us get through this
We both have great coping skills (that are being thoroughly tested)
I was able to find a new job that I'm excited about
Simon is alive
Roxie was an awesome dog at Thanksgiving
Laura and I are healthy
All of our parents are alive
We have two cars we like that are reliable and affordable
We have a fantastic apartment that fits us and all our stuff
Our kid is not half as sick as a lot of the kids still at CHO
Simon got to meet his great grandfather on his last visit a few weeks ago
We have a washer and dryer
We have a dishwasher
I am not doing this as a single parent
We have a fridge full of food and more coming
For these things and so many more, I am grateful. More to come in a few days, perhaps...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

photos from home

Locations of visitors to this page
Here are some photos from the last couple of days.

Simon meet Bacon. Bacon meet Simon

And a new great love affair has begun

Lookin' Good In Pink

The onesie says it all

Add the leg warmers and Richard Simmons Watch Out!!
Still working things out with meds and naps and outings and such.

Our cardiologist visit today was smooth with no big surprises or changes ('cept for Simon's weight which was nicely up).

Thanks to all for the inquiries of how best to support us. However you can, the answer is yes, we'll take it.

It's a time of huge Thanks Giving. We give lots and lots of thanks for all of you.
I'll (Laura) write more when I feel like it won't come out like a tidal wave and crash the blogspot server.
Love to all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Good News Not Related to Simon

Locations of visitors to this page
(Jaime speaking)
I have a new job! I will soon be working for the Contra Costa County Health Department. Leaving is a bittersweet thing. I loved my coworkers and what I actually did in my old job. However, this new position will have a much more manageable pace (I switched tasks approximately every 3 minutes at my former position- not kidding, I timed it once) and is much more in line with my training in and passion for public health and reducing racial and ethnic health disparities.
For my beloved colleagues and associates far and wide who may be reading this and may not know I've moved on, don't be strangers. My personal email is
We just keep getting great support and love and we totally need it. I start my new job Dec 1st, so Laura really just has a week to work out the routine before she's on her own to get his meds in, keep his feedings on schedule, and figure out how to get out of the house with all of this stuff. It's the level of detail that other folks can't really help with. We're trying to figure out what we really need help with since our beloved folks keep offering. One of the big ones is probably just to come by the house and *be* with her while she's doing all this. It was easy in the hospital to forget that there were always an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands when we needed them. We are also missing the social time and just the feeling that we aren't alone, from the hospital.
We both have been talking about what this all means long term.

We are applying for disability benefits for our baby.
We have a severely disabled child.
Our kid is special needs.
One part of me really wants to reject these labels and just think about this as a temporary thing and just think about Simon, not about how he will or won't fit into all these systems that make up the world. But then I have to remember that he really is ill and there are some programs and systems in place to help families like us. And we're going to need that help.
One of the things that is hard is that a few of folks have said things like, "Oh great! They're out of the hospital. Phew". I always feel like "Debbie Downer" when I have to set them straight and explain that it will be years (at least 2, I think) until we know if Simon will a) continue to stay alive b) get any better and how much better or c) stay as impaired as he is right now. He's out of the hospital and he's not quite sick enough to be in the ICU but he's still really, really sick. When we went to our pediatrician appointment today for a (ha ha) "well" check up and listed all the meds he's on, she was a little shaken. It's times like that I really get it.
Laura today said, "Sometimes I forget that I have to treat him like he's an invalid and not push him too much". He IS. This is sort of the classic invalid illness, right? Pale, clammy, needs to rest all the time, sort of skinny, can't do anything like normal kids, etc. It's so cliche and so goes against my deeply ingrained "tough it out, it's not that bad" thing with illness. Right now and maybe not ever, we can't push him. We can't let him get really frustrated trying to roll over or learn to do something new or his heart gets too stressed. We have to treat him with kid gloves a little bit and it's so ironic. I really wanted to be one of those Moms who could be the safe landing pad for a big boo boo but who would not make a big deal out of bumps and bruises. It's going to be a very tight channel between real concern for his health and letting him take the chances he needs to take to be a well adjusted kid.
We go to Cardiology Clinic tomorrow. Hopefully that will be uneventful and just a nice reunion with folks. Probably some lab draws, maybe an Echo. Who knows what else. It really is a gift to go to this first series of appointments as a whole family so Laura doesn't have to feel like she's navigating this whole thing by herself.
P.S. Thank you to the muffin fairy who dropped off Banana Nut muffins today! Who are you?
As for what folks can do now that we are "out". Pretty much the same thing as before. Just show up as you can. Food is great, visits are great, offers for things are great whether or not we accept them (always greatly appreciated though). Oddly, nothing has really changed healthwise for Simon except for his location. That, and his increased love for bathing...check him out.
"yee haw, living large"

"Wait, what do you mean Carol's not coming to bathe me?!"

For us, a lot has changed.
One step at time.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Locations of visitors to this pageSo we learned a few things today, or rather confirmed them.

We really can't do anything else while Simon is getting his morning meds other than sit quietly and read books. This takes about a hour. Yesterday we tried it while we were out on a walk (I was pushing meds into his NG on the sidewalk, to slightly horrified stares) and he puked his little guts out about 10 minutes later.

Two outings is too much for the little man. One is probably just fine. We went on a big dog walk at Pt. Isabel this morning with Shimmy in the stroller. I thought he'd sleep but he wanted, of course, to see everything. He had about an hour nap in the car seat once we got home.Then we decided to go to 4th street at about 2 pm to pick up some organizing crate thingys and walked aroud a little. He took another nap, about an hour and then woke up really cranky and pukey and went back down, after a fight at about 5:30ish. We both were a little freaked that he was so cranky and pukey.

This is what makes this harder than normal parenting. Normal parents take a zillion years to get out of the house. They have a trillion things they have to take with them. We just have more that the average parent. Still feels within the realm of normal.

But unless you're SUPER neurotic and hopefully getting help for it, most parents don't fear that every time their kid is cranky or won't go to sleep or pukey or sweaty that the kid is about to end up in the ICU and maybe die within a few days.

We do.

I know (or maybe just really hope) that the longer time goes on, the less intense this will be, but right now it's like there's a big awful thing just under the surface and if you scratch at all, something sinister oozes out and forms grey, icy little crystals.

I consider myself an optimist. I don't really walk through life waiting for bad things to happen. If I'm spinning about something bad I'm afraid of happening, I can usually use my powers of rational thought and catch myself.

But this is different. I've already seen the monster. I know it's there and alive and well. I don't want to think that it's got nothing better to do than to just wait to gobble Shimmy up but I'm not sure he's like Santa and has lots of other kids to worry about.

Hey, it's like the Grinch that Stole Parenting!

God I'm glad I can laugh about this.