Friday, November 28, 2014

It Was Three Years Ago: Finally Telling The Story Of Spencer's Birth

My friend Erin had a difficult pregnancy and delivery with her first child, her beautiful daughter, Violet Mae. It made me think that I should finally, after being a coward for 3 years, write about Spencer's birth. I found Erin putting all of her emotions out there to be inspiring. It didn't go as she planned but the end result is awesome. That's pretty much what happened to us. On the day he was born, I had no clue that he was anything other than the perfect baby boy I had been waiting for. I wrote a quick little blog post the morning after announcing that he had arrived! I was a mommy! Our little man was here! But little did I know that just minutes later, our entire lives would change forever. I was clueless about the amount of pain that was possible for one person to feel. For ME to feel. This is going to sound dramatic and emo but there's a line in a song by AFI that really sums it all up. I hate that it sums it all up, because it makes me feel like a monster. I can't even listen to that song anymore. And I hate reliving all of this because it reminds me that after 3 years with the coolest son on the planet (tied with Sullivan, of course), I'm still weak. I'm not even sure I can tell this story yet. I guess I can start and go until I just...can't.

If you listen...listen can hear when the heart stops...when it broke.

On August 8th, 2011, I got up uber-early for work like I always did. But on the drive and for the first few hours, I noticed I didn't feel the baby move. I knew from all of my obsessive reading that a baby is supposed to move 10 times an hour. Wasn't even close. And he didn't move much the day before actually. But I never assumed anything could possibly be wrong. Bad things don't really happen. Not to people I know. Those are just stories you read about or see in movies. There's no way I'd be a statistic. I went to the hospital just to be safe and they had me wear a monitor and click a little button when he moved, which wasn't often, but he WAS moving. Todd showed up while I was getting ready for an ultrasound with my hospital bag and pillow (I'm weird about my own pillow) and I laughed because this was just a precaution. He was jumping the gun. No way we were having a baby today.

The ultrasound we were doing took half an hour and looked at several different things then assigned the baby with a number between 1-10 that would determine what happened next. The tech told us she was assigning him a 4. She said that wasn't high enough to be comfortable but on the bright side, her money was on me having a baby that day! The doctors agreed and before I knew it, I was being induced. Todd called our moms and some friends and blew up Facebook. He got me a magazine cause we figured this could take awhile but before we knew it (literally, like an hour after induction began), I was being told that the baby wasn't tolerating the induction medication and they wanted to do an emergency c-section. Fine by me! Even though he was tolerating things, I was still super calm. I was a naive idiot. My vagina would remain the same! I'd get pain meds! But they don't make meds for the pain that was to come.

They took Todd to another room to get ready for the delivery and then I was alone with strangers. I knew no one. My doctor wasn't there. I was cold. The room was so sterile and terrifying. They were about to put a needle in my spine. Panic took over. I was no longer calm. I went from zero-to-freakout in no time flat. They were positioning me on the edge of the table for the spinal, telling me how to sit and what to do (or not to do) and I lost it. My heart was pounding and I couldn't breathe. It was my first dose of "This isn't the way it was supposed to go".  The anesthesiologist tried to calm me down, saying with my heart rate so high, it was dangerous to put the needle in. I had to suck it up. I was just prolonging getting to bring my son into the world. So they began and I did some hippie nonsense deep breathing but I felt an electric shock through my leg and the terror began again. I thought they did something wrong! I screamed! I guess that's common with spinals and making sure it's going in the right place but DAMN! Give a girl a heads up! 

Then I realized I couldn't feel my legs and that is very unsettling. I kept trying to will myself to make them move, like in Kill Bill. It was still cold. Still so sterile. And not a single friendly face. Probably because they knew. They could tell from the ultrasound and I couldn't. But I do have faint memories of a nurse holding my hand and rubbing my head as hot tears rolled down the sides of my face. The sheet went up and Todd came in and took over hand-holding duty. I felt so strange. Doped up. And like I wasn't even in my body. Spaceship. They asked me how I was doing and I said I was nervous. They told me there was nothing to be nervous about since they started cutting already. We would be seeing him soon. I felt strangely calm again. They had Todd stand up to see his baby being born. When they pulled him out, Todd cried and then I cried. I asked how he looked and Todd said, in a happy, quivering voice, that he was beautiful. I didn't get to see him right away. They were fussing over him and stamping his footprints. They even stamped them on Todd's gown, so cute. Spencer Lee Fonzarelli was born at 3:53pm on 8/8/11. He was 6# 1 ounce and 20" long. My string bean. When I saw him, I was in love.  He had a tiny nose and full lips and cheeks. The rest is kind of a blur but in retrospect, no one in the room really made a big deal over him. It was very quiet. Not like on TV. I thought they were letting Todd and I have a moment as our new little family. And his APGAR score wasn't great but still, in my mind, he was here and everything was fine.

Eventually, I was wheeled into recovery where all I did was vomit from the spinal and probably all the freaking. My parents, sisters, nephew, Todd's mom, 2 of my best friends...they were all there while I tried not to puke in their presence. I was still on Cloud 9. My boy was here. I was just so tired. I didn't mind everyone else spending time with him because it gave me time to just feel junky and stoned. I'd have his whole life to spend with him. Spencer's hands and feet were a little blue but I thought nothing of it because no one said anything bad to me. Everything had to be A-OK! When we finally got to our room, they were concerned because he was having trouble regulating his body temperature so our guests left and we were alone. I just stared at him and took pictures of this adorable little dude! He was soooo sleepy and sweet. Again in retrospect, they never had me try to nurse him. They just kept taking him here and there and again, I never thought twice. Around 11:00pm, Todd and I were beat. I actually asked if Spencer could stay in the nursery so I could just crash. During that time, they never brought him back to nurse either. Not all night. Just another thing I'm noting now. I was happy to just have that time to sleep. I was selfish. I had no idea how much a c-section takes out of you. I'm sure it's nothing compared to labor and delivery but it was still surgery. Still tough. But I was thinking of me. If I could go back in time, I would've kept him with me all night. I can't believe I had them take him. I was just so out of it. The next time I would see him, it would be after the worst moment of my life. When I saw him again, I would not be crying tears of joy.

In the morning, as I said, I wrote a quick blog announcing his arrival and how fulfilled I was. How I would write more when I could but for now, I was just so happy. I kept wondering when they would bring him to me. I'd been up for awhile. That's when his pediatrician, a family friend, came in. She said she had just examined him, which I didn't think she'd do for a week but was still clueless. I never thought they'd call her in to deliver bad news. I remember how my bed felt, what the room looked like, how the light came through the window, how her face looked. I remember when she spoke and her voice. She said, "I just saw Spencer and he looks great. Adorable. My only concern is that he's exhibiting some signs that are consistent with...". At that moment it could've been anything. I STILL was so naive. So clueless. Nothing bad could happen to us. I was STILL SMILING LIKE AN IDIOT.

"...Down syndrome".

After that, she could've said anything. She could've filled the room with tigers. She could've shot Todd in the face. My heart stopped and my mind stopped. She told us that a genetic specialist would be coming to talk to us at some point. Todd and I held hands for a moment but I couldnt feel anything and I couldn't look at him. I just stared. I think he just stared, too. We stared and held hands and I just died inside as the seconds went by. A nurse came in and all you could feel was awkwardness. She was in pain for us. She returned with Spencer a few minutes later and handed him to me. Like she thought he would make me feel better. Like being with him would make it hurt less. When the pediatrician left, we didn't say anything to each other. We didn't move. I just looked at Spencer. To me, he did NOT look like he had it. He didn't have the line down his hands or a thick tongue. I GOOGLED images of babies with Down syndrome like a psychopath and they looked nothing like him! Still precious but not like Spencer. Not AT ALL! He looked like me, and Todd. He was adorable. He was small and perfect. How could this happen to him? This was OUR FAULT. We wanted him. We got pregnant. Our genes got fucked up. We did this to him. The pediatrician returned with the geneticist, and it was like I was watching this happen to someone else. And I still couldn't accept it. They didn't say he had it FOR SURE. They just SUSPECTED. I was bargaining with a higher power. If he didn't have it, I'd be a better person. I'd do anything for this to be a mistake. I'd change. I'd be different. But it was pointless.

Once all the doctors left us, taking Spencer with them, two of my aunts came in and I felt like I was going to vomit. It was obvious we'd been crying and we couldn't hide this for long. I couldn't stomach it all. They came to my bedside and asked what was wrong, we had to tell them that they thought our son had Down syndrome. It was so painful. I'm crying now as I type this. It's like it was yesterday. I asked them to call my mom then Todd and I went to the nursery. At this point, everything just gets worse and worse. They had been trying to feed Spencer but he wouldn't eat. They thought it was possible he was having heart issues, which are common in kids with Down syndrome. But I still couldn't believe it was true. They had a hard time hearing his heartbeat. He wouldn't nurse. He wouldn't bottle feed. I begged him to eat as I cried and rocked him. I couldn't stand thinking he was hungry. Or that he might be in pain. Or his heart might be hurt. Things weren't falling apart around me but I loved him! He was my son and he was suffering! They told me they thought it would be best if he was transported to Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. I took a shower while they ran tests. I just stood under the water, crying and throwing up. He was going to be made fun of, picked on, called a "retard", have his feelings hurt. Would he have friends? Get married? Ever live on his own? Would people come to his birthday parties? Invite him to sleepover? Would he play sports? The more I thought, the more I broke down. I didn't even recognize myself in the mirror. I just looked painfully ugly. Ugly inside and out. My sister had texted me saying that her husband was sick as they were about to get on a plane to Las Vegas. Jokingly, she said I should pray for them. I responded, "They think Spencer has Down syndrome. You should pray for us".

My mom arrived and was relatively calm (I only found out recently that she suspected the moment she held Spencer that he had it, and she knew how much pain I would be going through). She and I even cracked a few jokes while Todd got something to eat. Then I would feel bad for laughing. It came in waves where I would feel like myself and then I'd remember and die all over again. It's like I felt guilty whenever I felt like myself. They wheeled Spencer into my room. He was in an incubator strapped to a gurney and there was an entire team surrounding him. Things suddenly got very scary. And very sad. They were bringing him to say goodbye. I had major surgery less than 24 hours before so I couldn't go with him. I felt like I was abandoning him. I could've left against medical advice but they begged me not to. So I rubbed his head and squeezed his hand and then he was gone. I fell against Todd and sobbed but then he, too, was gone. He went to Rainbow so Spencer wouldn't be alone. My dad, sister, and my cousin went, too. He wasn't alone but I wasn't there. His own mom. I was the most emotional and fragile I'd ever been and then my damn milk came in. Perfect timing. Milk for my baby that wouldn't eat. So I was behind a curtain in my room, pumping and storing breast milk for a baby that wasn't there. They took him from me.

I was surrounded by family and friends all day, everyone probably worried about my sanity. I worried about it. Todd kept me updated via text and sent pictures. But things were bad. First, we found out that he did NOT have a heart issue, which didn't help me to except that he had Down syndrome. Heart issues are super common, and he didn't have a heart issue! Maybe he DIDN'T HAVE IT AFTER ALL! Genetic testing took 21 days! But that's not the point. It turned out that he had a pneumothorax, which is just a fancy name for a collapsed lung. When the lung collapsed, it moved his heart over so they couldn't hear it well. They were going to give it some time to see if it would resolve on its own and if not, they would have to put in a chest tube. A chest tube in my poor little baby. On top of that, he had jaundice, which I know tons of babies have but it was just another thing! They had to put him in the incubator under the lights with little goggles on. When Todd would send me pictures, he would say that Spencer was catching some rays. I think he was trying to make light of it so I wouldn't be upset. After all, I wasn't there. Then there was the issue of infection. Spencer's bloodwork indicated that he had an infection, and possibly sepsis. Now I was only very early in my schooling but I know what sepsis means. It's bad news. He was losing weight and struggling. He had a crazy EKG with tons of wires attached to him. He looked more robot then baby. I sobbed.

That night, Todd sent me a picture of Spencer and his incubator with a stuffed frog my aunt had given him next to it. She told us that frogs can only move forward. It seems so appropriate at the moment. I just cried and cried when I saw the picture. He has to move forward. I told the nurses that I wanted to leave. I wanted to be with my baby. They told me we would talk about it in the morning. Todd came back to my hospital and slept with me.  In the middle of the night, I woke up shaking. I had a high fever and was in incredible pain. It turns out that I was engorged, and if you don't know what that means it has to do with breast milk. My breasts were gigantic!! I'm talking porn star grade breasts. I even made Phoebe look at them. And they were hard as rocks. The nurses gave me some medication and hot towels and I took hot showers to try and get the milk to flow again. Breast-feeding kind of creeps me out so even typing this is a little weird for me. I was just miserable. I almost wish that Todd hadn't come back to my hospital. I just wanted to feel lousy alone. I WANTED to be lonely. Anyway, when the milk started going again, it really started going. I had a really fantastic supply which was good news...if Spencer would ever start eating. I pumped all night long and never slept so that Todd would have plenty of milk to take to the hospital with him in the morning.

The next day was a lot like the last. I hadn't seen my baby in 24 hours. I had a lot of visitors so that I wouldn't be alone. It was the moments when I WAS alone that I couldn't stop thinking. And the more I thought, the worse I felt. When they would bring my meals, I would always get some sort of little present commemorating that I had a baby. A little engraved spoon, little notes, etc. every little gift I got just made me hurt more and more. People have told me that in situations like this, it's almost like you have to grieve. You were expecting something else. You have to grieve the loss. But whenever I think of that, it seems so unfair to Spencer. It's not his fault that he wasn't what we were expecting. He was awesome. And I KNEW he was awesome. My aunt spends time with the woman who practices Reiki. I don't really believe in that stuff but some of the things she said struck a chord with me. The lady said that Spencer picked us to be his parents. And it sort of makes sense because we know what it's like to be different. But even though it made sense, it was still difficult. She also said that Spencer was trying really hard to get better so he could go home with us. Thinking about that makes me cry even now. Thinking about him working hard for US, that he wanted US? I needed to be stronger for him. I needed to BE WITH HIM. My dad spent most of the day with Spencer. He was hooked. They are still best buds to this day. And Todd kept updating me and sending pictures but I wanted to be with my baby. Was seriously losing it. I told the nurses that I wanted to go but again, they begged me to stay. They said that most women who have C-sections stay for five days. There was no way that I was staying in the hospital away from my sick child for five days! They thought he had sepsis! What if he died and I wasn't there?? I felt like a prisoner. It was comforting to know that Todd and my dad and my sister were always with Spencer and I know that they are great people. But they're not Spencer's mother. I am and I wasn't there. I don't think I'll ever get over that in my lifetime. There was one spot of sunshine that day. Todd called me and told me that Spencer had eaten! They tried giving him formula with a bottle and he drank a little bit so they wanted to know if there was anyway I could get my breast milk over to that hospital. My poor dad who had spent alllllll day downtown and had JUST gotten home came alllllll the way to my hospital and collected the milk and drove alllllllll the way downtown again and took it to Spencer. What a guy. Handing my dad a box full of my breast milk was a little weird, but it was all for a good cause. My guy was eating!!

The next morning, I insisted that I be released. They really wanted me to stay one more day but I just couldn't take it. Even though I was in pain, I needed my family to be together. Todd had been posting pictures and things on Facebook mentioning how much mommy missed her little boy and it was killing me. Even though people knew that Spencer was struggling and in the NICU, we never did, and still never have, said that he had Down syndrome on social media. Just couldn't bring myself to do it. A friend of mine said that our friends in common were asking her what was going on, and she wanted to know what to say. I told her to tell the truth. I told her to tell them what the doctors suspected. I wanted people to know. I wanted everyone to know what they suspected because I could not say it out. I didn't want to have to say it. And at that point, I still didn't believe it. I was still holding onto hope. I packed my belongings and Todd came and took me to my baby. Itbwas the longest car ride of my life. When they took my ID badge picture, Todd said, "This is mom!". I walked into his NICU room and he was in his incubator catching some rays. I sobbed and reached in and held his little hand. I was so glad to be back with him. He was still eating, though not enough. His jaundice was almost gone. And not too long after I arrived, they said that his pneumothorax had resolved and there was no need for a chest tube. We also found out that there were no heart defects! And no intestinal issues. When Todd posted an update on Facebook, he said it looked like all Spencer needed was his mom. That made me feel so good after feeling so rotten. This was the first time that I had been there for rounds, and when the doctors would say that it was suspected he had Trisomy 21, again, I would die inside but I tried to focus on the positive. Things were looking up for Spencer. The attending doctor said he never looked or behaved like a sick child she said that she never believed he had an infection. And it turned out he didn't! He never had an infection and was never in danger of becoming septic. The sample taken by my hospital was contaminated by bacteria from someone's mouth! That pissed me off to no end!! But I just had to focus on the bright side… Spencer was getting better. Even though he was eating, he wasn't getting enough. They had to put and NG tube down his nose into his stomach. When he wouldn't finish a bottle they would pump the rest through the tube. We laughed because he had a tape mustache. There was a great moment where they asked me if I wanted to feed him. I didn't get to hold him a lot when he was in the NICU so it was like Christmas morning! I finally got to hold and feed my baby!!!

But there were still low points. I couldn't sleep. Even with the pain medications I was on post surgery, I never slept. I pumped breastmilk every three hours and watched mindless television at night trying to distract myself. The goal was to get Spencer to the "step down" unit. Once he moved there, we would be closer to taking him home. But he couldn't go to step down unless he was fully eating on his own or had a picc line. They tried to put one in but he was just too tiny. Watching him lay there squirming under a sheet while they tried to get it in was just horrific. How much was this boy going to go through? At this point, he was only 3 days old! Everything was better when my friends or family were there. Phoebe brought me a care package (and I should note that I would not have made it through this ordeal or anything following without her), Jess brought me cookies and pastries, Ben rode his bicycle all the way to the hospital to sit with us. I remember when Karen walked in the first time to visit Spencer, she took one look at him and cried…but they were tears of joy. My parents were always dad came every day before work and brought my mom every day after. My sister Wendy came on every lunch break. But when I was alone, it was a nightmare. I was just in so much emotional pain. One night, I was putting breast milk into the refrigerator when a nurse came in to examine Spencer as they did every two hours. He asked me if we knew before his birth that Spencer had Down syndrome. I snapped at him and told him that we didn't even know for sure NOW that he had it!! I was sort of angry. But Todd was awake behind the curtain and he said he just shut his eyes and cringed. Todd had accepted that Spencer has Down syndrome and knew this conversation was going to hurt me. BREATHING hurt me. I was weak.

By some miracle, Spencer began eating on the regular. I got to hold him more often, and Todd got to change his diaper! He was probably 5 pounds or less at that point but we referred to him as the Fat Bear, because when the nurses would burp him his cheeks got all squished like a fat little teddy. Things like that provides me with happy moments. Since he was eating better and had the NG tube if needed, they agreed to let him move to the step down unit! He had graduated! But when I inquired how long we would be there, it was very vague. They said it would really be a day today thing. The uncertainty was unsettling. Knowing that we were going home would mean that he was all clear, medically. That was a ways off. We were told it would probably be at least a week of living in the hospital. We dressed him in clothes for the first time (and had to send my sister to the store for more baby clothes because we weren't expecting to be there that long and we weren't expecting him to be so small) and moved to our new space, which was kind of exciting. We were able to hold him more often then. They recommended that when he was in his crib, that he be hooked up to his monitors (Todd and I still feel sick if we hear those monitor sounds...we're conditioned to feel pain when we hear them), but if we wanted to hold him all day, we could! It was the first time that I got to do kangaroo hold with him! I took off his clothes and put him in my tank top. It was the happiest I had been since he was born. But it didn't last. At this point, I was flipping between being angry and being sad. I was so mad that women everywhere, even horrible women that I knew, we're having healthy, happy babies, problem free babies. Now don't get me wrong, I would never, ever, ever wish for something bad to happen to a child. But why was something bad happening to MY child? Why was I being punished? Why was HE being punished? Even when Spencer's half brother came to visit, I had to hide in the bathroom. He didn't know yet about Spencer's developmental disability, he just knew he was sick. I just couldn't handle anything. I kept thinking about all the things that Aiden could do that maybe Spencer couldn't do. All the things that Spencer might struggle with. I know differently now but at the time, I was a fragile egg. So I hid in the bathroom. I laid on the floor and cried. I took a shower, I pumped milk. I hid.

Eventually the genetic counselors came to visit us. Even though results from genetic testing takes 21 days, they had received preliminary results. Spencer did have Down syndrome. There was no more praying. There was no more bargaining. This was now our reality. The genetic counselors examined him and took photographs. They asked us a lot of questions. And they told us that if they hadn't been told he had down syndrome, they wouldn't have known right away. They said that the physical characters we're extremely mild. This was strangely comforting to me. I thought he was adorable! I was in love with him from minute one. I've never stopped loving him from the day I found out that he was going to exist. I would have loved him if he was nothing but a giant eyeball! But knowing that his physical characteristics were mild just made me feel better. Maybe if people didn't know right away, when they first saw him, he wouldn't be picked on. At this point, I was not putting a lot of faith in the children of the world. I know children to be extremely cruel. I know that it's hard to be different. I know that I've been a mean child myself at times. And I know that I've been a victim at times. I was not giving kids these days enough credit. Not at that time. I know so much more now. Having Down syndrome now is not like it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. But that's another story, not the one I'm trying to get out of my system. So there we were, our son had Down syndrome. A social worker did come to talk to us about our options. There are 250 families in Cleveland waiting to adopt a baby with Down syndrome. Until she came in, there were no options. At my hospital after he was born, before I knew about the Down syndrome, someone came in and asked us if we were considering adoption and I screamed no!! I had never considered anything other than getting Spencer home with us. His room and his home and his family was waiting for him! But once it was official, I started questioning myself. I started questioning Todd. I was questioning our marriage, and our ability to be parents to a special needs child. I tried several times to talk to Todd. But it was so difficult to get the words out. I asked him if we could talk…about whether or not Spencer should come home with us. Then and now I feel sick even thinking about it. Sick saying those words. Sick even considering that he wouldn't come home with us. What if we really truly had considered adoption? What if Spencer was not here in his footie pajamas watching Thomas the Tank Engine with his little brother?? I can't imagine the hole that would be in my life. And in the lives of so many other people who love him. He has changed a lot of people. He has taught a lot of people. He's amazing and for a split second I considered whether or not I should be his mom. That will be the worst thing I've ever done in my whole life. Nothing was wrong with him. Something was wrong with me. I had to grow up. I had bonded with him the day the pink plus sign showed up. He was MINE. And while several of my friends said that no one would judge us, one of them told me that she truly believed I would never forgive myself if I gave him up. She believed that I wanted him and would never forgive myself. She knew that he was my son and I was his and I was only questioning myself because adoption was presented to us. I was worried about me not being the best mom, not about him. And that was that. He was coming home with us...eventually. 

Every day, they'd say maybe tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, maybe tomorrow. My parents brought us meals, brought tiny baby clothes for Spencer, brought me a new fluffy blanket and pillow, new underwear, new socks, new pajama pants. Anything to try and make me feel better. And I was still riding the waves. Some moments were just perfect. Anytime Spencer was tucked away in my shirt, and Todd would be reading a book, I would think, this is okay. We can do this. He's perfect. It's perfect. But it wasn't perfect. We had just had a baby and were living in the hospital. I hadn't slept in days and couldn't bring myself to eat much. I was below my PRE-baby weight. Todd and I didn't talk much. And things were about to get worse. My other sister came home from her Vegas vacation, and when she walked in the room she cried and told me how sorry she was. I cried and for the first time out loud said how unfair this all is. She became a total Spencer hog. It didn't matter who else was there, she was going to hold him. She still is Spencer hog, ha. That day, another bomb dropped, a new pair of doctors came in to talk to us. They were from the Oncology and Hematology department. I knew what that meant. Cancer. They were there to tell us that Spencer had a pretty leukemic condition called TMD which is common in children with Down syndrome. They said there are abnormal cells in the blood that look like leukemia, but that it typically resolves around 12 weeks old but means it's possible that he will develop actual leukemia sometime in his life. I looked over and saw my mom making a face that sort of said, "Well of course he has this...what ELSE could happen to this boy?".  They asked me if I would consider letting Spencer be part of a national clinical trial that studies TMD. There are two children from every state involved. I agreed because if anything he goes through could help someone else, why not? But when those doctors left, I realized my whole family was sitting in silence. And that's when I lost it. And I mean LOST IT. Todd was in the bathroom and I just screeeeeeamed. Why is this happening? Why is this happening? I did everything right! I did every single thing right! It's not fair!! I could feel the pain in every inch of my body. He has Down syndrome and now he has cancer? In what reality is this fair? What the hell did we do in our lives for this to happen to him? My dad had his arms around me as I just babbled incoherently. I'm not really sure what else I said. I know that some people in my family were crying, and I know I looked over and saw my 15-year-old niece and felt terrible that she had to watch me fall apart. When Todd came out of the bathroom, he took my Dad's place. I was still screaming and sobbing and staring out the window while my poor family sat in silence. Finally, I heard my mom quietly ask Todd if he thinks they should get me a tranquilizer. That's when I stopped crying. At that point I realized that this was rock-bottom. I had hit it. When your mother asks your husband if they should get you a tranquilizer, you can't get any lower. From that point on, I just had to stop. I focused on getting Spencer better and getting him home. They had a plan to monitor the TMD, and there was nothing I could do about the Down syndrome besides love him, be the best mother I could be, be his advocate, and give him the most normal life possible. To me, he was just like any other boy and that's how I was going to raise him. And that's how I HAVE raised him. The hospital armed us with the resources and prepared us in ways we could not have done on our own. And after 10 days at Rainbow, we brought Spencer home to start our new normal.

I'm not going to say being home made it easier but it definitely made it better. All the nurses circled around him to say goodbye. I fell asleep for the first time in about a week with my head on Spencer's car seat. When we got home, we took a picture of Spencer by the front door. We brought him in and introduced him to his new home. My family came over with food and helped us unload and unpack. I had a lot of blue moments that day. I was so ecstatic to have him home but so broken, not so much by what had happened to us, but by what I feared about the future. I said some things out loud to my mom that I can't believe I even said. I just had to be honest about how I was feeling or it would hurt me even more. Stomaching things is dangerous. I didn't want to be "Down syndrome mom". I didn't want to join support groups and suddenly become friends with a bunch of moms whose kids have Down syndrome. I just wanted to live our life. But every time I held Spencer or fed him or played with him, I was so happy. I really felt unconditional love for this little noodle. He was so strong, so brave, so tough. And just all-around awesome. Those were the moments were things WERE exactly as I had planned. But It was difficult to balance my emotions. It still is sometimes. The whole experience has made me really soft yet really hard. There isn't much of an in between. When something new comes into your life, you suddenly see it everywhere. You can't escape it.  Every morning, I couldn't wait to get Spencer out of his crib. Every day was an adventure. But the moments when I was alone, or he was asleep, I just had no control over my brain. Or my heart. I couldn't help thinking about the future. Worrying about things that might never happen. About things that are out of my control. I remember once saying I was going to take a shower and Todd telling me to take my time, to try and relax. And I started bawling saying that I HAD to take a quick shower. It HAD to be fast. I could not be alone with myself for too long. I'd say for about a month, my parents or sisters came over every day and that helped. Everyone loved him. Everyone LOVES him. It's a huge comfort. It's a huge relief. No one that I give a damn about has ever treated him differently than your typical child. He has a huge network of family, adoptes aunts and uncles and cousins, all of our friends, all of his healthcare professionals, his teachers, his therapists...he has more friends on Facebook then Todd and I do combined! I never thought I would shake the pain but one day, I just woke up, had stopped crying, and had moved on! I still worry and it's still hard, but the pain endes. My son is perfect. Yes, he is not what we expected, but honestly, what DID we expect? He really is more. He is more than I could've asked for and better than I expected. He has been awesome since day one. He has made me a better person. He has taught me more about love than anyone in my life. He has made me stronger. 

Not every day is easy though, and I've accepted that there will be harder days ahead. If you've visited this blog before, you know that Spencer did get diagnosed with leukemia at 18 months old. Also at 18 months old, while going through chemo, he was called "that retarded ass kid" by a total bottom dwelling bitch. I sometimes wonder if she ever feels badly about that, but I'm pretty sure I know the answer. It's people like her that make me worry about his future. It's not him, it's the world. But I've come to realize that things like this happen with any kid! You could be the most popular, most beautiful, most athletic, smartest, funniest, whatever, and you are going to have a hard time at some point in your life. And no matter what child you end up with, as soon as you become a parent, you wear your heart on your sleeve. You are open to all kinds of pain you never thought possible. But you're also open to all kinds of love you never knew existed. All kinds of awesomeness. I'm not going to say that I don't wish things were different. I wish that things could be easier for Spencer.  But if things were different, would he still be Spencer? I wouldn't trade him for anything. Not for all the money in the world. If I knew THEN how it would be NOW, how I would feel about him, how well he would be doing, how awesome my little family would be, I wouldn't have shed ONE TEAR then. And that's the truth. Maybe this is difficult to read. It was difficult to write. But it's something I've been holding in for three years. I'm notashamed of  Spencer's disability in ANY WAY! I'm not embarrassed about his Down syndrome. Writing this is just another step towards moving forward in life. I think I've gone through some of the most difficult things a person can go through and I'm still holding my head up high. We're all happy, healthy, and truckin'. Life is good.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Creative Title: Longer Part Of The Creative Title


I have a raging, eyeball bursting headache. It seems like I always have a raging headache these days. It's probably a brain slug. Or my brain is trying to officially escape out of my skull. I was actually supposed to have an MRI recently (because on 2 occasions, it seemed like I stroked out) but it was cancelled because my insurance company needs to be persuaded that it's necessary. Seeing that my nurse practitioner referred me to a neurologist and said neurologist thought an MRI was a good idea...OF COURSE insurance would cancel it. So my brain is probably slowly rotting away in there. Or, more likely, I have complicated migraines that won't get treated. Whichever, I'll deal. I've become a pro at "dealing".

I've been trying to do a little self-tuning lately. I always put my kids first (as I SHOULD) and that sometimes doesn't leave a lot of extra time for mom maintenance so things get put off and I start falling apart from top to bottom. Which is fine but then it all piles up and next thing you know, I'm seeing 800 doctors and I seem like a hypochondriac or like I've got one foot in the grave. Between semesters, I decided to see my nurse practitioner to take care of my check list. It's been more work than I thought.

Right off the bat, I had to deal with this weird insomnia/anxiety thing I've been dealing with since Spencer came home from the hospital last year...actually, we just hit the 1 year anniversary! That is far too long to not sleep. My NP had prescribed something that's actually used for eating disorders but works for insomnia. But it makes you want to eat anything that will stand still all day, every day. So I was constantly eating and running (to counteract the eating), and though it would get me to sleep, it wouldn't keep me asleep and I'd panic for hours about my busy life. I've been seeing a therapist, at the suggestion of my NP, to sort of figure out how to manage my stress. It's been REALLY great and VERY eye-opening. But there isn't much I can cut out of my life to decrease stress. Even she said my life is exhausting. It exhausts her. So I'm going to keep going to therapy but I can't keep taking that med. To really get the proper med for my brand of insomnia, I'll need to see a psychiatrist. Just add it to my list.

On top of all that, 


OK, I started writing this post in September and just never got around to finishing it. I had an MRI, stopped taking the insomnia med (tried another one that sucks just as much so I'm basically in zombie mode and constantly in need of a nap), found out I have a uterine fibroid in a weird place and some ovarian cysts, one of which is bleeding and being annoying overall (we're monitoring all of that jazz for now). I have another ultrasound and check-up in a few weeks, along with a trip to the dermatologist to look at a suspicious freckle or two.

Spencer had a field trip that was a little upsetting for me but I'm not going to talk about it here because it makes me feel like a totally weak, asshole so I've been talking to one of my besties insteadS, he was the Honored Hero and a total superstar at the Light The Night walk (and I didn't botch my speech), and he hit ONE YEAR CANCER FREE! Todd and I celebrated that milestone at a local beer tasting called Brewzilla, and celebrated 5 years of a murder-free marriage last month.  Sylly is so damn smart, it's scary and he balances his time being the sweetest, most loving little boy on Earth and being an utter tornado. And I've spent time with friends, old and new, am doing well in school, preparing for the PFG reunion and a Kalahari trip, and the house is still standing and ready for Halloween.

I had to type this hiding out in the laundry room. There's only a hair appointment and pumpkin carving on the calendar this week. It's the last semi-empty week for awhile so I'm trying to do all the stuff that gets out last. Blogging, organizing cupboards, pairing socks, answering e-mails. I feel a little lost but that could be from lack of sleep. Or just from this life. I could be babbling at this point. Pretty sure I am. Pretty sure I should stop.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Riding The Emotional Surf: Bang, Bang, Blather, Rattle, Crash, Bang, Boom!

Someone posted one of those goofball quotes yesterday that really struck a chord/cord (not sure which) with me: Never push a loyal person to the point where they no longer give a damn.

I feel like I'm there. In No-Longer-Give-A-Damn-Ville. It's a bad place to be. It's a place where you just throw your hands up and say WHATEVER to the world. Where things that should upset you or excite you or enrage you just sort of make you shrug your shoulders and truck on. No reaction of note. There are several things that brought me to this place. Some are out of my control and some I just don't have the energy or motivation to work on anymore. It's almost easier to just feel blank. This is all very emotional and wishy-washy and wordy/poetic, which I loathe. But this is how it is right now. I feel like I can't get in front of things so I'm just going to stop and stick my head in the sand for awhile.

Speaking of sand, I made it home safely from Mexico. Didn't get kidnapped by an imposter taxi can that preys/prays (again, I don't know) on travelers. International travel is bananas. Lots of hoops to jump through and it takes a lot out of you, physically...just waiting in lines and getting on and off planes. But I got to spent time in 4 separate airports (LOVE AIRPORTS), get to know a pal better, and get a stamp in my passport! I hope it isn't the last (I'm coming for you next, London). I ate a lot of good food, I drank a lot of good drinks, I had a lot of good conversations, and I spent some memorable time under an umbrella, poolside, reading "Most Talkative" by Andy Cohen. Eating, drinking, and lounging are vacation staples. Downsides? Realizing that I get just asmotion sick now as I did as a kid, not knowing when I'll see Lisa again, and missing my little dudes PAINFULLY. My next vacation will include them...hopefully next Spring in Disney World.

I'm wrapping up the school semester and if all goes my way, I'll have straight A's. Im pretty excited about that and have been getting a few pats-on-the-back from my professors. I'm not bragging, they just came at a time when I felt like I was screwing everything up all over the place. Encouragment is good stuff, especially from strangers who don't HAVE to give it to you. My 3 week break from school is going to be the exact opposite of a break. I think I have 7 appointments scheduled between Spencer and myself during that time (including being a speaker at a Light The Night fundraising event). Have to cram it all in before Spence starts his new preschool! Next Wednesday is his last day of the Early Intervention program which makes me as emotional as Robot Me can be right now. He has come suuuuuuuuch a long way since starting there. Walking, now running, doing steps, talking more...still the hardest working guy I know. And he's going to be 3 next week!!! But HE. WAS. JUST. BORN! 

And little hurricane. He is such a charmer and so damn smart. When I say he's 22 months, people are shocked. His personality is larger than life. He is larger than life! He knows what he likes, what he doesn't, and how to get his way. He's sneaky. He's crafty. He's curious. He's my red pepper, for sure, and he's full of love. During this period of...ennui?...he always knows the right time to dole out hugs and kisses. He knows went to put a pause on the crazy and do a little bonding. He's a mama's boy and I can't imagine my life without him. In less than 2 years, I've experienced so much with him. I love watching his mind work. I don't love when he spits at me. That's just disgusting. But sometimes he has to play second fiddle to Spence. Sometimes I feel like he gets gypped. Sometimes I'm guilty of gypping him. So maybe he acts out because of it. Or maybe he is just a 2 year old red head!!! Either way, he is the adventure in my life.

Talking about them makes my heart full.

Now I need to go make my belly full.

And watch Rocky. For school. For real.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mid-Summer: I Blinked And Time Disappeared

This will be a short, boring, light and fluffy post for a change. I'M KIDDING, of course. It's been a month so that means that one gazillion things have happened and that I'm sleepwalking through life most of the time. So here is your monthly (so much for my plans to go weekly...what's that saying about making plans?) drama-filled update:

Spencer had his MRI, MRV, and spinal tap as I mentioned in the last post. I wasn't there because I had to attend the meeting with all the preschool folks. He's in!! He starts Bright Beginnings preschool in the Brunswick school district in September. I've heard it's really amazing and all the therapies have set some great goals for him so I'm excited to see what he achieves. He's a bad ass! Anyway, back to the hospital...all looked good. Cranial pressure was still normal from when they removed fluid during the previous tap and nothing fishy to indicate why his nerves are swollen. This was both a good and bad outcome. Good because nothing horrific was wrong. Bad because if something WAS wrong, they could fix it and we could be done with this but there's nothing obvious presenting itself. Still in limbo. Phantom swelling. So his Oncology team sort of washed their hands of it for the time was really up to the Opthalmologist how often he wanted to monitor Spence. Even though we were scheduled to have the stents in his tear ducts removed in 4 months, we were going back in 1 just to stay on top of things.

So 1 month takes us to last week. I took Spencer to his post-surgical follow up. We're not even sure if the tear duct surgery worked. At least not 100% anyway. His eyes are clearer but not clear. We'll have to see what happens over the next few months. But what blew my already frazzled mind is that his nerves look WORSE. In 4 weeks the swelling has gotten worse. The doc said it was "quite significant", so he wanted to see him again in 2 months. WTF?? It's progressively gotten worse and no one can do anything about it? These are his EYES!

We managed to have a little fun camping at Pymatuning State Park for 3 days. Sully was pretty good for being such a busy body. My little timebomb. It wasn't a perfect mini-vacation but it was fun to do something besides school and doctor's appointments...which started back up when we got home. This time it was the Oncology clinic. He's gained a little weight (finally at 28 pounds!) and looks physically good, per usual. The Neurologist was there and she was up to date on the goings-on at the Opthalmologist. I should just start referring to them as the eye guy and the brain guy so I have to type less. Anyway, Eyeball & Brainy were on the same page about the increased swelling and they think it's time to bring in...a brain/eyeball guy! Yes, it's time to add a Neuro-Opthalmologist to his team! That actually exists. The bottom line is that if this is actually papilledema, he's at risk to lose his eyesight. The NO is all about the nerves, that's his gig. Hopefully he can be a tie-breaker or say something more concrete. I will NOT let him lose his eyesight. This kid has had ENOUGH.

His Oncologist thinks we're...he didn't say "blowing it out of proportion"...but he's not AS concerned. Then again, he does agree that the eyesight could be in jeopardy if it truly is papilledema so he's on board with Spencer seeing the NO. On top of all this nonsence, something was off about his white blood cells. No abnormal cells were spotted but the counts were lower than the last visit. This could just mean that Spence had a bug. He did have a verrrrrry low fever at school that morning. But since the numbers changed, we're back on monthly visits. I could've cried but if the numbers bounce back, the appointments will stretch out again. And at his next appointment, he'll have an ECHO since it's been almost 1 year since treatment ended. Chemo can damage the heart so that's another thing to stay on top off.

In happier news, Spencer might be involved in some fancy pants benefit in the Fall. I REALLY hope he's selected because it sounds amazing. With that and being the Honored Hero at the Light The Night walk, this kid is going to be pretty popular this year! Our Light The Night team has raised $735 and the fundraising has just begun! I can't wait to see what we can pull off by October. We'll never be able to repay everyone for what they've done to help our family but this is a way we can do some good. 

And in additional happy news, I'm getting my first passport stamp this week! I'm leaving the country with Sugar and meeting Lisa in Cancún! Lisa and Todd planned the trip on the sly as a thank you (a WAY TOO EXTRAVAGANT thank you) for helping with Lisa's wedding...which I loved doing. I didn't need a trip to an all-inclusive resort, but I'm not gonna say no!!! I haven't been on vacation since our Honeymoon and the last 3 years have been beyond stressful. I could use an umbrella drink and some girl time. I'm experiencing some anxiety about leaving the boys...I've never left them both, not even for an overnight...but I need this. I have books to read poolside, 3 new bikinis, and a new haircut (as of first in 15 MONTHS, gross).

I promise, promise, promise to post some pictures soon but for now...OLÉ!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Rollercoaster Never Stops: Suffering Through Shit With A Smile

I really and truly don't even know where to begin. See, this is where blogging on a more regular basis truly comes in handy. So much has been going on since I made an appearance here that I don't even know where to start. I'm buried in updates. And they are by no means "fluff" so I feel the need to document them. If I repeat myself, it's been at least a month so I'm sure you will get over it. I guess I will just dive right in and hope I don't drown.

The day before Spencer's last clinic appointment he had a follow up at the ophthalmologist. The last time he had been there they noticed his optic nerves were swollen but that can be common in kids like Spencer. They just wanted to take another peek and see if things looks the same. They didn't. The swelling had gotten worse over just six weeks. Was pretty quick to see a change. FFFFFF! His ophthalmologist recommended that he see a neurologist and get a spinal tap to check for any increased cranial pressure. So of course I'm freaking out. And on top of this optic nerve business, they suggested that Spencer have surgery on his lacrimal ducts (a.k.a. tear ducts). They were pretty blocked up so his eyes were always goopy. Wasn't particularly necessary or anything life-threatening but they thought it would be beneficial to do the procedure, even though it's only 85% effective or sometimes needs to be repeated. I cried the whole way home from the appointment because this kid never gets a break and he's not even three years old yet. The whole mess meant he had to go under anesthesia again and he had to get poked-n-prodded again and he would have to get morphine again and it's JUST. NOT. FAIR.

So the next day we go to his clinic appointment and I get his oncology team up to speed with what happened the day before. After a visit from an in-house neurologist, everyone was on the same page and agreed that the spinal tap would be a good idea even though he didn't show any other signs of increased cranial pressure and his bloodwork didn't show any signs of the cancer returning. The problem was this: if there was a blockage anywhere that was causing the swelling of the optic nerves, the spinal tap could be very dangerous. This meant he had to get a CAT scan in advance. They kept reassuring me that nothing was emergent but they still wanted to get the ball rolling.

As for the clinic appointment, everything looked great. Appointments are still every two months, which is far better than EVERY month. Endocrinologist did adjust his thyroid medication a little but it was nothing drastic. He had just outgrown his baby dose. His Hypothyroidism is truly the least of my worries. Onward.

Even though I kept being reassured about how great he looked and how they didn't think anything serious was going on, it was still a miserable time for us. Even thinking that there was a remote possibility that the leukemia was back kept me up at night. And his communication delays mean he can't tell us if his head hurts or his vision is spotty. He's just been through too much for such a little boy. I'm so angry! Not even sure who or what to be angry at so it never goes away. So one week ago with the crack of dawn, I took my smiling, happy, goofy, mohawked little dude downtown to get a CAT scan and it was probably the easiest thing he's ever had to go through. He was a champ and giggled the entire time. It took me longer to park at the hospital than the actual CAT scan took. In and out. Afterwards, we went for pancakes, just us. I think it was more to lift my spirits but we had a great time. And later that night we got great news: there were no blockages and it was safe to do the tap.

So that brings us to last Thursday, better known as Surgery Day. Todd took the day off to be there. It always helps to have someone else around to help out. We were at the hospital at 6 AM and by 7:15, they had carried him back to surgery. Seeing him in the little surgical gown with tigers on it always bums me out no matter how adorable he looks. He's just worn that damn thing too many times. After getting addicted to an app called QuizUp in the waiting room, the docs came out, the surgery went well and he was a champ, per usual. His eyes should be nice and clear within a week. The ophthalmologist wants to see him in a month just because of all the nonsence going on but the stents in his ducts will stay in for four months. Easy breezy.

He took a better look at Spencer's optic nerves once he was under anesthesia and they looked even more swollen. Now that he had evaluated them three times, he had a baseline to compare things to, and the swelling was increasing. Because of this they went forward with the spinal tap and they did measure an increase in cranial pressure. Normal is from 10-20 and his was 23, so really it was sort of borderline and didn't really point them in any sort of direction. When they removed some of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) during the tap it did bring the pressure into normal range. It's hard to explain this whole thing to people because according to the team of doctors, there are tons of reasons why his optic nerves could be swollen and tons of reasons why the cranial pressure could increase or it could end up being nothing other than it's just part of who he is. In that case they would just have to keep a close eye on it probably for the rest of his life to make sure it doesn't affect his vision. I almost wanted to be something because if it's something, then they can fix it. I don't like thinking that his optic nerves are just going to be swollen for the rest of his life. He's got enough going on to freak me out with.

So a few days later we got what was probably the most important call. No leukemia cells were present in the cerebrospinal fluid. WHEW! The big dog had been ruled out. Now we just need to figure out what's what, rule out some other things...and that means more test. We are in the process right now of scheduling an MRI of his brain and orbits, and an MRV, which looks at the veins surrounding the brain. He will have to be sedated for this or possibly go under anesthesia again. Hoping they can avoid the latter. They will also do another spinal tap to see if the cranial pressure has increased since his last tap. This will be happening either at the end of this week or beginning of next week. Never a dull moment over here. So as of now we are still in limbo but he has great doctors looking out for him. Everyone is working together to find an answer.

So that's all of the medical nonsense. Can you feel my anxiety? It's like humidity in the air.

This Thursday we have the big meeting with all of the evaluators regarding Spencer going to city preschool. PT, ST, OT, school psychologists, teachers, his EI team, his Help Me Grow coordinator... They have all is evaluated him in one way or another and will report their findings. I feel like it will resemble going in front of a firing squad. A whole group of people telling me where my son is struggling. Where his biggest delays are. What he should be doing that he's not. I've developed a much thicker skin over the past 2 1/2 years but I'm not sure my heart can take too many more hits. It makes me feel like I'm failing as a parent. I know they all want what's best for him but that doesn't make it any easier to hear. And as a child with special needs, he HAS to be delayed in certain areas/meet certain criteria to even qualify for the program. But it still kills me that I can't just sign him up for any old preschool program like other parents do without him being picked apart like a chicken wing. I've heard this is an awesome program and people with typical kids want their children to go there. Everyone is treated the same. I want him to go to preschool with these kids in the school district because in the long run, these are the kids he's going to grow up with. It just bums me out, but I'll never let him know it. He's the hardest working man I know. Hands down.

Now that I've put all of my stress on the page, what else is there to say? I survived my finals and have moved onto summer semester. Taking a few classes to raise my GPA and keep me in school mode. I will be CPR certified in a few weeks. My workout program is still getting results (down 8 pounds and 11 1/4 inches) and I've started training for a 5K again. Hoping to do one in the Fall just to prove to myself that I can. Saw Lady Gaga for the 3rd time with my niece (who just graduated high, I'm getting OLD). Had a Memorial Day cookout with some pals. Always kicking it with Sully...who is just as awesome as ever and waaaaay too smart. I love watching his mind work and he has a huge heart. As I said before, I can't wait to have some summer adventures with him (and Spence!) because last summer was just too chaotic. So that's that.

I'm really hoping to stay on track with blogging. It's a way for me to talk things out (which reminds me...I did this post using Talk-To-Text so ignore any weir spelling, grammar, or word choices). I'm at least going to try to check in once a week so maybe if doesn't sound like all he have going over here are major traumas and drama. So thanks for sticking around. I will definitely be back after we get results from the MRI the other test to keep Spencer spans up to date.

Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Life: Not Always Bubbles and Cotton Candy and Hula-Hoops

My brain aches. Literally and figuratively and dramatically. I'm milliseconds away from sticking something über-pointy in my ear to pierce my gray matter and scramble everything around a bunch. Make a real mess out of things, as dramatically as possible.

Yep. No friendly greeting today.

Next week is finals week and I couldn't be more ecstatic to be done with this semester. Organic Chemistry is no joke. It's tested me. It's tested my classmates. It's a make-or-break class. But I want to be a nurse so I need to press forward. I just need to survive one more week. But then I'll blink my eyes and it will be time for the next round of intellectual torture: Micro lecture and lab, Life Span Development, and CPR. Summer fun, am I right?

I'm actually pretty excited for summer since last year, we spent the whole season in and out of the hospital. I've just bitten off more than I can chew right now with school, 2 young kids, and maintaining this household. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot but every single one of my days is crazy from start to finish. I don't feel like I have a lot of help at home anymore. Not anything that's constant anyway. But I guess if you're not going through the nursing school process, you can't understand how hard it really is. It's not something I can explain. It's a full time job, for sure. I can't do EVERYTHING yet it's like I'm expected to. But I chose this. All of this. So I guess I shouldn't complain. I'm just so worn out and there's no real break in site.

Until Mexico.  It's going to be like a 5 day nap...with salt and limes on the side. I can't wait to recharge these batteries. I've needed something like this for almost 3 years now. It's been a LONG 3 years...


Spencer started the evaluation process to transfer into the Brunswick schools. Like I've said before, the whole thing makes me nervous because the school he's at now is like a nice, supportive, comfy bubble. They love Spencer and I cannot stress that enough. Every tiny thing he does is a major accomplishment in their eyes. Unless you have a child with a developmental disability you can't really understand how huge even the smallest things are. Spencer said JUICE and DID IT yesterday and you would have thought I won the lottery. I had been nervous about him moving into the city school system because I didn't know how supportive they would be and I was worried that maybe he would be the only one who was a little different.

My worries were calmed a little after a meeting at his future (fingers crossed) preschool and I've heard nothing but good things about their program. In every classroom, there are eight special needs children and four peer students. And a mom friend of mine says you cannot tell the difference between the kids when you look into the class. Everyone is treated the same and they all enjoyed being in each other's company. They learn from each other. It's a very in-demand program. People want their typical kids to go there.

He was already evaluated by the school psychologist and she couldn't have come on a better day! It was the first time he had taken unassisted steps in front of his teachers and he was very chatty and social. They were so excited. She was impressed. Next we will have a couple of lengthy phone calls to go over some history, he'll be evaluated by a physical therapist, and a few people will come to do observations within our home. There are some things he may not do in school that he does here and they want to see all of his potential. 

Even though I am certain he will be accepted into the city schools, I'm still nervous and slightly blue. There is a part of me that is still so mad that he has to jump through all of these hoops. He can't just go to a regular preschool like every other kid. I love him more than I can possibly put into's just that sometimes I still wish he was your typical, average bear...for his own sake. I feel sick when I think about him struggling. But I know all kids struggle, I certainly did. I've done my best to stop thinking about the future because those are things that may never happen and my time is wasted on that. But it's time to transfer into the city schools so, I guess the future is here. 

We will know June 5th what the decision is.

As for the medical side of things, he has his next clinic appointment on Wednesday. It's been two months so I really can't complain, even though I hate going. I hate the cancer aspect of our lives (which seems to be just about everywhere these days). The clinic is move to a new location and I'm actually pretty pumped to see it. The staff there loves him and haven't seen him in a while so it'll be a good day as long as we don't receive any weird news. I'm not really expecting any. Maybe a change in his thyroid medication but that's going to be a possibility for the rest of his life. 

Poor Sully. It always seems like he gets the short end of the stick. People are drawn to Spencer because of all his crazy circumstances. There's just a lot to talk about when it comes to him but that doesn't mean that Sullivan doesn't deserve some major attention. He is awesome through and through. So smart and so funny and so so so crazy! I don't know what I would do without my little red pepper. He spices up even my darkest days. He always knows when I need an extra tight hug or a good smooch. He's such a pal.


My one-month work out group has come to an end. Our before and after pictures and measurements were due on Monday. I'm happy to report that at least for me, the whole thing was a success! I lost 4.1 pounds (and still dropping), 10", and a pants size. And I'm not stopping there. My particular workout program has a schedule that goes for 20 weeks and I'm going to do my damnedest to make it the whole 20! I like the way I'm starting to look and Todd has even noticed the difference. It's really, really, really hard but every day gets a little bit easier which makes me feel kind of proud. I don't know if I'll make it to my goal weight by July but I'm willing to trade the number on the scale for how my legs and stomach and arms are looking.  It's only going to get better as long as I stay focused and determined. It's the one thing I do for myself and JUST for myself everyday.

So it's time for me to go do it!

I'll blather at you again soon!

17 days until Lady Gaga.
29 days until my next weigh-in.
51 days until my godchild's high school graduation & Jen's wedding.
70 days until my weight loss goal deadline.
77 days until Mexico! Olé!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Where Does The Time Go?: A Quarterly Report

It's already April, which blows my mind. Time goes so slowly when you're a kid and then suddenly you hit a certain age and BOOM! Days are like speeding bullets. I feel like my little dudes were just born but it's not true. It makes me so sad even though I'm so excited to see who they become and have great adventures with them. I don't know why I'm rambling like this so early in the morning. I guess it's because I realized it's been a month and a half since I blogged last. No, that couldn't be! But it can and is. And here I am, rambling.

I'm half way through a month long workout group I joined. Everything happens at home but the online group is there for support and motivation, which is something I need. Knowing I need to report my weight and measurements to other people after a month holds me accountable. I've been making better eating choices and I'm really starting to feel some changes in my body. A little definition here and there. They (yes, the all-powerful THEY) say it takes 4 weeks for you to notice a change, 8 weeks for your family/friends, and 12 weeks for the world. My entire program is 20 weeks. I can not quit. I love the new energy and sense of accomplishment I'm feeling. Now I want to love how I look in short-shorts and bikinis! May sound shallow but it's what I want and I'm the only one who can make it happen.

Not much more to report about me. The nursing programs are full for Fall so I can't start until the Spring. I was heart broken. The plan for nursing school was set in motion before Leukemia took over.  Taking care of Spencer was priority #1. My plans had to be shuffled around so there were setbacks. But Todd is very supportive and didn't see it as a big deal. It's a few more months. I'm going to take a class or 2 over the summer to boost my GPA and get me ahead. I just can't wait to get in those scrubs. I feel like I have so much to prove. Like there are still people expecting me to fail or quit. It just motivates me more. I'm no longer letting anyone's negative energy pull me down. I'm using it as fuel. I have no space in my life or hours in my speeding-by days for people who suck. Awesomeness only.

Speaking of awesomeness...

My little dudes aren't so little anymore (crying on the inside). Spencer is making some great strides. Now is a very exciting time for him. He FINALLY took his first unassisted steps!! He has been walking more and more with the assistance of a gait trainer they provided for him at school. He is going to be off and running in no time. He has added a few more words to his vocabulary and is definitely understanding everything that's going on around him. His receptive speech is fantastic and I know he will be talking our ears off soon enough. At school they said that when kids focus on one skill like walking other skills like talking fall by the wayside until they accomplish what they've set out to do.  This is true for all kids.

In the next few weeks we will start meeting with people from the Brunswick school district, along with people from his current school. They will do a series of evaluations to see if he is ready to move to a preschool within the school district. He could stay at his current school but in the long run, he's going to be in the city schools. I want him to be with everyone he's going to grow up with. I'm nervous about him leaving his nice supportive bubble, but it's still preschool where everyone wants to play together and be friends. I need to stop worrying about things that are not happening right now. He's not getting picked on and he's not getting laughed at and he's not struggling. And if we're lucky those things will never happen because he's a great kid. I just still can't help but feeling like he got shafted. He's so so sweet and awesome and I hate to see him struggling but he doesn't even realize that he is. He just enjoys his life. He's happy so I'm happy. 

And what do I say about Hurricane Sullivan?? That kid blows my mind on a daily basis. He's running, climbing, jumping, diving, doing everything possible to terrify me! Definitely still my adventure baby. And he is so smart. He's been saying hundreds of words and short sentences for awhile now, he can count to five, can associate tons of animals with their sounds (including the fox which apparently says DING DING), can sing parts of songs, follow tons of commands, problem solve on his own, and just a plethora of cool things. But he definitely uses that big brain of his to be very sneaky. But I love my sneaky little redhead. My red pepper. He is so cuddly and snuggly and sweet and he gives the best hugs! I love getting to know him more and more every day. He is great motivation for Spencer. They're just the best of friends. It looks like good weather is right around the corner so I know we're going to have an awesome summer together because these kids are in exploration mode. So curious. So awesome.

So it looks like things in my life are still kids, school, self, and I'm okay with that. Like I said, spring and summer are right around the corner and there are so many cool things we plan on doing as a family. I want my kids to grow up having cool memories of their childhood like I do. Even simple stupid things like coloring Easter eggs together. But outside of mom-mode, I do have some cool events coming up that I am personally excited about. It's cool to have things to look forward to. It's cool to not necessarily feel like your head is going to fall off all the time. Life is good. Even when it's not, it is, if that makes any sense at all.

COOL was the overused word today!

13 days until my weigh-in.
40 days until Lady Gaga.
74 days until my godchild's high school graduation & Jen's wedding.
93 days until my weight loss goal deadline.
100 days until Mexico! Olé!!!
117 days until Road Rash Bash.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Overwhelmed: The Best, If Not Most Boring, Word To Sum Things Up

Yes world, I am 35. 35 and overwhelmed.

I don't mind the being 35 part. My 30s, though chock full of insanity, have actually been more fulfilling than my 20s. I celebrated turning 35 how I wanted to. Had dinner with my parents, Todd, and the kids on the actual day and then had an awesome time at karaoke with friends on the weekend. It was the first time Todd and I went out without the kids for something other than a wedding in a looooooong time. People drank, people sang (I rapped...Paul was awesome and exhausting), people danced. It was exactly what I spend time with people who wanted to have a good time. Success. Welcome to 35.

Post-birthday, everything became wedding-centric. I took my Matron-Of-Honor (or Iron Maiden-Of-Honor, as I chose to call myself) duties very seriously. Lisa could've chosen anyone but she picked me. That's the honor part. I was honored. So I did my best to make it a good experience for her, like my MOH did for me. It was a lot of work but it was so worth it. Maybe I did miss my calling. I loved all the extra time I got to spend with The Bride (I capitalize it as if we're watching Kill Bill). The night she arrived, we dropped our dressed off to be steamed and had dinner...and delicious Mai the venue. The next day, after all of Spencer's appointments, we had a Girls Night Out with some special guest stars. Dinner at Wasabi and tropical drinks at Porco and lots of gossip and reminiscing and chatter. And yes, I made her wear a veil the entire evening. And the weekend housed the rehearsal dinner and another night out, mani/pedis (I am not cut out for fake nails...less than a week later, they're gone), and the big day! The Bride looked incredible. Truly. She glowed. The room looked pretty good and I survived my toast, even getting a few laughs. I danced with both my husband and wife, and by the end of the night, it was a struggle to keep my eyes open. Wedding success. Pictures later.

And then it was over. The Bride returned home so I don't get to see her every day. And the planning is over so I feel a little lost. It's like when you get home from vacation and you get the blues because it's over. I have the post-birthday, post-wedding blues. I feel like I still should be getting ready for something but I'm done. It's done. Lisa and Jamie are married, I'm 35. There's been a lot of sighing over here. And it's not like I don't have things to look forward to. Game Of Thrones starts up again soon (make fun of me, I don't care, I read the books, it's my thing), I have 10th row seats to Lady Gaga, we have a wedding in May and in June (and if you know me, you know I love a wedding), and Lisa and I are going to Cancun in July. There are DEFINITELY things to look forward to.

But I still feel lost and overwhelmed, mostly by house, school, and self.

My house looks post-apocalyptic since I haven't had time to invest in keeping things straightened up. I've been a tornado the past few weeks. It's been grabbing and running and throwing and dropping. I hate living like this but right now, with feeling so sketchy and beat, I look at the mountains of laundry and just back out of the room, pretending it was a figment of my imagination. It's gross. And it makes me feel lazy. The kitchen is sticky, the living room is floor-to-ceiling toys and destruction. I just want to nap.

School is all-consuming since these are my last classes before I can enter the program and start clinicals. That's a lot of pressure since I need the best grades possible.. and it's a little intimidating, even though a lot of people in my classes are closer to my age than to post-highschool. I come from a family of late bloomers, career-wise, and I'm OK with that. I applied for my background check, was screened for titers, and got a TB test this morning. Next step, fingerprinting. And it all has to be done by next week!. Stupid deadlines. Pressure upon pressure. I'm a procrastinator. Some say I work best under pressure, but it's not really healthy.

The self stuff is the most annoying. The medication I'm supposed to be on for 6 months to a year to help my brain relax from the trauma of Spencer's treatment seems to have stalled. I'm not sleeping so well right now and I'm experiencing a little anxiety with no specific root cause at night. And I'm not feeling so great in my skin right now. I gained back some of the weight that I lost when I was at the hospital with Spence. I tried to set a little goal by the wedding but failed and that really made me blue. I'm stuck in this house or in front of this computer and it can get easy to eat poorly or snack a lot when you're busy, stressed, and confined to one space. I'm giving myself the weekend to goof off and then starting Monday, I'm getting back on track, and I'm taking Todd with me. My goal is to lose 20 pounds by July 1st and that's totally doable.

Today just really made me aware of how ick I was feeling because I was out in the world. I was really exhausted when I woke up, the kids weren't in the best moods, and I didn't get a chance to shower before the blood draw and my clothes weren't clean because I'm avoiding laundry... so I felt dirty and dumpy, which is not how I typically leave the house. I didn't have a babysitter so the kids had to go with me for my blood work. I struggled with the double stroller and the high winds made it difficult to push. Spencer's face was messy, I don't think I brushed my teeth, and Sully was particularly noisy. I was the picture of overwhelmed mom. And when I did get home...tornado city. I know it's just a day, or a week, and tomorrow, or next week, will be better.  I just hate feeling so exhausted and uncomfortable all around. It's for the birds.

Man, this was kind of a bummer of a post!

I need to give myself a pep-talk, pronto.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It's Been A Long Time Since I Rock-n-Rolled: Welcome To 2014

Let's get right down to it. I just suck as a blogger anymore but maybe that's a good thing. This use to be an outlet to relieve stress or dispel extra energy, a place to spazz out whether things were good or bad. Maybe I've just reached some sort of level ground. I'm by no means stress-free. I've got a toddler who is in remission from Leukemia and has developmental delays (though he's kicking major ass because, well, he's awesome), I've got a baby who is a fireball/bulldozer/cuddly tornado and is always doing something little ham, a full-time student's workload, and a plethora of other things going on. There's stress coming out of every orifice...but it's not keeping me up at night. It's not pop-your-top stress. I know how to manage it. I've become a pro-multitasker and organizer. It's just life. It got busy.

And I'm definitely not saying I'm giving up on the blog game. It's part of who I am. It's just not the first thing I want to do every day, you know? Not a major priority. And it probably isn't what people want to read anymore, to tell you the truth. Lengthy, adjective-riddled stories about tortured romance, impending self-destruction, and youthful shenanigans are a thing of the past. But I don't care. I've never written for anyone but myself anyway. Although, ugh, some of the things I look back on and read...posterity isn't always everything it's cracked up to be! But I'm sure everyone rolls their eyes at themselves and their pasts. And if they don't, I'm sure they should. And I'm the authority on this, HA.

So here we go. How has 2014 been so far?

I rang in the new year with my boys, and I'm not talking about Spence, Sully, or Todd. We had all been knocked out by some sort of bug for what seemed like an eternity and Todd was taking care of the youngins after working long days as I recovered. The boys I'm talking about are Jax, Chibs, Juice, and Tig. Ah, Sons Of Anarchy, how I love you. When most of your time is spent mothering, taking care of the castle, and expanding your brain, keeping the gears turning, you don't get a lot of alone time to just BE. So at midnight, I just WAS while watching havoc be wrecked on Charming, California. And after one of my favorite family meals of the year, I saw some of my favorite people (SCHULIENS) and had my first adult bevy of the year: a Holiday Cookie Stout at Fathead's with friends. Perfect. That's how I plan to spend my year. Having good times with the people I love. Or at least those who also want to have a good time, too.

Spence kicked the year off on a good note. Everything regarding his health is going in the right direction which is a major relief. Actually, I don't feel as freaked out about a recurrence as I thought I would. Kind of shocking. I thought I'd be losing my shit over every bruise and sluggish day or long nap but instead, I've just enjoyed watching him sprout. He's come so far. Anyway, he was chosen by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to be one of 2014's Honored Heroes. His story will appear in some of their fundraising efforts and I'll quickly tell his story as the walk this year. It'll be perfect timing as the walk will fall right around his one year anniversary of remission. It's all pretty exciting. He's definitely my hero. And so many people helped us, it's time to start giving back.

After missing a semester, in the paraphrased words of Grease 2, I went back, back, back to school again a month ago. I'm really digging my Organic Chemistry class, as of now anyway. These are my last classes before officially being in a Nursing program. I got a report recently saying that all my requirements will be met at the beginning of May, short of fingerprints and a background check. It's really exciting and of course, terrifying. I've had a lot of big ideas over the years that never came to fruition. This one is actually happening. Something I want to do will be done from start to finish. By the end of next year, I will be a nurse. Yes, it will put my family in a much better place financially, but I truly think it will be another way for me to give back. I can help people and support them. I can do something meaningful. Something that actually matters. Maybe I'll help save your life one day. And besides, wearing scrubs is the closest I can come to working in my pajamas. It was nurse or ninja and I don't think the market for ninjas is really booming. Not in Brunswick, OH anyway.

Last week, we hit the 1 year anniversary of Spencer's diagnosis. It was a bittersweet day. And there will be a lot of painful anniversaries in the next few weeks but I just need to remember that we all survived it. Everyone's heads are still screwed on.  It's still really hard not to think of how awful it was. It felt like it went on for an eternity but really it flew by. It's been a year. 1 year ago today, Phoebe and I went downtown and had all my questions answered about Spencer's treatment. I was in preparation mode. Sometimes I feel like I'm still on the outside of my life looking in. Those odd moments are getting fewer and farther between these days. But last year was a terrible year.

And a terrible birthday. Our whole world was crumbling down around us last year. But I'm making up for it. I've only got a few days left before turning 35. I don't mind it. I'm glad not to in my 20s anymore. That whole time period of my life was just a tornado. Anyway, I'm leaving last year behind and starting over...with karaoke!! A bunch of friends are getting together at Yorktown Lanes (who were nice enough to have karaoke on a Saturday because they're AWESOME) to rock out (and eat bowling alley food which is arguably the best cuisine). Like I said, I want to be around good people who want to have a good time this year. I have high hopes for 35. High, high hopes.

 I'll try and make some time to post some pictures here this week. I know it's been awhile. And with that...bye for now.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Goodbye, Farewell, So Long: A Big FU To This Craptastic Year Known As 2013

It's been a long time, Blog-o-Sphere. No excuses. It's just the way it is.

Reading one of my wifey's posts pushed me to get my lazy fingers a-typing and wrap up this bummer of a year. She's trying her damnedest to make 2014 a year where she gets her positivity back and that's good for her. I support what she needs and wants. I just want vengeance in 2014.

But vengeance on what? On who?

2013 was by FAR the worst year of my life, not that 2011 and 2012 were all bright and shiny. Spencer was diagnosed with Leukemia, he spent 100 days in the hospital receiving and recovering from chemo, my family was separated and/or stressed from February to September, I missed out on a lot of time with Baby Sullivan, and we've all suffered major setbacks. The outcome was of course the best. Spencer is cancer free and we all get to move forward. It's supposed to be a healthier, happier year starting next week.

But I don't FEEL happier.

Yes, Spencer is better (outside of being down due to the plague that's going around), we're home, and the nightmare to end all nightmares is over. Todd and I survived having a baby with cancer AND an infant. We're all stronger, smarter, and made of steel, evidently. But are we happier? Or happy at all? I've always said it...a person can only be knocked down so many times before they don't get up again. This year may have chipped away at me in too many places. I feel fragile and furious simultaneously. And I want someone or something to blame for making me feel this way. I'm not as forgiving as I once was. My feathers are easily ruffled. I feel out of sorts.

But this is by no means 24/7. Every morning when I get my kids out of bed with their jammies all sweaty, hair disheveled, and dragon breath in full effect, my heart melts. When Spencer lays his head on my lap or Sully goes "Mmmmmmm" waiting for a smooch, it's amazing. People find love, happiness, fulfillment, contentment in a plethora of places...I find mine in these 2 knuckleheads that I created out of thin air. So my whining about feeling off has nothing to do with them or who they are. It's just that this stupid effing year knocked the wind out of me and rather than shake it off and get over it, I want to knock the wind out of something. I want payback. A payback that will never come. I'll never get this year back the way I feel we deserve it.

I've always told Carol that you need to feel how you feel when you feel that way. And looking at 2013 in the rearview, I feel mad. And I have to feel mad and then ditch it rather than burying it.

I don't know if any of this made sense but it is what it is. I'll be happy to see 2013 go but I'm not sure when I'll exactly be able to let it go.

To end on a positive note, I did have an amazing Christmas with my family and it was everything I hoped it would be. The bug up my can went into hibernation for about a week and I didn't take a single second for granted. I hope everyone in the Blog-o-Sphere has an amazing holiday, too. Well, almost everyone. Let's be honest.

I promise to be more available in 2014.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Still Catching Up: Typing, Typing, and More Typing, Added To Typing

Geez oh man! Once again, I did not plan such a lengthy absence from the Blog-o-Sphere but every time I thought about blathering, I quit. No particular reason because we've had plenty of action at Castle Grayskull. I just said...nah. And I hate playing catch-up so you'd think I'd stay on point. But no, here I am, giving you a slightly hazy play-by-play of the last few weeks. Enjoy. Or don't, as while a lot of this is important, some of it is pure babble.

10/15: I binge-watched the first season of American Horror Story. I'm late to the game, I know. But I was in a fragile place when it first aired and could only handle light and fluffy. So I finally settled in to give it a shot and could NOT STOP WATCHING. It was incredible all the way up to the bogus ending. This may not seem important but I'm serious about my television-watching hobby. So...there's that. And just before midnight, I found myself driving to a local bar so that I could be there when...

10/16: nephew Brian turned 21 at midnight!!! It was fun to be there. I don't remember doing anything particularly special for my 21st which is a bummer. Or maybe I had the best time ever and the brain cells that remember that are dead. Onward. 

Stayed until last call and then crashed at home because it was a very big day. Spencer's post-treatment biopsy!! Todd took off work to go with us and it was a LONG day. But hopefully the last long day ever. He had an Echo under sedation because chemo can damage the heart. This would've been a major bummer because he was born with a strong heart. We didn't want the thing that was saving his life to leave long term damage. He had a bone marrow biopsy and a spinal tap and once he came out of sedation, we got to leave. 

The docs gave him Tylenol right away because they drilled into him several times to get a useable sample. Drilled is not an exaggeration. The tool looks like a cork screw. They said he deserved a "big treat" for all he went through in a day. We picked up Sully and got carry-out from Carrabba's which included a fancy dessert trio for our tough little guy. Then we just had to wait and hope we'd have a reason to celebrate that weekend. The wait was TORTURE.

10/17: While waiting for the big call, I restructured my workout/weight loss goals. I lost a lot of muscle tone I had built up in the hospital and gained back a few pounds. It was a bummer after all my hard work. But I set a goal for the end of the year and one by Valentine's Day. Hitting the rec 2-3 times a week. Again, this is just a boring tidbit for the record. 

10/18 - 10/20: The day dragged on and on and on waiting for the phone call from the docs. We had a mini-celebration in the works but we needed the word...and it wasn't coming. Every minute was creeping by. We were ready to start a celebration weekend but we needed something to celebrate. We needed an end to this nightmare. And then Todd got the call.


They did not detect any abnormal cells in his bone marrow or spinal fluid! They won't say he's "cured" until more time passes but this was so awesome. I was texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, calling everyone to let them know the great news. His appointments will be once a month for 6 months and then they will become more and more spaced out. We went to Tony Maloney's to kick off our celebration. I kept feeling that heat was coming off the top of my head. Dizzy excitement.

The next day, my family got together to celebrate the good news at Shinto. Spencer really loves the theatrics and it was good to get together for such a good reason. Aunt Sherry and Uncle Dan got him a sweet hat to commemorate the day we got the big phone call. He was so happy and the last 8 months felt like a dream. A nasty, horrific dream.

The last day of celebration weekend was spent at our kick-it spot, The Boneyard, watching the Browns game and just living and loving life. It had been a great (and fattening) few days and I was ready to get back to real life. A cancer-free life. I still can't believe we all made it through with our heads screwed on. 

A lot of people sent us pictures toasting Spencer's news over the weekend. Too many to post them all. We have and have had the best support system through all of this. It was a win for everyone.

10/22: Maybe we got a little comfortable riding the good news train. Something had to put us back in our place. The night before, Sully tried to scale the baby gate for the first time. Luckily, he was cautious and slow moving.

Not so much the next day. He succeeded in his climb and paid the price for being Adventure Baby. I took Sully out of his high chair and as I was getting Spencer, Sully went up and over the gate, smacking his head on the linoleum. It happened that fast. There was no way I could stop it.

It was HORRIBLE. His mouth was open and his face was red and scrunched as if he were screaming but no sound came out. Then I watched his eyes roll back and his body go limp in my arms. I'm not sure how long he was out but enough for me to call my sister screaming hysterically. I sped to the ER (and got reprimanded for not calling 9-1-1) and they rushed him right in. An initial exam looked good but the did a CAT scan (strapped to the table and terrified, it was enough to make me want to vomit) to be safe. No bleeding or serious contusions. It was deemed a Funcussion and we had to keep a close eye on him for a day. He moved slowly at times but overall, he was back to his happy self. I'm still mortified.

10/26: Pumpkin Carving Par-Tay!! My family came over and we ate, drank (my mom's first beer...we'll pretend she drank it all), and carved. We're making it a family tradition at Castle Grayskull. Family Traditions are awesome.


10/31: And wrapping up the month as well as our catch-up, we went to my mom's annual Halloween party. It was storming like crazy so the boys only did the Trick-Or-Treat thing at my parents' house but their bags were filled to the rim. It was another great Halloween for a The Ganserts.

I'll try to be less of a stranger! Spencer has his first check-up in a month next week so I'm sure I'll have nothing but good news to report. Or I'm hoping so anyway!

Thanks for sticking around.