December 31, 2011

2011 - An Emotional Year

I can't believe 2011 has come and gone.  Part of me is sad that my first full year as a mom is coming to a close however, there is a bigger part of me that is ready to tell this year "so long".

When I reflect back on 2011, my mind is filled with tests, medical procedures, worry, chemotherapy, a life saving bone marrow transplant, more worry, and even more medical procedures.  To say this has been the hardest year of my life would be an understatement. 

Thankfully, we also made some incredible memories as we watched our 4 month old change and grow into a precious, curious 16 month old!  I find myself reflecting, and searching for blog posts to relive the year. 

So, here is a recap of our 2011!

We kicked the year off with a Bulldog bowl game win!  Kate was the cutest little bulldog and loved cheering for her team!  Kate learned how to sit up, attempted cereal for the first time, and made the transition to her nursery and crib after 5 months in our room!

January also brought about Kate's first surgery to investigate her blood issues.  She had her first of several bone marrow biopsies.  Unfortunately, the biopsy in January did not really tell us anything and simply kicked off more testing.  I didn't blog about our journey to Kate's diagnosis but, the fact that we started our year in the OR was very telling to how hard, physically and emotionally, 2011 would be for our family.  I wrote a post about my feelings regarding my 4 month old being "put under" but never posted it.  I finally clicked post today as I really want my emotions and feelings regarding Kate's situation to be documented.  Reading that post shows just how naive Alex and I were.  I literally wrote "what if she has to go through horrible treatment to get better?" Clearly I had no clue what year would actually bring...

February was my last month as a stay at home mom (or so I thought - again, man was I clueless as to what this year would bring).  We enjoyed Gymboree class with friends, started the nanny search, celebrated Valentines day, realized our sweet girl wanted to be on the go early, visited the butterfly garden, enjoyed the beautiful Houston weather, and welcomed the Trail Riders to town to kick off the Houston Rodeo!  We also started our regular ER visits due to fever (thanks to a neutropenic baby) and spent at least 2-3 days a week at the Texas Children's Cancer Center working with our wonderful hematologist as we continued to search for the cause of Kate's extremely low ANC and platelets. 

I suited up (literally) and headed back to my 40th floor Downtown office in March.  I survived - and actually enjoyed being part time!  Kate visited the animals at the Rodeo, learned all about Mardi Gras from her native NOLA momma, remained a horrible sleeper, and made several trips to the Houston Zoo! March still did not bring us any answers on the medical front - we continued to make many visits to TCH, search for answers, and pray that it wasn't anything major.

April taught me the challenges of being a working mom - I was in the midst of quarterly stewardship reporting when Kate came down with strep throat.  It was a miserable week in our house - I worked 60+ hours (so much for part time) and cuddled a super sick baby.  We had amazing professional pictures made of Kate, she celebrated her first Easter and also decided that yoga would be a fun pastime!  In a last ditch effort to diagnose Kate, her doctors sent off genetic testing for several very rare disorders.  We were told "the chance of any of these being positive is extremely rare.  We just want to cover all of our bases."  Again, if we only knew what was to come...

May was a busy month!  I started the month off with a new toy and celebrated my first Mother's Day!  I also had a working mom with a sick baby break down.  Despite said break down, we managed to squeeze in lots of fun!  Trips to the beach, the zoo, and Florida to visit family!  Kate also took her first steps at the ripe age of 9 months!  Alex and I waited, rather impatiently, for all of the genetic tests to come back.  And enjoyed what we now realize were our last blissful days before a diagnosis took over our life.

On June 6 our lives were forever changed.  June is kind of a blur to me.  We tried to keep life as normal as possible but, Alex and I were both dealing with the emotions of being told your child has a life threatening genetic condition.  I vented my frustrations, answered questions, and made the decision that I would be stepping away from my professional responsibilities as soon as a donor was found.  We also celebrated the best Daddy ever!

My sister hosted a bone marrow donor drive in Florida in July while I spread the word of getting swabbed to help save so many lives! We celebrated Forth of July, made yet another trip to the zoo, transitioned to a big girl car seat, and got the best call ever!  On July 21 we found out that an amazing 24 year old man was a perfect 10 out of 10 match for Kate and officially agreed to save her life!  What an amazing day that was!

August would qualify as the hardest month of my life.  Kate's transplant was scheduled extremely fast which lead to stress.  We dealt with surgery for her central line, an admission, fever, postponed transplant, discharge, re-admission, chemo, and finally on August 31, Kate received her life saving cells.  During all of this craziness, we celebrated Kate's first birthday, got the surprise of our lives when we learned about baby #2 (and kept him a secret for almost 16 weeks), and lived in a hospital. 

September is yet another blur!  We spent the entire month in the hospital dealing with horrible things like mucositis, morning sickness (for me), the stress of watching Kate's counts like a hawk, and finally celebrating engraftment!  We also got to bring our sweet girl home after nearly 40 days in the hospital!

We transitioned to life back at home in October.  Sleep was a nightmare but we worked through it all!  We spent many days in clinic monitoring Kate's progress and even spent a few nights back in the hospital due to a fever.  Kate also started having issues with her liver which we initially thought was GVHD.  On the baby #2 front, I had my CVS testing done in October and we waited, and waited, and waited some more for results.

We made the big announcement about Will in November - and opened up about his health issues as well.  Kate had a liver biopsy that gave us absolutely zero answers and miraculously, her liver started healing on its own.  We had a low key, yet wonderful, Thanksgiving and really reflected on all of the blessings 2011 brought to us. 

I've become the worst blogger in December.  We've done a good bit this month but I am so far behind on recaps!  Hopefully I will finish up my December posts next week!  We had a wonderful Christmas and Kate got to leave Texas for the first time since May!  She had a blast in Mississippi! 

Looking back at 2011, I've realized that Alex and I are so blessed to have such an amazing support system.  Our faith, family, and friends have carried us through this year and we can officially say that we have survived the hardest year of our lives so far.  We are blessed that so many "strangers" have prayed for our family during this time.  We appreciate each and every one of y'all so much!

I am eager to see what 2012 brings.  I'm praying for continued healing for Kate, a smooth transition to two children, and health for Will so we can have a "normal" year and avoid major medical issues until his transplant in (hopefully) 2013.  However, I've learned that no matter what is thrown our way, we will somehow make it through!

December 26, 2011

Little Amish Kate


Kate is obsessed with hats lately - Alex's ball caps, winter hats, etc.

Last week, she found an old bonnet in her closet and deemed it the daily hat of choice.  We took it off for nap time but, she insisted Alex tie it back on while I was out running errands.  Here's the kicker, it had to be on backwards.

While I was unloading the dishwasher she picked up a wooden spoon and a bottle and started playing.  Alex and I could not stop laughing - she looked like such a little Amish baby churning butter! 

I guess the days of imaginative play and dress up have officially started! 

Love that girl and her silly personality!

December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours, we wish you the merriest of Christmases!  Remember to always count your blessings and keep the true meaning of the season at the center of your heart!!

"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isiah 9:6

Christmas kisses from Kate!

December 15, 2011

Two Miracles


Two miracles, saved by modern science and the good Lord!

Yesterday, Kate and I headed over to Trisha and Caleb's apartment for one last visit before they head home!  That's right, sweet Caleb has finally been cleared to head back to Wisconsin! 

I am selfishly sad they are heading home but, I am so excited for them!  Trisha and Caleb have been in Houston since this summer and I know they are both ready to be home with Joel, Isaac, and the rest of their family/ friends.  No matter where they physically are, I am blessed to know that Trisha will always be a text or phone call away!

Trisha,

You have blessed my life in so many ways.  I hate that we had to cross paths because of what our kids are dealing with but, I am forever grateful that the Lord brought you into my life!  He knew I needed your support and nursing knowledge during Kate's transplant and recovery.  But also knew I needed a friend and confidant when baby #2 was a secret to the world (and still need you now that Will is public knowledge).  It is so unlikely that I would cross paths with a fellow BMT mom, dealing with a genetic issue, that also knew the emotions associated with a surprise pregnancy #2. You are such a God send! 

As you said today, this is not goodbye, simply a see ya later!  We will miss y'all but are excited to hear about all of Caleb's adventures as he starts living life again, healthy, and free of all of the restrictions his condition placed on him.

See y'all in 6 weeks!
Alex, Lindsey, Kate, and Will

December 14, 2011

Wednesday Randoms

I am so far behind so I figured I'd just post some randomness and share some cute pictures!

*Most importantly - Kate's health.  Kate had a less than stellar clinic visit yesterday.  For some reason, her hemoglobin is low and she is yet again dependent on red blood transfusions.  This is not good, especially considering how far out she is from her transplant.  Several tests were ordered and we should hopefully have answers by the end of this week or the beginning of next week.  We will not know the severity of the issues until we know the cause of the low counts.  We are praying it is not the worst case scenario and is easily fixable!  In the meantime, Kate will be receiving red blood.

*Alex and I are horrible at waiting when it comes to giving gifts.  This meant that the day Kate's PBK anywhere chair was delivered, it was set up and put out!  Santa fail on our part but Kate loves it so I'm glad she is getting a few extra weeks enjoying it!  However, I think it is going to give me a heart attack!  Kate loves to do anything but sit in the chair!  This is what happens when I ask her to sit on her bottom.  Yeah, not exactly what I meant!

*Kate's hair is starting to grow back and her curls are making a return!  I love that her sweet curls are back!

*The paci addiction is back.  If you remember, Kate stopped taking her paci when she was going through chemo and developed really bad mucositis.  We've been battling major sleep issues so I caved one day and reintroduced the paci.  Much to my surprise, Kate took it and has basically had a paci in her mouth 90% of the day and night ever since.  I'm totally fine with it as her sleep has vastly improved (for us - it's still far from great).  We'll deal with breaking this habit at some point but, with a new baby arriving in less than 4 months, I need all the sleep help I can get!

*Kate has been busy.  Sending texts to her BFFs.  Making important calls.  You know, being 15 months going on 14.  NBD.

*Despite everything she's been through, Kate still loves life and loves to cheese for the camera!



*Arts and crafts are a current favorite over here!  Thankfully, some awesome person invented color wonders because there is no way my OCD self would let a toddler color with real markers!  I mean, I'm sure I would get over it if I absolutely had to but thankfully I don't!  We are big fans of the markers, paint pen things, and finger paints!  They are life savers since we are stuck in the house all the time.

*I'm pregnant with a gigantic baby - but an entire post about Will is coming soon (hopefully tomorrow)!

*This picture melts my heart - love that man and love that sweet girl so much!

December 9, 2011

Happy Day +100!!

In the perfect world, this would have been posted this morning. However, today has been a challenging day filled with toddler tantrums, pharmacy screw ups, and a stressed out momma eating McDonalds fries in total silence while a cranky baby finally napped in the car!

Regardless of the insanity that occurred today, I'm thrilled that Kate has met this "major" BMT milestone! She still has a ways to go in her recovery but, she will get there!!

I'm so proud of our little fighter and praying the next 100 days are uneventful and filled with even more healing!

On a somber note, this has been a very hard week in the BMT community. On Tuesday, a precious 18 year old girl, Darling, lost her fight and grew her wings. She had such a sweet spirit and always had a beautiful smile that brought so much joy to the patients of the 8th floor. Darling adored Kate and could always get her to smile! It breaks my heart that she will not be able to go to her senior prom - we had many conversations about it and she was so hopeful that she would be able to attend.

Rest in peace Darling. You will be missed but never forgotten.

If you could, please pray for her family as they mourn the loss of such a young woman. She fought long and hard and I hope everyone can take comfort in the fact that she is no longer in pain, reunited with her beat friend (who also lost her life entirely too young to cancer), and is completely healed.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

December 8, 2011

Blog Sponsors

Starting in January, I will be accepting sponsors here at We're Finally Three.  As a sponsor, your business, Etsy shop, etc will be featured on my sidebar.  I will also have a post every month dedicated to my sponsors to help promote your business!

If you are interested or have any questions regarding blog stats, fees, what information I need, or anything else you may be curious about, send me an email at werefinallythree@gmail.com.  Please put "January Sponsor" in the subject line!

The deadline for January Sponsors is December 27, 2011 so that I have enough time to pull everything together by January 1!

I'm looking forward to helping your small business grow - and also excited about exposing my readers to your awesome companies!  I think y'all will enjoy the sponsors that are already lined up!

December 6, 2011

A Gift to be Cherished


On August 31, Alex and I paced Kate's room, walked the halls, celebrated the joy of new beginnings, worried about when Kate's life saving cells would arrive, and cherished every moment with our miracle.

I can't explain the emotions of that day. 

We were so happy for Kate's second chance. 

So happy that Kate was hours away from being filled with healthy, strong cells. 

Cells that would save her.  That would save our family. 

Because let's be honest - our daughter was dying.  And I am not sure my family, my marriage, or myself would have survived losing her. 

While all of this was going on - while Alex and I were preparing for the biggest moment of our daughter's life - and our life - something else was going on somewhere in this country.

Another mother was nervous, excited, proud. 

Nervous to watch her son be taken back and put under general anesthesia. 

Excited to know that her son, the son she gave life to 24 years ago, would be saving the life of a precious baby. 

Proud that she raised such a wonderful young man.

I was pacing, she was knitting, and we were both praying - praying not only for our own child, but a stranger's child as well.

I now know what she was doing because today, I received a letter from this amazing woman and Kate received the blanket her donor's mother started crafting while her son was in surgery giving life. 

We knew we had a package waiting from Kate's donor but never in a million years did I expect something so personal, so heartfelt, or so perfect. 

To read the words "we count it a privilege to continue to pray.  Her artwork is precious to our son and family." took my breath away. 

When Kate opened her box, she gasped (her knew thing - she does it when she is excited) and gave the blanket a huge hug.  It's as if she knew it had special meaning.  She held it with pride and cuddled it as if it was a lovely she'd been attached to since birth.

It is evident that Kate's selfless donor learned his ways from his mother (and I'd imagine his father too).  There is no doubt.

This is a gift to be cherished.  Evidence that miracles happen.  That good people are still out there.  That we are on this journey with Kate's donor and his family.

I can't wait to see the journey this blanket takes.  Will it be taken to college?  Will it keep Kate's first child warm as she bring him/her home from the hospital? Will it be passed down to my grandchildren and great grandchildren?

One thing is for sure, any journey Kate and this blanket take is only possible because of the miracle our Lord worked 24 years ago when he created Kate's perfect match.

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December 2, 2011

iPhone Picture Dump

One day I'll get back into regular posts. I'm so far behind that I am overwhelmed!

But for now, some pictures from the good ole iPhone!

Kate wearing her beautiful SheShe Made Thanksgiving dress at clinic!



The sweetest baby boy profile I have ever seen! This was 1.5 weeks ago so I'm sure he has grown some more!




Checking out the Christmas tree!




So happy that LSU beat the hogs!!




Officially in the "rip off my bow every chance I get" stage. And yet another SheShe original!




Proof that Will is growing! He is so much lower than Kate was! This pregnancy is completely different than w/ Kate.




Playing with momma!




Ornaments from Bebe that Kate can actually touch! My tree is only decorated above Kate's reach so she can't break anything!





I hope everyone had a great week and has a wonderful weekend! Hopefully recaps and updates will happen this weekend!

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