Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Molly is Six Today!

In case you didn’t catch it in the title, here it is again:IMG_6565

Every year on Molly’s birthday, I take pictures of her throughout the day. Not just the exciting parts, but just a little bit of everything she does.

I post the multitude of pictures for those of you out there who are interested in every.little.detail. of Molly’s life (Grandma and Grandpa), but I mostly post them for Molly. This is not only her blog, but also her scrapbook.

Molly’s is having a big birthday bash on the weekend, but since here birthday fell on a weekday this year, her day was a bit routine. So don’t go to sleep.

We prepared Molly’s goody bags for her class yesterday. You see, she goes to one of those politically correct schools that  won’t allow you to bring in cupcakes for the class. Wouldn’t want to offend that kid with the gluten allergy. And since there is a possibility that one kid may not be able to have a cupcake, no one can have cupcakes *Heavy sigh* Whatever.

So instead of cupcakes I had to come up with ideas for a goody bag to hand out to the class. Luckily I am one of those mothers that thinks ahead and I got stuff for Molly’s class while I was in China.

Okay, I’m not really one of those mothers, but I did somehow manage to think of Molly’s birthday amongst all of the chaos in China. Amazing, right? I thought so, too!

Here’s a sample of what each kid got. The bubbles were actually from Wal-Mart, but I am sure they were made in China. Does that count?IMG_6570Pretty cool how the x in the word six is actually the Chinese character for six. I’m just crafty like that. Okay, you caught me again. I am not that crafty. Actually I copied it off of some site that came up when I Googled Chinese character for six.

Here’s Molly putting together her goody bags the day before her birthday.IMG_6574

And here is the pile of completed goody bags.IMG_6580

Now onto the actual Birthday day!

While I was taking a shower, Molly snuck into my bead. That was her first official six year old undertaking.IMG_7206

Next was breakfast. Molly requested French toast (crust cut off) with butter, syrup and chocolate sprinkles. She also wanted scrambled eggs, cantaloupe and milk. I stuck the candle in for kicks. IMG_7207

Sam had the same thing, but no sprinkles or candles. Candles and sprinkles are not special if everyone gets them, right?IMG_7212

Next, Molly gets her hair styled at the Chez Mom Salon and Day Spa.IMG_7221

After breakfast it was off to the bakery to pick out a cake. Molly wanted chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Sam just wanted more free samples.IMG_7225

Then it was off to the grocery store to pick out Molly’s party cake. Why didn’t I do that at the bakery? Because I’m cheap, that’s why. The bakery is oh so delicious, but kinda pricy. I am not serving 15 little rugrats a $75 cake. IMG_7228

By the time we got done with errands it was time for lunch. Molly requested a turkey and provolone sub sandwich, broccoli (okay, she didn’t request this but she did eat it), cantaloupe, and milk with a silly straw.IMG_7230

After lunch it was off to school to drop off Molly and the goody bags. She usually rides the bus so was thrilled when I told her that I would drive her in today. This is Molly’s teacher, who is awesome, by the way.IMG_7233I didn’t stick around school to take pictures of her in the classroom, although I was tempted!

Molly got off of the bus with a smile and a birthday crown.IMG_7234

Snack time…veggie chips. Who are they fooling with these things? They are potato chips. First ingredient listed on side if the bag: POTATO! Just because they add a little spinach or something, they have the nerve to call them veggie chips. Lucky for Molly, it was her birthday, so I let her eat them for snack.IMG_7236

After snack, Molly went outside to blow bubbles (from her goody bag)…IMG_7238

…and ride her bike. She was outside with Dad and I ran out to snap this picture. And yes I did make her put on a helmet when I saw her. Mom’s are just like that.IMG_7240

Sam didn’t want to be left out of the action so he rode Molly’s old scooter. We really need to man up his world. Little boys, no matter how cute, should not be riding pink and purple princess scooters. Maybe black ones with orange flames and sculls, but definitely not princesses. Just saying. IMG_7239 

For dinner, Molly selected her favorite Chinese buffet. If I was on the ball, I would have remembered to take a picture while she was actually eating. But I wasn't on the ball.IMG_7244

I was too busy making sure this guy got fed!IMG_7246

The waitress at the restaurant gave Molly a little present.IMG_7248

And then the kids posed by the Koi pond.IMG_7251

Once home, Molly got birthday wishes over the phone from grandma and grandpa.IMG_7253

Then it was time for cake!IMG_7256

Make a wish!IMG_7258

Molly and Dad enjoy cake.IMG_7264

Sam and Mom enjoy cake. Well mom didn’t so much because she was feeding Sam. He was still in arm restraints from his cleft lip surgery.IMG_7266

Molly opened presents…IMG_7270

…while Sam looked on with surprise.IMG_7273

One of the things Molly got for her birthday was a new art set. The girl can draw. And create. And write. And illustrate. This was the perfect gift.IMG_7276

Molly and Dad writing a story before bed time.IMG_7280

And finally, Molly and Sam sneak into Mom and Dad’s bed for some goodnight cuddles.IMG_7281

I love you my dear, sweet six year old! I hope your year is filled with excitement, learning, adventure and joy. You deserve it!

You bring so much love to every life you touch. We are so proud of the young lady that you are becoming.

Happy Sixth Birthday Molly!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Surgery #1 Lip and Nose Repair

Before Sam’ surgery people kept asking me, “Are you nervous?”  And my answer was always, “No, not really.”

And that’s the truth. All the way up to and throughout the surgery I was not nervous or worried or scared or any of the the other things that maybe I should have been feeling.

I’ve had a year to prepare. Ever since we saw Sam’s picture for the first time, we knew this day was coming. It kind of loomed over us like a dark cloud for so long that it was almost a relief that we were moving forward.

Don’t get me wrong, I really didn’t want Sam to be scared or in pain. I wanted to protect my sweet boy from all of that.

But as far as me be nervous, I just wasn’t. I was calm, collected and ready. And I think that was a really good place to be. I felt that I could devote 100% of myself to Sam and not have to worry about any of my own emotions.

On the day of surgery, we had to arrive at the hospital at 7:00. That’s AM. That meant that everyone had to be up, dressed and ready to leave by 6:15 AM. Oh, joy. We have trouble making it out of the house by 10AM most days!

Somehow we managed to have everyone and everything in the car by said time and we were off to the hospital. As soon as we arrived we were brought directly to Sam’s room where we were instructed to get him in a hospital gown.

Sam’s arrival at his hospital roomIMG_7156

Over the next half hour, various nurses came in to check different things. Blood pressure, temperature, blood gases, etc. Finally one nurse came in and told us that Sam’s surgery was the surgeon’s second surgery of the day so we should expect it to start at 11AM. What the heck? Why did we have to be there at o’dark thirty if the surgery didn’t begin until 11AM?

We had a lot of time to kill, so we took pictures. Did you have any doubts?

Mommy and Sam pre-surgery.IMG_7157

Sam’s cheering section.IMG_7158

Sam checking out the crib in his room.IMG_7159

Sam deciding he didn’t like the crib.IMG_7160

Sam saying a prayer before surgery.IMG_7166

Sam heeding the call of nature (yes, he still squats to pee).IMG_7172

“I think it would be more fun to go out there!”IMG_7173

“On second thought, maybe not!”IMG_7174

Molly and Sam fill the hours waiting for surgery by coloring and playingIMG_7175 (2)

The surgeon visited us briefly and told us that he had been studying all of the pictures we had sent of Sam’s previous surgery in China. He believed that they attempted a complete repair of his lip and nose, but got half way through and were unsure how to finish. The surgery was stopped and he was simply sewn back up at that point an no further work was done. His recovery pictures were also very telling and Sam had some obvious tissue loss in his lip. That, along with the scarring from the original surgery were going to complicate things for this surgery.

This was not particularly encouraging news, but at this point you must simply play the cards you are dealt. Our surgeon is  nationally recognized in the area of cleft repair so we knew that Sam could not be in better hands. We felt confident that things would turn out fine.

Looking back, we probably should have been freaking out, but we weren’t. Our feeling has always been that we loved Sam’s little face. We loved his cleft, we loved his smile, we loved how his his happy, gentle little soul shined through his entire face. Fixing it to 100% perfection never mattered to us. I may to him some day, but it has never mattered to us.

The anesthesiologist also came by and told us that an hour prior to surgery, the nurse would bring Sam some medication that would make him drowsy and relaxed. He also explained about his IV and other aspects of the surgery. Once again, we felt confident in the team that was taking care of our precious boy.

Around 10 AM, a expected, the nurse came in with Sam’s happy medication in anticipation of an 11AM surgery. Except that’s not what happened because at 10:15 they came in to get Sam for surgery. That’s only 15 minutes with the happy juice coursing through his little veins! That’s not enough time!

Tony holding Sam just prior to surgeryIMG_7175

Me and Sam just prior to surgeryIMG_7176

The staff let me carry Sam all the way down to surgery, which was a good thing. Right before Sam had to enter the room, we had a few minutes for our final cuddles. This is where I got a little misty.

This was going to be the last time that I saw this face. The face I fell in love with. The face I stared at for 10 months as we paper chased our way to China. The face that I first touched when they placed Dang Qiao into my arms for the first time. The face that I tucked into bed every night for the past two months. The face that I kissed 100 times a day. The face that could smile bigger than anyone else in the world.

As hard as it was, I kissed that face for the last time, handed him to a nurse and then watched him cry and reach for me as they carried him through the doors of the operating room.Just stab me in the heart, why don’t ya. See, I knew he didn’t have the happy juice in him for long enough.

At least I knew that anesthesia kills your short term memory and he wouldn’t remember me leaving him in someone else’s arms. Helps him, doesn’t help me. I have those little outstretched arms and tear-streamed face burned into my memory forever.  Sigh.

The surgery lasted about 3 hours--about an hour longer than estimated, but once again, we were calm. When the doctor came out he said that Sam’s repair was a success. He was able to work around scar tissue, reattach muscles and close his lip and nose successfully. He also told us we had a lot of additional surgeries ahead of us, which we already knew. Sigh again.

Just as the doctor was finishing, an OR nurse came and got me. My boy was awake and was asking for me! When I arrived in post op he was crying and reaching for me, but as soon as I held him, he quieted right down.

My reaction when I first saw Sam was that his mouth was so small! And he looked so different. But that’s about all I had time to think because Sam buried his head in my chest and fell asleep.

Sam’s vitals were strong so his time in post op was brief. Soon we were back in his room, cuddling in a rocking chair.IMG_7180I know that in this picture I look happy at such a serious moment. But you see, I am at that age where your skin loses all of its muscle tone and if you don’t smile your face relaxes into a frown.

Don’t believe me? Here is the first picture Tony took. IMG_7179I looked crabby so I made Tony retake it. Because I wasn’t  crabby. I was loving on my kid. Damn that aging process. 

Anyway, back to Sam. Here he is just moments after surgery.IMG_7183Wow! The surgeon did an amazing job! He is truly a miracle worker in our eyes.

Humorous side note…when Sam went into surgery he had a bib on because he drools. A lot. When they returned the bib to me after surgery it came sealed in a biohazard bag. Yep, they got that right. One look at a used bib and you definitely think biohazard!IMG_7187

Sam slept in my lap most of the afternoon. By evening my bum was more than a little sore from sitting in the hard rocker. Because Sam doesn’t sleep in a crib I requested that  a bed be brought in for him. The wonderful nurses had a bed in our room in less than a minute. They were angels. True angels.

Tony and Molly left to get dinner. I ordered Sam some things off the hospital menu. I requested a lot of different stuff because I wasn’t sure what he would want. Guess what? The human garbage disposal ate everything I ordered for him: 2 pieces of French toast, 2 containers of yogurt, and an entire plate of scrambled eggs with cheese.

And that’s pretty much the way the rest of Sam’s recovery went. He was a soldier. He faced every obstacle head on. The only pain medication that he needed was just plain, off the shelf Tylenol. Seriously. He didn’t complain a bit about the arm restraints or about the nurses continually poking and prodding at him to check his vitals.

Sam and I stayed the night in the hospital while Tony and Molly returned home for the evening. Things got a little boring, so I whipped out my camera. Again.

Sleeping angelIMG_7189

Mommy (smiling so I my face doesn’t so that saggy frown thing) and sleeping Sam.IMG_7190

Yep, more sleeping. Major surgery makes you pretty tired, apparently.IMG_7191

First thing in the morning, Sam inhaled 2 pancakes, 2 yogurts, and another big plate of eggs. The doctor watched him eat and laughed. He also discharged us just 24 hours after our arrival! Woo hoo!

Sam, Molly and Mom ready to head home.IMG_7195

Sam and TonyIMG_7196Tony was my night in shining armor—he met every need Sam and I had during our stay. He like that. That’s why I married him!

And just so you can see the pictures close together, here they are one more time.


Now I wonder if that plastic surgeon can do anything about my saggy, droopy frowny face.