I have a heart baby…Part 3

After the first surgery we had 8 months until the next one.  They did a heart cath in between and also had a couple appointments with the cardiologist.  Things went very smooth between surgeries.  The third surgery went off with not much of a hitch.  The only thing that they weren’t able to do is to fix the hole.  If they had fixed the hole it would have caused too high of pressures in the right side of his heart and caused heart failure.  This meant another surgery a year down the road but we knew the drs know best so we were fine with it.  They also placed a valve in his heart that was to help with the blood flow to his lungs.  We spent a week in the hospital and felt like everything was going as smoothly as we could have hoped.

We got everything back to normal and I was back at work and he was off to daycare.  That lasted about 2 weeks.  He was just not acting like himself and we were afraid he was getting the flu.  He hadn’t gotten the flu shot yet and since he was so off we took him to the local ER.  They checked his saturations and he was at 55 (80 was normal for him at the time).  The local ER panicked (as was our typical response from them) and took him by ambulance to the Children’s ER.  We were met there by a member of the cardiology team who didn’t seem super concerned but admitted him for observation.  When our dr came in the next day he wasn’t sure what to think.  His initial thought was it was an infection that needed to run its course.  After more tests and further observation they thought he had pneumonia because he had a cloud near the left lung.  We spent several days in the hospital trying to figure out what was going on.  We met with an infectious disease doctor, surgeons, cardiologists, etc.  No one seemed to know what to do.  They saw a pocket of ‘fluid’ that they considered draining but didn’t want to risk opening him up and spreading an infection.  By the grace of God they finally decided to do another heart cath to see if they could see anything else because his saturations remained so low.  They had just come to ask us if it was okay if they place a central line so that they would have access in the future (they had issues getting IVs into him) and then came back shortly after to inform us that they found the problem!

Seems that the valve that they placed was leaking some and created what is called a pseudo-aneurysm in his heart.  Basically it was a pocket of blood that had pooled from the leaking but was being contained.  Had they gone in to drain the ‘fluid’ they may have punctured it and he could have bled out!  They scheduled surgery for the next day (which happened to be my birthday) and had to go in carefully so as not to puncture this pocket of blood and fix it.  The surgeon informed us that this happens about 1 in 1000 cases (every 3-4 years for them) so Avery was still on his streak of luck.  The aneurysm was called ‘impressive’ by the surgeon.  It was a wonderful birthday present!

We were in the hospital for another week after the surgery.  He missed Halloween and but I was able to go home and spend the night trick-or-treating with Blake.  Let me just say that it is very difficult at times to devote your time to a child you know needs you but feel the heart strings pull back home too because you also have another child who wants to be with you.  It is tough to be tugged in two directions!

To be continued…


Getting Organized

A long time ago I made myself a laminated list (no, not THAT kind of laminated list:) to keep up with my cleaning.  I haven’t used it in probably a year or more but I need to get back on track.  I have so many receipts to get entered along with keeping up with my home stuff when I get busy with editing pictures.  So, I am breaking this baby back out.  My goal is to keep up with all of this so that I don’t have so much to do at once and my house actually stays clean.  Maybe I can actually catch up on receipts too before the end of the year when i need to do taxes!

I’m hoping that putting it on here will help me keep up!  AND that it also means I can blog more.  Wish me luck!

What do YOU do to stay on task?  Care to share?

Cake Pops…first attempt

After reading this I thought it would be so much fun to make cake pops for my annual daycare picnic.  I’m not entirely sure they were a success.

They were NOT easy to make!

They were NOT pretty like Little Miss Momma’s.

BUT…they were tasty!

I have a heart baby….PART II

Once we knew it was Avery’s heart that was the problem the issue was figuring out exactly what the game plan was.  They knew he had a hole (along with pulmonary artery issues) but weren’t sure if it was a VSD: Ventricular Septal Defect – hole between the left and right ventricles or an ASD: Atrial Septal Defect -hole between wall that separates upper chambers of heart.  The ASD would need immediate surgery but the VSD would not.  He went in for his first heart cath where it was discovered that he had a VSD which meant that he did not need surgery immediately.  He spent those first couple days in the hospital on oxygen, a feeding tube and IV.  Seeing your baby attached to all those monitors…heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturations…is really hard.  It is hard to hold him with all those coming out of him too.  We had lots of visitors that first week of his life and we also had a 2 year old at home who we missed as well.  We did go home one night to stay with Blake.  It was supposed to be before they removed the feeding tube so that when I got back I could start working on nursing him.  Unfortunately the nurse did not hold off as she had promised so when we arrived the next day he had been supplimented with formula, which was hard for me and did not make me very happy.  But we moved on and started working on nursing right away.  It was a little more difficult than I remembered and nerve-wracking with a nurse standing over you trying to ‘help’ but we got the hang of it and once he was eating well he was sent home.

We were sent home and told to continue to get his saturations checked every couple weeks to check them.  We were taking him in to see his pediatrician, Dr Lon Knudson, to get weight checks and to check his sats(level of oxygen in his blood).  When he was about 2 months old we took him in and his sats were in the upper 60s (normal person is 100 and Avery was to stay in the 80s).  Dr Knudson was concerned with this number and called the cardiologist.  It was determined that we would have to schedule a surgery for him.

Surgery was scheduled for just before he turned 2 months.  This first surgery was a ‘textbook’ case according to his nurse.  Everything went smoothly and he only spent 5 days in the hospital.  Unfortunately after getting home Avery was just not acting like himself.  He was very fussy and had this popping noise (as if you were popping your elbow) but we called the hospital a couple times and they didn’t seem concerned.  Call it mother’s intuition but I just didn’t have a good feeling about it so I finally called our cardiologist.  He asked me several questions and had me put my hand one either side of his sternum and gently push to see if that was the popping sound.  It was not exactly something I was thrilled about but did it and sure enough that was the noise.  He suggested that we bring him in to have it checked out.  Apparently somehow the sutures they used to secure his sternum after surgery did not hold well enough and they had to go back in and fix it.  This time they put in wire to hold the sternum so it stayed in place.  Generally they don’t do that on little ones if they know they’ll have to go back in but apparently he was too strong for that!  So not only did he have one surgery at two months but he had to have two.  He was in the hospital for another two days before we got to go home and try to get back to normal.



I took the boys out to take some pictures yesterday and this one of Blake turned out AMAZING!  He was sitting at the top of a hill waiting for his turn to run down.  I LOVE this!

RECIPE: Popcorn Salad

I made this salad for the daycare family picnic we had last night and it was a big hit!  I got the recipe from a cousin of Mike’s.  Honestly it is the strangest combination of things and really, who puts popcorn in a salad…but it works!  Be sure to read through the entire recipe before starting.


What you need:

16 oz mayo (I’ve used Miracle Whip too)

2 c. shredded cheddar

2 c. chopped celery

1 can water chesnuts, chopped

1 bunch green onions

2 T apple cider

2/3 c. sugar

1/2 lb bacon (cooked and crumbled) OR 2-3 T Bac-o bits

What to do:

1.  Mix together mayo and cheese.

2. Chop water chesnuts and add to mixture.  I honestly think these smell vile but they don’t ruin the salad:)

3. Chop green onions.  I don’t use the whole green part but about half.

4. Add chopped celery to mixture.

5.  Add sugar and vinegar to mixture and mix thoroughly.  Put in refrigerator over night (or for a few hours at least).

6.  When you pull it out it will look like this.  Much juicier than when you put it in.

7.  Just before serving add an entire bag of pre-popped popcorn.  It looks like too much but as the mixture soaks it up it will be fine.  Then add bacon or bac-0 bits.

8.  Once the poporn all gets soaked up it will look like this.  ENJOY!!

I have a heart baby.

It is probably something lots of people don’t know about me and my family.  It isn’t something that we broadcast or that defines us or him.  Watching Avery you would never know about all that he has been through.  He was born with a congenital heart defect called Tetrology of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia.  It was something that wasn’t diagnosed before birth so it was a huge shock to us.  Here is the story of how we found out.

Our first son, Blake, was born early at 36.5 weeks.  Because of this things were watched closely with our second pregnancy.  At 32 weeks I was already dilated to 1 cm and was put on bedrest.  For 6 weeks I laid on the couch and took it easy (which isn’t easy with an almost 2 year old running around).  I was scheduled for induction at 39 weeks so that my doctor would be there to deliver.  Labor progressed normally and Avery was born on November 28, 2005 weighing in at 8 lbs 1.5 oz.  Everything looked great but he was looking a little blue when he tried to eat so the nurses took him down to the nursery for a little oxygen.  This wasn’t alarming as the same thing had happened with our firstborn.  We expected him to be back in a couple hours but every time they got him up to 100% oxygen saturations and took him out of the oxygen bubble his saturations would dip down again.  They left him in the nursery overnight.  The next morning while our pediatrician, Dr. Lon Knudson, made his rounds he decided that it was probably best to send him to a hospital more equipped to deal with any problems that might be going on, although he wasn’t exactly sure there was a problem.

We made the decision to ship him to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.  Word was that the ambulance was coming to get him but they decided to send the helicopter.  While we waited for the team from Children’s to arrive we made arrangements for myself to be discharged and called family to arrange care for Blake.  When the team arrived the neonatal nurse came to talk to us.  She told us that there ‘might’ be something going on with his heart but that they would figure it all out when he got to Children’s.  They wheeled our baby off in the little incubator up to the landing pad.  As we waited at the elevator to go down to our car we watched the helicopter take off with our precious cargo.  That is the most heartbreaking moment in my life…I can barely hold back the tears now as I write this.

We drove home to get a few things before we made our way to the hospital.  Let me just say that was the longest hour and a half ever!  Not knowing what is going on with Avery, wondering if they got there safely, hoping our baby is okay.  When we got up to the NICU we were escorted to his area.  He didn’t have his own room then and the doctors had done their job to figure out what was going on.  We were introduced to his doctor but not told he was a cardiologist.  This whole time is really a blur and I’m not sure what we expected.  As we walked into this tiny consultation room with a couch for us and a chair for the doctor the doctor said ‘There’s a heart problem, you know that right?’.  After that I don’t think Mike and I heard much of anything.  We had no clue that there was a heart problem.  I vaguely remember the doctor explaining what was wrong with his heart and him drawing us a picture on the little pad with the picture of an anotomical heart on it.  He explained that his pulmonary arteries were not fully developed and that there was a hole in his tiny little heart.  At that point they were unsure as to which kind of hole (as if we knew there were different types) he had.  They would have to run more tests and those tests would determine if he would need surgery immediately or not.

This is where we began our journey with a heart baby (as they call them in the hospital).  It has been a journey that we will never forget.  Stay tuned and I’ll share more of our journey with you.



RECIPE: Cherry Raspberry Pie

I can’t take credit for this pie recipe but I can’t get the recipe to come up on the familycircle.com website so I’m going to post it for you to try.  When I got the magazine it was on the cover and Avery said…’I wish you had the recipe for that so you could make it’.  Well buddy was in luck because the recipe was in the magazine;)  I finally got time to try it and it is so delicious!

PIECRUST: (can be substituted with refrigerated pie crust, if desired)

2 1/2 c flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 c (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces (just realized I missed this ingredient…might have been even better)

1/2  solid vegetable shortening, chilled

6 to 8 Tbsp ice water


3/4 c plus 2 tsp sugar

1/3 c quick-cook tapioca

1 T cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 c cranberry juice blend

3 c pitted fresh sweet cherries (or 16-oz pkg frozen pitted sweet cherries, thawed 1 hr)

1 1/2 c fresh raspberries (6-oz container)

1 egg yolk, whisked with 2 T water

1. Make PIECRUST.  Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Sprinkle ice water, 1 T at a time, over mixture, incorporating with a fork until pastry is moist enough to hold together.  Divide in half; shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

2.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll one crust out to a 12-inch circle.  Gently transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.  Prepare FILLING.  In medium-size saucepan, combine 3/4 c of the sugar, the tapioca, cornstarch and salt.  Whisk to blend.  Add juice and stir until smooth.  Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat and stir in cherries and raspberries.

3.  Roll out remaining crust to a 12-inch circle.  With a pastry cutter or pizza wheel, cut into 1-inch strips.  Transfer pie filling to pastry-lined pie plate.  Weave pastry into a lattice, alternating strips over and under each other.  Fold edges under; crimp together.  Brush pastry with egg yolk-water mixture, then sprinkle with remaining 2 tsp sugar.

4.  B

Garden Update

I was just getting ready to share the latest wares from my garden when I read my friend Lisa’s post ‘How does your garden grow?’.  I am quite jealous of her weed free garden as mine has its fair share of weeds but I am very proud of my garden this year.  Here are the latest items that I’ve gotten from my garden:

3rd cucumber out of the garden

The first of the RED in my garden.  One of these is a regular tomato and the others are Roma (which I’ve never planted before).  Can’t wait to taste them.

I am however confused as to what is causing my tomatoes to do this…

I have had this happen in the past.  It is the third year I’ve planted tomatoes.  The first year they did this too and I thought it was because they were in a pot and root bound.  Then last year I planted them in my garden with crappy soil and thought maybe that was it.  Apparently it was neither of those things because they are doing it again this year!  HELP!  It usually takes about half my tomatoes and I don’t like it because we could eat tomatoes all day long in this house.