Saturday, February 20, 2010


I've been feeling kind of bad for some time now that I never really wrote any further about how my Dad is doing.  It's funny how when the hemorrhage occurred I was able to just drop everything in my life and live at Rhode Island Hospital for four weeks.  I remember thinking about how at a time like that all the things in life that seem so pressing and important melt away and you find that you really can just disengage from the world with little consequence.  But now that things are "back to normal" - life has snuck right back in there - seeming all important and in-my-face all the time. 

Tonight Mom, Dad, G, the kids and I went to the house of some new friends, N & J, and had a lovely time.  It was a funny get-together because although Mom, Quinn, Gordon, Lily and I all know J and feel quite close to her - she had never met my Dad, we had never met N and my Dad and N had not met.  You see N was admitted to the INCU at RIH the same day as my Dad - he also had experienced a SAH and lived to make it to the hospital.  He was in the bed next to my Dad's.  While my Dad and N were lying in that room, practically roommates - but never speaking or interacting, we were sitting in the waiting room with J and N's family - every day, all day, for four weeks.  We lived through good news and bad news together.  We cried and made each other laugh.  We got there in the morning looking forward to see each other - to find out how N was doing to distract us from our own sadness and worry.  When N had a good day our spirits were buoyed.  When my Dad had a bad day they were there and they understood what we were feeling.  We shared our stories and our fears.  "Can you believe N got up in the middle of the night and removed his tubes?"  "Dad is talking crazy about canisters on Pleasant Valley Parkway again".  We watched their belongings while they were visiting with N.  They held Quinn and soothed him while I was visiting with my Dad.  When N left the INCU - and was sent home just a day later - J came to find us with tears in her eyes and her email address in her hand.  We were so happy to see them go - and sad as well.  We said we'd get together when N and my Dad were better - we hoped that would happen.

Well tonight, tonight we got together - and N and my Dad are better - they're great actually.  The last post about my Dad back in October was intentionally vague.  I said he was home and recovering and that we were "waiting and seeing."  And that's where we were for a long time.  We were so happy to have him home, but he really was not himself.  My Mom couldn't leave him alone really at all.  He was confused by the telephone and the TV remote.  He got lost in their 2-BR apartment insisting that there was another floor and searching for the stairs.  He confused the toaster oven and the microwave.  He couldn't really use the computer.  He had no interest in the computer.  He was there, but he wasn't himself.  My Mom took an extended leave of absence from work.  We went to visit nearly every weekend.  I was still doing their finances.  We started looking ahead and wondering what would happen if he never went back to work - if this was the way things would be from now on.  I couldn't stand the grief that threatened to engulf me if I took that thought too far.  I had watched my Grandma leave us piece by piece - I was not ready to say goodbye in that way to my Dad.  So I kept my head down, kept doing their finances, planning for the worst, but not really thinking about it.  My brother and I pinned our hopes and our focus on the next doctor's appointment.  We all held our breath.  I avoided writing about it.

Then we saw the neurosurgeon and he thought Dad maybe still had hydrocephalus and that's what was causing his confusion.  They did a spinal tap - and that helped a little.  So they scheduled surgery to put in a permanent cerebral shunt.  The surgery took place on Gordon's 40th birthday, December 8th.  It felt like a miracle.   Once the shunt was in place Dad just came back - he was just suddenly him again.  Now, over two months later he is driving.  He is back to work.  He went on a business trip to Atlanta.  He is doing their finances and cooking dinner again.  Life is literally just back to how it was. 

He drove my Mom to N & J's house in Providence.  I have to admit, I was a little unsure going into the evening.  I had been emailing J on and off since we all left the hospital.  It was great to hear the news about the progress that N was making and share the news about my Dad.  Mom and I were excited to see her again, but Dad was unsure at first - he didn't realize that he had never actually met any of them and it bothered him that he couldn't remember them.  I can't imagine how disconcerting it must feel to have such holes in your memory.  I wondered what it would be like to spend time with J outside of the emotional roller-coaster of the INCU waiting room?  What if N and my Dad totally didn't hit it off?  What if Q puked on their floor?

But of course, it was lovely - we all had a great time.  My Dad met N.  They shook hands, smiled and laughed easily.  They talked about their experiences.  We ate Caserta's pizza.  We talked about the hospital, the recoveries and the crazy world of brain injuries.  We talked about "normal" stuff too.  Quinn practiced crawling on their carpeted floor and tried to empty their bookshelves.  Lily tried her best to befriend their sweet new dog and cried when it was time to leave.  I sat there for most of the night marveling at how lucky we all are. Mom and Dad made plans to see them again for dinner.  We talked about having a big barbecue in the summer.

It's still a little weird when I think about it - living through a crisis like that - coming so close to losing someone so important too soon.  I feel like we've been given this huge gift, this second chance and I'm not quite sure what to do with it.  For months I talked to my parents multiple times a day every day - now it's kind of back to how it was.  We still talk a lot, but not daily.  Sometimes a few weeks go by before we see them.   But I'm trying - trying to hold on to that feeling of gratitude, to remain present and to treasure this bonus time we've been given.  I have not yet - and probably never will - grown tired of getting emails from my Dad again.  I love watching him with his grandchildren.  I am so so so happy that Quinn will get to know him  - the real him.  I'm glad that his relationship with Lily will continue to deepen and grow.  Sometimes I feel like a little girl again - just so glad to have my Dad around. 

I love you Dad. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rare Photo Opportunities

Like pigs with wings or an ice skating rink in hell here are some photos of things you probably never thought you'd see.

Exhibit 1:  Lily sitting on the couch watching TV with a dog (and Grammy of course).  Ok so you can't REALLY tell she's watching TV but she is.  It's the Olympics  - and it doesn't happen that often - so watch closely kid.  Next chance won't come around for another two years*.  And the dog - not ours - he belongs to my brother.  He's a very adorable, cuddly, easy-going Bassador named Dudley.  I'm sure he'll make many more appearances at the LilyPad.  But probably not on my couch or watching TV with my kids.  

I will pull this picture out some day when she complains that I never let her do anything fun - 10 years from now.  Also - when she asks me for a dog.

Exhibit 2: Quinn's top two front teeth!  You may have to expand the picture to really see them - and it's a little blurry (I took it, not Gordon, of course) - but they are there.  Unlike the Olympics his teeth are here to stay.  It just feels like this child has been teething FOREVER.  So it's still a little unbelievable to me that actual teeth appeared.  He's now got one bottom tooth that has broken through and one that is on the way.  We know the latter because we are up a lot at night.  Have I mentioned how much we hate teething?  Sometimes, when I feel really insane I think about how great another baby would be - and then I remember that they don't come with exposed teeth and I reconsider**.

* OK so I'm not THAT bad - she does get to watch TV here and there now - kind of, sometimes.
** But Babies!  So cuddly! and also - toothless... damn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quinn: 9 Months

Nine months have gone by. Quinn has now officially been here with us for longer than I carried him around with me everywhere I went (yeah - okay so that went on a little beyond the in-utero bit - but at least I got to sleep alone... occasionally). We've known him and held him in our arms for longer than we prepared for him, dreamed about him, wondered what he'd be like.

These nine months - they've gone SO fast. I know it's cliche - everyone tells you - it goes by fast. But much like his pregnancy, these months have gone by so much faster than they did with Lily. There's just no time to sit and stare at him, watching and waiting for the next skill, the next milestone. Instead he's just racing through - figuring out how to do things before I even realize that it's around the right time for him to be doing that. He gets bigger and more capable as we continue just getting by. One day you sit down to write a blog post because another month has passed and you realize just how much he's changed - again.

He's so totally mobile now. He's not really crawling on hands and knees like Lily did. He's doing the army crawl - and he's gotten really good at it. First he was just able to move himself around a little. Go get a toy that was slightly out of reach:

I'm totally coming for you

Then he got better at it - learned to get into, around, over - finding ways to explore old objects in new ways:

Hey! there's more to this thing!

Now he can move from room to room. If we leave him for a minute to get something or put something away he comes after us - not content to be by himself. He follows Lily. He gets frustrated - I think he KNOWS there's a more efficient way to move, but just hasn't worked it all out yet. But still, he's getting really good at this.

Where do you think you're going?

His love affair with food continues - although he's slowed down somewhat. I think that's okay - he seems SO much bigger. When he takes a bath he's got rolls - everywhere. No more skinny little chicken legs. He's officially a chunky little guy with our signature cheeks. He's moved on from pureed food (though he still eats that) to finger food and stuff that's just mashed.

Discovering egg yolk

Gordon loves tossing the baby food that seems just a bit out of their league. The thing is that unlike Q, Lily had 2 bottom teeth at this point. It doesn't matter - he can still make amazingly short work of a bagel:

Uncle Chuck made this one!

Bagels(or bread? is that bread?) ROCK

Unfortunately his tastes aren't very discriminating and he eats whatever he can get his hands on and into his mouth. So far I've fished the following out of his mouth:
  • crumbled up wikki sticks (twice)
  • Lily's hair elastics
  • old dried pieces of rice

I've found the following in his diaper, having taken the scenic route to get there:
Yup, I caught Lily feeding them to him. I thought I intervened in time. I was wrong.

Despite these attempts at getting us back to the emergency room, he's thriving and happy and awesome. His top teeth have broken through. Although they're still not out far enough to see them when he smiles. His bottom ones are looking like they will be along very soon. I hope they hurry - no one in our house is a real fan of this teething thing. He's sleeping mostly through the night. It seems he's trying to give up that early morning feeding. So far that means that he gets up at 5:30 to eat and just stays awake. We are hoping that changes again soon. He's napping a little more. He's done some morning naps that are well over 2 hours. Some days he'll do two naps that are an hour or longer. He's noisy. He babbles - a lot. He seems to have a lot to say (shocking).

He's not as much of a flirt when we're out and about, but he still has a huge smile for Mommy when I come home from work. He gives me adorable open-mouthed kisses and now tries to take a bite out of my cheek with his new teeth. He grabs my hair and my face and gives me these funny google eyes - like he just wants to eat me up. He's discovered how much fun his Dad is. He's still enamored with Lily. We're all pretty captivated by him. (also: still pretty tired)