Friday, January 27, 2012

Two scoots forward

It's been awhile since I have done a real update on Aurelia.  Since she has days left as being the one and only Baby Hawk, I think she deserves a post all about her.  I've also been doing some work on her baby book which causes me to have a lot of sentimental moments as I look back on how far she has come over the last 17 months.  This kid is truly incredible (and I'm not just saying that because I'm her mom, I've had lots of healthcare professionals back me up on this one).

Part of the reason I have not updated on Aurelia as often as I should or would like to is because it can be really hard to explain all the unknowns.  There are a lot of "mights" and "maybes" in her global diagnosis.  And I don't really see the point in saying, "Aurelia might have ______," or "There's the possibility of ______." But I also realize that many mights and maybes won't become defined for a long time.  It's like our kid is this tiny little puzzle with 1000 pieces and we're trying to figure out how they all fit together.

We still try to move forward in the middle of all these muddled unknowns.  And, as with many things, we often feel like it's two steps forward and one step back.  In the last few weeks, she's made some definite steps forward. . . and by steps, I mean scoots.  And I want to celebrate the two scoots forward.  I don't even want to think of the possibility of one (or any) scoots back.  Maybe they won't ever happen.  Maybe this forward trend that we're seeing will just gain momentum and never stop.  Honestly, I know that we will have setbacks in her future.  I know she has a long way to go.  I know that some of those unknowns are big and scary. . . but that doesn't mean I have to let them loom off in the distance.  Instead I'm going to focus on the here and now, a time that is positive, happy, and incredibly adorable.

So, let's talk about these scoots forward.  I don't like how that sounds.  I promise, our baby doesn't have worms.

Mobility: Her preferred mode of transportation right now is scooting around on her rump.  And she is FAST!  We've been working really hard to encourage her to crawl instead of scoot.  The frustrating thing is she CAN do a little army crawl (more wounded veteran crawl), but she only does when we force her.  She can even crawl up (not down) the one step in our house, and then she scoots on her way.  It is so exciting to see her mobile.

Sensory:  This kid has some serious sensory issues.  For the last several months, she would randomly scream and rub her eyes throughout the day.  She would do it in her sleep.  She would do it repeatedly and almost get stuck in the scream.  We felt like the sensory scream ruled our lives for awhile there.  We could barely hold a conversation.  It's hard to explain what happened.  She still does it occasionally.  But following eye dilation at an ophthalmology appointment 3 weeks ago, she suddenly stopped.  She still craves and needs a lot of input (like swinging, sensory brushing, bouncing on an exercise ball, and different movements), but it's nice to be able to go out in public without getting all the stares and comments.

Vision: Speaking of ophthalmology, Aurelia's been making some great strides with her vision.  Sometimes we feel like we can see her little brain working to process what she's seeing.  Sometimes her eyes look really wonky.  We've also noticed that she can't turn her eyes to the left and has to turn her entire head to the left (another part of the puzzle).  But she's started giving more eye contact and will even cover up parts of our face with her hands to stay engaged visually.  She is pretty farsighted, too small for glasses, and has quite a few other eye issues that we're just learning about.  However, we love getting little glimpses of great vision and are learning ways to help her see her world.

Growth: This is still a big issue because she really is just so small.  I realized this when someone said to me, "Six months?"  I assumed they were talking about my blossoming belly and said, "Eight months."  They responded, "She's just so petite!"  This gave me a bit of a chuckle because if Aurelia was six or eight months old, this pregnancy would be pretty miraculous.  Back to our little one, she has an official weight check on Tuesday.  We feel like she is chunking out a little and she's now in 9 and 12 month clothes.  She has 3 teeth.  And we feel like every day she looks more like a toddler.  

Sleep: I talk about how I love my spouse around here a lot.  Since he's been home, he's gotten up with Aurelia almost every single night.  And I am loving the sleep.  Aurelia still gets up twice a night, sometimes more.  Every once and awhile she'll wow us and only get up once.  It's incredible.  A new theory is that it has to do with her septo optic displasia. . . we don't really know what that means and don't expect you to either.

Speech: Unfortunately, there's not much to say.  Her favorite word is, "Diga."  We don't know what that means.  She seems to understand a few words sometimes, like her name, milk, no, Padraig, and up.  She can clap her hands.  She plays peek-a-boo.  And she responds to the question, "Where's Aurelia?" by shooting her fist into the air.  And she just started to sign, "More."

Overall Picture (if you've read this far):  Generally speaking, Aurelia is doing great!  Yes, she's well delayed.  Yes, she has some disabilities.  But her shunt is working great, praise God.  She is rarely sick.  She is very content, happy, and responsive.  This kid is a joy to parent, even during sleepless nights.  We credit your prayers (keep 'em coming!) and our amazing care team.  Right now we're starting up all her 18 month appointments on top of her weekly Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Early Intervention.  While it keeps our schedule full, it's so encouraging to know that we have such a stellar team caring for our child.  And that's our kiddo.  She's a champion!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy New Year!

We observe the lunar calendar in our home. . . Not buying that?  Maybe I just didn't have my act together around January 1st and therefore didn't get my yearly goals set quite in time to write a nice, cute post about it.  But I like this idea of a few restarts.  So I've decided that each year I'm going to celebrate New Years, and Chinese New Years, and then we'll throw in Nowruz (Persian New Year, celebrated the first day of spring).  I figure I should have things pretty squared away by March, right?  Regardless, today is the start to a new year for a large population of the world, the year of the dragon.  How cool is that?  Also, how cool that our first daughter was born in the year of the tiger and second will be arriving in the year of the dragon?  We have some little warriors on our hands!

Brief look back at 2011:  We had a full, busy, complete, challenging, fun, and fast year.  It could be all our sleepless nights, but last year seemed like a blur.  Maybe it's fitting that it was the year of the rabbit.  Joey and I went through a list of questions to help us reflect on this last year that culminated with a challenge to pick a word or phrase that defined 2011.  The first word that came to my mind was, "Really?!?"  We took two international trips (Switzerland and Canada) and two cross country trips.  We had endless appointments and updates with Aurelia.  And we had some major life things happen like buying a house and finding out we're having another baby.  It was a full year.  

We started 2011 with a lot of unknowns.  We were still getting used to being parents (still are).  We were still getting used to words like special needs (still are).  We were still getting used to living stateside (still are).  And we lived in a 1 bedroom apartment.  

A lot of our unknowns haven't changed.  Things like health, future plans, and sleep are still very fluid in the Hawkins household.   One of my dad's favorite quotes is, "Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God" (Corrie Ten Boom).  We feel comfortable trusting that all is going according to God's plan for our lives. 

With that in mind, we begin 2012 a few weeks late.  On our epic drive to the cabin last week, Joey and I went through a list of goals for 2012 (we used this list and found it very helpful).  It's always nice to be on the same page and know what your spouse is hoping for and planning.  I mean, if I really had my heart set on a trip to Montenegro and Joey really had his heart set on paying down student loans, we would have a hard time making financial decisions together.  Side note: I ALWAYS have my heart set on a trip somewhere, really anywhere.  For the most part, Joey and I have very similar goals for this year.  We both want to concentrate on reaching milestones with Aurelia's care, getting ahead financially, being more involved in our community, being consistent with exercise, and having lots of closer to home adventures with our two little ones (we are planning our last trip to Duke and hoping for lots of out of town visitors).

My personal goal is to be more determined.  I have a lot in my life that I want to accomplish, like write more, raise children that love the Lord, and do something generally spectacular with my life.  And I think determination is a key ingredient to getting these things done.  Determination is my focus word for this year (past words have included faith and joy).  Throughout this year, I am going to be determined to get things done, to work on marriage, motherhood, and life.  Using this verse as a good starting point:

Phillipians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.   

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Road Trip

Joey and I went to a marriage seminar at our church last Saturday.  This is the first time we've done anything like this.  Well, that's not entirely true.  We had fantastic pre-marital counseling with very wise friends.  But in the last 8.5 years, this is the first "marriage" event we've been too.  And I'm so glad that we went.  I don't mean that in a cry for help way.  I mean that in a marriage is hard work and sometimes it's nice to get ideas and help on how to cultivate and communicate way.

And after spending 6 hours working on our relationship, we thought that we'd put all our skills into practice by taking an 8 hour road trip.  No, we didn't drive to California.  We stretched what is usually a 2.5 hour drive to the family cabin into an 8 hour drive in the snow.  And all I can say is that it was terrible and wonderful and so worth it.

Terrible: Apparently the WSDOT couldn't keep up with the abundant supply of snow and growing demand for plowing.  When it took us an hour to drive about a mile the quote from The Fantastic Mr. Fox came to mind, "This is going to be a total cluster-cuss for everyone."  Other movie quotes that came up during this ordeal were, "Damn, I'm in a tight spot," and "That did not pan out."  (Kuddos to those that can name those films).  You know that expression about watching a train wreck and not being able to look away?  Well, we were literally watching car wrecks; cars slipping and sliding into banks, into each other, almost into my husband as he put chains on our car.  It was when the driver of a Geo Metro skidded past us as Joey was getting back in the car said, "If I can just get going up this hill, I think I can make it," that we decided to turn around and take a much longer route to the cabin.  And so back down the mountain we trudged, and then back up another two mountains we ventured (Snoqualmie Pass and Blewett Pass).  Both of these passes were fairly clear of snow and traffic.  And at 11:30 PM we finally arrived.

Wonderful: I've mentioned this a few times before around here, but it's worth saying again and again: I sure do love my husband.  First, he was a champion driver through some of the worst winter conditions and traffic I've ever seen.  He handled it all in stride, but he also had just the right amount of caution.  He knew when to turn around.  And for a mama with another one on the way, knowing my husband is a smart and safe driver is pretty priceless.  Second, he's my favorite person to spend time with, even if it's 8 unplanned hours in the car.  And I'm not just saying this because we were just at a marriage seminar.  We had a really great time together.  It helped that our daughter fell asleep at her normal bedtime and slept the rest of the way.  It was also quite wonderful to arrive to a warm cabin thanks to our friends that headed up pre-traffic and pre-snow.  It's great having friends that love our family.

Reading time with Uncle Juan

Yes, I've become one of those parents who shamelessly posts pictures of their adorable child. 
Baby Hawk loves Uncle Z

Worth It: I love the cabin.  I love it when it's beautiful and sunny.  I love it when it's rainy.  I love it when there are mosquitos.  I love it when there is no one else at the lake.  I love it when it's crowded.  I love it when it's snowy.  My dad built the cabin the year I was born.  It holds a very special place in my heart and for my family.  But there are times when the cabin is really magical:

This picture doesn't even look real.  
Little Pandiani Panda
This is our Eddie Bauer ad.

This trip to the cabin was absolutely worth the headache it took to get there.  And I know, it might not have been the smartest decision to brave the elements entering my 36th week of pregnancy.  There were lots of jokes about just needing hot water and towels.  And worst case scenario, I was born at Wenatchee Valley Hospital. . . maybe it would've made sense for our second child to be born there too.  I got my wish of a preferably snowy trip to the cabin before my 30th birthday and can now mark it off the list!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Motherhood Prep 2.0

Yes, things have been slow around here.  Here being the blog.  In real life, things seem to be moving at the speed of light.  I got a text from my dear friend Autumn yesterday that said, "Yeah, 35 weeks!"  Let me start by saying that I don't know what I would do without Autumn.  I would still think I was 15 weeks pregnant if she wasn't better at remembering.  It helps that she's due a month after me, so she really just has to add 4 weeks to her running total.  But when I read that text, I heard my perinatologist's voice in my ear, "I'm thinking 35 weeks is about when this baby will come.  Let's plan on making it to there."  I think I have a little more time, we're not booking our labor and delivery room for this week.  But there was a little bit of, "Welp, here goes nothing!" that came along with that number, 35 weeks.  Maybe I should pack my hospital bag at least.

The logical question and the one that everyone (I mean everyone. . . why do 70 year old men in the grocery store feel compelled to comment on the fact that I have a nice "waddle" and am obviously ready to "pop") has been asking is, "Are you ready?"  The short answer is. . . well, is there a short answer?  Am I ready to have another baby?  Am I ready to give birth?  Am I ready for Aurelia to share the attention with another little lady?  Am I ready to hop in the car and drive to the hospital if need be the case?  Does anyone else feel overwhelmed by that list of questions?  'Cause the only answer I can come up with is a semi-timid, "I guess I'm ready."

The thing is I feel like I'm doing this for the first time.  I didn't feel the need to do the typical motherhood planning with Aurelia.  I knew that she would be delivered by c-section.  I knew an approximate date.  I knew that she'd spend some time in the hospital.  And that's about all I knew.  While we had all the clothes and necessary furniture set up and ready to go, I tried not to live in expectation of what might happen.  I've learned that when I go down the road of expectation, the place I actually end up is far different than where I thought I was heading.  When Aurelia was born, I didn't do a lot of planning.  Thinking back to her birth day my response is that it was so full of emotion, it was so full of love, it was so challenging, but it was so perfect.  I wouldn't change a single thing about it (read about it here)!

So, where does that leave me with this little one?  I mean, I just said her sister's birth day was "perfect," that's a lot to live up to.  But I'm not asking for her birth to be anything like Aurelia's birth.  That's a lot of expectation to put on a brand new person. . .didn't I just say I try not to live in expectation?  Perfect or not, I'd prefer a more typical birth experience.  And I'm very aware that there is no such thing as a "typical birth experience."  We can plan until everything is all set and ready to go, and then one little detail changes everything and we head back to re-plan.  As was stated at the VBAC class we took this last weekend, "The only guarantee in pregnancy is that you won't always be pregnant."  I think those are wise words.  I've decided not to expect, not to plan, but rather to prepare.  I feel like preparation leaves more of a margin of error and also less pressure.  And, in typical Julie fashion, my preparation list is quite short.

Here's what I've been doing to prepare:

- We took a vbac class.  I didn't take a birthing class with Aurelia.  I knew nothing of the process of birth. For any momma friends that are planning a vbac, I highly recommend taking a class.  Both Joey and I really got a lot out of it.  If you live in the Puget Sound area, I recommend taking it here.

- We've been organizing our house.  Like I mentioned on the list, we haven't hung a single picture since we moved in in July.  We still haven't.  But we have set up the guest room for Mammaw's visit.  We got a new king sized mattress for our room (best upgrade ever).  And we've cleaned, sorted, gone to the goodwill, and done many things on our home list.  Hanging pictures is next.  Posting pictures of the house will come after that.

- I've been taking lots of naps, usually with Aurelia.  I love naps.  I love Aurelia.  It's a good combo.

Um, I can't really think of anything else?  Am I forgetting something?  I'm sure I am.  But I'm ok with that.  Before this baby was born I wanted to feel like the house was in order, our lives were in order, our daughter felt well loved, and I didn't want to feel stressed.  I think we've accomplished all those things.  Two nights ago as we were trying to go to sleep Joey said, "I can't wait to meet her."  And that's where we are now.

Here's what Joey's being doing to prepare:

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Lots of posts waiting in the wings.  We've been doing a lot of resting and nesting around here.  We have some big changes coming up in the near future, like a new baby and a new look coming to All Things.

In the meantime, I spent the last 10 minutes crying while watching this piece on 60 minutes:

Dr. Kurtberg from Duke is one of Aurelia's doctors.  We absolutely love her and love how passionate she is about her work and her patients.  We love having her on our team.