Monday, November 28, 2011

Today I have just been reflecting on how fast the days, months, and years really do fly by.

Bailey has been sleeping in her own big-girl bed for about a week now (with the exception of a couple night's at Grandma Sherri's house). We got her room all decorated and ready for her a few months ago. New bedding and cute pillows courtesy of Grandma Cathy, her name on cute decorative letters up on the wall, a doll house bookcase filled with books and stuffed animals... but she had absolutely no interest. Then one night last week Jared went and laid her down in her daybed and she just went to sleep there. All night. Ahh-mazing! Today I just put her down for her nap in her bed. We haven't tried that before. {And just to preface, while Bailey likes going night-night, she hates naptime. She screams and kicks and cries: the whole nine yards. But usually after about one minute she is sound asleep.} So she did the same routine today as expected, but she never left that bed. Thankfully I can play deaf for a good 5-10 minutes when it is for her own good. She went off to dream land with her faithful Bun-Bun by her side. My little Bailey Boo is getting so big!

[Bailey and her Bun-Bun]

Same goes for our little Avery. She grows by the second I swear. Just the other day I felt a little bulge on her gumline. Not even 24 hours goes by and she has two little teeth poking through. It makes sense. She is drooling all over everything lately. I change her clothes and she has her whole outfit drenched in saliva in about half an hour. And it's a little weird perhaps, but I must admit I was a tiny bit sad when I saw her teeth coming in. She is our baby and I am realizing she is growing up so fast. {Plus as a breastfeeding mom, teeth are always scary to think about at first!} And who knows - we might not have another toothless, all-gums baby smiling up at us again. It makes me want to cuddle her and not let go. [And beg her to go easy on her mama with the teeth.]

We love you, you chubby little drool queen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

It has been a pretty low-key Thankgiving for the Solko tribe. Jared had to work today. It was an extra wonderful holiday workday for him since the sewer backed up and the entire place smelled like....well, you get the idea. {He probably thought he was back on 5 West!} Thankfully he was able to leave at 2 this afternoon, so we loaded up and headed to my parent's place. Packing with two children and a new puppy is frankly just a lot of work, especially when you are doing it by yourself. I feel like I spent the whole morning trying to make sure I didn't forget anything. (Bailey's bun-bun: check. Stash of breastmilk: check. Sanity: not sure...)

The drive turned out to be the best part of the day. Avery finally took a nap and Bailey was cooperative for the most part. About every half an hour she would wake up Avery by getting in her face and yelling "boo!" at her, which of course made Bailey laugh and laugh. Once we got to my parent's house, everything was good for awhile. But then our typical Ellis loudness kicked in and we were done for. Avery apparently likes things quiet and mellow. [The exact opposite of the Ellis household.] We sat down for Thanksgiving dinner and the screaming began in ernest. The only thing that would stop the waterworks was a spoon from the table. She sucked and gnawed on that spoon for about 30 minutes. {Hey, whatever it takes to give me enough time to shovel in some turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes!}

So right now on this Thanksgiving I am thankful for the silence of a sleeping baby.

And a good game of euchure. And some wine. And leftover pumpkin pie.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Making a difference

I have chatted with some fellow nurses recently. Many of them talked about feeling disillusioned with the nursing profession, that maybe they chose the wrong field. I truly think a lot of us picked this career because we honestly wanted to make a difference in someone's life. But being in the health care field, it's really easy to feel underappreciated for all that you do. And while attending a "Code Brown," it's even easier to feel like we aren't getting paid nearly enough. I have always thought of nurses as the ones who "humanize" health care in a way. We aren't supposed to treat them like a diagnosis or just a "patient." But it is all too easy to start seeing them as "Room 35, bed 2" or "the chemoembolization case going in 1." And truthfully, how often does anyone thank you when you have done your job well? Probably not often enough. And that got me thinking...

I was sitting up late last night on the couch with Avery, trying to coax her to sleep {with a boob as bait of course}. [And "late" for me in this case is 10 PM. And shut up, I know I am lame.] I was thinking of how I need to make our Christmas photo cards in the next week and get them ordered. We will be sending them to the usual family and friends, but this year I am also adding people I didn't think of last year: all the people who made a huge impact in our lives. Like Dr. Berg -my OB- who supported my decision to have a VBAC and delivered Avery. And the NICU staff that was like family for the month of May. And even Bailey's plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Miller. Without him our little girl wouldn't have the smile we love today. And she definitely wouldn't be able to pig out {and still beg for "more"} on all the foods she loves without his expertise and the surgeries he performed.  These people were just doing their jobs, but it was so much more than that. They changed our lives for the better.

When I think of humanizing health care and making a difference, I think of Dr. Ann Anderson. She is a neonatologist in the NICU at The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. She was Avery's main doctor throughout most of her three week stay. From the beginning she struck me as a good person. Not just an experienced MD. Not just as a pleasant person you can talk to. I could feel that deep down she had a kind soul. Not knowing what is wrong when your child is sick is a scary, scary thing. After two days, we still weren't sure what had caused her bilirubin to reach such epic levels. While some other doctors and neonatal nurse practitioners would try to just give me snippets of only good news, Dr. Anderson didn't beat around the bush with me. She could tell I wanted the truth and I wanted the full picture - good or bad. I ran into her in a hallway and said I wanted to know what she feared the brain MRI could show. And while she explained how bilirubin could cause brain damage and that it was a real possibility for Avery, I began to cry helpless, fearful tears. She gave me the information I needed to hear and then when she was finished, she grabbed me into a hug. She cried along with me, right there in the hallway. And as we cried she told me,
"This is how much I care about your daughter. We will do everything possible to help her."


I had never felt such warmth and love from a virtual stranger. And at the moment I needed it most.

I am betting some people might think that if a doctor shows emotion like that, she is weak. Or they might respect her a bit less for not being able to "hold it together."  I feel the exact opposite is true. Seeing her care so deeply for my child - almost like she was her own, put some of my fears to rest. I knew that Avery would get the best care possible. I knew she cared. That made all the difference. I respect her so much. That moment in the hallway made it clear that she is in medicine for the right reason. Not for the prestige. Not for the salary. She is a doctor so she could help a sick little baby girl and her scared mama.

So this Christmas season, I plan to thank those people who made a difference to us. People who were just doing their jobs like they always do, but did it well. I want them to know: We noticed. So while nursing sometimes leaves me feeling drained and underappreciated, I will keep trying to do my job as well as I can. Who knows - one day I might be that person who makes a big difference in the life of someone else. Afterall, that's why I became a nurse in the first place.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How we spend a Tuesday night

While it is nice to go out, sometimes there is nothing better than a night in.


Cuddling on the floor with Daddy

Bailey's "smile" for the camera

Avery taking it all in

Bailey & Mommy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Welcome the newest Solko family member...

In early September we lost our dog Willie. We were back home for our friend Shelby's wedding and Willie was at my parent's house. He loved my parent's house and had been going there for years. He would chase my mom's ducks and go eat disgusting things he shouldn't have. But he never got lost or tried to run away. He would never run on the road. My parents attended the reception and three hours later when they arrived home - Willie was gone.

We looked for miles around my parent's house and called and called for him. We put up posters in the surrounding towns. We called all the neighbors, the local animal shelters, and local vets. No one ever saw him. We have been heartbroken. We had Willie since 2007. He was our first dog together. Jared bought him home after spending a weekend in Herndon helping his Aunt Jane.

Jared & Willie  - May 2007
He was a Shih tzu-poodle mix. Admittedly, he was a weird little dog sometimes. [He would suck -not chew- on blankets or clothes until he made a hole in them. yeah...weird...] He was fiercely protective of Bailey the minute we brought her home. "Willie" was one of Bailey's first words. He was a good dog. And he loved to visit his Grandma Sherri's house.

 We miss him. I miss him sitting under Bailey's highchair waiting for her to "accidently" drop some food {talk about easy clean-up}. I miss him resting his front paws on the rim of the bathtub while the girls got their baths. I even miss him trying to sneak off with Bailey's farm animal toys. For weeks I would think I heard him running to come eat or to accompany me while I used the bathroom [I told you he was weird]. Nevertheless, we miss him... If someone took him from my parent's house, I would like to believe they are loving on him right now. And if he died, I would like to picture his furry little ass running through grassy fields in doggy heaven (you know there is one!) and sucking holes in all the blankets his little heart desires.

But now there is a new guy in town {aka the Solko house}. His name is Murphy and he's a Malit-Poo. He was born in May (just like Avery) and soon will be 6 months old. And he is tiny. Like TINY tiny. Like we-could-sit-on-him-and-crush-him tiny.

The potting training is going as well as can be expected. I think Jared and I both forgot how tedious and annoying toliet training a puppy can be. While taking care of two kids during the day, the potty training can sometimes take a back seat. Speaking of the girls, he loves them. Or maybe I should rephrase that... He loves Avery; he tolerates Bailey. On his first day Bailey proceeded to give him about 10 kisses in a row on the top of his head and then chased him around the living room. She thought this was all in great fun - Murphy not so much. With Avery he loves to curl up on the couch near her head while I am feeding her. They have both fallen asleep cuddled up together. {so sweet!} He is very much a lap dog. (Which is fine because like I said - tiny!)

So as much as we miss Willie, we are moving on with our newest furry friend. I hope he can be a loyal {and tolerant} friend to our girls as they grow up.

[And let's hope he likes rides in a stroller and playing dress-up!]

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Horray for date night!

Last weekend I was at home with the girls while Jared worked. Bailey wasn't being the most well-behaved, and that is putting it mildly. In my desperation I texted my sister Fe (government name: Felicia) and begged her to please please please watch our children on Saturday so we could go do something sans children. Thankfully she agreed. So now for two girls, we will have three babysitters: Fe, my other sister Beaner (given name: Catrina) and our friend Jodie (Fe's roommate).  The fact that I will be able to leave the house with Jared and know that there is no possibility of thrown-up breastmilk being on my shirt when I return: Priceless. Just the knowledge of this night out has given me a better attitude this week. It's kept me going! 

We can barely remember the last time we went out without the girls. With the exception of summer weddings and all that comes with them (showers, rehearsal dinner, and the actual weddings), I think the last time we went out just Jared and I was back when Avery was in the NICU. And obviously I looked amazing in what was probably a nursing tank top, sweatpants, and flip flops. Wow ... sexy... 

Don't get me wrong, they are our kids and it is no one else's obligation to watch them for us, but occasionally isn't that what grandparents are for? ;)  My sisters love to watch the girls, but I know they have lives too and we try not to impose on that. [But seeing as they teach Bailey great things like how to scream {Justy}, "get low" while dancing {Beaner}, and "pound it" {Fe}, they should probably babysit a bit more often.] 

I am glad our girls have such wonderful aunts to look up to and have fun with.
Aunt Fe
Aunt Beaner
Aunt Justy
Being a parent is hard work. I am glad we are able to work opposite days and stay home with our kids. {It's also a nice perk to avoid the expense of daycare!} But sometimes you just need to get away for a few hours and remember you were a person before you became a parent. So here's to a nice night out. Now let's just hope we can think of something else to talk about besides the kids.  :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Has it really been 6 months already??

Six months ago was probably the happiest day I have ever had. At 6:58 PM Avery Josephine joined the world. (I would love to say that the day Bailey was born was also one of my happiest days, and it was to a certain extent. Obviously I was overjoyed at her birth and relieved she was healthy, but an unplanned c-section and a 20 hour period of fog from the morphine PCA made for a less than ideal first day of motherhood.) With Avery's birth I felt like I was more present. 17 hours of labor got me very prepared and it felt extremely real as I pushed her into the world. The feeling of absolute happiness [and relief!] is something I cannot adequately put into words.

A few days later we experienced another extreme emotion: fear. Five days after Avery's birth she was admitted to the NICU after her follow-up visit to the pediatrician. She had extremely high jaundice, so high of a level that the nurses in the NICU that day said it was highest they had ever seen. Two days later the neonatologist told me that she would be ordering an MRI to find out whether Avery had any brain damage from the high bilirubin level. No parent ever wants to hear those words: brain damage. I have never been so scared in all my life. I have also never prayed harder in all my life. I do know that God answered those prayers - eventually we got the news that there were no changes in her brain. But we weren't out of the woods yet: she had developed a blood infection (MRSA) from a line they had placed through her umbilical cord. Avery was one sick little baby. She was on IV antibiotics for three long weeks. During those weeks we had a lot of mama and baby bonding time. Avery mastered breastfeeding and I watched way too much daytime tv. It felt so good to walk out of those doors and head home with a healthy baby.

She has changed so much in these short six months. She is almost blonde now after losing most of the black hair she was born with. She has multiple rolls down both legs, and some on her chubby arms. {Bailey was such a skinny baby; we celebrated when she finally got her first fat roll.}
The official stats:
                                    At birth:                                         6 months old:
                                  7 lbs.  12 oz.                                      16 lbs.  7 oz.
                                   20 inches                                          25 1/2 inches

These last 6 months have been anything but easy, with the challenges of a typical newborn and the stress of spending almost a month in the hospital...{and then throw in some older sibling jealousy...}. But I am glad we are where we are today. We have a healthy 6 month-old mama's girl that loves to suck her thumb and roll around all over the floor. And we love her more than words.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Yesterday a former co-worker of our's buried her 3 year-old son, Ryder. He had been fighting a rare form of cancer for the past year. I simply cannot imagine the pain of losing your child... the pain of having to say goodbye... the pain of missing them every single day. Their journey together helped make us aware of how special the time we have together is. Every day I try to remember that; to cherish every moment.

It's so easy to forget though. Just today I was feeling overwhelmed and losing patience at a pretty rapid rate. I was trying to feed Avery on the couch. I had just gotten readjusted with pillows and had Avery positioned just so... Then I needed to get up to get Bailey because for about the 4th time today she decided to start unloading the {dirty} dishwasher into the drawer of {clean} silverware. I had to force myself to take a deep breath and calmly reload everything and lock the dishwasher - again. [Thank God for naptime.]

I went back and got myself and Avery settled in again. I turned on a DVR'ed episode of Oprah's Life Class on OWN. (Don't judge me! OWN was free last month...) I have always loved Oprah. With the exception of the worthless celebrity episodes, I loved her show and felt like I always took something away from it. Life Class revisits old episodes in which a valuable life lesson is learned. The episode I happened to turn on today was about a woman whose 4 children were murdered by her ex-husband. Now I know this sounds depressing, but in this episode you see how a woman walks through the ashes of her life and finds happiness again. And for God's sake, if this woman can deal with the stress of just living every day, I can find some patience for my toddler! {Plus, sometimes you can just use a good cry.}

The point of my rambling is that I want to be thankful for the present. It might be tiring or overwhelming, or just a pain in the butt some days, but I am thankful for my life. I am thankful for my two healthy children and a husband who loves us and works so hard to make my life easier. I am thankful for my parents who are always so supportive. I am thankful for my sisters who are my best friends. I am thankful for my friends that I never seem to see enough. I am thankful for all of our family that loves us so much. I say a prayer to God for every day that I get to spend on this earth with the people who mean so much to me.