Jenna from the Blog

a lifestyle blog

Life Lately + Some Fairly Big News

You may already know from Facebook what the "big news" part of this post is all about. Jose and I found out a few weeks ago that Baby #3 will be joining us in February! When I found out I was pregnant with Holden, he was our first baby after a miscarriage earlier that year, so we waited 12 weeks before telling anyone outside of our parents and immediate family members. That was kind of our intention this time, too, but I had an early ultrasound last week to find out how far along I was and seeing the little creature on the screen and hearing that it's heart rate was good was pretty exciting and it was getting harder and harder to hold it in. Especially when we saw so many people over the holiday weekend. Then the kids were all dressed up in their Fourth of July outfits and it seemed like that perfect way to tell everyone.

Given that we sold or gave away all of our baby items just a month ago in our garage sale, I think it's pretty obvious that Baby #3 was quite a surprise. But, now that we've gotten over the initial shock, we're pretty stoked! I've definitely always wanted lots of kids but, with everything that went on with Holden, we decided we should be done. Obvs, God had other plans and we are totally okay with that! 

I've actually planned to do a little life update post for a few months now, because I've had a few people asking about my work situation, so I thought I'd update everyone on a few things in general. (So that you can all see how unexciting and uneventful my life really is, lol.) So, as I mentioned sometime around last fall, I was able to go part-time at work, which was pretty exciting. It was also hard, because I really liked the position I was in and the people I worked with. But, upon returning from my maternity leave, it was pretty obvious that working full-time with two kids and Jose's crazy work schedule was just not working out for us. So I was fortunate enough to be able to step into a part-time position within the same division and going part-time seemed to be exactly the change I needed and everything was great. So, upon learning about this position, I knew that it would be a temporary position, meaning that the position would end in a certain amount of hours. I was okay with that, because it would at least give me a chance to see how part-time would workout for us. While I was in this temporary position, there was mention of a need for a regular(permanent) part-time position, so my next step was to aim for that. However, there was a little misunderstanding on when exactly the hours would expire for my temporary position, and it actually ended before the regular part-time position was technically a thing. So I was a stay-at-home-mom for about a month and a half. My mom would still come over a couple days a week, so I could play around with this blogging thing, basically keeping me sane. Because you know what I learned in that one-and-a-half-months? Being a SAHM is freaking hard!!! PLEASE don't get me wrong on this one. I love my babies more than aaanything. But man oh man, was it exhausting! Especially since we were really trying to watch our finances at the time and I couldn't just take them to the zoo every day to entertain them, lol. So anyway, I was fortunate enough to be able to return to work in mid-April with the same lovely people I was working with before, and am now working three days a week. 

Since then, we've had Holden's surgery (which I already posted about), our first garage sale (Yes, I want to cry about this now), Holden's birthday party (details here), some fun weekends with family and friends for the Fourth of July, and work has been pretty busy in between. 

We have Holden's first swallow study since his palate repair, this Thursday. Hoping to God it shows he's not aspirating or penetrating and can finally drink unthickened liquids. He's already starting to move from pureed baby foods to real people foods (bananas, eggs, ravioli, mac and cheese!), he's been drinking his full Pediasure feed through a straw (thickened with pudding powder), and the only thing he's getting through his tube at this point is water to stay hydrated. We had a little scare last Friday, because he pulled his g-tube out (the part that's attached to him!) but, after a few frantic hours and help from the best family in the world, his tube was back in and he was good to go! Super thankful for my amazing mother-in-law and husband for this and for avoiding an emergency trip to Riley!

So life has been crazy, as it always is, but also still the same ol' stuff, basically. 

That's all for now, friends! Btw, how convenient is it that Holden's Riley appointments this week are scheduled on the same day that the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale starts!?? Coincidence? No way! You know where I'll be! Also, I'm planning on doing another giveaway this week as well. Trust me, you will not want to miss this one!

My Favorite Everyday Accessories

In preparing for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (that is just two days away!), one thing I noticed that my wardrobe is majorly lacking is accessories. That's one of the top things I'll be on the hunt for during the sale. Last year I purchased two gold Kate Spade bangles to go with my gold watch and I love them so much that I'm going to get them in the silver and rose gold this year - definitely hoping they're in the sale! Kate Spade is obviously a favorite of mine in the jewelry category because the quality is so great and it's very affordable. I'm still trying to sort out my feelings on mixing metals, but I'm thinking I might get a little crazy and start doing it. I know, I know. I'm craaaazy. Haha, but my wedding ring is silver, so I guess the crazy in me has really always been there. Anywho, here are a few things that are perfect for wearing every day to take your outfit up a notch! I've linked everything below, so you can easily find them!

Shop the items here:        

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

We're technically two weeks away from the biggest and best sale of the year (only one week for early access)! Last year was my first year shopping the #nsale and, not being prepared going into it, things were a little crazy. I'd no sooner add something to my bag, then go to checkout and the item would be gone. You most definitely need to go into this one with a plan! I've created this email to outline some tips, based on my experience from last year and some things I've gathered from the pros.

Why is the #nsale that big of a deal?

You're getting brand new fall merchandise at significantly lower prices! This is the perfect sale for building your fall capsule wardrobe, getting all that back-to-school shopping done, and even for stocking up on Christmas gifts!

What you should know before the sale

  • I highly recommend signing up for a Nordstrom card, if you don't have one already, specifically for this sale. They have a credit or debit option. Having either of these gives you early access! Also, you get triple points days that can be scheduled when you checkout. (Points get you Nordstrom Notes which equals free money!)
  • Take inventory of your closet and find out what you're looking for going into the sale. What items do you need to stock up on? What special events do you have coming up that you might need a cute dress or romper for? 
  • Keep in mind that Nordstrom has free shipping and free returns. If I'm in between sizes, I'll buy two, knowing I can return whichever one doesn't fit. 

Important dates

July 12-19   |   Early access in store and online for Nordstrom card holders

July 20-August 5   |   Sale open to public

August 6   |   Prices go up

In the meantime, you can shop the Anniversary Sale catalog here!

Holden's Shark Party!

Since Holden wasn't able to eat cake yet on his birthday back in May, we just celebrated it this past weekend with friends and family and shark themed everything! I must say, I have really grown to love being a little over the top when it comes to the kids' birthday parties. I feel like there's something so enticing and fun about themed finger foods and tying it all together with all the color-coordinating things. As always, we are so grateful for everyone who took time out of their day to hang with us and celebrate Holden's wild first year. Also, for those wondering why we went with a shark theme, there are a few hashtags that go along with the whole PRS thing--#keepyourchinup and #jawsome are my favs. So the shark theme was definitely a play on that, since our little buddy is the most #jawsome fella we know.
And if you thought for a minute that I pulled all of this together myself, you're totally mistaking. In fact, the only things I actually made are the Jell-o cups and the "fish n chips" (I literally mixed potato chips and goldfish crackers together in a bowl, lol). I'm so fortunate to have amazing family and friends who are so willing to jump in and help out that, honestly, sometimes it feels as though everyone that's there helped to put the party together in some way and we're all just partaking in our own hard work.

Holden is One

Well, it's been one crazy year, but I wouldn't have had it any other way! Honestly. As tough as this past year has been, so much good has come out of it and I know it was all part of God's plan for us to all grow even stronger as a family, and as individuals as well.

Holden, you are our warrior, Bud. Words cannot express the love we have for you. You were the missing piece to our puzzle that we didn't even know we were missing and you just bring so much joy to everyone you meet!

Currently, you seem to be fascinated with... cleaning supplies. Especially the hand-held vacuum. I can't say that I'm mad about that. You love to be held, like, all the time. You love bath time and playing in the water. You love riding your little car around outside, but are really starting to prefer trying to walk. And you are sooooo close! You can actually walk pretty well on your own, between Mommy and Daddy, and I feel like it's only a matter of time before you're all over the place. You love going up the stairs, but would just free fall down if we'd let you. You're definitely living up to what I like to call the "second child theory." You love your sissy so much and want to be her bestie, while also expecting her to let you rip her hair out. I think you're starting to grow on Zoey as well. You love food, ice cream in particular, and your SLP says it's so great that you have such a desire for food. You're my child, I could've told her you'd be like that before you were even born. 

Happy one year, Baby Boy! Praying the rest are slightly easier on you than this one was. :)

Holden still has some restrictions from his palate repair, so his birthday party is in a few weeks, but you know we had to celebrate a little bit the day of with some frosting! (He just clenched the cupcake part in his hand the whole time and we made sure only frosting went in his mouth.)

Holden's Palate Repair Recovery

Today marks four weeks since Holden had surgery. The surgery that we'd been dreading for months has finally came and passed. And guess what... we survived! And. Holden is doing SO great!!!

The first week was probably the toughest, but not because Holden was screaming and in non-stop pain, like I'd imagined. In fact, he was on pain meds the first few days, and then we were able to ween him off pretty quickly and he was his normal, happy self again, as if nothing had ever happened. The only reason I say it was tough is because, when we stayed overnight in the hospital, he slept on us so he could sit upright. They wanted him upright as much as possible, so that any blood would drip out of his mouth as opposed to down his throat. So when we were home, we tried to continue keeping him upright, by taking turns sleeping with him in a recliner. But he could never get comfortable, so basically he'd just move around all night and cry, and sometimes whack you in the face with his robot arms (because he now has to wear arm restraints to keep himself from putting things in his mouth). Needless to say, no one got any sleep. About 3 days in, we were miserable and could barely function due to lack of sleep. We called his plastic surgeon's office and they gave us the okay to put him in his crib at night, just as we'd done before surgery. I had been nervous about doing this, as I was afraid he'd chew on the side of his crib, or that screaming like he sometimes does when we first put him down could somehow rip his sutures or something. They assured us it was fine and we did it that night and, just like that, life got a whole lot easier! There are still nights where he doesn't sleep as much but, for the most part, he's pretty much back to where he was sleep-wise. Minus having to sleep with arm restraints on, of course.

Food-wise, he still gets his feed through his g-tube and can eat pureed foods, too. We're working with a local SLP to slowly get him to start drinking from a cup again. He'd done it a few times before surgery, but didn't show much interest, so we're pretty much starting over. While we can't wait to get his g-tube out, we have to play it safe because he still showed penetration in his last swallow study (which was back in March) and we won't do another swallow study until he's drinking at least 2 oz. from the cup. Which is scary to think that he could be aspirating and we might not even know until he's been doing it for a little bit. But I fully trust every doctor he sees right now and totally believe they all know exactly what they're doing to get him on the right track.

The holiday kinda messed us up as far as Holden's follow up appointments. Technically, he should've gone down on Monday (Memorial Day) and would (hopefully) be off all restraints, but he actually won't go back down until the first full week of June, so it'll be about five weeks post-surgery. So we're hoping he'll definitely be off all restraints by then - no arm restraints, no food restraints - which means it'll be boot camp time to work towards getting his tube out! I think he'll also be able to have his Puffs and yogurt melts again which are a life-saver when we're trying to keep him occupied during his feed or while we're eating.

We're not quite out of the water yet. Whenever Holden does get his g-tube out, we'll still have some work to do speech-wise, but there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. When Holden was born and we first started researching PRS, there was minimal information available. But many of the parents that I've been able to connect with always said, "The first year is the toughest." And, honestly, that couldn't be any more true. That is what gave us hope through the tougher parts of this. If you're a PRS parent reading this, know that! It does get easier. Your little one will be able to live a more normal life. This happens in some cases sooner than others. For example, some babies don't have to have a g-tube like Holden does. The light at the end of the tunnel is a bit closer for them. And some babies also have Stickler's Syndrome associated with their PRS. In those cases, that light might seem a bit further away. But it's there. So hang in there!

Some random pictures because why not...
Our method to the madness
So there are two doors in our house that have cat holes, like the one pictured above (from the previous owners). These doors annoy me and I want to replace them eventually, but for now they make for some pretty good entertainment. 
Mother's Day 2018
The best part of early morning follow-up appointments? We found a hotel that we love and it's right down the road from a pretty sweet Target, as well. 
Holden's 1-week follow up appointment was great!

And that's a wrap for now! Xo

Holden's Palate Repair Surgery

Warning: One of the pictures below is a little graphic, as palate repair tends to be a little bloody afterwords. 

Holden had his third and, hopefully, final surgery last Thursday to repair his cleft palate. We've heard all along that cleft palate repair was by far the worst of the three, in terms of recovery, so we were especially dreading this one.

We decided to have a family day at the zoo the day before, since we figured we wouldn't be getting out much for a while afterword. The weather was perfect. Both kids were well-behaved. And, honestly, it was just a good freaking day all around. Days like that are so good for the soul!

We stayed in a hotel that evening and my mother-in-law joined us. I remember feeling so guilty and awful every time I looked at Holden because he was all smiles the entire day and I just felt so bad that he had no clue what was coming. It was different this time around because he was so much more aware. He'd come such a long way from his last surgery and, aside from still having his g-tube, we almost started feeling as though we had a "normal" baby. How much would this surgery change that? But, obviously, it was for the better and needed to be done.

We didn't need to be to the hospital until 11:45 the next morning, because his surgery wasn't until 1:15, but we got there about a half hour early and they set us up in a pre-op room. I swear, my stomach is always in knots before his surgeries because my mind is filled with every single, extremely unlikely, one-in-a-billion-type scenario of how things could go wrong. And this morning was no different. We hung out for a bit, answered a bunch of questions for the nurses, etc.

When we were talking to the anesthesia nurse, she asked when the last time Holden was sick was, which we told her was earlier in April, but that he'd been to the doctor just a week ago and they'd given him a clean bill of health for surgery. What we didn't realize was that after taking a steroid, which he did for his cough, we should've waited 4-6 weeks before he had surgery. We had spoken to his plastic surgeon's nurse earlier that week and were under the impression that, as long as he wasn't sick at the time of surgery, he'd be good to go. Also, Holden always had some kind of congestion due to the cleft palate so, had we waited for him to be completely healthy, he'd never have surgery. So the nurse expressed that she was pretty concerned that he'd only been off his steroid for about 2 weeks and that she would need to talk to the anesthesiologist, who would need to also discuss this with the plastic surgeon. Jose and I were pretty much freaking out at this point. He'd used up all his vacation time for this and for Holden's recovery needs after the surgery. We were so mentally prepared to have this over and done with. Having to wait a few more weeks for him to have surgery would be horrible. But, at the same time, I 100% trusted his doctors and knew they'd make the right decision for him.

A few minutes later, the anesthesiologist came in to talk to us. He expressed his concerns that there could be some issues extubating Holden, but also said that if there was any kind of huge red flag, they would not go through with it, and that it was basically up to us. No pressure. Just our child's life depending on us, in this very moment right now, to make the right decision. Naturally, my first thought went to last summer when Holden failed his first extubation and I was like, "There's no way we can do this." But then I remembered that was because his airway was still too small at the time, which was no longer the case, so that was irrelevant. The anesthesiologist hadn't said anything about him failing the extubation being a possibility, he'd just said that the cough he'd had could flare up again and cause breathing issues for him coming out of extubation. Still pretty serious stuff. After asking the anesthesiologist 1,000 more questions, we did feel more assured and decided that going through with the surgery would be the right choice. But I remember sitting there after he left and hoping we'd made the right decision.

A few minutes later, the nurse came in and got Holden to take him back to surgery. It was so quick. She just picked him up and walked away. I watched them walk away for as far as I could see. He didn't even look back to see if Mommy and Daddy were coming with him. Here it was. The moment I've been dreading for so long, as I imagined he'd be kicking and screaming the whole way back, and he didn't bat an eye. It was actually pretty unusual for him to just go with a stranger so easily, but it was the reassurance I needed at the time, that he was going to be okay. Although, I did torment myself later, as I imagined him getting back there and realizing we weren't there and then kicking and screaming as they put him under.

We were told to wait in the pre-op room for his first doctor to come out when he was done putting Holden's tubes in, basically because it's a pretty quick procedure. After about 30 minutes, he came out and told us anesthesia went great and tubes went in great. We thanked him and then wished him well, as he was going to be leaving the hospital and moving across the country, so we wouldn't be seeing him anymore. Question: How do you properly thank someone who does something so life-changing for your child?

Then we went out to the lobby where families wait during surgery. We ate lunch, then hung out and waited for updates from the nurses. The time actually went by pretty fast. We were originally told the surgery would end around 4:30, so we were a little surprised when they called us back to the consultation room around 3:30. Of course, my mind went straight to something went wrong and they need to let us know. One of the billions of things I love about Holden's plastic surgeon is that, when he walks into the consultation room, the first words out of his mouth are, "Surgery went great." Some doctors start off with medical terminology and I have to decipher if they're heading in a good direction or bad direction. I like that he eases your mind right when he walks through the door. We chatted with him a bit about what recovery might look like and things of that nature and then headed back out to the lobby until they called us back to recovery.

Another moment I'd been, obviously impatiently waiting, but also dreading was walking back to the recovery area. Back when Holden had his distractors taken out and we were in the recovery area with him, there was another little boy--maybe about 4-5 years old--that was just screaming for his mom. I remember looking over and seeing her just run to him, panicking. He may have just been freaked out coming out of surgery, I don't really know, but that moment is engraved in both Jose's and my mind and I prayed so many times that we wouldn't experience that with Holden.

Honestly, I felt God's presence in such a crazy way when we got back to the recovery area. The nurse that walked us over to him said they were all so surprised with how calm he was post-surgery. She said that most kids come out pretty upset after palate repair. We thought maybe it was the pain meds, but she said that they all get the same types of meds and that he was just really different than what they were used to. She told us he'd been clinging to one of the nurses and when we turned the corner, we saw this nurse sitting there, rocking our sweet baby, as he slept in her arms. My heart freaking exploded. The nurse stood up to hand him off to me and his eyes barely opened as he reached for me and my heart exploded even more. Each time Jose and I are on our way back to the recovery area, he'll jokingly walk fast like he's going to beat me there and get to hold Holden first. And then every time, he let's me go first. All I could think about in that moment, other than that I was pretty uncomfortable because my back was arched trying to keep Holden upright, was all the people over the past few months who have told me they're praying for our little guy and praying that everything goes well for him. Talk about God's grace just pouring over you.

Throughout my life, I've always heard people, either at church, or on TV, or wherever, tell a story and then say something like, "It was in that moment that I knew God was real." So many times I thought, "Well, I've never really had that. But I do have a compilation of smaller moments where I've definitely felt His presence or grace." And I was always fine with that. However, I felt so much in that moment in the recovery room, that I can honestly say I think that was my moment. I know that sounds so weird. And maybe a little crazy. But it was just such an overwhelmingly peaceful feeling that I know I'll never forget. Of course, I only wish that Aurora would have been in there with us. (Only Jose and I could go back to the recovery area, so Jose's mom stayed with her.)

After spending a little bit longer in the recovery area, we were taken up to our room. Holden slept for the rest of the day. My mother-in-law took Aurora back home so she could go to school the next day. At night, we tried laying him down. They said if we laid him down at all, he should sleep with this little oxygen box over his head to help his breathing. Holden laid there for about five minutes just looking around this box, probably wondering wtf was happening, before he flipped over, knocking the box off of him and made it clear to us that he wasn't going to be sleeping in the bed that night. Okay, buddy, tonight you win. We Jose held him through the night.

The next day we hung out in the room and waited to see a g-tube doctor. We had asked about having his g-tube changed, as he'd ripped the plug off of it the week before. We were hoping for some kind of quick fix (temporary plug, etc.), since he hopefully won't be using it much longer, but the best option ended up being to switch it out entirely with a different type of g-tube. The g-tube he had was made to last inside of him for quite some time, which I think it would've if he hadn't ripped the plug part off, so getting this type out is a little bit more complex. Basically they had to push his stomach down pretty far--which he actually handled pretty well and didn't cry until they were almost done--and use a tool to elongate a piece inside, so that it can come out. During this process, his stomach contents come out, so pretty much he was vomiting from his g-tube hole while they switched it out. Probably the grossest thing I've ever seen, but it was super quick and they just popped the new one right in. Again, hopefully he won't have to eat through it much longer. And when he is done, it pops out a bit easier than the one he had.

After that, we were good to go! We signed off on everything and were ready to head home. Holden was still pretty hopped up on pain meds, which made for a peaceful ride home. We were just happy to be back and ready to conquer the recovery!