Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Baptism Photo Shoot

A few days after the baptism, I did a little photo shoot with Olivia in our upstairs room where the light is perfect. The photos came out really nice (for someone who has no idea what to do), but it helps that Olivia is so photogenic (well, ok, she was being a peach about it).

The dress still looked beautiful, but for some reason, she seemed like a peanut in it (now that I could focus on the moment and not stress about everything else)!

I enlisted Frank's help to try to make it go faster, and really, to try to get a better full-length shot. You can see him in this one where she is trying to eat the dress.

And after about 20 minutes I remembered the bonnet... as you can see, Olivia by that time was not so into it.

Luckily she did not demonstrate any of this during the mass on Sunday! Enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cute little "Blinkee"

Enjoying the newest sidebar addition? It's called a blinkee and can be found for free at The Cutest Blog on the Block! They have many to choose from. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Love Assets

My recent run/walk felt good throughout; however, my thighs did not. The other unfortunate thing about the weight difference is that I don't have many workout clothes that fit, so I've been scrounging to find the shorts or tops that I can squeeze into without embarrassing myself in front of the neighbors. I'm also remembering why I bought a lot of compression shorts -- you know, those sexy, tight, lycra-like shorts. For those of you who are size zeros, you may not know this, but some of us have thighs that touch. Gasp. I know it's tough to imagine but not everyone walks around wearing shorts or skirts pain-free. Especially on these wonderful, northeastern, humid days. Nothing like a good thigh-chafe to get you going in the morning. Now, in the sports-world, there is this amazing product called Body Glide. For those of you non-athletes, it looks like deodorant but you spread it on areas of your body that could chafe after long periods of movement. For me -- the thighs. It's like wax or vaseline or something and prevents chafing. It's fantastic; in fact, I use it for non-running events (when I need to wear a dress or skirt sans pantyhose), too.

In order to get to my point, I need to share another story for background purposes. About 4 weeks after I had Olivia, Frank and I trekked to Long Island for his cousin's wedding. Frank was a groomsman, so while I stayed with Olivia in our hotel room (it had a kitchenette complete with refrigerator, which is why I agreed to take a 4 week-old), he attended the wedding. So that I could participate in something, his mother agreed to watch Liv while we both went to the rehearsal dinner. I wore a dress that I had purchased to wear for this, another wedding, and Olivia's baptism. When I tried the dress on, I was feeling okay about it. I thought I looked pretty good considering I had just popped out a kid a few weeks before; it wasn't my first choice but nonetheless, a good one. I was able to do my hair and make-up for the event, and I even wore heels! I was feeling so on top of my game. Four weeks after giving birth to a baby girl, I was wearing make-up and heels! And then it happened. A moment that totally shattered my self-confidence. A woman (my own gender betrayed me!) said when are you due? Sigh. And bam, just like that, shot through the heart. I ordered wine immediately. When I told her I had just had a baby, she apologized, told us of her under 6 month old child, and tried to regroup. But the damage was done.

In light of both of these stories, I knew I had to do something for Olivia's baptism that would help hide the post-partum tummy weight and keep my thighs from chafing (so that I wouldn't have to wear stockings with open toed shoes). So I ran to Target in search of some sort of body suit -- a compression short for my whole self, if you will. After frantically searching the many options for what would be best, I found "Love Assets." Or at least that's what I called them until I realized that's just the website; the name is apparently just Assets. They came in tops AND bottoms (priced separately of course!). I was a little ambitious with the size I got for the bottoms -- I'm pretty sure you aren't supposed to do squats to get into these, and I may have heard a seam tearing (which I will never admit out loud). Ultimately, though, they did the trick! I'm not gonna say that they took 10 pounds off or anything, but no one asked when I was due. And they should be good for all future events, too. So here's to my love assets... and the body suits, too.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Everything for a reason

I've been thinking a lot lately how everything happens for a reason. For instance, when Frank and I decided to have a baby, we were hoping for a May/June birth seeing as how I often have much less contracted work in the summer (due to the break). We are apparently very good at getting pregnant, since Olivia was conceived in the first month we tried. Initially, we were worried about budgeting and finances, but I began to like the idea of having a longer maternity leave than I initially imagined. Then, when Olivia was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia, which led to the surgery and subsequent spica cast, I realized how lucky I was to have the extra time. If she had been born in June, I would be headed back to work right in the middle of the spica cast stretch. As it stands now, she will hopefully be cast-free in early August, and I will head back to work in September. The timing is (cross your fingers) ideal.

And then, I think about all the trouble we had breastfeeding initially. In the hospital, she wouldn't latch on or suck. We had to teach her how to do it, and in the meantime, we fed her formula from a bottle. I pumped until she got the hang of it, and slowly we weaned her off the formula. Again, we were lucky that there was no nipple confusion, and eventually I was able to both nurse and give her a pumped bottle of milk. This would seem like no big deal, but I realized how wonderful it worked out when we were driving to Delaware for her appointment when she was only five days old. We sat in the waiting room for a few minutes, but when we were called back to the room, we waited for about 20 - 30 more minutes. She had to be fitted for the harness, but since her insurance wasn't finalized (since she had just been born and Frank hadn't talked to HR yet), it took about another hour to get it all settled. When all was said and done, we had driven 45 minutes for a 2+ hour appointment followed by an hour drive home. I remember thinking thank goodness she takes a bottle. In hindsight, I couldn't imagine being in a situation where I was exclusively breastfeeding and wondering about where I could feed her in private.

Maybe we are the right parents for this because we are our usual upbeat and positive selves. If a certain percentage of children are born with hip dysplasia, and an even smaller number require surgery, then I'm okay with the fact that it's us and not someone else. We are a short-ish drive away from one of the best doctors on the east coast for this condition. Our schedules are flexible. So I keep telling myself it is what it is, and God has a plan. I may not see it now, but I'll see it soon enough. It won't be like this forever, and when it's over, we'll be stronger.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Once upon a time last year... a little more than 1 year ago, actually, I ran a 27 something 5K (meaning I ran it in just over 27 minutes). It was my PR, a shining moment in my running career. But that was then and this is now, and a few days ago I decided to time myself running 1 mile. Just one. One measly little mile. The good news is that I was able to run the whole thing -- whoo hoo! The other news (because it's not bad, it just is) is that I ran it in 14 minutes and 29 seconds. To put a positive spin on this, it means that I have a lot of room for improvement, so my time will only get better. I won't lie, as exhilirating as it was to run for almost 15 minutes, it was frustrating to only hit 1 mile. But, it is what it is and I continue on my journey toward 13.1 miles (in a row. without stopping.). Well, that and a better time for the mile.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Harness and Spica Cast Clothing!

Thank you, Rebekah, for this information!

This is a website that sells baby clothing for kids in Pavlick harnesses and Spica casts! Very helpful!

Baby Hip Wear


Today's Doctor Appointment

Olivia had her two week follow-up with Dr. Bowen today. Good news! Everything looks just as it should. Her hips have set into place, and he is just looking for the bone and socket to develop. Little Miss Chubs gained some weight (which is really a good thing!), so he needed to put spacers in her cast. This meant the cast woman, Amy, taking a buzz saw like thing to the cast covering Liv's legs and adding in small spacers. I won't lie -- the buzz saw was a tad intimidating. There's definitely this feeling that your child's legs could be sawed off if anyone moves the wrong way. Olivia, in usual Livie fashion, just laid there, chillin. If I can get a good photo of the spacers, I'll add it to this post later. Otherwise, they look like the plastic pieces that hold up the cardboard characters in boardgames. After they got positioned in the newly cut cast, Amy taped up the edges again and then added more red fiberglass on top. So, in all actuality, the spacers just look like weird things jutting out of the cast -- all Frankenstein-esque. As usual Olivia is handling the more spacious cast like a peach. We are two very lucky parents!

We have another appointment in 2 weeks to monitor her progress and growth. In all likelihood she will need to be recasted (which requires sedation)... I'm actually looking forward to a new, poop-free cast (selfish, I know). Make sure to check back for the update!

We met two wonderful couples today who have daughters in Pavlick harnesses. We would like to wish Caroline, Luke and baby Taylor as well as Rohina and baby Sadaf positve harness thoughts. Your beautiful daughters will be hip-perfect in no time! Please keep our family updated on yours!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Growing up Gosselin

Quotes from people during tonight's viewing of Jon and Kate Plus 8.

This is like the moon landing. You'll know exactly where you were when you saw this. ~ Paul

Jon or Kate Plus 8. You heard it here first. ~Frank on the new title of the show

I gotta go, the show's back on!! ... Ok, I choose my brother. ~ Alicia while talking to her brother on the phone and interrupting a very important conversation.

Growing Up Gosselin ~ ok, this was a comment Alicia made while on a walk with Frank and Liv before the show actually aired. It's the title of the reality series of the Gosselin children years from now when they are all in therapy.

God loves Liv

Olivia's baptism was yesterday, June 21, 2009 -- Father's Day. Our church -- Our Mother of Good Counsel -- does many of the sacraments during Sunday masses. I love this about our parish. I feel like it truly welcomes those making the sacrament into the community. We are a community of faith, and it seems only right that our community is involved in such monumental occasions. And I forget how many of the parishoners know me ... well, knew me as the pregnant choir woman.

Anyway, the baptisms are done this way, and we opted for the 9:30am mass. Father Dennis presided, and The Holy Fathers choir sang. The gathering song during baptism weekend is always The Litany of the Saints, which is a favorite of mine and usually makes me tear up (Sunday was no different, despite the entire congregation staring at our family). Olivia looked adorable in her christening gown (thanks, Aunt Gi!) and sweater that my grandmother knitted way back when my cousins and I were baptized (thanks, Aunt Jo Marie, for sending it).

She was such a peach and slept through the whole mass. Even when Father Dennis poured water over her head, she only woke up a bit as if to say, "What are you doing that for?!" Then it was right back to sleep. Frank held her the whole time on account of the spica cast. Thank goodness the gown was nice and long with a little layer of crinoline; no one saw her bright red cast at all! Frank's sister, Gina, is Olivia's godmother, and my brother, Matt, is her godfather. They both did great during the mass, although, Father Dennis had to remind my brother that chewing gum is not really appropriate for God's house. I know that both of them will be incredibly wonderful godparents as Olivia ages. We may encourage her just a little bit more to contact Aunt Gi for questions about God and Catholicism but I don't think Uncle Matt will be too upset.

Aunt Gi and Uncle Matt with Olivia. Isn't she precious!

Olivia, Frank, and I after her baptism -- still asleep, God bless her!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Am Not a Jogger (I may waddle when I run, but I'm running all the same)

This is taken word for word from the November 2007 Runner's World column "No Need for Speed" by John Bingham.

The late Dr. George Sheehan, beloved Runner's World columnist and arguably the first running boom's premier philosopher, once wrote that the difference between a runner and a jogger was a signature on a race application. (For the youngsters out there, there was a time before online registration when you actually filled out a paper application, signed it, attached a check, and mailed it in. Quaint, I know.) As succinct as Dr. Sheehan's definition was, it made the point. If you were motivated enough to train for and participate in an organized running event, then you were a runner. Anyone willing to risk public failure in order to be a part of the running community - no matter what his or her pace per mile might be - was a runner. Period. Kind of hard for anyone to argue with that logic.

But a few months ago, an ad ran in this magazine that drew a very hard line between runners and joggers. I immediately heard from tons of readers who were upset by the distinction. To me, however, such definitions are meaningless, since those of us who call ourselves runners already know why we call ourselves runners. Your reason may be different from mine, but here's why I know I am a runner:

I am a runner because my runs have names. I do tempo runs and threshold runs and fartlek runs. I do long, slow runs and track workouts. My runs are defined, even if my abs are not.

I am a runner because my shoes are training equipment, not a fashion statement. The best shoe for me is the one that makes me a better runner. I choose the shoe that goes with my running mechanics, not my running outfit.

I am a runner because I don't have running outfits. I have technical shirts and shorts and socks. I have apparel that enhances the experience of running by allowing me to run comfortably. I can say "Coolmax" and "Gore-Tex" in the same sentence and know which does what.

I am a runner because I know what effort feels like, and I embrace it. I know when I'm pushing the limits of my comfort and why I'm doing it. I know that heavy breathing and an accelerated heart rate - things I once avoided - are necessary if I want to be a better runner.

I am a runner because I value and respect my body. It will whisper to me when I've done too much. And if I choose to listen to that whisper, my body won't have to scream in pain later on.

I am a runner because I am willing to lay it all on the line. I know that every finish line has the potential to lift my spirits to new highs or devastate me, yet I line up anyway.

I am a runner because I know that despite my best efforts, I will always want more from myself. I will always want to know my limits so that I can exceed them.

I am a runner because I run. Not because I run fast. Not because I run far.

I am a runner because I say I am. And no one can tell me I'm not.

Waddle on, friends.

My Running Legs

So on Friday I did what every runner knows you are not supposed to do -- I ran too much too soon. I couldn't help it; I missed running so much and I just wanted to see what I could do. Famous last words.

Years ago when I was single, living in the city, and could work out whenever, my roommate and I joined a gym in Old City. It was great. We would run to the gym, work out, and either walk, cab, or bus it home. We even saw a personal trainer (oh how I miss the days of disposable income...)! This was when I was trying to lose weight the first go-round, and I remember the trainer saying that running was one of the best ways to lose weight because it works so many muscles at once. Sold. I mean, to a single girl who may have been a little chubs, all I heard was "quickly lose weight." Without knowing what the hell I was doing, I started running on the treadmill. I think in those early days a speed of 4.5 was super fast to me. For those who don't run or walk on treadmills, many people can walk (albeit quickly) at a 4.5 speed. I wouldn't say that back then I loved running, but it got the job done and poundage started coming off. My friend convinced me to run the Mother's Day Race for the Cure [Breast Cancer] in Philly -- a 5K, one of my favorite race lengths -- and again, without really knowing how to train, I said, "Hells yeah, beahtch." Honestly, I think I really did say it like that, it was the mid-aughts. Obviously. So, in an amazingly fast 40 minutes, I blazed through that 5K. (Side note: a 5K is 3.1 miles. Many skillfully trained and super fast runners finish below 20 minutes.) In the process, I fell head over heels in love.

Thankfully, I had no idea how slow my time was -- I was really proud. I think if someone had pointed out that some people walk a 5K faster than what I ran it, I would have been devastated. Instead, I kept running and actually looked into training (WHAT?!), and the next year finished in 32 minutes -- very respectable. In the meantime, I started looking for other races to train for and run. A friend convinced me to run the Philadelphia Half-Marathon. Naive to the endurance involved, I thought, 13.1 miles -- CAKE. This brings me to my point. I did train for that half. I ran it, and again, I LOVED it. That same friend ran with me, and I finished in 2:16 (that's hours:minutes, fyi) -- a great first time. Here's what no one tells you (and listen up, newbies, because this is important): the day after an incredibly long run like that, where you push yourself competitively beyond what you may have trained, well... it sucks. The runner's high probably hasn't worn off BUT your legs work as well as a toddler learning to walk. In fact, most infants taking their first steps probably have more control over their legs that you do at that moment. Like childbirth, amnesia takes over when you train for the next race. And truth be told, if you train better and don't push so hard on race day, you may not be so sore... but who doesn't run with everything they've got when there are people around you running just as hard and just as far? Seriously.

Again, my long-winded point. So on Friday, I threw caution to the perfectly cool wind and ran for 12 minutes straight. Mind you, I took a good 9 months off from running while I was pregnant. 9 MONTHS. No running. None. I had only just started this past week doing 60 seconds of running followed by 90 minutes of walking for 20 minutes total. I had no right to just trot along for 12 minutes straight (and then an additional 3 minutes after I walked for a bit -- mostly because I like even intervals). There is a reason why training programs don't say, "Hey, on the 8th day, just run your ass off and see what you can do." So, starting as early as Friday night, my legs have been mush. In fact, I think it was easier walking after I ran the 13.1 miles than it has been right now. And don't get me wrong, I wasn't running fast. I mean, in that 12 minutes I probably ran a mile. I think I ran faster in the first 5K that I talked about earlier. Seriously, I was lapped by an 80 year old woman getting in her morning stroll.

But it was soooo worth it.

New blog layout

Hi all,

I used a super easy and FREE blog design from Aqua Poppy Designs 2 -- if you like it, check it out. Thank you, Rebekah, for that tip!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A quickie

Lyrics from a country song that I heard on the radio today and thought, "How oddly appropo..."

God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.

Aaahhh the masters of country music have done it again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Adventures in the Spica Cast

Meet Super Livie! Here is a cell phone picture of Olivia in her spica cast. It goes all the way up to her chest with openings at her belly and the bottom for diapering. She's super cute either way, but here are some things that we've discovered have been made difficult by the cast. I'm listing them below as well as our current solutions.

1. Where do we put her? She no longer fits in the bouncers due to how wide the cast makes her legs. So during the day, we have to figure out where to set her when we can't hold her. She's cool lying on her back on the activity mat or chilling in the crib/cradle when I need to go to the bathroom. However, when we are laying low in the living room, we can't hold her all her the time. Our current solution is a bean bag chair. We were able to find one pretty cheap at Target, and in true Phillies fan chic, it's a baseball bean bag. We are still working on going places -- before she could just stay in her infant carseat but not more! So, this has made attending church or eating out with Liv near impossible... although I still argue that God would rather see Livie hanging out in a bean bag chair than no Liv at all.

2. How do we clean her? Like most casts, this one cannot get wet, but additionally, the cast has a gortex lining, which wicks away moisture from her skin in an effort to prevent rashes and discomfort. The gortex is often used in sports. Unfortunatlely when it comes in contact with lotions, soaps, creams, scents, etc., it disintegrates and becomes useless. Therefore, we cannot use baby wipes while diapering. Do you know how hard it is to find totally unscented, lotion- and soap-free disposable washcloths? After scouring the internet, we found some and special-ordered. In the meantime we used paper towels -- not recommended for long-term use as they tend to shred during rubbing. But, here's a fun extra tidbit. Since I've been eating healthier (read: more fruits and veggies), Olivia's poops are sooo much more fun! So, her bum was getting a lot of exposure to water. In order to prevent diaper rash (which can't be fixed due to the ban on creams), we blow dry her bottom. Yep, you read that right. I plugged in my extra hair dryer and after her second or third messy diaper (or more!), she gets the "spa treatment." An unexpected bonus: the hair dryer calms her down when she's hysterically crying. Who knew? By the way, we also use "Mustela." This is a product that you can purchase; it is a rinse-free cleaner. This allows us to bathe her without using water. It doesn't go under the cast, but on her arms, chest, and face. There are wipes as well as the solution shown in the picture (you need to use 100% cotton pads with it -- the disposable washcloths work but also consider cotton balls and cotton wipes used in make-up removal).

3. How the hell do we do tummy time? Ok, this one we still haven't quite figured out. The doctor and nurses very nonchalantly recommended that we put blankets under her belly/chest and she'd be fine. This has only led to Liv being faceplanted into said blankets long enough to begin wailing in discomfort. Don't get me wrong, Olivia is holding her head up well when we hold her upright, but in the suggested position, there was still too much weight/pressure pulling her head down. She just doesn't have enough strength to resist all that. I tried the boppy but that was worse because it was also putting added stress on her feet/ankles. We are currently trying to combat this by holding her on us (belly to belly) but are definitely open to suggestions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

That's obese!

So this is day 7 of my new sched ule. I've been waking up at 5am, pumping and then exercising before showering and eating. Before Olivia, I would have stared in amazement at those people up in the pre-dawn hours, working out or just getting things done. Now I get it; I get the desire to accomplish things at the pace that existed before life with kids. I try to be "mommy ready" by 7am even if I still have to eat or shower. Olivia wakes up anytime between 7am and 9am -- but I usually wake her by 8am so that our schedule remains somewhat the same. We are blessed that she sleeps about 10 hours through the night without waking. I guess that is God's gift to us given everything else. Thank heavens for small miracles, right?

I completed my first week in the couch to 5K program. I'm so happy to be running again. The program is designed to ease the body into running for 30 minutes or 5 kilometers straight. I missed running a great deal during the pregnancy... and I may have gained a little bit of extra baby weight with the sharp decrease in workouts. My goal is to run a half-marathon again. I plan on being able to run the 5 mile Narberth Run (late April) and the 10 mile Broad Street Run (early Mary) in 2010, but I'd also like to do another half. My lofty goal is to be 13.1 miles ready by the Philadelphia Marathon [and Half-Marathon] (November) but my second and more realistic goal is to get to the Disney Princess Half-Marathon in March 2010. I think I've convinced my husband that going to Florida during Spring Training so that I can run 13.1 miles and get a tiara is feasible with an 11 month old. Cross your fingers.

Anyway, most days I also do the Wii fit -- either with more aerobics work or some sort of core/balance programs. The makers created a pretty neat "game" that charts your weight, BMI and general progress all while working on strengthening your core to give you better balance and posture. It's fun, but as a "player" you need to take it in stride. Obviously I'm not at my best weight right now. Once upon a pre-pregnant time, I weighed 137 pounds... now, not so much. And it's quite lovely stepping on the Wii balance board for my daily body test (to note my current weight, BMI and "Wii fit age") and hearing: Too busy to find time to work out yesterday? I kind of wish it was cyborg in nature and could hear my comment back. Ever hear of a day off, jackass? Or the day that -- gasp -- my weight fluctuated up 1.5 pounds. After flashing the reminder that weight fluctuates about 2 pounds in a 24 hour period in one screen, the damn thing had the audacity to ask me what I felt was the reason for my awful weight gain. Then it reminded me that I needed to work hardER to reach my designated goal. But my favorite part of the body test is the point when it shows you what your BMI (body mass index) is and how it's classified in body types. For example, a healthy BMI is 20 - 25 (ish). Other categories include overweight and obese. Considering that I gained more the recommended 20 - 25 pounds during the pregnancy, it isn't surprising that my BMI falls into the obese category. When the Wii reveals this information to me, a tiny voice in the background yells That's obese! Fantastic. Thank you. I now have the self-esteem of a 12 year old in co-ed gym class. Great.

But it takes 10 months to gain the weight so I can't expect overnight miracles. Not for weight anyway. Off to chisel away at that label!

Monday, June 15, 2009

One Night in DuPont

The pediatric radiologist and staff at Bryn Mawr Hospital were rooting for her. We went each week for Olivia to have an ultrasound of her hips. Each week they would ask what the specialist said, and I would repeat his words -- always optimistic: She shouldn't need surgery as long as the bones keep moving toward the socket.

But the story starts earlier than this. Only 1 day old, Olivia was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia. The pediatrician on-duty that morning in the hospital recognized that at least one hip was out of its socket, and that the other was probable but needed to be confirmed with an ultrasound. She stressed the importance of seeing a specialist quickly so that treatment could be started. And that's why on April 15th, my 29th birthday and Olivia's 5th day of life, our family drove to the Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children to see Dr. Bowen. He walked in with confidence and an aura of reassurance. When he spoke, his soft southern drawl made him seem grandfatherly. After reviewing the ultrasound from the day before, he confirmed what the first pediatrician saw -- both of Olivia's hips were completely out of the socket.

That visit was informational and hopeful. The dislocations had been caught very early, and the treatment is often successful at that age. We were at the hospital for over 2 hours -- getting Olivia fitted for her Pavlick harness. This would hold her legs in such a way that the femur would be slowly eased into the socket. Dr. Bowen, as with every doctor before him, emphasized that this is a completely treatable condition and Olivia would grow and develop normally [as long as we started with the harness].

She wore the harness 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As Dr. Bowen said, "Taking it off would be like dislocating her hips all over again." We had weekly ultrasounds to note progress and follow-up visits with Dr. Bowen. Progress meant surgery would not be necessary. That is how we came to be known in the Radiology Dept. at Bryn Mawr Hospital. They were rooting for her.

But on Thursday, June 4th, our visit to DuPont was different. I knew it would be. Her ultrasounds were not showing progress. Before we left the house, I braced myself for the inevitable. And it came -- Dr. Bowen walked in the room and explained that the harness wasn't working, as sometimes happens. We needed to move forward. Olivia would need surgery - a tendotomy. And just like that, we were scheduled for surgery on Monday morning. We had only the weekend to prepare. After 7 weeks and 1 day in the harness, it came off. There was no need to wear it over the weekend as it was not effective in combating the condition. We had a harness-free Livie for 4 days. I have never been so excited to bathe a child. Frank appeared much stronger than I did.

At 5:50am on Monday, June 8th, we left our house. Olivia slept through the entire ride, check-in, wait, and pre-op procedures. And with the entire choir and music ministry at Our Mother of Good Council Church in Bryn Mawr praying for her, the doctors performed a tendotomy on Olivia's left hip. This means they made a tiny incision on the tendon in her left hip. This would lengthen it enough to gently ease the femur into the socket so that it could be casted in place. Then, it would grow and develop as it should, making any further treatments unnecessary. The procedure took approximately 1 hour... an hour that went by with the pace of a snail traveling through the mud.

When it was over, the doctor came out to update us on how it went. Everything went well. She was a champ. We could go into the Post Anesthesia Care Unit to see her. I don't know how anyone can do this multiple times. I know there are other families out there with conditions and diseases far worse than hers, and I pray for them. It was heartbreaking seeing her in the PACU. She was in a child-size stretcher/bed, covered in blankets and wires, looking ever so small. And she was wailing. Not just crying but screaming with her mouth wide open and her eyes tightly shut. The anesthesia made her hoarse, and I think that was the worst part. My heart ached to see her like this but I was so happy to know everything went well. I picked her up immediately just to hold her. I didn't care that she wasn't comforted; I just wanted to hug her. The weight of the cast caught me off-guard, but it felt so good to hear her wailing in my ear.

And this is how we came to be in the 3C South wing at DuPont. Amazingly, had Olivia been just a bit older, the surgery would have been done as an outpatient procedure. Her tinyness meant she was to be admitted. This inpatient unit was full of children of varying ages. Our initial roommate was an 8 year old girl. Her mother explained that they had been there since the Friday before and wouldn't be cleared to leave until at least Wednesday. Her daughter was experiencing problems with her pancreas. Her husband was a truckdriver and couldn't be there. She had another, 14 year old daughter had home. They switched rooms because her daughter was afraid she would wake Olivia, and when she left, she hugged me and wished me well, saying she would pray for our daughter. And all I could think in my head was that at least we knew what was wrong with our daughter. At least we were going home the next day.

There was a parent resource room just off the unit -- a pleasant respite from the sterileness of the rooms. Even though we kept the curtain pulled and moved the few chairs we were given to make our space more comfortable for the night, it was still, in the end, a hosptial room. Olivia was still wired to monitors and attached to an IV. But the resource room was softer, warmer without being overwhelming. There was free coffee/tea/hot chocolate as well as computers with internet access, thousands of books, TVs, tables and couches for lounging, and vending machines where everything was 50 cents. Rooms off the main area allowed parents to do laundry and take showers. The Ronald McDonald House provided 3 rooms for families to use at no cost. This allowed Frank to stay overnight; although, he later admitted, he couldn't sleep due to constant concern for Olivia and me. Several times that night we went to the room to get free gourmet coffee and chai tea. I became so excited about the chai tea that Frank bought me a box while grocery shopping the next day. It's amazing how such a place can be so comforting when in this situation. How this area can allow one to really breathe and carry on with life's everyday nuances. And ours is an easier plight than many others who were there. We were there for just one night. Olivia's condition is well on the road to recovery. She will be in the Spica cast for at least 8 weeks, and if all goes well, this will be just a chapter in her book. She will never remember the day and night that caused her parents so much duress. And really, that's just fine by me.
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