Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Joey Jog 2007

Many of you will recall the entry I wrote on an old blog last December:

A dear, sweet little girl - one of Anna's playgroup buddies - died today. She fell ill right after Thanksgiving while she, her parents, and her younger triplet siblings were visiting her grandparents for the holiday. My daughter, along with the other playgroup toddlers, made cards for her room, and the other moms and I wrote notes of support to help buoy her parents.

She was hospitalized from that first night on through today. In order to help her conserve strength and stay still, she was placed into a medically-induced coma while many very talented doctors tried to figure out what was attacking her. They didn't get the chance. This morning, she registered no brain activity, and her parents had to contend with a decision that no parent should ever face. She passed away four hours after being removed from her support system.

I heard those words this afternoon. I heard them with my ears, but I just have nowhere to put them for processing. I hugged the stuffing out of my daughter after I heard this, and I have a lot of tears, but I have no mechanism to begin to comprehend this happening. Whatever your inclination, please keep this wonderful family in your thoughts, prayers, considerations. They will need all the strength they can muster over the coming months.

We miss you, Joey.

Joey died of acute liver failure. There aren't many days go by now that I don't think about how fragile our lives are, even lives that have only just gotten underway.

Joey's friends and family have organized the Joey Jog, which will take place on October 20 in Herndon, VA. The walk is designed to raise awareness and funds for the American Liver Foundation to prevent similar tragedies from befalling other families. I've committed to participate, and I'm writing this to ask for your help. I know there are a thousand worthy causes out there; I am walking this one because my friend lost her little daughter - this is very personal to me. I would be extremely grateful for any support you feel you can send my way for this event, as will Joey's family.

I have a pledge form, but most of you are not local to me. If you are able to support me in this walk, please drop me an email with your plans, and I'll add you to my list. Instructions on contributing by credit card (via PayPal) or check are available on the Joey Jog website.

Thank you so much in advance for helping this cause. We will shortly return you to your regularly scheduled blog.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dear Tessa: Month 6

Dear Tessa,

A little over a week ago, you turned six months old. Already, I can barely remember your tiny newborn self. Your slightly less tiny self is now eating some solid foods, sleeping on her tummy, and laughing when she's tickled, among other things.

I spent my first overnight away from you this month. I missed you immensely and had this irrational worry that you'd forget who I was over the course of three days and reject me completely upon my return. I needn't have worried. As soon as I set foot inside our home again and you laid eyes on me, you lit up, grinned, and reached for me. That might well have been one of the best moments of my life to date. You're happy to see me at the end of a workday, but this was that to the power of ten. It almost made me want to go away again so that you'd react like that when I came back. Almost.

We can tickle you now and get a real laugh in response. Your ribs are very ticklish. My hair brushing your face gets you going. A nuzzle with big wet kisses on your neck is hilarity. I had already forgotten what a baby's laugh sounds like, and I'd like this particular sound etched into my memory forever, please.

You're eating solid foods now! You began your endeavors in this area with the traditional rice cereal and quickly branched out to sweet potatoes and peas. You also like to eat the books we read you, and you remain unconvinced of their lack of nutritional value. Fortunately, you seem more enamored of the stories and pictures themselves, so your book collection survives another day.

With your fairly newfound rolling skills, you've given up sleeping on your back. Being put down on your back makes you mad, and you fuss and then roll right over to your tummy. You pull your knees up under you, turn your head to the side, and you're out. I watched you obsessively at first, despite my recollections that your sister did this with no ill effects. After a few days of this dance, we gave up and started putting you down on your tummy. This seems to be saving us all a lot of time and stress.

You had your first big illness this month, too. It coincided precisely with our trip to Connecticut for your great-grandfather's 90th birthday celebration. Your doctor gave us a regimen to follow over the weekend to keep you comfortable, but, until your fever broke, you were either asleep or fairly miserable with your sniffles and temperature. I missed your super-smiley self and felt so terrible for your discomfort.

I left our hotel room with you at midnight that Saturday, leaving Eric and Anna asleep there, driving you around while you cried, wondering if we should go to the emergency room. I pulled into the hospital parking lot and looked at the Saturday night bar crowd there. I looked back at you. You'd finally fallen asleep, and I turned around and brought you back to the hotel. I let you sleep in your car seat rather than wake you up to sleep in your crib. When you woke up next, your fever was gone, and you slept most of the way back home the next day.

Our mornings at day care involve you playing, usually in the big suspended swing, while I put away your day's supplies before feeding you. Usually, you're quite content to play with the toys that hang down over the center of the swing, but one day last month you wanted nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. You craned your neck and contorted yourself all around so you could see me as I moved around the room, putting away your milk, writing your last feeding and diaper change on the whiteboard, putting your daily sheet on the clipboard in your cubby. You smiled and fussed, stretched for me, and never once took your eyes off of me. I think it's important that you know about these times when I really was the center of your world - they are going to be fast outnumbered by the times that you are the center of mine, but they are my constant reminder that what I do for you does matter a great deal in your grand scheme of things. I really believe that these earliest days are giving you a sense of trust in us and a self-confidence to carry you forward for years to come. I promise you now, absolutely, that trust will never be unfounded.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

And the Academy Award goes to...

Anna's preschool does an "Academy Awards" event for their 2-5s every summer, and I had the privilege of attending Anna's first such event last week.

The entry hallway had a red (construction paper) carpet, which is probably the closest I'll ever get to the real thing. Camera in hand, I fell in with the other parents and took a seat on a too-tiny chair in the big front room designated for the festivities. The older kids were already there, and their teachers were trying in vain to keep them settled and contained. The youngest group paraded in, wearing little bumblebee hats and paper bee wings. Then Anna's class trooped in, wearing paper aprons and chef hats with an artful "3B" glittered onto their aprons to designate their classroom. This set sort of sat together, but any with parents in attendance dove for familiar laps. Anna was delighted to see me and expressed an immediate desire to remove her hat and apron.

A 4-year-old in a superhero costume emceed with jokes. The youngest class sang "Baby Bumblebee." Anna's class sang "On Top of Spaghetti." Well, one or two children sang. The others, despite knowing the routine cold, stared at their audience, no doubt trying to overcome their bouts of stage fright by picturing us all naked. (Of course, anyone with a child of 2 or 3 will tell you that this is no challenge whatsoever, since they rarely allow such dignities as solo bathroom visits.) The older classes did a hip-hop dance (and they were pretty darned good) and the Pledge of Allegiance (drilled in before kindergarten! who knew?). Anna's head teacher handed out awards to each class for their outstanding performances, and the show ended, coming in with a much shorter runtime than the Other Academy Awards.

This event is undoubtedly just the first of many such that I'll attend for Anna and Tessa. School plays, concerts, games, recitals - whatever they choose to do, I'll be there. I felt very conscious of this as I sat there with my camera and an adamantly non-singing Anna on my lap. For all the things I've done over the past nearly three years and for all the times I've felt like a great mom or just an okay mom, this was one of the first times I stepped outside myself, looked in, and thought, "Look - a parent."

Thursday, August 9, 2007

You know you have a preschooler when...

I was installing my Novell client on a new computer. I thought I had the settings right, but I didn't. I kept at it. I got it, and it worked perfectly. The song in my head at this success?

We did it! We did it!
We did it! Hooray!
Lo hicimos!
We did it! We did it!

Thanks, Dora...