Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Latest Check Up

McKay was an absolute show off at his four month check up yesterday. The boy wonder continues to amaze the docs with his resilient nature and phenomenal growth. Despite spending this last month recovering--a process that zaps a substantial amount of energy and calories while depressing appetite--little buddy packed on another 13 ounces! That brings the grand total to 14 pounds, 14 ounces. Add that to a 26.25 inch body length and McKay is solidly at the bigger end of even the healthy kids in his age group. Can I get a hallelujah?

And for all the outside world can see he is healthy. Aside from an at least once daily case of rampant hiccups, he's had no colds, flus or otherwise. Not even a sniffle. That simple report translates into a major payday for all the hassle of the sanitizer-bathed lockdown we've put him (and the rest of us) under.

Even better than all the medically-measured progress, Mac's little personality is really beginning to shine through. He flirted with the cute nurse yesterday grinning and then faking a shy look whenever she smiled back. He's a bucket of giggles when things are going his way and a bit of a grump when he's protesting. It was a riot to watch him wonder at the chaos of Christmas and fall in love with his new stash of toys and equipment. His new Bumbo chair has been a perspective-altering, life changer that has offered our little man (and his momma) a bit of freedom. I would highly recommend it to anyone with a hold-me-now-and-always child.

So there you have it. Quite the crew dontcha' think? Thanks for making this holiday season one we'll always remember. Our dress this season has truly matched our changing mood. We began the season in sanitized hospital attire and ended it at home in matching jammies. And really, a good pair of jammies makes all the difference.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Year

I've never been a very consistent journal writer. I've abandoned at least a dozen leather-bound beauties over the years. In fact, this blog is as close as I've come to having something tangible (is cyberspace tangible?) to look back on as some sort of personal chronicle. And as this time of year does, my chronicle is begging for a "best of" look back at 2008.

As I think back on the way my life, our lives, have changed over the past year, the me of just a year ago seems almost unrecognizable. Here's what I consider my top life-changing days of the past year:

January 19, 2008: Ran my fastest half-marathon time! What a fun race--great friends, gorgeous sunshine, fast feet. That day set a standard for what my body can do and how good I can feel. Note for 2009: Get there again.

April 8, 2008: We learn about McKay's heart. There is nothing that can prepare you for the way a new baby changes your life. And I don't think it matters if it's new baby number one, two, three, or more--they all bring magic of their own. Unsure whether or not this would be Ty's last opportunity to "meet" a sibling via ultrasound, we took him to our 20-week peek at McKay (not yet then named, of course). As the room got far too quiet and the technician spent far too long looking at McKay's heart, the only thing that helped me keep it together in that initial panic was Ty. His sweet face and many, many questions helped to keep his mom aware that now was not the time to lose it. Be calm I kept telling myself. It's all going to work out. Just be calm.

I remember shaking as I tried to dial my girlfriend who was watching Preston and asking her if Matt could run Ty over so we could meet with the doctor to get a clearer scoop on the reality and gravity of the situation. As good friends do, she said of course and told me to breathe. Good advice. I smiled at Ty as he and dad trotted to the car. Of the whole ordeal that morning, I pray he will only remember the words, "It's another brother!" He was so excited.

April 24, 2008: Preston goes in for wrist surgery. As our first experience at having to turn your child over to another person and trust them with their medical well being, it was a bit traumatic! Of course, looking back this seemed to have been the warm up act for our relationship with Primary Children's Hospital and meeting out of pocket expenses. Preston's minor, outpatient cyst removal came before we truly understood the gravity of McKay's situation. I remember walking Preston out to the car and saying to Matt, "Let's never come back here for real, okay?"

May 21, 2008: We found Lu. Our hunger for details about McKay's condition was nearly insatiable at first. We Googled, we referenced, we interviewed any and all medical professionals we knew. We wanted to find, hear, read the words, "Everything will be fine." We never did. But we did find little Luna and her amazing momma.

I felt hope wash over me and spill into our life in steady waves when I found little Luna's blog. Despite the rarity of the combination of McKay's conditions, we discovered he was not alone on the planet. That was HUGE for me. Someone had seen this before. Someone had blazed a trail. Someone was holding a baby that looked as right as rain despite it all.

Luna and her mom have been kind enough to humor our questions, pray, and cheer us through McKay's delivery and all that's followed. Kind enough to tell us that no matter what the doctors said these babies can be nursed, enjoy being cuddled, grow, and lead fairly normal lives. Kind enough to create a vision of health and happiness despite all that we were being prepared for and shown otherwise. Oh how I craved those early emails. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lu & Co. You have become the best we've-never-met-you-but-adore-you friends we will ever know. Note for 2009: Correct the never met you part.

August 20, 2008: McKay makes a memorable debut. I could write so much about the events of this day. But honestly, there are things so sacred about this experience that I must keep them to myself now and always. McKay, just know that I am honored to be your mother and would have given anything to have traded places with you in those early hours, today, and always. I can't take this trial away, but I can help you carry it. I will always help you carry it.

August 25, 2008: Ty starts kindergarten. You were so ready for this day, Ty. I know I cried just this morning as I helped get you dressed, but you're getting so big, so quickly. Slow down just a bit for me, okay? You are a force in this world. A small, powerful little ray of sunshine ready to spread your light a little further everyday. I am amazed by your focus and your progress. I cannot wait to see what you'll do next. Thanks for giving me a front row seat as you reveal pockets full of possibilities.

October 27, 2008: Darling baby Cooper returns to our Heavenly Father. As we watched Matt's cousin Cassie and her sweet husband say goodbye to their little fighter we felt the mortality of our situation return. These little guys are so strong, but so much can go so terribly wrong. Cassie and Tyson seem to be finding their way through it all. We just spoke again last week after a silence that lasted far too long. We talked about how the world looks different now. How this experience changes you. How there is never the right thing to say, but how you need people to just say something. I love you Cassie.

November 24, 2008: Preparing for the Glenn. This may have been the longest night of my life. I have never felt such heaviness. I watched you sleep this night McKay and prayed God would let me bring you home again. I wanted to prepare you, to warn you, to say I'm sorry--I'm so very, very sorry. But you would have none of it. Even in the near darkness of your room I could see and feel you smiling at me. You and your brave little soul breezed through surgery the next day and we were home within the week. And you were just so matter of fact about it. God is merciful and you are a miracle.

December 16, 2008: Celebrated ten years with my split apart. My feelings on this subject have been chronicled fairly recently, so no need to rehash how unbelievably blessed I am to have the most patient, most loving, most amazing father, husband, and friend as my eternal partner. No need to tell him how much his love means to me and our boys. No, definitely no need for that. :)

December 25, 2008: A day of gratitude. For all the triumph and trauma of the past 12 months, we were together, awesome in love and number, and we were happy. I have a house full of noise, crowded with toys, and overflowing with blessings. McKay has found his voice this month and chimes in with a laugh-inducing stream of babble that melts hearts. Another talker! What will I do? Oh well. Silence is overrated. Note for 2009: Let the wild rumpus continue.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Chrithmuth

We are down one front tooth at our house tonight and up one happy five year old. Boy, my kids can be a lot of work. But most days, and especially on days like today, they are so worth it. If you could see your heart smile, this is what it would look like. Wishing you a season of flossy dental bliss.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paprika, But Not For Long

A couple of weeks ago I read another mom’s blog entry about how she was ready to get her spice back. The entire time I was reading I was thinking, “Yeah, me too. I’m ready to be spicy again.”

For some reason that metaphor has not left me and tonight I find myself at the solid realization that if I were to classify myself as a spice today I’d be Paprika. Why Paprika? Because Paprika looks fancy. It brings everything together. It is even bright red like it may have some kick to it. But we all know that Paprika is near useless as a spice, more like a decorative seasoning.

Oh, my mom and I have argued about Paprika. “Put some Paprika on it Mindi; the recipe calls for paprika.” No mom. I’m not adding Paprika. It’s just the principle of the thing. It does nothing.

What spice do I hope to be? I’m not looking to get greedy like say a Chili Powder—I don’t need to walk into a room and take over. But I do want to get enough of a distinctive flavor back that you know when I’m missing…maybe Cumin or Curry. No. Not Curry. In college I lived upstairs from a family that cooked with Curry incessantly and their kitchen vented through my closet. No, not Curry.

This is all a strange and pointless exercise, but the fact is that I actually scolded my hubby tonight for breathing too annoying close to my ear. How dumb is that? Cumin would never do that. Even worse, I am still bugged about it as I type. I need an outlet. I need some spice. I think I’m declaring 2009 the year of the spice—and I’m going to find me some.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I try to tone down most things Santa-related this time of year...except for this. I adore the Santa we take our boys to see. My boys have visited with him every year they've been on the planet and he keeps even me believing in the innocence that is the essence of Christmas. Here's a peek at this year's keepers~

Pure Joy

My First Christmas

Good Enough

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Babe

Dear Matt,

Well here we are. 10 years later. Tomorrow marks a decade of married life together and I just have to let you (and the world) know how much this anniversary means to me.

Truth be told, we've now spent half of our lives together. Who would have guessed 16 years ago those two kids having their spectacular first kiss under the stars in the chilly canyon night would turn into an eternal family. Oddly enough, I think something in us knew. Why else would we have been so patient, so steady, so non-high-school-like with each other through those early years? Remember how we used to say, "This feels like forever"? It still does.

Knowing you are the love of my life is an impression that grows stronger every day. I truly want to be with you ALL the time. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I can't think of anything I do that isn't better when you're there. You are a gift to me.

Have I told you that I think you are the best dad in the world? Our boys adore you. This past year I have seen you love them, fight for them, protect them like the hero they think you are. You love them, you teach them, respect who they are, and include them in so much of what you do. They know they are important to you. You don't just tell them that. You show them. And it's that example that will make them into fathers just like the one you are. There is nothing that would make me more proud. They hold you on a pedestal and you earn it--day in, day out.

We have grown what feels like a lot older and a lot wiser this year when it comes to understanding things that really matter. Your support, your love, your knowing looks, and calm hugs have saved me. You have taken what was good about us and helped make it great. I would not have survived this roller coaster without you. You are not my rock; you are my mountain.

I want you to know I am happy. Really deep down in my soul happy. You are a HUGE part of creating that happiness and constantly reminding me where to find it. Thank you for sharing your life with me, for being a true partner in every sense, for respecting me--flaws and all, and for helping me see so much goodness all around us.

I love you in more ways than I can express and look forward to so many more years of us getting to know each other. I chose you. And I choose you every day. I feel so blessed that God chose us.

Forever yours,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happiness is...

McKay may have finally turned the corner today. Hooray! Instead of whimpering his way through the day, giving a few good hours of full-bodied crying, his expressions today said "pick me up," "hold me this way, not that"; the type of protests more in line with his peer group. Ahhh. My baby is on his way back.

Of course I cannot speak for his darling Aunt and Uncle who had to endure his most vocal protests of the day for the short while we ran out to Matt's firm Christmas party tonight. Of course. Is two hours really enough time to even notice we're gone? Apparently so. Our fail safe? Put him in the tub until we get home. It's true. McKay has spent a disproportionate amount of his life afloat. There must be some school of thought out there that argues exposure to water as a method for lifelong happiness, right? Thanks for the bath Aunt Hil.

We also came home to some special Christmas surprises. A gorgeous fruit basket (Thanks Robyne and Spencer!) and an anonymous "Christmas Jar" mysteriously left on our front porch. We were so taken back by the gift of the jar, I'm not sure I'm fully ready to share what it is and the amazing spirit it brought into our home. Let me just say that we discussed the meaning of the word "sacred" tonight with our children and agreed as a family to pray about how we should use the jar. Amazing. Just amazing. To whomever left the gift, your note would have been enough. I was moved on many levels. Thank you for trusting us with this new and exceptional tradition. We will honor it.

As for the promised details of our check up yesterday, there is much to celebrate. First let's hear a "whoop, whoop" for 87. That's McKay's new O2 level when he's on his own. We couldn't even get him him into the 70s on a full liter of oxygen two weeks ago. Now that's getting what you paid for! Well done miracle workers.

McKay's chest xray was clear except for the twist-tie looking fasteners that hold his healing sternum in place. I had to smile thinking these were the kind of xrays little boys would love to take to show and tell. I will look forward to that day for McKay. Mostly, the xrays check for fluid build up in the lungs and chest cavity. No fluids holding Mr. McKay's heart back, thank you very much.

Next, the EKG. We had to laugh at our ham. Here was a baby that had cried pretty consistently for days prior to his appointment. But you would have never known it for all the smiles and shy looks he gave his nurse as she placed twelve sticker-backed patches on his chest, hooked up probes, and then removed the stickers. He smiled through the entire thing. Really?

In any event, the consensus is that McKay will stay on a few drugs for the months to come to assure he does not retain fluid around his heart or in his lungs. But that's it. No more oxygen. No more tubes. And we don't have to go back to the hospital until February. February!

I called Matt at work today just to tell him the joy I felt picking McKay up out of his crib and walking out of his room, down the stairs, wherever we wanted without having to lug, trip, and bumble over those awful tanks and tubes. We felt free. And it made me smile.

I got a call earlier this week from a friend of a friend whose baby was just diagnosed in utero with different, but similar congenital heart defects. It felt good to talk to her, to say out loud what a blessing this experience has been--and mean it. To tell her to hold on to her positive attitude and expect the best. To understand the fear she's feeling and try to do what I can to bring some peace into her heart. To tell her to come meet McKay when she's ready and see what 14 pounds of hope looks like. I think she will.

We will never be the same and I don't think we ever want to be. It's on days when we call each other just to say we're happy. Or scared. Or distracted. It's on those days where something special and permanent hangs in the air between us. We all feel more connected somehow. To each other. To our neighbors, friends, and family. To strangers who have shared similar experiences who we now call friends. Really, this experience has brought so much and taken away so little. It's funny--we spend our entire lives planning the details of our future when really it's the experiences we could have never expected, and most definitely would never hope for, that truly end up making us what we are. And tonight, we are happy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Double Take

We've been doing double takes of McKay all day and must agree....we like the tube-free look! His post-op check up went amazingly well. He has maintained weight at 14 pounds 1 ounce, turned in a perfect chest x-ray, and passed his EKG. All unimaginably difficult tests for our chunky monkey, but he seems to make everything look easy. The reward? No more tubes!!!! I'd say more...but there are cheeks to be kissed...more details on our fab day to come. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Waiting on the Magic

I'll admit it, the snow helped. But I have definitely been in a Christmas funk the past week. I think it started while I was trying to put away some of the boys' toys. As I tried to shove the Lego box back into its place on the toy shelf, I felt sick thinking my boys could not possibly have need for one more overpriced, plastic, thinga-ma-jig destined to be dropped, stepped on, or otherwise destroyed followed by a fit of tears as to how that was their favorite toy ever. And yet I have another obnoxious stash of bright, shiny plastic thinga-ma-jigs all ready for Christmas morning. Where in the world will we put them?

Friday night a strand of lights on the tree went out causing all the subsequent strands to fail--not good. Sunday Matt managed to find the strand, remove it and get what was left of the lights working again--good. When I asked if he would replace the strand, he claimed no one would notice the dark spot on the tree--whatever.

McKay has cried for three days. It is really beginning to get to me. The boys have learned just to ignore it and shout over him. Matt read bedtime stories to the boys last night over McKay's screaming and said no one seemed to notice. Poor dears -- the older boys for having to live like this and poor McKay for feeling this way. The only thing that seems to soothe him is a shallow bath. But you can only let your baby float for so long! He gets too cold too quickly any way since he can't have any water on his belly yet. So out of the bath he comes and resumes crying until he's either held in the perfect position or falls asleep. I'm told his headaches should end soon--I sure hope so. At times he absolutely claws at his eyes as if he's trying to attack whatever is causing him such pain. Maybe they'll have some suggestions at his check up tomorrow.

But today as the winter sunshine streams through the window and warms my back, I can feel my heavy heart warming to the season, too.

The boys have so many toys because they are adored by family that spoil them rotten as every child should be. And I am SO thankful for family. I will teach them to part with some of their treasures and bless others with their abundance.

The Christmas lights go out because we are fortunate to have a gorgeous tree dripping in ornaments fashioned in preschool classrooms or carried home as souvenirs from an envious array of vacations. I am blessed with a decorated life.

My baby cries because he is alive. There was a time not so long ago when my heart ached to hear him cry. I swore in the moment of his first struggling cry almost five full days after he was born, I would never take hearing his voice for granted. And although we are blessed with audible evidence of his presence in abundance now, I am grateful his fired up little body is firing on more cylinders than before. Be comforted little one.

So the magic may come in spurts instead of a steady flow this year, but it will come. How could it not? Our life has been nothing but a steady series of miracles, our home is full of children dazzled by all things Christmas, and we feel the steady love of the Savior for which the season is celebrated. Chances are most of you will not get a Christmas card from me this year. For that I am sad. But I cannot apologize for all the other priorities that have taken their place securely in front of that Christmas tradition this year. Maybe next year we'll get back to the busy things that usually make up this season for me, but for now we're focusing on quality over quantity; perspective over pressure. A different Christmas, indeed.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Some Thoughts

My mind has been flooded and rather overwhelmed with thoughts on charity this week. This is probably not a shock to the many of you who have shown tremendous charity to our family over the past few months. Truth is we’ve been on the receiving end of some of the most sincere and simple acts of charity I know. And I won't sleep tonight until I put pen to paper on some of my random revelations. (This would be the more-for-me-than-you part of this online journal :). )

Take the box pictured at the top of this post. It is chock full of activities for me to do with my kids while we’re on lockdown with McKay. A dear friend dropped by out of the blue a couple nights ago at the crescendo of a long day. Play dough, music, coloring books, fruit loop necklaces, you name it; it’s in there. My kids practically hyperventilate until it’s time to open the “Present of the Day.” It gives us something to look forward to, something to get excited about, something to talk about other than why I can’t take them to the zoo, the aquarium, the store. Instead, they want to stay home and exhaust the surprise activity at hand. And of course it is all that much more exciting because it is not from mom. As my friend explained the box over McKay's screaming, I cried. She cried. She came in and held my (in that moment) sad little babe for five minutes so I could show some love to his older brothers and help them get PJs on. Then she left as gently as she came. An absolute angel. Can you imagine how unbelievably grateful I am for her?

And the kindness continues. I was introduced to the concept of the "porch visit" today by another friend. A highly charitable activity. The best I can explain it is this--It’s kind of like when the prisoner comes to the special desk partitioned with Plexiglas and picks up the phone to visit with whomever is on the other side. Only porch visits are better because you can give that I-understand-what-your-going-through-and-it’s-all going-to-be-okay hug at the end of your chat. And you don’t have to wear the orange jumpsuit. Huge bonus.

Add that kind of love to the phone calls, meals, babysitting, and presently non-reciprocal car pool, and the prayers; the many, many prayers--it all adds up to overwhelm a girl who usually feels very uncomfortable receiving such kindnesses. I think most of us do. No one likes to be the “charity case.” We’d all prefer to give the help, make the meal, be the genius who comes up with the box of activities for the kids (seriously!). But the epiphany that has come to me today is that not only do I need to be more aware and proactive about meeting the needs of others around me; but why would I ever discourage any form of charity (read: pure love) in my life?

The simple clarity that is mine to share is this—If Christ himself showed up at my door and asked me if I would like Him to perform miracles for my family, would I ever turn Him away? NEVER. I would fall at His feet, welcome Him in, and beg Him to stay. What I understand very clearly today is that He doesn’t have to come. Instead he has sent an army of angels to surround our family and share His love. So many of you are those angels. Please understand I know whose errand you’re on and I do not take it lightly. I will spend the rest of my life paying your kindnesses forward; so aware that I don’t need the okay from someone to serve them. I just need to serve Him. And He will let me know what needs to be done.

I cannot adequately express the way my testimony of so many things has grown this year. But in this season where we all soften our hearts a bit and turn our thoughts to a small baby that changed everything, I cannot help feel a bit of a parallel in my life. I am humbled. I am grateful. I am in awe. There is so, so much to be thankful for.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Back to Life

Last day at the hospital; relaxing and watching Baby Einstein.

On my way home with my "I might be little, but I'm tough"
t-shirt. And boy is he.

Sorry we've been slow to post, but I am now trying to do what a team of people were doing for little Mac last week. Factor in the sometimes-helpful-and-always-entertaining help of his two big brothers, and we're a recipe for what would be a highly-entertaining reality show. Not sure what we'd call it, but real life doesn't get more real than us these days.

Mr. McKay came home with a small cocktail of drugs to keep him on the mend over the next 10 days. We are still experimenting to find the right balance of pain meds for our little guy. We're not fans of the loopy, glassy-eyed look and his new this-really-hurts cry is too much for a momma to bear. I think we're getting close though--he seemed pretty comfortable most of the day today and spent most of his awake time as his smiley self. He will stay on oxygen until his final post-op checkup on the 10th. Apparently at our altitude, the small flow of O2 he's on gives the heart and pulmonary artery enough of a rest to make a difference in how well they heal. We can definitely do 10 more days if it means stronger working parts.

The poor little man looks like a battlefield. I just can't think about what he's been through for too long or I lose it. It's one thing to see his incision. That scar we expected. But his entire chest, both wrists and ankles, and his neck are absolutely pock marked with small scabs from IVs, tubes, and sutures. I'm sure the smaller marks will go away, but they are there now and for some reason it's those tiny marks that are the hardest for me to take.

But at least we are home. Every little trivial thing today felt wonderful--the dishes, the laundry, hauling out all the Christmas mess. The kids are so excited and their million questions about Santa, his elves, the sleigh, and Ty's constant quizzing of Preston as to the true meaning of Christmas have flooded the house with the magic of this glorious season. As we put up the tree tonight and took the goofiest pictures of the three of them together I knew I already had everything I need this year right there under that tree. Awesome.

Of course, if I were to get something it would be a vacuum. Not just any vacuum; a Dyson DC14 Animal. Oh how I've had my eye on that pleasantly purple dream of a machine. Well guess what was waiting for McKay and me when we piled into car to come home on Saturday? Dyson! I mean McKay's Dyson. My whole play for the sucking wonder over the last few weeks has been centered on how important it could be for McKay's health to have the world's most amazing vacuum in our home. Apparently that worked for Matt. Love him. Love welcome home presents. Love my Dyson!

All in all, McKay continues to amaze. He is truly stronger than I am in so many ways. And if we continue to be slow to post it's because I am typing with one hand and holding him with the other. I may never let go again. Much love to all.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Christoffersen family tonight who suffered the tragic loss of their amazing father today. He was a hero to our son as his Sunday school teacher last year~and his example as a sweetheart and father will be always remembered and sorely missed. Thank you for sharing your love with us.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

We're Coming Home!

Mr. McKay was just cleared to begin his good byes to all his fabulous nurses and doctors. He will sleep in his own bed tonight across the hall from his brothers and absolutely enveloped by all the love we can give him. Thank you so much for all your well wishes and prayers. I truly credit McKay's amazing progress to the amazing juju so many of you have sent our way and, of course, to some pretty significant blessings from above. A lifetime of gratitude is in order and we are so glad to give it. See you at home!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Bit of Drama

Last night McKay assured our hospital stay would not be as relatively uneventful as we had hoped. His heart rate continued to drop during the night, concerning the nurses, docs, and, most of all, me. After several texts and calls between the nurses and the cardiothoracic NP, she decided to come in and assess McKay herself. She felt his rhythm was a bit off and after some discussion decided to hook up the precautionary pacemaker wires McKay has in place to the pacemaker for the night. I hated watching his tiny chest be made to pump. I was devastated. In my exhausted mind I worried all night if one trip on the pacemaker translated to the permanent need for one.

Fortunately, it does not. They took him off the pacemaker this morning and sent us for another echo to make sure all went well with the surgery. McKay has developed such a reputation as the best baby in the hospital that they even sent him down for the echo unsedated--very rare. McKay did not disappoint, sleeping through the entire thing. My angel. The echo showed McKay's heart is communicating and conducting impulses as it should, so no more pacemaker talk. Whew.

After the echo McKay was hooked up to a holter machine for a 24-hour EKG study of his heart rhythms. I didn't think there was room for anything else on his crowded chest, but they found the space and filled it with wires McKay will wear until 2pm tomorrow. This study is just for McKay's ever-growing archive of medical records. It will give the docs a solid baseline of tiny Mac's electrical activity to help determine any future problems or needs. They tell me unless his low heartrate when sleeping is accompanied by other symptoms--fainting, change in color, etc.--not to worry about it. worries. And I thought I would be able to sleep after this one!

Aside from all the doctor drama the most important thing McKay did today was to get a much needed sponge bath. I must say the child was getting a bit ripe! He was happy as a clam to get sudsed up and smelling sweet again.

We're looking forward to a far more boring night. If things stay on track, we may be discharged as early as tomorrow. Is that unbelievable or what? Just five days door to door for open heart surgery. Just five days from scary blue to crazy pink. Just five days to pack in so many miracles. We are blessed.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What a Difference Each Day Makes...

Today was my first Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for.

I am thankful that Tuesday is over. It was not fun.

Wednesday was a little better...

I was breathing on my own again...

and I got to eat!

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, was even better.

I moved to my own room, snuggled with mom...

and visited with my brothers.

They are my favorite!

One to Remember

McKay's first Thanksgiving is one that will change our perspective on what it means to be thankful for years to come.

We were happy to walk in to a wide-eyed McKay early this morning. He seemed so much more alert; he has teased us with half smiles all day long, but hasn't given up a full blown grin just yet (and who can blame him).

The darling NP from cardio thoracic surgery stopped by to check his incision and agreed the dressing needed to be changed again. When she and her team started clean up little Mac's battle wounds they discovered another stitch may be needed to stop the mess making. That has seemed to do the trick today as we've been able to keep his chest clean thus far and assure him less of a Halloween vibe.

Following the clean up, two of McKay's chest tubes were removed and the line that went directly into his heart was also taken out. It was something to watch them pull all of that out of my sweet little guy. He is such tough stuff--as they cut the sutures and then slowly pulled out the tubes and line his beautiful little eyes would well up with tears, but then he stoically sucked it up and did not cry through the entire thing. Amazing. I wanted to moan and wail for him.

Best of all, we've been moved out of the ICU to the surgical unit. HOORAY! We've never been to this floor of the hospital before as we were discharged straight from the ICU last time. McKay is now resting in a cheerfully decorated room of his own; complete with a recliner and couch for mom and dad--BIG HOORAY!

We plan to head home for a minute to pick up the big brothers and bring them up for a quick look at their baby. Every time I call home Preston's first question is "How is McKay doing?" I think bringing them up here now will assure them he is in a good place, getting ready to come home.

Yes home. Are you ready for this? The doctors told us this morning that McKay is doing so well it is likely we will be discharged sometime this weekend. I cannot believe it. We had been told to plan on two weeks--McKay looks on pace to do it in as little as 5 or 6 days. Unbelievable.

If I didn't know it before, I know it now. McKay is an exceptional spirit. He has the power to unite people, put priorities in order, teach about true love, and what it means to fight for what matters most. I also know for sure that my little exceptional spirit will be exceptionally spoiled for the rest of his life. How could I possibly deny him anything after seeing him go through this?

In the PICU we roomed next to a two year old recovering from a different heart/lung operation. We listened to him sob, crying out for mom, then dad, then both. At one point he began to get out of bed. It gave us a glimpse of things to come. I pray the Lord will help me prepare McKay for these necessary experiences in his life. I hope He can take the fear away and replace it with a quiet trust and understanding. This will be my next prayer.

For this Thanksgiving I am full of gratitude for all the blessings that are mine. For the sweet men in my life. All four of them. Man, they are a lot of work; but oh how I love them. I am thankful for modern medicine and understanding big brothers. For living close to so much family and the many ways they rescue me. For old friends and new ones, near and far. For those who understand what we're going through and for those who, thankfully, will never have to. I am blessed to be a mother who can look over to a sweet child finally at peace after a hectic morning of experiences no one his size should ever know and be assured, 100 percent, that we are meant to be together. For this I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Progress

McKay continues to do well. They extubated him early this morning and he has been on a bit of oxygen since then to help him maintain his oxygen saturation which, by the way, I am glad to report is now in the upper 70s/low 80s. We haven't seen those kind of numbers since he was last in the hospital. Let's hope they hold.

McKay is still slowly coming to himself again. I thought my heart would break this morning when we walked up to his bedside and his wide eyes pleaded with me to scoop him up. Of course, I cannot hold him yet because of all the lines and tubes coming and going through his busy body. The best I could do was caress his cheeks and that seemed to be enough for now. He is steadily losing lines he does not need anymore and once they remove his chest tubes and the line threaded into his heart, he will be safe to hold. I doubt I'll let go for a long while.

He has been allowed to eat and is wowing the docs with his guzzling prowess. They tell me he should be able to eat for longer periods of time now that he is better oxygenated. That may mean he'll eat for long enough to get full and we can get off the every two to three hour eating schedule. That's good news for mom.

So today is all about slowly and surely. He is doing amazing well and we expect he will continue to impress. He is such a tough, stoic little man. I am constantly amazed by his ability to pull through the worst of scenarios in the best of conditions. Thanks again for all your well wishes. You give us such strength.
(Please forgive the cell phone pictures. We brought the camera, but forgot the cord. We'll post better pics soon :))

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

With Flying Colors

The surgeon had spoonfuls of good news about McKay's surgery. He came off bypass like a champ. His pressures looked great. The anatomy was what they expected from the MRI and echo--with one puzzling exception. The PDA or developmental hole in McKay's heart; the one that all babies have in utero but closes very quickly after birth; the one they worked so quickly and hard to keep open with special drugs when he was born in order to maintain some sort of blood flow to the lungs; the one they were sure had closed shortly following his first surgery--that PDA was still open.

It is puzzling first because everything says it should be closed and second because if it was open McKay's sats should have been much higher. The fact that they were still so low with the shunt and the PDA open means that it probably bought him some much needed time to grow. I think it's an absolute miracle.

The surgeon also went over some of the finer details about some unexpected tweaks he took the opportunity to make to McKay's heart anatomy. He closed the surprise PDA, he enlarged McKay's ASD (a hole between the upper chambers of the heart--another defect that is actually helping him at this point), and began thinking ahead to some modifications he's going to have to make to McKay's next surgery due to Mac's dextrocardia --Am I making you sorry you asked yet?

All in all it was a good report for our miracle. He is swollen and aching, but well medicated and resting. The nurse let us know this is also called the "grouchy" surgery because the kids go home very ornery as they adjust to new pressures throughout their body. Think huge migraine for a few weeks.

We'll post pictures soon. We couldn't be more proud and relieved. Here's to a slew of far more boring days to cuddle and recover. We appreciate your prayers. He listens. He blesses. He loves. And we feel Him through you. Thank you.

Just Finishing Up

We just received an update that McKay is now off the heart and lung bypass machine and the surgeon is getting ready to close. They will do another echo to make sure everything is functioning as they would expect. We will meet with the doctor in about an hour for a full rundown on the surgery.

Our rockstar is back under his own power again. We can't wait to see him.

And He's Off...

From looking at our happy guy this morning, you'd think he was headed somehwere wonderful. Maybe he knows the hospital is his miracle destination right now. Whatever the case, he seems to welcome every aspect of this experience with, well, an open heart.

They just took McKay back to surgery. It's the leaving part that really gets you. Once the surgeon and anethesiologist explain all that can go wrong, they ask if you're ready to give them your baby. Huh? They are obviously not in the PR business.

McKay has been exceptionally calm and happy the past few days. It's a good thing, too. We spent an exhausting and frustrating six hours at the hospital yesterday waiting...waiting...waiting. During McKay's pre-op physical the Nurse Practioner became very concerned with McKay's sats. He has been really blue lately. Really blue. Saturday he had such a head-to-toe blue spell he almost got himself checked in a few days early. He pinked up (relatively speaking) enough after about 10 minutes to stay home, but it was a definite sign that it is time to start some major repairs. So yesterday when we came for all of his pre-surgery tests, he made them nervous enough that they contemplated keeping him. So glad they didn't. My heart was not ready to turn him over just yet.

I have hestitated posting the past couple of days because, quite honestly, I haven't had a truly cheerful bone in my body. It's funny this time around--although the first surgery stay was hard and we did all we could to will his tiny little body to learn how to function on its own, we didn't know McKay yet. We didn't know that he smiles with his whole body. We didn't know that his eyes radiate love and light. We didn't know that he can talk, and talk, and talk with a face full of expression; answering questions in a language of coos and yells we have yet to figure out. We didn't know his gut-buster giggle that seems an automatic response when you grab his plump little thigh. We didn't know the weight and warmth of his snuggle--and his preference for the practice on a nearly continual basis. We just didn't know McKay. And now we do. That makes this time harder.

A little bit about what they are doing today...

They will enter McKay chest through his sterum this time. Once he's stable they connect the heart/lung machine. This is an amazing machine that will keep McKay alive during the surgery as the heart has to be empty and stopped for the surgeon this time around. The superior vena cava (the main blood vessel returning the dark, unoxygenated blood from the head and the upper body) is then divided and connected to the pulmonary artery. This will create a passive method for McKay's lungs to receive oxygen. Despite all that's planned for McKay, his heart will never pump oxygen to his lungs as ours does; instead the surgeon will redo his plumbing so that blood returning from the body will automatically dump into the lungs to be oxygenated. Mac's doctor also told us that McKay's pulmonary artery is showing some narrowing on the left branch. He plans to correct that by enlarging the artery and using some donor tissue to patch the correction. That was new news this morning.

Once all that is complete, they will restart McKay's amazing heart. This surgery will assure more reliable oxygenation to the upper half of Mac's body. Good plan. We will worry about blue toes in the months, years, and surgery to come.

Thank you for your love, concern, and support. Even as I type Grandpa Phil (all on his own) has just fed, dressed, brushed hair and teeth and sent my fist two loves off to school. How amazing is that? I have offers to wrap Christmas presents, meals, and even enjoyed a delivery of hot pancakes from one of the busiest and best women I know. This is an exceptional experience on so many levels. Thank you for sharing your goodness with us. We will keep you posted with all the good news that is to come today.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Say Cheese

Baby McKay had some serious pictures taken yesterday. So serious in fact they had to keep him knocked out to take them. That meant no eating all morning in preparation for the sedation meds. Fortunately, Grandma Di took the day off and kept McKay distracted from his stomach. Thanks mom!

After a rough start trying to get an IV started (I hate this the is so frustrating to watch someone try again and again to insert a needle into tiny veins all the while hearing him scream himself into the dreaded silent scream...Did I not say he was a hard stick, please call the IV team??? HATE IT.), finally the good stuff was flowing and McKay headed into a peaceful fog.

First was the MRI machine. Such a big machine for such a tiny body! The docs spent about 30 minutes mapping McKay's anatomy and then sent him for another echo. Unlike Tuesday, McKay was completely out this time so the tech could move him and the machine to get some really amazing views of every aspect of his heart. I love watching this. McKay's heart is an amazing thing to behold. To look at it functioning without all it's "supposed to have" parts, I just wonder at the miracle of my baby. These were definitely the best pictures I've ever seen of his heart and how it functions. I couldn't help but thinking, "The body finds a way, the body finds a way, McKay will find a way."

We received our surgery plan and must return to the hospital Monday for a slew of pre-op exams and tests. It's funny when they said the surgery would be Tuesday, they failed to acknowledge that we would spend two of the five days until the surgery date at the hospital preparing for it...good times.

I feel guardedly optimistic about next week. It felt so good yesterday to call the oxygen company and cancel all deliveries until further notice--hopefully forever! There are definite upsides to getting this done sooner than later. As I watched McKay charm the Crocs off all his nurses after waking up yesterday, I couldn't have felt more proud or in love with my little man. Despite it all, he's laughing, he's cooing, and stealing hearts everywhere he goes. Well done sunshine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fast and Fasting

Well the doctors have met and the consensus is that our little sunshine will be spreading his light at Primary's a bit sooner than we thought--think Tuesday. Yes, as in 5 days. I was a bit taken back when the surgeon's scheduling office called to say, "They are preparing to see McKay on Tuesday the 25th." She said it right out loud like it was any other day. I just kept saying, "That's so soon, it's just so soon."

In fact it's so soon that on our way to the MRI and echo tomorrow she asked me to stop by her office at the hospital and pick up the surgery packet that let's us know all the details about McKay's surgery plan --no time to mail it. All the better I guess...that means there's probably not enough time for me to find somewhere to hide him and make this all go away.

On the upside, recovery time is usually around two weeks for the Glenn, which means there is a truly good chance we will all be home for Christmas. How amazing will that be? So much to be thankful for, so, so much.

Today we must prepare for all that tomorrow brings. I am less concerned with the fact my three month old will celebrate that milestone in the hospital under sedation, the subject of machines that will map his tiny body, as I am that I have to stop feeding him a full 5 hours before the procedure. One does not come to look and grow like McKay by fasting...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's Time

It's time. That's what McKay's little body said very clearly to his cardiologist today. It's time to move forward. It's time to begin to fix what's broken. It's time to get uncomfortable again.

The appointment began with a routine check of McKay's sats. 71-68-69-70-68-68-68. His O2 level bounced around a bit, but stayed solidly in the unacceptable zone. They normally like to check levels with and without artificial oxygen support, but it was clear there would be no need to see him dip any further. He was weighed: 13 pounds 11 ounces. Wow. And measured: 24 1/4 inches. Double-wow. Mac's doc then proceeded to listen very closely to his chest. She listened and listened and listened. Apparently his shunt, which used to sound a very clear "swoosh, swoosh," inside his tiny chest is getting harder to hear. The increased hush motivated an impromptu echo cardiogram today to see if his shunt or pulmonary artery had developed any kinks that would slow flow to the lungs.

They usually sedate infants for echos because it requires a steady ultrasound of their heart which means the tech has to gel and scope the area immediately at the base of their tiny necks. Not fun. Lots of wild crying. McKay started out as you would expect and rejected all attempts at baiting him with a sugared-up binky. But once I picked him up, he fell almost immediately asleep and continued to dream of better days through the entire procedure. They got great pics of his plumbing and were able to rule out kinks as the cause of McKay's lack of oxygen. However it was clear his shunt is narrowing, constricting the small bridge of blood flow to his lungs it was meant to create.

All in all, as the shunt narrows and McKay grows, it becomes increasingly clear a bigger, more permanent fix is in order. McKay's cardiologists and the heart surgeons pow-wowed this afternoon to determine the best way to prepare for McKay's Glenn operation. Once they've made their decisions, the phone calls will begin. So far we've been contacted to schedule an MRI and sedated echo for later this week. We expect a call tomorrow with a definite date for his Glenn which we've been told will be in the next week or two.

And with that, life once again slides back into the surreal. This week will be a concerted effort to crystallize and then finalize Christmas preparations. Put the house into some sort of order. Talk ourselves into the courage it will take to willfully walk McKay into the hospital knowing full well what our visit will mean for him. And I guess that's just it. For McKay this visit means a chance to begin to live. To lose the tubes and gain a little freedom. While he will not be totally well, he will be worlds away from today. And that is something to celebrate. Our miracle continues...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fear Not

Do you ever have those days when you know God loves you? Today is one of those days. Hope is an awesome thing and I can feel it spilling out of me tonight as I listen to the sweet sound of McKay breathing as he sleeps. The Lord knows me, my son, our fears, and struggles. And He is reassuring me today that all I need to do is be still and know that He is.

I came across a video that absolutely shares the spirit of thankfulness, celebration, and hope I need to share:

Thanks so much for all the messages of surrender and support you shared this week. Your comments and advice gave me strength and made me laugh out loud. I am blessed to know you. Love you all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Several Days Have Attacked Me at Once

You know the saying, "I try to take it one day at a time, but lately several days have attacked me at once"? That is exactly how I'm feeling lately. I don't know if it was Halloween or the fact that I still don't quite have my feet under the three kids thing yet, but I cannot recall a time in my life when I have felt so busy but accomplished so little.

My house of cards seems to hinge on the predictiable. Which, unfortuately, accounts for a mere 30 percent of my day. I can predict what time breakfast will be, when the kids will be to a from school, and the fact that they rest of the day is up for grabs. It's seriously maddening.

So give it up all you seasoned, amazing, put-together moms out there. What's the secret? Does this get easier? Do you just learn what to let go of? (Because lately I've chosen to let go of the ironing and Matt is not loving that.) Right now I feel like I want to hold on to everything "normal" so tightly that I'm being stretched in crazy ways. I want to do everything that we always have and I feel so frustrated and sad when it's just not possible. I think some deep breaths and a real effort at reprioritizing may be in order.

Flu and RSV season is officially on and our little quaratine for Mr. McKay has just begun. I'm already wondering if my kids will care or even notice if we don't go to a movie on Thanksgiving this year? What about the Festival of Trees? Can we go sledding? Ice skating? No, we're not on official lockdown (we can spend short times in small crowds as long as he stays covered in his car seat and away from people), but the sign on our door (thanks to our creative Grandma Sheri) sends a serious message in a kind way saying:

We love our friends and family, but we love our baby more.
Coughs, sneezes, or no flu shot, you'll have to visit at the door.

There is just something about having to feel on guard 24/7 for invisible and silent invaders (germs) that is exhausting to me. I'm trying not to turn my sanitzer-loving self or my kids into clean freaks, but I can definitely feel some mental side effects coming on.

We are very anxious about McKay's cardiology check up next week. Will they say it's time to prep for his surgery? Will they send us home to finish out the year? Will this never ending cycle of oxygen continue into the eternities?? One wonders.

This is McKay's one week supply of oxygen. We leave the empty tanks outside in the morning and a new crop is there by nightfall. Magical!

McKay is a cute little bucket of sunshine, though. He laughs and yells at his brothers to the point where he puts Preston into hysterical laughter. His happy spirit is such a gift. I will do all I can to help him continue to look at life through smiling eyes.

Special thanks to loving Aunties who spoil him rotten and protect him like no other when I have to be away. They keep me sane. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Good Day

Today was a good day. Actually, I've been blessed with several solidly good days lately. I have begun what will be a sporadic start back to work. Basically they have agreed to tolerate me coming and going as I can in the next few weeks and months. Yes, I know I am blessed. Not only that, but today they pulled together a good size crowd filled with some of the people I admire most in the company to acknowledge my 10 year anniversary with the company. I know~10 years!

When I started Matt and I were newly engaged. What a difference a decade makes, huh? A master's degree, three kids, and two houses later, the only real constant in our whirlwind of establishing a life for ourselves has been my company. They have allowed me to develop and grow parts of me that would have been shelved long ago had it not been for their willingness to take a risk in keeping me around part time. I have been given an amazing opportunity to able to divide two of my passions -- my family and my career-- and stay decently content in the process.

Now that's not to say I don't have meltdowns every now and again where I wonder what the heck I'm doing trying to split my time between two loves that clearly deserve 100 percent of me. But I usually emerge from the funny farm with the same understanding each time~ This is a season of my life and there is truly no such thing as achieving a perfect balance.

So back to today and my ten years...This gathering of impressive people whom I adore proceeded to hold what I can only call a type of living funeral. What do I mean? I mean they said things that I could only hope to be 100 percent true about my work, my role in the company, and my character. Quite honestly I will spend the rest of my life trying to prove true many of the things said today. Such a nice problem to have, really.

I share this only to pass on my learning of the day which is this: Praise people. Call out the good in them that they may not have even noticed in themselves. Show appreciation of things large and small to your boss, your coworkers, your spouse and your children alike. Telling people what's best about them is an amazing opportunity to inspire them to live up to their potential. We are all in need of a little appreciation now and again~so let's be the ones to give it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Runaway Train--All Aboard!

The Three Not-So-Silent Ninjas

Our life is picking up speed and I can't seem to find the brake anywhere. I guess if I ever thought I was getting off this crazy train, I'd better think again. This week has been a complete whirlwind of scheduling, activities, and emotions.

As I shared, sweet Cooper passed away this week at just six weeks old due to complications recovering from his heart surgery. Not only was the loss hard to bear, but it delivered a great big dose of reality right to our front door. We'd planned for these boys to grow up comparing scars and making each other feel normal at family Christmas parties. The truth is Cooper's passing has reminded of realities we'd rather forget. We've become so used to our new "normal," and take for granted McKay and his routine of oxygen, aspirin, and the "no cry" rule, that we forget our concerns are not typical of most two month olds. In just a few weeks I've started to feel like this is the way it will always be~ no worries, no complaining, just our reality. But when we learned about Cooper and the events leading up to his passing, I was jarred into remembering that these kids turn on a dime.

Cassie shared some great victories she and Cooper experienced in his last week here. She was able to feed him a bottle, take a really amazing pictures of him smiling, and was finally allowed to dress him (a really big deal in the PICU because it means there are few enough lines to accommodate clothes and that usually means your on your way home). So how do you go from dressing your baby for the first time on Saturday to making life and death decisions for him 24 hours later?? Not fair.

Impressively, Cooper's mom and dad do not seem hung up on the fairness of it all. They had an amazing photo tribute to Cooper and offered such comfort to all who came to visit. And, honestly, I was doing fine until I came to displays of his personal things~ his blanket, his binky, the only outfit he ever wore; common things all things scattered around my house that suddenly seemed to evoke such reverence. Cassie was still just beaming next to Cooper, so proud of him. And he looked so free. No tubes. No lines. No struggle. And although I hope to never see a casket so small ever again, I must say that little Cooper touched so many lives in such a short time, you have to believe he was an angel on a very specific mission. What an honor to be his parents. We so admire you.

And as life does, it went on at our house. Costumes, candy, missed bedtimes and all. My boys are full of joy and noise...I mean life~what a gift! In addition to trunk-or-treats, neighborhood Halloween parties and more, we hosted our annual soup and sugar cookie night at our home and man did the frosting fly! Here are some fun pics of our week.

What is going on and why am I dressed like this?

The Crew! Our kid's fun neighbor friends.

What secret ninja plot could he be hatching in that chubby little noggin of his? The cheeks hold many clues...

Happy Birthday Grandma Sheri!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sweet Baby Cooper

It is with a heavy heart I share the news that Cassie's darling baby Cooper has returned to his Heavenly Father. While the news is still very fresh with me and I do not know all the details yet, I cannot help but feel that Cooper has found some peace. In his short while here on earth he did not know what it meant to feel the sun on his face or take a walk with mom. His life was a struggle from the start; in a body that was not meant to last the decades we think required to make up a lifetime. He was a warrior. Sent to fight his fight, teach life lessons to those left behind, and report back to his Father.

What Cooper did know of this life may be some of the most important things~

He knew his parents loved him. Tyson and Cassie held a near constant vigil over Cooper since he arrived. Last time I saw Cassie I couldn't help but call her "Mama Bear" because of the way she protected and watched out for baby Cooper with each new nurse or doctor. She kept notes on what medications were given to him, when they were given, and what reactions he had. She knew that some of his medications when given with a bolus feed or other actions made him irritable. She knew what combinations of treatments made it more difficult for him to feed. We discussed the anatomy of his heart in more detail than either of us thought ourselves capable of. She went over and over all the scenarios~ she was Cooper's constant guardian. He must have felt so safe with her nearby.

He knew bodies aren't perfect, but souls are. Cooper was sent to this life a perfect spirit in an imperfect shell. For whatever reason, his mission here was made harder and shorter than most, but nonetheless important. As I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago, his serious forehead, wild hair, and knowing eyes combined to give the impression of an old soul; wise far beyond his time here. I am glad to have had the honor of meeting him.

He knew life was fragile. As I sit here worried about Cassie and wondering what can we do to make things easier for her, I know the greatest lesson Cooper's short life has given me is to appreciate the small victories the Lord has blessed us with so far. McKay is home. He is strong. I have seen him smile and heard his cry. He is forever etched into our lives. And no matter how much this experience reminds us that he is sick and has fierce battles ahead of him, we have him here today and we need to fill his today with life; not worries.

Tyson and Cassie~ we hope to talk to you soon, but until then we hope you can feel the strength and hope we're sending your way. Cooper is safe. He is calm. He can finally breath! And one day he will run into your arms again. We love you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Whadda Week!

I realize it's already Thursday, but this week feels like it may never end. It may have to do with the fact that we're reaping what we sowed by booking McKay's transfusion and two month immunizations on back to back days~a rather agitated child. McKay has decided to exact his revenge by waking us hourly at night to remind us that his Michelin Man legs ache from the shots and he may have a bit of a headache due to the changes in his blood and oxygenation levels. Okay, we're sorry! Uncle, mercy, we give up...what ever you want from us, just go to sleep!

We're pretty proud of our tender heart's progress, though. McKay weighs 11 pounds 15 ounces now and is 23 inches long. That puts him in the 80th and 94th percentiles respectively. Not bad for a kid with some pretty major challenges to overcome, eh? His pediatrician said he is "amazingly healthy." Now if we could just get that pesky heart thing resolved...Oh well! We'll take a good bill of health for now.

I am excited to share some more pics from McKay's pseudo-newborn photo shoot with Adilfa at Don Polo photography. (I say pseudo because he was nearly a month old~a couple of weeks older than my other babes' newborn shots...But what are you going to do??) She did an amazing job getting these shots considering he was a bit less than cooperative at times. Check her out if you need family pics, too. She's a gifted photog! (801.967.8106)

The marathon week of Halloween festivities begins tomorrow. Hallelujah for boys who can be swayed into cool-but-not-too-complicated costumes. I have feeling we'll be changing in and out of them several times daily for the next seven or eight days.

Thanks so much again for all your kindness and support. I hope you can feel our gratitude and overwhelming love coming right back at 'cha!