Friday, April 30, 2010

I Got No Strings On Me

Today I learned what it really means to be a Mama. You do everything in your power to keep your child safe and healthy and in return he hates you for it. Finn spent most of the day making it crystal clear that he thinks I am the cause of all of his pain and suffering. He wouldn't smile at me, he would bat my hands away from him and when he wasn't fussing at me he sat and glared at me. You might be thinking, 'stop being so sensitive, he has just undergone some very invasive surgery and doesn't feel well'. In response I offer that he laughed and squealed with delight every time he laid eyes on Michael and Deniece. To make matters worse he even played with the nurses that he had only met a few hours prior. I do find comfort in knowing that while he may absolutely loathe me today he will thank me when it comes time to start dating!

Today was a fairly busy day. Finn woke up at 3:00 and we hung out until 5:00. At around 8:00 the nurses removed all the wires attached to Finn. I was finally able to pick him up and hold him without accidentally pulling wires off of him (not that he actually wanted me to hold him). Next MiMi came to visit and brought a fruit tray. She also brought Finn a lullaby puppy and a Thomas the Train outfit.

After MiMi left the nurses told me that they were moving us up to the eighth floor. At around 1:30 we relocated to room 8416. It is much homier than being in the PICU. Once all of our stuff was situated Michael and I went downstairs to get some lunch. While we were out Gene and Minnie stopped in to see Finn. Next, Mr. Joe came by. By this time Finn was in a great deal of pain and I couldn't get him to go to sleep. Since Finn really isn't interested in nursing I feel like I have lost all of my superpowers not to mention my usefulness altogether. In order to get him to sleep I used a technique that Deniece showed me a few hours prior - when all else fails dance them to sleep. It worked like a charm, my arms were on fire, but Finn actually fell asleep with his head up.

Later on in the evening Mom, MJ, Zac and Cooper came to visit and to take me to supper at the Subway! When we got back up to the room Finn was in better spirits. He laid on his back on the couch next to Mom and chewed on a tube of Boudreaux's Baby Butt Paste for a long time. As expected it was almost impossible to get Finn to go to sleep. I worked on it for at least an hour - I rocked him and hummed movie soundtracks until he finally laid his head down on my shoulder and went to sleep. It was really sweet.

As for Finn's overall condition, he is doing really well today. The swelling in his eyes in almost completely gone and he is acting like himself. I am absolutely amazed at how quickly he is healing! I knew that Finn was back to normal when I saw him trying to play on the laptop.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jeepers Creepers . . .

Today Finn opened his eyes, and way ahead of schedule I might add! (This picture was taken around 4:00 p.m.)

Last night was a rough night for the Finnster. Around midnight I happened to wake up and see Finn's legs flailing about. I got up and saw that he had his back arched and that he was desperately trying to get out of the car seat. I sat him up straight to make him more comfortable and he threw up everywhere. I called for the nurse and before she even made it in the door he had thrown up two more times. There was so much that it was pooled in the car seat and all over his body. The nurse called for some additional help and the three of us changed Finn's diaper, changed his blankets and washed him off. He felt much better after that episode and slept well the rest of the night.

The next morning Michael and I noticed that Finn's swelling had gone down a bit (at least in our opinion). Dr. Kelly came in and told us to expect Finn's swelling to get worse through the day and to top out sometime tomorrow. He also said that he was surprised that Finn's wasn't more swollen. After Dr. Kelly left, the drain tube and the foley catheter were removed, and I was finally able to hold my baby.

At first I just rocked and fed him. But then he started acting like he wanted to sit up.
I sat him up to burp him and then we saw one of his little eyes pop open. After about 10 minutes the second eye started to open. The nurse told us that she thought that Finn would not swell anymore. Only time would tell.
We decided to test how well could see so we held his toys out in front of him and low and behold he reached for them. We were so excited!
We didn't get to hold him too much longer because he became interested in all the wires attached to him and started pulling them off. The minute the nurse would get the wires back in place Finn would pull them off again. He also managed to kick off both of his "no-no's"
We were kind of worried that when we put Finn back in the car seat he would throw a temper tantrum and attempt to get out. We must have tuckered him out thoroughly because he immediately went to sleep and slept for several hours. I also was able to catch a nice long nap.
At 1:30 Donald Rush, a friend of Michael's from high school came to visit followed by Shannon and Ron. Around 3:00 Finn was ready to get up and play again. I was amazed at how much the swelling had gone down in just a matter of hours. Finn could really get his eyes opened.

Finn also seemed to feel much better. He started talking and laughing and chewing on things. We decided to try our luck at getting Finn out of the bed again, accept this time we put a shirt on him so that he couldn't pull off his leads. The nurse also replaced his "no-no's" with socks.

We had so much fun playing with Finn. He read his Thumper book several times and he also looked at his animal book. Michael and I attempted to make as many of the animal sounds as possible.

Later on Mom and Mrs. Cindi (MJ's mother-in-law) stopped in to see Finn on their way to the Frist Center. Ms. Cindi brought Finn a sock frog. In honor of Finn opening his eyes and given that the frog has great big eyes, I decided to name him Mr. Peepers.

Finn was almost back to sleep when Mom and Cindi arrived, but Finn was able to give them a great big smile.

After Mom left, Sharon stopped in after work. Next Michael and I decided to leave the hospital to go get some salads from Qdoba. On our way out we ran into Ron and Nina. After getting our food we sat in the cafeteria with Tommy and ate. When we were done we went back up to Finn's room where I fed him a huge bowl of oatmeal. I am so happy that he is eating solid food. He hasn't even attempted to breastfeed today. I am thinking that my little man is just about given up.

At 10:00 Finn finally drifted off to sleep. He had been awake for several hours so I think he will sleep really soundly tonight.

Today was really a great day. Finn has healed much faster than we and Dr. Kelly expected. I just want to once more thank everyone who has prayed for Finn's recovery. Those prayers have certainly been answered. Right before bed Finn's nurse popped her head in and told us that Finn was ready to be transferred to the floor and that we could go the minute a room opens up. I am so excited about moving to the floor. This last picture was taken at 10:00. As you can see, he is really starting to look like himself again.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This what Finn looked like at 7:30 a.m.

This is Finn's first attempt to sit up.

Finn chewing on his soothie.

Finn at 3:00 p.m.

Finn and his crib puppy.

Finn chewing on his rattle.

Finn's drain tube and incision.

Courtesy of my sweet Sunday School girls!

Finn at 8:00 p.m.

Finn at 9:00 p.m. Still cute as a button.

Last was Finn's first night in the ICU. I don't think that I slept more than 1 hour at a time the entire night. For one it is really bright in the hallway, second, Finn was up every hour, third, the machines beeped fairly often, fourth, the nurse came in every two hours to check Finn's vitals and finally the bagpipes woke me up every three hours. There is a soothing music channel that loops all day. For the most part the music is very quiet, but there is one song that features bagpipes and they are loud.

At 7:00 one of the neuro physicians came in to check on Finn. He told me that he would take Finn's drain tube out tomorrow. He also removed Finn's dressing. Finn's poor little head was very swollen and his right eye was swollen shut. After the doctor left I turned on "Sid the Science Kid". It was so funny to see Finn watching "Sid" with one eye. After "Sid" was over Finn went back to sleep for a while. Finn slept most of the day. Every few hours he would wake up and play with his toys. He would pick up his duck and rotate his wrist and he would also shake his rattle. At one point he put his teething ring in the mouth. He can't do much at one time but he is at least making an effort. He has also started talking a little bit. I looked at him today and said "Mama" - he looked right back and me and said "Dada."

Finn continued to swell most of the day. By 7:00 p.m. both of his eyes had swollen shut. Even still, he looks pretty good. I was expecting him to look much worse. The doctors told us that he will continue to swell until tomorrow afternoon. Finn also received a blood transfusion tonight around 7:30.

Finn also had several visitors today. Victoria and JT came this morning to visit. My sweet Sunday School class and Lindsay and Courtney made Finn some "get better" cards. I hung them on Finn's window. They make everything look so homey. At some point during the day the preschool pastor from our church came to visit. Apparently I was conked on the seat/bed. At around 1:00 Deniece came to visit. At 3:30 Dad and Gina came. After dad and Gina left David and Sharon stopped by. Brandon came at dinner time and brought us pizza from "Mello Mushroom." When we got back upstairs we ran into Mr. Joe, Joel and Angie. James stopped by with some Sesame Orange Chicken and Tommy dropped in after work.

Finn is doing great. I can't wait for tomorrow because I will more than likely get to hold him!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cranial Facial Reconstruction

Today is Finn's surgery. I think that he knew something fishy was up because he woke up at 1:30 ready to play. After about an hour of playing in the floor, the two of us slept the rest of the night on the couch. At 4:15 we woke and got all packed for our hospital stay. At 5:00 a.m. we left for the hospital.

We arrived at surgical waiting room at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital at approximately 5:30 a.m. Finn was in a very pleasant mood.

Next, Finn helped to get himself checked in to the hospital.

After all the paperwork was completed Michael and I accompanied Finn back to a preparation room. Here they put Finn in a pair of Vanderbilt pajamas. It took three tries before we got the right size. The XS was visibly to small. The next size up (the yellow one) was skin tight.

However, the "beyond toddler" size was just right.

After the nurse took Finn's vitals, we let him play in the crib for a few minutes. While in the crib Finn played with a fireman and cow provided by the hospital. It didn't take Finn too terribly long to realize that he was hungry - so he started to get fussy. In order to calm him down we tried watching "Curious George." During "George" both the anesthesiologist and Dr. Kelly's intern came in to explain everything to us. The intern put her initials on Finn's forehead. This made Finn furious!
Thankfully "Sid the Science Kid" was on so he calmed down quickly.

Next they came in and told us to give Finn hugs and kisses. After we had kissed all over him and told him how much we loved him we gave him to the doctors.
Michael and I left the room a few seconds later and watched as Finn was carried off. Seeing Finn disappear behind the corner was heart breaking. It was by far the hardest part of the entire day. Before joining our family in the waiting room Michael and I stepped into an empty room to spend some time in prayer.

The waiting room was packed with our friends and family. MJ and Coop came, along with Mom, Greg, Dad and Gina. Michael's parents and brother David were there too. As for our friends, Tim and Jean came early in the morning and brought the finest goody basket you could imagine. John came and sat with us the entire time. It was such a sacrifice for John to give his whole day to us. John, thank you and we are really blessed to have you, Victoria and the girls in our lives. Sharon and Amy from our old Sunday School class came to visit too! Finally, our good friend Chris as well as John Steen and Brian Mills, youth pastors from our church stopped in to visit for a while.

The first person I saw upon walking into the waiting room was Cooper. I can't describe how happy I was to see him. Only a few short months ago everyone gathered in the same hospital and in the same seats for Cooper's surgery. Seeing Cooper laughing and playing the waiting room floor filled my heart with such comfort.

The surgery started at approximately 7:40 a.m. At 9:00 we got our first update. They told us that the anesthesia portion of the surgery went well and that Dr. Tulipan had made the initial incision and had opened the skull. They told us later that the space in Finn's skull was so tight that right after making the cut into the skull his brain popped right out. (I am so thankful that he was able to have the surgery so quickly). We joke that it was like opening a can of biscuits.

After getting our first update Mom, MJ and I went down to the cafeteria to get something to drink and go the gift shop. While we were in the gift shop I received a phone call from Michael telling me to come back upstairs because the doctors wanted to meet with us in a private room. My heart immediately hit the pit of my stomach. I was afraid that the doctors had bad news that they wanted to tell us privately. Thank goodness MJ was with me. She explained that this was par for the course. She is such an ol' pro!

Michael and I sat for almost an hour in the private room before we were taken back to the recovery area to see Finn. I couldn't believe how great he looked. He looked so cute all bandaged up. Greg thought he looked like a Telitubby - which he kinda did. Michael and I took turns bringing our family back to see Finn. Then we all had lunch together. Mom made cupcakes for Michael's birthday (which happens to be today) and he opened the presents that Mom and Greg gave him. FYI one of the presents was a shredder - thank goodness!!

After lunch Finn was moved to the PICU. I was glad that we were in a private room, but unfortunately Finn was in a great deal of pain. It took a long time for the morphine to control the pain. In addition to pain medication Finn was taking a huge amount of breastmilk. The breastmilk helped to calm him down significantly. Just more proof that breastmilk is liquid gold. This is the first time I have given Finn a bottle in four months.

Finn was pretty unhappy in the PICU. In order to allow his head to drain, the doctors have ordered that he stay in a carseat for the first few days. This has not gone over so well. Not only is he in a carseat, I am not able to pick him up. Needless to say he was fit to tied. However, once the morphine kicked him he didn't have the wherewithal to fight.

After settling in, Michael and I had dinner with James in the Ronald McDonald family room. After supper Brandon and Carissa made a surprise visit. It was so nice to see them and laugh for a few minutes. Pa was our last visitor of the night. He came bearing gifts - more breastmilk from our fridge at home.

After everyone left Michael and I settled in for the evening. I am sleeping in the room with Finn and Michael is down the hall in the family room. Vanderbilt will not allow both us to sleep in the room. Finn is sound asleep. Every so often he will whimper. It is so wonderful see him asleep in his bed. His face is beginning to swell, but he looks precious nonetheless.

I want to take a quick moment to thank my Heavenly Father allowing us to catch this early, for protecting Finn during the surgery, for granting Finn's parents peace and mostly for giving us the opportunity to come to him in our time of need.

I also want to thank everyone who has prayed for Finn. There is nothing more powerful than prayer. Furthermore, there is nothing more valuable than time. Thank you for taking time to pray for Finn.

Michael, Happy Birthday! I love you and I wouldn't have wanted to do this without you. Finn surely does have a great dad.

Finn - I love you so much!

Monday, April 26, 2010

In Memoriam . . . of Finn's hair

This week Michael and I both honored Finn's hair.

I realized a couple of days ago that even with the impressive head of hair on Finn's head, we have never done the Alfalfa. I couldn't let Finn get his head shaved before trying on the Alfalfa!
Here he looks more like an Elf - more specifically, an Elf that is up to no good. "We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup." One of my favorite lines from "Buddy."

Michael's gesture was quiet a bit sweeter than mine. In honor of Finn's big surgery, Michael decided to shave his head. Now Daddy and the Finnster will look alike.


Today Finn had his pre-op appointments at Vanderbilt. First we went to visit Dr. Kelly. While in the waiting room I met a really nice woman named Anna and her daughter Lillian. I noticed that Lillian had a scar on her head that looked like what the plastic surgeon said Finn's incision would look like. Anna confirmed that Lillian had the same surgery three (3) months prior and that she was doing great. They had come in today because Lillian had a bit on fluid on her brain and Dr. Kelly wanted to check it out. Anna also showed me post op pictures of Lillian - I almost cried and I felt a little nauseated. I knew that Finn would look rough after the surgery, but I certainly wasn't prepared for what I saw. I now know to expect that Finn will look like he has gone the distance in a heavy weight fight. This fact didn't seem to bother Finn in the slightest. He was in a great mood waiting for Dr. Kelly.
Once we got back into the room Finn went straight for the paper on the patient mat. I have never seen a child love paper as much as Finn does. Then Dr. Kelly;s nurse took a full history and looked in Finn's ears and down his throat. He hated that.

Next, Dr. Kelly's nurse walked us through the surgery. We are to arrive at the hospital between 5:30 and 6:00. When we get there they will give Finn something to make him drowsy. Once he is asleep they will give anesthetize him, intubate, put in 3 to 4 IVs, put in a foley catheter and start a heart monitor. They will also shave his head and give his hair back to us in a plastic bag. The nurse also told us that they will start antibiotics immediately.

The surgery is scheduled to start at 7:30. Dr. Tulipan, Finn's neuro surgeon will make the incision and will cut into Finn's skull. He will then place a drain tube into the side of Finn's head to help drain the fluid. Dr. Tulipan's part should last approximately 45 minutes. After he is finished Dr. Kelly will start. Dr. Kelly will then start repositioning the plates in Finn's head. After he has placed the sagittal sutures in the correct place he will place dissolvable spacers between them. Next, Dr. Kelly will reshape Finn's skull to allow maximum brain growth. We learned that there are eight plates in Finn's head and Dr. Kelly ensure that each on is in the perfect spot. Afterwards Dr. Kelly will close Finn up and put a large bandage on his head. The surgery should take between 3 and 6 hours. That sure narrows it down :)

After surgery Finn will go to the recovery room where Michael and I will be able to see him. Next they will move him to the PICU. Finn will stay in the PICU until his drain is ready to be removed and he can open his eyes. We were warned that Finn's head will swell for up to 48 hours after the surgery. They told us that his eyes would probably swell shut. They said that we will need to talk to him and touch him a lot that he knows we are nearby. While in the PICU Finn will be fairly sedated. He will also be sitting in a carseat the entire time to help with the drainage. We are not allowed to pick him up the entire time he is in the PICU.

Once Finn leaves the PICU he will go to a regular floor room. This is when we will start taking care of Finn. I will be able to nurse him again and we will be able to play with and hold him. After resting for a few days on the floor, Finn will be released home.

Our next appointment was with Dr. Tulipan (Finn's neurosurgeon). Before meeting with Dr. Tulipan Finn ate a huge bowl of oatmeal in the waiting room. After going back to the room we kept Finn entertained by swiveling in Dr. Tulipan's chair. Unfortunately he caught us and I don't think that he was all that happy about it either. He specifically asked for his chair back.

Dr. Tulipan was not extremely personable and we only spent about 5 minutes with him.
On our way to the PATCH clinic we stopped to look at the trains.
Our next appointment was at the PATCH clinic or the pain clinic. PATCH sounds way better. Finn was exhausted by this time and I took a nice nap. When he woke up the nurse practitioner was standing over him with her stethoscope. He looked so scared. When we turned his head and saw us he started to cry.

Our last appointment of the day was with the phlebotomy department where Finn had some blood drawn. That was easily the worst part of the day. I had to hold Finn's arms, Michael had his legs and the nurse was checking for a vain. Since Finn is so fat it took her a while to find a vain. Finn's poor little fingers were turning blue. Finn was furious. He was screaming and squirming and he had huge tears rolling down his face.
Finn was back to his old self once he got him in the car. Overall Finn was pretty impressive. We arrived at Vanderbilt at 8:00 and didn't leave until 1:00ish. When we arrived home Grandad came to visit and sat with Finn while I went to work for a few minutes. After Michael got home the three of us ate dinner together. Finn was so good tonight. He ate his cereal with ease and he fell asleep cuddled up next to me.

I must be honest I don't want to do this tomorrow. I am not prepared to give Finn over to the surgeons. I was told to envision that instead of the phyisicans I giving him to God. Before going to bed Michael and I spent some time in prayer. My friend Regina sent me a next message right before I started blogging and it said, "trust Jesus when your heart is afraid." I will do just that.

Putting up the Christmas Tree with Buck Denver

On November 12th we started the process of putting up the Christmas tree.  It is now December 4th and I have still not completed the pr...