Sunday, March 30, 2014

My dad's op was successful

Friday was such a long day, there's nothing worse than waiting and waiting and wishing we could get an update.

My dad went into theatre at around 8:30am, and my mom got an update from the doctor at about 1pm, saying surgery was going according to plan and it'll take another two hours or so.  He was wheeled into ICU at about 15:30. That's seven hours!

I didn't see him on Friday - my mom said he was very drowsy, emotional, in pain.
The doctor said the surgery was successful, the tumour was very big and very deep, but they removed it all.

I visited on Saturday morning - they're really strict in ICU regarding visitors - only at set hours, only two people at a time, and have to sterilise hands and wear a plastic apron.  I was really shaken when I saw him, looking so fragile, and so many drainage pipes attached to him, and keeping eyes closed.  Said he's in lots of pain.  The cut at the back of his head was a lot bigger than I realised, a big square, about 7cm x 7cm. He chatted a little bit, asked what Mia's doing, but could see he was exhausted.  I was very drained and emotional after that 20 minute visit!

Today's visit was a hundred times better.  Some of the drainage pipes have been removed, so he looked more comfortable. He was looking around, chatting more, asking to sit more upright, drank some juice.

He's still in ICU tonight, but it's quite probable that he'll get moved to a normal ward tomorrow.

His right leg still has no sensation and he can't move his toes, I can see he is a bit concerned about that, but the doc said it could take some time, and he'll do physio rehabilitation soon.

I did some reading up about recovery after meningioma brain surgery, and found this blog post of 20 things to expect after brain surgery which was quite insightful and I liked that it was written out of personal experience and not just like the medical websites' information. 

I think this recovery process is going to take longer than any of us realised...  But, we must all take it one day at a time, encourage him, support him, keep him positive.  Like my brother told me when I was going in for the first visit yesterday, "Tell him he looks good! Even if he doesn't look good, just tell him that he does!"

This really was major surgery, I can't imagine the 7-hour anaesthesia, all the bruising and swelling, the discomfort and pain.  ICU is bright, noisy, beeping machines, non-stop activity - I think my dad is quite exhausted.  Apparently he asked for a sleeping pill for tonight, I'm glad, so that he can get some proper rest, that's a big part of the healing process, and something one just can't quite do in a hospital!

This special pic was taken on Thursday night before the op, when we took Mia to visit:

All in all, we're so relieved the operation is over and done with, but we all need to stay strong to stand by him for the recovery process. 

I am in awe of how many people he had praying for him, all the special messages being sent to our family, all the people who care, it's truly special.  The power of prayer sure is amazing!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My dad is having an operation tomorrow

My dad has been diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumour.  He is having surgery tomorrow to have it removed.

For about six months now, he has had troubles with his right leg.  It started off as a pins and needles sensation, but progressively got worse - his knee now literally gives in sometimes when he walks, and the pins and needles are so bad that he has no sensation in that leg at all anymore.

Since October last year, he has been to two neurologists and an orthopaedic surgeon, and nobody could find the cause of this, even after having MRI scans of his leg done.

Finally, last week, seeing the fourth specialist doctor, who did an MRI scan of my dad's back and head, the problem was found.  A meningioma brain tumour, measuring 50 x 50 x 55mm - the size of a tennis ball!! Read up a bit more about it here.

He has to book in at hospital this afternoon, and surgery is scheduled for 11am tomorrow morning.  It's going to be a six-hour surgery.  He will then be in ICU for 2-3 days, then in a normal ward for a further couple of days.

The doctor had to outline all the scary risks of this major operation, but he sounds positive that he will be able to remove the whole tumour.

My dad has been sounding all right, I think keeping his fears to himself...  My mom has been quite emotional, she said this morning she feels a big pain in her heart. I can understand that.  We're all doing our best to be positive and be strong and give as much support as we can.  I'm glad the operation is being done here, so that me, my sister and my brother are all nearby.

I believe, in my heart, that this operation is going to be successful, the recovery will be slow but good, and that my dad is going to be 100% again very soon.

Dear God,
Please keep your hand over my dad, now, as he prepares for surgery, tomorrow, while the operation is done, and all the while during recovery.  Grant him peace in his heart.  Please keep the doctor's hand steady. Please give my mom peace in her heart. Grant us all strength, acceptance and positivity.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dear Ella Jill

My dearest Ella Jill,

There’s less than a month to go before I get to hold you in my arms – I can’t wait! I can’t wait to kiss your little fingers and toes, to look at your perfect face, to breathe in your amazing scent, to have you fall asleep on me, to see your big sister love you.

I love having you grow in my tummy, I love all your precious movements that feel like you’re saying, “hello mommy!”  I hope you can feel when I rub my tummy, and I hope you can hear when I tell you how much I love you.

Your room is all ready for you.  We’ve had so much fun preparing for your arrival – your pappa painted your bedroom walls, your sister helped wash all your toys, I painted a canvas for your wall and packed all your clothes and blankets into your cupboards and had lots of fun shopping for new goodies for you!

You are so loved. You must always, always know that you are so loved.

See you soon, my precious little one.

I love you to the moon and back.



Monday, March 24, 2014

Oh my defiant child!

Mia has been challenging me very much lately.  We were very lucky in that we never really experienced the "terrible-two's" stage, but oh my word, the "throttling-three's" sure is making up for it...

I'm not sure if she's just testing her boundaries, whether it's just a phase, whether it's to do with the impending arrival of a baby sister - or probably a combination of all of these... But I am at my wit's end, my patience is running on empty, and mommy-guilt is at an all-time high.

Everything is a fight!  To get her to go to the toilet when she wakes up in the morning.  To get her to settle on a choice of clothes for the day.  Then she insists on choosing her own panty and taking ages at doing so.  I've stopped giving her a choice as to what she wants for breakfast, as it's just easier to prepare what I have time for, some mornings I can do oats, some mornings we need to do Pronutro if we're running late, some mornings we have time for her to take her time over her marmite toast.

Luckily she goes to school happily and easily - although once we get there she does hang onto me as I put her lunchbox in its place and sign her in - but she kisses me goodbye and doesn't make a scene.  Pick-up time is also easy.  The only issue is in the car - she insists on getting in and out by herself - which actually suits me just fine because it breaks my back to pick her up and load her in... But by doing it herself, she sure takes her sweet time, finding an old biscuit and eating it, taking her shoes off and putting them back on again, or just standing in the car looking around, or sliding out of the car at a snail's pace...

Then, nap-time.  She still needs her nap.  She snoozes from about 2pm til 3h30.  If she skips her nap, she's miserable by late afternoon.  But she really is starting to resist having her sleep - once she's on her bed she's fine and content, but getting her to stop whatever she was doing when naptime arrives is the problem.  She says no, she cries, she throws things.  Then when I shout at her she cries even more and I feel like a villain.

Supper time had been relatively easy a while ago, recently she's become even more fussy.  I'm so over having to beg and plead to get her to eat a decent amount of food!!

Then, when we tell her it's bathtime, another fit of yelling no, crying, us shouting.  Once she's in the bath, she's happy as a pig in mud, keeps telling us she's not finished bathing yet ("just three more hours", she says!) until we have to start being all firm and pulling the plug and lifting her out of the bath amidst her protests and tears.  I can't, I can't do this anymore!!!

Now, I really want to get this under control before baby Ella arrives.  Because if this continues, I will soon be crazy person.

I realise that I literally don't know how to handle her - as Wyn tells me, Mia's the boss of me. I let her get away with things too easily, I give in too easily, I am too lenient with her...

We have a few options open as discipline methods.  I'm not keen on giving hidings.  It's just not in my nature. I have previously once or twice given her bottom a smack, but I feel so bad afterwards.  My heart just breaks if I see that precious lil face crumple up and cry. (See, I'm too soft!!)  Wyn doesn't mind giving hidings, but it hasn't often been necessary.  Mia has always reacted very well to our tone of voice, and being quite obedient if we speak to her firmly, and she hates it if we raise our voices to her.

We haven't ever tried the naughty corner/ naughty chair approach - it just hasn't ever been necessary.  They use this method at school, so I think it should work at home too.  I just need to figure out at which point in the battle-of-wills it is that I send her to the naughty corner - once again, I'd probably be too lenient.

Another thing we could try is taking away perks like her late-afternoon tv time, her after-dinner ice lolly that she loves, her bath toys, or her bedtime story.

This morning I tried to reason with her.  Explaining to her how it doesn't have to be a fight the whole time, I don't want to fight with her, but I need her to listen to me, when I ask her to do something, she mustn't say no and get cross, she must say yes mommy... At the end of this lil pep talk I asked her if she understands.  She said, "I don't understand why you are shouting at me."  Aaaargh!

I just really want to focus on getting a hold on handling this situation better, and to not feel so out of my depth.  I have come really close a few times during this last week, to really "losing it" and wanting to rant and rave and yell and shout - and I really don't want that to happen.

Mia is a sensitive, perceptive, intelligent child.  I really think she's just realised how she has me wrapped around her little finger, and now that she's pushing the limits and I'm resisting, we really are bumping heads and clashing.  And it's not nice!! I've always hated confrontation. I like to get along, I like peace, I like quiet and calm.  Oh dear.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Photoshoot Sneak Peek

Our photo shoot was done at Irene Smuts House, by my very talented friend, Karin.  Find her on Facebook or on her website.  Highly recommended, whether for family portraits, special occasions, or anything where the moment needs to be frozen in time!

I say it every time, but I will continue saying it: Karin has a way of capturing very special moments, I can just feel the love shining through these photos!

This is the sneak peek - more pics to follow in about two weeks time. :-)


Pics by Karin Meiring Photography.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Shower of Blessings

Ella and I were so spoilt this weekend, with a beautiful, special baby shower.  It was hosted by my mom, sister, mom-in-law and sister-in-law.  The theme was "a shower of blessings", using umbrellas and gum boots as decoration, and a beautiful "wishing cloud" that people could write and hang their wishes on for me and Ella. So special!

They also had little cards with numbers 1 - 21, where each guest had to write a birthday note to Ella for that corresponding number that they got - so the person who got number 10 would write a note for her to get on her 10th birthday.  Love this idea, and look forward to reading these notes again in the years to come!

My friend Liezel made the cake - what a masterpiece!  I was in tears when I saw it, complete with an umbrella on top, with hearts as raindrops, and along the side in fondant icing it said Baby Ella Jill.  How perfect. Beautiful and delicious shades of pink cake inside - amazing!

My sister read this beautiful poem by E.E. Cummings:

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)
I am never without it (anywhere I go you go, my dear,
And whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)

I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)

Beautiful! ♥

My sister-in-law also did a beautiful speech.  She said while thinking what she wanted to write for Ella, she was inspired by God, for the following two Bible verses:
Jesaja 43:1 - Die Here het jou gemaak. Hy se vir jou, moenie bang wees nie. Ek sal jou red! Ek het jou by jou naam geroep. Jy behoort aan my.
Jeremia 1:5 - Voordat Ek jou in die moederskoot gevorm het, het Ek jou geken, voordat jy gebore word, het Ek jou aan My gewy en jou as profeet vir die nasies aangestel.

Then, she also said that the letters of Ella's name mean the following:
E: Exceptional
L: Live
A: Ability
J: Joyful
I: Inspiration
L: Laugh
L: Lord Jesus Christ

It was truly a special baby shower, and I feel showered in blessings indeed.  There were so many special friends there, and they wrote beautiful things for me and Ella.

Our gifts included: nappies, wetwipes, beautiful clothes, Tommee Tippee bottles, toiletries, blankets, a nappy bag, a duvet set, and gift vouchers.

We ended off the weekend with a photoshoot - can't wait to see and share the piccies!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

33 weeks scan, and tentative birth date set!

This morning I got to see my lil Ella again! ♥

She's still quite small, but growing nicely nonetheless.  The doc said, before starting the sonar, that she should weigh around 2.2kg - she measured in at 2kg exactly.  (For interest's sake, at my 34-week sonar with Mia, she was 2.6kg already!)

Baby girl's not in breech position anymore, was lying head down - face up, the doc could see her face, I couldn't make it out tho.  No piccie to share either, aaaw.

The doc wants to do an induction of labour, for two reasons: due to the fact that I had high blood pressure at the end of my last pregnancy, it's very likely that it will happen again, so rather than to wait for baby to arrive, we'll rather induce.  Secondly, for ease of planning - for the doc, as she's going away at the end of April, and for me, so that I can plan family to be here to look after Mia.  Dr Jacquie says that seeing as the induction went so well with Mia's birth, chances are it'll go perfectly again.

Dr Jacquie looked at her dates, and said she does the inductions on Wednesdays, and doesn't like to do it more than 10 days before the due date - so that gave us Wednesday the 23rd of April.  Yay! That's 6 weeks away!  Woooohooooo, eeeeeeek! ;-)

I'll be 39w1d then.  There's always the chance that Ella might surprise us and I could go into labour before then, so I will pack my hospital bags soon, and do my best to have family on standby to help out with Mia, but for now, we'll be planning for the 23rd. :-)

I went to the maternity ward to open my file there, and got all the info I need from them regarding what I must pack, and signed all the necessary consent forms.  Starting to feel so real now!

Ella's really been kicking up a storm.  Sometimes really painful karate jabs, other times little tickles, hiccups, rolling movements, scratching movements.  She moves a lot at night when I lie with my tummy against Wyn's back, this morning he said, "she must be so tired, she's been awake the whole night!" LOL!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Baby Room Piccies! ♥

 Baby Ella's room is ready for her! ♥

Had lots of fun finishing off her room this weekend, put the curtains up, hung the canvas pictures, stuck the vinyl sticker, finished sorting and tidying cupboards and compactum.

Now have a last few odds and ends that I still need, that I'm hoping to finalise after this weekend, like needing a new parent unit for the AngelCare monitor a friend gave us, and then needing things like Tommee Tippee bottles, bath towels, bath toys, spoegdoeke, muslin blankies and some toiletries like nappy cream and medicines.  Exciting!

Mom-in-law made beautiful curtains, so happy with them!
I painted this canvas, and painted the wooden wording that I found at a craft shop.

I'm totally in love with the vinyl wall decal, that was done by CVDB Designs

Mia's pretty pink curtains that mom-in-law made - Mia loves them, keeps saying how pretty they are.  Mia's room is such a pink princess boudoir, we're thinking of painting a grey stripe on the wall, same as Ella's room has a pink stripe, just to break all the pink going on there!

Mia painted a canvas for her sister's room too, she was super pleased with how it came out. :-)

Oooh, next big thing is to pack my and Ella's bags for the hospital!  Eeeek! ♥

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Preparing Mia to be a big sister

It's been on my mind so much, and I've been doing a lot of reading up on the transition to becoming a big sister, and how to ease Mia into it gently, lovingly and happily.

She's such a sensitive, soft, emotional little person, and I want to respect these character traits of hers.  I don't want her to ever feel, even for a moment, that I don't have time for her or that she's no longer my number one priority. I'm aware of how much time, effort and energy a baby takes - but I will make a conscious effort to involve Mia in what I'm doing, explain things to her, make special time for her, praise her and ensure we get in our daily dose of snuggle-time!

I found some nice links with info regarding welcoming a sibling into the family, like this blog post, this article, and this one too.  Lots of good ideas, some of which I've already either incorporated or have planned:

 - I've been sure to include Mia with whatever preparation we do in the baby room.  I show her all the baby clothes, I let her help open baby gifts from friends, I show her the old baby toys that she used to play with, I explain what everything is for.

 - When I buy any baby related items in town, I'm sure to buy a little something for Mia too, even if it's just a packet of stickers or some socks!

 - I want to have a present for her here at home, to open when I'm at hospital, telling her how much I love her and how proud I am of her.

 - I will have a present at hospital for her, from baby Ella - and will arrange with hubby that she also brings a lil present and card for Ella.

 - I'm trying to prepare her about the rude-awakening aspects of a new baby, the fact that she will cry lots, wake us up at night, and spit-up her milk.

 - I tell Mia about all the helper-girl things that she can do with me, like giving baby sister her dummy, reading to her and showing her toys.

 - I've ordered a book called I'm a Big Sister by Joanna Cole, will include this in her gift bag when baby's born.

 - In the next few weeks before baby arrives, I want to take Mia to the movies, take her for ice-cream, take her for a stroll at the dairy farm, etc.  And then, in the weeks after baby arrives, I will do the same!

 - I'm going to ask family to give us space for a few days once we come home with Ella, to just adjust to life as a family of four and enjoy some quality time with our two daughters.

Well, that's pretty much the plan.  I know Mia is going to be a fabulous, loving, special big sister. ♥

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rainy days, preggy aches and cherished moments

We've had four days of non-stop rain - ranging from light drizzling to rainstorms!  All the roads around us have been flooded, because the Hennops River comes through Centurion - and less than a kilometre from our house it comes through the golf course too, blocking our road too, meaning that to get to Mia's school, I need to go on a long detour around the block.

This morning on our way to school, as I got out of our estate to the main road, I saw how traffic was backed up and at a standstill - I promptly turned around and headed back home, and sent Mia's teacher a message to say she won't be at school today.  We enjoyed a cuddly, snuggly day together, we watched two of Mia's current favourite movies, the new Barbie movie (Pearl Princess) and Frozen.  We made 'boontjiesop' for supper, as a treat for Pappa.  We played school and Mia matched some shapes and coloured them in, and coloured a picture of a rainy day. ;-)

The forecast is rainy for the rest of this week!

I'm 32 weeks pregnant today!  I've really enjoyed pregnancy up til now - but during the last week or so the aches and pains have really been getting to me.  It's been fun, but now I feel impatient to have lil Ella in my arms.  I've had terrible lower back pain - feels like knives stabbing me. Especially if I bend over and stand up straight again, or if I've been sitting or lying in one position and get up - ouch ouch ouch.  It gets worse during early evening - luckily Wyn is a champ helping me with supper preparation and Mia's bathtime.

Baby girl karate kicks me that it's quite painful sometimes!  My bladder has been getting abused, I think I go to the loo every half hour.  I got heart palpitations on Sunday and Monday which wasn't a very pleasant experience, not sure if my blood pressure was either acting up, or maybe my blood sugar dropped.  But didn't happen today, luckily.

Thankfully the heartburn is a lot better since the doc prescribed Nexiam, yay!

As much as I'm feeling physically impatient to meet our new lil baby - I don't feel mentally and emotionally ready yet.  The other night Mia woke up three times during the night, and I felt shattered in the morning.  Am I ready for night feeds and nappy changes and baby spit-up at all hours of the night?!  Also, I'm trying to cherish each moment with Mia, in the last few weeks that she's still an only-child.  I really hope the transition and adjustment to being a big sister is going to be easy and happy for her.

My to-do list items are slowly but surely being ticked off.  I want to finalise all the last preparation and shopping during the next two weeks, so that the last month can just be relaxed quality time with Wyn and Mia.  I love how we're snugglebugs on weekends - when Mia wakes up we fetch her and bring her to our bed, and spend up to an hour just cuddling, reading books, playing on tablets and just enjoying special family time.  I do look forward to the new lil body that will be joining in these snuggles and cuddles in less than 8 weeks! ♥