You will have significant experiences.
I hope that you will write them down and keep a record of
them, that you will read them from time to time and refresh
your memory of these meaningful and significant things.
Some may be funny. Some may be significant only to you.
Some of them may be sacred and quietly beautiful. Some
may build upon another until they represent a lifetime of
special experiences.
- Gordon B Hinckley

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Second, First Holidays, Crawling, and Surgery...Oh My!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

Who knew that being a parent would be THIS MUCH FUN?  Well, probably all of you out there who are already parents.  But for Zac and me, we had no idea…and I now often find myself saying, “If I’d known it was going to be this great, I wouldn’t have waited so long!”  Ah, we are enjoying our little Everett, our little family, and our day-to-day lives together.  And with the holidays quickly approaching, we are excitedly anticipating celebrating Everett’s second, first holidays (we’ve decided not to really count the ones he spent in the hospital).  For the sake of comparison, this time last year, Everett weighed 2 lbs. 5 oz. and was 13 ½ inches long.  This year, he’s measuring 16 lbs. 7 oz. and is 26 ¾ inches long.  Now that’s some growth!!!  He still isn’t on the growth charts (it seems they keep growing just as much as he grows) but he’s on a good angle on the chart, not too steep and not too shallow, so we’re happy with his “less that 5th percentile” label :-)  

‘Lil E is crawling!!!  Granted, it is still an army crawl…but he is able to propel himself forward instead of rolling everywhere so it defiantly counts.  And now he’s into EVERYTHING!  Books, toys, dog food, rugs, laundry, electronics…nothing is safe from his reach.  He’s getting pretty fast at it too.  And the thing that he loves to crawl for the most…big brother Jack (the dog).  He is quite taken with him and will follow him anywhere (in fact, we joke that Everett probably thinks he’s a dog).  He loves to “pet” him, pull him, attempt to eat his ears, and steals his toys constantly.  Jack takes the abuse without a growl, nip, or whine, but moves to the other side of the room as soon as an opportunity presents itself.  The two of them are adorable to watch.  I keep telling Jack, “Give Everett two years and he’ll be your best friend.”  I don’t think he believes me :-)

‘Lil E is eating!!!  Finally, finally, finally he is able to eat the Gerber puffs, biter biscuits and various baby friendly foods without choking, gagging or throwing up.  Whew!  Now I can cross that worry off my list :-)  Shortly after his birthday, Everett was suddenly able to tolerate finger foods.  He’s chewing, thanks to his new two front teeth, and is swallowing just fine.  His birthday cake wasn’t a hit…what can I say, this kid just doesn’t like sugar.  He didn’t want the frosting or the cake, but he put up with the ice cream.  Let’s hope his preference for foods lasts into adulthood. 

Tri-Counties Regional Center completed their evaluation of his gestation (actual) and corrected ages last month.  We are happy to report that in the areas of cognition, language, and speech, Everett is testing at his actual (12 month) age!  This is a great accomplishment for him and just reassures us that his beautiful brain is functioning properly.  In the areas of gross and fine motor skills, he tested at his adjusted (8 month) age.  This is also a great accomplishment as typically children that spend the amount of time Everett did lying in a hospital crib are delayed beyond their adjusted age.  In the area of feeding, Everett tested at 6 months, mainly because of his inability to handle solid food textures.  But with him now tolerating the puffs, crackers, etc., he’s moved up to the 8 month bracket.  I wasn’t aware at the time, but in order to qualify for Tri-Counties, the child must test at 33% below their CORRECTED age.  Had the therapists told me this at the time, I probably would have freaked out.  But now, Everett tests at less than 20% below his ACTUAL age.  In just six short months, he’s made such progress.  We are SO proud of him!!!  The goal is for him to adjust to his actual age by his second birthday.  If he accomplishes this goal, therapy will no longer be necessary :-)  

We’ve been to CHLA several times this past month for follow-up exams.  The first was with the Eye Surgeon who attended Everett while he was in the NICU.  We chose to return to CHLA for a second opinion about his Retinopathy of Prematurity.  And the news to report…Everett has no active ROP!!!  He tells us that it is completely regressed and that invasive retinal exams are no longer required…WOOHOO!  Having held my screaming child through four of those exams, I’m thankful to never have to comfort him through another one.  Everett will just be followed by a regular eye doctor from this point forward. 

Our second trip to CHLA was for a follow-up surgery appointment.  The surgeon wanted to check on his progress and growth and we wanted to discuss his bilateral hernias and scar.  The surgeon checked him over and said his abdomen has healed properly.  His growth is appropriate and proportional so we have nothing to worry about there.  But then he checked his hernias and determined that they are “very, very large.”  Not to be graphic (but remember, I’m a nurse), the surgeon was able to stuck his thumb through his left one…OUCH!  That’s a BIG hernia on a little person.  The hernia on the right is likely around the same size, although the surgeon couldn’t feel that one as well.  So…what does all this mean?  We return to CHLA for hernia repairs on Wednesday, December 15, 2010.  In an odd coincidence, the first surgery date they offered was December 8th, which you may recall was the date of Everett’s first surgery last year.  I quickly asked if they had a different date available…not that I’m superstitious, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it that day.  As for his scar, which we would like to have revised at the same time, the surgeon said he’ll have to wait-and-see the day of surgery.  If the hernias take too long to repair, they won’t be able to do the scar as they don’t want Everett under anesthesia for too long.  But if they have the opportunity, he’s happy to do it for us.  Everett will remain in the hospital overnight, per my request (usually this procedure is done outpatient) because we live so far away should something happen, and then he will be discharged on Thursday afternoon. 

After all we’ve been through, Zac and I are oddly amused at the thought of seeing CHLA all decorated for Christmas again.  It is almost surreal.  Never in a million years did we think we’d be back there.  But this time…Everett’s coming right home.  We’re nervous but place our faith in God and the hands of the surgeons to take great care of our little boy.  This is the final step in a long journey toward healing and strange as it may sound, Zac and I are ready to take it! 

I hope this email finds all of you, Everett’s prayer warriors, well.  May we wish you an early Happy Thanksgiving!  We have so much to be thankful for this year with our healthy son, happy marriage, strong family, and caring friends.  We give thanks and praise to God for his blessings and his gifts.  And we give thanks and praise to each of you who continues to pray for our family.  We love you so much and hope that you have equally as many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

With Love,

The Bollinger Family

P.S. Pictures are attached.  The first is of Everett’s First Halloween, the second is of Everett’s Second, First Halloween (with the SAME HAT in both pictures), the third is from his birthday, and the fourth of our Pumpkin Baby (courtesy of our incredible photographer friend, Ashley Beem).  Enjoy!!!

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