Saturday, November 28, 2015

Into the Woods...

A few weekends ago we snuck Adam out of school early and headed off to Bull Run for a much needed family camping trip. After lots of time spent apart from one another it was time to reconnect and spend time as a family of 4 (+ 2 dogs). 

The weather was perfect - dry, mild during the day, and the perfect crisp fall weather at night. We didn't have too much on the agenda aside from taking some walks, playing in the leaves, and enjoying the camp fire. All of which we accomplished and with the mild temps even Harper was able to get out and enjoy some fresh air with us (though most of the time he was nice and toasty inside the camper). 

The dogs enjoyed getting to stretch their legs as well and had fun chasing after each other (and Adam) through the leaves. Adam loved getting to run around as well gathering up all the sticks he could find and helping Daddy with the fire.

There was another motive for choosing this particular weekend for our camping adventure - it was the kick-off for the Festival of Lights - something we've participated in every year since 2012. Kathleen joined us as we walked through the light show. I love this tradition - much more fun walking through the lights with Christmas music playing on my phone than driving through in a car. The temperature was a little cool, but we layered up and hot chocolate awaited our return. (Andy & Harper stayed back and cooked up chili for us to enjoy as well) :) 

Bring on the holidays! 

Harper is 2 months!

It was so wonderful that we were able to bring Harper home on his 2 month birthday - mostly because it meant we didn't have to rely on a drawing of a cake, instead we could have the real thing! What better way to welcome him home than with cake!

Here was Adam at his 2 month cake celebration...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Harper's Story...Home Sweet Home...

Coming home from the hospital on September 6 without Harper was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I think at the time the adrenaline and shock was still in place so it didn't really hit me until later that night that I had given birth and yet there wasn't a baby at home with us. And for 60 more days I'd come home from the hospital without my baby. However on November 5, Harper's two month birth, we finally got to leave the hospital with our baby boy and that was probably the greatest feeling in the world. 

Harper could finally feel the sun on his cheeks, take in some fresh air, and live life without wires or alarms and best of all, with his family in his home. 

It was a beautiful and unseasonably warm day which meant we were able to give him lots of fresh air as we waited at the bus stop for big brother to get home from school. Adam couldn't have been happier to see his little brother waiting for him and he couldn't wait to get Harper in his arms. A sweet moment we'll always cherish. 

The next few days were spent holding Harper as much as possible - no one wanted to put him down or give him up - let's face it, we had two months of snuggle time to make up for. Harper certainly didn't mind and I think he enjoyed getting to see his colorful and cozy nursery and he enjoyed meeting his four legged siblings as well who seemed very interested and curious - but sweet and gentle as we knew they would be. 

What a long road it was but knowing it led us here - a family of four with two adorable pups - I'd travel that road every single time. 

Welcome home Andrew Harper - stay awhile won't you? 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Harper's Story...NICU Week 9...

Harper started week 9 just shy of the 6 pound mark but hit that just two days in - that was a great milestone to see him achieve, especially now that he was eating all on his own without his tube. Aside from continuing to grow, week 9 was all about preparing for discharge! Wooho! I'm a big fan of check-lists and boy did I love seeing us mark things off his discharge check-list all week with an eye on Thursday, November 5 as his expected discharge date - which also just happened to be his two month birthday. 

First on the list was his car seat challenge. Harper would have to sit in his car seat strapped in and everything for 90 minutes without having a spell or any desats. Turns out - Harper LOVES his car seat and the nurse even left him in it after the time was up as he was napping so comfortably. Challenge passed, completed, and checked off the list! 

After that it was three days of vaccinations (his 2 month shots) to tolerate - which he did so great with! Check those of the list! 

Some of the items on the list were for Andy and me to complete on the education side of things. So CPR training, safe sleep training, and infant massage training. I'll admit I kind of always thought the massage stuff was a bit "crunchy" - you know, like for the moms who vow to never let their kids have sugar, teach them to read by age 2, etc - however it turns out the massage techniques are really beneficial for babies - especially for preemies whose brains are still developing and who may be more prone to sensory issues as a result. Turns out the techniques can also be used on Adam to help with stress, which after some of our homework struggles, I can see trying to use these on him too. So, with that, education items checked off the list! 

Before we knew it the check-list was complete, his Discharge Train was all green and we'd snapped our last NICU selfie. All that was left was to finally unhook him from his monitors, go over his discharge papers, pack up his room, and say farewell to the doctors and nurses - which was the hardest part. As happy as I was to be bringing Harper home I was very sad to say goodbye to the staff- especially the nurses. Turns out I was just as much their patient as Harper was. Our daily conversations, medical in nature or mostly not, were exactly the distractions I needed from our NICU reality and I knew I'd miss them. 

Alas, it was time to rip off the bandaid, say our goodbyes and bust Harper out of there! After 60 days it was time to end this chapter of Harper's journey and we left there excited, scared, thrilled, terrified, and a little sad, but mostly we left there feeling whole - Harper was finally going to be where he belonged - home. 

A Star Wars Halloween...

Halloween was all about Star Wars this year - no surprise there! It started with a morning to visit to see Harper who got in on the Halloween fun with his cute little Halloween outfits. Then it was off to baseball for our last game of the season. Since it was Halloween the kids got to wear their costumes to the game. It was pretty cute seeing all the players in their costumes and pretty funny to see that on Adam's team there were two Darth Vaders, a Storm Trooper, and Adam as Luke Skywalker. Clearly Star Wars is on everyone's mind these days! 

After baseball it was home to prep for Trick-or-Treating. We cooked up some cheese fondue as an appetizer and then had our traditional French Dip for dinner. Adam and I did the Trick-or-Treating with our neighbors, Josh & Luke. Was fun for me to have their mom, Allyson, to walk around with and I know Adam enjoyed running from house to house with his bus stop buddies. Meanwhile Andy held down the fort at home passing out candy with his helpers, Mark & Kathleen. 

A successful Halloween and we're already looking forward to next year when Harper can get in on the Trick-or-Treating action!