Sunday, September 28, 2008


Caroline's future sister!!!

When we went for our "big" ultrasound this week, we got some really wonderful news! In addition to the baby looking healthy, with all its parts well formed and apparently in good working order (thank God!), we also found out that we will be adding another little girl to our family. Caroline will be getting a sister, which is something I have always dreamt of for her. I have 3 younger sisters myself, and there is truly nothing that can compare to that kind of bond. I know that if the baby had been a boy, I would have been so happy that things were as they should be (not to mention - Steve would have been thrilled to have a son and is feeling a bit outnumbered in our house these days). Caroline would have been a terrific big sister to her little brother, but I can't even put into words how I feel now that I know that she is getting a gift that I feel so blessed to be giving her - that of a sister.

This wonderful news couldn't have come at a better time for us. This time of year is bittersweet for me, as it has been for an unbelievable 19 years. While September is typically filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of impending Fall and all the newness and change that it brings, it also happens to be the month when I sustained my spinal cord injury. In particular, today - September 28 - is my anniversary. When I was 13, I had a spinal fusion for scoliosis. During surgery, a number of complications arose and a portion of my spinal cord was deprived of oxygen. When the doctors realized that the monitoring they had been doing to prevent just such an issue was not working properly, they removed the rods that had been placed along my spine, but the damage had been done, and I was paralyzed from roughly the belly button down.

Recovery from something like this takes a long time, but my yardstick for measuring mine hasn't ever really focused on the physical side of things. Sure, it's important to work to regain as much movement as you can to optimize your situation, and I spent a great deal of time in physical therapy over the years to heal. However, for me, the emotional journey that this experience has set out for me has been a far more difficult path to navigate at times. The anxiety and anticipation of all life's wonderful rights of passage, like dating, high school dances, starting college, getting married, or having a baby to name but a few, has always been compounded by the fact that I have this extra baggage in the form of four wheels.

It is a journey that I would not be able to face day in and day out without the support of my own sisters (along with the rest of my family and friends). This makes me value the future relationship that Caroline will have with hers so much. I know that when I was injured, they too were hurt and had to begin their own healing processes. I have the physical scars from my surgery and its aftermath, but the three of them also lost alot on the day I got hurt. They have always been there to help pick me up when I've fallen, both emotionally and physically. They help me turn limits into opportunities, and for that I am so grateful. I only hope that I return the favor to them in my own way. I am so lucky to have them, and I am a better person because of them.

My sisters and me

Like a really bad college roommate (not that I've ever had that!), my injury and I have reached an uneasy tolerance of each other while at the same time maintaining an extremely close proximity. We get in each other's way at times, and are constantly having to find ways to coexist. My chair and the limits it attempts to place on me are what I deal with every day, although I like to think that I push back hard to not let it stop me or my family from living our lives. I have to say that at this point in my life, I have reached an appreciation for the experience that I've been through, as it has helped me to learn things about myself that I don't think I ever would have learned otherwise. That isn't to say that I would even wish it on my worst enemy, but at the very least I can frame what happened to me in some sort of positive light.

Anyway, tonight, I just wanted to give a little shout-out to all the sisters (and future sisters) out there. They get us through some tough times, and for me especially, I had the opportunity on this anniversary to not spend too much time being sad about what happened so long ago, but instead focus on the future and all the hope and promise that it brings...

Friday, September 19, 2008


One of my best friends, Kristy, recently gave me a birthday gift that I've received so many compliments on! I've been meaning to post about it since she gave it to me since I like is so much.

I just love the colors she chose - the dark stained wood is so cool with the turquoise beading, and it goes without saying that every preppy girl loves a good monogram. You should head over to The Silver Goose and get one for yourself (or a very lucky friend)! Thanks, Kristy!!!


Wishing we could play outside... but smiling for the first time in two days nonetheless!

Caroline seems to be heading in the right direction with whatever bug we've been dealing with, which is such a relief! She was in good spirits, although a bit tired. She didn't have a fever all day, until late this afternoon (which they told us to expect). It wasn't even that high either - such good news! We were stuck inside again today, but I think tomorrow if she's feeling up to it we'll put on actual clothes and venture out for some fresh air...

Thursday, September 18, 2008


This has been a long week for Caroline. She hasn't seemed like herself since Sunday - not eating or drinking well, runny nose, and generally acting kind of difficult and crabby. Even though she did okay at school at the beginning of the week, we didn't have a good start at our first class at Kidville - it's called Ballerina Tea Party, which combines Caroline's two loves: movement and a snack (what's not to love?!). She had a meltdown and we even had to step out for a few minutes - SO uncharacteristic of her. Something was just not quite right, and I knew it.

Well, things finally came to a head last night around 11:30. Caroline had been asleep for a few hours. Steve and I had already gone to bed but were still awake when we heard her gasping from her room. Steve ran in to see what was wrong - at first, he thought she was choking, and was whacking her on the back as he brought her back into our room. When I saw her, I had a strong suspicion about what was going on. She was burning up, convulsing, with her eyes rolled back in her head. Her limbs were rigid, fists clenched, and her lips were blue even though she was breathing and her heart was racing. I had a feeling that we were witnessing our first febrile seizure (which I'd thankfully read about in Your Baby's First Year, Week by Week and Toddler 411), but as Caroline's never had anything like this before, we were obviously really scared.

We immediately rolled Caroline on her side and called 911 to have an ambulance sent to our house. After about three minutes, the episode ended, and Caroline seemed incredibly lethargic and limp, but she was breathing and her heart began to slow down. The paramedics arrived quickly - I've never been so glad to see 8 guys bust into my room in the middle of the night while in my ratty pajamas and messed up hair. When we told them what had happened, they agreed that it probably was indeed a febrile seizure - a benign seizure brought on by sudden extreme changes in body temperature (fever). Caroline had gone to bed only 3 1/2 hours earlier with no signs of a fever, and within that time had elevated to at least 103.2 (they think it probably went even higher, but because she was given Tylenol very quickly, it probably came down a bit before they took that temp).

We went in to one of our local hospitals' pediatric ERs, where she was assessed and monitored. They first tried to get the fever under control (since that's what was causing the seizures), and then attempted to identify the cause of it. As my mom likes to say, "First, put out the fire. Then, determine how it happened." They checked her ears, belly, and throat for infection. When nothing remarkable was found, the decision was made to monitor for a bit to see if the Tylenol continued to work. Caroline, meanwhile, was fast asleep on Steve's chest. After a seizure (even a short one like this), kids are exhausted and really disoriented.

Since I hadn't ridden with her in the ambulance, I didn't get to go back into the room with her until a few minutes after her arrival at the hospital. The drive there and the waiting was the hardest - every second felt like a million years. I had the chance to call our pediatrician on call, who was really helpful and supportive. He told me that we had done everything right, and that I was doing a good job of remaining calm, which I appreciated even though the latter was all just smoke and mirrors. My mom and dad luckily met us at the hospital too - my mom's a burn and trauma nurse so it's always comforting to have her around during times like this.

The hospital concurred with everyone else's suspicions that this was a febrile seizure, and helped us to understand what happened and how to try to keep it from happening again. The current working theory is that children under 6 have under-developed myelin, which is the coating of the nerves in their brains. This lack of myelin creates an environment where "short circuits" can happen during times when the body has a rapid rise in temperature, which is when the seizure occurs. As kids get older, the risk of febrile seizures all but disappears, but it is very common in youngsters under 6 or so. Our ER doctor told us that our county alone sees about 20,000 cases of this per year.

While what we experienced is probably the most frightening thing we've ever seen, we have taken comfort in several facts that our doctors have shared with us. First of all (and most comforting), the fact that Caroline has had a febrile seizure doesn't make her more predisposed to developing a seizure disorder such as epilepsy, nor will it cause any sort of brain damage. It does, however, make it more likely that she'll have another febrile seizure when she's sick, which is why we need to be vigilant and proactive if she seems to be coming down with something that could lead to fever (such as giving her Tylenol or Motrin before bed if we suspect she might be heading in that direction). Febrile seizures may have a family link, so if one child or parent in the family has a history of them, the other children are at increased risk of suffering from one - that was a really important piece of information that we received.

The doctors also reassured us that we handled the situation correctly by turning her on her side and contacting 911 for support. They also helped us understand that most often, these types of seizures occur with a common virus, although occasionally they can also be a sign of something more serious, such as meningitis (which they would check for if the fever wasn't coming down after treatment, along with no other obvious signs of infection). Another interesting lesson was that we wouldn't necessarily have to bring Caroline right back in if she had another one - just if she had one within 24 hours. The fact that she is now predisposed to these episodes means that we may learn to manage them at home if they happen again during subsequent illnesses - while being in immediate communication with our primary care physician, of course. If it's obvious that she's spikes a random fever with no other real symptoms and one occurs, a febrile seizure is most likely what's going on. When in doubt about them, however, the best thing to do is to get her in to an ER.

Finally, we learned that she could and should take Tylenol and Motrin concurrently when she has a high fever such as this - they don't interact with one another, and it increases our chances of staying on top of her fever before it has a chance to get too out of control. Obviously, you should consult your own pediatrician about this kind of stuff, but I wanted to put it out there as a potential talking point if you ever need it - I never knew that one before.

Caroline had perked up by the time we were getting ready to leave, even eating a popscicle from the nurse and asking my mom and dad where their dog Oscar was (we thought that was cute - and a very good sign!). After we were discharged around 2:30, we headed home, with a quick detour to CVS for supplies and a stop in a parking lot because Caroline threw up everywhere. I've never been so glad to see barf in my life - it meant that we were dealing with some common virus rather than a more serious infection that was lurking in the background and would have us making a u-turn back to the ER in a matter of hours. We all crashed around 3:30 - with Caroline on her crib mattress on our floor. Steve and I both agreed we didn't mind a little extra company (tonight, for that matter, either - neither of us seem to want to let her out of our sight, which takes me back to the early days!).

Today Caroline missed school and the day was spent was spent laying low, reading books, watching Noggin (whose slogan is "It's like preschool, on t.v." - or so I told myself for the 7+ hours it was on!) and trying to drink fluids. Caroline's favorites so far have been apple juice, "red" popscicles, and a bit of Jell-O. She's been up and down all day, both in temperature and demeanor. You can really tell when the fever is setting in again - she goes from acting relatively normal to literally lying on the floor and falling asleep. We're doing our best to stay on top of it - alternating Motrin and Tylenol every three hours. I also followed up with Caroline's pediatricians to keep them in the loop. We're all tired and looking forward to a good night's rest, with the exception of waking up for meds, we all hope.

Anyways, I know this was a long one, but I wanted to share with everyone because even though I had read of febrile seizures before, when you are in the throes of it (especially if it's your child's first), it's easy to panic. The most important things we learned to remember are to put your child on a flat surface on his or her side, with nothing obstructing their airway (do a finger sweep to move the tongue out of the way if they are gasping and can't seem to get air), and to call 911 or your physician immediately. If you remember nothing else in the situation, file those two steps away in your head. The American Academy of Pediatrics also has a great FAQ sheet that shares more details about what to do when a febrile seizure happens, and how they will be treated by your doctor. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we have a quiet night tonight, and hope that you can file our story away in your head so that if this ever happens to you, you won't feel as scared since you've heard of someone else experiencing this. Goodnight, sleep tight - I'm off to give a dose of Infant Tylenol and heading to bed for a few hours!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Remember to disable the music by clicking on the music player to the left of the screen and pushing "Pause" or "Stop!" Believe me, it's worth the 5 minutes....

Friday, September 12, 2008


So for the first time ever, we had to think "school" when shopping for Caroline's Fall clothes. Lack of time has prevented me from making a big outlet run like last year, but I did find a few good deals out there amidst the bundles of cute stuff. I had some good luck at stores like Mini Boden, Gap Kids, and Lands End, and grabbed one or two staples from Ralph Lauren (on sale, no less)! I resisted the urge to buy everything for Fall and Winter now, as I learned my lesson last year when I overloaded and had too much of one thing and not enough of another. Now we have some wiggle room for growth, as well as my irresistable urge to pick up new cute stuff when Winter hits. Here are a few of my favorites...

from Mini Boden

from Ralph and Gap Kids

from Lands End

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Here are a few pictures that I finally got up from Caroline's first day last week. I know I mentioned this in my last post, but didn't want to just squeeze them in there as an afterthought! PS - The backpack was a birthday gift from Caroline's Aunt Lulu...
All smiles on the steps just before we left for the big first day!

A few pictures outside before we got in the car to go (Caroline was bummed she wasn't riding a school bus)...
Two quick pictures with Daddy before heading inside!
Back home, and still all smiles after our first day!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


So we've been more than a little MIA over the past few months! I am so sorry for that - it seems that being a blogger and dealing with a busy summer were a bit too much for me! Things are finally settling down though, and I am back and running - just gotta bite the bullet and not let any more time pass before writing in again. If I wait any longer, I might never be able to catch up! So here's what we've been up to this summer...

1) We've finally moved! Although we're still dealing with some construction (more on that in another post...), unpacking, and decorating, we've got the basic bones of what we need (mainly, an elevator... more on that in another post, too!), and that's what counts. I feel like our workers are going to move in with us and live here forever, but at least they are nice and really good with Caroline. :) BTW, if anyone in the DC Metro area is looking for a really good builder/renovator, we definitely reccommend Hemingway Homes in Bethesda - they have been beyond fabulous! I promise to post some pictures soon, especially of some of the before and after.

2) We sold our other house! We were lucky - even in this market, we got an offer after about 40 days. We went to settlement the Monday after we moved in to our new home. We felt good because it was going to a really nice older couple who could benefit from the one-floor living that the house provided us, and the fact that they had no plans to tear it down and build a McMansion (which is common in our old neighborhood) made me happy - I don't like change, so it's nice to imagine that our house is like the one in one of my favorite children's books, The Little House, where everything around the house changes but the house for the most part stays the same.

3) Steve finished his thesis and is officially finished with his MS in Engineering at Hopkins! It has been a REALLY long road for all of us (him, in particular!), and the past 8 months while he was writing what turned out to be an over-400-page document has been hard. I didn't realize how much I missed him until I had him back again! He even got an A - not that I'm surprised! I am so happy for him about that - it's nice to know that all your hard work and time away from work, family, and friends has paid off. We were really smart with our timing - he defended his thesis on a Friday afternoon, we moved on Saturday, and sold our house on Monday. Nothing like cramming in all the life changes into one weekend, which brings me to my next bit of news...

4) We're expecting our second baby! I'm a little over 16 weeks, or 4 months, along, and I'm due in February. I held back about posting the news when we first found out earlier this summer because I wanted to wait a bit, and then time just got away and life got crazy for me. I'm feeling good after a long first trimester - not sure if it was the baby or the move or both, but I'm glad it's better. We are really excited and although I'm a bit nervous about the whole two-kid thing, I'm sure we'll figure it out. Caroline taught me that. I'll keep you posted on how things are going in the upcoming weeks and months!

5) ...And finally, last but not least, our baby girl Caroline turned two in August and started pre-school last week! I can't believe how fast time has flown - she is such a little person now and totally not a baby. On the first day, after we got her out of the car, she bolted straight for the front door and didn't even notice us following her because she was so excited to get in there. While I have to admit part of me was hoping she'd at least realize that she and I would no longer be hanging out together every day like the wacky sidekicks we've become, I was also really proud of her for jumping right in and gearing up for her next adventure. Ultimately, that's the kind of kid that we are trying so hard to raise, and it was cool to see that spirit in her, even so early in her little life.

Aside from a few trips to the Bay here and there, that's what our summer has basically been all about - house, thesis, baby, getting ready for school. I can't wait until things are put together and we can all calm down - which will probably be just in time for Number 2's arrival. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be, though?!

Until next time - and I promise it won't be too long...