Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fly high, baby girl...




Fly high.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunshine, Swings and Smiles

We hope that you all had a great holiday weekend with family and friends! Last year Matt and I snuck away from the hospital and spent some time with family for Memorial Day. This year we spent it as a little family of three. It was supposed to rain this afternoon but instead we had lots of sunshine. We took advantage of the nice day and took a little field trip to a park. Charlotte discovered her love for swings and had so much fun watching a group of "big kids" run and play!

Here's to the start of a HEALTHY summer and lots of sunshine!





Saturday, May 28, 2011

Doctor Doctor

My last post was very "happy-go-lucky." We have been so proud of little Charlotte and we need to remember to celebrate the her big accomplishments. A reason to celebrate was actually just what we needed last week, because aside from that we've been functioning in "heart parent" mode. We had a run of doctor's appointments that didn't exactly go the way we wanted. I haven't written about them here because I've been tired, a little anxious, and trying to wrap my head around things.

I'll break things down here for you by doctor/date...

Wednesday May 18 - 12 month well-visit with our brand new pediatrician. Our old pediatrician took an administrative position with the hospital, and while we wish him nothing but the best--it was sad to know that we had to find someone new. We have so many specialists that we really only go to a pediatrician for well-visits and shots, but we still loved Dr. Elliott and he knew all about Charlotte's special heart. SO, I'm sad to say that we moved on, but happy to say that we think our new doctor is great. Charlotte was just under 18 pounds that day (10%) and 27 inches long (3%)...while its not huge, she has held to her growth curve and not lost any ground.

Charlotte was getting a monster cold the day of our visit, and I will be honest, she looked like junk when we got her to the office. Her color was off, her breathing was heavy and she was a bear. Pair this with a new doctor...and we were about 10 minutes away from landing ourselves in the hospital. They gave her a neb in the office and I eventually convinced them to let us go home with a PROMISE that I would bring her back if she got any worse. We started an antibiotic for a red, bulging eardrum and some steroid for some wheezing and she was significantly better by morning.

Monday May 23rd - Pulmonologist, chest x-ray, blood work and cardiologist...WHAT A LONG DAY! Dr. Will (Pulm) said that Charlotte's ears still looked red after 5 days of antibiotics. In the end he referred us to ENT which I will talk about in a bit. We have the clear to stop her inhaled steroid in a month if she doesn't have any wheezing.

Blood draw = tears
Chest x-ray = tears

Next up was Dr. Sami (cardio). If you remember back to our last visit with him, we learned that Charlotte's chronically low oxygen levels were having a negative effect on her hemoglobin/hematocrit. Well, after that visit Charlotte really seemed to turn around. Her color looked better and she seemed a ton happier. She started eating better and just seemed NORMAL! I was sure that he was going to come into the room and tell me her labs were better. WRONG. Both of the blood levels were actually worse. Talk about feeling defeated. I was confused and I could see that he was both confused and concerned. Sami truly thinks that her heart repair is functioning the way that it should, but it still seems to be her lungs that are holding her back. Her chest x-ray this time around was essentially unchanged. Enlarged heart and increased vascular markings. BLAH. They decided to re-check in a month and then present her to Omaha.

Charlotte has always been a basket-case with doctors. She is getting so much better and actually let Dr. Sami hold her for the first time ever!

WELL...Mommy got antsy. Within 2 days we were cycling through another "crumby" phase with purple fingers and I hit my limit. Thank God Dr. Sami's nurse is a patient woman and has been so helpful to me. After lots of emails and texts back and forth, it was decided that Sami and Will would get back together and come up with a plan. So......Tuesday morning Charlotte will go in for a lung scan to see how well she is ventilating (air) and perfusing (blood) her lungs. From there we will come us with the next step. We also asked that Dr. Sami not wait to talk with Omaha. We want Dr. Hammel to know what is going on and to see if anyone else has any crazy ideas as to what might be going on. I won't lie...I'm nervous about all of this. We know that she has a crazy heart, but the last thing that we need to add into the mix are crazy lungs. Please say some extra big prayers for Miss Charlotte this weekend. We won't know results right away, but I will be sure to keep everyone posted.

Friday May 27 - ENT - I was sure that they were going to tell us at this visit that Charlotte needed tubes BUT HE DIDN'T! Dr. Todd thinks that her ear drums look red because of her poor oxygenation, and while she does have some fluid in her ears, he doesn't think that tubes would be of much benefit. WOOHOO...finally some good news.

So that's that. 10 days, 4 doctors, 2 crazy parents and 1 amazing little girl who just keeps on trucking despite it all. Again, big prayers for Tuesday...and maybe some for me this weekend so I don't get too anxious!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

BREAKING NEWS!!!

Well, well, well...

After spending the last 9 months almost POSITIVE that little Charley was teething, we woke up today to find the teeniest, tiniest little white speck poking through her bumpy little gums. Trust me, its not noticeable unless you are playing Sherlock Holmes or own a magnifying glass....but it is there...I promise. WOOHOO!!! At the rate she's going, it will probably be all the way through by the time she heads off to kindergarten! I was starting to think that we were going to need PopPop to set her up with some dentures!

Speaking of her little mouth, I am proud to say that this Mama has not stressed about Charley's eating for almost a whole week now. A week might not sound like much, but trust me...it is. Want to know WHY I have relaxed????

CHARLOTTE IS EATING TABLE FOOD!

You heard me right...TABLE FOOD!

She had gotten to the point where she acted like baby food was poison, but would gag and puke every time we tried "food food." Then last weekend something clicked. I was literally in tears as she sat in her high chair eating mac and cheese, green beans and watermelon. She even ate part of a grilled cheese sandwich yesterday at daycare and pieces of a taco burger today! WOOHOO LITTLE GIRL!!! Wait wait wait....thats not all....she is drinking from a sippy cup like a pro. Ok, so she will only do it laying down (you should see her try it sitting up. HILARIOUS.)

Eating has always been a struggle with Miss Charley, but it appears that we have finally made it.


Sigh....we've made it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

Today was pretty much the perfect day. I got a solid 8 hour of sleep last night (YAY!) and woke up to the "jibber-jabber" of a happy baby in her crib. We spent some time snuggling and laughing at the puppies and then enjoyed a nice breakfast (Pediasure and pancakes for Charlotte, Fruit Loops for Mommy and Daddy.) It was supposed to rain all day, but we were blessed with unexpected sunshine and got to spend lots of time outdoors. It was such a quiet and NORMAL day that I almost forgot about its significance.

Rewind to one year ago. Instead of 8 hours of sleep, I got maybe 2 at the most. Rather than a morning of snuggling and laughing, it was one filled with a last minute baptism and lots of tears. In place of pancakes and Fruit Loops, we downed coffee and forced ourselves to eat something as we anxiously waited for words on progress. There was no sunshine (at least that we got to enjoy) and there was no outdoor time.

One year ago today Matt and I handed our 1 week old, 6 pound little girl over to the team of surgeons, doctors and nurses at Omaha Children's Hospital for her first life-saving open heart surgery. I've thought about what words I would type here as I reflect on that terrifying day, but I can't come up with anything effective. It was awful. It was gut-wrenching. We gave a million kisses that morning, fearful of what the day would bring and knowing the risks associated with such a big procedure, yet we remained faithful and confident that we would see sunshine in the end.

Here we are, one year later, enjoying that sunshine that we longed for so much last summer. Charlotte has fought hard to get to where she is today and is showing no signs of stopping. She is a fighter and a survivor.

Today we celebrate our beautiful heart warrior.

Strong, beautiful and brave--Charlotte Delene Ritchie.






Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cute as a Button

I thought that I would post some pictures from Charlotte's "Cute as a Button" birthday party this past Sunday in Omaha. While the weather didn't exactly cooperate, the day was pretty perfect overall. Thank you again to everyone who helped us celebrate this GIGANTIC milestone, and especially to my sister Jill and her hubby for lending us their house for the day!

I decided that I want to be a "make the cake" mom. Here is year #1. Cute and simple.


Yummy button cupcakes. They were so cute!



A thank you gift to Charlotte's grandparents, aunts and uncles for all that they did for us this past year. We truly could not have done it with out them.



CUTEST PICTURE EVER (Thanks, Erin!) This was taken while we were singing "Happy Birthday." She looks like she's loving it!


Getting curious...




She is very good at sharing.


Its not a party until there's frosting in your ear.


All cleaned up and heading up for a nap. She definitely partied her little booty off!



Family picture...Mom, Dad and one tired one year old!

If anyone has more pictures, feel free to send them my way. I managed to keep myself busy enough that I didn't take near as many pictures as I had wanted to. Go figure.

So, that about wraps it up...we successfully conquered YEAR 1, the first chapter has come to an end. Something tells me that year 2 has good things in store for Little Miss Ritchie. We keep trusting that God has big plans for us and we live each and every day appreciating the little things.

Monday, May 16, 2011

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

I started writing this post on Thursday knowing full well that

1) We would be out of town on Charlotte’s actual birthday
2) It was going to take me some time to come up with the appropriate words given the enormity of this day
3) It was going to be hard to write with blurry, tear-filled eyes…and I’m pretty sure that will be the case through this whole post!

Alright…deep breath…here we go.

May 14, 2010 was the most unexpected, overwhelming, exciting, anxiety-inducing, INSANE day of my entire life. I was 37 weeks pregnant and working my last day before a planned “move” to Omaha to sit and wait for our little baby girl to arrive. What started out as a normal Friday quickly began to swing out of my control. Two OB visits, one shot of terbutaline and a frantic search for my husband later, we were on our way to have a baby. We pulled into Omaha at 6 PM and by 10:15 PM we heard the strong cries of our little Charlotte Delene for the very first time. The chaos of the day melted away and the months of fear for her health were forgotten. In that moment, all that I could think was “My gosh…she’s perfect.”

Life hasn’t slowed down since that day. It has been the most stressful year of my entire life, but at the same time it has been incredibly rewarding and has taught me so much about myself. It has reinforced my belief in the goodness of God and reminded me just how lucky we are to have incredible family and friends. I have felt so weak and helpless, but was able to discover strength within my self that I never knew existed. I have embedded myself into the heart community and met so many incredible mommies and heart kiddos. I am different today than I was a year ago…I am better, I am stronger, I am more in love with my husband than ever before...and its all because of our little Charlotte.

Charlotte,

Sigh….I don’t even know where to begin….I guess I should start with HAPPY (late) BIRTHDAY! I can't believe that you are ONE YEAR OLD already. Your first year has been anything but easy, yet through it all you have displayed such strength and resilience.

You made lots of big strides this past month, all reinforcing the fact that my little girl is not so little anymore.

-You are getting better and better at playing on your tummy. You haven't shown much interest in crawling, but you discovered that rolling from tummy to back to tummy gradually inches you forward.

-You LOVE to stand and are getting very good at walking with a little support from Mommy and Daddy. Tonight you even took a few steps with only one of my fingers to steady you. We've got a lot of work before you are flying solo, but you are getting stronger every day.

-We FINALLY found a sippy cup that you like. You would prefer a bottle any day, but I suppose its a step in the right direction.

-You are getting better at table food every day. Your sensitive little gag reflex has been a challenge, but we're learning what works and what doesn't. So far mandarin oranges and green beans are the best. And Cheetos....but babies aren't supposed to eat Cheetos so we'll leave it at that.

-You laugh A LOT. Mostly at your Daddy because he is soooo silly. You like to laugh at your puppies as they chase each other around the yard, too.

-My favorite thing you learned this month is to show us where your heart is. You even decided to show off at your birthday party (of course your hands were covered with sticky frosting when you did it). Everyone was very impressed!



Baby girl, you made it. I can't even to begin to tell you the significance of this milestone, but I know that one day you will understand it all.

Daddy and I love you with all of your hearts. Thank you for making this year the best yet!

(Stay tuned for birthday details and pictures later this week!)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Last year on Mother's Day I was 36 weeks pregnant with Miss Charlotte. I worked an evening shift at the hospital and came home to find that Matt had finished the nursery as a Mother's Day gift. You may remember my excited post about the rocking chair he gave me....it was perfect and totally unexpected.

That chair has gotten a lot of use over the past 52 weeks. I sat in it and rocked before Charlotte was even born, tears running down my face out of fear for our future. I sat in it for the first time holding my little girl who was finally home after an insane month in the hospital...what a feeling. It has been the perfect place for bedtime stories, prayers and countless late night feedings. That chair has seen both of us cry, laugh and rock in absolute silence. That chair as seen the evolution of me as a mommy--starting out terrified about my ability to care for a sick baby and growing in confidence day by day.

The thought of rocking this precious little girl and knowing that she is mine is overwhelming.

I am her Mommy. She needs me. She loves me no matter what.


Today we celebrated our first Mother's Day together and it was perfect. I am honored to be your Mommy, Charlotte, and I love you more than I could have ever imagined.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Party in Heaven

A few years ago for Christmas Matt got me a frame painted with the words...

"There are souls in this world which have the gift of finding joy everywhere and leaving it behind when they leave."

In the middle of the frame is a picture of me sitting on my dad's lap while he reads me a book.



This frame hangs on the wall at the very top of our staircase. I pass it every day when I get up in the morning and smile at it every night as I walk up to bed. Some nights when I'm going to lay Charlotte down we stop and talk about "Papa Paul." I tell her how much he loves her. I tell her how proud he is of her. I tell her that he is always with her, watching over her and keeping her safe....her very own guardian angel. Every once in a while when we get to the top of the steps Charlotte will reach her arm out toward the frame and get the biggest smile on her face. While I know that she is too young to really understand, I can tell that she knows there is something special about that picture...

I have so many wonderful memories of the time that I got to spend with my Dad and I do my best to pass those memories on to both Matt and Charlotte. We talk about his love for the Yankees, listening to Buddy Holly records, playing Jeopardy on the computer....The list goes on and on. Dad's memory is alive in our house and we feel his love every day.

Happy Birthday, Dad! I hope that you are doing something 100% awesome today--maybe an afternoon Yankee game with the Mick?? If so....maybe you could help Jeter out a little bit?? =)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Sunday

Wrapping up a nice quiet weekend at home. It was nice to do "nothing"...though its never really "nothing" like it was in the pre-Charlotte days! She always keeps us busy with something!

Here's a sneak peak into Charlotte's Sunday.

We started out with cinnamon roll pancakes for breakfast. Ok....Matt and I did anyway. I thought Charlotte would like them but she wasn't in the mood. Her loss...they were seriously yummy. I tried to post a picture, but for some reason it wouldn't let me. Go to recipegirl.com if you want to check them out. There is a recipe for a cream cheese glaze as well, but we passed and they were still delish.

After breakfast Charlotte practiced kneeling. She used to cry and have a death grip on the bin when I would make her do this. Now she is perfectly content and will dig for toys. Little by little baby girl!



When she got sick of kneeling, she used her legs to stack rings. I only helped with the yellow one because the hole is small and she was coming from a weird angle. Otherwise, it was all her doing. What a goof! And notice the sippy cup by her head....we finally found one that she likes!


Last but not least, she made some phone calls to catch up with friends. I caught a photo of her actually using a phone, but before that she was using the rings seen above.


Hope you all had wonderful weekends!