Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Our Two Month Old...

So I am a few days late, but I'm finally getting around to Harrison's big TWO MONTH birthday post!   Time is FLYING by and our handsome little man is growing and changing every day.  I toured a hospital yesterday during an interview and we walked past the nursery on the post-partum unit.  My eyes immediately caught sight of a tiny newborn with a head FULL of dark hair.  H has changed so much that it's almost hard to believe that just two months ago that was our tiny little baby!  
We have spent the past month soaking in all things Harrison and are loving every minute of him (even the minutes that wake me up at 3 AM).  Here are a few things that he has been up to since our last "birthday" post!

-As you'll see in the pictures below, Harrison is a very happy little guy!  We absolutely melt when he flashes us one of his gummy grins and they seem to come more frequently with each passing day.  He's sure to be a heartbreaker!

-This boy loves to eat and has even started to get some chunky monkey rolls on his thighs.  I LOVE IT!  Tomorrow is his 2 month well visit and I'm excited to see how much he weighs.  

-If you lay Harrison on the floor with with a blank wall to his right and 1 million brightly colored toys to his left....he will stare at the blank wall.  This kiddo definitely has some side preference going on and the flat spot on his head to prove it!  Its a good thing he has lots of hair to cover it up!  We're working really hard at directing him to the other side but he's just a tiny bit stubborn.

-He's quite the little chatter box and loves telling his mommy and daddy stories!  I love the sound of his little coos and screeches.

-Much to my dismay, we're still working on the whole sleeping thru the night thing.  Now I'll give the little guy credit...he's all about business when he does wake up (eat, burp, back to sleep).  He will randomly pull out long stretches of sleep to get my hopes up, but then is right back to the every 3-4 hour schedule.  ZZZzzZZzZZZZ....oops, sorry...I just fell asleep there for a second!

-Last month baths = they aren't so bad! 
-Harrison is one STRONG baby!  I thought that the whole rolling over at 2 weeks thing was a fluke, but I guess I thought wrong.  I'm surprised that we can keep him on his tummy for longer than 10 seconds at a time!  He actually likes being on his belly (a HUGE change from his sister) and is mastering the art of the push-up.  He also likes to lay on our glider ottoman and jump against my legs.  He'll be a pro by the time he's big enough for the jumperoo!

-We introduced our little guy to lots of new friends this month.  We were fortunate enough to spend the afternoon with my old roommate Shannon, her husband Brian and their son Jacob.  I hadn't seen Jacob since he was 6 weeks old and today he turns ONE!  I'm sure that then Harrison is a little older those boys will find all sorts of trouble to get into!  We also had some friends come visit us all the way from Indiana.  Our old neighbors "The Lemons" came and stayed with us for a few days last week.  They were very excited to finally meet "Baby Harry."  They have an almost 3 year old and a 7 month old, so our house was a very busy place! 
This month we say GOOD-BYE to our deconstructed chair, and HELLO to our new GO BIG RED chair!  I foresee lots of Husker football games being watched from this chair and from the look on his face you can see how much he loves it.  Thanks NamNam and PopPop!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Every Heart Has a Story {3}

Well it's that time of year again...time for the 3rd annual Every Heart Has a Story blogging event hosted by fellow heart mama, Stefanie.  This is a way for heart families to share their individual stories and to "meet" other heart families online.  This is my third year participating in Every Heart Has a Story.  The first year Charlotte was three months old--the second year she had been gone just as long.  In the span of one short year we had gone from new heart parents of a little girl who was thriving despite having only half of a heart to shocked, grieving parents trudging through life with our own broken hearts.  Rather than re-hash our entire story, I have decided to include links to my previous contributions and use this year's post to tell our "here and now" heart story.

Being the mother of a heart angel puts me in a very confusing position.  I am a heart mom without my heart child.  I no longer live with the day to day stressors that I once did.  I don't think about upcoming appointments or surgeries.  I don't give medications or feverishly watch the flashing numbers on a pulse ox machine.  These responsibilities were taken away from me with no warning when God decided that our little Charlotte had fulfilled her purpose here on Earth.

The day that Charlotte earned her wings my heart journey changed.  It took a dramatic shift from being 100% focused on her heart, to stepping back and examining how she had changed mine.  I am a different person...a better person...because of the time that I had with Charlotte.  I am stronger, I love others more completely, I live for every moment of every day.  I am a better wife to her Daddy and a better Mommy to her new (heart healthy) baby brother.  She opened my eyes to a world that I never new existed and brought incredible people - doctors, nurses, other heart families - into my life.  Pretty impressive accomplishments for a little girl who only lived one short year.

So now here I am...a heart mom who doesn't live like a traditional heart mom.  I hold my new healthy baby in my arms and probably appear to be pretty "care-free."  But what people cannot see from the outside is that my heart is heavy.  I will always be a little broken.  I miss my baby girl and would do anything to have her in my arms again.

So what do I do now?  I can't sit on the couch and pout.  I can't pretend like having Harrison makes everything better.  I can't forget about the heart community just because I feel like I'm somewhat of an outsider...a "scary" outsider, none the less, to heart families who's biggest fear is having to walk in my shoes.  Instead I choose to continue to celebrate Miss Charlotte.  

I talk to her daily.  
I tell her brother stories about what a special little girl she was and how she will always watch over him.
I share memories with family and friends.
I continue to keep in touch with my friends in the heart community.
I do my best to keep her memory alive.

Each and every day is progress.

Thank you so much, Stefanie, for continuing to host Every Heart Has a Story and for allowing us to take part in it!

Every Heart Has a Story

For more information on what our family is doing to help celebrate our little girl, please check us out over at Charley's Heart

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Proud Mama: A Pulse Ox Story

Last year there were over 4 million live births in the United States. Approximately 38,000 of those births took place in my home state of Iowa. Less than eighty of them occurred at Greene County Medical Center in the town of Jefferson.

Eighty babies out of 4 million...

You're probably wondering where the heck I'm going with this. I promise there's a point!

A few months back I got an email from the mother of a friend of ours from pharmacy school. She has been following our story here on Little Miss Ritchie since Charlotte earned her wings in May 2011 and remembered at one point reading a post that I had written about pulse oximetry screening in newborns. In her email she asked if I had any evidence-based references that she could take to her hospital's OB meeting in May as her was of helping us honor Charlotte's memory. I gladly sent some information her way and quite honestly, hadn't thought of it since.

Until today.

Today I opened my email inbox and found the following update...

Hi Kristen and Matt,

This week the Pediatric docs at Greene County Medical Center approved PulseOx Screenings on all neonates here at our tiny hospital. Back in May I provided them the article (from you) stating that this simple non-invasive act can pick up undetected heart defects. Even though we deliver less than 80 babies per year here, each will have the added pulse-ox screening. Your outreach in memory of Charlotte is making a difference.

Best wishes to all,


Needless to say, I was a mess of tears (happy tears) by the time I got to the end of the message. What an overwhelming feeling to know that our little girl is helping save lives. It doesn't matter if it's one baby screened or one thousand...the important thing is that it's being done!

Thank you, Bonnie for taking this on your shoulders and advocating for the babies who enter the world at Greene County Medical Center in Jefferson, IA. They may be small in numbers, but they are lucky to be born in a place that recognizes the importance of this life saving test!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Life Hands You Lemons

We've all heard the saying before - "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade."  

Like its that easy, huh??

Over the past few years it feels like our family has received a disproportionate share of lemons.  While we try our best to keep our chins up and to "make lemonade," there are definitely times when we become overwhelmed and need a little help squeezing all of those lemons.  Lucky for us, we have all of YOU around to help us out when those days come along.

This past Friday night Matt and I loaded up Mr. Harrison and went to a friend's house for a low-key evening.  We grilled brats, the boys had some very "serious" fantasy football discussions and we had the chance to snap our first pictures of the next generation of Ritchie/Metzler boys (more on that to come!).  One thing that I didn't expect from that weekend was to walk away with this...
In that envelope were the proceeds from a lemonade stand that our friend's daughter Rilyn had held that previous week, plus a little extra of her own money that she decided to throw in.  How awesome is that!?  I have teary eyes just looking at that picture and thinking about the huge smile on Rilyn's face when she handed over her contribution.  Rilyn and her sister Avery were big fans of Charlotte and it makes my heart happy to know that they still think of her.  Thank you so very much Rilyn for all of your hard work and for sharing with Charley's Heart (and thank YOU, Dan and Jenni for raising such awesome kiddos!)

Rilyn and Charlotte - Fall 2010
 Avery and Charlotte - Fall 2010
 All of our girlies
 Rilyn and Harrison - June 2012
 Avery and Harrison - June 2012

I mentioned above that we also introduced some new friends that night.  Matt and Dan were very excited to introduce their mini-me's to each other and snap their very first pictures together.  Mason and Harrison are bound to be best buds and if they are anything like their out world!  Here comes trouble!  I can't wait to watch them grow up together.  And while it makes me sad to know that there are two little kiddos missing from the picture below, I know that there are some very special angels watching over our boys each and every day.  

The Metzler and Ritchie boys.  Melt.My.Heart.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Just Like Daddy

For those of you who have met my husband Matt, you know that he's a pretty laid back, easy going guy (unless there is "competition" involved--then he's 100% hardcore).  You also know that 99.9% of the time when you see him in the summer he will be sporting the same old sleeveless t-shirts (emphasis on OLD), shorts, and a well-worn, faded hat.  On more than one occasion I have said to him "Matt, you have a good job--why do you feel like you have to dress like a homeless man?"  While that may be a tiny bit of an exaggeration, you get the point.

Example #1
Example #2
Example #3
Example #4
Example #5

I should have known that when we welcomed a little boy into our family that he would be led down the same path of hole-y t-shirts.  


Thanks for the cut-off Husker tee, NamNam.  Harrison loves it and it provided lots of laughs!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Favorite Moments

It's funny how life's moments repeat themselves.
I wouldn't trade them for the world.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

InstaBaby {1}

I find myself taking lots of pictures on my phone these days.  This is both a good AND a bad thing.  Good in the sense that my phone is usually pretty handy and I am able to catch those quick moments that would normally be missed if I had to run and grab my big camera.  Bad in the sense that I have lots of pictures just sitting on my phone and that they are definitely of a lesser quality.  I'm making more of a conscious effort these days to use the camera that we spent so much $$ on, but I'm sure that there will be lots and lots of phone pictures thrown in the mix as well.  

Today's post is my attempt at "cleaning house" on my phone...Instagram style.

Hospital Harrison
Sleepy Dude
 Sleeper-->Stink Face
(One of my favorites!)