Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Matty and Me

Today is Wednesday, February 20, 2013.
The day started out like many before it.  Matt woke up and headed to work around 7:30, I spent the morning snuggling with Harrison before driving to Omaha for work at noon.   Matt will be home by 5ish and I work until 8 with an hour drive afterwards.  He’s been working an obnoxious streak of overnights lately, so I’m guessing he’ll be sound asleep before Harrison and I would get home around 9.  That, combined with the fact that I have to be BACK in Omaha for work at 8:30 on Thursday and we are forcast to get a million inches of snow, means that the smart option is for H and I to have a slumber party at Grandma Debbie’s house.  I’m guessing with the forcast that the same will hold true for Thursday night as well. 
It’s not a big deal other than the fact that I would rather be sleeping in my own bed.
And that it means that H and I would get to see Matt for 2 days.
And H is sick.
And that it’s our anniversary.
Stupid snow.
So enough with my pouting...February 20, 2013 is a day meant for celebrating (even if we’re separated by 50 miles and a blizzard). We will weather this snow storm (cheesy, yes)...just like we have so many of life's storms in the past 4 years.  Through it all, Matt has been the one constant in my life keeping me sane, making me laugh until I cry, helping me realize that no matter how much it hurts...everything will be ok.  He is my strength.  My love.

Thank you, Matty, for walking this road with me, for loving me, putting up with me, and for being such an incredible husband and daddy to our 2 beautiful children.  I love you with all of my heart and feel so blessed to know that you love me right back.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Have a Seat

It took lots of hard work and concentration on Harrison's part, but it seems that he has FINALLY mastered the art of sitting up.  Up until a few weeks ago he would sit for (very) short periods, but was so distracted by everything going on around him.  While I love his curiosity, it wasn't helping with the whole upright deal!  One day he woke up and decided "enough is enough" and has been a sitting champ every since.  There are so many new things to experience as a sitter and he's loving all of them!

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb...our little monkey loves drumming on his drum!
 Pretty good at UN-stacking!
 Num num num...chomping on a duck.
 Talk about an overwhelming experience.  Not only did he get to sit in the cart like a big boy, but he also got to experience Toys R Us for the first time.  He was in total awe.
 If you're big enough to sit up in the tub, you're big enough for mom to dump water over your head.  Pretty sure he thought I was trying to kill him, but the tears and screaming were brief.  
 Snuggles with big sister Charlotte's blanket before bedtime!  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Holy House!

It's been almost two and a half weeks since my last house post and SO much has changed in that time.  The last pictures that I shared were taken on 1/25 and at that point the roof was framed, but not enclosed.  Imaging our surprise when we showed up the very NEXT day and saw this...

There were some pretty cold days that followed (yes, it was winter in Nebraska after all), but that didn't seem to slow the builders down.  Before we knew it they had the windows placed and the house wrapped! 
 One week later the siding was going up and the roof was prepped for shingles.
 And as of today we have this!

Everything has progressed so quickly thus far, and I have to keep reminding myself that at some point it's going to slow down.  Next week they are scheduled to start working on the interior workings of the house (plumbing and HVAC), and then we will meet to do our electrical walk-thru.  I would love to hear from people about "non-traditional" places that they have outlets/wish they had outlets (ex: an outlet in the walk-in closet so that I can keep an ironing board there).  Anyone??  Thoughts??

Thursday, February 14, 2013

That's a Wrap! Awareness Week 2013

As I mentioned in my post a few days ago, this past week we have been celebrating CHD Awareness Week.  And while the Little Miss Ritchie site may have been a little more quiet than normal, that doesn't mean that there weren't a lot of exciting things going on to help educate non-"Heartland" residents about CHD.  It was a week full of CHD Awareness Week proclamations, news/magazine features, fact sharing and personal story telling.  As our "official" week comes to an end, I thought that I would highlight a few of my favorite parts of the week!

There were yearly blog traditions {Interview with a Heart Mom}

There were incredible undertakings {Cora's Hopes and Dreams: Every 15 minutes}  
"Every 15 minutes, a child is born with a congenital heart defect. In honor of Congenital Heart Defect Awareness week (February 7 to 14) and National Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day, I’m sharing one story every 15 minutes today." ~Kristine Brite-McCormick 

There were stories in newspapers {Avery} {Cameron

There were stories on the evening news {Claire and Ryland}

There were articles in magazines {Pregnancy and Newborn}

And then there was my sister Angie.  

She started on February 7th by sharing a post on Facebook and announcing that she had "something" planned for each day of CHD Awareness Week.  Below is my copy-and-paste recap of what the past week has held!  

Day #1:  Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week starts today!! I'm going to post something everyday from today thru the 14th. I can only hope to have half the spirit for this cause that my sister and brother-in-law have every single day. Their passion and strength simply amazes me ❤

Day #2...If you worked in my building you'd get some yummies today! 
Passing out 4 dozen cookies one by one.
Day #3....I went to an event today called An Affair of the Heart. While it has nothing to do with CHD awareness, I got to feel the love of family. Look who I found!
Day #4...Midwest Heart Connection - what an awesome organization! They provide support for patients with CHD and their families, raise public awareness on CHD and very importantly, raise funds for pediatric cardiology research. I've had the opportunity to attend a few of their events and even had the winning bid in a silent auction for a painting I'll always treasure! Check them out!
Day #5...Breakin' the law today by not wearing an Integris-sponsored logo...but I don't really care. 
Day #6...we're still in full spirit for CHD Awareness Week! I see your cute baby and his socks...

{She had sent me these heart socks earlier in the week} 
and raise you this....
Day #7...the necklace I've been eyeing went on sale! Love having reminders of little Charlotte close to my heart.

And just when I thought the fun and games was over, along came today's post(s).  I laughed.  Then I laughed some more.  I laughed until I was disruptive.  I laughed until there were tears running down my face.  

In my hunt for the perfect "Day #8 Sweater", I made the mistake of stopping at Forever21. "Heart stuff? Oh yah, we have tons of totally cute heart stuff"...says the 14 year old boy working there. And so it began....
 I never want to be Forever21...ever.
 When in doubt, go to Old Navy.

Thank you, Angie for providing us with a week FULL of smiles and for helping us celebrate Charlotte and all of our CHD friends/angels.  I looked forward to your posts every day and couldn't have ended the week better if I had tried!  {PS...I'm STILL laughing!} 

CHD Awareness Week 2013 is officially in the books.  I encourage you to check out some of the links that I provided above.  There are so many incredible stories attached to each of them.   

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Good Morning, Love.

On Wednesday morning a little boy that I know decided that he was going to STARVE if he didn't get a bottle bright and early at 6:00 AM.  Not wanting my 20lb 7 month old to waste away (insert sarcasm) I groggily stumbled into his room, where he sucked down a full bottle and thankfully decided that he still had a little more sleep in him.  

Fast forward to 8:20.  I'm up and have had my morning cup of coffee.  Harrison is still sound asleep. 

On this particular morning, I'm not sure why, but I had an overwhelming urge to "see" him.  I peeked my head into his room and tip-toed across the carpet.  Before I knew it I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, staring through the side of his crib.  Sigh.  There he was, my sweet little sleeper.  I hardly moved a muscle in fear of disturbing him.  It was a sight that I never want to forget - his peaceful sleeping face, soft breaths, an occasional sleep sigh, Charley Bear laying near.  He melts me.

I'm not sure how long I sat there watching him, but eventually he started to stir.  I did what any sane mother would do and immediately laid flat on the floor so that he wouldn't know I was there.  Now instead of watching, I started listening.  His voice is different when he's just waking up.  There is no excited shouting, no monster voice...just my sweet baby boy and his soft baby words.  Words spoken only slightly louder than a whisper.  Again, I melt.

As I quietly sat up again, I whispered a happy "Good Morning" and received a perfect smile in return.

These are the moments that we often take for granted.  It's too easy to hear your child waking and to think "Just 10 more minutes, baby boy.  Mama needs to finish x, y, z."  How often do you take the time to simply sit, watch and listen?  What do I need to do that could possibly be more important than those precious waking moments?  I cherish these moments.  These sights.  These sounds.  

I know all too well that tomorrow everything could change. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

CHD Awareness Week 2013

Every year from February 7th to the 14th, members of the heart community rally behind each other in honor of CHD Awareness Week. We do this year round, but these seven days mark our "official" week--our opportunity to celebrate our children and to teach those around us about the worlds most common birth defect.

I envisioned this being a BIG week on the blog...a week filled with educational posts, statistics, stories...but here I am, 2 days in to our week, struggling to write just one simple post. I'm not sure what my deal is. I just can't seem to translate my thoughts into written word lately. I write a sentence, delete it, re-write the same sentence I just deleted...then I get frustrated and walk away. Sigh.  I just feel overwhelmed sometimes.

Maybe it's because all of this heart awareness (which I love) serves as a constant reminder of what we lost. My Facebook page is constantly filled with awareness posts--and with these posts come incredible stories of children who are defying all odds, children living with half hearts, children with faded scars running the lengths of their chests. There are pictures too...side-by-side images of of newborns with their open post-op chests and then that same child 3 years later appearing happy and healthy. Success stories.

These kiddos are amazing.
They are fighters.
They prove day in and day out that CHD doesn't have to be a death sentence.

Then there's that word. Death.
There are statistics like "Each year approximately 40,000 babies are born in the United States with a congenital heart defect. Thousands of them will not reach their first birthday and thousands more die before they reach adulthood."
There's the realization that our little girl is one of of those children taken too soon.

And here I a loss for words. Blank. Sad. Angry. Empty.

We have walked the CHD path...felt the fear, watched our child fight.  Now we honor her and hope with all of our hearts that in the future no parent has to experience the loss of a child due to a broken heart.

Charley Bear recovering from open heart surgery at only 1 week old.

Yes, I'm still taking part in awareness week...but this year I'm doing it in a much less "public" way.  I'm telling people about Charlotte in more intimate settings.  I'm encouraging pregnant co-workers to request pulse ox screening if their hospitals don't already screen.  I'm making sure that people understand, that they are educated.

Please help us in our mission to educate others.  Share our story.  Arm yourself with facts.  Have an "in your face" moment (!) with a pregnant friend to tell them the importance of screening.  Every little bit helps.

Visit the Children's Heart Foundation website and CHD Fact Sheet for more information.