Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 9

Today was the first day that the girls both took naps since the day before surgery. YEAH!!!!! Last night's bed time didn't go so well but Cassie woke up when she heard me getting dressed to take Chloe to speech this morning. Then she insisted on going too. So all 4 of us went to speech this morning. Thank goodness we have a great speech therapist and she didn't mind the extra company. Both girls were really tired all morning long and getting them to take naps today wasn't a real struggle. We are hoping to string a few good days and nights of sleep together for everyone. We could all use it.

Cassie's lip looks amazing. Our surgeon did a wonderful job!!!! We are very pleased.

This will be the last post of daily updates. I don't think there's going to be much change from day to day now so I'll update every few days.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 8

Day 8 and another day with no naps. But the girls both were asleep last night by 9:30pm -- that hasn't happened since before Sonny went to China. Maybe the trend will continue. Or not.

Our doctors appointment was at 4:50pm today. The dr said Cassie's lip looks great. See you in a month. Then we spent some time with the nurse. She was shocked when I mentioned something about the antibiotics. Meaning she needed to verify this info with the dr. When Peggy - the nurse - checked, she found as she expected that Cassie should not have been prescribed the antibiotics. So much for the intern/resident helping out. That's one less thing to worry about now. The dr also said to stop using Tylenol and only use ibuprofen -- that it would work better for this type of pain. And that the remaining stitches would dissolve in another week or two, but we could hasten the process by using Neosporin on her lip because it would help dissolve the stitches faster. Another week with the soft diet and no-nos at night and then back to a normal diet and no no-no's. Cassie can even suck her thumb if she wants to in another week. So basically keep doing what we are doing for another week.

Cassie was promised an umbrella last night if she would wear her no-no's. So after the dr appointment we went to Target and the girls weren't impressed with the two umbrellas they had. Instead they got Crayola fingerpaints for the bathtub, dresses and new baby penguins. We'll see what else we have to promise to get her to wear the no-no's for another whole week.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 7

So it's been one week since surgery. And we made it this far without any major injuries to Cassie's lip. However, she did wake up with dried blood on her bottom lip and part of the incision site. I'm sure she rubbed it on the blanket or something similar to that. I got scared when I first saw it then figured there was really nothing to get upset over -- what was done was done -- but in the end it was fine. Just a little more swollen than it was yesterday. Plus, she handed me another stitch that fell out -- I sure hope it's ok that they are falling/coming out. I guess we'll find out tomorrow at our Dr. appointment.

To add to the excitement around here, Chloe decided not to nap today and to start potty training herself. She actually did really good for an hour or two and peed 3 times on her potty. But then Cassie had an accident -- creating two loads of laundry -- then requested a princess pull-up. That ended the potty training for Chloe -- she only wanted a princess pull-up and was then peeing in her pull-up. Actually I'm kind of glad -- I don't have the energy to potty train them this week or next or maybe even the week after that. Why do they have to make pull-ups so appealing?

Here are the mug-shots from tonight. Cassie just hates having me take lip pictures. And if she would actually keep clothes on I could take normal pictures of her -- not just head shots.

If her lips look a little gooey, it's because I keep Aquaphor slathered on at all times. It's not a good look, but it keeps them from drying out.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 6

Today was a good day. Things are pretty much back to normal during the day. Other than no nap for Cassie. Unless you count the 15 minutes on the living room floor right before Chloe woke up from her nap. Cassie normally takes a 2 hour nap everyday. I sure hope she goes back to napping at some point. She sleeps more sound at night if she's had a nap during the day. Plus the 'alone' time with both girls napping is my tiny escape during the day -- I'd like that back.

Cassie's lip looks amazing for it only being 6 days after surgery. Everyday you can see the changes. Can't wait to see what it looks like when it's fully healed.

Here are some pictures I just took -- around 5pm -- as you can see from the look on her face she's getting tired of me taking lip pictures.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 5

Today, Monday, is the 5th day after surgery for Cassie. Her lip is really showing changes. Last night I gave her a bath and noticed something interesting. Until last night I thought she had two kinds of stitches in her lip. It looked like she had black (or very dark colored) stitches going up the center of her lip and a little above her lip. These seemed to be under the skin. Then it looked like two rows of white fabric stitches running almost the whole length of her lip. There is also a stitch or two way up in the middle-inside of the lip that appears to be going all the way through her lip. Now that a lot of the swelling has gone down, you can see that the dark stitches are not on the inside of her lip. They are most definitely on the outside of her lip. We can see the ends of the thread. Her lip was so swollen that it had engulfed the stitches, making it appear that they were under the skin. That's very interesting, and goes to show just how swollen her lip really was. Tonight I noticed that those dark stitches aren't as dark as they once were-- they are getting lighter. I'm beginning to think they once were white in color - the same white fabric stitches as every where else on her lip - and that the dark color is just blood stains. I have been putting aquaphor on her lips about 5 times a day -- most of the time at her request -- and I think it's helping to dissolve/remove the blood. I know -- kind of gross -- but very interesting to watch the changes. Her lips are starting to show glimpses of their new shape -- of course I think they already look adorable and kissable. But think it will be quite sometime before she will let mama kiss them.

Sonny was off today for MLK Day but has to go back to work tomorrow. Then it's all up to me to keep the girls quiet again. Daddy took Chloe to gymnastics tonight and Cassie and I stayed home and made cookies. This was a simple mix in a bag - just add butter and water. At least they both got to do something fun tonight. It's getting pretty boring around here. And if I have to watch one more episode of Dora, well, I just might scream.

Cassie is feeling more like herself the past two days. I know this because she begged to take her pajamas off yesterday morning so she could be a ballerina and just wear a diaper and tutu. Slowly, she's getting back to her spunky self. We let her keep the no-nos off during the day. She still has to wear them at night, and theoretically at nap time. I say theoretically because she has yet to take a nap since her surgery. I expect that to change soon. Cassie usually loves her sleep. She doesn't seem to mind the no-nos at night. The nights are still difficult for everyone. If it's not Cassie waking up, it's Chloe. Add in the no-nos and a sore mouth or a sore mouth with very dry lips and stitches, and everyone ends up losing an hour or two of sleep.

I think we have turned a corner with the issues stemming from surgery -- the first 3 days were really tough. But we seem to have figured out what works for everyone. Poor Chloe is still getting the short end of the attention stick but we'll make that up to her when we can. She does seem to understand it sometimes, even if just a tiny bit.

Below are pictures from today -- day 5 -- from about 6pm.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 4

Here are two pictures of Cassie's lip on day 4 after surgery. I had to trim two stitches today that were hanging down about 1/4 of an inch -- not sure how they got that way. Oh wait -- I know -- we are dealing with a 34 month old -- anything is possible. And neither child napped today. Only 4 days until we see the surgeon and hopefully get these stitches removed.

This first picture is from around 10am.

This second picture is from 4:30pm.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dental appointment update

No crowns today. The dentist was running an hour behind. About 2:10 Chloe was given more sedation medication. At 3pm I had to lay her in the dental chair. It wasn't happening. I had to force her to lay down. She cried mama and screamed, while I held her hands down and out of the way. All the while she kicked my arm -- thank goodness she had removed her boots about an hour before this. The dentist talked softly to her -- he actually told me not to talk to her. He cleaned her teeth and gave another fluoride treatment. He said she did better this appointment with him than the last. I'm not too sure about that. Anyway, we are going back on February 12th to try it all again. This next time he'll use a different sedative medicine in the office and a nasal spray. This time we have to be there at 9:30am. That means breakfast will be really early this time, because Chloe can have nothing to eat or drink after 7am.

We must be crazy.....

to be going back downtown for Chloe's dental work today -- just three days after Cassie's surgery. For the record, we didn't really plan it like this. Cassie's surgery was scheduled for February 1 but there was cancellation in the surgeon's schedule this week so we jumped at the chance to get it done early.

Yesterday was a LONG day for me. Sonny went to work and that left me alone with both girls. Actually the day time was really ok, other than the fact that Cassie didn't nap until 3:30pm. It also appears that the codeine is making her nervous and a little wired. This happened after her morning dose yesterday and her dose at dinner time. It was a long night. It was 1:15am when Cassie finally gave in and went to sleep. She is just "not herself". This morning she got plain old children's Tylenol. I think as long as we keep her quiet and just plopped on the couch watching tv, other than today's trip to the dentist, she'll be fine.

At dinner last night, she hit her mouth on the kitchen table and it started to bleed a tiny, tiny bit. Then at night as she was jumping around and doing somersaults in her crib -- with her no-no's on -- it started to bleed yet again.

I totally lost it and screamed at everyone to go to sleep. Hahaha. Like that worked. That was around 9:30pm. This went on -- not the screaming by me -- until after midnight.

All things considered, Cassie is doing great this morning. And her lip looks good too.

Today is the big dental crown day for Chloe. She gets nothing to eat or drink now -- since 10am -- but we packed her full of eggs, yogurt, milk and juice. She should be good until we have to leave at 12:50pm. Yes, it's timed that precise since she has to have some anti-anxiety meds 30 minutes before we get to the clinic. Then when we get there she'll have some more. Please pray for Chloe today. Prayers for mama wouldn't hurt either. Here's a picture of Chloe from this morning. Poor baby isn't getting a lot of attention these past couple of days. I feel so bad.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 2 -- morning & evening

How our day started after both girls refused their scrambled eggs. And this is how Cassie spent most of the day. Chloe spent most of the day trying to bounce off the walls or drive mama to the funny farm or to the bar.

This was tonight -- while daddy was on his one and a half hour long conference call -- not that I'm complaining or anything. Cassie is doing pretty good all things considered. I think I'm having a harder time with it -- trying to keep Cassie still and her sister under control. I have high hopes that tomorrow will be easier.

Day of surgery -- 1/12/11

An update on Cassie's surgery (this post is from Daddy, as Mommy is currently occupied.)

Cassie's surgery went well. There were no surprises and no complications. Of course there is still recovery, removal of stitches, and a few other things to keep us awake but the riskiest part is behind us. The next three weeks will be, shall we say, interesting.

Cassie was sent home with a "no-no". A no-no is a pair of arm splints designed to keep the elbows from bending. These are connected by a strap that runs behind her back. The end-game is to keep her hands away from her mouth. Not surprisingly, Cassie is not amused. She would very much like to NOT have a no-no. But for the next three weeks, she will. I like to think that the term "no-no" is a reference to the amount of sleep the parents get while a child is wearing one of these things. There is no truth to this, but I'm having fun with the idea anyway.

Also in store for the next three weeks is a soft diet. Soup, oatmeal, purees, etc. Also, no valves in any sippy cups, as she must not be allowed to suck. Right now, she prefers to be fed through an oral syringe. This works well so long as the food is pureed. The only trouble with this is that Chloe wants all the same things as Cassie gets. That includes being fed through a syringe.

Cassie seems to be herself today, which is to say that she is smiling, laughing, and wanting to run around the house. We've got her on Tylenol 3, so her trademark energy is tempered just a bit. Last night, she was not herself. I think that was the Versed working its way through her system. She's telling us when she's in pain, so that's a big help.

FYI - for any parents out there who find it challenging to get your child to take Tylenol 3, here is what we are doing. The medicine comes in liquid form with no flavoring, which means it tastes like industrial chemicals. We pull the prescribed amount into an oral syringe, and then fill the remainder of the syringe with vanilla syrup we normally use to flavor coffee. That's a so-called simple-syrup (two parts sugar, one water, brought to a boil, then cooled) flavored with vanilla extract.

Cassie has a followup appointment next Thursday (Jan 20). Hopefully her stitches will be removed then. She also has some dissolving stitches which will need no further intervention.

Now for few things to make you smile:
1. Detroit Children's Hospital does a lot of really nice things for the kids. There was a "Life Coach" assigned to Cassie. A Life Coach's job is to keep the kids at ease, and I have to say that the one we had was very good at her job. She had a bag full of toys and a bright smile and soothing voice. Cassie still has a lot of anxiety issues, so strangers are always hit and miss with her. When she's upset, it's more miss than hit. However, her Life Coach won her over in just a few short minutes. She stayed with Cassie all the way to surgery, leaving only when Cassie was completely under.

2. When we got home, I went to the local pharmacy to pick up Cassie's prescriptions (antibiotics, Tylenol 3). I took Chloe with me to keep her out of Momma's hair while she tended to Cassie. At the back of the pharmacy, while waiting for the prescriptions to be filled, an employee came up to me and said "There's been a report of unbelievable cuteness near the pharmacy counter. I've been sent to investigate." Then she asked me if she could give Chloe a balloon. (Gee, I thought she was talking about me. Bummer.) Of course I said yes, but that turns out to have been a small mistake. I should have said that I can accept zero or two balloons but not one. When I got home, a squabble ensued over the one balloon. So I packed Chloe up in the car and went back. I told them the story and they gave me five more balloons. They SELL these balloons at the pharmacy, but today they were free. There is nothing people won't do for you when you've got a cute kid in tow.

And now, some pictures.

Before surgery, enjoying a Slurpee. Doctor's orders. See prior post.

All smiles. She knows she's going to the hospital today so they can fix her lip. We've been telling her for a few days. She knows, but she doesn't fully understand what's in store.

Pre-op. Playing with bubbles given to her by the life coach. Chloe's in the background wearing a resident surgeon's hat. The resident had come to see Cassie earlier. In the world of "hits and misses" (see above), this guy was a miss. He knew it too, so he took off his hat and said "See? I'm not a doctor anymore. Wanna wear my hat?" She wasn't having any of that, so Chloe ended up with the hat.

Here is a close-up of Cassie's lip, pre-op. The surgeon has been in the room, and made a few marks with a purple marker.

Several hours later, Cassie wakes up. Momma is there to hold her. She's really feeling the anesthetic at this point. Barely awake.

Here's a closer view.

And here's a shot a few hours later, at home. You can see the stitches protruding from the bottom of her lip. On her right arm is one half of a "no-no". When Cassie gets tired or stressed, her thumb finds its way into her mouth. She's going to be in this no-no for three weeks. It will be interesting to see if the habit gets broken.

Another shot - with better lighting.

And now a close-up. Poor baby.

Another close-up, with flash.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Surgery update

The hospital just called with our surgery time and instructions. The surgeon has a very full schedule tomorrow and Cassie's surgery is scheduled for 1:30pm. We were hoping it was going to be early in the morning but we'll of course make this work. Here's the breakdown of our schedule:

11:30pm tonight -- I think we'll be having a snack. Maybe some soup -- Cassie loves soup. It's going to be a late night for everyone.

Midnight tonight until 10:30am -- Cassie can have apple juice, slurpees, and popsicles. The colder the better -- is the instructions. I think daddy will run out for slurpees when Cassie wakes up - that will be our breakfast. By the way, my girls have never had sluprees -- this will be the first -- I'm hoping it will keep Cassie distracted enough that she won't notice that she's not getting food. I'm also hoping that between the slurpees and maybe playing with some play-doh, it will keep her busy until we have to leave for the hospital.

10:31am until surgery -- Cassie can have nothing to drink/eat.

10:31am until 11:30am -- Work magic to keep Cassie busy since she can't anything to eat or drink. We only have to do this for an hour -- as we'll be leaving at 11:30am for the hospital.

11:31am until 12:00pm -- drive to hospital.

12:00pm until surgery -- Registration and then I have some mini little play-dohs that have molds in the lids -- we'll be taking these to the waiting area for the girls to keep busy with. I also think I have a roll-up placemat thing that will work for the play-doh. Plus their laptops will help keep them busy and will help keep Chloe busy during Cassie's surgery. Yes, we are taking her with us.

I'm also going to beg for them to give Cassie some versed when we get to pre-op. Our hospital doesn't normally give it to the kids before surgery. Only in certain cases. I'm praying I can make it happen tomorrow.

I took this picture a couple of days ago while the girls were playing with their play-doh. It's a great pictures to show what Cassie's lip looks like now. The before. The lip mama loves. The lip that brought us together. Now, it's time to reshape her lip like we have reshaped her life the past 20 months. Her lip won't ever be 'prefect' and neither will her new life with us. But with God guiding the surgeon tomorrow and God guiding Sonny and I to raise her I think both will end up being amazing -- just like our little girl. Please keep Cassie in your prayers.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Surgery, sedation, and soft diets...

That's what the next week or two holds for us. Let's back up a few weeks and I'll explain.

I'll start with Chloe. Both Cassie and Chloe had their routine 6-month teeth cleanings on December 8th. Cassie's teeth looked great and no cavities. I'll leave out my disappointment with the way her cleaning was done and the stress Cassie was put through -- let's just say it won't happen again that way. So back to Chloe, Chloe's hygienist did a great job with Chloe and her cleaning went well. However, Chloe has two more cavities. She had two when she came home from China and they were filled and sealed when she had her ear tubes done on May 21st -- both were in her one year top molars. This time I was told Chloe would need two fillings and would need to be sedated. I had no problem with that but I did have a major problem with their sedation policy. I refused to comply or make the needed appointment. After a few phone calls with different office personnel, we were asked to bring Chloe back in to see the head dentist/man in charge on Saturday December 11th. We complied with that request. :)

After the dentist examined Chloe's mouth and she got prizes for her and her sister, I got a very informative biology lesson on teeth formation and problems that can occur with these formations. The bottom line is that all Chloe's teeth -- except the one 2 year molar yet to come in -- have major amounts of hypercalcification. Basically that means her enamel didn't form correctly on spots of her teeth -- you can see this by the discoloration -- very white spots - on her teeth. This of course means these spots/areas are very weak too. Most of Chloe's hypercalcification is at the base of her teeth -- making it very hard to fill should the need arise. If they drill in these weak areas her teeth might crumble. That means that instead of two fillings, Chloe will need two crowns. One crown will be on a 2 year molar that's only been around for about 3 months and the other will be on a bottom front tooth. Oh, and that front tooth also needs a partial root canal. Nice. Not! Her crown on the back will be silver and the one on the front tooth will be resin. And one more thing -- Chloe will more than likely end up with a mouth full of crowns on her baby teeth. Thank goodness baby teeth crowns are much cheaper than permanent teeth crowns. So we'll be able to afford the special xylitol toothpaste and oral rinse Chloe (and Cassie) will now be using to help ward off future dental issues. We are also considering putting them both on oral fluoride treatments -- yes, it does cause discoloration of the teeth -- a white floral pattern -- but it's better to have discoloration of your teeth than no teeth at all.

Then the dentist and I discussed and debated his office's sedation policy and we both agreed that complying with my request was going to work out best for our family situation. Score one for mama -- she move mountains for her baby girls.

Chloe will be having this dental work completed on Saturday January 15th. And the 'main/top dentist/director guy' will be doing the work himself. :) That also makes mama very, very happy. We will give Chloe an oral sedative at home just before we leave for the clinic and then she'll be given more when we arrive. 40 minutes later, the procedure will start and nitrous oxide gas will also be given. I will get to stay in the room the whole time -- as I promised I would be good and not interfere. As long as the sedation works -- sometimes it doesn't -- please pray for her -- we'll be able to ease the pain she has right now with her teeth and get the repairs/crowns done. Yes, she complains that her front tooth hurts -- my poor baby girl. With Chloe having a cleft lip and palate we expected lots of issues with her teeth, palate, braces, palate expanders, and so on -- but never did I think she'd have two crowns before she was 31 months old.

Back to Cassie. When we got Cassie's referral pictures, she hadn't had her cleft lip repaired yet. Cassie's lip was repaired in China and we didn't find out this info until right before we traveled to get her. Once seeing Cassie we knew she would need a lip revision at some point. For the record I LOVE Cassie's lips, her slightly over collagen-filled look -- even if it's only on one side -- but I know that she will disown me as a teenager if we don't do what we can to even out her sweet little lips now. I guess part of me knows that God gave her that lip so that we'd find her and she'd find us. Having surgery on that lip takes away that visual reminder on how we found each other. It's one of those times as parents we have to do what's right as opposed to what we want to do.

When we saw the cleft team in May we mentioned that Cassie has some problems with biting her lip where it's very thick and that in the winter it gets very dry on that side causing her to pick at it and it gets a tiny blister on it sometimes. Because of this the surgeon wanted to see Cassie in 6 months to talk about doing a lip revision. She wanted to wait until Cassie's speech was better before doing the surgery. Our appointment to see the surgeon was on December 2nd. Everyone agreed that it was time for Cassie's lip revision to be scheduled. For the record, Cassie didn't get a vote. She HATES doctors or anyone who belongs to the medical field. We scheduled Cassie's surgery for February 1st -- the first available time on the surgeon's schedule. It's going to be an outpatient surgery. She'll have some dissolving stitches on/in her lip and will be on a soft diet for about a week. The surgery itself seems pretty straight forward and they have only booked the operating room for 2 hours so we think the actual surgery part should be fairly quick. The hardest thing about the recovery is going to be trying to keep Cassie or her sister from bopping her in the mouth.

Everything was set for the 15th (Chloe) and the 1st (Cassie) and then the surgeon's office called this past Wednesday. They told us that they had a cancellation on Wednesday January 12, and wanted to know if we wanted to move Cassie's surgery up. After a few phone calls to Sonny at work to see how his schedule looked, we decided to take the opening and Cassie is now having her surgery on Wednesday the 12th -- this coming Wednesday. Chloe will be having her dental work 3 days later on the 15th. This going to be a busy, crazy, stressful week for all of us. Adding to the chaos will be the fact that Sonny has evening conference calls on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 8pm to 9:30pm. This always messes with the girls' bedtime routine. I'm hopeful that both the surgery and dental procedures will go well and that by February 1st things will be back to the normal crazy busy around here.

Please keep both girls in your prayers next week as they have tough weeks in store for them.

Friday, January 07, 2011


This morning the girls and I decided to head out for some shopping. I already had Chloe buckled in her car seat and was buckling Cassie in. Here's our conversation.

Cassie: Where did dada go?
Me: To work.
Cassie: I LOVE dada!!
Me: I love dada too.
Cassie: I love mama. I love YiYa. (Chloe's Chinese name is YiYu -- Cassie calls her YiYa) I love kitty. I love Butterscotch. (our new 'fake' pony)
Then she paused for second and said, I love God.
Me: (shocked) You love God?
Cassie: Yes mama, and I love Jesus too.
Me: (near tears and kissing her nose) I love you baby girl!

This week was long and very stressful for me -- just over tired, trying to get back into a routine after the holidays, etc, etc. This was the prefect ending to my week and a reminder that everyday is a new day and another chance to get it right. Hearing those words pass Cassie's lips helped me put everything back into perspective. And heartwarming too to hear 5 days before my baby girl has surgery. (more on that in the next post)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Short and sassy

the girls and the new hair!!! Last night both girls got their hair cut into super cute little dos. I just love them and so does daddy. Cassie refuses to have anything in her hair, no pony-tails, barrettes, headbands, hats, etc. She'll play with them and act silly putting them on -- for about 3 minutes then she takes them off. Plus, Cassie's hair is very, very, thin and fine.

For church on Christmas Eve I asked her to let me put her hair in a pony-tail for Jesus' birthday. She said ok. I asked her and Chloe to please not take them out because Jesus really wanted to see them with pony-tails. (That's not a lie -- I really believe that Jesus did want to see His baby girls with pony-tails.) They left them in through the service and for pictures, then before I could turn the camera off the pony-tail holders were out. I'm just thankful they left them in that long.

As for Chloe, she seems to have nerve endings on each piece of hair. If she even sees you coming towards her with a comb she starts in with the 'ouch, ouch, ouch'. It's even worse once you use the comb -- real tears appear.

Now they are sporting new dos and this morning when I combed Chloe's hair there where no tears, and not one ouch. I did have to chase her down but that's only because she was being a snot. :) And now Cassie's hair looks so cute, healthy and so much thicker.

I know I posted way too many pictures of their hair. But they look so cute and grown up I couldn't resist.

And by the way -- this was our first day with play-doh. It went really, really well. It must be the new hair dos.

Q&A -- the duck potty chair is this one:

Fisher-Price Ducky Fun 3-in-1 Potty

I got them on Amazon for $25.00 each.