Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Total Eclipse!

You guys. I saw a total eclipse in my backyard. And it was EPIC.

I had been so excited about the eclipse. I bought the glasses in May. The week before it happened, I had anxiety dreams that I missed it.

IMG_7317
IMG_7319

That morning for breakfast I made egg-in-the-hole and sausage eclipses. We finished eating just five minutes before first contact, and all rushed out to peer at the tiny beginnings of the moon's bite out of the sun.

For the next hour, we played with cameras and distracted Ivy with play, as the light started to get weaker and stranger, looking up periodically at the progression. We saw Sirius and Venus come out pretty early on, and though the light was super weak the shadows were still super strong. It got chilly.

We set out a sheet for shadow bands, but weren't able to see any. And I didn't catch Baily's Beads either, nor the diamond ring at the very beginning of totality, but then suddenly it was cold and dark and I whipped off my glasses and THERE IT WAS. It was bigger than I expected, mostly because I'd been watching it for an hour through the eclipse glasses. I could hear the neighbors cheering from their backyards. I kept saying things like "that is AMAZING!" because it turns out we overuse words like that and have none left for the rare things that actually are amazing. I actually cried a little bit. Ivy watched too. And then the diamond ring sparkled and we rushed to put our glasses back and I covered Ivy's eyes until it was bright enough (a few seconds later) that I was sure she wouldn't try to look again.

I may have taken one halfhearted photo of totality with my iPhone, knowing full well it wouldn't come out. It was a reflex. Mostly I just sat in awe. And suddenly it was over and the light got stronger and the day got warmer and now I have to wait seven years and travel across the country if I want to see the next one. Which I do. Because that was epic.

IMG_7323

Friday, June 23, 2017

TWO!

Last Sunday, my brand new baby who was only born a few weeks ago turned TWO!



At her check-up the other day, she was 23 pounds and 34". Skinny little string bean, like usual. She's starting to become more sure of herself, in terms of being able to traverse stairs and rocks and roots and things, and now is the time that I get to start having mini heart attacks every time I take her to the playground.

Language is also through the roof. It's so fun to be able to start having real conversations with her, ones where she can speak almost full sentences. She gets the concept of funny, which apparently doesn't usually happen this early, but knowing her parents it makes sense. She also gets frustrated quickly, which is her mama through and through.



We took our teardrop trailer out for a four-day road trip/camping trip last weekend for her birthday. We bookended two camping nights with two nights at my mom's house, because we haven't taken the trailer out much and need some practice with it. And with camping with a toddler. The first day we went to the John Day Fossil Beds and camped in a campground east of Pendleton, and it rained on us. And I forgot the propane so we had no way to make coffee in the morning. Oopsies. Then the second day we wandered around Pendleton, spent some time fixing the hatch on the trailer (it wasn't latching correctly), had a yummy lunch and spent the afternoon and night at a KOA. KOA's are not really my favorite, but we wanted something easy. It had a little playground, which was nice for part of the time, but the rest of the time older kids were throwing gravel down the slide and climbing on the roof of the play structure, so we couldn't play there.

Back at Mom's, we had a sweet little family birthday party. Mom made white cake with strawberries and whipped cream frosting, and Ivy got some great gifts, including a balance bike that she's been talking about for weeks but now refuses to ride. Heh. And an orange soprano ukulele, one that she can "tune" and bang on the floor and stretch out the strings all she wants, to save my ukes from toddler abuse.

This week we've seen some signs of sleep regression. It's a combination of the normal 2-year-old regression and not having her daycare nap routine, I think. Our daycare provider takes two weeks off in the summer and this year Cory is staying home with her the whole time (besides our extended weekend). He's had kind of a rough time getting her down for naps, but on the bright side I was able to put her down for bed over an hour ago and then come downstairs and eat ice cream in peace. And write a blog post in peace. Ahhh.

Overall - she's a pretty cool kid. I feel very lucky every day, especially around her birthday when I pull memories of her birth and details of her NICU stay and our days apart, recovering in separate hospitals; and mull them over. They always bring with them those old feelings of loss and longing that were such a big part of my life for so long. They're still there, they'll always be there, but they've got a slightly different hue now that Ivy is our world, colored with gratitude and joy every time she smiles.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Another Dilation

Miss Ivy was a trooper yet again last Friday, when she had what the surgeon called a prophylactic dilation. And after three weeks of eating everything in smoothie form, she was definitely ready for it!

We had an early call time again, 5:30am for a 7:30am procedure. Cory stayed behind because he had some kind of stomach bug, and as a little bit of insurance against catching the bug, Ivy and I slept in our little teardrop trailer out on the patio. It rained a little bit overnight, and it smelled and felt so good to be breathing in the fresh wet air. Even with a window open and the fan lid up a bit, we were still nice and warm with long sleeves and one comforter. I knew I wouldn't sleep well anyway, trying my hardest to wake up on time, so it worked out well to sleep in the trailer.

Up we got, and Cory made me some coffee for the road, and we made it to the hospital and got checked in. Ivy was more interested in the ride-in cars last time than she was this time; we still made it around the hallway loop several times but she ended up having a little tantrum because she wanted the toy pterodactyl that was hanging from the ceiling in the nurses' station. Luckily, that was towards the end of our wait, and soon the nurse came in with some Versed to help Ivy relax. Like last time, Ivy grabbed the syringe and wouldn't let go of it all the way to pre-op.

We did a little more waiting in pre-op, and we said hello to the anesthesiologist and the nurse who was assisting in the room, and the surgeon. And then they wheeled her bed away and I showed myself to the waiting area.

Tangent: I really wish there were no TVs in the waiting room. The first time we were in there, someone had turned on a news channel whose programming tends to lean the opposite of me, politically. This time was more benign - a show about cats - but it was asinine and seemed to be more commercials than programming. I found a spot at a table as far away from it as I could.

When the surgeon was finished, he came out and chatted with me for a few minutes. He said everything went easily and well, and he didn't see any reason for us to see him again (as long as we keep cutting her meat extra extra small). He told me to make an appointment for a followup in July, but to cancel it if she's doing well. That sounded good to me!

A few minutes later, a nurse led me into post-op, where another nurse was holding a rather upset Ivy. She did NOT want to be held by the strange lady. They brought me a rocking chair and we cuddled for a few minutes, during which a still-kinda-drugged Ivy lost control of her head a bit and bonked it on the foot of her bed. Oopsies. When she woke up a little more, we were escorted back down to the day surgery unit so that Ivy could have a popsicle and get her IV out. The nurse pulled the TV over to our chair and turned on Minions for Ivy, who was uninterested (and neither was I). Luckily, it wasn't much time before we were discharged.

The rest of the day consisted mainly of Ivy being tired, sleeping fitfully, and being cranky while she was awake. I stopped for lunch with my dad and sister before we headed home, and for the first time ever I had to leave a restaurant to keep Ivy from disturbing the other customers. She threw a spoon, which she never does, so I asked for a box and the two of us walked up and down the street for awhile and petted a dog while my dad and sister finished their lunches. I really think that, though some of it was that she was tired and a little sore, the rest of it was that she just REALLY wanted real food and wanted no part of the pouch I brought for her. The surgeon told us to start re-introducing chewable foods at around the week mark, but I knew how tired she was of her diet so I decided to start easing her into them the next day, and we both enjoyed a weekend of fight-free meals! Hooray! She was happy to eat what I gave her.

I hope with these dilations that we are now set up for success. As much as I appreciate our surgeon for all that he has done for Ivy (and that's an understatement - he saved her life!), I'm happy to not have to see him anymore. So that's our goal: cut the protein smaller, and get this girl eating!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

#3

Ivy is such a champ. It's so amazing to watch this kid maneuver through hospital visits and strangers poking her.

On Wednesday morning, I called the surgeon's office as soon as they opened. The doctor who works with us often (she works with the surgeon and often our routine checkups were with her) called back after having made an appointment for us with the radiologist for early afternoon, to give us some time to get up there, and said that the surgeon had earmarked Wednesday morning for us for another dilation, if the esophagram showed anything. So Cory opted to stay home, since we were going to just go up and come back.

Ivy was pretty nervous this time, but she laid on the table bravely, and only cried a little bit. They filled a sippy cup with a contrast she hadn't had before (it's always been barium before) and we did what we always do - suited up in our lead aprons and fed her while she laid on her back and then on her right side. And when we were done, I snapped a quick cellphone picture of the screen. (I'm gathering a collection of them, apparently.)



We ran upstairs to the surgery office when we were finished, and our regular nurse helped us out, before the surgeon came in. I told him what I thought it was - lunch meat - and he said "ah, yes, protein again! Just have to cut it smaller!" I told him she had eaten that same lunch meat cut in that same size a dozen times before with no trouble, though I was more telling my guilty self. He offered to admit us so that we could spend the night in the hospital and not have to go home and come back, but last time we did that was awful, so I stayed far away from that idea. Then he ran off to check on insurance stuff and never came back, but another nurse came in to tell us what time to show up in the morning (5:30).

Back at home, at bedtime, I tried sideline nursing Ivy in bed. But the milk was coming back up, so Cory had to get her to bed without me. It was hard, but after quite awhile she was out. And then of course she woke up a few minutes after I went to bed myself, and I put her on the other side of me to try to nurse her back to sleep and the milk went down just fine. So the meat must have been on one side of her esophagus but not the other. She went back to sleep, and Cory went to sleep, and I stayed up for quite awhile longer, letting my brain process for awhile.

3am came pretty early, but one nice thing about going to the big city at dawn is the manageable traffic and the plentiful parking spaces. Ivy slept in the car, so by the time we got checked into the children's day surgery unit (because it was scheduled, we weren't admitted) she was well-rested and in a good mood. That made alllll the difference.

We had an hour until we had to be in the OR, so after taking vitals we were free to roam around the halls. There were several other kids there too, but most chose to stay in their little rooms, so the halls were wide open for us. In one corner, a dozen ride-on toys were parked, so we walked around the halls about sixteen times, pushing Ivy in cars and ambulances and taxis and trucks, until we were summoned back to our room to be transported to the OR.

The nurse gave Ivy a syringe of an anti-anxiety medicine, so that she would be relaxed when they took her away from us, and Ivy sucked on the empty syringe for half an hour as we got checked into the OR and waited to talk to the anesthesiologist and the surgeon. I overheard the people next to us saying goodbye to their infant who was about to have a 6-hour heart surgery, and I wanted to give them hugs. Ivy settled into her bed as the meds kicked in, and they wheeled her into the back.



Since we're experts at this now, we knew how much time we had (and we were more relaxed!) so instead of huddling in the surgery waiting area, we walked over to the cafeteria and grabbed breakfast and coffee and brought it back to the waiting room with us. It was really nice to feel so much less anxiety over the procedure, even though there was still a lot of anxiety over her general condition and what we were going to do to keep food from getting stuck again. But breakfast made the hour go quickly, and then the surgeon came in to talk to us.

The surgeon had poked the stuck food down her esophagus, and with just a little nudging it went down easily. He said again that though he had dilated that day and planned to do it again, it wasn't a stricture that was causing the food to get stuck, it was a lack of motility at the original repair site. I asked again if we should just avoid meat altogether, and he said it wasn't necessary, we just had to cut it up very small (like mincing, I assume). And he assured us that it would get better (we know that, but it's nice to hear).

After another few minutes, a nurse escorted me into post-op, where Ivy was just waking up. It was quite a difference from last time, when she was so sleep-deprived from the horrible sleepless night in the hospital that she half-woke from anesthesia and then took a three hour nap. She woke up, took a few minutes to be groggy, and then by the time we carried her back up to our little room in the day surgery unit she was doing pretty well. She always has some big coughs just afterwards, and tape residue around her mouth, and her breath smells like plastic for a few hours. The nurses brought her apple juice and a grape popsicle, and she made short work of them. And then we got our discharge papers and got to go home! As much as I appreciate the hospital, it was really nice to be able to play in the halls and be in and out relatively quickly, and not have to constantly be on the monitors in the day surgery unit.



I assume we had a prescription for painkillers (we did last time), but we didn't fill it (and didn't last time, either). We went home and gave Ivy some Tylenol in the afternoon, which was all she needed. And Ivy is back on purees and liquid until she goes in for another dilation on June 9th. So 22 days of liquids. Poor thing.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Guilt

Last Thursday was Ivy's post-procedure check-up, after two weeks on pureed food. We had a good discussion with the surgeon to ask what next steps were. He said to keep giving her chicken, just cut it up smaller. And when she got something stuck, even if she is able to bring it back up herself, he wanted to know about it; as he would likely dilate again, even though he thinks biggest reason things are getting stuck is the lack of mobility at the surgery site.

I've been struggling with some pretty heavy guilt today. When I picked Ivy up from daycare, I got a report that something (likely lunch meat) had gotten stuck in her esophagus at lunch, and while water was getting down at the end of the day, purees weren't. I confirmed it at dinner - some purees were getting down, and plenty of water too (thank goodness she wasn't being obstinate and spitting everything else), but that was it.

So the current plan is to monitor her through the night and into the morning, and call the surgeon in the morning if things don't get better. She has had lunch meat stuck before, many months ago, and it ended up coming up the next morning without me even knowing it was stuck, since breast milk was getting past it, so I'm hoping this is a similar situation. I was able to get her to chug some "milkshake" (Pediasure) earlier, and I'm hoping it forced the food down. In the meantime, she's in a happy mood, and is singing and playing and being generally happy and normal.

But boy, this guilt. Is this happening because I'm not cutting her food small enough, even after two trips to the surgeon? I'm definitely less conservative than Cory is, in terms of bite sizes, because almost everything goes down just fine... until it doesn't. Is it something we just have to live with, and nothing we do will keep it from happening? I have no idea what the norm is, because there's such a range of severity with EA/TEF kids and most of the moms in the Facebook support group (the ones that post, anyway) have kids with g-tubes and oral aversions. I just keep coming back to how I should be more careful, and cut everything so much smaller than I think I should. I don't know. I just know that it feels a lot like my fault, whether or not it is.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Again?!

On Sunday evening we turned on Fantasia while Cory and I ate some Trader Joe's orange chicken and rice, and I started working on something for Ivy for dinner. Ivy popped over to my bowl for a few bites, and then sat down for dinner... and nothing stayed down. Crap. I knew exactly what bite of my chicken was the culprit. I tried pushing water, and she mostly just spit it down her front, and whatever did go down came back up. I tried pineapple juice, and she had a few tiny sips (which came back up) and wasn't interested in any more. So then we hopped in the tub. Usually I tell her not to drink the bath water because it's got icky bottom germs in it, but this time I let her help herself, and filled up her little bath toys with cold water from the sink as well. She drank quite a bit, but it all came up. So we got out of the bath and got in bed around 8, and I tried nursing her; she could get about ten seconds in and then started poking her fingers down her throat and I'd have to quickly push her into a sitting position so she didn't choke on the milk.

So I called the surgeon's office. I knew if nothing at all was getting down, it was time to start worrying about dehydration. The on-call resident conferred with her partner and called me back, saying "wait for a call from the hospital, saying a bed is ready for Ivy, and come on up." I got off the phone and had a tiny tantrum at the foot of the stairs. I couldn't believe I let it happen again. I was SO upset at myself.

While we waited for the hospital to call us, we hurriedly packed some toiletries and I got dressed. We left Ivy in her pajamas and grabbed some clothes for the next day, and a few dolls and books. It didn't take long for the hospital to call us, and we were on our way by 9:30pm.

Cory had gotten up that morning at 2am, as he was working on a presentation for work, so he was super tired by then and I drove us up in the dark and the pouring rain while he and Ivy slept a little. It was actually a really nice drive, just 'cause usually Portland traffic is the pits. But it was nice and light at that time!

We got to the hospital and went up to the pediatric unit, and settled in. The night nurses put Ivy's pulse oximeter on her toe, and set to work putting in an IV (for fluids) while she sat on my lap. She bled pretty good, but they got it in, and she DIDN'T CRY. I was amazed. She barely flinched at all. Kind of cracked me up later to think that she's the one who says "owie!" any time a kid touches her. Silly thing. The on-call doctor who I'd talked to on the phone also stopped by to check in on us and have us sign a consent form. "It looks like [a surgeon we hadn't met] can get Ivy in at 9 or 10, but she might be able to switch her with the 8am surgery." That was great news

By midnight, the nurses had finished taking vitals and let us go to bed. But by that time, Ivy was exhausted and stressed out, and wasn't able to nurse to sleep, so she cried and fussed until 2am, when she finally fell asleep in my arms and I was able to get out from under her and go to sleep next to her. (I didn't even try to get her in the crib they gave her; I knew she wasn't about to allow that to happen.)

At 4:20am, she woke up suddenly, which was actually kind of a good thing because about 15 minutes later the nurses came in to check vitals, which would have woken her up. I got to watch the dawn begin, which was something I did a lot when we were in the NICU, and it was nice. Ivy fell asleep a little after 5am again, as did I, until 7:30 when the surgical team came around to check in. They had decided to give her an x-ray first, before going in with the scope, which was going to mean a little longer stay. The surgeon said "we'll keep in touch," which brought me back to our original NICU stay, when we suddenly realized we were on hospital time, which meant "wait around for forever, and then suddenly things will happen."

We passed the time as best we could, watching a lot of YouTube videos (she calls them "La-La" because this video was one of her first favorites to watch), and reading books, and taking off her doll's clothes, until about 10:30 when a hospital worker came to pick us up and take us down to radiology. He put us in a little holding area while we waited, which was fantastic for Ivy because she wasn't hooked up to her IV or oximeter so she got to run up and down the little hallway outside all the x-ray rooms and get some of her energy out.

And then in we went, and she did a great job lying down on the table and calmly drinking the barium while the radiologist watched the x-ray screen. (Last time we did this, she cried and I had to sing to her to calm her down.) She even asked for more barium when it was all over, the poor little hungry thing. The radiologists were amused.

Then we were put back in the holding area while we waited for our transport back to pediatrics, so Ivy and I ran up and down the halls some more, and once we got back upstairs we hung back a little bit and explored the pediatric ward. We looked out some windows and climbed on some benches and walked around. Our normal surgeon's partner found us in the hallway and let us know that he decided to add her to his caseload that afternoon, which was nice to hear - he knows her esophagus well. We said goodbye to her and wandered the halls a little longer, until Cory texted me to say our nurse wanted to hook her back up to the IV.

Cory ran down to get him and I some food, which we took turns eating while hiding in the bathroom so Ivy wouldn't see us. Anytime anyone came by to ask if they could get us anything, Ivy started asking for "rice?" or "broccoli?" which broke my heart.

I was able to get her down for a nap a little after noon, and then a little over an hour later a transport suddenly showed up at our door, with no warning, to take Ivy down to the operating room. The nurse appeared as we were scrambling, apologizing, as she had only just found out herself. Hospital time strikes again. We were led down into the basement of the hospital, and said hello to the anesthesiologist, who happened to be the same one as for her original repair, which was cool. He was concerned that she wasn't going to appreciate them taking her away from me for the surgery, so he popped something into her IV, and after a few seconds she started having a hard time holding her head up and she started giggling. And then they took her away and we settled into the waiting area.

We always think it's not going to take as long as it does. They have to work on the anesthesia, and then do the procedure, and then she has to sit in post-op and wake up a little before they let us see her, which takes about twice as long as they say it's going to. So we wore down the batteries in our phones trying to pass the time for about an hour, and then the surgeon came out to tell us it was finished. He confirmed it was a piece of chicken again, and that it was stuck because of the lack of muscle motility at her repair site, but he went ahead and gently dilated her esophagus just a tiny bit to see if that would help, even though he didn't think it necessarily would. He said again that chicken and hot dogs are the most common things that get stuck in TEF kids' esophagi, and that we should just cut the pieces smaller. He said he understood us wanting to help her practice on slightly bigger pieces, though.

Someone came awhile later to take me back to post-op, where Ivy was practically climbing up a nurse to be held. She handed her to me, and Ivy immediately fell back asleep. So I sat in a rocking chair and held her for several minutes until our transfer came, and I carried her sleeping body all the way back up to her room, and sat down, and held her for three more hours. Poor girl was exhausted.

At that point, really all we were waiting for was for Ivy to drink clear liquid, and then milk, and have a wet diaper. Her pediatrician called from Corvallis, and said something like "I know you're a good mom..." and expressed concern that the same thing had happened twice now, and suggested maybe we stop feeding her chicken altogether for a couple of months. (I don't think I'll go quite that far, because it had been three months almost to the day since the last time, so holding off at that point would have done nothing; but I do think we'll probably stick to ground chicken for awhile.) Cory went back down and got us some dinner, which we ate, and by then I was getting pretty sore from sitting in one spot while she slept, so I decided to try to transfer her to the crib. And of course she woke right up. So we started in on a sippy cup of apple juice and pedialyte. She slowly drank about half of it and then was uninterested, and just wanted to nurse. So I let her nurse, and ended up pouring out most of the rest of the cup and told the nurse that she drank it all. (Bad, I know, but I knew she was doing OK and I wasn't going to wait a few more hours for her to finish the juice when she was also doing just fine with milk!) She drained me dry, and had a wet diaper soon thereafter, so the next time the nurse came by to do vitals we let her know we were ready to go home.

Ivy did fantastic yet again as the nurse struggled with several layers of tape and removed the IV, and we packed everything up and were out of there. Ivy immediately fell asleep in the car, and I caught a few winks myself. We got home around 10 and fell into our comfy bed.

Ivy has a checkup with the surgeon on the 11th, and until then she can't eat anything thicker than yogurt. This will be an interesting couple of weeks! Luckily she is still eating pouches of fruit and veggie puree, and enjoys yogurt. I'm grateful again for the little food processor/immersion blender that I picked up to make my own puree, it has already come in handy to make fruit smoothies and a macaroni and cheese frappe (ew). And pureed cottage cheese.

The guilt was strong with this one, friends. I was pretty shattered that it happened twice in three months, with the same food. It's so hard to balance being super cautious with helping her practice with potentially difficult foods. And as she's still so tiny as it is, having to avoid a healthy food that she likes is sad. But again, throughout all of this, I'm reminded of how good we have it and how much worse it could be. And thankful that we have such a good surgeon just an hour and a half away.

Monday, April 3, 2017

See ya, March.

We are closing in on two months until Ivy turns TWO! Good gracious, how time flies.

It's kind of hard to update here, mostly because I feel like the milestones aren't coming as furiously as they were during her first year, and they're a little more complicated to explain. For instance, I can't just type out a bulleted list of her words, because her vocabulary is exploding. But let's see if I can categorize some stuff into at least a semblance of an update.

Words
Might as well start here since I just mentioned it above. Ivy's favorite words are "no" and "owie," like any good toddler. She usually takes the last word or two from the things we tell her and repeats them in the form of a question. "Time to get your boots on!" "Boots on?" It happens especially if the words are new. I also can see her struggling to remember words, which is fascinating to watch - before Ivy, I thought that the reason there was a communication breakdown between toddlers and their parents was because they physically couldn't quite say the word yet. But I watch Ivy try out a few collections of letters before she hits on a real word. The one that happens the most often is that she says "doo" instead of "dip."

We are working on words for colors; she's got a few colors sort of figured out but it depends on what shade or what object we're looking at. She can count to ten, though, and has been able to do that for awhile. She's got some of the alphabet as well- and this weekend she started pointing out the letter A on things. Whoa.

Personality
Ivy does NOT like it when kids touch her. It's really strange. She is cool with initiating touch herself, but if one of the kids at daycare tries to hug her, she yells "owie!" and seeks out the nearest mama. And if they take a toy that's in her vicinity, especially if she doesn't know the kid very well... bring on the waterworks. Learning to share is hard!

We also have the normal shyness that I think most kids have. It takes awhile before she warms up to new people (or people who she doesn't really remember). She gets friendly relatively quickly, unless we're at the doctor, which she now remembers is the source of shots and strangers touching her, in which case she gets super clingy and wants to nurse.

In all other ways, she's a pretty great kid. She likes to help, she's generally in a good mood (though toddler molars are the pits), but see above for her favorite word. Most of the time it's not a big deal, though when I'm in a hurry and she's dragging her feet I get a teensy bit frustrated.

Food
This girl eats like a bird, still. It is hard to get much into her. I was pretty stressed out about it a few weeks ago until I remembered that she also didn't drink much milk back when that's all she was ingesting. The other babies drank upwards of twice as much milk as her in a day. She only weighs about 20.5 pounds, which is still pretty much off the charts low, and I'm kind of steeling myself for the doctor visit in June. She seems like she has plenty of energy and is happy, so I think in general she's fine, but it takes an hour to eat dinner every night because we're trying to get just one more bite down her throat. Cory has started to make deals with her: "If you eat one more bite of meat, you can have a bite of this dessert!" I usually take the "woo, look how silly I am; oops you got some food in your mouth!" tactic, or sing little songs about eating, or make funny noises or that sort of thing to get her to eat more.

One of the things I really need to do but just haven't yet, is meal planning for her. We tend to not eat a huge variety of things because neither of us is good with meal planning, and I do want Ivy to try lots of new things. But because she's got toddler taste buds, sometimes I bank on new stuff being yummy and it's not. I also want to get as much protein and good fats into her as I can. So I need to sit down and plan out lunches and dinners and snacks for her soon.

Our usual favorites are avocado, tomato, lunch meat, broccoli, chicken, tuna, peanut butter, yogurt, bananas, blackberries, and of course anything sweet. She hates milk (any milk besides mine) and eggs (even in things like Dutch babies).

TEF Update
Things are going really well with her esophagus lately! When we were on our east coast business trip in late February, my mom came with us to watch her during the day and made sure she cut the food extra small because she was worried about Ivy getting things stuck. Since then, there have been very few times Ivy's gotten anything stuck! I'm not sure if it's because she's got four molars now so she can chew stuff a little better, or what, but it's been really nice. We still cut things pretty small, and avoid certain foods, but even things that she's historically had issues with (like tomato skins or chicken) have been fine.

Nursing
Happily, there is no end in sight to the nursing! I love that Ivy still wants that closeness. She usually nurses first thing in the morning when she wakes up, and then as soon as we get home, and then to fall asleep. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, she needs to nurse to fall asleep, which I think will slowly stop on its own as she gets older. We co-sleep, so it's pretty easy access. The only time I ever feel ever-so-slightly tired of nursing is those nights where she doesn't feel well and hangs on for super long periods of time. It ends up making my back hurt by morning, from sleeping in odd positions. For a few months I had some near-constant SI joint pain, which I realized was from the way I was sleeping, so I've been adjusting my hips just a bit every night and it's much better. But sometimes teething and being sick just make for a rough sleep.

Sickness
Oh man, it has been the WORST early spring. We actually avoided being sick most of the fall and winter, except for a couple of colds that moved into Ivy's lungs and needed a nebulizer treatment or two. But I think we're on cold number 7 in a row right now. It has been two months of a raw nose and waking up coughing and, this weekend, losing her voice, which is kind of cute but I still feel bad. Luckily, none of these colds have needed a nebulizer, and most of them have been so mild they haven't come with fevers either. Cory has had bronchitis for almost two months, too, which was pretty awful but is finally just about done. I'm thankful to still be nursing so that my immune system is still pretty superpower-y. Allergy season is coming, though, after a very wet winter. Grass is my kryptonite. We'll see if nursing can combat THAT. Anyway, you can leave us alone now, germs, we've had our share of sick.

Siblings
I don't know why this is suddenly happening, but the last month or so I've been feeling ready to try for another. That always brings up complicated feelings, because I get into internal arguments with myself about why I should be hopeful or why I shouldn't even think about the possibility of it working when it hadn't for five years. ("But I had that polyp removed, maybe that was the biggest problem!" "Bigger than the low sperm motility problem?!") Right now the plan is to not make plans. Cory doesn't want to go through IVF again (interestingly, when we briefly talked about it over the weekend, he was more against IVF because of how physically and emotionally difficult it was, not how financially difficult it was; when finances was the biggest reason he didn't want to try again, last time), and I don't really want to either, but at the same time... I kind of do. We had decided when I was pregnant that we wouldn't do IVF again, and that if it happened naturally it happened. But of course I still have that little niggling wish in the back of my head, or little niggling disappointment in not being able to build a family the way I want to, that I don't think will ever fully go away.

Whoops, this wasn't supposed to be about me. But look, a nice long post! Ha!