Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My last last day at work

        Yesterday and today I went into my former job for two days to do some transition work with my fantastic replacement, Jenna.  My official last day was at the end of June, but Jenna hadn't been hired yet, so we were able to arrange two days to go over her caseload, etc. before the start of the school year this year.  Jenna filled in for me when I was out on maternity leave, and I am thrilled that she has been hired to fill my position now that I have resigned.  My in-laws were kind enough to come babysit McKenna for the past two days, and I went in to work.
        Since its the beginning of a new school year, it felt quite odd.  I felt like I was back to work, getting ready to start a new year.  And I was actually pretty sad about the fact that it was just pretend...  I am already missing it some, and I know I will miss it from time to time now that the school year is beginning again.  I actually quite loved my job, despite complaining about it on a regular basis when I worked there.  (Isn't that always the way?)
         My choice to stay home instead of work has nothing to do with not wanting to work.  I love my career and I love working with my students.  I just felt strongly that my time right now would be best spent investing in McKenna.  We didn't want her in daycare, especially with her medical issues, and paying a nanny would take most of my salary anyway (and as much as I love my job, I'm not really into doing it for free), so it just makes the most sense.  Besides which, I want to be home with her during this exciting and amazing time in her life, as she learns to walk and talk and understand things and communicate and play...  Its amazing, and I don't want to miss it all!  It was a hard choice and I could never, ever judge anyone who has chosen differently, but we talked it through and prayed about it and its just what we feel God has called me to do at this point in our lives.
        I am beyond thrilled to now be a stay-at-home mom.  It is a blessing and privilege, and I am so very thankful for a husband who supports my desire to be home and that I have the opportunity to be home with McKenna while she is so young.  At the same time, it is a very different life than I am used to living.  Its exhausting, first of all, especially with our dear one, who craves interaction with others and intellectual stimulation on a constant basis and doesn't nap much.  During the day, I am by her side pretty much every moment she is awake, and due to her limited napping, that equates to most moments of the day.  There is virtually zero time to get anything done and I have very little time to myself.  I am lucky to have my parents around most of the time, since we are currently staying with them while Brett finishes school, but they will agree with me when I tell you that McKenna is really a multiple-person job.  So its just a very busy and tiring day!         
         Secondly, its not very intellectually stimulating.  Its just not.  Let's be honest, Baby Einstein and blocks and stacking rings and balls and The Hungry Caterpillar just aren't as fascinating to us as they are to our children.  I adore watching McKenna play and smile and giggle and stare intensely at things as she tries to figure them out, but sometimes I miss using my brain.
         Thirdly, my interactions with other adults are pretty much limited to my husband and my parents and a few wonderful friends who I text with during the day.  I love my parents very much.  I obviously adore my husband.  My friends help keep me sane.  But I used to spend most of my days with other adults, working together to help our students, and its just not the same.  Its not bad.  Its just different.
        So for the last two days, if I'm being completely honest, I kind of felt like I was on vacation.  I stopped at my favorite coffee shop on the way to work and finished  my delicious Jamaican Blue coffee while it was still hot.  No one screeched or cried or shouted at me. I ate my lunch at a leisurely pace. I could use the bathroom whenever I wanted to, without rushing.  I used my brain.  We talked about psychiatric diagnoses, complicated family dynamics, counseling strategies, logistics of time management and scheduling, the successes and failures of last year's efforts, the delicate nature of some staff interactions, the very recent death of one of our middle school students and its impact on our student body, and the general day-to-day challenges and benefits of working within our educational system.  We laughed about some of the ridiculous situations that are encountered in this job.  We teared up while talking about the amazing emotional progress made by some of our more challenging students.  I felt intelligent.  I felt interesting.  I felt like an adult.  I felt like my other self.  I even felt kind of pretty.  (Real clothes and makeup and jewelry can have that effect on you).
        And then it was over.  And I was kind of sad about it.  And I came home, for the LAST last time from my job.  And my sweet, adorable, beautiful, amazing daughter was waiting for me.  And when I walked in, she grinned from ear to ear, and squealed with glee, and bounced up and down in her grandma's arms, kicking her little legs and waving her little arms with total abandon.

         And I felt loved.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Surgery is scheduled...

We finally got confirmation from Boston Children's today that McKenna will be having her hand surgery on Monday, October 10 (Columbus Day).  We will be going in for her pre-op appointment on Sept. 30th to make sure that her bloodwork and everything else looks ok for surgery.  We will be checking in at Children's on Sunday, Oct. 9, and hope that she will be discharged on Tuesday, the 11th.
After getting clearance for the surgery at her last appointment, we were hoping that the surgery might be sooner than this, but it is a four-hour surgery, and the long time blocks for September were full already.  So, October it is.  The most disappointing aspect of this (aside from just wanting it to be over!) is that it means McKenna will stay on her injections for 55 more days.  Sigh.  That's 110 more injections, for anyone who needs help with math.  That's a lot and it makes me really sad.  I just really want to be done with that- she will have been on the Lovenox injections for about 8 months by the time she has her surgery, which will have been over half of her little life.  But, we have prayed that her surgery date would be in God's timing, and so I have to trust that October is the right time for it to happen.  Perhaps her arteries need a few more weeks to get stronger, and if that's the case, then of course waiting is the best plan.
We are thankful that her cardiology team and plastic surgery team will be working so closely together and it gives us great peace and confidence knowing that her whole team is in the same place.  And now I have 55 days to figure out how to dress a baby who will have an arm in a cast for a month in cold weather!  I have a feeling she will have some one-armed shirts before this is all over... 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Boston Children's Hospital- 8/3/11

Today we spent the day at Boston Children's Hospital.  McKenna had a sedated echocardiogram at 9 am (we checked in and started sedation at 8 am), a consult with Dr. Newburger (her cardiologist, who specializes in Kawasaki Disease) at 10:30, and a consult and x-rays with her plastic surgeon at 1:00.  We finally got in the car at around 2:45, so it was a long day, but it was a really good day.  She was such a trooper, and hung in there through lots of long, unpleasant, exhausting appointments. 
Her echo shows some continued improvement in one of her aneurysms and a very slight improvement in the other.  Based on her current measurements, Dr. Newburger said that she feels the chances of her developing a clot are very small, which is great news.  She also said that she felt it would be safe for her to have her hand surgery soon, even though that will mean that she has to come off of all of her anti-coagulation meds for a time.  She feels that once the surgery is over, it will be ok to change her medication regime to either asprin only or asprin and Plavix.  Both options are better than what we are doing now, since that will mean we can stop giving her the Lovenox injections twice a day!!  The poor thing has been having injections twice a day for five and a half months now, and her little legs would be very happy not to have bruises all over them anymore.  And her mommy and daddy would be VERY happy not to have to give her injections anymore...  So that is all great news and gives us lots of hope for some big improvements very soon.
Then we met with Dr. Taghinia, her plastic surgeon.  We haven't seen him since our initial consult when she was about two months old.  He and Dr. Newburger have been in touch several times about her care, however, and it is so nice to have doctors who are willing to collaborate so well to make sure that she is getting the best possible treatment.  He was thrilled to hear that she has been cleared for surgery, and we will be scheduling it next week.  It is likely to be sometime in September.  While I completely dread the thought of our sweet girl having surgery, I am also excited for it to be over and for her to have fuller use of her fingers.  She will be in a cast for about a month, and then will have splints on her fingers for another six weeks after that.  Lord help us.....  Its going to be an interesting fall, since I am sure our sweet, fiesty girl is not going to be amused by either of those things.  Yikes....
In any event, we continue to be completely impressed by everyone that we encounter at Children's.  It is an amazingly kind, compassionate, friendly, down-to-earth place, with incredible doctors, nurses, and staff members.  Everyone there is just fantastic.  They have recently been ranked by US News and World Report as the #1 Children's Hospital in the country. We feel so blessed to have McKenna's treatment team located at such a phenomenal place.
And we are so thankful for the ongoing prayers of so many people throughout these past several months.  We know that God has healed her thus far and will continue to work in His perfect way in all that is to come.  So keep it coming!