Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 The Challenges and Blessings and Pictures!

I honestly cannot believe that this year is gone.  So much has happened that makes it feel like it went by twice as fast as usual (and somehow also twice as long!).  Our little family has much...(enter big sigh here) and it has been the most challenging, yet most blessed year that both Paul and I have ever had.  We have learned that life certainly has it's surprises, but somehow everything has a purpose, and we absolutely believe that Heavenly Father is all-knowing, and is keeping us under his loving wing.

To recap Conner in 2010:

-Before Conner was born, we did NOT know of his congenital heart defect (CHD), Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)
-Conner was born 3 weeks early and was admitted to the NICU for having a difficult time breathing
-At some point in the next 36 hours (it's all a jumbled blur to us) we are notified that they believe Conner has a CHD and is taken to Primary Childrens Medical Center by Life Flight ground (driven), where his CHD is confirmed
-Conner spends the next 2 1/2 months in the NICU at PCMC
-We are finally able to bring Conner home on an NJ feeding tube (feeding tube in his nose, which feeds his intestines, not his tummy) at the end of April.  A very joyful (and nerve wracking, overwhelming, and stressful) time
-Conner throws up anywhere from 5-25 times a day due to his severe acid reflux
-Conner's open heart surgery is scheduled and then rescheduled 3 times
-Conner gets his baby blessing by Paul and close family members at our home May 30th
-Conner undergoes open heart surgery to repair his ToF on June 22nd. The surgery lasts about 7 hours and is very successful.  Conner stays in the hospital recovering for 2 weeks, and then is able to come home
-Conner finally passes is swallow study in July and they move his NJ feeding tube to an NG feeding tube, his tummy finally being able to get fed
-Conner has occupational therapy and feeding therapy each twice a month
-Conner undergoes surgery October 8th to have his g-tube placed (and also finally his circumcision).  He is only in the hospital for 3 days this time before we are able to go home
-Conner has a cardiology check up in November which shows his pulmonary valve is leaking, which is fairly normal, but it's leaking more than they would like.  The cardiologist says that Conner will need (most likely) to have his entire valve replaced, via another open heart sugery, in a few years.  This means Conner will have some type of surgery or procedures done the rest of his life to replace/fix/upkeep his valve
-Conner is making significant progress in the eating department.  We practice feeding him baby food twice a day, work on drinking with a special cup twice a day, and get him involved in food play as much as possible.  Conner got his two little teeth on the bottom, and will munch on graham crackers and bread! This is a big deal! The feeding therapist thinks it will still be about a year before he is eating everything on his own, and we are able to remove his gtube.
-I am still pumping breast milk for Conner and also using frozen breast milk as well.  We mix the bm with a special allergy-free formula to feed Conner
-Conner is 10 1/2 months old and is doing fantastic.  Considering he has spent 3 months (collectively) in the hospital (nearly 1/4 of his life!) and has been through open heart surgery, he has overcome his development delays and is now exactly where he should be! He rolls over, crawls, pulls to stand, walks on furniture, jabbers constantly, and is    one incredible little boy!!

To recap Annie and Paul in 2010:

-Paul started a new exciting job in Internet Marketing in July.  He loves his new job and is amazing at it!
-Paul's company, Computer Fix, has been doing really well, and is ever-growing.  He has big plans for the company for 2011, and is excited to see where it will take it!
-I gave birth in February to Conner.  He is the 12th grandchild on both sides of the family
-I was blessed with an over-abundance of producing breast milk, which resulted in me being able to share my milk with 3 other babies.  I had the huge blessing of being able to provide breast milk to a baby who was born addicted to meth (and was adopted by an amazing woman) for about 6 months.  I sincerely believe this resulted in blessings for Conner, Paul and I that were much needed during our most challenging times.
-We both enjoy being a part of an amazing dinner group who meets once a month and does fun, unique, exciting, relaxing, and wonderful dinners/activities.
-We got to go to Sun Valley for the first time with our wonderful friends at their cabin.  First family vaca!
-Paul is still the Ward Clerk in our ward and I am still the 1st counselor in young womens, and I love it!
-I started reading the Book of Mormon in August as part of the new Bishopbric challenge for the youth in our ward
-We sadly sold our wave runners to help pay for medical bills (with Paul switching jobs, we had to meet/max a new insurance plan)
-We both learned more about patience, love and sacrifice in the first few months after Conner was born, than we have our whole lives.  We learned of the deep love of others, selflessness, and experienced prayers and fasting on behalf of our family.  When I think about those first few months of Conner's life in the hospital, and the first months of him being home and his heart surgery, I feel overwhelmed with the memories and it always brings tears to my eyes.
-We continue to love our home and our neighborhood.  We have an incredible ward, and wonderful friends

Here are pictures to also recap this year.  I am sorry...I don't know how to use photoshop to make collages or anything like that...yet. I'm hoping to learn soon! So instead for now, you get a million pictures! Lucky you!  I have tried to include pictures that I haven't ever included on my blog, or FB.  There are a couple that show Conner the day of his heart surgery, and are sacred to us.  I included them because I think they can portray a powerful message about what Conner has been through, and his strength.

8 months pregnant, almost there!
Day after Conner was born (not yet at PCMC)

Skin-to-skin time with momma
First full bath

Snuggle time with dad

Our sweet, wonderful nurse

Last day in the hospital
Our overnight in the hospital to 'practice' with Conner
Going home!

Blessing outfit

My friend made this awesome cake for his blessing day
Hanging out with Aunt Sheryl and cousin Jaden!
Getting out and about
Daddy taking care of Conner with the moby and multi-tasking
Conner's chest pre-surgery

Getting prepped for open heart surgery
Hours after open heart surgery

An angel our friends gave us whose baby also had the same CHD repair.  We passed it onto this beautiful, precious baby girl, who also had ToF and other heart problems.  
Leaving the hospital after 2 weeks recovery
Nap time with Grandpa
Conner giving a thumbs up, all is well!
The heart walk in September for Intermountain Healing Hearts group we are a part of
First family vacation in Sun Valley
Getting ready for gtube surgery
Recovering from gtube surgery with a big sock on his hand so Conner wouldn't pull out his i.v. out

"Rock Band" family for Halloween

Meeting Santa for the first time
At Temple Square to see the lights
Conner's first Christmas
Family's first Christmas together
Happy, loving, adventurous Conner!


Estefany said...

Annie, I don't know if I should share this with you, but those pictures made me friggin' cry. And I never cry! I'm so happy for you guys.
It kind of makes me excited for when I have a family of my own.

April said...

What a beautiful story and family! Thanks for sharing everything this year, I am glad little Connor is doing well! My sisters baby had a heart defect also at birth and had to have open heart surgery at 1 week old. It has been inspiring to read your story and feel of your strength!

Lera said...

What a whirlwind of a year you have had. Brought tears to my eyes reading about all that you and Connor have been through. He is adorable and you are a beautiful family!

EBeauty03 said...

Thank you so much for sharing that Annie. What an amazing year it's been for you a wonderful journey full of ups and downs. What a precious little boy. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Aroura said...

Seriously teared up! Your family is so inspiring! I'm so glad Conner has triumphed over all these challenges! I hope 2011 is super super kind to you guys!

BECKY said...

i didn't know about you giving milk to other babies... how incredible!
best wishes for 2011!!!!

Jeana said...

I love your update! What a great idea. What a year it has been for you guys. Can I just say how amazing you are for still pumping. I was like you and pumped enough in 3 1/2 months to last Kaelyn for a year. It was a really hard thing to do and I just think you are amazing for sharing it with those other babies. What a blessing.

Melissa said...

Tremendous year!! I love all the picture and the recap. You are truly blessed!! Conner is such a miracle!

Jake & Stephanie Ellinger said...

What a year! It hits a little too close to home and I am SO JEALOUS of the feeding progress you guys are making!

Such cute pictures of Connor!

jessica.adams said...

You. Are. Amazing.
Your family is amazing.
Thank you for being such an inspiration!
A friend in my ward is also a member of the Intermountain Healing Hearts group, I believe. She volunteers a lot at Primary. Maybe you know her!

Jen said...

What a year! You have all come through it like champs! You have such a beautiful family!

Heather English said...

It has definitely been quite for the year for many of us and you guys are no exception. Here's to hoping 2011 goes a lot smoother for everyone...

Joni and John said...

What a sweet family you guys make- I'm impressed at how well you've handled everything. And I think it was so kind of you to donate breastmilk for another baby, for that long when you had so much going on! Connor is just adorable, I am glad he is doing so well :)

Sheryl said...

Annie that was so much fun! Thank you for the wonderful journey of your year! (= Man, Conner was so tiny, it's crazy how much they change. I love you guys!

Super Daysh said...

Oh goodness Annie! You are literally inspiring. I'm touched by your faith, sweet testimony and those sweet pictures of your precious baby. I'm so glad he is doing well and so glad he has such wonderful parents surrounding him. He is one lucky little boy. I'm glad it was a good year- a hard year, but a good one. So glad you are so strong and faithful! Such a great example to us. We hope this year will be just as wonderful- with more "ups" and fewer "downs". :)

Jared and Laura said...

This was such a touching post. The pictures of your sweet baby are so precious; you have a beautiful family! I hope things will continue going well. You're a wonderful example!

Becca said...

These first years for these heart babies are so amazing. Especially for your cute family. A lot of firsts. I need to figure out the collage too, so if you find out, let me know. Very cute pics of Conner!

Brittany said...

You are such a strong beautiful family. I don't know if I would get through it! I admire your strength and faith in the lord!
I love all your pictures... Conner is such a little cutie and he is sooo lucky to have you both as parents!

Ps. you should try picasa to do your collages. That is what i use! I think you have to download it on your computer from the internet... and it automatically finds all your pics for you!