Friday, December 31, 2010

Birth Year

So, we've got about 3 1/2 hours left in the year that my baby was born. Somehow that just seems impossible. I guess if your kid is born in December, that's not too big of a deal. But, for us mommies-of-March-babies, it's a sad feeling. However, I cannot wait to watch our sweet girl grow in 2011! In honor of the new year, I started a list of the top 11 things about our year. But, I gave up. All that really matters is that no baby on this planet is more loved than our little Brenna Jane, and the blessing of parenthood is one that we couldn't have ever imagined we'd love this much!

Dear 2010,
You were the best year of my life so far. We started out in crazy circumstances - namely a bus stop in the middle of ghetto Atlanta after the Chick-Fil-A bowl. I may not have been too friendly to you during the first 2 months, but you have to understand I wasn't at my best then. However, you gave me the greatest gift - the gift of being a mom. There is no way I'll ever forget all the "firsts" that you gave us. You will forever be the year that changed our family. You gave us quite a scare during your last few weeks with my mom's health, but yet again I'm thankful for the good news there, and pray it continues into the new year. I guess all good things have to come to an end, so we'll be saying "adios" to you shortly. But, don't worry - we way too many pictures to remember you by! Please have a chat with your friend, 2011, and let him know that we're ready for another exciting, blessing-filled year! Thanks for the smiles!
Love, Erin

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010

We have finally wrapped up Brenna's first Christmas season. It was a very special time for our family. It was a whirlwind, but it was worth it to spend time with most of our family on both sides. I think Brenna enjoyed getting the extra attention, too.

We started our celebrating on the Wednesday before Christmas (Dec. 22). We did our family gifts that morning here. Although it was definitely all about Brenna, I'll admit that the best gift of the day was my new Kitchen Aid mixer! Brenna loved it, too - she wanted to play with it more than her toys!
Brenna's first Christmas tree (that she'll never remember!)

Brenna with her Tickle-Me-Elmo

Check out the cat keyboard - SO CUTE!

opening her Elmo book with Daddy

She liked the paper more than the gifts!

Brenna's goodies from Santa and Mommy and Daddy. This year Santa brought 3 gifts - the keyboard, the Elmo, and the clothes. I read this idea online - that Santa brings 3 gifts to symbolize the 3 gifts that the wise men brought when Jesus was born. I'm not sure what role Santa will play at our house, but I liked this idea for now. Anybody want to share what they do about Santa?
On Wed. night we headed to Jonathan's parents' house. We spent Thursday with his dad and step-mom, but I didn't get any pictures of that. We did Christmas with his mom and step-dad on Friday morning. I know Bill loved having a baby around - and of course Nana just can't get enough of Brenna.

Papa Bill shared his Hershey bar with me. (Not really, no panicking!)

opening her stocking with Dad

reading her new book with Papa Bill

with Nana on Christmas Eve
We headed to Pine Mountain for the annual Christmas celebration at Jonathan's Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw's. All his cousins were there and it was lots of fun. And I got Bill's name, which always drives him crazy when he doesn't know! And, of course, Brenna was loved on and spoiled again!

hanging out with cousin Carrie and her fiance Eric - Guess who's going to be a flower girl!

snuggle time with Lauren

more new books!!

Inside this box was the cutest John Deere outfit just for Brenna and Papa Bill!
Since they were calling for bad weather, we left from Pine Mountain and went straight to Bristol to my mom's. We got up and did Christmas morning there with mom, Mallory, and Josh.

I think the tissues were her favorite gift! TOO FUNNY!

camo outfit from Uncle Josh

opening Violet

Coolest gift ever! We programmed it, so it knows Brenna's names and some of her "favorite" things.
Then we headed to my aunt and uncle's to celebrate Christmas with my mom's family. We had a great time catching up with everyone and enjoying the pretty snow.

ready for Christmas lunch

with Grandma Abel

She got a Violet Jr., too!

with her pillow pet from Grandma

trying on her new hat from Uncle Kevin

practicing my walking with Nanie and Mal
We had a great weekend, but it was nice to be back home. When I think about the two big gifts my family was given this year - our sweet Brenna and my mom's better-than-expected health report - I am more thankful than ever for the gift of Jesus. I'm excited about next Christmas when Brenna will be more aware of what's going on. I hope you all had a merry Christmas with your families, too!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


It's been a whirlwind week and a half! I'm going to try to start from the beginning - which was about 5:00 AM on Saturday, December 4.

All 3 of us were sleeping away when my phone rang. I had no clue what time it was, but I knew it was sometime in the middle of the night. It was my sister. My first thought was that her boss, who has been sick for awhile, had passed away. Then I thought, "No she wouldn't wake me up to tell me that." Then I figured something had to be wrong with my mom. These thoughts all happened in about 2 seconds between seeing the caller ID and answering the phone. I can't remember exactly what she said, but it involved her taking mom to the ER because she was having terrible stomach pain. Then she said the word. Tumor.

In my very confused state, tumor meant cancer. I wasn't thinking clearly (obviously - do you at 5 AM?) and couldn't really process what she was saying. I just knew I had to get to Bristol. Mallory told me the tumor was really big and in or on her uterus and that the ER doctor thought they would operate soon. I'm pretty sure I told her not to panic and that it would be okay. All while I was freaking out on the inside and thinking that surely things would not be okay. I hung up with her and just cried and tried to tell Jonathan what she had said, which wasn't easy since I felt like I couldn't breathe and that the room was spinning.

Of all days, our biggest winter storm of the year so far was coming that day. We waited around our house until my sister could give us some more concrete information about the plans, so we'd know what to pack and how long we'd be staying. This proved to be a bad decision. We left sometime after 1:00 PM when we found out they were taking her to surgery immediately - by this point realizing that the tumor looked to be on her ovary instead and was huge. We drove the 2 hours in snow/sleet/rain, but the Lord protected us and kept us as calm as possible.

We got to my mom's and fed Brenna and then went to the hospital. The nurse had called out to tell my sister that they were finished and her diagnosis was borderline. I found this out while we were in the drive-thru of McDonald's on our way to the hospital. That's a story for another, much more light-hearted, day. Mallory and I had no clue what this meant, so we, of course, feared the worse. When we got to the hospital, my sister, brother-in-law, Grandma, 3 uncles, 2 aunts, and my mom's boss and her husband were waiting. Turns out that the surgery wasn't finished and somehow the information got mixed up. We waited until after 6:00, whih put the surgery about the 4 hr. mark I think. Finally, the doctors came out to tell us what they found.

The tumor was on her ovary and it was big - 10 cm. by 14 cm. at least. It was twisted around itself and was gangrenous. The removed the whole tumor, her uterus, ovaries, and omentus. They also took some lymph nodes to run pathology reports on. The doctor said he was pleased with the outcome and felt certain it was what they call a borderline tumor - meaning it had malignant potential but wouldn't exactly be classified as cancerous. He felt she would not need chemo as long as the lymph nodes came back benign. This was almost the best news we could have imagined - right next to a completely benign tumor. Grandma Abel and I went back to recovery to see mom, and she was already joking around with the male nurses. Mom asked me if we knew anything about the results. So, I told her what we knew - even though her anesthesia and pain meds made it a little overwhelming and she just told me, "Wow, that's a lot of information." Ha! She went up to her room and we got to visit with her awhile before leaving her to rest for the rest of the night.

We stayed until Sunday night and she was already feeling much better. She had a rough couple of days after that - with some stomach trouble/nausea caused by an ileus from the surgery. Luckily, though, that resolved itself with no more surgery. I made it back there on Thursday and she was up walking around and drinking some liquids. My sister was awesome and stayed with her almost all day, every day - and still is now that she's home. She left the hospital late on Saturday night - more than 1 week after the original admission (after what was supposed to only be a 4 day stay!). She had to keep her catheter in for another 5 days, but she's feeling better and doing a lot better since going to her own home.

Did I mention that she hasn't had any pain meds since she left the hospital - and didn't take much while she was there. I did NOT get her tolerance for pain, that's for sure! She is going tomorrow to have her cateter and staples removed. I dread that for her, but I feel like she'll feel even better once they're out.

Now, we are waiting. Her surgeon, who specializes in cancer, doesn't feel that they'll have her do chemo. Her regulary gynecologist feels like they will. They found another small tumor on her omentus, which is the cause for his concern. She doesn't have an appointment scheduled with the oncologist yet, but we're hoping that will come soon. My prayer now is that there will be no doubt in the oncologist's mind about what to do. I do not want to see her have to go through chemo. I also don't want any cancer cells left in her body. Good thing I'm not her doctor! Feel free to pray for guidance for the doctors as they make this important decision!

Thank you guys for your prayers. We've seen a lot of answered prayers so far and are so thankful for the good news we've gotten along the way. I never would have imagined things would be this positive and have this great of an outlook when I first answered that phone call on December 4!

Monday, December 6, 2010

9 month stats

We went for Brenna's 9 month appointment on Monday. She's a growing, healthy girl! Here are her 9 month stats:

17 pounds, 4 ounces (17th percentile)

28 inches long (57th percentile)

17.5 inches head circumference (59th percentile)

No shots today! Woohoo! She hates being measured, but was fine otherwise. We won't go back until she's one year old. Whoa!

Friday, December 3, 2010

9 Months Old

Dear Brenna,

Today you are 9 months old. Do you know what that means? It means you've lived outside of me as long as you were inside of me. Of course, that's not taking in to count the extra 7 days that I was pregnant with you past my due date - but I'm trying not to hold that against you! 9 months seems like such a big milestone - you are 3/4 of a year old!

This month has been so fun. You are interacting with us more and more, and Daddy and I just can't get enough of you. Your laugh is by far my favorite sound on earth. I could be in the worst mood ever, and hearing your little giggle would make me smile. I hope you always keep that sweet little laugh. Lately we can make you laugh the most when we blow on your belly, brush something over your face, toss you lightly up in the air, put your paci backwards in our mouth, play pat-a-cake, and - your favorite - PEEK A BOO. You love playing peek-a-boo around corners, over the railings on our stairs, and behind the ottoman in our living room. You just laugh and laugh, and then try to get us!

Just tonight Daddy and I were sitting in the floor playing with you. You did something new - you would stand up holding on to the ottoman and then let go and try to walk to me. I guess you'd say you technically took one step each time, before falling forward into my arms. You are definitely close to being a stander and a walker, Brenna, and that just amazes me. Times like tonight are the ones I try to just soak up and remember. And luckily for us all, Daddy got some of it on video!

You are still a great sleeper - you take 2 naps that are about 1.5-2 hours each. You sleep from about 7:30 PM - 6:30 AM each night. We had a couple of rough nights - but we later found out that you probably had an ear infection. When you were about 8 1/2 months old, I stayed home with you one day - and it was a good thing! When you woke up from your morning nap, I noticed that your ear had lots of "stuff" coming out of it. We headed to the doctor, and found that your eardrum had ruptured. Daddy and I felt so bad for you - but luckily, once you started on your Amoxicillin you seemed to be on the mend quicly. You finished your medicine yesterday, and I'm hoping we'll have no more medical problems for a long time!

Oh, Brenna, you have developed a love for food. Until about a week ago, you ate about 4 oz. two times a day, and mixed in a few Puffs every now and then. But, all of the sudden, you seem to want a lot more. We've uped your two meals to about 6 oz. or so, and added in some snacks. You LOVE your Puffs now - and you've also eaten some yogurt, yogurt melts, baby puff-type crunchies (these look like cheetos!), baby wagon wheels, some crackers and Cheerios, and some solid fruit. I can't believe you are the same kid who never seemed too interested in food. You're outgrowing your texture adversion (I hope!) and it's fun to see you enjoy new foods. You still nurse 3 times a day (when you get up, when I get home from work, and bedtime) and take one bottle while I'm at work. So far your TWO teeth haven't gotten in the way. I loved your gummy little smile - but I love your little toothy grin a whole bunch, too!

You still wear mainly 6 month clothing, and I think you're super cute in your winter clothes - especially your big, warm, puffy coat! You're cloth diapers are going well - except that you've learned to undo the velcro. Luckily, you forget you have this skill most of the time! We'll go for your 9 month appointment on Monday, so I'll have all your stats then. When we went to the doctor about 2 weeks ago - you were 16 pounds, 14 ounces. Maybe you've finally hit the 17 pound mark!

You've definitely taken an interest in your sister - Maggie the dog. You love to pull her hair. She isn't too fond of you, baby girl, but she usually just leaves the room when you get too interested in her. I hope you guys will be playmates when you get a little older. Maggie used to be our baby - so she's still not sure why we let you move in and take over!

We enjoyed our first Thanksgiving together. We spent some time with both sides of our family, and you got LOTS of attention. On Thanksgiving day you finally learned to clap your hands, and OH MY, it's so cute! It's pretty uncoordinated, but that's the best part about it. You do it all the time now - I think you're pretty proud of yourself. You also say "bye bye" and wave (backwards) sometimes when you say it. I think we're going to have to stop saying it randomly just to hear your cute little voice, and only use it when someone is leaving. I want you to understand the meaning of it, too. I look forward to hearing you say more words and hearing what your little voice will sound like. It already melts my heart!

We'll be having our first Christmas as parents this year, and we are so excited to share this season with you. Having you around has added a new spark to our holidays, and we look forward to creating our own family traditions. You filled a void in our lives that we really didn't even know existed. God knew exactly the kind of baby we needed in our family, and you are the most perfect fit for us that I could have ever imagined. We were looking back at your ultrasound pictures the other day and realized that even though we knew we loved you then - we could never have imagined how much you would steal our hearts. I've been blessed with a baby who radiates happiness and the most loving, helpful husband on earth. I just love our family, Brenna.

Here's to the last month of 2010 - the year you were born. I bet it'll be even more fun than the 9 we've shared so far. I love you little Sprout!

Love, Mommy