Hero of the Month: Kellen

One of the most frequent comments we heard when Owen was born was, “All this and with a toddler…that must make it even harder.”

While I will agree there were more logistics to manage because Owen was not our only child, I cannot agree that our course was anymore difficult because of Kellen. To the contrary, I think he made it easier for us.

Because of Kellen, Kyle and I found something to smile about each day. Fortunately for us, he’s a pretty hilarious kid so laughing was easy. However, even when he wasn’t making us laugh, for Kellen, we always found something positive in each day. Because of him, we couldn’t get so completely sucked into the NICU and all things Owen that we weren’t able to keep living. Life was in slow-mo and not the same, but it didn’t stop.

Watching the boys together is one of my greatest joys. Owen follows his big brother everywhere and is always interested in what Kellen is doing. I get the biggest smile out of Owen each afternoon when I say, “should we go bye bye and get Kellen?” Kellen loves to make his brother giggle by blowing raspberries on his belly or dancing with him. And he’s so protective of Owen. He was with when Owen went to clinic last week and was visibly angry at the doctor for making Owen cry during the ear examination. He puffed up his chest and gave the dirtiest look a 3-year-old can give to that doctor and, for the rest of the appointment, he would not leave Owen’s side.

Thank you, Kellen, for reminding Mommy and Daddy that life goes on and that the world doesn’t revolve around any one member of this family. You’ve been so brave and strong through some really scary stuff that even we don’t understand. Thank you for accepting your brother for who he is and giving him a role model of what he can become. Thank you for the warm hugs each day and for being you.

 

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Heroes of the Month: Barb & Nancy (Early Intervention)

Owen’s a pretty popular guy and he has some, much appreciated, fans, but I’m not sure he has many fans bigger than his Early Childhood Special Education team; Teacher, Barb, and Physical Therapist, Nancy.

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Hero of the Month: Joanna

I’ve mentioned the power of the love felt between NICU moms and all the babies in the NICU, but this mom, took that love to the next level.  Joanna shared her liquid gold (Breast Milk) with Owen when he needed it most and she wasn’t a mom with an overly plentiful supply.

Joanna’s son Isaiah was Owen’s next door neighbor on a couple different occasions and she and I kept a similar schedule to being at the hospital so we got to know each other and  our babies very well.  When Owen’s supply of breast milk ran out and he was switched to formula, she, like me, felt that it immediately changed Owen.  He was no longer comfortable, his bottom was being managed by wound care nurses because the open sores were so bad and his reflux took a dramatic turn for the worst.  I nearly immediately started my campaign to getting donor milk for Owen but Owen did the ultimate convincing by stopping breathing two days in a row while being fed.  After that, I would not let them feed Owen until they changed something about his diet.  Finally, a doctor agreed to put him back on the hospital’s supply of donor breast milk while he waited for his g-tube and nissen to prevent reflux.  However, once he had the surgery, the hospital couldn’t justify using the very expensive and limited supply of donor milk for Owen.  This is when Joanna stepped in and offered some of her supply.  It’s entirely out of typical protocol but the lactation consultant was on board to help and if you ever met me, you know I can be a huge thorn in the side if I want to be.  The three of us together made it work.  Joanna shared several bags of breast milk with Owen that got him through the rest of his hospital stay and then allowed me to slowly transition him onto formula which was much easier than a hard change on his digestive system.  I truly believe it helped Owen get home sooner, so I’m not sure there is a better type of hero than that.

Isaiah is 13 months old and never did breast feed, but Joanna has been dedicated to providing him with the nutrition that was best for him.  She exclusively  pumped for 13 months – six times a day for a half hour or more each time.  Her supply was never much more than Isaiah took but the little she had extra was shared with another baby who needed it.  She’s definitely an inspiration to mothers who struggle with pumping – it’s not easy, but all her work helped two babies.

A great friend to me and milk mom to Owen.

Joanna and Isaiah in the NICU

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Joanna and Isaiah now – isn’t he cute?!

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Hero of the Month: Tom & Lisa

I can’t believe it’s June already! And with the first Friday of the month, we get to give special appreciation to some of Owen’s heroes.

This month we want to thank husband and wife, Tom and Lisa for their above and beyond help with Owen’s animal allergies. Lisa is a good friend of my mom’s and both she and Tom became fans of Owen over the last year.

My mom and Lisa were talking on the phone and Mom mentioned they’d like to take our cat Cyrus but needed to figure out the logistics of getting him from Minneapolis to Mesa, AZ. Lisa thought Tom may be able to do it and he agreed. Guess what? Tom doesn’t like to fly and he’s not really a cat person. He took a day off work and flew out of MSP at 11 AM and was back home at midnight. A whole day of flying for someone who doesn’t like to fly and he’s taking a cat he doesn’t know from someone he doesn’t know and I’m sure praying like mad that the sedative the vet prescribed works really, really well (thankfully, it did). Why did he do it? Well, knowing Lisa, even the little that I do, she is pretty convincing, but he says the real reason is he did it was for Owen. That’s a really selfless gift and we are grateful beyond measure.

That’s certainly more than enough from one family, but they didn’t stop there. Lisa has a cleaning business and she’s known for her deep cleans. Now that the animals are out of the house, Lisa came into our home and deep cleaned from top to bottom – as a gift to us. She moved the furniture, cleaned light fixtures scrubbed the floors cleaned the windows, etc – getting rid of animal dander from all of the hiding places that a basic clean would miss. This was no small task and Lisa drove quite a distance to do it. They live East of St. Paul and we live West of Minneapolis. Why did she do it? She wanted Owen to have a healthy home.

Tom and Lisa represent the specialist kind of hero – they didn’t have to do it, they wanted to do it. Thank you, thank you both from all of us, including Grandma Sue. I know it makes her feel good that her friends help her daughter’s family.

We are proud to call you friends, and I’m glad Lisa got some time with Owen when she was at the house this weekend. I casually tried to get a picture of them together for this post, but she’s too smart for me and refused.

Hero of the Month: Tom & Lisa

I can’t believe it’s June already! And with the first Friday of the month, we get to give special appreciation to some of Owen’s heroes.

This month we want to thank husband and wife, Tom and Lisa for their above and beyond help with Owen’s animal allergies. Lisa is a good friend of my mom’s and both she and Tom became fans of Owen over the last year.

My mom and Lisa were talking on the phone and Mom mentioned they’d like to take our cat Cyrus but needed to figure out the logistics of getting him from Minneapolis to Mesa, AZ. Lisa thought Tom may be able to do it and he agreed. Guess what? Tom doesn’t like to fly and he’s not really a cat person. He took a day off work and flew out of MSP at 11 AM and was back home at midnight. A whole day of flying for someone who doesn’t like to fly and he’s taking a cat he doesn’t know from someone he doesn’t know and I’m sure praying like mad that the sedative the vet prescribed works really, really well (thankfully, it did). Why did he do it? Well, knowing Lisa, even the little that I do, she is pretty convincing, but he says the real reason is he did it was for Owen. That’s a really selfless gift and we are grateful beyond measure.

That’s certainly more than enough from one family, but they didn’t stop there. Lisa has a cleaning business and she’s known for her deep cleans. Now that the animals are out of the house, Lisa came into our home and deep cleaned from top to bottom – as a gift to us. She moved the furniture, cleaned light fixtures scrubbed the floors cleaned the windows, etc – getting rid of animal dander from all of the hiding places that a basic clean would miss. This was no small task and Lisa drove quite a distance to do it. They live East of St. Paul and we live West of Minneapolis. Why did she do it? She wanted Owen to have a healthy home.

Tom and Lisa represent the specialist kind of hero – they didn’t have to do it, they wanted to do it. Thank you, thank you both from all of us, including Grandma Sue. I know it makes her feel good that her friends help her daughter’s family.

We are proud to call you friends, and I’m glad Lisa got some time with Owen when she was at the house this weekend. I casually tried to get a picture of them together for this post, but she’s too smart for me and refused.

Owen’s Heroes: Dr Hess

We all think Owen’s pretty amazing, but he’s also had some extraordinary help along the way.  The first Friday of each month, I will feature one of the special people who has helped Owen.

Since it’s the month of May and nearing the anniversary of when he first saved Owen’s life, it seems fitting that Dr. Hess be the first of Owen’s Heroes to be featured.  We met Dr. Hess on May 24, 2011.  That day is worthy of several Therapy Thursday posts, so I’ll spare you the gritty details for now, but Owen was very sick – sick enough that the Social Worker came to see us and sick enough that his nurse went to the Chaplain and prayed for Owen over her lunch break.

That first surgery was excruciating for everyone but it was eminently lifesaving for Owen.  The next five surgeries that Dr Hess performed on Owen were also life saving, although not with quite as much urgency.  With each surgery, we were more and more confident that the person who knew Owen best was operating on him.

From more recent conversations, it’s become clear that Dr Hess has a soft spot for Owen.    He’s mentioned in more than one recent discussion that Owen’s case was “traumatic” (his word, not mine) for him and has jokingly told me that Owen’s taken some years off his life. I responded that I wasn’t sure that made me feel better, even in hindsight,  But, it does make me even more in awe of Dr Hess’ obvious skill.  His training and expertise prepared him to push through fears and get the best possible outcome for Owen.

We owe him much, much gratitude and respect.

Here’s a recent picture of Dr Hess with Owen.

Dr Hess and Owen April 24,  2012