Thursday, January 20, 2011

More About Gabriel

Now, I'd like to tell you more about my spectacular little boy. I am mad at myself for letting so much time slip by, but, if you read my other post, it was a rough year. I let a lot of things slide. One thing I did not let slide, however, was taking the time each and every day to enjoy my little Gabriel. From the moment he was born, I have done my best to live in the NOW, not in the past and not for the future. Gabriel has been a joy every day. He has such an easy-going personality. I am ever grateful for this because I don't know if I'd have the stamina to handle a difficult baby at my ripe old age. Gabriel was a great sleeper for his first four months, averaging one wake-up per night, which usually required a feeding and then back to sleep. Somewhere around the four-month mark (this coincided with my mom's arrival to Providence), he started waking up more and more. Now I don't even bother to keep track or check the time. I just roll over, feed him, pick him up and snuggle him, or do whatever it takes to get him back to sleep. Usually it's pretty easy and I find I'm not as tired as I would have expected given the frequency. Maybe I'm just adapting.

In his first several months, Gabriel was growing and gaining weight so fast, he was off the charts. By his 2-month checkup, he weighed over 16 lbs! Of course, he was big from birth, but he was gaining about 1 lb. per week for awhile there. I was starting to worry he'd be bigger than me by his first birthday. Fortunately, he slowed down and now he's still in the 90th percentile for weight and off the charts for length (maybe he gets the tall genes from my mom's side of the family... time will tell). We'll find out how he's doing at his next checkup (9 month) on Feb. 9.

Gabriel is smiley and has the best giggle. He loves his big sister and wiggles with excitement whenever she's around. He loves Cheerios, something he can now easily feed himself, and is slowly getting on board with other foods. Yo Baby peach yogurt is a special favorite. He is the pickiest eater of my three babies, which is interesting to me. They are all different. Like Natalie, Gabriel is quite a drooler and has been seen sporting the "diaper bib" that many people used to think so funny when Natalie wore hers. Hey, it works better than replacing cold, wet, soggy bibs every 10 minutes.

A Major Scare
Shortly after Gabriel was born, we bought a little device called a Snuza. It's a tiny little movement monitor that clips onto his diaper and rests against his belly to monitor his breathing. It it goes for 20 seconds without any movement, it sounds an alarm. Shortly after Thanksgiving, I had put Gabriel down for a nap in his crib. (He sleeps with me at night, but we were encouraging napping in the crib now that he is more mobile to keep him safe.) Because he could roll over from his back to his belly, I was checking him frequently throughout the nap. I had found him completely face down on the mattress a couple of times, and turned him over so he could breathe easier. About two hours into the nap, I was just starting dinner and heard the Snuza alarm go off through the regular sound monitor in the room. I bolted up the stairs, and found Gabriel completely face down in his crib. I immediately scooped him up and shook him to wake him up. A couple seconds went by and then he opened his eyes. I am fairly certain that he had stopped breathing and that little Snuza and my quick reaction may have saved his life. I don't even want to think about it. Suffice it to say, I was freaking out. I called the pediatrician and they have arranged for Gabriel to see a sleep specialist. The appointment was originally scheduled for last week, but we had a big snowstorm and it was cancelled. Now, we wait until Feb. 2 to meet with this doctor and see if there's anything we can do to figure out why little Gabriel may have stopped breathing. Is there a neurological malfunction in his brain that caused him to not turn his head so he could breathe? Why does he tend to sleep completely face down? Is there any possible connection that could explain why Natalie died? Is it a genetic problem our children have?? These are all questions we hope to get answers for. In the meantime, it's been stressful for me and Chris whenever Gabriel is asleep. Increasingly, he wants to roll over and sleep on his belly. At night, I cannot let him do this and often end up wrestling with him, both of us sleepy, to keep him on his back or at least slightly cocked to the side. For naps, we no longer use the crib, but strap him into a little recliner chair so he can't roll over. He doesn't like it sometimes, but that's the way it must be for now. Oh, when will the universe give us a break!!??

Here are pictures of our little Gabe, the cutest little guy in the world!

A sad goodbye

2010 turned out to be a very difficult year. Aside from the joy of welcoming baby Gabriel to our family in May and Roslyn's general wonderfulness, it was a rough year. Two weeks after Gabriel's birth, my mom had to be rushed to the hospital after becoming so dehydrated from a bad bout of diarrhea and vomiting that she almost died. She recovered, but unfortunately, the experience left her mobility greatly impaired. This, on top of being diagnosed with Parkinson's in April, was not good. My brother spent the summer with my mom at her home in Las Vegas (no, I'm not from there... she moved there from Michigan, where I grew up, in 1997), and together we made her realize that she could no longer live alone. She had to come to Providence, which is something Chris and I had been trying to convince her to do for years. She arrived in mid-August following some other medical issues that required further testing once she got here. She had her tests and by mid-September, she and I were sitting in the office of the chief oncologist at The Miriam Hospital listening to the unbelievable diagnosis: "You have a large malignant mass on your duodenum... prognosis is 5-7 months. Surgery is not an option because it has spread to the liver and other organs... Chemotherapy is not likely to be helpful, but is an option for you..." My mom and I have a good cry. She decided to go ahead with the chemo... she felt to do otherwise would be giving up. She needed to fight it as best she could. Sadly, the doctor's prognosis of 5-7 months became a reality of 5-7 weeks and my mom passed away on October 23. My brother was able to return from Korea, where he lives, to be with her and we were both by her side when she took her last breath. Another traumatic experience that haunts me. And another grief I must bear. Rest in peace, beloved mother.