Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Beautiful Brain

As some of you may have noticed with the long duration between my posts I've been away from writing for a while.  I started this Blog when my wife and I had our first daughter Marissa, it was a perfect release for a Dad that worked from home.  Things changed dramatically when my wife Marla became pregnant with our second child Olivia.

Marla and I often joke to ourselves about how her pregnancies seem to be "a walk in the park" for her, with no difficulties.  This would've been true in the case of our second child if Marla would not have suffered a seizure the night before she had an emergency C-section.  It was the 4th of July 2011 and Marla had been suffering from    a bad headache all day.  We had been at a friends house earlier that evening to have dinner and to watch the fireworks form their back yard.  Marla wasn't feeling well so we went home so she could go to sleep to try to relieve her headache.  Marla went to bed and quickly fell asleep, I wasn't tired so I watched TV in bed.  From time to time as some pregnant women do Marla suffered the occasional calf cramp, and this seem to be the case that night because as I sat in the bed next to her she seem to take in a quick gasp of air that led me to believe that she was experiencing a calf cramp, I quickly realized that this was something else entirely different, Marla was in trouble.  Marla was having a seizure, and at the time I was so frantic that I did not recognize the symptoms of a seizure, the body becoming stiff as a board, problem breathing, incoherent to what was happening to her at the time, locked jaw, and unresponsive to anything I said to her.  Marla started to turn blue because she was on her back and her tongue was blocking her air way.  I tried frantically to get her mouth open to breath some air into her, to no avail, each second seemed like hours.  Many years ago I was a lifeguard at a water park and  from that training I though to myself I need to get her on her side because I need to protect her airway, fortunately I turned he on her left side which was also good for the baby she was carrying at the time.  Thankfully when I turned her on her side she started to take deep breaths, and the color started to return to her face, I was so relieved.  I was finally able to call 911 and get paramedics to assist me.  The paramedics knew it was a seizure right away from the description of events that I had given them.  It must have been quite a surprise for Marla to finally come to and see our bedroom filled with Fire department, paramedics, and not know why they were there, she had no memory of the event what so ever.  She was taken to the hospital she was pre-registered at to deliver our child, and I gathered up our 18 month old Marissa, and followed shortly behind the ambulance to the hospital.  Once I arrived at the hospital Marla was completely awake and alert considering the circumstances, and in disbelief of what had just happened to her.  I thanked the paramedics, and they told me that I had done everything right, and that I saved my wife's and our unborn child's life.  Doctors gave Marla something for her headache, and decided to do some further tests on her the next morning because her vitals were atypical for a pregnant woman suffering from what they thought might have been preeclampsia?  The next morning Marla was taken to another floor to have an MRI done, I went in with her because considering what had just happened the night before I wasn't letting her out of my sight.  They wheeled her bed into a receiving room where they made sure she didn't have any metal object on her (the MRI machine is essentially a giant magnet), then took her into the room where the MRI machine was.  The room was kept very cold, I was told it's because of the equipment in the room. They instructed Marla that it would take about 45 minutes to get all the scans that they needed, and to remain very still while in the MRI tube...which was a joke considering how cold it was in the room.  They covered Marla with warm blankets and started the test.  We returned to Marla's maternity room and awaited the results from the MRI, our OBGYN was giving us our delivery options of vaginal delivery or c-section pending the results of the MRI, she then left the room to check on another patient that was about to deliver too.  After some time our doctor did not return, but another doctor that we had never seen came to give us the results of the MRI.  We could tell by the somber look on his face that the news was not going to be favorable, but we had no clue as to the bombshell he was about to drop on us.

Marla's MRI showed a massive tumor on her right frontal lobe, the tumor was a little smaller than the size of a racquetball.  It was displacing the right hemisphere of her brain so much that it caused her to have a seizure.  The doctor was amazed at the fact that she didn't exhibit more signs that something was not right, but to us all her symptoms were consistent with pregnancy, even her occasional headaches.  Marla and I  by nature are positive people, and maybe by some grand design we didn't have a lot of time to be down about the bad news we had just received.  Marla and I decided that we were not going to let this news affect us negatively, and that we were going to deliver our baby via c-section and do whatever we needed to do to treat her for the tumor and move on with our lives.  At the time of the news of the tumor we had no idea if the tumor was benign or malignant, and the plan was for Marla to deliver our daughter that day, have a day of rest then they would resect the tumor to relive pressure on her brain.  Before the c-section procedure they ask if I wanted them to call a family member to be with me and I replied "no, the most important person to me in the whole world is in that bed, so please take care of her".  The c-section was completed without any complications, and Marla was taken to the ICU where she would recover for a day before having her tumor resected.  Marla was in good spirits after the c-sections, with some aches in her mid section that were consistent with the surgery.  The nurse brought our daughter to the ICU anytime Marla requested, they seemed to be especially touched by our unique set of circumstances.  The next day Marla had the surgery to remove a portion of her tumor.  The surgery last just over 3 hours, and when Marla was wheeled into recovery I was allowed to sit with her while the anesthesia wore off.  Marla was alert and doing fine, but was unable to move her arms and legs on her left side, because the tumor was located on the right side of her brain the removal of a section of the tumor affected the left side of her body.  Marla was doing well the night after the surgery, but suffered some swelling the next day and had to be placed on a respirator to allow her to rest and give the swelling of her brain time to go took 11 days for that to happen.  Marla spent a month in the hospital recovering and learning how to walk and talk all over again, and then another month in a rehab facility regaining her strength she lost after being bed ridden for a month.

Marla has always been a great inspiration to me because she is just such an all around good person, who is loved by all who know her.  She has worked her way throughout this entire experience with a grace and dignity uncommon to most, and never losing her spirit to overcome this situation.  While in physical therapy Marla started a 6 week radiation treatment that would cause her to lose her hair in the area the radiation was focused on.  Marla has long hair that went to just above the middle of her back, and was a source of pride for her, as it probably would be for any woman.  Near the end of the radiation treatment, about the 5th week, her hair began to fall out in the radiated areas in the front of her head.  Of all the things she had gone through up till that point, the loss of her hair seemed to have the most affect on her.  When Her treatment was done Marla had another MRI that showed she was tumor free...I could only think when I saw this new scan in contrast to her original scan "what a Beautiful Brain".  I seemed to be more deeply affected by this news because I had consulted with the doctors every step of the way, and was so deeply moved when I realized that the decisions the doctors and I had made worked.  Though Marla's tumor was gone she still needed to undergo chemotherapy for a 2 year period, she is doing great and in her second year of treatment...tumor free.

By the way our daughter Olivia is a vibrant, healthy, and very active little girl.  This entire experience makes you put life into perspective, and allows you to focus on what is truly important in  This is the first thing I've written since this event started, partly because I have my hands full with my wife and 2 girls, but also because it is difficult to relive those events because all the feelings that I experienced during that period come rushing back as if it happened yesterday.  I worry about her everyday, but she made a promise when this whole thing started that she would get better, and she has kept her promise...remarkable.  The doctors call her the miracle patient because of the progress she made in just 3 months, going from a tumor almost the size of a racquetball to a clean scan in such a short period.

I look forward to posting more of my experiences with my wife and daughters in the coming days, because they are a wonderful inspiration to me, and I always hope to live up to their expectations, and return all the love and joy they give me each and every day.

Monday, February 11, 2013


I thought this would be a good place to start for new parents, because there is always a "trial and error" period...emphasis on the latter when searching for the right diaper for your baby. This is also a sensitive subject, because let's face it this is not the most enjoyable thing you will do with your baby, but it will become 'bonding' time for you and your child. Nothing says L-O-V-E to your baby than a clean diaper.

When trying diapers the important thing to consider is the 'fit'. To insure the proper fit know your baby's weight. In the first year of your baby's life you will see your pediatrician once a month, so take note of your baby's weight. When you are in the diaper isle with a "dumbfounded" expression from all the varieties you have to choose from, take note of the number or letter located on the front of the box. These numbers are associated with your baby's weight. If you see a letter it will either be a 'P' for Preemie, or a 'N' for Newborn. The numbers on the box are matched to a specific weight ranges.

Now that I'm down to only changing diapers on my third daughter Olivia, I've become quite the "Pro". It seems I can change a diaper very quickly, and sometimes in situations not always conducive to changing diapers.  You will come that you gravitate towards a specific diaper brand, for reason specific to your needs and the needs of your child, but I've prefer Pampers...they just work for me.  Though I've used Pampers on all my girls as they've grown up, I switched to Huggies Pull-Ups when my girls reached the potty training stage.

After you find the right diaper for your child the next thing you want to work on is speed.  This seems to come naturally to most mothers, and can be mastered by fathers too...I'm living proof of that.  I shutter when watching the YouTube videos of the father with goggles, glove, and tongs to change their babies diapers while almost vomiting...they aren't doing Dad's around the word any favors with their antics.  Speed is a must in my opinion because you never know when your child is done "reliving" themselves, I have been pooped and pee'd on a few times by my daughters.  I thought that because I have all girls that I didn't have to worry about the "pee fountain" that baby boys boys can sometimes simulate, but quite the contrary...girls can have a good amount of pressure behind their urine...changer beware.  So, clean them up and get the diaper on quickly to avoid any unexpected and untimely fluid releases.

Most people learn early on when changing diapers with their new baby what diapers work, and the ones that do not.  Find that perfect fit for you and your child, and save your child from agony of diaper rash, and all the irritation that a dirty diaper can bring by staying on top of the "diaper changes".

Share your diapers stories, I would love to hear about your experiences.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Daddy's no Mommy!

I've been contemplating the differences between Mom's and Dad's now that I'm a WAHD, and I've gained a greater perspective of the differences.  In recent years one of the debates has been who is best when raising children Mom or Dad... this question isn't going to be answered here. My own personal belief is that the best parent is a loving parent, Mom or Dad.

I'm a contractor by profession, and in my field I'm able to work from home during the day and work on projects at night.  Due to my schedule I spend a lot of my time with my 22 month old daughter Marissa, and I've come to notice how different my parenting skills are compared to my wife's.  I have to say that by nature my wife Marla is far more patient (measured in light years) than I am, or anyone I've ever know.  I always tell my wife that she is going to out live me because patient and laid back attitude.

People that know me consider me to be a 'clean freak', and I say "I'm not a clean freak, I'm just clean conscience".  This "personality trait" has a direct affect on the way that I parent.  Example; my wife can spend time with Marissa, not paying any attention to the mound of toys strewn about like a bomb went off, or any mess made for that matter.  When I spend time with my daughter the experience though enjoyable; is quite different, and cleaner by far.  Our daughter flows seamlessly from one parenting style to the other... she knows when she's in 'Rome', and when she's not.

You don't have to be a genius to know that the next difference is based on our physical make-up as a man and woman.  I spend 80 % my time wrestling, chasing, and tickling my daughter, we play hard and we are usually exhausted when we are done (a bonus at nap time).  My wife does not play physically in any form or fashion with our daughter; as a matter of fact most of their time is spent reading books and playing with stuffed animals... definitely the softer side of play.

When it comes to non-injury "Boo Boo's" we are similar in our initial response... we wait to see how Marissa responds to the pain... and I must say "she is a tough cookie".  When Marissa does cry I wish that I could conjure up some of mommy's loving tenderness, but it always seems to come out as "your okay, don't cry, daddy will get the duct-tape".  The interesting thing is she seems to get injured more when she is with her mom, the "laid back" nature doesn't always equal safety.

Differences aside, the beauty of the "Mother Father dynamic" is that you receive a wonderful balance that can make for well rounded child.

Enjoy the differences between you, and feel free to share your stories here.

Tech Babys

Today I was watching my daughter play with my wife's phone; and realized that she's mastered our smart phones, iPad, iPods, and iMac at the ripe old age of 23 months.  I started thinking about how the world has changed since I was a child to now... what a chilling thought.  Today we can get a hold of anyone at any time, located almost anywhere on the planet and know exactly where they are with a push of a button. I never imagined that I would have children that would learn to use a complex computers before they would learn to tie their shoes.

When I was a child if you couldn't reach your friend on the phone, you would simply call back in an hour or so, not try every phone number and text address you have on your phone.  The amazing thing is that children's capacity to learn is immense, but is what they are learning that good for them... a question for another post.

I often think back to the time when I didn't feel cut off from the world if I left the house without my cell phone, or the joy of seeing red illuminated number of all the messages on our enormous answering machine (all technology was big in the 70's).

I'm not looking forward to is my daughters involvement with text "lingo".  It drives me crazy when I see my nieces typing in shortened "text" lingo when they are using a full keyboard.  When I see LOL, LMAO, BRB, or  OMG used all the time I think WTF!  Maybe the people at FB and Twitter knew what they where doing when they limited the characters you can use in a text, because when it comes right down to it there is little substance in a lot of text's and tweets.

The upside to the technology is that it has become more 'mobile'  than ever.  We can take the cool educational games on our iPad just about everywhere to keep our daughter entertained.  She has also becomes comfortable  with computers at an early age.

The down side is that we have become so much more 'impersonal' than any time in recent history.  It seems we text at times because we don't want to take the time to have a "real" conversation... I wish my mom would text at times.  I also find that a lot of people say things in texts they would never say directly to a person, which leads me to believe that it probably shouldn't be said if that is the case.

I love that my daughter gets the most pleasure out of direct contact with her mom and I, and would still prefer to play at the beach or park more than texting friends from the couch, for now anyway.  I love to see the joy my daughter gets from learning new things; and the wonder of exploring, now if I can just teach her how to balance it all?

My wife's aunt sent me an email once that said "don't let your baby's grow up to be jpegs" because we rarely printed out any of the hundreds of pictures we have stored on our computer, I guess the same should be said about exposing our children to too much technology, too fast... I don't know how that jingle would go?

It all comes down to being smart about how and to what extent we allow our children access to technology, and I definitely don't want it to have the "dummy down" affect on my kids.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Baby Talk

The title of this post probably elicits an image of a Hallmark or Johnson&Johnson commercial: the new mother nose to nose with her baby, making soft cooing sounds, in a language only a mother and child understand... close but not exactly what I mean. No, I'm talking about the way we take the magic of rudimentary communication with our 'toddlers' for granted every day before they learn to speak.

Before I had a child of my own, I would contemplate how amazing it was that my Weimaraner (dog) 'CoCo' had learned a number of commands in English, yet it was a shot in the dark figuring out what her barks and actions meant past her nudging her food bowl to let me know she's hungry. Who is the smart one us or dogs; dogs understands some English and we humans don't understand any "dog talk", if you watch the TV show COPS the jury could still be out on that one, but I digress.

My daughter is 21 months old and is proficient with the typical words used by children her age, but the real magic is how many things she can get her Mom and I to do without being able to verbalize what she wants. I don't have any boys, but girls can be pretty "sassy" at this age. Not to worry though, I hear they grow out of it in their twenties... I hope? If the door isn't locked on my office while I'm working my daughter will march in, take me by the hand and lead me like a 'child' to what ever suits her fancy at that moment, and "no" is not an option to her. Who knew that the simple act of pointing could be so affective? If only I could go into a meeting with clients and 'point' to a contract and then magically we were on the same page, and I leave with signed documents (I can dream).

My daughter let me know it was time to potty train her by going to her diaper bag and bringing me her changing pad and wipes when she wanted her diaper changed, if that doesn't say "keep up with the program Daddy" I don't know what does. When sign language isn't working, and she grows tired of my perplexed look she has been known to slide a bar stool around the kitchen and climb up to get what she wants...and I thought my dog CoCo was smart.

Our children are receiving and processing an alarming amount of information the entire time they are awake (heavens knows what they are learning while they sleep), if we are aware of it or not. If you say or do it in view of your children it's just a matter of time before you will see them doing it. The sad thing is that when you as parents grow to a ripe old age and lose your capacity to speak, pretty much trading places with where your kids are at this age, they won't have a clue as to what you are trying to say. Oh well, enjoy it while it last because there will be no misunderstanding when my daughter becomes a teenager and "rolls" me for money to go to the mall.

So next time your toddler gets you to do something non verbally take the time to marvel in their 'genius' to get their point across without speaking.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Find Your Release

Between raising our kids (which as we all know is a full-time job), work, and endless household things, it is easy to forget that we need time for ourselves.  Any parent worth their salt will tell you that being a "parent" means sacrifices (a lot of sacrifices), but we often forget to change gears from the 'caretaker' to a person that takes care of themselves.

Before I had children of my own I use to see the tot-lot "Mommy" groups, mothers out walking their kids together and mothers out interacting with one another.  What I came to realize is that I wasn't seeing the real "magic" of these mothers interacting with each other to help keep their "sanity".

It is so important as parents that we find a "release" that lets us to blow off steam, and stay in that "well balanced realm" of parenting.  If you don't have something to do that brings you back to "center" you will be robbing yourself, and everyone around you of a "sane person".  I know this can be a sensitive subject because there is a level of guilt that is associated with doing things for ourselves... let it go.  We aren't good to anyone if we can't as "parents" find a way to balance our personal, and mental health within our everyday lives.

One of my favorite releases is playing basketball on the weekend with a group of friends that have played together for many years (typical male stuff) .  Coming from an athletic background basketball rejuvenates me for the entire week to come (most of the week anyway).  The thought of playing basketball with a group of sweaty, and at times angry men may not be your "cup of tea", but it is important that you find "something" that you enjoy.  My wife Marla (bless her heart) is more than happy to send me off early in the morning Saturday and Sunday to get my 'fix', because she knows all too well what it's like when I don't get to play... it's hard to believe but it's not a pretty picture.

How do you find that "thing" you ask, find parents that have walking groups and join in.  Get involved in the as I like to call them "tot-lot forums" at your local tot-lot.  Find a quiet place and read.  Spend some quality time at the mall.  Whatever you wind up doing, the time you spend recharging you mental batteries is invaluable to those around you... namely your kids!  My wife loves listening to other peoples "controversy" because she says that she doesn't have any of her own, this  is the beauty of group interaction!  It is comical listening to her rehash what she's heard... interesting stories is all I will say about that.  Find the thing that can be your little slice of heaven, so you can be at your best for the ones you love.  In the immortal words of my father-in-law use the "K.I.S.S." method, simply translated... Keep It Simple Silly!

Find Your Release, and you will be on your way to mental and physical good health!

Feel free to share your positive "Release" stories.

Love & Peace!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's the Little Things...

It's easy to get caught up in the dizzying affects of our busy day to day lives, but it's important to take a step back and take notice of the little things that can bring a smile to your face.  If you take a second to notice you will see that your little ones give you reason to smile all day long, every day.
My daughter Marissa does not like to go to sleep, and when I say she doesn't like it I mean she would rather have all her baby teeth pulled with no Novocain.  Ok, that might be a little bit of an embellishment, but you get the point.  She will put on her best crying act, scream and yell (she could give Mariah Carey a run for her money when hitting the high notes), and yet a lot of the time we will still find ourselves laughing at something she does to get out of going to sleep.  There are many things that your children can do to give you that deep down warm feeling of being a parent, and in a manner that only your children can provide.  One things that touches my heart every day is that big smile that you know is reserved for you... and only you.  The first time your child is able to say "Daddy", or "Mommy"... priceless!  The warm greeting you get when you return home, or the waves from the window when you leave for work make for golden memories you will cherish later.

Time is "fleeting", and it seems that our children become young adults in an 'blink of an eye', so enjoy these precious moments now because you will never get them back.

Share your "Precious Moments" with us.