Our Little Founding Father

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thank you to everyone who has offered us your support, prayers, and faith at this time. We feel good about tomorrow and know that all will be well.

On a lighter note, we thought we'd give you an early Halloween treat. Awhile ago, as C's hair was falling out in the front, we joked that she would make a good Founding Father for Halloween (a la Thomas Jefferson - long, red hair pulled back in a bow, with little britches, tights and shiny black shoes, and, of course, her stoic look rounds out the picture). We finally gave in, so, here she is, our little Founding Father...

We didn't make her stay in that outfit for long. Here's a picture from the end of tonight's feeding, all relaxed and prepared for tomorrow.

ASD Closure

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Here's Caro showing off her improved coordination (bringing her hands to mid-line) and exploring things with her mouth.

On October 29th, Caroline's ASD will be closed with a catheter procedure. You may remember that as recently as September, her cardiologist told us he thought an open-heart operation would be required to close the ASD. However, after some consideration and consultation with other specialists (and, we think, some prayers on our part), the cardiologist now believes he can close the ASD with the much less invasive catheter procedure.

The procedure will last about 2 hours. Typically, this is an outpatient procedure, but the doctors think they'll keep Caro overnight. Bryce and I feel that this is the right course for C; it will make her much stronger in many ways (breathing, therapies, etc.) and will prepare her for her cranial surgery if we go forward with that.

Although the cardiologist thinks he can close the ASD with the catheter procedure, he said there is a possibility it may not be successful, in which case they would perform open-heart surgery. We obviously really don't want that but feel good about going forward with this.

So, we have decided to have faith that all will be well. We've also decided to ask for your faith, prayers, and fasting on October 28th, the Sunday prior, on behalf of Caroline - that her procedure will be successful so open-heart surgery won't have to be done. With everyone behind us, Bryce and I know that we can drive up to the hospital on the 29th with courage in our hearts.

Thursday's Thought

"Think of a thought for the blog?!? How about 'people need 8 hours of sleep!'"

-Bryce to Erika, after Erika continued to look for quotes for the blog at 11:00 at night

Stats Update

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"I'm recovered and back to working on my head control!"

"Ok, now I'm tired."

Caro had an appointment with the Gastroenterologist (GI) doctor today, and she is now.....

12lbs. 11.5 oz. and 26 inches!

These numbers are especially good considering she was very sick/in the hospital for some of the month.

Funny dialogue with the GI today (note - PG language ahead) -

Doctor: (Walks into the room, sits down, looks back and forth between Caroline and her chart) Wow, she really looks great, doesn't she?
Me: Yes
Doctor: Really, I think she looks very good - getting chubby, nice pink color. REALLY, she has improved a lot.
Me: Yes, yes I agree - it's great to see.
Doctor: I mean, when she first came in, she was skin and bones, no cheeks, I could see her ribs...(widened his eyes)...scared the hell out of me!


Easy Asian Potstickers

Monday, October 8, 2007

Your vote decided! The recipe you wanted is "Easy Asian Potstickers" - well, Cook's Illustrated called it "Easy" anyway. It's easy once you get the hang of it, but, let me tell you, this recipe is worth any trouble it takes - they're excellent! Also, make sure to use excellent ground pork (the first time I made this, I bought the pork from Whole Foods - A+; the next time I made it, I bought the pork from Smith's - B+).

Makes 24 dumplings, 6 first course servings

We prefer to use gyoza wrappers. You can substitute wonton wrappers, but the cooking time and recipe yield will vary (see the chart below Step 3). Potstickers are best served hot from the skillet; we recommend that you serve the first batch immediately, then cook the second batch. To freeze potstickers, place filled, uncooked dumplings in the freezer in a single layer on a plate until frozen, then transfer to a storage bag. There's no need to thaw frozen potstickers; just proceed with the recipe.

3 cups minced napa cabbage leaves
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 pound ground pork
6 tablespoons minced scallions (about 4 medium scallions, white and green parts)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 medium clove garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
2 egg whites , lightly beaten
24 gyoza wrappers , round, (see note above)
4 teaspoons vegetable oil

1. Toss cabbage and salt in colander or mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Let stand until cabbage begins to wilt, about 20 minutes; press cabbage gently with rubber spatula to squeeze out excess moisture. Combine cabbage and all other filling ingredients in medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
2. Place 4 wrappers flat on work surface (keep remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap). Place one slightly rounded tablespoon filling in center of each wrapper. Using pastry brush or fingertip, moisten edge of wrapper with water. Fold each wrapper in half; starting in center and working toward outside edges, pinch edges together firmly to seal, pressing out any air pockets. Position each dumpling on its side and gently flatten, pressing down on seam to make sure it lies flat against work surface. Repeat to form 24 dumplings. (Filled dumplings can be refrigerated overnight in single layer on baking sheet wrapped tightly with plastic wrap.)
3. Add 2 teaspoons oil to 12-inch nonstick skillet and quickly spread oil with paper towel to distribute evenly. Arrange 12 dumplings in skillet, lying flat on one side, with all seams facing same direction, overlapping just slightly, if necessary. Place skillet over medium-high heat and cook, without moving, until dumplings are golden brown on bottoms, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add 1/2 cup water to skillet, and cover immediately. Cook, covered, until most of water is absorbed and wrappers are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Uncover skillet and increase heat to medium-high; cook, without stirring, until dumpling bottoms are well browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes more. Turn off burner and slide dumplings from skillet onto double layer paper towels, browned side down, to blot excess oil. Transfer to platter and serve immediately with Scallion Dipping Sauce (see related recipe). Let skillet cool until just warm, then wipe skillet clean and repeat with remaining dumplings and oil.

Choosing the Right Wrap: Tasters preferred the slightly chewy texture of gyoza-style wrappers to thinner wonton wrappers, but both styles produced terrific potstickers. Although we developed our recipe using round wrappers, square or rectangular wrappers can be used as well. Here's how to adjust filling amount and steaming time. Because the smaller wrappers yield more dumplings, you'll need to cook them in multiple batches. (For wrapping instructions, see instructions below.)

Round gyoza (3 3/4 inches diameter), fill with 1 rounded tablespoon, steam for 10 minutes
Round wonton (3 3/4 inches diameter), fill with 1 rounded tablespoon, steam for 6 minutes
Square wonton (3 3/8 inches square), fill with 2 rounded teaspoons, steam for 6 minutes
Rectangular wonton (3 1/4 inches by 2 3/4 inches), fill with 1 rounded teaspoon, steam for 5 minutes

STEP BY STEP: Wrapping Potstickers
The instructions below are for round wrappers, our preferred shape. If using square wrappers, fold diagonally into a triangle (step 2) and proceed with the recipe. For rectangular wrappers, fold in half lengthwise.
1. FILL: Place rounded tablespoon of filling in center of gyoza wrapper.
2. FOLD: After moistening edge of wrapper, fold it in half to make half-moon shape.
3. PINCH: With forefinger and thumb, pinch dumpling closed, pressing out any air pockets.
4. FLATTEN: Place dumpling on its side and press gently to flatten bottom.

STEP BY STEP: Clearing the Air
During testing, we discovered that air left between wrapper and filling can cause "ballooning" during steaming, as the wrapper puffs up and away from the meat. The result? A messy first bite. Once we were mindful to press the air out before sealing the wrappers, our potstickers came out right every time.

She's Home!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Caro on Wednesday

We got to bring Caroline home this afternoon! Her infection is clearing up thanks to antibiotics. We now have several medicines to give to her for the next few weeks which will help her continue to get healthy. She's now back at her regular level of oxygen. She is exhausted (as are we!) and has been sleeping a majority of the time since Thursday. Thank you for your support during this hard time - we appreciate your calls, emails, thoughts, prayers, and other acts of service.

Caro today before being released - so tired!

"She'll be out tomorrow"

Friday, October 5, 2007

That's what we were told today - again - they may mean it this time. She has a UTI but is being given antibiotics for that - not a serious thing, except that we get to add a pediatric urologist to her doctor roster. Her fever is gone, and her lungs are clear. She's still very drowsy and lathargic and hasn't quite been weaned back off of the increased oxygen they initially gave her in the ER.

Today was an "it's too hard" day. I keep attempting to write what I feel and then I delete it because once it's on the screen it looks trite and I don't want pity - I just want to tell the truth. Because this hospitalization has been awful. There's no other way to say it.

Today, for instance, a test for her bladder involved the nurse putting in a catheter while I had to hold her legs down and she screamed in pain and kept going through diaper after diaper during the insertion. Or the diagnotics staff that poke her 3 times to find her veins each time they have to take blood samples. Unfortunately, this torture is only the tip of the iceberg.

There's the constant interruptions by nurses and other staff (including a nurse "asking" to show her students Caroline's g-tube because they've never seen one in person - like she's some kind of wierd oddity - just when Caro has finally drifted off to sleep), alarms perpetualy beeping adding quiet stress to each moment, and, the most bleak, listening to the crying and scared children in the other rooms. When I hear them, I remember what I keep trying to ignore - that she's going to have to be in and out of hospitals her whole life - the place where the negative parts of having a child with special-needs - the worry, the fear, and the isolation - are abundantly accentuated.

So, that stress peaked today. But, as I'm writing this now, I remember two points. First, I remember gratitude - for my husband, for our families, for our spiritual and financial stability, for the simple fact that Caroline is with us at all. Second, I remember to live one day at a time, that I can do one day. I can't do my whole life, but I can do one day.

Not out yet

Thursday, October 4, 2007

She's still in the hospital - may get released tomorrow. She seems much more stable. She slept all last night and most of the day today. Her fever has stayed away, and her lungs sound clearer. One bad thing, preliminary tests show that she has an infection in her bladder and/or urine; we'll know more tomorrow after the official results from that and from the kidney ultrasound they did today have been evaluated. The docs didn't sound too concerned about it, but they do want to know everything before we're sent home.

Getting better

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

After another awful night last night (slept maybe 1 hr. the whole night and had an incident where her O2 saturation levels went down to 27%), she's doing better today. This morning, her temp was around 99.9, but by 5 or so it was normal (98.6). Granted, that is with Tylenol, but they've been giving her fewer and fewer doses of it and the fever's still down. The docs aren't using the word "pneumonia" any more - now saying slight respiratory distress. By the end of the day, her lungs were sounding much clearer and her breathing treatments (albuterol/pulmicort) have been reduced by half. Plus, she's started sleeping peacefully this evening, so hopefully that will continue through the night.

The physician's assistant even said she may get to go home tomorrow, but we haven't heard that from the offical doctor yet so we'll be keeping our fingers crossed.

Sidenote, the cranial surgeon called me today. He conferred with Caro's cardiologist, who agrees that the open-heart surgery on her ASD should be done before the cranial surgery and that it can be done soon. They both want to talk with a few more colleagues, so we'll see... ugh, no more hospitals, no more doctors!!!


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Caroline was admitted into the hospital this afternoon. She was up all last night coughing, very congested. Then at 7am, we took her temperature and it was 102 degrees. I took C into the pediatrician, and by then, the pediatrician's office had her fever at 105.5. The pediatrician also diagnosed C with an ear infection, diarrhea, and respiratory distress. She decided to have her admitted to the hospital right away. Bryce met me and we drove to the ER. Once in the Pediatric Triage area of the ER, her temp was still at 103 - they immediately administered medicine. After 4 hours of examinations, x-rays, blood tests, and IV insertions, she was officially admitted to the Peds Intermediate Care Unit (one level less severe than Intensive Care and one more severe than the Regular Peds Unit). She tested negative for RSV (good!), and her temperature started going down because of the medicine - last number was at 99.8. The results of her chest x-ray didn't indicate severe pneumonia, but the doctors still think she has slight pneumonia based on her symptoms of fever and respiratory distress.

They think she'll be in there for about 2 days, but it will all depend on if what we saw today is the worst of what she has or only the beginning. Tonight they'll be giving her respiratory treatments every 2 hours and suctioning her airways every 4 hours. We can't believe this is happening after all we've done to protect her, but we truly feel like she'll recover and come back home with us to continue thriving. We just have to accept that this health rollercoaster comes with raising Caroline.

Will keep you posted as we can.

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