Thursday, October 20, 2011

oh how I look up to you

Dr. Laurie Armsby and Dude 10/20/2011
Lately, I haven't felt very... into blogging. There's only so much talking about yourself and your family that you can put up with. Not to mention, I feel like things are so monotonous and there's not much to write about. Dominic keeps progressing and his spirits are so... well...  Dominic. It's so nice to have him "back". He's the talk of the floor! (Which is what I'm so used to) He's broken just about every one of the nurses hearts because he won't let them take the place of his girlfriends, Taryn and Medow. The guys on the floor think he's so rad and they all invite him to talk shop with them and flirt with the nurses :) It seems as if life is how it should be.

Today we went back to OHSU for some follow ups on his lungs and what not. It was the best feeling when Dude ...walked... into Dr. Armsby's office to surprise her. She hugged him like he was her own and it brought tears to my eyes. It was the most touching reunion. She was so strong when we found out about his strokes and she is always so great about being up front and honest with me. She didn't look scared and she didn't seem worried at the time... but she sure looked excited and relieved for us. All of his tests came back GREAT. His surgery is holding up really well, and his lungs are doing great.

I think I have a date for our Lanterns. And I think I have a good reason to pick this date. I will share more about it later but for now.. if you are going to order them... order them; and, if you're going to make them.. start making them. I really hope that everyone shows up to send their thanks for answered prayers. Not only will it look amazing to see all of these lanterns in the sky, but I know it will show Dominic, just how many people love him and have been praying for him through all of this.
I ordered mine through and they are under 2.00. If you have friends that want to order, I would suggest ordering them together, or you can always email me {} and we can order them all together.

I really feel as if I'm being pressed to do something big with the situation I've been dealt. I sort of always have felt this way, but lately, it's stronger than ever. I hope that after Dude is all healed up, you continue to follow us and support us as this is not the end of our journey. Big things will come of this, and we will be asking for your help and your prayers again. :) I can't thank you enough for sticking with us this far! I have been blessed and so has Dude.

with love,

Friday, October 14, 2011

Live it like a Movie...

I know it's been a little while since my last post... but things have been CRAZY here! Even though Dominic is in therapy almost 5 hours a day, I some how am crazy busy all the time! When Dude is around, there's lots of trips to the bathroom, because he can tell me now when he has to go. And, when he's gone, I'm cleaning up everything that doesn't get cleaned when he's here, making myself eat when I can, showering when I can... 
10/14/2011 Crashing into things :)

Some GREAT news here... Remember when we got transfered to Legacy Emanuel?? Dominic couldn't do anything for himself... infact, he didn't even want to get out of bed for the most part! 

Now, he's not only moving his right side... A LOT, but,
 he's able to hold himself in a sitting position...
 he's using his right arm to help him sit up... 
he's opening both hands... 
he's holding a pencil with his left hand... 
he can feed himself...

being silly
Okay well, when he walks, he looks a little bit like Weekend at Burnies, but he's walking on his own! He also gets a little bit tired as he walks... but he's walking ten's hundred's of feet at a time! I'm so proud of him! 

It's so crazy to think of how I felt that day when we found out that he had had a stroke. I was scared and I didn't know what to think, or what to expect. Anyone who has ever met Dude... knows him for his charming personality. If he couldn't get that back.. what would he be like? On top of that, sports are his life! He had been looking forward to this surgery so that he could actually keep up with the other kids... and this is what happens. 

Occupational Therapy with Alaina
... and Toren
Funny thing though, during surgery, Dr. Armsby came out and was chatting with us just about him and life... She had mentioned just how strong she believed Dominic to be. She had said that there was only so much she could do and so much she was doing.. Dominic had always met her more than half way. His will has kept him with us more than any medical procedure ever could. 

(: Portland :)
Music Therapy: Dominic Playing the Guitar
I think that this trip has shown that her belief is more than true. Dominic is not only my love, but my strength, my courage, my fighter, my everything. I have to say, I come from a long line of people who don't like to be told what to do. I also come from a longer line of people who are willing to work hard for what they want and what they believe in and it has all come to a head with him. He is the epitome of all of the above. He is only 5 and has told the doctors, No! I am going to make it through all of this... And he has worked harder than all of us combined. It makes me so incredibly proud. (As I've said a million times before hehe)

Have any of you been thinking about the lantern idea?? Because, you might want to start thinking about getting those lanterns in your possession. I have this hunch that something big might happen soon :)

I hope you all are having an amazing day like we are!
And sorry the video is sideways :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Story of Auntie Tia

Tia and I, being Tia and I
To be quite fair... we should start at the beginning. I'm talking, day one. I actually remember the day my little sister was born. Not the whole day, mind you I was only 2! But never the less, I remember things about that day. I remember my dad throwing my cousin up in the air and begging for my turn. I remember my grandma trying to keep me busy as we waited... and I remember the first moment I met her. Ooohhhh I was so excited to see my baby sister! I loved her so much already!

Halloween 2007
From that day on, she didn't even stand a chance! We were inseparable, but it was perfect. Tia was (and still can be) so painfully shy, whereas I have never met a stranger in my life. I did all of the talking, and Tia did all of the thinking. I would say, we made a pretty great team. Thank God too, because our mom worked a lot when we were little, and we had to take care of each other.

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that we... shared... EVERYTHING! Sometimes unwillingly, but we did none the less. Up until I was in high school, we even shared a room, and when we got older, even ended up dating some of the same guys. (LOL)

Well we grew up, and despite our disagreements, nothing could touch the bond that we had formed. People tried to get between us, and it would work for maybe a month, but that was about it. I didn't think we could get much closer... and then I had Dominic.

When Dude was born, he looked just like Tia. In fact, when we would go out places, people always told her how cute her little boy was! Unless people knew he was mine, it was an automatic assumption that he was hers! Sometimes I was jealous of her stealing my thunder, but for the most part, I was okay with it.

On our way to the snow
At the beginning, it was me, Tia, and Dude. Tia was only 18 when he was born and she had her fun years ahead of her. She was free to do whatever it was that she wanted, but she chose us. She helped me unlike anything I could ever explain. She was just as much his mom as I was, and actually I used to joke around about how she was the best dad ever! If she knew that I had a long night, she would wake up with him in the morning. At work, when he couldn't go to daycare, she would keep him busy or grab him when I couldn't. She put her "auntie rights" on the back burner and helped me discipline him when he needed it. I'm not sure that she has gotten to spoil him and send him home yet. She would baby-sit anytime I ever needed it whether it be to go have fun, workout, or just take a nap, and not one time have I ever EVER heard her complain about having to watch him for me, or cook him dinner, or anything. I think she just assumed that he was her responsibility just as much as he was mine. There were even times when I would get so upset with him for whatever reason, and I would have to ask him, "Do you want me to go get Auntie?" and he would straighten right up. Those two built a bond that is just as strong as the one that her and I have built. It's just as strong as the bond that Dude and I have built!

Halloween 2009
Two years ago, Auntie met a wonderful guy, and so did I. (I wasn't joking! We do everything together!) They both treat us like princesses. These poor guys didn't realize when they met us, the package they were opening up. Aaron of course knew he was getting the girl and the kid, but he was unaware of the sister. Poor Seth met Tia and didn't realize that he was getting a sister and kid!

our "sister" tatoo's
A year ago, Seth got a job and he moved our Tia two hours away from us. It was one of the hardest transitions Dominic and I have faced. You see, unlike a lot of single moms out there, I always had her. I wasn't ever alone in raising him... she still always had my back. People would try and comfort me in telling me that it was only two hours away, but let me ask you this, have you ever had to drive two hours for dinner every single night? Because that's what we did! After working together all day long, we would cook dinner at each others houses, hang out for hours until bed time. Then we would wake up and do it all over again. We realized just how many friends we didn't hang out with when she left!

In the waiting room, right before surgery. 8/31/2011
Dominic still misses his Auntie. After his Papa, she is his favorite person in the world. He lights up whenever he talks about her, and talking to her on the phone makes his day. He and I are pretty lucky to have her. I thank God every single day for her and everything that she has done for me. (I'm still convinced that we are going to live next door to each other when we're old... or even in the same house, and be the same old crazy girls we were in our early twenties. Sorry Seth and Aaron!)

Hey Tia, if you are reading this... I love you more than anything. Thank you for being more than just a sister to me. You have been my teacher, my shoulder to cry on, my refuge, and most of all you have been the very best friend I could ever ask for. It's hard for me to imagine siblings not having the relationship that we have been so fortunate to have. There is nothing in this world that I wouldn't do for you. I hope you know that!
Oh and Seth, you are such a lucky guy! Thanks for taking care of my little sister. She means the world to me ya know, keep her safe and never let her cry!



Friday, October 7, 2011

My Big Announcement! 10-10-11

Monday is Dominic's half birthday. He has been more excited to turn 5 and a half, than he was every excited about turning 5. I would love, for his half birthday, to show him pictures of everyone who loves him and supports us! So if you have your gear, wear it and take a picture. If you don't, be creative! Make a sign and take a picture of yourself with it... shoot anything! I would also love love love to post them on my blog to prove how quickly love can travel and spread. SO, Monday October 10, 2011... Mark it in your calendar and do something with Dude in mind!
My facebook isn't working so I'm not able to see pictures that you all have posted, but please feel free to email them to me!!

Oh! And if you miss it, feel free to email me pictures of you showing your love anytime!

I have said it before, and I will say it again... it takes a village to raise a child and our village is an amazing one. Dominic and I have been so incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful people dropped into our laps and touch our lives! We appreciate every single one of you! THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The first conference

So, I had my first conference with Dude's therapists yesterday. It was a little bit intimidating at first. I walk into a room and everyone is watching me sit down. Now normally, I would love this attention... but it felt more like I was sitting down with all of my teachers because I was in trouble. Weird feeling. Anyways, everyone introduced themselves, there were about nine docs and therapists all together. Each one went around and told me what they work on with Dude 
-since I don't go down with him. He likes having his big boy time- 
It was fun listening to all of the things he could do now considering two and three weeks ago, he couldn't do anything but scream. They showed me pictures that he was coloring and telling me about how proud of them they all are. 
Take that feeling you get when you sit in on your child's parent teacher conference... multiply that by 10,000!
I was BEAMING... of course. But then, they started voicing their concerns or things he needs to work on. 

Let me give you a little insight on our lives as far as Dominic goes developmentally in the past 5 years. 

We came home from the hospital knowing that Dominic would be a little behind on a few things. His growth was obvious when at almost 2 months old... he was barely 7lbs. The staff at Doernbecher also said that he could be slower than most kids his age due to his hospital stay. At three months, he had his second (and third) heart surgery. It was still too soon to see just how behind he would be he spent the next almost 3 months in the hospital over coming multiple battles including coding in my arms, (second most scary day of my life), stomach surgery, failure to strive, and the list goes on. I can't count on one hand how many times he looked death in the face. 
We came home from that whole fiasco and noticed only minor deficiencies. (Such as, he couldn't roll over til he was about 8 months old) The most encouraging part, is that I saw his frustration. When he would try and do the things that his brain knew he was supposed to be doing, he would get MAD. I'm talking... so pissed off! He just didn't have the stamina that his brain wanted. This little boy was determined though! He would try and try and try until he was (literally) blue in the face, and then he would try again! by 9 months he was crawling and at 11 and 12 months, he was trying to walk... but of course, his body wouldn't let him. You see, his heart took up so many calories to pump his blood, that there weren't many left for nutrition and growth. So, he stayed small. The thing is, mentally he was so ahead of the curve. He was talking and communicating better than most kids his age. (I will never forget when he said his first words... no not word.. words. It was I love you, and it sounded like "I ya ya") 
Then it was like overnight, everything changed. Dominic had surgery in May of 2007. He was expected to be in the hospital for 2 months. We were in and out in 6 days! When we got home, he started walking.. no he started RUNNING! He was so happy! Not long after that, he was having adult conversations with me and Tia. He was amazing.

At 18mos I put him in daycare/preschool. He was such a charmer and you couldn't even tell that he had gone through anything at all. (except for that he was a little bluer than the other kids) The teachers at Building Blocks fell in love with him (and haven't fallen out yet). He was just as smart if not smarter than everyone in his class. It was one of those feelings where you want to just stick your tongue out at the docs and say... "TOLD YA!!" 

He turned 4 and went to Grace Christian Pre-School and again.. did great! He graduated and knew how to spell and write his first and last name. He could count to 20, and 100 by 10's. He knew his address, phone number, birthday, days of the week, months of the year... the list goes on and on and on. None of his teachers have ever had anything negative to say about my little guy. (Except that maybe he talks a little too much... but I mean, look at his mom! lol) 

So now, when the therapists voiced their concerns, I wasn't sure how to compute it. It hurt a little. Not for me, but for him. They all said that they can see his frustration. He remembers knowing how to do all of this stuff, and he just doesn't understand why he can't! The physical stuff is a no brainer to him. He's weak. He just had surgery and his muscles just aren't ready. (he does have a lazy bone in him hehe) But when it comes to saying the words that he wants, but they won't come out. Or writing his name, and the letters aren't forming. He starts to get angry. He almost growls. (Tia and Aaron, you know what I mean) 
I started to cry! I, just like every other mother out there, want to take that frustration away from him. It's hard to watch your child know the answer, but can't think of the words that he's trying to say. I just wished it was me. 

Then I remembered, with the help of Aaron, that there was a time after this surgery where he was worse off. His whole right side was limp. He couldn't talk. He screamed for 17-20 hours a day, unless he was medicated. He couldn't breath on his own. And it finally hit me... 

Look at him!!! Look at how far his determined little brain has come! So, he gets frustrated. It's because he knows what he's doing. He's just trying to crawl again so to say. His little mind is healing faster than his body is, and he doesn't understand. 

Now I smile when I see him get frustrated. I comfort him and tell him that he'll get the hang of it again. I know in my heart that he is just too strong to give up. He always has been. He can move his right side now... All of it! He makes fun of me every single day, just like he used to. He sings songs with me just like we did when we would drive around. He has his brain... we're just working on the rest. 

For those of you who read this, I invite you to meet my miracle. You won't know whether or not you should fall in love with his charm, or his sense of humor. He will charm you with his sensitive heart, and crack you up with his sarcasm in the same sentence. (If you have daughters his age... lock em up!!! LOL He will be a lady killer and I have plenty of people who will tell you the same thing.) He will make fun of you in the most polite way you have ever heard, and all in good fun. (He would die if he knew he ever hurt someones feelings)  And if you have son's around his age... you better hope that they are respectful around him because, he already has an opinion on him that's six foot eight! He doesn't like when people make fun of his mom or his sister... unless it's him of course. And don't try to be Toren's best friend unless you're his too. He has that Fitzgerald fight in him, that's for sure! 

So to wrap up, he's doing SO good! He is making leaps and bounds in the right direction. I'm so incredibly proud of him and the person he is. Docs say we will have another two to three weeks here before coming home. There's a possibility that they might send us to an out patient facility in Eugene as a sort of half way step to home. (My sister asks me every single day if I'm moving in with her again.. or better, when I'm moving in with her! I'll have to post her story soon so that you all know her roll in our lives) 

As always, Thank you so much for all of your love and prayers that come our way! We appreciate it more than you know! There's a light at the end of our tunnel! 


Monday, October 3, 2011

I want to be a Disney Princess

I have been watching a ton of Disney movies with Dominic lately, and they make it look so easy! If you are a good person, and you wish on a star... you get what you want... WELLLLLLLLLL Why can't I just be a Disney Princess?? I mean, I've been wishing on stars, and times of the day, and throwing money in wishing wells since I can remember.. Where's all the loot?!?!?!

Actually, I finally watched an amazing Disney Princess movie last night. The Princess and the Frog. It makes me want to go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans for one.. but second of all, the message is amazing. Not only do you have to have wishes and dreams, but you have to work hard for them too! And, on top of all that, you can be complete without love. So, basically, love, work hard, and never lose sight of your dreams, and your life will be complete. (don't forget about being honest, hanging out with the right people.. and the list goes on)

 Thanks again Walt Disney and your amazing company for showing our kids in a fun way, what's important in life. I obviously have learned a lot from you and your movies. I'm just glad that they are still around for our kids.

I can't wait to get home and start my hard work all over again. Dominic is doing all the hard work he can right now. He's doing great in therapy. He started moving his right arm a couple of days ago and now he can move it on command. We need to work on some hand eye cordination BUT he's going to be just fine I think.

He keeps me in the best mood! Last night when I had the headache of the year, he asked me if he could "ruv" (rub) my head for me... to make me feel better. He keeps me laughing and is so tired of being in this stupid bed it's driving him crazy.

We have our first conference tomorrow with all of the doctors and therapists and I should have a better idea about what's going on. Keep those prayers coming!!

OH P.S.! Have you given any thought to my lantern get together???? (the idea came from another Disney Princess movie that everyone should see... Tangled) I would love to get everyone together and even if you don't live in my area... sending off a lantern thanking Him for all answered prayers (or whoever it is you have sent your requests too) I also think, what an amazing experience for everyone to actually get to meet each other and see what the power of love can do!

If you ordered one, T-shirts and bracelets will be available on Thursday! And it would be so amazing to see everyone in their shirts or bracelets. So, please, send me pictures of you and your loved ones wearing them! I will post them on here under a new page that is under construction!

Love to you all! And thank you once again from my whole family!

xoxo Whit