Hazel's Reality Show

We have had a crazy week over here. Mostly yesterday. In the morning we drove down to Boston to meet with Hazel's surgeon. She has been choking on food more frequently, and I got tired of my heart stopping every time I fed her, so I have only been giving her purees and stopped giving her the finger food she so desperately wants. I suspected that her esophagus was slowly closing up on me, and that the narrowing we saw on the barium swallow was scar tissue and not inflammation. Mama was right. So, her fabulous surgeon who we love and who cares for her as if she were his own is scheduling her for the procedure that will dilate her esophagus. Of course, there are risks, in that she is still healing and while he thinks she is strong enough to withstand the procedure, the possibility of rupture is still there. This is what we were so afraid of happening before when she had the battery removed. A rupture is the worst thing that could happen.

We also learned on Wednesday that apparently the battery was so close to her aorta that if her esophagus had ruptured when it was removed then Hazel would have bled out almost instantly. I'm so glad that we were not told this before, but I'm not sure I wanted to know it now. It made out hearts sink, knots in our stomach, lumps in our throats (those are chakras three, four and five for those keeping track). Every time we see Hazels surgeon, he just shakes his head and says how amazing it is that she is alive. I hope that I never truly comprehend how close we came to losing her.

When we were in ICU, we got an email from a woman who had been reading our blog. She has a daughter close to Hazel's age and totally coincidentally is also a producer at CBS in Philly. So, she has been following our story and wants to do a feature. Everything has to go through the PR and media relations folks at the hospital, so while Jamie and I are trying to care for Hazel, that whole thing was in the works. We were discharged and it never happened and I didn't really think about it. I assumed that CBS was no longer interested, but lo and behold I get another email from this producer in Philly wanting to know if things have settled down for us enough that we could do an interview. So, yesterday when we got to the hospital, there was a reporter, producer and camera crew, along with PR from Children's Hospital. They all came up to meet with Hazel's doctor with us. Even as Hazel was playing in the waiting room, they were filming her. The camera guy was so great with her, and a natural grandpa, making faces and funny noises that Hazel loved. They set up lights and a camera in the exam room and put a mic on our doctor and filmed the appointment. It was easy to ignore the cameras, believe it or not., especially since we were so interested in what was being said by our doctor, learning more about the procedure that Hazel is going to have to have.

After our appointment was over, the crew followed us back up to Ipswich (did I mention the big sloppy snow storm that we got that day?) and they filmed Hazel playing, eating, mugging for the strangers. Then the producer took Hazel in the living room to play and Jamie and I filmed the interview with Kathy Curran, who was so sweet and funny. The interview was not that fun. I was not prepared to relive some of the emotions- how can I be? I am still in shock and traumatized enough that I am able to talk about the events in a stone-cold informational way, but if you ask me how I feel I'm pretty good at falling apart into a messy slobbering mess. And that I did. After talking for what felt like a million years, they had to get all kinds of strange shots of our hands, and of Kathy asking the questions, and of different angles. Then they photographed the battery, the remote it came from, and our new psychotic remote that is wrapped in packing tape. Sure hope that one makes the cut...

Then they left... The whole experience was strange and cool and totally surreal. It is going to air sometime in March, they think. They are going back to Children's in about two weeks to interview our surgeon more in depth and then they will edit all six hours of our afternoon together into a three minute feature segment. It is going to air in Boston and Philly, and it will be made available to any other CBS affiliate that chooses to air it. I'm so happy that Hazel's story is getting out there. I know so many of you have already changed the way you think about electronics and batteries, obstructions and croup, greeting cards and corrosion. That's amazing.

So Hazel will indeed be having this other procedure in a week or two. She will likely have to repeat it every month or two for some time. It will have to be under general anesthesia, so we will have to spend the night in the hospital. And we are so lucky that one of Hazel's many guardian angels, Mark Puter, MD will be right there with her in the operating room. I think the OR is going to be filled with Hazel's angels, bumping elbows and trying to be as close to her as they can manage. She is so blessed.



I posted this on Facebook but never posted it here.  This is one of my favorite videos.  It was the day before we were discharged from Children's Hospital, and one of the happiest days of my life.  She did this for about half an hour.

What Hazel is Doing Now

Hazel is eleven months old.  Can you believe it?  Neither can I.  Every month I planned to write what cool new developmental milestone she had hit, but I didn't.  There was a lot of stuff that I wanted to write but didn't.  I hope that I will never forget it, but I know I will.  I figured that I would take the time now to write a little bit about the Things Hazel Has Learned in these past eleven months- the culmination of all those neural pathways strengthening and paring away, all the practice and teaching and nutrition and sleeping.  I try to get pictures and video of these little things before they slip away or morph into something else more "sophisticated" (whatever that means), but Hazel can hear the camera turn on from a mile away and come rushing up into the lens before I can get a shot.  That is why I have had fewer pictures to post.  It's certainly not for lack of trying.  Every time I download a batch of pictures to the computer, I end up deleting about two thirds of them!  It's too bad, because I want to have some sort of record of all these little things she does.  I guess this is it, and hopefully in thirty years this will jog my MS lesion-littered memory centers and I will have perfect mental pictures of how stinkin' cute this kid was (is).  

Hazel waves.  She waves at every little thing she sees.  Every time we go get her in the morning or after a nap we have to walk her around the room so she can wave at each little thing. She doesn't do that grabby kid wave in which they just open and close their palms- she waves her hand and arm like The Queen.  We call it her Miss America wave, and it is adorable.  When she was in the hospital, the nurses would take her out to the nursing station so they could keep each other company and give us a break.  Hazel would just sit there and wave to all the nurses and all the other kids as they walked the loop on the unit, post surgery.  She doesn't smile when she does it- in fact, she looks very serious.  So serious that you have to laugh.  when she does something "bad", like try to eat the extension cord and I yelp , "NO!" she gets nervous and startled and turns around and waves at me.  When the disposal runs and the noise scares her, she waves at it.

She is clapping!  It's so funny because she does it whenever she hears any music, and when she is happy.  So she will get startled, wave at what scared her and we say something like, "Hi, disposal!" for her and she gets excited and claps.  Rinse, repeat.  All day, and I still can't get enough.  

This kid really loves music.  She sits with her legs bent under her and bonuses up and down on her butt clapping to any sort of music.  Right now I am playing a lot of Krishna Das, Armenian folk music, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Bon Iver, Magnetic Fields and Morphine.  She even started bopping around to Sonic Youth.  Go figure, but she has good taste.  I am taking her to Music Together classes and she is loving it.  I didn't know how it would go for her, but she is doing well!  They give you two CD's of all the songs in that curriculum, one for the car and one for home, and we listen to it a lot.  The songs are great and she really enjoys it when I sing them to her throughout the day now that she recognizes them.  

She is starting to stand on her own after pulling up, but she doesn't know it yet.  Once she figures out what she is doing, it's only a matter of time before she takes off running. As it is she crawls faster than I can run.

She is feeding everything to everyone.  Food, her pacifier, her bottle, lint, dog hair...everything she can pick up, she feeds to me, her dad, the dogs.  She has caught on to the fact that the dogs ill hang around and give her the desperately wanted attention if she feeds them, so she has really started to enjoy handing them little pieces of her food and getting them to lick her hands so she can laugh.  She even tries to feed me my own necklace, and hilarity ensues.  

Her language skills are developing so rapidly.  She is saying "mamamamama" at me and "dadadada" at Jamie but she is also mimicking other sounds and movements we make with out mouths.  The other day, she said DOG!  Seriously!  Jamie and I were both there.  She was in her booster seat, eating and of course the dogs were milling about her and she pointed at them and we said, "dog", and then she said, in a cute hesitant whisper, "dog".  We nearly died.  

I'm trying to take advantage of her mimicking phase by attempting to teach her to blow kisses, high five and do a terrorist fist bump.  We'll see how that one goes.  She sure is cute stuff...


Did I Ever Post These?

And It Feels So Good

And for those who arent in the know, this is what cupping is all about.

Happy Inauguration Day!

Hazel went to her infant massage class this morning that my doula, Lorryn is doing for a small group of friends, but she skipped her afternoon playgroup at the Ipswich Birth to Three Center so she could stay home and watch the historic Inauguration of President Obama on the tube. She was delighted by it, clapping whenever the crowd clapped (often) and staring with rapt attention at Elizabeth Alexander's poem being read. We are all very proud of our country today!

Here are some pictures we had laying around from the month. We had grand plans to go out to see our friends in western Massachusetts for New Years Eve, but instead we were hit with a big snowstorm and a very fussy baby who, turns out, had a double ear infection and four teeth coming through. So, instead we stayed home like most of New England did. On New Years Day, mama drove out to Stockbridge to attend a four-day yoga and meditation retreat at an ashram. It was nothing short of amazing. I left there walking on clouds.

This was something I had been planning on doing all year in honor of Hazel's first birthday. February 19th not only marks the end of her first year on earth (this time around) but it also marks the day I became a mother, the happiest and most transformative day of my life. Obviously, this year has been full of transformations for my little family; some positive and some not so positive. But they all brought us here, to divine perfection. Being back in Stockbridge is always a bittersweet time for me, too (see the MY CAUSE section of links in the sidebar) as it was the place where I was abandoned and abused so many years ago. Now that place lies in ruins, leaving a wake of scarred adults behind it and right next door is this place of magnificent beauty and warmth where I went for healing. I see everything coming around full circle for me, in a series of circles, series of cycles, always beginning and ending in a New England winter. Sorry to be cryptic, but 2008 was a year of revolution, in the truest sense of the word; back to the beginning with my birth from a clam shell in the sea foam. Hazel will know what I'm talking about, and she is the only one who matters. Viva la revolution! Viva Obama! Viva New England! Viva Hazel and her mama! Viva viva viva!

Another classic stink-eye.
Double ear infection never stopped me!

Taking the T (subway to you out-of-towners) from Harvard to the Museum.

Learning how to wait for the next train with a look of boredom and mild distaste like a true Bostonian.

Making friends at the Aquarium- a doomed relationship.

Why so aloof?

Watching Planet Earth. I had to put her in her Exersaucer because she was trying to climb into the TV.

Using chopsticks at wagamama, the best little noodle house! This is where we like to go when we visit Jamie at his office for lunch.


Final Christmas Post

On Christmas Morning, soon after the Giraffe Incident, we headed up to the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont to stay with Grammy and Grampy Donovan for a few days. We made our annual trip to Caplan's Army Store, visited with friends and family and ate a lot of turkey. Hazel had a blast, as usual. Here are some pictures of her with her Uncle Jeremy and Uncle Christopher, her first encounter with a Christmas tree and four videos of her in action. The last video is really special- Uncle Jeremy serenades Hazel with Blackbird by The Beatles. It's more sweet than I can even say...

Hazel with her Uncle Christopher

Christmas Continued

Still trying to catch up with all of these holiday pictures, so let's not waste any more time. First off, look at how incredibly beautiful my daughter is becoming. Every day she grows into herself a little more, and is just blooming into this opinionated, independent, curious almost-toddler. I'm just continually amazed by her. Even in my wildest dreams when I was pregnant, I never pictured her like this. I never imagined that she would be so bright and so beautiful. She just takes my breath away a thousand times a day.

Hazel and her cousin Owen, who is ten months older than her. Isn't it funny how much they look alike? I guess it's not that funny- they are related. I can't wait to see them grow up together.

This picture was so much fun to take! See the video at the end of the post of the crazy grown ups trying to get them to all look at the camera. So, left to right, this is Hazel, Annabelle, Owen, Cecelia and Lorna. This is five of six cousins, all born within two years!

Okay, so yes, Jamie and I brought Hazel to a bar in Jamaica Plain on her first Christmas, but it's not what you think. We had some time to kill is all, and the dining area was closed and there is this great big stone fireplace in this bar and we just thought it would be a nice place to grab a beer and warm up between parties. That's all. But, In case no one noticed, I have no pictures of Hazel with Santa. This is mostly because I refuse to wait in line with a screaming baby for three hours at the mall. So, we are sitting in the bar when this man (obviously Santa) leans over and says, "So, you want a picture with the kid?" and he pulls his hat out of his pocket! I guess he was just fueling up for his trip around the planet later that evening. He was kind enough to come over and do his thing for the camera, and I love that in Hazel's first pictures with Santa you can see whats on tap.

Oddly enough, she was the only baby in the bar this Christmas.

Off to the second Christmas part of the day at Hazel's great Aunt and Uncles house. She was pretty exhausted at this point, and was a little stunned by the attention showered on her by her tween cousins and aunties. This is her cousin Nora holding up the very cool hat and mittens she picked out for Hazel. We can't wait until she is big enough to wear it.

Here is my double chin.

She really is quite good at opening presents.

Trying to escape the tween paparazzi.


Best. Christmas. Ever.

Jamie has had his eye on this giraffe for Hazel since I was pregnant. Finally he had his chance! Hazel woke up in a delightful mood- I would rate this a three on the four-point escalation scale for Hazels fussiness. You can tell by how many pacifiers she has in play- note in this picture that she has one in her mouth, and one in her hand. If we were to ignore her much longer and allowed her to become more upsent, she may pick another pacifier up with her free hand and wave them both around through her tears. When Hazel reaches mach 4, she will rapidly switch the pacifier in her mouth out for the ones in her hands in a sort of juggling-type movement; spit out the one in the mouth, plug mouth with right-hand pacifier, become upset that both hands aren't holding pacifiers, pick up pacifier that had been spit out, repeat cycle. This is how she woke up, so we thought it would be a good time to present her with her gift. And document it. Enjoy in particular the video. Note the poopy butt-sniff at 0:28. Merry Christmas, little Porkpie! You make us laugh so much.

I would like to add that now, about three weeks later, the girafe lives in the corner of her room and she spends every moment in there waving at it. "Hi, girafe. Hi, girafe. Hi, girafe." I think it is going to be one of the things about her childhood that she rememebers forever.

Winter Interlude

Just wanted to post some pictures from our holiday snowstorm.

Our neighbors house! They couldn't even use the front door. Methinks someone should think about some supplemental insulation in this roof.

Finally, Part One

Here are some mediocre pictures from Hazel's first Langford Yankee Swap party in Maine. This is by far our favorite holiday party. Please note Hazel's super cute bow. She was quite the star, despite being passed from auntie to auntie all night long. She held up well like the tough girl she is. The last picture is Hazel picking her Yankee Swap gift. She got mama a "movie night" basket, complete with candy popcorn and a DVD of the Dark Knight. Way to go, Hazel! Much better than the crappy gifts we normally get (or the crappy gifts we normally contribute to the swap). Hazel certainly love opening presents, and honed her skills well this night.

We were lucky to get lots and lots of snow this holiday season, which we love so Hazels first Christmas was a white Christmas. Lucky kiddo. Lucky mama. Sometimes I just can't even believe how lucky we are that we get to keep her... We spent as much time in the snow as we could, but Hazel had a pretty yucky cold, as did mama and it was about a hundred below zero. She had fun catching the snowflakes on her perfect little pink tongue. Here are our pictures from the afternoon we headed out to our farm in a snowstorm to pick up our farm share. We live in the most beautiful part of Massachusetts, I think. Lucky kiddo, lucky mama.