Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Leo's Journey So Far

  Everyone keeps telling me to write down every part of Leo's experience so far. They say writing is therapeutic and a great way to keep a record to look back and remember the details that fade with time. I think my biggest hesitation is that I don't really want most of these memories. I'd like to forget most of the things I've seen and heard and felt throughout all of this. Putting this all into words adds another element of reality to it all. This has been the hardest, most overwhelming experience we've ever had. And that's just as his parents. Leo is doing the hardest part. Despite my aversion to writing this all down, I decided I wanted to update those of you who have been praying for Leo so faithfully after all these months. I hope to one day personally hug and thank each person who has ever uttered a prayer on his behalf. He is worth it, trust me. He is worth your prayers. He is incredible, and the world deserves to know him.

     Let's start from the beginning. The last post regarding Leo was simply his diagnosis. Leo has gastroschisis. We have known that since my 19th week of pregnancy. What we didn't know or expect was that I would have to deliver via emergency C-section 2 months early. I went into the hospital with some unexpected health problems. They admitted me and determined I had developed severe preeclampsia and needed to deliver. Leo's heart rate was dropping and my health was going south. They prepped me for surgery and had a team ready for Leo. Jeff held my hand during the entire operation, and when Leo came out he was much smaller than they expected. 2 lbs 10 ounces of tiny fighter. Unfortunately, my symptoms did not subside but actually worsened. As they were transferring Leo to the Children's NICU, I was being treated for HELLP syndrome. I was in one hospital, and Leo was being treated in the other.
   Because of his size and the large amount of organs that were still outside his body, they were unable to perform the operation to put the organs inside his abdominal cavity. 
  For the first month of Leo's life, he was in an incubator with a clear temporary silo holding his organs suspended above his abdomen. It took two different surgeries on that first day to get this silo on. In most gastroschisis cases, after a relatively short amount of time, the organs descend into the body and there is a final surgery to close the skin overtop. However, Leo was still too small for any of his organs to fit inside. His temporary silo was not made to hold up for that long and started to break. They took him into surgery immediately to put on a semi-permanent silo. That was his 3rd surgery. This semi-permanent silo held his organs in place but was stitched to the muscles under his skin and would act as an extension of his own body. His body has been growing granulation tissue and new skin overtop of his organs and taken the place of the silo. 
   Throughout this entire process, Leo has also had very difficult lung issues. Being premature and having been on a ventilator for quite a while, Leo's lungs suffered additional damage. He is currently receiving a significant amount of respiratory support through a nasal cannula. However, his team of doctors decided today that he would benefit from having a tracheotomy. Leo will have his 4th surgery to put the tracheostomy in place within the next week or so. No date has been selected yet. 
   Leo has fought so hard and defied a lot of odds. He has such a strong personality already. He is quite the flirt with those pretty nurses and even yells and growls at the doctors. He loves books. He could listen to us read to him all day. He even has the nurses reading to him. He also gets to sit up and play in his boppy and loves reaching for things. His favorite game is reaching for my face when I lay my head next to his. He has this sense of wonder in his eyes and such a playful smile. 
  I can't thank you enough for the prayers you all have said for my family. Leo is a miracle and he has come so far, but he still has a long way to go. Please keep praying for him. Thanks for all the love and support. 



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fall in the MidWest

Omaha comes alive in the fall! The colors and smells are exactly what they should be. We were blessed with fun visitors, beautiful weather, and everything our favorite season could offer! Here are a few of our favorite fall moments!

 Awwww Nebraska's like tiny golden pockets of buttery, sweet heaven.
 This is his usual pose. He's done it since he was a newborn, yet I still run to get my camera every time he does it.
 The playground outside our house is Sawyer's oasis. He owns that slide! Shout out to Aunt Camie for the hedgehog hat!

 This day probably wins the award for my favorite day as a stay-at-home mother so far.  Sometimes I miss teaching, okay, all the time. But I wouldn't trade these days for anything in the world. My whole day is spent with this little boy whose blonde hair and dreamy eyes melt my heart. We made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies together, and he helped with every step. It really got us in the mood for fall! I just couldn't stop smiling at him and thanking the Lord for my life. I am so glad Jeff and I decided to have me stay home with our kids!

 Vala's Pumpkin Patch, Omaha area's pride and joy.  This fall festival is outrageously popular here, and with good reason. It's a fall-themed fair.....I don't see any problems with that.

 OUR FIRST OMAHA VISITORS!!! Sawyer was completely obsessed with his Nana and Papa. It was so nice having family around. We showed them the ins and outs of our new city, and enjoyed every second together! Aren't they the cutest little parents you ever saw?
 Sawyer used his baby brother as a stepping stool to reach Mommy's lips.
 Not that this photo needs a caption, but look at the joy in those boys!! Even Sawyer's feet look happy!
 Nana made Sawyer laugh the entire time.  I think she may still be warn out from their game of chasing each other giggling.

 More adventures at Vala's Pumpkin Patch!

Of course, we had to take our guests to the Henry Doorly Zoo!

 Halloween was a total hit with our little Draco Malfoy.  Jeff was a good sport and let me draw a scar on his forehead with eyeliner. I couldn't have a round belly, a blonde son, and a fun husband and NOT go as two seekers and their snitch!



 Those, my friends, are the world's greatest doughnuts!!

 Yes, those are my pajamas.....

 Henry Doorly Zoo again....we only live 2 minutes away, people!

Perhaps our favorite spot in Omaha so far, Old Market Passageway.  It's such a beautiful little indoor alley surrounded with boutiques and art galleries!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Baby Number Two

Here's the story of our newest addition. 
    Jeff and I were keeping a fun secret as we headed off to Omaha!  We were so excited that we would be blessed with another little baby.  We didn't tell family and friends for quite a while, focusing on one life-changing event at a time. When we finally announced that Sawyer was going to be a big brother, everyone was so excited! 
   When we went in to find out the gender of our little bean, we got some surprising news.  First, our little one was a boy (I was convinced it was a girl), and secondly, more importantly and shocking, our baby has Gastroschisis.  We were absolutely heartbroken.  We still are, to tell the truth.  This little boy will be born with some of his organs outside of his tiny little body. He will need to stay in the NICU for a couple months right after he is born.  He will undergo surgery to place his liver, stomach, and bowels back into his body.  We are still waiting to hear more about any possible genetic defects that could be associated with Gastroschisis, but so far, the tests have come back clear.  He has a very healthy heartbeat and the organs, though not in place, are functioning beautifully. His brain is healthy and unaffected by his condition.  We thank the Lord everyday that he is healthy despite his condition.  This has been a really hard, trying time for us.  As a mom, I know how deeply and fiercely I love Sawyer, and I imagine this new little boy will steal my heart just as effortlessly.  This scares me beyond words.  I remember when Sawyer was born, the nurse bathed him and it made him cry that sad, newborn squeal.  I was irrationally weeping while he was harmlessly being bathed because it hurt me to watch him cry.  This new baby will have so much more to endure.  I have a feeling that he is a fighter already, though.  I have faith that Heavenly Father will strengthen both Jeff and I as we fight through the first part of his life.  Jeff has been absolutely incredible through all of this.  He is sad and scared for our little boy, but he has been nothing but hopeful and strong.  According to our specialist (and the slew of information we've gathered on the internet) our little guy has a great chance at a normal, healthy life after he recovers.  We appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers, and ask to continue to bless our family with your faith and support.

He is pretty cute in there, waving to the world. I have a feeling he may be just as sweet and handsome as his big brother!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Making Our House a Home

While Jeff is busy studying, note taking, dissecting cadavers, and taking on the medical world, I have been hammering, painting, and organizing our new house! It's coming together nicely, but slowly.  Sawyer's room is the only room that's finished. I will post more of the house as it gets completed!

My favorite thing about Sawyer's room is that most of his decorations are gifts that our family has either made or given him.  I love seeing how loved he is by his family!

 This little creature followed me around his room the entire time I took these pics...still in jammies. Well, the top part of his jammies.

Jeff's first week at UNMC!

(Still figuring this blog thing out, so click on the pictures to see them better)

Here is my Jeff on his first day of school at UNMC! I am so proud of him. He has already been studying like a crazy man and dedicating himself to his schoolwork. He's the type of physician I'd want working on me! Plus, look how handsome he is! Oh, and his naked baby with bedhead adds to the look.
 Jeff's been riding his bike to school every morning.  About half of his commutes have been in torrential rain! He comes home looking like he jumped into a pool.
Dawning his first white coat at the "White Coat Ceremony"!

Signing his name in the school's pledge book.

Shaking the Dean's hand with a dimply smile on his face!

Told you he is handsome.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

And So It Begins!

I am, admittedly, quite late on the trend of blogging, but I decided to join the world of bloggers to keep my family and friends up to date on all things Frandsen! Moving to Omaha has been such an adventure for our little family.  Here's to new blogs, new friends, and new opportunities!

  Some of our favorite things in Omaha so far:

The Lauritzen Botanical Gardens (next to our house!)

                                          Manawa Beach

                                                                   Old Market!

Omaha Steaks and draft root beer!

Sawyer's newest crush. The minute he saw her, he grabbed her hand and started walking away with her.

Our very favorite thing about Omaha thus far: The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium!!!