Montgomery party of six

Montgomery party of six

Monday, December 31, 2007

pictures galore


my first christmas tree. my forehead smelled like rosemary after i fell into it.


me with the menconi cousins at uncle jim and aunt carol's house.


wide-eyed with the wonder of the season.


grammy and i on christmas eve


grauntie and her gifts to me


auntie allie gave me cammo. she is taking me to see rambo opening day.


santa ain't the only on with a bowl fully of jelly.


it's like where's waldo, but instead you have to find isaac amongst all the gifts.


mom loves dressing me in christmas clothes.


"guys, i think i just heard reindeer paws up on the rooftop."


the center of attention, even when i am opening my gifts.


uncle derek had a christmas halo.


me and my cousin avery. mom and dad find it hard to believe i was ever this small.


"avery, watch me bust this dance move i learned from eric venable. it is called the sprinkler."


we are still hanging out?!


kimberly came by to meet me for the first time on a layover in san diego.


me and grandma chris at the herold brunch.


"gosh, uncle cam, the beegee's were a great band, but best band in the history of the world? i am just not sure."


merry christmas to all and to all a goodnight.

Friday, December 28, 2007

a christmas reflection

something happened to christmas this year. i know it has passed: the red cups are gone at starbucks, the flood of jewelry commercials has subsided, and the valentines merchandise is out, but it doesn't feel like it was actually ever here. the holiday itself was one of my favorites in recent memory, yet the season seems to have slipped by almost unnoticed.

there are several possible explanations for this phenomenon: our son spent the first couple weeks of december recovering from surgery, just the simple fact that we have a son which alters your life entirely, or my grandmother wanda's passing a week and a half ago. all those things may and probably do contribute, but another major factor occurred to me during christmas eve vespers.

one of the staple christmas anthems in nearly every protestant tradition is "joy to the world". it is a hard one to get away from, which is all right with me b/c it can be a profound song if i allow it to be. this year, as i sat in a crowded and uncomfortable pew, i was struck by the phrase "prepare him room", as i suddenly became aware of how little preparation i had made this year.

it is not that i have a recipe for reflection like that for sugar cookies, but i usually like to be a bit more intentional in considering the Christ child who came to speak love, hope, peace and joy into our world. this year i simply and quietly failed to make space, to prepare room, to allow christmas to sink in.

there is a song by a fellow named chris rice called "welcome to our world". essentially it is his thoughts on Christ's birth in a lowly manger and the mystery of the divine wrapped in infant skin. (if you would like to listen, i struggled to find a good video of it on you tube, and below is the least corny of them, but you would still be better off just listening and not looking.)



this song has always resonated deeply with me, especially the line "tender brow prepared for thorn". something about the contrast of Christ's violent sacrifice and the innocence of a newborn hits me hard, even more so now that i have an child of my own. my favorite place to kiss him is on his forehead, where softness and smell mingle together. the image of thorns and sweat stinging this flesh, face bloodied and bruised, is simply too much.

and yet this is the reality we remember at christmas. a child, born of a virgin, was sent by a reconciling god to declare good news to all humankind, and ultimately to die. the word became flesh, and moved into the neighborhood. may we all prepare him room.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

tis the season for...



... time with great grandpa herold

... my first experience with big people "food."

... a grateful heart over an early christmas gift. 


... jolly times with those we love.

... resting and pondering.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

we're all getting older...


dad and i took a much needed nap. 
4 months old and officially weighing in at 14 lbs. 4 ozs. and 25 1/2 inches long.
grampy's 62nd birthday at chevy's.

Monday, December 10, 2007

the gift of right now



we had yet another appointment today, this one with dr. marilyn jones, the woman who coordinates the cleft clinic at children's hospital. she is a delightful, warm, and caring lady, who kept telling us how cute, social, and charming our son is. "yeah, we know, but we always love to hear it again."

isaac is sprouting quickly, weighing in at about 14 lbs. 8oz. (6.59 kilos to be exact) and growing 5 inches since his birth nearly four months ago. he is also doing very well developmentally, showing all the signs of a kid that is growing like he should. the only thing that she still wants to figure out is what is going on with his ears/hearing, but we are not super worried about that at this point.

i feel like we are at a place we were really looking forward to a couple weeks ago, where the worst of the surgery is far behind us, and life is resuming whatever sense of normalcy it can when you have an infant. there have been many loops along the way, with many more to come i am sure, but we are in a good spot right now. and when it comes right down to it, right now is really all we got.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

this one's for you allie


all smiles, even with the goofy care bear arm braces


road trip!


still loving bath time


grammy makes me laugh


so does grampy


tv is my favorite, i wish they let me watch it more.


aunt letha came all the way from minnesota to meet me and read me books. she is great.


bounce with me!!

i...know...this...thumb...used...to...make...it...all...the...way...to...my...mouth

so things have gotten progressively better since isaac's surgery almost two weeks ago. we have learned several things about our child during this time, especially in regards to surgery recovery:
  1. get on pain meds soon, and stay on them long enough. we learned the first half of this principle during annie's recovery, after she refused pain meds the first couple times she was offered them. apparently it is easier to stay ahead of the pain, than to catch up to the pain. the second part we learned after this surgery, b/c we are pretty sure, although not certain, that we took him off codeine too soon. the saturday after his surgery was a rough one, lots of screaming and such, but he is doing way better. now he is on straight tylenol, and no worse for the wear.
  2. if you must give suppositories, give them sooner rather than later. the boy has always had bowel issues, but the drugs associated with the surgeries only made things worse. at certain times his belly swelled up bigger than tom brady's ego, and the step of artificial relief became a necessary evil. we only had to give two total, but in the future, i would give them at the first sign of post-surgery constipation.
  3. give plenty of breaks from the zombie braces. isaac is a very tactile kid, so having elbow restraints that prevent him from flexing his arms make him very agitated. this wednesday when he can stop wearing them will be a very beautiful day for all the montgomery's, cause then he can put his hands in his mouth all he wants without us having to worry about him causing damage to his lip. until then, we are trying to give him as many breaks as possible.
it is crazy to watch his personality continue to flourish, he is a super social kid, loves to be the center of attention, and always wants to play games. he is learning peek-a-boo, and thinking it is the greatest.

video

Friday, November 30, 2007

the story continues...

***WARNING: ULTRA LONG POST AHEAD***


ready for the big day in his gown

grammy held me while i got all hopped up on the 02

some comforts from home: the baby bouncer and musical elmo book

to try and recount all that has gone on over the past 4 days, all the details, all the emotions, all the good and the tough would be nigh impossible, not only b/c so much has happened around and in us, but also b/c i am still suffering from a slight case of sleep deprivation, comparable to when he was a newborn. i will try to tell as much of the story as possible, knowing ahead of time there may be significant gaps, as there are in so many stories, that may or may not be filled in later.

monday night was at least a little tense. i don't think annie got more than an hour of sleep, opting instead to stay up and worry, some sort of innate characteristic of all great mothers. tuesday we were up by 4:30am, and to the hospital by 6:00. isaac was super good all morning long, sleeping all the way up until we took his vital signs, and once he woke up he was nothing short of chipper, talking and smiling all the way through the time we bid our very tearful goodbyes to him and the nurse took him into surgery. we sat anxiously in the waiting room for about three hours total, swapping stories with other cleft families, receiving periodic updates, until we were finally reunited with our sweet boy.

the surgery itself went well, dr. cohen, the plastic surgeon, was pleased with how it turned out. he is pretty sure isaac will need a “putt” when he is one year old, touching up his nose and possibly his lip. this will be the first of many others since by the time he is 18, dr. cohen figures the boy will need at least half a dozen surgeries to address everything that needs to be corrected. the number is a bit intimidating, annie and i have joked that isaac will have more surgeries than we will have kids, but now that we are through the this one, it doesn't seem so daunting to do it again cause we figure the first has to be the hardest. plus anytime isaac hurts himself from here on out, we can just remind him, "hey man, that is nothing. you had surgery at three months old."

dr. pransky, the ear/nose/throat doctor, looked at isaac as well, taking the opportunity while he was asleep to do a more thorough examination. turns out it is not only the outsides of isaac’s ears that are small, but also the insides. there is nothing definitive so far, but he believes isaac may have some trouble hearing certain tones, as in low, deep voices, not levels of volume as in loud or soft. we know he hears cause he flinches at big noises, responds to our voices, and sings along to barry manilow so while he may have some sort of auditory issue, it is nothing like full on hearing loss. we won’t know much for sure for at least a couple years, but they will keep an eye on him from here on out. if they determine there is a problem, we will talk about solutions, be it hearing aids, surgery or something else.

it seems all the doctors in isaac's continuing saga have given us worst case scenarios, and while i am sure it has more to do with preemptive liability coverage than a brooding pessimism, we have learned to take most of what we hear with grain of salt. another example in this trend was an issue that came up with isaac's respiratory system while he was in recovery. one of the many machines they hook your child up to in the room is a unit that measures the level of oxygen in their blood. isaac has never been very good at this test, even when he was first born they had a hard time getting an acceptable reading from the sensor, which is a red led that lights your finger up like e.t. anything 93 percent or above is a normal level, but after the surgery they were getting these absurdly low readings, prompting all sorts of precautionary, but ultimately unnecessary measures.

we had doctors, nurses, and therapists with all sorts of ideas and suggestions: a constant stream of cool oxygenated mist as seen in the pictures above, a respiratory therapist, a pulmonary doctor who ordered a sleep test for wednesday night to rule out apnea, an epi mist that temporarily turned part of his nose white from constricted blood vessels, and a constant eye on the monitor. these unexpected additions were emotionally taxing in the midst of everything else, but in the end it was probably a combination of anesthetic, post surgery swelling and the baby morphine. we have a couple follow up appointments we will gratefully attend, knowing it is nothing life threatening.

we continue to be overwhelmed by the resources available to us, and for the tremendous amount of care we have received. our day nurse for our first two days was a kind and gentle woman named helen (all i could think was "you look like a helen". tommy boy, anybody?) who not only cared about the job, but about the people she so sweetly served. she would give us encouraging updates, cheerfully bring milk and juice, and endlessly dote on our little thug. obviously the tsunami of tenderness does not stop there, as once again we were inundated by prayer, support, emails, texts, phone calls, etc during our time of need.

there were also moments of comedy in our stay, one of the most outstanding came at 1:30am early thursday morning when isaac unleashed a bowel movement the likes of which the world has never seen. he had been rather constipated from the drugs and anesthetic, so i was initially grateful, if not a little shocked, by the sounds coming from him as we watched television. i didn't even mind the warmth as he continued, but what got to me was the wetness as the flood began to breach his diaper and spill heartily onto my lap like that foam you use to fill cracks that expands when you spray it. i woke annie and she tried her best, but one of her arms hung limp at her side, hopelessly asleep. our night nurse was not so helpful, at one point standing idly by and laughing while i grabbed for isaac's cool mist hose to avoid the smell that was about to make me puke. the following morning found me without another pair of pants, so i had to wrap myself in a hospital blanket to avoid having to bum around in my boxers.

needless to say we are more than happy to be home, away from the wires, the iv's, the monitors and the beeping. we had a bit of a scare last night, when isaac, still pretty backed up, was having some trouble breathing normally. we resolved the issue by giving him a liquid baby suppository, which i am certain knocks me out of the running for father of the year.

today was his best day yet, pieces of his personality returning all the time. for this we are ecstatic, as we went through, and on some level will continue to go through, a certain amount of grief regarding the change in appearance. you have all these great memories with a kid who looks one way, and the kid you get back from surgery isn't himself right away, and you begin to wonder if he ever will be. every renewed first is a tremendous blessing, first meal, first smile, first sounds. we have begun to remember that although our son may look a lot different than he did a couple days ago, he is still the same kid, making the same noises, bringing the same joy.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

no, not togos

ok, so writing a post from the research library of a hospital doesn't give one a lot of options as far as pictures and such, but wanted to provide a very quick update on isaac's surgery. long story short, he is doing very well, and we expect to go home today. we will tell more soon, like the one about late last night when he pooped about a whole day's worth at once, forcing me to wear a toga this morning. it is a good story, i promise. so check back every couple days or so, more details on the way.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

muchas gracias

dang, that is one good looking family...except for that goofy guy in the middle. what's with him? one of these things is not like the others...


isaac looks more like his uncle derek (blond hair and blue eyes) than his mom or dad. minus the monster arms of course.


grandpa made sure isaac caught up on all the latest gossip at dinner.


the menconi christmas picture. hey, haven't i seen those blue outfits before?

elmo, you gotta protect me man. i am not too sure about these people.

isaac and the ladies.

it is christmas in san diego, it is 55 degrees outside, and we have our kid bundled up like ralphie from a christmas story. are we first time parents?

we also want to welcome other first time parents to the game. my cousin mindy and her husband nick brought avery paige into the world on november 16th at 2:22pm. she's 7lbs. 1oz. and 19" of pure sweetness. isaac can't wait to scrap with her. you can read and see more here.

----

did you know that chicken has more tryptophan than turkey? it's true. we always talk about the amino acid that makes you sleepy at thanksgiving time b/c everybody goes into a food coma at approximately 2:37pm, but the fact of the matter is that it is not the turkey as much as it is the extra carbs in the form of hawaiian sweet rolls and twice baked potatoes that puts us to sleep. whatever the case, the more opportunities i have to talk about pilgrims and people named pocahontas the better.

our thanksgiving this year was decidedly and very intentionally mellow. we spent wednesday afternoon and evening with the montgomery family, taking family pictures at dixon lake and eating dinner at a fine little italian establishment called "bruno's". we were glad that heidi and kyle got to meet him before his surgery, and it was fun to have the whole family together again. it had been a few years since the last montgomery picture, and several members had been added to the ranks since the last one. what rules is we are going to have to take another before too long b/c eric and kara announced thanksgiving day that they are pregnant with their first!! they are due next june and we are all very excited about welcoming their little one.

thursday was spent with the menconi's: we ate too much food, poured over black friday ads, and took a christmas picture. annie and i recycled our outfits, and isaac sported his first santa hat. cutest. santa. ever. friday we had dinner at islands and went to a christmas tree lighting at the forum, which is a glorified strip mall here in encinitas. there was free food, fun friends, and good times had by all.

i spent a good bit of the remainder of the weekend working around the house. unfortunately with me home improvement always involves at least a little bit of self destruction and i walked away with a blood blister on my thumb, a pretty good cut on my index finger, and other assorted scrapes and abrasions. all told, we ended up with a new microwave, doorbell, and bathroom fan, not to mention some new outlets and switches.

i am beginning to realize that when i am stressed i tend to be even more anal about organization than usual. this streak of projects is just the latest manifestation of this trait. when i can organize, i feel in control, the more out of control i feel, the more i try to organize.

the surgery is tomorrow morning, sometime around 7:30 or 8. if early indications are any clue, knowing you are sending your child into a situation that will cause them pain is the worst feeling in the entire world. we know it is best for him, we trust he will be fine, and we look forward to a time in the not too distant future when this season will be behind us and he won't even remember it. and yet it absolutely kills us. as much as we want to clamp onto him with a death grip that would make arnold proud, we are trying to pry our grubby little mitts off our son and maintain a posture of open hands.

thank you for the food, the texts, the emails, the calls, the words, the kindness and all the other assorted mercies you have given us. we continue to be heaped upon. may you also be heaped upon during this blessed season.

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