Thursday, May 24, 2007

Language Update

Drew has had two amazing weeks. Not only has he been sooo much fun, he's been talking up a storm! He's putting lots of words together - and surprising me with how much vocabulary he's acquired. He has used words like taxi, Look!, that's funny!, keys, coffee, sunscreen, bucket & shovel, (play)ground, and castle appropriately. He has said mini-sentences such as "This way (play)ground!" And yesterday when I sneezed he said "Bless you" and I replied "Thank you!" and he said "Welcome." I was impressed. He's definitely a little sponge - and will mimic just about anything. I find it so fascinating and fun!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pregnancy Update

I haven't written much about my pregnancy. Perhaps it's because it lies in the shadow of my enthusiastic, attention-grabbing toddler...or perhaps it's because I carry on as if I'm not really pregnant at all. This second pregnancy is much like the first; I can't complain too much. I had a relatively easy first trimester - lacking the expected morning sickness which can accompany the hormone changes, a typical second trimester - planning ahead and embracing the ease of our current lives, and a well, rather rocky third trimester - filled with colds, viruses, ever-expanding belly, exhaustion, and fatigue. Not too bad, right?

Today I am 35 weeks and 3 days pregnant. My due date remains one month and two days beyond my present and I wonder if I will make it that much longer. Aside from the peeing sensation which strikes every four to five minutes...or the deep aching that follows a good meal...or the gasping for breath which accompanies a walk up the stairs, I feel good! I've begun my "nesting" (did I ever really stop?) and I'm focused on having a clean, organized space for the baby - and mommy. I'm (im)patiently awaiting the first signs of labor: a dropped belly, contractions, breaking water...anything! I can't imagine this giant inside me can hold out for four more weeks, and I'm not sure I can either. I've been measuring "big" this whole pregnancy (ok, I measured big with Drew too), but it has me convinced I'll deliver early. Only time will tell...

So, the pregnancy is going well. I do love to feel my second child swim and hiccup inside me! I love the excitement of what is to come (and I fear it as well!). But every time I look at Drew, I realize that the aches, exhaustion, added weight, and sacrifice are all worth it. Pretty soon I'll have a second little love bug to brighten my world!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

21 month update

For the most part, Drew repeats everything & anything - and does so quite well. However, there are a few words that only a mommy would understand. Below is a "word key" to understanding Drew's secret language.

Ani, Amy, OpAn = open
Wawa = water
Tata = pasta
Papoo = playdough
Gucky = ducky
Bubby = buddy, his lovey
k? = I'm okay
Re-re = raisin
Ari = orange
Ali -n- Kahki = Alex and Kathy (his best friend and her mama!)

Otherwise, he's really easy to understand! He says more words than I can count, but I'll list a few "newer" words: inside/outside, walk, wheat, corn, carrot, berries, egg, cloud, apple, teeth, boo-boo, flower, necklace, play, jacket, coat, jeans, push, bread, rain, color, moon, bubbles ....

He doesn't have too many sentences under his belt, but lots of two and three word combos are popping up. He still likes to say "I really like caaaaarrs!" and now he can ask "Where'd Pop go?" (Or daddy, buddy, etc.) He's making progress every day!

Other than playing at the playground, Drew's favorite activity is still organizing his cars! He loves to push them, line them up, and take them in and out of their truck holder. More than anything he loves to see the people he of his list would be Ali & Kahki. They might even trump Mommy, Dada, and Mama! He also likes to read - a new favorite is "Pajama Time" by Sandra Boyton. He loves wooden puzzles (and has mastered most of them) especially those by Melissa & Doug. His favorite musician is still Laurie Berkner, but he'll clap, sing, stomp, spin, or dance to just about anyone! The "show" he most enjoys (yes, he watches television...have I failed as a mother?) is the "Baby MacDonald" DVD by Baby Einstein. He finds the puppets hilarious, likes being able to predict what's coming next, and loves animals!

At 21 months, Drew is preparing to be a BIG brother. He tends to his baby: feeds him, sits him in the chair or on the couch, holds him gently, puts baby on mommy's lap when she reads a book, and gives him kisses. Sweet! He likes to give hugs - but don't hold him any longer than he holds you! The nice thing is that he's quite fair...and gives hugs to everyone in the room! Another bit of progress, Drew can wash his own hair! He also brushes his own teeth quite well (with his electric spider-man toothbrush). He likes to be clean - like mommy - and even likes his space clean too. A couple of weeks ago he took all of dada's dirty laundry off the floor and put it in the laundry basket! I fell in love with him all over again :)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sick again?!?

Just when you thought you were out of the woods, another illness catches up with you. Blah! This weekend Drew caught a little tummy bug which left him weak & m-e-l-l-o-w. Who knows how each little germ manages to find my son, but they do. The funny thing about having a sick child is how that ultra-maternal instinct forcefully rises from within. Suddenly your child can do no wrong and captures all of your loving attention. A slight moan and I'm peaking in his room; a little whine and I'm trying to appease some need of his. This brings me back to what it felt like to have a newborn: helpless, unable to communicate, completely dependent. I realize that although I'm generally at a different place with Drew now, I'm going to easily find that responsive, pampering parent that lies inside.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is skin cancer awareness month. Having had melanoma twice now, I feel it is my mission to educate others on skin cancer: causes, treatments, and prevention. Removal of basil or squamus cell carcinomas are more common than melanoma, do not cause death, and will be removed in your dermatologist's office. Melanoma is the only skin cancer which can be FATAL as it can spread from skin to the lymph nodes and organs. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2007, there will be 8,110 fatalities from melanoma. The rate of progression is unknown so once detected, it must be removed immediately. This requires seeing a special cancer doctor/surgeon (recommended by your dermatologist) and having surgery which extracts skin from the three layers of the epidermis.

Everyone is at some risk for melanoma, but increased risk depends on several factors: sun exposure, number of moles on the skin, skin type and family history (genetics). People who've been diagnosed with melanoma in the past are also at an increased risk.

Find a dermatologist in your area and go in for a free skin cancer testing!

My story...
In 2005, when I was pregnant with Drew, my obstetrician suggested I have a mole on my right leg checked out by a dermatologist. Soon after his birth, I went to the doctor as per her suggestion. I had the mole removed at the office and discovered two weeks later that it was cancerous: I had melanoma. I met with a fabulous cancer doctor at the hospital and in January of 2006 the melanoma was removed, a scar of 15 stitches remained, and my dematology saga began. Every 3-4 months I returned to the office and had 2-3 new moles removed. Some "moles" looked like tiny dark freckles, others were growing or changing in ways that looked suspicious, but none were large, oddly shaped moles. In December of 2006, I was diagnosed with melanoma for a second time. In January of 2007, I had surgery again with my cancer doctor, Dr. Miner. This time I was the mother of a toddler AND pregnant. I was awake for the surgery with only a topical anesthetic and no follow up pain medicine. It was incredibly scary and very painful. My left leg had nearly 20 stitches; I could barely walk; and I couldn't stop thinking about how I'd had two surgeries in a year's time.

I know I'm at a high risk of having melanoma again and I'm extremely concerned. I'm also worried for my children - melanoma is genetic. And while melanoma is not caused from sun exposure, the sun changes the pigment of the skin which might be an impetus for change in moles. Therefore, I need to be especially cautious when outdoors. Blue Lizard Sunscreen, from Australia, is recommended by my dermatologist. In addition to wearing strong sunscreen, I have become a big fan of umbrellas, cover-ups, and sun hats. And as an added bonus, I am helping to reduce the signs of aging :)

Educating other people on the dangers of sun exposure and encouraging friends to see the dermatologist gives me hope...hope that cancer can be prevented for someone else.

There's no denying that this "journey" has been difficult for me. Life changing, in fact. I was once a girl who adored the sunshine. At first glimpse of summer you'd find me on a lounge chair in my bathing suit, soaking up the rays. Now, if I find myself head tilted towards the sun...welcoming it's warmth, I feel guilty. I cannot allow myself to enjoy the sun as I might be trading a moment of pleasure for cancer. I live in fear that melanoma exists undetected elsewhere in my body...or that worse, my children will have to endure this. I look at my scars: legs, arms, back...stitches everywhere, and feel ashamed. I feel disgust for the skin I wear. I feel anxious for the next round at the dermatologist and scared to hear the results. After 11 different removals in just over a year, the results have not been good. Whether mild or severe atypia, or even worse melanoma, I am constantly reminded of the severity of this issue.

We all have a responsibilty to care for ourselves...for our own sake and for those who love us. I accept responsibilty for my skin and for the prevention of sun damage to my children. For the first time in two years I heard good news: one of the three moles removed two weeks ago was not pre-cancerous. FINALLY! There is hope.