Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Michigan Trip ++

It has been more than a month since my last post, and a LOT has happened.

Sam turned THREE!
I resigned from my job. I won't be going back after my mat leave ends next week.
We flew around the world!

Sam's birthday was the day before we left for our trip to Michigan. The weekend before we had a few of her friends over for a small party. She first wanted a Spiderman cake (you know, that's what Amalia had...), but then she changed it to Batman. Much easier for me. So I had my first birthday cake baking and decorating experience. I thought I did a pretty good job for a first one with no trial run, but she won't be so impressed when she's more than three. Her party was short, small and sweet.

Happy birthday Samara!

Just a few days later we left for four weeks in Michigan (well, Matt was in DC and NY for work for one of those weeks, but the kids and I are in Michigan for four full weeks).

It turns out that riding on a plane with a three year old and a seven week old is pretty easy! I mean, it's not easy compared to riding on a plane WITHOUT a three year old and a seven week old, but compared to having a one year old or a two year old, it was a piece of (batman) cake! Plus it was only 20 hours on the way here and 24 on the way back. We have had 33 hour journeys so this was short! Sam watched her screen or my iphone the whole time, and she slept for a few hours. Matt graciously gave up his seat so she could lie across two seats, which worked for like six hours (though it hurt his back because he was all scrunched into half a seat...SUPER DAD!). Elie just ate and went back to sleep, repeat. No probs at all. His only freak out was when he was hungry about 30 minutes before take off in Tokyo. I wouldn't feed him on the ground in Tokyo because I wanted to feed him on the way up and on the way down on each flight (helps with the ears). I think people around us were freaked that he would cry the whole 14 hour flight...but he didn't even one more time.

We had a full Knuffle Bunny experience in Tokyo, which was the scariest part of our journey. I just searched my blog to find that I hadn't properly written about the importance of Froggy. He was given to Samara by Mrs and Mr Dixon and Jenny, my good friend Jill's parents and sister. He became Samara's most important friend sometime around 8 months or so, if I remember correctly. She ONLY sleeps if she has Froggy. On the ride to Tokyo Elie and I got bassinet seats and sat separately from Sam and Matt. We got off the plane in Tokyo, and when we were going through security to go to the gate to get on the next flight, I was looking for Froggy, since we always put him separately through the x-ray machines at airports (mostly to keep Samara occupied when we're going through security lines...). Matt had no idea where Froggy was and he didn't remember putting him back into the bag. Shit. I started panicking. I had a kee kee until...well, until it was WAAAAAY too long to have a blankie, and I really relate to her love for Froggy. Matt said that maybe they left him on the plane. We searched through EVERYTHING, but no Froggy. We found a man with a walkie-talkie and we tried to explain Froggy. Stuffed animal (he didn't seem to know what that meant), "like a towel?" Sort of...Like a blanket, but smaller...we showed them another stuffed animal and said, "like this buy flat. Row 53." He said, "Stay here." We waited about 20 minutes, and finally a flight attendant came running with Froggy. Samara ran towards her and was SO thankful (though I don't think she had any clue that we nearly really lost him).

We spent the first two weeks of our trip staying at my parents' place. I realized later that I was completely delirious for the first three days, and the rest of that time was super relaxing. I had no agenda and mostly sat on the couch, nursing and relaxing. Sam had four nights of jet lag and then was fine, and Elie had about the same. My parents took care of Sam when Matt went on a business trip to NY and DC, and all of my food was prepared for me and even my laundry was done. Spectacular. We went to the playground nearly every day, had weather in the 60s and 70s and sunny, and we had a great time. The second two weeks we're at Matt's parents' house, and the schedule was much more full but also super fun. Sam has gone to petting farms, orchards, pumpkin patches, play places, playgrounds...lots of stuff...and we have run loads of errands. I was trying to figure out why running around has been so exhausting for me, or why I have very little interest to leave the house, and I realized that I'm still probably not completely recovered from being on bed rest. I think my world slowed down...and then I was super pregnant...and then I had a newborn and was recovering from surgery, so I haven't been very active in nearly a year. I guess that's probably why.

It has been so wonderful seeing so many friends and relatives. Luckily my aunt's 60th birthday is today so my cousin and her husband were in town, and my grandparents came in from Florida to see us and also to celebrate my aunt. Three other cousins came in from Boston and Chicago to see us (and each other!) as well, and it's been so fun. My brother was able to come for a few days as was Matt's brother Dan who just recently moved to San Francisco.

Enjoying Sylvan lake. With angel wings.

Matt was away but it was so nice to be with my family!

Loving it.

Cider mill time with Uncle Dan and Aunt Phyllis and Jackson


Visiting with Uncle Mike and Aunt Jess

Future U of M student for sure

Aunt Phyllis and Cousin Jackson!

Sam's first teeth cleaning. She passed!

Looking at pumpkins

Uncle Dan gets broken in by Elie

Savta loves these moments

Another Savta moment

The Arb on a cold fall day. Loved it

Grandma and Grandpa too!

Also, my three best friends from college, plus partners, who are also super close friends and each couple's two kids came in. When one mentioned the idea of pitching a tent in my parents' yard, my parents SO GRACIOUSLY (I mean, above and beyond - seriously) vacated their house, leaving exactly enough space for all seven adults (Matt was still away) and EIGHT children (five and under). It was crazy, hectic and SO MUCH FUN! We had all kids in bed by 8 and definitely all sleeping by 8:30, so we could watch the endless end to the Penn State game (four overtimes...) and the Tigers and just hang out. It was like a dream to have so many people I love and feel so comfortable with in one room. I am so thankful they all came in and I can't wait till we all gather again at Michigania! (that's my next dream).

The BEST! Can you find all eight kids?

The first super ambitious thing I did was to take Elie to the Michigan/Indiana game. In Singapore we watch every Michigan game on Sunday morning (for the last few years with our friend, Eric), and they make me more homesick than anything else. I CRAVE a Michigan game. I was sooooooo excited to go. Apparently, according to Big Ten rules, even "infants in carriers" require tickets. So after I had already committed to buying tickets for me and my mom (Matt didn't want to go!), I realized we needed a third. I have not yet left Elie with bottles and wasn't ready yet, since he has not done so well with bottles...It was pouring when we woke up that day. Forecast was that it was supposed to pour until sometime in the afternoon. Game started at 3:30. My mom and I decided to just go to Ann Arbor and see what happened. We had nothing to lose. We drove there, it rained 90% of the way. I got to see Marla who was having a reunion with Law School friends - so that was extra incentive and a great bonus. The rain did start to lighten up and we finally made it to the game around halfway through the first quarter. When we arrived, Michigan got the ball, had a huge run down the field and then it started pouring. I literally sat down for a minute and then ran back out of the stadium and waited for it to let up. After ten minutes, the rest of the game was dry, and the sun even emerged in the fourth quarter. It was a really exciting, high scoring game, with a complete lack of defense, and it was so fun my cheeks hurt from smiling so much (honest!!). I was so happy to be there. Elie's most expensive meal ever ($75 to be exact) was had on the ground, against a pillar of the stadium, outside of an unused door, near a concession stand, just at the end of halftime and into the third quarter. Other than that, he was warmly in his Ergo (it was in the 40s!) and slept for all of the game other than his meal and about 15 minutes after that.

Go Blue!! That's Elie's head in the black thing.

While mostly we have had fun and games, I did have a bit of health drama. Given the healthcare system in the US, we mostly live in fear of something happening to us while we are in the US. We do have insurance that we bought to cover this, but still, everything is just more complicated in the US. About a week after we got home, my left breast started to hurt a lot and it turned red and hot. I thought it was mastitis, which I had had a few weeks before in Singapore. I tried to massage it out, pump, cold between feedings, etc., but it didn't move, and it hurt SO much I could barely touch it. When I tried to massage it out I literally sat there crying and trying to just think of something else. I went to a lactation consultant who said I needed to get myself to a doctor immediately. Shit. This is what we DON'T want! I had awful expectations. Thousands of dollars. No one would fit me in. ER in the middle of the night. Shit. I called my mom's OB and begged them to fit me in. They said they could in a day or so. I said that I had a red infection that was spreading and I was literally driving to their office. Could a doctor PLEASE just squeeze me in. They finally agreed (what!?) and warned me that it would be $200. The OB said that she thought it was mastitis and gave me antibiotics and told me to massage it out. It was $90 (I couldn't believe it was not $1000). This was Tuesday. By Thursday morning it was AWFUL and hurt sooooooo much, and the infection was getting bigger. I messaged the nurse of my doctor in Singapore and sent a photo. She said go to a breast surgeon. I called the OB I had gone to get the names of surgeons they recommend. I called the first and again, begged them to get  me in ASAP. Same strong wording about the infection spreading and immense pain. No strings being pulled. No names being dropped...they fit me in that afternoon! Again, they warned that it would be at least $200 for just the consult. Whatever - just get this thing off of me or help me! I couldn't believe they could fit me in. My mom urged Matt to go with me and Elie, though I was pretty stubborn and wasn't sure why he needed to be there. The surgeon listened to my story and said it sounded like a cyst that had become infected and he could take the whole thing out right then and there. We agreed, and he dug in and created a crater in my breast - but he got the whole cyst and infection. It hurt like a MOFO but I couldn't believe how nice he was, how nice his office was to help me so quickly, and in the end he charged me $95 for the WHOLE thing including the follow up appointment I had today! What?! I couldn't believe it, and I am so so so thankful for him and his amazing care. I was also thankful Matt came because I could not have driven myself home safely. What a pleasant experience all around! The infection is totally gone, and it's much much less painful, and I hope to be able to pump again soon to get this bottle thing moving to be able to leave Elie.

We have really been enjoying the crisp weather, amazingly beautiful leaves - the Arb in Ann Arbor was BREATHTAKING, meals being cooked for us, people who love us hanging out with our children. It's honestly just been really wonderful to be here, and I'm so sad it's ending so soon.