Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Nursing Struggle

I can't believe Augie is almost 3 months old! And that it took this long for me to stop loathing nursing. Not just being uncomfortable or in pain or trapped feeding him, but all of it combined into a serious loathing. Luckily, though, I'm already on an antidepressant and it's been helping considerably. I've been feeling more patient (I used to be a really patient person... motherhood, huh?) and more capable of being a parent of multiple kids. I'm really settling in to being a mom of 2. This morning, I even got in a shower before the boys were awake! Win!

Back to nursing, I finished a "super fun" week of antibiotics yesterday because I had mastitis. I think it started because I had a fast let-down and Augie would bite to slow it down, which made the nipple hurt, which made me avoid nursing on that side, which made plugged ducts, which turned into mastitis. So fun. But in the last few days, I've been not hating nursing both sides! I still prefer one, but that's because I'm not a lefty. On the other hand, Milo has refused to eat almost everything, so... If you have any ideas besides asking him what he wants, giving him things he'd usually like, trying new things, bribery, consequences, or having him help cook... let me know. I feel like we've tried everything.

Also, Milo has been more consistently refusing his afternoon nap, which I am beyond tired about. If that even makes any sense. At least Augie is napping pretty regularly and going to bed at a pretty usual time so that I can still have a little rest. I really think it's because Milo was on a good schedule so we could just fit Augie right in there. But, like everything in life, our schedule is ever changing. Great. Parenting is fuuuuuun and not frustrating or stressful in the sliiiiiighhhttesssssssttttt.

Not everything is awful about Milo! (even though he also refuses to learn how to blow his own nose that is running like a river because of the disgusting inversion). His imagination is fantastic, he has lots of energy, and he is still really funny. He's also a pretty good big brother helper in that he loves putting soap in the laundry, bringing me diapers and wipes, and will help me clean up. He doesn't have too many accidents and has almost learned to tell me he needs to go before he pees his pants.

Anyway, we're doing pretty well over here. And Christmas is on its way! We're really excited for Milo to have his first interactive Christmas and for Augie to be with us then too! Here's to 2018 being less eventful than this year! 😆


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

It’s been one of those incredibly frustrating nights of being a parent. I’m writing this while Im trying to put Augie down for the second time tonight. He’s been stuffy and gassy and hungry a lot lately and it’s really taken a toll on my sanity. I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been a conversation where I haven’t forgotten what I’m saying in the last 2 weeks. I know this can’t last forever, but it’s also crazy difficult to see through the haze.

However, even during the difficult times I’m lucky that I tend to also look for the blessings. Like I did during Sean’s surgery, I could relatively easily point out the things that went right when it felt like everything was wrong. Even though I’m losing sleep and cognitive ability, I have 2 amazing little boys who make me smile every day and an incredible husband who takes on a good load of work around the house. 

I’m grateful that these three are all home safe and healthy after a long year of medical trials and that we have decent insurance so we’re not paying the full $130,000 dollars we owe. I’m grateful for the experiences that we’ve had that have brought us closer together and for the family and friends who’ve helped us shoulder the burden with babysitting, meals, and long talks. 

I’m grateful that I’m able to be what I’ve always wanted to be. When I was little, I’d play Mom all the time, even going so far as to stuff toys up my shirt pretending to be pregnant. I love playing Mom with the kids I’ve been blessed with and it’s even better than I imagined, even with the hard days.

I’m grateful for an exceptional husband. He brings out the best in me and makes me happy. I still get butterflies when he comes home at the end of the day (whether I’m just glad to see him or I’m in dire need of parenting help). 

I’m grateful for parents and a sister whose relationships I’ve been able to grow and mend this past year. I know I’m not always the best daughter/sister, but I’m glad to be able to be working at it. 

Thanksgiving is my absolute most favorite holiday and I’m so glad I got to host my parents this year and that it all went so well. (Yes, now I’m finishing writing this after a good, delicious Thanksgiving) Now onto Christmas with 2 super kids! Yay!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Live & Learn

Tonight was a rough night. Well... the entire day has been rough. Lately, Milo has been regressing. He’s had maybe a dozen potty accidents in the past few days, he’s denying everything I tell him (even if it’s blatantly obvious. For example- Me: “we’re at home” Milo: “we’re NOT at home.”), and he’s been especially whiney. I knew this would happen because it usually does with a new baby around, but I was really hoping it wouldn’t. 

Yesterday, I was less patient and more demanding. Sean was the good parent then and helped him through his big emotions. Tonight, after pushing in nursery and yelling at/hitting Dad and having yet another potty accident, I took the role of reasonable parent and tried to help explain the emotions to him. We talked about what makes us sad and happy and why we shouldn’t push and how we should go to the potty before we pee our pants like big kids.

When he finally got in bed, Augie woke up from a too-short nap and then just started screaming for a solid half hour. I tried everything. Nursing, bottle, pacifier, rocking, singing, gas drops, changing his diaper and clothes... nada. Finally, I just put him on my shoulder and hugged him tight while I tried to figure out a next step. Within minutes, he was out. All he needed was a hug. 

It’s so easy to jump to frustration and consequences when little kids misbehave, especially when the misbehaving has been going on for days. Days like these are important for both parents and kids, I feel, because we each need to recognize and identify emotions and learn how to cope with them. 

Of course, there are still consequences for Milo’s inability to listen to instructions. Tomorrow he will have to help clean up all the hundreds of toys that are out in the living room (I’m counting each hot wheels car as an individual toy, plus all the other things that are out) and work hard to remember to say he has to potty before an accident happens. But, along with that there are rewards like popcorn for snack time after he helps clean and a special grocery store treat if his undies can stay dry for the entire day. Plus, tomorrow we’re having a family night about nice/naughty and happy/sad. Here’s hoping it goes well and is a lesson learned. 

Now to bust out the pretzel m&ms and watch a few shows before crashing out for the night. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Introducing Augie

 August "Augie" Orion Donner
born September 21, 2017
12:04 AM
7 lbs., 20 in.
Augie was born at 37w4d.

A day or so before, I was measuring at almost a 4 and had my membranes stripped. The day of started normal and then gradually I knew something was happening.

At around 4:30pm, I rallied the troops. My friend Kaylene came to take Milo till my sister Abby could come take care of him for the night. My parents came to the hospital and I very slowly started dilating. After a few hours of resting and walking around the hospital, I finally started progressing fast enough to be set up for delivery. They started pitocin and I had an epidural shortly after that.This time, the epidural didn’t completely numb my legs so I could still move them on my own, but I didn’t feel any pain still!

Around 11:45 on September 20, I was ready to push. In fact, Augie’s head was already crowning on its own. (Back story: Milo was born the morning after Sean’s dad’s birthday and we really wanted Augie to be born the day after My dad’s birthday and that just happened to be the 20th!)

We finished watching the baseball game and joking with the doctors and nurses in the room until midnight and then 4 pushes later, Augie was born! They cleaned him up, took care of me (only a small tear even though he was sunny-side up like Milo was. These boys!) and then I got to hold him for maybe 15 minutes. The entire time we were doing the skin-to-skin, Augie was grunting and squirming and turning more purple. Something didn’t seem entirely right, and the nurse came and took him to their small NICU.

Augie’s lungs weren’t filling all the way with air. Our pediatrician came and took care of him and gave him a dose of surfactant to try and get the air sacs to fill up while he was on oxygen. That didn’t work and they didn’t have all the things they needed or the room for him at the hospital I delivered him at, so they strapped him and the oxygen and feeding tubes and whatever else to a gurney and wheeled him in to say goodbye to me before being transferred by ambulance to the big hospital the next town over. That was around 10 in the morning after a night of intermittent rest and belly pushing and Augie updates.

It was heartbreaking seeing him in the tiny incubator box on the gurney, but I knew he’d be safe and better taken care of in the big NICU. They put him on oxygen and cpap and iv fluids when they got there and then gradually started weaning him of oxygen.

I was discharged the next morning and then hurried over with Sean to see him. I got to hold him, even with all the tubes and wires attached. The nurses that took care of him were all so sweet and so excited to see his progress. Everyone we talked to was pleasantly surprised at how fast he progressed. He nursed well a few times, took formula just fine, and passed all the NICU graduation tests and we were able to take him home after only 2.5 days!

He’s been home for a few weeks now and has fit right into our family perfectly. He and I are learning to nurse well and I have more than 100oz of breast milk frozen already. I’ll have to do a post about the difference it’s been nursing vs formula feeding with Milo. It’s been interesting! He sleeps pretty well at night (he's gotten up to 5 hour stretches) and generally only wakes up once between the time we get to bed to the time everyone wakes up for the day. He's super strong and is not a fan of diaper changes. We're all in love with baby Augie and we can't wait to see the kind of kid he grows up to be!

Milo is a fantastic big brother. He’s kept up well with potty training and is so sweet with Augie and loves to check in on him and give him soft head kisses ("What's Augie doin', Mom?" every few minutes. He's usually still sleeping or eating). There's still days when we struggle (thus is life with a newborn and a 2 year old), but I'm feeling pretty confident in my abilities and I'm so grateful for these boys of mine. Today I got a bunch of stuff done (laundry, dishes, picking up toys, gathering garbage, showering, nursing while eating breakfast, keeping 2 kids alive and not losing my sanity!), so I'm feeling pretty good. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Lots of Docs and our Road Trip

So Sean and I have never been to a dentist since we've been married. I know, I know. BUT, this week we each have appointments and Milo has one as well and I have a separate appointment for my permanent retainer that's been bothering me the past couple days. Yay, adulthood!

Milo had his 2 year checkup recently and all is well with him. Our new doctor here seemed really impressed with his ability to communicate and his energy level (high, obviously). Milo is now 2 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 27 pounds 9 ounces. His head is in the 70th percentile. Everything is looking good with him and he was so excited to tell the doctor about anything that came to his mind.

Yesterday was my 28 week appointment with Augie. I took the glucose test (which wasn't nearly as bad as last time because I came prepared with a good book and full phone battery) and haven't heard anything back about it, so I probably passed(?). I also got a Tdap shot and am measuring normal.

Sean hasn't had any issues with his head lately besides the numb spot feeling weird (possibly regaining feeling?).

We started potty training this weekend and... it's going about as well as it could. He had 2 big pees in the potty, a few small accidents, one big accident, missed his nap (which, subsequently spiraled into him needing a timeout for smacking my face), and it's going fine. We're doing the "trained in a weekend" method and it's going fine. Sean and I are both tired already, but if it works and we don't have to buy 2 sizes of diapers, then it's worth it. If you have any tips or tricks that might help us in this method, please share! I'm sure naps help.. but that's not always something I can control.

Anyway, other than all that, there's not much going on until Augie shows up!


We also just got back from Milo's first big road trip to MN. We were in the car for 2 straight days there and 2 straight days back (with a break for sleep in Gillette in the middle). We stayed with Sean's parents with his youngest brother and his family, went camping in St. Croix for a family reunion, visited Sean's oldest brother and his family for a while, went to the Mall of America's aquarium, and had a little party for Milo on his birthday!

It was a lot of fun! Exhausting, as I bet you can imagine, but it's always nice to visit with family and see some sights. Milo did really well in the car the whole time and slept really well no matter where we were (he only missed one nap on the very first day of driving). He also loved playing with his friends and cousins there and running around in the great outdoors, not something he gets to do a lot here.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

May Update

This last month has definitely been better than the one before, so far. We're almost halfway to baby #2 (we find out the gender next week!) and Sean is almost fully recovered, besides some weakness (likely from not doing much lifting the last 2 months) and goes to work full time again. Milo is learning so incredibly much! Here are some things he's been up to:
  • He can count to 11 without help.
  • He knows the names of several dinosaurs (triceratops, t-rex, dinonychus, allosaurus, raptor, brachiosaurus, to name a few).
  • He loves reading longer picture books.
  • He's learned to stack things (blocks, animal toys, side-table objects).
  • He's obsessed with the swings every time we go to the park. 
  • He's good at helping clean up.
  • He sings Wheels on the Bus like a champ. 
  • His favorite movies are Yellow Submarine, Kung Fu Panda, and A Goofy Movie.
  • He's excited to sleep in a tent on the father/son campout coming up!
  • He loves getting dirty.
  • He'll tell you his favorite food is Hot Dogs, although I'm not sure how true that really is...
  • He's great at playing on his own while I'm doing chores (or resting on the couch, let's be honest.)
  • He's getting excited to be a big brother! 
Other than that, things have been relatively quiet around here. We went on another quick road trip to Wyoming a few weekends ago and it went well! We went to our nephew Sirius' 1st birthday, Milo did super well in the car, and Sean's parents also were able to come for a day or so too! It's always nice to get away for a bit and see family. We're going on a trip this summer to MN for another family reunion, so it was nice to have this bit of practice in.

We're also trying to liquidate our teeshirt business. Our domain contract is up in September and, seeing as we'll have our hands full with another little one and still working to pay off Sean's surgery, we're going to give it up for a bit and then hopefully pick it back up in the future. All shirts are $12, free shipping, on our website We'd really appreciate it if you helped us out! 

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that's it for us right now. Hopefully our next post will be a fun gender reveal! Yay!

Love, Miss Ellen

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Our Latest Adventure: Sean's Brain Tumor.

Hi, Friends! SO. As we all know, I'm terrible at keeping up the blog sometimes. Most times... but I have a good excuse this time and I'll tell you all about it.

Chapter 1

It started early March, Sean was getting frequent headaches and would get dizzy upon standing up too quickly. Of course, my mama brain (and in this case, wife brain) was turning and I was getting nervous something was going on below the surface. Anyway, it kept happening and he got sufficiently dizzy one friday while playing softball with his league from work, which made him nervous.

The Sunday after Sean turned 33 (Happy Birthday, babe!) we were sitting in church and Sean texts me from his class that his headache has worsened and he's hot and dizzy. I texted him back that we should go to the hospital and he said "I'll just wait and sleep it off when we get home." And I tried texting him about all his symptoms and that he should be more worried. like 5 minutes passes before he texts me back and I was just waiting for some guy to come bursting into the women's class (here called Relief Society) shouting "Sister Donner! Your husband!" and I, with my things already together ready to leave, would say "Yep, I'm coming. Help him to the car." But he texted me back that he was going to leave the class. I went to get Milo from the Nursery and picked him up from around the corner and he was not looking good.

I held Milo in one arm, helped Sean be steady to the car with the other, and kept my cool the whole time. I was en route to the ER when Sean insisted we go to Urgent Care because it's cheaper. Men, right? They took him right back in Urgent Care, took his vitals, and sent him out for me to take him to the ER. Of course, as he walked out to tell me this, he looked like they just told him he has a cold. They didn't. They thought it might be a stroke.

We went to an ER, they checked us in, and eventually we were seen by a doctor and Sean had a CT Scan. I forgot to mention, Sean hadn't eaten anything that whole day besides half a gatorade I made him drink in the car, some crackers from the diaper bag, and some bites of a granola bar my mom brought for me when she came to pick up Milo, because it seemed like it was going to be a long day for us. Little did we know...

About an hour later, the CT scan came back and the doctor gave us the diagnosis. Sean had a hemangioblastoma on the bottom of the back of his brain that had developed a cyst that was pushing creating the headaches and a build-up of spinal fluid. The doctor (imagine a taller this guy) told us we had to head over to another hospital, check into their ER, and schedule a surgery for either that night or the next morning.
This is Sean talking to his Mom about how he's about to have brain surgery.
Everyone we told thought it was a joke at first. Morbid joke, guys...

Oddly enough, we were laughing about it. It was so absurd to be in church one minute and scheduling brain surgery the next. We went home, packed up a couple things, not really knowing what was going to happen next, called a couple neighbors to come give Sean a priesthood blessing, and packed a bag for Milo's stay at my parents house. Around 4:30 that night, we finally went to the next ER, checked in, and they put us in this terrifying white box room with only one folding chair to sit on.

At this point in the story, I'm going to remind you that I'm pregnant. Still. Through all of this. So I'm starving, uncomfortable, and a little bit sick. Okay, we can continue.

An hour or so after being checked into this second ER, we finally see a doctor. Sean goes through the same spiel he had with the last doctor, only this time included the bits about his having a tumor. They scheduled him for an MRI, told me where the cafeteria was, and left. I went to the cafeteria but forgot my wallet. On my way back to the ER was when it all settled and I understood what was happening. I broke down. At that point, my brother-in-law who lives in UT offered to come and bring me dinner.

I got back to the ER room, they took Sean away for the MRI, and I called my mom to tell her all the news. She got Milo to say "I love you, Mom" on the phone and, of course, I broke down again. Sean got back and, shortly after he did, the surgeon came in to talk to us. He showed us the pictures, talked us through the procedure, and reassured us that he's been doing about this same operation for 30+ years. We were in good hands. In fact, everyone who took care of us through the entire experience were extremely nice and helpful.

After that, Brady showed up with McDonalds (Sean was told he could eat until Midnight at this point) and we ate quick and then were moved up to Sean's Neurosurgery recovery room for the night. That's where I left him and walked all the way through the hospital back to the car. I broke down halfway home and detoured to Sean's cousin's house, where his wife (who is one of my best friends who I've talked about on the blog before, Kember) consoled me and listen to my sobs and offered a room, which I tried sleeping in until 2 am. I realized that just wasn't going to work for me after lots of tears, some dry-heaves, and insomnia (right? bleh.) So I snuck out and headed home.

Chapter 2

The next morning, I woke up to another of my best friends coming to walk our dog (THANK YOU, KAYLENE!). I got up, showered, sobbed some more, and headed to the hospital. Sean's surgery was scheduled as the 3rd operation of the day for this surgeon. We sat in his room forever, Kember brought me some lunch and talked for a bit, and then they wheeled him down to the OR at around 3:30 or 4. 

Kember came back and stayed with me in the waiting room for Sean's surgery. My parents eventually came down with my sister and Milo to wait for a little bit. Sean's surgery, once he was finally being operated on, took maybe an hour and a half. At around 6, the surgeon came out and told me all was successful and he was certain they got it all and that it wasn't cancer. A huge relief, that I strangely wasn't even actually worried about ever. 

He was awake and responding well, so I went up to the ICU with him and sat in the waiting room for about 15 minutes while they situated him. The whole way up the elevator, Sean was just talking about how "so pissed off" he was. It was adorable. Even the nurses thought so. They said he was the nicest pissed off person they ever. I stayed with him for about 2 more hours while he drifted in and out of sleep, called his mom, and cried some more being upset I had to leave him. (PS, the accomodations for spouses in under-construction hospitals is less than par.) Eventually, I did leave because I was getting hungry and he was just being [adorably] pissed off. 

I went home and Kaylene came over to talk and listen to me vent. And give me a nice shoulder rub. (I have good friends:) ). I eventually went to bed and the next morning, Sean was still in the ICU. They had requested a room for him back on the recovery floor, but it wouldn't be open until later that day (they initially thought till the next night, but we luckily got to move around 2 or 3 pm.) My parents came down in the morning and we had lunch and then Milo saw Sean for the first time since Sunday. 

It was heartbreaking. Sean wanted to give him a huge hug and talk to him, but there was no way for this to happen. Milo ran around the room for a bit, and I held him up to see Sean as long as I could. This was one of the hardest parts of the whole thing. 

About a half hour after Milo and I got there with my parents, a room opened up and we said goodbye to them and we got ready for the move upstairs. Once we got situated, Sean's coworker Todd came by with a huge gift and some treats for Sean. He had pooled money at work and bought Sean a Millennium Falcon Lego set. (Over the first week we were home, he would gradually put this together which helped work his neck muscles that were cut during the surgery and keep him busy when he was awake. 

Chapter 3

We were in the hospital until that Thursday. Sean started off walking with the physical therapist and they deemed him strong enough to walk with only me on the first day back, which was great improvement. Most of the days, we just sat in his room. He'd take naps, I'd play on my phone or color pictures (the company he works for sent an AMAZING gift basket with lots of food gift cards, some snacks, some coloring books and markers, and a toy for Milo. 

We had some family visit and Sean's coworkers from his last job who he still keeps in contact with. One of the days (I forget which, they all kind of run together), Sean's brother Brady and his family brought Milo down for dinner. It was really nice to see Milo again. We were missing him like crazy, especially because he was teething hardcore and obviously struggling to understand why we weren't there for him. He cuddled on Sean and ate some apple and cheese, but was mostly content just sitting there with him. Eventually, they had to leave and I took him to the front door and it was awful to leave him. 

Like I said, all the days sort of ran together and then Thursday came and Sean was finally discharged at about 4 and we went home. I dropped him off, got him situated, and then my parents brought Milo home and stayed with them while I ran and got Sean's prescriptions filled and for dinner. The first few days home with Milo and Sean were difficult. Milo was at the tail end of teething, and was just hitting a big "terrible two" phase, and Sean was still too weak to really do much (although he tried and I had to tell him to sit down more than once). 

I set up an event for Sean for whoever wanted to send him things to do while he was at home (because I knew he'd go crazy without a project) and we got a fantastic response! A bunch of Sean's family and friends sent him things and he was just busy enough for the whole time he was still off work. We went out to eat to test Sean's strength (and to use those gift cards) and went to Sean's work for lunch one time. Sean was back to work on a shortened schedule after about a week at home (like I said, he's not one for resting). 

We have had a lot of friends bring over dinner and/or watch Milo for a spell and we are SUPREMELY GRATEFUL for everyone who has helped out in any way. Dealing with brain surgery, pregnancy, and a crabby toddler was rough for the first little while and we are so grateful for all the lovely people we have in our lives. THANK YOU!! 

Sean's staples came out the second Friday after we got back. He has a lot more movement in his neck since the staples were removed and he's back to driving, which is nice. He needs to take a nap every day still and he eats a lot (the brain needs a lot of calories to recover) and we still take it kind of slow (we as in I'm still pregnant, ya'll). We're still planning on all the things we have planned for this year, and we're back to a regular routine, which I love. 

Thanks again to everyone! He has a followup in a couple weeks and an MRI after that and I'll do my best to update facebook/instagram if anything else happens. YOU GUYS ROCK!
Also, If you made it to the end of this, Here's an award for you.


Love, Ellen

Monday, March 13, 2017

Better Announce Here too, huh?

Our new album drops late Sept - early Oct!

That makes me 10 weeks 2 days  right now, so I'm so close to being done with the first trimester! Hallelujah! The first trimester has (apparently) never been easy on me. But we're working through it and it's almost done! 

We're planning a road trip for April and July, so hopefully the excess fatigue and nausea will for sure be gone by then. We're still pretty excited, though! 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hi, Everyone!

Hey, I'm back. It's been pretty messy on the internet for the last little while so I've been avoiding it!

We've been doing pretty well. Just hanging out, avoiding the disgusting Utah inversion air, watching movies, and wishing for spring.

I'm thinking about putting some more recipes up on the blog, largely for my own ability to remember them, but also so that others can try them out! I really try to make everything cheap and easy. I've got a good recipe for Easy Peanut Thai Noodles or Hamburger Gravy or Chicken Noodle Soup. Maybe I'll try posting a recipe every other week or so, just to have something new on the blog!

A couple days ago we went to the doctor and, turns out, Milo has an ear infection. That makes sense with him tantrumming often and not eating well. He never had a fever until Wednesday and he was only really tantrum-y for a while, so I guessed it was just him growing up quickly and not that he was in pain. He's on antibiotics now, though, and has been acting more like himself. Which I'm definitely grateful for!

Another thing I've done recently is I made a toy rotation for Milo! He has, let's just say, a ton of toys. I made 5 different theme boxes and we're starting them in rotation this week! Today's toy box is Building themed! There's toy tools, blocks, duplos, a house, a construction set, and our foam mats. We also have Animals, Dinosaurs, Music, and Transportation themed boxes. It feels really great to have all those toys put away, but I still feel like there's so many toys on my floor! We'll just have to see how it works out and adjust to our needs. I'll probably do a blog about it too eventually.

Sean has started putting our basement together! We've made the plans, priced stuff out and put up the framing for the bathroom so far, and it might take some time to actually complete, but at least we're making progress. It'll add a lot of value to our house and be a nice space for guests and movie-watching.

I've also started watching a neighbor boy 3 or 4 days a week and it's been going pretty well. Milo has been pretty good at getting along with him and it's nice to have a little extra income for myself. It hasn't been too difficult, he's a pretty easy going kid.

That's basically it for now. Next week is Sean's and my 5 year dating anniversary, then there's Valentine's day... so we're all booked up!

Love, Ellen

Also, we have a new addition to our family! Congrats, Damien and Rebecca on the new pup ;)

Oscar John Donner