Head, Shoulders…Eyes & Ears!

Here we are again at Emerie’s next surgery. This one is unique, a combination of new ear tubes and another left eye resection surgery. After three Botox procedures, one successful and two not as much as hoped, we are back to the drawing board on straightening out her eye and convincing her brain to keep using it.

Sunday night Emerie woke up with a major ear ache on one side, which the pediatrician confirmed yesterday as a definite ear infection. After two hours of tossing and turning and prohibiting Craig and I from getting sleep, she demanded to go sleep with grandma in the guest room. Worked for us and gave me a few minutes of shut eye before the next one was up. Fortunately this didn’t hinder having the surgery, with the doctor noting that he would clean out the infected side when the tubes were placed, essentially making it feel better, with the ear drops kicking the rest.

On the drive across town Emerie excitedly pointed out , at 5:45 in the morning mind you, that darkness means fall and that mean trick or treating, then Christmas, then my birthday and then hers! It was an impressive observation so early and from a four year old!

Grandma Sue came with me this morning and Emerie loved every second of it. Balloon gloves blow up to look like little blue sharks and the longer the versed was in her system, the more hilarious that seemed to her. Lots of giggles occurred as we waited to see both doctors, and Emerie cooperated for her pulse check much better than usual. She didn’t appreciate the little girl crying across the hall, who I overheard was also getting eyes and ears worked on, but eventually blocked that out and relaxed.

We opted to do both procedures under the same anesthesia, which meant one less time going through the whole surgery process. Arriving at six AM, we were the first in line for the day for Doctor Winkle (eyes) and Doctor Kowolski (ears).

She went back with the nurses to the OR about 7:45, and by 8:10 Doctor Kowolski was out to tell us the ear tubes went in without any issues. Doctor Winkle didn’t come out with his update for more than an hour after that, as expected, and another forty minutes after that before we could go back and see her.

Everything went well. Doctor Winkle noted that her inner eye muscle was a bit tighter than he expected and that he put a little liquid (can’t remember the word he said) to help with the scar tissue, which is an issue when repeat procedures occur over the years.

Today’s recovery was different than previous surgeries. This time she really didn’t want to wake up; in fact we spent almost two hours in recovery where she lightly snored, snuggled under the heating blanket, completely out to the world. The nurse removed the IV from her hand and her chest monitors without even a flinch. Eventually we were able to con her into consciousness by rubbing the cherry popsicle on her lips, just enough for her to subconsciously want it. We tried talking to her about it first, and threatening to eat it or give it to a sister, neither of which helped. She then proceeded to eat the whole thing with both eyes closed, mumbling short word responses to questions.

Prior procedures resulted in a completely asleep child diving straight into a demanding, I need a popsicle now, kid. We typically head home within 30 minutes or so. This time around, we didn’t head to the car until about eleven, she instantly went back to sleep in her car seat while hiding under her blanket from the sun, and slept in her bed until after two! The rest of the afternoon was watching movies with snuggles- a rotation between wanting me, Craig and grandma- and warm washcloths on her eye with several pedialite popsicles. Her ears don’t seem to be any bother (albeit they look red with dried blood), but her eye is swollen and red and puffy. Not droopy like the Botox procedures, but definitely swollen and sensitive and greatly bothering her.

While we normally delay a bath for two days after a procedure, she begged so badly for one that Craig let her sit in the tub, with promises to not splash anything sensitive. Early bedtime was a definite must, with Harper and Reagan both quite supportive of letting their sister get to sleep to feel better. Early bedtime for the adults too I hope, as these days are mentally exhausting and I could have fallen asleep hours ago. I imagine it’s going to be a long night once the pain meds wane, and hope tomorrow will be a bit better for her and that we all get some rest. First thing is her post-op eye check, probably followed by a quiet day at home and a lot of coffee (for me!)

Eye Spy

The latest in the saga of eye appointments; we opted to take all three at once for their annual eye check. Harper and Reagan haven’t had a check in about a year while Emerie sees her beloved Doctor Winkle every few months.

Everyone was overly excited to go visit Dr. Winkle and not go straight to school in the morning. Harper even brought him a custom colored picture, but was shy to hand it to him. Emerie hung out like it was a normal appointment and held still for her pre-op check like a pro.

Harper and Reagan fought the dilation drops to the death, resulting in Craig and I both holding them down while the nurse snuck a drop in each side. As Harper received hers, Reagan tried to hide behind the equipment as to “escape” her turn. Luckily Emerie didn’t require them on this visit, since she gets really great eye checks while unconscious and under the knife.

We are happy to report that both girls received good news, with no signs of any cataracts in their eyes, and that by now since no anomalies have appeared, they are in the clear. This also tells us that Emerie’s pediatric issue is not genetic; rather it is likely environmental, and happened specifically to her and not her siblings sometime during early development.

Today we went to the surgery center for Emerie’s third Botox procedure- the first successfully aligned her eye for a few months and the second didn’t seem to help so much; we are hoping this third one will!

As usual, Emerie dressed up in her fancy Tangled Princess nighty specifically for her time with Dr. Winkle. She insisted on wearing it throughout all the pre-op checks and didn’t don the gown until after he came in to say hello and mark the correct eye. At this point she was also completely loopy and shy.

She conned the charge nurse into additional fanciness and several “fall risk” bright yellow bracelets on her arm and leg and a blanket for her stuffed animal.

The grape flavored versed was gobbled down and immediately took affect, prompting her irritation once again that she couldn’t grab the images off her book pages. She loudly screamed and disrupted the entire room at the sight of a beach ball on one page. This is always my favorite part of the process. By the time they whisked her away on the rolling bed, she was completely chill with her monkey and just going for a ride. I forget how much easier this process is now that she’s older and been through it a handful of times. Watching the other toddlers in the room today; Emerie is definitely a pro and takes it all in stride. She even cooperated on the finger oxygen tracker, much more than usual, and was flying it around as a helicopter and making me try it on.

Chillin and reading a book

Today’s procedure was the same Botox injection into her eye muscle, which is less invasive than cutting it to adjust its elasticity, in hopes of straightening out the eye. This procedure is our last ditch effort before we go back to more invasive and there’s no way to guess which way it’ll end up. If it does straighten the eye, then we will do it again later this fall. The effects usually wear off by about three months.

I barely sat down in the waiting room before Dr. Winkle came through the doors and was completely done! He noted that a bit more of the “magic dust” was mixed today to try to be more effective and I entirely plan on telling her he gave her magic fairy dust in her sleep! Such a quick procedure meant no IV and only has gas anesthesia.

Of course, afterwards the first thing she always wants is a popsicle and some juice. The nurse received strict instructions beforehand that she wanted a purple popsicle and her second choice of flavor was also purple (this kid I tell you!). She came out of the anesthesia perfectly and after her snack, insisted she wanted to go home.

The rest of the day has been uneventful and full of a loopy but happy Emerie Faye.

Thanks for all the prayers! Let’s hope this one works!

Back to the Botox

In the latest saga of Emerie’s eye surgeries, here we are again today, up for another minor Botox procedure at the surgery center with Doctor Winkle. When we last did this procedure last summer, it helped realign her eye from trending inward and avoided a more invasive (i.e. cutting) surgery that builds scar tissue each time we have to do it. The hope today is that the botox injection will encourage her brain to straighten the eye on its own.

Now that she is a bit older and more understanding of things around her, Emerie recognizes when sisters go to school and she goes to the doctor and is not upset about seeing the beloved Doctor Winkle. Emerie talked Craig into bringing him a fresh donut at her last pre-op appointment and is always happy to go. In fact, Harper and Reagan are often disappointed they don’t get to visit him and ask when they can go.

COVID rules continue to limit how many adults can go back per kid (one) so I took Em this morning while Craig took the other two to preschool. As we drove past the building with Dr. Winkle’s office, she questioned if we were actually going to see him or not. After a little Frozen movie screening while I filled out the loads of paperwork, we were back in pre-op where she changed into the hospital gown, reluctantly put on the bright yellow hospital socks, and dressed her stuffed animals in the hair net that under no circumstance was going willingly on her head. After the Versed kicked in I enjoyed watching my daughter try to grab the colors out of the Hungry Caterpillar book and decided I would choose a better topic for the next visit. I mean, depriving a kiddo of food and drink prior to surgery means I shouldn’t bring a book alll about food, right?!

The whole procedure took only 30 minutes or so. By the time I sat down, pulled out my iPad and drank some coffee in the waiting room, the doctor was done and giving me an update. Everything went great, and unlike last time, he opted for gassed anesthesia to keep her under- meaning she didn’t have to ventilate or get poked with an IV like all the previous surgeries. This meant less time and a less grumpy kiddo waking up. Since needling the muscle is minimally invasive and only takes a couple minutes, it was much appreciated.

She was snuggled up and still asleep when I made it back to post-op- one minute she was still out and the next sitting up and asking the nurse for a popsicle. After said popsicle was devoured and two apple juices consumed, I convinced her getting dressed was a good idea and we were on our way home.

All in all, everything went smoothly and I’m glad to have made it through another of these without any hiccups! She is already back to her normal self, amid a red and mildly droopy eye, and running around the house wearing a Tangled costume and ballet slippers.

Thanks for all the prayers! ❤

Botox Baby

The doctor had an opening to get Emerie in this week for her eye procedure. Earlier is sort of a blessing since it takes away the stress of waiting to schedule and get it over with, but also gives Emerie more time with a more straightened eye.

Surgery was bright and early at the new Surgery Center, with Grandma Anne staying home with the other two for the morning. Emerie was a good sport for everything, including her rapid COVID test accurately called “the lady wants to clean out your boogers.”

COVID rules meant that only one of us could go back into pre and post op and we let her choose…today she was Team Mom. The whole walk back she asked where’s Doctor Winkle and smiled when he arrived.

Now that she is a little older she followed more normal pre surgery things like wearing a hospital gown top, getting clean socks and getting to lay in a blanket on her own hospital bed. One of the pre-op nurses put her hairnet on her monkey and that was exciting! Emerie also sucked down her calming medicine, Versed, without any convincing. She also told her name and both sisters names to the doctors when asked. Middle names included, of course!

The anesthesiologist recommended putting her in a diaper so that no one had to clean up any accidents and that was definitely a good call. Pretty quickly she was back in the OR for her procedure and we hung out in the front waiting room.

After about 45 minutes Dr. Winkle came out and let us know everything went great and he didn’t have to do any cutting on the eye muscles. The Botox allows the muscle to shift how the eye is straightened in an attempt for her brain to catch on and stay that way. He said it is typical for some droopy eyelids and wandering eyeballs to occur over the next month so other than having to keep myself in check at that weirdness, we should be back to normal pretty quick. Hopefully this will improve her eye!

She came out of anesthesia better than her last two surgeries and other than immediately demanding a snuggle under a warm blanket, she was good! After a fifteen minute snooze I opted to take her home and let the rest of it melt off from the comfort of her house.

Thanks everyone for all the prayers. Our brave girl is currently snoring on my lap in her room.

A Little Everyday Life Stress

There’s been a lot going on the past several weeks, doctors visits, errands, work and a lot of busy toddler time! In addition to our normal “keep the kids entertained and out of trouble” routine, other random things continue to pop up. For example, we are proactively working toward getting the girls passports so we can adventure through Canada at some point- this is pretty standard on years without mind numbing pandemics and we know at some point we will travel out of country to go to Haines or Dawson City on an adventure. The first piece to that adventured apparently meant spending ninety minutes at the local DMV to get the girls identification cards and update our drivers license to the Real ID compliant ones.

Would you like to guess how ninety minutes at the DMV with three toddlers and no strollers went?? Well, I can fill you in on the details…not great. They were running and shrieking around the place enough that the poor photo lady, who we found out later was pretty new, nicely asked us to wait outside of the area. This wouldn’t have been so bad except that the girls badly needed to burn more energy and were running down the halls of the University Center and having a good ‘ole time. It was stressful but we managed to get three photos and by the end of the visit Reagan was helping that same employee take our photos, sitting on the chair behind the computer and telling us to smile.

I’m happy to say that first step is over and can tell you, toddler IDs are so cute. Their non-committal faces are seriously so completely cute!! Hopefully their passports will turn out as well!

Reagan showing off her chipped tooth

Other more stressful life things this month seem to relate with two important parts of ones face – the teeth and the eyes! While my need for more dental work isn’t a super call for stress (since pregnancy really throws a wrench in your face when it comes to healthy teeth) and I find myself needing more cavities drilled and a crown for the first time; that same week we took all three kiddos to their second dental visit. We did this visit one-by-one while the others waited for their turn in the car. By the end, we were told the unfortunate news that Reagan would need to go to a pediatric dentist to have a tooth pulled. Last year she chipped her front tooth in half tripping on the floor in the dining room, and while we didn’t notice the chip until a few hours later, we were still able to find the tooth chunk on the floor later.

The dentist smoothed out the jagged tip the following day and off and on she would complain that it hurt for a month or two; after that she didn’t mention it anymore. We watched for the tooth to change colors and die but it didn’t. The X-ray at this visit showed that the tooth is indeed dead and needs extraction so the root isn’t damaged for her future adult teeth.

Reagan was fantastic for the entire appointment, letting the tech do new X-rays, opening her mouth wide when asked, and asking to see “Mr. Thirsty”, the water tool, and enthusiastically drinking cups of water. By the end of the appointment she was telling Dr. Barnes she loved her and excitedly selected a princess sticker and tiny, stuffed tiger. It is such a relief to take one kiddo to the doctor at a time, no matter what the reason for the visit. The visits involve minor scolding and more conversation and explanation than just trying to survive it!

Her actual procedure is at the end of the month and we are opting for keeping her awake without anesthesia. We know how a toddler reacts to being put under, even for something only ten minutes like Emerie’s ear tubes, and are hoping to avoid that if possible. The doctor notes the Versed will make her woozy (just like Emerie) and be strong enough she likely won’t even remember most of the procedure. It also helps that it’s on an easily accessible tooth and should only take a few minutes to pull. I’m hopeful she is still young enough that this won’t cause her to fear going to the dentist, but I guess we will see!

There’s a bigger issue at play though than being stressed out over a toddler tooth extraction. That bigger stress relates to the fact that we are still a binkie household at nap and bedtime; obviously pulling a tooth means she cannot (or won’t want to) suck on her binkie. Reagan loves them the most of the three and always has; they are very much a source of comfort for her in times of anxiety or pain so this might get really interesting. Throw in two sisters who also like their binkies at night; you have to take them away from all three at once or it’ll be hell to pay.

Emerie had another follow up visit with Dr. Winkle and her eye is again trending more inward again. Because she’s already had several surgeries and the more you cut, the more scar tissue builds up, the recommendation this time is a Botox procedure on the eye muscles. It’s less invasive (resulting in creation of less scar tissue) and often creates a similar result for kiddos whose eyes keep shifting in or out. The procedure will be in June once we schedule it.

The entire way to the doctor Emerie was saying I love Doctor Winkle! in the car. She was shy at first but warmed up pretty quick after a few color and depth tests and was playing with him by the end of the appointment.

Miss Harper

While this is another added stress, hopefully the Botox next month will help with her not wanting to wear her glasses and with her patching. The three to four hour goal each day is still going pretty well, with us allowing it off early for activities like swimming and ice skating so she can see easier and be happier during them. Maybe this will also help with the removal of her glasses, which seems to constantly happen the past few weeks, with her even hiding them in a purse one night and handing them off to sisters upon occasion. The new prescription means new glasses will be ordered in the next size and her old glasses look so small now compared to her!

I am happy to report Harper is hanging in there strong and does NOT need any medical procedures at the moment, thank goodness! She is asking when is her turn to go to the doctor since both sisters had an appointments this week with both parents and no sisters. This week she is also mastering the eyebrow cringing glare though and it’s quite impressive (and adorable much to her dismay). She will request you take a photo when she makes the face and show it to her. Silly attitudy girl!


I am slacking this month on documenting some of the cute activities and conversations we witness throughout the busy days, most likely because I feel there is SO much going on all at once! On the drive home the other day the girls asked us to go by the purple house and then the yellow house! I wasn’t sure what they meant until Craig pointed out that one of the houses on a nearby street was getting painted a brilliant purple and they noticed before we did! The yellow house is the first one on our street. It’s funny to see the latest toddler observations!

They also now ask each other are you serious?! Probably because a few of the outrageous things they’ve done the past week had me beckoning the same sentiment and now they think it’s fun to say. For example, two littles were downstairs giggling away while Craig was outside with number three, Grandma Anne was washing dishes and I was working at my desk upstairs. Upon walking downstairs, a waterlogged bathroom was discovered and the girls were flinging water across the room using their toys and giggling with delight. I might have asked them if they were serious…

Mother’s Day was a relatively quiet day, with Craig taking the girls swimming so my Mom and I could run a couple errands in a kid free environment! Megan and the boys came over after and played with bubbles and outside until nap time. I woke up that morning to raspberry, white chocolate scones (that Harper devoured) and ended the evening eating ponset and lumpia courtesy of our awesome neighbors and a homemade cherry pie from Craig. Gotta love the delectable food for sure! The girls would want you to know they ended the day with flamingo pajamas from Grandma Anne and some Bob’s Burgers.

Otherwise we are busy busy with lots of conversations, outdoor activities and walks, swimming, gardening and everything in between. Bring on summer and let’s get through this next month of stress!