Little Milestones

Our Latest Adventures, Our Patching Stories, Uncategorized

I remember when we were first told Olivia would need to put a patch over her dominant eye in strengthen her Nemo eye, I was horrified. So, as we all do, I took to Instagram to read about how other families deal with patching a baby/toddler and what types of accounts I could locate with some good advice. I came across one of the most popular and respected instagrams that showed an adorable little boy that was a master patcher – and his mom, of course is a saint. She had posted a video of her little patcher opening the patch all by himself to get ready for patch time and I was completely blown away! As our avid readers know, (hi moms 😉 ) when we put Olivia’s patch on in the mornings, it starts with a cute, catchy little song but almost always continues into a meltdown. I couldn’t even begin to imagine a time where Olivia would feel so comfortable with the patch and her eyes would be strong enough, to focus on such a small object, and open it on her own.

Since Olivia only has one eye with strong vision, she has very little to no depth perception. This makes some fine motor skills sometimes hard for her to grasp. So, in theory, using eyes to focus in on a small patch in front of her and having enough visual acuity and fine motor ability to peel apart the patch should be near impossible for this tiny human. But you guessed it…she took after her fellow patching friend and opened the patch all on her own!!

Now, there are both pros and cons to her new discovery. Pros: this shows that her eyes are getting stronger, her fine motor skills are improving and she isn’t afraid of the patches and what they represent! The cons: as many of you know, patches are really expensive! So we have to be super careful about leaving them around because she WILL open them, and stick them to her clothes, the iPad screen, or even the cat! She is starting to put together that every time I see her steal a patch and open it, it ends up on her eye and results in some serious patching hours – so she has slowed down a bit – our little smart cookie.

Since the surgery, our patching time has been significantly cut short so that her eye can properly heal. She has some residual swelling and redness which has required extra goopy ointment that makes her vision even more blurry. But, we are still hitting our 60 minutes a day until we get the all clear to work our way back up to 3 hours! Olivia is starting to become an active participant in everything patch time so you know what we are going to do…just keep patching :).

It’s been a year??

Our Latest Adventures, Uncategorized

January 24th, 2018. The date is burned into my head like the day she was born. We woke up on January 24th like any other day. I remember this morning so vividly because I had just put our 2 month old baby in the CUTEST Gymboree corduroys with a purple polar bear onesie – and yes, it even had a matching headband. I got her to take a nap BY HERSELF which was a huge feat for me 2 months post-pardem. Last minute, my mom had decided to come with me to our first ever optomology appointment. Not for any particular reason. We both knew something was off about Olivia’s eye but we expected them to confirm our suspicions she had a really lazy eye and would need glasses. So my mom was really just coming along to give me a hand with the car seat and watch the baby when I needed to fill out paper work. In pure newborn fashion – and this is the reason I remember that gorgeous outfit so vividly on this exact day – Olivia blew out her diaper right as we were walking out the door. My mom and I tag teamed giving her the quickest wipe down, new diaper, outfit change known to man, and got in the car on our way to a seemingly routine appointment. Little did we know, huh?

We went into the doctors office and I sat in the optomologist chair with such a nieve and giant smile on my face as the doctor looked into Olivia’s eyes. All of a sudden, the mood in the room changed from light and bubbly to heavy and stiff. The doctor took a deep breath and told me that she could see that Olivia had a cataract in her affected eye. I remember thinking to myself…WHAT?! Only people over the age of 80 get cataracts?! She explained to me, using a fancy diagram on the wall, that the cataract was like a film over her eye – that was blocking light from coming in. She explained that Olivia was unable to see through where the eye was blocked. She said the cataract was most likely caused by something called Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous also known as Persistent Fetal Vasculature and that this was extremely rare. The doctor left the room to get whatever pamphlet they had hidden away, covered in dust in the back of a forgotten filing cabiniet because she had never seen a child with this condition in her career.

This is where I thank God my mom had decided to come with me. She is very intuitive and must have known that we would need her on this specific day. My mind went completely black. As the door closed, I broke down into the deepest cry I have ever done. I squeezed my daughter and cried. At some point, my mom came up and took Olivia and I in an embrace I will forever be grateful for because it kept me from falling to the ground. I couldn’t believe what we had thought was a routine appointment had just turned our lives upside down. I called my husband as my mom cradled the baby and told him to get over to the doctors right away. He dropped everything and was there before the doctor returned with the informational packets – he works as a teacher at the school that was conveniently located down the road from this office. When the doctor came back in, she suggested we get a second opinion from one of her colleagues to be sure of the diagnosis. She left us with the next doctor we would be heading to see, a warning that surgery may be necessary and a request for us to come back and tell her how it all goes.

My husband and I hugged our little girl the tightest we ever had before. We thanked God that the little black spot the pediatrician had seen wasn’t cancer and that we finally had answers to why our baby’s eye wouldn’t focus straight on. We were going home with heavy hearts and tear stained faces but a plan moving forward. My mom drove us home and within the hour I had another appointment booked with the cataract specialist – for 2 hours later! My husband pulled into the driveway and jumped into my car to take the hour trek to Stratford. As you know from reading the blog 🙂 the next doctor confirmed that Olivia did indeed have PFV that caused her to develop a cataract in her Nemo eye.

From there, we went home ate so much ice cream (this was pre-dairy allergy), drank some wine and found comfort in each other. Our lives had changed forever. For some reason, the two of us still had hope this was all a nightmare and that when we got to the retina specialist in New York a couple days later, he would say Olivia was all better. We now know that was not what happened, but we found solace in hoping for the best.

Writing about how I felt one year ago has brought back how dark this day was for my family. We had just started our journey as parents and were thrust into a situation that even seasoned parents would be overwhelmed by. Looking back, I am so proud of how we handled this day. For as dark as it was, we never turned our back on each other. We took care of our little girl while also taking care of our marriage. When I started thinking that I caused Olivia to have PFV (as every PFV mom thinks at one point in diagnosis even though its completely ridiculous) my husband was there to remind me that there was no way that could be. When he would crumble and cry at the thought of putting our tiny two month old under anesthesia, I would pick him up and remind him it would be okay. It’s true that you never know how you will react in a crisis until you are dealt one – but ill tell you, I’m proud of who we were, how we dealt with impossible odds and how we lifted each other up.

Despite this dark day, I think about how far we have come. I would NEVER have expected one year ago that Olivia would be thriving the way that she is. I am shocked and impressed every day to see how she is crushing her developmental milestones, patched or not. We have gone through two major eye surgeries, constant three hour trips to New York, three hotel stays, countless hours of patching, multiple different eye drops and too many long nights to count – but we made it out the other side, together. We are only in the beginning of this journey but with these two by my side, and this tribe we have backing us – I know, we will just keep patching.

Pregnant in a Pandemic

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Who can relate? As of today, I am 17 weeks pregnant with our second baby and I couldn’t be more excited. But the excitement I feel is met with a lot of uneasy feelings and anxious thoughts about what’s to come in this current climate.

I found out I was pregnant in January of 2020 and just four months later, we went from planning the Disney trip of a lifetime to figuring out if we can even get to the grocery store. At first I found being super informed eased my anxiety but with so much uncertainty in the media surrounding this ominous virus, information hasn’t done more than make me fearful for what’s to come. This virus is scary enough when it affects you or your family. Its a new type of fear what it affects a small being that only you feel you can protect. You are no longer staying indoors for yourself to stay safe but so you can keep this little baby safe as well. It is an immense sense of pressure that is put on families to stay safe during this crisis.

When information starts to fail me, here is what I remind myself in an attempt to keep my anxiety at bay and this little baby happy:

Try to control only what is under your control – we cant control what is happening outside our windows. We can’t control the rules the hospitals make about visitors. We cant make people stay quarantined or stop bulk buying, but we can control how we treat ourselves. We can create a safe space at home (if you are able to stay home – thank you to all those working to keep us safe!) where we have what we need to feel as calm as possible.

Give yourself grace – allow yourself to feel nervous, anxious and excited. It’s okay to be excited about your new baby in such uneasy times! It’s okay to be terrified of what state the world will be in when you deliver. And, its okay to eat 2 cupcakes in one sitting while you binge watch The Tiger King (have you watched this show yet?!).

Remember, that you are doing all you can for your family and this baby – Whether that means staying home in quarantine or as an essential employee; you are doing the best that you can and that is all that matters. Remember that when this all passes, this will feel like only one (brutally long) chapter in your story.

Talk about how you’re feeling – talk to your husband or wife. Talk to your friends. Talk to your parents. Or even just talk to you in a journal or to the mirror. Let out the feelings of frustration, of anger or fear. Sometimes it may feel like the Corona virus is over shadowing this monumental time in your life and that is so frustrating! Maybe talking out how you feel will alleviate some of that pressure or at least it will bring others onto your raft, so you don’t feel so alone.

Being pregnant is exciting and stressful already! Add into the mix a global pandemic and yikes, it can get a bit overwhelming. I have been kept up at night with the uncertainty of whether or not I will be allowed to bring my husband in with my to give birth to this baby and the idea of missing out on that first look, when Olivia meets the baby in the hospital. I just keep reminding myself to only worry about what I can control, and that everything else will fall into place. The nurses will be there to comfort and care for us and the new baby and remember mommas – we are all stronger than we ever give ourselves credit for. Im trying to implement these ideas of giving myself grace and room to feel sad, of eating that second cupcake and taking out how I feel.

We will get through this, supporting each other. Talking about how we are feeling. Finding support in others. Please, message me and talk to me about how you’re feeling. I am going through the same thing. We got this.

To My Students…

An Educators Perspective, Our Latest Adventures

To my students…

Today we begin another chapter. Unlike how this normally sounds, we are not going to be reading an article or information in a book. Together, you and I, and the rest of your peers, get to begin a new chapter in this history of education. Unlike how we normally begin our exploration of a historical event, we are not going to read this chapter. And, I know that it is one of your favorite activities, so together, we are going to write this chapter. 

I am excited for this new chapter. 

It is going to challenge me to find new ways to engage you and make you think about the world and how you fit into it. It is going to challenge you take ownership for your learning. We are going to explore technology much more deeply, as it is going to be the way in which we communicate and which you communicate with one another. I know that for all of you, you connect regularly through text messages and social media apps, but for me, this is all new in how I will connect with you. This is a new way in which I can begin to relate to each of you, and a challenge I am ready to tackle. 

I am also nervous. 

First, I am not there to help you. I can not see that questionable look on your face when you are unsure about the information or skill we are working with. I can not approach you to ask a question or give you a hint. With this new way of learning, are you going to reach out to me? Are you going to feel comfortable sending me an email? Are you going to even know what you need for help? Please reach out to me, as I am here, waiting, to help in any way I can.

Second, I am afraid I am going to be unsuccessful in helping you learn. We spend time together during lunch and after school reviewing content, answering questions, and expanding our view of how we fit into this world. Are my lessons going to be challenging enough? Are they going to be too challenging? These first two weeks are going to be a lot of trial and error. I hope that you work with me to find the right balance for how to learn this way.

Third, I am concerned about you. Are you ok? Are you sticking to a schedule and routine? Are you eating and sleeping enough? Do you have a space that you can focus? Are you able to connect with others? We all spend a lot of time together in school. In the work week, I spend more time with you than I do with my own family. I care about you, and if there is anything you need, I’m still here. 

We have spent the past six months together. I know that we can do this. You have demonstrated an unlimited potential for learning, and a resilience that I am envious of. I am ready to rise to this challenge and meet you at the end. I know that once this chapter has been written by us and closes, we will both look back together and be proud of the growth we have made and the learning that has taken place. 

Sincerely,

Your Teacher

The Night Before…

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March 19, 2020

For the last eight years I have taught seventh grade social studies. I love what I teach. I have always been fascinated with exploring people and events of the past, the decisions that people make when faced with challenges, and the consequences of their actions. Today I find myself on the precipice of history itself. Today, instead of reading about history, I get to live and create history.

COVID-19 is all you hear about on the news. The anchors talk about the effect on the stock exchange, the decisions that local, state, and the federal government are making, and the increasing number of people that are sick and dying. You hear about the loss of jobs, the effect it is having on the elderly, the irresponsible college kids who are still out on spring break spreading this virus to those that are more at risk. 

For a short while you heard on the news about the schools that were closing. On March 15th, Connecticut Governor, Ned Lamont, ordered the closing of all public schools until March 31st. As of today, it does not look like schools will be opening on the projected date. In the instance that this is the case, and students are forced to stay home for a longer stretche of time, my school has decided to begin the implementation of Distance Learning. Tomorrow will start a fundamental, groundbreaking, and revolutionary evolution of how educators examine the role of technology in the instruction of our students. This shift in educating our youth will also undoubtably impact the way our students and children learn, communicate, and absorb information, regardless of how long this Distance Learning happens for.

I am anxious. As an educator, we fall into a rhythm from year to year, mastering our content and refining and improving the way in which we get our students to engage with the information, as well as refine their skills related to our content disciplines. This new directive for teaching sends us all back to the white board. We need to examine the instruction of our past and adapt it for the technology of now. 

I am also very excited. My classroom is already a digital classroom. I do not pass out papers to students, rather, I share the documents with them in Google Classroom; an online digital education platform. This change though, is not very drastic. While there is no physical paper, the digital document and activities are designed with the same concepts in mind, a place for note taking, a place for answering questions, and a place for reading information. Students in my classroom flip their chrome books around to show their work to their peers or to share information. Really, nothing different than a piece of paper, except with the access to the computer and the internet, students have the world of knowledge at their finger tips. This new learning we are about to embark on, surpasses the digital bounds of how I even viewed learning in the classroom.

Tomorrow, the faculty at my school will gather online in Google Meet, to begin our conversation about what this digital learning can look like. I purposefully used the word ‘can’ instead of ‘should’, or ‘will’, because we are embarking into uncharted territory. The ideas that are created over the next unknown period of time have no ceiling, and allow us as educators to embody the creativity that we hope for and demand from our students.  

I have so many hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties, related to this endeavor. Many of you who have read this far probably have children of your own who are about to engage in some form of digital learning themselves. I am going to be honest, this is going to be a struggle at first. It is going to be hard to manage a schedule, to split time between your work and keeping your child focused. But we are in this together, you, your child, and us educators. We will learn from each other, and while I will never get to meet you personally, I hope that if you choose to follow this, it gives you some insight into an educators perspective.