Okay, the new blog is officially up and running. Brief explanation on the newest post. Follow/blogroll me over there!


half-birthday boy

It's 2009 and HELLO, why hasn't someone invented a pause button for life yet?! Today is Grayson's half-birthday. I had planned to write a big fanfare-type post in honor of this special checkpoint in G's life but, as it turns out, I do NOT want to talk about it. But I'll try for just a few minutes...

The good news and the bad news: our little bean is growing up, no doubt. Getting bigger, cuter and more independent every day. Every time I think I couldn't possibly love him any more than I do in that moment, my heart stretches and makes a little more room. (By the way, this is the weirdest thing about motherhood so far. My heart grows and pulls and threatens to burst and just when I think it will, it stretches out to make a little more room for all the love and other silly emotions it still has yet to hold. Cheesy, no?)

Time is flying and I am clinging to his teensy tootsies for dear life. I don't want to accept that he is alrady six months old but, if I had to I would certainly do it with a picture of his bitty baby booty.

P.S. -- Since I have been using this blog a lot for more personal/non-"littlehebertfam" related posts, I am in the process of exporting ALL of these posts and will continue to post new ones on a new "personal" blog... http://chailoveyou.blogspot.com (in honor of my favorite beverage, of course). I'll explain the whole thing over there, if I remember. Blogroll me!


in the blink of an eye

Tomorrow, my little bean will be six months old. Knowing this makes me feel ridiculously joyful, sad, grateful and wholly blessed in every way. I am on an emotional, nostalgic rollercoaster. It happened, quite literally, in the blink of an eye. One minute I'm seven months pregnant, the next I'm mama to the cutest baby I ever did see and the next after that my little boy is six months old. My little family is a bazillion times more than I should ever ask for. Somebody pinch me.

And, a funny side... all of these changes have actually physically manifested themselves in my eyesight. Pregnancy changed my eyes like... three different times. By the end, I could barely see a street sign across the room. Now, six months later, my far-away sight is actually better than it was this time last year. Which is good because if I'm getting new glasses, there better be a new prescription to make it worth the cost. Last time I got metal frames but metal was not working out with G (you know, since my accessorized life pretty much revolves around the six month old babe I mentioned earlier)... I kept poking him in the face with the edges when I went to kiss him and the joint pinched his delicious little fingers. And plastic just suits me so much more. So back to plastic I go. Goodbye headaches, hello clarity and cuteness. The frames are beautiful, if I do say so myself. Sneak peek:

(Those are lasered polka dots, not rhinestones... although that would be pretty fab. They also come in a spicy red if you're feeling sassy.)

graybaybay productions

I finally gave in and started a YouTube account/channel for our growing collection of videos. Here are three new videos of our not-so-little-anymore babe for your amusement. Or you can click here to view, subscribe and rate the channel.

Gray's becoming an expert on the bottle-to-mouth skill. He's gotta look after that figure, after all.

He can already multitask and exercise while he eats!

No point to this one... just a happy baby.

Can you believe he will be SIX MONTHS OLD tomorrow?! I'm already having a panic attack.



While organizing my iPhoto library today I uncovered this little gem.

Mostly, I enjoyed being pregnant but there aren't many things I miss about it. But the 7-month belly is one of the few. Sigh.


In other news, we went to the vascular surgeon who grafted my carotid artery (yikes, sounds pretty bad when I type it out). Turns out, whoever scheduled that appointment schedule it, um, A MONTH TOO EARLY. So, we got my parents to watch G and trekked to Atlanta for pretty much nothing. Except to hear that I should probably be wearing one of those awesome stockings that helps your leg circulate. I know they're seriously hideous but my leg is having some serious circulation problems when I'm on my feet for more than a few minutes. But my leg should somehow, in the next few months, figure out a new way to get the blood back up to my heart. Anyway, I have to go back at the end of the month, when I meet with my head and neck surgeon, for an ultrasound of the area to make sure the artery/vein graft looks good. I will continue to go back every six months for a while and then eventually once a year. But unless/until the time comes for it to be replaced I will always have to get it checked out to make sure it still looks good and that it's not leaking.

My tongue is getting better. It's still pretty difficult to articulate well and I still have to chew most of my food on the right side of my mouth but the fact that it's improving at all is a good sign.

And, as you can see on my last post, I've been getting to hold G in my lap a little bit. I still can't actually lift him and carry him around because of the strain it puts on my neck which is not good for the graft (the vascular surgeon really seems to want me to wait until I go for that check-up) but holding him in my lap while he was still enough made my heart leap to the moon and back.


if you thought my nerd alert couldn't sound any louder...

I like to blog. I love to read. And now I am about to blog about reading.

My favorite thing so far about summer? (Other than squeezing the cuteness out of Graybaybay.) Reading. Because of stress and burnout during the school year, I think I may have read one book total from August to May (Maybe.) which was a big change from last summer, reading about a book per week, even with last-minute wedding plans. (Speaking of which, ohmygosh, I can't believe we have been married for almost a year. And together/dating for almost seven. Crazytown.) This summer I was a little slow to get back into reading but once G started taking these insanely long afternoon naps I realized I had a lot of time on my hands to either A) clean bottles or B) read.

A few weeks ago I started light with Twilight. (I saw the movie first and won't even pretend that I didn't love it.) Twilight was okay. I mean I liked it and wanted to read the sequel but I wasn't obsessed. Until I saw the "New Moon" movie preview on the MTV Movie Awards (why were we watching that?). Definitely didn't see the wolfpack coming. So I get all jazzed about it and immediately start reading New Moon. Flew through that one in about two days of naptime. Devoured Eclipse pretty quickly, too, but did my best to stretch out Breaking Dawn. It was like craving ChickfilA Ice Dreams when I was pregnant -- I just couldn't help myself. I'm not sure what it is that draws people in to this saga. At first, I was a little put off with the love story because it seemed to be too "perfect" and quick to grow but really, it's like this impossible love between these people that they can't push away, their physical pull is just too much to keep them away I guess?? Edward... love him but I hate that girls/women love him for his "perfection." Totally not perfect at all. He's such a tortured soul that it's actually annoying at some points.

Anyway... all that to say I'm finally getting back into my reading groove and I love it. This week on Momversation, some of the panelists were talking about their favorite books and books that changed their lives. Here are some of mine:

1. My first favorite novel was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. In sixth grade, we had to read for a book program and you could receive a maximum amount of points per book if you took the quiz for it on the computer. I chose this one because it was worth 27 points, which would more than fulfill the rest of my reading point requirements for the term. But what I got was a great story, great writing and the first book that I really actually loved.

2. If anyone ever asks me for a book recommendation, I almost always ask first if they have read The Kite Runner. There isn't much I can say to do this book justice, you just have to read it for yourself. It is a potential life-changer. His writing is amazing, the story is simultaneously heart-wrenching and hopeful.

3. And, of course, the series that changed the way I look at reading forever... Harry Potter. This series is sort of my baseline for good reading material. I was actually really sad when I finished the last book. I am always looking for a series to fill the void which brings me to...

4. His Dark Materials trilogy. I am a Christian and I still LOVED this series. (There was all of that ridiculous controversy over his atheist views when The Golden Compass movie came out. I have an opinion on that but I'll keep it to myself.) The Subtle Knife might be one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. If you love Harry Potter, you will at least like this series, it's great!

What are your favorites? Anything I should add to my book pile?

(One of my favorite things about reading again? Goodreads. If you're on it, find me! If you're not on goodreads yet, do it and let's talk books!)


do i get street cred for this?

I got a request to see the slasher incision-will-be-scar. Didn't think of this as blog material before but really, I guess I would be interested in seeing the scar if I'd been keeping up with this whole "surgery" scam on my blog for so long. (I did a little investigating and discovered that "carotid body tumor" is actually code for "demons" and "surgery" adds up to "beat those demons out with a steel baseball bat... no wait, make that a pair of steel Paris Hilton-like stilettos."). For those with weak stomachs, I will give you some scroll time to find your way to the exit.

See? The hospital wasn't all bad, they gave us a room with a view. A nice view, even. :)

Another view.

Okay, are you ready?

About 24 hours after surgery.

This afternoon. Lookin' pretty tame in this photo. Unfortunately, the bite is much, much worse than the bark.

The incision on my leg is about six inches long. Gag. This has actually been the worst of my pain today. They had to go pretty deep to get to the femoral vein so I'm expecting to really feel this one for a while.

So, do you think I'll get some street cred with my students for this?

Oh, and if I haven't ever mentioned this before, my parents are ah-mazing. They brought us a recliner for me to inhabit for the next couple of weeks. Sleeping last night was a pain, even with the million pillows we spent 30 minutes strategically placing behind my back, neck and head. I was seriously missing that hospital bed last night. So, leave it to my parents to just up and bring us a brand new recliner. Hoping for a more peacful, less stiff night's rest. Best. Parents. Ever.

And don't even get me started on Paul's mom, she has been a Godsend with Grayson. He had his first fever the day I was in surgery and she took him to the pediatrician. (Just teething, thank goodness.) I think tonight is the last night he will spend over there and he will be here tomorrow night. Paul's mom brought him over yesterday for a few hours and Emma brought him today -- it's pretty tough to watch him be all cute and cuddly and not even be able to hold him. I would have been able to hold him (on my lap, but absolutely no lifting) but because of my leg I can't for a couple of weeks. And because of my tongue/speech thing I can't even talk to him normally. So. Frustrating. Hopefully today was the worst of it and I'll be on a steady uphill climb soon. My first short-term checkpoint? Regular showers.


We're home. :) Actually, we got here yesterday but it was just one big blur of pain, sleep and trying to eat. Hospitals are definitely not conducive to rest and healing like you'd expect them to be but I will give them kudos for pain management. Pain management at home is not so easy. On the way home, we dropped off my prescription, Paul brought me here and then went back to pick it up because my dose from the hospital was pretty much out. It probably only took him 15 minutes to get there and back but it felt like five hours and once I took it, it took about an hour for it to do any good at all. A problem with pain meds at home: nausea. Because of this crazy frustrating tongue/speech problem I'm having, it's been hard to eat much. So, basically we've been crushing up the pain pills in some apple juice (hard to swallow the pills alone) and sometimes I take a benadryl shortly after that. Today's been better though. I successfully ate a few spoonfuls of oatmeal for breakfast and I just finished a full serving of applesauce and some chicken. It's easier with the little "techniques" the speech language pathologist gave me.

The tongue/speech thing feels a little better today. I've been able to eat and swallow a little better but talking is a lot harder (mostly because of my voice though) which is just really frustrating. Since it is a little bit better today, I'm hopeful that the nerve wasn't actually clipped and that it's "healing" from being stretched out. Time will tell, I guess.

I don't think I mentioned any of the details yesterday... when I was in recovery, here are some of the things the nurses were saying, either to each other or to me: "... tachycardia... yep, it's a little 'tachy'," "honey, they had to cut off the blood supply to your brain," "...attached to the carotid... got a piece from your leg..." That's really all I remember, other than my leg hurting and my right hand hurting from the new (and humongous, by the way) IV they put in while I was asleep. Apparently this was the first time my surgeon had ever seen this happen with this kind of tumor (fused with the wall of the artery, I mean) so it's "interesting."

I go back on the 8th to the vascular surgeon so (I think) they can do an ultrasound of the area and make sure the vessels are healing properly. And then I'll go back to my surgeon at the end of the month for a general check-in.

Haven't really felt like being on the computer much so posting will probably be down unless that changes. Maybe I'll finish answering some of those questions from you guys (you can still ask if you think of a new one).

Until then, I see a lot of reading and Netflix in my future.


my fair lady

Well, I'm sitting in a room-with-a-view at Emory right now, waiting to be discharged. Originally, we thought we would be staying at least until tomorrow, maybe even Saturday. But my surgeon is very "aggressive" with getting people out of the hospital because "healthy people get sick in hospitals." And even though I'm still in some pain and feel like total crapola, I cannot wait to be in my own home. Here's a rundown of the last few days' events...

Tuesday morning we checked in again at 5:30am. Got called back for pre-op and then waited... and waited..... and waited until they finally called me down for my angiogram embolization. Got a little Versed before I went down but as soon as we got to the OR I did not feel relaxed or "dissociated" from the situation at all. But I didn't want to go under anesthesia because of the risk and also because I really kinda wanted to watch on the screen if I could. So I stayed awake, the worst part was numbing my groin (that's where they went in) and it was really just like pressure. I could see the monitor most of the time. Pretty cool stuff. Long story short: there was nothing to embolize. All of the arteries were really just to small (this was a good thing, really). So that was that.

Stayed here Tuesday night, talked to my surgeon about things like the vascular surgeon that would be on standby if they might need to graft my carotid..... you know, just in case. Got taken down to pre-op at about 7am, gave me something to "take the edge off" and that is all I remember. Woke up in recovery with a shooting pain in my leg and a pretty sore throat. Let me just say, I've never been more grateful for the "just in case" scenario. Again, I'll make the long story short: the tumor was pretty "stuck" to the wall of my External Carotid Artery (goes to the face) but came off pretty easily from the Internal (supplies blood to the brain so this is pretty darn good). But... in order to get the tumor out, they had to basically cut out a chunk of my ECA and part of the split with the ICA. They tied off the ECA (this is not something I will ever notice) and then took part of the femoral vein in my left thigh to piece between the common carotid and internal common carotid. (You know, blood supply to the brain is pretty important.) So... yea. The surgery took about five hours with all of that crazyness.

But the most frustrating part of this whole thing for me right now is that I have lost some function in my tongue. It's a possibility that the nerve got clipped in the process when the vascular surgeon was doing his thing but most likely it is just taking some time to recover from being stretched out. This makes it really hard to talk normally and even swallow water and eat food. I can do it but it just takes a lot of effort. And then add to that the scratchyness from the tube that kept me breathing and... it's not a pretty picture for my throat right now, inside or out. SO... my surgeon paired me up with a Speech Language Pathologist to help me work on some exercises for speaking and swallowing and then to also kind of prescribe a diet that will be easy for me to work with. She wants me to work on overarticulating and I couldn't help but sympathize with Eliza Doolittle.

I'm certainly not the picture of a fair lady right now but I am SO GLAD to go home.