Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy 4th Birthday to my little Superhero!

Can you believe it's been 4 years since that crazy day when Stephen came into this world with one serious bang!?!?!? It's hard to believe it's been that long, yet I can't believe it's only been that long.  Weird, I know; but totally true!  I always say, "this little boy has been through more than what most people will go through in a lifetime," and he's come out of it strong, happy, and smarter than I could have ever imagined he'd be.  His memory is incredible, he's polite, and he catches me off guard saying the funniest things all the time!  Oh, and he gives some pretty awesome kisses too (he'll love that when he's 13)! Yet, he's cautious, anxious, and nervous at times, all of which I think can be attributed to all he's been through in such a short time and continues to go through and the fact he's been raised around mostly adults in a very adult world.  If you'd told me last year on this day that Stephen's anxiety would get better and he would eventually sit in the chair at the lab for blood work all by himself without any tears or having to be held down by three people, I would laughed in your face.  But, it's true!  He amazes me with his bravery all the time.  Going to school is still a challenge and the feeling of being left by Bill and I is still tough for him, but I'm hopeful that will be the mountain we conquer this year.  If we could conquer a 5 hour flight with no tears or tantrums, certainly we can conquer going to school (I hope)!

I wanted again this year on his birthday to show a picture from each of his birthdays to show how much he's changed and grown over the past 4 years.  I will say, when I go back to his first day of life and the subsequent couple of days, the emotions are almost as raw as they were 4 years ago.  It was one hell of a day with twists and turns at every minute and moments filled with utter sadness, while also experiencing such joy.  Kind of like how our lives would go the next 4 years! As I lovingly told Stephen this morning, "you were trouble from the start, kiddo!"

This year we've had a low key birthday celebration.  No party planned, just hanging out and doing something that Stephen would find fun.  So...we got up this morning, opened a few birthday presents and met Nannnie and Poppa for breakfast to have waffles.  And since Stephen has never been on the metro before and loves trains, we took a metro ride; or as he calls it, Emery (Emery is the subway train from Disney's train cartoon show, Chuggington).  We took Emery into Arlington, bought a couple of treats at a deli/cafe, and hopped back on the metro back to Vienna.  It was a short ride, but he LOVED everything about it! I foresee a lot of metro rides in our future!!

Thank you for continuing to share a part in Stephen's journey.  I know part of the reason why Stephen's done so well over the past 4 years is all of the love and support he gets from everyone out there!!!  xo

This was the first time I saw Stephen after he was whisked away from the operating room.  He was about 4 hours old.  I had to beg and plead with the nurses to allow me to go to NICU to see him since I had had a c-section and was supposed to be in bed. 

This was Stephen's 1st  birthday party.  We threw a big party to celebrate his first year since we weren't able to have a baby shower or christening party and he had been hospitalized during almost every single holiday that year. It was fun to finally have a reason to celebrate!

Birthday #3 included a special visit from a our neighborhood fire station. 

Birthday streamers outside his door this morning!

There's Emery!!! She was waiting for us in the station :) 

Stephen rocks the perpetual bed-head like a champ!!   

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Christmas was awesome and it felt SO GOOD to be home and in our own home this year.  And with Stephen being almost 4 this year, it was a lot more fun.  He understands the whole concept of Santa now so of course that it made it exponentially more fun.  Although it was nice that he's still young enough not to question the intricacies of Santa's magic, which I have a feeling won't be as easy next year and I'll have to be much more careful about where I put presents and things like that.

In between hospitalizations, we did have a chance to start a new family tradition; chopping down our own Christmas tree.  We drove out to a great tree farm in Middleburg, VA and stomped around the fields until we found the perfect tree for our little family.  It was actually a perfectly shaped tree; just up on a stilt (as we like to call it).  Plus, it made it nice and easy for Bill to saw the tree down! And we got a gingerbread train completed, albeit with a pretty messed up caboose, the tree and house decorated, and at the last minute, the cookies were made!  Bill also started a really cool tradition of leaving a note from Santa to Stephen net to his cookie plate.  It ended up getting soaked in coffee Christmas morning (shocker!), but I think those notes will mean a lot to Stephen one day.

And I think we got about 90% of the Christmas cards out this year, but in case I missed some friends, and for those of you who I don't know but follow Stephen's story, here's our 2014 Christmas card:

And here's our Christmas morning-in-pj's selfie :)

New Year's was also super low-key this year.  We decided to brave the cold and went out to Mexican at a (fairly) new town center area and Stephen had a great time running around a walk-through Christmas tree they had set-up.  It made for another fun Schwartz-selfie photo op!

But most importantly, Stephen is feeling a lot better!  We've done lab work twice since Christmas and his numbers are all pretty good and his appetite has pretty much made a full recovery and he's been sleeping great.  I'm a little nervous sending him back to school this next week with the flu running rampant, but we also all need to get back into a routine (desperately), so I think we'll just take things day-to-day and week-to-week.  He definitely needs to stay healthy the next 4-5 weeks, because Bill and I have a little vacation planned!!  Bill worked his butt off all year and made President's Club with his company, Wells Fargo, so we'll be heading to Miami for a few days to celebrate at his sales conference in February.  2014 had some super milestones and awesome moments, but also some really low lows, so we're looking forward to celebrating Bill's huge accomplishment and moving forward in 2015 and not looking back!

Although....we do have a big day coming up tomorrow....someone's BIRTHDAY!!!!!  Here's a hint....4 years ago this very minute, I was humongous, tired, and scared out of my mind.  You guessed it...Stephen's birthday!  Tomorrow our little miracle turns 4.  Unbelievable!!