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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pre-Op Day

Post-bath cuteness
Well, it's less than 24 hours until D-Day and somehow we have avoided talking about surgery up until this point. We've had so many fun times with the holidays, Armenian reunions and then the arrival of Mimi and GongGong. So it just seemed like such a downer to bring it up. However, since we have great pictures of me from my pre-op check up, I just have to blog about it now. Plus I have a poll! 

Ok, here's the deal: I have what is called AV canal defect. My heart does not have four proper chambers and there is basically a gaping hole in the middle allowing my blood to mix. It is impossible to live with this over the long term, and the only way it can be fixed is through open heart surgery (OHS). Yipee! I'll get to add a new "first" to my eight-month old list of accomplishments! Not everyone gets to have OHS!

The operation will take between 4 to 6 hours. The nice surgeon I met will build the walls using a portion of the sac holding my heart. Then afterwards, I will probably be in the ICU for 2 days and then in the regular hospital ward for up to 7 or 8 days (10 total) with mommy and abba and my grandparents at various intervals keeping me entertained. 

There is a chance that they will have to operate again in the future if they don't fix it all the first time. Once is enough for me, so I hope it all gets done correctly now!

So if you would be so kind as to pray for these items and whatever comes to your mind:

1. That the nice, smart surgeon and the entire surgical staff and anesthesiologist all do a perfect job and that God guide their hands
2. That this will be the only operation I need - that they do it all right the first time
3. That I will quickly recover and won't be traumatized by this experience
4. That there are no complications or surprises during the surgery

Thank you!

So my hospital visit was replete with, as usual, flirtations with nurses and lots of games! One very exciting game was the scale game. Once naked and on the scale, I flailed about while the nurse tried to get an accurate reading of my weight. I slammed down my legs and flipped from side to side while the numbers flew up and down. Eventually she just settled on a weight and I returned to my antics on the bed instead.

Then there was the EKG game - very fun! The nurses put stickers on my feet and then clamped some wires onto the stickers. And I pulled them off. They put them back on. I pulled them off again. Fun! We went back and forth like that for awhile until the nurses asked mommy and abba to help pin me down. In the end, three adults held one little me still while the other nurse tried to get an accurate EKG reading.

Stick and Rip - a new fun game!

The nurses tried hard to get these stickers to stay

But I pulled the wires every time. It was too fun to resist!

We head back to the hospital early tomorrow morning and I have already heard my parents conspiring about how to get me there still asleep. I am supposed to fast lattes for a couple of hours and no one is really enthusiastic about that. I tend to scream when I want one, striking fear into the heart of any adult. 

I'm sure I will be blogging despite the anesthesia and grogginess so check back here. In the meantime, here is a poll: How long will I be napping under anesthesia? As it is, I am averse to napping. WIll I valiantly fight the drugs and return to consciousness like a speeding bullet? Or will I make up for lost time and sleep like never before? Or will I just be normal for once? So many options. What do you think?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sweet Reunion

Well, it's official: I've taken over the house. More on that later.

GongGong and Mimi have been here for just over 24 hours and we have been making up for lost time ever since. I made a special trip to the airport to greet them because, why waste even a precious second? We even did something very Israeli: We sat at the airport and drank coffee as they reacquainted themselves with my cheeks.

Then we headed home, the two of them flanking me in the back seat of the car. I fiercely battled sleep in order to keep my eyes on them. Over dinner, I impressed my Italian grandparents by eating a half a jar of American baby food. I actually guzzled it down. There was no time for photos.

Now back to the apartment. Those 2.5 suitcases meant for me was actually at least 3 full suitcases spread over the 6 pieces of luggage. Thanks to everyone who sent stuff! Lucky for me I don't walk yet because if I did, I'd have to be like the adults who have to leap hurdles to get around this place. It is going to be rather difficult to assimilate everything into its place.

At the airport

The paparazzi started in immediately

A nice walk on a pleasant Jerusalem evening

Hugs were no in short supply

Stuff, 99 percent of it mine, arranged on the counter.
This was one quarter of all the "stuff" that made it over here.

One of the very cool toys that crossed the Atlantic

Making up for lost time

Books, puzzles, and an explosion of "stuff" everywhere

Even a booster seat made it in the luggage

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prepare the Way!

Easter Me at the Armenian Convent

Just because the holidays are over doesn't mean the excitement is. Very soon, my computerized, Skype-generated New York grandparents, Mimi and GongGong, will emerge from mommy's laptop and materialize in real life right here!

I, as a grand baby, and recipient of 75 percent of their luggage content, will be on hand to welcome them into the country. They have both vowed to suction their lips onto my cheeks and not remove them for approximately three weeks. I don't know how we are going to fit into the crib together, but I'll let them figure that out.

We will surely have an unpacking frenzy tomorrow night and I'll be so excited that sleeping won't be an option. But in the meantime, before we irrevocably switch gears, allow me to wrap up our Easter/Passover extravaganza with some last photos. In my previous post, I alluded to Easter being the annual Jerusalem Armenian reunion. Well...

The centerpiece :)

...I, in all modesty, was the equivalent of the main course at this week of reunion-like gatherings. On Sunday I became the literal centerpiece, when after a day of being stroller-ized, mommy set me on the table for a little stretch. That immediately turned into tummy time. Then, for added fun, Skype time with Aunt Beanie and Cugina Cristina! Thankfully Armenians compete with Italians in their deafening loudness, so no one seemed to mind us yelling across the table.

That day, we had a nice Easter lunch with Dede and Nene (my Jerusalem grandparents) at the only restaurant in West Jerusalem not kosher and/or closed for Passover (whew). And then we headed to the Armenian convent for one last processional to wrap up our week of holiday fun. 

Easter dinner with Nene

Easter processional in the Armenian convent

He had a particularly nice Easter bonnet

Armenian Easter time in the convent with Dede

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Celebrating Life, Remembering Death

Note the Armenian flag in the background.

Today is my first Easter. Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua! Shad Darinerou! 

In a weird twist of the calendar, the same day I say Happy Easter to everyone, I also, as a good Armenian, must urge: Don't forget the Armenian Genocide.

Today is April 24. This year it happens to be Easter Sunday. But every year April 24 is the day we remember the Armenian Genocide and call upon the world to recognize it. More on that in a future post.

Actually there's lots about being Armenian that I've already learned in my eight months, so let's review:

1. All Armenians are proud to be Armenian. And that entails a few significant details:
a. We were the first Christian nation declared such in 301 AD, and thus when we say Shad Darinerou, we have real street cred!
b. We have a secret language, called Armenian. Okay its not a secret, but I guarantee, you know nary a word of it, only Armenians do.

2. We live in communities. For better or for worse. For example, the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem has been occupied by Armenians since the 300s and some of the original families are still here! We have our own school, church, library and convent, which is a place where only Armenians can live. Wherever you find Armenians, you find A LOT of Armenians together. For example, LA in California stands for Little Armenia.

3. I never have to go to Armenia to be able to speak, eat, breathe Armenian. The first language here in this small sliver of this tiny corner of the world is Armenian, not Hebrew, Arabic or English despite the fact that there are only 1,000 of us here. Our Armenian-ness supersedes nationality and passpo.

4. I'm a baby and I already know what genocide means! Leave it to the Armenians.

P.S. I'm only one quarter Armenian and that = 100 percent in Armenian math. Don't worry, Italian relatives: half also equals 100 percent and my dueling taste buds remain undecided!

Here is a series of photos that further celebrates all things Armenian, namely living in community and spending all of our time in the same/only restaurant where we all hang out. Also, this being Easter, it is our unofficial annual reunion! Well, my first.

Meeting Steve for the first time!

Hanging out at Naro's with Steve and Katia!

More Naro's action. Hi Anjo!

The gang. Why are they all looking at the wrong camera?

Nice try Ohan. That is not Blue Steel!

You know you are in an Armenian house when your fridge is covered with Armenian magnets!

My future babysitters, Tantigs (aunts) Nairy and Shoghig.

She loves me!

A cool Armenian.

An Armenian Easter procession

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Take Your Baby to Work Days

I know adventure awaits me as soon as I am seated in my stroller!
Since mommy works from home, every day is "bring-your-child-to-work" day in one form or another. I watch mommy try to make calls, conduct interviews and write coherently as she also runs rings around me, meeting all of my various needs and demands. One time she even had me draped over her shoulder, bouncing me to keep me quiet, Lucie sprawled across her lap and her laptop balanced precariously on her knees while she typed with one finger and held the phone to her ear with her shoulder as she interviewed someone for a story. I have certainly stretched mommy's multi-tasking skills to some all-time lengths in the last eight months.

However, there are some days when her work takes her out of the apartment and to some place exciting, like Mordor (the Old City)! And this being Holy Week, mommy has been out of the house a lot, scouring the Old City for holiday articles and photos. It all started with Palm Sunday, but we missed the palm carriers - oops! Then there was Passover right in the middle, then of course Holy Thursday and Good Friday so far. Lots of time spent chasing pilgrims in the Old City.

How exciting for me! I've been brought deeper into the bowels of the Old City than ever before - even into the Holy Sepulchre!

You could assume I was praying.

...But you'd be wrong.

Of course there are perks to going to work with mommy. It always involves an amazing gastronomical experience for all of us. The gourmet meal du jour yesterday was the best hummus in the Old City: Abu Kamel. They also serve "cheps," whatever that is, as you will see on their sign. And of course, in typical Old City fashion, you eat at rickety tables sitting on plastic chairs in the alleyways. No fine indoor dining here. 

They serve hummus AND cheps!

A delicious but messy affair.

Dining al fresco.
Sometimes bring your baby to work day involves also bringing Abba to work too. Its fun for the entire family! 

Abba strolling me through
the Jewish Quarter toward the Christian Quarter.

Slightly skeptical.

Police patrolling the busy Old City alleys

Me on the Via Dolorosa

Me at the magical chocolate store on the Via Dolorosa

And finally, a trip to the Old City is never complete without a visit with Dede and Nene, the Armenian words for Grandma and Grandpa. 

A historic moment: Dede holding me, fearlessly, for the first time!

Our work day ended thanks to a deluge of Noah-like proportions.
We ran to the car for safety and headed home!