Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy birthday Daddy!

Today was daddy's birthday and boy did we have fun.

First, we made daddy a very special birthday card!

I had a lot of fun coloring my card for daddy. He was very surprised! I even let Aidan sign his name to my card, because I'm such a good big sister!

Then, it was time to make daddy's birthday cake. Grandma and grandpa made me a learning tower for Christmas and mommy finally let me use it!

I had just gotten up from my nap so I wasn't very happy yet. I wake up slowly, like my mommy and daddy.

I got to help mommy pour:

And mix:

Brother Aidan got in the action and watched from his special play mat.

Of course mommy and daddy had to teach me all the bad cook habits and we licked the beaters and bowl clean. Yummmmmmy!

And then, we cleaned!

Now it's time for daddy's birthday dinner and then, we eat CAKE!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

8 years later

8 years ago today, we were preparing to start a new journey.

We didn't know where it would take us. We didn't know what was in store for us, we just knew we wanted to meet it all together.

We are a product of internet dating. Yup, you probably didn't know that did you? We agreed to meet for a first date at Lent services at my church ( place, we both were to drive separately, etc.) But the day before that first "date" I came down with what turned out to be a serious muscle spasm in my back. My dad insisted on taking me to the ER after a friend found me curled up in a ball in a room at church bawling my eyes out my back was hurting so badly. I was determined to make it on my date the next day though, so I didn't take the pain medication prescribed to me and ventured into work that morning. Bad idea. My boss called my parents when I was doubled over my desk in so much pain and home I went. And decided first impressions are never good when you are drugged on pain medications and muscle relaxers. So I called Andrew to reschedule, but told him he could still go to church and the dinner if he wanted. Told him who to ask for as my parents would be there and gave my parents instructions to watch out for him. To my surprise, he actually showed. And then began the next stage in my life.

(side note on the ER visit. Andrew, to this day, teases me that I just wanted to get out of the date because I was scared to meet him lol. There really was an ER visit...I have the bills to prove it.)

Married that same year, we forged ahead with making our new life together. It hasn't been without it's up and downs. Graduate school, infertility and pregnancy loss, job loss, job changes, death of family members, the unexpected, out of town and premature delivery of our first.








How life has changed over the last years. We've doubled the size of our family and seen many things through out the journey. We look forward to many more years.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

There is something about December

I'm not sure what it is, but there just is something about December for me. If it's the wonder of Christmas, and all that it entails. The celebration of the birth of Christ, the wonderful family memories that are always built around this time. The gathering of families, kids running around and playing. Celebration. A chill in the air. If I'm lucky, snow. I can just hear in my head "Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful!"

Everything seems to happen in December for me. My wedding, my daughter being released from the hospital and both of us finally returning home after 10 long weeks. The birth of my son (which it's cliche but does really add meaning to this season) and my husbands birthday.

I love December. I always have. The close of one year and the anticipation of the new.

This year was rather laid back, however. And it was nice to just take things easy. Elisa and Aidan both were spoiled. So was I for that matter. Spoiled with carbs. :)

Next year, I want to make a bigger deal out of things. Elisa will be three and should really understand the excitement.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Confessions of a sort of first time mom

I did not go into this with my eyes closed.

I knew it'd be hard.

I knew it'd have it's challenges.

But I must confess, I did not expect it to show me my limitations.

Balancing a newborn, with it being my first born and even one that needed a little bit more care than your typical newborns, with life, was a piece of cake.

Balancing a two year old, a newborn, a family, outside activities, household, Christmas and all while sleep deprived and feeling too guilty to sleep during the day has led me to the wall.

That proverbial wall that says ok. I'm done.

Not literally. I am tired. I'm in pain, tons. Post partum has been hell this time. Between a knot of sutures causing me pain when I breathe, bells palsy making me feel like some sort of circus freak, a child who literally once he smells me insists on food. A two year old who is refusing to nap, and who's boundless energy makes me want to cry.

And now? Being told my youngest is not gaining FAST enough.

Seriously? I thought I left these "weight" issues behind. Weight checks? Pumping?

Do not, and I repeat do NOT get onto a preemie momma about her full term child's weight gain. You will get an unexpected result.

He's gaining. He's fine. I refuse to get caught up in the whole numbers game again. Find another momma to play that game with.

By the way, he put on 5 oz. it was the "minimum" they want to see with the goal of being back to birth weight at two weeks. He's two ounces off.

Get over it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Italy vs. Holland

As promised in my earlier blog, here is the poem regarding Italy and Holland.

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

* * *

©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley

Now, I've seen both. Holland was and still is a beauty of its own and I look forward to seeing what else Holland will show to me as the years go forward. Italy, is also beautiful. Can I choose one over the other? Moving forward, sure. But, I just can't regret having seen Holland.

My first time holding Elisa at one day old.

The first time holding Aidan, maybe an hour old.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One week later

Well, really, a bit more than that but who is counting?

I'm still sitting in very much a state of shock. It's weird. I knew a baby was coming. And yet, I look at him and think, he's really here. And not only is he really here but he's a HE. There was always a 50% chance he would be but deep down I think I expected another girl. I keep slipping and referring to him as her sometimes. Good thing he's still too small to know the difference!

There is a common "phrase" among preemie parents. It has to do with this poem (that I'll have to post for you at some point.) that basically tells the story of someone setting out on a trip to Italy, but find themselves in Holland. "Italy" to preemie parents is that elusive term birth with the take home baby. Holland is the preemie birth.

So here I am in Italy. And, truly, it's with very mixed feelings. I feel so lost. This is my second child. I should be a "pro" at this right? And not only is this my second child but I got a crash course in childhood development thanks to Elisa. You would think I'd be well equipped to handle a newborn again.

But it dawns on me almost everyday. I've never HAD a newborn before. Elisa was always somewhere in between. I was handed this 6 week old infant who had a well formed eat, sleep, wake schedule. Who had already lost her umbilical cord. Who had been trained to eat in a certain "way.". And burped. I had been trained in the most efficient way to change a diaper.

So here I am, thrust this infant that not only doesn't require all the special "ways" of doing things but is also a BOY. And I don't know what to do with boys. Changing his diaper is, well, interesting. After seeing Elisa with all the wires, ivs, etc for so long, you would think something like a circumcision would be a walk in the park. Instead it freaks me out. And his poor umbilical cord. And what does a proper breastfed poopy diaper look like?! Elisa was always on a mix of breast milk and formula. And seeing a hint of jaundice the other day, normal, but still I went what do I do? (his numbers were borderline high but doc wanted to give it a week to see with the milk coming in if it resolved itself.)

Baby blues? Maybe. I'm sure it will all fall into place. It HAS only been a week.

On top of this, Elisa has been a little bit of a challenge. Not really bad, but up understandably shook up. She's not wanting to go to sleep at bedtime anymore. She's absolutely demanding attention. Like get up in your face you'd better pay attention to me now attention. She demands my iPad for Elmo and when she doesn't get it, we are met with a succession of "Elmo please! More Elmo please!"

On the other hand, she does love her baby brother. She's already referred to him as "her" baby. She doesn't like it when he cries and comes right over to pat his back and tell him "it's ok baby!". She brings him toys and sometimes covers him with blankets. She gets so excited when he's on the floor that she becomes a flailing mass of arms and legs bouncing around and giving her parents heart attacks as she comes within inches of stomping on his head. Please tell me spatial awareness develops soon and I don't have to worry for much longer about her inadvertently using Aidan as a dance mat?

Because I'm tired and don't feel like formatting, I'll just leave you with this glimpse of life as a family of four with an end to this post with a bunch of pictures. Enjoy.

Oh and the last photo is of the proud papa on delivery day, getting ready to accompany me to the delivery room and giving me that day I dreamed of since I first found out we were pregnant again. So glad I was finally able to have that moment.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

37? Say what?


All of my children like to make somewhat grand entrances to this world.

The latest was no exception.

The day started out as any other. Rejoicing in actually making that term date. Didn't seem real. Preparing for my weekly ob appointment, which didn't seem complete without a p17 shot.

Much to my surprise, the nurse takes my blood pressure and gets quiet. Not a peep. Never a good sign. I watch as she goes over to my charts and writes down 138/102.

Huh? From my preemie moms with pre-e, I knew anything over 80 on that bottom number was a problem.

So they wanted me to come back today for another blood pressure check since I wasn't spilling proteins. Since I had been having fairly regular but inconsistently patterned contractions, I asked that they check my cervix, knowing also that any contractions that were productive needed to be kept an eye on due to my classic cut.

Boy did I about fall off the table when that came back at 3-4 cm dilated.

And yet they sent me home, with instructions to call if I started developing signs of pregnancy induced hypertension or more regular contractions. So Andrew and I shipped Elisa off to grandmas as we had intended to have one last date night before the arrival.

Didn't happen.

Shrimp had other plans. By 5:30, as we were preparing to leave for dinner, I developed new pregnancy induced hypertension (pih) symptoms. A quick check of my blood pressure with our nifty home monitor showed it to be 143/103.

Yeah. Not cool.

Off to l&d we go. Packed bag and all, as I knew I wasn't coming back home that night. Along with the increased pih symptoms, I was having fairly painful contractions. If I was dilated to 4-5, Shrimp was coming that night.

2 hours later, multiple cervix and blood pressure checks, doctor was on her way in to prepare me for my c-section.

It was surreal. To be honest, even though I knew I was term. Even though I knew this was the date they originally wanted to deliver, I was almost disappointed. Even just making that 37 and "term" number is a huge victory over prematurity. But part of me had a hard time letting go of the idea that I just barely made it. Added to that the flashbacks that over took me at I opportune times. I couldn't see anything but Elisa's rushed and early section. I was terrified and traumatized more than I was excited.

Poor Andrew got the brunt of it in the delivery room. He kept worrying I was in pain since I kept gripping and squeezing his hand. I was so glad he was able to be there this time. He was too cute, peeking over the curtain, comparing the surgery to like something you'd see on CSI. Finally shrimp is out and the look of boyish joy on his face when he peeks around and exclaims "it's a boy!"

THIS is what it was supposed to be like. That awesome cry, loud and fiery. He did swallow a bit of amniotic fluid that caused some problems but now, my big 8 lb 1 oz 20 inch 37 week "termite", is amazing.

So. Meet Aidan Michael. 12/08/11 9:57 pm.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meet Kinsler

*disclaimer! Shrimp is still baking away, so don't think that this is shrimp! I wanted to introduce you to a very special little boy.*

This is Kinsler. You may remember me mentioning a friends baby who has had a tough ride and his ride has gotten even harder. I wanted to tell you more about Kinsler. All preemies are amazing, but Kinsler, he's truly amazing.

Born this February, about 14 weeks early. His mom developed pre-eclampsia, and the only way to save his and his mothers life was to deliver him so early. He spent 6 long months in the NICU, battling lung and eating issues.

You'd think this would be enough, right? No, Kinsler is once again in the hospital after suffering sudden respiratory and cardiac failure. Why? We don't know yet.

But Kinsler, oh how he fights. And how he continues to fight. He has come back enough from his respiratory failure and is now on a conventional ventilator. They are weaning him from some of his medications for his breathing. He will always be on steroids as his adrenal gland doesn't function properly and he tends to get sick easier. They hope to come home after the first of the year.

Please pray for this family. Added to the incredible stress of being in the hospital, Kinsler is in the hospital an hour and a half from his home. This little one has spent more holidays in the hospital than he has home! Even more of his short life has been in the hospital than sleeping in his bed.

I pray every night that he will soon come home to his family, who loves him Immensely. Even his preemie family.

Keep fighting Kinsler! This is how we want to see you again, very soon!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


"A person that loses a partner is called a widow. A child who loses a parent is called an orphan. But there is no word to describe a parent who loses a child, because that loss is like no other. So will you put this as your status for just 1 hour, I'm pretty sure I know the ones that will. Think of someone you know or love whose lost a baby or child, & take a few minutes to remember & honor their beautiful angels. "

Tonight, I am filled with conflicting emotions.

On the one hand I am excited. I'm 36 weeks. One week from term. My section is officially on the books for Dec 22. Since my regular ob is also pregnant but a week ahead of me, she won't be delivering me, so I saw the ob who will today. And she is not opposed to the plan we had worked out. I received my last p17. It is so hard to believe that at the most, three weeks from today, this little one will be here. I've reached milestone after milestone. 9 months pregnant. One week from term. And it seems I'll be getting that 39 weeker.

Every pregnancy is different, they say. But this one is the polar opposite of Elisa's.

At 36 weeks:

Your baby is gaining about an ounce a day. She now weighs almost 6 pounds (like a crenshaw melon) and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. She's shedding most of the downy hair that covered her body, as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that protected her skin during her nine-month amniotic bath. Next week, your baby will be considered full-term. Most likely she's in a head-down position, but if she isn't, your practitioner may suggest scheduling an external cephalic version, where she'll try to turn your baby by manipulating her from the outside of your belly.

Imagine that. A child of mine actually arriving in the month it was due. Now...this baby will officially have a December birthday. Amazing.

But I said I was filled with conflicting emotions. And that is because I am also surrounded by unspeakable tragedy and worry for some friends. One, who went for her 20 week regular appointment only to find out her baby had no heartbeat. Another, who fought for 6 months for her premature baby, to get him home, only to have him back in the hospital 4 short months later in respiratory failure.

And I'm struck, again, about how unfair life is. Bad things happen to good people all the time. And I'm at a loss as to how to explain it. I've had my fair share, but I've been blessed to be able to keep moving forward and trust that God has this under control too. I can only pray for my friends that they have the same comfort.

So I sit here. Rejoicing at how far I've come. Rejoicing in the excruciating pain in my ribs (that the doctor thinks is actually a rib that's popping out of place thanks to said critter) because it means he/she is STILL there. Rejoicing in my two year old who is making life ever more interesting as we enter this growing independent stage and not wanting mommy and daddy to have any say. Rejoicing in her tantrums. Because it means she is HERE and healthy and normal. No apparent long term effects from her prematurity.

And praying. Praying for my friends.

And if you pray, please pray for them. They need the prayers more than I do at the moment.