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April 2007


April 1, 2007

Anastasia took her first little steps alone today!

She didn't seem at all aware of what she was doing. She was quite intent on a toy, as she stood alone. Then she took two steps to one side. She's didn't topple down, either. She purposefully got down on her hands and knees to grab a book. Then, about a half hour later, she repeated the side-stepping while playing with a toy.

Of course, I wasn't there to witness it...but it made Alexei happy to catch one of her firsts before I did :)


April 3, 2007

"She is really ready to walk," the physical therapist said. "She just doesn't know it yet!"

Yup; that's what Alexei and I think, too.

Today was PT day, and Anastasia spent most of her therapy time walking. She tried using a different push toy, and the PT got her to walk repeatedly by just barely holding onto her left wrist. "I'm not really giving her any support," the PT said.

Anastasia also took three or four steps on her own, but it's clear that she doesn't really want to do be doing that yet.


April 5, 2007

Whenever Anastasia is feeling cranky (usually about an hour before she'll take a nap), we often go for a nature walk (i.e. a stroll around the yard). This and reading books are the only sure-fire ways to make her feel better.

Yesterday, for example, I let Anastasia touch the just-about-ready-to-bloom dogwoods, the rhododendron, and the lilac. I pointed out several cats, a dog, a squirrel, and two birds. Miss A. enjoyed stroking the lavender bushes and running her hands through the palm tree-looking lily stalks. I even had a few chives popping up, so I snipped off a small piece and let her experiment with it. She wasn't sure she liked the flavor. But best of all was when I gave her a flower - a small grape hyacinth. That put a big smile on her face, and she couldn't wait to show it to her daddy as soon as he showed up for lunch.

She still hates to sit on the grass, though.

Just last night, my husband and I were remarking that Anastasia becomes a bigger joy each day. She's really a baby no longer. She's a little girl. And it's fun to see her begin to interact with the world around her a bit more. For example, instead of trying to ignore the physical therapist the other day, she actually sometimes enjoyed her company. They shared the "secret" of how a neat sounds can come from the front window if you gently tap it, and Anastasia laughed when the PT placed her watch on her head, hoping Miss A. would reach up and grab it.

We also chuckle at Miss A's continued stubbornness about speaking. Last night, Anastasia was using her toddler toothbrush while my husband was trying to get her to say her name. Typically when he does this, Anastasia says her name...but with her mouth closed. But because this toothbrush is rather large, this time when she said her name, it actually came out: "Aaaanaaastaaaaasiaaaa." Miss A. got a shocked expression on her face when she realized she'd spoken.

"Good job! Say your name again, Anastasia!" we said. Miss A. frowned, then quickly said (her toothbrush out of her mouth but her mouth open): "Stasia!"

Maybe she's getting more interested in communicating through sound and speech, because this morning she imitated elephant sounds I made as I read one of her touch and feel books.


April 6, 2007

I may as well admit this right away: I'm a pile maker. Throughout our home, you'll find piles of books, papers, and sometimes other objects.

As you can imagine, these aren't very baby proof. So I wasn't surprised when Anastasia pulled a piece of sheet music from one of my piles. But I was surprised to see her study it carefully.

If it had been in a book, I wouldn't have even taken note. Any type of book is right up Miss A's alley. But this was just a single sheet of music.

So I said: "That's called sheet music. That's what singers look at to know what to sing, and what piano players and other musicians look at to know what to play."

She turned to the music with even more interest. She probably studied it for two minutes or so.

Then later, as I read Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs to her, she made me stop for a while on the page that features notes on a staff. I was impressed she remembered what sheet music looked liked!

So...is she a protégé or what???  But seriously, I wonder if there are any books for toddlers that explain very basic music concepts...

Anastasia is also starting to eat poorly again. I'm hoping this time it's just typical toddler stuff. Often, she'll refuse to let me feed her anything at all. (Usually, I start the meal by spoon or fork feeding her, then I let her self-feed with her fingers for the rest of the meal.) When I offer her the spoon, all she does is play with it. (What happened to the days when she'd promptly put it in her mouth???) And if I leave her with a bowl and spoon, nothing much happens.

Over the past several days, Anastasia has also learned to spit food from her mouth. A new skill. Yea. She's also started removing food from her mouth and throwing it on the floor. Worst of all, about once a day she cries big tears when I offer her food.

I'm trying to be cool about this and not let her see that it ruffles my feathers.

I'm also trying to reason with her a bit more. For example, yesterday I offered her a "cookie" (i.e. graham cracker). She shook her head "no," so I put it on the piano bench where she could easily reach it if she wanted. (Often after shaking her head "no" to something she'll decide she wants it.) But this time she grabbed the cookie and threw it on the floor. I shook my head. "That was uncalled for," I said. "Food does not belong on the floor." She picked the cookie up and placed it back on the piano bench.


April 6 (part II)

Okay, now I really am going to have to find Anastasia materials on music theory!

This afternoon, when we read Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs again, Miss A. refused to go past the page featuring written music! (It's amazing to me that she differentiates between written music, drawings, and text.) Then she started pointing to the various elements, so I started naming them for her: "That's a treble clef. That's the time signature. That's a note..." We did that for at least six minutes before she'd let me move on to the next page...

April 6 (part III)

In three days, two readers have emailed me with the same question: "What can I do for my friend who's just had a preemie?" It's a great question, and I've answered it as best I can here.

Also, look at this! Anastasia made friends with grass today, discovering that it's fun to pull from the ground. She still won't crawl in it, though.


April 10, 2006

Our Easter weekend started out icky. First thing Saturday morning, we took Anastasia to the clinic for her RSV shot.

She was actually a little overdue for the stuff. Apparently, in most parts of the U.S., RSV season ends in March. So our insurance company automatically agrees to pay for shots through that month. But since the season usually lasts until April or May in our area, the clinic has to submit paperwork proving it's still a threat for Anastasia. This takes time, and it takes more time for the insurance company to review the information and write back saying they'll cover further shots. (We could never pay for the shots without good insurance; they're about $1,500 each.)

So, long story short, while we waited for approval, the RN who handles our case warned me to keep Anastasia away from anyone who might be ill. I wasn't really happy about that, even though we are very careful even when Anastasia is covered by the shots. (The shots consist of antibodies, which mean they don't work 100% of the time.)

As usual, Anastasia shook with fear as soon as she realized what was up, then screamed bloody murder as we held her down. She's so strong, I can't hold her down by myself, so the nurses always ask her daddy to do the honors. After the shot, she cries to tell us she's ticked off...until I give her a chocolate graham cracker, and then all seems to be forgiven until I remove her band-aids at home. Then she cries a bit more from the memory.

We hate the whole process. If we're fortunate, though, perhaps that was the last RSV shot Anastasia will ever need. We won't know until next month whether the RSV season is over in our area.

Unfortunately, the shot affected Anastasia more than usual. She was very tired all of Saturday and Sunday, which put a damper on Easter.

Not that we did a whole lot. We can't go to church or get together with most of the family because we have to worry about RSV. But we did go over to my mom's; she gave Miss A. an Easter basket. Our girl enjoyed it, but she was pretty sober the whole time.

She didn't enjoy Easter dinner, though. In fact, I don't think she ate a single bite. For at least three days, Anastasia eaten next to nothing. A typical day for her has been:

Breakfast: 4 or 5 goldfish crackers

Lunch: 1/4 of a graham cracker

Snack: 2 bites of donut, which her daddy gave out of desperation. ("She's starving herself!" he says.)

Dinner: 2 potato chips

I know toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, and I'm hoping that's all this is. But given Anastasia's past eating problems, it's hard not to fret. Fortunately, this morning she ate better than she has in a while: an entire chicken nugget and a few teaspoons of bran cereal.

I have more to tell you, but it will have to wait a day or two. So much to type, so little time!


April 11, 2007

Our Early Intervention coordinator visited yesterday - for the first time in over a month. She was very pleased with the progress she saw in Miss A. Some fun things Anastasia did:

* Played with the large crayons our coordinator provided. She drew a little bit with these, but mostly she sorted them.

* Took a photo of herself from my hands and laughed at her own image repeatedly. When the coordinator said: "Wow, you are so cute!" Anastasia vigorously nodded her head "yes."

* Opened up one of her plastic Easter eggs and removed an Animal Cracker cookie for herself, then offered the only remaining cookie to our coordinator.

* Said "thank you" repeatedly (sometimes meaning "you're welcome").

* Showed me her yellow drumstick. When I asked her to show me what else was yellow, she handed me a yellow block and a yellow plastic egg. Our coordinator's jaw dropped to the floor. "Yellow is the only color she knows," I said. "I haven't even pushed colors on her. She's just shown interest, so I name colors occasionally. I think yellow is her favorite, and it's the only color she tries to say."


April 12, 2007

In desperation today, Anastasia and I took a walk through a spring shower. Anastasia has been pretty grumpy all week, and not being able to get outside has made the late afternoons very trying. But today I thought for sure the rain would stop long enough for a walk, so I got Anastasia all bundled up in her stroller and headed out the door.

We hadn't even walked a block when the shower started.

But I was determined to go for a walk, anyway. I pulled up the hood on Anastasia's stroller and jacket, and off we went. So what if her feet got a little wet? She didn't seem to mind.

The rain got a little heavier as we headed up the street, but by the time we'd walked 15 minutes or so, it completely went away. We took an especially long walk today, and when we got home, we both felt soooooo much better.

Miss A. has been eating better the past few days, too. She still won't let me feed her anything, and she refuses to eat (with her fingers or utensils) any of the foods I'd normally feed her. This is not great, since it means she's missing out on her most fattening foods (like avacado), and her main source of extra calcium and fluid (YoBaby yogurt). But still, she's eating much better.

She's also pointing endlessly at things. Mostly things in books.

Today we spent exactly 20 minutes looking at a single book. Anastasia would point to an illustration and say "Duhdn?" (which, apparently, means "What is that?"). Then I'd tell her what it was. Sometimes she'd point to many items on a page, and sometimes only two. But she'd point, back and forth, many times before she'd turn the page.

She seems to be trying to figure out "boy" vs. "girl" and words that sound similar, like "bowl" and "bow." Sometimes she also points to single letters. And she's still pointing to specific items in written sheet music, asking me what they are.

After 20 minutes of this, she laid her little head on my shoulder and sighed. I was worn out, so I know she must have been, too!

She's learning, though. Today we spent a lot of time on several illustrations of bicycles; then, when we went outside, she seemed to notice every bike. Of course, when she'd reach toward them she'd still cry:        "Button!"


April 13, 2007

I've been debating whether or not to post on this topic, but ultimately I decided it might help some other mom of a preemie. Besides, we could use your prayers.
Alexei and I are thinking about having another baby.
Actually, we've been thinking about it for a while, but only recently started taking certain medical steps toward it (which I'll discuss in a moment).

We're think about all the typical stuff: Do we have enough money for another baby? Do we have room for another baby? Do we have enough energy for another baby?

But mostly what gives us pause is fear.

Honestly, I don't know if my husband could handle the stress of having another preemie. And it would be much more complicated for me. If I went on bed rest, who'd take care of Miss A? I couldn't even feed her in the middle of the night, because you can't lift anything so heavy as a toddler while on bed rest. And how would we cope with visiting a baby in the NICU? I could take Anastasia with me for short stints, but there's no way I'd be able to stay in the NICU all day long, as I did with Miss A. And how would all the stress of having a preemie affect Anastasia?
Worse, what if we weren't so fortunate this time around? I don't think either of us are prepared to loose a child.
Of course, we could end up with a perfectly healthy, full term baby, too.
In fact, statistically, I "only" have a 30% chance of experiencing PROM (premature rupture of the membranes, or my water breaking early) again. And while I've met some women online who've had a PROM preemie, then go on to have healthy full term babies, I've also met some women who seem to experience PROM over and over and over again.
There are a few things we can do to maybe decrease my risk. For example, with Anastasia, I had my teeth cleaned when I was in my first trimester. The fact that the hygienist seemed nervous and paranoid should have been my clue that this might not be a good idea. She told me that it's possible for bacteria to get into your bloodstream during a cleaning, and this may not be good for the baby. I should have leapt up from her chair then and there. Instead, I let her do the cleaning with "precautions." Now I wonder if that cleaning had anything to do with Anastasia's premature birth.

However, it's important to get your teeth cleaned during pregnancy. Recent studies show that gum disease and gingivitis may lead to premature birth. So, I'm scheduled to get my teeth cleaned before we try getting pregnant, with a plan to only go in again once I'm past my first trimester.

I've also seen my obstetrician. (A new one, since my old doctor is sadly not delivering babies anymore.) We discussed a few additional things that might help prevent a pre-term birth another time around. For example, I want very regular testing for infections, since many cases of PROM are thought to be caused by undiagnosed infections. Can I be tested for every type of infection? Not realistically. But at least we can test for the common ones, like BV and yeast.
We would probably also see that I got a P17 (progesterone) shot weekly.
Here are additional ideas we'll consider. Most doctors say these steps may or may not work, but to most PROM moms, they are worth trying.
But I find myself swaying from being 100% sure we should give it a try, to being very uncertain. I do trust in God completely, but God also gave us brains for a reason. I don't want to make a foolish decision. I wish God would just shout down a "Yes!" or "No!" to me. That would clear things up entirely :)
So, if you feel inclined, please pray that we make the decision we should.
I fantasize about my "perfect birth," which may not sound so perfect to non-PROM moms: I'm getting a C-section (which would probably be necessary because I had a Cesarean when Anastasia was only 25 weeks gestation), and the doctor suddenly hands over a big, fat, full-term baby. I can't hold him or her yet because I'm still getting stitched up (!), but my husband holds the baby and we both cry.
It's a beautiful fantasy, but I can't help but worry that it is just a fantasy...


April 15, 2007

You know, I really felt God urging me to make that last post. He's so smart, cuz I got lots of wise council.

Funny thing is, nobody told me anything I didn't already know. But sometimes you just need to hear someone else say it for it to sink in properly.

First, let me tell you about some other moms who wrote in to say: "You said exactly what I've been thinking." Some moms talked about how they're scared to have (yet another) miscarriage. Other  moms said they, too, are weighing their fears of having another preemie against their desire for another child.

One of this site's faithful readers, and the mom of her own preemie, wrote:

"I love what you wrote about having that full term fat baby. Only moms of preemies I think dream of what it would be like to be ( in our case) 6, 7 or even 8 months pregnant. I dream of that every day. What would it be like to be woken up during the night from a sharp hard kick...To be so pregnant that no clothes fit."

Yeah, Nancy, I know. All I want is a third trimester!

Then I received some great spiritual advice.

One mom of a preemie wrote:

"I've often wondered if you...were going to have another baby, but never asked because it wasn't my business. Since you brought it up, I thought I'd offer my two cents. I think it's a wonderful idea. I think you are wise to be cautious. I understand where your reservations are coming from, I really do. However, remember that fear is not from the Lord. I believe that if God didn't want you to have another baby that two things would happen: 1) You wouldn't get pregnant; and 2) Your answer would be an almost vocal, emphatic 'NO' from up above."

And then I heard from my online writer buddy, Tanya:

"I will definitely be lifting you...up in prayer. The decision of having or not having more children is difficult enough for us - I can't imagine how difficult it is for you. But it seems (from your post) that you've already made up your minds; you're just suffering from fear and weak faith. I don't mean that to sound harsh! Just that perhaps you are needing strength rather than wisdom. It's not a decision of whether you want to or not; it's a decision of whether you're ready for another unknown or not. I will be praying daily for God to be clear with you; for Him to give you the courage you need to follow where He leads."

Thank you to everyone who wrote.

This afternoon I've been reviewing some of Anastasia's old photos. I was cracking up at how bald she was last summer, around her first birthday. Check her out:

This was when she first learned to bear weight on her legs.

And look at this photo, taken around this time last year:

She still had her apnea monitor, and some pretty bad torticollis.

She's changed so much! She's not a baby anymore. She's a little girl.

And here she is this morning, first thing (notice the lovely hair-do), when she discovered the table and chairs her grandma and grandpa snuck in for her the night before:


April 17, 2007

Here I was scurrying around yesterday trying to set up an appointment to get my teeth cleaned ASAP, and my new OB/GYN's office calls and tells me my blood tests show I don't have an immunity to chicken pox. I must get a vaccination before getting pregnant, my OB's nurse said, because if I catch chicken pox while pregnant, it could hurt the baby.

And oh yeah, I have to wait three months after getting the vaccination before getting pregnant.


So I called my family doctor right away (since my OB/GYN's office doesn't have the vaccination), and they thought I was nuts. "Chicken pox wouldn't hurt the baby," the triage nurse said. "And it's only recommended for people over 65. I think you must have misunderstood. Please call your OB/GYN's office again and make sure what it is they want you to get."

So this morning I called my OB/GYN's nurse, and she says yep, it's the chicken pox vaccination that I need. She thought it was kind of scary that the other RN wasn't aware chicken pox could hurt fetuses and that pregnant women who haven't already had the pox should be vaccinated...

I'm scheduled to get my vaccination this Friday.


April 18, 2007

When I had my teeth cleaned today, everyone in the dentists' office wanted to see photos of Miss A.   And, of course, I had some handy :) 

You should have seen the look of confusion on their faces when they compared her birth day photo (the one on the upper right of this page) to a photo of her this Easter. I sometimes forget that unless you've had an extreme preemie, you probably don't realize that severe jaundice is typical, and causes the infant's skin to look quite dark. So a baby that appears dark-skinned at birth may actually end up fair skinned. Hehe!

Today Anastasia and I also sat down and watched a DVD. You may recall that she doesn't routinely watch TV. In fact, I think she's only watched TV two other times, and both of those times were for only a minute or two.

But my mom bought Anastasia Brainy Baby Music, and Miss A. was feeling tired and grumpy, so I thought we'd check it out. She loved it! In fact, she was riveted to the TV for most of the 45 minute DVD. (When they showed various types of instruments, she lost interest momentarily.) She conducted, bounced to the music, giggled, and periodically looked back and me, smiling and laughing.

I thought the DVD was great, too. Far  better than the Baby Einstein music DVD. It teaches the very basics of rhythm, tempo, harmony, pitch, etc., and does so with lots of children of various ages. It was a lot of fun to watch Anastasia enjoying it.


April 19, 2007

I'm so upset right now, I'm shaking.

A fellow mom of a preemie emailed me this morning to tell me about some suspicious material she found on another website about a preemie. As it turned out, every single photo this woman was using of "her" preemie was actually a photo of Anastasia. Even the ultrasound photo is Anastasia!

I wouldn't mind ranting about this, but I don't want to give this creepy person the satisfaction of getting a lot of attention. I've reported the website to the host, and reported the photo montage to the host of the montage, and I expect both sites will be torn down within a few days.

I'll also try to track this person down and sue him or her for copyright infringement...because that's the only legal action I can take against this person.

Here is the website: http://sierralouise.livejournal.com/  . The photos of Anastasia are in the post titled "Photo Montage" (April 11th).

Clearly this whole website is a lie.

As you may recall, this isn't the first time Anastasia's photos have been stolen for a bogus website. Check my post for April 6th, 2006.

It's almost enough to make me take down Anastasia's entire website...


April 19, (part II)

This creep who stole Anastasia's photos (who, by the way, called herself acamile14 and Amber) posted those photos all over the Internet. I'm busy tracking them all down.

I've also heard she may have solicited and/or received money and other gifts from people who felt sorry for her.

If you know anything about this person, or gave her money or gifts, please contact me. I want to make sure this person doesn't commit fraud against anyone again.


April 20, 2007

I want to address a few things about my posts yesterday.

I think some people are concerned that I'm being too hard on a mentally ill person. It's true that this "Amber" could have stolen Anastasia's photos and begged for sympathy all over the Net because she's mentally ill. If that's the case, I have sympathy toward her. But I still believe she should be punished so she doesn't do this again.

It's not just our family who was hurt by this. There's a large group of moms of preemies who were praying, crying for, and trying to support "Amber." They are shocked and hurt that while they would have given their right arm to have a healthy full term baby, "Amber" made up a story about having a very ill preemie. They have a right to be hurt and offended.

It also appears that seeking sympathy and attention was not "Amber's" only motive. She appears to have received quite a bit in the way of money, gift cards, and other gifts from women who were trying to help her through her supposed crisis. And it seems "Amber" was ready for the big kill. She'd just announced that if her baby didn't start getting better, she and her husband were going to "let her go." The supportive group of moms around her admit they would have set up memorials and sent gifts and money to "Amber."

If you are one of the people who sent "Amber" money or gifts, please contact me. Especially if "Amber" solicited these gifts. You can also consider filing Internet fraud charges, in hopes that this will prevent "Amber" from doing this again.

Also, some parents have written to me asking how they can prevent their child's photos from being stolen by someone like "Amber." If you will email me, I'll give you some pointers.

Okay, enough said. I won't bring this up again, unless big news warrants it.

My next post (later today, I hope) will be all about Miss A!


April 20 (part II)

Miss A. was so grateful to get outside yesterday. (And so was I!) We've been cooped up due to rain for what seems like forever. She had a grand time waving at people as they walked past the house and ripping up grass and handing it to me. A few times, I slacked on my job and didn't have my hand out waiting for the grass. Anastasia rebuked me a little when this happened.

Anastasia's also completely endeared to all dogs and cats - especially dogs. When she sees them in books, she almost always kisses them, and when she sees them in person, she reaches toward them, crying "Button!" When they get up close, though, she's shy. She still loves her stuffed dog, and gives it hugs and kisses throughout the day.

Anastasia is also becoming a little more mature in her book taste. She no longer tries to rip the pages of paper books (as opposed to board books). Her current favorite is Eloise Wilkin Stories - especially the delightfully old-fashioned Little Golden Book tale "Busy Timmy." This morning, the telephone interrupted a reading of this story, and she grew quite annoyed with me. She pushed the book in my face and made squawking noises until I got off the phone.

We try to encourage her to use words. When Anastasia makes noises or points for something, we say: "I don't understand. Tell me what you want. Use words." But she just shakes her head "no." Still, we aren't worried. I mean, the child can say "Anastasia," "thank you," "'welcome," and "I love you." So I don't think there's a real problem!

She doesn't seem to be making any progress with her walking, though. She pushes around a push toy three or four times a day, and will usually walk if we take one of her hands (but only for a short distance). She cruises around quite a bit, but really hasn't even attempted to walk on her own. Hopefully she won't still be crawling by her second birthday! :)

Oh, and I got my chicken pox vaccination today. I have to get a second one in six weeks. As is usual when you get a vaccination, the nurse gave me a fact sheet; it says I only need to wait one month after getting the shot before getting pregnant, but the MD I saw agreed with my OB: waiting three months is much better. Fortunately, they start counting today...not the day of my second shot.


April 21, 2007

Yesterday afternoon, Anastasia had her first real temper tantrum.

She was playing happily by my side...until suddenly she decided she needed my undivided attention right now. I paused what I was doing and talked to her, hugged her, and stroked her head, then went about what I was doing, still talking in gentle tones with her. Normally, I would stop for longer, but it happened I was in the middle of something that couldn't be set aside and finished later.

Anastasia started crying. I continued to talk in gentle tones to her, explaining that I would be with her as soon as I could. (As it happens, in about ten minutes. But ten minutes is an eternity when you're Anastasia's age.) She began crying big tears, then started ripping things off my desk and throwing them. I said "no" several times, then put her in the playpen while I tried to quickly finish up my task. (I've never used the playpen this way before, by the way.)

So Miss A. stood in the playpen, jumped up and down, screamed bloody murder, and got herself so worked up she was coughing and gasping for breath.

I finished my task, then picked her up and hugged her. She was instantly fine. Smiling, even. Arg.

On a happy note, she's become the queen of "found toys." She loves playing with the turkey baster, plastic cups, large plastic spoons...My digital kitchen timer is her favorite toy right now. She loves any gadget, especially if it has buttons, so this really fits the bill.

Oddly, Anastasia has suddenly become fearful of the bath. Nothing is different about the way I'm bathing her, but when I wash her hair, she cries and tries to climb out the tub.

She's always been uncooperative about getting her hair washed. She won't lean back in the tub (I think it scares her to do so, even though I'm holding her), and she will rarely lean her head forward or backward as I rinse her hair. This means she gets water and soap in her eyes. It's tear-free soap, but still, it can't feel great. Yet up until now, she's tolerated it okay. Now she's decided enough is enough, I guess. So I just do it as quickly as possible, giving her lots of hugs.

I also want to share with you a beautiful photo montage created by Elaina, another mom of a preemie. As it turns out, Anastasia's photo was originally in it, but with the wrong name. Elaina had no idea the photo was stolen and was being used fraudulently, and she removed Anastasia's pic as soon as she learned this. She says she'll try to find time to put Anastasia's photo back in (this time with correct information about who the baby is), but even if she doesn't, the video is definitely worth your time. It's a real tear-jerker.


April 21 (part II)

Notice anything different? Oh yeah, the web address splashed all across Anastasia's photos!

I apologize for this, but under the circumstances, I feel I have no choice but to make it a pain for anyone to try to steal Miss A's photos.  


April 21 (part III)

Apparently, I have too much time on my hands tonight. (Baby is asleep and hubby is out.) But I just got this oldie but goodie email, and thought I'd share.

You know you're the parent of a preemie when:

You know how many CCs make up an ounce

The skin on your hands is peeling from washing so often

You hesitate when someone asks your child's age (but you know exactly how much your child weighs!)

The answer to "How old is your baby?" is a story 30 minutes long

When someone asks his birthday, you reply, "Which one?"

You start to understand some of the things they say on ER and House

You turn into Kung-Fu Mom when someone tries to touch your baby

You measure your child's spit-up before you clean it up

You see a 7 lb newborn and say "Wow! She's so BIG!"

When someone says how tiny your baby is, you argue that he's huge - and to demonstrate, you whip out pictures of him in NICU

You want to scream when someone says that she just wants to have this baby now - at week 28, 32, or 34.

Your child gets a simple cold and her doc sees her within the hour

It takes your child 3 months to grow into newborn clothes

You pick up 2 pounds of ground beef and think that your baby weighed less at birth


April 23, 2007

There are two things that make us do the happy dance in this house: When Anastasia learns to like a new food and when she manages to have a bowel movement on her own.  Today, she did both! (Eggos were the new food.)

Weird thing is, she never seems to have a BM on her own unless I've just called the doctor to say I think she needs medication for constipation. Maybe I just need to make frequent fake phone calls in front of Miss A....

I just finished reading The Everything Toddler Book, and for me the most interesting part was the section on developmental milestones. Now I realize there is a wide range of normal for these things, but just take a peek at what 18 to 24 month olds are supposed to be doing. (Miss A. is about 21 months.):


Understands the meaning of "don't" (Check!)

Knows names for familiar people and objects (Check!)

Uses fifty words (if talking) (Nope! But apparently not all kids are talking yet...)

Makes two word sentences (if talking) (Nope! But apparently not all kids are talking yet...)

Listens to short books (Check!)

Points to six parts of the body when asked (Nope! But apparently not all kids are talking yet...)

Speaks gibberish that has the cadence of rhythm of speech (Check!)

Identifies four pictures in a book with words (if talking) (Nope! But apparently not all kids are talking yet...)

Follows a two-step command (Check!)


Understands categories (e.g., "toys," "books") (I'm not sure on this one)

Points to specific pictures in books when asked (She's done this once)

Tries different ways to do something (Check!)

Learns from looking at books. (Check!)

Pretends (Check!)

Focuses on an activity for five minutes (Check!)

Chooses (between two things) (Check!)

Inspects something by looking (not tasting or touching) (Check!)


Runs (Nope!)

Stacks six blocks (Nope!)

Rides a toy by pushing on the floor with alternating feet (Nope!)

Walks up steps (Nope!)

Kicks ball forward (Nope!)


Has an impact by saying "no" or resisting (Check!)

Feels concerned when someone is crying (Not sure on that one.)

Tries to comfort someone who is very upset (Not sure on that one.)

Handles simple responsibilities (Nope!)

Is interested in other children (Check!)

Feeds a doll (Check!)


Drinks from a cup without a lid (Nope!)

Uses a spoon and fork (Nope!)

Washes and dries hands (She does rub hands together when I put sanitizer on them, so I'll call this one: Check!)

Takes off some clothes (Check!)

Puts on an article of clothing (Nope!)

Puts arms and legs through holes when being dresses (Check!)


As you can see, all the "nopes" are in the area of motor skills. (including the one about taking responsibilities...That's pretty hard to do when your motor skills aren't very advanced.) Our Early Intervention gal is coming tomorrow; I think I'll go through this list with her. I sometimes wonder if Miss A. could use some help with her fine motor skills, as well as the gross motor skills that the PT takes care of.


April 24, 2007

Anastasia just really, truly took her first steps on her own!

Our Early Intervention gal was leaving, so I took Miss A's hand and walked with her toward the door. Anastasia pulled her hand away and stood still for a moment, then took four or five steps entirely on her own before getting down on her knees and waving "bye."

And of course she did this the day I went to our coordinator with my worries about her progress. About those worries, our coordinator very kindly said she thought Anastasia was making progress and doing fine. (Translation: "Quit being a paranoid mom of a preemie!")

I actually felt a little silly after going down the list with her, since Anastasia is doing most of the things on that list.

Anyway, I just about cried I was so excited to see her walking!


April 25, 2007

The big news today is that Anastasia took four steps all by herself again. I have a feeling she'll be running all around soon :)

We've also been having a great time watching her pretend. Yesterday, she picked up invisible food and fed it to one of her dolls. Our Early Intervention coordinator was quite impressed that Anastasia was playing with invisible things. Cuter still, she's been giving her doll her sippy cup and making smacking sounds with her lips.

Miss A. is also following some fairly complex directions. I sometimes allow her to play with my hair clip. Yesterday afternoon, long after she'd abandoned this clip for "real toys," I said: "Anastasia, bring me my hair clip and then I'll read you a book." She cruised and crawled over to the clip, brought it within two feet of me, then grabbed a book off her bookshelf. "Please bring me my clip first," I said. And she did!

She's really showing her opinion about books, too. Sometimes I'll pick up a book and start to read it, but she closes it and shakes her head "no." So I say: "Okay, you'd better pick out a book, then." And she does.

Her opinions are growing stronger all the way around. For example, yesterday she was standing and lost her balance. She landed on her rear end. It didn't hurt, but she was tired and it may have scared her. She started crying big tears. I hugged her and gently said: "You're all right, honey." And she shook her head violently "no."


April 26, 2007

When Anastasia's physical therapist came yesterday, she had a terrible time getting Anastasia to cooperate. However, in the last 15 minutes or so of the session, we finally got Anastasia walking on her own. I used one of her favorite books, Lift & Look Colors (which has foam puzzle pieces in it), as motivation. The PT sat Anastasia down a few feet in front of me, and every time Miss A. tried to crawl to the book, she'd lift her to standing. Anastasia walked to me, unassisted for about 10 minutes, each time taking the entire five steps or so on her own.

Later that evening, she took even more steps on her own. Here's the video.

She also did some imitation of animal noises, something she's just getting into. To her repertoire (which consists mostly of cow, elephant, and snake noises) she added "Cock-a-doodle-do!"

But what may have blown me away more than anything happened just as my husband came home from work. Miss A. uses her Leap Frog alphabet set like a walkman. (Wow, that dates me! I should say iPod, I guess...) She sits on the floor, swaying or bouncing to "The Alphabet Song," pushing the buttons to make it replay, or restart. Well, yesterday as she did this, she suddenly started humming! Then she opened her mouth and sang: "A, B, C, D."

Our jaws dropped to the floor.

Now, don't get me wrong. The melody was a little bit off, and the letter names were a little garbled, but it was absolutely clear that she was singing "The Alphabet Song."

The little stinker can do way more than she lets on.

And speaking of doing more things than she lets on, I also spoke with the PT about Anastasia not using utensils or bowls. She told me what her favorite toddler spoon is (NOTE 10/21/11: I can no longer find the exact spoon, but the Sassy Less Mess Toddler Spoons, with holes in the "cup" part of the spoon, are the new version of what our PT recommended.), what her favorite cup for kids is, and what her favorite bowl is. She explained that the suction cup on the bowl isn't really designed to keep kids from tossing the bowl on the floor (which was the reason I wanted a bowl with a strong suction), but to ensure the bowl doesn't slide across the table or highchair tray as the child tries to eat from it.

As I took all this in, making mental notes about products to try and showing the PT Anastasia's current feeding equipment, Miss A. grabbed her one of her spoons, scooped it into the bowl, lifted the spoon to her mouth, put it in her mouth as though she was feeding herself, then removed it and started the process all over again.

The PT and I looked at each other silently until I finally said: "I guess she can use utensils and a bowl, if she chooses to!"


April 27, 2007

Yesterday, we heard from the clinic. Anastasia will be getting no more RSV shots! I can't tell you how relieved we all are. No more holding her down with all our might, and no more watching Miss A. shake with fear. Thank the Lord.

RSV season is coming to a close in our area, and while it's still possible for Miss A. to catch RSV, the chances are much lower. So, beginning next month, we'll gradually start introducing her to a world of people and germs! We can't wait to do so many things with her: take her on visits to see her little cousins, to the park, to the zoo, to her first restaurant...heck, even her first trip into Wal-Mart! :)

Yesterday I also got pretty excited because Anastasia drank a ton of fluids. Well, at least for her.

The physical therapist mentioned that I should try to get Anastasia off the sippy cup, since it could make her develop bucked teeth. She suggested something with a straw. Well, back in November of last year, I'd bought a honey bear bottle. Anastasia quickly learned how to sip through the straw, and at first it seemed she'd be able to take most of her Pediasure this way, thereby eliminating her midnight feed. But in a few days, the thrill of using a straw was gone, and I ended up shelving the honey bear.

Yesterday, I drew it out again with the idea of using it to replace Anastasia's sippy cup, not her bottle. She was delighted with it again, and drank about 1 1/4 cup of juice and water...about 1/2 a cup more fluids than she normally takes. Too, she drank throughout the day, instead of just drinking a wee bit at noon and the rest right before bed time.

Today, she is less excited about using a straw and hasn't been drinking as much. But if she'll drink at least as much as she does with her sippy cup, I'll continue to use the honey bear instead.

I've written before about Miss A's love of gadgets, but I wanted to share this photo with you:


This is Anastasia playing with my kitchen timer. It makes us laugh because she appears to be using a small video game. Sometimes it looks like she's text messaging, because her thumbs just go like mad on the buttons. She'll do this with the phone, our remote controls, any gadget with buttons that she manages to get her hands on.

I also want to share these photos of Anastasia "using" a bowl this morning. After her performance the other day with an empty bowl and spoon, I thought I'd try putting food in the bowl.

Check out the progression (but don't let the spoon in her mouth fool you...She didn't use it to feed herself):

"Hmmm...How do I work the suction on this thing?"

"A ha!"

"How dare you try to make me eat with a spoon and bowl?"

When she threw the bowl on the floor, splattering yogurt everywhere, she looked me directly in the eye and said: "Uh oh." Defiant look and all.


April 30, 2007

For a while now, we've been waiting for decent weather to take Miss A. to the park to feed the ducks. Saturday was the day. I'd envisioned a laughing Anastasia feeding the critters bread, and getting swooped up in her daddy's arms when the geese got too feisty. But instead, the birds were fat and full. Older bread crumbs were all along the water's edge, and the ducks weren't the least bit interested in our offerings. Miss A. got a look at the ducks, but only from afar.

Afterward, we took Anastasia to a large, locally owned home improvement store. She was absolutely delighted with the mini waterfalls and (especially) the deer statues. We can't wait to take her everywhere!

Miss A. is walking more and more every day. And I've never seen her fall yet. If she starts loosing her balance, she gets down on her knees, well in control. She's also started standing without pulling up on anything, and yesterday she learned to scoot her ride-on train backwards...but she seemed to think it was more trouble than it was worth.

She also learned that her honey bear bottle makes a great squirt toy. She was chewing on the side of it, and suddenly apple juice sprayed everywhere. So I went out and bought the only baby cup I could find that had a hard body and a soft straw. Fortunately, she loves it.

Miss A. is also suddenly very in to feeding everything: her dolls, her stuffed dog, our cat, me, her daddy...everyone and everything but herself, of course!