February 1, 2007
As promised, today I announce the winner of The Mommy Survival Guide contest. But first, I want to tell you a bit about those who entered.
I so enjoyed reading about your sweet children, ladies! Some of you made me laugh out loud (often when I needed it most!), and others pulled on my heart strings. Some of you literally wrote essays, others just dashed off a note during nap time. I was impressed by you all! I wasn't able to answer but a few of the emails, and I can't quote you all here, but I did want to highlight just a few of your letters.
I wish I could give a book to each and every one who entered the contest, but since I can't, the winner is...TARA of MONTANA! Congrats! :)
P.S. I have an update for Anastasia written in my head. I will get it online as soon as I can.
February 1 (part II)
It's been a long week for me. Last Friday, hubby came home sick with a fever. Not knowing what he might be ill with, he sequestered himself in the bedroom and didn't come out until Tuesday morning. (He was still sick on Tuesday, but needed to get back to work.) Not only was this hard on me (no breaks whatsoever!), but it was hard on Anastasia. She'd glimpse her daddy through the crack in the door and reach out to him. (Her way of saying: "Pick me up!") We explained to her what was going on, but within a day, she was quite out of sorts.
When Tuesday night came, my husband decided that if he wore a surgical mask, he could hold Anastasia. Our dear girl settled right into her daddy's lap and cooed. She was utterly content, and stayed in his lap well past her bedtime. Poor girl. She needed her daddy.
Her daddy is still feeling ill, so it's a good thing we still have some surgical masks left over from our NICU days!
February 2, 2007
Ugh. Today we go in for a Synagis (RSV) shot. That's always fun. I'm not looking forward to seeing what Anastasia weighs, either. She feels awful light and looks awfully slim. I've been putting off weighing her myself...
February 3, 2007
Yesterday was just awful. As I carried Anastasia in the clinic parking lot, she began whimpering. When we started down the pediatrician's hallway, she began crying. When I undressed her, she started screaming. After the nurse weighed her and took several minutes to measure out Anastasia's dose of Synagis (in another room), Anastasia calmed down a little. But when the nurse came back and put the two needles down on the exam table, Anastasia started shaking in fear.
It absolutely broke my heart.
Then she started crying, and it took all my strength to hold her down for the two shots...one in each thigh.
She cried all the way to the car, then settled down a bit when she got in her car seat. I handed her a chocolate graham cracker, and she smiled just a little. Ten minutes later, all was back to normal, thank goodness.
I really don't think she's getting "I should be worried" vibes from her daddy or me; we always behave as if nothing special is going on, and Anastasia doesn't start getting worried until she sees the clinic. I wish there was a way to reassure and calm her. As she shook from fear, I thought I'd just die.
On the way home, my thoughts ran to the increasing number of parents who aren't vaccinating their children because they hate seeing them suffer through the shots. (The vaccines most kids get really don't hurt beyond the needle prick.) Some parents believe that vaccines can cause health problems - even though the risk of bad side effects is much less than getting the disease the baby is being vaccinated against. Other parents have told me: "That's just an awful lot of needles for one little baby."
Everyone does what they feel is best for their child, but may I take a moment and tell you what I discovered when I looked at my mother's baby book? She was born in the 1930s, before children got most vaccines. Before she reached preschool age, she suffered from croup, pneumonia, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, pneumonia again, chicken pox, and measles again. The latter was particularly dangerous; she lost 10 lbs and had an extremely high fever.
That's an awful lot of serious illness for one little baby.
The sad thing is, these diseases are on the rise in America now, because an increasing number of children aren't being vaccinated...
I'll step off my soapbox now...
The evening after Anastasia's RSV shot, she struggled to have a bowel movement, but was unable to. So I had to administer some Fleet (an enema). She cried big tears when she saw it coming, then struggled greatly as the BM finally came out. It was huge.
The poor dear. It was such a difficult day for her.
Then this morning, she vomited up about half her breakfast. She's been doing this the past three or four days. It could be she's catching her daddy's cold (he felt nauseated at first), but I suspect it's her reflux rearing it's head again. It may be time to up her dose of Prevacid.
February 6, 2007
A couple of you emailed and asked how much Anastasia weighed at the clinic. I was so busy telling you our woeful tale, I forgot to mention that! :) Anastasia was 5 oz. more than she was last month when they weighed her. On their scale, that made her 20 lb. 7 oz. I'll be weighing Anastasia on our scale later today.
We finally switched Miss A. to her new car seat. The old one was also an infant carrier, and while it was perfect for bringing a small baby home, it had become quite a struggle to get her into the thing. It was just too small. So now she's in the Britax Decathalon we bought her before Christmas (at a considerable savings on eBay). We joke that it's her throne...and the seat lives up to that description. Anastasia seems to love it. For one thing, she's fascinated by everything now that she can see it better while riding forward. And for another, she strokes the pretty pink fabric and stares at it affectionately!
And speaking of noticing everything...This weekend I bought Anastasia a new board book. (New to her, anyway. I found it, looking brand-spanking new, at Goodwill.) I cleaned it for germs, then laid it on the floor next to some other books. As soon as Anastasia entered that room, she went right for the new book, studied the cover, looked over the first couple of pages, then handed it to me. (Her way of saying: "Read this, please!")
February 7, 2007
Last night I was up with Anastasia repeatedly. She kept waking and fussing, and finally I noticed that her forehead was hot. Sure enough, she had a temperature of 100.2 F. Around 4 am, I gave her some Tylenol, then rocked her for about an hour. This morning she shows no signs of not feeling well...at least at this point. I'm watching her closely for any signs of RSV, but so far the fever has been her only symptom.
The good news is that yesterday I weighed Anastasia and she was 20 lbs. 7 1/2 oz. on our scale. According to WIC (Women, Infants, and Children, an agency that helps us with Anastasia's expensive Pediasure), this puts Anastasia in the 50th percentile for her corrected age. Just fabulous! That means she's "average" for a 14 1/2 month old child. I didn't ask how she looked for her chronological age (18 months) because I was so delighted that she's done so much catching up in the past few months.
The nutritionist I spoke to at WIC was also busy asking me what Anastasia's "diagnosis" was. I had fun telling her that other than some reflux, she's just a bit delayed - no special diagnosis for her! Then she asked if Anastasia took all her food orally. It took me a moment to realize she thought Anastasia must have a g-tube.
We are really so blessed that Anastasia is doing so very, very well.
February 8, 2007
Well, Anastasia is still running a fever if I don't give her Tylenol regularly, and she's definitely more tired and cranky than usual. She also has just a little bit of a runny nose. The good news is that she's not any worse today than she was yesterday.
Other good news: Two days ago, I switched Anastasia to a regular bottle nipple. Since the early spring of 2006, she's been using a preemie nipple (which enabled her to get milk even with a very weak suck). But, beginning a few days ago, as she drank she was now collapsing that nipple. (I think the sippy cup has encouraged her suck to become stronger.) So far, she's doing just as well on the regular baby nipple as she used to do with the preemie nipple. Woo-hoo! Another preemie thing gone bye-bye!
Anastasia is also speaking frequently with her mouth closed. She now says "uh-oh" - but with her mouth shut. Yesterday, as I read her the book Thank You Prayer, she started saying "amen" with her mouth shut. The funny thing is, we understand her perfectly!
February 10, 2007
Yesterday was a tough. I'd try to vacuum, and Anastasia would cry. I'd rock her, and Anastasia would cry. I'd change her diaper, and Anastasia would cry and fight me. By mid-day, I was in tears. (No doubt in part because I was already tired and fighting a bug of some kind, too.)
The only reprieve was when I bundled her up and we took a long walk. Ahhh....
Today, Anastasia's doing great. Her fever is finally gone, and she's quite cheerful.
And I have crocus blooming in my garden, which is (I'm certain) God's way of reminding me that winter won't last forever. Soon it will be summer, we won't be sequestered any more, and I'll remark how fast time flies...
February 11, 2007
Lately, when I wake up to feed Miss A. around midnight, I tend to have trouble getting back to sleep. (And it's not that I'm not exhausted!) This is one of those nights, so I thought I'd update the website while I was up.
I've been meaning to tell you about a conversation I had with a certain book editor. He was talking about My Baby Sister is a Preemie, which is a picture book designed for big brothers or sisters of premature babies. "Everyone seems to love the book," he said, "but I'm having a hard time keeping it in print. Sales aren't doing well. It's not an impulse buy, I guess."
I was saddened by this. Truly, parents with a preemie in the hospital don't have the time or presence of mind to even consider there may be books out there that will help siblings of preemies cope with the whole NICU experience. And yet, books like My Baby Sister is a Preemie deserve to be in print. They need to be in print! But, of course, if publishers can't sell them, they will become unavailable.
So I've added My Baby Sister is a Preemie, along with a handful of other children's books about prematurity, to the Recommended Books page. Please consider buying copies for friends or acquaintances who might benefit...or buy a copy for your local NICU.
Speaking of books, one of Anastasia's NICU nurses gave her a copy of Pat the Bunny while she was still in the hospital. Anastasia has pretty much always enjoyed it, but it's been interesting to see how - gradually - she's been able to play with it more and more.
For those who don't know the book, it was the first "touch and feel" book ever published. The child "reading" the book is encouraged to pat a furry bunny, lift a piece of cloth to play peek-a-boo with a little boy, look in a mirror, feel "daddy's scratchy" unshaven face, read a tiny book, smell some flowers, put their finger through a hole that looks like "mummy's ring," and wave goodbye. The first thing Anastasia enjoyed about this book was the mirror. Then she started patting the bunny. Then she liked touching the scratchy face (which is actually sandpaper). Today, she does everything the book asks her to, except sniff the flowers. Her most recent accomplishment has been learning to put her finger through the "ring."
I store the book separate from most of her books, because it isn't a sturdy board book, and is very special because Anastasia's nurse wrote a little note on the back of it. But Anastasia knows where it is and reaches up high to grab it. Then she hands it to me, and as soon as I take it, she starts waving to Paul and Judy, the children in the book.
Darn cute, if you ask me.
February 13, 2007
Anastasia saw her pediatrician yesterday. The doctor noted where Anastasia's still behind developmentally, but she didn't seem too concerned. (Which is good, because we aren't, either!) Anastasia was fascinated by the gadget the doctor used to look at her eyes and ears, but was upset by the stethoscope. From then on, she pushed the doctor away every time she came near.
Then Anastasia got a couple of vaccinations. She cried as soon as she realized she was getting them, but then realized they didn't hurt nearly as much as her RSV shots.
The doctor kept mentioning how Anastasia would be two soon...and I kept thinking, "No, no! She can't be two yet!" Anastasia's babyhood has flown by, and while I suppose all moms get sentimental about this, I'm sad I was too busy fretting about Anastasia's health to enjoy her infancy as much as I "should" have.
This weekend I bought Anastasia this fabulous Leap Frog magnetic alphabet set. (Originally, I just wanted an ordinary magnetic alphabet, but I couldn't find one that was safe for Anastasia's age group. This Leap Frog set is rated for kids as young as two. Besides, it's a much better toy, since you can place a letter in the green and blue box and it tells you what the letter is and what sound it makes.) Anyway, Anastasia loves it. But right now, she's not interested in the sounds the letters make. She just wants to remove every magnet from the fridge and throw it on the floor. I caught this on video, too. If we try to put the magnets back before she's down, she just starts grabbing and throwing at a faster rate :)
In fact, Anastasia's suddenly really interested in throwing everything. She takes every single book off the shelf and tosses it behind her...and as soon as I put them away, she's back at it again. She also loves throwing food off her highchair tray, blocks out of shape sorters...you name it!
I took Anastasia's Valentine's Day photos yesterday. (I want to create a card with her photo on it, from her to her daddy.) I sort of miss the days when I could dress her up and plop her down somewhere and get a bunch of studio-style shots. Nowadays, I plop her down and get the camera focused...and she's crawling off somewhere! Well, this was the best shot:
And here she was last year around Valentine's Day:
February 15, 2007
We had a relaxing Valentine's Day at home. On the 13th, Anastasia opened a Valentine's book from my in-laws, and on the 14th, she opened some presents from my mom. Hubby and I exchanged cards and chocolate, which is exactly what we like to do on V-day. :)
My brother also got married on the 14th. (A big congrats to him and his bride!!!) My poor sis-in-law was induced on the 13th, was sure the baby would be born on Valentine's Day, but has yet to have her baby...
February 19, 2007
First, I want to clarify my last post. Clearly, I was sleep deprived because I made it sound like my brother's bride was induced on her wedding day! In fact, it was my husband's sister who was induced on that day. Alrighty?
This weekend, we traveled about two hours to visit my in-laws. We were hoping to see the new baby, but my sister-in-law (hubby's sister!) still hasn't gone into labor. It was the first time Anastasia's slept overnight anywhere but home or the NICU, and she did extremely well. We brought her playpen with us and she slept in that with one of her stuffed animals and favorite blankets.
She was quiet and reserved the entire time; she's only been to my in-laws house twice before, and one of those times, she was very little. But she got to nap on grandma's lap, and she amused everyone by "feeding" her Big Bird doll. She'd pry open his beak, put a chip in his mouth, and say "Yummmm."
Anastasia seemed relieved to get into her car seat, and on the way home she was a real chatterbox. We were a little surprised by this, because she was actually opening her mouth and babbling, as opposed to talking with her mouth shut, as she commonly does. Then - suddenly - she fell asleep.
On Saturday night my very dear and glorious husband fed Anastasia at midnight so I could sleep through the night for the first time in about 19 months. I took a sleeping pill so I wouldn't automatically wake up, and I slept from 9 pm to 9 am. It was absolutely heavenly!
February 19 (part II)
Preemies have been in the news a lot the past week or so, and I wanted to point out a few especially interesting stories. By now, you've probably all heard about the 24 week preemie whose life was saved by Viagra, but have you heard that the world's smallest preemie is going home? (Born at 21 weeks gestation with a weight of 10 oz.)
I also found this article on music and preemie eating fascinating. According to the source, Florida State University developed a study where preemies were encouraged to keep soothing lullabies going by sucking on a pacifier. This increased their sucking skills, which in turn helped them learn to bottle or breast feed earlier.
February 20, 2007
The Early Intervention physical therapist saw Anastasia today. My dear girl wasn't very cooperative. She's smart, and she recognizes all the PT tricks. Try as the PT might, she could barely get Anastasia to take a few steps. Each time she'd try, Miss A. would either throw herself forward, huddle on the floor and suck her hand, give her "I don't wanna!" cry...or all of the above! Ah well.
I did ask the PT how far behind Anastasia was in her gross motor skills, keeping in mind there's a wide range of "normal" when it comes to learning to walk. The PT said that typically children learn to walk between 10 and 18 months. Given that Anastasia is just 19 months chronological, that's not too bad! (And, of course, many full term, perfectly healthy children walk later than 18 months.)
I've been especially enjoying Anastasia this week. It seems that some mornings she just wakes up more mature, and she had one of those mornings a few days ago. She's growing more expressive, and is definitely going through a "mommy mode" (i.e., she wants lots of cuddles and loves from me). I'm relishing it while it lasts!
February 21, 2007
I'm up late again. I've had several nights of insomnia in a row, but tonight (just when I thought I might actually be able to get to sleep at a decent hour!) a bug is getting the best of me. I have stomach cramps and chills, and rather than keep hubby up with my tossing and turning, I'm trying to occupy myself on the Internet, hoping I won't vomit anytime soon. (And praying that Anastasia doesn't catch whatever I have.)
Not knowing what else to do, I thought I'd Google ideas for playing with Anastasia. We do a lot of "unstructured" play time; sometimes I'm on the floor with Miss A., reading, playing with dolls, stacking blocks while she watches. We alternate this with "alone play." With me in the room, Anastasia will play contentedly all by herself for about 10 minutes at a time. (I know it's time to give her my undivided attention when she pulls up on me and stares into my eyes!)
I admit I frequently get bored with baby games. Maybe I'm just not in touch with my "inner child." But my point is, I'm always on the lookout for something new to play with Miss A.
So I bumped into a Baby Center article on baby games. And as I read it, I found myself feeling a little discouraged.
Hide and seek is a good game for 12 - 16 month olds? Anastasia is 19 month chronological, almost 16 months corrected, and she doesn't even play patty-cake yet.
Tea parties for 16 - 20 month olds? Anastasia just chews on the cups.
Block stacking is perfect for her age group? Anastasia just won't do anything with blocks...except throw them.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm pleased with Anastasia's progress. She's obviously smart (I can say that because I had nothing to do with her braininess!) and is clearly doing a lot of catching up. And I know all children (preemies or full-termers) develop at varying rates. But whenever I read articles like these, I'm always a little shocked at what a child Anastasia's age is "supposed" to be doing.
The good news is that I see Miss A. maturing. Today, I made her Big Bird doll ask for some of the graham cracker she was eating...and she actually fed it to him. Anastasia will often hand me dolls; when I cuddle or kiss them, she smiles and laughs. She's really "getting" this make believe stuff.
Sometimes I worry that I'm not spending enough time playing with Anastasia. Or that we're not playing "educational" games often enough. (Her pediatrician seemed surprised that Anastasia can't point to body parts yet.) But I just don't see any point in pushing things that she's not interested in or not ready for. I would, for example, love to teach Anastasia to put her toys away. I think it's quite do-able for a child her age (although it will be easier once she can walk), and an important thing to teach right off the bat. But try as I might, I can't get Anastasia to cooperate. I think she's just not developmentally ready yet, since she doesn't play games where she puts things in yet. (Example: Putting objects in a bowl. She's great at taking them out and throwing them, though!)
P.S. My sister-in-law finally had her baby! She was born today at a little past midnight, weighing 9 lbs. 2 oz. (And she's my sis-in-law's smallest baby!) CONGRATULATIONS sis- and brother-in-law!
I don't think my sis-in-law would mind my saying that her dear daughter was born unconventionally. She had the opposite problem I had...she couldn't seem to go into labor. The midwife finally broke her water and gave her labor-inducing drugs. After hours of labor, the midwife said she wasn't dilated far enough yet and could use the bathroom if she wanted to. Moments later, the midwife, my mom-in-law, and my grammy-in-law heard her cry out. They threw open the bathroom door...and discovered that my new niece was halfway born! Her head and shoulders were out and delivery was finished on the bathroom floor. Now that's a story for the baby book!
February 22, 2007
Minutes ago, Anastasia pulled herself up on the piano bench, then cruised along it until she got to the piano leg, transferred to the piano leg, then cruised over to the filing cabinet next to it, exploring knobs and textures all along the way. This is the first time she's cruised without us offering an incentive (like a favorite toy), and it's the first time she's transferred from one piece of furniture to another. Yea, Anastasia!
P.S. I'm still feeling lousy, but I'm not sure if it's still a bug, or if I'm just utterly exhausted.
February 23, 2007
I received lots of email after my last two posts. Some wrote to say that you, too, were bored with baby games. (It's nice to know I'm normal!) Others wrote with some ideas about helping Anastasia developmentally. (I appreciate your concern!) But, generally, I'm feeling much better about everything today.
This is largely due to the fact that I got a full night's rest (minus the time it took to feed Miss A. at midnight). Funny how that can make you feel better.
Too, yesterday I opened up the February issue of Scholastic's Parent & Child, and read this: "A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)...[says that] free, unstructured play and parental involvement do far more for children's social, emotional, and cognitive development than overloading their schedules with structured activities." That was God's way of easing my concerns :)
Also, some of you asked if Anastasia will always be behind developmentally. For years, doctors have been saying that preemies catch up by around age two. Today, many doctors are amending that, as it mostly applies to babies born only a few weeks premature. For extreme preemies like Anastasia, it may take considerably longer to catch up. It just depends on the child, and what other medical issues they have. Since Anastasia is one of the fortunate ones with really no other preemie related issues (other than reflux), I imagine she'll be caught up by the time she's school age. But really, she's not that far behind as it is. (Only a few months, and only in some areas of her development.)
Truly, I'm not very worried about it.
Apparently, though, I did have a bug, because now Anastasia appears to have it. She's her usual self, fortunately, and doesn't seem to be suffering the stomach cramps I had; but when I walked into her nursery this morning, the smell just about knocked me over. She'd had diarrhea during the night. Thank goodness we use diapers one size too big, or it would have been everywhere! (That's a good tip for you moms out there; disposable diapers that are just a tad big contain things a whole lot better.)
February 24, 2007
A good friend of mine is participating in the March
of Dimes Walk America this year. And as she did last year, she's doing
this fund-raising in Anastasia's honor. Please consider donating to this
very worthy cause.
February 27, 2007
Here's a chuckle for you: Yesterday, we took Anastasia to the clinic for some physical therapy. It was the first time she'd been there since her old therapist left a few weeks before Christmas. Add to that the fact that she hates PT - and that we had to have her weighed, which she associates with getting painful RSV shots. She wasn't a happy camper. So when we left and approached our car, it perhaps shouldn't have been a surprise when Miss A. said (with her mouth shut, of course): "Amen!"
We really, really liked the therapist Anastasia saw yesterday. She was very kid-friendly, kind, and sweet. She spent a lot of time trying to make friends so that PT wouldn't be as traumatic for Anastasia. And, toward the end, Miss A. did relax a bit. She got down on the floor and explored some, and she had a fabulous time crawling in and out of a small tunnel. (At first, we put her on one end, and her daddy on the other, and - being smart - she just peeked around the edge of the contraption, saw her dad, and crawled to him without actually going through the tunnel. Later, she discovered crawling through the tunnel was actually fun, and she giggled her way back and forth several times.)
The therapist was impressed with everything Anastasia did. She didn't feel any tight or loose muscles, saw that her crawl is normal, was delighted that she pulls up very easily, and thought she looked quite stable overall. Several times, Anastasia stood without assistance, and the therapist noted that her wobbliness was mostly a matter of Anastasia correcting her balance. At one point, Anastasia got on her tippy toes and reached up to grab her daddy's sunglasses. "That's wonderful!" the therapist exclaimed. "A child with ataxia doesn't narrow her base by standing on her tip-toes. She'd expand her base by putting her feet farther apart!" (Remember that Anastasia's original therapist felt she had ataxia...something I never really believed.)
In the end, the therapist said she'd be glad to see Anastasia, but felt her services weren't really necessary. "She might walk a month or two sooner if I see her, but she's going to figure it out on her own, too," she said.
After some thought, my husband and I agreed we'll discontinue PT through the clinic. This eliminates the need for my husband to take time off work, and it also makes Anastasia's life a little less stressful. (Does she need more socialization? Sure, but she'll get that once RSV season is over.) In the meantime, we'll continue to see the Early Intervention therapist at our house, just to hedge our bets.
As I mentioned earlier, the clinic also weighed and measured Anastasia yesterday. She was 20 lbs. 12 oz. and 29 1/2 inches.
Last night, Anastasia gave us another little giggle. She was sitting on my lap when suddenly she said (mouth fully open!): "Tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle!" Over and over again. So, of course, we had to oblige :)
I have, after several experiments, stopped using an alarm clock to wake me at night when it's time to feed Anastasia. Instead, I let my body wake naturally. Sometimes this happens around midnight (old habits die hard), and sometimes it happens around 4 am. Anastasia almost never wakes me for a bottle - which means she ought to sleep fine through the night once I can get her to drink Pediasure during the day. (Any time, Lord! Any time!) Not being awakened by an alarm also makes me feel a little more rested.
This morning, I awoke to find Anastasia jumping in her crib (hand on the railing). When I laid her down, she turned on one of her crib toys and conducted its music. But when I gave her the Prevacid she gets every day for reflux, she tried to talk while it was still in her mouth. This made her gag, and she vomited all over herself and her crib. Fortunately, Anastasia seemed to enjoy getting a bath so early in the day! (She's finally starting to learn that splashing is fun.)
One final note: Yesterday, for the first time, Anastasia picked one of her books off the floor and laid it on top of the books filed in the bookcase. I praised her, although I wondered if it was just an "accident." But this morning, she did it again! She's not placing the books upright on the shelf; she lays them flat. But I'm delighted that she's attempting to put anything away.
February 28, 2007
Here are some of the wonderful developmental things Anastasia is doing...starting yesterday: