January 3, 2007
Yesterday Anastasia had another RSV shot. It was horrible. The moment we laid her on the exam table to remove her clothes, she started crying at the top of her lungs. Fortunately, once we were out the door, she was back to her usual self. How we all dread those shots!
I also talked with the feeding clinic folks yesterday. They are so pleased with Anastasia's weight (she's in the third percentile on the full-term baby charts) that we can now do weight checks less frequently :) Yesterday at the doctor's office, Anastasia weighed 20 lbs. 3 oz.
While at the doctor's office, I eyed a developmental chart listing what skills a baby typically should have at certain ages. I was struck anew at Anastasia's advanced verbal skills. Of course, right now, pretty much the only thing out of her mouth is "buuuuh-nn" ("button"). Truly, it's making me a little nuts. "Buuuuh-nn" over and over and over again, like a broken record. Except that each time she says it, she uses a different inflection. She's so obsessed with the word, she won't even say "daddy" correctly any more. Now it's "dad-nn." Yet if she's really upset about something, she'll rely on other words, like "mama."
January 7, 2007
My husband has been home all this week, using a little vacation time...that's why I haven't posted much. It's nice having him around; Anastasia is in heaven. :)
Miss A. continues to crawl everywhere, test the strength of the baby gates, chase the (very patient) cat, and pull herself up from time to time. She's also still having a grand ol' time saying "button" constantly. She's eating pretty well, enjoying "new" things like Ravioli and old standbys like YoBaby. I'll be weighing her tomorrow, to make sure she's gaining enough weight.
She's been pretty tired lately. It's still hard for her to take a nap when there are so many things to crawl to and explore. But I'm hoping she grows out of this soon. Right now, she's often in bed by 5:30!
January 8, 2007
Anastasia has taken to doing the sweetest, saddest thing. In the middle of the night, she anticipates my bringing in her bottle, and she'll often sit up in her crib, waiting. But while she waits, she usually falls asleep...and topples over.
Last night, I entered the nursery only to find her sitting, but with her head at her feet, fast asleep. And twice last week, we were awakened by a crash in the nursery, followed by Anastasia crying. (Scared us to death!) We originally thought Anastasia had a nightmare and kicked one of her crib toys, but now we think she was sitting up, then fell asleep, hitting the side of her crib.
And speaking of food, months ago I had to quit giving Anastasia ranch dressing, even though she loved the flavor and it was a good way to add calories to other foods. I noticed that every time she ate it, the dressing left red marks on the skin around her mouth. Yesterday after a meal, I discovered similar marks around her mouth. I'd given her a new food: Cheese Whiz (mixed with refried beans and sour cream). I'd also given her some of that Gerber juice that has yogurt mixed into it...although she'd had that once before.
I compared the ingredients of the juice/yogurt and the Cheese Whiz to the ranch dressing we use, and the only common ingredients were vinegar and garlic, found in both the dressing and the cheese product. So, I suspect the problem is vinegar, but I'm not sure.
I believe the allergy is only on her skin. The red marks seem to appear where the food has been touching her. But I'm not taking any chances that those red marks might be hives. I'll bring this up with Anastasia's pediatrician when we see her in a month or so. In the meantime, no more Cheese Whiz for Anastasia!
January 8 (part II)
This is not the place to discuss politics, but I do want to mention something about the news regarding stem cell research using amniotic fluid. Unfortunately, what the media isn't mentioning is that it isn't 100% safe to remove amniotic fluid from a pregnant woman. It can cause infection, and it can break the amniotic sac, causing PROM. (PROM, or a woman's water breaking early, is what caused Anastasia's early birth.)
I know that doctors say the risks are "only" about 1%, but I know many women who've had preemies due to PROM caused by amniocentesis. Some of their babies died. Others were born premature and have complications varying from mild to severe.
Just a word of caution.
January 9, 2007
Our Early Intervention coordinator came by today; it's the first time she's seen Anastasia since well before Christmas. She was positively delighted with Anastasia's progress. "She's made some real leaps and bounds!" she said.
It's true! Not only is Anastasia crawling and pulling up, but she's standing moments at a time, and trying to stand from a sitting position without pulling up on something. And her whole attitude is more mature now. She's more interactive with her world, more curious about things, and more stubborn about not taking naps. She's truly a toddler!
Our coordinator also got a kick out of Anastasia's constant use of the word "button," said with a wide variety of inflections. She said she'd never seen a child (who knew quite a few other words) do that. But she assured me, this too will pass!
If you'll recall, we lost Anastasia's long-time physical therapist, and we're trying to arrange for a new one at the same clinic. It's not going well.
First, the clinic was supposed to call me to make an appointment. They never did, so I called them. I had to leave a voice mail, and nobody ever got back to me. Grrrrrr. So yesterday I called again; this time I spoke to the lady in charge of scheduling. They only had two appointments even remotely workable for us. One was at 1:00 pm; this would disrupt Anastasia's 12:30 - 1:30 pm nap, as well as her 1:30 pm feeding. So this was definitely out. The other appointment available to us was 3:00 pm. This works well for my husband's schedule, but at 3:00 each day, Anastasia is very tired and just about ready for a nap. Not favorable conditions for physical therapy, which makes her grumpy, anyway!
I made a 3:00 pm appointment anyway, but I may cancel it. If the Early Intervention PT can see Anastasia twice a month, we may just go with that. I hate to leave the clinic; they've done so much good for us, and are very dedicated folks. But...
January 11, 2007
In months past, when friends who had full-term babies would ask how Anastasia was doing, I'd mention she wasn't crawling yet. Inevitably, they'd reply: "Oh, be thankful! When they start crawling, it's such work!"
I'd usually just smile at this remark, but sometimes I'd say: "But crawling is important for a baby's mental development." And my friend would shrug, but continue to roll his or her eyes.
Well, now that Anastasia is crawling all over the place...I am so thankful! Yes, I have to be on constant look-out, and yes, the moment I sit down, I have to hop up and grab her away from something. But I love it! It's such a joy!
For example, yesterday Anastasia was on the floor of
my office while I was trying to dash off a letter to an editor.
(Normally, I put her in the playpen in my office, but she was antsy, so
I wanted to give her a chance to explore.)
I think parents of preemies are given a special blessing. Generally speaking, I think we appreciate our children's milestones so much more than parents of full-termers. Each milestone is precious because often the doctors have told us it will never come, or will come quite late. Each milestone, no matter how small, is such a victory!
January 11 (part II)
Another parent of a preemie wrote in reply to my last post: "Just wait until she's walking!"
That gave me a good chuckle. Indeed, it may be that I'm still in the "honeymoon period."
January 15, 2007
Yesterday, someone on an email list I subscribe to mentioned that their child was diagnosed with infantile anorexia. At first, I was skeptical. How can an infant have the psychology that goes along with anorexia? (A longing for power has sometimes been attached to anorexia, and we all know toddlers love power... But infants???)
Then she linked me to this website on infantile anorexia, which gave me a better understanding of the disorder. Among the notable comments: "Infantile Anorexia [is]...a feeding disorder...characterized by food refusal by the infant with intense conflict in the mother-infant relationship over issues of autonomy, dependency, and control. Occurs after the infant has learned to regulate himself and has established an attachment to the primary caregiver..."
In other words, it's a fancy way of saying the baby won't eat because he's in the midst of a power struggle with mom (or whoever usually feeds him).
I'm not saying Anastasia has infantile anorexia (although I can relate to many of the symptoms), but I thought the whole thing was a good reminder of how complex feeding issues can be.
At this point, Anastasia's eating is okay, I think - unless she's distracted. Distractions usually take the form of another person being present when I try to feed her. (Even her daddy.) Also, she's absolutely refusing to wear a bib most of the time. On a positive note, I've found that if Anastasia eats some of a certain food I'm feeding her, she'll often take a few more bites after she's had a chance to feed herself.
My attempts to wean Anastasia from her midnight bottle haven't worked out well. I've been trying to get her to drink just a little bit of Pediasure (or whole milk, or whatever) with every meal. But she just won't do it. She absolutely refuses even one sip, and will sometimes cry like I'm being mean when I put a cup to her lips. On the other hand, she'll typically drink several ounces of juice, juice with yogurt, or milkshake after her dinner. For some reason, though, she won't drink at other times. (I should clarify that she does sip from her sippy cup all day long, but it takes her all day to even drink half the liquid in it. I can't leave milk in a cup for her all day; it would go bad.)
So, I try to look at the positive side of those late night feedings. They do give me a chance to cuddle with Anastasia (something she's less willing to do now that she can crawl), and admire her sleepy little face.
Anastasia is slowly beginning to like new foods. She loves Chef Boyardee ravioli, and just recently took a likely to their beefaroni. I've also stopped logging her food intake. Believe it or not, ever since her homecoming in December of 2005, I've been keeping a detailed log of every bite she's eaten (or cc or oz. she's drunk). For some reason, it was emotionally difficult for me to stop doing this, but I think we've reached a point where it's no longer helpful.
As for other changes in Anastasia, well...she's just turning more and more into a little girl, rather than a baby. One thing I've noticed is that she loves to share. (I thought babies and toddlers were supposed to hate sharing!) She'll offer her food or her toys to whomever is present. This weekend, she even tried to put her sippy cup in her daddy's mouth. Pretty sweet.
Oh, and my adhesion seems to be much better. For
those of you with adhesions due to C-sections or other abdominal
surgery, I encourage you to try stretching. All you do is lay on your
tummy, then lift your torso with your arms until your arms are fully
extended. You should feel some pulling. Do this once or twice a day. At
first, stretching made the pain even worse, but after a few days, the
pain gradually decreased. At the end of the day, I'm no longer in such
pain that I must sit down. So far, at least, the pain is now just
an minor annoyance.
January 17, 2007
Boy, am I ready for the snow and ice to go away. Anastasia and I haven't been out for a walk since before Christmas, and there seems to be no end in sight to the cold weather. Too, we haven't been getting out for physical therapy, so I feel like a real shut-in.
I spoke with the woman who schedules PT at the clinic Anastasia goes to, and it seems there really isn't a time that works for us at all. They stressed that they have a national search going for a new PT, and that they'll put us on a waiting list. The next time a slot opens that will work for us, they'll give us a call. Sooooo...in the meantime, the Early Intervention PT has agreed to come to our house twice a week. That's great. Although I will miss my friends at the clinic.
I also spoke with the RN who monitors Anastasia's weight and growth. She said again that she was delighted with Anastasia's weight, and that I really only need to call in once a month now. And if Anastasia continues to do well, I'll call in every three months. And if she continues to do well, then probably not at all.
I know I'll have to train my mind to think of Anastasia as a child who's eating fine. After all, we've struggled to get her to eat ever since her NICU days. Tossing out the last of the feeding logs is a first step toward thinking of her eating as normal. I did that yesterday.
But being the mom of a preemie, I've been worried. (We moms of preemies are always worrying about some medical thing.) "I know 16 oz. is considered bare minimum for a baby her age, but she's only getting around 13 oz. a day," I told the nurse. "That's really okay," she said. "Those guidelines for 16 oz. a day are for whole milk - not the more nutritious Pediasure that Anastasia is drinking."
So on all counts, I really should relax about Anastasia's eating.
January 18, 2007
Anastasia still says "button" a hundred times a day, but now she's babbling nonsense words in-between. It's nice to hear something other than "buuuuh-tnnnn." My dad tells me that when I was little, I said "shoe" like a skipping record...so I guess she gets it from her mommy.
Speaking of shoes, I normally don't put them on Anastasia unless we're going outside. (Which hasn't been much, lately!) But it's been so cold that even in our toasty house Anastasia's feet have been cold. So yesterday, I put shoes on her all day long. Boy, was she pleased! She kept looking down and smiling at her shoes, touching them lovingly. And when I put her in the jumper for a bit, at one point she lifted her feet high in the air and stared down at them in awe. This made her spin in gentle circles, like a circus performer. Pretty cute.
For some reason, Anastasia's had a hard time pulling up on the side of the couch, but yesterday she did this repeatedly. In fact, in general she's pulling up more and more. And tumbling down a bit, too. When she falls, she rarely cries. Mostly, her eyes get wide and her little mouth turns into a tiny "O," as if she can't believe the laws of gravity apply to her.
January 18 (part II)
Anastasia had fun with her grandma today. She also did a lot of pulling up and standing. I even managed to catch her standing up on video.
January 19, 2007
Something I don't think I've written about before (mostly because I picture Anastasia reading it - and being mortified - when she's a teenager) is Anastasia's constipation issues. This is a common problem among preemies, and Anastasia is no exception. I'd hoped that once she began crawling, things would improve...but no such luck.
So, I continue to add wheat germ and flax seed to as many foods as possible, try to offer her lots of foods with fiber (even her Pediasure has fiber), and give her prune juice every few days. (The feeding clinic folks would have me give her prune juice every day, but our pediatrician is afraid she'll become dependant on it...so I try to limit its use.)
Even with all that, we are excited if Anastasia has a bowel movement every day. Every two or three days is more typical.
Knowing that, picture this: Today was grocery shopping day. Always a big chore for everyone, since I buy enough food for a couple of weeks. On our way home, as my husband and I were longing to eat dinner and plop down on the couch, Anastasia began whining. This is unusual for her, so I thought she was hungry. I offered her some snacks, and she ate them, but she continued to whine. Then grunt. And grunt. But not have a bowel movement.
Once we got home, she stopped whining and I put her in the highchair. But when I gave her some breaded chicken with catsup to eat while I unloaded groceries, her whining turned to crying. She was trying so hard to poop. And when I thought back on the day, she'd been trying off and on all day long. Now she wouldn't eat, and was so upset, she was tugging on her hair...and getting catsup all over it.
I rushed to finish putting away the groceries, then got Anastasia into the bathtub. She was fine while she bathed, but as soon as she was out of the tub, she was grunting and crying again. I hated to do it, but it was clearly time for an enema.
I use Fleet only as a last resort because I don't want Anastasia dependant on it. Besides, it burns a little bit, and makes me feel like a mean, nasty mommy. (Even though it's for Anastasia's own good.)
When Anastasia saw the Fleet coming, she really started crying and curled up into a little ball. As quickly and as gently as possible, I administered the enema, then fastened up Anastasia's diaper and held her close.
She shakes a little after I give her that stuff, and whimpers, too. Her daddy held her hand, and she squeezed it tight. But within a minute, she was no longer constipated. And she had an enormous poop in her diaper.
I cleaned her up, dressed her, then put her back in the high chair. Exhausted, I put dinner on the table, and we all sat down to eat.
My poor punkin.
January 22, 2007
Anastasia has learned how to lower her crib rail!
For about a week now, I've gently pointed out to my hubby that sometimes when he puts Anastasia down for a nap, he forgets to raise the crib rail. He's been perplexed by this, but making mental notes to be more careful.
Then yesterday he came running into my office to tell me it wasn't his fault Anastasia's crib rail was down. Anastasia, he said, did it herself.
I thought: How on earth could a little baby do that?
Well, my husband showed me how. She grabs the rails at about the middle and pulls in...thus releasing the locking mechanism.
I don't think she's doing this on purpose, although when I said this out loud in front of her, we got a good laugh: Anastasia grinned mischievously and giggled.
Right now, it isn't too big a deal. She can't climb yet. But what happens when she does? We weren't planning on a toddler bed for quite some time...
January 23, 2007
A couple of you wrote asking if I really take Anastasia into the grocery store during RSV season. I can see how you might have that impression from my January 19th post, but the answer is a resounding: "No way!"
As it happens, I don't drive (I know, I know, that needs to change), so we all pack up into the car, and my husband stays with Anastasia in the vehicle while I shop. We follow all the guidelines for children at high risk for RSV, and Anastasia never goes anywhere public unless it's a doctor's appointment. (And even then, my hubby stays with her in the car until the exam room is ready; then I fetch them and we enter through the back door.)
We're looking forward to not being so anti-social this summer. (Can you say cabin fever??? Anastasia and I have been sequestered since she came home from the hospital. Before that, the only place I went was the NICU, and before that I was on bed rest!) My mom even bought us one of those things you put over restaurant high chairs and grocery shopping carts, to help protect the baby from too many germs. I am so ready to use it! But not until RSV season is over...
Oh, and speaking of neat products, I just received this nifty toothbrush for babies. Anastasia loves it! In fact, I have a hard time getting it away from her. This is wonderful, since she still drinks bottles at night (a no-no from a dentistry point of view) and her daddy tends to have bad teeth.
Lovin' her jumper.
January 23 (part II)
One of the blogs I enjoy visiting is Mommy Life, written by author and mom (of 12!), Barbara Curtis. Recently, Barbara held an apron contest, and I tied for 10th place(!). The prize was a copy of one of Barbara's books, The Mommy Survival Guide: Making the Most of the Mommy Years. The thing is, I recently ordered a copy. So I've decided to hold a drawing for the book.
Just email me, telling me about your child or children. (They don't have to be preemies.) You can write an essay, or you can just list their ages. If you're uncomfortable sharing much info, be as generic as you like. Please don't send me your address unless you win the drawing.
At random, I'll choose a winner, and Barbara will mail you a copy of her book. I think you'll like it!
Deadline for entries is January 31st at 8am Pacific Time.
UPDATE: Already some moms-to-be have emailed, asking if they can enter. You bet you can! If you like, tell me if you're having a boy or girl.
January 24, 2007
Yesterday, the Early Intervention physical therapist (now Anastasia's only PT) came out. She hadn't seen Anastasia since before Christmas, and was just delighted with her progress since then. But naturally, she had to push Anastasia's abilities even further by trying to get her to "cruise" along furniture by clinging to it and stepping sideways.
To get Anastasia to take steps has always been pretty impossible. We can manipulate Anastasia's hips, forcing her to take steps, but she almost never volunteers steps.
Yet the PT had her cruising! What's more, she had her stand behind her much-beloved ride-on train and push it!
Anastasia tired out pretty quickly, and we did notice that stepping to the right was no problem, but stepping to the left seemed much more difficult for her.
But I'm so excited! Anastasia's made such amazing progress! Remember, she only started crawling a month ago (at 16 1/2 months of age). And I can never forget how many doctors have told us Anastasia would have a "negative outcome." First, they said she wouldn't survive birth (so "terminate the pregnancy," will ya?). Then they said she'd leave the hospital with severe disabilities. Then they thought she'd go home needing supplemental oxygen. Then they believed she needed a G-tube...
There's no doubt in our minds that our prayers - as well as the prayers of all you readers out there - made it possible for Anastasia to thumb her nose at each and every one of those doctors. :)
January 24 (part II)
I caught Anastasia cruising on video. It's all about putting the right toy out of reach :)
January 26, 2007
Anastasia had her first taste of kitty food last night.
She's been fascinated with it for a while now, but I always manage to catch her just before she grabs the kibble. But not yesterday.
Yesterday, she grabbed a bunch of kibble just as I reached her. I quickly emptied her hands and washed them...and then noticed her chewing.
I'm glad I got it out of her mouth before she swallowed. I guess every kid has to taste pet food at least once in her life...
Yesterday we also saw our Early Intervention coordinator. She was amazed at how well Anastasia is cruising, and was surprised to hear Anastasia say "thank you." (Anastasia's been really into sharing. She offers us her toys, food, sippy cup, whatever. We smile and take whatever is offered, saying "thank you." So now she's taken to repeating "thank you" repeatedly after we say it. Not a bad sentence to add to her vocab!)
I also asked our coordinator if she thought Anastasia ought to be feeding herself using utensils yet. She said Anastasia's at an age where most kids start getting interested in this, but many do not use spoons or forks themselves yet. She also pointed out that since Anastasia's favorite thing isn't food, it may take longer for her to learn to use utensils.
This fall, Anastasia was very interested in using her spoon. I'd fill it with food, and she'd insist on taking the spoon from me and feeding herself. Then she'd let me take the spoon and fill it up again. But she's completely lost interest in this. And she never has learned to feed herself her bottle.
I'm thinking this is mostly a personality issue, though. After all, she can use her sippy cup on her own, and she can use her hands for any number of intricate things (from finger feeding to picking miniscule strands of hair off the floor). But she does seem to prefer it when we hold the sippy cup for her, or if we break up the graham cracker into bite-sized pieces for her to chew on...
January 27, 2007
I can't deny it any longer. I've been making excuses ( "She's so tired from avoiding naps ...plus she's teething!"), but I can't any longer. I think it's finally happened. Anastasia is acting like a toddler.
She's throwing actual temper tantrums when she doesn't get her way. Thankfully, they are short at this point. She's being willful about not wanting me to change her diaper, change her clothes, feed her, move her away from danger spots, move her away from the kitty food...you name it. Screaming is her new vocabulary. Tears are her new best friend.
This is not to say she's worse than any other toddler. In fact, she's much better than many toddlers. It's just that she's learning about her desires - and about power.
Besides, she had to have a strong will in order to survive her difficult birth. I try to remember that as she now showcases her strong-willed personality in other ways...
Yesterday was a stellar day, though. Anastasia pooped twice. (Don't laugh! It almost never happens that often!) And she drank a whole bottle (4 oz.) of Gerber juice with yogurt, plus about another 4 oz. of regular white grape juice. That's an astonishing amount of fluid for her to drink during the day. And she took a little of the juice-yogurt at every meal, which delights me no end. I'm hoping to eventually switch to Pediasure instead of juice, and get her to drink at least 8 oz. during the day. Then I'll no longer have to get up in the middle of the night and feed her a bottle. (Oh happy day!)
P.S. I've been meaning to tell you guys...the other day I walked into Anastasia's nursery to get her up for the morning, and she was standing in her crib conducting the music one of her toys was playing: "The Minute Waltz."
January 29, 2007
There's a story behind the hat you see Anastasia wearing in the photos below.
When I was pregnant, I tried to put my limited knitting ability to use by making some baby clothes, but most of the time I was just too tired to get much accomplished. (I had "placenta drain" really bad.) Then my water broke, and I was stuck on bed rest. So I decided I'd at least knit a hat for my baby, come hell or high water. The hat you see Anastasia wearing (above) was my first effort. When it was complete, I was embarrassed. The hat was big enough for a toddler! (I'd intended it to be newborn size.)
So I tried again, this time using a pattern for a preemie, since by then I knew Anastasia would be born early. The resulting hat made me give up. It was so tiny, no baby could ever wear it! Clearly, in my case, knitting and pregnancy did not go hand in hand.
But as it turns out, that second hat was the perfect size for Miss A. when she was born. And she wore it, too. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of her in it, but I'm tellin' ya, it's too small for a tennis ball....
We went on a walk for the first time since before Christmas! Oh how very nice!
As you can see, Miss A. was much happier tearing the hat off her head than she was wearing it!
Yesterday, during one of Anastasia's tired times, I picked her up and took her to a bookshelf full of board boards. "Pick out a book and I'll read it to you," I said. Anastasia pulled a book off the shelf and handed it to me. I read it, while she studied the pages closely. Then she picked out another book. And other. All that's pretty normal around here, but what surprised me is that I read to her for 25 minutes before she was ready to move on to something else. 25 minutes! That's a pretty amazing attention span!
Speaking of books, I'm in the middle of reading See How They Run, a fun volume about living with toddlers. I really thought Anastasia was pretty much caught up until I started reading this book, but now it seems she's still fairly far behind in some areas. I realize some things she may never take to (like stacking blocks), but I do try to understand what other kids her age are able to do so I can help Anastasia develop new skills. Sometimes it's a little overwhelming when I think of all the catching up she needs to do. But then I think about all the catching up she's already done, and I figure she's done most of the hard stuff already :)
Anastasia is also slowly adding new words to her vocabulary. When we tickle Anastasia we've always said "tickle tickle tickle" as we do it. Well, today when I tickled Miss A. she said "tickle tickle" between giggles.
January 30, 2007
Last night (after I gave Anastasia her midnight bottle and while I held her a while so her reflux wouldn't bother her), I could "see" Anastasia dreaming. First, she rubbed her hands together (as she often does to imitate me using hand sanitizer before picking her up.). Then she picked something out of thin air and placed it in her mouth. Then chewed. Over and over again she ate this "food." (At least I assume it was food. I guess it could have been carpet fuzz. Or kitty kibble.)
It was so sweet, and made me reflect anew at how fast my little baby is growing up.
Her personality is revealing itself in new ways all the time. Although I spend a lot of time playing with her, if I'm writing or reading or something, I know she wants my attention if she pulls up on my knee and stares into my eyes. What a sweetie.
And speaking of getting older, Anastasia tried her hand at a very grown-up task the other day: playing the piano. In the past, Anastasia's been a bit in awe of the piano, and I think a little afraid to play it. But with a little encouragement, I soon had her banging the piano gleefully. She quickly learned that if she reached to the right, the notes got higher, and if she reached to the left, the notes got lower. She preferred the high notes :)