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June 2007


June 4, 2007

I have BIG news! You know how I've been so utterly exhausted I couldn't think straight and was grumpy most of the time? You know how this was because I was still getting up in the middle of the night, preparing a bottle, feeding it to Miss A., and then holding her upright for 10 - 15 minutes so her reflux wouldn't bother her? You know how I was always asking parents and health professionals for tips on how to get Anastasia to take her bottle while actually awake? You know how I've been praying for months that we'd find a way to end night feedings so I could get some rest?

Well this Saturday I didn't give Miss A. her midnight bottle. I accidentally slept through the night. So, first thing in the morning, I gave her a bottle. She only took three ounces, but hey! That was a lot more than she usually takes while awake. Then, after her nap, I gave her another bottle. This time she took four ounces. This means she entirely made up for the bottle she missed in the middle of the night!

Yes, I cried. Then I praised God.

We did the same routine on Sunday, and are continuing with it today. Anastasia is consistently taking the same amount from her bottles...and I'm beginning to feel a bit more like my old self! Miss A. also seems more rested.

It's not like I haven't tried this routine before, mind you. But on Saturday, Anastasia met a 13 month old who was running around everywhere...and periodically drinking from a bottle. It never occurred to me before, but I don't think Anastasia has ever seen a child drink from a bottle! And now, when I give her the morning and afternoon bottle, she is holding it herself...That's a first!

Again, praise God! I feel such relief!

The visit with the 13 month old was great all the way around. Miss A. was fascinated to see the baby moving everywhere, with no caution at all. Several times the little baby toddled over to Anastasia and gave her a big hug (nearly knocking the two of them to the ground). When Miss A. got over her shyness, she tried to love on the baby, too. She doesn't give hugs per se...She just leans toward the person or animal and lays her face on them with a little cooing "Mmmm" sound. But the baby wouldn't hold still long enough for Anastasia to give her a proper love :)

We also bought Anastasia a wading pool this weekend. I had visions of her splashing with delight in it, but the reality was a little different:

Daddy got in the pool first, to show her how fun it was, but when he lifted Miss A. into it, she cried and clung to him for dear life. She reacts almost as badly to baths these days. In the tub, though, giving her a cup and spoon usually makes it all better. You can see we tried that in the pool, too.

Ah well. She looked darn cute in her bathing suit, anyway.

Yesterday, she decided she needed to help me water the flowers. She very seriously took the hose and watered - occasionally putting her hand in the stream.

Right after this photo was taken, she accidentally squirted herself in the face. That was the end of watering for the day.

I also wanted to update you on Anastasia's medications. She's still taking Prevacid for reflux. Once in a while, I forget to give it to her. A few weeks ago, I forgot two days in a row...yet she showed no signs of reflux. So I decided I should see if she'd outgrown the need for the prescription. But on the third day, she visibly started refluxing. So back on the Prevacid she went.

She's also been on Miralax for constipation for about a month now. At first, I thought there was no way it would work because it requires her to drink four ounces of fluid (mixed with the medicine) in a relatively short period of time. It can't be put in milk or Pediasure; it must be juice or water. But apparently, even though she rarely takes that full four ounces, she's getting enough to have an affect. She has gone from having a bowel movement every four days (with the help of an enema) to having a BM every other day - with no help but the daily Miralax. And whereas BMs were painful for her in the past, always accompanied by tears and crying, now Anastasia just gets a surprised look for a few seconds...and it's over.


June 6, 2007

May I ask you to pray about something, if you feel so moved? While Anastasia drank wonderfully from her bottles for about three days, yesterday she took a very minimal amount, and this morning she only took one ounce from her bottle. She hasn't had her second bottle yet, and while she could potentially make up for drinking poorly this morning, it probably isn't likely.

I can't tell you how upsetting this is to me. Of course I will do anything I need to do in order to make sure Miss A. thrives, but I was really just beginning to feel like myself again. I honestly haven't felt well since I first learned I was pregnant with Anastasia...yet suddenly, when I was allowed to sleep through the night, I was feeling so much better.

Yesterday, I told my in-laws yesterday that I thought I was on the verge of having hallucinations due to sleep deprivation...but actually, I think I'd already had one hallucination. One morning when I picked up the mail, I thought I saw a package I'd been waiting for. But by the time I brought the mail inside the house, I couldn't find it. I thought I'd lost it somewhere; I retraced my steps several times, but couldn't find it. Then I checked the garbage, thinking I threw it out with the junk mail. I went through the can three times. I couldn't imagine what I had done with the package, and I felt like a fool for loosing it. Then, two days later, the package arrived at my doorstep.

I'd imagined it all.

So, if you would pray that Anastasia would take enough Pediasure during the day that I can sleep through the night, I would be so appreciative.

In other news, I got the second of my chicken pox vaccinations. The RN who gave it to me said I might not have a reaction this time...but already I have a huge, painful, red hot spot on my arm. It probably didn't help that before I got the shot, I had hives. I've had them for about a week now, but I have no idea what they are from.

The first night, as I tried to think what I may have been exposed to that was different, I figured the banana nut muffin I'd eaten that day was the culprit. This sent me (with a flashlight) into Anastasia's nursery to check her out, since she'd eaten some of the muffin, too. Fortunately, she was just fine.

When the hives persisted, I thought maybe the new brand of sunscreen I was using was to blame. I stopped using sunscreen, and the hives continued. I tried cutting other things from my diet, but nothing seemed to make a difference. I do notice they are worse when I'm outside more. After so long cooped up in the house, am I allergic to the sun?? Ha ha! Possibly, it's a reaction to grass pollen, which is high right now...but I have none of the more common symptoms, like a stuffy nose.

Miss A. continues to mature by leaps and bounds. She is now walking backwards with ease, and readily points to her bellybutton, toes, and feet when asked. She has more trouble indicating her nose, mouth, eyes, and ears, but will sometimes get them right if she's pointing to someone else. If I ask her to point out certain animals in books, she gets most of those right, too.

Also, I had to share this photo with you:

It's not the finest example of photography, but there is a bit of a story behind it. Back in January of this year, I told you about a hat I'd knit Anastasia while I was on bed rest. Of course, once she grew into it, she wouldn't wear it. Every time I'd put it on her, she'd rip it off. Well, as I was sorting through wintery clothes last week, Miss A. ran across that same knitted hat. And what did she do with it? She put it right on her head, and wore it all around the house! I had to get a photo of that...but she was not in the mood to sit still. Thus, the blurry image. :)


June 9, 2007

Last night hubby and I went on our first date in about a year's time. We really haven't had much time alone together for a very long time, so it was a welcome reprieve.

We were a little unsure how this would go over with Miss A. I asked a trusted friend (who's the mommy of a boy Anastasia's age and also has years of experience working professionally with kids) to watch her at our house. I hoped it would be an easy deal: Anastasia was already fed and changed into her pajamas. My friend just had to keep her happy for about an hour, then put her to bed. The rest of the evening, my friend could read or watch TV. Yet Anastasia hadn't seen this person since she was quite little. How would she react to being left with her?

Happily, we were able to arrange a meet and greet the day before. Anastasia spent nearly an hour getting to know her babysitter (she warmed up to her pretty quickly), and then got to spend some time playing with her son. When the little boy first saw Miss A., he hurried to her and hugged her, almost knocking her over. Later, he tried to force feed her a cookie, and then he stuck his finger up her nose (!). It was a great experience.

The next day, I told Anastasia many times that my friend was going to come over "to play with her." Later in the afternoon, I added: "She'll put you to bed tonight. But mommy will give you your bottles." So I like to think Anastasia had a clue what was going on.

When my friend showed up for the evening, Miss A. hid behind my leg a little, but she clearly recognized her babysitter. Then Alexei and I left without any fanfare. I gave Anastasia and hug and a kiss and said: "Bye bye. Have fun playing." We didn't hear any screams as we walked out the door.

When we returned from our date, my friend said Anastasia was "so easy!" She cried no more than a minute after we left, then the two played peek-a-boo. Miss A. would scurry around a corner and peek behind it at her babysitter, then laugh and laugh. Later, my friend read the same book to her about five times over. Then she put Anastasia in her crib. And that was that.

We were so relieved Anastasia took it all so well. What a good experience for her. And how great for us to be able to get away a little!

Now we're preparing to go on an anniversary trip. We'll be taking my in-law's trailer. Part of the time, we'll stay at their home and enjoy local sites. But Anastasia will stay with them two days and one night as Alexei and I travel to the place where we spent our honeymoon. By Sunday, we'll be back at my in-law's to celebrate Father's Day, and that night, we'll be home.

By the way, I'm feeding Anastasia at night again. She took about two ounces on the 6th (the last day I gave her daytime bottles); no where near enough! At first, I was pretty upset at the thought of getting up nights again with her. I cried. Then I released all those negative thoughts, and thanked God that I got to sleep through the night four nights in a row. Alexei and I also came to a deal where he'll get up with Miss A. at least once a week to give me a break.

Those night time feedings (often called "dream feeds") are powerful things. I'm thankful that Anastasia will take her needed Pediasure at those times, but I can't help but wish she'd learn to drink bottles during the day.

A couple of you asked why I couldn't just stop giving her bottles altogether. Wouldn't giving her more solids make up for it? Unfortunately, that won't work for two reasons: 1. Anastasia doesn't get much in the way of fluids during the day, and 2. She doesn't get enough calcium from solid foods to make up for missing bottles of milk or Pediasure.

Ah well. Some day I'll get to sleep through the night every night again...


June 13, 2007

Two little stories about how well developed Anastasia's passive language is (words she understands, but can't yet speak):

Anastasia loves walking in the (unfenced) front yard and on the sidewalk, but I constantly tell her she's not allowed to do so unless she's holding mommy or daddy's hand. Yesterday she was playing in the back yard while I watered plants. I could see she was anxious to go in the front yard, so I tried to get her to help me water. She wasn't interested. So I promised her that as soon as I was done, we'd go into the front yard.

But soon she was wandering up to me, grabbing my hand, and trying to lead me toward the front yard. I kept reminding her of my promise, saying I was almost done.

Well, perhaps a minute later, I see her walking toward the front yard on her own. "No! Stop!" I yelled. She stopped dead in her tracks. "You know you're not allowed to go in the front yard without holding mama's hand. Get back here right now."

She paused a moment, as if considering her options, then backed up until she was in the back yard again. I was impressed (and thankful!) that she understood the concept of rules so well!

Also, several days back, Anastasia finished lunch before hubby and I did. She kept trying to pull things off the table, so I pointed to her sandals (laying nearby) and said: "Why don't you put your sandals on the kitty?"

Anastasia's eyes lit up with the thought; she walked over to her sandals, picked them up, and headed for the cat, who laying on the other side of the room. Miss A. then carefully placed both sandals on his back.

"Oh, very good," I said. "Now why don't you put the sandals on his feet?"

Anastasia had already wandered away, but when I said this, she walked back to the cat, took the sandals off his back (yes, he's lazy), and put them on top of his feet.

Again, I praised her. "Good! Now why don't you put his feet inside the sandals?"

And she did!


June 18, 2007

We had a good time on our trip, and Anastasia got to experience a lot of things. First, she loved being in the trailer. This chair was her favorite spot:

She also loved waking up (toooooo early) to find mommy and daddy in the same room with her. Every morning, we woke to her giggling at us while peeking over the edge of our bed.

We didn't have a play pen or crib that would fit in the trailer, so Anastasia slept on the floor. I thought this was going to be a big hassle. How was I going to get her to stay put? But the first night I put her down on the floor to sleep and she popped up ready to walk around, I said: "No, it's time to go to sleep. Lay down." I laid her back down and walked away. Less than a minute later, she was up again, but this time all I had to say was: "Lay down, Anastasia." And she did! She was asleep moments later.

She had a grand ol' time with her little cousins...sometimes to their chagrin. The 2 1/2 year old really didn't like the fact that Anastasia was following him around everywhere. He kept stretching out his arms to block her from toys. "Not for you!" he'd say. But Anastasia would just point and laugh at him. When the poor boy finally got down for a nap, Miss A. wanted him to play instead. She kept dropping a toy train on him, and when he didn't wake up, she hugged him repeatedly.

Miss A. also spent her first night away from us. We left her with my in-laws for two days and one night. I explained to her: "You're going to stay here and play with grandma and grandpa. Mommy and daddy will be back tomorrow." She knew what I was saying, because she got clingy, and cried when I handed her to grandma. Fortunately, her tears didn't last long. My mom-in-law says she did really well, although twice that first day she pointed to the door and waved bye bye...long after we were gone.

Anastasia also got to experience the beach for the first time. She loved all the sand, found several shells, and seemed to enjoy watching the waves. (We didn't put her in the water, though.) She would have liked to spend more time at the beach I think, but even with a jacket on, she started turning blue...then her whole body began to shake. She doesn't have much fat to insulate her against the cold!



June 20, 2007

We are working on whining.

Anastasia has recently developed the habit of whining when she wants something (especially if she's tired). I've used various tactics to stop this habit, but mostly I tell Miss A.: "Use your words. I don't know what you want. If you use your words, I will know...If you use words, it will be much easier for you. And for everyone!" She usually nods her head in agreement, but so far, no luck getting her to say what she wants.

Anastasia is still reeling from our weekend trip, too. Beginning Sunday and lasting through Tuesday, she was sometimes crawling around. It was surprising to see, since she hasn't crawled in quite some time. I know that sometimes children revert to earlier stages when there have been uneasy changes in their life; perhaps this is why she was crawling. Or, maybe she was just plain tired. When she's very fatigued, she has trouble walking.

She's been sleeping a bit more than usual, also. But mostly, she just seems more engaged with the world. For example, I've been trying to get her to walk up the steps to the slide at the park for a while now. (With my help, of course.) Before our trip, she would shake her head "no" and refuse to even go up the first step. Yet yesterday, she climbed all the steps eagerly.

This morning, she was hungry before breakfast time. Normally, if that happened (it would be rare!) she'd just whine until I offered her some food. But instead, she stretched high and pulled a box of cereal bars off the counter. She opened the box, pulled out a bar in its wrapper, and handed it to me. I opened it for her, and she ate the whole thing.

Being around other children is wonderful for Anastasia's developmental progress :)

Sometimes we get strange looks from the parents of other kids in the park. Lots of children much smaller than Miss A. are running all over the place and playing without help. But Anastasia still needs my help for a lot of things, and instead of inviting herself to play with other kids, she usually hangs back and watches them from a bit of a distance. I'm sure some parents think I'm overbearing, or that something must be wrong with Anastasia. Usually, I don't try to explain to people that she was born 3 1/2 months early and therefore is a little behind developmentally. (Most people don't seem to understand why prematurity leads to developmental delays, anyway...)

Mostly, I just smile boldly at parents giving us odd looks...and they turn away, a little embarrassed.


June 21, 2007

Anastasia did great at the park today. We started on the toddler swing; she stays put very well in it now...even when she forgets to hold on with both hands.

Then, as more kids began trickling into the park, we headed for the slide. At first, all she wanted to do was stand and watch the other kids. A friend took her 11 month old down the smallest of the slides, and when I commented on how well he did, another mom asked our kids' ages. This lady's own child couldn't have been even a year old, but he was walking all over the place, climbing stairs, and going down the small slide all by himself.

I answered: "She's 22 months." The other mom said, "Oh," as if she'd just learned something terrible.

I take this sort of thing in stride. I've never understood the whole competitive mom thing, anyway. But I know many moms of preemies who go home crying, thinking their child is being judged because he or she is behind developmentally.

Anyway, Anastasia climbed the stairs to the slide repeatedly. They're pretty deep, so she needs quite a bit of help. The great thing is that she tries to do it all by herself, pulling herself up with the hand rails. Once she was up the stairs, I'd plop her down at the top of the slide, run down the stairs, and stand off to one side of the slide as I held her and she slid down. The faster she went, the more she laughed.

Finally, she climbed all the way to the top of the play gym and got herself in position to go down a bigger slide. "Are you sure?" I asked. Anastasia laughed. Since there was no way for me to stand to the side of this slide and hold her as she went down, I hesitated. But these are the modern, ultra-safe plastic slides. She wasn't going to go flying off the thing. So I released her, and let her go down by herself. Her eyes got big and she whined just once before I managed to run down the stairs and get to the bottom of the slide. But when I got there, she was sitting on the end of the slide, doing just fine.

What a big girl!


June 24, 2007

In desperation, I posted an open question to the two preemie-related groups I belong to online. Surely, I thought, we aren't the only ones who have a near 2 year old who still needs dream feeds. Surely someone else has gone through this and can offer advice on changing habits away from midnight feedings?

Mostly, my fellow parents of preemies were mute. Some offered ideas that we've already tried. Many suggested feeding her ice cream...I had to tell them that my child is one of those strange human beings who doesn't seem to like it! A great many parents felt Anastasia was getting tons of Pediasure compared to their own children, and I should just cut the midnight feeding for everyone's well-being. Someone suggested asking if there's a supplement Anastasia could take for calcium. One person also suggested freezing Pediasure and shaving off pieces as snacks. I doubt Miss A. will like that last idea (she seems to dislike anything that's frozen), but I'm going to give it a try.

I'm glad we have a feeding clinic appointment coming up soon. This will be my #1 issue to discuss with the folks there!

In the meantime, Anastasia is getting soooooo big! She understands pretty much everything we say (time to start watching your mouth, daddy!), and follows directions very well. (It's time to start teaching her to put away her toys!)

She's also in to everything. (That's my excuse for having a messy house.) She's pushing and turning buttons on every gadget in the house, and is trying to learn to sing "Baa Baa Black Sheep." (Mostly she gets stuck on the word "baa," though.)

She's primarily talking with her mouth shut still, but we can understand some of what she says. For example, she says "all done" (with her mouth shut, mind you) when she's done with a meal. "Uh-oh!" is one of the few things she says with her mouth open. She's started to say it every time the phone rings, which makes me realize I was often saying: "Uh-oh! I better go answer the phone!" Anastasia also says "thank you" and "your welcome" (or sometimes "welcome") quite a bit.


Playing in her sandbox.


This girl LOVES her books!


June 25, 2007

After discussing it with my husband, I've come to a decision: I'm going to stop giving Anastasia her midnight bottle.

The responses I've had from other parents of preemies have been thought-provoking. Most were truly shocked that I was giving dream feeds to a near-2 year old who doesn't wake up in the middle of the night hungry. In the nicest possible way, they told me I was nuts. They pointed out that by continuing with the midnight feed I was:

1. Disrupting Anastasia's sleep and therefore causing her some sleep deprivation. (I already know from past experience that when I don't give her that midnight feed she does seem more rested during the day.)

2. Causing harm to my body.

3. Instilling a very bad habit in my daughter.

I would add to that:

4. Sleep deprivation has become detrimental to everything in my life, since I'm too tired to work, too tired to play, and am grumpy around those I love.

It actually reminds me of when I was struggling with my milk supply. I did everything possible to keep my milk supply up, until I was really going a bit crazy. (Mostly due to the Reglan I was taking to boost my milk supply.) When I finally made the decision to stop pumping for milk, it was such a relief. And Anastasia was none the worse for it. The sky didn't come crashing down.

I hope we'll see a similar result by putting an end to the midnight bottle.

I'll watch closely to make sure Anastasia continues to have plenty of wet diapers (a sign that she's not dehydrated). And I will ask the feeding clinic folks for a calcium supplement. I'll go back to the midnight feeding only if Anastasia becomes dehydrated and there seems no other way around it. I'll also keep giving her one dream feed, right before I go to bed.

I swear I feel better already.

Anastasia tried peanut butter for the first time last night. She ate a little bit, but most of it ended up...well, everywhere but her tummy.

At the top of the park slide.

Anastasia is starting to get adventuresome at the park. Today, for the first time, she walked away from me to explore. And she thought she might try to climb this...


June 28, 2007

Sleeping through the night is still not happening. It's not that Anastasia wants her bottle; it's that she's going through some terrible teething. She wakes up every night crying fitfully, and I get up and give her some Tylenol and Orajel; she hates the taste of the latter, but within ten minutes or so, she's able to go back to sleep. Poor little dear.

During the day, things are going pretty darn well, though. We just had a stellar morning at the park. Anastasia still tends to hang back and observe more than she plays, but she's gradually getting more enthusiastic about joining in on the fun.

There is one seven year old girl who's taken Anastasia under her wing. Today she wanted to let Anastasia sit on her lap while she went down the toddler slide. Very sweet. Later, when another little girl thought Anastasia was getting too close and said to the seven year old: "What's she doing here?" The 7 year old replied: "She's my friend." I wanted to kiss her :)

Earlier in the week a two year old boy pushed Anastasia to the ground. (I think he thought Miss A. wanted his toy.) Anastasia didn't cry...She just looked confused. The boy's mother made him apologize, and afterwards, he was pretty friendly.

That same day, Anastasia had her first big tumble at the park. She wanted to go down a tiny step from the pavement to the rubber mulch near the slide. Figuring this was a perfect time to let her try stepping down on her own (since the rubber wasn't going to hurt her), I let her do as she pleased. She took quite a tumble, then lay on her side in the mulch a few seconds before saying "Uh oh!" Then she picked herself up.

Yesterday, Anastasia saw a boy smaller than her climbing up some steps on the bigger-kid play gym. She tried to follow him, but got scared on the first step and refused to go any further. But today, she went up those stairs (with lots of help from me) twice, then roamed up and down the stairs on the bigger kid gym several times...even going down steps (again, with lots of help from me). By the end of our stay, she was climbing the toddler stairs by herself (using the hand rail) and going down the preschool slide by herself, too. She's also a pro at the toddler swings (which have a back rest, but nothing in front to hold the child in place).

Anastasia also got up close and personal with a dog for the first time. An acquaintance of ours brought his big, super-kid-friendly lab to the park. He must do it often, because all the little ones ran to the dog immediately. Anastasia was thrilled to see the dog coming, but didn't want to get too close. She blew it kisses from a distance.

I told her that if Mommy or Daddy goes with her to see a dog, it's okay to pet it. Then I picked her up, held her, and showed her how to pet the dog. Then I could hardly get her away from the beast!

This week, we've gone to the park every weekday. It's doing Anastasia a world of good!