Saturday, March 28, 2009

Scattered Thoughts

A few things to share:

  • The McDonald's commercial with the singing fish is quite literally haunting me in my dreams - please make it stop!
  • I have taken a long term subbing job and will be working from April 9th through the end of the school year - more details soon.
  • Since Michael started "crawling" Harper likes to spread toys out along the floor, enticing him to move from one room to the next, like leaving a bread crumb trail for a small woodland creature.
  • Since Michael started crawling he has decided the place he'd most like to be is under a living room end table, playing with power cords. Must increase parental vigilance!
  • I am the "commissioner" for our family/friends NCAA pool. Would you have guessed?
  • I can take a share of the prize money if North Carolina and Louisville meet in the championship game.
  • I both love and loathe spring. Spring = flowers. Spring = muddy dog paws.
  • Is anyone else watching Grey's Anatomy?
  • I'm interested in how people are "arriving" at this blog - if I didn't know you to point you here myself, how did you find me?
And now I'll distract you from the above randomness with a photo of my children!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Explosion

I don't think I write about it too often, but it's no secret that Michael is taking his time catching up to his non-preemie counterparts. Our wonderful physical therapist tells me not to worry, I try not to worry, but of course I still worry at least a little. Especially when I see other babies Michael's age and what they are capable of doing.

I wonder now if Michael has been so busy physically growing that his mind/body haven't concentrated so much on specific skills. . . I don't know if that makes any scientific sense, but it sounds good to me! All of a sudden he seems to be acquiring all sorts of new skills and it is thrilling to watch. Within the last week he has clapped, waved, army-crawled, and made the sign for "more" - all for the first time. I greet each new accomplishment with much outward cheering and much inward relief.

I am going to post a series of videos taken this morning - fully aware that they might only be of interest to my future self and possibly the grandparents. It's a happy day when I manage to catch a skill on video as it happens for the first(ish) time:

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Not Such a Bad Day

Things move at a different pace for us on Wednesdays. That is normally the day that Matt's parents pick Harper up from school and take her to lunch, giving Michael and I a little extra time to relax or run errands, etc. Lately his physical therapist has been coming every other Wednesday and this week was one of those physical therapy days.

I knew Harper was going back to Nana and Dziatku's house to help decorate for Easter, so after the physical therapist came I fed Michael a little something to tide him over and scuttled out to run a couple of quick errands Or so I thought.

As we were driving down a busy street a few miles from our house the entire car began to shake and shudder. Not just the steering wheel, the entire car, it was like being on some sort of awful amusement park ride. I pulled into a Burger King parking lot and stopped to assess the situation.

My car is old-ish, but has served me (us) very well. The milage is not too high, but I have had it for nine years now and it has suffered a bit of wear and tear. I momentarily contemplated trying to drive it to our mechanic, but having a one-year-old in the back seat made me less inclined to take chances on a busy road.

A couple of phone calls later, Michael and I were just hanging out, waiting for both my father-in-law and AAA. Thankfully it was a beautiful day. I stood just outside the car, with the door open, next to Michael's seat. He, now overdue for both lunch and a nap, played contentedly with my car keys (closely supervised, of course) until Mike arrived. As I was securing Michael's car seat in my father-in-law's minivan, the tow truck arrived. And before I knew it the car had been towed and we were safely back at home.

I know I have said before that Michael is a calm and easy-going baby - this is just another instance in which our little man happily rolled with the punches.

We were only without the car, which needed some tune-up work (badly, apparently!), for one day.

I don't know if it was the sunshine, or the fact that we didn't have anywhere we had to be, or Michael being so cooperative, but I was kind of surprised at how calm I felt about the entire situation. Sure it was a pain in the rear, and I wasn't happy about it, but on another day that is the kind of thing that might have made me feel completely unraveled. . .

I wish I could bottle the calm from that afternoon and pull it out for use in future stressful situations.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fresh Air

I started this morning by taking Michael to his one-year check up, I was talking with the doctor about his spitting up (which is not horrible, but something I'd like NOT to see at all in my one-year-old thankyouverymuch) and he urped all over me, right on cue. Thanks, Bud.

Michael's one year stats are impressive, especially considering our doctor's office does not adjust his age:

head circumference: 47.7 cm - 90%
weight: 21.6 lbs - 25-50%
height: 29.5 in - 50%

Not bad for my four pound preemie!

It was a gorgeous day here today and the afternoon went smoothly enough that I figured we could fit in a trip to the park after dinner. I remember last year, going out into the front yard shortly after Michael's homecoming, taking pictures with some of the spring flowers, and I'm not kidding when I say it felt like an ordeal just to take the kids a few feet out the door (Michael's apnea monitor had to travel with us then). I found myself kind of amazed at how easily we could hop into the car and jet down to the park for half an hour without any kind of advanced tactical plan needed. Freedom!


Michael, now with visible teeth!

I love that Harper can now climb ladders with enough confidence that I don't need to hover, she can just go and play - four-year-olds are neat.

Seriously, it's a struggle not to eat him for dinner...

Is it me, or does Harper look like a "big kid" in this picture? And how is it possible we are still an entire year away from kindergarten?

Much to my delight, Michael was happy as a clam in the swing. (Although he's usually happy as a clam, so I shouldn't be surprised.) This will make it very easy to continue to take him to the park.

Four-year-olds are big cheese balls.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sleepwalking

It feels like I've been underwater most of the day today. We're getting ready for Michael's first birthday party this weekend, but there's also a lot of other stuff going on and I have been up way too late at night.

This morning I was so tired that I squirted the conditioner into my hand in the shower and I found myself staring at it for a moment, unable to remember what to do with it. I really wish I were joking.

Harper has been both difficult and hilarious lately, although the hilarity is largely unintentional (the difficult part is purposeful, methinks). If you've read here long then you already know how much I love children's mispronunciations and misunderstandings with the English language. The funny things kids say are among my favorite perks to parenting and/or teaching young children. Recently Harper has had some song lyric mix-ups:

"We learned a new song in school today, the ribbon song. You shake your fingers to the ribbon, your hips to the ribbon. You move stuff to the ribbon!" (That would be the rhythm song.)

"Cradle, cradle, cradle, I made you out of clay. . ." (I guess it makes sense that she wouldn't know the word dreidel.)

She's been having trouble remembering how to say, "humpback whale". It either comes out as "lumpback," or, "hunchback".

She's also having trouble remembering how to clean up her toys and sit in one place to eat a meal. . .

This is the type of mess that occurs nearly every time Harper plays. It is the downside to how well she entertains herself and the reason why we're needing a cleaning up refresher course in these parts.

Monday, March 09, 2009

One Year

Dear Michael,

You are one year old today, which is a pretty good trick, since your birthday was supposed to be in May. . . Your arrival a year ago, nine weeks early, turned our lives upside down in more ways than one. We'd been waiting for you anxiously, but also willing you to stay put and grow bigger just a little longer. You arrived, small but strong, and I was so relieved to see you safe and sound.

Just over four pounds at birth, you needed extra time to grow and learn to do the things that are important for babies - sucking, swallowing, and maintaining your body temperature. You needed time, and special care, and so you spent the first 30 days of your life in the NICU. The day I went home from the hospital, having to leave you behind, was one of the hardest days of my life. I knew you were in wonderful hands, that I could call to check on you anytime, that I would visit you every day, but there are no words to describe the heartache of driving away from that building without you.

When you did come home, in April, I was terrified that you were not ready, that something would go wrong and there wouldn't be a team of nurses and doctors at the ready. But you were just fine. You slept and ate and grew, while Daddy and I stumbled around in a sleep deprived haze for a few weeks. You were small enough that we had to wake you up in the middle of the night to feed you. You loved to be held and any upset could be calmed almost instantly by scooping you up and wrapping you up against my chest. (A year later this is still, mostly, true.)

For any parent or child who might wonder, I can now confidently assure the world that it is possible to love a second baby just as much as a first. I loved you even before you were born and you make my heart grow bigger every day. You are a marvel to me, little man, and I will never grow tired of watching the unfolding of the person you you are becoming.

You are taking your time to learn all the baby tricks like crawling and waving and I find that it is easy to give myself to the anxiety and worry about you. And then you grin your huge grin and remind me that we all do things in our own time and that I should let go of my worry and just enjoy the beautiful baby that you are. You are teaching me a new level of patience, Michael, a lesson I'm sure I have needed to learn. You are helping me appreciate things as they are. You demand that I live in the present.

You are a JOY Michael. Calm and happy. You go with the flow. You have a gentle spirit. You delight in the people who love you, especial Harper, Daddy, and I. The way you quiet when I sing to you, squeal with glee when Daddy walks through the door, laugh at Harper's antics, you remind all of us how to love and appreciate each other. Harper likes to say that you love her best because she can always make you smile. But I think you are already in on the secret of parents' hearts, that it is possible to love many people very, very much.


You are a gift to everyone who knows you. I am so privileged to be your mother. I promise to do my best to help you grow up, if you promise not to do it too quickly.

I love you Michael.

Love,
Mommy

A Year in Photos















(The last one isn't in the usual chair, because I haven't taken that photo yet, but look at the HUGE boy eating finger food!)

Happy Birthday Michael!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Year Ago, Part Four of ?

So amidst the blur of the time I was in the hospital, there are a few moments that stand out more clearly than the others:

  • When I first went to the hospital I went to the one nearest our home, where I was supposed to have Michael. It was there that we realized something was truly wrong, but didn't really know the extent of things yet, only that I'd be spending the night.
  • The next morning, February 11, the doctor doing rounds let us know that they'd decided I needed to be transferred to the larger, downtown hospital, where they were more prepared to deal with complicated pregnancies and preemies. For a brief time we thought they were going to transfer me in a HELICOPTER. My (closely monitored) blood pressure spiked at the mere thought. As it turns out, the flight for life team was in charge of the transfer, but took me (thankfully!) in an ambulance. (Okay, I think my blood pressure goes up just remembering how it felt to think for even a few moments that I would be going anywhere by helicopter.)
  • Once we got settled into the new hospital a doctor came to sit with us, have us sign many consent forms, and basically explained what was wrong as well was everything that could possibly happen - including the possibility that the baby and/or I could die. I think they were trying to make sure that we realized the potential seriousness of the situation. That was a rough night.
  • Another memorable day was the day we "toured" the NICU. I think I was somewhere around 28 weeks. I don't know how you can really be prepared to see all those impossibly tiny babies and monitors and machines. . . And the perfectly lovely nurse who was showing us around and explaining how things worked kept saying, "When your baby this," and, "When your baby that." And it was the phrasing that put me over the edge. And the poor nurse and Matt had to keep going right along as I sat there and quietly cried nearly the entire time she talked to us. It bothered me for days, the way she kept saying, "Your baby. . ." because at that point my water hadn't broken, and I was convinced I would be on bed rest until May, when I would deliver a perfectly healthy full-term baby. I hated her assumption that we would be in the NICU at all.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Year Ago, Part Three of ?

In some ways I wish I'd written much more about our experiences last year. So many of the details allude me now.

It was a year ago today that I started having the regular contractions that led up to Michael's early birth. In the blog entries shortly after he was born I promised to tell his birth story. . . and never did. Now I'm not even sure I can. I am finding it difficult to remember exactly what happened between that Friday morning and Sunday night.

I have a general sense of how that month of bed rest passed - lots of television and computer time, some reading and writing. I needed the distraction and noise of the tv and phone calls. I felt the worst when it was too quiet or I sat too long with my thoughts. One of the worst times was during the first week I was in the hospital and I was wheeled down to get an ultrasound. I was left in the wheelchair, to wait in a hallway, for nearly half an hour. If I'd known to bring a book (which I did the next time) it would have been okay, but just to sit for half an hour with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling/wall/my lap it was very difficult not to panic about the situation we were in - the unknown of it all.

When I look back at the blog entries from February and March of last year I am amazed at how upbeat so many of them seem. Right now when I think of that time I remember how terrifying and awful and lonely it all felt. I feel almost sick to my stomach reading about it, because I remember how desperate I felt, even as I tried to be positive/upbeat when I wrote and talked with people.

I had contractions on and off the entire week before Michael was born. At one point early in the week I was even bounced back to the PICU so Michael could be constantly monitored. I think that was Tuesday, the day I hit the 31 week mark in my pregnancy. I was in the PICU one night and then things quieted enough that I went back to the regular maternity room until late in the week. I had been in the hospital long enough that certain things about it were almost starting to feel like home.

We are almost ready to celebrate Michael's first birthday and he is a beautiful, healthy baby. Someday I think I will be able to celebrate him, without feeling so heavily the weight of the scary experience surrounding his birth. A year later I am thankful and I am also sad. Even as we move forward a piece of me is still grieving the loss of the way things were supposed to be.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mounting Evidence That I am Going Insane

I met a friend for coffee last night, which was a lot of fun, and we stayed way too late just chatting away. As a result I spent most of today being almost deliriously tired.

When we arrived home from picking Harper up at school I repeatedly asked her to check if there was anything for me in her mailbox. I was growing frustrated that she hadn't followed through on my request when she turned to me, exasperated, and said, "Mom, I just don't know what you're talking about!"

And she had every right to be confused, since I was trying to ask her to check her backpack.

Do you think they've already got my name on a room at the asylum?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Cheating

Harper is sick, I'm getting sick, and the February blahs have not left us behind, despite the fact that the calendar says March.

There is a lot going on here right now and, much like with my diaries and journals growing up, I seem to find the least time to write when there is the most to say.

We almost completely bypassed the fact that it is Dr. Seuss' birthday today. But I did manage to read Harper Horton Hatches an Egg before bed.

Back in the early days of this blog, when readership was very low (not that it is skyrocketing now, but whatever) I shared a bit of writing in tribute to Dr. Seuss. It seems appropriate to link there now, three years later. As a bonus, looking back on that post makes me realize, in a new way, that my children really do look alike. I will need to do some more comparison photos soon.