Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Game Time

(No fair guessing if you know the answer from talking with me!)

Leave a comment if you care to guess what I used each of these things for today.

They were all used for the exact same purpose.

In no particular order:

baby oil
lemon juice
baking soda
dish detergent (two different varieties)
corn starch

If someone guesses the scenario correctly, there may be a prize!

Guesses due by Thursday, May 1st, at 10 p.m. Good luck.

Monday, April 28, 2008


There are a lot of factors to consider when you decide how many children you'd like to have. To be honest, before we had kids at all, Matt and I thought we'd like a bigger family, maybe three or four kids (go ahead and laugh). Being parents to Harper was different from anything we'd imagined in so many ways (I thought I'd be much better at this mom thing!) and some of our thinking started to shift about what a good size for our family might be. So we hemmed and hawed a bit about the right spacing/timing and number of children to have, ultimately deciding on at least one more. Enter Michael.

There is something both exciting and scary about adding another child to the family dynamic and I knew, in my heart of hearts, that part of the reason I wanted another child was to give Harper a sibling. I know they won't always get along perfectly, but I hope Michael and Harper become close as they grow and end up seeing each other as the blessings we know they are.

Just before this photo, Harper asked Michael to make a silly face.

Here Harper is enacting some kind of scene from The Lion King.

We'll have to work on her propping ability.

Harper is playing "This Little Piggy" with Michael's toes; this may be one of the sweetest things I've ever witnessed.

I have been asked a lot whether Harper is enjoying being a big sister. If she's upset about it, she's only taking it out on us, not on Michael. It is difficult for her right now, because adult attention is in short supply, but she really does love her brother.

On the few occasions we've all been in the car Harper will offer reports from the back seat about what Michael is doing. "His face looks like this!" she'll say, and then squish her eyes shut to show us.

When Michael cries, she'll lean over the pack n' play and say, "Shhh, buddy, don't cry, the big sister is here." She also likes to tell him, "It's okay sweetheart."

Before I settled in to pump (for the millionth time) the other day, I asked Harper if she wanted to bring some toys into the room. "That's okay Mom," she said, "I'll just watch Michael."

I still feel the weight of this adjustment and find myself hanging on by a thread at many points during the day, but watching Harper with her brother makes me feel like our family is exactly as it is supposed to be.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Least I Can Do

. . . is offer some more pictures.

It was just too beautiful not to go outside (the day we took these photos) but sheesh! even getting out into our own front yard for fifteen minutes felt like an ordeal. We're doomed!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

That Time Again

Spring 2006

Spring 2007

Spring 2008

If I want to take this same picture again next year, it looks like I'll need to plant some new daffodils. What happened to them???

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Still Here

My mom left this morning and we are still marching forward.

Matt's mom picked Harper up from school, took her to lunch, and got her to gymnastics tonight as I, apparently, can only manage one child at a time. I am thinking (hoping, praying) this will change -- not the fact that they are willing to help us, but rather my ability to parent both of my children.

Some photos so you know we are, in fact, alive over here:

Harper picked that mask from the Halloween store last October. She was there with Matt while I hosted a book club at our house. She discovered the mask when we were cleaning out closets to get the bedrooms switched. Lovely.

Here's Michael in a photo taken today, six days beyond the one month mark. Something I wished I'd done with Harper was take a monthly photo of her in the same spot to sort of document her growth. Even though I missed one month exactly, I thought I could still make an attempt with Michael. This is probably a terrible thing to say about your child, but when he lays with his arms and legs like that? I can't help but notice a resemblance to a Butterball turkey, if you were getting a turkey to feed only two people.

We had a check with the pediatrician yesterday and Michael now weighs 6 pounds, 2 ounces. So at least he's eating. I can't manage to do much else, but I am managing to fatten up the baby.

Friday, April 11, 2008

How Do People Do This?

Here is the picture of Harper holding Michael for the first time, yesterday morning. Too bad she's not happy about it, huh?

The only reason I have enough energy or time to update this blog at all is that my mom arrived here Wednesday afternoon. Thank the Lord!!!

Let's recap:

Michael comes home Tuesday evening. Matt is home and takes one of the overnight feedings.

Matt leaves for work Wednesday morning.

Nana picks Harper up and takes her to school. She also picks her up from school and takes her to lunch so I can take a little nap while Michael naps.

I feed Michael his 1:00 feeding.

Harper gets into bed for her nap.

I cuddle up to the pump. As soon as I start pumping both children start crying and the "loose lead" alarm on Michael's monitor goes off.

By the time my mom arrives I am basically in hysterics, having resigned myself to the impossibility of one person taking care of two children. Thank goodness I never had twins.

I am pondering ways to get my mother to stay here until Michael turns one. But I think she's leaving on Tuesday.

I have serious reservations about my ability to get anywhere on time, ever again.

Also in doubt:

-my ability to get dinner on the table

-my ability to shower

-my ever feeling rested again

-Harper getting any attention in the next few months

They make it look worth it, don't they?


Back in November we planted a bunch (dozens) of bulbs that are just now starting to come up in the yard. Every day brings new blooms. Harper loves to update me on which ones have, in her words, "bloomed up." She also raises her arms in a circular motion above her head every time she talks about blooming. Today she told me, "Mom, that flower by the porch step bloomed up, it's all made!"

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Great Visit

First of all, Michael is doing just fine. His belly full of gas turned out to be just a belly full of gas and not a predictor of some dire situation. Thank goodness. Other than making him good and mad by halting his feeding for about 18 hours and then s-l-o-w-l-y bringing it back to where it was, he has survived unscathed.

When I went to visit him this morning I found out they had lifted the visitation restriction, put in place during cold and flu season, which meant we could bring Harper to the hospital to meet her brother! She was thrilled to bring along the stuffed dog she purchased for him back in February (when we thought he might be born any day).

But she was even more thrilled just to see Michael in person. She tried to hold his hand and gently pat his head. She exclaimed over how little he is and laughed at every little sound or move he made.

As we walked back through the halls toward the parking garage Harper said, over and over again, "That was a great visit!"

We really will be okay.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Four Weeks

Michael was born four weeks ago today.

He is a blessing and been such a trooper. One day soon (very soon, oh please) he'll be home. And then we can start figuring out how our new family configuration will work. We can find a new rhythm for our family of four all under one roof. It will be difficult and scary, but it has to be better than the past four weeks.

I sometimes feel like I'm just scratching the surface of how I really feel about all of this. About the pregnancy complications and Michael's being born so early, about the back and forth from the hospital and the worry and the uncertainty.

We're supposed to have another month, four more weeks, before he's even born and yet he's four weeks old today.

Four weeks in which I have learned an entire language full of terms I never cared to know about.

Four weeks of late night phone calls to near-strangers to find out how my baby is.

Four weeks of learning to navigate a hospital that was once a maze to me. Now I believe I could lead tours there in my sleep. My feet walk on automatic pilot to the parking garage, the cafeteria, the rooms where the breast pumps are kept. I know what the paintings look like outside the elevators on each floor. I know where I have to wave my hand in front of a sensor to open a door, where I have to push a button, where I just keep walking and the doors open on their own. I know the patterns of the carpet and the tile in too many hallways.

After four weeks of this strangeness, this apartness, I wonder how I'll get to feeling normal again. Stable. Not be holding my breath, ready for some unforeseen disaster to come strolling around the corner. Not need so much help.

I am surprised, stunned, by the random things that upset me.

In the parking garage elevator, a woman complains about how difficult it is to get to the doctors' offices in the hospital. She's says, offhandedly, how she's glad she only has to come once a year. Tears spring to my eyes as I think of the number of times I've been there in a month.

American's Funniest Home Videos is on television tonight and we see a woman reading a card at Christmas, finding out she is going to have another grandchild. I cry thinking of how we'll never make that kind of announcement again.

As I'm rocking Michael this afternoon, careful not to bother his IV or the suction tube keeping his stomach empty, it suddenly occurs to me that we never took a picture when I was pregnant with him. Not one in which you could see that I was pregnant. I remember posing in the kitchen, big-bellied and full of nervous excitement, the morning we went to the hospital to have Harper. No one thinks to hurry up and take that picture when you are only 27 weeks. The nurse notices my tears and leaves me a box of tissues.

I feel like I should say something uplifting now, like how wonderful it is that we got to meet Michael and see his sweet face for all this extra time. . . but mostly I just feel cheated out of the way this should have been.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Plans, They Change

So we were getting all set to bring Michael home on Monday. The plan was that he would come home with a monitor, just to be on the safe side, but we were really getting ready to have him here.

Then I got a phone call from the doctor tonight. The head of the NICU doctor. Were we to make a list of people you prefer not to receive unexpected phone calls from, his name would be very near the top. When he announced himself on the phone I felt as though the floor had been pulled from under me.

But Michael is probably fine. His abdomen was somewhat distended this evening. The nurse was troubled by this and they did some further evaluations. An x-ray revealed nothing more than some extra gas; however, in preemies (all newborns?) excess gas can be a sign of an infection.

The decision was made that he needed to be watched more closely. So back to the NICU Michael has gone. He's also not allowed to eat for the time being (probably at least 24 hours, he'll be soooo mad!), and has won himself a new IV and a tube into his stomach to suction out any extra gas or leftover food. Poor baby. I'm going to go see him in the morning, as usual, and he'll probably be plenty hungry by then. I guess his labs looked okay tonight, but they will do another x-ray and more labs tomorrow and reevaluate things. I guess Michael is just not sure he is ready to say goodbye to the hospital.

He is still growing like a weed and I'm really praying this doesn't set him back too much. He weighed just over 5 lbs. 4 oz. yesterday, when I took these photos. I tried to get another with the cell phone, so you might be able to tell better how he's grown, but it might be too different from the earlier one (which is underneath) to really offer a good comparison.

More wait and see. Which has kind of been the story of these last two months. You'd think it gets easier after a while. . . not so much.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Looking Up

Ready for the latest? Michael is doing well on many fronts. Tuesday night he had another significant desat while eating. He is fine, but the doctors are watching him closely and have said he'll not be coming home until at least Monday. This is going to sound horrible, but that was a huge relief for me. I was really concerned he wasn't ready to come home this week, and apparently Michael felt the same way and decided to communicate that in no uncertain terms! But he's been in a crib since Tuesday night and seems to be holding his temperature well. The doctor doing rounds yesterday told me the desat thing is common because all of a sudden we are asking him to do so many things: drink all his feeding from a bottle, hold his own temp, etc. Man, it's hard work being a baby!

I'm sure it is difficult to get any sense of his size from those photos, but he is looking so big to me these days. Today I just couldn't get over how round his face looked. Michael is on his way to a baby double-chin, can you believe it? My idea of baby size is totally warped right now because his 5 lbs. 3 oz. seem enormous.

It was sunny here yesterday and last night I actually took a couple of hours "off" to attend my book club. The combination of some sunshine and a couple of hours laughing and chatting with women I really like ended up being a huge boost to my mood. Between being tethered to the breast pump and spending several hours a day (most days) at the hospital, it has been a challenge not to be mentally bogged down by everything. It was really a good thing to take a step back last night. There's nothing like discussing fictional characters' issues to get your out of your own head!

And now a picture of Harper's life these days:

When we're home alone together I make her pick toys to play with on the floor of our room while I pump. She's been pretty agreeable about it so far. Harper loves this toy computer Uncle Joe gave her for Christmas. That computer is one of several toys that are easy for her to drag in and out of the bedroom, thank goodness!

I think Harper has decided to re-accept her post as big sister. We were having some "issues" with stuffed animals today (don't ask) and there was a point at which I threatened to just get rid of them. She burst into tears and said, "You have to leave some for Michael!" Sigh. Maybe we'll keep them after all.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

No April Fool

Okay, first of all, I really can't say enough thanks for all the supportive comments, emails and cards/letters I/we have been getting about everything we're going through. I cannot fathom getting through this time without feeling that net of support, both from our nearby friends and family and those who are cheering us on from far away. I am having a terrible time responding appropriately right now, but know that all your words really are helping and are so appreciated.
The best promise I can make is that I will remember how all your reaching out helped us through and I will look for opportunities to "pay it forward."

I think our whole family is a little on edge because I'm having a difficult time right now. I mean we are all having a difficult time, but my difficult time seems to manifest itself in crying jags that last 20 out of 24 hours a day. I think I'm okay, I'm just a crier, and this is hard, so I'm crying even more than usual. I expect it to level out within two months of Michael's homecoming; either that or I'll need to be treated for dehydration.

Here are some pictures of Harper showcasing her best Easter egg. This was the first year we dyed eggs and I'm really sorry we didn't have the camera handy because the look of sheer wonder on her face when she dropped the tablet into the lemon juice and watched the color change. . . it was one of those truly magical moments. Her favorite part was dying the last egg, when we just let her switch it from one color to another and eventually followed her directions to pour the colors together.

I took these photos before she ate that special egg, it seemed like it deserved recording.

(Harper was trying to do all these weird poses for the egg picture. . . she's getting to that age where some of the cute gets lost in her own strange ideas about what she's trying to look like!)

Unfortunately, a few minutes into the eating of said egg, Harper got up to use the bathroom and Rebound finished it off. Harper was sad, but then agreed to eat a nearly-as-lovely pink egg. She told me that next year, when we make all the beautiful eggs, we'd have to send Rebound to the pound until we were finished eating them. She takes her eggs very seriously.


I hadn't posted a new picture of Michael in a while, so I took one today while I was holding him. He looks huge to me! He broke the 5 pound barrier today, weighing 5 lbs., 1/4 oz. this morning. That means he's gained nearly a pound in the last three weeks. He'll be a giant before we know it.