Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The world needs more people like this.

I met an amazing couple while Caleb was in the NICU. I don't know their last name. I doubt I'll ever see them again. But I think about them a lot. They are some of the most amazing people I've ever met.

The mom's name is Camille, and the baby's name was Chloe. Camille was Chloe's biological aunt. Chloe's birth mom (Camille's sister-in-law) realized when she got pregnant that she wasn't ready to be a mom, and Camille and her husband had been trying for nine years to have a baby, so the birth mom offered for them to adopt Chloe. Of course, they were ecstatic.

Then, at the 20-week ultrasound, they found that Chloe's legs weren't developing. She would never be able to walk. Camille and her husband talked about whether or not they still wanted to adopt her. Obviously, it's hard to walk straight into a trial like that. But they were angels and recognized that she was already their baby, and that the inability to walk didn't change anything. They already loved her, and there was no going back.

Then she was born three weeks early, but her lungs were very, very underdeveloped. She was admitted to the NICU. After a few days it was very apparent that there was more wrong with Chloe's little body than just her underdeveloped lungs and her undeveloped legs. She was retaining fluid--swelling up terribly, and not urinating.

It was the same rare, undiagnosed problem as Chloe's other biological aunt who only lived for a few hours after birth.

Camille and her husband were told that Chloe's chance of living was looking dim.

They just wanted the adoption to be finalized. They wanted to look at their daughter and know that she was theirs, that they were parents, as they always wanted to be. They hoped and prayed that she would hold on until she was one week old, when the adoption was set to be finalized in court. Since her condition was so unstable, they didn't dare make the 45-minute drive home at night. They slept on the floor of the Parent's Lounge every night. They ate in the cafeteria. I don't know where they showered.

After another day or two they learned that Chloe was deaf and blind. They were told that she would likely never be able to breathe on her own.

They could have walked away at that point. Chloe's birth mom was considering not signing the adoption papers anyway. But that would have broken their hearts. They loved that baby. They wanted her and needed her.

It was a rough week for Camille and her family. There were lots of ups and downs; some days it looked almost as if Chloe was going to be alright. That made their decision even harder.

The day of the adoption came, and Chloe was made theirs. Their dream came true, and they had a daughter. I saw them that day, and I'm sure I can safely say that it was the best day of their lives.

But the next day, I think it was, they did the hardest thing that anyone could ever do. They had to let their baby girl die. I didn't see them that day, and honestly, I'm glad. I don't think I could have handled it. I imagine that they had their family with them, and Camille sat in a rocking chair and held her baby for the first time, soaking in all of the love, the looks, the memories, the good...and then she let her die peacefully.

They were left alone, just the two of them, as they were when they had started their journey to parenthood. Only, they were left with hefty medical bills. They were left with more pain in their hearts than most people could fathom. But they were left with the knowledge that they were parents--that they had a daughter named Chloe who was more loved than most children in the world. That although she only lived for a week, she would be theirs forever, and no one could take away the title of "Mom" and "Dad."

They are true heroes. They knew what they were getting into by the time the adoption was finalized. Every good parent sacrifices for their children, but Camille and her husband put everything on the line. They will always have an ache in their hearts, but they will always have part of Chloe in their hearts, too, that will make the ache worthwhile.

Camille, if you ever read this, I hope you know that I admire you more than most. I hope to be as loving and giving of a mom as you. I will never forget you or Chloe. I will always remember you as a hero.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I gave Caleb his last bottle of breast milk this morning.

Now I've been replaced by a cow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Party Animals...My little Monkey's first birthday party!

What's this I hear? A party? For ME?!

Is this how it's done?

Oh, that's funny!

Wow. That's cool.

And yummy!

More?!

OoOoOo! What's this fun toy?

Yeah, this is the fun part.

Whoa. That's pretty neat. [This is his favorite present.]

I could get the hang of this.



Hmmm...that looks like fun.

Oh! That's a little yummy!

Let's get a little more of this goodness!

Yummmmm.....!!!!!!

Is there something in my teeth?

Yeah, I'm really enjoying this!

It's everywhere!

Ya want some? [He ended up eating that whole cookie.]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"We need to fight--because babies shouldn't have to"


It's Fight for Preemies Day. One in eight babies in the U.S. is born prematurely. Premature births have increased more than 30 percent since 1981. These are troubling statistics.

Even though Caleb was a micro preemie (born before 28 weeks), his experience in the NICU was textbook perfect, up until it was time to learn how to eat. If he had learned to eat right away, like we half expected based on his pacifier sucking and his good nursing latch, he would have come home around 33 or 34 weeks gestation, weighing less than five pounds. Instead he came home 10 days past his due date (still no complaints there) weighing 8 pounds. I'd much rather, however, worry about Caleb eating than surviving.

I remember saying to my co-workers just days before delivering that in a way I didn't really feel like my pregnancy would actually result in a child. I think I was guarding my emotions because I never really expected to get pregnant at all. If you have low expectations, you can't be disappointed.

It was more of a relief to see my tiny baby laying in his isolette than it was scary. He was about to die inside of me. He could live with the nurses and doctors taking care of him. My body couldn't do it any more. I was infecting him.

I had strange symptoms for at least a month before going into labor (like discharge, contractions, and cervical pain). Looking back, I may have been leaking amniotic fluid. It was the kind of thing that was a little too embarrassing to ask my pregnant friends and when I'd see my doctor I'd forget to ask. I looked into it on-line, and basically everything I found said that it was nothing to worry about. My new policy is: if it's medical, it's not personal. Nothing medical is worth being embarrassed about.

I walked in to labor and delivery in the evening, after a day of not feeling Caleb kick. I felt a nudge in the morning, and then nothing else all day. They tried looking for his heartbeat and couldn't find it. I thought then that I may have lost my baby. They did an ultrasound to find the heart, and it was beating. They monitored his heartbeat, and my contractions, for about 30 minutes until my doctor showed up. In that time his heart rate dropped from about 120 to about 50 or 60, and stayed there for just for a few seconds. They said it was dangerous to drop below 100. I wasn't having any contractions, but my uterus was "distressed." It was slightly tense, and never really relaxed. The doctor said that the heart rate dropping may not actually be anything--they don't normally monitor babies at 27 weeks, so who's to say it's not normal? As he was saying that, the heart rate dropped again. He decided to do an ultrasound.

That's when they saw that I was dilated to 4 cm, 80 percent effaced, and my sack of waters was bulging out and "about to break." And Caleb wasn't moving at all. Not even a twitch. My doctor later said that he'd never in his life seen a fetus move so little. And somehow he was still alive.

And in that story is the real miracle. Why did Caleb stop moving? Only so that he could tell me that something was wrong. He was labeled "feisty" right after birth. And why did his heart rate drop so drastically, not once, but twice--and when the doctor was watching? Only so that he could tell the doctor that there was something wrong.

My placenta was horribly infected, but Caleb wasn't. One more day and he would have been, but at that time he wasn't really in distress enough to stop moving or have heart rate drops.

It was less than 20 hours later that Caleb was born.

I never really felt through my whole 27 weeks of pregnancy that everything was "normal." But I never really felt that anything was abnormal, either.

Here is a short article on what you need to know about preterm labor. Since it is so common, chances are that you or someone you know is pregnant and could be facing the symptoms of preterm labor at some point. If you or any pregnant person you know is experiencing any symptom on the list, don't hesitate in going to the doctor. My symptoms aren't on the list. If you have any feeling that something could be wrong, don't hesitate in going to the doctor. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially when your baby's life could be hanging in the balance.

Spread the word.

We need to fight--because babies shouldn't have to.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

12 Months Old

Someone had a birthday!

(Oh, and in case you haven't figured it out by now, I decided to start using our real names. It's not like you don't know them already. :P I mainly tried to be discreet for the sake of someone else who needs to keep her family's identity private. I'm pretty sure that I won't be putting them in jeopardy, however. But just to be clear, at home we do call each other The Kid, The Boy, and The Girl at times. :) And just because I'm using our real names doesn't mean that I'm going to give out our address or our social security numbers. Sorry.)


At 12 months old (9 months adjusted) Caleb:

  • Weighs 14 lbs 15 oz (3rd percentile)--12 lbs 8 oz more than at birth, and a gain of exactly 3 pounds in the last three months
  • Measures 26.75 inches(10th percentile)--12.25 inches more than at birth
  • Has a head circumference in the 25th percentile
[So, growth has slowed down somewhat, but I guess it's to be expected. He's always been in the 3rd, 25th, and 50th percentiles for weight, height, and head, but three months ago we also discontinued fortifying his milk. And he's still looking good according to his own growth curve.]
  • Wears size 2 diapers
  • Wears size 3-6 month clothing
  • Drinks cow's milk (the doctor said that it was ok, although it would be better to keep him on formula for the nutrition for another three months, but he does waaaaaay better digesting cow's milk than he does formula--to the point where he won't eat at all if he's on formula--so we're just going to have to be ok with cow's milk. Maybe I'll throw a couple of bottles of formula in there every week. But, I have one 2.5 ounce bottle of frozen breastmilk left, and I'm waiting to give it to him until he feels better, so he can keep it down. We'll have a special mommy-baby cuddle session when I feed it to him. I'll probably cry.)
Caleb's milk mustache. He loves the taste of cow's milk.
  • Can crawl with his belly off of the floor for a good few feet

  • Can say "dog," has said "dada" a few times with true intent, and has said "mama" once with true intent
  • Has seven teeth
  • Can wave hello (sometimes)
  • Signs "all done" at the end of every feeding (well, it's more like he's batting the spoon away from his face, but I've been teaching the sign for "all done" and I think it counts)
  • Learned today how to give high-fives (and thinks it's so fun!)
  • Loves taking things out of containers (emptying my purse, to be specific)
  • Can pull himself up on his knees, if there's something short enough to pull himself up on (but he's really not that close to pulling himself up to a stand)
  • Still hasn't figured out how to go from his belly to sitting (he could do it if he tried, he just doesn't know it yet)
  • Still doesn't hold his own bottle
  • Still won't bounce on his legs (he keeps his knees locked, although they are relaxing a bit)
So, he's still delayed with a few things, but not bad enough to be concerned at this point. He's also quite advanced with some things. For instance, a baby isn't expected to say a word other than "mama" and "dada" until they're 11 months old. It seems to me that he's caught up to his actual age vocally and socially, but not physically. Except in using his pincer grasp--he's been doing that for three months now. (Here is a milestone chart.)


Caleb spent his birthday 1) sick, and 2) playing Baby Jesus in our church nativity. It was a traveling nativity, so they set us up in a room and took tours of about 15 people from room to room to show parts of the nativity, and they ended in our room. Nate was Joseph and I was Mary. Since our poor baby wasn't feeling well, he just rested in my arms and we snuggled for a few hours. It was a really good experience. I heard a lot of people crying when they walked in and saw our scene.

What Caleb looks like when sick:
Then:
Now:
Then:
Now:

Caleb with some of his birthday presents:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

One Year Ago

I spend a lot of time thinking about the circumstances under which Caleb was brought into this world so tiny and weak and the 100 days that we spent with him living in the NICU. I can't honestly say that the gravity of the situation has caught up with me at this point. That's why I think about it so much. I still feel like I have an emotional block up, keeping me from fully experiencing what my son went through and how much it changed/s my life. I feel like a zombie. I want to come to terms with it. I think I'll have a major break-down when I do, and that's ok. No baby should have to fight for his or her life, and no parent should have to watch it.

I think a lot about the day he was born; how fast things went, the first time I saw him, how calm I was, and how much my love for my husband grew. The whole world looked different. The weather was beautiful when I walked into labor and delivery--I had my winter coat with me, and I was embarrassed. It was too nice out to need a coat. Two and a half days later, when I was discharged from the hospital and left my baby there, the whole world was covered in ice. The wind was biting. I almost slipped on the way to our front door. Our house was cold and drafty. We hadn't turned the heat on yet. My life was a little more complete, a lot more difficult, and
much more beautiful, but the world was cold and ugly.

Other things didn't matter. How could they, when my baby was on life support? It was surreal. Was I really that strong? I didn't even fall apart, really. The first time I saw Caleb, the nurse was putting an IV in his tiny hand, and had me hold his fingers so she could put the needle in. He pulled away from me, and I let go. I didn't want to break him. The nurse said that I wouldn't hurt him. I was involved from the very beginning, and it didn't bother me that I helped her poke him with a needle. He needed antibiotics so he wouldn't die. Emotions didn't matter when his life was on the line.

Three months later, I was putting a tube down his nose. He would scream, and I would cry. I hated hurting him. I didn't know that motherhood was like that. You should never have to hurt your helpless baby. But I would have done anything to make sure that he grew and developed and didn't get put in the hospital again for failure to thrive.

He sleeps all night, but sometimes I can't fall asleep. I have to think about how he only ate 10 ounces yesterday, and no solids. How Thursday and Friday he vomited until I cried. How his urine output has greatly decreased. How he is always playful, but how yesterday he was cradled in my arms (he never cuddles) and he tried to lift his head, but decided that it was too much work, so he gave up.

Now I have the virus that he's been fighting since Thursday, and I've spent all day in bed. I can't
believe that my little baby has handled it so well. He amazes me. He is so strong. He is always so happy.

Even when I was pregnant with him, he gave me strength. I was a very emotional pregnant person, but thinking about Caleb always made me happy. I realized then that it wasn't fair to depend on my unborn child for my happiness. That was a lot of weight on his shoulders. Some day he might buckle under that weight. He needs to be able to depend on me for his happiness (for now, anyway). But this child must have superhuman strength. He carries me, inspires me, strengthens me in ways that I didn't even know I was weak.

I can't imagine life without him. I'm so glad that things happened how they did (yes, even that he
was born 13 weeks early). I didn't know that I could love this way, and life wouldn't be complete without this kind of love.

Monday, November 8, 2010

World's Best Husband = MINE!

Ok, so I'm not a picky eater, per se, because there aren't a lot of foods that I dislike. The problem lies in the fact that if something doesn't sound good to me, I just can't eat it. I never lost that pregnancy symptom.

I think it bugs my honey.

So last night he presented me with this, written on a piece of paper:

Welcome to Purser-bees
where every Purser bees awesome

Main Courses

Tacos ben dacos--Beef tacos that are muy delicioso. Comes with cheese, beans, sour cream and salsa. Served on your choice of soft or hard tortilla shells.

Pizza Bien--Pizza that is delicious. Served with your choice of toppings on bread, hoagie bread, biscuits, tortillas or whatever else you can think of.

Mambo Italiano Pasta--Pasta that is delicious. Sauces available include white and red. Pasta available includes all sorts of kinds. One of the chef's personal favorites comes with mild or hot Italian sausage.

Stir fry a la wok--Delicious chicken stir fry, I mean chicken stir fry that is delicious. Comes with chicken, veggies and your choice of rice or noodles.

Meal of the Sea--Delicious tilapia with your choice of sides. Baked tilapia comes with your choice of rice or potatoes. Also includes some form of veggies.

Brunch for Dinner--Delicious breakfast food. Not finalized but probably includes the standard hash-browns, bacon, and eggs.



These are the same choices that we come up with every single night, that I never want to eat. But last night?

I chose Tacos ben dacos. They were very muy delicioso. :)

And he made it for me and everything. Then he did the dishes and put away the leftovers.

I think tonight we'll have Meal of the Sea.

And to top it off: The Kid pooped in the bath for the first time last night. The weird part? I didn't even notice. He was clean when I took him out of the tub! The water wasn't dirty, just soapy! (Dove soap makes the water cloudy, so you can't see through it.) Then, when The Boy drained the infant tub, it was very evident. And The Boy cleaned it up. Even with his overactive gag reflex. Sure, he almost threw up (many times), but he still cleaned it. He's so wonderful.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Peace

"For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." (3 Nephi 22:10 and Isaiah 54:10)

I was studying covenants the other day and read this reference. I had never before thought about how God covenanted to give us peace.

The Bible Dictionary defines "covenant" as:
"an agreement between persons or nations; more often between God and man; but in this latter case it is important to notice that the two parties to the agreement do not stand in the relation of independent and equal contractors. God in his good pleasure fixes the terms, which man accepts."

It makes me wonder what we agreed to do in order to receive God's peace. Live like Christ? Endure to the end? Possibly.

And then, to think of the immensity of removing the hills and mountains, which, although a simple task for God, would change the whole face of the earth--the likelihood of that is comparable to the likelihood of God removing His kindness and peace. In my opinion, it's rather unlikely.

And how does that change things for us? We have a responsibility to live up to what God expects of us, and in turn we will be blessed with His kindness and peace. He promised this, as long as we keep up our end of the covenant (which is still a bit of a mystery...if you have ideas, please share). But knowing that we can receive His peace changes everything. We can endure the most difficult of circumstances. Not only that, we can prevail. Conquer. Triumph. We can thrive. Trials can be the most beautiful experiences of our lives. And that changes everything.The view from Caleb's NICU room.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Copy Cat...or Dog

Lately The Kid has been mimicking words that I say. I still don't know if he understands what he's saying, but he appears to understand "dog." He says "da!" when he sees Meggie Dog. He loves her. He's been doing it for a few days now, but today he actually put a "g" on the end. I was quite impressed.

Today he said "dada" many times when pointing to his beloved daddy. He also said "ducky" and uh-oh" in the bath and "baby" when looking in the mirror. Of course, it was more like "duh-y," "uho," and "bayba," but still. Not bad for a kid who's only supposed to be nine months.


This isn't the best representation of what he's been doing, but it's a little taste.
video
And please excuse the mango-face.

I think he's well on his way to being a chatter-mouth. :)

And in other news, I'm fairly certain that he's allergic to food dye. Stink. He's had a nasty cold (probably RSV, but he's handling it very well, so the doctor isn't worried) and I gave him Benadryl (at the doctor's recommendation) and he broke out in hives. Once the hives clear up, I'll be starting to introduce him to cow's milk (since his birthday is next week and I've only got a few day's worth of pumped milk left in the freezer). Hopefully he can digest it alright, or else I'll have to try soy or almond milk. It's clear now that he hates formula. I don't blame him. It smells weird.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Prematurity Awareness Month.

What Miraculous Looks Like:

(and what cute looks like, too):