Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remember When...

Remember when Caleb was 11 days old and he was less than an hour away from getting heart surgery?

When he was one day old he was doing so well breathing and keeping up his oxygen that they took him off of the ventilator.  After almost 24 hours he had to go back on, because it was too much work for him to keep breathing on his own.  About a day later, he was doing so well that they extubated him again.  That time he could only breathe on his own for a few hours before needing to be intubated again.  I remember seeing him struggling to breathe on his own, and wishing they would just put the ventilator back in.  It was painful to watch him like that.  He had quite the nap after being intubated again!  He was so peaceful.

They did multiple chest x-rays a day, and his lungs kept looking fuzzier and fuzzier until one lobe of one of his lungs was almost completely collapsed.

At six days old they did a routine (for early preemies) heart ultrasound that diagnosed him with PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosis).  The Ductus Arteriosis is a duct in the heart that is open during pregnancy to allow the blood to bipass the lungs, because an unborn baby doesn't get oxygen from their own lungs, they get it from their mother.  The duct is supposed to close when a baby takes their first breath, but since Caleb didn't take a breath on his own until he was a whole day old, his duct didn't close.  When the duct is open, it can allow fluid to enter a baby's lungs.  Usually, even when the duct is open, it is closed just enough that a nurse can hear a slight murmur when listening to the heartbeat.  But Caleb's duct was so wide open that there wasn't any friction from the blood passing through to cause a murmur at all.

When the nurse practitioner called me to tell me the news, she said not to worry, it was very common in preemies, and the duct commonly closes with a three-day course of a special type of ibuprofen.  I really wasn't worried at all.

So after the three day treatment was over, they did another heart ultrasound.  It was still wide, wide open (they still couldn't hear a murmur), so they decided that they needed to do surgery.  I was scared, of course.  My little baby was still well under three pounds.  (He didn't hit three pounds until his three-week birthday.)  But I was more excited than anything--I couldn't hold him until he was off of the ventilator, and he couldn't be off of the ventilator until he could breathe on his own, and he couldn't breathe on his own until his lungs were clear and functioning, and his lungs wouldn't be clear and functioning until his PDA was closed.

That day was a Friday.  They couldn't schedule the surgery until Monday morning, so they decided to give him two more days of the medication, because, well, why not?  They were not hopeful at all that the medication would work, because three doses didn't even close it a tiny bit.  But there was no harm in trying.

Sunday night I couldn't stop thinking about how I, myself, had never had surgery, but how my tiny, tiny baby would be getting surgery at just 11 days old.  It seemed so unfair.  I had a hard time watching him go through something that I knew nothing about.  I wanted to feel empathy, but I didn't know how.  So I just felt fear and sadness.

Monday morning rolled around, and we were told to be at the hospital by 7AM to talk to the surgeon before the surgery.  It was a simple surgery, performed right there in the NICU.  Caleb would stay in his isolette the whole time.  For that reason, they had to call every parent in the NICU to tell them that they wouldn't be allowed in the nursery from 7-8AM.

So we stood by Caleb's bed as the surgeon talked to us about the risks.  Infection, which is the number one killer of babies in the NICU.  A cut or strained vocal nerve that helps the vocal cords function and could lead to a very soft, raspy voice and may cause him to need speech therapy.  The scary side effects of anesthesia and having a hard time waking up (and possibly not waking up).  The possible need for a blood transfusion.  For some reason the surgeon felt the need to tell us the exact chances of Caleb contracting HIV from a blood transfusion.  Too bad he had already had two by then (and had a third later that week).

Although the surgery would only need a tiny incision under his left arm that would be so small that they would put a steri-strip over it when it was all said and done, Nate and I were still scared.

So after talking to us about exactly what would happen and exactly what risks were involved, just before ushering us out of the nursery to wait in the Parents' Lounge while they cut open my baby and reached inside of him to place a clamp on a duct in his heart, they did one last heart ultrasound.

And do you know what they saw?

Nothing.

His duct had closed on its own.

And that's when I knew that God loves us enough to provide miracle after miracle after miracle.

By that evening, Caleb's lungs were so clear that they took him off of life support for the last time.  The next day, at 12 days old, I got to hold him for the first time.

It was the happiest moment of my life.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Goin' Shoppin'!

Caleb loves cars.  He loves them more than anything else these days.  He plays with them all of the time.  He uses the space on the entertainment center in front of the TV as a sort of road.  He uses his imagination (which is so fun for me to see!).  This is the conversation that we have many times a day:

Caleb: The red car doing to da store!
Me: Which store?
Caleb: Walmart store.
Me:  What are you going to get at the store?
Caleb:  Kitty cat food!
Me:  Who is going to eat the kitty cat food?
Caleb:...Doggy food!

Well, now when I ask Caleb who will eat the kitty cat food, Caleb can answer, "Captain Hook!"

Meet Captain Hook:




He is a very dark tabby who we "rescued" from the shelter.  He and Caleb have become great friends (Caleb is better with him than I expected!) but he and Meggie are not good friends.  Meggie doesn't mind him, but Captain Hook sure doesn't like Meggie!  He was very easy to litter box train (don't you love that about cats?) and he has taken to sleeping in a box that is tipped over on its side on the stairs at night.  He loves Nate and wants to take his daily nap wherever Nate is.  He's very pretty and rather stinky, even after a thorough bath.  Despite his stinkiness, we think he'll make a nice addition to our family.  :)

This is the conversation that Caleb and I had today while playing with his cars:

Caleb: The big gray truck goin' to da store!
Me: What is the big gray truck going to get at the store?
Caleb: Tummy food!  [That's what he calls the formula that goes through his feeding tube.]

I was so excited to ask Caleb, "who is going to eat the kitty cat food?" and hear him say, "Captain Hook!"  I suppose now that we have a cat we can't depend on Caleb to get the kitty cat food when he goes to the Walmart store.  ;)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Russell is 5 months old!

Where has the time gone?  Seriously, these boys just don't stop getting older!  (It's just getting bigger that we have a problem with!)

At 5 months, Russell:

  • Fits size 0-3 month clothes perfectly except for his arms, which are too long to be covered to the wrist.  Yes, my 5-month-old wears size 0-3 month onesies, pajamas, pants...everything.  We haven't felt the need to get out any 3-6 month clothes yet.  Yep, he's a little bit small.  Look at those ribs!: 
  • Wears size 2 diapers (thankfully he can wear the cheap brand of Huggies...Caleb is allergic to everything but Huggies Little Movers, Huggies Pure & Natural, and Pampers Sensitive.  But then, Russell is allergic to wipes.  Seriously, kids!  If you're gonna have allergies, you should be allergic to the same things!  It would make my life easier!)
  • Is rolling over proficiently.  He actually enjoys being on his tummy now that he has control over it.  He sleeps on his tummy, too, even though I always lay him down on his back
  • Is in some sort of hurry to get places.  Look at him trying to get his knees up under himself!  He hasn't tried to do this since then, but still, I swear he'll be crawling before I know it!


[And notice the bond between the two boys?  Russell loves Caleb, and Caleb loves Baby Russell!  Caleb never, ever, ever holds still for that long unless he's asleep!  He won't even hold still that long while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!  He just really loves his brother.  :)]
  • Sleeps in his own room.  After my sister moved back to the Northwoods, Nate and I decided that it was time to get Russell sleeping better.  So we moved Russell out of the bassinet in our room and into the pack'n'play in his own room.  (This was the first night that Russell learned how to roll onto his tummy, so it was good timing!  He has been sleeping on his tummy from that night on!)  Before that night, teething had ruined him.  He was waking up 5-8 times a night, and the only thing that would comfort him was nursing.  The most sleep I got for those few weeks was while he was nursing.  It was wearing on us all.  So Nate spent the first few nights in Russell's room with him and we set some rules: 1) Russell was not allowed to sleep in bed with Nate. 2) If he woke up more often than every four hours, he wasn't allowed to nurse and Nate had to find ways to comfort him without bringing him in to me (I couldn't be in the same room as him because if he could smell me then all he would want to do is nurse). 3) When Nate brought him to me so I could feed him, I had to set a timer so he wouldn't nurse for more than 20 minutes total.  We had a habit of falling asleep in bed together and I would wake up an hour later to put him back to bed, and he would wake up 30 minutes later to eat again.  The sleep I got was never very good quality, and he used me as a binky.  After a couple weeks of 20 minutes of nursing, I decreased it to 14 minutes.  In a few more days I'll decrease it to 12 minutes, and so on, until he doesn't feel the need to be full during the night and can sleep longer without needing to nurse at all!
  • Goes to bed around 9-10PM and wakes up to eat at about 3AM and 8AM (although sometimes it's more like 1AM, 4AM, & 9AM).  Right after his 8AM feeding we chat for a few minutes and then I put him down for his "morning nap" (I know, it's a lot to expect, but that's how it worked for Caleb and it fits with our lifestyle).  He then sleeps until 11AM or noon, when I feed him again.  Then three hours later I feed him again and put him down for his afternoon nap, around 3PM.  Then he sleeps until about 6PM, when he and Caleb both get up from their naps and we eat and play for three hours and go to bed!  It works for us :)
  • Has a favorite toy:

  • Looooves being held up in the air and kind of shaken.  He also loves it when you make him "dance."  This kid just loves movement!
  • Is getting Caleb's long, dark, curling eyelashes.  YES!  *insert fist-pump here*
  • Finds comfort in holding and chewing on my hair (just like Caleb did) and holding his feet.  Yes, that's right.  When I change his diaper and clothes and he's not happy because he would rather be held, he grabs a foot and holds it (sometimes chews on it) and it calms him down.  Just today he fell asleep playing with his foot and he slept with it in his hands for a good 20 minutes (until he woke up)!  I think it's rather cute.  :)  I just hope he doesn't start sucking on his toes like a thumb...that could turn into quite the gross habit!
  • Does well in the little cheap-o stroller, but boy do I miss our nice Chicco! Just look at that face!  I could eat him up!
  • Sucks on his lower lip off and on for about half an hour when he's done nursing.  It's so nice that he's developed a few self-soothing methods lately!
         
  • Is still super duper ticklish!  And just gets more and more irresistible!:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Caleb is 30 months old!

Can you believe my little boy is two and a half already?  Wow!  At 30 months, Caleb:

  • Finally wears some 18-month clothes!  They still look pretty big on him, but the 12-month clothes are looking a bit small, so we decided to be optimistic and went shopping.  :)  Of course, he still wears a lot of 12-month clothes
  • Is 22 lbs 8 oz.  Two months ago he was 22 lbs 13 oz.  He lost weight.  MAJOR bummer.  He has only gained 1 lb 7 oz in the last six months.  Soooo not cool
  • Wears size 4 diapers and occasionally (once every couple of weeks) shows interest in the potty
  • Talks like a madman!  He says things like, "Mommy, Baby Russell is a little bit sleepy." and "I wanna go outside and ride my blue bike!"
  • Understands everything I say to him
  • May need speech therapy to help him speak more clearly and lower his high, squeaky voice.  I think his brain is just going too fast to be concerned with the little things like saying "truck" instead of "guck."  But it's ok!  He already has a speech therapist coming to our house once a month to work on feeding therapy, so we'll just give it a double whammy
  • Hasn't really made much progress with fine and gross motor skills at all in the past six months.  He just had his IFSP (individual family service plan, through Early Intervention) and he is slightly delayed in these areas, but the bigger concern is that he only improved by about two months in the last six months.  I think it has a lot to do with his size, actually.  Of course he can't jump down from the bottom step...it's really far down, when you're so short!  But a bigger concern is that he can barely pull his pants up when they slip down low on his waist.  And he can't take off his clothes.  And he can barely jump with both feet off of the ground.  Of course, these things aren't going to be life-altering skills, and they will come with time, especially now that I'm aware of them.  But if he needs help to accomplish these little milestones, we welcome it!  So there is a possibility that he will need physical therapy through the school district six months from now when he gets kicked out of early intervention.  But it really depends on how much he progresses in the next six months.
  • Is going to get some help in therapy to work on his attention span.  Thank goodness!  His short attention span is exhausting, and that is one thing (other than eating) that I worry about when he gets older.  If he can't channel his energy towards good things, then he is going to have a really, really hard time in school.  I still don't think he has ADHD, but his feeding therapist says that it's not abnormal in a preemie with brain bleeds, so we'll have to wait and see.  I'm very hopeful that he can use his energy to excel, so I'm excited to have professional help in my efforts to make that happen
  • Is obsessed with cars!  He knows, "Auntie Jenna drive a white car.  Gaylene drive a gray car.  Grandma Grandpa drive a blue car.  Auntie Rissa drive a purple car."  He loves, loves, loves our gray truck!
  • Knows that Daddy's name is Nate and Mommy's name is Anna.  But I think he thinks all Mommies are named Anna, because his best friend, Nash, has a mommy named Anna, too....
  • Can name almost all of the kids in Church nursery
  • Is very good at identifying emotions in others (in person, in books, and on TV)
  • Can sing his whole ABCs.  Sometimes he makes mistakes, but he is capable of doing it flawlessly
  • Loves to sing "Twinkle Star" to keep his mind occupied while playing and while laying awake in his crib
  • Loves his baby brother and gets so happy when Russell smiles at him or reaches for his face
  • Most often requests that Mommy sings "Rock-a-bye Song" (Rock-a-bye Baby).  It's his favorite
  • Is only able to tolerate 6 oz of formula every three hours; less if he eats orally.  If we give him more, he throws up.  Sometimes even if we don't give him more, he still throws up.  Since discovering that he has lost weight, and since he has basically stopped peeing this week, we have added a 3AM feeding.  He now: gets tube fed at 10AM, eats orally at noon with a tube feeding right after, gets tube fed at 3PM, eats orally at 6PM with a tube feeding right after, gets tube fed at 9PM, gets tube fed in his sleep at midnight, and gets tube fed in his sleep at 3AM.  I have two things to say about this: 1) Thank goodness Russell is sleeping at least 7 hours at night, and 2) Thank goodness my kids are cute.  If not for those two things, my life just might be too much
  • Hasn't even come close to climbing out of his crib and will remain in a crib until he does!
  • Is still rear-facing in his car seat
  • Will sporadically make a few loops on a piece of paper, look at his creation, and say, "It's a helicopter!"  When I look at it...yes, yes it does indeed look like a helicopter!  Then he does it again, only this time it's a dolphin, that actually looks sort of like a dolphin, etc.
  • Loves to play the "Word Game."  I write a word using a big marker in our special notebook and then tell him what it says.  And we go on and on.  Apparently this, not learning individual letters in the alphabet, is the beginning of learning how to read.  Letters are too abstract for a young mind, but words are not.  Letters come on their own after words are learned.  Interesting, huh?  Either way, Caleb enjoys our "game," so I'll keep doing it
  • Loves more than anything to spend time outside in our backyard exploring.  He also loves going to the park
  • Has a favorite food: "white chips" (aka, potato chips).  I can feel good about him eating them, too!  They're 9.4 calories per chip!
  • Can identify and name all sorts of dinosaurs...brachiosaurus, t-rex, triceratops...
  • Is so funny and entertaining that I wish I could videotape every second of my day with him so I could catch all of the little things that he does and share them with you.  Unfortunately he has stage fright.  He won't even sing Twinkle Star or his ABCs for the camera.  But I really do wish I could store away memories of every little thing he does and says.  I'm loving this stage of development!

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's National Eosinophil Awareness Week!

Not a lot of people are aware of what eosinophilic disorders are and what they entail.  Here is a short fact sheet with some basic information about each type of eosinophilic disorder (remember, Caleb's sub-type would be under eosinophilic gastroenteritis).  Here is a short video with some information about eosinophilic disorders.  Watch it all.  Those kids will make you cry.  For more information, go to apfed.org.

I wanted to do this post to make you all aware of what Caleb goes through.  Yes, he looks "fine" to those who might pass us in the grocery store.  In many ways, he is "fine."  But for him to eat foods that he is allergic to feels like drinking bleach.  It's like pouring acid on a rash.  That's why he throws up and that's why he would rather starve to death than eat a single bite.  I remember putting breast milk down his NG feeding tube when he was a baby and had just come home from the NICU.  He would squirm, like he was uncomfortable, but he wouldn't cry.  I was causing him intense pain just by feeding him.  I remember when he was just over one year old and he would refuse to eat or drink for days, and then give in to the hunger and eat three jars of baby food, or a whole cup of yogurt.  Immediately afterwards, he would projectile vomit everything back up.

Here is what Caleb is able to eat today, his "safe" foods:

  • Apples
    • applesauce
    • dehydrated apples
    • freeze dried apples
    • apple juice
  • Grapes
    • raisins
    • grape juice
  • Peaches
    • pureed peaches
  • Pears
    • pureed pears
    • pear juice
  • Chicken
    • canned chicken
    • fresh chicken
    • ground chicken
  • Tuna
  • Sweet potatoes
    • pureed sweet potatoes
    • sweet potato fries
    • sweet potato chips
  • White potatoes
    • potato chips
  • Rice
    • rice pasta
    • rice milk
  • canola oil/safflower oil/sunflower oil
    • lots of added calories to his other foods!

He has been having an "off" week.  He won't take more than a few bites of any food at any meal.  He has been sleeping more than normal (goes to bed at 9/9:30 and wakes up at 10:30/10:45).  It's possible that he is reacting to one of the foods that we thought was "safe."  So we're stuck again.  We don't know what's going on or what to do next.

I just learned that another symptom of eosinophilic disorders is leg and joint pain.  I think Caleb is experiencing this.  He will stand at the top of the stairs and cry until I carry him down.  He will run from the driveway half of the way to the front door and then stop and ask to be carried.  He wouldn't take more than about ten steps at Disney World before asking to be carried.

I wish we knew why.  I wish we knew how to take the pain away (in his legs and his digestive system).  I wish we could tell if he was reacting to a food without having to put him under anesthesia and take a biopsy of his small bowel.

I wish he could have fruit snacks at nursery in Church.  Nate and I have decided that we can no longer let him stay in nursery during snack time, because he keeps asking for the foods that the other kids are eating.  Even if he was allowed to eat those foods, he probably wouldn't take more than a bite or two because he doesn't like eating, because eating is associated with pain.  But he still wants to be included.  He is able to identify many, many foods that he isn't allowed to eat (pizza, crackers, cookies, fruit snacks...).  As his parents, it is painful to watch.

I wish we could put him on steroids and allow him to eat anything and everything, but long-term use of steroids is dangerous.  When the time would come for us to take him off of steroids and do more food trials, he would have a hard time giving up the foods that were once allowed.  A month ago he "failed" a trial of green beans, and he still asks for them.  It makes me not want to trial any more foods, because it will just result in heartbreak when he "fails" and is no longer allowed to eat them.  But really, I just want him to be able to eat!  I feel trapped.  Like this will never get better.

I know you all love and care about Caleb and our family.  I can feel it in the support that we get and the kind words that you give.  Thank you so, so much.  It really makes a difference.

Now, I want to let you know a few ways that you can support Caleb and be more aware of what life is like for him and other people with eosinophilic disorders.  Here are a few simple things that you can do every day:
  • Don't eat in front of him unless he is in his high chair and has his own food to eat.  It will just make him curious and jealous if you do.  It's like smoking in front of someone who is trying to quit.  To put it simply, it's cruel and torturous.
  • Don't offer any kids any food without first asking a parent.
  • Pick up after yourself.  If Caleb finds food on the floor at church, he might put it in his mouth.  Not only would it void any food trials we may be doing at the time, but it might make him very sick with stomach pain and vomiting.
  • Teach your kids to be respectful, and be respectful yourself.  If you're curious about Caleb's feeding tube, just ask.  I really don't mind talking about it!  I'll even show you!  Teach your kids to be inclusive, and not to tease people just because they're different.  Caleb may never eat food at school.  He may have to give himself a tube feeding during lunch.  He may eat nothing but an apple and some chips.  There is no excuse for his peers to tease him.  This disease is painful and alienating enough.

Here are a few challenges that I want you to try:
  • Have a party or get together or something where food isn't involved.  Try it just once.  See how it goes.  Our society is so centered on food, but there are ways to have fun without food.  If you think this is too hard, think about how hard it is for Caleb and people like him to have to be around food at every party they ever go to and be expected to have fun without eating any of it.  Think about how hard it will be for Caleb to date some day.  There is only so much bowling and mini golf that a young adult can do.  Having this disease does not condemn him to a life without fun; you CAN have fun without food!  You just don't know it until you are forced to do it.  Take this as a reason.  I dare you.  ;)
  • Try to eat like Caleb.  Yes, that's right.  Limit yourself for at least a day to only the ten foods that Caleb is allowed to eat.  See how hard it is.  See how awful it is to watch everyone around you eating tempting things.  See how hard it can be to run errands without being able to depend on picking up some quick fast food.  We are going to the museum tomorrow and I can't count on stopping at McDonald's for a Happy Meal on our way home.  I have to pack his food, a lot of it on ice, and bring it with me.  It's doable.  We have been doing it for 11 months now!  You can do it for two days.  I believe in you!
  • Let me know how it goes!  I want to hear about how much fun your food-free party was, and how creative you had to get with Caleb's food restrictions.  Just FYI, you can use salt.  :)  And you can use chicken breasts cooked in canola oil, rice, apple slices, and applesauce to make stir fry.  It's actually quite good!  And rice milk, frozen peaches, and grapes make a delicious smoothies.  And you can use rice flour, salt, canola oil, rice milk, and applesauce to make pancakes.  :)
As an inspiration, think of those little kids on the video.  One little girl just wants a piece of birthday cake.  One little boy, not much older than Caleb, would give anything for a piece of pizza.  If thousands of people can do it every day, you can do it for a day or two!

Good luck!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Remember When...

Remember when I got to change Caleb's diaper for the first time?  He was two days old.  It was poopy!

(Beware: this is not edited.  You will see a baby's bum.  No biggie, right?)

Isn't his cry the most heartbreaking thing you've ever heard?

The nurse said not to lift his legs too high, because in a baby that small it could make the blood rush to his head and cause brain damage.  Scary, huh?!

Can you believe that I actually liked changing his diaper back then?  Two and a half years and hundreds of poopy diapers later I'm a little burned out from the diaper-changing thing.  There should be a quota for the maximum number of poopy diapers a mom can change in one day.  Five...six...that's just too many.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Disney World Vacation!: Day 5

Due to a major lack of sleep the night before, I felt like a zombie all day.  Seriously tired.  And we had to get up early to get to the Magic Kingdom.  It was rough.

But once we were there, it was wonderful!  Russell wasn't even cranky!  Caleb must be a bit of an adrenalin junkie, because he loved every single ride!  After each one he would almost cry, saying, "I wanna do it again!"  But after we told him that we were going to go do another ride, he was ok.  I've never had so much fun spoiling my child!  I wish every day could be as magical.

In line for It's a Small World.  
While we were waiting in line (for like 20 minutes) Russell had what I like to call a diaper incident.  Let's just say I'm lucky he was the only one who needed a change of clothes.  He spent the rest of the day in a sleeper. 

The magical look on Caleb's face as he saw the real-life Mickey Mouse and Minnie for the very first time!  I still tear up when I think about it.  This was most certainly my favorite part of the whole trip!

Caleb was a little hesitant to give them "tight squeezes" at first (that's what he calls hugs), but he gave Mickey a high five.  Then he gave them both tight squeezes.  And you do you know what Minnie did?  She gave him a KISS!  Caleb still talks about it to this day.  I think he's in love.

I don't think it was Russell's favorite part, however...who can appreciate Mickey Mouse when they're hungry?

The highlight of Caleb's life.

It's unreal.



Of course we had to buy him a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal to memorialize the experience.  He's pretty attached to that thing.  And his mouse ears.


He later tried to help his Mickey suck his thumb.  Too cute.


We had to get a picture with the Disney Castle.  Caleb gets so excited every time he sees the Disney Castle at the beginning of movies.  He talked about it all of the time before going there.


Then he conked.


They both did.  Caleb with his Mickey Mouse and his ears on, of course.  They both had a nice 2-hour nap.  It made the rest of the day go sooo smoothly!


Afterwards, he was happy to ride in the teacups.


And the carousel.


And the flying elephants.


And look cute.

Right after this picture was taken, Nate took Caleb to a 3D movie where "Donald Duck fall down!"  Again, Caleb still talks about it.  When they came out of the movie, Caleb no longer had his Mickey Mouse ears!  :(    They went back looking for them, but couldn't find them.  We were all heartbroken.

Then we went to the Tiki Room, where they have fake birds singing.  Russell was getting a bit cranky, so I let him gnaw on my finger.  Lo and behold...I made a great discovery!  A TOOTH!  No wonder the most sleep I got the night before happened while B. Russ was eating.

I will always remember that Russell's first tooth was discovered in the Tiki Room at Disney World.

Just before we said goodbye to the place where all of Caleb's dreams came true, we made a stop at the Lost and Found to see if someone had turned in some mouse ears.  They hadn't, but the wonderful "cast member" (yeah, it's cool but still kinda weird that they call their staff that) was sooo kind and wrote us a ticket to redeem some new mouse ears for free!  So we went to get some more before leaving, and Caleb about had a meltdown because I didn't let him get the Minnie Mouse ears instead!  That boy has a serious crush on that pretty little girly mouse!

All in all, it was a magical day.

Remember When...

Remember when I got to feed Caleb for the first time?

He was one or two days old.  I was pumping breast milk for him, and I was only getting a few drops every two hours.  (That's not unusual.)  But guess what?  Caleb only needed a few drops every three hours!

The nurse had a little syringe with three ml of warm breast milk, which is just about half a teaspoon!

She put the end of the syring into his feeding tube (it went through his mouth, down his throat and into his stomach) and said to me, "Would you like to do the honors?"  I said, "Really?!"

She handed me the syringe and I pushed the breast milk down into his tummy.

And that was the first time I fed my baby.

It felt really good to be able to do that.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Disney World Vacation!: Day 4

Wedding day!  Caleb looked so dashing in his tux.  He and his cousin, Danny, were a little bit confused in their roles as ring bearers...they kind of thought they were flower boys.
Those petals are so irresistible for 2-year-old boys!  Thankfully the 6-year-old angel of a flower girl was patient and helpful in keeping them in line.

They made it all of the way down the aisle and climbed the stairs to the top, just like everyone else.  Only, everyone else doesn't have to climb with their arms.  Give the kid a break.  He's short.

And then he came back like a good little boy to sit with us so as not to be a distraction during the ceremony.  This was a relief.  I was worried that I'd have to go chase him down in my heals in front of all of the guests.  But something about wearing a tux made him behave like a little gentleman.

The ceremony was beautiful.  The vows were the most beautiful that I have ever heard.  They made me cry! And I'm a heartless, emotionless, stone of a person, so that's saying something!
My brother looked like Prince Charming and my new sister-in-law looked like a princess!  Perfect for a Disney Wedding.  I can now say that all of the most beautiful women in the world are my sisters!

The reception was amazing in so many ways.  Although there was the delicious food and the fancy venue, I'd have to say that my favorite part was the performing!  My brother and his new wife are both ballet dancers, so their first dance looked like this:
Yep, ballet.  So impressive and fun and unique and entertaining!  

They even took a bow after cutting and eating their cake, which looked like this:
Caleb certainly approved.  He loves WALL-E and EVE.  And thankfully the cake topper didn't break when the table with the cake on it collapsed.  It was all Disney's fault, so they replaced the cake (very quickly, I might add) and gave it to them for free.  How nice!  And how memorable!

They also had choreographed dances for the mother/son dance and the father/daughter dance.  It was quite the production!  So fun!

My sister-in-law changed into her Kimono for the reception.  She grew up in Japan!  They're gonna have some attractive kids, that's for sure!


Russel, the little beau, got to dance with the bride.


Caleb got his dance on, too.

He's come a long way compared to before our trip, when "dancing" was bending at the waist.

 Nate declared that the reception was his most favorite part of the whole trip.  He loved following Caleb around, watching him act like a 2-year-old little man, exploring and having fun.  

Yes, even 2T is too big on my little 2.5-year-old.

At one point he was dancing and he turned around to see the beautiful bridesmaids sitting together at the table.  He stopped dancing, raised his hand next to his face, and waved at them while smiling the most flirtatious smile.

He discovered something new and wonderful: ice.  And the server was kind enough to bring him some grapes, since that was the only thing they had that Caleb could eat and by that point we were running out of food that we had brought for him.


After the typical reception at The Boardwalk, the guests were bused to Epcot where we watched the amazing fireworks from a private patio.  By that point we had two sleeping boys in our arms so we didn't get any pictures.  We tried and tried to wake Caleb up to see the fireworks, but he didn't wake up until they were over half-way through.  He enjoyed the half that he saw, though!  Then we were brought to a private area for a "dessert reception."  It was delish!  Then we were bused back to The Boardwalk where our cars were.    Caleb entertained everyone within earshot on the bus by first pointing out all of the cars he saw ("I see a white car!  I see a red car!  I see another white car!) and second by telling all of his aunts and uncles how smart they are.  "Uncle Wade fart.  Auntie Becca fart."  How can I not be proud of my little boy?  So classy.  So fart.  I mean smart.

We didn't get to bed until 1AM that night.  It was a long, fun, tiring day.  And that night....

...I have one word for you...

TEETHING!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Remember When...

Remember when Caleb opened his eyes for the first time at seven days old?

When Caleb was born, his eyes were still fused shut, like a brand new kitten's.  The doctors told us that 99 percent of 27-weekers are born with their eyes open, so maybe Caleb was actually earlier than 27 weeks.  But I had had an ultrasound at 8 weeks 4 days that determined my exact due date, so I knew he was exactly 27 weeks and 1 day when he was born.  He was also a good size for a 27-weeker.  I grow 'em big.  ;)  I guess he was just in the 1% that have their eyes closed.  Just like Caleb!  Defying the [bad] odds!

From the beginning, Caleb would try and try to open his eyes.  The nurses would put saline drops on his eyelids to keep them moist and hope that it would help them come apart.

He tried!

And tried!

And tried!

I would hover over him for hours (when I knew that he was awake), just hoping that he would open those eyes!

When Caleb was exactly one week old, the neonatologist was by his bedside doing his daily rounds.  He looked down at him and said to the nurse, "Are his eyes still closed?!"  The nurse said, "Yes, he's been trying and trying to open them, but just can't!"  As the nurse looked away for a moment, the doctor bent down close to Caleb.  When the nurse looked back, the doctor said, "LOOK!  They're open!"

[The very first picture of his open eyes, just moments after they opened!]

Sometimes Caleb just needs a little bit of [unofficial] help.

I made it to the NICU about ten minutes after he opened his eyes.  I had really been hoping that I could be there the moment they opened.  How wonderful would it have been if I had been the first thing he saw?

 It took a long time to be able to figure out this open-eyes thing.

 He wasn't coordinated, but that's ok!  He had plenty of time to practice.

Of course he figured it out and now I get to look into his big, beautiful eyes every day!



Saturday, May 5, 2012

We've Still Got It!

 We showed.  We won.  Not bad for an old couple!  (Hank is 23 and I feel old having just had a baby 4 months ago!)  It's been about five years (maybe more) since showing.  I was disappointed in Hank's performance in a few of the events (ummm...hello...it's totally basic to be able to trot without dropping down into a walk.  Lazy horse) but there were a few events where he was PERFECT!  I couldn't have asked for more.
 [Baby pudge.  Ugh.  At least my old show clothes all still fit!]
[Hank was a good sport, putting up with our silly shenanigans.]
[High point!]

It was good practice.  The competition wasn't too fantastic, so next time I expect to do better.  I'm excited to be showing again (and I'm not talkin' about a prego belly)!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Disney World Vacation!: Day 3

Wedding rehearsal!  I finally got to meet my new sister-in-law!  She's probably the sweetest person I've ever met.  Caleb was a ring bearer in the wedding, so he got to practice walking down the aisle holding Olivia's (the flower girl) hand.  Olivia was probably the sweetest little girl I've ever met.  I hope I can raise my children to be as respectful and thoughtful as her.  My nephew, Danny, was the other ring bearer, so the three of them practiced walking down the aisle together, and they did such a great job!

After the rehearsal we got ready for the rehearsal dinner at my brother's house.  It was the first time in eight years that all of my siblings were together, so we had family pictures taken!  Since the last time we were together, there have been four spouses added to the family and four nephews born!  Crazy, huh?

Look at this big wonderful family!  (Don't pay attention to how Russell is the only one who isn't matching.  He had little diaper incident just before this.  Well...a big diaper incident.  A really big diaper incident.)

After the pictures we had the dinner.  I didn't eat.  I spent the whole time in the back bedroom trying, with my mom, to assemble a vest and bow tie for Caleb.  It turns out Men's Warehouse doesn't have tuxedo rentals smaller than size 3T.  Caleb wears size 18 months.  But they do SELL tuxedos that are size 2T, and they cost $20 less than a rental!  But it only comes with a black vest and tie.  So we had to make a vest and tie in the right color.  It would have been a simple task if we hadn't had problems with the fabric fraying...and the thread breaking...and the sewing machine tension going all weird....  So it was quite the ordeal.  But I'm happy to say that we ended up making a PERFECT vest and bow tie!  Well...perfect if you don't look too close.  But as long as Caleb had his tuxedo coat on no one could tell!  It worked out quite well.  :)

And if you ever want to rent a 2T tuxedo, I've got one!  I'll rent it out for $5, if you dry clean it afterwards!  ;)