Friday, December 31, 2010

Big Santa, Big Travels and Big Girl ...

The holiday season is coming to a close and Casey and I have learned a few things during the process...

One: Despite our attempts at keeping Beatrice Kate's perspective realistic, Big Santa came. Four. Separate. Times. When Casey was little, Big Santa (meaning: the really good stuff) came to Pop and Granny's house. For Beatrice Kate, Big Santa visited Grammy Kate's, Mandrake and MiMi's, Grandma's and finally, Grandpa C's (by way of Great Granny's).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Darling ...

Just quick note to say that we hope you are having a wonderful, happy and very Merry Christmas today.

We couldn't have imagined how trying, stressful and blissfully joyful this year was going to be for us. But, regardless of how we got here, we're so happy with where we ended up. We are sure glad that we have each other to lean on and celebrate with.

We're also beyond thankful for each and everyone of our dear family and friends (and faithful blog readers, too!).

We'll be back in a few days with some pictures and summaries of our festivities and Beatrice Kate's first ever Christmas celebration, when the eggnog haze wears off. Any hope that we had of keeping her "grounded" and "family focused" for Christmas has already been hung out to dry by her grandparents...

Now, get off the internet and go finishing decking the halls and opening gifts!

Merry Christmas!
The Raleigh Collins
Casey, Ashley and Beatrice Kate

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Meatatarian Edition ...

How you doin'?
There are three things you need to know about this picture to fully appreciate it:

1) Beatrice Kate started eating meat this weekend. No, not full T-Bones, but pureed beef stews, etc
2) Beatrice Kate prefers to eat all her meals in her doorway jumper (as evidenced here). This sometimes leads to a lot of mess (as seen above). And yes, there is meat cube in her hair, on her face, on her arms, on her legs, on my legs, etc.
3) After an initially rough rejection to the texture, we've now figured out her preferred meat-to-breastmilk ratio and She. Loves. It. Seriously, she is a meat addict now.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Montell Williams Style ...

Apparently, sleep talking is a family thing here at the Collins household. Over the past few weeks, Casey and I have noticed this a lot.

Beatrice Kate makes all kinds of noises in her sleep. It took me a while to be able to discern the difference from "Whahhh, I need you Mommy" from, "Whahh" and back to sleep. She does it frequently. I'll hear her make a short cry or coo and I have to stop myself from launching out of my seat to go and check on her. I've learned, the hard way, that giving her a few minutes after that initial outburst usually allows her to go back to sleep unassisted.

Sleep-talking however, is bigger than just our tiny daughter Casey and I are both frequent offenders.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Stranger Danger ...

After our first NICU follow-up at UNC two weeks ago, it was deemed that Beatrice Kate is healthy enough for some of our quarantine restrictions to be "eased". For instance, we can now go out in public occasionally. Of course, we can't allow people to touch her; but a trip out to the grocery store once-in-a-while shouldn't cause any issues.

So last Wednesday, I had a few coupons and Register Rewards to burn at Walgreens and thought it may make for the perfect outing. I mean, it was the middle of the week, the middle of the day... there couldn't be that many people in the store.

As it turns out- I was both right and I was way, way wrong.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa Baby ...

Somehow, having a baby has turned me into a child myself. I haven't been this excited to celebrate Christmas in a long, long time. In fact, usually, Casey and I both regard the week of Christmas with fear and dread because it signifies the start of a marathon dash between our four sets of families; crammed into too short of a stay. In years past, we've even contemplated not putting up a Christmas tree because we weren't going to be around to enjoy it. We were regular Ebeneezer Scrooges.

This year though, things are waaaaayy different. We have a baby after all, and we need to set the Holiday example. And, set the example we have...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meal Plan Monday: *Yawn* Non-excited about cooking this week ...

I don't know what's going on with me this week but I haven't been this un-excited about menu planning in a long, long time. There were great deals this week at Harris Teeter (I saved as much as I spent!). I'm planning to make my holiday gift baskets filled with baked goods, which normally cheers me up. I'll be sure to post pictures and a re-cap of our 2010 baked goods later this week when I get around to making it all.

I don't know. Maybe it's the weather (rain, rain go away), maybe I'm just tired (Beatrice Kate gave us a 5 a.m. wake-up call this morning), maybe it's this stupid cold I'm trying to fight off (I go out of the house like one time a week and of course, I'm the one who winds up sick!).

But, enough moaning and complaining... life goes on and so must our menu. We've got eat after all. We did really great last week eating what I had planned and I'm hoping we can do the same this week. So, let's have a look at what's on tap:

Letter to my daugther on her 9 month birthday ...

To my little Sweet Pumpkin Baby Bear:

Today you turned 9 months old. Nine months. It's so hard for Mommy to believe that you are this old. In only three short months, you'll be one. I can't believe it. Everyday you are growing and changing. It blows my mind how fast you're growing up.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The other baby in the room...

So, we knew we were destined for life in the NICU once things with my preeclampsia started spinning out of control. We accepted it and were as prepared as we could have been to have a baby, our baby, spend the first weeks of her life connected to monitors, living 45 miles away from us.

There was one aspect though, of NICU living that we neglected to consider. One of the things that is impossible to prepare for when you have a baby in the NICU is how you will react to the other babies who are also there. Sure, you're not really supposed to take notice of the other babies around you. As one nurse told us, "Just think of them as patients in their own little rooms," even though Beatrice Kate's neighbors were about 3 feet from her isolette.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bringing Home Baby: The Walking Dead ...

The start of something special ...
When Beatrice Kate was in the NICU and I would spend a small portion of every two hours in the "Mothers' Lounge" pumping, I passed the time by watching bits of television shows. We don't have cable at home; so I seized the opportunity to watch my favorite trash-TV while making milk! One of these shows was TLC's "Bringing Home Baby", where a television crew would follow around a couple and their new baby in the first 48 hours after coming home from the hospital.

I would pump, watch the show, tear-up and dream of what it was going to be like when she was finally discharged. I (very typically of me) had grandiose visions of what those first few hours, days, weeks would be like for us. We wanted more than anything to have our baby home, snuggled in bed next to us, taking walks outside with us, heck- just being in the same room with us without a nurse being 2 feet away!

I thought merrily of the time that she and I would spend bonding while she breastfed, or how she would sit perfectly still while Casey read stories to her. I looked forward to being welcomed home by our friends and family with a giant pink stork in our yard and a ribbon on our mailbox.

And then reality happened ...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Meal Plan Monday: Back in the saddle ...

After taking a week off from my official house-wifery duties, we're back with a full week's worth of dinners at home. Harris Teeter had a lot of really good meat on sale this week; so meal planning should have been easy. Then my dear husband suggested that we attempt to get back on some semblance of our diet before our inevitable holiday bender from our 2 lbs. of Moravian cookies purchased this weekend at the end of the month. Just review... little carbs, lots of fiber.

With winter in full-swing, it was a little tricky finding good fresh veggies at decent prices (we are after all, on a pretty tight budget). Luckily, I've been stock piling frozen veggies, both from a box and fresh that I've cut and frozen, like Armageddon is upon us; so we've got plenty of fiber and figure friendly side dishes for the week.

So, without further ado... Here's what's on the menu this week:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Online exclusive: Beatrice Kate says her first words ...

My child is a traitor. After all my hard work, you know, birthing, nursing and raising her; what are her first words? Yep, "Da, Da, Da, Daddy". See for yourselves:

If you can't see the video above this text, click here to view it online.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Things I love: Christmas and Winter edition ...

As we're getting the house and our hearts ready for the Christmas season, it got me thinking about some of my favorite Christmas and winter things that I though I would share. So, here goes:

Besties for Life ...

I think we've mentioned a time or two what good friends Arnold and Beatrice Kate are. Here's the video to prove it:

If you can't see the video above this text, click here to view it online.

Friday, December 3, 2010

How do you like them apples? ...

Here is the short video we took of Beatrice Kate enjoying apples. Notice her ability to both eat apples and jump until her heart's content.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Food fight ...

Though it may be very, very hard to believe (from the size of those cheeks), learning to eat, digesting and happily accepting meals has always been a challenge for Beatrice Kate.

Shortly after she was born, she began receiving small amount of breastmilk through a feeding tube in the NICU. Starting with just .5 mL (less than a 1/8 of a teaspoon), a tiny pump would feed her over the course of 30 minutes every three hours. Before the next feeding could happen, her nurse would come by, feel her tummy to ensure it was nice and soft and check for residuals. "Residuals" is the term that's used to describe the amount of "leftover" (undigested) milk still remaining in Bea's belly. Beatrice Kate almost always had some leftover; but as long as it was less than half of what she initially received and wasn't green or weird looking; she was given more milk.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Home sweet home ...

Yesterday was the last day of Prematurity Awareness Month and I thought it would be fitting to blog about the day that we were able to bring our baby home from the NICU. It's important to note that just because Prematurity Awareness Month is officially over, doesn't mean that our story stops being told. We've had an overwhelming (and incredibly encouraging) response to our NICU journey and there are a lot of parts we haven't even scratched the surface of yet.

Don't worry... we will continue to weave our NICU history in with our current day-to-day adventures because like so many experiences in our lives- it forms and shapes how we react today.

Anyway, back to the story. As you know, Beatrice Kate spent over 3 weeks at UNC Children's Hospital. Once she became stable enough to be classified as a "feeder-grower" (which I think sounds like I gave birth to algae) she was then transferred to a step-down nursery at Rex Hospital known as the Special Care Nursery (SCN).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Can't see the Christmas forest...for the Tree

First off, let me just say that I've never been one for the over-commercialization of Christmas and all of the silliness that surrounds what's really an important holiday in the Christian calendar.  With that being said, I absolutely love the fact and am quite thankful that our house can hold this OBSCENELY large tree.

'Tis the season for Christmas Cards ...

I absolutley love, love, love to give and receive Christmas cards. Each year, I run out to the mailbox everyday in the week or two before Christmas in hopes of finding new cards sent to our family. Then, I race back inside, tear open the packaging (seriously, it's like a squirrel opens our mail) and read the contents. Then, I ceremoniously display each beloved card by taping it to the door frame between our kitchen and living room.  At the end of every holiday season, I carefully remove the tape and place the cards in a Ziploc bag, where they wait until the next year where they're graduated from the doorway to a special spot on our Christmas tree.Check back later tonight for pictures and more about this year's tree. I really enjoy looking back through the cards we've received over the years as we put up our tree. This year was no different!

I especially love photo cards. For the past few years, Casey and I have sent out photo cards to all our family and friends. This year, we were very much looking forward to the requiste "cute baby" holiday cards that were sure to come once our new addition arrived.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday ...

This year because of our quarantine, we weren't able to travel back west to see our families for Thanksgiving. As such, it was just Casey, my sister Courtney, Beatrice Kate and I for Thanksgiving dinner.

The weekend was great from start to finish. Wednesday we finally received approval from our insurance company for Beatrice Kate's Synagis injection. This will help protect her from coming down with severe RSV this winter (hopefully) and lessen her chances of a return to the hospital. I think it's important to note that when Beatrice Kate recieved the shot, it was not a toy or silly faces that lessened her reaction to the injection. No, it was the sight of her beloved Blue Hat, Green Hat  book that instantly made her forget all about receiving the shot and put a smile on her face. That child is certianly made of our DNA!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday ...

The Raleigh Christmas Parade (Collins Family edition) in pictures ...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our little routine ...

After the initial trauma of leaving Beatrice Kate in the NICU for the first time, Casey and I began to develop a little routine each night once we got home from the hospital. I've mentioned several times that I can be quite obsessive about things and how order and structure are coping mechanisms for me. So, it should come as no great shocker that I insisted on a 'schedule' of events to unfold each night, in the same order, the same way every, single evening.

Now, before you all start thinking that it's just me- let me justify saying all this by telling you that Casey is the exact same way about certain things. NC State sporting events for one. In fact, I've seen him spend an entire football game standing in a doorway with his hands in his pockets or on his head, or in motion to his ear/face/mouth/etc. just because State made a good play or scored a point. The boy is nothing if not superstitious.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One more thing...

Today's Living Social Deal (kind of like Groupon) is for Babiology. Babiology is a store in Five Points (in Raleigh) that has a lot of great cloth diapering stuff (and you know how much I love cloth diapering!) and they consign baby clothes- which are practically brand new and are always really, really nice things...

So, if you're in the market for a cheap deal ($20 for $50 worth of stuff) on cool stuff for your babe or looking for a neat Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus gift for a new mom you know (hint, hint)- check out this link to buy the deal.

NICU Nurses: The good, the bad and the incredible ...

Remember how I said that the NICU has a way of turning complete strangers into friends and nurses and doctors into your family? Well, it's true. The strongest relationships you will form while your baby is in the hospital (or when you're in the hospital, too!) is the bond with their nurses.

The nurses who are good (which is far and away, most nurses we've encountered) are really, really good. Some have this sixth sense, superhuman ability to care for, comfort and treat the tiniest of babies (and their parents).

Meal Plan Monday (Thanksgiving edition) ...

This week, we've had a visitor staying at our house- my sister Courtney! I will have to admit that I thought cooking for three would be the same as cooking for two. Boy, was I wrong. Because of our quarantine this winter, I usually only go grocery shopping once a week (on Fridays when Casey gets home from work). This week, I've been to the store no less than 4 times to get "filler" things for lunches, breakfasts, etc. I guess I never realized how much I just pick and choose from whatever we have in the fridge each day vs. having a structured meal at the proper times.

Anyway... here's what's on the menu this week until Thursday when, of course, we'll all put ourselves into a turkey-coma:

Friday, November 19, 2010

How to help a family with a child in the NICU (and somethings NOT to do) ...

 First, for anyone who cares- the link to our WRAL News article is here.

Anyway, back to the good stuff...
Having a baby early or one that's born with medical needs is (obviously) very stressful in and of itself. Unfortunately, life in the "outside world" doesn't come to a halt because your child is sick.

In addition to worrying about whether your baby will live, you also have to worry about the everyday, mundane things of your life. Things as simple as taking a shower or finding food each day become insurmountable tasks and quickly take a back seat to life in the NICU.

We simply could not have survived the six weeks Beatrice Kate was hospitalized without help from our family, church family and friends. It's a simple as that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pipe up for Preemies (and a not-so-Wordless Wednesday) ...

Beatrice Kate, in all her 993g glory, born March 12 (11 weeks premature)
It's here! National Prematurity Awareness Day is today, November 17. Today is the day that we, The Raleigh Collins (all three of us) join hundreds of other bloggers in the fight for preemies. As parents of a former micro-preemie and miracle, this day gives us good reason to speak out for a cause near and dear to our hearts- babies born too soon.

Throughout the month of November, we have been blogging about our journey through the NICU. We hope that our story and perspectives can help give other families facing a similar adventure a sense of community and hope. Yes, having a premature baby is life-changing; but isn't simply having any baby life-changing? Our experiences in the NICU were filled with highs and lows. From the outside looking in, life in the NICU seems like the Doldrums. But in reality, it's a place where miracles and modern science intersect. A place where complete strangers become friends and nurses and doctors become part of your family as they diligently work to make your child stronger, healthier, ready to come for you.

To other NICU parents, we want you to know that you are not alone. Catch up on our story:

Why was Beatrice Kate premature? Read about our preeclampsia diagnosis here and here.
How long were we at UNC Women's Hospital before she was born? Find out here and here.
What was the delivery like? Read about it here and here.
What about meeting Beatrice Kate for the first time? You'll find that here and here.
What's with all the hospital terms? Find a vocabulary list here.
Prematurity is a growing trend among births in the U.S. and that's why supporting organizations like March of Dimes is so important. Through their research, education and advocacy someday- prematurity will be soooooo last season.

One last thing...who ever said that premature babies born small, stay small clearly hasn't seen our "small" miracle recently:
Yea, there's nothing skinny about those cheeks

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

...and at last, we meet

Nine hundred and ninety-three grams.  Thirty-five point zero-two-seven ounces.  For your reference, the following items weigh more than Beatrice Kate did at birth: 1) a whole beef tenderloin from a small grass-fed cow; 2) the liver of an average human; 3) a medium-to-large bunch of bananas; 4) two bicycle wheels; 5) a newborn Newfoundland puppy.   I don’t know that there’s any way to prepare first time parents for the NICU, but I hope that by the end of this reading, you’ll understand a little bit about it, and maybe you’ll be able to better relate to any new parents you might know who are experiencing a similar situation.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Meal Plan Monday (finally!) ...

We've been having computer problems today (meaning, we can't actually use our ocmputer today) so our Meal Plan is a little late. But, as they say, "Better late than never" so here we go:

Friday: Salsa Chicken tacos (easiest recipe ever: take frozen chicken, place in your crock pot, dump a jar of salsa on top and forget about it until dinner time. Voila! Shred chicken and serve.)

Saturday: We had a heavy late brunch so for dinner we just did leftovers and snacks (very domestic of me, I know)
Sunday: Linguine (free Butoni pasta from HT Super Doubles last week!) and meat sauce, peanut butter cookies for dessert (and they were YUMMY)
Monday: Roasted Pork Loin with raspberry reduction and edamame on the side
Tuesday: Butternut squash soup and fancy grilled cheese sandwiches (inspired, in part, by the fact that Beatrice Kate will begin dining on butternut squash later this week! My baby is growing up so fast!)
Wednesday: Ropa Vieja from the crockpot
Thursday: Not totally sure yet, but probably oven roasted chicken with broccoli and light cheese sauce

As always, you can probably find more creative and tastier ideas from other bloggers by visiting Org Junkie's Meal Plan Monday post.

Don't forget: National Prematurity Awareness Day is this week (Wednesday to be exact!) to be sure to check back to our blog as we continue our NICU Journey or visit for more information about how you can help join the fight for preemies!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I'll take that medical degree now, please...

Before we get too heavily into the NICU part of our NICU journey, Casey and I thought it best to do a "vocabulary" lesson on NICU terms. Now, let me preface this list by saying: We are not doctors, nurses or any sort of medical professional- we just play one on the interwebs. So, don't go writing us when we inevitably get a definition wrong; or screw up a term. It'll happen; trust me.

Let's start with the biggies first...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Love at first sight ...

So here’s the thing that sucks most about having a premature infant because of preeclampsia: The 24 long hours you have to recover before seeing your baby after she’s born. 

Yes, you read that right. I had to wait 24 hours before I could lay eyes on my daughter.

Immediately after she was born, Beatrice Kate was whisked away to the NICU to be examined by the doctors and get the help she needed to breathe. Immediately after I delivered her, I was whisked back to a recovery room, given a shot of morphine and re-hooked to the Magnesium Sulfate. Because the risk of a seizure is still very great, preeclampsia patients are given another 24 hour course of the drug to continue lowering the blood pressure. During that time I would be confined to a bed and closely monitored every thirty minutes. Oh, and I still wasn’t allowed to eat. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's Go Time...

Sorry for the delay in posting – things got busy and I’m not the type of writer who can just crank out material.  Ask Ashley how bad my verbal storytelling is.  Let’s just say that it’s a good thing that I wasn’t the one entrusted with the oral traditions of the South in the time before blogging.  Anyways, please read on for my perspective on our birth, and comment if you'd like - we're curious to see who’s out there…

Monday, November 8, 2010

Meal Plan Monday ...

It's time for Meal Plan Monday! Don't worry- Casey's NICU Journey blog post will be up later today. We haven't forgotten, we've just been out of town this weekend and didn't have a chance to post on Friday.

Harris Teeter had amazing deals this week so most of the ingredients for this week's menu came from there or Trader Joe's. Also, like I said, we were out of town from Friday to Sunday night, so we ate out once and had dinners with family on Saturday and Sunday.

Anyway, let's get down to it...
Friday: Five Guy's Hamburgers (for free thanks to coupons Casey picked up at a charity golf tournament)
Saturday: Surprise birthday party for my mother- BBQ sandwiches, yum!
Sunday: Bakes spaghetti at Mom's (and a Starbuck's coffee on the road back home!)
Monday: Spicy beef stir-fry with carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers and onion. We had this two weeks ago- but after all the non-veggies we had this weekend, Hubs and I both were craving something veggie-centric.
Tuesday: Oven-roasted whole chicken with veggies from the freezer (cooked of course). We were supposed to have this last week; but in the mayhem of making a three tiered birthday cake it got lost in the chocolate butter creme. So, we'll have it this week.
Wednesday: Chili (Cold nights just beg for a good pot of chili, don't they?)
Thursday: Homemade pizza with leftover veggies, pepperoni and whatever else we feel like adding in the moment.

That's it! Of course, for better other ideas, you can visit Org Junkie for a giant list of other Meal Plans. And, like I said earlier, Casey's version of our Labor and Delivery part of the NICU story should be up later today or tonight.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lots of Labor, Very Little Delivery

So there I was, being wheeled down into the Labor and Delivery Department (L&D) while my husband frantically packed some of my things from our antepardum suite. When I got situated in the room, Casey came barreling in with a backpack filled with: several books to read (including a copy of The Bradley Method, which clearly wasn’t going to happen), a newspaper (for the crosswords…if you know my husband, you know he had a bit of an addiction), a container of sushi (he hadn’t finished lunch yet) and 20 or so Hershey’s Kisses and Mint Life Savers. 

I knew that we were in for a long process- I just didn’t know at the time exactly how long that would be. 


At the end of this post I hope that you, the reader, will be able to answer three questions:  1) What’s the best part about Chapel Hill? 2) How many different kinds of hospital food could I eat (should I eat) at UNC Hospital? 3) If I’m staying with my wife in a hospital room, what kind of furniture should I be on the lookout for?  If you can understand why these questions are important to a husband and father-to-be, then we should go have a beer and compare notes.  I also want to express that of all the “chapters” in our immediate ante- and post-partum book, this was the worst one for me.  You’ll notice that I describe some things in great detail, and some things get glazed over with barely a mention.  I can’t say why it’s like this, except to say that I had “tunnel vision” in a time of what was really, intense emotional and mental pressure.  Of course, some of it was my own doing, but read on.  Actually let's go ahead and state that the answer to Question 1 is NOT their damn basketball team.

A really great article about preeclampsia ...

March of Dimes must be reading our blog (ha!) and have posted this great article about Preeclampsia. Unfortunately however, some women (like me) don't fall into any of the "risk" categories for developing it.

That's why organizations like March of Dimes are so important. They're conducting research that could one day tell us why preeclampsia strikes and how we can prevent it!

Check out the article here. Visit March of Dimes to join the fight against prematurity here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday (a story in pictures about first solids) ...



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Admitted ...

I had never been a patient in the hospital. Aside from having my tonsils removed in the third-grade, I had never even been beyond the visitor sections of one. I’ve never broken my arm, had my appendix removed or anything like that. In general, I’ve been in pretty good health my entire life. 

So, when I was first admitted to UNC Women’s Hospital, I was actually a little ok with it. After the initial shock and dismay that the first hospital rendered, I was pleasantly surprised at how calm and collected the UNC nurses and doctors were. They said things like “weekly ultrasounds” and “when you’re discharged in a few days, you’ll probably be on strict bed rest”. 15 hours earlier, we were being told that we may not last long enough to receive the two steroid shots a day apart.

These words gave us something that the first hospital stripped away: hope. Hope that maybe we could just carry our baby to near full-term. More importantly, hope that even if we didn’t- our baby would still be ok. As one doctor put it, “You’re practically full-term to us anyway”. I knew I wasn’t, but it was such a comfort to hear that we were in knowing hands.

Anyway, being admitted to the hospital was a small relief for me. I wouldn’t have to answer my Blackberry (it was hidden from me anyway and the email function was disabled), I didn’t have to deal with work stressors, I didn’t have to cook or clean my house, deal with our dogs (which I hadn’t done since I found out I was pregnant anyway) or do any of the other mundane daily tasks my life usually demanded. I would finally be able to relax and for once- simply concentrate on being pregnant. They even had people come in every day to ask what I wanted to order for my meals! It was like staying in a hotel (of course, a very, very expensive hotel). This novelty quickly wore off.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Bad Part First

It’s difficult to summon the emotions that I felt as an expectant father back in late February 2010.  It’s not that I don’t remember what I felt, or even if I felt different than many new fathers would feel, regardless of the situations surrounding your wife’s first pregnancy.  I wrote most everything down about who was there with us, who took care of the house, who made us food, and what doctors and nurses cared for us.  It’s more of the fact that the speed at which life was happening in the days surrounding the end of a pregnancy and birth of new life were nothing more than incredibly warped.  In fact, I couldn’t even say that “one minute, time sped up, and another, time slowed down,” because there was no “one minute.”  I can’t give a play-by-play because the more pertinent unit of measurement was just one fixed point:  the point in time at which my daughter came into this world, leaving her quiet sanctuary and joining the rest of us in our less-than-serene world.  For my engineering mind, the rate of change at which time passes lost all meaning and thus, by the end of my recounting of our little journey, I’ll propose my own Theory of Relativity.  So if you're interested, click the link below, and let's get started.

The Diagnosis

Catch up on our story: Read the preface here

Let's start from the very, very beginning...
*Warning: these will be quite long posts!*

At 20 weeks, I took a business trip to London with my doctor’s blessing. After a long, overnight flight, I arrived at my hotel and noticed that my feet had swollen a little. Hmm, I thought, that’s weird; but I attributed it to the cabin pressure. Fast forward a week- after being caught in the worst snowstorm in 25 years, I get back to the States and go in for a regular check-up.  My feet were still terribly swollen, but again, I assumed it was due to the traveling and English salty diet.  

We were excited for this check-up because we were finally going to see 4-D images of our baby, who at this point, we just KNEW was a boy. Being the stubborn little baby that it was, we never saw a clear image of its face but just seeing their little hands and their little feet—we were in love. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Our NICU Journey (The Preface)

Of all the complications, all the “bad things”, all the ways that our birth could have gone south- prematurity was never even something we considered. That’s because, like many people, we always associated premature birth with drug users, alcoholics, indigent people who lacked proper prenatal care. Women, like me, who took every preventative measure, like exercising, proper nutrition, regular OB checks, etc., to ensure the health of their baby should have virtually nothing to worry about, right? 

Wrong. Obviously, this isn’t the case at all. We got a fast, hard lesson that prematurity doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, household income. It can happen to anyone- it happened to us.
For the next few days, Casey and I will alternate telling our story. You’ll hear a little from my perspective, and a little from his. After all is said and done, we hope you can get a sense of what it’s like to be a preemie parent- both the bad and the good.

I’ve thought a lot about what I would say when we decided to tell the story of Beatrice Kate’s birth. I know it’s shocking to think I could ever be at a loss for words; but the truth is, when I think about the day and the weeks leading up to her birth all I can do I is struggle to catch my breath.  I have a panic attack thinking of the end of our pregnancy and our NICU days. My therapist (yep, I’ve got one of those) says it’s similar to PTSD. (Side note: I found a really interesting article last month about PTSD and NICU Parents. You read it here.) 

The story starts tomorrow, November 1 so keep checking back for updates!

PS: We've changed our background color to purple in honor of the March of Dimes. Visit their web site to learn more about this amazing organization.

Meal Plan Monday (on Sunday)

This week, I'm posting our menu early, because tomorrow is November 1 and we're beginning Prematurity Awarness Month and we have a lot to say about that!

We went out of town on Saturday so, I got to skip a night of homecooking:

Friday: Crock Pot Carnitas (we didn't get around to making these last week- but they were SO GOOD)
Saturday: Visit to Winston-Salem and dinner with Casey's family
Sunday: Halloween Candy Leftovers
Monday: Skillet Chicken
Tuesday: Beef stew with carrots, parsnips and celery
Wednesday: Pork BBQ with sauteed squash
Thursday: Crock pot rotisserie chicken and frozen veggies (cooked of course)

You can visit Org Junkie on Monday to find other great dinner suggestions! As always, if you're interested in a recipe, let me know- I'm happy to share! Remember to check back frequently during the month of November to hear about our "Preemie" story and our view about life in the NICU in honor of our favorite teeny baby: Beatrice Kate!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bloggers Unite to Fight for Preemies

Have you noticed the new flare on the side of our blog? It's just over to the right, below the photostream. Wondering what that's all about?

If you're a regular reader of our blog, then chances are you know our family. This means that you can count yourself among the many who know of a premature baby- our ex-29 weeker, Beatrice Kate.

In fact, one in every eight babies is born premature. That's just too many. So much so that since 1981, the rate of premature birth has risen over 30%.

March of Dimes, an organization whose research was critical to Beatrice Kate's surival during her first few days of life, is fighting to change these statistics. November 17 is dedicated to raising awareness for prematurity and the crisis it brings.

To help do our part to spread the word, next week Casey and I will join hundreds of other bloggers and take part in Bloggers Unite. During the month of November we'll share a little of our family's story- from the diagnosis of pre-eclampsia to our days in the NICU to life at home with an ex-micro-preemie. We'll give tips on what to say to a family with an unexpected, early arrival and how you can best support them. We'll share the fear that we faced during her birth and hospitalization and the fears for complications that her prematurity could still bring. More importantly however, we'll share the amazing success and strength that Beatrice Kate has shown everyday since she was born; and how God's Grace brought us closer together as family by walking through these trials together.

Have a blog? Want to get involved, too? 
1: Visit:
2: Put a badge on your blog to help raise awareness
3: On November 17, blog for a premature baby you know and love (uh... we've got one you can borrow) and help others!

As the March of Dimes says: "We need to fight- because babies shouldn't have to"

Wordless Wednesday...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Halloween, love Beatrice Kate

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

A Bea-utiful Day for a Fun Run

Well, we did it. We finally made our triumphant semi-successful return to the world of 5Ks... sort of. This time, with one more not-so-little addition to our running group: Beatrice Kate. Saturday, we loaded up the car with our little Bea (literally, see photo above for evidence) in tow, packed up the jogging stroller with water, pacifiers, blankets (it was cold!) and breastmilk and hit the road toward Durham to participate in the Duke Employee Family Fun Run/Pumpkin Race.

Now, I'll admit that this wasn't an actual 5K. I think the "official" mileage was something like 2.9 miles but it's close enough and far further than I've run in a single outing since giving birth. What's more impressive is that we actually ran most of the distance. Beatrice Kate looked on, rather smugly, from the comfort of her warm, comfortable Bob Stroller- only acknowledging us when we offered her milk; otherwise, she was too busy sleeping and looking at stuff.

We'll 'fess up that the most pressing reason for participating in this event wasn't for the sake of our physical fitness. No, of course not. It was so that my husband and I could show off Beatrice Kate in her new Halloween costume (thanks to Mandrake and MiMi for providing a fitting outfit). She was a little too young to participate in the "Costume Parade" but we had fun watching it from afar nonetheless.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Meal Plan Monday

Well, it's that time again. Time for all you nosy people (you know who you are) to find out what we, the Collins Family, are having for dinner this week. Remember, my meal planning is actually completed on Thursday nights and resets on Fridays- so this is a bit of catch up. Nonetheless, here goes:

Friday: Homemade pizza with fresh tomato, bell pepper, onion, mushroom and basil
Saturday: Leftovers and sandwiches
Sunday: Pork tenderloin over spinach salad
Monday: Spicy beef stir-fry with peppers, carrots, mushrooms and broccoli
Tuesday: Crockpot carnitas and salad
Wednesday: Oven-baked deviled Chicken with honey glazed carrots
Thursday: Brinner! (that's breakfast for dinner for those not familiar with "Scrubs")

Also, as you know, we've been working hard at cutting our grocery/household items costs each month now that we're on a tight budget so, perhaps sometime this week I'll post my "weekly totals" after couponing/sale planning. Today, I scored A LOT of stuff for just $13, including a free pair of underwear, and two flashlights. It was pretty awesome.

Like most things, Meal Plan Monday is not one of my original ideas. Check out what other people are having by visiting one of my new favorite sites: Org Junkie

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday...

The Three Musketeers...

In the blink of an eye...

It sounds so cliche to say that we can literally see Beatrice Kate growing up in front of our eyes... but it's the truth. I will never forget this lady in the NICU, two days after Beatrice Kate was born, saying to me, "It may seem like forever now; but I promise, in 6 months all of this will seem like time flew by". Of course, at the time, in my post-pardum hormonal and emotionally fragile state- it just made me hysterical to think of the daunting weeks or months we faced as NICU parents. For us at the time, hours crept by, days stood still and weeks seemed like eternity. But now, looking back she was so right.The time did fly by.

Everyday, Casey and I look at each other and say, "I think she grew overnight" or "I think her hair grew more today". At some point in the last seven (yes, I can't believe it's been seven either) months, our tiny, two pound micro-preemie has over septupled (if that's even a word) her birth weight and become this amazing little human with impossibly chubby cheeks.

But, it's more than just how big she's gotten in size and weight. She's evolving and developing into her own independent person too. Just in the last week alone, Bea has learned to sit up on her own, reach out and select toys in front of her or look up at Mommy and Daddy all without toppling over. She does still occasionally tip over (that giant Collins head-to-body ratio is something she'll grow into) but for the most part, she sits up right and stays! If she's not sitting- she only wants to stand (assisted of course) and bounce around on your knees!

She rolls over every time now that she's placed on her tummy. This makes our doctor-prescribed "Tummy Time" quite a challenge; but I'm happy she's finally got the upper body strength to make it happen. She's also thisclose to being able to roll over from back to tummy- I expect it to happen any day now and when it does it will totally freak her out.

She's started babbling more and more in the last few days. She's been making little hooting noises for a while now, which is why we dubbed her the "owlet". However, since about Sunday or Monday, she begun adding in a few "M" sounds to her repertoire. In fact, just this morning- we swear it sounded like she said "I love you Mama". Now, I admit- that probably didn't happen but to hear to start to form kind-of words is really, really exciting.Whoever said babies say "D" and "B" words first clearly need to meet our little exception to the rules.

Bea is also getting to the point where she only wants to go to sleep by herself. Meaning, no more holding or rocking during the daytime hours. Now, the only time I get to snuggle my sleeping baby and cuddle her angelic swaddled self is at night, when we're laying her down for the evening. She only nurses to sleep during this daily final feeding and...

It's so bittersweet. Of course, like all parents, we want nothing more than for our girl to grow up healthy and strong. But still no matter how amazed we are at her development and progress... there is a big part of my heart that still misses this:
Doesn't even look like her!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meal Plan Monday

As we've been trying to be more conscious of where Casey's our money is being spent, we've agreed to start budgeting only $50 a month for "meals out" and have the rest of those meals well, in. That means a lot of homecooking and you know how I love a list to help plan things like this. Other Mommy bloggers call this day "Meal Plan Monday" where by publishing what's on their family's meal plan for the week. Since we're in quarantine and the only chance I now have to go grocery shopping is on Friday nights (yes, I realize how pathetic that is- it's also when all the crazy cat ladies go shopping ... I'm looking at you Meg, in 30 years) I actually do our meal planning on Thursdays based on the sales around local grocery stores. None the less, I will particpate in Meal Plan Monday; just know that really... it's three days old!
*Also I would like to point out that this list should in no way restrict the designated meals to those days... sometimes I just feel like mixing it up!

Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Leftovers and Cereal (see what I mean about mixing it up?)
Sunday: Broccoli cheese soup and sandwiches
Monday: NY strip steak and acorn squash and feta casserole
Tuesday: Crock Pot Pork Chops with apple chutney (I'm actually using a Boston Pork Butt because that was what was on sale)
Wednesday: Roasted Chicken and mixed veggies with spinach salad
Thursday: Hamburgers and stewed black beans with red bell pepper, onion and tomato
Friday: Homemade Pizza (seeing a trend?)

So, I can't claim most of the recipes as my own; but I would be happy to share them with you if you're interested. Just leave a comment and I'll email them to you! Happy cooking!

Update to the "Things I Love"

Last month, I wrote a little about 9 things I love. Like all lists of mine, it's continued to grow and evolve since then so... here's a short update.

1: Mommy and Baby Fitness: It's pretty mind-boggling for me to say the words "Love" and "Fitness" in the same sentence. But, it's true. I love baby fitness classes. It's so much fun to work out with Beatrice Kate. It's a fun way to keep her entertained and stimulated, while also (attempting) to not look like a whale lose this baby weight. What have we been up to lately? Well, for starters, Bea and I (mostly I) have been restarting the Couch to 5K program. I've been a little hesitant to talk about it on our blog because, well like other things we've done, once you write about it on the internet... it's out there and people start harassing you when you quit. I don't like harassment! However, for the past two weeks, I've been keeping with the program, taking my little running partner and our podcasts out to local lakes for a brief jog. Granted, I am repeating "Week 2" this week again because I fail miserably at running and need a little remediation when it comes to fitness.

Last week, we also tried out a class that I've been meaning to get around to since Bea was born- Stroller Strides. This summer, I would walk most mornings each weekday with a group of other new mom friends from my Bradley Birthing Method Class. So, when I heard about a "structured" power walking strolling class; I was excited to try it out. As it turns out... it's much more than a leisurely stroll. It's an intense work out; and I'm not just saying that because I'm out of shape this was the first actual workout I've had since giving birth. Everyone else in the class (including those who are much, much more fit than I am) were sweating up a storm. A Stroller Strides class basically consists of: power walking to various spots in an area (maybe 3/4 mile total, probably more I'm a horrible judge of distance) where you then do different strengthening exercises like dips, calf raises, resistance band exercises, wall squats!?!, lots of lunges and other really hard awesome stuff. It sounds horrible, but it was a lot of fun. Bea was a champion and slept the entire time, wrapped up all warm and cozy like a little Eskimo in her Bob (she loves this thing) so she didn't get to enjoy Mommy acting like a fool, singing children's songs through labored breathing. Afterward, they usually have playgroups for the kids and even make crafts and things for the older ones. Of course, we can't participate in that right now- but we'll enjoy it in the future!I really, really liked this class, even with the two day soreness that followed, and we'll be going back for more classes for sure.

Our other favorite new fitness obsession is Aquamoms and Babies. I took the prenatal version of this class last winter (which I didn't get to finish because you know, that whole preterm labor thing happened) and LOVED IT. It was a great way to reduce my swelling and get a low impact work out while pregnant. Now, as a new mom, Beatrice Kate and I enjoy the postnatal version. Luckily, it takes place in the heated therapy pool, so Bea stays nice and warm throughout the ordeal- which, if it didn't, we wouldn't be going. Girlfriend haaaaattteees being cold. Anyway, it's a really fun class that introduces the babies to water, which Bea loves because she can kick around and wiggle. This past weekend, we practiced going under the water (the babies, that is). At first, Beatrice Kate was like, "Hold on Lady, what do you think you're doing?!?". By the second time, she was an old pro. We go each Saturday morning and it wears. her. out. afterward. Like, needs a 4 hour nap afterward kind of wearing out. It's awesome.

So, if you know a new mom, or if you want to buy me a present... a gift certificate to either Stroller Strides or Healthy Moms is a great idea :)

2: Trader Joes: I'm sure you're thinking... "Trader Joes? Seriously? Where have you been for the past 4 years?". The answer is simple. I resisted going to Trader Joes because for a long time, because we were dedicated to Whole Foods and I didn't like dealing with the traffic that exists around Trader Joes. Then, of course, we became a one-income family and we had to get realistic about what we were spending on groceries. Luckily, we found Trader Joes. They carry a lot of organic and all natural foods and most of the time, their produce is a lot cheaper than Harris Teeter. I mean, you can get bagged spinach for $1.99. That's awesome if your family is like ours and goes through a lot of spinach each week. Their eggs are always $0.99 and their milk is $2.99! I love saving money and now, I love Trader Joes!

3: Southern Savers: Last week, Casey's cousin Ann send me a link to a web site called Southern Savers. If you don't know about it; get in the know. It's basically this lady's blog where she compiles all the weekly grocery store deals, matches them with coupons found in your newspaper each week and tells you where to find the best deals on things. I LOVE this web site. I'm addicted to it. About 5 times a day, she'll post up a tip on where you can get something for free or for pennies. For example- each Friday, she lists sites you can visit to get free samples. Saturday, she found a coupon code to get diapers for $0.99 from (we didn't get the deal in time!) We got 40 Christmas cards for free from Snapfish and two photobooks from Shutterfly for $2!! If you follow her on Facebook, you can get quick access to her latest finds. She even includes tips on how to shop with coupons and what she considers "good prices" for everyday things like toothpaste, milk, etc.  If you're new to couponing, I highly recommend you visit this web site.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Indoctrination

You will like this, or you'll be kicked out of this family.
Now that fall is here and Beatrice Kate is a little sturdier, we thought it the perfect time to introduce our daughter to one of the most important facets of growing up in the Collins family:  fandom. And in this family, we only honor one school with our passionate support: the North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical School, State College, the Red and the White, the true university of the people, North Carolina State University. We realize, of course, that someday our daughter may rebel and seek an art degree at Carolina to pursue her higher education at another institution - but that day is not today. Or even tomorrow. And so it begins...

Our story begins with a fantastic October day when the weather could not have been more pefect - thus allowing a great opportunity to tailgate in style. Well, Beatrice Kate and Mommy had their Wolfpack gear on, and Daddy had to settle for his best white shirt and red hat.  But nonetheless, we had all the ingredients of a great day: two tickets to watch State play Boston College (ticket not needed for Tinys), a tailgate-able vehicle, a well-rested daughter and a parking spot at the Vet School.
Baby Crap? Check.

And that, folks, is how you tailgate with a baby. Bumbo seat: check. Blanket: check. Boppy lounger: check. (Which, by the way, we're convinced that if we hadn't locked it away in the car, we would have found some drunk kid passed out in it.) Tiny cheerleading outfit from Mrs. Thorne at church? check. Sun hat, sunglasses, Mommy and cooler full of milk, we had it all in place. As we've learned from previous outings, preparation is key, and Mommy prepares it just right. Now if we only had teeth for that delicious Bojangles chicken.  (On a side note, apparently everyone State alum from the early 2000's goes to this Bojangles. It's as if there is a transfer program from this Bojangles on Western Blvd. that everyone went to in college).

Looks. So. Yummy. Must. Eat. Chicken.
Once on site we proceeded to enjoy our food and beverage and Bea had a snack herself. At this point, we were expecting an hour or so of relaxing but were continuously interrupted by compliments of our cherub-cheeked daughter. We don't say this out of pride, but just to note that if if a child is cute enough to make college students (beers in hand) stop in front of our car just to comment how fantastic her outfit was and to give her the Wolfpack sign of encouragement, then she is cute. Apparently, we've done something right with this child!

Tired from all her compliementing, Bea caught a quick nap and we were off for our walk to the stadium. One of us caught a ride from a large man- see if you can tell who from the following photo:
Where's Waldo the baby?

Once inside the friendly confines of Carter-Finley, we found our seats; nervously awaiting Beatrice Kate's response to all of the hoopla surrouding a college football game kick-off. To our pleasant surpise, our daugther made no fuss at all about the marching band, chants, wolf howls, cannons or cheering throngs in red and white. We credit her time in the NICU for noise tolerance.
If you squint and turn your head to the side, they're spelling "State"

No liquor bottles allowed, Miss
Bea had a great time in the stadium, watching the game, yelling, flirting with other fans, talking to old folks, drooling, eating, sleeping, etc. So really, Beatrice Kate would have fit in well with the Student Sections. We won't say much about the game expect to point out that it was a Wolfpack-applied stompin' in the first degree.

While we didn't see Mr. or Mrs. Wuf, and thus missed out on a primo photo op of her and Bea in their cheerleading uniforms, we had a great day out with our beautiful daugther. It may be a year until we get this opportunity again, but we left with the confidence that this is something we can do as a family and have a fun time doing it. If her one game record is to be extrapolated, Beatrice Kate may just be the lucky charm that NC State needs
Already more interested in sports than Mommy. Figures.

In the meantime, we're on the lookout for the re-introduced, real "Tuffy", but in a pinch, this guy will do just fine:

The Original Tuffy
We really couldn't be more thankful for the gift of our daugther and for the ability to share this gift with our daugther. For a whirlwind look at the day, check out this video.

There is a video above. If you cannot see it, click here.

*Check out our Picasa albums for all our photos from this weekend (and more!). We'll be uploading them throughout the week (Link is on the right side of the blog- click on any of the small photo thumbnails to be linked to the albums.)

Have we mentioned it's RSV season?

I'm sure you're all already tired of hearing us preach about the dreaded three letter "word" in our house- RSV. Well, just to annoy inform you further... the March of Dimes Blog (titled: New Moms Need) just posted this entry about RSV Season and what it means for families with micro-preemies.

If you have a chance, please check it out. It will help give some perspective to what we're facing here at the Collins Homestead during the next 5 months of house arrest quarantine.

Again, just to remind everyone that if you're planning on a visit to la casa de Raleigh Collins you can expect us to:
  • Be hand-washing and hygeine Nazis until March, when RSV season winds down
  • Give you a spotlight interrogation on who you've been around and who you know that's been sick recently
  • Perform a "once-over" for possible signs of sickness or infection and clean clothes
  • Turn you away (cue sad violin music) if you don't meet our standards 
We really hate to keep harping on this- but it could mean the difference in Beatrice Kate spending the winter at home or spending it int he hospital with pneumonia.

Also, on a final note: We're still working out our holiday plans and will share our thoughts on the subject with all relevant family groups in a few weeks. We still ask that everyone is patient and understanding with the outcome of our "visiting schedule" for this year. Know that everyone, not just you, will probably not get the time they want/deserve with Beatrice Kate, unless you come to our house. However... it is just one year out of a lifetime of holidays for Bea. One year that happens to be the most critical winter season of her life!

Monday, October 11, 2010

One year ago today...

She looked like this:
Greatness in the making...
She's gained a little weight since then:
She's out grown the tail

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ain't no germs up in these here parts ...

Since our quarantine started on Friday and the weather this week was H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E, we've been looking for creative ways to skirt the "no public places" rules and stave off cabin-fever for another week. One solution: outdoor adventures- a staple of the Collins Family.

First up- two trips around nearby lakes with our friends Abby and her mommy, Molly on Friday and the dogs and Casey on Saturday. Bea's been riding in style lately in her BOB Stroller- forward facing, even (Backwards baby-style is soooo yesterday):
They see me rollin', Pa-Patrollin'
She's Got. It. Made. in this thing. This stroller cost more than a payment on both our cars including insurance, but let me tell you... it's worth every penny. It's the Cadillac of strollers. Seriously. The seat reclines or sits up at her desired angle. It's got cup holders (which obviously, she doesn't utilize yet), a hand brake and knobby tires (you know, in case you just have to take your kid running off road?!?) and even shocks which are awesome when your kid finally falls asleep after not taking a nap for the entire day and is whining to the point of a potential DSS intervention... Anyway, it's huge and takes up a lot of room in my trunk but it's so worth it.

In other exciting news, Bea had her first hiking experience today. Typically anything under 5-6 miles doesn't usually qualify as a hike for our family, but as it was Beatrice Kate's first foray into the wilderness... we'll let it count this time.We took her to one of our all-time favorite places in North Carolina- Eno River State Park. We've taken the dogs here plenty of times for short day hikes, but today we tried out a new trail (Cox Mountain Trail) and discovered that there are primitive campsites!! We'll be using those in the future, for sure.

Now, you know us. Pre-Bea/NICU/traumatic pregnancy/etc., we couldn't be kept indoors during nice weather. From hiking, kayaking, walking the dogs; we were sunshine junkies. We've slowly been working ourselves back to the old "us" and this weekend help put us that much closer. We have always looked forward to the time that we could bring our baby on their first hiking trip; we've often asked ourselves "Just how little is too little for an overnight back country camping trip?" Of course, having a baby who was smaller than a hiking boot gave us an answer to that question fairly quickly and put a delay on things for a while but none the less- here we are, our first hike:
She'll grow to love it eventually, right?
We'll post pictures of the entire trip later this week on Picasa but for now, here's a great shot of Bea and her Daddy in their post-hike glow:

Friday, October 1, 2010


To keep the germs away
Well, it's here. October 1 has arrived and brought with it strict instructions from our pediatrician, Dr. Calm. You'll recall that last month after Bea's 6 month well visit, Dr. Calm sent us home with orders to basically keep Beatrice Kate in a bubble until March. Why March? Well, while germs are all-seasonal... the kind that come out in winter are particularly terrible to micro-preemies like Bea who have weakened immune systems and weakened lungs.

Bea goes in next week to get her flu shot and then again in November and each month after until spring arrives to receive a vaccination against RSV. Casey and I will also be receiving flu vaccinations next week as an extra layer of protection for her. As another preemie mom said to me, "When your doctor uses the words 'death' and 're-hospitalization' about your baby, you tend to follow their orders!." We have the same doctors :)

I know we've already covered what all our cabin-fever inducer quarantine entails... but we've gotten a few questions from friends and family about what it all really means. So, here's a little reminder of the "rules" from Dr. Calm, with clarification from us in bold italics.

1: No large crowds over 4-5 people (Unfortunately, this means no Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings with my giant family, no parties,etc.) Yes, this means we won't be home for Thanksgiving and we'll need to find a creative solution for Christmas. As much as we want to be with everyone for the holidays, getting Bea through this winter (the most critical winter in her life) is our first priority. Trust us, we know how stinkin' cute the kid is and how she would look REALLY cute in an elf costume but if I have to choose between a cute photo op and a healthy baby... I think we all know what we would choose. The photo. A healthy baby.

2: No hanging around other kids; especially kids who go to daycare, school, hang out in public, etc. So, no playgroups that meet indoors, no sharing toys with other kids, etc. Yes, we can still go to water aerobics on Saturdays because (and this is where my expensive Chemistry degree finally gets put to use), Chlorinated water kills germs. If it didn't there wouldn't be any public swimming pools. Yes, we can go for walks outside with our friends. All the kids are contained in their own strollers and unless Bea has sprouted Go Go Gadget arms and manages to reach across the walking paths- we'll be fine.

3: No being held by anyone other than Mommy and Daddy, unless you've got on freshly laundered clothes and we watch you wash your hands with soap and warm water and sanitize. This is a big one. Any doctor will tell you that the easiest way to stop the spread of germs is to simply wash your hands with warms water and soap. We're taking it step further and insisting on the use of antibacterial hand gel as well. Just for the soap-resistant strains! Please don't take this as a slam on your hygiene. Rest assured, we will be asking/watching/stalking everyone who comes in our house.  Also, we haven't been as strict about this as we should be- but please, please, please take off your shoes when you come in our home. Most people don't think about all the dirt, germs, disgusting-ness that you walk through everyday. Bea plays on our carpets. I prefer to have a dirt-free place for her to lick play on. If you don't like the feeling of your bare feet on our floors, buy a clean pair of shoes to wear ONLY in our home. If you smoke, be prepared to change into fresh clothes BEFORE you hold Bea or come in our house

4: If we go in public, (for example to the mall for a walk, to the grocery store, to church or to the park) Bea is to be in a stroller, draped with a blanket and no touching by strangers (I'm looking at you crazy old ladies). Luckily, Grandma Betsy made Bea a fabulous new cover for her car seat that serves as a cloth bubble and stranger-touching deterrent- so we don't have too much to work about in this area. We won't be bringing Bea to church until March, with the exception of maybe LoveFeast or something similar. We'll be alternating attending church and staying home with her on Sundays. I tested out the "online grocery shopping" this week and I think it will be an OK alternative to our weekly Wednesday trips to the store for food. I will at least be able to get most of our items this way and make smaller runs when Casey is at home and can stay here with Bea. 

5: No being around anyone who is sick, lives with someone who is sick, knows someone who is sick, is thinking of becoming sick... you get the idea.This is the one that has the potential to make us crazy paranoid. The trouble with RSV is that, in your or I, it appears to be just a mild cold. Maybe a sniffle, maybe a little cough. But, bring that tiny sniffle around Bea and within days it easily could morph into pneumonia or respiratory distress or worse. If you show up at our door and even if you are 100% positive it is just "allergies", or your brother's sister's cousin's grandma just got over the flu or you're just feeling "under the weather but aren't actually sick"... we will have to turn you away. We cannot take any risks this winter. 

Anyway... Bea hates wearing her protective mask- so don't make her have to... please?
This SO does not coordinate with my outfit