Wednesday, September 29, 2010

And the award goes to...

MEEEEEEEEEEE! Our very first only blog award.Thanks to a friend from Ye Ol' Lincoln Forest (my parent's neighborhood), we have been bestowed a Major Award a very nice award. Thanks, Nicole! Your blog is pretty awesome too! To our readers: if you have some time, check out Nicole's blog. She's an amazing young woman who I am proud to know! As with most things in life, this award comes with a few "strings attached"...

Let's see, here are the rules:
1. Answer this question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?

2. The second thing you have to do is, pick 6 people and give them this award.You then have to inform the person that they have gotten this award. (Note from me: I don't actually know 6 other people who have blogs... so I'll award it to the two that I do!)

3. The third and final thing is, thank the person who gave you the award. (Check)

What would I change? If I could go back in time, I think I would have studied abroad in college. I never felt like I was able to (I honestly don't know why) and so I never applied for a program. If there were a time machine available... I would be all about it. Casey and I love to travel; so it's stupid that I never looked into studying in another country-- but you know how they say hindsight is 20/20...

Anyway, I will now pass this award on to:

1) Anne: for her blog about being a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru. She's currently combinging two things that are very near and dear to the Collins Family's heart-- Peru and helping others. I'm excited to hear about her adventures, whether there in Peru or back home in the States. You should check our her blog and live vicariously through her like I do!

2) Allisa: for also blogging about her micro-preemie. Imagine my suprise (and happiness) when, while attending a pediatrician orientation for our teeny tiny babies, I met a wonderful couple who seemed a little too trigger happy with their hand sanitizer (a move we Collins' were/are very familiar with!). Allisa, and her husband Joel, welcomed their son, Jett, into the world ahead of schedule like us! We joke that someday Jett and Beatrice Kate will grow up, get married and produce their own teeny babies. Though, in reality, after the rough start they've both had in life, we're just happy too see our kids grow up!If you get a chance, read her blog and their family's story and you'll see... being neurotic about germs really is a result of our NICU stint.

So, there you have it. Check out their blogs and continue to follow ours!  Thanks again!

Monday, September 27, 2010

By the way...

If you read our blog, leave a comment or become a follower! We would love to know who all cares what we're up to these days.

Interestingly, Blogspot has a function that tracks where our "audience" is located... apparently, we have readers in Canada, Denmark, France and even Russia. Who the heck are these people? I'm so intrigued!

I mean, I knew Bea had fans-- but I didn't know she was internationally known!

Over-sized weekend

This weekend was filled with three things-family, friends and faith, and by filled, we mean stuffed.

On Friday night, Casey's brother and his fiance, Evan and Leah drove down from Arlington, VA in anticipation of Beatrice Kate's baptism on Sunday. Saturday saw the arrival of Grandma Betsy, Mandrake and MiMi and later that night- Grammy Kate, Auntie Carson, Great Aunt Missy and Cousin Emily.

We'll get to the visits in a moment, but first, we need to backtrack to fully understand just how busy/tired/exhausted we were before everyone arrived. As I mentioned, my dear husband decided two weeks ago to renovate our kitchen. Then he promptly got sick leaving me to do some most of the work for a week (oh, while taking care of our demon sweet baby Bea and keeping up the house for showings and cooking...). Last weekend, Casey finished sanding the remaining cabinetry and we both worked until midnight every night last week to get things completed before everyone we knew came to our house this weekend. Luckily, by Saturday morning, we had the "visible" parts completed (just don't look too hard-- there's still work to be done) and hardware installed.

To make things extra awesome, Beatrice Kate picked last week to have three days of complete, incredible meltdowns during both the day and nights. Starting on Wednesday, she began a full 45 minute scream-fest, which started out of the blue for no apparent reason (trust me, I stripped her naked to inspect for visible signs of distress or a mysterious bug bite or something!?!). Then Thursday, from about 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., she would alternate screaming with 5-10 minute naps. This prompted several frantic phone calls to Dear Husband, with said screaming child in the background.

To quote my husband, "I was really worried that I would be coming home to a dog with a broken rib because you were so frustrated and needed to take it out on someone." It was that rough. On a really cute note... because of her lack of naps on Thursday, she fell asleep in her Bumbo chair (see video below for evidence):


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

This cuteness wore off quickly when on Thursday night, she screamed from 2 a.m. until 4:30 a.m., until I finally caved and put her in bed with us (that sneaky rascal, she's already learned how to manipulate the system). Friday night, she woke up at 2 a.m.; but was able to go back to sleep with the assistance of her pacifier. Saturday night... she woke up at 4 a.m. only to stay up until after 5, at which point I needed to get up anyway to get things ready for her post-baptism brunch.

All this to say- we were tired.

Speaking of her baptism...
I've already mentioned that we were flooded with family (which was great!). From Friday to Monday, we we have been surrounded by relatives who just love our little baby. Sunday, we baptized Bea at our church, Raleigh Moravian. The entire collection of Bea supporters took up an amazing 7-8 pews at the church. We are so blessed to have that many people care and pray for our family and for Bea from before she was born, throughout our NICU stay and even today. It meant the world to us to have our friends and family witness this special event.
Who needs communion crackers, when you have this tasty hand to chew on?

Bea couldn't have been more perfect during the service. Despite only have a short 45 minute nap that morning, and being awake for nearly 2 hours just prior to her "debut"- she was all smiles. Throughout her baptism, she alternated staring at the minister and the cross (good girl!) and took in the view during her "baby parade". I'm pretty sure she melted the hearts of every single church goer that morning. I mean, check out her cheeks in that hat- you would be touched too:
Contain yourself: These cheeks are addictive

After the church service, we hosted a brunch for her entourage at our home afterward. Here's a picture of the spread (after Granny got her serving of course):
Sunday's finest
And desserts:
Yes, I did make the cakes
I think I held my baby for all of 40 minutes the entire day, not including nursing sessions, because she was passed around between each of her seven grandparents throughout the party. Of course, after the Satan-like qualities she displayed the previous week; Bea made Casey and I look like fools when she was a golden child all weekend long- even though she didn't take a nap the entirety of Sunday afternoon. Actually, she probably made other people want to have a baby just like her- she was that well-behaved and cute (teenagers shouldn't have been around her). She really knows how to ham it up.

When everyone left, Casey and I relaxed and got to take a nap.
Note: Matching guts
 We went to bed early last night and (thankfully) Beatrice Kate returned to her 11 hour slumbers.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

9 things I love...

Another mom blogger posted a list this week about "9 Things I Love- a New Mom List". It got me thinking... I would like to do the same. So, if you're looking for a "perfect gift" for another new mom, here are my recommendations (in no particular order):


#1: Cloth Diapering: I know , I know. You're probably thinking... cloth diapering? Yuck. But the truth is, it's awesome. It's cheap. It's good for the environment. When we first got pregnant, we knew we would cloth diaper. Of course, we weren't planning on birthing a two pounder, whose first diapers weren't much bigger than a panty liner. But, we always looked forward to the day when Bea got big enough to wrap her tiny behind in cloth! When she first came home, she was (still) too tiny ; but within a month... BINGO! She hit the 6 pound recommendation and we were off. To understand the basics of cloth diapering, Casey and I went to a tutorial at The Diapering Doula. We first used a diaper service, where we just shoved all the dirties into a "wet bag" (which should be named the stink bag) and once a week, the dirties were exchanged for cleaner ones. Then, our service ran out and we started thinking about the (cost) benefits of washing our own diapers. Luckily, the same week our service ended, Karissa (the Diapering Doula) had a consignment sale of "service pre-loved" diapers for a quarter each. For about $14 I was able to get all the cloth diapers Bea will need until she's toilet trained. See, I told you... Cloth Diapering is cheap! It also has prevented ZERO diaper rash! One other benefit to cloth... the cute covers and giant tush (see below).
Tiny Badonkadonk

#2: Tiny Love mobile mobile: Beatrice Kate has never been a baby who loves car rides. Often I hear other new mothers say "Oh, I just put little Johnny in his carseat and drive around and he goes straight to sleep". This is so not the case for Bea. In fact, as I mentioned before, she hate car rides. This isn't too bad of a problem when Casey and I are together with her in a car. I usually sit in the back and try to entertain her with toys, milk, etc.  But, as you know, our house is on the market and since I can't leave her here when we have showings during the day... we all (the dogs, Bea and I) pile into the car like gypsies and drive around Raleigh. To combat the 100% chance Bea will have an extreme meltdown for the entire hour we're driving; I bought this, the Clip & Go Musical Mobile. It clips to her car seat's handle and has two settings. One side features black and white images for use while she's younger and on the flip side are dangling insects (which velcro down when not in use) to catch her attention when she's a bit older. It also has a "mute" mode where it will just spin the objects without music (You can only hear the same Mozart song so many times). This thing is like baby Prozac. Usually, as soon as it's switched on she immediately goes quiet. Even at my post-pardum check-up at the Ob-Gyn's office, she was happy as a clam waiting on me.

#3: The Miracle Blanket: This. Thing. Is. Amazing. We have 3 and would have 15 if they weren't $30 each (though, their worth every penny). It's a swaddler spin-off from Dr. Harvey Karp's "Happiest Baby on the Block" 5-S suggestion (swaddle, side or stomach, shush, swing, suck) to calm a colicky baby. Essentially, it's a baby straight jacket, that traps baby's arms down and helps swaddle them tightly. Bea can't sleep at night without it.She's starting to outgrow it (Her little Baby Hulk legs ripped the side out of one the other night) and we're starting to get itchy thinking about the sleepless nights ahead when she no longer fits in one.

#4: Fisher Price Nature's Touch Cradle Swing: We inherited this swing from our dear friends, The Melameds and their triplets and feel like we might as well have been given gold. What makes this swing so amazing is that it can swing front to back and side-to-side. You can also raise and lower the angle of the seat. So, if you're baby is a refluxer (who does that sound like?), you can let them sit up a little more. When Bea was smaller, and her reflux was at a peak, we would put her to sleep (what little she slept) in this swing and crank it up. She loved it. The more violent the swinging, the happier she was. Now, she's getting bigger (and subsequently, heavier) we're seeing the only drawback to this particular model- battery operation. We're going through about a pack of D batteries a week and those babies don't come cheap.

#5: Buy Buy Baby:  I love this store not only because I hate Babies R Us with a fiery vengeance, but because it really is that awesome. The staff is incredibly friendly and always available for help. The store is laid out in a very common sense way. Stuff is easy to find, and it's neatly organized. You can't catch a staph infection like you can at Babies R Us. It's very clean.The registry people were so incredibly helpful and they'll even assign you a "personal shopper" to help identify what items you should put on your registry. Oh, and their "thank you for registering with us" gift was incredible. It had all kinds of goodies and samples. Babies R Us only gives you MRSA a crap box of useless coupons and one Huggies diaper.

#6: Aiden and Anais Swaddle Blankets: I've already mentioned how Beatrice Kate prefers to sleep in lock down at night; but I feel like I will give her rotator cuffs permanent damage if I keep her in the Miracle all day too. However, she can't sleep period, not even to nap, if she's not swaddled (those darn hands of hers are just too interesting). I had been using the Kiddopotomus velco swaddlers for a while, but Baby Hulk is easily able to bust out of them. When she was tiny, I could easily swaddle her in a thermal knit blanket we have, like they did in the NICU, and she had a harder time escaping (don't ask me why). But, alas, she is no longer the size of a deck of cards, so blankets weren't an option. Luckily, our friends The Shores, who have twins girls, gave us their A+A Swaddles and they are great! They're nearly 3 x 3 ft so they're plenty big enough and they're made of muslin, which is just stretchy enough to give Bea little wiggle room, but still allowing for a really tight, secure swaddle. They're also light weight so she doesn't sweat to death, and we can use it as a light blanket, nursing shawl, etc.

#7: Boudreaux's Butt Paste: Funny name, serious stuff. I've already said how cloth diapering results in no diaper rash, but I neglected to say that another reason for this is Butt Paste (diaper rash cream). We never leave home without it! It's more expensive than the traditional, old school creams like A+D Ointment or Desitin Creme but this stuff is great, and you can use it with cloth diapers (at least, we've never had a problem with it washing out). It also has a nice scent that is decidedly "baby" smelling- so pleasant.

#8: Moby Wrap: Oh, Moby Wrap, how I love thee. Where do I begin with my love for this thing? It's 100% cloth, so it doesn't have any pesky straps or irritating buckles. Just a giant, long piece of stretchy fabric that you tie and fold in various ways to create a variety of options for carrying your baby. You can snuggle Baby in close, face them outwards so they can see the world, nurse in it, do Kangaroo Care in it and more! Also because it's fabric, you can put it on when you leave the house and leave it on when you drive to various locations. This is great because I've spent a lot of time in parking lots across Wake County trying to get Bea into various baby carriers (we have a lot) and we both end up frustrated and sweaty in the end. With the Moby, I just hop out of the driver's seat, slip her into the wrap and we're off! It carries children up to 35 lbs, so we've got a while to go before she grows out of it (and is hopefully walking around by then!).

#9: Anything by Betsy B: Who is Betsy B? She's this lady:
A Totally Hip Grandma
She's Bea's Grandma (Casey's mom) and she's a whiz at making stuff. Think I'm kidding? So far, since Bea's been born, she's made several hats, 3-4 dresses, pants, one of a kind onesies, my diaper bag (yea, for real), oh and just about everything in Bea's nursery. Literally, everything. Drapes, play quilts, crib bumpers and skirt, toy boxes, decorations, pillows. See:
That's a lot of sewing

You name it, she can make it. She's a great person to know if you are looking for a really unique, special gift or if, you know... you have her grandchild.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Who does Beatrice Kate look like?

Exhibit A:
Future Giant Head

Exhibit B: 

King Giant Head


The results are in... Casey, you are the father. Now, that's settled.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beatrice Kate speaks

A week for firsts...

It's absolutely amazing how fast Beatrice Kate is learning new things. This week alone brought several firsts for her.

For example- a few weeks ago, I bought Bea a doorway jumper. With power thighs like hers, she was born to jump. The first few times we put her in it, she didn't quite know what to do. Last weekend, we stepped out of the room only to hear her shrieking with laughter and when we came to investigate, we found her bouncing like crazy!

Also this week, she's started to reach and grab for things. Her most favorite item seems to be a bright yellow toothbrush. I mean, there's a 50/50 shot she's inherited my teeth, and if so, she'll be thankful for that early intervention in a few years (as will our checking account).
Keepin' those pearly whites minty fresh

She also learned to sit upright in her Bumbo chair and select items off of a tray in front of her:
I'll take this, and this, and this, and...
On Monday, I bought an Exersaucer at a consignment sale. At first she wasn't so keen on it but by the end of the week, she started tolerating about 20 minutes in it and LOVES the piano we've rigged up to it. I went to get groceries out of the car on Wednesday while she was watching House in it and from in the garage, I could hear the distinctive "tink, tink, tink" sounds from her baby Baby Grand. Here's a short video of her in action (notice the baby toothbrush in her left hand. The kid won't put it down!):

There is a video above here. If you don't see it, click here.

Each day, she's been getting better at it. In fact, just today I caught her practicing on her own.
Singer/Song Writer




She also wore her first pair of jeans this week:
Blue Jean Baby
All this commotion was cause for relaxation... no practice needed for this. It's 100% genetic:
Chillaxin'
She'll need all the rest she can get because in less than one week, she'll have 30 of her closest friends and family in town (and at our house) to celebrate her baptism at Raleigh Moravian. More on that, and pictures from the event next week.

Mamarazzi

It's no secret... I'm a little neurotic particular about things; possibly even borderline OCD about certain issues.

For example, I really like for the shower curtain in our guest bath to be perfectly straight and evenly spaced at the top. In my head, this is a logical way to prevent mildew from growing in the folds of an un-straightened shower curtain. Casey thought I should be institutionalized when he first witnessed my need to put on the same number of deodorant strokes on each armpit every day. Seriously, I count the strokes out loud to make sure I don't mess it up. I can't continue to type a sentence if the squiggly little red line indicates that I have a misspelled word. It just has to be corrected before I can move forward with the thought.

In college, I would sort out my forks, knives and spoons before I put them in the dishwasher (of course now, Casey's lucky if the dishes are even clean). I like for the toilet paper in our bathrooms to come over the top and roll under. I don't like to wear socks to bed because I don't like the way socked feet feel on sheets. The sound of someone brushing their teeth (besides me) makes my skin crawl, and for a long time, I wouldn't share a toothpaste tube with anyone. Not. Even. Family. (Uh, that science degree wasn't for nothing... germs are REAL)

Anyway, you get my point. I get fixated to the point of being ridiculous. So, it should come as no big surprise that becoming a parent to a micro-preemie has brought on an entirely new level of crazy to my life (and to Casey's). Poor, little Beatrice Kate is the focus of my newest obsession. Well, not so much her, as it is something terrible happening to her; like her dying.

I'm pretty sure this latest "tick" started when she was born so very premature and we never knew what each day would bring the NICU. As I washed my hands at the check-in desk each morning, an overwhelming feeling of anxiety would creep over me as I got closer to her bedside. Did she do OK last night? Is she getting stronger today? Weaker? We just never knew until we got there or called on our way there. Speaking of calling, I never actually had the courage to call and speak to her nurses each night. I forced my poor husband to call, sometimes 2-3 times within a 4 hour period, just to check on her (even when I would spend 12+ hours next to her each day). I would sit next to him each night when he called and ask a hundred times, "What EXACTLY did they say?" or "Tell me again how good they said she did" or "What was her weight/did she poop/has she moved since I was there?" over and over until I fell asleep.The thought that if I called and just once, the nurses didn't have something positive to report would be just too much to bear.

When she was released from the hospital, I started fearing that the doctors had somehow made a mistake and would call any moment to tell us to bring her back- that they actually mean to discharge the other Beatrice Kate. Maybe they would force us to bring her back if she didn't weigh enough at her next check-up. As a result, I would feed her constantly and wrap her up like a little Eskimo baby even in late spring so she could use her energy for growing- until a friend reminded us that "babies shouldn't be sweating". I'm sure she was thisclose to a heat stroke!

Then it became a fear of SIDS. Even though she slept either in my arms or directly next to me, I was just convinced that something could happen to her if I closed my eyes for a little sleep. I found myself holding my giant ear next to her tiny nose to hear her take each breathe, or put my hand on her chest to feel it rise and fall.Of course, this almost always woke her up and I cursed myself for doing it.

When we first moved her into her own room, part of my anxiety about it was because I feared someone breaking into our house to steal her away in the night. Or, maybe, if our house would be struck by a fluke lightening rod or her nightlight spontaneously ignite and her drapes caught fire, I worried that we couldn't get to her room in time to get her out in time.

With winter coming on, I am absolutely petrified that she will come down with RSV or a cold or the flu and wind up in the hospital or that she might not recover at all!

So, needless to point out, being a parent has made me insane.I realize it's ridiculous. I'm not sure how to break this little obsession before it gets anymore out of control. A friend (and NICU nurse) of mine suggested a video monitor so I would video-stalk my baby while she is napping.  Casey says to get over it... or she'll be the only kid likely to show up for 3 year old soccer in full football safety gear and bubble wrap. Hopefully, as she gets older and stronger, I'll learn to relax a little more. Actually, who are we kidding? It'll only get worse I'm sure!

In my defense though... it's easy to get obsessed with a face like this:
Warning: kissing these cheeks may lead to addicition

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Busy Bea

 
Hats are so in this season
This weekend held a lot of activity for the Collins Family, beginning with a visit from Grandma Betsy (Casey's mom). She brought up Beatrice Kate's baptism dress (why, yes, Bea will be sporting the latest and greatest from the Betsy B fall line) for a final fitting. It is SO CUTE. I would post pictures on here, but I want everyone to be surprised at how adorable Bea looks in it at her baptism in two weeks. Grandma also made Bea a new dress and a matching headband. What? A girl's got to look her best!


After Grandma went back to Winston-Salem, Mandrake and MiMi (Ashley's dad and step-mom) arrived for their visit. We all loaded up in MiMi's Christmas Car and headed downtown to The Busy Bea Bee Cafe for a late lunch. True to form, Beatrice Kate pitched a whale of a fit the entire trip there, which reached full intensity and peaked when she worked herself up so much, she actually started choking on her own saliva. Luckily, we were just pulling into the parking garage downtown, so MiMi and I pulled her out of her carseat faster than if it were on fire. Good grief that kid hates her carseat.

Mandrake and MiMi post-meltdown
Also happening in downtown Raleigh that day were the annual "Dog Olympics" at Moore Square, just around the corner from Busy Bea Bee so we strolled over for a bit. (Side note to Mandrake: Turns out, there is a Dog Paraolympics for dogs like Lilly; although, I don't know if canine anger issues are a qualifying disability... she may need a wheelchair like the Dachshund we saw.)

After a full-day out in public, which neither Bea or I get very often, we were all worn out and went back to stately Collins Manor, which by the way, is still for sale. Bea quickly went from this:
Out of her carseat, feelin' fine
 To this:
And that's not even a milk-induced stupor









Mandrake and MiMi went back to McAdenville on Sunday afternoon, leaving my husband time to come up with this brilliant idea:

Oh, Boy. There's no turning back now
Oh yeah, now he's sick and has been in bed most of the day so I've been left to start painting the cabinets. Did I mention that our house is still for sale? That's right... and we have a showing in 3 days?

6 month check-up and T-minus 18 days until Quarantine ...

Today was Beatrice Kate's 6 month check-up at her pediatrician's office, Dr. Calm. (Side note: Her name isn't really Dr. Calm, but she is the most easy going person I've ever met and makes us feel like champion first time parents!)

Bea is doing BEAUTIFULLY, and her weight is finally (for the very first time in her life) able to be plotted on the growth curve. Granted, this data point comes in at 3% level, but we'll take what we can get! Her weight vs. length curve is even better, coming in at a whopping 67%. This means, she's is indeed her mother's child and will more than likely face a lifetime of chunkiness. She's also developing at around a 3-4 month old (which is what we would expect, seeing as she was BORN 3 MONTHS EARLY!)

Also at today's check-up we were reminded that a preemie's most risky time of their lives outside of the NICU is fast approaching... RSV Season.

What is RSV? We're glad you asked. RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus infection) is a very common wintertime ailment. In a healthy adult, it's symptoms are identical to a bad cold (coughing, sneezing, sore throat, etc.) In a premature baby with weak lungs, RSV can quickly turn into pneumonia and a cause for re-hospitalization.To minimize the impact of this virus should she come down with it, Beatrice Kate will begin receiving a monthly shot called Synagis on November 1 until March, in addition to her yearly flu vaccine in October.

It's such worry for preemie parents because kids can die from complications from RSV. In fact, click here to read about a fellow NICU family who lost their 29 weeker (same as Bea) in April 2009.

Seeing as we've had enough of hospitals for a while, Dr. Calm recommended that starting in October, Beatrice Kate (and subsequently Mommy) should be essentially quarantined in our home until cold/flu/RSV season is over. Aside from being bored out of our minds, this means:

1: No large crowds over 4-5 people (Unfortunatley, this means no Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings with my giant family, no parties,etc.)
2: No hanging around other kids; especially kids who go to daycare, school, hang out in public, etc.
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.
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).
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.

Basically, we're about to become hermits. But if it means Bea stays happy and healthy throughout this winter (the most critical one she'll ever face), we'll deal. However, if you're in the area with a new movie, book or anything that could keep two cabin-fevered parents busy; feel free to stop by (of course, only if you're healthy and clean :) ).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Six Months ...

In six months, Beatrice Kate has gone from looking like this:

To this:


It's hard to believe that the pudgy, smiley, happy baby we so dearly love is the same tiny, frail, skinny little baby we cried and prayed over every day in the NICU, who weighed less than a chihuahua or even a large Ribeye.

In six months, Bea has developed into such an amazing individual. She's beginning to voice her likes and dislikes, show preferences for time with Mommy and Daddy, wiggle around when she hears music and laugh out loud at things that make her smile.

In six months, we are beginning to heal from her traumatic birth- as a family. No matter how much time passes, we will never be able to simply "forget it". Beatrice Kate will always be just a little more special than other babies. Having a premature baby changed our lives, changed our family, changed us as individuals. One day, we hope to be able to express in words to everyone the incredible highs of being thrust into the world of parenthood (by fire). We'll also share the unbelievable, emotional lows we went through during the ordeal as we watched our tiny, frail baby put up an amazing fight to get healthy and come home with us. One day, we won't flinch when we hear the beeping of the grocery store scanner that sounds so similar to the hospital alarms and monitors she was hooked up to. One day, we'll be able to hear stories about other NICU families and their tiny babies and not get choked up, or see reminders of her hospital stay (pulse ox monitors, hand sanitizer, etc.) without feeling the scar on our hearts that the NICU left.

One day, but not today. Today we're simply grateful to love Beatrice Kate for an extra 3 months more than we were supposed to have .

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sick and Tired of being sick and tired ...


Top 5 reasons why being a sick baby sucks:
1) You can't ever seem to find the words to tell that Mommy lady exactly what's wrong, so you resort to random wails and cries
2) The Nose Suction Blub vs. tiny nostrils- need we say more?
3) Babies are obligate nose breathers. This means, when your nose gets stopped up, it impairs your ability to breathe which hinders your ability to sleep, play and even ...
4) Nursing with a stuffy nose is impossible. Have you ever tried gulping down a gallon of milk without air?
5) Rectal thermometer checks every diaper change...uh, personal space violation, I'm sure.

Top 5 reasons why having a sick baby (especially a preemie) sucks:
1) Said baby cries and moans all day and the guilt from hearing such wails and not being able to fix it reduces a mother to tears in 30 minutes flat.
2) The NOSE SUCTION BLUB and tiny nostrils... Baby's nostrils seem to actually get smaller when trying to use this device. Child Protective Services could be called when trying to hold down baby, pin down arms and try to simultaneously suction out the crud inside her tiny nose.
3) Babies are obligate nose breathers. This means, more frequent use of the suction bulb each time the mommy hears her baby struggle to breathe when taking a nap, which impairs baby's ability to sleep and drives the mother even closer to the edge of madness and concern over whether or not pneumonia could be setting in (99% of the time... it's not).
4) Nursing a baby with a stuffy nose is impossible. Being concerned that they can breathe, while ensuring they get adequate fluids to get better will drive a mother crazy. This leads to hourly pestering of the father by the mother of "do you think she got enough?", "does she look hungry?", "should I try to feed her again?", "what do you think?", etc. Doesn't bode well for martial happiness.
5) Rectal thermometer checks at every diaper change, whereby any (we mean any) slight increase sends mother into a panic that at any moment the baby could "spike a fever" and need hospitalization (this is where the "especially preemie" bit comes into consideration). Also, when baby's final temperature of the night reaches 100.1, the father is forced to step in and wrangle phone away from the mother while she frantically tries to call... the pediatrician, her mother, 911...ANYBODY who can provide advice!

Needless to say, we're VERY happy Beatrice Kate is feeling better today.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

D-Day

Well, it's here... the day Casey and I officially start our new diet. I know, I know. We've "started" a new diet several times since becoming parents- but this time we're announcing it on the internet so we can be heckled when we start to fall off the wagon.

We're beginning a diet called "The F-Factor Diet" by which we'll stop eating all bad carbs and crap and start eating more vegetables and proteins. The idea is that we'll be so full of high-fiber (the F standing for Fiber), hunger-combating protein, that we won't feel the need to stuff our faces with tortilla chips and fast-food snacks.

Really, we don't eat a lot of overly processed foods to begin with; but Casey and I each have the biggest sweet tooth (teeth?) you've ever seen. We can't just stop at one bite of ice cream, one cookie, one tiny sliver of cake. No, we rationalize eating an entire half gallon of Bryer's by saying that "it's best to get it out of the house quickly so as not to tempt ourselves". Trashing it, of course, never being an option. When Beatrice Kate was born, we (gratefully) at whatever was left on our doorsteps when we came home after long days in the NICU or whatever we could pick-up at a drive-thru in our Zombie-like worry during the ordeal. I guess we would try to fill the void of Bea's empty Co-Sleeper with delicious milkshakes and brownies (Somehow, dressing Cooper in baby clothes and swaddles just wasn't the same substitute). Then, when she came home, she didn't sleep and we didn't cook. As a result, we got "re-hooked" onto a super sugar-filled, convenience diet.

Well, enough is enough! Bea's sleeping like champ, acting like a normal baby and we're still eating like crap. We're both way too heavy and I absolutely refuse to wear maternity jeans for another fall (except of course at Thanksgiving). We'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hairstyling by Bea

Where instead of hairspray... the product of choice is baby vomit:

At this rate, any future hair growth may knot directly into dreadlocks. In fact, we got so tired of mopping it off of her outfits this weekend, we resorted to what we lovingly call the "Trailer Baby" look:

Loaded Labor Day

After nearly 6 months of incredibly busy, house-chores filled weekend... we FINALLY had a relaxing, family-centric few days.

Saturday

We spent the day just hanging out with our girl, starting with coffee (for us, not her) on the deck. It's starting to get a little chilly in the mornings, so Bea got a chance to sport the first hat Grandma Betsy ever made for her (she can fit into it now!). She's spent the past 3 nights in her crib, sleeping eleven hour stints again, so in general she's been in a very pleasant mood during daylight hours. That evening, we had dinner with our friends, the Melameds and their Triplameds. They also had friends visiting from Australia so it was nice to hear their accents. Casey tried Vegemite for the first time, and to the disgust of the other dinner party guests, didn't think it was totally gross.

Sunday
We made it back to church after a brief three week hiatus due to family visits and visiting family. Beatrice Kate celebrated this event by sneaking in a surprise vomit under Casey's jacket lapel. Of course, we didn't notice until we were in church, seated next to a very nice lady who pointed it out to him. Bea is, unfortunately, starting to grow out of the "go to sleep during service" age but her immune system is still too weak to stay in the nursery. So, this week we (Bea and Ashley) spent a good portion of the message pacing in the narthex trying to convince her to take a short, quiet nap. We're very much looking forward to Beatrice Kate's baptism on September 26. The people at Raleigh Moravian were a large part of the prayer contingency that supported Beatrice Kate and us while she was in the hospital. There were many, many nights we would come home from a 15 hour day at Bea's bedside and there would be food, desserts or kind notes on our doorsteps.

That afternoon, we had a few friends over for a pre-Labor Day cookout. Dinners are really tricky for us now, seeing as Bea goes to bed each night at 7:30 and morphs into a tiny demon spawn from 6:30 on. Luckily, most of our friends are in the same situation, so a late lunch worked best for everyone! Bea had three of her friends among the guests and in case you're wondering what 6 month olds do when they hang out, here's a little glimpse:

It's quite a wild time.

Monday
We took Beatrice Kate to her first baseball game today to see the Durham Bulls play the Norfolk Tide. She's got a bit of growing to do before she'll fit into her new free hat.
It was their last regular season game, and Bea couldn't have done better! Of course, having a giant ceiling fan just above our section helped a lot with her attention span. Though we had really great seats (aisle seats in case of emergency meltdown), we took advantage of an empty party deck at the top of the section and enjoyed our ballpark snacks at our very own picnic table. By "enjoy our snacks", I mean, "drop bits of peanuts and nachos on top of our sleeping child". Here's a case study of cause and effect:
Casey eating peanuts...
results in Beatrice Kate being covered in food reminants (look are at the image on the right and you can see the peanut-y bits). I'm pretty sure we'll be paid a visit by Child Services in the near future.









After a quick snack at the end of the game thanks to my newly acquired nursing shawl (yes, I am nursing at a ball game; notice the tiny feet sticking out on the right), we were back to the house for a quick nap and bedtime.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sleep Wars


For while now, Casey and I have been engaged in a long fought battle for sleep. After a rough start, things had gotten relatively routine, with Bea sometimes sleeping as much as 10 or 11 hours. Somewhere in the course of the past two weeks... something's changed.

Before we get into the new issues, I think it's important to understand her "sleep history"...

Sure, every new parent goes through the same no-sleep issues, but for parents of a preemie with SEVERE acid reflux, the first hint of twilight brings in a tide of anxiety and dread. Once the sun started setting, I would get the largest pit in my stomach!

For the first few weeks Beatrice Kate was home from the NICU, Casey and I would take turns sleeping on the couch holding our tiny (4 lb!) baby upright in our arms. Of course, by "sleeping", I mean, sitting in a zombie-like haze while said tiny baby grunted, wiggled and actually slept for no more than 45 minutes at a time.

We have come a long, long way since those days thanks to a combination of medication (Prilosec and Zantac, actually) and Bea's maturity. Beatrice Kate (thankfully) now sleeps laying down in a bassinet that attaches to our bed called a Co-Sleeper, and my husband and I can once again are able to share a bed! We end each day with Bea around 7:30 by changing her clothes, administering her meds and spending time with Bea in what Casey calls "Kicking Time". This basically consists of Beatrice Kate spastically flailing her arms and legs like an updside down beetle and squealing with delight. Then it's time to get dressed, get Miracled (or as we call it "Baby Burrito-ed") and nurse down.

Now, here's where the problem begins...
For about two months, Bea had been sleeping great in the Co-Sleeper. Going down by 7:30 and waking around 5:30 a.m. for a quick breakfast and more napping. We thought, "Whew, finally, we've gotten over the worst of the sleeping and we can look forward to long nights of sleep again". Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Two weeks ago, Beatrice Kate decided to Indian Give our restfulness and started grunting, chatting (yes, she's found her voice) and demanding a feeding at random hours throughout the nights. Sometimes its 2 a.m., sometimes it's 3:30, others 4:30... however, last night it was midnight!! I can't tell if she's doing this to "test" me to see if she's served up a helping of breastmilk on demand or if she truly is hungry. I think it may be a test that I'm failing because when she's put to breast, she's using this time to play, talk, smile and coo at me. Don't get me wrong, it is REALLY cute, however at 2 a.m., I am less then excited to chat about her day.

Last night, things came to breaking point. After refusing to nap all afternoon, we put her to bed at 8:00, and we went to bed around 10:30. At 11, Bea decided... oh, it's leg lift and grunt time. So for an hour, she proceeded to do miniature ab-strengthening moves and wiggle herself nearly out of the Co-Sleeper. Then she decided "I would like to talk now", and chatted to herself (next to me) for another 45 minutes. After that, I caved and nursed her, in an attempt to get her to go back to sleep. She didn't. As a result, Beatrice Kate did something we didn't think she would do until she was over a year old (or that I wouldn't be ready for her to do)- I put her to sleep, for the night, in her crib... IN HER ROOM... AWAY FROM ME! After an initial check to make sure I could hear her breathe on the monitor, (I'm almost ashamed to admit this) I got the best night's sleep I've had in 6 months.

I didn't think I would be able to bear the thought of Bea sleeping anywhere but next to us for a long, long time. However, it looks like we both get a more restful snooze when we're separated. As long as she doesn't start acting like I embarrass her at playgroups for a while... I think I can live with this!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Quick comparison

Just to showcase how much Beatrice Kate has grown in a little over four months... here are two pictures for comparison:

This is from the day she came home from the hospital on April 28:















And this is from two days ago:




















She's a little bigger, huh?