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).