Friday, February 29, 2008

Towards the beginning of the week I got samples in the mail. I love samples. I also love hair stuff. What I got was a little packet of naked naturals awapuhi and lavender shampoo. Smells wonderful, which is my main criteria in new shampoos. I mean, if I'm going to be spending that kind of time and effort on my hair -which is now longer than it's been ever before- it has to smell nice when I'm done with it.

In the next year or so I'm fully expecting to smell like formula and spitup most of the time. That's another reason why my hair is so important. And I don't fuss with it either. I just want it clean and tangle free without having to leave chunks of my hair on the brush everytime I go through it. A major drawback to long hair is the amount of time I spend combing and brushing it. Especially after a washing. When your hair gets long enough that it's easier to just wash it in the bathtub under the faucet twice a week, you appreciate the benefits of a good shampoo just that little bit more. I like using natural shampoo, especially one that makes those long hairs stronger and less likely to be left behind in the brush.

Something I learned about the Naked Naturals company in the course of this trial is that they don't use a lot of the harsher chemicals in their products. This goes with my philosophy of having non-toxic products in my home. I learned when my daughter was born that the more I could keep chemicals and toxic things out of the house the healthier we both stayed. Now I've got a son that has the same fragility problems that she was born with. It just makes more sense to stay away from products that poison the environment. Where does the runoff from our house go? I do not know, and I think I'm happier not knowing, but eventually it is going to dump out in the environment somewhere. What are all those residues going to do to animal life, to plant life? I don't consider myself a crunchy granola mom, but I do know all about the cumulative effects of stuff. The less I add to those accumulations the better, right? Which is why I might just consider switching my preferred brand of shampoo to this company.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It started like the opening shots of a horror film. Or at least, the horror films I might possibly be conned into watching. Not a slasher flick, just a medical horror thing. Her hands worked with puzzle pieces and suddenly we saw that they were moving from pink to red. Very red. Puffy red. My mom rolled the sleeves back a bit and saw it spread from her hands to her arms to the rest of her body. In the space of about an hour her small frame was covered in blotchy cherry-red patches of small white bumps. It covered her face with three groups. Smeared her torso with ugliness. Showed up behind her knees and in the curve under her chin.

Other than that she seemed perfectly fine.

Spent the afternoon at Urgent Care, watching the spots come and go. Come and go. We come and we go. Read a lot of Dick and Jane while waiting. Colored a lot of pictures. Tried to explain that we do not also color the floor of the isolation room.

Verdict came down- this is an allergic reaction. To something. The doctor lit up when I told him that she eats a peanut butter sandwich every evening before bed. Oh, well, then it must be that she's allergic to peanuts. I don't buy that theory. Not when she presented with this so suddenly and violently well after peanut contact.

My thought is that it's something in the air. She had just been on a walk around the neighborhood in a new direction. The air here- it's pretty bad. My own allergies which aren't that bad have had me itching and stuffily miserable for the past three days. My mom took a walk at the start of the rainy season, came home, and was in bed for almost a week unable to clear her lungs fully.

Either way, I have now completely made up my mind- no more allergy attacks are allowed here. It's freaky-scary, when she's in a program with so many other kids that have to be so careful of germs, and when we've successfully avoided most illness things in her young life. Like the first time a parent freaks out when their newborn has a bad cold. I lost my lid completely over blotchy, swift moving hives. Here's hoping that today brings a better story.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I can do it, five minutes at a time. If I don't think too much about stuff I can't control, if I don't second-guess my decisions constantly today, I can do this.

See, I ended my Friday coming to grips with making the decision to stop pumping. It should be an unqualified relief to give myself permission to stop obsessing over my milk supply. I don't like feeling like a failure because I "only" pumped for three months. Pumping's harder than nursing, and when your baby is somewhere else it can feel like a thankless task.

But enough of my pity party. It's been a weekend of guilt, compounded by a bad case of the sniffles. That's another thing I hate. Not feeling quite good enough to get off my butt and do something "productive" with my time, not feeling bad enough to justify taking Serious Cold Medication and trying to sleep it off. And what would I do with the Toddler if that were the case? She's not sick. She misses her mommy when I go and give into the depression like I've done. While I try not to let it affect her, it does, and I find myself getting more depressed over not being there for her in the manner that I want to be there. Make sense?

I'm going to go drink my tea, clean out my bulk mail folder, and work on the story of the Sparkly Shoes. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I'd be blogging more right now, but things have been completely insane for me emotionally speaking. The family is still in a holding pattern around Robbie's discharge- we're still waiting for him to come home to us. And I'm weaning off the pump with a lot of hard and weepy feelings. And I just don't have the energy to deal with a lot of this right now.

Thanks for reading, and check back in a few days to see if this is resolved yet.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It should be a no-brainer by now. Get up. Listen for the sweet sounds of Toddler At Play. Decide if she's going to be alright on her own for five more minutes or if I need to haul my butt out of bed sooner and hustle over there to change the pullup, dress her, make her bed and feed her breakfast. Somewhere in there I forget to dress myself or make my own bed- those things may not happen until midmorning if at all. There's laundry to do, dishes to put away, a dishwasher to start reloading, and a dozen other things on my Get Around To It list.

Where to fit in one more thing? Where to start exercising? I don't need to set it aside as something new and different, I just need to get up and on my feet. I can dance around the living room with my daughter; she loves the attention, we both get exercise. If I keep my body moving somehow for fifteen minutes a day, where will that lead? Hopefully to better stamina.

This morning the sky is clear. The air seems, if not fresh, at least less yucky. We're at a middle temperature right now. Not cold anymore, not warm, just a bit chilly and damp. The grass is back to being mowed every weekend in this development. New construction is starting around us. The fields are being plowed and seeded. This is spring, this is a year since we've been at this address. Time to move? Maybe not. Waiting on orders, waiting on finding out where we'll be moving in a year or so from now. There is nothing sweeter than looking forward to a brand new year with new adventures. Nothing sweeter, that is, except maybe having my baby boy come home. Still waiting on that. Still hoping for that to be soon.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What's the old saying, home and hearth something? I feel so domestic when I'm sitting up after the household is in bed, watching something or other on tv and doing a bit of hand sewing. Tonight it's the finishing of a flannel nightgown. And yes, I know that this has only been on my sewing bench since July or so. I've been a bit busy this past 6 months.

My little boy is still working on eating and growing. He just doesn't seem able to feed all on his own yet. It's still every other feed through the nipple and the rest through the tube, and part of some of those nipple feeds he won't finish. I'm ready for him to be home. I'm ready to start this next chapter in our lives. Ask me again if I'm this ready in a month or so, after the sleepless nights add up and drive me nutty.

I just am so dead tired already. Can't sleep a whole lot in the morning, never past 6. Can't fall asleep before 11 this week. Keep telling myself to take a sleeping pill just to enforce some of that rest. I don't know how to make that happen. I tell myself to do it then don't because what if I'm needed? What if I've got to wake up and tend to the family? The Toddler? What if something happens?

I've got to stop. Really. I just don't know how to let go of things this week.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I know it's been a long time since I got over here. Sorry. It's just been, well, odd. Not odder than normal. Just odd. Thing is, I've been nesting the past couple of days. Very strange.

I realized that Monday was my due date. Monday, my little boy became officially "born". His adjusted age is now measured in real time instead of a negative date. In theory, this means he's going to be eligible for homecoming at any time. Rule of thumb with preemies is that they are discharged around 5 pounds, their due date, and when they are able to eat and breathe on their own.

Robbie's now meeting all but one of those criteria. He's not quite taking all his feeds orally. Which means that as soon as he eats on his own, he's home. Thus my nesting frenzy.

Diaper bag! Must be packed! Baby clothes must be sorted and folded and dreamed over. Bottles washed and ready to go. Boobs instructed firmly that they must either start producing more milk or it's time to get used to not being cosseted the way they are with pumping and massaging and compressing... Either breastfeeding is going to work out or we'll be hanging up the horns because I do not have it in me to pump and supplement when Toddler-wrangling and caring for a newborn. This morning I woke up thinking that this was the day that we were going to just not pump, but I decided to sit down at the pump anyway and lo- they produced about double what I'd been seeing for a week or so now. So I'm interested to see what happens next.

The rest of my life continues. The crib has arrived. The frenzied baby shopping of last weekend is starting to trickle in by way of delivery trucks. I'm psyched. It really won't be long now.

I won't have a lot of time then, I'm sure.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I am left wondering, What the Hell?

My daughter was just born, and now she's nearly three. Nearly three, and a big sister. Again I'm left wondering what happened here. Did I blink and miss something? Did I fall asleep? Or was I just trying so hard to keep up with everything and didn't quite notice.

Somewhere in the middle of the intensive speech therapy and interventions, my daughter has picked up the whole "language" thing. She's still not so keen on using her words, but she has advanced from never wanting to acknowledge us or communicate with words with us, to using words AND using those words to communicate with us AND when she feels particularly inclined it is not unknown to hear a sentence fall from her lips. I'm so proud of her when this happens I want to pick her up and cover her face with kisses and run down the street announcing this triumph to the world.

See! My Daughter! Mine! She can talk! Just like a normal child! My daughter, she's normal! She just said a word, she just asked for a cookie, she just told me that she likes bubbles.

How warped has my pride become, or my expectations, that this is now the thing I call a triumph? I invest the same level of excitement in this that I hear from other parents whose children have just been accepted to an ivy-league school on full scholarship. My little boy took three of his feeds by mouth today, and finished the whole of his feed each time. I want to snatch him from the crib and hold him up to the world so that everyone can see how brilliant he is. You read that and say "so?" A baby. He eats. A whole 37ml. Which, for those of you who don't care to do the conversion, is 1 ounce and 1 tsp.

But for a babe who has been fed the first week or so of life solely by IV, and after that for two months by a tube run down his mouth and into his stomach, this is quite a big deal.

Guess it just goes to show that I'm a preemie mom. We left most ideas of "normal" milestones behind us the day we saw our children in an isolette on a vent. We left it with the scrub-in and the stack of clean hospital gowns, with the double-collection kits when we collected the hospital grade breast pump or made the decision that we would save our strength and focus on recovering and learning what was necessary to best care for our babies. That's not an easy decision either. As much as I've stressed over supply, that's a personal choice that I made to try to pump and if I could try to nurse. There are plenty who decide that they have to recover first- these preemies often come at the end of a sudden medical crisis. Surgeries, medical stuff that has to be medicated and monitored and there are plenty of meds that mean you can't give the milk to your babies. It's hard and sometimes painful, and it sucks (pun intended). It's harder than learning to nurse a baby. I wish those ladies well. I'm glad I was lucky. I'm grateful for my miracles.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

No, really, thank you to everyone for their continued support and prayers. From people on my forums, and the ones who check back through here for the news and to keep tabs on us- it's all been so supportive to hear. This helps me gather the strength to get up one more day with a positive outlook no matter how much my insides don't want to deal with it.

Like last night I lay awake for hours and hours thinking how my Robbie is not picking up on the feeds well at all, it seems, and this is now the only thing keeping him in the hospital, and I just wonder... is it going to happen easily or am I going to be fighting for his feeding the same way I've been fighting for my daughter's speech and naps for the whole of her life? This issue may be the Big One resulting from his prematurity, and if it is I will cope with that but this is definitely a Big One. So far not refluxing (thank God for small miracles) but just not eating. Eating is something I'll be struggling with constantly. Not like speech/language where I can throw up my hands for a day that seems too difficult and not be on my daughter's case and just love and snuggle her for endless hours. The eating will be an effort.

Right now I even feel fairly confident that I'll pick up whatever skills are needed to make it happen. I don't stress that I'll be capable of feeding him whether it's through a bottle or eventually breastfeeding -assuming my supply holds out that long. I just know that the support I've gotten until this point will continue and I'll see all those lovely pageviews climbing. It lets me know that I'm not invisible and I'm a real person after all.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I swear, these kids are more like their parents that I'm comfortable admitting. The older one- she's always been so expressive with her face. It makes up for the not communicating. People used to ask me how I would know when she was hungry/thirsty/etc when she refused to talk or look at me, and I'd shrug. You just know these things.

Part of it, obviously, that I'm her mama and thus have some sort of psychic bond to my child's brain. This is why I know instinctively when something's wrong or she's into something she shouldn't be. (Hint: the small giggle is a dead giveaway that she's into mischeif) The other part is her wonderfully expressive face as a small child. I can look at her and supply a whole conversation that fits what must be running through her brain.

The new one. Just like his big sister. Honestly, it makes me crack up to see him do this. I was holding him this evening and he had a lot of gas suddenly, and in a minute we went from placid sleepiness to bright red face and two eyes opening up as wide as they go in an OMG What is happening to me look. Confused and horrified. Then it was over. Same thing with a burp. And there was an incident with the feeding tube that I cannot put into adequate words right now. Tomorrow, probably, but not tonight.

I know this post is disjointed. I'll do better tomorrow. Right now I've got all this mixed up mess of joy and laughter and tears and exhaustion.

Peace to all of you out there. Thank you for checking in on us. Much appreciated.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Today he weighs in at 1995 grams. I asked the nurses if that was with tax or not- hey, when you're on a budget and preparing to bring a new baby home, these things are important to know.

My toddler had a wonderful day at school this afternoon. The center brought in a young baby goat for the children to "experience". It was like a petting zoo in the classroom. The goat stood in a big box of hay, the sides of which were high enough to prevent the overeager children from doing damage to the animal in their excitement. Also, the teacher to child ratio is usually one to one minimum. No harm was done, despite my daughter's repeated attempts to climb into the box after the animal.

You've got to catch her on the right days in the right mood. When all systems are go, she's the most eager, bright-eyed, normal seeming child in the world. Then there are the other days which I find myself venting about more and more on these pages. Those days I'm not talking about tonight.

The goat caused full body wiggles in her delight. She was so happy to pet the goat, to feel the straw, to make goat-like noises at the kid. Recently we've developed a love affair with Baby Einstein's MacDonald. She does love her some farm animals. Right now I'm limiting her to no more than four times a day of that video. It makes her drop everything and a smile of pure joy break on her face. That sort of smile and joy that makes my heart melt away to nothing.

I love her, and her little brother, and I am still waiting eagerly for the day when I can introduce them. For the day when I see them look at each other with understanding and a sibling bond of sorts. That day will likely not come easily, or often, but on those days when it will... that's why I do this. That's a bonus. That's why I am taking this challenge of parenting on with a right good will and a willing heart. The road is not going to be easy, but it is doable.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Is he not adorable? Time is ticking; it really won't be long now. I submit photo evidence of this. So small, and so wonderful.
Once again it is Rest Time at the homestead, and I have to ask all of you out there: What Gives?

I mean, I've given up on ever expecting a nap out of the Toddler, but she is expected to rest/play quietly in her room for the duration of said nap. Right now I'm trying to get through some laundry folding and bread baking. She's having a dance party. I've heard every musical toy go off within the past five minutes and she keeps giggling and climbing in and out of bed. This is definitely not resting.

I guess it's just the early phases of interpreting mama's instruction to her own advantage. I tell her to stay in bed. She's in bed. Granted, she's brought most of her room into bed with her, but she's physically in bed.

Yep. There was no mistake at the hospital with her. This is my child.
Will there come a time when my early morning thoughts stop revolving around milk and go back to revolving around “why can't the child(ren) let me have just five more minutes?” This morning I woke up again, all happy at the thought of pumping for one more day. Just one more day I tell myself. This is the pep talk that recovering addicts give themselves, trying to summon the courage to stay away from their drug of choice. Just take it a day at a time. This is the talk I give myself when faced with a dwindling supply and an adorable four pound baby boy who I want to thrive. I still don't know why nursing him is so important to me emotionally. Physically, he's doing just fine with the neosure and will continue to thrive. I just cringe internally when I remember how much is going against him.

Boy preemies don't thrive as well or as easily as girl preemies. I don't know why that's true, but it is. I don't even know if the doctors in their many years of practice know why this is. Boy preemies just tend to be smaller, to require more assistance, to be susceptible to certain infections, and in general not do as well. When our daughter was born and I was first learning all things preemie, I comforted myself with her femaleness. “It's a girl. That's a point in her favor.” And I would remember that in the middle of the night along with all those other things. While I was losing my mind with depression and fatigue I could remember it. For this baby? I don't know...

Which seems to be my mantra these days. I can say that over and over again without stopping. It puts my brain into a holding pattern without ever reaching a conclusion or a decision about anything. I can postpone anything if I just say that out loud. I don't know what I'm afraid of. I don't know what I want to do about it. I don't know how I'm going to be juggling both kids and their doctors, specialists, and therapists. I don't know how the Toddler will cope or regress when her brother comes into her life. I just don't know.

As complicated and scary as my first pregnancy was, it paled in comparison with the reality of a preemie daughter. As complicated and scary as the second was, I knew it would/will pale with the reality of a second. But this is not a trip to an uncharted wilderness. This is a journey back to someplace I've already been. I haven't been there in a while, and I don't remember some of the scenery, but I know that it will come back to me. I'm going to see old friends and places that are familiar to me. I'm going to have more than one moment of despair when I wonder if I'm completely lost and have forgotten to book a return ticket. I'm also going to know that this trip will be alright.

Do you remember way back when, when I would sit by the bouncy chair and cry because I couldn't see that those early days would ever end and could only have faith that somewhere, sometime, it would not be as hard? Now I have proof that they do in fact get easier. Now I can operate on more than blind faith. It's one more thing that will sustain me through the long days and nights of this upcoming year. Bring on the challenges. I'm ready.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I saw my Robbie this afternoon. It's the weekend, and this is what I do on the weekends. And guess what? He's in an open crib now. Wow! Right out there in the room air where I can see him at all angles and pick him right up and snuggle him! So I sat there and had our first feeding experience. He got about half his feeding through the bottle that I held for him. It was poky going because he refused to wake up and eat. Seriously did not want to wake up and eat. We finally gave him the rest through his feeding tube, but this is getting so close to having him come home that I'm starting to feel on pins and needles. Really.

My preemie is coming home.

I'm finally going to be an official mother of two, not just a technical mother of two. Now comes the challenges. The feedings. The diapers. The laundry.

Oh. God. The laundry!

And you know what? The most miraculous part of that homecoming that I can see is that there is a very very good possibility that this child will be coming home medication free. Is that legal? I mean, is it really possible to bring home a child of ours without medication? Just his special formula, and his regular newborn needs, and not a huge bag of medicines and eye droppers and special instructions? I could swoon at the freedom that will give me.

Not sure if that sort of freedom will make sense to other parents. Does it? You'd think that fragile newborns took away a lot of freedom as it is. But then.... the Toddler came home on two meds and they had different dosing schedules, and it finally came down to having one person (me) in charge of the whole shebang because we got so worried about coordinating it especially in the middle of the night. Anyway.

Got to go hug said Toddler. She's adorable today. More so than every other day. I love her so much and I love her brother so much and I'm getting all mushy and maternal right now.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I heard about ElectionQlips, a new blog designed to give more of an interactive approach to all this pre-election stuff. The best part that I can see is the multimedia approach. A person can comment in text, in audio or video clips, or upload their graphic responses. Just goes to show, doesn't it, that the Net is getting better and better at reaching out to people with all sorts of talents and abilities, unifying them around specific topics so that we can all learn from one another. Just because you may not agree with someone else's point of view doesn't invalidate it, and someone else may have points that open yours up to new thoughts.
Press Release:
QlipMedia ( has just launched the public beta version of ElectionQlips (, a new destination to discuss all that is Election 2008. Readers can share their comments with the community and leave comments on Presidential Election themed video posts using their recorded voice, free-hand drawing, and images to let everyone know what they think and how they feel about every point in the posted debates, ads, punditry and stump speeches.

As the nation’s attention increasingly focuses on the outcomes of the ongoing primary elections and the general election to follow this November, viewers of ElectionQlips can stayed tuned to all the exciting action, including voice and video comments of their fellow citizens. And anyone can bring their wit and wisdom to bear on the debate of the moment, commenting to their heart’s content with their own voice and images.

The blogosphere has always been about giving a voice to common ‘netizens’, while democratizing the dissemination of the news and opinion. But heretofore that voice has been confined to the two dimensional world of the written word. The broad appeal of video has added a third dimension, a layer of contextual relevancy just not possible with the written word alone. Blog commenting has been similarly constrained by the same technical barriers. ElectionQlips brings multimedia blogging full circle, giving blog commenters the ability to post live, multimedia comments right on the videos they’re viewing in their own voice, using their own doodles and images.

• 100+ million blogs in existence
• 1.5 million blog posts per day
• 1 blog with multimedia commenting capability

ElectionQlips users can take their election debate with them by sharing the link and embedding the player anywhere. On the video timeline, it’s easy to bring out all the facts with every detail of the debate through point-by-point analysis. The density of comments at every point let’s one see what’s hot and what’s not in every debate.

The goal of ElectionQlips is to make it possible for everyone to participate in any debate, discussion and controversy using their own voice. Commenting on blog posts is a common enough, ElectionQlips gives an edge over other contemporary election blogs, especially with respect to sharing your comments and opinions.

About QlipMedia:
QlipMedia makes QlipBoard, a tool that combines videos and images with drawing, highlighting and adds your voice is the easiest way to talk about anything and turn any video into an instant discussion room. ElectionQlips is produced by QlipMedia, Inc. and designed by OuterJoin. For more information, visit
You know, as a parent you spend so much time wondering if you're doing the right thing, so much time second-guessing yourself, and then you just have to keep on keeping on. Case in point: my daughter. Her early days were fraught with uncertainty for all of us. (Wow! I just used fraught! In an actual sentence!) Between feeds, reflux, development, and my own little issues, it was so easy to get lost in a cycle of never ending anxiety. I took every hour as it came, every day and every night, and it all sort of blended together in one big massive balancing act of laundry and doctor appointments. Now I'm inching my way closer to bringing a second child home with similar issues, and what the hell am I thinking?

Socks. Tiny little socks. Great big socks. I'm thinking about socks this morning, and bananas (you don't want to ask. Trust me on this one.) and I'm thinking about that call last night which is reminding me gently to get off my ass and do some more of this getting ready business.

See, they moved my Robbie again. For a micro preemie who hasn't gotten the hang of nipple-feeding reliably yet, this kid sure gets around a lot! He's now about 3 miles from me, in the local hospital, in a satellite NICU that has two beds. That's how small it is. This is the last move before his homecoming, and I'm thinking that it's definitely not too far away now because he just moved over the 4 pound mark.

Yep, that's right. Four pounds. Still less weight than a sack of flour, but that's cool because I haven't done those strength exercises I've been meaning to get to and this means I can use my baby for weightlifting. You think I'm joking? I did it with my Toddler when she was that small; it was a great bonding experience to get down and do a few leg lifts and knee lifts while bonding with the baby. Nothing too strenuous, but it was a lot of fun.

My little boy is coming home real soon now. Eep. I think I'm ready. Really ready this time. Stay tuned for the “what the hell was I thinking, bringing another preemie into my life, but he's so adorable” post. Probably around April.