Archive for the ‘ NICU/Prematurity issues ’ Category

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Caroline turned one at 6:08am today. I cannot believe it.

This year has flown by faster than any other year of my life. I have been thinking all day about how far we’ve come. From this…

To this…

My little sick baby is now a big, happy, healthy girl. February 5, 2009 was full of mixed emotions (joy, excitement, fear, uncertainty). This February 5 had a lot of mixed emotions too (pride, happiness, nostalgia, sadness that my baby is growing up)… I have to say that I prefer this year’s mix!

I miss my little teeny baby, but I love my life with my chatty toddler too. And I’m sure I’ll just keep loving it more and more.

Happy birthday, Caroline! I love you so much, baby girl.

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“Mama”

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

I have a lot of things to report, mostly because I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks. I was thinking today that I fear for my blog when I go back to school, because I’ve hardly found the time to write while I’ve been staying at home. And then I thought that I actually blogged more while I was in school, so maybe it won’t die out after all. And then I thought that I should probably just go write a post since I am wasting all this time thinking about blogging.

First: Caroline’s 9 month appointment. It wasn’t fantastic. (Someday, I will be able to come on here and brag that we had an amazing appointment and it went perfectly and I did not have to spend the entire rest of the day on the phone trying to get specialist appointments. Unfortunately, that day was not last Friday.) The pediatrician decided that since she hasn’t been at least trying to sit up, creep, crawl, or pull up to stand, she has a slight gross motor delay that we needed to get evaluated. She also is still making this loud raspy noise when she inhales due to her laryngomalacia (floppy airway– common in preemies). She really should have outgrown this and her snoring by now, but since she hasn’t, we need to get her in to see a pediatric ear/nose/throat specialist.

So, last week a teacher and a physical therapist from a Birth to Three program came to our apartment to check out Caroline’s skillz. They said that she was fine in all areas except gross motor, in which she falls into the 16th percentile (for an 8 month old, her adjusted age). She didn’t qualify for services, which was great news, but we need to really push the tummy time and call back if she isn’t crawling in a couple more months.

I also set up an appointment with an ENT at the children’s hospital for December 22. Sigh… we were just about to get released from the GI there and I was really looking forward to not going back. Oh well– I will try not to complain as long as she doesn’t need surgery, which is really the only treatment for laryngomalacia other than time. They’ll do a scope to see what the problem is and to decide whether or not surgery will be necessary. I am trying very hard not to imagine my little baby knocked out on an operating table… or even sedated for a scope. Poor thing. And poor me, a little bit, because I am going to be a freaking basket case and no one needs to deal with that insanity.

Moving on.

Even though she may not be crawling, my baby has awesome communication skills! ¬†She now signs “more”, “milk”, and “drink”, and says “done”, “all done”, “dada”, and… my favorite… “mama”!! Prepare yourself for extreme sappiness because this was seriously one of the highlights of my entire life. (Is that sad? I think it might be, a little, but nonetheless–)

This past weekend, Caroline was sitting in her highchair and eating while Tyler and I ate our lunches and talked to her. She was looking at him saying “da da da” and smiling, and I got jealous and said “Caroline, why don’t you ever say ‘mama’ to me??” She looked right at me, reached out her arms, and said “ma ma ma!” I teared up and gave her a big hug. It was so sweet. Tyler said, “No, get her to say it again, she’s going to get confused because you’re crying!”

Sigh. Just thinking about it makes me smile. I am so in love with this chubby little thing and her silly parted hair.

(Edited) I forgot to add that yesterday was National Prematurity Awareness Day. Here’s a link from the March of Dimes if you are interested in becoming more informed about prematurity and how to prevent preterm birth. Even late pretermers like Caroline can deal with health consequences months down the road. Hopefully soon, researchers will be able to determine more about the causes for premature birth, and more effective ways to prevent it.

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Single-Mom’ing it

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

That’s pretty much what I’ve been up to since we got back from North Dakota.

I love my husband, but I hate his job. I’ve complained about this before, long ago, but I think it’s time for another round. I used to dread him leaving even before we had Caroline, but now that she is here, it’s a whole different ballgame.

He’s been away for most of the time we’ve been back… usually internationally, so I can’t even call him. I’m so tired and lonely. I start to forget what it was like to do anything other than take care of Caroline, because that is literally all I do. I wonder all the time how single or military parents do it– I cannot even imagine doing this as a permanent thing!

That said, I am grateful for two things…

  1. The internet. My mom friends are always here to keep me company! And I actually relate far better to these people who I’ve (mostly) never met than I do to my old friends, who have no idea what my life is like now and who are too busy for me anyway.
  2. That I’ve been able to stay home with Caroline all this time– it allowed us to go to North Dakota with Tyler so that we wouldn’t be here alone all summer, and it’s probably saved my sanity… because if I had to go to school all day and then come home and single-mom it, I might die.

I feel badly for Tyler because I know it’s hard on him not to see Caroline that much, but it’s hard on me too. When we got married, we decided not to have kids until he would be able to spend more time at home, but… that didn’t go as planned. I knew he would be traveling a lot these next few years. It was one of the reasons I was so worked up about being pregnant– not just because I didn’t feel ready for the experience, but because I knew I would be going it alone for a lot of the time.

But, hey, life goes on. I feel really competent and confident when it comes to taking care of her now, because I’ve done it alone so much. (Tyler, on the other hand, I would worry about– he has literally never been alone with her for more than an hour or two at a time!) And now that my return to school is rapidly approaching, I try to remind myself every day to just soak up the time with her. That is usually enough to snap me out of my self-pity.

New topic: Caroline is 36 weeks old today– so she has been alive outside me for as long as she was alive inside me. So strange… it went by so quickly, but it seems like I have known her forever. I went through her closet today, which is always an experience that brings out the crazy in me: “this is probably too small, I should put it away. Oh my God… I remember when she wore this and we did X. I can’t believe she’s never going to wear this again. She’s growing up so fast. Too fast. I can’t believe she used to be this small AHHHH MY BABY IS GOING TO LEEEEAVE ME!!!” Annnd, repeat. With every single article of clothing. I told you I was crazy. I used to be afraid that I had no maternal instincts, but it turns out I do have them, and they are on crack.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I don’t really miss the newborn stages. I don’t miss her seeming so breakable and sick… and she is so much more interactive now. I think I have more and more fun with her every day, and I am so excited for all the milestones ahead (she still isn’t mobile)! And now that she is over 17 pounds and has continued to gain well, the GI says we are officially out of the woods as far as her reflux goes. We’re down to one medication and we don’t have to go back until she is one year old! It’s all good news– but I’m still allowed to be a little sad about my baby growing up, right? ;)

(Photo courtesy of the lovely eris1995, with whom we had a wonderful get-together last week! Her son Mason is adorable.)

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Back From Baltimore

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Caroline and I accompanied Tyler on a work trip to Baltimore this past week, but we’re back now! I’ll update shortly with the rest of the answers to my Q&A;, but until then, here’s a post I guest-wrote for Kari’s blog, The Baby Standard, on what to expect if your baby is admitted to the NICU.

Sorry for the slowdown in posts, but I promise that a lot of cute pictures are coming from our week away!

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Ask, and You Shall Receive

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Well, my dear readers, here are my answers to your questions! Thanks so much for your interest in how our little family is doing.

A lot of people wanted to know what the dealio is with dental school. (God, I hate when people say “dealio”. Count your blessings, though, I could have said “dizzle”.) I am most definitely going back. I plan to start auditing some classes this fall– hopefully over the internet and not in person, so that I can still care for Caroline until I start back up in clinic. I will start officially in early January, right where I left off when I took my leave of absence due to preterm contractions. So, I will graduate with the class of 2011 rather than the class of 2010. The idea of being a year “behind” honestly doesn’t bother me anymore. It did at first, when I was still pregnant, but now that I have Caroline? Doesn’t even register on the scale of Stuff That Bugs Me. Having and raising her is a far bigger accomplishment than my DMD will be. And yes, that sappy statement would have totally made me gag before I had her, but I didn’t even blink typing it just now.

While I was pregnant, one of my biggest worries was that having a baby would make me not want to be a dentist anymore, because I suspected that parenthood would change my priorities. And while the idea of sending her to daycare and missing out on her smiles does get me all choked up, I really and truly do still want to finish dental school and go to work afterwards. I will always treasure this year that I was given to spend with her, but I want to be able to provide things for her that I could never give her as a stay-at-home mom– international travel, private schooling if she needs it, any kind of lessons or activities she wants, a paid-for college education. Besides, I’ve racked up so much student loan debt and worked so hard towards this goal that it just wouldn’t be practical or desirable for me to stay at home. I can definitely see why some moms choose to stay home with their babies, because that is just as a precious of a gift in its own way. I just don’t think that it’s the right choice for me, personally, to be one of them.

Others wanted to know how my relationship with Tyler has changed. I had to think long and hard about this one. It was definitely difficult during my pregnancy. It took him a long time to get excited about it… at times, I wondered whether he ever would. But once Caroline arrived, and especially while she was in the NICU, he was my rock. He loves that little girl so much. One of the best part of becoming parents, I think, is watching each other be parents. I have never felt so in love with him as I have watching him sing to Caroline, or tickle her, or rock her when she cries.

But, I don’t know that I can really say our relationship is any weaker or stronger now that she is here. Life changes 2000% when you have a child, but we are still who we are, and we love each other in the same way. I hope that doesn’t seem like a cop-out answer, because I don’t know how else to articulate it. Our day-to-day life and priorities have changed completely, but we still lean on each other and laugh together just exactly like we always did. All the external things are different, but internally, our relationship is still fundamentally the same, know what I mean? We always wanted to have children someday, so I guess the fact that Caroline came much sooner than we planned didn’t cause any long-term problems between us. We both accepted my pregnancy in our own time, and now she’s here, and it’s hard to remember what it was like when it was just the two of us, because we are so happy as three. Aside from her prematurity and reflux, she has been an incredibly easy baby, so I’m sure that has played a big part in our relatively smooth adjustment to parenthood.

Do we still have moments where we long for our old life, or feel that we weren’t quite ready for all this responsibility? Do we occasionally wish that we’d had more time as just the two of us before we’d added to our family? Sure we do. Maybe I’m not supposed to admit that out loud. But in any case, those moments are few and far between, because now that we have Caroline, imagining a life where she had never existed is unthinkable. And it might help that we both feel that way and don’t feel uncomfortable telling each other so. There are no misunderstandings or hard feelings there– we were thrown into this together, and we are both doing the best we can.

I’m not saying we haven’t had some hard times. Having a baby can be difficult on the best of marriages, and I sometimes resented the fact that my life was completely turned upside down as far as my career goes, while Tyler’s went on relatively undisturbed. It was tough to adjust to suddenly going from the whirlwind of clinic to the quiet of our apartment, and then the isolation of new motherhood. And sometimes I’ve probably taken it out on him, and he has been impatient with my resistance to the change, but he’s taken it in stride and done his best to help me out, and in the end, I see in him the wonderful father that I knew he would be.

If there is anything that has made our relationship stronger, I would say it hasn’t been parenting itself, but rather the NICU experience. We were handed a huge challenge right off the bat, and we really had to support each other just so that we could get through it. Tyler was strong and comforted me while I struggled for days, and then the night she was transferred, he reached his breaking point and it was my turn to step up for him. We made it through together, because of each other. Any parent who has had a child hospitalized will tell you that there is a lot of potential for misunderstandings and hurt feelings and disagreements, but we managed to get by without a single problem between us. Those two weeks probably strengthened us more than eight months of pregnancy and the past seven months of parenting ever could.

As for our future plans, I will be done with dental school in June of 2011, and Tyler will be done with his PhD in June of 2012. I will probably do a one-year residency in general dentistry somewhere near New Haven, where he is in school, and then we will go wherever his career takes us after he graduates. It’s looking like Denver is the most promising prospect for him to get a post-doc and then a job, but since it’s a few years away we are not entirely sure yet. He is pretty famous in his field (you may have seen him before on his National Geographic special!), so he shouldn’t have trouble finding work– several institutions have already contacted him about possibilities for the future. And of course, I can be a dentist anywhere, so I have always planned to follow him wherever he chooses to go.

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