Friday, September 22, 2006

Beth and Elliott

Elliott will be 5 in a few days. I think he has already received the best birthday present ever!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More of Dad Meets Beth

What a wonderful moment for Dad to meet Beth on September 9. This photo was taken by the care facility where Dad lives. He really did respond to her and even held her on his lap.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

NICU Reunion

This has been a weekend of validation for us. On Saturday, we went to the annual Mercy San Juan NICU Reunion. I was so looking forward to this day. I remember seeing happy pictures of previous reunions on the wall of the NICU everyday I went in to visit Beth. Those months ago of scrubbing in and staring at those photos...It seemed that our day would never come to be on the wall with smiling faces and beautiful, healthy baby girl. But our day did come and it was just as wonderful as I expected.

Nearly every doctor from the NICU team was there except for the few who were working that day. Even one on-call doctor scurried over for a quick visit. Many nurses and respiratory theraptists also were there, each one saying how gratifying it was for them to see the babies and children who were the objects of their love and care.

I wonder if they know how wonderful it is for us parents to see them? I expect they do but there is almost no way to adequately express our gratitude for their efforts. My hope is to someday "pay it forward" for there is nothing directly that I can do for each of the nurses and doctors who cared for Beth -- except take care of her and love her dearly.

And in yet another treat on Sunday, during a family outing, Mike struck up a conversation with a young lady who admired Beth. Lo and behold, she had been a super-preemie herself nearly 16 years ago. She had weighed 1 pound and 14 ounces and was born at 25 weeks -- at Mercy San Juan! She was a beautiful, bright young lady and clearly had a joy for life. Her parents must be so proud of her.

Our sweet little Beth will someday be a young lady and I know we'll be proud of her, too.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Beth Hates Supplements

This cracks me up so I had to share.

Poor little Beth gets 3 supplements, 1 dose of antibiotics and 2 bottles mixed with powered formula for extra calories. She really doesn't like all this extra stuff and as you recall, she used to have a lot of trouble with gagging and choking. She is growing out of that (thankfully) but now she is getting smart. These pictures show how Beth is trying to avoid getting her Poly-vi-sol which is a nasty brown multi-vitamin supplement that stains everything it touches.

Seems she has learned that if she purses her lips tightly, she can keep the dosing syringe out of her mouth...well not really but she sure tries hard. The funny part is that this little bit of rebellion cracks me up and I start laughing at her. This makes her smile and laugh but she doesn't want to open her mouth so she squeezes her lips even tighter. What a kick to watch her brain at work while she tries not to smile and get the offending syringe with the yucky vitamins. Eventually I win and then we get the next faces.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Grandpa Meets Beth

My father has Alzheimers Disease and it has sadly taken most of his memory away (but not his hearty laugh!) Because he lives in a care facility, we have been reluctant to take Beth to see him because of our concerns about her health. This week as she topped 12 pounds and with Grandparents Day on the calendar, it seemed like the perfect time for them to meet.

Grandma was especially excited about the meeting because she has grown so close to the nursing staff who take care of my father. The staff had followed every step of my time in the hospital and Beth's 90-days in the NICU. They provided much needed support to Mom during the months of uncertainty and shared our joy when she came safely home. Needless to say, they have asked nearly every day when they would get to meet Beth.

On Saturday during the "Grandparent's Day" festivities, the manager arranged for us to enter a side gate so we wouldn't have to go into the building and expose her to too many people. An aide brought Dad outside and Mom introduced him to Beth. While Dad isn't always intelligible, he did clearly say "she's beautiful!" I held my tears in but the effect on Mom and I was pretty immense. This is one meeting we'll remember forever. I hope that some part of my father remembers meeting her, too.

As Beth continues to grow, we are introducing her to more family and friends. The effect of meeting her seems almost life-affirming for everyone whose prayers and positive thoughts have helped Beth to thrive. And for Mike and I, each meeting brings us another step closer to normalcy and to healing from our loss and the painful journey we've experienced.

Ah, but she smiles and snuggles into our chest and all the pain melts away.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

12 Pounds at 7 Months

Beth is now 12 pounds -- actually 12 pounds and 1 ounce with her clothes on! For comparison, I looked at our journal for Elliott's days as a baby. At 2 months, he weighed 12 pounds and at 6 months, he weighed over 16 pounds. And, Elliott never made it above the 50th percentile on the growth charts. So, Beth is supposed to be 3 and half months old and she currently weighs less than Elliott did at nearly half her age.

Yes, she is petite but her growth continues at a very steady pace so we aren't concerned. In fact, she seems to be developing motor skills at a rapid pace now. Within the past week, she started holding her head up at a 45% angle while on her tummy, she started holding her bottle, she laughed and is clearly trying to stand. We aren't supposed to let her stand too much because it encourages her to tighten her back up However she now that she has started, she gets very frustrated if you don't let her try.

She is also close to pulling herself to a sitting position. She tries to pull herself forward when in the bouncy seat. The full roll-over isn't far away either so our days of leaving her on the couch are nearly over.

So many milestones are just flying by and we are just thrilled with her progress. Now our joke is that she will be the tiniest walking baby you've ever seen.

We have also taken advantage of this time to socialize her with limited outings. We will continue with this until RSV season starts (and she begins getting vaccinations). So if you are dying to visit and meet her, September and October are good months to drop by.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Audio File of Beth

this is an audio post - click to play

I have been following Beth around with my phone for a few days now because I want to try this Audio Blogging feature. I can record anything by calling a special phone number and it shows up in the blog (assuming I follow the prompts correctly). You see, Beth has become a comedian of late. She discovered her voice last week and has made sure that we are all aware of her vocal talents. I swear she is singing scales (about as well as I can!).

Her vocal gymnastics have been mistaken for a parrot.

In any event, this link should open on your computer very quickly and let you hear her chattering away. As you would expect, she stopped as soon as I put the phone in her face but with a little more prompting she let loose again.

Such joy in our house.

By the way, she is taking a good 5-6 hour sleeping stretch at night. I am quite happy with the extra sleep but she still stays close by us with the motion monitor on to make sure she keeps breathing -- which thankfully she has continued to do since we brought her home.