Sunday, December 28, 2008
The train trip was a bit of revelation for us. It was my hare-brained idea to take the train down to McDonald's for lunch. My thought was that we could let the kids play in the indoor playland, get lunch and then take the 3 mile train ride back to the historic district. It is a short walk from the light rail station to our home. What could go wrong?
We managed to get down there without too much trouble. It was the trip home that was difficult. To be more specific, it was the process of getting from McDonald's, out the door and to the light rail station that was the most troublesome. In the span of ten minutes, Beth threw a stupendous fit on the McDonald's floor earning giggles from every other mother who had been there but at the same time, mortifying Mike. I was about to lose my cool as well. Elliott thought the whole thing was hysterical.
We don't really know why Beth suddenly decided to counter anything she is offered or asked to do. She just hit the point where nothing in God's green earth met her approval be they chocolate chip cookies, Mommy, Daddy, play, no play, eat, no eat...you get the picture.
We carried her out into the cold without shoes, gloves or a jacket because we couldn't get anything on her. In the process of walking out the door and down the street to get to the train, Mike announced that there was no way in H^&* that he was going to get on a plane with Beth to go visit his mother.
I admit that his prediction that we might not actually make it down to Arizona without grounding the airplane is probably correct. The latest decision is to send Mike and Elliott down there without Beth and me. ...I wonder who is getting the better end of this deal?
Oh, the other first? This is the first time that I admitted Mike was absolutely, 100 percent correct.
Monday, December 08, 2008
We met Santa a few weeks ago. Poor Beth had other things on her mind besides sitting on the lap of a strange man with a beard! You might enjoy taking a peek by clicking on the link above. Copyright prevents me from taking an illegal screen shot or scanning the photo so that I can post it here. Besides, I'd like to credit Katchinyakandid Photography for capturing such a hysterical moment!
Here is a happier moment captured last weekend as we stood in front of our Christmas tree. I had intended on capturing a nice family moment at the tree farm but Beth had other things in mind (or OUT of her mind).
Here is the story...she had a major meltdown at the Christmas Tree farm. Beth wanted to carry back the saw we had used to cut down said tree and despite her ministrations, I refused. She resorted to kicking and rolling about in the bright red dirt while I held the coveted saw and limb loppers from her grasping hands. Daddy and Elliott were lugging the 8-foot tree (more like a 10-footer if you asked Mike) up and down two small valleys to the car. I couldn't pick up Beth with the pruning implements in my hand and yet I had no help in sight.
Three families wandered by with knowing smiles on their faces. When I finally did manage to get her back to the car, she tried running "back to the forest" when only 10 minutes before she was yelling "back to the car."
While Daddy tried to tie on the tree, I tried to tie Beth into the car seat...another thing she did not want to do that afternoon. We struggled long enough for the family next to us in the parking lot (one of the same who saw Beth's tantrum on the forest floor) to skip back to the car, drop their tree into the truck bed, load up the kid and drive off. Ten minutes later while we were still trying to get Beth in the car seat and the flippin' tree onto the roof, this same family drove back into the parking lot. I don't know why... I don't know how long they were away...
Some time later (actually it was at some point in the middle of the forest), I ditched the idea of taking a pleasant family photo of us at the glorious tree farm at Apple Hill. Our Christmas card proudly shows the four of us smiling in front of the tree in our living room.
...Only those who read our blog will know the true story.
Friday, December 05, 2008
The Friends of NICU provides items directly to the families who have babies at Mercy San Juan and Mercy Sacramento. We were fortunate that I did not have to work while Beth was in the hospital for her 90-day stay. Not every family is so fortunate. With the economy taking such a hard hit, families may have an even harder time coping with the financial and emotional stress.
You can go to either restaurant between 4:00 and 9:00 on Thursday, December 11 knowing that your dinner out will help other families. This day has special significance to us because this is the day I entered the hospital. Beth was born--by the grace of God--almost 8 weeks later and came home on May 1.
Strings in Folsom (by Kohl's)
1013 Riley Street., #100
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 983-9556
Strings at Country Club Plaza
2380 Watt Ave. Ste 150
Sacramento, CA 95825
Phone: (916) 487-7877
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
We have taken her off of the Periactin because about three weeks into the med cycle, she stayed awake for two nights straight. We figured the only thing that might have caused her to do this would be developing some new response to the medication. Since taking her off, her appetite has decreased dramatically but we are using new tricks to get her to eat. The best one seems to be playing a television program of interest while surreptitiously stuffing food in her mouth. Puzzles and the LeapFrog LeapPad seem to work as good diversions, too.
On another topic...
One of my clients has put my work on hold through the rest of 2008 leaving me a big chunk of time. I have alluded to a little project I've been working on before but here is the real admission: I am writing a book. I am writing about the journey to get pregnant and the unbelievable journey to keep Beth alive during the midst of losing her sister. I spent almost 8 weeks in the hospital between the 18th and 26th week of my pregnancy. My time ended when Beth was born at 26 weeks and 0 days. Her journey is written in great detail in the early posts of this blog but the hospital time BEFORE she was born...well, that was a source of pain, fear and wrenching loss.
I had started writing while she was in the hospital as a way to work through my grief and fear for her survival. In that process, I discovered some things that I think others should be able to read like the ability of one's mind to overcome extreme adversity. What I am reluctant to share is the personal nature of our struggle. Since I have more time on my hands with one less client, I am turning the 60,000-word jumble of chapters and essays into a book that may or may not have commercial appeal. I just don't know. Writing about here just makes it a little more "real" and helps keep me committed.
I may publish excerpts here since the topic of our lives is so normal now--one might find recent posts about our lives to be boring. It may be more interesting to have something new to read (for those who follow our story.) I'll be interested in hearing feedback which will hopefully encourage me to keep going.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Beth continues to do well and is eating more now that she has been on Perictin (Antihistamine Stimulates Appetite ). I have been experimenting to see if she avoids eating when not on the meds. Sure enough, if it has been over 4 hours since her last dose, she will fight me when I ask her to eat lunch/dinner. We feel a huge relief when she sits in her high chair without argument and actually consumes something more than dried blueberries and cocoa bumpers.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
These pictures show just a few of the dozens who helped Beth. The two Mercy hospitals in Sacramento see about 500 babies each year; the staff are exceptionally busy. I don't know how they remember us but that is testament to how committed they are to their vocation.
Bree (pink shirt) is another one of the special nurses. She was also assigned to Beth on many of those early days. She is the one who made me hold Beth at 11 days of age when she was still intubated. I was scared to death and not all of the nurses are comfortable making this happen with such a tiny, fragile baby. Bree knew how important it was to get over this hump and she had the glowing confidence to make me know it would be alright. She is generally considered the IV/PIC line specialist. I have seen her place PIC lines and IV's in other babies after other nurses had tried and tried. Bree is the only nurse who could get an IV started in Beth when we were re-admitted that first May. Joan calls Bree a genius but I think they think that of each other...
This is Kathy, the developmental specialist. Kathy saved Beth from developing an oral aversion. She was our champion when trying to get her discharged on breast feeding. She spent hours softly caressing her and teaching us how to hold her arms and legs in the "midline" and mimic the comfort of the womb. Not all babies like to be stroked and Kathy taught us how to see signs of stress, reading Beth's cues for what she needed at any particular time. I am sure that her keen insight and unexplainable "feelings" prevented many of the sensory processing disorders we seemed destined to have.
This is Lori. She was Beth's nurse on the last two days when we were doing our "feeding trial." It was an odd time for them because they don't usually discharge babies who breastfeed. Beth wasn't taking the bottle but she would nurse. It took a lot of commitment to make this happen but Lori really took charge so we could bring our girl home!
These last two guys are respiratory therapists. Randy (with the beard) was the nurse who intubated Beth in the delivery room while chaos reigned. I was bleeding profusely and their was much confusion about how to get me under, get blood, and who knows what else. He stayed cool, did his job and paid attention to Beth. She needed all sorts of things immediately and he did a fabulous job (not that I saw any of it. I just heard about it much later).
Friday, September 19, 2008
I had to take Elliott to the doctor because he had a bad case of poison oak which was steadily descending down the trunk of his body to more...sensitive parts. I thought it best to nip the thing in the bud before poor Elliott experienced insane itching in his privates. While talking to the doctor, I mentioned that Beth was now 33 inches tall and just 22 pounds. He decided that it was probably time to start the drug.
"Now be careful with her," he told me. "She might be a little sleepy."
...Okay Moms. Do any of you think being "a little sleepy" in a toddler is a bad thing? Do any of you know my toddlers? Heck, sign me up!!
It has been a week and I am only giving her two of the three doses she could have each day. There has been a noticeable improvement in her eating and her willingness to try some other foods. I am hoping that this will help her understand what a hungry tummy means and that sitting in the high chair means that it is time for food, a pleasurable experience rather than the pleading and begging time it has been in the past.
What about her sleepiness? Sadly, I cannot detect any change in her behavior or sleeping pattern (actually I am glad to see no change). Beth has always been a good sleeper and there is no difference in the duration, frequency or degree of her sleep. She was a light sleeper and easily awakened before the Periactin and she is still a light sleeper and easily awakened.
Overall we consider this a good thing. Elliott's poison oak is gone and Beth is actually sitting down and eating food while asking for more. She still gets in a mood where she doesn't want anything but I estimate she is eating 50 percent more than she did before the drug. Yippee!!
Friday, August 29, 2008
We make sure no one says the word C-O-O-K-I-E around her prior to or during a meal because she will instantly stop eating and fixate on a cookie. She then steadfastly refuses to eat anything else until said cookie is produced. I, however, have decided we will try training her to eat by sticking to our guns and only producing said cookie after she has finished at least some of her meager meal. (...don't ask me how this silly lesson is going...)
Anyway, a few days ago Elliott started coaxing Beth into eating by telling her that everything on her plate was C-A-N-D-Y! I'll be an ostrich-with-my-head-in-the-sand, but Beth started eating whatever he put in front of her.
...sometimes you just gotta stop thinking so hard.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Mike and I took about 7 rides together during out two week vacation (thanks Mom and Athena for babysitting). One of those rides was up a 7 mile climb along Barker Pass. Towards the top we came around the corner to find beautiful wildflowers. Later on, we brought mom and the kids up to 8,000 feet where the flowers were stunning.
Just a handsome shot of Elliott. He does look like a grown up boy here. I must say I am happy to have Beth around (for obvious reasons) because I don't feel like the 40+ mother that I am when holding a toddler in my arms.
This other photo shows Elliott and Beth sleeping together in our room at Tahoe. Because Beth won't sleep in the port-crib anymore, we had to be creative with sleeping arrangements. It took a few days but eventually got Beth to settle into bed with Elliott (on most nights). She managed to crawl up into our bed numerous times over the two weeks we were away but overall, they enjoyed sharing a bed.
The young lady on the left is my niece, Nicole. She and her friend, Maddie, came up for the first weekend. Beth enjoyed their attention and teenage giggles. By the way, Elliott was not lost on their good looks either. He is a flirt and the more girls around him (especially pretty girls), the better. We foresee trouble ahead!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
- Up at 6:00 and won't eat. At 7:30 she consumes 2 bites of raisin toast, 8 pieces of Golden Grahams and 4 ounces of milk.
- After dropping off Elliott, I take her to McDonald's to see if she will eat pancakes with copious amounts of syrup. No dice. She won't even eat the bacon or sip the O.J.
- at 9:00, I take her to My Gym. In the course of an hour she finishes the other 6 ounces of milk. At CostCo, she eats a few dried blueberries.
- At lunch, I offer her part of my sandwich. She takes it apart and eats 1/4 of the "bun" which is the wheat bread holding the salami. She pines for a cookie and I tell her she has to eat her sandwich.
- She awakes from her nap asking for a cookie. I won't give her one without eating. I pick up Elliott and she asks for juice. I give her juice and offer the sandwich. She eats two chips and half a pickle but no sandwich.
This is typical for her. She either stuffs her face or refuses any sustenance. I am really getting concerned and frustrated! I could operate a grocery store with the food we have tried for her. Two nights ago I made a chocolate milkshake with banana in it. She drank about 3 ounces. ...just a little whining on my part and a fair bit of concern. Any feeding advice would be happily received.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
I keep getting reassurance from all sources. The kind lady at the maternity store where I weighed her remarked about how tall she seemed and that her skin, hair and eyes are healthy. Two moms at My Gym told me stories of their tiny kids (one 4 year old only weighs 33 pounds). All my friends remind me that at 5 feet tall, I’m not exactly a giant myself.
I think the issue – well two issues, really – is that she is a lousy eater except when she decides to go on a BEEF BINGE. The other is that we mothers of preemies never get over the panic of seeing such tiny babies fighting for their lives. I have read of Holocaust survivors who have eating disorders all their lives. I’m not saying that our ordeal was as horrific as the Holocaust but I can attest to the long-term scars wrought by extremely stressful situations. And when they go on for a long time like a 90-day NICU stay preceded by the horrors we experienced, it is sometimes difficult to find where normal lies.
Each day this week, I have threatened to call our doctor to get his opinion on Beth’s growth. I keep saying to myself that if she eats well today, I won’t call him. Guess what? Beth is eating very well this week so Dr. Arab has been spared my paranoia.
Let’s see what she weighs in two weeks, eh?
Next up... vacation photos from Tahoe. What fun we had!
Friday, July 18, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Beth loves to sleep. Elliott hates to sleep.
Beth sucks her thumb and uses a blankie. Elliott has never used such comfort devices DESPITE my pitiful pleas for mercy!
Elliott climbs into the high chair. Beth climbs into the crib.
Beth BEGS for books. Elliott BEGS for TV.
Elliott eats tofu. Beth eats BEEF!
Elliott eats vegetables. Beth won't touch them with a 10-foot pole.
Elliott can’t stand to get water on his face. Beth giggles and laughs and gurgles the water as it runs over her forehead.
Beth smiles as she is laid down to sleep. Elliott required 20 minutes of rocking or dancing to get him to sleep and he still finds a way to delay sleep as long as possible.
Elliott used to go on hour-long walks with the stroller. Beth has a hissy-fit and can’t even make it the 15 minutes it takes to walk Elliott to school.
Elliott was born with hair and grew loads of beautiful blonde curls by 12 months. Beth was born with hair (but that doesn’t count), lost her hair and still has roughly 200 pieces on her head!
Elliott could sleep through a rock concert. Beth wakes up when the door squeaks open.
How are they similar? They are loved more than we ever thought it possible.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Having a open afternoon and the inability to go outside with Beth and Elliott due to the smoke in the air, I decided to take a trip to the grocery store to stock up the pantry and fridge before my trip to Texas. Elliott is always happy to go to "play care" at the store where he can play with other children and watch a movie without me pestering him to turn off the T.V.
Beth is not at all interested in going to play care. She cries mournfully and wraps herself so tightly around my neck and arm that it is nearly impossible to pry her away. I have lately ushered her through the aisles as fast as I can while feeding her various treats to keep her seated in the shopping cart (never thought I'd do that - she must be out of danger, eh!). It is very difficult to make it through our neighborhood Raley's quickly because we have become friends with many of the employees. Furthermore, the pharmacy staff are all fans of Beth's and want to admire her when we visit the store (they know of her scary start and complicated first year with the hundred or so prescriptions we have filled there).
Every time I go to Raleys, I race up and down the aisles hoping I can get the shopping done before it becomes impossible to keep Beth in the cart. Today was especially difficult so I detoured to the bakery counter a little earlier than usual to get her a cookie. We waited patiently for the baker to bring us a cookie while Beth admired sprinkled donuts and various treats. Since the baker was occupied, the deli person came over to give her a cookie and take my order for roast beef. While she handed Beth her sprinkle cookie, I asked for a half-pound of roast beef.
Now, who in their right mind would expect my diminutive little girl to prefer meat to a cookie, right? I mean, it is a little hard to picture her devouring a chicken leg with strings of meat hanging from her delicate mouth like a she-lion ripping flesh from a wildebeast. Well, Beth proved me wrong; as soon as she heard me say "roast beef," her ears perked up and she looked me straight in the eye, dropped her cookie and said "MEAT!"
I thought the deli-girl was going to drop that 10 pound hunk of prime rib right on the floor! She did manage to gather herself and then promptly presented Beth with a giant piece of the reddest, prime roast beef I have ever seen. Beth's response was a most endearing smile and a rapid stuffing of said protein and cholesterol into her gaping mouth.
I made it home with scarcely more than a quarter pound of roast beef but the rest of the shopping trip went a whole lot smoother. Yes, my girl is a carnivore. She never did touch the cookie. Elliott ate it on the way home. Beth was curiously thirsty, however...
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Try as I might to plan this better, I cannot seem to keep Beth awake during a bike ride while she is in the trailer. Today I left at 9:30 a.m. thinking that since she had just woken up two hours earlier, she would stay awake. No such luck. Within 30 minutes her talking stopped. Then she stopped reading books (look at her feet for discarded works). Soon, her head started to nod and then, BAM! She was out like a light.
I've never seen her sleep with her mouth open, catching flies like Gramma used to do on long car rides. She didn't even hold on to her ever-present blankie. The result of my snickering at her rapturous repose is that she didn't nap this afternoon -- just punishment for me!
I suppose this is payback for my transgression on Monday. I found a dead bumblebee on the ground and thought Beth would enjoy touching it since she would never get the chance with a live bee. I considered the option that the bee was not TOTALLY dead but apparently...I didn't consider that possibility strongly enough to muster the necessary caution. Instead, Beth snatched him from my hand and was promptly stung by the stunned, possum-playing bee.
Lord have mercy! She didn't even get a stinger in her finger but she let me know about it for about an hour afterwards! I realize it really did hurt and I felt very low after my failure to protect her but she made a fuss for a loooong time.
After we were sure she wouldn't swell up or go into shock, Mike and I had a few good jokes about it. I reminded him of the time he left Elliott alone in the stroller at the top of our very steep driveway and he plummeted down 40 feet of a 15% slope into the fence across the way. Or, the time he didn't connect the tag-along to my bicycle properly and Elliott dropped to the pavement going 10 miles an hour!
We have had some failures and minor transgressions in our parenting but thankfully both children are in good shape. Now if I could just get Beth to go to bed tonight...
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Now she is uttering Japanese, Spanish and French from her Baby Einstein DVDs. I know she hasn't actually learned those words but she is mimicking the voices on the DVD. I am sure she will follow Mommy's footsteps into some career like public relations. ;-)
Friday, April 18, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
"Beth Day" is coming up on May 1. We get to celebrate two years of her being home. Despite the completely typical life we lead with her now, Mike and I still shake our heads in disbelief.
No amazing news except that she now knows almost every letter of the alphabet and can discern small letters, too. She weathered through another cold without complication and even though she is now weaned so no extra immunity support from me!