Monday, November 22, 2010

Mommy Brain

I have always had a bad habit of reading 5 (or so) books at once. Reading concurrently does not in itself necessarily prevent me from finishing a book. Still, throughout my life, it has not been unusual for me to start a book, get bored or distracted and set it aside for...ever. However, since Becca came along, I've noticed a worsening trend. Here's the pile on my nightstand:

That's 14 books. 14 good ones, in fact. 14 books that I am going to read. 14 books that provide a pretty good cross-section of my literary interests. They are, from bottom up:
  1. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (the most entertaining book ever written about punctuation);
  2. Capital Crimes by Johnathan and Faye Kellerman (love me some trashy mystery novels!);
  3. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A. J. Jacobs (in which Jacobs attempts to follow ALL of the laws in the Old Testament over the course of a year);
  4. The Obama Victory: How Media, Money and Message Shaped the 2008 Election by Kate Kenski, Bruce W. Hardy and Kathleen Hall Jamieson (so proud to call preemie mom and author Kate Kenski a friend...and a friend who writes well on relevant topics, to boot!);
  5. The Out of Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Stock Kranowitz;
  6. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (one of my all-time favorite authors!);
  7. God Does Not...Entertain, Play Match-maker, Hurry, Demand Blood, Cure Every Illness, edited by D. Brent Laytham (a series of essays refuting the, to steal a phrase from my husband, "vending machine" theology of God and prayer (you put your prayers in and get your candy out));
  8. Men Are from Mars; Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by John Gray (seriously, I've been in ministry for 6 years and married for 5, and I haven't read this book?);
  9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by, of course, J. K. Rowling (I use Harry Potter books the way many people use mashed potatoes...familiar comfort.);
  10. Agatha Christie: Five Complete Novels (not-so-trashy mystery novels);
  11. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creative Writing by Laurie E. Rozakis (trying to refine my craft a bit);
  12. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (and I can tell you exactly why I still haven't finished this book: it describes my life and issues so accurately that it's downright painful to read...but it is SO helpful as well);
  13. The Moms' Book for the Mom Who's Best at Everything by Alison Maloney ('cause it's totally about me, duh); and
  14. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (fabulous and thought-provoking fiction).
Since this picture was taken, I've finished The Hunger Games and added The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century (edited by Tony Hillerman), Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life (by Kathleen Norris, another favorite) and Poppy's Secret Wish by Ann Bryant (one of my Usborne books that I'm previewing for kids whose reading level is advanced beyond their maturity (cough, cough...Riley Speas...cough, cough).

That's a tall pile. 16 books tall, actually. And it's no coincidence that the book I did finish is considered young adult fiction (about the same reading level as Harry Potter) and that one of the books I added is a volume of short stories. I really, really do want to read all the books in the pile. I really, really will (eventually) read all the books in this pile. But not any time soon, it seems.

I am actually still reading the few minutes I get to sit down each the bathroom...when Becca isn't visiting me...and then it's almost always magazines, usuallyNewsweek or (sometimes) Parenting.

Am I alone here? Parents of young kids, are you reading? How do you make the time? And what are you reading? What's the verdict, then? Is this just a magazine phase of life?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Oh yeah....

My eggo is NOT preggo. I don't really want to talk about it, but I thought I shouldn't leave you hanging.

I'm not taking the fertility drugs this month. (With all the holiday travel and family time, there's more than enough crazy to go around without them.) On Monday I'm having a sonahistagram (sp.?) done to check for any abnormal scarring or adhesions on my uterus from my c-section. I'm still having pain, nearly 2.5 years post-surgery, so the doc thought we ought to check it out, especially since I didn't exactly take it easy in my recovery period. (There was a little bit going on then, remember? A baby that could crash at any time and a new house and a new job and a new church and limited maternity leave and...yeah.)

And that's that for now.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekly Weigh-In

Last week: 8.9 kg (19 pounds, 10 ounces), 31 inches
This week: 8.95 (19 pounds, 12 ounces), 31 inches (though we had an endocrine appt. yesterday, and she had hit 9.0 kgs exactly, but I don't want to throw the weekly pacing off)
Week's change: +50 grams/2 ounces, +/- 0 inches
Net change (since July): +1250 grams/38 ounces, +2 inches

Slower than the past 2 weeks, but still gaining!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Naked Chef

My apologies to Jamie Oliver, but this is too cute not to share...

And on a proper developmental note, we are seeing Becca play pretend with things more and more. I'm sure I had to eat whatever it was she was preparing in the kitchen. It is not at all unusual to have to do everything that we do to/with Becca to/with Puppy or Elmo. And it's beyond adorable when she makes them dance or ride her bike. (Yes, a bike...more on that after Thanksgiving when she officially receives it!)

Here's a picture of snacktime with Puppy. He HAD to sit in the highchair, and he HAD to have Cheerios.

She sat in the big girl chair (on top of a large cookbook - thanks, Aunt Susie! :) ) and also ate Cheerios.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Premature Birth Report Cards

As I'm sure you read yesterday (or this morning, more likely), today is Prematurity Awareness Day, so designated by the March of Dimes. In honor of the day, they released the newest Premature Birth Report Cards. Based on the percentage of pre-term births, of late pre-term births, of uninsured women of childbearing age and of smoking women of childbearing age, each state is given a grade. The national grade is a big, fat "D". Tennessee's grade is an even bigger and fatter "F". In fact, all of the states in the southeast U.S., with the exceptions of North Carolina and Virginia, received F's. (North Carolina and Virginia both scored D's.) That's no good.

Here'e the link to the interactive map. If you click on a state, you will see their full report, including how certain factors contributed to their score. For example, even though in Tennessee the rate of late pre-term births declined, the percentages of uninsured and smoking women went up significantly, so we kept our F. Scroll down further on a state page to read more about the methodology and grading scale.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prematurity Awareness Day

Tomorrow (November 17) is Prematurity Awareness Day. By reading this blog, you've probably gotten a pretty good idea what a bummer prematurity is. It sucks. And it's an even bigger bummer for some families who aren't as fortunate as we to have caught a lot of lucky breaks (insert your theological understanding here).

You know, one of the weirdest things about prematurity is that most folks aren't aware of it. I remember walking into David Kidd bookstore (God rest its dying soul) and asking not one, but two employees where I would find a book on premature babies. (There were ZERO in the pregnancy/childbirth/taking care of babies section.) Neither one had, so they said, even heard of the word "preemie."

Should I be so lucky...

Premature birth, like miscarriages and infertility, I think, is one of those things that most people want to pretend doesn't exist. Heck, I want to pretend that it doesn't exist! I think that's because it is so utterly terrifying. In a way, we as humans are most vulnerable (at least in our adult phase of life) when we are creating, bearing, and birthing our young. Moms are physically vulnerable, for sure, but even dads are particularly emotionally vulnerable in the process of having children. There's just so much at stake! Even before a child is conceived, when a couple is "trying" (really, can't we find a better word?), a little piece of your heart is out there. You already love that child, even when it's more a figurative than physical being. And there's nothing you can do to protect it. Sure, when you are pregnant, there are plenty of things you can do (or not do) so as to not HARM your child, but, really, there is nothing you can do to protect him or her completely. Similarly, when you are experiencing infertility, there is nothing you can do to absolutely make it happen. If you have lots of resources or unusually generous insurance benefits, you can certainly vastly improve your chances of conceiving, but you just can't MAKE yourself (or your wife/partner) pregnant. Even as you are celebrating and hoping and praying and (hopefully) making wise choices, things are going on with your (figurative or physical) baby that you can't control. Lots of things. Are out of your control. The well-being of the "thing" you love the most. Is out of your control.

Welcome to parenthood, kids. The terror never fully leaves you. But most parents, I think, live in a little bit (or a lot) of denial, thinking that they can protect their child, thinking that nothing truly horrible could possibly happen to this child, their child.

One of the hidden blessings of prematurity, then, is that you have to leave that denial behind you very early on. I think most parents learn that lesson eventually, but from the moment that, at 15 weeks gestation, we knew there was a problem with our pregnancy, with our child, we lost that naivete. (Granted, being a chaplain and having an anxiety disorder, I probably already spent more time dwelling on the dark what-ifs than most young moms.) I had done everything "right," and something still went wrong, very wrong. And even though my little girl is doing well now, her prematurity has left deep tracks on my soul.

So I'm aware of prematurity. And once you become aware -- really, deeply, soul-rendingly aware -- you don't ever become un-aware. It's like the Skin Horse's lesson in The Velveteen Rabbit. Once you are loved into real-ness, you are always real. And once you become aware of prematurity, you realize that it's not some rare, isolated occurrence. It is, unfortunately, everywhere. Sure, there are certain demographics in which prematurity is more common (if you are too poor to get pre-natal care, for example, you are more likely to have a premature baby), but it really does cut across all socio-economic and cultural lines. And it's prevalent. Waaaay too prevalent. As in, 1 in 8 babies in the U.S. is born premature (before 37 completed weeks of gestation). That's 543,000 babies a year. That's almost 1,500 preemies born each day in our country. That's a lot of itty bitties like Becca. Okay, not quite like Becca. But like Becca.

So tomorrow (or today, more likely), on Prematurity Awareness Day, join us preemie moms, dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends in being aware. Be aware of our kids and their painful introduction to the world. Be aware of the struggles that many of us face and will continue to face due to our babies' premature birth. Be aware of the pregnant women around you, and be kind to them! (It's amazing how many people will watch a hugely pregnant woman stand for lack of seating or struggle to lift something they probably shouldn't be hauling around without even offering to help. C'mon! These women are growing a person, for goodness' sake!) Be aware of the nurses, doctors, and therapists who are working day and night (literally!) to keep these babies alive and improve their long-term quality of life. Be aware of the researches who have committed their professional life to making sure that every baby gets his or her full 40 weeks in the womb. And if in being aware, you are so moved to help, please donate here.*

Becca -- and her mommy and daddy and Bear and paci (fa-ci) and Elmo and Bunny Blankey and Froggie Girl and Baby and Lamby ("Nam-a-nam") and other Lamby and Blankey ("Bane-ty") and Kitty Blankey and Kitty Paci -- will be ever so grateful.

*As an added bonus, your contribution may count for even more! I can't find the information on the web right now, but I swear I got something saying that from now until the end of the year, the March of Dimes Board of Trustees has vowed to match every penny given! If that's true, and I'm not just dreaming, your gift is doubly helpful!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Weekly Weigh-In

Last week: 8.75 kg (19 pounds, 4 ounces), 30.5 inches
This week: 8.9 kg (19 pounds, 10 ounces), 31 inches
Week's change: +150 grams/6 ounces, +0.5 inch
Net change (since July): +1200 grams/36 ounces, +2 inches

That's right; another 6-ounce gain (and back on our regular scale), meaning that she's gained very nearly her birthweight in 2 weeks! Still no puke at night and just a little puke at meals - I'm not changing a THING!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Poop Doctor Follow-Up

We saw GI last week for another follow-up. Though he's one of my favorites, he's still the poop doctor. We didn't have to take in a sample this time, but Becca oh-so-graciously decided to break her 3-day poop strike while we were in his office. This was actually really handy because he decided he did want a sample after all. Thanks, Becca.

This visit replaced our normal weigh-in at the pediatrician's office, so she was on a different scale and measuring table...which is important to note when you look at these measurements.

Last weeks ago: 8.55 kg (18 pounds, 14 ounces), 31 inches
This week: 8.75 kg (19 pounds, 4 ounces), 30.5 inches
Week's change: +200 grams/6 ounces, -0.5 inch
Net change: +1050 grams/30 ounces, +1.5 inches

WOWZAS! Some of that weight gain can be attributed to the change in scales, but some of it has to be due to the fact that.....

....wait for it...


So maybe the secret to her growth is not so much in adding calories everywhere possible (though I'm sure her Halloween candy did help), but in keeping what she eats in her stomach. Novel concept, I know. She did throw up during her snack yesterday afternoon (because she gagged on her apple), but she hasn't thrown up during her tube feedings in 9 days! We are, of course, ecstatic for many reasons, not the least of which is that we were d.o.n.e. with vomit. Every parent has to wake up in the middle of the night and clean up vomit occasionally, but every night, whether we were at home or travelling had gotten pretty old. I'm not so naive as to think that we've bid a final adieu to our vomity child, but it sure has been nice to have a break. Any maybe now the doctors and nutritionists will listen to me when I say stopping the vomit is a priority. (Heretofore, they generally have been wanting us to get every possible drop of formula in her.) After her stomach bug last week, we cut way back on her nightly feeds and are just now bumping back up her rate...I don't know, maybe they just can't imagine the amount of vomit we see in the night or in the mornings when she throws's a lot of formula and calories down the drain (and in her hair, and all over her pajamas, and soaking her sheets, and covering her blankey, Lamby, bear, and pacis), so to speak. (We even stopped giving her regular baths at bedtime because we knew she'd just end up back in the bath in a few hours.)

Anyway, the doc was happy with her weight gain, so we're not changing much, but since we are dealing with a lot of vomit, he wanted the poop sample so that he could double-check some of the findings from her scope this summer. Apparently she had a small area of inflammation in her bowels that he didn't think much of at the time, but it could be a sign of some kind of infection that could be causing the upchucking. (Wow, haven't heard that word in a long time!) Also, if she keeps tossing her cookies (nice the '90's!), he's going to change her reflux prescription from Zantac (or "minty fresh," as we've come to call it - Becca LOVES the "mint" (i.e. medicine) flavor!) to something stronger that not only neutralizes the acid in her stomach but reduces the overall amount of gastric juices.

For now, though, I'm just grateful for every night and morning that goes by without my baby covered in puke! :)

And just because I haven't posted pictures in a while, here's a little teaser from Halloween!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Report Cards

Becca LOVES school, which she very adorably calls "tool". She loves her friends (one of whom is an old NICU buddy! Let's hear it for Pod E!), she loves her teachers, she loves the toys, she loves the playground, she loves everything about school. If you ask her, she'll tell you that she wants to go to school every day. (Right now she goes for 2 hours on one morning.) Which is one reason I am furiously trying to find a job. (No 2nd income = no $ for school...though I wouldn't mind all the free time!)

Because Becca's school (W.A.V.E.S.) is a special instruction classroom for Tennessee Early Intervention, she has an Individualized Family Service Plan with goals, outcomes, etc. (It's the toddler version of an IEP.) We need to do some updating on her goals (especially regarding snack time!), but right now her school goals are:
  1. Initiate social contact with others during 2 play activities.
  2. Use words and gestures to communicate wants and needs during 2 classroom activities.
  3. Walk independently from place to place during 4 classroom routines. (This includes stepping from surface to surface on the playground.)

We get a progress report every month, and this month I was excited to see that she is doing each these things "all of the time" with "very little help." What a big girl!

What I love most about these progress reports, though, is the few sentences her teachers write to summarize her progress. Here's what this month's note said:

"PROGRESS: Becca continues to become more active in the classroom, moving from place to place in order to participate in a variety of activities. She uses words to request and to identify objects, pictures and people when asked and approaches friends to join play activities."

Here's what I hear/see when I read it:

"PROGRESS: Becca is the most adorable child ever. She is very independent and is walking everywhere! She is a genius and enjoys sharing her genius with her many friends in class. We just want to squeeze on her all day long!"

I know it's no summa cum laude or anything, but I couldn't be prouder!

I could be out of control by the time she gets to kindergarten!