Monday, November 18, 2013

World Prematurity Awareness Day

When you are a NICU parent, soon-to-be, current or former, you pay attention to the weird holidays, like World Prematurity Awareness Day, because to you, these are not weird at all.  These are days we get to celebrate the challenges we have been through in our lives.  These are days we get to take a few extra minutes and remember. 

We remember where we were when we first learned we were pregnant. We remember the day like it was yesterday because for many of us this was something that we had worked for and waited for and was finally given to us in a glowing moment of joy.

That glowing moment was followed up by an amazing ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. We all remember waiting in anticipation to hear the one thing we pray for in the first trimester.... the heartbeat. We all remember welling up with pride and joy because we had hit the first milestone of a pregnancy. We had brought a viable life form forward.

Then we all remember the day that our world came crashing down!

For some, this day came with progressive testing, ultrasounds, doctors visits and long hours waiting. For others, like myself, this day was sudden and unexpected. It was thrust upon us like a cruel joke that someone refused to take back. Many call this deliver day, some call it the day their bodies failed them.

I don't see it either way. I see it as the day medicine really proved itself. I see it as the day my family grew by hundreds and thousands, not only by one. Because on my delivery days, I joined the ranks of NICU mom. I learned what it was like to be a nurse, a caregiver and a mother. I learned how to lean on other parents for support. Parents who were experiencing the same feelings and waiting for the same milestones as me. Parents who used terms like inchstones, intubation, ventilator, kangaroo care, transfusions.... parents who measured successes by ounces gained and mm grown. These parents become your family. In addition, you soon learn to love the other NICU moms you were blessed with when your world supposedly came crashing down. We find solace in the nurses who helped us every day to keep these tiny figures alive. They cheered with us, cried with us, and slapped us upside the head when we needed it. And we trusted them because they had been there before and they would be there again! 

So on this amazing holiday that not many recognize but all of my fellow NICU parents share, be proud of your experiences. They have made us who we are! They have brought us together. They have bonded us like no other experience can.

Being a NICU mom is something I am proud of. I am proud that medicine is so advanced that even when my body fails me, medicine did not. And because of that I have two healthy thriving beautiful girls!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Baby number 3... we are not afraid!

I begin this post by laughing out loud.  You see,  I am sure for my family members that are reading this, they did not get all excited and jump for joy when they saw this post.  I am sure I will get a string of comments about it, to which most I will ignore.  I ignore them out of respect for my relationships with my family members, for if I truly listened to what they were saying, I would likely be so disappointed by their lack of respect, support and understanding for decisions made by me and my husband that I may never talk to them again.  Many will claim that I am imagining this animosity, but I encourage them to really pay attention to reactions the next time Jason and I talk about a baby in comparison to when ANY of my other cousins talk about a baby.  The reactions are very different and naturally so.  My pregnancies aren't these glowing amazing stories where I have no morning sickness, gain little weight, could run a marathon with all the energy I have, and then we have to talk the baby out around 40 weeks when my water naturally breaks.  If you want one of those, call my best friend Jennifer, she is a PRO!  My stories are much more intense and come with twists and turns and drama!  They are defining stories that show character and strength and a willingness to trust others with the tiny lives we bring in to this world.  My stories are just as incredible as the next if you take the time to see it from our perspective.

Jason and I are planning baby number 3.  We are very excited about this.  My extended family members (well most of them) are not!  And as family members often do, they vocalize it, try and press it in, some even get argumentative about our decision.  We have been trying to get the family geared up for it for some time and have finally come to the conclusion that there will be very little support for pregnancy number 3.  We try not to care too much about this realization as much as it hurts.  We hope that things will be different and that the support we need will be there when the time comes, but we are not holding our breath about it and have planned accordingly for any situation.

Having a baby is a very personal decision.  One that is made between a husband and wife and made out of love and desire to grow a wonderful family together.  You consider all the angles -- the finances, the medical risks, the ability to provide, the timing -- and then you decide.  Babies are a gift.  A wonderful gift.  As a parent, we don't always appreciate this gift, even when we know we should.  We sometimes threaten to ship this gift to another country just to try and get a single night of sleep, but deep down and through our every day joys, we love this gift with all our hearts.  If you are a NICU family like us, this is a gift you fought very hard to keep.  We respect the wonderful miracles we have in our family, and we are not afraid to do it again. 


For those that know my birth stories, they gasp, cry, panic, get angry, and freak out over our decision.  They may tell me I am being selfish and I am not considering the needs of my family, but really, I think they respond out of fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear of a repeat occurrence that they aren't familiar with, Fear of the NICU.  But we are not afraid. 

My birth story is not one that most people desire or even consider, but it is MY birth story and it is one I am familiar with.  I do not look back on my birth memories with pain, envy, anger or fear.  Being familiar with something removes the fear you may have with it and I am familiar with my birth stories.  While most woman are lucky enough to experience spontaneous labor when the baby is ready and have their personal OB deliver their baby along side a couple of nurses.   My deliveries are scheduled events that are prepared for and practiced and come with a specialized TEAM of doctors.  Specialists that include scary names like Neurologist, Neonatologist, Cardiologist, Hematologist, Hepatologist, and 3, yes 3 Obstetric Specialists (better known as Maternal Fetal Medicine).  And I love each and every one of them.  I know them, they know me and we are all on board.  I see each of them every 3 months for check ups and they have all agreed with an action plan for another pregnancy.  And this is not a hesitant agreement with conditional terms that make me look crazy for doing this. They wholeheartedly believe, as I do, that this pregnancy will be different.  This comes with a lot of hard work on my part and an amazing medical recovery following Annaliece's delivery.   These opinions and decisions were not made lightly and I continue to council with my doctors frequently to ensure the best possible outcome. 

We understand and accept that the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) is a natural, normal part of our birth story.  Some people freak out by that, but we do not.  We have done it twice and because of that I now support parents who are going through it or have been through it.  Some went through it with me!  I have held the hands of parents who lost their babies in the NICU, hands of parents who didn't make it to the NICU and prayed they could, and wept with mother's for days and weeks over having our babies in the NICU, but this doesn't change my mind.  This makes me stronger and better and more convinced that I can do this.  Will we need a NICU -- we don't know, but probably.  We don't kid ourselves about what we potentially face.  But we know that our babies are healthy and strong and I will do everything in my power to keep a baby healthy and growing.  I DID NOT FAIL MY BABIES, my body failed me.  With the changes we have made to my health recently, and those we continue to make, my body is stronger, better and is ready to do this again.

When Jason and I had Annaliece, surprisingly, it never crossed my mind to be done and Jason never asked me to be done. Family told me rather than asked me about being done and being happy.  Don't get me wrong.  I am happy.  I am happy with the two I have, but I feel that there is more out there.  My oldest daughter tells people there are two babies in my tummy.  She has done this even before Jason and I began talking regularly of another.  I am not sure she is wrong.  I half hope there is only one, but two is good also!  We are prepared for whatever God has in store for us. 

We are excited about the idea of another baby and we want our family to be excited for us.  We know that we will need to support.  We don't kid ourselves about that.  My pregnancies are hard even before they get medically difficult.  In addition, I am doing this with two other children at home, one with special needs that still require additional attention.  But I am not the first to do this and I hope I won't be the last.  So when we finally get pregnant and decide to share the news, we don't want it to be an upsetting experience.  Remember, every baby is a gift and we are not afraid!

Fatten them babies up!

We were recently told this by yet another medical professional.  Yup, I am to fatten my babies up.  LOL. 

Thanks to creative eating habits of my children and their medically proven, incredibly high metabolisms, they do not gain weight like normal children.  We have to almost double their caloric intake every day just to keep them healthy and growing.

 Here comes the problems.  When your children are picky eaters, how do you do this??  Their pediatrician and I do not understand why they suddenly stop eating certain foods or refuse food all together, but I need to figure something out.  So we have put a plan in place and are going to try a few things.  Hopefully this will have my midgies growing correctly again. 

Between weight checks the last three weeks, Annaliece lost 9.8 BMI and Elizabeth lost 8.7 BMI without much height growth.  Elizabeth is luckily still measuring on the charts, but we can't even get Annie to MAKE a chart!  LOL.  Poor thing is so tiny!  So, if you know any good strategies, recipes, ideas, or options, give me a call. 

We REFUSE to medically mess with their metabolisms, so please don't suggest I try the protein complex that PCMC happily doses to preemies in our position.  There has not been enough long term research for me to agree to something like that.  I would rather small children than 16 year old girls with weight problems because their metabolism doesn't work right.  But anything else I am open to....  Ready, GO!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

First Day of Preschool

Thanks mostly in part to the extreme amount of instability we have had in our lives the last few months, we had decided that we were not going to enroll Elizabeth in Preschool this year.  It was a hard decision but one that we felt comfortable with.  I have been working with her at home and she was advancing nicely on what Early Intervention and I thought was appropriate.

Then we found this great place in Riverton.  A small townhome that is just perfect for our growing family.  We settled in and began unpacking.  Evaluations came and went for the girls and it was determined that Elizabeth was good to start at a traditional preschool next year.  We were excited.  I text my Aunt Kelly and let her know that I would likely be enrolling both girls in her classes next year if she still had room.  That is when she informed me that they had receiving a moving notification for a student and a spot would be open in her preschool class beginning the first of November if we wanted to start her now. 

The decision was left in our court.  Our daughter was already suffering from anxiety from the move, she was very vocal about not liking the new place and she had begun acting out, but maybe if I started her on a school regiment she would settle in and find some good friends.  So we decided to give it a whirl.

In the days leading up to the first day, Elizabeth was very verbal about not wanting to go.  She even resorted to refusing to use the potty when I once stated that "now that she was going potty on the big girl potty she could go to preschool with the other kids."  Her acting out even got aggressive at times and she was adamant that she didn't want to go. 

I text Kelly and let her know about what was happening and we talked through it a little.  She recommended that I give it a try and if it doesn't work we could always try again in a couple of months.  However, I was concerned that Elizabeth would fall too far behind her peers in regards to social and psychosocial development.  So I agreed to start her the first of November and see how it went. 

The first day came... we ran errands in the morning before preschool started.  Elizabeth would ask "is this my school" every time we passed a school while running errands.   She kept saying that she didn't want to go to preschool and she would run away.  LOL.  I proceeded to get her ready, under duress, but she eventually calmed down when I pulled out her backpack.  I reminded her that big girls take a back pack to school and so she needed to get hers ready.  She opened it up and asked where her lunch was.  I reminded her that she already ate lunch.  She asked three or four more times for a lunch for her book bag.

When we finally got loaded in the car and ready to go, we proceeded to Kelly's house.  Elizabeth, knowing the route, asked why we were going to Auntie Kel's.  I reminded her that Kelly's is where preschool is held and so we had to go there in order to go to school .  She looked really surprised.  By the time we pulled in the driveway she was excited.  I snapped a couple of pictures outside the house and then walked her around to the back. We met her teacher, I filled out the paperwork, and Elizabeth got settled in.  It was a HUGE help that Chelsey had her sons there that day.  Elizabeth took to Hudson like a fish to water.  He took her under his wing and showed her how to play the computer and that is where Mommy was no longer necessary.  I finished up my paperwork and snuck upstairs to say Hi to Kelly and Chelsey before leaving. 

When I picked Elizabeth up, she couldn't tell me a single thing she had done or learned, but she did say she would go back on Thursday.  So all in all it was a success.  The only story I got from her about preschool was about Auntie Kel's visit to the preschool.  She enjoyed seeing Kelly in her class.  She also informed me that Uncle Jon couldn't visit because he was in the car on his phone and "his mommy" wouldn't let him out.  So she would have to visit Uncle Jon another day.  LOL!!

Preschool?  Success!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The IceCream Place

Over the summer, Megan introduced my children to the "Icecream Place."  Now they want to go either there or the "Buffet Place" every time we eat out with Auntie Meg.  The ice cream place, more professionally known as Leatherby's Family Creamery, is famous for their monster size servings and their homemade caramel and hot peanut butter.  It is amazing!!  The girls love going there with Auntie Meg. 

Kennedy's Hat

Those of you who celebrated Elizabeth's birthday with us last year will remember the infamous hat that Kennedy got for her.  Elizabeth was scared of it.  LOL.  Well now.... we can't get her to take it off!! 

State Fair with the Animals

Mom and I took the girls to the Utah State Fair in September to see the animals.  It was a super fun evening.  The girls had an amazing time and they both ran Grandma ragged!  LOL.  I love these girls and their love of the outdoors. 


At the Fair, they had this children's section that they could go through.  They carried buckets, wore aprons and did all these different farm things in order to purchase a prize at the end.  So the girls milked a cow (And collected a carton of milk for their basket), sheered a sheep (and collected wool for their basket), gathered eggs (And collected an egg for their basket), harvested an orchard (and put an apple in their basket), planted seeds in the garden (and collected a vegetable), fueled their tractors and plowed the field.  Then they "sold" what they collected at the store and received $1 with which they got to buy a treat from the snack shack!  It was pretty cool.  The treats were nice too!  The girls had an awesome time. 

Then Grandma took Elizabeth on a pony ride.  Annie is still a bit small but maybe next year.  All in all it was a great trip!