Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy Birthday Eleanor and Adam! (with photos)

Eleanor and Adam are a year old today! Our big celebration will be tomorrow, but there is a lot of what I'll call "internal celebration" today. We have so much to be thankful for, I don't even know where to begin. The progress that they have made in one year just astounds me. Eleanor has gained 19 pounds in one year, and Adam has gained 17.5. They have gone from tiny, frail babies covered in wires and tubes to the happy, excited, curious little stinkers they are today. The odd thing is, I've been so...sad. I didn't see this coming, but I probably should have after reading about so many micropreemie birthdays. This is perhaps, one of those experiences that only another micropreemie parent might truly understand. In thinking about their birthday, I can't help but think about their actual birth and what a horrible time it was. I wish that weren't the case, but there is no other way to put it. We had no idea that Eleanor and Adam would be so healthy a year later, so the feelings of dispair and disbelief easily come flooding back. The horrible way they put mothers of perfectly healthy full-term babies and mothers of very ill children who can't leave the NICU right next to each other in the maternity ward... The sound of other people's babies crying at night when I didn't know if I would ever hear mine cry... Thinking over and over "only a 30% chance..." I slept with their little hospital hats every night for weeks since that was as close as I could get to them. I suppose this isn't the post most of you were expecting to read on such a joyful day as today, but along with the millions of kisses and the rounds of "Happy Birthday" comes such strong feelings of sadness that it almost takes my breath away. I wan't sure that I wanted to write all of this here, but I think that if another preemie mom reads it and feels like I do, we can empathize and nod our heads, thinking, "I know exactly what you mean." But I only think these things when I am away from them for a moment, because as soon as I walk into the room and they both smile and giggle at me, those thoughts disappear and are replaced with the thoughts of a very proud mommy who has personally discovered that miracles can honestly happen.

Happy, Happy Birthday my pretty Eleanor and my sweet Adam.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Quick Request

As you probably know from last spring's blog entries, the March of Dimes has been an intergral part of helping save babies who were born prematurely. Most importantly, they funded the research to create surfactant which goes into the baby's lungs to help their tiny lungs breathe as well as possible. This was part of the reason Adam and Eleanor could survive when born at only 23 weeks. The March of Dimes is trying to raise awareness of prematurity by asking Google to highlight National Prematurity Awareness Day on Nov 14 in on their home page. Please go to the following website and sign the petition that the M of D has set up to support this cause. Thanks!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Everything Eleanor

So Eleanor is officially 20 pounds! And that's before her first birthday and before she's 8 months, medically speaking. Boy, I wish Adam likes to eat like she does. It's not so much that Adam gets so much less food into him--it's that so much more comes out. But he's doing well, too, and we'll be happy to see the pediatric GI in October.
The other fun news is that Eleanor is starting to pull herself up onto things--particularly her Dad. She has been seen using his ears or nose similar to the way you might see someone use one of those rocks on a climbing wall. She's not quite up to the couch yet, but she's often kneeling in front of the bouncy chair pushing her legs up straight so that she's got her rear end in the air, sort of shaped like a triangle. In general, her motivation is centered on the remote control. Now, this is no ordinary remote. It's got a touch screen that lights up blue, so that makes it extra-special fun. I think if I put the remote at the top of the stairs tomorrow, Eleanor would find a way to get herself up there. When she gets it, the TV goes all wonky. We have picture in picture. Didn't know that until Eleanor got her little hands on the remote. She will also crawl/scoot herself out into the center of the foyer, turn herself around in a full circle on her belly, assessing the area, and then crank it into high gear once she has set her sights on something. You should see the sparkle in her eyes when she sees a forgotten catalogue on the floor. I'm pretty sure she was asking for Samantha from the American Girl collection yesterday.Notice that she also thinks it's fun to try to wake up her soundly sleeping brother. Good thing it was time for him to eat, anyway.The only problem with all of this is that she doesn't like to sit still anymore. Here come the baby gates. Next entry--All About Adam.

Monday, September 11, 2006

8 Month Developmental Assessment

Today we went back to the hospital to go to the twins' eight month developmental assessment. Since preemies often have delays in their development, the hospital likes to see them every four months (for now) to see if things are going as they should. If they are, great. If not, they are a source for things like physical therapy. The physical therapist we saw today is the same one who has evaluated both kids at home before and I really like her. We also saw one of the neonatologists that the twins' had in the NICU. The evaluation went very well. They check all the major milestones, plus a whole list of little things that most people wouldn't think about: do they pass a toy from one hand to the other (both yes), bang toys together (Eleanor does), smack flat surfaces (Eleanor does), look for a dropped toy (Adam does), look for a toy that has been covered with a blanket (both do), etc. This time, there was a woman (I don't know her title) who asked a series of questions about the twins' socialization. She asked if they respond to their name (yes), react to angry voices (when do they hear angry voices??), put their arms up when they are going to be picked up (yes), wave bye-bye (neither do), and so on. Honestly, I don't always know the answers to the questions! I don't know if that makes me a bad mom or a really busy one. Believe it or not, both Adam and Eleanor did so well that the PT said they don't need any physical therapy (!), but to keep her number in case I have any concerns. They are both in their age range in the socialization area, so the only issue we have to deal with is Adam's eating. When it comes down to it, we are extremely blessed, so I'm going to stop getting so upset about it. He's in the 40th percentile for his adjusted age for weight and 55th for length, so even though he's not 19 lbs 13 oz like his sister, his 18 lbs 4 oz. is just fine, thank you.
After our appointment, we went to visit the NICU since it's in the same building. One of the nurses who took care of Elenaor just about every day for the first three weeks was there. When she saw Eleanor, she scooped her up, gave her some cuddles, and then whisked her away. She said, "I'm taking her away, Michelle." Ok, fine, I mean she knows how to take care of a baby, right? I find out she took her to where the neonatologist and staff were rounding about the current patients! So I pushed Adam (who slept through the whole visit) over in his stroller to say hello. We saw another neonatologist that the twins' had while in the NICU. She just happens to be the wife of their current pediatrician--which I love because I know they can chat about them at home--which I found out they do :) The nurse rocked Eleanor to sleep and put her back in the stroller and we were off. All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better day. Our next assessment will be in January when they are one year adjusted. (Photos to come.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Go State!

I couldn't resist the little Michigan State hats. Check out the grin on Adam--he's so darn cute! Miss Eleanor was not as enchanted with the idea of a hat. Perhaps she would have preferred to visit the milliner herself.

Adam had an appointment with a speech pathologist who specializes in eating issues today. It was mostly evaluative, but she gave us a little flexible cup to try with him and basically said that we can pretty much call this the end of the bottle for Adam. She would rather focus on learning to use a cup/sippy cup because by the time we made any headway with the bottle, it would be time to wean him from it anyway. That's all fine with me--I'm not attached to the bottle either :) Now it's time to see if insurance will cover feeding therapy. Grumble,. grumble. I hope I don't have to fight with them.
Nothing else new, really. Developmental appointment next Monday. I'm sure we'll have more news then.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Staying Home

We stay home a lot. For someone who used to travel everywhere in the summer, this is a huge change. It's not that we don't want to go out on walks or run to the mall, or even to Target. We just can't. There is almost no time between when Adam eats, Eleanor eats, Adam throws up, I clean up and have to refeed him, and the next feeding. I guess I pictured us out on walks like all the other stay-at-home moms--strollers and iPod, taking a little tour of the neighborhood. Here it is, almost autumn, and we never went on one walk. Not one. I keep thinking this will all get easier when Adam learns to feed himself, but I don't know. Maybe it will be worse because he'll have more control. Who knows... Until then, we play on the family room floor a lot. Let me just tell you now, though--if you see any stains on the carpet in the photos, you can be pretty sure it's sweet potatoes or bananas or something. Our poor family room carpet has really been through the mill.
We have a bunch of doctor's appointments coming up. Next week Adam has an appointment with a speech pathologist for his eating issues. She works with swallowing problems, gagging, etc. I would've never known that speech pathologists did that kind of thing, but when you have a baby who hates to eat, you quickly find all the options. I'm still feeding him formula with a spoon, thickened with a little rice cereal so it doesn't just slide down his throat like he wishes it would. This cuts down on the giant air pockets in his tummy that can shoot food out of him like a cannon. You wouldn't believe it unless you saw it. People have finally stopped telling me, "Oh, my baby used to spit up a lot, too." Ugh!'s not like that, really. Come see my carpet. Good thing he's so cute! It's just about impossible to get upset with him, no matter how big a mess he can make. He's so expressive with those eyebrows! He can even lift just one at a time.
Both Adam and Eleanor will be at the Developmental Clinic the following week for their 8 month evaluation. Adam is just starting to sit up for short periods of time. He flops backward often, though. He's also getting up on his knees for a second or two at a time. He even did the little rocking thing today for a moment before crashing down on his little face. He's so much more sensitive than Eleanor and will cry with the littlest bump. He's just about 18 pounds. Eleanor can pull herself acroos the room at an alarming pace. She has decided that Alex's Playmobil stuff looks like fun and will shove a direction booklet in her mouth in two seconds flat. Eleanor is approaching 20 pounds! Not yet, but I'll let you know when the big day arrives. Her hair is getting longer and I'm going to try my darndest to get some barrettes in it. I've been waiting a long time for tights with ruffly butts, bows, ribbons, and black patent leather shoes. Poor thing is going to be a girly girl, whether she likes it or not. I think she's going to like it though. I couldn't imagine having a daughter who was more like me than Eleanor is. Plus I think she's just the prettiest little girl. Her smile is infectious.
I'm going to a meeting at the NICU soon for a Parent-to-Parent planning committee. I guess you can be trained to talk with other parents who have preemies in the NICU in a similar situation to your own children. I think that sometimes that perspective can be just as helpful as the medical perspecitve, so I'm really looking forward to going. There is also a reunion and fashion show to plan. I don't know what is being modeled at this fashion show--hospital gowns and blankets? Got me. My friend Elise (her son has been pictured in the blog before) is going with me, so I'm looking forward to getting out for the evening. We should stop at the bar for a drink. Crazy, crazy thought.