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December 2006

December 1, 2006

I just finished reading the December/January issue of Baby Talk magazine, and was depressed to discover an article on how much babies should eat. According to this article, which got its information from The American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby 12 months or over should drink three 8 oz. bottles of whole milk, four to eight tablespoons of fruit and vegetables, four servings of breads and cereals ("a serving is 1/4 slice of bread, 2 tablespoons of rice, pasta, etc."), and two tablespoons of protein ("such as meat or poultry") per day.

Good grief! Anastasia is lucky to get two 8 oz. bottles a day, and she certainly isn't eating all those solids.

I do think, at least at this moment, that her lackluster eating of solids is related to teething. Although I admit she eats much better when I give her finger food (which I do at every meal).

The honey bear bottle worked great the first day; she took 40 ccs (a little over an ounce) of extra Pediasure or whole milk. But yesterday, she wasn't interested in the thing at all. Hopefully the novelty hasn't worn off so soon. I continue to offer her every opportunity to drink throughout the day, whether from her bottle, her sippy cup, the honey bear, or a regular glass. Yesterday the only thing she drank was about half a cup of my water (from an adult glass). Whatever works!

But the big news today is that Anastasia has added a new word to her vocabulary: "diaper!"


December 2, 2006

Poor Anastasia has experienced too many changes today. To begin with, she isn't in the greatest mood, given that she had her second RSV shot of the season yesterday. Then I saw that she was trying to pull herself from a laying position to a sitting position in her crib, using the railing. "It must be time to lower her crib mattress," I thought. So her daddy dutifully did that this morning. But when it was time for Anastasia's morning nap, she spent a good ten or fifteen minutes crying because she could no longer reach her crib toys. Poor dear. She loves those things.

Then we bought our Christmas tree, and when hubby drug it inside, Anastasia started whimpering. Her eyes were big and I could just see her thinking: "A tree? Inside the house?? Ok, you guys are freaking me out!" She was, fortunately, easily comforted.

The good news is that once the tree is decorated, I think she'll love it. She already loves the lighted garland in our living room. She claps and says "dada" every time she sees it. (Prompting her daddy to conclude that "dada" must be synonymous with "cool!")

So...we're well on our way to what will be a fun Christmas season. We can't wait to see Anastasia have fun with ribbons and bows!

You know, this site started as a way to share our joy about our soon-to-be-born child, then turned into a way to share the very painful news of my difficult pregnancy and Anastasia's stay in the NICU with friends and family. Eventually, it became obvious that many people who didn't even know us were praying for Anastasia's well-being, and the site became a way for me to communicate with you. Now, while I still enjoy sharing information about my dear daughter (and while many of you send nagging emails when I haven't posted in a while!), this site is turning into a place that offers useful tips and information for parents and friends of preemies. More importantly, I've been informed through your many emails that this site offers hope to many of you. Nothing could please me more.


December 4, 2006

Anastasia proved this morning that she knows what "no" means. We don't often need to use the word because she's not mobile, so it's hard for her to get into things we don't want her to. But when she's in her walker, she does like to take the kitchen towels off the stove handle. The first time she did this, I allowed it, but then I got to thinking it was probably better not to let her play with anything associated with the oven and stove. So from then on, I gently told her "no" whenever she tried to take the towels.

This morning, as I washed her bottles, she scooted right over to the oven (in her walker) and reached for the towels. I said "no" and she looked right at me, smiled, and pulled her hand away, leaving the towels where they were. A minute later, she was trying to take the towels again, and I had to say "no" again - but she responded by not taking the towels. We did this repeatedly until I moved her away from temptation.

Anastasia is definitely growing up, and I keep telling her daddy we really need to get our baby proofing done. While in her walker, she's trying to open kitchen cupboards, and it won't be long before she's into other things. Her daddy keeps saying she'll be crawling in a matter of weeks.

Evidence of this is how she reacts when I wrap Christmas presents. I plop her down a few feet from me, but as I work with the paper and ribbons, she stretches and reaches and scoots, trying to grab them. In fact, several times she's come very close to crawling. But mostly, she gets down flat on her stomach, reaches hard with her arms, and pushes with her toes. In the end, she gets very frustrated and grumpy, but I try to just let her struggle. Sometimes I put her into a crawling position - but she usually just rolls over onto her back when I try to help.

So to keep her somewhat happy while I wrap, I take frequent breaks, carrying her away from all those tempting Christmas things, and I give her all the empty cardboard tubes that the paper and ribbons come on. Right now, she thinks those are her best toys. Yesterday I also gave her a small scrap of wrapping paper. She had a grand time ripping it to shreds.

At the same time, Anastasia's easily frightened these days. Every time I try to make her a milkshake or smoothie, she cries big tears at the sound of the blender. And this weekend, when her daddy checked his blood pressure on a little home model, Anastasia freaked out as soon as she saw the cuff. (Hubby hadn't put it on his arm yet, so it wasn't the sound of the Velcro, nor the sound of the machine working, that bothered her.) We can't quite figure that one out, unless she remembers getting her blood pressure taken in the NICU.

I continue to struggle to get enough fluids down her. Yesterday, I thought she did pretty well, drinking from her sippy cup and my adult cup throughout the day. But this morning, her diaper reeked (signaling dehydration). I'll be able to get some extra Pediasure down her today, because we're going to physical therapy, and she'll always take part of a bottle if she's in the car. (Go figure.)

The honey bear bottle gave me such hope the first day I used it, but Anastasia doesn't even takes a single sip out of it any more.

P.S. Anastasia has figured out that if she stretches a little, she can still reach her crib toys.


December 5, 2006

This morning, Anastasia delighted me by saying over and over "a book" when I asked her if she wanted me to read her a book :)  She also made us smile especially wide last night when she reached for the cat, meowing. Best yet, she decided she liked peach milkshakes, and drank 3 oz. of one last night! Oh, and she has a new favorite food: Pillsbury Toaster Scrambles.

I had fun dressing her up in a Christmas outfit this morning and taking her photo in front of the tree. She loves feeling this soft dress, and was delighted that I allowed her to play with the jingle bells that normally hang on the door knob. She has a favorite Christmas ornament, too. It's an older, wooden ornament of the lion from The Wizard of Oz. And if you pull a certain string on it, it dances. Gets a smile out of Anastasia every time!


December 7, 2006

Typically, Anastasia eats small amounts of solids throughout the day. But lately, she starts out nibbling, then gradually eats more and more throughout the day. By her dinner time yesterday, she was eating like a little piggie. (Good for her!) She started with a tablespoon of refried beans with sour cream and cheese on top, followed by a fish stick and assorted Cheetos and goldfish crackers. Then she took 65 ccs (a little over 2 oz.) of a peach milkshake. And she finished off with her first cookie (molasses raisin). Whoa! I wish she always ate like that!

For the first time, she also stood alone, her hands resting on the couch cushions. I'd say she did this for two or three minutes. Then she stood alone for several seconds with only one hand resting on the cushions.

Anastasia is also saying many more words. Yesterday she added "cookie" (referring to a graham cracker) and "pop" (as in "pop goes the weasel") to her vocabulary.


December 11, 2006

Anastasia has her eighth tooth! She's also got several large bumps on her gums, so she's still not quite herself. Getting teeth is hard work.

Although she's not crawling yet, I discover Anastasia on her tummy a lot more. Often when I fetch her from her crib after a nap, she's been sleeping on her stomach. She's also playing on her stomach, which she's never done before. Who knows if she'll crawl anytime soon, but she is scooting herself around a little, mostly while sitting on her rear end.

This weekend I tried to snooze a little bit, laying on the floor next to Anastasia while she played. But I couldn't sleep because Anastasia thought it was the funniest thing in the world that mommy would take a nap. She had some real belly laughs going, and didn't stop chuckling until I gave up on my nap and opened my eyes.

Then Anastasia made me laugh. She often tries to mimic when I sing a simple scale, but yesterday she actually managed to sing, as opposed to just speak her mimicked "la la's."

She's still working on a lot of new words, too. Yesterday, her daddy was teaching her how to say her name. Out of Anastasia's mouth, her name became "dadastasia," or sometimes "danastasia," but she definitely has the idea!

And speaking of words and such, I have a book recommendation for all those babies out there. Being an author and an avid reader, I'm pretty particular about the books I buy Anastasia. Too, the Baby Einstein products that I've been exposed to don't exactly excite me. I think they are generally over-rated, and a lot of the books are poorly written. But, I found one that I think is special - and Anastasia loves it, too. It's called Windows to Color. This is a board book with awesome illustrations. Inside, you'll find not only vivid color photographs of animals and everyday objects, but also fabulous artwork by famous artists like van Gogh, Chagall, Degas, and O'Keeffe. Anastasia is fascinated by the artwork. Plus, each page has cut-out shapes (like the window on the cover), which Anastasia really likes playing with. Anyway, we like the book so well, I've added it to the Tips for Preemie Development page.


December 11 (part II)

Today is a weigh day, and Anastasia came in at 19 lbs. 9 1/2 oz.! That's a 6 oz. increase from two weeks ago. Just wonderful :)  I'm not sure how she's doing it. She mostly refuses her milk shakes (she didn't inherit that from me!). But she's obviously getting enough calories, anyway.


December 12, 2006

Anastasia saw the Early Intervention physical therapist today; the session went extremely well. First, the PT spent a little time letting Anastasia study her. And just when it seemed Anastasia would never trust this stranger, my girl spotted the PT's gold necklace. (It's true: Anastasia already has a jewelry fetish!)

I proceeded to show the PT how Anastasia can now stand at the couch, one or two arms resting on the cushions. Then the PT had me sit with one leg bent, my knee beneath Anastasia's rear end. This allowed Anastasia to stand and sit with control. Which lead to Anastasia standing entirely without aid! (She did this repeatedly, for up to a half a minute or so.) I was so proud, tears came to my eyes.

Then we worked on the transition from sitting to laying on the tummy. This is always tough for Anastasia, but by the end of the session, she was doing it very well.

The PT was quite pleased with her hard work, and said she's already made progress since the time she last saw her (when she did her evaluation). I really liked the PT's approach, and it was nice to have some new moves to try with Anastasia.

P.S. Some of you may know that The March of Dimes was working hard to get the Preemie Act (S. 707) to pass. Congress has now passed the Act, and it's currently awaiting the President's signature. To read the Act, click here.


December 14, 2006

Last night, Anastasia said her name! Clear as a bell :) We're impressed, 'cause it's not like her name is something simple like "Jo." She was quite pleased with the reaction she got by saying her name, so maybe she'll say it more often than she does some of her other words.

Yesterday Anastasia also drank 100ccs (a little over 3 oz.) of a pear milkshake. She'd been absolutely refusing milkshakes, but for some reason that pear flavor really pleased her. It's amazing how much she eats at dinner time. Yesterday she ate two tablespoons of avacado (with whole milk and flax seed stirred into it), a breaded chicken strip, a little shredded carrot, assorted Cheerios and Cheetos, and 100ccs of milkshake. It's like she's trying to make up for not eating much the rest of the day.

We see Anastasia getting more mobile every day. She goes everywhere (and in every direction) in her walker, and is starting to get into all the kitchen drawers. She reaches far, in every direction. She gets onto her tummy and doesn't mind staying there. She rolls around and scoots, too. She's making real progress!

But she's still pretty funny about wanting things, yet not wanting to crawl or scoot to them. For example, she routinely extends an arm (or two) to the Christmas tree. Either she's willing it to come to her, or she's thinking: "Christmas tree, pick me up!"


December 14 (part II)

Last Easter, some friends of mine bought Anastasia the cutest little dress. She only just now fits into what is by far her fanciest outfit. And this is the first time Anastasia has worn clips in her hair :)


December 16, 2006

Yesterday I saw the doctor that delivered Anastasia. Since summer, I've been having pain in my lower right abdomen, about an inch above my C-section scar. It's been persistently getting worse - sometimes becoming so painful I can't stand - so I thought I'd better have it checked out. Turns out, it's an adhesion (a "band of scar tissue that binds together two anatomic surfaces which are normally separated from each other").

There's not too much that can be done about it, other than surgery (which doesn't always work), so my doctor suggested some stretches that might help.

Doctor, if you're reading this, thank you for always being so compassionate and helpful!

As for Anastasia, she continues to do quite a bit of standing. My mother was visiting yesterday, and was surprised to see her stand with no assistance. I said, "Haven't you been reading her blog?" "Yes," she said, "but I didn't realize she was standing so often!" So...now you know :)

Anastasia's also become a lot more grabby. She wants to explore anything and everything. (Um...yes, I will be baby proofing the kitchen this weekend...) Since we brought her home, I've had a small CD player sitting next to her play area, and we use it frequently. Nowadays, though, Anastasia makes it clear when she wants music. She scoots over the the CD player and tries to turn it on. And once the music is going, she conducts it. Quite literally. She's right in time with the music.

Yup. She's brilliant!

Oh, and speaking of her love for music, last night we were watching the classic film White Christmas. Normally, we don't let Anastasia watch TV, but last night, every time someone started to sing, she couldn't take her eyes off the television.


December 18, 2006

Anastasia is coming closer and closer to crawling. Yesterday she was flat on her stomach, supporting her upper torso on her hands, but with her legs flat on the floor. Then she pushed off with her toes to scoot probably four or five feet around our living room. Mostly backwards.

She's turning into more of a clown, too. It's not uncommon for me to say "Can you say 'mama?'" and for her to reply, with a grin and a twinkle in her eye "Dada." But yesterday I told her "I love you" and her reply was "I love daddy." Said with a big grin, of course. The little stinker.


December 19, 2006

Sadly, yesterday we learned that Anastasia's physical therapist is transferring to another facility and will no longer be able to work with her. We're bummed because she's been with Anastasia since early 2005 and is invested in her...Plus, we like her. I'm sure Anastasia's new PT will be great, too, but...it was a misty-eyed goodbye for all.

The good news is that the PT was pleasantly surprised and delighted with Anastasia's standing ability. It was a hard day for Anastasia, for some reason. She woke up on the wrong side of the crib, and wouldn't sleep or eat much all day. So physical therapy was enough to make her cry a lot. Still, she stood beautifully, and did some walking (with lots of help).


December 20, 2006


December 22, 2006

Today is the anniversary of Anastasia's homecoming. So many memories!

The night before she came home, I'd convinced the NICU staff that I didn't need to spend the night with Anastasia in a hospital room. "I've been in the NICU, helping to care for my daughter, for 133 days," I said. "I'd rather go home and get a good night's sleep." The NICU staff agreed, but could I sleep the night before she came home? Hardly. I was like a little kid on Christmas Eve; all I did was toss and turn.

My husband tells me that while I was mostly excited, he was mostly scared. He was terrified that Anastasia would have apnea spells at home, would turn blue, and...

Thankfully, that never happened.

I also have vivid memories of being told Anastasia was finally going home. That last month in the NICU was probably the most difficult for me. I knew that most preemies go home on their due date (or thereabouts), but a month had passed since Anastasia's. We had a last minute ROP scare, and Anastasia's crib got moved around a lot. I was also totally worn out. I'd been pumping for breast milk every three or four hours (day and night) since early August. My stress level was high.

But one day I walked into the NICU and the nurses all had knowing smiles on their faces. "Have you talked to the doctor yet?" one of my favorite nurses asked. "Not yet," I said. She nodded, grinning ear to ear. I knew something was up, but I really didn't think Anastasia was going home yet.

When I finally caught up with the doctor, he matter-of-factly said he thought there was nothing more they could do to encourage Anastasia to eat, and that it would be better for her to go home and be fed by the same person every day. I jumped up and down a few times, then gave the doctor a big hug and kiss. He turned crimson, and the nurses' jaws dropped. Heh heh.

It's funny; while leaving the NICU was sad in some ways (the nurses had become friends), when I think back, I hardly remember the teary-eyed goodbyes. I just recall hardly believing that I was finally taking my baby home. She was well (despite all the training we had to receive in infant CPR), she was a miracle, and we were finally going to be together - at home, as a family.

What joy!

I've just finished looking at the photos of Anastasia's homecoming. Take a moment and do the same. She's changed and blossomed so much in a year's time!

In fact, I was just thinking with wonder about Anastasia's language skills. Yesterday, she added "vacuum" to her vocabulary, saying it over and over while I used the machine. She also said "potty" for the first time.

When we visited the NICU back in August of 2006, one of the doctors said Anastasia's language skills were "almost freaky." I have to agree! It's one area where we don't really need to consider her "corrected age."

There is one area where I wish she'd hurry and catch up, though. Yesterday, Anastasia refluxed up some yogurt, and (as usual when she does this) she just let it sit in her mouth while giving me a panicked look. Thankfully, this time it wasn't a large amount, so she wasn't holding her breath. For some reason, it doesn't occur to her to spit it out. I have to be right there to tip her head down and let the fluid escape. I'll be glad when she outgrows that!


December 22 (part II)

Anastasia just crawled!

I was laying on the floor with her, reading a book, and she took two crawls, trying to grab my bookmark. She collapsed on her tummy immediately afterwards, but who cares? She crawled!


December 26, 2006

Well, after my last post, Anastasia didn't crawl again. I thought maybe the crawling was a fluke. But then Christmas Eve arrived.

Because Anastasia can't be around her little cousins (who are exposed to RSV frequently), we celebrated Christmas with my in-laws on the 24th. Anastasia enjoyed the stocking her grandma and grandpa brought her. In fact, she was almost more interested in petting its soft, furry surface than she was in finding the goodies inside. She was surprised to find two puppets in the stocking, as well as a few other odds and ends. She was especially taken with the hair bands she found inside.

Then I offered Anastasia her first present. I chose one that she'd been grabbing at whenever she scooted near the tree. She was thrilled to be allowed to play with the tag. And then the ribbons. And when I ripped open the paper - with a little help from Anastasia - she was delighted to find a toy inside.

She played with the toy a little, and then crawled over to the tree and grabbed another present...And so went the rest of the day!

Anastasia was a little upset when I told her the rest of the presents under the tree had to wait until Christmas day, but overall, she did just beautifully. She took some extra naps, and had a very enjoyable day. And you can bet that we thrilled while watching her crawl!

My mom spent Christmas day with us, and she was pleased to see Anastasia enjoy Christmas so much. Anastasia was loving the whole rip and tear thing by then, and at the end of the day, she was going from toy to toy, playing quietly.

Oh, and a new tooth popped up on Christmas day, too!

We've also been enjoying the fact that Anastasia has a new favorite word. No longer is it "dada" this and "dada" that. Now it's "button!" (Or, as Anastasia says it: Buh-nnnn.) Makes me giggle every time. (And yup, she knows what it means. But she also uses it as her all-purpose word.)

This morning, Anastasia was crawling all over the place, testing her new toys. She's even trying to pull herself up to a standing position, although she's not quite able to do it yet. She can easily go from laying down to sitting, and she no longer throws herself backward when she's been sitting but wants to lay down. Now she can gently lower herself to the floor.

What strides she's made in just the past few days!

And yup, I did catch her crawling on video.


December 27, 2006

Anastasia seems so happy to be mobile. She crawls all around the living room - and (of course) finds the remaining wrapping paper and ribbons at least as interesting as her new toys. She's also having a great time chasing the poor cat.

Incidentally, she's now 13 months corrected age and about 16 1/2 months chronological age. Yesterday she weighed in at 19 lbs. 12 oz.


December 27 (part II)

My mom- and dad-in-law gave me a terrific new digital camera for Christmas; I've been having fun with it...especially the feature that allows me to take Internet quality video :)

I thought you might enjoy seeing Anastasia "conduct." She's been doing this for a great many months, but this is the first time I've caught it on tape. Click here to view the clip.


December 27 (part III)

Anastasia just pulled herself into a standing position for the first time! It was a bit of a struggle for her, but boy was she proud :)


December 28, 2006

Poor Anastasia is a bit grumpy. How can a baby take naps when she knows there's a whole world to crawl around in??? Still, I can whip out the camera, and she will smile!


December 29, 2006

A couple of you asked who Anastasia has watched conducting. But truly, she's never seen anyone conduct. She just "conducts" instinctively. And frequently. If she hears a TV commercial, if a talk radio program plays something, or if the CD player gets turned on, she almost always starts conducting - and continues for at least a few moments (and often a few minutes).

If she happens to be in her high chair eating, she'll use her legs to conduct instead. And if she's crawling while music is playing, it's not uncommon to see her bounce between "steps," keeping time to the music.

Anastasia also tries to turn on the CD player first thing in the morning. It's portable, so I can take it wherever we're playing that day; she crawls over to it and starts pressing buttons until I turn the thing on. She's also trying to open the player and see how it works...

And while Anastasia is understandably less tolerant of sitting still just now, I'm pleased to say that she's still enjoying books. Yesterday she crawled over to me, book in one hand. I think she was saying "Read to me, mommy!"


December 31, 2006

I had a birthday this weekend, so we traveled a few hours to my in-laws house, and my mother-in-law, dad-in-law, and mother all watched Anastasia for about 4 1/2 hours while hubby and I went on a date. Wow. It was soooooo nice. I haven't been out with my husband for any length of time since Anastasia came home. And very rarely when she was in the NICU. And certainly not after my water broke in July of 2005. It was wonderful to get out like a normal person again!

Anastasia had an exhausting - but wonderful - time with her grandparents, too. I'm sure they doted on her constantly.  The only negative was that she hardly ate...but I'd resigned myself to the fact that she'd probably do that.

When we returned to my in-law's house, we all had dinner and a little cake, and my husband and my father-in-law took some photographs. Anastasia appeared confused and bewildered that they were taking photos - but not necessarily of her. (Oh my! We joke that Anastasia is the most photographed child of her age...)

Anastasia fell asleep on the way home, about an hour before she normally would, and slept until 8 am this morning. That must be a record!