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May 2006


May 1, 2006

My husband is well again, and we're all together in one room at last! Much better! I had, apparently, food poisoning on Saturday...as if I was celebrating an anniversary. (We had food poisoning last April, and this was how we discovered I was pregnant. My husband vomited once, and I kept on vomiting and vomiting!) I'm all better now.

I stopped taking Reglan yesterday and switched back to Fenugreek, in order to increase my milk supply. I feel better already, and so far the Fenugreek hasn't bothered Anastasia. (I think because she's getting so little milk in proportion to formula.)

Anastasia's eating like a wonderful little piggie: anywhere from 30 to 36 ounces a day. (36 oz. is almost a Big Gulp!) She's been waking up once or twice each night, and getting up early, just starving.   Her physical therapy is going pretty well. I can see small improvements already. And this morning, she did about 25 minutes of tummy time and hardly cried at all. Thank goodness for that, because it's hard on mom and dad when she sobs pathetically the whole time.


May 3, 2006

I think my milk supply is going to dry up completely. Taking just Fenugreek (which back in the NICU days worked great), I'm getting about 75 ccs per day. That's only  2 1/2 oz. Last night, I thought very seriously about going back on the Reglan prescription, but decided I just couldn't do it. It messes too much with my mind. So, this morning, I started taking Blessed Thistle in addition to the Fenugreek. If that doesn't help, I'm sure I'll dry up within a few days.

Funny how I've been looking forward to an end to pumping, but now, when faced with it, am depressed I can't continue to pump. (That's the kind of thing that would drive my husband to roll his eyes and say something about "women.")

With only a week of physical therapy exercises under her belt, I can see progress in Anastasia. She's discovered her feet are good play things. When she "stands up" in our laps, she's less likely to stand only on her right foot. When she kicks in order to bounce herself in her bouncy seat, she uses both feet, instead of just her right foot. She sometimes pitches herself forward in the bouncy seat, or ends up leaning over to one side and refuses to sit upright, enjoying the lopsided view. All good signs that her muscles are getting stronger.

She still hates the exercises, though. She's most tolerant of them in the first morning session, and I've found that generally she's less apt to cry through the entire half hour if I sing opera or other high-voiced songs to her. Go figure!

I hate our schedule now, and I'm sure Anastasia doesn't much like it, either. For example, if she wakes at 8am, I feed her right away, then put her up in the bouncy seat for 20 minutes, so she's less likely to vomit (due to her reflux). I pump during those 20 minutes. Then I place her in the crib to play perhaps five minutes while I put the milk away. I give Anastasia her reflux medicine (and make her laugh when I tell her to stop spitting it out). Then it's time to do exercises for at least a half hour. Then it's nap time. And then we start all over again. It means there's almost no time for Anastasia to have fun or veg out on her own, no time to go outside and get some sunshine, no time to "talk" back and forth with mommy, no time to just stare into each other's faces. Therefore, yesterday I announced to my hubby that I'm hereby doing only three therapy sessions per day, instead of four. I'll discuss this with the physical therapist next Tuesday, but I can't imagine it's good for Anastasia to not have some fun time. It's also hard on mom, since the only time I spend with her is either to struggle to feed her, or to make her cry with exercises.

Anastasia was eating extremely well, but in true Anastasia fashion, is now eating not quite enough. I know she goes through phases of this, and I try not to stress over it, but it can be frustrating to try to get her to eat "just a little bit more" after she's sucked down an ounce and then wants no more.

So, in general, I'm tired and grumpy and wondering when things are going to start feeling normal.

Using the head support I recently bought her. It doesn't prevent her from turning her head, but it does keep it from drooping over one shoulder quite so badly.

Even though she likes carrots, most of her food ends up outside her tummy!

Tummy time with her Boppy and a good book...Soon, she'll be crying her eyes out.


May 5, 2006

Well, today I'm packing up the breast pump. I've run out of milk. Today will be the first in 266 days that I haven't used the darn thing. I've already washed the pumping parts for the last time, and thrown away a big bag of the containers the hospital gave me to store milk in. I'm a little sad I lost the battle, but glad that I made it 9 out of the 12 months I hoped to pump. And oh yeah, I've already eaten some chocolate. Going without for five months has got to be a record of some kind.

I did some figuring this morning, and the number of hours I've spent pumping far outshines the amount of time my husband and I spent scrubbing in at the hospital (26.6 hours each, not counting scrubs after cafeteria and bathroom runs). I've pumped for at least 532 hours. Wow! That's a lot of my life! And that doesn't include all the time spent washing and sterilizing pumping parts.

I do still have a small amount of breast milk in the freezer, and if I use it in small quantities, it doesn't seem to upset Anastasia's tummy. (It's from back in the days when I was still eating dairy.) Anastasia is eating poorly again, but I weighed her this morning and she was 14 lbs. 3 oz., so she is gaining.

It's weird, but when I'm tired, I still look for her wires.


May 6, 2006

Anastasia had a rough day yesterday. For some reason, she woke up tired, so by the time we did her first round of physical therapy exercises, she was crying and falling asleep sitting in her Boppy. That's really something, because Anastasia never falls asleep anywhere but her swing or bouncy seat.

The other two exercise sessions for the day were horrible. She screamed and cried like her heart was breaking - even more than usual. And I was crying right along with her.

She visited with her grandpa (my dad-in-law), and enjoyed that part of the day at least, and then it was nap time. I stuck her in the swing, which is unfortunately the only place she'll take a nap. I know, I know. Bad parenting. My only excuse is that when we first brought her home, she would fall asleep right after eating. And she has to sit upright after eating, due to her reflux. And I had to pump. So into the swing she usually went. Then, before I knew it, it was the only place she'd nap.

Well, all seemed to be going well until I looked up and noticed her swing was not swinging and Anastasia's eyes were wide open. I tried changing the batteries, but still...no swinging.

Yes, the most-dreaded thing had happened: Her swing (i.e. Mother's Best Friend, or "MBF") was broken!

I'd been putting off training Anastasia to nap in her crib because I figured the PT exercises were stressful enough for her right now - she didn't need something else that was new. But given the situation, I laid her down and hoped for the best. She cried and cried. So I picked her up and rocked her. And she cried and screamed. Eventually....eventually...she wore herself out and fell asleep in my arms. I laid her in the crib and she actually slept there...but only for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, my husband took apart her swing and found a broken spring. He fashioned a new spring with his own hands, fixing "MBF." At least for the time being. I'm thankful. Anastasia spends too much time crying as it is (due to her PT exercises). I didn't want her crying more.

On a happier note, Anastasia ate squash yesterday and actually seemed to enjoy it. I don't know how it ended up on her socks.

Yesterday, my husband had his doctor peek down his throat with a camera. Hubby does have reflux (NERD, it's called), but it's controlled enough with the Prilosec that any damage that was caused to his esophagus has healed. He'll be on Prilosec forever. The doctor said that if the pain in his throat comes back, to be sure to come in (but he doesn't expect that to happen).

And, oh yes, I packed up my pump and all it's parts yesterday. I'm torn between burning the thing and tucking it safely away in the closet - just in case. (Although my husband tells me there will never be a "just in case.")


May 8, 2006

Anastasia did better at her physical therapy appointment today. She didn't cry the entire time (although she did cry a lot), and the physical therapist really noticed an improvement in her muscles. She gave us a few more exercises to do, including one that will work the muscles around Anastasia's spine. I'd recently noticed that her spine seemed to be protruding, but the PT assures me this is just muscle weakness and can be corrected.

I also got permission to break up Anastasia's tummy time into smaller segments. This is going to be a life saver for us, if I can swing it, because Anastasia will tolerate between 5 to 15 minutes of tummy time without crying. So I can give her tummy time until she gets inconsolable, take a break, and then do some more. Great news. :)

Anastasia and her daddy.


May 10, 2006

A few days ago, I got the call that RSV season is officially over in our neck of the woods. That means no more shots! At least until fall, when we hope our insurance company will continue to cover them. (We could never afford to get them without insurance; they're over $1,000 a shot.)

Anastasia's therapy seems to be going a bit better. I haven't been able to break up her tummy time into shorter time periods; her schedule is just too tight. Nonetheless, in the mornings (when she generally tolerates the exercises better) she typically does 15 minutes of tummy time without complaining at all. I've also started using a foam wedge instead of a Boppy for tummy time, and it not only seems to work better (her hands can reach the floor more easily) but Anastasia seems to find it more comfortable.

I think the physical therapy also seems easier because the effects of the Reglan I was taking have worn off. I didn't realize just how much that drug was affecting my outlook! I'm a lot less stressed now. I've also forgiven myself for not pumping any more, and am really enjoying not being attached to a machine throughout the day. What a relief!

Anastasia has been sleeping through the night, which is sort of nice, even though she wakes up an hour earlier. I get the same amount of sleep, but now it's uninterrupted. But sleeping through the night also means missing one feeding, so her total ounces at the end of the day have been what I'd call borderline. She is eating solids at least once a day now. We are making progress there, too; even though she won't open her mouth for the spoon, and even though it takes forever for her to swallow, she is swallowing some, and not spitting everything out. Yesterday, when she did some tummy time, she spit up a little, and there was no doubt it was sweet potato, not formula!


May 12, 2006

Wow. In exactly three months, we will be celebrating Anastasia's first birthday. That's unbelievable to me. Has nearly a year already passed? Of course, the one year mark will be a little different from your average; Anastasia was born so early, she'll actually be behaving like a 9 month old on her first birthday.

But a smart little girl she is. Two days ago, she started rolling over whenever I put her on her tummy. She turns over and grins and grins, pleased that she's solved her life's greatest problem: tummy time. And then I praise her and clap for her...and put her right back on her tummy. And then she rolls over again, and I praise her and put her back on her tummy...She's been doing this every day now, which is fine, because it's good exercise. But she does get a bit miffed at me after a while.

P.S. Have I mentioned how good I feel now that I'm off Reglan??? I just didn't realize how much the stuff was affecting my outlook! The difference is amazing.


May 13, 2006

Just a quick note today to mention that Anastasia fell asleep last night, with no aids. She was laying in our bed, between us, soaking up some end-of-the-day attention, and as hubby and I talked, she fell asleep. And I was able to transfer her to her co-sleeper without waking her. Score one!


May 13 (part II)

We're having all kinds of good firsts today! Anastasia ate oatmeal (the kind for babies) for the first time today, and actually seemed to enjoy it. She even tried to eat the "left overs" on her bib.  I'd say she liked it better than her veggies. Then, she fell asleep in her crib. Well, actually, she fell asleep during tummy time, and I transferred her to her crib. She woke up, but soon fell back to sleep. Goodie for Anastasia!


May 15, 2006

Thank you, everyone, for the Mother's Day wishes :)

We had a good one, traveling about two hours to visit with my in-laws. It's the first time in a long time we've been able to visit with them at any length. It was also the first time Anastasia has really been away from home, except to visit the doctor. We also had the largest crowd assembled that she's ever seen, and she met her youngest cousins and one of her aunts and uncles for the first time. She was all eyes, taking everything in and not wanting to eat or sleep. Everyone kept saying what a good baby she was. (She's not a crier, unless she's really exhausted - or you want her to do tummy time!) She slept part of the way home, and once we were in the house, started babbling and smiling non-stop (no doubt, telling us about her exciting day). Then she crashed.


May 16, 2006

Anastasia had a "well baby checkup" yesterday, punctuated by the nurses giving us literature on 9 month olds, and me reminding them to chart Anastasia's weight on the 5 month old chart. According to her corrected age, she's still in the 50% percentile, although her head is in the 60% percentile.

The doctor suggested we start using a sippy cup, which made me wonder if she was accidentally looking at her notes for a 9 month old. A sippy cup? Anastasia isn't even holding her own bottle yet. She's still trying to master the art of eating oatmeal. I think a sippy cup might be a bit advanced yet.

The only bad part of the visit was when they drew some blood for a lead test (standard, I guess, if you live in an older house). This was the first time Anastasia's blood had been drawn not from her heel, but from her arm. The first try was unsuccessful, so they brought in another nurse, who managed to get all the blood they needed with the second try. Anastasia cried, but mostly from being restrained, not from the prick of the needle. It was especially offensive to her that the nurses chose to draw blood from the same arm that held the hand she was sucking on.

The doctor also sent us home with a prescription for fluoride. Who knew this was standard practice these days?


May 17, 2006

Well, there are a lot of strong opinions about sippy cups out there! Quite a few of you wrote to tell me not to dismiss the idea of a cup - that you'd had success using one with very young babies. I certainly will try the sippy cup idea, but...Anastasia still uses a preemie nipple, because a regular nipple is too hard for her to suck on. Most days, I'm lucky to get 23 oz. down her (6 oz. less than what she's supposed to have). She also still has an overactive gag reflex, due to having tubes down her throat in the NICU; she easily gags on both her bottle and a baby spoon...So it's tough to imagine that a sippy cup is right for Anastasia just yet. But, you're right; you never know.

I also did a little research on fluoride yesterday. The American Pediatric Society says not to use it until 6 months of age, and then to use caution, since damage to the teeth will occur if the baby is exposed to too much fluoride. Even though it's probably fine to start now, I'll wait until Anastasia hits the 6 month corrected mark to give her the fluoride drops.

Today, the county nurse visited to assess Anastasia's development. She pronounced Anastasia a little more than a month behind in her fine motor skills. This isn't news to us, but it's always good to get another opinion. Specifically, the nurse saw that anything requiring a stronger trunk or a looser neck was where Anastasia lagged behind. These are exactly the things we're working on with physical therapy. Otherwise, though, Anastasia is right on target for her corrected age.

By the way, I forgot to mention that Anastasia now weighs 14 lbs. 13 1/2 oz., and that her blood work already came back; it is normal.


May 20, 2006

Anastasia is doing quite well. She's making progress with her physical therapy, and tends to cry less while we do it. In particular, she can now sit with her Boppy pillow in front of her, without falling over (as she used to).

And while her ounces of formula are not anything to get excited about, she's now eating 100% formula; because it's mixed a bit thicker than average, this means she's getting more calories than she was when she was also getting some breast milk. In addition, her eating is finally improving. She now gets more solids in her tummy than she does on her bib.


May 22, 2006

Yesterday, Anastasia sat up on her own for the first time. She was sitting in her daddy's lap, with his hands partially supporting her, when she decided to put her arms in front of her and sit on her own. It only lasted a few seconds, but we were so pleased.

I also think Anastasia is beginning to teeth. She's chewing on everything, and I think I can feel one tooth beginning to come up through her gums. Her favorite teething toy is my finger.

Speaking of toys, we suddenly realized that all of Anastasia's toys were for infants, and that she needed to be challenged a bit more. So I bought four toys for children 6 months and older. They're quite advanced for Anastasia - but that's okay! It will be a while before she figures out how to play with the stacker and the shape sorter, for example, but the stimulation of figuring it out will be great for her. I also got a pop-up toy and a steering wheel toy, hoping the music, popping, and bright lights would distract Anastasia during tummy time. So far, so good; this morning we did a half hour of tummy time with no crying!

I'm sure Anastasia will make up for that this afternoon, when she sees the physical therapist. She always cries the hardest when the PT helps with her exercises.

Oh, and look what I found on my hubby's camera: a photo showing Anastasia's first diaper (which was huge on her) compared to the diapers she wears today.


May 22 (part II)

The physical therapist was very pleased with Anastasia's session today, saying she'd made lots of progress since her last appointment two weeks ago. Anastasia showed off how she can sit, and the therapist did exercises to encourage learning to crawl.

Here we are, working hard in the therapy room:


May 23, 2006

For those who are curious what physical therapy is like, I've posted a short clip of one part of yesterday's session. It's toward the beginning, so you don't even have to suffer through much crying.


May 26, 2006

My dad just left after a short visit with us. His last visit was three months ago (he lives out of state), which made comparisons between then and now irresistible. Other than the fact that Anastasia is about 3 lbs. bigger, the most obvious change is that she's apnea monitor-free. My dad wanted to try to feed her at his last visit, but because Anastasia might still have the tendency to not breathe well, he didn't. This time, he tried. "You don't have to worry about her turning blue now," I said. He didn't have any luck feeding her because she's tends to only want to be fed by me, but it was fun for dad to try.

Another clear change is that Anastasia is a lot more aware now, and tries to hold conversations. When she's around people she's not used to, she tends to be very observant and quiet, but on my dad's last day here, she opened up a bit and spent a good afternoon babbling.

We also got some great photos of her - mostly because we discovered a way to make her get over the "oh that camera again" doldrums and make her smile. Anastasia was coughing a lot through the whole visit, but the coughs sounded fake. Teasing her, I imitated her fake cough, and suddenly she was laughing and smiling. I did it again, and she smiled and laughed again. Then everyone in the room tried it, and it still worked. "Quick! Grab the camera!" I said. 


May 28, 2006

We've been trying to get Anastasia used to the high chair, but she's still pretty small for it and tends to lean to one side. The straps are the shortest they can go, but they droop on her. Still, from time to time, it's probably good practice to put her in it.

She's still eating erratically. Once in a blue moon she eats well, but a lot of times her bottle feeding is only fair. She's become very dependant on me feeding her; even her daddy has a really tough time any more. She's eating oatmeal like a champ, though, even though the feeding clinic really didn't want me to give it to her (in part because it's not all that nutritious). She's also taken a sudden liking to peas, mashed with a fork and mixed with a little formula. She's up to eating solids three times a day, and it must be working because she looks great! Hopefully her next weigh-in will show a weight gain.

Sippy cup experiments have not gone well. It's tough to find sippy cups that don't require a hard suck, and the ones that flow more freely tend to make Anastasia choke.

Now that Anastasia is 6 months corrected, I tried once to give her fluoride in the sippy cup (along with some water). She promptly vomited. I tasted the stuff and can see why; although it's sweet at first, it has a bitter after-taste. I'll be trying again soon, but if she doesn't tolerate it, I'm not worried. She'll do fine without the stuff.

I'm still waiting to hear from Early Intervention about getting a physical therapist to the house. It's been well over a month. I called two Fridays ago, and had to leave a message. No one called back, so I called again this past Monday. Apparently, nobody will be in the office until after Memorial Day. I'd say Early Intervention is pretty late!


May 31, 2006

Early Intervention called back yesterday. The conversation went something like this:

EI: I'm unsure what you're following up on. According to our records, we're waiting to do a second by-phone screening next month, to see if Anastasia qualifies for our services.

Me: Yes, we were going to do that. But then Anastasia saw a physical therapist, who determined she needed therapy. You sent me a form to sign to release those medical records, and I returned it over a month ago. Supposedly that was all that was needed for her to qualify?

EI: Oh. I have no record of that. Let me look into it and call you back.

To her credit, the (very nice and apologetic) gal from EI called back within an hour.

EI: Okay, we have her records, but there's nothing from the physical therapist that is detailed enough for us.

Me: I have a report from the physical therapist in my hand that is very detailed, giving exact numbers for muscle weaknesses and strengths.

EI: Well, we'll need to send out our own person to do an evaluation, anyway. Don't expect her to call you before a week has passed.

Me: Anastasia has already been evaluated by both the county nurse and the children's developmental clinic. That's not enough?

EI: No because [insert mumbo jumbo here]...But hang in there because once we get all this done, our services are free!

Me: Actually, I've paid for the services with my taxes. [Sigh.]

What a long, drawn out, red-taped, disorganized process! I'm grateful we have good insurance and access to our own physical therapist, or Anastasia might be way behind!