Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 In Review

The first sentence from the first post of each month (minus any memey ones):

This was a big night in the butt-shot department.

I don't know if they'd want me to go into the details, but we've got some friends who could use your good thoughts, positive energy, prayers and/or healthy-baby mojo, whatever you've got to offer.
(Note: He was born in March(?) at 35 weeks, and last I heard, he was doing just great.)

That "grow, follie, grow" mojo of yours seems to have worked - and almost worked a little too well.

One heartbeat.

I am now ten weeks and a couple of days pregnant, and Peeper is officially a fetus!

This afternoon, we took the pups to a "Furry Fun Day" in a neighboring town, which was sponsored by a local therapy dog group.

Shrike and I had the following conversation on the phone earlier today:

Today is Shrike's nephew's birthday (he's 11) so we went out to dinner with her family, then over to her parents' house for gifts and cake.

When I eat at my desk (which accounts for the majority of my meals), the rule is that MamaCat gets first dibs at licking the bowl, then BigGaloot can have whatever she leaves behind.

I considered using the photo below for a "Wordless Wednesday" post, but the words are required, in order to get the full effect:

I'll write more later, but the short version of the story is that Peeper was discharged from the hospital this afternoon (technically yesterday - Saturday - afternoon) and we got home around 4 pm .

Shortly after Peeper was born, Jenni (one of our readers) nominated her to win a beautiful Christmas blanket from Fill In The Blankie, being given away by Iowa Geek.

Daily Peep: Grandma's Sweetheart

Y0u can't tell in the photo, but that's what her onsie says.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Daily Peep: Goody* Girl

How I spent my Xmas vacation.

But I'm certainly not going to complain about that!!!

*Goody = nursing / breastmilk / breasts
(™ LadyKay's Kiddos)

Let It Snow

This cute little Christmas decoration is at LadyKay's house. Check out the singing marshmallows!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Texas Update

Sorry for the sparse posts, but we're staying pretty busy with our visiting, here in Texas.

Well, today was actually fairly quiet, although Shrike, Peeper and I did make a run to the mall and Target to do some exchanging and to pick up a few things that we needed.

As we got to the mall, we walked in the door the same time as another couple with a baby in a stroller.

I was wearing Peeper in the wrap that we bought from DoulaK, and the dad said something to me about how much he liked it.

I said, "I can tell you the website where I got it," and he said, "Really?!"

So, I did, and then we complimented each others babies, compared ages and weights (she's two weeks older, was about a pound bigger at birth and is now about four pounds bigger, and was a week early) and then continued to stand there talking to them for about twenty minutes, about all things baby-related.

The mom and I were trading birth stories, while Shrike and the dad were talking about, well, I don't know, because I was too busy with my own conversation.

The funny thing is that they were probably in their early twenties, heterosexual and Hispanic. On the surface, we probably couldn't be much more different, and eleven months ago or so, we probably had very little in common.

Today, though, they were our new best friends!

Seriously, if this had happened back home, we probably would've exchanged email addresses and scheduled a playdate.

In other news, Anonydaddy and his brother (Anonyuncle?) seem to have conspired to "gift"Anonymama with a cat.

My uncle is currently bouncing between the homes of a few different friends, since his home and medical practice took a beating in Hurricane Ike.

After the storm, he found a white cat (who is, like many white cats, deaf) wandering his neighborhood and took it in.

He brought it along with him when he came to visit, and by the time he left this morning, it was arranged that the cat would stay here "for a while."

He has an appointment next week for vaccinations, declawing and neutering.

There's much more to tell, but I'm sitting her dozing off, so I suppose I should get Peeper's medicine, probably nurse her a bit, to get rid of the taste, and then get us both in bed.

Daily Peep: Me (and Mommy)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Daily Peep: Mommy and Me

Peeper and Shrike, in Texas

Peeper and Mommy

Checking in from Texas

As you may have surmised from yesterday's photo of Peeper and Anonymama, we made it to Texas in one piece (well, technically, three pieces) yesterday.

The flight went pretty well, and Peeper handled it like a champ. I had her suck on my finger for take-off and landing, and her little ears seemed to be fine.

She slept in the carseat until, oh, thirty minutes or so into the flight, then started fussing around.

We did one diaper change in the airplane potty (plus one in the airport before we boarded and another as soon as we got on the ground) and did a bit of nursing both in the airport and on the plane, but she wasn't interested in sticking with that very well, maybe five minutes each time.

When we arrived in Houston, LadyKay picked us up, and we stopped at a nearby Sonic, where all four of us ate in the car.

We had to make another stop about thirty minutes from Anonymama and Anonydaddy's house for another poopy diaper and some more nursing.

She did just fine in the car, and has done pretty well here, when there weren't too many distractions and her little tummy wasn't hurting.

She was fairly fussy last night, but seems to be a lot more combobulated today.

(That's really not a word, is it?)

At the moment, Shrike is napping, and Peeper is napping in Anonygrandma's lap, while she and Anonydaddy visit with my uncle (Anonydaddy's older brother).

We're waiting for LadyKay and her kiddos, and BabyBro and HisLovelyWife to arrive (in the next couple of hours), then we'll have our traditional (fake) Christmas Eve dinner of tamales and then open gifts.

Photos to come, I'm sure.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Daily Peep: Merry Christmas

These are the gifts we opened this morning, from Santa and each other.

Peeper's Gifts
Mommy & Mama's Gifts

First Christmas

Dear Peeper -
Today is your first Christmas.

You are 8 weeks 3 days old, or 4 weeks 2 days, adjusted. Your adjusted age is also one month today, and you will be two months old in two days.

You've continued to grow and develop by leaps and bounds since my last letter.

You are now just absolutely, totally, for-reals, breastfeeding - no bottles, no nipple shield, just you and me, kiddo.

I'm still pumping some, but only for my own comfort when you don't eat as much as my breasts seem to think you should.

I must admit that I went into this rather smugly assuming that we would have no problems, everything would work great for us, I knew all about this stuff and surely my baby would be a champion eater.

Gah. I could not have been more wrong.

I was also very judgemental of women who either never attempted to breastfeed, or who "tried it" and quit as soon as things didn't go as easily as they had hoped.

Okay, I still think it's the best thing a woman can do for her baby, and that everyone should at least give it the old college try, but I can totally understand why many women give up.

It's amazing that something so natural, and that ought to be so simple, can be so complicated and so hard.

As determined (and hard-headed) as I was to make this work or us, there were days, and one in particular, when I thought you'd never get it, and I thought, "There is no way I can do this (pumping) for a year."

(Note: Don't worry, I plan to nurse you for more than a year. But, had we been doing the pump/bottle thing, I might have moved you to cow's milk when it was okay. The goody, you can have as long as you want.)

Of all the issues that you've had and all the concerns we've had about you, I think the one that's taken, by far, the biggest emotional toll on me has been the breastfeeding.

It's also the one that's made the biggest difference, day-to-day, as it's been resolved, and I think that it is your - and my - greatest accomplishment of your little life, so far.

It's still not easy - I still have to obsess over it, and I still think and calculate constantly about when you ate last, and when you're likely to be hungry again, and how full or uncomfortable I'll be by then, and when I can nurse you and where and will it be quiet and calm enough for you to settle in and get to it, and will it look like I'm "running away" or "hiding" when I go looking for that quite, calm place, and am I caving in to the "can't you do that in the ladies' room?" crowd by being just as glad that we need to go that place for now?

(Neither of us is yet quite the lactivist that I'd like to be. Yet.)

But that is so infinitely better than looking for a place to pump every couple of hours.


And, you are growing - essentially an ounce a day, since you've been exclusively breastfeeding - which means that we must be doing something right.

I know that you're just now getting to be the size of most newborns (you're now bigger than either of your girl cousins was at birth - and more than a pound bigger than Mommy was at birth!) but you seem so big, compared to where you started.

You're begining to have some weight to you when I pick you up, and you are looking so "mature" - like a baby, rather than a newborn or a preemie.

I can't tell you how relieved we are to know that your tyrosine level is down, and that you do not have a metabolic disease.

On the other hand, I also can't tell you how terrified we are at the prospect of you possibly needing open-heart surgery in a couple of months.

I know they say that VSD repair has become "routine" and that they do it all the time, but you know what, it would be the first time it's happened to our baby, so that's only marginally reassuring .

We've done a lot of talking about this stuff - asking why you've had some many health concerns, and why we've had a kid with so many health concerns.

Just like we have to believe that you came early for a reason (top theory: your funky placenta and cord didn't have another month in them, or the amniotic sac rupture might not have gone well later), we have to believe that there's a reason that you - and we - are going through all this now.

You know, they say that "God doesn't give you anything you can't handle," but I don't believe that at all. Look around and you'll see tons of people clearly not handling what they've been given by God, fate, the universe, chance or whatever.

However, I do think there's some truth to that other platitude that's often trotted out to comfort those going through tough times, that "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger."

I think that we will all be stronger for having gone through this rough start with you.

We've already had to really step up and start growing into our roles as parents, and I think we'll be better parents for you because of it.

The scares you've given us, and the other, much sicker, kids we've seen remind us how lucky we are to have you, and that you are as healthy as you are. I don't think we can ever take that for granted.

I feel like these experiences - all the doctor's visits, the tests, the medications, the worrying - have helped to forge and strengthen the bonds that will hold our little family together, and we will be a stronger family for them.

And you. You have been a little trouble-maker for months, scaring us and then being just fine, over and over.

(Feel free to continue that pattern with this heart thing. Another big never-mind would be great.)

But it's not all been tricks. You have had to overcome alot of real stuff as well.

Hell, it was quite a feat for you to even be conceived, and then your challenges began in utero, with the single umbilical artery and the velamentous cord insertion and whatever reason(s) you've always been small for your age, and then the difficulties from coming early and being so little when you got here, and all the issues stemming from that and, of course, the heart thing.

I really believe these things will make you a stronger person. Or maybe they already have.

Ove the past two months, so many people have told us us that you are "a little fighter" and that you are "very special" and that "there's a reason [you're] here."

Of course, you're very special to us, and you will be no matter what, and the first reason you are here is for us to love, but I tend to think that they are right, that you've got big plans for your life, or that the universe has big plans for you.

Maybe that's just what every parent wants to believe for their child, but I think I really do believe it, and if that gives me the strength to get through the next few months of uncertainty and fear, then I'll keep on believing it.

What I have absolutely no doubt about, though, is how much your Mommy and I both love you, and how much you have changed our lives, and changed us, for the better in just this short time that you've been here so far, and how much we look forward to the living the rest of our lives your parents.

We love you so much, and we hope that we can some how make you know that.

Merry Christmas, little one.


PS - I'm sure Santa will do a much better job in the future. He was very tired this year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cardiologist's Report

Peeper saw the cardiologist again today (at yet another of his satellite offices; I think we've been to all of them now) and had another echocardiogram.

We were hoping to see some shrinking of the hole in her heart, but he said that there's been no significant change.

We have a regular check-up with him in two weeks, and at the appointment two weeks after that, he'll do another echo.

If he's still not seeing any restriction of the hole, he will send a tape of the echo to the surgeon for his opinion.

If that's the case, we would probably be looking at a surgical repair in March or April.

When I pressed him to tell us what he thinks is most likely to happen, he put the odds of her needing surgery at 50%.

Which, I suppose, is rather a non-answer, but sounds much more professional and doctorly than, "Fuck if I know," which is probably what he was thinking.

But, six weeks ago, he told us that 80% of ventricular septal defects completely close on their own, and others shrink to the point of having no impact,

Given that, her odds of surgery seemed to be about 10% at that point, so I'm thinking that the fact that we've not seen any improvement yet is not particularly encouraging.

Yesterday, the pediatrician told us that some VSDs can be repaired just using a catheter, but that Peeper's is in a bad position for that, so her repair would require open-heart surgery.

At four to five months old.

Yeah. I know.

The doctor tells us that this is the most common congenital heart defect and the surgery is almost routine and that the risk is comparable to an adult having their gallbladder removed, but still.

Even if we had a 100% positive guarantee that nothing could possibly go wrong, they are still talking about cutting open our child's heart.

How can that possibly be an okay thing to do to anyone, let alone someone so tiny?

We are, of course, hoping to see some change in a month, and hoping to avoid the surgery, but realize that it's just as likely that it will happen.

As always, your heart-healing mojo is greatly appreciated.

Daily Peep: Reindeer Games

As you can see, this outfit is way too big on Peeper and, sadly, I don't see that changing much before Sunday, when we attend the last of our Christmas celebrations.

But it's just so damn cute.

She can be a reindeer in February, right?

Catching Up

Some more photos that we've taken over the past few days.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Daily Peep: Poor Baby

Did I mention that her check-up included vaccinations? Three shots, plus one oral vaccine.

Whew! Hoo!

Peeper's blood work is back, and her tyrosine level is almost down to normal!

The normal range is 20 - 102 (no idea what the units are). When she was 11 days old, hers was 700-something; this time it was 192!

So, she definitely just had the transient neonatal tyrosinemia, and definitely does not have a genetic metabolic disease of any sort!

They do need to see it actually in the normal range before they can give her the official "all clear" though, so they want us to go back in March to have it checked again.

That's the same time frame for looking at surgically repairing the heart defect if it's not resolving on it's own.

Let's hope things will be uneventful for the next couple of months, and both issues will resolve themselves by that point, then we can just get on with our lives.

Seven Pounds

No, not the new Will Smith flick - Peeper!

Actually, she weighed seven pounds, one ounce at her two-month check-up this morning!

That's a gain of 6.5 ounces over the past seven days, and 13.5 ounces over the past thirteen days.

She's been breastfeeding exclusively during that time; she hasn't had a bottle in a bit over two weeks.

We also haven't used the nipple shield since we got back from our medical travels last week - either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning was the last time.

I'm not even writing down when or how long she eats any more, just going with the flow, so to speak.

So, despite everything we've been through, especially over the first six weeks or so, it seems that we have us a little nursing baby on our hands. Finally.

The rest of her appointment went well, too. She's gained two inches of height and 1.75 inches of head circumference since birth, and the doctor said she looks great, all around.

She got three shots and an oral vaccine, so she might feel yucky today, but we've got a dose of Acetaminophen in her already, in hope of heading that off.

The doctor did give her a prescription for Vitamin D, which he said is a standard recommendation for breastfed babies.

Now, it would seem to be that Mother Nature knows what she's doing, and if breastmilk doesn't have much Vitamin D in it, it's probably because babies don't need much Vitamin D, but I figure it's not going to hurt her, so we'll just go with it.

The insurance company's Very Special Pharmacy just called to say that they've approved her for the Synagis (RSV Vaccine), which costs about $1500, so that's a big deal. We'll just have a $30 copay!

They think they can get it to the doctor by tomorrow, so I'm really hoping they can give it to her tomorrow (assuming they'll be closed Wednesday and Thursday) so it's on board before we go to Texas.

It might not help with the germs she meets on the flight down, but maybe she'll have some protection before the shower on January 3 and the flight home on January 5.

We're still waiting to hear back about her blood work (hopefully within the next few hours) and we're hoping the cardiologist will do another echo tomorrow, and we'll get some good news there, too.

Fingers crossed. . . .

Update 1:40 pm: We've got an appointment for Peeper to get the Synagis at 10 am on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Holidays from Our Family to Yours

Daily Peep: Gender Bending

This hat and this outfit were two of the first things we bought for Peeper, after we found out that I was pregnant.

I really like the outfit, but since it seemed so boyish, I decided to throw the pink "dippin' dots" hat on her head, so everyone would know that she's a girl.

Of course, later, we went out with her dressed in her reindeer-feet outfit and Santa hat and they all thought she was a boy anyway.

Oh well.

At least no one thought I was her grandmother.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Daily Peep: Progress?

LiPA says that Peeper probably needs to be about eight pounds before the cloth diapers will start fitting, but I gave one a try this evening.

I even went so far as to put her clothes back on over it, and leave it on until she peed it.

That took about two minutes.

The good news, though, is that they no longer make her look like Ghandi.

Now she just looks, um, pregnant?

Would You Believe. . .

The Children's Hospital called today to tell me that they don't have Peeper's test results yet because, "the lab is having trouble with one of their gadgets."

So, evidently, her electronics-disabling super-powers reside in her blood.

DoulaK said, "I'm telling you, I have truly never seen anyone have such an impact on any medical treatment, test, or equipment. I think you should get used to it, I have a feeling you will see this behavior follow her for quite some time."

I'm a bit concerned about the SAT.

She does not seem to test well.

At any rate, the nurse said that they expect to have the blood test results on Monday, and assured me that the delay really is because of lab equipment, and not related to Peeper at all.

(Except, of course, that we know it was her blood that broke the equipment.)

Also, when I asked, "But if there were a problem, it would've shown up in the urine, right?" she said, "Most likely," which is, I'm sure, all she can commit to, because if she could be certain about something like that, we wouldn't have to run the labs, now would we?

So, again, we wait.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Daily Peep: Giddy-Up, Cowgirl!

Health Update

We've had a busy week here, doctor-wise.

On Monday, as I've already said, we got Peeper's weight checked and saw that she's still gaining nicely since she's been breastfeeding exclusively.

On Tuesday, we saw the metabolic specialist at the Children's Hospital in BigCity, and yesterday we saw the cardiologist in CapitalCity.

Monday evening, I was sitting around thinking about what a pain in the ass it was going to be to drive to CapitalCity on Tuesday morning, catch the train to BigCity, have the appointment, train back to CapitalCity and drive home - just to turn around and go back to CapitalCity the next morning for the other appointment.

Then, I had a brainstorm!

I was waiting for Peeper to allow me the use of both hands at the same time, so I could email Shrike about my idea, when the phone rang and it was her say, "Mom tells me that they're calling for nasty weather tomorrow. What should we do?"

"Well, it's funny you should ask. . . ."

So, we spent the night in CapitalCity, which worked out great, because the weather was mostly okay Tuesday morning on our way there, yucky that evening while we were safe and snug in a hotel, and fine yesterday on our way home.

To find the hotel, I went to the Amtrak website and searched for ones close to our station. I chose the one that was th best combination of close, cheap, and a chain that I recognized (Econolodge).

As luck would have it, it's about a block and half from the cardiologist's office . . . where we usually see him . . . but not where our appointment yesterday was.

Of course.

Yesterday, we were seeing him at the office that's twenty minutes down the road, farther from home.

The trip was stressful, but we managed. This time, we had to take a cab to the hospital, because it was cold and sleeting / snowing, so we really didn't want to make the eight-block walk with little Peeper.

(Although, for me, it might have still been better than making the same walk in decent weather, at eleven days post-partum!)

Peeper continues to pretty much shut down and go to sleep when out in public, which makes her fairly easy to travel with, but it's not so good for the eating.

I tried, a few times, to nurse her in fairly publicish, busyish places (the train, the train station) and she was really having none of it.

(Of course, she also seemed to be pooping at the time, which really interferes with her desire to settle down and eat, too.)

When we finished her appointment, we went to the lactation room (same one where I'd pumped three times during our last visit) and she was happy to nurse for thirty minutes, when it was nice and quiet and just the three of us.

She was also fine once we got to the hotel (several times, over the course of the evening/night/morning) and nursed great in the car after we finished with the cardiologist.

I took the pump along, and used it once in the wee hours of the morning, when I was awake and full, but she was asleep and, evidently, also full.

I also ducked into bathrooms to hand-express a few times, just enough to get some relief, especially after she's acted like she might nurse, got my milk all let-down and then quit and went to sleep.

("Fine," I told her, "if you don't want it, I'll just feed it to the choo-choo train!")

I suspect we'll have a similar experience when we fly to Texas next week.

(Next week!!!)

But, about the medical stuff . . . .

The metabolic doc still says that the most likely scenario, by far, is that Peeper just had "transient neonatal tyrosinemia" and we'll see that her tyrosine level has come down, and it will all be a big nevermind.

If it's gone up, it would mean she has Tyrosinemia Type II, which is a genetic metabolic disorder, and would have to be managed throughout her life.

If not controlled, tyrosine builds up in the corneas and causes eye problems, but it's (relatively) easily managed, with a low-protein diet.

For now, that would mean feeding her a special tyrosine-free formula, in addition to nursing. (Formula first, then breastmilk.)

I know that, in the grand scheme, that would be a very small part of the management of the disease, over the course of her life but, given all that we've been through to get her to the point that she's finally nursing (exclusively!) that would really add insult to injury and I think would have a very difficult time with it.

But, that's all very unlikely, because it's a very rare disease, and we're almost certainly going to find out that she's just fine.

They were hoping to get the lab results by the end of the day, and they should call us about it tomorrow. In fact, they said that if we don't hear from them by the end of the day tomorrow, we should call them.

Of course, no matter how reassuring the doctor was, I have still managed to get myself worked up into a state about it, and I won't relax until we've gotten an answer.

Of course, again, visiting the Children's Hospital, and seeing the kids and families whom they serve really helped to put things into perspective for us.

Even if Peeper does have Tyrosinemia Type II, it's something that's controllable, and something that's not incredibly awful even if it's not controlled, and there are much, much, much worse things that could be wrong with our kid.

One bright little moment from the visit there - We saw the same attending physician and fellow that we saw before, plus a nurse (who will be the one to call us with the lab results, I think).

Last time, both doctors told us how. . .

Breaking News:
The nurse from Children's Hospital just called. They don't have the blood back yet, but her urine is normal and "shows no tyrosine metabolites" which is a very good sign.

She said, "It looks like she had the transient," and when I asked if this is an indication that they would expect we'll see her blood tyrosine level down, she said, "Most likely."

She also said, "We usually don't call with the results in dribs and drabs, but knew you'd want to know about this. You can expect to hear back from me around this time tomorrow about the blood."

Of course, I still won't relax until we get the blood back, but that does make me feel a little better.

So, as I was saying . . . .

Last time, both doctors told us how beautiful Peeper is and such, and the attending probably said it three or four times before he even started examining her.

Of course, we think so, but we still always have to wonder if they say that to all the parents.

This time, though, as he was looking at her, he turned to the nurse (who was just meeting her for the first time) and said, "See what I mean? I told you she's adorable!"

Which means that he a> remembered how adorable she is from over a month ago and b> was talking about how adorable she is, before we arrived.

Aw, shucks.

Her appointment with the cardiologist yesterday went pretty well, too. He said that her breathing is better (not as rapid), but he did increase her medication again (but we knew that would happen over the first couple of months).

We told him that she seems a bit congested (a bit of snot in her nose, and her chest is a little rattley), but I seem to have (knock wood) fought off the cold that I was fearing last week, and it doesn't seem that she's gotten it either.

He didn't really seem concerned at all about any of that, which is good.

We'll see him on Tuesday, and again on January 7. He said that he'll probably do another echo at one of those visits, to see if the hole is starting to get any smaller yet.

It seemed to be iffy whether we can expect to see any changes yet at this point. Obviously, it's possible, or he wouldn't bother with the echo, but I got the impression that it's not necesarily a bad thing if it's not changed yet.

I did ask how long we wait for it to start shrinking before we have to look at surgical solutions, and he said that if he's seeing restriction by four months (end of February) that he'd "drag [his] feet on surgery" because he'd expect it to continue to close up more, but if there's no change (or no significant change?) by that point, then "we'll have to close it."

So, while the thought of her possibly having open-heart surgery within the next three months is
pretty terrifying, I was actually kind of relieved to hear that we're looking at a resolution (surgical or, hopefully, otherwise) within the next few months, rather than within the next few years.

Of course, we are hoping that the hole will close (or at least shrink) on its own, because we certainly don't want her to need surgery, but if it has to happen, I think we'd just as soon it all happen sooner rather than later, and then we'll be done with this.

Of course, at the moment, the #1 item on our Christmas Wish List is to get the all-clear on the metabolic stuff tomorrow.

Then, if we could see a good weight gain at her two-month (!) check-up on Monday, and have an echo on Tuesday, showing some shrinkage of the hole in her heart, that would just be the best gift imaginable.

(Of course, just having her is already the best gift imaginable!)

Once again, we sure would appreciate your thoughts, prayers, positive energy, good vibes, and normal-tyrosine-having-weight-gaining-heart-hole-closing-healthy-Peeper mojo, as we continue to deal with the questions and fears and uncertainty that seem to be the norm for this kid.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Daily Peep: That's My Baby. . .

. . . the one with the wrinkly pantyhose!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Shopping Trip

This morning, Shrike took the dogs on a long-overdue and well-deserved walk, while Peeper and I went to the doctor and Target on our own.

Of course, after her great weigh-in, I was feeling very confident in my parenting abilities, and ready to tackle anything.

I'd planned to wear her in Target, now that I've got the wrap more or less figured out, and she seems to be pretty happy in it (unless I try to stuff her in there when she's fully awake and in a mood to wiggle).

However, I probably should've heeded DoulaK's advice to put it on at home, and have it all ready to stick her in when I arrive at my destinayion, rather than doing the origami part in the parking lot.

As we shall see . . . .

When we arrived at Target it had been about an hour and a half since she'd nursed, so she probably wasn't really quite ready yet, but I knew she would be before we were done, she I changed her diaper and got her awake (that always works - and she always needs it anyway), and she nursed for a little while.

Then, I stuck her back in the carseat, while I got out of the car and did the origami thing and got all wrapped up.

I'm actually getting sort of good at it, except for the part where it gets tangled around my feet mid-way through the process, which I've not quite figured out how to avoid.

Then, I got back in the car and started to put her in.

From my wrap-training session:
DoulaK: It's better if you're sitting down when you put her in.
Whozat: So, when she falls out, she doesn't have as far to go?
DoulaK: Yeah, and a softer place to land.

(No, don't worry; she didn't fall!)

I got her little butt tucked into the pocket that she actually sits in, and that went quite smoothly (no complaints from the peanut gallery) but when I started to pull the other side over her, I realized that I'd criss-crossed it backwards, so that she was going to have to sit on my right side, not on my left, where I had her.

(She sits in whichever side is on bottom, and the top side goes over to secure her.)

But I didn't want her on my right side, because that just feels wrong, wrong, wrong.

So, (for some reason) rather than getting out of the car, taking it off and starting over, I untied it, unwrapped both ends from around my waist, untied it in back, pulled out the misplaced end, tucked it under the other one, and under itself, and around back, knot, back to the front, square knot, and - whew - done!

All while seated in the car.

Then, I finished getting her secured and we were ready to go.

She wasn't sitting quite as high as I really would've liked, but she wasn't going anywhere, and her little head wasn't bobbling, yet her face was uncovered enough to get fresh air (that's a bit of a trick) and that was good enough for me.

It was relatively warm today, so I just ditched my jacket (more on that in a bit) and tucked a blanket over her, grabbed the diaper bag, and we were off!

We ran into a friend (who was at the party yesterday) in the baby aisle and chatted with her for probably way longer than she wanted, then actually got a bit of shopping done.

Well, sort of.

We didn't find the diapers we wanted, (Don't know what we want, but we're not thrilled with either Pampers or Huggies in the newborn sizes.) but we did get a Christmas bib ("Dear Santa, I've been good. Mostly.) and a Baby's First Christmas outfit. In pink. Because she doesn't have one of those.

Also, a pair of wrist rattles, which will be from Santa.


(The bib and outfit may get wrapped up, too.)

I found one small thing for Shrike, and one thing for me.

For myself (or Shrike, sometimes) I bought a sweater-wrap, which I totally just stumbled upon, displayed right on the aisle.

(I usually don't even look at the grown-up clothes when I'm at Target!)

It's a lightweight sweater, but instead of fitting and buttoning up, it's got a ton of material that you just wrap around yourself. It's kind of like a poncho with arms, and open in front.

It's perfect for baby-wearing, and I'm thinking it will be very handy for nursing, as well.

I actually put it on and wore it out to the car when we left, and it fit right over her poerfectly!

I'm thinking that when it's colder, I'll put her in the wrap, throw a thick blanket over her, then put on the sweater-wrap over that. It's thin enough that I can probably wear my actual coat over it (unzipped) so I'll be nice and warm, too.

I didn't do as much shopping as I would've liked (was hoping to find more for Shrike) but it was a good test-run of wearing her out and about.

It went really well, and I'm definitely planning for that to be our standard operating procedure from now on.

Thanks, again, DoulaK!

Weight Check

We got Peeper's weight checked this morning, and she's now at 6 pounds 10.5 ounces, which is a gain of seven ounces in the past six days!!!

(I guess that's what the extra-fortified-with-Christmas-cookies-and-Hershey's-miniatures breast milk will do for you.)

The nurse showed the weight to the doctor, and told me that she was, "very impressed."

Please tell me that I'm not the only one who takes this so personally.

I mean, yeah, yeah, yeah, growth is important to her health, and all, that may be why they say we're tracking it, but, really, I know that it's just a way of quantifying my worth as a mother.

Even more so, of course, now that I'm not only making all her food but feeding it all to her, too.

After all, if she doesn't grow as much as they want, it's obviously all my fault, and I'm the Worst Mother Ever, right?

On the other hand, when she gains more than an ounce a day, over the first full week of exclusively breastfeeding?

My boobs totally kick ass.

Daily Peep: Clothing Conundrum

Peeper owns more clothes than any ten babies could possibly need, and yet, she has nothing to wear.

The problem is that she is between sizes at the moment.

She's outgrown (!) the preemie outfits - several are too tight, and they are all too short, so she can't stretch out in them.

On the other hand, she's not quite ready for the newborn outfits - they are both very baggy and way too long.

The legless onsies are fine, because the extra length at the crotch is not a problem, but it's December, and even in the house, I'd rather she not be running around hanging out bare-legged.
(But she often does, for all the reasons stated herein.)

The footie outfits that she needs for the weather are a mess, though.

The legs dangle an inch or so past her feet, and when she scrunches around, the outfit doesn't move with her, and she ends up getting her feet stuck in the crotch or halfway down the leg - so she still can't stretch out.

Oh, and the sleeves are like twice as long as her arms.

So, I've come up with two work-arounds.

First, I cuff the sleeves back about an inch before I put them on. This way, there's less sleeve to thread her little hands through, and I don't have to fight with her to do the cuff (which, by the way, goes to about her elbow.)

Second, I put socks on over the outfit. She's got lots of cute little socks that are still too big to stay on her feet. But, with the outfit underneath them, they are snug enough to stay put. And, they anchor her feet into the feet of the outfit and she doesn't swim around in it.

And, she gets to show off her cute little socks - like the pair in these photos, which were a gift from BabyBro and HisLovelyWife. (There are several pairs, in a variety of colors.)

I didn't know I'd have to be freakin' McGuyver just to dress my kid.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Overheard: The Crying Baby Delirium Edition

Overheard yesterday evening, on the phone with Frappa (LadyKay's kiddo #2):

Whozat: Well, I guess I'd better go feed this kid, again.
Frappa: Hey, that's your job, Titty McGee!
Of course, I told Shrike about that when she got home.

Thus . . . .

Overheard around 2 o'clock this morning, as Peeper was crying about a gassy tummy, and we were running the vacuum cleaner for white noise, while slow dancing with her, in front of the Christmas tree, trying to distract her with the pretty lights:

(To the tune of, oh, I think you can figure it out)

My bust ain't flat, in fact it's huge, and my nipples are in pain
I'm tryin' not to drip milk on my jeans
Peeper makes a fishy-face, the milk begins to rain
She nurses all the time, or so it seems

I pull my boob out of my stinky nursing bra,
I'm lactatin' while Peeper sucks the boob, yeah
No more pump a-keepin' time, I'm holdin' Peeper's hand in mine
And we sang every lullaby we knew-ew-ew

Oh, "goody's" just another word for sucking on the boob
And sucking, well that's all that Peeper does t'me, yeah
Feeding her is easy, now that she sucks the boob
Feeding her is easy now for me-ee-ee.
Easy for me, I'm Titty McGee!

Yes, there was an attempt at the second verse as well, but I will spare you.

Daily Peep: Baby's First Christmas Party

This is what Peeper wore to our Christmas party this afternoon.

We're actually quite lucky that she was able to wear it; we had a very close call with a diapering incident just minutes before the party began. Shrike was changing her, and said, "Hmm, this diaper is dry and just the tiniest bit poopy, should I even change it?"

Just then, she peed in it. "Well, that answers that question."

That was fine, but then she peed again, with no diaper under her.

I was standing by her head, and scooped her up as soon as I saw it, managing somehow to get her out of the way before it ran under her back and got her clothes wet.

I was holding her all wrong, and she was dangling somewhat precariously (and peedily!) while Shrike got the changing table cleaned up enough to put her back down, but we pulled it off!

The little label under the reindeer says "Santa's Helper."

Okay, you really can't see the outfit in this one, but she sure is cute!

Reindeer Feet!!!

Yes, she's crying in this one, but the point is to show that she loves staring at the polka dots on the changing table, and the bulletin board above it while she's being changed. Sometimes we just put her on there and let her look at them when she's being fussy. When she's in other parts of her room, she stares at other black and white things. We really did a great job choosing the decor!

And, there was a party going on.
This photo shows how much we toned things down this time. That's all the food that we provided (it was potluck, there was a TON of stuff by the time everyone showed up): Tortilla chips and salsa, potato chips, crackers, store-bought cookies, store-bought pumpkin roll, red/green M&Ms, Hershey's miniatures (A few. I kind of opened the package last night. Oops.) and honey-roasted peanuts.
I didn't cook or prepare anything; all I had to do was open some packages.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Daily Peep: Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

In case you didn't believe me, here's proof. Watch all the way to the end to see her roll over - twice!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Daily Peep: Rattle

Can you hear me now?

Santa's New Helper

Sorry, I couldn't handle hearing this thing auto-play one more time.

Go here to watch the video, or make your own free Santa video here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Daily Peep: Tummy Time

In an attempt to make my day more than a blur of boobs and poopie-pants, I decided this evening that maybe I should do something with the kid, besides just tending to her input/output needs.

To that end - Tummy Time!

I don't think she's been on her tummy since the doctor at the Children's Hospital was checking her out (over a month ago) and said, "Now, let's see what you can do on your tummy," and I had to confess that she'd never been on her tummy before, mostly because we never put her down.

She did raise her head for the doctor, so she passed the test, but we made a mental note that we should probably do some tummy time.

Yeah, now we're getting around to it.

Any-hoo . . . .

She seemed to like it okay, until she got frustrated with it.

She did some pretty good push-ups, and turned her head from side to side. (And spent more time than made me comfortable with it planted nose and mouth down on the blankie.)

Oh yeah, and she rolled over.

Yep. You read that right.

Six weeks, two days old. (Two weeks, one day, adjusted age.)

Rolled from her tummy to her back.

I don't know which one of us was more surprised. I'm sure she didn't mean to do it, and I probably scared the hell out of her when I said, "Oh my GOD!" and then scooped her up to run to the phone to call Shrike and tell her.

I'm quite sure it was a fluke, and I'm not exactly holding my breath for her to repeat the trick anytime in the next few months (Our "Week by Week" baby book puts it at about 15 weeks, and says, "She might not be able to go all the way over from her tummy to back yet.") but she was on her tummy, she wiggled and squirmed and twisted and pushed off the floor with her feet and ended up on her back.

It sure looked like rolling over to me, and I'm giving her credit for it.

No photos of the push-ups or the roll, but here are some generic hanging-out-on-her-tummy shots.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Daily Peep: Wrap It Up

DoulaK stopped by this afternoon to help me figure out what I'm doing with the wrap that we bought from her. (She showed us at the time, but it didn't stick.)

I'm feeling much more comfortable with it now.

Of course, it remains to be seen if I can do it again on my own . . . .

Monday, December 8, 2008

Six Weeks

Dear Peeper:
You are six weeks old today.

All day long, I've tried to get my head around the fact that, were we not so lucky, and so brave, and so crazy, I might - like many, many other women - have gone back to work today.

I can't imagine.

I don't want to be away from you for one minute, let alone a whole day.

But, I don't want to talk about six weeks, so much as I want to talk about one week.

Last Sunday was a very rough day for me. Mommy was at work, and I was not coping well.

Every time you finished taking a bottle and were happily dozing in my lap, I had to put you down so I could pump.

Then you'd wake up, and I would have to either try to pump with you in my lap, or let you cry, or wait to pump. None of which were good solutions for either of us.

I was beginning to despair of things ever changing. I couldn't imagine that you were ever going to learn to actually nurse, and I was starting to wonder if it were all worth it.

I called Doula K, in tears, and she reassured me that everything I was feeling was perfectly normal, and told me that, despite how it looked at the moment, she had faith that you would eventually get your act together - although it might be another four or five, or even eight weeks.

This Friday and Saturday could have been very rough days for me. Mommy was at work, but I coped amazingly well.

For hours on end, you nursed, dozed, pooped and nursed again. I don't know that I ate anything, I barely drank anything, which is just as well, since I had no time to go to the bathroom.

But you were nursing. And as exhausting as it was, it was what I'd been waiting five and a half weeks for (hell, it was what I've been waiting decades for) and I could not have been happier.

I called DoulaK on Friday and said, "You told me to call you with good news sometime, so I am!"

On Saturday, she read my latest Health Update here, and called me to celebrate your progress.

I can't believe the difference one week has made.

Not only have you, essentially, become a nursing baby, practically overnight (granted, using the nipple shield, but still!) you've also reached the six-pound mark, you've outgrown your preemie diapers, and you've started (almost) fitting into (some of) your newborn-sized clothes.

It's like, suddenly, you are the newborn that you were supposed to be a couple of weeks ago - and that we had no right to expect you to be six weeks ago.

I'm working on getting used to this nursing thing. It's so wierd that I'm not "trying to nurse" you or "seeing if you'll nurse" or "giving you a try" - I'm just nursing you.

Just like that.

I'm still pumping, but just when you're taking a nap and haven't eaten in a couple of hours.

(The thing is, for two days, you told my breasts that they were going to be getting sucked on 24/7 and they responded accordingly. Then you decided to go back to sleeping for four hours stretches at night, and two or three hours in the day time. They are not amused.)

The pumping is not such a chore now, though. For one thing, there's a lot less of it, but also it feels more voluntary now, like "Well, I'm feeling awful full, and she's sleeping, so guess I'll pump and get some relief. Oh look, a couple of ounces of milk to freeze. That's nice."

A very welcome change.

I've not quite decided when and how to transition how we handle the whole feeding thing when we're out and about in the world.

On the one hand, it would be easy to continue taking bottles along, in case you get hungry while we're out.

On the other hand, it's kind of a pain in the ass to take bottles along - when my breasts are always with me.

On another hand, I'm not quite sure how comfortable and secure you are with nursing at this point, to know how willing you'll be to do it away from home, with additional distractions.

On still another hand, I'm not sure how comfortable and secure I am with it yet - especially having to juggle the nipple shield and such.

On a fifth or sixth hand, I'm (in theory at least) quite the "lactivist" about a baby's right to breastfeed anywhere and anytime that she's hungry, and I've been warning Mommy for months (years, maybe) that, "You do know that I am going to get kicked out of somewhere at some point, right?"

And on one last hand, if things had gone as planned, and if we'd not had all this difficulty with nursing, I may well not yet have even introduced a bottle at this point, so we wouldn't have a choice, now would we?

I think we'll probably just play it by ear for a while. We'll take the nipple shield so you can nurse if the situation seems comfortable for both of us, but we'll also take along a couple of bottles (and the pump) in case it doesn't.

You know, I certainly can't say that I'm happy that things have been this difficult, but one silver lining is the bonding that you and Mommy have been able to do.

In fact, in those first few weeks (especially before she went back to work), I was the one feeling left out, because I had to hand you off to her when you were hungry, so that she could feed you while I pumped.

And I really hated that, but on the other hand (there's those damn hands again) I could see how much it meant to her, to have that time with you.

I think it's kind of hard for her, now that things have changed, and I'm trying my best to hand you off when you're done eating, so that she can have as much time with you as possible when she's home.

And I still love watching the two of you together, and eavesdropping on her talking to you, when she doesn't know I can hear.

And I love when we get to have family time - whether it's watching TV together, or she's helping us with a bath, or we're lying in bed talking to you, or listening to Christmas music and looking at the newly-decorated (ok, lit up - that's as good as it gets this year) tree.

Especially the Christmas tree. Every year, once we have the decorations up, we snug on the couch and listen to music (usually The Nutcracker) and talk.

I've always - especially the past two years - dreamed of doing that as a threesome, and we finally are.

I don't know how many years it will be before you are too big, and too cool, to join us on the couch for a Christmas snug, so I'm going to enjoy it while I can.


Daily Peep: Mama Just Washed My Hair . . .

. . . and I can't do a thing with it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Daily Peep: Milk Drunk

Taking a little break, before going back for the other side.*

*I can't believe she's actually doing this!!!

Health Update

Peeper's doing very well, overall, but we're continuing to monitor and manage some things.

Here's an update on the concerns that I discussed last month:

Issue 1 - Feeding / Growth
Peeper weighed in at 6 lbs 1.5 ounces on Thursday, which her pediatrician was very happy with.

Some of her preemie-sized footie-outfits are starting to seem a bit small on her, length-wise, and a couple are even looking like they might be getting a little snug around.

I think we'd better put her in that one little preemie Christmas outfit every chance we get, before she out grows it!.

I think it's also time to move from preemie diapers ("up to 6 pounds") to the newborn size. The newborns seem huge on her, but she's started to get red marks on her little thighs from the elastic of the preemies.

Most of the newborn outfits are still pretty darn big, too, so her wardrobe may be kind of hinky for a while.

As to the feeding, don't tell Peeper I told you this, because she has a habit of making a liar of me every time I brag on her, but we've had a couple of very encouraging days lately, on the breastfeeding front.

After considering the pros and cons, I tried nursing her using a nipple shield, and so far, she seems to be loving it.

From Tuesday evening through Thursday, she nursed with the shield about a dozen times, and yesterday - holy crow!

Basically, from 3:30 to 11:30 p.m. we didn't do anything but nurse, sleep for a bit, fuss around, diaper change, poop (Yes, in that order. Of course.), switch sides, lather/rinse/repeat.

Yes, you read those times right. Eight hours.

In that time, she was happy (except when poopy/gassy) and I was fine, despite going ten hours without pumping.

(By the time Shrike got home, Peeper had been asleep and not nursing for about an hour and a half, and I was ready to pump, but I was fine until then.)

So, if her tummy was full and my breasts weren't, that's got to be a really good sign.

She had a bit less than an ounce from a bottle right before we all went to bed, because she was hungry but had worked herself up into such a state that she couldn't settle down enough to latch on and nurse, but once she was calm and not so hungry, Shrike handed her off to me and she was happy to nurse.

Other than that, and another ounce or so that Shrike gave her in the middle of the night, she's not had a bottle in about the last eighteen hours or so.

I am, of course, concerned about whether she's getting enough milk (especially using the nipple shield, which makes it harder) so I'm thinking we'll try to get an appointment for another weight check next week I just made an appointment for another weight check on Tuesday.

The pediatrician's office probably already thinks I'm completely neurotic anyway, so what the hell.

She is peeing and pooping like normal, so far, which is good, because a reduction in output would be our first sign if her input had dropped.

Of course, a couple of great days doesn't make everything "all better" yet, and I'm sure we've still got a lot of pumping and bottles ahead of us, and then we'll have to deal with weaning her from the shield to the bare breast, but it's a huge step forward and incredibly encouraging.

I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic, because she's taunted me before, with a good day here and there, but I really think we might finally be on the right track here.

Issue 2 - Jaundice
At her one-month check-up last week, the doctor said that Peeper's still (again?) a little jaundiced, and a check of her bilirubin confirmed that.

However, she said that it's just breastmilk jaundice, which is normal in a baby that's getting exclusively breastmilk, and is nothing to be concerned about or that needs to be fixed.

We'll recheck her bilirubin level next week.

Issue 3 - Temperature Fluctuations
She's all good on this one.

Issue 4 - Heart Murmur
She's been seeing her cardiologist pretty much weekly (although, now it's biweekly!) and he's happy with her growth and eating, but has her on some medications. She's taking Lasix and Captopril to reduce the amount of blood volume going through her lungs, and help slow down her breathing a bit.

She started the Lasix three weeks ago, a week later he increased it and added Captopril and this week, he increased the Captopril.

These increases are to be expected, and don't mean that she's "getting worse." The thing is that, over the first couple of months of life, as the lungs expand and mature, the pressure in the right ventricle decreases, which causes more blood to backflow from the left ventricle, and then go to the lungs.

So, it seems to me that the need to increase the meds is actually a sign that her lungs are maturing and developing as they should.

A few weeks ago I asked the doctor when we can hope to start seeing some shrinkage of the hole and an overall improvement and he said it would be a matter of months before we'd expect that.

So, we're in for quite a haul with the medications and the doctor's visits, but it's something that's quite managable at this point, and should go away within a couple of years.

Issue 5 - Questionable Metabolic Testing
We finally got Peeper's urine tests back last week, and everything looks normal with that, and with her liver functions, so she does not have Tyrosinemia Type I, which is great to hear.

As we've known for a couple of weeks, her blood tyrosine level was still elevated when the testing was done (at 11 days old).

As the doctor told us then, by far the most likely reason is just the "transient neonatal tyrosinemia," so it needs to be checked "in a few weeks" to be sure that the levels are going down.

It's been a few weeks now, so it's time to do that. We thought we'd be able to do the follow-up testing here, but the doctor wants us to go back to the Children's Hospital and do it at their lab.

I think it's a combination of "our lab is better than any other" and the fact that things might vary from one lab to another, so the most accurate comparison would be to do both tests at the same lab.

Also, it took three and a half weeks to get the urine back when we did it here, and it will only be a few days there.

We have an appointment on December 16, and they've asked us to try to collect the urine beforehand, so we don't have to go through that debacle again. If we can't get it the day before, we'll just have then catheterize her there. We hate that idea, but it's got to be done. At least they will have teeny-tiny preemie-sized catheters.

Mostly this is just a check to confirm that her blood tyrosine levels are dropping, which we would expect from the transient tyrosinemia, which we're almost certain is what's going on.

There is one other genetic metabolic disease that's a possibility - Tyrosinemia Type II, but from what I gathered, is even less common than Type I, therefore even less likely that she'd have it.

If she did have that, it's "easily controlled" with a low-protein diet.

If not controlled, the main thing it does is to cause a build up of something or other than affects the eyes, causing vision problems.

When I pressed him about other possible problems, like developmental delays, he said that, "Yes, sometimes there are some learning disabilities," but then reiterated that a> that's only if it's not controlled, and it would be and b> it's very, very unlikely that she has it.

In Summary
It has not been an easy five and a half weeks, but Peeper is doing quite well, overall, and most of her prematurity issues are either resolved or seem to be well on their way to resolution.

If all goes well with the follow-up testing of the metabolic stuff (which we expect it will) then the only real concern is the heart murmur, which we're on top of, and expect to be resolved without any intervention.

Now, if we can just keep her from springing anything new on us for a while. . . .

Friday, December 5, 2008

Overheard: The Poopy Parenting Edition

Overheard while Shrike was changing a diaper, after we'd been out and about most of the evening:

Shrike: So, I found out these things have a load limit.
Whozat: Well, we haven't changed her since . . . . Oh my God!
Shrike: Yeah, I just realized that. And then I realized what awful parents we are.

Daily Peep: My Girls