Packing up and moving...

Sorry Blogger, tired of your commenting glitches.

I'm taking my toys to play over at

Please follow us over there!

Clearly, it's time to get him out and about on the social scene.

Ollie has a friend, Lilly. He met her once before, back when they were both sleeping all day and the main concern was who's gonna feed me?

She's grown into quite the hostess, young Lilly. Proud of her toy collection, she let Ollie play with whatever he found and made sure we followed her into the kitchen at lunch time.

Ollie was shell-shocked, I think. He doesn't see other kids very often, and I don't think he quite knew what to do about this other person the same size as him.

He pointed at her eye and patted her leg.

Clearly, it's time to get him out and about on the social scene.

I was hoping Lilly would crawl around and show him how cool it is to be mobile, but crawling's so last month for her. She's tottering about in that zombie-baby-walk that can just about kill you with cuteness. Ollie showed her how manly it is to get around by rolling.

There are some playgroups in the area that we need to check out, now that flu-season is ending and there's less chance he'll pick up a bug of some sort. For now, we can see Lilly every now and then.

Hopefully he won't be so interested in her eyeballs.

TWO WEEKS without a post?

What have you been doing, lady? Why aren't you giving me attention?

These are the questions I imagine this site asking me, day after day of ignoring and neglecting.

Well, Dear Blog, I've been running around like mad.

When we bought our house, we noted that the bathroom would need to be re-done soon. Apparently, the little old lady we bought it from didn't actually shower and finished the bathroom with wallpaper. The entire bathroom was covered in 80s-cool wallpaper, including the tub surround. So, for the past 18 months we lived here, we had the shower surround enveloped in gorgeous vinyl shower curtain liners, to protect the drywall from daily showering until the day we could start fixing it.

That day is now. (Actually, it was supposed to be last Spring Break, but we hit a little bump in the road that prevented us from doing it. Welcome Home, Oliver!)

The curtain liners are finally down, as are the walls of the bathroom. After three days of hard labor, our bathroom is gutted. Completely without its own walls, down to the studs. A small dumpster is in the driveway where my car should be and supplies and new things are scattered about the house like Ollie's toys usually are. For a couple days, we had the old sink and vanity in the kitchen, looking sad and cast off.

It's chaos.

I've spent hours in our local home remodel stores, choosing the new look for our bathroom. I've consulted with the (paid) experts about what would work best for flooring and walls, and dashed out when the drywall and plaster started coming down to protect Ollie from the dust. We've stayed away because, well...Ollie's a scaredy-cat and cries when he hears any power tools of any kind.

I'm doing the easy work. I'm spending hours away from home, visiting family, killing time until the project is over, and I'm exhausted. I packed Ollie up in the car and left today with no destination in mind, and I'm pooped out. Poor Matty is doing the tough stuff. I haven't picked up a hammer or other tool of destruction unless it's to move it out of the way to get something more important.

It's crazy. It's dirty. It's expensive. It sucks.

All I want to do is shower. Without walls of vinyl surrounding me.

So NOW what, Sleep Expert Book Writer Lady?

I used to know two facts about Ollie. He was one of the best sleepers around and he'd never go for the Beef Jerky idea from a recent Feeding Evaluation.

Turns out they were both wrong.

I finally worked up the gumption to try a Slim Jim with him. After a month of not really progressing with eating as I'd hoped, the worry about him actually getting a chunk off was finally outweighed by the goal of getting him actual food as his main source of nutrition.

It's really hard to give a baby Beef Jerky. It feels so....Britney Spears. Like I ran into the Quik Trip barefoot to re-fill his bottle with Mountain Dew. While I'm at it, do I stop at Starbucks for a baby-sized Carmel Frappuccino for him to slurp on?

I'll tell you one thing: it's odd leaving the gas station with a bouquet of Slim Jims; it's downright bizarre knowing it's for a 1-year old.

And, crazy thing here. Get ready, because I'm about to blow. your. mind.

He likes it! He chews on it, working on desensitizing his gag-reflex while enjoying the mild kick of beef jerky, little multi-tasker. It's a perfect snack for babies with eating challenges. Its tough skin keeps him from really biting anything off, but his jaw muscles are working that bit of jerky and he's learning to chew. And his little baby fists can snatch up that stick with surprising efficiency. So it's working, this Slim Jim Jerky idea.

What's not working are his sleeping habits.

He slept through the night for months, since June. I was proud of the little guy. For any milestone envy I got from hearing about what other babies his age are doing that he hadn't yet mastered, I had that little nugget of consolation. Yeah, but Ollie sleeps through the night.

Then, starting with his first ear infection, he'd wake up once in the night. Nothing big, just out of the ordinary crying that was happily soothed away by a minute of shhhh-ing and finding his puppy blanket.

The ear infection went away, but the night-waking remained.

Then he got sick again. Our once-a-night-wakings went to twice-a-night-wakings. But, still I wasn't worried. He was sick and still easily lulled back to sleep. I could continue doing this while researching Sleep Training methods that would help him learn to put himself to sleep.

In the past week, though, things have gotten really outta control here.

We're the "Before Family" starring in any book about getting your child to sleep through the night.

No matter what book you're looking at, there we are. Child awake from midnight to three, mom desperate to get him back asleep. Child wondering why it isn't play time, mom wondering what happened to her sleeping baby.

I shhhhh him; he cries. I pat his belly; he kicks his legs. I, out of options, pick him up to snuggle him to sleep; he wakes upon put down and blows raspberries.

If it weren't 2:30am, and we weren't on the fifth put down, it'd be pretty funny. If I didn't get to eat at the unlimited buffet of sleeping through the night for a good 6 months, it wouldn't be so devastating. If it were summer time and Matty didn't have to work, this new development would feel more manageable than it does now.

Insert big, enormous, dramatic, feeling-sorry-for-myself SIGH here.

I don't know what happened, I just know that something has to change.

I picked up the book "The No-Cry Sleep Method" a couple weeks back, knowing that our habit of snuggle-to-sleep would have to soon change. Getting him to bed involved a good routine of bottle, quiet play-time with Matty, then the hand-off to me to snuggle him to sleep. (Of course it was my job, Matty's arms are too long.) While I knew that he wasn't learning to put himself to sleep, it became a comforting habit for both of us. What mom doesn't enjoy that time with her baby, him sleeping soundly on her chest?

But in the back of my mind, I knew he has to be able to put himself to sleep. He's become accustomed to sleeping on someone, noise and rhythm of my breathing, close heartbeat and warm arms surrounding him in a cozy cocoon. More importantly, it has to be a mommy-cocoon. No daddy-or-grandma cocoon is good enough, it has to be mommy's shoulder he lays his head on to drift off.

So, with these habits firmly entrenched, how would he be able to fall asleep alone, flat in his crib, with only his puppy blanket for security?

Yeah, um. He can't.

I'm realizing my rookie mistake.

According to the "No-Cry Sleep Method" book mentioned above, there are ways to teach him to fall asleep on his own, without going so far as making him "Cry It Out." So, yesterday, according to the book, I bought a soothing CD of rainforest sounds to play while I still snuggle him down. We are to play that CD during the snuggle-down, for naps and nighttime, so he starts to associate those sounds with sleep. The goal is that one day, in the not-too-distant future, just playing the CD will make him sleepy. One day, I will be able to put him down, in his crib, awake, with that CD playing, and he will drift off to sleep soundly and happily.

Makes sense, in a Pavlov's Dogs sort of way.

But, and this is the part I'm struggling with. Everything else the book says, I'd already been doing out of instinct and this no-sleep thing is getting worse, not better.

So NOW what, Sleep Expert Book Writer Lady?

Is it as easy as sleep-que-association? Will using this Rainforest Retreat CD really be enough to "train" him to fall asleep on his own?

I don't know, but then again, I didn't know that Slim Jim would help him eat.

Maybe its indigestion that's waking him up.

Happy Home-Coming Day, Ollie!

One year ago today, we got to leave the NICU with our baby.

We packed up his little outfits, collected his souvenirs, learned how to work his monitor and oxygen, fed him there one last time for Auld Lang Syne and walked through the double doors. With our Ollie.

For months, we came and went at least twice a day without him. Knowing that he needed to be there was little consolation to leaving the hospital, day after day, without a baby.

But we got through it. Prayers said were answered and our little buddy made it through his rough start.

Now we were going at it alone. No nurses to feed him in the middle of the night. No doctors to read his charts and tell us he's doing great.

It was just us.

Our little family.

It was terrifying and freeing in the same breath.

Terrifying because although we'd met him months before, we didn't really know him. Up until that point, his nurses had the insider information on how to soothe him. They had the confidence of feeding hundreds of preemie babies to do it with an expert hand.

How do we soothe him? How much will he sleep? How do we cut his fingernails? Will BobCat sit on him out of jealousy? On top of that, he would still sometimes freak out while eating and maybe-kinda-sorta forget to breathe and set off his apnea monitor. Aaaaand, maybe sometimes his oxygen tubing would get stuck on things on the journey from the bedroom to the living room.

Things regular parents go through, right?

But finally! Finally! We didn't have to get dressed to see him! He was in the very same room! Every squeak, grunt, moan, growl he made, we were there to witness it. We didn't have to hear about the cute thing he did when he was awake before...we were there to see it ourselves.

It. was. awesome.

That first night home, I remember waking up in the middle of the night to his little squall of a cry. I was excited. I felt like I'd been a benchwarmer in a big game, and the coach finally tapped my shoulder to go in to win it. Armed with all my skills I'd learned but never used, assessing the situation, we asked: Is he hungry? A bottle was unwelcome. Wet? Fixing that option didn't settle him down, either.

Thinking it was too quiet for him (the NICU environment is somewhat noisy) we played for him a soundtrack of Little Einstein's classical music. I held him while he calmed down and fell asleep staring at me. He had fallen asleep while I was holding him before in the NICU, but never in the middle of the night. Never when he just needed to be held. It was finally at that moment, that I actually felt like a mommy, 84 days into the experience. It was a giant leap as we became the resident Ollie-Professionals.

It's been a year now, since he came home. This day feels more special than his actual birthday in a way. Because this day was filled with anticipation, excitement, preparations and happiness. We couldn't wait for this day for months, and it was finally here.

This is the day our family was finally complete in the most honest form of the word.

Happy Homecoming Day, Ollie!

You are my most favorite boy in the whole world.

I can't do a post about how awesome it was to have Ollie home without giving a huge thanks to the staff at West Allis Memorial Hospital, to our friends and family who prayed for and cheered him on from Day One and most importantly, a Thank You, Lord, for keeping him healthy and in our lives.

Getting the TEAM together.

Okay, we're 36 days out from this year's March For Babies. Here's what to do if you either

a) want to sign up for walking and be part of Team EARLY OLLIE!


b) help us reach our goal of raising $250 for the March of Dimes.

For those reading who can walk (Saturday, April 24th), please do this...

Visit Team EARLY OLLIE!'s team page at the March of Dimes

and click on the "JOIN THIS TEAM" Button under the image. It will ask you to enter your name, your PERSONAL fundraising goal, which will be put into the "TEAM EARLY OLLIE!" Bucket, and some other key information. Nothing scary, I promise.

You will be shown different ways to stir up interest and create ways to inspire your friends and family to donate to your personal goal, helping fill our bigger bucket.

Right now Team EARLY OLLIE! has only one lonely member. Me. So, don't make me be the only one!

For anyone who can't make it to the walk, but wants to donate to our bucket, here's what you can do. Click on the Purple Badge over to the right. I just did this; it'll take you to MY page at Team EARLY OLLIE! and you can donate to my goal of $250.

For MY reasons to donate to the March of Dimes, read here or here to be taken to the March of Dimes website.

Please...your donation is appreciated, so, so much. Five dollars, whatever you can contribute. It goes to a great place.

Thank you!

Cough, fever & chest x-ray - who knew it'd be a great day?

Starting Tuesday, Ollie developed a bit of a cough. Nothing too big, but certainly a new addition to his daily repertoire that we noticed it. He takes it in stride, a cough and a smile as he goes about his baby-business.

Matty suggested I call the doctor and I replied that he doesn't have a fever, so it's probably nothing. I checked on him before settling into bed on Wednesday night and came out with the news, "so much for not having a fever."

He was warm, but sleeping soundly.

Thursday was a different sort of day.

We woke up at 7, he ate, and went down for a nap around 8:15. He slept until noon, woke up, ate a bit, and was napping again 45 minutes later. All with a fever of about 102.1.

A four-hour nap definitely isn't part of his daily repertoire. So, true to Matty's prediction, I called the doctor.

We were able to be seen at 3:45 that day and got a full work-up.

Ears look fine, throat looks good, lungs sound perfect; it's probably viral, with nothing really to do but wait it out. Except...hmmm...given his weak lungs, we better look into this a little further.

I've written about Ollie's lung issues before and any mention of a cough kinda sends doctors into a tizzy. They want to make sure that pneumonia isn't moving in or that his lungs aren't being further insulted by another sort of infection.

We were sent for a chest X-Ray.

We hadn't had a chest X-Ray since April of last year, when we added Pulmonology to his list of specialists. And that was an experience. Held down by sand-bags and Matty, he screamed through the procedure. (Crying's good, though, they say. It opens his lungs up for a great view of the landscape.)

Now that he's older, I thought it might be a little easier. I hoped so, anyway, since Matty wasn't with us.

Not really.

Once they're able to support their heads, babies are strapped into a tiny electrical-chair-looking device, shirtless. Velcro straps around his feet, belly, head and with his arms strapped down next to his head.

True to form, he cried during the procedure; I almost did, too.

It lasted all of two minutes until I could cuddle the anger and fright out of him.

Before we even left the hospital, I got the call from the doctor with the report that his lungs.....

LOOK GREAT! So, SO much better when compared to last year's view.


He really is truly growing out of his Chronic Lung Disease! They said this would happen as he grew, with new, healthy lung tissue overgrowing and overpowering the damaged parts caused by his early start. But with a name like "chronic" it sounds like something he'd have forever, right?

So, YAY!

Despite the cough, the fever, the sleepiness and a bit of crankiness, Ollie is continuing to get healthier. Despite the months of supplemental oxygen, his lungs are getting over their initial weaknesses and problems. Despite the worry that a cough could turn into something more sinister, we got great news; he's still getting stronger and healthier.

It was great news on a not-so-great day. And I am ridiculously proud of his lung-growing abilities.

***Editing to add***
Today, the day after the day we had yesterday, Ollie feels much better. His fever seems to be gone and he thinks I'm funny again. Phew. I was missing my captive audience that thinks I'm hilarious.

WHAM! there it is again.

Today's education: babies are susceptible to RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), with symptoms generally cropping up as a cold for older kids, but worse for babies. It's the Number 1 cause for babies under one year old to be hospitalized.

For premature babies with a history of lung issues, it's even scarier.

RSV is one of those things that really, really made us want to go to a one-income household, since babies in daycare are so germ-generous. It's been recommended many times that we enforce a strict "lock-down" and keep Ollie away from the general population during RSV season. So we do. We missed my nephew's 5th birthday party and had a very scaled down get-together in honor of Ollie's birthday. Thanksgiving and Christmas were a source of contention with all the school-age nieces and nephews around, and with every cough I heard, I assumed it was The Plague and quickly moved to the other side of the room.

On top of all that prevention, Ollie also qualifies for Synagis, a monthly shot of anti-bodies that prevents RSV from moving in and infiltrating his lungs. It's not a vaccine, like the flu-shot, so it "dies" in his body after about 30 days or so. And, given Ollie's weight now (22 pounds, 4 ounces!) he needs two shots. Every month, during RSV season (November through March here), he gets a shot in both chunky thighs.

We have a Visiting Nurse who visits the house to administer his dose. I always feel so bad for him on these days. She comes in the morning, during his happiest time of day. Today she arrived when we were finishing up breakfast and he was happily stealing the spoon from my hand to bang it on his tray.

He had no idea.

Those Synagis shots, from what I hear, are more painful than typical shots. Not only do we get the poke twice, but the medicine stings as it's going in. And, because we do it at home, there's no chance of simultaneous pokes by two nurses, so he'll just get settled down from the first shot and then WHAM! there it is again. Setting off a new level of tears and yelling.

I sort of feel bad for his nurse, too. She spends her days making babies cry from taking on this kind of care and Ollie is immediately suspicious when he sees her. His OT doesn't pull out a stethescope and listen to his lungs, she just comes to play. He knows This Lady is Different. And his mood imediately changes.

Smart boy.

He watches as she prepares. He gets weighed and measured. She gets my signature, then sets the shots up. Ollie does that holding his breath thing at first, then really lets it go. BobCat comes rushing in to see what's wrong.

He gives her such a look of insult and disbelief. Chewing a finger, tears still on his eyelashes, Why did you do that to me, lady?

We do it to keep you healthy, Ollie.

And then it's over. We got the last dose today for the year. He may qualify again for Synagis next season, he may not. This was his second year of receiving the shots and these are crazy expensive (I've heard about $1500 per shot) so the Insurance Company has to approve him. Right now, just this year, he's had $15,000 worth of anti-bodies injected.

Right now, he's over it. After a good nap and some snuggles, he's back to his regular smiley self. All he has left as evidence are the two dot band-aids that cover the sites and lungs that will stay healthy.

Thinking like a mom

Out of milk, I ventured to the grocery store at 9:30pm on a Sunday night. I actually don't mind going to the grocery later in the evening. I can do the self-checkout without feeling rushed, poke and prod the produce as much as I like, and spend some time actually choosing what I buy, rather than plucking things off the shelves without much thought.

But, as I said, it was 9:30 on a Sunday night.

There was a little girl there, about Ollie's age. Seriously, cute as a button with blond-ish curly hair and a big smile. Wide awake, wearing green-with-pink-polka dot pants and a pink jacket.

Can you see her? She's adorable, right?

My first thought when I saw her wasn't how cute she was, or how smiley. Not even a little milestone envy at how good she was at waving.


The very first thought in my noggin was: How is she so awake this late? Why isn't she in bed yet?

I'm thinking like a mom.

This isn't to say that that thought went through my head all high-and-mighty. I know that different kids have very different schedules. I just wondered how this little ray of sunshine had the energy to be so awake at 9:30pm, when I had to change out of my jammies since I had been ready for bed about 2 hours before.

And this is too funny not to post....kitty adventures

The perfect yawn, caught at the perfect time for the perfect picture.

  © Free Blogger Templates 'Greenery' by 2008

Back to TOP