Monday, November 29, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes

November 24th(ish) 2009

November 24th, 2010
If you've been hanging around here for a while, you know I've been looking forward to this party for quite a while. I would have posted these pictures sooner, but I wore myself out!

For the party, we ate delicious food.

The bell of the ball was loving it!

All of this for me?

We were so lucky to celebrate with many friends. Here are a few of them:

These two were supposed to be born only days apart.
One is obviously more mellow than the other, thankfully.

Kate, Alli, and (I'm 99% sure) Amy


Some of our good friends and neighbors from our previous apartment complex.
Millie's "Uncle" Regie made it during his lunch break! He works as a Respiratory Therapist in the NICU. It meant so much to us to see him.

Hatsumi and little Jimmy, our current neighbors and friends.

Glen and Jamie (can't wait to meet their little girl soon)

Anna and Caleb, a fellow micro-preemie. We were in the NICU together for most of our stay.
(I think she really wants a bite of that piece of paper)

We played pin the bow on Hello Kitty. Buck was kind enough to go first. Before he made it to the board...

he made it across the entire room, bless his heart.

Many played,

but Millie's grandpa got it closest to "right." Pretty good for someone who thought the bow went under her neck to begin with :)

After the games we dove into the cake.

Millie was slightly stunned by us singing "Happy Birthday."

This girl knows how to work a camera.
Is this what y'all want me to do?

What in the world?

Well, alright...

One more smile, and I think I'm done.

Next we let Millie try to open presents for the first time.
She was more interested in everyone watching her.

She loved all her presents, especially the girly ones.

She was very intrigued by this phone, but a little worn out by the end.

Overall, we had a fabulous party.
I hope Millie crawled away feeling loved.

You probably can tell a huge difference in quality of pictures. I have to thank my friend Ashley Lunt for these pictures. In a round-about way she offered to take some pictures of Millie, and the most convenient way was to have her come to the birthday party. Not having to take pictures on top of all my other hostess duties was wonderful! I would totally recommend talking one of your friends with a nice camera and a good eye for photography into doing this for you, or if you have the means hire one! Not that I think every single birthday party merits a professional photographer, but in Millie's case her first birthday definitely did (to me).

I was a little worried about pulling this all off without the help of my mother, grandmother, and sister, but it worked! The only reason it all worked was because of Buck's parents, and those that showed up early (Romney's, Ostler's and Lunt's).

Whew. The party is over. Now I can start reflecting on the milestones we faced this time last year. You all know her birth story. You also followed me as I experienced all those firsts: eyes opening, holding, bathing, diaper changing, feeding, etc. What a beautiful story Millie has, and I am so thankful I was able to share that with so many.

Happy Birthday, Millie dear!

I have a one year old.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Purple for Preemies

Today Millie and I dressed in purple. Did you know that November 17th is "Fight for Preemies" day? Bloggers all over the country are asked to blog about preemies to help raise awareness. For that, Millie and I dressed in purple.

Millie was born exactly one week after November 17th. Having a premature baby never crossed my mind while I was pregnant. Even when I went to the hospital to get checked, I genuinely though I would be going home after a few hours.

Knowing what I know now, I do wish someone had discussed the signs of preterm labor with me. I also wished I had done a little more research, and took my signs more seriously when they first started. I was in labor for two days before I went to the hospital. Had I known the emergency of the situation, I definitely would have skipped Cafe Rio and Twillight for the hospital. I don't blame myself or my doctors for Millie being born early, and I am so thankful for how everything worked out. My hope in writing today, is to bring awareness to this situation. With premature births on the rise, even if you don't find yourself pregnant you probably will be close to someone that is pregnant. If they mention any of these signs to you, you can help them take their situation very seriously.

We got to the hospital early Sunday morning. I walked in, just as most people do (except those in labor). I think my casualness set the tone for how everyone handled me at first. No one seemed concerned, but they were going to humor me anyways with an exam. Once they realized I was fully dilated, panic set in. I remember clearly the nurse trying to stay calm, and leaving the room to call my doctor. You would think it would have felt like an eternity waiting on the doctor to get there, but it seemed so quick. After he got there and confirmed my situation I was inverted (yep, feet raised higher than my head), given all kinds of loopy medicine, and hooked up to a catheter (worst part). There I remained for a few days. In that exact same position. The only thing that changed was where they placed the heart monitor on my stomach since Millie was moving and I would get blood blisters if it stayed put too long. Compared to the catheter, I didn't mind the heart monitor. I didn't even mind the endless amounts of poking and prodding I endured, compared to the catheter.

As soon as I was in position (inverted, etc) I began receiving visits from all sorts of doctors and specialists. I remember talking to Wyck, who was probably the most helpful person I encountered on bed rest. He later became Millie's doctor in the NICU, and I am so thankful for him. I remember him discussing some very realistic statistics with me, but still having a very positive outlook for Millie. It is a big deal I remember any of this. If you remember, I was on magnesium throughout this. Let's just say, I was so loopy I couldn't even feed myself.

A few months after Millie was born, we still had nurses, doctors, and therapists commenting to us how they remember Millie's birth vividly. Our wonderful NICU was waiting for Millie to be born at any second for a few days. Having a 23 weeker is rare, and seeing one survive is even more rare. Not knowing why my body was rejecting her meant they had to be prepared for every possibility, at any moment. We still don't know the reason, and I'm not sure we ever will. I hope to get more answers with my next child, but I'm not holding my breath.

When we first began the process to get Millie into the early intervention program, we had to be interviewed. I remember one of the questions catching me by surprise. They asked us if we remember Millie's birth as traumatic. Buck and I quickly answered that we did not. We genuinely don't. We look at it as Millie's birth. It is what it is. That's how she was born, and our entire experience (though not ideal) was beautiful. Very unusual, but beautiful. Had this been our second child, we would probably feel different. Had I been further along and developed different expectations, perhaps.

After we brought Millie home from the hospital, we returned for a visit before heading to South Carolina. We visited with another Doctor, Charlene, that took care of Millie a great deal. She mentioned that she'll never forget her first impression of Buck and I. She met with us, and couldn't believe how calm and collected we seemed. She said it felt like having Millie in the NICU and born early seemed like something we always expected. I can assure you, we never expected it. Buck later told me he did feel like there was going to be something unique about my pregnancy with Millie. I also felt that, and switched my OBGYN as soon as I found out I was pregnant based off of this feeling. I was very lucky to have the doctor that delivered Millie. He worked a miracle in delivering her, that could not have happened with my old doctor.

My personal experience was with preterm labor, but babies are born early for a variety of reasons. We were very blessed Millie wasn't born sick, as many babies are. That's not to say Millie didn't have her fair share of complications. Do you remember how long it took her to tolerate a feeding? Her heart surgery just at just a few days old? Her eye surgery in March? She also had chronic lung disease, which she has since recovered from. This will probably result is asthma later on, and she will probably wear glasses at a young age. Pretty incredible that (so far) those are the only lasting affects we can see of her miraculous arrival.

I am so thankful for the research and medicines that have been developed of the years. I know that because of these advances in medicine Millie has a much higher quality of life. Just a few years ago, Millie would have been expected to come home with a trach. Now, she can be just like any other child. Looking at her, you'd never know she was a preemie. What a miracle.

We fought for our preemie, and we'll keep fighting for other preemies. Everyone deserves to live. Spread the word, and who knows who we can save.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The New Baby-1989

No, I'm not having a baby.
I was referring to the "baby" of our family, Xan. I call him "new" because I am going to share with you how I felt about him when he was 22 years ago. I just shared this story with my friend Heather and got a good kick out of it all over again.
First off, you need to understand I had been the "baby" for a good 5 years before he came along!
Yikes, did I just share my age? Back to Xan.
I don't remember a whole lot because I was only five, but I do remember feeling like I was always getting in trouble and he never was! One day I decided to take matters into my own hands. I brainstormed a no-fail way to get him in trouble. What are some of the rules he could break? Hmmm...I know! You can't write on anything but paper! That's it. I'm going to write somewhere in his room and blame it on him. I snuck into his room while he was taking a nap in his crib. I'm not sure what I was thinking because he was still a newborn but I found a pencil and wrote as hard as I could "N-i-k-i" in the window sill. I'm sure I snickered my way out of his room and waited anxiously for my parents to go in his room and discover what he did.
Looking back, I can only imagine how funny this was to my parents. There I was, writing my own name, and trying to blame it on my brand new baby brother. Haha!
Thankfully I warmed up to him, and love having him for a brother. He is such a good person, and always has been. I, on the other hand...well I've learned a lot from him. Of course he isn't completely innocent. He has been known to lock everyone in their rooms thanks to a complex rope and knot system he figured out at a very early age.
Happy Birthday Xan!

Friday, November 12, 2010

11 Months Old and On the Move!

Before it got cold, we made sure to give Millie time to explore outside.

She got a "taste" of the great outdoors.

We also let her run around like this before bed.

But it got cold quickly, so we now have to bundle her up.
(We don't mind because her winter clothes are so cute)

See what I mean?

This girl never holds still, and we love it.

Even her poor Barbie gets Millie's attention.
To think, Barbie used to just lay there next to Millie without being bothered...
and now this.
Don't feel picked on, Barbie.

These days, Millie leaves no purse un-licked and no shoe un-touched.

Millie is all girl. If we ever want to convince her to crawl, or get her to stop crying, we can simply use my purse as a carrot to dangle.

Looks like she caught her first fish!

Millie also finds herself under our little table and chairs checking out our pantry stock.
She loves to pull things off the shelf, which is great at helping me remember what I actually have down there.

Ah yes, the shoes.

She favors mine (whew), and always inspects them closely when I get home from work.

And to prove Millie is really "on the move" you'll have to see for yourself:

That's right! Millie is officially crawling!

That video was taken about a week ago, so she has gotten quicker and more adventurous. She still isn't trying to pull herself up on anything, but she will now crawl from room to room. Yesterday she crawled through our tiny kitchen, and hit her sweet head on the wall because she thought it was bigger than it actually is. Does that say how small our kitchen is? Our little baby expects it to be bigger than it is!

In her 11th Month, Millie:

  1. Switched from size 2 diapers to size 3.
  2. Still has no teeth! She drools like crazy, but she's been doing that since this summer.
  3. Wears size 6-9 month pajamas, and 3-6 (with the occasional 6-9) month clothes. Of course her feet are super tiny, so it's still newborn shoes for her.
  4. Eats solid food twice a day, and loves those little quick dissolving puffs. She's getting good at picking them up with her finger and thumb, too! I fed her some at Church last Sunday, and of course she choked. I promise she can eat them, and normally loves them. Stage fright?
  5. Is officially in the early intervention program! She didn't qualify, but the therapist that evaluated her convinced the program to take her on to prevent problems in the future. This means we are in the program for the next 6 months, which is perfect for our timeline! We have visits from the physical therapist twice a month, and access to all kinds of resources. We will be getting a visit from a feeding specialist (I'm sure they have another name) soon, just to make sure Millie is where she needs to be...all because I asked a question about it! Nice.
  6. As mentioned, she didn't "qualify" for the early intervention program. She tested too high in all of the areas they were looking at (motor skills, social skills, muscle development, etc.). When we had a meeting earlier this month, we went over her scores. Millie tested in the 75th percentile in social skills! The early intervention program folks couldn't believe it. She is my child. I couldn't be more proud. This was her first time being the the 75th percentile of anything.

We're gearing up for the big day later on this month! It's hard to believe that I was pregnant this time last year. As a matter of fact, I was very sick and pregnant this time last year. I hadn't even gotten to the point where I could eat yet! Don't worry, I've made up for lost time.

I'm having mixed emotions as I think through what happened at this time last year. It's emotional, but I have to say I remember most of it fondly. That might sound unusual, but Millie's birth has brought so much joy into our life. We were blessed with an extremely healthy baby, and a "best-case" scenario, especially for a 23-weeker. Millie has been a blessing to us since she was born, and we love her.

I'm planning on sharing more reflections on that experience later on this month. Ironic that November is Prematurity Awareness Month, isn't it?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Birthday Wish List

I'll post soon about how amazing our eleven month old is.

Since Millie turns one on November 24th, we've got her birthday on the brain.

Here are a few things Millie has on her wish list:

The Graco Contempo High Chair

It's a beauty! It has a dishwasher safe, one-hand removable tray, extra seat cover, adjustable height, and basically everything Millie could ever dream of. It even folds up compact enough to fit next to your fridge! On top of all that, it matches our kitchen and her pack-n-play. It's dreamy.

Millie has a shoe obsession. Seriously, if you come over with interesting shoes she will chase you! She also loves all things girly, so when she laid her eyes on these pretty things it was love at first sight.

These shoes are "heelarious." They are technically for babies 0-6 months, but, truth be told, Millie still wears newborn baby shoes (tiny feet, just like her great-great-grandma, Mary). We all agree that seeing her crawl around in these high heels would be priceless.

Since we all know Millie has caught on to the Hello Kitty craze, and she is sitting up on her own (ready to move out of her baby tub), she has chosen a new bath tub. What do you think?
Love it! Truthfully though, it might be a bit much, even for me.

At the risk of sound like a Mom from Toddlers and Tiaras, we might just have a Diva on our hands.

We're looking forward to the big day, and promise to post oodles of pictures. If you are around Provo for Thanksgiving, and would like to join us for the fun, let us know!