Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quick Update

Oy! I get so hung up on having images that I put off posting for days at a time, and then poof! everything passes in a flash and I've missed all sorts of stuff.

Highlights from the past week or so:

- At her last appointment, Penny tipped the scales at 6 lbs 1.5 oz! We were going to bet how much she'd weigh, but all three of us -- me, Randy and the doctor -- bet the same thing, so everyone's a winner. Yawn. But yay! That was a gain of an ounce a day, just as she's supposed to do!

- She had a day or two of fussiness and needing to eat almost every hour -- which apparently signifies a growth spurt. I'm happy about the growth spurt, or I would be if I were awake and aware enough to know what emotions are and identify them individiually. My right nipple is rebelling. Get in line, right nipple!

- She is still outstandingly cute.

More soon.

Monday, December 22, 2008


The last two days have been interesting because Miss Thing continues to spend longer and longer periods in her little chair. Part of me aches to have her so far away (all the way across the room!) but hey, her due date approaches.

The big news this week is: Grandparents! Miss Lady met Grandpa Harry and Grandma Marge yesterday. Everyone seemed happy about the situation, though P was a little fussy (probably cold, or excessively fond of her outfit).

The day before, we had our first successful bath. What made it so successful? I finally gave in to the suggestions of, oh, everyone and tried bathing with her: sat in the bath, Randy put her on me, and she got a dubious look on her face, then started hollering. Then she espied a familiar object, leapt forward, and latched on for dear life; I spent the rest of the bath washing her left side extremely well, and just enjoying hanging out peacefully in the warm water together. It was blissful.

I unhooked her only at the end to give her right side and hiney a quick swab before she peeled the tiles off the wall with her caterwauling. Just kiddinnnng! She didn't seem to mind it nearly as much.

Aunt Elizabeth also came by, and I want you to compare and contrast her two meetings with Miss Penelope:
Wowee! What a difference a month (or so) makes! Elizabeth is the only person besides me who looks at Penelope and says "Oh, she's HUGE!" instead of "Eek, she's TINY!" I like that in a person.

I also ordered her birth announcements. They are goshdarn cute if I do say so myself.

We're off the the doctor tomorrow to weigh in. We were going to lay bets on how much she's gained, but then we both thought she's gained the same amount, so it's a very boring bet. Well, boring bets make for nice marriages, I guess.

Friday, December 19, 2008

baby power!

little miss fussbudget isn't feeling so photogenic, so here is a shot of her and Dad engaging in some solidarity, from a few days ago.

Please note that neither I or Randy have managed to take off the blue bracelets that gave us entry to the NICU. Funny, huh? Superstitious or lazy or what?

We ran the new humidifier last night, despite my fear of legionnaire's disease, and I'm happy to report that I no longer think I have strep throat. I am worried that I have a minor cold, though, so I'm trying to keep snot away from the tiny immunocompromised patient here. but since we're like siamese twins connected at the everything, I don't know what I can do.

I just realized that she hasn't had a bath since last Saturday. This was no big deal when I thought today was Wednesday, but it turns out today is actually Friday. Which means my parents are coming tomorrow, and I don't know what else it means except that where did the days go?!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

basket full o' baby

Randy walked in while I was snapping this photo, said "Oh, no!" and ran back out. Yes, I have turned into the woman pulling things off of shelves and out of cabinets to see if my baby will fit in them for a photo op. Note to the curious: She does not fit in my bread-rising bowl. (If she did, I'd leave her there till doubled, and promise not to punch her down!)

In a supreme sucker-punch from the universe, I have a dreadful sore throat and am weirdly dizzy, with symptoms getting worse at night. I remember this exact illness when I was "nursing" my kitten, Theodor, in 1991. At the time, I thought, "Good lord. If this is motherhood, I hereby vow not to be a single mom." And see? Theodor taught me something! But I still feel like crap. I will call my doctor to verify that I don't have strep, but I don't know what I can do about it if I have something contagious. Penelope's doctor was all "oh, just make sure you wash your hands," and I'm like, okay! when?

Anyway, things continue: still sleeping in shifts. Last night Penelope had something amiss in her tummy, I think, because she screamed bloody murder from about 8pm to 1am. I hope this was a one-time thing. I'll let you know tomorrow. Anyway, I put her in the vibratey chair and did bicycle-legs with her till she gave a little poot and calmed down, then sank into a deep, grateful sleep. It was heartbreaking, and also gave me tintinnitis (or however you spell it -- what I just typed makes it look like I have been infected with a Belgian comic book). And I continue to not be able to sleep.

I did watch "Charade," the stylish Audrey Hepburn-Cary Grant vehicle, and have several questions about plot points that occurred when the heat was on (loud) or the baby was crying (louder) or I was too logy to understand anything beyond "preeety... haaandsome...." I also watched "The Man with a Cloak," with Leslie Caron and Joseph Cotton, and have only this to say: Just because a movie is old and has a pretty lady in it doesn't mean it's not a pile of steaming crap. Also: Lamest reveal ever. Take that, Ebert and Whoever.

Oh, and in conclusion, here is a funny thing i said: at our last pediatrician appointment, a woman was in the waiting room with a big belly. She told me her due date, and I said, "That was my due date! Take a good look: this is what your baby looks like right now, but inside you." She was a bit taken aback. Haha, I freak people out with my human-ultrasound preemie power! shaZAM!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Since our little girl doesn't have her own little curl yet -- despite having a fine head of hair -- she borrowed one from Daddy. Not bad, right?

This is the thoughtful face that accompanies a full belly -- when she can stay awake, anyway. The eye doctor* says her eyes are developing as they should, and says that by her due date, she'll be seeing 20/20, or close to it. See, that's odd to me, because I thought that for a good long while she could only see the distance from her face to mine while breastfeeding. And I also thought that she would be at newborn-levels of development at her due date, when in fact she's slightly ahead at things that she had to be -- like sucking and seeing, I guess. So that's a funny preemie fact.

We just took a walk up the hill. Not all the way up, but I put her in the Moby, wrapped us both up in layers (very attractive layers, I'm sure), and trudged up to the base-camp of our little mountain, and then up a ways till the wind seemed too strong and I started back. She becomes extremely quiet outside, it's either soothing or terrifying to the point of coma. Now that we're home, she's starting to snort and stir, so I don't have long to type.

The thing about her is that she's no more of a blank slate than I am. She has definite feelings about certain things, as I do; for me, it's the death penalty and abortion rights; for her, it's wet diapers and nipples. But we both make the same caterwauling when we want something. that's darn cool, or will be till we start to butt heads. But who could butt such a cute little head?!

Monday, December 15, 2008

well, this is a new wrinkle

So, what's the most ironic thing that could happen to a sleep-deprived mommy? Funny you should ask. Because last night I had a solid 2-hour chunk of sleep time, and I spent it wondering why I was suddenly an insomniac. What? Who? Where? Why? No! Seriously? Yes.

I cannot express how much I dislike this. I was awake till just before her next feeding, during which I think I started dreaming, because I remember wondering why my child had long squid tentacles for legs. By the 7 am feeding, my brain had ceased working completely, and I handed her over to my husband in a state I can only describe as despraddled. When it was time to wake up and get ready for her opthamologist appointment, i thought I was going to strangle everyone except my baby with my bare hands.

And then, when it was time to come home -- and my home is comfortable, clean, beautiful -- but when it was time to come back to this safe, no airborne-illness haven, I thought I would collapse under the weight of it. I did think the isolation would be fun and relaxing and I still try to think of it that way. And then I fail. And it has only been a week!

Yet when she's snuggled up beside me, I can't do anything but smile. Drifting in and out of fitful near-sleep, i found myself starting awake with my eyes looking directly into hers, both of us heavy-lidded and bewildered, her rounded forehead filling my vision like a velvety full moon. Blink. Blink.

Every woman with a daughter since the beginning of time has made the silent promises I'm making to her now. The trick is to figure out how to keep them.

p.s. she did happily sleep in the co-sleeper for like two hours last night, as I draped myself over the edge of it so I could still curl around her. Ow. The thing is, when she's not fully against my body (or her dad's), she's one of those snorty sleepers, and I don't have the soporific talent to sleep through that. But: progress.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

hooray for mobywrap

Today was wonderfully quiet: Randy took Eli to a birthday party, and Grayson took Max to the movies. It was just me and Penn around the homestead, watching Drumline and listening to the torrential rain outside. Emily had brought over a Moby wrap, which Penelope fit neatly into, so it was easy to putter around the house doing small tasks (nothing too taxing) and just enjoying some quiet. Days like these are what I fantasized about when I thought of having a newborn; it's good that fantasies can come true, at least once a week or so.

I've been feeling weirdly dizzy and woozy the past two nights, but my blood pressure was a perfectly zen 102/75 or thereabouts both times. I think I've found the culprit: to save Randy from waking (and myself from having a zombie husband), I had been sleeping in the living room, but could not do that the past two nights with a full house of stepchildren. I think it's the heat! I think the giant window in the living room makes for coolness, and being in the bedroom means I'm way overheated.

God this is boring. I have to figure out how to say something interesting about this baby business or give up entirely. My sardonic sense of humor, she is shrinked! All I want to do is stare at chubby soft cheeks! Sigh.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Now What?

Good thing I got the co sleeper, btw! Otherwise, where would I put my magazines?!

So: if I'm not going to post obsessive updates on breastfeeding -- and I do not want to do that -- and I am not going to discuss poop -- and you do not want me to do that -- what is there to say? Now I'm just a normal mommy with a normal newborn. Okay, so she's half the size of most of the newborns I've seen, but after the drama of the past weeks, I feel like things are blessedly normal.

I'm a little worried, of course. We're three weeks out from her due date and as far as I can see, she's a normal newborn -- opinionated, insomniac, and kind of codependent, if you ask me. But the popular wisdom says that this is the honeymoon, and that once she hits her due date, she'll be something else. I don't want something else! This is fine! I get 2-3 hour cat naps between feeds, and I'd like to keep those, please! okay? right? who do I write?

well, no sense worrying. whatever happens happens. for now, I'm happy, and very tired. It's hard to understand that I'll have a newborn so much longer than most people, but since I never did it before, I don't know the difference. It's hard to imagine that she'll be six months old, a year, three years old, when for so long all I could do was imagine having her. It boggles my mind that my friends have been doing this for the past eleven years. And I hate that I can't just ask Nurse Chu what to do every five minutes!

Better go see what's happening in the living room. I suspect Randy's fallen asleep in front of what sounds like a Kirk Douglas movie. Is that bad for the baby?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Well, Not Quite

That worked for about 24 hours, and then something happened. I don't know what. She was feeding for about 15-20 minutes at a stretch, every 2 or 3 hours, and that was doing it, but today we got out of our rhythm on account of a doctor's appointment, and suddenly she won't eat for more than 10 minutes and is uber-starving after. Randy took advantage of a nap on my part to sneak some bottled food into her, and she was famished. So we'll figure something out, pumping-wise. Maybe I don't pump after every feed, but I've got ot have some extra milk on handfor when she gets too tired. She's still 3 weeks from her due date; I guess it was a lot to expect, developmentally.

On the upside, she didn't lose weight and may have gained a bit during the nurse-in. And the best part is that it was a reality check on my part. Enough with the doing-doing-doing. I'm not doing-doing-doing anymore. Others can run errands, cook, finish ikea furniture, whatever; my job is to be on Penelope's skedge, in her world, and I'm just not going to do anything anymore that can lead to me saying "just a minute, I have to finish yadda-yadda." We'll figure it out.

Getting 3 hours of sleep at a stretch isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be!

but it's pretty bad.

Anyway, right now she's actually happily sitting in her weird vibrating seat, courtesy of cousin Harry, smoking a binky, and wearing an adorable outfit from Celeste that is not nearly as too-big-for-her as everything else I bought. Win!

Speaking of Harry, he came over today with his maw, my sister Em, and peered curiously at her for a few mintues. Then, determining that she was not a threat -- Em was only demonstrating the Moby wrap -- he ran over at full tilt and sweetly patted her on the head, blurting out something like "Wagoo nanna!" He did this several times! It was really heartwarming. I, of course, burst into tears, as I do ... oh, just about every hour on the hour. Outstanding.

OK, we've run out of vibrating-chair bank -- more soon from the loudest third trimester ever.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nurse-In for Milk

So things are a total blur around here! We're sleeping in shifts, as it seems we used up all our "put down the baby" bank in the last 6 weeks and P won't put up with any more of THAT nonsense, boy howdy. So she's on my chest or Randy's, checking for heartbeats, and mostly happy except when she's got a diaper issue or a hunger issue.

Speaking of the latter, the first stretch of days back were a bit complicated in terms of feedings. I was sure she wasn't getting enough out of me, as she ended each breastfeeding session with a round of rooting and whimpering, so I'd give her a bottle (breast or formula, whatever I had) and feed her into a coma-like state. Every feeding went like this: leave her on each side for 30 minutes (that's each), hand her off to Randy for a bottle, pump. By the time I was done it was usually time to start again, because I'd be running around sterilizing bottles or pump supplies in the meantime, and it was really awful having to dread the end of nursing because I'd have to hand her over (you were a BAD NURSER, give me that baby!) and hook myself up to the machine I detest so deeply, anxiously estimating how much she might have gotten based on the output.

I never could even start nursing when I wanted, because of the stupid nipple shield, which I know I was happy about a week ago but now I hate it. I was just tired of all this stuff getting between me and my baby, so yesterday afternoon I started my Nurse-In. Got in bed, nursed. If she still seems hungry, nurse more. When she's done, keep her on me and grab a cat nap -- none of this whisking-her-away nonsense. And so far, so good: She seems satisfied, she doesn't root at the end of her meals, she naps happily, and her diapers are wet. We see the doctor tomorrow, so I'll anxiously and obsessively ask him if she seems dehydrated or didn't gain enough ozzes and libs. I really hope this is the right thing to do.

Yes, I'm more tired, but less frustrated and stressed, so that's a tradeoff I can live with. AUGH! I just looked in the mirror. No pictures today, friends!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

we're home we're home ohmigod we're home we're home we're home we're home we're home ohmigod we're home we're home we're home we're home ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod we're home we're home we're home we're home ohmigod we're home ohmigod we're home we're home we're home we're home ohmigod we're home we're home we're home we're home home home we're home we're home we're home home home ohmigod we're home ohmigod we're home


We interrupt this hospital-preemie blog to bring you... a homecoming dance!

More later, but yesterday morning I got a call from the NICU asking if I wanted to room in "tonight." "Tonight?" "Yes, parents can room in the night before their baby is discharged in case they have any issues or questions." "But tomorrow's Saturday ..." "Oh, nobody told you?"


The rest of the day was a blur of getting the cleaners to come a day early, clearing clutter, building the rest of the changing table, getting A MILLION THINGS from my amazing sister (car seat! bjorn! bassinette! but wait there's more!), getting her medicine from the pharmacy... and going in to unhook her from the monitor. I wanted to take her home right then and there, but cooler heads prevailed (the big hairy head, if you must know) and the upshot is right now I'm getting dressed and WE ARE GOING TO PICK UP OUR BABY.

Yay! Wait! WHat? AUGH! YIKES! BUT YAY! etc.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holy Crap, I'm the Mom

Sad but true: Everyone seems to have the "holy crap, I'm the mom" moment, and I had mine just a few days ago. There's this one nurse, Chu, whom I would dearly love to take home. She's made it her business to be on with Penn as often as possible and I really feel so comfortable with her. She's reassuring and encouraging and knows how to strike the right tone -- good qualities in anyone, but especially in a nurse working with unsure parents of fragile bebes.

Anyway, I was fretting because the onesie Penelope was wearing had touched dirty laundry. So not a big deal in the real world, but in the NICU, with a kid who'd had a sepsis due to contamination mere weeks before and who has no immune system whatsoeer, it's actually something to be considered. Fret fret fret. I kept asking Chu, "Do I worry or do I just change her? I don't have anything to change her into. What do I do?" And she just didn't have an answer for me.

Because really, it's not her job to have an answer. Her answer was probably "It's fine, for Chrissake!" except that she'd never in a million years say such a thing -- and also, that answer could leave her liable if I left her in the onesie, she got another infection, and I insisted that it was all her fault. Her job is to be ubercautious.

In the end, I changed the onesie -- bfd. But the point of the story is, I just realized, after a while, that Chu couldn't make this decision for me. It was a tiny point and life is going to be full of them and I can't go running to a nurse every time, even though I had a preemie, even though I legitimately needed to know certain things at one point. I have to wean myself off of Chu (and Laurie, and Sarah, and Sue...) the way we weaned P off of the isolette.

It's like the other day, when my friend Rebecca said that even now, with her daughter now a toddler, she wonders who people are talking about when they say "the mom and dad." every time, she gets a little frisson of "oh! crap! they're not talking about my mom -- they mean me! I'm the mom. Right!" Sad as it is, at 41, I still kind of expect to not be the decider. Well, that's over. I'm deciderific.

Anyway. Check out this week's New York Times Magazine -- the woman on the cover is Alex Kuczynski, formerly of Six Milks, my college's comedy troupe. Oddly, this is not mentioned in her bio. Anyway, it's a funny, touching, affecting piece about her becoming a mom via a surrogate. The surrogate is older than me! She's just better at being pregnant! And/but she sounds like an amazing person. I was particularly touched at Alex's revelation that some friends expressed envy that she could have someone else carry her child. I loved being pregnant, I had an easy birth (well, except for the whole "holy shit, is my baby going to survive" stress), but I know how terrifying it is to think of losing control, to know your favorite bits will be stressed, stretched and possibly torn, and to have your body taken over. I wouldn't go so far as to express envy, but I understand both sides. Oh, and she has a kind and thoughtful husband -- just go read it.

Now that you've made it to the end of the blog entry (good for YOU!) you get a little surprise. Penelope's homecoming is imminent -- maybe as early as Sunday, probably Monday. I have a shit-ton to get done before that -- get a cleaning crew in here, finish the changing table, move the bookcase, for three. Go to the garage sale. Get the car seat and have it properly installed by the policemans. I can't think of the rest but i think it's going to be a lot.

ANd then I'm basically stuck here at home for a month. It's feast or famine: either I have to go out every single day just to see my kid, or I am on house arrest hoping to keep her safe. Randy's starting his leave on monday so at least we'll be able to hang out together. oh. oh my gosh. OH wow. So... wow!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

She Looks Big to Me

The thing that's hard to remember with this kid is that she's still small, she's still fragile, and she's still a month out from being officially born. By all rights, she should be peering at me from an ultrasound, not a bassinet. The 8th month is when moms say "you know, the baby could come now and everything would be fine," and everyone around them says "stop that! you don't want the baby to come this early, it could have all sorts of issues." Penelope is still a preemie.

But from my point of view, she's huge -- almost a pound and a half bigger than when she was born. She makes eye contact (albeit briefly). She moves and picks up her head, shrieks like a banshee when I don't hold her the way she likes in the bath, and grasps fingers, binkies, and my iPhone wires for fun. She breastfeeds, for heaven's sake. Compared to where she was a month ago, she's Bam-Bam Rubble. So what's the fuss?

She's very close to coming home, and I have to grab the reins on my runaway motherhood and slow down. It is so hard to see her the way she really is, and give her time to catch up. It's not that I expect more from her than she can give -- it's that i'm so optimistic, I worry that I'll be too cavalier. On the other hand, I'm not afraid to handle her, not worried I'll break her -- from early on I was able to handle her IVs and leads with a decent amount of self-confidence, and I don't want to lose that.

She's just so awfully spunky. I vacillate wildly between "this is going to be so great" and "holy crap I'm going to screw this up so utterly." fun to be me!

Monday, December 1, 2008

mmm. fingerrrrs.

Penelope's cousin Gabriella sucked her second and third fingers when she was a beebee... so did her mom, Elizabeth. Is this a coincidence, or is Penelope following suit?

She's back over 5 pounds! I'm not depending on breastfeeding to fill her up -- we do 20 minutes, and then she gets a bottle, and then I pump. So she practices, but then we make sure to get the food in her -- and it's a lot of work, but so far, she seems to be gaining in spite of the calorie-burning hard work. I didn't check to be sure, but I don't think she's had a tube in the last day ... I'll check in the morning. That's the key here: she has to get strong enough to eat, one way or the other.

She had another bath tonight -- this time Daddy did the honors, and she really wasn't any happier about it. Sheesh! And let me tell you, for such a little pipsqueak, she has a big holler. Did someone say preemies have lung issues?! Penelope didn't get the memo.

Wish I had more energy to get the house ready. That would really help. You know, in the olden days, they gave new moms speed to help them lose the baby weight! can I get in on that? is it bad for breastfeeding? maybe i could just breastfeed really really fast.