{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} – Call Week Edition

PRETTY

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That might look like just any old cute baby slurping on her fingers, but really it’s a huge milestone. This little one came home from the NICU with a severe gag reflex. 3.5 months of ventilators, CPAP gear, and feeding tubes will, understandably, make an infant pretty sensitive to anything around her head, nose, or mouth. We struggled with her feedings for months. She wanted to eat, but regularly choked or thrust the bottle out of her mouth. She gagged constantly and sent massive spit-ups out her nose that left her gasping and requiring suctioning. Because she wouldn’t put anything in her mouth, her primary method of self-soothing was (and is) holding her hand flat over her face and licking her palm (it’s adorable). It took many months of careful work before her gag reflex relaxed enough for regular easy feedings. A month or two ago she started hooking one finger just inside her lip occasionally. From there, she worked up to sucking on a finger and licking toys. A week ago I turned around from changing one of the twins’ diapers and there she was, contentedly bouncing in her infant seat and slurping away on her whole hand. She’s pretty, and we’re pretty happy!

Also not surprisingly, 3.5 months in the NICU left her with a squished and lop-sided head (plus a malformed ear and flattened nose from her CPAP headgear). When her head measurements did not show any improvement after months of therapy and home positioning she earned her very own helmet for skull molding. It’s been a (very) rocky transition (see the above section about “hating anything on her head or face after months of breathing support”) but we’re getting there and finally seeing our happy-go-lucky baby reemerging from the crankiness. We’re also very glad that all she needed in the end was a helmet for a cosmetic issue. Before everyone settled on the helmet we spent months passing between her therapist, pediatrician, testing, and neurosurgery as the floated questions like premature suture closure, hydrocephalus, and surgery. Just a helmet? Just fine.

HAPPY

IMG_7200 IMG_7198We finally got some winter(ish) weather here. It looks like snow in the pictures, but was really ice. Our ice day coincided with the Man’s day off. After eight brutal days of hospital call where I barely saw his face and he only saw the kids awake once we were so happy to have him home. Besides, nobody wants to get on the road with a bunch of southern drivers after an ice storm; they have no clue what they’re doing! With the Man off work, the baby’s appointment cancelled, Annie’s therapy rescheduled, and nothing on the calendar we enjoyed a peaceful winter day together. We made waffles for breakfast, then played outside with the kids. The kids loved the ice, despite frequent faceplants from slipping. Later we read, enjoyed more family time, bathed the kids, and kicked back with a movie after we’d packed the little folk off to bed.

FUNNY

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Is it just me, or does my youngest sometimes resemble the Grumpy Cat internet meme? She’s the happiest baby you ever met, but the weight of those enormously chubby cheeks does tend to drag her face down into an expression of disapproval…

REAL

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This most recent eight day stretch of hospital call nearly did us in. Can we get holiness points if we just call it early extreme Lenten penitence? Five days of crippling pregnancy headaches plus eight days of pregnancy exhaustion plus minimal sleep plus three kids plus one cranky sleepless baby in a new helmet plus a crazy patient load = Mom sick alone with the kids and Dad at work exhausted for the hardest stretch in many months. As a snapshot, in one week the twins broke: 1) a crib, 2) a rocking chair, 3) a window frame, 4) the elliptical, and 5) several toys. And then, of course, there was the Aquaphor incident. One headachy day I finally had a little time to take a nap while the kids all slept. I woke to odd thumps coming from the twins’ room. This, it turned out, was the day my son learned to climb out of his crib. With his unsupervised freedom he found an open bulk vat of Aquaphor and proceeded to smear it over his whole room: floor, the oriental rug, the furniture, his clothing and bedding, the diaper basket, and his head all received a generous coating. Significant cleaning and one impromptu home haircut later my son’s head looks a bit motheaten but things are mostly tidied up. Like I said…rough week. We’re all so happy to be back to our regular non-hospital call routine!

For more {p,h,f,r} entries please visit Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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9 thoughts on “{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} – Call Week Edition

  1. I just discovered your blog through Like Mother, Like Daughter. I’m glad I did. I’ve really enjoyed the posts I have read. Your babies are beautiful. I’m sorry to confess that I laughed over the Aquafore incident. I know it wasn’t funny for you…eventually it will be.

    I’m curious about your adoptions, were they domestic or international. How did you go about it? Did it cost tens of thousands of dollars? Hope you don’t mind the questions. Thanks.

    • I laughed too, once the headache went away. Aquaphor is a bear to clean up, though! Like vaseline and other diaper creams it’s designed to be impermeable to water…not that helpful when you’re trying to clean it up and it’s just smearing further.

      Our adoptions were all domestic. They were all a little unusual in that they were fast and that the adoption agency at least in part sought us out versus the other way around. We were still only researching agencies and interviewing them/reading their materials when our agency contacted us. We’d interviewed them and so they knew that we were theoretically open to adopting twins/other races/any gender. We weren’t signed with them or anyone yet, but they thought of us when they realized that they didn’t have enough interested waiting/signed families open to boy/girl African American twins due in two months. We rushed our paperwork, the birthmom picked us a month later, and, with some hiccups we adopted them when they were two months old. The same agency contacted us two years later even though we were (again) not signed or actively working on an adoption because they knew we were open to other races/special needs adoptions, and they didn’t have any interested signed waiting families to adopt a baby girl who was born at 26 weeks gestation. Yes, adoptions are definitely expensive – typically the up-front cost for domestic runs between $25,000 to $35,000, while international typically runs from that range and up. Adoption from foster care is often free or relatively inexpensive (a couple thousand). However, the up-front cost is rarely what a family ends up paying in the end. The federal adoption tax credit typically runs around $13,000, your state may have a significant adoption tax credit as well (e.g. 50% of the federal credit), many companies have adoption reimbursement (mine gave $5000 per adoption, the Army also chipped in from my husband’s side), and there are often grants or state subsidies available, especially for special needs.adoptions. In the end, all that can easily add up to $20-$30k. Every case is different.

    • Thanks! Things are much better now that my husband is back on a clinic rotation. Two parents, if only for an hour each evening, makes a world of difference!

  2. Aw, the first photo is so sweet! What a big milestone!

    It is so hard when my husband works late multiple nights in a row. The nights feel SO long and the kids miss him just as much as me. Hope you have some respite soon!

    • Thanks – he’s back on a normal rotation now. We were all very happy to see him for dinner last night! I don’t know about your kids, but when mine miss Daddy, one of them in particular shows it by acting out – constant misbehaviour, defiance, and tantrums. It’s so hard as a parent to find the balance between expecting obedience and having compassion on a two year old who doesn’t really have the verbal or mental capacity to process why she’s feeling the way she does.

  3. It does sound like a rough week. Your little sweetie is doing so well to wear that head gear – it can’t be fun when your just learning to hold you head up to add another weight to it:)

    Hope your headaches etc are gradually easing. The aquaphor incident sounds like a worse version of Tom Kitten’s naptime work yesterday. Ginger came into my room where I had been napping (since I am the only one in the house who still does!) to say Tom Kitten had made a big mess. I just dismissed it because he always does make a rather big mess. Went in to discover nappies (diapers) strewn from one end of the room to the other and sudacrem smeared on the cupboards. I thought I had the pot of sudacrem high enough he couldn’t reach it…..but apparently if you stand on the rocking horse, step on to the second shelf of your bookcase it’s possible! At least it wasn’t in his hair though…….

    • Oh goodness…nice to know my toddlers aren’t the only ones fingerpainting this week. We lucked out a bit because the twins were both very late climbers. I have friends whose babies starting climbing bookshelves and getting into things on the counter at nine months (well before even a smidgen of mental discretion or obedience has solidified). The twins really only started trying to get onto higher stuff (e.g., the kitchen table) about three months ago. Now that they’re up there, though, I’m running out of places to put things out of their reach. So funny that you initially dismissed Ginger’s warning because he always makes a mess. That really does summarize toddlers, doesn’t it?

  4. Pingback: Barbershop Quartet | Yellow Pencil Stub

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