The Episode in Which Michelle is Milked Like a Cow

>> 11.30.2009

I don't believe that you have to be a cow to know what milk is.
Ann Landers

So.. yesterday, I walked into the NICU and heard the 5 words I have been dreading for some time now: "We are out of milk."
The freezer was packed with frozen breast milk for Liam.. however, his feedings have gone up and up and up and, obviously this is fantastic, but on the other side of things- my milk supply has gone down and down and down and as I watched the frozen backup dwindle away, I knew the day was coming when I would have to start attempting to actually keep up with him. Ug.

Liam does NOT want formula!

I am not entirely sure what to do. Advice is welcome. I am pumping every 3 hours for 15-20 minutes. I am drinking like a fish. I am taking Fenugreek and doing my best to eat a nutritious diet.. and I consider myself lucky if I get an ounce at every pumping. I started out doing very well.. but now my body seems to be doing it's absolute best to dry out. I tried increasing pumping to every 2 hours but this didn't do anything except make me ridiculously sore. They have already had to cut Liam's milk with formula once and I hated it. He spit up way more than usual and... the entire concept of putting fake milk into his little body makes me uncomfortable. I plan on talking to the lactation consultant today or tomorrow if things don't pick up.. but I will take all the advice I can get.

Other than being a hungry little sucker and stressing his Mama out, Liam is doing FANTASTIC. He has been completely off his cannula for two days now (pictures of his precious cannula free face soon) and has only had a couple of mild spells. His oxygen saturation hovers between 90-100% most of the time.. with absolutely no help at all! He is kind of amazing.


His weight is still hanging out around 3 lbs. because he is a little bit too wild for his own good. They have started swaddling him to try to reduce his movement and keep him from burning so many calories- they are also supplementing my milk in an attempt to fatten him up.

We have been holding him every day.. and loving every minute of it- something tells me he enjoys it too.


We know that it is highly unlikely.. but we can't help but hope that we will have him home for Christmas- what a present that would be!

I hope everyone has a blessed holiday and is looking forward to this wonderful season!

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More Flying of Time.

>> 11.27.2009

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
William Shakespeare


Liam [and Mama and Papa] are feeling shocked at the realization that he is ONE MONTH OLD TODAY! And while he still quite tiny, he is also very mighty- and he surprises us every day with how quickly he is changing.

For now, it appears that Liam Eliot is headed down the path that will lead him home. We still have a long way to go but every day that passes is a day behind us. This experience has certainly been a lesson in patience. Liam is teaching us to count every moment as a blessing and to search for every small victory in those moments.[Sigh. Teaching us things at a month old- just who does he think he is?.... Well, I suppose we were destined for a know-it-all. You understand if you have met his Papa. ]

We are quite eager to bring our little one home. There is so much life to be living and world to be exploring; so many things we want to share with him and love we need to smother him in. However, as the days go by and we watch Liam began to grow and thrive- rather than simply struggling to survive, the waiting is getting easier because we are beginning to see the end more clearly.

And it is looking like a happily ever after.



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Gobble.Gobble.

>> 11.26.2009

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.
W.J. Cameron

Oh, happy day of gluttony! Wait... you mean there is a meaning behind this day besides gorging oneself on massive quantities of food- turkey and stuffing and pie, oh my!- and then propelling your massive body forward onto the nearest soft surface to watch large men in tight pants give each other concussions over an oddly shaped ball? WHY DIDN'T ANYBODY TELL ME!?!

We have a lot to be thankful for this holiday. A lot, a lot. So much that it would take a thousand words... so... you know what they say about pictures. Here are the things I am most grateful for:

Liam Eliot- my sweet little button [now weighing 2 lbs 15 oz; breathing easy and growing like a weed- well, a very cute weed... maybe a dandelion or something]

We have our own little turkey this Thanksgiving.
And apparently our little turkey is already a great, big ham!
[Another thing to be grateful for. I occasionally get lonely in my hamming. It will be nice to have the company. I don't know how many times I heard my dad say, "Put that tongue away before I rip it off!" Huh... Wow... that is... really violent- I never thought about how violent that was before. You know what, Liam? You stick that tongue out! Wiggle it around a little. Enjoy life! ]




And finally...My boys. I am very, very, very grateful for my boys.



Happy Thanksgiving from the Haddock Clan!

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Words? What Words?

>> 11.25.2009

I don't generally subscribe to "Wordless Wednesday" on account of I like to talk to much... and because whenever Wednesday rolls around I get so disappointed because I know that most of the blogs I follow will be lacking in the witty banter and words of wisdom I so enjoy and look forward to. I confess: I do not like Wordless Wednesday. Don't hate me, internet.

However, today... I am holed up in the library working on a massive paper that is due... oh, a week ago or so... and cannot [cannot, cannot, cannot] waste the many minutes [ok, HOURS] I usually do on browsing/blogging/messaging/etc. I MUST FOCUS! On Robert Lowell and his gosh-darn confessional antics. Also.. there is not much to update you on in the way of Liam- nothing is changing today. He is still doing quite well. So.. I will cocede just this once to participate in Wordless Wednesday- although.. I suppose I have already broken the rules with this rather long, rambling introduction.

I am going to share with you one of the first pictures ever taken of me and my love:

2007.

I could stand to lose a few pounds and Ryan could stand to gain a few, Mr. Bones. But.. man.. was life simple. We had just found each other and had no idea what craziness was in store for us yet. In just a few weeks, life would start to get messy- and sometimes I would wonder what I had gotten myself into. We have yet to get ourselves cleaned up. It has been one thing after another after another... and there are times we just look at each other and wonder when we will get a break. But... I love my messy life with Ryan. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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grati-tuesday

>> 11.24.2009

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
G.B. Stern

So.. I just have to take a moment to say that my little rock star [who I held yesterday- don't know if I mentioned that at all. It was just this little thing that happened. No biggie.] is 4 weeks old today... and that is amazing to me. On Friday, we will be able to say we are the proud parents of a 1 month old- which is strange because in my head I still label him in gestational weeks [of which he is 33 as of last Saturday].

For the most part, Liam is doing quite well. We have not heard another peep from the yeast infection so the antibiotics are doing their job. He is on room air and his cannula is down to 2 liters which he is tolerating pretty fantastically. He is getting most of his nutrition directly from breast milk now- they cut way back on his fluids and he is not receiving any fats or proteins at all through his IV anymore. His blood sugar has been running a bit low since the switch and he lost 2 oz... but we have been assured he will work it all out. When we call to check on him we mostly just hear about his "behavioral issues" now- he is constantly pulling out his cannula because he can no longer get to his feeding tube; they ran it down his nose because he was forever pulling it out of his mouth.. and his vent is taped quite firmly to his face. So, he yanks on the cannula.. and somehow manages to tie his monitor wires in knots.. and, at one point, propelled himself off his bed and into the crevice between the wall of his isolette and his bed's platform. He is even able to get his head up when he is laying on his belly... which he has no business doing this early.

Man.. I am in trouble.

Ah, well... I will enjoy my little troublemaker. On to my gratitude for the day: today... I am taking a moment to be grateful for... education.

After Liam was born I was pretty sure I would not be graduating in December as planned.. but my professors surprised me by allowing me to do everything from home. Today is a good day to remember how grateful I should be for that opportunity.. or really, just the opportunity to get an education at all because today.. I have to right a 15 page paper and I am not feeling particularly grateful about it.

Going to college has never been easy- academically, it was not a real problem, but financially was another story- and I even had a scholarship! It was always stressful attempting to juggle work (sometimes two jobs- one time 3!) and school. There were many times when I started to wonder how worth it that little piece of paper really was. When I decided to switch my major and tack on an extra few semesters, I often thought about giving up.. and when I got pregnant with Liam... it really called the entire thing into question because the desire of my heart is to stay at home and take care of my family (you can read about that here) and no one was going to ask to see my diploma before hiring me for that job. However, I really am grateful that I was able to go to college... that I have somehow found a second [and third and fourth and fifth... and many more] wind when I felt like giving up.. and that, in spite of recent life events, I have been given the opportunity to cross the finish line.

There is still a light at the end of the tunnel. There is just a 15 page paper, a portfolio, about 73 Latin poem and story translations, a test, another test, and another test... standing in the way. Today, I am grateful for the opportunity.. and I am praying that in a few weeks.. I will be grateful that I am a college graduate!

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and He really, really, REALLY loves me.

>> 11.23.2009

So.. remember last post when I talked about finding Liam's crib set for $15.00 and how awesome it was and how it seemed like that was pretty much the greatest thing EVER?!

Well... scratch that.

It cannot be the greatest thing ever because the greatest thing ever just happened to me. Right now. Right this very minute.

For real this time.

Tonight......

I held Liam. I really and truly held him.... for a very long time.


I started to type out the whole story- how the nurse was so surprised and a bit angry that no one had let me hold him yet and how light he was in my arms and how he just stared at me quietly until he drifted off to sleep... but then I realized that I like that it is my story. I did not have a camera and no one was there to watch me.. and I am so glad. I am glad that it was just me and him in that quiet corner of the hospital. It is a memory that I will always have all to myself- one that I will relive often when I am cleaning his skinned knees, and wiping his runny nose, and kissing him good-night. It is what I will remember the first time he goes to school... and when takes a girl to a dance...and drives off in his first car.. and goes to college and.... when I kiss him on his wedding day.. and the first time I hold his baby.

It will always just be me and him in the quiet corner of the hospital.

Best. Day. Ever.

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There is a God.. and He Loves Me!!

God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

So.. remember a couple of posts ago when I talked about my Wii Fit Plus and how awesome it was that I could use it and how it seemed like that was pretty much the greatest thing EVER?!

Well... scratch that.

It cannot be the greatest thing ever because the greatest thing ever just happened to me. Right now. Right this very minute.

Ryan and I decided to do a bird theme in Liam's room long before he was born. Not a typical cutesy baby bird theme... more of an Etsy, crafty bird theme... in chocolate brown and sage green. In my head.. it looks marvelous. Unfortunately, there was one slight problem with this plan: apparently.. someone decided that birds are for girls...and didn't send me the memo. WTF? I must have clocked a good 47 hours, 22 minutes, and 56 seconds (not that I was counting) looking for bird themed nursery items that were not slathered in pink and surrounded by gigantic multi-color flowers! It was rather frustrating.

Early on, we stumbled across this crib set pictured to the right at Babies R Us. In most ways... it was just right. The colors are gorgeous, it is organic cotton, and the nature pattern would work perfectly... except... [there is always an except in my life] for the random green bunny rabbits that are scattered in various places.

There was great rending of clothes and knashing of teeth. To be fair, it is called Bunny Meadow... so.. it isn't like we weren't warned.... but it was just so disappointing.

So skip forward a few months- you know... watch my belly grow in super speed, ROC, pre-e, hospital, IV, [tonight? Thursday? tonight? Thursday?] TONIGHT- Ah! epideral, surgery, Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, dear Liam...... roller coaster blood pressures, 8 days later, go home..... waiting... waiting... baby shower (remind me to tell you about that! It was great fun!) and STOP!

Right here.

We went to that baby mega superstore we all know and love to make a couple of [reluctant] returns. And there, right before my very eyes.... is the display version of the Bunny Meadow crib set... on the clearance rack for $80 less than it's original $200. And suddenly.. bunnies did not seem so bad. But I still could not decided- I thought, and thought, and thought, and thought--- but I just really couldn't decide and Ryan still seemed slightly reluctant so.. we left.

That night, I could not get those damn green bunnies out of my head! I searched the internet high and low for something in our price range that would work better to no avail. I tossed and turned... I thought about how the bunnies and birds could be friends- I mean.. it isn't like we are talking OWLS here, and finally, I looked at Ryan and stuck out my bottom lip ever-so-tantalizingly and said, "You know, baby... there are only a FEW little bunny rabbits. Just a few. That's not so bad, is it?!" And he sighed at me and shrugged his shoulders...and sighed some more... and inevitably gave in because he loves me so [and maybe because his sex life hangs in the balance so precariously these days]. So.. I went back today with a coupon I got in the mail, some store credit and Ryan's blessing.

And here is where it gets REALLY good:

The cashier rang up the set and it was NOT $122 as I thought- it was $86! Then it suddenly became $68 because any clearance item that was over $200 originally got another 20% off. THEN I gave the nice lady my own coupon and it was $40-ish. Then I cashed in my store credit. Guess how much I paid out-of-pocket for that crib set? Just guess? JUST GUESS?!

Fifteen dollars! FIFTEEN DOLLARS!

And now.. those bunnies are looking pretty freaking awesome.

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Further Proof...

...that in spite of the fact that I am not yet dealing with 3 a.m. feedings or the bleeding ears due to infant tantrums or the burping/diapering/wiping/hugging/snuggling/juggling of parenthood... I am already a mama:


Oh, look... he's awake. Time to take 5 million pictures of his face!

OMG. Seriously...he basically makes the cutest expressions.
Ever. In the entire history of... expressions. Look at THAT FACE!!! It is entirely irresistible.

And this one!! I mean... he looks so serious and thoughtful and maybe a little perplexed... but he is a just a baby... and that is Just. Freaking. CUTE.

And man... his head looks SO big in this picture. It might be the angle... but it's probably because he has so much brain crammed in there. I mean.. those are some serious brains.

Look how he knows how to hold my hand- he should still be sucking amniotic fluid and here he is HOLDING MY HAND- obviously, he is a genius.

Definitely a genius.. because when I put in his binkie in his mouth...

He sucks on it.. because HE IS A GENIUS! And a rockstar.

An adorable mini-rockstar genius who makes the best expressions ever in the history of expressions.

And he is mine.

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Let's Get It On

>> 11.19.2009

At my doctor's appointment yesterday my doctor said- and I quote, "you can do pretty much anything you want to do- I'm not worried about it hurting you. Just... no stomach crunches quite yet."


OMFG-Really?! Really?!

My mouth must have been hanging open because he just sort of smiled and patted my shoulder gently and shoved me out the door. I started to say, "..but it's only been three weeks." Then, just in time, I had this flashback of the second grade when the teacher forgot to write the homework on the board and this stupid girl in the third row with this big, massive red bow in her hair [that her mom collected at these ridiculous bow parties left over from the 80's which were still cool in Texas because, let's be honest, Texas is the 80's bitch- and honestly, these parties were just an excuse for the moms to get together and gossip but the little girls all had to suffer the teased bangs and outlandish head ornaments long after Mrs. and Mr. Grinshaw stopped going to therapy and Mr. Patterson's secretary had their illegitimate love child - how is that fair?!] raised her hand three minutes before the bell rang and asked why there was no homework on the board and the teacher said, "Why thank you Michelle- I almost forgot." And sometimes, late at night, when it is very quiet I- I mean SHE... can still hear the chanting of "teacher's pet, teacher's pet" echo eerily off the walls. So... I slapped my hand over my big, fat, stupid mouth just in time and got my butt out of there.

You know what this means, right? You know... WHAT.THIS. MEANS. RIGHT?!

I have been waiting for this day and although it has come sooner than I expected, it could not come soon enough. My heart was pitter-pattering- I was walking on air. My mouth watered- I was practically trembling with desire. I have been so deprived and the deprivation was about to end. The elation could hardly be contained.

I came home and told my husband and he looked at me in awe. Life just got a little bit more awesome.


Today.... today.....

Today, I hooked up my Wii.
It was everything I hoped it would....and so much more.

What?
Oooooohhhhhhhh.... you didn't think I was going to say... [S. E. X.] did you? Get your filthy mind out of the gutter. Gosh.

Ryan got me Wii Fit Plus as a coming home present a couple days after I got out of the hospital. I know that it was more than likely just an excuse because he has been pretty much gunning for a Wii since they first came out.. but he gets the points anyway. I have been so excited to use it and today I set it all up.

For the most part, I loved it. It was mildly depressing when I weighed myself and the little scale made disapproving noises at me. I did not want to know how much I was gaining during my pregnancy because I tend to get weird about it and that was just one more thing I would have to stress over so.. this was my first time facing my weight since Liam's existence was discovered. It appears that I gained 22 pounds during my pregnancy [24.2 pounds with Liam. Ha.] and so 22 pounds I shall lose. I set my goal for three months- which is a little steep- about 3 lbs a week... but I want to see how I do the first week and adjust from there.

Well, anyway- that is my news for today.
You can't see me but I am shaking my head at you and your dirty gutter mind disapprovingly. Tisk, tisk.

And now.. I am going to see my son.

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Breathe, Little One

>> 11.18.2009

Breathing is the greatest pleasure in life.
Giovanni Papini

It appears that Liam too is wondering what in the world is going on! (Excuse the quality of these pictures- they were taken on my phone.) Yesterday, he started breathing too quickly so they did a chest x-ray which came back "hazy" [quite the technical terminology]. He is back up to 4 liters of oxygen and has started "chest compression therapy" to move the fluid around and prevent pneumonia.

I found some information on lung problems in premature infants here and, of course, Liam, being very white and very much a boy, is at a greater risk for lung complications.

I think the hardest part is that every little complication, every time Liam has a set-back, it extends the time before he will be able to come home. When these things happen everyone assures me that he will be fine... and I appreciate the words of comfort because I want more than anything else for him to be fine. But, on a very selfish level, I also want him home! I want to be able to hold him. I even just want to see him graduate to the back row, make it into an open bassinet and be considered a feeder/grower, and not just for his sake [though mostly, of course, for his sake] but also for my own sake...because I hardly remember what it feels like to take a deep breath anymore. Living your life on pins and needles is hard. And kind of pointy.

Every time we walk in and his oxygen has gone up or he has had a large residual or whatever the case may be, I watch the 6 weeks stretch to 8... then to 12...and so on. I am already so sick of the NICU and we have only been there for 22 days. There are babies stuck there for 222 days. And obviously, I would take the 222 days over the alternative if it is necessary... but I just get so very tired thinking about it. Big. Fat. Sigh.

Okay.. I am now choosing to stop all this negativity. On the other side of things, watching Liam transform from fetus to baby before my very eyes is pretty amazing. Of course, I would much rather NOT be watching it while it happens inside of me but since I have no other choice, I have to say.. it is really cool. He has gone from this wrinkled, tiny, pink, sleeping lump of a thing to an active, alert and not so wrinkled [but still very tiny] baby... in a mere 3 weeks! It is incredible.

For instance, the banner at the top of this blog was taken 3 days after Liam was born. It is already ridiculously out of date. He looks completely different. It is rather amazing.


He is also becoming much more aware of his surroundings and in one nurse's words, quite the busy-body. He is constantly yanking at his tubes and wires. He managed to pull his feeding tube completely out the other day and I swear I saw a look of satisfaction on his little face... until, of course, it was shoved right back down his throat- and then... he was PISSED.

His little hands are into everything. He also makes sure everyone is aware of how he feels about things- his night nurse told us that he is starting to get very mad when they mess with him because he has been messed with so much. He also fusses when his diaper is dirty because little princes' bottoms should not suffer contact with such filth for even the briefest of minutes, you know.

He has learned to suck!! And works a pacifier like a rockstar. [Yes, that massive one in the picture above. Except it isn't really massive at all. It just looks massive in comparison to his peanut head. And it's all vanilla scented and fancy.] He also tries very hard to make eye contact with whoever is talking to him... on the rare occasions he can be bothered to wake up enough to listen, that is.

Yesterday, I walked in and peeked into his isolette to find him staring at the ceiling with a look of wonder on his face. I sat next to him for a long time, just watching his eyes wander around the room, taking in all this sensory input that he would not be experiencing in the womb. His arms waved...his feet kicked. He opened his mouth- he closed his mouth. He pulled on his ears. He blinked and winked and rolled his eyes. Finally, he scrunched up his face and pitched a fit... or, you know, a squeak. [All of that cuteness was actually just Liam's way of filling his diaper.] So I changed him and talked to him and loved on him as best as I could... and he watched me the entire time with his big, dark eyes.

If you are pregnant... take a moment to be completely amazed that this is happening inside of you. All of these things I am watching Liam learn, your little one is learning before he or she is even born! It is almost unbelievable.

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grati-tuesday

>> 11.17.2009

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.
Margret Cousins

I was very productive today. So productive that I am posting my gratitude with a mere hour to spare!

So, what was a so busy doing? I know you are simply dying to know...
I did laundry (which my gorgeous husband in now in the process of folding because he is wonderful). I also washed the bedsheets and quilt and made them fresh and clean. I began the daunting process of sorting through Liam's room and washed the clothes we already have for him in the fancy hypoallergenic baby detergent. Then I planned out some meals for the week, wrote up a shopping list and went grocery shopping for the first time in, quite literally, months! It is amazing how much more I appreciate simple things- like the ability to wash our clothes and cook at home. Going a couple of months without appliances was good for me, I think. I no longer see these things as chores- I see them as privileges [Heh.. I wonder how long THAT will last.]

I also spent a good bit of time at the NICU with Liam. He is still doing pretty good. His breathing was a bit more labored today so he has a chest x-ray scheduled for the morning. He also had quite a large residual from his evening feeding [though in all fairness, they moved him up to 4 ml. an hour- quite a bit for a little guy] so they are giving his tummy a little break to see if he needs some more digestion time. Also, he is up to 2 lbs, 14.5 oz.. but his night nurse said this is not a good thing. She believes it is fluid retention and is hoping he will actually lose weight tonight. Part of me is still holding out hope that it is good, healthy weight gain... because he has been gaining so steadily since birth. He dipped from 990 grams to 880 in the first week (as is to be expected) and it has been all up hill from there, excluding one small hiccup. Maybe he is just a miracle grower? A girl can dream.

Anyway.. on to my gratitude:
Today, in logical sequence from last week's post, I am taking a moment to be grateful for my wonderful, beautiful, kindhearted, sensitive, thoughtful, talented, funny, creative, smart, sexy, laundry-folding machine of a man. The list could go on because he is amazing.

This experience has shown me aspects of Ryan's character I probably never would have known otherwise....and it leaves me in awe. How in the world did I end up with this wondrous creature?! Really...tell me. I want to know. Maria took the words right out of my mouth; I must have done something majorly saintly.. at some point.. in my life.. that I don't even remotely remember.. because maybe I was on drugs or something....but damn saintly, nonetheless. [P.s.- I've never actually done drugs. I'm quite a goody-two-shoes if I am perfectly honest about it. No need for an intervention or anything.]


He does so many incredible things- and looks so good doing them. Yes ladies, he has personality, charm, and dashing good looks. Also, he is amazing in bed. Be jealous. Be jealous.. but keep your hands to yourself.

He also puts up with me when I am feeling whiny or cranky with only a moderate amount of dirty looks. And he gets me ginger ale at 2:00 in the morning when my tummy hurts. And he throws up peace signs with me even though he is not at all the peace sign throwing-up type [then again... neither am I but I do it anyway because I think I have a complex and desperately want to look cool throwing up peace signs because I never actually do and that makes me feel inferior to all those people who can throw them up with ease and comfort and don't get the peace sign duck lips that I so struggle with]. And he only looks at me a little funny when I dance in the car and try to rap along with Lil' Wayne. And he lets me listen to Lil' Wayne even though the sound of his voice is like nails on a chalkboard to his sensitive musician ears and he only rolls his eyes and sighs a little bit. Well, maybe more than a little bit... but he still lets me get away with it- at least until I look out the window and his lighting fast fingers can change the station. And he listens to me ramble for hours without once telling me I talk to much.. even though we both know that I talk.Way. Too. Much.

I already spent a good majority of a previous post bragging on him.. so I will not bore you with repetition. Just know that I have basically been smashed in the face with the biggest blessing I could ever imagine... and it didn't hurt at all.. and he looks good naked too.

I am smitten. Twitterpated. Head over heals.
And that is all.
Except that it is not all. It will never be all.
There is no end.

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This is [Still?] Halloween.

>> 11.16.2009

Boys and girls of every age
Wouldn't you like to see something strange?

On Saturday, Ryan and I attended the very belated Halloween party of a good friend. He runs a haunt during the actual Halloween season so every year the party happens in November. Ryan generally works in the haunt as well. [I worked in it 2 years ago. It was pretty great.] This year, he was Nurse Abbey (oh, how I wish I had a picture of that to share) though his time was cut a little short by the gremlin's arrival. Since I was deprived of all things Halloween growing up- I tend to soak it all in now. It is great fun.

Because of recent events *cough-unexpectedly having a child- cough* we did not exactly have the time to put a whole lot of thought into our costumes. We usually have a lot of fun with it.

2007:

Sweeney Todd and Nellie Lovett.
My dress was made of AWESOME.
2008:

2008- Alice and the Mad Hatter
[I wish I had a full pic- Ryan looked fantastic!]

And I was effin' sexy! ;-)

Dressing as a woman [well, technically as a man who wanted to BE a woman] for a couple of months made Ryan much more open to cross-dressing. Approximately four days before the party this year... he came up with the idea of going as each other. It was easy. It was fun. It was free. And so.. that's what we did:

Me.. attempting to make a Ryan face. Ryan.. attempting to be short.
We both fail.

I, very depressingly, actually fit into Ryan's clothes.
This picture is now officially my motivation!


Boo!

We had quite a lovely time. It was nice to resurface and see everyone and have a bit of fun. I did not get to take too many pictures but I will share my two favorites with you:

1. Liam's first playmate, Nellie Rose, came along with Mommy and Daddy. She is quite an adorable little pumpkin:
Nellie, in direct and complete contradiction to Liam, knows the art of taking her time. She has been a patient one from the very beginning [ you can read her story here]. She gave her parents some time to be married first, took her time getting here, and is still nice and cozy in her mama's belly. She will be arriving in January (as PLANNED. Ahem. Maybe someone we all know and love that shall remain unnamed, LIAM ELIOT, should take some notes and calm the heck down!!). I love still having an excuse to look at adorable little girl things and we are all very excited to meet her! (The green head to the left is her daddy...not a creeper, by the way.)

2.

Hmm.. looks like Nellie and Liam will have quite a bit to discuss.

In other news: Liam is still looking good today. His spells are relatively minor. His cannula is down to 2.5 liters and 21% (room air). His feedings are going to increase again today. He is 2 lbs, 12.5 oz- a regular little piglet. AND *drumroll please*...... his pinkie toe now crosses over my distal interphalangeal joint!! Woo!

Hooray for 3 good days in a row!

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One Day, Liam Will Have a Girlfriend....

>> 11.14.2009

...and when he does- these are the photos we will be whipping out:

Our little lamb resting so peacefully.

We were there for a good 45 minutes and the child did not so much as flinch- he was OUT.

As the good days pile up, [our count is up to 2! woo!] Ryan and I are starting to find fun in the little things. And honestly... what is the point of having kids if you can't make fun of them? I mean.. that is what makes all of the sleepless nights and tantrums and puberty and "Mom, I am piercing my nipples and going into the Peace Corps and you can't stop me" worth it, right? Okay... maybe that- and the fact that you love them so freaking much that every time you look at them your heart practically explodes out of your chest. But.. still.. the ability to tease doesn't hurt:

Sorry, Liam.. you were born into a family that shows our [undying, never-ending, forever and always, all-consuming] love and affection by... ribbing the hell out of you. It will be okay, though.. I promise. We all survived it- you will too. And one day, you will learn the art.. and we will be so proud.

In other news: did you notice my new hair?

In Ryan's words: It seemed like a fall thing to do- and it makes my eyes look ice blue, which is kinda cool.

I don't usually post on the weekends... but I am actively attempting to avoid the large quantities of housework that I can no longer put off because "I am still healing." We are living in a pig sty people.. and it is not pretty. My husband is here to help me with anything that falls under the "strenuous" category and so.. it must be done. Le sigh.

But as a reward: we are getting our refrigerator today! It will be amazing because we will then have a complete working kitchen and can stop living on take-out. Yay!

So.. I will leave you with this- OUR FIRST CHUB SIGHTING!

At 2 lbs, 9.9 oz- Liam has officially developed some coveted baby fat. We are so proud!

Have a wonderful weekend!

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The Gift of Life

>> 11.13.2009

Just as the body cannot exist without blood, so the soul needs the matchless and pure strength of faith.
Mahatma Gandhi

Liam needed his third blood transfusion yesterday afternoon. The infection he is fighting seems to be making it difficult for his little body to create blood cells. He is AB+. [Like ME! As I very smugly pointed out to Ryan- he may have inherited the shell from his Papa, but inside- he is just like his Mama! Oh... Lord help us.]

Just taking a nap while LIFE is injected into his hand.

Ryan picked up some information last night and learned that this is basically the best blood type to have because it is compatible with any other type- he can get blood from pretty much anyone. I am not cleared to donate yet (after losing so much blood during surgery) so Ryan is going to donate soon... but hopefully, Liam will not need another transfusion. That would be awesome. Because although it is a good thing... and kind of a miracle that we can even go around giving new blood to people at all, it is still hard to watch. Mostly because I just want him to be better now, thank you.

In spite the transfusion and a slight dip in weight [ 2 lbs 7.3 oz to 2 lbs 6.4 oz- probably because he has been off feedings for three days] Liam had a really good day yesterday. They took him off the ventilator and when we came to visit around 9 he was still completely stable. His nurse said that she can tell he is feeling better because he is getting back to his feisty self. They had to give him a little 'night-night' medicine to keep him from trying to yank all his wires out [That's my boy!] I promptly inquired about whether or not we would be getting some of that stuff to take home. But, alas... as parents we cannot drug our child for being too active. Who came up with that rule?

As you can see from this picture to the left, Liam has transitioned into big boy pants- he was peeing out of the micro-preemie diapers, so although these Pamper Preemies are kind of ridiculously large on him, he is sporting them, nonetheless. I have informed him not to get too comfortable though- he will be heading into cloths as soon as he is home.

Also, to give you a more comparable idea of Liam's size [because it is really hard to tell from pictures].... note the toes. Now, take a look at the picture below:


The first joint on your finger is called the distal interphalangeal joint (and no, I did not make that up.) It is called this because the first section of your finger is called the distal phalanx (the little sections of your fingers deserve names too, you know!).

So... all of Liam's 5 perfect little toes line up along my distal phalanx- stopping directly at my distal interphalangeal joint. Take a look at your own and marvel at the craziness.

He is a wee little man.


And a wink for Mama.
[One of the many, many, many fails from yesterday's attempt to get a picture of Liam with his eyes open.. but, it was all worth it for that crossed-eye cuteness I shared with you in the last post.]

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Can You Handle It?!

>> 11.12.2009

This kind of cuteness... needs no introduction.

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Oh, So Quickly

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness.
You have to catch it yourself.
Benjamin Franklin

I promised myself I would post something every morning.. so, here I am- even though I cannot yet post what I actually want to post: my very first ever picture of my gremlin with his eyes open!

I took it yesterday at his 4 o'clock hands on time. I got his temp, changed his diaper, and put lotion on his poor little legs which were super dry from being out of his incubator a couple days ago [he was having a ton of "spells" and they needed to be able to get to him faster]. He was awake the whole time. With the ventilator in, he cannot cry anymore.. so he was doing his best to make it clear with his eyes that he was not too pleased with this string of events. He is obviously not very fond of his artificial lungs either- he kept grabbing the tube and trying to move away from it. The ventilator is so heavy that it weighs down his little head and he cannot move- I am sure that is an uncomfortable feeling. I told him it is up to him- if he would get his lungs in order he would not have to deal with it anymore... and I swear... somehow... he has already mastered the teenager glare.

I got a fantastic picture of him looking directly at the camera [slightly cross-eyed, but hey- give the kid a break... focusing is not usually on the agenda at -8 weeks old.] He is furrowing his brow and looks exactly- and I mean EXACTLY- like his Papa. It is slightly ridiculous. I will have to post a comparison picture eventually so you can all ooh and ahh at the outrageous resemblance. It makes me so very happy. Unfortunately, I cannot upload the cuteness until tonight... so you will all just have to wait.

I really love being able to go see him whenever I want to. I am going to be leaving here in a little while for his 12:00 hands on.. and then I will probably just find a place to stash myself until his 4:00. It makes a huge difference in how I feel about the entire situation. Also, I finally remembered to ask what criteria Liam had to meet before we would be able to hold him and we were told that usually it is just after they hit 1000 grams, but since Liam is not feeling so good, it would probably be better to wait a bit... and maybe get him off the ventilator. So, that gives us something to look forward too.

Anyway, I accomplished my goal for yesterday and came up with a schedule... Of course, today I am already 24 minutes BEHIND that schedule.. but at least I have one to mess up. Oh, and also- RYAN FIXED THE SHOWER!!!! Glory, Hallelujah! The water was running lukewarm at best.. and I like my water to be just short of scalding, so it was horribly depressing. But, Ryan fixed it and I took the most gloriously hot shower last night- I came out pink and wrinkled and happy. I woke up this morning thinking it was all a dream but it was not and no matter what happens in life, it is easier to deal with when you can come home to a hot shower.

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How Michelle Got Her Groove Back

>> 11.11.2009

Habit is a beneficent harness of routine which enables silly men to live respectfully and unhappy men to live calmly.
George Eliot

I am finding it rather difficult to get myself back into my daily groove. Or any groove, for that matter. Obviously.. my life has just come to a screeching halt on many levels: I am not going to school anymore (although we talked to my professors and they both seem willing to help me finish from home so *fingers crossed* I may still be able to graduate in December!), I am not working anymore, (boo! I miss my kids SO much) and I am under pretty strict orders to take it easy. So, getting back into what my life used to be is pretty much out of the question. It is just about the strangest thing ever to go from as busy as I was to... this. However, there are still things I could be doing.. and I think about doing them... and I think about doing them some more... and then... I don't... and then I watch 12 episodes of House online.

10 Things I could be doing:
1. Laundry- loads and loads and loads of laundry. We have lots of laundry and I could do it.
2. Putting the new handles on the cabinets.
3. Straightening up the house... which just seems to be getting filthier and filthier. Le sigh.
4. Whip out my sewing machine and learn to use the dang thing.
5. Finally teach myself to knit which I have been wanting to do For. Ev. Er.
6. Start sorting through the disaster area that will need to become Liam's nursery.
7. Start writing my senior seminar paper.
8. My wedding scrapbook!
9. Continue in my decorating endeavors.
10. I don't know... actually make it out of bed before 1 o'clock in the afternoon?!

Well, okay.. today, I will be making it out of bed before 1 p.m. because today I have a doctor's appointment at 1:15 p.m.- lucky me. I will then be driving myself over to the hospital for the very first time to see my baby. As of last night, he was much more stable since being put back on the ventilator. I did not go in to see him because I had a bit of a tickle in my throat. That was hard. I am fairly positive now that it is just the weather changing screwing with my allergies because my eyes have gotten ridiculously red and itchy and after 3 days the tickle has remained but has not progressed to anything more.. and because the weather changing (and leaves dying) always screws with my allergies. So I am going to go see him today but, just in case, I will sport the very fashionable face mask.

I have not heard anything yet about his condition this morning but I am hoping they started him on the more specific antibiotic that will kick this infection's ass so he can get back to the very important task of getting big enough and strong enough to come home.

But anyway... My personal theory about my lack of motivation is this: I cannot do the 3 things I want to do more than anything else for at least 6 weeks and so... it is hard to get motivated to do anything at all. What are those three things, you ask?

Well... since you asked:
1. Sex. [With my husband]
2. Exercise. [With my new Wii and Wii Fit Plus!!]
3. Mommy. [With my little button, Liam]

And so.. I lay around and woe is me. I mean seriously, I have begged [BEGGED] my husband.. and he was so close, SO CLOSE... and would have given in if it wasn't for the gosh-darn internet. [I hate you, Al Gore!] And I want my body back- it really puts it all in perspective when you realize that only 2.2 pounds of all that baby weight was actual baby. But horror stories of ripped open scars and internal bleeding have kept me pretty immobile.. and the Wii that Ryan got for me as a Welcome Home present is sitting there... mocking me...

And, of course, more than anything in the whole wide world I was Liam to come home. Actually.. at this point... I would even settle for just kissing his face and cuddling him. Even if it is in the NICU. I just want to hold him and love him. That is pretty much the hardest part.

So.. my goal for today is to somehow, someway... find some shred of normal somewhere in this mess we call life. To make a schedule. To get myself together. To STOP POUTING and start grooving. Life will never go back to the way it was.. so I need to start putting together the pieces of the way it is... because it can still be good in it's new and unusual way.

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grati-tuesday

>> 11.10.2009

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
Cicero

Man.. even I did not know I was capable of such cheese as is located in the title of today's post.. but, alas, I am. And I will not apologize.


Today, my little bit turns 2 weeks old. And I have decided that every Tuesday is now cause for celebration. Every week that we put behind us is a step in the right direction. No matter what obstacles we face, we are still moving forward. So, on Tuesdays... I am going to take a moment to remember the things that I am grateful for.

And, of course, I will start off this new tradition with Liam Eliot. I am so grateful for every morning that I wake up and he is still with us. I am grateful that he has the spirit of an overcomer and is fighting so hard. We have learned that his little body is having to work against an infection now. He has been put back on a ventilator and has had to have a lumbar puncture, a blood transfusion, and countless tests, labs and x-rays as they work to figure out exactly what sort of infection has made its way into his system and how best to treat it. It is hard to fight against the panic that rises up at hearing these things... but I think I am getting better. I am learning to find my peace.

Liam has not given up. His heart is still beating. His brain is still ticking. And he is still growing [He now weighs 2 pounds and 7.3 ounces; practically a sumo wrestler!] The nurses tell us he is fiesty.. that he is a wild child... and I am so grateful for that strong will in him. I know that there will be days when it will make me want to pull my hair out.. but I also know, from my own experience [Yes, I admit it: I am ridiculously hard-headed] that it will serve him well in life.

So today, I am grateful for my son. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to know him. I am grateful for every day that I get to spend as his mama. I am grateful for his perfect fingers and toes and belly button. I am grateful for his precious, adorable little button nose. I am grateful that the last two weeks are behind us and I am grateful for the many, many weeks ahead to watch him grow.

What are you grateful for today?

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I Need You So Much Closer

>> 11.08.2009

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Wow. People say that life is a roller coaster... and I don't think I have ever been hit with the truth of that statement until now. We can go from elation to fear in mere hours and I have to admit that my emotions are getting just a wee bit fried. Have I ever mentioned how much I HATE roller coasters?!

On Friday, Liam was doing absolutely fantastic on 1 liter of oxygen so they decided to take him completely off his cannula. They told me when I called to check on him around noon. Because I cannot drive yet, I was going to have to wait to go to the hospital but I was so excited to see his little face without that breathing tube. I called back around 8:30 that evening... and they told me that he didn't make it; his heart rate started dropping and he was huffing and puffing so they put him back on the oxygen. They put him at 2 liters but that didn't cut it so he had to go back up to 3. They were doing blood work and a chest x-ray to see what went wrong.

His chest x-ray just showed that he lost some lung volume and his blood work came back clean so we took a deep breath and relaxed. We were assured repeatedly that this is just a preemie thing- they might play this game for a few weeks before coming completely off oxygen.

By Saturday, he was back at 2 liters of oxygen but his respiratory rate was rather accelerated. They were keeping a close watch on him and never felt that it was enough to warrant putting him back up to 3 liters so we were feeling grateful for that. He was still gaining weight and looking good so we went home Saturday night feeling settled again.

At noon on Sunday we walked into the NICU and received a very different story. The nurse was standing over Liam's isolette and immediately asked if we had been called by the doctor or nurse practitioner- not a good sign. My heart completely sank.

The nurse explained that Liam is requiring more oxygen, his heart rate is up, and there is green discharge coming from his tummy again. They stopped feedings and had ordered another contrast x-ray for this morning. We still haven't heard the results of the tests. He was headed for the x-ray when Ryan called a few minutes ago. Up. Down. Up. Down. Loops. Twists. Turns... and we are only at the beginning.

One thing that I am having a difficult time swallowing is the nurses' insistence that touching Liam is not good for him. My mother came up to visit yesterday with one of her pastors- we went in to see Liam and he was WIDE awake. I have never seen him so alert and curious. He was looking all around and when I would talk to him he would turn his head and look right into my eyes. It was amazing. Occasionally, he would lose focus and his little eyes would cross and he would make the funniest face. He can usually only make it for a few minutes before sleep claims him again but we were there for over half an hour and he was bright-eyed the whole time. I wanted to love on him so much while he was awake, but the nurse told me that he did not need to be touched because she thinks he is getting sick and to just leave him alone. I have to tell you.. I have only been a mom for a few days and I have not even really had the chance to be a mom in the true sense of the word...but it is still difficult to listen to someone else tell me what to do with my child, especially when I am not sure I agree.

I had recently read this study which talks about the different types of touch preterm infants receive and how it seems to affect their well-being. We have been told that stroking Liam provides too much stimulation to his fragile nervous system; however, when we go during our "hands on" time we are encouraged to "cradle" him by placing our hands gently on him without stroking or rubbing. This study seems to back up this type of touch. It goes on to say that the medical touch that preterm infants receive most frequently (during medical procedures and such) can have negative affects. The problem is that Liam only has 4 "hands on" periods a day... and we are usually only able to make it to one or two of them. Two happen while Ryan is at work and one is at midnight. The only one we make consistently is the one at 8:00 p.m. and often we don't even get the chance to touch him because someone assumed we weren't coming and already took care of it. When we do make it, we take his temperature, change his diaper, wipe his mouth and then have a few minutes to love on him before closing him back up in his little box. Once I am able to drive again [WEDNESDAY!!], I will certainly be there more frequently during the day... but for now the majority of the touch my baby is receiving is cold, clinical, medical touch that cannot possibly be doing him any good. And then when I am able to be there, if it is even five minutes after their set time, I am told not to touch my own child. It just makes me angry.. and I have to remind myself to retract the claws because it does no good to kill the messenger. The nurses are just doing their jobs. But his heart rate and respiratory rate slow down whenever our hands are on him; everything in me disagrees... and sometimes I just want to scream at someone to BACK THE HELL OFF and give me a minute with my baby.

Okay. Thank you. I just needed to get that off my chest. Moving on....

I found this video online today. At the end it says something about a NICU baby's health regressing before it gets better.. and how this is normal. Every time the doctor tells us something new I ask, "Is this normal?" and they say yes. Everything Liam has faced so far is normal for a preemie of his size and gestational age. I also found this article about a miracle baby. I hold onto things like these to keep myself from losing it every time we hear a not-so-great report. We are not alone- other families have faced this. They made it. He will make it. It is normal. Normal. Normal. Normal.

I want so much to be able to look at all of this as a lesson in patience and courage and faith... and to know that we will overcome this and it will soon be a distant memory. I am really trying.

Normal.

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The Motherload

>> 11.06.2009

Laughter is like changing a baby's diaper. It doesn't permanently solve any problems, but it makes things more acceptable for a while.
Anonymous

One day, Liam will fill his diaper and Ryan and I will look at each other with fear in our eyes and begging on our lips: "Please! Please, please, please, please, please--- will you take care of this one?! Please! It is totally your turn. No, it's yours. No, it's yours. I'll do the dishes. Please!"

But for now we both really look forward to diaper changes. The hospital only allows a couple of "hands on" times a day. Sick babies are sick and need their rest.. and the little ones like Liam just were not counting on any cuddle time for a couple more months. [And trust me, our little one makes it perfectly clear how he feels about losing out on his alone time.]

So, taking Liam's temperature, changing his diaper, and wiping his mouth are the few ways that we can be involved in his care at the moment. And, for now...we really enjoy it.

At first the entire situation was really intimidating. I mean, I can change a baby's diaper with one hand. I have changed diapers in some very strange places and with some very interesting distractions. I have experienced blow-outs, blow-ups, spill-overs, and (my favorite) the pee-out. [For those of you who do not have any experience with little boys, this occurs when boy parts are pointed up and the baby pees all over his own shirt- leaving the diaper completely dry. It's like a magic trick!]

But I have to say I have never in my life changed the diaper of a 2 pound baby. His diapers, which are still too big for him, are smaller than most doll diapers. Add in all the wires and tubes and his little bird bones and you have a situation that left me, the diaper queen, practically hyperventilating. [Ryan, on the other hand, handled it without flinching. He is always surprising me. I love that man.]

It only took a couple of times for me to get used to it.. and, as an added bonus, it seems like the Gremlin is getting used to it as well; at least, he did not squeak through the entire experience last time... He is a wiggly little thing, but if he isn't crying, it keeps you from feeling so panicky and rushed.

I guess I can add "through the arm holes of an incubator" to my list of strange.

The boy needs to get some meat on his thighs..... Hey, I have some to spare!

I am taking that as a yawn of approval.


Last night, Liam "graduated" to the back row. He is in a new isolette and will now be allowed 3 visitors at a time. His color is looking better every day. He is gaining weight- 950 grams as of yesterday, only 20 grams below his birth weight! He is back on continues feedings, digesting well so far, and is down to 1 liter of oxygen. In spite of being warned repeatedly that he would probably have to bounce back to a ventilator, he has yet to do so- in fact, he is moving in the other direction. And.. he is a world-class pooper.

Things are looking pretty good today.

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