Bouncing back and forth between Mommom's and MaMere's has been quite an experience! We've been on the (Gulf) Coast for almost a week with Brent's parents - the babies' first visit out that way! It was really wonderful. Exhausting of course - but wonderful.
A week of firsts...
Pops and MaMere *graciously hosted us in their home (read as *graciously allowed us to absolutely invade and take over their home) and without so much as the batting of an eye, watched Mary Louise and David explore every. single. nook. and. cranny. of their space. Mary Louise went "shopping" (tore up a Pottery Barn Kids magazine) while David played with Pops' turkey call. They rocked and slept in hammocks in the serenity of the back porch. They sat in laps at the table while we ate - they are so so interested in EVERYTHING on our plates! (So much so that we're pretty sure Mary Louise stealthily removed and ate a bit of Pops' drop biscuit one morning!).
On the 4th of July, we (MaMere and I) took Mary Louise and David SWIMMING! I was so excited to finally get them in "the big people" pool. Mary Louise did very very well -took to the experience right off kicking and splashing, playing with her crab bath toy...she even put her face in the water...more than once! David was pretty cautious at first - true to his careful, passive soul. He clung to me tightly with a little worried look for quite sometime. We took things very slowly, and he eventually warmed up to the idea and started to kick, sat on the side, played, and splashed...he too put his face in a few times - on purpose! We really had a grand time - and look forward to "fwimming" again soon. (photos coming soon)
Another first - Mary Louise and David have officially tried, liked, and agreed with eating toast! They split an entire piece of whole grain (crusts cut off of course) 2 mornings in a row. In addition, they downed some fresh fruit - peaches, nectarines, blueberries, and watermelon - a bit of yogurt, and their trusty bottles. All this while cutting a ridiculous number of teeth! - so much that I've actually lost the official count! Poor David's bottom gums feel like there is pea gravel stuck just under the soft tissue...Mary Louise's tongue is working overtime trying to feel and rub the tiny new treasures growing inside of her mouth. They really are doing well with it all - David is biting anything that doesn't bite back (so Mary Louise is out) while Mary Louise tends to want frozen wash rags, and just about anything else nice and cold.
The car rides overall have been much easier than they used to be. I can make it just over 2 hours with little interruption if I time the trip around the beginning or end of nap time.
In walking and talking news...Mary Louise seems to refer to David as Da Da (with a long "a" sound) while crawling after him or looking for him. Of course it's open to interpretation, but I like to think she's starting to put it all together. She is also a HUGE fan of "Peek a Boo" and covers her little face again and again with the nearest blanket or wash cloth only to slowly reveal her enormous grin as she waits for someone to say "Where's Mary Louise?...THERE SHE IS!!" David is also catching on to the game - though he'd much prefer you to do the holding of the rag!
Mary Louise seems to have mastered walking while barely holding on to one finger. Her balance has improved immensely and she's walking with her heels down finally (they both started to toddle high on their toes as they don't weigh very much and the therapists explained that the toe pressure provides them with more feedback than would walking flat-footed). David, again, is still on his toes, but does walk some holding one hand...though, again, he'd much prefer you do the work and just carry him darnit! (ha - sweet boy, Mr. Opportunity).
They both absolutely adore their Radio Flier push walker wagon and I swear can play with that thing for hours. They take turns riding, they put their toys in and push them around, they try to climb in it - and out of it...
...and a bit of reflection and soap box time (this is your fair warning to stop reading if you hate my droning on)...
It's truly amazing to think of how much has happened - and how far they've come over the past year...last 4th of July, Mary Louise was being air lifted to New Orleans for eye surgery. We still didn't know if she'd come home with extra equipment, if she'd be blind - or have damaged vision - we didn't know if she could hear...David was still a very tiny 3 pounds and quite fragile. We were just starting to take him out of his warming bed for longer periods. I was frantically driving the nurses and staff at the new hospital batty with pumping them for information - and just trying to get in to see my little ones. I've since learned that many parents aren't able to visit so often - I've heard some say they are afraid to, don't know what questions to ask, don't understand what's going on and fear getting in the way. I did have vocabulary on my side - I've always said that the language of medicine is all it's own. However, I hate to think that a parent would feel so out of place visiting their own baby that they simply would stop showing up. So...if it helps - a pep talk (again)...
You serve a purpose. Your smell, your voice, the sound of your heart...these are the only familiar things that little one has. Your touch and soft words may be the only truly tender moments that baby has in the NICU. There are gentle staff members - amazing ones who take their time to ensure the most comfort possible during procedures and therapies...but these comfort measures are nonetheless a means to provide treatment. You have no motive other than love and comfort. No one else can provide such.
You are in charge of your little ones' care. You have the right to make decisions and ask for appropriate guidance and explanation to do so. If you don't understand something, ask for repetition, or a different explanation. When that is done, repeat it back to the staff person to ensure understanding. Ultimately, everyone has the same goal...get that baby home as healthy and strong as possible.
You can (all) do this.
I hear all the time, "I don't know how you do it." Thank you...but I'm not that strong, I do get frazzled, I do need breaks, I'm human for goodness sake. BUT I have 2 babies who have struggled and fought to be here with me and one that gave his all just to meet his family here for a brief moment. Keeping that in mind...looking at them and all of the vast sea of possibilities they hold...that's how it's done. We're all taking one step, one brief moment, at one time.
Even on the hardest of days - on our darkest of NICU days - I somehow mustered up the courage to say "thank you" to them for hanging in there with me- for offering just one more day of precious memories. I am so privileged. This is so worth it.