Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I hate labels (especially human ones)...

A little bit of a vent, but mostly an attempt to make sense of my own feelings and thoughts on continuing David's public system speech sessions:

David and I met at home with representatives from our local school board yesterday. The goal was to complete his evaluation for services. Again, the school board takes over his speech services the day before he turns 3.

They spent 2 hours here talking to me and playing with David. There were 3 women - a social worker, speech pathologist and, I'm not exactly sure of the qualifications of the third woman. Again, they were very nice, but of course David was less than excited about the interruption to his day. He did as well as he does in any somewhat foreign situation. He didn't talk much, but did engage with them and played some of the games they wanted him to play. Of course he didn't answer questions they asked...and 2 hours in, he was done. I mean really just done - like temper tantrum, tears, and yelling done.

Their bottom line: mild cognitive delay. That really hurt - physically. I was fine with their testing, their filling out of papers, their over exacting line of questioning: "when exactly did he start to say more than 10 words?" "at what age did he start to coo or make any sounds?" I was fine with them prodding into my parenting style and our decisions about their medical well-being, "so they've never been in a play group?" "have you considered maybe putting them in daycare?" "so you just let them (him) play without structure? How long? How often?" Then the ever patronizing, "well, you know, a child must learn to deal with structure to be in school. They must be able to pay attention and sit in a desk." I was referred to as "over indulgent" a time or 2.

Umm. Again. He's 2. For some parents, and some children, they may be ready for a school-ish program. I'm not knocking that. But I resent the implication that all children must be ready for such at a certain - ridiculously young -age; and that by going against this SOCIAL practice, I am somehow exhibiting an over-bearing or over protective behavior and thereby stunting David's development for my own needs. Is it so far fetched that I might have a more reliable opinion of my own child, with whom I literally spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, than that of a stranger who has known him for 2 hours - enough to form a first impression...of a toddler? How about we all take a small step back and put down the standardized test for a minute.

I hear it almost every week- put them in day care, a play group, a mother's day out program. I get it - they are the school system - they look at children and generalize how they should be acting at a certain chronological age. However, if David was ready- emotionally, mentally - to be in school, I would put him in school. Brent and I sacrifice alot for me to stay home and care for Mary Louise and David - and even more so that we can spend these first formative years as a family - as a primary influence. We read our children and do what we feel is best for them- regardless of relatively new (or old) societal practices- while recognizing that gaining a strong sense of autonomy is important to developing into a confident child, teen and adult.

Accordingly - we feel it's best for David to continue his therapy services, as a preventative- to head off possible issues before they become habit- and he seems to enjoy the experience and is making wonderful progress. Otherwise, I'd tell everyone to figuratively "take a hike" and be done with the running around and jumping through hoops. Mary Louise is showing signs that she would do well in a group, structured setting. We are seeking out avenues to facilitate what she seems ready for - knowing that David just isn't quite there yet. People can argue more "hard core" tactics all they want: "you need to let go sometime" "you can't just shelter them forever" "they must learn to function and listen to what is asked of them" "sometimes you just have to push them into discomfort to get results- and be ok with tantrums in response". Again, let's keep it in perspective - they are 2, not 22, not 12, not 6 or 7 when some countries actually start school. They are 2 - almost 3 and remain quite immature for their age.

Ultimately, we're all trying to do the best we can. I, like any parent, want our children to be the best people they can be - individually - not by some test score. As for the pushing, I feel that in certain instances, a push is more than warranted: when we were concerned with the lack of speech progress, I pushed to get David into programs; we were concerned with toe walking, we pushed for a consult; if undesirable behavior is exhibited, we consistently use a time out session and Mary Louise and David are not allowed out of time out if they aren't calm and quiet, we encourage them to pick up after themselves, to say prayers at bedtime, to make eye contact when we talk to them, to try new foods and textures; we believe in teaching about resources at hand - we push the kids to get their hands dirty, plant things, make constructive messes, respect animals, environment, explore the parks and natural tools at our disposal, exhibit manners around other adults, verbalize feelings - hurtful or good, express love and praise. We push in different areas - social development is something that comes with time, with maturity, and with comfort in certain situations. It doesn't have to be traumatizing. Nor does it have to come with an air of parental desertion.

You can say that I'm hyper sensitive - obviously, I am to some degree. It pains me to no end to think that people might miss how amazing David and Mary Louise are - not because of "how far they've come" or "all they've been through" but because of who they are today - as human beings - a make up of their experiences of course - but typically not the experiences upon which people who know their history most focus. To label a 2 year old, in my opinion, and in this situation, is a disservice.

I don't honestly know the solution to this. "The system" needs some organization, some way to catch at risk children- categorizing seems an obvious fix all. But am I the only one whose knee jerk reaction is to translate "mild cognitive delay" as an implication that the child is "a little slower than average" or, in the most watered down and ignorant terms, "slightly stupid"? It's offensive - not to mention flat wrong.

Welcome to life sweet David - this is one area from which I really do wish I could shelter you a bit longer. You are smart, funny, compassionate, and amazing in more ways than I can count. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and leave all others by the way side. They, I assure you, are missing out.

I guess it doesn't help that David got nervous and pitched a fit at the park the day before all of this and I watched parents actually take their child home because they didn't want to be around "that kid" -whatever that means. Thanks to those parents for making a big deal over a kid crying at the park rather than just explaining that sometimes children just have off days.

Once the results of the test was explained a little, I did agree with the opinions of the testers. They said that David did things when, and how he wanted to do them - and that he was not apt to do things on command. They felt he knew much more than he was telling them, but staying all day would not have ensured he would "perform" in the way they needed. Where we sort of disagreed was that they felt these things were a problem - I see them as toddler behavior specific to David.

Again, we went over my concerns - or one concern: expressive speech. I said that his vocabulary is wonderful but often difficult to understand.

I spoke with his weekly home therapist this morning. She recommended I really really consider day care and / or a mother's day out program a few days a week and assured me that David's tantrums would resolve in that setting in "about 4 or 5 days". She was polite about it - she's said it many times - she believes in very structured environments that mimic a school setting. She thinks David may have some mild sensory processing issues and she predicts that he may be a "quirky" kid. Having said that, she tried allowing David to lead the way during the session this morning and was really surprised with the verbal results. David exhibited tons of spontaneous sentences, words she'd never heard him say, appropriate questions and requests. In short, he did very well during the hour and was happy when Mary Louise and I came downstairs to join him.

So, what do I think? I really, in my heart, feel that David simply needs time. I think it's absolutely nothing short of absurd to characterize a child as "quirky" or as having a "mild cognitive delay" at the age of 2 and doing so only perpetuates stereotypes and useless labeling.  I feel David has the very same personality now that he had at conception - regardless of his NICU stay. He needs time to mature, time to develop into his own person, time to PLAY and time to be a kid.

When did we all get so very focused on taking this away? From the time a child is born, parents face criticism and pressure - do you breast feed or bottle feed. How long? Is the child on solids yet - hurry and start them. Cosleeping is wrong. Crib sleep is traumatizing. Take away the pacifier and for goodness sake, get them socialized. You must have a Bumbo seat and an exer-saucer is now a non-negotiable baby accessory. Your child cannot develop properly without some sort of electronic gaming device and/ or televised tutoring system.  Enough already. There is no right. Do the best you can with the knowledge at hand...and above all, enjoy it. Have fun. Love those babies like no one else can.

I will be contacted again in a month or so to discuss official results of the testing and to begin the process of forming an IEP (individualized education plan). Then we will talk about services available in our area. Services are done throughout the regular school year - meaning that with David's birthday being at the end of April, he'll have a month or so of services before they let out for the summer.

Until then, me and my quirky baby boy (and girl) will be off playing outside- in the dirt, playing in paint, going to the children's museum, the park, and sometimes the store, baking bread and cookies, pancakes and spaghetti, and taking part in an assortment of other non-scripted activities on a whim and whenever possible, Dada will tag along for the fun - because, in this house, that's the way we do things.


P.S. I feel better now - and less muddled. Thanks.

Pregnancy update:

***there were 2 comment / questions on the last post- answers below:
1. With my history of hypertension, I will have frequent (weekly) ultrasounds to ensure the safety and continued growth of the baby. This will start at 31 weeks and continue until delivery. If the baby starts to show signs of distress, restricted growth, or there is any medical reason involving my health warranting a delivery, a cesarean will be done immediately. I have been **told** that as long as there is no medical (emergency) reason for delivery, that the issue will not be pushed and my doctor has said a few times that he'd love for me to "go" to 39 weeks. Right now, we have not discussed scheduling a delivery. I have asked to be "allowed" to go into labor and my doctor has expressed his support. I will have a section as my delivery with Mary Louise, Kuylen and David was extremely traumatic and my uterine scarring is a bit more extensive, and classical in technique. So, ultimately, I don't know what will happen. It is my hope that I will go into natural labor and get to the hospital for a (unscheduled) cesarean. But, I am not naive enough to believe that the issue of scheduling won't be pushed as we get to the final few weeks of pregnancy. I am confident in my predicted due date however (May 13th) so I don't really have angst about exact gestation - due dates are typically give or take 2 weeks with alleviates some of my stress...but to say that I'm nervous about the delivery is the understatement of the year...Will keep updating on this topic as I know more. So far, so good at 29 weeks 2 days!

2. Ha - the 4D ultrasound and gender specifics: first, if you're a quizzy nerd like myself, you might be curious about what the heck the 4th dimension is - movement. A 4D ultrasound is a 3D picture in motion. Moving on...We tell the ultrasound tech each time we go for baby pics that we'd prefer not to know the gender. If they are scanning the kidneys, or pelvic area in general, we are invited to close our eyes or turn our heads. Having said that, Brent has tried many times to see the gender but can't quite read the picture fast enough. I haven't tried to take a look. We laugh about it later - but when we're in the session, I just want to hear, "the baby looks great - everything is ok." I have total tunnel vision - and hearing in that dark little room. When the 4D picture is turned on, the tech focuses on the head and above the waist area only.

I had a 1 hour glucose tolerance test on Thursday of last week. To be honest, it pretty much wiped me out - but was by no means awful. To me, having repeated trans-vaginal ultrasounds pretty much trumps whatever else they can think of to do...ahh - the wand. I assure you, we've made friendly so often I've paid for 2 offices worth of those horrid jokes of instruments. I always try to picture the sales pitch given by the rep...
Doctor: what do you have for me today?
Rep: well, we've got the newest in ultrasound technology (produces long unmistakably phallic wand from massive man-purse)
Doctor: **snickers as only a teenager would do during a sex-ed class** really? Oh, you're serious?

Oh - but I digress...back to the less than mediocre glucose test. Of course I failed the 1 hour. I mean, honestly, when are things ever that simple with my body?? My blood sugar 1 hour after drinking the flat, super sweet Sunkist tasting stuff was at 148 (it needed to be below 130)- and for a few minutes after the hour was up I felt as if I might break out in a marathon runner stride. Then, on the way home I hit bottom. By the time I slumped in the door at home, I was too tired to do a darn thing. Thank goodness Mommom was here playing with Mary Louise and David. I fumbled up the stairs to rest a minute...2 hours later, I was back to mid line and ready to tackle a few things around the house. I got the call that afternoon that I'd failed the 1 hour test and would need to be "officially" checked for gestational diabetes via a 3 hour glucose challenge test after a 12+ hour fast.

***note: complications from gestational diabetes can include, but are by no means limited to, large birth weight for the baby, trouble maintaining blood sugar levels during the first few days of life (for the baby) and possible complications with blood sugar levels for the mother. In addition, the mother is at increased risk for developing diabetes during the years after the diagnosed pregnancy. Also, gestational diabetes does not necessarily show itself symptomatically - necessitating testing. The 1 hour test is a screening tool used to weed out an "at risk" population. The 3 hour test is considered diagnostic. MOST of the women who end up in the 3 hour test are negative for diabetes though.***

Really?? that's just wrong. WRONG I tell you! To make a pregnant woman fast from everything - including water - then drink even sweeter gunk (think fake orange ice-pop syrup - doable - not pleasurable), then sit for 3 hours, pee in a cup and get stuck repeatedly...not my idea of fun...but the lab was really accommodating. I ended up napping in an electronic chair in my own private room for 3 whole hours! I listened to Ipod music, caught up on phone calls and actually took naps in between hourly sticks. I left looking as if I'd dabbled in some IV drug fun for a night or 2 - and that was before the bruising began as well.

But really, all things considered, I "enjoyed" the experience as much as I could. When I'm hungry, I get the added bonus of having a less than happy baby in my belly - so, in the quiet, I really got to focus on some good kicks and rolls from our little one. love love love.

I really didn't feel too bad after I left. I came prepared with a protein bar and large bottle of water and never experienced the HUGE let down post test. I was hungry - loosing my sense of humor when I left - but my blood sugar was a nice 101 so I felt fine.

If you want to know my trick (or advice) - I think I should have fasted completely before the 1 hour and it would have saved me alot of trouble. It's not supposed to be a fasting test...but I'm pretty sure I would have been fine fasting for that measly hour. For the 3 hour, I ate a really good dinner of brown jasmine rice with vegetables, baked chicken and sauteed zucchini and squash - whole grains and protein - prep to do a long run. I also drank a TON of water before bed - I mean at least twice as much as I usually do. I didn't really feel desperately hungry until about 15 minutes before the test was up -  I was in testing from about 8:30 until 11:30. I was a little thirsty - but it was manageable. Lying down was just about amazing though - and I just got lucky with that. I was the only 3 hour test at the lab that morning so they babied me quite a bit.

I finally heard from my doctor yesterday afternoon - it was a rather painful weekend wondering what the results of the test were. I kept having dreams that the baby was doubling in size by the day - ha! Anyhow, the results were negative - no diabetes - all ok.

Just to recap. I've been watched and tested for just about any complication there could be during the past 7 months. I've been to a doctor every week - but 6 non-consecutive weeks. Nothing is wrong so far. I'm not getting cocky. I'm still very respectful of pregnancy and life in general for that matter. It is, in essence, unpredictable. I'm only saying that we seem to have safeguarded, or watched for anything that can be fixed or managed, and everything remains ok. In this moment, we are healthy, we are just fine.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

28 weeks 3 days!

Mommom and Brent came along for my regular OB appointment this afternoon. After having a month long hiatus from the place, I was anxious to see how our little one was doing, how much the Sugs had grown, etc. He / she did NOT disappoint:

Our "little" baby weighed in at just above average at 2 pounds 15 ounces. That's right - 1 ounce shy of 3 whopping pounds!! No wonder I've had quite a bit of aching in my lower belly (believed to be associated with the scarring left from the previous section). My uterus is stretching like mad! That baby has grown a pound in the past month and promises to double in weight over the next couple of months! All measurements came in around 30 week gestational average. (The baby is measuring at 30 weeks gestation). However, my due date (May 13th) remains the same. The rule of thumb is, the later in pregnancy the measurements are taken, the less reliable the measurements are in predicting due date.

All is well in utero though. Fluid levels looked great, the baby's heart rate was 153 beats per minute. My cervix is doing just fine and my doctor announced today that "though I was very concerned in the beginning, cervical competence is no longer a concern of mine."

The baby was rather hilarious. We turned on the 4D ultrasound and saw a yawn or 2 and little one having fun smushing his / her face against my uterine walls. The baby's position was head down (normal) and a little hard to work with, but we did see that all was well and even got a few profile views.

My blood pressure is doing well - 110/80 in office today.

I will see my regular OB again in 2 weeks. Following that visit, I will have weekly in office ultrasounds to ensure the health and safety of the baby. I am on Labetalol (a beta blocker for blood pressure). Though my dose is extremely low, and my blood pressure well controlled, I still have a history of hypertension. This increases my risk (above the average population) for still birth. Though my risk for such is still low, frequent monitoring is warranted this late in pregnancy. (puh-lease. you didn't think I could completely relax from here on out right??) The medical monitoring protocol consists of either twice weekly non-stress tests (at the hospital) or a quick in office ultrasound (biophysical profile). Time saver, money saver, and I get to see sweet baby once a week. Win.

I have to go in for some lab work tomorrow - a glucose tolerance test and general blood counts. Hoping it all comes out ok. We shall see!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Our Daily Bread

I've done it!!! I made an acceptable loaf of bread! (Mary Louise approved:)

So, my criteria for the recipe were as follows:
1. low sodium
2. low confection (processed sugar)
3. stone ground whole wheat / grain
4. bread machine friendly

It took 5 tries - 3 were total failures. But number 5 was the charm. Hands on time: about 15 minutes (I had to wrestle my ingredients away from the toddler brigade!). I can do this! Fresh homemade preservative free bread!

Mary Louise and David were wild most of the day. We needed some organized activity and the weather was questionable. Enter: cookie experiment. Before bread, we (yes we) made cookies. Mary Louise and David are total fans of the stand mixer. They helped measure, drop, measure, spoon and of course EAT! The cookies came out really well (apparently, it was a spot on baking day - and believe me, I am no pro baker). Thanks Bob's Red Mill for coming through with some really nice whole grain recipes! I only substituted a Splenda baking blend for the sugar (Brent follows Sugar Busters).

The fiascoes of the day:
1.Mary Louise and David spilled (and played in) an entire box of quinoa IN the pantry and on the kitchen floor
2. David tried to "paint" the TV - using yogurt and a metal baby spoon
3. food was smashed, smooshed, and stomped into the floor - numerous times
4. David absolutely destroyed one of his story books

and the grand finale:
Brent was playing with Mary Louise and David and their toys. Mary Louise had a few dolls and her pink tub from the NICU. Brent said, "Mary Louise, did you know that was your very first bath tub? It seemed huge at the time because you were soooo tiny! But it was! It was the first place you took a bath. David, you have one too. You each had your own tub and Mommy and Daddy would visit everyday and loved giving you baths in those tubs."

I was turning the bread out onto a cooling rack. Brent came to take a look and we talked for a minute about something. I noticed that David was at our feet - but the house was very quiet and Mary Louise had disappeared from the play room. I called for her...nothing. I looked for her and noticed the laundry / bathroom door slightly open...

I heard water running...

I found Mary Louise standing on her little stool at the sink - water on - pink tub overflowing in the basin - water covering the floor. She was stripped down to her diaper (which is why she is in only a diaper in the videos). She turned to me and sheepishly whispered, "my take a baff Mommy?"

Sweet baby girl. That's all I've got for that one.

A little while later, I caught Mary Louise showing her true colors:

The above depicts our regular routine during "the witching hour" just before we start bed time preparation. It also demonstrates why I HATE phone calls, unannounced visits, or any other outside interruptions during this time. The kids are about all I can handle that time of day.

David was so sweet "cooking" soup and exploring the different sounds on different pots. Note that he is totally and 100% un-phased by Mary Louise's shenanigans...same birthday - but that's about it as far as similarity!

LOVE these kiddos.


P.S. I forgot to mention that Mary Louise spontaneously counted to 8 correctly!! It's in the above video - a little hard to weed out, but it's there! This is the first time she's counted past 3! Amazing! Also, The breathing treatments seem to have worked. She had just one today and had 2 doses of OTC cough / decongestant. He nose and sinuses are still congested, but she's getting better everyday. This evening, she went to sleep snoring, but only gently and her mouth was closed - win. David is getting better as well - just a very slight runny nose left - no meds, no cough. I feel better as well. Brent has allowed me to squeeze in a couple of naps which have worked wonders along with salt water gargling. I've cleaned and wiped and cleaned in hopes of keeping this sniffle contained to a one time showing. We'll see - but we seem to be on the mend for now!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Every 2 weeks from here on out!

That's right!! Little Suga Bean is 28 weeks old (gestation) today!!! Because I identify with preemie milestones...for obvious reasons...I acknowledge this day for what it is in preemie terms: making it to 28 weeks in pregnancy means your baby generally has a 95% chance of surviving. This is a mortality rate only - not a morbidity rate. From here on out, the general survival rate does not go up, but morbidity rates get better (less chance of profound disabilities) about every 2 weeks. Make sense? (sometimes, I jumble my words...). This is, of course, to be considered a general rule and can be adjusted for individual situations. However, as I haven't had any major complications thus far, I am assuming the general rule applies here. Accordingly, not only is there a cause for celebration everyday this journey continues, but even more so every 2 weeks from here on out (which, if you're keeping count, is around 12 weeks now!!! 3rd trimester!!! Oh. My. Great. Golly!)

So, I invite everyone who has spent moments, months and years in thought, prayer, tears and smiles for our family to commence with their most favorite happy dance moves right this very minute. It's ok - with this belly, I guarantee I look more ridiculous than you do - but since it's Mardi Gras time, I can also guarantee that even at 10:30am, there are people not too far from here looking more ridiculous than all of us.

This morning: a conversation with my sweet baby girl Meesey:
ML: My watch Tom Sawyer Mommy?
Me: Ok. Let me see if Netflix will cooperate...(hiding my surprise at her completely understandable request to view a Mark Twain classic...)
ML: My have sumping to eat Mommy?
Me: (this was after she'd already had yogurt raisins, cheese, crackers, cheerios, bananas, pancakes, bacon, 2 cups of juice and water and I'm sure a few other nibbles) ok, I'll find a nice snack for you.
ML: very casual - almost teenage tone: Thanks.
...and she walks out of the kitchen and makes herself comfortable on the sofa with a Micky Mouse birthday book and begins singing - in correct tone, "Happy Birf-day hoo-hoo!" while flipping the pages.

Is she seriously turning 3 in 2 months? Surely she's more like 13 right? Oh - but then again, I suppose if she were turning 13, she wouldn't be talking to me at all -and more than likely would be sleeping at 8 am rather than eating after being up for 3 hours. Yep. Thanks kids for the 5am wake.

More importantly, thanks Brent for taking them downstairs so that I could try to sleep off this nasty sore throat and post nasal drip that I have acquired after caring for the 2 sickies all week.

It literally rained all day yesterday over here. Miserable, damp cold and torrential rain fell all. day. long. I'm very happy the sun is high and bright today - hoping for a little vitamin D therapy this afternoon!

Gracious thanks for the continued prayers and support...


Friday, February 17, 2012

(sort of) Back on Track

Brent got home Wednesday night after 3 days away on business. His welcome home consisted of an overly exhausted pregnant wife, 2 sick kids - but at least I got the dogs washed, cooked a nice dinner including my first attempt at homemade stone ground whole wheat bread and kept up with minor house cleaning and laundry. So, not a total disaster right?

We are continuing breathing treatments for Mary Louise 3 times per day and as needed at night. For the most part, she wakes in the wee hours of the morning with coughing and we do a treatment. Then one in the morning, one at night with steroids mixed in long with one mid day with just Xopenex are all done making a total of about 4 to 5 treatments in a 24 hour period (this morning, she woke at 4am needing a treatment so we just did her morning dose with steroids and she was fine until around noon). She has a ton of mucous, but it seems to be staying in her sinuses as opposed to sinking into her bronchioles and chest as it has before.

David is doing well recovering from his sniffles so far. He was doing well enough to attend his speech session today. There he did wonderful things - repeating correctly and appropriately, spontaneous utterances that were appropriate and intelligible and rambling on in his David sort of way. He came out and proudly told me about his session, showed me his sticker picture and his pencils he'd chosen for himself and for "my meese" (his Mary Louise). He then jumped (literally) all the way to the car and sang all the way home. (So I think he felt pretty good today).

The Sugs and I are doing well too. Sweet baby kicks constantly (I know I say this all the time, but it's true!). Brent sat next to me touching my belly through a movie last night. Just over and hour in, he said, "no wonder you're always tired! That baby hasn't stopped moving yet!" A few minutes of thought later, he looked at me worried and asked, "umm...the baby does stop at some point during the day right??" *sigh*. My belly is certainly growing, but I tried on a little jumper I wore with the triplets during our hospital stay today only to find it ridiculously enormous. So, as big as I think I am now, it doesn't seem to compare to what I was before - that dress worked quite hard while I was in the hospital but today it looked as if I'd lost weight with the pleats flowing empty around my (apparently little) lump. We have our next OB appointment on Wednesday afternoon. My home blood pressures have risen slightly with exercise (if I take my pressure after climbing the stairs, it is high normal) but at rest have remained just the same - quite low and routinely around 104ish/ 70's. The rise is expected during the next few weeks, so I'm keeping an eye on things just to make sure my medication doesn't need adjusting. My rings still fit just fine and my feet don't seem or feel swollen at all so things are going well there too.

Taking things one day at a time and hoping our feisty Meese is back to telling us all what to do tomorrow!

Big news this week: David has been eating so well that my little string bean needed his diaper snaps adjusted around his waist!! "Too tight wite heeya Momma!"


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Parental confessions: sometimes, things aren't all that fun.

Gah. This week. This week has been - well, less than stellar.

Mary Louise has been on a clingy streak for a number of weeks now. She whines constantly and she and David vie and fight for attention all. day. long. Don't get me wrong: the fact that I've now gone from "Momma" to "Mommy" is really endearing. Also the fact that Mary Louise and David are exploding with new and fun vocabulary has been amazing. But life, none the less, has been over exhausting; and things don't seem to be letting up any time soon.

David woke with rosey cheeks on Monday - not like him at all. Mary Louise was so whiny I could hardly take it. Honestly, it was the equivalent of someone following me all day long letting air slowly leak from a balloon while scratching a chalk board.

The culprit? teething. 2 year molars, as it turns out, are a beast to cut.

Mary Louise has one that has pushed through but the others are still just below the surface of the gum tissue. She has the meanest rash on her bum and I've started a 3 day round of yeast cream just to be safe. (in case you're wondering, she's in disposables right now) None of David's teeth have come through but they are obviously bothering him. Their digestion is completely wrecked - as in constipation - it only took thinking about dosing them to slow things down. The up side is that they are both eating and drinking like mad.

Last night, Mary Louise got up about midnight and had developed some really nasty sinus congestion, sneezing, and a slight wheeze. David had a tiny drip of a runny nose yesterday and I was REALLY hoping it was teething related. Obviously not. My current guess is another cold- type of virus. Mary Louise is no worse this morning and we're through 2 steroid breathing treatments so I'm hoping the snot stays in her face rather than seeping into her chest...but I'm on edge just thinking about another round of this mess.

She was doing really really well since the last illness finally subsided - off of treatments for weeks with no sign of wheezing or coughing. Even now, she is playing, "reading" and this morning asked for pancakes and syrup of which she ate a good portion. So, it **seems*** run of the mill right now. Time will tell.

A side note - maybe one day a teen Mary Louise and David will read this and think better of trying whatever the "cool" inhalant is at the time: The only (environmental) thing we have really noticed that the kids react to is cigarette smoke. It drives them crazy - coughing mostly. We've encountered it at parks a couple of times - a parent will sit on a nearby bench and light up, the wind will carry the smoke in our direction and we typically have to just leave. Nevermind that these places, in my opinion, should be smoke free...

So, life has not been a party here during the past few days. We'll get over it. There are other factors in play as well: anyone want to come give my spoiled dogs a bath and some attention?? How about opening a heart healthy take out place offering low sodium options??

*sigh* Hoping for a restful couple of days and nice Mardi Gras weekend without too many shenanigans.


P.S. David has been learning to hit a ball with a bat! He's working really hard and doing well with it...sometimes I wish he would maybe wait for outside time to do it - but his hand eye coordination is definitely improving so I'll just encourage him to limit his hitting to the ball...in the playroom or hall...and tell Mary Louise to duck and run when he has the bat. They'll work it out - it's not a very hard bat anyhow...ha.

Oh - and Mary Louise just pooped! My day has gotten infinitely better!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Family time

This morning, Mary Louise and David decided 5:30am was an absolutely perfect time for a "Monkey George" viewing. (They absolutely adore Curious George). Brent and I reluctantly obliged and I set about defeating the developing laundry beast while Mary Louise and David snuggled on the sofa and Brent tended to the dogs and Mills (the cat).

We then settled in together and had a little family time. David graciously sang us a song while Mary Louise read aloud.

We made our way out of the house a little later for a family breakfast and to run a few errands. Mary Louise and David have taken to yelling, "GO FAST DADA!!" when Brent drives places...I have no idea where they picked that one up?! They were just so good during breakfast. It was the first time Brent and I were both able to finish our meals and head out the door without feeling as if we needed to stop at each table and apologize for even attempting to bring our heathens in public.

Once home, I rested for a bit on my own while Brent and the kiddos relaxed awhile downstairs. Brent and I divided and conquered the weekly house cleaning when I got up.

Suga and I hit 27 weeks of pregnancy today! 13 weeks (at most) to go! I am still feeling really good and am so thankful for the stronger and stronger kicks and rolls...ok - some of the rolls feel a bit concerning - but I'm trying to keep my over sensitive nerves in check and just enjoy this ride. Brent is sitting here next to me with his hand on my belly trying to feel the kicks as I type. I love watching Brent's face light up as my ever growing belly jumps and jerks.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Totally Blog-worthy Moments and Stories (mostly poop related).

Me: Mary Louise? Do you have a stinky diaper?
Mary Louise: (matter of fact voice while shaking her head) No Momma. I no poo-poo. I just toot toot in my jammies.

In light of our switch to cloth, poop and toileting discussions are definitely the norm here lately. Things are going well. I've adjusted my washing routine a little to compensate for our hard water. I've also happily taken advantage of the sunny weather for diaper drying purposes which easily removes any remnant stains. Brent and I both keep saying how much we really like this whole experience - well - we like it as much as any parent can like dealing with excrement and awesome amounts of urine. We will soon run out of disposable wipes and switch completely to cloth there as well. If I'm washing one thing in a poop load, why not wash more? (no, I didn't buy the fancy reusable wipes - baby wash cloths and a few stitches in layers of "all too small" receiving blankets work wonders for a quick bum wipe).

The diapers have proven to provide some unexpected benefits as well:

Mary Louise and David LOVE to choose the color of their "fwesh fancy diaper Momma!" and get so excited when the color of their diaper matches their chosen outfit for the day. (ha - connoisseurs of fashion already those 2!) They are quickly becoming pros with all of their colors and the choosing process has pushed David to really start to grasp that colors and textures can match (a concept he didn't quite get before).


Flipping the solids with the flushable liners into the potty has offered a visible connection between poop and toilet - putting "things" where they go. Mary Louise and David proudly flush after a dirty diaper - an easy reward that is hopefully laying the ground work for potty training in the near future. Mary Louise has also asked to actually sit on the toilet a number of times - though the success of the squat is limited to the fact that she asked - nothing produced quite yet.

I'm still hopeful...one day...

They are both surprising me more each day with their speech as well. They differentiate between soy, goat and "dada's" milks when asking for milk in their sippie cups. (Brent drinks the 2% - I've never been much of a milk drinker - if they get "Dada's milk, they think it's just about the  best treat ever!). Speaking of sippies, they are doing very very well with them and also working with open cups much much better as compared to just a few weeks ago. They regularly bring me books and often "read" them to me by attempting to describe the pictures and reciting the stories from memory.

They use words such as, "excellent", "beautiful", and "delicious". (they also say "yummy" and "good").

I have a cleansing spray that smells of orange and herbal oils to use when cleaning their bottoms. David makes me laugh when each time I clean him he says, "oooh, mells niiiiice Momma." He seems to have developed quite a southern drawl as he also replies in the positive, "yay-ah" like a little old lady from South Carolina.

David had a really rough time in speech today. The lady with the state program came to our house for her weekly visit and David actually seemed excited at first - but when they sat down to begin working, he burst into tears and wouldn't even face the therapist for the session. We moved outside thinking it would make him more comfortable, but he screamed even more. Finally, I tried going inside and looking through the window. With quite a bit of effort on the part of the therapist, and Mary Louise coaxing him along, David finally began to come around and played a little - though he didn't fully cooperate speech wise the entire time. I am hoping last week's evaluation hasn't somehow scarred him for future speech sessions...but it was really sweet to watch Mary Louise getting David involved in her made up game. I'm still not really sure what happened. David has never acted that way with his home therapist before...she gave compliments again saying that though Mary Louise and David have a ways to go as far as their maturity, she feels they are very bright and will eventually catch up and possibly surpass their peers universally. Amazing. (I have to say, I do agree...*grin*)

Suga is doing well too (it seems): kicking, moving, turning. No doctor appointment this week or next believe it or not. 27 weeks on Sunday!!!!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Time's a Flyin'

I would say that I'm not sure where the past 2 weeks or so went...but I know exactly where they went - we've been busy. There are times when I literally feel like a secretary for Mary Louise and David...many times...and lately, that's been the case:

David had his evaluation with the public school system while Mere and Pops were here helping us. It went, well, badly really. I've never seen him so uncomfortable (and that's saying an awful lot). He clung to me so tightly that there was no way I was even going to TRY prying him loose. They didn't want me to leave or anything. The people were all very nice. But something about just walking in the building made David tense up like I've never seen. There were toys set up in accessible areas and he wanted nothing to do with them. There were 2 boys there when we first arrived to wait and he wouldn't even consider playing with them (they were MUCH bigger than him and seemed pretty aggressive...and one of them had a grandmother who constantly yelled at him - a little bizarre.) 

Anyhow, they decided to do a brief hearing test as he hasn't had one in awhile. The audiologist actually walked around with us with the little headphones attached to David's ears to get a clear reading. (He had to be completely quiet - as opposed to hysterical - for the test to work). He passed and we were off to the next evaluation. 

When the kids turn 3, they officially age out of the Early Intervention system here and are eligible for continued services (if qualified) through the public school system. It gets a little complicated from there. Certain deficiencies require trips to group therapy in a school setting and certain ones are offered in home from what I understand. I'm obviously still navigating it all and learning with the help of our Family Service Coordinator (who happens to be fantastic) and haven't asked that many questions as I'm not sure what, if anything, David will be eligible. 

After the hearing test, I took a break with David in a little rest room. We talked for a minute and I explained, again, that I was not going anywhere and there were some very nice people who just wanted to see him and get to know how great he is - then we'd go right home. He nodded and seemed a little better - for a minute or 2. Then we walked into the room with 2 therapists and a social worker. 

Toys were on the table, they all spoke very quietly and gave him plenty of time to warm up (which eventually he did) and by the end, he was sitting in the lap of the speech therapist after kicking a ball around the room and digging in every drawer he could reach. He didn't say all that much though so to complete the evaluation, the therapists and social worker thought it best to schedule a home visit. They'll be here at the end of the month and we'll see where things go from there. 

Sweet David was totally exhausted after the - umm- experience...to be honest, so was I. We'll continue to follow through though and see what the completed evaluation says about our little guy and go from there...

In other news, we have officially and completely switched to cloth diapers! I'm pretty excited about it - and the money it's saving:

We were still spending about $100 per month in disposable diapers and supplies. David still had relatively chronic irritation warranting constantly application of diaper creams to keep his skin as healthy as possible - and let's not forget (for a second) about our little Sugs on the way!! So, the start up cost for 14 pocket one size diapers (I chose Fuzzi Bunz brand after MUCH research and milling over the issue) is right at $340. No joke and no small expense. It included the diapers with inserts- which fit babies from 7 to 35 pounds and are wildly adjustable - detergent for about 3 months (or a little less time than that), 2 dry diaper pail hanging bags, a natural cleaner for the kids' bums that I plan on making myself after this small bottle runs out, and 100 flushable liners (to catch poop) rather than using a "dunk and flush" system or a sprayer. The 14 diapers have proven to be enough of a stash for now with the little ones. I will likely order some cloth contours with a few covers for the new baby - at an estimated expense of $100 bringing the total investment to $440. There will be recurring costs for flushable liners which I have since found for about $8 for 200 as well as the detergent cost which is $15 for 90 loads and I do a load of diapers every day and a half or so - many times daily. There are no long soaks - unless the diapers get stinky which depends on the washing machine, water level, diet of the child, and proper detergent use from what I've read. It's actually comparable to loading, running and unloading the dishwasher: an extra thing in the day that can pretty easily just become part of a routine. The diaper "pails" make things easy and touch free with the way they are made and with very little practice, this has simply become part of our everyday. Oh - and that almost constant irritation sweet David had been experiencing is completely gone - no more creams (though we could use some in a pinch with the flushable liners in place) and the wash I got has made cleaning so much easier. 

So that's that - I'm still learning - but I'm really loving the ease of this transition - and again, the money we'll save in the long run doing things this way. 4 to 5 months to almost no diapering costs? yes please! (oh, and I suppose it's work mentioning that this makes my hippie side pretty stinkin' happy as well - as in, it's doing a Woodstock-ish jig as I type). 

And finally, my dear dear Granny made her way here for a visit. We've had Granny, Collin, and his girlfriend Lhee here for a few days and have so enjoyed their company. Though it's been an exceptionally difficult time for Granny, we've had a few laughs, a number of trips down memory lane, and a good cry - or 14: all part of life - especially now. 

Granny has read to Mary Louise and David each afternoon as they snuggled with her on the sofa for a few minutes. Of course I took photos- desperately wanting to freeze each minute in time.

My burgeoning belly made 26 weeks yesterday. Today, I'll administer my progesterone shot and start the final 10 countdown (for those) as I stop the injections at 36 weeks gestation. Little Suga kept me up for awhile last  night by beating up my right side. It was pretty fantastic even though I was exhausted. At times, my belly jumps and wiggles so much it can easily be seen through my clothes. Active little buggar - yep - another LeBlanc baby for sure!