How Old is Hallie?

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Friday, January 26, 2007


Hallie still hasn't replicated her rollover routine of a few weeks ago. I think (hope?) that's a result of the fact that she is focused entirely (almost) on sitting up. When we were in the ICN's transitional nursery, we began to play the 'pull-to-sit' game with Hallie because one of the physical therapists told us that this was a good thing for her to learn. Hallie continues to see it as a game, but, additionally, recognizes that this provides her with a new window on the universe that is simply unattainable by lying down. And, since she's a huge busy-body, a window on the universe is a very good thing. This is great for her stomach muscles but a major pain in the butt when the kid is eating.

Anyway, our nosy little girl has also determined that holding her head up high while on her stomach provides her with the same vantage point. So she's begun doing this more and more, and at the same time, tucking her knees in and pushing up a bit more on her arms and holding her upper body up with her hands. Yesterday, I got this great shot of her doing what I'm terming proto-crawling:

As soon as the crawling becomes real, watch out, because we're really in trouble. As any of you who have ever been to our home know, our stairs are a menace and our nosy little Hallie Rose will be sure to find them long before her moms (in an emergency kind of way) run out to Babys-R-Us to invest in a few baby gates.

Later on, I'll try to get a nice messy shot of Hallie eating her rice cereal. This is a new addition to her daily meal and, needless to say, the splatter mat is already on the way!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Best Birthday Present for Mama... a stellar first (3-month, corrected) evaluation for Hallie.

Hallie had a very big day yesterday. We went back to Pennsylvania Hospital to have her evaluated by the physical therapist and neonatologist who do preemie follow-up. We all got up early and gave the girl a proper, lavender-infused bath and dressed her up in a cotton-candy colored velour striped outfit that made her look particularly fetching and also seemed to be proper play attire and headed off to the extremely familiar former-home-away-from-home at 8th and Spruce Streets. We kind of got lost on our way to our destination because we had never turned right after getting off the elevators (as you might suspect, the ICN is to the left), but we managed to find the proper door despite the extremely poor signage. We came in the back way, though, and sort of surprised everyone. Happily, the 'everyone' involved included most of the doctors who took care of Hallie during her long stay, who marvelled at how big and alert Hallie looks and how, even though she is fine being held by others (including the doctor responsible for getting her off the vent the first, second, and third times), she is mostly interested in looking at us.

Anyway, after greeting a few of her old doctors, and some skeptical looking around ('hey, this place seems familiar, and not always in a good way. And why is my heel hurting; is this a ghost of a heel stick I feel?"), Hallie got down to business. And, to tell you the truth, she didn't just impress Katie (who handles developmental PT), but us. We knew that she tracked well, but having no training or knowledge of the Bayley Assessment, we had no idea that she was supposed to track and then decide which picture or object was more interesting. But she did choose the 'right' object/picture time and time again, and did good stuff like grasp the little pink rattle with both hands, bring it up to her face, lick it (I am presuming they sanitize it between babies), and almost transferred it from hand to hand (something I'd never seen her do. I guess this rattle is much lighter than the ones she has at home and hence much easier for her to manipulate). And she did her fun pull-to-sit routine, held her head high while on her tummy, and look at herself in the mirror. And she responded well to the sounds they presented to her. All in all, she did a very nice job and, other than a bit of reflex tightness in her legs (which the doctor said was appropriate both for her age and her prematurity), they have no concerns right now.

This surprised them, and they were very upfront about this. The doctor who did the assessment (she's one that we got very close to this summer) admitted that they had no idea what to expect, and that they were sort of dreading Hallie's assessment in the way that they dread the assessment of any baby this premature, and so when she performed so well, they were thrilled. In a word, Hallie made us very proud yesterday.

The whole experience was exhausting for her though, so she was pooped out and not into doing much more than sleeping yesterday. Which has her overly hungry right now, so I need to go feed her for the second time this morning, even though it's still before nine am here! Gotta keep the kid growing (she weighed in at 11 lbs. 15 ounces, and is an inch taller than she was last time we checked--about 59.something centimeters. No more pictures right now but we'll hopefully add some in later on....

Monday, January 22, 2007

Weekend Update; Our First Snow

I really need to be getting to bed so that I can trudge through the snow to the bus to the train to the bridge to the campus in the morning (none of this trudging is in fact an exagerration---I am a former New Yorker with a driver's license who doesn't drive and who thus does a fair share of trudging). Moreover, I will need to trudge through the SNOW. We actually got some this evening, but it happened too late in the day to bundle up Hallie and show it to her in person. But just so we have documentary evidence that it did indeed snow in Philly in 2007, here's my image, and I promise it isn't photoshopped:

I guess the good news is that I am finally going to get to wear my Merrell Primo Chill snowboots. The bad news is that this won't be much of a fashion statement.

Otherwise, I have be sorely remiss about uploading pictures to my computer and hence to this blog.

First off, I've got some lovely pictures of Hallie's visit with Uncle Greg (my brother) and Aunt Maria (his fiancee), who came for a visit last Sunday. They were amazed at Hallie (what can I say?) and had a great time with her. Here's one of the proud Uncle and Aunt:

Uncle Greg and Aunt Maria also brought Hallie some lovely Valentine's Day duds and we are looking forward to dressing her up in them. Hopefully, once summer gets here, the O2 will be a thing of the past and we can bring Hallie up to their house in Putnam County, New York to hang out in the swimming pool. That will be a lot of fun for all of us (especially since winter is now a reality in these here--and I suspect those there---parts).

Greg and Maria also took a rare picture of the three of us. Usually, either Sharon or I are designated photographers and hence only one of us at a time appear in a shot with our little pumpkin:

Finally, this weekend, not only did Hallie have another visit from her Grammy and her Grammy's friend Franny, who hung out with our girl but somehow managed to evade having their images captured digitally, but she also got to play dress up (and was subjected to yet another one of our interminable photoshoots) in a lovely new outfit that our neighbors Denise, Danny, and Gianna got for her. Here are a series of clever girl shots from this evening:

Now, of course, we all know that knuckles are DELICIOUS...

...but I had no idea that dresses could be so tasty!

And for those of you who remember how much Hallie loved to have a towel or blanket over her head in the ICN, this one's for you:

Anyway, that's all folks. It's really late and while my lesson plan for tomorrow is done, I need to get to bed before I turn into a total pumpkin, not of the cute Hallie-like variety, but of the very tired, pooped, and not-terribly-effective-professor variety!

Meanwhile, please wish us luck with our first ever developmental follow up appointment, which happens this Wednesday (also my birthday). We don't really know what to expect so we are having trouble 'teaching-for-testing' around here. Which is probably just as well! But whatever happens, you guys (also known as "Time Magazine People of the Year 2006" will be the firsts to know.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Early Updates

I only started blogging about our life with Hallie a few weeks ago. Prior to that, I sent out a whole host of updates on a fairly regular basis via email. The early ones, which date back to right after the girls were born, contain a lot of technical information and might be of some use to parents out there dealing with the birth of their own micropreemies. Taken as a whole, they flesh out our experience and provide a window on our lives during the first seven months of Hallie's life. I decided to create a sub-blog that contains all of the posts in a single entry and will try to go back and add in some pictures later. It's probably best, if you'd like to comment, to comment here rather than there since I won't be logging onto that blog often, if at all. Anyway, the link to this update blog is in the side bar under "Old Updates--NICU diaries, etc--Twins then Hallie".

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Walk America: Team Hallie and Olivia

Now that winter is finally here *, I thought I'd put a plug in for our Walk America team. Several of you loyal readers have already mentioned that you'd like to join the team---you can do so by clicking on the 'team hallie and olivia" selection in the side bar. Just follow the prompts from there. Even if you cannot join us, please consider sponsoring me or Sharon or anyone else who does join us. This is a pretty major event in our lives and we're hoping that Hallie--who is studiously working on her sitting-up routine--will be riding in the sitting up position in her stroller. And if the weather is nice, we'll even consider a picnic in Fairmount Park afterwards.

*yes, we got about a half an hour of snow flurries this afternoon and I held Hallie up to the window to witness her first snow. I am not sure whether she found it impressive; I did not. I hate snow (something that is perhaps odd once you consider that I am a Russian historian) but think it weird that the winter temps around here have averaged in the 50s and that we've had NO snow whatsoever that has stuck). But still, this is odd. And I am not fool enough to believe that the utter lack of white stuff is related to my purchasing of decent snow boots, either!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sweet Candy Cane Kid/Weekend Update

Hallie is getting cuter and cuter every day. This morning she woke up all smiley--probably due to the fact that she removed her cannula again some time in the night and presented it to me (it was in her hands, but not on her face) as a trophy when I got her out of her bouncy seat (where she sleeps, at least until she gets too big for it and her legs dangle over the sides) to change her and give her a bottle. She cooed and made a whole host of new sounds this morning, and did her typical laughing and giggling on the changing table. For the life of us, we have no idea what is so funny about the syllable "oooh", but she thinks it's the most hilarious thing she's ever heard.

She still won't smile on demand, and particularly not for the camera. So it took a while to get this shot of Hallie modellng what has to be my favorite seasonal outfit:

Hallie's personality is generally pretty bubbly and, as they say in South Philly, she's "newsy." While she doesn't get out much, she does see a lot of doctors, and flirts with all of them. And today, as we left our GI appointment, I walked out of the hospital holding her since I had just given her a bottle and didn't want her to send it back up, so to speak. So I got to carry her through the throngs of people at Children's Hospital, and she flirted with all of them. I felt like a proud mama.

And speaking of proud mama, here's the stats that you've been waiting for (I'm sure). She now weighs a whopping 5280 grams (11 lbs., 10+ ounces), up from 11 pounds 2 ounces last Friday, 11 pounds 5 ounces on Monday. She's had a pretty good eating week, though she (and the rest of the family) had a touch of an upset tummy yesterday. But she's now back to normal, and growing like a weed. Her length is somewhere between 22 and 23 inches (57-58 cm) and her head circumference is 40 cm. She's around the 25th-50th percentile for weight (corrected age) and between 10th and 25th for length and 50th for head.

She's been very interactive with her toys lately and has really enjoyed banging away at the Leap Frog musical table we got her for the holidays. She likes pretty much anything musical, and especially musical things that light up. And she's been practicing sitting up a lot this week. She can hold her head up very well, but if we let go of her from the sitting position, she often slumps over to one side or the next after a second or two. She's also having a blast playing in her exersaucer and reaching for the toys attached to it. This not only enables her to stay upright and practice bearing weight on her legs, but also allows both of us to eat dinner at the dining table together. This is a very good thing.

Right now, Hallie is catching up on some sleep and is gearing up for the big game tomorrow between the Eagles and the Louisiana Saints. She and I will hang out on the couch and she'll crack open a cold one (of formula) and root for the home team.

Happy Saturday everyone!


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Happy Seven Month Birthday, Hallie!

Today, Hallie is seven months old. It's hard to believe that, seven months ago (in a few short hours), Sharon was going into hard labor with Hallie and Livvie. In some ways it seems like just yesterday; in other ways, like a million years and a lifetime ago.

Hallie celebrated her day by having few if any naps. Usually, it is Sharon who is concerned about Hallie's sleeping, and me with whether she is taking in enough ounces of her bottle. So it's refreshing (in a twisted sort of way) to have this reversal of roles. Indeed, one of the most interesting aspects of my relationship with Sharon is that, just when we think we've assumed stable identities, one or both of us change things up and end up reversing our positions. For example, I'm usually the one who is presumed to be anxiety-ridden and panicked about the least little thing. Two weeks ago, though, when we thought Hallie had caught the nasty cold that both of us had, Sharon was the one who was a bag of nerves and I was the one who said: 'listen, let's just wait and see. We can up her Albuterol dose as per the recommendations of her pulmonologist, monitor her temps and sats on the pulse ox, and not just run into the doctor's office.' Thankfully, she satted 100 even when she was playing and kicking up a storm, and she had no fever, and never did end up with our cold. Anyway, back to today: she ate well, but slept hardly a wink, so I have her in her bouncy seat nodding off next to me. Let's hope she gets a good hour in before Sharon gets home from work.

Part of the reason why Hallie didn't nap is because my mom, Grandma or Bubbe Jean, has come for a visit. She was thrilled to see how big Hallie has gotten and how well she looks. Hallie was very interested in Bubbe Jean and hence refused to sleep because it was totally more interesting to watch her grandmother. My mom brought Hallie a lovely jacket from Baby Gap because, as all of you who have seen Hallie's closet know, the kid simply does not have enough clothes (this is highly sarcastic; at some point I will take a picture of Hallie's closet and post it here---it really is astounding how much the kid owns in the way of outfits. She puts her mommies to shame---we walk around in formula-smeared rumpled sweaters and pjs that we've been wearing for days, and the kid is in a fresh outfit and has a new look every day, or every half day, really.

I'll post a seventh month shot of the kiddo in her snow bunny overalls (she looks totally cute in them) after dinner.

Meanwhile, please join us in a rousing chorus of Happy 7 month Birthday Hallie at 12:38am tonight, and please remember to reprise it in memory of Livvie two minutes later.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Interesting and sometimes infuriating conversation on 24 weekers...

...over at Neonatal Doc.

I've been reading and re-reading (and sometimes adding in my own addled responses to) the most recent post over at NeoNatal Doc.

I highly recommend his site and the very level-headed Ex Utero (who happens to be a fabulous writer, to boot) if you are into the medical blog thing.

And, for those of you who are micropreemie parents, I urge you to add in your own two cents on this issue. It would be useful for the medical world to hear what we have to say. One of the commenters--herself a parent of a preemie who has published in the field--has suggested that it's the doctors, not the parents, who are interested in aggressively treating micropreemies because it furthers their own capacity to experiment on these kids and that, it would be in the best interests of the babies and their parents to offer comfort or hospice care to micropreemies. From personal experience, I don't find this to be the case at all and, if anything, we were much more interested in giving Hallie and Livvie a chance than some of the doctors initially were. When we made our decision, they certainly poured their heart out into saving the girls, but all along provided us with reality checks when, sadly, they were necessary.

Anyway, I'm not going to recap the post or the comment seciton--just toodle on over if this is of interest to you. And feel free to let folks know what you think.


Sunday, January 7, 2007

Hallie's Fun Filled Weekend

Hallie had a wonderfully jam-packed weekend. It started with Grammy's arrival for a visit on Friday. Hallie had tons of fun playing with her Grammy and showing off all of her new tricks. Her current favorite activity is "pulling to sit." Sometimes, when she's lying on our laps taking a bottle, she starts beating us furiously and pushing herself up into a sitting position. She can't quite do it on her own just yet, but her mommies comply with her requests (it's either that or risk showing up at work bruised and having to explain that our preemie was responsible for the damage). Here's a great shot of Hallie doing her sitting up routine:

Saturday was gorgeous here in Philly. It was an unseasonable, global-warming induced 72 degrees and sunny. We just had to take the munchkin out for a stroll to the park. We got Hallie dressed and into her underused stroller (unless you count the 40,000 miles we've put on it taking her to various doctors' visits) and went out the front door. A nice wind came by just as we got outside and you could just see the neural pathways establishing themselves in Hallie's brain as she felt her first wind.

Our block is filled with others who have little kids, and so we went and hung out in front of a neighbor's rowhome and introduced Hallie to some of her future playmates. Then we all headed down the block to the neighborhood park where the big kids swung on swings and engaged in general big-kid merriment. Hallie, meanwhile, used the opportunity for a nice nap in the sun:

All of that was very fun. But her best day had to be Sunday. Not only did she start out by breaking her all-time record by taking a FIVE ounce bottle for the very first time (and did it in a record half-hour; to put this into some perspective, let's just say that there have been those days when it's been impossible to get one ounce into her in one-and-a-half hours). But she also experienced an exersaucer for the very first time. It would be an understatement to say that she enjoyed it:

And, finally, of course there is football. Hallie was extremely excited about the Eagles being in the Wildcard Playoffs and thrilled that they got to take on their arch-rivals, the NY Giants. She enjoyed the cliffhanger ending of the Seahawks/Dallas matchup last night and was glad that T.O. (Terrell Owens, for those of you out of the football universe) has been stripped of further opportunities to gloat about how he's going to beat the Birds. But today's game was her real focus. So much so that she and her best friend Karina had to go out and get new outfits for the occasion:

What's remarkable here is that the sweatshirt that Hallie is wearing is size 18 months. We thought it would be swimming on her, but it was not. I am not sure whether this is due to the fact that sizing in baby's clothing is kind of random and inexplicable, or if it's because she really does have a linebacker's build.

Anyway, there were a few rough moments when our girls were pretty upset at the play and when it really did look like our underdog team might not be able to pull it off...

...but David Akers (Philly's field goal kicker) and Mommy saved the day...

Well, this mama is certainly glad that Hallie and Karina were pulling for the home team because it means that her girls will get at least one more chance to wear their Eagles' gear. Who knows, by next year Hallie might be wearing a 2T!

Have a lovely start to the week and tune in later for more Hallie adventures---we have a Feeding and Swallowing Clinic appointment in a few short hours and that is bound to be loads of fun!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

In Memory of a Brave Little Girl

This post is dedicated to Little Miss Emily, who came into this world far too soon and who left us all far too early.

Emily was a strong, determined little girl: she had so much going against her---yet she fought on so hard, so bravely. Her fight was a long one, and a good one. She proved so much more resilient than anyone had thought such a tiny little girl could be, and, through her fight and her bravery, she taught us so much.

Tonight, as I read her father's final posts about his little girl and the fight that she ultimately lost, I wept. I will never forget Little Miss Emily and her resilient spirit.

May Little Miss Emily rest in peace and may her parents find solace in this time of loss and grief.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Hallie's Holidays

Hallie Rose has had a nice holiday season. On Hallowe'en, she'd been home for three weeks, and the weather here in Philly was wonderful. She spent the morning with her former-primary-nurse-now-adopted-Aunt Ellen, who took a few pictures with the kiddo in her pink candy dress:

Meanwhile, her Mommy carved two excellent pumpkins. Fortunately, I had been able to find battery-operated blinking lights at Target. Obviously, given the fact that we have oxygen all around us, candles were out of the question:

Later that evening, we dressed Hallie in the costume we'd gotten for her. What else could she be but a baby dragon? She sounded just like one; I guess that's what 9.5 weeks of intubation will do for you. Next year, she'll be the incredible hulk since she does a wonderful impression of the Hulk while hulking during her morning bottle. I'll leave it up to your imagination as to what it is that she's really busying herself with during that time...

Thanksgiving was relatively low key. Aunt Laura, Uncle Bryan, and the kiddies were in Maryland celebrating with Bryan's family, and Grammy came here for a visit. Mama (that's me) helped Mark (our next door neighbor) brine his turkey and did some of the sides (biscuits, gravy, and roasted veggies). We tag-teamed our dinner---Sharon and Grammy went over to Mark and Vanessa's for a while and I took care of the babe, and then vice versa. It was good to be able to keep Hallie at home (given our concerns about RSV, it seemed foolish not to do this), but sort of was denouement since I am a big fan of Thanksgiving and it was 'our turn' to host it at home (Aunt Laura and I alternate). Even so, we had so very much to be thankful for this year, even given all of our disappointments and sorrows.

Hallie celebrated with a bath, which she enjoyed. She's getting better and better at taking tub baths (on her changing table, which reminds her of the ICN scale, which for some perverse reason she's always loved. Let's see how much she likes scales later on in life!):

Our winter holidays are a sort of weirdly mixed up set of rituals. I come from a family that was half Orthodox Jewish (but my dad cheated a lot and pretended to go to Oneg Shabbats--sabbath festivals--on Friday nights when he was really playing baseball) and Bundist/Socialist/Zionist Jewish (my mom's side was less observant, but she grew up speaking Yiddish). I spent 12 years in a hebrew day school, considered becoming a Rabbi (but the Conservative movement wasn't taking lesbians back then, and I am not sure they are yet, but soon will be) and off and on have had crises of faith. Sharon was raised Catholic, but her mom is half Ukrainian Jewish and her dad's family is from some sort of German Protestant background and hated Catholics and Jews. It's recently turned out that they were part Jewish, too. Very mixed up, as I said. I find the whole thing fascinating. We're raising Hallie Jewish (we have a great synagogue in Philly whose rabbi is a preemie parent), but with a dose of Santa-Claus-Christmas-tree belief. I think that, all things considered, I like Christmas trees as much or more than Sharon does. There was an interesting article in the "Style" section of the Sunday NY Times on this a few weeks back. We've decided that a. Hallie is Jewish b. Hallie will have Santa and reindeers and such for as long as her cousins do and c. we're a very confused, or very ecumenical, family---depending on how you see things.

Anyway, normally, we light a regular hannukah menorah with candles in it. Most electric menorahs are terribly cheesy and I hate them. But this year, for the aforementioned obvious reasons, that wasn't going to happen. So I purchased a very tasteful electric menorah from the Jewish Museum Gift Shop (where I used to work during my freshman year of college) , along with a fabulous dreidel slinky and a somewhat diabolical musical spinning dreidel. We 'lit' that each night, and had latkes (potato pancakes; thank goodness for Cuisinarts---I don't know how my grandmother handled all that potato grating by hand). On X-mas we celebrated the way that all good Philadelphians do--by watching the Eagles game. Hallie, it turns out, not only looks like a miniature linebacker, but also has a tv- and particularly football-watching habit already. If we make it to the superbowl (who says there aren't miracles?) I am definitely going out and buying her a miniature Eagle's shirt. Hopefully with Jeff Garcia's number on it (fill in quarterback, and like Hallie, very much the underdog).

We did take some lovely pictures of Hallie by our fake tree for the holiday card. Only one of these feature a smile. The rest are of Hallie in various stages of confusion and/or meltdown:

I think that's all for now. I'm not entirely caught up, but that's plenty for one evening!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Some kids have security blankets...

...and other kids have security cannula. Hallie has taken to grasping her nasal cannula tubing all the time. She waves her hands at us holding her cannula. She sleeps holding her cannula. And she sits in her Bumbo chair holding her cannula:

I guess that it makes some sense given that she never goes anywhere without her cannula...except for when she rips it off of her face (about 20 times a day these days). But I don't think that she makes the connection, so to speak, between the evil prongs in her nose and her beloved cannula.

We're trying to get her to hold her lovies and taggies and blankets, but nothing oh nothing is better than her lovely cannula.

Oh, the life of a preemie on oxygen.

I'm not sure what we're going to do when she's finally off the oxygen (can't come a moment too soon for all of us) and we need to explain why our kid runs around with a piece of plastic tubing in her hands at all times.

2006: A Pictorial Retrospective. Part II

I wanted to add a few photos from the past three months, since they were pretty darned momentous for us.

But first, I just wanted to ask everyone to say a word of prayer--I am not sure that it matters to whom or to what you pray--for a little girl that we know. She's five months old, 6 weeks corrected, and was in the ICN at Pennsylvania Hospital in the same nursery as Hallie. She is a surviving triplet and 24 weeker and she is having a really rough time of it right now. She is a gorgeous little girl with parents who love her very much and want desperately to bring her home. We want the same thing for them. So please say a prayer for little Miss Emily (her blog is linked under "Emily" in our preemie pal link section). Emily is a fighter, but she could use all of our collective help.

Now onto our saga.

We made it home by three pm on October 10, 2006. We were going to wait for shift change since Hallie's night-shift primaries had rearranged their schedules so that they would be there on her homecoming day. We're very attached to Hallie's primaries (who totally rock!) and we wanted to be able to hug them goodbye, and even more importantly, have them hug the little girl whose head they molded to a perfect round shape and whose little body they held during the two or three hours a day we weren't there. We knew even then that we'd be staying in touch with Ellen and Corinne, but still, the symbolism of leave-taking is pretty significant. Anyway, the ICN kind of needed Hallie's bed and it was nice to think of getting her out of the hospital, so we strapped her in her car seat and her primary nurse, Meghan, walked us downstairs to the car. She gave Hallie a big hug and a huge Meghan high-five and off we went. Hallie fell asleep for the eight block ride and slept through our opening of champagne and pretty much just chilled out while Sharon, Vanessa, and Sheila and I got used to the idea of not going to Pennsylvania Hospital all the time.

Then we put her in our stroller (might I recommend the Peg Perego A3? It's a great stroller for preemies because it flips into a bassinet and it also has the capacity to attach car seats and it turns on a dime). And headed back to the ICN. This was just around shift change. Meghan convinced us that it was a nice day and hence okay to take her out. And this way we'd be able to set out all the goodies (I'd also like to recommend hoagies from Sarcone's deli if you are ever in Philly) for the night shift and get our hugs in. It was an amazing time for all of us, but no pictures exist. It was too dark on the stroller walk and somehow my picture taking skills fell short during our brief visit with the primaries. INstead, I'm pasting their pictures below:

After that, we returned home to 'normal life', which apparently means feeding, pooping, and not sleeping much (if you are us) and more (if you are Hallie). Hallie quickly developed into a baby who liked to be held while she was sleeping, and one morning, I woke up and came downstairs and found her and her mommy like this:

This was an irresistibly cute shot. It's a bit blurry since I didn't want to wake either of them to take the picture, so I didn't use a flash.

It also turns out that Hallie wakes up with the same stretching routine that Sharon engages in every morning. And they both are champion eyebrow raisers. Though Hallie can raise her whole scalp. Very cool.

Hallie also began to spend a lot of time doing exercises on her tummy. She's progressed far in her tummy time over the past three months and has gone from just being able to raise her head to being able to hold it up for long periods of time at a ninety degree angle. She's very, very curious about the world around her and hates to miss anything. Here are a few selected Hallie tummy time poses from over the past three months:


Early December 2006:

December 27, 2006:

She has been practicing her moves a lot lately, and is doing great. She sees a Special Instructor every week, and is about to add an Occupational Therapist to deal with her reflux, feeding, and disorganization issues while feeding.

Hallie is a hard worker and a very determined little girl. She's managed to roll over four or five times but most of the time, gets about half way, balances on her side in her crib (which is used for playing, not sleeping, to our great dismay) and then kind of hangs out there. She'll get the hang of things soon and be rolling like a champ in the new year. Meanwhile, here's evidence of the fact that she did roll over a few times already:

Hallie has also been spending a limiteda amount of time getting to know friends, family, and of course, her numerous doctors. She's totally interested in everyone she meets and tracks them. Needless to say, everyone washes and Purells really well and stays away if they have even the slightest chance of an illness. Mommy and I, however, had to take care of her when we were sick, and this was a bit anxiety-producing. But Hallie's RSV shots seemed to have worked really well (and we are giving her a little breast milk in each painfully slow bottle that we feed her, which hopefully also boosts her immunity). So Hallie has stayed well the entire time she has been home, so far. Let's hope this trend continues since we really are not terribly fond of going to CHOP, and certainly not staying there for any more than we have to for her doctors' visits (which are too numerous to contemplate, unless of course you are the parent of a preemie, and then you know exactly what our medical visit schedule is like).

Sometimes Hallie's love of people distracts her from playing with her toys, unless of course we are talking about her cool mobile (which she speaks to) and her tiny tot gym mat with her Lamaze mirror suspended over it. Our theory is that she thinks that she is making eyes at another baby, who is making eyes back at her.

Here's a photo of her grabbing her toys and playing with them on her mat:

Anyway, that's all for now. There will be a third pictorial retrospective of Hallie's first holidays and Hallie's friends later on this week.

I hope that everyone is off to a good start this year, and again, please pray for Little Miss Emily.


Tuesday, January 2, 2007

2006: A Pictorial Retrospective

This isn't a thorough look back on 2006, but just a brief pictorial timeline of our life last year. Its focus is on the NICU days, which ended on 10-10-06. I'll post more pics later.

Our Wedding: (This is actually August 2005, but it's where it all began)

Big Fat Positive--Ultrasound Week 10:

Bailey, before she began her serious decline. We miss her a lot. We know she was waiting for Hallie to come home, but her poor little body wasn't strong enough to make it. Rest in peace, dog of my dreams and my waking hours.

The NICU Stay:

Holding Olivia's Hand

Hallie in her froggy pose

Hallie's first shirt--peeking out

The Milk Bank:

Satting Well, for once:

Kangarooing Hallie

Hallie and her Mama (Hallie's first try on CPAP)

Hallie hates CPAP:

Hallie loves her zakyz:

Hallie's not sure what to make of her first bottle:

Baby Signs: This one is for Carol!

Hallie's Shower: 9/16/06

Hallie meets her big cousins Sarah and Megan 9/16/06:

Hallie's Homecoming (10/10/06) after 121 days in the ICN:

Sharon helps plant Olivia's Grove in Pastorius Park, Chestnut Hill, PA: