How Old is Hallie?

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sitting pretty, standing tall, and breathing like a champ

Even though this is only Tuesday, Hallie has already had a pretty busy week. It started out with a visit to the pulmonologist. Given that these visits are usually long and involve a lot, it's kind of odd how much Hallie enjoys them. While she might not smile at her pediatrician (who is super cute, and makes us smile), she LOVES the pulmonolgists and thinks that her visits there are an opportunity to giggle, wiggle, and play. So she was in her characteristically good mood for the entire visit, which lasted longer than usual because the Pulmonology fellow was having such a good time hanging out and playing with Hallie.

But, of course, they did more than just hang out. First, they weighed Hallie. She weighed in at a whopping 13 lbs, which is equivalent to TEN times her birth weight. This is pretty impressive. And it's getting harder and harder to believe that she once weighed 590 grams.

Then they checked her pulse ox. This was the second visit we've made to a doctor which did not involve the transportation of supplemental oxygen. Suffice it to say that it's a whole lot easier to get her in and out of the car and stroller without lugging an oxygen tank (even the nice little backpack kind), not to mention easier to weigh her and get her in and out of her clothing. Anyway, they checked her oxygenation level and she was satting 100% WITHOUT assistance. We can still remember the times, not so long ago, when she'd dip into the 80s (not to mention the occasional 20s, but we're trying to forget that) on Os. So Sharon had a lovely time watching her wiggle and wriggle and still sat like a champ.

Then they listened to her lungs and they sounded great. Her upper airway is still congested, which is not too surprising given that she just had the croup, probably still has a floppy airway from being intubated for so long, and may have some residual reflux. But they were satisfied with how she sounded, particularly since she did have a cold/croup last week. They were very surprised that she managed to get through being sick without needing hospitalization and felt that this spoke well for her lungs and general sturdiness. We are grateful for this, over and over.

The plan for the future is to do an overnight pulseoxometry check (with a downloadable machine at home, instead of doing a regular sleep study in the hospital) and to see whether she needs any support during REM sleep. If not, we may be able to lose the oxygen all together. Meanwhile, we have to keep her growing, and ideally growing faster. She's currently at the 25th percentile for height and weight at her corrected age (just shy of 5 months) but they want her on the nonadjusted chart sooner rather than later. This means that she needs to get bigger faster. We're not sure how we're going to accomplish this, and of course this feeds (so to speak) our obsession with food volume. But she is getting easier to feed and is beginning to exhibit some interest in bigger bottles and solids. Last night she had her favorite meal ever: prunes and applesauce. Yum. This, of course has had some consequences. In the realm of too much information: Her middle of the night poop was so, um, fragrant, that I wasn't sure I could bear changing her. Of course, I wasn't about to let her sit in a dirty diaper, so I pinched my nose and tried to ignore the stench. This was followed by two more mammoth poops this afternoon and I won't be surprised if there isn't a third on the horizon. So, tonight, we're trying prunes mixed with bananas instead.

In addition to breathing well, she is also much more stable and balanced. She's been practicing her standing:

Notice the funny little look on her face!

And today, during a most excellent session with her Special Instructor Crystal, she held a sitting position on her own for a personal best of 24 seconds. She's correcting her balance on her own, putting her arms out to catch herself and is in the process of forgetting that she doesn't know how to sit (mostly because she DOES know how to sit). I hand it to Sharon for practicing with Hallie a lot yesterday. This is one determined little girl, and I feel honored to be her mom. Anyway, here's one of many shots I took. In it, she is being 'supported' by loosely grasping Crystal's finger; there are other shots where she is sitting on her own but they're a bit blurry.

Finally, Hallie is beginning to scooch. Most of the time she needs something she can push off of--like my legs. But she's managed to do this on her own a few times. She gets really frustrated, but she's so determined to reach her beloved clutch cube!

Micropreemie Play Date

This is one of those much overdue blog entries...I meant to get to it last week, but then last week became this week...and well, you get the picture.

Anyway, about three weeks ago, Hallie had her first real play date with a former ICN-mate named Maya. Her mom, Rachel was nice enough to bring Maya to our house for the visit since Hallie was still on oxygen at that point. It was really great to see them. Rachel and her whole family were an important part of our support network while in the hospital. Our families share a similar philosophy on caring for our children. They helped to make us feel like we weren't the only crazy ones for staying at the hospital all day and night no matter how much the doctors and nurses told us to go home.

But the girls have come a long way since then and it was amazing to see them interacting with each other. At first they were more interested in grabbing each other's toys (even though they have the same ones) and then Maya slowly started to notice Hallie by grabbing at her feet.

Then Hallie responded by trying to grab Maya's nose.

It was not malicious though. It was more like, "Hey, you've got a nose!". In fact we were all remarking on things they have in common. Like, they have the same hairdo:

(Notice Maya also likes grabbing the nasal cannula tubing. It apparently can be marketed as a fine motor skill building toy!)

And they BOTH have big eyes and long eyelashes.

Hallie really enjoys tummy time but Maya enjoys sitting and she eats a lot better than Hallie. (Alas I have no pictures of this, but suffice it to say that Maya downed four ounces of milk, a veggie, a fruit, and a dessert in the amount of time it took Hallie to swallow about 10 cc of her formula. It's embarassing. As is the fact that Rachel and Maya had to endure at least fifteen choruses of the "ABC Song," which is what we use to get Hallie to eat. Sharon says that this should be the subject of a separate post. Perhaps she is right, but what are the chances that I am going to get to that, really?)

The girls share the same occupational therapist and she is always commenting that Hallie and Maya should draw inspiration from one another. We plan on having more play dates in the future. So maybe they will catch on to what the other is doing. So far they seem to be really curious about each other. It is just so adorable!

It really makes us feel good to see Hallie with another baby close to the same age. We often think about Olivia and the things the girls would be doing together. It is too sad to think about how much we are all missing.

Anyway, that is a topic for another day. So let's move on to one last cute picture. I like this one beacuse it really looks like they are working on something BIG (like perhaps they're own blog entry)!

Well, that's all for now---I hear the call of the wild, so it's time for another bottle (and yes, it IS getting easier to feed Hallie--more on this later! Just don't tell Hallie...we don't want her to notice.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jeepers Creepers, How Are Them Peepers?

Those of you who know Hallie know precisely how much of a social butterfly/busy-body she is. If there's action happening anywhere (particularly human action), she's all over it. And no one I know fights sleep more than Hallie does; she'll do anything to keep her eyes open and would sleep without shutting them if she could. (In fact, last night, she was tracking Sharon with her eyes CLOSED---very weird). And if you dare try putting her down before she's totally out, she pops open those amazing peepers and bats those maybe-they're-maybelline lashes at you and smiles.

Anyway, given all of this, we suspected that her ROP had resolved itself and that her eyesight, at least for now, is very good. But then again one never knows, and we are aware that preemies have a clever way of compensating for stuff like this. So we weren't sure what to expect from our appointment today with the pediatric opthamologist.

To make a long story short: we were pleased to find out that her eyes are fine. Her vision is age-appropriate (she's a bit farsighted) and there is no evidence of scarring on her retina. We don't have to go back to see the eye doctor until she's a year old corrected---WOO HOO!!!---we actually have an appointment that is so far off in the future that we can't even schedule it for another three months. That's a first...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Aunt Laura to the Rescue!!!

I just wanted to post a quick note to let everyone know Hallie is doing a lot better, and so am I.

Over the weekend, Hallie was still hacking away and I began to run a very low grade fever. I also blew through two boxes of kleenex and Sharon and I consumed numerous mentholated cough drops, popsicles and other frozen non-milk based items to cool our raging, swollen throats. Nothing really helped much, and we were beside ourselves (not to mention thoroughly exhausted).

When Hallie is ill, she doesn't like to be put down. I can understand why: when you feel miserable, you want nothing more than to be held in comforting arms. But when both moms are also ill, this is a bit hard to do. Sharon sat up holding Hallie in the glider most of Saturday night, and the best she could manage in terms of achieving a modified horizontal position was creating a nest next to her on the futon for Hallie. But by Sunday morning, she was exhausted, and Hallie and I were still sick.

So in swooped Aunt Laura, who rescued all of us. She held, fed, comforted and played with Hallie while Sharon slept and I engaged in the relaxing endeavor of editing a copyedited version of an article that needed to get back to the publisher pronto. I know I probably should have slept, too, but it was imperative to get this work done.

Anyway, Hallie had a great day with Aunt Laura and I attribute her speedy recovery to the good care and love she received. Plus, Aunt Laura--who, as mom to four beautiful kids is an expert in everything child-oriented--sucked out Hallie REALLY well and taught us how to use the nasal aspirator properly (we've tried to replicate this, but it takes two of us to do -- one to grab Hallie's hands, hold her head still and virtually sit on her, and the other to excavate the gunk).

We ended the day with a Chinese New Years banquet. Well, not really a banquet, but some very good Chinese take out. Happy Year of the Pig!

So, by this morning, things are settling down for two of us here at home: Hallie is back to eating more normally, sleeping in her bouncy chair, and playing happily. She still has some nasal schmutz clogging up her nostrils, but she is clearly getting better and no longer sounds like a seal pup. I'm virtually over the cold (which means that I have now had my first cup of coffee since Thursday. I really missed my java!). Sharon, alas, is still in parainfluenza hell: she has a bit of a fever, a bad headache, a raging sore throat, and muscle pain. I hope she doesn't have anything more serious than that which felled the rest of us and that it's simply a matter of her being one day behind the rest of us.

And, for those of you who prefer pictures to prose, I leave you with two images of Hallie taken about a week ago during her play date with Maya. As soon as I hear that it's okay from Maya's mom, I'll post some pictures of both girls together.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Toxic Household

The entire family is now sick with parainfluenza (which apparently has 4 strains, 2 subtypes, and considerable amount of snot associated with it). Even though we're all feeling cruddy (quite literally), I do think we're on the mend. In the realm of TMI, all of our noses are non-stop dripping faucets right now. I like to think that this means that the virus is clearing.

Hallie is barking a whole lot less, is coughing not at all unless she's in the supine position and swallowing the aforementioned snot (this post is not for the faint of heart) and, most importantly, wants to play. She is working hard on her fine-motor skills by grasping the mask on her albuterol spacer and pushing it away as forcefully as possible. (We take heart in this struggle of wills: While Hallie doesn't seem terribly interested in pushing her chest up off the floor when she's in tummy time position, this is clearly not related to any lack of capacity to push, just a lack of desire.)

And for the most important milestone of all: I finally succumbed and did something I swore I would never do--I sucked out Hallie's nostrils with a nasal aspirator. I must say that I have had a lot more fun in my life, what with her struggling against me and all, but if it helps her feel better, I'll do anything. I guess that that's the ultimate definition of motherhood.

Anyway, hopefully all of this croup related crud will be a thing of the past by Monday. I'm beginning to miss the concept 'coffee' (which I hate when I'm sick; at all other points in life, I am addicted to the stuff)!

Friday, February 16, 2007


The inevitable finally happened: Hallie is sick.

I had a bit of a runny nose about ten days ago and it seemed to have passed uneventfully, both for me and the kiddo. Sharon also began to feel like she was coming down with something this past Monday. Given that I work with sleep deprived young adults (big teenagers?), I'm always exposed to some stage of illness or another. But handwashing and purelling has kept Hallie well until now.

Anyway, on Sunday or Monday, Hallie began to make this curious new noise. She sounded a bit quacky like a duck. Sharon and I began to research vocal cord paralysis and damage pretty intensively. After all, the babe was intubated for 9.5 weeks and was diagnosed by an ENT tentatively as having a sluggish vocal cord, and seemed to be at risk for paralysis (and hence quacking). Neither of us was thrilled to find out that our little girl sounded a bit like Daffy, but this does, after all, seem like a small price to pay.

Tuesday, she began to have a bit of a runny nose, but it is freezing out and the weather has been weird and terrible.

Wednesday, she started to drool even more than typical and seemed generally miserable (but still feisty). This we attributed to teething.

But by last night, at around 11pm, it seemed like too much was happening all at once. Suddenly, Sharon thought, "Where have I seen this combination of symptoms before? In Aunt Laura's kids when they had croup." So, she did what any internet savvy parent does: she google 'croup' and the symptoms matched up.

Sometimes micropreemies behave just like regular kids.

But these micropreemie parents weren't going to take any chances. so we bundled Hallie up and headed off to Children's Hospital.

Aside: This process of heading off was facilitated by the fact that just a few short hours earlier, Sharon had dug out and de-iced the car. Our annoying pilot light had gone out again, and once more the culprit was the evil (and 2.5 dollar) thermocoupler. It blew for the first time a year after we had the heater installed--coincidentally, on Valentine's Day--and has burned out ever since then at least once a winter. We've been pretty complaisant about things and hence didn't have an extra one in the house (we have, after all, been a bit busy this year). but we've learned our lesson. Around about mid afternoon yesterday, Sharon remarked that Hallie's room was cold. This made sense given that it was 22 degrees outside. I thought that the heater hadn't kicked in as well as it should have because I was baking potatoes downstairs, which raised the temp in the living room/dining area and not just the kitchen. As it turns out, I mis-read our thermostat (just because I have a PhD doesn't mean that I am smart; indeed, there seems to be a clear correlation between excessive amounts of eduation and the capacity to do anything remotely practical). Anyway, I digress (as usual). After I got home from the gym last night at around 8pm, the house was seriously cold and it became clear to both of us (and not just to my more astute partner) that there was a problem. So I bundled up Hallie in a fleece jacket and pants, wrapped her in two big blankets, and held her while Sharon dug out the car and headed off to Home Depot. The part really is cheap and it took Sharon less than half an hour to fix the heater; this makes her feel especially competent, and is a good thing all around since the heater repair people charge about 350 dollars to do what she did and they don't work as quickly, effectively, and neatly.

Anyway, the car was ready to go, and in a matter of minutes, so were we. We made our way down empty and snowy/icy Philly streets, thanking our good fortune to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and got to CHOP in 15 minutes, even though the lights were poorly timed and we had to stop at pretty much every corner. The door from the parking lot to the hospital annex was locked, and so we had to speed Hallie's stroller down a few driveways and along an icy street to the ER entrance. But from there on it was smooth sailing: the ER was empty and quiet, they triaged Hallie in a matter of seconds, and we saw nurses, fellows, attendings and the like very quickly. Everyone concurred that this was indeed croup, and that it was probably caused by a parainfluenza virus (and happily not RSV). They administered some oral steroids (yummy cherry flavor, and hopefully not something that will lead to complications later on) and nebulized epinephrine to help her sound less 'junky.' And they kept her (and us) under observation for the next six hours. I must say that the ER rooms, while nicely equipped with DVD/VCR/TV combos and free phone calls, are none to comfy for the parents and that it's never a good thing to sleep sitting up in a plastic armchair. Hallie rested better in her hospital cot, with Mommy Sharon holding her while she snoozed. Anyway, after 6 hours of observation, they decided to let us go rather than admit Hallie---Hallie sounded a lot clearer and the attending did not want to expose her to anything else in CHOP. (When I worked at CHOP as a temp and then a part time employee in grad school, we used to call the air in there the "CHOP Rot" because it got us all sick all the time).

So, at least for now (and hopefully for the duration of this cold), we are home watching our girl carefully. We're using a cool mist humidifier, regular Albuterol administrations, plenty of fluids (she actually seems comforted by drinking from the bottle---this is a new one and maybe it will outlast the cold), and steamy bathrooms to manage the babe.

And meanwhile, both of us have gotten pretty sick. So there must be something going around. We're not sure whether this is a resurgence of my cold-that-never-blossomed of last week, a result of having too many people over on Saturday night (Yes, we've learned our lesson and will be hibernating more effectively), or our play date with our ICN mate who also ended up getting sick. Either way, hopefully it will get better soon and Hallie will no longer sound like a seal cub, I will get my voice and swallowing capacities back, and Sharon will stop sneezing.

The prospects for this seem better than, say, peace in the Middle East, a quick end to the Iraq War, and winning a Suitecase of Cash in the A&E Sopranos contest. Let's hope they're a lot, lot better.

Meanwhile, time to go make some more hot tea!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Art Park Brownies

In honor of Valentine's Day (and prompted by Jill's comment on my last post), here's the recipe for the best brownies I've ever made. Please note that it is ESSENTIAL that you beat the sugar and eggs for the full 10 minutes in a Kitchenaid or similar stand mixer. That's how they get their amazing texture. So, no cutting corners here. But, as long as you are a confirmed chocaholic and have some good-quality chocolate in the house (and who doesn't on a day like today?), the other ingredients are very basic and you should be able to whip these up for an impromptu--and well appreciated--Valentine's Day dessert.

Recipe By: "Tender at the Bone" by Ruth Reichl

2/3 cup butter (unsalted)
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate (best quality--Callebaut and Scharffenberger is what I usually use)
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup flour, sifted

Butter and flour a 9" square baking pan.
Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler, over boiling water. When melted, add vanilla and set aside.
Beat eggs and salt in mixer. Add sugar and beat on high speed for 10 minutes, or until mixture is quite white. Add chocolate and butter mixture and beat at low speed, just until mixed. Add flour and combine quickly, until there are no white streaks.

Pour batter into baking pan and put in oven. Immediately turn oven dow to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes. Do not overbake; these brownies should be fudgy.

Notes: The normal toothpick test will not work on these brownies, but if you want to try pricking them with a toothpick, it should come out not quite clean.

WARNING: Don't read the following nutitional information---too scary!
Per serving: 341 Calories; 18g Fat (45% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 88mg Cholesterol; 212mg Sodium

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Another Milestone...

It is now official...
Hallie has been home longer than her stay at the ICN!!
What a superstar!

(*Sunglasses courtesy of Aunt Laura - Thank you!)

This major feat was accomplished on Saturday, but I'm only now just getting around to blogging it. It's sort of amazing to think that Hallie has been in our lives for going on 245 days now. It was just this time last year that we found out that Sharon was carrying twins. It's amazing--and frightening--to think what can change in the course of a year.

Anyway, Saturday was a major celebration day for us. We suspended RSV protocols by having 18 people over all at once (they all washed, purelled, and three of them were nurses). I spent the week prior to this gala event in a mad dash of preparation. On Thursday I made brownies (check out the excellent recipe for Art Park brownies in Ruth Reichl's fabulous first part of her memoir, Tender at the Bone. They are scrumptious and super easy to make; just use the best chocolate you can afford). Sharon stopped at Whole Foods Market three times on the way home from work to pick up supplies (she hates food shopping, so this was pretty major). And Saturday, after going to the gym (yes, the gym---I am trying to resume a so-called normal life) and getting a haircut (while at the gym; happily my gym has a salon in it), I made a million finger sandwiches. Let's just say that I felt as if I was in school lunch hell. Hopefully Hallie will never ask me to cut the crusts off of her sandwiches. Not only is this a terribly wasteful practice, but it's also a major pain in the butt. Especially if you happen to be preparing 150 finger sandwiches.

Most of the people who spent their summers with us in the ICN were able to be there to celebrate Hallie's milestone. And happily so were three out of her four primary nurses. I don't have the greatest pictures of the event (I am waiting to download better ones from my mother in law's camera or for Aunt Laura to send me her pics, if she took any), but it was a memorable occasion even if I did miss a kodak moment. Ellen has seen Hallie a bunch of times (about once a month), but Meghan hadn't seen her since the day we left the ICN and Corinne since later that week. They were thrilled with how big, alert, and generally excellent their baby looks. And we were thrilled to get a chance to share Hallie with them once more.

On top of this, this was Hallie's first day off of oxygen, so we had plenty of reasons to celebrate.

I'll leave you with one picture that we did take of Hallie and Corinne. Hopefully I'll be able to add better ones later on:

Look Ma, No...


Hallie had a pretty eventful weekend so I'm going to need several posts to cover them all. But perhaps the most important development is that, after her pediatrician appointment on Wednesday of last week, we called her pulmonologist to let them (the doctor and his fellow) know how well she was doing and how her pediatrician felt it was time to start weaning her from the oxygen. We figured they'd take it slowly, perhaps letting Hallie be off the Os for an hour or two a day.

We were wrong. When I spoke with the fellow on Friday night, she said we could just discontinue the oxygen altogether while Hallie was awake, unless we felt it was indicated while she was eating. We were to do an hour or so of pulse ox checking for the first day or two, and then if that went well, we could just spot check her.

She satted 99-100 for that first hour, and also on Saturday during the day. And she's been great ever since.

Of course, now that the oxygen is optional during the day, she really believes that she doesn't need it at night. So if she was pulling it off a lot before, you can just imagine how much she is performing her nightly self-decannulation now.

The treatment course for the future seems to be this: as long as she continues to grow and gain weight, we can look forward to life without plastic tubing. If she loses weight or stops gaining well, we'll have to reconsider.

This now makes the terrible topic of feeding Hallie even more important, but we'll live with it. If we can manage to get her to eat it, I see avocados in Hallie's future. Maybe in butter sauce.

That's all for now. But I do promise more soon...

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Wheels on The Car Go Round and Round...*

On Wednesday afternoon, Sharon was getting ready for a solo trip with Hallie to the pediatrician for her 4 month (adjusted) checkup. The appointment was for 4:30pm, and things were going swimmingly well schedule wise. Hallie was washed, changed, dressed, fed, and was down for a nap. It was all of 1:30pm. Sharon felt really good about things.

When that happens, you know that a shoe is about to drop.

In this case, it was a wheel.

Our car was parked around the corner because the last time it was used, Sharon came home from work around 8pm, and it's pretty much impossible to find a spot on our block at that hour. The idea of carrying Hallie in her car seat and a portable oxygen tank around the corner on icy sidewalks when the wind chill was -5 was not an appealing one, so Sharon thought: Hey, the kid is asleep, the neighbor is on call, and it'll only take a minute, so I'll run around the block, move the car in front of the house (where there was a nice big spot) and be really prepared to get her to the doctor on time.

So, out she went to get the car. Now, for the past three weeks a subcontractor for our local gouging and utterly corrupt gas company has been ripping up the streets replacing the gas mains. These are not tidy workers. Far from it. Nor do they seem to have much of a regular schedule. They ask us to move our cars (and threaten to tow them) one day, but don't show up. They don't ask us to move our cars and do tow them on another day. They lopped limbs off of at least two trees (including ours) on the block and there is rubble everywhere.

Apparently, they are also unable to place the metal plates over the ditches they dig in a way that is correct and, oh, prevent cars from falling in them.

So Sharon drives around the block and gets to our corner. There is one of those white and orange saw horses there, so she maneuvers around it, and heads over the metal plate that is ostensibly covering the ditch.

And then she falls in the ditch, because the plate came lose. There she is, baby in house, doctor's appointment to make, stuck in a ditch with three wheels in the air and one on the ground, approximately 12 feet down from surface level.

Sharon does what any panic-stricken person would do: she tries to call me. Now, at that very moment, I'm about 80 miles away in Lancaster, where I work, meeting with students. When I don't answer the phone after three calls, she contemplates her future.

Fortunately, at that very moment, the ditch-digging contractors who were enjoying a coffee and warm up break in their truck looked up and saw our car in the ditch. They came out and six of them managed to push the car out and free it. Thankfully we have four wheel drive. Otherwise, we'd have definitely needed a fire truck or a mule or something.

Anyway, the car is fine, Sharon is fine, and the baby slept through the whole event.

Sharon got back into the house, the baby woke up, had another bottle, decided to 'hulk' (our term for poop, since that's what she looks and sounds like) during the bottle, got poop up and down her back and her onesie, and needed to be changed before the doctor's visit. Needless to say, in the end, Sharon and Hallie ended up being late for the appointment.

But...her checkup was great! She now weighs 12 lbs. 9.2 ounces (every .2 counts around here!) and is in the 25th percentile for weight for her adjusted age and about 10th percentile for length and head circumference. Her pediatrician is very pleased. In fact, he didn't even recognize her when he passed her in the hall during the weight check. While Hallie was being weighed by the nurse, he needed to ask the nurse something, and she responded "I'll take care of it as soon as I'm done weighing Hallie." His response: "Hallie, that's not Hallie, that baby is too big to be Hallie!" We were happy to hear that.

Anyway, the baby really is beginning to look like a little kid. I'll leave you with this image of her after we got home from the doctor (I met Sharon and the baby there after work):

*Disclaimer: I was not on the scene for the following event, nor was I (apparently) able to answer my cell phone when it was happening. Finally, this is not a picture of our car, but one that I found somewhere on the internet. Our car was not rescued by a firetruck (though admittedly that would have added a certain amount of drama to the situation) but by the doofy guys who dug the ditch to begin with. In the panic of the moment, Sharon did not have the foresight to think about this event as a bloggable one, so we had to go with a generic representation of the incident.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Happy (Belated) 4 Months (Corrected)

Saturday February 3rd was Hallie's four-month adjusted birthday. It was a momentous occasion on several different fronts, and Hallie celebrated the day (and the fact that it was preceded by not one, but two, record-breaking eating days) with a nice tub bath and some serious splashing. A bottle later, our little girl was all tuckered out and needed a nice long nap. Even though she was napping, there was no way she was going to let go of her beloved cannula:

While she was napping, her Aunt Laura, Uncle Bryan, Grandma Sandy, and Cousins Hannah and Adam came over for a visit. Here's a nice picture of the little cousins:

Hannah was so excited about seeing Hallie that she could hardly wait for her to wake up. It took a long time to convince her not to arouse the sleeping baby.

Hallie did finally wake up and, boy, was she glad when she found out that everyone had come over just to visit her. Adam was pretty amazed (and just a tad bit envious) that Hallie also had a binky. She spent a bunch of time in Aunt Laura's lap, sometimes sharing the spotlight with Hannah and Adam:

Grandma Sandy got to hold Hallie for the very first time. She was thrilled to see that Hallie was a whole lot bigger than she had been in the ICN:

Immediately after everyone took off, Aunts Renee and Kim came over. This ushered in the second big event of Hallie's (and our) day: we were about to leave Hallie and go out to a really nice dinner to celebrate my belated birthday. Back in the old days (like last year), we used to have something called birthday club. Renee, Kim, Sharon, and I would surprise the birthday girl by taking her out to drinks and appetizers followed by dinner. The birthday girl never knew where she was going, just when. That was the excuse we made for visiting some of the best restaurants in town (including Morimoto, Brasserie Perrier, Django, Matyson, the City Tavern, the Ritz Carlton Grille, and a few that have--alas--closed between then and now). Hallie's arrival, but even more importantly, her continued use of oxygen, made this a hard tradition to continue. Can you imagine the fireworks prompted by a baby on O2 and a few well-placed and festive candles? Anyway, Hallie preempted our celebration by re-enacting D-Day (Sharon's birthday) baby style: she held her own version of the Second World War by deciding that she was, under no circumstances, eating. Ever. So Renee and Kim, lovely Aunts that they are, brought in a nice dinner to us and we gobbled it down between Hallie's bottle-oriented protests.

This time it was going to be different. Before she could say "geh!", Hallie was in the swing and we were dressed and headed out the door:

Sharon and I had a lovely dinner at Susanna Foo and remembered why they have such a great relationship when they repeatedly finished each other's sentences. Here's some photographic evidence of the night on the town (and we promise that this is not photoshopped):

My belated birthday, it appears, was celebrated just in time, because today (and perhaps beginning as early as the 4th quarter of yesterday's Superbowl 41), Hallie has resumed her eating strike. It appears that she is teething in earnest this time (hence the huge quantity of drool, her propensity to stick everything--especially our fingers--in her mouth, and her generally despondent demeanor). Let's hope she gets those darned teeth already; Hallie (and us!) deserve an eating break that lasts longer than, say, a two day period!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Half Full/Half Empty Glass...

A thoughtful post about micropreemie outcomes--the realities, the difficulties, what's changing, and why there are some good reasons for optimism for the future. And, on top of being thoughtful, it (like everything else on Ex Utero's blog, is very well written. I also recommend his fiction (and actually recommended this blog to a student of mine who is going off to med school next year but who is a humanist at heart). The fiction is not an 'easy' or 'fun' read, but enormously compelling.

Anyway, here's the URL:
Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Friday, February 2, 2007

20 Ounces...

is how much formula Hallie drank today...

That may not seem like a huge amount to anyone, but it's a real milestone for Miss Hallie Rose. Her previous record was something like 18 ounces. And lest you think we're starving our baby, let me assure you that her formula is souped up with extra powder in ready to feed, plus breast milk, plus karo syrup for extra calories. (Aside: There is currently a commercial on in our area for Apple and Eve juices, I think, in which some kids are performing in a school play. One kid is an apple and looks all rosy and healthy. Another is an orange and is filled with vitamin C. Then there is a child playing High Fructose Corn Syrup ---just like Karo--- and is a dripping goopy mess and obviously unhealthy and highly processed. I cringe when I see this particular commercial because that's part of what we are consciously putting into our kid. Hopefully we can move on to avocado and banana shakes (EWWWW) some day. I'll feel better about that.)

Anyway, Hallie really seemed to enjoy herself. This is pretty atypical, as those of you who have had the pleasure (NOT) to witness us giving Hallie a bottle, or heaven forbid, have had the opportunity to give her one yourself (This can be confirmed by Grammy, Aunt Laura, Aunt Renee, Sheila and the nurses who took care of Hallie in the North Nursery of the ICN and probably a few others out there). Anyway, she had a really nice day today and then, tonight, we ate dinner at the dining room table as a family (and, yes, I cooked---it wasn't just a matter of reheating some admittedly excellent food from Wholefoods market but an honest to goodness, well-balanced, meal made from scratch). Hallie sat in her high chair, ate some sweet potatoes (she was a bit skeptical about these and seems to like them less than the pears and more than just plain rice cereal), and drank her bottle.

She even held the bottle on her own:

We are really proud of her.

And we also are enjoying her latest self-soothing teething practice: active thumb sucking. This one I do have a picture of and will share it with you here:

Notice how much she looks like a big girl in her overalls and her jeans.

And here's a second shot from today:

The sweater in this shot is one of my favorties. I love bold colors on kids -- they can see them better than pastels, I think.

Yet another thumb sucking photo (added by Sharon who thinks this one is the cutest!):

Anyway, I'll work on retrieving my cool high chair shots -- maybe Sharon can help since she's not technologically impaired (which I am). NOTE: DONE!!! YAY SHARON Hopefully Hallie will take after her. The kid is already showing a huge level of interest in remote controls (and the televisions that go with them, unfortunately. Scary stuff!