Our Little Miracle, Born at 24 Weeks

preemie

I will never forget the day we got the call from my sister-in-law, Jill.  She was in the hospital and had just had her baby.  How could that be? She was only 24 weeks pregnant? The terror in her voice was palpable. My husband and I felt helpless.  We were in Cleveland, Ohio, where my husband was going through his own health scare with cancer and my sister-in-law was thousands of miles away in Arizona.  To top it off, it was right around the holidays.  Little John weighed 1 pound 8 ounces, when he was born, and was 12 inches long. He spent 110 days in the NICU before coming home on March 20, 2006. John is a true miracle and an inspiration to all that meet him!  You can read more about his amazing story here (grab the tissue!)

More than half a million American babies are born prematurely each year.  That’s a staggering 1,400 babies born prematurely in the United States every day. Because premature babies immune systems haven’t had time to fully mature, preterm infants are more likely to develop infections.  Preemies have underdeveloped lungs, so they are more susceptible to respiratory problems.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious virus which is quite prevalent during the winter months. It is transmitted primarily by hand-to-nose, hand-to-mouth, and hand-to-eye contact. The severity of the symptoms vary depending upon the age of the child and whether he has any chronic medical problems.  RSV can be particularly serious in infants born prematurely and children under the age of two suffering from chronic lung conditions.

For otherwise healthy children, RSV usually amounts to little more than a cold. However, for preemies and other at-risk infants, the health consequences can be much more serious. In the U.S., approximately 125,000 children are hospitalized each year with serious RSV disease and, sadly, some of these children die.

To help protect your baby from RSV, there are simple steps that parents and caregivers can take:

  • Have family members and caregivers wash their hands with warm water and soap before touching the baby
  • Avoid being around the baby if you have a cold or fever
  • Avoid exposing the baby to other children with cold symptoms
  • Keep the baby away from crowded places
  • Never smoke around the baby
  • Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about RSV risks and prevention

Symptoms
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
  • High fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Not eating well

To learn more about RSV please visit www.rsvprotection.com.

As we prepare to celebrate my nephew John’s sixth birthday, I can’t help but think of all the other babies born too soon. November 17th is World Prematurity Day, an important day designed to help raise public awareness about the problem of global prematurity, which affects more than 13 million babies worldwide.

preemie as a child

John (6) with his mom, dad and sister

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

 

 

Wordless Wednesday- Baby Mozart

Baby Mozart

Piggies at the Piano

Beach Babe… (Wordless Wednesday)

Beach babe

“Proper” Etiquette and the Second Baby Shower

I’m a big believer in proper etiquette. I love hand-writing thank you notes and receiving  hand-written notes even more. Although I’m a technology geek I will always take the time to write a personalized, hand-written note to someone who was thoughtful enough to spend their time and money on a gift for me or my child. One of the reasons my husband is so endearing to me is that he always writes a note to someone who did something special. I love that he was raised to always be thankful for any act of kindness.

 

Having relocated from Florida to Rhode Island, I’ve noticed some big differences in etiquette. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think guests should ever have to address their own thank you notes at any type of shower. A new bride or new mother can always take some time out of their day to express their appreciation for a gesture or gift; that includes the extra thirty seconds it takes to hand write their address. Even if it takes them a month to finish.

 

Another “thank you” short-cut I have observed since moving up here is the generic photo card of “Thanks for your thoughtful gift,” without even so much as a signature. It always makes me cringe a little inside when receiving that, especially after taking the time and effort to find the appropriate gift for that person. I know, any thank you note is better than none; however I would rather hand write 200 notes than to ever have to send out a generic, non-personalized thank you. I find those a little rude and/or impersonal. Trust me, I know I’m old-fashioned in regards to thank-you’s.

 

Since I’m talking about etiquette, let’s discuss second baby showers. Personally, I would not want one for myself. My friends and family went above and beyond for my son’s shower and literally showered us with tons of gifts. I would feel uncomfortable asking any of them to come to a party with a gift for my second baby only a short two years later. I can’t wait for them to meet my daughter, but we don’t want or need any gifts for her. Their love and support means the world to our family.

 

I know some people up here like to have “sprinkles” or diaper showers for their second baby which seems like a more reasonable idea. I just hope that they aren’t passing out envelopes at the door for guests to address their own thank you notes. I do firmly believe every child’s life should be celebrated by friends and family. I hope we can have a small housewarming/baby-greeting party after our daughter is born this fall, with a “no gifts please” note on the invitation. If someone did want to bring a gift despite what the invite said, I can guarantee you they won’t be receiving a mass-produced thank you print out.

 

What do you think of second baby showers? Etiquette faux-pas or totally fine?

 

VIDEO Diary Day 3: My Baby Locked Herself in the Running Car!

DRAMA.  What would a road trip be without a screaming toddler locking herself in your running car?  That’s right, I get the mom of the year award for this one.  As if tensions weren’t already at an all time high, this pretty much sealed it and truly made for a lovely NINE hour car ride to DC. ; )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVCaKhBvSg8

Pregnancy the Second Time Around: Advice Needed!

I am currently 17 weeks pregnant with our second child. My son is 17 months old and while we are thrilled for the new addition to our family, this pregnancy is entirely different from my first.

My first pregnancy I worked full-time, but was able to nap when I got home from work and sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night is still a semi-rare occurrence in my home. My son, especially while teething, will wake up a few times through the night and/or is up for the day at 5am. The lack of sleep contributes to a much more tired, worn-out pregnancy.

Gone are the days I can throw my feet up and relax when feeling nauseous or tired, now I have a little buddy wanting to throw a ball or go for a walk. Now, I can barely think about this pregnancy, in contrast to my first pregnancy where I obsessed over every little twinge or symptom. This time, I have more faith in my body and trust everything is going to be ok. I don’t have time to worry about the alternative.

Despite the obvious differences in having a toddler this time around vs. having no kids, this pregnancy has been totally different. First time around, I never got sick or even nauseous. This time felt like I had the nastiest college hangover from about weeks 7 through week 13. My first pregnancy, I felt so good I was in a fantastic mood all the time. This time, not so much. These differences have my husband convinced we are having a girl. I’m not sure either way, but we will find out for sure on June 1st.

With my son’s pregnancy I took weekly pregnancy pictures throughout my entire pregnancy (You can see them here). This pregnancy, I have a total of 5 “belly pictures” at 17 weeks. I feel HORRIBLE about it! I always swore my second baby would have an equal amount of pictures, little did I know I would be WAY more sick the second time around. I hope he or she forgives me! Thankfully, I am finally feeling better and will make up for lost time.

I hope I will be able to be as good of a Mom to this new baby as I have been to my son. People always tell me that your heart expands and you never know you could love TWO little babies so much. I hope that’s true because it seems implausible to think of loving another baby as much!

Moms of two or more: I would love your advice on introducing a new baby into your family. Especially on how to introduce a baby to a very jealous toddler who will be 22 months when he takes on the new role as “Big Brother.” Thank you!

Diagnosing and Treating Urinary Reflux in Children

As some of you know, sweet little Paigey had a battery of tests today at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.  We scheduled the tests several weeks ago after two seperate incidents of  UTIs and several days of fevers between 103-105.  I talked to my doctor about the concern that Paige might have urinary reflux and she suggested we get her tested when she returned from her recent Arizona trip. Paige eating ice cream

So, what is urinary reflux? Urinary reflux, or vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is the backup of urine from the bladder  into the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder (ureter) during urination. [Read more…]

Easy Lunch Ideas for Kids

From the time our children are able to eat something besides milk, we routinely ask ourselves as mothers: what am I going to feed this child?  At the beginning, I would ask myself things like… When should I wean my child off breast milk? What kind of formula should I buy for emergencies? Rice or no rice cereal? Organic food or conventional? How many types of foods should I introduce my baby to at one time? Is it too soon to introduce this… and so on.babyfood

By the time my daughter turned one, I felt it was as much of an accomplishment for me as it was for her to reach that 1st year milestone.  I had not gone mad, crazy, or obsessed with what to feed my child. I just went along and made baby food at home that seemed age appropriate.

The child that ate everything soon became aware that she could have choices.  Welcome to the “picky-eaters” club, I thought.  The search for answers to why my child became so choosy with her food became a quest mission to find creative ways to get her to eat a good, healthy, wholesome diet.

My toughest fight is lunch at school. Other kids bring store-bought lunches, pre-packaged foods, sugary snacks or the school’s fast-food catered lunch.  She constantly asks me to order her lunch from school or she’ll point at a packaged lunch at the grocery and say: “those are the ones my friends have.” I’ve realized that the way to make a child really want something is to make it the forbidden fruit.  My daughter is surrounded by “fun” looking food; and in truth, no kid wants to feel left out.

I’ve since looked at the whole picture and have asked myself: what would make her belong?

Lunch lesson #1: Kids eat with their eyes.

In less than five minutes I create my version of a store bought lunch: real cheese, whole wheat crackers, nitrate free turkey, low sugar drink, fruit, and always a little treat.  An added bonus is a packaged hand wipe since the entire lunch will be eaten with her hands. Happy Lunch Making!

Photobucket

Becoming a pacifier-free toddler

 

 

Joanna's son at 5 months old & his beloved "binky"

 

I must disclose that we have not broken the pacifier (aka “a binky”) habit in our household, yet. My son is almost 16 months old and currently uses his binky in the crib and car.  I have also been known to sneak it in my pocket during shopping trips in case of emergency.

I decided it was time to start weaning him off the binky when he recently found one under his crib and had a massive meltdown when I told him it was not the time for his binky. I mean a major tantrum, complete with head-banging on the hardwood floor and juice cups being thrown at the dog.

I’ve asked all of my Mom and Dad friends about how they said goodbye to their kids’ pacifiers. There are a couple different theories that my friends have shared with me regarding becoming binky-free.

My favorite idea is the one my friend Neile shared: cut the tips off all the binkies in the house and quit cold turkey. You’re not the bad guy and you can console your toddler while they lament the loss of their intact binky. Another variety of this theory is to cut off the tips slowly until there isn’t much left for them to “pacify” themselves. I believe our first plan of action will be the first. After all, I live down the street from a 24 hour CVS if we HAD to get a replacement binky. There is an entire web site devoted to this theory, www.bye-bye-binky.com, if you’d like to read more.

Another theory, which would be more appropriate for an older toddler, is the “Binky Fairy.” After discussing the Fairy with your child, you set a night for the Fairy to come and take away all of his or her binkies.  The Fairy leaves a small gift for the child in exchange for all the household binkies. A variation of this theory is for the Fairy to take the binkies to a baby who needs them, maybe a little cousin or friend. Packing up all the binkies before the fairy comes can be a special going away ceremony for your toddler to participate in. I’ve also heard that Santa collects binkies for other little boys and girls during Christmas. Maybe the distraction of all the new toys would help ease the pain? I believe my son is a little too young to understand the Binky Fairy or Santa at this age, but if he was older I would definitely try it out.

These two theories were by far the most widely used in my social circle, but before my husband and I embark on this parenting journey I would love to hear your advice. Did your child use a binky and how did you say goodbye?

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Paige in Purple
     My baby left me.  Just walked right out of the house in the middle of the night for the desert and dry air of Arizona.  Okay, so it wasn’t quite THAT dramatic….but it sure seemed that way when we were skyping from RI to AZ and she was was more interested in jumping on the couch than talking to her mama!  My husband looked at me as tears started to stream down my cheek.  I quickly wiped them away, so Paige wouldn’t see.
     When My husband suggested he escape the frigid New England air for two weeks to see family in Arizona, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get some work done on this website, maybe even catch up on some sleep.  What I hadn’t anticipated was the emotional toll of being away from her and my husband.  Now, I like my alone time.  In fact, for much of our marriage my husband and I have worked different shifts–at times–even in different states.  Heck, even in different countries!  How do you think we’ve managed to stay married so long, moving state to state, job to job?  (I kid.)   But throw the little one in the mix, and that’s a one- two punch this mama just can’t handle.  Seriously, I was a wreck 75% of the time they were gone. 
     They get back tomorrow and I know my heart will skip a beat when I see them at the airport.  Just like it did when I met my husband at that BBQ in college and when I saw the yes sign on that pregnancy test. (oh, yeah…I got those tests, I wasn’t foolin’ around with the plus/ minus nonsense).
     What’s the longest you’ve been away from your kids?  Was it easier or tougher than expected?  Join the conversation…we’d love to hear your thoughts!
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