Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How Is It Possible...

... that on Monday I will have a 2 year old?!  The last year went quickly, but (not surprisingly) was a little less of a whirlwind than Judith's first year.  There are still a lot of raw emotions surrounding her birth that are taking longer to heal than I thought, but as of right now I feel excited for another big milestone for her.  She's almost completely caught up, and while I'm still a little nervous about not adjusting her age, I think I'm ready to face that new chapter with her.  I'm grateful that her health is as good as it is, all things considered.

It's funny, though.  She's not 2 yet, but holy hell she's been acting like a true 2 year old for a few weeks!  The tantrums, mischief, frustrations, whining, and sometimes defiance are a whole new ballgame.  Today was almost nightmarish, and was downright exhausting.  Discovering that tonight is full moon helped explain a lot of things, and now I understand why I want to pull my hair out!  The dogs weren't helping, either, and you would think that they're completely ignored day in and day out based on the way they were trying to shove each other out of the way for attention.  They listened about as well as Judith, and I swear it was like having 3 toddlers in the house.

I hope tomorrow's an easier day.  At least we'll get a clean start after a good night's sleep.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Eye Exams

First, I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving... a day late.  We spent the majority of the day with my in-laws and had a good time!  One of our short conversations prompted me to think of something that I should blog about, since I get asked a couple questions a lot:

How did you know Judith's far-sighted?
This is a simpler answer.  We didn't know, but the pediatric ophthalmologist was able to detect it pretty quickly.

What prompted you to have her eyes examined?
We caught it during one of her ROP follow-ups, and continued to monitor it fairly regularly to see how it progressed.  If we didn't have the follow-ups, I would've scheduled an appointment shortly after I saw how many problems she was having during speech therapy to rule out any complications that could've developed from the ROP.

How do they examine a toddler?
This is the really interesting part!  I was pretty darn curious about the process myself, since the only thing I could really visualize was a typical exam that a child or adult would go through.

The first thing her ophtho did was look in her eyes with a light.  She attaches an animal to it to attract the baby's attention (ours have typically been a fish that looks like a bath squirt toy).  Once she checks things out with the light and with tracking, she dilates the eyes.  After dilation is complete, she takes another tool and looks inside the eye, then will hold up the various lenses to see what corrects the problem (instead of using the giant mask and telling the examiner "1" or "2" etc.).  Since she has so much experience, she's pretty slick at guessing what should help correct the problem.  It can take some experimentation, just like with adults and older children, but she does get the therapeutic prescription.

I know that's not the most scientific of explanations, but hopefully it helps you to visualize the process.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Helping Out Another Preemie Mama Blogger

We've been featured in another great blog by one of the preemie mamas I met in the online forums!  You can read our post here!  While you're reading, check out the other preemie posts, and peruse the hydrobabies blog to learn more about prematurity and hydrocephalus.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

World Prematurity Day

Today is World Prematurity Day, a day to honor all preemies around the world who are growing and thriving in their own way, and a day to remember all of the precious babies who lost their fight.  We wore purple in honor of Judith and all of our preemie friends!

I've met some incredible preemie parents over the last 23 1/2 months, most of them through the online forum I'm active in.  Their strength, determination, and support for one another is amazing.  Their babies are true miracles and fighters, and it is so heartwarming to see the progress they make and to watch them grow!

It's days like today when I can take a step back and really be thankful for how well Judith has done, and how much of a fighter she really is.  Granted I can do that every day, but sometimes I get lost in the daily routines and problems of that day and don't realize how far she's truly come.  I think this year has more mixed emotions than last year, because we are about to head into uncharted territory: in a little more than 2 weeks, we'll no longer adjust Judith's age, and the vast majority of her "preemie-ness" will be behind us.  She's almost completely caught up to her actual age.  It will be nice to not have to worry about so many anticipated delays, to be able to focus more on her CF and keeping her healthy, and allow this chapter of her life to come to a close.  I know it's not going to be an instantaneous process, but it still feels kind of strange since it's been such a big part of our lives over the last 2 years.  We certainly won't stop celebrating future World Prematurity Days - being a preemie is part of Judith's identity, and as she grows I want to help her understand that while she had a rough start with many complications, she overcame that and thrived.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Don't let the title deceive you: I'm not nervous, although the toddler behavior around here lately has been getting on my nerves.  This post is actually about the dogs, namely Buster, and his nerves.

A couple weeks ago, Lady re-aggravated an old soft tissue injury in her shoulder, and I think it's to the point where she's getting arthritic.  Buster was not very understanding of the pain she was in, and insisted on playing with her like he normally does.  Since Lady was put on confinement to rest and heal, she's been doing a lot of licking and cleaning of Buster, particularly the gross-sounding deep cleaning of his ear canals.  The pattern continued last week, and it was starting to make Buster itchy.

Last Thursday, during one of his "scratch fests,"  Buster was having a grand time itching his ears when he suddenly yelped in pain.  I didn't think too much of it, figuring he scratched too much and developed a raw spot.  I didn't think much of it, and we went to bed as normal, figuring whatever it was would be better in the morning after some rest.

Friday rolled around, and Buster kept acting stranger and stranger as the day went on.  He acted like he wanted to scratch, but couldn't.  He was sitting in odd positions, and wasn't even begging for food from Judith (a rarity, as he usually stakes out the best spot under the high chair to catch as much of the thrown food as he can).  He kept sitting and twisting himself into a crescent shape, resting his head on the back of the couch.  Any time I tried to pet him and got too close to the base of his right ear, he would let out a loud yelp and would shake from the pain.  I noticed his breath smelled really bad as well, and thought that maybe he had a toothache or was getting ready to lose another tooth (back story: one or both of the dogs, but I suspect it's only Buster, lost 2 teeth over the last year).  Buster started acting stranger and stranger while I was doing Judith's vest therapy, and barely went to the door to greet John when he came home from work.  Dinner was offered, and he refused to eat until I hand fed him some mashed potatoes and veggies.  Once we went to bed, he was so restless, kept yelping in pain, and kept us up most of the night.

With no improvement overnight, I called the vet Saturday morning.  We were able to get him an appointment quickly, and I was bracing myself for a big vet bill and a possible overnight stay for either surgery to extract a tooth or teeth or something else.  I also knew I had to separate Buster and Lady for the first time since we officially adopted them.  The short car ride to the vet was not fun: Buster sat on the seat and violently shook from nervousness and fear that I would take him somewhere and leave him.  I kept reassuring him that he would come home, that he wasn't leaving us and we weren't abandoning him, etc.  Once he realized we were going to the vet and he saw where we were, he was fine and actually enjoyed some of the individualized attention.  Anyway, I described the symptoms to the vet, and he diagnosed Buster with a pinched nerve.  I was relieved that it wasn't anything super serious, but was also kind of bummed that it's not something that can easily be fixed and would go away after antibiotics or another quick treatment.

The vet showed us how to make an improvised cervical collar.  Obviously they don't make these for dogs, so we basically take a long towel, fold it to fit Buster's shape, and tape it up to help immobilize his neck.  It definitely helps, and we've seen improvement, but needless to say Buster is less than thrilled with it.  He needs to wear it for at least a week, and then we can put it on him as needed since the issue will probably flare up every now and then.

Friday, November 9, 2012

It's So True!

I was checking out my newsfeed on Facebook this morning, and ran across this status update from "It's A Preemie Thing":

Having a preemie means your venture into parenting will not be "normal". You will learn words that many people will never even hear (and thankfully so). You will learn patience you didn't know you were capable of, you will learn true fear and faith. You will learn more about your insurance than you ever cared to know. You will be able to change a diaper standing sideways at an isolette, while avoiding wires, tubes, and I.V.s. My husband still can't change a diaper unless he's on the side of our son. ;)

You learn that the journey doesn't stop once they leave the NICU. Your childs pediatrician will become like family because you feel that you are at their office as much as you are home. You will learn that all the books you read on "what to expect" didn't teach you anything that YOU needed to expect, and you are forced to learn as you go. 

Not all preemies meet goals like "termies" do, although some exceed them! Find out all that is available to you while in the NICU, such as Early Intervention, WIC, etc. If you're social worker isn't proactive...bug them or ask to speak to another one if available.

The most valuable lesson that I learned was just how precious life is, and how fragile it can be. 17 NOV is World Prematurity Day...wear purple!

For the record, neither John or I can change Judith's diaper unless we're on her side!

Friday, November 2, 2012

November is Prematurity Awareness Month

As my post title states, November is the month set aside for prematurity awareness.  Even though CF has become the more dominant issue Judith's facing, it doesn't replace the fact that she was still born about 11 weeks early.  On November 17th, World Prematurity Day, we'll wear purple in honor and in memory of all of the babies born too soon.

This month, a lot of my friends and fellow preemie mamas are doing special entries and features on their blogs.  We have the honor of being featured on a blog from a good friend whose twins were born in February 2011, 2 days before my original due date with Judith.  Hop on over to Our Valentine's Day Surprise and check it out!