Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Anastasia's First Birthday Week

On Tuesday Grandma and Grandpa came up to watch the kiddos while Char and I went on our first date in over 18 months. We went to a local restaurant for a late lunch / early dinner. Afterwards, we ran to the store. It was the first time in what feels like forever that we went shopping with just the 2 of us. When we got home the Grandparents had to leave to beat the winter storm.  

I also found a location Rory could start his ABA therapy in roughly 4-6 weeks. Which is great on one hand but the downside will be driving down 2-3 times a week. Oh, and having to drag Ana-Rose along, too. 
 Milestone Wednesday! Rory and Anastasia both got up at 5:00 am this morning. (My children don't know how to sleep properly, I swear.) Anyways Rory did 2 amazing things this early morning. 

Normally, in order to have Rory say "Go" someone else has to chant "Ready, Set, ...." and then Rory promptly yells "GO!" This morning Heidi was playing fetch with Rory, (Heidi was the one fetching the ball). When out of nowhere, he yells "GO!" and threw the ball. It was amazing! It's the first time he's said "go" on his own. 
Then he surprised us again by saying "Mom"! I haven't heard him say Mom or Mama since he was 16 months old. That's nearly 8 months! He said 2 words this morning! It's a HUGE accomplishment. 

Today was language therapy for Rory. He's getting more used to the therapist. He doesn't need to sit on my lap anymore, he goes right to her as she comes in. He's so comfortable with her he goes right into her bag of toys and books and starts bring out what he want's to play with. (He's also beginning to think everyone that comes over is here for him). 

Anastasia is making strides as well, her physical therapist is working on getting Anastasia to sit up on her own and to crawl. This translates to more stretches and exercises I need to do with her 4-6 times a day. (To help me remember to do them that frequently I do them when I change her diapers.) Right now her hips are to stiff to support her in a sitting position and the top of her body, from the shoulders up to her neck, are to weak to stay upright for long periods of time. We use a bumbo to also help her strengthen those muscles.  

*UPDATE*-"Mom" is what he says when he has a problem. I discovered this when he brought a toy that was turned off over to dad and Rory said "Mom" as he gave it to dad. Then later Heidi and Rory were playing blocks when they toppled over. He then looked at her and said "Mom" until she stacked the blocks up again.  

Thursday Rory decided that it was No Clothes day. Seriously, I put him in 3 of his favorite outfits, (along with 1 he isn't fond of). Nothing stayed on him for more than 20-30 minutes. I'd put him in clothing, tend to Anastasia, turned back around and he was just in his diaper. Rory's started to cover his ears when Anastasia cries. Which is new. 

Exactly this time last year I went for a routine OB/GYN appointment and ended up staying in the hospital for a week and gave birth to Anastasia. Technically, her birth story starts with that little doctor's visit. 
Friday Rory kept having issues, or he's getting more aware that there are problems. He'd stack some blocks up and they would topple over. Rory would look at the pile of blocks and say "Mom" in a flat tone. Then rebuild, repeating the cycle, with him saying "Mom" each time. 

Or he'd bring me my phone, which is turned off, and states "Mom" because he wants to watch truck Youtube videos and he can't with the phone off. Apparently, when he's not play or doing something "Mom" several times in a row can mean "hungry" but it's still hit or miss with that one.  

Saturday was Anastasia's 1st Birthday! Heidi Anne and I made a  red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting while Rory took a nap. After Daddy and Rory woke up we celebrated Anastasia's 1st Birthday. 
First she opened up her few presents wrapped up in Christmas tissue paper. She got some new clothes and a dolly. She had fun biting at the tissue paper. Rory assisted in speeding up the unwrapping process. 
Then Anastasia had her first bite of cake, she promptly spit it out. Same with the frosting. Rory on the other hand loved all of it. Which makes me glad we choose to do a smash cake next year for her. It seems as though by babies hate cakes on their first birthdays, but can't get enough cake as they get a tad older. 
Today Rory decided he wanted to keep his nightclothes on. So we let him, because this week has been filled with "no clothes" days for Rory. He just happily ate some cake as this picture was taken.  
While we were eating, Anastasia fell asleep. Birthdays are exhausting when you're barely 1! 

Friday, February 10, 2017

On A More Positive Note

 I just wanted to write about my tiny, serious Anastasia. She can army crawl with the best of them. Ana-Rose is lighting fast when she sees something she wants. Those big blue eyes light up and off she goes. 
She is so close to doing a traditional crawl. She gets on all fours, then rocks back and forth. Sometimes, Anastasia will put one hand in front of the other, then topples to the side. She had always been our little fighter, so Anastasia gets right back up and tries again. Normally with a hint of a smile on her face. It's like she doesn't see it as failure but a chance to try again.
Anastasia has overcome numerous obstacles over the last year. From ROP of the eyes, 2 murmurs of the heart, 3 hernias, learning to breath and eat on her own, to sleep without having breathing complications, plus many other challenges. Perhaps, more trials than most people face in a life time she's had to battle for less than 12 months. 
Preemies are amazing little warriors, they just keep fighting to live with such finesse. Maybe it's because a baby doesn't know how to think negatively nor do they focus on the statistics. They just keep pressing on, despite the odds being stacked against them. 
I admit there are times, more often right now on the first year anniversary, when I look at her, I think of how our lives were flipped upside down. All of this has made us; closer as a family, taught us to rejoice in the smallest of milestones, and helped us realize how precious life truly is. I think our NICU journey prepared us for the Autism road we are now traveling down on.
I hope by this time next year she'll no longer be labeled as failure to thrive. Ana-Rose will be walking, if not running, around everywhere we go. I bet Anastasia will continue to be a chatter box, only next year I'll be able to understand her more. I see her being one to encourage her brother to push his boundaries, while continuing to receive unconditional love from her big sister (as long as the girls don't share a room). 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

This Time Last Year

This time last year was a place of uncertainty. Full of unknowns. I was afraid that I would go into labor at any given second. That my baby wouldn't pull through her medical crisis. This time last year is a place I keep going to without even trying. But the sight of Anastasia takes me back there before I know it. 
I look at my tiny, strong, very serious baby girl. 
I think of how many times we came close to loosing her before she was even born. Then about all the times in the NICU where I feared I might not see her again when I left the hospital. 

I hear her babble away from the next room. She is my loudest baby by far. 
I go back to the time when she was intubated and couldn't even let out a proper cry. You could see her trying to cry but no sound would come out for nearly 2 weeks. When she could raise her voice, it was the smallest mewing sound. Not a proper cry at all. 
I watch my Anastasia fall asleep for a quick nap. 
I think of all the times the monitors went off, showing she was having apena or bradycardia spells in her sleep. I remember she came home with those monitors. How annoying but comforting they were simultaneously

I feed her lunch, which is messy, and full of smiles from both of us.
I remember how she was feed by IVs and a NG tube for weeks. Her milk was measured by the millitliters (MLS) and with medical precision then slowly feed over an hour through her NG tube. Later she was bottle feed but each MLS was accounted for. I remember months later we began to measure her food in ounces and what a huge deal that was! 
I cuddle my little one, Anastasia tries to squirm away, she really wants to play on the floor and be mobile again. 
 I'm transported to the first time I touched her fingers right after the c-section. How I wanted to stay right there beside her forever. But I could only remain for a few minutes because I, too, needed medical attention. I recall getting to help with her "cares". For many days all I could do was just touch her tiny hand or foot. Holding her for the first time took weeks. Then came the skin to skin cuddles. Oh, I would just sit in a little corner, holding my preemie Anastasia, content as could be and wishing time would stand still. 
I think of the actual date of her birth.
It's not only her birthday but my late Granddad's birthday, as well. (Oh, can't forget Aunt Marylou's birthday, too.). I miss him and my Granny so very much. Honestly, what are the chances Anastasia would be born 3 months early? And on his birthday? Since she shared Granddad's birthday, I wanted her to share Granny's name. That's where her middle name Sonia came from. Although they never meet Anastasia, I like to think she has a special connection to them.  

Anastasia gets weighed once a week. She's currently 16 pounds 4 ounces and 27.5 inches long.
I see my tiny girl, 2 pounds 5 ounces and only 13 inches long. Heidi Anne has baby dolls that are taller (and maybe even weigh more). I remember calling nightly to get an update on how many grams she had gained that day. Yes, the updates were in grams. 

I chat with a friend via text or Grandma comes to visit. 
This time last year family rallied around us to help tend to Rory or watch Heidi Anne. Strangers, who became my friends, came with meals since I couldn't cook dinner. Or they would care for Rory while I had yet another doctor appointment in Ogden.  

I see her toothy grin. 
This time last year wasn't all bad. We made new friends, drew closer to old ones and family members helped in our hour of need. Anastasia had many crosses to bare, but she overcame each and every challenge. For 3 months the hospital was her home, where nearly every nurse greeted me warmly. I knew she couldn't be home but was reassured that the nurses genuinely cared about my tiny girl. Once she could be held I asked them to hold her as much as they desired since I wasn't able to be there as often as I wanted to be.   

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

My Birthday

I scheduled Anastasia's Synagis shot appointment on my birthday because I know how to have a good time. This shot gives Anastasia an immunity boost to fight virus that could land her into the hospital due to her weakened immune system. One other benefit of this shot is that it's virus free, thus no real reaction to the injection. So I didn't have a totally grumpy baby for my birthday. 

We went to my favorite store, Carters. Honestly, I like that store, I really love dressing up my little ones. But this trip was to get a gift for my sister in law's baby shower. (Which due to snow, I missed.) But I still had fun picking an outfit and looking at new clothes for Anastasia. 

Costa Vida (a fast-casual Mexican restaurant) recently opened. They're scattered all over Utah and just made the jump to the Wyoming town we're in. We love Costa Vida and they have a wonderful cilantro and lime rice. SO good! 

Anyways, since it just barely opened (and it's something to eat besides one of our 4 Subways). It had a line wait time of 20 minutes. Regardless, that's what I felt like for my birthday dinner, I called in our order over the phone so it would be ready by the time Char and Heidi Anne made it through the line. 

Something interesting happened while they were there. Smoke filled the back kitchen (almost like someone forgot to open a vent) and the fire alarms went off. Forcing the staff to evacuate the restaurant. Most people cut their losses and just left the location versus waiting for the Fire Marshal to come clear the scene. Char and Heidi Anne decided to just wait it out because I was looking forward to dinner from there. Plus, there wasn't a real rush.  

Once the restaurant re-opened, Char and Heidi Anne got our order and came back home. Heidi Anne regaled me with their adventure while we ate dinner. Rory even ate his quesadilla down to the last bite. 

We didn't do our traditional cupcake this year. I guess because I made brownies the day before. Or that Anastasia's birthday is coming up, followed by Rory's. All in all still a good day.