Sunday, March 25, 2012

Angelic

Eli had fallen asleep in my arms. He nestled into the inside of my elbow. Eventually, I cradle my warm little bundle of baby and make my way upstairs to put him down for the night. He is full of milk and sweet dreams. Just before putting Eli to bed, he stirs. He lifts his head from my shoulder and softly sighs in that most precious baby way.

Oh honey, did you hear that sweet little sound?

Yes, dear. It's like angels farting.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Four

Right now the boys are four years and four months old. Jackson really enjoys telling peopl about this little numerical happening. But then he is quick to point out that he is really four and a half and Eli is zero. Technically.
Every time he mentions this little extra half of four it gives me a little twinge. Really? Four and a half? My baby is closer to five?
Four has been so much fun so far. Four has really developed a sense of humor and a serious appreciation for musicals. Wizard of Oz, The Music Man and Chittty Chitty Bang Bang are part of the musical repertoire now. However, recently the automotive repair program Wheeler Dealers has become a request when been given a special tv treat option. Four is trying to learn how to tie its shoes, has learned how to read and enjoys playing soccer.
Four also has a lot of questions. A lot. Why does Superman have red boots? Can he get hurt? What do you know about construction? Why do they have port-a-potties out there? How much spinach do I have to eat to get a treat? Why does the dough look like mud? Can we still eat it? Can we eat it right now? What would it tatse like? When will it be ready? Why is the moon still out here? Why does the sun come up every day? Why doesn't Eli have any teeth? Is daddy made of iron? Why is there oil in a car? How does Superman fly? How does he stand when he is about to jump over a building?
Four is always ready for a good discussion.
What four hasn't done yet is located its balance. Four is a major clutz. So far four has fallen face forward in the playground collecting a black and blue nose. And last night four was running through the house in new flip flops and did a dance with the living room window sill. Just as the nose was returning to normal shades of face, the purple line of window-sill injury is streaking its way down.
But things were handled with bravery. It was only a brief crying spell and an ice pack later, before the showing off began.
I'm excited to watch the second half of four.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Check Up

Eli's official four month check up was Thursday afternoon. He now weighs 15 pounds and 4 oz. I thought he was a bit small but the doctor felt he was right on track and was pleased with his growth. He is basically in the 45 percentile in height and weight. His head size is in the 24 percentile. These numbers shock me because for years Jackson would be well into the 90 percentiles and his head size would literally be off the charts. But as long as the doctor is ok with Eli's growth then I am, too.
We have had a few scares regarding Eli catching colds. Basic stuff for a normal baby, but for him it didn't go so well. He catches a cold and his symptoms get pretty drastic pretty quickly. A slight cough and congestion lapse into difficulty breathing within hours. Now when he gets a few symptoms we put the breathing monitor back on his diaper so mentally we can sleep at night. Of course, then I stay awake staring at its little, flashing, green light. I'm so glad RSV season is winding down and just hope Eli can use this summer to toughen up before it begins again in the fall. His lung are just still so weak. But we knew things might be this way for a couple of years.
In the meantime, the rest of his appointment went well. The doctor was impressed with Eli's smiley personality. He does love to grin, especially when his mouth is full of rice cereal. We have started out slowly and even took a week-long break from rice cereal when his stomach seemed a bit ... concerned ... about the new food. But we have started again and I am really looking forward to introducing new foods.
I'm not sure who was the most excited about starting rice cereal - me or Jackson. When I told Jackson we were going to start feeding Eli cereal he jumped up and immediately asked, "Did Eli get his teeth?"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Baby House

Overall, we could not be happier about Jackson's reaction to his little brother. He still loves to help out when it comes to baby stuff and truly enjoys discussing Eli's ...uh... digestive productions.

Mama, is it a poopy diaper?

Yes, it is.

Well then, I better check it out.

Really?

Yep, let me see ... EWWWWWWW! You're right, that's a poopy one.

Thank you, Jackson.

When Eli is on my shoulder, Jackson loves to inform me if Eli is asleep or awake.
Sometimes our conversations are endless:

What's the status, Jack?

Asleep.

Asleep?

He's awake.

Awake?

Nope, asleep. Wait! He's asleep.

He is the most helpful when it comes to tummy time. He sings and dances, putting on such a show that Eli can't help but hold his head high to catch a glimpse of the whirling dervish.
Of course, there are pangs of jealousy. They bubble up in unexpected moments. Like at the end of Eli's PT, when Jackson will suddenly have to show us his own tummy time skills.
Or like the time he didn't get to do as he wished and stomped his foot down in the kitchen shouting "You are a baby! This is a baby house!"
We have tried, particularly in the last few weeks (especially since I have been back at work) to ensure Jackson gets his quality time sans Eli. And after some really good days at school, Eric even designed a light that intertwines around Jackson's bunk bed making it a super cool nightlight for bedtime stories.
He adores it.
We also point out how in love Eli is with Jackson.
Sometimes, Eli stares at Jackson so hard it gets a little creepy.
Even Jackson noted, "He can't take his eyes off of me!"
He drools and stares at Jackson non-stop as if to say, "ILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOU!"
His infatuation comes in handy, since Jackson can charm that baby into giggles.
Jackson desperately wants Eli to be able to do everything right now. He explains how to ride a bike to Eli, or goes into detail about how to put on shoes. He wants to take baths together, play together, etc.
He can hardly wait.
He has become a wonderful big brother. He has learned so much about caring for a baby. Maybe even more than his father.......
ALL the boys were in bed when I was in the bathroom getting ready for work. Then a sleepy Eric appeared.

Honey, where is the baby? Who is watching Eli?

Oh, I left him with Jackson.

On the bed with Jackson?

Yeah.

The four year old?

Yeah. If you can't leave a baby with a four year old then who can you leave it with?

Mama! I'm gonna flip 'em over for some tummy time, k?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Jen

The NICU Chronicles - While it is hard to tell, there is still so much to say about Eli's birth. Now that we are farther away from this traumatic event, we can finally revisit these moments. We want never to forget the amazing people that helped us through. This blog is how we will remember...


It was really the second night that our baby was in the NICU that was the worst. The first night was so full of shock and horror that it all just melded into white heat. A blur you can't really see. A thick fog that clouded our eyes and even made it difficult to hear.
What did the doctor say? Our baby will be fine? Our baby can't breathe? His heart? Wait. Stop. What is happening?
Recovering from surgery made it difficult to travel from my hospital room over to the NICU but that first night Eric wheeled me over and we got to sit with Eli, making sure our voices were barely a whisper so as not to stimulate him. We could only touch the big toe on his left foot while a pulse ox monitor made the big toe on his right glow like Rudolph's nose.
We sat, latched on to his tiny toe, and listened to the NICU's music. To Eli's song - a mix of whispers, jarring beeps and humming vents.
Our roller coaster's dips and waves started from the moment of Eli's birth.
But Thursday.
Thursday was the worst. Now, it was real. More information had arrived. More medical. More tests, x-rays and ECHOs. Now, the bars have come down, the ride has left the gate and it was too late to look back.
I've heard people say, "I'm cried out" or "I just don't have any tears left."
Not so.
Thursday night Eric and I sat alone staring at our tiny baby during the tiny hours before dawn. We cried and cried. Cried for our baby and cried at how helpless we felt.
Powerless.
Maybe she handled all NICU parents this way. Maybe she saw how broken we were. But Eli's nurse slowed the roller coaster - if even for one night.
She was small, soft spoken and kept her long red hair pulled in to a pony tail. Her quietness belied her skills. Her small frame worked the room quickly and her deft hands efficiently changed medications, untangled tiny IVs, rearranged tubes and reset monitors. She took me over to Eli and slowly explained what every tube was for, what every wire monitored, what every machine supplied, what every liquid was tasked to do and what every sound meant. From his head down to his foot, her finger tips traced every line. This line monitors his heart, this for his oxygen level, this one provides blood pressure medication, this one sedation, this one is an antibiotic, this too...
She asked if I would like to take his temperature. It would be the first thing I would ever get to do for him. She asked me if I would like to change his diaper. She gave me a tiny, white tee to sleep with.
"Afterward, we will leave it with him, so he will have your scent," she said. She did everything she could to help us bond on a primal level - body heat and scents. By taking it one step further and educating us on a night where we knew nothing, she gave us something to grasp. I still have that tiny tee.
By all appearances, Aaron was her opposite - a massive man with wild, dark curls and a booming voice. While most entered Eli's small, dark room that night with hushed tones and quick glances, Eli's respiratory therapist's voice was jarring and his stare was unfaltering. Aaron's height was intimidating, even in pale green scrubs. His wide face was full of pity when saw us that night.
"Sometimes this whole thing is harder on the parents than it is on the babies," he said. "Your baby will never remember any of this, but you will never forget it."
As if he and Jen had previously discussed that night's tutorial strategy, he too took the time to explain Eli's vent. He showed us on the digital screen, the peaks and valleys of breath. He taught us how to determine which breaths were the vent and which belonged to Eli. He said that at times, Eli's lungs would over power the vent - that our boy would devour a deep breath all for himself. He was pleased with Eli overall and it was one of the first tiny rays of hope that crept in during that 3 a.m. darkness.
The soft-spoken nurse and the giant therapist, these Champions of Eli, didn't just work to save our son. They saved us. They armed us the best they could for this battle. Saved us from being swallowed whole by fear that night.