Saturday, December 31, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Gavin and I made it back home safely around 2 am this morning. I will post all the details of our trip in the next couple days, but first, here are two videos - the first one was taken on the 28th at Breckenridge and the second was taken on the 30th at Keystone. If you're not the skiing type, you can see improvement by watching his hands and also how smooth and steady he is in the second video. The first day and a half he was sort of wrenching his hands around when he was trying to turn side to side, by the last day he was really bending his knees and using his legs.

Yesterday he was skiing from the top of the mountain all the way to the bottom without stopping. He only fell once - skidding on some ice, and he got himself back up before I could reach him. I was flying after him just to keep up - he really did an amazing job!

Click on the YouTube logo to get a bigger screen view, in the second video, he is in red and will be coming down the middle of the screen from the top of the hill.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Poor Sam has pneumonia. He had it right about this time last year too. We've been fighting cough/colds on and off around the house for a month or so now, and it finally caught up to him. Sunday afternoon he was lethargic, Monday morning he was warm. Monday afternoon Dr appt confirmed my suspected pneumonia - caught early.

Monday night was awful. I'm not sure if the antibiotic hurt his stomach, or he was jsut exhausted, but he woke up often and wouldn't let me comfort him - just screamed at me to go away. Tuesday he actually played very well in the morning, but more of the waking up and screaming at nap time. He is fortunately drinking well - and I am able to hide his antibiotics and probiotics in OJ so far undetected (he could detect the antibiotic in milk). I thought we would avoid the antibiotic induced liquid diapers, but no luck. Ugh.

Today he seems to be feeling better and went down for a nap easily and is sleeping well. His cough seems more "productive" so hoping he is getting the junk up and out. He is still coughing so hard he throws up. So that's awesome. He's not eating a whole lot - got half a piece of toast in him today and about half a cup of cooked pasta yesterday. Oh yes, and Fiber One bars, he loves those, and that's really not helping the stomach issues!

I leave you with a random cell phone pic from a while back...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Toddler Meltdowns

I thought this was a great article on how to handle toddler meltdowns. Sam is at that fun age right now, and I have found he definitely has a pattern - freak out, throws himself on the floor repeatedly, then runs off to a darkish spot in the house, flops down, cries a while, asks for his blankies and milk, then lets me pick him up to comfort him.

Any intervention before the blankie request just prolongs the whole cycle! Are toddlers really any different than adults? When I am outrageously mad, I certainly don't want to "talk about it". I want to be left alone and when I'm ready to come out and play, I'll let you know. There's just more loud crying and whining with toddlers (well, maybe!).

Just kidding. I don't cry or whine......that often.

Anyway, I promise to get back to blogging about the kids and posting pics soon. Life has been hectic, here are some upcoming blog topics (for my own reminder).

Gavin/Mommy weekend
Sam's Italian
Gavin 1st trimester report
Boy Scouts
Potty Training
Picture posts (halloween, festival, random)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gavin's Gotcha Day & World Prematurity Day

Friends, this week is always hard for me. I'm not sure how it happens that the happiest and saddest moments of one's life get all wrapped up in one single week.

Perhaps, though, it's fitting, as they all serve to remind me to be thankful.

Today is the day that Gavin came home from the hospital after 82 days. Today is the day that we stopped depending on monitors and tests and measurements to tell us how he was doing and we just got to be his parents.

Today is a day that also brought us full circle, as Gavin came home one day shy of the first anniversary of losing Ella. Which also happens to be Chad's birthday.

A marriage, a birthday, a loss, and a homecoming, all wrapped up in this one short week. So if you find me on the verge of tears at any given moment, now you know why. It sort of makes my soul raw to process it all.

While I can appreciate that this is also World Prematurity Day to help raise awareness of this issue, I think it's important to note that for many people, prematurity day is every day.

We are so, so lucky. Gavin ended up on the best part of the bell curve - that tail end to the right, the statistically optimistic.

I can honestly say I've moved on (mostly) from the tragedy of the NICU.

It took a year to get over the fear that he would just stop breathing all of a sudden. It took another couple years to get over the fear that an illness could take him out in an instant.

As he started walking, talking, socializing, I got over the fear that his brain bleeds had caused any serious development issues.

It took until 2nd grade to realize that he would be able to keep up with his counterparts at school, that he would have the same potential as any other kid.

Some fears are still there. Knowing that he is doing so well, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can't believe that we have left prematurity quite this unscathed, when I see so many others still struggling. I keep waiting to discover the big scar that prematurity left on him. I realize, by now, that this fear is mostly unfounded at this point.

Prematurity is not just one day out of the year for us. I live out every day with fear and gratitude from the path we have walked, etched in my heart.

And it's not just one day for the mothers that never get to raise their children, the ones that didn't survive prematurity. It's not one day for the parents taking their kids to endless therapy sessions and doctors appointments. And it's certainly not one day for the parents sitting next to an isolette, today, wondering what the future will possibly hold.

It's not one day for this mother, who will always wonder what would have been different. If I had known more about pre-term labor and the warning signs. If I hadn't trusted the stupid ER docs that sent me home that night. That hadn't wanted to be that annoying patient, that hadn't asked too many questions, that hadn't insisted that I see an OB.

You see, prematurity awareness isn't about not smoking, or not drinking, and not doing drugs, eating right, or taking vitamins. We know all that. We need to find a way to educate pregnant women to recognize when things are going wrong, so that they can advocate for themselves if they do. So often, it seems, this information is withheld unless the person is at risk. Maybe we don't want to scare them, or give them more to worry about than necessary. Whatever the reason, there just isn't adequate information out there, and the greatest tragedy is that in many cases, prematurity could be prevented, or at least mitigated a bit.

Is it possible to wish for things to be different, and wish for things to be the same, all at the same time? That's where I always find myself this week. It's hard to understand, and hard to know just how to feel.

But here is what I do know:

If we didn't have this picture

I wouldn't have the appreciation and gratitude nearly so much for the boy in this picture

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

EIGHT: How I Met Your Father

There are likely countless journal entries in those diaries in my garage from my 15 yr old self gushing about Chad Sellers.

The first time I saw him, I was sitting outside school in the fall of 1994. He pulled up in a huge white beater of a car, hid his keys on top of the driver side front tire, smiled at me and told me not to steal his car.

The next time I saw him was on the cross country course. I was running my first meet and he happened to be standing right where I stopped to take a walk break (so embarrassing). He cheered me on and told me to keep going. I still managed to run 2 miles in 15:05. Sure wish I could do that now.

Then in 1995, my sophomore year, he walked into my English class, as I was taking 11th grade English. He sat one desk to my left and one desk back (behind Megan Anderson) and made witty comments all through class.

The next month was spent plotting how to get him to ask me to Homecoming. Another girlfriend was in his geometry class so she was my spy, finding out if he had a girlfriend, a date, you know important intel.

Our first date was October 9th, 1995. Chad and Zach picked me up from my friend Ingrid's house and we went to the football game.

And that, kids, is the story of How I Met Your Father. And "Uncle" Zach is still around too.

A lot happened between then and 2003. We dated through high school, then went our separate ways when Chad went to college. We maintained a friendship over the years, through college, relationships, break ups. Eventually Chad came back to Des Moines.

On February 19th, 2003 we went on our first grown up date.

On April 11th, 2003 we were engaged.

And on November 15th, 2003 we were married.

It certainly doesn't feel like it's been eight years, it does make me feel ancient to think it's been that long!

Eight years of marriage has not always been easy. We have our moments like anyone else. But it has always, always been worth it.

Love you, Chad. Thanks for letting me sink my claws into you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sam's Baby Brother Named....Eisley??

Yesterday we were at my mom's for lunch with my brother, SIL and niece Eisley. I was talking to the boys about how fun it would be when Eisley had a little brother.

They started in with their typical "I want another brother" spiel, until Gavin decided that he wanted another sister. I was pretty quickly able to convince Gavin that mommy could not, in fact, actually handle another child, and that he didn't want another pesky sibling getting into his stuff or otherwise abusing him.

Side note - Sam has been putting it to Gavin lately. Gavin has been an amazing big brother and takes a lot from Sam on most days, but Sam has been crossing.the.line lately. Looking forward to Sam getting a bit older so that he can start getting into his own activities!

At any rate, Sam made up his mind that was IS having a baby brother. Not even that he's going to have a baby brother, but that he already has a baby brother. And his baby brother's name stopped and thought about this a good long time)....his baby brother's name is Eisley!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. He is trouble, but he's darn cute and funny. See?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State

I've never cared about football at all, so the name Joe Paterno has never entered my consciousness until the last couple days.

As a parent human being, I am sickened, and appalled, at how many people failed to make sure that what they saw was reported to police. If you can't advocate for a child, then who will you stand up and fight for? That kid is somebody's child, nephew, grandkid, and he/she is a person that can't fight for themselves that will have to live with the abuse for the rest of their lives. How can anyone turn their cheek?

Why are students rioting at Paterno's firing? I don't know his history as a coach, apparently he was legendary. Guess what people, you got played. He may have been an effective, even amazing coach, but he's turned out to be a world class loser as a human being. And yes, his actions should overshadow anything great he may have done as a coach.

This whole situation brings up a point that we all need to be sensitive too. We might as well learn something from this right? How many times have we turned the other cheek, or not said something when we saw someone being mistreated? Hopefully none of us would find ourselves in the position of reporting child abuse (and if we are, you need to not just see and report, you need to intervene immediately). I think we have all found ourselves in much less serious situations - someone speaking poorly to a cashier, a parent dragging their child by the arm a little too roughly, a man verbally abusing a woman in public.

Do you say something? Or do you walk away? Where is the line? How badly does the injustice have to be before you will intervene? How many times do we say "it's not my problem" before we become desensitized to the actions of people around us?

What would it mean to the victims of these scenarios if just one person would step up and do the right thing?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Want....

to read a grown up book all the way through

to see Brothers & Sisters return to TV

to do better at loving unconditionally

to make the transition to being a vegan

to get a degree in nutrition sciences

to recover from this running injury and kill the next half-marathon I run

to have an all-day spa pampering complete with champagne and fuzzy slippers with my bestie Becky

to have this upcoming IVF cycle for said bestie work so that she can experience all the wonderful things that I have experienced in motherhood

to stop underestimating people

to raise my boys to be amazing stewards of their gifts and talents

to believe that one day I will be reunited with my grandfather and Ella

to visit India

to hit the ski slopes at least twice with Gavin this season

to live each day with gratitude

Thanks to my fabulous bloggy/preemie mom friend Mel for this terrific blog idea

What do you want?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Haps

Here's what's been going on around our house lately:

Gavin finished up outdoor soccer Saturday, and promptly started indoor soccer Sunday.

Sam is potty trained completely at school. He refuses to use the potty most of the time at home. He wants to stay my baby (I think). He is not a fan of me calling him a big boy.

Gavin joined cub scouts, which pretty much means more homework for him (and me!) as we work to earn badges and catch up on the badges the others earned before he started. Last night we memorized the cub scout promise and I had to awkwardly explain what doing his duty to God meant, even though we don't go to church.

Sam is sad that his best friend Kelsey moved into the 3 yr old room at school. "I want to be with Kelsey!"

Gavin is turning into a little rock star at school. We are almost a third of the way through the school year and he has not pulled any sticks in class. When I go on Fridays, I am so impressed with how he behaves in the classroom (especially when I got a couple super naughty, talk-all-the-way-through-the-spelling-test boys last week - I had to remind them after every.word to stop talking!) Kids these respect! He seems to have gotten the hang of learning the spelling words, while he still misses quite a few on the pretest, he is now getting 100% on the final test.

Sam is soaking up all the work that Gavin and I are doing. Last night while working on spelling with Gavin, he informed me Soap begins with S!

Wonderful moments like this:

Last night after dinner, Chad went down to his office and I hung with the boys. Gavin was watching a show on TV and Sam as playing a game on my phone. Sam was on my lap and Gavin was snuggled up against me. I sat there in the dim light, just breathing in the smell of baby shampoo on their hair.

And then I made the mistake of trying to capture this moment on film.

Sam promptly tried to snatch the camera from my hand so that HE could take the picture and the spell was broken. The evening quickly degraded into the 90% of the time status quo, which kind of looks like this:

Pinned Image

In case you are not familiar with my boys, Sam (the little brother) is protrayed by the cat on top in this picture.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Birthday Pics

Here are some birthday pics from Gavin's party at Chuck E Cheese. He had such a blast, and it was great getting to know the kids he invited. I'm proud to say he associates with a good group of kids. I snapped pictures of him with all his friends as well! but didn't want to post them without parent's permission

Friday, October 21, 2011

LOVE (love, love, love)


Last night. I loved last night.

Backing up a bit - the last two days Sam had been dry and peed in the potty at day care all day. I don't know what changed, except for I bought him Cars Pull Ups. Super proud of him!

Came home yesterday and we told Gavin about Sam's accomplishment. He lights up and says "Good Job Sammy!" and gives him high fives. But in a totally loving, proud, genuine big brother kind of way. Not the condescending, patronizing kind of way. Where does he get that tone anyway???

Gavin had soccer practice so Chad stayed home with Sam while I took Gavin. We got home, boys got bathed and I started on dinner, while my MIL and her mother came by to see the kids. The boys are getting along great - other than Sam did not want Gav to take a bath with him, but otherwise, great.

After dinner, Gavin turned on music to dance. Somehow they both managed to dance in the living room without fighting (usually Gavin gets very upset that Sam is infringing his dance space). Then they start running/racing around the living room, wrestling with each other. And totally getting along - having fun together!

I just sat back and watched. Sam just wants to be so much like his brother, copying everything he does. His naughtiness must come from mostly wanting Gavin's attention. I'm hoping he learned that being nice to him is the way to get it! Gavin would run into the kitchen, get a drink of water, Sam would do the same. Gavin would say something in passing to me, Sam would do the same.

Taking a cue from my friend Melissa, I just sat back and soaked it all in, enjoying the moment.

Then Sam put on a show for us. This kid is a huge fan of being the center of attention (as opposed to Gavin who burst into tears the first two times I showed up at his preschool for a performance, and only survived the third time because I cowered behind another parent and did not make eye contact).

Sam sang, loud and proud, the ABC song and the Wheels on the Bus. Complete with hand gestures. And a super huge grin on his face.

It was a riot.

The night was perfection.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Civil Disobedience

thy name is Sam

This boy rarely throws a fit or cries or screams. He does bite and hit for fun and attention, but that's another issue.

He is the king of civil disobedience though. If he doesn't want to do something he just.won'

How do you make a horse go that doesn't want to move? No really....if you have the answer, I'm taking notes!

This morning I got a text from Chad that Sam was refusing to change his diaper and get dressed (9:30 am). I told him to bribe him with fruit snacks.

At 10:18 I got a text "I'm done with Sam. Come get him". Fortunately a meeting I was in ended early and I was able to get over there right away. Sam was just laying on the couch with his blankets.

I was able to convince him to go pretty quickly


If you see my kid on the playground his pajamas.....with a mouth full of gobstoppers.....well, let's just say civil disobedience won out today.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011


We've been trying to get Samson to cut his hair for some time, considering it's always in his eyes.

This cool kid, finally agreed (he's been refusing for a LONG time, staying true to his name, I suppose). But he demanded a mohawk.

There you have it folks, my big kid with a mohawk. I picked him up from school yesterday and literally couldn't find him on the playground. There are a lot of blond short haired boys in his class (perhaps the downside of a Lutheran program is lack of diversity?) and I was staring right at him and did not even recognize him until he came running at me.

He was holding pretty tight to those suckers, but sweet boy did offer me the orange one. "I saved this sucker for YOU, Mommy!"

And in other sweet, sharing news, last night after the soccer game, Gavin got a bag of chips and a rice krispie treat that the parents brought for treats. He gave his brother the rice krispie treat and Sam was SO happy that Gavin shared with him. As much as they like to fight sometimes (read: Sam picks on Gavin who retaliates), Sam just lights up when his brother does something really nice for him like that.

I suspect it's because Gavin doesn't actually LIKE rice krispie treats, but let's just overlook that fact for now, k?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Funny story. And family, don't repeat these things to the kids. I think they find it weird that the universe knows all about the funny things they say at home.

Last week, the cat (Meatball, a rescue from the shelter we got when Gavin was about 2 1/2, already named) went outside when Grandma Betsy left for the evening. No big deal, he enjoys his time outside and stays close to the house, meowing at the door when he's ready to come in.

Before the boys settled down to bed I asked them to check the front door to see if he was ready to come in. He wasn't there so they checked the back door.

Gavin: "Mommy, I hear a weird sound"

I brushed it off as nothing and told them to come inside and that Meatball would show up when he was ready. Gavin started crying and said "No, Mom, I think it's Meatball....he's making a weird sound."

I stepped outside, and sure enough I heard a low growl coming from under the deck. Even though I'd never heard him make such a sound, I was pretty sure it was our cat. Imagining a rabid raccoon or some other sort of infected animal, I quickly got the kids inside and called Chad up to handle the situation.

He went outside and saw what he thought was a cat take off, spooked, for our hill and the "naughty tree" - a tree covered in thorns that in hindsight we probably should have had removed when we built the house. Oh well. As it was pitch black out, he came in to get a flashlight.

Once out there with the flashlight he realized Meatball was still under the deck. After about 5 minutes, he ventured out and came inside. I told the boys to give him some space as Chad checked him over to make sure he hadn't gotten into a brawl with the other cat (animal?). He was fine and flopped down on the carpet.

Gavin went rushing over to him, and with all the drama of your favorite daytime soap exclaimed:

Meatball! Are you ok? Do you recognize us? Do you know who I am Meatball?

As if Meatball had just woken up from a 2 year coma or something. It was HILARIOUS!

What's not hilarious, on the other hand, is that it looks like my desire to get rid of the cat will not materialize any time soon. Gavin was a crying, concerned mess until Chad brought him in. He flipping LOVES that cat. (sigh)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Nephro Appt - Results

GREAT news last Friday - all the tests that were run at the nephrology appointment were normal. No signs of kidney issues (which could cause high bp) and no indication of LVH (left ventricle hardening maybe?) at any rate, they were looking for thickening of the artery which would be the negative consequence of high blood pressure.

My calculus teacher in high school (Mr. Zimmerman - Central Academy - shout out!) always quoted "ours is not to do or die, ours is to ask the question why?". We always were challenged to understand why the proofs worked - it wasn't good enough to simply memorize them.

Because a curious, and data driven sort of person, I am really highly irritated that I may not know why Gavin's bp was high for a few weeks. Perhaps it was white coat hypertension, and he had lingering anxiety that something was wrong the next couple times the nurse checked it. Perhaps his diet was funky those weeks. Maybe he was a little dehydrated. Who knows? It's making me nuts.

Prior to this, he only had it checked once a year, then 5 times in 3 weeks. 3 of those times it was high, and 2 it was normal. Normal being subjective - the doctors thought it was normal, the school nurse thinks it's still on the high side. He may just be an outlier on the high side though.

At any rate, I'm considering getting a monitor and checking it several times a week for a while to get my own baseline. I'm not a hypochondriac, and believe me, I'm not trying to find problems where they don't exist. I just want to understand what his normal is. What if the high numbers are his normal and the low numbers were the anomaly? At this point we know nothing is wrong, and that's great, beyond great. The whole thing just has me puzzled, and I'm sort of innately driven to figure out the why.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nephrology Appt

Well, we get to the nephrologist yesterday and Gavin's blood pressure was totally normal! Not that we are complaining, believe me. But he said that due to his risk factors, we might as well get everything checked out. That way we know (for now anyway) that everything is good. He also suggested a low sodium diet - which I will start tracking Gavin's food, but I believe he is not getting more than 2500 mg of sodium a day. I track what I eat and I rarely go over that (especially considering that Livestrong only has around 1600 mg for the recommended amount). One of the things that is out is Gatorade and sports drinks, which he was bummed about, but I think we will know if he can have these things on occasion once we start tracking his food and seeing how much he is really getting.

He's also not supposed to have any caffeine. So we will have to check labels, because there are some soda's like Sunkist Orange that you would think are ok that actually contain caffeine.

Before we left the office, he peed in a cup, and we were on our merry way to tour the hospital. First up was an echocardiagram, kind of an ultrasound of the heart. We had to go from the west side of the hospital over to the ER where the outpatient registration was. Once we checked in we had to go to "the farthest part of the hospital we could send you" according to the registrar to get the echo done. We got over there, and got in fairly quickly. He took his shirt off and they put the leads on him to measure his heart rate. I wasn't prepared for seeing those little sticky pads on his body and the wires coming from him - the size of the leads would have covered most of his abdomen when he was a baby. It was surreal how it sort of transported me back to the NICU.

Gavin tried to stay still and not talk as she did the echo. Unfortunately, I have no idea what I am looking for, and the tech didn't give any indication.

Then we went all the way back to where we originally started, the path lab in the same wing as the doctors office. Gavin was very nervous about the blood draw and even squealing with they tied on the rubber band. Clearly this boy is no longer desensitized from all his poking the first couple years of his life! He started crying when they used the alcohol wipe and I had to remind him that wasn't even the needle yet. (Gavin is a bit of a showboater, so I'm not sure how much this actually hurt vs he wanted the attention of it hurting). He squeezed my hand and we had to remind him the importance of keeping still. As the needle went in, he got in the poor lab tech's face and screamed "OWWWWWWWWWWWW" at the top of his lungs at her. He whimpered until it was done, and then he was just fine.

We then embarked on our mad rush to get Sam, get home, get snacks, and get dressed and to his soccer game. Where he did an amazing job and had several great assists and some good goals. It is so fun watching him evolve in this sport. I snapped some action shots which you will likely be seeing on here some time in, oh, November or so.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Thanks to Amanda for posting this quote on Facebook this morning!

You did then what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better
~ Maya Angelou

This applies so well to parenting. Your kid doesn't come with an instruction manual, although there are so many parenting books written, you couldn't possibly figure out which one to follow. My mom said it best in my post about kindergarten - you make the best decisions you can at the time, with the information that you have, when done with love, that's the best that you can do.

It's also a great reminder that every day, every experience, presents an opportunity to learn more, to overcome another challenge, and to use that experience to better inform your decisions in the future.

So while we should never lament the decisions we've made, we should also be vigilant to always do better when we have the chance.

In other news, Gavin's blood pressure was down a lot today. Lower than any recorded measurement in 4 years. I am really glad it's down, but it's a little frustrating that this measurement is down at the 11th hour. It makes me want to hook him up to a machine 24/7! I know I just need to be patient and wait for the Dr. visit....but it's kind of like when their fever is 104 at home and fine by the time you get to the Dr's office - even though you had valid reason for concern, you feel a little silly when they stop acting sick the minute you get the office.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sam's a Big Brother

No! Before you get all worked up, we are NOT having another baby. Unless Sam knows something we don't. Ha! No, he doesn't. I repeat, we are NOT having a baby.


This weekend Sam informed me, "I'm going to be a big brother!"

I said, "Really - YOU are going to be a big brother?"

Sam, "Yes, I AM!!!"

When I told Chad he said "just wait until he tells everyone at day care"

So in case Sam shares this tidbit of information with you, it is all fiction. He later told me that his friend Calvin at school was a big brother, so I think he just decided that he was going to be one too.

He's still pretty flippin' cute, even if he is spreading lies

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011


From Wikipedia:
A nephrologist is a physician who has been trained in the diagnosis and management of kidney disease, by regulating blood pressure, regulating electrolytes, balancing fluids in the body, and administering dialysis. Nephrologists treat many different kidney disorders including acid-base disorders, electrolyte disorders, nephrolithiasis (kidney stones), hypertension (high blood pressure), acute kidney disease and end-stage renal disease. Nephrology is a subspecialty of internal medicine. In the United States, after medical school nephrologists complete a three year residency in internal medicine followed by a two year (or longer) fellowship in nephrology.

While many micro-preemies get released from the NICU with a list of specialists, we were part of the lucky few that didn't. No pulmonologist, cardiologist, no issues that couldn't be addressed by our pediatrician.

Until now. In two months and 1 day we will celebrate 7 years outside the NICU. Oddly enough, 7 years ago today Gavin was recovering from a blood borne staph infection, fighting to get off the vent, and being administered doses of a medication that could have impacted his kidneys (but that was completely necessary to help his heart and avoid surgery).

Gavin's blood pressure checks have continued to run high at school. We have officially been referred to nephrology. It's hitting me really hard. I don't know why. We've been extremely lucky with Gavin's health and avoiding many long term issues that accompany being born 3 months too early.

I guess maybe I'd thought we were safe. That there was nothing else that could touch us. I'd let my guard down, started seeing him as a normal kid, didn't really worry about lifelong issues anymore. I feel blindsided. And I'm mad at myself for not being on top of the blood pressure readings, and not knowing that they were high in the past, and not knowing that preemies were at risk for high blood pressure. Preemie mom guilt is a nasty beast to shoulder. And it's hitting me pretty hard today. I'm not usually much of a crier - but it's rainy and gloomy out and I catch myself tearing up frequently.

I know it's probably nothing. And I know if it's something - even a big something, we'll get through it like we've gotten through everything.

But for today I'll wallow. And take the afternoon off for some shopping therapy. That always seems to help.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

4th of July Race Pics

 There's my big kid, not too far behind a much bigger kid. Go Gavin!
 Such determination!

 Little brother needs a pep talk before his big race
 And he's off! Gavin stayed an appropriate distance behind him, cheering him on

 Sam's showing off his perfect Pose running form.
Mommy also ran the 5k that morning. But the pictures weren't pretty!

Monday, September 12, 2011

When Should Preemies Start Kindergarten?

As Gavin gets older, I find there are less and less resources to answer my preemie related questions. I love, love, LOVE the online board that I joined when Sam was born, and they have been so helpful in answering my questions and saving my sanity. However, Gavin is one of the older kids of the group - at least of those of us active on the board.

I received a comment on his birthday post about the decision to send him to school, rather than waiting. I thought it might be helpful to post my response on here as well, in case any other mom struggling with this decision is trying to find parents who have been in the same position. This is just what worked for us and the decision that we made based on the research that we did. Everyone needs to evaluate what will work best for them, of course.

To aid in my decision, I read a lot about pro's/cons of sending kids to kindergarten. It was not preemie specific, more about kids that are on the brink of that cut off date.

Everything that I read said that any disadvantage that they may have being young for their grade is pretty much eradicated by 2nd grade. Gavin did not attend the school district preschool (being our first kid in school and not having friends with kids that age, we didn't know how important this was). He had preschool type time at his day care, but probably not as rigorous as real preschool.

At any rate, I can see that the gap has closed big time between kindergarten and now. The neighbor girl was reading before she even started kindergarten and was way ahead and bored in school the last two years. I just talked to her mom last week, and she's not as far ahead as she used to be, and it's frustrating her (the child). Like the spelling list they sent home, she didn't know them all right away and had to study.

I also found it interesting that when I went to administer spelling tests last week, there was a boy in my "red list" group. The red list was easier than the green list (Gavin made the green list). This boy was in his class in kindergarten, and he was in the advanced group at that time - and this year he has the easy spelling list. So things are starting to even out, it appears.

Gavin's super smart, his issues were more non-academic that interfered with his abilities to perform (I believe). The first half of the year in Kindergarten he literally could not sit still during carpet time. Last year, he was having problems following through on directions and with reading comprehension - which doesn't just hurt language arts scores, but also math, science and everything else if you are not properly comprehending the instructions.

Would these have been any better had we waited a year to send him? I'm not sure they would be. I think he needed to be in that structured setting to be able to work on these skills, so I'm not sure holding him back a year would have really helped much. The key for me is taking the time to get to know the teacher, and to make sure they understand the history. I expressed my concerns up front with the teachers, told them some of the issues we saw at home, or from the prior year at school and regularly emailed/checked in with the teacher to see how things were going and what suggestions they had for us to work on things at home. That way they see you as the partner and (I think) work a little harder with your kid. I also volunteered in his classroom which kept me in touch with what they were working on as well as gave me perspective as to how the other kids were performing on assessments.

So in hindsight, I do believe we made the right decision, although I've questioned it every time he struggles (and likely will continue to!). In the research that I did, there is cause to hold them back if you think they are not socially/emotionally ready - they need to be able to use the bathroom, follow directions, communicate, get along with other kids, etc. 

The other reason I've heard anecdotally - I get this from parents of boys more often than I thought I would - is that they wouldn't send their boys that are young for their grade because they will be smaller and not as good at sports. While it seems superficial on the surface, I do think this could have confidence and social ramifications (and could certainly be more relevant in preemies that have still not caught up in terms of growth, but would have to weigh whether they ever will be).

Gavin was tall for his age by the time he started school, so I was never worried about his size. I never figured he would be a football player, so I wasn't worried about that either. All the local sports clubs (soccer, baseball, etc) go by age, not grade, so he is playing on teams with kids a grade younger. By the time he gets to high school and competing at a grade level rather than age level, I don't think that 1 yr will make a difference. He'll either be competitive or not at that point.

That's my two cents. If you happened upon this post because you are struggling with the decision yourself, best of luck!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gavin's 7 Year Check Up

Gavin's stats came in at 50 inches and 59 lbs. I'm skeptical of the weight as he is usually 55 lbs at home. And if our scale at home is 4 lbs off, in the wrong direction, I'm not a happy camper!

At any rate, he grew 2 1/2 inches in the last year, and added 7 pounds. Last year he was 77% for height and 79% for weight. Now he is 81% for both! At this point he's estimated to grow another 2 ft, so he'll be almost as tall as his dad.

We had one measurement that was concerning - his blood pressure. I don't remember the bottom number as it wasn't concerning, but the top number measured 124 and then 120 the next two times they took it. For his age/height the top of the range is about 114. And being at the top of the range in and of itself is concerning, exceeding it is not so good. We are hoping it is just "white coat hypertension". The school nurse will be checking it weekly for us to get his trendline, and we're hoping it is down when she checks it today.

It's likely just nervousness at being at the Dr. He asked me on our way there if they were going to burn his hands. This kid remembers everything. When he was 2-3 yrs old, he had warts on his hands, and our ped dry iced them. To no avail. After several visits we weren't putting him through that again. I don't remember how we ended up at a dermatologist, but he ended up getting immunotherapy done there. It worked WONDERS and the only side effect was some itchy spots where they put the treatment to trigger the immune response.

sidebar: if you/your kids suffer from warts do not put them through the painful and scary process of having them burned off! See a dermatologist for immunotherapy.

At any rate, the blood pressure is probably nothing, but I always like to know what the worst possible scenario is. In kids like Gavin who do not have primary, or "lifestyle" risk factors - stress, smoking, overweight, bad nutrition, etc - it's more likely a kidney or heart issue.

As soon as I hear kidney, I am taken back to the medical interventions in the NICU. While all absolutely necessary to save his life, it's a harsh reminder that one simply can't be born 3 months early, go through months of medical intervention and come out unscathed. Everything has a side effect, has a flip side. So even if his blood pressure turns out to be unconcerning, this experience is just a sad reminder for me. Just when I so boldy declared we were over prematurity right?

Most early-ish preemies are born with a PDA, which is basically a valve that is open due to the way the blood is oxygenated in the womb, and normally closes within 72 hours of birth. Being born more than 8 weeks early increases the risk that it will not close on it's own, leading to major issues. They attempt to close it will a medicine called indomethacin, or "Indocin" which helps in the valve closing. Oddly enough, I was also on this drug from 17 weeks to 26 weeks pregnant to reduce amniotic fluid. A side effect of the drug is that it can decrease bloodflow to the brain, gut, and kidneys. So they were watching Gavin's urine output closely while he was on the drug. At our hospital, they routinely administer 3 doses of Indocin to try to close the valve, if that does not work, then surgery is the next option.

Gavin's urine output slowed significantly after 2 doses of the medication - indicating harm to the kidneys, they did not give the final dose. We were fortunate that his valve closed with just two doses. But today, I get to wonder what the price was. Don't get me wrong, I would never elect surgery on a sub-2 lb baby (which he'd dropped down to at that point)over medication. I just wonder if not only did his treatment have an impact, but was there any impact in utero while I was on the medication?

Again, all required interventions to keep him alive and get him home. I wouldn't change it. I just hate that it keeps rearing it's head.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Quirky Boys

I'm remiss in posting. My apologies. I have pics from the 4th of July that still need posted. Eek!

Since I don't have much time, I thought I would throw you a little nugget from this weekend. These boys are crazy, and loud, and frustrating at times, but in between all that are some moments that just make me so very glad.

We hit up the mall yesterday to get them some clothes. Gavin is in size 8 and has no winter clothes. Sam also needs some - their hand me down sizes are unfortunately not lining up - Gavin skipped size 3 winter clothes. We have size 3 summer clothes, but that was the time period where he went from 30% in height to 75% in height and we went up a couple sizes in a year! So we only have size 2 and 4 winter clothes, and 2 is too small and 4 is too big. Argh.

Also, Gavin only wants to wear jeans. He's too skinny for size 8 but needs the length. None of the brands at Younkers have adjustors, so we will have to go on a quest to get jeans for him. Some FB friends gave great suggestions (what did I do without Facebook??).

I digress.

As we were walking out of Younkers, I glanced back at Gavin. There was music playing and he was dancing as he walked. Doing his funky robot moves, totally in his own world, dancing to his own drummer. He's so awesome!

Later as we were walking to the play area, Sam was holding my hand. Every three or four steps he would do a twirl. This continued most of the length of the mall. Also awesome!

There's something about seeing a kid that that makes me so happy......especially when they are mine!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gavin Gatsby: 7 Year Old

A post alternately titled: Preemie No More

Gavin turned seven on Saturday! And I'm not even going to go into the walk down memory lane of his prematurity. It's here if you want to relive it. It's just not for this post.

As I thought of all the things I could write on his birthday, there was one glaring theme that's stood out to me over the past year: He's not my little preemie any more.

I'm not sure I will ever be able to say that we CONQUERED prematurity. There are scars, few physical, mostly emotional. Lingering quirks that I will always wonder: did being born too early cause this?

But I've found that over the last year, I haven't qualified Gavin as a preemie in talking to people any more. When we went to the walk in clinic for an illness, I almost forgot to mention it in his medical history. We're moving past it.

This year has been an amazing year for Gavin. First grade brought SUCH growth! We ended Kindergarten still slightly behind - or "progressing towards goal" as they put it. He entered first grade not behind! Over the summer he had somehow caught up to his peers. It was neat to show up at school weekly for my time helping the students needing a little extra help, and NOT have to bring him out in the hall with me.

He struggled with following directions. The teacher would take him aside and talk through the instructions, he would repeat them back, and then he just wouldn't execute them - missing some crucial step, and then not realizing it. She was quite puzzled by it. This led to an ADHD evaluation, which I strongly felt he did not have, but thought this might get us on track to some sort of solution. When meds and a psychologist were recommended, I politely declined. I know my kid. This wasn't the issue, and his teacher wholeheartedly agreed. I asked her if his behavior would be concerning if he were in Kindergarten, and she said not likely. I beat myself up for sending him to school and not holding him back a year to start Kindergarten when his due date would have placed him there.

By the end of first grade, though, he was continuing to make progress. The only area that was "progressing towards goal" was comprehension. There was huge growth from his EOY Kindergarten scores to his EOY First Grade scores. He was catching up!

What else did Gavin accomplish this last year?

He remained a strong and valuable player on his soccer team, and played indoor soccer for the first time. We are looking forward to playing with a new team this season.

He played flag football, and did not enjoy it. This secretly makes mama happy

Another season of baseball this spring - he seems to enjoy it, although it's not an overly dynamic game at this age.

He ran track for the first time. He made consistent improvement on his 400m race time, and qualified to Regionals in the long jump and 400m. He ran on the track that Chad ran in college and shaved another 4.5 seconds off his 400m time. We were SO proud of him! He's also done some fun runs over the summer, getting some longer distances under his belt.

We took a very special road trip to Colorado in January, just the two of us, and met up with my uncles for a ski trip. It was freezing so we only skied two days, but he did an amazing job on the mountain! He was very careful and responsible, with the right amount of fear and bravado. He was getting down blue trails without any problem by the end of the second day. We had such a blast, and he was a terrific road trip partner.

He recently took a "man trip" with Chad and Zach to eastern Iowa where they canoed and hiked.

Last Friday I was in his classroom to help administer spelling tests. I asked the teacher if she wanted me to mark them when they were done. It wasn't a totally selfless act, as I wanted to see how Gavin did in relation to all the other kids.

In Kindergarten, when he was struggling, I always had this thought in my head that I could handle if he struggled, as long as he wasn't the worst one. Isn't that weird?

I graded the tests. He missed a few, as did most kids. It turns out, he was perfectly average. Do we aspire to be better than average? Absolutely, and as parents it's our job to push him to be the best version of himself is possible.

But when I think back to the days leading up to his birth, and those early days in the NICU - faced with such a huge range of outcomes, perfectly average seemed possibly out of reach.

We're closing the chapter on prematurity.

Gavin, you are the light of my soul. Everyone that knows you well - pretty much every teacher and caregiver you've had - always has the same thing to say about you: "Gavin has the BIGGEST heart." We are so proud of you, how good you are to others, how hard you work, how focused and determined you are (when you want to be).

You have had such an amazing year! Happy Birthday.