Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Last Post

Essie is eighteen months old. She's walking, talking and dancing, learning new stuff every day and acting like any other kid her age. Once she hit around a year old I really slowed down on updating this weblog. Mostly because taking care of her is pretty engrossing and I had other writing projects and creative things I was working on.

Now, though, I feel a little weird about keeping a weblog about Essie. I'm no Dooce and while I love to write I have some reservations about detailing so much of what's going on in her life.

I guess the reason for that is that she's becoming a person. A real little personality with quirks and traits and preferences and things that make her unique. I love sharing her with my friends and family, but I do that on Facebook and having a weblog open to the world about my daughter isn't really necessary. Someday she can choose to share herself with the world, but for now I'll keep it to a minimum and Facebook is a place where I can control that.

I'll leave what I've written; I just won't be adding anything else here. When I had Essie I was grateful to find many weblogs out there detailing the experiences of others with having preemies. Being able to read about the same things we were going through was comforting, so I want to leave this here in case anyone else going through something similar stumbles across it in a Google search.

Thanks for reading along!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shiny Happy Baby

Essie had her most recent neonatologist appointment a couple of days ago. I went into this one stressed out because the last visit brought lots of head-shaking and stern words about Essie's lack of upper body strength.

At that time she'd been not getting enough tummy time, and not cooperating when having it. (Argh, the term 'tummy time' still gets me with its cutesy-ness, but whatever.) I wasn't expecting quite the level of negativity we got out of that one and it primed me to freak out about this visit. Leading up to it I was worrying about her development, wondering if the things she could do were enough to get a passing 'grade' or not.

And O, did this frustrate me. I don't tend to worry that much about what she's doing as a general rule. I quit checking the sites that tell you what babies should be accomplishing month by month because she was fairly normal-seeming and I didn't want to become a worrywart charting every single little thing. Also the preemie-to-adjusted age thing muddies the developmental waters anyhow and I knew it would be crazymaking.

So in the last couple of weeks I'd been getting more and more anxious about what they'd see in her development and even broke my rule and looked at a couple of sites; an action I immediately regretted. I started getting really angsty about things I thought she was behind on.

Then we went to the neonatologist appointment and everything was fine! They praised her up, said she had all the ingredients for crawling and just needed to put them together, said her prone posture was perfect and even put my mind to rest about her current refusal to eat solid foods. They did say to keep working on her torso strength, of course, and I suspect that will continue to be a weakness of hers but overall they were pleased with her and my stress levels about it went way, way down.

She's so close to crawling. And she wants to be moving, let me tell you. She can scoot on her butt a bit but it's slow going so far. She face-plants a lot in her experiments with getting on all fours, but doesn't cry over that kind of thing much because she's a tough little nut. I'm a bit taken aback by this speedy transition from immobile baby to almost-toddler, honestly. Nobody warned me how fast all this goes when it's your baby doing the changing. Sigh.

Her one-year birthday is approaching so quickly. I'm also amazed by that. Where is the time going?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ba Ba Ma Ma.

These days Essie is pretty major entertainment. I may or may not have talked before about what a weirdo she is, but she so is. In the most awesome way, of course. She has this demon voice that she loves using. Really deep and growly. It actually sounds painful but she doesn't seem to mind it. She just sits and curses us in her demon tongue.

Then in the next second she'll be singing in a high baby falsetto, as sweet as anything. She's a very, very talkative baby which surprises some people because she doesn't tend to be that way around anyone she's not that used to. Spend a few hours with her, though, and you'll likely witness her breaking into a monologue of some sort. Unfortunately she has an often-used combination of b's and m's that sound kind of like she's saying 'bad bad mama' but she's NOT saying that at all. At all.

She's not ambulatory yet, even if she is a giant creature who grows like a mutant weed. She can rotate herself in a full circle when we have her on the floor but that's as far as she travels. She can sit up without falling over much now and does kind of try to pull her legs up underneath her when she's on her stomach. She puts a lot of weight on her legs now if we hold her in a standing position but she gets lazy fast about that. I love that she can sit on the floor with a few pillows around her and keep herself amused with her toys for a long time.

Also she's FINALLY figured out how to bounce in her bouncy seat. I thought she was never going to figure it out, but she has and now she's kind of conflicted about the thing. She's been seeing it as more and more of a prison these days since she's outgrown the toy bar and I often put her in there when I need to leave the room for something. Now, though, she finds herself enjoying the bouncy-ness when she suddenly remembers that she doesn't really want to be strapped in there. Even with her Sesame Street circus within reach she's not that entertained, so here's hoping the bouncing brings on a new level of enjoyment.

We're excited about Christmas, it being Essie's first and all. She'll be seeing her cousin Orla again for the first time in a number of months and that should be awesome. She's at a stage where she loves kids, the closer to her size the better, and we're looking forward to her having a new appreciation for Orla this time around. I'm really happy that Ess has relatives that are close enough to her age on Andrew's side of the family, since I put off having kids a bit longer than my sisters did.

So, yeah. Things are good and I am always amused. Essie does weird, interesting things in little bursts, too, like the couple of days where she loudly sniffed her wrist, or the way the 'Bushel And A Peck' song had her mesmerized every time we sang it. Sadly that's not working as well now, since I liked how it helped me to get her to sleep. She's started laughing at her own farts, too, since I always laugh at hers. No one else's, though. Just hers.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh, hell. I'm THAT mom.

Well, I'm mostly physically recovered from my LEEP experience and haven't had much to write about when it comes to my physical health. Because I KNOW you're just ready to pounce on any post where I tell you gross details about my ailments, oh yeah.

I've discovered something new about myself as a mother these days. It appears that I'm a wimp. Or at least a wimp when it comes to transferring Essie from co-sleeping to sleeping on her own in a crib. I am truly bad at it. And the problem here is not Essie in any way, shape or form. No; it's me.

Ever since Ess came home from the hospital I've co-slept with her. It was easier for me to react to her quickly and it also afforded me a bit more sleep at night since when she needed fed I just had to grab her bottle off the dresser next to me instead of get up and go to another room to get her and feed her. It worked, even if it gave us less room in the bed, and we were all pretty happy.

Now I have to interrupt this story to tell another tiny one, but it's necessary. Essie and I are currently staying in Kingston at my mom's place and Andrew comes to stay on weekends. The apartment in Toronto was just not sufficient for Essie to have the space and freedom she needs as she gets more mobile, but we don't want to get locked into another rental agreement just yet, so this is the short-term solution. It's hard, yes, but Essie has already flourished so much in just the short time we've been here that we know it's the right thing.

OK, so Essie and I have still been co-sleeping here in Kingston but when Andrew is here the bed doesn't fit the three of us. Our bed in TO is a queen, this one is a double and I think even the queen would be too small at this point. Essie's a big girl now, around eighteen pounds and already longer than most babies at her actual age of nine months. She's way, waaaay out of the ballpark for her adjusted age of six months and is wearing clothes in nine to twelve-month sizes. She is not kidding around here.

The two of us fit comfortably in the bed, even if she does wiggle over to my side so she's pressed up against my back all night. It's cozy and warm and nice. But getting her to simmer down and go to sleep each night is becoming more and more difficult, so I figured that plus the weekend situation meant I had to transition her to sleeping on her own in the crib, and hopefully not needing me there while she falls asleep.

She's slept in her own bed a couple of times, but not truly all night long since it's pretty easy to just fall asleep with her after bringing her back to the big bed for a feeding during the weekend. This week I decided to get serious about it, finally, and yesterday I experimented by putting her down for a nap in the crib and just walking out of the room after tucking her in. To my great surprise she just drifted off to sleep like it was no big deal. She did that for her next nap, too! Wow.

When bedtime came, though, she was having none of it. I ended up snuggling her to sleep in the big bed and then putting her in the crib while she was asleep. And she slept there all night but I was a mess! I had nightmares all night long about leaving Essie alone in various places and finding out that she'd been screaming and crying the whole time because I'd abandoned her. We were sleeping in the same room but I felt like I was neglecting her or something.

I know I'm the one with the issues because this stuff isn't bothering Essie at all. My guess is that this is leftover angst from the time she spent in the NICU, when I had no choice but to leave her behind and go to sleep far away from her. Finally getting her home with me and being able to hold her in my arms as much as I wanted was a big deal and I felt like I should never, ever let her feel like I wasn't there for her.

So me = ridiculous wimp who feels like she's a mean mom for putting her baby in a crib at night. I'm sure I'll get over it eventually, especially when I can put her to bed for the night as easily as I can get her down for naps. That'll be pretty nice.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Big LEEP.

Well, yesterday I went in for my LEEP procedure. Andrew drove me there in the morning for ten o'clock. I was still pretty nervous about the whole thing but I felt OK going in, honestly. I knew it had to happen and would probably not take very long so I just decided to grit my teeth and bear it.

And it would have been completely bearable except for the fact that, because Princess Margaret's is a teaching hospital, someone who was still learning performed the anaesthesia and the procedure. She either did not use enough anaesthesia or put it in the wrong spot because when they started the procedure I felt it.

The injections did sting, but it wasn't all that bad. I was surprised, then, that I started feeling really faint and dizzy and everything started sounding weird in my ears. They waited for it to pass, then once I was feeling all right started the LEEP.

I'd been told to expect a feeling of heat, which I did immediately feel. Then I started to feel pain which surprised me since they'd said that the injection of anaesthesia would be the worst part and I'd feel all right after that. My brain kind of went like this:

"Yep, heat. Huh. Hmmm. ow. ow. ow. owowow. Ow. Ow. OW. OWOWOW."

I quickly said I was feeling pain and they stopped, then talked a bit. The doctor told the student not to go so deep on the next pass, then they started again. This time it was immediately painful and I nearly jumped. I'd been told not to jump since they were using a crazy cauterizing tool inside my body and things could go very badly. I again said I could feel what they were doing and at this point started crying a bit which embarrassed me pretty badly. But man, it hurt. So. Much.

They gave me another shot and while it helped I still felt the rest of the procedure, but it was more like an aching feeling than a searing pain. I'm not sure why it was so painful since I've been told there aren't nerve endings in the cervix, but survey (of my cervix) seems to say otherwise.

I'm glad it's over, but I've been feeling a bit silly about how traumatized I feel. I think my strong reaction was specifically because I was so relieved when the needles were over, then found out that it could get a whole lot worse. I'm just crossing my fingers that I don't have to have another one!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A different kind of leeping.

I haven't been very writely lately, I know. Things are OK, but I've been stressing out about a certain something and trying to write about anything else just wasn't working for me. I'd start stuff and never finish it.

Anyone who's been reading this blog from the beginning might remember that when I had my first OBGYN visit after finding out I was pregnant he did a pap smear (of course) and that there were abnormal cells present. He saw the results as serious enough to send me to Princess Margaret hospital to have a colposcopy done by a doctor who specializes in treating cancer during pregnancy.

So she did the colposcopy back in December and scheduled me to have another one in mid-March to see if the bad patches had spread. The big wrench in that plan happened when Essie was born on March 3rd almost three months early and I missed the appointment. As soon as I realized what had happened I tried to contact the clinic, but it proved very difficult, for some reason. Calling the hospital and trying to get transferred to the correct office was a bunch of fail because every time they'd transfer me I'd end up on a line that rang and rang but never went to an answering machine or was picked up by a human.

When I went to see my OBGYN for my post-partum checkup I told him about my difficulties and he gave me a different number to call. Awesome. So I started calling that number and it went to an answering machine for a few different doctors, at which I left pleading messages to call me back so I could make a new followup appointment. These messages went unanswered for quite a long time, then finally I called the general hospital number again and wouldn't let the woman transfer me until she could assure me that she was doing so to a number with real people on the other end.

Someone answered! And told me to call a different number, but this woman did go to the trouble of pulling up my patient number and giving it to me, instructing me to leave that information next time I left a message. So that's what I did, and I waited some more. I left maybe one or two more messages, but finally someone called me back and told me I could make an appointment! O, happy day.

I did so, and they scheduled me for September 8th. I ended up also getting my tattoo done on that day and was quite honestly more nervous about the tattoo since I knew that a colposcopy doesn't hurt in the slightest. So they did their thing and checked it all out and said that things weren't looking bad at all, but decided to do a biopsy for the sake of being thorough. That made me nervous but it ended up not hurting at all, either. The tattoo was much more painful!

I wasn't too terribly worried. The doctor had been quite casual about what she was seeing with her naked eye, saying it didn't look worrisome at all. So I was actually a bit shocked when I got the results and they told me I have severe cervical dysplasia, otherwise known as high grade squamous intraepithelial lesions or carcinoma in situ. All very scary-sounding. When they did the biopsy they'd scheduled me for a treatment in case things did end up worse than they appeared, and I'm thankful for that now. I'm going in for a loop electrical excision procedure (LEEP). That, my friends, is a loop of electrified wire used as a knife to cut away the offending pre-cancerous hot spots on my cervix. Also very scary-sounding, although they use local anaesthetic to make sure I don't feel anything during.

Dudes, I am so freaking nervous about this procedure. In the last year I have pretty much lost all fear of needles WRT them taking my blood, putting in an IV or giving me some kind of shot in my muscle. The thing I'm most nervous about for this procedure is the locality of the anaesthetic. OW. I'm not looking forward to the needles they're going to give me to freeze the area. Not at all. Not one little bit. I am what you call somewhat terrified. Electrified cauterizing wire used as a blade? I'm not going to feel that one! I'll feel the impalement of my inner bits and I'm sad.

I know. Suck it up, be grateful this was caught before it was full-blown cancer, be thankful there's treatment and I should be fine. I'm thankful, but still scared.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Oh, heck, almost a month since my last entry!

After having the end of spring and the entire summer off for parental leave Andrew went back to work toward the end of September. It's been an adjustment for me. Surprisingly more of one than I expected, really. When Essie first came home as a preemie not even having reached her due date I was definitely overwhelmed in a "HOLY CRAP THIS IS MY LIFE NOW," kind of way. I'd never had a baby of my own at home before, of course. Andrew still had a few weeks left of work to finish up so I was alone with her during the day right from the beginning. However, it was not too bad and I remember being relieved at how quickly I took to it.

With that in mind it was a bit surprising to me that being alone with her now would be a big adjustment. I figured it would be pretty seamless since we're so used to her and her ways and it wasn't like I was experiencing a brand new lifestyle altogether. I quickly discovered, though, how much I had come to rely on the little things that having Andrew at home afforded me. Just being able to make lunch or even go to the bathroom without having to consider what to do with Essie in the meantime is something I can't take for granted any longer.

Essie herself is so different now, too, of course. As a teeny newborn she was sleepy most of the time and I could easily set her down by herself for a few minutes since she wasn't going to move at all or even really know the difference. Now ... now she knows the difference. Boy, does she ever. She's awake for a LOT more of the day than she used to be and if she naps in the daytime they're little catnaps, at most half an hour to an hour if I'm lucky. Thankfully she's never cranky and always wakes up with a big grin, but keeping her amused is something of a challenge at times. If she wasn't a good night sleeper I might be at the end of my rope, but she's a champion night sleeper.

So it's all eat, sleep, diaper, play, eat, sleep, diaper, play around here. She's doing pretty well physically and developmentally as far as we can tell, although she's not too terribly excited about rolling over. She's rolled over from her front to her back a few times, and rolled from her back to her front for the first time tonight (yay!), but she's not super-energetic in that way. She's mostly happy to loll around on her back playing with her feet or sitting up in our laps and looking around. The bouncy seat and play mat still amuse her, too, but she likes us best for amusement.

She's growing in her hair, slowly but surely, and growing out of her clothes faster than we can buy them. (Well, that last isn't true since we've barely had to buy her any clothes ourselves due to the generosity of family.) Those seemingly long legs of hers puzzle me because they look short enough, but they hang out of open pants and get all bent up in outfits with feet. Oh, well. I have gotten to know which brands to buy by now.

In other news: I'm really feeling the need to start some kind of new creative project. Nothing serious and deadline-oriented since life has gotten so full, but definitely artistic and productive. My friend Colin has started a new photo-blog and it's a daily reminder to me that I want to do something that I love, too. We'll see if I can fit it in around maintaining Essie and some semblance of a life!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Baby talking.

It's difficult to imagine on any given day that I'll love Essie even more twenty-four hours later, but somehow it always happens. My heart; it grew twelve sizes.

She's just so hilarious and loving and charming and sweet. You know what she is, though? A daddy's girl. Through and through. Nothing makes her smile bigger than making eye contact with Andrew. If we're all sitting on the bed I'll sit her on my thigh and she'll start to put on a show for Andrew. She grins and grins and grins, making her 'talking' noises, then flings herself forward in his direction, making that fake cough noise that babies make to get attention. If she's lying down all he has to do is put his face above hers and she starts cooing and gooing and whispering at him. It's enough to kill you with cuteness.

Don't worry, she gives me lots of love, too, but she never, ever fails to give Andrew the smiles. Lucky bastard.

It struck me the other day how once upon a time I told myself I'd never use 'baby talk' with my kid(s), that I'd always use full, adult sentences and never use cutesy euphimisms or nicknames for anything. Ha ha, I was dumb. I DO use some cutesy words. Not sickeningly much, but things like 'tummy' instead of 'stomach', and 'toesies' intead of 'toes'. I wondered why, what's the instinct that makes these words pop out?

My view is that it has everything to do with the total, unsullied innocence of babies. Essie is nothing but genuine right now, there's no guile whatsoever to anything she does. And when interacting with a tiny being who is so untouched by the world it's difficult not to reinforce that, make everything as light and fun and lovely as possible. I know it won't last, that she'll learn about the world in very short order so right now, when her smiles are exactly what she's feeling inside and her cries or frowns are because she's genuinely uncomfortable or hungry or wet, well, I want to cherish it like nothing else.

Right now her toes can be toesies without her rolling her eyes or saying 'gawd, mom'. And when a stomach is so soft and round and kissable it just feels more proper to call it a tummy than a clinical, boring STOMACH. There are other things (like her bottle [bubs] and soother [soosy, pronounced like the 'oo' in book]) that have nicknames just because I'm insane about giving things nicknames, but that's not the same. It makes me wonder how I ever thought I could speak to Essie like an adult when dude, she is a baby.

"Shaughnessy, I understand you're telling me you're hungry. Allow me to feed you some formula."

"That's a cat, otherwise known as a feline. He is a Siamese, one of many breeds."

"Your diaper is emitting a rather foul aroma! It's high time we exchanged it for a clean one."

All right, so maybe I wouldn't be all stilted and stuff, but the baby talk just happens and I can't bring myself to feel silly. Essie responds to my voice and tone and words with so much happiness and joy. That's enough to make it OK.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Six months old.

Today was Essie's six-month birthday, or half-birthday as I like to call it. We didn't do anything to celebrate, of course, since she could care less and we had other things to do. Well, I did, anyhow, having an appointment to keep this afternoon. Andrew goes back to work at the end of the month so it's nice to take advantage of being able to go out by myself!

Anyhow: Essie is six months old and we're completely amazed. Yesterday was also her four-month homecoming anniversary, so we had two notable days in a row to feel great about. It's incredibly strange to remember what it was like to hold her as a brand-new preemie. It's even a bit weird to think what it was like to bring her home! I have pictures to look at of that time, but I have to admit that I find it very difficult to go back and look at the Facebook albums I made when she was in the hospital. This is odd to me, since at the time those pictures were precious and I couldn't stop myself from poring over them whenever I was at home where she wasn't. I loved to gaze at them, inspect her every tiny feature, obsess about how much weight she'd put on and whether it was noticeable yet.

Now, though, I get extremely emotional and upset when I look at them. Back then I was trying to be so strong and for the most part succeeding. I didn't have a lot of choice, really, and so I just did it. It was hard and it felt hard, but Essie herself was more important to me. Now that she's home, she's healthy, she's happy and chubby and thriving ... well, maybe now I'm feeling the backlash of how truly difficult the whole experience was. I've got some distance from it and gained some perspective that tells me just how traumatizing it is to nearly lose your baby, nearly die yourself and then have to deal with your baby being very sick and requiring intervention just to survive each day for two months. It ... kind of sucks.

It makes me overwhelmingly grateful for the baby she is now. She's so alive and every day Andrew and I look at her and marvel at her. She reminds us to stop what we're doing and just enjoy life since that's what she does all day long. Her smile makes us smile back every single time. It's impossible not to smile back at her, so smiles have increased exponentially around here. Watching her discover something new or figure out a new trick is like watching a magic show. Every day she's a little brighter, a little stronger, a little bit more aware and alert.

I didn't expect a baby that looks like me, but the older she gets the more people say she does. I don't mind, certainly, and I see so much of my family in her. Her hair is still indeterminate except for the two stubbornly white-blonde spots on the right side near the front. Her eyebrows seem reddish-blonde, but might be darkening up a bit. Her eyes are definitely not blue, but haven't settled on a positive true brown like mine and might end up being hazel; that particular brown-green that a few of my family members share. Her legs don't look especially long to me, but it's hard to find sleepers with long enough legs for her in her age range and so she might end up tall, something that would surprise me but not shock me totally since there are some taller women in my extended family, and there certainly are on Andrew's side of the family.

It's just exciting to watch her grow. She's only three months adjusted and keeping up well with the milestones for that age, but the changes just pop up every few days and I haven't gotten used to one when suddenly she's on to the next thing, soaking up experience as quick as she can. She saw her feet a while ago and watched them suspiciously, not sure how to get them within tasting reach, but grabbed them for the first time the other day at my mom's place while she was playing with an overhead toy, kicking at Big Bird and Cookie Monster. She still doesn't really understand them and hasn't grabbed them since, but to see her grip her pudgy toes with her fingers was amazing to me.

She's a baby, normal and lovely as can be, and I'm so very, very lucky to have her in my life.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This is how she rolls.

Essie rolled over for the first time today. I decided to give her some tummy time since she was full of freaky energy and tummy time usually works some of that out by making her furious. Seriously; I have a hard time dealing with putting her on her stomach sometimes since doing something purposely that will make your baby cry kind of sucks. (Also I am not a fan of the twee name 'tummy time' but that's what the professionals call it and it kind of just rolls off the tongue.)

ANYhow; tummy time. I put her on her stomach and turned away for a few seconds to grab a toy to put in front of her to give her something to look at. I turned around and there she was on her back, her expression totally saying, "What just happened?"

I was amazed, so I put her on her stomach once more. She immediately rolled over to her back and looked pleased with herself. I flipped her, she did it again. We waited for Andrew to come back in to the room from having his shower and I showed him. She took a bit longer the last time since she'd tired herself out a bit by this point (yay) but she did it and we had to accept that we have a baby on her way to mobility. Yikes.

She's pretty much exactly on track with this milestone for her adjusted age, so that's nice. She has also, as Andrew put it, discovered 'loud'. She's started screaming conversationally, not just to indicate she's upset. Actually; she doesn't scream to indicate that she's upset, so this is very new for all of us and extremely so for our neighbours at 11:30 last night! Whatevs, she shut up pretty quickly once I gave her a bottle and snuggled her to sleep but I have noticed that her most active, frenetic behaviours usually start when she's getting tired. She doesn't really want to get tired, so she starts kicking her legs like crazy and talking and shooting her arms around. Then she gets frustrated because damn, she's tired, and her eyes get all red and she's kind of irritable while her eyelids are drooping shut. It's cute, but here's hoping it doesn't get worse!

Also she is growing out of her clothes at a rapid rate except for one onesie that I mentioned to Andrew today. It's a magic onesie that seems to be growing with her and getting looser on her rather than smaller. She's wearing it right now! Honestly I suspect that it's just cheap material that is stretching out a bit, but I like the thought of a magic onesie. She'll always have something to wear!