Monday, June 28, 2010

Calling all rocket scientists...

Anyone smart enough to tell me what this picture is? How am I supposed to teach my kids to label the objects on building blocks if I'm too dense to figure it out???

Friday, June 25, 2010

Are you kidding me?

Fox ran a news article today that was passed on to me from a couple of other micropreemie moms...

This news article reports that a government-commissioned study in the UK has found that the human fetus cannot feel pain prior to 24 weeks gestation. This finding supports England's current laws allowing women to legally abort a pregnancy at 24 weeks gestation.

The article goes on to say that "The doctors say there is increasing evidence that even after 24 weeks, the fetus is in a state of 'continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation.'"

You can click here to read the article.

I can't say for certain what either of my micros felt during those first hours and days. I don't remember looking at Daxton and ever getting the feeling that he was happy, or content, or unconscious, or sedate (other than the sedation given by the doctors.)

But here's what I do know. At 23 weeks and 5 days, when the nurses pricked Dax, he flinched. When it was too loud, he became agitated. When we messed with him, he reacted physiologically.

And at 22 weeks 0 days, when our Aubrie was in her last minutes of life, and Shep sat at her bedside and watched her suffer, they laid a phone in her isolette and let me talk to her. The doctor reported that when she heard my voice Aubrie's heart rate and oxygen saturations improved. If a 22-week "fetus" can feel comfort, she can also feel pain.

Whatever heartless doctors found the results from above have obviously never sat vigil at the bedside of a "fetus" that was their own baby, or even anyone else's. Anyone who's spent an hour with a baby under 24 weeks knows it's uncomfortable and agitated and overstimulated.

So, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you can go take a long walk off a long pier, because, as my friend Betty said, you're completely full of meconium.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers are from Mars

Well, it's Father's Day, and I have been trying for weeks to decide what it is I want to write about, but there's just been so much in my head lately and I've had a hard time nailing down exactly what I want to say. The thing is, I love my own dad (formerly known as "Diddy," although that has now been replaced by "Day-Day" or "Papa Scrooge," depending on which grandchild you ask) and I'm so proud of Shep for being the man that he is, and doing the things that he does... But there's just something else nagging at the back of my brain that I cannot shake...

And it's their faults. It's where they struggle. It's what irritates me...

No, this isn't man-bashing, I swear. (I do that every other day of the year.) This is about recognition and acceptance.

I grew up idolizing my father. Yes, he was a huge embarrassment to me through many of my teenage years, but he was always, ALWAYS, there, and he was always gentle, kind, and patient. When I think of him, I think of how he always treats everyone the same and never meets a stranger... I think of his hearty laugh; and his tacky one-liners and groan-inducing jokes. The man has a funny story about EVERYTHING and has a gift of finding humor in any situation.

He's always called me Jane (since apparently when my mother asked him what he wanted to name me because "his input was very important," he said "Jane" and she said "no") and he tells me several times a year that Mom used to always ask him when he was ready for children, and his reply was, and still is, "I'm not ready for children."

No matter what, I've always been Daddy's little girl, and he's always loved me unconditionally.

Even when I told his company from out of town that our bulldog "licks his balls a lot."
It was true, I saw it. And Boozer was not the least embarrassed about his self-grooming, so I didn't see why anyone else should be.

Even when I announced to a restaurant that "MY DADDY WEARS BIG UNDERWEAR!"
Also true, I helped Mom fold them, and I thought that made excellent dinner conversation.

Even when I complained to my Granddaddy that "My daddy beats me."
False, I just wanted cookies. Granddaddy complied.

Up until I was about 18 or so, even though I found my dad completely annoying and a little scary sometimes, I knew, just knew, he was perfect. I wanted to be him when I grew up, and maybe even marry a man just like him.

But then I became an adult, too. And then it hit me... My daddy wasn't perfect after all.


He had faults, and weaknesses, and flaws... Just like everyone else. I wasn't prepared for that. I thought fathers were supposed to be the infallible, unflappable heads of the family; the ones who always made the right decisions, kept everyone safe, did the right thing, and knew all the answers.

And all of a sudden maybe I didn't want to marry someone just like him. I wanted to marry a "perfect" man.

(Please, hold the laughter.)

When I did get married, I was under no delusions that Shep was perfect. I did, however, see him as a man with many, many wonderful qualities, and just a few areas I thought I could improve upon. You know, he had "perfect" potential.

Turns out I'm not so good at teaching old dogs new tricks.

He's impatient. He's egocentric. He has a bad temper. He's a spender. He's completely unable to find anything, ever, even if I tell him exactly where it is. And I could be smack-dab in the middle of a stomach flu, bent over the toilet puking my guts out, and he could still be like, "Hey baby, you look so sexy like that. Do you mind if I..." (Sorry, Dad, if you're reading this...)

And then, as a father himself, he's had a hard time dealing with the crying and the pooping and the whining and the puking... And the machines and the alarms and the appointments and the medicines...

He's said more than once, "Why don't they just TALK?! I'll deal with them when they can TALK!!"

And, I'll admit, there have been times that I've sat and pouted, drowning myself in just how imperfect he is.

But here's the thing.

He, like my own dad, is always, ALWAYS, there. He would lay down his life and everything he is and has to protect his family. He always tries, and always puts his family first. He loves his family with every ounce of everything he's got, and he's so proud of the little miniature versions of himself that have turned his world completely upside down.

And he tolerates ME.

Besides, if I'm honest with myself, I can admit that maybe I'm not that perfect, either.

Maybe I'm a product of two imperfect (sorry, Mom) adults, who loved each other enough to pull together through the crap life threw at them and raise their children the best they knew how. Maybe I am now my own parents, for better or for worse, and maybe Shep is also the product of two imperfect adults who also loved each other enough to pull together through the crap life threw at them and raise their children the best they knew how, too.

And maybe, if you look closely enough, there's beauty in the imperfections.

Maybe it's God's intent for each generation to become the upgraded version of their own parents... (Fail as we might.) To be all the good things our parents are, and, by a beautiful example of reincarnation, try to improve upon the flaws by just a little. Maybe our own children become our only real chance at redemption here on Earth.

And maybe, when we see our children's flaws, we're just looking at our own mistakes not yet improved.

And maybe, when I see the flaws of the men in my life, they aren't just flaws. Maybe, just maybe, they're just what I need to make myself into a better person.

I'm very thankful to have honorable, honest, good men in my life. Without these imperfect, frustrating men, my life would be empty and... different.

But my life is full, and good.

And I will take my own flaws and try every day to improve them, and I will try not to beat my children when they act just like me.

I AM my father, and Shep IS his father. My children are me, and are them. We are all every mistake and every achievement, every blessing and every curse of our parents and their parents before them.

And, once you get past the obvious, that can be a really good thing.

I think once we let go of our preconceived notions of perfection, maybe then we can recognize and appreciate the beauty hidden behind those imperfections.

Because, you know, as fathers go, I couldn't imagine any more perfect than the two I love the most... warts and all.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The best $1.07 I've ever spent...

So everyone knows the living room as known as 'Six Flags Over the Sheppards,' but I have to admit that, with all the carnival rides, this dollar store beach ball hanging on a string from the ceiling is quite possibly the best $1.07 I've ever spent. Hanging at just above Dax's head level, he now stands, walks and otherwise stalks this ball as if hitting it across the room will bring about world peace. Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm a bad blogger

I've been busy.

Some of it has been super important!

Some of it has been pretty useless.

Some of it has been wonderful and amazing!!!

Some of it has been bags of crap covered in more crap. With a side of crap. And little crap sprinkles.

So goes life!

Just wanted to hit a few highlights from the last bit...

The boys are great! Dax is pretty consistent with signing "more," "eat," "I want," and a long, complicated series of nonsense signs that Nana loosely translates as "Steal 2nd base."

His current favorite spoken words are "bok bok," "quack," "duck," and "bite."

Biting is also one of his favorite activities.

(Getting bitten is one of Ty's least favorite activities.)

Dax will now do all of "Patty Cake" including "rolling 'em over" and then "shooting them in the pan," although apparently the pan is his face. We haven't figured that part out yet, but oh well.

He also likes to do "Itsy Bitsy Spider," which is, to the untrained eye (and also the trained eye), exactly like "Patty Cake," "If You're Happy and You know It," the regular clapping of his hands, and "more."

He's eating a huge variety of foods now, although we still have to cut them into small pieces for him since he refuses to chew. Still putting all the think liquids through his tube.

We had a super-scary incident at the end of April when I really thought we'd land back in the hospital, but thankfully we were able to avoid it. His lungs were so wet, he was retracting, he had his first fever since he was six months old, and his breathing sounded like he'd been running uphill. I am so completely thankful for lots of praying friends and family, a wonderful home health nurse, and the best pediatrician and pediatric nurse I could ever hope for. We're so blessed to be surrounded by so many caring people!

Oh, and Dax is in a toddler bed now, and he does amazingly well with it! He was so proud of himself his 1st night... I have never, ever seen him that excited. It was one of the most heart-warming, most precious nights of my life, even if the thought of him being a big boy now nearly broke my heart into a thousand pieces.

Moving on to the little chubbo-tubbo now :)

Ty is 10 months old now, and he pretty much exclusively wears 18-month clothes. He's big and tall and handsome and smart and... okay... pretty whiny, but it's a cute whiny.

(Most of the time.)

(Or maybe just some of the time.)

(Ok, so maybe it's not that cute.)

Ty spends most of his day trying to be right next to his big brother, doing everything his big brother does.

Ty hates wearing clothes. Ever. Huge fit every time... The only way he'll get dressed and not be upset is if we... wait for it... allow him to have a pretend breathing treatment afterward.

As I said, he wants to be juuuust like brother.

Ty plays "Patty Cake" with Dax and loves, loves, loves to clap his hands all the time :) That, I suppose, he gets from his mother :)

Ty also waves "bye bye" with a finesse that most babies could only dream of!

Ty is cruising everywhere and just barely lets go for a short, short time. He'll walk holding our fingers and can climb the stairs with someone right behind him.

Oh, and then there were the two times he climbed the stairs when we weren't paying attention. (Don't do it; I've already nominated myself for Mother of the Year for that one!)

Ty has 3 and a half teeth now!!! I say half, since there's one on the bottom that cannot make its mind up. Hopefully it will emerge soon, to stay, otherwise we might be throwing one loud baby out with the bathwater!

Ty's favorite words are "DaDa," "TyTy," "Dax," "MaMa," "dog," and "WAAAAAHHHHH!"

His favorite activities are eating, bouncing, eating, hugging, eating, and whining.

I guess he's just going to be my sensitive one... and he has the sweetest hugs and kisses ever, which totally makes up for the Irritable Boy Syndrome.

He, in addition to the biggest heart and biggest smile I've ever seen, continues to have the biggest butt ever found on a white boy. Beyonce, you better watch out. My baby got back!

Ty and his big brother share a room now, and each morning they talk about their dreams, favorite TV characters, and plans for the day, in some strange language I can best describe as Swahili with a touch of kitten. It's so very sweet, and so very special.

And I reckon that's the high points!

We have a lot of things going on now, and a lot of things coming up. Dax is getting his tubes replaced in addition to an ABR hearing test on Friday, and those procedures will be the first time he has had to be sedated in over a year. Please say a prayer for him to tolerate the anesthesia well and have an uneventful surgery!

Please also continue to pray for Baby Teegan to stay put, and for Rosemary to get her trach out next month. Please also add Baby Salem and his parents, as Salem may have an undiagnosed genetic disorder, Baby Chase and his hope-to-be-adopted family, and Braden and his family, as they fight to make sure Braden can get all the therapy and treatment he needs while trying to fix a really crappy situation, to your prayer lists, too. There's a lot of need and a lot of sadness in this world, but there's also so much good, and so much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Coupla more requests...

Couple of prayer requests, folks...

1. My friend Daphne's house was struck by lightening yesterday and her family has lost all their physical things. She's amazing, and they'll be fine, but just please pray for their strength and comfort. Please pray especially for their sons, Blake and Bryce, that they are comforted with all these things they might not yet fully understand.

2. Hopefully (!!!) Baby Rosemary will finally get her trach out tomorrow! It's been one thing after the next after the next after the next standing in their way, but pray that tomorrow it finally happens and Rosi can finally work on the next phase of her life!

3. Please pray for my friend Dana. We met in the NICU and she is pregnant again with a baby girl names Teegan. Teegan keeps trying to make a grand entrance, but it would be in everyone's best interest if she would stay put in her mom's uterus for, say, about 5 more months. Dana has had a cerclage and is on meds and bedrest to halt the labor... Please pray Dana's body cooperates and Teegan stays put.

Thanks guys!