Monday, March 29, 2010

I have a problem...

Its silly, almost ridiculous. I like to purchase Kate baby swimsuits. Now remember we live in Washington State. We don't have a pool. In general the nice weather is fairly limited around here. All the same, Katie now has three swimsuits. I have been very reasonable with all the baby stuff, never going over board. Until I started buying swimsuits. They are just so darn adorable, and on her they are even cuter.

I think that I secretly (not quite a secret when everybody already knows it) am really looking forward to summer. Last summer in the NICU was so traumatic that I just want to move on to fun, sun and my cutie in her little swimsuit.

And yes, in the picture those are her swim bottoms on her head. She also has sunglasses to match that set!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


We currently have two dogs. Tahoe is a black lab cross, and Petey is part wolverine cross (just joking, terrier mix). Prior to Katie, these two (and our older dog that past away last year) were our fur-babies. Eddie and I have had a dog since we were engaged, and thus a four-legged child nearly our entire 13 year relationship. I can imagine that there is a bit of ruffled fur around here having been displaced by the munchkin.

That being said, this is a new weird dog behavior for me. Tahoe has developed a fear of our flooring. We have wood laminate throughout the entire house. We are messy people with pets, carpet could not handle us. Living in the Pacific Northwest you have muddy shoes at least 9 months of the year anyway, so we needed a durable flooring we could install ourselves. We've had this flooring for at least two plus years.

Her phobia causes her to slunk down low and walk on the flooring as if she is being electrocuted by it. This strange shuffle or spastic walk causes her to slip and fall. The more she slips and falls the more fearful she becomes. The more fearful she becomes the more spastic she gets on the flooring. And on the cycle goes.

Tahoe is a very healthy dog. No leg problems to cause her to fall. She runs up to 20 miles a week with me. She is an extremely sensitive dog. If you tug on the leash she has been known to crumble to the ground. And heaven forbid you raise your voice at her, she may not come to you for a week.

She became so fearful the other night she would just lay on our area rug and whine while looking longingly at her dog bed a few feet away. She was paralyzed by this fear of flooring she had walked on for years. Absolutely nothing had changed in the situation except for her anxiety.

This got me thinking about fears. I wonder how many times I have done this to myself. Become paralyzed because of nothing more than my own thoughts. My thoughts lead me to spastic action which has lead me to more negative thoughts and so on. When you are deep in this cycle it can be really hard to get out of it or even see that you are in it. I know I am not alone with horrible habit of staying up late at night and envision every possible horrible outcome to my worries.

You want to blame the situation. The flooring is slippery and difficult to walk on!!! Unfortunately the situation has never changed, it was always the same flooring and you've had no problem with previously. You want to blame yourself. My leg is not WORKING, I most have something seriously wrong with myself!!! Again, your leg is just fine and you can walk normal every where else without a problem.

There is a physical and mental inertia that comes with fear. Your body has a reaction to it as well. Tahoe was shaking, she was whining and she started to pant when I started working with her to walk on the floor. She is a very fit dog, and she was panting like I had just taken her on a long run. And in classic dog and person style she was farting.

Tahoe and I worked it out. Using a leash, dog treats and moving slow we were able to at least settle the fear down a bit. She can walk on the floor normal again about 80% of the time. But every once in awhile she falls down, and we have slow it down again. That fear rises up in her and takes over. Just like it rises up in me every once in awhile taking hold for awhile.

Monday, March 22, 2010

6 months, teeth, and lots of running!

Busy, busy, busy around here! First and foremost, Katie has sprouted her two first teeth. After weeks of drooling, fist shoving, and several tears, we were so happy to see her little pearly whites. And to our surprise it wasn't just one but instead it was two. If you look closely in the picture you can see the little caps there on the bottom jaw. I am also proud because it looks like she is getting ready to do her first surgery on the two stuffed animals that are hanging out with her. Its never too early start building those surgical skills.

She also hit the big 6 months adjusted mark, and so we started trying solid foods. Thus far, not too exciting. And they have not really taken off. We will keep offering them, and hopefully one of these days food other than breast milk will be exciting.

As for me, I've slowly but surely trying to get myself ready for the Whidbey Island Half Marathon on April 11th. I am not sure what I was thinking when I thought I could pull this off. I just didn't have any clue of how motherhood would change my running. I just didn't really appreciate the massive time commitment that would come along with this little bundle of joy. Your free time is just sucked up between, so many commitments. And on top of that is an absolute lack of sleep. In short, it equals a very poor runner. My running does continues to be a fun part of my life and serves as a reminder of the me prior to Kate, marriage, or even vet school. Its really peaceful to have something that you've done in almost every phase of your life. So even though I won't be making a PR, I know it will something fun to look back on during this crazy, sleep deprived time!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cats... more weapons than any other animal.

Cats. Felines. Kitties. No matter what you call them, they can be a challenge to work with day in and day out. I recently have had a run of not so pleasant feline patients. When I get home lately I've been thankful that I still have all my own body parts.

First one has to realize that what we love about a cat also makes them a challenging patient. Most cats are relatively independent. They like to do things on their own terms. Stand in front of the computer screen when someone is working, why not? Sunbath on your book or stack of important papers, also a great idea. They love the people in their lives but typically they are not there to serve them. Not the mighty feline. They are here to be served. If you have any doubts, just ask your cat to sit. Get comfortable because you may be waiting awhile.

Now don't get me wrong, I adore cats. I think they are wonderful animals. They can be a bit more complex, elusive and all around different from their dog counterparts. But, to work with this type of privileged animal can at times be a bit draining.

Imagine trying to draw some blood from an animal that has left its comfortable home (only once in the last year), has just had a traumatic ride in a small cob-web filled carrier, and is now in a place that smells, sounds and most likely feels like an animal torture center. Furthermore, said animal doesn't feel good possibly uncomfortable, dehydrated or even nauseous.

So yes, I appreciate these complex creatures and I empathize with the experience of coming to the veterinarians. But I beg of you sweet kitty cats, be nice. Keep your 20 claws to yourself. And those sharp little teeth, I really don't want to examine them as they sink into my wrist. Lets be friends.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A new day!

The great thing about life is there is always another day! After several nice crying episodes, and lots of thin mint Girl Scout cookies another day has come to pass and I feel better. My disappointment over the continued lock-down has not completely gone away, but at least now I feel a bit more content with it.

The biggest positive out of it is Kate is so young she doesn't even know we are doing this. She has no clue, and is just having fun every day. The above picture is a prime example. This is her 'french look' while playing in the jumperoo. I was bored and kept putting different hats on her the other day. With each new hat she would screams in crazy delight as if I've done something really creative.

So, sometimes the best thing any of us can do is: cry, eat a cookie, put on a cute hat, giggle and move on. As taught by Kate to her silly momma.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Home Quarantine

I am angry and frustrated today. I think that it is okay to be angry and frustrated every once and awhile. I've never been one to sit around and feel sorry for myself. You won't find me thinking that I can't accomplish something if I don't put my mind to it but, you know what sometimes life is just hard.

So what brought this on you might ask? Well, simple enough it was Kate's 9 month well baby check. I never really like these appointments to be perfectly honest. The pediatricians office is a slow, and there are lots of screaming kiddos with equally stressed parents. And for those of you that don't know this is one of the only places we take Kate in public.

Anyhow, after 15 minutes in the germ filled waiting room we head back. Strip down the baby for the weight, height, and head measurements. I then raise Kate off the scale too fast and bonked her head on the adjacent cabinet which sets off screaming and tears. Feeling like a buffalo of a first time mom, I walk sheepishly back with my screaming baby. Now there is more waiting with a naked baby in the exam room. I am trying to entertain her without actually touching anything in the room. Today they put us in a room that the most see older kids in because it was full of brochures on things that I hope to not discuss with Kate for another 20 years (i.e. Tobacco use, Teen Suicide, Using condoms, Cervical Exams). We wait, I check my watch, Kate grabs her toes and we wait some more.

The doctor who we do enjoy, was busy arranging for another patient to be admitted to a hospital was in and out of our appointment a few times. The actual exam went well, and Kate is doing very good. Her growth continues to be strong and her development is typical for a baby so premature. We then discuss sleeping habits, eating solids, and the home quarantine.

Home quarantine is the term I use to describe how we live with Kate. Since we came home for the NICU in September of 2009, under the advise of her doctor(s) and that would be at least four of them: she only leaves the house for doctors visits and walks. We have limited company coming over and no contact with young children. And we have adhered to this the entire time. In general there are a lot of positive things to say about home quarantine. The biggest being that Kate has never been sick. She has not gotten RSV, and has not been readmitted to the hospital. We have spent lots of quality time with her and have saved money by never leaving the house.

I was under the impression that our home quarantine would be over in April. Today I was informed that we need to wait until May. There are just too many illnesses in our area at this time that we need to continue to keep her isolated until May. So, one more month. What is the big deal you might ask? Or you might say it will be worth it in the end? And maybe even combine it with at least you have a healthy baby.

All statements very true. And my anger does not mean that I don't know this and appreciate every single one of those statements. But, excuse me while I scream a little about how frustrated I am. I have waited fairly patiently to take my baby out in public for 9 months and now I have wait until she is 11 months old. I only want to feel like a normal family with a normal baby for a brief moment, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

When you have a preemie, especially when you have one some 300 miles from home all the normal parts of being a new parent don't happen. Ed and I had far from a normal birth experience. There was no coming home from the hospital with a baby some 3 days later. We spent an entire summer living apart and with a baby in an intensive care unit.

There were no 'normal' baby showers. Even when we got home Kate home she could never go to a shower and be passed around. There have been no professional pictures, no going to see Santa, no shopping for clothes or toys. We spent holidays with her in the car while we each went in to see family. There is no taking her to visit friends, or baby groups. We don't even have strangers tell us how cute she is, because she doesn't go out in public. We don't run errands together, or try to get a quick bite in a restaurant. We keep her inside safe and growing.

In short I'd say give me a break if I want to sit here and be upset today. Because, you know what it isn't easy. This isn't exactly how I pictured it all. I am thrilled to have a happy healthy baby, especially when she had to beat so many odds to be born at 25 weeks. And I know that time will continue to go by, and soon everyone will be tired of seeing so much of her cute little face. But for now I am frustrated, angry and upset that we continue to be sitting alone at home.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A long sunny day.

Well, better to have a long sunny day than a long rainy day. But, as probably all moms can tell you some days are just long and painful. And that was today. We woke up to a glorious early spring morning. Hopes were high.

I quickly thought of all the fun things we could do to stretch our home isolation legs. Maybe we could go for a long walk (or a long run for me). Or go to the bay and see the water and look for rocks. Then there is all the gardening that could happen while Kate napped. Not to mention it would be great to accomplish some of the thousand errands I have to do.

So, up and ready the family got. I of course am still pumping breast milk every 3 to 4 hours, so that is taking place pretty much all the time. Ed needed to go to the DMV for a licenses renewal. Kate was cheery and playing on the floor. We should have known that a day that involved the DMV is somewhat doomed from the start.

Off Ed went. Into the bath Kate went. Followed by bottle, then trying to lay her down for her first nap. The whole time Ed is still gone, and still gone... and gone some more. Katie is crying and not napping. The day is starting to slip away from me and it isn't even noon.

Ed finally comes home, somewhat disturbed by the DMV process. Katie has managed to sleep for 30 minutes and is crying more. Now for those of you without children, you learn early on in parenthood the power of a nap. The nap will make or break your whole day. And babies need a lot of naps, and not all naps are equal. For Kate a good nap is typically between an hour and half and two hours, and is best if she wakes herself up happy. We need two of these at a minimum in a day.

Meanwhile the sun is still shining. Spring has sprung and I need out! Kate looks as likely to nap as she does to fly to the moon, so the family loads up the car to go for a drive. This section of the day was fairly good. The daffodils are in bloom, a hamburger was picked up and besides a few cranky cries from the backseat we traveled on. And when we got home, she was asleep in the carseat.

Now comes another critical skill in parenthood. The transfer of a sleeping child from one place to their beds. This can also make or break any plans you have for a few moments of personal solitude. Unfortunately the sleep gods were not with us on this day, and crying began again. This cycle continued on, and on and on. She maybe got about 30 minutes more of napping in the afternoon. At one point in the late afternoon, I think we were all a bit loopy because we were actually laughing.

Luckily as I type it seems we have finally broken the hour mark for sleeping. Of course the sun has set, the garden remains untouched and the forecast is for rain tomorrow. I can almost predict that if the rain comes the naps will also be regular and solid. Oh, just one of the joys of parenthood.