Crossed


Roo’s eyes have started to cross again – they’ve been crossing since last Thursday. We go to the pediatric ophthalmologist tomorrow afternoon to see if we can find a reason. I’m worried and scared. I hope this is temporary and not the beginning of a path down to another surgery.

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Taking Charge of My Depression


One of the reasons why I haven’t posted much recently is because my depression is worse. I’m also incredibly busy with my increased work schedule but I’m pleased with that part of my life and being busy with work allows me to occupy my mind in other ways.

I see a huge difference in my state of mind around my period. I seriously consider divorcing my husband when I’m PMSing each and every month. It is getting worse as each month goes by – I stood in the shower yesterday for 30 minutes crying. I am much moodier than I was even a year ago and I feel so hopeless about my marriage.

At my last therapy session, I told my therapist that it was time to do something chemically to help support the therapy that she’s working on with me. She was very supportive. I called my GYN today and she is prescribing me a low dose of Zo.loft. I hope I can start it today or tomorrow. It will take a few weeks go start working but I look forward to being on a better path than I’m on right now. This is one of the antidepressants that they said is safe for breastfeeding. I hope that is true.

I hope it can give me clarity to both feel better and have a clearer state of mind. With a clearer state of mind, I think I’ll be able to better sort through whether my depression is a marriage-related issue or just a hormonal imbalance.

This is the first time I’ve gone down this path and I’m scared. But, I’m more scared that without it I will make a hasty decision to divorce my husband and regret it. If I do make the decision to leave him, I want to do it with a clear mind.

Have any of you been so depressed that you needed some pharmaceutical assistance?

A Love Letter to Roo: 18 Months Old


My darling daughter, Roo!

This love letter is a little late. You stayed up last night until 9 p.m. to watch the East Coast flip to 2014 with us – you’ve now seen 2012, 2012 and 2014! I know that 2014 is going to be an amazing year for you.

On December 21, you turned 18 months old – one and a half years old. We spent it with family outside of Chicago. This milestone was marked by you demonstrating your independence and desire to move on your own – going up and down the three stair cases in your aunt and uncle’s home. If you hadn’t mastered crawling up and down stairs before, you certainly did over Christmas vacation!

In the past month, you’ve really become a show off! You dance when you hear a song and grin from ear to ear when you’re proud of yourself. You still LOVE music – you can sign the Itsy Bitsy Spider from start to finish and demand it be sung aloud repeatedly. It’s the cutest thing. You’ve fallen in love with cars and have five of them. You push them around and up and down walls saying vroooooom. Again, so cute!

You’ve found your voice. It’s tiny but mighty. You squeal with delight at the top of your lungs. You can giggle up a storm and go out of your way to find a reason to laugh. You pull one of your favorite books off the shelf, Tickle Time by Sandra Boynton, and throw it at me to read to you. Then you throw yourself on the floor in anticipation of being tickled! Again, so adorable!

You do this funny thing when we ask you to show us your teeth. You open your mouth wide and tuck your lips around your teeth so we can’t see them. Then you stick your tongue out at us. You make us laugh so much – you are a joy!

It’s been about two months of me being back to work almost full-time. You’ve adjusted so well to our new routine. You love your nanny and she is amazing with you. I love hearing your squeal and giggle while I work upstairs. It makes me so happy that you are happy.

You have your 18 month appointment next week and we’ll find out how much you weigh and how long you are but I know that you’ve been growing because you are finally fitting into your 18 month clothes! They’re still a little big but you’re getting there.

Your therapist recommended we get you an indoor slide to encourage you to climb and gain confidence. You love it and use it as a walker, ignoring other real “walkers” (shopping cart, etc.) that we’ve purchased for you. It’s hilarious to see you pushing the slide back and forth the living room and the kitchen. You’re a strong little girl and it makes me so proud of you! I’m learning to be comfortable with you meeting your milestones on your own timetable. You will walk in your own time. I just know it!

You’re becoming a fantastic eater! You’ve always had a great appetite but you’re also becoming quite a foodie. In spite of your food allergies, we work to introduce as many new foods as possible. At our mommy group holiday party, one of the salads had pomegranate seeds in it. You LOVED them and dug through my plate to eat all of them. I never even tried pomegranate seeds until I was in my 30s 🙂 It’s fun to see you expand your palate.

You haven’t picked up any new words this month but your comprehension skills are out of this world! You follow directions and are incredible at getting your point across without verbal words. You sign consistently and correctly. I should learn more signs and teach them to you.

You’re the cutest little bug. You’re so sweet. You kiss and hug your stuffed friends. You’ve really taken to your Roo that your grandparents gave to you. You sleep with him at naps and at night. We see you sleeping with his head tucked under yours and you carry him around everywhere. I’m so glad you found a lovey!

When I look back at the last six months, you’ve changed so much. In June at your first birthday, you were still army crawling. Now you are on the cusp of walking (I hope)! You didn’t have any words and now you can say Mama, Dada, moo, yeah, and vrooom (and supposedly up and hi). You were sporadically signing but now you sign all the time, frantically even 🙂 You also used to just cling on to the person holding you and now you give really good hugs and kisses (forehead to forehead). You used to hate any foods except cheerios, mum mums, etc. touching you but now you dive into a pile of mashed potatoes!

You’re growing up, my little bug. I’m so proud of you!

I love you, Roo.

Your Mama, always and forever

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It is sunny in Chicago!

Worry. Not Worry. Worry. Not Worry.


Being the parent of a preemie has a different set of rules. Rules that seem to change on a monthly, weekly, daily basis. It causes me to worry than not worry than worry and so forth. You get the picture.

Roo had PT/OT on Thursday. We hadn’t seen her therapist for a few weeks because of Thanksgiving, travel, and a presentation she was giving. I was so excited because during the time we hadn’t had therapy, Roo was making so much progress. She was vertical, on her feet as much as possible and letting us support her to walk around.

Her therapist was also excited but because of those new developments was able to see something that she either didn’t notice before or missed. We knew that Roo has low muscle tone in her core and that was causing the delays in sitting, crawling, etc. But her low muscle tone issues are now being noticed in her legs and feet. And, could be affecting her mouth, which could be why she is delayed with speech.

Next week, we will do her 18 month assessment to see where she is developmentally. I have mommy brain and can’t remember for the life of me what it’s called – maybe one of the other preemie mommies can jump in. She has always tested incredibly high in the 85th percentile for her fine motor skills and in the 5th percentile for gross motor skills. After the assessment is done, the results are shared with us and Roo’s pediatrician, whom we see on January 7.

I know that we will be referred to a speech therapist. I won’t be surprised with that referral. But, I think people are going to start pushing us to see a neuro specialist to look further into her muscle tone and delays. I’m hopeful that this won’t happen but it is something that my parents (doctor dad) is pushing for and I’ve been very hesitant to pursue – for many reasons. First, I’m scared. Second, I hate subjecting my daughter to test after test after test. I feel like every other month she goes to a new specialist for something or other. In October it was the allergist. Third, I’m exhausted emotionally.

Do I want to be sure everything is OK with Roo? Of course, I do. If there is something wrong with her, I want to and currently do everything possible to intervene and help her. I’m just not sure if I can handle if there is something more wrong with my little girl. She’s been through so much and I don’t want to have to put her through more.

A big part of me thinks she will catch up – like she has in the past. She is on her own timeline. She meets all of her milestones – just in her own time. Do I push for more testing or wait and see? I know that early intervention is best but why intervene when she will catch up eventually?

The last three or four weeks, she’s done so well that I want to keep riding on this “normal” wave. Yes, she doesn’t walk or talk like all of her 18 month friends do but she communicates beautifully with us and crawls with such enthusiasm that she sounds like a rhino running through our house.

I just wish that I didn’t have to worry about my daughter’s development (or lack of) anymore. I want to be a normal mommy who worries about what mommies of children who don’t have developmental delays worry about like should I be looking into preschool? Yes, the moms in my mom group are starting to look into preschools because of waiting lists, etc. I haven’t even thought about it and will probably wait until she’s three because she’s so tiny, which is not until Fall 2015.

Moms of preemies, please help me. What do I do? Do I push for more testing and early interventions or wait it out? I’m so confused and scared. I don’t know if I can handle another diagnosis that requires more therapy and doctor’s visits. How do you get through it?

A Love Letter to Roo: 17 Months Old


My darling little girl,

Next month is a big milestone (you’ll be one and a half) for you and I’m so excited but this month has been an exciting one for you.  It is the month that you truly became mobile (on two feet).  Everything is going so fast for you and you’re growing up.  I almost feel like you’re not a preemie anymore and that is exciting to me!

About a month ago, we were at the pumpkin patch and you sat there among the pumpkins like a queen reigning over her kingdom.  If we took you there now, you would not just sit there, you would crawl everywhere and pull yourself up to stand  on anything in sight.  That’s what it is like in our house right now.  You don’t want to sit, you want to stand.  You stand up for everything.  You pull yourself on the walls, on the glass door, on closed doors.  It’s so much fun!  I have to buckle you into your high chair every time now because you like to try to stand there too.  Same in the bathtub.  We will have to stop using your infant tub and get some non-slide stuff for the bottom of your big girl bathtub.

You also have decided that cruising along furniture and the walls is the way to get yourself around.  You still crawl a lot (and you sound like a hippo as you crawl around the house).  You have a purpose and a goal when you’re crawling and you make it known.  How such a tiny little body can make so much noise crawling around, I have no idea, but I LOVE it!  I can hear you crawling around all the way up in my office, on the other side of the house and up a floor from the living room/playroom.

You also have found your voice.  You still only say Mama and Dada clearly but you have hinted at some other words including (according to your grandfather) your own name.  I haven’t heard it so I think he’s getting overly excited.  You have also been known to say Hi and Up (and yes, says your nanny).  You sign very well and say More, All Done, Hi/Bye.  You’re learning to blow kisses and you can sign most of the Itsy Bitsy Spider and like to help when I sing Five Little Ducks (the part when the mama duck says Quack Quack Quack).  It’s fun to see you communicate.

You point to everything that you want and it really helps us.  But, you also throw a mean temper tantrum when you don’t get what you want!  You’re not even two and you know what you want and when you want it!  I’m afraid…very afraid!

I’ve said this before but I will say it again.  You are a very sweet and loving baby.  You love your friends.  You love your parents.  You love your grandparents.  You are starting to really love your nanny.  You LOVE your new best friend, your Kang”Roo”, whom you carry with you everywhere and sleep with at naps and all night long.  You’ve stopped throwing him out of your bed and instead snuggle up all night with him.

This month, your grand (we call my dad, Grand), came for a visit.  You loved him before but this trip, you fell in love with him.  He was your best friend.  Your nanny was here all day during the week but you spent most of your time attached to him.  He loved it and so did you.  While he was here, he was doing work and set up camp in our dining room.  We closed the door between the dining room and the kitchen and when you wanted to see him, you would knock on the door and he would answer.  After he went home, you searched and searched for him, knocking on doors.  It was so sweet.  When we did face.time with him on the phone, you came over and gave him a kiss.  I’m a daddy’s girl and so it warms my heart so much that you two love each other as much as you do!

Your favorite activities are to build block towers and knock them over.  You also love to sit on the sofa and have all of your little friends brought over.  You arrange them around you and snuggle in close with them.  It’s funny because sometimes you point to some not-so cuddly favorites and you still snuggle in with them (like your train or some building blocks).  You crack me up!

This month has been a challenge too.  I signed a new client with a project through the end of the year and it means working almost 40 hours a week.  So the nanny is here those same amount of hours.  You really love her (we have a new one) and it make me happy that you’re comfortable with her.  I can hear you playing and laughing with her downstairs but it is hard to leave you in the morning because I know you want me to be with you.  You snuggle into my shoulder really close and cling on to me.  It breaks my heart.  You hate when I leave the room now even if it’s just to put your clothes in the laundry basket because you’re worried that I’m going to work and not come back for hours.  I know though that you’re happy when I’m gone and well cared for so it helps.  I hope that you’ll appreciate what I do as a working mommy and that you’ll learn to be a strong woman from me too.

I love you bug.  Each day I love you more and more.  My heart could burst with joy and pride.  You grow so much each month.  I’m astounded.  I can’t wait to see what this next month brings to us!

Your always and forever, mama!

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November 17 is World Prematurity Day


This is the second world prematurity day that we are here for since Roo was born. Last year, I was still in a fog to do much other than have it cross my mind. This year, I’ve been reflecting on it much more.

We are one of the lucky families. The toll has been great on us but much easier than other families I know in real life or online. However, our story is our story and the toll has been great.

I never thought much about prematurity. It never crossed my mind that Roo would be premature. But, who does like any other disease or illness or struggle?

For Roo, the toll has been ongoing medical and physical challenges. From her NICU stay to the reflux to the surgery for her crossed eyes to the weekly physical therapy to her eczema and food allergies, it has been one thing after another. I wish my little girl could get a break.

Yes, all of those things could still have happened to her if she was full term but I think many of her challenges are tied into her early birth.

Even with all of those challenges, Roo is the happiest, sweetest baby I know (I’m biased!). She is sensitive and shy but she is a caring and sweet little girl who rolls with the punches and takes the challenges head on. She doesn’t know life to be any differently and for that I’m grateful that she doesn’t realize that all little kids don’t need physical therapy every week.

As for me, the impact is greater. Emotionally, I was not prepared for the changes to my life. I know that life changes after a new baby arrives but life with a preemie changes even more. It has taken a toll on me as I struggle with depression. It has taken a huge toll on my marriage. MH and I struggle with some issues separate from life changing with a preemie but I think if the stress of dealing with the challenges of a preemie baby weren’t there, it would be easier to work on and fix those other problems. But, there is only so much room emotionally and psychologically to deal with challenges and we have to put Roo first right now. I worry and wonder if our marriage will survive. I now understand why parents of children with special needs have a harder time keeping their marriages intact. I don’t want to fall into the category where we fall apart. Some days I think it would be easier on my own. That makes me sad.

Adding to the stress, we were not prepared financially for the costs of having a premature baby. Our health insurance is great but has a very high deductible and we are afraid to make any changes for fear of losing access to the great providers we have established relationships with already. That high deductible means we pay a huge sum of money out of our pockets before insurance kicks in, which means any inkling of extra money is gone. PT alone is $500 a month or so that would have gone into savings. It’s hard. And, MH alone makes great money. With my extra income (I actually make more $$$) than MH, we will be able to get back on our feet more quickly and start to make up for the lack in saving the past year and a half.

Had we known what we were facing, in hindsight, we would not have purchased a 2,000 sq. ft. 4 bedroom house in the suburbs where we needed to buy another car, pay for lawn service because we have no time to care for the yard because we are busy caring for our child, etc. We would have not needed the fourth bedroom because we are not having another child that ER thought we might have tried for before all of this . We have three rooms in the house that virtually are unused because we haven’t had the time or the money to do anything with them. I love our house but we may need to move.

I’ve been slowly losing friends. It is hard to maintain friendships with old and new friends when I’m depressed and focused on Roo. My old friends were used to me calling them and returning calls. Now I’m too exhausted and I am also tired of hearing their words of “encouragement”. They don’t understand because they don’t have a preemie in their life. Distance makes it hard. I used to be able to hop on a plane and visit them but with our extra tight finances that is impossible. So my long time friendships are feeling very distant and farther away than ever. My new friends don’t understand either. Plus, I will make a play date with someone and then they or their kid gets a runny nose and so se have to reschedule. It’s a challenge. I’m feeling lonely. I know this will get better as Roo gets older and her needs diminish but I feel like now is a time when I need those friendships the most and I don’t have the energy to feed them.

This is a long-winded way of saying that life with a preemie changed in ways that go beyond the physical needs and challenges. The challenges are far-reaching. Life is hard no matter what. And, as one challenge ends another will surface. Overall, my life isn’t bad. I’m dealing with first world problems, which aren’t really too hard in the bigger picture. I should quit my whining.

Getting back to the point, World prematurity awareness day is a reminder that millions of babies around the world are born too early. We all need to be aware of the issue and do our part to help stop this problem. Visit the March of Dimes website and make a donation to their efforts to find a solution to ending prematurity. Many premature births like Roo’s happen for no rhyme or reason – even with perfectly healthy pregnancies and mamas like me. We were lucky to have world-class providers keep our little one with us.

Thanks again for following, reading, supporting Roo and me!!

(Top photo is of Roo in NICU towards the end of her stay. The bottom photo is of Roo a couple of weeks ago!)

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HELP!!! Need Toddler Meal Inspiration


Now that Roo is wanting to eat “real” food and not pureed foods, I’m struggling with meal ideas.  I’m having a hard time coming up with ideas for her meals.  I cheat a lot these days because I’m so busy with work and I feel guilty.  I rely a lot of Tra.der Joe.s.

At the moment, this is a typical day of meals for Roo:

Breakfast: Ea.rth’s B.est oatmeal made with a bottle of neo.sure and her vitamins, half a banana sliced, a small yogurt (whole milk), and sometimes also a piece of whole wheat toast with butter

Lunch and Dinner (usually interchangeable): Half an avocado sliced or a 1/4-1/2 cup of peas, carrots, corn and cauliflower in butter sauce (from TJs), half a banana sliced, an italian style or a turkey meatball (from TJs) or the lightly breaded fish sticks (without the breading from TJs)

I also give her applesauce, pureed squash or pears, string cheese (cut up into Roo sized pieces) and cheeri.os as other options. It’s so boring and I feel like it isn’t well-rounded.  Of course, I give her bites of my food when we are out and about or if I’m able to get myself a meal fixed at the same time as her meal – but that is rare.

HELP!  I need some toddler food ideas.  I’ve tried to make/save portions of our meals from the night before but they don’t seem to turn out well as leftovers.

What is your typical day of meals look like?

Baby Hair Cutting is Not for Amateurs


Much like Roo’s body, her hair is growing like a weed.  Her bangs have been hanging in her face like an Old English Sheep Dog and so I decided it was time for a bang trim.  I actually did a teeny tiny trim a couple of weekends ago with MH but it didn’t do anything to help, so I took advantage of a mellow baby mood and decided to attempt another trim the other day after lunch.

Oooops!  Big mistake.  She was mellow but she didn’t care for a pair of scissors coming at her face.  I hoped to get her bangs trimmed with one, single cut but she moved and so I had to trim them with two cuts.  Well, the first cut and the second cut didn’t match up.  So, she looks a little raggedy.  She’s still my cute bug though – LOL!

I won’t be attempting to cut her hair again on my own.  I’ll leave it for the professionals!

Have you ever cut your little one’s hair on your own?  How did you do?

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On the Road Again…


In May, we headed to San Francisco when MH had a work trip.  It was fun to see friends and visit my old stomping grounds.  MH has a business trip next week and Roo and I will tag along again.  We are risking RSV and flu but it is a great opportunity for her to meet her grandmother and MH’s side of the family.  His mom has Alzheimer’s and is unable to travel so she hasn’t had the chance to meet her yet.  I’m really excited.

It also happens to be my birthday week, so it’ll be nice to do something special and different.

We are staying at an all-suite hotel, so Roo can go to bed and MH and I can hang out in the living room and order room service or get take-out.  It’ll be a huge difference than when we were in one room in SF and had to sit in the dark starting at 7 p.m.  That sucked.  This will be a little more enjoyable – fingers crossed!

As we prepare to travel again, I re-visited the tips that my friends who travel a lot with their kiddos gave to me.  I also went a little nuts and bought a ton of stuff that we borrowed for the last trip including a new umbrella stroller, a second car seat and a diaper bag. We’re going back to Chicago for Christmas to give his sister a break and will stay with his mom in their house while they go away for a week.

We have the Upp.aB.aby C.ruz stroller and love it.  But it is too heavy and bulky to bring along.  So, I bought the Up.paB.aby G.Lu.xe umbrella stroller and travel bag.  We got it in the magenta color.  I can’t wait to use it!  The travel bag gives the stroller an extra warranty so if anything breaks while in transit the company will replace it at no cost.

We have a Chic.co N.extfit car seat, which is fantastic but is gigantic and heavy.  Not a good thing for traveling.  It is also expensive and I would hate to have to replace it.  The E.ven.flo Tribute is a great back-up (and even primary) car seat.  It is under $60.  A friend gave us their car seat bag as they upgraded, which will be good to carry the seat through the airport and gate check it unless we get lucky with an extra seat.  It has straps so MH can carry it on his back.

The diaper bag is a different issue.  I hate diaper bags in general.  They look cheesy (in my opinion) and I don’t find them comfortable. However, my bag doesn’t close with a zipper on the top and doesn’t exactly carry much.  So, I think I will get something that meets my basic needs and stick anything leftover into MH’s backpack.  I bought a Baby Cargo Geo.rgi bag because I love the ability to hang it conveniently off the back of an umbrella stroller and I can wear it as a messenger bag when I’m wearing Roo on my front.  It’s kind of small but it will probably do the job and is also convenient!  Do you have any suggestions?  I know I’ve asked before but I know I have some new readers who might have some suggestions.

My sister-in-law gave me a travel vest called the B.’Air Travel Vest.  It is a handy little safety device that can be worn during the flight to keep your little one safe in the event of turbulence.  Apparently, it can’t be used during take off and landing but I’ve read that some people do anyway and no one says anything.  I’ll see.  We had it on our SF trip but she was too small for it then.  Now, she’s big enough that it should fit her.

I typed and sent a friend (Hi Tania!) a list of travel suggestions as she plans for an international trip with her little one.  I thought I would post it here too.  These are all suggestions that friends have given me that I used for San Francisco and will use again for our upcoming trip:

  • Someone recommended that I hide her favorite toys that I was bringing on the plane so they were more exciting. So I put them away about three days before we left. It definitely helped her be more excited when she saw them again!  And, I got her a few new toys and books too.  Save a few for the trip back!!
  • For packing into your carry on, I had the following:
  • 1 diaper for every hour of travel plus 2-3 extra – might seem excessive but what if he gets diarrhea or something
  • An extra change of clothes for him and you (if he pees on you or throws up?)
  • Food for each meal plus snacks for distraction plus extra meal in case of delays plus (2) spoons and bowl, bib, sippy cup, as needed in a big ziplock bag
  • Umbrella stroller with a recline feature and one hand fold
  • Blanket or two – one to cover him and  an extra for nursing, letting him play on the floor, cover the stroller if he’s sleeping, etc. I just brought 2 muslin blankets that rolled up small
  • Snacks for you – it might be hard to find one during off hours in the airport and since you’re nursing…
  • Toys and books – I brought some new and favorite toys and books
  • Baby Tylenol
  • Tissues
  • Nose aspiration thing – in case nose gets stuffy in flight (not needed but would’ve been critical if so)
  • I also wore comfortable clothes and brought a pashmina along so I could wrap us both up in it while nursing and sleeping.

Do you have any travel tips to share?