Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf

Jon is afraid of spiders. (As it turns out, he’s apparently also afraid of the zombies in Call of Duty: Black Ops, but I don’t think video game character phobias extend beyond power down, so we’ll stick with spiders.) Jon protects our fair county from the big bad guys on a daily basis, but I hold the title of regent protector from the terror of eight-legged intruders. On one occasion, Jon and I left for work but were stopped dead in our tracks by a silver dollar sized spider. She eyed us with all her eight eyes, staring us down. I sighed and turned to look for a towel or 2×4 that I could use in my offensive attack. I didn’t feel like getting cobwebs in my hair. But when I turned to assign him his assistant’s task, he was no where to be found. “Guess I’m not going to work today!” I had to prove my spider ops resulted in arachnid fatalities before he’d venture forth to face human-size villains.

I used to be terrified of needles. My quest for muppets forced me to face that fear head on. Blood tests, self-injections (which I never could get up the nerve to do on my own), more blood tests, IVs, blood tests resulting in the diagnosis that I was anemic (so stop taking my blood already) and shots. I knew I’d conquered aichmophobia when a lab technician burst into my hospital room a day before the muppets arrived and I merely rolled over, extending my arm, without departing the dream I was enjoying.

Yesterday, Logan and I trooped back to the hospital for a followup with his pediatrician. As a matter of protocol, they immediately checked his PulseOx, blood pressure and temperature. I realized my phobia has morphed into something far more mundane. I am terrified of the monitor. Every muppet medical adventure involves the moment where my little guy is strapped in and the screen illuminates, scrambling green numbers in mocking fashion. The monitor taunts me with threats of incapacitation and incarceration.

When I first met the monitor, it was a harmless picture of my blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation. But then it became an integral part of the muppets daily lives. I watched the hell out of those monitors in the NICU – trying to bend their fluctuating numbers to my will. I was helpless to stop their pronouncements of desaturations when the muppets suffered an apnea attack. There was no off button that would calm a bradycardia episode. As we approached graduation, our nurses turned the monitors away. They cautioned we’d need to learn to care for our boys by watching their cues; they warned it would be hard. It was the first time I started to feel relief.

I know the muppets are big strong boys now – today we ventured forth on our first escapade in new big boy car seats. But when the babes are sick, it’s not the doctors opinion that scares me, it’s the first moment when they strap the monitor onto a little foot that sets my own heart racing and oxygen levels plummeting (good thing they don’t also check the parents).

Logan is recovering from his cold. The doctor observed, “He’s totally fine.” (We’ll continue to use the albuterol until the wheezing is totally gone, but he continues to experience “zero respiratory distress.) Yet, I found myself freaking out about the 97 the medical assistant had written on his saturation chart. The monitor was wrong, I insisted. The doctor waved me away – anything above a 96 is fine, it might not have been a perfect read.

I hate the monitor. It’s all I can do to force myself to keep breathing while I watch the results flicker out. How ironic that it’s something so literal reminding me to take a deep breath.

 

A+ PulseOx

I got to live my very own episode of Grey’s Anatomy last night.

On Wednesday, Logan woke up with a snorty nose. Jon and I walked into his room to say good morning and he greeted us with a grin and a sneeze. By Friday, the cold had migrated down to my little man’s chest – and the morning greeting had morphed into a grin and a cough.

By the afternoon, my muppet had begun wheezing. We experienced this once before, at the start of Cold and Flu season. So, for my own comfort of mind, I decided to call the advice nurse to perhaps schedule a quick checkup in the peds clinic the following day.

“Does he have a fever?” No.

“Are his lips or any of his other extremities turning blue or gray?” No.

“Has his appetite diminished?” I looked over at Logan; he looked up from the six ounce bottle of milk he was guzzling and smiled brightly. No.

“Is he disoriented? Is he having a hard time recognizing you?” The muppet giggled uproariously at this. “Ai!” said Logan. No.

“Is he lethargic?” As the six ounces was needed due to the non-stop rolling as he canvased the living room throughout the day, no.

“Ok,” the advice nurse seemed pretty unconcerned. “Let me just see if we can find a telephone appointment with a doctor tomorrow, just so you can confirm with him. Now, your child was typically healthy at birth, correct?”

Well, as healthy as a 27-weeker can be, I reassured her. They never needed a ventilator or anything like that…

Suddenly her attitude wasn’t so blase. “He was a preemie?” she asked sternly. Hold on please. I’m going to check with a doctor.

I had said the magic words. NICU grad. Sure enough – less than two minutes later she returned. “We’d like you to come in. How far are you from our Emergency Room?”

This is how I found myself walking into Seattle Grace…er…Kaiser at 8 p.m. with a lone muppet. Thirty minutes later, we reached the front of the line just to check-in. Poor little Logan was stripped down, weighed (20.6 lbs!) and, much to his chagrin, had his temperature taken – rectally. (He responded to this invasion of privacy by pooping on the medical assistant. But he did it with a smile.)

Then we were sent to the chairs.

We waited. Logan observed the bleeding, hacking or otherwise diseased malcontents crowding the waiting room. I did my best to huddle ourselves into a sterile corner, sprinkling Purel around us like an invisible fence. I settled in, expecting a long wait. It was a Friday night in the ER. I didn’t think a kid with the sniffles was going to be a top priority case.

By 10 p.m. Logan was lightly dozing in his carseat, seriously annoyed that I’d pulled the sunshade down over his line of observational sight. But he perked right back up at 11 p.m. when we were finally situated in an exam room. All the while young and beautiful doctors flitted about – gossiping and proclaiming medical terms, with the occasional “Code Blue” broadcast throughout the halls. I could hear the residents conferring with attendings – ordering CBC/chem 20s, chest x-rays and IV fluids STET.

Dr. Alex Karev finally came in to examine my little man. (Ok, I can’t remember his actual name, but he was a young, handsome, pediatric ER doc and his name did start with a K. So Karev fits.) Logan lit right up, bestowing a million watt smile upon his newest admirer. “He is a cutie!” exclaimed Dr. Karev.

I repeated my story, letting the doctor know that I was not simply a petrified paranoid mommy. Ok, I am. But regardless, I was in his ER because the advice nurse said we needed to be there. Karev placed his stethoscope on Logan’s chest and Logan wheezed on command, so the fine doctor attached an oxygen saturation monitor to my muppet’s foot. The monitor (oh, how familiar I am with those blasted monitors) blinked to life before it’s green numbers settled on 100 percent. And remained there. At 100 percent. The. Entire. Time. My little desatter is all grown up!

Obviously pleased with himself, Logan looked up with his wide eyes and batted his eyelashes as if to sweetly say, “See? I’m fine. May I please have the rest of my bottle?” Karev smiled. “Well, he’s experiencing zero respiratory distress. But I’d like to get him started on a breathing treatment.” He left the room mumbling “he is such a cute kid!” as he exited.

The respiratory therapist arrived as promised, along with two more doctors. Because there was not enough drama in our current segment of the medical drama series, these new doctors were there to inform me that the hospital’s computer system would be going down for the night. As the therapist administered albuterol, one of the other doctors diagnosed Logan with bronchiolitis.

Bronchiolitis is a common illness of the respiratory tract caused by an infection that affects the tiny airways, called the bronchioles, that lead to the lungs. As these airways become inflamed, they swell and fill with mucus, making breathing difficult. Hence the wheezing. According to the Kids Health website, baby bronchiolitis sufferers may be more likely to develop asthma later in life, but it’s unclear whether the illness causes asthma, or whether asthmatics were simply more prone to developing bronchiolitis as infants. Both of these conditions are items likely stem from the Chronic Lung Disease diagnosis that resulted from their missing three months of gestation.

We were then left to wait some more – to see how Logan reacted to the treatment. They warned me it might make him agitated. But, just like our previous adventures with albuterol, he just curled up in my arms and grinned as he inhaled the stimulant. As we hung out, I held him, I curled up with on the gurney, I rocked him, I stood and swayed with him, I tucked him into his carseat. He was calm, absolutely exhausted, and completely wide awake. “I can’t go to sleep Mom, these are my people!” Despite my cajoling, the muppet could not be persuaded to miss out on any potential excitement.

Karev arrived about an hour later with a handwritten prescription slip. “Have the pharmacy call me if they can’t figure that out. We don’t really write prescriptions anymore because we have the computer.” Which was down.

At 2 a.m. the two of us finally stumbled out of the hospital. Logan was still smiling. I thought about asking him to drive me home, but his infant inhaler instructions explicitly stated “Do not drive or drink alcoholic beverages for 8 hours or until you are sure the effects of the drugs have worn off.”

Preemie Babies 101

Preemie Babies 101 is a site where preemie parents can find information, comfort and support about the ginormous twist and turns their lives are about to embark upon. I wish I’d found it sooner.

Afton Mower runs the site – her son became an angel at 21w2d gestation; he weighed only 12 ounces and was 10 inches long. Two years later, her daughter was born at 27w3d gestation and spent 94 days in the NICU. (For comparison by muppet enthusiasts, Caden and Logan were born at 27w4d gestation.)

Throughout her experience from the NICU and watching her daughter grow up, she decided to provide a social hub where preemie parents could band together and help each other through the ups and downs of the NICU and raising preemie babies.

Stressed, confused and exhausted parents are invited to read the experiences, opinions, and stories of other preemie parents, and share fears, thoughts, hopes about the strength of all our little miracles.

Today, you can read the muppets story there.

This story may seem familiar to regular readers of the blog. It is updated from its initial iteration in support of the March of Dimes Prematurity Awareness Day.

**********

Tricia’s Story (Parent Stories)

This story was thoughtfully submitted by one of our readers, Tricia.

I never thought I’d end up a mommy blogger. A world-famous Newbery Medal recipient, sure, but it instead appears my writing talents have headed down the road less traveled. One of my girlfriends started blogging about the random stories of mommyhood shortly after I found out I was pregnant.

My first trimester was rough – not just morning sickness, all day arfing sickness. I had just started a new job in December 2009, so being green on the job took on a whole new meaning. In January, we found out our family was growing a bit faster than expected. Our twins were due in August. In March, we learned our little muppets were two boys. I was finally feeling good.

“I think I’ll start a blog,” I decided one afternoon. I signed myself up on WordPress and there my page template sat for several weeks. No magical article-writing elves appeared to tell my story, so I sat myself down and announced to the global online community that Double Trouble was coming to town. I figured this blog would be a single source location for family and friends. I could sporadically post clever little anecdotes and event photos.

On April 13, I posted an article shouting from the rooftops that I was officialy having a normal pregnancy. Two weeks later, my world turned upside down. I started writing more and more – detailing and journaling my experience on bedrest and ultimately as an ante-partum patient in the hospital as I prayed for healthy twins.

Jon and I became parents on May 28, 2010. Our precious muppets were born weighing 2 pounds 3 ounces and 2 pounds 2 ounces. I held Caden in my arms for no more than 10 seconds after his birth. I watched Logan get wheeled out of the OR wrought with tubes and encased in a plastic incubator.

They were born 12 weeks too soon. And then I passed out.

I didn’t get to meet my muppets the day they were born. I spent hours shivering uncontrollably in a recovery room – demanding water from a nurse who tried my patience to its last nerve by insisting on following medical protocol instead of catering to my thirsty whims. Five hours after they were born, Jon was indoctrinated into life as a NICU parent. He was crying when he came back, but he reported they were doing amazingly well. There were so many wires…

The next day, I learned why people believe in love at first sight. Our nurses and doctors were cautiously optimistic. The muppets were all I could think about. So throughout the next 10 weeks, I took to the Web – sharing my thoughts, feelings and fears to anyone who may happen upon here. As I talked to people and shared our story, it seemed everyone knew someone who was premature. Suddenly, my new normal was “preemie parenthood.” Term babies seemed jumbo and odd.

I found the March of Dimes website accidentally as I scoured the Internet looking for any and all information on the hospital jargon being thrown at me. I became a mother on a mission. My boys were coming home healthy if I had to get a medical degree to do it.

The NICU staff laughed. “When you leave here, we’ll be sending you home part parent, part nurse.”

I never thought prematurity would be the cause I’d get behind. I did everything I was supposed to, but fate/humanity had other ideas and life isn’t fair. My body was broken but my boys are fighters.

The muppets are now more than seven months old. They’re laughing now (and having a grand old time spitting rice cereal raspberries) and it’s hard to remember how tiny they truly were when we first started our journey home.

I’m proud to be a preemie-parent. And I’m proud to be the mom to such nifty NICU grads. Next week our family will return to the hospital for a well-check with our pediatrician, and I expect at least one of the boys to tip the scales at 17 pounds – a far cry from tiny two pounders.

Thanks for getting the word out.

The New Generation

Welcome to the world little Harlan. Today, our friend had a little boy.

We’re at that age where everywhere we turn, someone we know is having a little one. We counted once – in the three years since Jon graduated, there are more than 20 future grads. And that’s just on Jon’s side of friends. Harlan is the fourth little guy in our circle of friends to enter this world since the muppets arrived. (To be fair, there was one girl.) And I know four more still expecting. (One is also having twin boys – welcome to the doubles tournament!)

Admittedly, Jon and I were seemingly a bit late to the baby game – most of our friends are announcing the imminent arrivals of their second children. But we were one of the first to have two (with one of the others who beat us to two doing so with twinkies of their own less than a month before the muppets breakthrough performance).

It’s interesting to sit back and realize that all these tiny humans are our future. It’s fascinating to “compare notes” if you will with other mothers as our progeny develops. High school friends, colleagues, new friends, twin moms, preemie parents – the experiences are shared with a complete amalgamation of people connected to me in different ways. And of course, in addition to celebrating new life, it’s nice to have a circle to share with. What goes around, comes around. And that’s true for baby stuff just as much as karma.

Harlan’s baby shower was the first outing the muppets attended. They never even got out of their stroller. They snoozed soundly in their land yacht, which I’d maneuvered into a corner away from direct sunlight in a manner befitting the skills a mother who grew up playing hours of Tetris on GameBoy.

On Halloween, as I was juggling my monkey and little lion man, another friend joined the shindig with her one-week old. He was so tiny. I was elated! This tiny little baby was the first newborn that instinctively made me think that my guys were getting so big. The muppets were no longer the smallest of the bunch!

At our 2010 Kid’s Christmas Party, another friend brought her brand new two-week old little girl. Caden and Logan were very squirmy, as they were already big giant boys (now in 3-6 month size clothes). So amidst juggling muppets, I was able to congratulate the new mommy of two. Both of the muppets younger new friends were happy, healthy babies. And we had clean bills of health from all the wee ones yet to debut. The atmosphere made me grin from ear-to-ear.

In the past few months, I’ve had countless conversations about what it’s going to be like when our kids start growing up together – who might be the ring leader, and who might be the mischievous one who figures out who can’t refuse a dare… At this point, we may have our own baseball team. Anyone up for a kids vs. parents game at our summer barbeque? I figure we can take them down through at least t-ball.

Yesterday I was gleefully informed that Harlan’s mom had finally been admitted to the Labor and Delivery unit. Harlan was already four days late; everyone (especially his mom) was very ready to meet him. Perhaps it was because she had just checked into the same hospital where I’d spent so many tearful days/nights, but I suddenly felt a twinge of jealousy.

I can’t imagine that you’ll hear many stories about women jealous of other women going into labor, but the news made me start reminiscing about the stark contrast of our boys’ earthly entrance.

“Walk, walk, walk.” Four days past his due date (and truth be told, about two weeks before), Harlan’s mom was encouraging her little man to depart his cozy nine-month abode. I was afraid to drink too much water because walking the ten feet to the bathroom might be dangerous. She was so excited to finally be admitted to the hospital; I replied to the news letting her know I was partial to L&D Room 10. (And not that she would likely be watching a lot of TV, but beware the broken unit in Mother/Baby Room 23).

My phone buzzed at 5 a.m. this morning. Jon grumbled and asked who would be texting at such an hour. An adorable, healthy, 7lb 9 oz Harlan was here. Jon smiled. “That’s an acceptable interruption,” he noted as we drug ourselves out of bed to cater to our own growing boys at the early hour. Early, late, preemie, term – none of them are going to care when they’re running amuck together throughout the days of their youth.

We’re so excited to have you here Harlan. The muppets can’t wait to meet their new friend.

March With the Muppets

Every year, millions of people resolve to get fit and healthy. It is by far the most popular end-of-year resolution. Well, the new year has arrived and it’s back to reality. Vacation is over and we’re back to our daily routines. It’s the third day of the year – so right about the time that New Year’s Resolutions go out the window.

Last year this blog’s main focus was on the new normal of prematurity. This year is a fresh start and, since the muppets are big giant babies these days, I foresee a theme of the hilarity of early childhood. To aid this thematic transition, I would like to present you all with an opportunity to keep that popular resolution.

The March of Dimes March for Babies is an event that raises money in support of programs that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies. And it funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten our babies (like being diagnosed as “tiny”). These walks have been taking place since 1970 and have raised an incredible $2 billion to date.

On May 15, 2011, the muppets will be walking in support of all tiny babies. Start training now for the five-mile jaunt in Gilroy, CA. (Five miles may not seem like much until you try marching it behind a twin double stroller…)

And we want to see you there: Friends, family, nurses, preemie parents, MoMs, double trouble enthusiasts…

Join our Team
Join me and the Classy Moms mothers group in this fight for health – yours five miles down the trail and all the little lives the March of Dimes will touch.

Officially join our team at http://www.marchforbabies.org/team/MarchWithTheMuppets

Why is our fundraising goal $270? Seems like a random trivial amount considering it’s in honor of the million dollar miracle muppets doesn’t it? I designated this as our team goal as a symbol of our honorees – born at 27 weeks gestation. This isn’t a fundraising ploy – this is a request to come out and walk with us in a show of support for your favorite muppets and all their peers.

March for Babies take place all over the nation – look for one near you if the Muppet March is geographically undesirable for you.

I am so immensely grateful for all the care the muppets received during their harrowing first few months; I wholeheartedly support anything that potentially eliminates the need for the 2010 preemie chapter of this blog.

So get started on that fitness resolution. Start walking. You’ve got five miles in front of you. The muppets have so many more.

Fight for Preemies

Little lives are at stake.

Today, Nov. 17, is the Fight For Preemies, 7th Annual Prematurity Awareness Day. The March of Dimes asked bloggers from around the world to post their story on the same day to draw attention to the crisis of premature birth (birth before 37 weeks gestation) and its toll on babies and families.

I never thought I’d end up a mommy blogger. A world-famous Newbery Medal recipient, sure, but it instead appears my writing talents have headed down the road less traveled. One of my girlfriends started blogging about the random stories of mommyhood shortly after I found out I was pregnant.

“I think I’ll start a blog,” I decided one afternoon. I signed myself up on WordPress and there my page template sat for several weeks. No magical article-writing elves appeared to tell my story, so I sat myself down and announced to the global online community that Double Trouble was coming to town. I figured this blog would be a single source location for family and friends. I could sporadically post clever little anecdotes and event photos.

On April 13, I posted an article shouting from the rooftops that I was officialy having a normal pregnancy. Two weeks later, my world turned upside down. I started writing more and more – detailing and journaling my experience on bedrest and ultimately as an ante-partum patient in the hospital as I prayed for healthy twins.

Jon and I became parents on May 28, 2010. Our precious muppets were born weighing 2 pounds 3 ounces and 2 pounds 2 ounces. I held Caden in my arms for no more than 10 seconds after his birth. I watched Logan get wheeled out of the OR wrought with tubes and encased in a plastic incubator. They were born 12 weeks too soon. And then I passed out.

I didn’t get to meet my muppets the day they were born. I spent hours shivering uncontrollably in a recovery room – demanding water from a nurse who tried my patience to its last nerve by insisting on following medical protocol instead of catering to my thirsty whims. Five hours after they were born, Jon was indoctrinated into life as a NICU parent. He was crying when he came back, but he reported they were doing amazingly well.

The next day, I learned why people believe in love at first sight. Our nurses and doctors were cautiously optimistic. The muppets were all I could think about. So throughout the next 10 weeks, I took to the Web – sharing my thoughts, feelings and fears to anyone who may happen upon here. As I talked to people and shared our story, it seemed everyone knew someone who was premature. Suddenly, my new normal was “preemie parenthood.” Term babies seemed jumbo and odd.

I found the March of Dimes website accidentally as I scoured the Internet looking for any and all information on the hospital jargon being thrown at me. I became a mother on a mission. My boys were coming home healthy if I had to get a medical degree to do it.

The NICU staff laughed. “When you leave here, we’ll be sending you home part parent, part nurse.”

I heard the story of one man born in 1932; there was little to no hope for him. Doctors told his mother to go home and put him in a shoebox in the oven to keep his temperature up. I had the same reaction you are all having now. But today, there aren’t these amazing miracle stories. And that’s because of the development of medical technology and scientific know-how. At no point was the word “if” ever uttered when discussing the muppets future.

I never thought prematurity would be the cause I’d get behind. I did everything I was supposed to, but fate/humanity had other ideas and life isn’t fair. My body was broken but my boys are fighters.

Next week the muppets will be six months old; they’ve been home more than four of those. They’re laughing now and it’s hard to remember how tiny they truly were when we first started our journey home.

I’m proud to join the Fight for Preemies. I’m proud to be a preemie-parent. And I’m proud to be the mom to such nifty NICU grads. Next week our family will return to the hospital for a well-check with our pediatrician, and I expect at least one of the boys to tip the scales at 15 pounds – a far cry from tiny two pounders.

Maybe in 30 years, research will have come so far that no worry lines will ever develop on the forehead of a parent who meets a child born too soon. And I’ll keep blogging about my boys. Here’s to the banality of childhood memories – times two.

The March of Dimes asked us to blog for a baby we love today. I write for my muppets. Because in their words, “We need to fight ― because babies shouldn’t have to.”

But if any literary agents are out there – I’m still gunning for that Newbery. Just sayin’…

One Family’s Story

So many people have babies born too soon. When Jon and I began our experience as “preemie parents,” I was amazed at how many stories we began hearing. It seemed almost everyone we knew had been touched by an early birth.

I vividly remember the NICU walk every day as we went to visit the muppets.

Now, Pampers has launched “Love Comes Early,” an 8-episode Web series that follows one family as they navigate life in their local NICU and fight to nurse their daughter Addyson, born fifteen weeks premature, to health.

I watched this and it seemed all too familiar. But in honor of Prematurity Awareness Month, I wanted to share since it seems a great way to show you what it’s like – for any parent going through this. Our stories are all different, but all too similar.