Weary Travelers

Friday was the start of a long holiday weekend. It was pouring rain. The drive to SoCal took five and a half hours. Tuesday, once everyone had returned to school or work, was absolutely gorgeous. It took nine hours to get home.

We’re finally home. I’d planned to update you, all my faithful readers, on our trip last night. But our return became a full day’s adventure.

7:15 a.m.: The muppets and I bid adieu to weeping grandparents.

7:30 a.m.: The three of us visited briefly with an old friend, her little munchkin and munchkin-to-be, and enjoyed some nice warm bottles of milk.

9:00 a.m.: We arrived at G.G.’s house to dine on a delicious breakfast of pears and bask in the glow of some last minute doting.

11:00 a.m.: Time to hit the road – the wheels on the car go round and round.

1:00 p.m.: The wheels on the car are not going round and round. Logan begins to express displeasure for this particular journey. The muppets are tired, but not sleeping.

1:30 p.m.: We’re moving forward, but sadly without need for use of the gas pedal. Logan decides this is a problem best solved with food, so I promise them we’ll break for a snack. A green highway sign overhead shares that the next exit is one mile down the road.

2:00 p.m.: We finally approach the exit. I will the traffic ahead to make good use of the accelerator while preparing bottles for the boys. Both muppets protest a return to their carseats.

2:30 p.m.: Arrival in Santa Barbara. (I usually pass the “Big Yellow House” an hour and a half into this journey.)

3:30 p.m.: Caden begins to whine. Logan agrees with Caden. Numerous kamikaze bugs commit hari kari on the windshield.

4:00 p.m.: Pismo Beach looks like an inviting rest stop. I choose a grassy knoll at a Hilton Garden Inn overlooking the Pacific Ocean and set up a family picnic. In a setting fitting a Hollywood movie, we dine on peas under palm trees as we gaze out over the sparkling blue water shimmering in the distance. Logan rolls around in the sunshine, while Caden tries to disassemble his carseat.

5:00 p.m.: Halfway home! (This is the time we thought we’d arrive.)

6:00 p.m.: GrampaStavo starts to panic that we’re not home yet. Caden is wailing in the backseat.

8:00 p.m.: Never such a welcoming house have our eyes ever seen before. The muppets are sound asleep as we pull into our driveway. With sleep filled eyes, Caden curls up into Daddy’s arms.

“I missed you!” Jon cooed over the muppets as he doused them with kisses. I began to unload the car while Jon prepared milk and oatmeal. Caden began to cry again. By the time I got back into the house, we were experiencing our first full-blown tantrum.

Caden was screaming and squealing in his ExerSaucer as he jumped up and down. “I. AM. HUNGRY! I. AM. TIRED! I. AM. NEVER. EVER. NEVER. GETTING IN THAT CARSEAT AGAIN. MY DAY SUCKED!!! MY TEETH HURT!!!” Crocodile tears streamed from his bloodshot red eyes, down his chubby little chipmunk cheeks. His bottom lip jutted out in a full pout.

He didn’t even make through the appetizer course of milk before he passed out in Jon’s arms.

After we put the two of them to bed, where they immediately flipped onto their tummies and embraced the familiarity and comfort of their own beds, I returned downstairs to share the stories of our adventure. I stared at the computer screen, mesmerized by the blinking cursor.

Well, I’ll just leave them anticipating the next installment, I thought. I was sound asleep by 9:00 p.m., dreaming dreams that my butt was no longer molded to the precise shape of my car seat.

A Bedtime Story

The little boy was afraid of the dark. Things dark and untoward resided there. The silence bothered him. He was scared that he would be alone when he woke up. The light of the day provided so many new things to discover. He worried he’d miss out on some exciting adventure when he closed his eyes.

One night, he cried out. He screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed.

Suddenly, the Man in the Moon appeared. He scooped him up and cradled him in his crescent arms. “Little love,” he rocked the little boy. “Don’t be afraid. I have an important job for you to do.”

“The world of dreams is a wonderful place. It is a world of adventure and excitement. It is a place where your imagination rules the day.” The Man in the Moon asked the little boy if he would venture forth into dreamland. “Will you play, laugh and jump? Will you run, read and share? And will you share your stories when you wake up, for tomorrow’s morning sun?”

The Man in the Moon promised to watch over the little boy throughout the night. He promised to keep his light lit, embracing him in the warm glow of moonlight, so the little boy would never have to fight the night.

Finally, the little boy smiled. He tried to keep himself awake – he had so many questions for the Man in the Moon. But his eyelids began to droop. In the distance he saw an adventure beckoning. The little boy fell asleep as the Man in the Moon began to sing.

Little love, it’s time for bed
it’s time to prepare for the adventures ahead
You’re being sent off to explore
to play, to learn, to dream and more
There’s so much to know, in your world still unsaid.

The moon will look down over you throughout the night
the man who keeps watch will make sure you never lose sight.
Close your eyes and go to sleep
don’t be afraid to look, listen, laugh and leap.
Follow your journey through, until the morning light.

Tomorrow you will tell me all you learned and what you think of.
But now – it’s time for bed, my little love.

Tomorrow he would have such stories to share!

 

Over the Hills and Through the Woods

…to grandmother’s house we go.

It took three days of packing, two suitcases and one very large SUV. But the muppets and I braved the pouring rain and trekked 370 miles south to GrammaJ and GrampaStavo’s house in the rain. Jon remained behind to hold down the fort, care for our furry four-legged boys, and work.

I know that babies can get a little out of sorts in a new place, so Jon and I did all we could to ensure they felt at home. Two pack-n-plays (one borrowed), Dolph and El (their nighttime snuggly lovies – a stuffed dolphin and elephant), their jumper (bounce! bounce!), the Tiny Gym playmat (with dangly toys and activity Hungry Caterpillar), 10 pairs of jammies and stylish outfits for each day of our stay, bibs (lots of bibs), the land yacht of a stroller, and a wide variety of miscellaneous toys to grab and gnaw, among other accouterments.

At the last minute, Jon kindly reminded me that I should probably bring some necessities of my own. So I stuffed some jeans and shirts into a duffel bag and piled all my electronics gear into an insulated, cushioned case. (I wouldn’t have you, my faithful readers, bereft of my witty postings detailing the lives of our beloved muppets…)

We hit the road at 6 a.m. The rolling hum of the tires and the pounding raindrops surrounding the car, combined with the still darkness of pre-dawn, put the boys right back to sleep. They dozed happily in the backseat; I filled up the gas tank, hit Starbucks for a caffeine shooter and guided the Pilot onto the 101 freeway. Four hours into the drive, the muppets started babbling in the backseat. I was impressed they lasted as long as they did – I start getting antsy about 30 minutes into a road trip.

We pulled off the road to refuel muppets and the car in Buellton, at the home of Mrs. Anderson’s Split-Pea soup. It seemed an appropriate stopping point; I’m not personally a fan of pea soup (especially at 10 in the morning), but pureed peas are featured prominently on the muppets dinner menu this week.

The final hour of the drive to SoCal is always my favorite – winding along the coastline with the Pacific Ocean waves breaking on the beach outside your passenger windows, and traveling beneath the swaying palm trees and cliffside houses that perch along the hills through Santa Barbara. Granted, some trips are more uplifting than others, but even with the grey water and dreary, sad looking soggy trees, I was thrilled to share the muppets first seaside adventure with them. I think Logan turned his head and went back to sleep.

Precisely five and a half hours after departure, we pulled into G.G.’s driveway. The vacation officially commenced and we headed indoors for five fun-filled days of muppet spoiling, as they meet their throngs of admirers who have been anxiously awaiting an audience since May 28.

 

BFF

I still remember getting the phone call with her name. I was on a break at my job at Blockbuster, my mom had opened the letter from my new college – and it contained the name of my new roommate and dorm room. I was going to be spending my freshman year on the 11th floor of an 11 story building with a stranger named Rebecca.

We exchanged emails throughout the months leading up to the start of our collegiate career. (It was last century, but we still had the archaic email technology.) Each and every day of the summer, someone reminded me, “Remember – you don’t need to be best friends with this individual. You just need to tolerate her for one single school year.

On move-in day we discovered each other in the hallway. “Are you Rebecca,” I stared. “Yes. Are you Patricia,” she questioned in return? We set about arranging our room, my father puttering about building a bunk bed and moving bookshelves. “Your new roommate is very quiet,” he observed later in the day. “No, Gustavo,” corrected my mother. “She just can’t understand a word you say.” (GrampaStavo has a rather thick Italian accent).

And then I stood in front of the building, watching my parents drive away. I lived alone for the first time in my life; the only person I knew was someone I’d exchanged a few emails with. She seemed nice enough. But remember – I didn’t need to be great friends with her, I just needed to tolerate her for one year.

Back upstairs we awkwardly stared at each other a bit more. Finally Rebecca broke the ice and asked if I was interested in accompanying her to the dining hall for our first dinner as college kids. By the end of the meal, we were chatting like old friends. (Advice – emailing your future roommate gives you a great background to go off of when you get where you’re going.) By the end of the year, we were thick as thieves. She’d pile my laundry in the closet to avoid the “trails” I made for myself; I’d make her eat a bag of pretzels before any argument commenced in case it was just low blood sugar making her cranky.

We were both 17, the youngest kids on the floor. Neither of us were theatre majors (yet, I’d become one later), but we’d indicated that particular pastime as an interest on our personality form. (I think colleges match roommates by hobby and height.) Becca’s mom had warned her that theatre people were weird, but I’m glad she marked the checkbox anyway. We pulled one all-nighter together – the two of us calling our educator moms at 6 a.m. to say good morning in a fit of giggles before we finally passed out.

Birthdays were always a big deal in our room. When I got flowers on my birthday, Becca proudly marched them down the hall proclaiming, “We got roses!!!” Sophomore year, when her birthday morning arrived, I think I may have rolled over and mumbled “happybirthday” before collapsing into sleep’s warm embrace. Becca was definitely a little hurt – she’d even gone to the trouble of circling the date on all of our calendars. But the moment she headed out the door for work, our little gaggle of girlfriends leapt into action. We decorated the room with flowers and cards (but made sure not to include any balloons) and placed a giant bow on her aerodynamic new desk chair. You didn’t think we’d really forget her birthday, do you?

Senior year we proudly stood in front of the Communications department and argued our joint thesis project together. We were both 21 and getting ready to move on to the next stage of our lives – the one where we played grownup.

In 2006, she got married and I was there. In 2007, on her one-year anniversary, I got married and she was there. In 2009, she had a little girl. I couldn’t wait to meet the newest member of our family. When I announced I was pregnant in 2010, she immediately demanded to see the ultrasound photos of her nephews.

During my hospital lockdown, we once again began exchanging emails as she sent me amusing anecdotes to keep my sprits up. And this Thanksgiving our families celebrated together, thankful for so much – especially friends who are family.

Today, Auntie Beeeca (nickname derived from GrampaStavo’s inability to correctly pronounce or spell her name) is 30. For someone I just had to tolerate for nine months, I’m awfully glad it was her. I’m truly lucky to have a friend like her.

Happy Dirty 30, Auntie Beeeca! Party like a rockstar. And here’s to our masquerade as grownups.

Cupid’s Kiss

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

I’ll admit, I’ve never been a big fan of this Hallmark holiday. I don’t really have a good reason why – especially since I’m such a huge fan of the assorted chocolates associated with it. Maybe it’s because there’s just so much pressure involved on what we’re “supposed” to do.

I do remember looking forward to Valentine’s Day as a kid. We’d all make shoebox mailboxes covered in red, pink and white construction paper. Elmer’s Glue would coat our little hands as we finished cutting out folded hearts in contrasting colors and lined them with lace borders. After recess we’d all file back into the classroom – each personalized shoebox sitting atop our assigned desks, eagerly awaiting candy donations and cartoon greetings. You weren’t allowed to pick and choose your valentines; everybody got one.

So all 32 kids in Mrs. Kaplan’s third grade class were my sweethearts. By the end of the day, my box would be tearing at the seams – laden with Sweethearts, cherry lollipops and individually wrapped chocolates. I’d rocket out to the playground high on sugar from what I’d already devoured of my bounty and the cupcakes someone’s mother was sure to have brought to celebrate the day.

I haven’t really celebrated it since I moved on from the decorative footwear receptacles of elementary education. Here and there my parents would get my brother and me a little something. Once I moved away to college, my grandmother would unfailingly send me a box of See’s Candy. (Oh, how I love Mary See…) Jon and I have never done anything to mark it as special.

One year Jon moseyed into work on a February 14 morning. “What’re you doing for your girlfriend today?” inquired a colleague (we weren’t married yet, so the girlfriend referred to is me). Jon casually replied that he had no plans based on my ambivalence. A horror-filled tension immediately filled the air. Didn’t he know girls were lying when they said they didn’t care about Valentine’s Day? Everyone returned to work the following day with a sadistic curiosity about how far Jon had fallen. I actually think there was some disappointment that the only result was a bit of chuckling over their concern.

I approached the holiday this year much in the same fashion as the decades previous. But then the muppets got their very first Valentine. It was a red bumble bee from two of their little friends. Cards from G.G. soon followed. I was so excited to see that she’d found not one, but TWO, great-grandson cards.

Getting more and more into the spirit, the muppets and I gathered up our gear and headed off to the NICU. Caden and Logan both gave me extremely wary looks – neither seemed to think purposely and willingly re-entering that locale was a very good idea. Caden presented Nurse June with a cliched heart-shaped box of chocolates. Logan clutched one for Nurse Susan (sorry if it’s a little chewed on.)

“Thank you for helping me get big and strong so we could go home. Will you be my Valentine?” We also sent our good vibes and healthy chubby baby thoughts to all the current NICU residents, that they may be home asking for Irish kisses next month.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and all your loved ones. My cherubic chubby little muppets send you kisses.

Fly Me to the Moon

It appears we’re not quite qualified yet. We missed the height requirement by just a smidge.

Basic qualifications required for consideration as a NASA astronaut include a degree in engineering, biological or physical science, and the ability to pass the NASA long-duration space flight physical – including 20/20 vision.

Unlike most children their age, the muppets already have one graduate degree. (More average kids don’t typically experience a graduation until at least kindergarten – we earned our first degree before their expected delivery date. They’re NICU grads, with an emphasis in breathing.) Given the medical attention they received, and the wires and sensors that surrounded their tiny bodies throughout their stay, it seems like they’ve earned a bioscience degree for not letting anything hurt their little bodies and an engineering degree for navigating all those wires.

We have another opthalmology appointment tomorrow to confirm 20/20 vision, but their little eyes are tracking objects they are interested in with a laser like focus. The minimal Grade 1 ROP was declared dissipated months ago.

Astronauts often operate in a zero gravity environment, so I figure the muppets’ inability to sit up of their own accord is irrelevant. But sadly, we can’t explain away the height requirement. Astronaut candidates need to be between 60-75 inches tall; the muppets are pushing 26 inches.

Nevertheless, we spent these past few beautiful California days practicing for some hard missions. NASA notes that training for long-duration missions lasts two to three years beyond the initial training and evaluation period.

The muppets experienced their first swing ride at the park. My little thrill seekers loved every minute of the swaying adrenaline rush. Due to size restrictions (again with the “tiny” issue), Caden and Logan decided to share a swing. They already look like little space men, ready for a moonwalk.

Tonight we took upon a second trial mission. We set out to procure some basic household items. We loaded up, headed out and bundled back into the stroller. A woman sidled up next to us as we entered the store. “Oh bless your heart,” she smiled at me. “Twins?”

I started to smile, and let her know how blessed we are. “A boy and a girl?” she asked? I sighed. “Two boys,” I assured her. I aimed the stroller in the probable direction of oatmeal. We maneuvered our way past the candy aisles, which were swarming with last minute Valentine’s Day sweethearts in search of sugar.

“Aww,” a voice cried out from among the throngs, “Twins!” I looked up. “A boy and a girl, right?” said a very excited woman. Again, I assured her Caden and Logan were both boys – this time without the smile. I pushed forward faster, determined to locate the oatmeal and get back home. But once again, we were thwarted in our pursuit of mashed grains. A woman standing amid the family planning and prevention paraphernalia. “Wow! Twins. A boy and a girl?!”

“Two boys,” I said through clenched teeth.

It finally occurred to me that most of these exuberant multi-sex proponents never even take more than a cursory glance at the double stroller before pronouncing what must be the “ideal” twin result. Caden and Logan are both very much boys (despite a friend, who incidentally does have boy/girl twins, said that “Cadence” has a nice ring to it – pun intended).

No, they are not identical. They are brothers. Both boys. And the “ideal” twin result – is two healthy babies, who may or may not be future astronauts.

Happy Birthday Daddy

Happy birthday, Jon!

My husband always said he’d envisioned himself as a father by age 30. We didn’t have any children by his 30th birthday; he hits the ground running with double the trouble and double the grins – blessed with twins for age 31. Although, I don’t think our muppet story is quite how he pictured himself arriving at the point of “My Two Sons.”

To celebrate Jon’s arrival into his third decade, we did absolutely nothing. Zilch, zippo, squat, a big 0-fer. Normally, we at least go out to dinner as a family. This option was presented to me and I became a bit nauseous at just having the thought of a restaurant forced upon me. I suggested that perhaps he could go out alone. Instead we decided to have a laid back pizza party at our house. So I dressed myself up in my least offensive oversized sweats and perched at the kitchen table in what I hoped to be the most pleasant shade of green possible. My milestone gift? Not throwing up directly on him.

This year, I was determined to make up for last year’s giant fizzle. We’re all home, happy and healthy. If ever there was a year to celebrate! I conferred with my boys. Cooper and Scout readily agreed that for their father’s birthday surprise, they would refrain from eating poop for the day. (Gross, I know…whole separate blog post for that topic.) The muppets and I had a more difficult time coming up with the perfect “we love you Daddy” present.

Jon is not the easiest person in the world to shop for – especially when you’re searching for a “perfect” gift. Jon, himself, is a notorious fabulous gift-giver. Somehow, some way, he always manages to pick the perfect item to fit any occasion. (Granted, I would still argue not arfing on someone is a great gift for any occasion.)

Perhaps he would enjoy the new Xbox. I quizzed a few gamer friends about various consoles and platforms; they proved to be of no help at all. (What good are nerdy friends if they can’t provide video game support!) Ultimately, we decided upon the new Xbox Kinect. We’re parents now, so looking absolutely ridiculous as we bounce and flail around the living room using our bodies as the controller seems right in line with our current station in life.

Caden thoughtfully nodded his head at me. He agreed that the Kinect system would be a good idea. However, for the first birthday gift he was leaning toward a more traditional route. Dad has an affinity for all things “tactical.” So Caden followed suit with the video game theme, but chose to give Daddy “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” Jon opened the game, looked at Caden and said, “You look like a Black Ops kinda guy, little man.”

Logan had other ideas; he was going to do his own thing. We were all shocked when Logan smiled and proudly revealed his birthday gift.

His first tooth.

Logan now has the beginnings of one little tooth – one of his bottom incisors has officially cut. Jon and I are both in complete awe at how fast our little muppets are growing up. I know what you’re all thinking. Logan? But Caden is the one who’s been gumming his way through a minimum of three soggy drool bibs per day.

First to come home, despite so many medical proclamations, and now first with a tooth despite Caden having a significant jump on the teething process. I think Logan is still showing his competitive side a bit after being thwarted for firstborn.

For Jon’s 31st birthday, Logan got Dad his first tooth; Caden got him black ops. Edge to Logan, but just barely.

Doggies Say Woof

I am a dog person. I have a firm belief that dogs make people happy. In fact, during my hospital confinement I was even prescribed canine therapy. (This may or may not have had anything to do with my emotional meltdown during my first in-patient stint, in which I demanded canine companionship and threatened to escape so I could see my puppies at home.)

Throughout my childhood, my brother and I campaigned for a dog. After 12 years of wearing her down, my mother acquiesced with what she likely thought was a fool proof plan. If both of her children could turn in a year’s worth of straight A report cards, we’d complete our perfect American dream family – Father, Mother, 2.5 kids and Rover. Academic bribery was a swimming success; we became Lab people. Our first dog was Stryder, a yellow lab.

A year after I graduated college I was lucky enough to purchase my first home – a condo with a view. My first act of responsible home ownership was to sign up for a Labrador Retriever rescue group so I could be matched with the perfect puppy. Bailey was a neurotic seven-year-old chocolate lab. He was our first child and absolutely terrified of packing materials.

Several months after our wedding, Jon told me he was going to breakfast with his dad. That was a big fat lie. Two hours later, he returned home with Cooper the yellow lab. Cooper is an independent soul. He insists on inspecting everything before settling anywhere and his sole purpose in life is to get one of his people to throw a tennis ball for him. We had to adjust our lifestyle a bit once Cooper joined our family. He has an unfortunate tendency to rapidly dart through a doorway to go about exploring the great outdoors – resulting in me flying after him like a crazy person while he explores the great wide world.

Shortly after we bought our house, we decided to get a friend for Cooper. Our family expanded to four after we adopted Scout the black lab. Scout is a big boy – he loves everyone and every thing, which is good because he wasn’t entirely blessed in the brains department. (His relationship with his brother Cooper can often be likened to the cartoon Pinky and the Brain.)

When the muppets joined us, I was so blessed to have five amazing boys to share my life with. To make sure we would all live happily ever after together Jon and I brought blankets home from the hospital with the muppets scent. We took our four-legged sons on walks with an empty stroller. And once our twins came home, we introduced all the boys – inviting them all to sniff each other.

As it turns out, Caden and Logan are dog people too. Both boys are utterly fascinated by them. Caden laughs hysterically at their every move and reaches out to pet them. A dog sauntering through the living room is guaranteed to elicit grins from both my guys. Our pups aren’t quite sure about them just yet. When we first brought the boys home, Cooper was pretty certain they were duds. “C’mon Mom, these new puppies can’t even throw balls…” Scout loves them; they’re his new best friend! But sometimes he worries the new puppies will take his place with his people.

But they’re slowly starting to become better friends. Cooper and Scout tolerate Caden and Logan a little bit more every day. When the muppets start toddling the fun will really begin! Like I said – dogs make people happy.

 

Muppet Movies

Several of you have mentioned your love of the muppet movie snippets. And I’ve even heard rumors of a certain select few who repeatedly watch clips (*cough* GrampaStavo *cough*).

So I’ve created a YouTube channel to store them all. Someday I hope to create a video gallery directly on this site, but until then – find your favorite muppet moments by visiting the links listed under “Muppet Media” in the right-hand side column.

Muppet Movies is our YouTube channel – filled with all the video clips we’ve amassed.

Muppet Photos is our Flickr stream. I keep this updated with all the miscellaneous candid shots of our favorite model muppets.

Enjoy!

Book Review: Half Baked

Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe

Alexa Stevenson is a writer and fellow preemie mom. I’ve never met her, but I feel like I have – I just finished reading her book, “Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe.”

Her story is a bit more dramatic than mine. Her’s begins with infertility (don’t they all?), before setting forth on the adventure of IVF. Stevenson discusses her journey throughout this process, and the resulting success of a twin pregnancy. With a light touch, she expresses the joys of constant arfing. She then opens her tragedy to the world.

At 22 weeks (the week I began my own adventures on hospital lock down), Stevenson’s son was discovered “demised” in the womb. Two weeks later, her water broke. She was immediately assigned to permanent hospital confinement (they even took away her bathroom privileges for a bit). Her daughter Simone was born eleven days later – at 25 weeks gestation.

From the beginning, Stevenson chronicled all of her adventures on a blog (FlotsamBlog.com). Infertility, multiples, panic, hospitals and prematurity – now what? Simone almost died, but she didn’t. So as she approached age three, Stevenson put their story in a book.

Damn, she stole my idea.

With hilarity and grace, “Half Baked” is the story of a hypochondriac’s search for motherhood – and the extraordinarily untraditional route she took to get there. No matter the situation, “Half Baked” demonstrates one can always survive by finding the humor within; the self-stated purpose and theme being “persevering with reason and humor.”

If I may be contradictorily philosophical for a moment, despite our differences it is amazing how similar our story is. We both panicked and fretting after learning multiples were on the way; we both insisted on weekly (if not more) ultrasounds, demanding proof of heartbeat; we both railed against medical confinement; and we both became intensely focused on raising our children – Google graduates of information and medical terminology. I even had to go back and read my own blogged experiences after completing Stevenson’s description of her daily NICU routine. Apparently all tiny human intensive care units have the same mandated purple walls.

Not just an ode to her baby girl, this book is a testament to the power of parents unwillingly thrust into the ΠΡΕΕΜΙ sorority (Pi Rho Epsilon Epsilon Mu Iota Eta or PREEMIE). It puts a human face on the theoretical and literal trials of learning to breathe when life throws you a rather inconvenient right cross to the chest – knocking the wind right *out* of you in the midst of your prayers for God to put the wind *into* your babies, along with the knowledge and power to continue inhaling and exhaling repeatedly for The. Rest. Of. Their. Lives.

Excerpt:
A large part of motherhood is about relinquishing control. Generally you have eighteen years for this project, and it happens with a series of steps: the first day of kindergarten, a driver’s license, college. Gradually you accept – or try to – the fact that you cannot keep your baby from harm, not always. Being a mother int he NICU is a painful crash course in this concept, like learning to swim by being dropped into the ocean by a helicopter. In the aftermath of being dumped, flailing, into the Pacific, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to experience an increase in anxiety, even to develop a fear of water altogether. On the other hand, if you were an aquaphobe to begin with, the plunge might do you some good. It’s hard to be afraid of a bathtub after that.

This book should be handed to all NICU parents upon admission. Actually, it should be standard fare alongside the ante-partum sign-in paperwork for all mothers struggling with pre-term labor. Trust me, they’ll have time to read it…

I recommend “Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe” to everyone and anyone touched by prematurity – no matter how distantly. This book is a must read for anyone touched by a baby born too soon.

Until my book comes out, of course…