Thursday, May 28, 2015

Just. Wonderful.


Wondering where I've been? Let me walk you through it.

- I got sick.

- Jason got sick.

- Audra got sick.

- Audra has two teeth popping through on top! Just for good measure!

When the smoke cleared, Jason and I were diagnosed with strep throat (cue antibiotics!) and Audra was diagnosed with not one, but two ear infections. So she's on antibiotics, too! We're all on antibiotics! It's wonderful!

It's. Just. Wonderful.

Basically, I can't wait for Saturday, and that's entirely because I am just super ready for this week to be one hundred percent over. I am going to the farmer's market, and I am buying some Kuka Juice, and I am taking a walk. There may be a waterfall involved. I may just lie down under a tree and regret my life choices.

But I will do it with enough penicillin in my system to choke a bear.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

We Are About to Drown in Tomatoes


The garden has officially come to life. We're seeing our first tiny itsy green tomatoes pop up where yellow flowers were a week ago. We have two (maybe three) tomato plants for 2.5 people. Our plans for the future involve a lot of homemade canned tomato sauces and that oddball southern staple, the tomato and mayonnaise sandwich. And pico de gallo.

The sage flowers continue to bloom. I have a serious need to take a pair of scissors and trim the sage back to something manageable. I am seriously not sure how a plant we got as a tiny transplant from Lowe's three years ago and proceeded to alternately neglect and over watered managed to become this flowering, healthy behemoth. I suppose I'll be drying sage here in the next few days or so, too.

The cilantro has flowering, the basil is popping up, the chives are being contained but only just, the potatoes are taller and stronger, the pepper plants are showing teensy little peppers now, too... even the cucumber plant is beginning to blossom.

I don't even know how we're going to eat all this as it comes in. We had one single jalapeno plant last year and I was baking jalapeno poppers like it was going out of style just to try and use them all up. Now we have jalapenos, serrano, and mild garden salsa peppers.

So. Much. Pico de Gallo. In my future.

I suppose this is the logical result of "hey, why don't we get a couple of herb plants" three years ago. We realized we could grow these things instead of buying them, and now we just keep growing more and more and more.

The "three sisters" garden in the backyard (corn, tiny pie pumpkin plants, and pinto beans) is growing like mad, too. We planted those three from seed, though, so they're a few weeks behind the transplants in the front yard. It was still immensely gratifying to watch them break through the soil one by one, until we could account for every single seed.

We have carrot seeds planted in the other backyard raised-bed garden, but our dog discovered good-diggin' to be had in that garden, so I'm not sure we'll get any of those. We're still hopeful.

I just spent several paragraphs regaling all of you with gardening, which I think shows you what happens when you become a grown-up. You start becoming enthusiastic about gardens.

Take this as a warning, kids.

One day you, too, will gush effortlessly about the wonder and magic of plants.

Friday, May 15, 2015

this moment; lattes with liz

THIS MOMENT: a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.


Honey-lavender lattes from Tandem with Liz last Saturday.

Runner up: 


Little birds.

'this moment' idea from natalie over at natalie creates.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day and Miracles

This is Mother’s Day.

I am probably, hopefully, just maybe sleeping in past 6 am and hopefully possibly probably eating something delicious for breakfast and just maybe having morning cuddle times with a 9 month old who has no idea what day it is, she just knows it’s morning and she’s awake and therefore we should be. So we’ll bring her into the bed with us and laugh and talk and play until I feel capable of motion. And possibly maybe hopefully just maybe coffee and maybe it will even be a venti triple coconut milk latte from Starbucks. You know. Just saying. 

(I wrote this about a week and a half ago. As of actual Mother's Day, I was up at midnight thanks to our dog barking his fool head off and then woke up for good at 5:15 because somebody's baby decided sleep was over now, played and cuddled with Audra who is feeling sick, and then she threw up on me. I changed us both out of disgusting outfits while she happily smiled and smiled. Then she realized she was tired and screamed through me changing her outfit. Then Jason took her and she went back to sleep and I'm sitting out here thinking about a time when I didn't know what sour throw-up formula smelled like. So... maybe there will still be the latte?)

Oooh, and there will be chocolate and red wine - but I’m not supposed to know about that. 

I don’t really want to talk about my first year as a mother - I think I talk about that about enough. You’re all sick of hearing about teeth and sleep and baby clothes and tiny fingernails I only cut when I absolutely have to. 

I don’t want to talk about that today. Instead, I want to talk about miracles. 

A little over three months ago, my best friend from high school was pregnant with her firstborn and had been having some problems. 

She’d been in and out of the hospital, trying to keep her baby in until his due date. She and her fiance were making plans, picking things up. The nursery wasn’t ready, because they had nearly four months left - plenty of time. 

Until, of course, they didn’t. 

Henry was born at 24 weeks gestation, the tiniest little slip of a baby weighing just barely over one pound. His eyes took up so much of his face, his veins visible through his skin. 

At 24 weeks, I had only just begun to even feel like my pregnancy was really happening, that I was really going to have a baby. 

At 24 weeks, Sarah gave birth to one. 



When you have a baby so early, things are written out very starkly for you. Doctors and nurses are compassionate but realistic, they don’t mince words. Viability is only really considered applicable at 23 weeks. At 23 weeks, they may not try to save your baby. At 24 weeks, they will try, but they will tell you the chances are less than 50%, even in a hospital, even with nurses and doctors as highly-trained in NICU births as Sarah’s were.

A nurse or your partner or your parents or a doctor may hold your hand when they break the news. He may not make it, they tell you as softly and gently as they can, while your baby is still moving inside you, still defiantly alive. Even if he lives, he may never really see. He may have hearing problems. He may be deaf. He will not walk when his peers do, or grasp things, or sit up. Even if he lives, being a micropreemie is not just a few months of issues. It could be years. Perhaps his whole life.

If he lives.


Henry Rike did.

He comes from a family full of stubborn people who aren’t going to let anyone in a hospital tell them what they’re going to do. If anybody was going to have a baby who would simply ignore the statistics and go on living, it was going to be Sarah.

If is what a micropreemie’s parents hear, over and over and over again, until there’s no more meaning in it, until it’s a syllable that says nothing. Until those ‘ifs’ become the routine. As that tiny baby in the box goes from one pound to two, from two pounds to three, you begin to really hope. The compassionate realism of the doctors and nurses turns into optimism and delight. They fall in love with their little charge just as you do.

If he lives, they told her at 24 weeks when she saw her son for the first time.

If.


For her first Mother’s Day, Sarah will see her son in his hospital crib, cuddled in soft blankets. He is over five pounds now, over three months old, every day inching closer to fully breathing all by himself, to going home.

At 24 weeks, they said, “If he makes it overnight.”

If he can get through the first week without a brain bleed.”

If he can gain weight.”

If he can handle the switch to the new ventilator.”

At 90 days, they say, “When he makes it to six pounds.”

When he can come off the ventilator.”

“When he goes home.”



Sarah’s first three months as a mother have been routine in many ways - holding her son against her skin, listening to the tiniest, kittenish cries, early mornings and late nights, diaper changes and the smell of your baby’s hair. It has been watching her fiance hold his son, working together to get the nursery ready, figuring out what kind of team you’re going to be to raise your baby. It’s been Henry meeting his grandparents, the first time you see your parents holding your baby and falling head over heels in love.  

It has also been three months of staring into the face of if, watching your one-pound baby boy fight to survive and begging for a miracle. Praying for two pounds and then three, four and then five. It was asking that he please not experience a brain bleed, God, please let his eyes track her movements. Please, please let him react to the sound of her voice.

If he hears me.

If he sees me.

If.


Happy Mother’s Day, Sarah.

Welcome to your when.

And thank God (and the incredible staff at St. Luke's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for tiny miracles.










Henry's blog, Henry's Journey Home, contains regular updates on Henry's progress, and you can still donate to help Sarah and Scott out with the astronomical expenses that come with having micropreemies by donating here. Every dollar helps.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Nine Months


(I realize this post comes 4 days after her actual birth date. I was busy, and when I wasn't busy I was sort of doing just about anything but getting this done and you know what, I don't have to explain myself to you so nyah)

Some things about my Audra Grace at nine months old:

1. She primarily wears size 12- 18 clothing. BabyGap is basically the only brand where her size corresponds to her actual age. My baby has a giant head and a very long body. I would make a joke about her taking after me there, but Giant Headed Babies is apparently something her daddy's side specializes in. Apparently the only gift I can give genetically is the gift of short femurs.

2. We have tooth number three! I talked about what happens when tooth number three appears previously, but man, number three is a tough one. We had a "wake up screaming every two hours all night long" session that we were all still recovering from a good two days later. It's not one of her front teeth, but slightly off to the side. It's still just hanging around barely poking out, which doesn't seem fair, considering how much trouble it's causing her.

3. She got her first sunburn! We were at a birthday party for a friend of mine's kiddo and while we slathered her so heavily in sunscreen she still smelled like it two baths later, I apparently missed a quarter-size spot on one of her arms. So there you go. She got a sunburn the size of two of my fingernails. I was very ashamed of myself.


4. I almost got her to scoot this week. Of course, she leaned over as far as she could, just baaaaaaaarely started to scoot across the floor... then got very angry, sat back up, and started wailing until I gave the food pouch she'd been busy chewing on back to her. So... not as successful as I might have hoped. We haven't even moved her crib mattress down yet because she simply doesn't even try to pull herself up. If she wakes up, she'll just lay there and talk to Holly Bear until one of us comes in to say hello - or if it's 2 am she'll whine because whining is just the best at 2 am.

5. She. Does. Not. Like. Eggs. All the books tell you to keep trying to give babies foods even if it seems like they don't like them at first, because it can take several tries before a baby likes something. Egg yolks are highly suggested as an early first protein. We've tried a few different ways, but this child is definitely not a fan of eggs. No dice.

6. She has laser-focused hands when it comes to twisting her little fingers up in literally any piece of jewelry I may be wearing. Notice I don't say her eyes are laser-focused - she'll find it even if she's looking in a whole different direction. She'll just reach out blindly and immediately grab my pendant and start choking me. Because motherhood is magical.


7. We met one of our neighbors the other day I had just gotten Audra home from daycare, tired and ready to nap since she never takes her afternoon nap when she's there, and I heard an older woman call out "Y'all come on over and talk to me!" Because I know better than to disobey the orders of older southern women, I went on over and met her. She's delightful and she said she'd seen us off and on but never quite got to where she could catch us to actually meet. Audra was exhausted and I was worried she'd get fussy and irritable at being forced to interact with someone new when she wanted to sleep so bad, but she. was. an. angel. She just watched the woman for a couple of minutes, and then after a while she'd kind of look at her nicely, and by the end she even gave her a couple of bright smiles. Our neighbor reminds me a lot of my paternal grandmother, who died about five years ago, and I went away from the conversation feeling a little bit like Audra has been able to meet the woman she was named for, almost. I don't know. It was an odd, slightly eerie feeling.

8. She's eating lots of regular food and not just pouches. Her daycare did "breakfast for lunch" last week with grits, sausage, and biscuits, and she apparently could not get enough. She's also starting to wind down her milk consumption a little bit... she's cut out about one bottle's worth and I think she's on her way to cutting out one more. When we're out, she doesn't really drink much at all. She'll take an ounce here or there but mostly wants to pick food off our plates or grab at our coffee cups. Half of it may end up in her hair or on the floor, but hey, yesterday I spilled coffee all down my shirt so who am I to judge?

9. Whatever you do, if you are giving Audra a bath, do not take that bottle of shampoo out of her hands when she grabs it. You (and your eardrums) will live to regret that choice. Who knew bathrooms had such loud acoustics, before they had children?


Only three months to go until my baby is a year old. That can't be right, can it?