Lots of fun things are going on in Willow's world these days. On Tuesday she turned 7 months old corrected. 7 months has been a very fun age so far. Everything's hilarious to Willow lately. She laughs constantly - the cutest little distinct "ha"s. "ha. ha. haha." She'll just look at you and bust out laughing. It sort of makes you think, "am I really that funny-looking?"
We changed Willow's sleeping arrangements this week. We took away the bedside "arm's reach co-sleeper" and moved her crib into our bedroom.
We decided she was getting too heavy for the cosleeper. It just has a thin, hard mattress, like the type they have in pack-and-plays. Her crib has a nice cushy mattress in comparison. She hasn't been using the crib as much as we thought she would though; ever since she started breastfeeding, she's been waking up once during the night to eat. I don't know if that's the reason, or if it's just coincidence, but it sure does make it convenient - no getting up, going downstairs, warming a bottle...I just bring her into our bed and feed her. She usually stays there a couple hours until I wake up again and put her back in the crib. It works out well and we enjoy it. I'm a very light sleeper and we've taken precautions so she doesn't fall off the bed or get smothered. I think bedsharing is a good thing for parents who work full time; it gives you that much more time to bond with and be close to your baby. This photo was taken after we got back from a party Christmas Eve - Josh fell asleep with Willow while I was getting ready for bed, but she was still wide awake.
Of course I'm very happy that Willow finally learned how to breastfeed (at 9 1/2 months old - that must be a record!); however the flip side is that it's a little ironic...I was just about ready to wind down the pumping and start giving Willow milk from our stash in the basement - 2 chest freezers full. Now that she's breastfeeding, I'm not pumping much anymore except for at work, but none of the frozen milk is getting used...and it probably won't. It'll probably end up expiring and we'll have to toss it. All that work, time and effort that went into saving it all...well, I guess it's best not to think about that.
The eating is going better. Willow will now usually willingly open her mouth for her food. She's tried cereal, sweet potatoes and avocadoes so far. We're just doing it once a day for now.
Willow's next physical therapy appointment is next week. She still refuses to roll over from back to front. She hates tummy time so much that if you put her on her tummy, she immediately rolls to her back:
Our Christmas was wonderfully relaxed. It was so great to have a 4-day weekend! No travelling for us this year; we stayed home. We attended a couple Christmas parties and brought Willow. We're starting to loosen up a bit about bringing her places. It's so fun to bring her places and let her get a little attention from people! I feel like I've missed out on "showing her off" since we've never brought her very many places yet. Christmas day, we delivered meals for Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly and brought Willow. It was actually her second volunteering experience - a couple weeks ago we delivered boxes of food to elderly people and brought her then too. Not surprisingly, the old people love Willow. Here's a pic we took in Heritage Manor after visiting a couple ladies. Notice Willow's LBFE nametag. :)
We opened a few gifts from each other at our house. We used our grapefruit tree as our Christmas tree this year.
We got Willow Sophie the giraffe.
She immediately knew what Sophie is for.
Scouty and Daria got presents too, of course.
Then we went over to my parents' house for Christmas dinner and more presents. Willow was spoiled as expected. Josh's family is coming up next week, and then the spoiling will really begin!
I guess the biggest news of the week is that Willow said her first word on Christmas. And the first word is....drum roll please...poo poo! Yes, her first word is poo poo. Sigh. I was changing her diaper and said poo poo at some point, and Willow, very quietly but very distinctly, said "poo poo". I couldn't believe it. It's not like that's even a word we say very often. We've been trying to get her to say mama or dada for a long time. Instead she says poo poo. After that we kept trying to get her to say it again (imagine a group of adults repeating "poo poo" over and over again) and she did a few more times. I caught one on video, though it wasn't a very good one. It's at about the 19th second of the video.
Hopefully soon we can get her to say something else. :)
It's been a long time since I've done the weekly blog update. People keep telling me that I need to do the updates more often, so here goes. As I'm writing this "The Little Monster", my nickname for a fussy Willow, is squiring in my lap. I mean the nickname in the nicest possible way. She isn't really a "monster" at all. From what I can tell she is very well behaved as babies go. Willow turned 10 months old yesterday. Momma and baby are still doing good with the breastfeeding. It's going so well that it's almost like they've been doing it forever. All in all it's been a good week at the Jenson house.
Now I'd like to give all you young childless couples a little advice. Being a parent is hard work. People will tell you this and you'll say "yeah whatever, I've done lots of hard work in my life." All I can say is forget what you think your definition of hard work is. Raising a child is an all consuming job. That being said, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Sure I might only ski half a dozen times this year, unlike the 100 I use to ski before Willow. Sure we don't go out until 2 A.M. and sleep until noon, but really I'm getting too old for all that business anyways.
My favorite part of being a father is coming home from work and being greeted with the biggest, happiest, most loveable smile you could imagine. Willow is the best thing that has ever happened to Lindsay and I. I really can't imagine life without her. We were talking the other day about what it would have been like if Willow had been a full term baby and everything went as planned. I told Lindsay that there was no sense in dwelling on it, we have a happy, healthy baby and none of that really matters. She agreed with me and added, " who knows, she might not be as cool as she is now." I thought that pretty much summed up how we feel about Willow.
Hope you all have a Merry Christmas,
The two little teeth. You can only see them when she's crying :(
After I posted last week, I realized I forgot to mention Willow's current weight. She had a check-up on December 2 and she is now 13 pounds, 14 ounces. I believe that's about the 5th percentile for her corrected age. Our little peanut. My friend Jess at work has a daughter who is almost 4 months old, and she weighs the exact same as our 9-month-old. Willow's doctor isn't worried though, and neither are we.
We also visited a pediatric physical therapist, on the recommendation of the PT at the NICU follow-up clinic. According to her, Willow favors her right side and also needs more tummy time so she will learn how to roll over back-to-front. Right now, she won't do it because she hates to be on her tummy. Anyway, we have some exercises that are supposed to help. Honestly, I can't really even see the issues that she claims exist...I sort of wonder: if Willow wasn't under the microscope of many health-care providers because of her prematurity, would anyone even notice these things? I know lots of other preemies who never attended the follow-up clinic...do they have "issues" that are going unnoticed? Does it even matter? The PT even admitted that if we didn't do these exercises, Willow would turn out just fine, it may just take a little longer. Oh well, we'll do it, I guess. I want to do what's best for Willow.
Willow ate rice cereal once a day all week and didn't really get any more enthusiastic than the first time we tried. It seemed like she was agreeable to opening her mouth, but once we put the food in, she'd spit it back out. It's quite humorous, actually. Yesterday we tried sweet potatoes. I made it up fresh and mixed it with a little milk to thin it out. She didn't really like it at all. Here's a video of our attempt:
She also has a very funny new trick: fake sneezing. See, any time Willow sneezed for real, we'd act surprised and say "Bless you!!" and she thought that was just great. So she started fake sneezing to get the response more often. Now, if we fake sneeze, she will usually do it back.
Yesterday Willow surprised us by deciding to nurse. I actually hadn't tried in a couple weeks - the last few months any attempts were met with a disgusted look and then screaming. Well yesterday morning, she slept a long long time and woke up starving. I was changing and dressing her while Josh was getting her bottle ready and she was crying with hunger so I gave it a shot. She latched right on and took a whole feeding. Then she did it again this morning. If she keeps it up, she may foil my pump-weaning plans entirely! Little stinker. :)
Here's a couple more photos, one from her first time in the snow, and one reading with Daddy.
It's been so long since we posted that there is a ton of news and a ton of photos. It's hard to find time and then it all piles up! I'll try not to get carried away.
We had a good Thanksgiving and went down to the Jenson's in the Twin Cities. On the way down, we stopped in Eau Claire, WI to visit Willow's old pal Ellen! It was the girls' first reunion since the NICU. Ellen has made great strides since then and she is such a cutie. Willow also got to meet Ellen's big sister Audrey. It was great to see them again.
They've changed a little since this photo:
Here are some shots from the Jenson's:
Notice the sales circular in Willow's hand. Newspapers and magazines are some of her favorite things. She loves to crumple them.
That's Willow with me and Josh's two grandmas. She got to spend some time with them, which was nice.
While at Grandma and Grandpa's, Willow took a bath in the sink. She looked so relaxed we were reminded of someone lounging in a hot tub, So we got a Willow-sized beer mug for a photo op. It was pretty funny.
Teething has begun, and it hasn't been so bad. The amount of drool is amazing! We now keep a bib on her all the time, not just for meals. If something is within Willow's reach, it's in her mouth!
Today we tried a carrot; we heard they were good for teething. It was a hit. It's safe until they get teeth, where they could bite off a piece. So far, Willow's bottom two front teeth are just barely showing above the gum.
...however, we haven't made much progress with the hair. It seems like Willow's head is growing as the same rate as the hair, so the hair can never get ahead! :)
We also started Willow on rice cereal this weekend. It went pretty well. She was very proud in her high chair (and we were excited to use it!)
We've gotten a ton of snow up here in the last couple days-insta-winter! I brought Willow out in her snowsuit and took some photos, but I'll save those for next time.
On the eve of her 6-month (corrected) birthday, Willow has a new skill: sitting! She sat by herself today while I folded and put away an entire load of laundry. I caught it on video later while she was playing:
She's also been doing a lot of BOUNCING!
Here she is with one of Daddy's creations:
And here's one of my other new babies: new snowboard boots! I'm so excited...I know I won't get out much this year, but it'll definitely be more than last year, which was not at all.
Sorry I haven't blogged in so long...it's been a hectic couple weeks for us! And, we haven't been very good at taking photos lately either. There is a lot of news though, so here goes.
First of all, it's Willow's 9-month birthday today. How time flies.
We've abandoned a couple more of those things that identified Willow as a preemie: the itzbeen and the Neosure preemie formula. I know a lot of parents of "normal" babies use the Itzbeen too, but we became hooked on / obsessed with it after we gave up the hospital-style charting. It got to the point where, we'd be upstairs about to feed her, and it'd be like "where's the itzbeen?" Someone would have to run downstairs and get it so we could press the feeding button. Extreme, I know. Well, Willow's been doing so good with her feeding, we finally trust her enough to tell us when she's hungry and know that it'll be appropriate. Before, it seemed like if we didn't tell her when it was time, she'd happily go all day without eating. Now she gets hungry every 3 hours or so on her own.
We could've given up the Neosure a while ago, but decided she could use the extra calories it provided when we fortified her milk with it. But now we've run out and are not buying more. Straight breastmilk for Willow.
Willow will be 6 months corrected on Sunday and people are starting to ask when we're going to start feeding her baby food. We will, soon enough. I think we might wait until she's sitting on her own. I did have an idea the other day when I was bottling up milk, and let her try out the spoon with some (breastmilk) cream on it. She did great, actually, opened right up and let me put the spoon in her mouth, and ate the cream right up!
As far as pumping goes, I'm down to once every 6 hours - it's great! However, supply is still ahead of demand, and the second freezer is full, so I'm back to dumping some of what I pump. Not much though. As I keep increasing my time between pumpings and Willow keeps eating more, eventually she will eat more than what I make, and then we can dip into our freezer stash.
Willow got her second H1N1 shot today, so she's finally all vaccinated against H1N1 and seasonal flu. Yesterday, we all headed down to Marquette for the first time since discharge, so Willow could go to the NICU follow up clinic. She saw a developmental pediatrician, a Physical Therapist and a Speech Language Pathologist. She is still tiny for her age (actual and corrected), but is now up to about 13.5 pounds (we don't know her exact weight because they weighed her with her clothes on) and 23.5 inches tall. The PT she saw there was a special pediatric PT, and she had some minor concerns that the Early On PT didn't notice. Apparently Willow favors her right side, and has some issues with weight transfer from her upper body to her hips...or something. We're not quite sure exactly, but they referred us to another pediatric PT who is up here in the Houghton area. She's supposed to give us some exercises to do with Willow to help her. The PT said it's not a big deal and would probably resolve on its own by the time Willow is walking, but the exercises will just help her along quicker.
After the appointment, we stopped by the Family Birthing Center to see if we could visit some of our old NICU friends. We weren't really able to though, because right when we got there, they had just gotten two admissions that were babies transferred in from elsewhere, so they were really busy. Next time, I guess. We miss you guys!
Our friend Sharon came for a quick one-day visit last Sunday. We didn't take any pictures though - we're terrible! It was a fun visit. Grandma babysat a couple hours so we hit the brewpub!
Some parents teach their babies sign language. It seems Willow has learned a sign inadvertently due to our germophobia. See, anytime we are going to pick up Willow, we wash our hands and then use hand sanitizer. So now, anytime we are rubbing our hands together (like rubbing in the sanitizer), she knows she's about to get picked up and gets all excited and squirms and coos. It's so funny.
Here's a last photo to leave you with.
We have one more note for today: Welcome Home, Charlotte! Another micropreemie comes home. If you haven't seen Charlotte's blog link on our home page, check it out. What a little cutie.
It was quite the busy week for us. I spent my birthday (Tuesday) driving to Wausau, and was down there Tuesday and Wednesday nights, getting back on Thursday at about 8 PM. It was hard to be away from Willow that long. I will admit though, that a tiny part of me sort of appreciated being able to relax in a hot tub with a beer and no one needing to be fed or changed! :) I was glad to get back, though not glad to come back to the humungus pile of work (at work, not home, thanks to Josh) that accumulated while I was gone.
While I was gone, Willow finally got her first dose of Synagis. What a relief that was. She will get it once a month now through the winter to protect her from RSV. I still can't believe the amount of hassle and paperwork and phone calls it took to get it for Willow when, as a 26-weeker, she obviously needs the protection. On Monday she also got her second seasonal flu shot...now she just needs the second H1N1, and then we can get back to her regular shot schedule. Poor kid is a pincushion!
Willow also saw a physical therapist on Friday, just to check and make sure she's developing properly as far as gross motor skills and neuro-muscular somethingorother. We weren't expecting her not to be, and that was the result: she is at or ahead of where she should be for her corrected age. Another relief! In two weeks she's going back down to Marquette for the first time since discharge to attend the NICU follow-up clinic, which also assesses her development. We're looking forward to seeing everyone down there again.
We had great weather this weekend, and Willow got out on two good walks. Yesterday, me and her and my friend Emily took a nice long hike on the Tech trails, and today, Josh and I took her out in the stroller for the first time! We have two strollers, and they're both the kind you're not supposed to use until the baby has good head control. We decided Willow was ready. There probably aren't going to be many more stroller opportunities since winter is coming, so we're glad we got it in now!
If last week's sounds was "gee", this week's sound is a blood-curdling scream. Not like crying, but just a really loud SCREAM. Actually, she's been working on it for awhile, but I think it's now perfected - it's most effective when done 6 inches or less from mom or dad's ear.
Two more friends had baby girls! Congratulations to Ash and Rob, and Josh's cousin Mike and his wife Katie. Welcome, Vaeda (hope I spelled that right), and Natalie!
Here's a shot we forgot to put in on the last post. Her other Halloween costume, a pumpkin:
I guess the biggest news of the week is that Willow has decided that eating isn't so bad after all. It's almost like when "the switch turned on" in the NICU and she learned how to take full feeds from the bottle - all of a sudden she actually enjoys eating! Ever since we brought her home, eating has been a struggle, with Willow often fussing and pushing the bottle away. It was stressful because we wanted her to eat so she'd grow, but everything you read says "never force a baby to eat, their hunger cues will be permanently screwed up and they'll end up obese." Well, half the time we felt like we were forcing her to eat. About a week after we started letting her sleep all night, she suddenly started actually fussing when we took the bottle out of her mouth, and reaching for her bottle! Feedings are much easier now, and go much faster (just like you said, Becky!). Hurray! She has become a great sleeper too - going all night, as long as we care to sleep. We're getting more sleep than we know what to do with - plus, I'm up to 5 hours between pumpings. The freedom!
Willow was a sock monkey for Halloween. We went over to my parents' house to hang out and give out candy (we don't get trick-or-treaters where we live, which is mostly student rentals).
I'll be tested this week, as I have to go to Wausau, WI for work for 2 nights. I'll be away from Willow for over three days! :(
I was away from her for longer than that when she was in the hospital, but I think this will be harder, since now she knows who I am and knows what's going on. Josh will have his hands full...what a guy.
The word of the week is "gee". Not like gee whiz, but with a hard G. Willow says it over and over, both in distress and when she's happy. Here's a video:
Snoozing in the sling:
When she falls asleep in the sling (which is often), we just lay her down and slip out. This is a common sight in our living room:
Petting the kitty:
Happy baby and grandma! Notice her cool pumpkin hat from auntie Jill:
This blog follows the adventures of Lindsay, Josh and Willow Jenson. It started in 2008 as my pregnancy blog, then when our daughter was born 14 weeks early in February 2009 it morphed into a medical blog as she spent her first 105 days in the NICU. Now, thankfully, it's basically a run-of-the-mill new parent blog.