Thursday, November 17, 2011


Damn. I haven't blogged in months. I think 5 to be exact. And not for lack of wanting to. Life has very much gotten in the way. Natalie is a little girl, plain and simple. She walks. She talks. She dances. She sings. She throws temper tantrums. She throws utensils. She is a little spitfire. She loves Elmo and Olivia the Pig. She knows all of the Sesame Street characters. She carries around a stuffed doggie that resembles our real dog Sam, and cannot so much as walk out of the ROOM without making sure doggie is in tow.

Today is Prematurity Awareness Day. And it is crucially important for us all to be cognizant of what that means. One in eight babies is born too soon. EIGHT. That is a lot of babies, if you think about how many babies are born each day... each minute. Many of those babies don't survive. Many do, but not without a hell of a struggle. And some just get really damned lucky.

We were one of those statistics... Natalie Diana arrived 9 weeks earlier than expected, and spent the first five weeks of her life in a little box, her oxygen and temperature regulated, tubes and wires delivering medicine and food and milk to her weak little body. She had limited contact with the ones that loved her most for that long, dark, cold winter. Thanks to the amazing tenderness and care of the ANGELS at the Phoenixville Hospital NICU, we are on the happy side of those statistics. Natalie is 6 weeks from turning 2, and other than the fact that she's a little tiny peanut, you'd never know the kid was early. Thankfully, she escaped with  no breathing problems, no developmental delays, no psychological damage from her early start. She is smart as a whip, beautiful, amazing, and so very brave.

Every time I look at my little girl, I love her more. And I am ever so eternally grateful and in awe of the amazing medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to pediatric and neonatal medicine. If not for their learned minds and steady, confident hands, who knows what this blog post would have been about. This is why I urge you to educate yourselves on the scary truths about premature birth. You may not be in a position to donate, but at least appreciate and understand the grave problem it poses to so many innocent babies who may be fighting for their lives. Or who have lost their fights. Or take a minute to be in awe, as I am, of the many children whose will to live and strength to persevere granted them a chance at a happy, healthy life - like my daughter, Natalie.

Please be aware. And hug a nurse next time you see one. Give him/her an even tighter squeeze if you find out they work in a NICU.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lucky Ladies

Driving into work this morning, I got to thinking just how lucky Natalie really is. I mean, I think about it all the time, but having just dropped her with her Nana Cyd, it really struck me, both how lucky she is, and how lucky I am as well.

When I was a little girl, I got to see my Grandparents fairly often - at least once every few months. My maternal grandparents came down to PA from New Jersey quite often, and we also visited them a good bit as well. My Pop Pop owned a stationary store in New York City, right by the UN, and we used to go into Manhattan pretty frequently as a result.  My Dad's parents didn't travel to us as much, but we at least saw them around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and usually once or twice throughout the rest of the year.
Natalie is so very lucky. She gets to see both sets of grandparents weekly. Sometimes multiple times in one week. She is forging such a strong relationship with them, especially her Nanas, who each care for her 1-2 days a week. With our parents living relatively close to one another, it's easy to share holidays (for the most part) and split time between both sets. They adore their granddaughter and it shows in every which way. They are SO generous and giving, in both good times and bad, and have been amazingly helpful to us in so many ways. They would do anything for us, and for their precious granddaughter.

We spend so many of our formative years resenting our parents - or at least being angry because we don't want to admit they are right. I'm so glad that I finally came around and realized just how brilliant my parents are and how right they always were. I am just as lucky as Natalie, to have been blessed with such incredible role models, who have clearly shaped me into the person I've become today. I will never be as good as them, but I'm always striving to get as close as I can. If there is one thing I can look back and regret, it's not having had a chance to spend as much time with my grandparents, both sets. I know it was a matter of distance and nothing more, but having lost 3 out of my 4 grandparents before I even graduated from high school... I just wish I'd had more opportunities with them, especially now seeing how nice it is for Natalie to spend so much time with hers.

All four of her grandparents have told me what a blessing she is, and how amazing it is to be a grandparent. I am convinced Natalie has added years to my dad's life. All my mother-in-law ever wanted was a little girl (and yet she ended up with two strapping sons), and so now she's reliving her child-rearing days with Natalie and cherishing every second. When we need a babysitter, we have to figure out "whose turn" it is, so as to keep things even, because everyone always wants Natalie. It's a lovely problem to have! Natalie has absolutely no idea just how very loved she is, but God willing will grow up having a wonderfully close relationship with her Nana Cyd, Grandpa Doug, Nana Lin, and Grandad Pete!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pictures are worth a thousand words...

And she's off...

Always stop to smell the flowers!

such a big girl now!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Over the last two weeks, I have watched a truly amazing metamorphosis. I have watched my little baby very quickly transform into a little girl. It is truly remarkable how fast she's suddenly changing...almost as if one morning she woke up and decided it was time to really start growing up. In two weeks time, she has become a (somewhat) good eater, a walker, and her vocabulary has doubled! It's so cool!!!

It started when we went to California. The trip was good (post about that coming soon) but Natalie seemed... different... after we got back. She got sick again; she'd been sick the week leading up to the trip with a nasty cold that refused to go away. But when we got back from Cali, she developed a raging fever and was a miserable, clingy little blob. We determined that she likely had roseola; a childhood disease that is indicated by a very high fever followed by an all-over rash. Luckily, it's not dangerous at all and once the fever is controlled, you just have to sit back and wait for the virus to work it's way out of the baby's system
It was terrifying, to have your child wake up in the middle of the night screaming, her skin on fire... thank GOD for infant ibuprofen. We wouldn't have survived the ordeal without it. Luckily, the whole thing only lasted 3-4 days. But it still sucked, and I hated seeing my little girl suffer.

But when Natalie was finally symptom-free, that is when she really started to transform. It was like someone hit a switch. I was lucky enough to have caught her first official steps on video, which were taken while she was still sick I might add. She didn't even realize she'd done it, but when I tried to encourage her to do it again, she was too weak and miserable to give it another shot. But once she was better, she started walking with confidence and excitement. She can make it clear across the room now without wobbling or toppling over. She hasn't quite mastered it yet, and still drops to her knees when she wants to get somewhere quickly. But, she is getting more and more confident and I'm certain she'll be walking exclusively in no time!

The eating piece is honestly what I am the happiest about. While she was sick, we were lucky if we got her three 8 oz. bottles down... and that was it. She wouldn't eat her beloved yogurt, waffles, or any of our go-to foods. I was slightly worried, but know that illness affects anyone's ability to eat, so why would it be any different for her?
But, once she started feeling better, she started wolfing down everything we put in front of her! She'll still throw the occasional item on the floor, but whereas before she refused to even try something new. Now, as long as I don't make a huge deal about it, she'll pop just about anything in her mouth. Yesterday she ate a quarter cup of green beans! GREEN BEANS! This child doesn't eat veggies!!! The occasional floret of broccoli, yes, but I've had no luck with other veggies, despite MANY repeat attempts. The other day, she ate 2 brussell sprouts (ewwww!!!) and a handful of peas! Who is this hungry child that has replaced my non-eating Natalie? Because I LOVE HER! Haha.

The talking has also changed suddenly. She has become quite a parrot (ok Mommy, note to self - time to start watching what you say around her...) and will repeat just about anything you tell her to. "Natalie, say waffle. Natalie, say book."  I'm beginning to appreciate the parental ability to interpret your child's language... and every day she surprises me with another word that she's picked up. My favorite is clock... Natalie will point to a clock, digital or analog, on the wall or on your wrist, and excitedly proclaim, "CLOCK!" Though, she hasn't quite gotten the "L" sound down, so she actually has another choice word for this item. Daddy is not at all pleased.

Also, her comprehension is out of this world. We can go through a book and I can ask her, "Natalie, where's Elmo? Where's Cookie Monster?" and she will accurately identify her beloved characters page by page. If I say, "Natalie, go give your dolly her milk!" she goes right to the correct toy and knows how to make it work. It's so awesome to watch that little brain at work... we've got a clever little lady on our hands, that's for sure!

But since getting over her illness, she has transformed into this delightful, happy, pleasant little girl, and it's been absolutely wonderful. I know it's only a taste of the amazingness that is to come as she continues to grow and develop. I'm just so happy she's really making strides (literally) and starting to "catch up" in all areas!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Taking Flight

In five days, we are flying to California. With Natalie in tow. Her very first flight. And of course it has to be a trans-continental flight, not a little jaunt to Boston or Chicago or something. I'm not going to lie and say that I haven't been suffering from major anxiety over it. Both the unknown of Natalie's behavior on her first flight, and the I've been constantly reassured by many fellow moms, that everything will be fine and I'm worrying over nothing. But - we've ALL been on a plane when there's been a baby wailing for the ENTIRE flight, and as much as you want to be sympathetic and feel for that child, it's annoying. Perhaps your feelings change once you have children of your own... maybe it does. But I know that the last time I flew a significant distance and a child cried incessantly, it drove me nuts. And I don't want my child to be at fault for irritating a plane full of California-bound passengers for SEVEN HOURS. Sure, I'm exaggerating... I really don't think Natalie will cry the entire time. I'm kind of hoping she won't cry or scream at all. But, I know that I struggled with my ears as a child (and even often as an adult) on takeoff and landing, and that part concerns me. That said, the only thing more annoying than a crying baby on a plane is a kid kicking the back of your seat the entire time. At least I can rest assured we won't have that problem - her little legs aren't long enough for that to even be an issue!
I was also slightly concerned about what I was going to do about feeding her properly while in transit. I am packing a ton of finger foods and snacks to offer her as the flight progresses, but she will likely need a proper meal (or two) while we're in flight, and I have no idea how that will be properly accomplished, especially since they no longer feed you on flights (at least not for free...). I also know the rules for bringing liquids on a plane are ridiculously stringent, and that doesn't help for a child who is reliant on organic whole milk and yogurt for the majority of her nutrition. And I certainly won't have a toaster on board to make her a frozen waffle, or a microwave for oatmeal. It's not as if I can't find milk or yogurt in the airport, but I'd really rather stick to what she's used to if at all possible. I mean, the world won't come to an end if she has to drink regular (GASP!) whole milk instead of organic for a bottle or two, but still... I knew there had to be some way around it. Breastfeeding Moms are allowed to bring pumped breastmilk on a plane, and I can't imagine they limit them to only 3 oz... so why wouldn't the rules apply to us non-breastfeeding parents as well? My Mom did some research, and it turns out, the rules are indeed bendable. So I can bring her some milk and yogurt, as long as we pack it separately and they are able to inspect it closely. At least that's according to the TSA website. I'm bringing the printout from which we obtained that information, just in case we run into any issues. Anyone whose ever traveled out of Philadelphia International Airport knows that you never know WHAT to expect when it comes to security... here's to hoping the lines aren't too crazy at 5:45 am on a Saturday.

The other good news is, there will be four adults that can help distract/entertain her - we are flying with my parents, so that will be a big help. Especially because Natalie is nutso for her Nana and Grandpa. But... I'm still having anxiety. It is a LONG time for a little person to be forced to "sit still." Hopefully we can take turns walking her up and down the aisle (one of her favorite activities is walking while holding someone's hands....) and the variety of parents/grandparents she'll have will keep her occupied. But... I'm still nervous.
I've already packed and re-packed her diaper bag about six times... trying to figure out which toys have the most significance, and which have the most potential to keep her attention the longest. Making sure I have enough finger foods and snacks to keep her full/happy. We were very fortunate to have inherited my Mom's "old" iPad when she invested in a newer model, so I've loaded that up with episodes of Wonder Pets, Sesame Street, Olivia, and plenty of games for Natalie to play with us. I bought some crayons and a blank pad of paper to see if we can get her to do some coloring (per the pediatrician's suggestion, too). I know I am worrying unnecessarily... and I'm sure everyone is right, that things will be fine. I haven't even begun to THINK about how this trip is going to throw off Natalie's schedule and habits - that's a whole other issue I will stress about when the time comes, LOL. But I won't be totally satisfied and de-stressed about the traveling issue until we land in Los Angeles on Saturday and can begin our much needed vacation!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Food Frustration

I am a crappy blogger, and realized that I haven't had anything to say about the star of this blog since her birthday. Bad Mommy.
Anyway - Natalie is 14 1/2 months old now, and turning into an incredible little lady. She is chattering up a storm, with actual words interspersed in her baby babble. Everything is "ELMO!!!" or "woof woof," or "puffs!" She says Mama and Dada also, and a few other things here and there. I know that, any day now, she's going to start talking conversationally! She's also working on walking - she's taken a few steps on her own, though she doesn't quite trust herself to do it consistently. But if we hold her hands, she'll practically run around the house, giggling as she goes! She still only has her two front teeth in the bottom, though when she smiles I can definitely see a few more that are just below the surface, waiting to push through. It's like everything is going to happen at once, and this is all the calm before the storm!
One area in which she is not excelling, unfortunately, is her eating. We began transitioning her from pureed baby food to table food around November - very slowly at first. Giving her a few bites of age appropriate foods before offering her the purees. At first she did OK - seemed to enjoy being able to self-feed and explore new tastes and textures. But as we increased the amount of table food we were giving her, the more she rejected it. Even things that I knew she liked in pureed form, like sweet potatoes, green beans, and bananas, she was rejecting in their solid form. But I wanted to be patient - let her explore the solids at her own pace, and that eventually it would pick up and she'd transition effortlessly. But it didn't happen as quickly as we would have liked.
We had a little bit of a scare back in January... I took her for her 12 month checkup, and she'd barely gained a pound since her last appointment in October. I freaked. The pediatrician told me it was nothing to really worry about - that she had become mobile since October (crawling) and that burned a lot of extra calories. But from everything I'd read, they should be eating enough calories to make up for the calories they are burning. I know that babies gradually slow down from the very rapid weight gain many of them experience in their newborn months, but this seemed overly disconcerting to me, especially since Natalie's weight had been a concern of ours since day one of her tiny little life. I disclosed to the doc that Natalie had not been eating well - in some cases, even rejecting her beloved purees. She was not very open to trying new things, even when I was CERTAIN she would like them. And this is not for lack of trying on our part. Reintroducing things day after day, and still having no luck. And of course it wasn't helping that the Facebook and social peanut gallery was offering me suggestions and asking things like, "have you tried this? have you done that? you really need to do x, y, and z..." - as if I wasn't trying EVERYTHING in the world to try to get this kid to eat. It was painfully reminiscent of our exhausting breastfeeding struggles which ended in an epic fail... but failure wasn't an option here. We had no choice, we had to get Natalie eating properly.
Once again, the doctor said we really shouldn't be concerned... that as long as she wasn't losing weight, everything was OK. But I was not fully convinced.
So, I called in reinforcements... Montgomery County Early Intervention Services.
While Natalie was in the NICU, our case worker had informed us of this program, and how we'd be eligible for services essentially until she was 2, due to her prematurity and low birth weight. And every few months since she was born, I'd been filling out questionnaires to submit to them to help them "track" her progress. If ever anything came up suspicious on the forms, they would contact me for elaboration.
In any case, emailed our case worker and let her know that I had some concerns about Natalie's eating and weight gain. They dispatched their evaluation team, consisting of the case worker herself, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, and a behavioral therapist. They conducted their eval of Natalie and determined that, though she was measuring ahead of her adjusted age in every other area, that yes, there likely were some issues with her feeding and they were going to refer us to a team of a dietician and an OT to help work on solving the problem.
Upon meeting with the dietician the first time, and explaining to her what Natalie WOULD eat, and the things that I'd tried to offer her that she had rejected, it was decided that yes, we were on the right track, and no, there was nothing major we could be doing differently, save from a few tips and suggestions. The following week, the Occupational Therapist came, and we began exploring the problem. We determined that a lot of Natalie's issues were texture-related, which is not at all uncommon in premature children. And that some of her resistance was simply her learning that she has an opinion and is able to exert her independence by sharing it. And it was a way for her to be able to control part of her life... something she had previously not been able to do.
The truth of the matter is, she wasn't going to starve. Even if one or two meals a day were less than sufficient, she was still getting the nutrition and calories to help sustain her from her 3 times daily bottles of formula or milk (we were in the process of transitioning her at this time, too). But, I feel strongly about successfully weaning her from a bottle before she's 18 months... so I didn't want to rely too heavily on the bottle, when I knew we just had to keep plugging away with the solids. She LOVES her breakfasts... will often times eat two full Eggo waffles, the better part of a banana, sliced strawberries, or a (200 calorie!) bowl of grown-up oatmeal. So, we know she's getting more than enough food at breakfast. It's the subsequent meals that are a struggle. Especially proteins. Yogurt is always a go-to food for us - she will pretty much eat it, in any flavor, at any time. But beyond that... we have trouble. And don't get me wrong - there are a few things that Natalie will eat, and eat a decent quantity of, at that. But I never know what those things are going to be. I really wanted to avoid the much-criticized "American-kid-mac-and-cheese-chicken-nugget" diet, but I completely and totally understand why it's so popular - as these are two foods that kids will actually eat!  And even those things, as delicious as they are, she rejects sometimes. There are days that she blows my mind, and will eat everything I offer her. And other days when she would rather fire her grapes on the floor and make a mess of her tray than put anything in her mouth.
It's terribly exhausting and frustrating... and I wish there was just a magic solution that would fix it. I know it's not uncommon for kids to be picky, but Natalie's issues are beyond those of a picky eater. And I also know eventually she will work it out. But it's just another thing to check off on my list of "term baby envies" that I have running in my mind. I'm so happy for my friends and their children when I hear of the amazing milestones that they achieve and how easy things are for them... but I can't help but get a little down and feel slightly jealous sometimes too!
All of that said, Natalie is happy and healthy, and according to the dietician's scale, she had gained nearly 2 pounds in the 6 weeks since her January pediatrician appointment, so obviously something is working. But, it's still tough and mealtimes, admittedly, are my least favorite times of the day. Here's to hoping things improve soon!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Common Courtesy

This is not a baby related post. This is a "Lindy is pissed off at people" post. So brace yourselves.
Let me begin by saying that I am sick and tired of being so damned nice. That said, I will elaborate.

I am a compulsive Outlook/iPhone calendar scheduler. I update my Outlook calendar on my computer almost daily and make sure to sync my iPhone calendar every night, so anything I've added on either end is current. I live my life by that schedule. God help the day that I lose my phone or my computer crashes and my calendar isn't up to date.
But being such an obsessive scheduler, I feel as though it makes me a more effective wife, mom, and friend. I always know where I have to be and can check my availability at a moment's notice.
I also understand that not everyone can be as organized/scheduled as me. However, I believe that I am extending the most common of courtesies to my friends when we try to find a time to get together -  I check my calendar, and offer them multiple dates and times (somewhat far in advance, I might add) that might work for a rendez-vous.
So what truly pisses me off is when I offer these small gestures to help simplify life, and send emails or texts with my availability, and (some) people do not return the courtesy by even acknowledging my offer(s).

DISCLAIMER: I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND that we are a busy society and can't always respond to our friends ASAP. But come on, at least an acknowledgement in a reasonable amount of time would be appreciated. Instead, the day before one of my suggested meeting times, I feel as though I am scrambling to get in touch with the person to see if they are intending to meet up with me. And 9 out of 10 times, I get an excuse.
And here I am, keeping these proposed dates free, waiting for these people to find a time that they can "fit me in." Yet... why should I?
I am a very busy lady too. Between being a wife, a mommy, working two jobs, playing soccer, volunteering for Bark for Life, and going to the gym... I have a lot of shit going on. And I strive to still make time for the people I care about. Hence, the forward scheduling and planning. And it really feels sorta yucky when I get the feeling that people can't find or make time for me, despite my efforts to offer them SEVERAL options.
I always say I am going to just stop doing it. Not chase people down. Let them come to me if they want to see me. But I sort of know in my heart of hearts that they might not. And perhaps I should be recognizing this as a hint? That I am really not on their priority list of people for whom to make time.


Don't get me wrong. I don't expect to be everyone's best friend or top priority. But my friends mean a lot to me. And yes, I have an abundance of them. But variety is the spice of life and the people in my life shape me into who I am. Some of these "friends" are merely people I see a few times a year for a quick meal or cup of coffee. But I still like knowing that they are there and a part of my life, and knowing what's going on with them, if they want me to. I feel like Facebook and other social networking outlets have killed that face time for a lot of us; people feel like if they stay in touch electronically, that is sufficient. But it's not for me. I like the one on one time. I like seeing someone's face, talking to them in person, and feeling their physical presence around me. Even if it's only once every couple of weeks/months.

So again, I am too damn nice.

I guess I just don't want to feel that rejection. I've felt it a lot more than I care to admit in my life, and I don't particularly like it. Especially after the amount of effort I've personally made to maintain friendships. But perhaps it is just time for me to accept reality and let people go. I don't have to be on everyone's priority list, but for God's sake people... return my efffing emails or texts. Even if it's just to reject all of my suggestions, or tell me that you're too busy and have too much going on, or can't commit to a time. I can handle that. But don't just ignore me and then think you can pop up the day before (or the day of!) and ask me to hang out, most likely knowing full well that I am not available or have since made other plans. That's sneaky and shitty and I don't appreciate it. If you don't want to hang out, just tell me. But I get that you don't want to hurt my feelings. Well guess what, you are hurting my feelings by ignoring me and conveniently "forgetting" to respond to my inquiries when I've gone to significant lengths to find times I can fit you in. That hurts even more. So fuck you people.
I mean, really, I'm not an idiot. This is the mother-effing electronic age. Most of us check our email or FB or phones multiple times in a day (if not an hour...)

That's all I'm sayin'.
Ok I feel better. :)

**Let me also just add in here, that I am in NO WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM downplaying those of my friends and acquaintances who ARE good about communication and scheduling! I love you and appreciate you all for that! Let's make plans to get together! I'm free __________, __________, and __________! LOL**