Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sniffles Won't Stop Our Party


Calder was awfully tired all day on his birthday and by Thursday we figured out it was because he had a cold. Poor guy. Here I was all bothered that he wasn’t grinning ear to ear for his photos and he was feeling under the weather. His coming down with something was not a shocker, given all the people who’d been in the home on Sunday for the shower. Besides, the photos still turned out well; the photographer did manage to capture at least a few smiles, so my kudos to her! In fact, she may have spoiled me, and I will be scheduling some fall photos for him in DC. Hey, I didn’t get engagement photos, so I’m allowed one extra photo shoot, right, Kraemer?


gossiping? negotiating?
what's going on here.
 
Speaking of birthdays and illnesses, what would a milestone with Calder be without a little drama? We had consulted with three different doctors about Calder being given the opportunity to participate in the latest baby birthday fad: the smash cake. Each physician said it would be fine, no caveats (well, okay, since we asked Ginny before having tested the dairy, she said just as long as he wasn’t allergic.) Predictably, because why *wouldn’t* this happen to us on his birthday, Calder had a reaction to the cake. Minutes after I carried him from his high chair (yes, the high chair you see in these photos dates back to my time in the seat, and, I believe, even about a year earlier, to my cousin’s time) to the kitchen in his skivvies I noticed some red splotchiness across his chest and his arms, each splotch accompanied by a small raised dot in the center. I’d never seen hives but this had to be it. 

So I got the doctor on call on the horn because, well, I’m starting to get over my hesitation about calling doctors after hours (justified now, I think, given my past experience). She listened patiently to my standard delivery of Calder’s history and then asked whether, per chance, there was dye in the icing for the cake and whether it might just have been blue? Why, yes, yes, it had. She proceeded to tell me that it’s very common for babies to have a reaction to blue food dye in particular, that fortunately when they are this young it’s highly doubtful that they are even experiencing much discomfort and that I shouldn’t be alarmed if the hives reappear over the next several weeks randomly after a nap or a bath.

Crisis averted.

Kraemer is convinced his first word
needs to be and will be "giraffe."
Flash forward a couple days later when Calder experiences a pretty intense bout of coughing to the point where he cannot seem to catch his breath and to such a disturbing degree that we basically have the whole family packed into the car on a Saturday night and about to head to the emergency room. Of course, Kraemer was able to slow the panic train down and ask whether I’d called the doctor. Got the doc on the phone (aaahgain, aaafter hours, different doc, fortunately), and she told me he was probably fine unless, you know, he REALLY couldn’t breathe, and that we should just call our pediatrician first thing Monday morning. We did, he prescribed two different steroids to be administered via the nebulizer, and Calder already has demonstrated marked improvement.

This week held a couple other big firsts. He had his first trip to the zoo, this time with his dad, Getch and Grandad. I heard he was more interested in his Wubbanub than the wildlife, but I’m sure this time next year he’ll be all about those monkeys since he is, arguable, one himself.

He also took his first dip in the pool, which we were optimistic would be a hit given his love of all things water, and if his spastic legs are any indication, he was having a pretty dang good time.
I got this



 

The car ride home, by the way, was amazing. AMAZING. We stopped for gas, stopped at a rest stop, stopped for DQ (that’s right. Always time for Dairy Queen when you ain’t dairy-free.) But most impressively, Calder slept for 2.5 hours right off the bat. Then another one. Then another two. And then we were home. If he’s this good when traveling, maybe I’ll take him on another vacation someday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Happy birthday, baby!!
An Anderson tradition...
Awakened on your bday by the camera,
whether you like it or not.
Calder, just in case I don’t write it down anywhere else, know that we love you so, so, so much and are so proud of you. One year ago today almost feels like another lifetime, you’ve come so far. I wouldn’t trade a minute of it! Every day your dad and I tell the other one at least once how happy you make us.

And how much we like you. That's a real compliment. Loving you is a given, but liking you, well, that took talent on your part.


We kicked the day off with some professional photos. Our very first photo shoot with Calder took place a few weeks after he came home and wasn’t so hot. We rescheduled it multiple times since Calder was still in such a fragile state, and I had to be sure that even the photographer’s kids’ best friends were healthy (no, not really, but I did make sure we rescheduled until his little girls were all over their fevers.) It was a mini-shoot, and I felt rushed. It didn’t really work out because there was no flexibility to allow us to let him wake up a little bit more, take a nap, take a bottle, etc., and this unideal scenario came through in the final product. This time, we were scheduled for a 6pm shoot but with his new schedule we were worried he’d be grumpy, and with the little party we had planned, we were concerned we’d have too much going on at once. At the last minute, we rescheduled for first thing in the morning. Of course, when he woke up he all but refused his usual second-breakfast bottle, leaving him hungry, I’m sure, and he didn’t perk up from his morning stupor as quickly as he normally does. Go figure. He was … not grumpy, but placid. Not our usual smiley-pants. Once again, thwarted! But the photographer said she got all she needed within 30 or 45 minutes, assuring us he was smiling, so I’ll take her for her word. He’s cute, I’m sure we’ll be satisfied.
The family shindig tonight was truly delightful. I would go so far as to say it met and exceeded Pinterest standards, if you know what I mean. The theme, because every one-year-old’s party requires a theme nowadays, was inspired by one of the Gaelic meanings of Calder’s name, “rocky river.” My mom and sisters put together a grand party full of cutesy fish (including stuffed ones, sewn with love by my mother- and father-in-law), fishing-inspired snacks, a delicious dinner, a blue smash cake and an official birthday cake (made by Kristen’s sister-in-law) that had us all in awe when it arrived. I was scared to move the masterpiece.


Most significantly, though, having so much of our family there was so important and very special to us, from Kraemer’s parents to my immediate family, my grandma and some of my aunts/uncles/cousins who could make it, including family up from Louisville. We are so grateful they made time, not just tonight, but on various occasions throughout this year.






Happily, Calder’s birthday was a very joyous occasion for me. Leading up to this day, I’d had many other moms of preemies caution me about uninvited emotions that might creep up throughout the day as I reflected on what today one year ago involved: a lot of uncertainty, fear, exhaustion, grief, guilt. But there was love too, joy and lots of hope. Since that day, we have come to know so many wonderful people, from Calder’s nurses and doctors in the NICU to the physicians he continues to see today. There are other moms of preemies whose listening ears, encouraging words and advice from experience have been indispensable. Then there have been the family and friends who have been with us every step of the way, at the very least by reading this blog (and knowing that was a bigger support to us than you might realize) and definitely there when we needed them most. And so, with our baby home and healthy and with so much love for him from so many people, today was a very happy day indeed.


paparazzi
he wore a lot of outfits today.
so here we are in his birthday suit, of course.
calder, i might be a little over the top, but
be glad that i post the modest ones.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Home is Where the Heart is

It had been 1.5 years since I’d been back to Cincinnati. I’ve never been afraid to venture far from home, but I never like to be away for long. Even when I took my fellowship in India I lived there for only a year (er, almost a year, but that’s another story), and as I’ve settled in various other states or traveled to other countries, I’ve always come home – for Christmas, for weddings, for something. But not this time. This time, the last time I was home was January 2013, to celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday. While that sounds like “only” last year, it’s actually been 18 months, and some of those months have been, well, really long ones.


So here we are, 143 NICU-nights, countless liters of oxygen, four mickey buttons, and one additional Lovelace later, back in the Queen City. J

The car ride was, not heinous but, not as smooth as one would have liked. Kraemer was flying out to his best friend’s bachelor party and meeting us in Cincinnati later, so my mom took one for the team and faced her ultimate flying fear to meet me in DC only to make the unpredictable drive back home. It took us 10 hours as opposed to the normal 7.5 to 8, with stops at two or three rest stops, a gas station or two and a quick standing (literally) lunch at Subway, where Calder was enthralled by the ice machine, which did nicely as a distraction from the sandwich I tried cramming into my mouth when he wasn’t looking.

Since we’ve been here the man has been a crawling fiend. We postulated that the carpet would give him the traction to get moving, literally, and it did. Furthermore, he cannot get enough of all his playmates, contentedly moving from one set of arms to the next. Even though we are out of quarantine for the summer, our pulmonologist cautioned us against letting anyone but family hold him, especially with the exposure to an all-new environment to begin with. (My mom had posted up the dog, had the carpets cleaned and generally scoured the house from top to bottom in preparation for his arrival – hopefully Calder has displayed the proper amount of appreciation for all this hard work!) But we have plenty of family to go around, and Calder has been constantly entertained. Or entertaining, I suppose.

places to go, people to see

that's right, ladies. hands on hips.
On our second day in town my mom, Ashleigh and I hosted a shower for Jen, so the house was a-tizzy all day Saturday and Sunday. But I have never had so much fun throwing a party! Calder made a quick appearance to say thank you for all those sweet, loyal blog followers who happened to be in attendance. Of course, we like to show him off, and sometimes it’s a little reminiscent of this. No pressure, Calder. (Honestly, when I first planned the party I wasn’t even thinking about how Calder would be in the same place and potentially exposed to lots of germs, and it did not even occur to me until probably days beforehand. Alas, we did our best to stow him away but cuteness cannot always be stopped.)

Yesterday was Kraemer’s birthday. He flew into town late Sunday night and his loving wife and MIL picked him up from the Dayton airport at midnight, promptly wishing him a happy birthday as he walked out of the terminal. His parents arrived in town yesterday afternoon, and we celebrated with enough City BBQ to feed an army.

 

dad, give me all your presents. or just the wrapping paper.
Did I mention Calder also got to meet his great grandma? J


Gosh, it’s been good to be home! For my sister to finally get to squeeze Calder after only seeing him a few days after his birth, only through the plastic of his isolette; Calder to get to meet his great-grandma; me to get to see some high school friends I hadn’t seen for years. Each year I seem to appreciate family and friends more than before, and this year was no different. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Unsurprisingly, after our first foray into the world a couple weeks ago, Calder came down with his first cold outside of the NICU. I gave him the treatment I've learned to give myself, which is sleep, sleep and more sleep, which he did not protest against in the least. Lucky for us it did not really seem to affect his breathing too terribly – he had a bit of a cough (outside of his typical coughing) and a slightly stuffy nose, but he recovered in about a week’s time.

I’m also happy to report that he started crawling today. He had been pushing himself with his feet to climb over my legs, the back of our glider, etc., but hadn't yet translated it to the floor. He appears to be skipping over the kind of crawl where you drag your belly (can’t blame him) and launching right into knee-crawling. His “crawl” wasn't a smooth one-hand-in-front-of-other coordinated with a movement of each leg, but he did manage to inch himself across about three feet of the mat. I’m counting it. We expect that when we get to Cincinnati next week where my parents have plenty of carpeted floor, Calder might be a little more comfortable and have a little more traction to work with.

We also recently celebrated Kraemer’s first official Father’s Day. Kraemer was getting over a cold but that made it a perfect day to take it easy (silver lining, right?) In between World Cup matches, Kraemer took his little man out and about the neighborhood and hung out in the shade of a tree on the lawn of a school just around the corner. We don’t have much of a lawn at our own little row home but thankfully public parks and other green grassy areas abound. I also captured some super adorable shots of the father-son duo in matching bow ties that I have been forbidden from posting, mostly because Kraemer doesn't do matching and only posed to please his wife. J They’re awfully cute, though. Maybe if you petition Kraemer to let me post them he’ll let you see.





And PS. Have I mentioned how much Calder likes yogurt? Oh wait?! Have I mentioned that we are easing him into dairy? When we saw Ginny a little over a week ago she told us that instead of introducing dairy via my supply – where if it did not work I’d have to wait two weeks again before it was out of my system, and why waste all that milk? – we could just test the yogurt with him directly. I've figured out that there are different levels, you could say, of dairy, with some stuff having greater potential to cause a reaction than others. If it’s been cooked or otherwise processed in some way, the structure of the protein has changed and may be more digestible for them, for example. I found this plan online, which is clearly British (um, fish pie?), although by the time I located it we were already onto yogurt and even had given him some butter in our homemade pureed carrots. So now that I know he tolerates that, guess what’s next? Yogurt for ME!!! Followed closely by ice cream because, hey, according to the Brits its in the same category, isn't it?



He doesn't appear to have gained much weight, still hovering just below the 18-pound mark. Ginny doesn't seem concerned so for now, neither will we be. He has been eating much better and more consistently now that we've spaced his feeds out more, and sometimes he is so eager to eat whatever puree we have whipped up and ready for him that he nearly kicks himself out of his seat. Since we've been weaning him from the tube, she wasn't surprised that his weight has leveled off and still told us to start dropping the tube feeds entirely. Moving right along, thank you very much!