Friday, November 21, 2014

Fall Photomontage

It's hard to believe that a year ago last Friday, Calder was coming home. He has made such major strides since then, and we know we could not be more blessed to be where we are today. 

And I definitely need to sear this mommy stage into my memory. I am well aware that moms go unappreciated sometimes since I'm pretty sure I was guilty of it myself back in the day. I know that teens can go through their stages and I intend to get myself through it by remembering Calder clinging to me, crying when I'm not the one to put him to bed, never leaving me alone in a room long if he knows I'm in the house and giving me big, big hugs.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Tubie No More

pondering life
Oy, time flies. I’ve been saying for weeks that I was at least going to write an entry commemorating his G-tube removal but look – even that now is almost two months past! Yes, it’s true, Calder is now G-tube-free. The event was thankfully uneventful. Shortly after my last entry in August, Calder’s site became quite angry looking, and then the first week of September he contracted a bit of a small cold, so I was a little uncertain what the word would be when we finally got in for our one-month weight check. Since I took him in for a sick visit we wound up just using that weight, which was 18 lbs 12 oz on September 12; Ginny said that was just a little bit shy of what was ideal, but she gave us the green light to take it out. She told us some families preferred to leave it in through cold and flu season in case when (not if, you see) the child got sick and possibly lost his appetite, he could still receive nourishment through the tube. Her opinion was clear. Based on all her past interactions with Kraemer, she said she imagined we would not be one of those families, and she noted that if necessary, we could always put it back in. Not that that was a real reassurance for me – I never want to have to put it back in, not because he gets sick, not because he suddenly develops a stronger oral aversion, not for any reason ever!! Still, because he was getting over a cold we did decided to wait a few days to remove it, mostly because should there be any issues with the site healing, I certainly didn’t want him to have an infection and a cold at the same time. No thanks.
sun-protected. we picked the hottest pumpkin-picking day

Kraemer removed the tube on Monday night, September 22. I was in Belgium for work, so I missed the momentous occasion, but I got to come home to a textbook result (some leak, some get infected, some require surgery, usually when they've been in a longer period of time.) The site healed overnight, mostly, he told me, with no leakage. This scar will definitely be more noticeable than the scar from his heart surgery, but a badge of honor, nonetheless.

rough-housing at the botanical gardens
After my return home, we spent the last week of September interviewing nannies, with the hope that we’d have one picked out and hired by the time we left for Italy on October 3. No dice. Long story short, our dear, wonderful parents took turns watching Calder while we were in Italy, and then Kraemer took over once we’d returned. We took back up with the interviews, and after a couple of hiccups, finally landed a very sweet, competent woman to keep Calder company. I’d put off and put off the interviews in the first place, I think because subconsciously I was really struggling with leaving someone else to raise my child during the day. Perhaps we’ll return to that discussion sometime in the future, but for now, we are so happy to have found Virginia.

Little sicky (ok, this was when he was
sick over the summer, but you feel his
pain, right?!)
To our chagrin, we returned from Italy and from a fabulous Ohio wedding (Jennifer Hunter!!), to a snotty Calder. This time, his being sick was a doozy and really took its toll on all of us. He was sick for over two weeks and even now sometimes has a cough. We went back to nebulizing him multiple times daily with both albuterol and budesonide, and we will now be nebulizing him with the latter throughout the remainder of the season. For several nights I was tortured by his rapid breathing and torn about whether to take him in overnight; even when I know exactly what signs of respiratory distress to look for, rapid breathing is never a comfort. Furthermore, Calder wasn’t eating, he wasn’t sleeping, and neither were we (Kraemer wound up getting really sick, and me sorta sick.) A colleague informed me later that sleeplessness is a side effect of the albuterol, lucky us. I cannot even fathom doing this again this winter. Because of his being sick over the summer and sick to such a degree in early fall, we will be keeping him quarantined to a higher degree than we anticipated. Also, both fortunately and unfortunately (fortunately because I want him to be protected and unfortunately because I wish he did not still qualify as so vulnerable), he qualified for a second year for Synagis, the vaccine for RSV. I heard that it was quite tough to qualify this year (and you may remember from my entries last year that the vaccine is by dosed by weight and obscenely expensive), so we are happy that Calder has this extra oomph of protection.

Once Calder was mostly back in good health, we had a consult with an occupational therapist, who has recommended OT for Calder once a week, as well as an increase in speech therapy, as well as a feeding consult. In general, Calder does a pretty decent job of feeding himself finger foods but could stand to improve his pincer grasp; he is oftentimes mushing food in the vicinity of his mouth rather than placing it directly in, although he gets the job done. The feeding consult was recommended on account of his loss of appetite, or perhaps an increase in his oral aversion, but ultimately, I think the setback mostly came as a result of his sickness. Now about a week or so later, he is eating much better, though still not as consistently or with as much excitement as before. Perhaps the novelty has worn off. If the feeding consult comes to fruition, we’ll find out.  But he is making great strides in physical therapy, taking to his walker with renewed vigor. Cristiane thinks he’ll be walking within 1.5-2 months.

On that note, Kraemer and I both witnessed Calder take at least eight steps today, unassisted. What fun it is to see. Look out, world!

Saturday, August 16, 2014


first attempt on rocking horse. not so sure.
This week our main event was seeing Ginny, our GI nurse practitioner. Kraemer has been taking him to his last few doctor appointments, catching up to the number of trips to the docs I accrued while I was on leave. By now, my turn has swung back around.

However, going this time meant I got the privilege of hearing what Kraemer has been hearing for weeks now, that Calder is the wonder child. It’s really important for me to step back and comprehend the magnitude of the change, the huge strides Calder has made in such a short amount of time. It’s okay for the doctors to say it, but somehow it’s not okay for me because it still feels too early to fully believe that he escaped prematurity with so few major issues. Long term? We’ll have to see about that. He could still have some developmental issues. He still isn’t the world’s best eater, we’re just a little slow to come around. But these are nitpicky small things. Big picture, this boy is AMAZING. He is ROCKING IT. Ginny worked in the NICU for five years many, many years ago, and although she’s far removed at this point, she still sees in her line of work many of the children that leave it. She tells her colleagues (who also left the NICU long ago) that they would just not believe the progress she has seen. She said they used to kiss the 23 and 24 weekers before they rolled them out of the room, knowing they wouldn’t return. So for her to see Calder here, so alert, so healthy, so alive, that’s a bigger deal than sometimes even I can fathom.

on-sock wonder,
saying hello to the Justices
Oh, annnnd she said he looked like Kraemer. I expressed surprise (because very few people say that, but perhaps only to me, maybe they say it more to Kraemer). I think she took my surprise as offense, so she hurriedly pointed out that that was a good thing, that Kraemer was a good looking man. I laughed. Obviously, I said, I think so too.

Calder still has the tube. He’s 18.5 lbs, which, as I’ve said before, even though Kraemer and I felt like he’d really stagnated, she said is fantastic. He’s still way on the low end of the scale, but he’s caught up in height and therefore is pretty much right smack dab where he’s supposed to be in terms of weight to height ratio. She told us to quit fortifying the breastmilk we are giving him, which we’d been doing to 24 calories (breastmilk averages about 20 calories per ounce), and see how his growth progresses without that additional push. We are to come in in one month for a weight check, and if he’s still on track, out comes the tube. Interestingly, as long as the stoma still looks as good as it does now (no granulation tissue, no leaking, no infection, a pretty pink color) we’ll just take it out ourselves (two hours after the last meal before bed) and slap a Band-Aid on. We will need to send her a photo right before we do it just so she can double-check that everything is copacetic. She suggested we do it on a Monday so that we have all week to call in if we have issues. If all goes well, it’ll be mostly closed by morning; if not, we’ll need to keep a close eye on it for leakage, and perhaps take him in for surgery.

In other news, we’re moving this weekend. Not far, really - about 10 blocks, and from G St to E St. Even so, as we get all packed up our small rowhouse has become a maze of cardboard boxes. Disaster zone.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

An Apple a Day ...

Why settle for one Wubbanub
when you could have two? At once?
Best cube ever!

The persons who gifted Calder this bib
shall remain anonymous. :)
About a week after our return from Cincinnati, we took Calder for his one-year check-up with the pediatrician. Kraemer took him, which means I don’t know his exact weight, but I think it was 17 lbs 15 oz, or something in that vicinity. We told her we were concerned about his meeting the mark (sometimes I wonder whether he’s shrinking), and she told Kraemer we were crazy! That Calder was bigger than her kids were at this age. Again, something like that, and keeping in mind that she had a 28-week preemie, so who knows what the baseline was for that comment. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t on the charts this time. Regardless, she said not to worry, that he was doing great. Another nurse who had been here the first time we brought him in -- the day after his discharge – was astonished at his progress. What mom doesn’t want to hear that? So, hey, I’m happy.

Otherwise, not much news. Calder came home, opened all his birthday presents (with only a little help), and played with all his toys. Normal kid stuff. In some ways, we’ve really left the whole preemie thing behind us. He still sees physical therapy once a week, every week, and speech therapy every other week, but other than that, we now see doctors maybe a couple times a month as opposed to three times a week.

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.

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.