I started this post last month, but Jack has been doing so many things that I can’t keep up….let’s just say, he is definitely a toddler who is nearing age 2! Since there are so many things going on, I’ll have to stick with a list:
- Jack has added between 15-20 signs to his vocabulary. Here are a few: all done, milk/bottle, drink, eat, cereal, fish, wind, sleep, baby, brush teeth, please, hat, and CAR (his favorite). He sometimes wakes up signing “car.” And then points to all the cars and trucks on his sheets…quizzing me to make sure I know the difference. He also asks to brush his teeth often by signing it!
- Jack has a few words too: mom, dad, cheese, good, poo (?)
- Just a few minutes ago, Jack used a fork without help to eat some of his mac & cheese. He also “fed” his stuffed puppy & Mickey Mouse yesterday!
- He is definitely walking, no more falling, and sometimes running too! It’s so cute to hear his little feet slapping the floor when he runs!
- He blows kisses and hugs and even gives kisses to Mama when he’s feeling extra affectionate.
- He can climb up our stairs and go back down on his belly (feet first) very fast. He can also climb on every chair in the house and sometimes on the tables too. Note: Jeff and I have some differences in our parenting…when Jack does this type of stuff for the first time, I run to get the camera because I’m so proud. Jeff yells for him to get down!
- Jack knows that he does not like sitting in his stroller when he could be out WALKING! He also does not enjoy being in the stroller at outdoor restaurants either…because he could be…you guessed it…WALKING! (Does the obsession with walking ever dissipate? If the answer is NO, please don’t tell me.)
- Jack isn’t ashamed to clap for himself. Even after he flushes the toilet. (No, he is not using the potty yet…just loves to flush.)
- Jack loves to put stuff away (not his toys).
- He is getting very good at following directions and is often helpful with chores, like laundry and cleaning up a spill or putting something in the fridge.
- Jack did go through a hoarding phase where he put everything, and I mean everything, in his ball pit. I found a phone book and he even put in a plastic container of leftover beef. The hoarding has calmed, but if I can’t find something…I always check the ball pit.
- Jack and his team participated in the March of Dimes “March for Babies” in April and I just found out that we were one of the top fundraising family teams. How cool! Thanks to all who participated or donated.
- Jack went to the Fractured Prune today for his first taste of their fresh donuts. He did like the donut, but was more impressed with the traffic in Lancaster city!
- He’s had a few more playdates with cousins Carly & Emma, whom he loves. Although Carly was pretty ticked when “Jackers” splashed her! Jack also loves their mom, Tera…he looks at her with such adoration! I think he knows that she has a little boy in her belly…his cousin Brady!
- When Jack pretends “sleeping”…he snorts…because he thinks sleeping involves snoring ever since I fell asleep on the couch while he & Jeff were playing.
- Jack (and Jeff and I) will be part of the Penn State Hershey Children’s Miracle Network Telethon on Sunday (10:30a-12:30p). This year’s funds will go to the NICU!
- Jack enjoys bringing me things from the trashcan. Gross!
- He loves to watch his Baby Signing Time videos. He has learned A LOT of signs!
- Jack and mommy were in the Mother’s Day special section of the Lancaster Newspaper. Did you see us? Thanks to BJF photography!
- I gave Jack his 3rd haircut. His hair grows so fast, especially on top. It is still red, but I definitely see some blond peaking through. I don’t know if you remember from his NICU pics, but he was born with thick, golden blond hair.
- Jack still loves mac & cheese and grilled cheese. He also loves strawberries, blueberries, pears and peaches. He enjoys his veggies too: corn, carrots and peas. Still working on adding new stuff, but these foods are our go-to foods for him.
I’m sure there are many more things I am missing…but know this: Every day with Jack is an adventure. This boy knows how to move, move, move and smile all the while :)
On Sunday, Jack will be 22 months old! I cannot believe it…only 2 more months until my little boy is 2 YEARS OLD! Wow! Jack’s 2nd birthday…definitely has me excited, but also once again, thinking of what happened 2 years ago at that time. Last year, was just so relieved to make it to 1 without Jack getting sick (and if I’m really honest, without the threat of losing him) and after his first birthday, I definitely lost my mind for a few months…it is slowly coming back, thank you very much! But this 2nd birthday is so exciting. I’ve been contemplating the theme for a few months, am ready to reserve the park and am going to start working on Jack telling us his age and singing Happy Birthday for practice. He needs a little practice, because at the last birthday party he attended (cousin Emma’s 5th), he clapped at the end of the song while simultaneously cried (because of the loud cheering, etc). Either we practice or maybe we’ll get the same response at his party. Oh well! Definitely bigger things to think about…but it’s still fun to sing Happy Birthday all the time!
It’s like a storm
That cuts a path
It breaks your will
It feels like that
That cuts a path
It breaks your will
It feels like that
(Rascal Flatts - "I Won't Let Go")
I’ve always felt that the lyrics of this song have pretty well expressed our experience with prematurity and the NICU. And although I feel like I’ve held it together pretty well the past 2 years, there are times when I do break. I had some unique ways of coping and protecting myself from “breaking” like not talking about it directly with anyone (rather blogging/posting), being in survival mode, not allowing people to touch me because a hug or a pat just might break me, controlling what I could (like Jack’s isolation), and isolating myself. But yesterday, 22 months after our traumatic birth/newborn experience I did break. It’s been awhile, actually, and I thought I was doing pretty well. If someone asked how I was doing I would say fine/good and actually mean it this time. I have often answered with that response in the past because it was way easier than saying how I may have really felt that day (without making the asker uncomfortable). Is “asker” a word? I know that I often answer the “How are you?” question without really thinking about the answer. But since I’ve been trying very hard to be honest about where I am in this journey, I tend to answer with a little more thought. So what caused me to break this time…could it be that Jeff and I are struggling with whether we should add to our family by having a second baby? Will it be safe for me? Will it be safe for the baby? Could “this” happen again? (The answer is: It very likely will and that’s a longer post for another day). Or maybe it’s the thought of going back to work in two months? Is it right for Jack? Is it right for me? Or maybe it’s thinking about the fact that we’ve done so well keeping Jack healthy the past two years, but he still works hard to breath at times and we still have to be cautious about exposing him to sickness and I’m just tired,tired, tired of that anxiety? Does it ever end? Heck, it could even be that my awesome niece(and Jack’s cousin) is growing up and just graduated from high school. Yes, it could be all of those things, but what it actually was, the trigger so to speak, was an innocent question from a friend. We were out shopping for new baby boy (SO excited and happy for her…and for Jack cause he’ll have a new playmate)…and she asked if I had used those kimono style shirts (buttons down the front) when Jack was little, because they are helpful when baby’s umbilical cord is still attached. My first reaction was to consider whether I give the short/politically correct answer of “No, never used them”….or my real, our reality, answer. No, we didn’t use them because I didn’t even realize that Jack’s cord fell off, because I was wondering at that point in his life whether he would breath on his own or live to see the next day. And at that point in his life, he was not to wear clothes on his too new, too sensitive skin. Plus, he was in a heated/humidified isolette…clothes not required. I didn’t go that far, I just said “No, he didn’t wear clothes at that point because he was in an isolette still.” But, boy, did that belly button conversation start me on a path of flashback/memories…like Jack’s bellybutton was actually used for an umbilical catheter to deliver life saving and sustaining meds. And even later, when his bellybutton was no longer used that way, he had an umbilical hernia and we wondered whether our tiny 2-pounder would eventually need surgery (he did, but for his inguinal hernias instead). It made me think about how Jack’s baby book has a fill-in-the blank for the date when baby’s cord/stump falls off…and I realized that I never even thought about it. But I did go back and look at his NICU pics to guesstimate a date, that’s for sure! Or even later, when we came home, Jack’s belly button wasn’t used as a cute picture opportunity or a place to blow razzberries…but as a guide to help us insert his NG tube accurately so that he could be fed. We (me or Jeff, not a medical professional) had to make sure of the placement of that tube was correct, somewhere between the top of his ribs to his bellybutton, so that his meal/liquids didn’t go into his lungs and cause aspiration pneumonia. And don’t get me started about how that umbilical cord was attached to that darn placenta that functioned improperly, causing Jack to not grow as well as he should have (IUGR) and for causing my pre-e. (But, on the brightside, the pre-e that caused Jack’s delivery may have also saved him from some other struggles that can occur when a placenta causes IUGR and is not discovered as early as it was for Jack). So not only did the innocent (and it really was and I don’t want people to think that they can’t talk to me about whatever they want…but those same people best be prepared for a different answer than they may expect :) ) question about bellybuttons had me thinking about all these things…which of course led to all sorts of other things that just made me break yesterday. I even made Jeff come home early from work! (I think I've only done that one other time...when Jack was smaller and rolled off the couch! Felt like a terrible mother that day, for sure.) Being the worrier that I am, I also worry about how I am supposed to answer questions that may have an unpleasant or at least non-typical answer. Should I just be polite and respond so as to not make anyone uncomfortable. For me, I think it depends on the person who’s asking. For this friend (she’s of the best variety), I think and hope she appreciates that I’m finally able to tell her some of the things that have happened (for so long I couldn’t without getting too emotional…and of course, I’m tearing up as I type this…so I’m not as un-emotional as I was thinking I was…haha!). But I do know one thing, I will never NOT talk about what Jack experienced…to me, that minimizes his suffering and his triumphant survival…and I will never downplay that…to make myself or anyone else comfortable. He is amazing. There is no doubt about it. Even when he we play pretend sleeping and he snorts, because he is imitating me snoring!! Yep, still amazing. And don’t worry, I don’t look at Jack’s bellybutton every day and think of all of these things. It’s not an every day occurrence, but there are times when something will trigger these “discussions” within myself. They are kind of like eye floaters… sometimes these thoughts are just fleeting…but when the fleeting thoughts begin to repeat, I know it is something I need to write/release. So thanks for “listening.”