Archive for June, 2012

Puffs and pincer grips

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Yesterday, at Cindy’s suggestion, I bought the girls some Happy Bellies sweet potato puffs. Unlike rice cakes, they dissolve almost immediately in saliva.

Today, they practiced feeding themselves puffs for the second time. Sam managed more than once to grasp a single puff between her left thumb and forefinger and transfer it into her mouth. And she looked extremely pleased with herself once she did.

Cate used a raking motion to grasp puffs in the palm of her hand, and then had a hard time getting them into her mouth. A lot of her puffs went astray today, but I’m confident she’ll get the hang of it soon.

Nursery rhyme redux: Eeny, meeny…

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
catch a baby by the toe,
if she hollers, don’t let go,
because she’ll end up on the flo’!

Sam scares 2!

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

When the girls initially began eating “solids,” they sat in Boppy pillows on our bed, but now they sit in booster seats in the dining room. Watching Sam twist and reach and lean, I have wondered whether she’s big enough now to tip the whole assembly forward, falling to the floor and bringing it down on top of her. (Check this later post for a visual.)


Tonight, we strapped the girls into their seats, and went into the kitchen to finish assembling their fare (pears and rice cereal tonight), and scarf down several bites of leftover chicken-and-gnocchi “soup” that Bill made last weekend.

At some point, Sam began to fuss loudly. I glanced around the corner to see what was the matter, and at first, I only saw one baby. Alarmed, I realized that Sam had fallen forward out of her booster and was dangling by her ankle, which was tangled in the “safety” straps.


I guess that’s why the warning label on the seat says this:

Always keep child in view while in high chair.
Never leave child unattended.

Note to self.

Luckily, I rescued her easily and she wasn’t hurt. In fact. I was more shaken than she was, and she was happy to eat the rest of her dinner back in the chair.

* * *
Earlier in the day, we tried a new snack. The “What to Expect” book says babies are typically ready for finger foods in the eighth month. They’ve already begun grabbing the spoon when we feed them, and since the girls are 7-1/2 months past their due date, I was curious what they would think of food they could hold by themselves.

I initially thought teething crackers were the way to start, but the book suggested rice cakes as a good option.

Not so much.

Both girls are eager to try any food that Mama and Daddy eat. After watching me nibble a bit, I put a ~2- inch portion in each of their hands. Once I showed them that they could taste it, they did. However, there wasn’t any chewing. Just sucking.

Fortunately, puffed rice pretty much dissolves in saliva, so they were able to eat some of it. But when Sam got down to a ~1/2-inch chunk, she put the whole thing in her mouth and tried to swallow it… and choked.

Luckily, I was easily able to sweep it out of her mouth with my finger, but neither of us enjoyed the experience. We will definitely wait a few more weeks before attempting finger foods again, and next time, we’ll go with teething crackers.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to focus a little harder on keeping our daughters alive and unscathed.

Cereal and ripe peaches…

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

One morning in mid-May, Claudia and I took the girls out for a walk. As we ambled down Van Buren to Missouri, I saw a woman coming out of the church with a bagful of fresh produce from Central City Coop.

I asked her what was good at the market that morning, and she said local peaches. Mmmm. I love ripe peaches. They’re darned hard to find at the grocery store. And local, organic peaches would be even better. So we went in and bought several.

A few days later, as I was cutting one of the peaches into a bowl of cereal and milk, I was strongly reminded of my childhood. I could visualize my mom, meticulously cutting the flesh of a big juicy peach away from the pit, and putting the uniformly-sized chunks into bowls of cereal for us. Tasting the treat, I enjoyed the co-mingling flavors of the peach and milk as much as I did when I was little, and I thought of my mom. I even called her to tell her so.

Having this strong memory made me wonder: which experiences will our daughters enjoy and remember thirty years from now? And will they think of us fondly?

Four and twenty blackberries…

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

… baked in a pie! I’ll leave it to Bill to elaborate, but something recently inspired him to start turning fresh berries into homemade pies.

He takes ripe berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries to date) and a little bit of sugar, heats them into goo, pours it into gluten-free spelt crusts, and bakes ’em into hot pie yumminess. And they’re even better with a little vanilla ice cream melting on top (unless you’re our friend, Paul, in which case, they’re awesome as is)!

Sam and Cate are fascinated with watching us eat and seem eager to sample our food. When Bill made this pie in April, I dipped my finger in the blackberry innards and let them lick it off. They each tried it twice, but judging by their comical facial expressions, they aren’t ready for tart berries. They quickly pressed their lips firmly together, declining to accept a third taste. Sam’s reaction even included a full-body shudder. Funny! That’s okay for now: more pie for us grown-ups!

First tooth: Cate!

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Cate started teething in earnest two weeks ago. This morning, her first pointy little tooth made its debut!

Unlike our grown-up teeth that are weathered and smooth from years of (ab)use, it’s surprisingly sharp. I can see why she seemed so uncomfortable while it was working its way up through her gums. Ouch! She’s much happier now, and has returned to her better sleeping ways.

Meanwhile, Sam continues to enjoy gumming all sorts of objects, but does not yet have any signs of serious tooth formation, for which I’m grateful. She still has lots of trouble staying asleep and I imagine that teeth erupting won’t help. We need all the practice sleeping we can get between now and then.

Nascent mobility: Learning to crawl…

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Now that we’re all healthy again, I intend to do some catch-up blogging this week. First up: video of the girls working on crawling.

Here they are on Wednesday, June 13:

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Note that Cate is achieving forward motion entirely via brute-strength tricep pushes. Wow. When she figures out how to bring her legs into the process, she’ll really move!

Now, here’s Sam on Friday, June 15:

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

It was really only a step or two, but it was the right motions in the right order. And what’s most important is she got where she wanted to go.

Needless to say, having had a tiny taste of independent mobility, she has been practicing at every opportunity ever since. Sam’s days of staying where you put her are definitely over!

Happy Fathers’ Day!

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Sunday was our second Fathers’ Day. Though the babies were still inside me this time last year, Bill was already working hard to take care of all three of us. Long before he worked back-to-back shifts in the NICU, he took over grocery shopping, cooking, and other chores and errands so that I could focus on gestating. Our daughters are bigger and stronger because of it, and I’m grateful.

To honor the occasion this year, here’s the very first photo of Bill with both of our daughters, taken 24 minutes after they were born (click for larger):

And here they are on Sunday:

As the rector at St. Stephen’s, Lisa Hunt, reminded me a few years ago, “parent is a verb.” It’s not an honorary status; it’s what you do that matters. Happy Fathers’ Day to Bill, to my Dad, to my brother Chris, to my brother-in-law Jeff, and to all of the dedicated men-folk we know who take parenting seriously.

First (token) ER trip: Cate

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Last weekend, first Sam and then I, succumbed to an intestinal virus. For several days, Sam had pretty low energy. We knew she was sick the morning she let us sleep until 9 am! While her appetite was a little diminished, and she had explosive poo every 4-6 hours, she was also pretty cheerful and still wanted to play. And other than the unplanned baths and laundry, her illness was pretty manageable.

Six days later, with Sam and me finally recovering, and Bill and Cate apparently not sick, I was wondering whether my breast milk had imparted some immunity to Cate. Umm, no.

Friday afternoon, Cate kicked off being sick with far more “fanfare” than either Sam or I had mustered. Where Sam kinda urped once or twice right after eating, Cate vomited in 3 of the 6 rooms in our house. We’re guessing that the same comparatively weaker sphincter muscle that made Cate’s reflux so much worse than Sam’s, is also allowing this bug to forcibly evict her stomach contents over and over.

Sam lost more than half a pound during the week (of her 16+), which was concerning to watch as her face got thinner by the day. But as long as she was still eating, we could rationalize that she was deriving nutrition from her meals. But with Cate losing fluids at both ends, it was hard to imagine how she could keep going. On Saturday, after Cate puked for the fourth time (and on Dad for the second time), we called the pediatrician.

The triage nurse told us to get Cate in to see a doctor in the next few hours, which on Saturday night meant a trip to the ER at Texas Children’s Hospital. She also told us to discontinue nursing and formula, and start giving Cate a little bit of Pedialyte every 5 minutes or so.

The first problem was we didn’t have any Pedialyte. My cousin, Sharon, raced to our rescue and arrived shortly with several kinds of pediatric electrolyte replacement beverages, fresh from Walgreens. (Thank you!) The second problem was Cate refused to drink any of them. Both the orange and grape flavors were pungent and she didn’t want anything to do with them, which considering that she’d never had them before, was understandable. Sharon agreed to stay, feed Sam some ceral, and put her to bed so that Bill and I could focus on Cate and get her to TCH.

From this point forward — refusing the electolyte stuff and denied milk and formula — she went downhill. Since none of us were hemorrhaging, we got parked for several hours in the ironically named “Fast Track” unit. Cate stayed awake for most of her ER adventure, but she was entirely passive through the entire process. She scarcely stirred while a nurse attempted to collect saliva for a study we enrolled her in (more on that later). Playing with and attempting to eat the lead for her pulse oximeter was more or less the height of her engagement.

Finally around 10 pm, the physician’s assistant brought us a bunch of unflavored Pedialyte. Much to our relief, Cate gulped the stuff down. And 20 minutes later, not only had it stayed down, Cate had perked up. I read her my new favorite story and she even giggled at the main punchline. Phew. The PA kept us around for another two hours to observe Cate and make sure she continued to improve. But she eventually sent us home around midnight, armed with another 10 single-serve bottles of Pedialyte.

After an indulgent run through the Med Center McDonald’s for a midnight “snack”, we drove home. Other than a short nap on me, Cate had been awake for the better part of 8 hours, the longest she’s ever been up. Out in the dark in the car, she fell asleep readily. We went home, let Sharon go home, and Sam woke up. We roused Cate long enough for the two of them to nurse tandem, and then all fell into bed.

I wish I could say we all slept well, but one or the other of the girls had one or the other of Bill or me out of bed every 45 minutes or so for the rest of the night. I managed to get 3 hours in a row at one point, but Bill wasn’t that lucky. When Sam woke up before 8 am, rested and raring to go, it was *hard* to get moving.

The good news today is we’re figuring out how to manage Catie’s bug. For instance, she’ll drink the Pedialyte (the real stuff from Abbott Nutrition, not the generic) if she’s hungry. So if we give her two ounces before we nurse, then she gets both. If we nurse first, that’s all she’ll take. And since the PA told us to stop giving her formula, which is dairy-based and more difficult to digest, she hasn’t puked again, which is good all around.

I’m making a point to pump, too, which gets her an extra few ounces of milk a day. For the moment, she needs it worse than her sister does. And I’m pleased to report that Sam rose to the challenge of nursing extra when her sister’s appetite was its lowest. Her nursing has definitely improved since March, for which I’m grateful.

Finally, the girls took *long* morning naps today, which definitely helped. Cate slept 3-1/2 hours and woke up cheerful. She wasn’t up for a stint in the jumper (that’s hard work!), but she was definitely ready to play for a little while. I expect that by Tuesday, she’ll be on the mend.

Presentation today

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Six or eight weeks ago, Children at Risk called and invited me to give a talk about transportation at their Future of Texas Children conference. It will be my second professional talk since the girls arrived.

At the time, I was totally sleep deprived and unsure what I would talk about. But it’s a good opportunity to maintain my professional identity. And June 7 sounded like a long way off. I was optimistic that we’d all be sleeping by then and I’d make it work.

With help from Claudia and Emily yesterday, I managed to make a bunch of calls and pull together a relevant presentation. I even got a shower and washed my hair. But I’ve had a gut bug for four days and I *really* needed to sleep.

But at bedtime, poor Sam became totally distressed, and when I picked her up to soothe her, she puked all over me. She’s still sick. I got us cleaned up and eventually got her to sleep. Poor honey!

Bill came home from Raleigh, and he’s exhausted, too. We finally got in bed around 10:45 pm. But half an hour later, Cate started fussing.

Cate has been sleeping really well this week, needing Binky help just once or twice a night, but tonight she was inconsolable. When we finally all dragged out of bed at 2:45 am for the middle of the night feeding, I checked her mouth. Sure enough, she has a new ridge under her gumline. Cate is teething. Poor honey!

So neither Bill nor I got much sleep last night. My longest block was 1:25. But Sam is awake (she pood pasty poo!), and it’s time to get up and get our morning going, so I can pull myself together to present in two hours.