Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Photos With A Few Words

Nick loves to eat. Sometimes when he eats, I can barely get the spoon out of his mouth before he is opening it for more. I call this the "baby birdie"

He is getting better at tummy time. He even enjoys it, especially when he can be on the bed and look down at the dogs playing. I swear my hands were only off for a second. Long enough to take the photo!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Full But Great Day

Today was a great day for Nick! He had his doctor appointment this morning. They did draw blood, but he was such a big boy. He didn't even shed one tear when they took the blood. He did stick his lip out, but the two nurses who were drawing the blood started talking to him, and any chance Nick has to flirt, he is going to take it. He had to show them he was a big tough man. I will find out the results of the test some time next week.

His weight today was 12lbs 8 ounces. Not a huge gain, but his doctor was satisfied with it.

Early Childhood Intervention came out. They were great. They did all the diagnostic testing, physical, etc. He did fantastic. They felt like he was borderline for being admitted to the program. I opted to have him followed. My biggest concern is that he will be behind developmentally. So far (fingers crossed), he seems to be doing well physically, and with his health. I know the developmental stuff will take some time to show, if it is going to show. So for now, we are just trying to help him catch up as quickly as possible.

We are working on tummy time more and more. He is starting to do very well with it. I have finally found the one thing he will look up for long periods of time at... the dogs. He loves them! Today, Nick actually laughed. He has cooed and let out little laughs before, but today, it was a full on baby belly laugh. He was laughing at the dogs. They were playing, he was on his belly, and kept lifting his head to look at them. He would look and talk to them, then laugh and laugh. Then Rowdy started barking, then Mocha started barking. I thought Nick would be scared, but no, he just starting squealing with delight. It was such a wonderful sound.

In addition to working on tummy time, we are going to start working on sitting up. Right now, he seems to be a little less against this than tummy time. Although, I have learned my secret weapon. I just sit him up in front of the dogs.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weight Check, ECI, and Lab Work

Nick has a full day ahead of him tomorrow. First thing in the morning, we are going to the doctor's office to have some blood work done. They received the results of some metabolic tests done on Nick. They feel that his thyroid may not be working properly. They are going to do some additional testing to find out if that is the case. I don't know many details at this time. I will ask questions tomorrow, but for now, we are just going to wait for those results.

After the lab work, we are going to weigh in, again. Since there is the question of his thyroid, as well as the fact that we just started doing the 24 calorie formula, I doubt she will do anything but check him over.

We then will rush home to meet the therapists from Early Childhood Intervention. They called on Friday to confirm. Two occupational therapists are coming to the house to do his evaluation. They said it should take an hour and a half.

Nick ought to be exhausted after all that! I will let you know how it all goes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Every. Single. Time.

Nick can read me like a book! And not in the good way. No matter what I try to do, or plan, or think, Nick does the exact opposite of what I think he should/will do. If I think he will take 7 ounces of formula, he takes 3. If I make a 3 ounce bottle, he takes 7. I know lots of babies do this type of thing often, but Nick does it Every. Single. Time.

Since Nick began eating solid foods, everyone said, wait until you feed him sweet potatoes, he will love sweet potatoes. I think I heard this every day. Nick, hates sweet potatoes. Applesauce and the "sweet" things that most babies like, he is not really that fond of.

The biggest thing I see is when I take him out of this house, he is a totally different baby. Here, with me, he is the smiley, happy, gregarious baby who talks and babbles and squeals. The minute he leaves this house, he is this wide eyed baby who you can't make smile no matter how many antics you perform. He also tends to be much more fussy outside of the house. I think no one believes me when I tell them how fun he can be. All they see is a "fussy baby".

I have tried to get this fun baby on video. Nope. He sees the video camera and becomes that "fussy baby". Every. Single. Time. I have tried to sneak up on him. I have tried to video him when he isn't paying attention. He knows.

Even Monday while we were at the preemie clinic appointment, the occupational therapist (who was also his therapist while he was in the hospital), told me when you read all those baby books, just assume Nick will do the exact opposite of what the book says he should do. That is just his lot in life. I feel sorry for me!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Preemie Clinic

Today was Nick's first preemie clinic appointment. We met with a nutritionist, an occupational therapist, a neonatalogy fellow, and a neonatalogist. The nice thing about the appointment, was that everyone, with the exception of the nutritionist, was in the UTMB NICU. So, they all were very familiar with Nick and his history. It was also just nice to see them. These people were such a big part of my life for so many months. It was nice just to say hi.

Nick did really well at his appointment. They all felt that he was right on track. They were impressed with him. Of course, he gave lots of smiles, and flirted with the ladies a bit. The occupational therapist, Jan (who is credited with getting him to take a bottle in the NICU) thought his progress was great. She felt that he was right on track for most things. There were even a few milestones he was ahead of his curve. She even thought that next week when ECI comes out to the house for the initial assessment, they may not feel that further therapy is needed at this point.
While everything was great, we did have one little problem with Nick. His weight. Of course this seems to be an issue for Nick at every appointment. The nutritionist sat down and got a detailed schedule, with amounts of formula, cereal, veggies etc. She felt that he was eating well. We began looking at other issues. For instance, Nick is always in motion. He exerts so much energy, he is just burning lots of calories. We decided that we need to increase his calorie intake. Since he is unlikely to eat more, we are going to increase the amount of calories that he takes in with his formula.

Nick is growing. His height is doing great, however his height to weight ratio is way off. In an ideal world, he should be in the 50% range for height to weight. Nick is right under 10%. The other thing they are concerned with is his weight curve. If he was on the low end of the scale and still progressing up the curve, they would have no issue. He does seem to be leveling off some. This is a common issue is preemies. We are going to try increasing his calorie intake and hope that he can pack on the weight. ( I wish I had that problem)

In other news, Nick's Uncle Brian and Aunt Chrissy (toes) got Nick a GREAT new present this weekend. He has taken full advantage of it:

This is the baby Einstein bouncer. Nick loves it. He bounces, plays, talks. The best part about it, he is eye level with the dogs. His new favorite pass time is watching the dogs.

On another seperate note... Nick's future girlfriends were born last week. Twin baby girls joined the Carter Clan. Congratulations Matt and Melissa. Nick would like to know how old the girls have to be to go out on thier first date!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Front to Back, Back to Front

Nick has figured out how to roll from his back to his tummy. He does it fairly regularly now, although when he does it, he figures out that he is on his tummy and immediately rolls to his back. He is starting to do it when he is asleep. I found him sleeping soundly on his tummy this morning.

We are continuing trying new foods. So far, he has had green beans, which he tolerates. He has tried carrots, which he likes. He LOVES bananas. Tonight we tried squash. He seemed to like that as well. Nothing is a good as the bananas, but if you start with the veggies, he will usually eat them.

Monday is his preemie clinic appointment. We have been working on tummy time. I am anxious to find out what they say.

Mandy... you asked for a photo gallery, so I added a slideshow of a bunch of Nick's photos from the first 7 months! Thanks for the request.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Beach Baby

Nick had his first trip to the beach this weekend. I would say he loved it, but honestly, I am not really sure he cared. Well, except there was a lot of people watching for him. There was so much to look at, he just sat and watched everything. He looked so cute in his sun hat and crabby bathing suit. Of course I took photos!

Nick had a doctor appointment on Monday. Another weight check. He is officially 12 pounds. While he is growing, he is not quite growing at the rate his doctor had hoped. A while ago he was in the 7th percentile for weight. He dropped to the 5th last month. He did go up a little this month... to the 5.4 percentile. So, we are exploring our options. She is steadfast that he needs to take 20 ounces of formula a day. She also wants him to eat fruits/veggies/cereal twice a day, and hoping to add a 3rd feeding. I am looking at this little tummy and only seeing so much room. For now we are keeping things the way they are. I am keeping a "food diary" as it were. The biggest concern for now is his changing formula. The study formula he was on was 24 calorie. The new regular formula (over the counter) is only 22 calorie. We are going to go back for a weight check in two weeks.

Nick's doctor and the Occupational therapist for the formula study have both recommended him to ECI (Early Childhood Intervention). They have set up an appointment to come out to the house a week from Monday to evaluate Nick. They are going to do a series of developmental tests to see what age he measures. Once they have evaluated him, they will develop a game plan for his therapy.

ECI will come out to the house a few times a week to work with him on different developmental and physical therapies. I am anxious to see what his evaluation shows. I also am anxious to speak to someone who sees preemies regularly. While I think Nick's doctor is great, micro preemies only account for 1% of the population. I am not sure how many she has seen. I am curious about his growth and weight gain. I think speaking with someone who sees this everyday can give me a little more perspective on his growth.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tummy Full Of Carrots

"I LOVE carrots!"

"Tummy time... not so much"

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Green Beans and a Battle of Wills

Nick tried baby food for the first time! Green beans. I was prepared to have them possibly spit back at me, but he seemed to like them. I was all handy with the camera when I gave him his first bite. I thought he might make a funny face for his first bite of veggies. But no, he just ate. (Not sure if he really like it, or he just wanted to "prove me wrong".) Either way, he ate well.

The battle of wills has been coming every night. I had no idea that such a small baby can test you to see what you will allow them to get away with. Each evening, as we are winding down. Nick has eaten dinner, had a bath, and had a bottle. It is time for my little man to drift off into dream land. He, however, has another idea. Lately, any time anyone tries to put him to sleep, he throws a fit. When I say a fit, I mean, screaming, crying, little baby fists shaking in the air.

At first I was so worried that he would somehow hurt himself with these little tantrums. I would get him up and comfort him. That seemed to work for awhile. Then if I tried to rock him, or put him to sleep in my arms, the fits start again. He HATES to go to sleep. He is so fearful he is going to miss something. He can plaster his little eyes open. He won't even blink for fear that his eyes may close, even for one second and he will drift off to sleep.

I have come to realize, that we have to put a stop to this. (This realization came after 5 nights of hour long crying fits.) So, tonight, he was fed, bathed, changed and otherwise happy. I put him in bed. He cried. I waited it out, and he finally fell asleep. All in all, tonight's fit only lasted 15 minutes. I consider it a success. Of course, I know that there are many other battles ahead of me. He has such a strong will.

Green Bean Face

Monday, July 6, 2009

Developmental Testing

I enrolled Nick in a formula study through UTMB right before he left the NICU. The study was designed for preemies. The formula has extra calories. The hope is that, they will grow faster and catch up to other babies their age quicker. Since it is a double blind study, I don't know if he got the "special" formula or not. Participating in the study had a few perks. First, FREE formula until he is 18 months! I planned on breast feeding, and was successful at it (or at least pumping) for 3 months, but when he wouldn't take the breast, things started to go downhill. The opportunity came up for the study and I jumped on it. The biggest factor in my decision to have Nick participate in the study were the developmental meetings.

Every few months, I bring Nick in so they can measure his development. I meet with a doctor, a nurse and an occupational therapist. They give Nick a battery of tests, including, developmental, cognitive, verbal, and physical. The nice thing about this is that, it is a way to catch issues he may be having early on.

Today, we had our first meeting. Nick went in as his usual charming self. He smiled at all the ladies. He talked and talked to them.

The did some testing on his hearing, whether he could turn towards sounds etc. He did well with that. He did not do so well with the cognitive portion. He registered as a 3 month old in that part of a test. (The hope would be that he would register as a 4 month old, his corrected age.) Most of the physical tests he did well on. He even managed to score in the 5 month range on some of his tests. He does not do well on his tummy though. He hates tummy time, and has decided that, if we try to put him on his tummy, he can just roll over.

I was a little disappointed in his results. They felt he was average with other preemies in his age group. Hearing your kid is average is slightly disappointing. Even more disappointing because I thought he was doing really well. I do not in anyway expect him to be like a 7 month old. I did think he was on track with his corrected age of 4 months, but they felt he was a little behind.

On the plus side, they showed me some things to work with him on, and we started this evening with great success. They are also referring us to Early Childhood Intervention. Here, he will meet with a team of occupational, and speech therapists. They will start to monitor him more closely, appointments once a month instead of every few months. We will make sure he is on track. I will probably have more exercises to work on with him at home.

On the positive, or at least funny side. They did not have to wait long to view/hear the vocal part of the test. Nick talked their ears off... in his own little special way. They said he is a very social baby. He loves to be talked to. There were even a few points during the testing where he wasn't really doing what he was supposed to be doing because he was so focused on the ladies around him, and trying to get them to smile at him.

At one point, they doctor was filling out her paperwork, and she commented that he "vocalizes his attitude". I thought that was pretty funny... he definitely does that well!

Almost forgot... New weight... 11lbs, 15 ounces. We can just all it 12lbs Right? He is also 23 3/4 inches. Gained 1lb and 1 inch in a month. Everyone was very happy with that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

7 Months

Dear Nick,

I know I say this every month, but wow, 7 months already? The other day, I actually started thinking about your first birthday. I know I am jumping the gun, but one day you will come to realize that I am a habitual planner. I plan everything, early. I can't believe how much you grow and change before my very eyes. Everyday it seems like there is something new. This month you have made some amazing changes.

Probably your biggest change is the switch to cereal. At first you were not to sure about it. It took a few weeks, 3 brands of cereal, trying cereal in a bottle, and a lot of determination on my part to finally see you eat a bowl of cereal. I have discovered that you prefer cereal with bananas. That is what you eat best.
I absolutely love feeding you. While you can make a mess, and it seems as though sometimes you have 8 arms and hands while you are in your high chair, it is the best part of my day. You smile, and talk, and sometimes laugh. You haven't quite figured out that your thumb in your mouth while I am trying to feed you is not the best idea. Even worse, somehow after your thumb is in your mouth and full of cereal, your eye seems to be the next logical place.

You love to be talked to and sung to. Sometimes, I think you try to sing back. There isn't one particular song you love, and despite contrary beliefs, you do love me singing to you. One day, you may also figure out that I am a horrible singer, however for the moment, my singing voice is beautiful enough for you.

While you used to love your swing, and still do from time to time, you love just laying in the middle of my bed and looking around and talking. You would prefer to have someone lay next to you, so that you may tell them all of your opinions, thoughts and dreams. I guess you come by that talking thing pretty honestly.

You have begun rolling over from your belly to your back. You haven't quite mastered it yet, so when you actually do it, you often surprise yourself. You haven't rolled from your back to your belly, but I suspect it won't be long.

Peek-a-boo seems to be a new favorite. Sometimes we play when I am feeding you. This is how I distract you to get a few more bites in your mouth. Sometimes, I just do it to hear you laugh. This can usually get a laugh from you, and that is the sweetest sound of my day.

The laugh is new too. You smile a lot, but laughing is not something you do often. It seems as though you save that for special occasions.

I also think we have entered into the world of teething. You chew on anything you can get in your mouth. Lately, the evenings have proven to be tough on you. That seems to be when your gums hurt the most. Tonight, a burp cloth with a piece of ice seemed to give you some much needed relief. I think we may have a long battle with those teeth ahead of us.

You continue to amaze me every day. I think back to when you were first born. I looked at some photos of that first day. I can't believe how tiny you were. I think about how fragile you were, and how hard your life must have been at that point. I am already so incredibly proud of all you have accomplished in your life. I can't wait to watch you continue to grow, thrive, and hit new milestones.

Nick, you have such a bright and wonderful life ahead of you. There will never be anything you can't conquer.

I love you little man,