Saturday, October 31, 2009

lions and tigers dragons and bears Rhys, oh my!

Happy Halloween! From our fire-breathing dragon.

Who is also a roaring lion.

We couldn't decide which costume we liked better so we dressed him up in both!

Do you remember Rhys's Halloween last year?

Poor little man was not digging it. He's grown a bit, wouldn't you say?

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Rhys had PT again last week. His therapist hadn't seen him in a month and was ecstatic at his progress since his last visit. He is getting there slowly, but surely. We are trying really hard to keep him off his back (from lying on the floor), but our options are limited. He loves his jumperoo and constantly weight shifts from foot to foot, which is great for him and his muscle strength. We also purchased him a walker. Yes, there are a lot of differing opinions about walkers, but given Rhys's situation he really needs one. While physically he isn't where he should be, his cognitive ability is more advanced and he needs this freedom to move around on his own. His PT agreed and thinks it is a great idea. She did suggest though that we get him hard-soled shoes to wear while in the jumperoo and walker to help with the potential of tip-toe walking. She also thinks it might help him get a little traction for forward movement. While I am a firm supporter of barefoot or soft-soled shoes for babies first learning to walk (as is our PT), Rhys is in a different boat. So, I'm on the hunt for hard-soled shoes for him. The boy has never had a pair of shoes on in his life so I am curious to see how he reacts to them.

The Pediasure transition is going great. And, surprisingly, Rhys has allowed me to transition him from really warm to slightly chilled bottles. I can't tell you how great this is for me... there have been too many occasions to count where Rhys was starving but refused to eat when we were out and about running errands because I couldn't get his bottle warm enough. Rhys seems to love the Pediasure. Though I haven't tasted it, it smells incredibly sweet (think melted ice cream). He has been eating about 20% more in his day time bottles, and gets really angry if you take it away before he is done. We've only tried the vanilla so far, but they have several other flavors he might like. Cost wise it seems to be maybe a bit less expensive than his formula, but only because Rhys has never taken much volume of milk. Instead of switching cold turkey, I added a little Pediasure to his formula for a couple of days. That went great so I switched him over. In each bottle I now add a small amount of whole milk to the Pediasure in an effort to keep it from being so rich. Maybe that defeats the purpose of the higher calories, but I am afraid full strength would be too much for his tummy to handle.

We've started working on the honey bear cup. I have only tried it once, and Rhys did better than I expected. Rhys is much more receptive to a straw and regular cup than he is his sippy cup. He wasn't quite sure what the honey bear was, but he did grab the straw and pull it to his mouth a couple times so I thought that was a great start. I really need to be consistent with it and practice with him several times a day. Hopefully he will get it because Mom and Dad are tired of holding his bottle!

Rhys also saw the eye doctor last week. I was a little afraid of what she'd say because even though Cody and I make Rhys wear his glasses, it isn't 24/7. Unless you've tried to keep a cannula or eye glasses or other such something on an infant/toddler you just can't imagine the constant struggle. She did give me a pair of "No-Nos" to use to keep Rhys from pulling off his glasses. They look like a shin guard and velcro around the elbow to prevent the ability of bending the arm. I haven't tried them yet, but I know they will do the trick. Anyway, she said Rhys's eyes are "straight as an arrow" (referencing his sometimes lazy left eye) with his glasses on. We've only seen Rhys's eye cross once since his first eye appointment last May, and as I've mentioned he is without them a decent amount. She said it may be that his eyes have learned how to focus properly with the help of the glasses and if that is the case there is a possibility of losing them in a few months. I'm not sure how no glasses would effect his far sightedness though, and it didn't occurr to me to ask until we'd already left. I have no doubt his doctor is aware of this though, for she remembers every single detail of Rhys and every other baby she's seen in the NICU. Her memory is the most amazing thing I've ever seen.

Today I am: 1 year, 3 months, 2 weeks and 1 day old.
Adjusted I am: 11 months, 3 weeks and 2 days old.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Rhys's nutritionist came to see him this weekend. If you are thinking to yourself "Man, Rhys has a lot of appointments" you'd be right on! In addition to many others, he has been followed by a nutritionist since we were discharged from the NICU to ensure his diet is sufficient to meet his calorie needs for proper growth. Until we recently cut out the cereal, and really pushed the spoon/self-feeding, Rhys had been gaining weight at a rate faster than would be expected. Since then he's pretty much plateaued and has only gained about a half pound in the last two months. You'd expect this from an active 15-month old, however Rhys isn't moving around so much and isn't burning the calories his typical term counterpart is. Despite the minimal weight gain Rhys grew a bit more than an inch in one month, which bumped his height to the 50th percentile for his adjusted age (and as previously mentioned, to the 5th-10th percentile for his actual age). The nutritionist was quite stunned at this little growth spurt. Obviously Rhys is getting the nutrition he needs, else he would be growing at all, so she wasn't too concerned with his lack of weight gain. Like most of the others Rhys sees, the nutritionist treats him like a regular kid (while keeping in mind that yes he was extremely premature), and isn't one to automatically assume his prematurity is causing a particular issue. So, we will continue to watch the weight gain, and in the mean time we are going to transition from formula to Pediasure. Oh boy. The greatest problem I see with this change is that Rhys refuses to take his milk at a temperature less than really warm, no matter how hungry he is. Luke warm, room temperate, ice cold, it doesn't matter... he refuses it all. I just can't see myself heating Pediasure. This would be much easier if he could use his honey bear cup and distinguish it from the bottle, but alas that is not the case.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

15 month checkup

Today I took Rhys in for his 15 month checkup. As soon as I hit the door to the pedi's office I had a mask of horror plastered on my face. There was a croup-coughing kid in a stroller right at the entrance, who I was forced to sit next to for a few minutes. Every time that kid crackled I visibly cringed, to the point that his dad noticed and started giving me strange looks. Rhys almost got run over by a little squirt flying out the door after his exam, and would have land in Rhys's lap had I not backed up. My favorite though had to be the unwatched snot-nosed toddler who came over and tried to hang on Rhys's stroller and grab his ball. I snatched it out of her grasp before she could touch it and then looked around for her parent, who wasn't paying attention. Her dad's words to her? "No honey, let's come over here, he's sick." Actually, no he isn't, and I'd like to keep it that way thank you very much so please remove your child! Ugh, I could just feel myself crawling with germs. I used almost an entire mini bottle of purell and half our germ wipes swabbing everything down multiple times. Ick.

Anyway, the pedi thinks Rhys looks great and she's happy with his development. She did comment on his lack of weight gain and I explained our recent bought of "tough love" regarding the bottle and spoon feeding. Despite not gaining much weight over the last three months, Rhys is still a chub with dimples in his knees and elbows, and has grown nicely in length. He is actually on the chart for length for his actual age, between 5th and 10th percentile. Wow! He's still a bit shy of being on the chart for weight, and his head circumference is now in the 40th percentile for actual age.

Rhys got his 15 month vaccines today. They had the N1H1 vaccine, but only the mist and neither Rhys or I can have that version. So, we're on the high priority list when they come in, whenever that is. I also got a call today to schedule Rhys's RSV shot. Poor kid. He hates getting shots. Speaking of shots, I also got the regular flu shot today. And this afternoon I have a tickle in my throat that wasn't there this morning. I really hope I am imagining it and nothing comes of it.

Today I am: 1 year, 3 months and 5 days old.
Adjusted I am: 11 months, 1 week and 6 days old.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

OB/Rhys update

One of the hardest things to me about being pregnant is not being able to take my normal meds. I've never been one to pop pills for every minor ache and pain, but when I recognize the need to take something I go straight to what works. Unfortunately, what works for me is off limits while pregnant. I've never been a Tylenol-taker simply because it does nothing for me. So, lucky me - that is all I get to take for the next few months. :) The cold front this past weekend must have kicked up some pollen because I've had a serious headache and allergies the last 48 hours and have been unable to get rid of it. I joked with my OB that I must have killed my liver with the amount of acetaminophen I'd been taking. On one hand I try to take as little as possible, but on the other I've been desperate to get rid of the throbbing in my temple. My OB didn't seem concerned and even told me that I could take my OTC allergy meds since I am out of the first trimester. Hallelujah! Today was much better in terms of the headache, stuffy nose and sneezing.

Little baby looked good today, though (s)he did not cooperate during the ultrasound. My OB tried for a good five minutes to get him/her to move, thumping and nudging to no avail. I'm still a bit early (my OB will usually tell gender at 16 weeks), so hopefully we'll have a more willing participant next week when I go back! I also start my progesterone injections next week. Oh boy. Those of you who are close to me know how much I love needles! And, I've heard these shots don't hurt a bit. Can you sense the sarcasm??

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Rhys is doing well. He's still grumpy from his teeth, but overall he is taking it much better than he did last time. Remember this? Ugh, I am grateful we are not repeating that experience. So, Rhys has 2.5 teeth now. Of his four top teeth, one outside top tooth is partly through, his two middle teeth are visible and his second outside tooth is also close.

Rhys is spoon feeding better than I ever could have imagined two months ago. He will typically eat about one and a half cartons of yogurt a day. The best part? the veggies/fruits are mixed in! I really think you can have too much yogurt, but that's all he'll eat. Except of course he likes loves his ice cream. He looks a like a little bird when you pull out the Blue Bell. We're trying other foods too, but he really prefers the cold, smooth and creamy textures. I'm slowly mixing in a little of this and that (crumbled graham cracker, apple puree, etc.) into his yogurt to change the texture a bit to try to get him accustomed.

Rhys's ST (who is actually an OT administering ST to Rhys) is very happy with his progress the past several weeks. So much so that she is suggesting we focus on (a) OT for Rhys during our sessions, unless Rhys has a specific feeding concern pop up and (b) learning to drink from a straw. I know that transitioning to the straw going to be a huge ordeal. Rhys's ST recommended the honey bear with straw, which I know has been successful for many other preemies, but I really think it is going to take a while to get him interested. He still has zero interest in holding his own bottle, though I am forcing him to participate in his bottle feeding in order for him to get any milk. It's working a bit, but the boy would much prefer you do it for him!

As far as other motor skills, eh, we're still slinking at a snail's pace. Rhys has almost mastered the jumperoo. He hops around like a mad man, and constantly shifts his weight from left to right. This is incredible for him, and has done unbelievable things for his torso/head/overall body strength. The play time in the jumperoo has made me think of buying Rhys a walker. It is similar, but I think it will be more challenging for him and give him a bit more freedom once he figures it out. Under different circumstances I don't think I'd have wished for one, but given Rhys's love of the horizontal position I think it is a tool that might help him. He is now capable of sitting on his own (for noticeable, but short periods of time), however he hates sitting and will do any and every thing to get back to lying on the floor. If you want a temper tantrum that is the fastest way to get one. I typically sit with him between my legs to prevent him from intentionally falling backwards, but he has figured how to scoot his bottom out from under himself. SO frustrating. We have no idea why he is doing this. His PT thinks it might have to do with his reflux, but I am not so sure. He is using his right hand significantly more lately, and though he still only likes to eat with his left hand, he will grab for things first with his right of his own accord.

Finally, after much thought we're leaning towards getting Rhys the swine flu vaccine. Maybe I shouldn't call it swine flu, that is not exactly politically correct I hear. Anyway, Rhys has his 15-month checkup tomorrow so I am going to ask his pedi. I don't even know if our pedi office has it available right now. We are being super careful about Rhys, the same as always, and avoiding taking him anywhere unnecessary. To be honest, I am more concerned with Cody bringing it home to us than I am either Rhys or me coming down with it first. But, for our family, it is more risky given that I am pregnant and Rhys has "underlying health concerns". I am still not 100% comfortable with the vaccine, but I would never forgive myself if something happened to Rhys when I could have potentially prevented it. So I believe the benefits greatly outweigh the risks and if the pedi has it tomorrow we will be getting it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

swine flu vaccine?

I'm having a really hard time with the rampant flu outbreaks in our area. Half of everyone I know has a child with the flu/swine flu, or has had one or the other themselves. I had to register Rhys with the school district last week and thought the germs were going to attach themselves to us in the five minutes we stood in the elementary lobby! I think I stared at the door handle for a full minute before I grabbed it with a germ wipe to go inside. Rhys has received the regular flu vaccine, but I have mixed feelings on the swine flu vaccine. Every doctor I have asked says something different. His pedi didn't mention it when he received his last round of shots. My OB told me I needed it and Rhys needed it. (I don't even want it for myself!) My friends' pedi's all say something different. Is anyone getting the swine flu vaccine for their kids? I know it is especially dangerous for those of us with kids that have "underlying medical conditions". There is something about the rush for the vaccine that makes me feel uncomfortable about it, but it certainly could be a situation where the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. If in fact there are actually any real risks to receiving the vaccine.


Monday, October 12, 2009


We had a little chilly weather here over the weekend. Almost enough for Rhys to need a little hoodie. Unfortunately, we don't get much of a winter here in Texas so we all get a bit excited about the first dip out of the eighties. When I was in college, without fail, you'd see people pulling out the wool sweaters with the first "cold" front. I always got a big kick out of walking across campus, seeing people decked out in a puffer coat when it was seventy two degrees out.

I discovered something today that makes me feel like the worst mother ever. Rhys has his four top teeth coming in. All at the same time. His upper left tooth (beside the front, big tooth) has already broken through. I guess that explains him being such a grump lately. I'd been giving him Motrin off and on when he was fussy for no reason, but I feel really rotten that I didn't know he had teeth right at the surface. Hopefully the remaining three with break through sooner rather than later. He's been a two-toother for much too long.

Today I am: 1 year, 2 months, 3 weeks and 5 days old.
Adjusted I am: 11 months and 4 days old.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

what's up, doc?

Cody and I are super excited about the new baby, and we're determined to do any and every thing possible to keep him (or her) cooking for as long as possible. So, what does that mean for me this time around?

For starters, lots of doctors appointments and preparation/planning. I'm officially high risk instead of being an honorary member for carrying multiples. (Yes, there is only one this time.) So far that has only meant OB visits every other week for ultrasound checkups. Last week I started with a perinatal specialist. Our little baby looked great and my cervix was nice and long. In hopes of keeping it that way I had a cerclage placed Friday. Which incidentally felt about as good as it sounds like it would! Did I need a cerclage? We don't really know, so my OB is playing it safe over sorry. Some signs of the boys' delivery point to an incompetent cervix, however Bentley did have an infection which can and will prompt labor in and of itself.

So, what is the strategy from here on out? At my last OB visit my doctor ordered the necessary paperwork to put his plans into motion. What I know now is that I'll start weekly progesterone injections at 16 weeks. At 20 weeks I'll go on a contraction monitor and begin terbutaline. In addition, I will be forced to "take it easy". At least that is what I'm calling it. :) As for anything else, there may be more my OB comes up with if the need arises. Hopefully it will not.

Will hospital bed rest be required? I sincerely hope not. However, I am not naive enough to think it isn't a possibility, or even a probability, for me at some point. I had a classical c-section with the boys. That means I can not labor. At all. If and when I begin to dilate, into the hospital I go. Until this baby comes out. Even if I did not have a cerclage this would be the case. Classical c-sections put the uterus at a higher risk of rupturing, so most doctors will deliver no later than 36 weeks. Including mine.

Did we know this was what our next pregnancy would entail? Yep, we were well aware of what was going to be required. Are we worried? I wouldn't be me if I weren't! Cody not so much, he sort of has a knack for keeping me out of hysterics. My personality requires to know why, why, why. I concentrate on twinges, examine the tp, and research anything I feel is out of the ordinary. Google is horrible, it enables me! But, so far so good. Though I have been spotting a tiny bit here and there for the last few weeks, my doctor isn't concerned. The cerclage went great and the baby is growing properly. My OB is very positive about this working. He knows my history (he delivered the boys), he knows my fears, and he is doing everything within his power to get this baby as far as possible. The goal is obviously as close to 36 weeks as possible, but to be honest reaching 28 weeks will be a great relief. Beyond all this, it is out of our control.

So, if you wouldn't mind, could you all please send up an occasional prayer that we have a long and boring pregnancy with a healthy, really-close-to-term baby?? :) We'd greatly appreciate it. And we'll certainly keep you all posted on how things are going.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

oh, brother

Not my brother.

Not Cody's brother.

Then whose brother?


Rhys is going to be a big brother.


Meet Rhys's new little brother. Or sister.

Due to bless our family in April.