Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New York Trip: Part 1

Our ride north was fairly uneventful. We got a fairly early start and there was almost no traffic. Unfortunately, I had to change Aerin at a rest stop because the car was too full for me to change her in there. Rest stops are very challenging to germophobes, even the cleanest ones. Here is my procedure for changing a baby in a rest stop:

  1. Perform a combination of self-talk and meditation to mentally prepare myself.
  2. Carry Aerin into the bathroom and locate the changing table.
  3. While still holding Aerin, grab a paper towel (or a wipe from the diaper bag if they don't have paper towels) and fold down the table.
  4. Clean table off with lemon-scented Clorox wipes (takes about 5). This can be somewhat difficult while holding a lively toddler, but no part of Aerin can ever come into direct contact with a public restroom surface.
  5. Lay a blanket over the table. Make sure the blanket covers the entire table.
  6. Lay changing pad over the blanket.
  7. Change the baby. This is the easy part.
  8. Pick Aerin back up.
  9. Wipe the changing pad with Clorox wipes before putting it in a baggie.
  10. Place the blanket in a (separate) baggie. The blanket is now dirty laundry and should remain in the baggie until it is washed.
  11. Purel baby and self.
  12. Leave bathroom and hand baby to husband. Refrain from kicking husband in the shins when he asks what took so long.
  13. Return to bathroom and wash hands with the hottest water you can stand.
  14. Purel.

We got into the city around 4:30 p.m. It was bitterly cold. Now, I went to college in New York City and lived there with Andrew for almost a year after we were married. You'd think I'd be somewhat immune to the horror many small-town Southerners feel when they first enter the city. Nope. It was much dirtier and bleaker than I remembered and much more full of crazy weirdos. It didn't help that we almost got run off the road by one of those gigantic buses (the kind that are connected in the middle by that accordion thingy). Then the C.H.U.D.s came at us. Andrew did a superb job of urban driving with little to no cussing. Aerin was unimpressed with her first view of Manhattan because she is very cool.

Grandma Rita and Grandpa Steven were waiting to greet us. To say that they were ecstatic is an understatement. Their building has a large courtyard and we were able to pull right up to the door to unload. If you've ever had to unload anything from any kind of vehicle in Manhattan, you'll know what a life-saving blessing that was. Grandma Rita took Aerin into the building's playroom while Grandpa Steven and Andrew unloaded. I supervised. The men went off to park the car while I set thing up in the apartment. Then I joined Aerin and Grandma Rita in the playroom. Aerin was having a great time. They have a lot of toys there that we don't allow at home (ones that light up and make noise). There was plenty of room for Aerin to stretch her legs after being in the car for so long. Eventually, we all went upstairs to relax and see Uncle Daniel. We had Vietnamese food for supper. Now, I love the Southland y'all, but they just don't have good Vietnamese food down here (or Chinese. Or bagels). I was able to actually sit down to eat because I didn't have to watch Aerin. It was great for everyone.

I had hoped that Aerin would be so tired that she'd go right to sleep. She only napped for about an hour in the car and she was up later than usual. Of course, Aerin had her own ideas about things and she wouldn't let me leave the room. I had put the Pack N Play next to the bed, so I just laid down. That was good enough for her to settle down, but not go to sleep. I tried to outlast her and stay up for adult family time, but I fell asleep. That was for the best, because Aerin was up at 5:00 a.m. I took her in bed with me and she slept for another hour, but we were all up after that.

Coming up in Parts 2 and 3: our trip to the Museum of Natural History (Aerin was unimpressed) and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Aerin was unimpressed).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Video: Part 1

To tide you over until the NYC trip post, here is some video that I shot when we went out for Andrew's birthday on Wednesday.

New Video: Part 2

New Video: Part 3

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know we're a week in. Sorry, y'all. Here's a quick update to catch us all up.

Aerin's incision is 99% closed now. The last scab fell off last week and it looks fantastic. The outcome is really better than I ever imagined it could be. It hasn't affected Aerin as much as it has Andrew and me. She never let the hemangioma slow her down or get in her way, so she's just going about her business as usual. For me, it's a vast improvement in my quality of life. I don't have to make sure I have my tumor kit (Neosporin, Mepitel pads, gauze, tape) every time I leave the house. I can pull clothes over Aerin's head neck-first, rather than pulling the sleeve over the hemangioma first. Aerin can wear long sleeves! And footie pajamas! The footie pajamas are a huge milestone for me. I couldn't put her in them when she was an infant because the zippers wouldn't accomodate the apnea monitor cords. By the time she outgrew the monitor, the hemangioma was too big. I am so in love with footie pajamas. Not only are they adorable, but they are necessary for us because Aerin will not keep socks on her feet. It doesn't matter how cold the floor is, she just likes to be barefoot. Our entire house is hardwood, so I've got to keep her feet covered. She doesn't seem to mind the footies at all and her feet are nice and warm.

Aerin's physical issues are mostly resolved. I say mostly because a micropreemie as small as Aerin was will always have some medical issues. Although she is no longer severely immunocompromised, she will probably always be more susceptible to germs and common transmissible illnesses than a term baby. The BPD (Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia, aka lung scarring) will continue to subside as she gets older and will probably resolve itself completely by the time she's four.

Aerin does still have mouth issues, but they could be much worse. We saw our dentist, Dr. Atkins, in December for a check-up. Aerin's teeth are perfect, which is astonishing. Tooth brushing is a major issue for us and it's one that I purposely avoided until recently. It's almost impossible to safely restrain a child with Aerin's hemangioma for involuntary tooth brushing. It wasn't something I ever felt comfortable doing. Despite this, Aerin has no cavities and didn't even need a cleaning. Dr. Atkins gave her a fluoride treatment and that was that. The reason Aerin's teeth are so good is that we are very careful with her diet. We only allow milk and water (and Pedialyte when she's sick). We never give her juice and we limit sugar. Fortunately, Aerin doesn't have much of a sweet tooth anyway.

Aerin will be going to the Feeding Program at Children's Hospital next month for an evaluation. This will be a 3-hour event involving 6 specialists. It's possible that she won't qualify for the program (in that she doesn't have enough feeding issues to require therapy, not that they don't have space for her). For the past couple of weeks, she's been refusing to eat any baby food with a chunky texture. She's also been refusing regular adult food (chicken breasts, green beans, etc.). I think this might be a combination of how much easier it is for her to feed herself smoother food and how much more satisfying it feels in her mouth. She also won't let me add anything to the smooth food. If I try to put a piece of chicken in her squash, she'll suck all the squash off and spit the chicken out.

Next week, Aerin will be starting the Eema & Me (Eema is Hebrew for Mommy) program at her preschool. We'll have to see how that goes and then decide if she's ready to start preschool this year. My guess is that she is not. We both enjoy the Munchkin Minyan playgroup at our shul, but I'm curious to see how Aerin does with a longer, more structured program.

Lastly, we just got back from our very first trip to New York City (Andrew's hometown and where I went to college). I'll be posting more about it later on, but you can see the pictures here.