Crash Landing

NyanaLand. The Karen and Donners Show. The two have become one. The Sunshine Brigade marches onwards, carrying with it a symphony of joy and the distinctive scent of cookies.

It would clearly be an understatement to say that things have been a bit busy lately and I couldn’t even begin to put words together that would even come close to describing the fantastic awesomeness that has been our lives for the past few days. From being too excited to sleep on Thursday night, to putting Princess Drooly Chin to sleep in her very own big girl’s comfy crib this evening, things have been a total trip – but so far we’re all doing A-OK.

Did I say comfy crib? Damn straight I did. Yes, finally – after initially resisting the concept and then finally bowing to Health Canada’s regime – we had to admit that we actually needed a real crib. We had originally planned on saving some valuable space in our West End apartment by nestling her safely into her pack’n’play each night, tucked into a corner that we has designed just for her. As time wore on and her needs became more…real, we realized that our plan had some serious flaws and so we needed to bite the bullet on a crib. Now, we knew of some people that had some cribs that had been offered a waaay long time ago that we reached out to, only to find ourselves victims of the Snooze and Lose rule. Long story short, we found ourselves “making do” with the flawed pack’n’play plan for Ny’s first three nights at home, and no crib.

It wasn’t perfect but it did the trick and, despite the McGuyver-like rig, she slept soundly each night from about 9pm until about 7-8am the next day. The only disruptions to our sleep were (and still are) the scheduled alarms to change out her feedbag in the middle of the night. The G-Tube Club may not be all day long shiggles, but there are some perks to enjoy along the way. We set her food pump to run from 9pm til 1am, then wake up and fill it with fresh formula (or if I feel like staying up I’ll do that before I go to bed), reset the pump for another five hours, then go back to bed. Ny doesn’t even know we’re there. Then at 6am we have another alarm go off so that we can turn off the pump, remove the hookup, flush the line, and clean the bag. Ny sleeps right through that too. She wakes up on her own about an hour or two later, and she eventually wakes us up as she talks to her mobile in the next room. It’s hard not to wake up smiling from the sound of happy baby chatter from the next room.

But I digress…I was about to say how she finally got her big girl crib yesterday. It was a gift, and it was pre-loved, but now it’s Ny’s and it’s great. Nyana’s Army – once again – reached out and gave us a little boost in the form of Samantha, one of Karen’s online friends. She drove all the way in to downtown Vancouver with her own two little boys in tow (one of them even shared Nyana’s original due date) and just totally gave us a crib. Just – BAM. Crib. There you go. Unfortunately, we were also being visited by one of our at-home care community people at the time (this group of people are going to need a name….there’s a lot of them, working in many different capacities) and we were getting ready for Ny’s first pediatric visit, so it was like “Hi, nice to meet you Samantha – thanks for the crib. Gotta run, later!”. She was super sweet about it, but we barely had time to say thanks and she didn’t even get a chance to meet Nyana, who was busy herself throwing a fit upstairs and desperately needed a soother held in place. Samantha I know you’re out there reading this – we owe you one, that was so nice what you did and it means a lot to us. It looks great and is a huge improvement for Princess Sleepyface. Thank you so much, we love it.

I also loved the shopping spree that it allowed me to go on, using the gift card from the awesome gang at work. We got the crib mattress, some sheets, some other accessories, and a few new outfits. As many of you know, I love to shop and spend money and buy things. It’s not quite a sickness – and now as long as I’m buying for Nyana I’m doing the right thing, right? Sometimes in your life you feel like everything is clicking into place the way it should – and with a very specific reason. This week has been one of those times, and everything is clicking into place just when we need it to. I think I’d still prefer a well-executed plan over a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach but if it works, I’ll take it.

So yes, meeting with the at-home care people, meeting the pediatrician, meeting the new RT/oxygen delivery lady, meeting the kind folks at the stores in the neighbourhood, meeting some neighbours, meeting the cats…there has been a lot of introductions in the past few days and so far she’s taking them with the regal grace that a Princess of her size should employ. She kindly stares blankly, waiting to be entertained. If she is pleased with the subject’s entertainment she rewards them with a big slobbery, exuberant smile. If not, she simply stops acknowledging that person’s existence. No fits, no fuss, no cries or pouts. Just…nothing. It’s kind of amusing until she starts ignoring you. She has a way of making you rethink what you previously considered “your best material”.

But everyone wants to know about the cats. How is she doing with the cats? Do they like her, does she like them? For those who just skipped ahead and don’t really know the full story, Karen and I have two cats. This year they will be 10 and 11 years old – a long time to be part of the family and we love them dearly; everyone has to get along, there is no Plan B. I am very pleased to report that so far Nyana does not seem to be allergic to the cats. The worst case scenario can be crossed off the list – anything else I can work with. Now you have to understand that our cats have just recently had their entire world flipped and turned inside out. The nice loungey bedroom is now a nursery, their running around space in the living room is cut down, there’s boxes everywhere – are we moving – what’s going on??? Even if you take the baby out of the picture, everything is messed up for them and they’re a bit on edge, which is good. I like to keep them on their little kitty toes.

But you can’t take the baby out of the picture.

Nyana is now there, and she is there in full technicolour. Oftentimes waking them from their sweet kitty dreams with a piercing cry, or jolting them with a beeping machine just out of the blue. They can’t ignore her, but they don’t necessarily not like her either. After all, she’s always being cradled by Mum or Dad, she gets so much of their attention – there must be something worth checking out… So far, they keep their distance, and check out her stuff when she’s in the other room. I think Holly is starting to clue in, and has been seen sitting in the vicinity of Nyana. Sofie is a much tougher sell, and she’ll take much longer than a simple weekend. Oh, Sofie. As for Nyana? Like I said, if she doesn’t get appropriately entertained, you cease to exist in her world. The cats are a non-issue. They run from her so she barely even knows they’re there. I’m looking forward to seeing how these relationships develop.

There have been many firsts already, and we’re still just catching up. Today we took a step closer to more of them and brought the stroller into (and out of) The Shop. The nice handyman Paul over at Children’s Hospital put on a new custom-made wooden shelf for the undercarriage, so we can store the 25lb Mr. Battery down there (he has to tag along with Mr. Bipap on any outside stroller rides). Without the aftermarket upgrade, Mr. Battery would have to ride right above the front wheel (on a three wheeled jogging stroller), which creates both a steering problem and a tipping hazard. The new shelf fixes that problem by placing the battery weight lower and further back. It’s totally badass and Paul did a great job on it.

Tomorrow, we have the day off. Some neighbours are dropping by when they get home from work but other than that, for the whole day, we are on our own. There’s still a lot of work to do around here, but it’s nice to have a day of calm acclimatization to look forward to. It will probably fly by and we’ll get just a fraction of our to-do list accomplished. It’s funny – of course, it’s a whole new game now that she’s at home, but – this whole time we’ve been so focused on being medically trained well enough to handle a child with sick lungs that we’ve barely given a thought to being actual parents. And while we feel confident and prepared enough to handle her care, medically speaking, we’ve suddenly realized that we are way behind in learning about taking care of a baby in our own home. What most parents do for their one month old baby, we’re trying to figure out how to do for our seven month old baby, which is really the equivalent of a four month old baby. And while we’re all very familiar with each other by now, there’s a lot of new for us too. Even though we’re trained on hospital protocol, there are a lot of ways to streamline procedures to custom fit our lifestyle and home. So there’s been a lot of learning and discovering for all three of us.

Tomorrow should be a good day.


About Donners

Thirtysomething father to The Royal Princess of The Sunshine Brigade, a 27 week preemie who survived 222 days in the NICU. The Queen and I are still crazy in love, and life in Vancouver's West End is getting back to a whole new normal that we've always been waiting for but never knew we would get quite like this.
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5 Responses to Crash Landing

  1. Twiggy says:

    Wow! Your day is busy, and she’s such a trooper! It sounds like you all are doing a wonderful job.

  2. Juju says:

    Great update, Donners!

  3. Samantha says:

    Awe thank you Don – it was my pleasure to help/meet you guys (I met THE Karen Brackett!) You are right though, you do owe me, I want to give that lil Princess a squeeze sometime! So Karen, let me know when you’re ready for a walking coffee and we (Evan and I) will come out your way (hello MrOcean!) Hope the crib wasn’t too hard to assemble and is now working as well as hoped. We are all so happy to hear the Homelife stories ! Congrats you guys! Love!

  4. Lynn Duncan says:

    Sounds like things are as normal as they could be.. a nice normal.

  5. JENN +5 says:

    ❤ We do love our Sammy Bear here at WB 2010/2011!!!
    Glad Princess Sleepyface has her cloud to sleep on! She deserves it after NICU sleeping

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