I’ve been feeling quite pensive lately, finding my mind often wandering to thoughts of this time last year. It was late August that my pregnancy started its downward spiral, finding me locked up in three separate hospitals, undergoing more tests and bloodwork than I’d care to remember, trying desperately to just get one more week—one more day, even—out of the pregnancy. One solid month of bedrest that culminated in the most amazing little cry of our two pound miracle, a day that started the most incredibly eye-opening and humbling and frightening test of strength I’ve ever endured. That we’re a month away from her first birthday has me scratching my head and wondering how the longest year of my life has flown by in the blink of an eye.
We’ve been busy at a leisurely pace for the past few weeks; getting things done and learning new things without feeling rushed about it. I love watching Nyana day by day, as she figures things out and explores her surroundings. Day by day as we inch up on her first birthday, watching her grow into the most perfect little human.
Activities and developments in the past few weeks include:
- Surprise baby showers. Ambushed again. A few weeks ago Don and I were invited to a house warming party for one of Don’s co-workers, and they made it very clear that it was going to be a very tame event and that Nyana was more than welcome. So I bundled Ny and all her tackle, and we rolled off on Friday evening to meet Don at work and head to the party. As soon as we arrived, I noticed the pink ribbons and pink balloons—the supposed “house warming party” was actually a surprise baby shower. Food and drink and compliments for Nyana were abundant, and this handful of Don’s closest workmates had banded together to buy us a generous gift card good at any store in the mall down town.
- Giggling at her sneezes. Nyana sneezes a lot. We’ve talked to her doctors to be sure it’s nothing to worry about and they assure us it’s just due to the constant irritation of either the bipap mask or the oxygen prongs on her nose. So she sneezes a lot. And in the past few weeks she’s started to find her sneezes humorous. I’ll be in the kitchen puttering and hear the cutest little ah-choo! followed by a giggle that sounds eerily like Beavis & Butthead in my living room. It’s creepy and adorable all at the same time.
- The poop chair. This is one of those things that 16-year old Nyana is going to hate me for admitting, but we have an exersaucer that we fondly refer to as The Poop Chair, because we can almost always guarantee a full diaper after just a few minutes of play. We’ve been known to put her in it if it’s obvious that she’s struggling with something; alternatively we’ve been hesitant to put her in it if we know she’s in a clean diaper and we have places to be soon. I don’t know if it’s physics or gravity or just plain magic, but it does the job 9 times out of 10.
- Neonatal follow-ups. Wednesday morning found us up and out the door very early to make it to the hospital for the 8:15am start of our 8 month assessment. The three hour appointment entailed a visit with the occupational therapist, the physiotherapist, and the pediatrician. While the pediatrician wasn’t Dr Awesome, it was one of Nyana’s regular doctors from the NICU, and we had a chance to catch up as we went about the assessment. Nyana is still right about where she should be, which is just a little bit behind an eight month old. Our physio assignments for the month are working on strengthening the core muscles, teaching crawling and rolling, and figuring out how to get from sitting to laying down and vice versa.
- Humbling notes of thanks. At Nyana’s follow up last week, when the pediatrician greeted us at the beginning of the appointment, she handed me a small pink envelope addressed to Karen & Don. I thanked her for it and tucked the card into the stroller, and I read it when I got home.
I wanted to commend you on your blog. It is amazing. It humbled me and really opened up the family perspective for me. I told our Fellow Training director that it should be required reading for our physicians. Thank you for the time and effort you put into it.
I couldn’t help but smile. Nurses have told me that they tell current families about Nyana’s blog, too, and I love thinking that our experience can soften the blow for someone still riding the NICU roller coaster.
- More culinary adventures. This girl loves to eat. I find myself amused at the dinner table time and time again, as I think back to the hoardes of negativity the doctors and occupational therapists used to spew at us about oral aversions and finicky eaters. Like her mum and dad, this girl likes her food. I recently added a food processor to the arsenal of kitchen gadgets, so Nyana is now eating homemade purées—concoctions of steamed cauliflower and cheddar cheese; curried chicken and mango; spinach and strawberries. We’ve also been given the all-clear to start feeding full-fat yogurt and other dairy. At our next pediatrician appointment in September we will start the discussion of backing off of Nyana’s continuous feeds overnight, and start exploring ways to shift the focus to oral feeds as opposed to tube feeds.
- Nurse Awesome visits. You may remember that Nurse Awesome moved to Calgary three short weeks after we were discharged from the hospital; she was back in town for a visit last week and stopped by for an afternoon to get her Nyana-snug on. Ny just needed to hear Heidi’s voice to be giddy as I’ve ever seen her. She started bopping up and down on her bum, making little squealing noises through the biggest grin and giggles. It was awesome and so heartwarming to see Nyana not only recognize Heidi, but to see her get so incredibly excited that she was here. Our visit wasn’t long enough, but we left with promises to visit again soon—she and Hubby Awesome are expecting their first child next spring so maybe we’ll drive out next summer to introduce the kids.
- Don donated blood. If you’re a regular reader of the blog you know I’m on a blood drive campaign right now, on a mission to get 222 pints donated on behalf of Nyana’s Army—one pint for every day Ny spent in the NICU. Seeing as I’m not allowed to donate until late September, Don took one for the team, booked the whole day off, and we made it a family affair. Despite forgetting to pack both a soother and toys for Nyana, everything went off perfectly, right up until the end when the nurse told Don she was done and about to remove the needle. Don nodded, turned to look at the site, and promptly fainted in the chair. He would like me to be abundantly clear that the fainting had nothing to do with the needle or the sight of blood and everything to do with blood sugars and losing a pint of blood. I give him huge thanks for going through with it, even though we both sort of knew how it would end. I can go back to my regular donations next month, and he can be proud that he contributed to Nyana’s blood drive. If you haven’t signed up and donated a pint yet, check the Facebook page for more details on how to participate.
To think back on where we were a year ago, standing on the edge of something hugely life-changing in more ways than can be explained, I’m still baffled at how we went from there to here and have such an amazing daughter to show for it. I find myself reading back on earlier posts in this blog, scrolling through pictures from those early, uncertain days, and I’m astounded at times that those are actually my memories I’m reflecting on.
I can’t believe that we’ve all been on this ride together for almost a year. Stay tuned for some big exciting changes here in Nyanaland in the coming month—Don and I are on a mission to be sure Nyana’s second year is just as eventful as her first, if only in a less extreme fashion.