Thursday, August 2, 2012

How Can I Love This Much?

I must say, I really miss blogging! But as all parents know, many days end while you crawl into bed and ponder in amazement how you ever got to the bathroom during the day. Ahhhh, parenthood!

I must catch you up on our tiny tot (a little lady who has many nicknames!) She currently weighs 9 lbs 7 oz! We traveled back to the NICU last week to repeat her swallow study. She is improving! We now thicken her bottles to the 'nectar' consistency rather than the 'honey thick.' The speech therapist was confident that in 1-2 months we will be able to move to the 'thin' consistency, which is just good ol' formula mixed with water. We won't know what to do with ourselves when it takes less than five minutes to prepare a bottle!

After taking her bottles like a champ, Elise still struggles with reflux. If we don't increase her Prilosec when her weight increases, we see signs of the reflux almost immediately. Looks like she may be on Prilosec for a year or so. That's not uncommon for preemies. However, we have been able to wean Elise off the lung medicine that helped her in the NICU to get fluid off her lungs and breathe at a normal rate. We are down to one medicine, given twice daily, and her vitamin...truly blessed!

Can you believe Elise will be six months old August 8th?? Of course she is not expected to act like a 6 month old, but she sure is doing some 2 month old tricks...which is her adjusted age!

I love to track people with my eyes!

Not so sure about this Bumbo's a lot of work to keep this big ol' head up! 

As for Elise's eyes, she is still right on track! The eye doctor wants to see us once more since the blood vessels have not grown the length of her eyes yet. The doctor hopes to see this happen in the next 1-2 months. Then, he will see her every 3 months. We have noticed a little bit of a lazy eye when Elise looks at us. However, Dr. Roberts said lazy eyes can not be determined until 4-5 months adjusted age. Since Elise is only 11 weeks adjusted, Dr. Roberts said what we are seeing might disappear as Elise continues out of the newborn phase.

At the eye doctor...waiting for my pupils to dilate! 

Elise has taken her eyes on a road trip this summer! We traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to visit Elise's Ami and Grande. We stopped halfway so Elise could snuggle with her great-grandma and great-grandpa Olsen. Elise did sooooo well in the car! I was quite worried before we left because our short trips to Target and back (30 minute car trips) usually involve Elise screaming her head off. I knew I would need to gather a lot of patience for a six hour trip to Milwaukee. To my shock and disbelief, Elise slept the ENTIRE six hours there AND back. This momma awarded her girl with several shopping trips while we were vacationing! ha!

Beautiful Lake Michigan...and a pretty cute baby!

Grande and Elise bonding over their synchronized tae kwon do moves 

Elise continues to be a wonderful baby! Many nights, we still have a fussy 1-2 hours when sometimes nothing soothes her. Those are the rough nights that we go through our bag of tricks searching for something to work. Usually, we resort to laying her in her crib and letting her 'cry it out.' It's not easy to listen to her scream, but knowing we've tried everything (and that 'crying it out' has never hurt a baby), the screams do become our listening 'pleasure' some nights. Still, 1-2 hours get no complaints from me. At eight weeks old, Elise started sleeping from 10:30p to 7:30a. I think God finally said, "Eh, give those Olsens a break!" We will take it!

Deep in thought...
As for our routine at home, Elise and I continue to become best buds. We attend aerobic classes each morning and sneak in some lunches with a busy daddy. Naps are fun in the afternoons and then Grandpa comes to see us when he gets off work in the afternoons.

"Gampa" and his little lady
As the school year quickly approaches for my teaching buddies, I do have mixed feelings. There is a part of me that misses getting my classroom ready, the first day jitters, meeting a new "family" of students, and adult conversations (that's a biggie) with all my teaching pals. However, I've thought of the flip side. I could be trying to juggle a career and dropping my child off at daycare, after it feels like we JUST got her home from the NICU. Many moms have this as their only choice. They have all my admiration and prayers! When I think about trying to be the best teacher I can be while worried my preemie is in a daycare, I cringe. I'm then reminded that I am where I need to be. Home with my babe...forming unforgettable memories.

Enjoying my first Olympic Opening Ceremony party...go  USA!!
P.S...the only age when stars and polka dots could be pulled off in the same outfit and look darling. 
Elise is VERY close to giving us her social smile! Sometimes she gives a real quick one...of course these are the times I DON'T have the camera in her face. Once she starts to smile and provide more interaction, I think my mixed feelings about working vs. staying home will diminish. Transitions in life are never easy, especially when a heart and soul are put into teaching, but each day as a stay-at-home-mom is a huge gift to me. I'm not going to ask for an exchange with this gift :)

Always a happy girl...working on our social smile! 
I will close this blog tonight with a new mother learning experience. When I announced my pregnancy, all my friends who were mothers told me that I could never love someone as much as my own child. My inexperienced mind thought, "Eh, sure I could. I love my students very much. And sadly, for some of my students, I do feel like their mothers. I also love my husband and brothers like crazy." However, I've learned this summer that a love for a child IS like no other. A day may be long and exhausting in this house, but when I tuck in Elise at night, I'm already thinking about kissing her in the morning.

Last week, before I went to sleep, I took one last glance at the camera, per my usual routine. The time was around midnight. I had laid Elise down around 10pm. To my surprise, when I glanced at the camera, Elise was laying in her crib calmly, but wide awake. I watched the camera for a few moments before I snuck upstairs and turned on the tiniest of light in Elise's nursery. I scooped her up and headed to the rocker in the corner of the room. The house was quiet. All I could hear was the dishwasher running downstairs and the softest coos coming from the babe in my arms. The light was dim, but I could certainly make out two big brown eyes staring up into mine. Before I knew it, tears were trickling down my cheeks. I couldn't stop whispering to Elise how much I loved her while giving her kisses all over her soft forehead. After a few moments, her eyes became heavy and she made some long blinks before she was finally sound asleep in my arms. I continued to rock and take in the moment before I quietly placed her in her crib, swaddled her, and tiptoed back downstairs into my own bed.

We always called the 8:00 hour in the NICU our 'night cap' with Elise before we made the trek back home to Seymour. Last week's night cap ranked number one by a landslide. It was such a magical moment for heart about to burst while my mind was screaming, "I ADORE this new phase in my life...motherhood." I may have had a pretty rocky start to this new phase in my life, but I am finally becoming comfortable as Elise's mommy. A bond began when I found out we were expecting in September 2011...but now that bond has really started to strengthen.

As I was rocking Elise, I couldn't help but think about my own mother (hence, the tears were for many reasons). I'm sure my mom had similar moments with me when I was a baby, as I did with Elise last week, but I'd love to know all the tiny details now. I'd love to know a lot of things about my mom being a mother to me as a baby, but a 26 year old daughter doesn't always know to ask those detailed motherly questions before her mother passes.

I do know one thing. My mother IS the reason Elise is here, alive, and thriving.

Thanks for the chat last week, Mom. And if I didn't understand before, I now realize how much you loved me as your daughter. I plan to have a bond with Elise just like you and I had. Inseparable. There is no love quite like a mother and daughter.

Until Next Time...
G & J & E