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Saturday, December 30, 2006


Well 2006 is winding down and we have a lot to be grateful for this year. Jeffrey is truly a gift and I feel so blessed to have him. He’s such a pleasant guy, so full of smiles and giggles. I truly can’t image our life without him anymore. He’s just such an amazing creature. It’s a joy to watch him learn and discover the world around him. In a few short weeks he’ll be a year old. It’s amazing how quickly this year has flown by. I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and prayers this year. I don’t know how we would have made it without everyone’s support.

I wanted to do this for Thanksgiving but somehow the time escaped me. I just wanted to make a list of the important people in my life and thank them, albeit belatedly for helping us make it through this tumultuous year, and also to let everyone else know how great you are. To start with our fabulous friends:

  • Marc and Heidi helped us make it through the pregnancy and even letting me crash family events when I had bad days and Brian wasn’t home. They also were a great source of support and knowledge for the NICU, helping us understand all the ins and outs of preemie life.
  • Kevin and Kimberly not only brought me Pepsi when it’s all I craved through the pregnancy but helped during the hospital and after when brought our little miracle home.
  • Kurt and Steph drove all the way out here too many times to count to give us counsel and friendship and the knowledge that you don’t have to be next door to be great friends. They also continue to let us use them and their home as a way station as we travel for parts unknown.
  • Liane has been our master babysitter. Letting us sleep at her house before Jeffrey’s MRI, watching him so we can clean our house, get out to dinner, and consistently making Jeffrey laugh like no one else. She also lets me vent on bad days and doesn’t get mad when we don’t de-cat our house very well.
  • Jen and Michael have lent their support online and over the phone throughout the pregnancy and beyond. We wish them luck with their (almost here) peanut and can hopefully continue beta testing parenting techniques for them.
  • Alicia came out and spent a week creating Jeffrey’s gorgeous mural and visiting the NICU with us. Thanks to her he has the coolest room in the world. We all wish we had this when we were kids. She has incredible talent and a beautiful heart. Support her art and buy some of her stuff, people!
  • Mike and Wendy drove to our place at two in the morning to get us clothing and camera when we found out we’d be having a baby that night. It’s tough to find better friends.
  • Adam & Joanne and Angela & Mark, the editors-en-absentia of our parenting guidebook, volume 2.
  • Sue, the dispatcher from Hilton Fire Department, made preemie-sized clothes for Jeffrey while he was in the hospital and has been a great source of advice along the way.
  • Monica (Jeffrey’s Physical Therapist), Jennifer (Jeffrey’s Vision Therapist) and Michelle (Jeffrey’s Early Intervention Coordinator) for being the closest thing to a manual for “Why did my kid do that?” and “When should we … ?”.
  • Al Davis, the former president of RIT who setup the Sarah Patterson/Louise Hall scholarship in honor of his late wife’s sister which has greatly helped us to afford Jeffrey’s childcare expenses.
  • My coworkers went out of their way to be accommodating to me during this entire year. They let me pump fifty times a day when Jeffrey was still in the hospital and understood why my mind wasn’t completely on the job. It’s a pleasure to go to work every day with such good people.
  • The following people, in no particular order: Fred & Maria, Nichole, Tiffany, “Aunt” Cindy, Kitty, Barbara, the entire staff at Premier Abstract & Title/Gates Ambulance (for keeping Jeffrey entertained while Brian fixed computers!), the blog readers from and, Mary, the staff of the Golisano Children’s Hospital NICU, (there’s a humor-side to this, after all), Ben & Shipley, Rich & Lisa, Margaret’s House (especially Ana, Julie and Roberta)

A special note to our families:

Thank you so much. Thank you for my showers and for driving out to see us, for listening to our rules about the baby and not getting angry or demanding with us. I wish we were able to see you all more often and that I was able to adequately express my profound joy in having such a giving family. Thank you for the hours you’ve spent with us on the phone assuring us that it would all work out. Mom & Dads Meehan & Sheppard, Meme & Poppy, Grandma & Grandpap Sheppard, Bonnie & Roger all spent countless hours with us in person and in spirit – and sometimes just to remind us to update the blog!

Especially thanks to my mom. She drove back and forth with me daily to the NICU, gave up two months to come and stay with Jeffrey and respected our house and our rules without any complaint. She made me proud to be her daughter and I can only hope that I can be half as good to Jeffrey as she is to me.

I am simply so amazed at the love and care that people poured out for us. Thank you everyone for your generosity (of both gifts and spirit) and if I didn’t mention you specifically it is not because you didn’t touch our lives but because there are too many people to mention. Looking back, this was one of the most heart wrenching and yet fulfilling years of my life. We found our Jeffrey and he is life-affirming and spectacular. We discovered that life can be tough with your family far away, but that friends are the family you pick out yourselves. All in all, I’m looking forward to next year and new memories and more time with our precious little boy. Have a wonderful New Year and may all your wishes come true and your lives be full of blessings.

Danielle (and Brian)

Song Link

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Can’t Get Enough

What do you get when you add a half plate of lasagna, a bowl of spaghetti, 2 cheese ravioli, and various croutons and assorted snack foods? If you guessed "a very full little boy", you'd be wrong. But don't be too hard on yourself… we thought the same thing, and yet his mouth opened and he cried for more. If this is a growth spurt, then we're going to need a bigger house!

That was the scene at Meloni's restaurant in Uniontown, PA last Friday night. Grandma & Grandpa Sheppard took us out to dinner with Aunt Ann. Everyone was amazed by our bottomless-pit-in-a-highchair. I, for one, see the silver lining on this cloud of insurmountable grocery bills. As he eats more off my plate, the oversized portions that restaurants give you don't end up going into my belly. Think of it as a sort of baby food diet.

We had a nice time spending Thanksgiving with the family. Folks that hadn't seen Jeffrey in a while were amazed at how much he'd grown, and those that met him for the first time and had only seen his early preemie pictures were very surprised. He's life sized!

And what does this baby, clearly a fussy eater with no appetite, eat for Thanksgiving? 4 slices of turkey, 2 scoops of mashed potatoes, 1 scoop of stuffing, 1 scoop of sweet potatoes, some broccoli & cheese and a slice of pumpkin pie. What's even more amazing was that he kept it all down. All told, it made for some monumental after-Thanksgiving diapers. I guess that's why they call it Black Friday.

Song Link

Sunday, October 08, 2006


The last 6 weeks of drool has finally paid off. Jeffrey's first two teeth came. We were feeding him and he chomped down on my finger. Imagine my surprise finding two small razor-like protrusions coming out of his lower gums. Danielle was excited too, but hers is more of a mixed emotion. Sure, it's great that he can start to eat more solid food, but he's still nursing and that poses its own set of concerns.

Monica, our physical therapist came to visit along with Jeffrey's Early Intervention service coordinator, Michelle. They met with us to discuss his progress in the program. They were very pleased with his progress, but based on the recommendation from the NICU follow-up clinic, his visits from Monica have been increased from monthly to bi-weekly. That's fine with us, because we really like her and it's like having our own personal user's manual for Jeffrey.

Although every doctor in the world will swear that it's just not true, Jeffrey got his first ear infection to coincide with his shiny new mouth scimitars. We took him to the pediatrician (our awesome pediatrician with late evening and weekend hours, I might add!) and they prescribed amoxicillin. It got better for a bit, but came back en force. He really handled it quite well. At his weight check, Dr. Smith-Burke noticed that he still had an ear infection. She gave him a stronger medicine this time. That was all it took, and 15 days later he was cured.

Now if only the next two top teeth would come in, our son/drool fountain might finally dry up. In the meantime, he's enjoying the many uses of his new pearly whites… tastier table food, crunchy snacks, cats, blocks, my arm… oh, anything that fits in his mouth, really.

Song Title

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Splish Splash

It's fun to swim at the Y-M-C-A! Jeffrey started swim classes today at the local YMCA. We were unsure how he was going to react. Over the summer, we took him to Six Flags Darien Lake for the Gates Ambulance picnic and he certainly did not like the kiddie pools there. But in his defense, they were very cold and full of obnoxious children.

Armed with towels, a camera and a bag of swimmie diapers, we ventured forth to the pool where the class was held. At first, he was a little concerned by the water. Thankfully, it was pretty warm. Soon, he was splashing and kicking with the other babies.

As you can see from the picture, it's not really swimming lessons. To my dismay, Jeffrey will not be able to do the 400m Butterfly after this. The whole class consists of parents walking around the pool while singing to the babies as they hold them. Sometimes they get to sit on a floating mat in the middle of the pool – that's when we sing "No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed". Sometimes we put the mat on the edge of the pool and "slide" the babies into the pool.

Jeffrey especially likes singing "Pop Goes the Weasel". Mom & Dad have had a tough time, forcefully pushing out the words "Pop pop goes the Weasel, the weasel… pop goes the weasel cause the weasel goes pop" in favor of the more traditional verses. This has posed the toughest time for Danielle, as we're not sure she ever really knew the real words. Her verse sounds like this:

Round and round the mulberry bush,
The monkey chases the weasel.
Something happened, I don't know what,
Pop Goes the Weasel!

We have hope for Jeffrey that he may yet learn the real words to nursery rhymes. After a half-hour, we said good bye to our class instructors and brought him home for a well deserved nap.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Down With the Sickness

It only took Jeffrey 3 days to get kicked out of daycare. He's been having a lot of fun with his friends, squealing, sharing toys and swapping viruses. I received a call from Miss Ana while I was in class to come get Jeffrey, he's got a fever of 102.

Thank goodness we have such an awesome pediatrician. They've got weekday hours until 8PM and weekend hours both Saturday and Sunday. Dr. Smith-Burke took a look at our little boiling boy and told us that his ears look fine. His throat, while it always sounds junky, was clear and there was nothing in his lungs. Therefore, he most likely had some sort of virus and it would be gone on its own in about 6-9 days. Then she shared with us the magic of baby Motrin.

Even though he was sick, Jeffrey was fairly playful the next day. I didn't have any classes until afternoon, so our friend Heidi helped us out by babysitting for Jeffrey. She's a pediatric nurse and she shared with us some advice on keeping him comfortable while he gets better.

By Monday, Jeffrey was ready to go back to school and play with his friends.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Jeffrey got a new car this week. More accurately, we got Jeffrey a new car this week. Most accurately, Jeffrey’s parents got a new car in which Jeffrey will actively participate as a passenger.

In the past 8 months (can you believe it’s been that long already?), there’ve been a lot of times I’m amazed that I’m a parent. How can this be?

  • I wearing jeans and a t-shirt from Pearl Jam’s “Ten” album.
  • I play video games.
  • I still like cartoons.

This is the point where my wife reminds me that:

So, if I’m not feeling like a parent all the time, at least I’m feeling old. My wife used to write me love letters. Now she writes me shopping lists. But nothing makes you feel more like a bona fide parent than driving a minivan.

Danielle and I spent the last few weeks researching vehicles. Minivans seemed out of our price range, so we initially looked at a wagon or compact SUV on a lease until I got out of school. The short list included the Chevy HHR, Pontiac Vibe, Saturn Vue and the Subaru Outback. We did test drive a nicely equipped ’06 Kia Sedona (the safest minivan on the road!), but at $27,000 it was unreasonable. But one by one, as we tried to fit Jeffrey’s car seat into the back seat of each vehicle, our options grew slimmer. It wouldn’t even fit in the Vibe and was pretty tight on the HHR. Neither allowed the passenger seat to recline, a must for the long trips to visit our parents. And most wouldn’t allow the car seat to be placed anywhere but the center, which is good for now but bad if another child ever travels with us.

Fortune shined upon us when we found a used ’06 Sedona at a local dealership. It had been a rental car previously and was in great shape. We were so close to buying it until Danielle began to get worried about finances. So I searched online to show what current Sedonas were going for on some auto-sales websites. That’s when I found another one for sale in Victor at Heritage Motors. With only 1100 miles on it, it was practically new! I called the dealer. Dave offered me a fair trade for my ’98 Dodge Neon (118K miles) and that night we drove our new minivan home. I like the comfortable ride and storage. Mom likes the seat recline and numerous cup holders. Jeffrey likes sleeping in it.

We put our first tank of gas in it tonight. That’s going to continue to be a shocker for a former compact coupe driver. We can’t wait to take a trip for visit the family!

I’m proud to be a minivan Dad.

Song Link

Friday, August 25, 2006

Working For The Weekend

These past two weeks have been like a volley of Aunts and Grandparents around here! Everybody just wants to come and visit Jeffrey, and how can you blame them? He gets bigger, longer and cuter everyday!

The first visitors this month were Grandma Jeanne and Grandpa Bill. Along for the ride, my sister Kelly and her daughter Tory joined them. The four of them packed into my Mom’s new Toyota Yaris. It was worth them driving all the way out here just to see my Dad packed into that little car! Tory’s grown so much since our last visit, and she’s almost walking on her own now, just using tables and furniture around the room for balance. She’s still got a bit of baby fat to shed – she’s the only 1 year old I know that shops at the Big & Tall baby’s shop. She and Jeffrey played so well together. Tory liked rubbing his head, kissing him and offering him toys. At one point she picked up a coil of Cat 5 Ethernet cable I had laying in the living room, stuck one end in her mouth and offered the other end to Jeffrey. Hey, she’s got the concept down! Social networking?

My parents and I had a good visit together over the long weekend. They were excited to go to our Rochester favorite, the Dinosaur BBQ. Dad helped me around the house with some projects I needed advice on – leaky toilet, kitchen remodeling and a new storm door. In addition to being a firefighter, he’s also got years of experience in electrical, plumbing and carpentry. He and my Mom helped us renovate our family room in our old house, and they also built their own log cabin in the Adirondacks (it’s really nice). Of course, he’s a bit of a workhorse, so it was nice for Dad to have a weekend where he didn’t have to build anything.

Grandma Lelah and Grandpap Jim came up the following weekend. They had some serious drive in them! Their goal was to help us finish off the checklist of things we needed to fix in the house over the summer. In my naivety, I made a checklist of things I thought I could get done being home with the baby over the summer. He sleeps a lot, shouldn’t that afford me plenty of time to get some projects done at home? No, not really, as I learned. He’s pretty all-consuming.

On Sunday we visited the Upstate Watercraft Promotions Jetski race at Charlotte Beach in Rochester. It’s been almost a year since we’ve talked to AJ & Jennifer, the owners. I’ve worked the races as a course marshal for 8 years, and I brought Danielle on the first Summer we dated. This summer, we decided that the racing circuit (as far as Wildwood, NJ) was just too much travel for us with a newborn. So instead we visited and saw all of our old pals, racers and staff alike. Grandma and Grandpap got to see what we did, and learned that (in their eyes) it was just as horrible as they imagined. It’s a labor of love, I suppose.

Monday morning came swiftly. Jim and I started with a trip to Lowes for a new storm door. We re-framed the front door on the porch to fit our purchase, and Lee painted the trim when we were done. While we were banging nails and installing storm doors, Lelah and her sister Marilyn were furiously ripping out the overgrown shrubs and bushes around our yard. It was like the team from “While You Were Out” descended upon our home. The next day, Jim and I installed the trim in the kitchen from the flooring project I started last Summer. We also fixed the concrete steps out back which were wobbly and mis-aligned, cleaned out the garage, chopped up and threw out all the scrap wood in the yard and organized the workshop in the basement. I can actually find my tools now! And of course, what would a visit from Grandma be without her bringing more outfits for Jeffrey that she got “such a good deal on!”?

It’s always sad to see your loved ones go home after a nice visit. It’s doubly tough for us, with our parents living so far away in completely opposite directions from each Rochester. How does retirement near Rochester sound, everyone?

We can’t wait for their next visit!

Song Link

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Travelin’ Man

Welcome to our first post in quite some time! It’s been a busy summer for Jeffrey & Co. He’s been quite the little traveler. In July we made a trip to visit Grandma & Grandpa Sheppard for an extended weekend. During the trip, we celebrated Great-Grandpa Jack’s 80th Birthday, and bid “Bon Voyage” to Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Roger who just moved to Colorado for a new job with Seagate. Of course, everyone was excited to meet Jeffrey, as it was the first time he’d traveled to Pittsburgh. In general, he’s a really well-behaved car baby. He made the trip with relatively little fussiness and only one quick stop in Zellienople (not Istanbul) for a snack.

Just before we headed home, Grandma & Grandpap (and Aunt Marilyn) spent the day with us at Ohio Pyle State Park. Danielle and I took advantage of the babysitting to go for a bike ride on the rails-to-trails paths. The 11.6 miles along the scenic Youghiogheny (yak-uh-GAY-nee) river was a new record for the Mrs., and the canopy of trees to shade us from the summer sun while we rode was a nice touch.

On the 31st of July, Monica (Jeffrey’s physical therapist) visited us and was blown away by his progress. He’s making great strides at sitting up and following objects. We hope that by her next visit, he’ll be able to sit up on his own. The next day was a check-up with Dr. Smith-Burke and our little chunk tipped the scales at 13.8 lbs! She encouraged us to increase his intake of baby food and decrease his dependency on breast milk. As you may remember, we started rice cereal (not so successful) and oatmeal (wildly successful) after the last visit. Since we had no other indications, we kept giving him just the oatmeal… for nearly a month. We now have official word that he can move on to other fruits and veggies. Her recommendations included: breakfast of oatmeal cereal + 1 veggie/fruit; lunch of 1 veggie or fruit; dinner of oatmeal cereal plus puree’d form of whatever we’re eating. Try to include meats, hard cheeses, yogurt or ice cream.

Wasn’t Jeffrey pleased when Kurt & Steph came to visit in August? We all went together to Six Flags Darien Lake as part of the Gates Ambulance annual appreciation picnic. There were many firsts, including his first time in a pool (didn’t enjoy), first Ferris Wheel ride (didn’t care), first Merry-Go-Round (Whoa!) and first ice cream (enjoyed immensely).

After weeks of trying to make a date of it, we finally made it to Mark & Angela’s house for dinner. They’re one of the virtual authors of our imaginary guide to parenting (along with Marc & Heidi and Adam & Joanne). Mark had a fun time playing with Jeffrey on the floor, and their two children, Zöe & Luke, were amazed by his ability to roll over. Luke (5) got rather concerned while Dani was discreetly nursing Jeffrey in the living room. Not understanding the concept of nursing or the relationship between Danielle and I, he informed me, “your baby is eating your Mom’s boob.” Kids say the funniest things!

On August 9th, we got a visit from the early intervention program’s vision specialist. Her job is to evaluate his visual acuity and determine whether he needs services from early intervention, and what type. Jeanie worked with Jeffrey for nearly an hour, using all manner and sizes of shiny toys and rattles. She told us that most of his vision seemed age-appropriate for his adjusted dates – with the exception of things directly in front of him. Although his MRI in June came back with results that claimed “no PVL” and a clean bill of health, his initial grade II intra-ventricular hemorrhage and subsequent PVL have been shown to lead to Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI), she explained. Jeanie recommended a few visits by a teacher of the visually-impaired, just as a safeguard. We should be having our first visit with them in September.

For all of you anxious Grandparents out there... we've posted new pictures!

Song Link

Monday, July 24, 2006

This Is How We Do It

After spending this weekend with the family, many people have told us how much they love to see the pictures we post on here every… so often. But they all say that they want to print them. Don’t print them on your inkjet printers! It’s just a waste of money and a way to line HP’s pockets. Instead, use a local grocery or drug store with a digital photo lab or an online picture provider like Kodak Picture Gallery (aka Ofoto), Snapfish, Shutterfly or WalMart. Actually, don’t use Wal-Mart… they print on Fuji paper.

Here’s how to save pictures from our blog and print them at the online.

  1. Post a comment in the blog about which picture you’d like printed, so I can re-post it at a higher resolution. In order to save space, I post pictures at 1024 pixels by 768 pixels. That’s not enough resolution to print a nice 4x6. At a minimum, a 4x6 should be printed from a digital image no less than 1200 x 1800 – and the more, the better
  2. Click the picture you like from the thumbnails to view it large on your screen
  3. Right click on the picture. Choose “Save Image As…” (Firefox) or “Save Target As” (Internet Explorer).
  4. Save the picture someplace on your computer, preferably in the My Pictures folder. Make a new folder within My Pictures to facilitate sorting later.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 until you’ve got all the pictures you’d like.

Now you have all of these digital pictures saved on your computer. What to do with them?

  1. Download and install Picasa to manage your photos. Do it now. It’s free and offers very basic, easy to use photo editing and cropping.
  2. Picasa will automatically find your pictures and display them from your My Pictures folder. You did save them there, right?
  3. Browse the pictures in Picasa, and click the “Hold” button at the bottom of the screen when you find a picture you’d like printed. Repeat until you’ve located all the picture you want.
  4. Online or Store?
    1. Online: Click the Order Prints button. Picasa will give you a choice of Online print providers. Chose anyone that makes you happy. Snapfish, Shutterfly and Kodak Picture Gallery often have coupons for free prints or enlargements.
    2. Store: Click the Export button, and then click Browse to save them in a convenient location. If you have a removable USB drive or a camera card inserted directly into your computer, that would be a good choice. If not, put them somewhere you’ll remember and then burn the images to a CD-R and take that to your local store to use the Kodak Picture Station. Find one here and try the demo.

While you’re at it, if you’re still using Internet Explorer to view this page, consider switching to the Firefox web browser.

That’s all for now. More on Great-Grandpa’s 80th birthday later this week. I leave you with a cute picture…

Song link

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Double Vision

Well hello everyone. I just have a few little notes about the past week or so. First off, we’re trying to monitor Jeffrey’s vision and tracking progress. The last time the physical therapist came we mentioned that he doesn’t seem very interested in toys or tracking objects. She agreed that he’s a little behind in that arena and that it’s possible he may be having trouble focusing on objects. It is fairly common for preemies to be near or farsighted so we’re just watching him. We know that he can see because he does focus occasionally and Monica (his physical therapist) says that babies that are blind will not coo, laugh or smile until later. So we’re not too worried because he is a little cooing machine now. Everyone morning he wakes up and just babbles at the ceiling for ten or fifteen minutes. We made an appt with his eye doctor and after the exam they said his left eye has some atrophy of the optic nerve but that children’s eyes don’t fully mature until their about two, so he could just be a little late developing it. We have another appointment in September and a vision therapist is coming to the house at the end of the month. Monica said she should be able to help us figure out where his vision is best and work from there.

He is now rolling over consistently from his back to his tummy. It’s pretty humorous to watch because he still hates tummy time and once he realizes that he’s on his belly he gets pretty mad.

He’s going like gangbusters in the eating department. The boy is a pig. Brian is routinely giving him a ¼ cup of oatmeal at a time and he is wolfing it down. This is especially good because (as I mentioned earlier) I’m running low on the milk supply, even with the reglan. However, the cool part is we still haven’t run out of frozen milk yet. (See I was a good cow!)

Also, something I’ve been wanting to do. I wanted to recommend a few other parenting blogs that I’ve been visiting when I have time. First check out metrodad. He’s the father in NYC. Very funny. I really enjoy his posts about peanut and boss lady. I also really enjoy It’s not all Mary Poppins. She is a childcare provider in Canada. She has good advice and her descriptions of her kids are hysterical. Check them out if you have time.

Two other notes for the week. In case you haven’t noticed Brian forces me to name the posts as titles to songs. So if your ever interested google the post title and check out our song choices. (They all come from the depths of Brian’s brain, so be careful!)

Lastly, just a quick hi to anyone reading from Wilson! I saw we made the spring quarterly and wanted to encourage everyone to post a comment and tell me how you’re doing. I’m always excited to hear how everyone from Wilson is.

Love you everyone! We’ll post more soon!

Obey the Cow God

Breastfeeding is so awesome and yet the most aggravating part of my life now. I swear I spend more time and energy concerned about my milk supply that it’s sickening.  My OB gave me a reglan prescription the last time I was in and it has helped so much.  Unfortunately, the script is running out and I’m going to have to call and beg for more.  I feel like a breast milk junkie.  I’ve been complaining for months that I feel like a cow, and now I’m upset because I’m not a good enough cow.  Who knew this is what my life would revolve around post baby?  I really will be upset when we have to quit nursing.  It’s so sweet in the mornings to cuddle him in my arms.  I usually wrap grandma’s afghan around us and his little hands play with the fringe while he eats… He really is the sweetest little boy.  I am so screwed.  I’m already planning on making him into a momma’s boy.  He’s only six months old and already I’m wrapped around his little finger.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bicycle Races

Quite a bit of catching up to do! Let’s jump into our (not-so) way-back machine. Some mini posts:

Just The Two Of Us

Jeffrey enjoyed a play date with his birthday buddy, Morgan. She entered the world just a few hours after our son, but with a full-term head start, the size difference gave all of us a chuckle. Morgan is also a big fan of the Fisher-Price Nature’s Sounds papasan cradle swing, and her Mom even taught us a new trick with it. That evening, our friends Kurt & Steph got their first taste of babysitting.

Solid As A Rock development for our little star. Even though he’s below the

Solid food has also been a new

recommended weight for starting solid foods, our pediatrician recommended starting him on rice cereal because if we don’t start soon, it may be more difficult down the road. For those of our

readers without children, let me clarify a bit. When I first heard “rice cereal”, I thought of this. It’s actually more like this. But unfortunately, rice cereal didn’t digest so well with Jeffrey, so our pediatrician switched him to oatmeal cereal… mmm, more fiber! He’s doing pretty well with that.

License To Ill

We dealt with our son’s first illness this past week. He began coughing and sounding generally pretty raspy over the weekend, so I took him to the pediatrician. Dr. Tomek told me that his lungs sound fine, and that he probably has an upper airway infection. Since it’s viral, there really aren’t any medications you can take to fight it, but that it would probably go away after about 7-10 days. He was right. But those were some very cranky 7-10 days. Oh, and did I mention that we think he may be starting to get a tooth?

Jeffrey and I spent this week watching the Tour De France on our MythTV system. He’s rooting for Floyd Landis on Team Phonak. I’d like to see George Hincapie or maybe Iban Mayo make it to Paris in Yellow. Neither one of us is rooting for Robbie McEwen, that cocky little Aussie, to win the green jersey, but it looks pretty well locked in at this point.

Oh, and there's new pictures (lots) on the right!

Friday, June 23, 2006

All That Jazz

Jeffrey is finally sleeping through the night consistently. And we have 2 things to attribute this wonderful event to: Danielle’s idea to put blankets up over his windows to keep the bright morning sunshine out of his windows and the smooth jazz sounds of our new local radio station, 90.1 WGMC. Although his room is as dark as midnight when we get him out of bed in the morning – at 9:00 AM!!! – it’s allowed him to sleep for about 12 hours uninterrupted for the past week.

All of this helps us to develop a consistent schedule for the young lad. He goes to bed now between 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM, and we do our best to make sure we hold to that. Babies need a schedule. And Danielle appreciates it, because she’s getting a full night’s sleep.

We’re just glad that this post isn’t named “3AM Eternal”. Jeffrey’s right on track with this milestone, since most resources say that a baby should be able to sleep through the night by the time they reach about 12 pounds or 3 months.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Check Your Head

The board book on the table was called “How Can I Make My Insides Smile for the Camera?” and it explained what an MRI was for those who still got their information from… well, board books. Unfortunately, Jeffrey doesn’t read yet, so we just glossed over the details with him. Mostly we were surprised that he wasn’t screaming for food, since a requirement of the anesthesia was no feeding after 3 AM. We got to the hospital at 6:30 AM and got redirected a few times before finally finding the correct registration desk.

Our little heavyweight tipped the scales at 12 pounds at check-in. The nurses had a little difficulty getting an O2 sat on him, but he’s always been that way. “Transportation” came down to bring us into the MRI room, where we met with the doctors who would be administering the anesthesia and performing the diagnostic imaging. Jeffrey had to remove his onesie (it had metal buttons) and put on an unbelievably small hospital gown. They advised us about the risks of anesthesia, told us that he’s probably be tired all day and might have a sore throat from being intubated. Mom and I each gave him a kiss and went to family waiting room where they would contact us when he was finished. There really wasn’t much fanfare to write about. That’s pretty much as exciting as it got.

The nurse in the recovery suite called us at about 10:15 AM to let us know that he was just waking up. They gave him 3oz of sugar water, because it’s pretty easy to digest. Jeffrey was admitted to the pediatric floor for observation. Aside from being on the shortest leash he’s had in 3 months, there didn’t seem to be any change in this temperament.

We spent the rest of the day at the hospital. It was strange to be back on the 4th floor after spending so much time around the corner in the PICU annex of the NICU. While we were in the pediatric department, our nurses Trish and Amanda kept us very comfortable, and even made accommodations for both Dani and I to stay the night, which was very nice of them. Dr. Kita came to visit us, but really had no news to tell us.

It was hard to adjust to Jeffrey being on heart and breathing monitors again. During the day when he was excited, his heart rate was 150-170, but during deep sleep it dropped to a disconcerting 99 BPM! Although his alarms went off regularly through the night, none of it was any cause for concern since it was just normal fluctuations and movement and all were self-correcting. We’re sure glad he didn’t have to come home on any monitors!

Jeffrey was discharged from Golisano Children’s Hospital the next morning and Dr. Weddig came to see us off, but the results of the MRI were not available yet. We’d have to wait 5 more days. On Monday afternoon, Dr. Smith-Burke called me at home to say that Jeffrey’s brain looks perfectly normal, and that the cysts found on his previous ultrasounds were absent on this MRI. The only finding was a thin Corpus Callosum, which connects the two hemispheres of the brain, but she assured me that it will have no affect on him whatsoever. Hooray! We’ll see her Tuesday for his next checkup!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Welcome Back

Alright now that Brian is finished with school, my Mom has gone home and life has settled down a bit, I’m ready to start posting again. I apologize for the length of time between posts, but hey people we have a new baby and we’re not exactly experts at this whole parenting thing!

So that being said, I have some unfinished business to take care of. I want to send out a huge thank you to Sue’s friend Sue. She wrote a beautiful comment on one of our earlier posts and it just really made my day and I wanted to say thanks.

Next, I wanted to share some thoughts about my first Mother’s Day as a mom. To start with, Jeffrey rocks at gifts, he got me a binary shirt that said Mom and a chemistry shirt. (It’s good that he knows I’m geeky from an early age!) He also gave me a clock that runs on water. It is very cool. I felt very appreciated as a mom. I was really unprepared for how all encompassing motherhood is, but in a good way. I can barely imagine life anymore without Jeffrey. I spend everyday at work, waiting not so patiently for it to go by so that I can get back home to my little boy. He is so amazing. Everyone tells you how much being a parent will change your life and how much you’ll love them, but you just don’t understand until you get here. I feel so privileged to have this special boy to wrap my life around. Anyway, I just wanted to share how honored I am to be his mother and a little bit of what it means to me.

Next point. He’s huge now! Our last doctor’s visit was on May 24th and Jeffrey was 10lbs. 10oz. Dr Smith-Burke says everything looks like it’s going perfectly for him, and that he may reach the (low end) of the normal growth chart by 6 months. Yay for Jeffrey! We scheduled his MRI for June 14th to look at his PVL and see how it’s doing. He has to stay overnight at the hospital for it since he’s getting anesthesia and is under 6 months of age. I’ll post the results and findings as soon as we get them next week. I’m a little nervous about it but we’ll be there with him the whole time and hopefully everything will be fine. I’ll calm down once it is over and he’s back home with us again.

In other news, Jeffrey is spending his first night with a babysitter next Tuesday. Brian and I are going to see Phil Woods at the Eastman Theatre and will be dropping him off with Liane so that we can take in the show. (Thanks Liane!) I also have started playing volleyball again at the beach this summer. I figured that Brian can bring the baby to the beach and we can spend some time together. We’ve only had one game so far but it’s worked well so far. Also Brian has started hosting a weekly radio show on WITR called ITSO Tech from 10pm until midnight on Wednesday evenings. He and a few other geeks host it and they talk about techie things. You can listen from WITR’s web site. That’s what Jeffrey and I do from home.

So that’s about it for now. I’ll post more later this week. I’m going to try and be more regular from now on. Hope everyone is doing well and keep a look out for thank you notes. Coming soon to a mailbox near you! Be sure to check out all of the new pictures we’ve posted.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Another Brick In The Wall

Before Jeffrey starts his educational career at the Brick City this fall, it seemed appropriate for him to do a freshman tour, just like everyone else. Though instead of taking him to Margaret’s House, RIT’s onsite day care, I brought him to class with me.

Fridays are the easiest day of the week for me. I don’t have any classes, just meetings. And since it’s the last week of school before finals, there really isn’t a lot going on at the campus, so it seemed like a good time to visit.

Stroller? Check! Diaper bag with extra bottles of milk? Check! Bjorn? Check! Laptop? Check! Baby… um, check!

Jeffrey was very well behaved. He sat in the front pocket of the Baby Bjorn during my whole presentation on “Customer and Developer Perspective for the Adoption of Hardware Security Tokens”, just rocking back and forth while I talked about device drivers, installer modules and API sample code. (HASPERS! CHA-CHA-CHA!) He took a bottle while our team devoured 2 sheet pizzas. Since RIT doesn’t have baby changing stations in the rest rooms, I used an unoccupied classroom when he needed new pants.

During his visit, Jeffrey got to visit with Prof. Barido, Prof. Beaton, Prof. McQuade, Prof. Stackpole and graduate assistant Tim May. My professors have all been aware of the stressfulness of Jeffrey being born prematurely and have been very supportive. It was nice for them to finally get to meet him after talking so much and sharing pictures with them. Also, many of my professors and research team members contributed to our March Of Dimes WalkAmerica fund raising.

Jeffrey fell asleep in his stroller next to a bench of computers while my lab partner and I did some experiments with the hardware keys. Mom showed up about 5:00 pm and we all went home together. I think some of my classmates may now have a different perspective on me. Hopefully, meeting Jeffrey will have shaped, in a good way, their perspective on potential parenthood. And hopefully Jeffrey has gained something from the experience too. Oh no, he's already wearing an MP3 player. I guess he'll fit right in.

PS: Jeffrey's next pediatrician visit is Wednesday. We're betting on 11 pounds!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Purple Rain

We had another great visit from our friends Kurt and Steph over Mother’s Day weekend. They live near Albany, so it’s a big trek for them to visit, but we always have a good time. Last year at about this time, we were just leaving to go on vacation with them to the North Carolina Outer Banks. We stayed in a big vacation home on the bay and flew stunt kites.

They picked a great weekend to come visit, since the Rochester Annual Lilac Festival started this weekend. Every year, artisans and vendors crowd Highland Park while throngs of visitors come to eat the carnival food, listen to the free outdoor concerts and smell the beautiful lilacs. This year was one of the best in recent years, due to warm temperatures, adequate rainfall and an unusually mild winter.

We arrived at the festival with sunshine overhead, despite calls for rain over the weekend. Oh, if we had only listened! Parking was at Monroe Community College and RTS provided shuttle services to the event for $1. We piled on the bus with all of Jeffrey’s necessities in tow. Liane met us on the festival grounds and we all had some good ol’ fashioned healthy carnival food before wandering around the attractions. Heading up the hill to the reservoir we saw a campoeira mandinga group practicing – or doing a demo, we couldn’t tell. Dani and Kurt got snow cones and popcorn from the vendors once we reached the top of the reservoir. From there, you could see the whole festival. How did we miss those impending rain clouds?

Surely, the skies opened up when we were furthest from the bus pickup. We heard the thunder and tried to take a shortcut around the park, but we foiled by… well, we took a wrong turn, really. Yeah, that’s when the hail started. We made a mad dash through the festival grounds until we found shelter under a tent from the vendor of Hammock Chairs of Death. To be fair, his weren’t the Chairs of Death variety, just the standard overpriced hammock chairs that you can buy here and here. Being the well-prepared, resourceful newbie parents that we are, our son knew none of this as his stroller comes equipped with a force field-like rain shield that we (remembered) immediately threw over the stroller and carseat gestalt once the hint of rain began. And if it began with a hint, it made to “clubbing you over the head with the obvious stick” of thunder, lightening and hail before it finally subdued to an incessant drizzle for the rest of the afternoon. Thoroughly soaked, but with a dry baby, our soggy party headed back to the bus stop.

Cue graphics for Stephen Colbert’s Tip O’ The Hat/Wag O’ The Finger segment. And now a Wag O’ The Finger to the RTS bus driver for our return trip. We boarded the bus, and we were immediately told that the stroller had to be collapsed. No problem, I thought, and I unclipped with carseat and proceeded to fold the stroller up. “Where does the carseat anchor to?” I asked the bus driver. Surely there are latch points or a seat belt… No. There wasn’t. I told them then I would be putting Jeffrey back into the stroller, locking the wheels and securing it with the wheel chair tethers (he was very concerned about the stroller careening off and taking someone’s eye out!). That’s when the bus driver began screaming at us and making quite a commotion. He told me that our stroller cannot go on the bus, and I told him that I’d find another damn bus! And that we did. An RTS representative was standing by and overheard the row made by the driver. She secured us a spot on the next bus, which had no qualm with our transportation system.

The next morning we had breakfast at what is quickly becoming a new Kurt & Steph tradition, James Brown’s Place. Mmm… the Atlanta Heap is so yummy! Some lady came up and asked us how old our little girl was. I told Danielle that they shouldn’t have dressed him up in that damn cow outfit!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you Moms out there!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Monster Mash

Behold Frankenbaby! I, as a mom, am anxiously awaiting the sweet coos and babbles that I have been promised. We seem to be on the receiving end of Frankenstein’s monster. Jeffrey knows how to cry, grunt occasionally and sort of growl. He sounds like a Frankenbaby! Mom continues to tell me that coo’s are coming but I’m not sure.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Walk This Way

I would first like to say that I know these things happened a while ago, but I’m backdating them and posting anyway. It’s been busy (big surprise, like I expect it to change!)

Today we did the March of Dimes Walk America. It was a 3.5 mile walk starting at the Dome Center in Henrietta NY. We walked through a suburban neighborhood and it was a lot of fun. According to the newspaper there were about 1200 people walking and the event raised aver $200,000 for premature babies. It was a fun walk with lots of children and many former preemies. We took Jeffrey with us. He slept peacefully through the chaos and noise of the Dome Center and I had high hopes that he would sleep through the walk. Alas, about ten feet into the walk he decided that he was starving, uncomfortable, and did NOT want to be in the stroller. So… Dad carried him the three and a half miles. It’s a good thing he’s still small enough to carry with one arm. It was a good walk, the weather was beautiful and Jeffrey even got to hang out with the Hooters girls. When we were done we fed the boy, hung out for a bit, and met grandma and grandpap for lunch at Dinosaur BBQ. Next year we want to try and get some more people to walk with us. We saw a couple of people we knew from the NICU and it was nice to catch up with them. Brian and I collected almost $450 for March of Dimes. We would really like to thank everyone who donated to us. Thanks so much for supporting our little guy!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Can't Cry Anymore

What a fussy baby!
Maybe he’s having another growth spurt. I’m not sure, but Grandma told me that he’s been staying awake for the better part of the day while Dani and I are at work/school. Personally, I think that he’s learning to push Grandma’s buttons so that she’ll hold him. Oh, he’s a sharp cookie alright! It’s a good life getting carried everywhere.
A new milestone this week: tears. For those of you without children (see all the neat things we’re learning together?), apparently babies don’t make tears when they cry until about a month or two of age. They also don’t sweat for some time either. So imagine our surprise to see him cry real tears this week. And the excitement for that lasted... about 1 day. The next morning he woke up with a very puffy, goopy eye. Dani took him to the pediatrician on Tuesday, where we learned that he had a blocked duct. So coat some stale bread in Pepto Bismo and… oh! D-u-c-t! Never mind… The doctor told us to keep it clean but really didn’t have any other special treatment. It went away on its own and has been fine today.
Tonight I tried out the Baby Bjorn for a fit, and Jeffrey went right to sleep in it after I gave him a pacifier. Danielle and her Mom are anxious to give it a shot too. It worked out well for me, since I was working on fixing/installing two MythTV systems at the dining room table. Jeffrey, can you say “ifconfig eth0?”
And the official tally from Dr. Smith-Burke? 3.26 Kg! (7 lbs, 3 ounces). Yea!

PS: Our friends, Kurt & Steph Higgins, will be walking in the March of Dimes “WalkAmerica” on April 30th, 2006 in honor of Jeffrey. The March of Dimes is an organization that works to prevent the causes of birth defects and prematurity through research, education and advocacy. If you’d like to contribute, click here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

She Works Hard for The Money

Mom went back to work today. It was an emotional day yesterday as Danielle realized that it would be her last day of her FMLA absence and she’d have to start spending 9 hours a day away from Jeffrey every weekday. On the other hand, Grandma has been here since last weekend and is really enjoying spending time with her new grandson. She’s also been a great help around the house – heck, she already made new curtains for the dining room and she’s been talking about re-painting the porch and building a garden. She may not be a spring chicken anymore, but that girl sure has a lot of energy! Ah, we’ll just see how much energy she has after her first week alone with the boy! By the way, we’re also very proud of her… after smoking for many years, she’s cut down her cigarettes to just 2 in the morning and 2 at night in the interest of quitting, and she takes a shower after the morning ones – all for our little boy. It really means a lot to us.
Last night was a little nostalgic for Danielle and me for another reason. While we were folding laundry and putting away the baby clothes, we came to the first big wave of clothing that won’t fit anymore. Sure, he’s grown out of a few things here and there, but this time we took almost a whole laundry basket full of preemie clothes and put them away in a Rubbermaid tote labeled “Outgrown clothing”. Even some of his newborn 5-8 lbs clothing made it into the tote. I held his “I love my mommy” outfit in my hand, remembering it as the first outfit I was allowed to dress him in at the NICU, and how enormous it was on him. Even his purple pacifiers are too small and fall out of his mouth.
But this is reason to be excited, isn’t it? Sure! The last two visits to Dr. Smith-Burke have him at ¾ lbs per week. We’re expecting him to be closing in on 8 lbs at his next visit on Wednesday. And as he grows, he’s really starting to observe the world around him. Toys are starting to catch his interest. He’s doing well at lifting his head and shoulder – his head/neck control is awesome. The most noticeable difference is that he’s beginning to stay awake longer. He was up for almost 5 hours yesterday, because he never went to sleep after lunch.
It’s been really busy for me this past week, so updates have been scarce. It’s week 5 of the 10 week quarter here at RIT, and midterms are this week. Last week was the due date for some of our major assignments. This gives the professors an opportunity to grade a substantial assignment before the drop/add deadline expires, in case a student decides that a class is not in their best interest. So I apologize to all the avid readers that check here on a regular basis for updates. Maybe we can get Grandma to post a blog entry while she’s visiting!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Steppin' Out (With My Baby)

It’s growing time!
We had a great week with Jeffrey. Rochester has been graced with nice weather this past week, reaching into the mid 60’s. With his progress, we decided that it was time to enjoy the big wide world. Fire up the Zooper, we’re going for a walk!
We headed down Lake Ave., enjoying the sunshine, and Jeffrey went right to sleep. The bumps in the sidewalk must’ve soothed him. Once we got to the center of town, we decided to visit the firehouse. It’s quiet and there likely wasn’t going to be a lot of people there; plus we’d get to visit with Sue.
At the firehouse, we had fun posing the boy in a fire helmet, on the ambulance and on the firetruck. He’s still tiny enough to actually fit into the helmet – but not for much longer! Sue told us that she was proud of us for not falling into many of the new parent paranoia traps until today – arriving at the firehouse with him in a onesie, pajamas, a jacket and 3 blankets.
The good weather continued, and with the blessing of our pediatrician we went for another walk on Thursday. Once around the block and a quick run through the aisles at the local Ben Franklin. His stroller really seems to induce narcolepsy. We even got a chance to say “hello” to some of our neighbors, whom we haven’t seen in several months!
On Friday morning we got a visit, bright and early, from the Early Intervention counselor with her teacher and physical therapist colleagues. They were very impressed with his progress. The therapist applauded our attention to tummy time and was impressed about how well he could lift his head and upper body, as well as his gaze. She told us that it may only be a few weeks before he’ll start to smile – a real smile! All in all, he’s right where he should be, and in some ways even ahead of where a 10 day old should be.
Finally we went to visit Dr. Smith-Burke for his weekly checkup. Get this – 12 ounces since last visit! His cheeks are filling out and his legs are getting bigger. And certainly he’s getting stronger. Most noticeably he’s getting louder. He showed us that when he got his Synagis booster.
Danielle’s going to finish off the rest of this week with her own post about Jeffrey’s first visit at home from Grandma and Grandpap Sheppard… to be continued!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hungry Eyes

Jeffrey learned a new trick this weekend. He can look at things now. Oh sure, he’s had eyes all this time (they’re blue), and they’ve been open too. But just this week, he’s begun to make a visual connection. He’ll look at thing around him. He’ll study our faces when we pick him up. It’s hard to explain how we even noticed this new activity. It’s not like he wasn’t looking at us before – it’s just that he looks at us now instead of through or around us. His pupils seem to react to light more and I think he can focus better now.
And why not? He’s now officially born, adjusted-wise. Happy Birthday! Although he’s 2½ months old, he’s starting to act like a newborn more and more everyday, and that’s pretty exciting for us. This also means that he’s growing, which means he’s eating a lot more and that keeps Danielle quite busy as his sole source of cuisine. She’s so busy in fact, that we had to start outsourcing his breast milk storage when we ran out of room in our two freezers!
Tummy time is getting a little more active. He can lift his head, shoulders and upper body on a consistent basis now. He’s begun to watch toys as we move them around his head. He notices when we move suddenly if we’re within his visual range.
Another big change around here is… changing him. He’s outgrowing preemie outfits and he’s graduated out of preemie diapers. That means that it’s a rush for Danielle and I to get him into all of his cool outfits from everyone at least once before they’re too small for him.
As each day passes, we’re having more and more fun with him. He tags along around the house with us – from sorting laundry, vacuuming or making dinner to configuring network equipment and writing scripts – we’re learning to do these one-handed.
Uh oh… gotta wrap this up. He’s ready to eat again!

PS: New pictures (45) posted today. And for reference, compare this picture to the one in the post titled "Emperor's New Clothes". It's the same outfit.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Eat It

Week #3 at home is underway and it is going pretty well. Jeffrey appears to be having a growth spurt because he ate for almost four hours last night and for about two hours tonight. He nibbles for ten or fifteen minutes, sleeps for ten and then fusses for food again. It’s a little frustrating but I do think that it has helped my milk supply and I know he’ll be growing bigger because of it. He’s sleeping pretty well at night; he’s going for about four hours at a stretch. Brian and I are splitting the night feedings so that we can both get some sleep.
We had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and Dr. Burke said that he looks really good and he’s growing like a tiny weed. He is up to 5lbs 10oz. and is measuring at 19½ inches!! He’s still having some issues with his reflux but Dr. Burke thinks that we’ll continue his medications at their current levels. Hopefully, he’ll just grow out of the meds and we won’t have to worry about them anymore.
Next week, he gets his Synagis shot for RSV along with his weight check. This is the last one he’ll need this year since the flu season is over in May. We asked Dr. Burke about making sure that he gets the shots next year since he’ll be in daycare and at high risk for RSV. She let us know that she doesn’t foresee having any problems getting it in the future. We were worried because it’s very expensive (about $1000 per dose) and it needs to be given every 30 days during cold and flu season. With our doctor’s backing it will make it easier to convince the insurance company to pay for it.
In other news, I’m getting a little more used to the idea that I’m a Mom and that we get to keep him. We’re starting to get into a routine and I’ve actually been able to get a few things done in the house. We ordered baby announcements the other day and although most everyone knows that he’s been born, I want to send pictures of him and celebrate our little guy.
Anyway, I’m going to toddle off to bed now. It’s late, since the boy wouldn’t stop eating for most of the evening and may wake again at anytime. I wanted to let everyone know how our boy has grown and that we’re so proud of him. Goodnight.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Hungry Like The Wolf

Okay, apparently I gave birth to a wolverine. This kid is hungry, and does he ever let you know it! The noises and expressions that he throws at us are quite entertaining. He is primarily breastfeeding now but Brian is giving him at least one bottle per day with a little Neosure added for a few extra calories. He’s eating about every 2-3 hours but has been going for about 5 hours at night. Sadly, some nights he only goes for about 2 hours. We call those “Weekdays”. He likes sleeping in his bouncer, play pen and crib, but mostly on Mom or Dad’s chest.
It’s been almost two weeks at home and we’re doing pretty well. Jeffrey is truly a joy to behold. We’ve been spending our days eating, sleeping and snuggling together on the couch. I even get to sleep and eat occasionally. Jeff has moved into the crib in his bedroom at night. And while that sounds like an incredibly calm new parent move, we have the video monitor trained on him so that I can observe his every move at night. It’s JeffreyCam, all night long, and the microphone is so sensitive that we hear every noise he makes. I am amazed at the amount of noises that come out of him in his sleep. He seems to laugh at us a lot. I’d imagine that we’re pretty laughable as new parents.
We have been faithfully giving him five minutes of tummy time each day. He hates it so much!! It is obviously the most devastating torture that we could devise. He’s doing well though – he’s moving his head back and forth and lifting himself up a little on one arm. Brian tries to make him climb things like the Boppy pillow, couch cushions and the cats. He’s getting bigger by the day. We went to the doctor for a weight check on Wednesday and the boy is officially five pounds!!! Yeah Jeffrey! He’ll be growing out of the preemie clothes any day now.
Jeffrey’s becoming a very well read baby. At the hospital, we read The Little Prince and a book of Eric Carle stories. Once he came home we finished off Charlie & the Chocolate Factory during his first week. I came back from the book store with a Where the Wild Things Are, Are You My Mother, Grimm’s Faerie Tales, Greek Gods, and Jazz ABZ. Even if he doesn’t understand them, at least his grandfather should appreciate that last one.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Rythym of the Night

After reading Thursday’s post, some of our readers expressed concern about the environment where we were raising our child. They pointed out that our selection of songs and movies showed a “clear Biggie-sized neo-growth partisan agenda”. Well, Mr. Colbert, let me set the record straight!
We do everything we can to encourage Jeffrey to be as well-rounded as possible. In fact, if you look at the pictures (yes, Grandma Lelah, I posted new ones yesterday!), he’s getting rounder by the day. So in addition to the songs and movies mentioned before, rest assured that he’s also enjoying a cornucopia of sights and sounds including Little Richard, Little Shop of Horrors and Little Women. And if that weren’t balanced enough, we drive right down the center line by watching Big Trouble in Little China, Malcolm in the Middle, and of course, Medium.
So, here it is, 4:48 AM. Jeffrey’s up, so I’m up. You see, raising a baby is tricky trick work, and today he’s working the night shift. And being only 17 inches tall, his mode of transportation to work is Mom & Dad. What does a 38 week old baby do? He’s a sucker. Bottle or breast, he sucks on it and fills up his belly (more or less) with the yummy juice inside. P.T. Barnum is credited (incorrectly) with the quote, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” According the US Census Bureau, there are about 8 born in the US every second.
The lactation consultants and the NICU blame (or credit, you choose) his more frequent feeding schedule with a “growth spurt”. Babies at his age and older have short periods of intense growth, usually marked by increased feeding amounts at closer intervals and general fussiness. And I was surprised to find out just how much difference a teaspoon of NeoSure in his breast milk bottles makes – the extra calories can give him up to an hour longer nap!

A baby is an alimentary canal with a loud voice at one end and no responsibility at the other. - Ronald Reagan

Thursday, March 09, 2006


The question I’ve been asked more than any other this week: What’s it like finally having the baby home?
It’s amazing!
This whole week has just been a journey of joy and happiness. Each sound, each movement just makes us smile. And as much as we’ve loved their care and support, it’s been nice to be able to enjoy our child outside of the walls of the NICU.
I’m actually typing this post with Jeffrey sleeping on my chest. He’s drunk on breast milk. It happens.
We’ve been taking it easy and trying to get things organized around the house while Jeffrey sleeps. To our good fortune, that’s something he does quite a lot, and very well I might add. We don’t make a lot of effort to be especially quiet, and he’s used to sleeping through all the bells and buzzers in the hospital. According to our charts (did you expect anything else from us?), he’s been sleeping about 3.5 hrs on average and taking about 3 ounces per feeding from me and about 15 minutes of nursing from Danielle. We were told to expect some of his eating and sleeping habits to change when he came home, until he adjusts to his new environment. And to top all of that, Jeffrey moved into his own room after just two nights home with us. We tried it to see how he would do, and he aced it! Of course, we keep the baby monitor glued on him all night long, but this was one more step in making it feel like things are becoming a little more normal.
Wednesday was our big day. At 9:00 AM, Tery Waterhouse from Monroe County’s Early Intervention Program came to visit him. She explained how the program worked. Because Jeffrey was a preemie and diagnosed with PVL, he has a higher potential than full term babies to have a learning disorder or developmental disability. The EIP works to minimize the impact that has on the child’s life. They have teachers, social workers, physical therapists, nurses and more! Best of all, the program is funded through the taxes we already pay and Federal Grants. And since they understand the situation that newborn preemies are in, they come to your house for all visits! Jeffrey will remain in this voluntary program until age 3.
After Tery left, we packed up the boy and headed to his pediatrician’s office. It was a quick visit with Dr. Gretchen Smith-Burke to learn that he’s gained 4 ounces since discharge and 2 inches since birth – 4 lbs 14 ounces and 17 inches long. We’ll be seeing her every week to monitor his weight. We scheduled his follow-up boosters and made sure that we were all on the same page with his care and well-being.
Our last stop of the day was Rochester Eye Associates. The eyes are one of the last things to fully develop in a newborn. Because of this, Jeffrey had two eye exams while in the NICU. In the back of the eye is the part known as the retina. It apparently grows from the inside towards the outer edge of the eye. After his 2nd exam, they declared his eyes “zone 2, immature”, which means that the retina has grown into the 2nd of 3 zones on the back of the eye. The zones appeared to be ring shaped on the drawing they showed me, like a bullseye. The immature simply means that they’re not done growing yet. More importantly, they didn’t find any signs of eye disease like ROP or scaring of the retina. During this exam, Dr. Assilan found Jeffrey’s eyes to now be “zone 3, immature”. This is perfectly acceptable for a child that is still two week before his due date. We grabbed some burgers at Zebb’s and headed home after a very long day. Jeffrey had gone 7 hours without a feed (normal for all the stress he’d had) and we knew that any moment he was going to explode into fits of “Feed Me Now. Jeffrey Smash!”
Once the boy was fed, we took the opportunity to sort through all of his clothing and make piles for different sizes, and finally put it away in his dressers. I tell you, we’re going to get organized… just you wait! Thanks to everyone’s great gifts, our boy will be wearing clothes for a long time!
The last development of this first week home is Tummy Time. We started this with Jeffrey on Sunday, for only 5 minutes, and managed to increase it to several times a day for a few minutes each time. His doctors and development specialists recommend placing a rolled up receiving blanket under his arms to encourage his movement around. We’ve also propped him up on the Boppy pillow so that he could feel the movement in his legs making his upper body move up and down. So far, he’s been able to lift his head up and move it from left to right, as well as lifting both of his legs. On one occasion, he used his right arm to push himself up for just a few seconds. While he doesn’t grab at things, he does clutch things when he knows where they are: his pacifier, the collar of my shirt, my finger, etc.
Danielle’s already trying to hook up Jeffrey with a certain young Newberry girl. Ms. MacKenzie Jane is a petite young lady, especially next to her brother. I told Dani that he’s got his work cut out for him… she’s an older woman, by almost 20 months!
Not that I want Jeffrey to think that he’s small. On the contrary. Heck, he’s still negative 2 weeks old, considering that his due date was March 22nd. We refer to him as “big guy”, but sometimes that’s not enough. So we play Big Time by Peter Gabriel, and put on CDs by Big & Rich and Mr. Big. We watched Big Fish, The Big Lebowski and of course, Tom Hanks in Big. I wonder if it’s getting through?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Homeward Bound

My apologies to all of you walking around on Thursday with 80’s tunes stuck in your head. Here’s a Paul Simon one for you today. Homeward bound. Home, where my thought’s escaping. Home, where my music’s playing…
Jeffrey’s countdown ended without any interventions, and we were able to bring home our boy yesterday afternoon. He had his battery of vaccinations over the past two days: Pneumococcal Conjugate (Prevnar), Haemophilus Influenzae B (Hib), Polio, DPT, Hepatitis B, and RSV (Synagis). Vaccines are one of the few things that premature babies can get at the same time as their full term counterparts, despite their “corrected” age. Nurse Cindy was doing everything she could to help us get out the door, but was quite burdened by a whopping 4 babies in her room! Nevertheless, she got our supplies, clothes and food packed for the trip home while Mom fed him and I got his car seat ready. We were a team with a mission!
One of the strangest feelings I had when I got there was being able to pick up and hold my son, and walk across the room. For so long, he’s had a 6 foot leash to his bedside monitors. I was so excited to pick him up and walk to the other side of the room and shout, “Look, there’s your bed all the way over there!”
As we got ready to leave, we presented the NICU staff with a cookie cake for the day staff and one for the night staff, in appreciation of their hard work, care and support for our soon (and us) over the past 56 days. We signed a card with each one, addressed to all of the doctors, nurses and specialists that have been part of Jeffrey’s team for the past 2 months. To the best of our memory, thanks go to: Barb, Betty, Carol, Cathy, Cheri, Cheryl, Chris Tryon, Cindy, Colin, Daynell, Hyacinth, Jeanne, Judith, Judy, Julie (Annex), Julie (C2), Kathy, Kelly, Sister Mary Fran, Marnie, Nan, Nancy, Sandy, Shannon, Sonya, Sue, Thembi, Dr. Ben-Saad, Dr. Carl D’Angio, Dr. Erik Thingvoll, Dr. Mark Lavender, Dr. Rob Sinkin, Dr. Theresa Murray, and Dr. Woodward.
Our trip home was uneventful. We stopped at DiBella’s and got some subs for dinner. Dani stayed in the backseat with Jeff for the ride home, and I watched him in the mirror.
When we finally arrived home, I recorded his grand entrance with the camera and then unloaded the bags from the car while Danielle got him settled. For a tiny baby, he sure packs a lot of stuff! We opted to let him adjust to his new surroundings before feeding him, since the whole ordeal can be very stressful.
We laid him down in the play pen crib after his meal so that we could eat our sandwiches. From the couch, we couldn’t see into his crib. Being your typical, first night, neurotic parents, we put the baby video monitor in there, aimed at his face, and then set screen in front of us. Sure he was only 8 feet away, but it kept us from checking on him every 10 seconds.
The rest of the night helped us to calm down a little more. We took Jeffrey around the house and showed him rooms (though he can’t see them yet, his eyes aren’t ready). Cisco showed much interest in the sleeping tot, and watched him for about 45 minutes. Later, as he was being fed upstairs, Cisco stopped by again to brush up against the boy. Jeffrey didn’t seem to mind.
He slept fairly well for his first night. We set up his bassinet next to Danielle’s night stand, for easy access. He got up at midnight, 3 AM and 6:30 AM for milk and medicine. That’s not too bad, especially since Danielle and I traded off, and we both got about 6 hours of decent sleep.
Three changes of clothes later (prune juice stains clothing very easily!) and several diapers later… here we are. Dani’s in the living room paying our bills online, and I’m posting on the blog. The boy’s sleeping in his new bouncer. Things are just right.
And baby makes three.
Vitals: This part will become scarcer, since we don’t have a scale at home. I did consider buying a USB one that you can use for postage too, but why worry about it? That’s what our Pediatrician is for. We’ll be seeing Dr. Smith-Burke on Wednesday at 11 AM for his first visit. Oh boy, another car ride!
And the winner is: Grandma Lelah! Her guess of 2086.52 was just 3.48g from his official discharge weight. This is his weight as of Thursday, 3/2/06 at 6:00 PM, and recorded on his discharge paperwork. He was not weighed on Friday, since he was discharged before nightly weighing. Congratulations, your Amazon gift certificate is on its way. May I make a suggestion?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Final Countdown!

OK, admit it. Upon reading that headline, you’ve got synthesizer intro from the 80’s hit by Europe going through your head, don’t you?
Today is day 52 in NICU land. He had a tremendous feeding with me last night – 75mL without any incident! He repeated that performance twice with his overnight nurse last night and again with me at lunch time today. For reference, 1oz is about 30mL. So it was no surprise when his nurse, Carol, said to me that the doctors have completed their rounds this morning and feel comfortable discharging Jeffrey on Friday evening. That will be 1 week without incident, and also give him time for his RSV vaccine, Synagis. We also had to make a circumcision decision today, in order to give enough recovery time before he comes home.
So the question you may be asking yourself is… where do I stand in the contest? Well, here are the standings so far:

Difference Name Guess
173.94 Jen & Mike 1871.06
132 Connie 1913.00
70 Meme 1975.00
69.1 K 1975.90
57 Sheila 1988.00
41.52 Mom 2086.52
107 Roger & Bonnie 2152.00
155 Sue Fisk 2200.00
166.26 Nikki Johnson 2211.26
175 Amanda from Ohio 2220.00
320 Heidi Newberry 2365.00
320 Professor Beaton 2365.00
336 Joanne Macek 2381.00
365 Kurt 2410.00
384 Marc Newberry 2429.00
423 Aunt Kate 2468.00
456 Liane Welsh 2501.00

Latest Measurement 2045 (3/1/2006)
Current Leader: Mom

If Jeffrey were coming home today, Grandma Lelah would be the winner. But his trip home isn’t until Friday. He may even lose a few grams as they’re discontinuing his calorie supplement today. It’s still anybody’s game. Except for Liane… you’re just way out there!
Tomorrow afternoon we’ll conduct his car seat test. Britax sent us a Low Birth Weight insert for his Companion infant car seat. It allows his body to lay a little more reclined than usual, and it can be removed from under the fabric once he is over 7 pounds (3.175 Kg). The folks at Britax were very helpful over the phone and getting the insert to us quickly. And of course, I had the seat professionally installed and checked by a Certified Child Passenger Seat Technician while I was on duty at the ambulance last night. Thanks, Diana. This is a (usually free) service offered by many ambulance agencies, fire departments, police departments and even some baby specialty stores, and I encourage every parent out there to take full advantage of it. As many as 82% of car seats are installed incorrectly!
What will parenthood hold for us once our son is home with us? We’ll soon find out. It sure is looking like baby around here, though! His feline siblings are eagerly awaiting… not really. They’re cats and frankly they don’t care about very much at all.
Vitals: 2045g today at 6 PM. I’ll update this post when I get home tonight. Ad lib feeds continue and intake increases daily. He’s starting to show signs of being able to stare are Dani and I, which is pretty good for 37 weeks…