Thursday, July 30, 2009

A reason to smile

I've realized that several of my last posts have sounded kinda negative, which is very uncharacteristic of me! If this doesn't give you a reason to smile, I don't know what will!! Here is one of the absolutely wonderful things about staying home! (more to come in the future)

We've recently found out that Mr. Lawson is ticklish . . .

Sleep Deprived

My son and I really need to have a chat about our sleep schedules! Those of you who know me, know I am NOT a morning person! In my opinion, the day should begin at around 10:15am, just early enough to get breakfast at McDonalds. I could easily stay awake half the night. As a matter of fact, it's hard for me to go to bed early. Well, except for when I was pregnant with Lacey. I was so exhausted, plus trying to do everything by the book, that I went to bed at 9pm without a fuss. By the time Lawson came along, I was so exhausted, yet so busy that my evening was just beginning at 9pm! Now I'm usually heading to bed by around 12:45 after my final pumping session of the evening. (Yes, I have given up pumping during the night!) The problem is that Lawson wakes up to eat at around 3am ready to party! His 'long span' of sleep between feedings is from about 6pm until around 11pm , so he's just not ready to go back to sleep when he's supposed to be sleeping. (He's an evening sleeper like Daddy! lol) When he's finished his 3am bottle, we hang out and play for about an hour. He finally goes back to sleep until around 6am, when he's ready to wake up to eat and start his day. OMG! Starting my day at 6am after a night like that!? I'm going to die of sleep deprivation!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Alternate Universe

For my entire working life, my world has revolved around the beginning and ending of school. My 'year' begins when school begins. Starting a school year means the mad rush it takes to get everything ready for another batch of little ones. And ending a year means tying up all the little details like paperwork and programs. Most of those years the rush to begin starts in August and the wrap up happens in June, which leaves at least a month between ultra busy times. Three years ago when I began teaching at a year round school, the mad rush to begin and end happend with less than a week in between! Talk about an adreneline rush, a natural high! It was exhausting, yet fabulous. For a work-a-holic lovin' her job teacher, it was a love/hate relationship.

I haven't been back to work since the Wednesday I left for my 33 week check-up. That was 19 weeks ago. For the first time since I started teaching 11 years ago, I have missed ending one year and beginning another. If I were working this year, I would have already been back to school for 3 weeks and would be 3 weeks away from my first track out! I'm still checking my work email pretty regularly, mostly out of curiosity. Yet I still feel completely out of the loop, as I guess I'm supposed to be. That's what taking the year off means, right?

I can't help but wondering what my class would have been like if they were in fact mine. How would this group be different from last year, the one before that? I think I miss working, especially since there are days that I never get out of my pajamas! Somehow I thought it would be easier to disengage from work. Although it is nice not to have the pressure and stress of beginning a school year, I miss the rush . . . a little. Seriously, it feels like there's an alternate universe happening parallell to my life right now. Someone else is in my classroom, teaching my class, attending my meetings, stealing my high!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


  • Lawson is 4 months 1 week old.
  • He now weighs 11 lbs 14oz!
  • He is officially wearing size 3M clothes.
  • He can roll over on his tummy time mat (with the pillow propping him up, but that's a start)!
  • He's laughing out loud!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Not Your Usual Baby Shower

The day our wild roller coaster NICU ride with Lawson began, we were to have had a baby shower at Brian's work. Before we got the news, I remember him being all stressed out that we were going to be late. Brian tends to be wound up awfully tight and can find pretty much anything to stress about! ;) As we sat in the waiting room, he kept checking his watch and asking when they were going to call us. When we finally got into the ultrasound room, we had to wait again. So of course, there was more complaining. I'll never forget the moment when she finally placed the wand on my enormous belly. It was almost immediate; she said, "I'm going to go get the doctor." She had a definite look of concern on her face, the kind where she's trying NOT to look concerned. When I asked what was going on, she just said, "I'm seeing something here I think he should see." I started crying, but I think that was the first time Brian was quiet. We waited quietly for her to return. When she returned with Dr. Zimmerman he took one look and began making calls to get us to Duke. Brian began making calls to tell them we wouldn't be making it to the shower. It's funny how quickly priorities change!
Four months later, I had a shower, although not the same one. My girls had also planned a shower and on Sunday we finally had it with a few minor changes. We met at 518 instead of my friend's house. We dined on yummy Italian brunch instead of finger foods and punch. I wore a sundress we got during our trip to Europe, instead of a maternity dress I got at the mall. There was an adorable picture of healthy Lawson on the cake, instead of baby rattles and such. In lieu of shower games, we talked of the long road it has taken us to get here. Instead of oohs and ahhs over the gifts, we cried happy tears. And instead of the anticipation usually felt at a baby shower, we felt triumph over adversity. The gifts I got were wonderful, but nothing compares to sharing tears of joy with friends.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Play with me!

Lawson, Lacey and I have been home together for about 7 weeks, since we pulled Lacey out of daycare to prevent her from bringing home germs to Lawson. She's super smart and loves to learn, but she's also very social, which means I hear, "Mommy will you play with me?" several hundred times a day! Another common phrase I hear is, "But I need someone to play with me!". Just the other day, I experienced a magic I've never known before! Allow me to explain.

Recently, our next door neighbors decided to rent out their house and move somewhere else. Honestly, our first thought was, "Oh no! Renters!" Living so close to NC State, we were worried we would end up with partying college students. We couldn't have been farther from wrong!

A day or two after the moving vans were gone, we carried out our 'new neighbor welcome ritual' of bringing a treat and a card to introduce ourselves. We were thrilled to find a couple about our age with two kids, 2 and 4!!! The mom and I seem to have a lot in common and Lacey gets along beautifully with the children . I'm pretty sure Lawson will love them too, but he kinda keeps to himself these days. ;)
Now on to the magic . . . For the first time in my life, I opened the door a few days ago to hear, "Can (Lacey) come out and play?" I grew up on a huge farm in the country with no neighbors, so I've never had a neighbor come over and ask me to play. She spent over an hour playing over there! Plus just the other day, the four-year-old came over to bring Lacey a picture he had made for her. We invited him in to play and within moments they had disappeared upstairs. I couldn't believe my ears; the happy chatter of two busy kids instead of, "Mommy, will you play with me?" Planned playdates are great, but impromptu walks across the grass can't be beat! :) I think this is the start of something wonderful!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dumb and Dumber

Brian had the day off work today, since he's been working longer days to get every other Friday off. He decided today would be a good day to get a new ceiling fan for our bedroom because the chain broke off ours the other day and now it won't turn on. He warned me that the last time he installed a ceiling fan, he did something wrong, blew a fuse in the house and blew the motor in the fan! We went to Lowe's to pick out a new fan. The one we chose was called the 'Five Minute Fan' by Hunter. According to the box, it's so easy you can install it in 5 minutes. As soon as we got home, Brian was eager to get started, but had to run back to Lowe's to get the extension rod, since our ceiling is extremely high. Apparently he thought it was in the box. It wasn't. As soon as he returned from Lowe's the second time, Lacey and I had to leave for a birthday party, from 5:30 -7:30 so he and Lawson were on their own to finish the job.

Lacey and I arrived home after the party to find Brian still working on the Five Minute Fan. He admitted to having to go back to Lowe's again! He ended up getting the wrong length of extension rod the first time and had to return it for the shorter one. He also admitted to having tried to 'wing it' without the directions, thus having to do several things at least twice. I, myself, tend to be a by the book kinda gal, so I offered to help by carefully reading the directions. If I have to say it myself, the directions were extremely unclear!! There was no mention of what to do with a red wire coming out of the ceiling!! Even with both of us winging it AND reading the directions, we had to hook up the wires 3 different ways in order to have both the fan and light working by both the switch and pull chains.

Once we finally got the wiring figured out, the only thing left to do was install the globe over the lights. Easy right? Wrong! So . . . the manual shows threading the chain for the fan and the chain for the light through the little holes on the hardware and then down through the 2 holes in the globe. As we're doing a balancing act on the footboard of our bed trying to thread the fan chain and hold the globe, we realize that the globe only has one hole! We were baffled as to what to do with the light chain, which was heading straight down through the place where we would have to screw the whole thing together. We took everything down and I quickly referred to the manual. No help there; their picture shows a globe with two holes. We decided we would have to cut off the chain in order to get it screwed on. Luckily we knew enough to turn the lights off before we began cutting anything. We got everything put together and stepped back to admire our work, proud that we had come up with such an ingenious way to solve a gliche in their design! As we flipped the light switch, we realized that as Brian was cutting, he accidentally pulled the chain and turned the light off just as he made the cut! Seriously, the light was off with no chain to turn it back on! After a full out household search for tweezers, we were able to manipulate the chain to turn the lights back on and then get the whole thing put back together again. Exhausted from all my mental genius, I laid down on the bed to check out our beautiful new fan from that angle. From my vantage point laying on the bed, I noticed that the cap used to screw it all together was hollow- yep, hollow for the chain to hang through. Brian and I couldn't decide who was dumb and who was dumber! LOL Hey at least we didn't blow the motor! :)
By the way, there was not only a misprint in their directions, but also on the box . . . It should have said "Five Hour Fan". ;)

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Every day it seems that Lacey gets more and more creative with her drawings. Just a few weeks ago her 'people' were faces with legs. She's now moved on to faces with bodies and legs. There's rarely arms, unless I remind her. They usually have hair and many times they have belly buttons. :) This was the first picture she has made that included a 'background' and 'theme', where something was actually happening in the picture. This picture in particular has a very funny twist. . . Here's Lacey talking about that picture. It's in two parts, because I wanted more details on why one of her people had a face on his tummy . . .

Here's the description of 'hungry'. . .

As soon as she told me about it, I knew which commercial she was talking about. The funny thing is, she doesn't watch that much TV. She works to earn 2 'shows' a day and her 'shows' are on Noggin, so there's no commercials. We don't even turn on the TV during the day unless she has earned a show. As soon as Brian gets home, he turns on the news and it pretty much stays on the rest of the evening. Apparently at some point, she's seen this commercial . . .

Tooooooooooooooo funny!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On time! Sort of . . .

So yesterday my facebook status was "Mitzi Stinson Levering is wondering if we can actually make it to Lawson's doctor appointment on time this week. We should start getting ready, since we've only got 6 hours! LOL" That was at 9am. I was halfway joking and yet we were still cutting it close to arrive on time! I wish I were the 'on time' person, but I just can't seem to make it happen. Within the 6 hours I managed to pump twice, feed Lawson 2 bottles, give Lawson 4 medicines, change 3 poop blow-out diapers including outfits, take a shower, bathe Lawson, give Lacey a shower including hair washing (have you seen how much hair she has), feed Lacey breakfast and lunch, iron the dress that Lacey insisted on wearing, pack the diaper bag, and talk to my mom on the phone. We got there just in time to be on time, okay, maybe 5 minutes late. The funniest part is that they apologized for not being able to give us the 'coveted 9am' slot! Might I insist that the 9am slot is only coveted by morning people and not just that but 'on time' morning people! I don't ever want the 9am slot! Ever!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lawson's Future Girlfriend

Lawson has been betrothed since we found out he was going to be a boy! My friend Katie and I were due on exactly the same day, April 25, and they found out that she was having a girl right around the same time that we found out I was having a boy. Since Katie and my husband, Brian are both huge Carolina fans, they decided that our boy and their girl will have to marry someday, or at least date! :)

As you know if you've been following my blog, Lawson was invited into the world 6 weeks early so the neonatologists at Duke could better deal with the myriad of problems we already knew he would face, thanks to the ultrasound taken at 33 weeks. On March 13 at 11:09 pm, Lawson entered the world limp and lifeless and was rushed away to the NICU so the neonatologists could begin the long and tedious job of saving his life. It ended up taking 11 weeks and 1 day to get Lawson home with us. To look at him now, you would NEVER guess all he has been through! On Monday, he will be 4 months old, having spent only 6 weeks of that time at home.

Katie's little beauty arrived happy and healthy on April 10 at 11:51 am. Catesby Larew Partin was born, weighing in at 7 lbs 5 ounces and measuring 21 and half inches long. Catesby celebrated her 3 month birthday on Friday. (Lawson is the 'older man' by about one month.) To mark the day, her amazing and adorable mommy posted the cutest list on facebook of 20 things her 3 month old has taught her . . . so far. With Katie's permission, I'm sharing it here.

1. Babies do not differentiate between diapers and bath tubs...both are poop, I mean, par for the course.
2. Even though new moms don't feel great about their appearance, it doesn't matter, because no one is looking at you anymore anyway!
3. Small successes are to be celebrated: Catesby's smiles, coos, and wobbly head holding are cause to break out the champagne.
4. It's okay to be late. I never again will fault any parent who arrives to any function later than expected.
5. Stay at home moms should be paid.
6. Recording milestones on video takes a ton of patience.
7. New moms have their boobs out a lot.
8. Maternity leave is not the time you'll get all those chores done you thought you would. Taking care of baby is about all you'll have time for.
9. Babies look cuter in hats and other accessories, even if they'll only keep them on for a millisecond.
10. Baby vomit is called spitup so you won't be quite as grossed out.
11. No article of clothing is safe from baby spitup.
12. Avoiding talking about your child is nearly impossible for a new mom.
13. Taking yourself too seriously seems ridiculous once you've had a baby.
14. Leaving your baby is hard, even when you know she's in good hands.
15. Dogs like to lick babies' faces.
16. Breast pumps are fabulous inventions.
17. It feels remarkable to be needed and adored by your child.
18. It's exhausting to be needed and adored by your child.
19. It's not abnormal to want to stare at another human being this much.
20. Loving something this much is possible.
I'm sure there are more things that I've learned, but Baby Roo is telling me it's time to get my butt in gear and feed her!!!

Thanks, Katie, for letting me share your insights on this thing we call motherhood! :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

On Hold

Breastfeeding is a wonderful and beautiful thing! It is a perfect way for mother and child to bond. Quite possibly the most natural thing a woman can do. OK, I'm getting a little carried away here. I'll have to say I agree with the first two, but that last one about being 'natural' is just a load of crap! I don't care how many people say breastfeeding is a natural skill that every baby and mother share, it's just simply not the case. It's a learned skill! In an earlier post I mentioned that I breastfed Lacey for 14 months and loved every second of it. Well, what I actually meant was that I loved every second AFTER the 400,000 or so it took her to get good at it. She didn't take a bottle until about 3 months and never really used a pacifier, so for her it was just a matter of figuring out how to latch on correctly, which is the key to successful nursing (and preventing EXTREME pain for mom). I know that a good latch is the key to preventing EXTREME pain from firsthand knowledge. There were nights I sat there crying in pain, determined to continue breastfeeding, adjusting her latch over and over, frustrating both her and me until we got it right. We trudged on through cracked and bleeding nipples, through a rough bout of thrush (yeast infection of the breast - ridiculously painful, like having broken glass in your nipples), and in spite of having a low milk supply. So to say that I loved every second of it is seriously discounting the serious 'work' we put into it at the beginning.

So the point of this vignette? Teaching a baby to breastfeed is complicated! Teaching a preemie to breastfeed is more complicated. Teaching a preemie who was unable to have any milk for the first month of his life, was fed through a feeding tube in his nose for the next month of his life, and has been drinking exclusively from a bottle for the last month to breastfeed is pushing the limits. Having thrush when your teaching a preemie . . . you get the point. The thrush, combined with Lawson's poor latch, makes it so painful that I can barely stand it! It does hurt to pump, but not as bad. Lawson does not have thrush in his mouth, but we're treating him with Nystatin just in case. Not sure what it is about my breasts, but this is the 4th time I've had thrush since he's been born! I've followed all the recommendations of the doctors and lactation consultants, but I feel like I've had thrush forever! I've boiled bottles and pump parts, used Newmans Nipple Cream and Nystatin, taken two weeks worth of Diflucan, washed bras in bleach and hot water, sat topless in the sun out on the deck. . . I've even painted the nipples with gentian violet (dark purple stain), supposedly THE cure for thrush, but nothing seems to work! Ugh!

So the day I've been waiting for, the day we were given the green light to breastfeed, has been put on hold until I can shake this recent bout of thrush.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The day we've been waiting for!

Today's visit to Duke was quite eventful! We were told to expect to be there a good part of the day, so we arranged for Lacey to have a play date with friends. It's a good thing, since our appointment was at 10am and we didn't finish until after 2pm. We met with the speech therapist, physical therapist, the neonatologist fellow, the attending physician, and a few other Lawson fans.

As we checked in, Lawson began working his smiley magic on the receptionist and continued throughout the day. We had been in the waiting area for quite a while, when one of our favorite fellows who was there when he was born, through it all, and there when he left, walked by. She smiled and waved but kept walking. Brian and I puzzled over why she wouldn't even stop to get a look at him. A few moments later, she reappeared, stopping to chat and oogle over Lawson. Every time we'd ever seen her, which was only in the NICU, she had been wearing scrubs. Since she was dressed in street clothes today, I asked, "So are you just hanging out at Duke today?" Her reply surprised and delighted me! "I actually wanted to see if I could get in on Lawson's appointment. If they can get you guys into a room soon, I'm going to stay."

The nurse came soon after to get his weight and height. They didn't have a room yet, so she asked us to leave the stroller and our stuff and just carry him to the scale. As I undressed him, I unwrapped an unexpected surprise! Lawson had blown out his diaper and had poop from his underarm all the way down his outfit to his toes!!!! I didn't notice at first, so it got all over the exam table! Since I had just carried him in there, I didn't have the diaper bag with me! I was mortified, yet cracking up at the same time! I left Lawson with the nurse and went back for the diaper bag. By the time we got him cleaned up and dressed in his third outfit for the day (he spit up on the 'special outfit' before we even left the house this morning), a room was ready for us.

One of the first people we met with today was Amanda, the speech therapist who nixed breastfeeding after the swallow study showed breastmilk that had not been thickened would aspirate into his lungs. So since we've had Lawson home, we've had to add Simply Thick to all of Lawson's bottles to protect his lungs. If you've read my earlier posts, you know how devistating it was to me that I would not be able to breastfeed. Well, we had our big test today. It just happened to be time for Lawson to feed while Amanda was there. She asked if I felt comfortable trying to breastfeed in front of her so she could see if Lawson seemed to be ready. Within a few seconds, Lawson was coughing. Oh no! Coughing is a sign of aspiration! My heart raced and spirits dropped! I know Amanda could see it on my face because she said, "Don't worry, he's just getting warmed up!" It didn't take long before got himself together and nursed like a champ! So the very best news we got today was that we don't have to use Simply Thick in his bottles any more and WE CAN BREASTFEED!!!!!

Other highlights of the day . . . Lawson now weighs 10lbs 9oz, still below the 5th percentile for his chronological age (actual age since his birth), but 25th percentile for his adjusted age (age since his due date). His is 22 inches long, 10th percentile for his adjusted age. He smiled at EVERYBODY who looked at him, charmed all the ladies, and managed to keep his good mood most of the day. He is on track for his chronological age in his social skills and on track for his adjusted age in physical development. We still have to be very careful to protect him from colds, illnesses, germs, etc due to his lungs still not being healed. He will continue the daily nebulizer and the current meds at higher doses based on his new weight. His feeding schedule will be to breastfeed whenever he is hungry and supplement with a bottle of breastmilk mixed with formula occasionally for the extra calories. I will continue to pump after feedings to keep up my milk supply. His next appointment is next Monday with our regular pediatrician. I can't imagine we'll have anything but good news to share from here on out, but there's no way anything can top the news we got today! :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Moving Ahead

On Wednesday, I packed up all of my teaching supplies and moved them into my garage. In my mind it was the 'official' start to my year at home. The class that I started the year with had their last day of the school year Thursday and all the teachers had staff development on Wednesday. So it was eerily quiet in the halls of Brassfield as I packed my things. I was surprised by how quickly I was able to get everything done and even more surprised by how I was able to approach it as 'work' and control my emotions. Don't be misled, I'm very excited to stay home with my kids, but I LOVE being a teacher and if I have to say it myself, I'm pretty good at it! :) Next year would have been my 12th year! I know I'm going to miss it!

It's hard for me to not reminisce about my experiences over the years. I can still remember my first year in Jacksonville, NC; I should apologize to those kids! LOL Even though I had a great education from James Madison University, plenty of 'practice' with helping in other teachers' classrooms, and a wonderful Student Teaching experience, I'll admit, I had no idea what I was doing! Luckily I had a great mentor and wonderful team of teachers and a great conference called 'I Teach K' to help. I spent the next 4 years doing everything in my power to grow and learn as a teacher and loved every second of it. In my 4th year of teaching, I earned National Board Certification and continued grow as a professional. By my 6th year, I was named the Teacher of the Year at my school, Underwood.
It has always been more than just a drive to be good at my job, I truly enjoy doing 'teacher' things. I often call it my 'hobby' and my job. It was nothing for me to stay at school until 8pm and go in on the weekends just to work on special projects to do with my kids. Plus I spent hours searching the internet for teaching ideas. I figured things would change when I had kids of my own, but it didn't right away. Lacey was born during my 8th year of teaching. The night I went into labor with her (two weeks early) I had been at school until 7pm working on maternity sub plans. I took 12 weeks off with her, but she and I both spent a lot of time at school during my maternity leave! I returned to work 2 days before Christmas break. As a work-a-holic teacher who was passionate about her job, I had the BEST possible childcare situation for Lacey's first year of life. One of my former student's mom still had more children at Underwood and lived within walking distance. She agreed to pick up Lacey from my classroom just before the bell rang in the morning and drop her off at the end of the day. So Lacey and I could stay at school in the evenings as long as I wanted. Luckily that changed when she began going to daycare. I still spent too much time on work stuff, but my priorities did change quite a bit. To be honest, I NEVER pictured myself as the type of person who could truly put work aside. This whole situation with Lawson has really adjusted our priorities!

Lawson is 18 weeks old now, but he's only been home with us for 6 weeks, the standard maternity leave. If I were not taking the year off, my leave would have been over the week we brought him home! Since the doctors felt he just should not be exposed to a daycare situation for at least one year, for me to stay home was a no-brainer. After everything that has happened and all that we've been through, I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to spend a year at home with my children, doctor's orders!