Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Savings #2

Eat out of your home.  This includes home cooking all meals. Also, eat up any food you may have stored.

I'm a store-er.  Not a hoarder.  I keep emergency easy make meals such as hamburger helper, pasta and sauce and frozen meatloaf/meatballs.  They're easy to store and don't perish quickly (precooked food in a deep freeze can last a year!).  They're go to meals when I run out of time, or have doctor's appointments and we don't want to eat out.  Being gluten-free makes it harder to eat out at restaurants, especially if I try to keep it inexpensive.

Start with consuming any food you have in your freezer and pantry.  I always keep a well stocked pantry for emergency and a lot of my cooking comes from there.  I usually just supplement with produce.

By doing this you'll use food you already owned, you can become more creative in the kitchen and you'll save money and time.  Restaurant meals are at about 3 times more expensive than the same meal home cooked.  Although I find pasta dishes are maked up much more than that.  Olive Garden sells their marinara sauce and pasta for $7.95 (well the last time I was there they did).  A pound of pasta is $1 and a jar of Ragu can be found for $1.66 (neither of these is sale prices) and that can feed 4 people!

When we get a medical bill we didn't foresee or we just want to put some money in savings we do a pantry challenge and eat as much out of our freezers and pantry  before going shopping.

The best part of pantry challenges is the thrill of replacing it at the cheapest price possible.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My little baby boy is turning 1 in 1 week. This surely cannot be true.  I cannot believe that we survived this first year.  I cannot believe what it has turned into.  I cannot believe the human capability for love.  I mean, I love my husband, but I cannot even begin to express the love I have for my son.  It is extraordinary.

Speaking of little boys, there is one in this house that I thought fell back to sleep just now.  I turn on the video monitor and what do I see?  Him playing with the stuffed toys we have in there so he stops banging his head into the crib rails. Apparently, they are much more fun than sleeping.

We have a semi-crazy week here.  More therapy in an hour and then cleaning.  We have a graduation party this weekend, and then guests will  start arriving for the week.  Today is our last day of therapy until the 9th.  I planned it this way because of having house guests and his party, then a major doctors appointment, I felt we just needed a break.

Where did this little baby go?  There's no way this was almost a YEAR ago.  This was his second day in the NICU.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Savings #1

I'm a stay at home Mom.  This means that my husband and I share one income.  (Obviously you all KNOW what this means, I'm trying to explain what it means in MY household).  Hubs works during the day to full our cash flow in and I work all day to try to minimize our cash flow out.  If your cash flow out is greater than in, then you've got some serious problems that need fixing.

Generally, I keep things about my marriage exactly where they belong, in my marriage.  However, I will elaborate that for the first year Hubs and I struggled.  We could barely afford our house after the market tanked and I couldn't find a job, I was recovering and we just were not in a good place.  Obviously we made it through but I always cringe at the thought of ever being in that position again.

But if it ever DOES happen again I am READY!  I've got my emergency escape plan set.

1)  Stay home.  This is so difficult in our day and age. We are all on the go from the moment we wake up till our heads hit those pillows.  But when you need to save money the first thing that is a huge money guzzler is our vehicles!  Gas is almost $4 per gallon.  One gallon of gas gets me about 30 miles.  That's only a one way to trip to Bear's doctors.  It costs us $8 to go to his doctors.  So we try to lump as many providers into one day as possible.  I also try to stop on the way home if we need anything. 

Condense all your grocery shopping into one trip.  It uses less gas to drive to one location. We're lucky because we have two grocery stores RIGHT next to each other.  So when I go by myself I park in between the two and shop both sales.   Also, only going out one time is a lot less tempting to overbuy.

Look into local parks or libraries, try to stay within 2 miles of home.  By doing this you can get 6 trips to a park from 1 gallon of gas.  If you went to the park 2 times a week that's 3 weeks of trips!  I also know that the day's Bear has therapy the Bookmobile shows up to the school.  We could easily stop in (it's open to the public not just the students) and avoid a separate trip to the library.

Thankfully living on a large lot (a little over 5 acres) gives us plenty of space to roam.  We have this swing hanging in our yard

(It's great for children with special needs because it's high enough to support a child that cannot sit and the harness makes me feel he's secure)
2-in-1 Snug 'n Secure™ Swing

and Bear loves it.  We usually spend about 30 minutes out there of me pushing and playing with him.  Sometimes I put him in the wagon and pull him around.  If we lived in a development with sidewalks I would happily take him on walks down the street, but alas, we live on a well traveled road with no sidewalks or shoulders.  Sometimes we just go outside and lay on a blanket and play with the grass.  Lately this has been almost never because of our abominable weather.

All these things are free and give Bear a chance to explore things other than our four walls.  They also give me a chance to breathe and get some much needed Vitamin D.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gluten - You Fiend!

So, I was doing well on my gluten-free diet (here and here) and had a CRAVING for some cake.  Of course it was amazing bakery cake that my neighbor dropped off and was sitting there taunting me.  TAUNTING ME I TELL YOU!.

So I've slipped a couple bites of gluten in the past few weeks with no ill side effects.  So I stupidly convince myself to eat the cake with Hubs.

Fast forward to today.  I have a serious headache, I feel hungover.  I am angry, irritable, depressed, moody.  I yelled at Bear and then left the room to bawl my eyes out.

Methinks gluten is no good!  So for now I'm going to take a relaxing bath while Bear naps in his crib and just try to keep my cool for the rest of today.

So far my breakfast has been gluten free and I've got dinner in the crockpot.

CrockPot Pot Roast
1 Large Vidalia Onion
about 2 lbs potatoes (I used about 5 medium potatoes)
3 lb chuck roast, top round, bottom round (whatever cut of meat you prefer, just make sure it has some fat, it will help keep your meat moist)
Carrots - I actually didn't put any in because I was positive I had a whole bag, and yep they're not there
McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning (If you're GF read the labels!  This is one of the only premixed seasonings I buy.  And this time I got a huge low sodium one from the dented can store for $1!)

I used a 6qt crockpot

1) Peel and quarter vidalia onion, lay in bottom of crock pot.
2) Slice each potato into 3 or 4 pieces and lay in with onion in crock pot.
3) Peel and quarter carrots and add to crockpot
4) Lay meat on top of vegetables and pour 3/4 c of water in
5) Sprinkle seasoning all over the top of meat and sprinkle a little bit over the veggies.  I put it on the veggies to so it mixes with the water.
6) Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours, or high 3-4.  I prefer on low, it is a slow cooker after all.  If your meat is frozen just cook on low 8-10 hours, it helps to start on low so the meat can thaw before it starts to cook.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming...

And eventually you'll find the other side!

Bear finally had a great doctor's visit and we don't have to go back for two years!  Yes, this was a pretty insignificant specialist in the grade of Bear's issues however one less doctor is still ONE LESS DOCTOR!

Rain again.  Rain tomorrow.  Blech.  I am so over it. 

More frugal fun though!

Our edition of our library newspaper came out today and I signed us up for two music classes and one storytime.  The other story time has it's registration closed for another month.  So I will call back and schedule then.

The good thing about being "on the in" this time is that we can go to our local library only a few minutes away and the county library.  We don't have to make the twenty minute drive to the one where did our last music class. 

Hubs and I also joined the lake.  Unfortunately we're out of county so it cost $5 more, but $30/person for the entire summer is well worth it.  It costs $4/person each time to go.  So we would have to go 8 times to make it worth it.  Bear is still free.  I don't know how much we will go but I figured having a pass would make me more likely to use it.  We're already planning on going the day after Bear's party, obviously weather permitting.  The good news is that there are two lakes and we can choose to go to either with our passes.  And Bear has been in a few pools already and LOVES the water!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Same old, same old

Same weather, different day.  Actually Thursday night we had such terrible thunderstorms that we had a flash flood.  Hubs, Bear and I were headed to Toys R Us to get Bear his birthday present...shHH don't tell
Smart Trike 3-in-1 Tricycle - Lady Bug -  Smart Trike - Toys"R"UsI'm just a little bit excited about giving it to him!!!...So back to the story...
We headed North on our road to find that both drainage ditches on the sides of the road were flowing over, it actually took out the end of our driveway.  We get about 200 feet up the road and see that the water has covered the road.  A man is walking around in galoshes and the water comes up to within 2 inches of the top of his boots. 

No way we were going through that.

So we head South.  We go about 1/4 mile and see the road is once again covered but it's not too deep, maybe 6 inches.  So we head South, and then head back North on the next road over (our roads here are pretty much a grid).  At one point there is a farm on the right hand side that's about 4feet about the roadway with an embankment.  The water is bubbling out from the bottom of the embankment from this field.  It was so surreal. 

So we make our quick trip and by the time we return the water has receded. 

Come Friday at lunchtime I see a state trooper (we live in a rural area, state troopers are unusual in these parts) with lights and sirens on, then I see the firetrucks go by.

I think nothing of it and go on with the day.  Hubs comes home and says "Why is the road closed?" Turns out a township truck was driving down the road and it collapsed under him.  The same part that we drove through the other night.  Apparently the water ran over the road so hard, and it has a drainage pipe under it, that it pulled all the rocks and dirt out from under it till it collapsed.

We are so lucky and grateful that we made it safely through.

We are also so thankful that we've been so fortunate.  All of our neighbor's basements have flooded.  We've been very lucky with the grade of our land and our drainage that only our barn flooded.  Thankfully the barn is equipped with a drain (that couldn't keep up) and it only made it about 2 inches deep in half the barn before it ran out. 

The Lord has spared us from these trials in our own home, but it means that we, more than ever, must serve our neighbors.  We have been lending our dehumidifier out, Hubs has helped clean up, and we're always willing to come clean.

The rain has been so bad here that the RV dealership down the road is having a "Noah's Ark Sale".  Hubs has joked about building an ark. 

Praying for sunshine...

But I have been crafty again!!! To help a foundation for a family struggling in the NICU.  I'm making two quilts and two sets of cloth wipes. 

I love having Bear napping in his crib, I have so much free time.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Today isn't a total bust.

It was pouring out this morning as we had a huge thunderstorm pass through. But it's now sunny out while we wait for the next round of storms. It seems that we're in the hole of it, some people around us are getting nailed.

I've got cloth diapers on the line and a baby napping in the crib.


A baby napping the crib?

Why, yes, yes I do!!!!

For the past 4 days, Bear has decided that napping in the crib is not a plot against him.

He used to go down after about 30 minutes of rocking for naps and would wake at the 30 minute mark (do babies have internal kitchen timers because you could bake a cake to it. It would then take me 30 minutes, if not more, to settle him down and get him back asleep. And we would start the kitchen timer again and repeat. So if you like math as much as I do, that's 60 minutes of sleep and at least 60 minutes (usually more like 90) of effort to put him to sleep.

Last week at some point he was getting fussier and fussier while being rocked to sleep at night. Hubs was getting frustrated so we said, fine, let's put him in the crib with his soother and seahorse on.  We put him down, gave him kisses, said "Night-Night" and left.  He cried for about 2 minutes.  Sort of.  He would escalate to a cry then immediately quiet down.  He rolled side to side pretty vigorously and gradually began to slow down, as did the fussing.  Finally, he was silent for about 2 minutes and slowly turning his head side to side and the next thing we knew, HE WAS SOUND ASLEEP!

Apparently, he's been trying to tell us that he is done with being rocked to sleep.  So now we rock him for a few minutes to get some snuggles in and then we put him down, give kisses, say "Night-Night" and leave.

I have held him for his naps his entire life.  Probably once or twice a month I would put him in the crib to see if the 30 minute nap monster still lived.  So 4 days ago, I was extremely frustrated.  I was trying to get him to go down and he was wiggling and squirming. When I was patting him and rocking him and jiggling him he started laughing at me.  So I told him "Tough luck Bear.  It's nap time."  I got up, put him in his crib, gave him kisses, said "Night-Night" and walked out.  He proceeded to fall asleep in about 2 minutes WITHOUT A PEEP!  He woke up after 12 minutes, cried for 30 seconds and fell back to sleep for an hour.  He then woke up, I gave him a paci and he slept for another 1.5 hours.

Naps have been going well since then, he's better rested and I'm not so touched out at the end of the day.

I can do my chores (blogging) while he naps and we're all happier!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Well that was frustrating...

Blogger deleted all posts made after Wednesday!!!

So my frugal instincts have been having a detrimental effect on my wallet.

Bear is chronically "irritated".  His muscle tone is so tight that he kind of exists on his last nerve for much of the time.  And while he is on medicine to combat it, it's not 100% effective.  Add this irritation to teething and we're in a fussy nightmare. 

So I've been looking into amber teething necklaces and THANKFULLY!!! Bear is only getting his FIRST tooth now so I've had time.

BabyHalfOff had InspiredbyFinn Amber Teething Necklaces on sale for, yep you guessed it, 50% off!
So we're now on the bandwagon.

Tomorrow we have a baby sitter coming (who so graciously volunteered last month) so that Hubs and I can get some work done on the house, for Bear's 1st birthday, in the yard, and run some errands. 

This means I'm on with my own Clean Up Smackdown!

Okay last time I emptied the dishwasher while Bear played on the floor.  Can I empty the dishwasher and dish rack this time?!  And go!!!

Yes I know, I have a sitter coming, so I can clean.  But, I want it to seem like I'm I've got this whole Stay At Home Mom thing down not near as messy as I really am.

I'm just one of those people that falls in the category of last minute inspired procrastinator.  I'm trying to change my ways.  I have cleaning schedules, and home organization guides, etc and for some reason I always choose Bear over schedules.

My home is not DIRTY.  I never let it get that far, but there is usually a pile of clean laundry folded in the living room, dirty bottes on the table waiting to get rinsed for the dishwasher, an unmade bed, and some cat food spilled over the bowl.

What usually happens is it stays this way for a few days week, until I finally get so sick of it that I make Hubs watch Bear for an hour while I do my Clean Up Smackdown.

Today it was supposed to happen during naptime (which is going on currently), however, I forgot to turn on his sound machine.  So I can't clean up much without making noise and waking my baby.

Or I'm just using this as an excuse to sit on my butt and blog and watch terrible afternoon TV.

Or both.......

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


This is our 10 day forecast.  I am not looking forward to it.  I'm already in a funk because of this weather.
High /
Low (°F)
Precip. %
May 11
Showers Late 60° 30 %

May 12
Scattered T-Storms 79°/63° 40 %

May 13
Scattered T-Storms 74°/60° 40 %

May 14
T-Showers 69°/56° 60 %

May 15
T-Showers 64°/51° 60 %

May 16
Showers 59°/48° 40 %

May 17
Few Showers 58°/48° 30 %

May 18
Showers 58°/49° 40 %

May 19
Showers 61°/50° 40 %

Fri May 20
Few Showers 65°/50° 30 %

Cloth Wipes Begets...

Family cloth.

I made a bunch more 8"x8" flannel squares to use.  Initially I was just planning to use them for myself because I doubted Hubs would ever be sold on the idea.

But much to my surprise he was!  So now we use cloth wipes instead of toilet paper, any extra dirty ones we use the diaper sprayer to clean off and throw them in the diaper pail.  Come wash day they go in with the diapers and get nice and clean.

This was less about the Eco-Friendly aspect and more about the cost savings aspect.  I used more of the flannel I had left over (I told you I had a LOT of it, I probably still have 2 yards left) so it was only a matter of using some time to zig-zag the edges.

So far it's been an adjustment, but our toilet paper with a small amount left on it is still hanging on.

Oh, and don't worry, we don't expect guests to join in with the family cloth. 

I've been neglecting my blog for something so much bigger...

THE SUN!!! It has made it's appearance for the past 3 days....

I took time to mow half the lawn last night, put Bear in the swing yesterday and today, we went for a walk in the park yesterday and my laundry smells like sunshine!

And back to the rain we go with a thunderstorm tonight and rain everyday in the rest of the weeklong forecast.

For your viewing pleasure...
My cute cats, Hubs and Bear (well they're technically in the photo)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cloth Diapers Begets

Cloth Wipes.

Thankfully, 90% of our diapers and wipes have been gifts.  My mother is extremely generous and has bought us boxes upon boxes of diapers and wipes.  However, we're down to our last few packs and I've decided to start making our wipes.

I have yards of flannel left over from a project.  Embarrassingly enough, that project was 3 years ago.  Since I haven't used it up, or used it again for that matter I figured I couldn't screw it up.

I cut out 8x8 squares of flannel and used my zigzag stitch around the edges.  This is time when a serger could really come in handy.

I then rocked a soak with Rockin Green or Eco Friendly Family cloth diaper detergent.  This is cheap flannel from Joann's and it repels water like crazy.  So in order to get the chemicals and soften it up I soaked them for about 4-6 hours and some overnight (uhmm overnight MAY have been accidental because I forgot about them).  Then I just washed them with my next load of diapers.

I used an empty wipes box and folded them so they would pop up using this tutorial

I do not pour my wipes solution into the case.  I just put it in a spray bottle and spritz as needed.  I usually spray half the wipe, wash Bear's rear and then use the dry half the dry him off well.

Wipe solution:
I'm currently using wipes cubes I got for free as part of the promotion at the Great Cloth Diaper Change.  I love the way it smells, you simply add one cube to 2 cups of water.

But I'm way too cheap to keep buying them. So once it runs out I'll have to investigate.  Probably just water, baby soap and some olive oil.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Saying Farewell to Wal-Mart

One week ago, I stopped in at Wal-Mart with Bear, to pick up two things, while on our way to refilling his prescription.

It took me about 45 minutes to find a garbage can because they're in the process of reorganizing the store and all the workers are too busy to be bothered by a customer.

When I asked for help I was either completely ignored, given a rude "I have no idea", "Ask someone else" or given directions to the frozen food area.  I'm pretty sure no store would put their garbage cans in the frozen food section, and they weren't there.

After a long and arduous search, I found them, in a random aisle with the Tupperware.  There was a whole stack of them and they said they were marked down to $6.  There was no barcode on the price tag, so I read the whole title and it matched up.  When I got to the cashier with my garbage can and swiss chees,; it rang up $14.24.  I told the cashier that was incorrect and her answer was "It has to be that.".  No asking for someone to check it, no listening to what I was saying.  I told her to cancel my order, removed Bear from the cart, and for emphasis, walked away.

Of course I then struggled with guilt that some poor undeserving soul had to put my cart and groceries away, but it needed to be done.  This was not the first time I have been disappointed in their customer service. They're return policy is awful, and I've always felt like I'm disturbing them by being a customer.  Half the time the stores are dirty and disorganized, their pricing is disorganized, and they, as of late have a horrible inventory.

Wal-Mart and I have broken up. 

The next day I proceeded to buy my trash can from Target.  I know, still an evil conglomerate, however I have never heard the awful horror stories about Target as I have from Wal-Mart.

So, yesterday Hubs, Bear, and I went to our local grocery store/Ace Hardware (they're all in one now) and did our shopping.  We did some investigating and found we can refill our 5 gallon water jugs for just $0.31/gal, 4 cents cheaper than Wal-Mart.

So I've decided to only buy from our two local grocery stores (they're both small chains, but one is still family owned).  I'm still struggling with where to buy my other necessities, so I'm going to stick with Target and try to minimize those purchases.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!!!

It's sunny out for once and it's a beautiful morning!

I'm so grateful to the one person in the entire world who was able to make me a Mama!

I'm also grateful to my husband.  Without him, there would be no Bear.

Love is wonderful!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wow, I'm a slacker.

I have been neither crafty nor cheap this week.  In fact, the amount of pajamas I've been wearing probably isn't classy.

This weather has got me in a major funk.  Yesterday was raining (for about the 100th day in a row, literally, it was 40 degrees) so Bear and I headed out to replace his cloth diapers.  I ended up spending $111.  Hubs was livid!  He said I had just bought diapers and that this certainly wasn't cost effective anymore.

Then I told him that I sold the other diapers, and a few other things to cover the cost of the new diapers.

Then he was okay with it. 

So maybe that was sort of frugal.  Instead of just blowing money and saying "charge it" I actually took the time and made the money first.  I am $15 short, however I have one more thing to sell, for $15. 

Yesterday finally cleared up so I took up our new mower and got to work.  The grass was about 8" tall and (probably to the joyful screams of our neighbor) I finally had a chance to mow.  Unfortunately it looks terrible because the ground is so saturated that the mower left "ruts" in the lawn and I didn't finish it.  I only had an hour and we have about 2.5 acres to mow. I did the side next to our neighbor who takes very good care of his lawn so it would look better. 

Our ground is so wet here that when you step on the driveway (it's gravel) water oozes out.  The ditches on either side of the road are almost full to the top and some roads are flooded over. 

Thank the Lord with joyful praise that there isn't a cloud in the sky today.  However, the next nice day we're supposed to have is next Sunday.  Not this Sunday, May 8, NEXT Sunday. 

It's got me in such a funk.  It's such a pain to get out of the house, yet sitting in the house when it's dark and damp gets me depressed.  I just want some sunshine and some warmth.  Despite the cloudless sky, it's 40 degrees out, and we still have frost. 

Where did spring go?  Can someone please go find it and bring it back?!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sometimes special needs

bites your wallet in the butt!

I posted recently about my new diapers.  Well I've had to sell them all. The Thirsties diaper covers fit very well over the hips, too well for Bear.  He is so stiff that the pressure from the diaper makes him unable to move his hips.  I tried BumGenius and all was well. 

Bear has thwarted my plans, however I did manage to sell all 3 Duo Wraps and 2 Duo Diapers.  I'm also selling my Beco because we can't use that either.

This week is an off week.  We had therapy and 9 month vaccines today (over 2 months late) so I planned an easy rest of the week.  It's hard to do therapy when his thighs are sore so these were the last appointments for us until the 10th.

Speaking of 9 month vaccines I have Bear's stats.
He's 11 months old and weighs 19lb 1oz.  He is 28 in long.  So he's in about 25-30% for height and weight.  Which is so funny, because everyone including his doctors always remark about how big he is, "He's huge!!!' is a common remark. But he really isn't.  I think it's because we struggled so much when he was little that all of a sudden he seems to be growing well.

I think the poor medical assistant feels bad telling me how small his head is though. She always measures Bears head circumference and NEVER tells me how big it is or if it's on the growth chart, but she gets all vocal and animated about his height and weight.

Last month his head was in the 2-5% category which is holding steady.  According to the geneticist in the NICU this isn't worrisome.  He felt his head was small from molding at birth and as long as it grew on the curve it was fine.

Bear is rocking up on all fours and reaching for toys with intensity that I have never seen.  We still struggle with solids on a daily basis and moving his limbs independently.  He is the toughest little guy I have ever seen, you should see him in his walker at therapy!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bear - Finally Home and the Future

The one thing that has saved me when wading through the special needs mud, is that I just want him to be happy. If he need me forever, then at least I'll make him happy.

But then, no matter what I did, he didn't stop screaming. I felt like a failure as a mother. He screamed all night, he screamed all day. He screamed if I rocked him, if I put him in the carseat, if I wore him, if I put him in a stroller, if I held him, if I put him in the swing, no matter what I did. Literally.

People who have never had a colicky baby really can't even begin to imagine the mental game this is. It's not just a baby that cries. It is a baby that screams with blood-curdling volume, that makes your soul shatter. You are this baby's mother. They're supposed to know you. To calm with your voice, to snuggle into that crook in your arm.

And there you are, snuggling your baby and they're screaming. Screaming like you are murdering them with your touch.

I heard the words "postpartum depression" thrown out a lot. I really don't believe I had/have that. Because the days that my son had that were good, the moments when he smiled for the first time, when he rolled over the first time, I loved him enough that I could cry. I felt bonded to my child from the moment I met him. However, when your ears are ringing for the few hours a day he isn't screaming, it is literal torture. I did have angry thoughts. I never wanted to harm him (AND I NEVER DID) but I would pray and pray that he would stop screaming. There were plenty of times I had to lay him in his crib and go in the car (the only place I couldn't hear him) and cry my eyes out. I would bring the monitor and put it on mute.

The guilt, that I did something to cause this was unbelievable.  We had a few hospitalizations, hernias and failure to thrive, and we had an enormous amount of tests done. Watching them, poke, draw blood, give shots, and sedate my little baby was so difficult.  I then felt guilty that whatever I did was causing him to need all this testing.

On top of all this, he didn't sleep.  Hubs and I slept in shifts.  One of us would sleep in bed, while the other held Bear in the living room.  He would wake every 30 minutes, wincing, writhing in pain, screaming.  We would pat him, rock him, bounce him and walk with him.  Then after 5 hours we would switch. 

Finally around 5 months the screaming improved.  We finally stopped giving him the formula the doctors demanded he needed and the nighttime sleep improved.  We followed Ferber's recommendation for amount of sleep and his nighttime sleep improved.  He would wake about every 1-3 hours. 

Around 8 months the screaming had subsided.  He is still easily frustrated and very demanding, but better.  He has bad days however they're few and far apart.  He still has testing, undergoes a sedated lumbar puncture, had therapy, follow up appointments, and we finally get a new medicine.

The first night he was given it, he slept in 4 hour increments.  The next week, woke 1 time all night.
Heaven in a bottle.  At the end of the first month we ran out before we could refill it, and he was back up every hour.  They can pry this medicine out of my cold dead hands.  I will never give it up.

They still don't know what's going on with Bear.  He will have another MRI in a few months.  His motor skills are severely delayed.  However, cognitively he is all there.  He laughs, he yells, he blows raspberries.  He has favorite toys, he has toys he's afraid of. 

But most importantly, he seems happy.  He has this adorable smile, with a humongous dimple in his right cheek, and this silly laugh.  It literally melts my heart to hear it.

The guilt is still there, though I'm slowly climbing out of it.  My biggest regret is not advocating for my son's needs effectively.  I would request different nurses, different tests, different procedures.  But that's in the past, and I cannot change it.  I can simply learn from it.  That doesn't mean my anger over the situation has resolved, it simply means my anger with myself is resolving.

So instead, I focus on the future.  Bear has a Guinness Book of Records attempt in his baby book and it's just the start.

My little guy is going to move mountains.  Just you wait and see.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bear - The NICU

We stayed in that NICU for a long 9 days.  I know mom's of preemies were in for hundreds of days are going to balk at the "long 9 days" portion.  However, we were surrounded by babies that were 1/4 the size of Bear (he was 9lbs) that were much sicker.  Bear never had a seizure that they ever saw.  He just didn't know how to eat.  Because of his low level of need, we were stuck in a corner.  We were pretty much left unattended unless some new nurse decided she needed to demand her expertise, which was highly uninformed.

We felt out of place in an area with babies that needed so much attention, mom's who couldn't even hold their babies.  In the beginning the neonatologists just kept saying this was the result of a traumatic birth.  It would improve.  Then he had microcephaly and could be severely delayed.  Then he had a brain injury.  Then it was that I did recreational drugs, despite my adamant responses  that I hadn't even been near a drug.  Then it was a genetic disorder.  Then it was an in utero infection.

Add this rollercoaster of emotion to the postpartum hormones and you would find me.  The twenty minute ride home every day I would burst into tears.  I would hand my baby back to a nurse that I just saw ignoring a crying baby for twenty minutes so she could check her email.  Then I would get home, pump in an empty nursery, see my empty carseat, and go to bed with just my husband.  I never felt more split apart.

I had an enormous amount of guilt.  As mothers our first instinct is to feel guilty.  When our child is sick, we feel guilty that we cannot make them feel better, when our child gets hurt we feel guilty that we cannot heal them and remove the sting. 

My son was in a NICU all alone and I felt guilty I couldn't be there 24 hours a day.  I believe every NICU mom feels this.  Add to that, I could have done this to my son.  I could have done something during pregnancy that damaged his brain.  Was is that warm bath?  Did I have an infection I didn't know about? Was it those 2 sips of wine I had?  What if God gave me a perfect baby and I did something selfish and ruined it?

The what if's could eat me alive, and they still could if I let them. 

Finally on day 12 of his life we were finally allowed to bring our baby home.  However, I didn't bring home a newborn, I brought home a baby who learned a schedule in the NICU, wasn't sleepy all day, and screamed nonstop.
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