Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Bryce & Chloe!

Songs were sung, cake was eaten, candles were extinguished, gifts were exchanged and tears were shed. We had all the elements of a perfect birthday, but it's hard to think of anything other than that empty chair.

Bryce visited the NICU on Monday to celebrate the anniversary of this portentous day. It was great to see several of the nurses, therapists and social workers who cared for him, and I think they were genuinely astonished and excited to see how well he's doing. "This is the best part of our job," one of the nurses said, and another told us that Bryce's story will bring hope to a lot of families.

Mission accomplished.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Little growler

Bryce has recently abandoned his trademark squeak for a low-throated growl that reminds me of a dangerous cat on the prowl. It's a fitting sound for this age, because on the prowl he is! He still hasn't mastered the traditional up-on-all-fours crawl, but he can pull himself across the room using just his arms with surprising speed. And of course, everything he discovers goes into his mouth first. The video (below) doesn't really do the growl justice, but you get the idea.

The introduction of table food has been a success so far. He's still eating breads and crackers primarily, but Bryce rarely gags or chokes anymore. Still no sign of the teeth we've been expecting, though I suspect they can't be too far off.

The last week has been quiet -- when Bryce is healthy, everyone is happy. Incredibly, Bryce will be one year old next Wednesday! For those who are wondering if their party invitation was lost in the mail, we're planning to celebrate his adjusted birthday this year. If we wait until September, he'll hopefully be able to enjoy stuffing his face with a bite of birthday cake, and maybe he'll even be able to impress you all with those first tottering steps.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weight watchers

After six consecutive sleepless nights, we begged Bryce to give us at least four hours of uninterrupted rest last night. It seems our plea did not fall on deaf ears, because he woke for the first time at 5 this morning, after nearly 8 hours without so much as a whimper. The worst of the cold appears to have passed, and he finished up with the steroids (which were causing his hands to shake piteously) yesterday, so I'm guessing he was as eager for a good's night sleep as we were.

Not long after he was a born, I referred to Bryce as our "pint-sized progeny." One year later, that appellation still has a ring of truth to it. After his first check-up at the NICU clinic, I bragged that Bryce was in the 90th percentile for weight on the micro-preemie charts, and approaching the 50th percentile for his adjusted age on the normal infant charts. However, I've since discovered that the latter claim was based on an erroneous online percentile calculator. After pulling the latest charts from the CDC and running the numbers myself, here's what I found:

In the graph, the horizontal axis lists Bryce's adjusted age (in months), and the vertical axis displays weight (in pounds) and also his percentile on the infant charts. As you can see, while he has been steadily moving up on the charts since month one (with the exception of the last month, which was hopefully a fluke caused by illness), Bryce has never been in any danger of being described as average-sized.

Despite his small size, we're still hopeful that he'll catch up eventually. He's not a great eater, but he hasn't exhibited any of the feeding problems that we've been anxiously anticipating. In fact, he seemed thrilled when we gave him his first taste of table food this morning, but I'll let you be the judge of that:

Perhaps the new big boy food will help him chunk up a bit!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nasty little germses

The dreary gray weather seems to have seeped into Bryce's house, where everyone is tired and moody because everyone except yours truly has been sick! Once again, Logan caught the sniffles earlier in the week, and Bryce's symptoms surfaced a few days later. He seemed to be tolerating it well until late Sunday evening, when things rapidly deteriorated. Sunday was a sleepless night for everyone, and by Monday morning, Bryce was listless, refusing to eat, and fighting hard to breathe in spite of albuterol treatments.

Later that morning, the doctor said he definitely needed more than albuterol (oxygen sat 88, resting respiratory rate 70-80), so Bryce was once again on the verge of hospitalization. We opted to keep him at home under close observation (deja vu, anyone?), but this time he was given steroids and an antibiotic which reduces lung inflammation as well. The steroid had slowed his breathing by late Monday, and though he's still quite miserable, we're hopeful that he's dodged the hospital.

At least we can feel good about one thing: Bryce was never ill during our self-imposed quarantine, but has been sick four times since. Perhaps the loneliness and germaphobia of the first six months, when he was most fragile, wasn't for naught.

Sick or no, he's still awful cute (though I must admit, that smile's been virtually absent for the last 48 hours):

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mom's Day

Dear Bryce,

We had a rough start, to say the least. 108 days in the NICU is pretty high up on the list of every parent's worst dreams. However, when you look back on your incredible journey, I'd like you to know that your Mommy never missed a day. She'd scarcely finished surgery before she insisted that she be wheeled to your side, and when she found out she could hold you, well, "kid in a candy store" is too mild to describe her excitement.

For three months, she never strayed from her dairy-free diet, though all the doctors could promise was that it might help ease the discomfort in your tummy. And after seven months of isolation at home, she was willing to do another seven if it would make your life better.

It's been a long road, Squeaker, but Mommy was there every step of the way.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms who go the extra mile for their kids.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Expanding horizons

It's been a big week for Bryce. He discovered the army crawl earlier in the week, and he barely had time to master that before the new glasses arrived! As predicted, his first reaction was to pull them off and stick them in his mouth, but when Christie put them on the second time and stepped back, he looked at her and reached out his hand in bemusement, as if to say "Wait, you're still there?"

I also noticed that he's much more difficult to photograph, because instead of just staring at the flash on the camera, he follows me with his eyes. Holding one of the lenses up to my eyes gave me some appreciation for how the world looks to Bryce without them, and it's amazing what a couple of thin (ok, thick) pieces of polycarbonate can do. Now, how are we going to keep them clean?!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Life, now in high-definition

In roughly one week's time, Bryce may look a little different to you, but you're going to look a lot different to him. On Friday, we took him to the opthamologist for yet another follow-up. His eyes are structurally sound, and he did really well with all the tests. However, at -12.0 diopters, Bryce's myopia (nearsightedness) is very severe. If that's Greek to you (as it was for me until I read this Wikipedia article), the doctor explained that he can only see "normally" to a distance of roughly a foot, and everything beyond a few feet is extremely blurry. The optometrist who helped us order his glasses was actually excited because she feels that it will have a huge impact on how Bryce perceives the world. Hopefully he'll still be the happy, laid back baby we all know and love.

The good news is that as far as eye problems go, this is one of the better ones to have. It's correctable with glasses, and Bryce can wear contacts if he prefers when he's a bit older. Also, the doctor told us that Lasik surgery would be effective once his eyes have finished maturing (around age 21).

The other big news is that Bryce is no longer a Swaddler! For the past eleven months, Bryce has been wearing Pampers Swaddlers, starting with the mind-bogglingly tiny micro-preemie diapers that are only available in Level III NICUs, then working his way up through Preemie, Newborn, Size 1 and Size 2. As of today, he is officially a Size 3 "Cruiser", and believe me, he is working hard to live up to that name. I'm no occupational therapist, but I'd be surprised if he's not crawling before his actual 1-yr birthday. It's been a long road, but our micro-preemie is growing up. :)