Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do you happen to remember these two pictures?

Well my friends this has become our life. Morgan Kate will not stay on her back. But cries when she is on her stomach. Go figure. I have to literally strap her down to everything. Usually I could just sit her in her bouncy seat without the straps and she would be fine. Of course I am right there with her so there is no fear of her falling out or anything. But these days she is twisting and turning and the next thing you know she is face down and screaming. Bedtime or should I say all night has become quite a new experience. We put her down for bed on her back. Two or so hours later she flips over and starts screaming. We go in and flip her back to her back. Minutes later she flips over and the screaming starts once more. Occasionally she will get comfortable enough on her stomach and just fall asleep. Even with the apnea monitor it terrifies me for her to be on her stomach, but what can I do? Am I really supposed to get up every thirty minutes or so and flip her back over. She is a "night crawler". She turns, flips and scooches her way all over that crib. What do I do? How can I keep her in one place and comfortable? Or is that even possible? 

Here are some pictures from our afternoon. She spent 15 minutes in her bumbo seat. Exciting!

Oh, and the green dress? Courtesy of Kaky. Aren't grandmas the greatest!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Whewh! Sorry I have been MIA. I think my brain and my body are still worn out from the 3.4 mile walk this past Saturday. Ha! Sounded like a pretty good excuse!

I'll begin with a few outdoor pics of my little one from this past weekend. Isn't that dress darling? Courtesy of Kaky!

It's only three days into the week and I am already exhausted. We have been busy, busy, busy. 

I decided this week that we really needed to work on solids. Nothing too hard or advanced. Just some plain ole' rice cereal. We tried the rice cereal a few weeks back and Morgan Kate just wasn't ready for it. I have been meaning to try it again for sometime now. Saturday after the walk my parents took us to Olive Garden for lunch. It was so yummy! Anyway, the entire time we were eating Morgan Kate was watching us like a hawk. She literally followed my fork to my mouth each time. So Monday afternoon we tried some cereal, then again yesterday and again today. Today we even pulled out the highchair for the very first time and had her sit in that while she was "eating" her rice cereal. I must admit she's doing a really good job. As soon as the spoon is near her mouth she opens wide and she attempts to eat the rice cereal. I don't think she really likes it thought. After it's in her mouth she makes this awful face and kind of shudders her body. It's quite amusing! Of course after starting this I have a question. If she doesn't like the cereal can I try something else or do I need to wait until she is older? Oh, and how can I tell if she just doesn't really like the cereal or if she just isn't sure what to do with it? 

Yesterday our EI, Julie, came and spent a good hour at our house. Last week when she came MK was really sleepy, so it was a complete disaster. Fussy baby plus exercises equals lots of crying. However, yesterday she was much more rested and worked really hard for Julie and I. 

Today our PT, Terri, came and she too spent an hour with us. MK was up earlier than usual this morning so I wasn't sure how well the session would go. Leave it to MK to surprise me! She did awesome. Really, she did! She worked so hard and didn't cry one time. We worked on rolling to the right (she only prefers rolling to the left), we worked on sitting up, and we worked on reaching. Reaching proves to still be a struggle for MK. She will grab things instantly, but isn't quite sure yet how to reach for things. She has gotten much better in the past few weeks so I know it will come. 

There are two things she has improved greatly on. One, bearing weight on her feet. Two weeks ago she wouldn't do it all. Literally, she wouldn't put her feet on the floor, much less bear weight. Now she is standing and wanting to stand for extended periods of time. I am so impressed! Secondly, she is tolerating her bumbo chair much better. Several weeks ago she really wanted nothing to do with the chair and would only last about two seconds. The bumbo chair is hard for her because it takes a lot of energy and a lot of work breathing wise. Today she sat and played in the bumbo chair for twelve minutes without getting upset. This girl is incredible! I was so proud of her and how hard she worked. So proud in fact that I had to take her shopping afterward. Hee, hee!

Next week I'll try to snap a few pictures during her PT session. It is so neat to see the things she does. She even has her own exercise ball. Watch out! 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Two children under the age of two. Eight adult walkers. Family and friends. Three point four miles. Many, many people. Lots of water. Terrific cause. Beautiful weather. Amazing day!

Yesterday was such an awesome day. I sort of felt like a little girl on Christmas morning. Morgan Kate woke up Saturday morning around 5:00 to eat. After eating she went right back to sleep, but I was wide awake with anxiousness. I was so ready for the day to get started. 

The turnout for the walk was incredible. Or at least I thought so. So many people gave of their time to walk for the March of Dimes and for so many precious babies. Not only was the total turnout great, but the turnout for Team Morgan Kate was pretty spectacular as well. In attendance for Team Morgan Kate were Kaky and GDaddy, Raven and Koto, Laura and Luke, Melissa (who by the way, gave birth four weeks ago), Trenholm, Travis, me and last, but certainly not least, Morgan Kate. It is hard to put into words what each person's participation meant to me. Each of these people hold a very special place in my heart and I was so honored that they gave of their Saturday morning to spend time with us and walk on behalf of Morgan Kate. I love each of you dearly! 

Most people know that I am a fairly emotional person. Even more so now since having Morgan Kate. I was so excited about the walk, but a little nervous too because I wasn't sure how I would do. Don't get me wrong. I don't really care about crying in front of people or showing my emotions. But I didn't want to be a blubbering mess. I was afraid that I might be. Yesterday was a really big day for me and for Morgan Kate. I know the statistics for 25 weekers. I know that there are often times very different outcomes. I know the obstacles that some premature babies endure and encounter each day. And I know that Travis and I are incredibly blessed to have Morgan Kate. And while I was afraid I would be a blubbering mess, I am proud to say I wasn't. I was more happy than anything and I think I smiled the entire day. The only time I got emotional was when I saw Morgan Kate's sign. There is something about seeing all of that in print that really tugs at my heart. 

While at the fairgrounds we ran into several of Morgan Kate's NICU nurses. Not only do these amazing women take care of these precious babies, but they also take time to participate in the March of Dimes walk. How great are they? Two of these nurses even worked the night before and only got off hours before the walk began. Talk about dedication! In the picture below (from left to right) are me, Andrea, Shelly and Rachel. We also saw Emily and Sheryl, one of MK's respiratory therapists. It was so great to see each one of them and to show them how far Morgan Kate has come. 

Not only did Morgan Kate have "big people" walking in her honor, but she also had some "little people". Some very adorable little boys. Future boyfriends maybe? Hee, hee. Luke (top picture) and his mommy, Laura came out and walked with us. And we also saw Christian (bottom picture) and his mommy, Donna. 

Yesterday was such a good day! I am already excited about next year's walk and I have a ton of ideas. Again, I am so thankful for the March of Dimes, for our fabulous walkers, and of course, for my baby girl, Morgan Kate. 


Please continue to keep Kayleigh and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Morgan Kate is 8 months old!

Morgan Kate...

weighs twelve pounds and three ounces. (As of Tuesday.)

is 24.5 inches long.

wears size 2 diapers.

still wears 0-3 month clothes and may continue to until she is 15. I don't really know. 

can roll from tummy to back and back to tummy. She rolls constantly. 

will NOT take a pacifier, but loves to chew on her bib.

is drinking 7 ounces of formula every five hours or so.

loves squealing really loud, especially when we are in the doctor's office.

laughs out loud when you tickle her tummy.

loves to watch our lab, Cash, do anything.

sleeps like a baby at night. Literally.

takes really short cat naps throughout the day, usually in my arms or in her swing.

loves to watch things.

is learning to sit up. It's tough work for a little girl.

I am sure that I am missing things. This little girl does so many new things each and every day. She continues to amaze Travis and I. We are so very blessed to be her parents and to have her in our lives. Words just cannot express how much I love my baby girl!

I am off to bed. I should have been in bed hours ago. Tomorrow is a big day for all of us. The walk begins at 9:00 and we are really excited. I already have MK's diaper bag packed and her outfit ready. Be sure to check back tomorrow for pictures!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Drum roll, please. 

I am so very happy to announce that Team Morgan Kate raised $525 for the March of Dimes. We well exceeded our goal of $150. It was the best feeling in the world to turn the money in today. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who donated to this wonderful organization on behalf of Morgan Kate. Each time I look at Morgan Kate I am reminded of how just how blessed we are. Day after day I read about more babies born too early and the obstacles they face. Thanks to the March of Dimes and their research hopefully one day all babies will be born full term and as healthy as possible. Be sure to check in on Saturday for pictures from the walk. It's going to be a great day!

The weather today has been absolutely amazing. Morgan Kate and I spent the morning strolling around downtown while turning in our donations. We then came home and spent the afternoon strolling around the neighborhood and sitting on our back porch. Here are a few pictures just to prove how nice it was. And I guess to also show off my baby girl. Hee, hee. Can you believe she will be eight months tomorrow? Oh my!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Every morning I do a quick check of all the blogs I follow to see who has updated. Usually there are three or four blogs that have been updated over the night. This morning I noticed that Kayleigh's blog had been updated. As I clicked on the link and began to read my heart just broke. I was literally in tears. Kayleigh is also a preemie, born exactly two months before Morgan Kate. In those first few weeks after MK's arrival I was so lost. I knew nothing about preemies other than they were SMALL. One night I sat down at my computer and began to "google". I came across several preemie blogs, but Kayleigh's really stood out to me. I guess because she was just a few weeks older than MK. Every night after that I would take time to check in and see how she was doing. I have literally followed their story every single day since late August of last year. Unfortunately, Kayleigh has not been able to go home. That's right. After ten long months she is still there. She has been through so much. She has had so many procedures and surgeries. It's ridiculous what all she has been through. And what her parents have been through. Going back and forth to the NICU for four months was tough enough for me. I can't begin to imagine ten months. Through everything her parents have had such incredible strength and unwavering faith. They are simply amazing. Last week Kayleigh had yet another surgery and as of today things don't look good at all. I am at a loss for words and just feel terrible for this family. Please keep this family and this precious little girl in your thoughts and prayers. 

With Kayleigh in the forefront of my mind, it's just another reason the March of Dimes is so very important. I am happy to say that we have well exceeded our goal. I am so thankful for all of the donations and I am super excited for the walk on Saturday. There is still time to donate!!! The purple button on the right will be up until lunchtime tomorrow. Please consider donating to this wonderful organization. 

Morgan Kate had her first official physical therapy session today. It's great because we don't have to go anywhere, they come to us. Morgan Kate did a super job and I was so proud of her. We worked really hard on rolling over to both sides (she prefers rolling to the left), reaching and grabbing for objects, putting weight on her feet, and sitting up. We even have "homework" for next week. The physical therapist is great and says she really enjoys working with Morgan Kate. Makes a mommy happy! However, she did say that she can already tell that Morgan Kate is set in her ways. Ha! Wonder who she would get that from...

Quick update on the feeding situation. The nurse from our pediatrician's office called back this afternoon. We now have an "equation" for mixing MK's formula. I plan to try this for two weeks, take her back in for a weight check and go from there. Please pray that Morgan Kate will start gaining some weight. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Well we went by our pediatrician's office for a weight check. Unfortunately their scales revealed the same thing. In the past two weeks Morgan Kate has only gained two ounces. That's right. Two measly ounces. And I actually think her wet diaper attributed to that. So something definitely needs to be done or changed or whatever. We already knew she wasn't on the growth chart for her actual age of 8 months, but now she is below the 25th percentile for weight according to her adjusted age of almost 5 months. Our pediatrician has put a call into her nutritionist to talk about increasing the calories. I am eagerly waiting for the call so that we can get this going.

As of today we have actually exceeded our goal for the March of Dimes. Wow!I am super, super excited. A big THANK YOU to all that have contributed!! There is still time to donate. I will be taking all donations to the appropriate office Thursday afternoon. 

Now that Morgan Kate has learned to roll from her back to her tummy she does it all the time. Seriously. Anytime I lay her on the floor, in the crib, or even in her boppy seat she manages to turn to her tummy. It is so funny! Gone are the days of laying her down and turning my head for a second. This girl has to be watched at all times.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I have been to a lot of doctor's offices in the past four months. And I mean a lot. I have signed a lot of paperwork. And filled out many, many forms. Recently I have noticed that at several doctor's offices you are required to sign a form that says if you are more than fifteen minutes late or you don't show up for an appointment then you will be billed. Fine. Sounds like a logical plan. I am not personally in the habit of showing up late or not showing up at all, but I am sure it happens. And I am sure this is just one way that the doctor's cover their time and their money. With all of that being said, I am curious about one thing. When the patient has to wait more than fifteen minutes to be seen do they automatically qualify for a reduced charge or even a free visit? Ha, ha. Not likely. Matter of fact, I know from personal experience that you can sit for over an hour before being seen and all you get is an apology, if that. 

Morgan Kate and I had two appointments today at two different doctor's offices. The first appointment was for me. I had to stop by my doctor's office to have some bloodwork done to check my thyroid level. My appointment was at 2:00. I arrived promptly, updated my info and within five or so minutes I was called back to be seen. Ten minutes later I was leaving. Perfect visit. In and out in a very timely manner. Great day so far.

Our second appointment was at 3:45. This appointment was for Morgan Kate. We arrived at 3:35, ten minutes early. We checked in, updated our info and began our wait. We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. While we were waiting MK had a major blow out. I politely asked if there was a bathroom where I could take her to change her. I found out that there are plenty of bathrooms in this building, but not a single one has a changing table. That's right. We are in a building for CHILDREN, but there are no changing tables. None. And all of the patient rooms are currently filled. I contemplate going back to the car, but then worry that we might actually get called and miss it. Finally, at 4:35 we are called to go back. And at this time MK's diaper is beginning to leak. Yeah. Gross. Once back in the room I change her and again we begin to wait, and wait, and wait. At 5:10 the doctor finally comes in to see us. Now waiting for an hour and twenty minutes may not seem like a very long time, but when you are waiting with a baby it is an extremely long time. Don't get me wrong. Aside from the blow out, Morgan Kate did an awesome job. She was perfectly content and happy and smiling. But after so long anyone would begin to get tired and bored. So around 5ish or so MK had had enough. Once the doctor came in he only spent about ten minutes with us. Yep. I paid a $40 co-pay to wait for over an hour and see the doctor for ten minutes. When I finally went to check out everyone in the office was gone. So MK's chart is sitting on the desk and I am supposed to call back in the morning to schedule a follow-up appointment. Yep, I see that happening.

Sorry if I sound a little upset, but I am. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that patients are expected to wait that long. I realize that things come up and it's often times difficult to stay on an exact schedule. But waiting for almost an hour and a half is just ridiculous. I also realize that emergency situations arise in doctor offices everyday that alter their schedule. However, in that case patients should be notified of the wait time and given the option to reschedule. As a teacher I hold parent-teacher conferences. Can you imagine what would happen if I expected a parent to wait that long to see me? Ha!  

So it seems to me that basically by signing that form the doctor is telling me that his time is precious. However, by making me wait for over an hour to be seen the doctor is telling me that my time is not.

Not only did we have to wait for what seemed like an eternity, but then we didn't get such great news either. Since the end of February MK has grown two and a half inches (which is great), but only gained a pound. And in the past two weeks she hasn't gained any weight at all, despite the extra ounces she is taking each day. 

I'll try to explain. When MK was taking the Neocate we were mixing it so that it had more calories. Basic powder formula has 20 calories per ounce, but we were mixing it so that it had 27 per ounce. Most preemies need that. When we started the Gentlease we didn't mix it that way because we just wanted to see if she would take and how she would do on it. She is taking it and she's doing great with it, but now we have to start mixing it so that it is 27 calories. It's a very simple fix, but just frustrating because we have been busting our tails to get every ounce in and it hasn't even helped. So as of this hour our game plan is to try the new "mix" and come back in two months. I don't think so. No thank you. I will be calling our ped in the morning to come in for a weight check there. And if the scales reveal the same thing (no weight gain) then I will get her equation for increasing calories and go from there. 

Oh and I learned two valuable "mommy lessons" today. One, always carry a plastic bag with you. This bag will come in handy in case of an accident that creeps up your child's back. Secondly, always have an extra set of clothes on hand. I am really proud of myself because I didn't have the bag, but I did have the extra clothes. Yay for me! Oh, and I guess there were three. The third being, always, always, always have an extra bottle on hand just in case your "quick trip" turns into an all afternoon adventure. Today would have been an excellent day to be breastfeeding. Ha!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A BIG thank you to all of those who have donated to the March of Dimes. We have received online donations, as well as several donations through the mail. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! The walk is less than a week away and I can't wait. All donations will be turned in this Thursday. 

We had another fabulous weekend! We decided late last week that we just couldn't stay away and we needed another trip to Kaky and GDaddy's house. The weather was fabulous, the company was superb, the food was wonderful and a large time was had by all. We even spent more time on the four-wheelers. It is just so very nice to be able to get out and about and come and go as we please. 

The upcoming week will be busy, busy, busy as we have numerous appointments. Monday Morgan Kate has a follow-up with her gastro doctor. Tuesday we have an in-home appointment with MK's early interventionist. Wednesday we have an in-home appointment with the physical therapist. Thursday we will be making a trip downtown to turn in all of March of Dimes donations. I have decided that Friday will be our "day of rest" before the walk on Saturday. I'll be sure to keep you all updated on our appointments. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Well folks, this Enfamil Gentlease seems to be the trick. My twelve pound baby girl is now taking six ounces of formula at one time. Wow! It completely blows my mind, but I am so excited. Last night we fed Morgan Kate at 8 when we put her down for bed and she didn't wake up again until 4:30am. Oh my goodness! I pray that this continues and that she continues to eat well.

Here are a few pictures from this past week:

MK working on her teething ring.

 MK's Easter dress and sweater

Such a smiley, happy girl

Can you believe she is reading? Ha! I know my 4th grade team will like this pic.

Miss Morgan Kate in her cutey overalls that Aunt Kelly gave her. So cute!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In the past few days we have had several "firsts". 

1. We took our first overnight trip.

2. Travis and I bought our first pack of diapers since bringing Morgan Kate home.

3. We have started using the "big bottles" (8 ounce) for the very first time. 

4. Morgan Kate has started taking six ounces of formula for the first time.

5. Morgan Kate and I took our first shopping trip to Babies R Us.

6. The three of us went out to eat for the very first time. Mexican is so yummy!

7. Morgan Kate rolled over from her back to her tummy for the first time.

Tonight we went out to eat as a family of three for the very first time. I was a little nervous prior to going. Of course, I was super nervous about germs and dirt and people wanting to touch her. But, I have to be honest people haven't really been trying to touch her and I think it's because I have this bright red stop sign hanging from her car seat that basically says, "Don't touch me!" (Thanks Jill!) I suggest all new mothers invest in a stop sign. It really seems to work. I was also nervous because I wasn't sure how she would do. Would she scream? Would she sleep? Would she cry? Would we even be able to eat? 

It turned out to be the best idea we have had all week. It was so nice! Morgan Kate did a super job. For most of the time she sat in her car seat and played with some toys. Toward the end of our dining experience we took turns holding her. I had the best time and the food was yummy too. I can't wait to go again!

Morgan Kate also had her very first session of physical therapy. I love our early interventionist and our physical therapist. They are both wonderful and absolutely love Morgan Kate. For the next few months we are going to work on rolling over to both sides (right now Morgan Kate only rolls to the left), reaching for objects and eventually sitting up. I am really excited to start and see the progress we make.

However, I do have concerns. Ha. Imagine that. I guess I shouldn't say concerns (plural). I really only have one concern. I'll try to make it as brief as possible. So, Morgan Kate is seven months old - that is her actual age. However, as we all know she was about fifteen weeks early. Therefore the time she spent in the NICU was equivalent to spending time in my tummy. Just because babies are born early doesn't mean they automatically start doing things they shouldn't really be doing. For example, just because she was born early doesn't mean she went straight to eating three ounces or wearing clothes or being held. Most of that stuff didn't occur until December when she was supposed to be born. Based on December she is four months old - that is her adjusted age. With all that being said, here is my concern or question. Is it developmentally appropriate (teacher terminology) to expect her to start sitting up? Of course I want her to catch up to her actual age. I don't want to spend the rest of my life saying, "Well my daughter is actually three, but she only does what a two and a half year old would do." But, if that is what I have to do then fine. I just want what is best for her and I don't want to rush things. I mean if she is ready to sit up then fine, but I don't want to do anything that she is not developmentally ready for. I hope all of this makes sense. Any suggestions, comments, questions from other preemie moms? I would love any advice on this topic.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It seems like everyday I am reminded of just how lucky we are. Truly, truly blessed. I don't know if you've done any research or read up on 25 weekers. And I won't go into medical terms or any specifics, but Travis and I happen to think Morgan Kate is doing exceptionally well.

Today we had an eye appointment with Dr. Cheeseman. Morgan Kate will continue to have her eyes checked for the next few years because often times preemies are more likely to become cross eyed, be nearsighted or deal with glaucoma. However, after a thorough check up with Dr. Cheeseman it is safe to say that currently Morgan Kate is not dealing with any of those issues. Her eyes look great and we don't have to go back until mid-October. Such a relief and truly a blessing. 

I don't know that there is one particular thing that has helped Morgan Kate the most. I happen to think there are/were several things. One, God himself. Two, the power of prayer. Three, the superb staff that took care of her during those first weeks and months of her tiny little life. Four, unwavering family and friends. And five, the research done by the March of Dimes. 

So many people did so many things for Morgan Kate. So many people did so many things for Travis and I. And I personally want to give back. I have many creative ideas floating around in my head. But right now, I am certain of one way that I can give back. I am going to walk for and support the March of Dimes. If you aren't familiar with the March of Dimes or what they do, please take a minute to visit their website

If you are interested in donating to the March of Dimes or walking with us on Saturday, April 25th you can click on the purple button in the right sidebar or you can contact me. The walk is in exactly 11 days and I can hardly wait. I am so excited to be walking in honor of Morgan Kate! 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Living. Really living.

This past weekend for the first time in over seven months it felt like we were doing just that. Really living.

Don't get me wrong. We have been living for the past seven months. Matter of fact we have been doing a lot of living. For the past seven months we have been witness to some of the most amazing things ever. We have been able to watch the most precious baby girl grow and change each and every day. So we have indeed been living.

But at the same time it didn't feel like we were really living. 

Have you ever gotten something brand new and wanted to share it with everyone? We did. We got the most amazing gift from God and we wanted to share her with everyone. 

Have you ever gotten something brand new and wanted to share it with everyone, but couldn't or at least not right away? We did. We got the most amazing gift from God and we wanted to share her with everyone, but we couldn't or at least not right away.

For the past seven months we have lived either in the walls of the NICU at Baptist or in the walls of our house. We have been on "house arrest" as I like to say. There have been days, even weeks at at time that I haven't seen the outside of my neighborhood. But we did it and for very good reason. And to be quite honest I would do it all over again if it meant keeping Morgan Kate healthy. It has been difficult at times, but so very worth it. 

But this weekend we got to live. Really live. 

As we were leaving our neighborhood Saturday morning I noticed that Travis was wearing his wedding band and college ring. I chuckled out loud and said, "So, you finally decided to put those back on, huh?" He started laughing and said, "It feels good. I feel like we are finally living again. Really living." 

I'll explain. While in the NICU neither one of us wore our wedding rings or any other jewelry for that matter. Visitors that came had to remove their jewelry as well. There happens to be nasty, nasty germs that live in the cracks and crevices of your rings and bracelets. Gross. So for the four months that we were in the NICU we didn't wear them. Once we got home it continued. We wanted to do whatever it took to keep Morgan Kate healthy, so we didn't wear our rings. It may sound crazy, but we did it. Just like someone becomes accustomed to putting on their rings each morning, we became accustomed to not wearing them. It was just our way of life for a little while. Several weeks ago I decided it that it was okay for me to start wearing my rings. But Trav just put his back on this past weekend. (It may also have something to do with the fact that we couldn't remember where we had put his rings.)

There are so many things we have become accustomed to in the past seven months. Our way of life changed. We have become accustomed to not wearing our wedding rings. We have become accustomed to constantly washing our hands and using sanitizer. We have become accustomed to staying at home. We have become accustomed to not being able to go anywhere. We have become accustomed to not having visitors or making visits. But this weekend all of that changed. We were able to get back to really living.

And it felt so good. Amazing in fact. We couldn't have had a better weekend.

I have not spent the night at my parent's house since last June. Now that may not seem like a long time to some, but it felt like an eternity to me. So this weekend was really special and important for me. It felt like I was really living again. 

Saturday we spent the majority of the afternoon at my grandmother's farm. We even took Morgan Kate and she loved it. We walked around, I took pictures, I breathed in the fresh outdoor air, I took pictures, we rode the four-wheelers, I took pictures, we got the four-wheelers stuck, I took some more pictures. In case you haven't caught on there was lots of picture taking. We even "hula hooped". We did not set out with those intentions, but we happened to find a hula hoop while we were out there and we all decided to give it a try. So much fun. I recommend that everyone try the hula hoop. It was an afternoon full of living. Really living.

Saturday evening after Morgan Kate was in bed we sat up and dyed Easter eggs. Well Mom, Mama Jean, Trenholm, and I dyed easter eggs. The men were no where to be found. We were able to talk and conversate and really catch up. 

Morgan Kate did awesome that night. She slept so good and followed our normal routine perfectly. My parents had put a crib up for Morgan Kate in my old room. And not just any crib. It happened to be the crib that I once slept in, and Owens slept in and Kyle slept in. Mom had bought all brand new bedding and decorated my room to look more like a nursery. Mom had even gone out and bought diapers and wipes so that we didn't have to worry about bringing them. Everything was absolutely perfect. 

Sunday we spent the day at my grandmother's for an Easter picnic. Morgan Kate was able to meet the Hardison side of the family for the first time. I was so happy to be able to share my little girl with my family. It was a moment I have longed for and dreamt about for quite some time. I happen to think I have the most amazing family on both my mom and dad's side. So it was quite a special day to be able to share Morgan Kate with them. 

Living. Really living. That's what we were able to do this past weekend.

Last night I found myself feeling rather sad. I was sad that the weekend was over so soon. It literally flew by. But I also went to bed with a big grin on my face. I was smiling because I had had a terrific weekend. I was smiling because Morgan Kate had done exceptionally well on her first overnight. I was smiling because my parents had made each moment so special. I was smiling because I was able to share our daughter with my family. 

And I was smiling because we were back to living. Really living.

*As I mentioned before I took many, many pictures. So instead of including them all in this post, I created a slideshow. I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed taking them. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Our bags are almost packed and we are ready to go! 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If all continues to go well with our new formula I may personally call Enfamil and thank them. 

Morgan Kate is continuing to do well with the Enfamil Gentlease. She has taken at least three and a half ounces at each feeding. This afternoon she took over four ounces. I pray, pray, pray that this continues until she outgrows her bottles. In our past endeavors with new formulas the first few days have been total bliss and then a complete disaster. If things are still going well by this weekend then I may be convinced that this is the ONE. 

Today was a very exciting day! Morgan Kate had her very first "playdate". It was so nice to be able to get out of our house for a while. It was also really nice to visit with Melissa and brand new Baby Caroline. Caroline is absolutely precious and a very good sleeper! She slept most of the time we were there and made the most adorable expressions and noises. Morgan Kate seemed to also be thrilled with our outing. She did a terrific job and only got fussy when she was ready for a nap. We can't wait until our next visit!

Speaking of visits. We will be taking our first overnight visit this weekend. We are going to go to my parents' house for a night and be there to celebrate the Easter holiday. I am super excited! Not only will the change of scenery be nice, but spending time with my parents and brothers is always a blast! I can't wait for Morgan Kate to spend the night in the house I grew up in. Be sure to check back Sunday for pictures!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Morgan Kate just finished her 8th bottle of Enfamil Gentleease and all is well. Since yesterday at 5 she has taken three and a half ounces each time. Wow! So in the past 24 hours she has taken 21 ounces rather than 18. Happy, happy day! I am praying that this success continues. She really seems to be enjoying this formula. She even fussed a little for it tonight. Oh how I pray this is the trick! 

I am feeling lots better today about her eating and breathing. Which in turn makes my own breathing and eating easier. Who am I kidding? I don't have any problems eating. But it does become a tad hard to breathe when she's not doing well. Yesterday I was just so overwhelmed with all the "new stuff". We have decided to stick with our plan. We are going to give this formula a few days to do its thing. When we feel comfortable that it is working we will try the breathing treatments. My philosophy these days is "Baby steps". I am taking very small steps. 

Growing up I never really worried. Really, I didn't. I never really had things to worry about. I felt like if something ever happened or went wrong then my parents would just fix it and make it better. They would take care of me. And they always did. The only thing I ever remember worrying about was being kidnapped. Crazy, I know. But it was a real worry of mine for quite some time. I even dreamed about it. But other than that I never really worried and if I did I certainly don't remember it.

I knew people growing up that worried. Some of them worried a lot. And I mean a lot. One of my very best friends was a worry wart. (Name not used in order to protect the innocent.) I would always tell her to take a deep breath and not sweat the small stuff. It seemed perfectly logical to me. What I failed to realize and what I think a lot of people fail to realize is that the "small stuff" isn't alway small to other people. The things she worried about were "big" to her and they mattered. 

It's kind of like this whole eating thing going on with Morgan Kate. A lot of people don't understand it. People tell me not to worry about it. People tell me that she will eat when she is hungry. People tell me that I should stress about it. But I do. I do stress about it. And I do worry. 

I worry about so many things these days. Most of them all relate to my precious baby girl. I guess really all of my worries do. I am sure that most of my worries are just "mommy" related. I am sure my mom worried about the three of us. I think moms just do that. I also think that my worries stem from her early arrival and our NICU stay. After that things just all became so clear. We don't know what will happen from day to day. We aren't promised tomorrow. We can't plan for everything. And that makes me worry. It also makes me a tad scared. I like to have a plan. I like to know what is going to happen next. I like to know that things are going to be okay. 

I don't like being worried. I don't like the way it feels. 

But don't fret, I'm working on my worrying. You see my praying helps with my worrying. And I pray a lot. I know that I will never be 100% free from worrying, but I do think it's going to get better. That's one of my prayers anyway. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Morgan Kate entered the world weighing one pound and twelve ounces and today she weighed in at twelve pounds and one ounce. I personally thought it was kind of neat.

Our appointment with Dr. G, our pediatrician, went very well and we talked about quite a lot. I had my list of questions ready the minute she walked in. My two biggest concerns were Morgan Kate's eating and her breathing. 

I have posted about Morgan Kate's eating numerous times, but it continues to be a concern of mine. Matter of fact, a very large concern. I have ready blog after blog about preemies and it seems like a good many preemies have issues with eating. 

The other night we tried letting Morgan Kate sleep through the night without waking her up to eat. She woke up around 1am on her own so we went ahead and fed her. When she woke up at one she wasn't crying or anything. She was just making noises and was wide awake. After she ate she went back to sleep and slept until almost nine. I was shocked that she slept so long and figured that she would be starving. Nope. Not one bit. When I tried feeding her at nine it was quite a battle. She just wasn't interested. 

There are times when she doesn't want anything to do with the bottle and other times when she takes it like a champ. I realize that there may be times when she isn't hungry, but we cannot sacrifice any ounces. She has gained exactly a pound since our visit a month ago. Seems great, right? Not really. Babies typically gain anywhere from a half ounce to an ounce a day. If that were the case with Morgan Kate then she should have gained two pounds at least. She is still not on the growth chart for her actual age and has plateaued for her adjusted age. Dr. G and our gastro doctor would like to see her taking between 20 and 24 ounces a day. 

With all that being said we have decided to try a NEW formula. I know. I am scared to death. I am so scared we are going to mess something up. But I know we have to eventually try it. She has been taking Neocate. The pricey formula. It's good for her because it helps with digestion. Many preemies have immature digestive systems and this formula helps. We are hoping that her digestive system has matured some and we can try another formula. One that tastes a little better. We are now trying Enfamil Gentleease Lipil. At 5 this afternoon she took almost 4 ounces and at 8pm she took almost three and a half. I am just praying that this continues and that the new formula doesn't bother her stomach. Most of all I just want her to be healthy and to grow, grow, grow.

Morgan Kate's breathing sounds great. Dr. G said it herself. I'm not concerned about how it sounds. My concern is how out of breath she gets doing things. Whenever she is eating she gets so out of breath. Whenever we try tummy time she gets short of breath. Whenever we trying sitting up she gets short of breath. It breaks my heart because she seems to be working so hard. I mentioned this to Dr. G today and she noticed it as well. 

MK's shortness of breath is due to her chronic lung disease and it will get better with time. One way we can hopefully help her is by giving her breathing treatments twice a day. Now we tried an inhaled steroid back in January and it was a disaster. This is a completely different steroid and we will give it to her through a nebulizer. So it's very different from the one we used in January. I have made the executive decision not to start the treatments until Friday. I want to make sure that the formula is going to work first. If all goes well with that, then we will move to the breathing treatments. I am not about to start both at one time. If something were to go wrong and we were doing both then I wouldn't know which one was really causing the problem. So we will try the new formula until Friday and then start with the breathing treatments. Again, I am praying that all goes well and that MK continues to stay healthy. 

Needless to say, our appointment was very informative. I am a little stressed out and overwhelmed at the moment, but I know that it will pass. To me it just seems like a lot of new stuff at one time and it to be perfectly honest, it scares me. I don't want to revert to where we were before and I definitely don't want to mess up what we have going. I also want MK's breathing to be easier and I want her to actually like eating and want to eat. 

So please pray specifically for those two things....eating and breathing. 

On a very bright note...Dr. G said it would be fine for us to start getting out some. We now have the big okay from her pediatrician and the pulmonologist. So we are going to start taking baby steps and get out a little. It's so funny - we have gotten the okay and I'm still so nervous. I still hesitate to take her anywhere. But I know we will, it may just take some time.

Julie, our early interventionist, came this morning and MK got quite the workout. She worked a lot on rolling over and sitting up. MK can roll from her tummy to back, but she can't quite get back to tummy. She can roll on her side, but then gets stuck. MK did a super job today and worked really hard. I was very proud of her! 

Friday at 3 her physical therapist will be coming to do an evaluation and talk with us. After the evaluation the PT will write a plan based on what MK needs. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

I think Oprah reads our blog. 

I think she read the blog and was even inspired to do today's show. 

Ha, ha. Just kidding. I am pretty sure Oprah does NOT read our blog. However, she did an awesome show today on motherhood and being honest. Some of you may remember that several, several weeks ago I wrote about a post about the very same thing. Anyway, it was a terrific show. There were parts that made me laugh hysterically, parts that sounded way too familiar, parts that made me breathe a sigh of relief, and other parts that didn't match up, but were still quite interesting to hear. 

Maybe Oprah read our blog, maybe not. It's still kind of nice to pretend.

Today was quite a productive Monday for me. Before Travis got home from work I was able to pick up around the house, have numerous play sessions with Morgan Kate, wash dishes, cook dinner, wash bottles, fix new bottles, and watch Oprah. I was even able to shower before lunchtime today. Morgan Kate spent lots of time rolling over, loving on Mommy, playing on her tummy, loving on Mommy, playing with toys and she even watched a cartoon or two. I must say that today was a good day for both of us.

Tomorrow morning Julie, our early interventionist, will be coming for Morgan Kate's weekly appointment. We also have an appointment with Dr. G, the pediatrician. It's just an appointment to check her weight and things of that nature. I plan to talk to her about Morgan Kate's current "eating strike", as well as the fact that she gets so out of breath doing so many things. I am sure it's probably nothing, but I just want to check it all out. I already have my "list" of questions prepared. 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Springtime. Warm weather. Blue skies. Flowers blooming. Easter approaching. Can it get any better?

I get so excited about the weekends. I have always lived for the weekends, but even more so now. Week days are full of work and appointments and other things of the sort, but the weekends are a time when we can all be at home, unwind and spend some good quality time with one another. Travis can stay up later and we an both sleep in a little later. We both get to spend time with Morgan Kate. It's so very nice. This weekend was no different. It was fabulous to say the least.

Saturday we could be found either outdoors or in our den with the windows open. It was absolutely beautiful outside. We were able to go on several walks and it was the best feeling in the world. Morgan Kate seemed to love it just as much as we did, but I did learn one thing. She may act a lot like me, but she is not cold natured like I am. This girl gets hot quick. She doesn't really like blankets and just sitting in her car seat causes her to sweat. So after our second walk of the day she had had enough. 

Today we had another great day and were able to enjoy some more of the outdoors. I am so ready for the weather to stay nice and warm. I can already tell this summer is going to be so much fun!

Most of you know this. Some of you may not. But I absolutely love my brothers. Seriously. They are my heart. I would do anything in this world for either one of them.

Now, there were definitely times growing up where we didn't see eye to eye or didn't agree on everything. There were times where we fought and argued. I would scratch Owens just to make him cry or dress Kyle up like a little girl just to get a laugh. And there were times Owens would hold me under the water in the swimming pool just to see how long I could hold my breath or times when Kyle would scream and pitch a fit in the middle of Wal-Mart just to see my face turn beet red.

Of course like all siblings we had our differences at times. But I would have to say and I think my parents would agree, that for the most part we really got along great. I think all three of us have a really special bond and love for one another.

Owens and I are almost three years apart. We grew up doing the same things and going the same places. We were in middle school together, high school together and then college together. We hung out on the weekends together, went to the same functions and had a lot of the same friends. Most of the time we were inseparable.

Kyle and I are almost ten years apart. While we didn't go to school together or have the same friends, we still have a very special relationship. Kyle and I are a lot alike. We like a lot of the same things, do a lot of the same things, worry about a lot of the same things and even cause some of the same trouble. We are like two peas in a pod.

It's funny. Growing up I never even wondered what it would be like to have a sister. I never even gave it a thought. I had two wonderful brothers who I loved dearly and who loved me and I was perfectly content. And I still am. I love these two boys dearly. I would do anything in the world for them and I know they would do the same for me. They have always been right by my side. They were with me growing up, they were with me when I left for college, they were with me when Travis and I got married and I knew they would be with me when Morgan Kate arrived.

The week I was hospitalized Owens and Kyle came for numerous visits. They helped with the dogs and watched our house. The night before Morgan Kate was born Owens and Kyle were actually at my house with Travis "secretly" painting the nursery. We hadn't even started on the nursery when I was hospitalized so they thought it would be a nice surprise to at least paint the nursery for me. Perfect timing if you ask me. The next morning when I called Travis in a panic they all came to the hospital together. All three of them showered, jumped in the car and got to the hospital in record time. Owens and Kyle stayed at the hospital through everything that happened that day and they were at the hospital the minute Morgan Kate was born. They even got to see my precious baby long before I ever did. But you know what? I was perfectly okay with that. It actually made me feel better that they had seen her and they were telling me she was okay. You see I might be the "big" sister, but they always take care of me. And I know they will always take care of Morgan Kate. 

It absolutely melts my heart to see them with Morgan Kate. She already loves them to pieces and her eyes light up when they walk in the room. From the moment she was born I couldn't wait for them to hold her. They have definitely taken their time and been very patient, but it has finally happened. They have both held my baby girl and it makes me so happy. I hope that one day Morgan Kate will know the kind of love I have for Owens and Kyle.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Morgan Kate has started spinning. That's right. Spinning. When we put her down at night we lay her one way and when we return for one of our middle of the night feedings she has spun herself in a complete different direction. It is so funny and so precious at the same time. And a little worrisome because I never really know where she will end up. Her favorite spot to "spin" to is at the very top of the crib. I am a little disappointed in myself because I haven't caught it on camera. But I promise that I will be working on it. 

Not only is Morgan Kate spinning these days, but she seems to be on somewhat of a "food strike". I say somewhat because it doesn't happen at all feedings. For example, today at 1pm she just was not interested. It was like pulling teeth to get her to eat and it took forever. I eventually just gave up. Then at 5pm and again at 8pm she ate like a champ! Took the entire bottle in less than fifteen minutes. This has been going on for about a week now. I know some of you are saying, "Don't worry, sometimes babies do this." I know. I know that sometimes babies do this. I know that it usually doesn't last long. But I also have to remember that Morgan Kate is slightly different. The "typical" four month old takes between 24-27 ounces of formula a day. Morgan Kate only takes 18 ounces. We have tried feeding her more, but she just won't take it. So far 18 ounces has been enough. She is gaining good weight and things have been progressing. However, if she stops eating or goes on "strike" then she's eating even less that 18 ounces and that isn't good. See why I am a little worried? Please say a little prayer that this eating thing will be resolved very soon. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The March of Dimes holds a very special place in my heart. Because of the amazing grace of God, the might power of prayer, and the research done by the March of Dimes our baby girl is alive and well.

Until this past year I really knew nothing about the March of Dimes. Of course I knew they had an impact on babies and families, they held walks and raised money. But I didn't really know anything more. 

After having Morgan Kate the March of Dimes sent us a packet full of information. The packet included information about premature babies, information about the NICU, information about how to be a parent in the NICU, and so forth. The information was very helpful. At this point in time I still didn't know exactly what the March of Dimes did.

Since that time I have learned. And I am so very thankful. The March of Dimes conducts research. Not just any research. But research that helps prevent pre-term births and research that helps those babies that are born pre-term. Matter of fact in 1985 the March of Dimes funded research that led to the use of surfactant to treat respiratory distress syndrome. In simple words, this research helped Morgan Kate breathe for the very first time. At 25 weeks gestation babies don't have the surfactant they need in order to breathe. The minute Morgan Kate was born surfactant was administered. Thank you March of Dimes! The March of Dimes also educates women on how to have a healthy pregnancy and in turn have a healthy baby. And they provide information to families with newborns in intensive care.

I will be participating in this year's walk which will be held on April 25th. I will be walking in honor of Morgan Kate and her life. I will also be donating money to this worthy cause. If you feel led to donate to the March of Dimes you can click on the purple button in the right sidebar. 

Morgan Kate and I thank you!