Come celebrate the Mother’s Milk Bank next Thursday night!

human donor milk
liquid gold saves preemie lives
ev'ry single day

I know that by now you all know Ike has benefited tremendously from human donor milk. He's nearly 19 months old and we still get a weekly supply of milk for him from the Mother's Milk Bank here in Austin. I firmly believe that this milk has helped him in ways we can barely comprehend. I know that sounds dramatic, but I really think it's true. His immune system needs all the help it can get, and with the added issues of reflux and aspiration, breast milk has always been his best option.

When he was born at 28 weeks, the doctors in the NICU encouraged me to pump even though he was getting most of his nutrition initially from IVs. Fortunately, I was able to pump. I pumped and pumped and pumped and pumped. At that time, Ike got mere drops of my milk everyday, but it was enough to stave off horrible complications like the dreaded (and deadly) necrotizing entercolitis.

Some mothers are unable to pump like I did, though. The stress, the medications, the sheer earliness of their babies – there are lots of factors that prevent mothers from pumping when they have tiny, tiny preemies in the NICU. At these times, doctors prescribe human donor milk and the milk bank snaps into action. They deliver pasteurized breast milk to the hospital that is administered to the babies via tube feeds. Every day, this donated milk saves lives.

I ended up with so much milk that I donated over 200 ounces to the milk bank when Ike came home. Then suddenly, we were hit with the trach and the stress nearly dried up my milk. Even when I pumped every two hours for weeks on and and took milk-inducing supplements, I still couldn't produce enough milk for my seriously ill baby.

The milk bank stepped in, providing Ike enough milk to sustain him and help him grow. And now, as he transitions to high calorie, fortified prescription formula, we still mix it with donor milk so that we can get as many antibodies and immunities in him as we can.

I tell you all of this because next Thursday, March 25th, the Mother's Milk Bank here in Austin is having a Grand Opening Celebration. They've just moved to HUGE new offices and they (deservedly) want to show them off. You'll get wine and snacks, and babes in arms are welcome.

You'll get a tour of the facilities – they are SO EXCITED to be able to show off the (three!) pasteurization labs, the meeting rooms available to the public, the drive-thru for donor milk drop-off, and so much more.

Plus, if you drop by you can see the giant picture of Ike up on the wall. 🙂

So, please, if you're at all interested in how donating milk works, drop by the Milk Bank the evening of the 25th between 5 and 7. It's on Medical Arts Street, Suite 12 (in Medical Arts Square). It's right there at the corner of Dean Keeton and Medical Arts. Parking is free and plentiful.

Hooray for breast milk! Hooray for milk donors! And hooray for the Mother's Milk Bank!

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Rodeo, blogging, trachiness, and other sundries

a poop free planet
what the wee one's searching for
after rodeo

My sister and I took the wee one and the wee-er one to the rodeo today. Not the actual rodeo where you watch cowboys launch themselves toward fleeing animals during things like "calf scrambles", but the extraneous rodeo, where you eat potato chips made by a man with a Black & Decker drill and a bunch of potatoes, and where you watch baby pigs named Sarah Jessica Porker and Brad Pigg race each other for a bite of an Oreo.

Great fun!

Gpig

Exhausting, though. And I was sad we couldn't bring Ike-a-saurus. I guess, technically, we could have brought him and his nurse with us, but with all the dirt and sawdust and poop it just didn't seem like a great place to go if you have a hole in your neck leading directly to your lungs. Alas.

Speaking of trachs, Ike-a-saurus has learned to occlude his with not only his finger but his chin. So now he can rip off his HME, jam his chin over his trach and go OOOH AAAAH BBBUUUHHHH BBBAAAAHHHH until he turns red in the face and I holler at him to stop. Very entertaining.

Speaking of entertaining – not much of that going on around here on the blog. Sorry about that. I'm trying to finish writing a new book, and it's keeping me busy.

That's a lie.

What's keeping me busy is three kids and a trach and spring break and finishing the new book and blah blah. Also, I'm blogging on THREE other blogs now (crazy, I know), and tweeting here and there, so my time is stretched. I'm going to try to do better getting on here, but if there's a stretch of a couple of days, pop over to The Spectacle or The YA-5, or my K.A. Holt blog, or my twitter page (there's actually two: @haikumama, and @karianneholt – haikumama has the cursing, karianneholt has the book stuff).

I sound like a crazy person now, don't I? It's true. You got me.

Crazy.

Person.

Who tortures her kids with pony rides at the rodeo.

There once was a zombie from Austin…

There once was a zombie from Austin.

Whose voice had a small hint of Boston.

He raced a fine relay

Despite a shambl'ng gate

And excessive make-up on his noggin.

Yes, worst. limerick. ever. But it was a fun day, even though I am now overcome with a cold or allergies or some other insidious infection of the brain and face holes.

Today, the wee one and I went over to BookPeople, our most awesomest local bookstore, and we enjoyed a fine afternoon of Zombie relay races. The kiddo got his face painted up nice and scary-like, and then marched through the crowds recruiting his own relay team. Once assembled, the kids shambled their way through trivia questions, brain eating, brain smashing, clothes trading, three-legged race running and exhaustion.

Coming in second place (after a group of fantastically dressed Shaun-of-the-Dead types), the boys all won a book of zombie tattoos.

The afternoon was capped off with a purchase of book 4 in the Percy Jackson series, and after much zombie-begging, the do-it-yourself Diary of a Wimpy kid book.

I know the purchases didn't really match the day, did they? And that's a double shame because the zombie relays were in celebration of author Stacey Jay and her zombie YA books. Somehow I managed to get so completely distracted I neither bought her books, nor got them signed. DOH. It's a good thing I stalk BookPeople regularly and that they always have a nice stash of signed books handy.

Sorry, Stacey!

I blame this guy:

Zombiesam

We interrupt normal bitching for extra bitching, please stand by

I am about to go on a rant about our nurse today. I don't know where else to do it. Forgive me.

1. 45 minutes late this morning (traffic was terrible, so I give her a partial pass on this)

2. Didn't ask any questions. No "where are your extra trachs?" No "what are his meds?" No "What is his schedule like?" Nothing. No questions.

3. No consultation of the med sheet, resulting in a missed dose of reflux medicine. Also, his nebs would not have been administered if I hadn't pulled them out, assembled the pari neb, attached it all to him and pointed out where the on switch was for the nebulizer.

4. After the nebs, the neb kit was left fully assembled, still attached to the tubing, on the side table. Little empty plastic vials left within the baby's reach. Nothing rinsed, nothing trashed.

5. I (probably ill-advisedly) left her here alone with Ike while I went to pick up the wee-er one from school. When we got back, the nurse appeared to be sleeping on the couch. Possibly just dozing. Possibly day-dreaming. The wee-er one totally called her out: "Why were you sleeping on our sofa?" Ha.

6. I do not think it's too much to ask, that when the baby is sleeping, the nurse finds things to do. Wash bottles, prepare his lunch, clean the neb kit, get his meds ready, change suction catheters, etc. I also do not think this is something I have to TELL a nurse. I think she should be able to figure this out. a) dozing on the job, less acceptable b) cleaning up the baby's mess, doing nurse-y things, more acceptable.

7. Not really touching the baby or interacting with the baby until late in the afternoon (maybe after feeling refreshed from a rest?). Mostly, just spending the day standing around, still wearing a jacket as if ready to flee the scene at any moment.

8. Actually fleeing the scene 5 minutes early. (Not that this is a huge deal, but it is indicative of work ethic, you know?)

I know not everyone can be a wonderful nurse. And I know we've been lucky to have a few great ones. I guess that just makes it worse to have a mediocre – if that – nurse step in for the day. I fully give her credit for being personable and nice, but… but… It just makes everything harder for everyone when the nurse doesn't act like a nurse. I have to be extra vigilant, Ike is stressed out from having a new person here, no one can get anything done, etc.

For the most part, I love having nurses for Ike. And I think with the right nurses it's an enriching experience for him. He learns to love and trust other people outside the family. It broadens his horizons. It gives him fun stuff to do all day, even if the pesky trach tries to hamper things. And it's also good for me. I get time out of the house to run errands, I have time to spend one-on-one with the other kids, I get to sleep, I learn to trust that other people can take care of Ike, etc.

But days like today make it very tempting to just try to go it alone. I know I can't reasonably do that. He can't ride in the car without someone next to him who is trained in trachiness. There's no way I could manage one of his doctor's appointments alone. Plus, sometimes it's nice to have someone here to talk to, who understands him and trachs and medical crap; who has my back if the trach needs to be changed, or if Ike gets sick all of a sudden.

I just get so frustrated with people sometimes. And being new is no excuse for not getting shit done. I don't have time for people to not get shit done. I already don't get enough shit done on my own.

YARGH.

Signing time

learning how to talk
easy to take for granted
when you just don't know

With the wee one and the wee-er one, when it came to talking they both had that skill wrapped up pretty early. Particularly the wee one. You can go through the archives of this blog and read posts of me lamenting the fact that my tiny tot would never, ever hush. At home, at night, in the car, at the store, while he was eating, while he was playing, in the bath, getting dressed, at the dentist, walking to the mailbox… he never.stopped.talking.

The wee-er one was the same. Not quite as early as the wee one, but still early. And now, together, they create such a cacophony I want to record them both talking to me at once because some days it's just so funny. If not infuriating.

With those two, we had discussed teaching them some signs when they were tiny, but we never followed through. They talked so early, it wasn't really necessary. And I was afraid the signing would actually diminish their desire to talk.

This is another one of those things where it feels like the Universe was watching me, listening to me joke and complain. The a decision came down – I, the Universe, am going to give this mama the polar opposite of what she knows. I'm going to challenge her (wrong-headed) thoughts about signing. I'm going to give her a child who can't speak.

So here we are.

And early on, even knowing that the trach was going to limit Ike's ability to vocalize, I still resisted signing with him for a very long time. I don't know why. Maybe it was because I felt like I was capitulating somehow, giving up the fight that he would speak on time. Or maybe I was afraid that he would learn sign language and then never want to speak even when he could.

I know now that both of those ways of thinking were ridiculous. I think, too, they were ways for me to kind of continue this denial I had going on.

I'm over it now. And I hope that struggling through those phases of denial haven't delayed Ike's speaking even more. Because now that we've started signing with him in earnest, he is picking it up so quickly. I'm amazed everyday when he sits in his little chair for breakfast and immediately signs "chocolate".

When we strap him into his sleeping wedge, he signs "dog" so that someone will bring him his toy puppy.

He signs "milk" for everything. "Milk" is the go-to sign for "more" and "food" and "give me that". He's learning "yes" now, though, and "all done" so the pressure is off of the all-inclusive "milk" somewhat.

This morning, he was playing with his toy keys. We haven't learned a sign for "keys" yet, and instead of signing "milk" for them (which is something he would usually do), he made up his own sign. It looked a lot like "chocolate" which I took to mean he REALLY like his keys. But when I looked up the ASL sign for "keys" I saw that the hand movements are very similar to Ike's version of "chocolate."

How did he know that? Either he is sneaking onto my computer, or the sign for "keys" is very intuitive. Or his nurse taught him and I didn't know. Regardless, it was pretty stunning.

Everyday, he seems to pick up more and more, and when he sees that we recognize what he's saying, he gets even more excited. It's so sweet. Not only that, it's also helping him with his vocalization. He says "Hi" and "here" and every now and then we think we hear an "uh-oh". He's said "Georgia" once, which blew us all away.

It's so true that signing activates the same part of the brain as spoken language and I feel like an idiot for not working harder with him sooner, you know? But we're making up for lost time. He's picking up new signs everyday, it seems.

Seeing those hands move is every bit as encouraging and exciting as it is to hear your baby speak.

I really am in awe everyday.

Liveblogging the Oscars!

Even though I am overwhelmed by the social networking choices tonight, I'm going to stick with the old school blogging format. EVEN SO, there may be an occasional tweet or facebook posting during the shenanigans tonight. So if you would like to be offended or bored across MANY platforms, make sure you're following me on The Twitter. (@haikumama)

I am already shouty with excitement, SO HERE WE GO.

7:02: Technically this is the preshow. But I think we all need to talk about how Maggie Gyllenellenhallhegne is wearing the same colored lipstick as my 7th grade US history teacher. Mrs. Antillle shout out!

7:05: Not a fan of George Clooney's wispy bangs. Are his bangs a weird cross-promotional ABC/ V thing? Clooney sports the top half of Anna's hair. I can envision the marketing meeting this idea was borne from. The late night marketing meeting. The late night marketing meeting with whiskey and pot and a V marathon. The late night marketing meeting with whiskey and pot and a V marathon and George Clooney posters hanging on the wall.

7:13: I have seen two of the ten nominated movies. Not bad, really, considering I never get out of the damn house. Like never. Ever. Ever.

7:15: HOLY SHIT. Sarah Jessica Parker in high def is a little bit yikes. All angles, that girl.

7:21: Pretty sure Miley Cyrus has dentures. I know we've talked about this before.

7:25: So the nurse just called in sick for tomorrow. I will not think about the repercussions until after the Oscars.

7:30: Actor and Actress nominees on stage at the same time! Please, please have them burst into song. Or dance the tango off the stage.

7:32: Oh, NPH. You planned the part where JamCam was all in the dark, right? Awesome.

7:34: Matthew Broderick has turned into an Old Navy mannequin.

7:35: See the feet on Alec's shoulder? It's the devil, whispering sweet nothings. Come on, Devil! Let's get some zingers tonight!

7:40: Every time I see James Cameron I kind of want to kick him. What is that? 

7:43: I'm waiting for it to get funny.

7:45: Matt Damon has the same accent as Gwyneth Paltrow! Can you imagine how he called her one night and was all, "Hey, I need to study your accent!" And she was all, "I don't have an accent!" And he was all, "Right." "And she was all, "Seriously." And then he said, "So it's South African right?" And she said, "my handbag?" And he said, "YOUR ACCENT!" And it just degenerated from there.

7:49: Behind Quentin in the audience? Santa after the Atkins diet. 

7:50: The Blind Side looks like one of those sappy movies I would hate, and yet I feel absolutely compelled to see it. It is a weirder feeling than the one I have to constantly kick the living shit out of James Cameron.

7:52: I have a desire to borrow someone's iPad, to hold it in one hand, with a Foster's beer in the other hand, and yell, "I'M SHRINKING" over and over until someone finally offers up a sad laugh.

7:57: "This is not food" Ha. Funniest line of the night so far goes to an animated dog.

7:59: Just listening to the music from Up makes my eyes tear up. Jeez.

8:00: Did you like how specific I was just then? "My eyes tear up." Yes. Rather than my nose or my shoulders.

8:01: DENTURE ALERT! DENTURE ALERT! Miley Cyrus is an old lady. I swear it. She how she's standing there? Hear her voice? She is actually a 700-year-old James Cameron who has come back in time to test out his age-reversing time machine before he sells it to Hollywood at large. 

8:03: And gender-reversing. Obviously.

8:07: The dangly lights that rim the stage look just like the glow worm silk hanging inside the caves on Planet Earth. I wonder if these dangly lights are also an attempt to ensnare cockroaches?

8:12: Sickly little mole people. Yes. Best description of writers ever. Also, showing Tina Fey and Colin Firth in back-to-back shots made my heart do a funny flip-flop of confused crushes.

8:15: Yay writers! People are clapping for you!

8:18: 220, 221, whatever it takes.

8:19: I just got felt up by my grandmother

8:23: Loved the shot of the youngsters after the John Hughes tribute. I could probably write a master's thesis on Kristen Stewart's scowl right there.

8:24: Every time Up is on, or there's a clip of Up on, and the scene comes on where the little boy says "Will you let me in?" and the old man says, "No!" my husband laughs. Even when he's not in the room I always hear a little heh heh. It makes me laugh that it makes him laugh so much.

8:31: Whatsherface there, the blondie… I love her haircut. Love it. But she better watch out or Clooney's going to crib her bangs.

8:32: The background on stage looks like shiny Cracklin' Oat Bran. Mmm.

8:34: At this point in the show, I bet Meryl Streep is thinking, "Wow, this is going to be a long one. Where can I get one of those astronaut diapers?"

8:37: It's kind of ironic to make movies when your name is Tivi, no?

8:40: Spontaneous sexy contest: Eric Bana vs. Colin Firth – GO!

8:42: Tiny lamps! Tiny lamps at Jeff Bridges' feet. It would be kind of awesome to have those follow you around whenever you were in a dark room. If they feet. But also, that would be trippy. In every sense of the word.

8:49: Husband just brought me nachos. Distracted. But not distracted enough to stop lamenting the fact that I haven't seen District 9 yet.

8:50: Oh, Geoffry Fletcher, you're going to make me cry.

8:52: Spontaneous sexy contest II: Queen Latifah or J. Lo – GO!

8:55: More lamps! I am loving the lamps. I'm going to put 6 million lamps on my living room wall. 

8:59: Well it had to be Mo'Nique, didn't it? Wow. I am never, ever going to see that movie, but just from the clips I can see how amazing she was. And, how awesome to mention Hattie McDaniel? She was the first African American woman to win a Best Supporting Actress award.

9:01: Sentimentality over! Now it is Colin Firth sexytime!

9:04: Colin Firth sexytime over! Now it is nachos sexytime!

9:07: SJP is wearing vintage, right? She also managed to find a vintage face and just-rode-in-a-convertible hair. Has she been sitting under a vent? Rubbing her head on Colin Firth's chest?

9:11: Super snarky costume lady! Wearing a tribble on her boob! Get after it, Super Snarky Costume Lady. You have three Oscars now. Don't hold back.

9:18: "It's been 37 long years since whore got its start, blah blah," Oh, Kristen Stewart, enunciate! Whore has been around a LOT longer than that.

9:21: Hi, Oscar montage people? Edward Scissorhands is not a horror movie.

9:23: Remember that age-reversing time machine we were talking about before? I think maybe the first person to buy one will be Ryan Seacrest. And then he will come back as Zac Efron and present on the Oscars tonight.

9:24: The noses on the Avatar people look just like the pictures of the stent the doctors are going to create out of Ike's rib. Well, except
for the blue part. That's pretty weird, isn't it?

9:28: Do I know this girl? I feel like I know this girl. She's funny. (Not John Travolta)

9:33: "the pill does not protect from pregnancy when you are already pregnant." Thanks, commercials. You're so helpful.

9:35: I guess they're trying to save time here, but I think it's kind of weird that the cinematographers don't get to show any clips. More time for JimCam/JamCam cult gushing, though. Whew.

9:37: Demi Moore walks out and my husband says, "Demi Moore? Isn't she dead?" And here she is introducing the dead people montage. doo dee doo doo doo dee doo doo.

9:44: This HEB kid status meeting commercial is hilarious. I completely believe in this conspiracy theory. Completely.

9:47: Oh, Adam Shankman. I love the cheesy dancing part. I think you're pretty cool, too. And I would still think that even if you didn't remind me a little of our kick ass pediatrician.

9:50: The dancing is really amazing. Maybe they should just do dance interpretations to introduce all of the awards.

9:53: So now, not only does the Up music make me weepy, the composer does, too. What a great speech. Hooray for supportive parents!

9:55: Uh-oh, whathisface from the Hangover and Alias (what is wrong with my memory tonight?) just said "and the winner is…" big Oscar no-no, dude. No more presenting for YOU!

9:57: Spontaneous sexy contest III: Jason Bateman or George Clooney – GO!

10:02: Wait. I haven't been paying attention. We're doing clips again? Those cinematographers got screwed.

10:04: Wait. Again. Not paying attention. Has EVERYONE been saying "and the winner is?" MUST START PAYING ATTENTION. Now that there's twenty minutes left.

10:08: It's Morticia Adams as viewed through a negative!

10:09: I think that sentence just made me about 80 years old.

10:10: Those spinning stairs are like a sun dial of how long this show is. Just before Forever, but just past Yawn.

10:15: I take back what I said about SJP's hair. It was definitely Pedro Almodovar rubbing his head all over Colin Firth.

10:17: Really. I just can't get enough of the tiny lamps everywhere. They remind me of the little free purple mushrooms on Plants vs. Zombie. I keep expecting them to shoot little spore bombs at everyone.

10:18: So did James Cameron divorce Kathryn Bigelow and marry his grandmother?

10:23: So many commercials. I just grew a beard.

10:25: Does anyone really say tow-head? Like, in real life?

10:27: I like the idea of the anecdotes, but they're a little hand-jobby, no?

10:29: Spontaneous sobriety question! Morgan Freeman – 1 flask in his pant leg, or two?

10:31: Kate Winslet is gorgeous, even when she's dressed like a Diet Coke.

10:33: The Dude takes it! And more parent stories. Sweet.

10:37: So, for Best Director are they bringing out the film school professors everyone had? To talk about how promising they were, and how great their student films were, and how blah blah, snore I just fell asleep, longest Oscars ever… lamps

10:41: Sandra Bullock has worked her ass off to get here. You can just tell, you know? You can also tell she wants to run up there and grab Forrest Whitacker in a headlock.

10:44: Oprah's giving free Gabbys to the whole AUDIENCE!

10:48: No way! Sandy takes it! My heart just got a little racy for her. Funny brown-haired girls FTW!

10:50: To everyone who was kind to me before it was fashionable. HA.

10:52: And more mama love. Aw.

10:53: Whew! Babs is here with her GIANT DROOPY LACE BOOB BOW to snap us out of our mistiness.

10:55: And Kathryn Bigelow wins! Such class to not turn around and be all "suck it, jamcam!"

10:59: Hooray for the Hurt Locker! And not just because it was only one of two movies I've seen out of the nominees. I really did think this was going to be a boring Avatar-wins-everything night. Yay for surprises. But dude, this show has been LONG.

11:02: Long.

11:03: Thanks for hanging in there with me everybody. Now go get some sleep. Dream of giant droopy lace boob bows and Colin Firth.