birthdays, development, mommy blog, NICU Life, prematurity, Tampa blogger

Celebrating Emerson

August has been a huge month of celebration for us. Emerson turned 3 on August 7th, and even though we are still living through a global pandemic, we were able to make his birthday special and memorable. We celebrated with a professional photo session with Warped Vision and drive by birthday parade with local friends.

This birthday was special for a number of reasons, but most notably, being a marker of the point we have reached in Emerson’s development. Not only is he trach free, but he is also eating most of his calories by mouth and working on drinking out of a cup. He is talking more and putting words together to make small sentences. I am even noticing he is doing better at listening when we ask him to do something (which is no easy feat for a toddler).

Last Tuesday, Emerson started preschool (virtually), and I am still in disbelief that we are at this point already. It seems like just yesterday, I was watching his little 1 pound body in his NICU bed wondering when I would be able to hold him. Now, I get all the cuddles all the time. I am so proud of how far he has come and excited to see him blossom this year. I am praying for a healthy, safe, and smooth preschool experience for him.

This Tuesday, Emerson will start going to preschool in person. I am so proud that he was able to handle the first week being virtual and excitedly nervous about this transition. My husband and I have been prepping all weekend by making his meals, ironing his uniforms, and packing is backpack. We are real school parents now!

Being at this moment in time makes me feel more blessed than anything. It is a joy to experience all these milestones and see Emerson’s personality continue to shape and shine through. What an honor to live in the presence of a miracle. 💜

COVID-19, development, mommy blog, prematurity, Tampa blogger

Preemie Mommy Reflections & Amazing News

My journey to motherhood was quite different than my expectations. No baby shower, no feeling the baby kicking at night, no making it to my third trimester, no gorgeous maternity photos. Instead, it was filled with anxiety and uncertainty, ironically, a lot of what we are experiencing in the world right now. It was only by the grace of God that I remained hopeful and steady throughout, even when I had a moment or two of breakdowns where I just had to let it out.

Even today, my experience as a mother differs quite a bit from many others. Mine is filled with trach changes, putting g-tubes back in, ordering and administering medication, ordering medical supplies, and keeping track of many doctors’ visits. It sounds like a lot, but I am grateful for it. Every day, I get to be the mom of a miracle. I look into my son’s eyes and am consistently in awe of how amazing he is and how much I never imagined him getting to this point. My focus has always been the present and while I knew he would grow and develop, I have tried not to let myself think too much about it as a way of not placing unrealistic pressure on him or myself as a mom.

Yesterday, we received some amazing news: Emerson’s decannulation will be on July 7th! Yes, the trach is coming out! I am so filled with emotions that I don’t know what to do. When I think about all that he has endured and overcome, I just thank God for creating this strong little boy and choosing me to be his mommy.

Lately, I have been struggling a bit with recognizing that the issues you experience as a preemie mom do not always stop when you leave the hospital. For us, there have been many hurdles after that, and while more recently, our focus is on the huge hurdle of eating, knowing that his trach will be coming out soon gives me comfort. It reminds me that we, as his parents, have done and are doing our best. He is developing at the rate that is best for him, and I am so proud. This journey hasn’t been the easiest, but it’s one that I am so grateful for. I have grown in ways I never could have imagined. 💜

birthdays, COVID-19, Holidays, mommy blog, NICU Life, prematurity, Tampa blogger

The Celebration Continues

March 2020 has been a complete whirlwind. I always look forward to March because both my husband and I celebrate our birthdays: his is March 7th and mine is March 30th. This year, we could have never planned for what this month has become: A month of quarantine and social distancing due to COVID-19.

The social distancing hasn’t been too much of a shock to our family because we spent so long in the NICU (191 days). I’ve seen memes going around that say how NICU families are made for this type of thing, and it’s true. I remember many times where Emerson was in isolation due to being sick and even less people than normal could be in his room and anyone entering the room needed to have a gown, gloves, and a mask. The difference is that now essentially we are having to live this way in the world rather than one room. Also, the fact that it’s due to a new virus that has no cure or vaccine yet, which is scary to think about.

Admittedly, I have been slightly bitter/sad about my birthday and not being able to celebrate as planned with a spa day and dinner with friends. This probably sounds like something I should just get over or not a big deal, but I am one of those people who LOVES birthdays and feel like they are kind of a big deal. I also felt sad that my husband’s birthday plans fell through at the beginning of the month when we had to cancel our trip to NC. Nevertheless, we have persevered and made the best of the situation. I was able to take my husband to a nice dinner (before all the restaurants closed their dining rooms) and get him a nice gift in place of the trip. For mine, we were able to have a virtual party with my friends, which was so much fun! We ended up chatting for almost 4 hours with anywhere from 11-16 people on at a time. It was so great to spend that time with friends and do table topics while talking about shows, movies, and whatever else came up. I was reminded of two things that night:

  1. How amazing my friends are
  2. How much they genuinely care for me

I do not take either for granted. What I appreciate most is the grace they all show me by being able to pick up right where we left off no matter how long ago we may have spoken or spent time together. I think we all understand that there’s a lot going on in our adult lives that we have to manage and I am just grateful for the grace they have all shown me and for still “showing up” for me.

(My friend Crystal sent me this photo of her view of my virtual party.)

During this time of social distancing and staying home, I would encourage you to take some time to connect with your friends and family virtually. It’s easy to be anxious and worried at a time like this, but a good way to combat that is through being connected. It reminds us that we are all in this together and not suffering alone. If there’s something special to celebrate, like a birthday, don’t let COVID-19 bring that to a halt. Celebrate virtually, and have so much fun doing it. I promise it energizes you and makes you feel just as connected as a typical in-person celebration because the point of it all really is the human interaction.

Lastly, my heart goes out to all the families currently living in the NICU. I don’t know the details, but I am sure that more stringent protocols have likely been put into place to keep the babies and families safe. Although, it’s for the best, I understand how that can make what you are already living through more stressful. Know that we are thinking of and praying for you during this time. 💜

development, mommy blog, NICU Life, prematurity, Tampa blogger

At Their Own Pace

Development can be a sensitive subject. Some parents (I think moms in particular) measure their success as a parent in terms of how their child is developing. So I tend to cringe any time I hear questions asked about development (ex: are they walking yet or why aren’t they walking yet). The thing about development is that while you can certainly help with your child’s development, at the end of the day, they develop at their own pace.

Having a micro preemie, one of the things I heard a lot was that I should expect him to be behind developmentally, but that he would likely catch up. Now that my son is two, I see what they meant. However, because I don’t have other children, I don’t necessarily think of it as him catching up, rather, it’s just his own pace of development.

However, now that he has accomplished so many developmental milestones, I find myself somewhat anxious about him continuing to move forward. Prime example: we are trying to get him to point things out to us, and he just doesn’t right now. It seems like something so easy, and I think because I know he knows what certain things are, I feel like he should be doing it. But alas, he’s not. This is when I have to remind myself that it’s at his own pace.

The outside world already places enough pressure on our children and is ready to quickly define them based on a number of things. We as parents are their safe space. It can be tough to walk the fine line between pushing them to develop, and pressuring them to develop. In the end, I think we all want the same thing for our kid(s), which is for them to be healthy and develop to the best of their abilities. We also tend to be on high alert for signs that they may need a little extra help developing in certain areas. For example, my son sees both a physical therapist and speech therapist, which is a huge part of why he’s come so far after a 191-day hospital stay.

Do you also struggle with this? I would imagine it’s likely something that moms of full-term babies probably deal with as well. I would love to hear your stories about how you manage the art of not adding additional pressure to your child because you are ready for them to move forward in their development, so please feel free to share. We are all in this together! 💜

**Update: When I originally started drafting this last week, Emerson would not point at anything… now he’s pointing to his nose! 😊