Dream Deferred

dress

Yesterday, since we were “trapped” in the house by sickness, I decided to tidy up a little. I saw Meg’s closet and how there was no more room on the rack for any hanging clothes. I decided to put some of her 18 month summer clothes away. It got me thinking about a blog entry that I have wanted to write… about the dream deferred. I have been thinking a lot about this, given our latest happenings with Meg. Putting away the dresses and the slightly too-big tanks and tees reminded me of the visions that I had had of Meg when I first bought them all last year.

If you know me, you know that I buy clothes well in advance. Maybe sometimes too far in advance. The strategy always served me well with my son. He has been pretty easy to predict in the growth area, staying constant and consistent throughout his three and a half years.

Meg on the other hand, has been super little from the beginning. I brought her home in a newborn outfit that was waaaay too big for her. The outfit that fit her best for the first month was a sleeper for preemies. Trying to predict seasons for her pre-bought outfits is like trying to predict which way the wind will be blowing five years from today in some far-removed, remote village.

Well, when I see a sale, I try my best in the prediction department. At the end of summer last year at my favorite Target, I found a rack of dresses that were just fit for a princess (I had a little girl! I could buy these beautiful dresses now!) at the bargain price of one dollar, two dollars and three dollars. What a deal! I started getting these visions of Meggie as a toddler, taking her steps slowly and awkwardly, getting her bearings as new walkers tend to do, her sweet little dresses bobbing up and down with her as she walked across the room to offer a toy to me with a smile. Or her in this pretty striped dress, toddling across the beach that we were almost certain to visit before we moved back to Ohio. Or her in the pretty purple dress, walking across the lawn on a beautiful summer day, her mom searching for that perfect photo op with the expanse of green lawn behind her and the sun high in the blue sky. I imagined her going to Sunday school in dresses. Maybe there would be a heat wave at Easter, and the possibility of a strappy dress for the kids’ Easter egg hunt. Imagine 18 month pictures in a beautiful dress! The possibilities for putting my perfect princess in dresses seemed endless.

Endless, that is, until reality comes crashing down, in my case. If I am being 100% honest, we will find that I have secretly been putting off my disappointments. It is not just dresses that were ultimately never worn. It’s the milestones hit a little too late… late enough to evoke a feeling of suspicion in me. It’s those moments where Meggie just doesn’t seem interested in something. Or the baby dolls we got her for her first Christmas, and the little accessories to go with them that have yet to be used or examined. Or that my two year old has yet to walk independently or eat solid foods. The dresses were ultimately never worn, because my daughter is still just crawling.

It’s that I have been hoping that, like in so many stories, the magical age of two was when things were just going to somehow align and work out, and she would start growing and fitting into the clothes that she was supposed to fit in two or three seasons ago, or she’d find some interest in the dolls, or she’d even magically start running around the coffee table in the same fashion her brother used to cruise, and by birthday number two, she’d take those steps across the room from Mommy’s arms to Daddy’s arms. That would save me the dreaded calls to the pediatrician, seeking services for a delay that I didn’t want my daughter to have… didn’t even want to believe that it was possible for her to have. Two was going to be my magic number… a glorious time. A truly, truly thankful Thanksgiving time.

Instead, we are now on our way to a destination into an unknown land. My tentative arrival there is marked with much anticipation. I feel ill-equipped to be traveling here. I don’t speak the language; I am not sure where I am going. I have never imagined myself sitting on these beaches or even in the homey little cafes. I am not sure which road connects with what… have no idea if a shortcut even exists. There is no map, and that makes me uncomfortable.

All road analogies aside, I say all this in hopes that the dresses are just a dream deferred. You know, just thoughts that came to my head…well, hopes really. Thoughts and hopes that may not have happened yet, but eventually will.  We’ve had some moments…some really great things…they’ve just not been what or when I was expecting them.

 And you’ll never believe what happened to me the other day: I found some dresses on sale and I bought them. Now if I could just find some fancy walking shoes to match…

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About the Blogger:

Jen P. lives in Ohio, with her husband, son, and daughter.  Being a parent of a child with special needs is an incredible blessing, and she is glad that she was chosen to be Meg’s mom. 

 

 

The NICU Journey

A Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a nursery within a hospital that specializes in caring for sick and preterm newborns. Most babies who spend the longest times in the NICU are born too early and for most families, like mine, this will be a sudden and unexpected experience. The days, weeks, and months to follow are emotionally draining. Families must endure waves of emotional highs and lows as their newborn goes through “good days” and “bad days”. Coping with these triumphs and setbacks can be difficult, but the NICU journey is an opportunity for immense bonding with your newborn. Here, I will share some tips to hopefully help someone get through this time.

  • The most important thing for you, as a mother, is to take care of yourself; physically and mentally. You cannot help your baby if you are not well.
    • Follow your provider’s orders for after-delivery care, especially if you had a cesarean. Do not drive, climb stairs, or carry heavy bags. You risk re-opening the incision.
    • Set a routine and stick to it. Include your meals, adequate time for sleep, and general hygiene in your schedule. This will help you rebuild your strength and maintain your physical and mental health. Also, set reminders to take your medications, if any.
    • Talk to someone about your emotions. A professional can help you understand your feelings (and once I was comfortable enough to talk with the nurses and social workers, I learned that most families of NICU babies deal with the same feelings of shock, helplessness, anger, guilt, and fear that I was experiencing). Talk to other families in the NICU, or join online forums or support groups to share stories. These “strangers” can be most comforting to you.
  • While you remain a patient in the hospital, you may want to request a private room. You may find it difficult to be around mothers with healthy newborns.
  • Get to know the staff and your baby’s caretakers, and make an effort to develop a rapport with them. There will be nurses, doctors, specialists, surgeons, social workers, lactation consultants, and more. Ask questions about the equipment, your baby’s condition, and procedures. These people are there to help. Become informed.
  • You are a crucial member in the team of providers for you baby’s care. Be involved. You will have almost 24-hour access to the nursery. You can also call at any time you desire. Once your baby is stable enough, you will be able to hold, bathe, feed, change, and dress him. You can coordinate these tasks with your baby’s nurse. Communicate your schedule to them, however, participation will all be based on your baby’s response and tolerance at the time, so be prepared for plans to change. I am a very reserved person, so I initially took a back-seat approach here. I felt uncomfortable in the beginning…like a stranger or just a visitor. I was not sure of what was expected of me or what was allowed of me. I was nervous to even put a blanket or cap back on my daughter if she wiggled out of it. Once I developed that rapport with the nurses, I felt more comfortable and was able to appropriately participate in her care.
  • Keep a calendar of dates and/or a journal. Record information on your baby’s health, progress, and treatments, special moments/events, and difficult times. In the future, you will want to remember all of the moments during this special time. I carried a notebook with me everywhere during the 44 days my daughter was in the NICU. No matter where I was, when I received information, I recorded it. My husband was not always with me, so rather than letting my stressed mind fail me, I could turn to my notebook and give him a complete run-down on our daughter’s day. A journal can also be a place for you to express your feelings to relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Take advantage of Kangaroo Care (skin-to-skin contact). This method of contact has been proven beneficial to parents and newborns. It has an overwhelming calming effect and is the ultimate bonding experience between the mother/father and baby. It can help alleviate symptoms of mood disorders. The newborn’s growth rate can increase, overall health has been seen to improve, and the baby is able to regulate their heart rate, breathing, and maintain a proper body temperature.
  • It is OK to not be at your baby’s crib-side 24-hours a day (as long as your schedule is communicated to the nurse). I struggled with this. Even when my daughter was in stable condition, I did not want to leave her side (I felt like I was abandoning her). I wanted to spend every waking minute with her. However, I did have another child at home that needed me as well. At our hospital, siblings (children) were allowed to visit once per week, between certain hours, so on that day every week, my husband and I gave our time and attention to our older daughter. We visited the baby as a family, and spent the rest of the day doing something special with her.
  • Know that only your baby can determine when he will be going home. The doctors and nurses cannot give you a date or time. More than likely, you will be told only hours before discharge. Rather than asking the doctor, “When can he come home?”, ask, “What are the tasks he needs to achieve before he can come home?” Expect your baby to be in the hospital until his actual due date, at least. My daughter was born 9 weeks early, so we planned on her being in the hospital for 9 weeks.

Our NICU journey was one of the most trying times in our lives. My daughter and this experience has changed my life forever. Through this journey, miracles were witnessed, faith was restored, and doors were opened. Her fight has been such an inspiration to me. Due to complications with pre-eclampsia, my daughter was born at 31 weeks gestation. She weighed 3 pounds, 12.8 ounces, and was 17.5 inches in length. We were able to bring her home on April 15, 2009, when she was 44 days old. She is now a beautiful, healthy, 2 1/2 year-old, with the same strong will she was born with. We are so very blessed.


About the Blogger:

Hi! My name is Tanya. I am a stay at home mom and a full time nursing student from South Jersey. I am married and have been blessed with 2 beautiful and healthy little girls, aged 2 years and 7 years. I love gardening, baking, crafting, and a good belly laugh!

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Hanukkah!Happy Hanukkah!

For our non-Jewish readers, it’s the holiday also known as the “Festival of Lights,” when we remember the re-dedication of the Temple following Judah Maccabee’s victory over Antiochus. According to the story, victorious Maccabees could only find a small jug of oil that had remained uncontaminated, and although it only contained enough oil to sustain light for one day, it miraculously lasted for eight days, by which time further oil could be obtained. This miracle is commemorated by lighting a special nine-branched candle-holder, called a menorah. One candle is lit anew during each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, until finally, on the eighth night, all the candles are lit. Children receive one gift each night, blessings are recited, games are played, and special foods are eaten. Though the celebration bears some resemblance to the celebration of Christmas and occurs during the same time of year, it is not a Jewish version of Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas- last week, I was in a large national chain store looking for Hanukkah candles. I had searched high and low, all over the store: the “Holiday” (Christmas) section, housewares, greeting cards, and toys….finally I gave up and asked an employee. He led me to a small endcap sandwiched in between the paperbacks and the giftwrap. I did find my candles, but that was about it! Aside from a small felt wall-hanging with Velcro candles and flames (it is going to be so much fun for my toddler to use!), some random menorahs, a few packages of paper napkins, and plates with dreidels on them, there wasn’t much to choose from. Seeing Hanukkah shoved aside like that, while the rest of the store was decked out in so much red and green it could have been the workshop of Mr. Claus himself, would have been almost comical if it hadn’t been so sad!

As a celebrator of both holidays, I want to encourage those who don’t know much about Hanukkah to do some research. There are lots of fun activities and great recipes to try with your kids that can help teach them about the holiday. Help your children build an understanding of people who are different than they are, and make them more culturally aware as future members of society. Latkes, anyone? In fact, make ‘em healthy: I found a recipe for apple latkes at smittenkitchen.com the other day! I’ll share it below.


Apple Latkes

Makes 12 2 to 3-inch latkes

1 pound tart, firm apples such as Granny Smiths (2 large or 3 medium)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs

Butter (about 2 tablespoons)

Rich plain yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche for serving

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and place a baking sheet inside. Peel and core apples and then grate them, either on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor, on the shredding blade. Transfer to a clean dishtowel or cheesecloth sling and wring out as much juice as you can into a small bowl. Set it aside if you wish to make a dessert sauce with it later.

Transfer grated apple to a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice. In a small dish, whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder and toss with the apples, coating them evenly. Whisk eggs in this small dish until lightly beaten and stir into apple-lemon-flour mixture.

Heat a large skillet to medium with one tablespoon butter. Once it has coated the pan, drop tablespoons full of apple batter in little piles, gently pressing them a bit flatter with a spatula. Fry until they are nicely brown underneath, about 3 to 5 minutes, then flip and continue to cook until they are browned and crisp. Drain briefly on paper towels and transfer to preheated oven to keep warm. Add a pat of the remaining butter for each new batch in the pan, and repeat with remaining batter.

 


About the Blogger:

Hi, I’m Carlee! I teach public school in Middle-of-Nowhere, Virginia. My hubby and I have been married for four years and have a daughter who is  two years old. I also give private music lessons and enjoy the arts, animals, and children- but spending time with my beautiful family is my favorite pastime!

Living On Limited Income

My family of four has been living with a limited income for over three years (ever since I had kids) and I would like to think I’ve become a bit of a pro at it. On our single income we have managed to pay off all my medical bill debt, buy a new house, a new car, and take the family on a nice vacation each year. It was hard work, but these days it seems so simple. Prior to becoming a one income family my boyfriend and I were both working full time and had no debt whatsoever.  Daytrips to Seattle and Portland were normal, and buying new clothes for myself with each paycheck was a must.

The hardest thing for us was building a savings account for emergencies.  We are still adding to that fund, but we have a full mortgage payment, and car payment saved up. Most importantly we need some extra money for medical bills. We are not married, so I am not covered on his insurance. Thankfully I’ve only had to go to the doctor once, but for strep throat it was $120, plus another $40 for the prescription!

 I started out couponing when my son was first born. I was completely overwhelmed with all the coupons, and had no clue what I was doing. It took me a year before I mastered it. I’m no “extreme” couponer, but most things I buy are on coupons. I found it easiest to find a few blogs that follow coupon deals and every few days check in on them to see if there are new deals posted. I’ve managed to cut our grocery bill in half this way. We started shopping at the bread outlets, and buy a few loaves at a time and stick them in the freezer. I buy meat when it’s reduced for quick sale and package it up for the freezer when we get home.

One thing that took me a long time to understand was just because it’s a really good deal, doesn’t mean you should buy it. Do my kids need every single little people play set just because I can get them for $5 at a consignment store? No.  I am just now getting rid of all the unnecessary toys in my house. It’s hard! I have made lists of what the kids will need, and how many presents they will get for Christmas, and I stick to it. I shop the Target toy clearance, usually in August, and in late January/early Feb.  I buy clothes a season ahead of time when stores are starting to clear out merchandise for the next season.

Since we have become a one income family my priorities have really changed a lot. No more fancy coffees for me.  If I don’t need new clothes I don’t buy them.  We cut down our cable bill by getting rid of the extra add on package we don’t need.  We switched to a pay as you go cell phone, since we don’t really use it on a regular basis. This has allowed me to use the extra cash on more important things such as: Preschool for my son, Tee Ball, and our family vacations.

Living on a limited income has been a challenge, but I’ve managed to control my spending, and budget the important things in with a little work.  Anyone can do it, it’s hard to get started but I think it’s important.
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About the Blogger:

I’m Renea P. I’m a stay at home mommy to a one year old girl and three year old boy. I love spending time with my family, couponing, crafting, and doing fun activities with my kids.