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Friday, July 31, 2009

Over the river and through the woods...


Overall, I'd have to say that last weekend, Connor's 1st travel experience, was a success!

The ride up was about 5 hours and the ride back took about 4.5 (when there's little to no traffic, it only takes about 3.5)... and the beautiful thing was that Connor slept about 95% of the time.

Connor got to spend some quality time with his Sprik Grandparents, he saw windy South Haven, met Uncle Fred & Aunt Marcia for the first time, Daddy got to hang out with Patrick, and we all celebrated Uncle Jason's & Daddy's birthdays.

My packing prep served us well - everything fit in the car with room to spare for the bit of shopping we did in Holland, and the only thing I really overpacked were Connor's clothes, but you never know how many outfits you're going to need (especially this past week!).

The downside of our travels?
  • We all picked up some kind of stomach bug, but I think we're over it now. (And, we were careful!)
  • Connor found his cranky self somewhere in Indiana or Michigan... and it came home with us. (And no, he's not cutting teeth... just yet.)
The upside?
  • We can do it! (With plenty of advance preparation and planning, of course!)
  • Connor has since decided his bedtime is an hour earlier than before (through no effort of mine)... can't complain about that one!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Say cheese!

Maddy (15 mos.) & Connor (6 mos.) - July 2009

As a Father's Day gift to Grandpa Rogers,
we decided to get pictures taken of his 2 grandkids
while the MacKinlays were in town visiting.

So, we schlepped the two of them to the very fine Target Portrait Studios.

While Connor didn't mind the shrill, in-your-face style of the photographer lady,
Maddy was none too pleased... she has far more discerning tastes.


Target messed up with some of the printing,
so the photographer lady printed us a few extra poses.
Not our first choices, but cute, all the same.

Self-explanatory.

(As seen on Shark Bait.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Sustenance

“We can do
no great things,
only small things
with great love.”

- Mother Teresa

Friday, July 24, 2009

Seriously?

Try.not.to.be.jealous.
Instead, marvel at his mellow-ness.

July 22, 2009

Yep, it was short lived.
He's going through a bit of a phase right now,
and let's just say that not much folding got done that afternoon.

Preemie Pals


Connor's longest-term neighbor in the NICU was his cutie-pie girlfriend, Natalie.

Recently, we were able to get together with her family for dinner... so fun! We really enjoyed comparing NICU/baby notes and talking with another couple who really "get it", as we had virtually the same experience being at the same facility.

It was very interesting to see Connor around another little one his same age... one word - fussy. (We attempted a few photos, but as you can see Connor was in a mood.)

Born just 2 weeks after Connor and 3 ounces heavier, these two kiddos are now within a pound of each other (Connor's the chunk)! Natalie was born 9 weeks early (Connor - 13), and left the NICU after a 2-month stay (Connor - 4-month). You can read more of her journey here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Packing perfection

I'm in the process of readying Connor for his first overnight trip away from home. I'm likely over-packing and over-planning, but it's our first time traveling with a baby, too. And, it's exhausting!

Since we're still traveling with a large stroller, which takes up the majority of our trunk space (and we have an SUV), my method this time is compartmentalizing his stuff, to make it easy to find, and easy to pack the car. So, with various totes (and I won't even say how many, because it's embarrassing!), I've got clothes, feeding supplies, diapering supplies, toys, linens, etc. organized. We'll see how it works when it's actually in play this weekend.

I stumbled across this idea today from Small Notebook, which I've seen somewhere before... but, I think it's genius for longer trips with older babies on up.

By dividing each day's outfit into labeled, ziploc bags, there's no more hunting for socks and underwear in the bottom of the bag... and messing up its previously packed order.

Genius!

(As seen on ohdeedoh.)

Brusha, brusha, brusha...

How adorable is this toothbrush holder from Urban Outfitters??

At only $8 each, I foresee one in Connor's dental care future, plus it doesn't hurt that we're gaga for giraffes around here.

They offer other animal varieties (hippo, zebra, panda, cow, koala, etc.) as well... just as cute!

(As seen on ohdeedoh.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Sustenance

“Experience is what you get
when you don’t get
what you want.”


–Randy Pausch

Friday, July 17, 2009

Must.try.this.

I came across this custom birth announcement poster on Ohdeedoh the other day, and fell head over heels in love.

It's not too cutesy or loud... has just the right amount of presence.

I can't get it out of my mind, and think I'm going to have to attempt my own version for Connor.

I figure I could make it the size and color scheme that would work best in his nursery.

Or, if I'm not feeling so creative, I could just order one from the artist here.

LOVE the inspiration the internet provides!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

7 months old

(Remember, you can clickity-click on any pic to make it larger.)

Today, Connor is 7 months old!

Holy.cow. Where does the time go?!

First things first... his latest stats.
We saw the pediatrician on Tuesday this week...
Weight: 13 lbs, 11 oz
Height: 23.5 in
Head Circ: 42 cm
If you put him at his adjusted age of 4 months, on the growth charts he still is:
Weight: 25th percentile
Height: 5th-10th percentile
Head Circ: 50th percentile
It boggles my mind just how far we've come with him. I can't believe it's only been 3 months since he came home from the hospital. Our NICU experience feels like a lifetime ago, and now we're just 1-month shy of having him home for the same amount of time he was there. WOW.

Connor's had a really good month. Lots of appointments, as usual, but he's (we've) gotten out a bit more for fun, too. His aunt, uncle, and cousin came to visit, and we were busy, busy! He made his first trip downtown, to the aquarium, and to the zoo. He weathered it all pretty well, probably better than his nervous mother, who was more than happy to steer him clear of all the crowds. He's made a couple of stops at Five Guys, and loves it as much as we do - I think he likes the music (btw - so not fair that the Utah Five Guys serves up fry sauce... I end up making my own and suffering the stares of onlookers). We've even been able to take him out shopping a little bit, as his mood and schedule permit.

June 28, 2009

When we're out and about, inevitably someone will stop to ask how old he is. We've always joked that we should just say his adjusted age and move on our merry little way... but, of course, we've always given his actual age, with a quick explanation of his prematurity. Not sure we'll be so honest moving forward...

This past weekend, we visited the Naperville Riverwalk. A sweet grandma and her grandkids stop to inquire about our baby, and we give our brief spiel. Now, I'm all for being friendly and having a nice chit-chat (you know, about the weather), but if you're a stranger, please keep your political soapbox to yourself (even though we might agree).

We didn't even see it coming... not even 2 seconds later, we're knee deep in a quagmire of the topic of abortion... fanatic-style. Huh?!? Not sure how prematurity and abortion are related. Awkward.

Channeling his inner Ed Grimley - July 10, 2009

No, I'm cuter than the monkey! - July 15, 2009

At one point, while he was still in the NICU, I remembered asking whether or not he'd ever cry aloud or coo so we could hear him. He had recently been intubated and we worried that he'd suffered some vocal cord damage. Well, Connor's certainly found his voice this past month! (And his whine, too.) His current happy sound (when he's not squawking), is "ckckee", and he loves to have us mimic him and vice versa. It's not hard to get him to giggle, and he lets out a silly guffaw just as he's falling asleep each night.

LOVES to be tickled! - June 20, 2009

I really want you to take me seriously. Ignore the monkey. - July 15, 2009

Connor's currently taking about 6 bottles per day, of 4-5 ounces of formula, every 3 hours. Which means, he sleeps a good 8-9 hours at night now... YIPPEE! He's wearing size 2 diapers and size 3-6mo clothing (and growing out of everything FAST).

Working out (tummy time) - June 25, 2009

Developmentally, he's right on track with his adjusted age of 4 months, even closer actually to his real age of 7 months. He tracks well with his eyes, follows voices, reaches out for toys, attempts to hold his bottles, can almost handle moving his pacifier in and out of his mouth without assistance, and loves to be sitting up (propped up, of course). Our biggest hurdle right now is getting him to roll over. Once he accomplishes that, we'll be sitting pretty. He'll lay on his side, but that's about as far as he gets.

Sittin' silly - June 22, 2009

He still adores his nightly bathtime ritual by Daddy. (It doesn't go as well when given by Mommy.) Usually, immediately after his bath he's ready for his last bottle and then quickly to bed.

So far, he's been a really easy baby to get to sleep at night. yay!

During the day, not so much - he's a cat-napper, no matter how hard I try to break him. :(

He's such a snuggly little guy... his favorite place to nap is right on top of me. So, we try to get in at least one good nap that way each day.


July 15, 2009

The MRI performed right before Connor left the NICU found that he is missing a structure in his brain called the septum pellucidum. Connor's ophthalmologist requested that he get another MRI to specifically visualize the optic nerve as it enters his brain, to better help him diagnose septo-optic dysplasia (SOD). Typically, a person with SOD also has thyroid issues, but fortunately Connor's thyroid has tested normal several times. The MRI is just another step in ruling out any complications, like SOD.

So, in late June, we took Connor back to Rush Copley for a simple MRI under sedation (since there's no way a baby would hold still otherwise for the test). I had been prepped over the phone for the procedure, and we figured we would be in and out within 4 hours.

Shortly after arrival, we're told that the anesthesiologist will be coming to see us about Connor's intubation and general anesthesia. (WHAT?!?!) From this point forward, things just didn't seem right.

The anesthesiologist was a nice enough guy, until he explained that due to Connor's age and previous conditions, it was very likely that they would be keeping him overnight at the hospital. (This is where I started hyperventilating in my head.) NONE of this was explained to us over the phone, and at that moment, it just seemed wrong.

I kept thinking back to an e-mail I received from my sister's MIL shortly before Connor was released (thank you, Debbie!), in which she encouraged us to be Connor's biggest advocates and to not be afraid to question things medically. When you're face-to-face with someone who knows 1,000x more about a situation than you do, it's so easy and natural to trust everything they say and to take their recommendations as gospel.

We politely requested some time to discuss before they got things rolling. Made quick calls to the ophthalmologist (glad we had his cell #) and the pediatrician. Both concurred we could wait a little while, not have the test done that day, and reevaluate/reschedule when Connor was a little older. Feeling a little reassured, we gathered up our starving little boy (who had fasted for the past 6 hours) and took him home.

Still a bit unsettled, I called our old friends at the NICU to inquire about their standard procedures for Connor's first MRI. I couldn't recall anything more than sedation being done to him, and thought I would remember signing a consent for general anesthesia that close to his discharge. I was able to speak with one of Connor's primary nurses who was shocked and surprised to hear that such extreme measures were being taken. She got the NICU director involved and he was equally stunned. Wonderful Dr. Ahmed called, reassured us, and advised us to ultimately have the MRI done at Lutheran General instead (even offered to handle getting the orders in). Connor was taken care of by such amazing people his first 4 months of life!

General anesthesia is risky, period. Especially for little ones. Needless to say, my little inquiry got a big ball rolling... calls were made to different department heads, and my understanding is that certain policies are being discussed and changed for the future at that hospital.

As unsettling as it was to leave the hospital without having the MRI done, it was so nice to be told by a trusted nurse and doctor that we did the best thing for Connor in leaving that day.

What do you mean I'm only on 3 meds now?!? - July 9, 2009

That's right! Three meds, people!!!
(And, one of them is his multi-vitamin, so it might not really count.)

After all of the tests this past month, he was able to kick his meds for his cholestasis.

So, that leaves us with his gastric reflux med and his antibiotic (and that multi-vitamin).

In fact, he was able to graduate from seeing his endocrinologist. We really like her, but we're happy because that's one less specialist he'll have to see.

Besides developmental issues due to prematurity, gastric reflux, and possible (though likely improbable) SOD, his only "active" issue has to do with his kidneys. Due to his urinary reflux, any fever above 100F will require an urgent urinalysis at the pediatrician's office. So we have to be hyperaware for the next few months/years of any UTIs brewing. He'll have some tests performed to evaluate the amount of kidney scarring, if any, he's had thus far. Some of his levels are a little elevated, and his nephrologist is unsure if he's actually got some kidney stones (sadly, they run in the family). We're hopeful that the densities in his kidneys are actually just absorbable protein droplets. Time will tell.

Lounging, redneck style - June 30, 2009

Can't stop smiling! - July 10, 2009

Connor LOVES to sit in his Boppy, with ALL of his toys piled on top of him. Well, I prefer to pile them on top of him - this way there's always something within his reach, and it keeps him from whining too quickly. The guaranteed grin on his face as he's letting me "load him up" is priceless - he just lights up! Maybe because he's getting attached to some of his favorite toys? His current list of favorites includes:
Naw... this kid isn't going to be spoiled... not.one.bit.

Worried about something... - June 20, 2009

Dang! Daddy's blind! - July 12, 2009

Brian is fortunate enough to have a job that allows him to work from home or head downtown to the office, depending on the day.

We love the flexibility it offers, plus saving time and money on commuting costs.

It also is a huge blessing, not only in these economic times but in any time, that Brian's lucky enough to really like his job and the company he works for.

Connor and I love seeing him throughout the day when he's on short breaks.
But the weekends are even more fun...

Can't get enough tummy time! - July 10, 2009

This month, we hope he'll be making it out to church (fingers-crossed... still working on his daily reflux/projectile vomiting which usually happens right around noon), reuniting with one of his NICU girlfriends, and possibly making his first road trip (we'll see).

So far, he only has 3 medical appointments on the calendar (I know, I almost fainted with joy) - some PT, some bloodwork, and the NICU Developmental Clinic - where we hope to wow his old medical team with his great progress these last 3 months.

No pediatrician, no specialists this month. :)

Love that toothless grin! - July 11, 2009

On a final note... I realize that this has turned into a total mom blog ("not that there's anything wrong with that"). I might mix it up a little moving forward and include posts about things other than Connor. (Shorter posts, ones easier to get through than this one!) We'll see what time, and most importantly Connor, permit.

Are we done yet?? - July 16, 2009

All done.

That was A LOT of randomness and probably way too many pictures for everyone but his grandparents. (Thanks for indulging me.)

June 28, 2009

One central theme, though - how much in love we are with this amazing, miraculous, little boy and how lucky we are to be his parents!

{sigh} - July 15, 2009

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

For the locals...

Did you know there are MOUNTAINS in Chicagoland??

Well, it's a grass-covered, 190-foot mountain of old trash...
but in this prairie, it feels like a mountain nonetheless.

On a clear day, you can see all the way to downtown Chicago...
that's over a 30-mile view.

Go check out the Scenic Overlook, at the Greene Valley Forest Preserve.

Do it quick - it's only open on the weekends, May through October, from 11am-6pm.
(Just off 75th Street, south on Greene Road.)

It's a little windy up there,
but there are lots of walking trails and picnic tables... it's pretty cool!

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Chi-city"

My, oh my!

I bet y'all thought we'd dropped off the face of the earth...
well, just about!

Company visiting and busy schedules do that to us these days,
and it takes us a little longer to recuperate.

So....
the MacKinlays came to Chicago last week!


Which is the most activity we've seen around here in a long time,
thanks to busy girl Maddy. :)

We fared pretty well...
all of us exhausted by the end of the stay,
but it was well worth it!

Two little Rogers-side cousins got to meet for the very first time.
There were lots of hug-giving, learning how to be "soft",
and smiles we had never seen before on Connor's face
- he was so in love with his big cousin!


Aunt Kristen & Uncle Dan got to kanoodle with Connor.

Snuggles with Aunt Kristen - July 2, 2009

Brian & Dan caught a Cubs game,
while the girls & the babies had an excursion to the outlets.

We made a trip to the local zoo.
It was just the perfect size for babies and toddlers!

Sleeping through the zoo - July 3, 2009

The Fourth of July was a rainy one,
so we stayed in and ordered some Lou Malnati's. YUM!

We headed downtown the next day.


We took advantage of a BofA promotion,
and got to see parts of the Shedd Aquarium for free.
The limited admission was no big deal,
as it was only about as much as a 15-month- & 6-month-old could handle!

Afterwards we headed to Grant Park for the Taste of Chicago... YUM again!

Nearly as big as the turtle! - July 5, 2009

Notice the outfit change??
Yep, we're still at the aquarium!
Connor just likes to keep his look "fresh",
too bad Daddy couldn't! - July 5, 2009

Pretty girl! - July 5, 2009

The MacKinlays (family of 4 this October)
posing outside the Shedd - July 5, 2009

Funny bunny - July 5, 2009

I thought for sure I had more photos than these on my camera...
they all must be on yours, Kris
(ahem.. where's your post already?!?)

UPDATE: More pics posted here.

So, in conclusion, having the MacKinlays here
was a whirlwind of fun... fun... fun!
Please come again!

Stay tuned for a muy grande post
on Connor's upcoming 7-month birthday,
later this week...
it's gonna be a picturepalooza!
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