Last Week Was Hard

The days and nights from the evening of the 6th until bedtime on Eva’s Birthday (11th) found my brian working overtime processing the events of three years ago.  I thought that it would get better with each successive year and it did but it was still hard.

The dates and times of the labour of Eva 3 years ago were still at the forefront of my mind all week.

In the quiet moments I reflected on what stage of labour I was in, who had visited me, which room I was in.  I reflected on the fact that I was so nervous about the baby’s survival that I didn’t want to name her Eva in case my favourite name was given to a child who didn’t make it.

I hope that next year I can enjoy more of her birthday joy instead of feeling anxious the whole day about how awful her birth day was for me. And guilty for what a hard journey she endured for being born so early.

I have learnt from my counselling that although I am grateful for the good outcome from the birth of Eva I can allow myself to be disappointed and saddened by her entry into the world.

I was blessed to have a very supportive husband who understood my anxiety and helped out in lots of ways including lots of hugs for me and being the fun parent for Eva.  Our plan is for Andrew to always be at home for the children’s birthday to make it a special day for them.  I look forward to spending that day with joy in my heart next year.

Being the parent of a premature baby doesn’t end at the discharge from hospital or the achievement of developmental goals it is always going to be part of my mothering.

There’s so much to look forward to in parenting Eva this coming year that I know that her next birthday will bring me more joy.

Eva’s Third Year in Pictures

We have breathed a sigh of relief as Eva has made it to 3!  Some days this year have been challenging and some have been magical. It goes with the toddlerhood territory.

From a cute toddler to a little girl, this year has seen so many changes. Of course to us the changes are fluid as we see them every day.  It’s not until we take time to stop and reflect to see how much she is learning and embracing new concepts all the time.

Eva has graciously (mostly) welcomed her baby brother into the family although it has been hard for her to have less dedicated attention.  Overall she does enjoy showering him with love although jealousy does rear it’s ugly head some days.

Eva’s language and comprehension is where the most obvious changes have occurred.  From having a list of 20 words at her second birthday and us willing her to talk.  To now, where there is no silence during her waking hours only constant chattering!

The air is constantly full of questions these days.  She is unsatisfied that we don’t know what the man is doing in his front yard/why the car is parked there etc.  Shouldn’t we know everything?

Her memory is scary.  How does she know that that is the shop that we bought a ball at months ago and haven’t driven past since??  Nothing escapes her it seems.

Eva still loves to climb, explore and of course riding a tricycle is her favourite new skill in recent months.  The tricycle was a skill that crept up on us seeing as we don’t have one at home. Just something she picked up from various other play spaces and then suddenly she could do it.

This year we have discovered that Eva has several food sensitivities that affect her behaviour, digestive system and skin.  The change in her has been amazing and it has meant that we like being with her all the time when her behaviour is under control.  The good news is that she will most likely grow out of them.

Speaking of growing this year hasn’t seen her do much of that!  Eva is growing in height but as always her weight is lingering behind.  It’s not from a lack of trying to feed her or from a lack of eating.  She’s just tall and thin!

Watching her play develop to include other children and imaginary play has been fascinating. I love that she can now tell me stories and can join in with other people’s games.

We have enjoyed watching her fine motor skills improve with a range of art now adorning our walls.  Stickers and markers are favourite art tools although with an easel now in residence and warmer weather I’m sure that paint will become even more popular.

Since Hugo’s arrival Eva has had an increased awareness of her hospitalisation.  She looks through the photo album of Eva’s Story (her 105 days in hospital) and watches videos of herself.  She pauses at the canvas in our hallway of her on Day 2.  All this leads to talking about various attachments that she had.  I am fascinated to know how much subconscious memory she has of this traumatic time in her life.

Lately Eva has been saying her own “Dear God” prayer after we say one as she is going to bed.  It really touches our hearts now that she can verbalise her thanks for the little things that we do on a day to day basis.  Sometimes to us it was an insignificant part of the day but it’s that moment which she remembers to thank God for.

Above all we are just so proud of our little girl who keeps us on our toes and loves life.  God has blessed us with a beautiful daughter.

11/11/11 – Eva’s Third Birthday

Well it’s 11.11pm on the 11/11/11 and we’ve spent the day celebrating our gorgeous Eva turning three years old.

What a special age this is with excitement of today and the joy of her knowing that it is a special day just for her.

We had a wonderful day with Daddy home from work and family coming to celebrate our beautiful Eva.

In Her Big Girl Bed

Eva is so excited to show you her big girl bed

Waiting for us in the morning

The transition of Eva from her cot to a bed took place last weekend with much excitement from Eva and a little trepidation from her mama.  All worries were unfounded as she has happily stayed put in her bed for all her day and night sleeps so far.

I am glad that we waited until now, it has been just magical timing.  We were fortunate that Eva never tried to climb out of her cot (she wore a sleeping bag tied closed) and as Hugo was sleeping in our room, we had the luxury of waiting.  I very much wanted to keep her sleeping settled as we welcomed a new baby and that paid off.

We have a clear day sleep and bedtime routine which we very, very rarely deviate from. Simply because that is what works for us. Thus the routine has only changed slightly and it’s all very familiar.

We also had a star chart for staying in her bed to wait for us to come to her.  She has already had a reward from the chart and now it has been put away as her behaviour is so positive.

She looks so grown up now taking up a small space at the top of a big bed. Here is the one of the last sleeps in her cot just so that I can remember a space that she slept in for so long.

Cuddling Sleepy Teddy

Where does all the food go?

Most days Eva eats lots and I am certainly wondering where all the food goes seeing as today’s weigh in didn’t demonstrate that it goes into her fat layer!

Today was our final appointment with Dr Dan the paediatrician who has been seeing Eva as a follow up for her prematurity.

As always Dr Dan was delightful, relaxed and positive.  Of course he noted Eva’s amazing forward steps since his last review in May.  Eva willingly demonstrated her verbal skills including the constant questions.  Like asking what the blood was on the picture of a newborn baby on a poster!

Dr Dan was impressed with her competence with toilet training.  Eva was pleased to be able to tell him that she is a “big girl, in big girl undies”.

The physical examination was positive with only slight concern about marginal scoliosis (sideways curvature of the spine) that will either resolve or become an issue in adolescence. Certainly nothing to worry about now.

As I suspected her weight gain was nothing to celebrate.  I had been concerned about her slow gain even more so when she has had the flu this past week and lived on only the air that she breathed!  Today’s weight was 11.885kg only a 430g increase in 6 months.  Dr Dan wasn’t too concerned.  He thinks that she is just going to remain tall and thin into her teenage years.  I think that she is blessed with her Dad’s metabolism on top of her prematurity.

Overall I tend to be more relaxed about her food intake realising that toddlerhood is busy and exploring is far more important to a small person than eating.  However I have been anxious leading up to this weigh in.  I guess that feeling never goes away!

Of course her height has increased to 92.5cm (up from 88.3cm) so her growing energy is clearly going into making her tall. This puts her near the 50th percentile for height and the 10th percentile for weight making her disproportionate.  This is evident in her clothes where the 18 month clothes fit her except for length!

Dr Dan listened with interest re the food sensitivities that we have discovered and the improvements in her behaviour, digestive system and eczema.  (I really will try to get the post about food up here soon!)  He agreed that trusting our instinct and avoiding foods that cause her trouble is the best.  Also that she will most likely grow out of it if her body mass ever increases!

Dr Dan was thrilled with her overall progress and doesn’t need to see her anymore.  She will attend the growth and development clinic in 18 months time but that’s all.

For the first time ever I saw Eva anxious about visiting the doctor.  Normally she is the best patient.  I’m sure it is related to her recent immunisation at the GP which must have really hurt and is that first that time she can verbalise and recall the event in words.

Dr Dan is also interested in Hugo seeing as he was present at his birth.  Poor Hugo is feeling very rotten today with a flu bug but was a good boy while Eva was having attention lavished on her.

After these appointments Andrew and I are always grateful for where Eva is now considering where she came from.  It’s never hard to recall the feeling of watching over her as her heart rate dropped and to remember that feeling of when I first let myself believe that one day I might take her home with me.  Now she’s just a toddler in full flight enjoying life.

A Big Girl Now

This should have been posted here in August, but better late than never.

With the risk of jinxing it I am going to write about Eva’s toilet training success.  Early in the year I tried a couple of days of nappy free time in an attempt to have Eva out of nappies before the baby’s arrival.   It was some of the most frustrating days of my parenthood and I resigned myself to the fact that she wasn’t ready.

Fast forward to a month ago when we started with Eva’s agreement.  What a difference it has made.

Eva 2 months in a premature size disposable

Hugo spent his first few months in eco disposables while he waited to grow into our bum genius nappies.  When he first started wearing the cloth nappies Eva was a bit put out that he was in her nappies but we had some newer ones that were just for her so it was ok.

June 2011 Eva 2 1/2 years Hugo 3 months

Within a couple of weeks I could see that the volume of nappy washing was significant and the drying turn around time was a bit long in Winter.  Also Eva was able to start telling me when her nappy was dirty.  Previously this hadn’t bothered her.

Eva in a Bum Genius Nappy December 2010 2 years

Nappy change time had increasingly becoming a battle and I think that she realised that Hugo was a baby and sharing her nappies.

One afternoon, at the start of school holidays with no activities planned,  I again casually dropped in the “big girls wear undies” statement as we were putting a wet nappy in the laundry.  Immediately Eva said “Eva wear undies” so I seized the opportunity and put her undies on.

Eva has been sitting on the potty since her arrival home as we practiced a very casualelimination communication.  We didn’t do the watching Eva for cues but more the “pottytunities” straight after waking and before the bath.  This provided us with lots of reading time each day!  Eva was thus familiar with the potty and it’s purpose but as you can see it didn’t really encourage her out of nappies any sooner.

May 2009 Eva 6 months

I knew from my experiment in January that she had a good bladder capacity which meant that I could skip the 15 minute reminder stage and jumped straight to hourly reminders.

The first two days we had a few accidents of course but I could soon see that she could go 2 hours between wees so I had to do less reminding which took the pressure off.  The tricky thing was finding trousers to wear the didn’t fall off of her now that she had no waist to hold them up!  She currently wears a lot of leggings.

Eva did a lot of sitting on the potty in the lounge or her bedroom so that I had somewhere to put Hugo down while with her.  The bathroom isn’t very conducive to that!  As well as timing from the last potty use she sat immediately after meals, ie the potty was next the high chair.  Those first few days I used the television as bribery to keep her still long enough.

Each success was met with much celebration, clapping and a high-five.  Eva of course really enjoyed the fuss being made.  This reward system seemed to really work for her.  The first few days she continued to use her undies for a poo but I did notice that she hid somewhere, which she never did in a nappy.  I was surprised but she didn’t save her poos for her sleep time nappy.

Our first outing was to have Hugo weighed which was an hour round trip in the pram and we managed to go in between wee times.  Although she did want to try the toilet at the Maternal and Child Health Clinic I guess as a novelty.

The next outing, 4 days after starting, was to visit a friend and then to pick Daddy up from work.  We travelled with her potty and I was thrilled when she stayed dry and proudly used the potty at Sally’s house.  I was so excited by this success.

Eva has just continued to progress over the past month.  Soon I found that she was using the potty on her own so I stopped reminding her.  Gradually she has progressed to using the toilet which has a small seat inbuilt.

The first few  attempts at crèche at church ended up with accidents.  I was very proud when 2 weeks after starting she stayed dry at Occasional Care. They have a toddler sized toilet so that was a great treat.

Eva has become more accustomed to toilets when we are out although I have seen her hold on for 3.5 hours when on a playdate despite my encouragement to go.

We have a star chart for poos which has ben an excellent incentive.  Eva gets a gold star for each poo in the potty.  The goal has now progressed to the toilet.  Her first reward after 5 stars was some bubbles.  She was so excited.

I was amazed to see just how she flowed through each stage of the process virtually leading the way herself.  Eva continues to wear nappies for sleep times. Previously her day sleep nappy would be dry whereas it’s often wet now.

Since the first day she has strictly been in undies for awake times.  No nappies for just in case.  We even survived a recent plane journey with dry undies including an exciting trip to the plane toilet.

I am so proud of her and can’t believe that we have reached another major developmental milestone with our little girl who started off in life with a battle to breathe and eat.  We are reminded daily of just how blessed we are!