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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

In case you've missed Henry...

... I'm sure he's missed you, too. Here are a few new photos with the hopes that they help you enjoy the holidays just a little bit more. They may not make your yule logs burn any brighter, or your eggnog any tastier, but if they bring a smile to your face ... well, that's the same thrill we get bringing a smile to Henry's face. Enjoy!

Grandma Mary Ann (Nana) caught Henry smiling so widely he closed his eyes, but it's a great toothless smile!


Henry in a more serious and reflective moment, so interested in his surroundings ...


Grandma Mary Ann sitting by the window with a sleepy Henry Jay. He's an equal opportunity chest sleeper -- seriously, does this pose look familiar yet?


A little *smirking* time with Daddy


And finally, on his first Christmas, after we'd opened all the presents and ate all the cookies, Henry caught a little shut eye, burrito style.

Monday, December 24, 2007

If ever there were a year to believe in miracles...

Merry Christmas, dear friends and family. We hope you enjoy a peaceful, relaxing day with your loved ones. And don't forget to give thanks for the miracles in your life. We certainly are.

Love,
Ali, Chris & Henry

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pictures, of course


Sorry we've been so delayed in posting new pictures of Henry Jay, the Chieftain of Chunk, but he's a handful! Henry has been even more smiley, and responding much more to us when we talk to him -- cooing back at us in his own sweet-sounding language. These moments make up for the nightly "Fussy Fussenstein" routine he's gotten into. We're hoping we get much more of the latter and much less of the former as he gets past the newborn stage.


In other news, Henry made a triumphant return to the NICU this week -- two months to the day he was discharged -- to wish a "Merry Christmas" to all those nurses who cared for him during his five-and-a-half week stay there. The joke upon his arrival was, "Who's the baby who ate Henry?" They couldn't believe how big he's gotten!

Henry also had a doctor appointment this week, during which he endured four shots in his increasingly chubby thighs (poor guy!). We also learned that he's up to 13 pounds and 1 ounce now. If I don't start eating more soon, he's going to catch up to my weight by March!

We'll be sure to post again later this week with pictures of Henry's first Christmas. In the meantime, we hope you're all enjoying the holidays.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Henry and his mobile friends


Everyone should have a "happy place" -- a spot you can go to feel instantly calmer and more collected. For me, it's Target; particularly if it's a clean, well-stocked Target during a non-busy time. Something about that cheery, familiar red-and-white bullseye inexplicably puts me in a better mood. (Don't laugh -- I know I'm not the only woman who feels this way about Target.)

Henry's happy place, we have discovered, is in his crib with his mobile. It's your standard-issue, wind-up mobile with brightly colored stuffed animals rotating to a tinny lullaby -- nothing special, really. But to Henry, it is pure magic. (In fact, he just made a mad face at me as I wrote that his beloved mobile was "nothing special.")

A typical scene in our house lately goes like this:

Henry: WAHHHHHHH! WAHHHHHH! MEHHHHH! WAHHHHHHHH!

Ali: Henry, do you need to spend some time with your mobile friends? Should we go see what they're up to?

Henry: WAHHHHHHHH! MEH! WAHHH! WAHHHHHHH!

[Ali lays Henry in crib so the mobile is in view. She winds it up. The animals begin to rotate to the beat of "Cradle Will Rock."]

Henry: [Freezes suddenly at the sight of the animals.] Ooooh! Ahhhhhhh! [Smiles broadly.]

This scene is repeated anytime Henry is really worked up, or when Mommy needs to take a shower or cook over an open flame. We cannot overstate the mobile's dramatic calming effect. If only it worked to lull him to sleep. He'll literally lie there for an hour watching the mobile -- long after it's stopped spinning, even -- but has never once fallen asleep in its presence. We're pretty sure it's because he doesn't want to miss a moment of the fascinating show.

*****

Here are a few more recent pictures of HJ. You'll note that he's started a chin collection, and we've put out an APB for his neck -- it was last seen about a month ago. We're up to 12 pounds, 23 inches now, and are finally on the growth charts for his "actual" age of three months -- around the 25th percentile. If you factor in the prematurity and adjust his age to his due date, he's in the upper 90s for both height and weight. We have a feeling this sweet little baby is going to be a hell of a bruiser some day.

Getting ready for a winter outing.


Smiling at Mommy.


Bath time ... just before the water turned a mysterious brown-green and we had to start all over again. Needless to say, Mommy and Daddy will never again linger over cute bath photos.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Smiley baby!

Well, it's not all fun and games now that Henry is increasingly...er...opinionated, but moments like the following make it all worth it. (Hey, no making fun of my antics -- as long as HJ thinks I'm funny, that's all that matters!) :-)


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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Henry the Marksman

I wanted to relay a funny story from earlier this week. (Don't worry, I've also posted new pictures, too, from Aunt Jessica's visit this weekend.)

Most mornings I get the early shift after Ali has dealt with Henry during the night. After Ali has fed him, changed him and gotten him back to sleep at least twice, she finally cries for mercy and I step in sometime around 5 or 6 a.m. My job is basically just to change him and stave him off from his next feeding so Ali can get a little more shut eye.

Now regarding Henry and diaper changings: As a general rule, Henry does not enjoy having his diaper changed. He usually fusses and often screams throughout the ordeal. This further complicates my attempts at keeping him quiet while Ali is sleeping in the other room, but with practice, my technique is improving. I try to change him as gently and soothingly as possible so as to not really wake him. When this goes according to plan, I can get him changed quickly and then we lay down on the couch for an hour while Mommy sleeps and before I have to get ready for work.

Well, one morning this week I whisked him out of the bedroom for his changing and brought him into the nursery. So, I'm half asleep, the lights are low, and I'm just starting to peel back his diaper when *BAM* -- Henry scores a direct hit to my chest with his little fire hose. I'm soaked, his clothes are now too, and instead of just a quick diaper change in low light, he now requires a complete body wipe down and outfit switch with the lights on. Needless to say, he enjoyed none of this -- but I take solace in the fact that he's obviously an expert marksman.

And now, some pictures:



Hmm, kind of reminds us of how Henry spent last weekend...


And here's that smile we've been telling you about. Video to come soon.


And check out the cheeks. We think he must be storing up for winter.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Late November

So, what's new? Henry has been smiling more and starting to coo! It's so much fun to watch him become increasingly more interested in the world around him.

He still hates to be put down, though...so I spend a lot of days like this:

My sister Libby got Henry a new T-shirt. File this under "things he'll kill us for when he's a teenager," but darn if it isn't the truth about every 10 minutes. Let's just say the kid's digestive system is...active.


HJ is generally a pretty mellow baby, but he does seem to have a fussing session every evening around 9 p.m. Here's Daddy trying out an alternative hold, which actually worked for a little while.


And, a couple close-ups. We still haven't caught his elusive grin on camera, but you can be sure we'll post it here the second we do!


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pictures, pictures, pictures!

These photos from the past few days show just how animated Henry has become lately. He actually flashed his first *real* smile on Thursday! Though we haven't been able to coax a repeat performance yet, that two-second, heart-melting, googly-eyed grin was enough to make Mama forget every hardship we endured to get here.

Of course, he still needs his beauty rest. If you've got a warm chest, he's game.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!


Our little Butterball Henry and the rest of us here wanted to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. I know all too well how poignant the holiday is for us this year, and how we have more to be thankful for this year than any one before it. We are, of course, especially proud of and thankful for our little turkey, and we're so happy and grateful for the visiting family we could share this holiday with in our home. We've come a long way since last Thanksgiving -- a fact that was not lost on us amid the feasting and merriment today.


Goodnight, everyone!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Henry in action

Hello, Henry fans. It's a lazy Saturday here at Henry HQ. I've temporarily solved the problem of Henry not wanting to be put down by strapping him to my chest (thank you, Baby Bjorn), and now have approximately half an hour of blogging time before Chubby Cheeker will be clamoring for his next meal.

What's new with Henry? It's amazing how quickly he's changing -- he literally looks different from one day to the next. The two most notable things are 1) his increasing chubbiness, particularly in the cheeks and thighs (I guess that's what happens when you eat every two hours around the clock), and 2) his increasing alertness and eye contact. You can see both qualities in the following video. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hello, everybody


Hi, everybody!! Henry wanted to wave hello. You'll have to forgive him for not looking into the camera -- he doesn't take artistic direction very well yet.

We were at the doctor's office today and the latest news is 8 pounds, 15 ounces -- as in, the weight our chunky little Henry is up to as of this morning. Based on that, as of this writing, there's a good chance he's already over 9 pounds. The kid loves to eat! That's good for him, but slightly less enjoyable for his meal ticket -- poor momma, as his feedings usually occur every couple of hours.

As you can see in this next picture, most of the weight seems to be collecting in his cheeks. He can barely contain them within his own hands!


(And in case you thought it was some sort of propaganda, Ali swears Henry actually picked out the "I love mommy" hoodie all by himself.)

So, anyone care to make a guess as to when Henry's weight will equal his birth date of 9/11? I'm going to go with sometime tomorrow morning, maybe 10-ish.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Henry is two days old! (Sort of.)

Friday, if you can believe it, was Henry's original due date. To celebrate this milestone, I wanted to look back at Henry's journey thus far. This little guy has been through more in these two months, medically speaking, than many of us will go through in our lifetimes. As we settle into normal life at home, we think about the NICU experience less and less. But it's worth remembering what a fighter Henry was throughout his ordeal there.

Week one: Born on Sept. 11 at 5:01 p.m., at 31 weeks and 4 days gestation, Henry Jay came out crying and breathing on his own. Later that night he was given supplemental oxygen through tubes in his nose, but thankfully never needed to be on a respirator. During that first week he received medication for a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), which caused him to retain nearly half a pound of fluid and in turn threw off his electrolytes and kept him from eating for several days. He also spent a day under the blue lights getting rid of some jaundice. This was by far the most intense and stressful time for us. By the end of that first week, once the PDA was successfully resolved, he was allowed to take small amounts of breast milk through a tube in his mouth and things began looking up.

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Week two: Henry came off the nasal oxygen, only to quickly demonstrate he wasn't quite ready to go it alone. (This was the point at which we started calling the NICU a roller coaster.) But back on the extra oxygen, Henry began to progress in other areas. He dropped the fluid and began to gain real weight. He tolerated his tube feedings well -- starting with just 5 milliliters -- and each day the doctors increased the amount he could eat by a tiny bit. Once he made it to full feeds (35 milliliters at a time -- equal to a few tablespoons) he was able to lose the IV in his arm that had been delivering additional nutrition. This was a wonderful development, because Henry had a habit of pulling the IV out of his arm on a daily basis and therefore had to have it reinserted every day. (An IV inserted into his tiny little baby veins each day?!! Ouch!) By the end of the week, he graduated to the less intensive Nursery 7.

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Week three: Henry proved he was finally strong enough to breathe all by himself and the nasal oxygen was removed for good. He also gained the strength to regulate his own body temperature, and subsequently was moved out of his incubator and into an open-air crib. Most important, he began his first forays into nursing and bottle-feeding. And we got to give him a bath for the first time! Is there a better smell than a clean baby?

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Weeks four, five and five and a half: Henry continued to progress with his feedings -- consistently eating more than 65 milliliters every meal, every three hours -- so he was granted freedom from the feeding tube during the middle of the fourth week. We finally got to see his lovely little face unencumbered by tape and tubes! Wih his breathing, eating and temperature maintenance under control, only one task remained: getting past those darn bradycardia episodes (bradys) where his heart rate would drop briefly and inexplicably. While we were waiting it out, Henry moved out of the NICU and up to the 15th-floor step-down nursery. Meanwhile, he started completing the little tasks required for discharge, like the one-hour car seat test. He also participated in the great baby parade when the hospital moved all of its patients (newborns and laboring women alike) to its fancy new digs one block down the street.

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And finally, after five weeks and five days in the hospital, Henry was discharged after successfully going five days without any bradys or oxygen desaturations. Hallelujah! We spent his first night with him off monitors in a gorgeous corner room on the 10th floor of the new hospital with a view of lake Michigan and a gorgeous sunrise (we're getting used to watching sunrises with Henry Jay). Then, it was finally time to take him outside for his first time, put him in our car, drive home and introduce him to his real nursery.

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That's the long version of how this sweet and healthy little boy got from Mommy's tummy to home. At a time when he should have been enjoying his last days in the ultimate stress-free place, he was instead getting a crash course on life outside the womb -- while his parents learned all sorts of new vocabulary words they never wanted to know.

But if there's one thing we've learned about life with Henry, it's that he's a tough and adaptable little guy. And we couldn't be more proud of him.

We leave you with a few cute moments from the last week. Enjoy!

A more successful tummy-time session...

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Studying his mobile, a.k.a., Mommy's bathroom break.


And he's still obsessed with clawing his face. Henry, your face is not a bowling ball!