Friday, November 11, 2016

Take-Off in Santa's Sleigh at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Virginia

Do you take your children to see Santa for an annual photo opportunity?  We always do!  We head to the mall in anticipation of Santa, but wind up turning into grinches while waiting in line for hours.

Fair Oaks Mall has put an incredible effort into keeping you and your children from turning into the holiday Grinch by providing an interactive experience. The line is no exception.  By enrolling in Santa's Flight Academy, your whole family can stay engaged for part of the wait to sit on Santa's lap.

Using a little imagination, your children have the opportunity to team-up with one of three elves to help prepare Santa's sleigh for Christmas. Children can choose to partner with George, the Sleigh Mechanic; Sparkle, the Flight Director; or Flash, the Reindeer Caretaker.

Upon entering Santa's Flight Academy, each child presents his or her official flight crew badge and their name automatically appears in lights.

From there, Santa's elves are available to help children be fitted for a virtual flight suit, and help inspect and power Santa's sleigh before take-off.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Still Trying to "Size Up" New Preemie Diapers?

Several of you have asked about the size of the new Pampers Swaddlers P-3 diapers. To provide some perspective, the diapers are almost half the size of my iPhone.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Diapers Made to Fit the Smallest #touchesoflove

Before my micro-preemie was allowed to leave the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), we had to learn how to do seemingly simple tasks like change her diaper, feed her, and rotate her from front to back. At first thought, these responsibilities seem easy -- but they're not.

For me, just the thought of moving Emily from her back to tummy was pure torture.  Her one pound eight ounce body was very fragile and embryonic-like.  She had a feeding tube, breathing contraptions, blood pressure cuffs, and other medical equipment connected to her frail body.  I was concerned that a gentle touch could unintentionally cause Emily to experience pain or dislodge a life-saving medical device.  

Changing Emily's diaper wasn't easy either.  For quite some time, the process required two of us -- and it wasn't quick.  It often took 5-10 minutes for us to change Emily's diaper.  We worked with the nurses to make sure that the process was safe and Emily was comfortable.

In the NICU, we used Pampers preemie diapers that looked similar to a tiny panty liner.  Although the diapers were made for preemies, they were still too large for Emily's small frame -- so we made some adjustments. We gently placed the diaper around her potty parts and folded over the top half of the diaper so that it did not cover her entire torso.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fact or Fiction: Once A Preemie, Always A Preemie

Have you ever heard the phrase: "Once a preemie, always a preemie"?  I used to say this statement. I was convinced that it was a true -- but now, I am not so sure.

It has been more than three years since the birth of my daughter, Emily. Although she was born at 28 weeks gestation -- weighing just one pound, eight ounces, I no longer view her as a preemie or micro-preemie. I see her as an amazing little girl, full of love and laughter.

Even though Emily still weighs less than she should (24 pounds on a good day), has behavioral issues to work on (what three year old doesn't?), and a few motor issues -- I feel like we have "moved on" on from being a preemie and preemie parents in some respects.

Don't get me wrong -- I understand the textbook definitions for the words "preemie" and "prematurity."  I know that Emily came early.  And, I recognize that her premature birth changed our lives forever.

I often talk about Emily's early birth and three-month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), but I no longer obsess over it. I have framed pictures around our home of Emily's hospital stay, as well as photos of her hooked to monitors, using a CPAP, kangaroo-ing, and finally coming home -- because that's the beginning of her life story. And, "Bentley's Preemie Blessing" (now dubbed "Emily in the Hospital") is often a must-read at bedtime.

I still freak out when another child coughs on Emily and whip out the hand sanitizer and Lysol spray.  I rush home like a bullet train when we get a call from preschool about an accident on the playground. I panic when I hear phrases like "sweat test" and "lab work" from the GI. I get anxious when we are told to increase high calorie foods and schedule more frequent weight checks. I get nervous about continuous toe-walking. I fret, worry, and pray A LOT -- just like other moms of preemies and non-preemies.

After a 24-month hiatus at home caring for Emily, I returned to work and Emily entered school.  Going back to work was a difficult decision for me, especially from an emotional standpoint, but it is a financial necessity in an expensive metropolitan area like Washington, DC. I am working full-time and commuting a very long distance -- and Emily is a full-time student.

Although I hate not being able to spend as much time with Emily as I would like, I am enjoying watching her grow into an independent little lady, full of imagination and wonder. She is an artist, a writer learning to scribble her name (the first letter of it -anyway), and a helper -- always eager to feed the dog or throw trash into the garbage.  Emily counts, sings songs, and talks up a storm -- just like a typical three-year-old.

She even talks about her future careers. Some days, Emily plans to be "dog doctor."  Other days, she wants to be a snow plow driver. She has even talked about becoming a nurse. If Emily decides that a career in nursing is her path forward, I wonder if she will take care of babies in the NICU.

I am not trying to stir up controversy or advocate for Emily to be called an "ex preemie" or a "former preemie."  I know that she is a preemie based on birth, but I believe that a transformation is taking place -- and we are entering a new phase of life. She's growing up.

Hello, out there. I have an incredible three-year old girl!

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