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Ashlee is Mama of one darling boy. A 28 week early bird, now 1 and some change, doing beautifully. She lives near Chicago with her sweetheart husband and French Bulldog. She's a thinker not afraid to get her silly on. Babywearer, veggie queen, photography nut. Before the domestic days Ashlee was pursuing a future in developmental psychology but has happily shifted gears in favor of staying at home and couldn't imagine doing anything else. In her free time (ha!) you can find her whipping up babyslings, holding down the fort at Mama Speaks and spotlighting as an Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor.

Mama's Nest

Wordless Wednesday - Best Friends Wednesday, November 29, 2006 |


• 20 Chirping

The Run Down Monday, November 27, 2006 |

Wow, it's been a while. I can't remember the last time I've neglected my blog so much...and all of your's too! We've been - I've been, B-U-S-Y. So here's the run down... The weekend before last Xavier and I went away for my Itsy Bitsy Yoga Facilitator training (a mouthful I know). It was amazing, the getting away and the training itself. No dishes or "have-to's" for 3 whole days, swimming pool, like-minded people, and an endless supply of cucumbers. I learned a ton and can't wait to start teaching.

Wednesday was my birthday and as I mentioned before my darling husband got me a ticket to see Morrissey. Ah, heaven. I wasn't about to let X miss out so we bought him some head phones a 'la Apple Martin and off we went to his first show ever. It was an amazing night... I loved it, Xav loved and everyone loved him. Seriously, the kid had paparazzi. I lost count of how many people with press badges and camera phones asked to take his picture. And while I didn't get close enough to touch Moz, or get his sweat on me (sorry Beth!) I finally got to see him... (and yes, I too preferred The Smiths)

We wound down the week with Xavier's first Thanksgiving (and tofurky tasting) and the first annual putting up of the Christmas tree in the new house and with babe (made all the better when accompanied by the soundtrack of Sufjan Stevens - thanks Steph!). The look on his face when we turned the lights on for the first time was priceless! ...In my spare time (ha!) I've been preparing myself for the big first birthday, Christmas and trying with all my might to get Project X up and running. Wow, so that's where I've been...where I'm going- who knows.


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Thanks Giving Thursday, November 23, 2006 |

It's not about the turkey. Or the football. Or the inevitable argument over dinner. Or keeping the kids away from your creepy Uncle who only comes around once or twice a year. It's not even about the Pilgrims and Indians and that whole debacle - because when you really think about it, that's just all kinds of horrible.

It is however, a day to give thanks. To reflect and be grateful. In the past my thanks has been a bit generic, well meant, but generic nonetheless ("I'm grateful for family and friends, and freedom, blah, blah, blah") This year's different and I have LOTS to be thankful for.

I am thankful for life. And hope. And faith. And answered prayers. And community. And purpose. And most of all life.

I was content a year ago. I had a baby growing in my tummy, a loving husband, a supportive family. We were buying a house and gearing up for the holidays and happily sailing through life. And then that baby growing in my tummy decided it was time to see this big world with his own eyes a bit too soon. For the first time I was faced head on with life - brand new, never took a breath kind of life, and all the glory that brings. At the same time we faced the possibility that this new life, this little human we branded Xavier wouldn't be around very long. That life would become death before we had a chance to process the wonder of it all.

So we did the only thing we could- we hoped, and we prayed and we had no choice but to surrender our faith. Of course we prayed for our child to live, prayers both selfish and optimistic. We prayed that if he didn't live that somehow what little life he'd had was with purpose and left it's mark in this world. And we soon discovered that we weren't alone, that people across the continent, across the world really. Friends of friends of friends and people we didn't know were praying for our boy. For His boy. That households and entire churches had set aside time for little Xavier.

And through it all X fought. Through those first days and weeks and the 11 and 1/4 months that have followed he has taught me more about life and the will to live than I could ever put into words. Seeing someone so small, so fragile, so innocent determined to live against all odds changes the way you look at the world. It brings people together. It changes everything. And for that I am thankful.

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Where'd You Go?! Friday, November 17, 2006 |

Xavier, Jack and I are off at my Itsy Bitsy Yoga Facilitator training ... we'll be home on Monday to tell you all about it! (Yes, Jack is the doll...)

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Wordless Wednesday - On My Way Home at Last Tuesday, November 14, 2006 |

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The Difference a Day Makes... |

Today is National Prematurity Day, you can help by supporting the PREEMIE Act

Each day a baby gets in his mama's womb makes a world of difference... here's an interesting summary of babies medical outlook at different gestations (source: March of Dimes) As a point of reference Xavier was born at 28 weeks, weighing 3 pounds 4 ounces.

What is the outlook for babies born at less than 28 weeks?
Fewer than 1 percent of babies in this country are born this early, but these babies have the most complications. Most of these babies are born at very low birthweight (less than 3 pounds, 4 ounces). Those born at less than 26 weeks are likely to weigh only 1 to 2 pounds. Almost all will require treatment with oxygen, surfactant, and mechanical assistance to help them breathe. These babies are too immature to suck, swallow and breathe at the same time, so they must be fed through a vein (intravenously) until they develop these skills. They often cannot yet cry (or you cannot hear them due to the tube in their throat) and they sleep most of the day. These tiny babies have little muscle tone and most move very little.

Babies born at this time look very different than full-term babies. Their skin is wrinkled and reddish-purple in color, and is so thin that you can see the blood vessels underneath. Their face and body are covered in soft hair called lanugo. Because these babies have not had time to put on fat, they appear very thin. Most likely, their eyes are closed and they have no eyelashes.

These babies are at high risk for one or more of the complications discussed above. However, most babies born after about 26 weeks gestation do survive to one year (about 80 percent at 26 weeks and about 87 percent at 27 weeks), although they may face an extended stay in the NICU. Unfortunately, about 20 to 40 percent of the very lowest birthweight babies develop serious lasting disabilities.

What about babies born at 28 to 31 weeks gestation?
These babies look quite similar to babies born earlier, although they are larger (usually between 2 and 5 pounds) and even more likely to survive (about 90 to 95 percent). Most require treatment with oxygen, surfactant, and mechanical assistance to help them breathe. Some of these babies can be fed breast milk or formula through a tube placed through their nose or mouth into the stomach, although others will need to be fed intravenously.

Some of these babies can cry. They can move more, although their movements may be jerky. A baby born at this time can grasp your finger. These babies can open their eyes and they begin to stay awake and alert for short periods.

Babies born at 28 to 31 weeks are at risk for some of the complications discussed above; however, when complications occur, they may not be as severe. Babies born with very low birthweight remain at risk for serious disabilities.

What about babies born at 32 to 35 weeks gestation?
More than 98 percent of babies born at this time survive. Most weigh between 3 and 7 pounds, and most appear thinner than full-term babies. Some can breathe on their own, and many others just need supplemental oxygen to help them breathe. Some can be breast- or bottle-fed, although babies born at less than 34 weeks or having breathing difficulties will probably need tube-feeding. Babies born after about 34 weeks are unlikely to develop serious disabilities resulting from premature birth, though they may remain at increased risk of subtle learning and behavioral problems.

Are babies born at 36 weeks gestation at risk of medical problems?
Most babies born at this time require little or no special care after birth, and they are nearly as likely as full-term babies to survive. They usually weigh between 4 and 8 pounds, and may still appear thinner than full-term babies. Some will experience mild problems, such as breathing difficulties or jaundice, but most will make a quick recovery. Most of these babies can be breast- or bottle-fed, although some (especially those with mild breathing problems) may need tube-feeding for a brief time. These babies are very unlikely to develop serious disabilities resulting from premature birth.

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Baby 'Roo Sunday, November 12, 2006 |

The day we were able to begin Kangaroo care with Xavier was glorious. After so many days of sitting by his bedside, memorizing features, and holding hands - feeling that perfect baby skin against my own for the first time is something I'll never forget.

side from all of this loveliness, many scientists have shown the following benefits of kangaroo care to parents and preemies-


  • gain weight faster
  • leave the hospital sooner
  • cry less
  • have more stable temperatures
  • are more alert
  • sleep better
  • breathe better
  • have more stable heart rates
  • feel less pain
Parents (especially mothers)
  • are less depressed
  • are more comfortable in the NICU
  • are more confident in caregiving ability
  • have a more positive attitude toward baby
  • perceive baby as less abnormal
  • interact more with baby
  • feel more important
  • bond better
11 months later it's still his favorite place to be...

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Ah, Roma! Saturday, November 11, 2006 |

Last year on this very day, my dear husband and I were returning from our belated honeymoon in Rome. You can enjoy some less tourist-y photo's here.

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Am I Through Being Cool? Friday, November 10, 2006 |

(The fact I'm posting this should answer that for you...)

I used to think I was kind of cool... in that kind of geeky sort of way. But tonight as I was getting ready for bed and looked in the mirror I realized how far downhill things have gone. I was (am) wearing my thrift shop, 70's style running shorts paired with a charity walk sweatshirt. (The sweatshirt is the issue here) A white sweatshirt with pink and blue writing on the front, the logo's for several local businesses on the back. While it serves it's purpose being both warm and comfortable, I realized it's not far removed from the crochet sweaters with the holiday applique's that old women and school teachers break out every winter.

And it's not just the clothing that worries me. When I find myself day dreaming of trading in our Mini Cooper for a minivan it's obvious how much things have changed! Now don't get me wrong I'm definitely not longing to relive my beer drinking, skateboarding, punk show scouting days... I'm over that, but there has to be a middle road!

All joking aside being a mom is by far the coolest thing I've done and it's come really naturally, so I'm completely comfortable with the shift. (Plus Xavier is awesome, I can always claim coolness by association). Next week my babe and I are off to see Morrissey, (thanks honey!) which is just so cool I'm bound to come to terms with the nerd I am.

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So Big Wednesday, November 08, 2006 |

The past few days have been full of all sorts of grown-up-ed-ness. First there was the standing... "I will have no more of this happily sitting business". The holding of hands and strolling is much less wobbly, in fact not wobbly at all- giving way to very certain flat footed stomps. Mr. Non-Mobile has also finely executed the "crawl"... arms up, flat on his belly, and only in reverse but a crawl none-the-less. And from sitting there is the maneuver I like to refer to as "the lean, reach, over one leg, on my belly, stretch and scoot" (really, you have to see it).

And it gets better! As of yesterday we have a perfect wave. The wave in some fashion has been around for a bit, it used to consist of an arm hesitantly outstretched towards the subject of his greeting, but now we have hand motion. And not the opening-closing cuteness some babies rely upon, Xavier has taken to the wrist wagging royal wave which is practiced with great frequency. Our prince has also uttered his first sign-language "sentence" a very proper, "Hello, dog", put together with a wave and pant directed at our dear Oliver. And just this evening after I'd entertained myself blowing raspberries on a chubby nekkid tum he pulled himself to my face and planted a fine wet raspberry on my right cheek, followed of course by a hearty baby laugh and another raspberry on mama's chin.

The jokes abound actually and the boy has an amazing sense of humor... fart sounds and bubbles on the nose never disappoint. Ahh... he's our boy after all.

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Wordless Wednesday - Sleep my little glow worm |

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In our arms for the first time.. Sunday, November 05, 2006 |

Friday December 16, 2005

Current weight: 3 pounds 3 ounces

12:00pm - Off CPAP, on phototherapy to treat jaundice
-held for first time

3:00pm - peed on mom during diaper change
-breathing ok in room air

My baby boy,
They took you off the CPAP machine around noon today to see if you'd be able to breathe on your own. Your breathing is labored, your belly puffs out and your chest retracts with every breath, but you're doing it. They inserted a small tube through your nose, down to your belly to remove air and see they can get your stomach working by giving you a bit of my milk.

You coming off the breathing machine most importantly meant that we were able to hold you for the first time (we weren't supposed to, but your nurse was willing to bend the rules a bit)... and how amazing it was! I won't lie, it wasn't at all how I'd imagined the first time you'd be in my arms - I'd dreamed of a naked wet baby placed on my bare chest within seconds of entering this world and well, you had other plans... so today around noon we get the news that if we want we can hold you for a few minutes. If we want?! Are you kidding? It's your second day here and we haven't even been able to touch you much. Your skin is so thin and sensitive that "normal" touch hurts. I've been firmly holding holding your head and feet in my hands while you lay spread out among the wires and lights but I'm yearning for more. I stand and wait anxiously draped in a fresh yellow gown while Donna, your nurse, unhooks wires and swaddles you tightly in several hospital blankets to help you stay warm. I sit in a rocker next to your bed and she places you slowly in my arms arranging dangling wires as she goes... Tears. I am giddy with joy. Love. I try to blink the tears away so I can see your face. You remain in your deep sleep, but look so content. I suddenly feel the need to introduce myself. "Xavier, it's me... your mommy, I love you so much...." I am amazed at how light you are... I try to distinguish just where you body lies amidst all those blankets, I find your tiny bottom towards the top third of the bundle and cup it in my hand. Your miniature, shoulder peaks out from the blanket still covered in hair, I get lost in the perfection of your face. I know I only have 5 minutes with you so I try my best to stop the clock, to block out all the noise, to set aside my fears and just be. I drink you in with every sense I have. I didn't think it possible to love someone so much.... all too soon my time is up... I reluctantly pass you back to Donna so your Daddy can hold you for a minute. I step back and am amazed at how little you look in his strong arms. Within a couple of minutes Daddy passes you back to Donna so she can unwrap you and place you back on your bed to warm up.

My heart hurts that these are the circumstances... that the first time you are placed in my arms there are gowns and blankets and wires between us. Regardless - I got to hold you!

We can do this my love,

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NICU Developmental Clinic Saturday, November 04, 2006 |

We had to take Xavier back to the NICU for his developmental clinic on Wednesday. Our hospital offers this clinic free for preemies who have "graduated" from the NICU. At certain intervals we bring him back in and he is evaluated by a team of physical therapists and checked out by the neonatologists where they assess everything from his growth to his motor skills.

Going back there is the strangest thing , wrought with conflicting emotions. When X was born the NICU was obviously VERY foreign, so medical and unnatural, but after you are there all day, everyday, for so long - you become strangely comfortable - and it becomes your home away from home. The moment you are discharged you once again become an outsider. The unit is locked so there is no more coming and going, no stepping more than a couple feet inside the door. The enjoyable part of going back is catching up with the nurses who were so instrumental in his care, some of whom we became very close to. This is where he fought to stay on this earth and will always be an huge part of our lives.

...Back to the evaluation... after signing in we settle in for a long wait (it is after all a "clinic"). The small waiting room is filled with families and their babes, some still teeny-tiny, others growing big and strong. For the most part everyone is quiet and keeps to themselves. Eventually we are called in to see the physical therapists. I sit Xav down and they look at how he can sit and stand, ask him to perform a few tasks and ask a load of questions. Until preemies are 2 or 3 years old they essentially have two ages: their chronological age (actual age) and their gestational age (the age they would be had they made it to term). In our case Xavier's chronological age is 10 1/2 months, his gestational age is 7 1/2 months. It is expected that they develop according to gestational age and even this is some times a stretch since so many preemies experience delays.

After finishing up with the PT team we go back and wait until the doctor can see us. We are called back just as X settles in for a nap of course. We undress him and sit him on the scale so he can be weighed and measured (where he starts dancing like crazy!) The doctor soon comes in to look him over, we quickly catch up with one of Xav's associate nurses (each baby is assigned one "primary" nurse and at least one "associate" nurse so that care is as continuous and familiar as possible) and then within moments we're free too go.

So what did we learn? Our little champ is doing great! X is at or above his CHRONOLOGICAL age for language skills. His gross motor skills are at the level of an 8 or 9 month old. Medically he's doing great, no issues to speak of and is above the 95th percentile for growth!

God is good!

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Wordless Wednesday - A Hand To Hold Wednesday, November 01, 2006 |

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National Prematurity Month |

I know it seems our calendars are getting crowded with National "blank" Month (or week, or day)...after hearing that Mayor Daley declared "Diddy Day" I realized we need to draw the line somewhere! But, this one's good I promise...

November is National Prematurity Awareness month, and it only feels natural to devote the bulk of this month's blogging to that cause. Through sharing our story hopefully I can bring some awareness and possibly make a difference somewhere, somehow.

Here are some quick facts for you:
  • Any birth before 37 weeks gestation is considered premature
  • Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death
  • 1 in 8 babies (12%) are born premature (and this number is increasing!)
  • Since 1981, the rate of premature birth has increased 29%, accounting for nearly 500,000 babies last year
  • The cause of 50% of premature births is unknown

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