January 29, 2012


In November, I started running again.  You may remember this post when I was feeling a little overwhelmed with life and this post that followed where I exercised for the first time in…. way too long.  Since then, I’ve been casually running.  You see, I’m not really a runner.  I was technically a member of the cross country team in high school, but only because it was one athletic team that wouldn’t cut anyone and it seemed like a good idea to have some kind of sport on my college applications.  I came in dead last every race (but I finished!).  During and after college I’ve had a chronic on again off again relationship with running.  I truly honestly do not like it. There, I said it.  But I love how I feel after a run.  I love knowing that it’s good for my body (and I am still toting around a lot of NICU weight from eating out three meals a day or enjoying homemade casseroles and desserts aplenty for three months).  I love competing against only myself and trying to whittle the minutes down from my last run.  I’ve run a few 5Ks here and there in the past ten years, but I still would never ever consider myself to be “a runner.” 

Regardless, in November, I started running again.  A few weeks into it, my CDH mom friend, Sarah, who bullied me into exercising again in the first place suggested that we run the Cooper River Bridge Run together in Charleston this spring.  I look up the date for the race and low and behold, it’s March 31.  March 31 will be the one year anniversary of Clara’s repair surgery.  It’s also, ironically enough, CDH Awareness Day.  Well, that did it.   No looking back now. 

So, despite two bum knees, a rather inflexible nap and feeding schedule, and a deep hatred of all things running, I’m doing it again.  Another CDH Mom friend (not Sarah, who I’m hoping to do this race with) found running again herself after her daughter survived CDH.  Her daughter, Finley has been her inspiration to run and she has become quite the real runner (she blogs about her running adventures here.)  She’s even organized a race in honor of her daughter and to help raise CDH Awareness and funds for any of you who may be on the West Coast.   She’s been a big inspiration, too! 

I’ve got two more months until the bridge run.  I’ve never run a 10K (it’s six point two miles!), and I may not be able to run all of this one either.  It’s okay if I have to stop and walk a little; my goal is honestly just to finish.  I want to run this race for me and I want to run this race for Clara.  It seems like an appropriate way to honor the year of her life that she’s fought so hard for everything.  I may not be a natural runner, but when I feel like I can’t catch my breath, I just think of Clara on ECMO or on a ventilator, learning how to breathe with only one good lung and know that if she did it, I can too.  When my legs hurt and my knees ache, I remember what it was like for her to be swollen to twice her size and how painful it must have been for her tiny little limbs.  When I feel tired and exhausted and sore all over, I think about the days she pushed through morphine withdrawal and how difficult that drug detox must have been for a little infant.  She never gave up, so I don’t feel like I can either. 

She’s my biggest inspiration, but I couldn’t do it without the accountability of my friend Sarah who won’t put up with my excuses on days I don’t feel like it and applauds my efforts even when it’s a “slow” day.  I couldn’t do it without my Bob Stroller that allows me the perfect view of Clara while I plod through the hills.  I couldn’t do it without my iPod and some good tunes blasting in my ears (if the iPod battery is dead, and I have to resort to the Beyonce channel of Pandora radio on my phone, I have to watch out for Survivor*.  It’s really hard to run and sob at the same time.)  I couldn’t do it without the awesome trail at Tanglewood Park that allows me to run on pavement, but not near cars.  I couldn’t do it without this marvelously mild January weather we’ve been having that feels like springtime.  And I couldn’t do it without the most supportive husband and puppy a girl could ask for.  Two months to go.  And once you announce something on the internet, it’s kind of like signing a contract, right?  Now you know.  March 31, I’ll be slowly, very very slowly, jogging over the Cooper River Bridge.  All for you, Clara. 

*Survivor Lyrics that made me sob while running:

“I'm a survivor
I'm not goin' give up
I'm not goin' stop
I'm goin' work harder

I'm a survivor
I'm goin' make it
I will survive
Keep on survivin'

Thought I couldn't breathe without you
I'm inhaling
You thought I couldn't see without you
Perfect vision

You thought I couldn't last without you
But I'm lastin'
You thought that I would die without you
But I'm livin'

Thought that I would fail without you
But I'm on top
Thought it would be over by now
But it won't stop

Thought that I would self destruct
But I'm still here
Even in my years to come
I'm still goin' be here”

About to set off on a jog....

You see that up ahead?  That's the most supportive husband and puppy in the world.  Robert hates running even more than I do, but on the weekends he joins me.  Rufus?  Well, he's pretty glad to be getting a chance to run a couple miles most days....

And Clara, a couple months back, all buckled in for one of our jogs.

January 27, 2012

Wonderful Weekend

Last weekend we headed down to Georgia for a belated Christmas visit.  Our original plans to visit the weekend before Christmas were put on hold since some folks were sick.  But the wait was worth it.  We had such a wonderful time sharing Clara with Mama K, Daddy Bob and her great-grandparents Mema and Papa.  I can't express what joy it brought me to watch her get loved and doted on and to see her reciprocate with obvious adoration and affection for these four folks.  There aren't many great-grandparents, well in their 80s, who will get down on the floor and play with a great granddaughter like this.  I've always said how fortunate Robert is to have grown up with these remarkable people.  My heart is so full to watch them share in Clara's life, too.  It is a blessing indeed.  And so I took 306 pictures.  Don't worry, I won't make you look at them all.  But I did have a hard time whittling it down.  So, settle on in....here they are!

That outfit says, "I love going to Grandma's."  I think she does...

Papa got accused of being a "baby hog," but this girl sure did love being in his arms...

Here's Clara practicing her hands-free standing with Papa:

 Mama K's magazines were the best for tearing up....

Clara loved this little Clara-sized rocking chair.
 Rocking her blabla doll, sometimes by the pigtail.

Lots of snuggles...

And lots of reading..

And these amazing great grandparents weren't afraid to get down on the floor to try out Clara's music table...

Mama K snuck in some snuggles of her own...


Till next time, Elberton family.  We love you and are thankful for you.

January 25, 2012

10 Months Old

Clara baby is ten months old!  She was ten months old on Monday, but this mama hasn’t had a free second to blog about it because let me tell you a little something about ten month old Clara:  SHE NEVER STOPS MOVING.  So much has happened in the past month, I can’t even believe it.  She had a huge gross motor surge the week after Christmas which I wrote about here.  She’s a master crawler now and will get anywhere she wants to go.  But her favorite thing to do is pull up and stand and cruise along the furniture.  I’m pretty sure that I’ll be reporting by eleven months that we’ve got a walker.  She’s got incredible control with her body… she will pull up to standing, sit down controlled, crawl, reach out for something while just barely holding on to something with a finger or two and take a few steps (while holding on) and even let go and stand all on her own (the longest we’ve counted is 15 seconds).  She. Is. So. Busy.  She seems to know about technology and cords and shoes… those are always the things she’s crawling after these days.  Oh, and Rufus. Poor Rufus.

Her eating has taken off this month, too.  In fact, I think it’s safe to say that Clara learned how to eat this month.  Now, that doesn’t mean every meal goes beautifully or that we’re getting a ton in her, but by golly, she’s doing it.  For several weeks she was really eating baby cereal very well.  That was great because I was getting about four ounces of breast milk a day in her through the cereal and we stopped (FINALLY) giving her two feedings during the night while she slept. Plus, I could give her all this frozen milk that was just sitting in the freezer doing nothing since she refused to drink it in her bottles, freeing me up to pump a little less.  Then, Clara figured out how to self-feed puffs. Which was also awesome!  But since she’s figured out how to finger feed, that’s all she wants to do.  Spoon feeding has gotten to be quite the challenge again!  She can do it, but she doesn’t want to. (See some personality shining through?  We are going to have our hands FULL with this toddler!)  However, these are fairly typical behaviors for a ten month old…

So typical in fact that when the folks from the infant-toddler program came out and re-assessed Clara on Tuesday morning, they re-assessed Clara for physical, adaptive, cognitive, social, and communication skills.  And Clara was at the ten month level in every area.  No developmental delays.  We had hoped and prayed that we’d be mostly “caught up” by the time she turned one, but this is an incredible accomplishment for our sweet girl.  We’re so proud of her and her hard work, and so deeply thankful to our God of grace and mercy who has blessed us more abundantly than we deserve.  He continually uses Clara to remind us of the power of many prayers.  May He always receive the glory for Clara. 

Our only real remaining issue for Clara is the feeding (and continued vigilance with germs, of course).  Even though she’s doing so much better with her solids, she’s still only taking a bottle while asleep.  We are working hard on getting her to use a sippy cup and an open cup so that she can learn to drink while she’s awake.  Right now, her daily schedule looks something like this…

7:30 – Wake up, get a clean diaper, go flirt with Daddy in bed.
8:00 – Eat cereal (with prevacid, yumm)
8:15 – Play on the floor while Mama pumps. See how much trouble she can get into while I’m tethered.  
9:00 – Morning nap and 1st bottle (in that order.  I rock her to sleep, then she drinks her bottle).  Once the bottle is in her, Mama considers showering (usually doesn’t), folds laundry, reads emails, and scrubs hardened oatmeal off the kitchen floor.
10:30 – Wake up and play!  Chase Rufus. Gnaw on coasters.
11:30 – More solids, cereal and finger food.
12:00 – Chase Rufus.  Play peek-a-boo.  Read books.
1:00 – Afternoon nap and 2nd bottle (again, in that order).  Mama frantically eats lunch, pumps, washes bottles, preps dinner.
2:30 – Wake up.  Sometimes go with Mama and Rufus while they jog at the park.  Or maybe indulge Mama in one of her ridiculous photo shoots.  Chase Rufus.  
4:00 – Time for more solids!  Another bowl of cereal.  Some more finger foods. A big fat mess. (Don’t worry, Rufus helps clean it up)
5:00 – Third nap.  Mama’s favorite part of the day.  3rd bottle too, if she’ll sleep.  On the days she won’t sleep, I just nurse her.  Thankfully, she’ll do that while awake.
6:00 – Try to distract Mama from cooking dinner.
6:30 – More solids (just finger food this time) while Mama and Daddy eat.
7:00 - Bath, lotions, jammies, snuggles, more stories.
7:30 – Nursing and bed.

So for those playing along at home, that was EIGHT feedings (four solids, four milks) in 12 hours.  I feel like it’s all we do!  But it’s getting more and more fun as she’s learning how to eat a variety of foods. Here are some things we’ve tried the past few weeks (with her favorite ones marked with a *)

black beans
green beans
cottage cheese
*shredded cheese
sweet potato
carrots (those made her throw up)
baby oatmeal, barley, mixed grain cereals
and lots of those squeezy pouches with fruit and veggie combos

So, what else is Clara up to at ten months?  She’s becoming a great problem solver.  She will find a toy if you take it away from her and is constantly figuring out how to get around my living room barricades, meant to contain her.  She smiles big for everyone and doesn’t show any signs of stranger anxiety yet (not that we see many strangers with this house arrest, but….) She claps!  She waves!  We’ve been working on baby sign language some, but so far the only one she’s caught on to is “all done.”  Of course.  From the very first bite, she’s busy signing “all done,” “all done!”   She sleeps eleven to twelve hours through the night very consistently and we are all loving not disturbing her slumber with feeds.  She wakes up happy and will hang out in her crib by herself for a long time if you let her.  She doesn’t like being contained in the exersaucer or bouncer seat or even in the pack n play much anymore.  Too much exploring to do.   She loves to read and when you put a book down will turn and reach for another.  She’s great at turning the pages and loves to feel the textures of touch and feel books.  She loves to play with her big cube and her musical table that she got for Christmas… they both allow her to stand and cruise and also learn lots about cause and effect.  She likes peek-a-boo and patty cake and five little monkeys jumping on the bed, and ride a horsey.  She still loves listening to singing and rhymes and chants.  She loves bouncing on her daddy’s shoulders and getting raspberries blown on her tummy.  She likes wallowing on the floor with her granddaddies.  She likes funny faces and silly sounds. She laughs and smiles and is so so happy, almost all the time.  And she got two teeth this month. 

I’d say it’s been a pretty good month for Clara!  Here she is on her ten month birthday (which we celebrated in Elberton with Mama K and Daddy Bob!)

Have you ever seen such a cute ruffle-butt?

Here's my trick!  Standing with no hands!

I love everything about this scrunched up nose, smiling face.

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