Saturday, November 1, 2014

Grace's Birth Story

Now that Grace turned one year old I went back and updated her birth story. I had shared a brief description of what happened last November but I am so glad I wrote it all down because there are many details I completely forgot. And I never want to forget as remembering causes me to rejoice in the Lord again and be grateful for His amazing goodness to us. The story is long and I don't share pictures this time but I did include a video of Grace near the end.

I was due December 3, 2013 with a baby girl and was scheduled for my 6th c-section two days before Thanksgiving on November 26th. Initially I wasn’t thrilled to be in the hospital over Thanksgiving but realized that it didn’t matter and I knew my family would be well-cared for. My pregnancy was good even though I was of “advanced maternal age”. I had an ultrasound in Green Bay that summer to make sure that my placenta wasn’t adhering to scar tissue as that could cause a problem but the specialist said everything looked great. Nothing was out of the ordinary. I was big as always and measured 1 week ahead each time. I had Braxton Hicks early on which is normal for me also. By week 30 I wondered how I would make it another 9 weeks I felt so heavy and weighed down.

October 31st I spent getting ready for Katie and Seth’s birthday party the next day. I baked a cake, shopped for needed items with plans to run to the store the next morning to get a cake topper. I was thankful that John was home as the night before he had been in Detroit. That night Simon was sounding like he had a cold and about 1 a.m. or so on November 1st we woke up to that dreaded croup cough. John brought Simon to bed with us as it wasn’t too bad at that point and then we could monitor him. I turned over to give him a hug and at that moment had a Braxton Hicks contraction followed by an intense shooting pain. I turned over to see if it would subside but it only grew worse. I wondered if it could be labor, although last time I labored I had moments of relief and this pain was intensifying. But what else could the pain be? I have also had kidney stones during pregnancy and knew it wasn’t that either.

I got out of bed and walked to the kitchen knowing that moving could help relieve pain. My doctors have always emphasized if I am ever in labor to call and get to the hospital right away. I called the triage nurse who calmly told me to come to the hospital. By this time, only maybe 15 minutes had passed but I knew something was very wrong. I could no longer walk and sat down and called out for John to help me. He woke Noah and explained what was happening and Noah and John managed to get me down the stairs and into the van. Noah recalled knowing I was in a lot of pain and that it had something to do with the baby but he didn't know anything else. He checked on everyone and Katie woke to find out what was happening. Then he didn't want to be alone at 2 a.m. so he woke up Luke and Jonah and eventually the others woke up too. They ended up watching movies until morning when Grandpa came to pick them up.

That was a very long 25 minutes (probably less) to get to the hospital. John was on a mission and was driving fast that I asked him to please slow down as it hurt so much more on those corners. I was in such pain and as I moaned I kept asking Jesus to help me and to keep our baby safe.

At the hospital my Dad met us to pick up Simon who we didn’t want to leave with Noah seeing as he had been croupy. As he opened my door, I saw the look of concern on his face and he later stated that he will never forget the look of pain I had on my face. I slid out and John maneuvered me into a wheel chair and rushed me to labor and delivery. They put the fetal monitors on me somehow but all I really know is that I was in pain unlike anything I had ever experienced and never want to again and kept asking them to “please help me”. I can’t recall all that happened other than getting me ready to have my baby. I remember them yelling, “Get everyone here now!” and meeting the on-call doctor, Dr. Alice Haupt. What providence that she was on-call. She made it seem as if all was well and there was nothing to worry about always reassuring me. And indeed I had no idea what was happening.

I remember waving to John saying I’d see him soon and he had a look of fear on his face. Now, he doesn’t really like any c-section and they do worry him but this was an entirely different situation. He said it was the unknown that worried him.

They brought me to the cold surgical unit and I recalled my past c-sections and knew this was nothing like those. I was shaking uncontrollably and was still in tremendous pain. Dr. Alice was trying to calm me and I recall her telling me I needed to focus for the baby. Apparently I did because someone announced that baby’s heart tones were now stable. There was a whirlwind of activity around me. At one point someone yelled, “Is someone writing down everything we are doing?” People kept entering to assist. I was still shaking like crazy and my pain so great I wanted it over with. Dr. Alice held me to try and keep me calm so the anesthesiologist Dr. Parks could administer the epidural. As soon as the epidural took effect I could relax somewhat as I no longer felt pain. Now I felt as if I could pass out and tried focusing on the ceiling and kept singing to myself. I typically have music playing in the background but there wasn’t time for that. My nurse Mary Kay was wonderful and stayed with me helping me focus by asking me to look into her eyes. She also held up one of my arms as they didn't have time to get the board underneath for it to rest on. They decided not to have John come in and I was fine with that not wanting him to worry further. They threw up the curtain, and next thing I knew baby girl was out. I had a bit of fear as I didn’t hear a big cry like I normally do but instead a small mewing sound like a kitten might make. I could see a crowd around her but she was here and alive and that’s all that mattered to me at that point. I heard someone ask if anyone got the time of birth and another person called out "3:25".

Dr. Parks was on his phone almost constantly trying to get blood for me. He kept asking how long until my blood A+ was ready. I asked him later that week what that meant and he said they test it to see if it is compatible with my own blood which I think he said takes 45 minutes. But he didn’t have time to wait as I needed a blood transfusion. I knew something was wrong as I felt as if I was drifting and going to pass out and then I started to get dry heaves. At one point I vaguely wondered if this might be the end. Dr. Parks started the universal blood and I began to feel relief. I ended up with 3 pints of blood, two universal and the last one was my own type.

Typically during my sections I like to keep distracted from what is happening by talking to everyone around me getting a play-by-play. This was not as easy this time as everyone was really busy working on me and baby girl. Mary Kay asked if she could go with baby and so it was just me but I was more concerned about baby girl so I was fine with that.. The song that was going over and over through my mind was Lord I Need You by Matt Maher. It is a song that had ministered to me numerous times during my pregnancy and did so again this day.

I went to recovery and they assured me they would get me back to my room soon but seeing as I had lost blood they wanted to monitor me. I was feeling good by now and listened as Dr. Parks and one of the nurses went over all the details and documented the time each thing happened.

During all of this John was sitting in my room praying and trying to relax. The nurse came out to tell him he had a baby girl but he had no idea all that had transpired. He stood by while they wheeled baby girl into the nursery and watched as they worked on her and that is when he saw her chest retracting. He had seen that enough times when Luke and Jonah and then Seth had RSV as infants so he knew the seriousness of it. When Dr. Traeger, the pediatrician on call, told John that baby girl needed to be sent to Milwaukee it scared him. He called my parents and my Mom came to the hospital right away and she said when she got there John just sat in the chair with his head between his hands and he couldn’t watch them working on our baby. It was too hard.

I don’t know at what time I found out my uterus ruptured. And when I did find out, it didn’t really register what that meant. I also found out that baby girl, who didn’t have a name yet, needed to go to St. Joseph’s in Milwaukee. That brought back memories of when I had Luke and Jonah as Jonah needed to go down because of a racing heart. But knowing that Jonah was back in a few days I wasn’t too concerned. As family and friends came to visit with tears in their eyes in the days that followed I began to see how close to not being here we were. And if it had taken much longer to get to the hospital, for instance waiting for an ambulance, the outcome would have been different.

The nurses wheeled my whole bed into the nursery where one of them was giving baby girl oxygen. Dr. Traeger, explained that he thought she had asphyxia and needed to be started on a cooling treatment at St. Joes. They knew she had been without oxygen but had no idea how long. Thankfully she never did come out of my uterus as she could have gotten into my abdomen.  I gazed at my beautiful baby girl who reminded me of Simon when he was born and I longed to hold her but then I realized not all was right when I saw her chest retracting. They only allowed me to put my finger in her tiny hand and talk to her. I was blissfully unaware of the trial we were about to face as I tearfully watched my baby being wheeled away. John left shortly after to follow.

I recovered in the hospital without my baby. I thought it would be hard being that I had a constant reminder of the baby bed in my room. But family and friends kept me occupied and the nurses were so wonderful that I was okay. I knew so many people were praying for me and I felt the Lord’s peace so profoundly. John would text me updates from St. Joseph’s and pictures that I enjoyed sharing with all who came to my room.

Two days after baby girl as born, a Sunday morning, John called with news that rocked my world unlike anything I have experienced before. St. Joseph’s was transferring baby girl to Children’s hospital as they had an ECMO machine they could put her on to help her breathe. They had been treating her for asphyxia with the hypothermia treatment to heal her brain but after trying two ventilators she was still not breathing well. This was the last option and Children’s hospital had it. They immediately started the gradual warming in preparation for transfer but things weren't looking good.

At that point the thought came to me that I had not cradled my baby girl in my arms and now I may never hold her on this earth. John came to the hospital and we held each other and cried not knowing what lie ahead. My Dad went down to Children’s along with John and our Pastor came later. When Baby Girl Mason arrived at the hospital the doctor informed John she was in bad shape. My sister came to stay with me and I had many from church stop to hug me, read scripture, and pray with me that day. We were so grateful for all of our prayer warriors for baby girl who would later be known as our "Miracle Baby".

Here is a video I took when Grace was 4 days old. She was hooked up to a ventilator that you can hear "puffing" in the background and if you look closely you can see her chest moving to that sound. It also has John talking with the respiratory therapist as I scan the area looking at all of the machines and medications she was hooked up to. They had the lights on briefly as the therapist had just changed something. Otherwise it was typically dark. If you are unable to view the video here is the link -- http://youtu.be/V53K2l5k3LE


Baby Grace was in the hospital for 18 days. The doctors were amazed at her progress and had expected her to be there much longer. You can read my updates on her hospital stay in the archives during the month of November 2013.


A few things I found out later some of which people have asked about --

* They were able to give me an epidural, because baby’s heart stabilized. I believe there were reasons they preferred me awake but I never did find that out.

* My uterus did not rupture along the horizontal line but they believe it started with the small “j cut” that was done when Jonah was stuck. And then it split vertically on the active portion of the uterus.

* They did not do a hysterectomy as it is better to save the uterus and focus on that rather than more surgery. That was possible because they were able to control my bleeding.

* Mrs. Teske, one of the nurses that came in the next morning, and someone we know from 4H looked at the fetal monitoring strip and she said the hand of God was all over it. You could see Grace's heart rate drop and right before surgery it went up.

* The doctor told me the chances of my uterus rupturing were 1 in 250 after 5 c-sections since chances increase each time.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

11 months

Oh my goodness! We are almost to Grace's 1st birthday and I can't believe it!  I feel as if babyhood is suddenly behind us as Grace turned 11 months. She is so active and trying to be more independent each day. It is getting harder to get a clear picture of her as she wants to move, move, move.

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I am often asked if there are any delays in Grace's development and judging by the fact that she is standing on her own and walking by pushing a toy among so many other milestones I'd say no. I ask her continually to please slow down and be more like her big sister who was content to sit still. However, Grace will not oblige me in that. Her little personality is showing its colors more and more and John thinks she is going to be a little stinker.


She loves to explore and as of the past couple of weeks climb onto little chairs and also climbs stairs. I discovered that feat when I found her half-way up the stairs to the attic. Oh, you can climb now, great! I am lacking in ways to blockade this girl. Our doorways in the living room are so large that gates do not work. I tried chairs on their sides with a pillow to block any openings. Well, she is wise and simply pulls the pillow out and proceeds to crawl through the opening. I wasn't expecting her to figure that out right away!


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Grace is babbling more and more and clearly says in a sweet high pitched voice "DA-ee" of course she is still at the age where it has a variety of meanings but it takes on a more excited tone when she sees John. The most common noise we hear from Grace is her growl. At times it can be really intense and if we try to duplicate it it hurts our throat. Here Tank comes in to try and help her growl. This is nothing compared to her normal growl.




The only thing that she doesn't do often is laugh out loud. The only time she will is if you blow on her belly which "Zippy" enjoys doing. He also loves to give kisses and still likes to "hug her head" as he did right from the start.

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We think her laugh is actually more coming from her nose as she makes this crazy face and blows in and out with her nose. I keep trying to get a video of it as it is so funny but the camera comes up and she stops.

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Grace is wearing size 12 months clothing and is 21 pounds (on a big people scale). 

She is eating most of the same foods we do just ground up. I have never really liked baby food and especially with Grace have skipped over the jarred bland food for the most part except for convenience sake when out and about and then use the pouches. My favorite baby gadget has for years been my baby food mill. Whatever we are eating I grind up and she gobbles up. Of course she does enjoy those freeze-dried yogurt snacks and can handle small pieces of foods quite well.

Grace wants to be everywhere we are and she enjoys hanging out on my back. Here we were headed out on a hike.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

9 months

A much awaited update. I am quite certain Grace is my most photographed child or at least a close second to "George". I didn't get her monthly photo with the chalkboard since it broke but I took some sweet ones outside that really capture her personality. I also do have new family pictures that I will one day add to the header since our current one is so outdated.

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Grace had her first fever which got up to to 102. I am always reluctant to treat a fever so we let it run it's course and Grace was very content to be held and cuddled for two days. It most likely was a sickness as some of the rest of us ended up with the same fever that turned into a cough. Thankfully it ran it's course quickly and Grace did not have that.

She cut more teeth so now has 6 teeth with 4 on the top and two on the bottom. I forget how sharp those tiny teeth can be. Ouch!

No longer content with just Mama's milk. I am always slow at starting solids but Grace is now enjoying puréed foods especially sweet potatoes or zucchini with leeks. It is always nice to have a baby starting solids during the time of fresh garden veggies. I prefer to make my own food which is simple with a handy little baby food mill. I will take whatever fruit or vegetable we are eating with a meal and grind it up. Grace also had her first taste of ice cream from her Grandma while at Dairy Queen. Her siblings were disappointed because their Opa (Great-grandpa) is usually the one to sneak that tasty treat to my babies.

Napping is still sporadic. But then we are busy and on the go so often it is difficult to get into a good routine. And she still wakes once in the night.

Grace is pulling up on everything! Just as she turned 9 months she began letting go for a few seconds while standing.

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This girl puts everything into her mouth. I wonder why some babies do while others don't. Most of ours haven't but she has eagle eyes and finds the smallest fuzz. For the most part she will move it all around in her mouth then work it to the front so we can see it and grab it. Drool is a tell-tale sign she has something in there. I have found lego pieces, a dice and who knows what all else in there. I am so thankful she never swallows!

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Gracie doesn't mind sitting on grass. It's just one more thing to pick and and put in her mouth!

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She is a mama's girl and I love it! She doesn't want me out of her sight for too long. Of course she loves her Daddy too and siblings if she can't have us. This stage is over in a blink of an eye so I'll take her any chance I can get. Grace is the most content when carried. Although her favorite thing to do when I am carrying her is to pull my hair. And it isn't the sweet, let me hold your hair while I sleep kind of thing. It is all out yanking! Here she was using both hands!

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We took some family pictures with John's parents as we haven't for years.


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Enamored with our dog Lincoln

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Our Happy Happy Girl!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

8 Months

8 months!!! How can our precious GEM be 3/4 of the way to 1 year?

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I keep asking her to please slow down as I attempt to savor these moments but she continues to make advancements each day. John is predicting that she will walk earlier than any of our other children. I'd really prefer her to be like her big sister who sat contently playing on a blanket and waited until she was almost 18 months to walk. Not this little girl! She has become quite the explorer not ever wanting to sit still. Silly girl!

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Grace learned to crawl last month but has perfected it over the month to the point where she is moving fast on all fours. I decided that I was going to try training her to stay on a blanket as I did with our first children. Well, that takes more time than I have so at this point I need to just get a gate to restrict her. Grace will spot a guitar or anything else on the other side of the room and make a beeline for it. I always wonder what the point of toys are. It is rare to find her playing with a "real" toy. We are back to trying to keep the floor super clean which is almost impossible with Miss Eagle Eyes.

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And speaking of eyes -- Grace's eyes are changing faster than I recall with any of her siblings. It makes me wonder if they will go brown like Thomas's. Although I am hoping for green like my own. Our hazel-eyed children's eyes didn't turn until much later and I can't remember with my "chocolate-eyed" Thomas. But we definitely know she is not going to have blue eyes like her sister.

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Grace is what some of her siblings call "little tiger" as she has a low growl. This morning when she saw her Daddy she flashed a huge smile and growled at him. For awhile there I was wondering when she would start to make more noises. She does a silent laugh and it looks like a belly laugh but with no sound. That was so strange to me. And usually by now the sounds of "g" or "d" are a commonly heard. But wouldn't you know it just in this past week suddenly Grace has found her voice and sounds are abundant I even heard "da da".

Gracie's favorite toy is my hair. Yikes! This girl is always reaching out to grab it, twirl it, and suck on it. Personally I'd think the flavor not too tasty but apparently that doesn't matter to a baby. Here is our selfie at Bay Beach arm reached up to grab hold of hair.

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Sleep is something that Grace does not do well. It is getting much easier to calm her and get her to sleep than it had been. This month she will relax a bit easier and will fall asleep by rocking and singing her a song or saying "ssshhh....ssshhh....ssshhh". She nestles into some shoulders a little bit better than others but we all take turns. Fuzzy phone picture but you get the idea. I absolutely love watching her cuddle up with her brothers.

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Of course it would be wonderful to sit and rock her all day. I do enjoy strapping Gracie on when I need to get things done and what a sweet view I have. What a little beauty!

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Gracie is still not sleeping through the night which is funny since she did consistently two months ago but that stopped and now she has been waking once usually around 3 or 4 a.m. She is still in our room at night and we toss around having her in her crib in the room she shares but don't want Katie waking up. Grace is in her crib during naps or rather "catnaps". The mattress was not lowered and suddenly we found her kneeling in her crib so John immediately lowered it. Did you think that funny little Miss? :)

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I am still nursing Grace every 3 hours and I suppose time between would increase if I would start feeding her solids. My take on that is the longer I can go without the added job of spooning in food the better. She is thriving and has enough chub that I know she isn't lacking. I did start giving Grace a banana in a mesh feeder and she does enjoy that. I tried putting in a cooked carrot and she wanted nothing to do with that. I then tried dicing it up a bit and putting it in with the banana but she figured out that trick and threw it down. In this picture Gracie also had a bit of pink eye or something like it. It never did get really goopy. Mama's milk in the eye and it cleared up wonderfully and never seemed to bother her.

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And yet another accomplishment this month, she pulls herself up to STANDING!!! What? How can this be?

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Last milestone -- Grace now has 4 teeth! The bottom left was last week. Top right a few days later and the top left today. Can you see where it is swollen? What a sweet happy smile. No, Miss Grace isn't happy all the time although she does put on a good show. But we love our precious Gracie more than words can ever express.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

5 months

Our little GEM  is 17 pounds and is getting more rolls. The kids have fun talking about when Seppy was a baby and we called him the Michilin man. He had rolls unlike any of our other babies. Check him out at 4 months HERE. He got more as time went on.

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After all of the winter months of a screaming baby when traveling in the van thinking Grace didn't like the carseat, we finally found the true problem. Grace was getting too warm and when so covered up would end up completely wet from sweat. I had a cover on the carseat and when she'd start screaming the boys would unzip it. It sure did lock in the heat. That wasn't enough so they took the light blanket off of her. That wasn't enough so they started taking the entire cover off. And then the screaming stopped. The only problem with this is that we have to completely cover her up again to go outside. Being dressed in fleece also doesn't work for her. Too warm. Warm weather please come quickly!

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Grace is sleeping well consistently going down to sleep by 10:30 p.m. and waking around 6 a.m. I feed her and she falls back asleep for another hour or two. Occasionally she will still wake at 4 or 5 a.m. instead. Napping is still not her strong point but it is hard to get a routine of naps when she eats every 3 hours. It will all come together in time.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

4 months

I always have the best intentions but life does not allow me to do "what I want" and for the most part, I am good with that. I started this post when Grace really was 4 months. For awhile I was hung up about not getting an "official" 4 month picture taken but I gave up on that and then I simply got behind.

Here are a few highlights now for my sake. Nothing very

I try to put Grace on her belly to play more often but she isn't thrilled with that idea. Here Pete and Missy try to convince her that it is fun.

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Grace is sleeping 7 hours at night and occasionally takes better naps during the day, as long as she is at home in her own bed. Forget it otherwise. It takes a lot of effort to get her to sleep. Here is Daddy beginning the process.
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I really was hoping she would find her thumb to suck on since those have been my most content babies. She found it once or twice but she didn't keep that up.

Grace does not want to lean back but is always trying to lean forward and can sit for a few moments before loosing her balance. She is jabbering a bit more but we are still waiting for that laugh. Right now she just gives us a wide open mouth silent grin.

Grace startles very easily for instance when we change her diaper opening the crinkly package for the wet wipes makes her jump. And when I took her to ladies retreat with me and my sister would cough Grace would flail her arms and be startled each time.

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This is Zippy's favorite thing to do -- "I want to hug her head!" Which means putting his cheek to Grace's head. He does this countless times in a day.

For anyone who cares about what diapers work best, we have found that Huggies are not worth it and the same thing with LUVS (although they were a bit better). I have had quite a bit of washing out clothes due in part to major leaking. Target brand is by far the best diaper we've ever used.
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Our little girl is getting more filled out each week it seems. The boys weighed her in at 16 lbs. I look back at her one month pictures when she had that newborn loose skin and that clueless look in her eyes and I can't believe how fast the days are flying. I want to relish every single moment but it is so hard when she is not my only responsibility. I am so thankful for the ability to capture moments in time to help bring back memories when they fade with time.





Wednesday, February 26, 2014

3 Month Evaluation and Pictures

We took Grace for her 3 month evaluation at Children's hospital two weeks ago (if you wonder I back-dated this post). What a strange feeling to drive that familiar path again. So many memories come flooding back and looking at Gracie today I can hardly believe all that happened.

I am including 3 month pictures that I didn't have edited when I posted her last update. My Mom bought the bunny in the picture at the hospital this time. We would visit the gift shop on occasion when Grace was there and always were drawn to the super soft fluffy bunny. I wish I would have bought it earlier to take pictures with but now is better than never.

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Our visit was much like an ordinary well-baby visit with maybe a few more observations.

When we arrived Grace was asleep and I knew once she woke she'd be hungry. The doctor said not to worry she was usually able distract baby enough to get the info she needed. Grace woke, stretched and gave the doctor a sweet smile. But as soon as she was put down her screaming began. And each time the doctor picked her up she was content. I wish I would have had chance to feed her before the appointment as she wasn't exactly at her best. But I fed her while we talked and the doctor did get one more smile from her.

I didn't realize it but being that Grace was premature her age is adjusted and she isn't compared with a normal 3 month old. So based on that she is in the 85th percentile for weight, height, and head circumference.
13.5 pounds (7.5 at birth)
23 inches (19 in at birth)

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Grace is developmentally on track as far as the doctor could see at this stage. The only things she observed is that we should work with Grace on being on her belly. She definitely does not enjoy that position but then I didn't think many babies do. The other thing was that when Grace makes a fist to make sure her thumb is out instead of tucked as she does. That will help with grasping. If you look at the previous post where Grace is grasping for her toys she has her thumbs tucked. That is something I never took notice of and it makes me wonder at what age a baby typically un-tucks the thumb.

The highlight of our day was having Dr. Scott paged to come and see Grace. He was the doctor on-call when Grace came to Children's from St. Joseph's the Sunday we will never forget. We are forever grateful that he was there taking care of our precious girl along with all of the wonderful staff we worked with. He said this is his favorite part of the job. Seeing growing and healthy babies.

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Grace starting early with her roundhouse kick. :) 
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