Mighty Mouse

KaitlynAge: 11 months
Weight at Birth: 1 lb 1 oz
Weeks Gestation: 26
Time spent in the NICU: 91 days

My Preemie Power Story:

On November 11, 2012, I gave birth to twin girls, Kaitlyn and Kristen. I was 26 weeks gestation when I had a placental abruption and learned that my daughters had to be delivered immediately via c-section. I had no idea what the future held or what the fate of my two daughters would be. When I awoke from surgery my husband told me that he saw the babies as they were brought up to the NICU. He told me they were both really small, but they were both moving and we had to have hope.

Kaitlyn (Baby A) weighed 1lb 1 oz, 12.5 inches and Kristen (Baby B) weighed 1lb 14oz, 13 inches. Both girls were immediately placed on ventilators and we learned that while both girls were in extremely critical condition, Kristen was suffering from pulmonary hypertension and every minute would count. [Read more…]

The Tank

JaydenAge: 3 years
Weight at Birth: 3lb 6oz
Weeks Gestation: 32 weeks 6 days
Time spent in the NICU: 25 days

My Preemie Power Story:

Our son Jayden was born prematurely when my wife’s umbilical artery flow became diastolic, meaning it was starting and stopping. After our son’s heart rate dropped dangerously low for a few minutes, doctors decided to operate immediately. While we were terrified about his early start, he personifies what a superhero is by all he has already overcome. Jayden spent 25 days in the NICU, learning to breath, feed, and maintain body temperature. Outside of a grade 1 brain bleed that resolved itself, his time spent in the NICU was relatively quiet.

While we weren’t face with tough decisions during his NICU stay, we certainly have faced adversity as he has blossomed into a toddler. By the time he turned two, it became quite evident he wasn’t as far along with speech as he should be. An evaluation confirmed our concerns, and we immediately began Early Intervention services.

Once again, our son has shown us on a daily basis how “Mighty” he is. He still has a way to go in regards to communication, but the progress he has made through EI and more recently his preschool is most promising. His perseverance could give hope to the biggest of doubters.

One thing is for sure: He loves to take risks and seek adventure. I can’t even count the amount of “take my breath away” moments we have had at the playground. He is a thrill junkie without question! Even through the biggest of boo-boos I cannot think of a time he didn’t get over an injury with seconds and go back about his business, as if nothing happened.

That mindset he has earned him the nickname “The Tank.”

Super Hero Characteristics:

Atomic Elbows and Knee’s: Even for a big fella, (I’m 6’6″ and 280 lbs) he has repeatedly brought me to my knees with and elbow or knee to the ribs/face/gut. He is strong beyond his years. To say I’m concerned about his strength three years from now would be an understatement.

Blue Eyes That Could Melt The Coldest Of Hearts: I always told my wife she had the most beautiful blue eyes I’d ever seen. That was, until my son was born. Seriously though, it’s the first thing people notice about him, and they always rave about them.

A Laugh That Lights Up The Darkest Rooms: When Jayden gets giggly, it’s about a wonderful a feeling I have ever experienced in my life. He has been known to get an entire room laughing with him. Seeing that joy in his face is the best part of being a parent.

Zero to Three

Jada, Photo Courtesy Alter Family

Photo credit: Alter Family

Hand to Hold recommends the resources created by Zero to Three, a national nonprofit organization that informs, trains and supports professionals, policymakers and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers. Founded in 1977 by top experts in child development, their mission is to ensure that all infants and babies have a strong start in life.  They do this by providing the knowledge and tools to parents, health care professional and lawmakers needed to support early development.

Since their start, this organization has evolved into one that plays a critical leadership role in promoting understanding around key issues affecting young children and their families.  These issues include childcare, infant mental health, early language and literacy development, early intervention and the impact of culture on early childhood development.

Zero to Three promotes a multidisciplinary approach to child development. Their emphasis is on bringing together the perspectives of many fields and specialists and then rooting those perspectives in robust research.  These studies show that all domains of development—social, emotional, intellectual, language and physical—are interdependent and work together to promote a child’s overall health and well-being in the context of his family and culture.

All of their work is:

  • Grounded in research and experience
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Collaborative
  • Accessible
  • Culturally responsive
  • Clinically informed

Zero to ThreeZero to Three offers a wide variety of resources, from an online bookstore and catalog to online references.  Their popular 12-series podcast, Little Kids, Big Questions,  addresses some of the most common (and challenging) issues facing parents of babies and toddlers, such as: helping a baby learn to sleep through the night, dealing with a picky eater, and learning to set limits on children’s behavior.

Their resources are organized by topic, including:

  • behavior and development, which covers topics such as play, brain development, early language, school readiness, grandparents, mental health assessment and treatment, sleep, temperament and more.
  • maltreatment, which describes the impact of trauma and ways to keep children safe.
  • early care and education, which details how to find quality care from a child care center or other caring adults. This section also offers a free web-based, interactive learning tool designed to help parents and caregivers support their young children’s early learning. Age-based information covers the four key skills—language and literacy skills, thinking skills, self-confidence and self-control that are helpful for school success.
  • public policy, shows a variety of ways to advocate on behalf of initiatives supporting the care, development and education of young children.

Here’s an alternate link to the video about Zero to Three.

Connect with  Zero to Three online or through their Facebook page to stay informed about the many helpful resources and initiatives they are working on to benefit our nation’s youngest children.

Overcoming Dyslexia

by Kasie Thibodaux, educator and aunt to two preemies

Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally ShaywitzAs an educator, I look on with a cautious eye as my students mix up their bs and ds and write numbers backwards. When I see a student write his name right to left in perfect mirror image, I want to run to my computer and send a HELP ME email to the campus Dyslexia Specialist. This summer I decided to learn more about dyslexia. Imagine my surprise when reading, “Reversals are irrelevant to the diagnosis of dyslexia,” in the book Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D. Reading this book opened my eyes to what dyslexia really is, and how early intervention is key to creating successful, motivated and confident readers.

Eye-opening points from Dr. Shaywitz:

  • Dyslexia affects one out of every five children worldwide, it spans across cultures, races and social demographics.
  • The root of dyslexia is a weakness in the phonologic system (using sounds to form and break apart words) rather than a lack of intelligence or visual impairment. [Read more…]

Sarh Bear

NICU Reunion, Family Celebration, Hand to Hold Birthday, Photo Contest

Sara S. ~ Super Hero Alias: Sarh Bear

Current Age: 3 years old
Weight at Birth: 3 pounds
Weeks Gestation: 31 and 6/7 weeks
Time in the NICU: 35 days

Diagnosis, complications, surgeries?
Inguinal hernia surgery at about 3 months

Why should your child be recognized as “Preemie of the Year”?
Sara has overcome such a rough start in life. She was born early due to my having severe pre-eclampsia. She was lucky in that the steroid shots I was given worked on her tiny little lungs. She came out only needing room air for about 24 hours, then no breathing support after that. She did have complications in “catching up” and learning to be a “normal” kid. With the help of wonderful therapists and hard work on her part, she has overcome her slow and early start in life and is a happy, healthy, and typical 3 year old. [Read more…]