December 21, 2010


As I posted before, Rachel went in to have her kidney follow up last Thursday. It wasn't the visit we hoped for. When Rachel was born, or shortly after, they determined that she had one kidney larger than the other. All of our past visits were to make sure that the kidneys were evening out and returning to "normal." The last visit we had, 6 months ago, we were told there was progress and that her blood work was great. Which lead me to believe that this current follow up would be the last one. Unfortunately, the kidney doc showed us her ultrasound. Her left kidney was doing pretty good. It was growing like she was growing and only had a little big of "light" areas. Light areas mean that there is dense tissue and that keeps the kidney from growing and performing like it should. The right kidney, however, seemed to have not grown at all since 6 months ago and is now the smaller kidney. It was also pretty light which indicated a lot of dense tissue. Not good for a kidney. The doctor explained to us that we just need to keep an eye on them and to watch out for any signs that the kidneys aren't functioning the way they should. He said it's pretty possible that the left kidney will grow larger than normal to make up for the less functioning right kidney.

He also had some blood work done again. We finally got the call about that on Monday. He wants us to get another work up in 2 months. I am not sure why. Even thought he said her blood work concerning her kidneys was fine, he must have saw something that made him worry about something else even though he told me not to get worked up. Her hemoglobin, hematocrit and mean cell volume were higher than they should be. Does anyone have any ideas of what this could indicate? Her lymphocytes were low also but he really didn't seem bothered by that. I didn't think to ask him what his thoughts were at the time he was talking to me. I don't know why. I called him back today and left a message. Hopefully I will hear back from him tomorrow. I hope that this doesn't turn out to be anything big. I just want our girl to be healthy.

December 16, 2010

Waving and Clapping Video

We worked so hard on this! (I'm trying something new with the video so let me know if it doesn't work) Enjoy!

December 15, 2010

Waving and Clapping

Our little Rachel has been a busy bee! Yesterday she waved at me for the first time. Today she was waving all over the place. One hand or two! And, while I was watching her on her monitor in her crib she started to clap. It was really good clapping too. The nice hand smacking sound kind. She did it off and on the rest of the day. We tried to get some video but, true to form, we were too slow getting it out and she decided she had had enough by then. Hopefully tomorrow we will get some!
Two handed happy wave
Speaking of tomorrow, Rachel has a follow-up ultrasound of her kidneys and a meeting with her kidney doctor. They need to make sure her one kidney is going back to a normal size. Last time her blood work was great and her kidney was looking better. I am hoping this will be her last follow up. It would be nice to have that worry off our minds and to cross of one more doctor off the list.
I love this munchkin!
Next week I will be delivering all the donations we received for Rachel and Friends. I am so thankful to all of you who have donated. We have a nice selection of things for both hospital's NICUs and I am sure every baby will receive something nice. And their parents, who are so concerned with caring for their sick babies, will know someone is caring about them during this time of year.

December 14, 2010

Preemie Pants

Stephen and I set out and decorated our tree tonight. Since he'll be leaving right after the new year we didn't go as all out as usual but the house still looks good. While rummaging through the ornaments I came upon a plastic bag with something wrapped in it. I opened it up and found a pair of brown preemie pants by Carter's. Wow. A pair of Rachel's preemie pants. I thought I donated all but one outfit but here are a pair staring me in the face like a Christmas present. This little gift made me cry. Here we are just about to celebrate a new year and memories from two Septembers ago are still popping up in the strangest places. Holding those pants really tugged at my heart and reinforced how lucky we are to have each other. I'm going to keep those pants. I think I'm going to tuck them back inside the Christmas decorations so I can be surprised by them again next year. A sweet little reminder of the delicate boundary between life and loss.

December 11, 2010

Finally Feeling Better

I can't breath through my nose
Sick Little Girl
We are still coughing a bit and Rachel's nose is a running like a stream but I think it's safe to say the sickness is on the way out the door. On our travels home to PA for Thanksgiving, Stephen picked up a cold from my dad and passed it along to Rachel and I. It hit us fully the first day home after visiting Alabama. Saturday Rachel woke up from a nap and she was struggling to breath. She was better after about an hour but I knew this would be something that would happen again at night while she was sleeping and we'd be running around with our heads cut off at 2am trying to get to the ER. So, I went to the ER that afternoon to avoid that scenario. She was diagnosed with croup and given an oral steroid. Even though it wasn't an instant cure, I believe that by getting her that steroid at the first sign of croup kept her from getting really bad. Sunday, sickness hit me hard. I really thought I was getting the flu. Stephen was at work so it was just me (wanting to curl up in a ball on the floor with three layers of clothing on trying to keep warm) and cranky girl, Rachel. We were quite the pair.

Rachel's croup got better but she was sooooo congested that she coughed all night and when her nose was completely blocked she'd cry out for me to help her. Stephen finally took her to the pediatrician begging for help while I went to the doctor the same day and got meds for the sinus infection I had developed. Rachel received Nasonex. A gift from the gods! I never in a million years would have thought of using that for a cold but it helps reduce swelling in the nasal passages and it worked from the moment we used it. Snot came running out and she slept through the night for the first time in a week! The next day she took two 1.5 hour long naps!! She has been sleeping soundly ever since. So, that makes mommy feel better. Sleep is good. :) So after a week of feeling crappy, it's nice to know that feeling healthy again is just around the corner. Well, that is until we go back up north to NY to visit Stephen's family for Christmas.

December 7, 2010

Sweet Home...

Alabama. Yep, we're moving.

That is what all the secrecy has been about. Stephen was given an offer for a job down in Huntsville. He told them he wouldn't make a final decision until I got to see the place. They flew us all down there last week and he told them on Monday that he'd take the job. I can't say moving won't be hard. Which, for me, is funny to say. I've always loved moving and new places and I guess I still do. But, this area will be hard to leave. Don't ask me why Greensboro, NC pulled me in. I don't know why I feel so at ease here, like I was born here. I think it's because from the moment we moved here we've had nothing but good experiences and first experiences. This house will be hard to leave. We had it built. We decorated it and just got a fence put it. I love the woods in the backyard and I love our neighbors. It's just perfect and quiet. This house will always have so much meaning to it. It's our first home. We had many friends over and special times. And of course, we brought Rachel home to this house.

Finding our niche in Huntsville may be harder because of Rachel. I am not looking forward to getting services going and picking out new doctors because I love all of the ones we have here. It's going to be hard to say good-bye to Brenner's. I always feel safe knowing they are only 45 minutes away. Will I trust a new hospital the same? It's weird what preemie/differently abled parents worry about. I'm sure most people who move with typical children are just concerned with the school system. And that is still a concern for us too, but our concerns are different and harder to please.

I also have such good support here. I do not have family here in NC but I've seemed to always have people I can count on and have felt like they are family. Our local Ds group has also been wonderful. Lauri Lyn, I will always be thankful for you. You came into our lives at such a difficult time and you looked me in the eyes and I knew it would be ok. Do not stop doing what you are doing. Meeting with you in the hospital after Rachel's birth and all the info you gave us was heart warming. I have to say the frame was my most treasured gift. It told me that Rachel was worth showing off and it will always hold a picture of her in it.

Anyway, before I get too sappy, we have a couple of months before we actually move. I'm sure by then I'll have cried while talking to everyone I know and you will all be glad to see us go. ;)

p.s. if you are a luker and you live near Huntsville, please drop me an email and give me your take on where we should live.

December 6, 2010

Rachel and Friends

Christmas is only weeks away and Rachel and Friends has received a number of wonderful donations already. They are sure to put smiles on the faces of the parents celebrating the holidays in the NICU. If you would like to make a contribution, please email me at for our mailing address. Thank you!

December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving Whirl-Wind

We went up to PA for a week to visit my family and celebrate Thanksgiving. In true Erie form, it snowed. Yep, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without snow. Rachel did not get to go out in it though. I was seriously too cold to even think about heading outside.
But she used her indoor time to practice her "big girl" crawling (hands and knees) and to practice pulling to stand. I can now say that she can do that all by herself now. It's really weird to leave a room and come back to her standing up at her toy. We also got to meet the newest member on my dad's side of the family. My cousin and his wife had a baby boy in September. He's only 2 months old but he's a little chunker already. And so very cute! This picture doesn't do him justice. Look at those cheeks!
Rachel had a lot of fun with her cousins...can't you tell?
Really, mom?
On our way to and from PA we stopped half-way and spent the night at a hotel. Rachel's max time sitting in the car is 5 hours and that's with a break half-way. So when we get to the hotel, she is ready to get moving.
hum...these look ok
but I love this toy so much better!
Rachel also got a bigger than I would have liked dose of restaurant food (which she loved). We did manage to make sure she got some good nutrition though. Here she is eating cheese and cheerios.
Hey dad, whatcha eating up there?
extra cheesy grin
Over all, it was a nice trip. I wish we could have spent more time with everyone but time went by so quickly. It felt like we had just got there and it was time to go already. Next long trip will be to NY to visit Stephen's family for Christmas. While I can't wait to see them, I am soooo not looking forward to the driving trip.

November 30, 2010

Kid's Meals

NOT Rachel
Over this past week of traveling, I've figured out why a lot of moms tend to gain weight when they have kids. It's the kid's meals! They are humongous! Everywhere we went I would order a meal for myself and for Rachel and I really should have just got a meal for her and ate the rest of it. Not only would I have saved money, I would have saved my waist a TON of calories. You order a "kid sized" hamburger, for example, and it's not even close to being smaller. It's the same size as yours. AND the amount of french fries with the meal is mind blowing. Really, do you think a child needs a basket of fries for themselves?? Today, we stopped to eat at Shoney's on the way home from PA. I got Rachel a grilled cheese and green beans. I was thinking, "yeah, green beans will be good. Even if that is a huge portion it's still green beans." Ha! Guess what..the green beans were covered in bacon. BACON!!! BACON!!! I had to laugh. I think the most nutritious meal Rachel had at a restaurant was a breakfast burrito from Starbucks. Eggs, salsa and cheese in a wrap. She didn't eat the wrap. I did. Which leads me to another reason moms gain weight. Leftovers. I sit and pick at what Rachel leaves on the plate. I pick at what she is eating while I eat my meal. Something is wrong with this picture. I really need to take a step back and think is eating the small bite sized pieces off her plate attractive? I must look like a starving person. "Oh, look at that poor woman eating off her child's plate. She must be really poor and unable to have leftovers." It's time to put things in check. Christmas is coming and I'm not playing big ol' Santa!

November 23, 2010


I am constantly amazed at life. At how life unfolds in ways you never imagined. All around me I see stories being told. Lives being changed. Like a fish you can be swimming along happily in calm waters and all of a sudden a storm moves in and changes your path. You may dive deeper in to the water, in to darkness and places you've never been before. It can be scary. Life is scary at times. Sometimes your heart feels crushed. A hand is squeezing your chest and you struggle to breath. All you wish for is that chance to gasp for air and you feel like it's never going to come. And then suddenly, or gradually, it happens. You are back at the surface. You can see the light above and you are getting closer to it. The rock that was sitting in your stomach is gone. The tears once pooling are no longer threatening to fall. I find myself day dreaming as I drive to and from my friends homes, to and from the grocery store. I put myself back to the days in the hospital before Rachel was born. I put myself back into those feelings. I felt so lost and hopeless. So afraid. I have found that in order to move forward, I need to look back. I need to re-live the terror, find my way through again and move forward. But it's not just my story I relive. I think of my friends and the hardships they have been through. I may not have met many of them in person, but that connection is still there. I still worry, I still grieve, I place myself in their shoes and I cry. I wonder why they have been chosen to live through the most difficult things that life can throw at you. And I wish that there was a way that I could take away their pain. But we all need to work through it. We all need to feel it. Take it in, let it take over and surrender to it. Someday, you'll swim to the surface again. Someday your heart will be lighter. Someday you will smile again...and mean it.

November 22, 2010

Meeting Santa

The Festival of Trees, benefiting Brenner Children's Hospital, was held this weekend in Winston-Salem. My friend, Priscilla, went with Rachel and me. Rachel napped on the way to Priscilla's house so she woke up ready to eat when we got there. We decided to go to Hams Restaurant for lunch.
This is the second time Rachel has ate at a restaurant in a big girl highchair and she's done great both times. I think that she just loves being in a new place with lots of people and things to look at. She loved her grilled cheese and we shared an "ice cream sundae." I put that in quotes because it was more like one of those little cups of ice cream you used to get in high school lunches. You know, the ones where you have to peel off the lid and eat it with a wooden spoon? Anyway, it was topped with whipped cream so I guess that made it a sundae in the eyes of that restaurant.

After lunch, we drove to the festival and Rachel took another little nap. I felt bad waking her up as I put her in her stroller. She really was fast asleep. The festival was loud and busy. Priscilla and I walked around and admired the trees and looked at the crafts that were for sale. Rachel was very good for the whole thing. Right before we left, Santa came back from feeding his reindeer and we were able to get Rachel's picture with him and Mrs. Claus. Rachel wasn't scared of Santa but she didn't care either way about him. She just wanted to talk with Mrs. Claus!
Don't you think Mr. and Mrs. Claus are looking a little tan coming from the North Pole?

November 19, 2010

Another Year Older

See my two bottom teeth?
Yep. My birthday is tomorrow. Last year, on my birthday, we spent a pretty sleepless night at the hospital with Rachel. The LAST night in the hospital in the NICU. Done. That next beautiful sunny morning on the 21st, we drove home as fast as we could (10 over the speed limit). I think we were afraid that if we drove too slow or even made a small stop, that the hospital would call and tell us that they made a mistake and that we needed to return Rachel to them. I think if they would have told us that we would have skipped out of town. My family waiting back home, who were in town to visit and didn't know that Rachel would be coming home that weekend (neither did we), would be left wondering what happened to us!
Time keeps moving along at a quick pace. Too many changes and many more to come. I sometimes wonder when we'll get a time to breath and just maybe get bored. The changes with Rachel have been the best out of everything. She's still a small little peanut but she acts likes she is a teenager sometimes. I'm telling you, you better get her her dinner A-SAP or she will yell at you like she's starving!
At our special play group play date, changes could also be seen. Little boys are growing up and lifting their heads like pros. Learning to steady themselves on their fannies and sit up straight. Rachel has no idea what she's in for once they start crawling.
There is so much more I want to talk about but I cannot at this time. There isn't anything life threatening going on so don't worry about us. I just can't wait until I can spill the beans and that is why I've been avoiding really writing anything on this blog. It's easier to avoid than to dance around stuff.

November 16, 2010

Postpartum Depression

Depressed Rain Sad Alone 31000 Images

PPD. It's one of those things that people don't talk about. But, I don't think anything will fully be understood until it is talked about. My friend, Courtney, has bravely put her feelings and battle with postpartum depression out into the open on her blog. I have asked her if it's ok for me to share her postings on my blog and she has agreed to it. She does not mince her words so if you are sensitive, then you probably shouldn't read her posts. I do think it's important to put her postings out in the open though. If you find yourself in some of her writing, do not be afraid to talk to someone about it. It's nothing to be ashamed of and there is help available.

Courtney's PPD Journey
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

November 13, 2010

More Updates

Rachel and I went to Brenner's yesterday to get the x-rays taken of her neck. To make sure she stayed still and straight, they had to strap her down to a board. Kind of like what a paramedic would do with a patient they think has a spinal cord injury. Rachel has been strapped down like that before and she HATED it. I thought for sure she would scream bloody murder again. Nope. She smiled at the technicians and just kept looking around the room. Never let out a peep. That's my girl! Dr. Chad called us personally Friday night and told us that her x-rays look normal. I'm happy for that but now we just kind of wait and see what happens with the head tilt. I hate "wait and see."
Rachel is moving along in her transition from formula to milk and after tomorrow she will be on all milk. Goodbye formula! Can't say I'll miss you or the money you suck out of our pockets. The Simply Thick has been working so great for Rachel. She hardly spits up anymore. Her constipation is also so much better because she no longer has the rice added formula. Right now, she is in great health. I just hope this continues through the holiday season.
I'm pretty excited for this Christmas. We will be able to go downstairs as a family and just enjoy the day. I'm so happy Rachel will really appreciate the tree and lights this year. She'll also be able to unwrap her own gifts. I know the wrapping paper will probably be the most exciting "gift" she gets as far as she's concerned. I have plans for us to go to the Festival of Trees this year too. I wanted to go last year but Rachel was just too little and we were just too tired! I hope Rachel will also get to experience snow. I'm not sure what she will think but I think it's important she gets to see and feel it.
Other than that, there have been some interesting events going on in the Fluck household. But, I'll keep you all in suspense for now. We haven't decided anything yet.

November 10, 2010

Rachel and The Red Shoe

"Hey, look what I found!"

"I wonder if it would fit..."

"Something isn't right here."

"Eh, I didn't want that old shoe anyway."

"So, Mom..."

"Can you buy me some new red shoes??"

November 9, 2010


Pulling to stand from sitting has been put on hold in Rachel's mind. She has found she can do just as much from her knees. She pulled this same trick when it came to crawling. Rachel had been rocking back and forth on her hands and knees, but as soon as she figured out that she could get to sitting from that position, any thought of crawling was put out of her mind. She is just now really putting forth the effort to crawl on her hands and knees and not just army crawl. So, I'm sure we'll revisit pulling to stand from sitting in a couple months when playing while on her knees no longer suits her. But, until then, she does look darn cute like this...