Sunday, March 30, 2014
He went through a lot in his first month here on this earth. Horrible, horrible, horrible withdrawals. Feeding tubes. Breathing issues. Tremors. Reflux. No one there for him but the awesome nurses in the NICU.
We got the call about him on a Friday night. They needed a temporary 30 day placement for a baby that was getting ready to be discharged from the NICU. My friend Mandi and I went up there the next morning to see him for the first time. He was SO TINY!!! I was honestly afraid to pick him up. I'd never seen a real baby that small. All the baby dolls at home were bigger than him! But, oh my gosh, was he cute! I fell in love immediately. Over the next few days, Todd and the older kids and I visited him every chance we could get. We took lots of pictures. We sang him songs. We rocked him. I got to feed him his first bottle. That meant I had to learn the tricks to feeding a preemie, which is definitely not as simple as feeding a full term baby, but we figured it out. Sissy and I roomed in with him on his last night in the NICU. Todd stayed home with the hobbits and everyone else.
Discharge was a huge milestone for him. When we first met him, he weighed 4 lbs, 13 ounces. It had taken him almost a month to gain 1 pound. Four days later when we got to take him home on his 1 month birthday, he weighed 5 lbs, 13 ounces. He'd gained an entire pound since we started visiting him!! The nurses were so happy to see that and we all wished DCS had called us earlier so we could have spent more time with him and helped to ease and speed up his recovery.
We brought our little munchkin home and he fit right in. He did have some issues because of him being an NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome) baby, but thankfully, for the most part, they weren't extreme. He had random tremors in his arms and legs that would last for a few seconds to a few minutes. He did have a few seizures, but they disappeared within a few months and the neurologists never could see them on their tests. Knock on wood, he's not had one since. He was hospitalized in June, when he was just two months old, for Meningitis. I took him to the doctor because he just wasn't himself. They trusted me enough to send him to Children's for a full workup. The doctors there decided they wanted to do a spinal tap because he was so you and had been so premature. We didn't even have to wait for the results; the doctor could tell while he was extracting the fluid that he had meningitis. We spent a week in the hospital while he recovered from that. The next month saw him develop a case of strep. It was a very eventful two months with him!
We weren't out of the woods with him after that. He started having some trouble with asthma-like symptoms. We've been able to control them with his nebulizer, thankfully, and his last few illnesses haven't triggered those symptoms.
We learned over the summer that our little man would become adoptable and DCS wanted us to adopt him. OH MY WORD were we excited! He is (we think) the sixth baby by his biological mother. His other siblings are with a biological dad, and two adoptive families. For various reasons, placing him with any of them was out of the question. However, that didn't stop one of the foster families from trying to gain custody of him. I'm going to make a long story short and say the foster mom was certifiably crazy and there was no way in the world we were going to let our munchkin grow up in that environment. Thankfully, DCS agreed, as did the court system. We happily, happily, happily able to adopt our little man on November 14, 2012.
Because of his prematurity and drug exposure, he was a little behind in development, but was still within normal limits, so he did not require nor receive any specialized therapies. We just played a lot and had fun!
Gabe had the thickest, curliest hair I'd ever seen. He also has two very prominent cowlicks on the back of his head. They look like dueling hurricanes and cause some pretty cool curls. They also make getting his hair cut a little bit of a challenge.
Gabe loves his family and we love him! He is definitely Derrick and Sissy's favorite! Those two spoil him tremendously and let him get away with just about everything. Candace is an excellent big sister and is always looking out for him and playing with him. Kimmie hasn't figured out how to play with him and not for him yet. He gets so excited asking if Daddy is home. When Daddy does come home from work, Gabe is the first one to greet him with lots of squeals, hugs, and kisses. He is definitely a Daddy's boy right now!!
Over the past year he went from a scooting baby to crawling everywhere, to walking, and now running everywhere. He is developing his speech and has quite a few favorite words: Daddy or BaBa, Hereyougo, Momma, Sishe (Sissy), De-ick (Derrick), Canish (Candace), Kee (Kimmie), Sta she (Star Ship, used for Star Trek: The Next Generation), Lightning, Mater, Dusty (for his favorite movies: Cars, Cars 2, and Planes), Veggies (Veggie Tales), Lar Boy (Larry Boy from Veggie Tales), Lilly, Izzy, bye-bye, Doggie, Chip, Cheeeeee (cheese), and just now I duv you (I love you!)
He loves watching Veggie Tales and we now own the entire collection. We also own Cars, Cars 2, and Planes because of him. Gabe is fascinated by cars, trucks, and trains of all types. He has his own large collection, which was added to by Derrick giving him his own collection of cars from when he was little. He's now getting into loving on his stuffed animals, which is beyond adorable. He's had his own baby for a long time now because he kept stealing his sisters' dolls. He's a very conscientious Daddy and gives her lots and lots of hugs and kisses.
He's old enough now for the toddler Zoo classes, so I signed him up and we've been enjoying our weekly jaunts to the Zoo, even though it's been super cold most days. He loves the animal toys she brings for them to play with each week. He absolutely loves the actual animals she brings in and is always the first one in line to pet them. He's also the last one in line so he can pet them again. So far, he's gotten to pet a ferret, a bearded dragon, and Madagascar hissing cockroaches. I do believe he was the only person in the class to actually touch them. *shudder* We have a lot of fun after class going around and seeing all the different animals up close. His favorites seem to be the elephants and lions, although he did show a bit of interest in the baboons last week.
There are days when I look at him and he reminds me of Derrick at that age. This is especially true where his love for animals, and their love for him, is concerned. He's super smart and understands almost everything that's said to him, so even though he can't use all the same words, he knows what you're telling him. He's a little daredevil, but he doesn't like having things on his hands, just like his big brother. He's one of the most loving children you'll ever meet and loves to be held. His favorite bedtime song is Barney's "I Love You, You Love Me" and we sing it multiple times every night. We also sing it whenever he's feeling out of sorts and needs a bit of a cool down period.
He'll be 2 (oh my gosh, how did that happen so fast??) in just a couple of weeks. He's already perfected his temper tantrums, so that's one thing we can check off our list.
Our Little Man has come so far in just two short years. He's now over 31 inches tall and weighs 26 1/2 pounds. He loves to eat, something that he couldn't do his first month here on earth, and isn't afraid to try new things. Especially if those new things are on someone else's plate! God has given us a little miracle and we can't wait to see where the next few years take us with our munchkin. :-)