A full weekend!

We have had a fun weekend with Benjamin getting to see lots of family. First Carol and family visited and her kids got to meet Ben for the first time. It was really nice to have everyone together. We played some games and ate some NYC pizza and Benjamin had some stories read to him and showed off all his new tricks.

And the next day we celebrated Amy’s brother Kevin’s birthday. Ben’s Gram got him some Giants gear and since the Steelers are out Ben thought it was ok to root for the Giants with his uncle and the rest of Amy’s family. Turns out he’s a good luck charm and the Giants won.

All this visiting does a number on Benjamin though – it really screws up his eating for some reason. The smallest change in schedule and level of stuff going on throws him for a loop and then the next few days he makes it so hard to feed him. Hopefully this will get better but right now it is super frustrating.

PPROM memories

One year ago this week began a seriously scary time. It was then that Carol’s water broke – PPROM – at 19 weeks. I don’t know how much you know about PPROM – but it happening at 19 weeks is bad – like almost no hope bad – like assuming that infection or bleeding will end the pregnancy within hours bad.

We talk a lot about Benjamin’s prematurity and the challenges involved but that month before he was born changed everything. PPROM (Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes) is scary. But if you read the support sites or the facebook groups for the women going through this – you will be amazed by the hope they share and the strength they give each other. Carol had that hope and that strength times ten and she never gave up on our baby. No one would have ever blamed her if she did. I think part of each of us imagined we were just prolonging the heartache – the odds were so slim.

Carol (for those of you joining us mid-story) was our gestational surrogate – she carried our embryo (later fetus, later Benjamin). To a lot of people the idea of a surrogate is strange. Some imagine it is some sort of business relationship or a situation we would later hide from our child and pretend never happened. But let me tell you this – I cannot imagine another person, who we only knew for a few months, who would have done everything she did for our son. When we started, Carol might have been our surrogate, but by the time we got through it all, Carol was family. And Carol’s family was family. She was amazing throughout the hospital stays, the never-ending bedrest, the time away from her husband and children and doing everything she could to last one more day to let Benjamin cook.

The month between the PPROM and when Benjamin was born was rough. I don’t think any of us slept much, we were scared of the phone ringing, Amy and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves. But every time the doctors did another ultrasound (which was pretty much constantly) they seemed surprised Carol kept going. And go she did – just over the border of viability. 23 weeks, 3 days.

So, though we have said it many many times- Thank you Carol, thank you Carol’s family, thank you Carol’s friends and everyone who supported her and us and Benjamin.

And if you have stumbled upon Benjamin’s blog because you or someone you love are dealing with PPROM – please stay hopeful. While Amy and I would never have gotten to be parents without doctors and science – they only get you so far. That last stretch was all faith.

Carol and Amy

Carol and Amy - after the very first ultrasound (before things got scary)

How did 11 months pass already?

Eleven months! One-One! That’s 31 days until 1 year!

Things have been good in Benjaminland. He has now hit 14 pounds at his last doctor appointment, which is great, but he’s still very small even for his adjusted age. Feeding has been on and off difficult, but one of Ben’s therapists is making a recommendation for a feeding therapist.  If gets approved it could really help, especially as we increase the solids – which right now just makes him puke.

Ben is getting really good at pushing himself up and seems much more interested in moving around. He’s getting to be a strong little guy. We are also hoping to start occupational therapy too. What sort of occupation could Benjamin have, you ask? Well right now his occupation (as listed on the census) is “baby”. So that’s what he’d work on – baby stuff. Though at this rate we’ll have to put in a waiting room at our apartment for all the therapists coming and going.

So lots of 11-month cuteness for you, including a giggle video (and yes – that’s a Steelers shirt from uncle Jamie… no one tell Benjamin about today’s game ok?):

The best/worst year ever

Over the past day I’ve been watching people post to Facebook and Twitter how hard 2011 was and how they are glad it’s over. Part of me definitely agrees with that. It was a rough year, almost from the get-go. I thought about how it contained days worse than any I could remember. Months where my heart would stop every time the phone rang.

But I cannot look back at any day and wish it away –  Amy and I would go through every one of those days again because it brought us here. It brought us the happiest days we have ever had. It brought us a little boy who in spite of it all laughs easily and snuggles often.

This coming year will be sure to have challenges too – but as long as the rewards are as great as this past year, 2012 can bring it.

Ben joined us (before he passed out in true rock-star style) to celebrate New Year’s Eve last night:

Ben meets Franca

Franca and Ben plan a trip to Italy

Ben at NYE

"I've been told there's champagne on new years..."

Cristina and Ben

Aunt Cristina gives Ben the giggles