Carter was released from the NICU on February 29 of last year, and so basically, it was a year ago today that he finally went home, three weeks before his due date and 53 days after his birth. It's hard to believe it's been a year, but in another way, it seems like it's been 10 years. Here he is just a few days before he was released, and then a few days ago:
I know all babies grow up, and all parents lament the speed at which it seems to happen, but for preemie parents, I think it's a little bit different. For us, birth is not a joyous event. It is one of fear and pain and uncertainty, and we literally don't know how it will all turn out. The hope and joy and love and fulfillment of dreams so many parents talk about feeling at the birth of their children is robbed from us, and we never really get it back.
Even though Carter has developed completely normally and had no setbacks, the experience of his birth still haunts me. It's not as immediate as it was a year ago, but it will always be there. When I think about having another baby, all of that baggage comes up again. The IVF is one thing to deal with (and the accompanying cost and uncertainty), but there is always the specter of all of this happening again. It's hard to imagine having another baby in the NICU with a toddler at home. I know people do it all the time, but it's something I think about. The chances of it happening again are not huge, but not small either.
Anyway, Carter is growing up, and it's just amazing to watch. I realized the other day that I am already thinking of him as a toddler, even though he's not walking just yet. He seems more like a toddler than a baby in the way he explores and examines the world.
He's working so hard on walking, and he's gradually getting there. He's more sure on his feet all the time. He cruises like a pro now, and every now and then I start to think he's about to take independent steps... but not yet.
He likes to push everything around these days: the high chair, the kitchen chairs, boxes, stools, and so on. He likes to push his lion walker around too, but often he does it sideways -- I think he can control it better that way.
He is babbling more, and starting to demonstrate his awareness of other people. He plays independently at times, but at other times wants to be held and and carried around. He investigates everything around him with such an intense curiosity and drive that it can be hard to deter him. Which means we're also starting to get little tantrums when things don't go his way. I've been reading the Sears discipline book, and have learned a lot about what is going on in their heads at this age.
Another interesting thing that happened recently is that Carter chipped a tooth. I don't know when or how. I just noticed that one of his top central incisors looked funny a few days ago, and when I touched it, it was obvious that it had chipped. It doesn't seem to bother him, though. I had been meaning to make his first dentist appointment, though, so this just gave me a good reason to do it. It's with a pediatric dentist who was recommended to me, so we'll see how that goes! I've read that preemies have more problems with their baby teeth than do full term babies, so this may be the first of many visits. :-P
He's really interested in drinking out of cups these days. I don't have a picture of that yet, but it's really cute. He always wants a drink from my cup, and we're working on signing "drink", rather than just grabbing for the cup. He seems to understand the word "drink" when I say it, though. We have this bath rinse cup, and he will drink bathwater out of it, holding it up just like a big cup. Gross, but I figure it won't hurt him. It hasn't yet -- he's been drinking bathwater for many months now!