Turning two is kind of a big deal.

toddler climbing

Lucy is turning two. Like a lot of two-year-olds, she loves baby dolls, bubbles, and pictures of herself. She climbs out of her crib and opens doors. She pretends to type and to put on lotion. She can’t stop talking about dogs, cats, and cars.

girl eating outside

girl on playground

Turning two is really a big deal in the preemie world. Two seems really, really far off, an impossible age, when you are talking to doctors about your one-pound-and-change child. You’re not sure what the next twenty-four hours or days or weeks hold—thinking about twenty-four months from now seems too hard, too painful. When Lucy was in the NICU, at night I would dream about a small girl in striped leggings and brown pigtails, but during the day she slipped away and I focused only on the tiny wrinkly baby in front of me and her immediate needs.

girl doing dishes

Conventional wisdom has been that premature babies “catch up” by two. Before two, a preemie has two ages, an actual one and an adjusted one. If you ask a preemie parent how old her baby is, you might hear something like, “Well, she’s ten months? But she was three and a half months premature? So really, she’s more like six-and-a-half?” This is because development is really from conception, so you cannot expect that particular ten-month-old to be doing ten-month-old things.

girl on stone bench

But by the time they’re two, a couple of months give or take doesn’t matter any more, say those who work with preemies. We quit it with the counting months and we just move forward. This is controversial and a hard transition for many preemie parents. Those months matter to us. One doesn’t just become an ex-preemie. Problems don’t just go away. Even if she can “pass” as “normal,” Lucy will still be affected by her prematurity the rest of her life.

toddler at zoo

In the NICU, after she had bleeding in her brain, doctors discussed potential problems with us. They said that if she didn’t show signs of cerebral palsy or other disability by the time she was two, she was pretty much in the clear. At the time, we wondered how we would wait.

baby in stroller

But here we are. Our Early Intervention therapists are cutting back on her occupational and speech therapy, saying she is no longer behind. They have always told us that when she turned three, she would be “turned over” to the public school system’s free preschool and special programs. But now they say, “She’s doing so well. She’s caught up, she’s so close to her actual-age peers. She probably won’t qualify.”

girl reflected in stove

We are “graduating” from the special needs baby world, in a way. We are gradually being let loose. We are becoming just another family trying to figure out on its own how to do what’s right for a child.

girl carrying bubble solution

Lucy is two. She is funny and smart and brave. Her physical capabilities amaze me. She does things that I would never have done at two or seven or twelve. She is not scared of older kids or big dogs or tall slides or bounce houses.

toddler holding dolls

toddler in bounce house

She loves water and climbing and loud floral-patterned pants. She carries around a stash of flash cards and ziplocs of fabric swatches. She feeds the cats treats and she diapers her stuffed animals. She knows too many words and signs to count. She dances.

girl pointing at sky

toddler walking across grass

Lucy is confident and adventurous. She loves to go places and to see people. If I use the word “go” or “adventure” or “outside,” she grabs my purse and hustles to the front door, shouting “Bye-bye!” She is happy to be active, to learn, to explore her world. She is thrilled that she is a strong and capable two-year-old. And so are we.


toddler posing for photo

Saint Lucy’s Day

I wrote this a year ago and posted it on Facebook. I’ve added a few links here and there and gratuitous baby photos at the end, but otherwise I’ve left it the same and I am just archiving it here.


Today Lucy is one hundred days old. It is two days before her due date and one day after eye surgery to keep her from going blind from the oxygen that has helped her breathe for these fourteen weeks. It is Saint Lucy’s Day. Saint Lucy, whose name means “light,” is the patron saint of the blind.

When we started saying to each other last summer, “I like the name ‘Lucy,’ do you?” I was thinking about a December child, one who might even be born on Solstice. I thought it was a sunny, optimistic name that might fit a little girl bringing hope and light into a dark, cold month.

Today, at dawn, it was below freezing but it was beautiful. The sky was lit up in the east, all purples and pinks over the lights of Children’s Hospital as we drove towards it. It was exactly the kind of winter day I had pictured months ago. It was the kind of sunrise that everyone comments on, the kind that makes us say, “I love living here.” You can see photos of it by going to Twitter and typing “Denver” and “sunrise” into the search box.1

I dropped off my husband, and instead of turning the radio to NPR like I would have done, he plugged my iPhone into the stereo before he got out of the car. He chose the playlist I made for Lucy, and Emmylou Harris sang “If I Needed You.”

In the night forlorn the morning’s born
And the morning shines with the lights of love
You will miss sunrise if you close your eyes
That would break my heart in two2

The moment crystallized then for me—my thoughts of our child, her perfect name, her vision which will be okay, and of that sky, all coming together today.

And then I turned onto the highway and headed to work, west towards the mountains, and the song switched to the Beatles, to “Good Day, Sunshine,” and I thought, a moment like that can certainly get a mother through a day, a long month, and maybe even a whole hard year.


Lucy, yesterday:

baby looking out window

baby next to window

baby kissing window

  1. Searching Twitter archives for something like this isn’t easy, but it was impressive enough that a local new station created a slideshow which is still available.
  2. Lyrics by the great Townes Van Zandt.

Happy Birthday, Lucy

I want to tell about the last twelve months, but I have no words. Or I have too many words, or the wrong words, or not enough time to think about how to choose the right words—I’m not sure.  But I can’t let the day go by without saying it’s Lucy’s birthday.

baby in incubator

I thought about just using a song’s worth of Kasey Chambers’s words. But I don’t want to be sued by a record company, so I will just tell you that her “Beautiful Mess” is kind of Lucy’s and my theme song. I hope that you will go listen to it on her website and then buy all her CDs.

baby in incubator

I prayed that the sun was the hope
And the rain was an angel
I came out of the treetop and into the cradle

squirmy baby in arms

I lay under the covers for a hundred days
I closed both my eyes till a relative came

baby with cannula

baby in bouncy seat

baby asleep in pack n play

baby with funny look

So send me to the grave with the age old question
How’d I get into this beautiful mess?

baby in bed

baby on bed with cat

baby asleep in carseat

baby in moby wrap

And it was never my intention, never my style
But everything about you is worth my while

close up of baby face

baby in bed with toys

baby sideways on couch

baby on lap smiling

‘Cause you make it all worth my while

baby peeking through hole

Big Storm, Little Kitten

The convergence of several things recently led me to this post: (1) the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Gustav is today, (2) Hurricane Isaac, the “worst storm since Gustav” hit our old neighborhood a couple of days ago, (3) Facebook made me switch to the “timeline” view, prompting me to go through old posts and photos there, and (4) I wanted to jump back into blogging and was looking for an easy way to do it.

So I’m re-posting this Facebook album of Gustav photos and comments here for posterity. I’ve mentioned this before, but Gustav hit a week after we took in Percy, and our memories of the storm are mixed up with our interest in seeing his reaction to it and our relief that he was no longer on the streets in the weather himself.

kitten looking out window at storm

September 1, 2008: At about 3:40, the worst was over.

kitten looking out window at aftermath

kitten, window, wet driveway

kitten looking at man outside window

What is he doing out there?

backyard with branches all over

September 2: Our backyard.

branch and shingles in backyard

shingles on ground, bent clothesline

The neighbor’s roof seems to be all over our yard.

another view of beatup backyard

Our clothesline didn’t fare too well.

branches on ground

kitten climbing on bars of window

No electricity means the windows are open. Percy likes this.

kitten climbing on window bars

kitten investigating open window

woman, cat carrier, coffee on patio furniture

September 3: We move outside to the carport. Inside is too hot.

kitten in cat carrier on table

man looks out at cloudy sky

kitten biting at cat carrier

Tired of this.

view of kitten through window

The screen blew off, so he is trapped behind glass.

kitten looking up through window at photographer

man on roof of house

Our roof is fine! Not a single shingle missing.

beat-up trees in backyard

September 4: There’s a branch that just won’t fall on its own.

branch half-fallen from tree

Finally gravity, rope, and the husband win the battle.

kitten looks out window

September 5: Still no electricity, which is not a problem for Percy.

close-up of kitten looking out window

kitten face in case of bottled water

September 12: The power’s been on for three days, but now our emergency water seems to be contaminated.