Dance Like No One Is Watching

This girl. She dances like no one is watching, she sings like no one is listening (although I think she secretly hopes we all are), and she carries joy in her heart and spreads it wherever she goes.

After several blissful nights of uninterrupted sleep, and just hours before our road trip to VA to visit the cousins, her coughing began. In the grand scheme of things, last night’s breathing battles were pretty minimal. No albuterol needed (until 5AM this morning, that is), no trip to the hospital, no oxygen mask. But a sleepless night is a sleepless night, and a persistent and wheezy cough for a kid with asthma is always a bit unsettling.

Still, this girl jumped out of bed at 5AM, a smile on her face and only one concern: “If I go to Noah and Lily’s and I’m sick there, I will give Noah and Lily my germs.”

I am inspired by her concern for others, her ability to choose joy in the face of her frustrations, and her incredible zest for life.

Her latest catch phrase is, “This is going to be SO great.” This adventure, this Magna-Tile house, this waffle, you name it. Whatever it is, it’s going to be SO great. Especially if Sophie has anything to do with it. We are t-minus two hours from the cousins’ house, albuterol and inhaler in hand, and I can already tell: it’s going to be SO great.

The Miracles of Modern Medicine

The past ten days have been rough. It started last Tuesday night with a midnight trip to the ER, a dose of racemic epinephrine, and a round of steroids. Jack had wandered into our room, gasping for breath, a nasty bout of croup with stridor having developed in the few hours since he’d fallen asleep.

By Monday, we’d added a trip to Urgent Care plus four rapid strep tests (all negative, thank goodness!), and one pretty sick mama.

Wednesday brought with it three fevers (and no school), and one sleepless night for Sophie, Mom, and Dad. By Thursday, I’d lost my voice (and pretty much all of my energy), and we rounded out the day with a trip to the pediatrician to rule out strep (again) and an ear infection.

There is still a lot of snot and a lot of coughing in our household, and not a lot of sleep. The fevers keep coming and going, and I don’t think anyone has eaten a square meal in over a week.

BUT (and this is a VERY big but), if coughs, and colds, and fevers, and runny noses, and yes, even a trip to the ER for croup is our worst week…then I cannot help but count us all very lucky.

Our road to parenthood was not an easy one. The before, during, and after of my pregnancy involved a lot of doctors, a lot of medicine, and a lot of hope. The photos below are a constant reminder of how far these little people have come, and the fact that their little bodies are strong enough to fend off these viruses makes me one very grateful mama.


On the top left there is Henry, still eleven weeks before a baby is supposed to be out in this world on his own, barely two pounds, and working to breathe with a collapsed lung.

And then there’s Jack, working hard just to open his eyes a few days after being born.

And finally Sophie. Rocking her shades from the from her phototherapy treatment for jaundice.

It would be days before we held Henry, weeks before the three of them were reunited with each other, and months before they came home.

So I’ll take the sniffles, the sleepless nights, and the multiple trips to the doctor if it means I get to have these three happy humans in my arms, at home, every night. It was a long time coming, and I am just so very grateful that they are here.


March 2017

I know, I know. I am still playing catch up. But I’ll be darned (the kids might read this one day, right?) if we hit our big milestone tomorrow afternoon (starting a new school!) and we are still in the land of two-year-olds on the blog. So here goes nothing. I can always sleep tomorrow, right?

Recovering from a bout of breathing battles and our first overnight in the hospital since the NICU:聽

Thanks for all the thoughts and well wishes for Miss Soph. We are still here, working on weaning the oxygen and waiting for the pulmonologist. I think she’s ready to go home, but then, I’m not a medical professional聽馃檪

She is feeling and doing much better though. Especially considering the 11PM, 2AM, and 5AM wake up calls for neb treatments. First thing she said this morning was, “Where’s the boys?”

Reunited, and it feels so good!

Last night was the first night since before they were born that these three little people did not share a room. I am too tired to remember all of the adorable things they did and said when they were apart and then back together again, but I know we will always be so grateful that they have each other. Family is everything.



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Eleanor Strumolo

March 6路聽

This was Saturday. Perhaps we should have seen it coming? My money would have been on Jack for the ER trip though.

One day of medication for Sophie. Yes, we are bribing her. No, it isn’t really working. If you’d like to see sheer crazy sauce, come by around 1AM or 5AM to see just how loud a tiny toddler can get. Bring you ear plugs and your neck guard!

March 10聽路聽

They say sleep deprivation is a form of torture. I’m not sure what information our children are trying to get out of us, but they can have it. I give in.

March 19聽路聽

Reunited with my jogging stroller and my littlest running buddy. We may have just found the sanity-saving solution to Sophie’s refusal to nap. Thanks to my better half for suggesting it. Why did it take us 8 months to think of it?

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March 21聽路聽

So rarely get a moment, much less an entire morning, alone with one of my kiddos. Had an adventure with H today, and it was amazing (and SO easy). Long for more of these days.

March 26聽路聽

As soon as we get back these kids start planning their own trip to Puerto Rico. Don’t worry, they’ll “be back in a few minutes.”

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March 28聽路聽

3-year check-up? Nailed it. When did they get so big?!?

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March 31聽路聽

Because everyone starts crafting at 6:30am, right?


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Breathing Battles

Sophie on Oxygen

You would think I’d be an expert at this by now. Counting her breaths, recognizing retractions, knowing when it’s just congestion and when it’s something much worse. You would think, after 67 days in the NICU, watching them learn to breathe on their own, I would have faith in her little lungs. You would think, after weeks of staring intently at their monitors, willing their oxygen saturation levels higher when they dipped, and feeling helpless and terrified when they didn’t, I would be used to this.

And yet.

The first time she seemed to be struggling was Labor Day last year. We were out at Nana and Grumples’. She went to bed one night with sniffles and woke up the next morning lethargic and struggling to breathe. We went to the ER, and the suspicion was pneumonia. A chest x-ray, some monitoring, and a prescription for antibiotics, and we were discharged. We never did figure out if it was really pneumonia, and it probably wasn’t. But it’s hard to shake the memory of positioning your screaming two-year-old daughter for a chest x-ray and then backing away while they take the picture.

Next up it was Halloween. Again with the sniffles. And then a trip to the pediatrician, a round of steroids, and a mad dash around Manhattan in search of the right nebulizer in time for our weekend at Nana’s. Sophie’s “panda medicine” we started to call it.

There was another bout in November. Always counting breaths, filming her as she inhales and exhales, hoping for a virtual diagnosis from Aunt Hartley.

And then, in March, another trip to the ER, and they couldn’t get her oxygen levels back up. An overnight stay in the Peds wing. Quarantined because of the rhinovirus (read: “cold”) that had started it all. Around the clock nebulizer treatments. Another round of steroids. A new inhaler (this time for daily use). And a new doctor (and vocab word) for Sophie: a pulmonologist.

So you’d think I’d be used to it by now. You’d think I could tell the difference between breathing fast from a fever and breathing fast because she’s struggling to get the oxygen she needs. You’d think I’d know for sure what a retraction looks like. But the thing is, when your child聽might聽be struggling to breathe, it’s a pretty hard call to make.

The last time I raced her to the hospital (August), it turned out to just be a cold, a fever, and a double ear infection. And yet the five minute drive to the hospital with her strapped in the back where I couldn’t hear her, couldn’t touch her, were five of the scariest minutes of my life.

This little girl who kicked ass at breathing in the NICU can be (and often is) completely knocked down by a common cold. She missed her first soccer class today. Earlier this summer she missed camp, playdates. This school year hasn’t even begun, and I am already wondering just how often she’s going to have to stay home.

The alarm is set for the 1:00am dose of albuterol, but she tiptoed in here a little before 11:00, breathing fast and loud. Two puffs of her inhaler and she crawled into our bed. Scooting over to pat the pillow where she wanted me to lie.

And so tonight, I lay here, with Sophie pressed against me. Close enough so that I can hear and feel her breathing. Cell phone at the ready, stopwatch app open. Counting her breaths. Listening for wheezing. And looking for retractions. Hoping that tonight will not go down in the books as the “umpteenth” time we went to the ER, because unfortunately at this point, I am starting to lose count.