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.


ER Trip #5


On Saturday, Sophie started gaining on Henry with trips to the emergency room. Jack is still holding out, and we’re just hoping that doesn’t mean he’s waiting for something REALLY big before he makes his first trip. Everything is a competition when there are three. Just kidding. Sort of.

The back story: 

On Friday, Jack woke up with a runny nose. By Friday afternoon, Sophie had taken on most of the drippiness, and overnight she started coughing a bit. On Saturday morning, she was a bit more congested, and by Saturday afternoon post-nap, she was breathing very audibly. Her temp was 99.5. She started breathing a bit faster, and since it was Saturday evening and we were away from home, we went to the ER, thinking they would tell us: steam from the shower, cold air, humidifier, lots of fluids, lots of rest.

At intake they didn’t give me much info except that her temp was 100.1 and it didn’t look like she was retracting. She was hysterical during this whole process, so it was a bit tricky to get an accurate read on anything. She especially didn’t like the “light on [her] toe!” Re: the oxygen monitor. She has clearly forgotten that she used to have one practically permanently affixed to her tiny little foot during her days in the NICU.

When the doctor came in to see us, she said Sophie’s breathing did sound loud and fast, and it sounded “croupy.” We’ve dealt with croup before, and though that also involved one trip to the ER for a breathing treatment and steroids, I thought, “Ok. That stinks, but we know how to deal with that.”

One listen with the stethoscope and the doctor said, “Actually, it sounds like pneumonia.” We’re going to need a chest x-ray. Pneumonia?! She literally just got a runny nose approximately thirty hours ago. WTF.

And if you’ve ever attempted a chest x-ray with a feisty two year old, you know the next part of our hospital adventure was less than awesome. It didn’t help that I couldn’t seem to unlock the guided access on our iPad and all my attempts to turn the volume down only made things longer, so we walked the halls and filled that x-ray room with the booming sounds of Daniel Tiger at FULL volume. Add a screaming kid to the mix, and we were LOUD.

It turns out it IS pneumonia, and we had to wait quite a while longer for Sophie’s heart rate to go down and her oxygen saturation to go up. In the meantime, she became quite fond of “the red light on [her] toe” and even asked me to take a picture so she could show Jack and Henry.


A dose of Tylenol, some antibiotics plus a prescription for more, and we were on our way. All in all, the ER trip was only about three hours, and we were very grateful for Daniel Tiger. And iPads. And amazing nurses (thanks, Janice)! And of course, Nana.

The next morning Sophie’s breathing seemed even louder as we waited for CVS to open so we could pick up the antibiotics. She did enjoy part of a waffle while watching Mickey Mouse Club House. 

Perk of being sick: eating whatever you want wherever you want and watching t.v.

Still, we couldn’t get Sophie’s breathing to calm down, and after frantically trying to pack up to go BACK to NYC (I swear we had just unpacked) while managing two slightly cranky brothers and one wheezy Sophie, we made for the ER again. On the way, Sophie’s breathing slowed and quieted, so we stopped at CVS to pick up her meds. She continued to breathe slowly and quietly (again, thank you Daniel Tiger!) so we made for Manhattan.

Here she enjoyed more eating whatever she wanted (or not eating whatever she didn’t want), wherever she wanted, and watching t.v. This is us “eating” dinner on the couch and watching Finding Nemo. That’s her dinner plate in between us.


By this morning, she was feeling (and sounding) MUCH better, and consequently so were Mom and Dad. It was a “fancy pancake” kind of morning.

This afternoon, Sophie resumed her normal behavior of refusing her nap and choosing instead to play with all her “friends” in her crib and sing to her brothers. Until they wake up. So glad she’s feeling better 🙂

Until our next ER visit…or at least until I can get my act together to write about something else. With any luck for blogger and readers, we’ll have non-emergency room content coming soon.

Our ER Stats:

  • Henry: 3
  • Sophie: 2
  • Jack: 0
  • Trips in Manhattan: 2
  • Trips in Southampton while visiting Nana: 2 😦
  • Chest x-rays: 2
  • Diagnoses: Virus, Peanut allergy, forehead stitches, croup, pneumonia
  • Blech, BLECH, blech, double blech, triple blech




Our Little Bobble Heads

As some of you may already know, Henry and Jack have rather large heads. They’ve had these rather large heads for a while now, and we’d sort of forgotten about them (although we are briefly reminded every time we struggle to get a onesie over their head).




So…hard…to lift…heads…

Jack and Henry’s heavy heads weigh them down when they try to push up during tummy time or sit up in their Bumbos, so we weren’t terribly surprised when Sophie reached those milestones first. For all of her adorable chub, Sophie is tiny. A mere 22 inches long!


Hello! I’m tiny!

In any event, we had never been worried about the boys’ heads. Until last Tuesday. On Tuesday, we had our 6-month check up with the pediatrician. Two adults, three babies, twelve shots, and three oral vaccines can make for a rough evening. Add to that that the babies were being poked and prodded at around 5:30 pm (their LEAST favorite time of day), and that they are now able to roll OFF the exam table should they choose to do so, and things can get pretty wild. But despite the requisite wails when they were jabbed in the leg four times in a row, the trips were perfect patients. In fact, the boys started showing up, pushing up on their elbows like never before! The only question our pediatrician had was, “Why are their heads growing so fast?”

Those adorable noggins of theirs have hopped their way up into the 70th-77th percentile in the past few months. For non-preemie 6-month-olds. That means Henry and Jack’s heads are bigger than approximately 75% of their 6-month-old, carried-to-term, singleton counterparts. Weight and height are usually adjusted for their age (so we compare to 3.5-month-olds) but doing that for their head circumferences puts them off the charts. So our pediatrician sent us off for head ultrasounds. She tried to sound calm, assured us that she didn’t want to scare us, and urged us not to Google it (yeah, right), but she wanted to rule out fluid in the brain. Hydrocephalus to be medically precise.

Here’s Henry the morning before his head ultrasound, looking none-to-pleased (and simultaneously adorable of course).



Sophie came along for the ride because her head isn’t exactly small, and so on Friday afternoon, the Strumolo Five were off to the pediatric radiology department of New York Presbyterian. We are still awaiting the official results, but the outlook is promising. Sophie is off the hook–nothing in that pretty little head of hers but brains–and the initial, unofficial reading of the boys’ pictures show no fluid in the brain. It does appear that they have a significant amount of fluid outside the brain, however, so we are still waiting for word on what that means, but our Google search (sorry, Doc!) suggests that the approach is just wait and see. We think it should resolve on its own.


Sleeping with her shades on. Or off. Whatever.


Cool dudes.

I will keep you all posted. In the meantime, these little peanuts have been enjoying the fall weather, their toys, and each other.

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Sophie and her doll are doing tummy time together.

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Sitting up on her own. For a second. Maybe two.

Sibling time!


Tea Party!


Henry wanted to make sure that Daddy was a part of the party.


He felt much better when he knew everyone was included.


Hanging out and working on those wobbly heads.


This is too much fun!

THIS JUST IN! If you are still reading this, I heard official word from the doctor between starting this post and finishing it. One word sums it up: “BENIGN!” That’s a word we like to hear. They did ask that Will and I measure our own head circumferences to see if either of us have a head circumference in the 95th+ percentile. We’ll keep you posted (and you can keep guessing which one of us you think it is).

On the Launching Pad

When I arrived at the NICU today, one of the other NICU moms (I won’t name names!) said to me, “I didn’t see an update this morning…”

Ok, ok, I know. I didn’t post! For the first time since I started this blog I went for more than 24 hours without posting. But come on, people! I was grading exams, writing homeroom reports, getting ready to share our apartment with three teeny tiny people (and a host of helpers, I hope). It’s been busy! Anyway, I’ve got some updates from the last couple of days, so here’s your fix.

We THINK everybody’s coming home on Saturday. At this point, discharge summaries have been signed, doctors and nurses have already said goodbye to us, so we think it’s really happening. But after 64 days, I will believe it when I see it.



Weight: 5 lbs, 4.6 ounces

Vaccinations? Check!

Known for: Impressing the doctors and nurses with his fast feeds

New today: Henry had to give a bit more blood today. Just a follow-up on what we assume (hope) is a false positive on his newborn screening. He’s a trouper, but boy did he wail when he was pricked!



Weight: 6 lbs 0.2 ounces

Vaccinations? Check!

Known for: Hello?! Did you see how much he weighs?

New today: Again, see “weight”



Weight: 5 lbs 10.6 ounces

Vaccinations? Check!

Known for: Interrupting rounds with her hiccups. They are LOUD!

New today: Her eye exam revealed that she is Stage 2 Zone 2. Premature babies’ eyes are checked frequently for ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) which is when the blood vessels grow the wrong way, and it’s common in preemies because of the use of oxygen therapy. Sophie was barely on oxygen, so everyone’s a bit surprised that she might have aggressive blood vessel growth in her retinas, but we’ll follow up with the eye doctor next week. As out-patients!

Who’s that hiding under there?

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There. I posted. Are you happy? 🙂