Grace. Gracie. Oh my Gracious. You, little fireball, have surprised me time and time again. You are CRAZY, but in the best way possible. You test me time and time again, and you are arguably my most needy child. Or maybe it’s Harper. Or maybe it’s EVERYONE. I thought that since you were so quiet in utero, that you would also be this gentle soul once you arrived. When you were born, you had problems breathing. Well, you both did, but yours was more serious. I didn’t know how serious until several days later. I was wheeled back into my room with Izzy, while the doctors and nurses worked on you. Daddy stayed with you, but didn’t want to tell me anything so as not to worry me. So when you were finally delivered back to my room, I had no idea that there had been any extraordinary issues. Here are the notes:

NICU called to delivery due to twin gestation. Twin “B” with good cry and tone at delivery. Brought to warmer. Dried and stimulated. HR >100. Infant apneic (in layman’s terms, “suspention of breathing”). Delee suctioned to mouth and stomach for 2 milliliters of clear fluid. Infant stimulated but remained apneic. PPV (positive pressure ventilations) started at ~1.5 minutes of age with settings of 20/5 and initially room air started but oxygen was quickly increased to 30% based on pulse oximetry in the 60’s. Oxygen saturations improved to 75-85%. Infant with spontaneous onset of respirations at 5 minutes of age. Infant weaned to face-mask CPAP for 30 seconds and then to room air. Infant remained with regular respirations but oxygen saturations would dip to the mid 80’s in room. Infant given 30% blow-by oxygen at 22 minutes of age due to oxygen saturations in the 80’s. Oxygen discontinued at 25 minutes of ahe and infant’s oxygen saturations remained in the 90’s in room air for several minutes.

So there was that. Scary. We soon discovered that you had acid reflux, which meant you were in a lot of pain after eating. It was very difficult to helplessly watch you struggle, and after a doctor visit, several nurse calls, and a variety of medications, we found relief for you. Eventually you outgrew the reflux, but during that time we couldn’t go too many places comfortably with you. If we were going to be gone long enough that you needed to eat, we might as well stay home. It was a process to burp you and get you comfortable again, and you made quite a mess with spit up. With your twin sister and toddler sister also needing attention, it was just too much to handle in public. Your daddy and I would take turns for middle of the night feedings, and in the beginning you two slept in the swing or rock and plays next to the bed. You usually took a lot more time to feed because of the burping/spitting up/being in pain, so we would try to switch off with you every other night. And then I started to notice that you weren’t making eye contact…

When you were about 3 months old, I noticed that your eyes would “scan” the room, or seem to shake. You weren’t making eye contact with people or toys, and your gaze wouldn’t “follow” a toy we held in front of you. I contacted the pediatrician and we were referred to an eye specialist. You have a condition called nystagmus, which means you have uncontrolled eye movements. I was really worried because for some people with nystagmus, they can never drive or need surgery to correct the muscles. The verdict was to wait and see with follow up appointments every 6 months. I started taking you to a cranial sacral therapist in hopes that it would help. While your daddy was not convinced in its healing properties, I was willing to try anything. It is hard to say if it was the therapy or just time itself that lessened your nystagmus. You started making eye contact and reaching for toys, all to our great relief. You hit milestones within days of Izzy, if not before her! While your jerky/roving eye movements are still apparent, they have decreased in severity and have not seemed to affect your motor skills. It is still a waiting game with the eye doctor, and we won’t know how well you can see until you’re able to identify letters on a screen. Until then, I’ll continue to take you in twice a year.

I will oftentimes tell you that you are crazy because you get into everything. You climb on everything, stick your hands in everything, eat everything, all the while laughing because you know you’re not supposed to be doing it. You are also very accident prone, and I attribute that to your daredevil-ish and fearless attitude. I sometimes wonder if you actually get hurt more often , or if it just seems that way because you make a bigger deal of it. You and Izzy could endure the same injury and she would maybe complain a little and move on. But you would scream bloody murder and let everyone within 5 miles know that you fell down/bumped your head/tripped. We have a water table in the backyard that you like to climb into and stand in, then look up at me and laugh. On the other hand, if I turn the sprinkler on so you all can run in it (which you never do), Izzy will cry because she’s terrified. When I have taken you to the pool or the lake, you’ll walk right in without any sense of danger. You’ll try to run, fall (because who can run in water?), then laugh even if your face got in the water. Izzy will cling to me like a leech at the pool, but at the lake she will venture to the shoreline and play with the sand toys. I have to keep my eyes on you at all times, which is hard to do with two other young children running around. You’ve definitely been my most challenging child so far, but I’ve learned a lot from you.

You’ve started to get more snuggly recently, which is nice. As a baby, you didn’t particularly enjoy being rocked or prolonging the bedtime process. You go through phases where you are fiercely independent,  and other times it’s like you want to crawl back inside my uterus (no can do). You LOVE, and I mean L-O-V-E your pacifier and bottle. I have had the hardest time weaning you from the bottle, but it calms you down and makes you happy. I have tried to put water in it, but that pisses you off. It must have milk in it. You also have a bunny lovey that you’ve become attached to…so that’s three things. See what I mean about being needy? Only kidding.

You’re not as advanced as Izzy on the talking, but you’re picking up more and more words. Your most recent development is “cracker”. You keep me on my toes, that’s for sure. And I have a sneaking suspicion that you always will.

I love you, Grace Emelia.