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Team Paddy Power

For the last few years I have supported my friends’ Team Mackrelita in their fundraising efforts for the March of Dimes. Little did I know that one day my immediate family would be using the services provided by the March of Dimes in the Christiana Hospital NICU.

When Kevin Paddy was born fourteen weeks early a good friend suggested I have my family get in contact with the local March of Dimes coordinator. And I upped my involvement in MOD’s March for Babies by joining Team Mackrelita as a walker. Through generous donations from our family members, friends, colleagues and matching corporate donations our team took top honors in fundraising for the State of Delaware, over $13,000!

This year, Aly, Pat and I started Team Paddy Power and we are looking to give Team Mackrelita some serious, good-natured and fun competition for the fundraising crown!

To kick-off our efforts, we decided to host “Team Paddy Power’s Pancake Breakfast” on Sunday, March 4th. Our family loves this date as it is the only day of the year to give a command March Forth!

Our total fundraising goal was $10 for each day that Paddy was in the NICU – 128 days x $10 = $1,280.

Hosting a pancake breakfast sounds simple, right? Plan menu, go shopping, make pancakes, have drinks available. Well when you get the Quinn girls involved it isn’t. We chose to offer more on the menu besides just pancakes – quite a bit more…sausage, bacon, hash browns, scrambled eggs, coffee, juice, milk, mimosa and bloody mary’s. We also decided to have a kids’ game plus a baked goods table filled with cookies and homemade Irish Soda Bread. And don’t forget the decorations! Balloons, coordinated table cloths, novelty hats, and display tables educating about the March for Babies Campaign including the various size clothes, diapers, ID bands that Paddy used!

The day before the event, we setup in Aly’s house to bake, cook and finalize plans. Her kitchen will never be the same! Pat must have known what chaos was pending as he took Paddy to NY for a visit with his mother. Smart Man!

That evening we ran up to the VFW Hall-Burke Post 5447, where we were holding the event to begin our setup and we were pleasantly surprised as we had many volunteers from the Post help us cover the tables, blow up balloons with candy inside for the game and make napkin rolls in addition to showing us how to work the kitchen appliances. (They were industrial appliances – not your normal kitchen grade – so we did need some instruction.)

The day of Team Paddy Power’s Pancake Breakfast dawned way too early but we got ourselves moving up to the Post to finish the cooking, decorating and setup. A big thanks to our dad for manning the door, the game and the baked goods table; to our Aunt Patty, Uncle Tommy and Mom for all the hard work in the kitchen; to Nancy & RJ at Kool Beans for the great balloon centerpieces and early morning delivery; to Jen and Pat for their multiple runs to the grocery store as we ran out of eggs and bacon; to everyone who helped in the cleanup afterwards and especially to all who came on the day or made donations in lieu of coming.

After many hours of planning, prep work and execution, Aly and I reconvened the night after the event to take stock of the day. While we have some adjustments to make in our food estimates (more eggs and bacon!) we raised over $1,600 which blew away our goal of $1,280!

We are in the midst of planning our next fundraising event – Team Paddy Power’s Wine Tasting at Penss Woods Winery – for Friday, April 13th. At this point, we are keeping it simple…$25 entry fee will give you 5 tasting tickets, a Penns Woods Winery tasting glass and nibbles. But again, it’s the Quinn Girls so I’m sure we’ll add something to add a bit more pizzazz! Our new goal is to raise $20 for every day Paddy was in the NICU: $20 x 128 days = $2,560.

Wine Tasting Details

In addition, the New Castle County March for Babies
is scheduled for 10:00 am on Saturday, April 29th at the University of Delaware’s Main Campus. Please consider joining our team – come out and walk with us!

Our campaign wrap up is also in the works. We hope to hold a Post-Walk Recovery event at Dead Presidents in mid-late May.

We’ll post updates on Team Paddy Power’s progress and upcoming events. Once again we’re extremely grateful for all the support we’ve received so far from our friends, family and local community for Team Paddy Power, for Paddy himself, and for Aly and Pat during a challenging first year as micro-preemie parents. The best way our family can show its gratitude is by paying it forward and we look forward to doing just that over the next few months.

-Heather

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April 11, 2012 at 8:03 am Leave a comment

I Diapered My Cat

Changing Paddy’s diaper has become…challenging.

Standing between each phase of the diaper change to select a new toy and/or gnaw on the shelf…

Grabbing handfuls of diapers to fling around and/or eat…

I was exchanging diapering war stories with some of my mommy friends yesterday when it occurred to me that it would probably be easier to put a diaper on my cat than to change Paddy.

It was!

-Aly

March 7, 2012 at 10:00 am 5 comments

How’s the Baby Doing? (A Kevin Paddy Update)

I’ve been meaning to post an update on Paddy’s health for awhile but I held off until we finished the latest round of quarterly doctor and specialist appointments. Last week we had our NICU follow-up clinic (also called Child Watch), the last appointment for this cycle so it’s time for an update.

February 2011

Last year while Paddy was in the NICU I kept an online journal to update family and friends. This is an excerpt from one year ago this week:

More eating and growing this week – Kevin is now 1780 grams or 3lbs, 15oz. He is gaining more than an ounce a day! His feedings are being increased to meet his current caloric needs and encourage him to gain additional weight.

Kevin also needed to be intubated twice this week as his breathing tube became dislodged. While the doctors are pleased with his weight gain, he still has a long way to go on his lung issues. He had another eye exam on Wednesday and his eyes continue to be normal for a premature baby.

[Note – I’ve given up on calling him Kevin. While Kevin is his real first name; he’s fairly universally called Paddy so from this point forward I am referring to him online as we do in real life – Paddy.]

February 2012

Today, at 14 months old, Paddy is about 27″ long and weighs 15 pounds (as of yesterday’s weight check). Overall he’s doing great – he looks good, just small and skinny but he has so much energy and is so happy that most casual observers don’t notice that he’s small for his age. He is up-to-date with all his vaccines, he gets a dose of Synagis (to ward off RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, a condition that can be seriously and even deadly in young high risk children) every 28 days and his 12 month blood work was normal.

Cognitive and Emotional – So far, cognitively and emotionally he’s perfect – no signs of any delays or issues. Paddy is a people charmer – from the Head of Neonatology to the super market cashier to the entire staff of the FBI’s New York City office (during a holiday family open house), he wins them all over with his bright smile. He is a bit confused about proper greetings so right now he blows raspberries – his way of saying “Hello!”.

Physical – Physically he’s a bit delayed – he hates being on his belly and is not crawling but he’s finger-walking everywhere – to the point where his physical therapist told us recently to get a walker. Not something she’s ever said to another patient’s family but even she’s concluded that Paddy has no interest in anything but walking and 24/7 finger walking was killing our backs. He has mild torticollis still, can’t turn his head all the way to the left but again – not anything a casual observer would notice and we’re working on it with PT and exercise.

Failure to Thrive The real issue continues to be Failure to Thrive. Paddy is so active that he simply burns off any extra calories we’re able to get into him. In mid-January we started transitioning him from Neosure at a 26 calorie recipe to Pediasure which is 30 calories per ounce. He loves the Pediasure but disappointingly has not gained any weight since switching to mostly Pediasure. He’s followed still by a team of specialists – Nutrition, Gastroenterology, Pulmonolgy in addition to the NICU team, his regular pediatrician and his therapist.

The FTT is probably a combination of several things – he still has delayed gastric emptying so he only drinks three ounces at a time, he’s so physically active he’s burning off all the extra calories and he has Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) so he works harder to breath than a baby without BPD and that is also contributing to burning calories. At this point, he’s gaining just enough to avoid a Gatrostomy Tube (G-Tube).

Feeding Issues – Paddy also isn’t eating solids. He did a barium swallow in November in the hopes that it would not show any signs of aspiration and we would be cleared to add oils to his bottles to beef him up a bit. Unfortunately the study show some infringement on his airways – not aspiration exactly but enough to scare all the specialists off the oils plan. It also earned him a spot of the wait list for Feeding Therapy – which begins tomorrow. In the meantime, he eats Level 2 baby purees, no solids yet and his nutritionist is fine with keeping him on the Level 2 purees until he is one year adjusted (mid-March).

Illness In November Paddy had a virus – it may have been RSV but we’ll never know since our pediatrician’s office didn’t test for it. They said the treatment course was the same regardless of the virus specifics so why test. It frustrated me that the pediatrician did not test for RSV as we get very few black and white answers with Paddy so just do the stupid test so that I get a rare straightforward answer. But oh well. The upshot is that Paddy is on a nebulizer treatment for the rest of the winter – until April at least although his Pulmonologist is fine with him being on the nebulizer indefinitely.

Another pulmonology item – Paddy is still showing physical signs of retraction and the associated flaring. His physical therapist actually pointed it out to us and we brought it to the attention of his pulmonologist in January. Nothing to be concerned about, his doctors are keeping an eye on it and we’ve been told he’ll continue to grow new lung tissue up until five years old so we hope that will address any lingering lung issues.

Normal Baby Development Paddy has four teeth on the top and two on the bottom with another bottom two just breaking through the surface. He’s a very good teether – to the point where I didn’t even notice his first two teeth had broken through – my mom had to point it out to me.

He’s also learned to pull himself up to a stand this past week. He’s still sleeping in the Pack N Play next to our bed so we’re now greeted each morning by a standing smiling, happy baby. He loves baths and gets them daily at my mom’s (sometimes twice a day).

Paddy waves “bye bye”, he gives the occasional air kiss and he likes to blow raspberries while strumming his bottom lip (thanks to my dad for teaching him that move). He’s enamored with our dog and cats and frequently exchanges wet kisses with the dog. The cats have learned to move quickly when Paddy heads their direction. We’re still working on the “gentle” and “play nice” commands (with Paddy, the pets understand both commands).

-Aly

February 14, 2012 at 8:04 am Leave a comment

I Have a Confession…

I’ve been cheating on this blog. With another blog. It started out as just one post. To mark World Prematurity Day but I couldn’t stop with just one post.

Kevin chewing on his custom Beata Dirycz hat. She's a fellow preemie mom and made this for our Secret Santa exchange

Actually, I’m very happy to contribute to the other blog – it is a Preemie Mom Resource blog but it is full of information all parents and relatives can use for preemies and even for full term babies. Here’s their mission statement of sorts:

The idea for this blog came after a group of us had been on TheBump.com’s preemies board for several months. We noticed that the same thoughts, concerns, and questions were being wondered and asked by mothers across the country but there wasn’t a collective site to turn to. While there are certainly fantastic resources for preemie parents out there (we have those listed, too) we wanted to see one place address all areas of premature concern.

To mark World Prematurity Day many of my preemie mom friends wrote their birth story for the blog. I condensed down my four posts about the end of my pregnancy and Kevin’s arrival into one post – so this isn’t new ground but you may find some of the other stories interesting. These women have become my friends over the past year and while I’m so grateful to have them in my life, my heart sinks every time a new preemie mom joins the club.

There is also a very useful section on the blog titled What Can I Do For My Friend?. If you know of someone who just had a preemie this section contains lots of ideas real preemie moms found helpful and some friendly advice and what to say/what to not say to a preemie parent.

I’ll be cross-posting my other contributions here in the coming weeks – new topics that I haven’t discussed to much on KateAndAly.

-Aly

January 23, 2012 at 9:39 am 1 comment

Baking Fools: Attempting the Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls

Over the holidays I decided to get domestic. I am not a follower of the Pioneer Woman website or her cooking show – but somewhere online I stumbled across her cinnamon roll recipe and had this completely irrational need to bake these rolls.

For those who don’t know me, I don’t cook. I don’t bake. I just – don’t. This need to make cinnamon rolls was a bit of a departure for me. But I was coming off the high of cooking a (more or less) successful Thanksgiving Dinner so I thought mixing up a batch of cinnamon rolls would be a breeze.

In early December, with this idea already in mind, I bought the disposable pans. And then I got distracted with work, putting up the tree, Kevin’s birthday and other things and put the cinnamon roll making on the backburner until a few days before Christmas. But the reality that time had run out to make eight tins of rolls just wasn’t hitting home. I could not shake a need to bake cinnamon rolls. Luckily Heather has indulged my particular form of hospitality crazy before – see Katie’s shower and our Halloween party – and she gamely offered to buy the baking supplies – including the key ingredient – yeast.

Meanwhile as Heather was shopping we were both processing the recipe’s need for yeast and trying to recall the last time we worked with a recipe involving yeast. It was slowly dawning on us that yeast = time. Time is not something we had in abundance. I was leaving early the next morning for Christmas Eve in New York and, unless we wanted to stay up to the early hours of the morning baking, we needed to come up with another plan. As luck would have it my husband suggested that he take the baby and drive up and I could relax and take the train later that afternoon to join them.

The baking was back on!

Whenever I’m cooking I forget the need to test out a recipe before using it for real. There’s a show called America’s Test Kitchen for a reason – even professionals need to give a recipe a whirl before producing it for the consumption of others. But we didn’t have time for a trial run and it took us a few tins to get the right level of buttery ooze to dough ratio sorted out. We also learned to NOT use a basting brush to distribute the butter. My basting brush was fairly old and actually shed some bristles into the rolls (I think/hope that we got all the bristles out). Gross!

My lack of confidence in the kitchen is balanced by Heather’s “Hey, we’ll make it work” attitude. She even brought the ingredients for Chocolate Peanut Crisp Balls for us to make while our dough was rising.

The recipe ended up being easier to make than I expected. It’s a bit time consuming but nothing was too complicated for a beginner. And the cinnamon rolls were amazing. We didn’t get a picture of them the day after we made them but just imagine all that icing goodness soaked into the rolls – yum!

Heather and I had so much fun working together in the kitchen, laughing at totally stupid stuff and – the best part – taking tins of delicious cinnamon goodness (and chocolate peanut butter balls) to family and friends. We are definitely going to make baking part of our holiday preparations in the coming years – we’ll just do it a few weeks ahead of time rather than Christmas Eve Eve.

-Aly

January 17, 2012 at 9:37 am Leave a comment

First Birthday, Plan B

My son celebrated his first birthday in mid-December. We kept the celebrations fairly low key. I took a vacation day on his actual birthday and we spent the day playing at home. I’m planning to take off every year for his birthday until he starts school

The weekend after his birthday we’d planned to take him on a hayride at Linvilla Orchards. But I messed up the time and we arrived just after the hayride departed.

On to Plan B. We returned to Wilmington and regrouped at Dead Presidents. Yes, we had our baby’s first birthday in a bar (sorry to those who don’t like babies in bars. My family has a strict pro-babies in bars stance)! We had a quiet dinner with friends, their 18 month-old daughter, Aunt Heather and my mother-in-law (plus a couple cousin cameos as they were working there at the time).

At the end of dinner we brought out the cake:

Put Kevin in his hat and bib that I’d ordered from Dainty Coutre

Sang Happy Birthday and let him enjoy some icing. He wasn’t a fan, although he loved the icing on Nora’s cake. Shhh, don’t tell his nutritionist.

Like I said it was a low key event but full of love.

– Aly

PS – And a special thank you to my sisters for the birthday messages they posted in December. Heather’s Birthday Post. Katie’s Birthday Post.

January 12, 2012 at 7:31 am Leave a comment

And We’re Back!

Thank you for bearing with us while we took a little break. It was much needed and we’re refreshed and ready to go in 2012.

20120110-141717.jpg

So stayed tuned as this should be an interesting year!

January 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm Leave a comment

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