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  • Renee Burns

December, 2020- Holiday celebrations in the age of COVID

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

Happy Holidays from the Burns Party of 4!

It's been a bit over a month since our last update- and in that past month we've celebrated the girls turning 1, had some health scares with extended family (and not-so-extended in Zach needing stitches in his thumb after cutting it on a can of beans of all things!), hosted our 1st Thanksgiving, took our girls on their 1st hunt for the perfect Christmas tree, lit Hanukkah candles, took them ice skating on the lake where our cabin is, and have generally enjoyed being able to spend more time outdoors as a family this year compared to last year when we were just starting to learn the flow of NICU life.

We have also experienced an election, a vaccine, and a continued flurry of unrest as COVID seems to divide our nation more and more. This post is about our girls current health, but I feel compelled to urge all who are reading this to please use their best judgement during the holiday season when it comes to travel/gatherings, etc... We have 1st hand experience with ventilators, and the intubation/extubation process as we lived it pre-COVID in the NICU when the girls were 1st born. We couldn't hold our daughters when they were born due to the fragility of them needing to have machines breathing for them. We were at both our daughters bedsides numerous times when they needed to be "bagged"- when their oxygen levels would drop too low on the CPAP machine and the nurses had to physically push air into their lungs with a bag. The experience of watching our daughters go from pink, to purple, to blue, to grey is something I do not wish on anyone. Recently, we also experienced having a loved one hospitalized, though not COVID related, no visitors were allowed due to COVID, which of course was just as difficult for family members kept on the outside of the hospital walls.

So, please, if not for yourself, please, please think about those of us who still need to live very much in isolation due to the current state of affairs. We know soooo many of you have your own stories of hardship, and for us right now- it is the difficulty of heading into our daughters 2nd holiday season and still not be able to celebrate them in person with friends and family.


We persisted! And here we are here! We are listening to Christmas music, we're getting outside, we're making cookies, we're learning how to walk?!! Yup....our little Eloise took her 1st steps this past week. She looks like a little drunk alien with her big head and tiny arms flailing about. She's almost 18 lbs., is all head, and has endless energy. When she is not sleeping she is crawling, climbing, rolling, standing and now WALKING. She LOVES to bang anything near her together to make sound, loves being tossed up in the air, skating fast in her dads arms, and letting her dog lick her hands when she's in her high chair. She's eating purees, avocados, eggs, bananas. yogurt, and even tried some Thanksgiving dinner (quasi-successfully). There's not much she has said "NO" to thus far. She's gotten her 2 bottom teeth, and tufts of blonde-ish hair are starting to come in. She's very curious, patient with her sister (who climbs all over her), chatty, and has figured out how to snort- which appears to bring her much joy.

Little Vivian, aka Vivvy-Lou, is ALWAYS smiling. She has for sure figured out when mom and dad are taking pictures of her because I swear she stops what she's doing to strike a pose. She, too, is very busy. She crawls, climbs, rolls, and is working on standing. She is very sweet, and has even been seen attempting to give her sister kisses when she is crying. She will scoot right over to her, get as close as possible and open-mouth plant her lips on her sisters face. It's pretty much the most adorable thing ever. She loves books, crawling under tunnels and around obstacle courses that her dad makes for her, and also going fast on the ice. She is eating everything her sister is, and is working on transitioning to being able to drink liquids. She is still aspirating, so is not cleared to drink anything liquid. She will have another swallow study in a few weeks. She is working with her speech therapist and her physical therapist to practice her skill to be able to swallow. The day that we'll be able to hand her a sippy cup of water/milk will be quite the celebration! She is almost 17 lbs., has darker hair than her sister, and is only an inch shorter. The older they get, the less the 1 pound difference is many of us can attest to these day ;-)

Overall as a family of four now, we are continuing to work to find things to celebrate. Whether it's a healthy burp or a 1st step, Zach and I are trying our best to keep our eyes open, appreciate each day (as groundhog day-ish as it's getting around here), and know that this will not last forever. We WILL get to see you in person again some day!! Changed, though very much the same (see "Zach gets stitches" above), we very much look forward to it.

We wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday- for us, we're like "what a weird way to introduce our children to the holidays" here's hoping to more boring old traditional holidays in 2021!!!

XOXO- With love and gratitude



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