Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Three Pounds!!!!!

Last night Ellie weighed in at 3 pounds, 0.2 ounces!!! HURRAY!!!! I could hardly believe by eyes when I saw the number on the scale. Praise the Lord!!!!!! Thank you so much for all of your prayers for her growth!

Although many of you commented on the almost three pound mark in response to my last blog post, I hadn't read any of the comments before they weighed her last night and for some reason it hadn't registered in my mind that 15.6 ounces is so close to 1 pound. I can hardly believe she's gotten that big. We'll see tonight if she maybe drops back under since she's so close to the 3 pound mark, but it's so good to see her at the point of being ready to be at another pound.

Yesterday when we saw her, Kit and I were both commenting on how much bigger she seemed. Maybe she heard us and got the hint to make sure she gained enough to hit 3 pounds. We keep hearing from the nurses and respiratory therapists that she thinks she's older than she is.

On another exciting note, the doctor said today that Ellie is doing "fantastic." He said that her heart murmur has been lessening, and he expects to see the ductus close on it's own without medication or surgery within 1-2 weeks. Please join us in praying hard that this happens. This closing should also be the thing that allows her to go off of her CPAP and will allow her to just have growing and learning to "suck, swallow and breath" so that she can eat on her list of to dos.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Rootin' & Tootin'

Like the post title? Kit thought of that one. Here are the stories that go along with it...


Last night was perhaps one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Ellie's nurse for the past three nights has been this great gal, Lorna. We confirmed last night that Lorna has been a nurse as long as Kit has been alive (since 1979). She's great. And she'd noticed that Ellie was clearly trying to "root" when she was awake and would suck on Lorna's gloved finger quite excitedly. So she had the day nurse yesterday ask the doctor if it was okay for Ellie to come off CPAP for 15-20 minutes to try "rooting" on mommy. The doctor approved so that's what we got to do last night.

She only latched on a few times and only briefly, but she did a great job off CPAP (until she got hiccups at the end) and she was definitely exploring and figuring things out. It'll be a while before she gets the whole "suck, swallow, breath" thing down, which is when she'll be able to fully breastfeed but for now we're working on her suckling skills.


I'm sure Elise will love me for telling this story when she's older, but she is a super regular little gal. And we love it! She only really fusses when anyone is doing anything to her (i.e. changing her diaper, taking her temperature, doing her "facial," etc.) and then when she's working on clearing her bowels. It's precious because she'll fuss, kick and flail her arms a bit, and then you'll hear the most adorable little toot come from her little bum.


In other news, as you can see from the weight tracker sidebar, Ellie's up to 2 pounds, 15.6 ounces as of last night! When we went to see her today, I could definitely see how much bigger she is now than a couple of weeks ago. And she's such a feisty little gal that everyone at the hospital says we're going to have quite a fun time when she comes home.

Also, Kit checked with the doctor yesterday on what their current estimated time frame for Ellie to come home. He said that we're currently looking at 5 1/2 weeks in a best case scenario. Please continue to pray for the Lord's will in our little girl's life and for her growth.


Today Kit ended up taking me to the ER because I am having chest pains. When I called my OB about them yesterday, he suggested trying some antacid since I didn't have symptoms of anything super serious but said to go to the ER if they didn't help. They didn't really help, and I had a really difficult time sleeping last night. So this morning Kit called the doctor's office again, and they said to go to the ER to ensure it wasn't a pulmonary embolism.

So we went into the ER, and after having an IV put in, blood drawn and a chest x-ray, I was diagnosed with "chest wall pain." The blood test that can help in deciding whether a CT is needed to check for pulmonary embolism was negative despite the fact that post-surgical patients (like me) often have relatively high results (I didn't) so the nurse practitioner in the ER said that we can be fairly sure that I don't have an embolism. So I'm now on 600 mg of ibuprofen every eight hours. It seems to be helping a little, and we're glad to know that it doesn't appear to be anything too serious. Praise the Lord!


Oh, and sorry that I didn't post yesterday. We went to most of church last night before going to the hospital, and it's right during my normal blogging time. Now on to some pictures of our beautiful little girl...

Our little cutie looking at daddy.

Rooting on Lorna's finger.

Rooting on daddy's finger.

Her beautiful little face with nothing but her feeding tube on after a "facial."

Wearing her pink socks with white flowers and a cute hospital-issue onesie.

Wearing her very own cute pink onesie and showing off her great kicking skills. (Aren't those toes precious?!?)

Another shot of her in her cute outfit.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Three Week Birthday, Elise!

That's right, our baby girl is three weeks old tonight!

She's now on every two hour feedings - yippee - at 15 cc per feeding. Her nurse was doing the feeding over a 30 minute period today, and Ellie seemed to be tolerating it well so far.

Otherwise, things are pretty much the same. She was up to 2 pounds, 13.6 ounces last night. Please continue to pray for Ellie's growth.

I just finished buying Kit's birthday present online, which I had planned to buy the weekend Ellie was born. That's why there aren't any pictures on this post because I'm out of time for right now. More photos tomorrow!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Treat for Daddy

This afternoon Kit braved Elise's diaper change all on his own. (Usually a nurse or I stand on the other side of the bed in case he needs help.) Ellie was wearing a hospital onesie so I had explained to him how to fold it back up under her back nice and high just in case she was really poopy or pooped while he was changing her to ensure that the onesie didn't get dirty. Kit says in looking back, "I should have taken that as a sign."

I was washing my pump parts in the sink with my back to Kit and Ellie. Kit was sweet talking Ellie trying to convince her to be good for the diaper change. All of a sudden I heard this loud squirt and Kit said, "Aw, crap."

"Are you okay?" I asked.

The nurse peeked in from the bed next to Ellie's and laughed. "That's what she did to me yesterday except I had gloves on."

"I'm going to need your help," Kit said to me.

I came over to the bedside to see poop all over both Ellie's dirty and clean diapers, her receiving blanket, her quilt, the bottom wall of her bed and Kit's hands. Hehe.

While Kit washed his hands, I got Ellie cleaned up, and together we put a clean diaper on her. She calmed right down and was ready for her cuddle with daddy. Kit on the other hand was ready for a nap (or at least some video game playing) to relieve the stress he had just encountered. Having a baby can be so fun.

As for Ellie's health, she weighed in at 2 pounds, 13.2 ounces last night. Today the doctor increased her calories to 27 per ounce. She's still getting 7 cc of milk every hour via continuous drip feeding since they don't want to increase her fluid intake too much with her CPAP on as it can cause problems.

Last night Kit and I went to a NICU parents group meeting. The meeting happens once a month and is led by former NICU parents. It was a good chance to meet some other families and to hear their stories. We arrived a little late so we missed the story of the parents of the little boy next to Ellie; however, we did get to talk with them more after and found out they live pretty close to us.

It's hard to explain what it's like being a NICU parent, especially to be one who has a baby there for more than just a few days or even a couple of weeks. It's a very difficult and vulnerable place to be. I didn't realize until last night the fullness of the strangeness. I've always been a pretty independent person and haven't ever been in a place like this where I basically can't do anything but rely on the Lord and on other people. (It's ironic what the Lord does when you ask Him for wisdom and to teach you to trust fully in Him - a prayer Kit and I had been praying more fervently in the weeks leading up to Ellie's birth.) It was nice last night to be with a group of people in the same place of difficulty and vulnerability and to hear that others are going through the same things we are.

Showing off her cute pink flower socks last night. She loves to kick her feet out of the end of her blankets.

Reaching her hands out of her blanket. Another favorite position.

Looking cute with her hands next to her face.

Grabbing at her cheek.

Looking bright eyed and adorable. This photo really shows how much the CPAP hat is stretching her little head.

Looking cute in her hospital-issue onesie today.

She kicked up her legs just as I took this picture. She wanted to show you all her amazing kicking skills.

Her beautiful face after her facial today.

Cuddling up with daddy.

Enjoying her pacifier.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Elise continues to remain stable. Hurray! Her weight was down a bit last night to 2 pounds, 12.6 ounces. Otherwise, they're keeping her continuous feedings at 7 cc per hour with the milk fortified to 24 calories, they're keeping her CPAP at the new lower pressure of 4, she poops with pretty much every diaper (and they're good poops in both size and color), her heart murmur remains the same, and she's not symptomatic of any problems.

Kit asked the doctor today whether they will be doing a head ultrasound this week like they thought they might two weeks ago. He said that they aren't planning on doing one at this point since she's not symptomatic of further hemorrhaging. They will do at least one more before she's discharged but don't have a reason to do one right away.

We're really at the point where she just needs time to continue to grow and develop. So we're taking things one day at a time. She continues to be as feisty as ever and has built herself quite the reputation as such. She and Kit are cuddling up every afternoon, and she and I are kangarooing every evening. She seems to really enjoy these times, and I've found she opens her eyes most when daddy talks to her. She's our precious little gift from God. We are so thankful for her little life and for all the joy she has brought us already.

Thank you for your prayers for Ellie's continued health and growth.

(Sorry, no new photos to post...we'll take some tonight.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lower Pressure

Today's call from the doctor brought the good news that they've lowered the pressure on Elise's CPAP. She's down from a five to a four. This has to do with the number of centimeters of water in which the CPAP bubbles...at some point I'll probably want to figure out how the CPAP works. But for now, we're just praising God that she continues to grow stronger each day.

She was up to 2 pounds, 13.6 ounces last night. They weighed her right after we changed the biggest poopy diaper we've (Kit and I) seen her have so the gain couldn't have entirely been her just needing to have a bowel movement. Again, we're am praising the Lord that she is growing!

This morning her nurse, Merissa, gave her a little "sponge" (paper towel) bath - she loved it again (guess she really does appreciate being clean).

A nurse sent home one of the blankets Ellie has used for Coco to get used to her smell. His response was quite funny. We won't let him actually keep the blanket for long periods of time because he seems to want to gnaw at it (don't worry - he won't gnaw on Ellie), but it was quite humorous to see his initial response. And guess what?!? We captured it on video for you. Enjoy!

This afternoon we got to change her blanket and then wrap her up into an Ellie burrito. Not bad for our first blanket change. (You might notice though that she's longer than usual...we didn't put her feet up by her belly because she was enjoying stretching out.)


From March 25, 2009

Click on the picture above or the link below the picture to watch the video. (And make sure to have your volume turned up to hear Coco's snorts.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back on CPAP

As of late yesterday afternoon, Elise is back on her CPAP. I couldn't be more glad to have her back on it. She seemed to have much more stable oxygen levels both last night and today. Also as of late yesterday afternoon, she's now fully getting all of her nutrients from my milk!! Praise the Lord for that! They are still fortifying my milk to make it 24 calories, but 20 of those calories come straight from my milk.

Now that she doesn't have any IV nutrients, she also had her percutaneous line removed! So at this point she only has the following items attached to her:
- feeding tube
- CPAP (which includes two tubes and one wire)
- "leads" to monitor temp, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen levels (which includes five wires attached to various places on her belly and under one arm and one wire strapped to her foot)

The "leads" (not sure of the official term for these) are something she'll have on until she goes home so those don't really count as something to be working toward removal of. At this point, it's just the feeding tube and the CPAP that are items she'll need to grow to live without.

They weighed her after we left last night since they didn't do her "facial" at her usual time because she had just gone back on CPAP. I forgot to get her weight this afternoon, but I do know the doctor said that it was a down a bit. I'll post it to the sidebar once we know what it was.

Also, the results of the nose culture are in. The only bugs that grew in the petri dish are those normally found in the stomach. So it looks like she had some reflux that went into her nose and decided to camp out, causing the pustule. So no infection! The Lord is so good, and we are so thankful for His healing and growing of our little girl.

Family time.

Another family portrait.

Daddy/daughter cuddles.

They put my milk in a syringe wrapped in a plastic glove and then put it in a cup of water to warm it. Two nights ago Ellie's nurse Christine drew this picture of a pug on her cup.

Ellie's room.

Ellie room again.

And one last shot of Ellie's room (with her and daddy as well).

Getting comfy for a good nap.

Stretching her little arms.

Ready for bed.

Back on CPAP.

Kangarooing last night.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Our Little Gnome

Last night Elise's nurse, Christine, brought her an adorable pink crocheted hat to wear. She looks like a little gnome in it. Kit was joking about bringing in a small white beard to complete the look. By the time we get back to see her tonight, however, she will be back on her CPAP with her plain tan hat. She was definitely enjoying sporting the pink hat though, especially with her pair of bright pink socks.

According to the doctor, Ellie's still doing well. They are putting her back on CPAP, but as I said yesterday, we're actually glad that she'll have that more consistent support. The last couple of days she's been "forgetting" to breath, which is even more stressful than the fluctuation in her oxygen levels. It's typical in premature babies and not anything to be really worried about at this time, but it's hard seeing her needing to be stimulated (by moving and rubbing her) in order to remember to breath.

Last night she was up to 2 pounds, 13.3 ounces. She measured at 15 inches long. The decrease is due to her having been off of the CPAP and her head starting to go back to its normal shape. Today she's up to 7 cc per hour on her continuous feeding. She still had her fluids when we visited this afternoon, but I believe those will be discontinued soon.

We have some good news on the house. We have some folks who are interested in buying it. Please continue to pray for the sale of our home as it would free us up a lot if we could sell.

Thank you for your continued prayer and support. We greatly appreciate you all.

I'll end with two cute stories. Two nights ago Elise was lying on her stomach, and when the nurse and respiratory therapist came into her room to check on her, she was up on her knees with her bum in the air and had wiggled her way up the bed by a few inches. They said it looked like she was crawling. This morning she was lying on her back and managed to wiggle all the way down her bed (out of her blankets and over the large blanket roll they have under her bum) and had her little feet hanging over the edge of the guard wall at the bottom of her bed. We keep hearing different versions of what a fiesty little girl we have...we're in for quite the adventure with Elise.

Showing of her percutaneous line. She seems most comfy much of the time with her arms stretched out.

Showing off her beautiful eyes.

Cuddling with mommy.

Bright eyes with legs flailing looking at her daddy.

Enjoying her pacifier.

"I'm getting bigger!"

"Hey nurse, what do you think you're doing?"

"Hi dad! Do you like my new pink socks?"

"I love 'em!"

The complete look.

Our little gnome.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Her Own Suite

The NICU Elise is in has a fairly open floor plan with various large, open rooms that have multiple babies in them. We met the director a couple of days ago, and she told us that they plan to have private rooms for everyone in 18 months. We didn't realize how valuable that will be for both babies and families until Ellie got "upgraded" to the small room next to where her bed was. The room has two walls and then two sliding glass door walls. She's in there as a precaution because of her possible infection and because the room was available. While we are now enjoying her (probably brief) stay in this more quiet and private room, please pray for the family whose baby boy was in the room before Elise. We don't know anything about their situation, but I don't believe the room became available for positive reasons.

Today's call from Ellie's doctor brought the news that they increased her continuous feeding yet again today. She's now up to 6.5 cc per hour. And tomorrow they plan to take her off of her IV fluids and remove her percutaneous line. Praise the Lord that she is doing so well and that my milk is providing her all the nutrients she needs (other than of course those extra calories with which they are fortifying the milk).

They haven't received the preliminary results from the swab of her pustule (I think she actually just had one and not more than one like we originally thought); however, she isn't showing any signs of infection and the antibiotic ointment seems to be helping her nose heal. She's still on the nasal cannula, but they plan to put her back on the CPAP tomorrow. While it has been nice to be able to rub her little head and see her little face more (last night and today she didn't have a hat or chin strap on), having her go back on the CPAP will be relieving. The nasal cannula just doesn't provide the consistent oxygen support she needs. Between her times of crying (mainly because of gas/pooping or not being in a position that she likes) and her independent desire to twist her head to escape the cannula and pull, tug and yank at the cannula out of her nose, her levels need to be adjusted quite frequently. And having her monitors beep so frequently during our visits is just a bit stressful.

Guess we didn't get any other photos of the room, but here you can at least see part of her bed and then one of the glass doors.

Here's the safety precaution sign related to her possible infection.

Kangaroo care.

Such a little sweetie.

She loves to cuddle and so do I.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Two Week Birthday, Elise!

Tonight at 9:07pm Elise will officially be two weeks old. Time seems to both be flying and dragging at the same time. Last night while we were waiting to be let in at the NICU (they have shift change just before we arrive so there's usually a small group of parents waiting to get in a little before the change is over) we talked with two of the other couples with babies in the NICU. Ava was born at 32 weeks, and Anthony was born at, I believe, 36 weeks. It was good to spend those few minutes talking with other parents who are in the same place we are right now. We're all so vulnerable that having others there who understand is relieving. Talking with them gave me a little more courage to keep engaging with people while we have those few minutes of waiting every night...I get nervous and don't want to bother anyone so I tend not to say anything.

As you may have already seen on the sidebar, Ellie was up to 2 pounds, 12.4 ounces last night. We can definitely tell she's filling out. Tomorrow night we'll find out how much longer she's gotten.

Today's call from the doctor brought news of a possible infection in Ellie's nose. She has developed small white pustules in her nose that were most likely caused by the CPAP. They sent swabs from her nose off for testing to see if she has an infection; it takes about 72 hours to hear the results. In the meantime, they're putting antibiotic ointment in her nose every few hours (can't remember the exact frequency). They're also now treating her as if she has an infection as a part of routine infection control precautions. So she has a sign on her bed that indicates such, and all of the medical staff are now required to wear special gowns and gloves when working with Ellie. We don't have to wear the protection since she's not actually known to be infectious.

As a result of the pustules, they also took her off of the CPAP and replaced it with a nasal cannula for the time being. The nasal cannula doesn't provide as good of oxygen coverage as the CPAP, but it's keeping her levels up for now. (And for anyone who has watched the show The Pretender, she's looking like a smaller, hairier, much cuter version of Raines.)

They've increased her continuous feeding again so she's up to 6 cc every hour. She's now off of the fat emulsion and just has some form of IV fluids in addition to fortified milk. According to her nurse today, Marissa, they're working to get her to just milk soon.

Last night we brought in a pair of little preemie socks that Kit's mom bought for Ellie. We haven't brought in the clothes she and my mom bought quite yet since I'm a little apprehensive of having her leads covered with clothes (call me overprotective; it's ok - I'm a first time mom with a baby in the NICU so I'm allowed to be nervous). We haven't brought in any blankets either because the nurses have told us that occasionally personal blankets end up with the NICU washing and are never seen by the family again. I'll probably bring in some blankets that are okay to be lost at some point, but I'm not in a huge hurry since they have nice warm blankets in the NICU.

Back to the socks. Ellie's little feet are teensie tiny so they float in the socks, but she seemed to really enjoy having them on and still had them on when we visited her today. Here are photos of our little cutie from last night and this afternoon with her pink striped socks. There's also a video of her showing off her bright eyes and her socks.

Stretching out after long nap with one sock off and one sock on (diddle, diddle, dumpling, my son John - anyone?).

Her precious little face, which we hadn't seen without at least nose tape or her "mustache" attached to for at least a couple of days.

Looking too cute with both her socks on. We got really excited at how cute she was, and then she opened her eyes and kept looking at us.

She can only see at about 6 inches away from her face, and even then it's just shadows. But she was still looking at us quite intently.

Her cute little leg today. You can see in her thigh and toes that she's definitely put on some weight.

Her nasal cannula. Because the cannula doesn't seal like her CPAP does, she technically didn't have to have the chin strap; however, she likes to sleep with her mouth open (like her mom) so they had to put the strap on to keep the oxygen from escaping.

She looks kind of like an adorable little Eskimo.

From March 20, 2009

Click on the picture above or the link below the picture to watch the video.