Friday, July 24, 2009

An Old Familiar Drive

Today was the first day I've driven back to the hospital where Elise spent her first 10 weeks and 5 days in the NICU. I hadn't thought about the emotional impact the trip might have. She had an appointment to meet with the physical therapist who saw her while she was in the NICU for her feeding issues (apnea, pacing, etc.).

As we pulled off on the exit and stopped at the red light before turning, I started to feel tears coming. They didn't fully come, but the sadness of remembering stopping at this light so many times before and wishing it was green so that I could see my baby girl came flooding back. As I drove through the light and through the next light into the hospital grounds, I became angry. Angry that many other parents are making this drive daily to see their little babies. When I pulled in the parking garage and watched the lady in front of me turn the wrong way on the one-way, I swore at her. Bad me, I know. But the parking garage was the place I vented a lot of frustration as I got used to the ins and outs and got more and more annoyed by the people who couldn't seem to figure out how to drive or park in the darn garage. So all that came back when I saw her make that mistake.

I parked next to one of the many poles in the garage. And was careful to note that it was there. I don't think I ever mentioned it, but one day as I was leaving I backed the front left side of our car into one of those poles. I was paying attention but had three empty spots on that side of me so I thought I had plenty of room and was trying to back out quickly as I was parked around a blind corner for anyone trying to find a spot. The car still isn't fixed, but I never notice the damage anyway. (I'm sure Kit does every time he gets in the car...but I'm not observant like that.)

As I got Ellie out of the car, I was so grateful to not be arriving with an empty backseat or one with only a car seat base. And I was again saddened for those parents still driving around like we did for so long without their babies. Walking into the hospital I felt like somehow everyone should know my baby had been in the NICU, despite the fact that I didn't go up to the actual NICU. And I felt strangely naked without my NICU sticker on that indicated to people for so many days and nights why we were there.

We simply walked to Elise's appointment on the other side of the hospital, had the appointment and left. I didn't go up to the NICU. I'm not even sure how we would be able to see any of the nurses since Elise couldn't go in. Maybe someday I'll figure out how to visit them, but today wasn't the day.

Kit had lunch today with Paul, Anthony's dad. They've had lunch a few times since the kids came home. Today the turned around in line to see a mom Kit and I had seen in the NICU but never met. Paul and his wife, Susan, had met this mom. So she joined them for lunch. They talked about how hard it is to go back to the place where we all had to visit our babies. It's nice to have the camaraderie.

Today my friend Lua from the NICU, mom of Roman, also drove back to the hospital and delivered cookies and a letter from the two of us for all the parents. Another mom did this while we were in the NICU, and we appreciated the gesture. So yesterday we got together and Lua baked the cookies while I hole punched the letters and tied them to the Ziploc bags of cookies. If anything, it was therapeutic for us. We hope it helps the parents who are in the NICU now to know they aren't alone.

Ellie's physical therapy appointment went well. We talked about how Ellie's been doing with bottle and breast feeding. Then she listened to Ellie's throat with a stethoscope while she breastfed and then bottle fed. Bottled feeding went well as usual. During breastfeeding, she had some of the troubles she's been having (though not reflux but that's okay). At first Ellie was fussy because she wasn't getting anything, then she got overwhelmed by the let down and was then frazzled by all the milk. The PT said she thought it would help for me to pump for a couple of minutes before nursing so that Ellie gets a fairly consistent flow while she's nursing.

I tried the pump before nursing technique when we got home, and it seemed to work well. I've read about doing this before but hadn't tried it. Until she had the coil placed last week for her PDA, she wasn't having this problem. But maybe her increased energy means she's sucking harder and then overwhelming herself. We'll see how it goes as time progresses.

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Remember these pictures from April 19th?




Today I decided to try on one of those headbands again to see if it might fit...

Can you believe she's gotten so big? It's crazy! (Don't mind the photo quality...all I had handy was my camera phone again.)


This is another of the cute headbands that Trish made for Ellie and the closest I've come to capturing her adorable little smile lately.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We're OK!!

Sorry for the delay in posting! Everything went well with the overnight stay in the hospital, and we brought Ellie home early last Tuesday morning. I've been meaning to post all week and hadn't realized that not posting makes it sound like maybe something happened while we were at the hospital overnight.

Nothing eventful happened other than the dumb pulse oximeter (which measures the oxygen in her blood) coming disconnected from her toe every time she moved so it beeped all night (ranging from soft beeps to major alarming), and I got very little sleep. When a nurse came in around midnight to try to fix it, I asked about strapping it to her foot like they did in the NICU, but she said she thought Ellie's foot was too big. I was too tired to mention they had it around her foot for her procedure so I just continued to be awoken all throughout the night. Around 4am they finally turned the monitor off. You know you look amazing when the first thing the doctor says when he walks in the room is, "Looks like someone didn't get much sleep last night."

Over the course of Tuesday night, Ellie's little voice turned to sounding like she had laryngitis so I called the cardiologist on call at 4am. He said it sounded like possible vocal cord damage from being intubated and had me take Ellie to see her pediatrician on Wednesday. The pediatrician confirmed it doesn't look like anything that won't clear up in 7 to 10 days and said to watch to make sure she's eating and making at least some noise as those could be signs of vocal cord paralysis. So far so good, and Ellie's voice is gradually coming back.

Ellie's energy level is clearly a lot higher now that her heart is working. It hasn't helped her reflux like I had hoped, but there was only a small chance that it would.

Speaking of her reflux, it has unfortunately been getting worse. So yesterday the pediatrician wrote a prescription for the next higher level of reflux medicine. I'm going to get it filled today and hope it starts helping soon. We're back to back arching (though not as bad as with no medication) and Ellie pushing the bottle out of her mouth with her tongue while she's still hungry because she's in pain.

The reflux is also causing problems with breasfeeding as there aren't any good positions that keep her upright enough now that the reflux is stronger. She had been doing really well and only having problems with not being strong enough to get full, which I was hoping the PDA closure would help. But now she's hardly able to stay latched on. So I'm hoping this stronger medicine will help her to be able to stay comfortable while nursing.

With all of this, her weight is still going up! So that's a huge praise as often premature babies continue to struggle with weight gain for a long time. Although she's not on the charts yet in her weight, length and head circumference, she is growing! She was up to 9 pounds, 14 ounces yesterday. And she's 22-1/8 inches. We can hardly believe how big she's gotten. She's now gained over 7 pounds since birth!

With all that was going on with the coil placement, I neglected to mention some exciting news from the day before the coil was placed. Ellie rolled over!! She was on her tummy doing tummy time and wasn't too pleased because she was gassy. She managed to get her little legs underneath her and roll herself over. Unfortunately, Kit was in the other room watching TV, and I had run to put some laundry away (don't worry, Ellie was safe lying on the floor and I was only gone for 30 seconds) so we both missed it! Argh. She hasn't done it since, but we're still watching!

Yesterday Ellie gave me another little surprise. Her bouncy chair has a little pull toy that plays music. I added a couple of rings to the puller so that she could actually reach it should she want to. A couple of times when I've put her hand on the lowest ring, she's been able to pull it to play the music. Yesterday while I was eating lunch she grabbed on and pulled all by herself! Here's a cute video of her right after said achievement. She clearly wasn't impressed with herself.

video


And finally, now that it's been nearly 9 weeks since we brought Elise home, I talked with the pediatrician about taking her out more. The pediatrician said, "By all means, get out!" The two main ways Ellie could get sick are (1) someone touching her and passing along germs or (2) her touching things and then putting her hands in her mouth. Since she's not touching things, we don't have to worry about that at this point, and when we've taken Ellie to doctor appointments and on walks, the sling has seemed to keep people from touching her. So I'm working on nice but assertive phrases to say to people if they do try to touch her and hoping I don't have to use them.

We're so very excited to begin introducing Ellie to friends and family who have not yet met her!! And I'm excited to be able to go out with my baby girl. It's hard to feel like a "real" mom when you never get to go anywhere with your baby. But now everyone can know that I'm a mommy!! And Kit and I can actually go places together! Yippee!!


Coco enjoying the cozy recliner in Ellie's room.


Ellie and Coco relaxing on daddy and mommy's bed.


She was having a blast and wants to know why she can't have a memory foam mattress too.


Zonked out during tummy time on a blanket from our neighbor's mom. Nice and soft!


Enjoying bath time.


Ellie's started smiling a lot more lately, but I can't ever seem to get it on camera. I hope to get one soon!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Sleepover: Girls Only!

Well, visiting hours don't apply to mommies and daddies. So Ellie and I are having a little mommy/daughter sleepover tonight! Kit's going to spend the night at home with Coco and will come early in the morning to be here to help me get Elise back home after discharge. We were originally planning to bring her home today, but since hospital policy says babies her age have to stay overnight after anesthesia, we're here for the night. The nice thing is that they have a fold-out cot I can sleep on. The room seems to be getting hotter and hotter as the day wears on so I need to figure out how to turn the heat down.

Elise has done well all day. She's been very sleepy and groggy but doesn't seem to be in very much pain. They took the pressure dressing off around 1:30. She still has her IV in, but they haven't used it since we got to her room. When we first got to the room, they were going to give her IV fluids, but she took a large bottle right away and has been keeping well hydrated so they haven't had to do so.

It's strange being back in the hospital (though we not at the same hospital where she was in the NICU), but it's also semi-familiar/comfortable and much nicer to be in our own room. Breastfeeding moms even get free meals so between that and the cable, I feel like I'm on vacation. The nurses have even changed about half of her diaper so I'm getting a little break. Plus, you can't feel guilty for not doing housework when you aren't at home.

Here are photos from our last few days as well as from today.


She's full of serious looks.


Loving looking at her daddy.


"Really guys, don't you have enough photos already?"


"Yep, I'm this cool."


Enjoying her new recliner. While my mom was here, I found this amazing microfiber recliner at Costco. It was a great deal and is ridiculously comfortable! Since Ellie has to be held upright for at least 30 minutes after eating, it was becoming necessary for me to have somewhere comfortable to recline in the middle of the night so that I can get some extra sleep.


Cutest wink ever!!


At the hospital this morning in her new outfit from Nana.


And then changed into her hospital gown. 100% polyester. Classy.


A bit ticked with mommy for not feeding her. She was very hungry, and we had to wait quite a while before her procedure.


A sleepy daddy. I inadvertently turned off the alarm without getting up this morning. Luckily, Ellie woke us up (albeit 40 minutes after I had planned to get up).


Post-procedure. I didn't take a picture of her pressure dressing, but you can see the top of it sticking out of her diaper. They actually put the catheter into her hip area on the right side. You can see the little splint sticking out of the blanket as well. She had to have that on while the pressure dressing was on in order to keep her leg straight.


Snoozing. She's been sleeping in my arms most of the day.


Look how cute those chubby little toes are.


Where she is now.


Coil Placed Successfully

Elise's coil was placed in her heart this morning. All went well! Elise is in recovery for one hour (hospital policy), and we are in the Surgery Family Waiting Area at the hospital now. The doctor said he's very pleased with how well it went. He believes she has the type of PDA that gets smaller and larger because it was smaller today than it was when the cardiologist did the echocardiogram a couple of weeks ago. The smallness could also be due to constricting when they put the catheter in.

They have to keep her overnight due to her being born prematurely and still being so young based on her "adjusted age" (aka how old she should really be based on her due date). They'll be watching her for any anesthesia-related apnea.

We haven't seen her yet, but I'm sure she's starving. She last ate at 1:30 this morning. We have to keep her lying as flat as possible for four hours, which includes the recovery time. They have a pressure dressing on to keep the catheter site from bleeding, which will come off at the end of that four hour time period.

We aren't sure yet what the policy is in the pediatric unit, and someone mentioned visiting hours so we're hoping they will only make us leave for shift changes like in the NICU. If they try to say we have to leave for longer, they may have to deal with the wrath of a mommy who wants to be with her baby (though I do understand they can't break policy).

We've taken a few picture already and have the medical images from the procedure so I'll post those soon. Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers! The Lord was with Elise, and we are so thankful that everything has gone well so far.

(Oh, and I'm in heaven with the cable television! We only have an antenna at home. Can you say HGTV marathon?)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Inexpensive Diapers + Constipated Baby = Huge Mess

Update: I realized after I published this that I probably should have mentioned that it's the big size of the diapers that made them leak, not the price tag. I was just saving some money by going bigger sooner. The Pampers in Newborn size are still a bit big around her tummy but fit snuggly around her thighs; the Kirkland Signatures in 1-2 are big all over right now (even folded down), but she'll grow into them soon enough!

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While my mom was visiting, I made a much needed Costco run to get some various items that we normally buy there. I also bought a box of Kirkland Signature diapers since we were almost out of Pampers. I bought them in size 1-2 since they don't make newborn sizes. I've been folding down the top to try to make them fit but have been secretly wishing we were independently wealthy so that Pampers wouldn't seem to darn expensive (and have been kicking myself for not going to Babies'R'Us with my coupons that same day - July 2nd - because they had a sweet deal that day where I would have actually paid a little less than I paid for the Costco diapers).

Anyway, on to the subject of this post. Our leading lady has been constipated again and, until today, hadn't pooped since June 30th, in part due to her mother's lack of remembering to give her prune juice every day. In my defense, she does get medication 5 times per day, multivitamins with iron 1 time per day, formula mixed in with her bottles, and we're still working on breastfeeding. But I digress. After two days in a row of actually remembering to give her prune juice, her little bowels broke loose and shared the goodness they've been holding onto for the past few days.

It stunk, and it was messy. And the too large Kirkland Signature diapers did nothing to absorb the mess. Yuck! Excuse the bad quality of these photos. They were all taken with my camera phone as the regular camera was conveniently put away in the diaper bag.


This is before she pooped. She was making funny faces so I attempted to capture one.


This also also before she pooped. She was bright eyed and enjoying her day.


This is when I discovered her. (The messy spot on the bottom left is the joy she shared with me today.)


And here it is all over her little side and back. Don't let this picture fool you. She was actually very happy after she pooped. That is until we went to the pediatrician's office for her four month check up and injections. More on that later...


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Photo Extravaganza

Enjoy!

Showing off her cute little chubby cheeks. Behind her is the mess that is our bottle and pumping supply cleaning and drying station on our kitchen counter.


She's full of these inquisitive looks.


And she's full of these sleeping looks.


Last week I made her this little stuffed dog.


My new haircut.


Where she spent most of the first few days of grandma's visit.


Not many things are better than cuddling with grandma for hours on end.


Her cute little toe got stuck.








I almost caught her full smile here.








Sweet, Sweet Sleep

Here's a recap of our night courtesy of my Facebook status and comments this morning (since who really wants to think of a new way to word it all?)...

Emily's baby girl slept for SEVEN HOURS straight last night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (The best we've ever had is about 5.)


Amanda
Yay! And how many hours did you get?

Kit
I thought it was quiet last night. :)

Emily
Oh, maybe 5 1/2 to 6?? I pumped after she fell asleep and then kept waking up thinking it was time to feed her. I should have gotten up to pump again but had left the pump in her room and wasn't about to go in and get it since I was enjoying her sleeping way too much!!

At one point I apparently thought she was in bed with us (despite the fact that she's never slept with us) and that I had put her down next to Kit. So I was reaching for her and thought Kit was sleeping with his head on her head so I pulled her in her SleepSack out from under his head.

Then I was panicked because I couldn't find her head and thought I had somehow pulled her out of her SleepSack (despite the fact that she was swaddled and the SleepSack has sleeves that hold her in) and that her wet diaper was still in the SleepSack.

So then I was feeling all over near Kit's head and couldn't find her and was feeling all over the SleepSack and couldn't find her. I thought at one point that I could feel her finger...

Emily
...so I kept feeling around and finally realized that it was one of Kit's pillows (he uses two) and that she was still in her bed.

So I gave him back his pillow and went back to sleep myself.

Kirsten
YAY!!!!! That's fabulous:):)

Melissa
That's great! I remember lots of paniced moments in the night when Joel didn't get up & I thought maybe he had.

Kit
I was wondering why you were trying to steal my pillow last night :)

Amanda
I've done that too- thought Cadence was in bed with us when she really wasn't and panicked when I couldn't "find" her in bed with us. Hoping for more nights of great sleep for all!

Emily
Can I just say how much better I feel today (emotionally and physically)? It's amazing what a little extra sleep will do for you!!

Emily
Oh, and I even managed to be showered and ready for my day by about 9:15am! It's a miracle!

Melissa
It makes a WORLD of difference. Only Moms can fully understand!

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Also, today I took Elise on her first errand. We still aren't taking her out in public other than to doctor appointments and for walks; however, my mom ran into Fred Meyer to look at something and I needed to also drop of a prescription for Elise at a specialty pharmacy across the parking lot so Elise came in with me for the 30 second drop off. I took this photo of her on my phone after said errand. She clearly felt like running an errand lived up to her high expectations of joy and bliss.