Monday, March 31, 2008
However - I am feeling just a little put upon by the universe these days.
Yesterday was kind of crazy (since our relatives and friends actually have lives it was a day when I pretty much had Harper on my own!) and I forgot to take my antibiotic, both doses. I know, I know, shame on me. Even though I've been to the doctor for my follow-up appointment and there was no longer any sign of infection, I know that I am supposed to finish the entire prescription. So I took another dose today. By the time I got home from visiting Michael I realized I was covered, completely covered, in red splotches. We are talking head to toe coverage and mild itching. It was late and, not knowing what else to do, I called the pharmacist. He suspects an allergic reaction to sulfa drugs, told me to stop taking the antibiotic, and kindly looked up which kind of antihistamine I could safely take without goofing up my breast milk. Of course the one kind we had in the house was not safe, so Matt kindly ran to the Walgreen's up the road and procured some Claritin for me.
I'm really thinking a few uneventful months (or even weeks) would be welcome right about now.
Michael is doing well and may even come home this week. He weighs nearly five pounds (I bet he'll be there by morning). He has be promoted to "ad lib" feeding; which means he can take as much or as little as he wants and he ate like a horse today. He pulled his feeding tube out a couple of nights ago and has been doing well enough with the bottles that they haven't put it back in. We have been asked to bring his car seat in so they can do a car seat study. That is one of the tests he must pass before coming home. They may move him to a crib, as opposed to an isolette, as early as tomorrow and see if he can maintain his body temp on his own. He even passed his hearing test today. He originally failed it, but the technician realized how young he was and said he probably shouldn't have had it yet. Now that his ears have checked out I'm going to ditch all the brochures about hearing impairment she sent home with me after his first test. That's one thing I can check off my list of worries, for now.
Of course I'm happy that Michael is doing so well. But I'm really terrified to bring him home. I worry that he won't really be ready, despite knowing that they wouldn't send him if he wasn't. I worry that between feeding and caring for him, and pumping which I'll still have to do for a while, that I won't have any attention for poor Harper. And I worry about never feeling rested again, at least not for 18 years or so. I think bringing Michael home would be intimidating enough if he were full term, but his prematurity makes me extra nervous.
I pretty much freak out when I think of the logistics of it all, especially since Matt has already had his time off work and will be out of town this weekend. But I am really excited for Harper to meet her brother.
We may be talking the big sister thing up a bit too much. I don't know the exact context but tonight Matt was saying something to Harper about how her behavior wasn't up to big sister standards and she told him she quit being a big sister. Oops. Here's hoping that having Michael at home will change her mind about that!
Friday, March 28, 2008
A difficult time answering email.
A difficult time writing thank you notes or sending birthday cards.
A difficult time sleeping, or rather, finding time to sleep.
A difficult time with the fact that our son has been in the hospital for nearly three weeks.
A difficult time imagining how we will ever manage again without help, even though I know that eventually I will need to run this ship on my own for a good portion of every day.
This is just hard.
Most of the time I am able to move along from one thing to the next (mostly because we have so much help), and pump and visit/hold/feed Michael, and occasionally eat things, and shower, without thinking too much about any of it. . . putting one foot in front of the other being the main goal most of the time. And we are managing.
But today I had the living poop scared out of me. Michael (who is closing in on 4 lbs., 12 oz.) still has a lot of learning to go as far as the bottle is concerned. Babies as young as he is have to work very hard at coordinating sucking, swallowing, and breathing. It is easy for them to choke, or hey! just get a little tired and decide to take a break from breathing. Which is what Michael did to me today. He is usually pretty tired at his 10 a.m. feeding, which is a time I am normally there, so I haven' t had a lot of luck with him and the bottle. This is frustrating because obviously a parent likes to be able to feed her child. Today his oxygen sat dropped to 50% when I was feeding him. It is supposed to stay between 90 and 100% and an alarm goes off if it falls below 85%. As soon as it got close to that 85% I had the bottle out of his mouth and was sitting him up and talking to him, and that number just continued to drop. And then he started to turn sort of bluish and one of the nurses scooped him up and apparently talked some sense into him, as he decided to breathe again. She didn't have to actually resuscitate him or anything, but the whole "episode," which is what they called it, basically terrified me. As much as I'm anxious to bring him home, I am not leaving the hospital with him until he stops doing that. Unless an entire medical team agrees to come home with me.
They kept assuring me he was fine, but I still couldn't stop crying for a good forty-five minutes. And they did put him on a different kind of monitor that has some recording capabilities so they will be able to watch a little closer for this sort of thing and make changes in his care if necessary. I know they won't send him home until they think he's ready, but I just can't imagine what it would be like to have something like that happen here.
Today we also happened to be signed up for the infant CPR class that parents of NICU babies are required to take. I have taken many CPR classes, including an infant one, in the past, but practicing on those plastic babies was really upsetting after what had happened this morning. I NEVER EVER want to need those skills.
Please tell me that, in a few weeks or even a couple of months, we'll all be under one roof. Matt and I and two beautiful and healthy children who we are perfectly capable of caring for. Because today I'm having a hard time seeing that.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Michael taking his very first bottle:
Harper, having successfully found her Easter Basket:
Michael in an Easter outfit, sweet little ducks (Still so tiny, see my hand?):
Harper with one component of the way-too-much Easter candy she hauled in:
Tiny baby update:
Michael is now taking 40 cc's at each feeding! He is also being offered a bottle when it is time to eat; sometimes he's drinks it all, sometimes not and then he just gets the rest through his feeding tube. Being able to do all bottle, all the time, is his next big hurdle. He now weighs a little over 4 lbs., 7 oz. Grow Baby, grow!!!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
My fever came raging back early this afternoon, accompanied by some pains that I should probably not explain on the internet. Another call to the doctor and I won myself a trip to the emergency room. By the time I got there my temperature was 103.2. If you wonder what it feels like to have that high of a fever as an adult. . . I'll just say that I actually spent a few moments praying that I wasn't about to die. I sat in the ER and cried at the prospect of being readmitted to the hospital. I've had enough; we've had enough. I know life is not fair, I know things can always be worse, but I was working up one heck of a pity party for myself at the thought of one more night in a hospital bed.
After some poking and prodding the ruling was that I have a raging kidney infection and a large dose of antibiotics was administered through a rather uncomfortable shot in the hip. This was not fun, but I can't tell you how grateful I was not to have to have another IV! Follow up antibiotics were prescribed and I was sent merrily on my way (after about four hours).
For his part, Michael has shown no ill-effects of my inability to visit with him today. I have decided not to take this personally. The good news is that the doctor said I was free to visit him as long as I didn't, and I quote, "Pee on him." I'm crossing my fingers that I feel okay in the morning and can get at least one visit in. I'm following a carefully charted plan of large doses of ibuprofen and large doses of Tylenol at various intervals in an attempt to keep the evil fever at bay.
Michael is still doing really well. His feedings have been increased to 31 ml, which is fast approaching the magical 40 mark. He had to go back under the bilirubin light for a couple of days, but might be finished with it today. I'm so grateful that other members of our family (Matt, Matt's parents) can go spend time with him. I just hate to think of him being there all day without getting a visit. I can't imagine what this is like for families who live far away from the hospital and have to settle for checking in on the phone, instead of visiting in person, many days. The nurses take wonderful care of the babies and they all get held and fed and talked to, but it seems it's probably not that same as having a mother or father there.
Monday, March 17, 2008
She had to interrupt her dinner to go to the bathroom. While she was taking care of business, Matt yelled from the kitchen to find out whether she was finished with her food. She first told me that she was, then she said she wanted to eat the rest of her sandwich and yogurt. I told her she couldn't tell us one thing and then tell us the opposite thing in her next breath. She looked at me, shrugged her shoulders, and said, "That's the way it works for me, Mom!"
Tonight she and Matt were wrestling and she was trying to tell him not to worry about something, to emphasize her point she started to sing, "Hakuna Matata," from The Lion King.
I just finished a bunch of blog and email reading, and I'm in a pretty good mood right now. But here are the random things that made me cry today:
-I was sitting with Michael and a new baby was born in one of the ORs which is joined to the NICU by the "Resuscitation Room." The sound of that new baby crying sent me right over the edge. I have no explanation for this.
-I got home from the hospital (after several hours) and cried because I just felt exhausted suddenly and my swollen feet hurt and I had to pump before I could take a nap. This is not any different from a normal afternoon, other than the making me burst into tears part, sheesh!
-We found out Michael is being moved into the "Special Care" nursery, which is a step closer to going home than the NICU. This is not bad news, it's good! But I was just getting used to the NICU, getting to know the nurses there, feeling very comfortable with how things worked, etc. and felt overwhelmed by the thought that we now have to learn something different. More tears. I'm officially ridiculous.
(That's the end of things that made me cry, thank you very much.)
Michael hit four pounds again today, leaving him only a little over an ounce shy of his birth weight. They also took his IV out last night so he is fueled purely by breast milk now (No pressure, Self!). The doctor doing rounds this morning told me to expect that it would be another month before he comes home, and that we can just feel really excited if it actually happens sooner than that. A March birth, an April homecomeing, and a May due date -- way to keep us on our toes, Kid!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I have been a little like a zombie since getting home on Thursday. There's so much to do here, yet I'm still having trouble moving without pain, and I'm trying to pump every three hours to get my milk supply up (TMI? Sorry.) even through the night, and trying to get over to the NICU to visit with/feed/hold Michael, and I'm finding getting to the computer to be a significant challenge. It will be easier in a couple of weeks when I can drive again because everything seems to take such intense coordination these days. Whew. It's a little overwhelming and more than a little tiring.
We're all doing well. I think I'm recovering as well as can be expected, but after a month in bed I get tired so easily. And if I'm up and walking around my back starts to really hurt after a few minutes. It is going to be a long road to getting back in any kind of shape. My feet and ankels are still swollen to Shrek-like proportions, but some of the swelling has gone out of my hips/thighs/knees, so we'll call that progress.
Michael is doing well. He is out from under the bilirubin light, which means we can hold him for longer periods of time. His feedings have increased to 18 ml at each feeding. I think he has to be able to tolerate 40 ml reliably before we can start thinking of bringing him home.
Harper is readjusting to having me at home and more shifting authority. We had an hour stand-off at lunch today because she wouldn't ask nicely to get down from the table. She can be such a stubborn thing! All she had to do was ask to get down using the work please. It's not as though I was asking her to do anything unusual, but she refused. So she just sat at the kitchen table for an hour while we went about our business. Every once in a while I would pop in and ask her if she was ready to move on. Sixty minutes later, she was. Here's the funny thing about three-year-olds. . . she was perfectly capable of just getting down on her own, without permission, but she just stayed put!
Of course she has been showing her sweet side, too. Yesterday I opened a card my grandparents had sent, welcoming Michael, and Harper said, "That was so nice of them!"
Finally, here some pictures of Michael with "everyday objects" to try to give you an idea of how tiny he is, despite being HUGE relative to many of the other NICU babies:
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
How did this happen???
When I opened my email today I had an automated message about my pregnancy at 32 weeks. It really hit me that yes, we were supposed to have two more months before Michael was even born. Which I think explains, at least partly, why I'm having trouble taking in everything that has happened.
I'm posting some more pictures today, a few of which will help you understand how tiny he is. He weighs just under four pounds (he's lost a couple of ounces since birth), so of course he's tiny, but it hits me in a different way when I realize things like the fact that his head is significantly smaller than my hand.
Harper, for her part, is really excited that I will be coming home:
She's had fun talking about her brother at preschool, where she says, "They cheered for me and said, 'grat-u-a-shuns!'"
Michael was cracking us up during an afternoon feeding today, by holding his paci like a little man and crossing his eyes. He's already trying to be a ham like his sister. So little, and so much personality already. He's pretty wonderful.
Today was an easier day than yesterday. There are bound to be good ones and bad ones. Tomorrow I will be going home, but it will be weeks before Michael can join us there and that is one of the things I've worried about the most. I know we will get through this next part, just as we've gotten through everything that's happened since February 10; that doesn't mean it will be easy.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
So Michael and I are doing fine. I'm obviously grateful that we are both relatively healthy after the ordeal of the past month or so. But I am just plain worn out. I think the combination of hormones, the c-section (which apparently some people handle better than I do, because I am being a big baby about the amount of pain I'm in), the fact that my legs are not recognizable as being human (puffy from the combo of bed rest and all the IV fluids before and after surgery), and the fact that I'll be going home on Thursday and we have to leave Michael here is just proving to be a little overwhelming for me. I don't have the energy to post much else right now, but I thought you'd like some more pictures?
Michael still has an IV (though it is now in the side of his head - ouch!) for nutrients and antibiotics. They are hoping to be able to get rid of that soon.
Here's Michael working on his scrunched up old man face. . . the tube in his nose is how they are going to start feeding him. He "ate" for the first time this morning. I think Matt and I are going to get to be with him when they feed him later this afternoon. I've been pumping since yesterday and they will take every sad little drop I can give and get it to him. It is hard to imagine getting from this place to having him home and snuggling with him to nurse him, but we'll get there.
Finally, here is a picture of Harper, remember her? Matt took the camera home last night so she could see the pictures of Michael. She isn't allowed in the NICU during cold and flu season, so she hasn't met him yet. Matt told me she kept saying, "He's so cute!" My mom told me that Harper saw a picture of me holding Michael and said, "Mommy looks so happy." Which, of course, made me burst into tears. I miss my sweet girl.
After seeing all the pictures of Michael, Harper wanted Matt to take her picture. With silverware, apparently.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Baby Boy was born last night at about 10pm. He weighs 4 lbs, 1 oz. Both Kelsey and Baby are doing well. That's all I know right now, except I DO know the name. I just don't want to share Kelsey's exciting news; she might want to tell you his name herself. I can say this, however: it's PERFECT.
More info later...
Sunday, March 09, 2008
The baby is on his way! Kelsey is in labor and is expecting the baby to arrive in the next 24 hours. She and Matt are doing well; Matt tells me that the baby is being "a trooper" through labor so far.
I'll report back here as soon as I hear anything!
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Thank you to everyone who is leaving blog comments and sending emails. I think I've said this before and I'll probably say it again, but it really does make a huge difference to know that people are thinking of us, pulling for us, praying for us, etc. I know I'm not doing anything that any of you wouldn't do in a heartbeat, and I'm certainly not doing it as gracefully as I might, but it is still meaningful when other people acknowledge the fact that this is a difficult situation.
They had to move my IV site again. Certainly there are many things that could be wrong here, but right now that is one of the most difficult things. This time it also took three different sticks to find an acceptable place (for a total of fifteen times in the last eight days). At this point, when I find out it has to be moved again, it is borderline traumatic. Big sigh. I am becoming a human pin cushion. Which, frankly, is not something I'd ever really hoped to add to my resume.
If I'm going to look on the bright side of things, I have to say, the nurses here have been fairly awesome. And there are a handful that I really love. I have been here long enough that I'm genuinely surprised when someone new walks into this room, though it happens on occasion. I won't share the gritty details, but they deal with so many unpleasant things. . . I'm continually in awe of the things they do as though they are no big deal. I know it is all just part of their job, but still. I really like that they take the time to answer questions and don't seem to mind. They also make an effort to stay with a patient, so there are a handful of nurses I've had many times now and it is really nice when someone familiar walks through the door. I can't imagine what we can possibly do to thank them when all of this is behind us, but it will have to be something good!
In less-hospitalish news Harper is now willing to at least talk to me on the phone most days. She rattles off details of her morning or evening like guy from the old Fed-Ex commercials. I get the biggest kick out of it when she tells me that, "We're all fine at my house."
You know, when we named Harper, we liked the idea that her name was fairly unique. However in the last week I've become aware of two uses of the name in the media that make me think it might be one of those names that might become really popular in the years to come. Tonight a new female character, named Harper, showed up on LOST of all places. Earlier this week Matt's mom saw someone named Harper on the Disney Channel! Oh help! We actually aren't sure if the Disney Channel thing was just a one time deal or if there is a character named Harper on one of their shows. Anyone know? I have done so much explaining of her name to people, it would seem strange if it just became common.
And on that random note, I leave you for tonight. 31 weeks and 2 days pregnant and counting. . .
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
This is Kelsey's friend Erin again, updating for her. First thing first: No baby yet. Phew.
However, because of the contractions and some baby heart rate decels, Kelsey is back in the PICU. The upside is closer monitoring and trained staff ready to jump in at any given moment. The downside is no internet connection and a less comfy bed.
Kelsey wants everyone to know that she'll update (or have me update) this blog when the baby is born. Also, she SO appreciates everyone's comments and support through this ordeal. Kelsey was talking tonight to another of her close friends who asked, "Well, what should I hope for?" (i.e., for the baby to be born? or to not be born?) And Kelsey said, "That we're all ok." Whatever happens, I think Kelsey is ready for it. Or as ready as anyone could possibly be.
Finally. Please join me in honoring Kelsey as Ohio's Most Tenacious Citizen. In the midst of all this, she STILL managed to get her absentee ballot and cast her votes. You go, girl.
Had some contractions last night/early this morning - which had me kind of freaking out and feeling ready to call Matt at any moment and tell him to get over here. However the nurse did not think I was actually in labor and they gave me something to ease the discomfort; something that wouldn't stop real labor, but as the nurse pointed out there is no reason for me to be in pain if it isn't get us anywhere. Things have calmed some and now I feel a little like the boy who cried wolf. We are back to waiting and seeing.
I've also had more IV fun. The one from Sunday evening didn't even last 24 hours before it started to look like it might be getting infected. It was so disheartening to have to have that one yanked and start all over, but it was painful so it had to go. My regular nurse tried once to get another one started before calling a nurse from IV therapy, who managed on the third try. So, for those of you keeping track, the IV site is now on the inside of my right wrist. It's the sixth place I've had one! I think the most frustrating part of it is that it largely isn't serving any purpose, it just has to be there just in case. Although when I was having contractions this morning, they did give me a liter of fluid. So there you go.
Now let's play good news/bad news.
Good news: I did receive my absentee ballot yesterday, just in time! My brother is actually here right now to pick it up and take it to our county board of elections this afternoon. Voting is good! Go do it! (If you have an election today.)
Bad news: Brett Favre retired. Gasp! Wail! Although I have to say, given my current circumstances, I'm a little like, "Eh, it's just football." Oh I know, that's like blasphemy, and I'm sure I'll be truly upset at some point in the future, but for today, it's not the end of my world.
Monday, March 03, 2008
No baby yet! 22 days after the beginning of this whole ordeal. Actually 24 if you count from the very first time we had an idea anything was wrong. That's a lot of growing time. I know many, many people with March birthdays so now I feel like I'm playing some kind of lottery game, waiting to see whose birthday this baby will share. There were a lot of wonderful people born in March and Littlest will be honored to share a birthday with any of them.
So what's going on here? The internet connection continues to come and go, making email especially challenging, but I'm working on it. Please be patient if I owe you one.
Here are some random thoughts:
I never order breakfast before the doctors do rounds, which happens fairly early each morning. It makes me feel strange to think of them standing around examining my breakfast.
I find the whole "rounds" thing very intimidating, even without breakfast involvement. It is just uncomfortable to have that many people standing around looking at you. I have a difficult time asking questions at that time. Fortunately one of the doctors will come in, solo, each morning before rounds. I find one-on-one a much more comfortable scenario.
It was time for a new IV site last night. It took two nurses and three sticks this time, and at least it wasn't in the middle of the night. This one (my fifth!) is on the inside of my left wrist. I am thrilled to give my right arm/hand a break, but I have to say, there really doesn't seem to be any truly comfortable place to have one of those things, especially when you know it is likely to be there for four days.
Tomorrow is the primary election in Ohio and there are several important local issues on the ballot here. I have jumped through hoops to try to get an absentee ballot, but if it doesn't arrive here today I'll be out of luck. I am frustrated by that because I feel like voting is *so* important. At least I know I really have done everything in my power to try to take part in this election.
Harper was something of a terror yesterday. She was naughty in church and didn't behave very well when Mike and Ann (Matt's parents) brought her to visit here. She'd been awake since 5 a.m. My mom left Saturday morning for a much needed week at home, where she hadn't spent but two nights in a month! It is still difficult to watch Harper misbehave, especially if it is someone other than me that she's being disrespectful toward. I have to keep reminding myself how difficult/unsettling this has to be for her. We are certainly going to have some major readjusting to do when I get home!
In all of this craziness, I find myself forgetting to think about the fact that we are going to have a baby. I'm sure that sounds ridiculous. But I've been thinking/worrying so much about the birth and NICU time that there is a part of my brain failing to register that we will be taking our son home at the end of all this. I think part of the reason I am not thinking about the going home part is that I'm in denial about all the things we haven't done to get the house ready. But the baby will have a place to sleep and a carseat, which is really all we'll need for the first little while.
Okay, that is enough rambling for this morning. Have a good day everyone!
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Usually the difficult times are early in the morning, especially if I think about Harper getting up and getting ready for school, and in the middle of the night when I'm having trouble sleeping. Those are my anxious times, the crying times, the times when I tend to feel lonely.
And then there are entire difficult days.
Yesterday I started having a fair amount of bleeding again. Which meant I got sent back to the PICU (perinatal intensive care unit). The PICU meant an uncomfortable bed and being on the monitors 24 hours a day and no eating until they were sure that things were okay. Things are noisier and much more clinical feeling in the PICU. Over there, instead of taking things one day at a time, it feels like we are taking things one moment at a time. It feels like balancing on the brink of disaster. And when I suddenly started bleeding and found myself over there again it completely freaked me out. People who know me in person know that I tend to be unable to stop crying once I get started, and that's how it was last night.
Littlest surprised everyone by looking great on the monitor and by this afternoon we were back over in the regular maternity area. But I'm still having some bleeding and feeling a little like we might get bounced back at any moment.
Since I was first admitted three weeks ago, this has been the most difficult thing, not knowing what was coming next. We'll have a few uneventful days and get lulled into a sense of calm and then, wham! the roller coaster gets started again.
There are moments when I wonder if I can do this for one more day, let alone three more weeks. But of course I can, and I will. I would go through this over and over if it was the best way to help this baby grow and keep him safe. I just won't pretend it's easy.