Friday, October 31, 2014

Five on Friday

Five on Friday.... what's new over here?

1) Since I went back to work about a month and a half ago, my mom and dad have spent a lot of time at our house. They've kept Nathaniel Tuesday through Friday to allow him to get a little bigger and stronger before starting daycare. Well, starting Monday, he'll be in daycare Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with his big brother. Should be interesting.  I'll definitely miss the extra hands around here!

2) November 1st is in less than 2.5 hours!  It's one of my favorite days of the year. For one thing, I hate Halloween and all the Halloween decorations. Generally, they disappear on November 1st. Second, you can often get candy half off! And third, it's the start of the holiday season for the holidays I actually enjoy - Thanksgiving and Christmas. Bring on the Christmas carols!

3) I've already started my Christmas shopping. Yay!

4) I lost my phone on Sunday.  I am 99% sure it got left at church (the only other option is that it fell out of my pocket in the church parking lot).  It has been so weird being without a phone. We were switching phone providers soon anyway, so we went ahead and went last night to switch. My new phone is on backorder. So, I'm still without a phone for an undetermined period of time.

5) I hope to finally make it to a cider mill this weekend for the first time all fall.  It's been busy with 2 under 2, new job, sickness, etc!

Nathaniel at 13 weeks old

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Superheroes - Batbaby and Superboy!

When Nathaniel was born, we bought the boys superhero outfits. No real reason other than I thought they'd be cute.  And when I bought them, Nathaniel wasn't doing so great. It was kind of, in my mind, a sign that I knew he'd be okay. And he is!

So then it was just a matter of waiting for Nathaniel to grow into it because he's still tiny!  He is finally there!

So here are my little superheroes!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Nathaniel is Three Months Old Today!

First time at the kick and play piano
My baby is three months old today! And he's the sweetest little guy you can imagine.

He is such a calm baby. He almost never cries.  He'll fuss here and there, but for us to hear an actual cry is a rare occurrence!

He has changed so much in the last month.  He's so much more aware of his surroundings and interacting with people so much more!

I'm reticent to post this as it could change at any time and I don't want to jinx it, but..... he's a great sleeper.  He generally wakes up once or twice a night, but often just once.  He'll sleep like 6 hours straight at times. His big brother still doesn't do that! Okay, he's starting to, but this is amazing to me!

 He's a small little guy! He weighs 11 pounds, 4 ounces. This puts him in the 5th percentile for weight.  He's 21 inches long. This is below the 5th percentile for height. His head circumference is 15 inches. This is below the 5th percentile.  Sensing a pattern here? Little peanut!

He had his first trip out of state this month - we went to Indiana for a wedding reception.  He did great on the trip!
 He loves to stick his fist in his mouth. He sucks his fingers. It's so cute.

He has been staying with Grandma so far; but the first week of November, he starts daycare. I'm glad that I love the daycare they go to, but it's still hard to think of my little guy in a center!

He's a precious little gift. We love him so much  - all of us.  Jeremiah adores his little brother and gives him many, many kisses.  I'm so thankful that he's healthy, strong, and getting bigger. :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Nathaniel's Hospital Stay - Part II

Where we left off...

Saturday night was a rough night.  After my elation at getting to hold him, when I went to see him later, I just cried and cried. We didn't stay long. I was too emotional. Then I went back to my room and cried some more. I missed getting to hold Nathaniel. I missed my sweet Jeremiah. I hadn't seen him since Thursday.  I was not feeling good. My blood pressure was still all over the place.  I was in pain.  My heart just hurt.

Sunday morning though.... Sunday morning when I got down there, the nurse and neonatologist had BIG smiles on their faces! I knew this was a good sign!  He was doing so much better! Overnight, he'd been able to be moved to a regular crib and they were able to turn down his oxygen to begin the process of weaning him from it. I was so happy. There was no longer a threat of a transfer to a different hospital! This was especially important since I was not going to be discharged for several more days.

Regular crib!
John went to church that morning, and in the afternoon my friend Kristin visited and then another friend Karen.  That night John would be staying at home since he had to watch Jeremiah. We got a horrific storm! I remember hearing the tornado sirens going off! The nurse came in and closed my blinds. She said that was protocol when there was a tornado warning. Okay, but.... is that all? Closing the blinds?  But there was no actual tornado, so I guess it was fine. Nathaniel was able to start eating today, so that was good since I'd been pumping so he'd have milk. We tried getting him to take 10 ml per feeding (1/3 an ounce) but that was a struggle for him.

Sunday was another rough night. My nurse accidentally pulled out my iv while trying to change some tubing. Ouch.  After consulting the doctor though, they decided to leave it out and only put it back in if something happened where I needed an IV (unlikely at 4 days post-partum, but I still wasn't in the greatest of shape from all my issues).  So now I was IV free! Yay! Unfortunately, the stress I was under caused me to break out in a cold sore - I've gotten these occasionally since I was 2 years old, but this was a bad one, but I didn't think much of it.

Monday was an okay day. It started off bad.  The neonatologist saw my cold sore and was horrified and didn't want me near my baby. Eventually, I was allowed near him with a gown, mask, and strict handwashing protocols. I hadn't thought much of it since I've gotten them practically my whole life, but I guess it's very dangerous for babies. On a happier note, my aunt and uncle came to visit, as well as my cousin and her husband. All of them live in Africa and were going to be going back to Africa at some point that week. So it was nice to see them again.  And best of all, Jeremiah came to visit. I got to see my big boy! He was a little confused about several things - what was Mommy doing? Why wasn't she able to hold him?  But overall, seeing him was so sweet.

Tuesday, we managed to get my blood pressure to be normal (using literally the highest dose of blood pressure medicine my doctor has ever used on a patient!) for two readings in a row, so I was discharged, but allowed to board. That meant I could stay there, but was no longer a patient.  I took advantage of the freedom to go home for dinner and see Jeremiah. Nathaniel was doing better and was on room air! I finally got to see that sweet face tube free!

On Wednesday, we were allowed to keep Nathaniel in the room with us for much of the day. We had to report EVERYTHING to the NICU nurse, but as long as he remained stable, it was a step toward going home. At that point, they were estimating Nathaniel would be going home Saturday or Sunday.  John and I ran to Target and out to lunch, and then came back to the hospital. My best friend's mom came to visit. My parents came, and brought my aunt and uncle. So I got to see them and say goodbye to my aunt and uncle as they were leaving Thursday for Malawi, Africa.  This also meant that Jeremiah would get to meet his little brother!

He was so sweet with him! He kept kissing him (probably because we all went "AAWWWWW!!!!!!" the first time and Jeremiah will do almost anything for a reaction!). It was so sweet to finally have both my boys at once.

Nathaniel was still really struggling to eat.  His IV had been taken out on Wednesday morning, so we would have to see how he did weight wise. They said they would probably let us leave once he had gained weight two days in a row.  So Friday at the very earliest.  Wednesday night, I kept him with me most of the night, but when they needed to take him to the NICU for vitals and tests, I let them keep him a little longer so I could sleep.  They also had to do some periods of longer monitoring so I couldn't keep him the whole time.

It's strange having a baby but having to get permission to do things like hold him, feed him, put clothes on him. It's a lot different than having a baby under normal circumstances. The NICU - it's the neonatologist's world and we're just living in it.  But at the same time, I  very much value that they were keeping my baby safe.

Thursday morning came and he hadn't gained weight, but he'd lost what they said was an acceptable amount. But this pushed the earliest possible discharge date to Saturday.  Or so I thought?  Suddenly in a dramatic change of course, they decided to let us go home that day! Why? I still don't know. The three new babies who had been admitted? The fact that this was my second preemie in 18 months and I had a pretty good handle on what to do? Who knows! I just know we got to go home!

Final thoughts?  The NICU is a roller coaster. The sooner you accept that, the better.  One of the nurses commented that we were handling things really well, all things considered. I said that it's something that's easier to handle the second time around. You know not to get your hopes up with every small victory. You know not to be too discouraged with every setback.  This stay was tougher because Nathaniel faced more challenges, but it was also easier having been there before.

I describe it like this. It's not a straight line path.  You take a step forward, a step back. Then you might take two steps forward, one step back. Then you might take several steps to the side. At times you might feel like you're doing the Hokey Pokey and turning yourself around, but just keep going. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And eventually, you'll get there. And once you have, and once you have your child home, in time it will all seem like a dim memory.

Nathaniel is 12 weeks old.  It's still a pretty fresh memory and pain, but it's getting better.  I know that as he grows up like his big brother, I will watch him sit, walk, and run and be amazed at what God has given me.  A healthy son. Yes,  a rough start for both of us, but a healthy son who grows up to scare me with his climbing antics on a daily basis just like his older brother.

Ready to go! Even his newborn clothes were too big!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Nathaniel's Hospital Stay

On Friday, I got to see my baby several times, but I did not get to hold him. In fact, when we went down Friday evening, we were told not to even touch his foot like we had the first time we saw him. They had him covered so he was barely getting any light and were keeping his area very quiet. They explained that he did not do well with stimulation AT ALL.  Any time they had to do his vitals, there was a noise in the room, etc. his oxygen levels would be a lot worse.  He would also struggle more to maintain his temperature.  He was still being very closely monitored and if he got any worse or didn't show signs of improvement soon, he would be transferred to a higher level NICU at Children's Hospital.  This was hard.  

Saturday morning, he still was struggling. They hadn't been able to decrease the oxygen level at all. They had to put a different thing on his face to try to keep the cannula in better position to try to make sure he was getting all of the oxygen support he needed. 100% of his nutrition was still coming from IVs.  However, they didn't have him all covered up so we couldn't touch him, which was nice.

Also nice was that my cousin Anita was visiting from New York and was able to come see him.  My uncle came as well, but did not go into the NICU with us. I wish she had been able to hold him, but at least she got to see him and we got to spend some time together.

Saturday night, something wonderful happened. I got to hold him! I was so excited. :)  John got to hold him as well. It wasn't for long, but it was very special.  They also were able to go back to the regular nasal cannula instead of the extra thing (which I have no idea what the name for that was).

Pictures just because.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Continuing Nathaniel's Story....and Mine

So, the last post I wrote about Nathaniel's birth ended with him being born. Seems like a logical place to stop, right?  Only in this case, the story continued.

I was taken back to my room for recovery with nurses.  At that time, John went to go see Nathaniel. The neonatologist told him that Nathaniel might need to be transferred to Children's Hospital in Detroit for more specialized care. I was really scared by this!  His lungs weren't doing as well as they would have hoped, and he wasn't able to maintain his temperature as well as some other things that they were still testing for.  John went to go get my mom (my dad needed to stay with sleeping Jeremiah, so he couldn't drive her) because I wanted my mommy. I was not feeling good at all.

When my mom got there, they were trying to take me off oxygen, but they weren't able to. My oxygen sat (I think that's what they called it) would drop every time they tried.  They said it wasn't a big deal. My mom got to see but not touch her newest grandson.  She told me how beautiful he was, but the doctors were still unsure of his status.

Around midnight, they went home to get some rest.  Meanwhile, I would have one of the longest nights of my life. For starters, they hooked up the magnesium, which makes you feel sick.  For another, the oxygen mask was making me itch like crazy.  But whenever they would take it off or even turn it down much, my oxygen level dropped way too far and crazy alarms went off. And of course, I was worried about my baby.  My nurse took pity on me at one point and took a picture of him, printed it off, and let me keep it so I could see his sweet face.

I think I got no more than about an hour of sleep that night. My blood pressure and oxygen were both going crazy all night.  The alarms were literally going off every 5 minutes or so.  Finally, the nurse stopped coming to check on me and just stayed in my room all night long. Around 7 or so, the attending doctor (not the one who delivered Nathaniel) came in on rounds, and I remember crying.  I apologized and she said "It's okay, I know you're tired." I cried something about it not being that, but I wanted to see my baby and I was in pain, etc.  She was very sympathetic and said she'd had a baby recently and if they hadn't let her see her baby, she would cry too.

John and my parents came at some point (Jeremiah was taken to daycare) and sat with me in my dark room, saw the baby, and tried to comfort me.   I was in a LOT of pain.  I asked the nurses if there was any more pain medicine I could take, and she said there wasn't. They also were still considering moving Nathaniel to Children's.

Around 11, they were finally able to take off the oxygen mask.  They also decided I needed to eat.  I managed to take some clear broth and keep it down.  If you've followed the story, keep in mind John had gone home to get me snacks for during the night based on how hungry I was after my last surgery. Guess I didn't need those this time! :)

Around 2, I was stable enough to be transferred to the Mother Baby unit. They said once I could go to the bathroom and sit in a wheelchair, they would take me to see my baby.  So that became my immediate goal. The nurse was trying to do vitals and other things and I was like "Can't I try now?" She was like "We have to finish this."  (My memories are hazy on exactly what she was doing because the day was just awful and I was in so much pain.)  And then she looked at my chart and asked me "So, what's the deal with you and pain medicine?  Is there a reason you've been refusing all pain medicine?"  WHAT?!?!!!!? I had been asking and asking for it and told I couldn't have any more!  I told her as much. She re-checked the chart and said all I had been given since my surgery was extra-strength Motrin.  Well, at least we figured out why the pain was so bad compared to my last C-section!

Finally, I was able to go see Nathaniel.  He was so little and still in his isolette. The tubes and wires were a little overwhelming. Listening to the doctors and nurses explain what was going on with him was even more overwhelming.  Not being able to hold him was even more painful. The uncertainty of how he would do was probably the most painful of all.

Once I saw him, I went back to the room to rest.  Now that I had taken pain medicine, I was feeling a lot better!