Sunday, December 30, 2012

Isaac's Christmas Program

The day after Elliot was discharged from the hospital, Isaac's class had it's Christmas program. Elliot came with us but we hung out in the back and completely covered...not the place to bring a preemie during flu/RSV season! This year instead of doing the whole school at once, they did one class at a time. Each student (or group of students) were highlighted during each song. Originally, Isaac was supposed to  be Santa Claus and had one line. You guessed it, "ho ho ho." haha. But he fought tooth and nail until he got out of it. He ended up being a Christmas tree decorator along with some other students. Isaac was so excited to see us there-Nanny and Grandma were able to come as well. Here are some pics and video. My favorite was when they entered the church and he just lit up and was waving at us!

Big Brother Fun

With all that's been going on between the bedrest and Elliot in the NICU, Isaac was acting out a bit. We worked extra hard to do some fun stuff with him to make sure he knows we most certainly did not forget about him :). While Elliot was still in the NICU, daddy and Isaac had a fun day at the park. He also had a fundraiser at Chuck E. Cheese for his school and he spent the evening acting like a wild man with his friends. Then Grandma and I took him to a Christmas Village where we watched the girls from my old dancing school perform their Christmas performance. Isaac loved that because they had fake snow and a clown making balloon animals and other fun stuff-he got a bow and arrow :). He also had a blast when we decorated the house for Christmas before Elliot came home.

Since Elliot has been home, Isaac has been the sweetest most helpful big brother. He is so helpful with getting diapers, giving Elliot his paci, and even rocking his little rocker. He loves to give him hugs and kisses and watch me give him his bath. I can't wait to see them grow up together.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Home at Last!

Sorry for not updating sooner, but it's for a good reason! Elliot came home last Wednesday after a 15 day stay in the NICU. Things were very busy while we finished getting the house ready for him to get home. The doctors were so pleased with his progress in the NICU. When we started to talk about discharge, they let me breastfeed as much as he wanted during the day. Then, they stopped fortifying the breastmilk that he was getting in the bottle. This is good because they wanted to see if he could gain weight on straight breastmilk. They knew that I wasn't planning on giving him formula and that I wanted to nurse him. For two days he took enough breastmilk to have adequate dirty and wet diapers as well as gain weight. Then they took his tube out and got his discharge stuff ready. First they gave him his hepatitis B vaccine and a Synagis shot (for RSV). He was able to qualify for Synagis because of the time of year as well as his gestational age at birth.

They also did a hearing test. This is done for premature babies or other babies that meet certain risk factors. He passed on one ear but didn't pass on the other. He's getting retested on Thursday. The docs told me that it can be anything such as fluid in his ear, so I'm not worried about anything yet. And lastly, he had his circumcision and passed his carseat test. On discharge day, he weighed 4 lbs 13 oz. Here are some pics from discharge day.

At his checkup yesterday, he already weighed 5 lbs 4 oz! Dr. Defusco (his pediatrician) was impressed! He has been nursing like a champ around the clock. He loves to sleep during the day and wakes about every 1 1/2 hours to nurse during the night. He's a very very good baby :). Here are some of my favorite pics of him since he's been home. I have a lot of cute ones with his big brother, but I'll save that for another post.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Successful Latch!

Today I was able to spend a lot of time in the NICU with Elliot. I was trying to make his morning feeding, but I hit a lot of traffic going into town. He took all 35 ml from the nurse by mouth for that feeding. At his 11:00 feeding, they let me nurse him. And he successfully latched on and took milk! He nursed for a combined total of about 15 minutes and after each breast he burped. Just like yesterday, they checked his belly and drew up at least 10 ml from his stomach (that's the size syringe she used-so may have been more). It's great to know that he's interested in nursing and that he's getting milk :). However, they still gave him his full feediing into his feeding tube. That's fine with me-will just help him to gain weight.

Today I was able to touch base with Dr. Barkmeyer (the NICU attending on service). He said that Elliot didn't do as well as they expected with his feeding yesterday (he wouldn't take his feeds at night). So they're going up to 38 ml every 3 hours to help with weight gain, and will monitor how he does the rest of the day. He said that if he does poorly, then they're going down on the attempts per day (right now it's 4). He said that sometimes when we push them too hard, it backfires. So please say a prayer that he takes the remainder of his attempts today. I completely understand what he's saying, but it's discouraging to hear that we may have to go backwards.

On another note, I got pooped on as I was changing his diaper...then as I was trying to clean it, I got peed on. I forgot how these little boys are! No matter how little! :)

Overall, today was a happier day for me. I think it's the first time that I didn't leave the hospital crying. Nor did I cry myself the entire way across the bridge.  As hard as this is being away from him, Andrew and I are so incredibly grateful for how well he's doing. We are so thankful that my doctor was proactive and I believe ultimately made the right call. 

We've been getting ready for him to come home. We've got the crib put together now and lots of clothes, blankets, etc washed. We've also been spending a lot of time getting the house ready for Christmas. This is my favorite time of year and I just hope that soon we'll have yet another reason to love it!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Growing Stronger

Hi all. Let me first say that I am coming to you with a very heavy heart for a friend of mine. Her toddler passed away today after suffering an accident at home. Please say a prayer for her family. I'll be praying that God gives them strength and peace to help them get through this unimaginable time.

As for Elliot, today was positive. I got there around 11:00 and he was sleeping peacefully. He gained about 45 grams over this past day (more than enough). The doctors also wrote for him to take 4 bottles per day by  mouth (he was previously taking 2). He has been taking all 35 ml when the nurses feed him. Today at 12, I put him to breast. I am SO very excited to say that with hard work, he latched on! He stayed latched and sucked for about 10  minutes. Because they can't measure how much is coming out of the breast to baby, they also want me to offer a bottle of breastmilk after feedings. After he latched today, I was curious to see whether he actually sucked some milk. As I lifted him up, he let out a hearty burp, then spit up a little when I was giving him his bottle. That makes me think he got some milk in his belly :). The nurse then checked to see how much milk made it in there. She drew up about 10 ml before saying, "ok, he got some-at least 10 ml!" haha. I could only get him to take 5 more ml from the bottle, so she put the rest through his tube. I was ecstatic about the successful latch!

At 3:00 I tried to feed him his bottle. Because I don't have the magic that the nurses do, he only took 15 ml. He may have still been tired from his 12:00 latch, but the nurse wasn't too concerned. He's getting stronger each day and it's great to see his progress.


I also changed him into one of his new preemie onesies and it fit perfectly! He looked so adorable :).

I also had my follow up dr. appointment today for my blood pressure. Surprisingly, it was high. I have been monitoring it at home and it's been good. So once again, my dr. is taking my word for it. I will stay on the Procardia and monitor my bp's at home. If they spike or I have any symptoms, I need to call him and we'll have to adjust the meds. Other than that, I'll see him again in January for my postpartum checkup.

Hope everyone has a great night!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Isaac, meet Elliot

Today was another great day. We got to the south shore a lot sooner than yesterday, so I was able to be there for two feedings. When I spoke with his nurse in the morning, she said that he drank all 35 ml at 9:00! When we fed  him at 12, he took 20 ml of his 35. I think he was just super comfy in daddy's arms. They've also upped the calories in the breastmilk from 22 cal/oz to 24 cal/oz. He's been gaining weight well.

Now that he is in an open bed, he is so much more accessible. I can pick him up and hold him as long as I want, and I've been changing all his diapers while I'm there. In fact, today I was there for 4 hours and changed 5 poop diapers! Guess it's safe to say that his GI tract is working well. Haha. They've also started putting little shirts on him so today I brought some of Isaac's smallest looking newborn onesies. I tried looking for preemie onesies everywhere but it wasn't until tonight that I found some at Carter's. They are TOO cute...can't wait to see him in them! I took a picture of one of them next to Andrew's flip flop for size comparison. Haha.


When I put him to breast today, he was more interested. He latched on a few times but it wasn't a good strong latch. He was able to get some milk though-the nurse checked his belly to see if any milk made it in and it did :).

And as you may tell from the title, the best part about today was that Isaac was able to see Elliot! Our nurse set it up so that he can see him through a window. He was waving and blowing kisses at his brother. It was a very sweet moment.

Tomorrow is my follow up appointment with my OB for my blood pressure. My readings have been good on my medication, so hopefully we won't need to make any changes. Just wanted to say thank you all again for all the prayers for our family. We couldn't ask for a better support system during this time. We're just saying our prayers that he's home before Christmas.

Elliot, meet Breast

Hi all! Today was a great day! Elliot is now taking by mouth twice a day and the remainder of his feeds are going through his tube. He continues to tolerate them well. When we went to visit, the nurse told us that they were trying to get him out of the incubator and into a "big bed." By the time I left, they were able to do this. The "big bed" was the regular little bed that they put newborns in (you know, the big tupperware looking thing). This is good-it makes it easier for me to hold him whenever I want, and it means that he's controlling his temperature on his own.

The highlight of the visit is when the doctor told me that I can put him to breast once a day. I know the doctors in the NICU because they're the same doctors from Children's Hospital. And I work in the NICU there...thank God because it's made me much more comfortable with everything they've been doing. I'm even calculating his feedings to make sure he's getting enough calories. Haha. The head doctor (attending) that has been on service since Elliot was born happens to be the director of the NICU. I really like him, and my favorite thing about him is that he is proactive. He works hard to get the babies out of the NICU, which is comforting to know. So when he told me that I can put Elliot to breast, I was ecstatic!

They warned me that he wouldn't be latching, mostly just licking and hopefully putting my nipple in his mouth. At first, he wasn't interested but after five minutes and a little bit of milk in his mouth, he was totally interested. His eyes were wide open and he was trying to get his mouth around. So, the first attempt was successful in that aspect :). The last time he took by mouth today, he drank about 30 ml of his 35 ml. Not bad!

Before I left today, I got to hold him quite a bit and change a poop diaper. In the minute it took to change out the diapers, he peed everywhere. Guess it's a boy thing! Here are some pics for the day:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

NICU Update - 12/2/12

I know it's been quite a few days with Elliot in the NICU and I told everyone I would keep you updated, but things have been hectic as one would expect! So here it goes.

As I mentioned in the last post, Elliot came out with great lungs. When he arrived in the NICU, they did give him oxygen until the next day with a nasal cannula. Right away, they also started him on an IV which was later turned into TPN (or intravenous nutrition). When babies are born prematurely, they may need this to get in enough calories. You can't just start giving them all this breastmillk without making sure the GI tract is working well. They also placed a tube in his mouth that went to his stomach. Because he's too small/young to take what he needs by mouth, this tube is used to give him breastmilk. It was later changed to his nose. Feeds were started in very small amounts and have since increased to his goal today. Surprisingly, they have also let him take some milk by mouth. Normally, babies don't get the hang of the suck/breath/swallow technique until 34 weeks gestation. He has taken very small amounts but at least he is showing promise :). He is tolerating his feeds well and his GI tract is moving things along nicely. The TPN was stopped yesterday when they ran out of IV sites-he was almost to his full feeds anyway.

I was very upset when my milk wasn't in right away. It's hard to get the milk stimulated when I'm using a pump only and no baby to nuzzle. It made me very sad that I couldn't see him for 24 hours after birth. But things are working out. With lots of hard work my milk supply is well established.  I've rented a hospital grade pump and have been pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock. Needless to say, Isaac keeps asking me if I can make chocolate milk. haha.

Elliot was placed under lights for jaundice two days ago and they were turned off today. Not uncommon. Plus, I knew that once his feeds increased, this would help.

Right now Elliot is not on any meds and has nothing wrong with him :). Next week he'll be 34 weeks gestational age so they'll be working more on letting him take by mouth. I am feeling positive about this-I saw him sucking on a paci today and two days ago, he couldn't. Once that starts, I'll also be able to put him to breast.

I have been visiting him everyday and been able to do some kangaroo care. While I find myself very sad at home and missing him incredibly, visiting him brightens my day. Once he takes all of his feeds by mouth and is gaining weight, then it'll be time to go home. In the meantime, we'll continue to visit daily and say our prayers. And pump. Yes, I will pump like a mad woman :).

Emotionally, I'd be lying if I said this were easy. I did have some depression after I had Isaac. This time it's different to come home without your baby. I'm also struggling with missing out on the last two months of pregnancy. For the past few nights I've been sitting here just looking around the house at everything maternity and baby, and sucks. Today seemed brighter. I'm trying to stop feeling sorry for myself. We've been getting our new house ready for Christmas and now have to plan for Elliot's eventual trip home. Guess it's time to wash those clothes and put together the crib! 

Again, we thank you all again for all your prayers and kind thoughts during this time. Also thank you to those who have been helping with Isaac during this time. We can't wait for him to meet his baby brother! Here are some pics of our Elliot.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy Early Birthday, Elliot!

Hi all :). I'm sure everyone has heard by now that Elliot has graced us with his presence earlier than planned. I wanted to share the story here. Also with him in the NICU, I'll be updating everyone on how he's doing on the blog.

So on Monday, I followed up with my OB and handed in my urine for another 24 hr urine eval. My blood pressure readings at home had been great while on bedrest. They had been running 120s-130s/80-90s for the most part. However when I went in to see Dr. Dutreil, it was the highest it's been. The first reading was somewhere around 170/115. They did my nonstress test in hopes that by lying still for 20-30 minutes, it would get better. When they retook it, it was 210/124. He couldn't believe how high it was, especially considering I had no symptoms and my home readings had been great. We brought in my monitor and took my bp to see if maybe there was something wrong with my machine. It also registered high. He sent me to labor and delivery to be monitored again. I could tell right away we were a little more serious than last time. They actually admitted me this time and he also wanted me to get started on an IV. My bps were still high.

When my doc came up there to see me, he was really unsure about what we should do (as was I). I had no symptoms...I was 32 weeks pregnant...I had gotten the betamethasone to help mature baby's lungs. In the end, he decided that we couldn't take the chance of something severe happening-from placental abruption to a stroke. As they put me in a labor and delivery room and started getting things prepped for the induction, he got my urine protein results: 349. Anything greater than 300 + high blood pressure is considered preeclampsia. So we were sure at that point that we made the right decision.

The first med I was given through IV was hydralazine. It's a fast acting high blood pressure med. I got quite a few doses of this. Next, I was given penicillin. Normally around 35 weeks, pregnant women are tested to see if they have Group B Strep. Without having this done, they gave me antibiotics just in case. Next, I was started on magnesium sulfate. This was rough! This is given with preeclampsia during the whole labor/delivery and 24 hrs after to prevent seizures. While receiving it, I was on bed rest and had to have a catheter the entire time. Also, they had to draw my blood every 6 hours to make sure the magnesium level in my blood wasn't too high. 

To start the induction, they gave me cytotec-just as I got with Isaac. It's a pill inserted vaginally and then they check me 4 hours later to see if I was dilated. I got 3 rounds of this and got up to 2 cm. My doc was hoping for more so we then had to do a bulb foley (same as with Isaac)-its a little balloon that's inserted and puts pressure on the cervix to dilate. They also started pitocin at this point. Not long after, I got the epidural. After waiting a few hours, they checked to see if it had to be adjusted...the bulb came out which meant I was now 3-4 cm. With 6 cm left to go, they told me an estimated one hour per cm to go.

A few hours later, the doctor came to check me and was surprised to see that baby was ready to come out. NOW. haha. Doc's face was pretty funny. They prepped and within10-15 minutes and 2 pushes, Elliot was out. We were happy to hear him crying, which meant his lungs were working. His apgar scores were 9 and 9, which is perfect. We got a quick pic before the NICU staff whisked him away.

I then had to wait until I was off the magnesium to go visit him. That was hard, especially when other people were going to see him. Elliot has been doing great in the NICU so far...I will make a whole separate post about the NICU experience and will keep ya'll updated. People have been asking about exactly what here it is :).

My blood pressure is now normal while on my regular medication. I am following up with my OB next week for blood pressure and then again in 6 weeks for postpartum checkup. Physically, I am feeling great other than a very sore back which I'm attributing to bedrest and a very uncomfortable hospital bed. I'm so glad to be out of the fog that is the magnesium sulfate. I'm now focusing on getting my breastmilk supply up for my baby boy. As I said before, check the blog regularly for updates on Elliot's progress.

Thank you so much for all the kind thoughts and prayers, as well as for everyone who helped us through this process. With him in the NICU, we're continuing to get great support. Thank you :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bedrest Update

Just wanted to update everyone since my last bed rest post. After five days on bed rest last time, I was able to return to work. My labs were good and blood pressures were stable. This past week I saw the dr. on Monday for my 32 week checkup. He told me I had some protein in my urine...and my blood pressure readings were running higher again. I did my first nonstress test, which was normal. And then he made me stay home the next day for another 24 hour urine. He told me that I can go to work on Wednesday but that they would call with the results - if there was protein in that urine, then I would be put on bed rest for good.

I felt fine at work the next day then went in to do my ultrasound. Baby Elliot is looking great. He weighs about 4 lbs 7oz and is measuring 32-33 weeks. My fluid is good and he is a wiggly little boy. However, my blood pressure readings were 160-170's/112-117. Super high! They were very concerned. When they checked the 24 hour urine, they told me that the protein was right under the "pre eclampsia diagnosis" mark, but I also didn't give them as much urine as they would have thought. So, if I would have...the protein would probably hit the mark. My dr. had me go to labor and delivery to get my blood pressure routinely monitored for hours.

While there, the blood pressures were originally high and then made their way back down after adding a new bp med to my regimen. I'll now be taking another med twice a day. He let me go home on bed rest and wants to buy some time to let baby cook :). I have gotten two shots of betamethasone...this is a steroid given in situations like this in case baby has to come early. It helps to mature the lungs. It appears that Elliot will most likely be coming early, but after these shots and if we can buy a couple more weeks, all should be fine. I think more than anything at this point, is the high bp effect on me.

Since I've been home, my bps have been good. Surprisingly, they tend to be higher when I'm sitting home alone. Apparently boredom stresses me out. haha. I've started my online Christmas shopping and have been patiently learning to lay back and not take control of things. This is my biggest challenge, but Andrew is doing a great job taking over the reins :). Isaac has been so good about everything. He has become my little helper, and is actually spending the weekend with Tat and Omi right now. I miss him, but I know he's having fun.

We are blessed to have family and friends helping us during this difficult time- with Isaac, or cooking food, or keeping me company. Thank you for that. I'll be doing regular updates on here from now on while I can :). From now on I'll be seeing my dr. twice and week and doing nonstress tests. I'll also be doing weekly 24 hour urines to test for protein. My next appt is Monday so wish me luck!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween 2012

This year, Isaac wanted to be Batman for Halloween. Well actually, he keeps just saying "a bat" and then picked the Batman costume. I wanted to trick or treat in our new neighborhood, but instead we decided to go to my cousin's house nearby. This worked out perfectly because as mentioned in my last post, I was put on bed rest that day and wasn't able to actually go trick or treating-plus daddy had school and couldn't go either. While I sat on the sofa, my cousins helped me out by taking him (along with their kids) through the neighborhood. From the pics, looks like he had a blast and he certainly brought back enough candy for the family. haha. Thank you so much to my cousins for helping me out!! Love ya'll so much.