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Archive for February, 2013

One month old!

Elena is one month old (also 4 weeks 3 days) today!  Her one-month checkup is on Thursday.  This has definitely been one of the fastest months of my life.

We are starting to settle into a bit of a routine, although I am still taking things a bit slow as I continue to recover. 

Since Elena started life in the NICU, she was put on a schedule right away, and we’ve mostly been able to maintain that.  She eats and gets her first dose of Digoxin at 6:30 a.m. and eats again every 3 hours thereafter.  She mostly still sleeps in between, though she generally has a couple hours of alert time first thing in the morning and sometimes in the early evening as well.  Liam wakes her some on the week-ends, but she is mostly able to sleep through anything once she gets into a deep sleep.  She is also taking more and more of an interest in her surroundings, and so she will start to fall asleep and then see something that interests her, causing her to stay awake a bit longer.  

We saw our first “reflex” smile the day she was born, but she is starting to smile intentionally.  This has been going on for about a week now, maybe a little longer.  She will sometimes smile at us if we talk to her and smile at her, and she usually has a smile for the ceiling fan. 

I haven’t heard any cooing yet, but she is starting to make noises while awake that aren’t grunts.  She also makes little noises while she is sleeping.    

Liam still loves his baby sister.  When he gets home each day, he goes looking for her.  He also loves to hold her (with assistance, of course!). 

I look forward to watching her grow and develop as each month passes, though I’m not rushing it! 

Here a couple pictures I took today.  This is the same outfit she wore home from the hospital, though it fits her a little better now than it did then!

Elena Feb 2013 0416 Elena Feb 2013 053 Elena Feb 2013 051 Elena Feb 2013 044 Elena Feb 2013 039 Elena Feb 2013 037

 

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Life with our Newest One

The last 3.5 weeks (really? 3.5 weeks?) have gone by so quickly.  I haven’t been updating or taking as many pictures as I’d like or should – I need to try to do better.  I do have some pictures to share, but I’ll get to that later. For now I want to get some things “on paper” before I forget.

Elena is such a mellow baby – much less intense than our sweet Liam was as a newborn!  She rarely cries, and when she does she soothes so easily.  She also sleeps through the night!  She still sleeps most of the day away as well, though her alert time is increasing.  When she is awake, she likes to lift her head up off our shoulders and look around the room.  Like her brother as a baby, the ceiling fans are a favorite attraction.  🙂

We took her back to the pediatric cardiologist last Wednesday (a week ago today), and she is doing great. They will monitor her weight and do an EKG during months she does not already go to the pediatrican for well baby visits.  As she grows, her Digoxin dose will need to be adjusted.  When she is 9 months or so, they will stop increasing the dose in an attempt to wean her away from it completely. 

Her weight at her appointment was 8 lbs 9 oz, which we were glad to see.   When Elena was discharged at 4 days old, she weighed 7 lbs 12 oz.   The next day, we took her to her first pediatrician appointment, and she was 7 lbs 13 oz.  One week later, at 12 days old, she only weighed 7 lbs 15 oz.  As babies should gain about an ounce a day, this was concerning.  I mentioned that her bowel movements were more frequent than normal for a newborn and also a bit more watery than they should be, and they asked me to eliminate dairy and bring her back on Friday, at 2 weeks exactly, for another weight check.  We did, and she weighed 8 lbs 1 oz, which was much better!  So it seems that my elimination of dairy has helped.  I don’t know for sure she has a dairy senstivity yet – I’ll try to reintroduce it in a few weeks to see how she reacts. 

This poor girl also has an eye infection.  I called a few days after we had her home when I noticed her right eye was a bit crusty, and was told it was likely a clogged tear duct, which is pretty common in babies.  They said to use a warm cloth a couple times a day to clean the eye and massage the tear duct, and it would likely resolve itself within her first year.  After a few days of this, the crustiness went away, but then a week later it came back with a vengeance.  In addition, the white part of her eye looked a bit pink, so I put in another call to the pediatrician, and her doctor wanted to see her.  The pediatrician was glad we called because, as I mentioned, it was infected.  They gave us some antibiotic ointment to put in her eye 4 times a day.  If she gets even one more infection, we will be sent to a pediatric opthamologist.  The good news is, our pediatrician has only sent one other baby to an opthamologist prior to the age of one, so hopefully Elena will not be her second. 

Her 1 month checkup will be on the 28th.  I can’t believe how soon that is!  I know from Liam that time flies with babies, but I almost forgot how quickly it goes in these early days.  I also suppose, with this being our last baby, it makes it seem that much faster.  In some ways, it makes me sad.  But I know it’s life.  As much as we’d like to do so, we cannot pause time.  Neither can we rewind.  The only direction we can move is forward, and the only moment we can control is the current one.  So once again I’m reminding myself to not be sad about the future or the end of this current stage.  My goal is to make the most of now.  As I look to the future, I will do so not with sadness at the end of now, but with excitement for what is to come.  And with that plan in mind, I can be thankful for the beautiful memories I am making now, because I will be able to take them with me as each second carries me forward to each tomorrow.  So really, I should take more pictures.  🙂

 

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We have decided.  Our family is complete.

I know this is the right decision.  And truly, I’m ready to enter the next phase of our lives, focusing on raising the beautiful children we have here on earth, as well as carrying on the memory of our daughter in heaven.  Yet, as with any chapter’s end, it’s not easy to turn that final page.

The truth is, pregnancy isn’t easy for me on an emotional level.  I spend so much time on edge, worrying about how sick I am or am not, wondering if the baby is moving enough or too much, among many other things.  And we’ve had a NICU team in the room with us for every single birth.  So we should probably stop while we’re ahead.  I certainly wouldn’t take a chance on another unassisted pregnancy, and we simply couldn’t afford another procedure.  Childcare is expensive as well.   So we are done.  And I can’t emphasize enough that our family is PERFECT.  The children I have do not leave me wanting.

But letting go is hard.

Pregnancy and birth, while not always easy or uneventful for us, are beautiful, and I feel so very blessed to have been able to experience them the times that I have.  They have been a huge part of my existence these past several years, and it’s hard to picture life without them.  It’s hard to imagine that I will never again feel my baby moving inside of me.  And any newly born baby I hold in the future will not be my own.

We have much to look forward to as a family.  And I still have a newborn to hold and snuggle.  But I know how fast this goes.  I’m on maternity leave now, but in 10 more weeks I go back to work, and it will never be like this again.  So I’m determined to cherish every single second.

As for pregnancy and birth, I will always look back on those times with fondness.  And while it isn’t easy to say adieu, I am grateful that doing so is our choice.  Some have that choice made for them, and I do not take this privilege lightly.

So the new plan is to live the lives we have built for ourselves.  To raise our children with love.  And to put every effort into enjoying every single day of the lives we have been given.

Time moves too quickly to do anything else.

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Elena Juliet’s Birth Story

This evening Elena will be 1 week old.  And I’m finally getting a chance to tell her birth story on here!

The sequence of events preceding her arrival were quite overwhelming and far from what we expected.  However, she is here and we are doing well, and that is the only thing that matters!

On January 25, 2013, I went into work, expecting another day in the office, followed by one final week-end to get things ready for our baby girl.  I had hoped to go into labor, but after my appointment on Wednesday, was not feeling optimistic about it.  Little did I know how everything would change in a matter of hours.

I had a chiropractic appointment that day and, as I was sitting there in the office, realized I had not felt a ton of movement.  This had been the case more and more lately, but everything was always great with her when checked.  I had started carrying my doppler with me so I could check in here and there to ease my anxiety.  I drove back to work after my appointment, and I took a minute in the parking garage to check her heartbeat before going back to work.  And I’m very glad I did.

As soon as I turned on the doppler, her heart rate was in the 220s/230s.  It would stay there for a few seconds, then jump back down to a normal fetal rate, then up again.  I assumed that the doppler was likely picking up my own heartbeat as well as hers, which does happen.  After no more than a moment’s hesitation, I called Nathan to tell him I was going in to get checked.  I quickly grabbed Liam from daycare and met Nathan at the hospital.  At first he thought he would just take Liam home, but I decided he should stay long enough to make sure everything was ok, then he could take Liam home.

I went up to the Women’s Evaluation Unit, and was surprised there was no wait to get me into a room.  In the past, I’d always had to wait at least 30 minutes or more to be seen.  They strapped me to a monitor and said “let’s get you some peace of mind”.  Baby girl’s heart rate was just as I had heard it on my doppler – jumping up to the 220s and all the way up to 250, then back down to the normal rate.  Less than 5 minutes later, the nurse was back in the room to ask me when I had last eaten or drank water.  When I asked if I could have a drink, and she said “I don’t know if you can have a drink yet”, I knew that I likely wouldn’t be going back home.

They quickly explained my situation to the on-call doctors, and decided to move me to Labor & Delivery for some more monitoring.  It didn’t take long for them to decide the baby was going to be born that night, and even less time to decide she would be coming by c-section.  Due to her erratic heartbeat, they said there was no way to determine if she was in distress, and so they felt it was safer to get her out as quickly as possible rather than risk her being unable to tolerate labor.  While the doctors (including a neonatologist) were collaborating, Nathan had been busy making arrangements for some friends to come get Liam.  I asked the doctor if we had time for them to get there, and they said yes, but the baby was coming out within 2 hours, so we needed to hurry.

When I had made the decision to go to the hospital, I had thankfully decided to let our birth photographer and doula know, as they had asked me to keep them updated about all things  baby-related as we got closer to the time.  Our doula arrived and was able to help with Liam while anesthesiology gave me my epidural and until our friends arrived to take him to their house.  Our birth photographer was able to join us a bit later, and the doctors said it was fine for her to be in the operating room, and I’m very glad about that.  They wouldn’t wait for her to get there, but promised to lead her in as soon as she arrived, which was well before they began the procedure.

I was very nervous about the c-section.  I’ve never had surgery before, and they kept referring to it as “major surgery”, which was a little frightening.  But the stress of the entire situation made me sleepy, and for that reason alone I was able to remain mostly calm.  I laid there and kept closing my eyes, as I needed to shut everything out around me in order to get through it.  I was obviously much more worried for our baby than myself, but the whole thing was a lot to absorb in a very short amount of time.

At 7:08 p.m., our little lady arrived.  Thankfully, just a few days before, we had finalized her name:  Elena Juliet.  I didn’t hear anything for a brief second, and then I heard the joyous sound of her cries.  I couldn’t see her for several minutes, but everyone kept going on about how much hair she had and asking if I’d experienced much heartburn (I didn’t!).  Nathan went over and took a picture with his phone so I could see her sweet face, and I saw that head of hair for myself!

After an initial in-room examination, the neonatologist told us everything was perfect besides her heart rate, and they simply wouldn’t be able to determine what was causing it to beat so irregularly without an EKG.  We were told to expect an answer within 24 hours.  They brought her by for a quick kiss, and then took her to the NICU.  Nathan stayed with me while they put me together again, then he went to the NICU while I went to recovery, accompanied by our doula (she wasn’t able to be in the operating room).

A little later Nathan came to the recovery room to tell me that she weighed 8 lbs 6 oz and was 20.75″.  And he also told me they had already found the answer to her condition!

An EKG had shown her pediatric cardiologist that her condition is something called Supraventricular Tachycardia.  It’s not uncommon in infants, and usually resolves itself by 6 months of age, if not sooner.  They told us they would be trying Digoxin and, if that didn’t work, there were other things they could do as well.  She couldn’t eat until the situation was resolved.

After 2 hours in recovery, they wheeled me into the NICU where I was able to spend a few precious minutes with her before going to my room for the next several days.  I was exhausted after all of the excitement, and we went immediately to bed, although the evening was far from restful as my vitals were being checked often.

The next morning, we learned that Elena had responded wonderfully to the Digoxin, and not much later we learned that I could finally feed her around noon.  They told us to expect her to remain admitted for 5 nights, but they would consider releasing her when I was discharged myself after 4 nights.  After a long 4 nights in the hospital filled with trips to the NICU to feed her and back to my room to receive meds and eat, our discharge day finally came, and we received the best news:  they were allowing Elena to come home, too!  We were both discharged on Tuesday, January 29, 2013.

The last few days have been wonderful – it is so great to have her all to ourselves and to not have to leave her in the NICU.  She’s such a sweet, sweet baby, preferring sleep to most other things including eating.  We wake her every 3 hours to check her heartbeat,  change her diaper, and feed her.  And then twice a day we administer her Digoxin by mouth.  She’ll be going to the pediatric cardiologist regularly.  Other than that, we are doing all of the normal newborn things.

I still can’t believe she is here, and I’m so very grateful she is thriving.  A minor heart condition likely to be outgrown I am able to handle.  Far, far worse things could have happened.  Things I can’t even let my mind consider.

We are still adjusting to our new arrival, and I’m feeling good, but still recovering and won’t be able to resume normal activities for 6 weeks.  Unfortunately, that includes lifting Liam, which I absolutely hate.  He doesn’t quite understand it either.  But I’ve been letting him crawl into my lap in the evenings, and he seems mostly satisfied with that.  He also adores his baby sister.  The first thing he does when he gets home from daycare is go looking for “baby”, and he constantly wants to hold her so he can kiss her.  He also likes to see her in the co-sleeper and the Rock N Play.  The other day he pointed to the co-sleeper and said “in there?”, after which I put her inside, and he said “yaaaay!”   It’s very cute to watch him with her, and I can’t wait to see their sibling relationship develop.

Here are a few pictures I took both in the hospital and at home (with the exception of the first two, which are sneak peeks from Donna Harris Photography).  Unfortunately, as her birth was completely unexpected, I only had my phone camera in the hospital.  I should have our professional pictures back in a couple weeks, and I am very excited to share those when they arrive.  Her newborn photography session is on Monday.

Being BornPhoto by Donna Harris

Being Born
Photo by Donna Harris

Brand NewDonna Harris Photography

Brand New
Donna Harris Photography

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Going Home

Going Home

Hair

Hair

Meeting big brother for the first time

Meeting big brother for the first time

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