Saturday, May 30, 2009

WIllow's First 100 Days

Hi everyone,

I'm back down in Marquette for the weekend, back in the Beacon House. Yesterday was Willow's 100th day of life and 100th day in the NICU. Just like they do with the president, let's take a look back at what she's accomplished:

* She went from an oscillating vent to CPAP (to a regular vent for a while when she was sick), back to CPAP, to a nasal cannula (and back to CPAP a couple times) and finally to breathing on her own!

*She has nearly quadrupled her birth weight (she's 6 pounds, 13 ounces today).

*She's developed a love of good literature (favorites being "Are You My Mother?" and "Goodnight Moon").

*She's extubated herself while on a vent, as well as many times with her NG tube. She also got quite good at removing her CPAP from her face and moving it up to her forehead. You might be able to see in this photo, her NG tube is out because she just ripped it out.

*She's attracted legions of fans from around the globe (okay, I think the only international fans are my aunt and uncle in Australia, but it sounded cool, OK?)

*She's able to follow objects and faces with her eyes

*She's wrapped mommy and daddy around her little finger, as well as grandparents, aunties and some of the nurses.

Um...I think that's about it. Way to go, Willow! May your next 100 days be just as productive.

So I got down here at 7:30 last night. It would've been earlier, had I not gotten in a car accident on the way down. Yep, poor Subie has been towed to an auto body shop for the second time in 6 months (the first time was in January when a plow truck pulled out in front of us in Mass City when we were on our way to MN for my grandpa's funeral). I was about a half hour away from Marquette when a car two in front of me slowed way down suddenly to turn left. The car behind him hit him and I hit that car. The first thing that crossed my mind after the impact was "oh no, now I'm not going to get to see Willow tonight!". The second thing was "oh crap, when will I be able to pump and where?" I was already overdue for pumping and, as you moms out there know, the boobs won't wait, at least not without protest!

Mine was the only car in that accident left undriveable. The hood got crunched pretty good. The airbag didn't come out. Everyone was fine, although I think I have a little whiplash or something; my neck is sort of sore. So we pulled into an auto salvage place that happened to be right there (except for my car which was left on the shoulder), and while we were waiting for the cops to show up, I went into the place's bathroom and pumped standing up. It was a disgusting bathroom and not pleasant. Also not pleasant was explaining to the dude that owned the place that I needed to use his bathroom and his electricity so I could pump my breasts. Ha. While I was pumping, I heard a crash, and when I came out, I saw that another accident had just occurred. I don't know exactly what happened, but I'm guessing they weren't focusing on the road and were gawking at our accident. A big yellow Hummer, which apparently was going very fast, clipped another truck pulling a trailer. The Hummer ended up about 150 yards down the highway and hit a guardrail. It ended up losing 2 of its wheels and had to be towed away too. The trailer truck then hit the first car in line from my accident while it was sitting in the parking lot! What a mess. You'll probably be able to read all about it in tomorrow's Marquette Mining Journal. A 5-car accident is big news around here. So anyway, I called Josh and he ended up calling Nate, Ellen's dad. Nate was my savior and got me to the NICU so I could see Willow. Nate and Lauren live in Eau Clair, but hadn't gone back yet since Ellen was discharged; they were still staying at Lauren's parent's place in Ishpeming, which is very close to where the accident was. So Nate came and got me and brought me to Marquette. I made it to the Beacon House just in time to check in before they closed. Thanks, Nate!!!! It was such a relief after all that to get in to the quiet of the NICU and just hug my daughter. I didn't even care about the car or the accident as long as I got to see her.

So here's the Willow update: not much has changed with her feedings. She's still nippling once a shift, and taking all of it some of the time. The bradys have decreased though, so that's good. She had labs done yesterday, and her electrolytes are looking good. Her blood pressure is also much better than it was. However, her hemoglobin has decreased. That's her red blood cells. She's apparently always had "anemia of prematurity" but now it's combining with a "physiological anemia" which apparently all babies get at a certain age. Her doctor thinks that fixing that will give her more energy for nippling. She said that's what she thinks did the trick for Ellen, and it's helped with many other babies too. So Willow is getting a blood transfusion today. Unfortunately it won't be Grandpa Chuck's blood this time. The last blood he donated has expired, and even if he were to donate today (which he couldn't since he's in Minnesota right now) the blood isn't ready for 5 days. Josh couldn't give her his blood either for that reason. (He has the same blood type as Willow and Grandpa too). So Willow will be getting a random good samaritan's blood. I guess that's OK. Maybe the new blood will be the turning point and give her some more energy for sucking. I hope so. Willow's nurse today said once she had to get a blood transfusion and afterward she felt like a new woman.

When I saw Willow last night she looked different already. She has gained about a half a pound since I last saw her. She's getting so big and so cute. She was also wearing some really stylish new jammies we got from our friends Katy and Nate. The hat was made by Josh's sister Janna. It also has a matching sweater which Willow will try out soon.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Slow but sure

Hi everyone,

Lindsay here. It's been a busy week at home with work and stuff around the house. We both really miss Willow. We feel bad about leaving her down there with no one around who loves her...but we really have no choice. We can't afford for either of us to lose our job, so we gotta keep going.

Since the last post, Willow hasn't had any more feeding-related bradycardias. She had one quick non-feeding-related one, but I think that was just a fluke. She's been taking her whole feeds again too, for the most part. We don't know when they'll start increasing the frequency again; I imagine they'll take it a little slower this time. So, we're glad the bradys have stopped and are hopeful that Willow will pick it up again soon.

I'm heading back down again tomorrow after work, and Josh is probably working Saturday and going down after that. Then we can take some new photos. Sorry this is such a quick post; there's just not much news!

Lindsay

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

6 1/2 pounds.

Hey everyone,

We're both now back in Houghton. Lindsay decided to come back for the rest of the week and do a little work. We felt that it was the best option right now. Willow is really going to need Lindsay when she gets out of the NICU. Any time Lindsay can get in at work is extra time to spend with Willow at home. Plus it will help her from having a huge back log of work to catch up on after her leave is up.

Willow is starting to improve with her weight and feedings. Today she hit 6 lbs. 8 oz. She'd been stuck at 6 lbs. 4 oz. for a while. It was probably due to how hard she was working at nippleing. Now that she's had a little break she's starting to put on some weight again. This afternoon she did really well on her feeding. She took the entire bottle in 20 minutes and didn't have any heart rate drops. Her nurse said it was a perfect feeding. We were really hoping for some good news. It's helped lift our spirits. They are nippleing her once per shift (3 times per day) right now. As she continues to improve they will increase the frequency.

The very good news of the day is that little Ellen got discharged today. I got a text from Nate and he said so far so good. We're already looking forward to reuniting the two little NICU girls.

The weather up here was fairly brisk today. It just got back from a walk with Scout and it was about 45 degrees with a light mist in the air. It was actually enjoyable. Spring is finally starting to show itself. All the apple trees are just about to peek in color. Now all we need is Willow at home and life will be good.

See ya later,

Josh


We've got the room almost all set. Just add Willow



We got this painting when on vacation in the Dominican Republic. We got it before Lindsay was even pregnant, but knowing that it would look perfect in a nursery.



This video gets good at about 35 seconds so be patient. You've got to watch out for those wandering hands. Poor Willow, laughing at her expense.
video

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Little Stinker!



Hello,

Well I hardly even want to write this post, but here goes. First of all Willow is totally 100% healthy, and that is the most important thing to remember. But, we are probably looking at another week here in the NICU. Willow has continued to have bradys with her feedings, and is rarely taking a full feeding from the bottle/breast. We talked to her doctor again today and she is still thinking that this is all related to Willow getting over stimulated and pooping out. So now we are nippling only when awake, and at least every other feeding is going through the NG tube.

None of this is something they haven't seen before here in the NICU. In fact it's fairly common, especially for 26 weekers. We wouldn't even be all that disappointed, considering she's otherwise healthy, except we were expecting to be home two days ago, and now we aren't really sure when Willow will be home. I just have to keep reminding myself and Lindsay that eventually we will be home and we'll be so occupied with Willow that this will all fade into our distant memory.

Willow, contemplating how long she should stay in the NICU


We are going to check back into the Beacon House tonight. We aren't going to be rooming in anymore, another mom needs the room, so we figure it would be good to get back off the hospital campus. I think, however, that when Willow is ready to go home again we won't even need to room in again. We pretty much have down how and when to give her meds and how to deal with all her cares. So hopefully when Willow's ready we'll just spring right on home.

Tonight we're going to go out to Lauren's mom's camp which is about 30 minutes from here. For all you non-yoopers a "camp" is the same as a cabin or cottage, that's just what they call them up here. It'll be good to get out of the hospital for a little while and get some fresh air. Also Nate said there will be beer out there, and I could really use one right now.

Willow getting read her favorite book, "Are you My Mother". Look at the pretty pictures.

No need for anyone to send sorrys or anything like that in the comments. We know you all feel for us and instead keep channeling postive thoughts for a healthy baby to come home soon.

Take care,

Josh

She's starting to really like her paci. I'm not sure if that's good or not, oh well it makes her happy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Willow's the boss



Hey all,

Josh back here blogging for the first time in a while. Well, I was hoping to be writing this from the comfort of our own home by now, but Willow decided she wasn't ready to leave yet. Everything was nicely on track up until Lindsay roomed in on Thursday night. That night Willow started having bradys, heart rate drops, with her feedings. She had one or two with every feeding up until I got here yesterday around 4 PM. Willow's doctor thinks it's related to how fast she was progressing the last week or so. She thinks Willow is just getting tired out with all the feedings. So they put her on structured feedings every 3 hours hoping that would turn things around. So far it's been hit and miss. I've had a couple feedings with out a brady, and I've had a couple of feedings with a brady. She also is only supposed to eat for 20-30 minutes, and for one of the feedings she didn't take everything, so the NG feeding tube had to go back in.


Mom and Willow reading Goodnight Moon



Willow isn't acting really any differently. She's still nice and spunky and seems to be happy and comfortable, so I guess were just waiting it out right now and hoping that she gets the feedings down good again soon.

We're still rooming in. Last night we got a hospitality room and took shifts here with Willow. The hospitality rooms are right here in the hospital, so it makes it very convenient when you need to come down at 4 AM.


Check out Willow's pointy chin. She got it from her mom.



I guess I'm not exactly sure what the time table is anymore. I'm not even sure if we'll keep rooming in if she isn't taking all her feedings, but I'm really hoping we won't be here for too much longer.

Yesterday was Willow's original due date. Although, another doctor told us it was the 29th. So sometime this next week Willow would have been born. However, we all know Willow does what she wants, and I have a feeling Lindsay and I are going to have our hands full.

Hope you all have a fun filled Memorial Day Weekend. Maybe we'll still get outa here and be able to enjoy it ourselves.

See ya,

Josh

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"The Car Seat Test", and other photos

Hi again,

I just checked out of the Beacon House. It was pretty emotional, actually. Yeah, I cried. And hugged the manager. I don't know what we would've done without that place. It's been our home for 3 months. It felt so great to leave it though. Wow.
I'm in the OB waiting room right now, waiting for the rooming-in room to finish being cleaned. I have my computer now, so hopefully I can get some photos up.

This is Willow as she began the "car seat test". For this test, they put the baby in the car seat for at least as long as their drive home is. They will hook Willow up to the monitors and she can't have any apneas, bradys, or desatting episodes. Otherwise she fails! So right now I'm not sure if it's over or not, or if she passed. I hope she did. Doesn't she look like a big girl in the car seat!



















Here's some of me and Lauren, and Willow and Ellen. We're definitely keeping in touch with these guys. They've become friends. Someday Willow and Ellen will laugh at these photos.

















Well, better go. Time to move in!

Rooming in Tonight

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to write a post to let you know that everything is still on track. I should be rooming in starting late afternoon or evening today. Wr're just waiting for the other two babies in the two rooming in rooms to be discharged before I can go in. Sometimes, if the OB area isn't busy, NICU moms get to room in in an OB room. That would be much preferrable because those rooms have windows and are bigger, but there's no way that's happening because OB is SO busy right now. In fact, there was a pregnant woman at the Beacon House this morning who is in early labor, and she can't get admitted until some people get discharged! She didn't seem too concerned about it though. Anyway, whatever, I'm happy to sit in a tiny room with no windows if it means we get to leave soon. :)

Last night was a little stressful. I got to the NICU at like 7:30 and Willow was asleep. The feeding schedule they have her on now is that she has to have 140 mLs every shift (every 8 hours) as opposed to 55 every 3 hours. It can average out. Well, when I got there her nurse said she hadn't been eating that well so far that shift and still had to take 80 mLs by shift change at 11. But she was still asleep. So we woke her up and I got her to take 50. Then we put her back down, I went to pump, and when I got back it was 10:00 and she still had to take 30 mLs by 11. And she was asleep. So I woke her up again and was basically trying to force milk down her throat-poor thing. The stakes were high because if she didn't take it, they would maybe have to put the NG tube back in and the discharge would be put off. So I was sweating. Lauren was there too, trying to feed Ellen, and Ellen was being a little stinker too. We decided they talked before we got there and made a pact to try to freak out their mommies. Anyway, Willow only took 15 mLs, but her nurse said not to worry, she wouldn't put the tube back in and they'd see how she did for night shift. When I woke up at 4 AM to pump, I called over there and her nurse said she still wasn't doing that great. But, then when I woke up at 7:30 and called, they said she had a huge poop, then took 60 mLs at 7:00 and then woke up hungry 15 minutes later and took another 40! So, I guess she was just a little backed up. Today they said everything is still on track. Whew!! We were laughing last night about the situation; when has a sleeping baby ever caused a mom that much stress? Usually it's the other way around! Ha.
By the way, I haven't mentioned Willow's weight lately. She's 6 pounds, 4 ounces today. She's been gaining weight nore slowly because of all the nippling. It burns more calories than being gavage-fed.
Sorry there haven't been any photos the last couple days. The Beacon House connection has been bad lately and won't take photos. I'm writing this post from the OB waiting room. I'll be able to post some photos when I start rooming in and have my own computer over here at the hospital.
OK, more to come later. Thanks everyone, for the happy comments!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Her lightbulb has turned on!

Hi everyone,

There is so much good news today I don't even know where to begin. Willow's little lightbulb in her brain has officially turned on. It's really amazing, actually. They kept saying it would happen all at once as she neared her due date - that she would suddenly "get" the sucking thing and just take off, and she has. On Sunday and Monday she was still taking half her feeds or less by nipple, and then she would sometimes not take the whole thing. Then all of sudden on Monday night, something clicked, and since that 11:00 PM feeding she's taken EVERY feed by nipple and eaten the WHOLE thing. I still can hardly believe it. Her due date is on Friday. Just like they said. The human brain is an amazing thing! She actually wakes up every 3 hours now for feeding, and she actually fusses like she's hungry, like a regular baby! Sometimes she's so upset and hungry I can barely get that nipple in her mouth fast enough! I've still been using the bottle. I don't want to throw her off and, like I said, we can work on breastfeeding at home.

She's been doing so great they took out her NG tube (the feeding tube in her nose) today! They also took off her pulse oximeter. That's the thing on her foot that measures her oxygen saturation levels. They decided she doesn't need it anymore because she hasn't has a desatting episode in so long. She's also been doing great with her Apneas and Bradys. Her nurse today said that, as of now, it doesn't look like she'll have to go home with a monitor! Let's see...what else...oh, they started her on the Neosure formula today. See, forever, Willow's been getting every other feeding breastmilk and every other feeding Human Milk Fortifier formula, because it has more calories and has extra calcium and phosphorous, which she needs. But they don't send babies home on the H.M.F.because it's not really available outside a hospital and it's REALLY expensive. So they switch them to Neosure a few days before discharge. It's a preemie formula that can be bought at the store and it's much cheaper.

They're still talking rooming in-now they're saying maybe tonight or tomorrow! I'll put updates on the blog (hopefully-I've heard rooming-in is a little bit of a shock to the system but I should be able to bring my laptop in there).

Goooooo Willow! Rah rah rah!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Willow!

Hello,

Sorry for no post last night. I wrote a huge long one and then the Internet connection crapped out on me and it was lost. Actually, I'm glad it did because I was extremely ornery yesterday due to a plugged milk duct (OW) and a car seat fiasco that I won't bore you with, and it was a very negative post. I'm in a much better mood today. Willow is on a roll!! As of right now, 2:45 PM, she hasn't been gavaged at all since 11 PM last night! That's right - she's taken 5 feedings in a row, the entire feeding, entirely by bottle or breast. Woo hoo! Willow's nurse today said it looks like maybe her "lightbulb is turning on". Then she was saying something about maybe rooming in this weekend. God, I hope she's not teasing me. But if it doesn't work out that way, I will not get depressed or upset. I will roll with it.

It's Willow's 3-month birthday today and I made a little sign to celebrate the occasion:



I told her she was acting like such a big girl today with all her awesome sucking, and that gavage feedings are for babies, not big 3-month old girls. :)

The last two days, Willow has been out of her private room. They needed it for another baby whose mom is rooming in right now. The good news is, she's in a little nook with her buddy Ellen! The nurses say the two girls chat back and forth with their grunts. They're so cute; Lauren (Ellen's mom) and I decided they look alike. They have so much in common. They're about the same size, and Ellen is just two days younger (gestationally) than Willow. They were born early for the same reason too - HELLP syndrome.

My parents and Josh are on their way down right now to attend our infant CPR class tonight.

That's all for today. Everyone please cheer Willow on so she can become the little sucking champ she needs to be. The end is so close I can taste it!

OK, the Beacon House Internet connection has been even worse than usual lately, and it will not let me upload photos. Sorry! Maybe I'll have to bring the computer over to the hospital tomorrow or something.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Willow's on the Website

Hi everyone,

It was a good Sunday. Willow's blood pressure has come down a bit and she's still acting perfectly healthy. She nippled at 11 PM last night, 5 AM, 8 AM and 2 PM today, taking over half her bottle each time (I can't remember the exact amounts she took but it was a good effort each time). She's getting there, slowly but surely. I'm heading back over for her 8 PM feeding pretty soon to try again. Josh left a couple hours ago, taking back the two newest milk bins as usual.


When Willow was born, we didn't put her on the "baby page" on the MGHS website. I don't really know why; I guess we had other things on our minds. Yesterday one of the nurses asked if we want to now and we were like, "heck yeah!" Of course, Willow's already an Internet celebrity, but she deserves to be on there like any other baby, if for no other reason, to show the parents of that other Willow (born in March) that Willow Hope is the original and they're copycats! :) You can check out her listing here. I wish she could've had her picture on the Aspirus Keweenaw website instead, but oh well.

That's about all the news for today; here are some more photos:

If you're persistent, you can get a preemie to eat even while seemingly asleep!
















Catching flies with Daddy after a tiring feeding

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bye Bye, Roomie



Willow's alone in her room again-her boyfriend Alexander got moved out today. He's not discharged yet, but it looks like he will be soon. He got moved to the "rooming in room", where babies go right before they get discharged. The parents can sleep in the room to get ready for the reality of living at home with a preemie. Although I'm sure Willow and Alexander will miss chatting back and forth via their farts (which they seemed to, at times), we're glad to have the room to ourselves again. It was really too small for two babies and two breastfeedng moms.
Willow was a sleepy baby today. I tried to nurse her for three of the feedings. At 8 AM she took 10 mLs and then conked out; at 2 and 5 PM she was asleep. Period. Wanted nothing to do with eating. It was frustrating. We went out to lunch with some new friends, Andi and Jim. They had 26-week twins in the NICU who are almost a year old. It was good to see them, and their babies are so damn cute, and chubby and fun. Then we went out to dinner with Ellen's parents, which was also fun. When we got back just now, we called Martha, Willow's nurse, and she said Willow woke up finally for her 8 PM feeding and took 46 mLs from the bottle. So it wasn't a complete waste of a day.
We didn't really get any more news about Willow's blood pressure/kidney/lung/peeing issue. One good thing is that her blood pressure was down quite a bit today from the last few days. I don't know if it's because of the diuretic or what. Despite her sleepiness, she was acting perfectly fine, not sick or anything.

This was her typical state today. This was after we had given up trying to feed her for one of the sessions today - completely, peacefully asleep as only a baby can be:














Willow probably wouldn't like that we posted this shot, as it's not all that flattering, but I think I'm going to anyway because it's funny. This was mid-diaper change. She hates getting her diaper changed and usually grunts (remember she grunts instead of crying) her way through the event.

Friday, May 15, 2009

39 Weeks Gestation



Hi everyone,

I'm starting to feel like a broken record on these posts; it seems like every day is about the same as far as feeding goes. I hope the blog's not gettng boring! This morning, Willow took 25 mLs breastfeeding. Then I went to pump, and when I went back in, Josh was there holding her, which was a surprise. I knew he was coming down early because he had a sprinkler job to do in Big Bay. But I thought he'd pretty much work a full day and then come over. Turns out the job wasn't until 2:00 so he came over first. Later this evening Willow took another full feed and then some.

It was a sort of eventful day in a not-so-good way though. Willow's had high blood pressure the last few days. They couldn't figure out why. They did an ultrasound of her kidneys and collected some pee. How do you collect pee from an infant, you ask? By taping a little plastic bag to her bum. Well, the pee came back normal. The ultrasound seemed pretty normal too. Dr. Grandy seems very unconcerned and even said the "H" word to us. Neither he nor Dr. Frei has mentioned "Home" to us once yet but he said the Radiologist asked him what Willow's symptoms were and he said "none! This baby's on the fast track to going home!" So...we're not sure what to think. He said this issue has not changed anything as far as the timetable for going home, and she may just have to go home on some medicine. They're still doing a couple more tests, and the whole issue seems pretty inconclusive and confusing (as so much in medicine can seem to a layperson, I've learned), but basically I think it has something to do with her chronic lung disease. For now all they've done is put her on a diuretic. Although she's still peeing, so that confuses me too. Sorry if what I'm saying makes no sense; there are just so many parts to it and none of them make much sense to us either! We were grateful to Dr. Grandy for taking the time to try to explain it to us. I decided I like Dr. Grandy despite the fact that he still thinks Willow's a boy! It's actually funny. I was there at her bedside today and he was examining her, He saw her girl parts and a minute later he still called her a "he". Ha. Anyway, stay tuned for developments, but I don't think this is an issue to worry about. (I keep telling myself that).

Look at her checking out Daddy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

12 Weeks Old!

Hello,
Well, Willow was born 12 weeks ago today. This would be the last day of my maternity leave if I had not gone back to work for those weeks in between. The leave I still have is counting down and it's really stressing me out. I have about 7 weeks left now. I just want to have enough leave left when Willow comes home to be able to get to know her out of the hospital and get into some sort of routine with feeding, sleeping, etc. Moms of term babies: don't ever take for granted those 3 months you get to spend home from work with your baby (despite how much better women in other countries have it)!
Anyway, enough complaining. I have a healthy daughter against the odds and that is what's important. We had a good day too. My mom came down this morning. The grandparent ban was lifted a couple days ago, so she got to see Willow for the first time in almost a month. Dr. Grandy officially gave the word to nipple Willow whenever she's awake during a feeding time! He also increased her feeding amount to 52 mLs. I nursed her at 10 AM and she took 45 mLs; they gavaged the remaining 7. At 4PM she took another 45 and they didn't bother with the rest. I went back at 6:30 and gave her her Thursday bath and tried feeding again. She had some bad hiccups. Willow's nurse suggested giving her 10 mLs in a bottle to help the hiccups go away. She sucked those 10 mLs down in about 2 seconds flat, and then I tried to put her to breast, and she wouldn't take any more and fell asleep. So frustrating! And it made me again question my decision not to bottle-feed. But, she is making progress with the breastfeeding, it's just slower. I've been using a nipple shield too. It's this silicone thing you put over your nipple to make it more bottle-like. Weird, I know. But Willow likes it. I see it as a compromise. But I swear if she's still here next Thursday I may crack and just go with the bottle every time. Actually, next Thursday would be a great day for her to get discharged, because next Wednesday, me, Josh and my parents are taking an infant CPR class down here in Marquette. I'm not sure what we'd do with Willow during the class if she got discharged before that!

My mom and I had a good day both in and out of the NICU. She dragged me to Target even though I didn't need anything and forced me to let her buy Willow a bouncy-chair thing. One of those you put the baby in and it has the toys dangling above for them to bat at. I didn't really think I needed that, but I finally conceded that I may need it to put Willow in when I shower. No, seriously. It is cute and I think Willow will like it. We also went out to eat...twice. That's about all the news for today. Josh is coming down tomorrow and Willow and I can't wait.
Willow's outfit in these photos is so mismatched, it looks like she dressed herself. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Day...

I couldn't think of what to title today's post; nothing noteworthy really happened today. Willow didn't eat as well as yesterday. At her 10 AM feeding she was wide awake but took only 35 mLs. Still nothing to complain about, I guess. I skipped her 1:00 feeding (because she's not supposed to nipple 2 feedings in a row) and went back for the 4:00. She was fast asleep and wouldn't be roused. Ditto for the 7 PM. So now I'm sitting here at the Beacon House, waiting, because Willow's nurse is going to call me if Willow is awake at 10 PM so I can run over there for that. The good news is, last night, Willow's nurses pretty much overrode doctor's orders and decided to nipple her when she was awake, which she was at 10 PM and 4 AM. She took 30 and 35 mLs those times. So you could look at it as Willow having successful nippling sessions 3 times in 24 hours. That's a lot of sucking for a little baby to do!
I got the worst kink in my back breastfeeding this morning. Ow! I think I was concentrating so hard on getting Willow to latch on, I just tensed my back into a knot!
One baby got discharged and no new ones have been admitted, so the NICU overcrowding situation is hopefully easing up. One other baby will likely get discharged before Willow and then...hopefully...she'll be next. It's crazy what a NICU veteran I feel like. I feel so wise and world-weary compared to the new moms I see coming around with their still-swollen baby bellies and the scared look in their eyes. Ah, memories. It seems so long ago I was there. The pump room is definitely the mom-meeting place. The standard get-to-know-you greeting seems to be "how is your baby doing?" Then it's "how early was he/she?" and "Why was he/she born early?". They're always amazed when I tell them Willow's story. I hope it make them feel hopeful and not as scared, because their baby wasn't nearly as premature as Willow (there haven't been any 26-weekers in here since Willow; in fact I think a 30-weeker is the next youngest that's been born). Josh and I were laughing last weekend because we were walking down the hall in the OB area and I was whistling a tune. Then we realized I was whistling the tune the baby ventilator makes when it alarms. We started laughing, and a nurse was walking behind us and goes, "was that the vent alarm?" Ha. You know you've been in the NICU too long when...
I got the cutest video today, but I don't think I'll be able to upload it. We lost the good wireless connection we were picking up for awhile and we're back to the slow and unreliable Beacon House wireless. It takes forever just to upload photos; videos would pretty much overload it. Well, here are some pics.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Willow Sucks!

Hi everyone,

Willow had another suck-tastic day today. I nursed her twice again, and she took 50 mLs the first time and 55 the second time! She actually ate more than she was "supposed" to that second time. She was so cute, when I went in she was wide awake and hungry! She was rooting around, grunting and sucking on her fist. She even perservered through a couple burp breaks. After she got post-weighed we celebrated her 55-gram weight gain by reading her favorite book, "Are You My Mother?". She was still awake when I had to leave to go pump.
I met with Willow's doctor today. It didn't go that well. I'm not going to trash talk, but let's just say I think she's a little overworked and hasn't had time to think about Willow much with all the other babies that have been admitted. She mentioned how Willow has done so awesome and much better than was expected when she was born. I know that, and I am eternally grateful to her and the rest of the staff for taking such great care of Willow. That's all I'm going to say about that in this public forum.
Willow had her follow-up eye exam this morning and passed once again. She doesn't have to have another one until she's a year old.
Somehow I forgot to take any photos today. Sorry about that! She looked funny today too. She's pretty much outgrown all of her preemie clothes and she was wearing a too-small set of jammies. I'll be sure to take some pics tomorrow.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Great Day for Sucking!



Hi everyone,

Willow had a great day today. She had her two longest nursing sessions yet. At her 10:00 AM feeding, she took 50 mLs! That number happens to be her full feed number these days, so they didn't even gavage her at all. I actually didn't quite believe that number; there've been other times when she nursed for almost as long and the scale said she took 10 or 15 mLs. I'm just not sure how accurate it is. But if it says she took 50 mLs, I'll take it! At her 7 PM feeding, it was definitely the longest she's ever stayed on. She even latched back on and continued after we took a burp break, which she's never done before. Normally, if she slows down, I'll stop to burp her and then try to put her back on but she will forget what she was supposed to be doing and fall asleep. This time she remembered and kept going. She was a champ! The scale only said 20 mLs for that one, but whatever. I'm just so proud of how well she did today. I can't wait until tomorrow to see if she does just as well. She's been on twice-daily nipplings for what seems like forever now. Hopefully if she does this good tomorrow, her doctor will increase it to 3 times a day. I actually have a set appointment with Dr. Frei tomorrow; she's been so busy with the exploding NICU and all the more critical babies, we haven't had a chance to connect and talk about Willow for weeks. Hopefully I can get a better idea of what is going on and get some sort of estimate for a discharge date. Josh has the car seat installed and ready to go; now we just need a baby to put in it!


Aunt Jill asked if Willow got me a mother's day present; as a matter of fact, she did. Check out the little flower pot the NICU nurses made for each "NICU Mommy". That really took some ambition to get every baby's handprint on those pots!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

6 pounds!



Hello,

It was a good weekend here in Marquette. Josh and I spent a lot of time at the NICU with Willow. My pumping schedule has gotten a little more complicated with trying to feed Willow. I have to make sure that when we go there for her feeding time, I haven't just pumped, but also that it hasn't been too long since I've pumped or I might drown her. It's a delicate balance. Then if we go in there and she's completely conked out and not awake enough to breastfeed (which happened a few times this weekend), I can hang out for a while, but soon I have to leave to go pump! And then it's just 2 hours until the next feeding, so I only do a half-pump so I still have that perfect balance for the next feeding... it gets complicated!
She did pretty well this weekend, pretty much maintained the status quo. She took 35 mLs from a bottle for a night shift nurse on Saturday night and took 10 and 15 mLs from me. We had a little scare this evening. I was pumping, and Josh was over by Ellen's bed talking to Lauren when he heard the Brady alarm coming from Willow's room. He went over there and the nurse had a "look" on her face. Willow had ripped her feeding tube out mid-meal and aspirated some of the milk. She had a Brady and looked pale. It turned out it wasn't as bad as it seemed though. She didn't aspirate much at all and her lungs sounded clear. Her stats were a little unsteady for several minutes afterwards, but she bounced back pretty quick and it was actually the next feeding that she took the 15 mLs from me. Whew.
When we went to the NICU Saturday morning, Willow's chart said she gained 4 ounces overnight and had broken 6 pounds. The nurse said it was probably not right and it'd probably go back down a bit the next day. But on Sunday she'd gained another ounce! So she's now up to 6 pounds 4 ounces! She's growing like a weed. You can actually pick her up more like a regular baby now, under the armpits, as opposed to micro-preemie style of sliding both hands under her prone body.


I remember when she was tiny I was afraid to move her like the nurses did. It always felt like her head was going to fall off. Now we're both much more confident. She's still bald as a billiard ball though, unlike her roommate Alexander who has a ton of black spiky hair. I was bald until I was like a year old though, so maybe she's taking after me.
My parents came down today, and although they still can't see Willow because of the visiting restrictions due to the swine flu (sorry Scott, H1N1 flu, that is :) ), we still had a good time and went out for a "linner" (lunch/dinner) buffet at a nice restaurant for Mother's Day. Josh went back to Houghton tonight and I'm on my own again.
Until tomorrow...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

38 Weeks Gestational Age



Hello,

Willow was actually 38 weeks yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to blog last night. When I was pregnant, I was never quite sure if my due date was May 22 or May 29. The doctor said one thing and the sonographer said another. It just occurred to me that with Willow's age, they've gone by the 22nd date. Fine with me!
I found out yesterday that Willow did better on Wednesday with feeding than I thought. Turns out, while I was at my class, at her 7:00 feeding, she took a whole bottle in 30 minutes for her nurse. I just wish she would do that well at the breast. I guess she's nipple confused or something. She does much better with bottles. I don't know if we've ever mentioned this in the blog, but every other feeding, Willow is getting formula. It's because she has low levels of calcium and I think phosphorous (sp?), and the special preemie formula gives her additional amounts of that while breastmilk doesn't. So I guess it's only natural she'd prefer bottles-they flow quicker and easier, I think. I'm not giving up though, dammit - I've pumped this long and I'm determined to breastfeed Willow! Yesterday she took 14 mLs from me and didn't have any any spells or anything. We'll see how she does today.
Willow has a roommate now- a boy too! I told her she was going to get cooties. :) The NICU has "exploded", as Dr. Frei put it. Babies everywhere. Her roomie's name is Alexander. He's a big boy and very cute. He just got moved in last night and we haven't met his parents yet, although if I'm not mistaken I think I met his mom in the pump room. Having a roomie isn't all that conducive to breastfeeding, but we'll make it work. I'm not that modest.
Josh got in last night pretty late and came straight to the NICU. He and Willow were very happy to see each other. Willow definitely recognizes his voice. I guess it probably sounds a lot different from mine or any of the (all female) nurses.
I had a meeting for work down here yesterday morning. It was conveniently located at NMU, right across the street from the hospital and a block from the Beacon House. It was for the HR group I'm a member of. Some of the women in it got a baby gift which was very thoughtful of them considering we barely know each other. Thanks,Mary and Karen!
Someone (r.a.f. - who are you??) commented that the picture of Willow from a couple days ago looks like she's leaving a present for us in her diaper. Willow looks like that a lot. She doesn't really cry but she spends a lot of time grunting. It's pretty much the main sound that she makes. Apparently it's a preemie thing. It's funny.
Well, time to go visit Willow. Enjoy your Saturday!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

11 Weeks Old!

Hi everyone,

Willow is 11 weeks old today and is up to 5 pounds 10 ounces. Her feedings didn't go quite as well as yesterday. I went over this morning and gave her a bath, which was fun, and then tried to feed her. She wasn't having it though-I think the bath tired her right out because she was just conked out. I went back for the 1:00 feeding and it was about the same. Then she had a bad apnea during her gavage (tube) feeding, after I left. She turned pale and everything. I don't know what that was about. I went back for a third try for her 4:00 feeding. She did a little better and took 10 mLs. I went back again later, in between feedings, at 9:00 and of course when I walked in, she was wide awake in her bed, just looking around, perfectly content. I picked her up and she was rooting around and sucking on her hand and acting hungry, but I couldn't feed her because it was the wrong time! It figures.
I took a class at the hospital tonight on infant care. It was OK; I learned a few things. It was a little hard emotionally, which I didn't expect. Everyone else there was really pregnant, just like I should be right now. I know I shouldn't still feel sad about that with all the good things that have happened and with Willow being healthy and coming home soon. I did though. But then when the class was over I went and saw Willow and felt better. :)
I hope everyone has a good Friday! Here's a photo.


p.s. I agree wholeheartedly with the two aunties' comments from yesterday. I have no idea why the United States is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to family-friendly workplace laws. I think I even did wrote a paper on this in college. We're behind on many other things relating to families and kids too though...did you know we have a very high infant mortality rate compared to the rest of the civilized world? Even Guam and Cuba do better than us! Sad. Anyway, that was a tangent...good night.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mom's on Maternity Leave!

Hi everyone,

Yesterday was my last day of work. Hopefully. I'm going to go back next week on Thursday and Friday IF Willow is still a ways from being discharged. I guess I really don't know how close she is (nurses are still tight-lipped about it), but it seems to me she has to be getting pretty close. Before she's discharged, they'll want me and Josh (or maybe just me) to "room in" with Willow for a couple days too, so we can get used to her night rituals and feedings. So when that happens I'll obviously have to be down here for that. Now that I'm pretty much done with work, the pressure's on for Willow to get out soon, because my maternity leave is counting down. I've got a little over 8 weeks left right now. Go, Willow!
She's taken a whole bottle a couple times now, and tonight she took 16 mLs from the breast! That was the first time she took any measurable amount that way, so I was very happy. I'm thinking the switch in her brain is starting to click on. She's just got to figure it out soon!
I had a doctor's appointment with a specialist today. We're trying to figure out why I got preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome when I was pregnant with Willow, which led to her very premature birth. I won't go into details but it sounds like it might have just been a fluke, at least that's what the doctor thinks. I don't have any risk factors for those things. So I guess the good news is that we might be able to have another kid someday. Not that we're thinking about that much right now though. We have to get Willow home first!
Poor Josh is back at home now, grinding out the hours at work, like I have been the last several weeks. I feel for him because it is definitely a grind, and it sucks being away from Willow. At least he doesn't have to spend 4 hours a day pumping. I was talking to Ellen's mom Lauren last week about pumping; no one but another NICU Mom can really understand how pumping takes over your life. Here's me last week performing my after-work ritual of transferring the day's milk to baggies.




















Our chest freezer is now full.



















Here's another pic from the home front. This plant only sends up a flower about every 4-5 years and one is shooting up right now. I think it's because Willow is coming home soon.














And finally, here are some Willow pics from today.




Monday, May 4, 2009

Took a whole bottle!



Hey,

Lindsay and I are now back in Houghton. We got back late last night after a great day with Willow. She did ok at feeding with Lindsay, but she still wasn't very into it. However, this evening when I called the NICU they said she took her entire bottle at her 1PM feeding. The best part is that Willow was with the speech therapist when she did it. I guess she really decided to show off. The last time the speech therapist came by was 2 weeks ago. During that visit Willow only took 2mls, today she took 46. Good girl! The speech therapist used a slightly different bottle, so mabye that was the trick. Or mabye it's really starting to click in her head how the whole feeding thing works. Whatever it is, I hope it continues.

Willow's up to 5 lbs 6.6oz, that over an oz. from yesterday. She's really starting to fill out. Her legs and arms are getting chunky and squeezable. We really can't wait to get her home. Today we got Willow's crib mattress came in the mail. Thanks to my parants for that. Willow will have countless dream filled nights on it. We also got a pad for the changing table, which was a gift from our good friend Kathy. Thanks again for all the great gifts for Willow. The clothes are already getting good use, the rest of the things will get put to work, and play, very soon. The nursury is just about ready. I'll post a picture of it soon.

We all made it through Monday. Now we can start looking forward to the weekend. Have a good rest of the week.

Josh

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Back in Marquette


Hello,

Lindsay and I are both back in Marquette. Lindsay came down yesterday, and I came in this morning. I worked a long day yesterday, so I decided to just come down today.

Willow is still doing good. I didn't catch her weight today, but yesterday she was up to 5 lbs. 4 oz. It seems like she's growing as fast as the spring time flowers. Lindsay has tried breastfeeding a couple of times the last two days with mixed results.
Sometimes Willow's all about it, and other times she could care less. Her nurse today said again how one day she's just going to take off. She said it often happens in a matter of a couple days. So I guess we just have to be patient and be happy she's healthy and growing.

Tonight we are going to go out to eat with Ellen's parents, Nate and Lauren. Should be a good time. After that we are going to go to a concert of a couple of bands we really enjoy seeing. Should be a fun night, and we already have a baby sitter in place :)

We both have to head back tomorrow. I'm working all next week, but Lindsay is only working Monday and Tuesday and then she'll be down here for a week straight. She's quite excited about this.


Hope everyone is having a good weekend, and thanks for all the comments on the blog and cards we've been recieving.

See ya,

Josh