05 November 2012

A Baptism, Family and Friends

Last Weekend was a lot of fun, but very tiring for this Mom.  Since my husband had responsibilities in Nebraska, Samuel and I made our way to Wisconsin for my cousin's son's baptism.  Thankfully, my cousin, Anna, and her husband were willing to drive with me.

Stranger Danger:
We spent a lot of time at my Rachel's (my cousin whose son, Josiah, got baptized) house, with lots of family and friends.  With how Samuel has been starting his stranger danger phase I was reasonably concerned that I would have a little cling-on the whole weekend.  My Dad arrived at my house on Thursday so he could caravan with us on Friday and his arrival proved to me that my concerns were valid.  Samuel did not warm up to his Opa until he played cello for him, then he was more willing to go him.

On Saturday morning when we first went to Rachel's house, Samuel was somewhat apprehensive, so I kept him with me mainly at first.  I was very thankful that he didn't burst out and cry the minute he saw someone new!  As the day went on he warmed up nicely to everyone that was there.  I was even able to hand him off to someone without him fussing at all!  The rest of the weekend was that way.  He was held by plenty of family without me even in the room and didn't fuss at all.  Thank you Lord for a calm baby!

He may have been a calm and happy baby around people, but he wasn't really much of a sleeping baby, the entire weekend.  Friday he started his night early due to the car ride and after getting everything set up at the hotel and fed it took him 45 minutes to fall asleep (normally he falls asleep within 5).  At least it was more of just an off and on whimper and not a full out cry!  Then when 4am came around he was ready to be up and awake!  So I held him in a sitting position after feeding him thinking to myself, kid, I only got about 3.5hrs of sleep....  He did let me sleep a little longer so I was able to start the day feeling reasonably rested.

On Saturday he barely napped however.  Which when he barely naps it never bodes well for the night. We did drive over and see my college flute teacher and I dropped my cousin Anna off at CUW to see some missionary friends that were there for the missions conference.  While there she get to be part of a historical event.  A deer jumped through a window into the cafeteria (which apparently sounded like several stacks of coffee cups piled to the ceiling had just fallen over), ran around the cafeteria for a while and chased a student before jumping back out a different window.  Oh and by deer we mean buck!  If you are a facebook friend of mine a posted a video that I found on another friend's wall of it.  How fun would it be to be the student that could say, "Remember when we were eating supper and the deer chased you?"

Back to the topic.  :-)
So Saturday night was theoretically a great night because we got to turn our clocks back and get an extra hour of sleep right?  Not for me.  Samuel woke up just about every hour being somewhat inconsolable, so that extra hour just made a long night longer...  Ahh the joys of being a parent!  Needless to say I was rather tired yesterday after 2 days of very little sleep.  In fact I had an eye twitching all day I was so tired.  It was then that I was very thankful to have gone with my cousin and her husband, it would not have been safe for me to drive home!

At Church on Sunday I ran into two of my college friends.  Which was not really random.  One of them was a missionary in Taiwan with my cousin Anna and was in her wedding and the other has also been a missionary to a few places and know my cousin, Tim.  So it was very good to be able to catch up with them and hear about how things are going for them.

The baptism went very well, Josiah didn't even fuss for it.  That afternoon we welcomed him into God's family with a huge lunch!  All afternoon it seemed people were stopping by to say hello and congratulate the family.

All in all, despite the huge lack of sleep, it was a very good weekend.  Thankfully after I fed Samuel when we got him he went right to sleep and stayed asleep until his normal wake-up time (despite the time change even, we are soo thankful!).  The last thing both Ben or I wanted to do was be up with a baby with how tired we both were from our weekends.  So thankfully Sam played along with that idea quite nicely!

01 November 2012

Winter Months and RSV

Winter is coming!  Though it really doesn't seem that way...  My car read 70 today and I thought to myself how odd it is that it is November 1st and the car reads 70.  I would say we have had very mild weather overall this year, especially considering it is not uncommon to have already seen snow (I know, it's a dirty 4 letter word to some...).

I just wanted to use a post to talk about RSV one more time (yeah I kind of already talked about it a few months back, but it wasn't RSV season then, so I thought I should just revisit it really quickly.  Some may think the snow is the worst part of winter, but I think this year for me it is having a preemie and winter meaning RSV season.  Thankfully our doctor told us yesterday that there has not been much RSV in the area as of yet, let's just pray it stays that way.

We also have a situation that greatly reduces the risk of RSV, by that I mean that I stay at home with Samuel and therefore he isn't in daycare.  It also helps that he has no older siblings in school that could get it and bring it home.  Basically in older healthy children and adults RSV seems just like the common cold, so what is the big deal about RSV?

Well, with babies that are high-risk for RSV it is unfortunately not as simple as a common cold.  RSV frequently lands a premature baby or a baby with other health concerns in the hospital over night or longer.  I think the desire alone to not spend another night in the hospital with Samuel is a big enough one for me to be protective!  Basically high risk babies (like Samuel due to being born premature) have big problems breathing due to RSV and RSV can cause complications that can affect them for many years.

The good news for Samuel is that he thankfully qualifies for synagis, which I was recently told is actually an antibody and not a vaccine.  Synagis does a lot of good in preventing the more severe symptoms and complications from happening when a baby gets RSV.  So it does not necessarily prevent RSV, but tends to make it more manageable.  Synagis is VERY expensive, so we are happy Samuel qualifies.  It's expensive because not it cost $800+ per shot, but it is a shot that has to be given once a month during RSV season, that means Samuel will likely get 5 synagis shots this winter, that's $4000!!!  Thankfully our insurance will help pay for it, if it did not we would not be getting it because that is just really expensive.  We'd probably just never go anywhere with Samuel during RSV season.  :-)

There is a blog I read geared towards everything preemie.  Recently one of the Mom's wrote a really good post about RSV, please click this to read it.  This is also a really good blog to pass onto someone you know has a preemie, is going to have a preemie or knows someone who has a preemie.  It really is written primarily for the parents, but if you want to have a better understanding for all things preemie, it's a good read.

I guess I just wanted to let people know that I am not trying to be mean when out in public and I don't just pass Samuel around (besides he's going through stranger danger right now anyways, he gets very unsettled with the wrong people...), I am just trying to do what I need to do to keep my son healthy.  Don't worry he does get exposed to other people and I don't mind when people hold him and play with him in a smaller, more private setting.  Just with him being a preemie I'm not comfortable with playing pass the baby until we get out of this RSV season.  Then I will be able to breathe easier knowing that he is bigger, stronger and more capable of fighting anything he catches himself!

His 9 month check-up went very well if you were wondering.  He still growing fine and the doctor said he looked healthy.  Based on what we told him about Samuel's development his ped would say he is developmentally on track with a 6 month old, which is perfect because that is his adjusted age!

Until next week...  Have a great weekend!

29 October 2012

The Last 3 Months

Hey World!  We're still here....  Though we have gotten quite busy!  I have not forgotten about posting, just all but forgotten about posting.  Once I give a quick drive by of what has been happening since the end of July I'm sure you'll understand!

I think we started August at a sprint.  Samuel had been sleeping through the night or waking only once in July, but a trip to Minnesota for a wedding, some diaper rash and 6 month shots all kind of stopped that I think.  It would not have been soo bad on his sleep, but once we were making progress I started teaching an online class.

To sum up my experience as an online teacher was that overall I really did enjoy it.  Now my first time doing it was rather trying...  During the second week I got Hand/Foot/Mouth Disease and doing anything with my hands and feet caused me pain.  I could not walk well, I could not change diapers and I definitely could not type.  I emailed (by that I mean pecking out the email with the least pained fingers) the class coordinator because of course this happened the weekend before Week 2 of an 8 week course.  Great way to start teaching, with a sub during the second week!

Needing a substitute teacher in my class really threw me off.  I was just starting to figure out what it was I was doing and then I was knocked out miserably sick.  So it took me a while to get my feet fully under me again and I pretty much was working the class at a sprint until the end.  Then throw in a parent that was difficult to work with and I was ecstatic for the class to be over.  Thankfully it was a rather unusual term and I know that.  It is not scaring me away from teaching online again.  I look forward to a (more than likely) better experience next go, but for my sanity I took this term off!

When I was sick we had to call in back up!  My poor husband was getting quite drained from taking care of Samuel (even though we nurse it really hurt my hands to latch him, so Ben even had to latch him for me so I could feed him), taking care of me and trying to keep up at work.  So we called my Mom after a few days of the misery and she really helped loosen up Ben's time and everyone was happier.

Of course the days she got here she comments, "So Samuel got a tooth!"  And I responded with something like, "Uh... Yeah...  He got a tooth!?!?!?"  With how the week was going we didn't even notice it sneak it.  We're guessing it came on August 22nd or 23rd, she noticed it on the 23rd.  About two weeks later he got his second tooth (so now he has two bottom front teeth).  Honestly the teething leading up to the teething actually cutting through wasn't that bad (this time around, we'll see what happens next time!).

We also started Samuel on solids.  First we did rice cereal for about 2 weeks, which he gobbled up.  Then we gave him oatmeal and he refused to have anything more to do with rice, because oatmeal is much tastier.  Then we gave him banana, which he loved.  Moved onto peas next, then sweet potato and then apple.  All of which he thought was the best thing invented since milk (have I ever mentioned Samuel's favorite activity in all the world is eating?).  Next we gave him avocado, which was definitely not a hit.  In fact he got VERY grumpy during the 2 days we tried to feed him some.  So we stopped and he instantly became happy again!  Then we did butternut squash, which he wasn't fond of by itself, but mixed with apples he thinks its just fabulous!  Finally we have introduced him to pears, which was also a hit.  I have zucchini and pumpkin waiting to be made into baby food, so those will be the next ones (I plan on getting the zucchini ready yet today for tomorrow, we'll see if that happens).  He's starting to get so many different foods that he doesn't zoom through what I make in less than a week now.

Of course he likes eating so much that I am going to ask his Doctor as his appointment on Wednesday about 3 meals a day instead of 2 and if we should start adding meats.  From when solids really started getting going (which I would say was when we did sweet potato first) he has really been packing on the weight.  Last week at Mommy and Me (did I say I go to a weekly play group with Samuel?) he weight 13# 9oz, but that was with his cloth diaper on, so he probably was just over 13# (not real sure how heavy the diaper is).  Wednesday we'll know his naked weight, then Thursday is Mommy and Me again, so I can get a rough estimate of the weight of the diaper.

Also at the end of September we made a trip back to Nebraska to visit Ben's Mom.  We were going to go on to Colorado and maybe Wyoming, but with how stressed I was between a son that wasn't sleeping and sprinting to keep up with my online class, we did a much shorter trip.  Hopefully we can do the longer trip soon, because I was definitely bummed to not do it all.

This weekend Samuel and I are heading to my cousin's son's baptism in Milwaukee then the following weekend we'll be doing Thanksgiving with my side of the family at our house, so I am headed into another busy month!  Also I am still working on my German I course that I will be teaching with the Wittenburg Academy starting the end of November.  It's an online classical Lutheran high school.  I'm very excited to be teaching with them!

Anyways I have a few more posts I want to write before I leave town for the weekend, so expect another post from me in the near future.  For now that is a quick run down of the last months' activities! Oh and we have really been working hard on Samuel's routine since my class has ended and since we have gotten him back on it, he has been ridiculously happy and a solid sleeper!

27 July 2012

Happy 6/3 Month Birthday Sam!

So today is a BIG day!  Sam turned 6 months today and he turns 3 months old tomorrow.  We are happy to also announce that we have a very healthy normal baby!  Last Tuesday (after driving back from Fort Wayne on Monday) we went in to have a post NICU developmental check.  He checked out great!  Nothing too unusual came up, which I count as a win.  The one thing we have to watch out for is how he holds his head.  He does a fantastic job at holding his head up... tilted to the left.  They found that he has some tight muscles on that side of his neck because of it, so now we get to do some stretches to help him fix that.

They weren't really worried about it though.  They said that babies that tend to favor one side like that (in Sam's case the left side) tend to also have issues turning their heads completely both directions, which is something Samuel did just fine with.  So as long as we are stretching him and encouraging him to hold his head straight, it should be something that corrects fairly quickly.  If it's not working we might have to explore different avenues to correct it.

We have not seen any rolling over as of yet and no, he's not crawling.  But that's fine!  I'm sure before we know it we'll be chasing him around the house and wishing he weren't doing any of those things!  At this point, neither of those are reasons to think he's behind developmentally, he's doing just fine, and I'm sure he'll start them both soon enough.

He has started to enjoy standing on his feet when you're holding him.  Normally he only ever did it when he's angry (what baby does when they're angry?).  Now he's starting to do it from time to time when he's not angry!

They told us Samuel will probably start squealing more and sure enough I think we've heard him squeal more this week than ever before!  It's like he was waiting for permission!  ;-)

To celebrate Samuel's birthday my Mom is coming out for a visit!  Ok, maybe she just happens to be coming now...  Regardless she's driving out here.  We're going to have someone watch Sam while we go get massages.  Something I practically never do, but there was a groupon for a really good price!

I think he's decided to nap really well today to celebrate.  He hasn't seemed to nap well in the last few weeks, but his night sleep has been fantastic!

We'll take a photo with the bunny today, then you'll really be able to see the difference!

Sam at less than a week old and at just over 6 months.  I promise you it's the same bunny!


So last weekend was the weekend of weddings!  We have been invited to 8 weddings this summer and 3 of them happened last weekend.  Of course they also happened in 3 different states:  Iowa, Missouri and Indiana.  So how do we decide whose wedding to go to?  How about my cousin's and the only relative getting married?  We spent 3 nights and 4 days in Fort Wayne last weekend to help my cousin celebrate her marriage.

Before we went to Fort Wayne I was thinking I would start doing things after coming home to encourage Sam to drop his middle of the night feeding.  Well, Sam had different ideas and last week Wednesday he did it all on his own!  Everything I was going to do to encourage it he simply did and then proceeded to sleep through the night!  It was a glorious 8.5 hours!  Although he started waking a little in the middle, so I got things ready to feed him (like glass of water, use the restroom, things like that) and in the couple of minutes it took me, he fell back asleep.  When he awoke again at 6am, I was somewhat annoyed he was waking early (normally wake up is around 7am), but then realized he slept through the night and all my annoyance was gone!

I assumed that with the trip that meant we'd take a step back from sleeping through the night, but it didn't.  The first night there he woke up every 3 hours like he used to, but the second and third night he managed 6+ hour stretches, so that was good.  The first night home he also didn't sleep well, but since then he's been doing about 9 hour stretches.  My body is finally adjusted to the fact that I don't have to wake up in the middle of the night and I am also finally sleeping as well!

Anyways, during our trip to Fort Wayne we were able to relax a little about Sam.  First of all, we knew we would have more than a tiny bit of time to see these relatives, so we were stricter about making sure he got his naps in and stayed on his routine a little closer.  Then every time he needed to eat, I took him off somewhere quiet to nurse him.  Between that and him being a little older I think that helped him not get over stimulated.  All these things together made a very happy baby overall and helped him remain a good sleeper at night!

It was really exciting at the wedding though because my whole Dad's side of the family was there!  My Dad has one sister who has three children.  It used to be family gatherings on that side were really tiny, there are 5 of us in my immediate family and 5 in my aunts family, then add my Grandma and that made a whopping 11 people.  This time, however, there were several more!  With 3 of us married and 2 with kids our numbers are growing!  We had 16 of us!!  Plus one in utero (not me, my cousin who already has one) so that would actually be 17!  It's quite exciting to me that our family is now growing.

It was really good to see everyone and for everyone to meet Sam.  Now some of the family did get the opportunity to meet him already, but some hadn't.  My parents and brothers pretty much had a monopoly on Sam's time the day of the wedding.  Which was fine because my parents had to go home the next day and the rest of us would be still around for at least another day.  The next day we went to my Aunt and Uncles for gift opening, then I hung around for a while.  The cool thing was we had an opportunity to get a photo of Grandma with her 2 great-grandkids!

09 July 2012

Busy Summer!

Summer is seriously flying past!  I can't believe that it's already AFTER the 4th of July!  Which I should because I did the fifth seasons race again (5K) and it was blistering hot when it started at 8:15 that morning.  It was probably the worst I felt after the race too, between the heat and my asthma deciding to act up a little).  One of my former Regina students came in 1st at the race, I was so proud!  I do miss those students!

At the end of June we made a quick trip to NE to visit Ben's Grandma.  She hasn't been doing as well lately (prayers are asked for) and so we wanted to make sure she met her Great-Grandson sooner than later!  Overall it was really a good trip.  We stayed the first night at my parents, then drove the rest of the way into Nebraska.  Spent the afternoon with her and then went to one of Ben's Aunt's houses for supper.  The plan was to stay there the rest of the evening, but other things came up.  Another one of Ben's Aunt's had the whole family in town and on of the cousins and his wife needed to leave sooner than later because of the fires out west, so they ended up going in to visit Grandma yet that night.  As this was going to be the only opportunity to see some of them we made the trip into town after feeding Sam.

This unfortunately put Sam over the top.  He was doing well up until then, but going back into town and seeing all those people was just a little too much for the poor baby.  We did have fun talking with the relatives and letting them see Sam for the first time however.

That night we paid for our actions by the 3 of us all getting little sleep.  Morning came way too quickly and we reluctantly started the day.  We started by driving into town to visit Grandma again before going home.  After a nice visit with Grandma we headed to have lunch with another Aunt and Uncle and cousin of Ben's then started the trek home.

Thankfully Sam does really well in the car!  The drive with him wasn't such a big deal (of course it takes longer because you have to stop, feed and burp him!), but then we ran into construction on I-80 and it sounded like maybe a few accidents down the road as well.  We bailed and took the scenic route before we could find out.  I think all the stuff on 80 added at least an hour to our drive, which meant we had to stop again to feed Sam on the way home (one more time than we should have needed to because of 80).

We've been home for a week and a half now and Sam is finally getting back on routine.  Now before anyone thinks I am only blaming the trip to NE, let me add this little bit.  It seems pretty clear that shortly after we returned Sam started teething!!  Yup, he's only 2 months adjusted and teething!  Now it could be another month before we see teeth, but he's definitely teething.  That HAD to have contributed to his extra grumpiness over the last week...

Now we are looking forward to Sam being he's happy content self again.  Ben is at guard all week, so we look forward to having him home again (though life will not be slowing down by no means when he does get home).  This week, I plan on enjoying a fairly relaxing week with my son.  :-)

25 June 2012


So often I have been writing about things that affect Samuel because he's a preemie, I would to take a few moments to share how much he's been changing and hitting some full-term baby milestones during this month.  He is sure growing and changing fast!  So much so that when Ben has to be gone for Church or guard, he is always amazed at how much he's grown and changed while he was gone!

In May I started to hear some cooing sounds, but then I didn't for a while.  Well, in June, he's picked them back up, big time!  After a feeing when he's awake he will sit there and just make cooing noises.  I'll be in the kitchen washing out my pump and here a bunch of "ooh's" from the other room.

He's also gotten to be quite smiley!  Smiling and cooing seem to go hand in hand.  We learned that if we tap his lips gently with our finger it encourages more smiles and coos!  He has the cutest little smile (at least we think so, but hey, we're his parents!) and even a little dimple on one side!  Last night Ben was playing with him and did an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression and that even elicited a laugh from him!  Probably the first laugh he's done!

Between the cooing and smiling Sam's beginning to be quite fun to play with.  It seemed like we were locked so long in a pattern of changing diapers, feeding and burping and that was pretty much the only activities he participated in and he hated the diaper changes.  So it is nice to start seeing him become playful!  We have been ready to see this start and glad he is too!

Lately he's also stopped viewing diaper changes as the worst form of torture known to man kind.  In fact he sometimes seems to even like them!  He tends to really like them we he has a particularly messy diaper, which used to be when he howled the loudest and hardest.  Now he sometimes even smiles and coos while we change his diaper.  Of course there still are a few changes in a day where he's a little fussier during, but hey, this is a vast improvement!

We've also started allowing Sam to sleep longer at night.  Now he wakes up 1-2 times at night.  That's fantastic for all of us!  He tends to be more awake and playful in the day now and more sleepy at night. We have notice a few fussy times however.  He really doesn't like being put down to sleep that first time at night and he really doesn't like to pause eating to burp!  Yesterday he was being especially dramatic about the burping, so I was calling him my drama king.

On another note, we did another overnight trip to Milwaukee.  His first out of state adventure!  He did great!  We stayed at my cousin's house.  They are expecting a little boy in the fall and already have a 2 year old daughter so that was fun.  Their daughter got to learn a little about how to act around a baby (gentle touches).  We went to a wedding and Sam did great through it all!  On the way home we were going to try to stretch his feedings out a little and make the drive in one shot, but about a half hour from home he decided he was hungry, so we stopped (we would have made it, but we were somewhat slow at leaving the reception).  Oh well, we tried and he did great!  We are starting to really get this overnight traveling down!  Which is good and we have 1 more to go this month (We'll be visiting Ben's Grandma who has not been doing well.  We weren't planning on going out that direction until later this year, but we want to make sure she gets to meet Sam.).

21 June 2012

Baby Wearing :-)

Today I just really wanted to share why I often wear Samuel when we are out and about.  There are really two reasons why I do this.  The first reason is probably pretty obvious (and for this reason I would have been wearing him even if he came full-term), hands free!  He gets to snuggle in close to his Mommy and I get my hands to use for other things.

I was in Wal-Mart a few weeks ago and saw this Mom and her three children.  Now I'm guessing on their ages, but one looked like preschool, another toddler and the third newborn (like she even looked smaller than Samuel that day kind of newborn).  The two older kids were running around, obviously excited to be in a store and exhibited the typical behavior that goes with that.  The baby started to get fussy sitting in her car seat in basket of the cart, so Mom picked her up.  Now what does this Mom have to do?  She has to pick up groceries, keep the two older kids with her and push her cart--all 1 handed!  I say no thank you!  Granted, at this point we don't have any other children, but have you tried to push some of those carts with one hand?  That can be a challenge in itself, never mind everything else!

Along with handsfree, it also turns out that baby wearing is quite effortless (until you go for a half hour walk like that, which I did and it turned out much more tiring than a half hour walk with him in the stroller, good exercise right?).

Reason #2 (which is actually reason #1 with our preemie) is to keep him tucked away from people, especially large groups of people.  This is not because I don't want anyone to see or touch Samuel, but because I want to keep him as safe as I can and I'd rather have things like touching and holding him done in a controlled environment.  Out in public (especially in larger group settings) who knows who's been exposed to what, and who's hands have been shaken already.  You might be just fine, but can you assure me that everyone's hands you just shook are also just fine?  So until we're ready to just pass him around in groups of people, allow my husband and I to lead when it comes to showing him to people.

Expect me to loosen as summer goes on.  Then expect me to keep him tucked away more during the next RSV season (RSV is dangerous to preemies and young babies).  Then expect me to relax a lot!  Samuel's an amazing baby in my eyes and I want to share him with you, but just for a little longer, please allow me to do that in my own way.  I promise I won't keep him from people completely!  I just ask your patience in the meantime!

11 June 2012

Iowa East District LWML Convention

On Friday and Saturday we went to Dubuque as a family for the Iowa East District LWML Convention.  I was supposed to talk about my experiences as a YWR (Young Women Representative) at the National Convention in Peoria last summer.  This was somewhat nerve racking because it was the first time we were taking Samuel on an overnight trip!

On Thursday I put together a list of things to pack for Samuel (in the process though I found out I left some things I needed at home, but oh well, I made do!).  Trying to make sure we had everything we need.  In the end I didn't bring near as much stuff along as I envisioned I was going to have to take for him.

Things went well overall, so that was great!  We left Friday after feeding Sam.  We got there in time to get our room, grab registrations and our box lunch, feed Sam and eat our own lunches, just in time for the opening service.  Which  I would have to say was a nicely done opening service of the convention!

We stayed at the afternoon meeting session for most of it, until I had to leave to nurse Sam.  Ben then joined us a little later and took a nap.  We went down to the banquet that evening, which Sam did very well at, unfortunately we kept him out a little too long and he got a bit over stimulated.  We fed him a bottle while we were there, which he did great with.  When he was getting a little fussy around 9:30, I took him back to the hotel room so he could sleep and not be around all those people and the noise.  Well, that was the right decision, because by the time we reached the room Sam had worked himself up into quite the fit!  Once I got him settled down, I fed him and Ben showed up.

Sam wasn't so keen on sleeping that night, but again, we over stimulated him and I am sure that had something to do with it (not to mention he wasn't sleeping in his usual room!).  The next morning I got up, fed him and went to breakfast.  We didn't register Ben for the 2nd day, so he chilled in the hotel room during the morning.  When it was time for Sam's mid morning feeding I went back to the room and nursed him.  Then I took him along for an interest session and lunch, just to give Ben a break (and he had to load up and check out of the room!).

I gave him back to Ben during lunch.  During the afternoon session I got to talk about my experiences at the national convention last summer.  You can read my top tens post about it here.  I opted to use humor when I talked about it, because most of the people there attended the national convention.  I closed with a few points on participation of young women in LWML.  Hopefully I was able to give them an idea of something they can do to encourage it!  (the idea was personal invitations-not expecting the note in the bulletin to attract them)

I can say our first overnight was a success and the convention was good!  I do regret that we didn't have time to walk through the exhibit hall.  We just kept missing them!  Oh well, that does happen!  At least I have probably seen most of the booths present at different conventions and gatherings.  With that though, now I sometimes personally know the exhibitors!  So it would have been nice to go through and see who was there that I knew.

After being at convention I have a renewed interested in trying to get young women involved.  The things that LWML does is truly amazing!  I think us younger women have things to learn from those lovely older ladies who work so hard at doing all that LWML does.  No, I really don't appreciate sitting through business meetings, but I love that missions are being funded so that God's Word can reach more people!

07 June 2012

4 Month Check-Up

So a week ago today we went in for Sam's 4 month check-up.  It went really well!  But let me give you some background before talking about the actual check-up.

We had decided to switch pediatricians.  Sam just really needed a doctor that understands the prematurity side of things (oh and one that would actually address his oxygen needs!).  So we switched to a doctor that saw Sam in the NICU a few times and also happens to be a pediatrician.  He's a great doctor, which means we had to ask special permission to be a patient of his and had to find times to squeeze us into his schedule.

We had our first visit with him 3 weeks ago.  At that point we had already had his 4 month visit scheduled, but his office called wanting to schedule a special appointment just to address his oxygen needs!  That made me really happy, because I did not believe Samuel actually NEEDED to be on oxygen, but we were left having him on oxygen because we didn't want to fully take him off without having confirmation of what we thought.

So we went in for that check-up.  Ben and I explained to him what had been going on and got the green light to take Sam off the oxygen, but keep him on the monitor.  Oh and we also got to change his O2 parameters on the monitor.  They were originally set at 95-100 and now they are set 90-100.  He's still supposed to be in the upper end of the range, but as he was already declared ROP free weeks before that appointment it's fine when his O2 is a little lower than 95 (higher O2=lower ROP according to some studies).

That gave us a lot more freedom in our lives.  I didn't really want to take him to Church, but now that his parameters were different I felt more comfortable (otherwise off O2 he would do this thing where he'd go to 94 just long enough for it to alarm and then right back up, I really didn't want to go to Church and beep the whole service...).  So now I have been able to bring Sam with to Church for the past 3 weekends.

Now zoom forward again to the 4 month check-up.  This is one where they get immunizations.  Because he reacted so poorly to the first round at 2 months (remember, we ended up staying in the NICU over the weekend instead of leaving just before the weekend) our doctor decided to split them up.  He also decided it would be good to keep the oxygen stuff around just in case he reacts poorly.  He asked us to monitor his oxygen for a day or 2 and then we could take him off the monitor until we go in to get the rest of the immunizations (later today actually).

Samuel also weighed in at 9# 3oz and is 21.75 inches in length.  So he's growing great!  He's actually starting to grow out of newborn more and more.  We have him primarily in 0-3 mo clothes now as he is too long for most of our newborn stuff.  The doctor also said that Samuel is a perfectly normal 1 month old baby now and that if he didn't know Sam previously and I had told him he was 1 month old, he would not have questioned the age at all!  We are excited to start seeing more full-term baby milestones (not that the preemie milestones weren't great and hugely important!).

Sam did just fine with the first part of the 4 month immunizations and we pray that he does just as well with the last of it today.  He will be going on his first overnight trip tomorrow, so we are really hoping he does well!

06 June 2012


So I have been rather delinquent here, but I think with good reason!  For those of you who don't know we moved across town to a house that is a little better set up for a growing family.  It also has the added perk that Ben is now only 1.5 miles from work instead of 7!  So far we are loving the new house and are just praying fervently that God sends us a buyer for the old house.  We will be having the first open house for it on Sunday 1-3, so if you know anyone interested...

Moving with a baby is not fun, at least I did not view it as fun.  It might not have been soo bad, but we had some issues going into it (not real bad issues, but they still added stress!).  Basically Samuel is nursed most of the day and is to receive 3 bottles of fortified milk a day (and I get to pump pump pump...).  A few days before we started moving things is when the nursing issues started.  He used to nurse 25-30 minutes no problem, but had backed down to 20-25 minutes a few weeks before the move.  I take it as he has simply become more efficient at it because he seemed just as full.

Well a few days before the move I would spend an hour or more just to get him to go 15-20 minutes, which was quite unusual.  Normally we'd be done nursing in a half an hour then I would spend another half an hour getting him to burp.  At the time I thought it was just laziness because it is easier to eat from the bottle, but now I think it might have simply been my stress of moving playing out in his feeding ability, which a few days before the move I didn't think I was THAT stressed!

Anyways, so pretty much to sum up the move, I spent the time fighting with Sam to get him to nurse, getting practically no sleep, which made me really no fun to be around...  I was not especially nice to my husband the whole time and he was a saint to have put up with me!  Just proof that I have an extremely loving and gracious husband!  During the move I basically shut down and barricaded myself off from the world in a room with Sam.

Since that weekend I have slowly been unpacking our house, one box at a time.  I have made a small dent into the things that need to happen.  Also since that weekend Sam has taken of with nursing again and has been doing just fine!  We are all much more relaxed overall.  The only thing missing is Ben.  He's been spending all this time at the old house getting it ready that we don't see him much.  All the more reason I pray that house sells quickly!

Also with the move we didn't have internet until yesterday.  So now I am back on and can feel connected to the world again!  Over the next few days I am going to be writing different updates about different things that have been happening, other than the move.

03 May 2012

Happy ZERO Birthday! Err, I mean 3 month Birthday!

Time has really flown since Samuel came home!  He came home about a month ago now.  I can't hardly believe it!  Some things important things have happened and I will focus on those in this post.

We went to the eye doctor 3 times since he came home and he has now been declared ROP free!  That is great news!  He saw less and less each time until he saw nothing of the ROP left.  So he doesn't have to go back to that doctor for 4 months.  Yippee!

He has steadily been gaining weight since that first bit of weight loss.  He is now about 7lb 10oz.  We'll get the freshest weight tomorrow!

The pediatricians office has been interesting...  They haven't quite figured out that he was born 3 months early and that makes things a little different for him than regular full-term babies.  I also thought that his records were sent over from the NICU, but now I question if they truly were.  They were trying to get me to schedule a "2 month" check-up to give him his 2 month shots.  If they truly were looking at his record they would have seen that he received those before his discharge...  So we are in the process of getting switched over to a different pediatrician, who also happens to be a neonatologist.  The only trick is he's really good so his schedule is totally booked!  We do finally have an app. scheduled with him, though not until the end of the month...

We still have a visiting nurse coming to check weight and he is still on oxygen.  We are hoping and praying that he can quit the oxygen soon.  I personally don't think he really needs it anymore, but alas, we shall see, when the visiting nurse comes tomorrow I want to talk with her about that more and see what she thinks.  She could have some good suggestions about getting in with the doctor and deciding further about oxygen.

That being said, Sam did give us a little bit of a scare last weekend and we ended up at the doctor's office on Saturday (his due date).  He kept dropping his oxygen really low just after eating (and just before too because he thinks diaper changes are the worst form of torture known to mankind...).  So we went in and the doctor thinks Sam has some reflux.  We've been trying some simple remedies at home (like holding him more vertically for about a half hour after eating) and he seems to be reacting well to that.

We also have Sam sleeping on his own again!  If you remember when he first came home from the NICU he decided that he needed to be held 24/7, well we didn't completely agree.  Though we LOVE holding our son, it is nice to be able to have him sleep without being held as well.  So now we have him sleeping mainly in his bassinet and occasionally on us.  Let's just say Mom and Dad are now getting a bit better sleep (even if it is just in apr. 2 hour increments...).

As of last check-up we decided to try only 2 bottles of fortified milk a day.  This means I get to nurse him one more feeding a day and I don't have to pump AS much.  Please pray that he still shows good weight gain with one less fortified bottle a day.

I think that is it with big updates.  We are loving having him home though it definitely is more tiring having him home (though I still have not been as tired as I was when I was pregnant).  Maybe the next big thing we can work on (other than getting him OFF oxygen) would be getting him to sleep longer at night?  We can only hope!

06 April 2012

Actual vs. Adjusted

We've been home with Samuel 4 days now and let's just say neither my husband nor myself have gotten a lot of sleep.  I know, sleep when the baby sleeps, but we're dealing with a baby that sleeps best when being held and I just don't feel comfortable sleeping with him.  I move around a lot in my sleep, so maybe I'm just paranoid that I'll squish him or throw him on the floor.  So for now, I sleep when Ben's taking care of him at night (we trade off feeding times), and catch some cat naps during the day.

Right now it is extremely important that we help Sam sleep as much as he can!  Of course if he is happily awake, we won't stop that either, but we need him sleeping.  Which is why we hold him so much, if we're holding him he sleeps better, and if he sleeps better that means he eats better.  The NICU doctor told us he should eat every 2-4 hours and about 8-10 times per day.  This means we are not training him to sleep through the night right now, which brings me to the title of this post!

Samuel's actual age is currently 10 weeks.  His adjusted age is only 37 weeks gestation, or he should not even be born yet.  That means in some ways he's still kind of like a baby that is at 37 weeks gestation.  As we move past his due date he'll have a different kind of adjusted age.  His due date is the 28th of this month.  That means on the 29th he'll be approximately 3 months actual, but only 1 day adjusted.

Where exactly am I going with all this?  Well, we've been given some great advice on how to get Samuel to sleep through the night and for right now, we just have to file it away for when we'll finally be able to start getting him to sleep through the night.  For now however the game is, get him to eat as often as we can!  Most babies don't come out of the womb sleeping through the night right away (at least that is my understanding) and considering Samuel should not even be out of the womb yet, we have some time to go.

This doesn't affect just sleeping through the night however, there are many developmental markers that work the same way.  Obviously every baby is a little different, but things that babies generally do around 3 months of age, is 6 months adjusted for Samuel.  So just because he's 3 months old (on his due date) does not mean he'll be able to do the same thing as his 3 month old peers, rather he'll do them with his 3 months adjusted age peers (when he's 6 months actual).  Confused yet?  Welcome to my world!

I like to look at it this way, for other babies of his adjusted age, he's quite advanced!  Most of them are still mooching off their mamas and haven't seen the light of day and Samuel is eating on his own and pooping quite well.  So I like to think we have quite the advanced baby for his age!  Maybe he'll even be ahead of his adjusted age peers in those developmental markers (though probably behind his actual age peers).  All this of course won't matter much in a couple of years.

A quick illustration on why it is so important that Samuel keeps eating frequently:  The first couple of days we struggled to get him eating more frequently than 4 hours apart.  If you do the math, that does not equal 8 feedings in a day.  When the visiting nurse came and weighed him, he had actually dropped 2oz from his discharge weight!  Oops!  Well, the last couple of days he's been a much better eater and he is now a half an ounce above his discharge weight!  (discharge: 5# 14.5oz, Wednesday's weight: 5# 12.5oz, today: 5# 15oz).  You see how important it is that we keep him eating as much as we can?  I've already resigned myself to probably not remember much of the month of April....

I hope I wasn't too rambly...  But I'll stop now, I need to wake that little baby up so he can eat and then I'll pump (oh yeah, still pumping after every feeding...).  My time goes quickly with all this feeding stuff going on!

02 April 2012

The Finish Line

As I write this Samuel's discharge papers are getting finished up and Ben is driving home from Nebraska (with a stop in Des Moines).  When Ben gets here we'll go through the discharge papers together and bring our little boy home for the first time.

It's all kind of surreal really.  I mean all we have known about parenting has been our time in the NICU.  As frustrating as it is to be in the NICU it definitely has come with some perks.  Now we have to say goodbye to our "babysitters,"  farewell to 3 meals a day that we don't have to cook and so long to immediate medical assistance when something happens.  This will be a new transition of sorts.

We will have a transition kind of like that of regular non NICU new parents, just a little different.  Because of the traces of ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) they saw, he's back on oxygen.  Apparently there is some evidence that keeping those o2 levels high decreases the growth of ROP.  So, he's going home on oxygen (which is kind of scary!).  Then there's a positive side, we know our son pretty well already.  Most parents start getting to know their baby at the hospital, but then really get to know them at home, we have a bit of a head start on that!  Of course, they have warned us, that babies tend to change some when they get home and develop some new patterns.  So we'll still be getting to know him!

The last few days have been very uneventful and we actually probably could have gone home yesterday.  Over the weekend he was having some borderline temps and the doctor was somewhat hesitant to send him home on Sunday.  When talking he asked me what I preferred.  I told him that I honestly preferred Monday over Sunday because then Ben could be here to help get him home and set up.  So today it is and things continue to go well!

I can't speak for Ben, but I know I am sure going to miss the NICU.  I have spent more time in the NICU in 2012 than anywhere else.  The staff here have become friends and I will miss seeing them.  The doctors and nurses have been just fantastic in every way possible.  So as excited as I am to bring our baby home, I am also sad to see this chapter close for other reasons.

This year is going to be different, but as it has already proven, different isn't necessarily bad, in fact so far, different has been amazing!  This will be the first year since I studied abroad to not be involved in Holy Week and Easter services, but that's ok.  Right now, with Sam's immature immunity system and his needing to conserve some energy for eating, that is what is best for our boy.  I don't know when I will start showing up at Church with him, but you can bet when I do, he will be kept very close to me and away from everyone else (at least for a little while).  Eventually I will let others touch and hold him, but at first....

I digress...  We are going home this afternoon and I can't wait!  I think one thing I am looking forward to is him just being there and I don't have to shower before driving over to nurse him, I can shower when it's convenient because I won't be going out into public first thing in the morning!

The next post...  will be from our house and no longer from the NICU!

30 March 2012

The Blip...

Remember how I talked about how the home stretch can mean different things?  Well, his home stretch is starting to show us what it means.

The first type of home stretch was when you're going and going and going and then suddenly there's the finish line!  -- Yeah, that's not Samuel's home stretch...

The second type I mentioned was when you see it for quite a while before you finally get to it! -- Slowly, but surely progressing?  Also not Samuel's home stretch, he's a quick little baby...

Finally one where you see the finish and then you're sent off into a different direction -- Yup, this one is Samuel's home stretch!  As of yet, who knows how many detours we'll have to make on the way to the finish line, but we just made one.

What I didn't tell you when writing that post is that we thought Samuel would be coming home today (Thursday).  Well, that didn't exactly happen, everything was going great for it until yesterday, so this was a very sudden detour indeed.

In order to fully explain I have to back up to Tuesday night.  We opted to have Samuel vaccinated and as discharge was getting closer and closer we decided to give them to him on Tuesday.  So Tuesday night, during the first cares of the night shift, we gave him some immunizations.  Of course he didn't entirely appreciate it (and by that I mean turning beat yet and crying as loud as he could with each shot), but that's to be expected.  Most people, child and adult alike, don't really like shots.

Tuesday night he was extra grunty (preemies come as a small bundle of grunts, I mean squeaks, ok, so they just makes lots and lots of special preemie sounds).  Which meant I didn't hardly sleep.  On Monday I had started sleeping in Sam's room so we can be nursing in the middle of the night as well.  Him grunting and fussing just a little all night made it mighty hard for me to sleep.

That morning he only took 20mL of his 50mL bottle, then the next feeding he nursed very lazily.  Samuel was also being very grumpy.  He seemed to calm down some so we tried to do his 90 minute car seat check (mainly to see that he keeps his oxygen up while in the car seat) and failed it within the first 10 minutes.

Then he seemed better, he ate really well at the next feedings, we managed to do the car seat check again and he passed with flying colors.  He seemed a little more content again.  Then night shift started.  The first feeding for night shift he woke up an hour late.  Now I understand flexibility in scheduling, but he was waking up like clock work up till that point, him waking up a whole hour late was unusual.

We gave him a bath, checked him over and Ben settled down to give him another bottle.  Again he only took 20mL of the 50mL, not a normal thing for Sam to do.  We put him back down in his crib, checked his temperature again and decided to bundle him up warmly.  They swaddled him in 2 more blankets with hot packs and then laid another blanket on top.  They also put a hat on him (infants temp control through their heads).

Based on when he took the bottle he was due to eat again at 1:30am, but maybe earlier as he ate so little.  He didn't wake up to eat at the next time, at 1:45 we decided to try to wake him up to eat.  We got him into position, but no matter how hard we tried, he just wouldn't.  We managed to get him to latch and swallow some milk that I squeezed out, but that was it.  The decision was made, we were going to have to put a new tube down his throat and he was going to get moved into an isolette (you know, the one that he wasn't ever in before because he went from the fancy one to the bed).

******continued writing on Friday******

With that decision I decided to go to sleep, so I laid down on the little sofa/bed thing they have the rooms and passed out almost immediately and didn't wake up until 6:30am.  It sounded like things were pretty calm while I was sleeping, Samuel took the tube feeding well, then right before I woke up the nurse managed to give him a full bottle.  So that was great to hear, that meant that he was on the rebound, eating for himself again.

So I pumped, headed to the shower, grabbed breakfast and tried to relax a little.  We dilated his eyes at 7:30 for his eye appointment (he was not happy about that, it took 2 nurses to get his eyes open enough for the drops...  At 8am (this is all Thursday morning now) the decision was made to see how he does back in the crib.

The belief was, as mentioned already, that it was a reaction to the vaccines, with that the doctors thought that if we can just help him get back to his normal place we should be able to take the supports used to do that away and he should be fine.  So out with the crib.  After he was in the crib I realized I never took a photo of him in that isolette than he only spent about 5 hours in (but he'd never been in one like it before).  Oh well...  You could say I was somewhat tired and stressed feeling at the time.

The opthamalogist then came around 8:30 to do the eye exam.  They were trying out new equipment that actually takes video of the exam from his perspective.  The tricky thing they were finding is that even though the doctor can see things just fine, if he didn't have the linse lined up just right, it didn't show up on the monitor.  He couldn't however look at the monitor to see because that would point the camera at the monitor.  Overall they seemed to like the new equipment they're trying out and that "issue" is more a matter of practice than anything else.

My hope going into the appointment was that his eyes would continue to check out as immature (which is exactly what they are still, as he isn't due for another month to be born!) and we would be told to he'd be seen in 2 weeks.  Well, that didn't exactly work out that way...  They found some beginnings of retinopathy of prematurity on the outer edges of both eyes.  It isn't much yet, so we are now on the weekly appointment schedule.  How many of you know who Stevie Wonder is?  Yeah, ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) is why he went blind.  Now with this kind of monitoring we are able to catch ROP soon and there are procedures that can be done when it is caught at the right stage that can prevent blindness.  Hence weekly appointments.  If it looks more concerning in a week, we'll be going in even more frequently.

So that wasn't exactly the news I wanted to hear from that check up.  But we have a preemie and with that comes all sorts of fun preemie things.  I know my worrying about it isn't going to help at all, so I have decided not to be worried.  Samuel is doing fantastic despite these "blips."

Yesterday (Thursday, the day after the long night), he was back to his normal Samuel self again.  He was being feisty during cares and checks (definitely did not like his diaper getting changed again), demanded food when he was hungry (which I think he was playing catch up for not eating much the shift before, he only had 2 1/2 of the 4 feedings) and was just overall a more content and happy baby.

Along with putting him back in a crib they weaned him back off of oxygen by 3pm.  So he is no longer on oxygen again!  They aren't sure if they will be able to keep him off, so they might train me on the monitors and oxygen this weekend, just in case he goes home on it.

Last night we also had some fun.  He was being fussy after his 6:30 feeding.  I had already tried to burp him and only got littles ones out of him (he can sure burp loud though, don't let his size fool you!).  I tried holding him and he didn't quiet down.  As he just ate, I didn't try feeding him because he showed me that he was clearly done already.  I tried holding him in different positions, but nothing seemed to help.  So I checked his diaper.  Sure enough he'd pooped.  I started cleaning up, had a clean one under him, had pulled out the dirty one and was just about to finish wiping when he squirted out a bunch more.  It kind of sounded like a ketchup bottle when it's almost empty and it squirts out a glob more...

Well he really squirted and got his sleeper dirty, his swaddle sack dirty and his sheet dirty...  So I took that recently fresh diaper out and put a truly fresh diaper under him, closed it up real quick and just waited while he grunted and pushed the rest out.  This was also happening at shift change, so when the night nurse came in I let her know what happened and said that this might be easier to clean up with a bath.  So that's what we did!  The little guy got 2 baths for 2 days in a row!  That normally doesn't happen, but he was a messy little pooper....

That is basically what our little blip was.  We went from being told he'll likely discharge on Thursday to being told the earliest he can discharge is Sunday (which is code for he MIGHT go home Sunday, but it easily could be after Sunday).  So we are back to not knowing how much longer we'll be here, but knowing that he is receiving excellent care and we only want to bring him home when he is truly ready to be brought home.

After all, can you imagine how much of a basket case I would have actually been in if we were home?  As it was, I was slightly emotional as this was happening in the middle of the night, but I very tired from trying to not fall asleep and just wanting to sleep, but wanting to make sure Samuel was ok.  When I woke up I was able to simply be extremely grateful that it happened before we were discharged.  I know I keep saying how the staff is here great and I truly mean that.  I know I don't have to worry about Samuel here.  Today he's still doing great and I'm doing great and we are just hanging out waiting for him to show us he's actually ready to go home.


Oh and those of you on facebook, the crib did beat him home.

27 March 2012

Quick Note

So I just wanted to tell you all about how amazing Samuel is.  Of course I think that, I'm his Mom.  However the nurses and lactation consultants seem to agree.

He needs no aids to latch.
He latches himself (I just guide him to latch correctly)
He has perfect form
He does not drop his oxygen while nursing, rather he brings it up really high and keeps it there!

He has perfect form
He has great oxygen levels
He has been doing it correctly since he received his first bottle last week!

He wake up so well for his feedings and does just an amazing job.  The Lactation Consultants and nurses were all amazed that we don't have to use any aids to get him to latch.  The nurses are thoroughly impressed with how well he eats from a bottle as well.  They would love for Samuel to give the other preemies lessons on how to eat.

We have truly been blessed with an amazing little boy!

The bottles are so that he still takes in some fortified milk every day, this helps him with his energy level and his weight gain.  After we leave the NICU, we'll work with our pediatrician on how long we will continue giving him bottles.  Right now we are to give him 3 bottles a day (that means he nurses 5x and will take a bottle 3x).

If he gains weight a little better than last night, we should be home in a few days!  Prayer for everything to go smoothly and that he will have received all the care he needs before heading home!

25 March 2012

The "Home Stretch"

Before you get too excited about the title of this point, I want to give you a running analogy.  For those of you who don't know, I got into running about 2 years ago and love it!  It is very addictive I think!  I need to get back out there, because I would love to run a half marathon sometime this fall.  Alright, digressing...

Anyways, different races have different kinds of home stretches.  Let's talk about 3 different kinds.

  1. Some races you run and run and run, then all of a sudden the finish line is there.  You couldn't really see it coming, it just sort of pops up out of nowhere.  Then you're finished.
  2. Other races you can see it for miles until you finally finish it.  Those aren't nice because you can tasted the finish, but it feels like it's being kept from you like candy on a string attached to your hat. No matter how far you go, it just never feels like it gets closer.
  3. Then there's even meaner races (right now I am thinking of the San Diego Rock'n'Roll Marathon I did last summer).  In that race (while I was in a lot of pain because my knee hurt like crazy) you could see the finish around mile 22sh I believe, but then you had to run around this peninsula/island thing and you couldn't see it for a few miles.  So cruel!  It was sooo close, you could see it not that far away, then you had to run where you couldn't see it....
So, how does any of that have to do with Samuel going home (some day)?  Basically I say we are on the home stretch because we have now been given the orders to feed orally whenever he is awake (on Friday we could feed him orally twice a shift and that went very well).  Remember how one of the big things is that he has to be on 100% oral feedings with 2 days of weight gain?  Yeah, we are getting really close.

The problem is, even though we are getting really close we really don't know what close means...  Does that mean he will start eating orally and gaining weight well and we'll be home within a week?  Maybe!  Or is his energy not quite up to snuff and after eating more he will be sleepy more, thus keeping us here past Easter?  Maybe!  We just don't know at this point, it is too early to tell.

Oh and remember how I mentioned that his oxygen levels haven't been as spectacular as before?  Yeah, we got to get that more under control too.  How long will that take?  I have no idea.  Maybe within a week or maybe not until after Easter.  So, yes, we are in the home stretch and we could be going home very soon (note to self, get that car seat installed!), but we could also be here for several more weeks.

What I do know, is that we want him healthy and strong so that he can handle what life at home means.  That's a life without monitors to make sure he's breathing and has his heart rate where he needs it.  It's also a life where being too tired to eat is not an option, there will be no more tube feeding (which is not a favorite of his anyways).  We are simply thankful for the excellent progress he has made so far and we just pray that he will continue moving forward no matter how quickly.... or slowly!

Samuel means "God heard" and we surely know that God hears all our prayers, including the ones about Samuel!  We have definitely been blessed with an amazing staff at this NICU, which is one way that God has heard our prayers!

22 March 2012

Long Time, No Post...

I know a week and a half has gone by since I last posted.  Here's a good rule of thumb, if I haven't posted recently, that means not much has happened and what has is what is expected.  As is the case since the last post.  Besides I am constantly busy doing things as well, which I will explain more in this post.

So he started nursing last week on Monday and he has taken in quite a number of full feedings since starting.  We have not been given the orders yet to do 2 attempts a shift, but he is started to do awesome at 1 attempt a shift.  They look for things like taking in a full feeding while nursing (not needing to supplement with a tube feeding), waking for all feedings and desiring to suck or nurse at all feedings.  Basically all the criteria they looked at to start him nursing, they look at all over again to add a feeding per shift.

That may seem silly at first that they use the same criteria, but it really makes a lot of sense.  Remember how the milk in the tub feeding is being fortified with extra calories?  Well, when we nurse, he isn't getting the extra calories, as there is really no way to fortify the milk as it is coming out.  Also, nursing takes a lot of energy.  What you end up with is a baby using a lot more of his energy in one shot instead of throughout the day AND he's getting less calories to draw from.  That makes for a very tired baby after nursing.  When we first started nursing it was very common for him to sleep through 2 or 3 feedings, whereas before nursing he was awake for pretty much all his feedings (sleeping through an occasional feeding very seldom).

After about a week and a half of nursing he is starting to be awake more again for his other feedings.  He is still not as awake as he was before, but he is making progress in that direction and is getting close.  As the staff here tells us, it is very common to be put in a holding pattern like this, as the baby develops, gets stronger and has more energy.

I would also like to add that he has been getting full feedings in when we try to nurse.  He knows exactly what to do and he wants it!  In fact, yesterday morning we weren't sure if we were going to nurse or not, and as we had to change out his clothes (he had peed out his diaper) I was holding him.  He was being somewhat fussy, so I was trying to hold him in different ways to find one he liked, and well, he liked being positioned to nurse.  I think he was very confused that he couldn't just nurse with my clothes in place like normal...  So we nursed and he did great!  Samuel sure knows what he wants!

The other "big" news is that he has now been back on a nasal canula since last Friday.  I don't remembered if I mentioned this or not (but guessing I did), but it is extremely common for this to happen, especially when the parameters change and they start nursing.  With all his energy being used on eating, he doesn't have as much energy to keep his oxygen up!

One of the doctor's was in looking at him 2 days ago and suggested giving Samuel some medicine that would help him get ready of the extra fluids in his body.  While it is normal for babies to be on and off and on and off of oxygen, he is needed a little more support than in the past.  Even on the CPAP that oxygen was generally set at room air or slightly above (21%), but this time he's in the 30s% for oxygen on the nasal canula.  The doctor said that if the lungs and wet it can cause them to need oxygen, then he went on to explain a condition some preemies have that have to do with the lungs and moisture.  He didn't think Samuel has been exhibiting signs of this condition because he hadn't really needed much oxygen in the past (and as I was very tired when he was telling me about it, I have no idea what it was...).  Now Samuel is getting some medicine to help him rid himself of extra fluids (his legs and feet have been kind of puffy, showing extra fluid retention), and as he has shown an ability to gain weight despite the meds, they are giving him some more.

The doctor told me that nothing he says can prepare parents for the amount of pee, that made me laugh. He's had some rather large wet diapers and we have had to change his clothes and bedding a little more frequently...  :-)

Last weekend was also the weekend of 2 baby showers.  I'm sorry if I did not invite everyone I intended to, I have been really preoccupied and tried to get everyone invited, but that doesn't always happen.  The showers were really good and we had company from out of town come.  I did leave Ben to entertain them, as I am rather busy with Sam.  Ben's Mom came out for the first time, so it was great for her to see Sam.  My Grandma was also out for the first time, which meant it was the first time we had 4 generations together (though we didn't get a picture of my Grandma, Dad, myself and Samuel together... oops!).  My Dad was born the day after my Grandma's birthday and Sam was born the day after my birthday, so that is a neat "family tradition."  Ben's cousin also came out with her 2 girls.

Let's just say, between Samuel starting to nurse (and not knowing which feeding time he is actually going to nurse) and the baby showers I got very off on my pumping.  Actually during the last 3 days I have pumped just over half of what I was pumping up till then.  So this week I have been extremely busy pumping like a crazy person to get my supply back up.  Today has already been better, but we'll have to see how the rest of pumping goes the rest of the day to be sure.  I know that Samuel is nursing and taking some of the supply himself, but he's definitely not taking half of my supply away with 2x nursing and at first it actually caused my supply to increase.  Nothing produces milk better than a nursing baby!  But considering I am just 3oz behind where I was at at supper time yesterday, today is already looking MUCH better.

That's all I have, Samuel is doing great and hopefully in the next day or 2 I'll actually update my facebook photo album as well...

12 March 2012

Nuzzling, Nursing and No More Canula!

Time has just been flying past!  I feel like I had just posted yesterday, but alas... it's been a whole week!  There have been a few developments since last Monday, mostly dealing with eating.  :-)

For the Moms' planning on nursing their babies they encourage doing something called nuzzling once the baby is showing to be awake more and the need to suck on something.  Basically you position the baby as if you were going to nurse, only you had pumped out all the milk you could just before this.  You don't want to have too much milk there, because the point isn't to actually swallow the milk (though the baby might do a bit of this too, just the nature of things when you are constantly producing more milk), the point is to simply get used to the idea of being there (of course sucking and licking is encouraged!).

So last Tuesday we were given the go ahead to start nuzzling!  Basically Samuel's spent most of the time just hanging out there making occasional sucks from time to time, but last Saturday he was going to town!  He was eager to suck as much as he could!

Today I came into the NICU and was informed we've now been given the green light to start nursing!  Yippee!!  So basically starting today we are going to try to nurse one feeding in a 12 hour shift.  There are 4 feedings each shift.  As many of the nurses and lactation consultants have been good to warn me, this part of the NICU experience can be the most frustrating.  Yes, it's not fun to see him hooked up to a bunch of machines (which right now he's hooked up to practically nothing), but I think this is frustrating because Moms have expectations of the baby simply taking to it quickly when this is rarely the case with preemies.

So I have decided that whatever happens happens!  Which has been my attitude with Samuel pretty much the whole time.  I clearly can't control what happens, if I could have he wouldn't have come out in January!  This morning was our first attempt and lets just say, he was not really up for it.  I think he was more awake about 10-15 minutes before we starting trying to nurse, by the time we started finally he was falling back asleep (our nurse got called away briefly and that threw us off, that's ok though because as we do it more I will feel more comfortable to take ownership of just going for it).  We are about to try again this evening and he is usually very awake at this next feeding time, so we'll see if he's up for it this time.

In other news we took Samuel off his nasal canula last weekend!  This means he is doing great with his new oxygen parameters.  Ok, great might be a slight exaggeration, but he's doing good enough not to need it, he has his great moments with oxygen and then his not so great moments.  Next weekend when he turns 34 weeks gestationally, so I won't be too surprise if he's back on a nasal canula within the week, but that is all a part of being in the NICU!

We thank God every day for the amazing progress and growth Samuel has been having!

05 March 2012

Eyes, Crib, Nasal Canula

So a lot has happened since the last time I wrote, and I am sorry for not updating sooner!  Let me start with last Thursday, March 1st.

Thursday was a busy day for the little guy!  It started with a visit from a friend of mine I met on Iowa Ambassadors of Music (I went on that the summer after high school, we toured Europe as a band and a choir for about 2 weeks), so she is from Iowa but currently lives in New Mexico.  We got along really well on the trip, but this was the first time I'd seen her since then!  Well, she arrived shortly after they had dilated Samuel's eyes for his eye exam with the opthamologist.

Eye exams are pretty standard procedure in the NICU with preemies.  Preemies are at rist for something called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP).  Basically when this occurs the blood cells formed incorrectly.  In fact that just went crazy forming vessels and can actually cause the retina to become somewhat detached.  This is a very bad thing of course if it happens and can cause blindness.  If they catch ROP in the early stages there is a procedure they can do to try to prevent blindness.  So around 30/31 weeks gestation they get seen by an opthamologist who then sees the baby every 2 weeks until the due date (more frequently if he sees something of concern).

During his eye exam the doctor's special head gear he uses actually has mirrors on it that allowed me to see into Samuel's eye (of course I had to looking at exactly the right spot, so if he moved slightly I had to move more greatly to find Sam's eye again, but the work was worth it to see inside of Sam's eye!).  The doctor's verdict was that he has immature eyes, which is completely normal for his gestational age.  So for now, and hopefully until his due date, we'll be on the every other week routine.  We are happy to know his eyes are developing normally!

That afternoon he took a bath.  So he had a pretty busy day for a 5 week old baby who hasn't even reached his due date yet!  Ben was somewhat annoyed because on Wednesday Sam didn't seem interested in sleep all day, then he had such a busy day on Thursday, that both nights he was fast asleep by the time Ben arrived at the NICU...  Oh well, he'll see plenty wakeful moments with Sam soon enough I'm sure!

Friday he got moved into a crib!  So that was very exciting!  With him in a crib instead of the isolette, we have easier access to him and are allowed to pull him out to hold him at our discretion.  We were asked, however, to let him sleep if he is sleeping, so that he gets the maximum amount of good sleep possible.  He's been doing pretty well in the crib so far, though they heightened noise volume and amount of lights was an adjustment for him, it's not so muffled and dark as it was in the isolette!

The next big change was to his oxygen parameters.  They set the parameters for his oxygen saturation levels (which is what we look at to see his apnea spells) based on his gestational age.  So far they have pretty much been set at 85-92%.  However at 32 weeks gestation (which was Saturday) they go up to 90-95% and I was told at 34 weeks it will change one last time to 96-100%.  On Sunday we switched his parameters to the 32 week benchmark.  It's very important that they monitor this because having too much or too little oxygen can cause eye problems in the future.

Yesterday, the first day with the new oxygen parameters, he did really well.  In fact, when we kangarooed in the afternoon he seemed to want his paci, so I gave it to him.  It was during his feeding (a time when he's tended to drop his oxygen levels) and he did not drop them at all while sucking on it. Which impressed me because he was sucking on it quite vigorously for about 40 minutes!  He was sucking on it so hard the nurse could hear him on the other side of the room!

Today has been a different story with the new parameters.  In fact all day he's been up and down with his oxygen.  Every time the nurse went to grab a nasal canula to give him oxygen, he'd bring it up and keep it up for a while.  Finally this evening we put him on a nasal canula (you see adults with these in public, the clear tube that hangs on their ears and sticks in their nose).  This is very common when the parameters change.  In fact most of the time his oxygen dropped, it would have been in the perfect place for his old parameters.  It was great to see him so interested in his paci, this is a good sign for the oral feedings that will hopefully start little by little in the next 2 weeks.

We are pleased to know that Sam is progressing quite well and nothing that has happened as been out of the ordinary.  Today he's been kind of fussy, so I kept picking him up to hold him for a bit, then putting him back down to pump.  Before I'd finish pumping he'd be whining again and I would pick him up.  Welcome to parenthood, right?

29 February 2012

NICU Observations. :-)

Before I talk about my NICU observations, let me update you on Samuel's progress!

He is doing AWESOME with no oxygen support.  Please pray that he continues this way!  We have noticed that Sam tends to drop his oxygen saturation level just before and during a feeding.  I think he does it just before to let us know he's hungry (he also cries a little, wiggles around and thrusts his tongue). The doctor thinks he does it during because he exhibits signs of reflux.  NOT a big deal at this point.  It hasn't caused him to drop his oxygen to really low levels and he seems to be handling his food well.  This seems to be something pretty common with preemies, so it is a matter of him developing more and that should go away.  If it doesn't, well, we'll cross that bridge when it comes.  :-)

He had another head ultrasound on Monday (not because the doctors are worried, just more of a follow up check) and that came back with 2 grade zeros (referring to the intraventricular hemorrhaging that started as grades 2 and 3).  So that was good to hear that it is still nothing to really talk about.

We are looking forward to few upcoming changes.  One is to transition him to a crib.  Currently he is still in the same kind of isolette he started in, but is getting very little support from it.  It started with giving him 80% humidity to help his skin.  Well as of last weekend he has been in room air humidity.  It also was changing the temperature to help him regulate his body temperature.  So for a quite a while he had a temp probe on that would constantly tell the bed his body temperature, then the isolette would adjust its temperature according to how hot or cold Sam was.  They have since taken the probe at and set the bed at a constant temp.  Currently it is at 26.5 C or 79.7 F.  They have slowly been turning that down, which it is already closer to room air than it is average body temp.

Another change is to take him off of his caffeine.  Yes, he's on caffeine.  I'm sure I mentioned it before, but he's a refresher.  The caffeine is meant to help him to keep his heart rate up and keep him from having too many apnea spells.  Well, he's been doing pretty well awesome at both, so now it is a matter of deciding when is good to stop the caffeine (which one doctor told me, that if you increase the amount to match an adult's body weight, he receives the equivalent of 6 cups of coffee every morning).  The doctor also mentioned that it will take about 5 days after he's off the caffeine for it to fully leave his body.  So that will be exciting to see how he handles it when they do that!

Of course we are continuing with upping his milk feedings based on body weight.  He started at 3mL and is already at 30mL and taking the feedings quite well!  Between 33 and 34 weeks gestation (he'll be at 32 weeks on Saturday) is when they start figuring out the suck, swallow, breathe rhythm, which means we'll be started to try some nursing!  YAY!  That means eventually I won't have to pump as much!

Alright some observances about life in the NICU.  Currently there are around 10 babies here, but almost all of these babies are different than the ones that were here when we arrived.  They take on babies because they're early, but also if they were full-term and sick.  So the turn over rate is high.  However there are some that have been here longer than us.  We said goodbye to one on Monday.  She went home!  Which is exciting and sad at the same time.  You form bonds with the other parents of preemies that are here and when they leave it's kind of sad (besides we walk by their now empty room to get to ours, so it is a constant reminder).  Another one of those families will also probably be going home at the end of the week.  So we are starting to look like the old timers in the NICU and hopefully be able to provide the encouragement and like minded conversation that we had with those families.

Something I've also notices is how babies cry.  Samuel is in an isolette, which muffles his cry to the outer world some, and besides he isn't really loud yet either.  So he doesn't get to add to the chorus of cries you hear just outside your room.  However, we have noticed that there is one baby (and I have no idea which one, nor have I tried to figure this out) that cries like a cat meows.  When I first heard this baby, I thought there was an upset cat in the NICU, then I realized that that is silly and it is a baby.  Yet every time that baby cries I keep thinking cat!  We're just glad Sam's cry sounds like a baby and less cat like....

26 February 2012

Blood Transfusions = Red Bull for Babies

So last Thursday Samuel received a blood transfusion, which I'm sure I mentioned is very common for babies as early as Sam.  Well, it seems to be doing exactly what it was meant to do, which means it is a kind of "red bull" for babies in that it jump started his development again.  Here are some examples of what it did for Samuel:

  • It turned him back to his usual skin tone.  Before the transfusion he was looking kind of pale which translates to red for preemies.  Now he is back to his usual skin tone which definitely looks much healthier!
  • It made him a more content baby.  During the days before the transfusion Samuel was getting quite fussy, but you would be too if your body had to work really hard to pump the blood through to get oxygen everywhere!  On Friday he was about the most contented and happy that I've ever seen him.  Yesterday and today he's fussed some, but he always has a reason for the fuss ("I'm hungry," "my diaper's dirty" or "I'm tired of laying like this" for example).  So seeing that our baby is happy makes me happy!
  • He's gained some weight.  Our little baby's cheeks are definitely chubbing out and he's slowly becoming a more typical chubby baby.  He was 2# 14oz at the time of the transfusion and last night he weighed in at 3# 3oz.  Way to grow Samuel!
  • He's been keeping his stats up much better.  This means we've had much fewer A/B spells.  (Again A-apnea-breaks in breathing; B-bradycardia-drops in heart rate).  In fact he's kept his stats up so well that they decided instead of taking him off of CPAP and putting him on Vapotherm the doctors decided to just take him off of CPAP and put him on nothing!  This means that as of about noon today our son has been doing all of his breathing on his own with no assistance.  Way to go Samuel!
Those are some basic ways Samuel has improved since the transfusion, those aren't all his improvements, but some of them.  Now just because he is not on oxygen support right now does not mean he will not need oxygen support again.  He is doing well, but could definitely use some prayers that he continues to do well and improve without oxygen support.  The normal process of oxygen support starts with a ventilator (which he had for less than the first 24 hours of life), then CPAP (which he's been on ever since, with about a 5 day break on vapotherm), then vapotherm and final a nasal canula.  I guess Samuel decided he need to speed up the process and skip some of those steps!  If he can do it, then why not let him?

I am continually in awe at Samuel's progress.  Never did I imagine we'd have a month old baby already, nor did I imagine after he was born that he would progress this fast!  He is doing great.  All the nurses here love him and keep saying how cute and sweet he is and how much they love working with him.  Now this, of course, could be something they say to most parents, but I still take it as a good thing.  :-)

23 February 2012

Blood Transfusion Time

In the NICU there are a lot of procedures and equipment commonly used with babies like Samuel.  Now Samuel is a fighter and does really well over all!  In fact my neighbor has decided Sampson is an appropriate nick name because he is such a fighter!

Some examples of his amazing progress is the fact the was only on the ventilator for less than 24 hours!  Go Samuel!  Also when we started Mother's milk feedings he took them extremely rare.  He almost never had residual and that continues to be the case.  That meant we were able to take out the IV pretty quick!

Here is now yet another example about the miracle of Samuel.  Today he received a blood transfusion!  Yes, that is some what miraculous!  It is my understanding that preemies, like Samuel, tend to need blood transfusions.  Yes, I meant to write that in plural, multiple blood transfusions.  In fact, they only receive a third of a unit of blood and it isn't unusual for them to eventually receive 2 or 3 transfusions from it, using the entire unit!

The thing is generally preemies like Samuel would have already received their first transfusion.  Samuel is almost 4 weeks old (tomorrow) and is just receiving his first one.  So I consider that to be amazing.  Now he has received it.  It was a 4 hour transfusion process and it happened from about 1:30 to 5:30.

There were a few factors for why we decided to give him one.  First, his blood count has been just been hovering above the line of needing it.  Second, having more blood can give him an energy boost to do better with oxygen (maybe go back to vapotherm in the next few days and not go back to CPAP??) and weight gain.  Ever since about the 18th of February he has been staying at either 2#14oz or 2#15oz, never quite hitting 3#.  The Doctor was a little concerned about this as he was gaining and then pretty much put the brakes on that.

We are hopeful that this blood transfusion will do what it does for these preemies--give them the boost to keep moving forward.  He has been slowly but surely progressing, but that progression has definitely slowed down a little too much.  Samuel has not digressed at all, but we would like to keep seeing signs of forward motion.  Maybe over the weekend I'll be able to announce that he hit 3 pounds!  That will be wonderful!  (just remember a particular weight level is not the goal for release, just that he is showing weight gain)

Today Samuel's been really fussy, but that has a lot to do with getting stuck with a new peripheral IV, going through the usual cares, and having the blood transfusion (that actually didn't interfere with him much, except at the beginning and the end to hook it up and take it away).  Hopefully tonight as we aren't poking at him much he'll go back to being pretty well content.

19 February 2012

Sam's Breathing and Emotions

So not a whole lot has happened since I last posted.  On Friday they upped Sam's milk feedings to 25mL from 24mL because of his growth and then yesterday they upped it again to 26mL.  Four more milliliters and he'll be at an ounce!  He's been growing very nicely.

So last Tuesday they moved Samuel off of the CPAP and onto the Vapotherm as I explained in that post. I also mentioned that he had been having more A/B spells again (apnea, bradycardia).  Well, he kept having them, but generally these spells didn't drops his stats much and he practically always pulled himself out of it pretty quickly on his own.  Yesterday he actually had very few spells during the day, so that was great progress!

That is until last night.  Now before I go any farther, I just want to say these things are completely NORMAL in the NICU.  That is to say, nothing to cause alarm about.  Last night his spells were deeper and he struggled getting out of them himself, which was basically him telling us he's not ready for Vapotherm.  Thus he went back to CPAP early this morning.

Some people might think this "setback" should make me emotional and I'm sure it does make some people emotional if it happened to them.  However, please try to look at this from my perspective:

Sam was born at 27 weeks gestation, which means to go full-term, he should have stayed inside of me until about 40 weeks, which is approximately another 13 weeks.  Samuel's now just over 3 weeks old, which means he should still be inside of me for another 10 weeks or so.  Now being inside of me, I should be the one taking care of most of his essential body functions.  He's not supposed to be breathing yet!  But he's been born and now he has to.

Imagine if you moved to a foreign country that speaks a foreign language.  BUT you haven't learned the language yet.  This is going to be a rough transition at first.  Yes, some people will know English and be able to aid you, but it is still difficult.  This is kind of like Sam's situation.  He hasn't been given the full time to prepare for the experience of life out of the womb.

This takes time to adjust to and to allow time for his body to mature.  This is why they say to expect babies to be in the NICU until their due date.  Discharge is not a word we'll hear about Sam for a while yet!

When I process things emotionally I always have to look at the big picture.  Where are we going compared to where we are and how does that process look like?  What is normal?  What's not normal?  For Samuel having A/B spells, taking steps forward then backwards is completely normal.  It is normal for babies in his situation to need a blood transfusion.  It is normal to move him down on oxygen interventions then have to move him back up.  We won't know fully if he's ready until we try!

The staff is also just wonderful.  The doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists are constantly asking if we have questions and they answer any questions we as thoroughly as we ask them to.

Now what does this mean to my emotional state?  It means that I don't worry, I am relaxed and happy.  I don't worry because I know he's being well cared for.  I am relaxed because I am doing what I can and that's all I can do.  I am happy because we have a healthy, happy and active baby boy, who will one day come home.  Which is why I am not falling apart emotionally.

Why?  Because I know that God is giving us strength and the resources needed to deal with Sam's 13 week early arrival.  :-)

16 February 2012

Samuel's Progression

Right after he was first born, prepping him to go upstairs.
Our pastor here in town and my Dad getting ready to baptize little Samuel the day of his birth.

Holding his Daddy's hand.  He also had really red skin at that point!

Under special lights to help his jaundice so his skin would be more normal.

His skin was already looking better!  Check out all those cords!

Sleeping peacefully.

My favorite photo (taken on Valentine's Day).  Skin looks fantastic, he's gained some weight and he's a happy baby!