Friday, April 24, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

In my Big Boy Bed!

Well, we've survived the first 5 days at home, and I have to admit that leaving the NICU was tough.  Above you'll see our favorite nurses, Hope and Amy, with Harrison tucked (and I mean TUCKED) in his car seat ready for departure.  The care they gave our son was without measure, and taking him home without them sitting nearby was a scary situation! I got through that initial fear by realizing that if he wasn't ready to come home to novice's like us, they surely wouldn't have discharged him! 

The first night at home was a dream. He woke up twice, and both times went right back to sleep. I think Tony and I got almost 8 hours of sleep. As for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night, well they became increasingly hair-pulling. I was constantly baffled by the fact that every time we visited Harrison in the NICU, he was soundly sleeping. He certainly wasn't without a few occasions of extra alertness during the night, but he usually needed to be awakened for a feeding or diaper change. Well, as I've mentioned before, Harrison is pretty gifted and talented, so I think he knows that Mommy and Daddy now hold full reigns and he takes advantage of the fact that we rush to his side with every grunt we hear! In fact, one evening, Harrison over-salivated on his pacifier and he made such a wet, disturbing noise, Tony and I both rush out of the bed nearly knocking one another on the floor to make sure he wasn't choking. Surely he was choking and we would discover him with blue lips. we peered over the bassinet, we see that he is sleeping away, only having lost his Soothie. I'm pretty sure the hospital equivalent of crack is the Soothie. Doctor's and nurses could sell them on the black market. It's like an instant mute button for babies, and we take full advantage. They gave us three of them, two still in the package, and I have them on such lock down, it will take Harrison Ford in the latest sequel of Indiana Jones to get it from me. I mean, even as I type this, every two words I have to bend down and put that thing back in his mouth. 

Parenthood totally sunk in for me after Tony asked me where Harrison was, and I said that I put him back in his crate.  What was I thinking??!! After 8 years of dog ownership, I could see that my life had really started a new chapter. One which doesn't involve keeping my dependents in a metal cage and feeding them biscuits through the wires. The poor dogs have spent more time outside than Smokey the Bear. Georgie, our lab, has taken to the baby very well and has mastered the Army crawl every time she's around him. And it's adorable to see that when baby is distressed, Georgie is distressed. Every time Harrison makes the slightest grunt, Georgie looks at the baby monitor like, "WTF? Why aren't you taking care of this??" Pacey, however, is more confused than ever. When she's inside, she just does laps around the house, racking up points for every object she doesn't hit. (She's blind for those of you who don't know.) So when SHE hears Harrison, she looks blankly up into space wondering what rocket ship just transported her to another planet. It's okay, in their 20 hours outside, Georgie takes good care of her. That is, when she isn't harassing her. 

So there it is folks, our first 5 days at home. Harrison is 37 weeks today, so he should be right up there in newborn status any day now. And when I'm not certain the flash of the camera will make him as blind as our Schnauzer, I'll take more pictures to share with everyone. So, I leave you with the top 5 things I've learned as a parent this week in no particular order.

1.  Going all day without clearing your throat for fear of making noise makes for a pretty phlegmy cough later in the evening. 

2.  Babies R US is the homosapien version of Petsmart. Just because it's for babies doesn't mean you should drag your whole brood there!

3. (Viewer discretion advised) Pumping/breastfeeding has turned my boobs into what looks like Slinky's. Therefore, the theme song for breastfeeding mothers should now be: "It walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound. A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing, everyone knows it's a Slinky. It's Slinky, it's Slinky, for fun it's a wonderful toy. It's Slinky, it's Slinky, it's fun for a girl or a boy."

4. Washing your hair is overrated. 

5. And lastly, there's nothing better than sitting next to the man of your dreams with the miracle you created in your arms. The frustration and sleep deprivation disappears knowing how much you love this tiny person and how in a matter of minutes, you and your husband went from a couple to being a family. Priceless. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Harrison was two weeks old yesterday! And he had the pleasure of meeting his grandparents for the first time on Easter Sunday.

Well, we're in a bit of a steady holding pattern. This week has been pretty uneventful at the NICU as we wait for Harrison's "feeding eagerness" to kick in. Apparently this happens between 35 and 37 weeks, and he'll be 36 weeks this Friday. After a major stunt in eating, he is slowly but surely finishing his bottles these days.  Out of eight feedings a day, he takes 3-4 through bottle and the rest are fed through the Gavage. We hope to hear the doctors up that order to 5-6 bottles a day since he's doing so well.  That'll be one step closer to home. The nurses have been incredible in showing us ways to keep him sucking, and I personally think he's fed up with that tube. Once he's taking the eight bottles a day, we're blowing that pop stand. 

We did have the pleasure of meeting Nurse #2 on my you-know-what list.  Imagine a 55 year old woman with a Mick Jagger circa 1983 haircut. Ms. Jagger liked to cackle at our questions as if we were complete idiots. I would've given her a tongue lashing, but all I could think of was her ridiculous haircut.  Remember that video with Mick Jagger and David Bowie skipping down the lane singing "Dancing in the Street"? Well, if you'd like to refresh your memory, check it out at the link below. I promise you won't be anything less than entertained. Everyone needs a good laugh. 

Otherwise, we just wait. Some nurses say one week, others say "don't hold your breath". Harrison is spending most of his time sleeping and growing, and now weighs in at a whopping 4 lbs, 7.5 oz. His sleeping patterns are the reason we don't have many new pictures, because it looks like the same picture over and over again. He officially hates his tube, and manages to pull it right out of his nose in one swift maneuver almost daily. We keep telling him, "it's up to you!" As the weeks progress, we sort of feel like we're in the middle of the movie Groundhog Day. It's exhausting, but I feel so blessed that we wait on only one development. We are surrounded by babies hooked up to hoses, nozzles and needles and we have to remind ourselves that despite the fact this isn't the way we would have planned it, we are pretty lucky.

Keep those prayers coming! 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Movin' On Up!

Well, we've made it to 4 lbs already! And to our surprise this morning, we found our baby in an open bed, a graduation of sorts from the isolette since he can now regulate his own temperature. 

This week has been a tough one, though. I am quickly noticing the emotional highs and lows of life in the NICU the longer Harrison is there. As often as I come and go from the hospital, the sadder I become leaving without him. Each feeding is now 40 cc's, and Harrison struggles to complete a bottle. The rest must be fed through the Gavage tube.  Despite the fact that this is completely normal and expected, it is disheartening since I've pretty much elected him as a Mensa candidate already.  I really should count my blessings though, because he's managed to avoid the typical preemie problems, i.e. apneas, bradycardias, and respiratory issues altogether. Our prayer is that none of those issues present themselves in coming weeks. The evening of his first day of life, he did have one episode of SVT (super ventricular tachycardia) where his heartbeat escalated to 250/minute, but it appears that that was an isolated incident. Unfortunately that crappy gene came from me. 

I find myself these days feeling ok one minute, then quickly plummeting to a thumb sucking/rocking state of mind when I see such things as his tube being replaced after he pulls it out two times in one day. I recall committing to memory the sight of his beautiful face without some attachment, and I would have grabbed the camera had I not wanted to continue holding him so tightly. My poor husband is sometimes present for these breakdowns, and I know that he's beside himself not being able to fix the problem. As previously written, I feel closer to him now more than ever, seeing this creature we created and how our love for him is so powerful and intense.  And after not having needed anyone before, I find myself needing Tony so badly. A true testament to the amount of love and trust I have for him. A man like no other, he is. 

I simply cannot understand negligent parents, and how the world is filled with people unable to feel a passion for parenthood as a result of their selfishness. I am so consumed with guilt for not carrying this baby to term, despite the fact I had little control over the situation. The guilt then transitions into the "what if" stage where I wonder what would have transpired had I not had a doctor's appointment that day. Still not having an answer as to what the problem was is on my mind constantly, but then I find myself at yet another peak of the Hormonal Texas Giant. I certainly didn't enjoy being pregnant by any means, but would give anything to put him back in there if it meant bringing him home, happy and healthy.  I am, however, going to cling to the fact that he is doing so well, and given the circumstances, he is a happy boy as long as the pacifier is nearby and that he continues to receive the care he deserves.  As God has handed me ridiculously tough cards before, I intend to play this hand graciously, accepting this beautiful miracle as and when he came. I will continue to pray for his good health and my own sanity, as we anxiously await the day we can bring him home.

Thanks to all who follow our story, your support makes a concurrently happy and difficult time more bearable. Check back soon for more updates! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

One Flew Over the NICU's Nest

Well, it's been quite an emotional start to the week.  At one week old today, our boy is growing, slowly but steadily, and as the food quantity increases, his energy decreases.  He started out at 10cc's of milk per feeding, and is now eating over 30cc's.  The doctors expect preemies to do this, they compare the sucking of the bottle to running a marathon. So they decreased his bottle feedings to help conserve his energy...the rest is given through the Gavage tube. Developmentally, he's doing fantastic, and all we wait on now is for him to continue feeding and growing.  He did bottle feed this morning and managed to finish it all which is the most uplifting activity of the day. MY how our perspective changes when we bring a little one into the world! Another special moment today, he peed on my chest. Being peed on has never felt so wonderful because all I can think about is his amazingly functional bladder. I can't wait to see what he'll do at 3. 

Yesterday, however, was a stressful day.  I noticed the energy decrease and went straight into panic mode.  Because he's not a "critical" case (which is a wonderful thing), he gets rotating nurses.  Well, we had the delight of meeting Nurse Ratched so I had to contend with her most of the day.  My typical routine is to go see him at 9, 3, 6, and 9. These are his designated "touch" times. I get to go in, change his diaper and take his temperature. Then it's feeding/cuddle time for an hour of which I cherish every second. Well, Nurse Ratched had a student nurse, and they were using my child as practice since he's not a sickly baby. I go to change my boy's diaper, and she makes the following statement. (Say in a Ratchedy condescending way) "Ummmm, since you'll be changing diapers for the REST of his life, we're going to go ahead and get this one." Now, imagine you haven't read all the beautiful and emotional things that I've written about the blessings of this experience and recall the Pre-Child Amanda you once knew. I morphed into a fire breathing, spell casting Hell Monster, and if lasers had been implanted in my retinas, I could've blown Plano Presbyterian right off the map. Never mind my own personal weapon of mass destruction being my mouth. The eyes did the trick just fine. Throughout the day, her irritating and offensive behaviors have placed her on my you-know-what list for a lifetime. So from 7 am to 7 pm I had to field comments like, "don't you have to go now?" and "let me just watch you feed him so I make sure you're doing it the right way." My plan is to get a picture of her and put it up at the post office. Perhaps I'll even contact John Walsh. He seems to be successful in seeking and destroying the villains of the earth. Either way, she's gone for now, and our two favorite nurses are with him today which makes me one of the happiest women alive. Tony's reaction to the situation is a different blog entirely. :)

So continue to pray for Harrison. Each moment is increasingly precious with him and stubbornly enough, Tony and I want him to take his time growing, but to do it quickly. :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Am So In Love

How on earth can I sleep.....I have left the son I didn't expect to receive so soon inside an isolette 10 miles away from me. Reality hasn't just sunken in, it's been ground into me in such a forceful and passionate way so much that the reality has become surreal.

I remember all too clearly how friends, family, and even strangers lent their advice so easily..."It's like nothing you'll ever know. Your life will change forever." We scoff at these tidbits of advice, because common sense tells us they are true.  What I didn't realize is that those common sense feelings are so profound that you find yourself permanently physically changed. My advice to future moms will forever be "Just's unreal." 

Look at our son. So perfect. You would never know he's only 3 lbs, 12 oz. That's right. He's gained an ounce over his birth weight. Something the NICU nurses have said normally takes two weeks.  Well, if you know me or my husband, you know that two weeks is way too long for creatures of immediacy like us. Our son basically said, "Screw the feeding tube! I want milk!" And off he went, solely bottle feeding at 3 days old. I never thought feeling like a dairy cow could be so joyous and fulfilling. It's the very least I could do when he's in an isolette rather than my arms. 

He's even smiling. All that hubub about babies not smiling for several weeks is a bunch of...well....hubub. (I'm trying to curtail my cussing with my newfound parenthood.) He smiles so sweetly, letting us know how content he is when he's in our arms. Just the smell of him puts me in a place of Euphoria that I can't even explain.  But if you're a parent, you know how it is. :)  All Harrison needs is a good head massage to show you faces that demonstrate sheer ecstasy and happiness!

This love for my son probably sounds moot to you, but let me add the increased love I have felt for my husband since Wednesday.  I already knew I had found the man of my dreams who continues to amaze and impress me daily. But oh how he cared for me knowing how incredibly scared I was, and what relief came over me as I saw him burst through the OR doors 5 minutes prior to the birth of our son.  He has stepped up in ways I thought no man was capable of, and I just know that despite my sadness of an abruptly ending pregnancy, a baby in the NICU, and no mother of my own to reach out to, all things are possible with this man by my side.  Our precious son is in for a real treat when he realizes the capacity of the man he has been born to, and I will continue to be amazed at the blessing of finding him, marrying him, and giving him my body and soul for a lifetime. Tony, I am so overwhelmed by the immense love and dedication I feel for our new family, and I just want to praise you for all the wonderful things I've seen over the last 5 days. I may be drowning in post-partum depression and withdrawal from our son, but the love I have for you fills me up and keeps me going in ways nothing else ever could. 

Keep Harrison in your prayers.  He is doing so well, and as long as we can get the bassinet up and running, we'll be in good shape. Never mind the fact that we haven't sorted through most of our shower gifts and that we own two bottles.  We'll get there.  Just as God made us ready for the premature birth of this perfect creature, surely He'll send some handymen to our house to prepare his room in a hurry. Harrison's feedings increased approximately 20 minutes ago, and will continue to do so as long as he's ready to eat that much, which has proven successful.  Speaking of, I'm feeling a little top heavy, so I'm off to fulfill one of my God given duties as a mother. Back to the dairy farm, and to dream of another day filled with such wonderful progress and emotion. 

Check for updates soon!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Harrison Arrives 5 1/2 weeks early!

I went in for a regular doctor's visit on Wednesday, after having a nice manicure and pedicure, and made a small mention that I hadn't felt Harrison move very much that day.  They performed a sonogram and noticed that while his heartbeat was strong, he still wasn't responding to stimulation.  They put me on the non stress test machine, and after watching the doctor literally tear the reading off of the machine, he ran it down to the specialist at the other end of the hallway.  They sent me to the specialist, who two minutes into the sonogram decided that the baby needed to be delivered within the hour. His heartbeat continued to be strong, but when they don't react to the outside world, it could mean they aren't getting enough nutrients from the placenta.  Panicked, I asked for a moment to sit and call Tony, but they denied my request and rushed me to labor and delivery before I had a chance to even absorb what was going on. Once I was led to labor and delivery, I called Tony (who was an hour away in Whitesboro) and let him know that the baby was being delivered today. They prepped me for the OR and said that they couldn't wait for Tony, that they'd rather deliver a healthy baby. I tell you what, going through a rushed epidural without someone to hang on to is quite a painful experience. I am literally hysterical at this point, and all I kept praying for was for Harrison to be okay, and Tony to arrive safely.  They laid me down, and literally right before the first cut, my wonderful husband flew through the OR doors all suited up and ready to welcome his son into the world. He made it to the hospital in 35 minutes. How the good Lord did that is beyond me, but I'm thankful.  About 5 minutes later, we heard the cries of our 3 lb 11 oz son and the rest is history. He'll be in the NICU for 2-4 weeks, and when he can regulate his own temperature, eat strictly from a bottle, and put on some weight, he'll be able to come home.  We've been told he's the head of his class down there, so please continue to pray for our little boy! We love you all and will continue to update this website with pictures and information as we get it!

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