Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007 - Evening Update and Pictures

I continue to be amazed at what a wonderful baby Olivia is. She just doesn’t complain very much even though she has been given a million reasons to complain. She’s very content and loves to be cuddled. Bottle feeding has been difficult and it is hit or miss. One feeding she’ll take 2ccs, then 15 ccs, followed by 50 ccs, then 9 ccs, etc. I don’t want to rush her though. Like I’ve said before, I want her home very badly, but I want her to be ready. We gave her a bath today for the first time. I hope you enjoy the pictures. She was adorable (as always.) Both of her special care roommates have moved on and are getting ready to go home with their families. Today she got two new roommates. I don’t know how many babies have come and gone while Olivia has remained. That’s okay. . .our time will come. Sometimes I think we have to experience the worst pain in order to experience the greatest joy. There may be millions of children that are loved as much as Olivia, but I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to love their child more. Thank you, God, for giving us such a precious gift.

Here I am in my first Christmas outfit.

Yes, I haven’t had a bath in 89 days. . I’m so embarrassed.

So, this is a bath. I’m not quite sure what to think.

Do I love it or hate it?

Well, I might as well sit back and enjoy it.

Now I’m fresh as a daisy!

A clean baby is a happy baby.

Hooray for baths!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ryan and I don’t care much for crowds, so we always spend Black Friday putting up our Christmas decorations. Each year as we take the decorations down, I always wonder what my life will be like when we put them up the next Christmas. Last Christmas I never could have imagined what life would have in store for us. I wanted to share with you this ornament that we received from Wesley hospital. We will treasure it for the rest of our lives.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007 - Evening Update

Olivia and Daddy. Olivia's first bottle with Daddy.

Olivia in her big girl bed.

We are starting to hear talk about Olivia coming home!! Can you believe it? She will be coming home on oxygen and with an apnea monitor. She will still be on her Phenobarb and Reglan and I’m going to need a personal assistant just to help me remember all of her doctor/specialist appointments. Olivia has taken 3 ½ bottles so far today. She fell asleep halfway through her last bottle, but she had a big day. She also had her hearing test today and passed with flying colors. Of course, we never doubted that she could hear since we know she loves her stories every night. We’re going to spend most of the day with her tomorrow to feed her and we may even be able to give Olivia her first bath! We’re going to have to break out the video camera for that one. It’s kind of difficult because we have so much to do here to get ready for her homecoming, but yet we want to be up with her as well! The day is drawing nearer and nearer....

Friday, November 23, 2007- Afternoon Update

I just had to quickly share some good news because everyone can use a pick-me-up. Olivia is going to be moved out of her isolette today and into an open crib. They believe that she will be able to maintain her own body temperature. She gained another 50 grams last night which puts her at about 4 lbs 9 oz!! And. . .early this morning she was given a bottle (1:1 formula and breast milk) and she drained it dry! Yes, Olivia took the entire bottle! This is a HUGE accomplishment and means she is getting closer and closer to coming home. What an amazing little girl!! I’d like to take credit for what an amazing, strong girl she is, but I really can’t. She has been strong since the day she was born. Ryan and I are two proud parents!!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007 - Update

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! We went over to my brother and sister-in-law’s house. . .many of you know them as Izzy’s parents. It was an absolutely fabulous meal and I hope they know how wonderful it was. Ryan and I were the first in line, pigged out and then went back for seconds. You’d think we hadn’t eaten in years! We don’t eat too well anymore since we’re at the hospital every night. Today, Olivia got a Christmas blanket, cap and booties from her great aunt, Sherri and a gift card from her great aunt, Cheryl and great uncle, Terry. Plus, she received all kinds of fun things from Grandma and Grandpa. She also received a whole bag of clothes that Izzy has outgrown. The events of this year made us realize what we have to be thankful for. I’m thankful that we have a God who is merciful and who blessed us with the most amazing daughter in the world. I’m thankful that I have a husband who really meant it when he said, “For better or worse.” I’m thankful for friends and family who have supported us through the most difficult days of our lives. I’m thankful that there are so many people who truly care about Olivia. I’m thankful to have the memories, although few, with my sweet Logan. I’m thankful for the neonatologists, RTs and nurses who, with God’s miraculous touch, have saved my daughter’s life. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

I have a few milestones to tell you about today. Olivia broke the 2000 gram mark yesterday and now weighs 4 lbs 7 oz! I’m scrambling to make sure she wears all of her preemie outfits before she outgrows them. Tomorrow, she gets to wear her ‘My First Christmas’ outfit (at least I waited until after Thanksgiving!) Today, the blog reached its 10,000th visitor who happened to be someone in Connecticut. Olivia has people from all over the world check up on her (U.S., Canada, New Zealand, England, Panama, etc.) I hope she knows how special she is! She continues to do well, but has had 3 As and Bs today for some reason. She hasn’t had many of those lately, so we don’t know why they’ve become more frequent. We also noticed that her blood work came back yesterday with an elevated GGT, which is a liver enzyme. We know that the doctors have been watching it, but are not sure what it really means. The normal range extends to around 160 and hers is 503. Hopefully, we’ll find out more about that when we talk to the doctor. Please continue to pray for her strength, growth and healing. She hasn’t really wanted to breastfeed lately. When we have her out, she either wants to sleep or be playful. Tonight, she wanted to be cute and playful and was smiling at her mom and dad. My heart just melted. They really aren’t expecting her to feed orally right now. . .or at least not until she is at least 36 weeks. Right now, we are really just concentrating on bonding and for Olivia to become accepting of objects in her mouth. She is almost 3 months old, but you have to remember that she shouldn’t really be out of the womb yet. Just think about all she has had to endure when most babies are still snug inside their moms. Every day (not just today) I am so thankful for my Olivia Paige.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - Thankgsgiving Wishes ...

Thank you Olivia for reminding each of us that life is a blessing. Thank you for teaching us that no matter how small - we can do anything we put our minds to. Thank you for showing us true beauty and thank you for sharing your life with each of us. You are a blessing to so many. And, on this day we give thanks for your life and for your future.

Ryan and Jodi - I give thanks for each of your lives as well. Thank you for letting your faith show us that through Him ALL things are possible. Thank you for sharing your joy, your sorrow, your tears, and your laughter. Thank you for sharing your sweet Logan and your precious Olivia with us. So much to be thankful for this day and everyday. - Stacie

Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - Update

Well, I figured that I’d better send today’s update sooner than usual. I am going to be heading up to the hospital early today because Ryan and I have our CPR class tonight. Last night was like a dream. We can pull a curtain around us and it’s just the three of us in a more homelike environment. A few days ago we jokingly said, “Maybe Olivia could go to a satellite room and one of our favorite NICU nurses could come up and watch her.” That’s exactly what happened and it eased the transition from the NICU. Also, one of our favorite RTs escorted her up there and made sure she got settled. We got more exciting news when we learned that one of our other favorite nurses will be watching Olivia over the weekend!

Last night Olivia was alert and ready to try nursing again. She did wonderfully. We don’t know how much she is really getting and seems to be doing it to mainly soothe herself, but isn’t that also the point? I’m so proud of her. She continues to do well today and I can’t wait to go see her.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - Evening Update

My mom, dad and I loved it up in our special care satellite room. One of my favorite nurses was able to come up and take care of me. Thanks Aunt Kimmy for my new, adorable outfit!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - Afternoon Update

Big news today!!! First of all, she gained another 60 grams or so last night which puts her at about 4 lbs 5 ½ oz. I think she just wants to be a chubby baby like her mom and dad used to be. I was beyond chubby as a baby (I’m sure my parents will vouch for that.) Her eye exam today showed no change once again. She is still at stage 1, zone 2. She will continue to be checked every week as it could still progress to the point where laser surgery would be necessary. We continue to pray every week, however, that it does not. And. . . . .she is being moved out of the NICU today. She is going to be placed in one of the satellite rooms with 2 other babies. This is what we were praying for as there will be less exposure to noise and other people/babies. I’m assuming we will get a little more privacy. The satellite rooms are basically hospital rooms converted into special care nursery rooms. We are so excited!!! Please continue to pray for my precious Olivia.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - Update

Please help Ryan and I keep Olivia safe once she comes home! We ask for your patience and understanding.

Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Preemie Healthy This Winter

The onset of cold and flu season can be a nervous time for the parents of premature infants. We all want to keep our preemies healthy and avoid a possible hospital admission due to infection. While there are no guarantees, by following some simple tips we can keep our preemies healthy throughout the winter months.

1) Hand washing. Hand washing, Hand washing! Hand washing cannot be emphasized enough. It is the single best way to avoid the spread of disease. Every single person who touches a preemie (or any baby) should first wash their hands. This includes friends, family, siblings, healthcare workers, and even parents. The CDC recommends the following technique for hand washing:
* First wet your hands and apply liquid or clean bar soap. Place the bar soap on a rack and allow it to drain.
* Next, rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces.
* Continue for 10 - 15 seconds or about the length of a little tune. It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs.
2) Stay away from sick people. This may seem obvious, but do not let sick people visit and do not visit them with your preemie.
3) Avoid crowds. The grocery store and malls are full of people and germs this time of year. Even churches and synagogues can be a hazard, especially because everyone will want to admire your preemie up close. If you have to go out with your preemie pick a time of day when there will be minimal exposure to crowds and do not be afraid to ask people to step back.
4) Hand Sanitizer. Recent studies have shown that the proper use of hand sanitizer can decrease the transmission of disease in the home. It comes in large containers for home use and travel size bottles that fit right into the diaper bag. It is a great option when there is no sink available or when you have the baby on the changing table.
5) Smart scheduling. When making doctors appointments ask for the first appointment of the day or the first appointment after lunch. This decreases the risk of exposure to other children in the office. Most offices will be happy to accommodate preemies any way they can and will put them into exam rooms right away instead of leaving them in waiting rooms if the parents ask.
6) RSV and Flu preventatives. RSV is a virus that presents as nothing more than a cold in most children, but it can be a very serious for children at risk including many preemies. Ninety percent of the the population is exposed to RSV before they reach two years old, which means it is very likely that your preemie will be exposed to RSV at some point. The drug Synagis is given as a monthly injection to protect against RSV. Synagis decreases the severity of RSV but it does not totally prevent children from contractiong RSV. The flu is also a very serious illness in young children. The fllu vaccine should be given to all children under the age of two but older children with chronic health issues may also qualify. Check with your pediatrician to see if your child qualifies for Synagis and/or the flu vaccine.
7) Be the gatekeeper for your child. One of the most important responsibilities any parent has is to be the gatekeeper for their child. This is especially true for preemies. Do not feel bad telling well meaning strangers that they cannot touch your child. Let family and friends know that they cannot come iinto your home with so much as a sniffle and do not feel guilty about not visiting an elderly relative in the nursing home with your preemie. These strict guidelines can be hard for some people to accept, so just remember to blame the doctors and nurses. “The doctor told me I can't to X with the baby,” can take the pressure off you as the parent. Your child's healthcare providers are happy to take the blame in order to keep your child healthy.
8) No smoking. Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of RSV and other respiratory illness in preemies. Yet another good reason to quit and to ban smoking in your home.
9) Limit Exposure from older siblings. If there are older siblings in school it is important to teach them how to prevent the spread of infection. Some parents may choose to keep preschoolers home from school during the winter months, but this is not necessary in every case. Emphasizing hand washing and limiting close contact as much as possible, especially if the sibling is sick, are the best ways to keep older siblings form spreading illness to your preemie.
10) Stay Healthy. As a primary caregiver you need to stay healthy for yourself and your preemie. Aside from frequent hand washing, you also should avoid touching your eyes, nose and face. Illness can also be avoided by practicing good health habits such as getting enough rest, eating nutritious foods and staying physically active. Although this may be difficult for anyone with children, it is important to try to do these things.

Lastly, if you do happen to get sick try to stay away from your preemie and let another caregiver take over until you are no longer contagious.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007 - Update

Olivia continues to do better and better each day. She has just been rock solid and has now gone almost 2 days without a single apnea or bradycardia. She gained another 60 grams last night which puts her at 4 lbs 3 oz. Olivia is a very, very good baby. She hardly ever cries unless she has a real reason to and seems pretty content. The nurses have even commented on her wonderful disposition. Tonight she was a sleepyhead and didn’t even really open her eyes for mom and dad. So, as you can probably ascertain. . .she wanted nothing to do with trying to nurse tonight. She just wanted to snuggle up with her mommy and sleep. I’m so lucky to have such a snuggly baby. I can envision hours of cuddle time at home. They are fairly certain that she did have rickets of prematurity because her full skeletal x-ray showed signs consistent with that diagnosis. I have attached a link for those who wish to learn more about rickets. Her fracture on her femur is healing.

Tomorrow she has another eye exam. I hope she tolerates it better than she did last week. If her eye exam shows no change or if it has gotten better, she will most likely be transferred up to special care. They are getting crowded in the NICU and need to make room for other premature or sick babies. It was hard for us to walk out of the NICU tonight knowing that we may not go back there tomorrow. You have to understand that we’ve been there every day for 12 weeks. We’ve gotten to know the nurses and the RTs and nobody likes change. The NICU is also the only place where we got to spend time with Logan. I just hope those same nurses get to spend time up in special care with Olivia before she goes home. Her care will also be transferred over from her neonatologist to her pediatrician at that time.

Today, I went into the office where I previously worked. I had worked at American Family Insurance (Pamela Kirk Agency) for many years. I left on August 21st to go to the hospital for the first time and haven’t been back since. I finally picked up some of my stuff. I can’t believe all of the clients that still ask about me every day. I am not planning on going back to work anytime in the next year or so. My life is solely dedicated to my little girl and making sure she has everything she needs. If anyone needs a good insurance agent, however, give them a call. They will all take good care of you.

Please pray for Olivia and that her eye exam tomorrow goes well. Please pray that her transition to special care is smooth and that she continues to show the world what a 23-weeker can do!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The first picture with Livi and her cousin, Izzy. Izzy loves hearing about all the great updates on her cousin. This is Izzy saying "That is MY cousin!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007 - Update

Olivia continues to shine day after day. I can’t help but think that the NICU will be a little different place without Olivia there. Olivia even got a card and a Thanksgiving book from one of her favorite nurses. What a wonderful surprise! She enjoyed being read her new book tonight. Her move up to Special Care is getting closer and as this chapter of her life comes to a close, I can’t help but be a little sad. How weird is that? The place that I wish she never had to go to, that was so hard to visit. . . .is now a place that I’m going to miss. That’s an emotion that I didn’t see coming. , I’m so thankful because her move out of the NICU means that she is progressing wonderfully. It means that she’s one step closer to coming home. Sometimes I can almost hear Logan cheering her on.

We tried breastfeeding again tonight and she did wonderfully. She really seems to know what she’s doing! I still can’t imagine her taking her whole feeding that way, let alone a whole day’s worth, but I’m sure that will come. What a bonding experience with my precious daughter! I still feel a little bad that I’ve taken her away from her daddy time, though. Olivia has managed to go ALL DAY without a single apnea or bradycardia. She hasn’t even been dropping her saturations like she always used to do. Olivia seems to think that she needs just the tiny bit of oxygen that she’s getting. I can’t imagine that the oxygen is helping her out too much. My dad made the comment tonight that when he was teaching my brother to ride his bike, he would hold on to the seat. My brother kept asking, “Do you have a hold of me?” Most of the time my dad didn’t, but my brother needed that reassurance. I guess Olivia needs that reassurance as well. My day would have been a great one for the record books if it wasn’t for another incident that happened earlier. After church we went out to visit Logan’s grave. If you remember, I had gotten him a pumpkin and a scarecrow. His marker hasn’t come in yet so there was nothing else to mark his grave. When we went out there, everything was gone. Somebody took the stuff off of his grave. It’s not like a pumpkin can just blow away and someone had to have pulled the scarecrow out of the ground. Who would do something like that? We were told that the groundskeepers wouldn’t take anything from the Babyland section. I wanted it to be nice for him and now he has nothing out there . . .not even a marker (it should be in any day, though.) That was very hard for me this afternoon and I’m hoping that I’m able to find something tomorrow to put out there.