An Update on Adam

20131002_133935So this has been a crazy month so far.  Well, I guess it has been crazy for a lot longer than that though.  🙂  I’m working full time and lecturing Immunology on the side.  Between that and everything else I’m involved in, I could use a little vacation for “life” right now.  Luckily I tend to thrive on busy situations so I’m handling it all pretty well.

Adam hit four months and with that, made it to 8.5 pounds and 21 inches!  He is 3.5X his smallest size weight and over five inches longer than he was at birth. He has recently started smiling all of the time and that just melts my heart.  Adam is such a pleasant baby but Chris might argue some about that since all Adam seems to want is his mommy.  He’ll usually take Katherine over Chris as well.  Ha!  Katherine is Mommy number two and she is so amazing with him.  Juliette is coming around with him.  I think it helps that it is just the two of them during the day with the sitter.  I think she gets to be more and more involved on her own terms.

This past week I’ve been to ten appointments for him.  Yes, you read that right.  He has seen pulmonary, nephrology twice, pediatrician four times, developmental twice, and lab appointments.  We’ll lump the lab appointments into one. 20131002_134303_

Adam’s ultrasound showed that he has renal atrophy of the right kidney.  It hasn’t grown since birth and overall is echogenic with small vessels.  The left kidney is doing exactly what it needs to though, and it is compensating.  The left kidney is larger than what it would typically be at this age and it should always be larger than normal because it compensates for the right.  The doctors have kept Adam on the heart medication because his blood pressure is still too high without it.  She said that eventually they will do a scan to test for kidney function of both kidneys but he has to get bigger and apparently the dye is nationally in shortage (strange).  The nephrologist said that if they function scan shows low function and a lot of scaring, they will remove the kidney.  They also want to make sure the blood clot that damaged the right, didn’t damage the left at all but it really doesn’t appear that it did.  All in all, this was exactly what I expected.  I read the ultrasound while she was performing it the other day and I was pleased to see measurements I drew from it, matched the radiologist report.  The nerd in me has to pat myself on the back.  HA!

The other big thing we went through was eligibility for early intervention.  Based on Adam’s stay, we qualify automatically but you still have to do initial intake and assessment.  Because he was born in Arlington, we can utilize the Virginia Hospital Center clinic for follow along and therapy, as well as Fairfax Infant and Toddler Connection.  Adam overall tests for his corrected age of two months with social and cognitive between 3-4 months.  He’s a smart little one!  🙂  Where Adam needs help though comes with motor skills.  Arlington wants to list him as testing between newborn and one month with abnormal side preference but Fairfax is testing at two months atypical.  Atypical is a funny word to attach to a baby.  Anyway, he has recently starting kicking his legs which is good for his adjusted age.  His delay comes in the upper body.  He has a preference for his right side which means he will track something all the way to the right but he can barely turn his head to the left past midline.  He is extremely stiff in his upper body and neck on the left side.  He also is a little delayed because he keeps his hands in fist form most of the time.  I’ve noticed this is improving though.  His other delay is that he has trouble holding up his head and he lacks the upper body to push up at all when on his tummy.  There are some other upper body things.  Needless to say, he is going to need quite a bit of physical therapy.  There is a concern over the side preference but we are taking that one month at a time.  They went ahead and approved him for therapy one time a week with the county.  I WAS SHOCKED!!!  With budget cuts, they have really been limiting therapy.  I’m so very happy that this has worked out.

Adam’s 103 fever has finally gone away.  It was a long three days.  They finally did blood work and urine cultures and it appears the fever is viral.  They just can’t take any chances with his kidney so they felt they had to run the tests.  103 is too high though for a baby that small.  He has already had bronchiolitis twice so I’m not looking forward to winter in that sense.

So that is the big medical update.  I’ll update with some fun stuff soon though!  I love every moment with my precious Adam.  He is such a joy and he has such a strong will.  I’m sure that he will be another successful Er-Lee arrival.

Posted in 31 weeker, developmental delays, Kids, preemie | Leave a comment

Baby Boy Lee Update!

Okay, so here is the most recent update regarding Baby Boy Lee!

baby32Lately I’ve had to go to the Perinatologist each week to monitor the baby, especially since I’m still working.  I was really nervous about going this week because I had to see the more conservative doctor.  She is so sweet and motherly, known worldwide for her expertise, yet I love her associate the best.  The other Peri is unconventional, brash, young, and well, the most hysterical medical professional I’ve ever met.  You sit through that appointment and have to pinch yourself because you can’t believe the dialog.  She is FANTASTIC, and has a way of taking a very scary situation, and helps you find a little bit of laughter in it.  So the young Peri is out for the next two months for medical reasons.  😦  This means I get to see the other one!

Now don’t get me wrong, she is great, but I feel like I have to be on my very best behavior around her.  🙂  The conversation is strictly business.  I’m also worried that at any moment, she will pull me from work and put me on complete bedrest.

Based on how my appointment went the week before, and the fact that I visited Labor and Delivery, I felt things weren’t going to bode well for me.  Last week after my hospital visit, the doc called and sort of lectured me for a while.  Can’t get mad at her because she’s right…but still.  Grr…

She brought up a good point I guess about delivering early.  Just because I made it to 31 and 34 weeks before (after going into labor at 20 weeks), doesn’t mean I will this time.  It is a hard pill to swallow.

Some doctors don’t think our little munchkin will wait that long this time.  Well, 31 is a big possibility, but could 34 be stretching it.  This is based on quite a few things (preterm history, auto immune markers, etc.).   I would LOVE to got to full term this time.

When I first met this group of Peri’s, I jokingly told them that I’m convinced my uterus hates me.  Frankly, I think I have valid reasoning for this.  I mean look at it from my perspective, at that point I had already had two previas, multiple subchorionic hemorrhages, and two preterm deliveries.  They both laughed it off.

The week before last, my doctor walks in, looks down at my chart, and says, “You know, when you told me that your uterus hated you?’ ‘I laughed and thought it was so funny, and a little sad that you thought that.”  Then she looks up at me and says, “Well gosh darn it, you’re right!’ ‘Your uterus absolutely hates you!”  We both got a really good laugh out of it.  I mean hey, I’m not going to cry about it…what else is there to do but laugh?!

So a month ago I was diagnosed with complete anterior placenta previa.  I had this with Katherine and it never moved.  The likelihood of this previa moving is quite slim.  They told me to prepare for it to not really move.  The problem with an anterior placenta is that it is growing on top of my old c-section scars.  This is REALLY, REALLY BAD!!!!!!!!  Basically, when this happens, you often see what is called an accreta (or percreta/increta depending on severity).  A placenta accreta is where the placenta actually grows into the scar and uterus.  At time of delivery, it typically cannot be removed without the mother hemorrhaging to death.  Sometimes measures can be taken if a mother is desperately trying to save fertility, but the risks can be astronomical.  Most times, doctors like to do the surgery in a very controlled manner with many surgeons of various specialties.  At delivery, they plan for a hysterectomy for the safety of the mother.

My doctor told me a story.  She said, “When I was in my training, I heard my senior attending talking to this woman.’ ‘She was on her fourth pregnancy and had accreta.’ ‘She didn’t want to lose her uterus and was arguing with him about it.’ He told her that she could be buried with her uterus or live to raise her four children.”  My doctor then said that she couldn’t get away with telling me that since she is too young and he only got away with it because he was in his eighties.  But she said that she just wanted to tell me that story.  Point taken!  I had never planned on arguing anyway since I was already familiar with accreta.

Wow though, a hysterectomy…that is another hard pill to swallow.  I mean I get my uterus hates me, but it really hates me that much?!!  And even though it hates me, I am sort of fond of the little trouble maker.  The thought of being without my uterus in my thirties (I could take forties better…or maybe if it was my choice to make); I’m trying to wrap my head around.  We don’t desire any other children, yet I think the sense of loss you can feel from that surgery is insane.  My doctor said she told me ahead of time to prepare for it because it is such a big deal (both physically and emotionally).  Nothing has been confirmed yet so I’m hoping this isn’t the case.  I’ve spoken with a few moms since who have gone through the situation and the struggles they went through.  It isn’t that I define my femininity solely by the fact that I have a uterus, but it does play a bit of a role.  I guess I struggle with it.  I would never even think of taking a risk to try to save it, and I know that all I want in the end is a healthy baby and my own health…it’s just a lot.

I tried to explain it to my husband the best I knew how.  It isn’t a perfect example, but the only one I could come up with.  I felt the best way to put to him, was to give an example that could apply to a guy.  Think if a man had to lose a testicle for health reasons, and say he had it replaced with a prosthetic.  He would still have a working one for hormone sake, just as I would still have my ovaries.  No one would ever be able to tell from the outside that something related to how he defines himself as a male, has changed.  No one could look at me and see that I don’t have a uterus.  Yet, I still think that somewhere in that guy’s mind, he may feel less masculine.  And somewhere in my mind, I think I feel the same way about my situation.

With an accreta, they typically deliver at 34/35 weeks to control the environment yet it is really tough to plan for since I go into spontaneous early labor.  I was told basically they would try to stop the labor and then book the OR.  This makes me really nervous.  Hopefully it would never come to this and this is unnecessary caution.

I’ve been sort of at emotional odds since I heard all of this news.  Sometimes it really frustrates me that I can’t just have a normal pregnancy.  After all, three Peri’s told us we had over a 60% chance of going full term.  Yet, despite it all, I’ve found that we’ve always come through and I’ve always gotten God-given peace.  I’ll have to write a whole post on the peace I just found with this little baby boy.

About a week and a half ago, I discovered peace.  Nothing can possibly beat that!

Last Friday, I went to my appointment and found that my placenta completely moved and isn’t a previa!  The doctor did the scan herself just to see it.  Holy Cow!  They had hoped that if it moved, it would be by full term.  But to move in a month?!  I know it was God.  Now, the accreta is still a possibility but we’ll probably know for sure in a month.  I do not doubt we can’t get a miracle with that either, but I’m also working to mentally prepare myself for the very real possibility of losing my uterus.

As for the little guy coming early, I’m at peace with that as well.  I hope he holds off for a very long time, but he might not.  No one can predict the future.  We are prepared to deal with a preemie as we’ve done it twice before.  Being a boy, he would be expected to do worse as a preemie, but I know his life is in God’s hands.  We can only do so much and we must trust in him.  Our trust in God and our faith, has taken us through every path in our lives.

So keep hoping and praying for us!

I have cut out lecturing for the rest of the semester and am week-to-week with work.  At home I’m expected to be on modified bedrest.  Sometimes I get a bit of freedom on the weekends and I make sure to go to church.  I may be absent from events and stuff but please don’t take it personally.  I’m relying on Chris to do most of the work and appointments/classes/parties with the girls.  My biggest job and goal right now is getting our little boy safely here.  I have two little girls who are so madly in love with their baby brother…I have to come through and be there for them!

Posted in bed rest, High Risk Pregnancy | 2 Comments

A New Journey

baby31Wow, it has honestly been forever since I’ve blogged.  So much has gone on in my life yet I haven’t had the drive or the words to express it all till now.  I’m going to try to be better about all of this.

So for starters, we’re expecting our third child.  The baby is due in late July.  I’m overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation.  Since not everything is going as well as hoped with the pregnancy so far, I get a ton of emails asking about the baby and myself so I thought I’d update some on here so that everyone knows what is going on.

So let me back up a bit and get some of you up to date.  I think I’ll do this a few times over the next few weeks.

We spent two years in contemplation and prayer over whether we should have another child.  I have less than ideal pregnancies but they have resulted in some super awesome kiddos (I know I’m partial)…so that is where the dilemma fell.

Before Chris and I would agree to a third child, we wanted to meet with as many specialists as we could and make sure I was both physically and mentally prepared.  We had never planned a pregnancy before this one, so in a way, it was strange to actually “put something down on the books”.  We set a date for when we might discuss trying yet when that date came around, to my surprise it wasn’t Chris who wasn’t ready…it was me.  I set another date six months from then and by that point, I felt ready.  For the past year and half I have been going to a ton of doctors for as many opinions as I could get, trying to plan and get advice.  I wanted to find out if there was something I could do to prevent another premature birth.  Specialist after specialist stated that they felt the odds were in our favor to go full term yet they still ran tests to be sure.  Finally, one mentioned that I see a Rheumatologist to see if I had any markers that put me at risk for preterm labor.  Come to find out, I do.  The Rheumatologist and two of the top Perinatologists in the area told us though that my levels were so good that if we wanted to try, they felt like now was the time to do it and there was no reason why they would advise us otherwise.  Everyone is cautiously optimistic I guess.

Katherine had been asking for a new baby for almost two years and frankly, I finally felt the desire to have another little one.  Both girls wanted a baby brother and Katherine would pray for one every night.  Chris and I have always wanted a son yet that isn’t’ something you can guarantee.  Besides, we have been so blessed by our amazing daughters; I could see myself having another little girl.  I guess I felt like a part of me needed to know what it felt like to parent a son.  I also wanted to see my husband be able to interact with a little boy and have that bond with him like I have with my daughters.  I asked the Lord for a healthy baby if it be his will, and also, if he saw fit, give me a son…which was the desire of everyone in the family.

I think it gets to the point where even though you have planned and thought out every scenario, you have to take a leap of faith and just go for your dreams.

Well we took that leap of faith and are happy to say we are expecting a BABY BOY!!!  I was so shocked when I found out I was pregnant.  I wasn’t really sick at all like I was with both girls.  I thought for sure I wasn’t but decided I should test before I took my migraine meds.  Sure enough, it was positive.  Because it’s a high risk pregnancy, I have been able to see him at least once a month (Now 4x a month).  I saw him develop from a little dot to a dot with a heartbeat.  I got to see him wiggle when he looked like a little gummy bear, and each week, he just progresses even more.  Getting to be able to have a glimpse of this early development is so amazing.  Development happens so much more quickly than you realize.

This will be our last baby (unless some divine miracle takes place…well that’s the nice way to put it  🙂 ).  I wanted to make each part of this pregnancy special…even getting the chance to surprise Chris with the news.  I want to cherish each moment.  The look of shock and excitement on Chris’ face when I told him we were expecting as well as when I told him it was a boy…man that will stay in a special place in my heart forever.  I mean don’t get me wrong, there was excitement and shock with the first two…especially because they weren’t planned.  HA!

I was so nervous to find out the gender of the baby this time.  With my prior two, I felt like they were girls and had dreams that they were girls.  With this one, I felt it was a boy and kept dreaming about it.  I knew I had to be wrong though.  🙂  I was so stressed out before my first big Peri appointment at 16 weeks (I just knew something wasn’t just right) that adding gender determination to that appointment was just too much.  I needed to know what the baby was ahead of time.  I ended up getting a gender scan ahead of time so that I would know and could surprise Chris.  Either way we could take a few days before the Peri appointment to enjoy a perfect pregnancy with our daughter or son.

I look at him on ultrasound though and he is just as perfect as he can be.  So precious and growing so well.  He kicks me nonstop and because he is so low…typically kicks me in the bladder!  🙂  I love him to pieces and as all expecting moms do, I wonder what he’ll be like.  I love watching my girl’s reactions to the pregnancy.  They are so precious and constantly want to kiss my belly or “hug the baby”.  They too are so excited and in love.  I had an amazing first trimester and though the second is a little rough, I have no regrets in our decision to try for another baby.  I’m so happy I get to experience pregnancy again…even with its ups and its downs.  Being able to carry your own child is such a blessing.


Posted in bed rest, High Risk Pregnancy, Motherhood | 1 Comment

Katherine Turns Four!!! Reflecting On The Journey.

I haven’t blogged in forever and it is mostly because I badly injured my wrist last fall and since then have had surgery and a ton of pain.  I’m slowly starting to type more and I hope to get this blog going again shortly.  Wrist injury or not though, I had to blog about something special this week.

This is a VERY special week because my little Katherine turns four.  I’ve been so full of emotion as I can’t help but reflect on every aspect of her little life.  I remember it as if it happened yesterday, yet there are some things that seem quite distant as well.

I can say that we’ve been blessed to the point where she hasn’t gotten sick often in her toddler years.  We’ve struggled with growth and developmental skills but overall she is amazing.  She has always tested ahead of her actual age group with speech and cognitive skills.

The past six months she has grown to be in the 55th percentile for everything.  Recently physical, and occupational therapy appointments have been cut to a minimal schedule because she is doing so well.  The only rule from the docs and therapists is that she has to stay very active in her ballet school.

While I missed out on what should have been a fun first year of marriage, a normal pregnancy, delivery, and infancy, I found that we grew as a family more than I ever thought possible.  I also grew so much in my faith.  Nothing like a situation like this to bring you even closer to God and to teach you what faith is all about.  I’m not perfect by any means but I try harder than I ever have before to grow.  I think maybe at times I would almost find myself too busy it seemed to take the time out for that growth (spiritual, emotional, and in relationships).  Being put flat on your back and pretty much locked in a room…it has a way of getting your attention focused to where it should be.

I look at Katherine and I am amazed by her and when I see her running around, I am moved by God’s grace and love.  God gave me a wonderful gift through the birth experience of Katherine.  Yes I have a beautiful angel of a daughter, but I have a living reminder that miracles do exist.  How blessed am I?!  How can I doubt the impossible?  Any time I start to question or waiver, I just have to look into the eyes of my daughter.  What an amazing gift she is.  When I see her eyes light up as she tells me about all the different colored sparkles on her shoes, I think about when they told us that if she lived to 23 weeks, she’d probably be blind.  When she listens to the birds in the morning and tries to mimic their songs, I think of when they told us she’d probably be deaf.  And when I see her dance ballet and try her best to point her toes, I think of them telling us she’d probably have severe cerebral palsy. She has recently tried to learn how to swim so that she could have a mermaid birthday party.  She keeps learning new things daily.

God has done great things in our life.  I thank Him for both the gift of our daughter, and even though it felt like the worst thing in the world, I’ve now come to the place in my life, where I can thank God for the experience.  I promised God that I would forever tell of the miracle he gave us.  When I’m ninety, I’ll still be sharing about the goodness God showed with her birth. 🙂

I’ll probably end up tearing up at her birthday as I always have.  I’ve found though that the tears have changed from tears of happiness mixed with tears over grieving normalcy, to tears of joy and thankfulness.

I am so proud of everything she is becoming. 

Thank you Katherine for making me a mommy!  You are my favorite oldest daughter!  😉

Happy Birthday to: Mommy’s Kat

Happy Birthday to: Daddy’s Monkey

Happy Birthday to: Juju’s Katy

Happy Birthday to: The NICU’s  Squeaker-Bean

A Copy Of Her birth story (Most of you have probably heard the detailed story but I figured I’d attach it anyway for my new readers.) ~

First Family Photo While Holding Her

On May 21st, 2008, my life changed forever.  I had been reassured over and over by my doctor that my pregnancy was fine but upon getting a second opinion to ease the fears of my family, found out that both my daughter and I had a life threatening condition.  I had packed my lunch in preparation to go to work that day, and had driven myself to the doctor because I was certain nothing was wrong.  I was told I couldn’t leave for home, and had to immediately report to the hospital.  I didn’t fully grasp the gravity of the situation and was frankly stunned.  I remember so vividly the doctor telling me that I had a complete anterior previa, two large blood clots under the placenta (and a tiny third one) that could cause abruption at any time, and I was in pre-term labor.  I think it started to sink in a bit when I arrived at the hospital and wasn’t allowed to stand to even sign the forms.  I was forced to a wheelchair and then to a bed where I was confined till delivery.  I remember the doctor handing me a packet entitled, “Babies Born Before 23 Weeks.”   I still have that packet tucked away in a box.  I remembering being like a stone as he told me that the perinatologists had sent him to talk with me, because they were about 95% sure my baby would be born before 23 weeks.  He wanted Chris and I to tell him whether we wanted him to try to resuscitate her or not…so there wouldn’t be any confusion at delivery.  He wanted the form by the next morning…  He told us that they would just wrap her up and put her in our arms to hold till she passed.

I remember crumbling into my mother’s arms when he left the room.  Luckily she happened to be visiting me at the time.  Chris hadn’t been there to hear the news so I had to break it to him on my own.  I vividly remember cuddling with him in my hospital bed that night…praying…pleading with God.  We had made an impossible decision.

Each day, each hour almost…I waited for that moment to come where we’d probably say goodbye to our little one.  I tried to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  God had other plans though.  I remember waking up the morning of the start of my 23rd week with the old hymn “Peace, Peace” in my head.  It was a song that was sung to me as a child.  From that moment on, I knew no matter what happened, everything would be okay.

Days passed, so did weeks, …and eventually a couple of months.  I did magnesium treatments over and over and was constantly in non-stress tests and biophysical profile tests because she wasn’t doing well in her “hostile environment” as the docs put it.  They told me every day that they didn’t know when they’d have to “take her” in order to save her life.

I remember the hours leading to her birth.  The nurse was doing a non stress test and Katherine went off the monitor as usual.  She didn’t rush back to get her on again because this was a daily habit of our little munchkin.  When the nurse finally came into my room to find her heart rate, we were chatting and she seemed to be taking a long time finding the rate.  She would take my pulse and then look at the monitor…back and forth.  She kept talking to me but then looked up at the wall above my bed and pushed the code button.  Within seconds it seemed, about twenty doctors and nurses were in my room.  I had oxygen, lines being started, they stripped off my pajamas in prep for surgery, and they called the OR, and I remember just laying there silently.  It was one of those moments when you swallow hard and know in your mind that the events to follow are not going to be good at all.  I was completely alone at the hospital…it was so fast that no one could even be called.  It was just me and my faith…

At two months

Finally on our way to the OR, they found her heart rate and it was 40-60 bpm rather than the usual 120.  They chose to wait one more minute and we sat, her heart rate came back to normal.  The doctors kept me in the room by the OR because they felt she was going to be born that day.  Chris arrived and we found I was starting labor on my own.  They tried magnesium again but this time it didn’t work.  I went to toxic levels and Katherine was doing poorly on the monitor.  The amniotic fluid had dropped and she only had one pocket of fluid left (I didn’t know it has leaked).  I asked to be taken off of the medications since labor wasn’t stopping.  As soon as the pulled the drugs, almost miraculously, my labor seemed to stop, and Katherine seemed to improve.  I remember thinking that we had dodged it again! 

The nurse was confused and let me eat even though I found out I wasn’t supposed to.  I guess the peri was afraid I’d eat and then they’d have to do surgery.  As soon as I finished my dinner, labor started again and it was not stopping.  I had had about two hours of a break.  The doctor asked me if I had eaten anything and I replied, “Only a Chipoltle burrito”.  He didn’t seem too happy.  🙂  Hey, I hadn’t eaten in two days by this point!  The anesthesiologist was looking for any good vein but because I had been stuck so many times, I didn’t really have anything left to choose from.  He ended up putting a large IV in the underside of my wrist and told me my only job was to make sure I didn’t move my arm because if that IV blew, he’d have to put one in my neck.

The  baby was coming fast and because of the previa, there was no time to wait.  The nurses came in and started stripping my clothes and prepping me to go back for surgery.   The doctor, whom everyone told me was the best I could have, had a very concerned look on his face.  This didn’t help my nerves at all.

I had been in so much pain, for so long (37 hours labor), I was relieved at the prospect of no pain.  I was confused and scared out of my mind.  I knew that delivery was supposed to be very dangerous with my previa because it was anterior (in the front).  I remember asking a nurse if there was some other way and she said, “Sweetie, babies are only born two ways and one of those ways is not an option for you…so nope…sorry.”  🙂  All of a sudden her heart rate was lost again and before I could almost blink, I was back in the OR.

I remember thinking that we were going to die and it freaked me out a bit.  I tried to be brave and eventually calmed down.  Everything was such a blur and it all moves so fast during an emergency.  I was aware of when they started the surgery but by the time they delivered her I had hemorrhaged so bad that I don’t remember seeing her in the OR.  They had to cut through the placenta to get her out.  Chris went with Katherine to the NICU.  I remember the anesthesiologist saying to me that they couldn’t stop the bleeding and that they were going to give me meds to go to sleep.  I remember simply saying, “Okay”.  And again, it was just me and my faith…

The next thing I knew, two more hours had passed and I was waking up on the operating table.  I woke up and said, “Looks like a war went on in here but I’m the only one that got hurt!”  Gotta love morphine!  The doctors didn’t want my family seeing me that night because I was too critical but I had to see my mom.  I remember drunk dialing everyone on my phone and telling them that I had, had the most beautiful baby girl in the world.  They asked me what she looked like and I said, “I don’t know, I haven’t seen her yet.” 

Chris said I cried in and out of my sleep that night saying that “they” had “taken my baby”.  The next morning I struggled to make my toes wiggle enough so I could go in the wheelchair to the NICU.  It wasn’t till that night that I got to go.  I remember him wheeling me up to her bed and showing me my daughter for the first time.  He could have told me that any of the babies there were mine because I had no idea what she looked like.  🙂  I remember looking down at her and though she wasn’t the typical picture of newborn beauty, she was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. 

Her NICU stay was plagued with a lot of issues where at times, we were once again told that she might not make it.  We had both lost a ton of blood and then she developed NEC, sepsis from group b strep, and many other things.  Yet she proved she was still a fighter and blew our minds in her recovery. 

We brought her home when she was four pounds, and that day was one of the happiest days of my life. 

Posted in 31 weeker, bed rest, Christianity, developmental delays, Motherhood, NICU, preemie | 1 Comment

Nursing A Preemie…Sometimes Easier Said Than Done

I think those of you who know me personally know that I’m a super pro breastfeeding mom.  To my friends and co-workers I’ve become a go-to person for breastfeeding advice and stories and through some random prejudice happening against me while pumping for my first at work, have jokingly been seen as a “pro-breastfeeding activist” to some.  Haha!  It’s funny though because I was solely formula fed as a baby and frankly till I became a biologist, but mainly till I had kids of my own, I never really gave it much thought.  I grew up fine on formula and I’ve known tons of others who have as well.  Yet it has been proven over and over that nothing comes close to breast milk.

When I became pregnant with Kat I decided I wanted to nurse.  I bought a pump and figured I would give it a try.  I decided to put little pressure on myself and had told Chris that I would give it six months at max since that is all I truly saw the benefit for at the time.  I thought the antibodies passed in the first six months to my baby were very important and I also felt the money savings were an added bonus.

I purchased the pump early on with a coupon but threw it in the corner of our office and gave it little thought.  Little did I know that instead of holding my baby for the first time, I’d be holding that pump a few months later.  Within a few weeks complications arose and we were told that Kat was coming early.  I of course began researching everything I could and kept finding that nursing was the best thing I could do for her and was the best thing I could do to ensure bonding with my baby.

The first thing I remember asking about once I confirmed her condition after delivery was when I could start pumping.  The nurse said, “Why don’t you worry about feeling your legs and not throwing up first before you think about pumping?”  Haha!  I just wanted so badly to do the only thing I could…to try to “make up” for the fact that she was born early.  It’s funny how even when things are out of our control…we try to fix it…or make up for the fact that things happened the way they did.

I remember sitting there with my mom in my hospital room trying to figure out how to put the pump together and I remember rejoicing over the few drops of milk I got a couple of tries later.  I remember how amazing I felt when the NICU called up and told me how much Kat seemed to enjoy the drop of milk they put on her pacifier and how it seemed to calm her.  I remember collecting it in a tiny syringe.  “Liquid gold” is what they called it…  Though I couldn’t hold her, I felt like I was bonding with her in this way.  I remember the doctors telling me how Kat used to refuse the preemie formula and only wanted to drink my milk.  I have to admit it made my heart so full of happiness to think she needed me or wanted me in some way…like I was that vital piece that could only satisfy or comfort her.  Sometimes as a mom with a kid in the NICU you feel like you can’t comfort or satisfy your kid…you feel like you’re not needed as the mom.

I pumped and pumped and felt like a cow.  I had tons of stored milk and I had high hopes that she would one day actually nurse from me.  I remember vividly trying for the first time, the day before she came home.  It was a hot mess!  Two lactation consultants came to help and I was afraid I was going to suffocate her because she was so tiny.  She was just too weak and would tire out.  I never got true help and was simply told that I’d figure it out.

For months Kat and I tried to figure it out and we never really did.  She would nurse a bit for comfort but that was it…I kept pumping.  Katherine developed allergies and I had to go on food elimination diets and eventually she was put on an elemental formula…but I kept pumping.  My supply dwindled and I’d spend hours pumping for a couple of ounces.  I drank the teas and took enough fenugreek to smell like syrup…but I kept pumping.

I remember literally crying over dropping two ounces before.  Whoever said you shouldn’t cry over spilled milk had obviously never pumped!  I felt so strongly in my head that nursing was going to be the answer to the mother baby bond I was desperately looking for…the normalcy I wanted.  I stored all the milk and almost like a miracle, she got over her allergy and was able to eventually drink it.

I told everyone that it didn’t bother me that she didn’t nurse but secretly it did.  I think in a way it made me feel less of a mom.

I became pregnant again when Kat was just eleven months old and was told to stop pumping/nursing immediately due to my pre-term delivery risks (still a lot of debate over this).  I was told to cut her off cold turkey…even suckling for comfort had to end.  When I did I thought she was going to cry or be upset but it was like she didn’t care.  She simply clung to Chris and it was like she didn’t need me any more (so it seemed…hey I was all high on preggo hormones).  This combined with my feelings of failing at nursing is probably why I was hell bent on making nursing work with my second child.

Juju was born under completely different circumstances and I was able to try to nurse her starting at day three.  She latched on immediately and was a nursing champ ever since.  I think what made a huge difference was my confidence and determination.  I knew what to expect and I didn’t have the mentality that I was going to give up.  I was afraid to even give her a bottle or let Chris take a feeding (though I did get over this).  I woke up for all feeds and this time I never had a supply issue.  I pumped while she was in the NICU and I pumped for the first 14 months at work.   I’m proud to say that she will be two next month and we’re still nursing (only in the morning and nights).  With Juju I got the nursing bonding experience I always dreamed about and for that reason I wish that everyone could experience it.  Nursing has created a very close mother and baby bond between us and since preemies are oftentimes separated from their mothers, anything that can strengthen this bond should be encouraged.

I shared all of this because though as a Preemie group we are constantly preaching the importance of breastfeeding (WHICH IS BEST, especially for preemies), sometimes no matter how hard we try, it just doesn’t work out.  We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make it work because we think that since we couldn’t carry them full-term that it is the least we can do…or at least that is how I’ve always felt.  How many preemie moms have had their milk dry up yet they’ve woken up every two to three hours to pump half an ounce of milk for months upon months?  Then do you feel guilt when you finally decide to give up nursing or pumping?  I remember someone saw me give Kat a bottle of Elecare formula and ask me why I wasn’t nursing since she was a preemie and that was best?  I felt like such an awful mother.  Many preemie moms can’t nurse because of medication they are on, their milk dries up for various reasons, or their children are too sick/weak to ever latch.  So while I am and will always be a pro-breast feeding mom, I just wanted to let you know that I too have been on the other end of the spectrum where it didn’t work out as I hoped.  I know many preemie moms receive wonderful lactation support but I didn’t the first time and question how many were like me.    Support is important on so many levels.

And I wanted to put out a few truths (there should be a whole book published on pregnancy/birth/post birth truths that no one ever tells you but they should)…yes, nursing is natural and has been done since the dawn of time but it is not so easy to figure out sometimes.  There is a learning curve with nursing!  Not every baby nurses the same.  Just because it didn’t work well with one doesn’t mean it also won’t work with another.  Also, whoever said it is painless is lying.  Everything hurts for the first two weeks it seems but then it gets better…it gets to be pain/discomfort free.  Now sometimes if the latch is wrong pain can be worse because of that…but I’ve never met a nursing mom who has said it is pain free for the first couple of weeks (if you exist please let me know and I’ll retract my statement 🙂  ).  Nursing is also tiring and pumping is even more tiring.  Frankly, pumping is just plain exhausting but it is worth it.  Finally, some babies have issues with latch and their mouth and sometimes if not corrected, no matter how hard you try, they won’t be able to nurse.  This is not your fault!  I think if people were more honest with new moms, more young moms would stick it out.  There are so many things I thought I knew about nursing till I actually did it.  The best way to be successful is to have a good support system.  Don’t be too shy to ask!

I also want to mention that even if you can’t nurse there are milk banks and human milk fortifier that has been tested for safety.  I personally would urge the use of banks or fortifiers before formula but I do understand that there are mothers that have issues with giving their children another mother’s milk…I understand where you’re coming from.  Breastfeeding is a very personal choice.

Posted in 31 weeker, 32 weeker, 34 weeker, Breastfeeding, NOVA Mom, parenting, preemie | 2 Comments

Old MacDonald Had a…

Last night in the car, Kat wanted Chris to sing “Old MacDonald” with her.  He sings the song and she tells him the animals to sing about.

One year prior to Juju’s Old MacDonald Rendition…so innocent. 🙂

He kept letting her choose.  She chose a chicken, pig, rooster, horse, cow… then he decided to give Juju a chance to choose.


Old Macdonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O
With a moo-moo here and a moo-moo there
Here a moo there a moo
Everywhere a moo-moo
Old Macdonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O

And on his farm he had a…

Okay Juju…

what did he have?

Juju- a GUN!

Chris and I immediately start laughing hysterically.  We have no idea where this came from but it was absolutely ridiculous.  It was like it was staged or something.

Next thing for Old MacDonald’s farm?  A burger!

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Girls Like Cars Too

Kat- “Mommy, Juju loves trains so much!”

Me- “I know she does!’  ‘Do you think it’s because Juju sounds a lot like Choo Choo?”

Kat- “Hahaha!’ ‘I like dolls and Juju likes my dolls too.”

Me- “I know…dolls are also fun to play with’  ‘Girls can play with dolls and trains.”

Kat- “Yeah and a girl can like cars too…but I only like some cars.’  ‘I only want to play with that black car right over there mommy!”

(Kay points out the window to a 6 series BMW driving next to us)

Ahh…that sounds about right for my Kat.

Posted in daily life, Kids, Motherhood, parenting, toddlers, Uncategorized | 2 Comments