Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

I hope you all have very happy and blessed Thanksgivings! I'll be back with more of "My Story..." on Monday and lots more to share next week too.

Until then, enjoy the holiday weekend...

I am so thankful for all of you who take the time to read what I have to share. It means the world to me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Three Car Seats?


It's Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer. But today, I really need to know what works for YOU. Because, you see, I actually know very few people "in real life" with three kids four and under. But that's exactly the scenario we expect to find ourselves in come June.

So here's my dilemma...

I drive a GMC Envoy. That's a mid-sized SUV. And I love it. But I have some concerns...

  1. I only have one backseat... will a booster seat, a car seat, and an infant seat all fit?
  2. If not, do I go the minivan or cross-over route? Any suggestions?
Does anyone have experience fitting three such seats in one backseat? And, no, there is no chance that my child who will be three at the time will be big enough for a booster. She's almost 3 and 25 lb fully dressed. Help! Hubby's already looking at new car specs... I'm dragging my feet... I would much rather buy new seats than a new car. Far less expensive!

Any thoughts? What works for you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Third and Final Basket of Indulgence Winner!


And the winner of the third and final gift basket is:

lmkirb, who wrote:

"I have to say definitely a sweet tooth snacker!!
Anything with chocolate is always welcome in my house!!!
Thanks for offering a great giveaway!!"

Congrats, and enjoy! Please email me your mailing address at micropreemies (at) yahoo (dot) com within 48 hours so we can get it sent out to you!

Thanks to all of you who have entered my basket giveaways... it's been a real pleasure to share them with you!


Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

8

Timestamp: 2008-11-25 22:28:11 UTC

Our Wild... Middle Child


We have a lot of adventures in store for us! And several nerve-wracking months in the meantime. I hope you'll stick with me on this journey...

Homemade Granola Bars


I've had the pleasure of giving away some awesome gift baskets filled with spa goodies and Chex Mix bars over the past few weeks. In the comments, one question has popped up a few times now:

Will I share my homemade granola bar recipe?

You betcha. But first, let me just tell you this: It contains corn syrup. I know some of you choose to avoid that. Personally, I still use it in some candies and baked goods. I'm sure there are great recipes that do NOT use corn syrup but, well, mine does. As long as you're still on board with me, here you go:

Chewy Granola Bars

Ingredients

3 cups oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda (+ 1/4 tsp salt - optional, but I think it adds something!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup butter (softened to almost-melted)
1/2 cup lite corn syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (or any flavor chips, or M & M minis, or dried fruit, or nuts, raisins, you name it, the list goes on... we LOVE M & M's dark chocolate with dried berries!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle corn syrup and softened butter over the top and stir until crumbly. Add chocolate chips or other fillers and mix. Press into pan with your fingers and bake for about 20 minutes.

I make these in a 9 x 13" pan sprayed with cooking spray. After they cool for about a half hour, I cut them in three WIDE rows across and then cut six columns lengthwise. I wrap each of the 18 resulting bars individually in narrow pieces of saran wrap. I try to save these pieces of plastic wrap to reuse; they don't get particularly sticky or dirty. This way they're handy to toss in a diaper bag or grab on the go!

Check out Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes for more recipes and ideas.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"My Story..." Monday: My Other Child


Having C. stuck in the hospital with no end in sight was horrible. I felt so very helpless and it was devastating each and every time I had to leave her there. It really didn't get any "easier". It became more routine, but it was never easy.

When C. was almost four weeks old and my older child was approaching his first birthday, it was time that Bama had to go home. She had been an endless source of comfort and support to me. One of the most critical needs she filled during her weeks with us was to care for A. My son was a BIG baby, weighing in at 29 lb at eleven months and not yet walking. My massive surgery had left me with ridiculous-sounding restrictions, including a lifting limit of ten pounds for a full SIX weeks. My husband had no time off from work. I was simply unable to lift our son. My mom filled that need and provided the help and care that A. needed.

Of course, all good things must come to an end. It simply wasn't possible for Bama to stay with us any longer. She had a job to get back to. We were all blessed that she had been allowed the stretch of time that she was, but it was coming to an end. And I was still not allowed to lift my child. Either one of them, come to think of it...

I became frantic. My level of panic was going up and up with each passing day. I talked to the nurses. I talked to the social worker. Finally, during a NICU Family Support Snack Hour, I poured out my heart to the family support coordinator, First Steps intake coordinator, and two other ladies whose titles I'm unsure of. They listened. They looked at pictures of my son. They tried to brainstorm with me. In short, they sprung to action in a way that became indicative of the kind of care and support I could expect from all the NICU staff at our hospital.

I received a call from our social worker the next day. This is what she told me,

"Mrs. S., the hospital has discretionary funding for special circumstances. We've been able to secure a spot for A. at the same daycare center many of the doctors use. It's just a few blocks away. We'll take care of the fee for the three weeks until you're physically able to care for him."

It's hard for me to describe how I felt. On the one hand, I was so very relieved. We had a solution. And a generous one. A good one. A safe one. A quality, acredited, clean, developmental facility...

On the other hand, my husband and I sacrifice a lot so that I can take care of my own children. So that they DON'T have to go to a daycare center. It's a choice that was important to us. Important enough to move. Important enough to live on a very strict budget. It turned my stomach to think of handing my baby to strangers...



In the end, though, there was really no choice. We were so very blessed to have been given this option and we drove to the daycare center that very night to meet the staff and fill out paperwork.

My husband would drop A. off on his way to work and pick him up on his way home. I cried. A lot. The first morning, right after they left, I called my mom sobbing, saying, "Please, Mommy, tell me I did the right thing. Tell me this is the right thing for my baby..."

I was left with a whole lot of time to visit C., which was wonderful, and a whole lot of time to worry about A., which was not so wonderful.

My poor little boy got sick time and time again. His immune system wasn't used to the bombardment of germs that you find in a daycare or preschool setting. A few nights before his birthday, he spiked a fever so high he went into febrile seizures and we ended up in the emergency room. It was a rough, rough road.

But, right around Valentine's Day, my six-week sentence was up. And I got my boy back. And finally, finally, I was able to pick him up, hold him, snuggle and rock him again. Mama was back...

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Next Monday, I'll tell you about the first time we heard those "two words"...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Where is JL's P.S. Fest 11/22/08?

Oh, I could answer that with a whole litany of excuses... my week was full of "transition" meetings and therapy for C, I caught an obnoxious "sneeze your brains out" kind of a cold germ, I actually got to go on a date with my husband last night and that fact clouded my brain...

But, really, in the end it comes down to this... I failed to copy fabulous links this week, even though I did read some great stuff. I'll do better!

In the meantime, if you didn't get a chance to catch this week's guest posts, I encourage you to do so. Four brave women with amazing, often dramatic, stories to share took the time to put together some great writing. These stories aren't all "sunshine and rainbows" but they show a lot of hope and determination and, for me, help me to count my own blessings. You can find them here, here, here, and here.

This upcoming week, I'll be:
  • continuing "My Story..."
  • sharing my granola bar recipe (by popular request)
  • drawing the last basket winner
  • asking for your help-- I have a car seat question!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Infertility: Out of the Trenches

I have Amy to thank for this honest, sensitive post on a delicate topic; Amy and I share faith and a love of cooking and small towns!

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Three years is an eternity. It's also the blink of an eye. I am pleased to share with you our infertility story because I already know the ending: it's a happy one.

When we were wed 10 years ago and I was the one with the full-time paying job, we decided to hold off having children for a few months until my husband's work situation was more permanent and profitable, knowing that we both wanted me to be at home raising our family. Key words here: "we decided" and "having children." The problem with those words was that we assumed the decision was ours to have children whenever we wanted. Not trying for; having!

I've never been so wrong in my life.

Fast forward 6 months to June. Hubby was hired as a teacher and coach in a very nice school district. I had just finished my second year of teaching in an equally generous program and had already accumulated 30 sick leave days. By our calculations a baby would be born in March. Perfect! I could use up three years worth of sick days to finish out the school year, send in my resignation, and bask in the glories of all things Mommy. Time to have a baby! (oh, the confidence...)

It didn't happen
. Didn't happen the next month, either. Or the next year... two... three...

When my husband's brother and his wife welcomed his first, and then his second child... it didn't happen. When my brother and his wife announced their first pregnancy... it didn't happen. When 17-year-old unwed highschoolers were walking around with the round belly that I so desired, it still didn't happen. We were the first of our siblings and several cousins to get married; the last to have children. Ouch.

Because our story has a happy ending, my emotions are torn. I feel unqualified to write this post while my perfectly healthy children are happily playing in another room, because I personally know other couples who are in the trenches of a deep battle with infertility... and still others who have long since accepted that parenting biological children is not going to happen for them. But maybe, just maybe, someone is reading this who has just begun their journey. You've been through that first month or two. Maybe even a year or two of wanting and waiting, hoping and praying. Maybe I can speak with you for a moment.
  • It's so hard, but don't give up hope. Cling to your spouse and use this time to work together; put your marriage first so that your marriage has the strength to fight the battle.
  • Learn Natural Family Planning. We did this after trying for nearly a year, and I still kick myself for not learning it sooner. The first thing every new doctor handed us (yes, there were a few doctors involved in our journey) was a blank chart to keep track of my cycle. No sooner did they show us that blank chart, and we were able to surprise them with months of completed charts. Truly, that saved us so much time. (And for some of you, just knowing your cycle and taking the steps to correct the natural things will be your answer to infertility. Hooray for you!) More excellent info on NFP here.
  • I had endometriosis and didn't know it. Usually it's a painful condition; guess I have a high pain tolerence. ***laughing and rolling her eyes*** Anyway, that was the bulk of our problem and we never would have known if my doctor hadn't suggested laproscopic surgery. They found it and corrected it. And if you're curious as to how I've kept it at bay for 6 years, contact me. That's a whole other post...
  • In the end, even with the surgery and the clomid and the ovulation-inducing injections, I can't give a firm "answer" to the end of our infertility. I think those things all combined to help dig us out of the trenches, and maybe we just felt better because we were doing something, but I can't give any hard and fast "this cured us!" answers.
  • I do know (see, this is where my confidence should be placed!) that God's timing is perfect. That He does have the answers. I do know that our first baby girl was conceived nearly three months after my 22 year-old baby brother was killed in a car accident... I do know that the round of injections that "worked" was begun on what would have been his 23rd birthday. I also know that our second baby, born three years later, entered this world three hours short of what would have been his uncle's 26th birthday. I do know that I don't believe in coincidences...
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Amy is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom to her three children, ages 5, 3, and 1. Amy's blog, The Finer Things in Life, celebrates her life of faith, motherhood, simplicity, tiny towns, and good home cookin'.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

HELLP: Tiffany's Story




This post contributed by a wonderful preemie mom whose running and cooking both impress me immensely. Thanks, Tiffany!

I distinctly remember excitedly phoning my father one winter morning to inform him that my husband and I were expecting our first child. My father, who is still very much overprotective of me even at 36, responded with something along the lines of “Oh no! I’m worried. What if you die in childbirth?” I responded with a loud guffaw and said, “Dad! You cannot be serious. Women don’t die in childbirth anymore!” After all, I believed it was only pregnant women in third world countries that risked dying, far away from modern hospitals and basic sanitation. Surely a pregnant mother’s life couldn’t be in danger, not in this day and age, and certainly not where I lived, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

My pregnancy progressed normally. I suffered from morning sickness the first trimester, and enjoyed the second trimester as the nausea faded away. I started to actually look pregnant and enjoy the small bulge forming. After the standard blood tests came back showing all was normal with the baby, we breathed a small sigh of relief and looked ahead with few worries or concerns. I was taking my prenatal vitamins, eating healthily and doing all the things you are supposed to. Labor itself was one of the only things I feared as my husband and I were 10 lbs and 9 lbs respectively!

Around my 25th week I began to have some swelling and at one of my regular exams my previously low blood pressure had begun to creep up, slowly but noticeably. Still, these were fairly common pregnancy symptoms in themselves so no alarm bells were sounded and I was simply told to come back in for a check two weeks later. By the next appointment my kidneys had just started to spill a small amount of protein, an indication of pre-eclampsia. During the next five days, I went back and forth between partial bedrest at home and back to the hospital for urine collections and monitoring. I had no symptoms other than the swelling and, in fact, felt great which made it harder to fathom what was happening to my body. Just after hitting my 28th week, I went in for a check of the baby and was immediately admitted to the hospital with full-blown pre-eclampsia.

I was put on magnesium sulfate to ward off potential seizures as is the standard protocol for pre-eclampsia patients. I tried to settle in for what I hoped would be a few more precious weeks of time. However just 48 hours later, I started to vomit and feel what I thought was indigestion but turned out to be epigastric pain just below the ribs, a sign of something even more serious. Thirty minutes later our son was delivered by C-section in a room full of more people than I can remember.



Liam was born at 10:05 pm on a warm night in June at just over 28 weeks gestation weighing 2 lbs 1 oz (925 grams). He was immediately ventilated but stabilized and whisked off to the NICU before either of us had a chance to see him. With the baby delivered, we thought at least I was now out of the woods.

At some point in the middle of that night, a doctor came in to see my husband and inform him that they were moving me immediately to ICU. My blood tests showed that my platelets were dropping and I had developed a rare but very serious variant of pre-eclampsia called HELLP syndrome. My husband asked what that meant and this doctor, with quite a gruff bedside manner, responded that “it could be fatal” and rushed out the door to page the high-risk perinatologist at home for advice. My husband now had to deal with a baby on one floor, a wife on another, both of us fairly critical and unsure if we’d get through it.

What is HELLP Syndrome?

HELLP Syndrome stands for Hemolytic anemia, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count. It normally happens hand-in-hand with pre-eclampsia but not always.

Besides uncontrollable bleeding, a main danger with HELLP is liver rupture and we were told that HELLP patients generally get worse before they get better, thus the need to be monitored in ICU. They also had a bag of blood platelets ready to transfuse in case my platelets dropped below a certain range, I believe around 25,000. HELLP patients are classified according to 3 levels of platelet counts:
  • Class I (the most severe) is below 50,000
  • Class II is between 50,000 to 100,000
  • Class III below 150,000
At its worst, my platelets had fallen to 27,000 and had reached Class I HELLP but narrowly avoided needing a transfusion. It’s an understatement to say it was a difficult time for family. After two days in ICU and arms so black and blue from blood draws they were unrecognizable, my condition began to turn upwards and on the third day I was moved out of ICU to a normal recovery room. And, at last, I was able to visit my son for the first time.
Ultimately my son spent 76 days in the NICU. He was on ventilators for a month (conventional and oscillator), required PDA surgery for a heart ligament, fought severe pneumonia from a staph infection, and faced similar challenges of other preemies of his gestation. Though it has been a long road with challenges along the way, three years later he is a happy and healthy boy with a few scars (or battle wounds as we call them) and a wide grin.



Coming to terms with HELLP and the resulting premature delivery of my son has been a journey, one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Yet as trite as it sounds, so much has come from this experience. The appreciation for all the small milestones our preemies make. The strength and knowledge you gain as a parent from being your child’s advocate during the NICU and beyond whether their challenges are minor or profound. And of course the fellow parents of preemies you meet along the journey. Fellow parents bound together by many shared experiences including the indescribable feeling of having to leave your child at the hospital instead of coming home together. Night after night after night.

Symptoms of HELLP Syndrome
(Please note symptoms do not always present themselves with HELLP. These, however, are common):

  • Marked onset of headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Upper–gastric pain (which as I mentioned felt like pain under the ribs, or indigestion)
  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Edema (very typical of pre-eclampsia)

A blood test is performed to officially diagnose HELLP Syndrome. Other than delivery of the baby, there is no “cure” for HELLP syndrome. Recurrence rates are quoted as being anywhere from 5-35% with a higher risk of recurrence the earlier and more severe HELLP was.

Follow-up Testing:

HELLP survivors should be tested for a variety of autoimmune and clotting disorders. At present these include:

  • Lieden Factor V mutation R560Q
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia MTHFR Mutation
  • Prothrombin Gene Mutation 20210 (GA)
  • Protein C levels and Protein S levels; Activated Protein C activity
  • Antibodies to 6 phospholipids of the IgM, IgG and IgA classes
  • Lupus anticoagulant antibody
  • Russell Viper Venom time
  • Activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT)
  • Prothrombin time (PT)and Partial prothrom
(In my case I tested negative for all of the above disorders, though I most likely did have a genetic predisposition to pre-eclampsia)

Resources:

For more information on HELLP Syndrome, please consult the following:

Yahoo Groups HELLP Syndrome
HELLP Syndrome Society
Preeclampsia Foundation:

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Tiffany is the mother to Liam, born at 28 weeks gestation in June 2005. Since Liam's early birth she has done support for NICU parents and been an advocate for prematurity awareness. She enjoys cooking, gardening and running and works part-time as an internet marketing consultant.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pre-eclampsia



Today's post was kindly provided by Ryann, a fellow micro-preemie mom who I have the pleasure of knowing both online and in real life!

About 5 years before my pregnancy, I had a battle with elevated blood pressure. Under my physician’s care, I took medication and engaged in physical activity while also watching my diet more closely. Over time, I was able to get my blood pressure under control and my doctor said I no longer needed the medication. We still monitored my condition every year at checkups. When Nick and I found out we were expecting the weekend after Thanksgiving 2006, I was happy that I didn’t need that medication, as it wasn’t healthy to be on while pregnant.

Of course, my OBGYN was aware of my medical history, but my blood pressure remained normal until my 24th week of pregnancy. I started to feel heaviness in my chest and I had become more exhausted than usual. Dizzy spells were hitting me several times over a couple of days. The swelling of my feet, ankles, legs, hands, and face really started becoming obvious and painful.

I called my sister (who was also pregnant and to be induced that Saturday) on Wednesday, April 18th after leaving work early. I knew she had a blood pressure cuff at home and I asked if I could borrow it. I had Nick pick it up on his way home from work. I took my blood pressure and couldn’t believe my eyes. Thursday morning my OBGYN asked me to come straight to the hospital. After running some tests, the doctor told me to go home and rest, and they gave me a jug to collect my urine for 24 hours (TMI, I know, but pertinent to the story because they needed to monitor the amount of protein spilling into the urine). A prescription was written for a blood pressure medicine. I got the prescription filled and before I took the first pill, I read the info they staple on the front of the bag. I never do this, but for some reason, I thought to this time. The pharmacy had given me the wrong drugs. They gave me a medicine for diabetes instead of high blood pressure. After a few hours on the phone with the pharmacy and the doctors on call, we finally had the right medication. Remember it is very important to read that prescription information! If I hadn’t, things could have been even worse for us! On Friday, I returned the jug to the doctor’s office and went back home to rest. They told me I could go to work, but I really didn’t feel up to it. They told me I had pre-eclampsia, so I started doing my research.

Saturday morning, April 21st, I met my parents over at my sister’s house. They had come into town to be with my sister when she gave birth to my niece, Grace. We were all worried about Amy and Grace because Grace was breech and they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to turn her, but they were going to try before settling on a C-section. The hospital told my sister they would call her when they had a room open, so we had some time to spare. My parents and I decided to let her rest, so we went to breakfast. I wasn’t feeling well, but I tried not to focus on that because I really wanted my sister’s day to be about her. After breakfast, I decided to go home and rest and I would meet them at the hospital later, since it was just down the road from my house.

I was home alone and started to have headaches and dizzy spells. I took my blood pressure and called the doctor. She again instructed me to meet her at the hospital and NOT to drive myself! Nick was working so I called my mother in law. She picked me up and drove me to the hospital where I was met at the doors by a team of nurses and doctors. They quickly started monitoring me and had grim looks on their faces. I was told that I would not be leaving the hospital pregnant. At first I didn’t understand. Then it started to sink in… ok, I’d be on bed rest at the hospital for the remaining 16 weeks of the pregnancy. Then they informed me that because of the lack of a Level 3 NICU at the hospital, I needed to be transferred to a larger hospital in downtown Indianapolis.

I was scared and felt alone. My mother in law called my parents, who were now with my sister at another hospital where they had just taken her into the OR for a C-section. Mom and dad rushed over to my hospital to see me. I told them I’d be fine, to get back to Amy and Grace. I felt bad for stepping in on her special day! My mother in law then called my husband, Nick. He had a while left before work was over and then he wanted to go home and clean up before heading to the hospital. She told him just to come straight over instead. He did and when he got there, we told him what was happening.

The nurses needed to measure my urine output, so I had to have a catheter, a most uncomfortable experience! Diuretics were also given to help my body get rid of the liquid in my body. My kidneys were working overtime. A medicine called Magnesium Sulfate was started by IV. Believe me when I say I hope I NEVER have to be on that drug again. The Magnesium Sulfate is used to prevent severe pre-eclampsia from turning into eclampsia. It causes all sorts of nasty side effects such as “flushing” (ok, this is one of those words they must have used in the Victorian era, but really should be called flesh-burning!) and nausea along with the constant state of confusion. It was like someone was running hot needles across my entire body, punching me in the stomach, and taking a potato masher to my brain. I really don’t remember much of what happened while I was on the Magnesium Sulfate, which is probably a good thing.

I was loaded into an ambulance and taken 20 miles away to IU Medical Center located adjacent to Riley Children’s Hospital where a Level 3 NICU awaited us. I was admitted into the OB-ICU on Saturday evening. I was immediately attached to monitors and oxygen and IVs and the like. Nurses and doctors were coming into my room constantly to ask questions and check the machines. Many of the questions I heard over and over were: “Are you having any headaches? Any blurred vision? Seeing any spots?” I later learned that they were constantly monitoring me to make sure I didn’t have any seizures or strokes. They tried their best to keep the room dark and quiet. No TV, no reading, not very many visitors, no phone or computer. They tried to keep me as calm as possible with as little stimulation as possible. Urine output was monitored and tests showed my liver and kidneys were being affected. Ultrasounds were taken of the baby and a constant fetal monitor was on. Because of the pre-eclampsia, Addyson’s growth had stalled. She was measuring as though she was the size of a 23 weeker. The only way to really stop the pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby. My life was on the line, but so was our baby’s.

Neonatologists and other specialists from Riley Children’s Hospital came over to visit us. They delivered the grim news. If Addyson was born now, there would be a 50% chance of survival with an extreme chance of major disabilities. If we could hold the delivery off for any longer, the prognosis would get better with each passing day. I was fully intent to lay in that hospital bed for the next 16 weeks if that is what it took. Deep down, I knew the doctors knew better, but I tried to remain positive. I don’t remember all the details, because I was so drugged, but I’m sure at one point, they asked us to what point we wanted to go as far as life saving and life maintaining measures for Addyson. We had a lot to think about and a lot to worry about. A research team visited us and they were asking us to participate in a breathing study for preemies. We discussed it and decided that we wanted to help in any way we could. No matter Addy’s outcome, we wanted to be able to let her help the medical teams learn more about caring for preemies. We’ve since participated in several studies and will continue to as long as we can.

I went through the entire gamut of emotions at this point. My husband runs a garden center and this was the busiest time of year for them. Since we didn’t know how long I’d be in the hospital, he continued to work during this time. While I’m sure I had visitors, I felt mostly alone and scared. I worried that my husband blamed me, which I know is insane! I worried what other people would think… had I done something wrong to cause this? Should I have taken better care of myself through this pregnancy? Should I have asked more questions of the doctor when I started swelling a week or so before? Would I have to say goodbye to my baby? Would I be able to live if she didn’t make it? I even thought I might not make it at one point. I wanted to visit my sister and my new niece who was born on April 21st, the day I was admitted to the hospital. Would I be able to afford this? What am I going to do for the next 16 weeks in this hospital room? Irrational thoughts to most of you, I know, but I’m being honest. I’m sure there are others who have been in that position and thought those same things.

The doctors came into my room the morning of Wednesday, April 25th and said that my body was starting to show signs of major distress. They needed to deliver the baby. I thought they meant that week. Quickly, they corrected me and said they needed to take me to the OR immediately. I remember asking if we had any say in the decision. They informed me that if we didn’t deliver the baby, neither of us would make it. I begged to call my parents. They were able to hold off on the surgery until my parents made the 2 ½ hour drive down to Indianapolis.

At 12:31pm, Addyson was delivered by C-section. She weighed 1 lb, 7.9 oz and was 11 ½ inches in length. Doctors said a vaginal delivery wasn’t possible, a baby her size and with our circumstances wouldn’t survive a vaginal delivery. Nick was able to be in the OR with us and said he watched the whole thing! I was awake, but scared. I remember the two people that were monitoring the anesthesia were having a conversation like nothing was happening… it was surreal. I remember hearing the nurses count all of the instruments in the room before the surgery and after the surgery… I’m sure they had to account for each piece so nothing was left inside me. I wish I could say the birth was a beautiful moment in our lives and that it was a bonding experience, but it wasn’t.

Addyson was placed into what Nick said was a Ziploc bag. This helped keep her body warm and her skin moist. It was a vital part of the first few hours of her life. Because of all the drugs, I wasn’t very aware of what was happening for the next day or so. My blood pressure, even though they delivered Addyson, was still too high and the doctors wouldn’t allow me to visit Addyson in the NICU until we got it more under control. The NICU nurse that welcomed Addyson to the NICU took a few photos and hand and feet prints. She sent them over to my room so I could meet my baby Addyson.



I was released from the hospital on April 30th on blood pressure medication. I was followed by the high-risk doctors at the hospital for the next month until we were finally able to control the blood pressure.

Addyson remained in the NICU until July 19th and then was moved to the Special Care Nursery at the IU Medical Center until she was finally able to come home on August 21st (just 4 days shy of 4 months old!). You can read more about Addyson’s rollercoaster life at her CaringBridge page.

I’m sure other mother’s have had to deal with the feeling of guilt in not being able to carry a healthy baby. I know there are mothers who have lost babies at all stages of pregnancy. While I didn’t lose my baby, I did lose a part of being pregnant that I’ll never be able to experience. I’ll never know what a contraction feels like. I’ll never know the feeling of being so pregnant that I waddle. We didn’t get a chance to take those beautiful pregnancy photos that I wanted to take.

Doctors aren’t sure what caused my severe pre-eclampsia and aren’t sure if I would be prone to having issues again so Nick and I decided that we had our hands full with Addyson anyways. We could never put my life on the line to have another child. I couldn’t bear to leave Addy motherless in the hopes of having another baby. Our family is now complete and we couldn’t be happier with her progress.

Pre-eclampsia can sneak up on you so quickly, but it’s important to know the signs and symptoms so you can be prepared and inform your doctor. You can read more about pre-eclampsia here and here.

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Ryann is a 29-year old kitchen and bath designer from Indianapolis. When not busy cooking, camping, or scoring great deals, she enjoys traveling with her husband Nick and scrapbooking her preemie daughter Addyson's journey. She can be found blogging at A Little Birdie Told Me.

Basket of Indulgence, Week 3


How fun is that?

Lucky little me was so excited to receive this in the mail two weeks ago. Lucky family members of mine were thrilled to get to share those Chex Mix bars with me too! I have had the pleasure of being asked to be a part of MyBlogSpark which basically means I get to try fun things like this and then offer a few of you the same opportunity. Not bad, eh? Not only is there a full box of Chex Mix bars in there, but there is also a nail brush, loofah sponge, massager, caramel scented lotion, and three chocolate scented candles.

I am very upfront about the fact that I make just about any kind of treat or baked good from scratch in this house. I make granola bars. I bake our bread. Yada yada yada. But I'm also not "above" packaged treats. And when I read the description of these Turtle Chex Mix bars --"These new snacks combine crunchy Chex pieces, pretzels and peanuts with chewy and indulgent ingredients like caramel and chocolate. And if that´s not enough, they have less than 150 calories per bar and provide at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving (48 grams recommended daily)!"-- there was little doubt in my mind that we would all like them. And we did. I have since purchased a second box of Chex Mix bars using. They're super handy to keep in the diaper bag for a quick snack for the kids or a last-ditch breakfast for a mommy who rushed out the door too fast!

I am delighted to be able to offer one of these baskets to THREE of my readers. The first basket was won last night by Bethany. Congrats! I still have one more to give away!  The entry period will run from 6:00 AM Wednesday morning until 6:00 PM Eastern Time on Tuesday.

To enter, please leave a comment answering this question:

Are you a sweet or salty snacker? (for the record, I'm one of those combo people, e.g. I adore chocolate covered pretzels...)

Please be sure your name is "clickable" or you leave an email address so I can contact you.

For a bonus entry, mention this giveaway on your blog then post your link in the comments.

Thanks... good luck!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Basket of Indulgence #2 Winner!


Congratulations to Bethany, #27!

Bethany wrote:

"Funny thing...those Turtle Chex mix bars are my new favorite snack. I bought a few preparing for Hurricane Gustav and loved them!!

Thanks for this fun contest!"


Enjoy these with no fear of hurricanes, Bethany!  Please email me your mailing address to micropreemies (at) yahoo (dot) com within 48 hours... thanks!!!

Didn't win?  No worries!  Come back tomorrow to enter the third and final Basket of Indulgence giveaway.  Thanks for all your great comments!

From Worry to Wonder


Today's post was written by one of my favorite mommy-bloggers, Jessica Fisher, AKA FishMama...

I was always a worrier as a child. I always thought about the “what ifs” and the worst case scenario. My mother became accustomed to fielding my fears and helping me through them. But, that didn’t solve it. I carried my tendency toward anxiety into adulthood and, my husband became the one to help me think rationally about the fears that plagued me.

We had been married for two years when I conceived, and how excited we were! Yet, I worried.

What if there is something wrong with the baby? What if I miscarry and I don’t know it? What if I go to the doctor appointment and the baby has just vanished?

I never said these fears were rational.

Every time I went to the bathroom I worried that I would see blood or that I would lose the baby. But, after an easy-going pregnancy, plagued by only a few bouts of heartburn, our son was born. And I could worry about other things.

He was about eighteen months when we conceived again. I didn’t worry this time because the first time had been such a success. However, nine weeks into the pregnancy I started spotting. The midwife said it could be implantation bleeding. But, after several days of bleeding and an ultrasound, we found out that our baby had died. We chose to miscarry naturally rather than have a D and C. And I found myself with a new set of worries:

What if I hemorrhage? What if I die, and my son is left without a mother? What if?

But, I didn’t die. I didn’t hemorrhage. Instead, I went on to conceive again and again, but to have two more miscarriages in the following eleven months. In that year of doctor’s visits, blood tests, and loss, I learned a lot about how a woman’s body (and heart) works. Here are some of the things I learned:

1. Ask questions. No matter how silly they may seem, ask them. To know the truth about your condition is power against anxiety. Yes, something bad may happen, but don’t fear the things that couldn’t happen or those that are highly unlikely. If you’re confused, ask for help to understand what is happening to you.

2. Become familiar with the medical terms involved. A miscarriage is really called “a spontaneous abortion.” I hated the connotations that the phrase brought because I so badly wanted those babies. I wasn’t aborting them, but my body was. It helped to understand what was written on my paper work. To be able to ask questions in an informed manner, adopting medical terminology, helped me to feel a little more in control of an uncontrollable situation.

3. Find out your options. I chose to miscarry at home the first two times. I assume that I was low-risk for complications. Determine what choices you can have. I was able to stay in the comfort of my own home, unmedicated except for high does of ibuprofen as opposed to being an out-patient and undergo anesthesia.

The physical aspects of miscarrying were not very painful, just like a very bad period. You are instructed to watch for excessive bleeding and to seek medical attention if you see signs of hemorrhaging.

The doctor will determine if the miscarriage is “complete” through blood testing for HcG hormones.

4. Keep your mental health in mind. The psychological aspect of miscarrying can vary from person to person and from pregnancy to pregnancy. Keep a gauge on how you’re doing by talking with your spouse, friends, and medical professionals. And make your decisions accordingly. My second miscarriage took six weeks of bleeding before it was complete. That was excruciating for my mind. It seemed forever before I could “move on.” So when I miscarried a third time, I chose to have a D&C. I chose not to risk another couple months of being constantly reminded of my loss every time I went to the bathroom.

5. Trust in the One who knows your body inside and out. One thing that really helped me during that time was learning to trust God with the outcome. I was listening to a radio program of a family that had experienced great loss one day and heard the father say, “We trust not in what God will do because we don’t know what He will do. We trust in Who He is. Creator. All-mighty God. The Great Physician.”

Amen. God created me. He knew my body. He knew the plans He had for me. And He said they would be good. I could echo Job’s words, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” To pray over and over for faith to trust Him was the best way to battle the anxiety of the “what ifs.” He was able to take my worry and make me wonder what great plans He had for me. May He do the same for you in whatever circumstances you find yourself in.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jessica Fisher, aka FishMama, is a happy wife and mother of SIX kids. (Yes, we went on to conceive and birth five more children!) Follow her on her journey to Joyful Motherhood at www.lifeasmom.com.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Being a Miracle Is Not an Excuse


My daughter's story is pretty incredible. The odds she overcame are staggering. I stand in awe of this tough, amazing little girl who has demonstrated more strength than the majority of adults I know. She has been called, by family, friends, strangers, and even her doctor, a miracle.

I get that. And I never forget how incredibly blessed we are to have her here with us. I never forget that things could have so easily gone a different direction and we wouldn't have that spunky little sparkler in our lives today.

But you know what?

Being a miracle is not an excuse.

The fact that my daughter's feistiness is part of her fighting spirit and part of why she's here is clear. That doesn't mean it's okay for her to act out. It is too easy to want to "make up" for these babies' rough beginnings. Too easy to make excuses. I've seen countless preemies get spoiled in an attempt to somehow balance out the short-changed start in life they got.

But guess what?

C. gets put in time out when she misbehaves. We don't let her yell and demand. She has a firm bedtime. She is expected to eat what the rest of us eat. She is expected to share with her brother. She is, under no circumstances, permitted to hit or kick.

It is my privilege to get to snuggle and love this little girl. It is my duty to ensure that she is raised well... and that others can actually enjoy her behavior too!

C. will always be a spitfire. She runs away from school. She gives doctors and nurses the evil eye when they mess with her. She grabs handfuls of her daddy's hair and laughs if he says "ow". That's just her. And she'll always be our little miracle...

But I won't ever let that be an excuse.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Seven Years and Counting...



My husband and I met as college students, some eleven years ago... but today marks seven years of marriage for us.



Here are some things this marriage has brought me for which I am so very grateful...
  • A handsome, dark-haired man who still opens the door for me.
  • A delightful little girl who will perhaps choose to wear her Bama's bridal head-piece someday just like I did... that crown made me feel like a princess.
  • Our incredibly tall, undeniably loving son who was our first great achievement together.
  • An understanding of struggle that I had never known before.
  • An incredible discovery of a person I could always, always count on to catch me.
My husband has been called to take on stress and challenges beyond what anyone should have to face- when I was 6 1/2 weeks pregnant with our daughter and laying in an emergency room being told I was likely miscarrying, his father was three floors above me in the ICU. He ran between us and balanced the load and shouldered the burden of being a source of strength to me, his mother, and his two sisters.

Here's to seven amazing years... and as many more as we're blessed with.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

JL's P.S. Fest: 11/15/08

p.s. Well, first and foremost, Happy Birthday to my daddy! Have a great one! (btw, when I asked A. what he wanted for Christmas the other day, he said- without hesitation- "Papa!" :))

p.p.s. This post over at Frugal Chick.net reminded me how much I adore this tool for cleaning my floors!

p.p.p.s. With my recent obsession with vinegar, I loved reading about this use for peroxide over at Here's the Diehl.

p.p.p.p.s. I love a good soup recipe... and the Apron Queen's looks like one I could whip up with what's on hand!

p.p.p.p.p.s. My boy adores a good cornbread... this one from Mimi's Jewel Box of Tips and Treasures has a nice festive touch!

p.p.p.p.p.p.s. These Christmas crafts shared by One Krusty Mama look like a great way to spend a chilly day with the kiddos...

What great links have you found interesting this week?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Attention KCShipe


Basket of Indulgence #1 Winner, KCShipe...

Please contact me either by a comment on this post or an email to: micropreemies (at) yahoo (dot) com by 6:30 pm Eastern time this evening, November 14, 2008! If I don't hear from you, unfortunately I'll have to draw a new winner! Thanks.

Preterm Labor/ Unknown Causes


There are so very many factors and conditions that can ultimately lead to premature births. Some of them are completely preventable- like drug use and inadequate prenatal care. Some aren't preventable but they are predictable- like carrying high-order multiples or diagnosed incompetent cervix. Others are not determined until much later one- like Pre-eclampsia or HELLP syndrome. And in some cases, something suddenly happens that kick-starts labor- like preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) or placenta abrupta or previa. And then, sometimes, nobody knows. It just remains a mystery.

When I went into labor at 23w5d pregnant, it came as a shock to me as it would any woman. My water didn't break. I didn't have any significant pain or cramping. My blood pressure and vitals were fantastic and the baby was never in distress. It was odd.

One OB Resident suggested that perhaps it was incompetent cervix. The head of the department pointed out that I carried an 8-pounder for 41 weeks. It didn't seem to be my cervix.

The nurses suggested to me that perhaps it was the placenta. Maybe something had gone wrong. It seemed possible. And, given the excessive amount of blood I lost just before the birth of my daughter, it made sense.

Still, because I seemed so healthy and because I had successfully carried a pregnancy to term before, they sent the placenta to pathology. The medical team performing my C-section couldn't really "see" anything wrong when they performed the surgery. So they sent the placenta off to be analyzed, to be gone over with a fine-tooth comb so that we could get to the bottom of this premature birth.

It wasn't until a few days after C's birth that I thought to ask about it. The NICU nurse caring for our daughter called over to the lab.

The verdict?

Preterm Labor/ Unknown Causes.

There appeared to be nothing wrong. Nothing went wrong through my pregnancy. Nothing really went wrong in my labor (except that it happened way too early). The placenta appeared intact and healthy. They wrote it off as a "fluke".

What does this mean for me? Well, it means I have no resolution. I will never have any idea what caused my labor to start so early and, as a result, there is no way I can be proactive in trying to prevent it should we ever have a third child. That's kind of scary.

But, at the same time, it means just what the doctor told me at my post-partum check-up. Most likely it wouldn't happen to me again. Most likely I could sustain a subsequent pregnancy without incident. Of course, because of my classic C-section, they wouldn't allow me to go past 36 weeks (because of the risk of rupture), but- still- it's doubtful I would give birth extremely prematurely again. And that's kind of comforting.

And, so, like so many things, it's a double-sided coin. Preterm labor with unknown causes gives you nothing to blame... but it also leaves you with nothing specific to fear.

******************************************************
I thought I'd be away for a bit due to surgery. Turns out my lab-work revealed that I'm not able to have the surgery safely right now. Figuring I'd be out of commission, I have some great guest posts all lined up. I'll still be running them next week becuase they are truly excellent and informative. Some wonderful, brave women have taken the time to write about their own journeys. Over the next week we'll have posts dealing with infertility, miscarriages, preeclampsia, HELLP, and PPROM. On the quest to become pregnant, stay pregnant, and carry to term, there are sometimes bumps in the road. Let's talk about some of them together and maybe learn a few things...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Veggie... tales.


When your three-year tries to convince you that he doesn't need to eat his broccoli because he already had it for his morning snack at preschool... well, I think someone's become quite the story-teller...

Three Things to Enjoy About Your Micropreemie


Okay... truth? I could probably write a novella about the things you should enjoy about your tiny baby, but here are just three that pop into my head. There are a lot of scary, not-so-fun things about caring for a child who is just so itty-bitty. But here a few things to enjoy:

  1. Getting your money's worth: You will actually get a lot of use out of newborn size clothes. Let's face it- everyone loves those tiny little outfits and most parents end up buying at least a couple of them for their full-term infant. But, by two weeks old, they're useless for most full-termers. Your preemie will put them to good use!
  2. Super-portability: While all the gear that often goes with your preemie can be heavy, your actual baby won't strain your arms... or back. Nursing will not involve juggling and balancing a large infant; preemies tuck in there nicely. :)
  3. Looking exceptional: You may well have to wait a little longer than most parents for your child to hit all those "milestones". But when your child happens to do one of these things, he or she will look incredibly precocious. When C. rolled over at four months, that wasn't really anything exceptional... except, with her age corrected, she was a newborn and she only weighed 6 1/2 lb at the time. She appeared to be nothing short of amazing! And it was pretty incredible to watch this itty-bitty child move around like that. (For the record, the only reason she learned to roll so early is that she was FURIOUS that we were putting her on her back to sleep; in the NICU, she had been allowed to sleep on her tummy and she much preferred it. Still does.)
Enjoy your preemies! In between trying to juggle their challenging and special care, try to see the blessings they offer as well...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What's Your State's Grade?




Today is Prematurity Awareness Day, in case you didn't know! Pretty much every day is "prematurity awareness day" around here, but, still, it's a great time to talk about some things...

The March of Dimes graded each state based on the overall prematurity rate as it compares to the nation's objective goal of 7.6%. My state got an "F". How about yours? As a country, we averaged a "D". Ouch.

Check it out here.

While you're there, consider signing the Petition for Preemies!

Choosing a Great Preschool


I think there are so many factors to consider when it comes to educating our children. What's right for one family will certainly not be a perfect fit for another. As family units, our priorities, histories, and preferences vary dramatically at times. It should come as no surprise that a group of great parents will choose different paths for their kids.

For us, there were a few factors that needed to be in place:
  1. The program had to be play-based: We believe this is how our children learn and grow. Our 2- and 3-year olds would not thrive in a classroom where they sat at desks all day and practiced tracing letters. They, do, however build imagination and motor skills as they play dress-up and explore a sensory table.
  2. There needed to be enough, but not too many, kids: There are ten children in the 2-year old class and thirteen in the threes. There are two teachers for each class. I want to make sure that my children are adequately supervised. I also want them to have plenty of peers. And guess what? You know one reason I think preschool serves a role that a play-date cannot? My kids need to learn to interact with individuals who are not their buddies. They need to learn problem-solving, negotiation, and compromise skills... and not just with their best friend down the block. Social development is a critical skill that we use throughout our entire lives. We don't take that lightly.
  3. The preschool needed to be affiliated with the public school system: Why? Because this is how my children are able to receive any needed therapies. As C. turns three and ages out of early intervention, the school system takes over. By sending her to a preschool affiliated with our school system, we allow her to receive her therapies as part of her daily routine. Additionally, preschools with therapy services on-site are often developmentally based and that fits our philosophy perfectly.
A few things that didn't matter?

  1. A religious component: I would not have a problem with Christianity being woven into my children's education. But it's not a reason I'd choose a school. Guiding them through faith is MY job. And my responsibility. The lessons they need in this area should come, I think, from our family and our church.
  2. Proximity: I drive 17 miles each way to that school. When C. turns three, she'll qualify for school-provided busing. But, until then, it's a hike. I'd much rather drive than settle for an inferior program.
  3. Status: There's something to be said for enrolling in a preschool with an excellent reputation. But I refuse to be part of a status game. I've heard of parents paying well over a thousand dollars a month for preschool (although I often ask myself if this is truly school or just fancy-pants childcare???).... to me, that is borderline crazy. We each make our own choices, but- to me- I would never (and could never) pay that kind of money just to say, "My child attends Super Awesome Brilliant Kid Academy."
Is there a perfect solution? Of course not. I would encourage you to make a list of your own priorities if this is a decision you'll be facing soon. Successful children can come out of all sorts of educational frameworks. My only definite recommendation is that, regardless of what avenue you choose, you notify your public school system if you have any reason to suspect a delay (in speech, fine motor, gross motor, cognitive development, etc.) Your school system will guide you through the process of evaluation. If, in fact, your child could benefit from therapy, they'll help you know your rights- whether you choose a public school, private school, or to home-school.

Good luck!

For more great tips, check out Works for Me Wednesday, hosted at Rocks in My Dryer!

For another chance to win a Basket of Indulgence, be sure to check out this post. Thanks!

Basket of Indulgence, Week 2


This contest is now closed... come back tomorrow for another basket giveaway!

How fun is that?

Lucky little me was so excited to receive this in the mail two weeks ago. Lucky family members of mine were thrilled to get to share those Chex Mix bars with me too! I have had the pleasure of being asked to be a part of MyBlogSpark which basically means I get to try fun things like this and then offer a few of you the same opportunity. Not bad, eh? Not only is there a full box of Chex Mix bars in there, but there is also a nail brush, loofah sponge, massager, caramel scented lotion, and three chocolate scented candles.

I am very upfront about the fact that I make just about any kind of treat or baked good from scratch in this house. I make granola bars. I bake our bread. Yada yada yada. But I'm also not "above" packaged treats. And when I read the description of these Turtle Chex Mix bars --"These new snacks combine crunchy Chex pieces, pretzels and peanuts with chewy and indulgent ingredients like caramel and chocolate. And if that´s not enough, they have less than 150 calories per bar and provide at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving (48 grams recommended daily)!"-- there was little doubt in my mind that we would all like them. And we did. I have since purchased a second box of Chex Mix bars using this coupon. They're super handy to keep in the diaper bag for a quick snack for the kids or a last-ditch breakfast for a mommy who rushed out the door too fast!

I am delighted to be able to offer one of these baskets to THREE of my readers. The first basket was won last night by KCShipe. Congrats! I still have two more to give away! For the next two weeks, I'll be giving away one basket each week. The entry period will run from 6:00 AM Wednesday morning until 6:00 PM Eastern Time on Tuesday.

To enter, please leave a comment answering these questions:

What's the "newest" treat you've tried? Did you like it?

Please be sure your name is "clickable" or you leave an email address so I can contact you.

For a bonus entry, mention this giveaway on your blog then post your link in the comments.

Thanks... good luck!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winner of the 1st Basket of Indulgence


Congratulations to KCShipe who was lucky number 3!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

3

Timestamp: 2008-11-11 23:39:38 UTC


Enjoy!


For everyone else, there are still two more to go! Next week's drawing will be up tomorrow morning by 6 am, Eastern time. Good luck.

Redefining Normal


I think that most of us, from the moment we find out we're expecting our first child, start thinking of goals and milestones...


At first, these milestones apply to us, the moms, and where we "should" be at in a pregnancy-- how we should be feeling, how big we should be getting, how early we should feel movement. There is this ridiculous part of human nature that tries to make everything, even bringing life into this world, a competition. I remember feeling like a failure when I didn't feel movement until AFTER my five month ultrasound...


Once the baby arrives, the focus is all about that bundle of joy. And the charts and comparisons begin. There are dozens of books and hundreds of articles all designed to tell us what's "normal". All established to provide us with a benchmark by which we can measure our own children's achievements ( or lack thereof).


Maybe it's just me, but I did not find this helpful. Never in my life did one of these books bring me comfort or joy. Instead, they caused unnecessary worry. They caused me to lose hundreds of hours of sleep over my son who didn't speak until he was almost three... and now, at nearly four, can count to 20 in five languages. And read. Chapters. We went from profoundly delayed to incredibly advanced.


And you know what?


He's the same kid. The. Same. Kid. Loving and snuggly and my biggest fan. The very most important, fundamental things about him never changed. Am I happy to hear his voice (finally)? Of course. Do I think it's wise to always be aware of what's "typical" so you can get help as needed? Absolutely.


But I think perhaps it's time we also consider redefining "normal". It's time we stop feeling like failures for not following the "book chart" month by month. By the same token, we should not feel triumphant just because we "met" that guideline. Rejoice with your children in all their discoveries and achievements. Be aware of situations where early intervention is appropriate.


And, above all, love that unique, wonderful gift who will forever be so much better than just... normal.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"My Story..." Monday: C. Fights the C-PAP


Our little girl's graduation from the ventilator to the C-PAP was one of her biggest accomplishments to date. We were so incredibly thrilled to know that her lungs were getting stronger and her airway was able to start recovering from over a month of having a tube jammed down it. We still knew that there was a chance she'd need to be re-intubated down the road, especially if she got sick, needed surgery, or lost too much weight. Just the act of breathing burns calories, believe it or not, and these tiny little babies need to keep all the calories they can just to grow!

As I mentioned last Monday, it was on a Friday (our son's first birthday) they were able to transition C. off the vent. She made it through Saturday without incident and we were so excited to go back to see her on Sunday!

When we arrived, I was amazed to see, not the C-PAP mask on her face, but a nasal cannula. This is usually the next step for preemies, after they've been on the C-PAP long enough to become proficient at breathing. Once they master that process, the doctors attempt to shift them to the nasal cannula with supplemental oxygen. This requires that the baby breathe entirely independently, but does provide a higher concentration of O2 compared to room air.

C's nurse informed us that she was doing so well, they had graduated her to 6 hours of C-PAP and 3 hours of cannula in rotation. What fabulous news!

By the next day we had more news...

C. was no longer doing well on the C-PAP. Her oxygen saturation kept plummeting and the nurses would have to rush in to check her. At first we were concerned that she'd had to put back on the ventilator. I mean, what other choice would there be?

Turns out she hated the mask. She'd pull it off her face and hold it away from her skin. As a result, she received none of the pressure AND none of the extra oxygen. And so her levels would drop.

The medical team (not for the first, or the last, time) gave in to her and let her go to the nasal cannula full-time.

And that suited C. just fine. Feisty, stubborn, demanding, contrary, and strong. These words described our little girl before she even hit 2 lb. And, believe me, they describe her to this day.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

There will be no "My Story..." Monday next week, but please come back the following week to read about one of the hardest decisions I had to make during this entire journey... and, surprisingly, it did not concern our preemie daughter...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

JL's P.S. Fest: 11/8/08


p.s. This site keeps us entertained on many a gloomy November day-- fabulous tracing pages!

p.p.s. This free 8" X 10" photo deal (which expires later today- hurry!!) at Walgreen's, shared by Heather, enabled me to get my hands on the portrait shown below in record time!

p.p.p.s. Since I wrote about using up Jello this past week and using up Kool-Aid a couple months ago, I like this recipe for play-dough from Lisa at As Thyme Goes Buy.

p.p.p.p.s. I spend a LOT of time in my apron! I find this toile bib apron at Rick Rack Attack absolutely adorable!

p.p.p.p.p.s. Like Lisa @ Blessed With Grace, we have enjoyed these fabulous board books for years!


(That's little C, second to the left, and our son all the way to the right- aren't they so cute hand-in-hand with all their cousins from their mommy's side??)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Protein to Grow On


Protein is so important. For all of us, really. And it's especially important for babies who grow so very much in those first couple of years.

Because preemies can have issues with mouth (tongue and jaw) strength, severe tongue thrust issues, and sometimes tire easily, eating meats can sometimes be challenging. While my little girl would use her finger to mash bits of steak on her ONE tooth to eat it, not all babies will be willing to go through the effort. They still need protein! Preemies, especially, can be prone to "low tone" and protein is essential for helping to build up their muscle strength and stability.

First of all, do know that as long as your baby is on breast milk and/or formula, most of his or her nutrient needs are being met that way (I am referring for up to one year old, corrected, here. If you choose to breastfeed your child until kindergarten, so be it, but your child needs to have their nutritional needs met through FOOD by that point). Also, even as you introduce table foods and try to wean from baby foods, it is not harmful to your child to "fill-in" nutritional gaps with baby food until your child has mastered the "big people" version. So, for example, your baby may be scarfing down pasta, cheerios, bananas, and peas, but you may fill in with jars of baby food meats or meat/veggie blends. There is nothing wrong with this.

Here are just a few more things I want you to consider. Chicken, beef, and pork are all tasty options. Here are a few more great protein options that, I think, too many parents ignore:
  1. Beans- Beans have little to no fat and can be easily mashed up. They can be cooked to a "softer" consistency eliminating virtually any choking risk. Many beans have little flavor on their own and can easily be mixed with familiar, enjoyed flavors or spices.
  2. Peanut Butter- Barring a familial history of food allergies, many doctors say it's safe to let your baby try peanut butter at one year old. To be safe, serve peanut butter in sauces or spread in very thin layers. Never offer your baby a big glob of peanut butter. This can be a choking hazard.
  3. Eggs- Eggs are a wonderful, mild, economical protein. The yolk is safe for babies as young as 9 months; the white at 12 months. Eggs are soft and easy to swallow. They also contain fats that are beneficial to these tiny babies!
  4. Fish- White fish is very mild and easy to chew. I'm not sure why so many people don't offer their babies fish at a younger age... We also chose to let our kids have shellfish at a young age because we don't have a strong history of food allergies. Both fish and shellfish tend to be less "tough" than their land-animal counterparts making them excellent choices for early foods!
When parenting a preemie, sometimes it pays to think outside the box a bit. Don't be afraid to try new things, offer new flavors, and explore new avenues. There are lots of ways to make sure your child's nutritional needs are being met. Try not to get discouraged and enjoy the exploration!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Three Painless Ways to Help


When it comes to hospitalized children and their families, there are few among us who don't want to help in some way. As someone who needed an awful lot of help almost three years ago, I'm glad for that generous, caring spirit that exists in so many!

But it's hard. And we don't all have much in the way of extra funds. Or even extra time.

Here are three things you can do to benefit hospitalized children without breaking the bank or taxing your schedule:

  1. Collect Pop Tabs-- If you or anyone in your family drinks canned soda, juice, or beer, don't forget to pull the tabs off. You can still recycle them for full value. Those tabs play a huge part in the funding of Ronald McDonald Houses around the country. Ronald McDonald Houses exist to provide a place for families to stay to be close to their hospitalized children. If you're not close to a RMH or a children's hospital, you can also drop them off at any McDonald's Restaurant. Some even have a collection bin in the drive-thru. Also consider putting a pop tab collection box in your office break room, church hall, or even dorm lounge. These boxes are available from any RMH or, if you'd like, send me an email with your address and I'll pick some up and mail them out...
  2. Consider buying books and stuffed animals at Kohl's-- Kohl's has a program called Kohl's Cares for Kids that is ongoing throughout the year. During any given season, you can find approximately four different books and corresponding stuffed animals for sale up by the registers. These are often excellent books by renowned children's authors. Each hard-bound book or animal sells for just five dollars. All proceeds go to benefit local children's hospitals and charities. In our state, a good portion goes toward carseat research and programs that help ensure every child is safe. Five dollars isn't "free", but it's a good deal for a book or toy that will make a great gift.
  3. Sign the Prematurity Awareness Petition-- Taking 30 seconds to add your name to the list helps show that these tiny babies matter to you. Raising awareness and ensuring continuing research and education is dependent on the voice of many.
Sometimes, it really is the little things that count. Children around the country are counting on us to do those little things.