Thursday, March 14, 2013

NICU Week 1

Dexter went in for his surgery on September 21st at around 2:30am. He was exactly 24 hours old. He was out of surgery in about 2 hours, and all went well. He lost only a minimal amount of his bowel. I was told that he would be in the nicu for a few weeks and that we would need to watch him to be sure he didn't have any leaks.

I was up all night the first night. I was pumping every two hours for 15 minutes. After pumping and cleaning the pump parts each time, I only had about an hour before I had to start all over again each time. I was getting about 2-5ml of colostrum each session. It seemed like so much work for so little, but I kept it up because I knew how vital it was to Dex. I rented a hospital grade pump to take with me.

When I was discharged Debbie came and we went straight up to the children's hospital. When we arrived at the nicu Dex was still in too much pain for us to touch him. I visited with him briefly and then Debbie drove me home so that I could fill my prescriptions for my pain meds. Dexter had 3 apnea episodes and a CT scan was ordered. The neonatologist said that it could be from pain but most 37 weekers didn't have apnea so the scan would be precautionary. The scan came back about 7 hours later, and was normal. So they put a nasal condula on him to give him bursts of air with his episodes.

When the transport team came to take Dexter from the hospital to children's I was given a rag doll called a snoedel. They told me to sleep with it in my shirt so it would have my scent and I could give it to Dexter. I put it in his isolette before we left the nicu, and it triggered his sucking reflex. I nearly had a break down right then.

Once at home I tried to put my mind at ease and relax. I was in the shower around midnight when my phone rang. The nicu called to tell me they were starting Dexter on seizure medication as a precaution. The doctor had witnessed one of his episodes and was concerned it could be from seizures. I was terrified, and nearly rushed off to the hospital. They told me they would call with more information if anything changed and that they would be speaking to a neurologist in the morning.

The next morning when I arrived for rounds the news wasn't great. They had raised his morphine because he was in so much pain. They had cathed him because his legs were turning red. They said they would now have to watch him closely because with such a high dose of morphine he may relax too much and need to be intubated, his breathing was becoming shallow.

He ended up being put on a ventilator later that day. But it allowed him to rest much more comfortably and I was able to touch his hand that night before I went home.

I was also up to 20ml per pumping session. The nurses were thrilled.

I woke up and realized I hadn't gotten a call from the nicu that night. I was excited, hoping this would be a turning point.

When I got to his bedside he opened his eyes to the sound of my voice. They had shaved his head and put an IV in. I signed a consent form for a picc line so that they could take some of his IVs out. They also switched his drainage tube out for a bigger one because they didn't want anything to pass through his bowels. He was still having apnea episodes even with the vent and the seizure meds so an EEG was ordered. He was hooked up and was going to be kept on it overnight.

My milk finally came in, and the nurse had to give me bigger containers to pump into.

Dexter's EEG came back normal. The doctor said that she thought the episodes were still from pain. But, if they didn't stop she would be looking at his heart.
I got to hold him for awhile. It was so amazing to have him in my arms again.


I got to hold Dexter skin to skin for the first time. He immediately relaxed and snuggled into me. It was heaven for both of us. They gave me a mirror to use to look at his face. The back said  "In this mirror you will see, the wonderful reflection of you and me. Hold me tight and snuggle close, this time together means the most. My skin next to yours has healing power, let's be together for at least an hour. Sit back and enjoy the view, there is nothing more I'd rather do."

Dexter was completely off of the morphine and seizure meds. They had been weaning him down slowly. They removed the catheter, and let me change his first wet diaper. He was taken off the vent, and didn't even act phased. It was a huge day for us. I got to wipe his mouth with a swab soaked in breastmilk. He tried to suck on it and seemed very excited. I was able to hold him for over an hour. By this point I was also pumping over 3oz every two hours. They gave Dexter a pacifier, since his sucking reflex was so strong. He seemed much more relaxed and content.

At exactly a week old Dexter had made amazing progress. The NICU had 8 rooms. The lower the number room you were in, the sicker the baby. Dexter started out in room 2. They moved him to room 5 at the end of the day. 

Amazing how much time and energy it took to write all this out. Will post about the rest of our NICU stay later.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Life after the NICU

I still haven't had the energy to write out Dexter's NICU journey. The thoughts behind this post have been nagging at me and I decided to get them out first.

Nothing can prepare you for an unexpected illness or birth defect in your baby. So many ultrasounds and tests are done throughout most modern pregnancies that it is easy to assume that you would know if something is wrong. I went into a complete state of shock when I found out about Dexter. I didn't cry and sob when they told me that something was wrong. I didn't break down when the transport team brought him to me so I could say goodbye. I shed only a few tears the whole time he was in the NICU. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I was just so shocked that I was numb. Nothing seemed real. My family who was there cried. They were terrified, and upset. I watched them and I wanted to cry too. I knew I should be scared. But I also knew that if I released, if I allowed myself to feel everything, that I would be of no use to Dexter. I had to stay focused so that I could comprehend and pay attention to every detail the doctors told me. I had to be strong for him. The only way I could do that was to shut out my feelings. So I did.

When you first go in to the NICU at Akron Children's you get a lot of papers and information. One of the papers you get is "how you may be feeling." It talks about the fear, uncertainty, guilt, anger etc. that parents of NICU babies often feel. I remember reading over it and wondering why I didn't feel any of those things. Was that normal?

So fast forward to 3 weeks after Dexter was born. I got to bring him home. I slowly adjusted to the idea that this little boy really was my son. I have TWO kids!? The shock started to wear off, slowly. I started to bond with him and connect with him more. And then is when MY journey really began. All those feelings I should have had while he was sick started to creep up on me. Just little things at first. He would smile at me and I would realize, "I almost lost him." I would read about friends on facebook having babies and I would get jealous. Why did they get a healthy baby and I didn't? They got all the newborn snuggles, and the bonding time. Dexter and I did not. We missed out on the first 3 weeks of "normal" mother/son bonding. I got angry. Why my baby? What if that missed time changes our bond?

I felt guilt for a long time after Calvin was born. He was a c-section delivery and I had complications. I missed out on having him put on my chest when he was born. I missed out on the peaceful bonding time those first few days because I was so sick. So when Dexter was born and I got my VBAC I was so excited. I got to have him put directly on me when he was born. I got to snuggle with him and start the bonding process I had imagined. But then he wouldn't nurse, and he started puking, and 12 hours after he was born he was on his way for x-rays and tests. I was so close to the experience I wanted and it was snatched away. I was so angry...I AM so angry. What did I do to deserve this? What did he do to deserve it? Nothing.

Then there's the guilt. Was it something I did, or didn't do, that caused this? I'm overweight, I don't eat the healthiest, I forgot most of the time to take my prenatal vitamins. Did my body fail him? Is this my fault? The doctors all say it isn't. That these things just happen. Doesn't stop the feelings from coming. I'm his mommy. I'm supposed to protect him, and I couldn't. I couldn't do anything besides pump milk for him and sit by his bedside.

I think the worst feeling of all is the fear. Now that it is all over I think about all the things that could have happened and I get scared. I feel sick. Every time he spits up I worry. Every time he doesn't have a bowel movement for a couple of days I worry. I laid awake so many nights listening to his breathing, afraid he would stop again. I bought a snuza monitor because I was losing sleep. I worry about him malrotating again. I worry about other things that "could" be wrong that we can't see. I have flashbacks remembering the puking, the goodbyes, the tubes. I remember the phone call I got that he had stopped breathing several times and they were going to intubate him. And now I can finally cry. I have anxiety attacks, and insomnia sometimes.

I am not writing this post for sympathy. I have battled with myself over whether to write it at all. I don't want to sound like I'm "attention seeking." That's how I fear this will come out sounding. I am writing this post because I want other parents who have been through the NICU or other similar experiences with their kids to know that they are not alone. That just because your baby is home and doing well now, doesn't mean that you won't still have these feelings. People say to move on, and that it is over now. Well meaning people will tell you to not dwell on it, don't think about it, it is in the past. It's not so easy. I think it is comparable to grieving. Everyone handles it in their own way. For some people it takes longer to move on. Whether your baby is still sick, or he/she is home and you are still processing. Wherever you are in the journey, you are not alone.

Dexter is happy and healthy. He is ok now. I'm not there yet, but I will be.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dexter's birth story

Three months later and I am finally sitting down to write this.

I found out I was pregnant on 1/25/12. It seemed like too good to be true. We had been trying for almost a year. I was really early and I was scared that it wasn't true. Finally went to the clinic on 1/30 and it was confirmed! I was going to be a mommy again!

I was desperate to know the baby's sex so I went to a place in Columbus and paid for an early gender scan. On 4/11/12 I found out it was another BOY! I was so surprised and excited. I was sure I was having a girl. John and I decided his name would be Dexter.

After a lot of searching I had found a doctor who would allow me to try a VBAC. I wasn't a fan of his bedside manner, which was horrible, but I was willing to deal with anything to get my vbac. At my 36 week appointment I was already dilated to a three. He told me to let him know if I started having a lot of contractions. On 9/18 I went in for my weekly appointment. I was going to be 38 weeks on Thursday. Just as the doctor was about to leave the room he said "so Sept 30th right?" I stared at him for a moment "huh?" He told me he thought he had scheduled my induction for the 30th. When I shook my head he had his nurses call Aultman and schedule it. I was in shock. Induction? For a VBAC!? WHAT!? I was so shocked I didn't know what to do or say. It was all over the websites and information I had read, NEVER induce for a VBAC! I was terrified. I asked my T&C girls for their advice. Everyone was as shocked as I was. I had no idea what I was going to do, and I only had 12 days to decide. That night I had contractions all night that kept waking me up. The next day, Wednesday I was contracting all day. They were pretty consistent all day long and I was having bloody show. I texted my sister Debbie and kept her updated. Finally when John got home and the contractions were still coming Debbie called me. She told me to get my bag because she was coming to take me to get checked out. I didn't want to go. I was convinced it was false labor, or braxton hicks. I didn't go into labor on my own with Calvin, I was sure I couldn't be in labor at 38 weeks! I called my OB to let him know I was going in.

We arrived at Aultman at about 6pm. I told them I was having contractions, so they took me into a room and hooked me up to a monitor. They asked me all the usual questions about previous births etc. I was hooked up to the machine for around an hour when a doctor came in to check to see if I was dilated. He checked me and looked surprised. He said I was at a 5 and my water was bulging. He said "I will go get ready and we will take you back." For some reason that wording confused me. I blurted out "I'm doing a vbac." He looked surprised and said "Oh, hold on I will go call your doctor" He left the room for a few minutes. When he came back he told me that my doctor was on his way and that they were going to move me to a room. I was so shocked, and excited! My baby was coming, and I didn't have to be induced!

I got into a room around 8pm. I gave my L&D nurse my birth plan. She read it over and talked to me about each thing. She said we would need to go over it with my doctor. When the doctor arrived around 8:30 he went over my birth plan. I wanted as few interventions as possible. No pitocin, no breaking my water etc. He said "we aren't doing this without pitocin. I have a meeting in the morning, I'm not staying here all night." He told me if I didn't agree to the pitocin and breaking my water that he would leave. He said "good luck finding someone that will do a vbac, I have a 99.9% success rate." He chewed me out. He told me I was blind-siding him with a birth plan, and setting up "road blocks" for him. When he left the room he told me he would be in at 11 to break my water. I was so upset, but I was determined I could do this despite him being an ass.

6:45 I was 6cm and -1 station. Eating a popsicle
10:30 they came in and set up the table to break my water

The doctor broke my water, which was extremely painful. Contractions immediately picked up and became very painful. He had a medical student try to insert an internal monitor. She tried for a long time, causing a lot of severe pain. Another doctor took over and inserted the internal monitor. By this time I was crying in pain, and asked for an epidural. I cried for quite awhile until they finally came in to do the epi. I got the epi, and my blood pressure immediately crashed. The nurse gave me meds to bring my blood pressure back up.

12:45 at 8cm, had an epi but still in pain

I started pushing at around 1:30 am. Dexter was born at 2:14am on 9/20/12!

He was put on my chest immediately. I cried and cried as did Mommaw and Debbie. I just held him for a long time. A nurse came in and weighed and measured him. She did most of his evals while he was still on my chest. He was 7lb 8oz, 19.5in with apgars of 9 and 9. He got all cleaned up and they put one of my cloth diapers on him.

I tried several times to nurse him but he kept pushing his tongue forward and refusing to eat. He was very content and quiet. I assumed he was just sleepy or laid back. I had several nurses and lactation consultants try to help. They tried every trick they could think of but he still wasn't nursing. I put him in his bed and laid down to get a little sleep. Around 10am I woke up to him making a choking noise. He was puking up foamy fluid, and A LOT of it. I scooped him up and turned him over and yelled at my sister to get a nurse. He soaked his bed, his blankets, my bed, and my gown. Debbie ran out into the hall yelling for a nurse. They all laughed at her. They told her it was normal. A nurse came in and I showed her how he had soaked everything. She said that happens a lot with quick deliveries they can have a lot of fluid built up. She said that once it all cleared out he would probably want to eat. She said to go ahead and try to nurse him because he may eat after getting rid of some of the excess fluid. I tried again to nurse him. Again, he refused to eat. By this point he was 8 hours old and still had not had a bowel movement.

A lactation consultant came in and I told her everything that was going on. She saw one of the blankets Dexter had vomited on and told me to leave it out and she was going to send the on-call pediatrician in to look at it.

I waited for awhile and the doctor hadn't come. So I asked my sister to turn the lights down a bit. I put a pillow under my arm and cradled Dexter. I wanted to try to get a little sleep, I had been awake for about 24 hours. The on-call pediatrician came in. He turned the lights on and saw that I was holding Dexter while I napped. He snapped at me "Do not hold him while you sleep." He picked up Dexter's blanket that was covered in green vomit, barely looked at it, and said "this is normal." Then he looked at me and angrily said "put him in the crib" and stormed out of the room. I was too scared to put him down, I ignored him, and cradled my baby.

We had a couple visitors. Sarah and Greg came, and a friend of Debbie's from work, Mai.

The rest of the day I kept trying to nurse him, he continued to refuse and to vomit. The vomit looked like meconium, he still hadn't had a bowel movement. I told every nurse I saw, every doctor, every lactation consultant. When he still wouldn't eat a lactation consultant brought me a pump. She told me to go ahead and pump to make sure my supply would come in. I got about 10ml of colostrum. They told me to try to feed it to him, but he wouldn't eat. A lactation consultant came in. I told her what was going on. She took Dexter and put the bottle in his mouth. She moved it up and down, and he reluctantly ate. As soon as she was done and he had ate it all he puked all over her. Her whole outfit was covered. She said "this isn't normal, I'm going to go find the doctor." She handed him back to me and assured me that she would find someone right away.

Mommaw and Norm were on their way to the hospital with Calvin by this point and grandma Walter was there.

Around 6:00 they finally came and got him to look him over. They thought maybe he had swallowed meconium, but my water was clear when it was broken. They decided to do an xray. They said his bowels were not sounding the same on one side as the other, which meant they could be twisted. When the xray came back it showed that he had a blockage.

Mommaw, Norm and Calvin had arrived just in time for them to come in and tell me that they were going to transport him to Akron Children's and he would need surgery. They brought him in so that we could see him briefly. I held him and let Calvin kiss him, and we told him goodbye. They took him to the nicu to prepare him for transport. We waited for what seemed like forever. Grandma Walter went home, and I promised to call her with news. Mommaw and Norm needed to get Calvin home so we went down to the nicu so they could say goodbye.  When we got to the nicu, Dexter was in an insolette. He had an iv, a drainage tube in his nose, and a heart monitor.

Meeting his brother

After Mommaw and Norm took Calvin home Debbie waited with me for them to let us know if he had been transferred. When the team arrived they put him in a huge transport isolette and wheeled him in to see me. I got to stick my hand in and tell him goodbye. They gave me an info pack from Akron Children's and told me that the doctor would call me when they knew anything. They left, Debbie left, and I waited for news.

I got up every 2 hours to pump that first night. Around 2:15am I got a phone call. They were just getting ready to take him back for surgery. He was exactly 24 hours old. The surgeon said he had a twist in his bowel, called malrotation. He said the best case scenario would be he untwists it and we just watch for reoccurance for the rest of his life. The worst case scenario would be if some of the bowel had died and he would need a bag, and possibly future surgeries. I was numb, and in total shock. I thanked him and hung up. 

Around 4:15 his surgeon called back. He said he had done the Ladd's procedure on Dex. He had been twisted and also had a gap in his bowel. He said both had been fixed and he had lost very minimal bowel. He said Dexter would be in the nicu for a few weeks. He assured me that I could call the nicu any time for updates and that they would call me if anything changed. His official diagnosis was Malrotation and Jejunal Atresia. 

I was discharged the next day and went straight up to the hospital to see him. More posts about our nicu journey to come later. 

Friday, December 7, 2012


Yikes! I can't belive I haven't written since March! Well, I guess that isn't entirely true. I have a few blog posts started that ended up saved as drafts for months. Ah well, such is life with a toddler and a pregnancy/newborn. I hadn't even updated my blog announcing the new pregnancy! So here is a brief overview, in no particular order, of what has been going on in the last almost year.

Found out I was pregnant again in February
In April we found out we were having another boy
Went on family trips to Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Kentucky etc.
Had a falling out with my mom, haven't spoken since
Moved to a new house
Got a van
Sold the car
Had a successful vbac
Went through an almost 3 week NICU stay
Started babysitting a little boy
Calvin potty trained

Calvin talks all the time now. He can say exactly what he is thinking, and he isn't afraid to tell you. He uses words and phrases like "indeed", "preferably not", and "of course" in everyday conversation. He has been an amazing big brother and adores his brother. More to come later on most of our big happenings. Just have to find the time to write.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Good luck with that" Part 1: Cloth Diapers

Note: I wrote all of this months ago before Calvin was potty trained. So everything is present tense but he has been out of diapers for months. 

You've probably heard one of these condescending comments before if you have chosen to parent in a way that is "outside the norm".

"That won't last long"
"Good luck with that"
"I did ____ and my kids are fine"
"Ok, but don't feel bad if it doesn't work out because..."
"Your kid is going to be spoiled"

The list goes on and on. People feel like you are attacking their choices if you make a choice that they didn't. I had many friends, family, and even strangers tell me that cloth diapering wouldn't last, that I "might not be able" to breastfeed, that Calvin would never sleep if I didn't sleep train etc. So, two years later I thought I would post an update. A "so how's that going for ya?" kind of thing.

Cloth Diapering
People are full of opinions about this topic. How it's gross, takes so much time, is so much harder, sends your  water bill up etc.
I started part time cloth when Calvin was 4 months old. By the time he was 6 months we were using cloth 90% of the time. Around 11 months old we went to cloth full time. The only bad thing I have to say about cloth, is that I wish I had started sooner!
The realities for me have been:

  • I've saved tons of money
  • I never have to rush out to the store because I'm out of diapers
  • Washing doesn't add much extra laundry. Maybe 2-3 loads a week
  • They're CUTE ;)
  • NO blowouts. Really! I don't have to worry about him having those massive poo explosions all over his clothes. We have had a couple of small leaks (like little wet spots on his pants) if I forget to change him, or if his diaper shifts but never anything massive like we had in disposables.
  • It's not that gross. The reality of being a parent is you have to sometimes deal with poop, pee, vomit, snot, and all those other fun things. It comes along with having a baby. Yes, I sometimes have to deal with a really stinky diaper. But if you are picturing me with my arms in the toilet, covered in poop you totally have the wrong idea. Most of the time (I'd say 90%) when I have to clean a poopy diaper, it just falls out into the toilet and I flush it. No mess, no big deal. And I don't have to worry about taking those rancid diapers outside so they don't stink up the house :)
  • My water bill hasn't changed. 
So, cloth has worked wonderfully for us. It isn't for everyone perhaps, but I CAN and I DID stick with it, and I'm so glad I did! All future babies will be full time cloth, from birth!

Friday, March 16, 2012

My baby is two!

Veteran parents always tell the first timers "they grow up fast". I know I heard it all the time, and frankly got a bit tired of hearing it. I thought to myself "yea, I know I know". Really, I didn't know! I had no idea that "fast" meant warp speed! Where the heck did I get a two year old? When did that happen? Maybe someone is playing a cruel joke...But really, I can't believe it has been two years.

So, here's some updates on our lives. And most importantly, on Calvin.

New Words/Phrases:
Way too many to list everything but I'll list some that come to mind.

__ o'clock
leap pad
excuse me
green juice
blues clues
dragon tales
blue eyes

He can also make lots of 3-5 word sentences.

when someone is upset he rubs their cheek with his hand
offers hugs and kisses often
washes himself in the bath
helps dress and undress himself
asks to go "night night" when he is tired
shares toys
Identifies red, blue, green, yellow, black, brown, orange and pink

Favorite foods: pizza, grapes, strawberries, green juice, cheese, pancakes

Favorite color: green? blue? I think he likes them all :)

Favorite toys: dinosaurs, animals, trains

Favorite shows: dinosaur train, blues clues, dragon tales, Bob the Builder

We had a great little family vacation for his 2nd birthday celebration. We took him to Independence, Ohio where we rode a train to Akron, boarded a trolley and went to the Akron zoo. Calvin had a blast, and so did John and I. Then he had his birthday party at the Moose. We had a good turn out and Calvin had fun playing with all his little guests.

It has been getting very nice outside so we've had the chance to get Calvin out to play much more often lately. He is loving it!
Eating his cake at our mini party

Feeding the goats
Checking out the fountain at the hotel

Here comes the train!

Birthday cake
Cal and his dino buddy


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Calvin's 2nd Christmas

This is a little late. But better late than never :). Calvin had an awesome 2nd Christmas! He loved opening all of his gifts, and 'helping' everyone else open theirs. He got excited about everything he opened, even the clothes. It was adorable.

Some of his gifts:

Mommy and Daddy- Play kitchen, Melissa and Doug wooden train, Thomas trains, Thomas bath stuff, angry birds balls, crayons, coloring books, travel easel, marble run, remote controlled thomas

Mommaw- chipped in on the play kitchen, clothes, movies, thomas trains, workbench, cars

Pappy- train table

Grandma Lewis- Ride on thomas, aqua mat, clothes, shoes

Aunt Debbie- animals, movies, trains

Nanna and Chase- leappad, penbo, ty beany boo elephant, clothes, dinosaurs

Dee and kids- Melissa and Doug easel with accessories

Aunt Diane- Melissa and Doug pizza set

Grandma Bargar- leapfrog car

Grandma Walter- wooden blocks

I'm sure I forgot some things on the list. We are so lucky to have such great family :). Calvin has loved all of his gifts. He plays with his easel the most. Every day he makes at least 3 or 4 pictures. His play kitchen doesn't get as much use as we thought it would, but I'm sure he will play with it plenty as time goes on.