Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thies Farm 2013

It wouldn't be Fall without a trip to Thies Farm.  These kids basically count on it nowadays.  We braved the windy conditions with my mom and baby Henry in tow. 
 It's amazing to visit a place only once and year and see how much more the kids have progressed and grown since then.  Henry could barely make his way along the rope course and this year he had no problem.  
Lizzie was MaMom's trusted sidekick throughout the farm.  She'd never leave her side.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Henry -- One month

Height: 21 1/2 inches -- 50%
Weight: 8lb 11.5 oz -- 25%

Some things about Henry:
  • Loudest eater EVER
  • Super gassy/burpy all the time (I've since gone off all dairy, greens, acidic fruits/vegs)
  • Loves to snuggle and sleep in my bed
  • Looks different everyday
  • Nicknames:  Henrique, Hank, baby, Henny Penny, Mr. Henry (Lizzie)
  • Does NOT like his diaper changed
  • Bath?  Meh
  • Likes to lie on belly

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

While MaMom's in Town

It wouldn't be a visit from MaMom without a trip to the bowling alley.  I don't know what it is with my children and bowling, but they LOVE it!  I mean, on any given weekend when we ask them what they'd like to do, more often than not they will reply with, "Let's go to the bowling center!!!"  Still not sure where the term bowling center came from; nor the obsession with the game, either.  Thankfully, MaMom is always happy to oblige a trip to the lanes.  

Des Peres Park

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Journal 9.20.13

I wrote this on my phone while I was waiting in the triage room (for about six hours now) at Missouri Baptist Hospital.  Little did I know that things would change -- drastically -- just hours later.

Journal 9.20.13

Came to the hospital today around 10:00 am. Been having cramping/contractions since about last Friday. I did NOT want to come to the hospital just to be overly cautious. But after visiting the doctor's office on Wednesday, and already putting off the hospital for another 24 hours, I figured I should come.

Of course, within the first hour of them checking me out, I have one teeny tiny contraction. Cervix not dilated. So they assume they'll want me for another hour or two and I'll be on my way. Dave leaves to get lunch and get some work done. Sure enough, right after he leaves, the contractions come back. Stronger. And stronger. They give me a muscle relaxer shot. Makes me jittery and my heart race. I thought I was going to die if I couldn't get my bra undone! Over time the side effects wear off. Dave gets back. But the contractions are still there. Inconsistent. But not stopping or really letting up.

Concern is that I've had two previous c-sections. Scar tissue not strong. Don't want to risk rupture. Eek!

Here I am almost eight hours later. Dave went to get dinner with the kids. I'm nervous. Confused. Scared, quite honestly. I have no idea what this all means. What's our course of action?

Thankfully, baby boy is still doing acrobats in my tummy. He's been a little rascal and moves EVERYwhere except where the monitor can track his heartbeat.

I'm just nervous. Trying to remember that Heavenly Father knows what's going on. He is in control; I  need to trust that. Faith, not fear.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Winston and Lizzie coming to visit Henry was always a little stressful, but always very meaningful.  Winston would share his cars with Henry.  Lizzie would plaster him in stickers.  They both always wanted to hold him, look at him, poke at him, and take pictures with him.  Lizzie also wanted to put hand sanitizer on about 1,000 times per visit.  She probably single-handedly went through a couple of bottles of that stuff throughout the hospital.  
Visitors would break up the monotony of each day.  Barry and Debbie Koenemann and Gloria stopped by.  Briana Larson came.  Crystalyn and Rob came by, too.  Of course Steve and Sherry were regulars, along with aunt Diane and Kristine Moore.  I am so thankful for all of the people who came to see Henry, but also to support me and Dave and our kids.  We are so, so lucky to have so much support.    
"Mom, will you take a picture of me with the baby?  Did he smile?"

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Photo Series: Life at SLCH

{I think we set that darn pulse-ox foot monitor off ALL the time!}

After several days under the UV lights, Henry (he finally had a name!) was able to get his billirubin under control.  The numbers were still steady, but the number of new blood cells he was having to make in order to compensate for those my blood was attacking in his body was declining.  Good news! We were scheduled to go home on Friday, Sept. 27.  I thought the timing couldn't be any better.  My parents were scheduled to fly home the following day (Saturday), so we would have one day home together.  
That Friday, I spent the morning feeding Henry and getting him ready to go.  I had to watch a series of videos before we could leave, so I watched those and just hung around.  We were waiting until about 1:00 to do his car seat test (2 hours long!) and then we could go home.  Around 11:30 I ordered lunch.  I was in and out of the NICU waiting for my lunch to show up.  It was taking forever!  At one point I went out into the lobby and lunch room to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  When my lunch didn't show up, I went back in to wait by Henry's bedside.  When I returned to the NICU, I came around the corner and saw all of his doctors (probably 4 of them) hovered over Henry.  Dr. Colvin came to me with a concerned look on her face and let me know what was going on.  Henry's alarms had gone off, and when his nurse came to see what was happening, she saw that Henry wasn't breathing.  With a little jostling, he began breathing again on his own.  The nurse notified the doctors of what had happened, and just minutes later he did it again.  Fortunately, many of the doctors were right there and watched it all happen.  Within several seconds, Henry began breathing again on his own.  
As a mom, I think we all feel like our job is to protect and care for our children.  Not only was I concerned and upset by the news of Henry's breathing episodes, but I was so upset by the fact that I wasn't there to protect him.  I wasn't there to care for him when he needed me to be there.  Instead I was out waiting for my lunch!  It's almost embarrassing.  It crushed me.  I felt so selfish and incredibly helpless.  I now knew what it felt like to be completely powerless over this situation.  I know I couldn't have done anything to prevent this from happening.  But I still felt sick about the fact that I wasn't there when it happened, and Henry's recovery and eventual discharge from the hospital wasn't up to me.  
Because of these two apnea episodes, Henry would not be going home that Friday.  Dave and I went home devastated that night.  Winston and Lizzie were so looking forward to having their baby home.  I was, too, as was Dave.  We were crushed. Lots of tears were shed.  
Through all of this, it was easy for me to compare our situation with others' and feel ashamed or ungrateful.  Our baby was strong.  He was robust.  He was growing.  He was eating.  He wasn't sick.  Why should we complain?  Sometimes I wondered why we were even there!  But those feelings of helplessness, the aching heart, the wanting to be home as a family, the search for answers from doctors/nurses/anyone -- those were all real, raw feelings.  I knew that our situation may not have been as severe, but it was still serious.  Our baby was just as important and our feelings were, too.  To this day, those feelings still surface when I see or hear of another baby and family at the NICU.  Those feelings are still fresh, and I appreciate and have greater empathy for those families in that situation.   
{Finally off the lights and happy as a clam all swaddled up.}
{Wearing stickers from Lizzie}
{On oxygen during the sleep study to determine why Henry was having those pesky apnea episodes.}

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Baby boy's change of plans

The pediatrician came into my room and said that when my nurse had wheeled Henry down to the NICU, the nurse who was in the OR when he was delivered saw him and instantly said, "That baby looks orange.  Check his blood type and his billirubin."  Within minutes they were monitoring baby boy's billi and discovered it was not only too high, but it was rising rapidly.  The pediatrician came to tell me that they were monitoring this closely and would keep me posted.  She said they would keep him in the NICU instead of bringing him down for feedings.  This was so they could regulate his blood sugar (which was too low (or too high? I forget), but also to closely monitor the billi.  Basically, I would just pump through the night and he could come back to me in the morning.  A couple of hours later (around 3:00 a.m.), the pediatrician came back in (again, no baby) and said the billi was still rising quickly and it was becoming a more serious situation.  I couldn't do anything to help and all they could do is help him eat, pee and poop and hope the billi would slow down.  Around 4:30 a.m. the pediatrician came back in and said the billi was climbing too rapidly.  Basically, the amount of billirubin a baby can tolerate is dictated by how old the baby is -- in hours.  So a baby who is 4 hours old can tolerate X amount of billirubin.  A baby who is 8 hour old can tolerate a little more billirubin.  Baby boy's billi was climbing rapidly, more than his body was able to tolerate.  Plus, he was able to tolerate even less because of his premature arrival.  The pediatrician told me that they had put St. Louis Children's Hospital on alert.  If the billi continued to climb, he would have to have a total blood transfusion.  The doctor's had determined that baby boy had A+ blood.  I have O+ blood.  Because our blood is incompatible (similar to W's and Lizzie's), my blood cells are basically attacking and killing off his blood cells.  A blood transfusion would clear out all of my "killer" blood and give him new, clean blood.  This procedure is not performed at Missouri Baptist Hospital, so that's why we would have to go down to Children's.  The procedure basically entails two doctors, one who slowly pumps blood in and one who slowly pulls blood out of the baby.  This happens through the umbilical cord (vein and artery).  It is relatively painless for the baby, but it is a slow, tedious process -- a little in, a little out -- which lasts about two hours.  Risks include bad blood or the baby not tolerating the procedure.  But the risk of the billirubin getting too high include brain damage.  
Getting this news in the middle of the night after an already whirlwind day was a little upsetting.  Well, a lot upsetting.  I called Dave and told him he needed to come back to the hospital right away and bring someone with him who could assist in a blessing.  I was wheeled down to the NICU (I was still hooked up and couldn't walk) and saw my little baby boy under his glowing blue light in his little box-bed.  It was heart breaking.  Cue Another meltdown.  The neonatologist walked me through what was happening; they were concerned that if a transfusion would be needed, it would have to happen quickly  Being at the Children's Hospital would ensure that baby boy would be in a place where that could happen. Dave arrived along with his dad and the transport team (dressed in what looked like space suits) arrived minutes later.  They were so kind and sweet.  I was crying my eyes out and one of the guys on the transport team kneeled down next to me and told me they would take really good care of him and he would be fine.  Dave put his hand in the incubator and gave the baby a quick father's blessing.  Dave followed the transport team (in the most enormous, state-of-the-art ambulance you've ever seen) down to Children's, which would soon become his second/third home.  

Later that day (Saturday), Winston and Lizzie came to see me at the hospital.  I hadn't seen them in more than 24 hours.  Poor kids thought I was just headed to the doctor the day before.  Their world had turned upside down, too.  I was so excited to see them.  Dave had been at Children's all morning.  His mom had come to the house during the night and Steve came to MoBap.  Then Steven went to the house and Sherry went down to Children's.  Then Dave went home to relieve Steve, and Dave brought the kids by.  This juggling act was going to become our new normal.  The kids came in and were so excited...and so confused.  They squealed for me, then sort of looked at me funny.  They wanted to know where the baby was.  Lizzie lifted up my gown and asked to see the baby.  Winston was asking where my belly was because the baby wasn't there.  It was a hard sell trying to explain to them that in fact the baby had been born, but was at a different hospital.  Their visit was short (too many buttons to push, cords to pull, and a super sore mama to jump on) with the promise that I would see them again very soon.