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Saying Goodbye to the NICU!

We are so very excited to be home before Christmas. If you had asked me just last week when I thought we were going home I would have told you it would probable be in early 2015. Well, our son turned a corner and made some rapid progress learning how to eat. We are going home with a feeding tube that goes from his nose to his stomach, but he only uses it at night– and if his progress keeps up we won’t even need that much longer! We are so excited.

I put together some small gift bags for the NICU. When I thought I was going to have the ‘normal’ pregnancy and childbirth experience I had planned on making thank-you bags for my labor and delivery nurses. I never got a chance to do that — though I did send a thank you card to one nurse in particular who was absolutely amazing, and who I will remember for the rest of my life. I wanted to do something to thank the wonderful staff at our NICU for their work. After spending 8 weeks in the NICU we made so many connections and friendships that it feels wrong to just part ways without expressing how much what they did meant to us.

I wanted to find some cute treat bags, but the holiday section at Target was demolished– So we settled for holiday zip-lock bags. When I was thinking about want to put into the bags I wanted to put things they could use: gum, chapstick, etc– Things I had thought of putting into my labor and delivery thank you bags. However, I was planning on making 40+ bags, and those things would get too pricy. So I opted for some others: Chocolate, hard candy, chewy candy, mints, and K-Cups. We heard countless times how the NICU had recently purchased a keurig coffee machine for the break room, but they did not supply the coffee, so the k-cups was our favorite part of the gift bags.

We grabbed a picture with our primary dayshift nurse, passed off the gift bags— and on December 21st walked out of the NICU with our son. I only took 200 pictures from the time we left the NICU until we got home. haha.

We’ve been home for 60 hours and so much has happen that it deserves it own post, but for now I’ll stop here. We’re home!

 

 

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Christmas tree!

My husband and I have been staying in central KY (about 90 miles away from home), for the last two months. We had not been home since my water broke in October. Thankfully our mothers have been taking care of our house and our fur children so we could devote all of our time to our baby boy (who is doing wonderfully, just in case you were wondering). However we had to go home for a few days to take care of some things that only we could do– a very hard thing to do because it meant not seeing our baby for 48hours, but it was a necessary trip.

We made good use of those house while we were home. While my hubby was taking care of insurance and tax documents on his computer— I was getting our house ready for Christmas! Even if our son isn’t home for ‘christmas’– We’re doing Christmas when he comes home! Christmas in July? Sounds like fun to me!

I put up our first full sized tree, wrapped the presents I had ordered during cyber monday, and stocked up on the limited edition gingerbread cookie mix. 😉 When our baby comes home, he’s coming home to to some holiday cheer!

**ALSO! I will be doing a ‘house tour’ very soon! My amazing mother in law has decorated our house for us, and I can’t wait to show some amazing before and after pictures! Remember how our house used to look?! If you don’t, take a peek here to help your memory!

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Postpartum Recovery

I am on day 39 of my postpartum recovery, and I thought I’d share my experience. Mine will be different then most because my son is still in the NICU. Also, as a warning: Some of this might be TMI!

Immediately postpartum I felt fine. My chief complaints were back pain and exhaustion. The back pain was from the epidural, which is not something I was expecting– though it obviously makes sense. The exhaustion was from a myriad of things. The night before induction I could not sleep, and then my labor progressed quickly for a primigravida not allowing any rest even after the epidural. I also was dealing with processing all of the emotions of finding out my son had EA/TEF and having him shipped off to another hospital, along with trying to develop a breast milk supply by pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock. So when I was discharged from the hospital 18 hours after our baby boy was born the doctor warned me that this ‘fine’ feeling would pass as she believed I was running off of adrenaline. She made my husband promise to keep an eye on me.

Physically: 

Physically I needed to take 600-800mg ibuprofen every 6 hours around the clock for the first 3-4 days, and didn’t I felt it. My back stopped hurting by this point, and I hated how the ibuprofen gave me a stomachache!

My ‘nether’ region was not as sore as I expected it to be– Sure my stitches itched and burned a little, but using my peribottle and dermoplast every time I used the bathroom was perfect. Until my stitches completely healed (about 3 weeks pp) it felt like I was walking around with a tampon placed incorrectly… Best way to describe it. It was uncomfortable, but not painful.

My bleeding pp honestly surprised me– I was fully prepared for bleed like a stuffed hog for weeks, but I would say that by my 5th-6th day postpartum I didn’t need those giant overnight pads anymore and I switched to always infinity foam regular flow with wings. These things were heavenly! I could hardly feel they were there, and they ‘wicked’ away the moisture and kept me feeling dry. About 2.5-3 weeks pp I was mostly just having discharge and only needed liners.  I still need the liners, but otherwise I’m good.

I was warned about the hemorrhoids and the constipation, but I had no hemorrhoids and actually had mild diarrhea immediately pp. So I didn’t take my stool softener…. but on the 4th or 5th day I was in pain. I was so constipated and had stomach pain that felt like someone was stabbing me below the bellybutton. I took stool softeners and suffered through it. Godspeed my friends! Take the stool softener… even if you don’t think you need it!

Breastfeeding:

The lactation consultant informed me that it appeared I had IGT (insufficient glandular tissue), and probably wouldn’t be able to produce a lot of milk. Still, I was going to try! I was loaned a Medela Symphony from the NICU. It is a hospital grade pump made for exclusively pumping and costs close to two-thousand dollars! Luckily the NICU has a free loaner program for mothers to use while their babies are still in the hospital.

I pumped every 2-3 hours for 20 minutes. The NICU had pumping rooms so even when we were with him I could pump. I took 9 fenugreek pills a day, drank 4 cups of mother milk tea, held hot compresses to my chest while I pumped, looked at pictures of him while I pumped… and after 10 days the most I had ever produced was 0.2ml (combined from both breasts), and I was so exhausted– in 10 days I had not had more than an hour and half of uninterrupted sleep.

I was heartbroken and mourned the loss of my breastfeeding dream. I wish someone had told me that there were really women out there who physically couldn’t breastfeed. I was so unprepared for this, and this was one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with. Even now when someone asks me if I’m using formula or breast milk… I feel like I need to make excuses and explain to them why he’s only getting formula.

Emotionally:

My husband and myself were both very concerned that I was developing postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. As an already anxious person, we really didn’t know how much of my pp emotional roller coaster was normal for me. For the first two weeks I was so upset and cried everyday– In the shower, while I was pumping, at his bedside, when I talked to his doctors, when we left to go back to the hotel… It was awful.

Now looking back I think I was just dealing with an extraordinary set of circumstances– We went from having a perfectly healthy baby to a baby with a life altering defect who needed surgery, and then he got sick, and I watched him turn blue in front of me… It was agony. What helped me realize that it wasn’t anything more was… When my son was having a ‘good’ day, I had a good day. When he was having a ‘bad’ day, I had a bad day… And it just turned out that he had a lot of ‘bad’ days in the beginning.

As for the anxiety– I still feel that from time to time. I have a hard time falling asleep because I’m thinking of him; I’m worried his nurse doesn’t know how he likes to be soothed by having someone talk to him, or thinking his resident forget to weight-adjust his medication for his 100gram weight gain, etc. That I think is just me being a mother… We’re supposed to be worried about our babies all the time, right?

Overall:

My postpartum recovery has been a lot easier on me than I thought it would be. The emotional aspect was probably the hardest. My 6 week appointment is tomorrow (technically I’ll just be 5 weeks and 3 days pp), and we’re going to discuss getting and IUD when I’m 8 weeks pp. My husband and I are thinking we’re done having children (thinking of going through this experience again literally makes me sick to my stomach), but we’re young and don’t want to do any permeant methods of birth control incase we change our minds. I’ve handled hormonal birth control well in the past and I think the Mirena IUD will be a good fit for us– I’m 23, don’t smoke, and have no plans to have children in the near future. We considered ParaGard which can last up to 10 years, (Mirena lasts up to 7), but I think we’re leaning to the Mirena. I’ll fill you in on how that goes later.

12.1.14

12.1.14

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In 37 days…

In the first 37 days of motherhood I have felt every emotion from A to Z. In the beginning most days I spent crying, some days I felt no emotion, but now most days I feel so much love and joy it brings me to tears. My baby boy is a month old (and has been for 5 days!), and what a month it has been.

He is still in the NICU and it has been the roller coaster we were warned about– one step forward, one and a half steps back, two steps forward, three steps back, etc. If you want a more ‘detailed’ explanation of what happened with his first month medically click here.

Things we’ve learned about our son:

  • Getting his diaper changed with a cold wipe is probably the worst thing ever. He cries every time!
  • When he’s awake he wants to look around and be nosy, but a sleepy baby loves to cuddle up close to your cheek.
  • When he’s sleeping and we’ve got to wake him up for whatever reason he makes the cutest baby grunt.
  • He smiles so much in his sleep. We’ve tried to catch it with the camera and have only been semi successful!
  • Getting undressed is second to having his diaper changed in the list of things he hates.
  • Apparently the taste of the gas drops is equivalent to the sweet nectar of the gods.
  • When we turn the light off over his bed it startles him and he gets the most hilarious expression. I laugh out loud every time!
  • He has started really enjoying looking at his mobile, mirror, and his black and white zebra toy. He’ll stare at them so intently… you might even sneak a diaper change in while he’s mesmerized and he won’t have a total baby meltdown.
  • He had a very mild touch of torticollis and plagiocephaly, but his wonderful physical therapist showed us some awesome exercises to help, and he’s had a lot of improvement.
  • He loves his infant massage! We give it to him after his bath and when he’s relaxing in our laps.
  • We’ve affectionately named his left thumb with hypo plastic bones… floppy thumb. Every time we dress him we’re half worried we’re gonna rip it off. He doesn’t seem to mind.
  • He has this episodes where he grunts and his whole face will go red for a second or two, and then like a flash he’s back. We call it ‘squid-ing out
  • Hiccups used to scare the crap out of him and he would cry every time they came around, now he get them and he looks ‘unamused’ by them– the only way I can describe it.
  • He loves having his bottom patted, and we think it’s because I constantly patted his butt while he was still hanging out in my uterus.
  • He loves being swaddled, and if he’s upset it’s usually a 2 second fix to calm him down.

It’s been an exciting month! Hopefully when we break free of the NICU I can do better monthly updates. I want to take his picture with his monthly stickers and have a little ‘questionnaire’ to keep track of his milestones. For now this will have to do.