Sunday, March 29, 2009

3.29.09 Visit

Today we had one of our first scares with Christian... Michelle and I were witness to his heart rate dropping very low. though we have heard of these instances happening with him (very few and far between), it was the first time we actually saw them manually pumping air into his lungs and suctioning fluid out of him. That being said, we had the most awesome nurse ever today. She explained that when they suction fluid that has pooled in his mouth, they essentially "take his breath away" (her words, I'm definitely NOT trying to be funny here) when they remove it, which is why he had an episode. the fluid also tends to loosen when he is being moved into another position, which is why he needed suction from his mouth in the first place. It was really scary, and we both got very anxious and panicky, but all is well. The nurses were very cool about it and knew exactly what to do.

Otherwise, Christian is doing great! They increased his feedings from 1.2 mL to 1.5 mL today, which means he is continuing to take the breast milk well. Our second freezer is officially full to the brim with our supply of breast milk, so if anyone has any ideas about how to sell the stuff on ebay or something, we're all ears. Michelle is pumping away in very large volumes...

Our baby boy's vitals are all great. He has a little bit of irritation on his left arm where the PIC line was inserted, but we think it is just from all of the moving around that he does. He is a very active little guy.

My focus right now is on Michelle and trying to get her comfortable. If we aren't in good health, we aren't going to be able to be there for our baby. She is trying to do too much and is stubborn and it's all the reasons I fell in love with her in the first place, but she needs to rest somehow. Our nurse gave us a good scolding today, so we'll see if that helps =) I empathize with her too much and I can't tell her no when she wants to see the baby..... truth is, I want to go just as much as she does. I'm not a strong authority figure in that regard.

On a side note, I had a heck of a time playing "balloon" with Corinne tonight. She is such a bright light in my life. Her laugh and her smiles and hugs and kisses....... It's incredible. It was fun giving her a bubble bath tonight- I haven't done that in a while. She was even my little laundry helper and worked with me to clean her room tonight.. she's so sweet. It's fun being a dad =)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

3-28-09 Visit

Today was another great un-eventful day for Christian. Which is exactly what we want. We got there and the nurse imformed us that he had pooped so much that she had to change his blankets out. Ha Ha. We were very happy to hear that. We also changed his diaper again and his feedings went up to 1.3 every hour. His eyes are almost opened now! When he raises his eyebrows, you can see that his eyelids are slighty opening and his beautiful eyelashes are sprouting! He is so adorable! He was definately giving the nurses a hard time by pulling and tugging at his wires so much that he pulled his leeds off. He also drools alot and sucks on his fingers. He is developing so well.

Friday, March 27, 2009

3.27.09 Visit

Let me start off by saying that our little boy has an absolute iron grip when he gets a hold of our fingers.... It's amazing to think that someone so little can grab you so strongly, though he has had a strong hold on our hearts from the moment he was born =) Today was an uneventful day for Christian, which in our world is a good day. We'd like many more uneventful days, please! The PIC line was successfully implanted yesterday and the IVs running from his belly button were successfully removed today. It was so nice to sit with him and just watch him and touch him and relax today..... Michelle and I sat with him for hours just enjoying his company and laughing and smiling. Just being with him makes any feelings of anxiety completely melt away.

Michelle is pumping milk like a factory... it's crazy! She filled up 3 full bottles in one sitting today! I swear we are overachievers... even the nurses did a double take when they saw the bottles. They must think we are watering them down or something. Poor Michelle is walking around with massively full breasts right now... it's really quite amazing to think that her body started producing milk at 19 weeks- it's as if God began preparing her body early knowing Christian was coming at 24 weeks...

Today marks 26 weeks for Christian- our little boy is doing very well! He is a little wiggle worm- he can push his butt and his torso up in the air with his strong little legs! mommy threw me a bone today and let me change him- I'm becoming much more comfortable with how tiny he is and the fact that he isn't as delicate as he appears to be. I felt like I was walking on pins and needles the first few days, but a comfort level has now developed. I also feel like I am bonding more strongly with him now. It is different for a father and a mother and it has taken me a bit longer than Michelle, who had an instant connection with Christian. As fathers, we often feel like we are standing on the sidelines watching the game. However, when we get an opportunity to be involved in the diaper changing, the feeding, the cuddling, etc. it makes huge impacts on the bond that we share with our newborn children. I feel like I mentally wrestle with Michelle all the time for dibs on changing diapers (sick, huh? That's our relationship, folks), but in the end it's because we both love him so much. I think today it finally sunk in completely that this is MY baby... It's such an incredible and proud moment for a father to feel. That's my little boy and I'm so proud of him...

I'm looking forward to seeing my little lucky charm this weekend and bringing him his freshly-washed stuffed monkey and stuffed monster. We decided on monkeys & monsters many months ago as our nursery theme. I love this baby stuff........ It's so much fun!!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

3.26.09 Visit

My little pumpkin is developing so well! Michelle and I spent some time researching preemie babies on last night and we came across a ton of great information. We found that developmentally, christian seems to be exhibiting the behavior and mannerisms of a preemie at 27-28 weeks in gestational age. He will be at 26 weeks tomorrow. This was a very comforting thing to read, as Christian has been audibly crying at times for us, he has spontaneous movement with his arms and legs (lots of it!) and he has an iron grasp on our fingers. I take all of the credit for each of these traits, though I'm sure Michelle with argue that with me.

We found out today that Christian has had his feeding volume increased to 1.0 mL of breast milk per hour, which means that he is taking to mommy's breast milk extremely well. According to the formulas the doctors utilize, he is currently receiving about 25% of his maximum nutrition for his age via the breast milk, and about 75% intravenously. He is moving along very, very well thus far.

Today also marked the day that the doctors were going to remove the IVs attached to his belly button. Michelle and I spent about 30 minutes or so chatting with the team about potential options. We were told that the belly button IV he currently has is only meant to last about 1-2 weeks after he is born. Beyond that period, he will need a new IV to be inserted elsewhere to encourage abdominal healing and to decrease the risk of infection. Every time his skin is broken with a needle he is prone to infection, so a minimal amount of poking is optimal. I tend to adopt this credo myself. I once fainted at ten years old when faced with a simple menangitis shot in Kuwait...... but that is another story for another day, and is neither here nor there. Anyway, back to topic- the doctors were attempting to replace Christian's IV with something called a PIC line, which is a plastic piece attached to a very thin, spaghetti-like wire that would transfer nutrients directly into his major artery. A successful implantation of this PIC line would mean that he will only need to have the IV changed this one time if all goes according to plan in the future.

Our little boy did such a wonderful job with the procedure!! They sedated him to eliminate most of the pain, and they were able to successfully implant the PIC line on the first attempt. Christian is now able to receive better nutrition from here forward. Mommy and I are extremely proud of him... he is such an incredible little boy.

Also, his eyes are beginning to open! We can see the eyebrows forming now. We can also see more hair developing on the top of his head (dark brown like mine). Well, mommy has dark hair too, but I'll claim the genetics. His eyes appear to be half-fused and half open, so we'll see how long it takes to see those beautiful little brown eyes of his (also going to be mine). I'm predicting this will happen in less than a week.

I told all of my clients about Christian today and sent them multiple pictures. The outpouring of support we have been receiving is phenomenal, and we are so thankful for it. It really helps to lift us up especially on those difficult days.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

20 mil a day now!!

Christian is up to 20 ml a day now! It was very exciting to see him today. He looked like a little tree frog the way they had him laying on his belly! They had a blanket folded long ways rolled up underneath him and his feet and arms were laying off to each side. I laughed he looked so cute! We also were informed that they were going to put a new tube in him (i forgot the medical term it was called) but it is a more permanent IV. We got a chance to talk with Carsten, a nurse, and he took the time to answer all of our questions. Lee, Christian's nurse mostly during the week let me change his diaper. It was so exciting, for this was my second time and I wasn't half as nervous. He had a good amount of stool and urine. So I was excited to wipe him. The rest of the time we would hold hands and Jason read him a devotional passage. Not that he understands what we are reading him anyway;) His oxygen was at 28, which was really good and his billy ruben is at 3.0. We are praying for his health every day. We have faith that God will bring Christian all the way through this safely. We praise His mighty work. And we rely on him for everything. So once again, we Thank God for the wonderful day He gave us to have with Christian and many more to come!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back on Respirator

Well, last night, when we called to check on Christian they had told us they put him back on his respirator. I was a bit saddened but I know he is still really young and small. They told us the reason for them doing this was because his heartrate kept dipping and he would forget to breathe. He was back on the UV lamp too. His belly ruben is 2.9. Which is still really good anyway. He looked so cute today!!!! Yesterday when his respirator out, I heard him cry for the first time!!! It was so amazing!!! Jason didnt get to hear because he was washing his hands in the front:(
He is starting to blossom some nipples! Yay!!!
Im also starting to feel alot better too. My scar is healing very well. I walked alot today, well in my opinion anyway, ha ha. Now Im a bit sore, so Im just going to lay down for the rest of the night.
God is SO GOOD! I thank Him for ALL his has given us and without Him there would be chaos.

Monday, March 23, 2009

03.22.09 Visit

Christian received a new blanket today- it had duckies on it! Soo cute! We got to see him right around 1:00pm. Corinne came with us today, and did a great job being patient while mommy and daddy spent time with Christian. She made him a special present and delivered a four-leaf clover to him that she had found in our backyard. We delivered his monkey and two of his blankets to try to create a less "clinical" feeling in his incubator.

Today was a monumental day for us in terms of Christian's progress; the doctors were planning to take out his respirator to see if he can survive breathing on his own. The doctors told us that there is a chance that they may need to re-insert the tube if he cannot sustain his own breathing, but we know our little boy is a fighter and will do everything he can to breathe all on his own. It is incredible to think that this little one is capable of something so "grown up" already. We were most fearful about his lung development when we thought Michelle was going to deliver early, and this would put many of those concerns to rest. He has been undergoing caffeine treatments to stimulate his senses. The doctors tell us that he has been doing most of the breathing on his own since the day he was born and that the respirator has been running on its lowest setting. Christian has been breathing about 40 of his own breaths to about 12 of the machine.

Our friend Sarah came to visit us at the hospital with her husband, Bobby, and her two children, Trey and Elizabeth! Her children are adorable!!! She brought us a wonderful gift and she has been an excellent source of support and a great friend through this process. We really look forward to spending time with her and her family once things settle down for us. Michelle knows Sarah from the time they spent together in Kuwait in high school.

We checked on christian at about 8:30pm and he is still breathing on his own without the respirator. The procedure was a success! We had a chance to see him right after it had been performed and it was incredible to see him breathing all on his own. He is growing so much already! We can really start to see his facial features becoming more defined. He is such a strong little guy and our testament to God's miracles. We are so happy that he is doing well and we will see him again tomorrow.

03.23.09 Visit

We went to visit Christian at the hospital today around 2:00pm. Michelle was feeling really dizzy and went to go see her OB first. He is always really great about seeing us right away. He examined Michelle and found nothing to be out of the ordinary, but prescribed some medicine to hopefully help with her condition. We also spent some time speaking with the billing department at the hospital in regards to paying for Michelle's delivery. Got to love insurance companies and their lack of maternity coverage.

Christian is still continuing to breathe on his own while being off the respirator. The nurse told us today that he had a few episodes between yesterday and today in which he stopped breathing for a short while. She said that the little ones are prone to doing this, as they sometimes forget to breathe. He actually had an episode where his heart rate dipped very low and he had stopped breathing right at the moment we came in to see him, and obviously we were in a panic. However, the nurse calmed us down, thankfully, and explained the situation to us. She also told us that he is pooping regularly and is doing very well otherwise. Today is the first day that we saw him laying on his stomach- he was soooo cute! The nurses put his little monkey in the incubator with him and his new green "Lucky" blanket on top of the incubator. It's so hard to say goodbye to him at 6:00pm when the nurses are changing shifts. We never want to leave our little guy.

We really like our nurse, Lee. Though the nurses rotate, we have a few that we really like that take care of Christian more often. Everyone there is really sweet. Christian is doing very well and there is talk of removing a few of his IVs and increasing his feeding frequency if he continues to take well to all of the treatment. They say it is a miracle that at his weight and maturity level that he has breathing on his own for this long without the respirator. We continue to pray for him and love every moment we get to be with him. We will see him again tomorrow.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Questioning Our OB/GYN

At 9 weeks, Michelle and I have a scheduled visit with our OB/GYN in downtown San Francisco. We had met with him previously and felt comfortable with him, though he was a new doctor for Michelle. We discussed Michelle's hemorrhage and he seemed to be very nonchalant about it. He told us that these things have a tendency to take care of themselves and that the body will either bleed it out or re-absorb it. We discussed our plans to travel over the next few months between San Francisco and New Orleans to see Michelle's family and he had no problem with it. He simply told Michelle to take it easy and try to not do too much. He put her on modified bed rest.

Over the Christmas holidays, Michelle decided to get a second opinion from her OB in New Orleans- the doctor who had delivered our first daughter, Corinne. Something instinctual told her to do so even though we had a scheduled appointment less than a week later. Her OB would later tell her that the subchorionic hemorrhage was one of the largest he had ever come across in his. He would consult with his colleagues. He put Michelle on restricted bed rest and told her that she should under NO circumstances travel on an airplane. This really upset us, considering our OB in San Francisco had been so nonchalant about the issue. We ultimately decided that it would be better for Michelle to remain in New Orleans with her family where she could be taken care of and watched over 24/7 as opposed to being left alone during the day in a new place. I would travel from San Francisco to New Orleans every 2 weeks to visit. It was hell being away from my family.

The Second Trip to the ER

Our first trip to the ER was on a Thursday evening. That following Sunday, Michelle again began gushing blood. We made our second trip to the ER that evening. Again, Michelle was diagnosed with a threatened miscarriage. Our baby's heart tones were stronger than before at 155 bpm, and the ultrasound again revealed a strong baby. However, the subchorionic hemorrhage looked to be a reality that would follow us through to the end of the pregnancy. Michelle and I are hesitant to announce news of the pregnancy because of our fears; we want to make it to the second trimester first. At this point, we are only 7 weeks into the pregnancy.

The First Trip to the ER

Michelle and I had been planning to move out of downtown San Francisco and into a more suburban, family-oriented neighborhood for a few months. Now that we had a baby on the way, we had more of a sense of urgency to leave our beautiful apartment in the city for something more practical. Plus, it wasn't fair to my six-year-old daughter, as she was living right smack in the middle of a concrete jungle. She's got way too much energy that we need to get out before bed time.

We found a beautiful place in Dublin, about 35 miles east of San Francisco. From the moment we toured the property, it was a no-brainer. The apartment was twice the size, updated, and $1,000 less than what we were paying in the city. I would no longer be able to walk to my office every day, but the hour-long commute would be a nice relief and a great way to relax and unwind on the way home from work. We signed the contracts that day and began our moving plans.

Michelle and I decided to move into our new home over Thanksgiving weekend, when I would have a full four days to get everything all squared away. We had made some plans to have help on moving day, but those unfortunately fell through. Since Michelle was pregnant, I became a one-man moving show. After 8 hours of loading and another 5 hours unloading the next moring, we were in! And I had a heck of a back ache.

With ourselves somewhat situated, Michelle and I began to prepare our first Thanksgiving dinner together. As the resident chef of the house, I delegated some of the more "helpful" tasks to Michelle. As she was peeling potatoes at about 5:00pm, our worst nightmare began. She began gushing blood down her legs, and we thought for sure that we were having a miscarriage. in tears, we called the OB from our bathroom, and he told us to go immediately to the ER. Having just moved to this area a day prior, we had no idea where the nearest hospitals were. Thankfully, the navigation system in the car gets us to one in nearby Pleasanton only 1.5 miles away.

The doctors diagnose Michelle with a threatened miscarriage. We find out that she has a subchorionic hemorrhage, which is a mass of blood developed between the placenta and the uterus. This mass of blood can be potentially life-threatening to the baby. However, our baby's heart tones are strong at 145 bpm, and the ultrasound reveals the strong heartbeat. It is an extremely emotional and difficult night, but we go home hopeful and thankful. Thanksgiving will never be the same from here after.

The Beginning of the Story

Michelle and I conceived Christian back in late September 2008. We still argue over where he was conceived- and when- but that is neither here nor there. We were ecstatic when we found out that we were going to have a baby. It was Halloween night, and Corinne (our daughter) had already gone around trick-or-treating at my clients' offices throughout the afternoon and early evening. We decided to call it an early evening and retire to our apartment in the city, as it had had been drizzling most of the day. For the the few days prior, Michelle had been having symptoms that made me wonder..... "Is she pregnant?" One day it was vomiting and nausea, the next day it was dizzy spells and sleepiness, the next day it was an uncharacteristic short temper... I mean, i know I'm a man an mostly deserving of criticism, but this was out of the ordinary. finally, it was the cravings. Anything and everything that had to do with tomatoes. Tomato sauce, tomato soup, spaghetti, lasagna, grape tomatoes... you can make just about anything with tomatoes. She reminded me of a particular Oscar-winning movie that I'm fond of.

That evening, I told her, "Michelle, i think you're pregnant," knowing full well that I may incur her wrath for even suggesting it. Thankfully, i got a pass for it. So, I headed down 4 blocks to the Walgreens to pick up a pregnancy test. What a mess I was- I had no clue what I was looking for. this was an entirely new experience for me. All that I knew was that I didn't want to use a test that I had to interpret... Is it pink or blue? Positive or negative? Did we do it right? Etc. I followed my instincts and went straight for the ridiculously overpriced, patented, super-goomer pregnancy test. It tells one either "yes" or "no." No annoying little lines or colors to interpret. Perfect. As i head up to the counter triumphant in my safari, the 60-something year old gentleman working the cash register tells me, "Well, there's one thing I can tell you for sure. You're definitely NOT pregnant." Thank you, kind sir, for making me feel even more sheepish than when I walked in. Perfect.

I make my way home, and my wife and I anxiously tear open the box and read the instructions. She's impressed that I navigated the taboo aisle of feminine products so fluidly. Without getting down to the nitty gritty, she takes the test. She, Corinne and i anxiously surround the wand as if it's a ticking time bomb ready to explode. After 5 minutes we have the results and......... Corinne begins running around the house screaming in joy! Jumping up and down! Michelle and I are much more subdued and possible in shock, but we embrace as a family and we are excited for the miracle that has begun to grow in her body. This day will inevitably change both of our lives forever. This is the beginning.