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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bright Eyes

Usually when we visit our little man, he's sleeping peacefully. We may get a peep or two of his eyes, but it's not the norm. It's hard work laying around all day...growing!

Of course when we visited tonight and he couldn't keep his eyes open for a bottle (but did manage to drink 35 of 45 mL). When we bundled him up to say goodnight and go home, Mr. Bright Eyes arrived and we just couldn't tear ourselves away.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Today.

So much has happened in a week, hopefully I can post a lengthy update at some point. But for now, I wanted to say thanks again for the prayers, love, and blessings we've received.


This morning I visited Kace for one (of 8) of his daily assessment times. During these assements, the nurses or parents check temperature, change diaper, and feed the baby. When I arrived, a nurse I'd never met greeted me with a big smile and told me what a big boy he was. He drank his whole bottle at his morning feeding (all 40 mL)! He still hasn't finished one for me...


Kace is in a Giraffe bed--lots of fancy things on that bed, but one of the most important is the heater. Preemies don't usually regulate their own temperature yet and need to be kept warm. Kace's heater was off and he was swaddled--Jenn, our nurse today, was trying to see if he could maintain his temp. so he could move to an open air crib. This is one of the things preemies have to do before the can go home.
As I unwrapped him, I noticed he had on clothes--for the first time. He looked like such a big boy, all 5 pounds and 1 ounce of him. I took his temp and it was good, he was staying warm! I changed his diaper and the nurse swaddled him up to get him ready for his bottle. He drank about 20 mL for me from the bottle and had the rest through a feeding tube. He was too tired to finish. The pediatrician seemed to think that if we alternate a bottle feed with a tube feed he may not be exhausted and finish his bottles.

The physical therapist came today to check on his range of motion and his feet. He was cramped in the womb and due to lack of fluid didn't have much room. His feet were pressed together (like praying hands) for quite a while and will need some stretching 3x daily, but this is positional and should correct itself with a little effort on our part.


Russ and I returned to the hospital this evening for another attempt at a bottle feeding. He drank it all, we were so proud! He was still swaddled and maintaining his temp. too!
Sweet Jenny already ordered the open air crib and had it made and ready to go for him feeling very confident that he could do it and was ready for the big jump!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

You Will Be Missed...

This has been difficult, but in the same breath it's been an experience that has changed me. Russ and I have made connections, memories, and formed routines here. There are many aspects I (we)will miss...

*Joanne, the quietly confident night nurse. We were blessed to be here while Joanne worked her magic for part of the year. Now she has returned home to Ghana with her husband and her non-profit (African Mothers Health Initiative) where they need her the most. She is a midwife, nurse, advocate, and a beautiful spirit. Russ and I are looking forward to seeing her and meeting her husband in June!

*Dr. Akin, my OB/GYN who walks in with his Starbucks each morning with a smile. He shoots me straight and calms my fears. Magical qualities in a doctor. Not to mention his smart ass sense of humor. That's what I love most about him. I've enjoyed his morning visits...and if he can't make those, he may pop in for a surprise later in the afternoon or evening. I'm thankful for this "opportunity" to get to know him as a person, not just a doctor. And may God bless his wife!

*Dr. DiStefano, my Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist that was given to me on October 7. She couldn't have been more perfect for us. She's a very intelligent woman, always had answers for all of our questions, and explained what "that" was each time we had a sonogram. She makes time for her patients when they need her and I appreciate that even more knowing that she has 4 children at home. I looked forward to Thursdays, our sonogram days, when she walks in with a warm smile. We were lucky to have her.

*Stephy, our happy, thorough day nurse. Stephy was the first one to realize Russ wasn't a morning person and she's afraid of him in the morning. She's nicknamed him "Starshine!" Stephy is softhearted and great at what she does. She chose the right profession for herself. Stephy has taught me so much about what is going on with me, baby, etc. I know how to read a strip, what it should and shouldn't look like. I appreciate the fact that before she turns me off the machine she says, "Baby looks great!" and on occasion, "What's going on here?" and she investigates. She's given me a crash coarse in nursing--I'm thankful for the knowledge, but teaching is definitely for me!

*Melinda, knitting teacher. And more importantly nurse. Melinda has also taught me about what's going on with me, my body, and my baby. She was the first to fill my head with stories of pPROM and NICU success that I desperately wanted to hear. She starts a pot of decaf for me when she's here and I'm so grateful. Melinda cried with me when I needed to. She's teaching me how to knit...and won't let me leave until I finish this scarf. I'm so glad!

*Lily, smiling, happy nurse. She's always wanted to work with mothers and babies because of her father. She's good at what she does and wants the bests for her patients. She likes to take care of us. She's also worked on teaching me to knit. She's a crafty one and made me fancy Week/Day cards out of pretty paper for my information board. I appreciate her thoughtfulness!

*Annabelle, my night nurse who loves a schedule. Annabelle is from the Phillipines and has told me stories about her children and her home. I appreciate her sharing with me. She comes in and makes a plan and follows through. When you make her laugh, she covers her mouth with her soft giggle with her hand and I love it! I feel successful when I've made her laugh. When Annabelle and Riley met, the first thing he said to her was, "Why are you little?" Riley stood up next to her and reached her armpit. He was fascinated.

*Virginia, the wonderful woman who cleaned my room almost every day. The days she didn't clean it, I could tell. I enjoyed her coming in, taking the extra time to make everything that much better, and getting to know about her and her children along the way. Before she left every day, she would ask if I need anything else, wipe the doorknobs down with sanitizer, and go on her way. She is a wonderful woman (who, by the way earned Employee of the Month this week).

*Cookie (his real name is Gerard), the security guard who Riley took a liking to on his very first hospital visit. He's a man who wears a uniform, drives a large golf cart, and has an incredibly sweet smile. Riley came to visit the first evening I was here and saw Cookie on his way in and the way out. On the way out, him and Russ stopped to visit and Riley didn't want to shake Cookie's hand, he asked Russ if he could give him a hug. That says so much about his presence. He's been up to my room to check on me several times and always has a warm smile and a "God Bless You" when he leaves.

*Brian and Julia, our friends we met traveling this road together. I'm so thankful for you guys and the connection that we have that won't end here. Thanks for the good times, for making this journey one to smile about. I'm so glad we had you guys to share this experience with--and all the gory details. We'll be friends forever, you guys have such a special place in our lives. Looking forward to hanging with you guys (outside of the hospital), Julia and I having a drink or two, sharing some Thai Cuisine, and Braden and Baby Cook hanging out. Love you!

I hope these friends don't take it personally that we want to get out of here so bad. We'll see you for a while while we visit NICU, and will pop in to check on our friends when we can. Thanks for being here, thanks for being you, and thanks for taking care of me, my family, and my friends.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Last Sonogram

This was our last evening with Dr. D, our last sonogram, and hopefully my last Thursday here. Dr. D came in, hooked up the sonogram machine, and said, "This baby is big, did I take a weight last week?" I said "Yesss, but you wouldn't hurt my feelings if you did another one today!" She said, "Okay, you talked me into it!" Yipee!! That was easy!!

My AFI was down to a 2 and I asked if I should worry. No said the expert, so I'm not going to worry about it all. She said some women go 3-4 weeks with little to no fluid. It was cruicial to have fluid as lungs were developing. I did...just a little though.

I've been feeling HUGE this week, so I was anxious for that weight estimate tonight. She measured the femur, measured the head, and Dr. DiStefano was stunned! "5lbs, 2 oz," she said, "I don't believe it!" A good surprise. There's room for discrepancy, it's not exact, but she felt more confident she got the head measurement she wanted this time than the last couple of weeks. I'm thrilled!

We saw movement, breathing, mouth opening and closing, and an enormous bladder! Dr. D also got a great face shot of our little sugar.

4 more days...

Christmas Card

I love Christmas cards. I love the drama that goes along with creating one, I love checking the mail after Thanksgiving, anxiously awaiting the colorful handwritten envelopes, and proudly displaying them as long as possible.

This is our Christmas card this year.

http://elfyourself.jibjab.com/view/JhKbswmfy9TFY0t4V1lS

Merry Christmas to all!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lucky 3

Today is 33 weeks and 3 days of my pregnancy journey. Not at all what I anticipated, but I'm certainly glad to be here. Today is my 68th day in the hospital and 5 days until we meet our newest addition. So many blessings, so many things to be thankful for, yet so much for me to sit and worry about.

So much buzzing my mind right now:

*My husband amazes me. Just when I think I couldn't love him any more, I do. I'm so thankful for him and the peace his presence brings me.

*Christmas is 9 days away. What a unique and blessed Christmas this will be.

*The people we have met here have made this difficult journey a pleasant experience. We have added to our "family" and have made friends we will have forever. Everything happens for a reason.

*My friends and family, once again let me repeat that I/we feel so loved, thank you. This is easier because of your prayers, visits, emails, texts, calls, gifts, meals, offers, hugs, and smiles.

*I love my OB/GYN! He brought me homemade cookies...with Reese's peanut butter cups. Who on earth gets cookies from their doctor? It's supposed to be the other way around, right? His wife made them, I love her too. What an amazing woman she must be to deal with her husband being pulled away by hormonal pregnant women day and night. Hats off to them!

*So sad to not do Christmas cards this year, but I just didn't want an older picture of the family and I didn't want a picture of me in a hospital bed, so I have high hopes for a baby announcement/welcome home card in the near future. I expect all of my friends to display it proudly for at least as long as our Christmas card would've been up!

*I'm not sure what to expect of this birth experience. It will be so different from Riley's birthday. We're praying for the healthiest baby possible, a safe delivery, and doctors and nurses to do their best. I'm getting worried about a c-section, though I know I'll be fine, I want to get home.

*I know it will be heartbreaking to leave our baby in NICU and go home, but I think having Riley at home to go to will make it a little easier. Not to mention that it's Christmas...

*I'm having guilty feelings about Christmas this year. One traditional gift for family (that I know they'll love), but I know they've done more for us that we did for them this year. I know they're not thinking that at all though, just me.

*I truly feel peaceful today. Thank you for the prayers and please keep them coming. Please pray for a safe delivery, a healthy baby, and for my family to transition back to normal, whatever that is. Does it exist?

*I'm more anxious than ever to find a church home for our family. No more excuses.

*God has a plan that clearly may differ from our own. It may hurt and we may not like it, but he will take care of us. This I know.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Robot Squared

"Daddy, will you draw a square so I can make a robot?"
"Good job, Buddy!"
"Daddy, will you draw another square so he can have a twin?"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Break. down.

Today was normal, fine, then it started. The break.down.

It was a beautiful day, I had a visit from my two favorite people, and we even took a wheelchair ride to enjoy the sunshine that's been hiding for the last few days. It was a great morning!!

I was scheduled to have my 2nd steroid shot today, I knew it was coming. No big deal. The first one didn't hurt a bit. It was administered the day I arrived in the hospital to give our little one a boost in lung development before a possible 17 week early delivery. The L&D nurse warned me that it burned, gave the shot, and I didn't feel a thing. Before, during, or after. The "booster" a day later didn't phase me either. I wasn't complaining!

4:00 this afternoon, the steroid shot comes. This one goes in the hip. I was cool...no problem on the last one--and BAM! It hurt like a son of a bitch! I'm pretty tough as far as shots go and usually they don't bother me a bit. I'm laying here on my side, getting a shot in the hip, and tears start welling up. Talking with my nurse, facing the other way, my eyes well up with tears. Keep talking, have some water, but that didn't help--they start falling. WHAT? I surprised myself. I didn't want my sweet nurse to think that she hurt me or did anything wrong. I tried to make it stop, but it was too late. My problem has always been...once I start crying, I can't stop. And no, I don't need to see a counselor, thankyouverymuch. (Note to self: a steroid addiction is not in the cards for me.)

Maybe just maybe:
I want to go home.
I'm ready to move on to the next chapter.
I want to spend the night in my home, with my husband and my son.
I want to see my Christmas tree (that I didn't decorate).
I want to have more than 10 minutes of fresh air a week.
I want to go to work and teach my kids and see my friends there.

I want to drive around and see Christmas lights, drinking hot chocolate with my family.
I want to do laundry (did I just say that?).
I want to have a meal outside of these 4 walls.
I want to do things myself.

I want to hear Christmas music other than on hold while ordering a meal.
I want to hear "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
I want to kiss my puppy.

I want to read Riley a Christmas book at bedtime.
I want to cook a meal for my boys (with vegetables).
I want to wrap a Christmas gift (or ten).
I want to find Jingle's new spot for the day (our Elf on the Shelf).
I want to kiss Riley goodnight...and pick out what he wears in the morning.
I want to see the new computer we bought 3 months ago that arrived right after I was admitted.
I want to be there when we buy the bicycle and helmet that Riley wants for Christmas.
I want a margarita (and boy do I need one).
I want my husband and son to not "visit." I don't like to watch them walk out the door.
I want to fix my own plate, warm up my own leftovers.

I want to see, spend time in, be a part of the nursery for our baby.
I want to inconvenience myself and not those around me.
I want to go to Sonic and order my own iced tea.
I want to go to the grocery store.
I want to order from a menu that I haven't ordered from for the last 65 days.
I want to get dressed.
I want to feel like I'm not missing out on my son growning up right before my eyes.


Sorry...you get the idea, right?

I think I've figured out that December 21st is the day I've been looking forward to and dreading at the same time. It's going to be a wonderful day!! For me though, , it makes me anxious knowing that this delivery is scheduled. With Riley, it just happened. I didn't know he was coming that day. I didn't have days to focus on it with no real distractions.

It's becoming an obsession of sorts right now and it's emotional. That's the day we'll have our latest miracle. I'm worrying about delivery, baby's health, NICU, etc. We will have made it through this hospital bedrest journey only to begin a new one with a premature baby. So many questions unanswered at this point. I'm hoping and praying for a fat little thing who can breathe, eat, and regulate his/her own body temperature. Only time will tell.

It wasn't the shot, it's the anxiety. Temporary break. down. Now if I can just make it through the night without anyone wanting to talk about it (and start these all over again), tomorrow is a new day! Tomorrow is 33 weeks and 1 day. Tomorrow is one week until our family is complete.

Gender Predictor?


Okay, so today for the first time on my gender prediction chart, we have a tie! I'm more comfortable when "boy" is in the lead because I just think this baby is a boy. Not because I prefer one over the other, but because I know what to expect of boys because I have one. I'm not a girly-girl, never have been, so girl drama is somewhat frightening.

When the pregnancy drama started, I was convinced it was a girl. A sweet boy would never do this to his mother, right? Russ has bounced back and forth a few times. I'm not sure how he's feeling today!

A moment I will never forget was when we had Riley--we were surprised with him as well. We knew we were having a baby, so there was no surprise there. Having the sex be a surprise was sweet anticipation. I wouldn't have changed it for the world. The greater gift was having our moment with our boy and then Russ leaving the L&D room to walk out to our 20+ friends and family who anxiously awaited until 11:59 p.m. to hear the verdict. I couldn't be there physically, but Tina videotaped the moment and I'm so thankful to have it. I'm excited for him to have the opportunity to do that again.

I know it drives everyone crazy, and honestly I'm surprised I'm one of those people who can wait. I wouldn't give up this little 9 month secret for anything. Stay tuned because on December 21 we are going to find out.

p.s. If you want to make your prediction on this chart, you have to do it "live and in person," so come and see me. You have 8 more days to cast your vote!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Progress

I can't believe how great it looks in here! Thanks to everyone who made this happen!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Countdown is On!

Last week my induction was scheduled for December 21 and it's so wonderful to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's also been tough because time seems to c-r-a-w-l along since we've known. These last two weeks may be the toughest. (Especially now that college football season is over.)

Though Riley continues to do well, this is taking a toll on my sweet little boy. He said this week, "Mama, when I see the doctor, I'm going to say, 'When can my Mommy come home?'" So darn cute, but breaks my heart at the same time. I told him the baby would be here in two more weeks and he's been chanting, "Two more weeks, two more weeks, two more weeks!"

Physically I feel like I've doubled in size in a week. I'm having to use the handles on the bed to get up. Ugh. When Russ is here, he pulls me up. They need cranes in these ante-partum rooms! How did I ever get out of bed 9 months pregnant with Riley? Roll off?

Christmas is out there, I know it, I just don't feel the Christmas spirit like usual. Christmas is going to be different this year, pretty bare boned, but I fully expect to really feel the Christmas spirit in a different way this year. Not overdone with gifts, parties, cooking, wrapping, shopping, and trying to fit it all in, but appreciating the finer things in life--a new baby--a Christmas blessing, being home with my family, and treasuring every moment of my boys that I've been missing. I absolutely cannot wait to walk into my home, see Doak, cook dinner for the 3 of us, take a bath in my bathtub, and most of all, put Riley in his pajamas and snuggle with him as we read books together in his bed.

Dr. DeStefano came tonight for our weekly sonogram. Fluid is down to 4.25, but she said it was normal at this point because baby is getting bigger and taking up more space. We saw baby opening and closing it's mouth, practicing breathing, moving, and a very large, full bladder (are you sure that wasn't MINE?)! Baby's weight measurement this week is 3 pounds 15 ounces!! Wonderful news!! We saw baby's face from an underneath angle--the eyes nose, and mouth opening and closing. The view is even more odd laying down in bed, trust me. Remember the Friends episode where Rachael feels so stupid because she can't see the sonogram? I feel like that often. Even after it's been spelled out to me...(the first step is admission, right?)! I'll blame in on the angle, not my intelligence!

I'm feeling the baby move in my lower belly lately. I'm still enjoying that little but sticking out on the right side that I can pat. Feeling larger movements, more often, in more places, not just the same couple of spots. Russ has seen some pretty large movements from across the room. That's been fun!

I'd like to visit NICU again the next time Russ is here with me. The last time we visited, I was still in the daze of arriving here, paralyzed with fear, not knowing what was in store for me/us/baby. Just plain terrified. Too terrified to blog and actually post anything, afraid to wear my heart on my sleeve. I want to go see NICU again from the perspective of 32 weeks and 4 days (today). Maybe now we'll have some actual questions, not just the blank stare of being admitted to the hospital and the possibility of delivering our baby 15 weeks early. I'll never forget Russ wheeling me in there for the first time and the nurse saying, "So you're the 25 weeker?" That was me. 7 weeks ago. I'm so thankful to still be here cookin' this baby.

Tonight was busy with the sonogram and Brian and Julia's nightly visit--we look forward to them popping in. Tonight was all about laughing, which is so tough for Julia because she just had a c-section and me because of my enormous belly. We all needed a good laugh though. Even if it was inappropriate laughter! We're both laughing while trying NOT to--you know, the kind you get in trouble for in class or church--Julia's pressing her green polka dot pillow to her belly and I'm holding mine with both hands. Painful, but in the best way!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

At the hospital...




My aunt Bette sent me a little Christmas tree, complete with lights and decorations last weekand Riley finally returned from a few days at the ranch to help me decorate it. I'm so glad I have this perfect little tree and get to plug in the lights every morning when I wake up.
He also made a gingerbread house with Nunny and wanted to bring it up to me, It's perfect!

And we shared our annual tradition of opening the first Christmas gift of the year, a big box of Christmas books. I was even able to read 2 new ones--The Jolly Christmas Postman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!
And I've proudly displayed the Christmas cards we've received so far on the x-ray light in my room.

And at home...

The mantle is up...notice the stocking with no name--I can't wait to get it monogramed!

The tree is up, plugged in, and decorated!!

Breakfast with Santa was a success, but he's still not very sure about that guy.

Holiday spirit is in the air (thanks for the cinnamon rolls AND the bows, Steph)!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Anniversary

Today is my 2 month anniversary here at the hospital and I thought a "What I've Learned" post would be appropriate and cover many bases.

What I've Learned on Hospital Bedrest:

1. God is good (I realize this now more than ever)!
2. My husband is amazing!
3. My son is amazing...and very resilient...and slightly manipulative (where his grandmothers are concerned)!
4. My mother is amazing!
5. My mother in law is amazing!
6. If you have a friend on bedrest, they need: food (not the hospital kind), a variety of lip moisturizers, books and magazines, movies, lotions, and lots of friendly visits (my family and friends have provided this and SO much more).
7. I like coffee before breakfast, not during or after.
8. Not to take pregnancy for granted. I will admit that I did with my first. I'm now much more aware of preemies, loss, viability, gestational development, fear, and blessings.
9. Nurses become your friends and family.
10. Fetal monitoring--accels, decels, variability, what a good strip looks like, how to put myself on and take myself off the monitor.
11. Drink more water.
12. If something isn't right, don't google it. Call a professional. Ugh.
13. My friends leave me speechless.
14. Thanksgiving isn't complete without cranberries.
15. I can't watch Sandra Lee anymore. You're clothes aren't supposed to match your kitchen, silly. Who does that?
16. I didn't expect to make friends here, but developed a special bond with a variety of people (patients, their families, nurses, doctors, housekeepers, and security guards). Russ said I would probably cry when we leave. He knows me well.
17. The secret to the French toast here (the best I've ever eaten) is a little nutmeg and some extra sugar. I asked.
18. I need to visit friends when they're in the hospital and get over my emotions regarding it all.
19. To be thankful for every day.
20. Babies=miracles.
21. I tend to pray more when I need to. I should pray more and tell God how thankful I am when things are good.
22. Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
23. I miss the daily grind (but could change my mind when I get back to it)!
24. I didn't think I could do this, but I am!
25. I prefer to do things myself, but am so grateful for family and friends doing so much for me right now.
26. Take pleasure in the little things.
27. I have low blood pressure (but not in a bad way), A+ blood, and my normal body temp. is 97.
28. I'm pretty fond of having clean sheets every day/every other day. Too bad it'll never happen again!!
29. Ambien is a good thing.
30. I am so blessed.

Nursery Update

Since my girls came by and moved everything out and helped Russ assemble the crib, more has happened!

Russ and Riley assembled the dresser.

video


Nunny and Buzz painted the room. (Nunny also went to Home Depot to pick out paint samples to bring up to me and brought them along with the nursery bedding so I could compare. I narrowed it down to a few and decided on "Toast," but only if everyone agreed that color looked good in the room, with the lighting and the bedding--the natural light in my other room was minimal.) Toast was the winner. I can't wait to see it in person.

And last week, Russ and his mother brought out some of the baby tubs from the attic. Riley took a 3 hour nap that day so Nunny could be even more productive than usual! She was able to pull out the few preemie clothing items that we had, some newborn clothing, and some blankets and get them freshly washed and put away in the dresser.

I don't know what I'd do without my family and friends right now. I'm still in awe and so incredibly thankful.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Another Milestone...check!

32 weeks today, folks! I've basically defied the odds and I'm proud of it. My diagnosis on October 7th was PPROM (Pre-term Premature Rupture of Membranes) which means I was leaking amniotic fluid. My AFI (Amniotic Fluid Index) was a 0 when I checked into the hospital. The biggest risk at that time (and throughout my stay) has been infection. Amniotic fluid is also essential for baby's lung development. I was given 2 shots of steriods when I arrived to help jump start baby's lungs just in case development was slow because of the lack of fluid. Look how far we've come...

32 weeks from http://www.babycenter.com/:


By now, your baby weighs 3.75 pounds (pick up a large jicama) and is about 16.7 inches long, taking up a lot of space in your uterus. You're gaining about a pound a week and roughly half of that goes right to your baby. In fact, she'll gain a third to half of her birth weight during the next 7 weeks as she fattens up for survival outside the womb. She now has toenails, fingernails, and real hair (or at least respectable peach fuzz). Her skin is becoming soft and smooth as she plumps up in preparation for birth.


From http://www.fitpregnancy.com/:


Your baby weighs about 4 pounds and is about fifteen to seventeen inches tall. Photographs of babies in utero at this stage show their skin becoming less translucent and pinker, as layers of fat are deposited under the skin. Her skeleton is rapidly ossifying (turning from cartilage into solid bone), which means that kicks will become visible through your shirt as the trimester progresses. Well-placed kicks under your ribs can take your breath away!

From http://www.whattoexpect.com/:

She's starting to get ready for her big debut, tipping the scales at almost four pounds and topping out at just about 19 inches. In these last few weeks, it's all about practice, practice, practice as she hones the skills she'll need to survive and thrive outside the womb, from swallowing and breathing to kicking and sucking. And speaking of sucking, your little one has been able to suck her thumb for a while now. Another change this week: As more and more fat accumulates under your baby's skin, she's becoming less transparent and more opaque.

Here's a little video of my heart monitoring this morning. All is well, baby looks great!
video

**p.s. I copied and pasted these development updates from a website, we do NOT know if our baby is a he or a she. Don't get excited (Jack, Karol)!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ups and Down

Yesterday was a big day. Russ celebrated his 35th birthday!! It wasn't the birthday party either of us would've planned, but we celebrated with dinner from Brick Oven, a delicious cookie cake (a tradition his mother started years ago and they're delish), and gifts in the hospital (and an enormous thank you to Sonia and Erin for making it happen). My plan is to celebrate both of our birthdays OUTSIDE of the hospital and me NOT wearing pajamas when "we" are home.

I had my usual morning visit from my OB/GYN and he confirmed that I am in the books for December 21st, our induction is scheduled! On that day baby will be 34 weeks and 1 day. I am being induced (and do have a chance of an c-section) because as the size of baby increases, it becomes harder to move without much fluid in there. We are hoping that either way, I'll be home for Christmas (my new favorite song of ALL time).

We had a visit from our perinatologist last night. She's awesome. Sonogram looked good, my AFI was up from last week to a 5.5 (the highest it's been since my arrival) and our little baby weighs approximately 3 lbs and 10 ounces. Baby's heartrate continues to look good each day and I'm still getting to pat that little hiney a few times a day, too!!

Russ and Karol were able to round up the pumpkins and scarecrows from the house, bundle them up in tubs, and banish them to the attic for next year. AND most importantly...

Our dear friends we met in the hospital, who are on this journey with us, unexpectedly delivered their little man yesterday. He's a lucky boy who shares his birthday with the most wonderful man in the world. He was at 27 weeks and 6 days gestation and weighed 2 lbs. and 9 oz. He is stable, but they all need your prayers right now.

The snow today was exciting to see. I saw it from my window, but didn't get to play in it. Riley was home with Nunny today. They bundled up and went outsside to see the snow--he wanted to eat it! I was glad there was no accumulation, hopefully no ice tonight. I definitely need to get outside tomorrow and feel the cold front (in my pajamas, it won't last long)!

Prayer Requests for Our Friends

Please say some extra prayers for our friends and they're new baby Braden. He was born yesterday at 27 weeks and 6 days, weighing 2 lbs and 9 oz.

http://betts-family-blog.blogspot.com/

We've been through this journey together and developed a special bond. We are asking our friends and family to pray for all 3 of them right now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Elf on the Shelf

Okay, so I had these wonderful visions of a new family tradition involving our new elf. That was my first mistake. I've been excited about introducing this concept to our family for a year now.
Being in the hospital wasn't going to stop me either. Mom picked up the book and elf for me; I hid it in the room for a few days and wanted to introduce it on Dec. 1. Of course it was a horribly dreary, cold, rainy day. Mom picked Riley up from school, brought him to the hospital, and met Russ under the covered drive so they could pass him off, and Russ brought him up.

I'd placed our new friend and his book on the x-ray machine in the room and initially, Riley didn't notice. I finally started telling him to look around. He spotted the elf and the book and said, "What's Pinocchio doing in here?" I laughed and thought, "Oh no, don't confuse these two stories!" He immediately wanted to touch it. Well, part of the story is that you can't touch the elf or it loses it's magic. Riley was going to obsess over touching the elf, I could tell. This wasn't what my "vision" looked like. Ugh!

We sat on the couch in my room, but heaven forbid he get close enough to take a picture (or cooperative enough for a family photo with our new tradition), and read the book. Many parts had to be translated by Russ and I, especially the part about the elf keeping an eye on Riley and reporting back to Santa. I told Riley the elf would tell Santa whether he was being naughty or nice and fly to the North Pole to update Santa each night while he was sleeping.

Riley cocked his head back and said "WHUUUT? No way...." I giggled (while crying inside that this wasn't how it was supposed to go) and Russ looked at me and said, "He's too smart for this."

Then Riley got to thinking and asked, "How did he get in here? The door is closed, the windows are locked." "Christmas Magic" wasn't the answer he was looking for.

We finished the book, he STILL wanted to touch the elf, so we re-read the part about not touching him or he loses his magic, and started working on a name. Pinocchio wasn't going to cut it for me. We asked Riley several times what we were going to name our elf and "I don't know" was the answer every time. I asked again, "What are we going to name our elf?" and he went into the chorus of "Jingle Bells, " so I asked, "Is his name Jingle?" Yes! A name that we all agreed upon.

Then we explain that Jingle will be going home to our house so he can keep an eye on Riley and he could show up anywhere in the house and he would have to find him when he woke up in the morning. "I don't want him in my house! I don't need any toys, I already have toys!"

Is the nightmare over yet?

Russ, Riley, and Jingle headed home. I worried about traumatizing my son all night and when Russ called that night to give me an overview of the evening, he calmed my fears by saying that Riley told Nunny about Jingle. I took that as a sign of acceptance. Whew!

The next morning Riley was thrilled to find Jingle! Now we're talkin'...

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Good Woman, A Good Cause

I've been here for 7 weeks and Russ and I have no doubt made some new friends while we've been here--nurses, housekeepers, security guards, doctors, patients, and folks from the cafeteria. One friend in particular is my nurse, Joanne. She has been my night nurse many evenings and is a lovely human being. She is working her last shift at the hospital tonight to return home to her husband and her life in Ghana.

(doesn't she look cute in her new Longhorn scrubs?)


Joanne is a nurse and midwife who has dedicated herself to mothers and children in Africa (and Austin)! She is part of an organization that raises money to buy formula for the surviving infants of women who die during childbirth, to support a community feeding program, to pay school fees for young adults, and buy basic goods for these families and severely ill women during postpartum. Donations are welcome and appreciated!

http://www.africanmothers.org/

Joanne's presence is something Russ and I look forward to. She is knowledgeable, kind, and a calm presence in our lives at this crazy time. She is one of the reasons our stay here has been "enjoyable." I can only imagine the impact she is making in Ghana.

The nurses organized a going away party for her and Julia and I were able to get out of our rooms and join them. I've been looking forward to it all week! They hardly recognized me with makeup and my hair halfway done. I'm so glad they allowed us to join them to say farwell to our nurse, our friend Joanne. She's made an impact on each of us and hopefully she realizes how special we think she is.

(Jackie, Chris, me, Laurel, Joanne, Julia, Stephy, Lily, Karen, and Sarah)
(Joanne, Chris, Laurel, Karen, Lily, Stephy, and Dr. DiStefano at nurse's station--Melinda, Annabelle, and Patricia are missing from the photo)
(Me, Dr. DiStefano, and Julia)
(Dr. DiStefano and Joanne)
(Russ poppin' the sparkling apple cider--thanks Lily!)


We are looking forward to seeing her again in June and meeting her husband too!

Goodnight Joanne!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dearest Little One,

I'm not thrilled to be laying here, but I have been able to focus on you more than the "normal" pregnant woman usually has the time and energy to do. For a few weeks now, you curl up just so your cute little hiney (don't you love that I already know how cute it is?) sticks up on the right side of my belly. You know what? I pat your hiney when you do that! I love it! It's not an uncomfortable feeling, but I know it when it comes and your hiney is there every time.

When you wiggle around, I say, "Hi Baby!" and when your Daddy is here with me, he looks up and smiles and if he's close enough, he'll put his hand on my belly to feel you move.

I sure do enjoy listening to your heartbeat every day. I'm going to miss it when we're not here anymore. Some days it can lull me to sleep. It's so peaceful to hear you beating away in there. I've learned a ton about your heartbeat. It's good and strong and the nurses tell me that it looks great (but I know that already because they've taught me so much)! I know what a good strip looks like and what worries the nurses. You haven't done it much, but you HAVE done it. Stinker.

Your big brother things if he talks into my belly button you can hear him better. I think it's so cute and pretty clever too. You are going to love that boy (well, most of the time)! He calls you "his baby" and thinks that you are a girl some days and other days he thinks you are a boy. One day he said you were a girl but that he wanted a brother. He will love you up whatever you are.

Love,
Mommy

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Heart Full of Gratitude

I started the day full of emotion. I could feel it sitting just under my skin, about to pop right out of my eyes. I knew I'd cry at some point and it started with texts and emails from friends and family.

I've always been a thankful kind of person, thankful for the amazing family that I have and loving married into I'm also very aware of my wonderful friends. This year though, I feel completely overwhelmed with thankfulness.

When you boil it down, I AM thankful to be here. Thankful to be celebrating my 50th day today. I am thankful to have 150 less days in NICU because I'm still here and still pregnant. Thankful to be 30 weeks and 4 days into this pregnancy.

I am thankful to the doctors and nurses who continue to take care of me and are thrilled at the lack of excitement going on in my room. It's a blessing to be boring here.

Yesterday was sonogram day and immediately the doctor commented on how big the baby was (YAY!). 2 weeks ago the weight was 2 lbs and 14 oz. We're shooting for 4 lbs. next week for our next weight measurement (and at the rate people are telling me I'm growing, I'm confident we'll get there!). We continue to see the baby practicing breathing, moving (LOTS of showing off for Dr. D yesterday), and saw the baby making sucking movements. My fluid went from a disappointing 3 last week back up to a 5 this week! I am thankful for all of the good things we're seeing on our weekly sonograms.

I am thankful for my precious little boy for hanging in there while Mommy's in the hospital. I'm thankful for Russ, Mom, and Karol for playing Mom (and Dad) while baby and I are in here cooking.

I am thankful for my family who went out of their way on this special holiday to visit and bring me "to go plates" even though the cafeteria was offering a special holiday meal. No thank you. It just wouldn't have been the same without Karol's broccoli cheese casserole or Grandmom's wild rice stuffing! Thank you!



I'm already looking forward to next Thanksgiving, being home with our family of 4, and being so incredibly grateful for the gifts God has given us. I'm looking forward to cooking in my kitchen, eating at the table with my family, and being very aware of just how blessed we are each and every day.

(Thanks so much for the family photo Katie, I absolutely love it. It was worth all 7 takes!)



Happy Thanksgiving!

New Tradition?

I tore this recipe out of the newspaper a week or so ago and wanted to make them, but didn't think it would happen. But... thanks to my sweet mother and one more trip to H.E.B., it did!!

Gobble, Gobble!!


Before:



During:



After:




Recipe can be found at my food blog, No Onions.

Monday, November 23, 2009

While You Were Out

While you were out Mommy,

I missed you AND I loved spending all of this time with my grandparents and Daddy!

Last night I made Aunt Robbye laugh by singing, "We will, we will....ROCK IT!"

Today Daddy called and I didn't want to talk to on the phone. Daddy called back and pretended to be Santa Claus to trick me. After we hung up, I asked Aunt Robbye if Daddy was Santa Clause.

Today I went to lunch at The Wagon Wheel with Nunny, Buzz, Aunt Robbye, and even Daddy met us there while he was working close by. I charmed all of the old timers that were there for lunch! The waitress walked up and I said, "What is your name? My name is Riley." I ordered some milk, all by myself, without anyone asking AND when the waitress walked away, proudly announced, "I'm waiting." Not in a rude way, but in a proud way to let everyone know that I was being patient.

Here are some other fun things I've done while you were out...

Helped Buzz and did a little leaf blowing,
did some digging,

played garbage man with leaves,

rocked out,

helped Daddy put the baby's dresser together,
and rode a horse at Abbie's birthday party.
Did the doctors and nurses say you could come home yet Mommy?