Sunday, August 31, 2008

Avery Ann hits the bottle...


Honestly, most father's aren't too excited to hear news like this... but then again, we're not talking about that kind of liquid diet folks!! I called up to get our daily update on Saturday...and out of nowhere, our nurse informed me that our little squirt "PO'ed" a bottle that morning. Not wanting to sound uncool by asking what "po"ing a bottle entailed, I joined the nurse in celebrating this next big step; I mean, it sounded like some karate move... so either way, my daughter is a samurai in training or she's a bottle feeder, both of which makes her dad very proud! "don't make me come up there and PO you mom!"


All joking and martial arts aside, apparently the nurse was feeding Zack, who has been on the bottle for a bit and looked over at Avery going to town on her little binky. She figured, why not give it a try... and Avery just pounded her 20ccs of milk like it was nothing! By the time we showed up, she was sawing logs... apparently bottle-feeding takes it out of you! So, she'll probably start having one of her feedings a day from a bottle. It puts it in perspective when you imagine drinking down a bottle that's nearly the same length as you are! (by the way, PO stands for per os, or "by mouth" in latin...you'll usually hear about patients being NPO, in which case they are given everything through an IV) Her fancy new isolet doesn't have a scale built in to it, which I like better, because they take her out to be weighed... I'll post a video of her being weighed...she weighed 2 lbs 10 oz at that time, but I just called and she packed on another ounce, taking her up to 2 lbs. 11 ozs!! Stephanie swears she can see a double chin developing ;) She is also going on and off of room air again...and when she does have to get on her oxygen, it's only between 10-20 ccs.


video
The best news for us, is that they have upped our holding times to every other day!! So, we are getting more and more time with the little bug. We make sure to have Steph hold her skin-to-skin every couple times at least... Avery seems to just love it. She just nuzzles up to Steph's chest and falls right to sleep. I love every second that I get to hold her too... I can't begin to describe how amazing it is when you look down at her sweet little face, and she's looking back up at you! We're really blessed that she's doing so well...it's not always the case, and we count every blessing. That's the Avery update... I try to balance between the humorous posts and the mushy gooshy ones, which are more for my emotional sanity...and the real Avery news :) Feel free to ask questions or anything...I've been getting some good emails asking for specifics... Thank you all again for all your great love and support.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Caption Contest...

Okay..so, here's a little something new. I know that not everyone comes on here to read my long-winded blabberings about our little adventure...I know there are some of you out there who just skim through the blogs for the pictures (my wife, Stephanie openly admits to this practice...you guys probably also just go through and pick out all the marshmellows in the Lucky Charms boxes too...don't you!!)...

In any case, for those of you who don't know me...I take tons of pictures...my family has learned to put up with me...and even the NICU nurses have just come to accept that when Avery's mom comes to visit, she brings along the paparrazi..

So, looking through all my pictures that we've got of Avery so far... I won't even tell you how many there are :)... I always just make captions of them in my head. I figured it would be funny to hear what everyone else would come up with...so, I'm going to start posting a picture here and there, and everyone can comment on what they think would be a good caption. It can be funny, or thought provoking, or just fitting. And if anyone can think of a prize we could give...I'm all ears (Avery does happen to have more food storage in the freezer than we even do right now...but I don't think that would be an appealing prize for anyone who has graduated to solid foods...)

So, here are 3 pics, you can comment with your ideas for captions, just label them 1,2 or 3...

#1


#2


#3

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Angels in Scrubs...


Sitting in the operating room with front row seats to the most incredible show I'd ever seen... I couldn't take enough in. I'd never really seen the inside of a real OR... to my left, a nurse typing some sort of information on the computer... to my right, my wife's head looking over at me with a dazed look: she seems content... almost amused (?!); I best not remind her that just beyond the blue curtain in front of her, there is a large-scale excavation project going on in the southern regions of her body. Behind me, largely responsible for the amused look on my wife's face and for keeping her nervous system completely unaware of the excavation party, is the anesthesiologist...reading an article on carseats out loud to my minimally lucid wife...why not, right?? Oh boy. Leading the excavation team on the other side of the drape, the doctor we had only met the night before was cutting and cauderizing the layers of Stephanie's abdomen(nothing calms the nerves of a young father to be like the pungeant smell of burnt flesh). This was a sensory overload that no one really prepares you for...

Over in the corner on the other side of the room, stands a small group, clad in green smocks. Why in the world, when I looked over in their direction, did I feel strangely comforted?? For all I know, they are the janitorial staff hanging out to clean up after the surgery. Yet... there is something vital to them being there...being ready. It's as if they are watching over this surgery, waiting...I need them. I don't know why...it's just a feeling. Somehow...I can tell that this group represents a very important part of the next act in this play.

The curtain raises on the next scene of the drama of our life, and the green-smocked spectators take center stage. Insignificant as our parts ultimately were in the moments deciding whether this scene would be a tragedy or a triumph, Stephanie and Avery and I will always be the lead rolls as we recall this scene in our memories. Yet, there began the moment they took our baby in their arms and kept her little life spark alive, an award-winning supporting role that continues to this day; a part shared by many with wings tucked under their fashionable scrubs: the hands and hearts of Heaven.

To all of the staff in the NICU who may ever wonder what you actually accomplished between clocking in and clocking out for your shift today... maybe I could give you a small glimpse into what you mean to us.

You held my baby before I did...you took care of her immmediately, in a way I never could have: you cleaned her, breathed life into her, and you became forever entwined in our lives as you completed our family for the first time, closing the circuit from the safety of mom's womb to the safety of dad's arms.

You patiently answered the millions of questions that raced through a helpless new father's brain...you gave me some sense of providing for my little family, when in reality...all I could do at the time was comfort mom with the information I gathered from you, as she lay in her bed on the other side of the hospital without her new baby.

You welcomed us like family into our child's new home. Do you know what it means to us that you made her a little sign with her name on it!?!? We've never really seen our child's name posted anywhere...and the colorful scrapbook paper...the coordinating colors in her bedding...the cute little bow in her hair... it softens the prick that hit our hearts when we saw our little angel hooked up to so many cords and tubes. How did you know that we weren't expecting her for months...and wouldn't have time to ready her room at home?? Thanks to you, she has never spent a night away from "home"...

You seem to understand when I call...just to see if she's okay. Maybe you know that sick feeling a parent gets, when they can't explain why they are worried about their child. Yes, you must be able to feel like we do... you get so excited to tell me she's gained an ounce, or stayed off of her oxygen for a while today! You have to know that that phone call is the highlight of our day.

You stand by our baby's bed with us...you have smiled and laughed with us through the bright days... and you must have known how much we just needed to talk on those darker nights. Because somehow, if you were there... it would be okay. You always seem to bring us a chair to sit on...maybe you notice that our feet come out from under us alot lately...You must know how helpless we feel...and yet, you give us the comfort we need. Every time you have explained something...we gain confidence. Your patience, your friendship... they are answers to prayers we have prayed all day.

You know us by name... you smile and greet us when we come in. I guess you realize how hard it is for us to drive all the way here to see our baby...when her room is just feet away from ours at home. And yet, you have somehow made a hospital- a place feared and despised by most- our home. The place where our family can be together...a family of which you happen to be a part now...

You taught us how to handle our baby...helped us not be afraid to move her, touch her, hold her...you let me change her diaper...take her temperature...you give us a way to connect with my child at a time when fear and plexiglass try hard as they can to keep us apart.

You've taken pictures for and with us. You've scrapbooked for us. You've saved us long trips home when we've forgotten something in our rush to come up to the hospital. You've placed blankets and hats aside saying how they just look like they should go with our baby. You've played jokes on and with us. You always make time to come answer any small trivial question, when you see that look on my face.

We talk about you at home all the time. We notice the individual strengths you personally bring to the collective effort that is raising our little baby. None of you are exactly the same...thank goodness! Individually and collectively, you are just what we needed today...any given day. We needed your kindness, firmness, gentleness, love, patience, lightness, severity, honesty, buffering, humor, candor, ...fill in the blank...you were what we needed today. We watch you care for our child, and say a prayer of thanks for you right then and there.

Talking to some of you...I don't think you have more than a small idea that you do the work of angels each day. Walking through those double doors...you leave your life behind...and you enter ours. Whoever or whatever you are outside... you are angels to us. You are forever a part of the most important thing that has ever happened to us. We can never really thank you enough for what you do not only for our children:because it's your job...but also for us:because you must know how much we need you.

God couldn't personally be in the NICU each day... so he sent you to us: the hearts and the hands of Heaven.



(I just threw a few pictures together at the last moment...representing all of the NICU staff... I know you all think I take tons of pictures...but they're all of my daughter!! Please know that I haven't gotten a picture of all the wonderful people who have touched our lives from the NICU...but I'm working on it! ;) )

Movin' on up!!


Avery had a big day yesterday...she moved from her giraffe isolet, into the next step up: a non-humidified, non-giraffe, pretty awesome and impressive...other kind of isolet! You may or may not get stoked about that...but, it's all about the cheap thrills here for us nowadays!! She looks so good! Her little friend Zack next door had moved up last week, so now they have matching pink and blue isolets again.

She's doing well...staying pretty healthy. She is now at 2 lbs, 9 oz...not exactly hitting a growth spurt, but slowly gaining gram for gram. The doctors are trying to get her a mixture of the right amount of milk, lipids, and minerals that will help her grow and her body to develop... since she had a NEC scare the last time she went on the milk fortifyer, they are hesitant to go that route again. But, she's been on and off of oxygen lately, and when she's on...it's only around 10-20 ccs, which is still very low. They took her PICC line out, and so she only has the feeding tube in, the nasal cannula and some monitors... and between you and me...she just gets cuter every time we see her :)

Thank you for all the great comments on here, the texts and calls etc... sorry to freak some of you out by not posting for a bit... we are in limbo between the hospital and our apartment, 45 mins away and are staying over at the Frame Bed and Breakfast (code name for the guest bedroom at my in-laws :) ) half of the time to try to defray gas costs!! So...down here at our apartment, we don't have the internet set up yet...and I can only post when the wind blows just right, and someone's free connection comes through our window!

So, I'll be able to post more this weekend...as for now, the little squirt is doing very well... all of you who ask us what you can do for us: pray that she grows! (and while you're at it...pray that gas prices come down- couldn't hurt!)

On a related... or not so related note...Steph and I went to the dentist and neither of us have any cavities...just goes to show you, that dental hygene, even in times of severe tragedy, always pays off! (okay, okay...there were a few nights there that I just didn't floss OR brush... I admit it!!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

How to distract yourself while your baby takes care of some unfinished business...


Tip #1- make sure you have your premature baby during the Olympics. Boy did we time that one just right! It's amazing how much quicker those 12 minute pumping sessions go when you're catching up on the latest from Beijing. In fact...I think that Steph medaled in the 2x 12 min freestyle pumping event- way to make your country proud and keep your daughter full!! I'm not going to make any big political comment on anything that happened during the games or recap any of the great athletic achievements... there are plenty of blogs out there taking care of that for me. For some...the Olympics have been the crowning achievement of a lifetime of hard work- for us, it's been the perfect mind candy during the most singular time in our lives! We are sitting here watching the closing ceremonies, musing that the next time we watch the Olympics, we'll have a little 4 year old running around... now that will be a medal-worthy achievement....

Tip #2- Keep yourself busy with projects and new hobbies. As mentioned before, Stephanie has taken on pumping. (I could make all sorts of fun jokes and comments... but I forget that not everyone is as knee-deep in this fun as we are, and we still live in a slightly puritan society, where even some mothers are uncomfortable with this topic. Some life events blow normal taboos out of the water :) )Every sport has it's gear, and we've geared Steph up with a Medela Pump-in-Style hospital grade pump (we ain't messin' around...), which comes with a stylish Metro Bag... smart purchase all across the board.

I have taken on a complimentary hobby: bottle-washing. The other day I calculated that I have washed those bottles about 150 times...give or take. I do have to say, with no small bit of pride, I do have quite the technique figured out. Smartest gear purchase on my end: a functional drying rack for the bottles, with a bottle scrubber. I've really maximized my efficiency, and minimized washing time, while ensuring a higher level of cleanliness... nothing but the best for our girl!

We have also teamed up to get some serious picture taking and scrapbooking done. I think that the nurses have finally just gotten used to the fact that Avery is going to have a full-blown photo-shoot every time we come to visit. Everyone's favorite comment: Yeah, we did that too for our first baby...you'll see, each child gets fewer and fewer pictures taken. My response in my head each time: Speak for yourselves, rookies! Anyone who has been on vacation with me knows that it's gonna take more than a few more kids and years to keep me from taking picutres. Steph has taken it upon herself to get some serious scrapbooking done. She just got a few pages done of us for our anniversary and will get going on Avery's scrapbook soon. We have also had some awesome NICU nurses help us out with some great scrapbook memories to get us started!Together...we will immortalize the moments of our lives...

Tip #3: take up an impossible sleep schedule. When you don't sleep much... you end up sleeping a lot! Crazy as that sounds... you either understand what that means or you haven't lived it yet. Chances are, we will all have a time in our lives when that will be true. Somehow, we are living in a time warp, where minutes seem like days, days are measured in ounces gained or lost, time is passed by savoring the moment and hastening each second by... and whatever is left in between is spent napping :) Time flies when you're half-awake!

Tip #4: Pretend like the bun is still in the oven, and do the "normal" things. Everyone keeps asking us well-meaning questions like "Have you chosen a pediatrician?" or "Where are you registered"... We just politely smile and realize that WE are the sane ones...and you all have gone crazy :) Just kidding of course! We didn't exactly expect the baby to come until October, so we're kinda playing catch-up on all that fun stuff. Steph and I went to Babies R Us this week and registered... We got most of the basics registered for, but ended up in frustration, not knowing which brands or sizes or whatever. We're hoping for a lot of good suggestions, lots of gift cards and diapers... and my secret plan is to simply bribe one of our NICU nurses to come home with us and I think that will pretty much cover those bases!

We went home for the first time in what seemed like forever, and our big accomplishment- besides doing the laundry- was getting Avery's crib set up. It did my male ego some good to get that set up... and it made us laugh as we placed a doll the size of Avery in the corner of the crib. We might as well have saved the money and just let her sleep in my sock drawer! Some things we do for our babies... some things are for us silly parents!

Tip #5: Surround yourself with amazing people. I don't want to name names...but I have learned that you never go through anything alone...ever. There are people who have accomodated us physically, so unselfishly and lovingly. There are people who traveled long distances to make sure we were loved and supported through our tough times. We have made friends who have gone through similar circumstances and have shared emails and stories with us that give us hope. We share loads with friends going through their own times of trial. Some listen to our cares and worries... some are our hands and hearts caring for our angel... some help us see in ourselves what we don't when we see our weary reflections in the mirror. A few give of their time... a few of their creative talents... not one small effort goes unnoticed. We could never do it without you. We've made it this far hand in hand...carried in His hand... we can make it because we're not alone...

Our little Muppet Baby

Some people wondered why I had described Avery's arms and legs as "muppet" in an earlier post... today when we went in to see her, she was bright-eyed and bushy tailed... and flailing around like a little muppet :) See for yourself!
video

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Leaving Comments...

This may sound funny to some of you who are already leaving comments....but I have had 3 people email me now to my normal email address asking how people leave the commments on the blog...

At the end of each post, there is a line that says when the post was made, and it says "3 comments" or whatever number there is... click on that, and you will have a pop-out window come up where you will find a text box to type in your comment...

And yes, to answer someone's question, we would love you to comment on the blog...we love hearing your advice, tips, encouragement and whatever else you want to leave bedhind :)

3 Weeks and Counting!


Avery Ann Hansen turned 3 weeks old yesterday!! Steph still likes to track her in pregnancy weeks, so tomorrow, she'll be 33 weeks. She does a lot of snoozing nowadays, and looks more and more precious each day. Her first week, she would cry and flail her little muppet arms and legs each time the nurses would check her vitals and change her, but they say that the older the babies get, the more used to all the extra stimulation they get. Sometimes, she'll barely crack an eye open or just sleep on through the exam. Her little isolet is nice and warm...they keep it at about 40% humidity now, and we like to just pull the cover aside a bit and peek into her warm cozy little world- but watching her sleep so comfy in there...I've left many a forehead mark on the side of her isolet as my gazing turned to dozing!!

She took well to her transfusion and her skin is nice and rosy pink. She has her nasal cannula back on, because they are continually increasing her feedings, which leaves her with a more full belly most of the time, and less room for her lungs to expand. She's up to 20 ccs of milk, to which they are adding lipids and sugars to increase the caloric value from 20 calories/oz to 22 cal./oz. and her oxygen is down on the lowest possible level- 10 ccs. They took out her PICC line on her arm, so the cannula, her feeding tube and the little monitors are the only thing she has hooked up. Oh how great the day will be when we have a wireless baby!!

She had her first eye exam the other day, which is always one of the big benchmarks for preemies. The opthalmologist comes by every other week or so to check the baby for any eye problems, especially for ROP- retinopathy of prematurity. This is a complication that affects about 7-10% of all preemies...depending on where you get your stats. It's caused by abnormal growth of the blood vessels in the baby's eyes as they develop. It can lead to the baby needing glasses all the way to blindness. Babies who were on high levels of oxygen since birth are especially at risk, and since Avery was on room air for most of the time she's been in the NICU, and on very low levels of oxygen whenenver she's had her cannula, she's got a better chance of not developing ROP. It's nerve-wracking nonetheless, and we're happy that she passed her first exam with no abnormalities.

All in all, we are still so grateful that she is doing so well. Thank you for all your kind thoughts and prayers, as we're sure that they are what sustain all three of us day to day. We couldn't do it without each of you... the thoughtful notes, cards, emails, texts, blog posts, pictures, gifts... you are all so generous. May you each be blessed for your kindness...and don't you ever hesistate to call on us when we can be there for you.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Babies belong in their mother's arms...


Going through this difficult time... we try so hard to focus on the positive. We have so much to be grateful for...we have be so very blessed. Plus, complaining and focusing on the negative makes the minutes seem like days and they drag on and on. And yet...we're human. Steph and I seem to have a lot of talking time lately... long drives to the hospital, quiet moments at Avery's isolet, tired breaks betwen pumping. We try to motivate each other, look on the bright side, comfort and support one another. Most of the time, we just look at each other and laugh...what in the world happened to us three weeks ago!?!?! Sometimes...believe it or not...we actually complain.

I have my own reasons for why this has been hard...but for a minute, I want to give credit to my sweet wife Stephanie. She, like so many other mothers out there in similar situations, deserves a special award. Mothers in general earn a lifetime of gratitude from their children and the fathers of their children for the physical and emotional adventure of pregnancy they enjoy and endure to bring each of us into this life. The prize that waits at that journey's end...is for the mother to take her new child in her arms, and begin this new life together.

But for some moms...the time for them to savor that sweet moment is delayed. I can't tell you how full of gratitude our hearts are that our little Avery is so healthy and growing so strong! But...I can't tell you how difficult it is to see your amazing wife go through all the travails of pregnancy and the miracle of birth...and then leave the hospital a few days later...mother without a child.

Stephanie is so strong. I can't imagine how it must truly be for her. For me...it's amazing to be a part of my child's life at such an early stage...a time that is usually reserved intimately for mother and child. Now, she shares her private time with me and we walk these final weeks together. How do I ever make it up to her? What a gift I have been serendipitously given...but somehow at her expense. My promise to her, is to give her every moment of this life to mother her sweet children till this hole in her heart is overflowing...

I held my baby girl in the moments after her birth, and never wanted to let her go. I thought there would be nothing greater than just holding her in my arms. But then, a few short days later, I saw my wife take her baby in her arms...and the planets aligned in our little universe. This was how it should be, mother and child. There is nothing more right in this world than a baby in its mothers arms. And mothers need babies to hold...

In a perfect world...there would never be a millimeter of plexiglass between a mother and her child... but all the plexiglass in the world can't keep a mother's love from her baby...

So many of you who read this are mothers, with children of your own. I know that they are of all ages from grown to still in the womb. Each of us have our own difficult times to endure in this life...and have advice to give as we learn from them. I don't pretend to know very much at all about this life...but from what I have learned in these few weeks since we have had our baby...I do have this to pass on to you: hold your babies...hold on to them... cuddle them, rock them, tickle them. No matter how old they are...cherish that physical bond you have with them...whether you get it anytime you want...or it's for a few precious minutes twice a week. Don't ever take a single moment of it for granted...

We sit in the dim lights of the NICU and I watch Stephanie hold that sweet little girl and I see my whole world sitting there. The love I can physically feel coming from that little union opens up the pages of my life and I see days to come of laughing and playing, exploring and discovering, achieving and succeeding. There is nothing more that I enjoy nowadays, than seeing my wife hold our little girl. I don't quite understand why things are for us right now they way they are...but I do know this: There is a day coming, not too far off, when this wonderful little mom won't have to put her baby back after holding time. That day will make all of this worth it.

I love you Steph...Avery is the luckiest little girl in the world to have you as her mom.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

You Know You're a NICU Parent if: (pt 2.)

There was a lot of positive response to my sarcastic musings last time...so I figured I would make it an ongoing thing as they came to me... you're all still welcome to send me your additions to the list:

You know you’re a NICU parent if:

-your child bundles up like an Eskimo every time you come to hold her
-your child’s foot could guide Santa’s sleigh any foggy Christmas Eve
-you have a tendency to jam your knee into the cupboards at home trying to turn on the water to wash your hands
-you have scolded your child for having too low oxygen saturation or heart rate
-you sweat bullets when you change your child’s Kleenex sized diaper
-you look forward to the night that your baby’s cries wake you up
-you find yourself wondering if it’s petty to hope your child doesn’t develop a toaster-head, when it’s a miracle she’s even breathing!
-you see pictures of friends taking their kids to Build-a-Bear…and you think you’ve spotted a good Halloween costume for your baby
-you can tell when a picture of your child was taken based on the color of bedding
-you find out about cluster care the nurses are doing with your child, to avoid too much interruption, and wished your parents would have taken the same approach with you as a teenager
-people ask you if your child will need to pass a car-seat test to be able to come home, and you just smile as a picture comes into your mind of your baby and 4 of her friends from the NICU all sharing the same car-seat.
-you have a running game of “steal-the chair” with one or more nurses/respiratory therapists
-you have see angels wearing scrubs, and have looked through the windows of heaven by peering through the glass of an isolet

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Slide Shows

Some people have asked... so I wanted to say that if you just see an advertisement instead of our pictures, it means that the slide show has already run through. Just click the little "x" on the top right hand corner of the picture box...and it will show our pics again :)

Fridays....

Friday, July 18th, 2008...about 10:50 am

We've just moved into our new apartment in Orem. Steph is at work and I'm at home working on moving us in. It always seems to be a process that takes a few weeks! It's crazy to think that this is our 4th apartment to live in since we've been married... we lived in 3 in 2008! We were just in our last apartment for 2 months before it was sold to someone who wanted to live in it herself. We were bummed to move, because we loved that place...but figured it was better to move now rather than have it be sometime closer to October, when the baby was going to come. That would really be a pain! We were really lucky to find this place; it's been newly rennovated and it's one we can really see ourselves bringing a baby home to. (I will find out in a few weeks, when my mom comes to visit for the first time...that this apartment is next door to the one my parents brought me home to when I was born about 27 years before...)

We want to get as much moved in and put away as possible before we leave on vacation to Oregon next Wednesday...but it seems like every time I empty a box or put a pile away...another one forms somewhere! But we'll get it... I really want to be able to come home from vacation to a clean apartment. We just ordered the baby's crib, and it should be here by then. It will be nice to get a little nursery set up. We are really starting to get excited for this new arrival. Overwhelmed too. We'll have to talk about school and work and all that stuff when we get back too... so much to plan for. Will we really be ready by October??? That seems so soon! In any case, I try to get as much done as I can... we might not get it all done by the time we leave for Oregon...
Friday, July 25th, 2008...about 10:50 am
We're in Oregon visiting Dad, Mom, Danee and Haylee. It has been hard not having that side of the family around and we are taking what will probably be our last little road trip for a while to go see them- we were coming up on 28 weeks, so traveling would become too uncomfortable and then the baby would be here. We hadn't seen their new home yet, or the new puppies...and they hadn't seen Steph really pregnant just yet. She has just started to really show. Everyone is excited, because soon they will be grandparents and aunts for the first time! We have had a great time so far. This morning, we are getting ready to float down the river. The weather is perfect for it, and it's a nice low-key family activity that can be enjoyed, even when pregnant! The only damper we have experienced since we got here is that Steph has been getting bad stomach pains at night, and a few times during the day. We're getting exhausted from staying up all night; we're not sure what it is or what to do about it. It goes away after a while, with some Tylenol and a blessing...if it keeps up, we're going to call the doctor tomorrow...even if it's the weekend! But for this morning, we're all feeling good... so it's off to float the river!!

Friday, August 1st, 2008... 10 :50 am

I look down at Stephanie laying on the operating table. How in the world did we get here??? On one side of a blue sheet pinned up as a curtain, I can see her with a dazed look on her face that fits the situation perfectly. She doesn't really realize, but I have just been watching the other side of the curtain...and have see the doctor hand something to the team of nurses, who are over on the other side of the room, working busily as a team on something I cannot see....but know exactly what it is. Frozen in time, I think to myself.... this moment could be so great...and it could be so terrible. What do I do?? I've never done this before... what happens next??? Stephanie looks up at me...the anesthesiologist had said something about a baby...but could she be here already? It had only been 15 minutes or so...Stephanie looks to me as if for confirmation. I look over at the nurses and look back at her...these 20 seconds have seemed like hours. The silence is broken by the sweet little cries of our baby girl making her entrance into this life...10 1/2 weeks early. A nurse ushers me over to see...and before I realise what is going on...someone hands me my daughter....MY DAUGHTER??!?!??!?!??? This tiny face in a little pink and blue striped beanie looking up at me from a bundle of blankets....that's my baby??? I bring her over and show Stephanie her brand new little girl...



Friday, August 8th, 2008...10:50 am

We are in the NICU visiting our sweet little Avery. She has just been moved from room 3, which is where the babies who need extra attention are put, to room 2. It's a graduation of sorts, and we've learned quickly to appreciate and treasure every baby-step in the right direction. She has been amazing since day one...she never had to go on a ventilator, and has been breathing room air for days now on her own. She is doing well on mom's milk already and looks so good, as that new baby puffyness and redness has gone away. We can't get enough of our little bug...we even got to hold her this week already. You can hardly feel her, as the blankets she's wrapped in weigh more than her...but what a thrill to hold her! It's nice to be in this room now...we're neighbors with Zack...who is another little baby basically Avery's age and size, and their parents have gone through a lot of what we did...though they've already been here a while. It will be good to have them around to help give us advice and get us through this first little while. The Govea twins are right next to us too...which is really good for Steph, because it's really motivating for her to see those two cute, normal looking babies being rocked by their mom Stacy...because they tell us that those girls were even smaller than Avery at the beginning. We are so blessed to be at this point. Parents....PARENTS?????!!!?? To the sweetest little girl we could imagine. We are surrounded by amazing friends and family who carried us through a week we can't believe we survived. Someday...we might sell the movie rights :) I am super overwhelmed...I pretty much forgot that tomorrow is my 27th birthday!!...But for now, we will just count our blessings... we look up at the clock...and have a small celebration...our little girl is one week old :)

What a week...

I can only imagine what the Fridays of our lives have yet to surprise us with!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ry and Steph

We had some family pics today...and I had my sister-in-law snap a couple pics of Steph and me on the side.

We both got haircuts... and you'll have to see how great Steph is looking two weeks after having little Avery :) ...

I'm such a lucky guy...two beautiful girls.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How's your kid?

Haha... i just had a friend from our old ward ask me: How's your kid? So, I just dialed up the Avery Ann hotline and checked with the nurse. For those of you who don't know, included in the expensive daycare at the luxury spa is a service where you can call up anytime and get a run-down of how your little squirt is doing. It has actually been the greatest of comforts to be able to call and find out if that freak-out feeling that came to you in the middle of the night meant that there was something wrong- or that you should stop eating spicy foods late in the evening!

Avery is a champ. She's doing better again now that they got her off that milk fortifier. Her stomach went right down, and she's been doing well back on the gatorade mix. She actually gained another ounce, so that makes her 2 lbs 3 oz and keeps soaking her diapers :) Our favorite part is that they took everything off her face...she's not on oxygen anyway, and she doesn't need the feeding tube for a couple days. It was such a treat for us to see our sweet little girl's face! You can see pictures in the last slide show. You can also see that she loves doing the little bug thing:)You really just want to curl up next to her!

She graduated back up to the next room again (she was demoted when she got her tummy issues... but we're back)- so we're excited, because we're neighbors with our friends, the Forsyths, again...their son Zack and Avery have been betrothed by the nurses :) Their blog is under Allie and Jared on the right side of this page. It's so nice for us parents, because Avery and Zack are similar size and age, and Steph and Allie went through some of the same crazy times having babies. And of course, Jared and I have that same dazed look that fathers/husbands get when you go through things together. So basically we have our own little support group going on!

Thanks again to everyone for your love, support, texts, posts, emails and everything! We love hearing your stories, and love knowing of all the prayers that are carrying us along. Thanks to everyone who keeps offering help, and just know that we will definitely take you up on that offer when things come up! Here's one: make those stupid gas prices come down!! It's a long drive up there :) But seriously, you all are great... we look forward to taking each of you us on your offers for help...as soon as we figure out what we need!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Avery on day 13

Preemies and SIDS

We have had a couple of our friends email us with concerns that they see pictures of Avery sleeping on her tummy, because they have heard from their pediatricians that babies should be sleeping on their backs to avoid SIDS.

That's a good question. Based on what the doctors have told us, and what I've read in the book about preemies that I mentioned in an earlier post, things are a little different for premature babies in the NICU and full-term babies sleeping in their cribs at home.

Here is a list of reasons that preemies in the NICU will be sleeping on their tummies a lot, at least initially:
-prone (on the tummy) is the position that helps preemies avoid gastroesophageal reflux (spitting up)
-prone is also the position that allows preemies to have the maximum airflow, which means more oxygen and less apnea
-preemies also sleep better on their stomachs, with more of what they call "quiet sleep" which is an important sign of maturation and brain development
-sleeping on their back before they have enough normal muscle tone ends up causing back problems, and possibly leg issues
-prone also is just what most preemies prefer, which allows them to rest at lower stress levels, conserving energy.

The risk of SIDS in the NICU is super low also because the babies' heartrate, breathing, and oxygen saturation are constantly monitored.

Once the baby goes home... the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the same thing as any other baby... sleep on your back unless otherwise directed by your pediatrician.

On a personal note...it's so cute to watch Avery because from the first day, whenever they rolled her on her back...she would squirm and cry and fuss. Then, even in mid-air, as they flipped her back on to her tummy...like a switch, her eyes would close, and she'd curl up like a little bug and get cozy again!

Man...it's stressful being a parent!

There's no place like home...



http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,700250455,00.html

My mother-in-law just brought me an article from the front page of the Deseret News about some of the greatest people we have met lately. I don't think we had been in the NICU for more than a day, with questions beginning to pile up about how we were going to handle this new challenge before we met Stacy Govea. For questions about our baby's health, the nurses answered our questions... for questions about everything else...we were told multiple times by multiple people, "Oh, just wait till you meet Stacy...she'll love to talk to you about that!"

When we did meet Stacy, we were shocked to find out that she was the hip lady we had seen around the hospital already. When she told us she was not only the mother of the twins in the NICU, but also of three other kids back in Kansas, we were shocked again. Her friendly personality was absolutely sunshine in our cloudy skies.

It didn't take long before it was clear why even the nurses referred us to Stacy...she is honestly one of the most amazing people we've met. She is the best example of making the best of a tough situation. We thought that we had it tough living 45 minutes away from the hospital...She's from Kansas!! And she has been here since April! And yet, there is no one more upbeat, more positive, and yet realistic and relatable in the entire NICU.

So many times we have gathered hope and encouragement from conversations with Stacy; Stephanie made the Mary's (her girls are Mary Ellen and Mary Elizabeth) her personal rays of hope...because those girls were even smaller than Avery at birth, and now they are the cutest, chubby babies. Watching Stacy rock her girls, and talking to her about getting through the ups and downs of the road ahead of us has been one of the greatest blessings for us in our first few days in the NICU.

When Avery "graduated" up to the next room in the NICU...we weren't only excited because she was doing so well... but we also got to be next door neighbors with Stacy and the girls! The other day, they took pictures of the girls with little angel onesies.... which is very appropriate, because all three Govea ladies that we know have been angels for us.

The other day, we came in and heard that Stacy was back in Kansas... kind of a bummer for us... but this super mom was back there helping her other 3 kids school-shop!! I can't imagine how she and her great husband Bo are doing this. She told me after a good conversation about how to make it through the NICU as a couple that it's been so good for the family...and especially her and Bo "We're like a rock now!"...

Just yesterday we got the news that Stacy went home with Ellen...which is awesome...but they have been having trouble all along figuring out how to get Elizabeth home, because she's not completely machine-free. It's just flat-out too expensive to get her back home with her family in Kansas.

I just wanted to put our two cents in and encourage people to help gather donations for the Goveas and keep this sweet family together. They have been going through this since April...it's time that all 7 of them were together!!One of the first days, we joked about these little Kansas girls...and "no place like home"... Let's get them some ruby slippers and get them back to Kansas! Even if it's just a small amount, mail something to:
Govea Family Fund
c/o Bank of America
8440 West 135th St.
Overland Park, KS 66223

Forward this to any friends or family you know who could help.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

One step forward...two back...and one forward!! ;)



It's safe to say that we are going to rest a little easier tonight than last night. The call we knew would eventually come, came in the middle of cake and ice cream last night. Luckily, it was not the distressing emergency call that some people have gotten...but your child's neonatologist never calls just to say hello.

As was said in the last post, Avery's belly was swollen, which is something that alerts the doctors that digestion isn't happening too well. The doctor said that the initial x-ray and labs showed nothing too alarming, but they were going to cautiously monitor for NEC. Ever the armchair doctor, I had just read the section on NEC in my preemies book, so I kind of knew what to expect. The percentages are low for her to contract an infection like NEC...but only .04-.06% of all pregnant women get HELLP syndrome... so you can probably understand that low percentages don't give us the comfort they once did!

It's hard to describe the feeling you get when you hear that your baby, who is already in the hospital, is having some trouble. It's not like the brick wall that hit us when the nurse told us out of the blue that Steph was sick. It's more of a constant worry, like a pilot flame, and someone has their hand on the valve, and things like this just turn up the flame, and it will go down again...but never really away. You're always worried...

We left our family party and went to visit Avery. I'll never forget the feeling of that NICU room. When they have the lights dimmed at night, you can walk in, and one of your favorite nurses greets you...I don't know any place that feels more like home right now. Of course, there's nothing we can really do... Avery's life is in the hands of very competent doctors, nurses, and a merciful Heavenly Father. But for us, it made all the difference to sit there and be comforted as a little family by a kindhearted nurse.

The doctors took Avery off the milk and started her on anti-biotics, and monitored her throughout the day. Her belly measured smaller and smaller. She actually got up to 2 lbs 3 oz... and was only down an ounce when they weighed her tonight. They figure that her little GI tract just isn't mature enough to handle the human milk fortifier... which isn't a shock, still only being 31 weeks old. But at least it's not NEC.

So, she'll start back over: cc for cc of milk. This little girl already knows something of fighting your way through life. We're priviledged enough to be spectators to the great miracle that she's working her best to make happen. Surely the prayers and flood of texts and emails from friends and family sustained her tired parents... but sitting there as a small family... everything else melts away as we watch that tiny body; her perfect little face...and her chest rising and falling as calmly as a Sunday afternoon nap...there is no question who is to thank for the miracle of our more restful sleep tonight.