Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Whole Fam Damily

Originally,  my mom was going to be the only one that was coming to visit us when the baby came. Then when the baby came early it look like my mom would be here over Christmas. That left the rest of my family at home alone to celebrate without my mom or I. They decided that wasn't much of a christmas and that they couldn't wait till February to meet little Eden. So after a little thought my dad decided that it was best if the whole family came out to visit for Christmas. And by whole family, I mean whole family, My grandparents, both brothers and both sisters hopped in the van on Saturday the 21st and started driving towards Connecticut.
We were fortunate enough to have a friend/family of ours out of town for the Christmas holiday. They kindly offered us their home so that my family would have a place to stay while they were visiting. It was the perfect situation as our small little apartment would not accommodated my eight family members comfortably for meals and activities.They arrived around 5 o'clock in the evening and my sisters were the first to come bounding through the front door. Katie whisked the baby out of my arms and what the first to hold her. There were tears shed on her part as she was so excited to finally meet her little niece Eden. After that my family played pass the baby around and everyone looked at her with aw and amazement.
Shortly after their arrival we headed to the home in Darien where they would be staying. I don't think the baby ever spent a minute in her bassinet or on a pillow as everyone in the family was anxious to take their turn holding her. We play games, ping-pong, watched movies, played piano and sang. It was a fantastic time for everyone sitting around making memories.

My family had been planning to head to the city on Monday. Originally Mike was planning to drive them down and play tour guide. I would stay home with my grandparents and the baby. After putting a little thought into the activities of the day my mom decided I would be the best tour guide for my family. She generously offered to stay home with Eden as I took the family into the city. I was sad to leave my little one but knew this time with my family was to be treasured and we would be making memories. I also knew that my baby was in good hands, if there was anyone I trusted Eden with it with my mom. We drove down to the city on Monday morning. Unfortunately the forecast called for rain all day long and it was right. We spent the day trudging through the streets and rain. Usually I'm a little more prepared for trips like these. I do research on different things to do and find out the best times to do them. After having a baby, the sleepless nights, and spending time with my family I didn't have a lot of time to research. I thought that we could head to the city and see some of the most popular attractions without too much interference from the crowds, especially because of the rain. I was wrong, dead wrong. Our first stop was Macy's. While the window displays outside were everything I had dreamed of I was not anticipating the long lines to go to Santa land. I had heard of Santa land and just assumed it was something that you could walk through and see for a little bit. I figured you had to wait in line to actually meet Santa but didn't think it would take very much time just to walk through the Santa land area I was again wrong as the line was 3 1/2 hours. Not to mention getting up-and-down Macy's in the elevator as crowded as the store was. It was a nightmare. I was happy and relieved when we finally exited the store. We walked up the street and looked at the lights and the Christmas decorations.
We stopped at Shake shack for lunch, that was a good choice. Everyone loved it! We even got lucky enough to scope out two tables right next to each other for us to sit and eat. Quite an accomplishment I believe. After Lunch we walked through time square. We stopped at Toys R Us, the time square visitor center where we wrote our wishes for 2014 on the confetti they would drop at midnight, and the M&M store.

Prior to going down to the city we had purchased vouchers for skating in Central Park. We knew it might rain but we figured even with a little bit of rain we would still be able to ice skate.  We headed down to Central Park to look for the ice skating rink. We got to the place where we were supposed to transfer out voucher for the actual ice-skating tickets. They told us that the voucher place was closed but that the ice-skating rink was open. We trudge through the park for a LONG time looking for the ice-skating rink... In the pouring rain. This was probably the low point of our trip. I was 12 days postpartum and walking around the city trying to play tourist and the activity we'd been most looking forward to was turning out to be a nightmare. Of course because it was raining so hard the ice skating rink was closed. Mike got on the phone for about 30 minutes and finally was able to get a refund for our activity and we headed out to the Plaza hotel to see the Christmas decorations. Then we went to FAO Schwartz to see the toys. We walked down fifth Avenue admiring the lights and Christmas Decor on our way to Rockefeller Plaza. We saw the tree and all the Christmas decorations in the plaza. It wasn't as crowded as I had expected it to be. Elizabeth was in desperate need of a cup of spiced apple something or other from Starbucks. We found one and enjoy the warmth of the building and the rested a bit. After we were done we headed over to the Gershwin theater where Wicked runs. We entered the lottery and waited for the names to be called. Now, if you don't know I have somewhat of good luck when it comes to the wicked lottery. I've already won several times so I was confident that my luck would continue for my sisters to be able to see the show. My family was a little doubtful though and weren't planning on winning the lottery. To their surprise I won the lottery for the fourth time and gave the tickets to my sisters, the only ones who hadn't seen the show. I needed to get back to the baby so my dad, Mike and I drove home. While my siblings stayed in the city. My brothers walked around  and enjoyed the sights while my sisters saw the show. When they show was over they all took the train back to town.

The next day was Christmas eve and a little different than our traditional day. Traditionally we spend Christmas Eve caroling to several people and delivering my moms homemade bread. This year that was not the case. Instead, I took them to the tree on Gods Acre in New Canaan and we joined with hundreds of other in singing Christmas carols by candlelight. After that we went caroling to the family i babysit for. We took Eden with us and showed of our favorite Christmas gift. We came home and my siblings got into their Christmas Eve pajamas. We watch the movie elf and enjoy each others company. Not a bad way to spend Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Eden's 8 Day Stacation in the NICU

Preface: I never thought I'd have a baby in the NICU. I guess no parent really ever thinks that, it just happens. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the moms who had to leave their babies in the NICU. I remember when Becca, my sister-in-law, had Jackson in the NICU for so long. I would get teary eyes as I would think of how hard it must be for her to leave him each night. I was so impressed with how well she and her husband endured Jacksons stay. They always said it was the strength given to them by all the people praying for them. I didn't completely understand what that meant until I experienced it on my own. We have been sooo blessed that the only challenges Eden has had to overcome are weight gain, Jaundice and regulation of body temperature. Those are such small barriers to break and very common for a baby her age. She never needed to be on oxygen, she only spent less than 24 hours being feed from an iv (and that was only because of the magnesium in her little body. There are parents whose children are much sicker than mine and for her health I am truly grateful. I have been able to feel the strength from the prayer offered in our behalf and it is truly a humbling thing. They have sustained me and comforted me each night as I kiss her little cheeks and tell her goodnight before I go home. It's not an easy thing to do by any means, but I know being there is the best thing for her and as a parent you quickly learn to make any sacrifice, no matter how hard for you, if it will benefit your child. That doesn't mean that when I get home I don't fight back tears as I wish she was laying in my arms all curled up and warm. It doesn't mean I don't have to fight the urge to jump in the car at midnight so I can go be with her. It doesn't mean I don't wish I was getting up with her at 3am to feed her and not someone who can't possibly lover her the way I do. What it means is that when I have those overwhelming feelings of sadness that I can be with her, in those moments I am filled with the love of my Heavenly Father. For he truly knows how I am feeling. He sent his son to earth and watch him give his life for the redemption of his brothers and sisters. I can understand that great sacrifice a little better now. In the end I'll get to bring her home and I'll love on her all day and all night long. Then in a few weeks as the lack of sleep sets in I might even wish someone else was the one feeding her at 3am. For now though, I'll just be strong for her. I'll spend as much time with her as I can through the day. I'll rock her and sing to her and watch her sleep, knowing that very soon I'll be doing all of that in the comfort of my own home and not in the hospital.

Thursday Dec 12th

I thought being on the magnesium the day before was bad. Today it was so much worse. I had the hardest time keeping my eyes open because the room was spinning. I was so excited to have my friends Corinne and Tina stop by and visit with me for a while. I can't even explain how overwhelmed and grateful I am to all those who came to visit me while I was in the hospital. It meant so much to know people were thinking of me and also helped pass the time. I have another friend Yeounghee stop by and brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. By the early afternoon the NICU called and said Eden was doing so well they they could bring her down and have her do some skin to skin with me and see if she would latch to do a little nursing. I was sooo excited to see my baby girl. I was also really nervous that I was going to drop her or something. For the soul reason that I was so dizzy and weak that I could barely do anything for myself and I was afraid I wouldn't have the strength to hold her. Luckily, when you weigh less than 5lbs your not the hard to handle. I LOVED having her on my chest and talking to her. I was so sad when they took her away from me. It made me even more anxious to get off the medicine and get upstairs to see her again. I decided to try to sleep so that I could pass the time quick. Given my drugged up state it wasn't a surprise that when I woke up it was to the nurse coming to help me get up and move me upstairs to maternity. I was still really weak and needed help walking. They had to push me upstairs in a wheelchair. As soon as I got to maternity I told my nurse to take me to the NICU so I could hold my little girl again. Since she was doing well they had taken the IV with sugar water out and were feeding her a little formula. They let me feed her and I was surprised  by just how small she really was. I actually felt like I might break her. I wanted to stay with her for a long time but not eating for 48 hours was catching up with me as well as the magnesium still in my system. After an hour they wheeled me up to my room so I could eat. While I was eating my dinner Jordan and Amanda came by. I feel like Amanda should be having her baby any time now since her due date was only a week after mine. I have to remind myself we still have a month before her little one comes now. At 9 o'clock I went back down to the NICU for her 9pm feeding. She stole my heart as her tiny little mouth sucked on the bottle nipple that seemed as big as her head. She had done so well the past 24 hours and was even in just a bassinet. Her nurse seemed to think she'd probably get to go home with me the next day. I tried not to get to excited but I was really hoping that she was right.



Friday Dec 13th

I spent a lot of the morning between the NICU and my room. When I got to the NICU in the morning the doctors told me that she had lost a lot of weight overnight and her temperature was low. I learned that babies have a hard time regulating their body temperatures. They try to keep their bodies warm and use a ton of energy doing that. They also need to use a lot of energy to eat. If they don't eat enough food to account for the energy the expend eating and keeping warm they loose weight and at 4lbs 15oz she doesn't have a lot to loose. Since she had gotten to cold and lost weight they knew she was working to hard to stay warm so they put her in the isolate. She would need to be in there for a few days till they could be sure she was able to keep her body temp up on her own. They also said her bilirubin number (the number that indicates if they have jaundice) was up and that she may need to go under the lights the next day. I tried not to be disappointed that she wasn't going home with me, but it was still hard to know we would be sleeping in different places that night. I was discharged and got to go home. When I got home Mike had cleaned up and gotten me a balloon that said it's a girl as well as written me a sweet note.  It was so wonderful to be home. I wan't home very long before it was time to go back to the hospital for the 3pm feeding. Mike and I went over together for that and we just gawked at every little face she made. We even face timed family into the feeding to show off our little beauty. Mike read Eden her very first story. It was such a tender moment, so many emotions as he read her the story "Someday" that describes perfectly how I feel about her. We ran a few errands in between feedings. My mom was impressed that I was out running errands 48 hours after having a baby. I just laughed... it's my personality. I don't know how to relax or sit still. I always have to be moving and accomplishing. We went back at 6 and did her feeding. When I put her back in the isolate she was wide awake and looking right at me. My heart broke in two and I finally wasn't able to stay strong anymore. I cried. Mike was surprised and didn't know what to do. I never cry, he never has to console me. I'm to "strong" to let my emotions get to me to often. But this time I couldn't help it, I had to leave my beautiful, tiny little girl all alone with people who didn't love her like I did. I reminded myself that I was not the first person to leave my child and that I was lucky that she wasn't sick, just tiny. I prayed that she would feel my love for her through the night and that she would know that I wanted to be with her. It was hard to leave her, but I finally pulled myself together enough to leave. We ran to target before coming home. Megan and Nate stopped by with some baby essentials for us. So kind. We have just been so blessed by others.

Saturday Dec 14th

We went to the hospital for the 9am feeding. They told me she had lost weight again and that her bilirubin had gone up again and that they were going to put her under the lights for 24 hours. After we feed her they undressed her, put little goggles on her and turned on the lights. She whimpered for a few minutes. She did not like having the goggles on. It broke my heart. I also hated that I wasn't able to pick her up and hold her when I wanted since she had to be under the lights. I went home between feeding and grabbed my iPod to put in the isolate so she would have something calming to listen. I didn't want her to feel like she was alone. She couldn't see anything because of the goggles so she couldn't see that people were close by. I wanted her to at least have something she could hear. We savored all the feeding when we were allowed to get her out and hold her for a minute. As hard as it was we would put her back in as soon as possible so that she could get the most time under the lights. This was in hope of her only needing to be under them for one day. Since she wasn't as alert as she had been the past few days we felt like she needed to have a priesthood blessing. It was such a sweet moment for me as I held her in my arms and Mike gave her a blessing that she would grow stronger each day and come home to us soon. I could feel the great love of Heavenly Father for this special, choice spirit that has come to our home. I knew that now she would be on the right track and was confident we would see progress soon.

Sunday Dec 15th

I went over before church so I could see her. I held her little hand from inside the isolate since it wasn't time to feed her. My mom came over to do the 9am feeding so I could go to church with Mike. A lot of people were surprised I was there. I felt like that was where I should be after the week I had. I had missed church the week before since I was in the hospital; and I figured once the baby came home I wouldn't be able to go for a while. My heart was also so full of gratitude and thanks to my Heavenly Father that I had to go and worship him. We left before the third hour so we could go see Eden. Her bilirubin number was down so she was allowed to be out of the lights, but she lost weight so she had to stay in the isolate. This was progress though, so I took it as a win. My mom and I stayed at the hospital with her the rest of the day. Feeding and watching her. There wasn't anything else I'd rather be doing.


Monday Dec 16th

She lost a tiny bit of weight the night before, but not a lot. She had been doing well with her temp so she was allowed to come out of the isolate. That meant we'd be able to hold her a little more. She was still taking her sweet time eating and so I had to stop nursing her so that I didn't make her to tired before she was given the formula. We were trying all types of tricks to make her eat more. We also held our breath each time we took her temp, hoping it would be high enough to keep her out of the bassinet Mike came over on his lunch brake and helped with the noon feeding. Mom and I again stayed till 7 with a quick trip to Target in between feedings. We were able to hold her more since she was in a bassinet. It was fun to play with her a bit more. We noticed she had a little pirate face she would make by keeping on eye open and one eye closed. She also would fight sleep if we were holding her. This would result in her eyes being open just the tinniest bit as she was going in and out of sleep. Cutest thing ever.

Tuesday Dec 17th

When I got to the hospital in the morning they told her she had again lost a tiny bit of weight (we are talking 9 grams.) However, her body temperature was still pretty good. They had done the car seat test on her and she had passed with flying colors. Now we just needed her to get her weight up. Then we could take her home. To help her gain weight they put her on a high calorie formula. I'm pretty sure she doesn't like it given the faces she makes when we give it to her. lol. The nurse that was assigned to her that day was great. She taught me a few feeding tricks. I have to remember feeding is a business, especially with a light weight like her. So I had to buckle down and stop cuddling her to much while I feed her, that was to relaxing and putting her to sleep. She didn't eat great, but she did better than the day before. Mom and I have a routine now. We stay most of the day but sneak out between one feeding to run errands. I'm SOO glad I have my mom with me. It makes being there so much easier when you don't feel like your all alone. Not to mention after 5 kids she is the baby whisperer and knows ALL the baby tricks. I don't know what I would do with out her.

 Wednesday Dec, 18th

She gained weight! A whole 5 grams but it was good enough to get us on the up swing. The doctor said if she gained a lot of weigh today she could probably go home tomorrow. We kept her on track at each feeding. I would nurse her for 5 min and she would do such a good job with that. Then my mom would feed her while I pumped. She was drinking at least 40 mls each feeding as where yesterday she was lucky to do 30 ml (Monday she was only doing 20-30mls so this was big progress.) I did some skin to skin time with her for 2 hours after her 3 o'clock feeding. It was such a sweet special time I wonder why I didn't do it before. I sang to her and talked to her and almost feel asleep with her. She woke up a few times to fuss a bit, probably because she was to hot, but she always went right back to sleep after I told her she was ok. It was one of those moments I'll always cherish. Rocking my sweet tiny little one. She'll never believe she was once able to fit so snugly on my chest. When I said goodbye to her that night I told her she wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom till after they weighed her. We were hoping for a big weight gain so that she could come home with us the next day. They typically weigh them around 9pm. So at about 9:45pm I called to see how the 9pm feeding went and see what the weight was. I about feel off my chair when they told me she gained 64 grams!! We were soo excited. We had a pretty good feeling they'd let her go home in the morning. I decided to celebrate I would skip my 3am pumping session and get one last 6 hour stretch of sleep before she came home :)

Thursday Dec 19th

When we got to the hospital the NICU staff was really busy so we started the feeding. We were so anxious for someone to come tell us what the plan was. When the nurse, Kristin, finally came in she asked what our plan was for taking her home. We were so excited we basically squealed. I told the nurse we wanted to take her home as soon as possible. I texted Mike and told him the good news and he wrapped up a few things and came to the hospital. It felt like it took forever to fill out all the paper work and go through the motions of discharge. The one thing I was extra excited about was having all the leads and wires taken off of her. It is going to be so much easier to handle her without those on her. They gave us all the info we needed and a nurse walked the baby down to the car. I almost couldn't believe she was coming home with me! When we finally got situated I sat down on the couch and held her in my arms. I almost cried. It felt SO good to hold my little one on my own couch in my home. It was finally real. She was here and she was mine. Life had finally begun. I'm so much more nervous about taking care of her than I thought I would be. I'm worried that if I let her out of my sight for 5 seconds somethings might happen. I just have to remind myself that babies survive with far worse parents than me and that I will catch on, and quick. I finally understand that deep, powerful, overwhelming love that parents talk about. I would do anything for this little one and feel so lucky to be her mommy. I'm looking forward to this great journey called parenthood. :)