Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Sure, when it was all fresh and stitchy, it was gross. I tried not to mess with it anymore than I had to for cleaning and water. Because... ew. Stitches. In my BODY, people! It was a freakshow. I was not amused. But then the stitches dissolved, the glue started to peel, and things started getting back to normal. Now the scar is indented and fading from red to purple, and I actually find watching the change in it over time compelling. I enjoy seeing it change. I'm proud of the fact that I have that permanent reminder of just what I went through to have Pike. Would I be just as proud if I'd had a vaginal birth? Sure! But that's not how it happened, and this is the evidence of that. It's a fading snapshot of what we experienced, and I can't picture myself ever being upset to have that.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
- He is getting closer to mobility all the time. He can push up onto his wrists and look around. I think seeing the kids at daycare crawl is actually motivating him to some degree.
- Pike's grabbing things. Not a lot, but when something is put in front of him, he latches onto it.
- He giggles. He smiles. He laughs. He's slightly ticklish. It is AWESOME.
- Fussing as a means of communication has become more common. He's understanding that when he fusses, he can tell us something is wrong. We're working to show him that other indicators and vocal cues have the same effect, but in the meantime it's interesting seeing what his "I'm fussing because I want __" sounds like.
- He got his second round of shots last week. He weighed in at 11 lbs 13 oz, and is now around the fifth percentile for length and width and the 25th percentile for head size - on the NORMAL growth curve. No more premie stuff for our little man! The doctor said he can start trying rice cereal come January to see how he likes it, and he doesn't need his breast milk or formula fortified with the 22 calorie stuff anymore. She also said he's on the path to teething with his bottom two front teeth. Yay?
- One of the biggest changes is that he's now in home care while Wes and I work during the week. I'm happy to say that it's going really well. He's been happy and clean and in good shape every day, and like I said above, I think seeing the other babies and toddlers doing things is making him wonder if he can do them too, which is very cool.
- Mostly, he's just absolutely adorable. We're still just feeling plain old lucky that we have a really awesome kid who is doing all kinds of cool things and who is healthy and happy despite having had a bit of a rough start.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
But I loved the way I looked pregnant. Sure, I had some extra chub in my face, and I got a few new stretch marks (expected - I already had some just from puberty, weight gain, etc.), but it was cool seeing Nooblet growing and changing and me changing with him.
After I had Pike, I was really too busy healing and worrying about him to sweat what I looked like much. I had my first surgical scar and getting that healed was my biggest physical concern.
I was floored by the fact that when I went back to work a week after Pike's birth, I was actually below the weight I'd been when I got pregnant. Some things (my stomach) were flabbier and a little more stretch-marky, but my weight had dropped quicker than I'd thought possible. Over the next few weeks, my muscles began to regain some tone, and soon I was fitting into regular pants again.
My weight has now evened out. I'm about where I was before I got pregnant, and give or take in the same place in terms of my measurements/fitness level. Maybe slightly below that on cardio, but it's coming back up. But I don't hate it. I don't look in the mirror and get grossed out by the fact that I'm a little more lumpy. I'd truthfully expected to. It doesn't hurt anything that Wes doesn't care about the stretch marks and the scar and any extra, um, curves that may have been a byproduct of having Pike. Let's face it, being wanted is always an ego boost, always a bump to your self confidence. So for now, while I'm not going to stuff my face without thinking of the consequences, I'm not in the market for a major diet or a body makeover. I'm really, really okay for right now with being me and being a mom.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
I don't know if I could be a mommy all on my own. It's what my mom did with my sister and for most of my life, and I have no idea whether I could. I'd make do if I had to, of course. How much Pike means to me is kind of shocking whenever I think about it, but at least part of what I love about having my son is having our family. I love watching Wes cuddling with him, watch them playing together.
I love the idea that Pike has a daddy who really cares about him. Wes wants to make his life good and wants to make sure he's happy and healthy and growing and learning. So I guess I'm not the only one who's lucky. I have an amazing husband who also happens to be an amazing daddy, and that makes all three of us pretty dang lucky.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
I honestly thought I'd be happy to be going back to work, tired of sitting around the house, ready for adult companionship. I'm a modern, strong, independent chick, right?
Um, maybe not so much.
Because, see, if I had the chance at all, I'd be staying home with Pike instead. I have a job I love, co-workers that I seriously adore... and I'd still stay home with my baby. I think he'll do great at the home care place we've selected. The lady who runs it is awesome, there aren't a lot of kiddos there, and we already did a meet 'n' greet and she thought Pike was adorable. He'll be fine. Thing is? I'm gonna be a mess. I don't want to be away from him. I don't want to miss him smiling when he wakes up from his nap and cooing and giggling when somebody makes a funny face at him. I don't want to miss him learning and growing and changing and just seeing him for a few hours at the end of the day - if that.
So I think Pike will be great. I think he'll be fine, he'll adjust. I'm just really worrying about whether I will.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
- Pike got to meet his great grandma last week. As you can see, he was in an excellent mood for it.
- My baby boy has officially grown out of his newborn clothes. OMG.
- Pike is grinning (as you can also see) sometimes, and he's on the verge, I think, of figuring out how to laugh.
- His head holding up is coming along. We're pretty sure he'll be getting steady with it in another couple weeks. Heaven knows he enjoys bopping his head around and looking at things. We just can't figure out what he's looking at most of the time.
- Several times in the past week, he's slept from 4-6 hours at the start of the night with a shorter nap following that. Let me tell you, it's bliss.
- He's making more and more sounds all the time. He's got a few non-verbal vocal sounds that are his favorites. Check out some of the videos of him I've put on YouTube if you want to hear more. Slowly but surely he's learning he doesn't necessarily have to cry to get attention but can "talk" to us instead - though crying is apparently still more fun most of the time.
- His hair color seems to be shifting a little. It's got a faint auburn touch to it rather than being simply brown. Super cute. I hope my baby is part ginger.
- He's articulating the connection between his hand and mouth better. He can't suck his thumb well yet, but he's getting his fingers and fist up there more often when he wants to.
- He's started fighting sleep/naps sometimes because he's becoming more aware of and interested in his environment and people. Which is not fun for us at times, but is still cool.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Yeah, okay, so this is a couple of weeks late. But I just remembered, okay! This Halloween was Pike's first. We talked in circles about what to do costume wise, but Wes really fell in love with pirates. It turned out to be the absolute perfect idea.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
- Obviously, he's learned to flip people off. Just not intentionally yet.
- We had his weight wrong from the home measurements, but he is double his birth weight. Go Pike!
- He's sleeping less and being awake and alert more. This is both a blessing and a curse. More time with him and his googly little eyeballs, but less time to get things done. Ah well. Things are overrated anyway.
- For the first time, he's had some really rough nights. This past week, mommy had two nights where she only got a couple hours of sleep. Thank god it didn't last longer than two nights or I might have gone postal.
- Putting him in his sling and having daddy (totally does not work if it's mommy) carry him around is a pretty sure fire way to get him both quiet and asleep.
- We still haven't decided what to do about Halloween. We want it to be adorable, but we can't justify spending thirty bucks on something he'll wear once. After all, this year is for us, not really for him. We'll figure it out eventually. And it will be precious.
- Pike's fingernails grow amazingly fast, it seems like. The little daggers must be filed constantly. His toenails are, thankfully, far slower.
- He's starting to make happy faces more. Not smiles, really - at least not when he's awake - but it seems like he's beginning to discover an ability to make expressions apart from being fussy.
- His neck muscles are definitely getting stronger since he's holding his head up better. Not all the way there yet, but he's able to bob himself around a bit.
- He seems to react to being tickled more. He doesn't giggle, but he wriggles and is in general a lot more animated about the whole thing.
- At his last bath, he finally didn't scream like a banshee the whole time. Either he's getting used to the torture or he's actually starting to like it.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
- He can lift his head, neck and shoulders up... when he wants to. He's getting stronger all the time. He's also able to keep his head up with minimal support for short periods of time.
- He is fascinated by staring at lights: the window, the night light, etc.
- He's not sleeping well at night at the moment. Apparently he's in a phase of wanting to stay up with mommy and daddy instead - or sleep on top of them. Not restful for us.
- Some of the jammies that were too big before now fit properly. His little footsies actually go down into the feet as is appropriate.
- Pike is now 8 pounds 9 ounces - in other words, double his birth weight. While in most things on a chart he's beneath the 5% mark, his head is at 25% in circumference. He has a huge melon and big ol' feet.
- When we're out of newborn diapers, he'll officially be in size 1. His booty is getting bigger too.
- He's starting to be more interested in pacifiers, possibly because he's able to hold onto them better than before instead of them just falling right out of his little mouth.
- This goes without saying, especially if you can see the pictures here, but he's freaking adorable. Just had to throw that in there.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
- SIDS be damned, Pike is a side sleeper. Which, actually, his pediatrician says is fine. Thankfully. Cuz if you put him on his back, he WILL roll onto his side immediately.
- He has acid reflux and has to take zantac. Weird, right? But it does help. Unfortunately for him, it apparently also tastes like goat pee judging from the faces he makes when we give it to him.
- Pike is apparently ticklish. Sometimes he gets all squirmy and almost smiley when we tickle his tummy or feet. Same goes for when the puppies lick the same locations.
- This is more a puppy observation than a Pike observation. We've been surprised to find that Otis is the most paternal of the puppies, watching over Pike and being uncharacteristically sweet and gentle with him. Sophie gets super concerned whenever Pike cries and is finally bold enough to lick him a little and let him touch her. Fang is the least interested in Pike of all - the exact opposite of what we'd anticipated. Of course, given how bonded he is with Wes, I think he's just feeling the pinch of losing out on his own daddy time.
- He's doing well lifting his head already when we do tummy time. Not for long stretches yet, but if he wants to see something on the other side of him, he by god gets it up and over. He's also good about scootching along if you put your hand against his feet for him to brace against.
- Socks and mittens are pointless. They last thirty seconds if we're lucky. So we have to deal with a lot of nail filing to prevent a scratchy face and trying to keep him covered to prevent icy fingers. At night it's all about footie pajamas. Those are a lifesafer.
- He hates having his clothes changed. Seriously. He screams the whole time. But as soon as the clothes are on? BAM! Fine.
- He has sized up from premie to newborn diapers (feel free to get us more! lol), and has done the same in clothing, although some newborn stuff is actually still a bit loose.
- Pike's hair is roughly the same as mine and my sister's were at his age - a sort of dark blond. He did inherit a pretty red cast to it from his daddy, though, which is awesome. So far it looks like he'll have Wes' pretty blue eyes. Also awesome.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
I haven't had the time or inspiration to write, but I still wanted to share a little cuteness with you all. Pike is doing great and getting more active and alert all the time. I swear I'll get a real blog up soon but I hope this tides you over until then!
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
It's kind of like we just paid off our car and it finally really belongs to us. Except better. Have I mentioned I'm not terribly clever when I'm tired? Ah well - the point is that our baby's coming home, and I'm ridiculously excited :D
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
When Pike was first put in the NICU, he was on a breathing aide thing that blew air into his nose. This is because although his lungs were well developed, his nervous system wasn't. So he could breathe, but if he fell too deeply asleep, he'd forget to. The breathing apparatus plus caffeine kept him from falling asleep too deeply and kept reminding him to breathe. He is now off of both and breathing just fine all on his own with no reminders.
It's hard being apart from Pike, and it makes everything a little surreal. We're parents, but our baby is so far away so much of the time. We just eager to have him with us all the time and have our little man home.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Since it has left us in a rough spot, we're putting this button up. If you can help us with our medical expenses, which will range from the care flight I had to take to Pike's time in the nicu (which he's not likely to come home with us from until close to his original due date in late September) to renting a hospital grade pump so I can get him milk... well, we'd be grateful. I'm not huge on begging for cash, but right now I'm not so silly as to not admit we need help. A lot of our friends and family have helped already. If you find that you have a spare five dollars over the next few months, though, it will seriously go a long way for us. If you're not comfortable with PayPal, just comment or email and we'll figure something out.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
So first the short details (and a spoiler on how this long tail ends) that are always first on everyone's mind:
- His name is Pike Alexander Howard
- He was born Aug 7, 2011 at 8:18am.
- He was 7 weeks premature and weighed 4 lb and 2 oz
- He was 17.25 inches long
So the road to the delivery room was harrowing and very sudden. To start with, Beth had had a normal stress free pregnancy all along. No complications and a enviable small amount of morning sickness. All sonograms and measurements were normal, her weight gain was on target and healthy, and all markers that regular prenatal care monitors were exactly what expecting parents and their doctors want to see.
The only major discomfort that she had was regular Braxton Hicks contractions. These are the practice contractions that a pregnant body goes through to tone the muscles for The Big Push. On Monday we spoke to the midwife about them and she gave us some parameters and told us that if these contractions ever exceeded this to go to the ER and be checked for pre-term labor. If this was found to be the case it was treatable and the labor could be slowed and even stopped and put off until the right time.
Saturday we went to visit a friend in Wichita Falls. On the way home the Braxton Hicks started at about the same time they had been starting nearly every day all week. We got home and she bathed and everything calmed down for a bit. Around 10:00 pm they started again and we started tracking them loosely. She got a small break from them, but at 11:00pm we were tracking more closely and by 11:30 we realized that she was getting the Braxton Hicks contractions at a pace that was the "Honey It's Time" rate that we were coached for by our birthing class.
We hustled to the car and drove to the ER expecting a sleepless night and standard labor slowing treatment and then a return home. We arrived at the ER and I signed the paperwork at 12:25 am exactly. We were taken immediately from the ER to a labor room which is standard practice for what our expectations were at that point. The nurse in the labor room took Beth's blood pressure, switched to a new size cuff, switched arms, and finally had to admit that the readings were not an error. She consulted the on call doctor from our midwife's office and started the process of admitting us. She told us that the contractions seemed to have stopped, which Beth agreed to, but that the blood pressure was at a very critically high level and the doctor was on her way in.
She started going over the things we needed to be concerned about and how they would treat them. She ended by saying that if things continued that the only real way to get Beth's BP down was to deliver the baby. At this point it seemed a little surreal and like a far off possibility. Blood labs were done and the technician was finishing as the doctor came in and the doctor made a very firm point with the tech that these needed hand-to-hand delivery and priority processing.
The doctor went over with us what she was concerned about and again the subject of delivery was brought up. She told us that there were a couple of possible conditions that we could be experiencing here and that the blood work would confirm that. In any case they were brought on my the pregnancy and the only real way to fix them was for Beth to stop being pregnant. She then went on to say that she wanted to transfer us to another hospital because if things did not reverse we needed to be someplace with a level 3 Neo-natal ICU.
At this point it still seemed like a far off possibility that we would be giving birth soon, but it was very clear that Beth was going to have a hospital stay of at least a day so I went ahead and called Beth's mom and left a message for her explaining the situation and to not worry or rush up, but that we wanted her to know what was happening. I also started getting a hold of my friend Chris to see if he could come get a house key from me and help us out with the dogs if I wasn't able to get home in a reasonable time. This was about 1:50 am
They explained the blood work results to us and explained that what was happening was referred to as HELLP Syndrome (Read about it on Wikipedia) in addition to gestational hypertension. By now she was vomiting and being monitored for seizures and had one hell of a headache. Later as I was heading in to the ER one of the delivery nurses told me that we had probably arrived at the ER just in time.
The staff came in and told us that they were talking to the doctors at Lewisville Medical Center and that we would be going there. I asked about driving or if Beth would go by ambulance. The doctor told us that she would go by ambulance and that I would have to travel separately and that Careflight was on their way. I noted that I did not know that Careflight operated regular ambulances and she corrected me at told me that she would be flying there.
The Careflight team showed by about 2:10 and started getting her loaded on their gurney. I talked to the crew captain, Scott, and got expected travel times from them, confirmed by understanding of where we were going, and decided to leave with a head start. I handed off the key to Chris who was just getting off the elevator and gathered everything we had brought with us and then started out the door to drive while they finished loading Beth in hoped of getting there shortly after them.
I went ahead and called Beth's mom, Barb, again while on the road and told them that things were looking more like we were going to deliver but that it was still only a possibility. I told her to get some reast and maybe throw some things together in case I called her later to come on up. She made the very good decision to let Beth's sister sleep. If not for this no one would have been fit to drive, so Kathy was a life saver there. I also left a message for my brother, Shannon, and told him about what was going on and the possibilities but told him that it was still a far off thing.
In hindsight I have to say that putting all the conversations we had up to that point together they were doing more than telling us it was one possibility that we would give birth today. It was a well executed introduction of stressful news in bite sized bits that allowed us to handle it well. There had never really been any "maybe" about it when talking about delivering. I just did not realize it yet.
I missed my exit by a couple miles and doubled back to the hospital and still managed to beat the helicopter. I watched it land and then them unload Beth. Later she told me that they were delayed when the battery on the lift mechanism on the gurney died and they had to get 6 orderlies from the ER to assist them in lifting several hundred pounds of steel with a pregnant lady on top into the air ambulance.
We got hustled up to the maternity ward and got settled in our room right around 2:45 am and the nurses started getting Beth comfortable and processed in. We went over the possible outcomes with just a little more emphasis on the delivery possibility. We were given a talk about the process of a c-section and how premature babies are handled. A neo-natal ICU nurse came by and talked us through what to expect and gave me a trip back to show me where everything would happen and gave us the procedures for the post-birth process and explained the roles of everyone that would be there. They also started shaving and prepping the c-section site - "just in case".
The anesthesiologist came by and told us that due to the condition Beth was in she was uncertain of whether she would use a spinal or a general anesthesia. We were prepared for how each would play out. General would mean that Beth would not see the baby until the next day. This was due to the fact that Beth would not be allowed back into the NICU until she was done with the medication treatment she was on which was a regimen that would end 24 hours after delivery. A spinal meant that she would get to see, but not hold, him at birth and then not see him until the next day. She asked if we had a name picked out and we told her it was a secret until he was born.
I called Barb again at 4:45 am and held the phone so Beth could talk to her. We told her that we were getting the impression that we were past the point of no return and that they should start out.
We were still told that a lab panel would be done at 6:00 am, the doctor would look at it at 7:00 am, and we would deliver at 8:00 am. It was really apparent to me that the 6:00 am labs were not so much a confirmation of the course of action, but more like a last minute call from the governor. They ran the labs a bit early and came in and started getting us ready to go. I called a few more key people and let them know what was going on and started getting ready.
We met with the doctor that would do the c-section and he carefully explained why we were at this point and more detail on what HELLP was and that there was no real reason known for it to start, and that reversing it was not working. He told us that it was medically better for mother and child to deliver quickly while it was just an urgent situation rather than letting it become emergent. He told us that the reason this started with no prior warning was just how it went and that due to the urgency trying to answer the question of why really took a back seat to just getting on with delivery and restoring everyone to health.
I got dressed in my gown and hat and made the last minute calls to Beth's mom as I sat in my spot outside the OR and waited to be called in. I was hustled in and given my seat next to Beth's head while the doctors were already starting. I watched the neo-natal team march in and take their places. Beth was experiencing a little panic and claustrophobia from the spinal and I tried to reassure her. She could not feel herself breath and thought that she just couldn't. After a moment the anesthesiologist asked us what the name was and we told her Pike right as I saw a baby hand lifted above the curtain and the neo-natal team took over as we heard the first cry. Beth was so fixated on the warming table across the room and the look on her face was intense and anxious.
They called me over and I got to take a few pictures after touching him for a moment. We told him over to show Beth and she touched his cheek and then the nurse held him so we could take a picture of them together. It was only a few seconds and then he was taken from her and I followed him back to the NICU.
The NICU staff let me watch them measure him and have a moment of contact before they had to ask me to leave so they could do the next phase of critical evaluations done. I went back to our room and waited for Beth to come back. I held the phone for Beth and let her tell her mom the news. I made a call to my Mom and my Brother and gave them the news.
Beth continued to have blood pressure issues and was in a lot of pain throughout the day. Her mom and sister arrived at our place. Beth and I were planning to get the Labor Room and Recovery Room bags together this week so had nothing with us at all. I talked them through getting a few things before going over to see Pike at noon. When I was done and came back to our room I gave Barb and Kathy the last list items of things to bring and they headed up to see us and finally arrived in the hospital right before 2:00 pm.
We went down to see him after they said their hellos and I oriented them on where all the things Beth needed were located and explained the procedures for visiting the NICU. Barb and I went back at 4:00 pm for touch time and I held him for the first time after his first ever bath. Premature babies do not have a fully developed breathing reflex and the energy he spent fussing at the bath caused him to fall asleep and stop breathing while I held him. The team in the NICU was really calm and professional and got him back to breathing without even taking him out of my arms. When I put him back in his bed they started getting him ready for being put on a ventilator to help stimulate him enough that he would be safe.
I brought back his hat that they put on him in the delivery room and gave it to Beth. She clutched it to her and when it was set down while shifting her and she lost track of it she became very anxious, She has had it with her ever since.
We went home shortly after and got some much needed sleep. By now I had been up 36 hours and was starting to really feel it. We got up early the next morning and ade it to the NICU in time for the 8:00 am touch time and I quietly celebrated his 24 hour birthday by cleaning up his poop for the first time.
Beth continued to have issues and her blood pressure would not come down. Finally around noon they made a medication switch and she was a different person. the vomiting was nearly gone and she was able to try getting up. Eventually she got in a wheel chair and at 4:00 pm we went to the NICU together for our first time all together as a family and her first time ever with a now 32 hour old Pike. Beth was finally able to hold him.
Pike will stay on a respirator for a while. They have told us from the beginning that premature babies usually stay in the NICU until their actual due date which means around 7 weeks. There is always a chance he could be ready early, but they have been careful to set our expectations at the full term level.
So that is the story. I will say that the experience with all the people at both Denton Regional and Medical Center of Lewisville hospitals was great. There was a very reassuring consistency in how everyone handled us from start to finish in the level and frequency of communication as well as the cheerful and reassuring attitude they had. The fact that everything was not only the same high level as we went through two shifts of nurses in multiple places was great. I was also especially impressed with how each person that came in contact with us from Doctors to the various nurses and technicians was such an identical experience in how they talked, how they acted, how they empathized, the level of concern they showed. In meeting about 20 people through the ordeal every one followed the same careful patient management template and was so genuine in their concern for our comfort and well being. The whole thing was made much easier because of this. It should be noted that both hospitals are in the same medical group which no doubt added to the consistency.