Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ready or not!!

Pepper is coming home on Saturday! Whether or not we are mentally prepared for this is the big question. Of COURSE we will be just fine, and OF COURSE everything will work out, but this is just slightly stressful. I'm having surgery tomorrow morning, I should be home by noon, have half the day to recover then it's off to the hospital first thing Saturday to pick her up. We're excited, I just hope that I'm feeling ok enough to do a good job taking care of her! I guess in a way, it will be just like I just had her, I will be sore and tired and want some sleeeeep! Anyway, she is doing fantastic, she is off the oxygen and that feeding tube is gone forever! She's almost cordless! She looks so different without stuff all over her face! 

As far as visitors go, we are encouraging family and friends to wait a while to come see her. Her immune system is still immature and she can't handle very much stimulation. We are excited for everyone to meet her and we love having company, but we just can't take any risks with her health right now. Doctor's advice. Besides, she should still be in my tummy until Easter. I've thought of putting her back in, but I don't think it works that way.  ;)
We love you all!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Shenanigans of the Hooligans

These boys are keeping us young. Some days I wonder where in tar-nation they came from, they are so hilarious. Ah the things they come up with. I often find myself thinking, "Who are these little mini-men we're attempting to raise?" I honestly can't even stand it, they are so funny. I feel like I missed something while I was pregnant and down. Suddenly Jared can sound out words and he has a crush on a girl. Everything is 'freaking' this and 'dang' that. He found an owl feather in his closet(??) on Friday night and brought it to me. He said "Mom, this is what cowboys use to write letters. Can I write a cowboy letter?" So we got out some food coloring and paper and he wrote letters to everyone. Cute little fake cursive letters, in envelopes. He wrote everyone's WHOLE name on the front. He thinks his Dad's middle name is 'Jones'. It's Joseph. Jared wants to be very independent, he seriously acts like a teenage boy who just got his driver's license. Now that I'm back to being Mom he's acting very surprised about the rules. What? I have to put pajamas on to go to bed? Why can't I eat at your computer desk? What's this slimy stuff you are putting in my hair? The other day I came upstairs and he was watching a very gory documentary about gorillas being slaughtered in Africa on Netflix. Since when does a 5 year old have free reign over a computer, and even more, since when does he know how to log in to Netflix?? Where have I been? 

Ashton I think is feeling a little bit like a middle child as of late. His behavior has suddenly become very needy and he's very quick to tantrum. That's not like him. Jared has been very well behaved and we have been rewarding that, and I think Ashton only knows how to get attention if he misbehaves. When Jared is at school he follows me around and begs to play games on my phone or pretends he's a baby. He lays on the floor and cries and says "Mommy, your baby is crying. Your baby wants you to feed him!" He loves to give hugs, and he loves that I can hold him again, and he's not taking it for granted! I love his little bear hugs and his constant kisses. Ashton is the first face I see in the morning, bright and early. "Mom, it's Sunday, that means it's time to come upstairs with me!" Any time the sun is shining, it's "sunday". We've explained the days of the week over and over but it's just not sinking in yet. He tells Dave and I a million times a day that he loves us. We're really trying to make sure he knows that he is still so special, and that just because there's a baby now doesn't mean we are going to forget about him. 

I'm not quite sure that the boys know what to think yet about Pepper. It's like, they know that my big belly is gone, and that I'm not "sick" anymore, but I don't think it will really sink in until they actually see her in person. I show them pictures everyday. All Jared has said is "Oh my gosh, she's so dang cute, when she gets home I'm going to squeeeeeeze her! I'm going to lift up her shirt and blow on her belly!!" Ashton has said that I'm in charge of Jared, Jared is in charge of him, thus he's in charge of the baby. He's very excited to help with changing diapers, and that's about it. I don't think his excitement will make it past the first poo. :) 

 "Mom, when we get married, I'm gonna be your Dad!"
"Mom, when you pooped the baby out, did that hurt?"
"I'm your cat that follows you everywhere. Meow! Meow! That means you need to feed your cat a tuna fish sandwich!"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

2 weeks

Our little lady is two weeks old today and we can hardly believe it. She is progressing really well. As you can see that nasty IV is gone! She was off the oxygen yesterday but struggled a bit during the night so they put it back on her for a bit. She's taking more and more of her feedings by nursing/bottle as well, which is the biggest hurdle she will have to overcome to come home. She's now only on one medication once a day and they are no longer fortifying her feedings. She gained another ounce since Wednesday and she's almost back up to her birth weight. Now for pictures! You can never get sick of pictures!! I took these today. Enjoy:)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I can't believe our baby is almost 2 weeks old. We are so excited for her to be home, when she is ready of course. I miss her a lot when I'm not with her, everything reminds me of her and she's all I think about all day long. I sit in the NICU for hours late at night just staring at her, taking her in, every little wrinkle, every little fuzzy hair. I love the way she smells and the noises she makes, I even love her little tiny poops. Yeah, you could say obsessed, but I'd say there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
      We've been making it a point to spend a lot of time with the boys, going on "toy dates" where we wander the toy isles of Kmart adding things to our Christmas wish lists (yeah, already) and wrestling on the living room rug. ( I can do that now!!) They are really happy to have Mom back and I am really happy to be back! I feel so great in comparison to the way I felt before. I have had some pain in my kidneys and abdomen, but I'm just hanging in there until surgery and lithotripsy, which should be next week sometime. Just waiting on my urologist. I am so excited for that surgery, as weird as that sounds. It means no more pain! I'm tired of pain! I really feel for people who have chronic pain or kidney stones all the time. I'm blessed to only form them during pregnancy and not all the time like my poor sister Becky and my Dad. 

        Anyways, I'm sure everyone wants to hear all about my exciting health issues. Bring on the baby pictures already!!!

Just a quick update: Pepper is 12 days old, she was taken off of the morphine today, a huge step, and she is down to once a day with the Phenobarb(also for withdrawals). She still has the IV in her head, but they only use it to give meds. Feeding tube is still in but she is nursing more and more every day. Still on a little bit of oxygen. She's out of the isolette and back in a regular bed, she is maintaining her temperature very well now on her own. Really the only thing keeping her from coming home is that darn feeding tube. She can be home on oxygen and both of her meds can be administered at home. She is so close. I'm thinking another week or so..just a guess. I'm not in a rush to get her home, I want to make sure SHE is ready. It is so scary bringing home a preemie. Neither of us get much sleep for the first week, we just sit and watch them sleep, making sure they are breathing. It's exhausting. :)

Here are photos I took today and Tuesday. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Labor & Delivery

The morning of Friday, March 11 was beautiful. I woke up on the living room couch, which had become my favorite place to sleep during the last couple of weeks. I felt so good that morning, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I was strangely pain/contraction free. Dave suggested it might be good for me to get out and he offered to take me to the store and wheel me around to help me pick out seeds for my garden. I sat on a stool in my bathroom and did my hair and put on my makeup, I couldn't believe I felt so good. I had spent the beginning part of that week in the hospital passing kidney stones and laboring continuously, so it was a big deal to be feeling decent. I went downstairs to my bedroom and stood in my closet staring at my maternity jeans, neatly folded over a hanger. I couldn't remember the last time I had actually attempted to put them on, I had gained 65 pounds over the course of my 33 weeks of pregnancy and spent my time either on the couch or in the hospital, in a t-shirt and baggy gym shorts or a blue hospital gown. I reluctantly took them off the hanger and wriggled into them. When I pulled them up, I thought that I had peed my pants a little, because, let's face it, it wouldn't have been the first time! But as I walked to the bathroom, it just kept coming and at that point it dawned on me that I wasn't just being incontinent! I called up the stairs to David, "Honey, change of plans!"
             We got to the hospital about an hour later (we've learned there's no reason to rush!) I was admitted and my doctor was paged.

 All of the nurses know me, and they were all telling me that they were so proud of me for making it this far. I was like "What? This isn't over yet! I could go weeks with my water broken!!" Well, although that may be true for some, that wasn't the case for me. My body had begun to labor and my doctor was concerned about infection so they gave me one of two Betamethazone injections(steroid for the baby's lungs), the next would be given 12 hours from then. They had to keep me pregnant for at least another 12 hours so that the steroid could take effect and benefit the baby's lungs. It was 2:00 pm at that point, and my doctor, Gary Fowers, came in and chatted with us for a while. He said that unless I delivered within the next hour he wouldn't be the one to deliver the baby, as it was his weekend off. We chatted about the weather, gardening, and other random un-related-to-pregnancy things(a breath of fresh air), he wished us good luck and left. 

We had the most GORGEOUS view from my room. The sky was so blue, and the mountains just looked so big. It really was the nicest day we've had since like....fall! 

             For the rest of the afternoon we watched Japan earthquake footage on the Weather Channel, until I started to have anxiety about bringing another child into this scary world and I asked Dave to change it. I was feeling really weird, trying to wrap my head around the fact that by the next day I would no longer be pregnant, that this rollercoaster I had been on was finally coming to a stop. In a very strange way, I wasn't ready for it to be over. I had spent the last several weeks giving myself an attitude adjustment and convincing my heart and mind that I could go as long as I needed to, I wasn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. But at the same time I  also felt a sense of calm knowing that I had been faithful to the end, and that the good Lord was blessing me for it. I knew it was time, I knew it was right, and I was very excited to finally see our little girl. 
          We spent the evening watching movies, School of Rock, All About Steve, and some other chick flick, which I can't remember because by that point my labor had progressed so much that it was becoming VERY uncomfortable. It was about midnight, I was only dilated to 3cm, but the contractions were so intense, I finally submitted myself to getting my epidural put in. I don't remember having an epidural put in being so horrible, but I think I was making it worse by trying to visualize everything the anesthesiologist was doing back there. I didn't say anything or cry out, but I was squeezing Dave's poor fingers so hard that they turned white! After it was done, I laid back down and my neck and back began to tingle. I guess I was laying too flat because the medicine had gone UP instead of down like it was supposed to. I threw up a few times, then the nurse gave me a sucker and everything was better. :) After about an hour laying there hating feeling all cold and tingly, I finally fell asleep. At 2 am my nurse, Dee, came in and gave me the second steroid shot and then I went back to sleep. 
           I woke up around 4 am to my nurse telling me she was going to check me. I was 8cm. FINALLY. About an hour later she came back in and I was complete. She started getting things ready and I woke Dave up and told him it was time. It was about 5:00am. 

This is what Dave looked like when he woke up. He's such a trooper:)

Dr. Kirkman was the physician on call, and I was really glad, I had gotten to know him really well over the last couple of months, I am comfortable with him and we both really trust him. Plus, he was quoting Jack Black:) 
The nurse helping him in the photo is Dee, she had taken care of me so many times during my pregnancy, and I was so glad she was there for my delivery.
 The delivery was really smooth, it took 3 contractions and 7 pushes and she was out. It really couldn't have gone smoother. I have really hard pregnancies but insanely easy deliveries and recovery. 

   The moment I heard her first cry was such an emotional moment for me, as I had laid in labor and delivery night after painful night over the past 3 months listening to other babies being born, hearing that first cry and feeling like that was so far away for me. It seemed like it was never going to happen, but that moment when I heard her sweet little cry, it all suddenly seemed so worth it. The buckets of tears, the needles, the vomiting, night after night of kidney pain and contractions, infections, insane reflux, the emotional frustration, all suddenly seemed so small and so insignificant. 

          Below is our pediatrician, Craig Armstrong. The poor guy stumbled in at 5:45am, his hair sticking up in all different places..we so appreciate him. He has been our Dr. since Jared was one, he was there for us when Ashton was born, he called us every single morning to update us when Ashton was in the NICU and he has called us every single morning with Pepper. I love waking up to his calls, he totally makes my day with his upbeat attitude and positive outlook. We can tell he genuinely cares for our child. Every time our children are ill or need shots, we see Dr. Armstrong. He calmed our nerves while we watched him circumcise Ashton by telling us Jewish circumcision jokes! We definitely consider him a part of our family. I don't know WHAT we're going to do in five years when he retires!
 Pepper was 6lbs 6oz and 18 1/2 inches long. She was the talk of the unit that morning, NOBODY, not even the doctors could believe it. A baby of her gestation is usually about 4 pounds. The Doc kept asking me "Are you sure you're only 33 weeks?? Do you have your dates right?" Yep, pretty sure. 
We are just very blessed, we have large, healthy children. As my mother-in-law always says "You don't breed Clydesdales and get Ponies!"
Dave said the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck when she came out and it was also pressed up against her cheek. She was bruised and swollen for a couple of days, but otherwise totally fine.

 I've never gotten to hold my child right after the delivery. They are usually whisked away and immediately intubated, but not Pepper. It was so amazing to be able to hold her. She was and is more beautiful than I ever imagined possible. I'm so honored to be her mother.