Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Homecoming

Presidents' Day will always hold a special place in my heart. This past Presidents' Day, our little Reagan came home from the hospital.
It was a big day for all of us...and one that almost didn't quite happen. Over the weekend, the doctors and nurses kept telling us that Monday would be the day, if everything continued to go okay. Monday morning came, and I was at the hospital bright and early. I'm pretty sure that sleep was completely elusive the night before. During the doctors' rounds, they asked me if I wanted to take her home. The obvious answer was YES! Thus began the long round of paperwork, ya know, to ensure that yes, the hospital released Reagan to her parents, and yes, that we are her parents. In the midst of all of this, Reagan had a brady (or a heart rate drop). This made my heart pretty much stop....because bradys mean more time in the NICU. However, the neonatologist decided that because it was not an extreme brady, and she self corrected immediately, she could still come home! Hooray! Plus, Reagan was already going home on a heart monitor, so the doctors thought it would be just fine. It might've helped that I've basically been camped out at the NICU for the past six weeks, and participated in rounds, knew what was going on with Reagan, and read everything that I could about it all.
So, by about 2:30, we were packing up all of her stuff at the hospital...you would never believe how much STUFF a little tiny baby could accumulate while in the hospital. Edmund went to get the car, and Reagan got to ride down stairs with a nurse escort (and mom) to the door. The hour and a half drive home went really well, she handled the drive (and Pennsylvania potholes) really really well.

We got home with Reagan, and introduced her to Shelby, our 65 pound, five year old yellow lab. It was really fun to see how Shelby took to Reagan. While Reagan was at the NICU, I would bring home her blankets and clothes, and before I washed them, I would let Shelby smell them. I read in a couple different articles that this helps dogs take more ownership of a baby. Shelby is already looking out for Reagan, and doesn't like it if we don't immediately respond to any little noise Reagan makes.


Did I mention Reagan makes lots of little noises? She's not a particularly fussy baby (except when she's hungry) but the girl makes all sorts of noises.

So far, Reagan's not really on a specific schedule. I'm kind of waiting until she hits 40 weeks gestation to do that. But because of the NICU, she's sort of self regulates a schedule, so we can kind of anticipate when she'll be awake and eat. Right now, we've moved from 2 1/2 hour stretches of sleep to 3 to 3 1/2 hour stretches. We are definitely looking forward to when she goes 4 hours at a time.

Did I mention that having her home is bliss? Pure bliss.

And exhaustion.

But all new moms feel that way, so that's a good normal thing.

After having her in the NICU for 6 weeks and 1 day, I will take the exhaustion and whatever else comes along just to have her home.

First ever tummy time!!

Mommy and Reagan were in a pink/black/grey kinda mood!!

Had to wish her Uncle Tony a happy birthday!!
Needless to say, I'm staying at home right now with my little girl. She's keeping me uber busy, but it's a great thing. I'll try to post more often... Look for a posting about her room coming later this week!





Saturday, February 4, 2012

Our Special Miracle

Happy New Year!!! Oops... I know, I'm a little late with that greeting! It's been an incredible year so far in our household. BIG changes to our lives. If you read on, (and I apologize in advance for the length of this post) I'm sure you'll agree that my absence is excusable, and that we have had our own special miracle.

We had a WONDERFUL Christmas holiday with our families.... a couple days with the hubby's family, then drove up to my family for a couple days. We headed home for a few days over New Years by ourselves, before returning the daily grind. On our trip down South, I experienced a little bit of swelling in my feet and some mild headaches. As yall know, those are not abnormal things in pregnancy, so I just assumed that they were right on track with being at the beginning of my third trimester. We got home, and the swelling was awful!! My sweet husband made me sit with my feet up for two days---I did nothing unless it was something I could do seated with my feet propped up. But, work calls, and school started back on Tuesday. I was excited to see my coworkers and students, but feeling very much like the Philsbury Dough Boy--my swelling had extended from my feet and ankles all the way up past my knees, to my hands and wrists, and all over my face. Not fun. Getting dressed for work at 29 weeks of pregnancy, completely swollen in the beginning of January is QUITE a challenge, let me assure you. The clincher came when the single pair of shoes that would go on my feet were my black Uggs. Tuesday came and passed, and I had a lot of coworkers asking if I was okay. By Wednesday at lunch, a couple lovely teachers urged me to have my blood pressure taken by our school nurse. They told me that something didn't seem right. They were correct. My blood pressure was 164/113 which is very very high. I texted it to my mom, and she texted me back to call my doctor....it was in all caps, which I knew meant it was important. So, I got my fabulous aide to cover my class, and went and called the doctors office. They immediately asked me how far away I was, and after hearing that I was 10 minutes away, asked me to get in my car and start driving to the hospital. Needless to say, this freaked me out a little.
My principal was very understanding, and my aide covered my class for me. I headed over the hospital, calling my husband and then my mom on the way. Got the hospital, and checked in at the maternity triage unit. They took me back right away, and put me on a blood pressure monitor. It was consistently high. The hospital and doctor decided to keep me overnight for observation. Things kind of starting rolling then, but the gist of it was that I was diagnosed with a pregnancy condition called pre-eclampsia. Turns out, pre-eclampsia is when your body can't handle being pregnant...it's similar to your body thinking that its being attacked by the pregnancy, and so it tries to counteract things. It impacts 6 to 8% of pregnant women, usually in the last trimester. Some of the classic symptoms are excessive swelling of the entire body, extremely high blood pressure, headaches, and eventually, protein the urine, blood platelette count decreasing, kidney failure, etc. In severe cases, it can lead to even more serious problems. We won't get into those. It either impacts the mother's body or the baby's body. In my case, it mostly impacted my body. The biggest impact that we found on the baby is that my uterus was leaking ambiotic fluid, so that level was lower than what it should've been.
Needless to say, I was hospitalized on Wednesday, January 4th. Initially, it was just overnight, but turned into bedrest. The doctors wanted to keep me pregnant as long as possible without putting me into distress or the baby in distress. So that was the plan for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. My E.R. nurse mom flew up Friday mid-day, and stayed with me Friday night at the hospital so my husband could go home and get some rest. I was given 2 rounds of steroid shots to help develop the baby's lungs in case we had to deliver prematurely.
Right before delivery!
Saturday morning all hell broke lose. I had a lot of difficulty sleeping on Friday night.... more so than what I had been experiencing. My back was so achy, I couldn't get comfortable, and I was getting up all the time. By about 5:30am, something in my body started to hurt. And kept coming and going. I told my mom (because I really wasn't sure what was going on) but at that point, the pain started to really hurt. She buzzed the nurses (of course this was during shift change), and come to find out, I was having some contractions. They called up the resident (who I really like), and she checked me out...my cervix was not dilated or anything but I was having labor pains. She called E and I'm pretty sure he sped all the way to the hospital, and made it up just as they were moving me. I got moved to the high risk unit (kind of like an ICU for pregnant ladies), and was put on IV medications, specifically magnesium which slows down and stops labor. The fun part of this is that I got to have 2 IVS, NO FOOD or drink, and IV liquids for 24 hours. The goal was to keep me there for 24 hours, make sure that we had stopped all the labor, and see if I could go back to regular hospital bedrest on Sunday morning. The doctors checked my blood work, urine, and blood pressure regularly over the 24 hour period. My brother drove up from South Carolina on Saturday, too.
On Saturday, my blood pressure started to get controlled as they had put me on medication for that, and by Sunday morning, around 8am, the doctors thought that I would probably get to go back up to the regular floor. I was dreaming about food like CRAZY! I was so HUNGRY and out of it all. The magnesium really drains you.  The doctors were just waiting on my bloodwork to come back before they could make the call to send me back to the floor. Well, less than an hour later, my blood work came back, and with it, the resident. My blood platelettes had dropped dangerously low to 75. They are usually in the hundreds. The only option at this point was to deliver the baby because my body was in distress.

Now, I will confess to you a couple things here. When the resident told me that they were going to deliver me at 29 weeks by a c-section, I burst into tears. I also had NO IDEA what a c-section involved. Mom had kinda of mentioned it the night before, but just very very simply. I kept saying that I hadn't read that chapter yet in the book (What to Expect When You Are Expecting). I was terrified but I also didn't realize how risky it all was at that point. I didn't realize until a couple days later that they could've lost both me and the baby.
At this point, my mom called me dad to book a flight up there. A whole bunch of nurses etc started to prep me for the c-section, and I met with the anesthesiologist about the c-section. Luckily, I got to have a spinal instead of general, so E got to be in there with me! About 30 minutes later, they wheeled me into surgery, and forty five minutes later, we had a baby. I could go into lots of detail about the c-section part, but I won't because even now, I still don't know that much about that part. And I'm quite happy with it that way. All I will say is that the resident delivered me (with the attending supervising), and she was wonderful. She held me while they administered the spinal (because E was scrubbing in at that point), and was very calm about the whole thing. The doctors joked throughout it, and E held my hand and kept me calm and distracted!

Reagan holding her daddy's hands for the very first time!!
We had a little girl. She was 2 lbs and 4.3 oz at birth, and was 15 inches long. At 29 weeks, she is very premature but we have been so incredibly lucky.  Her name is Reagan Sophia Booth. She came out breathing on her own (which is practically unheard of at 29 weeks). In surgery, they neonatology team rolled her bed over to me so I could see her for a moment before they whisked her away to ICU. I got to go back to the high risk ward for another 24 hours on magnesium and IVs as I was still not out of the woods yet. Once back in high risk, I sent my hubby over to the NICU to be with Reagan and had my mom come in to stay with me. It was the most frustrating 24 hours of my life because all I wanted to see my baby girl....but obviously, I couldn't go down to the NICU until I was moved back up the regular floor, which didn't happen until late Monday afternoon. Everyone else in my family (with the exception of my father-in-law) got to see and spend time with Reagan before me.

Prior to all this, when I was just on bedrest, we met with the neonatologist team (who handle preemies and the NICU) about the risks and odds of delivering at 29 weeks.  Some of the big risks are brain bleeds, breathing problems, heart problems, along with other growth and development problems. Thankfully, Reagan has no brain bleeds, no breathing problems, and no heart problems!!

We are so blessed to have a healthy baby girl. She is still in the NICU but she is growing and developing every day. We are anxiously waiting for the day when we get to bring her home.

In the meantime, I'm a proud mama with lots of pictures to share of my beautiful Reagan!




Her favorite way to sleep!!

 As of today, Reagan weighs 3 lbs 6 1/2 ounces, and is 16 and 1/2 inches long. She has put on over 1 pound in four weeks, and has grown 1 inch in four weeks. She is no longer on any oxygen assistance, and gets to wear clothes! Her bed (which is temperature controlled) used to adjust automatically based on her temperature, and now it is at a stable temperature. The doctors are getting her ready to be on room air all the time. She is eating every three hours through a feeding tube, but took her first bottle last night. They'll continue to increase how many times a day she gets a bottle until she is entirely bottle fed. She's eating an ounce every feeding now, and this will also get increased.





Basically, she's strong, feisty, and flat out amazing. We love her so much and can't wait to bring her home!
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