8 months old

How do we have an eight month-old? It truly does not seem possible. We’ve had kind of a rough month, with Emmett being constantly sick. In the past six weeks he’s had bronchiolitis, three ear infections, and been to the doctor seven (yes, seven) times. He’s been tested for RSV, influenza and pertussis (whooping cough). All negative, thankfully, though it doesn’t change the fact he was wheezing for weeks on end and coughing so hard and for so long at night I thought for sure he would stop breathing and pass out. Thankfully he seems to finally be on the mend, though the pediatrician said this may be our new normal when it comes to colds for his first couple years, thanks to his premature lungs. I’ll admit, I’ve been having a really hard time with this. I’ve been saying lately that he seems like such a normal baby that it’s almost easy to forget everything he’s been through. But then something that should be as benign as a cold comes along and completely upends our lives, reminding us that no, he is not a normal baby. On multiple occasions I’ve cried myself to sleep, listening to him cough and wheeze. Mad at the universe for dealing us this hand. Scared for his future and what else could be in store health-wise. Overcome with emotion because of how much I love him and just want him to be okay.

I will say, throughout all this, he continues to be the happiest baby I’ve ever met. It’s almost as if he understands he’s been through worse and is taking it all in stride. I joke that it’s because he feels bad for all he’s put us through, so the least he can do is be a happy baby. Whatever the case, he’s pretty amazing.

Okay, let’s get to it. Here’s what’s happening with the Amazing Emmett at eight months:

Adjusted age: 5 months

Stats: 14 lbs and 25.5 inches

Milestones: Finally good at being on his tummy and holding himself up, and really trying to crawl! I really wouldn’t be surprised if he’s crawling by next monthly update. When he’s on his back he uses his legs to scoot himself backwards — kind of reverse crawling. Definitely wants to move.

Sleeping: Still usually up once a night — sometimes twice, but sometimes none. Naps are getting longer and more consistent, but I still can’t get him to nap in his crib, so he mostly naps in his swing at home. They manage to get him to nap in a crib at daycare, but he also takes much shorter naps there, so I’m okay with the swing for now at home.

Eating: Still exclusively nursing at home and still getting four to five 3.5-4 oz bottles a day at daycare. We’re still fortifying bottles of pumped milk with NeoSure for extra calories, but I’m planning to ask his doctor at his next visit whether we can stop fortifying or at least try another type of formula, as this stuff really wreaks havoc on his digestive system. Lately he’s been going 4-5 days without pooping followed by 2-3 days of basically making up for lost time. And he’s so gassy! He hasn’t gained much weight (and no length) in the past month, though, so I’m not hopeful we’ll get the green light to stop fortifying, even thought I’m sure the slow growth has been due to illness. His OT thinks he’s ready to try solid food so we may start those in another week or so.

Personality: Happy, happy happy. He’s lately developed a habit of screeching — and if you only heard him you’d think he was in pain or upset — but if you look over at him he’s got a huge smile on his face. I think he’s just experimenting with his voice.

Likes: Big brother. I mean, isn’t mom supposed to be a baby’s favorite person in the world? Pretty sure I’m in second place, behind a three year-old. But I’m okay with that, because it’s so cute. And the adoration is mutual. These two could not love each other more, and I hope it always stays that way.

Dislikes: Still pretty much the only thing he hates is when we have to suck the snot out of his nose. But even then, he’s totally fine afterward.

Mama: I guess I already poured out the emotional chaos I’m dealing with these days. I think I may be dealing with a bit of a delayed PTSD reaction, to be completely honest. Funny, I went to a dinner with a preemie moms group I belong to about a month ago and many of them were talking about things like PTSD and PPD and how it didn’t hit them until about 6-8 months later. I nodded along empathetically, but inside was thinking “pssh… I’m good.” Yep. Eating my words (or thoughts, rather) right about now. I think, maybe, had things kept going well, I might have been able to continue to push off those thoughts indefinitely. But the constant sickness and the realization that prematurity didn’t end when we left the hospital basically brought it all crashing back. Some days I feel like I could probably benefit from some therapy. D and I both probably could, though he’d never admit it. But the idea of trying to make time for one more thing in our lives when I’m barely managing to juggle everything as it is? Would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. Maybe at some point I’ll try to set something up. In the meantime, writing has always been therapeutic. That is, when I can find the time to write…

Okay, here are a few photos from the last month.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Hello? Is this thing on?

We’ve been home now for about a week and a half and things are going well. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they miss the daily Emmett posts so I thought I’d give a quick update on how things are going. I definitely don’t plan to blog every day again — there just really isn’t enough to talk about — but I do hope to keep writing regularly to capture memories, much like I did before Emmett came along.

Unlike in the NICU where things were constantly changing, life back at home is moving much more slowly and we’re settling into a busy but blissfully mundane routine. Our days and nights are filled with normal newborn stuff: Getting stuck under a sleeping baby while watching entirely too much HGTV. Getting peed on in the middle of the night because we were too slow with getting a new diaper on in our groggy state (rookie mistake!). Bouncing, rocking, swaying, shushing while trying to figure out what the heck it takes to get McScreamy back to sleep at 3 a.m. In just over a week, Emmett has suddenly become less like a sick patient and more like a typical newborn and I feel like we’re getting to know him all over again outside the rigid hospital setting, where everything is strictly measured and timed. While we’re trying to maintain some semblance of the routine already set in place, we’re following his lead more and letting him sleep and eat according to his cues and our needs.

Feeding continues to be a challenge for us. He takes a bottle pretty well now, but he seems to be getting worse, not better, at breastfeeding. When we left the hospital, his latch was good, but he simply lacked the stamina to nurse effectively for every feed. We were instructed to give him four bottles of expressed breastmilk per day, each fortified with a scoop of Neosure powder for extra calories, and were given the all-clear to nurse at his other feedings. With him eating an average of eight times per day, it meant we were doing about 50/50 nursing and bottles. We’ve had two weight checks with the pediatrician since, and while he’s gaining, he isn’t gaining as rapidly as he should, so we were recently instructed to bump it up to six “protein shakes” per day, which only leaves about two feedings to practice breastfeeding. His stamina is better, but all the bottle feedings have spoiled his good latch and he gets frustrated easily at the breast. We’re going to see a lactation specialist this week to see how we can improve our nursing sessions so we can hopefully start doing more nursing and fewer bottles. Trying to bottle feed and then pump with almost every feeding is pretty time-consuming. Not to mention our neverending dishes thanks to all the bottle and pump parts. D has been taking most of the middle of the night feeds so I can pump while he gives a bottle and we can both get back to sleep as fast as possible.

Theo has been amazing. I know we’re less than two weeks in and that this is probably the honeymoon phase, but seeing Theo’s nurturing side come out is probably my favorite part of having two kids. He loves to kiss and hug baby Emmett, and has been so gentle. He is also very proud of “his baby” and loves to introduce him to everyone. I’m handling taking care of two kids better than I thought I would too. We pulled T from daycare while I’m home on maternity leave to minimize the germ exposure to E while he’s so small. And while I had visions of chaos — either neglecting a screaming baby while tending to a needy toddler, or ignoring my firstborn while an infant consumes all my energy and attention — so far things have been going pretty well. Theo is usually happy to entertain himself while I’m dealing with Emmett, and even likes to help by grabbing my water or my phone for me if I’m stuck nursing E on the couch. He’s gotten pretty good at fetching himself a snack and he knows how to operate Netflix on his own (not sure if that’s more of a brag or a confession!). On more than one occasion I’ve let him crawl in bed with me in the mornings where he’ll play quietly on the iPad while I catch a few more Zs after being up with the baby most of the night. I’m not winning any mother of the year awards but everyone is clean, fed and happy. I’ll call that a win.

Overall things are going well. I’m insanely tired, but I’m happy. I touched on this on my last post, but it really is amazing how long ago the NICU feels already. With all the typical newborn stuff we’re immersed in, it’s almost easy to forget that he’s not in fact, a newborn. He’s a three month-old, who spent a quarter of his first year in the hospital. It feels like years ago, not weeks ago. And while I still haven’t figured out how to gracefully answer the “how old is he?” question while out in public, life just feels normal right now. And that’s a pretty big deal.


NICU day 76

Today was a good day. As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve done two trials off oxygen before, and both times he made it about 12 hours before he got tired and needed it back. I’m happy to report we passed the 12-hour mark. And then the 24-hour mark. And then they removed his tank altogether from his room because it was clear he was rocking it on his own. Yeah!

Feeds were kind of hit and miss today. I nursed him at every feed except the 2:30 a.m. feed, during which I slept and the nurse gave him a bottle. He’s averaging about 60 percent of his feeds by mouth currently. One was as high as 84 percent and one was as low as 24 percent. So we’ve still got some work to do to get to the required 80 percent over 48 hours. He seems to prefer breast over bottle, which as the nurse pointed out, is a nice problem to have. He will take both, though, which has been the goal all along.

We’ve been talking to Theo a lot about E coming home, now that we’re getting closer. I know there will be an adjustment period while he learns how to share us (or maybe we’ve already begun that since D and I have been splitting our time?), but so far he is really excited. His daycare teachers say he’s been talking a lot about “his” baby too. He’s been asking for a few days to go see baby Emmett so I picked him up after school today and brought him back to the hospital. I nursed E while T sat and played a game on the iPad. Aside from the fact we were in a hospital room, it felt really normal, and I got a glimpse of what it might be like on a random afternoon at home with my boys.

This evening they moved us to the pediatric wing, which we have been told is a springboard for going home. The room is nicer and bigger, and is meant for rooming in (we get an actual bed instead of a daybed/cot), as they like parents doing more and nurses less as we get closer to discharge.

He lost half an ounce at his weigh-in tonight, which is a bummer, but not surprising. Over the past two days he’s gone from having most of his food delivered straight to his belly to having to work for every meal. Hoping he keeps getting stronger and more efficient at eating, so we can finally go HOME. Tomorrow we’ll have been here 11 weeks.

Theo helping the nurse move little brother down the hall

NICU day 58

I had the below post all written out last night, and then things took a turn for the dramatic. It was by far the worst night I’ve had with him yet. The reflux has been getting worse and worse, and he’s had so much suctioning to remove everything that keeps accumulating in his nose, that he’s now developed some irritation in his nose from all the suctioning. His nasal passages got so swollen last night that he could not breathe out of them at all. Babies are obligate nasal breathers, so it’s not like when an adult is stuffed up and just breathes out of their mouth instead. So he would turn purple holding his breath, then gasp and cry out (which thankfully would get some oxygen in him), but then he’d repeat all over again. I felt so helpless. All I could do was stand there holding him upright, sobbing, while listening to him gasp for air. This all went on until about 2 a.m., when the doctor gave him some steroid drops in his nose to calm the inflammation. That at least allowed him to get some air through, but he’s still really struggling to breathe and just sounds so miserable.

Anyway, here’s the rest of what I had originally written yesterday. I don’t have the energy to merge the two or rewrite anything.

* * * *

This morning Emmett’s team started him on Prevacid [edit: I had originally written Prilosec – oops, wrong med!] to help him with the reflux. It will take a few days to see whether it makes a difference. I’m really hoping it does, as it’s pretty miserable seeing him so miserable. This evening his nurse mentioned we would take him off of it if it didn’t seem to be making a difference, “because of the potential side effects.” When I asked her what the side effects were, she kind of stumbled and admitted she didn’t, know and then said I could just google it. Um. Not impressed with this nurse so far. What medical professional tells you to google? Of course google came up with all kinds of awful stuff. I’ve been so good about not consulting Dr. Google when it comes to Emmett, which is very unlike me, so I’m kind of annoyed she sent me in that direction. A few minutes later the nurse came back and said she talked to the doctor and he said the side effects are so rare that they aren’t even worth mentioning unless something seems off with him or he stops growing. Reflux is really common in preemies — and even in term babies — and the treatment with antacids is pretty common.

Speaking of growth, he had a wimpy 2 gram gain tonight, but they’re actually happy with a modest gain, as he’s been a little puffy the last couple days and they think he may be retaining water. He’s had several days of large gains, which would corroborate the edema. The nurse earlier today was even talking about starting him on a diuretic to flush him out. I need to talk to the doctor more about this, as the nurses have been fairly vague and I hope it’s not indicative of something potentially more serious.

Theo came to visit his little brother this evening. I had gone into the office today and after work I got him from daycare and we swung by the hospital for a few minutes. He hadn’t seen him since he got out of the isolette and immediately asked where the top of his bed was. He was happy to see that baby Emmett was bigger, and when I picked him up and crouched down low to the ground so T could get a better look, unprompted, he kissed the top of E’s head. I wish I had gotten a photo, but my arms were full of baby. It was a very sweet moment.

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NICU day 38

Today was another emotional day. After taking T swimming this morning, I headed back to the hospital after lunch and found out they had lowered E’s oxygen flow to 3 liters — after discussing with D just last night that they were going to keep it at 4 for another couple days. The nurse said he’d been doing really well on it, so I didn’t push the issue. I was a little annoyed at the lack of communication and continuity between the night team and the day team, but if E was handling it fine, I guess I was fine with it too.

I hadn’t even been there more than 20 minutes when he had his first brady. I chalked it up to a random episode (he’s allowed to have those), or maybe an adjustment to the lower flow — but then he had another shortly afterward. I was beginning to get concerned, but tried to brush it off. Then when I was holding him, he had about five of them in a 45 minute span. I couldn’t hold back my tears – I felt like he was crashing on me – and the nurse came in and took him from me to put him back in his isolette. It was all very emotional. She suctioned his nose, hoping maybe he just had a booger (that caused some issues for us once before), but his nose was clear. Then she noticed his feeding tube had come partway out. She said that can sometimes cause a vagal nerve response, which was a likely culprit of our episodes. She pulled the tube out and reinserted (not fun to watch), and he seems mostly good since then. She also turned his oxygen back up to 4 and said we’d try again later. This time I spoke up and advocated that we give him at least another day and let him rest. He’s had a few additional bradys since the tube was repositioned, but the nurse said he may have just been worn out from the day’s events. Really hoping that’s the case, and the culprit was just his NG tube earlier. Who knew a rogue feeding tube could cause so much drama?

As much as I hated to leave him, I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty about all the time I’ve been spending away from T lately, so I went home to have dinner with the family. Since the nurse and I had agreed we’d try holding again after his 8:30 p.m. cares, I had to rush back to the hospital shortly after dinner. T didn’t take it very well and refused to even give me a hug goodbye. After the day I’d already had, this shattered my heart into a million pieces. I asked if he was mad at me because I had to go to the hospital again and he said yes. I hugged him (even if he wouldn’t hug me back) and left the house in tears. When I got to the hospital I saw a text from D telling me Theo was crying because he wanted to give me a hug. So we Facetimed for a few minutes and he was his sweet self again. I even held the phone up to E’s isolette so T could say good night to his brother. It was all very sweet and I’m glad it ended well, but the mom guilt is on overdrive these days. I feel a strong need to be with both of my boys all the time and I simply can’t.

This evening went better than the afternoon. I got to hold him for three hours and he did pretty well, though he still had a few events. He put on an impressive 87 grams tonight, which equals about 3 oz. in just one day! He’s now 3 lbs. 8 oz.

I really hope these last few trying days mean we’re about to move forward again. I’ve referred numerous times to the “two steps forward, one step back” mantra in the NICU. And the nurse tonight gave me another analogy: she said progress in the NICU is rarely linear. It’s more like loop-de-loops — you’re still going forward, but you’re looping backward on yourself in order to do so.

Hopefully Emmett doesn’t pull his NG tube out again — though this video was taken not even five minutes after it was reinserted, and I’m starting to think it may be hard to get him to leave it alone!

T-man update.

Poor Theo. Usually it’s the second child that gets the shaft, but then E came along and stole all his big brother’s thunder. I hadn’t even gotten thank you cards out for T’s birthday party (and still haven’t!) when E came barrelling into this world three months ahead of schedule. So I thought I’d show my firstborn some love and dedicate this post to him. Because he is kind of amazing.

First, his birthday was a wild success! Since he was originally due on Cinco de Mayo (but was four days late), we’ve made it a tradition to throw a Cinco de Mayo bash for his birthday each year. Though I think this was probably our last year before he forms some serious opinions on the matter and insists on a Transformers-themed party or something. Despite our best intentions of culling the guest list to only friends with kids and making it a smaller affair, we ended up with nearly 60 people, including about 25 kids! Thank goodness we had great weather and could spend most of the time in our large backyard instead of our modest-sized house. We had a bouncy house and a pinata for the kids, and plenty of beer and margaritas for the adults. It was a lot of fun. Like the previous two years, we had a separate, more intimate party for family. Theo had a blast at both parties, though after two parties at home plus one at his school, he actually told me “no more parties.” Kid was partied out.

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Party animals.

On the potty training front, Theo has been out of diapers since January, but still isn’t super reliable about getting to the bathroom on his own. He has to be reminded a lot because he gets too busy and doesn’t want to stop what he’s doing. Mister has a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). We also still have him in pull-ups at night because he sleeps so hard. Funny how this is the same kid who didn’t sleep through the night until he was about nine months old, and when I say “didn’t sleep through the night” I’m talking waking up every hour and a half to two hours. How did we function? At the time it felt like it would never end, and now it feels like a lifetime ago. (I try to remind myself of this when it feels like we’ll be in the NICU forever.)

We’re in the process of putting together his big boy room and he’s now spent two nights in his new room. So far things are going well, and he’s so excited about his big boy bed that he actually goes to bed easier than he did when he was in the crib! It’s fun to snuggle in bed together and read before bedtime and wake him up by crawling in bed with him. I still need to move his clothes and toys over, and I have a bookshelf I need to paint and put in there, but the walls and ceiling are painted, curtains are hung, and he’s got a bed and a few wall decorations so far (I’m doing a travel/transportation theme). The plan is to put Emmett in the nursery once he comes home since it’s already set up for a baby, and then once E is sleeping more reliably we’ll move him in with T and make what’s currently the nursery into the new guest room. For now guests will have to sleep in the loft/office/playroom.

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He looks so little in his big bed!

We’ve had a little bit of a rough spell as far as attitude and tantrums go — I’m not sure how much of that is typical threenager behavior versus him having a hard time adjusting to the changes. As much as D and I try to maintain a sense of normalcy (still sending T to daycare during the week and making sure we’re all home together each night for dinner), I’m sure he’s aware of just how different things are and he can probably sense some of our stress. He actually bit a kid at daycare a couple weeks ago, and he’s never been the least bit aggressive to other kids. Usually we’re getting incident reports because he’s been bitten, not because he’s the biter!

But, when he’s not throwing an epic tantrum, he’s really a great kid. I can’t believe how much he’s blossomed over the last year and especially in the last few months. His language has absolutely exploded and he never stops talking now. I can’t believe I was actually worried about him not talking enough at one point. Just goes to show that kids usually catch up and do things on their own timeline. He is (usually) polite and says please and thank you. In fact, he usually says “please” twice in a sentence (e.g., “please can I have some milk please?”). It’s adorable. He’s really into dinosaurs, Transformers, super heroes and still has to sleep with “Blue” every night (his blue dog blanket lovey). We temporarily lost Blue for two days in the room transition and T was pretty sad about that.

Eating has been a battle of wills. I’m told he eats well at school and at other people’s houses, but at home it’s become a game for him. He stalls, plays with his food, claims he doesn’t like something he usually likes, picks at his food, and then usually eventually eats it, but it takes FOR-E-VER.

Other things: he loves to be chased and tickled and will scream for us to stop and once we do, begs us to chase or tickle him again. He has an infectious laugh and a great smile, but when you ask him to smile on command, this is what he gives you:

"Smile!"

“Smile!”

 

Here's a more natural smile - riding the Great Wheel with his cousin Molly.

Here’s a more natural smile – riding the Great Wheel with his cousin Molly.

Overall, I’m really enjoying this stage. Despite the occasional meltdown, he is just such a joy to be around. He talks often about baby Emmett and I am looking forward to having a house full of boys in just a couple more months. I think Theo and his little brother will become best buds, and Emmett certainly has a pretty great brother to look up to.

NICU day 20

We had a good night last night and a good day today overall, though my head is swimming with medical stuff.

This morning, the respiratory therapist and nurse brought up the idea of taking E off of the NIV NAVA machine, which is what kicks in and breathes for him when he has apneic episodes. He’s having so few of these anymore (though still a fair amount of bradys and desats) that both the nurse and RT thought he could be weaned and go to continuous forced air via his cannula. This would still provide some backup and stimulate him to breathe if he didn’t, but wouldn’t give him the puffs that basically breathe for him. I’m not going to lie, the thought made me really nervous. As much as I want to trust the medical professionals, this just felt like a really big step when just yesterday we were implementing more support in the form of increased caffeine and starting him on a steroid inhaler.

The nurse invited me to attend daily rounds to discuss his care with the rest of the team, and I was relieved when his doctor said it might be a little too soon to wean off the NIV NAVA. Instead, she’d like to give him a few more days on the Flovent and let him gain more weight, and reassess in a few days.

Another discussion item in rounds was his elevated heart rate. Since boosting his caffeine he’s had a few episodes where his heart rate goes up really high (into the low 200s), which sets off the alarms and is always a little scary. The doctor assured us that periodic high heart rate episodes aren’t harmful, and that the benefits of the caffeine outweigh the negatives. She said we don’t typically worry about a high heart rate unless it’s sustained, or we start seeing other evidence his heart is working too hard, such as changes to his blood pressure or failure to gain weight. As of now his blood pressure is still good, though he did manage to lose 20 grams today, despite the fact that they bumped his supplementation up from 26 kcal to 28 kcal. The weight loss was really disappointing, especially since they’ve been telling us all along that weight gain is the priority. And the fact that it coincided with the increase in caffeine and higher heart rate has me a bit concerned. We’ve been told a day of occasional loss isn’t a big deal, as long as it doesn’t become a pattern. Here’s hoping it was a fluke and we have a nice gain tomorrow.

Despite the medical overload and the disappointing weight loss, today was a good day overall. He stayed on 21% oxygen almost all day and had way fewer events than the last couple days.

Oh, and something happened tonight that made me smile. I had given Theo a fortune cookie this evening and, well, I think I may need to save this…

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Kangaroo snuggles.

Kangaroo snuggles.

NICU day 7

Today was a good day, followed by a not-so-great evening. I’m emotionally drained.

First, the good stuff…

This morning, after being under the bili lights again for almost 24 hours, they checked E’s levels and they were down to 1.4 (they were 7 something before). So he got to get rid of the lights — hopefully for good, this time. They increased his feedings again from 3 to 5 ML, and he’s tolerating the increase very well. He’s also pooping like a champ, which the nurses are all very impressed with! They’re also very impressed with his newfound ability to suck on a pacifier, which is pretty amazing for 27 weeks. Everyone just keeps marveling at how well he’s doing so soon, and for so young. He really is our little miracle baby.

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the routine exams they do about a week into life with preemies is a head ultrasound to look for brain bleeds. We were told they are measured in severity from 1-4, with 1 being mild and 4 being severe. I have surprised myself with my ability to stay away from Dr. Google through this whole ordeal, so I couldn’t tell you what a brain bleed means, but I’m guessing it’s bad. Thankfully, that’s one less thing we have to worry about because his scan came back completely clear. No bleeds. That was a huge relief, but it was a pretty emotional hour for me in between the tech conducting the scan and waiting for the radiologist to give the results to E’s doctor.

Theo came to visit again today but he wasn’t as interested in Emmett this time. He was still very sweet and waved to him and blew him kisses, but he was WAY more interested in the cool chair with a table attached.

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After a brief visit, I took T home and we all had dinner together, and then I rushed back to the hospital. I needed to get back so I could do another kangaroo session at 8, something I had discussed with our daytime nurse, whom I adore.

(and this is where the good turns to bad…)

When I got there, the night nurse (a new nurse I’d never seen before) practically lectured me when I mentioned wanting to do kangaroo care, saying we should only do it once a day when they’re this small. I explained to her that we hadn’t done it yet today, and that our day nurse and I had agreed that 8 p.m. would be an ideal time to do it, after they came in to do his diaper, feeding, etc., She agreed to it, but she seemed annoyed by my request, and I felt like she kind of rushed getting him out of his isolette and onto me, and didn’t even really help me with my positioning. It was still nice to hold him, but he wasn’t nearly as calm as he had been the other two times, and his oxygen levels dropped a little instead of rising like they had before. His heart rate also dropped very low at one point, briefly setting off the alarms. He recovered on his own, but it just wasn’t the blissful experience it had been before.

When I was ready to put him back, my nurse apparently was on lunch, so a nurse I’d never worked with before came to put him back and I felt like she rushed it too. She basically just lifted him off me and set him in his isolette without taking the time to make sure he was comfortable, or that his wires weren’t pulling or bunching in any way. I was particularly concerned about his nasal cannula, because the tape was pulling down on his lower eyelid so he couldn’t close his eye all the way, and the cannula was twisted to the point it wasn’t even in his nose anymore; it was just below it and slightly off to the side. When I called our nurse into the room to fix it, she said she was going to see if they had a smaller cannula. I explained that the other nurse had already looked into that and that this was the smallest they had — and that while it was a little big and slipped position occasionally, he had been wearing it for five days with mostly no problems. She didn’t even listen to me and just kept saying she was going to ask the respiratory therapist if he had a smaller one, but that he was at a delivery now and he’d look at it later. I told her I was concerned because if E stopped breathing and the machine went into backup mode (it will breathe for him if he goes 4 seconds without breathing), it wouldn’t do him a lot of good if it weren’t in his nose. She said if he stopped breathing they would “just bag him.” I was shocked and told her it wasn’t necessary to jump to extreme resuscitation measures if she would just fix the cannula so it was angled properly into his nose. She tried to say it wasn’t a big deal and that the alarm would sound at all the nurses’ stations so someone would get to him. I felt like I was talking to a brick wall. Just fix the cannula – we’ve had this for five days and it’s been working fine. It just needs to be adjusted. By this point I was starting to cry out of frustration (and fear) and she made absolutely no gesture to try to comfort me or anything. I get that this is her job, and maybe she’s a bit jaded, but this is my baby and she should treat parents with the compassion someone going through a traumatic experience deserves. Finally the respiratory therapist arrived and it took him less than five minutes to fix the cannula and Emmett seems to be resting comfortably now.

I have no idea why this turned into such a big deal, but I’m tempted to talk to the charge nurse tomorrow and request that she not be our nurse again. I’m not even sure if I can do that, or if it would cause more drama than it’s worth. I have been VERY happy with most of the staff here, but there are definitely some nurses I like better than others. This is the first time I’ve outright disliked a nurse here, though. It’s a helpless feeling to know we’re here for the next 3 months and our child’s life is in their hands. It’s not like we can just pack up and take our business elsewhere.

Oh, and she kept calling Emmett a “she.” Not a huge deal, but on top of everything else, it just feels like she doesn’t care.

It’s almost 1 a.m. and I am going to attempt to get some sleep. I have a feeling I won’t get much tonight though.

NICU day 5

Today I got to hold E for the first time. And T met his baby brother for the first time. My heart is so full.

The day started off a bit frustrating. D had spent the night at the hospital last night and this was the first morning since E was born that I had to get T ready for school on my own. As I mentioned in my birth story, getting him ready can sometimes be a challenge. And with trying to find time to pump this morning on top of everything, I was running late. And then T threw a tantrum and wouldn’t get dressed. And then I left his backpack at home and didn’t realize it until I was pulling up to his school. When I finally walked into the NICU and saw D, I burst into tears. I think it’s safe to say I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.

Thankfully, the day quickly got better when we got the news that they would be removing E’s umbilical catheter today, which means we would finally get to hold him! They did that around 11, and then my parents came to visit and we had lunch together in the cafeteria. By 2 p.m. we were ready to do our first “kangaroo care.” It took two nurses to carefully remove Emmett from his isolette and transfer all his wires, but when they finally placed him on me, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. I ugly cried for a good 15 minutes, all the while trying to hold back heaving sobs so I wouldn’t disturb him. It’s amazing how something as simple as holding your baby gets taken for granted unless you’ve ever given birth and not been able to do so for five days. After a while I was able to calm down and just focus on Emmett. He was very content – I’ve never seen his breathing or his heart rate so regular, and his oxygen saturation levels went up so high they were able to turn his machine down to 21 percent – which is what you and I breathe. Emmett slept peacefully on my chest for almost two whole hours, occasionally waking and craning his head up to stare at me. And I was able to close my eyes and drift off to sleep as well. It was pure heaven. I would have stayed longer, but I had to pee! They have no problem letting us hold him as long as we want, but only want to get him in and out of the isolette once a day since it’s such a big ordeal. Note to self: drink less water tomorrow before doing this again. I’ve been trying to hard to stay hydrated for milk production and it backfired on me today!

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Around 5 p.m., D went to go pick up T from daycare and brought him back here to meet his baby brother for the first time. This morning I had tried to explain to him that baby was no longer in mommy’s belly, but because he came so early he had to stay in the hospital for a while so the doctors could help him get bigger and stronger. He seemed to accept this explanation, and thankfully he has no idea babies come into this world any other way. But we felt it was probably best for him to get to see Emmett in order to really understand. He was amazing. We had told him he needed to be quiet, so he kept whispering “Hi Baby Emmett.” D held him up so he could see into the isolette, and every time we would set him down he would ask to be picked up again so he could see. When I got home later, all he could talk about was Baby Emmett. I think it’s safe to say he’s infatuated. As long as E stays healthy and T doesn’t pick up anything from school, we’ll probably plan to have him visit frequently. I think it will be good for him to see him growing and getting stronger.

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Unfortunately, while D was picking T up, the alarm on E’s PICC line kept sounding. And when the nurse went to flush the line, she couldn’t. She said it was most likely a kink or a clot in the line – either way we’d have to remove it, put the IV In his hand back in, and redo the PICC tomorrow. So T’s visit was cut short since they had to remove the line right away. D took him home and I stayed behind to make sure everything went smoothly. It was pretty hard to watch them have to stick him in his hand, and then remove the PICC. Honestly, the worst part was ripping off the tape that was holding the line in place. He cried quite a bit and his levels were bouncing all over the place, after being so calm and steady most of the day.

Once he was finally calm, I went home so I could put T to bed, and then turned around and came right back here. I’ll be staying here tonight. D is actually going back to work tomorrow so he won’t be here much of the day, though he may stop by for lunch. I think his plan going forward is to go into the office a couple days a week, but try to work from here the rest of the time. I’m still figuring out what to do with work, but will likely take a little more time off and then either go back, or work remotely until we’re able to take E home, and then take the rest of my leave. I definitely don’t want to use up all my time off while we’re stuck in the hospital. So much of this is far from ideal, but we’re figuring things out as we go.

Mother of sons.

Today is Mother’s Day. T is napping, D is cleaning up after part one of our two-part birthday party for T yesterday (more on that in another post!), and I’m sitting on the couch, feeling baby kick. It’s hard to believe I’m about to be a mom of two boys. I think often about what it will be like — with two kids, and both of them boys! Will life be twice as crazy as it is now? Will baby #2 be like a mini-T or will they be polar opposites? I’m excited to find out.

Interestingly, I’ve found myself almost defending our excitement when I tell people we’re having a second boy. I’ll be honest, I’ve never really understood the concept of “gender disappointment.” Maybe it’s because we’ve had such a rocky road building our family that I take nothing for granted. Maybe it’s the practical side of me that knows any time you have a baby, you’ve got a 50/50 shot at either sex. But I’ve been amazed at the way many people act almost sympathetic when I tell them we’re having another boy. The receptionist at T’s haircut place actually said to me the other day “Oh. Well I hope you’re still excited.” Huh? Of course I’m still excited.

Sure, when we found out we were having another boy there was a small part of me that briefly acknowledged the finality of the fact that I’ll never have a daughter. We are D-O-N-E after this. But any sense that I might be missing out by not having a girl was immediately overshadowed by the joy in finding out we are having another boy! There’s just something about finding out the sex of your baby that makes everything feel infinitely more real. You begin picturing what they might look like. You start thinking seriously about names. You feel one step closer to actually “knowing” your baby. And let’s face it, if T is any indication, we make pretty awesome boys.

But inevitably, the first question people ask is, “will you try again for a girl?” Try again? Like we got it wrong this time? First of all, we would have just as much of a chance of having a third boy — maybe even higher, according to some theories. And I’ve always only wanted two kids. But let’s say we did try again. How would our second boy feel if he found out the only reason he was the middle child was because he didn’t have a vagina? That his parents felt the need to try again because he wasn’t quite what they wanted? I’m being dramatic. I know parents don’t tell their children they wish they had been born the opposite sex (at least I hope not!), but when did everyone determine “one of each” was the ultimate goal?

Truthfully, I’m looking forward to being a mom of two boys. From a practical standpoint, we already have the clothes, gear, toys. And our boys can share a room, which makes things easier from a space perspective. But more importantly, I can’t wait to see how they are with each other. While they aren’t as close in age as we would have preferred, they’ll still be close enough to play together, and will probably have an unbreakable bond. I know our younger son will look up to Theo in a way only a little brother can.

I also must say, that while I don’t know any different, being a boy mom is pretty special. Boys tend to love their moms fiercely. Theo blazes through life a million miles a minute, but always takes the time to give me a hug or kiss, or to tell me he loves me. And while it’s exhausting being the one he usually calls to first, there’s something sweet about how he wants me to comfort him in the night when he’s scared, and asks for me first thing in the morning when he wakes up. He loves his dad too, and I don’t mean to downplay their bond, but their bond is just different. Talking to other boy moms, I think this is a pretty common dynamic between boys and moms.

And, let’s face it, I’d be lying if I didn’t mention the fact that I’m happy to bypass the teenage girl drama. I know I’m grossly overgeneralizing, but I was a dramatic and emotional teenager and karma would surely come back to bite me if I’d had a girl. I’ll settle for being my three nieces’ favorite aunt and will leave the hard stuff to their parents!

On a more serious note, I’m both looking forward to, and overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising these boys to be good men. They say you can tell a lot about a man’s potential as a husband by the way he treats his mother, and I’m honored that I get to play such a huge role in preparing them for their future wives (if they choose to go that route). And some day I hope to be the type of mother-in-law who will love my daughters-in-law as my own children. I have had the bar set high by two pretty great mothers-in-law, myself.

Yes, I’m feeling blessed to be a mom of two boys.