Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Little Guy. Rough Start.

When Caleb came into this world five weeks early, he did remarkably well. His Apgar scores were 8 and 10, which was quite amazing for such a little guy. He didn't ever need any oxygen or extra suctioning when he was born. But in the few days following, he gave us a little run for our money. Granted, it could have been much worse, and we are incredibly blessed that he is so healthy. But here's a recap of his first couple weeks of life.

Often times, premature babies have difficulties that term babies don't have. Caleb had three of those difficulties:  trouble keeping his blood sugar up, trouble keeping his temperature up, and jaundice. 

For the first 24 hours,  they checked his blood sugar each time before he ate. That meant a heel poke every 2 hours, but thankfully he was able to keep his sugar high enough that it only lasted 24 hours.

His temperature was monitored every 4 hours, plus occasionally after being unwrapped to eat. It dropped low a couple times, so we had to be sure to keep him bundled with extra layers and keep a hat on at all times. He doesn't have the brown fat that term newborns have to keep them warm, so he just needs a little extra layering.

The jaundice was his biggest problem. He had a double whammy of risk factors-- his prematurity and a positive direct coombs test. That basically means that my blood and his blood are incompatible, and at some point they mixed, and therefore his red blood cells were being broken down in his body. Because he was so early, his liver wasn't able to process the bilirubin quickly enough, and he became jaundice. [Ella had the same problem of the + direct coombs, but because she was term, she didn't need to be treated.] They began to measure his bilirubin levels at 7 hours old, even though they don't usually start until at least 12 hours of age. His was high enough that he needed to be treated with phototherapy-- he was put under special lights to help his body breakdown the bilirubin. He was under the lights for 24 hours, then came out when his bili level was lower. But after a while, his level rose again and he needed another 12 hours of phototherapy. During those days, they drew blood every 2-8 hours, and while under the lights we only got to hold him for 30 minutes every 2-3 hours so he could eat. It was a rough few days, and there was brief talk of him needing to be transferred to a NICU for more intense treatment. But thankfully, and by the grace of God, he improved and was able to come home with us on Day 5.

When we left the hospital, he had to be in a car bed rather than a regular car seat. He was too little to tolerate the incline of a car seat, so his oxygen level dropped after sitting in it for a while. It is a interesting [weird] seat, but whatever it takes to keep him safe!

By discharge, he was down to 5lb 2oz. For a full two weeks we were feeding him with a syringe in addition to me nursing him. He was quite yellow and fairly lethargic due to the high bilirubin level. We've taken him for follow-up appointments every few days, and he has now surpassed his birth weight and is 5lb 13oz! We'll follow up again at the 1 month mark, and hopefully we'll be in the clear for both weight and jaundice -- and done with the car bed!

Big sister Ella checking him out on his birth day!

She's such a great big sister.

First round of phototherapy.

So in love with my little guy!

Finally going home!!

I have to give a huge shout-out of thanks to Mike for stepping up to the plate to take care of Ella, groceries, laundry, dishes, and so much more. And to my mother in law Marie, who hopped on the first flight out here to give us two extra hands of backup. You two saved my sanity!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

{Surprise Arrival} Caleb Michael

As you know by now, we had an early surprise arrival of Caleb a couple weeks ago. I've had a few people ask me why he came so early and unexpectedly. And although I don't really know why, here's how it all went down.

On Saturday December 5th, Ella and I went to the PSU hockey game, as we often do on Saturdays in the fall/winter/spring/allyearlong. It was the annual Teddy Bear Toss game, so Ella was super excited to go, as it's her favorite game of the year.

In the weeks prior, I had been having occasional contractions, especially when I was at work or doing something active. The doctors were aware, and they said it was no big deal. That Saturday, I had been having contractions more frequently and at rest, so I looked at the doctors' instructions they give to all pregnant patients. It said that if you have contractions at rest, and they resolve with hydration and activity then they're false contractions. So to the game we went, and the contractions stopped. So I didn't think anything more of it. We had a great time at the game, and had a relaxing and routine evening at home. 

I went to up to bed at 11pm, and Mike was still watching the Big Ten championship game {go iowa!}. Just as I tucked into bed at 11:30... GUSH! I was totally shocked, and I knew immediately that my water had broken. So I waddled my way into the bathroom. Since Ella was asleep just down the hall, I didn't want to yell for Mike. So I texted him. And his phone was charging about 10 feet from me. Rats. I made my way down the hall and quietly asked Mike to come upstairs. Twice. Nothing. So I waddled halfway downstairs, hoping not to make a trail on the carpet behind me. I asked him again to come upstairs. He stood up and started to slowly make his way upstairs, while intently watching the football game. Patiently, I rolled my eyes and headed back upstairs to avoid making a puddle on the stairs. A few minutes later, he came up. [priorities ;) ]

After calling the doctor and quickly throwing some things into a bag, Mike and I were on our way to the hospital. We had called a friend to sleep in our guest room so that we didn't have to wake Ella. Thank goodness for friends! 

Because it was five weeks early, my OB and pediatrician were discussing sending me to Hershey to deliver, since there isn't a NICU here-- just a nursery. But my labor was progressing quickly and they hadn't made a decision yet, so there was no time to transfer me to a hospital an hour and a half away. 

When I arrived at the hospital, my water had indeed broken, I was 3cm dilated, and my contractions were 3 to 5 minutes apart and getting stronger. They got me admitted by 1:30am, I got an epidural at 3:30am, and I was fully dilated by 4:30am. They had me "labor down" and wait it out [if you're wondering why, they didn't know by GBS status since I wasn't yet 36 weeks, so they were hoping to get one more dose of antibiotics in at 6:30am], which I was totally ok with... lying there with an epidural sounded much more pleasant than pushing :) 

Around 5:30am they decided I should start pushing. And after a whopping three pushes, Caleb was born! 

Caleb Michael
Sunday  |   12/6/15  |  5:50am
5 lb 8.5 oz  |  18.5" long

Labor was a completely different experience this time around. I was in labor for six hours, and I pushed three times [Mike said I didn't even break a sweat!]. With Ella, I was in labor for 20 hours and I pushed for two hours. Needless to say, I recovered much more quickly this time around! 

Big sister Ella was so proud to hold her baby brother!

Mike and his two little munchkins!

Sweet Little Caleb!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Our Recent Visitors

As you may have seen, we've had a handful of visits lately from family and friends. It's been great to have extra people around and to see people we don't get to see too often!

In September Mike's mom, aunt, and grandma were here.
In mid-October my dad, Deb, and my brother were here.
In late October, some friends from college were here.
And last week, Mike's mom, dad, and brothers were here. 
And we have more visitors coming soon in anticipation of the arrival of the Little Guy!

Here are some pictures from when my family visited in October
learning how to drive a tractor at the fall festival

and grandpa dave teaching her how to milk a cow, too

helping uncle mike put on the handles of her baby doll crib

all done at the park, walking home with deb

so much fun!

jumping with uncle mike

hockey game

she perfected this face over the course of the week

loving all the attention

And some of when Mike's family was here last week
giving the duck some acorns

park with gumba dave

helping grandma marie make thanksgiving dinner

new favorite snack: bear made of toast, bananas, and blueberries

wagon ride with grandma marie and grandpa dennis

Newborn: Round 2

I've had a handful of people ask what we need for Round 2 of the newborn stage or ask if we've registered anywhere. Initially, we hadn't really considered answers to either of those questions. But now I have. I made a Target registry (just because it's what we have here. and they have free shipping. and they have a 10% completion discount!) for a general idea of what we're planning to get this time around. SO-- If you were one that asked, there's your answer. If you didn't, please (please, please) don't take this as a 'hey, buy us something' post. That's the reason I almost am not posting this anyway.

Ok, now for some more exciting posting:  our recent visitors!