Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi everyone! Sorry that I have not updated you all about Abby this week.... It was sure a fast week.... On Tuesday her nurse noticed she was not being her normal active self and decided to play it safe and run some tests to make sure nothing was wrong. (We had noticed she seemed a little tired Monday, but we just thought she was worn out from how active she had been Saturday - because they told us that was possible.) So of course, being Mommy, I got very worried.... I had to go to PCC rehearsal, but my conductor was very kind and let me leave early. I went back to the hospital and met John there.

The doctor happened to be coming to check on her shortly after I got there. They decided that the tests were showing that she maybe just needed a blood transfusion. Pretty much all preemie babies receive them - and it is usually within the first week on life. Abby's body didn't ask for one for two weeks.

Wednesday Abby was back to her feisty self. Some of the tests are coming back negative and some positive - so, it looks like she has some infection, but the doctor said it is common for preemies to get this. She said it looks like they caught it early and all should be well.... The fact that Abby is back to her active self is a very good sign....

Her color looks good, and she continues to gain weight.... She is doing really well with Kangaroo Care. We sing Primary and Christmas songs to her - and John thinks she really likes "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". We are also finding that I can calm her faster when I touch her. However, when she starts to de-stat, we can often get her to go back up just by John talking. We are also finding that we can do it by softly stroking her head. Her age and size of baby also usually are not ready for that - but Abby likes it. It doesn't work in other areas, but she likes it on her head most times.

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cute Little Bow

While putting Abby back in her bed after Kangaroo Care today, one of the nurses said that Abby needed a bow and that she had an extra one.... I think it is definitely a keeper....

Abby likes to be nestled snuggly in her bed, but she also likes to hang-out like she is in this picture... makes her look very long.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More Abby Updates

We had a lot of fun visiting Abby today. Daddy got to do Kangaroo Care for two hours. We were really happy with how well Abby did during it.... She now weighs 2 lbs 2 oz, and they are changing her cares to every three hours - which increases her feeds because there are more of them. They are also going to be increasing the amount of food she receives. They are trying to have her grow a little more before getting her on the C-Pap.... It was another great day with her!!....

Abby Updates

Don't you just love how alert she looks?

Abby continues to make good progress.... She is almost two pounds again (after losing the weight she needed to after birth). They are looking into taking her off the ventilator soon and putting her on a C-Pap -- however, it could happen sooner if Abby is successful at pulling her tube out again. She could also go on and off the ventilator a little in the future because of the energy it will take her to be on the C-Pap. She has been able to start pooping more on her own. Her feedings have increased to 10cc every four hours, and the feedings are becoming nutritional - and they are going to gradually start weening her from her nutrient IVs.... So far so good - We just keep counting our blessings for all of the good news.... Plus, she just keeps on getting cuter and cuter!!!

Thanks to you all for all of your prayers, love, and support!!

Daddy Holds Abby

Abby sure loves her daddy. We already knew that she liked his voice, but she also likes to lie on his chest. Soon after laying her there she starting setting off some of her machines -- but because she was too high and needed her levels of help (like oxygen) to be lowered.... Daddy's Little Girl

It is hard to describe the feelings you feel as you watch your best friend and husband - now father to your child - hold your baby for the first time. They both looked so happy, and I just enjoyed the moment.

Her little eyes seem to keep opening wider and wider for us.

This is not the Kangaroo Care that is optimal for Abby, but I sure loved it because I could look at her precious face while I held her.

Baby's First Photo Shoot

Here are a few pictures from Abby's First Photo Shoot...

Holding Daddy's Wedding Ring

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bath Time for Baby

Eyes Wide Open - had my friend come and take pictures of Abby - She didn't seem to like that much.

Nice and clean after bath time - waiting to be bundled back up

So, I gave up Kangaroo Care today, but only because I got to do something else cool. I got to help bathe my little princess. Well, I actually got to do most of it while the nurse told me what to do. We only used little disposable cloths dipped in warm water because she may not be ready for soap on her skin yet. Although, we put shampoo on her head and massaged it a little. I think Abby liked that part because of the way she was moving her eyebrows - takes after her daddy.... Too bad John wasn't there so we could have video taped it - maybe this weekend. I couldn't do bathing and Kangaroo Care in the same couple of hours because babies often get cold after bathing. However, Abby's bed kept saying she was getting warm - She must have liked the bath.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Abby's bed when she is being left alone.

A kiss good-bye from daddy (I missed the first one, but made sure to capture this one....)

It was a great day at the NICU for Abby and I. We got to start Kangaroo Care. It is not your traditional "holding", but I got to have my little princess laying on me. At one point she kept trying to turn her head, but that was not really possible since she is connected to the ventilator. She periodically set off one of her machines with her movements.... I really like today's nurse and all of the questions she could answer -- and the depth of the answers. These NICU nurses are so wonderful.

We are starting to notice little things she does. She makes some cute expressions. It is really cute when she wrinkles up her forehead. It also seems like she likes to dangle her right leg over the little pillow that keeps her contained when sleeping -- I will have to take a picture.

Oh -- It was so fun. She would open her eyes every now and then, and I would just sit and talk to her. I can usually talk to her now without tearing up. However, I decided to try singing to her, but could barely make it through singing "I Am a Child of God" to her.... It was also good that John was able to be there by the end to see us together. It is so cute watching him be a daddy. It is very cute when he talks to her....

I am excited to do it all again tomorrow....

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Roller Coaster Begins

sorry -- don't have many good pictures this time around.

Here is the bear we bought for Abby on Saturday (trying to cheer me up). One of the nurses told us how some people put a stuffed animal next to the baby to watch them grow -- taking regular pictures. This bear may be a little big, but I still think it is cute, soft, and cuddly for Abby to like later. Maybe we will end up getting a different one.... Can anyone see how good her color is looking?

So -- I knew it was coming after such a fabulous week.... First of all- John and I find it hard to believe that it has already been a week. We are still trying to realize that we are parents. We love little Abigail more and more each day. John stopped by to take some more milk to her and was able to help with her "cares" before going to work. He also got to give her a kiss on the head -- too bad I wasn't there to take a picture, but I will soon enough.

I am so grateful it is Monday and a new week beginning.... It was kind of a tough, emotional weekend for me. However, I have an amazing husband who went above and beyond to help his wife feel better.... I was getting stir crazy being at home and taking it easy - not something I do well, and it was starting to get me a little down.... I was able to cheer up thinking that I would spend the afternoon with my little Abby.

We went to the hospital in time to help with her 4:00 "cares". We were just starting to look at her and touch her some when all of the sudden we were told we had to leave because of a situation with Abby's neighbor. It had been "touch and go" for that neighbor, and now they were closing that pod.... What? You mean to tell me I can't see my baby? I was already having a rough day. The nurse said we could wait in the waiting room and come back in probably a little bit. That was our original plan, but then I just completely fell apart -- and I just needed to leave.... Why didn't anyone warn me that I could be kicked out and denied my 24 hour access? Sure, it makes sense now - but a warning would have been nice. I now know it could regularly happen, and I think I can be better mentally prepared. (Thanks for all of your help Kira!)

So, we tried to go see our Abby Sunday afternoon. They told us to call before coming -- which we did. However, by the time we arrived, things had changed. I was just starting to get set up for pumping when we needed to leave. We were very excited, too, because when
we walked in we saw her bed with the top raised up. She just looked so beautiful sleeping there and not so pent up.... They gave us a couple of minutes to see her, and we were at least able to talk to the doctor for an update before leaving.

HUMBLING EXPERIENCE: It was obvious for many reasons that things were not good for Abby's neighbor. It was difficult to be excited for how well Abby looked when your heart was starting to ache for the other family and thinking that could be me. I felt horrible as I walked through the little crowd gathered in the hall for that baby. Wow!! The emotions that ran through me.... The bed was empty today next to Abby.... Wow!! I don't even know how to express what I feel.

On a more positive note -- Abby is still doing well (even though I still feel guilty after seeing that other family). I got to change a nasty poopy diaper on her today. The medicine they gave her to help her poop must have done its job. She is almost back to her birth weight. Today she was weighing at 1lb 14 oz. Yeah!! She is up to 3cc for her feedings, and they are starting to be for nutrients, too. Her color looks so good -- even though she is doing a little more sunbathing (but they said to expect that off and on). She continues to respond well to the things they do to help her progress. She also got her umbilical lines out and has a PIC line instead. I was going to possibly get to start Kangaroo Care - holding my baby - today, but the last line to come out of her belly button was arterial(?) and had some bleeding issues - no worries, though -- just didn't want to agitate it. So, I am looking foward to going to see her tomorrow - and see if she is ready.

She did pull her breathing tube out the other night (sorry -- told some of you it was a different tube, but I learned differently). So, they had put her hands around a little pillow to keep her from doing it again. Abby likes to have her hands by her face.

She was so alive and awake during her 4:00 "cares". It was so much fun -- I can't even think of how to describe it.... Then she went to sleep -- it was kind of cute how she just sort of zonked out. The nurse was telling me how easy it is for these little guys to get worn out. I am a little sad that I wasn't getting any good pictures while her bed was raised and open, but maybe tomorrow -- too busy having fun with her.

I don't know if I can ever thank everyone enough, but Thank You, Thank You! So many people are taking such good care of us. Thank you to the ward (church) for the meals for the next couple of weeks. Thank you to everyone at school for all you have done since I am not there doing my job. Thank you for the countless thoughts and prayers in our behalf -- even from people we don't even know. Thank you! Thank you!!

We hope to be able to post more good news soon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Feisty Little Italian

Littlest Disney Fan

Tiny Little Feet

So great feeling her take my finger.

So, I know that the hards times are coming, but I have had a great last couple of days. Abby is doing such a super job!! We have so much fun going to visit her. Today she kept moving her head from where the nurse was putting it (trying to help its shaping). It was always in my direction, and the nurse said it could be because she was hearing my voice. It could also be because she likes that side, but her eyes were open through most of it -- and I like to feel like she just likes her mommy.

Yesterday's nurse said she was a feisty little one - as a compliment. I am glad, because I think I it is helping her do well. Her daddy's Italian blood is coming through. We have had so much fun with her during our last few visits. It is almost like playing with her. It is so fun to watch her with her eyes open - they keep opening wider and wider. As a biased new mommy, she is just so cute. I get more and more excited for when we get to start "Kangaroo Care" -- pretty much holding her.

Her counts continue to be good, and they have started to decrease the humidity in her incu-bed (not sure what you officially call it). Today she also graduated from the sunbathing for her jaundice. It is great to always be able to see her face. Preemies commonly have a heart murmur, but they still can't find one on Abby. She also continues to mostly receive room air through her ventilator.

I don't know if the Lord is keeping me in a little bubble and preparing me for some hard times, but I just feel so very blessed. People keep asking what John and I need, but we are so great right now. However, I keep reminding myself this could easily change and probably will.... Thank you all for the continued thoughts and prayers. They are helping....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Momma Comes Home

I came home from the hospital for the first time yesterday (Tuesday). I could have come home earlier, but they let me stay so I could be close to Abby.... I was warned by my cousin, Kira, (who has first hand experience with this) that it would be hard. Sure enough, I cried as I walked towards the car. I still felt at peace, but kept crying. I think it was also a tiny bit due to be so grateful to be outside the hospital -- since I had not done that since driving to the hospital last week.
I had ordered pictures from Wal-Mart of Abby; so, we picked those up in between my "officially" leaving the hospital and making one last visit to Abby for the day. If I couldn't bring her home, I wanted to have her picture up.... I did pretty good leaving the hospital the second time to actually go home.... Yesterday's nurse was so good to us and answering any questions, plus more (although she is not the only awesome person we have worked with) -- which helped my leaving her to go home.

I began another break down as we almost got home. It seemed like a full circle driving home, because it was dark when we left for the hospital (middle of the night), and the sun had recently set as we got home.... I really began to lose it as I walked in the door and things really began setting in.... Our awesome neighbors, the Blounts, invited us to dinner. In my "out-of-it-ness" I didn't realize we were eating dinner with them, but I think it was one of the best things we could have done. It kept our minds off of just sitting and thinking about being home without Abby. They have been such great neighbors since we met, and are very grateful for them. (Thanks, guys!!)

My dear sweet husband has been even more amazing than usual during all of this -- especially in just little things. I am so grateful for him. Johnny is such an amazing father and husband. He is so attentive in the NICU and keeping track of things with Abby.... I am just one lucky girl!!

Abby has been stable the last two nights and seems to be doing so wonderful right now. Yesterday they put a feeding tube in her to start trying to give her my milk. It is not for nutrients, but rather to help her digestive track (like the amniotic fluid used to be doing) and begin helping her immune system. They say sometimes that babies are not ready for it, and then they just hold off for a little bit. Our little fighter seems to be doing great with it on the first try. They also say that she is doing well at staying calm during her regular "cares" every four hours. It is easy to get agitated when you are being checked out, but it has to be done. They only do it every four hours to give her rest time. It is also the best time for us to be there because it is the best time to touch her -- so she can be left alone the other times. So, we are trying to start planning our visiting time around that. We get to help with her during those times and touch her.

So far so good, and we are very excited and happy. We continue to just feel so blessed. Thanks again to you all for your love and prayers!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

FYI -- Why "Rootbeer Floats"??

As a quick side note.... I am hearing that some of you are wondering about the name "Rootbeer Floats". To keep the story short - it is from when John and I were dating. It's kind of one of those goofy stories that ended up starting a tradition for us and eating rootbeer floats. We even served them at our wedding reception and shared them in addition to the cake sharing/eating. We keep A&W mugs in our freezer and make our rootbeer floats from time to time.... It is cheesey, I know -- but I was trying to come up with a unique title that would be special to us.

Small and Simple Things

Daddy taking her temperature

Opening her eyes when she heard her daddy's voice

Sunbathing for her jaundice -- posing for us like a model

I thought that the last few months taught me to be grateful for the little things -- the miscarriages of my friends and I, family illnesses and death... but I must not have learned enough....

The smallest things will be so HUGE for Abby now. We were very excited today because she pooped for the very first time, and I got to change her. The nurse wasn't concerned about it because she has not eaten anything to make her poop. She was showing me how to do my first diaper changing -- and we were all surprised and excited when we opened up the diaper and found it.

We will be up to see her again today, but we got to spend some quality time with her today. They let us help with her stat checks. John got to take her temperature, and I got to change her diaper. They also taught us how to "contain" her when she is getting distressed or over-stimulated (like after a stat check, but they have to be done). We put our hands on her feet and head and kind of hold her body close. It helps her feel like she is in the womb, and it is almost like holding her. I LOVED IT!!

She was sunbathing for jaundice when I first got up there, but we eventually got to see her whole face. She opened her eyes while her daddy was talking to her. It was so precious. John is already being such an amazing daddy!!.... It was so cute... when the cover was off her eyes, John was talking to her and she started opening her eyes the more he talked to her -- talk about wanting to cry from precious.

I still get emotional when I try talking to her when I am by myself, and I have random break downs over her -- but I am so grateful for the time we have had with her today.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Welcome to Our Blog!!

Welcome to our blog!! I am finally giving in to the persuasions of many of you to start a blog. However, I have a good reason now.

John and I have had an adventurous week.... As many of you know we were expecting a little girl in mid-February. Well, last week my water broke at 25 weeks -- for what will probably always be unknown reasons. We went to the hospital to see what it was (there was also some cramping that may have been contractions). It could have been a couple of things, but it was amniotic fluid. So, they informed me I would not be going home until our little baby was born because of the now high risk of infection. They were able to stop the cramping/contractions, and I was on track for hanging out in the hospital for a few weeks -- growing my baby.

Well, Saturday at dinner time I started feeling like I was having gas pain -- since I had been filled with so many antibiotics to protect the baby. They tried relieving that, but the pain centralized and intensified -- and they determined it was contractions. They tried to stop it, but said there was not too much they could do to be good for the baby.

Longer story shorter, Abigail Merrill -- our Baby Abby -- joined our family Sunday, November 9, 2008 at 4:43 A.M. She weighed almost two pounds, but they don't measure her length yet as they try to keep her in positions similar to the womb. She is off to a good start in the NICU and being helped by a wonderful team of people. It will be a long, hard roller-coaster, but we feel confident in the people working with our little angel. Tonight I got to touch her some and help take her temperature. I look forward to holding her, but I know it will happen before I know it.

Most of this blog will be devoted to her updates. I will leave it "open" for now, and then make it "private" soon. If you don't think I have your e-mail address, please send it to me in a comment.

The Lord truly has blessed us, and we are so grateful to the many thoughts, prayers, and love and support from so many people. We know we couldn't do this without everyone. Thank You! Thank You!! Love, John and Kim