Sunday, October 30, 2011

what a difference a month makes...

Today is Avery's 1 month birthday and to celebrate we took some comparative pictures. They really speak for themselves. I have more to write but I'm too tired so I'll post again tomorrow.

One day...
One month

the fun stuff

Through all the ups and downs we have started working on some of the fun stuff of expecting a baby, like putting together the nursery. Earlier in the summer Bill and I pretty much gutted the room next to ours in preparation of setting it up as the nursery. My mom and sister Jill came over and helped Bill install hardwood floors and paint the walls. Bill put up the wainscoting and that's as far as we made it until this weekend. This weekend we bought the first piece of furniture. A beautiful custom piece done by a fabulous little shop call Paint in my Hair. I had been looking for pieces of furniture on Craigslist when I came across one of their postings. I started reading their blog and just loved the stuff they did, so when my mom was in town this weekend I suggested we make a visit.
We found a perfect dresser that was already in the process of being finished, and Justin, the owner said if we wanted it I could pick a color to finish it in. I hadn't really settled on a color pallet for Avery's room yet, so under pressure I picked a beautiful yellow color. The top had already been finished in a dark stain and the combination is gorgeous!
Check out their blog for some pictures of the finished piece and all their other stuff. I love supporting local businesses, especially ones with fantastic stuff like theirs! I'm already brainstorming what I can get from them next or have them refinish. Better yet, maybe I'll take one of their classes...:)
Paint in My Hair:
Here are some pictures of the progress so far. I'll be sure to post more as we complete the transformation. And check back later for one month birthday pictures.
Blank slate

I guess once you rip the carpet out you're committed to new floors

Bill vs. the curtain holder thing. Bill thinks he won cause it is no longer on the wall. I beg to differ.

Floors are in and looking oh so pretty

Getting closer...
The walls look blueish in the pictures but they are actually a very light grey.

Friday, October 28, 2011

mile marker: 2 pounds

We made it! Since before Avery was even born I have been looking forward to the 2 pound mark. For some reason a 2 pound baby seemed less scary than having a 1 pound baby. I remember wishing the calculation of the 15% margin of error they say can occur in an ultrasound would put her over 2 pounds and realizing no matter how you did the math fifteen ounces never becomes 2 pounds. Until now that is. Avery put on 3 ounces between yesterday and today and hit 2 pounds 2 ounces at tonight's weigh in. She is one ounce short of 1,000 grams and that means...NO MORE GLOVES TO REQUIRED TO TOUCH OUR BABY! I can't wait. By Sunday I should be able to wash my hands, walk in and touch my little lady.
You can really start to see the changes the weight gain is having on her physically. She is starting to get both cheeks and butt cheeks. They are adorable. All four of them. Equally. She also a strong little cookie. She does what we call baby push ups and can bust right out of a swaddle if the nurses don't get her in a super bionic burrito. I don't know where she gets the energy but we love it.
Everything else has been going fantastic. She continues to tolerate her feeds well and is up to 25 calories w/ 5.8 ml of milk every hour. I'm really starting to see my milk put to use, not only in her weight gain but in the consistent requests from the nurses to bring more. It makes this momma feel good knowing that even though I couldn't grow her on the inside, I am doing my part to grow her now. And in the next few weeks we should be able to start doing binky dips where they dip her binky in my milk and start introducing it to her. And then before we know it she'll be attempting the bottle and breast feeds. But lets not get ahead of ourselves...
My parents are here this weekend to visit and see Avery. Mostly to see Avery. They too are amazed by her change. Where Bill and I have watched her grow day by day, ounce by ounce, those who don't see her every day really see the changes.
So next up is her 1 month birthday (wow!) followed by her first Halloween. There will definitely be pictures for those!

Daddy representing the 2 lb 2 ounces :)

Staring hard at my blanket

My new big girl britches.  They don't really fit her, but she needs more absorbency

Daddy and Papa

I wonder if she'll always wonder if someone is staring at her...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

quick update

Just some fun facts:
  • Avery now weighs 1 lb 10.5 ounces
  • She is 13 inches long and grew an inch and 1/4 in a week!
  • Her head is growing at a steady pace
  • She is now completely off IV feeds and is getting all of her nutrition and calories from a combination of my milk and human milk fortifier. She is up to 24 calories per feeds.
  • She went through 3 diapers and peed on her daddy all in one care
  • She is back to getting time on the cannula. Right now she only gets two 2 hour shifts, but she LOVES it and does fantastic.
  • Her apnea spells are decreasing. She is still having issues saturating w/ oxygen and is higher on her 02, but then again she grew 1.25 inches in a week, that must take a lot of energy!
  • We get to hold her again! Only once a day for now, but that is better than not holding her at all.
  • I am still completely terrified to flip her from her back to her belly and for the 2nd day in a row made the nurse do it. Hopefully some day soon I will realize I will NOT, indeed, break her in half.
  • We read her first book today and she loved it. Thank you Barkley family for starting off her personal library.
  • Her daddy took 49 pictures during a 30 minute care session. I think he likes her just a little.
  • And finally, she is still super adorable, amazing and overall awesome!
  • Thanks Nurse Gayle for my cute hair ribbon
    Story time and snuggles with daddy. Life. Is. Good.
    Just showing you all how big I am.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

how are you doing?

I suppose sometimes I forget that Avery isn't the only one who is going through all of this.  For Bill and I our lives have changed immensely in the last 8 weeks, but especially these past 3 weeks since Avery made her grand debut to the world. Suddenly my day is on a schedule that doesn't involve work, dinner, and watching our favorite tv shows.  Now my day looks like this:
3am: Wake up to pump
6am: Wake up to pump
7am-9am: nap
9am: Wake up to pump
10am: Get ready to go see Avery
11am: Pump
12pm: Leave for hospital
12:30pm: Avery's care
1:00pm: Drive home from hospital
2:00pm: Pump
4:00pm: Leave for hospital
4:30pm: Avery's care
5:00pm: Drive home from hospital
5:30pm: Pump
6:00pm: Make dinner
7:30pm: Pump
8:00pm: Leave for hospital
8:30pm: Avery's care
9:00pm: Drive home from hospital
9:30pm: Pump
10:00pm: In bed
I swear my day is consumed with pumping milk (see below for proof). We even have to buy a separate freezer just to accommodate the storage needs, although it will also be nice to be able to buy more stuff in bulk from Costco too.
The lactation consultants suggested I take one 5 hour sleep break at night to get good sleep as it can be beneficial when you are strictly pumping. I so look forward to those 5 hours. Lately the cats have been sleeping with us at night and usually sleep right at my feet. The past few nights when I feel them move I think it is Avery and it wakes me from a dead sleep. Then I realize it is not her and settle back in to a disappointed sleep. I can't wait for the day when she is waking me out of a dead sleep. I promise to never complain.
I know that in 3 weeks I will have to completely readjust my schedule when I return to work.  Mid-day visits will be more complicated to make and I will more rushed to make the after work visits. It is worth every hectic minute of our days and all the sleepy times that come with it.  After all, no matter where your baby is, sleepiness is just part of parenthood right?
Some days I can't believe it has already been 3 weeks and other days I can't believe it has only been 3 weeks.  I have tried to stop counting the days because as a kid when I counted down the days to Christmas, it only made it seem like it went that much slower. And since the only thing I want for Christmas this year is our sweet little lady at home with us I take it one day at a time.
Other than all of that I feel pretty good. A little sore some days, a little sad others, but mostly just optimistic and hopeful.
As for Avery, she's also a trooper. These past few days have been rough on our little lady. She was having issues with breathing and oxygenating her blood. They aren't exactly sure what is going on but think maybe it has to do with her blood transfusion leaving residual fluid in her body, so today they gave her a diuretic.  Hopefully it works. They have also taken away our holding time with her.  This is really hard because I had gotten used to this being a daily part of our visits.
Today the Development lady gave Avery a new product to pilot in the NICU. It is a sleep sac kind of thing that is meant to mimic the womb. It is cozy and stretchy. Preemies like to feel boundaries when they stretch out their limbs because it is what they are used to in the womb, so this is meant to give her the same sort of comforting feeling. She looks adorably cozy in it and everyone who comes in to check it out says they would take an adult size one, as would I.

Hello world

Avery's new cabana. So cozy

I swear my hand really isn't that chubby looking

Her little fingers are starting to fill out

This goes 3 rows back and stacked 2 to 3 high.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

another day, another doctor

One thing I have noticed is that depending on the day and the doctor, opinions change on what should be done with Avery.  Just the other day, the opinion was to hold the feeds at 6 ml and increase IV nutrition to help her grow. Then a new day and a new doctor and now we are advancing feeds in hopes of weening her off IV hopefully within a few weeks and thinks this is the best way to grow our little lady.  Since her little belly was getting super full getting all her milk in an hour, she is now on continuous feeds. You know that feeling when you eat SO much food in one sitting that you can barely breath? Well that is probably Avery's probably every time the were pumping her belly full of milk and she was having problems with breathing.  So now that she's on continuous feeds, she seems to be tolerating it even better.  And she's growing. Tonight she was up to 700 grams which is just over 1 lb 8 ounces. Only 300 more grams and we won't have to wear gloves every time we touch her anymore! I can't wait to hold her little hand skin on skin.
Today she was very anemic and had zero energy to do anything. It breaks my heart to see her so lethargic.  They were going to hold off on giving her another blood transfusion until tomorrow, but tonight her nurse said she is going to call her doctor to see if they can start it tonight because she is having more apnea and desats.  Hopefully by the time I see her tomorrow afternoon, she'll be a beautiful shade of tomato red. 
We were also told today that they found a spot on her head scan that could be some long, medical word that I wouldn't be able to write if I had to. Long story short, it has something to do w/ a possible cyst in her white matter that could hinder some developmental things.  According to her nurse we shouldn't be to worried, as this is something that is often questioned during preemies brain scans, but a lot of times never pans out to be anything. They will just monitor it closely. The good news is that there were no bleeds and the long medical term is the lesser of 2 evils.  Since there is nothing we can do either way, we will just put it in the hands of God and science. 
We continue to get to do daily holds and often twice daily if she is having a good day which means Bill and I don't have to split days.  She seems to absolutely love her holds and we love them equally as much. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Today was a good, check that, great day for Avery and Bill and I.  Thinking since Bill got to hold her yesterday that it might be at least a few days until we could kangaroo with her, I was surprised when her nurse Debbie asked us at which care we would like to hold again. Of course I said, now! And so we cuddled, for over an hour. And she did fabulous and slept the next 6 hours in the same position the nurse put her back in the isolet.
Our night care was filled with more surprises. Her nurse Lois took her measurements and Avery is now 11 3/4 inches long (a 3/4 in growth since birth) and 1 lb 7 ounces. She is 1 ounce away from a pound and a half and every ounce fills her out more and more. I love seeing her change right before our eyes. I suppose IF a parent has to be put in this kind of situation, it is amazing to see the transformation that would be taking place in the uterus happen out in the world.
Lois asked us if we had a chance to give her kisses yet, something I just blogged about wanting SO badly to do just yesterday. She told us that foreheads are perfect for kisses, so both Bill and I got to give her some loving. It was so sweet and special and something I would tell every parent to never take for granted. It has taken 16 days for me to be able to give my little lady her first kiss and I swear I can already picture the day when she will be telling me enough is enough because I will be making up for all those lost kisses and loves that we couldn't give her in the first few weeks of her life. 
Since Avery is such a superstar, Lois let Bill hold again tonight. Two times in one day! A-Ma-Zing! She told us that in some countries they do kangaroo care 24/7. I asked her where do I sign up because seriously we can't get enough of her. During her hold we witnessed our first A&B (apnea and bradycardia). Basically it means she stops breathing and therefore her heart rate decels significantly. By looking at the charts next to her isolet, I know she has had a handful of A&B's, but never when we are around. Surprisingly I didn't fall over in panic like I had expected to because she was in her daddy's arm and I knew she would be just fine. Sure enough she recovered like a champ. The nurse said it may have been a result of her getting her feeds at the same time as her hold and having some reflux or something. She said they expect babies her size to have A&B's and as long as she recovers it will be ok. So now that I've witnessed one and gotten through it, she can go ahead and just have them when I'm not around again.
Other than that, nothing is changing. The doctor is letting her stay on her cannula now for up to 6 hours a shift as long as she tolerates it and is still pumping her full of calories in a very thoughtful way which Avery seems to be tolerating just fine. So here's hoping that this week ahead is just as wonderful as the past was!
So sweet

Cuddle time w/ mommy

Sleeping beauty 

First kisses <3

Saturday, October 15, 2011

a special day

Avery is now 2 weeks and 1 day old and acting like a much bigger and more mature baby than she is. She has had a fantastic week. Her feeds are all the way up to 6 ml every 3 hours. That's over 1 teaspoon :) Woohoo. During our conversation w/ the doctor today, she let us know they are going to hold her feeds at 6 ml for awhile and increase her IV nutrition to see if they can get her to grow since they can give her higher caloric intake through her IV than they can through breast milk (which only gives her like 20 calories).  Growing such a small baby is a true science with lots of potential side effects, so we are completely trusting them to do what is best to put some meat on her bones.
Because her breathing is doing going so well, they are giving her 2 three hour breaks from the cpap and putting her on the high pressure cannula. The cannula is inserted only in her nostrils and doesn't need a whole mask outfit. The best part of this is we get a chance to see her pretty little face and all the hair on her head.
Today was special because it was Bill's first time holding Avery. It was one of those moments I will never forget. It is obvious she knows her daddy and loves him. When we arrived for her care, her nurse said she was being all sorts of crazy and by the time she was placed on Bill's chest she was calm and peaceful. She was wide awake and just staring at him. Ah, just the thought of it gives me chills. Eventually she settled in to a nice nap and they spent a good 45 minutes together. When the nurse went to put her back in her isolet they opened Bill's gown and Avery was completely molded on to his chest. I couldn't get my camera on fast enough to get a picture, but it was adorable. The nurse put her back in the bed and she laid there in a complete comatose state. The nurse said that if she keeps doing this well, she thinks that soon we will be able to do multiple holds in one day! I don't know how we managed to go from once a week, to every few days to hopefully soon every day and then multiple times a day. We are truly blessed to be this lucky and thank God everyday for blessing us with the experience we've had.
I'm in love with our little family and wish I could just give her big kisses all over her adorable face! I know that time will come soon and until then we will take it one day at a time. 
Today is a special day in another way. It is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and a day we remember my nephew Tyson.  Tyson has always had a special place in all of our hearts and I think about him not just on this day. Seven weeks ago when we were told that Avery's chance of survival was not good, my sister Erin told me she asked Tyson to watch over Avery and be her guardian angel through the process as he has been watching over her family since his passing. I always think of Tyson and his special place in our family, but today I remember him in a new special way as I believe he watched over Avery and had a part in giving her a chance in a world that he never had.  Thank you Tyson and thank you LaPier family for sharing your special angel with us. I look forward to the day when I can share the special connection she has with her cousin.
 My daddy says I look good in this color
Hanging with the little lady isolet side 

I'm a hand a talker
Staring at my daddy cause I love him so.  
Big beautiful eyes
 Obviously I get good looks from my handsome dad!
I love some cannula time!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

leaps and bounds

This past week Avery hasn't given me much to blog about since she has been doing so well. Because she is doing great, her doctors have increased her feeds daily.  She is now up to 4 ml every 3 hours.  5 ml is a teaspoon, so it isn't much, but for her tiny body, it literally fills her belly up.  She seems to be handling the increase in feeds well as she has very little residual left and she is pooping on a regular basis on her own.
Yesterday I got to do my second round of kangaroo care. We cuddled for 45 minutes and again she did FANTASTIC. Right now we get to only hold once a week, but hopefully if she continues to kick butt, they'll increase the holds as well. Next week Bill will get his chance to do the kangaroo care. She already knows his voice because every time he talked to her last night during the hold, she would wiggle around. So I can't wait to see them get some daddy/daughter bonding time!
Tonight at her weigh in, she was up to a whooping 600 grams! I was super excited that she broke the 600 mark. So she is not at approximately 1 lb 5 oz and she looks WAY bigger (at least to me).
Other than that, we continue to just truck along. Bill and I killed time between our visits downtown tonight. We had a romantic dinner at Jack N the Box and then hung out at the Apple store playing on the Ipad 2.  Bill played a round of Angry Birds for the first time and I played some Scrabble. I now totally want on, but can't justify spending the money when I know we have ample medical bills coming our way. But if someone wants to donate one to us...that'd be another story :) j/k. 

 Halloween decoration on her isolet
 Only 400 grams to go! Then we can go glove free.
 Stretching it out.
 Avery left a nice surprise for daddy's diaper duty. He handled it like a pro.
Family photo w/ Avery's mask free face. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

day 12...

Quote of the day:
"In my 27 years of experience, I've never seen a baby this small do this well."
-Avery's nurse

The quote about sums it up. Avery has had a fantastic week so far. She is back on her feeds and today the increased them from 1 ml every 3 hours to 2 ml every 3 hours. She has had very little residual left in her belly and the blood they were finding early no longer seems to be an issue. So hopefully slowly, but surely we'll start to see some weight gain one ounce at a time. She is already back up to her birth weight, so as long as she tolerates her feeds well, before we know it we won't even recognize our little lady.
I also got the chance to talk to the doctor about the official eco scan of her heart. He said there was a very small PDA, but they will continue to just monitor closely for now but that she isn't showing any signs of it in any other way.
Today her day nurse, Wanda, told me her and the other nurse in the room, Roy, argued over who got to work with Avery today. Wanda won. She's just that awesome that everyone wants to work with her. Wanda also surprised me with Avery's first pair of pants.  Apparently while folding laundry, another nurse who worked with Avery this past weekend, came across a pair of pants that she looked at and thought there was no way they would fit any of the babies in the NICU because they were so small. Then she remembered Avery and thought they would be perfect for her. As you'll see from the pictures below, she may have over estimated Avery's size just a bit :) But she looked super adorable anyways.
Tomorrow I have my follow up appointment for my c-section. Hopefully everything is healing like it should be.  It is really hard to take it easy after being on bed rest for 5 weeks, but I am doing the best I can to not push things too fast or hard. 
 She looks like one of the weigh loss commercials :)

Baby got back...well not really, but the pants help. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

it is a good day... be Miss Avery Eller.
The doctor called me this morning with an update since I didn't make it to the morning visit. This was her first time working with Avery and she said she is so impressed with Avery's ability to breath and even called her 'marvelous.' She said she wasn't too concerned with the residual blood in her stomach and started her milk again, but still only in small amounts; 1 ML every 3 hours.  Tonight while we were there the nurse checked her stomach and pretty much all the milk had been digested and there was no more residual blood. 
The doctor said they were giving her a break from labs today because she earned her day off :) She sure has. The poor little girl has been poked, prodded, and picked more than most people I know in the first 11 days of her life. So a day off is well earned!
The best news we got today was that Avery had a great night last night, which means she tolerated the kangaroo care like a champ! Which hopefully means someday in the near future, daddy will get his chance to kangaroo her.
So here are some pictures of our birthday 'celebration' for Bill's birthday.  Avery and day nurses made him a card (mostly the nurses) and Avery gave her daddy some big googley eyes:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

my baby roo.

So we're on day 10 in the NICU and Avery has rebounded awesome from yesterday's events.  They started her feeds again today and I was able to give her some fresh milk as I used the NICU's pump room while my mom said good bye to Avery. It has been so nice having my mom here to help out this past week and Avery will miss her as will Bill and I.
This afternoon at 4:00, she was getting a new head mask that was a size bigger to hopefully aleviate some potential skin break down .  Preemie's skin is so sensative that having something like that mask on all day, everyday can cause some issues.  Her new gear looks more roomy and cozy, so hopefully it helps.
The nurse at that visit said she was going to let me hold Avery until the Respiratory Therapist decided to change her mask out. Holding and changing would have been too much in a short time for such a little being, so she said she wasn't able to do it. I have learned not to get my hopes up in terms of holding, so I didn't take it personally.
The nurse also told me that I am out pumping Avery and have already moved in to my 2nd storage bin in the NICU freezer.  They suggested we start storing some of it at home for a later use because if I am producing this much milk I should have no problem keeping up with her needs. That news made this momma very proud and happy.
At our night visit, the nurse informed me that I needed to make a decision, to do full care or to hold her. Of course, after a second of thought, I chose to hold. After we finished with the essential tasks, she set me up for our first round of kangaroo care (for those who don't know, this is skin on skin contact holding). She snuggled her in to my tank top and told me to be very still and quiet. For about a half an hour we got to sit like this. It was amazing! It felt like Avery was back where she was meant to be; with me. I have struggled with knowing that her time was cut short in the comforts of the womb and sometimes feel extreme loss from the pregnancy ending so early and abruptly.  I miss her and I, and this moment was the closet I can get to fulfilling the time we need together.  And she tolerated it so well. That half hour seemed like forever to me, in the best sort of way. The nurse said that now they will see how she does following the hold, to see if she has any decels in her heart from exhaustion, agitation, etc. If that is the case, we probably won't kangroo care again until she's a little bigger. If she does well, then we will probably be able to do it once a week until she can build up more stimina.  I cannot wait for tomorrow afternoon's visit to see how she did!!
The nurse did inform us this evening that she has some concerns w/ pulling blood out of her stomach. She said that it is possible it is a side effect of the meds she was on for her PDA, a stress ulcer, or bleeding from her transfusion. The blood was fresh and red, which would be an extra, immediate, really bad kind of thing. So she is going to notify the doctor and agreed to call if anything changed. I hope my phone doesn't ring tonight...

Daddy diaper change

Apparently you can hold a preemie the same way you hold a kitten
Getting situated for some kangaroo caring.

Holdind hands.  
Family photo 
Totally in love.