Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, everyone!  The three of us have had a very relaxing two days at home curled up, mostly in jammies and enjoying each other's company.  We opted not to stress through Christmas Eve and Christmas day due to our crazy work schedules - but we are so very glad we chose this cozy Christmas at home.  We will get to spend a longer period of time at home with family here soon, and we are very excited about that!

Sarah is growing faster than I ever dreamed she would, and this is one of those things I just couldn't see when we were in the hospital with our little 2lb baby girl.  We are so very glad for all the love and support of everyone throughout this year and can't wait to see what the next year holds.  Be watching for some exciting things to come in the Nally household in the days to come!

Christmas Decor changes a bit when you have a little one!



Sunday, December 2, 2012

God Gave Me You

My how time flies!  Six months can change so much.


11/27/11
I find myself thinking of this time of year fondly these days.  It was just a year ago that we knew for sure that we were expecting a little one.  I had a gut feeling at least a week before, but I couldn't confirm it until we got back from our Thanksgiving trip to Florida.  Oh how I wish we had known just a few days earlier so we could have shared the news in person - but alas... I wasn't about to jinx my happy little secret.  I don't think I will ever view Thanksgiving the same again.  We didn't realize that she would be here, in the flesh within just 6 short months from our discovery.  

At this same time of year, we arrive at Sarah's six month "birthday" if you will.  It's so hard to believe my little one is already six months.  We had an excellent doctor's visit on Wednesday.  He said that she was developmentally right up there with a normal six month old, even though she's only the size of a four month old.  She's starting to catch up even more to those at her adjusted age.


Here's where we are at SIX months:

Height & Weight:  She weighed in at 12lbs 9oz (36%), was 24" long (51%), and her head [poor baby] was in the 82%...   She's skinny and top heavy.  I'm sure part of why she's having trouble with the whole balancing/tummy time/sitting up stuff.  The only downside from our doctor's appointment is that we've noticed Sarah crossing her eyes in almost all her pictures.  We're going to another eye doctor appointment next week to make sure everything is a-ok with her eyes.  Though, I'm really not sure what you do for a baby if they have eye issues... Do they have baby glasses?  

Clothing:  She's transitioning from the 3 month clothes to the 6 month clothes.  There are some things in the 3 month range that have been pulled from the rotation, and others that are just starting to look a little tight.  Each day I pull out a new outfit expecting it to be GIANT on her, and am surprised when it fits or is even a little tight.  The Newborn size clothes look SO tiny in the stores these days!

Diapers:  We made the official jump to Size 2s.  I didn't want to wait for accidents to start happening, so we just went ahead and switched.  They don't leave as many marks around her legs like the Size 1s did, which was the main reason why I wanted to switch.

Eating:  We really haven't made any real progress on increasing feeds at this point.  She's still at 4-5oz; with an occassional 6oz bottle.  We did start baby cereal in early November, which was pretty hilarious.  (You can watch our first experience if you click here).  Since then we've started doing a little cereal twice a day.  She's really gotten into it along with trying to grab the spoon if you're not feeding fast enough.  We've tried bananas, peas, and peaches.  So far, peas were the only thing that she actually ate without making a face.  I think the fruits are still a little too smooth for her.  The peas seemed to be closer to the consistency of the cereal.  I think later tonight we're going to try sweet potatoes!  

11/27/12
Sleeping: Night time sleeping is still amazing.  It is incredibly rare to have a night time feeding these days.  And normally she will sleep 10-11 hours at night.  (I know, all you new moms are turning pea green...)  As much as I was excited at my last post, we have slipped back into not sleeping in regular intervals during the day, and honestly I just can't quite figure out what is wrong - to be saved for another post, though...

Quirks:  She has really come to life it seems in the last month or so.  She has really become hands-on with her toys, grabbing, exploring, putting things in her mouth.  She sits in the high chair with us for meals occasionally and is really curious about what we're doing eating.  I feel like she's making connections with it all.  She's gotten really bad about watching the TV if it's on in a room, so we try to not have it on when she's awake and around.  We want to limit her exposure to that for now.  She still loves to watch the fan and loves bath time.  She prefers to ride in the stroller looking out instead of cooped up in her carrier looking at us.  


Sarah's getting so big and starting to be so independent!  It's so hard for me to look back and connect the tiny, helpless being in the isolette to the lively and spirited child that we have today.  

For all those out there that might be going through a NICU experience with a new baby... Please know that it IS just a season, and life does move on and slowly begin to get normal.  We no longer have to explain why our child is so tiny when we go out for dinner.  I just smile and say 6 months, and no one bats an eye.  

11/29/12 - Our non-nap nap... :)  Happy 6 months!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lullaby (again...)

So, this is definitely a celebration post!  Hurray!  It's about time for a more upbeat mood in the Nally house.

I went to my doctor last Wednesday, and honestly - it was just talking to someone and having someone tell me what I was doing for my child obviously wasn't working.  I mean, I KNEW we should start getting on a more specific schedule, but I was kind of waiting for it to naturally happen.  It definitely helps that she has a little boy that is just slightly younger than Sarah developmentally - so we're in the exact same boat with baby ages and such.  She and I worked through what was wrong with Sarah and what we could do to fix her schedule so she could be a happier baby... Honestly... probably a conversation my pediatrician should have had with me instead of my OB.  No matter, her getting a little stern with me and telling me that it was crazy how long I was letting her stay up - did the trick.

We entered into what I like to call "nap time bootcamp" on November 1, the day after my appointment.  Almost immediately Sarah went from having to nap in our arms to being willing to lay down for naps in her crib.  We have written out a schedule of very specific times and have stuck to it religiously.  It has done wonders for both of us.  Sarah is a happier, more well adjusted baby - and I'm a lot more sane and actually feel like I can fully concentrate on things one at a time.  While I was working and holding and playing... it all seemed like it had to happen at the exact same time - all in PJs and no shower, because... when your baby wants to be held 24/7, who has time to shower?

Thankfully, I can now fully concentrate on things one at a time.  When she's awake, it's Sarah play time.  When she's asleep it's momma's work time (work or housework or self-care, depending).  It's been much easier for Jim to care for her on the Saturdays that I'm not there because we don't have the screaming tantrums anymore that used to drive both of us crazy.

While it's not perfect... I must say, the few 10 minute crying bouts that happen occasionally are far easier to deal with than the constant fussiness.  She has also started sleeping through the night more and more consistently.  Honestly, I can't really remember the last time she got up in the middle of the night.  I think it's been since early last week.  She goes to bed at 7:30 and doesn't get up until 6am!  We can watch a movie, play a game, clean up dinner, eat in peace... have a little mom and dad time before we crash at.... 9.

I think the hardest part of it all is that her first daily feeding right now happens at 6am.  And honestly... 6am just comes SO early, even though I'm sleeping through the night.  This morning, I will admit that she and I slept in until 7.  I rolled over and realized how late it was!  But she was still sleeping so I didn't feel so bad.  Though, our schedule has been slightly off today, I'm almost back on schedule and it's just now lunchtime.

I've even been able to bring her to work and devote more time in the office on Thursdays.  Today, we're trying out going through 2 full naps here in the office in the pack-n-play.  The first one seems to be successful so far!  When she wakes up, I have a little play mat here for her to play on and help entertain herself while I continue being productive.  This will bring my actual "in office" time to almost 3 full days a week which definitely helps me to keep my life a little more compartmentalized and be able to be fully wherever I am.

Well... my break is over and I should get to work now that I know she is indeed asleep in there!

11/8/12: Sleeping at momma's office!


Friday, November 2, 2012

You Are My Sunshine

Happy 5 months to my little girl!  Ok... so it was 4 days ago, but I definitely have been working hard this week - so Sarah and I are taking a slightly leisurely morning before the madness of my weekend kicks in!  It's the big Nutcracker casting reveal weekend, so I'm busy finalizing schedules and packet contents - making copies, stuffing, sorting... Making sure everything is as accurate and informative as possible.  WHEW!  All for almost 200 kids.  It's a big job.  But it's my big annual fall puzzle that I absolutely love.

Sarah and I went to the doctor on Halloween morning.  She now weighs 11 pounds 4 ounces!  My BIG girl!  She started rolling over a week or so ago, completely out of the blue.  I set her down for tummy time and was so impressed with how well she was pushing up, that I grabbed the camera.  So glad I did!  Within 20 seconds of starting a video, she had completely rolled over for the first time.  She did it several times and for several days afterwards.  The last few days have seemed to revert back to her face planted in the blanket and not knowing how to do anything.

Right now our biggest battle is working out a CONSISTENT schedule.  My biggest source of frustration, anger, and depression seems to be stemming out of inconsistency and when things don't work out smoothly.  I'm finding that I need to be much more methodical in how I approach feeding and naptime to help Sarah be a happier baby and me to be a happier momma.  We are in the middle of naptime bootcamp right now.  Trying to learn what naptime is - what the signs that it's time to sleep is - when it's ok to get up... all of that.  I need her to know the boundaries as well as me and everyone else caring for her.  Please pray with us as we struggle through some difficult naptimes!

One thing that we are very blessed with is that Sarah has been more and more consistently sleeping through the night!  Hallelujah!  When she sleeps through the night, she will sleep up to 11 hours at a time, which is AMAZING.  It gives Jim and I some time to watch a show, or chat or play a game or even just eat dinner without juggling a baby around and then still get a decent night's sleep.  Every few nights she'll still get up between 3-5am.  But even those feedings are usually quick and painless.


Here's where we are at FIVE months:

Height & Weight:  She weighed in at 11lbs 4oz.  They didn't measure her length at the doctor this time.  I'm going to have to break out the measuring tape and figure it out myself, I believe.  She is now in the 32% in weight of babies born at her due date.  And her head is in the 66% of babies born at her due date.

Clothing:  She is most certainly in the 3 month sizes.  Some of the 3 month clothes are even starting to be too tight on her while some of the 0-3 month clothes are still too big!  She has a 3-6 month sleeper that she mostly fits in already as well... 

Diapers:  We are teetering between Size 1 and Size 2.  Technically (according to the package), Size 2 starts at 12lbs.  But they seem to fit her pretty well.  The Size 1s are starting to leave red marks around her legs like they're too tight.  I think after we use up what's open, we'll move on in size!

Eating:  Right now she's eating 4-5 oz of formula at a time.  It can be anywhere from 2.5-3 hours usually before she needs to eat again.  We're working on stretching that out slightly to be consistent at 3 hours and working on increasing her amounts.  That way she will nap better and sleep better.  The doctor has oked us to start trying baby cereal and fruits and vegetables!  We haven't tried anything just yet.  I'm wanting to make sure we find a time that we can take our time with it and both Momma and Daddy are here to take pictures and experience it together

Sleeping:  She's doing great at sleeping at night!  Up to 11 hours - though naptimes are our big nemesis.  Naptime bootcamp has begun!

Quirks:  We find her in the corner of her crib most mornings.  It seems she likes to travel and move as much as possible!  She easily smiles at people and at things she finds funny.  Her laughs are still reserved for mornings and most usually with Momma.  Though, occasionally she'll start laughing during a bottle, which I find terribly cute.  We're working on being more consistent with holding our head up and rolling over.  She's also doing well at sitting up when supported - though she's a long way off from sitting up on her own.  

10/29/12: 5th Month Birthday!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

When Darkness Falls

When Darkness Falls is a song by the duo Jenny & Tyler.  I was introduced to them through my father's radio show Soul2Soul.  If you haven't heard of either of these things, you need to!  The latest Jenny & Tyler album is on constant repeat in my car right now.  It's one of the few things that will help calm Sarah down in the car... Though sometimes it has to be blasted at top volume!  Luckily it calms me down too in those moments where she and I are both at wits end.  The only place I can find to listen to the song online for free is HERE.  So, sorry for the lack of video this time.

While I've been struggling along with my Postpartum issues, I've been quite disconnected.  From family, from friends, from church... and from God really...  My heart is longing to be whole again and to not constantly feel under attack.  I'm continuing to seek treatment from medical professionals in addition to seeking God and His joy that we all know is the ultimate answer.  In this season, this album, and more specifically this song has really helped me find calm in those moments that I feel tossed in the wind.  This is my anthem.

When darkness falls at evening time 
And all the world is still
My heart feels restless, oh my God
It longs to be filled 

Oh Father rescue me from doubt
Deliver me from grief
Let your joy in me abound
Remove my unbelief, remove my unbelief 
I hear the wind rush through the trees
A peaceful whistling sound
But still my soul is not at ease
And sleep cannot be found 

You are stillness, you are quiet
You are comfort and peace 

10/21/12

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Overcome

So, I've literally started and stopped writing this post for several weeks now.  Being the perfectionist I am, and the intensely private person I can be (though you may not think so...) it's been a difficult subject for me to broach. I feel compelled to share the full story of our little family - so here goes.

Since coming back to work, life has been moving a break-neck speed.  Going here, going there, going everywhere!  Sarah's been a road warrior with me, and such a trooper!  The back and forth stresses us both out a little, but... for the time being - it is working.  On top of the craziness of my schedule, I've been battling Post-Partum Depression.  It's not a fun thing.  It's not something people talk about.  The doctor initially put me on some meds, which helped.  I even came off them for a while when Sarah came home.  But, once I started back to work - the dark cloud has come back with a vengeance.  I'm tired.  I'm angry.  I'm stressed. My hormones have still not settled down.  My life feels like this roller coaster of emotions that just will

not.

slow.

down.

I finally broke down and called the doctor and she upped my meds.  I have just started the increased regimen.  It has definitely helped me focus on the positive things in life and start to enjoy life with Sarah again.      I no longer want to punch holes through the walls and I don't want to curl up in a ball all day long.  While I'm still battling, still struggling, still coming out of hiding - it is getting better day by day.  Thankfully.  I had about reached my wits end.

Because... really... Who wouldn't love this face?

9-20-12

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Forward Motion

I feel like I should now change the blog title, to Confessions of a Failed Supermom...  HA!  The last two weeks have been so incredibly humbling to me.  I just CAN'T be everything that I want to be.  It's just simply impossible.  To be everything I want to be, I must 1) be a fully committed full-time mom. AND 2) be a fully committed workaholic.

A few weeks ago at work we did a DiSC assessment.  If you know anything about DiSC and want to know what my letter is, I'm actually at a dead tie between the S and C.  I was a little indignant at first, because I had always felt like I associated better with the I, but the more I struggle with it, the more I realize my personality really isn't that.  It may have been more so that way in college, but as I'm aging and settling into life, I'm definitely a STRONG C.  C's thrive on quality control and perfection.  My how that has been a huge issue for me these past few weeks.

I can't tell you how many times I've lost my temper or ended up in tears right along with Sarah as she cried and picked the most inconvenient times to get hungry or to just need me.  I start to get mad at her, as if she KNEW what was "interrupting".  Oh how I wished she understood me - but then again... maybe not.  My pleas for "just 5 more minutes" might be heard, but then again, I don't want her to ever feel like she's not my priority.

I get so overwhelmed and mad at her for wanting whatever it is she wants - and then I get mad at MYSELF for being mad at her.  It's just a big circle of mad.  And you know what kills me about all of it?

No one told me this was normal....

Not until I started talking with some people, did I find out that I'm not alone.  Which, definitely helps.  But it also doesn't stop me from wanting to fix it.  So fix it I will try, and I will fail.  But hopefully in the midst of those failures and selfish moments, there will be victories and forward motion.

My prayer is that I'm open and honest with what I'm going through, so that someone else might know that they aren't alone.  The isolated feeling is probably one of the biggest ways that the enemy can keep us down and get us to doubt our faith.

I just have to breathe and remember that no matter what, my baby IS my priority and everything else will come in time and that I can't do everything at once.

Just breathe.


Monday, August 13, 2012

We are Family!

We had a fabulous weekend with family, Sarah's dedication at church, and the church shower!  Instead of regaling you, I'm just going to show you!

8-12-12:  Sarah's dedication at church.

8-12-12: Beautiful decorations at the shower!  Thank you, everyone!!!

8-12-12:  Just SOME of the wonderful new outfits that have been recently added to Sarah's wardrobe.
8-11-12:  Meeting new family members!  Especially excited about having all five generations of Bechts together!
 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beautiful Things

We finally made it to our due date!  I must say, yesterday was a little rough on me, but we did  make it through!  It was our first time having to leave Sarah with a babysitter.  I'm sure it's always rough leaving your child for the first time - but my baby's less than 6lbs (we think!).  She's still so tiny and helpless.  She did great though, and I'm so proud of her.

I officially started back to work full time this week.  I haven't talked much about our plans for the fall until it got here just in case something changed, but I am so very thankful for the fine folks at Nashville Ballet and working with me as we continue to transition.  Prior to my maternity leave, we were planning for me to be working full time during the days instead of the nights and weekends I was working.  This was going to allow me more time with Jim and Sarah together as a family.  We were SO excited, despite the need for full time daycare.

In the midst of my recovery from surgery and our NICU time, the Brentwood office gal gave her two weeks and it prompted discussions of what if I moved down there to make it a little easier on me travel wise (It's at least about 15 minutes closer to my house than I was before) and then I would also be back to working evenings and weekends, but it would be a lot less time required in the evenings than at the main campus.  The rest of the time, I'll be mostly working from home, and spending one day a week up at our main campus in the office.  This means that Sarah only needs someone to watch her one day a week!  The rest of the time she can hang out with me while I'm working from home!  I'll be continuing a lot of my communications tasks, database maintenance and quality control tasks, and switching some of my customer service tasks to our Brentwood campus.  I'll also still be the staff contact for our youth casts for our productions and working closely with Nashville's Nutcracker - which is seriously one of the BEST parts of my job.  :)

This has been a serious answer to prayer.  I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom with my kids.  I never felt comfortable with someone else raising my children and me just feeding them and putting them into bed at night.  Honestly, if that's what you have to do, you do it.  We were totally planning on it and prepared for it.  Though, I had been praying for a way to be able to be at home with her - and honestly I couldn't see how that was going to be possible as we completely need both full time incomes to make it.

This transition into work-from-home/evenings and short Saturdays has been the 100% ideal situation to make it all balance and work!  A complete answer to prayer.  I also think it's worth mentioning that today is my 1 year anniversary at Nashville Ballet as a staffer, and I am so excited about what this next year has to hold.  (They haven't paid me anything to brag about them, I promise!  They really are just that great.)

In other news, we're having family come in this weekend for Sarah's baby dedication at church.  We are incredibly excited to be sharing Sarah with our church family and to make the very public statement that we want to raise her to be living for Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately not all our family can make it due to the distance, but we are very lucky to have most of the mine and Jim's grandparents, our parents, siblings, and also my great-grandmother with us.  We are so fortunate to introduce Sarah to her great-great-grandmother!  Be looking for pictures and updates after this weekend.  It's sure to be a special time!  If you would like to be a part of it, but can't be there our church does stream their services online. You can go to  www.fulllifeag.com for the streaming video on Sunday.  Our service starts at 10 a.m. central time.

The two weekends after that will be filled with additional family coming from quite a distance to meet Sarah.  We are thrilled to share her.  Hopefully soon we'll be able to start to travel a little with her as our schedules allow!

8/7/12: I'm a full term baby now!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Carry Me

For a myriad of reasons, this past week has been difficult.  I'm definitely still dealing with the physical and emotional after effects of not only having a baby, but traumatically at that.  Don't get me wrong - I am SO thankful for how God has brought us through to this point.  His provision has been more than I could ever dream of.  When Sarah is crying uncontrollably in the middle of the night, it just surfaces every feeling of inadequacy and helplessness that I've felt through this whole experience.

Luckily we're getting there.  Every day, it seems we learn a little more of Sarah's personality and needs.  I'm so glad I invested in the book, The Happiest Baby on the Block.  While I felt like I knew how to calm an unhappy baby, the principles in this book have been EXACTLY what Sarah needs to calm right down.  We live and breathe by the 5 S's he lays out.  If you're having trouble calming a baby, I highly recommend checking it out.  I'm fascinated by the idea that in some cultures colic doesn't exist and what we do here in the States that causes it.

Hopefully through some of the principles in the book, we can help nurture a confident and secure young lady.  I find myself thinking about what she is going to be like, what her interests are going to be, what she'll want to be when she grows up.  Those are some very special moments, cuddling and talking about the future together.  Sometimes, I swear she understands me.

Sunday we celebrated Sarah's two month birthday, and followed it up with a doctor's appointment on Monday.  She had several shots and she did NOT like that.  She was sore and swollen for about 24 hours afterwards.  Tylenol and gentle handling were definitely necessary.  It definitely hurt to hear her crying in pain like that.

Here's where we are at TWO months:

Height & Weight:  She weighed in at 5lbs 6oz and was 18.25" long.

Clothing:  She also officially is fitting in her Newborn sizes even better!  It seemed like over night her legs started fitting in the legs of her sleepers a little better.  Some styles are still too big, but there are several things now starting to fit better.

Diapers:  She's also firmly into Newborn sized diapers.  Occasionally still blows out of them.  My little girl has no problems in that department!

Eating:  She was eating about 2-2 1/2oz of breast milk and some formula (only twice a day) at her birthday.  She definitely doesn't like the formula.  Hopefully the doctor will let us come off it soon, and hopefully Mommy's milk will continue to be enough!  She strongly prefers the breast milk over formula.  Formula feedings are messy and lengthy.  Around Wednesday evening, she started eating anywhere from 2-5oz at a feeding.  We're pretty certain she's going through a growth spurt.

Sleeping:  Sarah sleeps in bursts of 2-5 hours at night.  We've only had a handful of nights that are 5 hour spurts, but we definitely enjoyed them!  We're closer to 3-4 hours on a regular basis.  Though, sometimes our night time feedings will take 20 minutes or well over an hour.  Depends on how she's feeling that night.

Quirks:  One of her favorite faces is putting her mouth in a tight O shape.  It looks like she's trying to whistle or give you a quick kiss!  Super cute!  She prefers to be swaddled and held most of the day.  Mom is going to try out a Moby wrap when she starts working from home again!  She's learning to hold her head up during tummy time, and is doing quite well.  She's also figured out how to wiggle out of almost every swaddle known to man.  The other day, she not only wiggled all the way out of it, but turned around in bed!  One of our favorite things is the Wubbanub!  It helps keep the paci in her mouth a little better, and it's not easily lost!  Love, love it.  We highly recommend the Wubbanub!

It's so hard to believe that her due date is only 4 days from now.  My how far we've come!  I never thought I'd be BACK to work before my due date.  I'm incredibly grateful for a company that values me and has helped work out a solution for this phase of our lives.  I will be working in the evenings in the office and during the day, I'll be able to work from home mostly.  Sarah will not have to go to daycare for her first year of life at the very least!  Hooray!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Nashville Ballet!

Here are a few pictures from this past week:

7/13/12: One of our favorite faces

7/16/12: 7 weeks old!

7/31/12: Officially 9 weeks old!

7/31/12: getting free of the swaddle


Friday, July 27, 2012

A New Day Has Come


We had a doctor's visit on Monday and Sarah weighed in at 5lbs 1oz!  She's on track to be about 6lbs (if not a little more) by her due date!  We also had a quick blood test to see how she was doing and if she needed to continue on her iron supplement, and she passed!  When we finish up the bottle of vitamins she's on, we can move over to regular plain ole vitamins.  Yay!  She's sleeping a little better this week, too.  The last two nights in a row, she's had a 5 hour stretch of sleep.  Jim and I have been happy with that.  Though I must say it's a little disconcerting waking up and realizing how late it is.  She has been eating normally and happy in the mornings, so I'm not too concerned about it.  I'm not really willing to let her go past 5 hours right now, though since her belly is so little and she needs to eat.

In other news, we're officially moving on from Preemie sized things!  She started leaking out of her preemie diapers like crazy earlier this week.  So I'm trying out newborn sized diapers.  They seem to hold better and aren't too ridiculously big on her.  The newborn sized clothes are a big leap bigger from the preemie sized clothes, but she really doesn't fit in the preemie sizes anymore.  The sleepers are falling off her shoulders because when she stretches out her legs, it pulls to tightly.  I never thought I'd be so sad to move out of the preemie sizes.  One one side, it's SO exciting that she's starting to be the size and temperament of a full term regular baby.  On the other, she's starting to feel heavy and not fit in one arm anymore.  She's getting so BIG!

Pictures from this past week.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sweet Sweet Baby

I've always heard that having a child of your own quickly starts teaching you about the love that God has for us.  I would agree with that, and I would say that it on gets more distinct as you continue - and she's only been home a week!  When she's been crying uncontrollably, I find myself saying "I'm right here."  "I know you hurt." "I have your food right here."  "Stop crying, Momma's here."  "I know what you need."  "I need you to calm down, please."  How often is it that God is saying those exact same things to us, as we're screaming and crying and not REALLY listening?  There's a lot to chew on there, and I'm sure that will be another entry for another day.

Earlier this week, we had one completely sleepless night.  She was crying out in pain from gas.  She was belching and tooting like you wouldn't believe and would cry out in pain right before doing so.  We've had nights like that most every night since, with only a couple nights of "normalcy".  We are praying for patience and that the sleep we do get will be restorative.

This past Thursday morning, after one of our worst nights of pain and being up all night, we made our way to the eye doctor.  We had to be up there at 7:30 at Centennial.  Talk about an early morning for a family with no sleep!  I really wanted Jim to go with me, as I wasn't sure how emotional I would be.  Sarah took the check-up like a champ.  She pretty much stayed asleep during both sets of dilating drops.  When it came to the actual exam, it was the doctor and two aides that came in.  The girls helped take notes and open her eyes up.  The actual exam probably took less than 60 seconds all together.  They were only looking at the blood vessels that grow from the back to the front of the eye to make sure they're developing properly.  He said she looked absolutely great!  She needs no follow up visits at all.  Now, she could still be near or far sighted, but we won't know that until she's older, like any other child.  We are so thankful that nothing is seriously wrong with her vision.

Tomorrow we head back to the pediatrician for another weight check-in.  I am now armed with a few more questions, as I really didn't know what to ask at our last visit.  Now that we've had over a week with her to get to know her quirks and specific things that I want his input on.  I'll have to update you on how she's doing!  I'm thinking she might even be over 5lbs now.  She's feeling quite heavy these days.  Since she was 4lbs 10oz last week and she's supposed to gain about an ounce a day, that is completely doable!

7-22-12: Making silly faces!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lullaby

Well life is starting to settle into a routine around here.  Starting.  But life with an infant is never quite in a routine.  Luckily Sarah is still pretty firm on her every three hour feedings that the hospital put in place.  Every once in a while, she wants to eat after only two hours or occasionally will sleep for four hours.  We never let her go past four hours right now.

We went to the pediatrician on Monday for our first routine check-up.  She was "perfect" as he said!  She weighed 4lbs 10oz and was 17.5 inches long.  We aren't on any type of quarantine situation with her at all.  We just need to limit the people who touch her and for few that get to hold her right away, we have to make sure their hands are clean!  We're going back to the doctor on Monday for another weight check-in just to make sure she's continuing to grow properly.

We moved our eye appointment to Thursday morning so that it didn't conflict with Jim's work schedule this week.  Hopefully that goes well!  We're praying for a good report.



Sunday, July 15, 2012

Feels Like Home

Wow!  It's been such a whirlwind start to our weekend!  We are so beyond THRILLED to say our sweet baby Sarah is home with us.  We no longer have to make multiple daily trips to the hospital nor do we have to handle her through holes in a plastic box.  We can cuddle and hold and feed and burp to our hearts content.

Friday morning, we saw the nurse practitioner around 9 am or so.  She said that she looked great!  She did make an appointment for us to go visit a specialist to check her eye development.  Since she was born so early, she has a higher risk of eyesight issues.  We're praying and believing that there are no major issues found!  She has such beautiful and expressive eyes - I find it hard to believe that anything could be wrong with them.  I guess we'll find out on Tuesday.

After our final session with the Lactation Consultant and working out a feeding plan for our little one, we waited until about 11:30-12ish until we were released.  The hospital has a policy that they have to wheel you out in a wheel chair - even for us who didn't just give birth.  The volunteer came, and we loaded up and headed to the car.  On the way out, we stopped and checked out at the nurses station.  It was so exciting to tell all these nurses who had gotten to see us checking in daily that we were finally going home!  We also went past one of our favorite NICU nurses on her way to lunch, and she was congratulating us and telling us how happy she was for us.  It was impossible to contain the tears of joy as we rolled onto the elevator together.  The moment that I never thought we'd reach was here.

The drive home was uneventful and Sarah did well in the car.  She was a little fussy getting into the car seat so I was worried that the whole ride home was going to be so.  Once she was settled and buckled in though, she did great.

Our first afternoon was spent figuring out how we were going to start doing some things.  I placed her in her crib and about had a panic attack that I couldn't see her - even with the monitors going.  Being at higher risk for apnea I was afraid she'd stop breathing and I wouldn't know it.  Between that and the fact that she sleeps better with noise, I set up the Pack-N-Play in the living room so she can sleep out there while we're up and moving around.  The crib is only reserved for when we're all asleep currently.

She's done great sleeping and feeding at home.  I found a handy journal at Target a few weeks back, a "New Mom" journal.  It helps us keep track of her feedings and her diapers and anything else significant that goes on.  It's my lifeline right now as we try and figure out what works and what doesn't.  It also helps communicate between Jim and I while we're getting up at different times through the night.  That way we don't have to wake each other up to report what she did last.  I absolutely love it.

Our first night was excellent.  Jim took the first shift and just stayed up until her 1 am feeding, while I went to bed around 10.  I then had the 4 am responsibility.  She ended up waking up an hour early for the 4 am, but she was ravenous and gulped down a sizable bottle.  I went to bed and reset my alarm to be ready for the 6 am feeding.  Next thing I know, I rolled over and the clock said 7 am!  Oh no!  It had been 4 hours since our last feeding and we'd been going every 3 hours.  I quickly asked Jim if he had gotten up with her at 6 to let me sleep, but he hadn't.  Neither one of us had heard the alarm.  I ran in to make sure she was still breathing and she was just laying there - blankets kicked off, wiggling and looking around content as can be.  So we got a little more sleep than I had thought we would!

Saturday was great as well.  Jim's parents had been planning on coming down to bring us a rocking chair.  It belonged to Sarah's great-great grandmother - used to rock her Great-Grandmama Nally to sleep in as a baby.  What a special furniture addition to her room.  It's already been well loved in the last 18 hours it's been here!

I should probably head back to bed.  I got up to give Sarah her 3 am feeding and wanted to get all these thoughts out of my head before I forgot.

Thank you all for your constant prayers, love and support.


Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you.
-Jeremiah 1:5

Sleeping peacefully in her bed!  A special thanks to Christine and Eddie for handing down the swaddler.  It's been awesome!  Makes her stay bundled up while she sleeps.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Here Comes The Sun

Well, we're all dressed and busting to get out of the hospital.  The NICU currently has 9 babies in there.  I've been told that they normally only have 2-3 babies - so, they're a little busy!  Since Sarah is the most stable out of them all, we're last on the list...  It might be a while before we get out of here.  I'm itching to go home, put her in HER bed and piddle around in her room organizing with her actually there!

Last night was a little longer than I expected.  I knew we'd be up about every 3 hours, but it was about an hour and half between starting the feeding, doing the feeding, pumping, diaper changing, getting her settled back down... and then it was time to go to sleep... for an hour and a half!  I only got about 2-2.5 hours of sleep last night with all the activity.

We had bath lesson at 3 am last night.  With her being so small and her skin is so delicate, she only needs a water bath and only gets a soap bath every 2-3 days or unless she has a major blowout and gets extra dirty.  She got her hair washed and a bow put on for her big day!

We also did her final weigh in and measuring!  She weighed in at 4lbs 8oz as of last night and is now 17 inches long!  She's grown 2 inches in length since birth and has gained 2 full pounds from her lowest recorded weight.

I must say, despite my lack of sleep, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the sun come up with my little girl in my arms.  Watching her face light up in the morning light was something I don't think I'll ever forget.

Hopefully we'll get out of here by lunchtime, but I'm not expecting it.  We'll definitely keep you updated as we continue our journey at home!



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Southbound Train


It's the guest post you've all been waiting for! Amanda is taking a break from the blog to allow her husband to fill you all in and give a few thoughts of my own.

We are finally rooming in! We are spending one more night in the hospital and then going home sometime tomorrow morning. Sarah is in the room with us without any monitors or restrictions through the night. This is the last piece of the transition and is as much for us as it is for her. This is the time to make sure we know how to care for Sarah on our own throughout the night. It's hard to believe that Sarah has been here just over 6 weeks and we are finally getting our first night together.

These past days and weeks have been a bittersweet journey of the joy of Sarah's arrival and the pangs constant separation. A couple times a day and every single night we've had to leave our precious baby girl in a plastic cage and in the care of strangers. Don't get me wrong, we've been so blessed to have the wonderful care we've had and this period of transition has certainly had hidden blessings of its own, but nothing has been able keep the pain of going to bed every night not being under the same roof as our struggling child. We've heard the "Just imagine that she's still just not been born yet" line a lot, and that's true. However, when Amanda was still pregnant, while we couldn't hold Sarah, we could see the results of her presence; we know she was healthy and growing. Even though we couldn't hold her or know exactly how she was doing, at least we knew she was close and in our care. To lay there with no baby in the belly and nobody else in the house every night was devastating.

All that to say, God has provided through it all. He's brought blessings out of this trying time beyond what we could have hoped for. We've certainly grown closer to God, to each other, and to our amazing family and friends. We are incredibly excited to finally be bringing her home. We've been crying out for the day when we'd be able to go home with our healthy baby girl. Now that glorious day will rise with the dawn and we wish to give credit where credit is due. The following passage has been weighing on my heart lately:

12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[a] He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” (1 Samuel 7:12, NLT)


We may not have a towering stone to stand upon a hill, but we have Sarah and our own lives to live in constant testament to the unceasing joy and unending grace of our Creator. It is our hope and prayer that, as a family, we may use our times of trial, failure, and prosperity to learn, grown, and share in all the love that has come before and all the hopes and promises that go ahead.


I'll leave you back in Amanda's capable hands from now on. We'll be sure to update and let you all know how Sarah is settling in at home. Thank you all for your many gifts, thoughts, and prayers!
~Jim




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Home

Well, yesterday when the doctor and nurse practioner made their rounds, I kept hearing the phrase "in preparation for discharge".  When I asked the nurses about it, they said it would most likely be Thursday night for us to "room in" and Friday we would be going HOME!

Today, I spent the morning at the office trying to tie up some loose ends before I disappear off the work radar again for a while.  Later, when we were getting ready to leave the hospital, Jim asked some questions about what to expect for our evening rooming in on Thursday.  The nurse brought it to our attention that the doctor and nurse practitioner were talking about us actually rooming in tomorrow.  So.... I need to call first thing in the morning to confirm the plans, but it is looking like we'll be doing our rooming in TOMORROW night and we'd be going home Thursday morning-ish (or whenever we're comfortable to leave).

Part of me is so, so very anxious to get her home, and another part of me is completely freaking out.  Are we ready for this?  She wasn't supposed to be here until August!  Well... ready or not, the time is here!

Hard to believe just 6 weeks ago, we were in the Emergency Room being told our little one was about to join the world.  My, how far we've come in such a short time.


Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Sunday, July 8, 2012

To Cover You

Well, it's been an exciting 24 hours in the Nally household.  I'll start with the minorly frustrating, yet exciting news, that Sarah had another minor little "spell" yesterday when Jim was holding her after her bottle.  The nurse came over and was incredibly sad and said... "Well... it'll be at least another 5 days now..."  The babies have to be spell-free for at least 5 days before they'll let them come home to make sure they aren't going to do it when we come home.  It was a little sad to see her have another one of those spells, BUT the way the nurse said it, Jim and I both looked at each other like... There was a chance we'd be going home that soon??  The exciting part of that is, we're getting SO CLOSE to coming home!  The nurses and the doctors have all commented on how well she's doing and it gives us hope that we'll be under one roof in the very near future!


We also went on "as indicated" feeds yesterday, so that means, any time she indicates she wants a bottle - she gets it!  And golly, she's indicated every time!  Normally they have to eat every meal for 24 hours straight to consider taking out the feeding tube.  Yesterday she ate 4 bottles in a row and then pooped out on us at the 8:30 pm feeding. Needless to say, I was completely shocked when we came in today to see NO feeding tube!  Apparently, the doctor thinks that part of her reflux issue that she's been having, and that most likely caused her little spell yesterday was due to the feeding tube.  So they took it out to see what she does.  She's also been put on what they call "ad lib feeds", so they make up a bottle and see if she'll eat it all.  She determines how much she eats right now.  Usually they mix up a bottle a little more than they expect her to eat and see if she'll eat it.  She's been eating a little more than her previously prescribed amount, so she's doing great!  That also means if she tuckers out in the middle of a bottle, she is likely just to make it up at the next meal instead of putting the rest of it down the tube like we had been doing.

So...  Right now she's at the weight they would let her go home, at 4lbs 5oz. Yippee!!  All she has to do is to continue to eat on her own and demonstrate that she can continue to gain weight based on how she's now eating (more like a normal baby).  If she can do that... Then...  We come home!  It will be a minimum of 5 days from now based on her spell...  But in light of her accomplishments so far and as excited as she is about eating...  There's a decent chance that we might be home as soon as next weekend!  Ahhh!!!!  I'm SO excited.

Sarah is also having a small procedure this evening.  She's going to have a frenulotomy.  The frenulum is a small membrane that connects your tongue to the floor of your mouth.  Sarah's is a little tight and they think it is causing the issues that we're having with nursing.  She will suck consistently for 20-30 minutes at times and not really get anything worth noting, though my milk supply and availability is not the issue at all.  They are going to go in and basically snip with scissors which will allow her to move it more and be more able to suck, especially while she's breast feeding.  The only use a little sugar water to numb the area and do it right in her bassinet.  They say it's not a very painful procedure and she should be able continue eating right away. It sounds incredibly painful!

7-8-12: First time seeing her beautiful face without tubes and wires.  I'm overwhelmed.

Tonight's song is a recommendation by my wonderful dad.  One that he used to sing to me as a little one.  It's now even more special to me as I have a little one to sing to.  Thanks, Dad!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Light Up the Sky

Oh my goodness!  Apologies that I haven't updated in the past few days.  It has been an incredibly busy whirlwind.  Since Sarah has been eating more regularly, it means a lot more back and forth for us and a lot less time at home.

7-6-12: Trying out being swaddled for the whole day!
Weight update:  Sarah was 4lbs 2oz on Wednesday and Thursday, and has been holding stead at 4lbs 5oz yesterday and today.  We just keep on growing!

Feeding update:  She has been doing excellently on her feedings, taking almost all her bottles (I think there's only been one she hasn't finished!).  The nurse this morning said that she was going to talk to the doctor to issue a "as indicated" order for her bottles, as she is constantly asking for bottles, but it's not always an option for her at this point.  That would be so EXCITING!  That means, any time she wakes up at meal time and is asking for a bottle she could have one.... Which practically would be every time!  She's still not getting anything at all when she tries to nurse.  We're thinking that since she got used to the bottle, she's not sucking as hard when she nurses.  We've switched her over to a slow flow nipple on the bottle to try and encourage her to suck a little harder and work a little more for her food.  The lactation consultants all say we're doing everything right, it's just up to her to start sucking a little harder...  So wait and keep trying, we will!

Bed update:  As of Wednesday night they started trying her without her lid on her isolette.  And as of last night, she's now in a regular bassinet!  We are so excited to be continually moving towards home!

All signs are pointing to sooner than later for going home!  We have had such a BIG week.  So many milestones have happened in quick succession.  It seems once we hit that 4lb mark, life got so much easier for our little one.  She hasn't had a "spell" since the last one we had on Sunday night and she hasn't had any further complications with her reflux. The nurse today even asked if someone had talked to us yet about "rooming in".  Ahh!!!  Rooming in is when I get admitted back into the hospital and spend one day and one night there in a room with Sarah.  No wires, no cords, no tubes...  That's the day before we come HOME.  It's starting to enter our vocabulary.

An update on our friend, Alli who we mentioned earlier, she's pregnant with twins and is currently 27 weeks along.  They have moved her into labor and delivery and it looks like her boys will be joining the world today.  Please be praying for her as she has these boys and becomes a mom for the first time!  Also be praying for these little boys as they are estimated to both only be about 2lbs each and are 3 weeks younger than Sarah was when she was born.  They have a long NICU journey ahead for them.  Please send them some prayers and love as they enter this very special and unique time in their lives.


7-7-12: It's here!!  The bassinet!



 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Day!!

Well... the exciting day has come!  We're officially FOUR POUNDS!  And that's not all, folks!  Oh no... We're also trying life without our oxygen cannula!  She's been doing SO well today off of it!  Only having dips in her oxygen level when she gets all wiggly, which is totally normal.  STILL not all you say?  She also was giving all the signs that she wanted a bottle this morning and so the nurse humored her and tried it out.  She ate 25mls of her 35ml bottle all by herself!  Today is such a happy day!

She was a little too worn out and uninterested when we tried to nurse this afternoon, but as soon as she laid back in her bed she was wide awake and ready for action.  I'm looking forward to the day that they let her decide when she eats.  I feel like she's not always quite ready when the 3 hour mark rolls around and so it makes trying to make her eat really frustrating.  If I had gotten her up 30 minutes later, she would have probably eaten pretty well.  As she gets towards going home, they will start to let her decide when she eats.

I'm honestly a little shocked that they'd try this right after the few little scares we had on Sunday evening, but it seems that it was just a normal dip in blood level, etc that caused it and they don't seem terribly concerned about it.  They have left the cannula sitting there next to her in case she needs a bit of oxygen.  I'm also thankful that she's not exhibiting any real symptoms of the reflux that we had been seeing over the last few days.

All in all, it's been an excellent day.  We're also allowed to try and feed her four times a day, twice per shift.  So it really works out to every other feeding we're trying to get her to do something.  Yay!  Unfortunately that doesn't work out so well for Jim's schedule to try and bottle feed her, but we're getting there.  (Since the bottle feed during the night shift will most likely happen at 2:30 a.m.)  Soon he'll be able to hold her all the time!





Monday, July 2, 2012

All This Time

This is a long post.  It's been a long 24 hours or so...

I just walked in from literally being at the hospital ALL day, with a short break at lunch to grab lunch with a good friend, and a quick blitz into the mall to grab a few items that I've been desperately needing.  The nursing staff made fun of me because I was out and about before lunchtime... haha.... :P  Usually my mornings are devoted to working from home and a few house tasks around lunchtime.  Today was a different story though after last night.

Last night I went back for our evening feeding.  Jim wasn't feeling great and decided to get some rest at home for the feeding.  They had told me earlier in the day that she had a few "spells" of DSAT-ing and turning blue.  (Basically, her body wasn't getting enough oxygen)  Thankfully I hadn't ever seen one of these spells.  Last night that changed though.  She started setting off the monitor like normal, but this time her color started changing.  Luckily it wasn't as bright of a blue as I expected, but she was blue none-the-less.  The nurse rushed over and started beating on her back and rubbing on her to wake her up and get her to start fighting for the oxygen she needed.  She cranked up the oxygen and came back to continue "stimulating" her by rubbing and beating on her back.  This all of course is happening right in my lap, which is incredibly disconcerting.

Sarah finally did wake up and start coughing and breathing deeper again and regained her color almost immediately.  Obviously she wasn't very happy about being so rudely awakened, so it took her awhile to get her calmed back down and settled into her bed for the evening.  The nurse also in her haste to make sure she was alright ripped off her outfit and told me she needed to go back on the heater and be just in the diaper so she could better see her breathing.  She hasn't had any problems DSAT-ing like that at all today, and luckily the nurses today felt she was ready to head back into outfits and towards room temperature.  I am so thankful for both of the nurses that were there today.  Both have been incredibly helpful and and supportive as we journey through this unknown time.

She hasn't been doing well with nursing the last few tries.  She has not been interested, nor awake for the most part when it was her meal time that I was there to nurse for.  Both sessions yesterday and again this afternoon were not productive in the least.  Tonight Jim and I will go back and try a bottle instead and let him have a little daddy-daughter time.

All that to say, in my discussions with the Nurse Practitioner, she said what is going on is likely this:  They have noticed that Sarah is having quite a bit of reflux, which we did notice.  She's been spitting up a lot more and has had a few times of actual "throw up".  She said that for reflux to start showing up now is completely natural and expected based on her size and age.  She also talked about a nerve (forgive me that I don't remember the technical name for it...) that is in the esophagus that is particularly sensitive for babies that you or I would never notice.  When the acid in the reflux and the nerve interact it causes their heart rate to slow down briefly.  The heart rate slowing down then causes the oxygen disbursement to not be as effective.  Normally it wouldn't be a huge issue, but as all babies have a decline in blood count after birth, she thinks Sarah's just hitting her normal bottom of her blood count.  So between the reflux and a low blood count, her "spells" are appearing worse than than they have been.

There's really not much they can do for the reflux other than incline her bed (which she already has), slow down the rate at which she receives her food (which they have done off and on), or decrease her feeds (which isn't a real option since she needs the calories to grow).  They also could thicken her food to help it stay down better, but that's one of those... last resort type options, as it makes eating from a bottle a lot harder for her.  They could also resort to medicine, but studies show that reflux medicine doesn't consistently work enough to validate it's use.  They will try it only if the other options don't work and she continues to have unbearable issues with it.

Please pray for my little girl as it is so incredibly hard to see her struggle and be in pain.  I am believing for full healing from her reflux issues so that she can continue her growth journey with no more complications!  Will you join me?

7-2-12: After getting clothes back on today and resting finally.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Strong Enough

Last night was excellent.  We tried our hand at nursing again, and Sarah ate HALF her dinner all by herself.  16mls was eaten, and she took 17mls through her tube.  I was very impressed!  She was awake, responsive, and actively nursing for 30 minutes.  They only stopped her because they didn't want her to wear herself out too much and also didn't want to get her off her feeding schedule too badly.  Yay for small (or big, depending on perspective) victories!

Today, we've had a decent day.  Church this morning was great as always.  I'm really enjoying starting to get to know more people and feeling even more part of the family.

Our feeding session this afternoon was a little rough, though.  She fought me the entire way.  She was obviously frustrated - I'm not sure if it was that she didn't understand what I wanted her to do, or if she just wasn't hungry yet.  I also think she might have been uncomfortable.  Her little body felt warm and a little sweaty under her onesie, and I was quite warm as well, so being held close to another warm body might have been too much for her.  Either way, half the feeding session was her getting latched on and then just wiggling and falling off and crying and not being happy about anything.  I finally pulled her away from me and gave her a paci to calm down.  Between the cooling off and paci, she calmed right down and was sucking strongly on that.  So I did a switcheroo and she did start eating at that point.  However, we only had a few minutes left at that point and so she only got a couple mls worth.

I'm really hoping that our feeding tonight goes well.  She's up to 3lbs 15oz today, so tomorrow might be the day we reach 4lbs!

Jim and I are really starting to get frustrated and drained from our daily hospital visits.  It's been over a month of this back and forth rhythm.  We are praying it's not much longer.  Everything is ready and waiting for her to come home!  Luckily we have wonderful, empathetic nurses (mostly) that help make this process bearable and breathable.  They always seem to know when we're having a good or a bad day and let us know that we're not crazy and that everything we're feeling is normal.  Thank GOODNESS!

I took some of the pictures over the past few weeks to show off just how much she's changed.  I hope you enjoy them.

Roughly a picture from each of her first four weeks of life, shown left to right.  She's grown so much!


6-30-12: First day in clothes!


7-1-12: Bright eyed and excited about having clean britches!


I know I'm not strong enough to beEverything that I'm supposed to beI give upI'm not strong enoughHands of mercy won't you cover meLord right now I'm asking you to beStrong enough, strong enoughFor both of us