Friday, December 26, 2008

tidbits

We are enjoying our time in Oklahoma.
Emily is up to 7.5 lbs. She is smiling a lot lately and laughed for the first time. She is a joy.
Claire enjoys pretend play more and more. Yesterday she was playing with a kitty shaped sugar and creamer and had lots of fun wrapping them in a blanket putting them to bed and talking to them and about them. "I have to wrap him up. Kitty is cold..."
Claire has gotten quite good at opening packages and even opened a few that weren't for her!

We are looking forward to seeing Claire interact with all her cousins on Sunday at the big family gathering.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday vid

We received a little video camera for Christmas, so here is a short clip.

video

I've edited the rambling interview down to 30 seconds.

=== transcript ===

Dad: Is Claire wearing a Tam o'shanter?
Claire: (mumbling) ... Tam o'shanter
Claire: It's a new day. (reaches for hymnal) Our Father, who art in heaven... Ransomed captive Israel.
Dad: What song is that from?
Claire: Mommy remembers.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Recipe

Claire is getting over her cold. She seems to be feeling fine now...just a little residual nose drip.
We are working daily to teach her to sit on a chair and play or read quietly. This child of mine talks constantly. I do catch her playing silently on her own sometimes though. She will sometimes sit quietly for 2-4 mins during these quiet times. It seems like she did better with the first couple than she did today. I am trying to remember to do it at 10:00am each day, but I've been forgetting.

Emily is still very sweet and cute and cuddly and loves to nurse. Ya! She is up to 7 lbs 2 oz. She doesn't mind tummy time for a little while each day. Claire likes to lay down with her. I think she likes to watch Claire. I took a bunch of photos of them today.

Recipe ideas:
easy vegetarian dinner
2 cups mixed greens finely chopped (I used spinach, beet greens and Swiss chard.)
2T olive oil
one tomato diced
1 can black beans drained
1/2 c chutney or other sweet relish/sauce
hand full of raisins

Cook top 5 ingredients 7 mins. Add last two and heat thoroughly. Serve over cooked millet, soba noodles or rice.

Toddler tiny bites
Break Ryvita crackers into bite sized pieces and spread with refried beans or pumpkin puree. top with ground meat or leftover cooked veggies.

I tell Claire they are fancy hors d'oeuvres and she eats them all up.

I've been sneaking pureed spinach into her hamburgers and pumpkin or sweet potato into her refried beans.

Claire and I made some cinnamon dough ornaments today. We have a very small live tree this year. It doesn't have any decorations on it yet. We have been enjoying evening prayers and hymns with our advent wreath. Claire loves the candles. When we blow them out she asks to do it again. We have incorporated singing the Doxology into this time since she is so drawn to it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wed. news

We took Emily to the cardiologist today. He said she looks great and he doubts the VSD will ever give her any trouble. He suspects it will close on its own.

I took the car to PepBoys to have the battery replaced today. The car has had to be jumped twice lately. The girls and I took a walk to Ragazzi Room, which has sadly gone downhill after a change of ownership.

We left the house at 8:10 and returned at 2:10. I'm not used to being out that long. it was taxing even though everyone was well behaved (Except for the car).

Claire has come down with a cold. I didn't realize it until we were on the road this morning. She is mellower than usual and doesn't have much of an appetite and is stuffy nosed and sneezing. Hopefully she will get over it quickly. Please pray that Emily will remain healthy.

My shoulder and hip joints have been hurting recently.

I finished reading the Love and Logic Magic book. It has many really good ideas but leaves a lot of the details to applying their principles up to the parents. I suppose this is good since every family is unique. On the other hand I am clueless as to how to apply some of them with Claire.

Monday, December 08, 2008

briefs

Emily has grown out of her smallest pj's. I have set aside two pairs for the dollies.

Thanks Katie for a nice visit today. Claire adores baby Luke.

I worked on having Claire sit quietly in a chair today.

I'm frustrated by not having had the time to finish reading the Love and Logic book. I have many questions and am not sure how to proceed.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Irony

oh the irony... after Mark posted last night Claire woke up crying several times. It was because she had an allergic reaction to some peanut butter on a butter knife she encountered when I turned my back. As a result her mouth was hurting her and she didn't eat any dinner. Her skin on her hands and face and neck was bumpy and itchy. I was and am very sad that this happened. Please pray that she will grow out of her allergies. It is becoming more difficult to protect her from being exposed to all of the things she is allergic to.

I enjoyed taking Emily to the Advent tea at church Sat. It was beautiful and relaxing and everything was tasty. I enjoyed chatting with the women and getting to know Anne Reynolds a bit. Emily's Godmother, Khouria Joy, got to hold her for a good long while so it was extra relaxing for me. Emily spent the remaining time in the sling looking around, nursing or sleeping.

Emily is up to 6 lbs 13 oz. She is a pleasure to be with. She generally only cries when she's hungry or too tired. There have only been a couple of times when I couldn't console her right away. She is making steady eye contact now and tracking with her eyes. She has been grasping things with her hands whenever they are at the right place at the right time. She hold on to a lock of my hair a lot. She's started batting at toys.

Claire is enjoying the choices we give her as a result of reading the Love and Logic book. She also enjoys it when I notice aloud things that she enjoys. "I noticed that you like to eat crackers. I noticed that you like to read books with Mommy. I noticed that you like to play with the neighbor kids." My goal for this week is to institute quiet chair time which I've been meaning to do since just before Thanksgiving but haven't remembered to do. Claire needs to learn how to sit quietly when she's asked to so that she can be quiet during church. We've been practicing whispering and I praise her whenever she does it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

good sleeps all around

Every morning first question I ask Claire is, "Did you have 'good sleeps?'" And the last few weeks have been pretty good. Actually great compared to the past struggles with sleep she's had. Her new achievement is consistently sleeping 10 hours a night, from about 8 PM to 6 AM. I think the wet diaper has a lot to do with this, since sometimes when she wakes up a little earlier, I'll change her and she might "sleep in" to 6:45 or even 7.

Next milestone, for even better sleeps, will be when Emily stops "snorting" and "bleating like a lamb" during the night.



Dreamtime Baby

Thursday, December 04, 2008

other news details

Emily is up to around 6 lbs 10 oz. these days. We've been weighing her several times a day on an accurate scale that we are renting from the same shop that rents the breastmilk pump. Progress is great considering that she was well below 5 pounds when she came home on October 22nd.



Save 20% on your entire order with National Geographic's friends & family discount! Use code 08A20 at checkout. Valid through 12/12/08

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Video of Emily

Emily is so sweet. She loves to be held. video
I caught her in enjoying some time sitting in the boppy pillow.

New photos on Flickr.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Creature Song

The day after Thanksgiving, as we were eating breakfast, Claire wanted to sing "the creature song." I was at a loss, but Jen soon remembered that we had sung the Doxology the day before, so we sang it again. And we've sung it every meal since.

Claire's verbal skills continue to increase. We were talking about going to a museum yesterday and Claire specified, "Natural History Museum." That's three 3-syllable words in a row for those counting at home. She's more self-aware all the time. Papa was laughing at Claire's "contraction" of "Claire wants" into "C'wants" and Claire's response was, "Claire's teasing Papa... Claire wants!"

Emily is doing well also, it is just that she is less "quotable." She did giggle twice yesterday though. I feel like I really got to bond with her this vacation time. She fell asleep in my arms several times, and I'm re-learning the infant soothing techniques. These few extra days around Thanksgiving are the first extended time I've got to spend with here since she came home from the hospital. My work was extra busy at that time, so I agreed to delay the rest of my family leave for a bit. (Hopefully I can take off a few weeks in December.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008


First smiles. I captured one on camera this morning but can't post it until I have help from Mark.
Emily is such a sweet easy going baby. I am really enjoying her. She is trying out the bouncy seat with the vibrating motion for the first time. I think she likes it. She also sucked her thumb for the first time this morning.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Emily's cardiologist

Emily's cardiologist is actually the same as Claire's. He is a really nice guy with great kid-rapport. Today was our first follow-up after the Emily's cardiac exams in the NICU. Coincidentally, we ran out of her heart medication yesterday, so we anticipated having Dr. Burke refill the prescription. But after listening to her heart with his stethoscope, he started shaking his head saying, "Her murmur isn't that bad, why did they put her on these meds?"

It sounded like good news, but I couldn't understand why his opinion would contradict his colleague's. But then a confirmation of good news in the next room as he diagnosed Emily with the ultrasound machine. He showed us plainly on the screen that the hole between her lower chambers is healing up. It is developing an aneurysm now, which normally sounds bad, but in this case it is a stage along the way towards healing. He was pleased enough with the state of things now, that he decided to take her off the medications. Follow-up appointment in 3 weeks to see progress. Pray. Praise.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

week 3+

img_0948As you may have guessed, we are pretty busy with 2 little kids in the house. Thankfully, Grandpa was here this week to take over just as Nanu left. But this weekend we are officially on our own until Thanksgiving when we travel to AZ. One major area of improvement is that Claire has been both going to sleep easier, and SLEEPING TROUGH THE NIGHT!! Hooray! Hallelujah!

Claire's language skills continue to improve and we take great joy in hearing her volunteer observations about daily household life such as, "the kitty made a little crying sound," (when Franky was spooked by a neighborhood cat.) Also her pronouns are getting better.

Jen picked up a "sand box" at the thrift store this week, and Claire and I went shopping for sand at Home Depot the very next day. The sandbox is round and red plastic shaped like a lady-bug. Claire really enjoys this--we'd been looking at them in stores, but they seem kind of expensive, and we don't really like buying big plastic toys anyway. So to find a "recycled" one for a fraction of the price really fit the bill.

There are a few new pictures on flickr. Please pardon our lack of posts. The good news about Claire's sleep improvement is somewhat tempered by Emily still needing several feeds throughout the night. I might sleep in the den tonight, especially since I want to get onto an earlier work schedule so I can be home in time to help with the daughters at home in the evening.

P.S. I'm experimenting with some context-sensitive ads on this blog site. Let me know if you think it is too obnoxious. (My first impression honestly is that it looks a little silly.) The good news is that the way I have it set up, it will drop off at the end of the month anyway.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

week 2

Well, it certainly is busy with two little ones. Also, I moved my pump away from the computer and am pumping less, hence the lack of blog posts.
Emily seems to be gaining weight steadily now. She is 2390 grams (5 pounds 4 ounces). She in nursing really well. She tends to get tired and hungry in the late afternoon or early evening so we give her a "catch up" feeding by bottle. Her hemoglobin is up a bit--now at 11. It had dropped as low as 8.6 in the NICU and was at 10 when she came home. They doubled her dose of iron supplement which should help to increase hemoglobin over time. Last night Emily slept 3 hour stretches and Claire only woke up once at 10pm so we all rested better than usual.
It has been great having my mom here. Claire adores her and is having a good time. the three of us made scones on Monday. Today Nanu took her for a walk to the park while I cooked lunch. I am expecting a delivery of organic produce today from Paradiseo.com. Yay. This is the first time I've used this particular service.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

better day

It was great to have help today. I feel much more at peace and at ease.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First week

Well, we survived the first week at home. Barely. The first part was okay but now the sleep deprivation is catching up with me. I am grouchy and clumsy. Claire is frustrated and acting out. The house is chaotic. Emily has not gained any weight during the past two days.
Mark went to work on Tues. but not today. I didn't feel that tired until going it alone on Tues. Today I spent the entire morning in bed and only woke up a few times to nurse Emily. Mark plans to work Thurs and Fri. I have a friend from church and a new baby sitter coming Thurs and a respite care person from the agency coming Fri. We are looking forward to my mom coming back to town on Sunday.

Monday, October 27, 2008

weight gain

Emily's weight gain has been slow since she got home. She was 2132 grams on Wednesday when she was released from the hospital. Today I weighed her and she is 2226. She has gained about 90 grams.

At her pediatrician visit on Friday she weighed 4 lbs 11.7 ounces and today she was 4 lbs 12.2 ounces. That is less than an ounce over several days. She should be gaining about half ounce per day. Please pray that she will steadily gain weight. The doctor suggested switching back and forth from one breast to the other several times during each feeding. I tried this today and didn't find it very successful...well at least it didn't seem effective at helping her take more. It just meant that I couldn't get her to latch back on to the other breast, so she finished the feeding sooner than she would've.

I'm pumping 3-4 times per 24 hours now.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tidbits

I keep thinking of things I want to write about Claire then forgetting to do so.
She has taken to making predictions. This morning I told her she would go to church with daddy and talked about what she would do and who she would see. When I told her, "You'll see Khouria Joy." She said, "She's going to give you big hugs." It seems most of the predictions have to do with someone else giving her something of sharing something with her.

Claire likes to describe things...mostly animals and people. Her description of Emily include: "She has tiny hair, she has hands, she has eyes, she has a nose." Claire likes to touch each body part as she makes these observations. Very sweet. Occasionally she still thinks I'm at the hospital or about to leave to go there. She only woke up once during the night last night.

Emily nurses about every 2 hours round the clock. I haven't figured out how to nurse her lying down yet. Will work on this again at nap time tomorrow. She is nursing way better and way more than I expected for the first week at home. Thank you God!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Grateful

I am grateful to God for all the help we've had from Claire and Emily's grandparents over the past 4 months through my bed rest and Emily's 11 week NICU stay. Claire has had a very rich life being cared for by people who love her dearly. In spite of the difficulties Claire has thrived and developed beautifully. She is much more independent and more articulate. She has been happy and well behaved most of the time. She has enjoyed so many fun activities baking scones and muffins with her grandmas, tea parties and picnics outside, swinging on the new swing, playing with water in the back yard, helping with chores, going to the park, the museum and My Gym, not to mention her big girl adventure in Arizona. Many thanks to Mark's Dad who baled us out this last week and took care of Claire while I was with Emily in the hospital and helped us keep our kitchen clean and repaired and installed kitchen windows.

I am also grateful to God for Emily's health and development. I am grateful that she is nursing, and thankful that she is home. It is so different being with her all the time. I see her so differently. We are getting to know each other. She is very sweet and thankfully not very fussy so far.

Claire is having a bit of difficulty adjusting to me being occupied with Emily so much of the time. Since I'm here all the time now she wants my undivided attention a lot. I try to have some alone time with Claire each day and give her extra affection. She is interested in Emily and enjoys touching her baby sister and rubbing her cheek on Emily's soft hair. She exclaims about how tiny Emily is. Her sleep recently has been troubled but last night was much better. She slept till 5:10 am and then went back to sleep till 6:30

Friday, October 24, 2008

Firsts

Yesterday we gave Emily her first tub bath. She likes the water and kicking against the sides of the tub. I also trimmed her fingernails which were very sharp and pointy.

Today she had her first outing away from home. We took her to the pediatrician. It went well. He wants to see her every few days until she's over 5 lbs. We will go back on Monday.

Now it is Saturday. I started writing this yesterday and was interrupted. Mark, Claire, Vaughn, Andrew and Elsa are at the Natural History Museum this afternoon.

Right now Emily is having her first experience with Classical music. She is happily kicking and waving in a little seat.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hard work

Mothering a newborn and toddler is hard work! Whew! I didn't sleep much last night as expected. I took a little nap this morning but I kept waking up when I'd hear Claire running through the house or having a meltdown. Mark enjoyed a nap with Emily lying on his chest yesterday afternoon.

I'm trying to figure out the scale. It is extremely sensitive to movement. I finally got a solid reading of 4 lbs 13.2oz. I think Emily is getting enough milk since she has lots of wet diapers. I haven't started logging feeds and diapers like we did for Claire, but I'd like to. Most of the time I don't feel stressed about it. Except during the night. I thought I might give her more bottles at first since that is what she was used to in the NICU and she was getting 27 calories/ounce. But I find bottle feeding to be frustrating. I am much more used to nursing her since I've been doing it daily whereas I only gave her one bottle in the NICU. (The nurses and speech therapist gave all her bottles.)

It's hard to find the time and energy to pump. I'm pumping now while Emily listens to the wave radio station. Claire is with her dad. They spent the last hour in the back yard and now she's going to eat then nap.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homecoming

Got Emily home around 2:15 pm. Claire was overjoyed. We are all very happy and tired. Emily nursed well this afternoon and evening. I tried to give her a supplemental bottle just now and she only took half ounce. She is used to eating every three hours and her last feed was nearly 4 hours ago but she is not interested.
New photos on Flickr.

Today is the day!

Got a call at 10:30 that Emily will come home this afternoon!

sleep

I just woke up at 5 and Claire is still sleeping! Thank you God. It was so nice to have a long chunk of undisturbed sleep. I slept 6 hours. Hopefully after I pump I can catch a few more Z's.
I have a theory that she tends to sleep better or at least has a chance of sleeping better when her dad puts her to sleep. Last night I read stories and said prayers with her then Mark bounced her on the exercise ball and put her in bed.

later....
Claire slept till 5:30. That's 9.5 hours.

tidbits...
Whenever I put mitts or socks on Claire she tells me whether or not they match.
Lately Claire doesn't want me out of her sight. Very clingy. (Not that I'm surprised by this considering the circumstances.)
Claire wants to go lay in Emily's bed. A small co-sleeper next to our bed. She has been very insistent all morning, "Put Claire in Emily's bed."
right now she is serenading me with the guitar which is on a stand in our dining room right near where I'm pumping. she says, "That was a lot of music."

P.S. unlrelated: need to buy a plug-in thermostat

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

not today

The doctor wanted to observe Emily a while longer since she had that brady. ARGH! I'm sure it just happened because they gave her a double dose of sedative for the MRI then gave her an eye exam and injection.
Emily was happy and alert when I was there today. They did another echocardiogram aka heart ultrasound. The nurse said she thought the technician saw a small ASD as well as the VSD. We'll see what the cardiologist has to say tomorrow.
The MRI of the brain showed that all is normal.
Can't wait to bring her home!

The end is in sight

Emily's Doctor says she may be able to come home Tues afternoon.

Emily had a very trying day Monday. She had an MRI for which she had to be sedated. They had to give her two doses of the meds to get her to go to sleep. They had to put it an IV as back up. UGH! They didn't tell me this in advance. She also got an injection for immunizations. And she had an eye exam. After the eye exam she had a Brady. (The only one she's had in weeks.) The nurse said that this is fairly common after the eye exam and that they will want to keep her for 24 hours after this episode to make sure she is ok. Unfortunately I was not able to be with her to comfort her in teh midst of all this because I was Claire's sole companion till about 1pm when Mark's dad took over.

Claire is having a terrible night so far. I'm pumping right now after already getting up with her twice. The firs time it took over 30 mins to get her back to sleep and the second time I spent 45 mins ans still couldn't get her to stay asleep so I took her to Mark. I don't hear anything now, so I think she is asleep. May she sleep till morning.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Continued progress

Emily is taking all her milk by mouth now. I can feel the difference between how she nursed a couple of weeks ago and how she nurses now. Her suck is getting stronger. She doesn't always want to wake up and latch on though. She will sometimes nurse for 10 minutes and then conk out and refuse to latch on again for 15 mins or so. I can't wait till she is on an "ad lib" "on demand" feeding schedule. Then I won't feel so much pressure to get her to take a specified amount. We are renting a baby scale so we'll be able to weigh her regularly at home to make sure she is gaining.

They want to do an MRI of th head tomorrow because Emily was under 1000 grams at birth. It seems like a total waste to me. She had 3 cranial ultrasounds and none showed any abnormality. They insist that this is standard procedure for all babies born under 1000 grams since they frequently have brain bleeds.

They will also do another ultrasound of the heart tomorrow to verify that the VSD is closing.

I will ask about her homecoming date tomorrow.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Claire's chores

I keep thinking of writing a post about Claire's chores so here goes...
Claire loves to be involved in whatever the grown-ups are doing ans has taken on some chores.
She loves to rinse dishes and put them in the drainer as they are being washed by an adult.
She puts her dirty clothes in the laundry basket at the end of the day. She tries to empty the dryer lint from the lint catcher. She picks up her books and toys with encouragement. She helps set the table by taking the silverware and putting it on the corner of the table.

We are glad to have our sweet Claire back home. A huge thanks to Nanu and Papa for giving her a wonderful big girl adventure this week. She had a great time.

Emily continues to gain stamina for the feedings. She took all but 20cc of her feedings yesterday. She took two whole feeds from the breast using the supplemental nurser today.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rejoicing

Thanks be to God Emily's VSD (ventricular septal defect) is getting smaller. She had a heart untrasound today and the cardiologist said the is smaller than it was. Pray with us that God will heal it completely so that she won't have to have surgery. (We are praying the same for Claire's ASD.)

Emily is getting closer to taking all feedings by mouth. She is getting quicker with the bottle feeds but has to work long and hard to get a full feed from the breast even with the supplementer.

More good news... the breast milk no longer has Staph bacteria in it so Emily is receiving more of my breast milk. They are tapering off the formula slowly to see if she can still gain weight with less calories. (She has been getting formula that is 27 calories per ounce and breast milk is approx. 20 calories per ounce. They mix in a fortifier which adds 2 calories per ounce.)

Emily also passed her hearing screening today.

P.S.
There are new photos on Flikr.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Due date

Today is Emily's Due Date. I told her happy birthday and took some photos. She is 4 lbs 4 oz or 1998 grams.

Emily seems to be getting fed up with the supplemental nurser. She took a full 38 cc this morning but at noon I couldn't get her to latch on at all. She was awake most of the time between 9 and noon so I guess she was just too tired. St 3 she latched on after some coaxing but refused to latch on again after burping until I switched to the breast without the tubes taped to it. Unfortunately I didn't realize that she latched on with her bottom lip curled in so she was sucking on her lip as well as the breast. I don't think she got much.

We're struggling with an ant infestation here at the home front.

It sure is a challenge keeping us fed and dishes and clothes washed and put away. We sure appreciate all the help we've received from our moms over the last few months.

more feeding

Yesterday Emily took about half fer feeding by mouth. Including one breastfeeding using the supplemental nurser in which she just about emptied it. She struggled at some points and seemed to get frustrated. I tried again in a different position without the tubes and she was a happy camper. Her weight gain is still not consistent. They sent another breast milk sample to the lab for testing. I should know the results by tomorrow. I think she may gain better on fortified breast milk.
I had a neck ache yesterday after holding Emily for a couple of hours. It's feeling better today. I did some stretching and Mark gave me a massage.

Claire is having a great time with her grandparents in AZ. One big challenge is her sleeping. She has been waking up in the wee hours and then not able to stay asleep for an hour or more after that. We miss her cheery voice around the house.

Monday, October 13, 2008

adventure

Claire, Nanu and Papa had a safe journey to Prescott. Claire talked non-stop until she conked out and slept for 90 mins from the car she enjoyed looking at the moon. This was her second nap of the day so she went to bed late. She woke up at 6 am asking to go feed the birds. She is very excited about her new surroundings.

Mark and I slept really well. It is so nice to feel well rested.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

sunday news

Emily took a full feeding by bottle for the first time today. She is able to try bottle or breast at every feeding. If she doesn't finish the 38cc she is supposed to have the nurse puts the rest down the feeding tube. The goal is to get her to take all her feedings by mouth.

Claire is on a big girl adventure. She is staying with Nanu and Papa this week. We are all a little nervous as she has never been away from home without us. I am looking forward to spending a lot of time with Emily at the hospital this week.

Friday, October 10, 2008

mini-conference with NICU doctor

Emily has been in the NICU for 9 weeks now, which is longer than Claire's stay. We wanted to have the doctors explain her situation so we know what to expect instead of guessing based on prior assumptions. The two main factors are her heart, and her feeding skills.

Her heart defect is more severe than Claire's, so it is definitely slowing her growth. But the doctor said that as long as she does continue to grow, that is a good thing. If her growth stopped utterly, then they would have to consider doing the heart surgery now, which is more dangerous the smaller the baby.

Feeding is a combination of instinct and skill, and in a preemie they are lacking in both, so it requires practice and waiting until they "get" it. He said there is often a sudden breakthrough rather than gradual improvement. I think Emily has the skill/instinct already, but seems to get tired or stall out.

The night-shift doctor was very helpful in answering our questions. Coincidently, he was the same doctor that briefed us the night after Emily was born. I filled out a kudos postcard at the hospital in appreciation.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

slow nursing

As I mentioned on Sunday Emily is not yet strong enough to get very much milk at the breast. Even with the nursing supplementer which delivers additional milk through a tube taped to the breast she is only getting about 5-10 ml from the supplementer in 20 minutes. Today the nurse on duty had lots of personal experience using the supplementer and gave me some tips about how to tape it and to use both tubes instead of one and to use the large diameter tubes for a faster flow. She got 10 ml in 7 minutes.

more progress

breastfeeding went well yesterday. Emily nursed 4 times (A new record). A Woman from La Leche League met me ay the hospital and saw how Emily was latching and sucking and thinks she is doing well and won't have problems nursing exclusively once she build up her strength and stamina.

Emily took the bottle at noon yesterday for the first time. She was able to take 20 of the 37 mls that she gets. (They gavaged the rest.) She didn't seem to have trouble with the suck swallow breathe pattern at the bottle. I feel less pressure now that she has a way to take feedings by mouth when I'm not there. For now she'll be receiving two bottles every 24hours.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Big Day for Claire

Claire rode her tricycle a few feet by herself. She can just reach the pedals now. Nana measured her today and she is 32.5 inches with shoes on. She did #2 in the big potty. She is getting very close to being able to jump off the ground. (This is something the physical therapist has been working on with her.) She can jump on the exercise ball. She also had a bath in the big tub instead of the inflatable toddler tub. This afternoon was hot and Nana told Claire that she didn't know what they should do that she didn't have any ideas. Shortly thereafter Claire said, "Claire has an idea. Claire bounce on the ball." Claire seems to be regressing in her sleeping. She has been waking up several times during the night the past few nights.

Emily has not been gaining well the past week. She has only gained about 5 grams per day and they like to see about 30 grams per day. They will do some further evaluation of her heart tomorrow. This will include a chest x-ray and an ultrasound. They are concerned that her heart problem may be contributing to her lack of weight gain. I just returned from visiting Emily this evening and she gained 45 grams since yesterday. She also didn't expend much energy nursing today. She spent very little time actually sucking. I guess she needed a break.

They decided not to transfuse her because her hemoglobin has increased a bit and she is not symptomatic.

It has been nice for me being in the nursery because I have had the opportunity to chat with the other moms. I have seen several babies come in for a few days and go home.

Emily seems to be stagnating in progress with breastfeeding. She nursed for just a few minutes each time today. She was wide awake this morning for a long while but even then didn't nurse as long as she had the previous couple of days. The doctor is encouraging me to think about letting Emily begin to take the bottle so that she can go home more quickly. She said that she is ready to go home except for the feeding and that babies develop better at home with their families. I am in the process of coming to terms with this. I still have a fear that Emily with reject the breast as Claire did. Please pray that Emily will be able to switch back and forth like most babies do.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Nursing

Emily and I got coaching from a speech therapist today at the 9am feeding. She said Emily has a good suck and is swallowing just fine. She also noticed that Emily was making a funny clicking sound as she nursed. She said it sound like Emily is retracting her tongue. She suggested letting her suck on my finger between feedings and gently push down on her tongue as she sucks. I tried this. Just before leaving this evening, I was talking about this with a new travel nurse who was in the nursery with us half the day today. She has been a parent educator in hospitals elsewhere. She said Emily is probably not latching on correctly but has her tongue up instead of down when she latches on. I think the same nurse will be with us tomorrow and am eager for help getting a correct latch on.

Emily's hemoglobin was up a little so they are holding off on the transfusion.

Emily nursed well 3 times today. 9am 3pm and 6pm. I decided to stay home and go to bed early this evening instead of trying for three feedings in a row.

I plan to contact some La Leche league people about the latching problem too.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Milestones

Emily has reached almost all her milestones. She is maintaining her temperature, she is over 1800 grams, she is on stable meds, she has no IV, she is breathing on her own.
She just needs to be able to eat by mouth and gain weight. I am so eager for her to learn to breastfeed and to be able to wake up and nurse 8 times a day. So far she can do 3 times a day but she isn't getting very much milk per nursing session.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

All day at the hospital

I spent all day at the hospital with Emily today. Emily is slowly making progress with breastfeeding. She nursed for about 45mins at 9:00 this morning. At 12 noon she was too sleepy. At 3:00 I didn't burp her soon enough and she had a big spit up. but at nearly 4pm she nursed for a little while while she was getting formula through the tube. At 9pm the nurse had already awakened her and changed her before I got there and as soon as I picked her up she was ready to go back to sleep. I am annoyed about this. I did enjoy holding her skin to skin while she was tube fed. I also did Kangaroo Care from 2-3 in the afternoon.

Pray for her to overcome her current anemic state. Her hemoglobin levels have been low for a week or so. They are giving her iron supplements to try to help her overcome this but her bone marrow has to kick in and produce more red blood cells... or she'll need another transfusion.

Pray also for her to be able to gain 15-30 grams per day while nursing. Yesterday she gained 2 grams and today she gained 6 grams.

Claire and Nana and Daddy had a field trip to the museum. Mark says, "I really enjoyed spending the day with little B today. Every week she develops new skills. She walked up some stairs without crawling." Claire had a blast in the pretend archeological dig site in the discovery zone in the basement of the museum.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

New room

When I arrived at 8:45 Emily was awake and fussing a bit. I changed her diaper and took her temperature. she seemed to like the attention and stopped fussing. Then I got her settled on my lap and the latched on right away and began sucking. She nursed well at the 9:00 am feeding. She is now 4 lbs even. She has doubled her birth weight. She is now in the nursery. This is an overflow room where they put NICU babies who are doing very well. There are only three babies in there and it is the home of the rocker/glider that I have been looking forward to using. It will be nice to out of the hubbub of the NICU. (Although yesterday in room C I had a very pleasant day. I knew all three nurses and they worked well together and were very helpful and friendly to me.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

new bed

Emily has graduated to an open air crib and is able to maintain her body temperature as long as she is swaddled and wearing a hat. She had her first successful nursing experience today. Sunday and Monday I couldn't get her to suckle because she was too sleepy. It was very gratifying to see her latch on and suck off and on for about an hour. It is such a relief to be making progress on this after so many weeks of waiting. I am so proud of little Emily.

Monday, September 29, 2008

More word play

Claire: Once upon a time
Me: Tell me a story. There was a
Claire: kitten
Me: what did he do?
Claire: tumbled.
Me: Then what?
Claire: and tumbled.
Me: Once upon a time there was a kitten. He tumbled and tumbled.

More rhymes:
Nana banana
raisins zasins
water tater

Emily did a bit of suckling last night. Yay. She wasn't very vigorous, but we are making progress. One of the registry nurses who is supposed to be working today is a lactation consultant. I'm going to ask if she can work with me. She had a big jump in her weight. I was there when they weighed her. The nurse did it twice and it came out the same. I think it was 1872 grams. Maybe I misremember. The last weight I only got it ounces 3 lbs 14 oz.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blessings

Word play.
Claire is having such fun playing with words these days.
She likes to say:
dolly dooley
daddy dooley
mommy moamey
what's so funny bunny?
Emily lemily
elbow belbow
and various other rhymes and fun phrases.

Mark and I went to the hospital early this morning to speak with the doctor. She is still concerned that Emily will get an infection from the breastmilk but we insisted and she is allowing Emily to begin to nurse.

It was a busy day. We went to church for the feast of our patron St. Michael. It was an especially festive occasion since our bishop was visiting and there was a catered lunch afterwards. Kate and Claire enjoyed swapping toys and books during the sermon.

Next Mark dropped me off at the hospital and I attempted to nurse Emily. She was a very sleepy girl. I got her to latch on a couple of times but she didn't really do any sucking since she was sound asleep. I tried waking her by unwrapping her, sitting her up, talking to her rubbing her head, blowing on her etc. She was out cold! I'm hoping to go back this evening and try again. She seems to have an alert time in the early evening on some occasions when we've visited in the evening.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

ARGHHH!!!!!!!!

The Doctor is gone for the day and I got the results from the test of the breast milk. It is still positive for staph. I am frustrated that the doctor is not available so I wrote a letter and plan to go to the NICU first thing in the morning. I am frustrated that I didn't push for her to receive donor milk sooner. It's just that every couple of days I would be told something that made me think the end to this nonsense was just a couple days away. I thought maybe God was just trying to teach me a little patience so I have endured. I cannot endure this insult any longer. I want my baby to nurse.

Dear Dr. Sardesai,
I do NOT believe that my daughter's sepsis was a result of her consuming my breastmilk. If you are convinced otherwise, I would like to see research that supports the idea that preemies get staph infections from breastmilk.

I have spoken with two lactation consultants (Both NICU RNs) who agree that the cause of the infection was not the breastmilk and that it is a disservice to the baby to switch her to formula. They also said that it is impossible to get a sterile sample of breastmilk. I do NOT with for Emily to continue to receive formula. I want her to either receive my milk which has antibodies to anything I've been exposed to in it or I want her to receive donor milk from a milk bank. I want Emily to begin suckling at the breast immediately. If you are concerned about her getting infected again you might consider giving her a prophylactic antibiotic.

Pins and needles

Emily is doing well. She weighs 3 lbs 12.9 oz. She is on full feeds (28cc per feed) and should get her central line removed today. When I called they still didn't have results from the most recent test of my breast milk. I should find out today. I'm on pins and needles.
Mark's mom flew in last night and my mom is driving home today. We are so blessed to have our mom's looking after us during this trying time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

bigger and better

Emily is getting bigger. 3 lbs 10 oz.
My milk will be re-tested tomorrow. God willing it will come back negative and Emily will be allowed to nurse. This will change my visiting schedule. Currently I go once or twice per day and stay a few hours. I like to pump milk at the bedside then hold her for 1.5-2 hours.

Since I want to exclusively breastfeed (No bottles), I will need to organize my visits around feeding times which are every 3 hours. At first they will probably want her to nurse a couple of times per day then increase as she builds up stamina. I hope to stay the night a few times before she comes home. I assume the doctor is going to want her to take all her feeds by mouth for a period of time before she comes home. Now she is receiving 20cc gavage (by tube into the stomach) and 2.4 ml/hour through the central line. They should be able to take out the central line in a few days (This is my prediction.) Her caloric needs increase as her weigh increases.

I am a bit nervous about nursing. There is no lactation consultant at the NICU but I'm told many of the nurses are well versed in helping mom's get started.

photos

New photos on Flickr.

Also, I got a call from the NICU to schedule a CPR class. They said Emily may come home within the next two weeks. I'm going for the class on Friday. Yay!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More progress

The Dr. pooh poohed the finger feeding idea. She didn't see the point of it and didn't like the idea of the baby sucking on either bare finger or latex glove.
My course of antibiotics is 5 days and I started yesterday...So I decided there is no point in pushing for it for just a few days. pray that the antibiotics will totally get rid of the bacteria they keep finding in my milk

Emily is off the cannula. She is so cute. It is so nice to be able to see her face. I had tears of joy.

She gained 64 grams and is now 3 and a half pounds.
She is taking 19cc of formula and they are advancing her feeds every 12 hours. She should be up to full feeds in a few days then they can take out the central line through which she is still receiving part of her nutrition.

Monday, September 22, 2008

news

I was discouraged and disappointed and frustrated Saturday afternoon when the nurse practitioner said that the Doctor doesn't want me to nurse until I've had a course of antibiotics. I had suggested this course of action to the doctor last Wed. and she said it wasn't necessary. (This was before she got the results about the second batch of milk testing positive for staph.) On Friday they had the results and it was the charge nurse's understanding that the doctor did want me to nurse. ARG!

Anyway to be told this Saturday afternoon after the urgent care clinic near us is closed and have to wait till Monday morning to see my OB/GYN to get a prescription was most frustrating. I got there first thing this morning with no appt only to find out that the doctors were in surgery and wouldn't be back till the afternoon. I gave the nurse the info from the breast milk culture so she would know what to prescribe. I finally picked up the prescription this evening only to find that it was partially filled. They gave me only 3 pills because they are out. I have to go back tomorrow to pick up the rest.

I asked the doctor today about an alternative to bottle feeding called finger feeding but I didn't make myself clear even though I described the process several times. I brought in some written info from Dr. Sears website this afternoon and hope to discuss it again tomorrow.

Good news. Emily doesn't have an IV anymore, just the PIC line. She only has one kind of medication now which she is getting with her formula.
She is 3 lbs 6 oz.

Friday, September 19, 2008

About Claire

Claire pretends.
She says, "I live in the water."
I say, "what are you?"
Claire, "I'm a shark."
or She says "I'm a geese. Honk, Honk."
At other times she is Jillian or Jessica or a mouse or a kitty or a puppy.

I took a walk with her this evening and she asked to be picked up several times. Each time she gave me a big smile and announced, "Mommy's tummy is all better."

This morning in the wee hours when I set her on the bed next to Mark she said "Mark. Mark. Sleep next to you."

Several nights back she woke up 5 times, the next night was 3 times and the past two nights she only woke up once. Last night she was awake off and on for an hour and three quarters. The other nights the wakings were brief. Yesterday she had a short nap in the car in the late morning then a marathon nap of 2.25 hours in the afternoon. She went to sleep at 8:30 instead of her usual 7:30 and slept through till 3:00am.

Claire and Nanu went to the Natural History museum. They got to see the dessert tortoise ambling around. Claire got to hug the polar bear.

Grateful

30 weeks gestational age+6 weeks in NICU=36 weeks

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
I got to put Emily to the breast today!
They had me clean my breast first then the charge nurse helped her latch on.
Emily gave a couple of fluttery sucks and fell asleep. She stayed latched on for half an hour but mostly slept very soundly.
The charge nurse said I can put her to the breast whenever I come in. I just need to cleanse the breast first.
Hooray!
They say it takes longer for preemies to learn how to breastfeed, so I know not to expect much the first several times.
The milk culture came back positive. I didn't ask what bacteria they found. I'm less upset by this since whe gets to start at the breast now.

She lost a little weight and is at 1478 grams.
I'm not surprised considering the two 100 gram days she had over the weekend. Also they increased the amount of Lasix, so she may have lost some excess water.

Her hair is so soft! I was stroking her to see if it would stimulate her to suck more.
I've been noticing lately that her tiny little hairs curl up at the ends on the back of her head. Speaking of hair, they had to shave hear head while she was sick to put an IV in her scalp so she doesn't have any in the front right now. I've been holding her skin to skin for 2 hours each day lately. When I'm holding her she sometimes opens her eyes and looks up at me. I'm feeling more of a sense of Emily belonging to me. I'm grateful that we finally hit this milestone and get to embark on this journey towards nursing.

Clarification

To clarify a few things...
When they first tested My breast milk it contained Staphylococcus aureus. This is the same bacteria that Emily had in her blood. So the infection may have been caused by the milk. However, this bacteria is pervasive on people's skin etc.

I haven't head back about the second milk test.

Emily is on 9cc of formula every 3 hours which she receives through a tube going down to her stomach. The doctor wants her to be taking more than this before she begins to nurse.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

update

By the way Emily is total over her infection although she is still finishing up her course of antibiotics.
Nanu and Claire are feeling much better but still not 100%.
I went to my doctor today about this wheezy cough I've had for weeks. He gave me an inhaler. I had one a couple of years ago for the same thing.
Tomorrow I have a follow-up with the obstetrician.

Emily is doing well. She is taking 7cc of formula per meal. She weighs 1500 grams. She is still on 1 liter air through the cannula. They increased her dose of lasix due to her weight gain. The nurse said today that her urine output isn't as much as they like to see. (She may dip below 1500 grams again if she has been retaining water.)
I didn't meet the new doctor today. I will make a point of tracking her down tomorrow.

Claire asks me to show her pictures of baby Luke, baby Emily and Kate almost daily.
Today she repeated something she said on Sunday, "Kate is gorgeous." Kate had fun accessories on Sunday which Claire definitely appreciated. They also shared a couple of very cute hugs.

Claire also loves looking through her photo album filled with pictures of relatives in Oklahoma. She remembers everyones names.

Thanks to everyone who has been leaving comments on the blog. I feel encouraged.

Dress Rehearsal

Dress rehearsal for nursing: Emily was crying during Kangaroo Care today which is unusual. I gave her my finger to suck on. She did some vigorous sucking off and on for quite a while. I thought she was done and took my finger away but she cried so I gave it back. Her heart and breathing rates went up but her oxygen saturation stayed high.

I met the new doctor on duty today. The first thing she said was,"Oh Good you're doing Kangaroo care." Hurray! I told her we rented a different style pump and are sterilizing everything regularly and asked if we could send the milk I pumped today to be cultured.
She had the nurse send it to the lab. In a few days we should know. If it comes back negative, she can start on my milk again. The Doctor wants Emily to be taking a bit more orally before she begins nursing.

Emily is up to 1555 grams. I think that is 3 lbs 6 oz.
They are still weaning form the cannula. It is on the .5 liter setting and Emily was doing well.

I had a really nice nurse today and I wasn't coughing at all.

I went to the OB today and she said I can resume my regular activities--exercise carrying Claire etc. Yippee!! Claire has got the short end of the stick with me on bed rest for 5 weeks then recovering from surgery 6 weeks. It was a happy reunion when I got home from the hospital and I got to pick her up and give her a big hug and tell her the good news.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Requirements

Emily has been gaining weight fast lately. She is up to 3 lbs 4.8 oz or 1499 grams.
Today as I was holding her in kangaroo care she started rooting (Looking for the breast.) There will be a change in doctors tomorrow. I pray that this doctor will be pro breastfeeding. The one who is going off duty keeps give me more reasons why Emily can't start nursing.
They are weaning her from the cannula which has been supplying air pressure through a tube in her nose. She was on 2 liter setting. Now she is on 1 liter. The nurse said they may discontinue it tomorrow.

For those of you who have asked us lately about when she can come home here is some general info:

Requirements for Discharge

Before being discharged from the hospital, a preemie must meet several basic requirements to ensure good health and fewer medical problems. Some nurseries require a minimum weight for discharge, but more often the NICU staff will evaluate the baby on these three criteria:

1. Can the baby maintain body temperature in an open crib for at least 24-48 hours, depending on how premature the baby was at birth?
2. Can the baby take all feedings by bottle or breast without supplemental tube feedings?
3. Can the baby gain weight steadily?

Most preemies meet these criteria 2 to 4 weeks before reaching their original due date. Infants who have had surgery, were born with malformations, or who spent weeks on breathing machines and oxygen are the most likely to stay beyond their original due date.

Emily hasn't met any of these requirements yet but I am hopeful that she will begin to since she is growing so well. (Although she is still receiving most of her calories intravenously, it shouldn't take too long for her to get up to full feeds.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Emily visit

Mark and I visited Emily tonight. She is so sweet. She is starting to look a bigger to me. She is up to 3 pounds and maybe a couple of ounces. We'll see on tomorrow's weigh in. (I'm always skeptical when they say she's gained 100 grams in 24 hours.)
I got to hold her skin to skin and she was very relaxed and content.

She is off caffeine citrate- a medication to help stimulate the circulatory system.
She seems to be growing out of the brady's and de-sats. She hasn't had any in the last several days.

It was nice being there with Mark.
He asked the nurse about using the rocker/glider. She was against the idea because of Emily being so tiny. He told her that we were accustomed to using them all the time in the Santa Monica NICU. She seemed unconvinced.

There is now a big colorful sticker on Emily's chart that says "No Nippling."
I think they got the message that we are serious. I also get the impression that no one has attempted this in this NICU. I also bet that less than 1% of preemies born before 33 weeks go home breastfeeding from this place.

MAD

I am livid!!!!
I don't know when I've been more angry, disappointed, frustrated!
I wasn't at the NICU this morning and afternoon because I was at church then I took a nap.

I called when I woke up only to find out that they had given Emily a bottle!
We very explicitly told a number of people in the NICU during her first weeks that we do NOT want her to have the bottle because we want her to exclusively breastfeed. It was devastating that Claire preferred the bottle to the breast and refused to nurse. I Do NOT want a repeat of this with Emily. Everything I've read says to give the breast for a few weeks first before the bottle in order to avoid this (At the very least). Other things I've read say that for some babies it only takes one time at the bottle to disrupt nursing.

My most recent conversation with the Doctor was about breastfeeding which she said we could start when Emily was a little bigger. She said nothing about the bottle. I guess I should have clarified our position. But it didn't occur to me at the time. I was still reeling about the decision to give her formula. and I am incensed that they would plow through with such a big step without involving the parents. The timing was most unfortunate. Emily supposedly gained over 100 grams last night which meant that suddenly she was eligible for "nippling" as they call it. I called the NICU this morning before church and the nurse was on break, so I didn't get to speak with her. I did hear about the weight gain from the other nurse. I expected it to take another 3 days for her to reach 1400 grams. I should have called again after church to speak with the nurse.

After I found out about the bottle I called and spoke to the doctor who said she would stop the bottle feeds. She doesn't want me to put her to the breast just yet because she wants to determine if Emily is tolerating the formula. AARRGGGHH!!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

ideas

I ran the idea of using milk bank milk by the doctor today. She said we can look into it on Monday but that she has never used it for her patients before.
(They pasteurise the milk, so there shouldn't be any harmful bacteria in it.) I could send my own milk to the milk bank to be pasteurised for Emily.

Idea number two: we got the style of pump that I used last time which has parts that can be sterilized in the microwave. We bought a whole brand new hygiene kit to go with it and a brand new jar of lubricant. I can begin to use the new stuff and sterilize everything each time and use gloves to apply the lube. In short use a more sterile technique and have the milk re-tested.

The nurse told me this morning that Emily was not initially tolerating the formula which was started yesterday at 2cc. The Dr. asked to see the residual and determined that it was just regular stomach acid. She said sometimes the stomach produces a bit too much acid when they feed such a small amount, so they are giving her 4cc now.

They are going to re-insert a PIC line. This will mean that I will be able to resume kangaroo care. I got to hold her swaddled yesterday and today---it is much more comfortable to do kangaroo care.

The doctor initially said that Emily could breastfeed--or at least begin to try once she reaches 1400 grams. She is now at 1338. Should only be a few more days...

Emily on formula.
breastmilk contaminated.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Claire and Nanu sick

Claire and Nanu have colds. Claire's main symptom is frequent coughing.
We still have no conclusive information about the breastmilk culture. They have not started feeding her yet. Emily's blood test from yesterday shows improvement. I haven't spoken to the doctor yet today. More details later.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On the mend

Emily is on the mend. The blood sample from yesterday showed improvement. Her x-ray looks better and she will be able to resume feeds tomorrow. They send a sample of breastmilk to be cultured to make sure the bacteria didn't come from the milk. If the culture comes back positive they may feed her formula. AARRGGHHH!!!!! I told the doctor that I have frozen milk from much earlier that I can bring and she said or maybe current milk would be better. I do NOT want her to have formula.

Emily was fussy when I visited her earlier today. I tried to soothe her by putting a firm hand on her chest and legs. This helped her calm down and go back to sleep. She only has 3 IV's now instead of 4. I think I'll be able to hold her again tomorrow.

No meningitis

No meningitis! The test came back negative.
No Bradys or de-sats during the night--This is an improvement.
She's still off her feeds.
The Doctor isn't in yet. When she gets in she will read todays abdominal x-ray an determine whether Emily can resume feeds.
They will check her blood for the bacteria each day and when it comes back negative they will put in a new PIC line and get rid of the extra IV lines.

The doctor told me yesterday that she has a different strain of staph than they had thought. They switched her to a different antibiotic that is specific to treating the one she's got. One of the by products of this bacteria kills red blood cells. Pray that she will not become anemic from the infection.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In the NICU last night

Last night they did the spinal tap (AKA lumbar puncture). They won't know the lab results till tomorrow. They also gave her a transfusion which she tolerated well. Except for several de-sats her vital signs were stable during the night shift. She currently has 4 different IV's (Poor Emily, so much poking!) They have to keep moving the IV fluids to a different IV every few hours to prevent infiltration. My IV got infiltrated when I was in the hospital--it was quite painful.
They will do another abdominal x-ray tomorrow. They are continuing to suspend her feeds until then.
She is on two antibiotics instead of one. The doctors hadn't done rounds yet when I called so I don't know if there will be any changes today or if the doctor sees improvement from yesterday.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More info on Sick Emily

After talking to the doctor I have a bit more information. The infection began at the PIC line and has spread throughout the bloodstream. The PIC line was taken out this afternoon and Emily is receiving all her nutrition through a peripheral IV.

The doctor had looked at the chest x-ray and said the intestines looked distended. She will be able to resume feeds once they look better. The doctor said one reason for suspending feeds is to avoid necrotizing enterocolitis (a very serious disease of the intestines.)

When they resume feeds, they will start at 6cc and go up 2cc per day till she is back up to 12cc where she left off. (I was relieved to hear this since it means it won't take so long for her to get up to full feeds.) (Full feeds means no IV line-- probably close to 30cc [1oz] per feed.)

The doctor said that I can resume kangaroo care tomorrow if she is improving and not as fragile as she was today.

Pray especially for the spinal tap that they will do this evening to check for meningitis and for the blood transfusion she will receive this evening.

Prayer for a Sick Child:
O Lord, Thou who arranges all for the salvation of mankind, receive my humble prayer for this child Emily who is being tried by illness and heal her, for Thou dost know her sufferings. Permit her not to suffer, O Lord, but raise her quickly from this illness, for Thou art good and the lover of mankind. O, Lord show the power of thy mercy!

Emily is Sick

I just got off the phone with Jen who is in the hospital crying. Emily is sick and Jen is not allowed to hold her. She asked me (Jen Brigid) to post the update.

Yesterday afternoon, the hospital personnel diagnosed Emily with a staph infection after looking at her routine blood tests. Emily is now on antibiotics and has been moved from Room B back into Room A, the more intensive care area of the NICU. Emily is also now off feeds because it takes energy to digest and pass the pumped breastmilk and that energy needs to be conserved in her premie body for fighting this new infection.

Jen is disappointed to see such a significant set-back in Emily's progress. Thankfully, Emily is up to 2 lbs 13 oz and has been progressing so well. After an abrupt weaning like this, however, it takes a while to slowly build up the amount of milk delivered each feeding. They were also beginning to wean Emily from the cannula, but that will no longer be an immediate prospect.

In Jen's words, she just wants Emily to get out of the NICU and come home! She is one sad mommy.

When we ended the call, Jen was waiting to speak with the doctor on duty to get more details about Emily's situation and to appeal the nurse's decision not to let Jen hold Emily. Although the night-shift neonatologist is very sensitive to the parent-infant relationship and supportive of kangaroo care, the day doctor and most of the nurses who Mark and Jen interact with more regularly are less so.

Please pray for healing for Emily, for an absence of further complications, for wisdom and support from the hospital staff, and for strength and comfort for Mark and Jen.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Emily update

Emily is doing better today. Only one de-sat. Her heart rate and temp and breathing were back to her normal rates. She gained another 39 grams and is up to 2 lbs 11 oz. She seemed very content and was sleeping very deeply as I held her skin to skin today.

I'm experiencing less pain at the incision site. It only hurts when I cough. In the afternoons and evening I get a little wheezy and cough...allergies or reaction to the smog I think because I feel fine otherwise. I took a t hour nap this afternoon before going to see Emily. During lunch I was so sleepy. I took a longer nap than Claire.

Listening to Claire

These are some things that Claire is saying these days:
It's not a masterpiece. (from Fancy Nancy goes to the museum)
Ready Freddy.
No consequence. (Beatrix Potter)
See you later Alligator. After while Crocodile.
Stay clean Claire, don't get dirty. (From Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter)
Shall we do finger paints?
Papa is far away.
Nanu do it with you.
Kaputsky, kapuna, kapinsky

Also, Claire will climb up into a chair and look at me and ask, "How are you doing?"
The other day she said, "Mommy and daddy got married at church." (A week ago she looked at a little photo album of wedding pictures with Nanna.) She also said, "Claire got married" and "Mommy loves Daddy."

She recently started pretending that she is her cousin Jillian. She'll refer to herself as Jillian, "Jillian is swinging. Jillian is in the bathtub."
It is so much fun to see her pretend.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Today

Emily is now 2 lbs 10 oz or 1191 grams. I'm so glad she's gaining well. Her hair is getting a little bit thicker. She has dry skin so the nurse put some aquaphor ointment on her.
She is still having Bradys and de-sats.
Her heart rate was a bit slower today than in the past. Also her temperature was a bit lower and her breathing was a bit slower. I didn't get to ask the doc about these things.

I enjoyed my time with Claire. We went to the park. She and I were both suffering from allergies this morning. On the way to the park the first time she sneezed and coughed and coughed some more and then vomited. We went back home and got her cleaned up and she seemed fine just slightly wheezy. We then went to the park and had a lovely time. She ate a decent sized lunch and had a nap. then we went to the nearby farmer's market and picked up fruit and veggies. Claire enjoyed picking out okra and putting it in the bag. My mom called my cell just as we were about to leave for home. She had just pulled up. We visited over icedtea for a bit then I went to see Emily.

Changing of the guard

Emily continues to grow well. I think she's put on another 40 grams since my last post. She has a blood transfusion yesterday because her hemoglobin was low. Yesterday she had a few more brady's and de-sats. The transfusion may help with this.

We just said goodbye to Nanna and Poppa. Many thanks for taking good care of Claire and for helping us take care of many household tasks. (Especially the bathroom remodel and the trim and curtains in the nursery.

Nanu comes this afternoon. I decided to stay home from the hospital today and hang out with Claire as she hasn't had very many long blocks of mommy time lately.

reading break

Despite being incredibly busy around here as the parents of 2 toddlers and living in a 100+year-old house, we do have time to fill in the gaps with reading. As fans of Harry Potter, here are some similar recommendations: (Book 1 of Harry Potter is included since I can't find my original copy and want to re-add it to my library.)
My favorite of the group is The Mysterious Benedict Society which I vote best Juvenile Fiction of 2007.

(hold down the arrow buttons to rotate)

Monday, September 01, 2008

de-sat

Emily is up to 8cc every 3 hours. They are giving the milk over 15 minutes because she had been having some oxygen desaturation problems during feeds lately. (First I heard of it was today.) Please pray that she will be able to handle the feeds without having these problems. She also seemed to have some bradys while I was holding her in Kangaroo Care today. I say seemed because I didn't have a very good view of the monitors and the nurse didn't see them while they were happening. They were brief.
I didn't get to use the rocker today because Emily's nurse was alone when I arrived... I guess all the other nurses were getting food at a party in the lounge.

2 hours

I got to hold Emily skin-to-skin for 2 hours yesterday. Afterward I felt a sense of calm and happiness. I also got to have an impromptu date with Mark at Starbucks on the way home.
Emily was 1107 grams as of yesterday. That is 2 lbs 7 oz. She is growing faster than Claire did at this stage.

Emily was moved to "room C" of the NICU (which is presumably the same as Claire's "step-down NICU.") I was hoping this was the home of the glider chair, but I have yet to see it. Emily had a registry nurse the past two days, so she had no idea. Today I will find out if this chair really exists...

On Saturday the women of St Michael Church threw a baby shower for Emily at our house. I had a great time. It was so nice to see everyone since I haven't been to church in 2 months. A special thanks to Jill and Julie and Patty and Mary Patty and Joy who brought the food, set up and cleaned up. Everything was delish!
Claire enjoyed the party too. She received two gifts which she adores. She also got to help me open presents which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Claire went grocery shopping with Nana and Poppa this morning. She helped push the cart through the produce section and she spend a good deal of time "reading" the shopping list.

Claire's current favorite pastime is swinging on her new swing in the front yard. She also says, "shall we do bubbles." She likes to dip the bubble wand and run and shake it in the breeze to make bubbles. She still loves to paint. We have been experimenting with brushes lately but she still seems to prefer finger painting. Another frequently requested activity is playdough. Some days it gets put away quickly because she can't seem to resist putting it in the mouth. She loves being outside. In the back yard she likes to run around in her swim clothes and get wet, then she like to go around with her scrub brush and clean things all over the back yard.

Friday, August 29, 2008

daily update

Mark went back to work yesterday and today. I think it went pretty well for him though he was extra tired last night.

Claire got to play dress-up with Nana today. She wore a paper crown and a green polka-dot shawl. They have also had fun dressing up her stuffed animals and dolls.

Emily continues to do well. She gained 6 grams since yesterday. They are waiting till she hits 1200 before they give her milk that hasn't been frozen first. (They are concerned about some virus that very small preemies sometimes get from unfrozen milk.) I got to hold her 90 minutes today.

I put some new photos on Flikr yesterday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

News

Emily is doing well. She is up to 1061 grams and is taking 5cc every 4 hours. I've been able to hold her for and hour or more every day. They are moving her up to 6cc. So far each time she gets to 6cc she's had a problem handling it. Pray that she will be able to tolerate the increase. She is still on 2 liters of air through the cannula and doing fine with breathing and heart rate at this setting.

The milk supply is increasing daily and I'm producing enough now to feed a typical newborn.

I washed preemie and newborn clothes today. So cute and small...though they are way too big for Emily at the moment.

Claire can't get enough of the new swing. I tried it out too with her on my lap. Loads of fun...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Trouble with feeds

Emily was off her feeds for about 8 hours today because she wasn't digesting well. They decided to decrease the frequency of her meals and the quantity of milk. She was up to 6cc every 3 hours. Now she is at 4cc every 4 hours.

Mark asked about the chair situation. There is a glider in the other two NICU nurseries. Emily will be moved to one of them once she is more stable and needs less care. (Probably once she isn't receiving nutrition through the IV.)
He also found out the name of the NICU manager who is currently on vacation and he wants to ask about donating a chair. (Not that we have one to donate.)
He also asked if the NICU staff receives training on Kangaroo care. They PA (Physicians assistant) said that is it a topic in their continuing education sometimes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

growing

Emily is up to one Kilo. That's 2 lbs 3 oz. She is taking 5cc of milk every 3 hours. Last time she got up to 6cc she started having problems. Hopefully she has grown and matured enough to continue tolerating this quantity of milk.
I got to hold her for a record 1.5 hours this afternoon. It was so nice bing close to her. I was very uncomfortable by the end. The chairs they have in there are not adequate for this length of sitting on one spot.

Claire got to go on a field trip to the beach with Nanna and Mark. She had a great time in the waves.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nice Visit

I had a nice visit with Emily today. She is doing well. She gained back the weight she lost the other day and is at 971 grams. (Maybe the weigh-in wasn't accurate before?) She was swaddled and sleeping peacefully when I arrived. I pumped milk and enjoyed looking at her. Then I got to hold her. Ar first she was swaddled but she got too warm so then I held her skin-to-skin. It was pure bliss. She was sleeping so sweetly and seemed content. Then I got to change her diaper and take some pictures. By this time she was awake and alert. I pumped again and put my hand on her head and talked and sang to her. She seemed very interested.
I'm starting to get to know the nursing staff and am feeling more comfortable with them. Emily has had really nice nurses the past several days.

I'm looking forward to having taco salad for dinner. Thanks Hartenburgs for taking care of luncheon and for sending the leftovers :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

On Track

Emily seems to be back on track. She is taking breastmilk again. They are starting out very slowly and monitoring her closely.
She had a few bradys yesterday but none today. She has adjusted well to being on the cannula again. She lost some weight since yesterday though-- 20 some grams.
I got to hold her this morning. It seemed like so long ago since the last time. She is so very tiny and so very precious. She seemed very comfortable and seemed to be sleeping deeply as I held her.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Claire: future botanist

Claire loves "gardening" she helps her grandmothers put weeds in a bin and pulls off leaves and flowers to add to the heap. She also likes to help with the watering. Today I was out front with her and in the space of two minutes she correctly identified the rose bush (not in bloom) and a geranium which had pink blossoms. Later she also identified the red geranium. She has enjoyed spending lots of time in the yard this summer. We haven't filled up her "swimming pool" very recently. She was requesting it this morning but I don't know where her swim clothes are. Maybe later.

little step forward

Emily is doing a little better today. She hasn't had any more Bradycardia spells (Will refer to as "Bradys" from here on out.) They have lessened the amount of breathing support she is getting from the SiPAP. She is back on photo-therapy. They did an x-ray this morning but the doctors hadn't reviewed them yet at the time of my visit this morning.


I sat and read a Beatrix Potter book to her while holding her arm and shoulder in my hand. She was sleeping peacefully. She seemed more comfortable today. She complained when the nurse changed her position and tried to go back onto her side. I mentioned this to the nurse who decided to return her to her side. I changed her diaper for the first time. I felt happy about being involved in her care today.

Weight gain: Emily is up to 963 grams. That is 59 grams over her birth weight and equal to 2 lbs 2 oz.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

more set backs

Yesterday afternoon I didn't hold Emily because they were giving her a blood transfusion which took a little over 3 hours. Good news is Claire got to see Emily for the first time. She was very interested in Emily's tiny toes.
During the afternoon Emily spit up some milk and her belly was distended. The nurse extracted a lot of air from her belly which was back to it's normal size before her next meal. The nurse practitioner decided to continue feeding her on the same feeding schedule as before. Today they did an x-ray and discovered that her intestines were distended so they suspended all feeds and put a thicker tube with some suction down her throat to her tummy in order to keep her belly empty.

She had lots more Bradycardia episodes during the night last night. They were longer spells and her oxygen level dropped. The blood transfusion did not help with this as they had hoped. They changed her nasal cannula for the larger and more supportive SiPAP which she was on the first several days in the NICU. The SiPAP has helped with the Bradycardia spells.

They also drew blood for tests and started her on antibiotics today in case her symptoms are due to infection.

On a brighter note, Emily gained back the weight she lost during the first several days (50 grams) and has been gaining several grams per day.

This afternoon I prayed the Cannon for a sick child at her bedside and I couldn't stop crying. I'm so sad that she is sick and so sad that I can't hold her (because of the SiPAP) and sad that she can't take any milk right now. I just want her to be well and to grow so she can come home.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ups and Downs

Sorry it's been so long since we updated. We've been having difficulty connecting to the blog.

Emily was baptized "Emelia" by her godfather on Tuesday after Saint Emelia, the Capadocian saint of the 4th century who was mother of 10 children 5 of whom were sainted: Saint Macrina, Saint Basil the Great, Saint Peter of Sebaste, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, and Saint Naucratius.

Emily had a good first week. She required photo-therapy for jaundice. She has been weaned from the humidifier which was adding moisture to the air in her isolette. She is being weaned from the canula also. (This blows air into her nostrils to help with breathing. She didn't have any episodes of Apnea, Bradycardia, or oxygen desaturation during the first week.

Yesterday Emily started to have a few set backs. The chest x-ray showed that her heart was becoming a bit congested. The Doctors started her on Lasix which should help her to get rid of the extra fluid. (This is common preemie medicine for VSD.)

Emily started having Bradycardia episodes last night and had several this morning. The doctor also said her hemoglobin is slightly lower than normal so she may need a blood transfusion soon.

On a happier note, now that she is off phototherapy, Emily and I have been enjoying Kangaroo Care. Let the bonding begin! Her nurse today is super nice and makes a point of caring for my needs as well as the baby's. I am really touched because I haven't felt very welcome in the NICU up till now. Also, her doctor asked me how my pumping was going. I appreciated the encouragement on this front too.

Please Pray that the new medicine will be effective, that the Bradycardia episodes will stop and her hemoglobin will go back up to normal. Pray for me to be able tocope with the ups and downs and the separation.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jen Home News on Emily

Home again. It was great to be re-united with Claire after being in the hospital since last Tue. I hated being separated from her. Claire was fascinated looking at my incision and she had to check out by belly button as per her habit.

I took two naps this afternoon and managed to have just enough uumph to go see Emily this evening with my dad.

Lots of news about Emily today.
First a concern and prayer request, Emily has a heart defect called VSD or ventricular septal defect. Claire had a small VSD which closed on its own. Emily has a moderate sized hole between the two lower chambers of her heart which the cardiologist says is less likely to close on its own. He said it may cause too much blood flow to the lungs at some point which would be treated initially with medication. (I just realized Mark already mentioned this in his post earlier.) Please pray that the VSD will not put undue stress on her lungs or pulmonary blood vessels and that it will close on its own.

Good news, Emily was given a tiny bit of milk every 6 hours today and has tolerated it well so far. She has an ultrasound of the head today and everything looked normal.

She is doing very well with the nasal canula which is just providing a little pressure to help with her breathing.

They took out the umbilical line today. Hurray! this means one step closer to Kangaroo Care. I have high hopes that I will be able to hold her tomorrow.

cute little peanut


cute little peanut
Originally uploaded by hudsonthego


Now we can see Emily's face. The doctors say her breathing and everything else is so stable that they will try feeding her some colostrum today! We are very excited. This good news cheered us as Jen checked out of the hospital today. Please continue to pray for Emily's continued stability and growth. The cardiologist called us at home and said the VSD is "moderate-sized" so they will monitor it closely over the next few weeks. Pray it heals rather than requiring surgery. Claire's VSD healed, but her's was smaller.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Update Saturday

I just spoke with Jen and Mark on the phone and things seem to be going well. Jen is up and walking a bit already. Leaving her room on the seventh floor to visit Emily on the 8th floor, however, is exhausting and taxing on her recovering body. (Why, oh why, do they keep the postpartum rooms on a separate floor!?)

Emily had a great first night with no "events": her breathing, oxygen saturation, heart rate, and body temperature all stayed steady and strong. Her breathing was mostly unassisted though the pressurized nose feed remains attached for the time being.

Later, unfortunately, the NICU staff had difficulty inserting an IV line yesterday and that stressed Emily out. They had to make several tries and redos stretching over a few hours! As a result, Emily had some "desaturation" episodes, meaning her oxygen levels fell a few times last night.

On the flip side, having the IV set is one step to closer to removing the umbilical line so that Mark and Jen can cuddle with Emily for some mutually needed and desired skin-to-skin "Kangaroo" time. The nurse told Jen that they might be able to remove the belly line latter today. Hopefully, that means Jen can soon implement her idea of setting up her lawn chair in the NICU to relax with her little one against her chest.

The planned baptism had to be rescheduled because of the extended IV procedure and complications that were keeping Emily and the NICU staff occupied. The new plan is to have the sacrament performed tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, August 08, 2008

first Emily pics


avoiding intubation


with CPAP attached


holding Dad's hand


Thursday, August 07, 2008

More Details

Emily Ruth had an apgar score of 8/9 (0ut of 10/10) and weighed in at 2 lbs. Her lusty cries, kicks, and punches were a comfort to her parents, especially in contrast to their previous experience with Claire who made only a peep or two, was intubated, scored 4/5 on the apgar, and was, in Mark's terms, "more floppy." If that floppy preemie blossomed into the beautiful, intelligent Claire we know and love today, the future looks bright indeed for Emily Ruth. :o)

Jen said the surgery went as smoothly as hoped. The anesthesiologist was fabulous and got the spinal tap on the first try. Emily was not under stress and was delivered in the sac, which is ideal. Mark said they removed the sac intact and carried it to a table before slicing it open and letting Emily out. How wonderful!

Jen was feeling confident in the timing of the cesarean and in the medical care team. Both Jen and Mark (and I with them) wept for joy and thankfulness at how well it all went and how healthy Emily appears to be.

Thanks be to God for the competent doctors as well as the providential timing of the bed rest, hospital admittance, and delivery. We thank Him for the advance notice and the steriod treatment that allowed Emily's lungs to be readied for postpartum life. We thank Him for all the medical advances that have allowed us to care for IGUR (intrauterine growth restricted) premies. And we thank Him most of all for answering our prayers for protection and grace.

Please pray for continued protection, wisdom, and peace; for strong and steady growth for Emily Ruth; for parent-infant bonding; and for a smooth start to a successful breastfeeding relationship as soon as Emily's body is ready for that transition.

Emily's NICU nurse said that the tube in Emily's umbilical, which is providing sustenance for her, will probably be in place for three or four days before they are able to switch to an IV feed. Mark and Jen will probably be able to hold her after that switch has occurred as the belly tube is more sensitive to movement and gets in the way of skin-to-skin cuddling. For now, Mark and Jen are contenting themselves with gazing at her tiny loveliness, speaking softly to her, and maybe holding a little foot or hand through one of the Isolette doors.

-Jen Brigid

welcome, Emily Ruth

Our new daughter was born today at 5:47 PM and we are thrilled.
She came into the world kicking and screaming quite enthusiastically, considering her diminuitive sub-2-pound weight. She fought off the doctor's attempts to insert a breathing tube, so for now she just has a nose-piece supplementing oxygen. Pray her lungs continue on this good start!

Pictures and more details coming soon.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Littlest "B" to be Delivered Tomorrow

[This is Jen Brigid posting on behalf of the Hudsons.]

Jen Marie is scheduled to have a caesarian section tomorrow evening at 5:00 p.m. The littlest B, Emily Ruth, will be at 30 weeks gestation, that's ten weeks early, folks, and two weeks earlier than Claire. Emily Ruth is also weighing in on the light side (860 grams/1.896 lbs); she's lighter than Claire was at her birth.

The reason the doctors have ordered the caesarian is because the baby's heart rate has slowed a handful of times since Jen has been in the hospital indicating that the baby may not be getting sufficient oxygen. Not getting enough oxygen is a very bad thing, especially for the little one's brain. Jen is now on oxygen herself to help increase supply for both.

The caesarian is delayed until tomorrow in order to allow time for a steroid treatment to take effect and begin stimulating the baby's lungs in preparation for a premature entrance into life outside the womb.

Please pray specifically for several intentions:

  • Pray that Emily Ruth experiences no harm and no damage of any kind, whether to the brain or any other part, both during the remaining hours of uterine life and also once outside the womb.
  • Pray for emotional and physical protection over Jen, especially for the spinal tap procedure, the caesarian surgery, and during recovering.
  • Pray for divine peace, comfort, and strength for all four of the Hudsons as well as for their extended family.
  • Pray for wisdom, discernment, and courage for Jen and Mark in advocating for the best interest of Emily Ruth and Jen.
  • Pray for insight, compassion, wisdom, and skill for the doctors, especially the anesthesiologist, the perinatologist (obstetrician), and the neonatologist(s).
  • Pray with the priest who will (we hope) be present at the surgery to administer the sacrament of baptism to baby and holy unction to both. Pray for divine healing grace and protection.
  • Pray for immediate and extended opportunities for maternal-infant bonding and (non-nutritive) breastfeeding postpartum (see Kangaroo Care article referenced previously on the MarkHu blog after Claire's birth) and for an easy, quick transition to breast feeding for both mom and baby. Pray for doctor and hospital staff support in pursuing this goal.
Thanks for joining the angels and saints in surrounding the Hudsons with prayer and love during this incredibly hard time.

accelerate

baby scheduled to be delivered Thursday due to heart decelerations ... more later

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

the hospital stay

Our priest's wife summed it up best:

Please continue to pray for Jen, as she was admitted to the hospital today, as a precautionary measure. Though the baby has been growing, the doctor is not completely satisfied that it has grown enough and so has put Jen in the hospital until she delivers. There is no imminent danger, but we need to pray earnestly that the baby can continue to gestate as long as possible.

Thanks for your prayers.


This time, we went in for different reasons than the previous hospital stay (a few weeks ago for blood-pressure monitoring.) We expect this to be the final phase before the delivery, but are unsure how long it will be. The perinatologist wants to measure growth again next Tuesday. The hardest part is being apart.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sleep issues

Claire hasn't been sleeping well this week.
Last night was the worst so far. She woke up at 11:20 And was up for two hours. Then she woke up again around 4. Thankfully Mark and I were able to take turns caring for her. I had high hopes for last night because she took a slightly longer nap. Usually when she naps well she sleeps well.

Today she had two naps so I think she's not quite as sleep deprived... Here's hoping.

I am very tired in spite of laying around all the time. I managed to take two naps today.

One thing I have enjoyed during these 3 weeks on bed rest is observing Claire. Most of the time she is such a sweet, charming, inquisitive, affectionate girl. I have fallen in love with her all over again. Even in her fussy demanding moments I have been able to be more patient with her since I'm not "on duty" 24/7.

She has also been very itchy the past few days. I think this is mainly because she is extra tired.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

reading etc

I finished reading another book today. This is one Katie loaned me called Children in the Church Today: An Orthodox Perspective by Sister Magdalen. I found it very helpful and inspiring. I want to take some notes before returning it. I'm about 3/4 of the way through The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

I enjoyed watching Claire play in the sprinklers in the back yard today.

I also enjoyed flipping through some new magazines Mark's mom picke dup at the grocery store.

I did some meal planning before she came. It's been fun trying out some summer recipies from last issues of Everyday Food. I just with I could participate in the cooking.