Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wait a minute...Two babies???

The whole family trooped up the hill today for an appointment with the lactation specialist.  I'm sure all the doctors that cared for me and Camille did an excellent job and earned their paychecks (stay tuned for a future post on THAT) but I think the lactation specialists have been the most helpful part of this whole experience.  Of course their job is to help with all things breastfeeding, but they've also given great advice on the health and development of our preemie.  Today, after finding out that Camille weighs 6 lbs 5 oz, up 4 ounces since Tuesday (that's hella awesome for those of you that don't follow weight gain of preemie infants transitioning from bottle to breast), we worked on technique with a sort of hungry baby.  We were an hour early on her schedule so she humored us, but was much happier snuggling with Daddy afterwards.  (Imagine life about 2 hours after Thanksgiving dinner.  Yeah, you'll eat the pie, because it is there, but unbuckling your pants and lying on the couch is a little more appealing.)

We were talking about pumping and how to make it easier.  Since I have to pump every three hours, basically after every feeding, I essentially have 2 babies.  My beautiful, sweet Camille is baby number one and my trusty, hospital rental pump is baby number two.  Both babies require separate techniques.  Her suggestion regarding my pump baby was to make a special bra so that I can pump hands free.  My good friend suggested this to me a couple of weeks ago (thanks Melissa!) but I needed to hear the suggestion again after been knee deep in this to understand how helpful it is.  Basically, I just cut holes into an old bra and now I can pump and blog at the same time!  (Guess what I'm doing now!)  Genius.

I'm entering the part of the day that brings me huge relief.  It isn't the best part of the day, nor my favorite, those moments always include Camille.  Right now I'm pumping for the last time of the day.  When I'm done, I will go to sleep and I get a break until 9am.  This is really the only time I sleep.  Bill will wake up for Camille's 6am feeding and wheel her bassinet out of the room.  That is why I can sleep.  This child grunts, groans and stretches more than any creature I've ever encountered!  It is very hard to sleep to since my new, paranoid mama ears catch everything.  So 4:30 - 9am means actual sleep.  Goodnight!

More bloggin' fun

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Diapering 101

New parents may want to take note of this. I wish someone had warned me!

Note: This applies to newborns. It may apply to older children but my experience is only with newborns.

When you are changing an infant you basically follow the following steps:

1. Remove old diaper.
2. Clean baby's bum.
3. Put on clean diaper.

Unfortunately, several steps have been omitted, so I shall add them to the list.

1. Remove baby's adorable outfit. This involves finding all the snaps which are often hidden on ridiculously cute outfits. If you started with a sleeping baby, she will likely be stirring at this point. Moving quickly will help, but is rather pointless because baby will soon be what you call a "Wiggle Monster."
2. Place new diaper underneath old diaper. This is an important step the nurse showed us in the hospital. Reason why will become obvious later.
3. Have wipes at the ready. We use gauze pads from the hospital for wet bums and wipes for messy bums. Saves baby's skin a little. Have both wipes ready because until completing step #4, you don't know which one you will need.
4. Remove old diaper. You should now know which type of wipe to use. It is important to have followed step #2 because as you are removing old diaper, baby will likely wiggle and if messy bum touches changing pad, you have to change it.
5. Clean baby's bum. At this point, baby will be wiggling around which makes this one of the hardest steps. Most people will advise you to put both baby's feet in one hand and lift slightly to provide access to bum. I would concur that this is indeed the easiest way to clean bum, but I would like to add a very strong warning to everyone here. Hopefully you followed step #2 for this part. When you collect baby's feet and lift up you are essentially creating a cannon. Be careful where you point baby's bum because if baby wasn't quite done filling her diaper, the slight lift puts pressure on tummy and may cause baby to fire off a poop missile. If you're lucky, the ammo will land on the clean diaper. If you are unlucky, which come on kids, this is me we're talking about, the weapon will shoot out and land on the wall, changing pad, diaper pail and your arm and completely miss the clean diaper underneath.
5a. If necessary, use clean diaper underneath to defend against poop missile.
5b. Stop laughing.
5c. If necessary, take another clean diaper and place under now soiled diaper.
5d. Remove soiled diaper. Ignore poop on wall and changing pad at this point because what choice do you have?
5e. Repeat step 5 (clean baby's bum) and pray baby is out of ammo.
6. Put on clean diaper. Baby is now wiggling like a worm who just finished a double espresso, so this becomes the most challenging step. Not only do you have to continue hanging on to baby, you also have to adjust diaper and make sure to avoid any stray poop from the poop missile. Baby will not accommodate you by relaxing legs or holding still. Diapers are relatively easy to put on, provided baby is asleep, you have positioned it perfectly, and you don't have poop on hands.
7. Once baby is diapered, use wipe to remove poop from arm and use hand sanitizer.
8. If changing station is too covered in poop, pick up baby, put baby in bassinet for safe keeping, remove soiled linens from changing station and replace with clean. Come back to the wall when baby is asleep.
9. Wash hands.
10. Retrieve baby from bassinet and return to clean changing station.
11. Choose another ridiculously cute outfit. Baby is wiggling and probably squawking by now, so the cuteness of the outfit should be determined by the level of irritation of the baby. The cuter the outfit, the more complicated it will be to put on. The more annoyed the baby, the more wiggly the baby. Not sure the math problem there, but you should take all factors into consideration.
12. Dress baby. You can make fish faces and clicking noises. You can coo at baby. You can nuzzle baby's round and adorable tummy. None of this will calm baby but it will make you feel better.
13. Pick up baby in one arm and attempt to prepare a blanket for swaddling with one hand. Preparing a blanket means laying it flat and folding one corner down.
14. Swaddle baby. Baby might calm down at this point.
15. Pick up swaddled, clean, ridiculously cute baby and snuggle. Laugh when baby fills her pants while cuddling and remember that baby grows up too fast, and soon you will miss these moments.

Oh yeah, don't forget poop on the wall.

Family Accomplishments, by the Numbers

*As of noon today:

Papa Burel:
*jogged with Master Teddy
*picked up dog poop
*washed dishes
*put Round Up on weeds in front

Master Teddy:
*jogged with Daddy
*took a nap
*tried to lick baby
*got told no and had to go outside
*took another nap

Baby Burel:
*nursed like a big girl 
*pooped like a big girl
*napped like a big girl
*did about 37 extremely cute things, but who is counting

Mama Burel:
*ate a waffle
*put contacts in

*Not that anyone is keeping track

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yeah, what day is it again?

I feel like I ask this question at least 10 times a day. I know exactly what the date is because I have to write it on all of Camille's bottles but I have no idea what day of the week it is - everything is just running together. Bill and I are going up to the hospital for most of the day. Our goal is to be with Camille for as many of her feedings as our bodies can take. Camille eats every 3 hours, so we try to get up to OHSU by 8:30am so we can do her 9am feeding. When we arrive, we change her diaper, check her temperature, switch her blood oxygen probe from one foot to another, unplug her from her monitors and feed her. If I breastfeed, that means we have to weigh her first. After she eats, we reweigh her and determine if she needs more in a bottle or not. Then we get her rewrapped, plugged in and ready for sleep. The whole process takes about an hour. When we finish, I have to go pump, then we try to figure out what to do for an hour and a half when it all starts again.

We've been doing her 9am, 12pm, and 3pm feedings, which means we're at the hospital from 8:30 - 4:30pm. My parents have been coming in daily and giving Camille her 9pm feeding. We're happy she has family for 4 out of 8 feedings, but of course we want to be there more. It sounds like we may need to stay home a little more because we think our little girl may be coming home soon and our house is far from ready. Camille is eating most of her feedings that her family is here for. The nighttime feedings have been a little less.

Today was a really long day because we also attended a parenting class from 3:30-5:30. If you weren't already stressed about being a parent to a preemie, be sure to take the parenting class. It is basically a breakdown of all the things that could go wrong if you do something stupid, like take the advice from the wrong book. I was a little deflated afterwards, because I like to do things exactly right, and instead I feel like we're getting mixed messages about what is right. Example: Don't use talcum powder of any kind. I knew this one, but another mama pointed out that in a going home packaged she received from the Mother Baby Unit (MBU) there is a bottle of baby powder. Another example: Swaddle baby so she has access to her hands. Bill and I have been swaddling Camille with her arms at her sides. Don't swaddle baby at bedtime. The nurses, and so also Bill and I, have been swaddling her to sleep. It is just frustrating and not only does everyone consider themselves an expert, all the actual experts disagree about everything.

In addition to the stress of the class, the stress of the environment where Camille is, and the stress of this whole situation, we had a pretty scary incident this afternoon while feeding Camille. We were smushed into our corner with screens up for privacy when we her this crash and thump and the screens moved. Startled the heck out of us and got immediately scary when we realized there was a woman lying on the floor outside our area. The poor woman had fainted and briefly blacked out. The nurses called a code to get rapid response up to her. She came to relatively quickly and was talking, but she was laying on the floor and we could see her head right below the screens. The adults were pretty stressed out so after the woman was tended to and taken to the ER, we calmed down and switched Camille to a bottle. I believe the woman will be just fine since she was talking on her way out the door. Bill and I agreed that we really need to get our baby home because the environment can't be good for her. (Sound familiar?)

So there you have it! Rest assured Camille is making excellent progress and is well on her way to coming home with us. Bill and I can't wait to be exhausted because of Baby Girl's needs at home and not because of daily trips to the hospital.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Before and After

It is really weird to be online, peruse this blog and Facebook, and reread things that I wrote just 5 days ago.  What a lifetime ago that was!  The last post, the one where I describe the lowpoint in the hospital, is especially funny to me now, knowing what I know.  I'd like to share the story of the last few days because I know many are curious, and I suppose I will want to remember some of the details some day, but I think it is important to point out that this part of the story is merely a blip.  A new life began 5 days ago, and that story, well, that's the page turner.

I checked into the hospital on June 23rd after some bleeding.  Bill and I weren't terribly concerned because the bleeding was very light and we've done this before.  I was 32 weeks 5 days pregnant and the docs really wanted to observe me.  I spent Wednesday night in the hospital and was shocked when they recommended I stay another night.  Friday morning the docs had all but discharged me.  Bill was on his way to the hospital, I was hanging out waiting when they put the fetal monitor on for one last check before discharge.  I started bleeding as she was hooking it up.  The plan changed and we learned I'd now be in the hospital at least a week for observation.  Strict bedrest (bathroom breaks only) was also prescribed, so Bill and I settled in for the wait.

Docs weren't kidding about strict.  I was not allowed to shower, not allowed to leave the room, even in a wheelchair.  Shower restrictions lifted Saturday and docs said Monday that I could take a wheelchair ride as long as I didn't leave the unit I was staying in.  Monday afternoon Bill stepped outside to get the wheelchair and I had another small bleed.  At this point I'd had 3 bleeds and we realized I would be in the hospital until the baby arrived.  They also decided to deliver her via cesarean at 37 weeks, which meant the wait was three weeks.  Wednesday morning they delivered the news and late Wednesday night, early Thursday morning was when I had my small breakdown.

And 20 minutes after I posted that post, I started bleeding again.  2 AM, I went down to Labor and Delivery for monitoring.  It was explained to me that the bleeding was definitely from the placenta previa and after 4 bleeds, the gambling was getting too risky.  Every time I bled I was at a greater risk of bleeding again and a greater risk for the next bleed being a huge blood loss that could jeopardize our health.  Their plan was to deliver the baby that same day.  For some reason I didn't panic.  Didn't get upset.  I just waited for a reasonable hour to call Bill and tell him to get Teddy ready for Summer Camp with our dear friends.  When he arrived, we calmly discussed the plan and chose the baby's name.  We'd been tossing two names around but I needed the name chosen and agreed upon before we went into surgery.  We also met with pediatricians to discuss the plan for the baby's arrival and the likely scenario she would be in after delivery.

At about 3:15 they started prepping me for surgery.  My epidural was placed and as they were moving me into a lying down position on the gurney, I had a pretty significant bleed.  Things moved pretty quick after that.

Camille Faith Burel was born on July 1, at 3:44 PM.  Bill and I heard a cry and he checked over the barrier to see her.  She was taken into the adjoining room to be assessed for what she needed.  My procedure was finished and on my way down to the cardiac ICU for recovery, they swung my bed by Camille so I could see her.

In the 3 minutes I got to see her, I could already tell that this child is a knock out.  Gorgeous black hair, perfect features.  I said goodnight and headed off for my stay in the ICU.  Camille was taken to the NICU.  The assessment of her breathing determined that she would need a C-Pap machine, which is the same machine sleep apnea patients use.  Daddy spent most of his time with her so he could tell me exactly what was going on with her.

Camille was given three enormous jobs before she is allowed to come home with us.  The first is to breathe on her own which Camille checked off her list overnight  When Bill arrived early Friday morning, Camille was off the C-Pap machine and had skipped the oxygen up the nose step entirely.  Her next job is to maintain her body temperature.  Camille needs to get a little fat on her body before she is able to work on this step.  The last step is the one she is working on now.  Camille must be able to eat her full, prescribed meal consistently.  She started eating 5 mLs on Sunday and has worked up to 25 mLs today.  In order to go home, she must consistently finish 35 mLs at every meal without help of the gavage, which is basically a feeding tube.

I stayed in the cardiac ICU for 3 nights -  little longer than we anticipated.  My heart did exactly it's job recovering from surgery and is showing no negative affects of pregnancy nor delivery.  I did lose quite a bit of blood in the surgery which has made recovery a slow process.  On Friday, Camille's second day of life, they were ready to get me out of ICU.  I turned on as much charm as possible when you haven't showered in 3 days and just gave birth and my legitimate tears bought me a visit to Camille...and another night in the ICU when I fainted.  That poor nurse!  A spike in heart rate Saturday morning earned me another night in ICU and I was finally able to leave Sunday morning.

Several times a day, when things are quiet, I stop suddenly and think, "What happened?"  I loved being pregnant and sometimes I look down at my belly and for a moment that lasts only a heartbeat, I wistfully remember and miss being pregnant.  Almost immediately though I get a picture in my mind of Camille and my heart leaps and screams, "She's here!  She's here!"  And she is perfect.  And how she got here is just one page in her story.  Stay tuned for that, because it will be the best story you ever read.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Us versus them

Warning: this post was written on an iTouch. I don't have the patience nor the skill to fix typos.

I am surprised it came this soon but I believe this may be the lowpoint. Writing this post is keeping me from crying which is the only reason I writing it a la hunt and peck on a device the size of a cAlculator. The docs told me yesterday, after they said I am here till the baby comes, that they would pit me on do not disturb at night which means no vitals checks from 10 to 6. I am awake because the nurse just left after checking my vitals. I asked why and she said the docs wanted to. Goody for them. I hVe not slept more than 2-3 hours at a stretch since I arrived and never once have my vitals or the baby's changed even a little. They are taking a healthy woman, in no pain, and put her in a pressure cooker, all under the banner of "we need to be safe" and I fear that my compliance and morale are soon going to be in jeopardy. I plan to tell them this tomorrow.

My healthy environment has all but disappeared and I don't see how increasing my stress, taking away sleep, taking away comfort, depriving me of fresh air and forcing everyone I care about to watch it all helplessly is going to keep me safe for another 3 weeks. I'll see if they can explain that in the morning.