Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 31st, 2009

The end of another month. This marks 1 month since Nora was born. We got her Social Security number yesterday, woot. Now I can file my taxes! Without her SS#, we weren't eligible for earned income credit, which is a very good sum of money compared to what we would have gotten back.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Infant CPR

Erin and I watched an infant CPR video made by the Red Cross, at the hospital earlier this afternoon. In addition to the obvious benefit, it gave me some time to practice holding a plastic infant in what I would have considered odd, potentially dangerous, but medically approved ways, so that I'm more comfortable (I hope) with the idea of holding the live ones, in any capacity.

Having Erin's plastic baby's head pop-off in her capable hands makes me both a little nervous and a little relieved. I mean, she knows how to hold Nora, so maybe I just need to relax a little.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January 28th, 2009

Erin corrected me on a couple things when she got home. Nora is showing progress nursing, she's latching-on more often, stronger, and I guess for longer periods of time. Erin bent down to kiss her, and Nora tried suckling on her nose.

One of the concerns is that she may not be trying hard enough on the breast because she's been getting milk easier through the bottle. The first idea was to bring-in low-flow nipples for the bottles, and later that was supplemented by eliminating the bottles altogether whenever Erin was around - having Nora nurse exclusively, and take any extra fluids through her feeding tube.

Another thing is that the doctor's think that maybe the February due date wasn't that far off the mark after all. Even though Nora is a good-sized preemie, this may just mean that she would have been a big newborn, she's just not as developed as you'd expect for a baby her size.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 27th, 2009

Nora's gained-back the weight she lost the other day. Or more likely according to her primary nurse, there was an error with the scale; the amount she gained yesterday was higher than normal, making her suspect that she really hadn't gained that much in one day, but that maybe she had gained some of it the day before, and the scale was off. Apparently they're not the latest/greatest and prone to be a little whacked.

She was really pooped-out today. I think she looked around for a few seconds when we got there, and pretty much just slept for the rest of the day. She took two bottle feedings last night after we left, but the feeding I got to sat through around noon was through the feeding tube.

We're told that this is usually the most frustrating part of the preemie cycle. Everything else seems to be taken care of, it's just a matter of getting her brain mature enough to handle the nursing process, and want to feed. The whole sucking/breathing/swallowing thing is apparently very complicated to a newborn, especially a preemie, and it may just take time for her to mature enough to do it effectively. So, we wait.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some Links

Some quotes from Bill Cosby:
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/bill_cosby.html

Postpartum Depression Strikes New Fathers Too:
http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/sexual-reproductive/2008/05/21/postpartum-depression-strikes-new-fathers-too.html

"Long recognized as a problem afflicting some new mothers, postpartum depression can also grip men—though mental health professionals acknowledge that until recently they largely overlooked that fact. Male postpartum depression took a step out of obscurity this month when it was for the first time the subject of a workshop at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

Ten percent of new fathers and 14 percent of new mothers are affected by depression, says psychologist James F. Paulson, assistant professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 25th, 2009 p.2

I got to see Nora awake for a while, I was over earlier today than usual because I didn't go to work last night and got some more sleep overnight. She didn't do as well today as yesterday, and didn't finish all her feedings after we left last night. The nurses are trying to figure out a schedule that will work for her, playing things loose, trying to prod her into taking more meals on her own. I think they're starting to get frustrated too, Nora by all rights should be coming home soon.

The carseat that my brother brought up is still too small for her. She's short. We're thinking that Portland is a little more lenient with sending the babies home propped-up in their carseat than Bangor...even though my brother had a 50 mile drive home from the hospital, and Nora will have only 2 miles.

Erin went to Target tonight to pick up odds and ends on and off the registries, like a changing table pad and extra bottles.

January 25th, 2009

Nora's been in the hospital now for 26 days. Almost four weeks, I think it's time she came home.

I wasn't pleased with the color of the last few photos. Maybe it's my monitor, maybe it's just that the LCD's at work are brighter. Not sure, but in any case I tweaked the color and wanted to repost this one:



Erin washed my brother's carseat equipment last night, looks much better now. We're taking it to the hospital with us today; we explained what it looked like to the nurse who said that it should be fine. My worry that the bottom slot was only a little lower than the other car seat didn't phase her, she said that it's also the placement of the buckles, and that a quarter inch to half an inch difference may be all the difference to getting her home. I hope so.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 24th, 2009 p.2

Nora is up to 6 lbs 5 oz (2856 g), and has not had to use the tube to be fed at any point today, up to when we left earlier this evening. A very good sign - the nurse said that if she can go 24 hours without requiring the tube, they'd take it out. After that, her discharge would be determined by non-medical issues, such as proper carseat availability. Things we can actually take care of for her. So woot.

Another thing that happened today reminded me that sometimes the things we may try to ignore, or that may even frustrate us at times, can be signs of hope and progress. For me, it was the first "breaking of wind" after my surgery. For Erin, it was also gastronomically related - her first non-painful bowel movement after delivery. In both cases, we emphatically cheered for the other doing things that normally people don't even like talking about.

Today, it was the sound of a baby screaming, and in this case, our baby. Nora apparently did NOT like her bath today, and screamed so loudly that one of the nurses went door to door to find out what on earth was going on. Erin however said that Nora was in desperate need, as she was a very stinky baby.

Tonight I got to visit for a while, I held Nora and watched her sleep. At least, I think she was sleeping, she moved around a lot for someone who should have been asleep. Gas? Pooping? I still don't know. Erin says it's normal, they're very squirmy all the time. It felt weird to me though. Later while Erin was burping her, Nora let one loose that did not sound like it should have, at least not to me. I was expecting "cute little baby burp from cute little baby". Yea no, this was closer to something you'd hear in a frat house late Saturday night. For a moment a part of my brain was concerned that my daughter may have been possessed by the devil, but that quickly passed.

Got some new picts!

From Eric 'n Erin's Baby Blog


From Eric 'n Erin's Baby Blog


From Eric 'n Erin's Baby Blog


From Eric 'n Erin's Baby Blog


From Eric 'n Erin's Baby Blog


From Eric 'n Erin's Baby Blog

January 24th, 2009

Even though I know Erin isn't looking forward to moving again, especially into another rented unit, I think we're both in agreement that our current living conditions aren't in the best interest of a child. The park across the street will be nice in a few years, but that's still a few years from now.

My biggest concerns are with the noise from upstairs, it's constant with 4 people living above us, none of whom seem to have jobs. With the addition of a treadmill (not a stair-climber, stationary bike, or rowing machine, no a "walking, running, stomping" treadmill) to the upstairs apartment, the regular banging, thumping, stomping, running, and dropping of items onto the floor has take a fresh new turn and caused not just the ceiling and windows to vibrate every few hours, but the floor and furniture as well. This may have been acceptable living conditions for college students, a new couple just starting out, or someone who wasn't paying nearly as much for the privilege of having an apartment in Bangor, but I can't at the very least justify the overwhelming expense of an apartment with this kind of hassle to my family - especially Nora.

We've already asked the landlords, don't bother mentioning it. They said there's nothing they can do other than request that they keep the treadmill usage to certain times of day. Which they haven't been doing very well at all. Keep in mind though that these are the same landlords who didn't say or do a thing when other former-neighbors installed a very large, multicolored dildo on the front lawn for over a week. I appreciate that we have nice, considerate landlords that aren't jerks, but sometimes I long for the potentially abusive "take no prisoners" approach that seems endemic amongst the rest of the species.

Furthermore, it's an old building, and lead paint is everywhere. It's not so bad in our bedroom, it's just about non existent in the nursery (was previously another child's room), but over time it's going to become an increasing headache as Nora begins to explore more of her environment. The sooner we get this taken care of, the better.

What I'm basically asking for at this time is for our circle of friends in the Bucksport area especially to keep an eye out for rentals - preferably homes, mobile homes, and other single unit rentals - in that area, or any area between Bangor and Bucksport. I'm planning on using our tax rebate and security deposit refund to fund new housing options, preferably outside of Bangor-proper. It's a nice town, but I'm beginning to look at it as a place you come to for shopping, work, and entertainment, but not so much raising a family and keeping your sanity.

Oh, and the current apartment doesn't have a bathtub, just a shower. No tubbie time unless it's in the sink, which you can only do for so-long.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nora's Journal

I just had what I think is a great idea.

A few weeks before Nora was born, I purchased a little notebook (something like this) that I was going to write things in on important dates, and give to her some number of years later, like on her wedding day, or graduation, or something. I think what's going to end up happening though is that I'll end up with a steamer trunk full of notebooks if I wrote as often in it as I do online.

But the idea I just had was that maybe I'd past the notebook around the family and friends, they could leave little messages for her in their own handwriting. It could be a short story, maybe a long narrative about the importance of family, maybe just a little history about the families and the people that are no longer with us.

So, if you like the idea, start thinking about what you would like to write about. No hurry, I figure you've got a good dozen years or so before she reads it!

Also, our friend Joe recommended that when I'm finally "done" with the blog, to print it out, and save a copy. What I'd like to do is save it as a .pdf and upload it to Cafepress.com where it can be perfect bound (like a hard-cover). Corny, unnecessary? Maybe. I think it would be cute though.

January 21st, 2009

Nora's gained weight again, she's over 6 lbs but still pretty short. My brother is coming up with one of his preemie car seats sometime on Thursday. Thank you Mike and Alicia!

She's eating more and staying awake longer, I saw her keep her eyes open longer today than I think I ever had. I'm told that she drank a lot more this morning than she had been, she also took to breast and a bottle after that, so all of a sudden she's taking more of her nourishment on her own instead of through a tube, and that's a huge step toward getting her home.

I moved the bedroom furniture around so that the Pack n' Play can be closer to Erin's side of the bed, it seems to open up the room a lot more too for some reason. Too much so actually, we need to find wall decoration for our bedroom now. I've also double-sealed the windows in the bedroom, and plan to repeat this in the nursery soon. The window panes themselves have been sealed with a caulk-like substance that comes in a roll, last night though I added to that by putting plastic over the windows. They're old windows, and kind of drafty. But they're ok now!

We received the LL Bean diaper bag in the mail (thank you again Tina), and expect yet more gifts from Erin's friends and colleagues in Bucksport.

Seriously, you guys are nuts, and we love you all.

On another note, I'm posting this for Erin and her sisters. Apparently Firefox's dictionary doesn't recognize the possessive "Erin's", but does recognize something else:


Monday, January 19, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

January 18th, 2009

I went over to the hospital yesterday after I woke-up, to visit Nora and Erin. Nora's gained more weight, and yesterday was up to 5 lbs 9 oz! Today when I called over, Nora had gained even more.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Links

I found links to the book that we got from Lee, written and signed by one of her relatives:

http://www.lulu.com/content/1873161
http://www.finneganshollow.com/main.swf
http://paulsboard.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html

Also, these were a couple things I was looking at:

http://www.sciencentral.com/video/2008/10/28/baby-scent-and-dads/
http://www.usatoday.com/community/chat_03/2003-06-12-ludington.htm

Gifts

We've gotten so many gifts from so many people, and we'd like to thank them all. To be honest though, I don't think that either of us would know where to start! If you haven't received a "thank you" from us, it's just that we've been busy, or things have gotten put away before we could acknowledge our appreciation.

We'll have time to work on it soon enough, but in the meantime I want to thank everyone, you've all done more than could have ever been expected. It's a good feeling to know that our new family has so many caring friends and family. Thank you.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Paul Reiser Quote

I'm posting this especially for Grammy Tina, enjoy!

"People often ask me, 'What's the difference between couplehood and babyhood?' In a word? Moisture. Everything in my life is now more moist. Between your spittle, your diapers, your spit-up and drool, you got your baby food, your wipes, your formula, your leaky bottles, sweaty baby backs, and numerous other untraceable sources--all creating an ever-present moistness in my life, which heretofore was mainly dry. " Paul Reiser

Sorry, had to do it.

Crib Recall

Nora's Great-Grammy Terri called to tell me that the crib she purchased for us was recalled; she forwarded me the email. Apparently the metal brackets that hold up the mattress aren't sufficient in all cases.

She was worried that we'd have to break-down the crib and return the whole thing, plus the shipping she spent on it was insanely expensive; if I had to return the whole thing, I would have raised a stink until we got that back too. But it looks as if you can call the manufacturer to get new metal brackets that must be more robust than the originals. That's good, I'd rather not go through the process of a complete return and purchase of another one.

The website even gives us an email address to do so. "

Order Replacement Brackets

To order the replacement brackets please send an e-mail to recalls@storkcraft.com and indicate your name, surname, shipping address, crib purchase date, country of manufacture and model number."

The funny part: the company's website, explaining the recall. Read between the lines and you get this: "there's nothing wrong with the brackets, they're many times stronger than they should be. If you assemble the crib wrong, there still shouldn't be an issue. If you purposefully bend and nearly break the brackets, you still shouldn't have a problem. But we're issuing a recall anyway so that we're not blamed for an accident caused by the fraction of one percent of owners that are complete dumbasses and might do something even dumber than that." It wouldn't surprise me if the next set of instructions that comes with the cribs goes "if you cannot assemble the crib without bending, breaking, or otherwise forcing pieces to fit when it appears that they should not, please stop construction on the crib immediately and ask for help by someone who isn't a complete retard."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

January 15th, 2009

No big updates, Nora is still not off the feeding tube, but has been drinking more on her own. She's been most active in the mornings; yesterday she drank two full bottles (one at each of two feedings) but then crapped-out for the rest of the day. She didn't drink as much today, but still more than her average over the last week.

She's got a bit of a bump on the back of her head. Not quite sure what it is, a few people have looked at it and declared that it's probably nothing. One of their leading pediatric surgeons took a look at it and said the same thing, but they're still putting ointment on it to keep it from getting infected, just in case. More than likely, it will go away on it's own.

I'd like to remind everyone that just because I don't update, there's nothing wrong. I'll let you know if something happens.

Monday, January 12, 2009

January 12th, 2009

Nora is out of the isolette and into a bassinet. Yay! Her temperature is good, she's still gaining weight. She's a little short (see: parents) so we'll probably have to borrow one of Mike and Alicia's preemie carseats for a few weeks; I took the carseat we have in to have it test fit, and it's just a little big yet.

No timeframe yet on when she'll be ready to come home, she's still not eating all her meals from a bottle or breast, and that's a requirement - quite possibly the last - keeping her in the hospital. She's not taking one whole feeding yet herself, and that one is pretty much tiring her out for the rest of the day, so that the rest of the feedings are all through the tube. But, she's showing progress, each day there's a little more.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

January 11th, 2009

Nora has gained weight again for the third day in a row. She had a pretty tiring day today, so by the time I got over to the hospital, she was exhausted and all tuckered out. Erin said that Nora had a bad sensor at one point, and the machine went off saying her heart stopped, but after a replacement was put-on, that went away. It scared Erin for a while though, and Nora was alarmed by the commotion as well. Plus, she needed a bath today because of an "accident" in her isolette, so that didn't make her happy either. Lee and Patty came up to visit as well, which is good because they got a chance to hold her, so by the time I came over Nora had had a full day, and I just let her sleep.

She also has a case of diaper rash which isn't pretty, and they're treating that.

I got some pictures from yesterday though.




Friday, January 9, 2009

January 9th, 2009

Good news!! Erin called me from the hospital a little while ago - the nurses took the bilirubin lights out of Nora's room, apparently her levels are lowering quickly enough on their own so that she doesn't need them. Also: Nora has gained as much weight in the last day, as she lost the previous two days! Woo!!!

Here are some pictures from Tina, holding Nora:







YouTube friend invites have been sent out to four people (Tina, my mom Cathy, Aunt Paula, Holly); after they're returned, I can then add permission for them to view videos.

Right now I just have one short clip of Nora (31 seconds), but she cries a little and so you can hear her at least.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

January 8th, 2009 p.2



I found Huggies Preemies!! WOO!! Target has their diapers arranged chronologically, and the premies were way over to one side, easy to miss as they didn't take up much room. But I got 'em! Go me, go me, go me.

Earlier this afternoon, I went over to see Nora and Erin. They're doing well. Nora was still out from under the billi-lights, and if she can drop her bili level on her own, they may transfer her to a crib sometime soon. Yay!!!

The nurse also spoke to us of the "car-seat challenge" which has a ridiculous name, and with which I have issues after reading the literature on the subject online.

The challenge is basically done before discharge to judge the risk to the baby from the very act of traveling in a car seat. They also want to look at the car seat to make sure it's safe and approved.

Medscape.com: "The authors conclude that all VLBW infants are at risk of apnea, bradycardia, or desaturation at discharge regardless of carrying device. The authors also note that brief periods of observation in such devices may not uncover significant events since the time to first event in this study was almost 1 hour (54 or 55 minutes, depending on device)."

What this means is that no incidents were noted for less than one hour in the car seat. So should a child not be discharged if "something" happens after 90 minutes during the test, if the parents live only 10 minutes away? And do you really want to "wait" until something happens, like the child stops breathing, before taking them out? Furthermore, "Twenty-eight percent of the infants had at least 1 event during testing, with 9.2% having an event only in the car seat." Therefore 72% didn't have any problems, even though the tests ran for two hours.

This is the kind of car-bed that the above study was talking about. If a baby can't be discharged in a seat, they're discharged in a bed. But the bed has, according to that study, an either increased or statistically insignificant difference (depending on what part you're reading) in chances of incident, over the seat. So what's the point of the bed?

Further, there are other studies that question the very validity of the challenge itself: "There is no evidence that undertaking a pre-discharge "car seat challenge" benefits preterm infants.

The "car seat challenge" assesses whether preterm infants who are ready for discharge home are prone to episodes of apnoea (stopping breathing), bradycardia (slow heart rate), or desaturation (low oxygen levels) when seated in their car seat. However, it is not clear whether the level of oxygen desaturation, apnoea, or bradycardia detected in the car seat challenge is actually harmful for preterm infants. Additionally there is concern that the use of the car seat challenge may cause undue parental anxiety about the safety of transporting their infant in a car seat. Despite these uncertainties, and despite the widespread use of the test, we have not identified any randomised controlled trials that assessed whether undertaking a car seat challenge is beneficial or harmful to preterm infants.....

....It is unclear whether undertaking a pre-discharge car seat challenge is beneficial or harmful to preterm infants. Further studies are needed to determine whether the car seat challenge accurately predicts the risk of clinically significant adverse events in preterm infants traveling in car seats. If this is shown to be the case then a large randomized controlled trial is needed to provide an unbiased assessment of its utility in pre-discharge assessment. " - nichd.nih.gov

Here's a website discussing what parents need to look for in purchasing a car seat for babies under 5 lbs. Unfortunately Nora dropped below that level a few days ago, so it's possible she may not be able to ride home in the car seat she currently has. I'm going to contact my sister in law Alicia to see if she still has the ones from when she brought the twins home.

In any case, I'm going to find out for how long they plan on doing their "test", and ensure that it's not significantly longer than the amount of time she'd ever be in a car seat, there's no sense in subjecting her to unnecessary tests or risks, when there's not even any conclusive proof that it's warranted and beneficial.

January 8th, 2009

Erin told me last night that Nora's bilirubin is down to where they're trying to leave her without the lights; if it goes back up, they'll put them back on, but it meant that yesterday Erin was able to hold Nora for as long as she wanted without worry that she had to go back into the isolette. Which made Erin very happy.

Erin's picking-up the new breastpump today, so hopefully the next time we head over, we can return the rental.

Things seem to be progressing well, hopefully Nora will be home soon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January 6th, 2009

Nora will be one-week old tomorrow morning. She's doing alright, her temperature is normal and she's eating. Her bilirubin decreased again, which is very good, they've even taken the bili-blanket out from under her, so she's just using the overhead lights now.

She lost a little more weight, but I'm assured...again...that it's normal, 10-15% weight loss in the first week or two is considered acceptable and normal.

Her stool is coming out green, there may be an issue with just what she's eating, but again it's not abnormal unless it's happening over a long period of time.

Resources: One, Two, Three, Four.

I remembered the camera tonight, and got some video that I'll post in a few minutes. Tina came up again today, saw Nora, made us dinner (thank you). Then Erin and I went over again later to help with bath-time.



For permission to view the video, send me an email. I may be taking the blog private in a few days for security purposes, especially as we get closer to bringing her home, but can invite people to log-in to view it.


Monday, January 5, 2009

January 5th, 2009 p.2

From Tina:





I haven't been over yet today, but Erin is very happy with Ms. Nora's progress:

Bilirubin levels are down! WOOO! Her eyes were open, she was alert and awake for the longest time yet. Best of all: while Nora was lying on Erin's chest, she actually lifted her own head up for a good 10 seconds. Surprised Erin that she could even do that.

She also took to breast today, even seemed eager to do so according to Erin, but very disappointed that the flow wasn't as fast as a bottle. Another sign of her impatience apparently; she cried shortly after starting to suckle. Erin also says that Nora is eating more - her quantities are way-up, she's being fed with both a bottle and through a tube, and taking everything they're giving her.

I'm going to take some picts of the nursery soon, so that Aunt Emily and the rest of the family that may not be able to visit right-away also have the opportunity to "awwwww...." like the rest of us. It's cute.

Addendum: here they are!



Obligatory "cat in the nursery" picture:



It's like she knew what I was doing, and had to get in on it.

January 5th, 2009

Erin went over to the hospital tonight, I stayed behind to get ready for work. I'm here all night (I'm writing from the business center), and needed a nap and some rest. Plus, I figured that while Nora and Erin might appreciate some time together, all I'd accomplish would be a distraction from her healing process and sleep. I'll visit, just maybe not as often as Erin may. Plus, I worry that I may be coming down with a cold, or that I may be allergic to something in the NICU and really want to sneeze after a few minutes of being in there, which would not be a good thing - I don't need to end up on a blacklist of people forbidden from visiting, for fear that I'm sick. Of course, if I am sick, it's just as well I'm not there as often.

Nora's still not out of the NICU, they're still working on getting her bilirubin levels down, and getting her weight up. The former didn't increase today, but didn't decrease. Her weight is slightly down, but again that's still normal. She's pooping more often, a good sign, and the composition is changing which is also good - it's starting to look more "normal" instead of what it looks like directly after birth. This should help the body start to dispose of bilirubin and other wastes in her bloodstream, since now they shouldn't be reabsorbed by the intestines.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

January 4th, 2009

Nora might be moved as early as tomorrow to a less-intensive care facility upstairs of the NICU, a "Continuing Care Unit" or CCU. Each baby has it's own small room, each of which is monitored from desks outside it's private room. They have windows and doors, so while it's more private for both baby and parents, it's still well monitored for the baby's safety. We were even a tour early, and learned that there are even monitors in the staff break room. Plus, there seems to be more room for parents who wish to stay a little longer. There's a recliner in each room, and a phone too. This is good, because I often felt in the way at the NICU, which can get pretty crowded if there are a few babies and their families, in addition to the nurses who need to get personally involved every few minutes to take care of the minor emergencies that seem to crop-up every few minutes.

Stephen King apparently helped fund construction of it, which is really cool. It looks very nice, it's more pediatric in nature, less clinical. Interesting colors, textures, wall treatments, I really like it. Erin will have a little more privacy breast feeding, but most importantly they wouldn't move Nora upstairs if she wasn't showing progress. They rather have babies up there than in the NICU, but only once they're past the critical stage of their development. So that's good!

Nora stopped losing weight, or at least maintained her weight over the course of the day. Sometimes I guess it takes 2 weeks for a baby to return to their birth weight, they spend a lot of energy keeping warm and growing as their bodies adapt to life outside the womb. Plus, she's been pooping more, which is a very good sign, as this means her digestive system is working, and that now she can more quickly get rid of the bilirubin built-up in her system.

In other news, I wanted to discuss the food at EMMC. It's AWESOME. OMG. Yesterday I had peas, fried potato slices (forget the fancy word they called them), and the best, huge slice of Halibut I've ever had in my life. It was SO GOOD. Room service for Erin? Yea, she calls down, there's a menu, she choose what she wanted to eat.

I've developed a yen for their cheeseburgers. They taste like "institutional beef", the kind you got in high school. Love it - love it - and I don't know why. I can't replicate the flavor, I don't know what it is, but it's so good. I'm glad that the grill was closed yesterday though, or I wouldn't have had the halibut. Got in a conversation with someone on staff - they ran out of halibut, so a line of us who wanted the fish had to wait a few minutes. I turned to the guy behind me and said "I don't eat enough fish, so if it's offered to me and someone else is cooking, I'm eating it." He laughed, and said "yea, that's pretty much my plan too." Oh! It came with a special parmesan sauce which just made it even better. Details like taste and appearance, in hospital food? Waaa? Good stuff.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

January 3rd, 2009 p. 2

I received some updates from Erin when she called over to the hospital to check-up on Nora.

She's eating more, up to a full ounce now. Her bilirubin levels have actually increased though, so she's starting a second light treatment to get more of her surface area covered with lights. Again, this apparently isn't unusual, and they think that sometime today should be the peak of her bilirubin problem. Up until birth, excess bilirubin is flushed out via the umbilical cord; after birth, the liver takes over, but it may take a few days, even in a term infant. In preemies, it occurs about 80% of the time.

Nora is a Capricorn, in the Year of the Rat. A Rat-Goat to daddy's Tiger-Crab and mommy's Rooster-Virgin (heh...).

Addendum: I've held and fed Nora yesterday; I even burped her, which was impressive 'cause they had me use a technique I wasn't sure of and scared me a little - having Nora sit-up with my hand holding her head by the face with one hand and burping with the other. Felt weird, but it worked.

Nora's bilirubin levels are at 15, they won't let it get much higher than that, and it's not considered dangerous until they're over 25 (mg/dl). The levels may have increased because she hasn't had many bowel movements, so they've begun giving her a suppository when necessary. If the bilirubin collects in the bowels too long before it can be disposed of, it can be reabsorbed back into the bloodstream.

"DrGreene.org:" "The presence of enough bilirubin for the yellow pigment to be visible is called jaundice. Jaundice occurs in about 60% of healthy term infants and 80% of those born early." "The most common type of jaundice is called physiologic jaundice, the normal increased bilirubin in babies whose livers can't quite keep up with a slightly increased load of red blood cells. This jaundice usually becomes visible on day 2 or 3 and peaks somewhere between days 2 and 4 as the liver gains control of the situation. The bilirubin levels usually fall substantially by day 7."

I went back to the hospital this afternoon with Erin and Tina to look into Nora. She's on a tube for feeding, but only because she's so tired she isn't finishing the food she's given before falling asleep. That's alright, as long as she's getting fed, and the quantities she's taking are larger, which shows growth and improvement.

We rented an electric breast pump from the pharmacy for the week, there's some delay between the insurance company (of course) and the medical supply company. You can probably guess where the delay is: is it with the company that wants to get paid, or the greedy bastards that are trying to delay payment to save themselves a few bucks? You decide. Anyway, it's going to be worth it for Erin; the manual pump was ok overnight, but she has to go through the process every couple hours, and that's just gotta be torture after a few days.

First Pictures!

I got these from Tina (thank you!)







January 3rd, 2009

I stayed home from work tonight to stay with Erin, she's having some difficulty with the separation from Nora, and things are just a little difficult for her tonight. She said it would make her feel better if I was home, even if she was asleep for most of it, so that was good enough for me.

Part of me feels bad that I'm not as upset as she is, like I'm too easily relying upon what I know is true and not necessarily what I feel. I know that Nora is in a safe, nurturing environment, so I don't worry about her. The nurses are great. I know that there really isn't anything more I can do but to be with her when I can, so I try not to worry when I'm not with her. I told Erin that maybe it's just the male of the species trying to continue to provide for the family while mom is nurturing the baby. Maybe it's just that I didn't carry Nora for the last 7 months inside me, feeling her kicking and moving around, sleeping with her and eating for her day after day. Plus - hormones, of course.

But another part of me is just too happy to be too worried, which kind of has me worried, because that's just weird for me personally. Usually it's the other way around. Nora is doing well, she's getting stronger, opening her eyes, being cranky when she has to be and lovingly peaceful when she's content and comfortable. We have a daughter, and she is doing fine. She's a little premature, but that's not uncommon, and much smaller babies have grown up perfectly happy and healthy.

Besides, I know there are forces at work in this male of the species at well. Papa-Bear wanted to poke his head out and roar on a couple occasions. When Nora starts to cry for instance...well, Erin's natural instinct is nurturing. Mine, and I'm guessing this is a male thing, is just as primal, but focused in other areas.When I'm with her, I can't stand to see her upset or hurt, and I nearly wanted to growl at a couple nurses because of the way I perceived them treating her. I had to keep reminding myself that they know what they're doing, and certainly know more about it than I do.

Friday, January 2, 2009

January 2nd, 2009

Erin's home! She's doing well, so is Nora. I held and fed her this afternoon. She's a bit jaundiced, they have her under lights that's supposed to break-up the billirubin so that it's processed easier by her undeveloped liver. Otherwise she seems good. She's drinking all the breast milk and formula she's getting, and they're increasing the amount every-other feeding, so hopefully she'll start gaining weight soon. She's lost a little weight the last couple days, but that's apparently not unusual as the baby has to learn to feed and it is a process that takes time. She's breathing completely on her own now, and is fussy at the times she's supposed to be fussy, cranky when she should be cranky, but otherwise sleeps pretty much as long as anyone will let her.

The nursery is all setup, and a bureau that Tina, Ricia, and Erin's friend Amy brought over is all assembled in a corner, so thank you ladies.

Not sure if I mentioned this, but Erin's insurance will cover most of the cost of a breast pump, which we weren't counting on originally; hopefully we should have it sometime tomorrow once the paperwork has cleared all the proper channels. In the meantime we have a manual pump that the hospital gave us, which is good enough for the night. In the morning, Erin will head-over with a supply of milk for Nora, and spend some time with her.

I hope everyone will forgive me for asking, but I'm hoping that starting next week, all non-emergency phone calls to the apartment can be scheduled for sometime after-noon. I'm going to try and get in as many hours as possible at the hotel before we bring Nora home, which will mean that I'll be heading to bed after 7 a.m.

The last few days have been interesting. Lots of trials, interspersed with humor. For instance: it was my turn to be happy that the other had a successful, pain free bowel movement while at the hospital. Yay! Further along those lines, I discovered that Ricia and I are bowel buddies, each having had surgery on our intestines. Speaking of Ricia, she's a big perv, and we kept each other entertained with bad innuendos revolving around the various projects under construction in the apartment.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Poem for Nora

In my daughter's eyes
a thousand promises
boundless joy
limitless heartbreak.

In my daughter's cries
a world anew
a universe of wonder
humor and pain.

In my daughter,
myself, my wife
our life, our love
our best, forever

In my daughter,
the best of our family
staring back at me
and smiling.

New Year's Day, 2009

Erin got to hold Nora today in the NICU. Tina said that it was very sweet, baby and mom looked very serene and happy. I checked in on her later, but Nora wasn't in a mood and started screaming and crying. That's ok, at least it's a good sign. Crying, upset baby is an active, alert, healthy baby. So I let her go back to sleep, she can bond with me later when she's more receptive to it anyway.

Nora didn't need the special medication for her lungs either, in fact they took her off the machine that provided extra assistance with breathing, a definite show of improvement. She's a strong baby, but I knew she would be. She comes from strong, stubborn parents.

Erin's also doing very well; exhausted but very good. She had some minor tearing during labor, not sure if I mentioned that, but it doesn't require stitches, which I consider pretty impressive. She's happy, I'm happy, and Nora seems to be in pretty good shape for a premie. 2009 is looking to be a good year.

I want to thank everyone for their help over the last few months. Your gifts are truly appreciated by both Erin and I. I'd also like to thank Tina and Ricia for coming over yesterday afternoon and cleaning the house, they did a fantastic job in the nursery, bedroom, and kitchen, I'm glad to have had their help. I'd also like to thank the staff of the Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden for their gift bag and flowers that were delivered to Erin yesterday. It's something that they didn't have to do, but did anyway, and so means much more to me than they even probably realize. Thank you.

Now, I think I'm going to get some sleep. Goodnight, and Happy New Year.

- Daddy Eric, 2009



PS - The nurses and doctors all did a fantastic job, but I did want to thank God as well. I didn't pray as hard this time as I did with the twins, but that's only because things have been better between Us since then, and so I think I had a lot more faith than I used to. Thank you for protecting my wife and daughter, and making the experience much more spiritual than I would have ever expected it to be.