Friday, February 22, 2019

Magnolia's 1st Month

Maggie's first month was a pretty unique one for us since she had to spend most of it in the hospital.  Thankfully, she came home just before she was four weeks old.  The hospital environment is not well-suited for decent picture taking.  During her hospital stay, we spent most of that time getting her on the hospital's required feeding schedule of full bottle feedings every three hours or eight times a day.  It is a pretty strict schedule, but she actually took well to it once I could stay with her and handle all of her feedings.  She was taking up to 50 ml or almost 2 ounces each feeding by the time she was discharged.  She was also gaining weight very well each day.   We do have to use a bottle for all her feedings because she cannot latch and suck strongly enough to nurse because of a cleft in the back of her palate.  We are very thankful this seems to be the only major issue she has although we are still waiting for additional hearing screenings to see if she may have inherited Daddy's genetic hearing issue like big brother Mattox.  We are going to be getting an ABR performed now that she has been discharged as her ENT does not think it will be beneficial to try another hearing screening since she will likely fail because of fluid in her ear.  Babies with cleft palates are very prone to getting fluid in their ears so we may need to get tubes down the road.  Maggie's hospital stay did not help us get her on a good sleep routine although she generally slept most of the time between feedings anyway since she was a preemie who still needed to conserve all her energy for growing.  I have been primarily pumping since Maggie was born, and the hospital was good about using my breast milk to feed her.  We will continue pumping and expressing breast milk as long as we can.  We use a special Dr. Brown's bottle that allows her to get the milk out with less suction and mostly just compressing the nipple.  She eats well and does not spit up much .   Despite the difficulties of commuting back and forth to the hospital and being away from my other kids so much, Maggie has been a really good baby, and we look forward to being home and just being a whole family again.   At her one month check up which was just a few days after we left the hospital, she weighed 6 lbs. 12 oz. which was approximately a pound more than she weighed at birth.    She measured 20 inches which was 2 inches more than her birth measurement.  The pictures from this month mostly tell the story of our too long stay at the hospital, but we did get a happy ending just in time for Valentine's Day.  

By five days after birth, Maggie was not on any medical assistance except a feeding tube.  She was off of oxygen, in a regular bed with no heater, and was not receiving treatment for jaundice.  She was not taking any medications or fluid so she did not have an IV either.  

We celebrated with getting all dressed up and taking selfies with Mommy. 

At one week old, we started using a bottle for feeding, and she took to it right away although she would work on staying awake to take her full feeding for a while. 

They switched the feeding tube to her nose to make her bottle feeding easier.  I hated that tape constantly stuck to her little face.  She would pull out or sneeze out the tube frequently because she didn't like it. .

Looking almost exactly like big brother Mattox at one week old. 

Just modeling some hats and showing off her belly button. 
She loved being all wrapped up like a burrito. 

Mommy insisted that she needed to wear her pretty clothes already. 

Daddy and Mommy fight over whose girl she is. 

Grandma finally got to hold her. 

Yep, she is so cute! 

She and Mommy had some fun with selfies.  

She was so wide awake, and her eyes were big and bright.  She makes the cutest little bunny, of course.  
Our little diva is 2 weeks old. 

Kind of giving us a little smile. 

3 weeks old, and she surprised Mommy wearing a little bunny outfit that the nurses dressed her in.  It was a preemie outfit so she wouldn't need to wear that one very much. 

Mommy's pretty little girl.  Mommy wanted to get her home so she could take some decent pictures of her. 

Mommy put out some welcome home decorations for her.  

Finally home at 4 weeks old so Mommy could take some decent shots of her in her special outfit. 
Our beautiful Magnolia. 

We finally got to give her a real bath at home.  Our babies love this little tub with its special sling for newborns.  They get all the support they need and can enjoy the warm water safely and easily. 

They don't love getting out of the tub, but they like being wrapped in their warm towel. 

Wearing her princess gown. 

Home just in time to celebrate her first Valentine's Day at exactly one month old.  

She may not have arrived on Valentine's, but she will always be our little Valentine. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Maggie's Scary Birth Story

Whew, what a day!  Miss Maggie definitely took us all by surprise when she decided to arrive about 5 weeks early.  It began as a normal day with a routine prenatal appointment at my high risk OB office for a BPP (biophysical profile) ultrasound where I was being monitored regularly for a couple of issues.  Namely, I had polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid), an usual shaped placenta that was curved inward on the ends instead of being more flattened against the uterine wall, and slightly enlarged right and left ventricles in the baby's brain.  I had been cleared of not having gestational diabetes and had not been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia despite having higher than usual blood pressure at my regular OB checks that did go down with rest.  We weren't too concerned with these issues because none of them appeared to be changing for the worse and remained stable.  The main concern with the placenta might be that baby would not get as much nourishment from it in late pregnancy, but she was growing very well and measuring ahead of schedule at every visit. 

On Monday morning of January 14th, I prepared to drive myself into Savannah about 30 miles from home while Eddie stayed at home with the kids because little ones are not allowed at that office.  I arrived early and prepared for the usual long wait that always happens at this office.  I did not feel any different than usual as I laid down on the exam bed for the ultrasound.  It is always a joy to see a healthy baby and heartbeat on the ultrasound.  The only additional concern the ultrasound tech noticed was that my cervix appeared dilated (definitely not normal for me to dilate early) and baby needed some stimulation to make the required movements to pass the test.  She informed the doctor on duty who agreed I should go on the NST monitors for a bit just to see if I was having contractions.  He did not come to examine me personally, and I was not examined physically.  I laid in the recliner for the NST and just felt a couple of the usual Braxton Hicks type of contractions that I do often feel in that position lying on my back.  The nurse again alerted the doctor, and he didn't think it was cause for concern and allowed me to go home.  I walked out to the car with no trouble except my usual tiredness from being so large. 

As I began the drive home, I soon became aware that I was feeling some contraction-like pain in my lower abdomen and back.  At first I thought it was still Braxton Hicks although those usually do not happen when I am not lying down.  After two or three of these contractions happened, I became more concerned and counted a total of five or six on my short 30 minute drive back to Richmond Hill.  Thankfully, Eddie and the kids were meeting me in town instead of going all the way home.  I decided to call my doctor's office to see if I could get checked there, but I discovered my doctor was already on call at the hospital so Eddie planned to drive me back there.  We had met for a quick lunch at Wendy's before Eddie was going to go to work.  I attempted to eat a little something but was monitoring contractions less than five minutes apart now and growing more concerned with their intensity.  Then, I stood up to catch Grayson who had tried to run off and felt wet suddenly.  I immediately went to the bathroom to check thinking my membranes had ruptured and was alarmed to discover heavy bleeding instead of just fluid.  I screamed for Eddie as the bathroom was empty and told him to call 911 immediately.  I got myself to the bench in the restaurant and laid down to wait for the ambulance.  A sweet lady patron of the restaurant came to sit by me to try to keep me calm through the pain and fear while Eddie kept an eye on our two little boys.  I know they will never understand (and likely not even remember) this day in their lives which is a blessing.  I didn't want to scare them.  The EMT arrived and helped me get onto a stretcher and into the ambulance as quickly as possible.  I was very uncomfortable and feeling a crazy amount of pressure in my lower abdomen and back while still feeling the bleeding.  I think the high level of amniotic fluid had always made me feel more uncomfortable this pregnancy and added to the intensity of the contractions.  The ride to the hospital was the scariest, longest, and most uncomfortable.  I felt every bump as I held on through the pain and tried to remain calm despite my worst fears of another tragic ending.  I immediately diagnosed myself with a placental abruption and was terrified of the result.  There was no way to check on the baby during the ambulance ride.  As I was still bleeding, the ambulance driver used the lights and siren and drove as quickly as he could the 30 plus miles to the hospital.  Finally, I recognized the hospital out of the back window of the ambulance and hoped to soon get some news about the baby.  They wheeled my stretcher through the ER and to the staff elevators to go up to the labor and delivery floor where I was taken into a triage room to be hooked to monitors and determine the prognosis of myself and the baby.  The pain had not subsided at all and was even more intense. 

Finally, I got the wonderful news that the baby's heartbeat was as fast and strong as ever.  I was then prepared to be transferred to a regular labor and delivery room and had to change beds for a third time to a delivery bed.  Each bed change was extremely painful at this point.  Finally, my doctor arrived (which was probably less than 10 minutes after my arrival but felt like an eternity) and assessed that I looked to be 10 cm dilated already.  I was prepared to begin the birth process and was terrified of having to deliver in the extreme pain I was in.  The doctor proceeded to break my amniotic sac and as the fluid gushed out, I felt immediate and drastic relief from the intense pressure and discomfort I had been feeling.  I breathed easily for the first time, and the doctor could then assess that I was not quite fully dilated yet.  He ordered the anesthesiologist to administer an epidural so that I could have some relief from the intense contractions as we waited for full dilation. 

At this point, my husband had still not arrived as he had to drop our kids off somewhere before he could get to the hospital.  I had no way of contacting him because he had my purse and cell phone.  He had driven to our church where our pastor and a dear friend who runs the new preschool were there to take the boys.  Our pastor followed Eddie back to the hospital where they were made to wait an unnecessarily long time in the ER with no answers about my status.  They were finally brought up to labor and delivery, and Eddie arrived in my room after I had received the epidural and was resting.  All of this had occurred after 12:00 noon.  Around 4:00 p.m., I began to feel the increased pressure and need to push so the doctor came back to check me.  I was now fully dilated.  I barely had to push twice, and our baby girl was out.  Since she was so early, the pediatric and neonatal intensive care doctors were already in the room to take her and assess her condition.  I barely got a glimpse of her as they surrounded her to run tests and assessments.  She cried out which was a relief, but they still felt she needed oxygen and special care in NICU.  I would have to wait a couple of hours to get a better look at her because I needed to recover from the delivery and epidural.  Eddie followed her to the NICU to get an idea of her prognosis.  When I finally got to see her, she was already in the incubator bed under the heater, hooked to oxygen, and getting fluids through an IV in her little arm.  She looked so small and fragile lying there, and I ached to be able to hold her but would have to wait until the next day.  She would also have to go under the blue light therapy for a very slight case of jaundice the next day, but by five days old, she would come off of everything except her feeding tube.  She had been assessed with a mild cleft palate that thankfully only affected the back of her palate but would prevent her from being able to get the suction necessary to breastfeed or drink from a regular bottle.  At one week old, we worked with an occupational therapist to get her to drink from a special bottle that did not require her to suck as hard to get the milk out.  She did well from the start but just had trouble staying awake for the whole feeding she needed to take.  In the three weeks that followed, we would battle constantly to get the hospital to allow us more time with her to get her fully feeding by bottle.  I begged to be able to stay overnight with her but was constantly given excuses.  The constantly changing nursing staff and inconsistency was not helping her get used to taking her bottles.  She would do well for me when I was there, but the nurses would end up feeding her mostly by the feeding tube.  They have these crazy policies for how to feed babies that just don't apply to all babies.  Maggie required a special way of being held more upright so the milk wouldn't get in the hole in her palate and into her nasal cavity and affect her breathing.  If the nurses didn't do it right and caused her to choke or lose her breath, they would have to stop and tube feed her.  It was just stressful and disappointing, and I knew that if I could handle all of her feedings, she would progress like she needed to and be able to come home.  Finally, at over three weeks old, I got her over a major hump where she had been unable to take a bottle at all for a couple of days for anyone like she had forgotten how to do it and would get very frustrated.  I got her back on track and refused to leave her again.  We got her moved into a room in Intermediate Special Care Nursery where I could stay with her.  I spent night and day with her from Wednesday through Sunday, and we finally progressed to taking all the bottles and removing the feeding tube.  The hospital policy requires babies to do this for 48 hours before discharge so by Sunday night, we knew we should be released.  We didn't hear anything at all Sunday from the physician so I contacted him.  He called me while I was getting something to eat for lunch.  After he tried giving me more excuses why we couldn't go home, Eddie talked to him.  They were trying to say that she couldn't go home without an apnea monitor which no one had even ordered.  The previous physician had wanted her to have one because he thought she may sleep better on her stomach.  She tends to snore because of her palate issue.  Finally, this physician agreed to get the apnea monitor ordered.  Surprise, the company could deliver that day.   They got the other tests and things ordered so that she could be discharged, and we prepared for her 90 minute car seat test to make sure she could sit in it without having any apnea episodes.  She passed with flying colors so we finally were on the way home after 10:00 that night.  I didn't even care that it was late.  We just wanted to get home!  She was exactly four weeks old the next day.  It had been a long month! 

I will never understand fully why my two girls had to enter the world in such dramatic ways.  One story was the saddest and one the scariest.  I am just so thankful for this and each of my little miracles.  I know God had a plan for each of them and that Mattie was watching over her sister.  I hate that Maggie will have to grow up without her sister and that she will be sad about that one day.  But she will always have a special guardian angel watching over her as well as four protective big brothers to take care of her.  I think she is a very lucky little girl.  And I am also very very thankful that Eddie's new job comes with the best health insurance this country has to offer.  Our insurance paid for ever bit of my OB and hospital care except a $175.00 co-pay.  Maggie's four week stay in the hospital cost the insurance company a whopping $81,000 of which we only had to pay $875.00.  She also had bills from countless "specialists" who followed her at the hospital, and we paid nothing for those.  I do believe that at least two of those weeks and most of the specialists were completely unnecessary and that the hospital kept her purposefully to get more money out of the insurance company.  I believe that is a huge problem in the medical industry today, but I am thankful for the life-saving OB care that we received and that my personal physician was able to deliver Maggie.  Although Maggie has some pretty mild issues to contend with, those issues will likely be resolved before she is a year old with surgery. 

Maggie's first picture and one of the only ones in the delivery room as her unexpected arrival meant we had no camera with us.  

Maggie resting in the NICU hooked to all the monitors, oxygen, and IV.  Daddy's hand showed how small she was although she definitely was not the smallest baby in the unit and looked like a normal newborn.   

Investigating the hair and thinking we have another red haired beauty finally.  Evan will be pleased. 

Thinking she looks a lot like big brother Mattox. 

The next day she tried out being a Smurf under her blue light therapy. 

I think she liked her eye mask and didn't like when it was removed.  She was just chilling and sunbathing. 

Mommy got to hold her and had to put a bow on her.  

I think her little face looked slightly swollen here either from the IV fluids or just all the tape and tubes on her face.  Her nose definitely looked swollen. 

It is actually tricky to take photos under a blue ultraviolet light, but there were a couple of days where this was the only way we saw her.  Those were tough days, and we were thankful when we arrived on Friday after her birth to see her hooked to nothing and lying in a regular bassinet.  We really thought she would be coming home soon and had no idea they would try to keep her for over three more weeks.  


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