Thursday, December 27, 2012

Coraline is 2 Weeks Old!

We made it home!

 On Monday (12/17/12), after 6 days in NICU, we finally got to take Coraline home. Her days 4-6 in the NICU were pretty uneventful, which is always a good thing.  They kept her as long as they did because of jaundice; poor baby had to get blood tests twice a day, and her levels weren't really going down.  She had to wear a UV-light "suit" for 2 days, and eventually they decided she was good enough to go home.
I was released the day before, and so I spent the night at a friend's house near the hospital and spent Monday running errands and hanging out in my car like a homeless person.

Coraline in the UV "suit" for jaundice.

My little Jaundice Astronaut

Coraline's last night in the hospital.

Coraline's first outfit... before I got to take her home!  12/17/12

All ready for her first trip in the car.

About to leave the NICU and head home!   12/17/12

Yay!  She finally made it home to her crib.

Coraline had her first pediatrician appointment 2 days after coming home, and she gained 2 oz in those 2 days (she left the hospital 6 lb, 4 oz and was up to 6 lb, 6 oz by December 19th.)  Everything about her was perfect, except her poor bum... between the antibiotics and pooping out the billirubin, she had a nasty rash that was more like road-burn!  But they gave us an rx cream and it was healed in a few days, and now her butt is as good as new.  We went for a recheck yesterday, and she had gained another 7 oz in 7 days - she's up to 6 lb, 13 ounces (1 ounce away from her birth weight) and she's 2 weeks old.  We go back when she's a month old for a well-check and shots.

So far, she is a super easy/good baby.  (Lilian was high maintenance and had colic).  She sleeps most of the time, she's a good eater, and she seems pretty comfortable/happy anywhere.  We've been home for 9 nights so far, and for at least a week she was a pretty good sleeper and slept in her crib - she wakes up every 2 hours or so at night to eat, but went back to sleep almost right after.  But the past two nights, she hasn't wanted to be put back in her crib.  She falls asleep in my arms while eating, and as SOON as I put her back, she startles, wakes up, and cries as soon as I walk away.  It's pretty frustrating, I haven't gotten much sleep the past two nights.  From 3-6am she just isn't a good sleeper.  Last night, in desperation, I just brought her bed with me around 5am, and she did sleep in my arms until 8-something in the morning, but I'm not comfortable being a full-time co-sleeper when she's this little.  (We did co-sleep with Lily, but not until she was 8 months old - you can read about co-sleeping with Lily here. )  During the day, she sleeps in 4-5 hour blocks, and is awake for 5-10 minutes at a time... and at night she sleeps in 1-2 hour blocks and doesn't want to be put down - so i'm guessing she has days/nights confused at this point, and I'm not quite sure how to change that.  But I am SUPER tired.  Yesterday AND today I couldn't get up, and wound up being 20 minutes late BOTH days for appointments - which is so unlike me, I'm never late for anything.

On diapering: we are almost through a box of newborn size diapers, and I don't really want to buy another box.  She's too small to fit into most of the cloth diapers we have, so I will probably buy some in small sizes, just still deciding what to buy, and I'm a little nervous to "pull the trigger" and spend all that money!  I know it's cheaper in the long run, but still nervous to do it.  I did pick up 2 gDiapers with a BRU coupon today in size small, which seem to be a decent fit on her.  But still deciding...

On Breastfeeding:  As it turns out, all my anxiety and fears about breastfeeding came true.  Coraline WAS whisked away to NICU, she WAS bottlefed by the nurses and I wasn't even given the chance to TRY to breastfeed her until she was 3 or 4 days old.   I started pumping the very first night, and it took 2 days for my colostrum to come in, and not until day 4 did my milk come in.  They told me in NICU that anything I could give her was good, so I pumped every 3 hours and brought my few milliliters of milk downstairs and fed it to her, before she was given formula.  They needed/wanted her to drink 35ml per feeding, and I was only pumping about 4ml in the first few days, and about 10-15ml in the next few days.  On Day 4 or 5, I tried to breastfeed (behind a curtain, in a room with a dozen people), and it was a miserable failure.  My breasts are just not designed for feeding - I have flat nipples (which I didn't know was even a "thing" until Lilian was born) - if you're not familiar, you can read about that here: and somewhat massive breasts (D/DD).  So there isn't a nice "small" nipple part to go in a baby's mouth, instead I just have to grab a pinchful of aereola/nip and stuff it in the baby's mouth... to which Coraline reacted with confusion.  She just kinda looked at me like "what are you doing and what is this?"  She is also just too small and was too weak to really suck with a mouthful of giant boob.  Maybe if we had started off that way, she would have been used to it, but after days of a standard flow bottle with a narrow nipple, it just seemed ridiculous to both of us.  So, I guess I am stuck pumping again like I did for Lily.  I really don't want to, but I also can't justify stopping just because I "don't like it", when I KNOW that my milk is best for her.  She's 2 weeks old, and I'm able to pump 25-75ml at a time now (depending on how frequently I pump).  BUT, just like 4 years ago, only one breast makes milk.  My right breast pumps about 24-73ml at a time, and my left pumps about 1-3ml at a time.  I've read and been told that everyone's are uneven, but this is more than uneven... my left doesn't make more than a few drops, while the right can fill a bottle.  Because of this, I can only really pump HALF a supply for her, same as I did for Lily.  So she is still getting formula about 40-50% of the time.  If my left matched my right, I'd be able to give her only breastmilk... but it's just impossible.  (My left is also a full cup size smaller, always has been, so I guess there is some physiological problem going on - a lack of milk ducts or something?)  So between the flat nipples and the half-supply, I just think my body isn't meant to breastfeed.  That doesn't stop me from trying once a day (usually at night in a desperate moment where she's hungry and i'm too tired to pump), but I get that same confused look from her every time, and she doesn't even suck.  Maybe when she is a little bigger/stronger?  (Lily started BF from when she was 1.5-3.5 months old.)  Or maybe never.  The difference between this time and last time though, is ... although I'm totally disappointed that it didn't work out, and I'll never know if it was even possible, had we gotten a good start from Day 1... I'm not really all that sad about it.    It's pretty much exactly what I expected and it's exactly the same as what happened with Lily.  I'm pretty good at using the pump (after 8 straight months in 2008-2009) and she's getting ALL the breastmilk I can possibly make, so I guess it's as good as we're giong to get.  Getting upset, feeling cheated, and crying about it all the time, still didn't make it POSSIBLE with Lily, so I'm just not going to bother getting emotional this time.  I know I'm doing the best I can with what I have to work with, and that's all I can do.

On a similar note - I am both surprised and thrilled to say, I DON'T have post partum depression this time around!!!  Having clinical/chronic depression most of the time anyway, PPD was nearly a given for me and I was hit with it pretty badly last time around, but this time, it seems like most of the insane-hormones have skipped over me.  I'm actually in a really good place mentally/mood-wise, and besides being super tired all the time and a little overwhelmed with housework, everything is really going well for me and I'm happy.

And the last update:  my recovery.
Truth is, it's not going so well.  I'm not a huge baby when it comes to pain, and I've had a LOT in the past 10 years, and live with chronic pain.  So by Day 7 or so after the C-section I was starting to feel pretty OK.  After I left the hospital, I was only taking Motrin and was doing everything I normally do.  But then by Day 9/10 I started having really bad pain on the left side only - a little above the scar, and it felt like a rope/wire was attaching my hip joint to my groin muscle, and every time I moved, I could feel pulling/tearing inside.  I was SO tight in my left hip, I couldn't sit/lay down/move/stand, etc.  The next day in the shower, I was washing the incision area, and I felt/found "something" inside my abdomen - a lump/mass/object.  It totally freaked me out!  It was rock hard and big - it felt like a shot glass was inside me.  Well, as the days went on, it didn't get any better/smaller and the pain just got WORSE.  So I called my OB and I had to go back in today (which is a hassle since it's 1.75 hour away).  Well, he could feel the mass and said it wasn't normal, but not dangerous either (i was worried about infection or some sort of dangerous bleed, etc.)  He says it's probably either a hematoma (there WAS an internal bleed days ago, and now it's a big collection of blood that needs to be reabsorbed), a collection of fluid, or a rapid growth of scar tissue (which is the worst case scenario, since that means it's permanent!)  He said it's too soon to tell, because fluid/blood needs time to reabsorb, so I have to go back in 10 days for a sonogram of the area to see if it's a solid mass or not.   By 15 days after the C-section, I should be feeling good, and instead I feel as painful as I did on day 3 or 4.   I've been taking a dozen ibuprofen a day, and vicodin/percoset sometimes too.  It has me moving in slow motion and being in constant pain is completely exhausting, both physically and emotionally.  He told me to "take it easy", but with 2 kids and a messy house (that's driving me nuts, with ALL the new christmas toys everywhere), it's hard.  I haven't had a relaxing day... in days.  Hopefully this weekend I can get some downtime.  But, I'm terrified that it's permanent, and it's going to be one more "pain I have to live with" or one more disfiguring oddity to my body.  And I'm also terrified that it's going to mean another surgery to remove it, because after recovering from a major surgery, I'm not too anxious to go back for more.  After all the placenta complications I had, then a baby in NICU, to have another complication seems totally unfair.  I'm just ready to have my body back and feel GOOD already.  It's been months since I've felt normal and not uncomfortable or in pain.  I'm also anxious to start a diet/exercise and lose weight, but this obviously has to wait until i'm not in pain and can move without injuring something.  (Though I'm 6 pounds BELOW my pre-pregnancy weight right now, and about 25 below the highest weight I reached during the pregnancy.)  I'm pretty disappointed that I didn't have an easy recovery like I did after Lilian's birth.

But... I do have an adorable baby and an adorable pre-schooler.  So here are some more awesome photos:

Coraline's first bath - about a week old - she hated it!

Wrapped up in a towel after her bath, much happier.

Look at the awesome reindeer hat Mary knitted for C!

A rare moment with her super-dark eyes open.  (About 9 or 10 days old).

The ornament our dear friend, Ashley, gave us.

Lilian & Coraline - sisters!!!

Coraline  12/23/12

12/23/12 - My Favorite photo so far!

(click any of these to see them larger)

Coraline on Christmas   12/25/12

My first posed photo of my TWO daughters!  Christmas Day 2012.

(A blog post with more Christmas photos to come...)
While you're here and reading - see the ads on the right and below?  Click one if it looks interesting - it helps me out!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Coraline's Birth & NICU Story (Days 1-3)

Coraline Laurel was born 12/12/12 at 10:44am.   We've had some ups and downs since then, but she's doing well now.  So here are some photos and updates on her!

Coraline's Birth Story
If you've read earlier posts, you know that I had to have an early C-section because of complete placenta previa, to prevent a placental abruption/hemorrhage if I went into labor.  So Coraline's birth was to be scheduled between 36-37 weeks.  Since 12/12/12 fell in that week and is such an awesome date, we chose that.  She was 36 weeks + 6 days (one day shy of 37 weeks) on that day.  My last ultrasound a week prior showed her at 5 lb, 13 ounces so we were expecting a reasonably small but healthy baby.  My c-section was scheduled for 2PM, but the night before i got a call saying they could give us the morning slot, and I should come at 7am instead.  The night before, I could NOT sleep, I was pacing the house with anxiety, and I think I did finally fall asleep around 2:30am, but my alarm went off at 4am.  We left the house by 4:45 and dropped Lilian off at our good friend (and Coraline's new godmother)'s house at 6am, said goodbye (which was majorly sad for me but I tried not to show it), and headed over to the hospital.

Intake was pretty routine, they did paperwork, got us into a room, put the baby on the monitor, IV in me, basic tests and blood draws, etc.  I was still an anxious wreck, because our anesthesia choices hadn't been discussed yet - I wanted general again, like I had for Lily's birth, because of my spinal injuries and because of my horrible anxiety, I didn't think I could handle staying awake for surgery, especially one bound to have complications.  I expected to have to argue with the anesthesiologist though, they prefer spinal blocks, and I did have to argue last time.  But, they agreed with my spinal damage, general was safer and fine for me to have.  So that was one big sigh of relief.  I told them about how when I woke up from having Lily, I had 0 pain killers in my system and an agonizing 15 minutes while they got a doctor to authorize the morphine, and he promised he'd get me on something before waking me up, and have a top-up ready to go in the recovery room.  He was very sympathetic and listened to my fears and assured me I'd be taken care of.  Next, my OB came, and prepped me for the possibility of a bleed out and blood transfusion, and the real possibility of a hysterectomy, depending on what they found when they got in there.  Signing a release form for that, was completely awful, and I literally begged him to do everything to save my uterus.  So I went into a surgery not knowing how long it would take, how many complications I might have, or what the outcome would be.

I went to the OR, and when you have general anesthesia, they want as little as possible to go to the baby, so they prep, drape, wash, etc you while you're awake.  They tie you down, strip you, scrub you, etc. all under these space-ship bright lights - and at the last second, when the doctor literally has the scalpel in hand to cut, they put you under.  They have to do a roll call for the tape recorder, and read the case, etc.  and all this time i was shaking with nerves.  The anestesiology team was very understanding and was whispering a narrative of what was going on for me to keep me calm, and a countdown to when I could be put out.  I kept seeing Lily in my head both as a newborn (and remembering her birth) and present day in the moments before.

I woke up foggy, they wheeled me to a room, and Missy was there holding a baby!  Like they promised, my pain was moderate and under control.  I had trouble breathing for about 5 minutes (felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest) so I had to get an oxygen mask, but it cleared up quickly, and my head unfogged at the same time.  I wasn't going to ask about the state of my uterus, because I didn't want to ruin the moment of meeting my second daughter, but I was told right away that she was healthy, and that it was touch-and-go for a minute, but that the placenta was removed completely without uterine damage and I got to keep all my organs!  One of my first questions in my fog was "she's still a girl, right?"  And very quickly, I got to hold my baby girl, an experience I didn't get with Lilian due to the immense pain I had with her.  We got to hold her for about 30 minutes (I had to stay in recovery for 60 before I could go to my room) and we took some photos.  (Our nurse turned out to be a pretty talented photographer, so the photos she took IN the birthing room then of us in recovery came out to be better than most!)

Even after all of my anxiety, I had a peaceful and easy birth experience - again.  I was very lucky to have 2 great births.  

Coraline's 1st ever Photo - she looks a LOT like Lily's 1st ever photo.

Coraline was a whopping 6 lb, 14 oz - a pound more than we expected!

Minutes old.

First exam, and not too happy about it.

Her facial expression looks just like Lily here.

Missy's first time meeting/holding Coraline.

Proud new (for the 2nd time) Mommy

Meeting my new baby girl for the first time, only 10 minutes after surgery.

They came to check her blood sugars because she was a preemie (only by 1 day!), and they were low at only 41, so she had to be taken to the NICU nursery to be watched for a bit.  You can also see in these photos how she has spit bubbles from her mouth, but we didn't know what that meant, so we expected to see her back soon in our room upstairs.

After 30 more minutes (and some slight panic, since I told them, I think I may be bleeding a lot - and we pulled back the sheet to find a bed SOAKED in my blood, but it slowed down within the half hour), I got taken upstairs to my room.  During the time that I was shimmying from my gurney to the hospital bed (which was painful and difficult), the NICU doctor came in and told us that Coraline's lungs were full of fluid, and she was in respiratory distress, and they were putting her on a ventilator.  They had no more details for us, and so the next few hours were very scary for us.  I did know that this is common with C-section babies (since the natural labor process literally squeezes all the fluid out of babies) and even more common with early babies (which is why doctors and March of Dimes encourages babies to stay in until 39 weeks, but with my complications, that just wasn't possible.)  Still, we didn't know the severity or what the outcome would be.   So Coraline spent her birthday fully intubated, and we weren't allowed to touch her, because external stimulation causes the babies to "fight" the tube down their throat.  Her donor/dad came to visit that evening, and he and Missy were able to go see her (and take photos for me), but no one could touch her, and I wasn't able to get out of bed yet to see her.

About 10 hours old, and with a LOT of tubes and monitors.

Intubation is not a fun way to spend your first day.

Poor baby has had more blood tests in her first days of life than anyone!

A scary way for new parents to see their baby girl.

But luckily, besides her fluid-filled lungs, Coraline was big and strong, and so quickly they were able to take her tube out.  When Missy and B left the hospital that evening, the nurses came and cleaned me up and helped me get dressed etc, and by midnight, I was able to ride a wheelchair down to the NICU to go visit her.  By that time, she had been taken off the ventilator and put on a CPAP machine, which instead of breathing FOR her, just helped her to breathe.  And a CPAP uses a nasal cannula instead of a throat tube, which isn't painful and a lot less intrusive.  I was in quite a bit of pain, so I didn't take any photos, but I was able to sit with her and talk to a doctor for a while.

99% of our staff, my nurses, all the doctors, etc were completely great and tried to help me understand the situation and feel less anxious.  It's extremely hard to be seperated from the baby you carried inside you for all those months.  But while in the NICU, there was one nurse who was a little "off".  Most everyone else told us that Coraline's progress was all moving in the right direction, just no one could predict the speed of it or what would happen next.  But this one nurse told Missy "babies can move east and west, but then it can all turn South on a dime and be over at any minute, no way to predict down here."  Who says that to new parents?!?!  (true or not, you just don't say it.)  So when this got reported back to me, when everyone left for the day, and I was left alone in bed without my baby, I started to cry.  My nurse found me crying in my bed, and when I told her why and what was said, she was horrified.  Just then, my roommate's baby began to cry, and having someone else's baby cry, when yours is intubated and unable to cry, and you just want to hold her - is a very sad, hard thing for a new mom (with raging maternal hormones.)  My nurse, without me saying anything, said "this is unfair for you to have to hear him cry" and within minutes was transferring me to a private room (that I wouldn't have to pay extra for.)  The kindness I received in those first 2 days was incredible. 

By morning, Coraline's breathing was so good, that she came off CPAP as well, and on her Day 2 of life, she was breathing room air and keeping her oxygen stats at or near 100.  They Xrayed her lungs once, but after that said she was aspirating the fluid and breathing well, so no more xrays had to be done.  The stress of labored breathing made her very lethargic, so she slept all day and had no interest in eating. We tried to feed her, but for her days 1 and 2 of life, she was fed mostly through an IV.  But off the breathing machines, I could finally hold her!

About 24 hours old.

The center blue line is her oxygen, holding steady at 100%.

The red marks around her mouth are an allergic reaction to the tape from intubation. 


She often peeks at us through one eye.  Her eyes are VERY dark, even darker than Lily's.

She makes a lot of funny faces!

Sleepy girl, she sleeps about 24 hours a day!
From her Day 1 photos to her Day 2 photos, you can see that she puffed up!  The IV fluids made her extremely bloated, so although she looks super chubby, it's just fluid retention.  I almost didn't recognize her the second day, she looks so different than those intital moments I got to hold her after birth.
The red marks on her face are an allergic reaction to tape from intubation - and I have matching red marks all over my arm where the IV was, and Lily reacts the same way (after she got a blood draw last year) - we're all allergic/sensitive to something in the adhesive or possibly something in the plastics/latex used in medical tapes and gear.  So, the marks will go away in a few days, but I wasn't too surprised to see them, since I get them too.

By Day 3 (12/14/12) she was able to come off her IVs and she's eating!  She needs to eat about 30 ml every three hours they said.  It's hard to get her to stay AWAKE to feed that long, she's still super sleepy.  But as long as we can get her to take it, she can stay off the IV.  She is still on antibiotics a few times a day (to prevent lung infection), but as of this morning (Day 4, 12/15/12) she has had her last dose!  So Day 3 they only have her on a pulse monitor to check her breathing, which has been completely normal, her doses of antibiotics, and making sure she's eating.  On Day 3, she also started to turn yellow in the face, but her bilirubin levels were only at 8+, and so they said it was a normal/expected amount of jaundice for a pre-term baby.

Day 3, we had a lot of visitors!  Day 2, Lilian's godmother and my best friend, Linda came to visit, but she was only able to see her for a second.  And Missy's sister, Dawn, and Ashley and Lily came to visit in the evening, but again, no one could hold her.  Lily got to peek at her through glass.  Lily said "She's so BORN!  She's cute.  She has brown hair like me!  Let's take her home."  And when I told her it would be a few days, she said she was ready to go then, and kissed me goodbye!  But on Day 3, visitors were allowed to hold and help feed her!  My mom, my dad, and my brother and sister-in-law all came to visit!  In the evening, her dad B came too.  So we had a busy day entertaining everyone at the hospital, and introducing everyone to Baby Coraline!  Here are photos of all her visitors that day:

Lily seeing Coraline for the first time through the NICU door!

Hanging out with Lily in my hospital room.

My mom (Grandma Marsha) holding Coraline for the first time.

Coraline, about 48+ hours old, Day 3 of life.

My dad (PopPop) holding Coraline for the first time.

Me and my newest baby girl.

Coraline, her two mommies, Grandma and PopPop.  Day 3 of life.

My chubby girl.

Grandma Marsha feeding her a bottle.

Uncle Jared (my brother) and Aunt Bee meet Coraline.  They're expected their OWN baby girl in May!!!

Perfecting the pout.

Donor-Dad holding Coraline for the first time, since on his first visit she was intubated.

Now it's the morning of Day 4, and she continues to improve.  She's been eating every 3 hours (though it's a struggle to get her to start to eat and stay awake), breathing perfect, etc.  Her weight as of last night was 6 lb, 10 ounces - which is pretty close to her birth weight, so that's excellent.  I think because she was tube/IV fed for the first 2 days, she didn't drop a lot of weight like a lot of newborns do.   The only bad news is, is that today her billirubin (jaundice) levels went up (over 13+) and now she has to go on the "jaundice lights" for at least today.  We thought we might be able to take her home tomorrow (Sunday) when I'm released, but now we don't know if we will be able to.  (She still has to pass the preemie "carseat" test too).  So today, she'll get slow roasted on the bili-lights, and hopefully by tomorrow her levels (and her carrot-yellow complexion) will have dropped.

Overall, she's doing great though, and besides her rough start, she's a very healthy 6+ pounder! 

As for me, I'm doing amazing.  I am still on Percoset for pain every few hours, but as long as I keep on top of that, I feel great.  I've had no swelling, sickness, or other post-partum issues.  Besides the normal C-section pain, I am in great shape!

I had a very emotional first 24 hours, not knowing how sick she was or would be - and it was very hard being separated from her.  It wasn't the birth I imagined, and I didn't think I'd be spending a week visiting her in NICU.  But, emotionally I'm doing better, and i am very grateful for the quick recovery and the improvements she's making.  We are totally in love with her, and I can't wait until she can come home with us, so i can really spend time with her.  I feel like I don't quite "know" her yet.  But so far, she is not much of a cry-er, and she seems pretty easy going.  She's sleepy all the time, but besides that, she seems pretty mellow and quiet.  Of course, that could change.   I also am feeling pretty disappointed that breastfeeding didn't happen right off the bat, but I'm pumping for her so far, and today I'm allowed to try to start feeding her at the breast.  Not sure how it'll all work out - but that's a post for another time.

Thank you everyone who is sending us well wishes and has been thinking positive thoughts for her!  She's lucky to have so many people who love her already.
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