Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Look How Far We've Come!

This one is a quick (yet long) update on Landon... I wrote it somewhat quickly, so it may not be up to par but I have felt so bad for not having posted the past few weeks.  Clearly, it has been a rollercoaster, but here is what is going on with Landon!

There is something to be said about the NICU... it's not as treacherous as one might think. Upon entering the room, it appears cold and clinical with concrete tiled floors, so many machines beeping, wires hanging from what seems every crevice of the room, including the babies, nurses quietly attending to newborns, squirming babies lying in large plastic covered bassinets.  As I make my way to Landon who is stationed on the opposite end of the room, tucked away in his own little corner, I pass by all the babies in their open bassinets and incubators.  Some parents are there regularly, some are not, some are new to the NICU which is made known by the hospital gown that still adorns mommy, some have been there for quite some time now, some come alone and some come with support.  The one thing we have in common... our babies are in distress and are giving every bit of energy they have to fight for their health.

I spent 22 days going back and forth between home and the hospital to spend time with Landon.  My day consisted of jumping up out of bed, pumping for milk supply, getting Merrick ready for school, dropping him off and racing to the hospital to be there for Landon's 9 am feeding.  My mom and I would spend several hours there throughout the day, go to lunch and return for additional feedings throughout the day.  During this time, we met with the drs., chatted with the nurses, asked tons of questions, held Landon, listened to the stories of other moms and their babies.  At the end of the day, we raced to pick up Merrick and do the best I could to spend the limited quality time I had with him, eat dinner, pump some more milk,  put him to bed, and rush back up there with Patrick as soon as his feet hit the front door for Landon's 9pm feeding. I did the best I could to create that bond that takes place during the crucial first few weeks and maintain the healthy bond with Merrick while he was also adjusting to our new life with another baby.

We were discharged from the NICU on April 8th.  We were so nervous about bringing this little guy home.  How were we going to handle him when he was so small?  As much as we hated them, we jokingly asked if we could take all those monitors with us so we could be sure he was fine 24 hours a day.  I mean he had already battled a staph infection and thankfully he was in the presence of medical help to treat him.  As we prepared for his departure, I found it to be bitter sweet.  I was full of tears the night before when I told our night nurses goodbye and held back a few tears as we told the day nurses good bye the following day.  The most heart wrenching goodbye was saying goodbye to one of the drs. that worked with Landon the majority of the time she was there.  She stopped by to say good bye to him and to tell us how amazed she is by his story and outcome.  She went over a few things with us and seemed to still be in shock there was actually nothing wrong with Landon.

We left the hospital with our two boys in tow.  Merrick has been a fantastic big brother so far.  He brings Landon his hat, paci, and loves to look at his feet and hands and giggle.  I think he is also marveling at his size.

The Monday after he came home, I found a small lump on his lower abdomen and immediately called the dr.  We were walking in to an emergency appointment within 13 minutes from the time I picked up the phone.  After examining him, our pediatrician referred us to a pediatric surgeon to assess the severity of his hernia which we would soon find out that it was a double hernia.  We are not sure how he acquired this, but it could have possibly been while his had the belly distention and was trying to pass the meconium plugs.  The pediatric surgeon scheduled Landon for an outpatient surgery this past Monday.  We were hopeful this would change things since Landon had been extremely fussy over the weekend and lasted into the week in which he had fits of inconsolable crying.  We were certain something wasn't right - finding the hernias made total sense as to why he seemed so unhappy.

This type of surgery is very routine.  To be honest, I wasn't worried about the surgery itself, but the fact that he would have to be put under for it and the fact that he could not eat after 2 am.  We arrived at teh hospital at 5:30 am for his 7:30 am surgery.  He was out in an hour and spent 2 hours in recovery.  We are so happy to say that we have a BRAND NEW BABY!  He seems so much happier and comfortable than before.  He is alert and rarely cries, except for the occasional demand for his food and diaper change.  He has gained 1/2 pound in a week and our pediatrician is thrilled - this puts him at 5 lbs. 10 oz!  Now, our goal is to get to 6!

I think we have traveled all the hurdles/mountains we could possibly climb.  He is still being closely monitored as he is anemic and his bilirubin seems to be higher than when we left the NICU.  Next week, he has a follow up with the cardiologist for some questionable things that came up on his ecocardiogram that he had after birth.  We are hoping that these things will have corrected themselves.

Right now, we are taking things one day at a time, step by step and praying things continue to remain positive for our little Landon.

I will do my best to post next week about the cardiologist visit.  I'm off to feed a hungry, growing baby!


Monday, March 21, 2011

One Day at a Time

 Hello!  So much to share - I've been taking notes each day regarding the progress of Landon since his arrival.  Here goes...

Landon's Progess in NICU

Thursday, March 17th

As I previously mentioned, Landon would be going straight to NICU (Neonatology Intensive Care Unit) for an undetermined amount of time once he was born.  I was not able to talk to the dr. or see Landon for over 24 hours which was extremely tough for a new mother.  Patrick, my mom, step mom, and friends were able to see him, but his own mommy was not able to provide him the comfort that I'm sure he was seeking - my smell, my voice, my warmth, my nutrition, and my love.  I wanted to know what he looked like, what color his hair adorned his little head, did he really have my nose, and most importantly, how tiny was he really.  Upon arrival to NICU, he was placed on minimal assisted breathing, however he was breathing mostly on his own.  This was for precaution only.  For his first day of life, he was doing fantastic!  They did not feed him yet because they needed to be sure he was stable.

Friday, March 18th

I was FINALLY able to see Landon and hold him.  Oh, what a feeling!  I was able to hold him three times throughout the day and they were each such special moments.  I was not allowed to hold him for too long because they had begun the phototherapy treatment which is common for newborns.  Also, I was still in some pain and did not want to over do it.  Landon's bilirubin is high, therefore causing jaundice, therefore the reason for the phototherapy treatment.  They were still not able to feed him because he was yet to have a bowel movement and his tummy was becoming distended (swelling from pressure).  For those of you who have had children, know the excitement parents have when your baby has his/her first dirty diaper.  It means a healthy system and all systems are a go!  With Landon not having had a bowel movement, this brought concern to the the medical team.  The distending stomach, which was measuring 30 cm in circumference, could be caused by a few circumstances.  The first possibility is due to the lack of fluid he had in the womb in December.  The fluid helps move things along and practice the digestive process in a baby. The meconium (initial baby stools) may have become more sticky and less fluid, therefore sticking to the walls of the intestines.  The other possibility could be an obstruction somewhere in the digestive system. At this time (Friday), they were not sure which was the cause and they will continue to monitor via x-rays, measuring the belly to see if it decreases, and will make attempts to get him to pass the meconium (enemas).  In the meantime, he would receive his nutrients intravenously.  They did insert a tube down his mouth to help suck out any gases, digestive juices, or fluid that might be stuck in his belly.

The best part of the day was when Patrick and I went together for the first time to visit Landon as a family.  The nurse allowed me to hold him skin to skin for about 30 minutes.   I, of course, spent the first 5 minutes in tears, but once I gathered myself we talked to him, sang to him, and just stared at him.   He was so alert, peaceful, and content.  It was the best moment ever!

Saturday, March 19th

We got to see Landon several times today, however not for any long period of time because he was under the phototherapy lights and it is important to keep them there as much as possible.  We did receive great news and that was a successful 'poopy' diaper.  We like to think this was due to the power of skin to skin with me the night before.  He also continued to have dirty diapers throughout the day.  This was great news, however, his belly was still not going down in size.  Another reason for not allowing us to hold him for long was because he had a very busy morning.  It appears Landon's fighting spirit lives on outside the womb!   He hates the cords, wires, and tubes and continuously tried and was eventually successful in ripping the cords out of his nose along with his IV.  Eventually, they had to replace the IV in his foot to keep him away from it.  The nurses say they like a baby that fights the equipment and one that cries at the top of his lungs because that means he's a fighting baby.  It's the ones that are quiet that are worrisome.  One of the nurses who heard our story from the neonatologist said she had been calling him, "My Little Warrior."  I smiled and said, well did you happen to know that his middle name is Wyatt and it actually means fighter/warrior.  She got chills!  I smiled!

Later that night, I walked (yes, I was walking successfully on my own!) to take my pumped milk to the nurses who are storing it for when he is able to finally begin eating.  The nurse that was caring for him that evening asked if I would like to change his diaper.  I said yes, but let me call my husband.  Patrick came rushing over from the room and we changed his diaper, took his temperature, and she let us hold him again for some skin to skin contact.

It is amazing to me how I feel like a brand new parent all over again.  He is so tiny and I am so timid changing a diaper, moving him, taking his temperature.  I'm terrified I might break him.  She also let us help weigh him which was down to 3 lbs. 14.2 oz.  This is normal for a baby to lose weight in the hospital because they lose fluid they acquired from the womb, however seeing the number 3, just made me terrified me even more.  Funny thing is that the nurses consider him one of the bigger babies!  THAT is amazing!  For precautionary reasons, he was placed on antibiotics to be sure he doesn't catch anything.  The nurses continuously speak about how amazing he looks and how stable he is under his circumstance.  Also, the belly had gone down to a 29 -great sign!  We are not out of the woods yet, but it was a sign of progress.

Merrick met his little brother today.  When he walked in and saw Landon in his covered bed, sleeping, he said, "Night, Night... shhhhh!" and placed his finger over his mouth.  He also said, "Baby."  We did not keep him for long because we did not want to make too much noise in the room.  Merrick seemed happy about his brother, but I think he was far more happy about the hospital ice and the construction he was able to see going on outside.

Sunday, March 20th

I got to hold Landon again today.  He was very fussy and kept trying to pull out the cords again.  When I walked in in the room, he was getting his x-ray to check his belly again.  His distention size had gone down to a 28.  I'm not sure how far down it has to go, but was told it is based on his height.  He was still passing meconium successfully and also remains under the phototherapy lights.  He did not lose anymore weight, but actually gained a few tenths of an oz.

The best news of the day is that Landon was taken off oxygen assistance and is completely breathing on his own!!!  He was also moved up to the 5th floor which is where the more stabilized babies are placed.  The nurses say this is where the big boys go.  He still has the tube placed down his mouth that is trying to suck out any gases, digestive fluids that may be building up and causing the distention.

Monday, March 21st

The title of my blog post today says it all... We must take it one day at at time.  I have heard from other mothers that the stay in NICU is a roller coaster and there are good days and bad days.  Each day is something new and somedays will be harder than others and some days will be full of joy.

I had to leave Landon today at the hospital as I was discharged.  It was very hard to leave him behind, even though I knew we would be facing this, it just felt so empty as I loaded up into the car.  Weren't they supposed to be checking my car seat, telling me congratulations, and sending us on our way?  Instead, I would be right back there in a mere hour and a half to drop off my milk and check in on him.

Once I got home, ate lunch, and rested, I received a phone call from one of the neonatologists.  She indicated that the distention was not moving and this was a cause for concern.  Also, he was having less bowel movements.  So, she has decided they will run another x-ray in the morning and based on that, they will decide the next step.  The next step is to do a contrast x-ray to see if there is an obstruction in the digestion system.  They will have to place an enema that has a dye in it to see more closely how things are passing through.

I was able to hold him for quite a bit of time twice today.  He was fussy, but eventually fell asleep in my arms, so peacefully. I sing to him a song that I sing to Merrick and always offer him my finger to hold which he grabs so tightly.

Our plan is to visit Landon each night when Patrick gets home from work, so he has a chance to see him.  We went there tonight and he was quietly sleeping.  We wanted to hold him, but he has a big day tomorrow and we want to be sure he is fully rested for it.  He is taking a pacifier very well which makes me happy that he will hopefully do OK with sucking once he can begin feeding.  We also learned from his nurse tonight that he is now up to 3 lbs. 15 oz., so he is almost back up to his birth weight.  I guess those IV fluids are filled with good stuff.  The nurse also said they are still waiting on tons of blood work, but that will be awhile since it is sent outside of the hospital.

That is all for now - I will post an update as soon as we hear news from the contrast X-ray.

Thank you tremendously for all the support!  He is truly one amazing little boy and we are blessed to have him in our lives!
First time holding Landon
Daddy holds Landon for the first time

Here I am!

Skin to skin time with mommy - so peaceful and content

Merrick meets baby brother, Landon
Under the phototherapy treatment lights

Landon Has Arrived!

Landon Wyatt's Birth Story

Landon Wyatt Franks arrived at 8:52 am on Thursday, March 17th, St. Patrick's Day!  It was a memorable experience and definitely one I will never forget.  The c-section was an experience within itself.  We woke up at 5:45 in the morning to begin our day.  Surprisingly, I slept very well the night before which I had not anticipated.  I had a plan for myself the day before....  Step 1: We would eat as late as possible since I could not eat after midnight and would likely not be eating for many hours after the surgery.  Little did I know it would actually be almost 24 hours before I would eat again!  Step 2:  As soon as I felt sleepy, I would hit the sack to be certain I would go straight to sleep, therefore derailing the train of irrational thoughts that I feared would take over that night.  Apparently, my plan worked well!  I felt great in the morning.

As we left the house, the nerves kicked in full force.  We only live about 10-15 minutes from the hospital and that trip seemed to be much faster than it had previously been for all those trips to my monitoring sessions.  We had received a gift the previous weekend at my surprise baby shower thrown by my very good friend, Natalie.  The gift was several St. Patrick's Day t-shirts for me, Patrick, my mom, Merrick, and even a little onesie for Landon.  What a great idea to bring some fun to the very anxious event.  The nurses were amused and thought it was a great idea since they, too, were decorated for the big day.  We headed to the preparation room and began the process to prepare for the surgery.  I'll spare the details, but will say that it was so very different than the experience of a natural delivery.  It felt very clinical and unnatural.  Some people say they love the idea of a c-section rather than natural, but I have to say that I was not totally sold on this procedure.  Having experience both now, I would take the natural any day!  And that's saying a lot considering how long it took me to deliver Merrick.  However, in the end, it was the absolute best decision for Landon and I'm 100% at peace with our decision.  As I laid on the table, after receiving the spinal block, I felt nauseous and thought I might hurl.  The anesthesiologist said this was normal and it would pass soon - sure enough as soon as Patrick came in to that very cold room, sat beside me, and grabbed my hand, I suddenly felt completely normal again.  At this point, however,  I began to feel the flood of butterflies in my tummy because I would soon learn the accuracy of the doctors' predictions about Landon's size, weight, and ability to thrive.

When my dr. finally got in there (that is the best way I can describe it, unfortunately), she suddenly stopped her conversation about music, American Idol, and whatever other random topics were being discussed between her partner, nurses, and the NICU team and said very loudly, "Oh my God!  Look at that cord!"  OK, now this is an interesting thing to do to a nosy woman like myself who really just wanted to rip down the curtain and check it out immediately.  She began to talk about how long it was and how coiled it was.  You will see from the pictures I posted that the cord actually looked like a telephone cord (for those of you who can actually remember what a phone cord looks like).  I'm still uncertain how normal this is, but she was mostly shocked by its length and did tell me the following day, that it was the longest cord she has ever seen.  Though we are still testing everything, she wonders if this might have been part of the problem with Landon in the womb (too long to get nutrients to him or maybe it was so long he was tangled at some point).  We will know more after all testing is complete, though.

As she pulls him out, he goes directly to the NICU team to begin assessing him in the room.  Patrick, poor guy, kept moving back and forth between me and Landon.  I'm not sure if he knew where he should be, but as the wonderful man that he is... tried to be at both places at once.  I was able to watch them clean him up, cut the cord, assess his viability.  I continuously called out to Patrick amidst my tears asking, "How much does he weigh?" until they finally laid him on the scale - 4 lbs. and 1.6 oz.  I cried even more because this was the weight I had guessed AND the minimum weight I wanted him to be if he was going to be this small.  My next question was how well had he measured on his Apgar score.  This scale measures his skin color, pulse, reflex, muscle tone, and breathing and ranges from 0-10.  Landon scored between an 8-9!  This was even more beautiful news to my ears.  My dr. was excited, as well.  I mean, in the end, she had also been on this journey with our family and was so happy to hear his weight and was thoroughly impressed with the outcome.

I only got to see Landon for about 30 seconds before they whisked him away to the NICU unit to begin assessing him further.  I had no idea it would be more than 24 hours before I would get to see him again. Patrick traveled with him and I was left alone in the room to wrap up the surgery.  I was then wheeled into the recovery room and waited for about 2 hours before being admitted into a room.  Again, it was an experience I will never forget!  Our child was truly a miracle and he was here and with us.  Initial signs all pointing in a very positive direction and we couldn't have been happier.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Exciting Days Ahead!

We had our final growth scan this past Monday to check on Landon's growth over the past three weeks!  He has started to decline again, so they have decided it is time to bring him into the world with in the next week.  I will be 37 weeks this coming Saturday which puts me at full term, so I'm OK with this decision and feel comfortable delivering him at this time.  I mean... we've are WAY further along than they EVER expected.

We decided we would go ahead with a c section because induction would be too much stress for Landon.  I went over 41 weeks with Merrick and it appears at this time, I am not even close to being ready for delivery.  Currently, the perinatologist predicts his weight to be about 3 lbs. 4 oz. (as of Monday), but this can be slightly off, so we are hoping for at least 4 pounds.  It's amazing to me that he could be about 1/3 or even 1/2 the size  of Merrick's size at birth.  I thought Merrick felt so small at almost 9 lbs., so Landon is going to feel so itty bitty.

He will be taken to NICU as soon as he is delivered and will be kept there until he begins to show signs of feeding, gaining weight, and ability to breathe on his own.  They will also be doing tons of testing on him to be sure there was nothing internally causing the growth restriction.  After delivery, my placenta will also be immediately taken to be biopsied and we will hopefully have more information in about two weeks.

We were able to choose the date of the c section and we decided on St. Patrick's Day!  We figured this would be only fitting!  We will most definitely keep you posted next week.  

Short post this week! 
As always thank you so very much for your support and prayers!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Still Holding On...

I apologize for not having written an update this week.  As you know, this little boy is full of surprises and once again, has kept us on our toes.  On Monday I attended my regular monitoring session at Labor and Delivery which determined the course of events for the remainder of the week. 

These monitoring sessions last about 30-45 minutes while I'm connected to bands that listen to the heartbeat, detect fetal movement and the heartbeat during that movement, in addition to, another band that follows any possible contractions that might be taking place.  I am not allowed to fall asleep during this session because I have to click a device that marks any fetal movement I feel.   It almost feels like a buzzer from a game show... I feel like there should be some loud, buzzing alarm with lights spinning every time I get to click that button, but unfortunately it is only a little black mark made on very long strip of paper that I have no idea how to read or understand. 

Now, the sound of the fetal heartbeat is a special one for an expectant mother, however it is also very loud and usually very fast and after hearing it so much for the past few months in total fear of what might happen, it begins to sound like a ticking time bomb.  So, here I am waiting and listening, trying to find things to occupy my time - playing solitaire on my phone, clicking channels on the TV, checking Facebook, and BabyCenter... thank goodness for smart phones or I may not make it through these sessions.  Through all of this, I still find myself getting antsy.  About 25 minutes into the session, I began to doze off - oops!  As soon as I drifted, I heard Landon's heart beat drop to a very slow, almost (what I felt) non-existent heart beat.  This jolted me around to view the screen and the next thing I see is the nurse running in to check on us.  The look on her face said it all.  I knew something wasn't right. 

It is very common for the heartbeat to fall off the monitor and it takes a little while to relocate it.  When this happens, you either can't hear it anymore or it becomes a very faint distance sound.  This was not the case.  It was a clear, slow thud that I knew indicated a deceleration.  I am usually able to reposition myself or the monitor to find him again.  However, this was different.  After checking the machine, the nurse quickly had me turn over and it dropped again.  She had me flip sides, and finally after a few seconds (felt like minutes) the heart beat picked back up again.  At this point, I was shaking with nerves.  You see, last week at the perinatologist office the prognosis looked far more promising than before, except that we did not know how often the decelerations had been happening and for how long.  IF these were occurring often and for long periods of time, he indicated that we may have more serious problems on our hands when Landon arrives.  Since no monitoring session had detected this since the time in Houston, I felt good about our new prognosis and moved forward.  This sudden setback was devastating! 

As I mentioned in a previous posting, after the monitoring session I head downstairs to get a biophysical ultrasound.  Things looked great (fluid, movement, etc.), except that the tech did not witness any fetal breathing.  She has 30 minutes to see this on the screen and if not, I fail the ultrasound.  This test is subjective and usually not indicative of major problems, had she been able to monitor longer, she may have been able to see what she needed to see.  However, in our case, with the combination of the decelerations and the failing ultrasound, I was pretty much a nervous wreck and it appeared to be enough of a concern for the nurse to contact my dr.  Not to mention, I was beginning to get hungry and my hands were shaking.  I asked the nurse if I could eat something and she said, "I'm sorry, but we are going to put you back on the monitor and I'll see what I can do, but I doubt you are going to be able to eat."  At this point, I feared we were likely headed toward an emergency c-section.  I called Patrick and he left work and headed straight to the hospital. I made a MERT alert (Marlo Emergency Response Team - ha ha - to begin putting into action the plans for Merrick, etc.)

I remained on the monitors for another hour to hour and a half and thankfully, there were no more decelerations.  The on-call doctor for our office was being kept abreast of our situation and would be by at some point to discuss what he would like to do.  Thankfully, it took some time for him to arrive and this left me with a very long monitoring that did not pick up any more decelerations.  So, I was allowed to go home and to see my regular OB the following day. 

I have to say that I am thankful for a very proactive OB and that she always errs on the side of caution, however sometimes it can throw us into a tailspin of fear and anxiety.  At our appointment on Tuesday morning, she did indicate that decelerations can happen, but as long as they are not consistent then usually they are nothing to be alarmed about.  However, in our situation, being a high risk pregnancy, she sees it as a concern that we should probably check out.  Her recommendation on Tuesday morning was to attend my regular session on Thursday as scheduled, however this time, I would remain there for 4 hours.  She said have a good breakfast at 6 am (giving my body enough fuel to last many hours and enough time to digest before I might have to have a c-section), pack a small bag, and be prepared that we may have a baby on Thursday IF they see anything out of the ordinary.  This made sense to us as Patrick has repeatedly asked the question, "How can they only see what they need to see in a 30/40 minute time span - shouldn't they watch him for longer periods of time?"  So, knowing that I would be monitored for such a long period of time, I knew we would know how things really looked. 

We spent all of Wednesday packing a hospital bag, preparing for the arrival of Landon, and mentally prepping myself for what was to come.  Let's just say that nesting from a couch is not fun, so needless to say Patrick and the housekeeper were not too thrilled throughout the day as I requested 'this to be cleaned' and 'that to be moved.'  I headed to bed early Wednesday night, woke up at 5:30 am and headed to eat a breakfast that consisted of a Belgium waffle, eggs, and sausage.  Surely, this would keep me full for the upcoming hours.  At 10:00, I headed into the hospital and began the session.  This time equipped with a book, magazines, and my favorite device, my phone!

I waited and waited and waited.  Thankfully, after 4 long hours - Landon did great!  Go figure!  I have decided that he will likely be an Olympian gymnast and I suspect will come home with the gold medal at some point, considering he seems to flip positions each time we are checked.  I also think he will be the child that will keep me guessing for the rest of my life and will likely be responsible for turning my head fully gray, therefore forcing me to spend thousands of dollars over the years to keep it the natural brown it currently is (wink, wink).  In any case, the more we move along... the more excited I am to meet this little guy.  He seems to be quite a character and his arrival will be such a sweet blessing!

I've said it once, twice, and many times over... thank you tremendously for your support, prayers, and thoughts.  We are 35 weeks today with 4 more to go before the schedule c-section.  We are amazed at the journey we have been through the past few months!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Week 33

We finally had our perinatologist appointment yesterday.  I barely slept a wink Sunday night as we waited for Monday to roll around.  Most people might have been excited that V Day was upon them, but for us it was like D Day - the day to determine how much progress had Landon made over the past three weeks.  Some friends came over late Sunday afternoon to help with Merrick since Patrick had to work all day.  This was so helpful, but as soon as they walked out the door and I watched them load up their two boys, my stomach turned to knots and remained that way until about 5:30 am when my feet hit the cold hardwood floors.  Thankfully, Merrick had a big day at school with Valentine's Day and all, so that kept me focused throughout the morning.  I was hoping for good news of course, yet was extremely nervous things were going to being moving very fast if the growth had stopped or the gap had widened.  Luckily, by 10:30, I was flying high with relief and happiness.

The ultrasound takes at least 30 minutes for them to monitor breathing, movement, heart beat, cord flow, and measurements of his body parts.  Landon is now measuring 28 weeks and 6 days and I am 33 weeks and 2 days (yesterday).  He weighs 2 lbs. 13 oz.  Though he is still far behind in his growth, the gap has not widened and he has put on 1 lb. and 2 oz. in three weeks!  This is FANTASTIC news for us.  So, for now, he will remain tucked away for three more weeks until we have our next growth ultrasound.  I will continue to be monitored two times a week at the hospital, so they can keep an eye on his progress because the doctor is still slightly concerned the placenta could give out at any time, but he is far more optimistic than ever before.

I asked a ton of questions about what we can expect when Landon is born.  Since we still do not know for sure what has caused all of the issues (either placental problems or a problem within him), he feels that our prognosis for a healthy child is much greater than what was originally thought in December and January, but can't determine exactly what we may face when he arrives.  My increased fluid levels have made a HUGE difference in his prognosis.  We discussed the issues to expect with an IUGR baby and where/how we can begin researching and understanding possible complications that we may experience with Landon when he does arrive.  Feeding seems to be the number one concern for IUGR babies and we will begin having discussions with our pediatrician to prepare ourselves.

Today, we met with my regular OB who I see once a week to reassure my health is OK and to monitor the possible beginnings of pre-ecamplsia.  Since Landon has been a little stinker and continues to move back and forth from breeched to cephalic (head down), she decided that we should go ahead and schedule a c-section for March 25th.  This falls into week 39 for us.  If he does move to the cephalic position and stays there, we can expect a regular delivery when he chooses to grace us with his presence.  For those of you who may remember, Merrick arrived at over 41 weeks and I had an induction that lasted a lifetime (see previous post here about that story).   So, my fear is that I won't go into labor on my own and will have to be induced.  For this reason, I may go ahead and continue with the c-section because I have concern about being induced and compounding problems on top of problems because induction can be stressful on a baby.  We want his arrival to be easy for him as possible, considering he has been fighting so hard!

I will continue to keep everyone posted as things come up, but for now we are still waiting for his healthy arrival and hoping that things continue to remain positive for us.  I have another great story about yesterday, but will save that for another post.

Thanks for all of your support!  We appreciate everything.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Monitoring - Week 1

Today completed my first week of monitoring!  I started last Thursday and things have been going well, thus far.  Heartbeat seems good and there have not been any issues with decelerations or concerns for the nurses and doctors.  After each monitoring session, I head downstairs to receive a biophysical ultrasound.  This is a quick ultrasound that basically measures the health of the baby, checking the heart rate, muscle tone, movement, breathing, and amniotic fluid levels.  Landon has successfully passed each ultrasound, so I have been sent home to hold on for a few more days until the next session.

When I saw my regular OB on Tuesday, the first words out of her mouth were, "I think I am witnessing a miracle!  Considering what a grim, hopeless outcome we expected in December, I am amazed that we are where we are."  This was great to hear from a doctor!  I know our dear Landon is fighting hard in there and I am so looking forward to meeting him and am curious what his personality will be like, knowing he is so resilient and tenacious!

The only concern I have for today's session is that my fluid has dropped back down to 7.6 which is still in a safe zone, but definitely on the lower level.  Hoping I get a better measurement on Monday, my next session, and this is not a continuing trend.    Funny thing is that I actually have not had one ounce of Powerade this week, so I think maybe Patrick may be onto something.  I picked some up today and will be drinking tons of it again this weekend.  I am going online soon to find out who I need to contact for that endorsement deal.

We are 32 weeks on Saturday - taking it week by week has been so helpful and it really seems to bring us more peace knowing that we are getting closer and closer to a safe delivery.

We did have a scare this past Saturday and had to make a trip to Labor and Delivery because I did not feel Landon move all morning, even after eating and drinking.  It was a scary feeling.  Go figure that as soon as I was placed on the monitors, he started kicking up a storm.  I told Patrick that Landon just may be grounded from utero til 18 years old due to all stress he has given his mamma!  I'm totally kidding, but hoping that he keeps kicking regularly and we don't have to make another emergency visit anytime soon.  I go enough during the week!  In any case, it gave us a good practice run.  We issued a MERT Alert (Marlo Emergency Response Team - a code that my friend Natalie and her husband created - ha ha)  They immediately met us at the hospital to pick up Merrick after she read my text that read, "I think we need a MERT Alert!"  She kept him until we knew what was going to happen.  Natalie took him to the park, so he was well entertained.

So, that's where we are today - no major news and we won't have much more until we see the perinatologist again on the 14th.  Yes, Valentine's Day!!

Also, I was asked by a dear friend why I had not posted any pics of my baby bump with Landon.  To be honest, we have not really taken any pictures of this pregnancy.  With all of the uncertainty we were given in December, it felt strange to take pictures because we were so scared of what was to come.  Also, I pretty much sit around on bed rest all day in comfy clothes with no make-up or presentable hair.  Now that we are in a much better place, I have decided that I will start to periodically take some between now and delivery.  Another very dear friend of ours is a photographer and we have asked her to take a small portrait session of my baby bump with Merrick.  I have pregnancy pictures from my pregnancy with Merrick, so we don't need tons again, but I would like to see Merrick and his little brother - especially since he loves to play with my belly button and give my belly kisses.  I think he is beginning to realize that he has a brother on the way.

Here is the official Landon baby bump that we took this morning before taking Merrick to school!  I bothered to put some makeup on today, so figured I better jump on the opportunity.

Again, thank you for all of your support, prayers, and kind wishes.  We appreciate it so very much.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I distinctly remember the day we left my small, south Texas hometown and headed to the big city of Houston, TX.  I was heading off to college at the mere age of 17.  My mom and I drove up with a dear friend from high school, Timmy, with his truck loaded to the top with supplies my mom thought I would need over the next year.  I was overstocked with things I don't even recall using at home as a teen, much less now that I was in college.  After my mom and Timmy left and headed back to Mathis, my mom began calling daily to check on me.  This was before cell phones and before I ever felt the need to own a pager, so I often came back to my dorm room with random messages on my answering machine.  I think she may have been suffering from a bit of empty nest syndrome, but I also think she was genuinely worried about her daughter being so far away from home.  However, her worry always seemed to revolve around food which I never quite understood.  When we did speak, she always asked the question, "What did you eat for lunch/dinner today."  She wanted full details too.  My simple answers never sufficed and I just didn't understand why this was so important to her.  I mean, I was old enough to know when and what I needed to eat, after all.  This question has haunted me since I was 17 years old.  In fact, she still asks me the same dreaded question even though I am 35 years old, married, and with a child of my own, "What are you eating for dinner."  Awhile back, she told me she often woke up in the middle of the night worried about whether or not she fed us enough as kids, were we fulfilled nutritionally throughout our childhood, and had we eaten well that day.  I rolled my eyes (yes, unfortunately a teenage habit I haven't been able to break) and thought she was insane.  Don't we all usually think our moms are at some point or another?

Fast forward to my current life as a mother of a 15 month old.  Here I sit at the dining room table, watching my son eat his dinner - I should probably rephrase that statement to, the dinner he usually refuses to eat - it suddenly hit me!  I, too, am obsessed with Merrick's food intake.  How had I turned into my mom?  I realized when I pick him up from daycare, it is the first thing I look at on his daily chart.  I immediately want to know,  "How much did he eat today?"  "How much milk did he drink?"  I, then, proceed to ask the teachers how much of his lunch did he actually eat and how much was thrown across the table.  At dinner time, when Merrick decides he does not like what has been placed in front of him and he begins pushing his bowl away as if it were plagued with "cooties," I feel the worry and concern bubble inside me.  The anxiety of whether or not he is getting enough nutrition begins to overwhelm me.  I'm obsessed in making sure he only consumes what I have deemed 'appropriate' foods, fresh fruits, no preservative based foods, tons of water rather than juice, and the list can go on and on.  Next week, he is moving up to the big boy, toddler room and they will begin providing his snacks for him instead of us hauling them back and forth each day.   I don't think I've become "THAT" parent yet, but probably well on my way after my list of questions regarding this snack time food intake!  

Now, fast forward to my second pregnancy with Landon.  I've been told that the problems we are experiencing with this pregnancy are due to a placenta dysfunction.  We won't have a specific diagnosis until after Landon is born and they are able to perform a biopsy on the placenta.  It is clear, though, it is not functioning properly in order to provide Landon with the proper nutrition he needs for growth.  For those that don't understand the role of the placenta, it's purpose and function is to act like the lifeline between mother and baby.  The placenta transfers oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the fetus.

So, as I sit here on a daily basis waiting for what is to come, I am again overwhelmed with the thought that I am unable to nourish the child that lays inside me.  My one and only purpose right now is to provide him with plenty of nourishment to grow and prepare for the life outside the womb and I'm failing.  This is a situation that is out of my control and I'm unable to fix it.  As a mother, this is probably one of the hardest things to face.  Feeding Merrick is something I can obsess about and usually fix it by making him some macaroni and cheese.  In this situation, it's not that easy of a fix.  I have decided the only real thing I can do is eat and drink as much as I can, in hopes that I will be able to give him just a little bit more nutrition the placenta may not be able to provide.  I'm going to have a ton of work to do to remove the extra weight I will have gained, but if it gives Landon a little more of a fighting chance, so be it.   

After talking to other moms over the past 15 months, it amazes me how it seems natural for us to become obsessed with what goes into the mouths and bellies of our little ones.  It begins from day one.... breastfeeding alone causes so much anxiety among some women, they are unable to produce milk.  We question everything from what to feed them, when to feed them, how to feed them, and on and on and on.  No wonder my mom still asks to this day.  

I can't help but wonder how much more obsessed I will become with making sure my boys are well fed as they grow up.  Knowing I was unable to provide the appropriate nourishment for the first 10 months of Landon's developing life, I may be a slight bit harder on myself.  Who knows, maybe I'll relax and not take it so seriously.  In any case, I get it now more than I ever did before.

I have often thought about Merrick and Landon in college and throughout their adult years, picking up the phone, rolling their eyes because they know I'm calling to find out what they had for dinner, but that's OK - I'm their mom and it's my job!


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Big Day!

This day has felt like an eternity to get to.  After not having much sleep last night due to anticipation for what new news would come to us today, I made it to the dr. promptly this morning.  I got there so early, I had to wait in the parking lot.  So, in an attempt to calm my nerves, I think I called almost every person in my phone book, but go figure it was one of those days that no one seemed to be answering the phones.  I guess this is what happens when you call people in the middle of a Monday morning - they are working!

So, here are my results from todays appointment.  I consider it good news and bad news, but I am still carrying a strong sense of optimism since last Monday.  My fluid levels are now at an estimated 12!  The tech measured 11 and the perinatologist measured 13, so I'll go with about a medium of 12.  This is great news and I feel much better knowing that he's got room to move around which means that hopefully, lungs are developing more and we hopefully won't have any problems w/him having extremity restrictions, or umbilical cord compression (this was my biggest concern of all as it could lead to many serious complications).  So, I'm crossing fingers this fluid increase is a positive for us.  My dear husband, Patrick, is now a firm believer in the benefits of PowerAde!!!!  I've been drinking 32 oz. bottles of this and water pretty much non-stop for the past few weeks.  I've heard urban legends about the powers of PowerAde, but I might now be willing to do a commercial for them when this is all said and done!
So, for the the not so great news.  Landon is still far behind in growth.  He is measuring 25 weeks and 6 days and I am 30 weeks and 2 days, so if my math is correct (which could be questionable) this means he is now about 31 days behind in growth, so the gap has widened...not by a huge amount, but it has.  He weighs about 1 lb. 10 oz. so it is the weight they feel comfortable to deliver him, if necessary.  
The ultrasound tech scared did give me quite a scare while she was performing the ultrasound. As she was checking the heart beat and the doppler readings, she became really quiet. I had heard a heartbeat, so I knew that was ok at least, but was concerned the decelerations were appearing again.  She suddenly turned off the machine and said the dr. would be in soon.  As soon as the dr, entered, I asked about the heart and he said he was fine, no signs of distress at this point.  That was a relief!  I knew if they had seen that, things were going to move very fast and I don't think I was quite prepared for that.
I will start doing kick counts regularly which I told the dr. will be hard because he's not a big mover, but I just have to get 3 in one hour.  If I don't, I am go go to Labor and Delivery, ASAP.  He kept mentioning this, so I don't know if he saw something that made him concerned or was just trying to prepare me, but he's a pretty blunt dr. so I think he would have informed me.  His previous predictions were that as Landon gets bigger, the placenta has to provide more for the baby and if it is failing already, then it will/could eventually give out because he is too big.  So, I think his concern is that we are this far along and are very likely able to save Landon and the outcome could be good, so I have to really start monitoring closely in case the placenta were to eventually give out.
So, the plan for now is to see my regular OB tomorrow am to check blood pressure, etc.  Then I will begin going to Labor and Delivery 2 times a week to begin fetal monitoring. He said that if they notice anything, they will do an ultrasound to confirm their readings.  If there are any indications of problems, they will deliver.  This could include decrease movement, heart decelerations, etc.  This means, we can expect to have him deliver anytime in the next few weeks.  However, I'm scheduled for a new ultrasound in three weeks if Landon stays put - this would then put me at 33 weeks, just a few steps closer to my expected due date and that would obviously be the best case scenario.
So, here I am - waiting, waiting.  I am doing OK today - I don't feel overwhelmed with emotion today about today's news because it really wasn't much new news.  I am disappointed, however, because I really did think there was going to be something different. I felt like maybe the new position he was in would give us a more positive growth measurement.  However, I do feel good that I'm 30 weeks, that fluid levels are up and the next time I see the peri, I'll be 33 weeks.  I'm looking for the small blessings that have been given to us.
I have resolved to the fact that I'm likely going to go further along and deliver a very small baby OR I'll be delivering a premie.  In the end, I know that we are in a much better place than we were before - still holding on and hoping for Landon to arrive.  He may be small, but this boy has a BIG story and a BIG heart!  
Merrick is doing great - he actually is fascinated with my belly and gives it kisses and, well, sometimes he gives it a slap or two.  I've also taught him to say, "Grow, Baby Grow!"   We are talking about Landon a lot more now and I think he may be realizing that he's got a little brother on the way!
Again, I say this every time - I am so very thankful for each and every one of you and the support you are giving to my family!  
PS - about Suzy - I asked the drs. at our meeting last week and everyone in the room agreed that we would be able to have her as a nurse, provided she was there that day!  It never hurts to ask.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cautiously Optimistic

I am going to begin updating our dr. visits/new info we receive about Landon Wyatt via this site.  I have decided to journal our experience through a blog dedicated to our journey.   I began last week and have made two posts - please feel free to stop by and take a peek.  You will read how I came upon the idea of  blogging our journey and hopefully gain an understanding of the feelings/emotions we are facing daily.   I am working on a tab for those who don't know the back story and want to catch up.  You may read these postings to get a full update since the initial news in December.  This is my first attempt at blogging extensively and I have already learned so much and have found the experience to be a positive one so far.

PS - One more thing... be sure to enter your email address under the RSS feed so you can receive email updates when I do make an update.  Also, click to follow my blog.  These will automatically be sent to the email address you enter.  If you have any questions about this, please let me know.  I'll try to find an answer.  I'm still learning.

Here is our update for today:

Many of you received my text today w/our cautiously optimistic good news.  We met with the team of doctors this morning.  There was a a lot of information given to us and lots of possible case scenarios, both, good and bad.  We feel very informed and we are now in a better place having almost made it to the 30 week mark.  The neonatologist was optimistic and gave us some hope for what we may expect when Landon arrives, but was also very realistic and practical.  We also were given a tour of the NICU unit which was definitely the hardest part of the day.  

Our perinatologist was adamant that it was too soon to do another ultrasound to check growth because it is not an accurate predictor in such a short gap of time.  He stood by his 3 week time frame, however he did offer to do a quick one to check my fluid levels.  The reason for this request on our part was because I have suddenly seemed to have gotten bigger and I have had the "pregnancy discomfort" all weekend, so I certainly thought he might have gotten bigger or my fluid increased.  I knew something was different... I've been telling Patrick all weekend that I thought he moved and that I felt bigger, etc.  Thankfully, the peri allowed us to check the fluid because it has increased to a surprising 8.4!  This is still in a low range and more along the lines of someone in their 36/37th week, but it is FAR (possibly double/triple the amount) above the amount that I had previously. The other good news is that he is no longer breeched.

We won't know anything more until Monday and that will be a HUGE day in terms of determining growth that may or may not have taken place.  It has been determined from the meeting today, though, that if growth stops or takes a further decline, this is when they will begin delivery preparations.  

This is all we have for now... I'm glad that the news is more positive this week and hope that it continues for us.

Again, I can't thank you enough for your help and support.  Will give you a new update next week.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Good Omens

I don't think many people remember or feel so attached to the nurse who cared for them in the hospital, but I think our nurse who delivered Merrick shares a special place with our family.  I previously mentioned the baggage I carried into the hospital on the day we headed in for my induction; I had packed like I was heading there for a month, but that is the norm for me traveling anywhere.  So, you can only imagine how a first rate member of Overpackers Anonymous Club felt about packing for a trip to the hospital to deliver our first born son! What I did not mention was that I also brought along our doula.  Her presence would become crucial throughout what seemed to be, the never ending induction.  I think the nurses were intimidated, doctors were intimidated, and they all thought it was the funniest thing that I came in carrying my big yoga ball!

Here enters Suzy, our nurse!  She was my nurse the first full day of the induction.  We talked throughout the day as you would to any nurse that cares for you in a hospital.  It's all business - "How are you feeling?" "What can I do to make your more comfortable?" "No, you may not eat anything!" "How much more can you possibly drink, girl?"  Little did I know, she was beginning to get me prepared for a c-section which I adamantly did not want.  I was not progressing and I knew her secret the moment she started limiting my intake of water and ice!  So, needless to say, I immediately called my doula and we began the fight to start the induction process all over again (it's known as a serial induction).  So, on to day 2 of my hospital stay.  Most people have likely already birthed a child at this point, but they aren't likely as tenacious and determined as me.  Low and behold... Suzy is my nurse again for Day 2 and was there when my water FINALLY broke and I was ready to deliver.  She was our nurse who cared for me during, after the birth, and for the remainder of the day until I was moved to the postpartum wing.

Most would think... this is where it ends with the relationship with your nurse, however I think this is where our very small wondrous world brings two people together for a very special reason.  Suzy only works the labor and delivery wing, yet on this day, my 3rd day in the hospital, now in the postpartum wing, in walks Suzy.  Surprise!!! She was there to nurse me through my recovery too.  My mom and I were thrilled!  It just so happened there was a shortage of nurses on the floor that day and she was assigned to me.  We bonded even more as she guided me through my breastfeeding, answered all the questions I had about caring for a newborn (I seemed to have forgotten everything I read or learned in baby care class), and shared her story about her three children and nursing.  My favorite memory of her was the dedication to be sure we left fully prepared for Merrick's arrival home.  Now, I don't want to get Suzy in trouble, but this woman hooked us up!  She gave us so many baby blankets, diapers, extra lady things I needed... she just kept filling me up and up and up!  It was AWESOME!

As we walked out of the door that day and we said goodbye, she said to me, "You know, you will probably never be forgotten."  I thought she was being nice, but she continued on, "When women come in with a yoga ball and a doula, we, at the nurses station unfortunately have an inside scoop of how this will typically turn out... it usually means we should get the c-section operating room prepared! I'm not sure why, but for some reason it just seems to be the statistic.  Let's just say that, I think you are probably one of the very few, if any, who have actually made it through a natural delivery despite that yoga ball!"  My heart was beaming with pride that we accomplished the birth we had desired.  Even though we had our doula, I think Suzy really helped make sure I had the experience I had been dreaming of for 9 months.

So, what does this have to do with Landon?  Well, as I mentioned before, I had to enter the hospital this past week to begin steroid shots for Landon's lung maturity.  On the first day there, I asked repeatedly about Suzy, just hoping that she might be there.  Unfortunately, she wasn't.  What was I thinking... this woman was not going to remember the Franks' family.  She delivers umpteen babies a day, not to mention it has been 15 months since she's seen us and I'm more than sure my math is good enough to know that is a lot of babies/families she has seen.  So, I figured I'd let it go.

On my second day of shots, I went on my own because there was no need for Patrick to take a day off of work for me to get a shot.  We had checked with the nurses the day before and she agreed, I could go alone.  I had to wait for a very long time in the waiting room of Labor and Delivery because, unfortunately, they were booked with many emergency deliveries, women in lots of pain, and what appeared to be a lot of c-sections.  As I waited in the waiting room, I saw the other side of delivery... the anxious family awaiting the arrival of granddaughters, nieces, and nephews.  This was moving as I remembered the birth of Merrick, yet it also brought me to the realization that my soon to come delivery was going to be full of excitement, but also shadowed with extreme fear and worry for the health of our dear Landon.

As I waited, a nurse and a dad in scrubs came out the door pushing the little clear bassinet and a precious baby wrapped in one of those very blankets I received from my nurse friend, Suzy.  The family jumped up with excitement, took pictures, and beamed with pride.  I, of course, began to cry.  I wanted so badly to place my sunglasses over my head and hang my head low, but out of the corner of my eye... I saw her.  I saw someone pushing a gurney quickly through the hallway.  I immediately recognized the long sleeve thermal shirt under her scrubs, the dirty blond hair with highlights, and that very sweet smile.  I jumped up and leapt across the waiting room and into the hallway where she stood waiting for the Labor and Delivery doors to open.  She immediately remembered me, hugged me, and I just cried into her shoulder.  I told her our story, shared the proud mamma moments of Merrick, and she, as she had done before, provided me with comfort.  Our visit was quick as she needed to get back to work, but my day was made by a little ray of sunlight.

I immediately called Patrick as she walked away.  His laugh of relief that there was some familiarity in this hospital for us made me feel even better.  I think seeing Suzy was a good omen for us.  I felt like we had been touched by something... like something bigger than us is watching over us.  When my nerves were about to get the best of me as I sat there alone waiting to be called, I was soon reassured I was being protected and guided.  Though the encounters between Suzy and me have been short in the big picture of life, it made me realize that people come into your life and touch you... whether it be for the small moments or the big ones, they are there.

We so often take for granted the blessings that surround us.  I know now that I will now seek them out in a different way than I ever have before.  They are there, yet often forgotten.  When you do see them for what they are, they can bring us back to a place in which we can take a look at life in a more gentle way.

At our meeting on Monday morning with the team of doctors, I'm requesting that she be our nurse while I'm in the hospital.  I know these doctors are going to think I'm crazy, but I think they'll understand.  Having her there to be a part of our story, brings me comfort.

I have a picture of Suzy, Merrick and I, but need to find it in my never ending Iphoto log... hey, I was a first time mom for the past 15 months, there are a lot of pictures to go through.  I'll post as soon as I find it.

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Elevator

As we headed into the elevator at the hospital this afternoon, I was immediately reminded of the last time we made these same steps.  My memory hit me like a ton of bricks.  I remembered the feeling of discomfort, anxiety, fear of what was to come, anticipation, and excitement.  The first time we entered these doors and chose our designated floor, I carried a far too overpacked suitcase, a massive sized exercise ball, set of Friends dvds to keep me entertained (silly me), my laptop, my mother, and my dear husband who was a pretty nervous guy at the time, and finally the clothes in which I would hold and cherish my first born son.

This time, unfortunately, was different.  This time, I carried eyes filled with tears, a heavy heart, an achy stomach of nerves, and the intense clench of my husband's hand (who, of course, was still a pretty nervous guy). Ironically, as soon as he grasped my hand upon entering, I was overcome with feelings of discomfort, anxiety, fear of what was to come, anticipation, and excitement.  I'm not sure how we landed in this place and I'm aware it will be some time before we really know, but I also know I will have to enter those elevator doors again sometime in the near future.  The novelty of doing it again and again over the next few months will wear off.  As the ding of the door opening lands me on the 3rd floor of this hospital, it'll feel commonplace after awhile and that makes me sad since these metal sheet doors aroused so much emotion within me.  Despite this, I will always remember how bittersweet this memory, of elevator doors, are to me as I stepped foot into this contraption that would one day take me to deliver my first born son and at another time begin the preparations for me to deliver my second son.  The beauty of that, alone, will get me through this.  Though the emotions I felt are the same in the basic adjective form, they bring such different meanings to where we are and what is to come.

This is all I have to share right now.  It is a very late 1:30 am and being on bed rest certainly has my internal clock completely off kilter.  I decided at the very moment I was unsuccessfully trying to sleep, that I have a story to share.  I have learned over the past months about some very brave, gentle, and supportive women through blogs.  Their stories have helped me make it through the rough patches and have helped me understand and answer so many of the questions I have.  If anything, I only hope to share my story to provide comfort to someone who is also faced with a life story that is not what we dreamed or had planned for ourselves.