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!