Monday, March 29, 2010

Helping Millie and Babies Like Millie

I've recently become familiar with the March of Dimes.  I think I have found a charity that speaks straight to my heart!  Here is a little picture displaying how premature babies have benefited from research funded in part by the March of Dimes.

See if you can pick out where Millie has been blessed:

We've been blessed with only having lung, heart, and eye issues so far.  After reading into each of these areas, I am so thankful Millie has been born in a time when she can benefit from all of this research.  Even just 10 years ago, her "out of the hospital" life could be dramatically different.

I looked up all of the March of Dimes events in Utah and the Carolina's, and unfortunately I won't be in town for any of them!  Thankfully I have a dear friend, Mary, that has decided to March for Millie.

Mary has a humble goal of raising $100 for the March of Dimes in April.  I was so touched that she thought of our sweet family and signed up for the event, so I thought I'd do what I could and help her raise some money.

If you are interested in donating any amount to Mary's walk please do so here.

Thanks to our handy google analytics I know we have at least 500 blog "followers."  Don't worry, I can't see who you are, just the town you live in.  I figured if all 500 of y'all donated 25 cents to Mary she would more than meet her goal!  And if you were feeling generous, I'm sure she'd accept $1 (or more).

At the very least, I hope you understand how Millie has directly benefited from this organization.  If Millie has benefited from several of their major research findings, you can only imagine how much they have helped other babies.

Here's to healthy babies!

P.S. I know the picture is partially cut off, and I'm sorry I can't fix it!  I copied the picture from here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy 4 Months Old Birthday, Millie!

Look at me! I'm so cute and big!

I even have blue eyes now! (and sometimes I like to make silly faces)

I get such fab sunlight in my room, I sometimes like to just lay around soaking it in.

Sorry for the posting delay. My computer is back to full health, but for some reason iphoto didn't load so blogger wouldn't let me post pictures. What is a post without pictures? I knew no one would read it haha.

And remember when I said I was only going to take a monthly Barbie picture? Well I forgot so refer to last weeks for her approximate size.

Can you believe it's already been 4 months since Millie was born? I can. It feels like it's been 8 months. Every day literally feels like 2 days because we visit Millie twice a day (or more) and there is a whole new set of people there at each shift.

I've been on Maternity Leave since Monday. I had all these big plans for what I was going to do with my "free time." Pshhh! Did you see this sweet girl? I can't leave her bedside! If I leave, it's so I can sleep, shower, and eat. Everything else will just have to wait.

Health Updates:
  1. This sweet baby is weighing in at approximately 7 pounds 4 ounces. A great weight for a micro preemie.
  2. Millie is now 41.5 weeks gestation, so she would have been born for sure by now.
  3. She is still keeping us on our toes with her eating habits. We cut down her calories (hasn't phased her weight gain haha), and now let her decide when she wants to eat 3-4 times a day. Yesterday we fed her back to back (8 & 11) in the morning and night, but let her sleep the rest of the day. She got 50% of her feedings in the morning, and 75%/2% at night. It's confusing, so let's just say she isn't ready to come home yet.
  4. Millie has been needing more oxygen these days. Her whole life she has been on the lower end of oxygen needs (21-23%), so when I noticed she was consistently turned up to 30 and 40% I asked her doctor about it. He ordered some labs and today she had a chest xray. He thinks she could possibly be sick. I think she just needs a break from the high altitude.
  5. It snowed today! It melted right away, but really? Snow? My new theory is that Millie is waiting until it's good and safe to go outside. She is not a fan of the cold. So let's say when it starts being warm all the time Millie will come home. Sound like a good goal?

So basically I'm dying for her to come home. She doesn't show any signs of being ready in the next few days. This is honestly the hardest part of the NICU experience for me. The end is near, but definitely not in sight. On top of that, I'm getting sad that I won't get to spend very much time learning how to be her Mom just the 2 of us her before the semester ends and we head to South Carolina to visit family. I love our families, and I'm excited for them to meet this sweet baby. I was just hoping to get a grip on the whole Motherhood thing before we took off. I only see her for about 8 hours a day now, so I would hardly consider myself a Millie expert.

On a side note, if you couldn't already tell I'm an independent person. I like to figure things out first, or at least try, before I go seeking help. That's how I'd like to be with figuring things out with Millie. I know other people aren't like that (like my sister, Lani, who is having a baby any day now welcomes as much help as anyone wants to give, and everyone is happy to help). I like to think I've always tried to be independent. I always liked to buy my own clothes with my babysitting money so I could spend whatever I wanted on the things I wanted (even if my Mom thought it was an outrageous amount). I also remember picking out outfits for school when I was little and my Mom reminding me over and over "prints and prints don't match!" Why not, there is pink in this shirt and pink in this skirt!? Thank heavens I've ironed out that confusion.

Enough about me. Well maybe not. So basically I'm busier than I ever thought I'd be. I spend every amount of energy I can muster up to helping Millie eat better and come home. I'm at the hospital by 7 AM every morning and leaving by 11:30 PM every night. I want to be there just in case she is hungry early or late. This girl has to prove her eating abilities to us all, and she is trying bless her heart.

Love her. Can't wait to spend 24 hours straight with her and her sweet little personality.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Plan

No, Millie didn't suddenly put on 10 pounds and grow dark hair.
She is looking chunky though. Because we are feeling comfortable with her weight, we (really just her doctor) have come up with a new plan to try and get her to eat.
So if you were looking forward to big cheeks, sorry!

But first, take a look at a few of the pictures my Uncle KC was kind enough to take for us:

Dad is getting better at giving Millie bottles...

while Mom hangs out waiting to help.

Sometimes Millie needs someone to hold her hand,

but mostly she just likes being with her Dad.

Her newest trick is eating her bottle too fast and

bringing it up again.

show off!

I must say, this is our least favorite trick. On the bright side, we get more use out of her outfits this way since we have to change them so frequently.

Sometimes she just needs a break, which we give her.

And sometimes she just needs her Mom.

That's okay. Mom needs her too.

Her nose looks a little funny here, but we wanted to show those sweet little lips. She is so good at puckering up!

If there is one thing Millie loves, it's for her Dad to wash her hair!

She is getting so round!

Look how rich and colorful her room looks!

We managed to give this preemie outfit one last go-round.

Would you look at that view.

She loves her new hot pink blanket!

He's so good.

I think we wore her out.

On with the plan.

Newborn babies eat between 1-2 ounces at each feeding. Millie eats close to 2, so on the higher end of the range. She also gets protein powder and fortifier to give her extra calories. She eats on a strict schedule of every 3 hours. This is all a little different than a healthy newborn.

Our doctor wants to try giving Millie a little less food at each feeding, and possibly lower her calories. Yes, put her on a diet.

We are also going to wait for her to wake up and cry for food before we start feeding her (at least when I go in to nurse her or Buck to give her a bottle).

Hopefully with these changes we will give Millie a chance to get hungry and put more effort in eating. As soon as she can eat we are running, not walking, out the door!

So here you have it. The new plan starts today, so wish us luck!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Millie's Eyes

I realized yesterday when my Aunt Gretchen stopped by my office that I haven't updated y'all at all on Millie's eyes! I'm so sorry. After all of that worry I put you through, too!

I wish I had more of an update than I do. She has had 2 eye exams since her surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago. Both doctors think her eyes are looking like they would expect them to. So that's good news! Her doctor is planning a (maybe final?) follow up in two weeks. Then (hopefully) she will be finished with the ROP.

Millie had a fab St. Patrick's Day! She got to meet her Uncle KC who took loads of pictures and videos to bring back to his family (and share with us). Buck gave her a bottle last night and she did pretty good. We later figured out that was because the bottle nipple was flowing a little too Millie threw it up all over her daddy! Thank heavens he has cat-like reflexes so he managed to walk away as clean as he arrived. Daddy instinct!

On other news, I start maternity leave tomorrow! Hooray! Now I can focus all my efforts on getting Millie home.

Here's to Millie's homecoming! (whenever that might be)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Today WAS the Day!

Does she look like she's enjoying the hospital a little too much to you?
Yes, I forced her into a green outfit this morning.

And it's hard to believe, but even she's getting a little tired of the Barbie pictures.
I think since today she is "40 weeks" I will start taking them monthly instead of weekly.
She did have these adorable bloomers that went with this dress I was going to show off, but somebody had a blowout.

She is such an easy baby to love.

The Good Stuff:
  1. Millie can officially be born now haha! Today was my due date.
  2. This little chunker is weighing in at just under 7 pounds! She has basically caught up to all those other kids that got to cook a little longer. She is so beautifully round that we keep getting complements from her nurses on her plumpness. A fat baby is what I've always dreamed of.
  3. She is just about ready for her 4 month old vaccines. We were supposed to get them two nights ago, but I talked them into holding off to avoid messing up her good eating streak.
  4. Well that was pointless! She is back to not eating really. Yesterday she ate 13, 5, and 24 grams. She needs 54. Today she ate 13.
  5. Millie is no longer being seen by the NICU doctors. She gets a visit from her Pediatrician every morning. He's great and we're very glad we picked him.
  6. She is receiving Synagis shots to protect her from RSV. These shots are something typically only high risk babies get because they cost $1,000-2,000 per shot...and she gets 5! RSV is a big deal, and we were really worried about it. If your baby gets it twice before they are 2 years old, they will most likely be asthmatic. Our Pediatrician says he has never seen a baby get RSV that has had at least 2 of these shots. Hot dog!

Things are moving a little slow, and we know they really need Millie's room for other babies. No one is pressuring us out the door, but we are dying to be gone! Yesterday, after I finished feeding Millie those 5 grams, our Nurse asked if I was taking Millie home on a feeding pump. I said, "No. She is just turning 40 weeks tomorrow, so I think she just needs a little more time." She replied, "Oh. It must just have been a rumor then." Haha! You think we're wearing out our welcome? We really don't feel like we are, and I'm betting she had us confused with another baby that is leaving Friday on one. (We will miss you Jamie and Norah!) Buck and I talked about it and we both feel comfortable taking her home on a feeding pump if we need to, but we would prefer to try her on all bottles first. We are starting that tonight to see if she does better. The less equipment we have, the better!

This is going to sound strange, but it is finally sinking in that we have a premature baby. It's been a big reality check seeing so many people give birth and then bring their babies home. Those babies eat and breathe just fine. I think it's hard because we are finally at our due date and she is still in there. She has overcome so much more than full term, healthy babies have to, so I am happy to give her all the slack she needs. It's just a little sad.

My sister, Lani, is about to have her baby any day now. I hope to bring Millie home by the time Lani brings her baby home, but to keep my spirits up my new goal date is Easter. Simply because this girl has a beautiful Easter Dress. What good Southern Girl doesn't?

Monday, March 15, 2010

If You Have Some Spare Time...

AND love the Bagwell family, would you mind going HERE and watching this video for Buck? For one of his classes each group had to create a YouTube video about this accounting principle. The group with the highest rating wins!

Be sure to give him a good amount of stars! (stars are all that counts by the way)

Thank you!

P.S. I was getting ready to load all of my Millie pictures on Facebook Friday night when my hard drive crashed! Blogging is going to be a little more difficult for me, but I promise I will fix it soon. I'm actually a little bit excited to learn how to replace a hard drive, isn't that nerdy?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Almost There!

Sweet little girl waving at her adoring fans!
Don't you love her new tutu and headband (and round belly, while we're at it)?

We've got a "newborn" on our hands!
(at least that's what the tag in her dress says)

Now that she's recovered from her surgery, she's such a happy baby!

"Mom, can I come home with you?"
Soon Millie, soon.

What's New:
  1. Millie is cuter than ever before. Just when we thought it couldn't happen...
  2. She is now weighing in at 6 lbs on the dot!
  3. We are less than a week from her due date, but we've come to terms with the fact that she will stay in the hospital a little longer :(
  4. The NICU is overflowing with babies. The bed space capacity is 38 babies...they have over 60 right now. Some babies are sharing beds, and the NICU has overflown into labor and delivery, the NICU Classroom, and a few operating rooms in L&D. Even with this huge increase Millie still manages to have a (baby sized) king sized bed in the penthouse. Her nurses really love her.
  5. Millie is up to eating 55 grams. She has been steadily eating 20ish on her own, but recently went up to 30-40. She has to be able to eat completely by herself before we can bring her home.
  6. She successfully stayed on "room air" (meaning she kicked that nasal cannula to the curb) until today. She didn't really "need" it, but her sats have been steadily declining and her need for oxygen was becoming apparent. We are sad for her to have something up her nose and stickers on her face again, but we don't want her to have to work really hard to breathe. We want her to focus her energy on eating so we can bring her home! If it means coming home on oxygen, we're fine with that.

On an exciting note, I am gearing up for my maternity leave! This means I can finally get our home ready for this sweet girl. This 40+hours/week job plus 25-30hours/week at the hospital has really taken a toll on my housekeeping. And I can get my craft on! I bought a sewing machine a few weeks ago, so I can't wait to make her something.

On a really exciting note, we will find out Monday if the visiting policy is going to change in the NICU. That means if Millie stays much longer we might be able to bring in more people to meet her! I have a few local friends dying to see her, plus my Uncle KC is flying in from Chicago next week. I know pediatrics is full of children with RSV right now, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up...I just can't help it! Who wouldn't want to show this girl off?

So it looks like March 17th will be spent in the hospital after all. I'm a little sad, but I really only want to bring her home when she's ready. Hopefully that is sooner than later.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Count Your Blessings

Last night Buck and I had a very interesting experience at the hospital. Keep in mind Millie is still in the "A" side of the NICU, with the babies that need a little more care.

We went in last night with plans to play with, nurse, and give Millie a bath. We left before we could do it all.

After I finished nursing Millie, Buck held her for the rest of her feeding. I was walking around her room changing her bedding and cleaning up when I noticed a whole trail of people start to flood in around a baby just outside Millie's door. This was abnormal because 1. every nurse, doctor, and respiratory therapist as far as the eye could see was there, and 2. the family brought in at least 6 people (we are only allowed 4, tops).

I kept an eye out to see what all the commotion was, and then I began noticing different nurses announcing "Her heart rate is 32," and the like. Millie's heart rate is typically around 100. Whoa. What is going on? No one was really moving, they were just watching.

We had a visit from one of the Occupational Therapists that confirmed our suspicions. That baby was dying. Right outside our door. Right next to Millie.

Needless to say we lost it. We kissed our sweet baby goodnight and headed home. We couldn't stick around and wait.

The worst part? That baby was 24 weeks gestation and a few days old. Millie was 23. As far as we know, that is the 2nd 24 weeker to pass away since Millie was born. They haven't had any other 23 weekers since Millie.

We even knew that baby's name. Today, we're counting our blessings.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

BIG Surprise!

Up until Thursday afternoon Millie looked like this...

(that's 2 head IV's and 2 tubes down her throat)

Since her eyes are still healing, we've been keeping her room as dark as possible. Without light you can't take good pictures, so you will have to make due with poor videos.

Millie is now audibly crying. Click HERE to see proof.

Click HERE to see Millie's big surprise. At least big to us :)

Here is one proud Momma!

That's right folks...we were planning on hauling around an oxygen tank everywhere we go for the next few months. Wish I could say I'm glad to see that go!

Is this girl an overachiever or what?

For some of you out there, tomorrow is Fast Sunday. While we are so happy with Millie's progress, we know there is still a very real chance Millie's eyes might need some more help. We would love it if you would consider adding Millie to your fasting tomorrow.

Hope y'all enjoyed the surprise as much as we did!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Quick Update

I just wanted to give everyone a quick update, but before we get to that enjoy some pictures from Millie's 3 Month Birthday!

The surgery went well, and the doctor was very pleased with his work...always a good sign if you ask me!

We love our eye doctor, but sometimes he is a little unclear with things. It turns out we misunderstood our original conversation. Remember how I was worried about waiting a week to see if the surgery worked? Well now it looks like it will take up to a month!

  • The good news is that we won't have to stay in the hospital waiting around on her eyes anymore. All she needs to do now is eat all on her own and then we can bring her home! We can just set up appointments and take her to the eye doctor like normal people.
  • Millie doesn't look anything like those pictures above at the moment. She is still in a great deal of pain so she isn't moving much and is letting the ventilator breath for her. Can you blame her? We are thinking things will start looking better around the 24 hour mark. We took a picture of her as a big baby on the ventilator with all the IV's, but that will have to come in another post.
  • Remember when Millie had her heart surgery? It is called a PDA. Last night a baby right next to her had the same surgery at the same time as her eye surgery! It was a crazy night for the NICU. We were thankful to be able to spend time with the parents of the other baby and share with them a parent perspective on the heart surgery. Everything went well for both babies thankfully.
  • I'm feeling much better about the whole situation. You'd think it would be worse waiting a whole month, but strangely enough I feel better. I know that is a result of much prayer on our behalf. Thank you so much for asking heaven to pour down blessings on our little family.
  • We have received so much support from our friends and family. Last night I received the sweetest, most concerned email from my young cousin Elle. It brought a few tears to my eyes to hear how upset she was for Millie. Buck's sisters family endured hours in the waiting room just to offer us support. We appreciate it all, thank you.

P.S. I did bullet points because blogger keeps messing up my spacing and I don't have time to research how to fix it. Anyone know how to keep the spacing the way I set it when I hit publish? It's hard to read when it's all smooshed!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back on the Roller Coaster...Statistically Speaking

Let me just warn you, if you're enjoying my positive outlook on things you should probably skip this post. I'm feeling a little down today.
Millie is so pretty. So pretty in fact, that she was asked to pose with this green thing for a picture that will be used to help raise money for the NICU at a Gala here in March.
Take a good look at those eyes...

Because it's official...Millie is having eye surgery today. We just found out late last night.
Basically her retinas are trying to finish forming (her peripheral vision) but there is some scar tissue preventing them from growing like they should. That makes the veins mad so they keep trying, and if they aren't stopped they could completely detach her retinas. Detached retinas equals blindness.
So to combat the veins, we are trying laser eye surgery. I say trying because there is a chance it might not stop the veins like it should. A 20% chance it might not.
So what? There is an 80% chance it will work. 80% is great. Well today I can't stop thinking about that 20%. Boo.
Babies have a 12% chance of being born prematurely.
There was a tiny chance Millie's vocal cord could be damaged from her heart surgery.
On the other hand, babies born at 23 weeks gestation have an 18% chance of surviving.
Oh Millie, you are a miracle.
I have a 20% chance of having my next baby be born prematurely.
By the way, if her retina detaches there are surgeries we could look into to re-attach them. It would involve open-eye surgery. Of course we haven't discussed this with our doctor yet because there is an 80% chance this will work. But in the back of my mind, I know that blindness is a possibility.
I love this little girl. I want the best for her. We couldn't have a better doctor to preform the surgery. She has already proven to be the "A" student. I'm trying to be positive.
So the surgery is tonight. Please keep Millie and her doctor in your prayers. Buck and Millie's Uncle Geoff gave Millie a blessing last night. I know everything will work out, I'm just feeling down. The worst part is that we have to wait a week (a WHOLE week) to see if the surgery worked. I don't want to be grumpy for a WHOLE week! And it will be a few days before we can hold her again.

The best part is that most of her vision has developed. She will only be losing a tiny bit! Also once this eye thing is behind us, we can just work on feeding and bringing her home. She has been nursing wonderfully, so I will be happy to know we are moving a week.
Thank you for your kind words and prayers in our behalf. Sorry for the negative post, but I'm entitled to one, right?