August 31, 2012

NICU day 9

Well, I didn't update yesterday because there wasn't much to update.  Olivia was still pretty sedated from the meds and the doctor was basically just monitoring her and keeping her as stable as possible.  The huge thing from yesterday (and today) is that she has had no more abnormal brain activity!  We know this is a miracle and pray against anymore signs of abnormal brain activity in the coming days as she is weaned off one of the anti-seizure medications (phenobarbital). 

Today will be a big day for Olivia!  She started off the day getting the vent taken out again. We are, of course, praying that it doesn't have to go back in.  Olivia didn't do so well at first when they took out the vent and was struggling a little bit to breathe so the nurse actually had to do a breathing treatment and she seemed to settle back down to rest again.  We were there when all this happened and it was a little scary for this momma to see.  I'm anxious to get back up to the hospital to see how she is doing this afternoon!

Here are a couple pictures of our precious angel without the vent!

Hopefully today they will also remove some other IVs and tubes she has had since birth.  I'm getting more and more anxious to hold this precious baby!

August 29, 2012

NICU day 7--happy one week, Olivia!

Today was a great day for Olivia!  Her abnormal brain activities have basically ceased and though she remains somewhat sedated from the medications yesterday, we saw a glimpse of her normal sleeping patterns and it was the most precious thing I have ever seen.  The girl squirms a lot in her sleep and her little tongue hangs out but I could just watch her forever.

The nurse closed her bed tonight because Olivia appears to be very sensitive to sounds. This is encouraging to me because that is hopefully not a part of her brain that was injured. It is weird seeing her in a box but it will also help with her learning to regulate her own body temperature. It is a good thing but different after having her in the open for the past week. Olivia also began "eating" today and has responded well to that change. The gut is normally the last thing to "wake up" so this is a big milestone for us! I am pumping at home (not a fun experience!) and she will be fed through a feeding tube until she can begin showing signs of a good sucking reflex, hopefully in the next week we can try a bottle!

It is also so hard to believe that Olivia is already one week old!  The past week has been the hardest of my life and probably the longest but also the most rewarding.  I have never seen the hand of God be more evident in our lives through prayer and others as I have this week.  We are daily blessed with all sorts of help from family and friends.  I have never felt more loved and been so humbled by the body of Christ.  Also, I have never been more impressed with a doctor as I have with the doctor who delivered Olivia.  He visits her in the NICU twice a day and just talks to her and checks with the NICU doctor on her progress.  God knew exactly who needed to deliver our miracle baby one week ago and we are forever in debt to him and how much he cares for our baby.

NICU day 6

Tuesday was definitely a set back day for Olivia.  She continued to have seizures through the night Monday and early Tuesday morning, at the rate of about one an hour.  Since the abnormal brain activity is so consistent, the doctor is giving her a much stronger anti-seizure medicine which basically made her comatose so the vent has to go back in.  It was a very heart-breaking morning for us.  She also has four brain probes in which are constantly monitoring her brain activity.
They did completely remove the cooling blanket so we are able to see her precious little body.  The teddy bear "sticker" is her thermometer so the nurse still knows at all times what her body temperature is.

On Monday, the doctor ordered another EEG because of all her seizure-like activity and we got the results on Tuesday afternoon from Children's in Little Rock.  The neurologist there doesn't believe that all the abnormal brain activity the doctor here is witnessing are actual seizures.  The neuro in LR believes that Olivia has a mild-moderate brain injury and that is causing all the abnormal activity.  However, we have no idea where or to what extent this injury is in her brain and we won't know until she has an MRI, hopefully early next week.  Until then, there are a lot of unknowns and a lot more waiting.

Also, a little update on Hannah:  Hannah really struggled with us coming home.  She was very confused why Olivia wasn't with us but not in my tummy anymore.  I can't imagine what must be going through her little 3 year old brain.  She did go back to preschool on Tuesday and I am so thankful for her teacher and the patience the school has had with us as we figure out a new normal for our family while Olivia is in the NICU.  We know each day with Hannah will get easier but it sure is difficult for this momma wanting to be in two places at once.  I'll be SO glad when both my babies are happy, adjusted and home.

NICU day 5

Olivia had a great night Sunday night and we were so thankful!  She actually did so well that they were able to take our her ventilator and we could finally see her face!  It was a great start to my week for sure!

Don't you just want to kiss those cheeks!  As tiny as she is, I am so thankful for chubby cheeks! :)
 Because the vent is out, we actually got to hear her cry for the first time.  It was a beautiful sound and I can't wait to hear it every day.  Monday during the day she continued to have some seizure-like activity that the doctors are simply monitoring.  The cooling blanket was left around her because if her seizures get too out of control, they will cool her body back down so her brain doesn't work as hard.  They will also probably put in a few brain probes so they can more accurately monitor her brain waves to figure out if the activity she is doing are actually seizures or something else.  We know God can take all the seizures away and make this abnormal brain activity cease and we are trusting His healing power over her little life.  Thank you for joining us in prayer and lifting our daughter up to the Great Physician.

NICU day 4

Olivia responded very well to the warming process overnight Saturday.  One of the main concerns with the warming process is seizures.  Olivia didn't appear to have any during the warming process but seemed to have several Sunday morning.  We actually witnessed a few right before we were to leave the hospital.  We stayed at the hospital longer than anticipated so we could speak with the doctor about his plan of action to stop the seizure activity she seemed to be having.  Basically, they just put her on anti-seizure medicine and wait to see what that does.  I learned very quickly that life in the NICU is do something and wait.  LOTS of waiting.

This is Olivia's weekend nurse.  She was phenomenal and I absolutely fell in love with her and was so thankful she took care of my sweet baby all weekend.  Olivia's cooling blankets were peeled back for the first time and we actually got to see her little body.  I can't wait to hold this bundle!
I actually think this picture is from Saturday night but it has been such a blessing to be able to pray over our little girl every night while in the hospital.  We have already seen so many miracles and I can't wait to see what else God has in store for this little girl's life.

Sunday was HARD.  We came home from the hospital and left our sweet angel at the hospital.  I was doing okay with it all until Jason turned the car down our street and once we were in the garage, I was a mess.  I won't say it isn't fair but I will say that I was empty.  I came home missing a huge piece of me.  Even though we were more than excited to see Hannah and get some rest in our own bed, the emptiness was overwhelming.

August 28, 2012

NICU day 3

Saturday was full of family time and I loved it!  Family from Dallas and Fort Smith all came to visit us and it was great seeing everyone we love so very much at once.  Funny story: my family was planning a surprise baby shower at my parent's house for Saturday night and since that didn't go as planned, they brought the party to my hospital room....complete with yummy petit fors! :)
Saturday night, Jason and I were able to enjoy some "us" time.  I was technically discharged from the hospital and unhooked from all IVs so we took advantage of that and had no visitors just so we could process everything together and spend some time in prayer.  We also were able to spend some good time with Olivia before they began the warming up process at 10:30pm. 
This is one of the sweetest moments with Olivia so far.  As we were talking to her and praying over her, she grasped my finger and then Jason's and looked at each of us as we talked.  It was perfect.

Saturday night I was able to "meet" my ER nurse Angie.  She took great care of me from the moment we got to the ER through the C-section and into recovery.  She was with me every step of the way and kept me as calm as possible during the most crazy, traumatic time of my life.  She is my hero and I am SO thankful God put her in the ER on Wednesday night.

Sunday and Monday would tell us a lot about how Olivia's body is responding to being warm and we would learn more about her future prognosis once the warming process was completed.

NICU day 2

Friday was more waiting and learning more about the treatments for Olivia. I was feeling much better after a blood transfusion Thursday night so I felt more with it and able to comprehend a little more about what was going on. 

My precious husband has been AMAZING through all of this.  It is so hard as a parent to feel so helpless as we simply watch our baby in the NICU.  It's not fair that we can't pick her up and love on her but we are learning to enjoy the times that we can talk to her and pray over her.

Hannah came to visit us which was good for my momma heart. She is very confused about all of this and why Olivia isn't with us if she isn't in my tummy anymore. But she is also enjoying the gifts and attention she is getting while Mommy and Daddy are spending a few days in the hospital. She received this baby doll from Khaki and Grandpa and immediately named it Olivia Ruth. :)

We had lots of visitors Friday and I was so grateful because it was a bit of a distraction from the fact that Olivia is in NICU and not "with" us. It is amazing how many people God has placed in our lives to love us through hard times. The number of texts and phone calls we have received, besides people coming to the hospital to see us, has been incredibly overwhelming and we are so humbly blessed by so much love.

NICU day 1

Trying to get all caught up just so we have a record of what Olivia has been through and the miracles we have seen God's hand on since the beginning...

Thursday was honestly a blur to me.  I was still pretty out of it from surgery and my iron was WAY low from all the blood loss during surgery so I now know I was not feeling well at all even though I really thought I was.  But Thursday was a day full of information about me and about Olivia.  We (well mainly me because Jason heard all this right after the C-section from Dr. Terry and Dr. Duke) learned that I had a total placental abruption.  Basically, my entire placenta ripped away from my uterus and Olivia was in distress.  Because of this, Olivia's heart rate dramatically dropped and she went without oxygen for a period of time.  How long we aren't sure but the doctors are guessing around 10 minutes.  Praise the Lord that my doctors were absolutely amazing and got Olivia out in 12 minutes once we were in the OR.  Her delivery is a miracle in and of itself and I don't want to forget that.

Jason and I met with Dr. Lin in the NICU basically first thing Thursday morning to try and get as much information as possible about what was going on with Olivia. This is what we learned Thursday: Olivia was wrapped in a cooling blanket to keep her body temperature at 93 degrees...this helps to decrease any brain swelling, if there is any, and prevent as much brain damage as possible. She will be wrapped in this for 72 hours and then they will begin to warm her back up. She is also on a vent to help with breathing and has several other tubes all over to help with feeding, drawing blood when needed and maintaining body temperature. It was overwhelming to see her connected to so many things but we know that all these machines and tubes will help our miracle baby recover.

Olivia had an EEG so the NICU doctor could initially assess the damage.  Fortunately, he didn't see anything too concerning so he will proceed with treatment as planned with the cooling blanket and then make more decisions this weekend after her body temperature is warmed back up.  (The red marks on her forehead are from the EEG.)

We've had lots of visitors in and out and I am so thankful to be surrounded by such wonderful friends and family.  However, if you visited on Thursday, I may not remember and I apologize.  I realize now that I was feeling pretty awful and was still pretty drugged which makes me not remember a lot of what happened.  I did have a blood transfusion Thursday afternoon/evening and that made everything SO much better!  So thankful for modern medicine!!

August 27, 2012

olivia has arrived!

Well, it didn't happen as scheduled but Olivia Ruth made her debut on Wednesday, August 22 at 8:11pm.  It was quite the traumatic experience for all of us and I'm hoping to capture at least a bit of what actually happened on Wednesday and the days following. 

Wednesday started as a pretty normal day but I was feeling a little off.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it so I rested quite a bit and tried to take it easy.  Around 4pm, I began to feel really tight in my stomach, like a contraction, but nothing too concerning since I have been having contractions for about a week.  However, this pain never really let up and around 5pm, I began having pretty bad back pain.  After a call to Jason and my mom, I just decided to lay down and see if it would go away.  After an hour, the pain wasn't going away and I began having waves of stronger pain.  Finally, about 6:30, Jason had packed our bags and basically forced me to go to the hospital.  Looking back, I have never been more thankful for my husband's persistance.

We met my parents at the hospital so they could take Hannah and I checked into the ER.  Upon first assessment, everything looked fine.  Olivia's heart rate was in the 130s and the doctor was going to give me an IV with fluid and some medication to stop the contractions.  However, about 15-20 minutes into our time in the ER, Olivia's heart rate began dropping and the doctor knew he had to get her out if she was going to be born alive.  The next 5 minutes were somewhat of a blur to me as I'm laying in the bed being rushed down the hall to the OR and nurses yelling orders to get the anesthesiologist and NICU team to the OR for delivery.   Unfortunately the anesthesiologist didn't make it and I was cut open with just a local anesthesia.  I felt most of the cutting but fortunately I don't remember a lot of it...and I am SO thankful I don't because apparently it was pretty traumatic for everyone, including the doctor and nurses.  The anesthesiologist did show up during the procedure and put me completely out so the doctor could finish the surgery without me screaming or crying anymore.

Olivia was born at 34 1/2 weeks, 5lbs 4oz, 17 inches, 8:11pm.  She was taken immediately to the NICU where they hooked her up to every machine imaginable to get her body working how it needs to.

After I woke up in recovery, I was taken to my room and greeted by lots of family and friends.  I was still in a fog and don't really remember a thing about Wednesday night.  But I am so thankful for all the people who came to be with Jason during this scary time.

We learned Wednesday night that Olivia was without oxygen for a period of time and we have a long road ahead of healing ahead of us but we know that God is the Great Physician and our sweet girl is a fighter. 

Thank you for following us on this journey.  I will get caught up on where things are today and will TRY to keep this updated daily as things progress with our sweet Olivia.  And thank you to all the people who have been praying for Olivia.  We have seen miracle after miracle already and know God is up to something great with this little one!

August 21, 2012

first day (week) of pre-k!

Hannah just finished her first two days of Pre-K 3 and I couldn't be more proud of her!  This is Hannah's first school experience....she's never been in a kid's day out program and has always just stayed with me or my mom so I wasn't too sure how this week would go but she did awesome!  She loves school and I am SO thankful for that!

The first day was really exciting and she was ready!

She looks SO tiny with her big backpack and lunchbox!

With Daddy

With Mommy (and getting tired of pictures!)

Fortunately, Jason was able to go with me to take Hannah on her first morning.  I think she liked that!

Once we got to her room, she barely looked at us.  She found her spot and sat right down to color.  We practically had to beg for a hug and kiss!  We had prayed that it would be an easy drop-off without tears but this momma needed a good hug and kiss before saying goodbye! :)

 Even though Hannah didn't have any tears, I sure did!  I was doing okay until we pulled out of the parking lot.  It was a surreal feeling not having her in the care and going home to a QUIET and empty house.  I kept myself busy cleaning, running some errands and going to the doctor for my 34 week checkup.  Thankfully, I'll only have few more weeks of this time alone and then Olivia will be keeping me busy while Hannah is at school!  So I am trying to soak up this alone time and checking things off my to do list!

After school, Hannah and I got cupcakes to celebrate a great first day of preschool!  She was full of stories and I loved every second of it!

Preschool absolutely wore this girl out!  She was sound asleep within 5 minutes of being in bed!

Day 2 was a little harder for Hannah.  She did great at drop-off and seemed excited for another day but I got a phone call from the school right after lunch that she was having a rough morning and didn't eat too much of her lunch.  It broke my heart to hear that she was having a hard time at school so I made her some chocolate chip cookies for an after school snack in hopes that the day would end better! Doesn't chocolate fix anything for any girl, no matter how old you are?!? ;) 

Once I got to school to pick her up, she said she missed me and cried a little but really had a great day!  The teacher said there were no more tears after lunch and everything ended great!  I was so relieved!  And this little girl was pretty excited about the cookies!

And she was really excited to show me all the fun things she did at school this week once we got home.

I'm SO thankful she had a great week at school but I am looking forward to being home with her for the next 5 days since her preschool is only 2 days a week.  I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for Hannah this year!  I know it is going to be great!

August 19, 2012

prepping for preschool

So even in the midst of all the medical craziness my family has been dealing with this week, I have been trying hard to keep a normal schedule and get Hannah ready for preschool.  We've had lots of fun getting her ready and I hope that when tomorrow morning rolls around, we are all ready for a fun school year!

Preparing for preschool has been way more time consuming and tedious than I thought.  Hannah needed a new wardrobe for school since she has to wear a "uniform", basically a polo shirt with khakis or navy bottoms, new shoes, hair cut, school supplies and, of course, a pedicure. (Ok, maybe that wasn't "needed" but it was fun after the crazy week we had!)

We started our preschool prep by shoe and clothes shopping with Mimi one day at the mall.  Hannah was ALL about the sparkly sandals, although these don't make the "school-approved" cut. :)

Next on the list was a haircut.  I love Hannah's hair and didn't want to cut it but to keep the sanity of getting ready each morning, I knew it needed to be shorter so it was a little more manageable.  After a 2-3 inch cut, it turned out pretty cute and will make our mornings MUCH better as she gets ready for school.

Then it was on to school supply shopping.  The list was pretty extensive for a 2-day preschool but Hannah loved getting to pick out her supplies. 

 It was a little stressful and exhausting for this pregnant momma running to a few different stores to get all the correct things she needs so after all the supplies were purchased, we had a little treat to celebrate. Thank you Chick-fil-A for peach milkshakes and warm chocolate chunk cookies. ;)

Friday morning, we met Hannah's teacher and saw her classroom.  It is surreal that tomorrow morning I will bring my sweet baby to school for someone else to take care of for 7 hours each Monday and Tuesday.  I know this is where Hannah is supposed to be and I know this will be a great thing for her but my momma heart isn't quite ready for her to grow up.  I know the Lord has great plans for her and I truly am excited to see what this years brings and how Hannah grows up even more.

Friday afternoon, I took Hannah for her pedicure. She LOVED it and has spent most of the weekend showing off her hot pink toes to anyone who will look. :)

Today we did our last minute things like grocery shopping for food for her lunches.  Hannah may be the pickiest eater every so I'm going to have to get creative with lunches.  Any suggestions are welcome! But she had fun picking out some new food that hopefully she'll try if her friends around her are eating something similar or if she is hungry enough by the lunch time.

We also went to Build-A-Bear so Hannah could get a new stuffed animal for naptime at school.  Not that she doesn't have about 15 that she sleeps with every night already but I thought a special one just for school would prevent meltdowns during naptime at school or bedtime at home.

We ended the night with some Bible stories and praying for Hannah's first year of preschool.  It does bring tears to my eyes thinking about my baby growing up but I know that God has great things planned for this year and I'm excited for all the new things Hannah will learn!

August 16, 2012

what a week!

Well, this week has gone from good to bad in a matter of hours.  I usually look forward to Wednesdays because these are the days Hannah and I don't plan much and just play around the house and I begin to prepare for the weekend.  Yesterday was anything but that.

Hannah had an appointment with the ENT because she has had an ear infection/drainage for nearly two weeks after being on antibiotics for 10 days.  We were a "work-in" appointment which also meant we had to sit around at the doctor's office until he was done with the other patients for the day.  Fortunately, we didn't wait too long and Hannah did great watching stuff on my phone and looking at magazines. 

However, this "check-up" appointment went from good to worse in about 2.5 seconds when the doctor realized he needed to drain her ear to get all the fluid out.  AWFUL.  Hannah was not having any of it.  She wouldn't lay on the chair so the nurse had to strap her to a back board.  The cries that came out of my sweet baby will haunt me for days to come, not to mention her repeatedly saying "Momma, hold me."  Oh, how I wanted to!  The image of her strapped to the table is also one that won't quickly be erased from my memory (though, I wish it would).  Finally, after what seemed like an hour, but was really only about 10 minutes, the doctor was done and we were on our way.  After a Strawberry Shortcake sticker, all was right in the world again.  Until....

I got a call from Jason that my Dad was being admitted to the hospital for chest pains and failing a stress test today at the doctor.  My Dad is the healthiest, most fit 50-year-old I know so this was a complete shock.  My Dad had a procedure done today to check for a blocked artery.  PRAISE THE LORD the procedure really didn't show any blockage but the doctors are a bit stumped as to why he has been having chest pain/pressure this week.  He will go back to his doctor next week for a few more tests to see what else could be going on.

Hannah didn't understand why Dean-Dean was in the hospital....she kept telling people he has a broken heart.  Sweet girl.  She did make him a precious "get well" card and she was super proud to give it to him when we got to the hospital.

Thankfully everyone is on the road to recovery and I'm praying for a less eventful, relaxing weekend!  And hoping that we can enjoy some good family time as we prepare Hannah for preschool Monday morning!

August 12, 2012

weekend of local faves

We spent the majority of our weekend hanging out at some fun local events in the area and enjoying some cooler weather.  I LOVE living in Fayetteville and all the things available for families to do, especially when it isn't 110 degrees outside!

We started out at the last Concert at the Park for the summer on Thursday night.  It is always fun!  Hannah enjoys the music and dancing with friends while Jason and I enjoy catching up with friends too.  I'm sad it's over for this year but am already looking forward to next year!

Saturday morning we headed out to the Farmer's Market on the square.  The Farmer's Market is another great place to see friends, people watch and get some great produce or flowers.  I was thankful this Saturday was a little cooler so we could actually enjoy it for a little bit since we hadn't been all summer.

Saturday evening we went to the annual Grape Festival.  It was an interesting experience to say the least but a must if you live in NWA!  We enjoyed some grape ice cream and Hannah got her face painted "like a princess" so it was a success.

It was a fun weekend enjoying some local events.  I LOVE where we live and all the fun things that we can do as a family each weekend.  It was definitely a great way to spend one of the last full weekends of summer. 

This week we will be getting Hannah ready for preschool and trying to spend special time with her as this new stage of life quickly approaches.  And I'm going to try my hardest to not cry too much as I watch my baby girl grow up....