Friday, December 24, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Birthday Party!

We celebrated B's 1st birthday with friends and family and it was so much fun. B enjoyed his cake... although he was skeptical.

He is starting to crawl and constantly wants to pull up on mom. We are certain he will walk before he crawls! I have tried some solids (actual solids) which have resulted in projectile barf so we are taking some time off from the next step.

Friday, December 3, 2010

One Year Later

It is amazing that a year has already gone by. It is hard to think about where we were a year ago because it was such a difficult place. However, when I think about what a miracle our little boy is and the trials he went through to get here I am overwhelmed in the best way. A few pics of the little man and his journey towards turning 1. Happy Birthday B.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Football Fanatic


Our little man got decked out for the game Thursday and yes he is still a torn fan..... however, he is leaning towards Aggies or Horned Frogs this year.... I cannot blame him!


He is a whopping 22 pounds! I call him my bucket of lead, kid is giving mom some biceps! No crawling but lots of good efforts. He broke a tooth so he is not the happiest camper at times but he really is a love given the circumstances! A tooth pic will come once it is more visible. Right now you can only catch a look if he is laughing or a feel if you stick your finger in his mouth.

He spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with Uncle Scott, Geoff, Brent, Aunt Sue, Grandpa Bob, Gammy, Papaw Betts, Nana, and even Great Grandpa Betts! All that was missing was Ama and Poppa Godley but we will see them at Christmas. He has attempted all foods and on to some real solids which include pasta noodles and bananas. Does not help mom has a fear of choking which is slowing my urgency to introduce food that is not pureed!

We celebrate his 1st birthday with family and friends next Saturday so stay tuned for pics. Love to you all who continue to follow his journey. He is an amazing little boy and I hope you all get a chance to meet him as he is the best part of my life along with my sweet husband. :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Did You Say...

Da Da? Yes. B had his first words and it is "dada". I look at him constantly and say "mama" and he looks right at me and says, "dada". Kind of wonderful and at the same time I think... do you know what "mama" did to get you into this world! :) :)

He is motoring around on his walker all the time and moves with so much intent! He is an independent attitude and I already see the rebel developing. He is also obsessed with Daisy our dog! He stalks her in his walker and once he gets close to her he reaches for her, opens his mouth and proceeds to let her lick him everywhere! That is until I see what is going on and yell at the dog. Hope this habit breaks.

He is also eating well and insists on helping us feed him. our friend V was over and took her turn feeding him. You be the judge but I think he has a crush.... he is torn between Daisy and V :)


Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Little Smurf

So I call Braden many things, B, Mr Man, Bug, Boo Boo, Papa, Angel, and my personal favorite, Smurf. Why? Do most of the other nicknames make much sense either? No reason. But it was the inspiration for his Halloween costume and also the reason I "voluntold" my husband we would dress as a smurf family.... at our work party. He was such a good sport. While a very quick trip to the party we managed to look completely ridiculous and get plenty of laughs from people.
On a more serious note, today marks one year exactly from when my water broke. Wow, what a difference a year makes. That experience felt like an eternity and it is amazing how long ago it already feels. Our boy is so strong and thriving and we are so grateful to all of you who still follow this blog and keep track of his progress and the true miracle he has become.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Look Ma No Hands


Braden is continuing to do so great. He has finally discovered his tummy at night and almost immediately flips over to it for his 12-13 hours rest at bed time... yes we know we are lucky.

He is eating all sorts of things including anything in his reach. He loves his car keys and is already asking about his wheels when he turns 16.

We just celebrated the marriage of Brian's brother to my wonderful sister-in-law Suzanne. B was at home but he got to hang with the family including his great grandpa over the course of the weekend (yes there are FOUR generations of Betts boys walking around).


He reaches with intent and is really such a joy. All his blood work came back normal and now we are just keeping up on shots to keep him protected from all the kiddo viruses flying around.

He is still as stocky as ever, hence the crazy amount of rolls in his first picture.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Braden Taste Test


Braden weighs 20lbs 9oz and eats everything we put in front of him. Lately anything he can get into his hands goes immediately into his mouth. I call it the Braden taste test. It is hilarious to watch him get a hold of things, put them directly in his mouth, and then watch his facial expression either approve or disapprove. One of the worst reactions came when he gave my blackberry a taste... guess it looked more fun than it tasted.

Braden is sitting up and rolling around all the time. He wants NOTHING to do with his tummy and always rolls to his back, even when he sleeps. As a result he is not crawling or even close to attempting. We even try to put objects in his way, sometimes even ourselves, to try to keep him on his tummy but he is just not having it!

It is so fun to watch the discovery process and how he is connecting things. For example when he hears the front door open he looks up for who the new person is that has entered the house. Seems like a small thing but it is huge to us as another step in his development.

His determination inspires us every day!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just a Reminder

With football season in full swing I went back through some pics and found this one of Braden wearing a hat knitted by nurse Lily, representing our in-home rivalry and a time when he was much smaller (this hat fit on my fist).

These pics are good reminders of how far he has come. He is thriving... looking around more, recognizing people he loves, grabbing for toys, and in true boy fashion getting his first bonks and bumps.

All his appointments have gone well so far. We go to check on his potential blood disorder later this week and then get more news on precautions we would need to take for additional surgeries or procedures based on those results.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

That's What I Call a Bib!!

I could not resist this bib pic. Braden getting ready for the UT kickoff this Saturday! Thanks for the adorable clothes and bibs Aunt Kelly!

Braden had a hearing and eye exam this week and checked out with flying colors. He is desperately trying to talk and is making more and more noise to make sure we know he is part of the conversation. His latest trick is spitting and making bubbles.... constantly at times. Could be worse :) He is moving on to meats and pretty much chows down anything we put in front of him.

Thank you to all of you who continue to follow the blog and ask about our little angel. We are so blessed he is doing so amazing!

Now on to the clothing battle every Saturday for the next few months.... burnt orange or maroon??

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Best Bud

Braden got to hang out with his best buddy Luke Panko today. They sat in the chair and talked all about the upcoming college football season. As you can see they were in Longhorn gear, despite the disapproval of our respective husbands. Luke and Braden had a great 2 minute convo until Braden leaned in too close and gave Luke an innocent headbutt.

Braden had 2 appointments last week and we were nervous his PDA had not closed properly and he would need surgery, but the miracle baby keeps on delivering with a perfect looking heart. He also saw his pediatrician and Braden is officially off the charts for preemies and is catching up to a 9 month old. He weighs 18lbs and 9 ounces and is 26 and 3/4 inches long. He is developing well ahead of his adjusted age and even started sitting up on his own this week!

He continues to amaze us every day!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Big Appointments

I wanted to give an update on Mr. B's health. We have a series of appointments coming in the next month including a meeting tomorrow to check on the valve regulating blood from his heart and lungs. An appointment later this week to get his regular vitals and weight progress. Another appointment at the end of the month to check his vision. Finally a big appointment next month to check on a likely blood disorder that makes it hard for B to clot appropriately. This is crucial because we had to postpone some procedures that would put him under and be invasive enough to result in him needing a blood transfusion to help with the procedures.

So, fingers crossed all these appointments are just details and more milestones we can move beyond. That said, it has been awhile since we have had a reason to be nervous, but I am staying positive that this will just be more boxes we can check off the list.





Saturday, August 7, 2010

Three Amigos


Been meaning to get around to this post for a few weeks. These are 3 miracle babies who we met while in the NICU. We have Mr. Will on the far right and he is so happy and chill all the time. We have Mr. Reece in the middle who many of you know spent twice as long int he NICU as Braden and had quite the roller coaster ride but is doing great. Then we have Mr. B on the far left. They are all intently looking at Reece's mommy Kate who was making really funny noises.

B is doing really good. Sleeping and eating well. We survived our first trip out of town to Houston to see cousin Emily. She is so beautiful and loved meeting baby Braden. He also spent his first sleepover with Nana and Pawpaw while Brian and I worked the busiest week of the year, NIWeek.

He is still not rolling over and frankly hates being on his belly all together. He is getting stronger at sitting up and if he could walk/run he would!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Open Wide

Braden has had some great firsts this week including swimming in the pool, grabbing for things with intent, and starting to eat a variety of foods which must be helping his almost 17 pound frame!

He is moving through the veggie group fast and furious. Some have been bigger hits than others. For example he LOVES sweet potatoes. As for peas, the jury is still out... see for yourself in the video. It is also quite the messy experience but so wonderful to watch him get better and better with each feed. Moving on to fruits this week!


video

Monday, July 12, 2010

Help Me Help You

Our sweet little man is so big and strong. He weighs 16 lbs and 12 oz. He passed the 7 month/4 month marker... a vague age that blurs more and more each day as he grows. He is moving to formula and veggies this week.

Almost every day he does something that makes me realize he has such a strong will and sense of intent. He gets frustrated that his physical body is not quite ready to do what his mind is trying so hard to make happen.

For example if this kid could walk yesterday he would have. He continues to want to stand, bounce around in his jumparoo and push himself around on his walker. When eating his bottle he wants to help hold it so bad but little does he realize he is pushing it out of his mouth more than into his mouth. When we give him solids he raises his hands to help and puts them in his mouth, only to pull out about 90% of what I put in.

All these moments crack us up and every now and then we get a few giggles out of B. A special moment between Dad and Mr. B included in the video below.


video

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Cuter

Lately Braden has started imitating our sounds and actions which apparently includes sticking out our tongues. Braden loves to talk and sing with us. Good thing he is unaffected by our inability to carry a tune.

He wants nothing to do with laying around and all he wants to do is have us help him stand, stand, and stand! He facial expressions when he gets a different view of his world are priceless.

We are so fortunate he is sleeping 10 hrs a night and he continues to gain weight at 15 1/2 pounds. He is an absolute joy and we are so lucky to have a smiley baby loving life!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Solid as a Rock

Braden continues to thrive and we attempted semi-solid food tonight by mixing rice cereal with milk. This is the first time B has taken food other than from the bottle and needless to say he did a great job!


video


B was rooting for the Ags and Longhorns but unfortunately he is left disappointed. In fact he usually barfed on his UT outfits :) However, he is rooting for the TCU Frogs in the College bball World Series!

He smiles, laughs and tells us all about everything on his mind. He love baths, the outdoors and he wants to do nothing but stand up when you hold him.

I also survived my first time with daddy out of town... We take our first trip on the road with him July 4 weekend, fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Looking Good Kid

Braden had a doctor appointment today and I am proud to say the doc thinks Braden is developing great!

He is 15 lbs and 6 oz! He is being taken off a few supplements to gain weight but is still on breast milk with some rice cereal to help with the reflux. We get to start to introduce solids this month which scares me to death!

He loves sucking his fingers (esp the inside ones so he makes a longhorn), continues to smile, laugh and discover the world around him. He is so vocal talking to us all the time about the latest dream he had, the happenings of the day, or just what is on his mind!

Look for a video soon as he is so amazing live and in person :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Say Cheese!!


Braden continues to grow and change every day. Lately he has picked up tracking us more and flashes us some really cute smiles.

He has discovered he has 2 hands and clasps them together all the time when he is not sucking on them. He loves to grip different things and he still LOVES to stand up. The kid would walk tomorrow if he had the chance!

Not sure on his weight but I would guess he is past the 14 pound marker. He sleeps about 10-11 hours at night in his crib and as we speak I have him napping in his crib for the first time. There was a 5-10 minute nuclear meltdown but all is well now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reunited and it feels so good


Had a wonderful Saturday with my ante-pardum/NICU mommas. As many of you know we made some really good friends while in the hospital for a few months.

Missy and Russ on the left of the pic were on bedrest in ante pardum for 11 weeks and then in the NICU 2 weeks. We had so many laughs and honestly I could not have imagined experiencing this without them there cheering us on. Missy is officially a celebrity making it as long as she did in ante pardum and she and Russ are two of the most amazing parents and friends we could have in our lives.

Kate and Joey on the right are two of the strongest people I have ever known and wow did they have the book thrown at them being in the NICU 5 months! Kate and I only met the day before Braden was born but when baby Reece came just 3 days later we got to know each other for 10 weeks in the NICU as we were positioned right across from one another. We shared ups and downs and found ourselves rooting for one another throughout the process.

Our sweet photographer was none other than my most favorite night nurse Joanne. She is back from Africa working her magic at St. Davids and it is a pleasure to get to spend time with her again.

There is always silver lining and ours comes with a new family and new friends. Mr. B is likely 14lbs and then some. Doing great and loving spending time with his Nana every day.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Balancing Act

I wrapped up going back to work a few days a week yesterday and it was definitely an adjustment to balance work and home life. However, it felt great to get back into a routine and to interact with adults! I miss Mr. B but his Nana is taking great care of him as our nanny and she even sends me email updates of how he is doing a few times a day.

Braden continues to grow and is 13lbs and 10oz. He is in the 98th percentile for his head... which is definitely picked up from my side of the family. He has a funny hair cow lick which he definitely gets from his daddy. He is still scarce on hair which could be pointed at either side of the family :)

He is picking up on smiling at mom and dad and is starting to track us a little better. He had a professional photo shoot today and he cooperated this time versus the first attempt where he screamed his head off at the photographer. He has really strong legs and insists on practicing standing up all the time.

We have taken him out on walks quite a bit and I even got him a hat to protect his face. Unfortunately for Braden mommy did not exactly get the right size... see video below.


video

Monday, April 26, 2010

To All My Working Mommas

I go back to work tomorrow and wow it is bittersweet. I have this new best friend, who I am in love with, and while I only talk to him, I feel like I have known him my whole life.

I have so much respect for moms that stay home and moms that go back to work. Because both are HARD jobs regardless!!

I look forward to the challenge of work and actually having adult conversations. However, I will miss the meaningless TV time with Mr. B and the moments where there is nothing in the world that matters but me, Mr. B, and the trees he loves to gaze at all afternoon.

Going back to work is one of the hardest decisions a woman has to make after having a baby and while I was always certain I would go...I had no idea how heart breaking it would feel.

Silver lining. My mother-in-law moved to Austin and she is going to be Braden's care taker for the next year! We are so blessed to have her as well as my wonderful mother (Gammy) coming to town all the time to watch Mr. B.

Speaking of B... he is a love. Truly a wonderful person and such a joy to be around. I hope you all get to meet him soon :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

When he grips my hands with intensity while taking a bottle.

When he gets a half smile, for no apparent reason, or due to gas.

How he sucks his pacifier while sleeping.

His constant talking/grunting about who knows what, but I wish I did!

His content during bath time, even when mom and dad are taking forever.

His looks of interest when his daddy reads him bedtime stories.

But one of my most favorite times is first thing in the morning when B wakes up and stretches as if to say, "Here I am world!".

video

He is doing great at about 12 1/2 lbs. He has completely grown out of new born clothing and even gives 0-3 month outfits a run for the money. He is sleeping better due to his special sling contraption you saw in the video. We had a 7 hour sleep the other night!!

We love how everyone continues to ask about our miracle boy and we read the blog posts to Braden so he can keep up with what all his friends and family say about him :).

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sprouts, Bouts and Ceiling Fans

1Braden continues to grow and grow. He is about 12 lbs at this point and in the high percentiles for babies of his premature state. I swear he changes every day, in fact this morning I came to get him and I swear he had more hair that literally sprouted overnight! Speaking of overnight he is getting into 5-6 hour stretches of sleep, which is amazing for us, but still rough on me due to the pump schedule. I am starting to stretch that out in order to dry up my milk and will hopefully be finished in the coming weeks.

Braden is a total riot. If he is not taking on bouts with the play gym he is shadow boxing in mid air at who knows what, but it is adorable to see him work it out. He is also taking on daddy and the nurses. He peed on the nurse at his 4 month check up last week... but even funnier he peed on daddy when Brian had his back turned for a moment during the clean up of a huge stinky poop. It sounds cruel, but as a mom home all day, these moments make me smile just a little... well maybe a lot. Someone else has to feel the "experience" of Braden's bodily fluids :)

The video below is the latest of Mr. B and his sister Daisy. He continues to be a "vocal" child, but a dear all the same. We continue to feel so blessed and are doing our best to navigate through this adventure in parenting!

video

video

Monday, April 5, 2010

1st Easter


Cashed out after a great weekend celebrating Easter. Dad ate my bunny while I was sleeping :) Even my sister Daisy was worn out from all the fun!






Friday, April 2, 2010

Have You Seen My Brain?

Wow, when they tell you you actually lose brain cells when pregnant, they were right. But when they told me those cells do not come back when the baby arrives... well, they were right again.

I do not have enough text to tell you some of the most amazingly dumb things I have done so I will give you a few highlights.

Started the dishwasher, without loading a single dish.
Warmed up the water for the bottle, without putting the water in the microwave.
Washed clothes thinking I was using detergent only to realize I was using fabric softener... a month later... not proud of this one.

On a funnier note, my little B is growing like a weed. Already 11lbs 5oz. He loves his bath time and especially loves to pee in the tub mid-way through so mommy gets to start all over :)) Love our little boy! He is technically 1 month old but literally 4!


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Triple P Kinda Night

He is 10 1/2 pounds! 21 inches long and discovering his voice more and more each day.


If reading about puke and poop is not your thing today, stop reading now :). Otherwise let me tell you about the triple P.

P #1. It started out about 3:30 a.m. when I went to get Braden to eat and before getting to his crib I could smell the destruction that was coming from his diaper. Needless to say this comes with the territory, just funny/convenient it usually comes with momma's shift versus dad. No problem, we got cleaned up and headed downstairs to eat.

P #2. He was eating really well until about an ounce to go he put up the stop sign, aka tight lipped grimace and the hairy eyeball that says, "don't even think about it mom". I tried to wait it out for a few minutes when out of no where, a river (at least it seemed that way relative to his size) of milk came pouring out of his mouth, down his bib, down his outfit, and down my legs. At this point I qualified it as a puke which meant no more food and we headed back upstairs.

P#3. As I calmed him down and we walked upstairs I heard suspect noises coming from the southern hemisphere followed by that oh so familiar odor that usually meant there was more destruction to clean up. This one doubled the first P. So we got cleaned up, into a new outfit and back to bed.
Other times we just crash out together, as seen below, until daddy puts us both to bed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Magic Tricks and Kicks

Braden does amazing magic tricks these days. He has this amazing ability to fart (make popcorn) while eating. An innate skill at barfing all over mommy, even when I angle him away from me initially. He has learned how to grab things, including my hair... ouch. He starts with a bib on normal but we look away and somehow it always ends up turned at least 90 degrees. But in addition to his tricks, he also makes eye contact, smiles, and just is a really sweet baby :) He is learning to kick! The boy has found his legs and usually exercises them when taking a bottle. This means he propels himself backwards with jolting force while we try to feed him. Tons of fun :))



We go to the doc tomorrow but I am sure he is close to if not more than 10 lbs. I find my arm cramping as I hold him up for a bottle. He is still up a ton at night and we are trying everything to make him comfortable with the hope of getting 3-4 hours of sleep.



Our little man is trucking along and I am sure he has more tricks up his sleeves :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go

Daddy decided to dress up little man and as you can see he looks ready for a round of golf! He is growing every day and now I see why baby clothes are so cheap... they grow out of them too fast! But getting B in an outfit is one of the highlights of my day... even if I have to do it 3-4 times because he has spit up all over the outfit and usually me.


In fact I barely notice the spit anymore. I went out to meet a friend and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror (big mistake). I noticed what I thought was dry skin on my scalp only to discover it was a pretty big spit up that had dried up in my hair from when I apparently ran my dirty hands through it after feeding B.


Life as a mommy. Awesome. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Bear Compare

The past few months have seemed so long and there are times where I feel like Braden never looked any different than he does today. Then I decided to finally develop pictures from a disposable camera we had up at the NICU. The nurses would take pictures of Braden for us when they took him out of the isoltette to do various things since we could not take our own. They had various photo shoots including some of the pics below. There was one picture that took my breath away because it really reminded me how far Braden has come. There was this really tiny bear that Reece's mommy and daddy gave us and the nurses took pictures with Braden. I went up to Braden's room and got the bear and almost cried when I saw how tiny it was and how far Braden has come on this journey. It is hard to describe the change so I took a picture for a comparison. Braden is 9lbs 2oz, 4x as big as what he was in that the top photo! Still a grunter and not giving us any sleep but it is worth every minute when we reflect on moments in these pictures.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eye Contact


Braden is doing great. He went back to the eye doctor and they confirmed his eyes have matured and he is not at risk for sever visual disabilities. As you can see he is making solid eye contact with daddy and he is starting to follow our voices and eyes. He is still very newborn but getting stronger by the day. He is turning his head and we practice tummy time every day.


Braden continues to be a grunter but his personality and temperament make up for those moments in the middle of the night. Even his big sister Daisy loves to kiss him... constantly. He weighs more than 8lbs and is a wonderful baby. We are blessed.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

All My Single Ladies



-Seeking female playmate

-18-21 inches in length between 7-12lbs

-Quiet in nature since I like to do all the talking

-Communicates well via grunting, no criers please

-Must likes babies with light brown hair, even if it is not growing in on top yet. Can an infant rock the comb over?

-Appreciates short naps and lack of sleep, I need a party animal that can stay up all night with me

-Enjoys long meal times and appreciation of the feeding experience, especially the drops that come back up

-Weak sense of smell preferred so she can look past the frequent, and lethal gas bombs


Any takers? :))
Braden is doing well. Tiring us out, but that is life with a newborn! He passed the 8lb marker this week and continues to change in some way on a daily basis.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My First Ambulance Ride

My first ambulance ride was today. Oh man was today a day. I noticed Braden was breathing harder than normal so I decided to take him into the doctor to get checked. What I thought was a precautionary step turned into a fiasco. We had 4 people, RNs, clerks, etc. try to take his pulse ox and all commented on how small he was and how hard it was to get an accurate reading. Well after being there a few hours and having a few nurses in with confused looks, it was determined Braden should go to Dell Children's Hospital, via ambulance, admitted through the ER.

Wait, did we mention he had not seen a doctor yet, nor did he... yup, our son was admitted to Dell via ambulance into their ER without even seeing a doctor. Once in the ambulance they took his vitals, the SAME vitals as the pediatric nurses, and he was just fine. They said they HAD to take him anyway but that we were likely victims of liability concerns in place of good medical practice.

We got to Dell and they were immediately more concerned with the fact we were there due to all the illness in the hospital versus any concern something was wrong with Braden.

We were evaluated and discharged within a few hours. We all immediately came home, exhaled, then looked for the nearest wine bottle ;)

We are totally exhausted and spent. But on a positive, Braden is born again tomorrow, his actual due date. Look for another post to come soon.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Braden's Big Sis



As many of you know, our "first child" is a 70 lb Doberman named Daisy. We brought Daisy home as a 6wk old puppy a little over 1.5 years ago. Several of you have asked how Daisy is doing with her new little brother being home. Well, as the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words....


Braden and Daisy both enjoyed our first walk as a family a few days ago. But, no, unfortunately that is not my motorcycle.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rear View Mirror

As I take a few days to reflect I think about what we have left in the rear view mirror:
100+ days in the hospital
300+ trips to and from hospital
3 re admissions for mom
9 hospital rooms for mom
36 days of bed rest
73 days in the NICU
450 minutes scrubbing in per person
34 nurses and 5 doctors in the NICU taking care of Braden
19 nurses and 3 doctors taking care of mom
4 IV sticks... in one day for mom, not even sure on the total

While we are happy to leave these things in the past, we have made new friends for life with the Cook and Desormeaux family who have been in this experience with us from the early days in ante partum, in addition to meeting the Shoemakers in the NICU. All of our situations are much different but there is an unspoken understanding and support amongst all of us that just cannot be explained unless you have experienced it. Probably no coincidence we all have trouble-making boys.

We were also so blessed to have a wonderful family and friends come out and support us in and out of the hospital. I have had some beautiful showers and have no words or time to thank everyone for what they have done to support and prepare us for Braden. I have a countless list of thank you cards to write and am facing a reality that it might be some time, if ever, that I get around to them all! Usually the baby is not here yet when these things go on :)

Our faith has also been tested but strengthened throughout this process. We had a few talks with the big guy, some a little more colorful than others, but throughout the events thrown our way we were able to stay strong in our faith that God could and would get us through this.

Braden is home and spends his days eating, sleeping, grunting, practicing tummy time, more grunting, more eating and now and then some more sleeping.

I have been asked if I will keep up with the blog and I thought, well why not, the journey has just begun.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Home Sweet Hard


Rooming in was quite an experience. We got to be with B all on our own in order to get a feel for the real situation at home with the convenience of nurses close by. It was really tiring having a grunting baby next to us all night, but it was the most wonderful noise all the same. Mommy dressed B in an over sized outfit thinking it was much cooler outside than the 65 degree day that was reality, but who cares, it was stinking cute outfit.
Braden came home at 38 weeks and 2 days weighing 6 pounds 10 ounces. A long way from his birth at 27 weeks 6 days at 2 pounds 9 ounces. It was a little surreal to be in our house with him. Realizing quickly we were responsible for a human life was quite overwhelming. It feels so good to have him here and equally as nice that this will be the first day in 120 that we will not be up at the hospital!!

Staying with him the first night was really so much harder than I expected. Mostly because you feel clueless as to what to do and you quickly realize you must exercise an unbelievable amount of patience as you get to know the ins and outs of what makes Braden comfortable and more important, what does not!

You would think after being in the hospital with him for 73 days we would have it all figured out, but the change in environment to home has definitely affected Braden. He is having trouble getting comfortable therefore not sleeping and he also grunts and strains constantly due to his reflux. As a result he was not taking much of his feedings which is frustrating for us but probably equally for him. Today was a little better as we experimented with bottles and nipples... who knew there were so many options!

We have had at least a few dozen moments where we just want to say, "talk to me buddy!" but knowing that is not an option :) we just do the best we can. After a night of little sleep Dad looked at me this morning and said, "this is going to be hard". But the kind of hard that is more than worth it given the kind of hard that is behind us now.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Braden's Buddy

We have been telling all our friends and family how amazing our prayer circle has been throughout this experience and we are so blessed Braden has come so far and will be going home. We met some really amazing people and have created bonds for life with some incredible couples. One couple very special to us has a beautiful baby boy fighting for his life right now and he needs our prayers. Please keep them in your thoughts and add them to any prayer lists/circles you know.

We are currently settling in to our room outside the NICU and it is a surreal experience, but a welcome one. We gave Braden a bath this afternoon and put his outfit on without any wires and sensors. When you "room in" you are basically on your own with access to a nurse should you have any questions.

So here we are, no beeps, no alarms, no monitors, just us.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Homeward Bound

Got the big news today that Braden is ready to come home! We will room in at the hospital with Braden tomorrow night and then bring him home Valentines Day!

More details to come later this weekend but I could not wait to share the news!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

I approached Braden's crib today to find a stranger there with a very large machine. Now let me tell you, there are many things you get used to in the NICU, but big machines next to your baby always make your heart stop.

Come to find out it was only a nurse there to do his hearing screen and he passed with flying colors. She said he completed the test faster than some full term babies :)

Now I know he is able to hear, but understand and comply is another step. If he could understand, he would hear me say, "please eat little man, please!". That is his biggest hurdle right now. He takes his feedings VERY VERY slowly and as a result does not always complete them. This is a must before we can even think about going home.

Going home. Seems so close, but still so far. It has been really tough these past few days as we try to stay patient through a situation completely out of our control. I find myself getting frustrated and then overwhelmed with guilt for feeling that way when this little man has come so far so fast. It is an emotional roller coaster but he is worth every moment.

Home might be a week or so away, it really depends on how he does these next few days. But all good things come to those who wait... and he is worth waiting for :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Look Ma, No Cannula!



It is official! Braden is cannula free and off oxygen support.... again! Hopefully third time is the charm. It was removed twice before but only for a few hours as his blood oxygenation would drop when he ate or slept. But this time it has been out since mid-afternoon of February 3rd so fingers crossed this is it!

Many have asked, so when is he coming home?! Well, that is the tricky part. He has to be off the cannula for at least 5 days before they will stop giving him his caffeine supplement which helps prevent apnea - where he forgets to breathe and all kinds of crazy alarms go off around your child.

During this time he has to figure out how to EAT!! You will see he still has a bright orange tube in his nose that they push food through into his belly. He is taking up to 6 bottles a day but only finishing half the portion at times. Goal is to get to 8 bottles and finish every one, every time. We know he has it in him as he took a full feed for dad last night, but consistency is key to getting us out of the NICU!

This progress has led to me stepping on the gas a bit to get things ready for home as well as take some health and safety classes like CPR to prepare for the wild ride that is parenting!

The new digs have not been so bad as they moved us to a different bed in the unit with a little more privacy. But no complaints here as the babies in our newer area are shipped home on almost a daily basis... our turn is coming!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Moving on Up... or Not

Braden hit the 6 pound milestone and is gaining each day. In fact he is doing so well they moved him to the other side of the NICU. Lucky bed #13....


Well moving is not all it is cracked up to be...


Old bed: right next to nurse station
New bed: right next to .... well nothing, other than the doorway where every person coming in and out goes by


Old bed: cozy in a private corner with calming dim lighting
New bed: a cramped space with barely enough room for 2 chairs in a bunch of bright lighting, and oh the curtain does not close so I can put on a show when pumping or breast feeding (we put in a request for a new curtain or new location) :)


Old bed: nurses we know and love
New bed: full of unfamiliar faces


Old bed: next to our friends
New bed: full of new babies and parents


I know it seems silly to make such a deal about moving, but when you have become used to a place for almost 9 weeks, change is hard to deal with since there is constantly so much changing around you. The nurses say his move is because he is doing so well... but it just feels like an unnecessary change.


No major updates, just waiting. He is still taking feeds and actually took a full bottle for me this morning, almost 2 ounces! Hopefully they will try to take him off oxygen again this week. Keep the prayers coming, our little angel appreciates every one.


I also wanted to post an old photo that I just love. This is the night the Cook's went home with Kace. In this pic Kace is about 5 1/2 pounds and Braden was just under 3 pounds. You can noticeably see a difference between what Braden looked like then versus now!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

21


Braden has been hanging out at 21% oxygen for a few days now which is great because that is essentially room air. The only step left before he is completely off oxygen support is to turn the flow off. Right now it is currently on a half a liter of flow every minute which is like having wind blow in his face. But the doctors are keeping an eye on this positive progress and will likely give him yet another chance in the next few days to come off oxygen support completely.

He had another eye exam which went well and they are so pleased the scary eye doctor is not coming back for 2 weeks!

Bottle feeds are going back and forth. He gets really tired at the 30 minute mark and that is as long as they will give him to complete the bottle. He has not completed a bottle in a few days, mostly due to his reflux and the fact he just gets tuckered out. Regardless he is putting on the pounds and weighs 5lbs 12 ounces!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Side of Rice

We walked into the NICU tonight to find our sweet boy had been spitting up, a lot. The doctors think he has reflux so they are adding rice cereal to his feedings in order to help thicken things up and hopefully avoid major spits.

Braden actually spit up into his cannula today (maybe another way of him telling us to take it off!) and they tried to see how he would do without it again.... only to put it back in a few hours later. He is just not ready as he still breathes shallow and strains constantly, especially when sleeping.

We are turning into the veterans of the NICU and I have to admit it is starting to get hard to see people come and go so quickly as we just sit tight and wait for our turn to leave. Don't get me wrong, we are counting our blessings, but this situation ichallenges you at times and I am so ready for the chapter at home to begin.

We are having a few showers in the coming weeks and I am so excited as I feel like it will begin to make our soon to come reality, well real!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Little Show Off

I was in a meeting at work on Friday when I got a picture of Braden from Brian via my cell phone saying, "notice anything different?" As I peered closely I noticed his cannula was not on and I called Brian exclaiming, "Is he off oxygen?!"

Brian said when he got to the assessment Braden had pulled his cannula off his face and was using it as a chew piece in his mouth. Once again he was trying to show us he was a strong bot and as the doctor came over to evaluate they decided to give him a shot without oxygen support.

I drove to the hospital about an hour later ecstatic to walk in and see my little man off the cannula... until I saw his monitors beeping and alerting nurses that he was struggling. So as quick as he came off he went back on, but he gave it a shot! Of course I took out the video camera and captured Braden without all his gear on right before they reapplied a new cannula. They are going to watch him the next few days before determining if he has chronic lung disease at which time they would take additional measures to help him get stronger.

video

His feedings are going well and he passed the 5lbs marker!! He took 2 bottles in a row and almost completed his feeding each time. This is important because one criteria to leaving is he must be taking full feeds via bottle every 3 hours. So we have a ways to go, but headed in the right direction!

He also had a follow up eye exam and things seem to be the same as last week, which is a good thing.

So our little man is trying to break out of the NICU but that is to be expected, he is a little fighter and in the words of the nurses and doctors, he is an outright miracle.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Who Put My Baby On the Floor?

Walked into the NICU yesterday only to discover...
video

It was actually quite adorable, even if the chair swallows him. They are trying out some new positions to see if it improves his reflux.

Braden is making some progress on bottle feedings taking an ounce of milk from the bottle for mom! I also just talked to his nurse and he is 4lbs 15oz!! It is amazing to hold him against me and see and feel the noticeable difference in his size.

Only now that could be working against him as the doctors are keeping an eye on if he is gaining weight too fast... the kid can't win! Hopefully it is all protein and muscle versus water weight... we shall wait and see over the next day if there are additional steps to take.

He is trucking along, we just don't want him to become the size of an actual truck!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Raise the Roof

The roof is up and Braden officially came out of the isolette and is in a big boy crib!!
He earned this step by regulating his temperature and meeting the weight requirements. A few days ago I mentioned he was flirting with 4lbs... well he is already up to 4lbs 10 ounces! It is amazing how different he looks with chubby cheeks and multiple chins :)

Another huge piece of good news came when they did another chest x-ray to see if the valve between his heart and lungs developed appropriately and it appears that is normalizing as well and they do not need to recheck it until he is 6 months old!

On a more entertaining note, Braden continues to be one of the favorites amongst the nurses, despite the fact he is known to be a little on the stinky side between the gas and gifts he leaves us in his diaper. Rumor has it that odor will get better once the supplements are removed from his milk... fingers crossed :)

Many people ask me when he is coming home and it is actually still 4-6 weeks away. We continue to try to feed him the bottle but he is far from consistent at this point so this is the biggest hurdle we are working on with him outside of him being weaned off oxygen, which should come with time.

Thank you again for the prayers and thoughts. We feel them all and it has strengthened our ability to get through this process.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mom and The Mirror



Braden continues to do well. He is packing on the weight flirting with the 4 pound milestone. He is also regulating his temperature. Weight gain and temperature regulation both lead to him coming out of the isolette soon.

Braden also had a eye exam today to determine the progress of his retinal development. The exam is a little uncomfortable for babies and so when we went back later to hold our little man he slept the entire diaper change and kangaroo hold, an abnormal thing for him on a typical day but he was obviously exhausted from everything going on.

This was his second eye exam and he is showing some indications of abnormality, however, they are mild and somewhat expected given how sick he was the first few weeks. He will be tested again next week in order to determine if the development is trending in the right direction. So we hold our breath a bit, but again these are things you prepare yourself to address with a preemie.

We enjoy every moment with him including times like these where I use a mirror to see him as he lays on my chest. Overwhelming to be with such an amazing little man.... and a picture I will treasure for my entire life.