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!