Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dear Michael

  I've been taking you for granted. 
You are a wonderful, selfless man and you could have walked away at anytime in the past eight years, but you never did. 
I know you never will, but you could. 
And I need to remember that. 
You are your own person. 
Someone else could have met you first at the exact right time. 
Someone else could be blushing at all of your flirty remarks, the over-exaggerated winks, and laughing at all of the funny things you say. 
Someone else could be the one to melt into your soft lips and warm body. 
But you chose me back then. 
You still choose me every day, and I take that for granted at times. 
I have been lately at least, in the sad business between work, errands, and mandatory NICU visits. 
You gave me the best gift I could ever ask for, in the form of a three-pound baby. 
I needed that. 
We both did, but I'll always need you too. 
I should work harder to show it better and love you as hard as I say I do.

Thoughts written on Sunday while reading Nirrimi's "Goodbyes" blog post. Photo sent to me from Michael on August 24, 2016. When I posted it on Instagram, I used the following caption:
"Sometimes I can't handle how amazing my husband is! He is so sweet, cute, smart, talented & super hilarious!! My heart might explode!!"  ♡

Thursday, July 20, 2017

GiGi and Grandpa Al

   This past weekend was nice, partly because I had a three day weekend off from work and because Michael's parents drove down to visit. I got a nice nap in that afternoon, then it monsooned again around 3pm, and they arrived at their hotel around 6pm (they were delayed due to a bad traffic crash South of Gainesville). We picked them up at 7 and drove to the hospital. Michael took his mom in first while his dad and I waited and talked in the NICU lobby. Michael later told me that while they were visiting Emma her heart rate dropped again (the third time in 24 hours, it got down to the 50's when normally its around 140-160) and she passed out until the nurse gave her some puffs from the Neo ventilator and rubbed her chest over her heart before she was okay again. I was so glad that I was not in the room for that. Although very scary, they believe it was purely mechanical due to Emma straining too hard while trying to poop (and she does get gassy often and poop a lot), so it looked like she held her breath to push it out, or will clamp her gums down on the breathing tube, which caused her to lose oxygen to her brain.
   On Saturday after a bit of miscommunication about if we should have breakfast at Denny's as planned (we didn't), we drove back to the hospital to see Baby Emma. I went in with Michael's dad again, then Michael and his mom went in after us. She was doing better and still has not had any issues since Friday night. I've been eating a lot of quinoa salad with blue corn chips lately- it's been my main meal for the past week. The nurse (Sunny) asked if I was vegetarian because that can cause extra gas, so I guess I need to find something else to eat. 
   We went back home so I could pump again, then drove to Lowes to pick out flowers. We are using periwinkles again, which I like. A few days before Michael pulled up all the dead purple and yellow flowers and bagged up the wood chips in the front bed. After Lowes we went to the second hand kid store called Once Upon a Child and got four more preemie onezies and four dresses when she's a little older. She might get extra use of her clothes if she stays on the smaller side, since all the newborn stuff doesn't fit her even a month later, but that's okay. We picked up groceries at Publix so Michael could grill chicken for dinner. Michael's mom helped him plant the flowers while his dad mowed the yard, and I pumped again then took a short nap. I'm trying to stick to a 4 hour pump schedule because that seems to work the best for me.
   After dinner we went to see Emma again from 8:30-9:30. There have been a few days where we get to see her more than once. We dropped his parents off at their hotel and gave our goodbye hugs since they were leaving early the next morning so they could get home by 4pm. 
   On Sunday morning I got my hair trimmed and angled again because it looked so scraggly the day before and it hasn't been cut since September. I rarely get my hair cut due to being introverted with strangers and not enjoying small talk, but I'm glad I did it because the woman gave me a great scalp massage with my shampoo treatment. Michael and I visited Emma from 3:30-4:15 and got to meet Cori, the Nurse Practitioner. She was very nice and explained things well and kept asking if we had more questions even though Michael talked to her on the phone that morning. Emma has been on steroids on and off for the past few weeks, but since they need her to gain more weight (she has to be 2 kilos/ about 4 pounds 7 ounces) before they can do the bronchoscopy (putting the camera tube down her throat), they decided to take her off the steroids until she hits that weight since the steroids make her fussy and she moves around more, burning calories. Hopefully they can extubate her this weekend, but her latest weight is 4 pounds, 2 ounces. If they find that the top half of her airway is blocked, they will perform a tracheotomy so she can breathe through her throat. Obviously it's not ideal, but if it has to be done so she can breathe on her own and we can take her home, then that is fine with us!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

5 Weeks & Counting

   Emma has been in the NICU for 5 weeks and 2 days now. I'm hoping and praying hard that she'll be home by mid August. Michael and I have been extra tired lately and being more curt than usual which I don't enjoy, but we're trying to make time for each other when we aren't working or taking naps. I feel like I'm rushing around, always having something I need to do, even if it's just pumping and taking a shower. The stress caught up with me on Friday morning when I visited her and the nurse (Charlene that day- she has a new nurse almost every three days) said I couldn't hold my daughter at that time because her heart rate had dropped twice in a 12 hour period. I broke down crying in front of her, but she was very sweet about comforting me and said that crying was a good thing because it means that I love Emma so much. I really do. Michael says he hasn't cried about her, but that's because he's able to stay more positive about things than I am most of the time. I'm okay right now because on Sunday the Nurse Practitioner, Cori, told us that "Emma is doing very well", so I keep trying to replay those words in my head. 

   I went back to work two weeks ago (on Monday, July 3rd) because that will leave me with four weeks of FMLA time to use when she's finally out of the hospital. I've sadly decided that I shouldn't visit her on nights after work when I also have to work the next day. I end up not getting to sleep until almost 11pm and with having to pump in the middle of the night, then wake up again at 4:50am, I only get two naps totaling five hours. That is not enough for me to go on right now.

  These are my favorite pictures of our sweet, strong Emma McKenzie from the past four weeks, since I've already blogged about her first week of life:
   The day (June 22nd) that she got her soft casts/ splints made and put on by her Occupational Therapist, Meredith. The other day she got updated ones and today I noticed that her knees looked bent more, which was great!
That day was also the first time she wore clothes and sucked her thumb. A big day!!

 Daddy's first time changing a diaper ~ and he did so great!!
   Alana got to meet Emma on her due date (July 2nd). The following week Alana spent time with Emma again, and her mom visited as well.
   One of the first smiles we got to see from her!! (July 6th)
 She only sucked her thumb one time, but really seems to like pacifiers.
 Saying her prayers. & Looking like a tiny clean greaser after her bath! (below)
 I try to hold her often, especially on my days off and when she's had good days.  Emma turned one month old on July 12th and the nurse Karen helped me with a little photo shoot!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Emma's First Weekend

   Emma's first weekend was fun because her grandparents (my parents) came down to visit for about five hours on Saturday, June 17th. Due to planning the day's events around my pumping schedule, we all had lunch first at Yellow Dog Eats, then drove to the hospital to see our baby! They only let two visitors in each baby's NICU area at a time so my mom and I went in first while Michael and my dad waited in the lobby, then we switched.
   During the whole week Michael thought we would not be allowed to give Emma kisses due to the NICU having such strict hand washing policies, so we only "held her" by cupping our hands over her head and under her diaper. I had been a rebel before by sticking my freshly washed fingers in her hand to hold. But on Saturday I asked the nurse Karen if we were allowed to give her kisses. "Oh my goodness, of course!" she told us. There was a lot of excitement that day. She also told us that we would be able to fully hold Emma in our arms once she was off the ventilator that shook her bed. I expected it would be a week or two before that happened.

   The next day, Sunday, June 18th, was Michael's first official Father's Day! I had been very lightly celebrating Mother's Day since May of last year after "having" our first baby, Shrimp, who went straight to Heaven seven weeks into my pregnancy. I thought it was very kind that a handful of friends wished me a Happy Mother's Day then as well as this year while I was still 33 weeks pregnant with Emma.
   We got to the hospital around 12:40 where Michael was presented with his gift that one of the nurses had made the night before. It was a lovely wooden red frame with a heart cut out for a picture. The top says "My Daddy is the Best" with Emma's name and foot prints on the side. I noticed that the room was a little bit quieter than usual- the shaky ventilator was off and they had switched her to one that helped her initiate her own breaths.
  "Does that mean we can hold her!?" I asked. When they said yes, I added half joking, "Well let me just rip my shirt off right now!" I had been told about Skin to Skin, or Kangaroo Care as the nurses were calling it, and how it has a lot of benefits including regulating the baby's heartbeat and creating antibodies in the milk I produce for her.
   The nurse told us that there were some other things that needed to be done before we could hold her, but to plan on 1:30 after they did her "hands on" (changing her diaper, etc). So Michael and I went downstairs to the cafe and got lunch together before heading back up to the third floor at 1:30. However, then a male nurse said he wanted to retape her tube since it was coming lose around her mouth. It ended up being 2:30 before I got to hold her, but it was still a wonderful time. I held her for 45 minutes before we switched and then Michael held her for another 45 minutes.
(PICC line in her arm that was placed on Saturday morning. They were able to take the IV out of her bellybutton.)
Baby mullet! :D
   Later that night Michael and I went out to dinner at Cooper's Hawk. I don't think we will go there again because we've been there at least five times and every time we go there I order something different and haven't found anything that I really like (except the flatbread and free pretzel bread is really good) and always give Michael my left overs. Plus since I had barely eaten anything while in the hospital, I still wasn't very hungry. About three bites into my sausage rigatoni I started thinking about Emma's beautiful hair and her chubby cheeks and suddenly missed her so much, and started to cry. Michael hates when I cry in public, but was able to say some kind words and told me that we could go see her after dinner. I asked for a box the next time our waitress walked by.
   When we got outside I started power walking towards the car, as fast as my incision would let my legs move. Michael called from behind me, "Slow down, Shnooks. The hospital isn't going to close." I stopped on the sidewalk to hold my abdomen and laugh. In the car I told Michael again how great of a husband he was for driving all over town to let me go see Emma again. He told me, "You weren't really twisting my arm. I want to see her too."