My precious Lily,
I love you sweetie!!
It's our third night at the Ronald McDonald house..our strange little home away from home. Not exactly a luxury hotel, but very affordable and peaceful. We have our own room and bathroom, and it is nice and clean and quiet. It's right on the OHSU campus, and Mama sure is getting her walking in, both in the morning and at night when we come home.
You would think that being here three days would get boring...it is anything but! We are always juggling..trying to get some sleep in between feedings, meeting with the doctors, running down to the cafeteria, pumping milk for you in another room, trying to fit in phone calls to the kids and family and friends while we're on our way back here or to the cafeteria (because no phones are allowed in the NICU...or food!) It is crazy how busy we are.
We took a two hour parenting class today with Mackenzie, so we could learn CPR. You should have seen Daddy, Kenzie and I all standing with our fake babies on a table yelling out things while our instructor watched our performances....
"The scene is safe!!" we all yell... (meaning no fallen power lines or oncoming traffic as we resuscitate our dolls)
"Are you okay??!!" we yell at our dolls, firmly tapping their feet....(Lily- this is where Kenzie and I start cracking up, and look at each other like- I can't believe we are doing this!)
"YOU-- CALL 9 1 1 !!" we all point and yell at an imaginary bi-stander.
We then proceed with CPR on our dolls, doing 30 chest compressions on their chests to the tune of the BeeGee's song Staying Alive- which our drill sergeant sings out loudly, snapping her fingers in time to the music so we can keep pace- "AH AH AH AH STAYING ALIVE! STAYING ALIVE!!!!!"
Lily, I am not kidding you- our instructor took this little class very seriously, and believe me so did we! She was not going to let us out of there if we didn't perform. And now we know how to do CPR and sing like the BeeGees!
On a serious note, we are praying earnestly that we can take you home tomorrow. I miss your brothers and sisters SO much, and I am having a really hard time with it. Mackenzie had to go home today, to get back to work at her nanny job. I cried when she left- she has been such a blessing helping us take care of you, and keeping Mommy happy, and holding you and changing you and even staying the night with you so daddy and I can get some sleep.
The only issue keeping us here is your feeding. You have to eat 33 ml. every 3 hours to be able to go home. AND keep your blood sugar up AND stay stable breathing on your own.
You have not needed any oxygen since Saturday night when the doctors gave you a blood/saline transfusion/exchange. It is a procedure where they take out blood from your umbilical cord, and replace it with saline solution. It basically thins your blood. You had what is called sludgy blood (the non-technical term for it)...it was too thick, and you had too much, causing your CO2 levels to be too high, and your oxygen to be low. That's why you turned blue in Corvallis without oxygen. But ever since that procedure, you have been completely breathing on your own. Thank God!!
Your blood sugar dropped a little last night...but that was because they stopped the sugar water through your iv...we are wanting you to be hungry enough to wake up, so by stopping the sugar water, you are not getting your tummy full. It took a little bit for your blood sugar to come back up (or we might have gone home sooner), but after you got a couple good feedings in, it did come up great 3 times.
You are verrrry sleepy still- being a little premature and so small makes it hard for you to wake up every 3 hours to feed. When you DO wake up, you are doing great with both nursing and the bottle. I did not want you to have the bottle at all. However the doctors explained that it is easier on you right now to supplement with the bottle, because it doesn't tire you out as much as nursing. So we start with breast feeding, and when you get sleepy we finish with the bottle.
Soooo, this makes for a lot of work...Mommy changes your diaper, takes your temperature, switches the little monitor on one foot to the other foot, so it doesn't burn you if it's left on too long, and unwraps you and makes you cold and mad so you wake up all the way. Then we teach you to nurse. It is different for you, because you need to develop the strength in your jaw to suck properly...so I hold you differently than my other babies by supporting your head and waiting til you open your mouth to latch on...and then I push your head towards me and with my other hand both support your tiny chin to help you suck, and help you nurse. It is a dance, my lactation consultant told me today- we are two partners learning how to dance together :)
If you get too sleepy (which you usually do) and won't finish nursing, we introduce the bottle (with my milk which I have been painstakingly pumping every two hours for you!) It is work getting you to finish- we are basically force feeding you. But it is worth all the effort because we are trying so hard to avoid giving you a feeding tube.
After feeding you, Mommy goes to a special room to pump. I'll spare you the gory details, Lily, but suffice it to say I end up feeling like a cow, and I endure soreness and boredom for that liquid gold;) It is all worth it for you, but let's just say it is definitely not a kodak moment!!!
After I pump, I label and store your milk so it is ready for the next feeding...which begins again in 2 hours by the time we are done with everything. We feed every three hours, but the whole feeding process- waking/breast feeding/bottle feeding/pumping...takes at least an hour.
I really need to get to sleep now, as it is almost midnight. I love you more today than yesterday, dearest Lily, and I didn't think that was possible. You are cuter every day, and I keep thinking I can't believe this beautiful baby is MINE, and I get to take her home! You are worth every minute of this crazy twilight zone experience, and I can't wait to look back on all this and say "Remember that exhausting stay in the NICU?!"
I am so blessed to be your Mama, and I am so GRATEFUL to God for sending me YOU.
All my love forever,
Your Mama oxoxo