Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Brain is a Beautiful Thing!

Happy 3 weeks to Miss Elise today! I sure can't believe it's been 3 weeks, so I'm sure you can't either. A routine thing each Wednesday is for Elise to get a repeat head ultrasound. If you remember back, when she was 1 week old, we found out that she had a grade one head bleed. A grade one bleed hardly ever has long term effects and therefore, the doctors never fret over them (grade 3's and 4's are different stories...). But no parent wants to hear their child has any type of head bleed...let alone the grade.

When Dr. Maylock called today to give me my update she said, "Good news...Elise's repeated head ultrasound came back NORMAL. That means the grade one bleed RESOLVED itself." I was speechless. She might have even said, "Are you there, Mrs. Olsen?" ha! Isn't it funny how quickly we can process not-so-good news, but it takes us a few seconds to process really good news? This WAS really good news and wow, it gave me a great lift today! The brain is a mysterious, yet beautiful thing! So thankful for the surprising, yet great news today.

I got to call Daddy on his way home from Milwaukee to share this wonderful news with him. We are soooooo proud of our little lady!

Speaking of Milwaukee, Elise's Ami is a fighter as well and improving everyday! She came off the ventilator very smoothly last night. She will be moved out of the ICU tomorrow. Nausea and pain come in waves, but she handles them like the strong woman she is! Grant was so glad he could be there with both Ami and Grande. I am so glad he went as well. Elise knew she had to be on her best behavior, and she sure was today.

Today was my "at home" day. Last week, my wonderful colleagues pitched in and got me the teeniest, tiniest preemie clothes for Miss Thing. I couldn't wait any longer...

I know it may be several weeks until we can dress her, but I just had to get those tags off and start washing! As I type, all the clothes are nicely folded and ready to head up to the NICU tomorrow. It was so FUN to wash and fold clothes today...very different than how I feel about doing laundry on any given weekend for the adults in this house- ha!

My favorite! Pink leggings?! LOVE! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Divide and Conquer

Whew. You know the classic saying, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle?" God is sure giving our family His full load.

Today was a NICU day. Daddy and I got there and found out that Elise was having a good day! They found NO infection so they discontinued the antibiotics. Therefore, they resumed feedings today. They also started some caffeine through Elise's IV today. It's just like the caffeine you and I drink. It is to help her stop the, "I'm not going to breathe right now" moments. It will also help give her a "boost" so she can hopefully graduate from the oscillator to the conventional ventilator very soon.

We sent our daily update to all our friends and family so they could celebrate in this good day with us. We get a text back from Elise's "Grande" in Milwaukee that says, "Elise's "Ami" woke up with chest pain and sure enough has 95% blockage in one artery. They tried stenting it, but they weren't successful. Therefore, she was heading into emergency bypass surgery."

Elise's Grande and Ami are two of her grandparents that just adore her and rushed to Indianapolis to be with us when Elise was making her debut. They are very healthy individuals that are always watching what they eat and exercising when they can. Grande's text came as a big shock.

Grant and I just stared at each other as we read the text again. Can anyone say "Hello God?! Can you stop picking on us, please???" Grant immediately left the NICU area so he could call Dave and get the details. After hearing Dave's voice, Grant felt the need to drive up to Milwaukee. Of course I wanted to go with him, but my usual one-hour commute from Seymour to the NICU is many times too far for comfort. Going 4 hours from Little Lady was just too risky. Grant completely agreed...

 We decided to divide and conquer this next stumbling block in our lives.

Grant left around 2pm to drive up to Milwaukee to be with Ami and Grande. I stayed in the NICU with Little Lady and asked a major favor of my fabulous girlfriend Rebecca. She finished work in Seymour and drove up to Indy to pick me up and return me back home. Love you Rebecca and a HUGE thank you goes to you!

Ami's surgery went as scheduled. Afterwards, she was moved to the cardiac ICU so that Dave and Grant could be with her. She is currently working to come off the ventilator and heart balloon. She will have quite a bit of recovery, but was very happy to see Grant. Then of course asked him, "Why they hell did you leave Elise?" Divide and Conquer!

Grant told Ami that part of her recovery will be slooooow stroller walks with her Little Lady. Elise told me tonight that she can't wait!

Love to our Ami and Grande....
G & J & E

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gray Days Stink

Today was a gray more than one way.

This morning, I called Elise's nurse as soon as I woke up to check in. The last we heard around 11pm the night before was that Elise was all tucked in and doing great. I guess she wanted to keep the nurses on their toes! Sure enough, throughout the night Elise could never get comfortable and kept dropping her oxygen sats. The doctor ended up increasing her oscillator settings and ordering a belly X-ray to try and figure out why she was so uncomfortable. The X-ray showed several different gas patterns, so to be on the cautious side, the doctors discontinued feedings for the day. This was a bummer to hear...I absolutely loved she was getting milk every 4 hours. They also wondered about the possible infection due to the white blood cell count that continued to climb. The results were not back by the time I called in the morning, so they didn't know if the infection was part of the problem as well.

Essentially, Elise was not having a black or white day...she was having a gray day. The nurses said "We think she's up to something...we just don't know what yet."

I decided to keep myself busy today so I wouldn't worry about our girl. I knew she was in good hands, however it did kill me that I couldn't help her on her gray day. Even if I was in Indianapolis today, I still couldn't hold her or soothe her. This happens to be one of the greatest challenges as a NICU mom in these early stages. You so badly want to help, but you just can't.

To keep myself busy, the painter came by with paint samples. I've decided to go with a light gray color for the walls since Elise's bedding is so busy. The gray should give the room a fresh/calm look and make the bedding "pop." Boy, was it a gray day for me too....

The first sample happened to have too much blue in it. So the painter went back to the paint store to try and get a color with less blue tint. He came back an hour later with...sure enough, a gray-purple. He once again returned to the paint store. Third time was a charm...he came back (by now it's 4:00) with the perfect gray. Did I tell you we started this "gray day" at 9 am??

Isn't it funny how we want so many things in our life to either be black or white? We want everyone in the car to be hungry for that one restaurant. We want everyone to select the same movie to watch. We want our children to grow up and have their eyes set on one major and occupation.

We want the doctors and nurses to know exactly why our little lady had a rough day, why her settings needed to be increased, and what to do to make her better. I know the doctors and nurses wanted this too.

Gray days stink. However, if we can make "light" of some of our gray days, we don't end up ruining our day.

Turns out Elise had a much better afternoon, and they weaned her down on the oscillator slightly. Her infection screening test came back as 0.1 which is very encouraging.

She also got a new yellow bow today from Miss Karrie :)

Here's to fewer and fewer gray days...
G & J & E 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eyes Wide Open

Both Daddy and I got to spend the day with our little lady today. Sundays for most people are "days of rest." Not for Elise. She started the day with a blood transfusion. Then, she was stuck 4-5 times with nurses, doctors, and finally a nurse practitioner trying to draw blood for a culture.

The doctor suspects Elise might have an infection somewhere because her white blood count is high. However, all of her other numbers look solid...sugars are good, BP is good, and platelets are also good. These NICU doctors take no chances, and we are grateful for that. We hope and pray that she doesn't have an infection, but they went ahead and started antibiotics today just in case.

It's always a little disheartening when we are so excited to get to spend the day with our little lady, but when we get there, she needs so much work done that we don't get much hands on time with her. Today we got about 10 minutes.

After her medical team had to stick her for the 5th time to draw her blood (around 4:30), we decided she needed to get her rest and settle in for the night. It was time for us to head back to Seymour. Before we left, like always...we like to say our goodbyes and tell her once again how much we love her and to keep fighting. As we opened up one arm hole to say goodbye, she heard my voice and opened one eye and looked towards me. Then Daddy spoke and she looked at him. So glad Daddy had his camera ready!

Even though we only had ten minutes to interact with her, when she peeked up at her daddy and mommy, it meant the world to us.  This made up for all the time we had to sit and stare at her isolette today.  

Baby steps...or shall we say preemie steps?

Adoring her strength...

Hi Daddy!                                                     Hi Mommy! 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lily White

It was the night of Jess' initial hospitalization at Schneck, when we were just beginning to get of sense of how precarious this pregnancy would be, that I would spend my last night with our sweet white boxer, Lily.  

Lily entered our lives soon after the passing of Lisa.  We had talked for some time about getting a dog, and we actually had both wanted a boxer as well. Boxers are pretty popular in the Davis family, and I had a roommate in medical school who had a sweet boxer.  It was with the passing of Lisa that Jess' desire to have someone to be with her and keep her company during my stints at the hospital that we happened upon our sweet Lily.  She had wonderful parents before us, but they needed to give her up, and we were very lucky to be able to bring her into our family.

This is our first picture of Lily as we drive her home-- the harness lasted approximately 5 minutes...

After bringing Lily into our lives, we noticed several interesting characteristics about her that made her just completely endearing to us.  One of our favorite things is her "mouse tail" (see below)-- Boxers will often have both their ears and tails clipped for hygiene, and her tail clipping looked like a little mouse.  We would joke when she would get excited about the little mouse that would "wag" back and forth!  Lily also had a bizarre way of laying down...

Lily was so wonderful for us because she was so well behaved.  Her only real faults were that she gets excited when company comes over and wants to jump up and play with them, she would occasionally vomit her food up because of her sensitive stomach, she would occasionally whine, and she would come bounding from outside when we let her in like a speeding train.  She was actually very good about not getting up on furniture... Well, except when her mother would sometimes let her cheat...

Lily and her cousin Paganini 'Pag'

So, it was actually after that first night that Jess stayed at Schneck that I brought up that Lily may not be able to stay with us... At that time I was imagining that Jess would be on bed rest, and it would be difficult for Jess to care for her throughout the day if she was essentially confined to the bed.  We were trying to figure out a way to still make it work when the protein in the urine and worsening preeclampsia made the decision for us.  We love Lily, and she is a wonderful dog, but she simply cannot be happy and thrive in a home where her mother and father are running back and forth to Indianapolis, abandoning her almost every other day.  We also began to fear what might happen when Elise comes home. We just didn't feel it would be fair to Lily when we couldn't spend quality time with her.  We feared her accidentally injuring our delicate Elise.  Ultimately, we knew that she would be so much happier with her new family...

It is with heavy hearts that we have given Lily to our friend Kristin and her wonderful family to enjoy... Three children who just love and adore her (funny story-- Kristin's son cut Lily out of our Christmas card we sent them to keep in his room).  We will miss you Lily, but we know you will be happy and well loved!

This would be the infamous Christmas card!
G & J

Lisa vs. Elise

Have you ever had a day when you fight back tears ALL day long and finally get to a point where you can no longer hold them back?? That was me last night. I came to a breaking point as a new mother. After witnessing Elise drop her sats yesterday, I took a while to shake it. Her monitor numbers kept flashing in my head the whole drive home and into the evening.

Like I said in the last post, my husband has seen monitor numbers drop drastically on patients. As a physician, you know why it's happening and what you can do to improve things. Lucky Dad. This Momma was just spooked and needed to have a good ol' cry.

When G and I finally got to the root of my tears last night, a light bulb clicked on. My mother Lisa...Elise's namesake, was in and out of hospitals my entire childhood. As I've mentioned before, she had a chronic lung disease that affected her from 1990 forward. Two things we watched and monitored with Momma during every hospital stay were her oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

When it was Momma's time to leave this Earth, her CO2 levels were sky-rocketing. There was nothing the doctors could do. Medicines had stopped working for her. It was simple...her lungs were shutting down from all the hard work she had put them through. Around 5am on February 20, 2011, her numbers slowly dropped, monitors shut off, and she left this world very peacefully.

It has always been ingrained in me to worry and fret over oxygen and CO2 levels ever since I was a little girl and looking at my mother's hospital monitors. Therefore, I have been subconcsiously comparing my mother's hospital stays with Elise's NICU stay. I am so focused on Elise's lungs and her CO2 levels. I have even compared Elise's numbers to my mother's final numbers before she passed. One of my greatest fears is Elise will get tired and her lungs will stop working, just like Momma's lungs. Not ONE of my greatest fears....THE greatest fear of my life. I lost my mother to a lung disease....but there is no way in hell I will lose my daughter as well.

Momma knew what she was doing when she placed Grant in my life. Last night during my break down, he was able to make me realize how Momma and Elise are very different people. Momma had a condition that was simply not going to improve. As much as we hated to talk about it when she was with us, her lung condition was going to be the cause of her death someday.

Elise is a new life. She has new lungs. Yes, she is still in critical times, but her lungs are improving day by day. Babies are much more resilient when compared to adults, so I don't have to compare these two amazing females in my life.

My tears subsided after I realized: they ARE different, and Momma made sure of it before she sent us Elise 15 weeks early. Mom absolutely hated her lung condition and longed for the day she could dance the night away on a dance floor, rather than sitting and watching everyone else dance. Sadly, that day never came for Momma...but I am now betting money that it will come true for her beautiful granddaughter someday....

Momma J

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mommy's Heart Drops...

I simply could not wait to get in the car this morning and get up to Indianapolis to see our little lady! Luckily, I had my good friend Rebecca going with me. Once you read this blog, you will see how lucky I was to have a friend with me.

I miss you Daddy! But thanks for working so we can pay all these hospital bills! :) 

We arrived around 10 am. Lil' Tiger was on her side, not happy that she wasn't on her tummy, but doing well. Her CO2 was 73 at 4am. We would like it to be between 35-45, so we were a little bummed to see 73, but otherwise, she was in great condition!

As Rebecca and I sat there quietly chatting, I noticed Elise's oxygen started falling from 90....80...70. At this point, I'm still not very alarmed, but focused on her numbers and not so much on the latest People's magazine. Then she decided to drop to 50...35....22...13. This is when the nurse calls for help and the RT comes briskly around the corner. They turn her oxygen from 25 (her normal range) to 100 (maximum). Now her heart rate goes from normal 145 to 100...83...77. They quickly get in the isolette to see what is going wrong. They suctioned her tube and did get some fluid off, but she wasn't recovering right away....

I am sitting on the couch numb...watching her numbers like a hawk. I can't even cry. I can't even process or ask questions, but I am certainly screaming inside. What is happening???

Aaaannnndddd the roller coaster of the NICU has indeed shown its face again. 

Fortunately, Elise did bounce back up after her "episode." We eventually got to turn down her oxygen to her normal 25% and put her on her tummy...her favorite position. They ordered an extra blood gas to see if something else was going on than just fluid in her tube. Her CO2 had actually improved slightly...down to 60.

Dr. Pyle, Elise's neonatologist this week, came over and sat down next to me on the couch. He could tell I was one spooked Momma. Dr. Pyle was fabulous and walked me through everything that had just happened. He said apnea (aka to stop breathing and scare your mother to death) is common in preemies. This actually wasn't the first time Elise had done this...just the first time this Momma had witnessed it. Dr. Pyle told me that the doctors have such a narrow pathway for her breathing tube that sometimes she can move it to one side and only inflate one lung. The other reason might be that she still has some fluid in her right lung. He decided to give her some lasix to hopefully release some of the fluid off her right lung.

Dr. Pyle went on to say that some kiddos only need a short 24 hours to recover from surgery, while others need longer. "I think your beauty is one of those kiddos that is going to need a few more days." To hear him call my daughter "a beauty" made my heart melt. She IS a beauty.

I hated to even text G at work about her "episode" but I wanted to bounce it past him. One of the many things I love about our relationship is that G is much more relaxed about things than I tend to be. Of course, he sees many adults drop their sats on ventilators. He has witnessed many codes. Babies are actually much more resilient than adults, so he knew Elise would be just fine once she stabilized. However, he hated that I had to see it because he knows the family members of the patients do get quite startled.

After having a great discussion with Dr. Pyle and hearing Daddy G reassure me, Rebecca and I went to lunch. I was torn at lunch. I wanted to spend more time with Elise before heading home. Our original plan was to go up for the morning, have lunch, then head home before Friday rush hour traffic got too crazy. Rebecca, being the great friend she is, said, "I think you'll feel better if we go we should go back."

I did feel so much better. We spent the afternoon at her bedside watching her sleep while keeping her oxygen and heart rate levels near perfection! Her blood gas at 4:00 showed her CO2 didn't decrease much (60 to 59), so we are really hoping she just needs more recovery time to get the CO2 down.

In the end, Elise is going to do this on her own timing. Not my timing, and quite frankly, not the doctors' or nurses' timing. Dr. Pyle was so true when he said, "I work for Miss Elise."

Elise is preparing this Momma for a life-long change. No longer do I control everything in my life. Elise is going to control when she gets off the oscillator, when she shows us another poopy diaper, when she walks, when she talks, and the list goes on....

Dearest Daughter of Mine, 
I know you are also going to control when you breathe. However, I beg you to keep that going the rest of your life or you are going to have an old, shriveled up, gray-haired mother by the age of 30. 

Here's to a quiet night,
G & J & E

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pay it Forward

A little update on our sweet pea: She continues to do so so well for her age. Day #2 of feedings went great! Her chest X-ray still looks a little cloudy on the right side after surgery, so they have her laying on her left side in hopes to open up the right lung. We know she will do it...just on her own timing. She continues to make good wet diapers and is snug as a bug in a rug as I type this post. One day at a time...and this so happens to be another great day for the books. Thank you God.

Today was my "day at home." I think our "every other NICU day" schedule is going to work for us. Although I thought about our little tiger a million times today, I got a lot of things done. The most fun task was working on Miss Elise's nursery. I am going to have our amazing handyman build her some book shelves and build up her closet. The previous owners did not do anything to the rooms upstairs. Consequently, her closet did not even have a rack for her little clothes. It was fun today designing things and thinking about the day we will bring her home! I know that day is far off, but thinking about carrying her into this home for the first time gets me very, very excited.

The painter also came by with paint samples. Luckily, my good friend Debbie happened to stop by at the same time. She helped me pick the right colors for the walls. As the nursery progresses, I will post pictures. I've pulled a few ideas off Pinterest that I can't wait to show you all. Fun! Fun!

I did have a panic moment to the day. I was on a 4 mile power walk with Holly when my phone rang and it was the NICU. We stopped dead in our tracks and I answered (slightly out of breath for many reasons!) All I heard was, "Mrs. Olsen? This is Dr. P from St. Vincent's NICU." [gulp]. Then he said, "I just wanted to call and give you today's update on your sweet daughter." WHHHHEWWW. I forgot, in my moment of panic, that her neonatologist will always call and give me a doctor report any day that I am not in the NICU. Although extremely grateful for his call, I do need to work on my panic mode when I look down at my cell phone and it says, "NICU calling..." :)

The best part of today was hearing from some good friends, who are mothers of preemies, that happened to stop by the house. I was very personal in last night's post about the issues I've been having with guilt. To hear from the other preemie moms that my feelings are completely NORMAL really helped me take a deep breath today and say, "I am okay. I can do this." Although I know I have every right to cry at the drop of a hat, when I do have my "emotional waves" I never enjoy them. Who would? They scare me. They make me miss my mother terribly, and they make me feel the world is on top of me rather than me being on top of the world as I should be. I did just give birth to our first child, and she is making good progress!

I usually can talk myself through these waves or G can help talk me through them. I feel so blessed to have this tremendous amount of support. My heart aches for those mommies that simply do not have strong support and go through this very intense life change alone.

One of the reasons I write this blog is to possibly reach out to another NICU mommy that might be going through a similar circumstance. I know many mommies have contacted me that have had similar stories as mine, and it has been extremely helpful to bounce questions off them or hear them say, "You will get past this time and look back and think, "How did I get through that!?"" If I can ever "pay it forward" to another NICU mommy, I would be forever grateful.

I hope my "pay it forward" day comes when Elise is a blabbing 3 years old...running around this living room with a huge smile on her face. THAT I crave. THAT I WILL GET.

Tomorrow I get to spend the day with my little tiger! Nights like tonight are always like Christmas Eve....very excited to wake up the next morning; not for a Christmas tree...but I do have a present waiting for me.

The present just so happens to be 1 pound 7 ounces today!

G & J & E

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Moving Away from Guilt

Elise got some Mom-Juice today!! The feedings are going very well. She starts out getting 2 ml every 4 hours. Her hands on times have now changed to every 4 hours as well: 8:00, 12:00, and 4:00.

She continues to do well post-surgery. Her oxygen level was around 21-24% today and her oscillator continues to get weaned down slowly. Once we get her low enough on the oscillator, she can try the conventional ventilator again. Hopefully when that time arrives, she will only continue to move forward with breathing support. She also gained some weight today! She is a whopping 1 pound 6 ounces! OUR BEAST!

She received a PICC line today to replace her umbilical line. Poor thing had to get stuck 3 times before they could reach one of her tiny veins! :( The nurse, Gretchen, said she did great through it all. Once again, she proves to be our little tiger!

As far as my health goes, my appointment with Dr. Deaton went very well. He said I can resume driving, power walking, stair climbing, and lifting anything less than 20 lbs. He said to be very careful and not do any abdominal exercises or running until I'm 6 weeks out. I am excited to get back to my walking...but no worries on the running just yet..ha!

I did ask Dr. Deaton about a 2nd pregnancy for down the road. What are my chances we would land back in Indianapolis' NICU?? There is a 15% chance that I will get preeclampsia with a 2nd pregnancy. However, that doesn't mean I will have to delivery this early again. I could carry close to full term if I am watched carefully. It is very comforting to know that my Seymour OBs trained under Dr. Deaton and Dr. Sumners during residency training. I appreciate their professional relationship and how smoothly everything went for this pregnancy (even though it was very scary, it still went like clock-work). I absolutely adore my Seymour OBs and I have quickly grown to love Dr. Deaton and Dr. Sumners as well.

I once again asked Dr. Deaton if there is ANYTHING I can do in the future to prevent all of this from happening again. He said my question is the most frustrating part of his job...there is simply nothing I can do. Doctors and researchers do not yet know why preeclampsia comes on in pregnancies.

Even though I heard what he had to say, I still hold on to some guilt from this whole process. When I think about how hard Elise has had to fight and what she has gone through in just 2 weeks of life, I begin to feel guilty and am hard on myself at times. There must be SOMETHING I can do differently to not bring on the preeclampsia?? I'm blessed to have these amazing doctors and an incredible husband that remind me that I did everything possible for her. I listened to the doctors and did everything that I COULD do as time was running thin. Unfortunately, my body had a mind of its own. The blood pressure was not going away and my body/preeclampsia was beginning to put stress on Elise. It does help to hear Dr. Deaton say that my 2 rounds of steroids and giving Elise "some stress" but not too much actually helped her become strong before she ever came into this world. There is a very fine line between too much stress and just the right amount for a 25 week baby. Praise God that so far it looks like I gave her that "just right amount" of stress.

The guilt that I have right now is two-fold in my life. For example, take tonight. We got home to Seymour around 4:30. We didn't have any dinner plans (and I wasn't about to cook...ha!) so we called some friends and asked them to meet us at The Elks Club for dinner (G just recently became a member). Going to a private restaurant is about all I can accept right now without feeling very uncomfortable. I am sure other NICU moms have struggled with this as well. You feel guilty for laughing and enjoying a dinner out when your baby is sitting in an isolette hooked up to numerous wires still fighting for his/her life. I know it's not healthy for me to sit in the NICU 24/7, especially when she can't take a lot of touching and I still can't hold her yet. However, when I'm away I feel a strong pull to be there, even if it is just to sit and stare at an isolette covered in blankets. I hope Elise knows that my mind wanders to her a thousand times when I am not by her side. It is my hope that my guilt becomes less and less as I get more of a routine as a new NICU mommy.

Tomorrow, Daddy returns to work again. I am going to start planning the nursery while thinking of my Little Lady all day :)

I see you Mommy! 

G & J & E

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mending a Broken Heart

"Daddy, my heart is getting fixed!"

We arrived at the hospital a little before 7am this morning for Elise's PDA surgery. Dr. Abraham spoke to us at the bedside about all the risks and walked us through the procedure. We blew our kisses to little lady and proceeded to the waiting room. I really don't know how parents wait during all day surgeries for their children...we waited for an hour and it seemed like forever to me. Kudos to you parents!  You have my admiration.

Dr. Abraham came to speak to us when he was all finished. His first words were, "All is well and she did great for me." MUSIC TO OUR EARS. She never dropped her sats. She did have to go on 100% oxygen during the surgery because they sedated her and let the oscillator do all the work for her. It is common for at least one, if not both, lungs to collapse. The first x-ray showed both were indeed collapsed after the procedure. It was crucial that they did several x-rays during the day to make sure her lungs were opening back up.

Currently, she is at 28% oxygen, a little higher settings on the oscillator, no BP problems, and having some tummy time :) IF she continues to do well with her BP and doesn't have to start any meds, we get to start feedings TOMORROW. Again, music to our ears! She will begin with 2 ml per 6 hours. It will be important that we watch her belly and make sure her intestines respond well to my milk.

After Miss Elise was stable, Daddy and I came back to the hotel for a couple of hours of rest. Not surprisingly, neither one of us slept very well last night. After our nap, we made sure Elise was still stable and we made a quick trip to the teacher's store in Castleton. Mommy couldn't wait to decorate Little Lady's corner! Thanks again to Elise's favorite nurse, Karrie, for all her cute scrapbooking signs!

When we went back to see Elise for 8:00 hands on time, I got a wonderful surprise. My hubby had arranged a surprise visit from my best friend! It was a beautiful thing that she came...I was needing her help decorating with all the teacher store supplies. I knew better than to ask G for help! ha! He is amazing in almost all categories, but when it comes to decorating, you want him backing away!

Unbeknownst to me, my best friend came for more than just a visit. She came to let me know that all my co-workers were thinking about me and sending all their love. She then presented a gift. My co-workers are ladies who I miss everyday. I miss talking in the school hallways. I miss seeing them at the copier or making those quick passes as we scarfed down our lunches before recess duties. I simply miss teaching.
I first asked, "Is this gift going to make me cry?" Sure enough, it did. See the pictures below. That is a picture of the first footprint from Miss Elise. I carried that picture around with me the first night she was born. I actually slept with it tucked in a pocket of my hospital gown. Everything was so new and scary that night, but her little footprints kept me feeling close to her as she was being worked up in the NICU after her arrival.

Jackson teachers, I want you to know how special you are to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You know me well...I love chunky jewelry! And to have a piece of jewelry with Elise Diane and her footprint? ~Life can't get much sweeter. I can't wait to wear this tomorrow. Quite frankly, I may wear it to bed with me! Love you all. And MISS you all.

Tomorrow brings another big day. Elise will be 2 weeks old! She will also get her 2nd head ultrasound to re-examine the possible grade 1 head bleed found last week. We are keeping our fingers crossed that it isn't even "possible" anymore. Also tomorrow, I will have my 2 week post surgery appointment with Dr. Deaton. If all things go as planned, I will get my driving privileges back and make sure the blood pressure medicine is still right for me.

We can't thank everyone enough for all their prayers, messages, cards, and more prayers! We truly, truly appreciate everyone backing us up and being Elise's cheerleaders. From Arkansas to California to New York...the prayers are being sent up. Keep sending them...and we will keep receiving them.

Forever grateful,
G & J & E

Monday, February 20, 2012

Generations of Kisses...

We heard from the surgeon and MDs today that Elise's PDA surgery is scheduled for 8am Tuesday (tomorrow). After getting the news this afternoon, we packed up the car and off we came!

She still looks, sounds, and feels great for her age! We are supposed to meet the surgeon tomorrow at 7am. He will begin her surgery at 8:00. The nurse says the preparation time is longer than the surgery itself. If she needs a lot of support after the surgery, she will show us what she needs within 12 hours. This made me feel more at ease. I was so worried we would go home in a couple of days knowing she was stable, but then get a call at home saying she was having more troubles.

We thank you all for your prayers in advance. We have good Momma and Daddy's always scary sending any child through a surgery...let alone a 1 1/2 pound preemie, but we are confident that she will get through this and we can proceed forward with her growth. We so badly want to get those feedings started! We had to chuckle to ourselves that we rejoiced over her first poopy diaper today. My, how priorities change! ha! We hope for many more poopy diapers to come. Nothing like poop being a high-five moment...ahhh.


As I posted on FB earlier tonight, February 20th marks the one year anniversary of my mother's passing. My mother, Lisa, fought a respiratory illness for over 20 years. She single-handedly raised 3 children, put us all through college, taught elementary music to many many students, and directed a tight-knit church choir for 20+ years. She was simply amazing.

My mother and I were more than just mother and daughter. We were sisters. I remember her dropping me off at college for the first time. My eyes weld up with big tears and she hugged me tight. She said, "You can do this. 3 weeks until you come home, but we will talk everyday. I love you." I had only made it through overnight stays with friends before going to college. 3 weeks felt like an eternity. I did make it-- only by calling her... oh, 5 or 6 times a day. ha!

Momma knew I needed to have a soul mate before she could leave this Earth. Grant got very close with mom in the little time (2+ years) he got to spend with her. He would call her after a long day. We would always go to dinners with her or go visit her at home. She loved how happy we were together. She was a Momma to both of us. As you can imagine, our wedding pictures are so precious to us. You can see the pure joy in her eyes in our pictures. She made it to Punta Cana, Segway and all, and my brothers escorted her down the sandy aisle so she could witness G and I tie the knot. I've posted some of our wedding photos for those of you who didn't get the chance to meet my (our) fabulous Momma Lou.

Momma Lou and her boys

Yes, Segways go in the sand! 

Love, Love, Love

Hand-stitched by Momma...a forever keepsake

When Momma saw me for the first time all dressed up as a bride...

Mother-Daughter Love

After thinking about Momma all day and knowing my own daughter was facing surgery tomorrow, Elise's night nurse gave me exactly what I needed tonight. During 8:00 hands on time, the nurse raised the lid to the isolette. We've never had the lid raised...we usually go through the arm holes and stare and talk to Elise through the glass. Tonight, nothing stood between us and our daughter. After we did our normal routine (change the diaper, take her temperature, etc), the nurse said, "Ok Momma, kiss on your girl." I looked up at her and started to cry. It was if someone had said something and my brain just stood frozen; unable to digest the beauty of it. Through big momma tears I said, "Really?! Can I??" The nurse replied, " are a Momma and need to love on your daughter." I didn't waste another second. Daddy got his camera ready and I started to kiss away. I could've kissed her all night long. Two generations of mother-daughter love...

Elise has a special guardian angel that is holding her hand tonight as well as during the many days and nights to come in the NICU. Although our hearts ache that Momma can't be here with us to experience her first grandchild, she IS with Elise and made her a special delivery from Heaven. 

P.S...Don't think Momma was a softy all the time...she was a school teacher for many years and had 3 teenagers of her own at one time. Therefore, you better believe Lisa Raynor will give the "what for" if any nurse or doctor is not on his/her "A" game tomorrow during her granddaughter's surgery!

All will be well.
All will be well. 

G & J & E 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tiger Goes for Surgery...

We got the news we didn't want today...
Little Elise's PDA is still moderate; unchanged by the 2nd round of medicine. We just thought for sure that since it went from large to moderate with NO medicine, that with a little medicine, it would go from moderate to small, or even closed in no time. Unfortunately, we didn't get what we had wished for. I know all of you were wishing for it as well.

After speaking with Dr. Whitman, Elise's neonatologist, and hearing that she was really on the fence as to how to move forward, G and I had a private talk between the two of us. As much as we hate to send our 27 1/2 week baby into surgery, we decided there were too many risks if we wait it out. (i.e. Elise cannot get my milk until this PDA is resolved and we absolutely want to move forward with nutrition. Did she move back to the oscillator from the conv. ventilator partly due to the PDA? No one knows for sure, but one can assume so. She is at higher risks for more pulmonary issues down the road if we leave this PDA and "hope" it closes). After we came to the conclusion that we needed the surgery, we ask Dr. Whitman to come back and see us again. She listened to everything G had to say and couldn't agree more. (G spoke so wonderfully as I sat with big Momma tears in my eyes. Glad I don't have to do the talking!) Dr. Whitman said she talked to other neonatologists on staff while G and I talked privately and all the neonatologists leaned towards the surgery in Elise's case.

Dr. Whitman was telling us that a year ago PDAs were cut and dry...all preemies with PDAs went for surgery. In the last year, literature has come out to say a doctor can go either way with a moderate PDA. The large PDAs you automatically go to surgery and the small PDAs you usually sit on until the preemie is older, if not one year old (wow!- I actually wouldn't want one year of worry). Of course the moderate sized PDAs are the fence-riders.

Here are the pros to surgery:
1). The PDA is closed for good and we can move forward (weaning off vents, feedings, holdings, etc).
2). Feedings will begin as soon as she is stable from the surgery
3). The surgery is done bed-side and usually takes 15 minutes...a small cut on her side and the PDA takes 1-2 stitches. Tiny!
4). The surgeon has done a thousand of these surgeries and many times on much sicker and smaller babies
5). Elise is in great condition right BP meds, on room air for oxygen, never drops her sats when she is being changed, etc.

Of course with any surgery, there are risks. However, we are confident that our little tiger can sail through. Some kiddos come out and need a little boost with BP meds and higher oscillator settings. This is just for a few days. Some kiddos don't need anything. We are hoping our tiger is one of those "sail through" kiddos. However, if she isn't...she can go back on BP meds (remember when she was maxed out on 2 meds and weaned herself completely off?) She is currently on the lowest settings for the oscillator, so she certainly can be "turned up" if need be.

We will hear from Dr. Abraham, the surgeon, tomorrow as to when he can fit Elise into his schedule. The nurses think Tuesday or Wednesday morning. He likes to do his surgeries first thing of a morning and always meets one-on-one with the family beforehand. Dr. Abraham is on a commercial that is aired in Indianapolis about St. Vincent's critical team of doctors. In a weird way, I feel like I already know him!

Now for the best news of the day?? Elise's nurse yesterday caught her with her eyes opened AND had the camera ready. Even though she was squinting, we LOVED seeing her beautiful eyes when we got to the NICU today! Daddy caught one eye open during 2:00 hands on time today, but she is a quickie and sure doesn't like the paparazzi :)

Have fun with this: comment to this blog what you think Elise thought when she first opened her eyes...

Here's our little tiger on her new frog fleece! Mommy was putting her temperature probe back in to make sure little lady doesn't get too cold in her jungle. It also looks like Daddy didn't get the diaper quite all the way up..she's a low-rider :) 

We thank you for all your prayers...especially as we head into our first (and hopefully last) surgery this week.

Always worried, but confident in our tiger...
G & J & E

Saturday, February 18, 2012

First Day Away

Good Evening!

Well, I didn't cry all day, nor did I call Elise's nurse every hour. Mommy and Daddy held their own today. Dad went into the hospital to round for the morning and I stayed super busy around the house. It actually felt very rejuvenating to be at home for a day. Tomorrow we will get to be with our sweet pea again. I'm starting to think an "every other" NICU day is what might work best. We will trial and error this week. I am really looking forward to getting driving privileges Wednesday at my 2 week post surgery appointment with Dr. Deaton. As an independent woman, I hate asking people for rides...especially all the way to Indianapolis and back!

Update on Miss E: when we called the nurse after 2:00 hands on time, we got a very wonderful surprise! The nurse finally caught Elise with her eyes open AND got a picture for us! So tomorrow we will get to see our little lady with her eyes open--- Simply. Cannot. Wait! We will make sure to post the picture on tomorrow's blog post.

She's had another good day today! They are weaning her down to the lowest of the low settings on the oscillator. Her chest x-ray looked great this morning and she even got some tummy time :) One of the risks of laying one way for so long is her little head. We don't want her to have flat head or bald spots, so the nurses are always turning her head, or like today- giving her some tummy time so the back of her head can have a rest. Again, if she were in the womb, she'd be rolling around and not having a mattress under her. All these little things the nurses are so good at and help Mommy learn how to be great. Love those NICU nurses!

Tomorrow is a BIG day: we will get the results of the latest doses of indomethacin and whether or not they worked to close Elise's PDA. We are going to hope, hope, hope that it's at least smaller, if not CLOSED tomorrow. We shall wait and see. When we asked the doctors what would be the next step if the PDA is still moderate, the doctors answered honestly with "We don't know." We think they hate to do the surgery, BUT she would be going into the surgery fairly strong and healthy, just very young. By resolving the PDA issue, she could start getting my milk and get off the TPN. That would be a major plus. Again, let's just hope and pray the medicine does the trick tomorrow. We'll worry about the surgery if/when we know more.

Until Next Time....
G & J & E

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Roller Coaster Rolls On...

Let's start with the good news from today! Last night Elise's favorite nurse, Karrie, saw Elise open her eyes for the first time!! Of course she rushed to get the camera ready, but the little stinker would not open them again :) We came into the NICU today to a scrapbook page Karrie had made during the night. She left an opening for a picture in the future when she does pop those eyes open once again. How sweet. Thank you Miss Karrie!

Now for the roller coaster...yesterday, we celebrated Elise's graduation from the oscillator to the conventional ventilator. Unfortunately, around 2am last night, Elise was really struggling to get her CO2 out, so she went back to the oscillator. Not a huge step backwards-- we know she will graduate when she is ready, but it was still a bummer to see her go backwards. Once again, she is on the lowest settings for the oscillator and doing well today. The "non-medical" way I think of it is like this: a woman loses weight. Once she loses a little weight, she is no longer a size 10 (oscillator) but the size 8s are just too tight (conventional vent). So she needs a size ladies, how hard is it to find those odd sizes?! In due time...

Also during the afternoon, we got Elise's latest heart ultrasound results back. Over the past 2 days, the doctors have given her 3 doses of the medicine that would hopefully close her PDA. Unfortunately, her results today came back with the PDA still being moderate in size. Essentially, the medicine didn't do anything for the PDA. Dr. Whitman spoke to the other neonatologists and everyone agreed to try another 3 doses of the medicine before ruling out the medicine all together.

IF these next 3 doses do nothing to the PDA (and Elise is still showing no signs that it is bothering her), we will watch and wait. For how long? Who knows. However, the problem with not resolving the PDA is nutrition (everything in medicine seems to be a domino effect). Right now, Elise is getting TPN as her nutrition. The goal is to use TPN as a temporary fix until she is strong enough to start taking my milk. Without the PDA being small or closed, we cannot give her any milk. The longer she is on TPN, the harder it is on her liver. Therefore, we really need to move forward with this PDA and get it to the point where she can start taking my milk. Please pray that the next 3 doses of medicine do the trick. We really don't want to face surgery at this point in her life.

With these couple of setbacks today, G and I decided we needed to leave the NICU and do something fun to cheer up our spirits. It has been a gorgeous day here in Indianapolis! Karrie told us last night that we can buy fleece for her linens so we don't have to use hospital linens (Elise thinks they are boring...). This is just another way we can make her NICU stay a "home away from home." So we looked up a Jo-Ann Fabrics and had fun picking out cute girl fabrics...interesting how Daddy is now getting into the fun of picking out girlie stuff...before, his eyes would glaze over and he would let me take care of things. Daughters change their daddy's pretty quickly! After shopping, we of course had to treat ourselves to milkshakes- ha! What's the saying...'stressed' is 'desserts' backwards??

Later tonight Uncle M got to see Elise. We are lucky that he is working a boat show in downtown Indianapolis this weekend. He got a little time away tonight to come say hello to his precious niece.

After we visited with M for a few minutes, we made our first trip home to Seymour. I only had 2 or 3 "cry waves" on the way home. That amazing hubby of mine was right there to talk me through it. The most heart wrenching moment was walking out of the NICU. However, knowing that Karrie, Elise's favorite nurse, is taking care of her tonight makes me so very less anxious.

My bed was calling my name after 2 weeks of being in a hospital bed--having surgery--then to a hotel bed for a week. I am anxious to find a routine that works for our family. G is going to head back to work for the time being. I've been reading tips and suggestions from other NICU moms about what is healthy vs. unhealthy while on this long medical road. I've already come up with a few ideas that will help ease my nerves such as keeping overnight bags packed and ready to go in the car at all times, calling and checking in with the nurses when I feel the need (I have the number as a favorite on my cell phone already!), and doing little projects at home that make me think of our little lady (we haven't touched her nursery yet- so I have plenty to do there!) I am not a "sitter" so these next few days will be important that I find a good routine for all of us (and get caught up on sleep, laundry, grocery, etc).

We once again THANK YOU for all your prayers, messages, texts, cards, gifts, and phone calls we have received and continue to receive. When we have little dips like today it's so nice to read the messages that are posted here and on Facebook and know that there are many, many prayers being sent up around the world for our little fighter. It makes us feel as though we can march forward with another day.

G & J & E
P.S...Elise says TGIF to all of Mommy's teaching buddies-- Mommy remembers all to well what Friday nights felt like after a long week of teaching. Hang in there ladies! If I remember correctly, it's a 3 day weekend for you--- yeee-hah!! Enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Welcome To The Jungle

We have had yet another great day for our little daughter!  When we did our routine call in the morning to check on Elise's night, we were given the great news that she had been transitioned back to the conventional ventilator from the oscillator!! This means that her lungs are improving, and that she may soon be taken off the ventilator altogether! This is Elise's shiny new ventilator-- much quieter, much easier on her (no longer does she have a "wiggle") ;-)

That's her standard ventilator on the right

Elise has received two doses now of the indomethacin, a medicine being used to try to close her moderate-sized PDA found yesterday. She is tolerating the medicine very well, and has been making good wet diapers and has no signs of a tummy problems-- kidney issues and bowel perforation are complications of this medicine. She will receive the final dose of the medicine tonight, and then a follow-up echocardiogram will be performed tomorrow (Friday) to look at her heart and see if that worked to either close the PDA or at least make it smaller.  The doctor had her fingers crossed, and we will too ;-)

Elise still remains very fragile.  We are limited to about two interactions a day with her during her "hands-on" times, and it doesn't look like those interactions will be increased any time soon.  Conditions are just not where Elise (nor her nursing staff) want many visitors at this time.  Her isolette has the humidity cranked up to keep the moisture and warmth within Elise's body, and it feels like a jungle when we put our hands into the isolette to change her diapers and check her temperatures.  This is what the glass looks like most of the time (unless we wipe it off)...

You can barely make out Elise's tiny body and her little red oxygen probe on her foot

We know that many friends and family remain anxious to meet and visit with Elise, but her current condition just won't allow for much interaction. We look forward to a time when our Little Lady is able to be held and loved on by others...for now, she just needs to get familiar with her parents, her isolette, and her nurses and doctors. 

Little Lady Elise continues to thank Leah Watson for her blanky!

Yes, that little bow sticking out is the long-lost bow that was just discovered buried in her isolette today by her nurse Donna.  Elise is now decked out in her beautiful bow... Our little tiger surrounded by pink giraffes and jungle-like humidity!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Continuing to Show Tiger Stripes

Elise Diane Olsen is one week old today!

We had a big day today. Results of Elise's head scan and heart ultrasound came back this afternoon. Her head scan showed a possible grade one head bleed. That sounds scary (believe me, I know), but it's actually as close to "no problems" as possible. When a radiologist reviews a head scan, it can really be subjective at times. You might see a cloudy spot, but another radiologist may not. The way Dr. Whitman described it to me is very, very reassuring that the radiologist said possible.  She went on to say children with grade two head bleeds hardly ever have complications down the road, so with a possible grade one we should not be concerned. They will repeat this scan in one week to check again.

As for the heart ultrasound: Elise's PDA last week was considered large in size. Today it was considered medium-sized. Since she is having no other complications and it's best to resolve the PDA during the first few weeks of life, they decided to start the medicine to help close the PDA. Thank God no surgery!! We would have loved to hear it was closed on its own, but even then- that's not a sure sign it's can always re-open. The medicine is not a 100% cure for closure either, but it is taken well by many preemies. As a mother, I use common sense to say, if it was large last week, medium this week, then with medicine I'm confident we'll get it closed by next week. We will hope for the best.

The doctors wasted no time at all...the medicine was given 2 hours after the ultrasound came back. The medicine will be given in 3 doses and end Friday with another ultrasound to check the PDA.

For 2:00 hands on time we took G's wedding ring and placed it on Elise's arm. Another great perspective photo! After taking the photo, I reached in to take off the ring and hand it back to Daddy. Our strong tiger gripped her arm next to her little body and would NOT let me lift up her arm and remove Daddy's ring! How cute is she?! She already loves her Daddy...and since I gave him that ring, I hope she loves me too! HA!

She also has Daddy's black hair (and hopefully Mommy's curls!)...if she would have had enough time in the womb, she would've come out with a FULL head of black hair. Hopefully by the time we take her home, she will! 

After some time spent at the hospital, we decided to go register little lady at Buy Buy Baby (something Suzi and I were going to do 2 weeks ago when our lives came to a screeeeeching halt). We must say, it wasn't near as fun registering for a baby that is sitting in the NICU as you try to look at all these cute things and be "happy." It's overwhelming at times to try and think way down the road to when she will be 6 months or even 9 months...we just don't know where she will be physically and what will be most needed. If you've ever looked for preemie things, you know they are not in abundance in most stores. However, it was nice to get a basic registry going and then ask our night nurse a bunch of questions at the 8:00 hands on time. Which car seat is best? Stroller? What about a pacifier? Will she be considered a "newborn" when she comes home or still a preemie? Ahhh the questions! I highly doubt these will be our last questions...just a tad overwhelming tonight to do something that is usually so fun, but your mind is going in a thousand directions and always traveling back to your little 1 1/2 pound baby sitting in the NICU. I'm hoping all the experienced moms in my life will know what I need!

On a side note, I met another NICU mother today while washing our hands (something we do NON-STOP all day long!) She was 24 weeks along with twins when she started pre-term labor 11 weeks ago. Unfortunately, her son passed 3 hours after birth. Her daughter is still in the NICU. They are from a town in Ohio 15 minutes east of Richmond, Indiana. They spend every Tuesday through Saturday here. Their little girl is going to have eye surgery tomorrow. Please pray for them as well. These were their first child(ren) like us. We talked about how our lives went from normal/routine to wacko in the matter of days. It was nice to meet one of the other families and share our experiences. I'm sure we will get to know many other families as we spend more time watching over our little lady.

To close tonight's post, we must say we take today's news as a huge blessing! This has not been a "valley" day in our minds. Our tiger is continuing to show her tiger stripes! We have to expect these slight dips in the road...and we will take dips like today any day over the big "Grand Canyons" some of these parents have to go through.

We want to thank the Fallis family for the beautiful monogrammed blanket! We placed it on top of Elise's isolette to keep her warm..."thank Heaven for little girls." Amen to that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our Little Cupid

We continued to be blessed with good days for Little Lady Elise... and especially blessed today with her 1st Valentine's Day!  She has been tolerating the oscillator well, doing well with just a little bit of oxygen, and continues to have good blood pressures and urine output.  The neonatologist said that her numbers continue to improve, and the hope will be to stop the hydrocortisone medicine that is being given to replace the hormones that her body could not make initially.  She gets a little "worked up" when we have our hands on time with her, but much less so than the other day.  We change her diapers, take her temperature, and help change her linens, and we were very encouraged to hear from the nurse that most parents will not participate in a baby this small.

Tomorrow will be a big day for Miss Elise.  A head ultrasound will look for any sign of brain bleeding, and if normal, will pretty much tell us that brain bleeding will not occur-- and that will be a great relief! In addition, she will have a follow-up heart ultrasound to examine her PDA.  The neonatologist has said that she no longer hears a murmur, nor has she noticed the telltale signs of a significant PDA at this time, but we are very much hoping that it will be closed or nearly closed.  If this is the case, it is very likely that Elise will be able to be started on small feedings with Jess' milk and another great hurdle will be overcome.  We remain very hopefully and definitely very blessed.  Elise has so many wonderful admirers, and we continue to draw strength from this support.  ~Elise's Daddy

I must write a little about our Valentine as well! I am so so proud of her! Her progress makes living in this scary new world a little easier. Everything around us is digs, new body, new life, new little lady. None of this we expected for another 3 months. However, we are rolling with it as best we can. Her strength and attitude (and good updates from her nurses) have us saying "bring on another day." 

Tonight we got to have dinner with our Fallis family and let Sadie and Shelby see Elise for the first time. The pure hearts of both girls made our hearts melt. You could see the utmost love and concern in their eyes when they first got a glimpse of our little lady in her isolette. We loved Elise meeting 2 of her future babysitters! 

We know Elise's prayer warriors will be thinking of her tomorrow on her big day. We are forever grateful. ~Elise's Mommy

Here are a few pictures from today's 2:00 hands on time. Uncle Jordan got to take Elise's temperature. Uncle Matt will get to help Elise Friday night...she can't wait! 

So serious...

Daddy, I have a wet diaper! 

Monday, February 13, 2012

You Raise Me Up...

As wonderful as earlier today was-- being able to change Miss Elise's tiny diaper and to hear very encouraging reports-- tonight was just amazing!  Daddy changed Elise's little diaper, Mom checked her temperature... Then, the nurse said "would Mom like to change Elise's bedding?"  Jess was in heaven... our attachment growing stronger and stronger. Just as her bedding was all changed, the nurse then asked "have you held her yet?"  We both shook our heads no, and then the magic happened!!!  We both had a chance to hold our precious but tiny bundle in our hands.

It was so exhilarating! I've held many babies-- most much larger, rarely any smaller, but never a baby that I never wanted to let go! I long for the chance to squeeze her and hold her tight, but of course that will be a long, long way off.  I pride myself in patience and delayed gratification, but I really can't wait to hold that delicate little part of me to my chest and have her cuddle against me.  What a wonderful day!  

We leave you with the lyrics to the well-known song by Josh Groban: You Raise Me Up. As you read these words, look at the pictures of us raising her up...but in fact, she raised us up tonight.

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.

There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.
You raise me up... To more than I can be. 

Sweet Dreams, 
G & J & E

I Love Today!

Have you ever had one of those days when you just want to say, "I love today!" Today was one of those days. We got to the NICU right after lunch to say good afternoon to our sweet pea. As always, when we arrive, we throw down our coats, lift up her isolette cover and let her know that we are there and how much we love her. When we went through our routine today, Elise strrrrrretched her little legs and arms out and took in a deep breath. Our hearts melted. We were off to a good start on this cold Monday. We also heard the nurse say "You've got mail!" Several cards had been sent to the NICU by family and friends. How nice to open them and read them to Elise.

She says "thank you" and gives a tiny thumbs up to all of you :)

The doctor came right over and told us how she and her team were so proud of Elise. She had a wonderful blood gas this good that they got to turn down her oscillator! She is still making great wet diapers and continues to lower numbers that need to be lowered and raise numbers that need to be raised. When listening to her heart, the doctor heard no murmur, which is a good sign. Wednesday is the day she will get her heart ultrasound to re-look at her PDA. The doctor gave us a small chance of hope that it could be small to medium instead of large (it was large when they looked last week). She also said if her kidneys continue to improve, Elise could be a candidate for the medicine to close the PDA rather than having to bear the surgery. Regardless, the medicine and/or the surgery is very hard on these preemie bodies, but I have a strong momma intuition that Elise will remain a "tough chick" for us!

During hands on time at 2:00, Daddy got to change his first diaper with a little guidance from Donna, her nurse. Mommy got to take some wipes and try to get some little crusties off her mouth and eyes. She is SO close to opening those eyes for us! Elise did not care much for the wipes. It killed me to keep wiping so I really wanted to coddle her afterwards. The nurse showed me how and Elise immediately stopped frowning and became very relaxed. Ohhhh the best feeling! 

Mother's Love

Daddy's Touch

My favorite moment to the day? I've been trying to get her little fingers to wrap around my pinky finger. So far, she's been under so much sedation that her feet have been sensing my touch, but not her hands. Today, I tried again. She dug those little nails into my pinky finger and held on tight!! I just let the tears flow. Down my face and onto my sweatshirt. I am in love with this little lady. If she had the strength, I would have let her turn my finger blue!

After having such a wonderful hands on time we needed to grab some things for the condo before heading back to do a little laundry. We were walking into Macy's at the Castleton Mall and going up the escalator when I grabbed G's hand and said "I love today." We both smiled really big and said how much we were blessed by today's series of events: news from the doctor, her stretching when we said good morning, G changing her diaper, and her squeeeeezing my finger. Next big step will be those beautiful eyes opening to take a look at this world :)

If we think our hearts have already melted, I think we are in for a lot more melting (hopefully not Wizard of Oz style...) with our little miracle lady. As she improves, hands on time will go from every 6 hours to every 4 hours. So many things to look forward to! Our situation could always be worse. It could always be better too, but it could always be worse. We will roll with God's little blessings each day.

Looking forward to hands on time at 8:00 tonight.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pretty In Pink

In full disclosure, I was on the "team blue" side of our gender reveal party. I saw those little legs kicking on the ultrasound and just knew that it must be a little Olsen boy cooking up in his mother's tummy... It would appear that I was a little off:

Since the discovery of a little lady Olsen growing instead of a little gentleman, I have certainly had small moments of panic thinking ahead to the slew of outfits, the inevitable onslaught of suitors (provided that she gets her mother's looks ;) and {gulp} a wedding that I'm sure I should be putting aside $$$$$$ for this very second.   Yes, until just this last week, these would be the concerns that would consume this father's thoughts regarding the emergence of this little lady-- these thoughts, and how to try to minimize the burst of pink that would also need to be contained...

However, these above concerns have quickly given away to much more pressing concerns with the very early entrance of Elise into this world.  Suddenly, the prospect of closets full of outfits (Zulilly anyone?), suitors, weddings, and {gulp} even (and especially) pink seem to be just trivial.  Suddenly, this father doesn't mind these things-- because they will all mean that Elise will be living well and can enjoy the outfits, the future wedding, and the pink.