Elise is doing much better with her bradys (when she drops her heart rate and turns a lovely shade of blue). We are hoping that the Prilosec is doing its job and her reflux will continue to improve. The doctors are going to keep her on continuous feeds this next week in hopes that more weight gain and time to heal will set her up for success when they plan to start back with bottles the week after next.
She currently weights 3 lbs. 10 oz! The doctors and nurses tell us that they usually see a lot of maturity when babies hit the four-pound mark. Bottle-feeding improves, reflux diminishes, and the babies begin to require less oxygen. Right now, we don’t want her using up all her energy on something (say bottle feeding) and not gaining any weight. The idea is to pack on the pounds first, then the other energy consuming things will come faster and easier for the babies.
One of Elise’s doctors told me about a month ago that he foresaw May 1st as a possible going home date. As much as I told myself to not hold onto that date in my mind, I naturally did. On top of it being right around the corner, May 1st happens to be Daddy G’s birthday. Can you think of a better birthday gift than bringing your daughter home?? I think not.
Now that reflux has hit and we haven’t weaned any on the vapotherm, I’ve come to terms that May 1st is no longer in our cards. This is certainly not a horrible worry of mine. I know this just means she needs a little more TLC from the NICU doctors and nurses. We certainly don’t want her coming home too early. No matter what, Elise’s first night at home will be nerve-racking for us as new parents. We don’t need the added worry of bringing her home too early.
However, it is certainly getting much harder to leave every time we visit the NICU. Tonight was my first time I really struggled ‘walking away’ since I was discharged from the hospital. When we visited for her 8:00 time tonight (our “night cap”), Elise was bright eyed and cheery. The eight o’clock time range happened to be the most active time for Elise inside the womb, so it’s interesting that it continues to be her active time now that she is living outside of me.
We changed her clothes, weighed her, and I encouraged some non-nutritional sucking with her. She did show interest in breastfeeding, and once declared big enough by the doctors, she will be able to do this more fully. After some mommy time, I wanted to pass her off to Daddy. He has a very busy week starting tomorrow at the hospital so I wanted him to get some snuggles from his daughter. I happened to sneak in a few pictures. I could look at the two of them all night long. Pure love.
After she had some quality time from both of us, it was time to tuck her in for the night. I guess you would say separation anxiety set in the moment I started to get her all snuggled into her crib. Her eyes were heavy and she was drifting off into dream land, but all I could do was stand beside her crib and cry. The tears came fast tonight. I just didn’t want to leave. All I could do was stand there and continue to tuck in the blankets around her and smooth her soft hair on her head while some of my tears heavily hit her blankets. G had already taken off his gown and gloves, but soon realized I needed some help if we were ever going to get to the car. He didn’t say a word. He knew. He just held my hand as I couldn’t peel my eyes off of Elise. Her nurses are phenomenal, and of course I know she is great hands while I am not there. Also, for the most part, she has been doing so well for a tiny baby that was born 15 weeks too early. She has just recently started to fill out her cheeks and is looking so adorable in her little preemie clothes. Her personality is starting to blossom with a tiny bottom lip quiver when she cries and those big brown eyes that stare directly into yours.
I’ve been handling the end of our ‘night caps’ quite well until tonight. I can usually tuck her in, give her a few kisses, and we head for the car with big smiles on our faces knowing we will see her soon. Tonight my momma heartstrings were tugged at, and for some reason, I felt like I was abandoning her tonight. It took all of my strength to leave her bedside. Our bond is certainly getting stronger by each passing day.
When Elise was born, she got a gift from a special church family member. It was a stuffed lamb that would record someone singing Jesus Loves Me. Every time the lamb’s ear is squeezed, the recording is played for all to hear. Elise couldn’t have anything extra when she was in the isolette, but once she moved to her big girl crib, they told me to bring in the lamb. I recorded myself singing Jesus Loves Me and set it aside in the house so I would remember to take it with me on my next trip to the NICU. Before I packed the lamb in my car, Jordan was home and he pressed play (not knowing that I recorded my voice). As the lamb started to play, a very serious look came across his face and he said, “How did you record mom (our mother, Lisa) singing Jesus Loves Me?” I told him that was the biggest compliment I’ve ever received, but that the recording was actually myself. He kept listening and said, “This sounds exactly like Mom. I’m getting really sad listening to it.” Jordan’s words meant the world to me.
As most of you know, my mother had a truly amazing voice. It was really an indescribable musical instrument. I do hear much of my mom in me, especially now that she is gone and I ‘look’ to hear her. I think all daughters have this happen to some degree as they grow older; whether it’s speaking voices, how you phrase something, laughs, or certain facial expressions. Having just a small portion of my mother's gorgeous singing voice means everything to me.
Since Jordan thought the lamb was actually Mom, and I’m a firm believer that “Nana Lisa” had a big hand in protecting Elise during her early arrival, I asked Elise’s nurses what happens when they press play, now that the lamb sits in the corner of Elise’s crib. How does Elise react? They said it is amazing to watch Elise as the lamb plays. If she’s crying, she will get very quiet and calm. If she has low oxygen numbers, she will bring them up to normal range (88-95%), and even sometimes she will bring her numbers up to higher percentages than what she needs (95-100%; what we call high satting). One nurse told me that when the singing stopped, Elise started crying. The nurse pressed play a second time and Elise became quiet all over again. I can’t begin to describe how much this warmed my heart.
Tonight as I left, I asked the nurse, through big momma tears, to play the lamb a couple of times for her. I can’t wait for the day that I can sing to her in the comfort of our own home. Until that day, the lamb will help both of us. Elise can fall asleep and I can eventually make it to the car and head home.
Now Momma and Daddy must go to sleep…goodnight.
G & J & E