"Hopefully I’ll soon be able to update again and (this is a note to myself) be able to tell you about her growth, my results from the doctors, her moves around Pod E, the milk catastrophe, the unsupportive parent support group, and her parties. "
Okay, I'm totally out of energy today, so I'm just going to bullet-point you through the past couple of weeks.
- Becca's growth - Um, I think I was going to tell you that her growth had stalled some, but she's picking back up now. She's been up as high as 1550 grams (3 pounds, 7 ounces) and is currently 3 pounds, 6 ounces. She's getting 1/2 milk and 1/2 Similac Special Care formula, which is way beefed up - for an average of 30 calories an ounce (which, based on her weight is a TON). As of last night, she was 14.6 inches long. She able to wear some of her smaller preemie clothes now, so we're loving all those tiny onesies! (Note: she has TONS of clothes to wear, so don't get too excited on your next trip to Wal-Mart or anything. :) )
- My results from the doctors - Okay, after weeks and months of leaving each appointment with another couple scheduled from it, I have been released from all of my doctors. The specialist's best guess about what went wrong is that I was likely pre-eclamptic early on, which caused the placenta to be funky and resulted in her growth restriction. Apparently, most women with pre-eclampsia do develop it early in the pregnancy, but we don't see the measurable, diagnosable signs until later. Based on a study of women who had pre-eclampsia and developed H.E.L.P.P. syndrome before 28 weeks of gestation, it looks like I have around a 55% chance of recurrence of pre-eclampsia (to some degree) and around a 20% chance of recurrence of H.E.L.P.P. (which, I believe always indicates immediate delivery). So....those are definitely scary numbers, but we'll probably give it another try sometime down the line. I will have to continue to live near Nashville (or another major metro area with good hospitals), as I will automatically be on the very-high-risk track, with lots of extra early tests, visits, etc. Good to know, but of course right now, we're just focused on getting this little one home. Also, it looks like I may have a proclivity towards forming blood clots while pregnant (which will also be monitored in subsequent pregnancies), but outside of pregnancy, I seem to be fine there.
- Becca's moves around Pod E - Okay, it shouldn't be a big deal, but whenever my baby moves rooms, it really freaks me out and messes with my mind. Our pod (set of 4 rooms, 2 of which are "twin rooms" that hold 2 babies) had been really stable for weeks - until one of the twin rooms developed a mildew problem in the ceiling (not good for anyone - especially preemies, of course!). Those twins moved to Pod A, and they cleaned up the room. The NICU census went way up, and they got some really sick babies, so Becca had to be moved into the (now fresh) twin room with another baby. So after a month of semi-privacy at "Becca's house," we had roommates, which was fine, but it kind of sent me over the edge a little. It doesn't take much these days. Anyhow, it worked out fine, though it was a little awkward at pumping time, and after a week or so (maybe longer?? I have no sense of time anymore) we moved back to a private room - even Becca's old room, thanks to super-champ nurse Stacy. So we're back at "home" now...if only we could live here, too!
- The milk catastrophe - Speaking of sending me over the edge....that was another bad week. Ugh. I'm not even sure I can write about it yet. It physically pains me to think about it. Okay, remember all the work I had been doing pumping? And all the bottle-washing John had been doing? And how my life had to be scheduled around and really revolve around that beautiful yellow machine? Yeah, so we were storing the milk in the deep freezer at church and someone accidentally unplugged it. Almost all of it thawed out, making it unusable. That sucked. It especially sucked because a) I had hoped to stop pumping soon and b) my milk supply was starting to dry up. Because the same hormones aren't released when pumping as when you are actually nursing a baby, it's much harder to maintain your milk supply when you are exclusively pumping. Given the fact that stress (hmmm...think I've got that?), exhaustion (check), and poor nutrition (like the fast food I eat nearly every day) all contribute to a decrease in milk production, it was no surprise that after 2+ months I was having trouble. But, after The Milk Catastrophe of 2008, I had to recommit to proving my sweet girl with the best nutrition possible and re-prioritize so that I can keep producing. So if you wonder why I'm never in the church office before noon or why I don't update you as much as I should, there is a good chance it is because I am a) trying to make up for the rest I don't get b/c I have to wake up every 4 hours, b) trying to stay sane (which is really very hard work these days, no kidding), or c) guzzling as much water as humanly possible. The upside(s) of this story is/are a) my milk supply has picked back up some and b) some of the very kind folks at Bethpage UMC took pity on my and actually (very exciting!!) purchased us our very own deep freezer, which is now in our kitchen (where I can keep an eye on it!) and chock full of milk (or will be once I get around to reorganizing the milk in the other freezer).
- The unsupportive parent support group - Okay, I shouldn't be too hard on those other parents, but really, we're kind of out of their league now. That sounds awful, but let me explain. We have been here for over 12 weeks now. We have had to go back to work and somehow try to do it all. We live an hour away, and even though we have lots of folks who have offered to let us stay in town, we need to be out in Bethpage for the dogs and for work. We're looking at many more weeks here. Nearly our entire pregnancy was grief-stricken. And, yes, we are ridiculously thankful to have Becca and to be here, but I'm teetering on the edge of sanity here, and I just don't have a lot of...um...patience? compassion? for parents who are here for a 1-2 week stay. No, that's not right - I do have compassion for them...but I can no longer identify with them. One parent at the group kept talking about how her baby was so tiny, "and any procedure on a baby that small is just dangerous!" I asked her how big her baby was, thinking that maybe there was another tiny one in, and she said that her baby was "415" - meaning not 415 grams (which would at least be in Becca's ballpark), but 4 pounds, 15 ounces. He was only 1 ounce away from not even being considered premature. Ugh. I wanted to say to her, "You know, when they [performed the same procedure on Becca] they had NEVER BEFORE done it on a baby her size. NEVER, EVER. And you think you were scared?" This baby's biggest problems is one that Becca has as well, but we don't even think about because it's so minor in the scope of her concerns. Ugh. So I guess they weren't really unsupportive; they were just not the support I need right now. (By the way, I was very polite through the whole meeting; I did manage to behave myself.)
- Becca's parties - HOORAY! We had not one, but two showers for sweet Becca - and there's another on the calendar! Though they have had to be a bit non-traditional, complete with pictures of the already-arrived babe in arms (or in incubator, more accurately), Becca has had a book shower with some friends in Nashville and a regular shower with the Bethpage UMC family. Both were SO fun, and we were overwhelmed with gifts! Becca enjoys her story time (when we catch her awake), thanks to the book shower (and she won't believe all the stories she's got waiting for her at home, thanks to Aunts Lauren and Ashley!), and she is currently wearing one of the onesies she got at the Bethpage shower. After so much grief around the pregnancy and her -frankly - traumatic birth, it's been great to get to celebrate our adorable - and feisty - little girl. Her nursery is slowly taking shape (we're waiting on a furniture order to come into Babies-R-Us before we can really get things organized), and I'm determined to have it all set up long before she comes home. It's therapeutic for me to work on it in the evenings, and John even gets into helping occasionally. I'm sure when it comes time to actually arrange and stock everything, he'll be on it, too. I organized diapers yesterday and took an odd pleasure in sorting and inventorying them by size - much like sorting Halloween candy. I'm a bit weird that way. By the way, we are good on diapers. We definitely don't need any more preemie or newborn diapers - especially at the rate she is growing now! :)
- New business - Becca is so excited about the birth of her future best friend/boyfriend/PK-commiserator/punching bag, Hunter Isaac Snow! He was born this morning and weighs in at a whopping 9 pounds, 6 ounces. He was due a few days before Becca (whose due date, by the way, was this past Sunday), but he's nearly 3 times her size...but I'm pretty sure Becca will be able to take him. Even though they won't get to meet for a few more months, we're telling her all about him and making plans for big time fun and photo shoots come this January. So big congrats go out to Jason and Sarah - especially Sarah today, as she had to work for hours on the whole birth thing - she managed not to get out of the whole labor experience like some of us labor-free c-section moms. :) (Which means big props to you moms who labored AND had a section!)
Alright, it's pumping time again! Catch y'all later!