Tag Archives | Olivia

Wellness Wednesdays: Gratitude in Action

I had a different post scheduled for today, but this one feels more timely, more real. I posted on my Instagram account earlier today:

Breathe

“Got some good/bad news this morning. We’ve been working with a holistic MD for the past few weeks to get a better overall picture of Olivia’s health. Right now, I’m sitting in a parking lot, enjoying a Starbucks, trying to take deep breaths, and admiring the view in the backseat of my precious girl sound asleep. Things I know for sure: 1) Information is power: We have a much better understanding of how to support Olivia’s body- you can’t fix/deal with something until you have all the facts. 2) You are your child’s health advocate and most important example. 3) It’s never too late to hit the reset button.”

So, wherever you are on YOUR wellness journey, I invite you to take a moment and just breathe. Honor the facts and experience- it’s ok to be angry, sad, confused, overwhelmed, frustrated… curve-balls can quite literally feel like a punch to the stomach… But, they can also be beautiful opportunities to GROW, step out of your comfort zone, and inspire others. So, I’m working really hard on this cycle:

Breathe. Be grateful. Repeat.

I am so grateful to have a plan of action, deeper insights into our family’s health, and a whole arsenal of wellness tools. Our sweet girl is going to be just fine.

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22 Months and Growing

To my precious, independent, strong-willed, and beautiful daughter:

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I love you. Always and forever. You are teaching me so much about the world. You make me laugh and want to pull my hair out… every single day. We are both learning new depths of patience and how to navigate the world together. I love your tenacity and know it will serve you well as you grow older.

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These days, you love to listen to music. I can’t help but smile as you immediately start dancing to whatever rhythm is playing. You are also a big fan of bouncing on the trampoline at gym class and soaring through the air on your new red swing. I’ll say, “READY, SET,” and you enthusiastically fill in the “GO!” You started saying the word “Mama” a few weeks ago in a very intentional way… and I’m pretty sure my heart explodes into a million pieces every time I hear it. You regularly say “bye-bye” and blow kisses. So many other phrases are just on the brink of your grasp. Your Daddy and I have no doubt, however, that you understand absolutely everything.

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My darling girl- you have such a soft spot in your heart for animals. It is so amazing to watch you with the puppies. You love to give them hugs and are a regular helper with their care- finding their leashes to take them outside and feeding them dinner each night. Over the past several months, you’ve also become an expert on animal sounds (monkeys, cows, puppies, cats, lions, and even chickens!).

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You are quite attached to your blankets these days. We don’t dare leave home without one! You also adore jewelry and fashion accessories. Necklaces, bracelets, hats, headbands- you name it!

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It’s hard to believe that there’s only 2 months until your second birthday- what a journey we’ve had!

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XOXO, Mom

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Summer Photo Challenge 2014

This summer has been filled with beautiful moments. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been using the hashtag, #bpcphonephotographyproject, to describe many of my photos along with several more specific ones like #ppp2silhouette or #ppp2light.  These labels refer to a phone photography challenge I participated in through Big Picture Classes.  Every couple of days, they released a new prompt focusing on a particular photography technique.  Here’s my round-up of photos related to this project:

Summer-Photos

I LOVED this challenge because it really forced me to focus on specific photography principles- some technical, some design related- and experiment with different editing apps.  And, it was all done using my iPhone.

Photos by Prompt Challenges

  • Row 1: Light, Action, Lines
  • Row 2: Lines/Light, Silhouette, Landscape
  • Row 3: Vantage Point, Fill the Frame/Vantage Point, Shapes
  • Row 4: Shapes, Lines/In a Row, Shapes/In a Row
  • Row 5: Fill the Frame/Shapes, Rule of Thirds, Vantage Point/Backgrounds
  • Row 6: Shadow, Objects, Portrait

Editing apps that I use on my phone all the time include: PicTapGo, Snapseed, LensLight, BubbleFrame, and Rhonna Designs.  My “action” shot of Olivia in the first row was selected to be featured on Rhonna’s Start Screen… what an honor to be featured!

Rhonna-Feature

With this challenge complete, I can check off 1 more item on my 30 During My 30th List!

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A Message from Cinderella…

Happy Halloween!

Photo Credit: TH Photography & Design

Our photographer posted the perfect caption to accompany the bottom photo: “Pretty sure she is thinking, Don’t make me turn you into a frog!”

 

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Lately… Summer 2013

Lately-Summer-13

Row 1: In late July, James’ parents visited and we tackled cleaning up our yard.  We weeded like crazy!  (I don’t think our yard has had any attention since Olivia’s early arrival.)  The garden bed along the side of the house was completely overgrown.  Due to the unseasonably cool summer temps, Olivia was able to spend some time outside with us.  She is pictured here on one of my favorite quilts from my Grandma.

Row 2: We tried a recipe for homemade mango margaritas… yum!  Olivia practiced her swimming skills and I enjoyed snuggles early one morning with both my girls (Lexi and Olivia).  I also sent my favorite children’s book (Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You) along with a handmade card to a friend that delivered her baby very prematurely.  My heart goes out to this new mama and we pray for their sweet boy each day.

Row 3: I severely burned my hands after a glass dish broke filled with scalding liquid.  Real aloe and lavender essential oil were a saving grace.  We made a fun “Congrats!” sign for a friend that completed his PhD.  I couldn’t be there in person to hear his dissertation defense, but Olivia and I cheered him on in spirit!  We also celebrated 2 big milestones during the month of August: Olivia learned how to sit-up by herself and tried her first solid foods (avocados!).

Row 4: A friend and I tried making laundry detergent, body wash, and diaper rash cream using essential oils.  With my mom’s help babysitting Olivia, I was able to work on several fun card projects this month including several thank you cards.  On August 17th, we took Olivia to the zoo for the first time.  We enjoyed seeing the giraffes, elephants, and tigers.  I never realized how gracefully hippos glide through the water!

Row 5: Olivia took her first plane ride to Washington DC to attend James’ brother’s wedding over Labor Day weekend.  (Read my 10 Tips for Traveling with a Baby post.)  It was awesome to see Olivia interacting with her 4 sweet cousins.  Our trip included many sightseeing adventures and even a trip to the ocean!  Olivia was not a fan of the waves.  When the water started to rush up onto her feet, she immediately started crying!  We met a fisherman along a pier while exploring the beach that proudly told us his philosophy on fishing: “You just missed the two best fishing days of the year… yesterday and tomorrow!”

Row 6: Lots of wedding fun!  A quick pic of J and I before the ceremony started.  Olivia “helped” us make a card for the newlyweds… she might have tried to bite off the corner… And, finally, our sweet girl turned 8 months old.  It is amazing how much she changes and grows each day.

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Tips for Traveling with a 7 Month Old Baby

We survived our first BIG travel adventure with Olivia… and I learned a few things in the process about traveling with a baby!

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Things I will be remembering for our next trip:

1.  Make sure you have a copy of baby’s birth certificate handy for the flight!

We knew that children under 2 could fly for free.  The day before we left, however, we realized that we would actually need to PROVE Olivia’s age. Kiddos these days need an boarding pass EVEN if they aren’t taking up an official seat (at least if they are flying Southwest Airlines).  James and I both looked at each other and wondered, “Do we have a birth certificate?”  Nope, we didn’t.  Oh, the details!  Turns out, automatically mailing parents a birth certificate isn’t a standard practice.  We scrambled to get to our local records office to obtain a copy of this precious document.

2.  Distract, distract, distract (while on the plane)!

I was probably the most nervous about this portion of our trip.  I think I probably lost sleep wondering how Olivia’s ears would adjust to changing altitudes, whether we would have a diaper disaster mid-flight, or if she would cry the entire time.  Fortunately, Olivia did great!  In fact, she was all smiles on the flight to DC!

First-plane-ride

These strategies worked well for us:

    • We timed her bottles for take-off and landing, which probably helped her ears adjust.
    • We brought along a new toy for her to play with on the plane.  This one easily suctioned to the seat’s tray table and easily entertained her for a stretch.  Improvise as needed!  When our flight attendant brought us water, the drink’s straw became the next fascinating object for Olivia to explore.  (…and an excellent exercise in fine motor skills with supervision!)
    • Read this fantastic article by Joanna Goddard (A Cup of Jo) for other ideas, including an unconventional one on where to sit on the plane.

3.  Only bring washable toys.

On our next trip, I’m only going to bring toys that I can easily throw in the washing machine, wash quickly at the sink, or easily wipe down with a nontoxic cleaner.  This round, I brought along a mixture of toys that she loves- including some cloth books that aren’t designed to hold up in the washing machine.  When toys like these hit the ground of an airport floor, a part of me just cringes.  I’ll be packing all washable or wipe-able toys on our next adventure!

4.  Use a backpack as a diaper bag.

We brought Olivia’s standard over the shoulder diaper bag along for this trip, which works wonderfully for us at home.  We definitely needed something different for this trip where we were constantly on the go.  Our shoulders literally ached from carting around this incredible heavy tote.  Next time, I will use a backpack… so much easier to lug around.

5.  Bring your baby carrier EVERYWHERE!

Our Ergo baby carrier was a saving grace.  We used it all the time- traveling through the airport, exploring typical tourist spots, and lulling Olivia to sleep during nap time while we were on the go.

Baby-Carrier

It was very hot in DC while we were visiting.  At the zoo, I noticed a mom had clipped a mini-fan to her child’s stroller to help circulate air.  Depending on the weather forecast for our next trip, this little convenience item might become a necessity for the stroller or carrier!

6.  Bring lots of Ziploc baggies, Clorox wipes, and hand sanitizer.  And, a pacifier clip.

Ziploc baggies were wonderful for sorting toys, pacifiers… you name it!  I brought along 2 packs of the Clorox travel wipes that they sell in the dollar bins at Target to wipe down miscellaneous surfaces Olivia might encounter (…especially since everything is going in her mouth these days).  I used them to wipe off the plane’s tray table, arm rests, seat-belt buckle, as well as restaurant tables.  (You wouldn’t believe the grime that came up!)

Her pacifier clip was an absolute necessity!  Olivia is one strong cookie and has managed to pull several pacifier clip grippers loose in the past.  She just loves to shake the ribbon and pacifier up and down vigorously.  This one by Booginhead has worked really well for us.

7.  Bring this amazing play-mat.

Super-activity-mat

Photo: Twins! My adorable niece and Olivia on our favorite activity mat.

I can’t say enough about this fantastic mat: Tiny Love’s Super Mat.  I discovered this gem on Elena’s blog, The Art of Making a Baby.  You can read her review of this product HERE.  I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment.  I loved bringing this mat along when we traveled– it provided continuity for Olivia as it is a regular part of our routine at home, it delineated a safe and semi-padded space for her to roll around, and it folded up easily in our suitcase.

8.  Bring a collapsible tote to store toys.

At the last minute, I threw in a vinyl reusable shopping bag to throw all of Olivia’s toys in when we got to our destination.  I’m SO glad I included this item.  Instead of having all her toys scattered over her grandparent’s house where they might get stepped on or easily misplaced, I had a designated spot to throw all her toys in at night.  It’s the simple things.

9.  Strike a balance between trying to plan for everything and going with the flow.

I am a planner by nature and love to have a game plan in place for just about everything.  As the saying goes though, “best laid plans…”  For instance, I had planned to have formula and diapers delivered to our destination with our Amazon prime membership so I wouldn’t need to pack these bulky items.  When I went to place the order, however, I discovered Olivia’s specific formula was “out of stock” until after our return date!  So, plan B… a short trip to Target to stock-up when we got to DC.

I recently saw this post by Mrs. Limestone and loved that she didn’t set an agenda on her first adventure traveling with a baby.  She simply enjoyed the time and explored the city at the baby’s pace.

10. Schedule a chiropractic adjustment for yourself when you get home!

Olivia has seen a pediatric chiropractor regularly since she was born.  I happened to have a session scheduled for both of us two days after we got home.  What a happy coincidence!  Dr. Grein immediately remarked that she could literally see where the straps of our carrier had sunk into my muscles from all the baby carrying of the past week.  Travel can be rough!  Remember to take good care of yourself (and your aching muscles!) when you get home whether it’s scheduling a massage/adjustment OR simply taking some time-out to indulge in a relaxing bubble bath.

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10 Ways to Help a New Mom of a Preemie

I was overwhelmed by the love and support given to us after Olivia’s early arrival.  So many people wanted to know how to help our family during this difficult transition.  Asking and receiving help, especially when you are still processing so many raw emotions and your mind feels scattered, is complicated.  On the one hand, you don’t want to feel like a burden and aren’t even sure of what you need.  On the other, you recognize that your family is quite literally in a crisis where all the “unknowns” can breed an overwhelming and isolating case of fear.

I’ve thought a lot about the very early days of Olivia’s arrival- what worked for us, how we struggled, and the small gestures of support from family and friends that really made a big difference.  We didn’t have hardly ANYTHING prepared before Olivia’s arrival.  While not an exhaustive list, here are several suggestions for helping a new mama of a preemie:

10 Ways to Help a Mom of a Preemie

1.  Offer to prepare dinners or freezer meals.

Several friends prepared meals for us- I honestly don’t know what I would have done with these beautiful care packages.  In addition to shuffling back and forth to the hospital, James went back to work so he could take some time off when she was discharged.  In the meantime, I attempted to pump every 3 hours to establish a milk supply.  It was incredibly helpful not to worry about what we were going to eat at night.

2.  Find and share educational material on preemies.

I didn’t have a clue on what to expect with a premature infant.  I turned to Pinterest to explore articles and information that might be relevant to our situation.  The website, Hand to Hold, and the blog, Preemie 101, were particularly helpful.  Unfortunately, I simply didn’t have time to read everything I wanted to in order to be an informed advocate for Olivia.  For instance, after reading The Premature Baby Book, I would have been much more insistent that we start kangaroo care with our girl sooner.  I also would have highly encouraged the hospital to use slow flow nipples when they fed Olivia a bottle to make breastfeeding attempts easier in the long run.

  • Ask if you can help find articles or books on the latest research concerning kangaroo care, feeding challenges, etc…ANYTHING relevant to preemie care.
  • If you know of another mom in the area that has gone through a similar situation, offer to connect this resource to the new mama.

3.  Provide emotional support.

For all of the support we received, there were occasional comments that really got under my skin.  In an attempt to help me focus on the positive, several nurses told me, “Wow, she would have been a 10 pound baby if she had gone to term- aren’t you glad you didn’t have to push that out?!”  I start to cringe even thinking about these words as defensive alarms blast through my brain.  First of all, my precious baby was right on track in terms of her growth and would have probably been close to 8.5 pounds at birth.  Second, I would have given ANYTHING to keep her safely protected inside of me until she was able to breathe on her own comfortably.  I would have gladly pushed out a 10 or 11-pounder if that meant I didn’t have see my girl hooked up to various machines struggling to inflate her lungs.

Some others commented, “well at least you can catch up on your sleep while Olivia is being cared for at the hospital.”  If it were only this simple. If only I didn’t feel guilty every minute we weren’t with Olivia at the hospital.  If only I didn’t have to pump every 3 hours, even in the middle of the night.  If only we weren’t in store for several “extra” weeks of sleepless nights that most parents experience.

I share these stories because words are so powerful, especially when they are directed at a hormonal and scared new mama.  I needed the people closest to me to listen to our unfolding drama and stand with me in awkwardness of waiting.  We had a LOT to be grateful for…. but, I didn’t need someone constantly reminding me to be positive, especially when we received news that one of Olivia’s newborn screenings was flagged.  Our fears and accompanying losses, including our grief over an incomplete pregnancy and the typical newborn experience, needed space to be processed and not simply dismissed because Olivia was making progress.

Our supporters were our greatest cheerleaders, celebrating our perseverance and Olivia’s milestones.  At the same time, they validated our feelings and acknowledged everything we had been through.

4.  Offer breastfeeding/pumping support.

Breastfeeding can be a challenge when dealing with a full term newborn.  It is an entirely different ballgame with a preemie.  Instead of cuddling and bonding with my newborn, I was handed a pump.  I won’t go into the full saga of how my breastfeeding story unfolded here, but I will say I was (and still am to this day) continually amazed at how much judgment exists on this particular issue from both sides.

For mama’s that choose to pump for their preemies, here are a few ideas on how to be supportive in this area:

  • Highly encourage her to rent a hospital grade pump, like the Medela Symphony, to establish a supply.  (They also make a version of this pump that is tailored for moms that are beginning to pump for preemies.)
  • Insist that a lactation specialist visually observe her pumping efforts before she leaves the hospital to make sure that the pump is working correctly and the pump flanges are the correct size.  Medela, for instance, manufactures 5 different sizes of breast shields to provide optimal comfort.  I learned the hard way that the particular brand and style of pump can make a huge difference in how effectively milk is released.
  • Ask your friend if she already has a hands free pumping bra.  If not, offer to go get one for her.
  • I didn’t have time to read The Nursing Mother’s Companion before Olivia’s birth.  Offer to read a few chapters (particularly chapters 2-4) and give her the bullet points of what to expect and what’s normal.
  • Offer to get her this supplement to help produce more milk: Motherlove More Milk.
  • Send her funny texts during her regular pumping sessions.
  • When difficulties arise, remind her multiple times that she isn’t a failure if she isn’t able to keep up with her preemie’s increasing demand.  This article might be helpful: Changing the Definition of “Nursing” Your Preemie.

5.  Provide a basket of snacks on the go.

I was incredibly hungry ALL the time when I first started pumping.  It was so handy to have the following snacks on hand: clementines, whole almonds, chocolate covered blueberries, mozzarella sticks, and my favorite wheat crackers from Trader Joe’s.  A dear friend brought us a batch of homemade brownies the day after Olivia’s birth.  What a gift!  Don’t underestimate the power of surprising a new mama with a thoughtful treat.

6.  Purchase one or two preemie outfits.

Dressing Olivia in her own clothes was a definite milestone while in the Special Care Unit.  Good friends and family gave us several adorable preemie outfits that were so essential for her tiny size.  It was so handy to have these outfits ready to go.  Changing Olivia’s diaper and dressing her in her own clothes somehow humanized our situation, even when she was still connected to so many machines.  These mundane tasks were simply NORMAL parts of being a new parents.

Any errand that a new mama doesn’t have to run is also a gift of time.  Since I didn’t need to go out looking for preemie clothing, I was able to spend more time either at the hospital or resting at home.

7.  Offer to help organize.

My parents came over one afternoon and helped us arrange furniture and hang a couple of pieces of artwork in Olivia’s nursery.  Was this a necessary action?  Absolutely not.  It was, however, immensely helpful for me in terms of feeling ready for our girl to come home from the hospital.  Clearing the clutter and restoring order to her space was incredibly healing for me.

Ask a new mama if there are any “rituals of readiness” you can help her complete.  I remember staying up late one evening to remove the tags from all the beautiful outfits we received at Olivia’s shower.  I then sacrificed several precious hours of sleep to complete a marathon of laundry to get her all of her clothes ready.  I also had to find time earlier in the day to run out and buy a baby friendly detergent.  In hindsight, asking someone to help me wash all of Olivia’s new outfits would have been extremely helpful.

8.  Explain the value of probiotics.

My doula warned me that I was particular susceptible to getting thrush on my breasts due to the multiple rounds of antibiotics they pumped through my system while I was in labor.  I truly wish that I had followed up with some research on which brands are most helpful and how much to take.  My particular case of thrush did not present itself in a typical fashion- I could have saved myself weeks of painful pumping and attempts of breastfeeding.  I had wonderful success getting rid of thrush for good after reading the 3-Day Get Rid of Thrush Cure by Rebecca Haworth.  What I loved the most: she provided recommendations on specific brands of probiotics.

9.  Be specific with your offers to help.

Take your kind offer to help one step further by being specific.  Since my focus was split in so many directions, it was hard to know exactly what I needed before I needed it.  By educating yourself on the world of preemies you can ask more targeted questions like “Do you need xyz?”   or “Can I help you with xyz?

10. Don’t underestimate the power of your responses to progress reports.

Believe it or not, it takes quite a bit of time to craft an email that provides the latest updates to family and friends.  I am so appreciative to those that responded with loving and supportive words when we sent out an progress report.  The reverse is true as well: it’s hard to forget which family members and friends were completely silent in response to such a life changing event.

Bottom line: Be responsive without any expectations.  In my own experience, I wasn’t always able to respond to emails in a timely fashion.  My thank you cards for loving care packages weren’t sent within the proper 2-week turnaround time frame.  But, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t cherish every kind word and gesture extended to our family during Olivia’s hospital stay.

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Preemie 101

With Olivia’s early arrival, we were welcomed into a brand new exclusive club: the world of preemies.  We didn’t ask for this entrance pass and I wouldn’t wish our experience on my worst enemy.  There were endless hours of waiting, grieving, worrying, and coordinating arrangements.

As a mama-to-be, I had heard countless stories of women going past their due date and trying anything to get their labors started.  I had NO CLUE how common the other extreme was!  The March of Dimes currently states that 1 in 9 women will deliver prematurely… I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard this number!  Our own qualitative research immediately validated this high prevalence.  It seemed everyone we talked to about our experience either knew someone that had delivered early or was themselves a preemie!  In my humble opinion, it seems like a knowledge gap exists in providing critical information to women on this reality.  There has to be a way to communicate this statistic so women can prepare their minds and create realistic expectations… all without creating needless worry or planting a seed of doubt into their minds that they can carry the baby to term.

Caring for a Preemie

I’ll never forget what the attending neonatalogist told us after Olivia’s delivery.  After explaining a procedure and seeing the worried looks on our faces, he stated: “Olivia will be the person she is meant to be.  She is just going to have a longer story.”  That little nugget of reassurance was such a comfort.

It quickly became clear that the medical goals for our 33 Week-er included:

Breathing easily and safely.

  • Olivia’s breathing began to deteriorate after she was born to the point she was on 70% oxygen.  The doctors immediately suggested treating her lungs with a round of surfactant, which would help keep her the tiny alveoli in her lungs from sticking together and allow her lungs to inflate more easily.
  • For the first couple of days, Olivia was hooked up to a C-PAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure).  This device delivered oxygen along with gentle pressure to keep her airways open.
  • Olivia graduated to a nasal cannula emitting high humidity before she was taken off all oxygen.
  • One of the nurses called Olivia her little hummingbird as our girl would have periods where her breathing became very rapid.  Other times, she experienced periods of apnea.  To counteract this problem, the doctors started her on a brief regimen of caffeine.  This drug had to be gradually stepped down and out of her system for at least 1 week before they considered letting her go home.

Regulating her temperature.

  • Olivia’s journey started in an open air bed with a warmer directly overhead to maintain her temperature.  When her condition stabilized, she was moved to an isolette.  This little incubator, even though it looked more intimidating, was actually a step in the right direction!  After Olivia was able to regulate her temperature, she was moved to an open air crib with frequent temperature checks.

Coordinating her suck/breathe/swallow reflex.

  • Progress in this department was SLOW.  The nursing team placed a g-tube down Olivia’s nose into her tummy relatively early so they could “gavage” her feedings or directly provide breastmilk/formula to her stomach.
  • During some of Olivia’s first attempts at bottle feeding, she only took in about 5-15 mL of fluids.  She progressively worked her way up to taking 60 mL during most feedings throughout the day.  If Olivia was awake, the nurses would allow us to attempt bottle feeding.  Any amount that she did not finish in 30 minutes was then given through the g-tube.  If Olivia didn’t finish within this critical window, the nurses explained that she would be expending too many precious calories compared to the amount she was taking from the bottle.  After Olivia’s breathing improved and she was capable of regulating her temperature, we were in a holding pattern waiting for this particular reflex to properly mature.  Some days, she took her bottle feedings like a champ.  Other days, Olivia was more interested in sleeping so many of her meals were “gavaged.”  The nurses reassured us that one day, everything would just click.  Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the hospital one day to find Olivia had pulled out her g-tube by herself!  Our spirited sweetheart was ready!
  • Thoughts in general:  I have an incredible amount of respect for this reflex.  Olivia choked two times during her feedings while I was home alone after we brought her home from the hospital.  My heart nearly jumped out of its chest from sheer panic.  Her system was still sorting out glitches in the required sequence of movements.

We are eternally grateful that Olivia’s prognosis was always positive during her time in the Special Care Unit.  We never questioned whether or not she would make it.  All in all, our experience was a CAKE WALK compared to the complications awaiting parents of other premature babies, especially micro-preemies (infants born before 26 weeks gestation or weighing less than 800 grams).  I can’t even imagine, even though I’ve had a first hand glimpse into the preemie world, the roller coaster of emotions that these parents face on a daily basis and the compounding effects of stress.

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The Day Time Stood Still

You might have noticed a bit of a time gap from my last post… our lives have been utterly transformed by one precious event: the birth of our sweet baby girl.  Olivia Rose arrived on December 28, 2013 at 5:51 in the evening…. almost 7 weeks premature.

First Family Photo

I am not the same person I was 3 months ago- I am stronger.  I am more grateful.  I am more aware of the precious and fleeting nature of each moment.  J and I have been on a roller coaster of emotions ranging from pure joy to sheer panic.  We were so unprepared for everything that unfolded: no hospital bags were packed, Olivia’s nursery was completely unfinished, and I was under the impression that I had approximately 7 more weeks to practice all the child birthing relaxation techniques that we had learned.

Welcome Olivia

These beautiful pictures were taken on the day Olivia was finally released from the hospital.  Our little girl has been through so much- time in the Special Care Unit, medical procedures to ease her breathing, follow-up appointments with different specialists, and continued metabolic testing.  I am so proud of her strong spirit.

Welcome to the world, dear Olivia.

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