Emme's NICU Journey: 3 weeks/21 days down, 2 months to go...

Home sweet home at the NICU

Home sweet home at the NICU

The littlest Allen gal is officially three weeks old today and thriving! To our relief, she finally started to gain some weight this week now that we are freezing the fore milk and feeding her the higher calorie hind milk! While a bit more effort (and more frequent milk drops at the NICU) for mama, well worth it to finally see the numbers rising, baby girl now weighing in at 3lbs, 8 ounces. 

For preemie parents, the sighs of relief seem far and few between. After she was born and we were told she was doing well and would make it (29 weekers have a solid 90% chance for viability), we then knew the first month was the next milestone. With still a week to go, a significant percentage of 29 weekers a who make it through the first 72 hours, don't make it through the first month (neonatal death) due to holes in their hearts or lungs, failure to thrive or infection. Scary statistics, though we've chosen to focus on the odds our wee one is beating!  

Emerson is still having lots of As and Bs, shockingly they have become routine, checking to see if she is blue before we panic now and watching the screens like a hawk to know when she needs stim to get her out of an episode. Another preemie mom I met through a friend this week joked that through this experience, she is well on her way to a nursing degree- I couldn't agree more- these past few weeks have been an education of a lifetime. She will have to outgrow the episodes before we go home, but she has another two months for that and is maturing so quickly one nurse even called her a "super preemie" impressed with her coordination. #proudmom  

Another fun fact is Emme was born without cartilage as babies don't develop it until later in gestation. Being born at only 29 weeks meant she didn't have a defined nose or ears really (her ears were paper thin) but now we can see structure. Silly little milestones are making me so proud to witness her growing day-by-day, but really more like hour-by-hour. 

The three weeks we have spent in the NICU seems like such a long time already: a lot goes into each visit with coordinating care for Grace, wearing the right clothes for skin-to-skin contact, finding parking at the hospital, pumping before and logistics surrounding getting screens set/scrubbed in/and getting Em ready with diaper changes, temperature taking etc. It is hard to believe we have another 8 weeks of "visiting" our daughter instead of raising her ourselves in our home, but soon enough!

On the homefront, it was a busy week as we moved into our new home in Los Altos. Still under construction more than we were anticipating, our downstairs furniture is in disarray while we finish painting/the family room fireplace/ new bookcase/ powder room vanity but upstairs is settled with the exception of the master bath still being finished. Everything has come together so well, we couldn't be more pleased with how the projects are turning out- yet wish they would have been done as chasing a curious 15 month old through a house filled with ladders, paint and other attractions has been exhausting :) Moving out of our rental in Palo Alto and my parents house was easier than anticipated, and I think both Grant and I are feeling relieved to now have a permanent place to call home- some stability when so much else is in flux. 

Grace is adjusting phenomenally well to all of the changes- she seems to enjoy her new room and running around the backyard. My parents had given Grace an American Girl Bitty Baby last year which we just now re-gifted to her to give her an idea that a baby is coming home. She has been great about feeding her baby milk and insists we change the baby's diaper when we change hers. Fortunately this time in the NICU is giving us an opportunity to slowly introduce the idea to Seeet Grace that she will have a little sister, sharing pictures of Em with her and reading books about sisters. I don't quite think she understands as she hasn't yet met Em but hopefully this time will prep her so it is less of a shock when we bring Emerson home. 

Kellydog has also rejoined the family after spending time with my sister-in-law Simone and brother Pat. I think she is missing the long runs Simone would take her on, but is enjoying the new house and exploring the neighborhood.  

Emotionally, the daily grind has become far less terrifying- now that we know what the machines do/numbers mean. Of course we are both teetering on the edge of exhaustion always with the move, construction, and NICU life while chasing Gracefce but hanging in there. As we have to be extra cautious not to bring germs into Em, we have been lacking any social stimulation (it is advised we keep Grace out of play dates and have to limit exposure to those unvaccinated for Tdap and the Flu which is tough because you have to have an awkward conversation and ask) but hope to see friends soon as her immune system strengthens. It is so strange to me that Thanksgiving, my birthday, etc all came and left and I haven't seen a single friend in over a month! 

Hoping to decorate and get into the Christmas spirit this week to get out of this funk. Hope you and yours are enjoying the season! 

Lots of love!