A big win for adventurous moms traveling with their wee ones. Oakland airport is opening "Lactation Suites" for moms to feed and pump in privacy. While there is some outrage (suggesting that mothers shouldn't just feed anywhere they like), I for one find immense comfort in this big step - providing a space free of distraction during hectic travel. While the NBC article claims this is a first for the bay area and the state, I do have to remind readers that SFO has an AWESOME mommy room before you get through security on the Departures level at United Airlines that is set up for changing, breast feeding (super comfy leather rocker) and place to pump -- completely private, you lock from the inside and only get access by picking up the phone and calling- it also has a very wide entry that can accommodate even a double stroller. I've pumped in there many times and also found it just a place to get situated after checking bags, before getting through security.
A new month and fresh start has never been so welcomed. November was a rollercoaster for our family, starting off the month on hospitalized bed rest before being discharged...only to wind up giving birth days later... 11 weeks early to our sweet and feisty 29 weeker Miss Emerson Claire on November 15th. The second half of November was filled with figuring out our family's "new normal"- coordinating NICU visits, getting used to me being back home (though at my parents as we are awaiting the completion of renovations at our new house), buying a second car, regaining my strength now that I am allowed to be upward and mobile after 5 weeks flat on my back, and running after a speedy little toddler who decided now was the time to start exerting her independence and refuse to change clothes. We also celebrated our wedding Anniversary, my Dad's 60th, my 31st and Thanksgiving with so much to be thankful for this year. While December and the holidays are typically crazy for every family, I am really looking forward to this month with open arms as a fresh start with maybe some foundation of normalcy.
We are thrilled to share that Emme is doing wonderfully well, at 15 days (yesterday) she officially surpassed her birth weight for the first time, weighing in at 1519 grams (3lbs 5 ounces). There had been great debate with our neonatologists and nutritionists as to what interventions we would take beyond her current feeding tube and fortified breastmilk with additional calories, but that conversation is now null as she can stay status quo. She is still having As and Bs like most preemies - but we are monitoring her respiratory rate, heart rate, pulse and oxygen levels 24/7 and she is only having to get stimulation a few times a day, still on a daily dose of caffeine to help. Her brain scan came back with minimal bleeding, and all other labs have come back normal. Like most very premature babies, she has some trouble regulating her temp, but is doing really well regardless.
On the note of "new normal" - Grant and I have our NICU visiting routine/schedules pretty much down these days. Our hands dry and cracked as can be from the Avagard and frequent Purell scrubs, we are now pros at taking her temp, changing itty bitty preemie diapers that are way too big for her, and getting her dressed after our skin-to-skin sessions during her feeds. I am still shocked just how big the preemie clothes are on her- we have to roll up the sleeves and she is just swimming in them! Bay 10 had been her sweet and stable home... until last night when we entered the NICU per usual, only to walk over to her window and there was no baby! Nurses had warned us during our visit at 24 weeks that babies frequently get moved around the NICU, but being caught off guard and not seeing my Emme - instantly both of our minds went to the worst until one of the nurses spotted us and escorted our pale and temporarily paralyzed selves to her new bed where she was sleeping soundly in her same isolette just in a different location.
Our homefront is coming together, and we are set to officially be sleeping in our new California King Bed (this is VERY exciting, as Grant's giant self, Gracen sometimes, Kellydog and I have all been sharing a Queen and I am considering this a huge upgrade compared to the plastic covered hospital beds) in our new home this weekend! Grant has been working ridiculously hard as we put down new wood floors, stained them, had painting done, new lights installed, new cabinets made, and a new bathroom floor set (the house had carpet in the master bath- even surrounding the toilet!) etc for this first round of renovations. Unlike HGTV where everything gets done for just a few thousand dollars and over a weekend, this renovation project has been expensive and time consuming, so we are ready for the next chapter to finally be here! We had some furniture delivered yesterday, and the official move of all of our belongings from the Palo Alto rental to the new Los Altos house happens tomorrow. I think my parent's are ready to have their home back... they've tripped over enough Legos these past 7 weeks :) Grace is sure to miss riding her tricycle around the house, playing the piano with Pops and watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel with Grandbarb at her leisure, but fortunately we are only moving 2 minutes away!
While we know we won't get to bring Emme home until January, now that it is officially December, I feel like we are so much closer to being a family and having all of "Grant's Girls" under one roof. Thanksgiving/my birthday were tough celebrating but not having everyone here, and I anticipate Christmas will be even more difficult, but each day we creep closer to sharing many "firsts" all together. My mind keeps thinking how we missed out on so many of those firsts that we had with Grace- Emme's first bath was in a hospital sink with a nurse, she still hasn't had her first car ride or night at home or even met her big sister or puppy- but we will get there one day.
Until then, staying strong thanks to all of your endless support. The journey continues...happy December!
Today is world preemie day, raising awareness about the battle NICU nurses, doctors and parents of preemies fight for the littlest ones born too soon. I have so much to say, but words will fail to express my heart right now as I am still grappling with the turn of events- grateful our beautiful girl is here and thriving, but terrified. The vulnerability I feel is unlike anything I have ever experienced, with emotions ranging from joy to guilt and so many looming questions. I know they say not to ask those questions: the "what ifs" but I can't seem to quiet my head. What if she had been born at 24 weeks? Thank goodness I did the 5 weeks of bed rest. But what if we had gone for a cerclage instead of a pessary? What if I hadn't been released from the hospital? What if I wasn't allergic to the indomethacin and could have used it to halt labor just another day or two? An allergic reaction for me that would have allowed my baby to cook surely would have been better, right? It seems to be a dark tunnel of confusion, but we are doing our best to stay positive in that we had a good delivery, we were in the right place to get her phenomenal care from the start, and we need to be grateful that maybe bedrest did buy her another 5 weeks of cooking.
They tell us we can bring her home likely end of January. Grace won't meet her until then. The holidays are going to be extremely tough (but fortunately Grandbarb already ordered her personalized stocking to hang on our fireplace with the rest of the family). Already it is exhausting pumping every 2.5 hours and getting the milk to the NICU, and balancing recovery (I was discharged from the hospital 20 hours after giving birth- I can't believe it hasn't even been 48 hours since this began to unfold) taking care of Grace (fortunately we are still staying at my parents and have their help while our house is being finished), and being at the hospital so we can understand what they are doing to our sweet one.
Yesterday super-dad Grant and I had a chance to hold her for the first time -- and with the cpap machine removed we could finally see just how tiny her features were. Having only seen her through the Isolette, she seemed small but perfect- just a miniature baby. But holding her crushed both of us, she is so tiny and frail and hooked up to many lines and wires. I couldn't help but feel frustrated that I was robbed of the birth experience of holding my baby right when she was born, and leaving her at night to go home is the toughest thing Grant and I have ever done, but we know she is in good hands.
This piece was sent to me by a friend, and if there are any other preemie parents out there reading, I thought you'd appreciate. I did.