Monday, June 25, 2012

Who do you think Gracie looks like?

One of the most common questions we've gotten since having Grace is, "who does she look like?" What do you think? Below are pictures of each kid at around 2 weeks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A New Sister

Matt and I have joked in the past months that Noah and Chloe were more excited about meeting Grace than we were.  The day that Matt's parents arrived in town, Noah kept telling us to "leave so you can get Baby Grace out."  We've been home for 3 full days now and the excitement over Grace's arrival has not waned.  The kids were excited to see Matt and me when we got home...but they were over the moon to finally see Grace.   
Noah, dutiful big brother that he is, immediately started telling us what Grace wanted.  He brought her some toys, told us that she wanted her hat off, etc.  He thinks he knows exactly what she wants at all times and is super helpful.
Chloe couldn't take her eyes off of Grace.  She kept giggling and saying, "Baby Grace is so tiny," or "Baby Grace is so funny!" 
Aside from Noah leaving to get her toys, neither kid wanted to be further than a foot from her since we walked in the door.  Unfortunately, Grace was a little hungry and overstimulated at this first meeting.  Her crying didn't upset the kids at all though, they just wanted to hug her and love on her. 
These are from our first full day home.  Grace has adapted beautifully to being patted, hugged, held and constantly having Noah and Chloe in her face. 
About twice every hour I have a conversation with the kids that goes something like this:
N: Can I hold Baby Grace?
N: No me first...
And on and on.  If one of them is otherwise distracted, or I ask them to wait for some reason, they will continue to ask to hold her until I give up.  It's very sweet.  And a little tiring.

I thought the thing the kids would have the hardest time with was the time I have to spend with Grace.  But they really don't seem to be jealous at all.  They adore her.  The hardest thing for them so far has more to do with my limited capabilities while I'm recovering.  Please continue to pray for a quick recovery for me, and a gentle transition for all of us as this family of five settles into a new normal. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Naomi Grace Valentine, The Birth Story

Wednesday, June 6 at 11:32 AM we welcomed sweet Naomi Grace into the world.  She weighed in at 7lbs, 2oz and was 18 inches long.  A two pound difference may not seem like a lot after a few years, but for us it is a startling difference.  She's so tiny and amazingly sweet...she already has us wrapped around her teeny little fingers. 
For those of you that are interested, the details of the birth are coming up next.  (That means lots of using the word uterus for those of you that would rather stop now, or skip to the pictures).

Okay, so I guess I'll start with last week, which was supposed to be when all of this would happen.  Matt's parents flew in on Sunday and we (Matt and I) left town midday Tuesday to go to Denver (we left the kids with their Mimi and Papa).  The amnio ended up showing that Grace's lungs weren't quite ready.  The doctor said we had about a 10% chance of her needing a ventilator and an additional 10% chance that she could have respiratory issues later on if we delivered that day.  Since I was doing so well (no bleeding, contractions, etc) we all agreed that it would be best to wait.  Our doctor wanted to wait a full week, which meant that Matt's parents wouldn't be able to meet sweet Grace when she came (sniff, sniff).  My mom was able to change her flight to come a day early and stay a day late, so she ended up being on kid duty while Matt and I went back to Denver. 
We arrived at the hospital around 8am on Wednesday and finished up the typical pre-surgery paperwork etc.  We were happy to find out that Matt would be allowed in the OR with me until Grace entered the world, then he would follow her up to the nursery and stay with her while they finished me up.  You know you're a "fun case" when they have med students observing and assisting with your care.  Matt said that there were about 16 people in the OR in total, also an indicator that you're a "fun case."  The surgery went well and they had Grace out fairly quickly.  They held her up so I could see her (from about 8 feet away), but then didn't actually bring her over to me to see up close and snuggle with.  Luckily, the anesthesiologist I had noticed and insisted they bring her back down to the OR so I could get some snuggles in.  Matt said he could tell I was doped up since I was kissing her face which had not yet been cleaned off sufficiently for him to kiss it (haha).  I'm so thankful for those snuggles and Dr.  Aubrey from Ireland who made sure I got them in.  I didn't know it at the time, but it was almost a full 3 hours from her birth until I got to see her again, so those snuggles really counted.

The rest of the surgery was sort of a blur.  They did end up giving me 2 units of blood during surgery and I could hear the Dr and one of the other Drs in his practice that was helping him discussing whether of not the uterus was salvageable.  I'm pretty sure that if I had been anywhere else, I wouldn't still have a uterus now.  Even his colleague told me later that she was chicken and would have just taken it out (which made me even more glad that I had the Dr that I had).  Apparently my uterus was attached to the muscle wall, so even a hysterectomy would have been "a little tricky,"  but I'm just glad it wasn't necessary.  I was with it enough to complement the other Dr on her pearls, so I was obviously in good spirits.  And can I say, I really did like that one of my drs was wearing pearls so I could see just made me smile.

After my time in recovery I got to go back to my room and meet Grace again.  She was in the nursery having something done, so Matt went to get her as soon as I got back.  She was asleep and just looked so peaceful (and SO much like Matt).  For the next couple of hours they checked on me a lot and closely monitored my blood loss.  They decided to give me 2 more units of blood, plus plateletes and FFP (plasma).  I'm suddenly SO grateful for all the regular blood donors out there and am glad that I made an effort to be one myself.  Seriously, go donate blood people.  Okay, so the bleeding was bad enough that my doctor decided I needed another procedure.  I was sent to the Interventional Radiology Department for a procedure that sounded really complicated.  When we found out this was going to happen, I had already successfully nursed Grace one time.  Her nurse asked me (just in case they needed to feed her "again") whether I would prefer formula or donor breastmilk.  I don't think I had actually cried about the pregnancy complications a single time until that nurse asked me that.  I heard the word "again" and just lost it.  Apparently since I was in surgery a long time, and Grace was on the smaller side, they pretty much insisted (Matt did rally for me, but submitted to their advice) on feeding her before I got back to her from the initial surgery.  Oh my heart, I was seriously disturbed by this.  Poor Matt, I had been through so much at that point and lost it completely...I know that it just killed him to see me so upset.  Anyway, we agreed that if she needed it, they could do the donor breastmilk, but Matt was going to hold them off as long as possible. 

Grace and Me after my 2nd procedure.
So when I left for the next procedure, I had only spent about 3 hours with Grace (if that).  I was sort of rushed there...but then they didn't start the procedure for practically a full hour after I got there.  They were prepping, etc, but I just kept thinking that I wish I was with Grace and nursing her.  So they put a "catheter" into my uterus and inserted a bunch of "contrast" into it so they could see where the trouble areas were.  They then inserted some sort of foam into the "bad spots" to stop the bleeding.  The instructions were given to me very clearly, but several days later and that's the best way I can describe it.  It was sort of a staged process, cause they had to insert the contrast, then look, then put foam in where necessary, etc.  And all this was through a catheter, so there was a lot of screen watching inbetween the steps.  So it ended up taking much longer than we had hoped, but the IR doctor said it went really well.  And then he said that because of the contrast they inserted, I wouldn't be able to nurse Grace for 24 hours.   So the breakdown I had earlier was nothing compared to the breakdown when I heard "24 hours."  I knew that it was necessary, but I was sort of sobbing...uncontrollably. 

Matt giving Gracie a bottle.
Just like her brother...this girl likes to eat!
They continued to monitor my bleeding closely and were very pleased with how much it slowed down.  Thursday morning my doctor said that it would be very unlikely at that point for me to end up needing the hysterectomy (YAY!).  Around lunchtime on Thursday the goal was for me to actually get up out of bed, walk to the bathroom, and then maybe even get a shower in a little later.  I made it to the toilet alright, but almost fainted (while sitting).  Matt and the nurse got me back to the bed fine, and they put me on oxygen.  Aside from watching my bleeding they were also watching my oxygen saturation, since I was having a harder time breathing than usual.  They ended up deciding to give me 2 more units of blood (for a total of 6) that evening. 

Gracie at 2 days old.  So beautiful!
I woke up feeling SO much better on Friday morning.  Yay again for blood!  We were able to move from the 3rd floor up to the 11th floor, the "Mom & Baby" floor and to a room a third the size of our original one.  I was able to finally get a shower and started feeling much more human.  It was pretty much normal recovery from that point on, with one little blip.  On Saturday around noon a HUGE clot came out.  So huge that the nurse took it down to the 3rd floor (from 11th) so the dr on call  who was about to enter surgery could see it.  We started joking that I had another baby.  In all honesty, when I first saw it I breifly thought that it may have actually been my uterus...until I realized it didn't hurt at that couldn't have been it.  They did check my blood levels again and started me on antibiotics and some meds that would basically stop the bleeding, but those were mostly precautionary.  I had had so little bleeding since the IR procedure that they thought it had just been pooling for a while and it was not new bleeding.  That was all confirmed, so it was nothing to worry about, just a little startling to see.  I really just wanted to leave the staff with something to talk about. 

Ready to go home on Sunday.
So that's pretty much it.  Grace adapted beautifully to nursing again and my milk had actually come in by the time we left the hospital (since we ended up staying for 5 days).  She was discharged at 7lbs, .25oz, so she was already back up to close to her birth weight due to the extra milk and the long stay.  She's doing great and is such a peaceful baby.  She slept the entire drive hope except for the 2 times we stopped so I could change her diaper and nurse her.  I was actually doing great before we left Denver but the drive home in high winds sort of shook me up.  I'm feeling better now that I've gotten the Rx for the strong meds filled, but still can't be on my feet for long or do much more than sit around.  I'm taking full advantage of my one week of full time help so that I'll be ready for it to be over on Saturday.  Thanks for anyone that takes the time to read all of this, please continue to pray for a speedy recovery for me and for Noah and Chloe to adjust well.  They're in love with Grace, but dont' like that I can't do everything for them that I could before.  Pictures of them meeting Grace coming up next...