“My diapers will blot out the sun.” “Then we will change in the shade.”

Today marks Emilia’s seventh day home from the hospital. I’ve learned a lot over the past week: about myself, about parenting, and about Lauren. You like to think as you reach your thirties that you have most of the world figured out. You walk with a sense of confidence, of purpose, that comes from having survived such horrors as high school, college, temp jobs, heartbreak, and all the other notches that mark up the belts of our lives.  Then someone pops into your life that can play your emotions like no other, the good and the bad, without remorse or even awareness they are doing so (yet!); all while at the same time proving you know very little.

I was a non-believer. I would scoff at the stories: how life “changes” after you have a child. When someone would tell me I would “see the world through a different light” I would smile, nod, then move on confident in my ignorance. Well, they were right. Only, the “different light” is some sort of sleep-deprived diaper-changing constant-fear-your-child-is-on-the-brink-of-death hell.

When last I wrote things were going well, then along came lady luck to keep me company. In this analogy lady luck is strep throat, and by keeping me company I mean clobbering me with a baseball bat and instilling a deep fear I’m going to cause the death of my child. I don’t know where the sickness came from; the best I can offer is that perhaps my lack of sleep let the bacteria that has been lurking in my throat throughout my life (I had strep throat almost yearly up until my early twenties) take control. I resisted for a few days and stocked up on cold medication, delving deep into the google-doctor late at night for possible ailments. Today I realized I wasn’t making any progress and a quick trip to the clinic and the doctor’s diagnosis and subsequent prescription for antibiotics showed me why.

Although I was still functional over the past few days every task took on a new element of fear. We purchased some hand sanitizer I use before touching Emilia or her things and I had to give up any little baby kisses for now. Thankfully Lauren has never caught my strep throat over the past seven years which leads me to think she’s immune; if that immunity passes on to Emilia we should be in the clear. As a preemie Emilia is much more susceptible to complications from getting sick and she could easily land back in the NICU. I’ve been monitoring Emilia closely, watching for any temperature changes or a stuffy nose, but so far she seems oblivious to my concerns.

IMG_8016

Pre-sickness cuddle times.

 


On the other side of the equation is Lauren. Unfortunately, as the Bearer of the Milk, she has been getting even less sleep than I am. If you know Lauren, you know sleep is to her what water is to a man in a desert. She needs it, and she will fight to get it. Although I take a shift to bottle once every night Lauren chooses to do the other feedings via her breasts. Even were she to forgo more feedings to the bottle and I she would still need to pump to maintain the milk supply. Couple that with Emilia’s razor sharp beast-gums, which inflict unspeakable horrors during the first sixty seconds of every latch onto the boob, and you have one tired and frustrated mommy.

IMG_8013

Emilia staking her claim on Mount Milk.

Emilia herself has taken to playing some fun games to keep the good times rolling. Oh, time for a diaper change? Watch as I flail about, all the while screaming for you to finish faster and bring me to feast. What’s that, you think I should wear clothes? Sounds like a good time to show you my impression of a turtle. You think I’m done eating just because I’ve laid here staring at you for fifteen minutes? Try again!

 

Of course, she does all this with an incredibly cute face so it’s hard to get upset but she definitely has a career in psychological torture if she so chooses (I’m not sure where those jobs are actually; perhaps as the director of programming for Grey’s Anatomy?).


My cousin came to visit us recently with her nine-week-old in tow. It was interesting seeing the contrast between him and Emilia. Even though the two are only about two weeks apart birth-wise he dwarfs her in every respect. This also explains why all of the children’s clothing we’ve been gifted over the past month seem so huge; that’s just the size of a normal child. For awhile I thought there was a secret race of baby-giants no one told me about (I’m actually kind of sad that there aren’t baby-giants now).

Outside of Emilia our world continues to move along. Our basement is now framed and next week my father-in-law will be here to help with the electrical/plumbing. Lots of time to get things done before we need to start thinking about a nanny or daycare.

As always, thanks for reading.

Damon

 

Advertisements

Home At Last

We made it. Right now it is the morning of our third day with Emilia home. Lauren is sleeping on the couch with Emilia while the two cats, the dog, and I stand watch. I’ve quickly learned that terms such as morning, evening, and night are relative when you have a baby in the house.

IMG_7993

The family having a snooze together. Archer looks a bit hungry.

 

This past Friday I went over to the hospital in the morning after taking care of a few last-minute errands. Lauren had an appointment in the afternoon with a lactation doctor so we took advantage of one last nurse babysitter and ran out to grab some diapers, wipes, and all the other little odds and ends the hospital previously provided for us. When we got back to the hospital we brought in the car seat so the staff could give it the green-light for use.

Before discharge, we were provided with a lot of information by our nurse. When to go in for immunizations, the risks of respiratory syndrome virus, car-seat tips, and many other little things that slip the mind right now. As I sat there listening to her I felt like my dog who, after being presented with a treat placed on the floor in front of him, is told to stay to prove his dedication.

After the information session, I was asked to put Emilia into the car-seat so the nurse could check that we knew what we were up to. I dutifully plunked Emilia down into her seat, fastened the web of clasps and buckles, then smiled to myself with the knowledge that it was perfect. Unfortunately not, the nurse returned to check out my handiwork and gave me a failing grade. She showed me how the buckles had to be tight enough that only a single finger can fit under the shoulder and how to roll up some blankets to give Emilia’s tiny head a little more support. Eventually, we were deemed fit to leave and our nurse snapped a quick celebratory picture.

IMG_7982

The family, all together and ready to head out.

Before leaving Lauren took some time to say goodbye to all the staff she had become so close to over the past month. There were some tears involved and we were invited back for “Preemie Day” in November. With that, we were done. I carried Emilia in her car seat out of the hospital, our family finally together and destined for the rest of our lives.

 


Despite the lack of sleep things haven’t been that bad at home. The hardest part is figuring out how to get anything else done around the house while dealing with Emilia’s feedings, changings, etc. Finding time to cook, do laundry, clean, walk the dog, get groceries, and more suddenly take on a whole new logistical depth. What did people do before you could order your groceries online?

Out of the pets, the cats were the ones who needed the most adjustment. When we got home they were banned from the master bedroom which they protested throughout the night with their tiny little paws reaching under the door and waving back and forth. Archer seemed rather relaxed about the whole thing. He tried to give Emilia a lick or two but other than that he just likes that he gets more cuddle time alongside us on the couch when she is being fed.

Right now Emilia is on a three-hour feeding schedule which she sticks to fairly well. She wakes up, summons the breast, then gets a little bottle time from dad while mom pumps out the remaining milk. She seems to be quickly moving towards only needing to be breastfed which will be nice for Lauren as it will shorten the amount of time we have to be awake during the night. I’ve taken some shifts of just bottle-feeding her so mom can get some sleep but Emilia doesn’t always appreciate my efforts. Then there is the whole debate on how to heat up bottled milk: whether you even should, microwave or no microwave, bottle warmers, etc. The internet is full of anecdotal suggestions which, with the exception of the obvious BPA considerations, proves that this debate will likely rage long after I’m gone. I just keep it simple and throw it in the toaster.

Yesterday we had a visit from the public-health nurse as part of the hospital’s discharge procedures. They come by to see how you are making out, ask if you need any help, and assess the baby to make sure there are no issues. As Emilia still has another month before she should have even appeared in this world it will likely be a while before she can do any visiting. We were warned that her immune system still isn’t that great and to avoid venues with large amounts of the public. This was a blow to me, my plans of attending various bottled milk heating protests now ruined, but at least we were told that short walks outside are okay as long as we protect her from the weather. In what was one of my finer moments I asked the nurse why my spray bottle, the one used for the cats when they scratch the couch, wasn’t working on Emilia when she cried. We laughed and laughed, well… I did anyway.


In an attempt to celebrate both my nerdiness, as well as Emilia’s birth and Lauren’s birthday, I last month commissioned the creation of a pendant for Lauren. My hope was that it would be ready for her birthday but that didn’t really work out. They did, however, manage to finish it just in time for Emilia’s release so I was able to give it to Lauren just before we left the hospital.

IMG_7976

The Triforce of our family.

The bottom two stones are aquamarine, Lauren and Emilia’s birthstones, while the top is blue topaz, my birthstone. There is a channel in the back of the top stone that lets a chain loop through so it can be worn as a pendant. I didn’t have a chance before showing Lauren but eventually, the back of each stone will have our first names engraved there. The general thought behind it was that, like the Triforce, the three of us together can make the world a reality to match our hearts. I know, muuuushy. What can I say, fatherhood made me a bit squishy.

Anyway, that is about all of the time I can squeeze in to write at the moment.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to Emilia meeting all of you!

Damon, Lauren, and Emilia

So Long And Thanks For All The Wipes

Big news:

Emilia is coming home tomorrow!

Last weekend it was suggested by the nurses that Lauren spend the night. According to the night shift Emilia was waking up more during the night now and seemed to be hungry. Lauren packed up her stuff and dutifully headed to the hospital to be with Emilia only to find a baby who had no interest in breast-feeding. The plan was to move Emilia to semi-demand for her feeding; her food would be delayed by a half hour to see if she would wake up and demand some (hence the name, genius). In reality this consisted of Lauren being woken every two hours by the nursing staff, not Emilia, who asked her to try feeding Emilia who, in turn, wasn’t having any of it. The end result was a lot of frustration.

IMG_7973

As a father this pose already has me worried about her future.

 

The next morning we decided to reset. Lauren expressed some of her frustration during rounds and the staff apologized for pushing her to stay too early when Emilia wasn’t ready. We both understood where they were coming from; Emilia has been doing so well and the staff only wants the best for us. While they only wanted to help us get home as soon as we could it was just a bit too soon and somewhat discouraging. We decided that Lauren would return home for the night and if Emilia got feisty the nurses had permission to try bottle feeding her. This turned out to be a poor choice on our part which resulted in a lot of heartache for Lauren.

The next morning we were told that Emilia had bottle fed her entire feed (around 40 or so millilitres at that point) three times during the night. I saw Lauren`s expression plummet and I knew she was upset. Lauren had expected the nursing staff to only try bottle feeding if Emilia was really asking for it. It was hard for her to believe that in one night there was suddenly such a marked difference in Emilia’s behaviour. Obviously we were happy for Emilia but it was just something Lauren really wanted to be part of when it finally happened, especially since she puts so much work into pumping out all that milk for Emilia.

In any event over the next couple of days Emilia really took off. Her volume of oral feeding, both via breast as well as bottle, increased to the point where her feeding tube was removed and she was moved to a full demand schedule. If she wants to eat she has to sing for her dinner (She chooses the worst songs by the way, seriously; they cut right to the bone). Each time she ate she was weighed before and after to see how much she took. If she took too little via breast she was topped up with a bottle. She’s taken a page out of dad’s book and really packed on the pounds to the point where she is now five pounds in weight!

Yesterday I knew we were closing in on the end when Lauren told me the staff gave her some handouts to bring home and read. I took a look through the papers and there seemed to be the usual new-parent advice: don`t shake the baby, don`t drop the baby, don`t microwave the baby. That sort of thing. Anyway, the booklet was labelled “Discharge Documents” so I knew the time was close. Lauren spent the night at the hospital and Emilia fed throughout with no issues.

This morning during rounds Lauren was told that Emilia would be discharged tomorrow and that she was being taken off her monitors today. When I read the text I`ll admit to a few whispers of moisture taking up residence in my eyes. It wasn`t long before that switched to a mild sense of panic. Where do we put her? Who watches her when we do stuff? I’m a real parent now? No more breaks?

Thankfully Lauren has prepared our house to the brim with everything we need for this particular adventure. While I was fretting over things like blankets, bottles, and warmers she was casually explaining that these were all things she has been collecting over the past few months. Whatever we are missing we will pick up in the coming days using gift cards provided for by our friends’ generosity.

Lauren is spending tonight at the hospital but she came home to help me set up the bassinette and get a few minor things ready like the car-seat and change table. It didn’t take long for the cats to decide the bassinette was a good sleeping spot so there may be new boundaries for them in the near future. I set up our baby monitor which seemed a bit surreal. After all this time at the hospital a simple camera and noise/movement monitor seems a bit underwhelming. Where is the pulse and the respiratory rate? How do you know they’re still alive at all times?  I was reminded of when we first arrived at the hospital and the nurse joked about some parents being “crazy” and wanting to purchase monitors for their house. Good thing I’m not like them (insert “The Office” camera look).

When we got back to the hospital Emilia was sleeping in her room. I got to hold my daughter in my arms for the first time in 35 days without any sort of wires dangling from her. I walked her around the room a little bit while Lauren chatted with her sister on the phone, Emilia and I both enjoying our freedom.

After a short visit I returned home to continue getting things sorted and with a task list for the morning. Emilia needs some prescriptions filled prior to leaving the hospital (an iron supplement and more vitamin D) and we still need to purchase some diapers/wipes. The hospital has provided everything for so long I actually forgot you need to buy these things at some point. Tomorrow Lauren and I will use one last free-babysitting card with the nurses to slip over to the store to get our final supplies.

I’ve taken next week off from work so Lauren and I can figure out how to be parents together on our own. I’m sure there will be lots to talk about as make our way through the next few days; I’ll do my best to keep everyone in the loop.

Thanks for reading,

Damon

PS – Respect to anyone who knows the title reference.

The Light at the End of the Soother

I know, it’s been too long.

A lot has happened over the past week so I’ll do my best to get everyone caught up. Without further ado the following announcements have been approved by Emilia’s public relations office: the Ministry of Official Media (M.O.M for short).

Last weekend Emilia’s two aunts, one great-aunt, and her grandmother got to come visit. They each took turns holding Emilia and singing to her, greatly increasing the quality of her musical therapy compared with what mom and dad have been trying lately. It was nice to have the guests and fun to see Emilia interacting with some of her family.  Having myself grown up living cross-country from the majority of my relatives we plan on doing our best to make sure Emilia gets time to know her family. Not too much time of course, anyone who knows my mother knows my waistline wouldn’t survive it, but enough so that she feels welcome from coast-to-coast.

IMG_7894

Emilia with Nanny Angela

This week Lauren reached her breaking point and it was kindly suggested by the staff at the hospital she take a bit of a break. With all the pumping, nursing, travelling, and taking care of everything else that has been going on she hasn’t been getting enough sleep nor enough time for herself. The nurses told us that they had been waiting for this and that she should just take a day or two for herself (weird how the same advice from the lips of a husband invokes such an opposite reaction). I volunteered to take a shift at the hospital (hence my ability to write this today) so that Lauren could just enjoy herself for a while. The only problem with suggesting a break is that Lauren WANTS to be here. Going home and leaving Emilia alone at the hospital is just as emotionally burdensome for her as wearing herself out by being here too much. In any event, we will see how today goes and hopefully Lauren feels a bit refreshed afterwards.

To add to the chaos our rental property in another city flooded this week which caused damage across all three storeys. Thankfully my brother-in-law lives nearby and was able to assist; however, the developing storm between my insurance corporation and the condominium association’s insurance corporation has been quite the treat, one I’ve likened to a pleasant day picking cacti in the desert heat. Oh well, in the end I’m sure it will all work out. Besides, I’m pretty sure this will have exhausted our supply of surprises for the week at least so we should be in the clear now.

IMG_7880

Bath time with mommy!

Today marks Emilia’s 29th day of life and she has reach week 35 of gestational development! Over the past week she has been growing like a weed, reaching 4.7 lbs and putting on an average of an ounce a day. The fortifier has been removed from her milk to encourage her to feed more from Mom and today is the last day she will receive her “Florababy” (a type of probiotic to help digestion). It is crazy to think Emilia has been here for a month already. Looking back through the photographs of her you can see how much she has grown but for us, being here each day, the difference is largely noticeable in the steadily increasing output of creamy-yellow-baby-poop (also the name of a hit lullaby I sing). Emilia has also graduated to her next bed now that she can regulate her temperature on her own!

I wrote too soon (see above paragraph re: surprises). In a cruel coincidence (not irony! thanks tenth-grade English!) on a day I’m here trying to relieve stress from Lauren the word came down from the top; mom needs to start spending the night. Using a delicate vocabulary of grunts and squeals it appears to the nurses that Emilia has decided enough is enough, night-time isn’t for sleeping anymore. Apparently she has been waking quite regularly before her feeds and staying quite alert throughout. Tara, the NNP, tells us this is a sign Emilia is ready to start breastfeeding more and accordingly she has been switched to a semi-demand feeding schedule. All this means is that they will wait an extra half-hour before feeding her to see if she wakes up and demands food herself. Sounds like questionable interrogation tactics to me but we will see how she does.

There is a fold-out bed here for Lauren and the hospital supplies a room to shower in. When I told Lauren she was requested to spend the night she didn’t sound thrilled but I think we both realize this is just another step towards the finish-line. The nurses have told us that if Lauren has too much trouble sleeping in the hospital (the alarms often bring to mind a Star Wars dog-fighting scene) they can bottle Emilia during the night. I’ve been told by the staff here that bottling does not affect a baby’s ability to breastfeed, contrary to the popular myth. That being said they suggested Lauren trying sleeping here to start off with; the more time Emilia gets at the breast the better (redacted joke).

Although things are about to get a little crazier we can now see the light at the end of the soother. I don’t want to get any hopes up, including my own,  but the general feeling here is that within two to three weeks we may be going home.

Thanks for reading,

Damon

Birthdays and Workdays

This is my fourth day back at work and Lauren’s fourth day with Emilia at the hospital by herself. Emilia is doing great; she has continued to gain weight and as of today is at a whopping 4.1 pounds! For a few days we thought she might be gaming the system, holding in giant bowel movements until after her weigh-in’s like a boxer trying to sneak into a higher weight-class, but it seems like her gains are legitimate. Her caffeine has been stopped to see how she does remembering to breathe on her own, very important, and they are starting to wean her off of the human milk fortifier.

Although she’s a bit of a superstar it will still be awhile before she can come home. Lauren tells me that the earliest for overachievers is 35 weeks development (so another week for Emilia) but in our case she still hasn’t gotten the hang of breastfeeding yet. Emilia will root around when she starts to get hungry, and open her mouth when the nipple is presented, but she tires herself out pretty quick and decides she would rather sleep than feed. I’m hoping that over the next week or two as she gains weight she will build up the strength to feed fully and eventually make the journey home.

IMG_7875

Emilia’s first glamour shot.

 

It was a bit of an adjustment returning to work. I had to depend on Lauren’s updates via text message to see how Emilia was doing but I knew she was in good hands. Cold hands true, but nothing can be perfect. Other than that the transition hasn’t been too bad. I go to the hospital after work and we spend an hour or two there before heading home so I can get my baby fix.

Lauren has been getting some help from the lactation consultant (I can’t help but wonder at what the qualifications are. Do they go to a Lactation Academy? If so, is there an underground lactation culture that has been hidden from us all these years?) at the hospital on how to make things easier for Emilia and in the process herself. The combination of throbbing nipple-pump pain, hunching over, and trying to cradle a thrashing preemie requires skills I am ill-equipped to advise her on. They gave Lauren a few tips and a bigger flange for her breast-pump which may help her out until our “Pumpin Pal’s” arrive.

Yesterday was Lauren’s birthday. I took the day off to stay home and bake a cake (Yes, I am a man and yes, that does take all day). One of Lauren’s friends was nice enough to hang out with her at the hospital while I baked. Once I was done I headed over to the hospital where we had some guests over for cake at the NICU before going out for dinner. Lauren picked a vegetarian restaurant, which I’m ashamed to admit, was actually delicious. It was a bit disconcerting that something named after the Lord of Hell was so easily disguised as meat though (check out Seitan on Google).

I think the day went pretty well all things considered. It will be fun next year when Emilia gets to partake a bit more in the action. She made a few grunts but I think she was otherwise oblivious to the festivities. Oh well, a party isn’t a party without someone pooping their pants in front of the guests.

This weekend will be a busy one. If the weather cooperates there may be a visit from a Grandma and some Aunt’s which will be fun. I’ve also been assigned to the basement-storage relocation unit for the household which means I’ll be dragging things out to the garage in preparation for some upcoming renovations.

Our friends and colleagues continue to be awesome with the support of gifts for Emilia, food, and just general help with odds and ends. You know that part in the old Grinch movie where his heart starts to grow? Yeah, that’s me. I feel quite touched by all the good wishes and I hope I can pass on this spirit of generosity and goodwill to Emilia as she gets older. Knowing her mother, who sometimes is the embodiment of empathy and emotion (seriously, who cries when they throw out a sock because it will be lonely), I’m sure Emilia will grow up with more than her share of good naturedness.

IMG_7877

“You think you can just change me any time you feel like it?! Starfish mode ACTIVATE!”

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Damon

 

Great Success and Preemie Guilt

Emilia chose today to finally give breastfeeding a good go. She was able to latch on properly and actually managed to get some milk out and into her mouth. She still gets fed through her NG tube; however, this is one step closer to her taking all her food orally and coming home.

Mom continues to pump milk for Emilia, much to the dismay of Lauren’s nipples. They get so sore after pumping that she can barely have a shirt touch them, even with liberal use of various nipple-creams (who knew those existed). I’ve taken the liberty of doing some research and have found a product called “Pumpin Pals”. I know, it sounds like a bootleg version of Arnold’s classic Pumping Iron. Anyway, they are a type of flange which fits onto the breast pump and allows Lauren to theoretically lean back so she’s not so hunched over. The other benefit, supposedly, is that is disperses the sucking over a wider area. Hopefully it helps her out.

IMG_7834

Dad, the Father Bat, ensuring that Emilia has fond Snapchat memories to look back on.

Last night before we left, as she usually does, Lauren got a bit emotional about leaving Emilia behind. Even with her connected to all the monitoring machines there is still this fear that something will happen when we are not there. It doesn’t help when her eyes are open around the time we are leaving. I’m not sure how much she understands about her world yet but I cant help but think she gets lonely without us. To look into your child’s eyes, have her stare right at you with nothing but innocence, and still have to leave is akin to that first drop on a rollercoaster. We know we can stay overnight here but the chances of getting a decent sleep are nil. Until Lauren can breastfeed the best thing we can do is go home and make sure Lauren is rested for the next day. Right now we have a schedule where we come in the morning and leave at about six in order to walk the dog and prepare for the next day. This time period gives us lots of time for kangaroo care, and cuddle time, as well as ensuring we can take care of some responsibilities at home.

Leaving your infant in the NICU while you go home comes with a hearty helping of guilt. I’m a bad parent, I should be there, what do the nurses think, what do my friends think? All of these questions weigh on you, despite the fact they are largely baseless, and erode what is already a fragile state-of-mind. There has been lots written and discussed on this topic online (just try a quick search and you’ll see the amount of differing opinions) but I’ll offer my two cents for other parents who find themselves in this situation: there is no right answer. Just do what is right for you. Love isn’t measured by how much time you spend with someone fretting and stressing in a hospital room. Eventually you will be together 24/7 so make sure you’re as mentally and physically ready as you can be to give the best care you can when that time comes.

Tomorrow I go back to work so there is a good chance my semi-daily posts may be reduced to once a week. I’ll do my best to chronical Emilia’s journey for everyone but maybe I’ll get mom to do some guest posts!

Thanks for reading!

Damon

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Emilia is officially at 33 weeks gestation/development today! Yesterday was her two-week birthday so with all the set-up for the bouncy castle (waste of money if you ask me, preemies don’t really do much in there) and all that I didn’t have time to write.

Emilia is now up to 1646 grams. For those of you keeping track that is 106 grams, just under 4 ounces, more than her birth weight. During rounds the medical staff don’t really have much to tell us other than that she is a star. According to the NNP Tara, who doesn’t want to jinx it but were not complaining, Emilia is behaving as though she were a week older than she really is. She is still having the odd bout of apnea but Tara says these will subside as Emilia reaches 35 and 36 weeks of development. Overall they just want us to keep at the breastfeeding attempts until it “clicks” with Emilia and she starts “going to town” on the nipple. Alas, to be a father is to resist those inappropriate jokes.

Tara also got our hopes up a bit by asking if we had a four-pound capable car-seat. She doesn’t expect Emilia to come home THAT soon but suggested we get prepared. This comment was enough for Lauren to “suggest” I put together the stroller and figure out the car-seat last night. The stroller was easy enough, snapping together without much effort. It wasn’t until I flipp;d open the car-seat instructions that I realized what kind of rabbit-hole I’d slipped into: infants, toddlers, weight, max length, anchor points, reverse-dual strap-anchor-clip, levelling bubbles, and more. What happened to the days when you just tossed the little one in the glove-box and got to driving? I’m sure I’ll figure it out, that’s why YouTube exists after all.

We had a visitor yesterday who brought Emilia this fancy blanket he purchased at a local farmer’s market. Lauren was pretty excited as it was something she was planning to get herself. It will be a bit before Emilia can hang out on the pillowed side (the other side is flat) but it’s definitely made our hospital room couch quite a bit more comfy.

IMG_7824

Emilia’s puffy new blanket/mat.

Two days ago I learned something about Emilia I thought might be the case; however, in my fear, I didn’t want to mention it. Unfortunately, it’s been confirmed: Emilia is the smelliest baby on the NICU. According to the nurse during night-shift the door to her room had to be left open to clear the air after she unleashed a hurricane of bowel movements. I can’t say I was surprised, having been with Lauren for just about seven years now, but I fear for her future. Coincidentally, in what was likely an attempt by Emilia to secure her position on the throne, during change time with mom she let loose a cute fart (can you call farts cute? what is happening to me…) right into mom’s face. I can’t say I’ve ever actually seen a fart that up-close before, nor do I think I ever wanted to; such are the joys of parenthood.

Our days now consist of lots of skin-on-skin care with Emilia and Lauren trying to throw in the odd breastfeeding attempt. During this I am trying to schedule the development of our basement in preparation for the time when both mom AND dad are back at work. Emilia’s bedroom now is the smallest one in our house, barely large enough for her crib, change table, and chair. We’d like to move her to our guest bedroom which necessitates the creation of some additional space for guests in the basement. I figure I’ll recoup the costs in rent (13 is a good age right?) when Emilia gets a bit older.

I’ve been doing research on how best to introduce Emilia to our dog and two cats. This had the side effect of me watching numerous videos of cats attacking children, which while previously hilarious, now come with a side of tension. I think I’ll bring some blankets home to introduce the smell of Emilia to the animals over the coming weeks and we will take it from there. Lauren thinks that the cats should be allowed in our bedroom overnight when Emilia is sleeping in her bassinette there; although, I think I may have to utilize a security-council veto there.

With only three days left until I go back to work I am treasuring my time with  Emilia; nothing melts my heart faster than her too-tiny fingers gripping my pinky finger while she cuddles on my chest. These past two weeks have gone by so fast, despite the struggles managing our hospital and our home life. That being said I can tell that it may be time to turn things over to Lauren during the day. This comment, which came from Lauren just now as I type this, is a sure sign:

“Can I pump your nipples so you can see what it feels like? I’d really appreciate that.”

Yes, time to take my leave.

Damon

 

Bath time!

No news is good news. Emilia didn’t gain or lose any weight overnight which, although we want her to keep growing, is not a concern to the doctors. For now things will remain the status quo with her care concerning the amount of food she is given and her medication.

This morning Emilia had another shot at breastfeeding. She had one or two good sucks before deciding that mom, the nurse, and dad (all of whom were hovering over her) could bugger off and let her sleep. The trick is getting her there when she isn’t sleeping, which for her is essentially every minute of the day, so we will try again later this afternoon when she perks up.

Mom had her turn at the wheel for bath time today. I assisted with a butchery job at swaddling (I’ll call it bundling from now on) and Lauren took it from there. Emilia did pretty good during the face wash and hair; it wasn’t until she hit the water that she decided to show us who’s boss. Looking at the pictures you might be a bit concerned about her feeding tube dangling there, but don’t worry. It is capped off at the end and is fully submersible.

I helped Lauren out a bit when Emilia started fussing by utilizing a little known fathering trick handed down through generations.

IMG_7813

Dad’s secret parenting trick for quiet bath time.

After bath time Emilia got some new clothes, courtesy of the hospital, which came complete with a matching hat. I hope for my wallet’s sake she isn’t this attached to style as she gets older.


Outside of Emilia time things are going well. Lauren has been frantically managing her March Madness office pool during her downtime, huddled over her computer and rifling through pages of notes like a back alley bookie.

Today we tried the hospital cafeteria for the first time (largely my fault as my appetite last night prevented any leftovers surviving the night). Surprise, it was actually good. This could have been due to the fact I was starving though as Lauren didn’t share my opinion. Oh well, this morning I set up a big crockpot full of beef and cabbage stew. We should be drowning in deliciousness for the rest of the week.

Right now Lauren has left me to watch over Emilia as Lauren stalks the plains of Kijiji. I think today’s prey is some crib sheets and a playpen. The news this week out of Victoria (think nails in baby toys, although I have to say that story sounds a bit far-fetched) makes me question whether we want to stick to used products but the price sure is right. I know lots of parents are worried about safety, germs, and whatnot (at least until their second child gets the ol’ obligatory soother-wipe-after-falling-on-floor treatment). I share most of the same concerns, probably a little too many if you ask Lauren, but so far nothing we have purchased seems to have any noticeable issues. It’s crazy that people will buy these products for hundreds of dollars just to offload them at a quarter of the price only months later. Score one for capitalism I guess.


Next Monday I go back to work. I’ll still be close by, if Lauren needs me (or, more likely, if I need to see Dad’s little girl), but for now we’ve decided I should reserve some of my time off for when Lauren goes home and needs some help. Thankfully our work is great for this kind of stuff and it hasn’t been an issue. I can certainly empathize with parents that don’t have this flexibility, surely that adds a lot of stress to an already stressful situation.

Two weeks from now Grandma, some aunties, and a great-aunt may be coming to visit. It will be nice to have some family here to see Emilia rather than just via FaceTime. Lauren’s brother was able to visit early last week; however, the majority of our family lives quite far from us and are saving their visiting times for when Emilia gets to come home. Now if only we can convince my sister to take up a job of full-time nanny once we both have to go back to work… hmm…

As always, thanks for following along with us!

Damon

 

How Not To Tell People About Your Preemie

Turns out there is a way you should NOT tell people about your premature baby. For example I offer up this exchange between my neighbours and I last night. To set the scene we had just come outside to find them playing with their cute new little puppy and started chatting.

Me: “So, as you can probably tell from Lauren’s missing belly here (which I give a soft little pat and smile) she no longer has the baby.”

Neighbours: *immediate terror floods their faces*

Me: “Well, I mean, we didn’t lose it. I know where it is, at the hospital (followed by another big smile).”

Neighbours: *awkward confusion, combined with wide eyes and panic, female neighbour grips said cute puppy tighter in her arms*

Me: (This is about when I clue in that something isn’t right.) “No, no, no. She HAD the baby, just a bit early. She’s okay she just has to stay at the hospital for a while.”

Needless to say, I’m pretty sure I left them a bit traumatized. I’ll have to work on my delivery for any future revelations to people we know.

 


 

So Emilia wasn’t too into actual breastfeeding yesterday. She kept her lips firmly sealed and made do with just snuggling up with mom for her feeds. We know not too expect too much but I couldn’t help but feel a tug of disappointment. I think it is because I know the sooner she is feeding well the sooner she can come home. The nurse showed Lauren a silicon cup, heroically named the Guard of the Nipple, which helps preemie babies get a good grip while protecting mom’s nipples from munching. With it on her breast looks a little bit like Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs but I digress (jeez, now that I’ve made that connection I’ll need to work on forgetting it).

During rounds today Emilia was officially designated a GROWER! She’s now up 8 grams from her birth weight to a total of 1548 grams. We were told that last night they were able to lower the temperature of her heated mattress a bit, as Emilia is getting better at regulating her own body, and that will continue until they remove it completely.

I told the nurses and NNP the above story during rounds. They were both shocked and amused. I sometimes like to play a bit of the clueless father so I wonder sometimes if they don’t worry a bit for Emilia’s future, haha.

This morning I did some kangaroo care with Emilia for two hours or so. During cuddling time Emilia had a bad case of hiccups which she followed up with some smiles (which while heart-melting also look suspiciously like the face she makes when she poops). We have company coming to visit shortly following which Lauren will get some skin-to-skin in and try some more breastfeeding. Speaking of Lauren she is currently napping on the couch in front of me. I think the pumping is taking a lot of her energy (she has to get up during the night and in the early morning). There’s really not much I can do for her there so I try to let her get as much sleep as she can and offer my support in cleaning pumping supplies.

 

IMG_7783

Emilia practising for mom with her soother. You can see how small she is compared to my hand. Look at those big eyes!

 

That’s all for now, thanks for keeping up with us.

Damon

Early parole, beads, and a new bed!

Today Emilia has continued her trend of gaining weight, having moved up a full 23 grams or so overnight. For those keeping track at home she is slowly making her way back to her birth weight. Once that happens she will finally be a certified “grower”, half of the grower/feeder power-status she needs to get out of here.

The medical staff is impressed by Emilia’s progress so far, going so far as to label her a star performer on the NICU floor. She is still having the occasional apnea induced episode but because she spontaneously recovers these are not held against her. The volume of her feedings is going to be increased slightly and they are considering reducing the amount of fortifier in MOM that they have been using. Lauren also gets to try breastfeeding her from a breast which hasn’t already been pumped. The plan is to try that this afternoon so hopefully she does well. Emilia has been displaying some decent suckling with her soother so we’re hoping this will be a piece of cake.

20170312_222226209_iOS

Emilia with her trusty soother above her, giving dad the “let me sleep” look.

In bigger news, Emilia got paroled from her isolette and moved to a big girl bed last night! I couldn’t help but feel a bit of pride as the isolette was wheeled away, the monstrosity of it contrasting sharply with the small compact little bed Emilia will now sleep in. The new bed has a heated water pad that goes right under Emilia to help keep her warm; in order to maximize the warmth she gets from the water pad she has to stick to legless/armless onesies for now. As time goes on, and as she gets better and better at regulating her own body temperature, she will be moved to a regular bassinette and she can go back to her cool threads.


As an example of how they try to support families here I wanted to show everyone these cool beads, provided by the Treasure Life Foundation at no cost, which document your baby’s journey through the NICU. Each bead has a meaning and is added as Emilia reaches a milestone or has a new procedure done. It’s a small thing but a fun little addition that makes you feel like part of a family even though you’re surrounded by strangers. I’ve never been much for crafting but I think the idea behind this one is pretty neat.

 

I’ll report back on how her first actual breast feed goes tomorrow.

That’s all for now,

Damon