There's No Place Like...

Friday, August 31, 2007

She has arrived!

Well actually she arrived almost 3 weeks ago, but today, at about 6:30pm, Ezri Mae arrived at home...finally.

Ezri left the hospital weighing 5 lbs. 1/2 oz. She didn't have to come home on any type of monitoring or medication - just the standard iron supplement that all preemies get. They gave us all manner of instructions which was helpful since I'm sure most parents just get the baby and a friendly wave when they leave after a normal delivery. Not that we'll ever be happy about her time in the NICU, but all the extra "Here's how you don't break the baby" advice was very reassuring. The strangest moment of the day was as we were getting ready to leave the hospital and we asked the nurses when she had last had a bath. One of the nurses just smiled at us and said "She's yours. Give her a bath whenever you want."

So now we are home and trying to figure out what exactly one does with a baby. We can't leave the house obviously - at least not together - so we're just sitting and staring at her or cleaning, just because that's what we like to do. We've both made playlists on iTunes for her since she is used to lots of noise the NICU and needs the background. So far, she is eating just fine. They warned us that most babies don't eat as much the first few days they're home since they are overstimulated with trying to adjust to life on the outside. Speaking of adjusting, all of the animals have been fabulous - no licking or aggressiveness, just a few sniffs and then they stopped caring. Except for Trotsky, who has taken on the role of body guard to Ezri. He has hardly left her side since she got here and gets a bit snippy with us when we move her, but at least he isn't giving into any kind of sibling rivalry.

As for how we're adjusting, my biggest fear has been forgetting to feed her or dropping her but so far neither has happened.

We're gonna make it afterall.

Day 19

Not much to report today other than we're still on track to get discharged tomorrow. We'll hit the 48 hour mark Friday at 1:00am, so as long as things continue as they are, the attending doctor should be writing a discharge order tomorrow at morning rounds.

Ezri passed her car seat test. They basically have the babies sit in their car seat for two hours to make sure they don't have any problems breathing or sitting in that position. We arrived right in the middle of the test to find this:

Seeing her in a regular car seat made us realize how small she really is. We kept thinking she was normal size after spending the last 3 weeks surrounded by other babies who are Ezri's size or smaller. Seeing her in a normal-size car seat reminded us that 4 lbs. 15 1/2 oz. is still pretty tiny in the grand scheme of things.

Ezri also successfully nursed for the first time today - no pumping beforehand or anything. She got about 3/4 of her meal right from me but then had to be topped off with the bottle. Preemies tire out pretty quickly at the breast so she fell asleep before her stomach was full, but it was very impressive that she did as well as she did on her first real try. This is how we'll proceed once we get home - nurse until she's tired then top her off with a bottle for the calories. I had hoped the large industrial breast pump would be gone once Ezri came home, but it looks like I'll be pumping away for a few more weeks until she is completely on breast. My days as a dairy cow are not done just yet.

Eighteen Days and a Dozen Bottles

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

So the feeding tube is officially gone!

The night nurse decided to just leave it out and the day nurse didn't put it back in either. Ezri is doing so well with nipple feeding that they're just keeping her on that and allowing her to eat as much as she wants when she wants. This makes a lot more sense than the strict eating schedule they had her on. She's a baby - they're supposed to eat when they want, not when a chart says they have to.

At any rate, with switching over completely to nipple feeding, we are now officially on the 48 hour countdown to going home. Starting at 1:00am on Wednesday, Ezri has been nippling all of her feeds, gaining weight and not having any "episodes" - heart rate dropping, stopping breathing etc. These are the conditions for her being discharged, so once she makes it through 48 hours like this, they will sign the order to get her out of there. So, Friday morning at 1:00am, she will hit the mark, which means they could discharge her anytime after that. We have our "To Do" list made up to get everything ready because we're anticipating that Friday night we will have a baby in the house.

With that said, we should probably address the issue of visitation. Not surprisingly, a lot of you have already asked about coming to see her - both at the hospital and when she gets home. We haven't been taking any visitors because...well just because we haven't felt like it and haven't wanted to overwhelm Ezri with a bunch of handling and passing around. When we come home with her, we would like some time with just the three of us - well and the animals too - to get acclimated to everything and let Ezri adjust to being home. Keep in mind that even though she's not in the NICU, she is still a preemie and easily overstimulated with sights, sounds, etc. Also keep in mind that she will be VERY prone to catching things, so we will be keeping her away from large crowds and other kids until we talk to her pediatrician. With cold and flu season coming up, we've been told to stay pretty isolated and let Ezri get stronger before exposing her to a bunch of stuff. She has already had quite a rough start to life and we don't want to make it worse by having her sick the next few months.

So to paraphrase - we won't be taking any visitors for a while once we're home. Once we decide to, we'll unfortuneately be pretty strict on how many people can come at a time and won't be having any other little ones around. This isn't meant to offend or put anyone out - it's coming from the doctors and nurses in the NICU. The number one priority right now is to keep Ezri healthy and out of the hospital. The next time we see her in a hospital bed, it better be right after she has her own kid.

Edge of Seventeen

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On her 17th day in the NICU, Ezri is really starting to show that she has inherited her mother's overachieving genes.

To all of our shock and amazement, she took 6 out of 8 of her feeds by bottle. This evening, her nurse took out her feeding tube to suction her nose and decided to just leave it out since she is doing so well. She said that if they need to tube feed her anymore, they can just temporarily put another one in and take it right back out. It's such a funny thing to see her with no tape plastered to the side of her face or to have to carefully position the end of the tube so she isn't laying on it. At this point, we're just waiting for our girl to take all of those feeds by the bottle and we'll be on our way home. Her weight is now up to 4 lbs. 13 oz. so we will most definitely be bringing home a 5 lb. baby.

Today's supercute hat came courtesy of Grandma Lynn and Pop-Pop. It was a huge favorite with all of the nurses.

Sweet Sixteen

Monday, August 27, 2007

Day 16: Here is what's happening:

Ezri took 5 feeds by bottle today! She is really moving along with this nippling thing - much faster thn anticipated. At this pace, she'll be getting all of her food by mouth in no time and we can finally say goodbye to the horrid NG tube - i.e. that thing sticking out of her nose. Her weight it up at 4 lbs. 11 oz. which seems huge compared to where she started. She's noticeably filling out and developing those signature Bradley cheecks, though looking at Zach's baby pictures, he may have had some influence there as well.

We also went through the sacred rite of passage of the Diaper Blowout. After a day of insignificant bowel movements, Ezri made us proud by bursting through her small diaper and down the leg of one of her new outfits. A thing of beauty it was and apparently worked up an appetite because she ate very well once it all had passed.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Day 15 of our NICU journey and things are starting to progress rather quickly. We found out that after we had left following her 9:00pm feeding last night, Ezri woke up about 20 minutes before her midnight feeding and let it be known to her nurse that she would be taking a bottle. She sucked it down in less than ten minutes and then slept through her 3:00am feeding so they just tube fed her. At 6:00am, she was up and ready again, so they gave her a bottle but she only got halfway through before passing out asleep. She was able to bottle feed all of her 9:00am, 6:00pm, and 9:00pm feedings for us, and we told her nurse to go ahead and give her a bottle tonight if she's up and is giving signs that she would rather nipple feed than get it through the tube. We are slowly inching our way to complete nipple feedings which means getting closer and closer to having her home finally.

Miss Ezri also surpassed the 4 1/2 lb. mark and is now a hefty 4 lbs. 9 oz. Her temperature remains consistent and we even had to take away some of her blankets because she was getting so warm.

Overall, we're finding Ezri to be a lot more expressive the last few days - lots of shifty-eyed glances and crooked smiles. She is definitely changing quite a bit over the last two weeks and we can't wait to get her home so that we don't have to miss anything else.

By the way, thanks to the Fronzaglio clan and Grandma Bastien for the fancy froggy duds. They fit really well and match the new hat we bought her yesterday.

Two Weeks Down

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hard to believe but Ezri has now been here for two whole weeks.

The good news is, we're finally starting to see the light at the end of this wreched tunnel. Ezri bottle fed two of her meals today with no problem whatsoever. Her jaundice is down to a manageable level so they will wait a few days before poking her for more bloodwork. She is continuing to gain wait - up to 4 lbs. 7 oz. - and is still in the open crib and maintaining a normal temperature.

We were so excited with her progress today that we went on a mini-spree at the mall during our break. We loaded up on preemie clothes that we're sure she'll only be able to wear another month or so, but we happy to blow the money for her to look fabulous while she's still at this tiny size.

One Small Step for Babies, One Giant Leap for Ezri...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Well 13 must be lucky for Miss Ezri because today, her 13th day in the NICU she met two HUGE milestones toward coming home.

First, she was weaned into and open crib - no more incubator. She is holding her own temperature very well and seems to be enjoying being bundled up even more. It did make her a bit sleepy at first - it's a lot of work for a preemie to keep their own body temperature regulated - but by this evening she was wide awake and rarin' to go.

The even bigger milestone today - EZRI TOOK A FULL FEED BY BOTTLE! We were going to attempt it earlier in the day but decdied not to because she was already so tired from being in the open crib. Again, all of this is really exahusting for preemies, even something as simple as drinking from a bottle. Anyway, at her 9:00 feed, we were going to put her to breast as usual. She still seemed pretty exhausted, but started to perk up when we were doing her diaper change and wiping her down. By the time we were done getting her ready to eat, she was wide awake and getting very antsy to eat so we asked the nurse if we could try the bottle instead of the breast. We never thought we would be pushing her to take a bottle instead of breastfeed but if that's her ticket out of the NICU, so be it. We started her bottle feed and she sucked down 15 of her 35 mL right away - almost too fast so we stopped for a minute and then tried again. For a while she just sat there, looking confused, and then the nurse suggested we burp her. After two healthy burps, we went back to the bottle and she sucked down the rest, albeit at a better pace this time. With all of this excitement and the new world of noises that come with the open crib, Ezri was wide awake for a while after her feed so we got our first taste of trying to get a baby to go back to sleep...repeatedly. Luckily, when we come home, we can take shifts and one of us can actually sleep.

So the next step now is to continually increase the amount of times Ezri takes a bottle each day. They won't push her two fast for fear she'll have set back, so she'll be on one or two bottles a day for the next few days. However, if she is really showing interest and continues to do so well, they may increase her faster. Basically, it's all up to Ezri. We keep ttying to tell her how great "home" is so hopefully she'll get the idea and push them to let her out of there.

Twelfth Night (and Day)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

So we've now been in the NICU for 12 days and we can safely say that it is far less pleasant on the 12th day than the first.

The good news is the Big Blue Light is gone - again. Ezri's billirubin level went way down over night so they stopped the light, got her dressed* and bundled her back up. Needless to say, she was much happier today than yesterday. She is also staying awake for longer stretches of time, which is a good sign that she may be gearing up for those nipple feedings. She was awake for most of her feedings today too - another sign that the bottle isn't far off. Breastfeeding "practice" is continuing to go well. She is definitely interested and putting in a lot of effort. Unfortuneately, she wears out after about 15 minutes, but it's progress nonetheless. It must not be too strenuous because she is continuing to put on weight - today she clocked in at 4 lb. 5 1/4 oz., up 1 1/4 oz. from yesterday.

*Many thanks to Ella and Zoe for lending Ezri some of their preemie clothes until she gets to a heartier size. This monkey ensemble is one of the first outfits that actually came close to fititng her.