Saturday, May 31, 2008

Photo Slide Show of Coulter now Online

Elle, our awesome wedding photographer [link to wedding photos - no password needed] (who is hugely talented, but refuses to properly market herself and should be hired by everyone for weddings, births and bar/bat mitzvahs), came over yesterday and gave Coulter a photoshoot. She already has the photos up online in a photoshow featuring the tunes of Randy Newman. We just watched it several times in a row. It's amazing.

Shameless endorsement and plug for Elle: You can purchase prints of Coulter from Elle on the website. Just email her telling which photo you would like, such as "Coulter dsc_0301" and she'll have them printed and sent to you.

First week at home with Senor Fussypants....

We have come up with many many nicknames for Coulter....this week he is Senor Fussypants....

Sean and I are completly in love (and we like the baby too... :)

Here are some recent photos....hope you enjoy!

Monday, May 26, 2008

I'm 6 years old again and its Christmas Eve...

.....that's how I feel right now as I prepare for the last full night of sleep we might get for a few months (years?). I can't believe we get to bring Coulter home tomorrow. I am excited and anxious and so in love with this little peanut. I can't wait to be a our house...with our's all going to be ok...and I can say that now.

Oh boy- now the fun begins! Stay posted!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

53 days to Tuesday

A photo from Mom's Sleepover Last Night with Coulter in the NICU

Coulter is coming home on Tuesday. He's healthy. He's nearly 5 and a half pounds. He's feeding on bottle or breast without any gavage assistance. He's on room air. He's pooping like a champ. All systems are go. Only a brainscan and a car seat challenge stand between him and the exit. After 53 days in the NICU he's finally coming home.

These have been the longest 53 days Nichole and I have ever experienced. Years have passed in less time than these 53 days. Finally the emotional roller coaster of the NICU is nearly over. The routine of getting to the NICU by 8 AM everyday for feeding and changing is almost done. Wearing green wrist bands signifying NICU parent. Eating at the Emanuel Heartbeat Cafe. Picking up the phone outside the NICU and stating that we're not currently infectious with any disease or illness so we can come in. Waiting outside the NICU with other NICU parents until 8 AM or 8PM when the NICU opens so we can enter and see Coulter. Being asked if we've seen the film Period of Purple Crying about how to avoid causing shaken baby syndrome. Scrubbing-In every time we enter the NICU. Being continually interrupted by people and noises as Coulter learns to breastfeed. Being given a time limit for how long Coulter can learn to latch-on before a gavage is used for his feeding. Wrangling chairs from around the NICU to sit next to Coulter's crib. Neonatal monitors with alarms and warning lights. Wires and tubes that have to be negotiated every time Coulter is moved or held. Wrestling with medical staff over use of fortifier supplements in the breast milk. Discussing the link between Autism and the Hep-B vaccination and how people think that he's going to be exposed to "pools of blood" so he'd better get the shot now while he's an infant. Temperature probes. IVs. PICC lines. Being suspected of doing street drugs which may have caused early labor each time we get a new nurse and later getting the, "I didn't mean to talk down to you, it's just that we get a variety of people in here" talk. Getting a heart pang every time a phone number starting with 413 calls to let us know how Coulter is doing (sometimes good and sometimes not so good). The frustration. The lack of control. The lack of privacy. The heart ache. The emotions ranging from elation to terror as Coulter's made non-linear progress and his need for medical assistance varied. Being a NICU parent in general. Nearly done.

At the same time we are so grateful for the NICU. If the Emanuel NICU weren't so phenomenal Coulter wouldn't be as healthy as he is. The staff at Emanuel made this impossible time do-able. Dr. Lara "Rockstar" Williams who probably saved Coulter's life by catching his premature arrival early enough to get medical intervention in place and brought us through a sleepless 10 days in the hospital with an amazing birth. Dr. Baxter and Dr. Lewellen demonstrated great skill and knowledge to Coulter's care. They gave honest and plain explanations regarding Coulter's health without sugar-coating the truth which helped us cope honestly with the severity of Coulter's condition. As for Coulter's nurses, Christy K., Christina, Nan, and Linda, they have been the day-to-day hands-on granite foundation that have helped get us through these 53 days. Christy's humor (razor sharp, a little twisted, and a touch of Manilow) and skill made the NICU a little more "normal" and the darkest times do-able. Christina's big personality that would light up the room and make a sterile environment seem warm and inviting. Nan's seen-it-all done-it-all we're-gonna-get-through-this-just-fine I've-been-here-for-30-years-and-I'm-retiring-next-year attitude kept anxiety at a minimum when things got scary. Linda's attentiveness to Coulter, when he went from Bunnies back to Ducks, kept a developing situation from getting worse. If you are reading this - Thank you so much for everything. You are amazing. If Coulter was a girl he'd probably have been renamed "Dr. Lara Chri2nanda" or some variation by now.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nichole is going to... Pump You Up

The Medella breast pump is the hardest working appliance we own. It's a fixture in Nichole's daily routine and every 3 hours it becomes a fixture on her. It makes a whoaka whoaka whoaka sound that has become the background theme music of our life. Conversations in our house sound like this:

"Sean did you walk whoaka Morgan this morning whoaka?"
"No not whoaka yet, I'm looking for whoaka her collar."
"I whoaka think I saw whoaka it downstairs next to her whoaka bed."
"Should we take whoaka one car whoaka to the NICU or should whoaka I take the whoaka scooter?"
"Why don't whoaka you take the whoaka scooter so I can whoaka go to the whoaka paint store while you are whoaka at work."

The whole point of all of this whoaka-ing is two part. First it gives us the ability to build up an ample supply of surplus breast milk for Coulter to feed him when Nichole isn't around - like Fridays with Dad. Second it keeps Nichole's milk production up while we wait (and wait) for Coulter's arrival home when he'll get fed when he needs it. Above is a picture of our Milk surplus. We've run out of room in the downstairs freezer. It's now being held in the upstairs freezer. It's creeping into every cold storage area in our life. Apparently breast milk can stay good in the freezer for up to 6 months. Each one of the bottles is dated and timed so we know just how long it will stay good for and if we need to rotate it to the front or if we can keep in the deeper part of the freezer.

Nichole has been a champ about pumping while Coulter has been in the NICU. It's been painful, inconvenient, and relentless. She's up at all hours maintaining her pumping schedule. Her life is divided into 3 hour section-ettes between pumping sessions. If we do something outside the house she gets strategic. She pumps just before leaving, keeps the pump in the car in case it's a pumping emergency, and pumps when she comes home again. She even pumped while walking around the block looking for Morgan last Saturday (she was covered up but she admitted that it must have looked strange).

There's a happy part to this breast pumping story... it looks like it's going to curtail in the next few days. Maybe even by Wednesday. Coulter is off oxygen and saturating between 90% and 100% on his own. He's now taking full feeds by bottle and breast almost every feed which means that his gavage (aka feeding tube) will be coming out. His apnea have become almost imperceptibly faint and infrequent. His bradycardia's dip and recover so fast that if you aren't watching the monitor you wouldn't know that the warning bing came from Coulter's monitor.

It looks like Coulter might be coming home next week. No promises are being made, but it's on the table of possibilities. A good sign of things to come is his car seat is at the NICU waiting for the Car Seat Challenge -a test where he keeps his stats up while seated in a reclined 45 degree position. This is a requirement he must pass before he can get discharged from the hospital.

We are out of the whoaka woods now. Looks like Coulter is whoaka doing great and on his whoaka way home. Can't believe whoaka he will actually live whoaka here with us whoaka. It doesn't seem whoaka real. At times we've felt whoaka he would graduate from whoaka college while in the whoaka NICU. After all of this whoaka I think we're ready to stop renting whoaka our son from the NICU and ready to whoaka own. Whoaka.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Looking for something to do??...Love to paint or install flooring??...C'mon over!!

Coulter is doing really well and is up to 5 lbs. 4 oz. his parents are in need of some medical treatment, however, here's the scoop:

If someone else was telling me this story, I am sure I wouldn't believe are the events of our weekend:

Friday night- come home from NICU to discover that air condition unit has leaked into the refinished basement (future nanny's quarters). At that point, the damage looked minimal. We set up a fan and febreezed the place. Hoping some good ol' fashion fresh air would take care of the issue....crisis averted...

Saturday- attempt to prepare house for arrival of baby C and his nanny...have the garage door open and the back gate ajar. Ms. Morgan (puppy dog) decided to take herself on a stroll (which is very common for Morgs) and gets picked up two doors down by a merry band of "do-gooders" who think that she is a poor poor neglected dog who must be dying in the heat. Of course, Morgan's collar was not on, so these "helpers" have no way of calling us and they pick her up and drive her away in their car. In the meantime, we spend 4ish hours posting signs, knocking on doors, etc. until a lady in the neighborhood calls me to say that she saw our sign and thinks it matches a posting on CraigsList. We call CL posters (aka the do-gooders) and they are not answering. They call us back an hour later from a party and confirm, they do indeed have Morgan and we can come pick her up....crisis averted (well, sort of...) Note to self- talk to Morgan about "Stranger Danger."

Sunday (morning)- Morgan wakes up limping and doing gross things that dogs do when they have eaten something bad....what did the do-gooders do with our dog? Sean calls them to ask- Sean and do-gooders have BAD BAD interaction. We are deemed terrible parents by do-gooders...they feel like they have karma on their side....I hope we meet in the afterlife.

Sunday (late afternoon)- We smell something terrible in the basement (this is not the smell of good cheese)...upon investigating, we find that the leak on Friday actually did seep through the carpet and the carpet pad...we need to remove carpet immediately...crisis averted (?)

Universe, I surrender. You are indeed stronger than me....I concede.....and all I have left to say is, "SERENITY NOW!!"

If any of you love to paint and/or install flooring- call us...we now realize that we can't do this all on our own....we are at the point where this stuff has become comical....come on over and share the laughs! There will be some beer in it for you.....and a few for me as well....catch me between pumping.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Riding the waves...

We received this amazing email from our friend Heidi. She and her hubby live in Hood River and clearly enjoy the water analogies...I love this...although I would run screaming from a surfboard, I think this really captures what we are going through.

Thanks, Heidi, Tony and Eli!

So, it's like you took one on the head and then you hit the bottom, and then all the air is knocked out of your lungs and you are tumbling around getting rag dolled like you're in a washing machine. You don't know up from down so you don't know which way to swim and you start to lose consciousness and then rise to the surface. You gasp for air and get some, luckily. You look up and another wave is about to crush you and this time you don't hit bottom, you keep your air, you swim to the top and think "I've gotta get in" and so you paddle in as fast as you can and actually manage to catch a great wave on the way. You get the barrel of your lifetime and you arrive on the beach where your hot wife is waiting in her bikini looking sexy as hell.

You sit down and she hands you an ice cold beer and you look're in Hawaii or some other version of a tropical paradise and you think to yourself...WOW, it was worth it! I'm not saying it wasn't rough but it was worth it and now look...I'm kicking it on the beach with my babe in paradise.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Belly Time

The doctors have a new approach to Coulter's breathing issues. They seem to be caused by gas and acid reflux. To combat this, we have him on his belly and have elevated the bed. He also gets his feeding over an hour and a half time frame instead of the usual half hour.

I hope all this helps him breathe easier....which in turn will help Sean and I do the same.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Trouble breathing = few more weeks in the NICU

I have been spending most of my days at the NICU- preparing myself for what a normal day in the world of Coulter looks like. I now see how many bradys (bradycardia) and apneas he has during a typical day. It gives me a heart attack every time. Basically, when he has a "brady" his heart slows down considerably. It will be beating along just fine at ~150-170 bpm and then all of a sudden, he is plummeting to ~80 bpm. At the same time, he will just up and "forget" to breathe...which also makes his O2 saturations decrease from ~85-95% (comfortable O2 levels for babies) to which time he turns blue.

I heard from the doctor today that since all of these "episodes" keep happening as often as they do, the projected date for getting Coulter home is more realistically closer to my due date (June 17). I was really hoping for Sean's birthday (that was yesterday). I guess I should know by now not to have my heart set on a date.

As a new mom, this is all incredibly stressful. I wish I could keep this blog to just the happy, funny, and upbeat stuff but I also want to keep it real. I am tired, I am stressed, I am just plain sick of leaving our son at the hospital every day and every night. I am heartbroken and exhausted. I used to think I was tough....and then I had a child and found out what it means to have your heart in one place and your body in another. As Sean says, I want off this ride....and I want our baby home.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We're in the LAMBS!!!!!

We were moved to lambs yesterday...and Coulter is now in a more normal looking crib...things are shaping up!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!!

I didn't think I would be celebrating this holiday in 2008! Today was a wonderful day that included two visits to see Coulter. He is doing so well with breast feeding (one of the tasks he needs to master in order to be discharged)! Hope all the moms had a wonderful day! Off to pump!