Monday, November 29, 2010

Two Weeks . . .

It seems crazy that almost two weeks have already passed since Caleb was born. It feels like there hasn't been a moment of rest since then...and he's not even home from the hospital yet! The most exciting occurrence since my last post, is that the ventilator has been taken out. AND, I have finally been able to hold my precious little guy (Sunday night was the first time). It was such a sweet moment. The ventilator was just taken out this afternoon (Tuesday), and it was such a tender experience hearing him cry for the first time. Well, it was more like a soft little wheeze, but so sweet. Caleb settled down quickly after the switch, and was just looking around with bright eyes, taking in all the excitement.

Auntie KC got Caleb this cute "First Thanksgiving" hat. It was quite a hit with all the nurses and other parents visiting babies on Thanksgiving Day. (We only kept it on for a bit, so as not to embarrass him too much. :) Anna and Benjamin sent the brown Teddy-bear for their little brother, and Caleb was able to send them a little thank you note - with some help from mommy. It was very exciting for Anna and Ben-Ben to get a note from their own little brother, and it included a hand and foot print. So sweet.

Thanksgiving plans were up in the air with the uncertainty of bed rest/delivery/Caleb in the NICU/recovery. We ended up having a great Thanksgiving at Chuck and Melissa's. Love the pictures taken that day. Love my little family. The things I have been most reflective on this Thanksgiving, have mostly been pregnancy and baby related. I am so grateful not to be preggers anymore...I feel so much better! I am grateful that I was able to fit in pre-pregnancy pants a mere week after having Caleb. (I really thought it would be different this time, harder to bounce back perhaps...but it's just what my body does. Now I need to focus on regaining all the muscle I lost during the body is much softer now. :) I am grateful for the wonderful care Caleb is receiving in the NICU. I am grateful to my mom, who is still so unbelievably helpful since I've been home. I seriously don't see how I could handle all of this without her. I am grateful to be living in a time with modern medicine and technology...I don't like to imagine life without it, especially lately. I am grateful that Caleb is making progress, after being plateaued for about a week. I am extremely grateful for Ethan; that he was able to give Caleb a blessing with his dad, and that he has been so helpful in every way possible.
***The more progress Caleb is making, the harder it is being away from him. I still don't quite feel like he's "mine" yet, if that makes any sense. Don't get me wrong...I love him, love visiting him, and am so happy for all the little steps he's making. But the nurses are the ones to take care of him most of the time, and it's kind of an odd experience trying to be the mommy of a new, precious baby in the atmosphere of the hospital, and while having an audience (nurses, doctors, etc.). Even though it feels a little odd now, I am positive that when he comes home, all will feel complete and right. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have had a relatively peaceful feeling about all of this unexpected NICU stuff with Caleb. I also think it helps that I was a NICU baby myself, not that I have any memory of it. I was there for about a month for heart related issues, that I grew out of after my first year. Caleb will be in for about that length of time, a bit less perhaps, for lung related issues, and will most likely "grow out of it" after his first year too. With my baby in the NICU, I have heard of so many other's experiences with it. It helps me to worry less, and keeps my perspective positive. I have been blessed with so many wonderful things in my life, and I am grateful for this time of year to focus on that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Caleb J.'s Big Arrival . . .

Caleb's first picture. Our little NICU baby...except he's not that little.

One week ago today, Caleb Jones Rayhorn made his long awaited arrival into the world, and it was quite the adventure. He was born at 11:55pm on Tuesday November 16th, 2010. The 11th hour.  He weighed 7 pounds and 5 ounces and was 20 inches long. A very decent size for 36 and a half weeks. (Since he was just a few days shy of full term, Caleb is considered a preemie, even though he doesn't look like one. :)  Read on if you'd like all the details...but be warned that I mention things like blood, placenta, abdominal incisions, breast pumping, etc. :)

Afternoon before the c-section. Caleb after getting cleaned up and settled into the NICU. And the final picture is my fave...he's in his own little world, healing and resting with his cotton sunglasses, and earmuffs.

Okay. So, the first picture is super unflattering, but I want the record to show how swollen and awful I looked at the end of my pregnancy. And this was after 2 weeks on bed rest mostly in the hospital...(but I've already made good progress - 22 pounds gone...only 3 more to go! At least to get to pre-pregnancy weight . . .  :) This picture was taken the afternoon I found out I would be delivering Caleb that day. I was in the hospital for high blood pressure related issues. It was tricky to monitor - hence the hospital bed rest - because I developed pre-eclampsia on top of gestational hypertension around 34 weeks. Bed rest was...bleh, what you might expect. It wasn't fun, and some days were harder than other, but it could have been worse. I mean, I had my cell phone, a laptop and wireless, TV and movies, Melissa's pretty much a whole library at my fingertips, plenty of visitors (most importantly Anna and Benjamin got to come almost every day), and great nurses who began to feel like family. I was so grateful for all the help and support I received. I was especially grateful to my mom who took over caring for Benjamin and Anna for those two weeks. Wow, what a blessing! Seriously, how could I have handled all of this without my mama?! I missed my babies TONS during the hospitalized bed rest, but we made it through. Thank you to everyone who watched my kids, came to visit, and showed your love and support. It was so much appreciated!

Two days after the delivery. Mommy and Daddy bonding with Caleb J. 

With Ethan still being six hours south finishing up his semester, all of this was a little harder to handle. Everything is easier when my sweetie, lovey, extremely helpful husband is around. Even though I wasn't due until the end of his semester, we knew there was a good chance it would happen at a more inconvenient time (which is one of the reasons the kids and I moved back to Marquette this fall). Ethan and I were prepared to have to experience this separately, and again, had the support of so many family members and friends to step in. So because of the hospital bed rest, I was set to deliver at 37 weeks (full term), which was Friday the 19th. Then, some labs came back unfavorably, so they decided to do it Tuesday the 16th. Ethan had a presentation he had to give that evening, then drove up half way that night, and the rest of the way on Wednesday arriving at 10:30am. I was soooooo happy to see him and have him with me for the day, even though he had to drive back early Thursday morning. Melissa, my mom-in-law, was there to be my "Ethan" until he could arrive. I was thankful to have her at the hospital with me. She got to the hospital at 3pm-ish, and we were both under the impression I'd be going into surgery between 4-6pm. Of course that didn't happen, and we had a lot of time to relax and wait...until about 10:30pm when they started prepping me for the surgery. I was going to have a spinal, just like I did with Anna and Benjamin, which means I would be awake during the surgery, but the anesthesiologist couldn't get it to work. I ending up having a general anesthesia (asleep), which also meant Melissa couldn't be in the room with me. I felt bad for poor Grandma...after all her waiting...but in the end, it was probably for the best, as things got a little intense.

A shot of all the equipment that is used to care for and monitor little Caleb. Mommy and Daddy spending some quality time with their little man.
I had an anterior (frontal) placenta with this pregnancy, which ended up causing some complications during the c-section. The doctor had to cut through the placenta to get to the baby, causing myself and Caleb to loose a lot of blood. Caleb was also in a transverse position, which made it take a little longer to pull him out (not good when the placenta has already been cut)...and he came out bottom first. Because of this, he ended up breathing in some fluids/blood during the process. Again, not good. I woke up hyperventilating and my blood pressure soaring, and I took a while to calm down.  It took me about 10 minutes to realize I wasn't dieing, and to remember that I'd just had a baby, and asked about him.  I learned that little Caleb was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but I was kind of out of it, so I couldn't quite grasp the details. A few hours after the delivery (3 or 4 am), they wheeled my bed into the NICU and Melissa and I were able to meet the babe. Such a precious moment to finally see him! I wasn't quite grasping all the details because of all the medication, but could see by all his equipment that things were serious.  Melissa had been up this whole time, with one short power nap, and again, I was so grateful to have her there. I couldn't sleep after all the excitement, and called my dad at 4:30am to fill him in. He came over promptly to meet his newest grandson, and ended up staying with me until 6:30am, which was so nice (as Melissa had finally dozed off after a very long night).  I couldn't sleep.  I felt calm, but worried, but okay too.  I think I really just felt pretty out of it since I'd been put to sleep for this c-section. 
*Ethan got there Wednesday morning, and it was so good to see him! I was pretty much in a morphine/magnesium haze that whole day, and lacking a whole night's sleep, but I tried to stay awake. It helped that every time I started to doze off, my oxygen levels would drop because of the medicine in the IV, and a loud alarm would go off jolting me awake. Really though, that got old quickly. I was wheeled down a couple more times that first day to see Caleb, but again, my memory of that is blurry. Ethan had to return to school early Thursday morning and returned in the middle of the night Friday. That is a lot of driving in a few short days, poor guy. (After he got here Friday, Ethan is able to stay for the whole week of Thanksgiving, which has been great...and we still have five more days!) I feel like I again physically rebounded quickly with this c-section, which is such a blessing. I was a little worried because of being on bed rest leading up to the surgery, and having this be my third. But no worries; I feel so great just not being preggers anymore! I had to stay in the hospital an extra day for blood pressure monitoring, but that's all cleared up now. Ethan was able to bring me home Sunday morning, and it was such a good feeling leaving the hospital after such a long stay...but bittersweet since my baby had to stay. :(
Caleb was a few weeks early, and his lungs weren't quite finished developing yet. That wouldn't have been a big problem on it's own, but like I mentioned earlier, he also breathed in some fluids during the delivery. That turned into an infection in the lungs called aspiration pneumonia. He is receiving a 10 day antibiotic course, but it may need to be extended a little longer. He also needed a blood transfusion because of the loss of blood during the c-section, and may need another one. Because of IV's and the ventilator tube in his mouth, we haven't been able to hold him yet, but we still feel like we're bonding during our visits by singing to him, talking with him, holding his hand, etc. The most important thing is that he rest, and sleep, and stay calm, and heal. So, Caleb has been there for a week, and we haven't been given any definite time he will be ready to leave, but maybe a few more weeks?   
*The Final Stretch
Okay, just a little more info for anyone still reading. This has been quite the experience, as you may imagine. I am typically such a worrier, but have been able to remain pretty calm with everything. My dad and Chuck gave me a Priesthood blessing the day I delivered Caleb, and I know that helped to invite peace and comfort during a pretty stressful time. Yes, it is sad only being able to visit Caleb in the NICU, and not hold and snuggle him like I want to. It's so hard seeing all the poking and prodding that is necessary for his full recovery. It hasn't been fun going straight to breast pumping, and not being able to bond with him in that way. (I don't mind pumping normally, and did plenty of that with Anna and Benjamin. I just miss being able to connect in that natural way at the start. Oh, and since Caleb is receiving all he needs from an IV right now, I have quite the collection stored up waiting for him. :) After the ventilator comes out, he will use a feeding tube, then on to "normal" eating. Can't wait!) It's hard trying to bond, but being so limited in what we can do right now - and ultimately feeling like the nurses are "in charge" of little Caleb (and are certainly with him more).  It's hard being home and trying to balance everything, while trying to rest and recover from the surgery, and visit Caleb as much as possible, and try to get through my "to do" list before he comes home. Mostly it's the resting that gets pushed to the side. (Thank goodness Ethan is here, and is so incredibly helpful. He has to go back down state on Sunday for final exams for a week and a half, but then he will be here for the rest of December. Yay!)
However, there are so many blessings to recognize at this time too. Caleb may not have any lasting affects from these early problems, or perhaps just minimal affects. Which is comforting to think on, since he looks so sick right now!  :(  We are only a few blocks from the hospital, so it's relatively easy to visit him. (It has been a little challenging throwing Anna and Benjamin back into the mix since I've been home. They aren't allowed to visit the NICU, and probably don't completely understand the situation. All they know is that they are so excited to have Mommy home from the hospital, and Daddy here, and they want to be with us as much as possible. Aw, my poor little sweeties!) It puts things in persective when you meet other parents in the NICU with babies who have bigger struggles to overcome, or the parents who live 2 hours away, and can't visit as often.  (The NICU at Marquette General covers all of the Upper Peninsula.)  It's a blessing that Caleb is receiving such great care and help at a wonderful hospital. We have been given so much love, generosity and support from our family and friends here in Marquette. We are blessed, and we are grateful. There is so much to be thankful for, and we have been trying to focus on that. Well, I obviously need to cut myself off now, but will keep everyone updated when we know more. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Costumes and Bed Rest . . .

We had a very fun-filled Halloween weekend, which was especially exciting because Ethan was here with us. He was actually here from Wednesday evening until Sunday evening...a nice, long visit since classes were canceled for Thur. Yay!

We went to Anna's school on Friday to be spectators for the costume parade. Anna actually chose to dress up in three different costumes this year...none of which we had to purchase! They were things already in her dress up box, which consists of hand-me down costumes from older cousins, garage sale finds, and props from past costumes and dress up gifts. So for school, she chose to be a rock star...or "rocket star" as she likes to call it. And she has the animated singing skills to go along with the costume. :) Ben-Ben was a little nervous around some of the costumes, so Daddy had to hold him close.

Next up is the church "Trunk-or-treat" party. Benjamin also had a few choices for costumes, but he went with the pumpkin every time. That was fine by me, because he was just too adorable in his little pumpkin outfit, and it was easy for him to stay warm. Anna chose to be a ladybug for the party, which would be more obvious if you could see the back of her wings in the picture. Oh, and her cheeks are stuffed with a treat she won on the cake walk in the pic above. The middle picture is Benjamin and Rorie, who spent a good chunk of the evening fighting over chairs. And the final picture is Ben-Ben with one of his favorite people, Logan (the dinosaur).

Love the pic of Anna running with her bag o' candy from car to car. She really got in to it. And the last one is a cutie with two of her good friends from church. Sweet.

Finally we have trick-or-treating. Anna chose to be a witch for this...and Ben was a lil' punkin again.
Love the one of the kids running down the driveway ready to find the next house. That wore off pretty quick, and it turned into us herding the little slow pokes along. Anna loved that I threw on a witches hat too. Adorable picture of the cousins...with Rorie as a cute, little cheeseburger.

Benjamin was tired after about two thirds of the way, and Auntie KC was kind enough to carry him for a bit...even though he is a solid little man! Auntie Ashley was dressed up like a kitty, obviously, and while we were going through the candy, Anna borrowed her black lipstick and tried to replicate the look. I think she did a good job, and she said that is what she wants to be next year. As a side note, Benjamin and I were talking about boys and girls today, and who was who. I'd say, "How about ______?" And Ben would tell me what gender he thought they were, mainly getting it right. When I said, "How about Auntie Ashley?" Ben-Ben didn't say boy or girl, he said, "Kitty." Hehe.
Okay, so just as the title of this post implies, I am now on bed rest for the remainder of this pregnancy. I had an appointment on Tuesday, and my blood pressure was elevated. They had me at the hospital for a 24 hour observation, and then decided that I could go home on bed rest. I'm not going to lie, this sounded pretty appealing to me. I was so excited get back with my kidlets (I missed them tons when I was in the hospital!), but I am required to rest, relax and lay down...which is all I feel like doing these days. So, now that I am a few days into it, I really hope the baby comes sooner rather than later. This could get boring really quickly. And I'm feeling pretty guilty that my mom has so much put on her right now, but I've been making some phone calls, and have had some kind offers for watching the kiddos, so hopefully my mom will get some much needed breaks. Wow, I am soooo appreciative of all she is doing for my little family. Thanks mom! Anna and Ben-Ben don't really understand bed rest, but they're catching on that if they want to spend time with me, they need to bring some books in, watch a movie with me, play Candy Land (Anna's favorite), or just snuggle together. I can get up for meals and the restroom, but otherwise, I'm supposed to be down and out...and not go anywhere except my doctor appointments. It's hard sticking to that though. I just think, "Oh, I'll do this one little thing really quick." But, I've been really trying to be good, because I do understand the importance and potential consequences. So, I'm 35 weeks tomorrow, but I have a feeling I'll have the baby within the next few weeks...I hope. He is already a good size, measuring a few weeks further along than he is, so that's a good thing, especially if he needs to come a little early. So...I'll be sure to keep you all posted!