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April 21, 2014

#MillieMonday {31 Gestational Weeks, 2 Weeks Old}

Millie was born weighing 2 lb 14 oz. Wait for it…Millie now weighs 3 lb 8 oz…WHAT?!? Little chunk gained all that weight in just 11 days! Milk is doing her body good, that's for sure!

We had a bit of a scare last Thursday night. I always wake up to pump around 3:00am and I just felt the need to call the NICU and check on her. Mother's intuition, I guess. Upon reaching her nurse, Kyla, she mentioned that she was just getting ready to call us. Millie had her first rough night. Her oxygen saturation dropped really low and she wasn't recovering on her own. They were worried she was getting an infection of some sort. She was immediately put back on oxygen and has remained on the nasal cannula since. They took some labs and mentioned they would let them grow in the petri dish for 48 hours and see if any bacteria or infection grew. We got the official word Saturday night that she has no infection. Praise the Lord! The doctor thinks she is having trouble with her oxygen levels because of the rapid weight gain, which isn't a bad thing. Most likely, her body is just having trouble adjusting and will become accustomed to breathing normally as she gains weight.

On April 16th, Millie had a head ultrasound to check for brain bleeds and other abnormalities. Premies are more likely to deal with these complications than a term baby. On April 17, we got the results back and everything looked completely normal and perfect. We are so BLESSED and have a miracle baby! One of the nurses mentioned that they call babies like Millie "feed and grows". This means that they are healthy babies, just small. They feed and grow them in the NICU until it is time to go home. We are so lucky that we haven't had more complications with her being a "29 weeker".

The doctors and nurses think we can start introducing some latching on and breastfeeding within the next few weeks! This is great news and we pray that she enjoys eating. Currently, during her feedings we do something called oral stimulation before she is fed through her NG tube. We either drop a bit of breast milk in her mouth or put some on her pacifier and let her taste it from that. This is just the first step in teaching her that it is enjoyable to eat. She currently associates her mouth and nose area with a lot of bad things…ventilators, nasal cannulas, NG tubes, etc…so hopefully this technique works when she goes to latch on. The doctor is very pleased with the fact that she likes and knows how to suck on her pacifier. She even holds it to her mouth with her hands which is brilliant for a baby her age. We are so proud of her!

Tyler's mom, my mom and my dad were able to hold Millie for the first time this weekend. Tyler's mom held her on Saturday and my parents on Sunday (Easter). We got some really great pictures and will share a few below.

We hope you all had a fantastic Easter! Tyler and I are so incredibly blessed this year to have our sweet girl, amazing family and friends and great jobs with amazing co-workers. Please continue to pray for Millie in the days and weeks ahead. Grow, baby, grow!








April 15, 2014

#MillieMonday {30 Gestational Weeks, 1 Week Old}

Hi everyone! It's me! Finally! Back to the grind of blogging. I want to thank my husband for taking over my blog for the past week as I was unable to write. I also want to thank all of you for constantly praying for our family. Your love and support was so incredible.

I have to admit that last week was the hardest week of my life. But it was also the most rewarding, fulfilling, joyful and peaceful week of my life. Welcoming Millie into the world is the best gift God has ever given me. My heart could explode with love for my husband and baby.

Millie Catherine is doing so well. We are very proud of her and so are all the doctors and nurses that tend to her. As Tyler mentioned in her birth story, Millie was off the ventilator and breathing room air on the first day of her life. They eventually put her on CPAP (oxygen) the next day but only so she wouldn't tire. For a baby born at 29 weeks of gestation, this is an incredible miracle. I am so thankful that I was able to receive both of the steroid doses before she was born. I have a feeling this helped tremendously.

Millie also spent the first week sunbathing under the biliruben lights for jaundice. We are happy to report that her biliruben levels have dropped enough as of yesterday, that for now, she no longer needs to lay out. This could change in the future but for now, she is good to go.

Millie was born at 2 pounds, 14 ounces and, as many of you may know, usually babies drop a bit of weight in the days after birth. Millie is one week old, has returned to her birth weight and has even gained an ounce! Grow, baby, grow!

Millie's alarms are pretty infrequent. In the NICU, when they refer to alarms, it means monitoring of oxygen saturation, heart rate, etc. It is very common for premie babies to have frequent alarms. Sometimes, Millie's oxygen saturation will drop below 90, or her heart rate will significantly change. For her gestational age, they are very pleased and comfortable with the number of alarms she has in a 24 hour period. For instance, yesterday she had 8 within a 24 hour period. She has always recovered on her own without the help of a nurse. Such a strong little girl, and we continue to pray that this remains the case.

Millie poops now! And I never thought I would be so thankful to see poop. It really means her digestive track is working and she is able to tolerate my milk. She started out on 2 ml of colostrum/milk for the first week. As of last night, they increased her amount to 4 ml. The doctor called this morning and said she did great on that amount and they will now be increasing 4ml each day! Grow, baby, grow!

As for me, I am doing great. My pain levels are manageable and my incision healed up really nicely. You can't even really see it. I am producing a ton of milk and the NICU told me to stop bringing it because I was clogging up their freezers. We are going to start freezing it at home now. #COW

Thank you all, again, for your prayers and for the sweet, encouraging comments you continue to offer Tyler and me. They really keep us going and help us keep a positive outlook on Millie's situation. It is going to be a long, tough road but we are just so thankful she is alive, healthy and growing.

I will continue to update this blog every Monday with updates on our sweet girl for those who are interested in following along. Mainly, I just want Millie to be able to read this one day and know how much her mommy and daddy love her and would do anything for her.

Sunbathing under the biliruben lights with a leg just hanging out. 

April 13, 2014

{Baby Millie's Birth Story}

As I sit here in the hospital room with my wife and grab a few minutes of much needed solitude, I cannot help but reflect on the last 5 days of our lives, which have been filled with the most unforgettable, chaotic, emotional, unpredictable, and simply wonderful moments.

This past Sunday, I updated the blog for Taylor and shared the mayhem of being rushed to Saint Luke's hospital on the plaza after Taylor's water broke. The prayers streamed in and by Monday morning Taylor was doing so much better. Her contractions had subsided and she was completely off the magnesium drip by early morning. Oh, and most importantly, she was finally allowed to have some water! The doctors were hopeful the baby would stay in the womb for a few more weeks to continue developing, but anticipated 5-7 days at the very least. However, early Tuesday morning everything changed.

Here is Millie's birth story...

I had become accustomed to sleeping on the couch next to Taylor in the hospital room and waking up frequently in the night to feed her ice chips, place damp rags on her forehead or reposition her with pillows and blankets. Around 4:00am on Tuesday, she softly called my name and complained that her stomach was feeling somewhat tight again. Unsure whether or not this was a true contraction, we decided to page the nurse and notify her of the faint discomfort. The nurse, Heather, came in and explained it was definitely possible these were minor contractions and she wanted to monitor Taylor's stomach for certainty. Sure enough, her contractions had returned but were far from serious. It was possible her body just needed some more fluid and they proceeded to hook her up to an IV. Unfortunately, the contractions increased by a fraction and the nurse felt the need to call the doctor in for a closer look.

Doctor Curry entered the room with quiet confidence and questioned Taylor about her pain level, which was around a three. She determined it was beneficial to perform a cervical exam where she could check to see if the cervix was dilated (warning: it gets a little graphic here). As uncomfortable as this was for Taylor, she too knew it was necessary. The doctor began the examination and we were unprepared for what happened next.

As the doctor reported her findings to the nurse, she muttered these words I'll never forget..."I can see the umbilical cord."

Then with watered eyes and a shaky voice Doctor Curry looked directly at both of us and said, "Your baby's umbilical cord has dropped down into the cervix and we have to perform immediate C-section surgery."

They call this condition a Prolapsed Cord. The umbilical cord can drop down through the open cervix into the vagina before the baby. In our case, because the baby was breech, the fear was that she would be sitting on the cord, which in turn could potentially cut off oxygen and blood supply. All of this can happen in a matter of minutes.

The fear overcame us.

Within seconds the room was filled with about 8 other medical professionals, ready to move Taylor to the operating room. The doctor, whose hand was still on the cord, directed the nurse to take over for her. Her primary job was to hold the baby up off the cord until surgery was complete. She was literally on top of the gurney, with her hand through her cervix on the unborn baby as we all rushed down the forever, long hallway to surgery. It was absolutely crazy.

I was still holding Taylor's hand as the team surrounded her bed, moved her out of the room and down the hallway as quickly as possible, knowing that every second counted. As we approached the end of the hallway and they began to turn into the operating room, the doctor said, "Dad, I'm sorry but you have to stay here." This was absolutely the most difficult thing I've ever experienced. Taylor's eyes were filled with terror and I had to let her go.

Standing behind two giant doors with two small, rectangle windows, all I could see were swarms of people moving around frantically. There were continuous beeps and alarms bouncing off the cold floors of that hallway. At one point I even heard Taylor yell out in pain, although I couldn't see her. There was no one else around. Just me...watching, waiting, and fervently praying.

Taylor's experience at this point was quite different. Immediately after prepping her for surgery, the doctors realized the anesthesiologist wasn't in the room. Everyone kept asking, "Where's anesthesia?!" Taylor swears she heard them ask that about 10 times. She could read their minds through the panicky expression on their faces. It was obvious they were considering making the incision without any anesthesia. They finally looked right at Taylor and said, "We have to get her (baby) out now! We can't find a heartbeat." Without hesitation, Taylor responded, "Just do it." In that very moment the anesthesiologist walked in and they quickly administered the gas for surgery. (We learned later they actually changed protocol and moved the anesthesia offices closer to labor & delivery after this experience.)

Outside the operating room someone handed me scrubs to put on for when they finished. With the scrubs on I paced back and forth waiting anxiously until someone emerged from surgery with any news. I was preparing for good or bad. After about 15 minutes someone from the room exited the large double doors where I was standing and informed me that both my girls were ok. Taylor was still under and would be for at least another hour. The baby was doing great and I was about to meet my daughter. As they moved her from the operating room to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I walked alongside the incubator and saw her little body for the very first time, wrapped in blankets and hooked up to several machines. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

Still in shock from what just unfolded, we arrived to the NICU and the doctor asked me what her name was. As my eyes welt up with tears and my heart spilled over with joy, I proudly said "Her name is Millie...Millie Catherine." They opened the incubator and allowed me touch her sweet, little head and hands for a while before asking me to leave NICU so they could get her settled. From there, I met Taylor's parents in the waiting room. The doctors joined us and explained everything from the prolapsed cord to the C-section to Taylor's condition. We discovered that even the doctors and nurses in the operating room were saying prayers in the midst of the surgery as Millie was not breathing upon delivery and needed resuscitation. It was so evident that God's hands were directing theirs and He was watching over the entire situation.

One of my favorite memories of the day was when Taylor got to meet her daughter for the first time. An hour after surgery we joined Taylor in the recovery room where she was still in quite a bit of pain but alert enough to see Millie. She remained on the gurney as we wheeled her to the NICU, rounded the corner and placed her right next to her daughter. It was truly an unforgettable sight.




Millie Catherine Jenkins was born Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 at 6:15am at 29 gestational weeks.  She weighed 2 pounds 14 ounces and measured 15 3/4 inches long. Immediately after she arrived, doctors put her on a ventilator to help her little lungs breathe. By Tuesday afternoon she was taken off the ventilator and breathing completely on her own. Overall, the doctors have been extremely pleased with her progress thus far and she is showing signs of continued maturity each day. She will remain in the NICU until around the time of her original due date of June 23rd as there are several milestones she must meet before coming home. Taylor will continue updating this blog on her progress frequently.

Taylor has made an impressive recovery after the C-section surgery and is feeling stronger every day. We cannot say thank you enough to everyone who has kept all of us in your prayers. We will never forget the family, friends, nurses and doctors who have already been such an integral part of Millie's life. You have showed us love and support beyond our imagination and we are forever grateful!

We leave you with some pictures of Millie Catherine, whom we dearly love.



Big yawns




Giving much thanks to God,

Tyler

April 6, 2014

29 Weeks: Prayers Needed

Hey everyone, this is Tyler, Taylor's husband. It's been a wild weekend for us (everything is explained in the blog) and unfortunately, Taylor is unable to write this week's blog. So, I'll be stepping in for her and filling you in on the latest news regarding Taylor and our little, baby girl.

We had so many great things planned this weekend, one of which was to complete Taylor's dream nursery. I started painting the room late Friday and woke up early Saturday morning to begin the second coat. Just before heading in there, Taylor called out from the bathroom, "Tyler, I think my water just broke!" Naturally, I questioned if it was really her water because I knew she was only about 29 weeks pregnant. We weren't expecting this until June! However, I immediately called the on-call doctor from Liberty OBGYN and she persuaded us to go straight to labor and delivery. I must say, this all escalated so quickly for us we thought we were dreaming.

Once we arrived, an amazing team of doctors and nurses surrounded Taylor with care and concluded that her water did indeed break, but her cervix remained closed. This meant a couple of things. One, the baby was going to arrive early no matter what. Two, Taylor was staying in the hospital until she delivered the baby. To our surprise, the doctors explained it was best for the baby to remain in the womb for as long as possible, even though the water did break. The longer she stayed in there, the quicker she would develop and become fully prepared for the outside world. They injected Taylor with a steroid shot and started her on a magnesium drip (more on this in a second). Since Liberty OBGYN only cares for babies born after 34 weeks, they transferred Taylor to Saint Luke's on the plaza where they have an excellent Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Before moving on, let me pause and say how impressed I was with Liberty. Their team was so responsive to Taylor's situation and quickly determined how to proceed. It's rare to find medical professionals who can strategically work together with urgency, patience and confidence. They were simply great.

I joined Taylor in the ambulance to Saint Luke's, while Taylor's parents (Mike and Sandi) followed close behind. Shortly after settling in the new room, we met Dr. Lu, who would be overseeing Taylor's care. He carefully explained the plan over the next 48 hours, which would involve another steroid shot and the continuation of the magnesium drip. The two steroid shots will help the baby's lungs mature and reduce any early problems for the baby. Unfortunately, the magnesium drip is a pain, although necessary to help minimize contractions and prevent early labor. It leaves women feeling nauseous, achy, hot, immobile, thirsty and overall uncomfortable. Taylor only has about 14 more hours to go until they take her off the drip and she can regain some much needed comfort.

So, what's the good news? The good news is that we have complete confidence in the doctors here at Saint Luke's and this is nothing new for them. Taylor is officially 29 weeks tomorrow, although the baby is measuring more around 30 weeks, which is great for our situation. The bigger the baby, the better! According to the doctors, keeping the baby in the womb until 34 weeks is the best case scenario and they will try everything they can to make that possible. However, each day is a victory and if the baby were to come tomorrow the NICU would take over with years and years of success.

We also have an incredible community that is surrounding us with prayer and love. Taylor's parents and my parents have been overwhelmingly supportive and helpful. Friends and other family members have reached out to us through phone calls, texts and emails. Our church family is lifting us up in constant prayer, which is such a humbling notion. And we are faithfully trusting in our God who is watching over Taylor and the baby with enduring provision and active compassion.

We will keep you posted in the days and weeks ahead. Please say a prayer tonight for my beautiful wife and baby. I boldly believe in the power of prayer and in times like this we are called to draw near to Him.


Tyler