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May 19, 2014

#MillieMonday {35 Gestational Weeks, 6 Weeks Old}

Phew! What a start to the week. I just glanced at the clock and it is 10:42pm on Monday night. We just returned from the hospital after being there since 9:30 this morning. I just warmed up some leftover spaghetti for dinner and realized I hadn't even thought about updating the blog today. I am so tired. We are both tired. Therefore, this update will be brief and to the point. It's a good one though. Promise. There is an awesome surprise at the end.

This was a BIG week for Millie. She had 4 #MillieMilestones that were definitely worth celebrating.

Millie reached 5 pounds! She has been consistently gaining weight each day and breast feeding more and more. In fact, as of tonight she is officially 5 pounds 5 ounces. The main goal is to get her exclusively breast feeding while also gaining weight. This girl is breast feeding 4 times a day without needing a supplement. And she literally sounds like a piggy while doing it. She has developed this "thing" where she snorts up until she is able to latch on and eat. Does every baby do this? I have no clue. Ours does. The next step is for her to take every single feed from me. We pray she has the stamina to do so.

No more nasal cannula! This was what gave her that little boost of oxygen. You and I breathe 21% oxygen at all times in room air. She had been getting around 21%-23% just to help when she was tired or a little irritable. But now she is breathing completely on her own, which is a huge accomplishment. As of tomorrow, they will no longer be monitoring her oxygen saturation as she has been without support for 7 days now.

She's in her first crib! Miss Millie is able to maintain a body temperature of 98.6 degrees in a normal room temperature. She has had no problems and seems to really enjoy being in an open environment exposed to noises and light. They moved her next to the windows and she seems so alive next to the daylight. One of the nurses hung a colorful stuffed doggie over her head and she loves to look at it. She is so alert! We are enjoying spending time with her and getting to experience what she is like awake. She has the most beautiful, big eyes. We can't wait to see what color they are going to be.

And finally, this will more than likely be the last #MillieMonday update while she is in the hospital because Millie is going home in 5-8 days!!!!! Yes, you read that correctly! The doctor wrote her pre-discharge orders today! We are literally so shocked this is happening so early. When she was born, we were told to expect her to come home around her original due date of June 23rd. She has done so exceptionally well that they really don't have a reason to keep her anymore. She will, however, be going home on a heart rate/apnea monitor which is very common. She has continued to have heart rate dips (all self-resolved) which is very normal for premature babies. She will eventually outgrow this. Our big prayer (for this week) is that she is able to take all of her feeds from me, without supplement, all while gaining weight. As I have mentioned before, nursing burns a lot of calories so babies can tire easily and as a result not gain enough weight. I will more than likely be "rooming in" at the hospital later this week so I can feed her in the middle of the night as well. Please say a quick prayer for my stamina too. :P I hear this can be quite exhausting for the mother and emotionally draining if it doesn't go well.

That should be it for this week. Stay tuned for what happens next. We couldn't be more excited.

Millie, we are all ready for you, love. Mommy washed all of your clothes and put them away, got your curtains up, ordered your diaper bag and picked out your going home outfit. Daddy finished building your shelves for all your books and toys, hung your mobile over your crib, put together your stroller and put together your bassinet. We just have one thing left to do...and that is paint you a special canvas for your wall. We hope you like it. You deserve everything. We are so proud of you and love you so very much. 

May 12, 2014

#MillieMonday {34 Gestational Weeks, 5 Weeks Old}

Since Millie's birth, I have not really posted specifically about our faith on this blog. Aside from the random, "We are blessed" and "We are praying for…" comments, I haven't wanted to get all "mushy" and "preachy" with my readers. But, I have to go there for a second so bare with me.

I've been marveling lately at the sheer strength, will-power and determination Millie exhibits whenever she hurdles another milestone moment.  She manages to breathe room air shortly after birth. Her body adjusts itself to the perfect temperature of 98.6 degrees, necessary to sustain life. She masters nursing - the age-old and logical way of feeding that nourishes her body and helps mature her systems. But how did her tiny body and underdeveloped mechanisms know how to do that? Seriously, it is as if her movements and reasoning concepts are controlled by marionette strings...from someone far more knowledgeable than I.

Too many wondrous things are falling into place in perfect progression and with such
design - and I'm literally blown away every day.  
God, the engineer of the entire human race, knew exactly how to orchestrate this tiny baby's growth and development. Nothing is coincidental or happen stance. Millie's existence and the master plan that controls every blink of her eye is proof of God's hand at work.  I've always been a Christian but especially now after Millie's birth, I ask myself often, "How could anyone witness these miracles and not believe in God?" 

Millie is doing absolutely marvelous. She has now nursed exclusively for three feeds. This means that she was able to get enough milk that they didn't need to supplement through her NG tube for those feedings.  This is just one more thing that brings her closer to going home.  Speaking of home, the nurses have started to say that word more frequently which makes Tyler and me think that time could be inching closer.  There are just a few more things we need to do. We need to ween her off caffeine and watch to see how her body does when it completely clears her system.  The hope is that the amount of alarms/episodes she has will not increase. We also need to have her exclusively nursing for all of her feeds (every three hours). She was unable to nurse today for her 2:30pm feed because she was so tired. We are assuming it is because she nursed exclusively twice yesterday. Babies this small burn a ton of calories while nursing and tire very easily. We pray she is able to keep up her strength to continue to nurse all while continuing to gain weight steadily. 

Millie is transitioning this week from an incubator to a crib which means she is now able to regulate her own body temperature! Go Millie! This also means no more tummy sleeping (which she loves). We are confident this will go well, but if not, no rush. We can always go back to her incubator and try again later if she has trouble on her back in room temperature.

Millie now weighs 5 pounds! I know that doesn't seem like much to most of you but to me, she's huge! Her body is almost twice the size it was when she was born. We love that little chunk. It's like she is a full term baby…just miniature. :P

Life is so incredibly hectic for Tyler and me right now. Between trying to hold down our jobs, rushing back and fourth to the hospital, preparing for Millie to come home, setting up her nursery, keeping up with laundry, dishes, meals, yard work and Cooper, we don't have much time to just pause and reflect on this tiny little blessing. However, every time we go visit her, it's as if all our worries and to do lists vanish. She relaxes us and makes us feel present. 

It was my first Mother's Day yesterday. Tyler and I went to visit Millie last night and when I walked in, Tyler managed to slip a card in the incubator when I wasn't looking. My first card addressed to "mommy" (filled out by daddy) from Millie. Here is what it read:
You shouldn't have to wipe anybody's ANYTHING today. Happy Mother's Day. 
Happy First Mother's Day, Mommy! Thank you so much for bringing me into this world. Even though I haven't seen much yet, I know I'm going to enjoy being with you, daddy and Cooper. Speaking of daddy, I got you some coupons to use to he can take the best care of you. Use them wisely and see if he'll let you use the tickle job one more than once. Thank you for taking care of me and being the best mommy a girl could ask for. I love you so very much! 
                                                                    Love, Millie
                                                                    P.S. I'm addicted to your milk! :)

This Mother's Day also reminded us how thankful we are for our own mothers. My mom has been so helpful making meals and helping us clean and stay on top of our laundry. She also bought me an ice cream cake for Mother's Day which was so thoughtful…and yummy! Tyler's mom is unable to be here at this moment, but the whole week we were in the hospital and the week after, she spent preparing frozen meals, doing yard work, painting the nursery, installing blinds, helping us unpack, running errands, etc. We ask ourselves often what in the world we would do without them. We love them both so much.

Millie, I love you so much sweet girl. I can't wait for you to come home so I can take care of you all the time and kiss you whenever I want. Keep fighting for me. Just a few more weeks, baby.

Mother's Day 2014

Obviously terrified over bath time. #HelloDoubleChin
In this video, Millie was really unsure about the whole hair washing process. Sweet little girl. 

Thank you all for reading and for your continued prayers for our family. God is good!

May 6, 2014

#MillieMonday {33 Gestational Weeks, 1 Month Old}

After giving birth, it is difficult to put your baby's welfare entirely in someone else's hands. The natural instinct is to step in as a mother and resolve every clogged up nose, every hungry cry, and every diaper issue. When your baby has health needs above and beyond those, including breathing, heart rate, red blood cell issues and a host of other complications due to premature birth, you become thankful for the expert, loving hand of the NICU nurses. There is a degree of comfort in knowing that regardless of her status, they are there 24/7. As if that weren't enough, the nurses, lactation consultants and concerned, competent doctors watch over our every need. I can't say enough about all of the individuals who not only perform their responsibilities but manage to be kind, comforting and caring along the way. As this is Nurses Week, it is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge them. I don't know if they follow this blog, but we would especially like to thank Kyla, Kim, Whitney, Allie, Shelly, Jennifer, Brittney, Lori, Susan, Lauren, Cassie, Cathy, Carolyn, Charlene, Bonnie, Summer and Karen. I am sure there are many others that I am forgetting to add to this list. The point is, these NICU nurses and lactation consultants have become like a second family to us. We've laughed and we've cried together (though mostly laughter)…especially when Tyler is changing her diaper and accidentally attaches/velcros one of her legs to her torso. We hope and pray that when Millie graduates from the NICU we can maintain our friendships and remain in contact with everyone.

The last I updated you all, we asked for prayers regarding the possibility of an upcoming blood transfusion for Millie. We are happy to report that after two rounds of blood tests over the last week, Millie is now producing her own red blood cells and we are now able to avoid a blood transfusion all together! This little girl amazes us every single day with her strength and her body's natural ability to grow and accommodate her needs.

Millie now weighs 4 pounds 7 ounces. Her growth is incredible. I look back on pictures from 3 weeks ago and she looks like a completely different baby. She even has multiple chins now! See said chins below.

Papa and Millie

I am continuing to work with Millie multiple times a day in the breast feeding department. As I have mentioned before, it is difficult for babies this little to know how to suck, breath and swallow at the same time. Currently, Millie is able to latch on and suck a few times but then she pulls away. I am not really sure if anything is really transferring. We will get it, I am sure. It is just going to take practice. One of these times she is just going to take off, I just know it. We ask for prayers as she must learn to eat on her own before she goes home. We cannot take her home feeding her through an NG tube. 

One of Millie's night nurses, Shelly (whom we love), swaddled her for the first time last night and she LOVED it. I have heard either babies love it or hate it. I am very happy that we have found something that makes her feel safe, relaxed and comfortable. This will come in handy for when we bring her home.

Cinco De Mayo…Rolled like a big burrito
Millie gets spa treatments now. No really…I'm not joking. St. Luke's is one of the only NICU's that offers massage to preemies. Studies have shown that the stroking touch of massage provides babies with much of the same type of stimulation on the skin that was present when the baby was in utero. The benefits include increased weight gain, increased nervous system development (leads to less apnea and bradychardia), better muscle tone, lower levels of stress hormones, better sleep and awake patterns and increased bonding and attachment. Yesterday, we visited with the massage therapist, Carolyn, and she showed Tyler how to do a 10-15 minute massage on Millie. Since I am able to connect with her while I am nursing, this will be a great way for her and Tyler to bond. Her first session was yesterday afternoon and about 10 minutes into the massage, Millie was out like a light. She especially liked her feet and toesies rubbed. We hope to start establishing a bedtime routine…bath, nursing, massage. This will be fantastic for when she comes home as well. #PrincessMillie

In my spare time, (what time I have) I have really been trying to get her nursery all set up. We are still waiting on curtains, a crib skirt and her rocker. Hopefully those will be in within the next week. Tyler is going to build her some wall hanging shelves to put her books and nicknacks on. He went to NYC this past weekend to marry one of my best friends. I was sad I couldn't be there. {Tara, if you are reading this, you looked so beautiful. I am so happy for you and Brad as I know what a beautiful life awaits you both now that you are married. Love you!} While Tyler was there, he bought the most adorable wooden toy to put on her shelves. As I have mentioned before, her room is very Scandinavian so this will be a perfect addition. I can't wait to show you all the finished nursery. Hopefully it will be complete within the next few weeks.

I will leave you all with a video of Miss Millie and daddy from last week. At the very end, she showcases her feistiness as she tries to pull the tubes out of her nose. She obviously knows what she wants. Love that baby. As always, thank you all for your prayers for our sweet girl. 

Happy 1 month birthday, Millie Catherine. We love to you pieces and are SO proud of you. You are such a fighter. By the way, I kissed your lips last night for the first time and it was the best. I might just do it again today.