|Daddy feeding Ella breastmilk on a q-tip|
Okay, well I'll start with an update on her health. I found out today that I was incorrect about her being on a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). She started on a CPAP but had to be moved to a ventilator when she was struggling to breathe. The ventilator is essentially doing the breathing for her, which I didn't understand until today. THAT was a very scary thing to find out. However, they have been slowly weaning her off it. If I understand it correctly, the way they do that is check the gas levels in her blood every several hours to see how much oxygen she is getting and then they turn the ventilator down so that she is doing more breathing and it is doing less breathing for her. They had thought that maybe she would be off it by today but they found a heart murmur and that's apparently making her body work harder so not quite yet. They did an x-ray and saw (as well as heard) the heart murmur and are treating it with a medication that is supposed to treat the valve. Her doctor told us today that it's extremely common with preemies to have heart murmurs and that usually in babies, they close up but with preemies, a lot of times they don't. Because of her gestational age (29 weeks), she should only need the medication to clear it up and not need anything further. They gave her the first dosage today (it's 3 dosages). The bummer thing is that they stop their feedings during the medication. She was getting 1 ml of my breastmilk every 4 hours. She'll continue getting just a tiny bit put in her mouth every 4 hours though. They put some on a q-tip and spread it in her mouth to get her used to the taste, to swallow and so the enzymes can go down her throat. Today, Shane got to give it to her and she sucked it off the q-tip in a second!! Good thing my breastmilk tastes soooo good! he he he! Other then that, everything is still staying the same and we're hoping she's on a CPAP machine by tomorrow and off the ventilator!
|Mama changing Ella's diaper|
When I went to visit Ella this afternoon, I'd asked about holding her and the nurse said no, not yet (YET AGAIN!). I was super upset because not only did I desperately want to hold her but I also wasn't producing ANY colostrum and I knew that if I could have more contact with her, I would produce more! The nurse had a lactation consultant come in to talk to me about pumping. I told the LC everything I'd been doing--breast massage, pumping every 3 hours, sitting in different positions, smelling a blanket from Ella, seeing pictures etc and she finally asked me if I was doing kangaroo care with Ella. I started crying and said I'd been asking for 2 days but they wouldn't let me! The LC immediately turned to the nurse, questioning why I hadn't held Ella yet. The nurse gave her some lame answers, obviously none of which the LC thought were acceptable and she said to her "No, that's no okay, this mama needs to hold her baby. She NEEDS it. We need to talk to the doctor and make this happen. That's not a good enough reason for her to not be holding this baby." I started sobbing in relief. FINALLY someone had listened to me! I'd been asking to do Kangaroo care (skin on skin contact) with Ella since she was born. I KNEW that it would be good for her and I KNEW it would help bring in my milk! So the doctor came and they PROMISED me I would be able to do kangaroo care that evening at 4:00 when they did her diaper change, check up etc.
At 3:30, Shane came up to the hospital. We loaded up with the camera and wheeled down. Shane did her oral (spreading a few drops of colostrum in her mouth with a q-tip) and I changed her diaper. Before holding her, I used the pump and was able to pump 2 ml colostrum. I'd been struggling all day and hadn't gotten any out so this was nice. I found that if I was in Ella's NICU room and looking at her, I could get some out. After that, the nurse brought the chair over and started readying Ella for me to hold her. I'd take off my shirt and bra and was wearing just an open front nurses robe so that Ella could lay against my naked skin.
|Mama holding Ella for the first time ever! 10-4-10|
When they first gave her to me, and I felt her tiny body against mine, I completely lost it. I felt like an empty part of myself had been filled when she laid against me. It is so natural to hold your precious baby against your skin and I was finally able to hold her!!! It was so amazing. We just sat there, skin on skin, with blankets covering us, rocking in a chair and singing. I sang her a song that my grandma made up for her great grandbabies that includes the baby's name and goes through each person that loves the baby. It goes along to the tune "Oh My Darlin' Clementine" and goes:
'Oh my darlin', Oh my Darlin', Oh my Darlin' Eleanor (or babies name). Mama Christa loves the baby, oh my darlin' Eleanor" (this gets sung to Olivia and her cousin Kyra as well and goes through each person in the family or close friends who love the baby)
Not only do babies love to be sang to of course, but this also gives me the opportunity to share with Ella how much each of her family members, her Godmother and her friends love her already. After I sang to her for a little while, we just sat there but I started dozing off so Shane and I just used the time to talk and touch her. He sat by me for a while and put his hands on her back and kissed her head while she cuddled up close to my breasts. She kept cuddling in closer and squirming herself up. Then she'd close her fingers around my skin. I could have died from happiness right then and there!! The nurse had originally said we could go for an hour. After an hour, the nurse (the same nurse who earlier had told us we couldn't hold her today!) came in and said that Ella was managing so well that it would actually be a good idea to CONTINUE doing the kangaroo care (I felt a very small urge to kick the nurse at this point...) and if we wanted to, we could stay and keep holding her. Would we continue to stay?! UM YES!! Ha ha. So we just kept holding her, talking to her, kissing her head, rubbing her back under the blankets...we were all in heaven. After more then 2 hours, the new nurse came in and it was time to do her check up so we put her back into her solette. It was such a wonderful night for all of us!! And preemie babies need kangaroo care as much as they need breastmilk and oxygen. It's not just a nice thing for them--it's a NEED! So I was just thrilled to be able to finally hold her against my skin, especially for so loong!
After we put her back into the isolette, you could tell she was irritated with the nurse for taking her away from me. She was grumbling and kicking her legs around so daddy put his hands into the isolette and they held hands for a while. When she calmed down a bit, she opened up her eyes and was looking around. She has such beautiful eyes and is SO alert!! She was looking around for a really long time--I was so excited! I must have taken 15 pictures of her with her eyes open (and of course, they all look the same!). We also got two videos from the NICU tonight but the hospitals internet is too slow to download them so we'll have to wait until I get home.
Right before we left, I pumped one more time and was able to get SIX ML of colostrum!!! That doesn't sound like much but in the world of colostrum, it's a TON! Especially since earlier in the day I was unable to get even so much as a DROP out of my breasts!! I was so happy that I was able to get so much for Ella. It's absolute liquid gold and one of the best things I can provide for her right now!!
Here are some more pictures from today. I know this is a really really long blog post, but today was a really, really special day so it deserved one! :)