This past Sunday, the three of us went to Auntie Kay and Uncle Mark's house for a photo shoot. Kaylin and Hannah are so photogenic, it makes me wonder how I got to be so fortunate in life to have such a beautiful family.
Be sure to check out Kaylin's Photo Gallery to see the most recent pictures.
Also, Kaylin had a 3 week checkup this past Friday, and the pediatrician seems very happy with her progress. She was up to 6 lbs. 10 oz.!
This past Friday, Kaylin Ann had her 2 week checkup with a Pediatrician from the University of Iowa Family Care Center. She is currently below the 5th percentile for weight, but she is gaining. Her weight this week was 6 lbs. 2 oz.! The doctor said that they like to see babies gaining 25 - 35 grams per day, but when she calculated how many grams per day Kaylin is gaining, she got a figure of 52 grams! So, even though Kaylin is still really little, she is trying really hard to make up some ground!
Of course, all that weight gain comes at a cost, and that cost is frequent diaper changes. Kaylin seems to be figuring out that she is able to get a good reaction out of her father if she turns her body just the right way, and waits for the most opportune moment to let God's work come forth. This is usually after the old diaper has been removed, and just before the new diaper is secured in place. I normally complain that I am somewhat out of shape when I get winded too easily, but I am now noticing that my reaction time is not as spry as it used to be either. Consequently, changing Kaylin sometimes means changing myself as well. Hannah doesn't seem to have this problem - she is still spry like a cat.
I am looking forward to sharing this endearing experience with Papa Stuntz in a couple of weeks when he and Grandma Susan come for their visit.
Saturday Evening. Hannah and I sitting on the couch, Grannie Annie holding Kaylin on her lap, soaking in as much baby time as she can before she has to leave Sunday morning. Mouth watering aromas of a salmon dinner wafting in from the kitchen. All seems well, and peaceful.
Suddenly, Hannah asks "Does it look like Kaylin is getting blue around the mouth"?
We try to get Kaylin to wake up from her nap, with only partial success. We try changing her diaper - that usually gets her to wake up and fuss a bit. She's still asleep. I try to rock her from side to side - one of the nurses at the hospital showed us that trick. It triggers some kind of a reflex which causes babies to wake up and open their eyes. Again, only partial success.
Kaylin's color improves briefly, but then darkens again into a ghastly blue around her mouth.
While in the NICU, Kaylin had a few brief "episodes" where her oxygen saturation levels dropped. I wrote about that issue in an earlier post. The doctors told us that even if her O2 levels drop, she should be able to pull herself out of it, but without a monitor to see what her levels are at, we were told to watch around her mouth for a blue, dusky color. That's our indication that her oxygen is not where it should be.
We call the 24 hour line at the University of Iowa to ask what we should do. The nurse asks some questions, and then advises us to call the ambulance.
The nurse says "It may be an over-reaction, but I'd rather over-react then to have a dead child".
The hospital is only 1.5 miles from our house, and her color has again improved, so we take her to the emergency room ourselves. Salmon can wait.
Apparently, so can we.
After walking into the Emergency Room, it takes 3 minutes for anybody to come to the window to see what our emergency is. Good thing Kaylin isn't missing a limb.
We are ushered to an examining room, where a nurse checks her oxygen levels. We are relieved to see the machine say 100%.
"The doctor will be in to see you soon".
30 minutes later, the doctor appears. We begin to describe the reason for our being there. The doctor begins touching Kaylin's face.
Hannah asks "Could you please wash your hands" ???
Really? Seriously? Do we actually have to request that the doctor wash her hands before sticking her fingers on our child's face??? Where did she come from just now? Who was she helping just before us? Sure, it could have simply been somebody with a broken finger, but maybe it was the guy next door coughing on the Ebola Virus! (Ok, no Ebola, but it illustrates the point)
Hannah washes Kaylin's face as soon as the doctor steps out of the room. Good call.
Oxygen levels are once again checked - all looks good.
Her temperature is checked, rectal style. Kaylin has a mighty bowl movement during the process. Hannah and I look at each other as if to say, "The doctor deserved that for not washing her hands"! We exchange knowing grins.
We are sent on our way with assurances that we did the right thing by bringing her in, that it's better to be safe than sorry. We are told that it's not uncommon to see a slight bluish color around the mouth, especially if she get's chilled.
We come home, relieved that all is well. We bathe Kaylin to wash away the germs from the emergency room. She goes to sleep peacefully.
If there was a single word I would pick to describe how my mother felt after Hannah and I told her that we were pregnant, I think "elation" does a pretty good job. After all, I am the oldest of four, and the last to have a child of my own. My mother had waited 36 years to see her first-born child become a parent himself, and she could hardly contain her excitement knowing that in just a few months, she would be holding her next grand-child in her arms.
My mother had a wonderful sense of tradition, and one the things that she has always done for her grand-children was to crochet a blanket that was used to bring the little new life home in. Kaylin Ann is her 8th grand-child, and she was excited to get started on a new receiving blanket. I can recall being in her apartment in January of 2010, seeing the bag of crochet hooks and skeins of yarn that would be transformed into Kaylin's blanket.
A new grand-child on the way made the discovery of a tumor on her pancreas much more cruel. It was bad enough that the doctor told her she had terminal cancer, and that she didn't have much time left. Six months was the best estimation we had. Now, she was worried that the inevitable would arrive before little Kaylin did. That was in January... six months from then would be July. With an iron-strong spirit to endure, she told the oncologist that her goal was to be in Iowa on July 10th, Kaylin's due date.
Hannah and I had flown to Oregon to be with mom when she had surgery to remove the tumor - an unsuccessful procedure as the cancer had already spread to her liver. Only two weeks had passed after we returned home to Iowa before my sister Sarah called to tell me that mom had taken a drastic turn for the worse. It was time to return to Oregon. The bag of yarn was still there, a six inch strip of blanket complete.
As I talked to Sarah about what was to come, what preparations needed to be made, and who would complete which tasks, I felt I was conducting a business meeting, rather than preparing to mourn the loss of my mother. Maybe it was subconsciously intentional, placing a buffer between the emotions I was feeling, and the expression on my face and words I spoke. In a single sentence though, Sarah cut straight through the defenses when the topic of Kaylin's blanket came up.
"Mom isn't going to be able to finish Kaylin's blanket, so I'm going to finish it for her - for mom and for Kaylin".
It's curious the things that strike at the heart when you don't expect them to. I was dealing with the worst news of my life with efficiency and steely resolve. The thing that nearly brought me to my knees was that Kaylin would still have her blanket.
Sadly, the very thing that mom was worried about is exactly what happened. She lost her struggle to stay with us on March 29th, 3 months prior to Kaylin's arrival. Before she passed, she told us that she was not afraid to die, that the only thing she was afraid of is that her grand-children would not remember her. Our pledge to her is that her grand-kids will most definately know Grandma Linda.
So, Kaylin, when you are reading this many years from now, when the important things of your teenage years seem much smaller and trivial compared to what is important to you now, look at the blanket that Grandma Linda and Aunt Sarah made for you. Look in the corner where the loops are little bit tighter than in the rest of the blanket. That is the part that your grandmother did, when she was barely strong enough to walk on her own, but still had the strength to do something special just for you. Know that each loop represents the unending love that your grandmother had for you, even before you were born.
Kaylin Ann Brock is named after Hannah's Aunt Kay Flanders, my Mother Linda Brock, and Hannah's Mother Ann Stensland. She bears the proud and honorable surname Brock, given to her by her Grand-Father James Harrison Brock, who adopted me when I was only three years of age.
At 38 1/2 weeks, Kaylin was born a little underweight, and some initial blood work showed that her blood count was a bit high, which could make the blood "sludgy" inside her little body. In addition, her glucose levels were low. Due to these two issues, she was placed into NICU with an I.V. Hannah was in recovery for nearly a day and was unable to see Kaylin, so they placed a small tube into Kaylin's stomach (through the nose) to feed her.
* UPDATE 7/3/2010 *
Hannah has been discharged from the hospital! She is feeling so much better!!! Kaylin is still in NICU, but has been moved to a private room that is larger and more accommodating for parents, complete with recliner, couch and a bathroom with a shower in it. Very nice, since Kaylin will be here at least 1 more night, if not more.
Kaylin had been on a 3 hour feeding schedule, with I.V. fluids. She has now been taken off that schedule, so she is allowed to eat anytime she wants. Her I.V. fluids have been reduced to half of what she was getting. They want to make sure that she's getting enough to eat from Hannah, and that her glucose and blood levels have stabilized before they give her the all clear.
The charge nurse last night said that if she thought we wouldn't miss Kaylin, she'd put her in her pocket and take her home! She is very cute (a non-biased opinion as I'm sure you'd agree), and we can't wait to take her home!
* UPDATE 7/4/2010 *
Independence Day. That is exactly what today is; independence from I.V. fluids. After Kaylin's labs came back this morning and looked good, the NICU team decided to turn off the I.V. We are 1 step closer to going home! Her bilirubin count is creeping up, which could lead to jaundice, but the staff doesn't seem worried or even concerned about it. Kaylin is getting the hang of nursing, so we are excited about that. It is so gratifying to have successful feedings after having several very challenging ones.
Mom and Dad have homework to do in order to get out of here. The hospital requires that we watch several videos, including one on CPR that comes with an infant CPR doll that is about a time and a half the size of Kaylin! We are going to have the nurse walk us through some "how to" things for when we get home so that we feel prepared once they discharge us.
* UPDATE 7/5/2010 *
Last night, Kaylin had a couple of "episodes" where her oxygen saturation levels dropped in conjunction with a drop in heart beats per minute. Besides sounding every alarm in the room, which Hannah and I found very discomforting, the NICU team seemed a bit concerned as well. She didn't appear to be in any distress though, so we are hopeful that this is not indicative of a larger issue.
After talking with the staff doctor this morning, the plan going forward is that she will be here for a couple more days for continued monitoring and evaluation. The doctor said that with her being small, and a couple weeks early, the parts of her brain that control some of those systems might just not be quite developed yet, and these episodes may go away on their own. So, they want to see if she has any more of these episodes, and if/when she does, we are not to intervene by changing her position or talking to her or anything like that. They want to simulate her being at home off of the monitors and what would happen in that situation. Of course, if her saturation and heart rate don't improve on their own, they will take steps to pull her out of it.
As for Hannah and I, we are averaging somewhere between 4 and 5 hours of sleep per night. In a somewhat selfish way, I am glad for the extended stay at the hospital, as it has allowed us to talk to the nursing staff and get hints, tips, pointers, and how-tos that we probably would have missed out on had we done the baby-express option. The staff has been so wonderful with Kaylin's care, and it's been really nice to have an extra person around to change the occasional diaper for us, or just to keep an eye on Kaylin while we go to the cafeteria for bite to eat.
We had accepted the fact that we were going to miss out on all the 4th of July activities and spectacles, but at about 9:00 PM last night, we started hearing "popping" sounds outside. We looked out our window and were delighted at our good luck - we had a front row box seat to a fabulous fireworks display! Viewing the show from Kaylin's hospital room, I couldn't help but think that somehow, these fireworks were just for us; that the sole purpose for this grand display of light and sound was to celebrate Kaylin's arrival into our world. Maybe they weren't really, but in my heart and future's memories, those fireworks spelled out Kaylin's name across the Iowa night sky.
* UPDATE 7/6/2010 *
GREAT NEWS!!!! WE ARE HOME!!!
Kaylin had a great day yesterday and last night, with no further "episodes". Her labs looked good enough yesterday that she was able to get her IV removed (she was no longer receiving fluids from it). She passed her car seat test with FLYING colors! A sweet lady gently placed headphones over her ears, and sensors on the back of her neck, her cheek and her forehead. The small device held in the woman's hand analyzing Kaylin's brain waves as clicking sounds played through the headphones, looking for the electrical activity in her brain that would prove she could hear properly. Pattern found! Kaylin can hear!
This mornings labs showed that her bilirubin count had dropped substantially, her blood counts were coming down (no more sludgy blood), and that her glucose levels were staying within normal limits. Several small victories added together earned her her walking papers!
The drive home couldn't have gone better. Mom at her side in the back seat, Kaylin was peacefully asleep the whole way home - a 45 minute drive.
Upon arriving home, we were greeted by Grannie Annie and her friend Brad, and Auntie Kay. Grannie made scrumptious sandwiches for lunch. The cats took wide-eyed turns smelling Kaylin in her car seat. One of the cats, April, saw Kaylin's little fingers sticking out of her onesie, and rubbed her head up against Kaylin's hand, happy to have one more human to pet her. No problem - the cats all know she's part of the family, and all seem happy to have her here sharing their space.
We introduced Kaylin to her new bedroom, conspicuously devoid of monitors and alarms, wires and tubes, bright lights and lab techs with sharp sticks, and the cries from other babies anxious for more comfortable surroundings. She fed in peace, serene and beautiful.
Our Family Is Home.
Thank you all for your well wishes and congratulations! :-)