Thursday, June 22, 2017

First Weeks At Home For Leliana

We came home with Leliana from the NICU on June 6. Since then, it has been wonderful getting adjusted as a family of seven. Things are beginning to fall into place with a bit of a routine. Her four big brothers are so in love with her. She has had quite a few outings since coming home that I will write about.

Leliana's First Week At Home: June 6-June 13
Leliana's first week at home was a little nerve wracking because Rob had to go back to work the day after we got home. He had to work the whole rest of that week from 9-9. He did four twelve hour days. It was rough on him, because he had no time to rest well after us coming home with Leliana. Thankfully after his four long days, he got three days off in a row. Being a stay at home mom, this really did not affect us too much. I just had to go with the flow and adjust to Leliana's schedule of when she would eat to figure out when I would do breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the boys. I also worked around her schedule to figure out when I would do other things like cleaning, laundry, etc. As I write this, we still are on a day to day basis of how we do things during the day because of Leliana's schedule. Her schedule is getting a little more consistent.

Her first week home consisted of going to my 2 week post op appointment, where I was cleared to drive again and I could lift things a little heavier than Leliana, just nothing above 25lbs. until my 6 week appointment which is July 5. She also went to her first doctor's appointment on June 8. At that appointment her pediatrician learned everything that had happened. We got Leliana established as a patient at our pediatrician. At that appointment Leliana weighed 6lbs. 5oz. and was 19 and 3/4in. She was up 2oz. since leaving the hospital. Our pediatrician told us to continue to supplement while nursing. After that appointment is when Leliana began to want less of the supplement and more of my milk (YAY!). After two days of appointments, the boys and I had two days to relax and not go anywhere. I posted this to Facebook in those two days: "Adjusting to having a new baby in the house has been going fairly well. I will be honest, once the boys go to bed, I've been going to sleep on the couch until Rob gets home. Somehow Leliana's schedule has lined up that she is asleep when the boys go to bed. I put everything aside and get some sleep too. Sleep when all the kids sleep, right?
I am so glad, that after 16 nights of not being able to get up in the middle of the night with my baby girl, that I get to. Yes, I enjoy the middle of the night wake ups. Some parents try to rush to get their baby to sleep through the night, but as someone who knows what it is like to miss out on the middle of the night wake ups (Leliana isn't our first baby I have missed middle of the night wakings with), I'm in no hurry for her to sleep through the night and I will take all the middle of the night wakings that I can. I stayed awake for 30 minutes after one of the times Leliana ate last night. I enjoyed some time I didn't get with her while she was in the NICU. Rob and the boys were sleeping so it was just her and I. How I wish I could have those 16 nights back. Yet, I know we can't, so I will do everything I can to make up the time. Staying awake a little longer with her is one way how I'll do it." As you can see from that post, I was so happy to be doing what I missed out on during all our time in the NICU.
Headed to my doctor's appointment.
After my appointment. It wore her out.
Napping the same time her 4 brothers were napping.
Ready for her first appointment.

Morning of her appointment.
Resting after her appointment.
Enjoying cuddles with my 17 month old. He was still adjusting.
Lucas finally wanted to hold Leliana.
Leliana has been letting me cook dinner and eat with the boys. She chilled like this one evening her first week.
Lucas loves the camera.
Leliana at 3 weeks old on June 10.
Sunday, June 11, Rob began his three days off work. We went to church for the first time as a family of seven. If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know my faith is important to me. Going to church, even five days after bringing Leliana home was important to us. Rob, Rob's mom, and myself were the only ones who held her. Our church friends were so happy to see us back home and to see Leliana was doing well. After church, we came home and ate lunch. Then we decided to go to our friend's property (a farm) near a local lake and spend time with our big group of friends and their kids. We had not seen them for at least two to three weeks. It was fun to spend time with them and we celebrated the birthday of one of our friends as well. The boys got dirty from playing outside, but they had such fun, even when we had to pick ticks off of them after getting them home.
First church outfit.
Me and my kids.
Family picture.

Liam, Landon, and Lucas

My friend Amanda holding Leliana.
Tired after a long day outside!
Monday and Tuesday were Rob's last two days off work before doing four more long days in a row. Monday consisted of grocery shopping with Leliana. Logan went with me to be a big helper. Tuesday, Leliana was back at the doctor for a weight check. She weighed 6lbs. and 11oz. She gained 6oz. inside of five days.
Ready for the store!
Logan helping me at the store.
Looking cute!
Thinking about life.
Baby feet!
Leliana's first week was pretty smooth. She slept great at night and she slept through the noise of her brothers during the day. My first week back in the swing of things went pretty well. I got the kids on a consistent schedule. All five kids nap at the same time every day. They also go to bed around the same time. Adjusting that first week went smoothly. We did discover that she does not like sleeping in her bassinet, but she does like sleeping in her Rock n Play. She swam in her newborn clothes. She looked adorable in doing so. 

Leliana's Second Week Of Being Home: June 13-June 20
Rob had to work four long day again (Wednesday through Saturday). On Wednesday I gave all five kids a bath before bed time. I amazed myself at how well I did. I was able to do the same thing on Saturday as well which was the night before church. The four days my husband worked consisted more of continuing to find a groove to get more settled. I think we finally did find a groove by this point. Saturday we made Father's Day cards for Rob. Of course we went to church for Father's Day. On Monday, Rob had to work but not until 2 p.m. so he was home with in the morning and gave me a hand during lunch and nap time. Tuesday Leliana had her ONE MONTH check up. June 20, she turned one month old. It was hard to believe. She weighed 7lbs. 5oz. and was 20in. long. She is in the 7th percentile for weight and 4th percentile for height. The doctor switched to the preemie chart and Leliana is in the 50th percentile for weight and 25th percentile for height. The doctor said we could decrease her supplement even more. She is almost at the point of nursing only, which is what I want.
Loves her Rock n Play
After bath for all 5!
Cloth diaper for newborn!
Belly time
One Month Pictures!

This brings us to today, June 22. I have got caught up on my blog. All in all Leliana's first two weeks here at home have been amazing. In the past few days she has been sleeping well at night and only waking up once in the middle of the night to eat. She seems like a very laid back baby. I love how chill she is during the dinner hour, which can be stressful here because Rob works a lot during the dinner hour. He does have some nights when he is home for dinner (last night and he will be home this Saturday night). Other than the dinner hour being a little crazy at times, the boys seem to be adjusting to having a new baby in the house. They adore their sister. Though my hands are full, my heart is even fuller! I love my kids very much and I love that I can stay home with them. Summer is beginning to become fun instead of busy!

What will be going on in Leliana's third week here at home? This weekend my grandparents are coming to visit with my two cousins. My grandfather's birthday is Sunday so we will be celebrating that. My husband works Monday and then Tuesday will be my husband's and mine 8th wedding anniversary. We don't have a big date planned, but we plan to spend it as a family going to some doctor appointments. I will write a post about my husband and our anniversary in the next few days.
Little smile from Leliana.
I hope my readers have enjoyed reading about our first few weeks here at home with Leliana. Has anyone experienced bringing home a new baby? Share about it in the comments. If you haven't, share something you are thankful for. What I have written about, I'm so thankful to God for. He has blessed our family!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Part 3 of Leliana's NICU Stay

This is the last part of Leliana's NICU stay. When I stopped at part 2, which you can read here, it was the last day of May and at that point we only had 2 days left in the NICU, or so we hoped. I will continue to break it down in days (counting how long she was in the NICU) like I have been in parts 1 and 2. We will pick up on day 12. Spoiler alert for those that have been reading my documenting of what we went through, there are only 5 day left to write about because on day 17, Leliana came home.

Day 12
Rob and I did what became our normal routine of going to see Leliana in the mornnig, then lunch, then walking around a store or two, dinner, and then seeing Leliana in the evening. While we were at dinner, we got a call from the children's hospital that Leliana was moved from where she was in the NICU to a what they considered a step down unit. She had been moved from the actual Norton Children's Hospital to the the regular Norton Hospital, but still in the NICU and still part of the children's hospital. Also on this day she had her 90 minute car seat test. They have to do this test so they know she will be okay breathing in her car seat. She passed the test. The only thing left to do was to be told we would be going home on day 13. As long as she did not have any issues on this night, we would go home, according to the doctor. Of course after seeing Leliana in the evening, I packed up our stuff in preparation of going home the next day.
Day 12 pictures. She loved and still loves sleeping on my chest.
Day 13
When we got to the hospital on this morning, June 2, 2017, we were told Leliana was not going home like we thought. We waited until we heard more from the doctor which wasn't until 1 p.m. that afternoon. In the meantime, we ate lunch and the BellaBaby picture lady came and did Leliana's hospital pictures. You can view her hospital pictures here (click on the word here, the pictures are cute). At 1 p.m. we heard from the doctor via telephone and Leliana's heart rate dropped early that morning. The doctor said she required stimulation to come out of it. Therefore she needed to be watched for 3-5 more days. He said if after 3 days there are no issues, they may send her home then, but we were unsure of that. At that point, we needed to plan for the full 5 days. Rob was going to go home on this day because his mom needed help with our boys. She couldn't do another 5 days alone. However, after reaching out to our friends, they stepped up to help so my Rob's mom could get a little bit of a break. Our friends really are awesome. I've written about them before. We have such a great group of friends. Rob was able to stay with me. However, this meant he still couldn't work so we were slowly running out of funds. After more reaching out, many of my Facebook friends from mommy groups and other walks of life gave money to us so we could still have funds to eat and travel. I realized how blessed I am by amazing friends near and far. That evening we had dinner with my grandparents again and then went back to see Leliana. Afterwards, we went back to the Ronald McDonald House to get some rest after what was another stressful day.
We got one hospital picture printed.
Day 14
This day was June 3, 2017. I would have been 38 weeks pregnant had Leliana not been born early. As rough as the past 2 weeks had been, we were so thankful for our baby girl. She was already a fighter. I could not believe Leliana was two weeks old on this day. I was hoping we would be home that day. My new hope became that we would be home by the next weekend and her 3 week birthday. She had 4 big brothers who were bursting at the seams to meet her and hold her. On this day, Rob took the day to rest so I spent the day going to and from the hospital on my own. Rob needed the rest.
Picture from day 14.
Day 15
As you can see, the updates were getting shorter and shorter. In this second period of 3-5 days of being observed, she was doing even better. Leliana had two small episode on day 14, but we were there when they happened and she brought herself out of them. They were documenting those, but they aren't setting her back as far as how much longer she would be here. They wanted her to bring herself out of them so she could go home. She had one over night of day 14, but she was eating so the doctor thought it was reflux. He talked to his attending, but did say tentatively home on day 16. So we took the rest of June 4, 2017 to rest, especially me because I started feeling sore again. Rob was a great husband and made sure I rested. After resting, we did more laundry at my grandparent's house. Afterwards, we had dinner and then went to see Leliana. Like I said, we built a routine while we were in Louisville with her. After seeing Leliana, we went back to the Ronald McDonald House to sleep in hopes day 16 was the day she would get out.
Wearing a hair bow on a Sunday!

Day 16
We talked to the doctor on this morning, June 5. Leliana would be going home on day 17!! As long as she didn't have any serious apnea episodes on day 16 or day 17, we would be good to go home on day 17. The doctor said she went to Louisville and Norton Children's Hospital because of the episodes. Yes, she had some small ones/one moment where heart rate dropped. The small episodes are normal for newborns, is what the doctor said. Most newborns have small episodes, not everyone knows it because they aren't hooked up to machines. What Leliana was doing at that point is normal and there was no reason to keep her there longer than necessary. We did talk about a monitor. The one they'd send us home with would be bulky. The doctor also said they ring a lot when they shouldn't and they try to reserve the machines for babies who have lung issues (didn't apply to us) and need oxygen machines as well (again didn't apply to us). However, the doctor recommended store bought machines. We had  friend who sent us an Angel Care monitor to give us a peace of my mind at night once we were home. The doctor said that was a good one. We spent the rest of day 16 running some errands that we knew we needed to do back home, but could do in Louisville. This way once we were home we wouldn't have to do them. We did our last final routine of dinner, seeing Leliana, and spent our last night at the Ronald McDonald House.
My  mom came on day 16. Nana and Leliana.
Rob feeding Leliana a supplement bottle.
Day 17
The night of day 16 we told the nurse to call us if she had any serious issues that would keep Leliana from going home. We did not get any so we thought it was safe to assume she would go home. I went early to the hospital around 8 a.m. so I could be there when the doctor came in. The doctor came in a little bit after I got there and we got the all clear that she was going home on this day. We did necessary paperwork to get the discharge started. Rob cleaned up our room at the Ronald McDonald House. At 10:30 a.m. we signed the discharge papers. On June 6, 2017 Leliana came home from the hospital after being in the NICU for 17 days. I had brought her going home outfit with me that I wanted her to wear all along. She looked adorable in it. I was so happy to finally put her in it. We were so happy to finally be taking her home. We put her in her car seat at 10:50 and we were in the car and leaving the hospital at 11:15 a.m. We texted everyone that she was in the car going home and we posted to Facebook as well.
Leliana's NICU Graduate Shirt
She gave a grin because she knew she was going home.
Afternoon and Evening of Leliana's Homecoming
We had a 3 hour car drive ahead of us. We stopped for lunch around noon and then got back on the road around 12:30 p.m. We made it home at about 2:45 p.m. The boys were so happy to see us and Leliana! Of course, Logan, Landon, and Liam wanted to hold her. Lucas, our 17 month old, really did not know what to think of her. Throughout the afternoon and evening, we unpacked/straightened up/tackled some things that needed to be. Mostly we enjoyed being home as a family of 7! The next day was going to be busy. Rob had to return to work and I had a doctor's appt. (my 2 week post op appt.). We relaxed and prepared for some busy days ahead as we got settled in a family.
All cozy for her first night at home.
 This concludes our NICU journey with Leliana. Thank you for reading if you read all three parts. I will begin writing about how our time at home as been since we came home June 6, 2017 and about her first few doctor appointments.

I can't leave my blog post without something inspiring. We received a lot of help while we were in Louisville. I am so thankful for friends and family who helped us with the boys, who helped financially, or who provided a meal for us. We were taken care of while Leliana was in the NICU. I am also so grateful to the Ronald McDonald House and what they do to help families who have children in the hospital. If you don't know about the Ronald McDonald House, you can read about them here. As scared as we were, we kept our faith. God brought us through that storm in our life. Here we are two weeks later of being home, she is doing very well and things are so much better. We are still so happy that Leliana is home with us and did not have to stay any longer than what she did. We couldn't not have gotten through without our faith in God and without our awesome friends and family. If you find yourself going through something as rough as we did, remember God is there for you. Also, lean on friends and family.

Again, thanks for reading all three parts of our NICU journey. Please share this with anyone you may know going through something similar. Would love to hear if you've ever experienced anything like this.