Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year


Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, Blessed New Year! We have a lot to be thankful for this year.

*I am thankful for all our friends and family. Thank you all for your love and support. You mean the world to us.

*I'm thankful for our health and thankful that Hubby's mom is healthy and that my parents are also doing well.

*I'm thankful that we have a comfy home to call our own...even though I haven't stepped foot in it since I was sent to the hospital in Toronto in October!!

*I'm thankful that my pup, Chance is doing well. I lost my beloved feline baby, Trouble to an unfortunate accident last month. I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to my dog.

*I think the safe arrival of our Little One has got to be the greatest blessing of all for Hubby and me. I am so thankful that she is healthy and that everything is going well. She is the greatest gift we could have ever received.
She was pretty unimpressed upset mad ticked off with us here! Note to self: Little One absolutely hates being dressed up in a Santa's hat!
She loves her Daddy. I think Daddy loves her too! ;)
She's getting bigger! When she was just born, she could fit in the palm of my hand! No joke! Now I need two hands to hold her!
She loves looking at her reflection in the mirror. She's obsessed with her hands!
Little One LOVES her bath! She just sits there and watches as we bathe her. She is so patient and curious.
Wow! She looks sooooooooooooo Asian in this photo! She does have her Daddy's ears and hair though!
A quiet moment before bedtime. Goodnight Moon!

This year I will be spending New Year's at Mount Sinai Hospital in the Level 2 Unit with Little One and some parents who are also going to ring in the new year with their babies. Sadly, Hubby will not be able to make it down to visit us. Hopefully soon we will finally be a family together on the Island.
How will YOU be spending your New Year's?

The Long and Winding Road


Rollercoaster rides. That is what having a preemie in the hospital is. I keep saying this, but it's true. Sorry I haven't been able to update the blog recently. It has been really busy with all the changes and I haven't even had time to breathe.

The Good:
1. Hubby was able to spend Christmas with Little One and me. He was in Toronto from Wednesday to Sunday.

2. Little One's first Christmas was spent with her Mama and her Papa. She hated wearing the preemie Santa Claus hat we put on her though! Photos to be posted later on this evening when I return from the hospital.

3. She has been breathing room air on her own since December 23. No more CPAP!
4. She was moved from her incubator into a crib!

5. She has been thriving! She's breastfeeding like a champ!

6. She was moved to the Level 2 Nursery on December 26! One step closer to home!

7. I get to do most of the care myself in Level 2. It's practice for when she comes home!

The Not So Good:
1. Hubby had to return to the Island and now I'm alone again.

2. I've been finding it really rough to deal with things on my own. I'm tired of being here. I'm tired of having to commute (and hour here and an hour back) every day to be with my baby. I'm tired of not being home. I'm just tired.

3. Last night I called the hospital to check in on Little One and she had a CBC (to check for her hemoglobin level) and other bloodwork done, as well as a chest x-ray. Her numbers (oxygen saturation and respiration) have been swinging a lot for the past two days. The doctor wanted to do a full septic on her and I was a bit upset because this would be her second (No, third LP aka: spinal tap because the first one was unsuccessful) since she's been here. They thought she had an infection but all the results came back normal. Anyway, her CBC level is not just okay, but GOOD. They said that most preemies have levels of 80 or so and they would like it to be over 100. Little One's was 111. Apparently, she was just tired and is growing and sometimes preemies just need a little bit of help. She is now on low-flow oxygen, but just 5 cc's. It's like me giving her a puff of air by blowing on her. It's not a lot, but probably just what she needs. She'll be on low-flow for a few days most likely. The nurse I spoke to last night and this morning (yes, I called at 5AM when I was pumping!) said that Little One is doing great and has settled.

4. Maybe I worry too much, but now that she's in a big girl's crib, I feel like she's more open to germs and people touching her. When she was in the incubator, it seemed like she was more protected. I know she needs to be in a crib and I am happy that she's in a crib. I'm just being paranoid because of RSV and the fact that she's a preemie and her immune system isn't that strong yet.

5. See #'s 3 and 4.

6. I'm worried that she will be transferred to another hospital soon because that's normally what happens in Level 2. The babies then move to a hospital closer to home, but the closest hospital with a Level 2 nursery to us is still two and a half hours away.

7. Gah! I just can't wait for her to be bigger, stronger, and ready to come home! I am aware that once she is home I will be just as tired and worn out, but at least I'll be home and I won't have to travel every day to be with her. There's also something more comfortable about being at home and being able to do your own thing.

Photos to come soon! I promise! Again, sorry for being such a bad sister, friend, teacher, cousin, daughter, etc. It's been a crazy few weeks of ups and downs. I guess I'm just being hypersensitive. Little One is doing really well in the grand scheme of things. She is acting "normal" for a preemie. That's what the doctors and nurses keep telling me. Wow. If this is "normal", I'd hate to think of what "not normal" would be like. Okay, I'll stop being overly emotional and count my blessings. Little One is a trooper and a very strong girlie. She's doing great. Hmmm...Keep repeating that to yourself, C! :)
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The BEST Christmas Present Ever!!!


When I arrived at the hospital early this morning to begin my daily rituals with my baby in the NICU (feeding her, singing to her, reading to her, changing her diaper, etc), I was shocked at what awaited me.

Little One was:

1. Wearing clothes! She's usually just in a diaper since it's hot in the isolette (incubator).

2. Breathing on her own! The RT, nurse and doctor took away her CPAP machine. Little One is breathing on her own without the assistance of CPAP or low-flow oxygen!
She still has her NG tube for her feeds since she isn't breastfeeding or bottle feeding exclusively yet.
3. This was by far the biggest surprise...Little One is now in a crib!!! She is no longer in her isolette and is sleeping in a CRIB!!!! That means she's regulating her own body temperature. She's a big girlie, my Little One! Wait until her Daddy sees her! He will be surprised!
Not bad for a baby who is 34 weeks "corrected", eh? For a little one that was born at 28 weeks gestation, she is amazing. She is now breastfeeding, regulating her own body temperature, breathing on her own, gaining weight steadily, tolerating her feeds, and just doing great all around!

Little One's milestones are the best Christmas presents I can ask for. All I want is for my baby to be healthy, strong, and big enough so we can finally go home soon!

On my way home from the hospital I stopped off at Toys 'R Us to buy Little One some Christmas presents. Since she is now in a crib, the parent resource nurse suggested I get her a mobile that will stimulate her and help her development, as well as a mirror (which will also stimulate seeing, movement, exploring, interacting and more).

Little One's buddy in the NICU has a really cool mobile by Fisher Price. The way the animals are positioned is perfect for the baby to see since the animals are facing down, looking at the baby. The leaves are shiny and they move up and down. The rainforest friends dance around and entertain baby. I thought it was a great idea, even though it doesn't really go with Little One's farm theme in her room at home. Anyway, the mobile is colourful, bright, AND it plays music from Mozart, Bach and Beethoven! How great is that? Little One was listening to classical music in utero, so she is no stranger to the works of the Bach, Mozart and Beethoven! We can also alternate between classical music and the soothing sounds of the rainforest.

Price: $54.99

I also picked this up for Little One: It's the Fisher Price Miracles and Milestones Rhymes-Go-Round Mirror. Originally, I was going to go to the Dollar Store to get Little One a large mirror so she could look at herself while she's in her crib. The parent resource nurse suggested I do that. When I got to Toys 'R Us, I found the Miracles and Milestones mirror. It was originally $59.99 and then marked down to $39.99. When I got to the cashier to check out, I was informed that it was now on clearance and was further reduced to $19.99.

I'm aware that Little One would have probably been just as happy with a Dollar Store mirror, but this one is more interactive and it's musical.

I also bought her two little preemie outfits. I know she is growing like crazy, but she doesn't have many preemie onesies. She's got tons of 0-3 months and 6-9 months outfits, but nothing she can wear right now except for the few items some of my girlfriends bought her. C'mon...I had to buy her something! It's her first Christmas! :)

I know it's way too late to get this for a last minute Christmas gift or stocking stuffer, but I simply must tell you about these wonderful little things called Wee Warmers! The maker of Wee Warmers sent Little One two pairs of these adorable, stylish leg warmers. These were her first preemie sized Wee Warmers, so Little One will take them for a test run! :)
Not only do they protect baby's knees when crawling and keep legs warm when exposed to the cold when baby is being carried, but they also make diaper changes easier by not having to take off and put on all the extra clothing! Brilliant!

I am soooooo buying these for all of my friends' babies!
Monday, December 22, 2008

A Day of Many Gifts


I know that having a baby is an emotional time. Having a baby in the NICU is a pretty crazy roller coaster ride. Yesterday, though Little One was doing amazingly, I was just a bit bummed at the possibility spending Christmas at the hospital...just the baby and me. Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. I've always spent it with family and friends. This, being Little One's first Christmas was supposed to be even more special. Plans don't always go the way we expect them to though. I had a crying session with Hubby on the phone. The poor guy must really worry about me because I get so teary and weepy when I talk to him.

Today was a better day though.
1) Little One is a champion breast feeder! She is a little milk monster!
2) She is breathing on her own (no CPAP and no low-flow! Just her breathing on her own)!
3) She's getting pretty chunky!
4) I noticed that she has a tiny little hole (more like an indentation that looks like a pin prick) above her ear. This is a trait from my grandfather (on my mom's side). My granddad, one of my aunts, two of my cousins, Middle Bro, my nephew and now Little One all have that birth mark! I was really shocked when I spotted it while I was breastfeeding her today!
5)The nurse who was in the room with us when I delivered Little One Little One FLEW out of me showed up at Little One's bed side in the NICU. To be reunited with her again just brought tears to my eyes. I will always be grateful to her for being such a calming presence and for being such a great support. She will always be very special to us. I cried, she cried, we hugged...it was a total crying fest! She was so happy to see Little One so big and strong. She said she remembers just seconds after LO's birth that she was the first Code Pink she's ever had to call and that when she scooped up LO from the bed (where she landed beside my foot), LO just fit in the palm of her hand! Now you need two hands to hold LO because she's getting so big!
6) My two wonderful friends, Gavie's Gal and Nathanial's Mom came to visit me at the hospital and meet Little One. We also had lunch in the rather overpriced coffee shop/cafeteria downstairs at the hospital. It was so nice to get together again. The three of us were roommates many moons ago. Now we're all married and we're all mommies. Amazing what changes can come about in but a few years. What amazes me even more is how different our lives are now. We sort of laughed and joked about how none of us ever foresaw me living on an island and marrying a farmer!

Thank you Gavie's Gal and Nathanial's Mom! Love you both! XO
Sunday, December 21, 2008

More Surprises!


I think I'm tired. Actually, I think I'm exhausted. It's just starting to hit me that I have been away from home since October. My baby is almost six weeks old and I have been in Toronto for over eight weeks.

It suddenly dawned on me that I miss my husband terribly. I feel like a single parent since I am doing everything on my own. All the decisions regarding our daughter's health care at the hospital, all the relaying of information...everything is so overwhelming sometimes and it all rests on me. I am honestly so tired, that processing what doctors and nurses tell me is next to impossible. Fortunately, Little One is doing great and there is nothing much to report right now.

The commuting back and forth to the hospital every day is exhausting. Having to wait for the bus in the freezing cold is aggravating. For the past three days, I've had to wait for the bus for over an hour and a half. There was supposed to be a bus at 7:10 in the evening and 7:40 and neither of those buses showed up! I thought that with the increase in public transportation fares, the service would improve.

My parents were going to spend Christmas with us for Little One's first Christmas, but have informed me that they will be spending Christmas with my brother and his family in Kingston. If Hubby can't make it to Toronto (in event of bad weather), it'll be just Little One and me at the hospital on Christmas. I'm getting weepy just thinking about it. Having to be alone on Christmas would just be so depressing...and this isn't how I wanted to spend Little One's first Christmas.

Okay, enough complaining. I have a lot to be thankful for.
Little One is now 4 lbs, 3 oz. and is 45 cm long. She was 2 lbs, 3 oz and 34 cm long at birth. I also noticed that her hair is light brown and wavy! She takes after her Daddy in that respect. Her eyes are cobalt blue, but I guess all babies have blue eyes when they are born, right? Her eyes will most likely change to brown later on. I love the cobalt blue though! She has such pretty eyes!

Oh, and the coolest surprise today was...
When I arrived at the hospital this morning to breastfeed Little One, I saw that she was wearing clothes!!! The night nurse put a cute little preemie onesie on her! She is pretty much ready to be in a crib soon. She's regulating her own body temperature, breathing room air, and she is stable with no spells for the past while (knock on wood!).
Notice that she doesn't have her CPAP mask on? They did a 4 hr trial with no CPAP and no low-flow on her today and she tolerated well. She has an eye exam tomorrow, so they will try her on "as tolerated" on Tuesday. Keeping my fingers crossed! She doesn't seem to want her CPAP on anymore. The other morning, I checked on her and she was "satting" high, but her CPAP wasn't even on her! It was on her forehead! Oh, and she also found out how to do this new trick with her NG tube! She doesn't like having it in her anymore, so she pushes it out with her tongue! The nurse had to re-insert it three times the other day. I wonder if this is Little One's way of telling us that she is almost ready to go home!

Yes, I do have a lot to be thankful for.
Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Week In Pictures


Little One is now 33 weeks, 5 days corrected (apparently I am really horrible at math, because that is not the age I pegged as being! I guess the doctors know better than I do though). She looks much bigger than she did just a few weeks ago! My little girlie is growing!My mom was so distracted blown away by all the computers and gadgets around Little One's bed space. Little One was "satting" high even without her CPAP or low-flow. She was breathing totally on her own!

She now weighs 1890 g (as opposed to 980 g at birth)! She's also tolerating her feeds at 36 cc Q3! I've also been nursing her and the lactation nurse said Little One doesn't even need to be topped up with fortified milk because she is drinking enough from me. We have been topping her up just in case though.
Little One makes these growling noises after she nurses. I call it her "content sound". She is so cute. What a little milk monster.
The kid has absolutely no neck. She's now got three chins!!! I joke you not!

My mom came all the way from the Philippines to meet her first granddaughter for the first time. It was a wonderful and special occasion.I still cannot believe how big Little One has gotten! She is so chunky! She's go her Daddy's brown hair and I noticed for the first time tonight that her hair is quite wavy. I wonder if her hair will be straight or curly.
So much has changed in the past five weeks!

I Gave Her Everything I Had


...and despite my efforts, she looked at me in shock and with disgust.

Last night, I went out for dinner with a few friends for my birthday. We went to Irie, a really great restaurant on Queen Street West. I'll post a review soon-ish.

As soon as we arrived at the restaurant, we were approached by a homeless lady. It was cold out and we had just had a snow "storm" (which was nothing compared to the amount of snow we would get in Montreal). I thought that giving the lady a little something to help her get a warm cup of coffee would be a nice thing to do. You know, love thy neighbour, do unto others...BAH! I always try to do the good Samaritan thing and I always feel better for it after, but this time it was different.

This lady had the nerve to bother patrons of the restaurant and since she told me, "Please. I haven't had a thing to eat in five days. I'd just like to go across the street to Starbucks and get a coffee", I felt the urge to help her. Since I don't carry lots of cash on me in the city (I only have my debit card because I'm afraid it is just not safe to walk around with lots of money in your wallet!), I had some pocket change with me. I emptied out my wallet and gave her ALL the coins I had. Granted, it wasn't much, but it was the best I could do without handing over my debit card to her!

The woman held out her hand and I deposited all of my change...and then she looked at me with a disgusted face. Everyone I was with didn't even pay attention to her. I would have thought she'd be THANKFUL that I tried to help her. Nope.

I don't get it. Some people are so ungrateful. It's not like I have tons of spare cash to hand out. She has no idea what my story is or what I'm going through. Being in Toronto, though I have been lucky to be staying with family for free, has been expensive with having to pay for transportation to and from the hospital every day, buy my meals when I'm at the hospital with the baby, etc. It isn't cheap.

I thought I was doing the good neighbour thing, but I guess some people just always want more.
Friday, December 19, 2008

The Perfect Birthday Gift


One would think that I'd say that the perfect birthday gift was having my husband with me on my birthday or receiving some lavish birthday present. Nope. Though I would have loved for my husband to be with me on my birthday, I know it was impossible. Keeping my fingers crossed, I hope he can make it to Toronto to be with our daughter and me at the hospital on Christmas.

The perfect birthday gift was something amazing. Words cannot even begin to describe how amazing it was. First off, my Mom spent the entire day with me at the hospital with the baby. She woke up with me at 5AM as I "did my duty". Errrrmmm...That would be pumping breast milk! This amazed me because she just arrived from the Philippines and was extremely jet lagged. We left the house that I'm staying at very early and made our way to the hospital by BMW (bus, metro, walk)!

Mom got to meet her first granddaughter for the first time. It was such a special time. She is in awe of Little One too. The only thing is that Mom was upset she didn't get to hold Little One. The nurses and I had to explain that for preventative measures (infection control, etc) only parents are allowed to hold the babies in the NICU. Mom will get to hold Little One in a few weeks when we go home. I hope it's only a few more weeks!!!

Mom and I went out for Japanese food at lunch and she told me how amazed (ummm...how many times have I used that word in this post already???) she is at me getting up every few hours to pump, then commute to and from the hospital, taking care of the baby at the hospital, doing whatever running around and going to appointments, and having to do it all over again...seven days a week. It surprised me that she was amazed because it only seems natural to me right now. She was probably just surprised that I haven't collapsed yet, because she commented several times that she doesn't think I'm getting enough sleep or that I'm not eating or drinking enough throughout the day.

Anyway, that wasn't the best birthday gift. The best birthday gift was...
Little One was breast feeding like a champ. Again, the nurses were impressed because they stressed that it is only around now that babies start to work on their SSB (suck-swallow-breathe reflex). Little One was doing this at week 31 and she's 33 weeks corrected now. She's really interested, keen and wants to breastfeed! The nurses are very happy about that.

The other present that Little One thrilled me with was that she went for two hours without any help whatsoever with her breathing! We were going to take her off her CPAP so she could breastfeed, but when the RT (respiratory therapist) came to switch her over to low-flow, he just stood there watching her and said, "This baby doesn't need low-flow! Look at her! She's breathing on her own, saturating 100!"

It was decided that we try her off low-flow. She had nothing on her little face! No mask...no prongs...nothing!! It was the first time and I loved seeing her sweet little face with no CPAP or prongs in her nose! Mom got to witness this with me. I think Little One was showing off for her Grandma...or she just wanted to make her mama happy on her birthday!

She went for two hours of breathing on her own (unassisted, baby!) while I held her, sang to her and talked with her grandma. Then I wanted to put her back! I just don't want to overwork her and make her exhausted. Plus, breastfeeding for preemies is hard work already. The nurse and RT are thinking that she may soon not need anything to help her. They kept telling me "She's a big girl now"! I kind of laughed because she's only 4 lbs! However, in the NICU she is considered a big girl now! I guess big in comparison to what she was like when she was first born! :)
Thursday, December 18, 2008

33 Things


...because it's my 33rd birthday.

1. I'm happily married to a wonderful man.
2. I miss my husband.
3. I have had to be away from my husband since I gave birth to our daughter five weeks ago. I was on bed rest since October 16, and our baby was born on November 11...and I'm still in Toronto and haven't been home to the Island yet.
4. Our daughter was born prematurely. It was a big surprise for us all!
5. She's doing great! Hopefully she will be able to leave the hospital soon!
6. OMG! I'm a mommy now!
7. My mom is here from the Philippines. She's here to meet her granddaughter and to spend my birthday with me.
8. My mom and I are very close. She's one of my best friends.
9. We also know which buttons to press that will drive each other batty! :)
10. I have a very keen sense of smell.
11. Sometimes that's a good thing. Sometimes it isn't. Pungent smells make my gag reflex kick in...even when I'm not pregnant!
12. I love the smell of freshly baked bread...right out of the oven!
13. I'm not a bread person. I don't like eating bread and I don't really care for sandwiches.
14. I'm a city girl. I was born in Toronto and raised in Montreal.
15. I love being in the city, but only for a weekend or a week.
16. I hate crowds and traffic.
17. I'm claustrophobic.
18. I cannot take the elevator if there are more than two or three other people in it. I really get anxious.
19. I leave the house really early (insanely early) just so I can avoid traveling with lots of people on the bus or subway.
20. I love to bake.
21. I bake some pretty amazing cheesecakes (that sounded so vain! Sorry!)
22. I'm not a dessert person. I love baking but don't like eating baked goods. Weird, eh?
23. Family is the most important thing to me.
24. I'm really close to my family (not geographically though).
25. My friends are very important to me.
26. I used to be a very shy and timid kid.
27. You wouldn't think of that now, since I make friends really easily.
28. I'm really friendly and outgoing.
29. I smile a lot.
30. That's not always a good thing, because the strangest people randomly come up to me and talk to me.
31. I've been followed by a weird guy on the subway because he thought I was really nice and friendly. Gah!
32. I used to think 30 was old.
33. Now I know it's just the beginning :)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Visions of Sugar Plums


...danced in her head while Mommy and the other NICU and Level 2 parents at the hospital had a holiday dinner of turkey with all the fixings. The wonderful people at the Linden Fund put on the dinner and gave gifts for the babies. We got to meet parents who have had babies in the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital as well. Their stories were encouraging and seeing their little ones running all over the room and down the hospital halls, was magical. I am glad I attended the dinner. It was also nice being able to relax and chat with some of the other parents I've become friends with over the past five weeks. Five weeks already???

Among the 'veteran' parents were the parents of Isla. They wrote a book about her story. They chronicled each day of her very long stay in hospital, right down to the wonderful day when they were able to take her home! You can view Isla's Story here. Little One had her first photo with Santa Claus. She slept through the entire thing. I considered waking her up and taking her out of her isolette, but I decided to let her snooze :)

Some of the presents Little One received courtesy of the Linden Fund and of one of the grandmothers of a former NICU baby. Bless that grandmother's heart. As her donation to Mount Sinai's NICU, she knit little preemie hats for all the babies and made little button down shirts and matching blankets for them.

The Linden Fund also gave us all a tiny preemie Santa's hat (which Little One will be wearing on Christmas!) and some cards with images to help stimulate and help with the development of vision for infants.
Contrary to popular belief, babies don't go for the soft pastel colours that we often buy to decorate their rooms. In one of the parents' classes I attended, the nurse told us that those yellow ducky, pink bunny, blue sheep kind of images are not as eye catching to very young babies and are more for the adults' aesthetic value.
We were informed that babies see better in black and white at first. Black and white, and geometrical shapes are easier for babies to see. Later on, as their vision develops, they are more attracted to primary colours. I learn something new every day :)
Hmph! I kind of like the soft, pastel bunnies and sheep! :)
Monday, December 15, 2008

MORE!!!


Because you asked for it!!! Here are more photos of Little One without her CPAP on today.
It amazes me to see her change each and every day. I cannot believe how different she looks every day! She's getting chubbier and her features are changing. She still has her Daddy's brown hair, but unfortunately she has her Mommy's nose! Poor thing! ;)
It's amazing to see that C + Hubby = Little One.

I wonder what she will look like when she gets older.
Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Babe


I've received several messages via e-mail, the blog, Facebook and phone requesting some updated photos of the baby.

She's doing really well. She was taken off her CPAP last week and lasted 22 hrs and 20 min on her own (on low-flow). Can't wait for her to get rid of her NG tube. I don't mind the sensors that monitor her heart rate, respiration and oxygen saturation. I can't wait for her to get off her CPAP and NG tube though! She is soooo much cuter without all those things all over her little face :)She started getting tired from working so hard on her own and I asked if she could be put back on her CPAP. I know. She's much cuter without that mask on, but I just worried that she was working too hard and that she'd exhaust herself. While she is doing amazingly well, I wouldn't want her to take two steps forward and ten steps back. She was looking very tachypneic to me and I just got really worried. Perhaps I am turning into one of those moms. I don't think I'm obsessed or paranoid though. I just worry about her. She's my baby. She was put back on CPAP for the past few days and will try to go off of it again tomorrow. Low-flow as tolerated. Keeping my fingers crossed!She's getting pretty chunky! Check out the rolls, creases and dimples in her arms and legs! Ooooh! That triple chin is just so yummy! I want to kiss her all over!Big yawn!
Got Milk?
I'm running out of places to store Little One's milk. I've got to freeze it and make sure she has enough at the hospital for when I'm not there, but the nurses say she has PLENTY of milk to last her a few weeks...even with her increase in intake. She is now consuming 22 cc of milk every two hours and weighs almost 4 lbs! She was 980 g at birth, so she's packing on the weight right now. The freezer at the place I'm staying at is also filled with milk. Oh, what to do when you've got a milk surplus and you don't want to waste any of it because it's liquid gold for your baby?
What big eyes you've got!!
Sweet pea! Getting really chubby!
Saturday, December 13, 2008

'Tis the Season


...to be crotchety. Fa! La! La! La! La! La! La! La! La!

The holidays are approaching and it certainly doesn't feel festive to me. Perhaps it's because there is barely any snow here in Toronto, or because I've been preoccupied with the baby...or because people are just not jolly at all!

1. I was taking the subway to the hospital the other morning and an elderly person collapsed and fainted. The subway was packed and this poor old man was on the floor! I asked people to hit the yellow emergency button, but no one responded. I don't know if it was out of sheer indifference, or that people didn't know how to react...or that they didn't want to have a subway delay and be late for work. I was livid. The man was fasting for surgery and just passed out. Finally someone hit the emergency button (I wasn't anywhere near it, otherwise I would have done it myself) and the paramedics arrived at the next station. This experience totally left me feeling awful about humankind and how people react in situations like these. God forbid you're late for work because someone was ill on the subway! Shame on that person for disrupting your lifestyle. (Note the sarcasm?) I am not a fan of delays either, but if it meant saving someone's life, then I'd rather ensure that the person were taken care of. I just think of how I'd feel if it were me in that situation. I'm just glad that the man who collapsed got help. I would feel awful if he had something serious like a heart attack and no one bothered to push that emergency button!

2. I'm generally a happy, smiley, friendly person. I usually greet people good morning. I understand that sometimes people aren't in the mood to smile, say hello, or just be kind. Each morning I have been saying "good morning" to the bus driver when I get on the bus, and he always lets out a grumpy "hmph"! Well, the other day he was extremely rude! This is no complaint against all Toronto Transit drivers, because there are many really friendly ones out there. On of my friends is a TTC driver and he is really pleasant, personable and polite. This driver I was talking about slammed the door on my arm the other day! I was the first one waiting at the bus stop and then a man arrived, followed by an elderly woman. When the bus arrived, the man motioned for me to go first because I was the first one there, but I motioned for the elderly lady to go first because I was always taught to respect my elders and let seniors or anyone needing assistance to go first. The lady told me to go first and as I was getting on the bus, the bus driver closed the door on my arm and said, "Well, you friggen people can't make up your mind and I need to go!"

Ummm...We weren't even two seconds in our deliberating! That just really ticks me off! Being in the city, although I have missed it, really makes me want to be back on the Island. People on the Island acknowledge each other, say hello and good morning, and most of the time they are helpful and accommodating. People on the Island wave, nod, or honk their horn as they see you when driving. It doesn't matter if you know the person or not. It's a courtesy thing. I think I'm suffering from reverse culture shock! Ha!

3. My friend drove me from the hospital to the place I'm currently staying at while the baby is in the NICU. There was a person at the side of the road who looked like she was in need of assistance. Her car looked like it had broken down. On the Island, people would most likely stop to see if the person needed help. It's happened to me before when I ditched my vehicle. A dozen vehicles stopped (not all at the same time) to see if I was okay. One guy even called the tow truck for me. Here, no one stops to help. I totally understand why though. I could be dangerous to stop to help someone in the city. You never know if the person really needs help or wants to rob you. That's the sad part of it though. It saddens me to think that we live in a world where helping and trusting people is something that isn't as natural as it ought to be.

4. People are so rude during the holiday season! The malls are crowded and people don't seem to care about apologizing when they bump into others or anything. I was watching as a teenager pretty much plowed into an elderly lady at the mall. In her defense, she did say "Excuse me"...but it was more the tone in her voice that implied that she didn't mean it that way. She was really, really rude.

5. For some reason, in the past few weeks, whenever I hear Christmas carols I am reminded of shopping malls! It's really, really odd! I never felt that way before.

I do love Toronto. I love my friends who live here, the culture, the diversity, the arts and entertainment, the restaurants, the shopping...but I don't miss #'s 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Thursday, December 11, 2008

Things I've Learned


...since my daughter was born one month ago!!! I cannot believe it's been one whole month since I gave birth! The weeks just flew by.Hard to believe she went from this tiny 2 lb, 3 oz preemie exactly one month ago to this 3.5 lb chub chub today. Yes, you've seen this photo on the blog already, but I had to take my "Infant and Children's CPR Course" today and didn't have time to take a photo of her :( Plus, I just think she looks so sweet in this photo!Happy one month birthday, Little One! :)


1) It's amazing how much of my emotional state is directly influenced by how the baby is doing. When she's doing well, I'm ecstatic and my spirits are high. When she goes through challenges most preemies go through, I find myself in tears, stressed, very emotional...and just a mess.

2) My life is pretty much ruled by being with Little One and pumping breast milk every 2~3 hours. I constantly find myself trying to figure out how certain appointments or activities will interfere with my pumping time and baby time. My birthday is next week and I'm supposed to go out for dinner with a few people, but as much as I'm looking forward to that, I am also thinking, "Gah! How am I going to fit in pumping if I'm out for dinner?" ;)

3) I never knew I'd have the capacity to love one person this much. I've invested all my time, energy and love into my daughter and everything seemed to come so naturally. Not that I thought it wouldn't, but I'm amazed at how different everything is for me right now. She is my priority. It's not about me first anymore. Not that I ever really put myself before anyone else. I've never really been that way, but now there is someone who needs to be put before me even more. Also, it's not about my husband anymore (sorry, Hubby! I love you!). My first thoughts in the morning when I wake up are of Little One and my last thoughts at night when I go to bed are of Little One.

4) Little One definitely is a miracle baby. She was born twelve weeks too soon, but somehow managed to be a strong and determined baby whose only major issue is that she needs time to grow more and get stronger so she can develop and leave the hospital and come home! There are so many other things that could have gone wrong (and I dread thinking of all the possibilities), but this kid really amazed me. She's a precious little miracle.

5) Talking to others and getting your feelings out really helps a lot.

6) Taking time out is also important. Going for a walk, having lunch with a friend or some good 'ol retail therapy is sometimes a good way of getting your mind off of all the stress, anxiety, fear, and worry you have of your baby being preterm. Hubby, if you are reading this, don't worry. When I meant retail therapy, I didn't mean that I bought anything extravagant. I just bought a few items of NON-MATERNITY clothing since all of my maternity clothes are falling off me and I don't have any of my pre-pregnancy clothes with me :) Tee hee!

7) You learn to "know" your baby. You become familiar with her patterns and what is normal for her. You learn all these neat and special things about this tiny person...like when she scrunches up her face, strains her body, turns beet red and makes a grunting noise, she's most probably pooping. At least that's what Little One does when I'm holding her! I also know that she KNOWS when feeding time is. Every twenty minutes right before feeding time, she gets really active. She stretches and moves around like crazy. She opens her eyes and is really alert. Food is coming!

8) After a few weeks in the NICU, I've learned not to be obsessed with the monitors and computers by the baby's bedside so much because sometimes it's not the baby that has the problem. Sometimes the sensors are kicked off by the baby or sometimes there are techinical/mechanical problems. It's not always accurate. I've learned to ignore certain alarms/bells. I've learned to look at the baby first. If the baby is pink, active and breathing, she's fine. If the nurses don't seem distressed, then you shouldn't be.

9) I miss my husband and can't wait to be back home and start our life as a family with the baby.

10) There will be many bumps and hiccups along the way.

11) Mount Sinai is an amazing hospital. The medical staff is fantastic and there are a lot of programs, groups and classes for parents with babies in the NICU and Level 2 nursery. Seriously, I feel so fortunate that Little One is getting the care she needs at Mount Sinai. We are at the best place for her right now.

12) Sick Kids Hospital is right across the street. Toronto General is also across the street and Princess Margaret Hospital is right beside Mount Sinai.

13) Sick Kids Hospital is a happy place for kids. When I went to visit a friend's child there, I thought it would be sad to see all those sick kids... but it really is a happy place. It's decorated in such a lively, kid-friendly way. There's even a train that runs on a track that goes around the cafeteria! It's a very happy place to be. I love that it's kid-centered.

14) Taking an "Infant and Children's CPR Course" really is so important. I feel so much more confident for when we take Little One home. I took my St. John's Ambulance course years ago but never took a refresher course. The SJA course also just touched on what to do in case you are dealing with an infant or a child, but this CPR course I took was all about CPR for infants and children. I think I'll write a post about it sometime soon.

15) Sleep is such a valuable thing...and I'm not getting nearly enough of it!!! :)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My First Time


*Disclaimer: This post contains material that may be unsuited for some audiences. Okay, perhaps it's filled with TMI. Reader discretion advised. If you are easily offended, please do not continue to read on!*

It was my very first time and with all firsts, there was a sense of anxiety, stress, uncertainty and fear. Okay, I was terrified! It was something I had been looking forward to experiencing for the longest time. I always wondered what it would feel like once I finally did it. To be honest, I almost chickened out right before I went through with it.

"Okay", I winced. "I'm ready."

Actually, it was she who was ready! For the past few days while I've been holding Little One on my chest for our two hours of cuddle time in the NICU, she has started doing these odd "lip smacking" or "sucking" sounds. She then began LICKING me! She'd lick my skin and make these little monster noises. She sounded like she was growling...kind of like a little bear or puppy. Too funny! Then she started "burrowing" (which the lactation nurse described as rooting). I mentioned this to the day nurse today and she said, "Oh! She's ready".

Ummm...No. She can't be! She's too young! She's only almost 32 weeks now. She's not even supposed to be OUT of me for another eight weeks! How can a baby who is not even supposed to be out of the womb yet be ready to breastfeed?

Well, she's not quite that ready. She's ready for NNS (non-nutritive sucking...aka "practice breastfeeding"). The nurse described it as "just a lick and a sniff". They want to get her used to the idea of breastfeeding. Well, the nurse put Little One on my chest and she knew exactly what to do! She latched on and went to town! I was SHOCKED! This kid seems to really want to do things on HER schedule! She really wants to do things ahead of time! She was on for forty-five minutes and the rest of the two hours I just held her.

I am so amazed by Little One. She certainly is a determined little girlie! I was talking to my Parent Buddy on the phone last night and she said that she honestly believes that these little ones who were born way before their time really have big plans. They have something they need to do and need to teach us. These little babies are so very special. They've got something great planned ahead of them.

On a side note, I'd like to say...
BAH-FRICKIN-HUMBUG to whoever stole my metropass! That was $109 of public transit costs paid for and I only got to use it for one week! I do hope whoever stole it enjoys their free rides on the subway, streetcar, and bus. Happy Holidays to you. I know it was partially my fault since the metropass was in my jacket pocket that was hung up at with all the other parents' jackets at the NICU. I always keep my purse with me, but had my metropass in my pocket. I never thought anyone would rifle through anyone else's pockets...especially at the NICU! Don't they know that all those parents in there have kids who are in need of intensive care? These parents have enough to worry about. Shame on you for having no conscience at all. That is really, really sick. Likewise, for the person who stole the wedding ring of one of the dads after he forgot it when he washed and disinfected his hands before seeing his baby in the NICU. Why would you take someone's wedding ring? It was engraved and had sentimental value. Couldn't you just hand it in to the Lost and Found or something? People really amaze me. Maybe I'm just living in a bubble and think that people would have the courtesy, honesty, and honour to do the right thing. I'd hate to think that our first instinct should be to not trust anyone. That would be a very sad world to live in if we had to do that.

It's the holiday season, for goodness sakes!

Okay...venting done with :) Just happy Little One is doing great!!! Who cares about the metropass? It's only money.
Saturday, December 06, 2008

My New Sense of "Normal"


Who would have thought that the words desaturations, spells, spinal taps/lumbar punctures, gestational age, corrected age, BPM, room air, CPAP, NG tube, low-flow, baseline numbers, Q2, full feed, IV, no aspirates and RESP would become all so commonplace in my every day life?
I never knew I'd have to know all of those things. Why should I have? I never knew I was going to have a preemie. It's pretty scary when all the alarms go off and lights start flashing around your baby's isolette whenever she "sats" high or low. Then you get used to all the flashing, beeping and ringing...and it sort of becomes "normal" to you. I still find myself looking up at her numbers whenever the bells go off, but have learned that if the nurses aren't worried, then I shouldn't be. Most of the time, the Little One's alarms go off because she's "satting" in the 100's and doesn't need her oxygen level turned up so high. She's breathing room air and still sats at 100! This is why the docs want to try her off her CPAP as of Monday.

It's really odd how this is my new sense of "normal". I had a baby very prematurely three weeks ago, I was discharged from the hospital and had to leave her there, I started pumping breast milk for her every two hours since the day she was born, I have to commute to and from the hospital every day to be with her. I feel like everything happened so abruptly. It was like she was taken from me. I never really got to enjoy a full pregnancy. Everything just happened so quickly. This is something I've had to accept as my new normal.

All the probes, sensors, tubes, and leads on all the babies seem "normal" to me now. They're not scary or horrific. They're necessary. It's odd how you get accustomed to things that would have otherwise freaked you out if you didn't have to go through the situation you're in with your child.

It's also hard when you hear about other babies in the NICU who aren't as lucky. I've had some parents tell me that their babies had to have so many lumbar punctures/spinal taps and blood transfusions during their stay in the NICU. It all sounded like such a "normal" thing the way they spoke. There are some pretty sad stories out there, and not all the babies make it. It always amazes me how much the doctors and nurses can do to help these little ones though. I feel fortunate that the Little One is in one of the best places for premature babies. They really are miracle workers there.

Actually, all the little ones in the NICU are tiny little miracles themselves. These little babies have to work so hard to stay in this world. They are such fighters. I feel blessed that the Little One is healthy and strong. It makes me cry every time I think of "what could have been" since she was born at 28 weeks gestation. There could have been so many things wrong with her. She could have had so many health issues. Instead, she is very healthy and there is nothing wrong with her. She's just premature and needs to grow.

She's definitely my little superstar. I am in awe each and every time I look at her or hold her. She truly amazes me each and every day.
I finally got a photo of her with her eyes wide open. I thought she'd have really "Asian" eyes like her mommy, but her eyes are soooooo BIG! Do her big eyes remind you of a certain someone? Here's who she reminds me of when she looks at me with those big bright eyes...
Thursday, December 04, 2008

Yin and Yang


My Dad always told me that you can never appreciate the good unless you experience the bad. He said that there is a balance in the world and we need both the good and the bad to achieve this balance.

This is so true of what I have been going through these past few weeks since my baby was born. There have been so many ups and downs, set backs and achievements. Whenever I think Little One is doing amazingly, a hiccup or a bump in the road comes up. Little One is doing really well though and the doctors say that they think she is a very strong and determined baby. She'll be fine. She just needs time to grow and develop. After all, she's still supposed to be inside Mommy's womb for another nine weeks!

When I'm not with her at the hospital, I call the NICU at night. Okay, sometimes I call multiple times a night. If I'm up at 2AM to pump milk for her, I call. The nurses are amazing and say that they are there for the parents and know what we are going through. Phone calls at all hours of the day/night are great because it puts our minds at ease and the nurses are up all day/night with our babies anyway.

When I called tonight, I was shocked that Little One gained 110 g!!! Okay, I know that may not sound like an astronomical number, but in preemie talk, that is huge progress! She tends to gain on average 10 ~ 20 g a night. The most she's gained was 60 g in one night. Hearing that she gained 110 g nearly made my jaw drop! I'm so happy! My little chub chub now weighs 1380 g! That's just over 3 lbs!!! This is BIG news! (doing the happy dance here)

Incidentally, I had to check out the conversion from grams to pounds since I'm only familiar with pounds. Argh. I hate having to do all the conversions. I've never been good at math!

Having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is definitely an emotional roller coaster ride. Each day is full of surprises. Some good, and sometimes some not so good. It's also physically and mentally draining. The one thing that's for sure is that you always worry about your baby's condition and hope and pray that things either improve or keep going well. For the most part, Little One has been "coasting" through the weeks without a hitch...but in the past week she's had a few episodes that to me were scary. Apparently, (or so the doctors tell me) many preemies rarely get by without a hitch. Little One has been very fortunate that she's had no major issues. Whatever she is going through is normal for a baby her gestational age.
Just an aside: I cannot believe the holidays are just around the corner! It's December ALREADY?!?!?! I gave birth three weeks ago??? Where on earth did November go? My birthday is coming up, then Christmas, then New Year's...and then it'll be 2009. I still cannot believe Little One was supposed to be born in 2009 but she changed her birth year to 2008! Gah! I haven't even thought of the holidays yet. I don't know if I'll get around to sending out Christmas cards this year. I haven't had time to get Christmas presents for anyone either. *sigh* Right now my life is pretty much all about the baby.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008

3 Weeks Already


I cannot believe my Little Sunshine is three weeks old already! I guess I should say "31 weeks" since technically she was supposed to be inside me for nine more weeks! She's doing great. She now weighs 1250 g. She's almost 3 lbs, which in preemie talk is really great progress! She's also getting stronger and more alert. She opens her eyes and looks around, though she's probably only seeing blurry shadows still and can only really see at close range (8 ~ 12 inches in distance, according to the nurse). One of my friends was visiting the Little One in the NICU today and was amazed at how strong she is. She was lifting her body off her little "bed" and pretty much got out of her little "nest" that the nurse made to contain her. Our little girlie likes to show off when she has visitors!

She is breathing room air and the doctors want to try her off of her CPAP and go to low flow air now. They think she can handle it because she is tolerating it well right now. We take her out for 2 hrs a day on low flow and I hold her for those two hours and I sing to her. She loves her low flow! She saturates at 98%~100% when she's on it. I guess not having that cumbersome CPAP mask on would bother me too! Plus, she looks much cuter without her CPAP on! You can actually see her face without it!

I still cannot believe I gave birth to her three weeks ago. She has made so much progress already. I cannot believe her strength and determination. This little baby just amazes me. Continue to grow, Little One! :)

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About the Blog Author


City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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Life on Manitoulin: Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country!

Life on Manitoulin: Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country!

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