Thursday, March 31, 2011

One Small Step to Sleepy Time, One Giant Step to Normalacy

Let me just start by saying I think I may have the loudest child ever.

Hehe, okay maybe not EVER, but wow... how can someone so tiny be SO LOUD!? And when I say loud, I mean she grunts and groans at super-high decibels. Since she is on specialized preemie formula that is packed with iron and fiber, my poor munchkin is constantly constipated. (And yes, we've tried water, prune juice, Karo syrup, gas drops... etc.) Therefore, she is constantly working on her next movement if you catch my drift.

After twenty-four days of alternating night duty with Lain, as we took turns sleeping on the sofa with Lea in her bassinet, swing or bouncy chair in the living room grunting away... we finally decided that last night would be the night that she'd sleep in her big girl crib for the very first time.

 Prior to taking our girl home from the NICU, I vowed that I'd never let her out of my sight once she was home. I had a picture-perfect vision of her sleeping soundly in her bassinet that we had set up in our bedroom. The nurses smirked as I'd tell them that I planned to have her sleeping in our room for at least six months. I lasted twenty-four days. And I guess half of those days don't count, because those were my nights to sleep. (Thanks Lain!)

So back to the crib...

I was very hesitant on letting her sleep in a room alone. She is still on a breathing monitor, and even though I could probably hear this machine's obnoxiously loud alarm all the way from down the street, I am a VERY heavy sleeper, and I worried that if she and her machine were down the hall in another room, I may not hear it. Plus, she looks so tiny in that big ol' crib! For a little peace of mind, we set up our video monitor - which turned out to be so unnecessary. Not only could I hear every grunt, groan and movement coming from down the hall since I left her bedroom door open, the sounds were now magnified as they were reproduced by the monitor. All night long, I could hear her, as well as the 2-second delayed echo courtesy of the video monitor. It may have been the loudest night yet - I was just too exhausted to do anything about it.

Even through all of the noise, I was able to get some much needed rest. Most of all, my mind is now able to rest easy knowing that we are just that much closer to feeling normal again. All in all, Lea's first night in her own room was a success. I even caught her smiling up at her mobile this morning as I peeked in to check on her. I'm so proud of her! As she gets bigger, I hope she grows to love her room. Its a pretty cool room I have to say! It is even equipped with her very own IPod and speaker dock - so far she likes listening to Bob Marley and John Mayer.

Tonight, we'll forgo the monitor completely. Lea's got this...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baby, You're A Firework

Lea met her biggest fan today: Grace.

Twelve years ago, my cousin Grace was born at 25 weeks, and weighed 1 lb., 11 oz. She is such a special girl... brave, strong, smart as a whip, and of course, baby crazy! So the minute she found out I was pregnant, she has been dying to meet Lea. After several unsuccessful attempts at feeling Lea kick while still in my belly, and then a very long wait while she recovered in the NICU, Grace was finally able to meet our girl today for the first time. She squealed with excitement at the first sight of Lea - it was so cute!

Lea and Grace already share a special bond. They were both micro-preemies, and they share the same fighting spirit and undeniable strength. Grace spent hours today holding Lea, singing to her and gushing over how cute she is! Lea is so lucky to have Grace in her life. She will definitely serve as a wonderful role model down the road - and a GREAT babysitter too! ;)

Below is a video of Grace singing "Firework" by Katie Perry... an anthem that is more than fitting for the both of them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preemie Timeline Giveaway!!!

Since I am a graphic designer, I wanted to show my appreciation to the NICU team in a creative way upon our discharge. One of the gifts I left for the staff was a personalized timeline that I designed documenting Lea's stay. Here is an image below... it is 22 in. x 4 in. in size.

Needless to say, the nurses loved it, and it now hangs on the wall in the NICU. How gratifying for them to see Lea's progress from beginning to end, since they were all so dedicated to my little munchkin.

Now, I'd like to make one for you!


To enter Thumba-Lea's very first giveaway, do the following steps:

1. Become a follower of and/or click here to like us on Facebook!

2. Comment underneath this blog entry with your baby's name, birth weight and current status. Also, if you have a blog, post that as well!

How it works:

The winner will be chosen at random, and will be notified on Monday, March 28, 2011. The timeline will be mailed to the address you provide after notification.

I will use the color scheme/pattern/pictures/text of your choosing, so we'll work together via e-mail to create the perfect timeline depicting your little one's progress. I will send you an online proof for your approval before mailing it.

If your little one is still in the NICU, we'll wait to create the timeline once you have all the pictures you want to include, no matter how long it takes.

If your preemie is already home, that's fine too! We'll just change up the text/design and make it something special that can be framed in your baby's nursery!

In the end, it will be your design! I will personalize it in any way you choose.

Good luck to all who enter!

****** UPDATE******

Congratulations to Ceara Spear, mommy to two precious baby boys, Nolan and Logan. Ceara was chosen at random to win a custom preemie timeline. Check out her blog at!

Thank you to everyone who entered! God bless!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Homecoming Fit For a Princess

After 64 long days in the NICU, Lea finally came home today weighing a whopping 4 pounds and 15 ounces and at the gestational age of 38 weeks and 4 days. In true princess fashion, she chose to arrive home on the most extravagant holiday in New Orleans, Mardi Gras! While others crowded the streets to watch the parades this "Fat Tuesday," we proudly paraded our baby girl home for the first time in nine weeks. The term "I got the baby!" had a completely different meaning this holiday. No Mardi Gras has ever been so memorable.

Happy Mardi Gras! 4 lbs, 15 oz

We'd like to thank everyone who has said prayers, sent well-wishes and gifts, cooked us meals and supported us through this amazing journey. You have no idea how much each of your kind words and thoughtful gestures helped us cope. I have been blessed to have witnessed the beauty in others and the power of God. Because of this experience, I am forever changed. My family is forever stronger. My faith is as strong as its ever been.

As I sit here typing this, Lea is wrapped up in her moby wrap, against my chest skin-to-skin. She no longer has to listen to the loud dings of monitors. Even better, I no longer have to fall asleep at night wondering if she's crying or if she's fast asleep. Tonight, for the first night, she will sleep in the bassinet that has sat empty for the past few weeks beside my bed. Now I can watch her fall asleep, and comfort her if she cries. Although she is still hooked up to a breathing monitor, life finally feels normal. We are finally a family, and we're ready to begin our new journey!

Happy Mardi Gras everyone!
View a slide show of Lea's time spent in the NICU here

On our way home...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

There's been a slight change of plans, and Lea will not be coming home tomorrow like we were expecting.

When my phone rang this morning, I eagerly answered knowing it was the doctor calling to go over  last minute details for tonight's "rooming in." Instead, she broke the news that our plans had changed. This morning, after her feeding, Lea had a severe bradycardia spell. Bradycardia is when one's heart rate drops below 100. Her heart rate is typically around 160 beats per minute. She had dropped down to 50 and stopped breathing. As scary as this sounds, a simple pat to the back or rub of the foot is enough to bring the heart rate back up most of the time. Tonight, Lea will undergo a 12 hour pneumogram (sleep study) to determine the cause of the bradycardia.

If you've ever been a NICU parent, or know someone who has, you know the phrase "two steps forward, one step back," all too well. It is the fluctuating pace at which preemies grow and develop. Each "step back," has made me a patient person, and each "step forward," has made me an thankful person. And each little step in between has helped me to rediscover my faith in God and the power of prayer. My husband and I have gained WAY too much strength, patience and trust in the Lord throughout this entire experience to even be slightly disheartened by the news that we received today. We surrendered this situation to God weeks and weeks ago. It is out of our hands. Lain and I are just here for the journey.

I can't help but be thankful that this bradycardia spell did not wait to occur once we had her home. We've had our infant CPR training, and we are fully aware of the signs of a bradycardia or apnea spell, but this happening at home would have been MUCH scarier than it happening while she is still in the NICU hooked up to monitors. In the hospital, Lea is surrounded by tons of highly skilled nurses who love her to death and care for her like she is their own. We are so lucky for that.

 Thinking back on our experience this far, its as if we've been running a marathon. And with the finish line finally in sight, we've tripped and fallen. We've watched other NICU parents cross that finish line over and over throughout out stay... and with each baby that leaves the unit, we get more and more anxious. However, this is no race. We are prepared to continue to be patient until the time is right to bring our girl home. We will just continue to pray and remain faithful in the Lord. He has a plan, after all.

"Count all these trials as joy for the testing of your faith produces patience" - James 1:2 (Thank you Rosie Oswald for sharing this incredibly perfect and inspiring verse.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

News of a Homecoming

Today we finally got confirmation of Lea's homecoming! This Friday, Lain, Lea and myself will "room in" the hospital overnight. Then on Saturday, we'll FINALLY be taking our baby girl home!

I cannot explain to you the relief, excitement and pure joy that is running through me right now. I can't remember ever feeling like this. Just picturing Lea lying in her own crib, with not a single wire attached to her is making me smile as I type this. Now, we will experience the things people sometimes warn you about when having a baby:

"You can't just pick up and go anymore... You can't go out to eat... or see a movie... It's a twenty four hour job..."

All of these things once sounded so scary and binding to me. Now, there's nothing I want more. I look forward to spending my days and nights at home with my beautiful family. It doesn't get better than that. Life is REALLY about to start now, and I couldn't be more ready!

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4: 6-7