Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Nine Weeks

What a difficult, heart-breaking, joyous, blessed nine weeks it has been! I think I am finally getting the hang of this mother of an infant thing. Jayla and I have great days together and I love spending time with her. It doesn’t wear me out like it did in the beginning. It’s just a part of my life now – a big part of my life.

Jayla had her 2-month checkup last Friday and weighed in at 9 lbs, 13 oz. and 22 ¼ inches long. So, she is officially the same size I was when I was born!!

Everyday we see new, exciting things from her. She smiles more often, she has awesome head control (even though she hates to be on her tummy), she “talks” with us more often…most importantly, she has learned to entertain herself over the past week! This was big for me because previously, her only source of entertainment was me carrying her around all the time. That got old – especially since I’m working part-time from home and obviously need to get some things done during the day. But, in the past week, she has learned to play in her activity gym and be content for 30 minutes at a time. I keep the gym in the office so, I can work and she can play. It’s been awesome.

Jayla in the activity gym:

She also loves to go outside, which is great because I love the weather we’re having right now. It just really cooled off here this week so; we’re seeing highs in the 70’s and perfectly blue skies. So, Jayla and I get out for a walk daily. She loves to taste the wind by sticking her tongue out whenever it blows. It’s really cute.

We’ve got Jayla on a pretty decent schedule. She basically eats every 3 hours starting at 9am. We’re still playing around with her bedtime routine. I can’t really decide when the best time to bathe her is. For the past 3 weeks, we’ve been bathing her after her 9pm feed and then letting her nurse to sleep. Last night, we tried bathing her before her 9pm and so she went to sleep with her 9pm feed. That put us into bed about 2 hours earlier than what we had been doing! It was awesome. But, I had to get up with Jayla at 2:45am instead of 4:00am-ish, as she seems to be stuck on a 4-5 hour pattern at night. I don’t have a problem with that but, I’ve just got to figure out how to get her straight back to sleep after she nurses at night. Too many nights lately she’s been bright-eyed after her overnight feeding, which is extremely annoying because if you put her in her crib to go back to sleep yourself, she screams bloody murder because she doesn’t know how to put herself to sleep yet. Usually, I just lay down with her on the day bed in her room. It keeps her quiet and I can sleep. Once she falls asleep, I can put her back in her crib and she’ll sleep until I wake her for the 9am feeding. But, surely, there’s got to be a trick to getting her straight back to sleep in the middle of the night. That is my only issue right now, really – any ideas?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


On Thursday, Sept 22 at 3:00am, we loaded up the car and headed to Tyler, TX. Tyler is about 200 miles from our house - the trip took 17.5 hours!!! Me and Jayla barely made it. It was excruciating. We were hot, we were tired, we weren't moving and couldn't risk using the A/C in case we didn't find anymore gas along our route, Jayla was still confused as to why she wasn't in an incubator in a hospital, I threw up, Jayla pooped 8 times and managed to get it on everything in the backseat of my car. I had poop under my fingernails by the time we arrived in Tyler!!! We weren't allowed to eat or drink anything that day. My husband wouldn't stop for food and there were no bathrooms along the evacuation routes. It was horrible. But, we eventually made it.

So, Jayla basically spent the first week of life outside the NICU in Tyler. It was great because I did have a support system there. We evacuated with friends and stayed at their parents' house. There were plenty of people to help out with Jayla, including my husband. I was almost thankful for the evacuation. Otherwise, I would have been at home by myself.

The trip back was not as painful - 3 hours + 15 minutes, door-to-door. Granted, we stayed until Tuesday where most people returned to Houston on Sunday. We just weren't taking anymore chances.

So, there you have it. In the first month of Jayla's life: the city of New Orleans was destroyed and thousands of people moved into the Astrodome - 1 block from the hospital where she lay (made commuting for us alot harder!), she endured 27 days in an intensive care unit, and she was a part of the largest evacuation (and most painful) in history due to one of the most powerful hurricanes ever! Pretty eventful...

Still catching up

Why is it that I spend so much time reading other's blogs rather than updating my own?

I know I promised a synopsis of Jayla's stay in the NICU so, here goes:
The morning after her birth, my husband and I went down to the NICU to visit her (this was not without immense pain and alot of whining required to get me from the bed to the wheelchair). We were told that she would be going into surgery later that afternoon. They weren't sure yet what they were going in to operate on so they wanted to do a "study" in the morning. We got there just before they were going to take her down to radiology for the study. While we were visiting with her, one of the hospital employees in the NICU walked up to us and said that we looked familiar. It turns out that she attends our church and recognized us from when we were in leadership in the Newlyweds Sunday School class. We have since moved out of that class, obviously, but she remembered us as she was just coming in when we were going out. Anyway, she asked if she could pray for/with us before Jayla went in for her test. And that's what we did. The three of us formed a circle around Jayla and prayed. Amy (the girl) prayed that Jayla would not need surgery and would be healed if anything were actually wrong with her. Then we left and Jayla was taken to radiology.

Now, it turns out that the study that they wanted to do was to actually have Jayla consume a contrast that would outline her system on x-rays. This was in hope of giving them an idea of where her intestinal obstruction might be. The contrast doubled an enema, which was key because as they watched it go through her system, it started to unplug her. It turns out that she just had a plug of meconium that she couldn't pass on her own. Upon seeing the plug start to "unplus", they did cancel surgery - all credit given to God and Amy's intecessory prayer for us. The contrast ended up going all the way through her system eventually, which was good news. And on the 6th day of life, Jayla was finally allowed to "eat". Food consisted of a teaspoon of water every 3 hours! They were extremely conservative doctor who were ultra-paranoid that Jayla's system wasn't right. On the 7th day of life, she finally got to consume a small amount of breastmilk. Things progressed day by day but, slowly. They fed and waited for her to poop. If she didn't poop, she didn't get to increase feeds the next day. It was a painfully slow process.

Then on the 5th day of feeds, her stomach became distended again, signaling that she was having blockage/backup issues again. It turns out that she never fully passed all of her meconium. She just couldn't do it on her own. So, they immediately stopped feeds and we had to wait 3 days on them to give her an enema. That was probably the hardest 3 days. We had to wait because they discovered the issue on Sunday morning and radiologist don't work on Sunday. The next day was Labor Day - obviously they can't work holidays either. Then when they got back on Tuesday, she wasn't considered an emergency case so they didn't get to her until late that afternoon. All this time, she is starving and looking at me like, "why can't I eat!?!??" They did get the enema and did several flushes. Finally, they resumed feeds (painfully small amounts again) when she was 2 weeks old. We progressed most days, although when there was no poop, the doctors wouldn't budge. Then on day 25, Jayla was allowed to eat whatever and whenever she wanted to. It was awesome except for trying to teach her to breastfeed at 3 weeks old! Then on day 27 (Sept 20), she was released!!

That was the hardest and most stressful time of my life. I was a zombie through the better part of it. My life stopped. I was at the hospital for 12-14 hours for every single day of her stay. I wept daily for my child. I wept at the hospital because she wasn't supposed to be there! I wept at home because I missed her so much. Through it all, I trusted God and knew that Jayla was fine. I can honestly say that I never doubted Him for that. But, that didn't make the separation from my baby any easier. It would probably have almost been easier if she were truly a sick child.

So, we get her home at almost 4 weeks old, both sets of grandparents have left to return to work and her daddy is back at work. So, it was just me and Jayla. The first day was really, really rough. For some reason, it was easier to care for her when I was surrounded by nurses in the NICU! But, what made the first day with her so hard was the fact that I was trying to learn to take care of her on my own and pack to evacuate Houston for Hurricane Rita!! Stressful, stressful...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I'm back...

Oh my goodness - where have I been? Jayla turned 7 weeks yesterday and I do believe she has had the most eventful life of any 7-week-old I've ever known. There is so much to write about.

First - her birth. I went in on a Tuesday night (August 23) around 8:00pm to get my cervix softened. That was rather uneventful. But, it was exciting as it was the first step towards having my baby. Then Wednesday morning, they started the induction process. I don't really remember many of the details anymore (maybe that's why people write their birth stories before the baby is 7 weeks old!). But, luckily, I had my husband write things down as they were happening! So, according to my notes:

At 7:20am, I was 1 cm dilated and 30% effaced. This was all from the cervadil the night before, as I hadn't begun to progress at all on my own. They started the pitocin at 8:00am. I remember them having a hard time adjusting the dosage as I was having contractions every 45 seconds OR would go too long without having one. They kept saying that they weren't getting the pattern that they were looking for. My doctor broke my water at 10:55am. That was excruciating! So painful...and it made the contractions more painful. So, I got a narcotic (stadol) at about 1:30pm. Then my epidural at 3:10pm. The stadol made me so drowsy - I was completely drugged for the rest of that day and the next!!! The epidural administration was anything but easy. I got stuck about 6 times. I don't know why he couldn't get it in "right" but, all that time I was in pain because the stadol had warn off. Throughout the day my doctor was checking my progress and I never got past 3 cm (I think I was there around the time that I got the epidural). Again, I was sleep through all of this for the most part. But, my husband said they (he, my mom, and my in-laws) were bored since I wasn't progressing. Around 7:20pm, my doctor came in and put in an internal monitor to see if my contractions were indeed intense enough to dilate me. I could have told her they were. :) An hour later, she determined that they were intense enough and my body just wasn't going to respond. The beauty of this whole thing is that even after 12 hours of this labor stuff, neither me nor Jayla showed any signs of distress. My doctor decided at 8:30pm that we were going for a c-section instead.

As soon as she said the word, people started coming out of the walls to "work" on me. One person to shave me, one person to drug me, one person to throw scrubs at my husband, one person to unhook me from my monitors in the room, etc. It was crazy! And I think I was completely prepped and being wheeled to the operating room in a matter of about 3.5 minutes. My husband was still trying to put his scrubs on as we went down the hall to the OR. I remember my nurses bumping my bed into every wall that we encountered along the way. I remember thinking it was funny. When we got into the OR, they told me that I needed to move from my bed to the operating table. I had no idea how in the world that would happen as I didn't have the capacity to move any portion of my lower body at all. But, they made it happen!! Once I got on the table (this detail just came to me), someone announced that I had on underwear and everyone FREAKED!! They couldn't figure out how I had gone through 12 hours of labor with underwear on. Well, it was a bra NOT panties!! :) So, they had to take that off for some reason. Anyway, my husband was sitting right next to my head and the anestesiologist was standing behind my head. He kept poking my tummy and lower body and asking me if I could feel them. But, I'd fall asleep before I could answer him - I was SO DRUGGED UP!!! So, I honestly thought that I was going to feel the entire operation which freaked me out. The next thing that woke me up was him saying "okay, you're going to feel some pressure". I was too drugged to think anything other than, "oh - pressure..." in a lala kind of way. I felt nothing!! - which was a relief for me. My husband said at that moment, they ripped my stomach open and pinned back the skin so that I was "open". I, of course, drifted off to sleep again until I heard, "Okay, we're getting ready to have this baby". That was my doctor speaking and I thought, "Wow - they already cut me?". God - I was so OUT OF IT!!! Then she said, "Look at all that hair". That's when I knew that she was indeed looking inside of me and seeing my child. Therefore, I tried my best to stay conscious for the next few moments. Then I heard, "Why didn't you want to come out the other way?". Oh my goodness - the doctor was talking to a person, presumably MY CHILD!! Then I felt something quickly slide out of me and immediately, a CRY!! They held Jayla up for me to see and then took her and my husband over to a table in another part of the room.

As the doctor was repairing me, I had the biggest scare of this whole process - I couldn't swallow. I remember that I had an oxygen mask on and kept yelling, "I can't swallow!" But, no one was paying attention to me! It was like a dream. I wanted to jump up and run away from the OR. I was so scared - when you can't swallow, it feels like you can't breathe. During this time, my husband brought the baby over for me to see before she went to the nursery. I couldn't even look at her because I was in such a panic. The anesthesiologist tried to comfort me to no avail. I also realized at this point how bad the drugs had given me the shakes. My body was trembling uncontrollably as they took me to the recovery room. I don't really remember when I regained the ability to swallow or when my shakes finally left me. But, I'm sure both happened during my hour in the recovery room. My nurse was great! We just talked and talked as she massaged my belly every 15 minutes. My husband came in and called all the people that we promised to call when Jayla arrived. After the recovery room, I had an opportunity to really go visit Jayla for the first time. I remember it being almost midnight or so by then. The first time I really saw Jayla, she was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) - hooked up to monitors and tubes and barely 3 hours old. Little did I know how long I would have to look at her in that condition...stay tuned for details on Jayla's 27-day stay in the NICU...

Here's a pic of what I saw that first night: