Saturday, January 31, 2009

Daddy Time

I got to hold our baby girl again today.  She was dressed in her cute little outfit.  Trish, Penelope's nurse for today, decided that Penelope's bed was getting dirty on the outside (the windows were smudged) and she wanted to switch the bed out for a clean one.

She had her legs swaddled up when Trish laid her on my chest.  This made holding her much easier since she wasn't able to kick her legs out like she normally does.  She did seem happier about that.  I had my right hand on her bottom (which I have a strong feeling was doing what it does best since I could feel her filling her diaper ;) ) and my left supporting her head.  She was happy at first, but seemed to be uncomfortable a few minutes in.  She started raising her head and crying a little...she was definitely trying to tell me that she was displeased about something.  It took a couple seconds, but I quickly realized that it was my shirt that was annoying her.  I asked Sarah to push it back and she satted much higher and was much more comfortable after that.

I'm glad we waiting another week before I held her again...she did so much better today and I felt that she was much better able to tolerate it today.  It was wonderful to hold her.  I could feel her little hands flexing and she lay on my chest.  

Penelope has gotten so much bigger in the past four weeks...It's amazing to think that she's four weeks old (as of yesterday) and she will be 30 weeks adjusted gestation tomorrow.

Penelope's Onesie

I call Penelope all kinds of crazy things--Pippy Poppy, piglet, squirm worm, cuddle bug. She was being a cuddle bug today. The nurse, Trish, decided to see how she would do in actual clothes since she seems to be holding her heat better. So she took off the heat probe (for now) and dressed Penelope in this oversized white shirt that fit her like a fluffy bathrobe from a luxury hotel. When Dad went in to see her, she was all swaddled up and wearing her shirt, sound asleep and completely motionless.

Right after he left and Mom came in, Penelope had a brief brady (possibly brought on by some milk bubbles in her mouth), and so Trish had to wake her up. Since she was awake, she went ahead and changed her into this adorable tiny yellow and lavender onesie. Apparently, they have a lot of donated clothes, and this outfit was incredibly tiny because it actually fit her. She was so adorable. I took tons of pictures of her in her cute new ensemble. She's wide awake and alert in them, blue eyes looking all over the place as she yawns and squirms.

Trish said she's only had that one little brady all day. She's been very good. Her feedings have increased to 24 ml and last night she weighed 2 pounds, 15 ounces. One more ounce, and she's a three-pounder!

We're going up again in just a second so that Derrick can kangaroo!

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Visit From Penny's Big Brother

This evening, we took Grayson up to meet Penelope. He was in rare form, obviously very happy to see us and full of silly jokes all night. I'm always amazed by Grayson's sophisticated sense of humor. I mean, he finds really silly stuff funny, but he's also able to pick up on more subtle jokes that other kids his age might not catch. And he's very funny, both on purpose and accidentally.

In the car on the way there, he was telling us conversationally, "So, I saw your car, Daddy. I think I was in the same hospital where you were when we were seeing about my rash." He continued chattily, "It wasn't a scarlet rash. That's what the doctor said."

"Just contact dermititis," Derrick agreed.

"Yes," Grayson agreed and mused, "I think I got that rash when I was outside playing with the ants."

We smiled. "Playing with the ants?" Derrick asked, slightly amused. (We hadn't heard the ants detail before.)

"Yeah," Grayson continued matter-of-factly. "I was trying to make them die."

That cracked us both up.

I said, "I'll bet the ants didn't enjoy that game as much as you did."

"No," came the delayed response from the back seat, accompanied by wicked laughter.

"So that's how I got water on my hands," he concluded after a couple of seconds. Then, a few seconds after that, he added, "Did you know that some fire ants can learn to swim?"

A few minutes later, we were trying to explain Penelope's cannula to him, to prepare him for how she would look. He volunteered, "Unless I am mistaken, my Jack had one of those in the hospital."

Derrick questioned, "Jackson did?"

"Well, Mommy had one," Grayson corrected himself, "because Jack played a little trick on her brain, and it forgot how to breathe for a little while."

We didn't know about that, so Derrick gave him a look and said, "Yes, well, anyway."

And Grayson said, "You're funny."

Derrick replied, "I'm funny!"

And Grayson rolled his eyes and went, "Unfortunately!"

It made me laugh so hard. His timing was just so hilarious. Half of what makes him so funny is this impeccable delivery that seems to come naturally to him.

When we got to the hospital, Grayson and I waited in the hallway outside the NICU while Derrick rang the doorbell and then went inside to show the nurses Grayson's shot record. In the car, he'd claimed Derrick was reading his mind. So we were trying to read each other's minds--i.e., basically play twenty questions. He was describing this crazy animal that was as big as a hippo, and puffy, and half black and half red. He finally told me it was a poodle. I said, "Really?That doesn't sound like a French poodle. In fact, I've never heard of a poodle like that before. They must be rare."

He said, "Yes. This is the American poodle."

"Aha," I replied, "the American poodle--sounds patriotic."

"Yes," Grayson told me, "he has a Texas flag on his back."

Then a nurse walked by and swiped her ID to open the NICU doors. Grayson was amazed by this. "What would happen if I waved my hand in front of it?" he asked.

I explained that nothing would happen and started talking about bar codes and the grocery store, trying to explain why the door had opened. "You have to scan something special."

Grayson thought about this. Finally he suggested. "What about my eye?"

"Oh a retinal scan?" I said.

He nodded and basically started describing how he'd seen retinal scans work before.

"Well, try it," I agreed.

It didn't work.

Then he started telling me some story about an evil puppet who came to life on an episode of Back to the Barnyard. I asked, "How did a puppet get on the farm?" And he started telling this complicated story, involving a half-orange person, a chicken, and some creepy guy who said, "I want meat," in this bizarre, raspy voice with these enormous creepy eyes. (I'm fairly sure this episode in the form it was described to me never aired on Nickolodeon.)

When we got into the NICU, Grayson decided that he enjoyed the feel of the sponges used to scrub in. (He'd already told us as we were leaving Aimee's house that he knew all about how to scrub in because he'd seen them do it on Grey's Anatomy.)

He was very impressed with all the stuff in Penelope's room, perhaps even more with the stuff than with the baby. He asked about the feeding tube, and when we showed him the syringe full of milk, he said wisely, "Oh, this is her formula." I said, "No, actually, it is milk that I made her. She's just too little to be able to..."

"Breast feed?" he supplied helpfully.

"Yes," I told him. I showed him a bag full of the empty milk bottles.

Curiously, he wondered, "How do you get the milk out?"

I answered, "I have to use a breast pump. It uses suction to get the milk out."

Eyes wide, Grayson exclaimed loudly, "Well, that's got to hurt!"

"Yes, it does," I agreed.

"But it hurts less now," Derrick quickly put in, and then Grayson started explaining how the syringe worked because he'd gotten medicine like that once, he told us.

Mary Lou had been Penelope's nurse this morning. We had told her all about Grayson when we went up to kangaroo early at 2:30 (so we could take him at 5:30). She was really excited to meet him, but then she got sent home early because too many people were working, so Margaret was her nurse when Grayson was there. She was really nice to Grayson and asked him lots of questions about Disneyworld because she's going soon. Mary Lou left a care package for Grayson to take home and possibly to show-and-tell. It contained a paper tape measure marked with Penelope's length at birth and her length now, one of her tiny little diapers, and one of her old pacifiers.

At one point, Penelope desatted a bit, and I explained to Grayson that the alarms go off all the time, all day long, and it's just a way of letting the nurses know that they need to check on the babies. When the feeding tube was almost empty, it made the sharp, loud beeping noise it always does. Strangely, this was the one thing that seemed to worry Grayson, even though we explained what it meant. He craned his neck and peered out the window anxiously looking for the nurse, saying in a high-pitched voice of concern, "Can't she hear it?" I thought it was very sweet of him. Who cares about her vital signs? Just don't let her run out of food!

Aimee gave us a little Cinderella doll wrapped in an attachable pink blanket that Grayson picked out for Penelope at Disneyworld. It's very sweet. Grayson realized once we left that the doll is the same size as Penelope. Derrick said, "Well, what did you think of your little sister?"

"When you say little," Grayson replied, "you're not just saying little like little sister. That first little is little. You really mean little!"

He was clearly impressed by her size (or lack thereof), though she is up to 2 pounds, 14 ounces today!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Penelope's Noises

Penelope makes the cutest little noises. I asked her a question today while we were kangarooing, and she said, "Mooawwp," in this tiny little voice. She might have been burping because I think what I asked her was, "What's wrong, Penelope?" since she was scrunching around a lot. She's still on her cannula, doing really well when last we heard.

When we were up there between 8:00 and 9:00, she was all tucked in on her belly. But she kept scrunching her back and butt up in the air when we started talking. She was doing that yesterday before she was all fastened in, and she was inching forward, getting close to the edge of her little bed. I call her a squirm worm, which Derrick does not find very flattering. Clearly he does not know the right worms. The ones from Sesame Street that I was thinking of are very cute.

Tomorrow Penelope gets to meet Grayson. I took a nap this afternoon and dreamed she got to come home with us right now. She was so tiny--even smaller than she actually is. I was so worried I would lose her some place, especially because she could crawl. We went to the beach, too. And Grayson was crying and upset because we were paying so much attention to Penelope, and he thought we didn't love him any more. And I hugged him and told him, "That's not true, sweetheart," but I worried how I would prove it since I couldn't stop worrying about Penelope, particularly because she kept falling into the spaghetti sauce. (We were trying to have a picnic, but it was hard to make spaghetti at the beach with all this going on.)

I napped much longer than I meant to. I must have turned the alarm off in my sleep, so Derrick came in to see if I was ready to go, and I started crying and was really disoriented because I'd been asleep and didn't know why. I always seem to wake up disoriented and panicked from the day time naps. My most satisying (and longest) sleep period--12-4--is coming up as soon as I wash these pump parts.


The news of the day is that Penelope has graduated to the nasal cannula--for now. It just goes into her nose and does not come with a huge mask or any straps. It gives her oxygen, but does not sometimes force her to take a breath.

They still have the SiPAP in the room, just in case. The cannula is in place on a trial basis for now. Also, her weight is up to 2 pounds, 13 oz!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The NICU Tea Party

I should say this is not what that event was actually called. I can't remember what they called it. They had it in a room near the NICU. A lactation specialist, a social worker, and a post partum nurse were there. They had cookies and bottles of water. I'm really glad we went because they had some really helpful information. Also, we were the only people who showed up.

The lactation consultant said that lowering the suction on the pump is the way to go, especially because you'll also make more milk that way because your breasts won't be tensed in pain. (And that's true. I've produced more milk with less pain today.) She also suggested getting a sports bra, cutting holes in it, sticking the breast shields of the pump in there, and expressing milk while the bra holds the pump for you. Brilliant idea! Someone also suggested to me earlier that I use lanolin to relieve the pain in my nipples. The lactation consultant agreed that lanolin was good to use because since it's an animal product, it's edible. She said one of the more popular brands also contains traces of oatmeal.

Well, it seems like we learned some more stuff, too, but we've got to run back up to the hospital now for her assessment. I hope my post this morning was not too alarming to anyone. I just felt kind of upset last night, but getting some sleep and some breakfast fixed a lot of that.

For Her Next Trick

Penelope pulled off quite an ingenious little scheme tonight to get all of that annoying stuff off her face. When we came in, she was desatting a little and all the alarms were going off on her SiPAP. We don't entirely know what those alarms mean. A nurse came in and explained that her pressure is supposed to be at 8 and it was at like almost 2. She said, "The mask must have gotten a bit out of position." Then she looked and was like, "Well, there's the problem. It's completely off her nose!" It was up crooked across the bridge of her nose, blowing air up into her eyes. Needless to say, she was not really thrilled about the occular draft. Remarkably, she was still satting around 70, which was amazing because a) the mask was off and b) she was furious! On the plus side, this meant that Laura and Teri, her nurse today, had to take her mask off, and then actually get her a new mask because the bigger one seemed too big to Laura, but then the little one seemed to little. Meanwhile, Penelope was enjoying having her elephant costume removed--that hose looks like a trunk to me--and we got great pictures of her whole face.

Teri also explained that she was wearing the bigger Pampers because she had a couple of "blowouts," in one of them making so much poop that all of her bedding had to be changed. The new diapers are pretty big for her, but at least they keep her clean.

After all of that, I did get to kangaroo her briefly. We're going back up at 8:30 for her next assessment.

By the Way...

I feel much better now than I did last night and early this morning. Also, Derrick turned down the settings on the breast pump. I had it turned up really high, and that might have been part of the problem. I'm still sore, but I'm hoping that will fade.

Derrick also said he would call the NICU and let Penelope's nurse know that Mom and I are not going up today, but that we will be coming at 11:30 every morning in the future. That was awfully nice of him because it makes me feel much more relaxed about the whole thing. For some reason, I just feel better knowing that they know when we are coming, and calling people really stresses me out, less the actual talking on the phone than the anticipation of doing it. Why does it make me feel better to know that they know when I'm coming? Who knows? I guess I just like to have a set plan.

We'll post some more pictures of Penelope tonight after we kangaroo.

One other thing

I forgot to mention that yesterday during kangarooing time, Derrick noticed that they lowered the breath rate on her SiPAP from 15 bpm to 10 bpm, and then just before we left, Bridget, the nurse practitioner came in and told us that they may be moving her to the less invasive nasal cannula within the next few days. She also didn't spit up any more. It was just that one time, so maybe she was just worked up from meeting with the physical therapist. (I mean, how exactly can you test someone's distress reactions without distressing her?)

Spilt Milk

I never thought much about the proverb, "Don't cry over spilt milk," but on those rare occasions when I did think about it, I thought, Who would cry over spilt milk? Me, apparently.

This morning after I finished pumping around 8:15, I found the bag of milk I had expressed at 4:55 this morning sitting on the end table in the bedroom next to the labels. At first I was confused, and then I burst into tears. I was especially sad because I'd gotten just under 60 ml of milk that time, almost certainly the most I'll make all day because I sleep 4 1/2 hours right before that. She takes 22 ml every three hours, so that would have fed her for almost nine hours. And my nipples are so sore, and I'm so tired, and it's so frustrating.

I felt extremely defeated when I got home from the hospital last night. Penelope is doing well, but I am not. Rachael gave us a sheet of her assessment times (8:30, 11:30, 2:30, 5:30) so that we could remember them. If we come during assessment times, then we'll get to touch her and do more stuff (i.e., change her diaper, take her temperature). We come now at 5:30 pm for kangarooing, but the other times are hard to hit. If we come at 8:30, then I will have to make sure I express right at 7:30, which is technically the right time, but I usually put it off until a little after 8:00 because by that time of day, my nipples are so sore unless I take the pain killer for the C-section, which I don't really need except for breast pain. The sheets they gave us say expressing milk is never supposed to hurt, but if it does, what am I supposed to do about it?

It's not the entire breast that hurts, just the nipple, just the tips of the nipples. But the pain shoots down to my fingertips, particularly if we go outside when it's cold, or sometimes just at random times. My breasts just hurt all the time, and when I put my bra on, it hurts them even more. It feels like they're both on fire, but when I try to identify the locus of the pain, it always turns out to be just the tips of the nipples that are actually sore.

The idea of changing my schedule is irrationally distressing to me, and last night when we got back to the house I just sat in the car and didn't seem able to motivate myself to get out. When we finally went inside, I fell asleep for about an hour until midnight when I had to wake up to pump and then go to sleep. After pumping, it took me a very long time to fall asleep, which was incredibly distressing to me because that's the only long period I have to sleep and that's only four hours. If I waste half of it worrying that I can't sleep I'll never get any sleep!

As I lay there not sleeping, I was really worried that I would need medication. I really don't want to take anything if I don't have to. But one possibility that didn't seem real to me until last night is that I may have to. What will I do then? It seems to me that anything that I take that actually is strong enough to work will taint the milk and then I won't be able to feed her. These worries spiralled out of control in a very irrational way until I reminded myself that they have donor milk and formula, and all sorts of horrible old drugs are safe to take even in pregnancy. I can't remember what now. I was thinking he told me haldol, but I just looked that up and it does get into the breast milk, so I can't remember what it was. But it was something horrible and old school and extreme sounding like that. And, of course, electroshock is safe any time! (I say that with kind of a morbid, sardonic sense of gleeful doom that really can't be communicated in writing.)

I don't think I have post partum depression. I was looking through the symptoms yesterday when trying to find out if it was safe to eat the bay scallops Mom put in the stuff she made for dinner. I mean, I do feel inadequate and unable to care for my child, but that's because she requires intensive care from trained medical professionals and I actually am unable to care for her. Surely that doesn't count. And I think feelings of guilt make sense, too, because she was born so early. I don't think any mother would be terribly pleased with herself in that situation, despite the knowledge that it wasn't her fault and the guilt is irrational.

Seeing Penelope always lifts my mood and makes me feel very happy and more energetic. I just don't like pumping because it's so terribly painful, and I can't figure out what is causing the pain. But then there's another problem. I'll be so tired and exhausted and then I'll drag myself up to the hospital to see her, and then seeing her makes me so energetic and excited that I completely forget I even need to sleep at all. It feels like Catch-22, like everybody is warning me about something from every side--depression, mania, my milk drying up--all these different things.

And I mean, I did everything I could to make sure the pregnancy went well, and the baby still came fourteen weeks early. So how much control do I really have over any of these things? And what am I supposed to do? That's why I don't like to have to rethink my schedule. The routine is reassuring, and it leaves time for a short afternoon nap (which may not happen today because there's this 3:30-4:30 NICU thing like a happy hour or a tea or something where you eat stuff and talk to people for some reason in some room some place--I can't figure out how to work that in at all).

But, actually, despite all this whining, I feel much better this morning, though I did cry over the--in my case--'spoilt' milk.

Strange as this may sound, Penelope is an inspiration to me. She's much more vulnerable than I am, has far fewer resources, and yet she manages to be so strong. Derrick just texted and said she's up to 2 pounds, 12 ounces and may need to graduate into bigger diapers. Yesterday, they had to change her little hat-thing that holds her breathing tube on. The other one had gotten too small because her head had clearly grown. (Oh, and I forgot to mention, her belly button is an outie, which seems like the rarer type of belly button to me. I can only think of one other person I know who has one, but then again, that may be because I know far more names and faces than belly buttons.) I am going to make sure that she gets that milk so that she continues to grow.

This post is seeming very whiny by now, so maybe I shouldn't post it. I was just discussing with Mom the possibility of moving our morning visit to 11:30 to coincide with an assessment, but she says that she can't do it today because the Direct TV guy is coming. My car is still at our house in Hutto, and I'm not sure what Derrick has done with my keys.

I guess I'll go ahead and post the post because I wrote it. Otherwise, it will just go the way of the wasted milk. I think I will now go the way of the kitchen and get some breakfast.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Physical Therapist

Melissa, Penelope's nurse today, told us that Penny worked with the physical therapist for the first time this morning and seemed to like it. I asked what she was doing with the physical therapist, and Melissa explained that it was more of an assessment to test her reflexes and responses. We've learned, for example, that when feeling distressed or annoyed, premature babies will pull their hands up against the sides of their heads, as if they're trying to deliberately cover their ears. So they were checking to make sure things like that were in place, and everything looked good.

Melissa did mention that Penelope had a 3 ml residual this morning, but that doesn't seem like very much to me since I think Mary Lou told me that up to a 20 percent residual was no cause for concern, and she's getting 22 ml in each of her feeds. She did spit up just a little bit this morning, but the nurse practitioner didn't seem concerned and said just keep an eye on her. It could just be because she had more "visitors" than usual today (i.e., the physical therapist).

Her weight is back up to 2 pounds, 8 ounces, so overall, it is going up. She looks so much bigger now than when she was born. When Derrick dropped off the milk this morning, Melissa and Margaret were adjusting her mask, and Margaret (who hasn't seen her for a few days) exclaimed, "She's huge!" She has gotten a lot bigger.

Penelope's Hot Tubbing Habit

We hear that Penelope really loves baths. Both Rachael and Sally (the only two people to bathe her) have said so. Once their cords fall out and they're relatively stable, the NICU babies are bathed every three days, in Penelope's case in the early evening. (We're up there from 5:30-6:30 and then again at 9:30, so it happens some time in between--probably after shift change ends at 8:00.)

Now that her cord has fallen out, they actually put her in a tub of water. I'm confused about how that happens, but I think they lower the tub into the incubator with her. That's what I thought Sally was telling us, and Derrick seems sure that was what she meant (I'm not always great at visualizing spatial relationships).

Rachael told us, "She really did not want to get out last night. It was time to get back in her bed, and she was just loving her bath. It looked like she was lounging in a hot tub."

They both seemed a little surprised she liked the bath so much. I think babies usually like baths, but Penelope really doesn't like much of anything involving contact and moving her around. Several of the nurses, meeting us for the first time, have cautioned us, "She doesn't like to be touched." (That's not entirely true, though. She does seem to enjoy it when I touch her. I think she likes comforting touch but hates diaper changing, temperature taking, probe reattaching, blood drawing--things I doubt I'd like very much, either. And she also tolerates the touch of some nurses more than others. I'm not sure why.) Apparently, she does not like being taken out of her bath, however. She really throws a fit.

I keep wondering if the warm water reminds her of the amniotic fluid. I can imagine her thinking, Oh good. They've listened to all my complaints and brought my water back. And then getting really furious with them when they take it away again, kind of like, Don't you people get it? I like my water! I yell at you about this every time you stick your hands through my windows. Why is it so hard for you to understand? (Obviously, this idea drifts off into fantasy, but I'll bet it does remind her of being in the amniotic fluid.)

Another plus about the bath, from her point of view, is that she gets everything taken off for a few minutes so that her nurse can clean behind her ears, wipe the adhesive off her lips--stuff like that. Rachael told us, "I got to see her without her mask last night. She has such a beautiful face."

They're always telling us how beautiful she is. We agree of course, though we rarely get to see her entire face. We see it in little sections (depending on what kind of breathing support paraphernalia she's wearing) and have to piece the sections together in our minds to get an idea of what her face actually looks like. It's not unlike the beginning of Midnight's Children, now that I think about it.

I'm sure the NICU nurses tell all the parents that their babies are beautiful. (Can you imagine, parents come in to visit, and the nurse says sympathetically, "It must be hard that your baby was born so many weeks early--especially because she's so ugly, too!") Everyone mentions how beautiful her hands and fingers are, though. I can't imagine how anyone couldn't truly think so. She has such long, tapering fingers. People are always predicting that she'll be a pianist or a harpist. I am pretty sure she got those fingers from my mom, who does play the piano.

Her face, on the other hand, is a composite of our faces. She definitely has my nose (visible even in her 20 week ultrasound), but she's clearly got Derrick's eyes and chin dimple. (When they first showed her to me in the OR, her little eye was open and looking at me, and I thought immediately how much she looked like Derrick. I later realized what I was noticing is the way her eyes are set into her face. Mine are more deep set. His are more prominent, like his mom's. We're still not completely decided about whose lips she has. They're usually partially covered with tape because of the feeding tube.

Speaking of the feeding tube, she lost a little weight. In fact, she went from 2 pounds, 10 ounces to 2 pounds, 6 ounces in one day! The nurses have suggested a number of reasons for that. They always weigh at night, but I'm not sure if they always do it at exactly the same time. Suzanne pointed out that there are times she has a full belly and a full diaper (boy does she!) and times when both are empty. Later on, Rachael reminded us, too, that since she's on full feeds (i.e. has no other source of calories but the feeding tube with my fortified milk) she has to work hard digesting. Breathing is also work for her, so it's not surprising she'd burn a lot of calories. Rachael said when the weight goes up and down it's not a big deal. Problems come when the weight consistently only goes down.

I got to change one of her really poopy diapers for the first time yesterday evening, just before we kangarooed. She hadn't pooped quite as much as that one time, but it had smeared upward and all over her, so no wonder she was uncomfortable and mad at everyone. I tried to act casual so that Suzanne would not suspect that this was my first time to change a diaper containing actual poop.

After that was all taken care of, I got to kangaroo her again. After she desatted so much for him the other day, Derrick decided that I should be the one who always kangaroos her for a while because she does so much better with me. Once she gets a bit bigger--maybe in a couple of weeks--he'll start taking his turn again. By the time that happens, we may get to do it two times a day, anyway.

She did really well when I kangarooed last night. I held her for a long, long time again, over half an hour. She did have two little bradys (where her heart rate went down), but they each only lasted like two seconds (like the monitor numbers dipped and the alarms went off, but then they immediately went right back up again without Suzanne really needing to do anything). Both of these times, she had a few little milk bubbles in her mouth. (They kangaroo during feeding, so they're not always bothering the baby every five minutes as people trickle in to do stuff to her throughout the day.) She often has some spitty little bubbles of mucous and needs to be suctioned. In fact, towards the end of our kangarooing session, Penelope fell asleep again and left a huge slimy trail of drool on my chest for me as a souvenier of our time together. I told her playfully, "Good thing I love you so much." I talk to her constantly when I hold her, and she responds really well. She was satting in the 90s much of the time again. I do it because when I was carrying her I talked to her quite a bit. She still likes to play scrunch, scrunch, scrunch...pat, pat, pat, but it is a little harder when I'm holding her and have to support her butt and the back of her head. She scrunches the most when I sing her song, perhaps because most of the time when I'd sing it to her at home, I'd put my hands on my belly, almost cradling her in a way. Lots of times, she'd lump up in the shower, and I'd pat her and sing her song then.

Suzanne says the bradys happen sometimes because a ventilator tube (which she no longer has) or a feeding tube (which she does) can sometimes hit a nerve that makes the heart slow down because Penelope's throat is so tiny. Corinna pointed out to me that her heart rate always dips for a second when she suctions her, again because she's probably hitting that nerve. Suzanne said the two brief dips in heart rate were nothing to be concerned about. "I get worried about the babies who don't come back up for a long time. It is concerning when you can't get them to come back up." I was careful to hold her head in a more upright position this time.

Well, I'd better eat some breakfast so I can hurry up to see her!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I held Penelope again tonight, and this time she was wide awake when I got her, so she was much squirmier than on Friday. My neck got such a crick in it because she stared at me the whole time she was awake--about twenty-five minutes. Then for the last ten to fifteen minutes, she went to sleep.


I started writing this post last night, but my attempt to balance the bottom of the milk bottles on my leg so I could type while pumping did not work out, and I had to go to bed before I could finish.

Besides the obvious sensations--love, comfort--holding her last night stirred up a couple of warring responses. First of all, she did have one small brady (where her heart rate dropped to around 60 bpm) while I was holding her. Suzanne came in and repositioned her head, and she came right back up. It didn't even last a minute, so clearly the problem was simply that her head was not in a good position. But I feel almost guilty about that. Guilty is not the right word, really, but here's the thing. I had one hand supporting her head the entire time, and yet this still happened. Right before she fell asleep, I kept telling her, "That's a good girl. Go to sleep. You're safe with Mommy." I worry, though, that she's not. I thought I had her and was giving her adequate support, but because of all her squirming, her head had slipped back pretty far, so even though I was still supporting it, I should have pushed it up into a different position. Doing that makes me uneasy because 1) I'm not sure what the best position is 2) I don't want to push too hard on her head. Even normal newborns have such delicate heads, after all.

All along, I've had these sporadic waves of guilt about not being able to protect her. The first couple of days were terrible. I kept raving about that off and on. Derrick and my mom and the nurses and everyone else kept telling me it wasn't my fault, it wasn't anything I did. But it still breaks my heart that she was fine, she was healthy, and I couldn't hold her in. I just have no idea why that happened. I had some spotting (and even, one night, light bleeding) early in my first trimester. Partially because of that, my greatest (and pretty much ever present) fear was that the baby would die in my womb and I wouldn't know. I mean, usually, they come out when that happens and you do know, but I couldn't shake the worry that something would happen to her (or had happened to her) and I just didn't know it. You can't really check on her without having bloodwork or an ultrasound done. And at that time, I was having bloodwork done regularly, and I had three ultrasounds, but you can't do that every second of every day, and something could happen at any time.

That's why I loved it so much when she started moving--because then I always knew she was okay. I thought she was so wonderful to move for me so often, so that I didn't have to worry about her. It was a very endearing trait of hers (as if I didn't already love her all consumingly). I worried about other things, too. I avoided straining, lifting, weird movements, strange activities, driving, anything that might cause an accident. I sometimes overreacted to sick people, as if they had the plague. I was terrified something would happen to the baby. It never occurred to me that I would go into labor for no apparent reason.

By the time I did go into labor, I was relatively calm. I had worried about so many things, and none of them had happened, and she'd been healthy in the twenty-week ultrasound, and she moved all the time, and I was so far along that everything seemed like it was going to be fine.

Seeing her in that incubator on that first Saturday in my wheelchair--everything just seemed so difficult for her, and there no words for how guilty I felt. Again, guilty is not the right word. She had always been so good about moving so that I would not be worried. She had been so healthy, so perfect. If she had been full term, she would have had no problems at all. She was everything I wanted, and I felt like I let her down. She did her part, and I did not do mine. When I type this out, it does not make sense in the same way it does as a feeling. Rationally, I know I did not make myself go into labor. And I know Penelope didn't move around just to be nice to me. Maybe it was good to type it out because I can't make sense the way it does in my head. Maybe it actually doesn't make sense.

The other thing I felt while holding her was much more positive, and I feel this all the time, too. She's so incredible! Penelope never ceases to amaze me. For someone who has only been alive twenty-nine weeks, she's so smart. (I mean, she's not talking yet or juggling or anything, of course.) But she's so alert and responsive and has so much intelligence and curiosity flickering in her eyes. When I talk to her and hold her, I get the strong sense that she understands me. I don't mean that she comprehends the words I am saying to her, but she can tell that I love her and she wants to be with me. That's largely instinctual, I'm sure, but she recognizes the songs and responds differently to one than the other. When I hold her, I try to say things I know I said a lot when I was pregnant, and she sats higher to familiar phrases.

She's so tiny right now. I'm sure she doesn't have the self awareness to realize that. She's the size of a newborn puppy instead of a newborn human. It's so odd to hold her now and to think of how I used to hold her, and how I hope to hold her--to think of what she seemed to be, and what she is, and what, God willing, she will become. And still, her personality has not changed.

It's strange to me to think that if she were still in the womb, she'd still look just the way she does. I just wouldn't be able to see her. I didn't used to think of unborn babies as being babies who just happened to be hidden inside your body. I mean, I always thought of her as being my baby, but I just didn't imagine a baby who looked like a baby who just happened to be inside of me. Babies who aren't born must look and move and react exactly like babies who are. They're just smaller. She looked different in the ultrasound.

The ultrasound was clearer than I expected, though. We could clearly see that she was a girl. I thought they either found a penis or assumed it was a girl, but the images show a staggering level of detail. They gave us several--really like six--very clear pictures of her genitalia with a little arrow and the word girl typed next to her. My friend Lindsay cracked up about that. She said, "It's good to see ultrasound techs have a sense of humor--although they probably aren't trying to be funny, are they?" Even when we went in for the last ultrasound the day I had her, the first thing the tech said was, "Well, she's clearly a girl if you had any doubts. Not a modest girl, either! Look at that, she's spread eagle." Later, she moved her leg so that one foot seemed to be resting on the top of her head. (I'll bet she's mad she can't get it up there now.)

That's the thing, she was so comfortable in there, heart beat 150, as always--no idea that anything was wrong.

But she is doing well. We're going to see her in a minute.

Growth Spurt

Penelope is getting so big--for someone so tiny. She now weighs 2 pounds, 10 ounces, and she's 14.5 inches long, a whole inch longer than at birth. Today, she's 29 weeks old, and Friday she was 3 weeks old (in already-born reckoning).

She's still doing really well, or was this morning. Tonight, it's my turn to kangaroo her again. I probably should have sat quietly while Derrick held her yesterday. Usually, when I talk, even if she's only semi-awake, she tries to look in the direction of my voice. I don't know why she's decided it's a great idea for her to move her own head around all the time. Her nurse observed, "She thinks she's big!" When she moves her head herself, the motion sometimes causes the nose mask to slip off center, and then she sneezes because the puffs of air tickle. She also spat out her pacifier, and she's supposed to suck it so air doesn't escape through her mouth, causing her lungs to become deflated. She was satting in the mid-80s for Derrick at first, and I was reading the Golden Book version of The Three Little Pigs. Derrick always used to tell that story to Grayson back when I first met them. I remember when I came over for New Year's Eve when Grayson was two, and he kept insisting that I get inside his little tunnel. I tried to tell him I wouldn't fit, but he kept suggesting ways that I could get in there. Finally, I managed to get slightly inside it, and then he crawled in the other side and said happily, "That Bad Wolf will never find us in here." So when I saw that story on the NICU bookshelf, I thought it was a good choice. Unfortunately, thanks to Penelope's contortionist antics, we only got to read for about two minutes. (Of course, thanks to the narrative economy of Golden Books, we were already on the third little pig.)

Penelope makes these funny little noises now. She doesn't cry a lot unless someone is perturbing her (which happens kind of easily). But she makes these funny little noises--kind of like a cross between a kitten and a dove (which just sounds bizarre). What she actually sounds like is a small baby (go figure), but the noise is hard to describe--it's a little mewling coo (hence the kitten/dove idea which I don't think worked as well as I had hoped).

She did cry once when the nurse took her off of my chest and started to put her back in the incubator, but really, that only lasted for about ten seconds until she got comfortable again. It's probably disquieting to be so tiny and have the sensation of flying through the air.

Oh, and last night before Derrick held her, she grabbed her cheek and pulled on it so hard she left a huge red mark on her face. She looked very mad throughout this ordeal, but she didn't actually cry. (That might be because her pacifier was still in, though. I'm trying to remember.) I felt bad for her because it took me forever to convince her fingers to let go of her cheek.

I'm excited to hold her again tonight. For now, I think I may attempt a very short nap. Our three-sleep-period nights are working out pretty well, except that I always have nightmares in the sleeping period from one to four.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Daddy Gets to Hold Penelope!

I got to kangaroo Penelope this evening.  It's funny because I was worried about holding her...but not for the reasons I would have thought.  I wasn't too worried about getting her sick...not any more than usual.  I wasn't worried about dropping her because the nurses are all so competent and comfortable handling her I knew all I'd have to do was just sit there.  What worried me the most was that she might not do as well with me holding her as Sarah...I was torn about whether I should just let Sarah hold her since I knew Penelope would be more comfortable.  I shouldn't have been able to hold her for another three months it she had been full term.  I thought maybe I should just let Sarah continue to bond with her.

I finally decided that I should hold her.  She was here and I did want her to know me as I might as well get started with that now.  I'm really glad that I did.  She weight next to was like having a warm feather on your chest...that wiggled.  She sneezed several times right after the nurse, Mary Lou, laid her on my chest.  It was really cute.  

She liked to stretch her feet out.  Sarah sang and started to read The Three Little Pigs.  Apparently she decided to see what all the commotion was and she arched her head back and her eyes went wide open...she was also probably over stimulated from my rocking her.  

After that she started having problems holding her sats.  I got to hold her about twenty minutes and the nurse decided that it would probably be best if she got back into her little house.  It took a little bit for her sats to go back up...but she was pretty happy when she got settled back in.

It's amazing to hold your baby for the first time.  It never gets old...of course there is only one first time! :)

The Longest Night Ever

I was so exhausted last night (and worried about not getting enough sleep) that I went to sleep at 10:00 and woke up at 1:00, 4:00, and 7:00 to express milk. That way is better for getting sleep, but it makes the night seem to last forever.

I first woke up at 12:45 because I had to go to the bathroom and I was worried how I was going to get up without disturbing Penelope. It took me several minutes to realize that she wasn't there. I had been dreaming that she was sleeping on my chest. Then that second sleep period was horrible. I slept very relestlessly and kept having nightmares most of them involving Mom and Dad's house being robbed (which happened in August), the sudden appearance of Wacko (our cat, whom we haven't seen since the house was robbed), and girls knocking on the window who turned out to be some kind of evil apparitions of some sort. Derrick suggested that maybe the cold front started coming through at that time, so maybe the wind the was keeping me up.

During the third sleep period, I thought that Penelope had her hand on my chest, but it was actually my hand on Derrick's chest.

We went up to take her milk and see her early this morning. She was apparently on room air almost the entire night, and she's gained another ounce. She's now 2 pounds, 9 ounces, and she's starting to look a little bigger to me, though her arms and legs are still incredibly skinny. She looked very comfy while we were there. On our way out, we ran into Derrick's parents in the parking lot. We knew they were coming this afternoon, but we hadn't realized how much time we'd spent in the hospital. So we went back inside, and Derrick took his mom up to see her while his dad and I waited in the cafe area.

This afternoon at some point, we are going to buy her a baby book, and then this evening, it is Derrick's turn to kangaroo her. We decided to trade off, so tomorrow, I will do it again.

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Little Joey

I got to hold Penelope on my chest for the first time tonight. They told Derrick on the phone that one of us can hold her for a little while one time a day, but we need to come at assessment times to do it. We decided that I would hold her today, and he'll get to hold her tomorrow. We're supposed to wear button down shirts, if possible, because we hold her skin to skin, belly to chest.

I was worried about dropping her, but when Mary Lou actually handed her to me, she laid her on my chest, and I just kept one hand under her butt and one on her back. She said we'd see how long Penelope would tolerate it. She dimmed the lights and went outside where she could see the monitor through the window.

I got to hold Penelope and sing to her. It was so wonderful! At one point, I started crying. I hadn't realized how much I had missed her. We had spent so much time together. I really enjoyed my pregnancy when the fetal movement started. Having someone who loves you always with you is just so comforting and nice. The day after she was born, I was such an emotional wreck. I kept falling into a restless sleep and waking up with my hands on my belly, disturbed that she wasn't in there where I could feel her. Holding her close to me again felt really good.

She enjoyed it, too. I got to hold her a long time, over half an hour, because she was handling it so well. Derrick was watching the monitor. Most of the time when I'd ask, "How is she?" he'd say, "92" (referring to her oxygen saturation). At one point, he said, she dropped to 83, but only for a few seconds. Other than that, she was 85 or above the entire time, and most of the time she was in the 90s, and she was only on room air. So she obviously enjoyed being held. She really does like her first song the best. If I had known she would like it so much and I'd be singing it to her for months in a hospital, I would have made up a better song. I just started singing that one to her spontaneously, not even realizing it at first.

It goes:

My little girl
lives in my tummy.
She is a good girl.
Her name's Penelope.
My little girl
lives in my tummy.
Her name's Pen-el-o-pe.

The second song is slightly better and has a nicer melody, but Penelope definitely likes the first song the best--maybe because I started singing it earlier. (Obviously, the lyrics had to be adapted to "lived in my tummy" under the circumstances.) Holding her was so nice. She would sometimes grab my chest with her little fingers and snuggle into me. She seemed very content.

In other news, they've upped her feedings to 20 ml and increased the fortifier. They're also giving her extra sodium because her sodium was a little low. And they've gotten to the point that they've stopped testing her blood sugar and stopped weighing her diapers.

Oh, and Mary Lou took a picture of her with her feeding tube out for us so that we could see the dimple in her chin. We didn't even know she had a dimple in her chin until she told us because normally there's tape all over her chin to hold in the feeding tube.

I love that baby. I always used to tell Derrick, "Penelope is such a good girl. She never gives me a lick of trouble." It was kind of a joke, but I was partially serious. I was always so pleased with her because whenever I would worry, she would move around. He would always say, "Wait until she's born." Now she's born, and I still feel the same way. She's just wonderful.


If the nurse practitioner decides it's okay, Derrick and I may get to kangaroo Penelope later today. We weren't even the ones who asked about it. Mary Lou (who also had Penelope yesterday) said she thought it was just about time, but the nurse practitioner wanted to assess her first. We didn't have time to hold her this morning, anyway, because Derrick had to get to a meeting. As it was, we stayed too long because since we went early, we actually got there in time for her morning assessment, so I got to take her temperature, and we changed her diaper--a team effort since the tab got stuck to the bandage wrapped around her foot. Those tabs on her little pampers aren't adhesive. They're sort of velcro-like, and they stick to everything. They're very tricky.

Based on what I'd heard (and seen), I was expecting tons of poop, but she had actually only peed this time. I'm very nervous about when I get a really poopy diaper since I've never changed anyone other than Penelope. I knew, of course, that my baby would poop in her diapers, and that I'd change them, but I didn't know I'd have trained professionals looking over my shoulder, or that the baby would be the size of my hand, or that she would squirm around like she was auditioning for Cirque du Soleil. I am really not sure how she gets her legs in some of the places that she does. She's quite a contortionist!

Her hair still looks really fluffy this morning. After we finished her assessment, I held her for a while, and she started sneezing. She was gripping my finger tightly and sneezing and sneezing all over me. I hoped she wasn't sick, but Mary Lou said that babies often sneeze for other reasons. For one thing, we'd just been changing her diaper, which never fails to make her mad. Also, she doesn't know how to scratch her nose or adjust the feeding tube in her mouth.

While I was holding her (through the windows), Derrick found out that she weighed 2 pounds, 8 ounces again last night, so she's back up. Her eyes were still looking at me when we had to leave. I really don't like to leave when she's staring into my eyes. It feels like a betrayal. But we had to leave. Derrick had a meeting to get to. Mom and Dad are in San Antonio today for his liver check up, but hopefully, Dad won't need any procedures and they'll be back this evening.

In other news, my milking schedule is not working out. The milk production is up, but the sleep time is way down, and even though I don't want the milk to disappear, I don't want the sanity to disappear, either. I can tell that I need more sleep. In fact, I'm going to take a nap in about five minutes, as soon as I move the scent cloths I'm washing from the washer to the drier. I think--despite my reluctance to be cold--I'm going to have to sleep part of the night, then wake up to pump at two or three, rather than staying up until two or three. It just isn't enough sleep.

I really hope we get to hold her tonight. She looks so good, so clean. Her little toes were so pretty this morning.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Penelope's First Bath

When Derrick and I went up to visit Penny tonight, Sally told us that her PICC line had become occluded, so they just took it out. She also told us that Penelope had had her first bath. Because her umbilical cord fell out a couple of days ago, she was actually able to take a bath in a little tub. Sally said she liked it. She said she didn't like getting scrubbed beforehand very much, but she seemed to think soaking in the tub was a pretty nice little reward. Her hair was all fluffy. She was tucked in on her tummy. Derrick kept saying how pretty and fluffy her hair looked while I was singing to her.

For the past few days, I've noticed that Penelope is much more responsive to her first song than to her second song. I half thought it was just my imagination, but when I mentioned it in the car on the way to the hospital, Derrick said, "I've noticed that, too." I was really surprised that he'd noticed. When I sing the first song, she always twitches and moves her eyes. If she's sleeping, she sometimes tries to open them. She really seems to like the song and to want to hear it. I was surprised, though, that Derrick was able to notice her reaction because I am always the one who sits much closer to her and touches her. But what he had noticed is that her oxygen saturation goes up the most when I sing the first song.

So tonight, I made a point of singing her first song much more often, and sure enough, she was satting very high. At one point, she grabbed my finger. She held it while I patted her back, and she seemed very happy. Then when I tried to go, she tightened her grip on my finger like, "Oh, I don't think you'll be leaving yet." I know she doesn't really understand what she does with her hands. Still, she seemed very happy, and I was, too.

A Pacified Penny

Penelope is actually sucking on her pacifier now. Her previous method involved spitting it out and licking it periodically. She probably has more room in her mouth now that the tube is out. She was sleeping when Derrick and I went up there just now. Her nurse said she's had a really good day, other than one brady. I wonder, though, if she was suctioning her at the time--because that always happens when she's suctioned. I didn't think to ask.

While I was singing to her, she was satting in the high 90s, but then the second I closed her windows and pulled her cover down, she started desatting and dipped all the way down to about 59. The nurse came in, and she came back up reasonably quickly, though. Her lip is less wrinkly than it was this morning--I think.

So Many Changes!

When Mom and I walked into Penelope's room this morning, I noticed immeadiately that her ventilator was gone, replaced by the SiPAP. She seems to be doing pretty well on it, though she did desat a couple of times while we were there, but nothing drastic. I kind of worry that by opening her window and talking to her, I overstimulate her...or she may have also had another poopy diaper.

The mask looks more drastic than the ventilator tube--misleading because it's far less invasive. It just puffs air into her nose, but they have to make sure it stays over her nose, that she doesn't pull it off or turn her head and make it move.

I noticed it had a set rate of 15 bpm, and I'm pretty sure that's where her vent was set late yesterday. Apparently, she's been on the SiPAP since 1 am. I was really surprised since they've talked about getting her off the vent for a long time, and until last night, they hadn't actually done anything about it. She's also been tolerating the fortified milk. She's had basically no residuals, and she's been getting it since 11:30 last night. That means that the PICC line can come out soon. The nurse (whose name I can't remember) said that they'll probably either take it out before or after the weekend.

The nurse also said her weight had gone down, just a bit to 2 pounds, 6 ounces. She said that could simply be a more accurate weight because she had been intubated when they'd weighed her previously, making it harder to be precise. Also, she pooped like sixty times yesterday. I would imagine that could affect her weight a bit, too.

She made a little noise when I was singing to her, and it surprised me because I forgot she can make noises. That means when they change her diaper, we'll be able to hear her cry. I need to adjust my pumping times somehow so that I can get up there for her assessments. They're doing them every three hours starting at 8:30. We always manage to just miss them.

My milk production is up, but on the way out of the NICU last night, we passed a mother who had just filled an entire bottle and another fourth of a bottle in one milking. (There's got to be a better way to say that.) Oh, that reminds me! Besides adding the fortified powder, they also increased Penelope's feeds to 17 ml every three hours.

Oh another weird thing--the nurse gave us her birth certificate. Not the official one, but one you fill out yourself. It had her foot prints on it, and my thumb prints--weird because I have no recollection in participating in the making of this document. After thinking about it a long time, I do remember someone having me press my fingers into ink, but I cannot recall who asked me to do it or any of the circumstances when it happened (where, when, etc.).

Additional Info:  Sarah actually did this when they wheeled her over to the NICU for the first time (right after getting out of recovery from the surgery) before they took her to her post partem room.  One of the nurses showed us the certificate with Penelope's little foot prints and said that they would get Sarah's prints later so they could finish it up.  Another nurse (unfortunately I can't seem to remeber who was there that night...Tammy was I believe) said that she had ink on hand and they could go ahead and get the prints right then...they all seemed pleased by that's the story of the mysterious mommy prints!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Penelope was snuggled in on her tummy again tonight. Just before we were about to leave, she turned her head and then turned it back. That made me nervous, but her numbers all seemed fine. They're going to start feeding her the fortified milk at 11:30. Hopefully, she'll be able to tolerate it because then the PICC line can come out.

We were talking to her nurse, Chris, about what needs to happen before she'll be sent home. (Obviously she won't be coming home for quite a long time, but I was nervous about the apnea.) Chris told us that in order to get sent home, babies must go five days without any apnea. They have to be in an open bed (instead of the incubator) and maintain a steady temperature. Usually they're taken out of the incubator between four and five pounds. She said that smaller babies like Penny are often closer to four pounds than five. Before they go home, they also have to be nipple fed rather than taking the tube. (That makes it sound like she's planning a trip to London. I guess I should say receiving the food through a tube.) They also do a car seat test to make sure they have no trouble breathing in a car seat. Also, we'll room in with her before she goes home, doing everything for her, taking care of all of her feedings, diaper changes, and giving her any medicine she needs.

(I am really tired tonight, but I still have two more milkings.)

Penelope is so pretty and sweet! I love it when we do the scrunch, scrunch, scrunch...pat, pat, pat thing. It's becoming a nightly ritual. I'm slightly afraid about her being extubated. I know that's what's best for her, but I just remember how quickly she crashed before. She was fine that morning, and then by night she had to be intubated. We've had so many good days in a row. I know they can't all be good days, so I'm just a bit wary.

But she looked beautiful and comfortable tonight.

Sleeping Beauty

We just went up to see Penelope, who is doing so well! She looks just beautiful and is noticeably bigger than she used to be. Derrick noticed right away that her vent settings were much lower. Her breath rate was set way down at 15 bpm, and she was overbreathing that by a lot. While we were in there, Jason, the nurse practitioner came by. He told us that he hopes to ween her off the vent in the next couple of days, possibly tomorrow. She'll probably go onto a CYPAP (or SIPAP). Derrick is looking that up to see what it is. Apparently, it's very similar to a CPAP but looks different.

He also said that they're starting her on fortification powder in her milk--it's called human milk fortification powder, or something. It has extra calcium and magnesium, and I'd imagine other stuff, too. If she tolerates that, then they'll be able to take out the PICC line, which would be awesome. With no PICC line and no ventilator, I'm sure she'd be much more comfortable and maybe we'd get to hold her pretty soon. Apparently, right now, they're just running saline through the PICC line to keep it open. They're also giving her sodium chloride in her feeding tube because her kidneys have trouble regulating her sodium. As Dr. Wong put it, basicaly, "her kidneys are stupid" right now because they're immature.

All in all, lots of good news! (The idea of her getting off the ventilator makes me a bit nervous. I know that's a huge step in the right direction, but the day she went on the ventilator was so scary.)

UPDATE:  I just looked this up and it's called a SiPAP.  It stands for Syncronized inspiratory Positive Airflow Pressure.  Basically it's like a CPAP but allows for a breath rate that allows for more support if she needs it.  What I've read is that this has helped infants not have to go back on a ventilator once they've been weaned off. - D$

Our Biggest One!

When Mom and I first got to the hospital, Penelope's oxygen saturation was at 81. It's supposed to be 84-92, but 81 is barely low. Then suddenly, ten seconds later, the probe wasn't even getting a reading, and then when it came back on, it was 57. There were bubbles of milk all over her mouth. I didn't know what to do. A nurse came in and suctioned her, and she went back up a little. Then suddenly, she desatted again! (I don't know if that should have a double t or not.) Lindsay was her nurse today, but she was feeding her other baby. Another nurse named Nancy (not the nurse practitioner Nancy) came in and started looking at her. She said, "Before I turn up the os, let's have a peek at the other end." After messing with her diaper for a second, she said, "Ah hah! Well that's the problem."

Apparently she needed to be changed. But then, when she got the diaper off, she showed it to me. It was totally full of poop! It looked like enough poop for a normal sized baby, maybe even an adult. I was shocked! Every time I've changed her diaper, it's always been either pee or a tiny smear. This diaper was overflowing. She filled the entire diaper! Granted, they are tiny diapers, but still.

By that time, Lindsay had come in. Nancy said something like, "She did it again! Look at this!" Lindsay was like, "Ohhh yes." To me, she said, "She's already got a reputation." While Nancy closed up Penelope's windows, Lindsay told me, "She pooped three times last night." Looking down at Penelope's chart, she added with wide eyes, "This one was a three!" (meaning one of the times the night before). She told me with a smile, "That's our biggest one!" The way she delivered that line just cracked me up. So it would seem that Penelope's excretory system is working just fine. If she had a bowel movement bigger than the one I saw (and apparently she did) I am just amazed! Lindsay says because she pooped so much last night, she may not poop again for a while, and that would be normal. She still weighs 2 pounds, 8 ounces, although she'd gained a few grams. I wonder now if they weighed her before or after all that pooping last night. For the most part, she's been on room air. After Nancy changed her diaper, she was much happier and quit desatting. In fact, when we left--after I finished singing to her and taking pictures of her new belly button--she was satting 100 per cent on room air. I didn't want to leave, but I was late for my milking.

My milk production is up, by the way, so adding the extra time seems to be working.

Inny or Outy?

I don't even know how to spell belly button related terms, but I just realized that was something I forgot to mention. Suzanne told us this afternoon that the dried, black remnants of Penelope's umbilical cord fell out this morning. That's why they had to take out the umbilical lines a few days ago because once the cord dries out, it can get infected. At the time, however, Penelope was lying on her tummy, so I didn't get a chance to check out her belly button.

I meant to look this evening when she was on her back, but I was sitting looking up at her. I like to keep my hands on her as long as I can, and then when she goes to sleep, I like to put her cover down and sneak away as quickly as possible. As a result, I forgot to look at her belly button.

In other news, Rachel told us tonight that we were almost out of milk in the freezer at the hospital, so Derrick will take some up in a cooler tomorrow morning. I get so freaked out that Penelope is going to need more milk than I can produce, but really, I've got a week and a half's worth of milk stashed in the freezer here that she hasn't even touched yet.

Adding a late night milking time helped my overall production, so I'm going to make that a regular thing. Earlier today, I started charting my overall milk production. Just now, I finished today's figures and saw that I'm up 30 ml from yesterday. If I pump about two, I only end up waiting about five hours until I pump again at 7:00, so that seems okay. So I'll just stay up until the last pumping since it's so hard to force myself to wake up and get out of bed and take off my shirt in the cold.

Penelope is still on the vent, but they are slowly weening her off. I guess her lungs are just very immature still. Given how early she came, that's not too surprising. I did have time for a steroid shot to help her lungs develop, but I only got that shot about five and a half hours before she was born. Considering that her chest x-rays always show tiny, underdeveloped lungs, I can't imagine how she managed to breathe without the vent for four days! Granted, that fourth day was really hard on her, but for the first three days, she was--as one of the NICU nurses put it--"a little rock star!" What an amazing baby! I'm so proud of her, thinking about it. What an incredible will to live! That kind of strength of will is bound to help her. (I had to edit that sentence. First I had--That strength of will will help her, I know it will. Multiple problems, there.)

The good thing about those chest x-rays is that they never show anything wrong with her lungs. The vent doesn't seem to have damaged them yet, and they never collapse or anything. She's just little. She's such a little fighter!

I'm getting sleepy now, which is a good thing. I always worry that one of these times I won't. Last night, I got about four hours of sleep. Then I slept for almost three more this afternoon (from about 2:00 to 4:30). I didn't mean to sleep quite that long, but while I was sleeping, I think my mom came into the bedroom to put away laundry--yet another perk of being at my mom's house--and I guess she somehow stepped on the power strip the clock is plugged into. I got so confused. I woke up and looked at my phone and thought it was almost four, but then when I glanced at the clock after a moment of dozing, it was only two thirty. This happened several times before I finally realized that surely it couldn't always stay 2:30. I finally scrambled out of bed just in time to express. I always feel guilty about sleeping in the day, but I've got to sleep some time!

I think now I'll take a pre-milking shower.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Birthday Cupcakes

After seeing Penny before shift change, we went over to Aimee's to have birthday cupcakes with Grayson and Jackson. I was glad to see Grayson. It felt like I had last seen him a lifetime ago. He sang "Happy Birthday--Cha Cha Cha" to both Jack and Derrick. Jackson's grown a lot since I last saw him. Aimee pointed out that he probably looks extra big because Penny is so small.

She's getting bigger every day, though. We asked Suzanne about her weight and learned she's up to 2 pounds, 8 ounces. Two and a half pounds! She was sleeping away while we were there, but she woke up for a few minutes and we played a little pat, pat, pat...scrunch, scrunch, scrunch since she was on her belly again. She's such a good girl.

The Penelephant...or Our Small Person

Several weeks ago, Mom and I were in Babies R Us shopping for bedding, and we saw a cute little elephant that I would have bought except it looked like it had fallen off the shelf and been trampled a few times. It sold me on the bedding, though. I cooed, "Oh, that can be her Penelephant!"

Mom returned from San Antonio yesterday with a Macy's bag. "Look!" she cried, pulling out a huge Horton plush toy, "a penelephant!" We took Grayson to see Horton Hears a Who way back when when it was in theaters, and Mom and Derrick actually both bought me the movie for Christmas. The one Mom bought is still here, and I could watch it except they don't have a Blu-Ray player. It's a very cute stuffed elephant. It is about three times as big as Penelope--which seems to fit with the "a person's a person, no matter how small" theme. Maybe Penelope is the Who.

She's going to be a big little Who pretty soon, though. I had Derrick call to check on her a few minutes ago, and they've increased her feedings to 15 ml. I have no idea how much normal babies eat. I'm beginning to worry that I'm not making enough milk. My goal is to make at least 15 ml per breast per time. In the morning, that's pretty easy, but in the late afternoon, my production starts to dwindle. Sometimes, I get as much as 30 ml a breast in the mornings. When Stacy showed me the kind of bags that are easier to pour from, though, she pulled out a bag totally full of milk. You're only allowed to combine milk from the same pumping, so I have no idea how that bag got filled up so high. It looked like 100 mls a breast. I don't think I can ever make that much.

I'm not sure how much she weighs. When Mom and I went to see her this morning, Suzanne didn't know her weight because the doctors still had her chart. I personally think she needs to have her light turned on again for a couple of days because her skin looks a little too dark to me. Her liver won't mature for some time, so she's going to get jaundiced periodically.

I am so tired now I can barely keep my eyes open, so I guess I'll take a nap for a while. I only got four hours of sleep last night, so I guess I need the sleep. (Although I got 2 hours and 45 minutes of sleep yesterday during my two naps.) I'm trying to figure out how to fit in more milkings.

Happy Birthday Penelope's Brother...and Penelope's Brother's Brother!

Grayson and Jackson's birthday is today. Tomorrow, they're going to Disneyworld to celebrate. When they get back, I think we're going to take Grayson to meet Penelope. Children under 18 aren't allowed in the NICU unless they're siblings. As Penelope's big brother, Grayson is allowed to come in once a week for ten minutes (I think those are the rules).

Poor Grayson still hasn't opened his Christmas presents from us yet. I feel like we haven't seen him in ten thousand years. He was very sweet when I was in labor (and didn't know it). We dropped him off at Aimee's (we thought for just a few minutes) before Derrick took me in to see the nurse practitioner. As we were getting ready to leave the house, Grayson said to me matter-of-factly, "Well, your baby maybe is going to come out." I'm sure he'd been noticing my nervous fretting all morning, despite the fact that initially I'd been trying to act normal. I replied, "Oh, I hope not right now. She's too little." He nodded.

In the car on the way to his mom's house, he did his best to distract me. I thought that was very sweet and unusually sensitive of him. He was eating Nerds in the back seat, and he kept talking about the Nerds pictured on the box and telling little jokes about them. He was very clearly trying to cheer me up. I thought it was awfully nice of him not only to be so considerate of my feelings, but to be so considerate when because of me he was going to have to have his weekend with us interrupted. I felt like such a jerk at the time because we had missed our last weekend with him because Jackson had been really sick. We hadn't seen him since early December, and he was having so much fun sitting with his daddy and playing his car video game and looking forward to opening his presents.

Mom is reminding me that my breakfast is sitting on the table getting cold, so I'll go for now!

A Few Little Hiccups

I'm waiting for the pump parts to be sterlized so I can join Derrick in bed. It amazes me that he can sleep through anything. I was just in there expressing, and he never even stirred. The pump is pretty noisy, too. Plus, the lights are on. I hope Penelope inherits his sleeping habits, not mine, but early indicators are suggesting it will go the other way.

Penelope had hiccups the last time we were up there tonight, around 9:30. I felt awfully sorry for her. One nurse--I'm pretty sure it was Corinna--told me that hiccups were a stress sign. But another nurse--I think maybe Terri--told me that little babies are not distressed by hiccups the way we are. Derrick doesn't think these statements are contradictory because just because something is a sign of stress doesn't mean that such a behavior is a cause of stress. He has a point, but I still wish I could do something when she gets hiccups.

Aside from a few little hiccups, though, she's doing well. At the rate she's going, I'm worried she'll need to be drinking milk faster than I can produce it. Of course, I have almost two shelves full in Mom's freezer now, and that should last three months. I would like to be able to nurse her when she gets older, though, so I'm trying to keep my milk production up. The lactation sheet recommends pumping 8-12 times a day. I'm doing it more like seven times a day, so I'm trying to squeeze in extra times. What usually happens is that I think I'll work in an extra time by doing it every two hours, and then like fifteen minutes before the two hours is up, I fall asleep for an hour. This keeps happening to me. I don't see how anyone could possibly do it twelve times in twenty-four hours. I mean, you'd never have time to eat or sleep. And what if you had to work (or do anything)? The thing is, to work in twelve pumpings in twenty-four hours, you'd have to pump every two hours, and pumping takes twenty minutes. Then it takes about ten minutes to clean everything. By the time you're done, you only have an hour and a half before your next pumping, but then you need to allow time to reassemble the pump and get everything set up. You'd be lucky if you had an hour break each time. Even if you weren't bipolar, I would think that would drive you crazy--never getting more than an hour of sleep at a time! And what if you had to shower or go to the bathroom?

Anyway, I'm exhausted and the parts finished sterilizing long ago. My body seems to feel I should be asleep, and I am inclined to agree with it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Scrunch, scrunch, scrunch...pat, pat, pat

That's our new game.

We went to see Penelope just before shift change. After I took her temperature and changed her diaper, Suzanne turned her over, which she did not like at all. After she calmed down a little, I got to hold her (I mean put my hand on her) and sing.

She was tucked in on her tummy with her head facing me, so I put my hand on her back. As I'd sing to her, every few seconds, she would scrunch her back up into my fingers. Scrunch, scrunch, scrunch. I'd respond by gently pressing my fingers against her back. Pat, pat, pat. She seemed to enjoy this and satted very high the whole time. I think I am beginning to understand how to hold her better, to be in tune with what she likes. It makes sense. When she was still inside, I'd pat her and talk to her a lot. During the six weeks or so before she was born, I was especially touchy and singy because I got to be at home every day. Plus, I knew her name. I made up the songs spontaneously the week of Thanksgiving, after we had the ultrasound and found out she was a little girl. I did it without thinking about it at first. I also used to read her a story every night. I'm glad I did that now because she definitely responds to the songs.

We played scrunch, scrunch, scrunch...pat, pat, pat for quite a while. She was turned so that I could only see one of her eyes. At first she had it open, but after a while, she slowly closed it. So I stealthily closed to the window by her face and stopped singing. Then slowly, I took my hand off her back and closed the other window. But as soon as I did that, her eye popped open. She looked like a cartoon crocodile or something, kind of suspicious, like, "Um, hey, I thought we were playing scrunch, scrunch, scrunch...pat, pat, pat--what happened to that?" Her face looked a little upset and she desated a little, so I put my hand back in, and then she was happier and went to sleep again. This happened a couple more times, but finally we had to leave because it was almost 6:30.

Derrick and I had dinner at the hospital Frullati. Then we came home, and it was time for me to express. We're about to go up again in a minute for our final visit of the evening. Derrick bought me some presents that were delivered to the door today. He'd already told me he was getting the book Click, Clack, Moo--in celebration of my milking skills, I guess. He also got me two more pigeon books. I first saw the book, Don't Let the Pigeon Stay up Late, in Grayson's kindergarten classroom. I really identify with that pigeon.

I forgot to mention that we talked to the nurse practitioner and the doctor. They did another echo and her PDA is still small, so she won't need surgery. (There was some concern that it would enlarge or that the chambers of her heart would enlarge, but that hasn't happened.) It's very small and doesn't seem to be causing any problems. They were saying that she's still on the vent not because of her heart but because of her lungs. They're just very immature still, which is not abnormal. They will develop. They just need time, so they're weening her off the vent, adjusting settings a little bit at a time. They may try to take her off the end of this week, or maybe next week. Dr. McCormack also told us that her brain ultrasound was normal again, so no bleeding. As long as she continues to tolerate her feeds, they will continue to increase them.

No problems getting to sleep...

In the hospital, I was so worried to take anything because I didn't want to become dependent on pain killers to get to sleep. I wouldn't let them give me the ambien, either, because sleeping pills seem sinister to me. (Sinister is probably the wrong word, but anything that directly affects your sleeping cycle makes me uneasy since I don't want to do anything to trigger mania or depression if possible.)

The point is, I worried for no reason. All I have to do is close my eyes, and I'm instantly dead asleep--any time, too, day or night. It's pretty miraculous! If I had known pregnancy/lactating had this great side effect earlier, maybe I wouldn't have needed so much psychiatric medication. (Though I'm pretty sure if my psychiatrist had recommended pregnancy as a treatment ten years ago, my parents probably would not have had much faith in his methods.)

While I was sleeping, Penelope was eating away. As soon as I woke up and expressed, I asked Derrick to call and check on her. (He's at the house feeding our cats right now. As soon as he gets back, we'll go see her again finally.) He told me that they've increased her feedings to 12 ml. That's how much milk my right breast just made. (But this is one of my lower milking times, this middle of the day time.) She's catching up with me, which is wonderful, but I may start expressing every two hours instead of every three to make sure I do keep up with her.

The Amazing Piglet

Guess what? Penelope's weight shot up to two pounds, six ounces. Suzanne told us they weighed her three times last night to make sure because it was such a big increase. We're really happy about that. It's probably because she's drinking so much milk. (Hopefully, it doesn't mean that she has liquidy lungs, but probably not because she's breathing so well.)

I wish I'd gotten to stay longer with her this morning, but Mom and Dad are in San Antonio for the day, and Derrick had a meeting at nine, so we just had to duck in and out quickly. I did get to tell her good morning. We were kind of interrupting her nap, anyway. When I told her I loved her and sang her just a little bit, she opened her eyes at me, but she quickly went to sleep again.

I think Derrick even got a couple of pictures. Suzanne seemed surprised we were going so quickly. I explained the situation, and she asked, "You're not driving yet?" "Well, I could," I explained, "but my car is in Hutto." I probably need to go and get it, though I don't know where I will park it here. Probably across the street next to the sewer drain. Nobody likes to park there. That spot is usually open.

I'm so happy Penelope is putting on weight! Her feeds are still at 10 ml, and she seems to be tolerating them, which is fantastic!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Letters for Penelope

Penelope's social security card came in the mail earlier this week. Derrick mentioned that he'd picked it up from the house, but I actually saw the envelope sitting on the dresser in our bedroom here earlier today. I'm not used to seeing mail addressed to Penelope Jane Rayburn, though I must say I really like her name. I'm glad we settled on that one. Several people have complimented us on it already. It does seem to fit her well.

We just got back from the hospital. Penelope was doing so well. I think they're going to extubate her soon, possibly even tomorrow. When we left, she was sating really high on room air. We got there just as Gladys was about to do the assessment. I took her temperature and changed her diaper. She was very mad, especially when Gladys suctioned her. You could see she was not enjoying her assessment, though even then, her oxygen needs weren't that high. Gladys told us that she's tolerating her 10 ml feedings. We're hoping we'll get to hold her soon. She's so beautiful.

After the assessment, I got to sit down and spend a little time with her. At first, she gazed at me through sleepy little eyes. Then when I started singing her song, her eyes lit up. Right away, her entire face became animated, and she started looking around. You could tell she recognized the song and was responding to it. She was less sleepy than this morning, although her eyes did cross occasionally. It is probably a combination of a) being newborn and nearsighted b) being premature c) having all of those tubes in front of her face. Those must make it hard to focus, particularly if you're too young to know exactly what you're looking for and you can't see very far anyway.

While I sang to her, we played with our fingers. Her hand and my thumb are the same size. She would wrap her fingers around my thumb, and look at her fingers and look at my thumb. I kept one hand up near her fingers and one down on her butt, which she would occasionally scrunch up. She used to "lump up" like that when I was carrying her, and that's when we would pet her and sing to her, especially me because I was always there. If we were in bed when she lumped up, though, we'd both pet her. She makes a weird scrunchy movement sometimes, and it just occurred to me recently that she's probably hoping to be touched, the way we used to touch her when she'd lump up. I've been holding her--through the holes--a lot more in these recent visits. She really seems to like it. She sats really high while I touch her and sing to her.

We finally left so she could get some sleep. I'm hoping we get to kangaroo her soon. I have mixed feelings about her being extubated. Of course, it will be a huge step forward and a really good thing, but, on the other hand, the vent does keep her breathing regularly.

We have to go in early to see her tomorrow because Mom and Dad are going to San Antonio in the day, and Derrick has a couple of meetings. My car is still in Hutto, so if I want to go, I have to go early. (Oh, and on the way out of the hospital, Derrick informed me that the Steelers won, which, of course, makes me really happy. I only watched parts of the game because I was expressing milk at the beginning and just before we left, and then, of course, I was in a huge hurry to see Penelope since we missed our afternoon visit.) She's so pretty!

Missing My Baby

I really miss Penelope right now, but we can't visit her again until after shift change. I fell asleep through my entire milking break, also through most of the NFC championship game. I have the feeling that I watched it, though that is certainly very strange since I slept for over two hours while it was on.

We stayed for her quite a while this morning before mass. Finally we left because I felt like I was keeping her from going to sleep. Her eyes were really rolling around in her head. You could tell she was tired but struggling desperately to keep her eyes open because I was singing to her, and she wanted to look at me. That makes me feel like she enjoys seeing me and wants my attention, but, of course, there's also the possiblity that I'm noisy, and she wishes I would shut up! Normally, I go at least twice during the day and once at night, but since I slept so long, I had to wake up to express right away at about 5:30. By the time I finished and cleaned the parts, it was already 6:00, and the NICU closes from 6:30-8:00 for shift change. Well, I mean, it doesn't close, but visitors are not allowed inside at that time.

I made Derrick call a couple of times, though. Once as I was just falling asleep and once just now. Both times, Terri (her nurse today) has reported that she's doing really well. She's tolerating her feedings, and, in fact, they've gone up to 10 ml of milk now. Pretty soon, I'm going to be struggling to keep up with her. I worry that my milk will dry up before we get to take her home. I pump every three hours during the day time, but since we've come home (to Mom's), I've not been pumping at night. I pump about midnight and wake up at 7:30, which is too long to go, though I've been getting 60 ml in the morning since then. I'm not sure if I should pump in the middle of the night or not. When possible, I squeeze in an extra pumping in the day by only going two hours but that hasn't happened today because of mass and lunch and my marathon nap.

In other news, today is Derrick's birthday. Mom and Dad treated us to birthday lunch at Olive Garden after mass. Of course, I had to come back here in between. Everywhere I go, I always have to rush out. That's how it feels, anyway. Mom mentioned that it was Derrick's birthday in front of the waitress, and I was so worried that they were going to sing to him. He really did not want them to. Fortunately, they didn't.

I really miss Penelope. I feel like if she struggles to keep her eyes open to look at me for as long as possible she must really enjoy my company. I want to make sure she knows how much I love her. I don't know how much she's capable of understanding. When I went for my incision check, the TV in the waiting room told us that newborns recognize their mother's voice after two weeks. Well, Penelope was two weeks old yesterday, but I could swear that she's recognized my voice long before now because she likes to look at me and listen to her song. Her oxygen saturation always goes up, and she gets very calm.

Derrick is rolling his eyes at me now because I asked if he wanted to blow out the candles and now Mom is looking for candles. (She made him a cake. It's this really hilarious cake--kind of looks like the one Fauna makes in Sleeping Beauty, the slanty one that she tries to prop up with the broom. She says, "It will be a lot stiffer after it's baked.") Mom's is baked already, but she says her oven isn't level, so the layers are all uneven. Now she is upstairs hunting for the candles. She just headed up the stairs mumbling, "I know I had some because they kept falling on me, but now I don't know where..."

When Penelope is sleepy, her eyes roll around sometimes. Derrick has a picture of them looking completely opposite directions, which I told him not to post because it makes her look like an alien. When she's more alert, her eyes are very steady. That's how I knew I should shut up and let her sleep. They're a different color than they used to be. Before, to me, they looked pale green. Now they look dark blue, still with some green. I have no idea what color they'll end up. Derrick says she might be nearsighted. It's a complication of prematurity, something that can happen if her oxygen sats are too high for too long. But everyone in our family is nearsighted anyway.

They're calling me to cake now! Mom is worried it's going to fall down before we can cut it--seriously! So I'd better go!

Pretty Little Angel Eyes

We visited Penelope again this morning and she was awake.  Her little eyes were looking around to see what was going on.  She enjoyed looking at Sarah while she sang her song.  I managed to get a nice close up of her eyes looking at Sarah while she sang.  If you look closely at her right eye, you can see a reflection of Sarah.

My pretty little angel eyes!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Our Little Lizard?

I think I've mentioned scent cloths before. A sewing group called Threads of Love donates all kinds of hats and booties and blankets to the NICU. One thing the group makes is small, thin blankets decorated with ducks or monkeys or other cute designs. I take one of these cloths and wear it next to my chest for several hours, and then they give it to Penelope. Usually, when Corinna is watching her, she puts it over the top part of her face, to cover her eyes so she can sleep. Penelope likes this--as she demonstrates by not desating as much and not trying to flip herself over and throw her head out the window or whatever she was doing yesterday afternoon.

Tonight, the little monkey blanket I dropped off for her earlier this afternoon was wrapped around her head in kind of a conical shape. (This is not as weird as my description is making it sound.) I told Derrick, "She looks like a little wizard."

He said, "I don't think so. Why do you say that?"

I replied, "I mean with her blanket wrapped around her head that way."

Derrick said, "I don't see why that makes her look like a lizard."

Tammy is her nurse tonight. She was one of the nurses who watched her on her first night. She told us that though Corinna had held the feedings during the blood transfusion, she had just fed her a bit before we arrived. Derrick asked, "Is she still able to take 6 ccs," and Tammy happily informed us they'd moved up to eight. That seems pretty positive to us. She's also been on room oxygen (20-21 percent) for several hours now. That's fantastic because a few days ago, she was needing as much as forty perecnt.

I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open, but I can't go to bed until 11:30, when I next milk. I wish I had taken a nap today! Why didn't I do it?


Last night at 11:42 Penelope was two weeks old! It's hard to believe that the time has passed so quickly. Meanwhile, while we were all thinking about Penelope, we kind of forgot that Derrick's birthday is tomorrow. And then Tuesday is Grayson's sixth birthday, and his little brother Jackson's first birthday (and I just realized while typing this that today is Jackson's dad's birthday). So we're all getting older, day by day.

Grayson was born two days after Derrick's birthday, and Penelope was supposed to be born two days after mine (April 10, April 12), but I guess she just wanted a January birthday, too. Peer pressure, I suppose. I guess this way I did manage to become a mother while I was still in my 20s.

Right now, I'm pretty exhausted. I don't have to express again for an hour, and then we'll go up and see Penelope again. She's such a pretty baby. I am so conflicted. It's hard to know what I feel. I love her so much, and I'm so proud of her, but sometimes I'm so terrified. She's stable and doing well right now, but it seems like that can change so quickly. I just want her to come home from the hospital with me, alive and healthy. I love her so much. Sitting through the movie was hard for me today. I don't know why. It's not like we can spend every minute at the hospital. I will be so happy when we get to take her home.