Sunday, August 31, 2008

"This ought to be interesting. . ."

We are all loving Claire! She's such a sweet little baby, and never hardly makes a fuss. . .so far! The girls are great with her, and are lots of "help"! She is still on oxygen, but is growing and doing well. At 3 weeks, she weighed in at 8 lb. 1 oz, so she's looking a little rounder! We've done two oxygen tests so far, one each week, and hasn't passed either of them. We'll try again in two more weeks. Dr. Brown tells us as she gets stronger, the air sacks in her lungs will heal, and she'll be able to do it on her own. Courtney's thinking about getting her on a push-up/ running regimen to work her out a little and get her pumped up for the next trial! Funny story. . . Nursing around your other children always makes for a fun conversation. When we first got home from the hospital, Kate came in to the bedroom just as I was getting ready to nurse Claire. She watched for a little while, and then asked what I was doing. I explained a bit about how nursing works, and then told her that is how I feed Claire. She looked at me with that cute look, and said in her matter-of-fact tone, "Well, this ought to be interesting." She followed that up a minute later with, "You're probably not going to want to do that when I have a friend around." A week later, when I had to go back into the hospital, Grandma C was explaining to the girls a bit about the situation, and that I would be staying at the hospital again for a few days. The girls were of course, concerned about who would be feeding Claire. Grandma explained that she would be feeding her (not thinking to clarify that she would be bottle feeding.) Kate gave her a look and then said, "Oh great. So now you're going to feed her out of your chest?"

Back in the Saddle. . .

It's hard to believe that summer is over and the girls are back in school. August was so crazy, it seemed that we lost one month of summer! It was hard for me to send them back. Ryenne is starting 3rd grade. What happened to the last 8 years? Kate is in the big leagues this year too, and will be gone for a full day for the 1st grade. Emmy & I will definitely miss their company, but as always, I know that the year will bring fun opportunities and growth for each of them. Sometimes it's a little hard to let go. . .
What cute school girls!
Ryenne's all set (and a little nervous) while she waits for school to start. She's excited to have Mr. Vincent for her teacher this year.
Kate has a new teacher, Mrs. Dunham, who just moved here. Kate was excited to announce that she moved here "all the way from California just to teach me in 1st grade!" She loves her already.

August Birthday Fun

August is a big birthday month in our family. Claire, Emmy, mine, and Courtney's! This year, three of the four of us celebrated our birthdays at the hospital. (We sure know how to celebrate!) Actually, Courtney almost celebrated his at the hospital too, because I ended up back in the hospital with pneumonia and pleurisy a few days prior to his birthday. What a month it's been! Here are few peeks back at our birthday celebrations. . .
Courtney did a fantastic job making sure Emmy had a great birthday. He took the girls to the Logan outdoor swimming pool for a fun afternoon. After they were done swimming, they came to the hospital to see me, where we ate Olive Garden take-out, watched a movie, and ate donuts to celebrate her big day. She loved it!

I was pretty impressed with Courtney's organizational skills.

The girls arrived at the hospital, each with their own bag filled with pajamas and robes, which they changed into following a quick shower. He had bought the birthday presents, wrapped them, and even had dinner and dessert taken care of. What a guy!

The best part of the day was that the girls got to see Claire for the first time. We were able to have her brought to the NICU window so they could get a peek at her. Emmy had been telling everyone that she would be able to see Claire for her birthday, and we were a little worried if that would work out. Luckily, it worked out that they were able to get a birthday peek after all. Claire cooperated marvelously, and was so alert and wide-eyed. The girls thought it was great! She kept waving her arms around, and they were so impressed that she already knew how to wave and hold up four fingers to show how old Emmy was! What a gal!Dad hit the jackpot with Emmy's presents. . .a "Big Sister" shirt, a little Disney princess portable cd player, and a Little Pet Shop. She was pretty happy!Emmy loved the puzzles and "school clothes" Grandma C and Bop gave her! She can't wait to wear them to Joy School! Emmy is actually quite proud of her birthday celebration. She told us proudly the other day that she's the only one of the girls that got to celebrate her birthday in the hospital! She loved the clothes Grandma & Grandpa J gave her, especially this shirt, which says, "My Dad Rocks!" (Dad thinks it's pretty cool too!) She couldn't have been happier with the purse Aunt Haylee gave her, complete with sunglasses and lipgloss. She thinks it's pretty sassy! Courtney came to the hospital for my birthday, bearing flowers and cards from the girls. He kidnapped me for a night out to dinner, which was a nice break from the hospital scene. We came back to the hospital to see Claire and watched the Olympics together for a bit.

Unfortunately, Courtney's birthday was pretty lame. I was fresh out of the hospital and still not feeling well. For dinner, we ate a meal a neighbor had brought. He didn't even get a birthday cake. The girls were so excited to give him the "Patriots" blanket they had made from some material they had spied earlier in the summer.

Luckily for us, he's pretty happy just spending the night with his girls. He told me that all he wanted is for Claire and I to get feeling better. I sure love this guy. . .He has been a trooper this past month. I don't know what I would have done without him.

He's spent countless hours taking care of all of us, being the mom and the Dad. He was determined to keep things as normal as possible for the girls. The girls had a ball playing with him, and learned to be quite the card sharks!

The night I went back into the hospital, he spent the night at home with Claire, feeding her every few hours with a bottle. He used the smallest nipple he could find so she'd have an easier time adjusting to nursing. After the long night, he was still up and back to the hospital, Claire in tow, by 9:00 am the next morning to be with me. Needless to say, I appreciate and love him so much! I owe him a celebration!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Girly Girls

Keeping with tradition, a day or two before Claire was born, I took the girls to lunch and to the beauty school to get pedicures and manicures. It was a fun afternoon, and the girls thought it was pretty nice to be pampered! They loved the foot baths and choosing their own nail colors (which turned out to be VERY colorful!). There's just nothing quite like a girls day out!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Miss Claire Comes Home!

We are so glad to come home and be a family! After a week of slow progress, the Dr. told me Wednesday morning that I should probably forget his earlier prediction of sending us home toward the end of this week. He laid out a checklist of things Claire needed to accomplish in order for her to get to come home, which he followed by saying, "This would take a miracle. You should probably forget what I said. She is pretty fragile and is showing us she just needs a little more time."
The NICU nurses had been commenting for days at how they were getting hesitant to make predictions with Claire, because when she heard them she did just the opposite just to show them who was in charge. Well, true to form, Claire got to work and made a complete turnaround within 24 hours. She checked everything off Dr. Brown's list: increase her urinary output, put on a little bit of weight, decrease her oxygen level, and lower her bilirubin. We were ecstatic when Dr. Brown gave us the go ahead Thursday to try a day at home and see how she handled it. We and the nurses had to laugh when they started taking off all of her oxygen/heart rate monitors. With each tube and wire that came off, Claire looked a little more pleased with herself. By the time they strapped her into her carseat for one last oxygen test, she looked pleased as punch with herself! I think she knew she was finally going home!

We arrived home Thursday evening. The girls were so happy to have her home. We returned to see Dr. Brown on Friday and are happy to announce Claire passed her check-up with flying colors. She lowered her bilirubin once again and gained an ounce and 1/2. YEAH! She is still on oxygen, but is doing really well. We are so happy to all be together again.

Here's a look back at our very long week: Mom & Dad got to hold Claire for the first time when she was 3 days old. Even though it was only for a few minutes, it made a huge difference for us. It took us a few days to officially give Claire a name. I wasn't really able to see her for the first few days, and so I wanted to be able to really look at her before we named her. When we finally told the nurses that we had chosen a name, they were so excited. When we came to see her a few hours later, they had made little name tags and placed them all over her room. Every machine and monitor had a cute little tag with Claire's name on it! The NICU nurses were incredible. Because of her first scary days, Claire didn't have her first bath until she was 4 days old. I was so excited to be able to help!
Claire had her own nurse most of the week. They were wonderful and made our week so much easier by explaining everything so well. This is Mike, our favorite NICU nurse who was with her most of the week. He was also part of the team who helped keep her alive those first 4-5 hours. He had a great way of explaining things to me so I could understand what was happening. One day when I was so discouraged at how slowly things seemed to be progressing, I asked Mike and Dr. Brown if I should be worried or if I just needed to be patient. Dr. Brown, Claire's incredible pediatrician kindly explained, "Just a few days ago, we had to resuscitate Claire 3 different times. I was really wondering if I'd have to life flight her to Salt Lake in order for her to get better. Now I'm looking at how I can get her home. We just need to give her a little time." Mike then smiled at me and said, "It's a little like watching the grass grow. You can go outside and watch it, but you can't really see it grow. But when Saturday comes, you still have to mow it." Every time I was having a hard time being patient or feeling discouraged, I thought of Mike's analogy.

Keeping with tradition, Courtney went out and bought Claire a going home outfit. She looked pretty darn cute!
We feel so blessed to have Claire. We've seen so many little miracles this past week, and are so thankful. We already can't imagine life without her.