Sunday, July 27, 2008

Baby, Parents Survive Day

Never ones for common sense, we choose to take our young one out for her first venture on this pleasant but atypical Seattle summer day (lower 60s, partly cloudy, with the slightest hint of precipitation). The result... well I'm too beat to reach over and grab the camera to show that we're too tired to do much.

We placed Kendra into her spiffy Boppy sling and after a few failed attempts had her secured well enough to venture in and around the Crittenden Locks for a bit. This year's salmon runs have been at near record levels, and that means there are lots of yummy fish to observe in the adjoining fish ladder! I did feel a bit like a bear waiting for the fish to leap into my ready and open arms while staring at these delectable creatures. Kendra seemed thoroughly unimpressed from the bottom of the sling, but Karen and my mom seemed to enjoy it. This was followed by a trip past the locks to observe the nice large boats out for a sputter. Neither Karen nor Kendra headed my requests to hijack one of them, an oversight we will likely regret for some time.

On to Red Mill for a bite and now... sitting.

In short: we did things, and we're home. I'm proud that we took some effort to do something that we enjoyed that was mildly active and that we got to include the baby in the experience, but that leads to my most surprising observation. We didn't do all that much, so why are we so damned tired from it?

Friday, July 25, 2008

She's Home!

Baby Girl has been sprung from babyjail! We brought the car seat to the hospital last night for a car seat check (they make sure little babies can breathe ok in their seats), and the nurse told us we could take her home.

We survived our first night as full time parents. Of course, I jump every time there is a squeak from the monitor, but she's doing great.

More to come soon as we work on figuring this whole parent thing out.

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's The Little Things

Our lives have fallen into a weird routine of home/work(for Dan)/hospital. We spend several hours a day being with our girl, or running back and forth to the hospital. It's not easy, and we're trying to find a balance. Mostly we just want her home, but we're looking at another few weeks.

We celebrate the little things -

  • Kendra taking four full feedings during a day (she needs to get to 8 before they will consider letting her come home)
  • Learning her facial expressions - and she has a bunch
  • Spending time with Dan somewhere that's not home or hospital
  • Fitting into my own underwear
Yes - I am finally done with the ugly, scratchy disposable underwear the hospital provides. After a c-section you want nothing anywhere near your incision, and you are so swollen that nothing you own is coming near you- so their stuff fits the bill.

I can also get into my jeans again!! But, they are just a little too tight to be comfortable at this point. I'll stick with loose fitting stuff or maternity pants for a bit longer. I have lost everything I gained while pregnant, plus a few extra pounds. Easiest diet every - get sick, sleep and loose weight.

Dan's mom arrives tonight to stay for 10 days. We were so hopeful that Kendra would be home by now, but she's just not ready. She tires out too easily while eating and can't finish her bottles. Until she no longer needs to be tube fed, she has to stay in baby jail.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Club Med - Again

Turns out I didn't really overdo things last Friday - I was getting sick. By Sunday night I was running a 101 degree fever and Dan and I became familiar with the ER here at Swedish.

I was put through a series of tests in the hopes it was a simple problem, but it turned out to be the toughest one to treat - a uterine infection. My temp went up to 102 and I was admitted to the hospital around 3am Monday morning. I've been on IV antibiotics ever since.

I feel considerably better today than I have in the past week though. The pain is finally getting better - not worse. Having never gone through this, I had no idea what was "normal" for the healing process. Apparently the infection had been setting in for a couple of days, but until I spiked a fever I didn't recognize the symptoms.

I have one more round of antibiotics this afternoon, then they'll let me go home. Of course I haven't been able to see Kendra since Saturday morning (first the pain was too bad, and they won't let you on the floor if you are sick). I'm hoping they'll let me see her today before we leave.

Swedish is a great hospital, but I sure hope I don't have to see it again for a long time.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Freedom From IVs

Kendra made one more milestone...her IV has been removed. Her only nutrition is now breast milk. They also moved her into a crib yesterday. She's doing great at regulating her body temperature. Such an amazing little girl :)

According to her nurses she is so sweet natured and well behaved - she never cries unless she wants something. She does these adorable smiles as well- maybe they're gas, but I'll take them!

This is movie weekend for Dan. He signed up for the 48 film contest several months ago, of course not knowing we'd have our baby girl by now. We were up early this morning to see her before he got involved in taping. We'll try to make it back tonight as well.

My stitches came out this morning - they were actually Steristrips and not stitches. I can't even see the scar! It's amazing, except for the pain. I don't know if the stitches coming out are the reason, but I am in so much pain today I can barely move. It's worse than it has been in a while. I skipped out on any movie stuff and slept most of the afternoon.

The adorable outfit Kendra is modeling is a gift from my neighbors in St. Louis. It looked so tiny I was sure it would never fit. Surprise, surprise - it's a little big. She looks so adorable in it, though. It's perfect for preemies - open at the bottom for all the wires and tubes to come out (although she's down to a minimum). The way it snaps onto her is wonderful too - it wraps around her instead of going over her head since little heads are awfully wobbly.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

First Postpartum Visit

I had my first postpartum visit to the doc today. I've lost 20 pounds so far (not bad for 9 days)! I'm starting to feel like myself, and my clothes (the smaller maternity tops anyway) fit again. I'll be in maternity pants for a while yet - my abdomen is swollen from the surgery and extremely tender. Regular pants are simply too tight in the waist. The maternity shirts are much more convenient for nursing because of the way they are cut, so I'll wear those until I get the whole thing figured out.

My blood pressure is on the high end of normal, and that's with taking meds 2x per day. They won't make any changes until I'm 6 weeks postpartum though, as this could all still be pregnancy related. My internal thermostat is out of whack from hormones, so I'm hot all the time. Good thing we live in the PacNW or I'd be dying! I also had to get a refill on pain meds. Without them I can barely walk, and heaven help me if I cough or laugh. I'd rather die than sneeze right now.

Anyone contemplating a baby - pray for a vaginal birth. This whole c-section thing sucks. Our bodies weren't designed for it.

Kendra, however, is doing fabulous. She sleeps most of the time. That's great in some ways - brain growth occurs during sleep, she's healing and growing as she sleeps, and she's just now 35 weeks gestation so sleep is what she would be doing in the womb. The downside is we can't even keep her awake long enough to try to feed her. She simply curls up like a kitten and goes to sleep in your arms. We tried nursing last night, and she did better than expected, until she fell asleep. We just let her snuggle skin to skin and Dan fed her through her tube.

She officially weighs 4 pounds, 3 ounces now so she's packing some weight on. You go baby girl!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

First Graduation

Kendra graduated from the NICU to the SICU last night! She was moved to the step down unit shortly before we arrived - they hadn't even had time to call and let us know.

We went through her evening routine, but the move proved to be exhausting to her and she zonked out in my arms. She even slept when I handed her off to Dan, and later when he put her back in her isolette. Tired baby.

We'll talk to the nurse more tonight. She hadn't had time to review Kendra's chart so she didn't know much more than we did last night.

One more hurdle cleared!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Happy One Week Birthday!

Kendra is officially one week old today! I can't believe it's been a week already - she's made such amazing progress.

There is a rumor among the nursing staff that she will be released to the step down unit (SICU) sometime this week. That is a huge step for preemie babies.

She continues to gain weight, and the nurses have nothing but positive things to say about her development. I'm still a tad under the weather, so I didn't go see her last night. I may tonight if I continue to feel pretty good. It's hard to say if it's a cold or simply my body's reaction to all the trama and stress of the past two weeks.

Dan says I'm starting to look like myself again - neither of us had fully realized how bad the swelling had become. Now that it is going down I look like Karen again. I really didn't recognize myself in the mirror at the hospital. My feet and ankles still look like they are more befitting an elephant than me, but hopefully they will go back to normal as I continue to heal.

Keep the prayers and positive thoughts heading our way - they are obviously working!

Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm Home

I'm home! I was released from the hospital Friday evening (7/4) and went home and slept for the next 24 hours. I stayed awake on Saturday long enough to go to the hospital twice, then out for a quick sushi dinner.

The great outdoorsman from St. Louis had been staying with us, although I rarely saw him. We did dinner together before he and his buddy headed out to the San Juan islands for some rest and relaxation in the great outdoors.

Kendra is doing fabulously! She's put on a some weight, and is almost back up to her birthweight. She's been off the C-PAP and all oxygen support since Friday. She was moved to an isolette yesterday, so she no longer has the gold heart temperature monitor. Basically she has monitors for heart rate, oxygen, and respiration. She has a PIC line in her thigh that helps deliver IV nutrition - vitamins, fats and minerals - that preemie's need. The tube in her nose runs directly to her tummy and she receives breastmilk via that or the bottle. She was slightly jaundiced, so she's been on phototherapy for the past three days as well.

Dan and I have both been able to bottle feed her a couple of times. It's such a wonderful feeling to hold her close. Kendra loves to be swaddled up and cuddled close, but because of the phototherapy we've been limited in the amount of time that's allowed. She needs as much time under the lights as possible.

This is her isolette. They allow the babies to sleep more deeply and therefore heal more quickly. Hospitals are noisy, especially in the NICU where it seems there is always something beeping for attention, or a baby crying. The isolettes allow for sound to be blocked, and can be covered to allow for a darker environment - hence better sleep. My little diva - sleeping under the sunlamps with her eye mask. :)

Yesterday they let me try to breastfeed her - more for psychological pleasure for both of us than any expectation that she'd actually be fed :) Dan actually fed her directly into her tummy tube while she nuzzled with me. The idea is she starts to equate mom to a full belly - the start of the breastfeeding process.

We're extremely happy with the progress she's made. She still has a way to go, but our little girl is strong and fiesty. The nurses laugh at just how much personality is crammed into that not-quite-four pound body.

Dan and his baby girl - he is such a proud father. I couldn't ask for a better dad or husband.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Karen says that I should just go to bed instead of posting stuff (or assembling the stroller that we can't use for a few weeks), but I really can't wait for this moment:

We would like to proudly introduce you to Kendra Jeanette Pinkard! She's got her mother's beautiful blue eyes and nose but the rest is the kind of thing that makes a father both proud and apologetic. The coloration on her head is from her breathing system, which she'll likely be on for another 2-3 weeks. She has a full head of wavy thin hair the same color as mine. Of course all three of those things are subject to change. The tube in her mouth is for removing oxygen from her belly, and the gold heart is to measure her skin temperature from the heat lamp above. There are also sensors for oxygen in the blood, and heart rate, as well as an IV and a tiny little blood-pressure cuff. I can't help but to gasp at those tiny elegant little fingers grasping onto her mother's finger.

I really didn't want this to be the image that introduced her to all of you, but it brought (brings) such joy to my eyes (and tears) that I can't help but to share it. This was the first time Mom and Daughter got to meet each other outside of the OR. Sometimes we just don't take a moment to marvel at the power and wonder of life, but there it is at its very best. Hug someone, 'k?

Sorry about the wet mouse, Karen. I'll dry that off later.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A very special person...

It was my privilege to meet a very special lady today who has her work cut out for her. Our daughter was welcomed into the world at 12:05 PM, at 3lbs and 13oz (let's say 4lbs), and 16.something inches from stem to stern. She is strong and despite her curtailed gestation screamed so very loudly at her forced evacuation. Once the trauma had subsided Karen was moved to temporary recovery and on to her own room in the maternity ward. Our baby is in the NICU where she will remain for a few weeks attached to more things than a borg, but she's doing great.

Karen hasn't gotten to spend time with her tonight and we haven't had a moment to choose a name, but hopefully we can resolve that in the morning. Just know that we've appreciated all of the thoughts and calls and emails. By tomorrow night Karen should be able to respond and return calls, and she'll probably get to go home Friday or Saturday to critique my vacuuming lethargy. The grandparents are beside themselves or in denial, depending on which phone call you base it on.

Karen is in room 485 in 4 South, at the Swedish Medical Center at First Hill. She has her phone (and charger) but only so many minutes to go around. She still needs some rest, but will enjoy chatting with each of you as she can. Visits will be welcomed, and we can take one person in to NICU at a time.

Swedish Medical Center
747 Broadway
Seattle WA 98122-4307
Main, 206-386-6000

(We'll get our own pic up soon)