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Nearly half a million babies (1 in 10) are born premature in the US each year which is higher than that of most other developed nations. This is the journeys of our first born son, Finnegan, who was born 14 weeks early and weighed only 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. Of our daugher, Korrigan, who was born a healthy 7 pounds, 7 ounces at 37 weeks. And of our second son, MacKeegan, who was also born at 37 weeks at a whopping 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Our continued adventures reminds us daily how good God is.

Saturday, January 31

January 31

Sorry, I'm out of title names so I just used the date. Lame I know but I'm only allotted so much creativity per month - this being the last day of the month and all my allotted creativity has expired. On the plus side though, I should get my new allotment beginning tomorrow.

Finn's doctor called this morning with her regular daily update. By the way, the physician who has been attending Finn most of the time is one of the top 600 physicians in the Twin Cities according to Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine. She stated that "Finn looks great and is doing very well." She has ordered that one out of every four hours that Finn be placed on the high flow cannula and taken off of the CPAP. The high flow is only flowing oxygen without a machine to assist breathing. This is obviously a great sign of progression. Additionally, he is now consuming enough milk that they are taking him off of the IV providing supplemental nutrients.

Stacy is having one of her baby showers right now. After those festivities, I may see if I can hold Finn. I was planning to yesterday but had a late day at the office and a long drive home after the freeway was blocked by an accident. In any case, I wasn't able to make it to the hospital so I'm hoping I can do that today.

That's all for now - if I hold Finn hopefully I can get some pictures or video posted. I'm going to go back to work now. Last day of the month also means a long day of working!

Thursday, January 29

Hold My Hand

I'll keep it short and simple. Finn continues to do well. I'll let the pictures speak for this post though. That's him holding my hand. When he heard noises or it got brighter he held on tighter. He's the most precious thing ever.

A little progress

Well, Finn just wanted to make my earlier post obsolete, I guess. I talked with the doctor when I got to the hospital this morning and she decided to move Finn to the CPAP! Yeah. They were able to do that right away and so far, he is tolerating it very well with his oxygen only in the 20's most of the time. When he was on the SiPAP, he wasn't able to exhale very well and the doctor was getting concerned with his carbon dioxide levels. So, this is really a good thing. I know it is baby steps, but at least it is steps!

He is currently getting 3.5 ml/hr of breast milk. That is increased every 8 hour by 0.3 ml. Eventually he will be completely on breast milk (he is still getting fluids and nutrients via IV) with a little protein and calories added (all preemies need this). Like I said, he is a great eater. He now weighs 2 lbs 7 oz. I'm sure is weight gain is because of all the breast milk he is getting. At least it makes me feel like there is a purpose to all the puming I'm doing.

Overall, I'd say he is having a great day. He was awake for a lot of the time I was there today. I love seeing his huge eyes and feel like I interact with him a little more. Here is a picture of him today (with a little blanket on and a pacifier!).

Holding and pooping

Sorry for not posting yesterday. It was a busy day.

It was a good day...I got to hold Finn for over an hour! Here is a picture (hopefully one day, holding Finn won't be a reason for a photo opportunity because it will happen so regularly!). There are a few more on the picture website, too.Finn is still on the SiPAP, but doing well. They aren't decreasing his rate (when they do, he can be switched back to CPAP), but they aren't needing to increase his oxygen, either. At least he isn't getting exhausted from breathing this way. Patience mommy, patience!

I was able to do his Noon cares yesterday (I usually get up there just after them!). I changed his diaper and there was just a little poopy in there. Then the nurse had to do her thing with the diaper undone. By the time she was done, Finn had pooped! Typical kid...wants to dirty an extra diaper! I didn't mind. He has been pooping and peeing regularly without any aids (diuretics or supositories). Yeah! Sorry for the gory details, but it is a big deal in the life of a kid (especially a preemie)!!

Tuesday, January 27

Not better, not worse

Not much new today (but don't worry, I'll find something to talk about!). I spoke with the doctor this morning and she basically said Finn hadn't improved but wasn't worse either. Good news, I guess?!?! They took his Art line out of his foot today. One less tube/wire. One down, about 50 to go! Ha, ha. They also took him off the antibiotics, as his tests and cultures came back fine.

When I was there this afternoon, his nurse said that Finn hadn't had any spells for her all day. I thought that was really good news. He was in the low 30's for oxygen most of the time I was there today. Again, good news. He was swinging a lot on his oxygen saturation levels, but his nurse wasn't too concerned (other than having to come over and keep adjusting his oxygen!). If he continues over night like he is, we should be able to hold him tomorrow! It has been a week and a half. He was awake on and off almost the whole time I was there. I loved that. I don't get to see his huge eyes very often. Of course, I didn't bring my camera today to capture it for all of you. Sorry!

Oh, and our baby weighs 2 lbs 5 oz! It seemed he had gained some weight over the last week, but we weren't sure if it was weight or fluid. He doesn't seem to have any extra fluid right now, so I feel comfortable mentioning his weight. 2 lbs 5 oz seems so big! Maybe it is partly due to the fact that he is up to 2.4 ml/hr of my milk (increasing 0.2 every 12 hours). He is a good eater (I would expect nothing less from my son!). I'm pumping so much now that they asked me to not combine it into one bottle any more. Yikes! I'm going to go through bottles like crazy. I'd rather have too much milk than not enough, so I'm definitely NOT complaining.

On a personal note, our refrigerator is dying. It isn't dead yet, but almost. A service man came to look at it yesterday and said it was the compressor (which costs $500 to replace) and it was only working at about 40%. Boo, hoo. That means another unplanned large expense. But on the bright side, we can buy a bigger fridge! Ours is a little small for three adults, one child and Finn's milk bottles! Jim is taking lead on this search, so I'm just along for the ride...and to pay the bill (and keep him from spending $3,000)!

Monday, January 26

Breathing is tougher than you think

After my visit today, I wasn't nearly as optimistic as I was after talking to the doctor this morning. Finn had several spells for his nurse this morning and was up in the 50's for oxygen when I got there. I talked with his doctor again and she really doesn't seem too concerned. I guess as his mom, I just am concerned for him, as I should be. He didn't have a spell while I was there and seemed fairly rested and calm. I guess at this point, I just don't know what to think.

Hey, Carny. When do we get off this roller coaster ride?

I was able to look at his scar from surgery and it looks fabulous. I wanted to take a picture last night, but my camera battery was dead (oops!). I guess that is what happens when you leave it plugged into the computer for too long. No bandage, no stitches, no tape. He is a fast little healer.

Here is a picture I took today with of Finn with the SiPAP on. Looks like a repeat pose of "I can't hear you."
Oh, I am still trying to figure out the video camera. It is actually plugged in to the computer now. I just need to install the software that came with it and we should be in business.

Just a lazy Sunday?

I've always seen "those" parents who can't go out to dinner without calling to make sure their child is okay and thought how pathetic it is. Well, I now understand. Around 10pm last night, I had to call Finn's nurse to check in and see how he was doing. I just did not feel good about his situation when we left the hospital earlier. I guess I've become one of "those" parents!

I talked to Finn's nurse (Lisa, whom we really like) and she told me he was much improved. In fact, when she did his 8pm cares, he got mad at her, which was a huge improvement from earlier. She said that the cultures hadn't come back yet, but she was not concerned about him, or at least any more than normal. So I got to go to bed reassured, if nothing else. I was holding out complete judgment until I talked to his doctor this morning.

Which I did a little while ago! She said that based on his test results so far, everything seemed normal. She is going to leave him on antibiotics for another 24 hours because if something were going to show up in his cultures, they would within 48 hours. She explained that it could have been from him being extubated. When the lungs are used to being pushed open and closed via the ventilator, they can collapse when put back on CPAP. If that is the case, he would have been working really hard to breathe and still not getting a lot of oxygen for his efforts. Anyway, the SIPAP seems to have helped him a lot, as he was in the 60's when we were there last night and she said he has been in the 30's all day so far.

So, while she is going to keep a watchful eye on our little munchkin, he seems to have recovered from whatever ailed him yesterday. Renae and I will be going up to see him in a little while. You know, a mom has to make sure with her own eyes before she is completely reassured! Hopefully he is back to his normal, wiggly self. After all, isn't that what Sundays are for? Having a lazy day?!?! We'll just be sure not to tell him when next Sunday comes around then!

Sunday, January 25

Up and Down, Up and Down

We've been told from the beginning that there would be good days and bad days; two steps forward and one step back. It is true and it is frustrating. Like Stacy says she almost fears the good days because you know that there has to be a bad day. Yesterday was good and today was bad.

That being said, I don't want to be an alarmist because all things considered he's still truckin' along OK. Unfortunately though when the doctor called us this morning she said that she is concerned that Finn may have an infection. His actions and reactions are lethargic; when the doctor raised his arm it just fell back by his side which isn't normal and when they drew blood he didn't react at all to the needle. Additionally they escalated his breathing assistance from a CPAP to a SIPAP. They are virtually the same however the SIPAP forces him to breath more so than the CPAP does - it is more active and the CPAP is more passive.

They sent out blood and urine samples to be cultured which can take some time - probably around 48 hours. They did start him on antibiotics this morning as a preemptive measure just incase he indeed does have an infection.

We visited him this afternoon and I read two more chapters of Huckleberry Finn to him while Stacy endured another round of pumping. He was very stable while I was doing this. I guess that I'm not the only one who likes the sound of my voice!

I asked the nurse if it isn't an infection what else might be affecting him. She took the opportunity to remind us that his gestational age is still only 28 1/2 weeks - putting that into perspective always helps. Think about what he would be doing in the womb versus what he's expected to do now. Like I said all things considered...

As soon as we know more we'll of course let you all know. Until then here's hoping he's just having a lazy day and or will quickly fight off whatever is ailing him - he's shown that he has quite the apptitude for doing so and I remain faithful that this will be no exception!

Saturday, January 24

Is Finn a little rascal?

YES!

I just talked with Finn's doctor. More good news! They are extubating him within the hour, which means he will be off the ventilator and back on the CPAP! His levels were at 14 (remember, Jim said they had to be at 15 or lower) and his oxygen levels were in the low 30's, which is fairly good. They considered putting him directly on the high-flow nasal cannula, but thought a transition with the CPAP would be better for Finn (guess we can't get too greedy!).

The doctor said his fluid levels are good as well. He wet through his diaper over night and had to have all of his bedding changed! What a good boy. And she will be increasing his feeding levels during the day today, since he is tolerating the breast milk so well.

All good news! His doctor also said he was "spunky" today, which means he is back to his little rascal self! We are headed up to the hospital this afternoon (I have to pump first of course!). We will update if anything changes. I took this picture yesterday (1/23). Shows what a little rascal he is...I titled it "I can't hear you!" (there are more new pictures on our picture website, link on the right)
Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments (and emails). They keep us going!

Friday, January 23

A boring day is a good day

Now for my boring post (hard to follow Jim!). Finn had a marvelous day. He officially weighs 2 pounds, 1 ounce (but could still lose a little weight from fluid retention). Yeah, we have a 2 pound baby!

He started feeding this morning. They are starting him out at 1 ml per hour and will increase that amount as he is able to tolerate it. Thankfully, he is consuming my milk again, because Jim wasn't exaggerating about all the milk in the freezer (and Finn's bin at the NICU is full, too!). I asked his nurse today and they said we can attempt breastfeeding with Finn around 34 weeks...that means at least 6 more weeks of pumping. Yeah?!?!

Finn's nurse thinks that he could be off the ventilator tomorrow or Sunday (if things continue as they have been). Then he will go on the CPAP again. The one thing I like about the ventilator is that Finn can't have any breathing spells while on it (because it breaths for him!). Oh, well...thinking positive thoughts!

Finn is officially off painkillers and sedatives from surgery. He didn't have any today and was resting comfortably all day. He tried to wake up a few times when we were there, but only last a few moments. He needs lots beauty...err...growing sleep! Ha, ha.

Jim and I went out to dinner tonight for the first time in a LONG time. It felt good to have some time with just the two of us. Plus, we went to Red Lobster, which I've been craving. Yum. Now we are both stuffed. And I found out they can make a nonalcoholic Sunset Passion Colada...how did I not know about this when I was pregnant?!?!

Thursday, January 22

An Incubator Costs What?

Here's your random fact of the day. The incubators used for babies in the NICU cost $100,000 (give or take a Kia or two) for the hospital to purchase. Think about it though, it's got a cool blue light for the babies to tan in, they keep it humid like a Minnesota summer and warm as any day in Aruba plus it's got a built in scale. My favorite part though is that you can put the "shields" up when you use the hand holes to get to the baby. The shield circulates air so that even with the holes open the incubator temp doesn't change. Not to mention that as the babies grow the top moves up and it becomes a mini crib with the same functions. Wow!

You learn a lot of important things at the NICU - things you never thought you'd have to learn - but you learn some pretty unusual things like this too. Now for Finn news.

He continues to progress since the surgery. He's been on a diuretic which has helped to get some fluid build up out. In fact, his diaper was the heaviest the nurse attending to him had ever seen (76 grams). He also wanted the fluid out of him so badly he took his first opportunity to pee on mommy. I hear that her reaction time was good though and got him covered up before he could do too much damage.

We're hoping that the feedings will begin (again) tomorrow. I really hope so because our freezer is practically bursting at the seams with milk for Finn. I'll have to be sure to thank Granny for the freezer. Make sure that the next person who talks to her lets her know that she did her part to help!!

The blood gas levels are getting better after the surgery. I'm not entirely sure what that means but anytime they say something is getting better I'm happy.

If the levels of the ventilator pressure continue to be turned down he can hopefully get back onto the CPAP. Right now his levels are at 19 and he needs to get to a 15 or less. Clearly the golf method of scoring as opposed to the football method - lower is better.

Finn had the hiccups today. It was pretty odd. The funny part is you could see it on the respiratory monitor and it had a pattern to it. One sequence of three normal breaths, hiccup; followed by three sequences of two normal breaths, hiccup. That went on for about 15 minutes or so and then I scared him by telling him who the president is which promptly cured his hiccups. Sorry Nana and Papa and Sasha and whoever else that offended. It's a JOKE! Not a true story and I'll let him figure out his politics on his own (also a joke). =)

So far so good. Hopefully we'll be back to kangaroo care in no time!!

Wednesday, January 21

One day post-op

Again today, Finn was pretty relaxed and slept most of the day. I don't think he is sedated but he is still on painkillers to keep him calm. They were concerned with an air pocket in his chest. The doctor explained it to me this morning that it was from opening him up during surgery. They had to be sure that was where the air came from and that it wasn't a sign of something wrong with the lungs. They did a few x-rays yesterday and this morning and the doctor is not concerned about it at this point. The air should be reabsorbed by his body. He has another x-ray for 3am tonight to check on the progress.

They are hoping to restart his feedings tomorrow already! That is good news. They said he will "tell" them when he can go off the ventilator, hopefully in a day or two. They gave him a diuretic today to help reduce his swelling. Things are progressing, just more slowly than mommy would like!

Tuesday, January 20

Finn's surgery

Jim and I were able to get a decent (much needed) nap in this afternoon. We headed back up to the hospital around 4:30. Finn is still sedated and on pain killers, so he was relaxed and sleeping. Overall, he did great and continues to do great.

They were able to tie the vessel off instead of clamping, which I believe is the preferred method. They did not need to put a chest tube in, which is a sign of how well Finn did. He did need a blood transfusion during surgery and another when we were up there tonight, but that is to be expected with little guys like him.

We don't have a lot more information than that. They will continue to monitor him closely for 24 hours after surgery, then start taking him off the medications and potentially starting his feedings again. He looks really good and tried opening his eyes for mommy and daddy a few times (but he was so tired, it didn't last!). He just wanted us to know that he knew we were there. What a thoughtful little munchkin.

I'm headed back up to the hospital tonight with my dad, Becky and Austin. Jim has to run a few errands. Then Jim is headed back to work tomorrow and hopefully things will get back to the schedule we had established last week (minus all of my babysitters!).

Thank you to everybody who said an extra prayer today. So far, the outcome is as good as I dared hope. Here's hoping for an uneventful night as well!

Out of Surgery

This will be brief as Stacy and I just got home from the hospital and are heading up for a nap, but I wanted to confirm for everyone that Finn made it successfully out of surgery at about 9:15. He went back up to the NICU at that time and is still there, in stable condition, recovering now. I hope that one of us will have the energy and time to post an additional update today with more information but if not we will do so tomorrow.

Monday, January 19

Plan for tomorrow

Jim and I plan on being at the hospital by 6:45am on Tuesday to meet with Finn's surgeon and anesthesiologist (and sign the release for his surgery). Surgery will take less than an hour, but with prep and recovery time, it will take about an hour. I'm hoping that Finn will be back in his "room" in the NICU by around 9am. He will be sedated for most of tomorrow to keep him calm and rested.

Unfortunately, we are unable to log onto our blog at Children's, so we will probably not be able to post a timely update tomorrow. I'm saying this so you aren't alarmed if you don't hear anything from us until later in the day. As always, our cell phones will be off while we are at the hospital (Jim will try to check his voice mail throughout the day...but no promises!).

Ahhh Memories...

...it seems like nearly yesterday that we were spending the entire day (and night) in the hospital and here we are again - wait a minute, it was practically yesterday.

After we received the calls from the doctor, Stacy and I decided to come right to the hospital and plan on staying here probably most of the day and evening. On the plus side, we'll finally be able to use the $50 cafeteria gift cards we get weekly to use while Finn is there.

So the word on Finn is that he will have the surgery (I prefer to call it procedure because it helps me feel better about it) tomorrow morning at 7:30 am. Basically what happens is they enter his chest cavity from his back and go through the ribs, from there they locate where the hole is and either tie it or clamp it up. Beginning to end it takes about an hour.

We spoke with his attending physician this afternoon and she said that immediately after the procedure he can get better, get worse or stay the same; but it is one more thing to cross off the list as a potential risk. After he gets over the trauma from the surgery hopefully we'll see more improvement. Kelsie posted a link with more information about the procedure in her comment to the last post, feel free to check that out if you want more info.

Given the heart history in my family I want everyone to know that this murmur is a normal thing and is not related to anything congenital or hereditary. In fact, most all full term babies have a small hole in their heart when born that closes within four to five days after birth. The reason for this is that while in the womb the baby actually NEEDS that hole in order for the heart and lungs to function together properly. It doesn't need to seel until after delivery. Given how young Finn is it's not surprising he has a hole and it didn't seel. It's just scary that our 14 day old preemie is having surgery even if it is a quick and "routine" one for his situation.

As it was before when we were in the hospital, we have to have our phones off so if you are looking for information or trying to contact us the blog is the place for the info and the email is the way to reach us. Thanks again for your continued love and support.

The never ending rollercoaster ride

After such a high from yesterday, today's low seems even lower. We received a phone call at 5:30 this morning from Finn's doctor (a phone call at that time is never good news). Finn could not breath on his own any longer, so he went back on the ventilator. He ordered an ultrasound of Finn's heart because they believe his murmur to be the cause, scheduled for 8am this morning.

We received another call at 9:30am. The news was not what we were hoping for. His murmur was more significant than they thought. It is causing his heart to enlarge and the reason for his apnea earlier this morning. They are unable to treat it with medication because the potential damage it would cause to his already delicate digestive system (mainly his intestines). So, Finn will be having heart surgery either today or tomorrow (they have a call into the heart surgeon to see when they can get him in).

Originally they told us if he had to have surgery to correct the murmur, it would be about a 15 minute surgery. I don't know if this is still true. I don't know what complications could arise or risks to Finn. I'm trying to view this as a good thing because it will heal his heart and hopefully help him to breath better. Mommy just doesn't want to see her little guy have to go through it at all.

We will update more when we know more. Please say an extra prayer for little Finn today.

Sunday, January 18

The best day EVER!

I'll get right to it...I got to Kangaroo with Finn today!!! Oh my goodness, it was awesome. I felt like I was really his mom and just held him for almost an hour. He loved it, too, which made me feel even better. He kept making little coo-ing noises, which just melted my heart. I have some pics and a video, but haven't had time download them yet (hopefully Monday). But I guess I'm getting ahead of myself...

The day started with a visit to see Finn with auntie Vicky and cousin Lauren. They couldn't get enough of him (what mom doesn't love that?!?!). Unfortunately, Jim wasn't feeling 100%, so he stayed home (and slept!!). The nurse told us that Finn hadn't had a spell in the last EIGHT hours! Music to my ears.

Then Jim and I headed to Kristine's house for Grace's birthday party. We were a little late, but the trip to see Finn took a little longer than I planned. Grace didn't seem to mind. We stayed there for the afternoon and got icecream cake. Yum.

We left to meet my friends Matt and Amanda at the hospital so they could meet Finn. Jim still wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home (poor daddy!). I met them a little after 5pm. They got to visit Finn for a little while. Then I stayed and pumped (never ending story, right?). Right when I got done, Kristine, Becky and Pete came. Of course, Finn loved all the attention. It was after they left that I was able to Kangaroo with Finn. It was seriously the best visit with Finn ever. He still hadn't had any spells since earlier that morning. Hopefully that is progress.

They started Finn on a diuretic today to help with some fluid he has around his lungs (again, hopefully will help with his breathing). He will potentially lose some weight while on the diuretic, so we just have to be patient. He is still on the CPAP for now, as there is still some pressure under his ribs when he is breathing. His feedings are up to 2.3 ml per hour. The nurse said their goal is around 4 ml, depending on his weight.

I think that is it for now. Once I was able to Kangaroo, I kind of forgot all the other details of the other visits and what the nurses told me. Oops. I guess when you're filled with happiness, that can happen.

Saturday, January 17

Putting on a few...ounces!

Finn is officially back to his birth weight of one pound, 15 oz! We are so excited. It is a small step, but it is something. They have him back on his continuous feeding, so hopefully he will continue to gain much needed weight.

Jim wanted me to mention one more thing about Kangaroo Care. I told him after my class that when a mother is Kangaroo-ing with her baby, the baby's temperature remains constant but the mother's body temperature increases or decreases to whatever the temperature the baby needs. When a father holds the baby, their temperature changes, too, but theirs just increases to keep them both warm. It seems counter intuitive that a baby's temperature would hold steady when they are taken out of their isolette with just a diaper on, but it works every time! They also usually fall into a much deeper sleep when they are Kangaroo-ing, which promotes development and growth! Can't wait to try it!

He still seems agitated to me when we visit, but the staff doesn't seem too concerned. Maybe he is just developing more complex ways of nonverbally communicating with us. He actually cried for a little while today, which of course, just about killed mommy! He seemed a little stressed today when we were there (hence the crying!), so the nurse suggested I put my hands around him to comfort him (one around his head and another on his back or around his butt/feet). Finally, something I can DO to make him feel better. It was great and he held onto my finger the whole time.

Friday, January 16

Tough visit for Mom

It was Kristine's turn to babysit me today. We headed up the hospital after my Noon pumping. I could tell right away that Finn was agitated. The nurse said they were giving him a blood transfusion (something they told us yesterday would be a possibility for today). During the transfusion they had the cover off his isolette to monitor him. He kept moving around and trying to lift his body off the bed. The doctor came over and said they were a little concerned about his intestines because they appeared to be full (but Finn had a really poopy diaper earlier). They did an x-ray and it appeared to just be air from the CPAP. So, they decided to put a tube from his mouth into his stomach to help vent the extra air out (he didn't like the procedure and cried a little...broke my heart!). After they did that, he seemed to calm down. I think it helped putting the cover back on so it wasn't so bright for him. It was a tough visit for mom.

They did another ultrasound of Finn's head this morning, and while the official results weren't back yet, the doctor said everything looked normal and good. Yeah! They discontinued his feedings until his stomach and intestines are back to normal...but he weighed 1 lb, 14 oz yesterday. Almost back to his birth weight! Keep growing little boy!

The nurse said they didn't want me to do Kangaroo Care during the visit since he wasn't very stable or settled. I was disappointed, but completely understood. Jim and I will be going back tonight after work, so maybe Finn will be more stable then but if not, there is always this weekend.

Kangaroo Care

Just a little update from our visit last night (nothing too serious this time!). I was able to take Finn's temperature and change his diaper (which I love doing). No poopy diaper for me this time! But his little umbilical cord had fallen off into his diaper when I changed it! Just a little thing, but something that happens with all babies. Made me feel "normal" for a moment.

Our nurse said that we can do Kangaroo Care, even though he is on the CPAP, which was really good news. We didn't have time last night (I had to get home to pump, of course), but hopefully today or this weekend. So per Jim's request in the previous post (I didn't know we needed a blog to communicate to each other...ha, ha!), below is some more information I got about Kangaroo Care.

Benefits of Kangaroo Care: while your baby rests on your chest (mom or dad), you will see your baby become very calm and relaxed. Your baby may go into a deep slumber. Research has shown these physical and emotional benefits:
-a stable heart rate
-improved dispersion of oxygen throughout the body
-longer period of sleep (during which time the brain matures)
-reduction of purposeless activity which simply burns calories at the expense of the infant's growth and health
-increased likelihood of being discharged from the hospital sooner
-more regular breathing
-prevention of cold stress (which a preemie becomes too cold, he burns up much needed oxygen and calories to stay warm)
-more rapid weight gain
-decreased crying
-earlier physical bonding
-longer periods of alertness

Parents report feeling more positive about their birth experience despite the fact it may have been difficult (MAY have been difficult?!?!), finding ways to actively parent their baby while still in the hospital, increased confidence about handling their baby and feeling in control.

Why Kangaroo Care works: it creates conditions similar to those in the uterus...sound of parent's heartbeat, their voice, gentle movements of their breathing. It provides a "nest" where your baby can be in a flexed position like they were in the uterus. It offers the baby a break from the isolette and a chance to feel safe, loved and secure.

Overall, there are obviously a lot of benefits and no draw backs. Plus, I think it will allow Jim and me to feel like we are DOING something for Finn other than visiting, taking his temperature and pumping. Anything that we can do to help Finn...sign us up!

One little change: Finn was actually 14 inches long at birth, not 15 inches like we originally told people. The doctors at Abbott told us 15 inches, but his chart says 14 inches...so we'll go with that. Regardless, babies Finn's age are supposed to be between 10 - 13 inches, so he is a long boy!

FYI: the "shun" "unshun" from Jim's post is from The Office...my husband hasn't completely lost his mind...yet! Oh, and Jim is referring to the Gopher basketball game last night against Wisconsin (they won in over time)...for those of you who aren't obsessed with the Gophers!

Thursday, January 15

Finn Win!!

I'm not sure but I think that the Gopher's dedicated their win tonight to Finn (if they needed any inspiration he is it and they sure seemed to be inspired) - I think I've been through enough with the Gophers that even if they didn't dedicate it as such I can do so on their behalf. That's fine by me but as big of a fan as I am of the maroon and gold, I'm even a bigger Finn fan. Probably tougher to cheer in the NICU though than it is in William's Arena but I'll see what I can do.

So I'm waiting for some pizza to cook and don't really have a lot to say but for those of you who come here for some good repartee I thought I'd try to throw something out there. BTW, if you come to this blog for good repartee you're at the wrong blog. =)

Finn looked good tonight. I'm proud of my son. He might be young but that boy's a fighter and as strong as I could have ever hoped full term or preemie. I know that guys have a tough time multitasking, so I expect that he's back on the CPAP because he couldn't remember to eat, grow and breath at the same time. That's OK, multitasking is overrated. I'm sure that if he can focus on each individually he'll be able to master them all at the same time...in time.

Bummer about Stacy's meeting this afternoon but at least it sounds like she got a lot of good info. The Kangaroo Care is really interesting. I'm not sure that I could represent the details correctly so I implore you to ask her to go into them for you (Stacy, I'm trying to talk to you directly here and not really to anyone reading this despite what I may say; that being said, in your next entry, you should give even more of the details about the Kangaroo Care...I thought it was interesting so I can only hope it will be appealing to the masses - shun). If she doesn't I guess you'll never know (unshun, Stacy, they should know, re-shun).

Normally I try really hard to wrap these things up with a nice bow and have a closing and what not but this time forget it (because my pizza is almost done). The end...for now. Ski-U-Mah!!!

Just another day

Finn is doing okay. He was taken off the photo-therapy today, but put back on the CPAP. He was having a lot of spells and needed a break. He didn't have a spell while I was there after they put him on the CPAP. While I don't like that he had to go back on, this is just a temporary set back. I spoke with the doctor today and he said he can barely hear the heart murmur any more (which is really good news).

It was Renae's turn to babysit me today, so she came up to the hospital with me and went to the Preemie Support Class. We were the only ones there, but it was very informational, if not a little overwhelming. The lady leading the class kept referring to Finn as the "Wow" baby when I told her of his progress. I guess that is a good sign (I need to remember Finn's good accomplishments and not just the "bad")! It didn't feel like a "support" group, so I don't really feel the need to go back. Maybe Jim and I can find a true support group to attend together.

I wasn't able to nap today and am pretty tired. We are headed up to the hospital shortly. Then we'll come home, I'll pump and go to bed. Kind of the status quo around here (but I don't mind).

Wednesday, January 14

Back at Work = Back in a Routine? Not Quite

Hello followers, friends and passersby. As Stacy stated, I returned to work yesterday. It was somewhat bittersweet. I enjoy my job and it was good to be back and working with people in the office and my other colleagues in the field but at the same time with Finn at the hospital it's not like I'm back to a regular routine by any stretch. I guess that goes without saying since nothing about things day-to-day will be "regular" for a while.

Thank you to everyone at work for the nice emails and kind thoughts and words when I was gone and once I returned. It makes me very thankful for all of the wonderful people I work with and for.

Everyday after work now of course I have (not that it's a chore but more of a need for me) to go visit little Finn. Like Stacy said he's had a bit of a tough day but seemed better when we were there tonight. Our favorite nurse was on tonight so it was good to have her back to update us from her perspective - she explains things very well.

Finn was on the light again tonight but that was expected. While we were there this evening, he seemed to be doing well with his breathing, at least it seemed much better than the reports I heard from this morning.

In the good news category, he is now eating one milliliter of milk every two hours. They hope they can continue to increase that until he's on virtually a constant feed. Good job Finn - it will keep you growing and getting stronger!

Yesterday I was amazed by him when we were there and talking to him. He had his goggles off and his eyes were so big (see picture below) and he was looking at mommy and daddy when we spoke. It was really cute to see. For such a little guy, he seems to be fairly aware. He was even trying to turn his head to the otherside to look at us if we were on the opposite side he was facing in the incubator. Stacy said she read that they aren't even supposed to be able to lift their heads at that age but Finn seems to be lifting and moving. Pretty much what he does to our spirits when we think of the little guy.
The entire process is getting tiring for Stacy - I guess one can only imagine, she gave birth, left without her child, has to pump every three hours and visits twice a day; just thinking about it makes me tired. She is thinking about going to a parent support group tomorrow which will be good to talk to people who understand what we're going through, and the only people who do are the people who were or are in the same situation. Her strength and love is still inspiring even if she is tired on occassion though.

I'll sign off for now. Thank you everyone for everything.

Ups and Downs

Yesterday was Jim's first day back to work. We headed up to visit Finn as soon as he got home. Finn was very alert and kept looking in each of our direction when we talked to him (a very good sign for his development). He had two pretty major "spells" while we were there, which always makes mom and dad worry.

When I got to the hospital this morning, the nurse said Finn already had 7 spells for her, which is not good. The doctor came while I was there and he said the murmur was still there, but not a major concern. He ordered some lab work just to check on a few things (the results will be in when we visit tonight).

While I know it is very normal for babies Finn's age to have problems breathing, it just worries me. I don't like to see him struggle. When he looks at me, his eyes tell me, "Sorry mom, I'm trying, honest." It just breaks my heart. He really is doing well, and I just need to remember that (it is just hard sometimes).

Some good news is the doctor increased Finn's feedings to every 2 hours and he is getting at least 1ml each feeding (can't remember if he increased that too or not). So very good for Finn to be taking my milk...just grow little boy and get big! The nurse said he had a really poopy diaper for her, so that, too, is good. He has not needed to go back on photo-therapy yet, so that, again, is good news.

No holding since Sunday, but with his spells, they don't want to stress us or him out. Hopefully soon. Continued prayers are much appreciated. It goes without saying, but thank you so much for all the support!

Tuesday, January 13

One week old already?

I guess time flies, doesn't it. It really makes me realize how far Finn has come in only one week! I never darned even hope he'd be doing this well.

I just talked with his doctor (he calls once a day with an update). They are going to up his feedings again today! As of yesterday, he was getting 1.5 ml every 4 hours. Not sure if they are giving him more or giving the same amount more often. I can ask when I'm there today. The doctor can still hear the murmer in his heart, but is not concerned. He will continue to monitor it. Also, Finn will probably have to go back on photo-therapy today. It isn't really a "set back" because it is normal for babies Finn's age to go on and off.

My mom is coming to visit today and tomorrow. Jim decided not to go to work yesterday, so we were able to visit Finn before the weather was terrible. He did go to work today, so we'll see what our schedule ends up being. I never know what they will allow me to do when I'm visiting Finn, but hoping to be able to hold him again today. They also promote Kangaroo Care and want me to do that with Finn.

Kangaroo Care is when a parent holds the baby skin to skin. During kangaroo care, the baby is placed on the parent’s chest, dressed in a diaper and sometimes a cap. The baby’s head is turned to the side so the baby’s ear is against the parent’s heart. In this position the baby is able to find comfort in the parent’s heartbeat and feel the parent’s warmth. This procedure is effective, but it is limited to babies whose condition is not critical.

I guess if Finn weren't well enough, they wouldn't want us to do it, so that is good news, too. We'll see if I'm able to do that today or not. We tried only pumping once during the night last night and I don't think my body is ready for that yet. Ouch! We'll see what times work for tonight.

I uploaded quite a few pictures on our picture website (click on "our pictures" link on the right), but didn't have time to dink around with the video camera.

Monday, January 12

Happy belated birthday to me!

Stacy FINALLY got to hold Finn last night. It was wonderful and magical. It felt like that is what I'm supposed to be doing. I was crying so hard, I kept dripping on him. Oops! Depending on how Finn is doing every day, we can probably hold him once a day going forward. Yeah! Daddy is a little nervous to hold him just because Finn is so small. It has been baby steps for all of us! Also, Jim took Finn's temperature for the first time. I took video of it, but didn't take a still picture. Jim was surprised at how strong Finn is, even for Daddy! Mommy got to change another poopy diaper, but poopy diapers are a good sign that Finn's digestive system is working.

They gave him my milk twice yesterday and he tolerated both feedings. Again, this is great news. If his levels remained the same as yesterday, they may take him off the photo-therapy today. That means no more blue light and no more little goggles. It would be very common for him to have to go back on it every so often, but it is still great news. He is such a fighter!

It is my goal today to figure out how to download video from our camera. I haven't played with it since we got it for Christmas, so it is probably time I do that. Plus, we want to share the cute little clips we've been taking of Finn.

Today is the first day that Jim goes back to work (I think we are both dreading it). My sister Renae was supposed to come and spend the day with me (to keep me company and to see Finn of course!), but the weather is too bad in St. Cloud for her to leave. We always have bad luck with the weather! I plan to do my 11:30 pumping here at home and then head up to see baby Finn. Can't wait. Oh, and they gave me a second set of pumping equipment, so I can now pump at the hospital (allows for longer visits).

Sunday, January 11

Our little trooper

Finn is doing great. Stacey, Sam and Dillon stopped by to see Finn for a little bit (Dillon is too young to come into the NICU, though). They took the CPAP off today, so now he just has a nose tube providing extra oxygen. But other than that, he is completely breathing on his own! I never dared hope he would be doing this well at only FIVE days old. When we were there this morning, he was having a little trouble remembering to breathe regularly, but was able to "remember" after a few seconds. The nurse only had to pat his butt once, which is really good. A "spell" is when the nurse has to remind him to breath. He only had three so far today.

The other piece of good news is that they fed him some of my milk this morning and he tolerated it! Again, babies his age are not supposed to be able to do this yet, so it is great news. They are going to try to give him a little more tonight to see how that goes. The good thing about him taking my milk, is that now he can start to gain weight (not immediately, but eventually). He weighs one pound, 11.5 ounces as of this morning.All the good news worries me a little because I'm waiting for the bad news, but I think that is pretty common. Don't worry, I am enjoying the good news as it comes. They took him off the photo-therapy for a while when were there today and took his goggles off. He just looks like a normal baby and I ache to just grab him and leave (don't worry...I won't!). He even opened his eyes for a long while and looked around and tried to see where the voices were coming from. I could just stare at him for hours.

Finn may be small, but he is strong and clearly a fighter. We count our blessings every day.

Saturday, January 10

Finn's heart

Well, I didn't get to hold little Finn yesterday. I did get to take his temperature and change his (poopy) diaper. He was doing really well. His nurse put him on his tummy while we were there and he seemed to really like that. It is good to get the extra air out of his tummy and it is safe since he is hooked up to the monitors. But with the commotion of rolling over, it would have taken too much out of him for me to hold him, too. She thought I'd be able to some time this weekend.

The doctor called this morning with the daily update. They noticed he has an open blood vessel near his heart. If it gets worse, they will give him an aspirin-type medicine that corrects the problem in 80% of cases. If that doesn't work, he will need surgery to close it, which is only a 15 minute surgery but obviously the last resort. At this point, they are not overly concerned but will continue to monitor closely.

Thank you everybody for all the birthday wishes. It was not the 30th birthday I thought I'd have, but it was wonderful still. The funny moment of the night happened at dinner (El Loro). The waitress wanted to bring me a birthday shot of Tequila! John and Kelsie were like, "NO!" Then Jim said he'd have it for me. How thoughtful. Instead they brought me fried ice-cream, which is my favorite.

We don't have any concrete plans today, but have a feeling we will be making a few shorter trips to the hospital today so people can visit Finn. Others are only allowed to visit 10 minutes every hour, so sounds like many small trips will be called for. Oh and I wasn't able to get pictures or video uploaded yesterday. Will try again today!

It is Auntie Kristine's birthday today. Happy birthday! I won't say how old she is, but she's two years older than me. Ha, ha!

Friday, January 9

Stacy's First Birthday with Finn

In case you didn't know, today is Stacy's 30th birthday. I teased her that she would be in her thirties before she had a child after she found out she was pregnant; but Finn was determined to make a liar of me.

Given this was my last work day not at work I took the opportunity to sleep in. I did wake up long enough though throughout the night and morning to help Stacy with he pumping process; which is indeed a process.

We went to Target in the afternoon to pick up some things we didn't think we'd have to worry about for the next couple of months. Good thing though that Stacy made us register a month ago when we did because at least I had been orientated to the baby section a little bit.

After we got home from Target, Stacy was back at it pumping again and then we went to see baby Finn with our bag of liquid gold. The doctor was there when we arrived and gave us an update on the little guy's progress. His chromosome check came back normal and good - beyond checking multiple other items they confirmed that he was a boy. A fact that I little doubt about after seeing him when he was born. But apparently with preemies of this age they have to confirm it.

One of the two major concerns being born so young in addition to the potential lung problems is with brain hemorrhaging. They did an ultrasound today to check for that. We were pleased to hear from the doctor that the ultrasound showed no signs of any bleeding in his brain. In addition, there didn't appear to be any brain abnormalities. This is great news and as the doctor says this is generally a good indicator that hopefully there won't be major developmental issues. He is due for another one at two weeks to a month of age which is even a better indicator.

After visiting Finn (and pumping again) we went to El Loro for Stacy's birthday dinner and then returned home to continue celebrating with more family and friends.

It is difficult getting back into a regular routine while we know Finn is still at the hospital. But we know that he is in the best place and that we have to be here getting ready for when Finn is big enough to join us.

Until then we'll count our blessings for having a wonderfully strong son who continues to fight and a many family and friends and countless others whom we don't even know that are thinking about us and praying for us.

Happy 30th Stacy, I love you!

Last night's visit

Jim, Becky, Austin, Renae and I headed up to visit Finn last night after dinner. Becky made us pot roast, potatoes, carrots, onions and gravy for dinner. Not sure if it was meant to be our homecoming meal or not, but it was really good (no more hospital food!) and much appreciated. I knew the NICU had a "sibling play room" but didn't know the rules or anything. Well, since Austin can't visit Finn (you have to be 16 and he isn't very close to that!), we went in there and they provide supervised child care in a room full of a million fun toys and activities for FREE! This place is amazing. That way both Becky and Renae could visit Finn with us instead of taking turns watching Austin. And the good news is that Austin LOVED it and didn't want to leave. Makes it easier for Becky to visit Finn now!!

Finn is still doing really well. They were able to put in a long term IV in his right arm so they won't have to keep putting in IV's all the time (a normal IV only lasts about 2 days in a preterm baby, so he'd have to keep getting poked all the time). That was good news. I didn't cry as much last night, so I was able to talk to him for quite a while. And all of his nurses have been to informative and kind and wonderful. At least if we can't be there, I know he is being well taken care of by people who genuinely care about him. Takes a special person to be a NICU nurse.

AND I got to take his temperature! It was a little scary, but he did really well. He is surprisingly strong for how little he is. I had to hold the thermometer under his arm and hold his arm down on it...but he kept resisting. A little stubborn maybe?!?! Then I "helped" while his nurse changed his diaper (okay, I just took the little tabs off, but still!).

Jim had to run over to Abbott because we forgot a couple things when we left yesterday (of course!). While he was gone, I got to pick Finn up! Not "hold" him, but when the nurse changed his diaper, he had pooped (a good thing for a preterm!) and she got a little on his blanket. So I put my hand under his butt and neck and lifted his straight up about 4 or 5 inches in the air while she replaced his blanket. What a wonder experience. He was lighter than I thought he'd be, but since he weighs less than 2 pounds, I guess that makes sense. Nobody was around to take a picture, but hopefully if I hold him today, there will be plenty of pictures.

Thank you everybody for the wonderful birthday wishes on here and that have been emailed. It is hard to care about my birthday (even if it is a "big" one) when we have so much more important things going on. When we got pregnant, Jim told me that I'd be 30 when we had our baby but he'd only be 29. I guess he was wrong for once in his life! (although, I wish he had been right so Finn could have grown a little bigger) Not sure what today will bring. I need to run to Target to get some supplies and I think I'm going to treat myself to a mani/pedi. I think we'll only get one visit in today with Finn (sad!), but I guess it is only right to at least acknowledge that it is my birthday. They are going to give me a second set of pumping accessories so I can pump there at the NICU (that way visits can be a little longer). Have I mentioned how amazing Children's is?

I have a few more pictures and some video. I will try to upload them to our pictures site today. Not sure if we can do video on that site...if not, then I'll just put it on here.

Thursday, January 8

Leaving Finn

After a 12 day stay, I was discharged from the hospital around 10am this morning. Obviously, it was very bitter sweet for us. We went over to visit Finn before we left. They had to put an IV in his hand because the vein in the umbilical cord wasn't working (they said why, but we don't remember). So now he has a big bandage on his left hand. They also added a tube to his mouth. For now, it was suctioning "green stuff" out of his stomach (common for preterm babies like Finn to have). They are also going to attempt to feed him some of my milk today through that same tube. But the doctor said that he might give it right back (which again is normal and they would expect him to do so). Too funny.

So, while he is doing very well, he has more things hooked up to him. I took a short video while we were there. Jim wasn't up to touching him, so we just talked to him for a while (or I tried, but really I was just crying). I think he is still scheduled for him brain scan tomorrow, while will tell us a lot more about is over all health and status.

We had some house keeping things to take care of (confirm admission information for Finn, get a parking pass, etc). We did that and then left for home...after we were able to find our car. After 12 days, we weren't sure where it was. I had to pump about 25 minutes late by the time we got home, so that wasn't fun. I had not idea pumping was going to be so painful, but I'm more than willing to do it for Finn.

While it is nice to be home (after making me lunch, Jim has been sleeping all day!), it is obviously tough to be away from Finn. I guess we will get used to it or at least adjust to it.

Boring Housekeeping Items Update

Just wanted to relay some news about some minor changes to our blog in case you didn't notice.

1. We've changed the pregnancy ticker to Finn's age counter; assuming everything goes well Finn would be coming home some time around 100 days of age.

2. For those of you who have had difficulty posting comments to our entries or just want to write a note quickly, we've added a Quick Comment gadget in the right margin. Simply enter your name in the "Name" field and your comment in the "Message" field; you don't need to enter anything in the "Website" field. When completed, click the "Shout!" button at the bottom of the gadget and your message will be posted. If you prefer to leave comments in the traditional manner you may of course still do so. Also, the Quick Comment gadget can be used to chat with other people who may be on the site at the same time as you; to do so simply leave messages back and forth for each other.

3. We've updated our pictures which can be found under the "Our Pictures" link in the upper right; there are many new pictures in there of Finn and from the hospital. Stacy continues to update the albums daily with tags (so you know who is in the pictures) and quick descriptions of the pictures.

4. You can now sign up to receive an RSS feed of our blog under "Subscribe to our Blog"; this would allow you to view the blog entries immediately after they are made from Google, Yahoo and other sites without having to navigate to our blog page.

5. Visitors can now link to other blogs maintained by our friends and family - again this can be found in the right margin.

That's it for now. We will be leaving the hospital tomorrow morning (Finn will still be in the NICU for some time yet) but will continue to update everyone on Finn's progress and anything else interesting (and some things maybe not interesting) that is happening in our lives.

Again, we can't thank you all enough for the support!!

Wednesday, January 7

Wednesday night

We decided that we will spend another night at Abbott tonight (Wedendsay, 1/7). We will most likely be discharged Thursday AM. If anybody wants to visit Jim and/or me, any time after 6pm should work (or if you come earlier, you'll have to wait in the waiting room from about 5:30 to 6)...but please let Jim know just so we aren't packed like sardines. Just a reminder, you will most likely NOT be able to visit Finn, but we can request to view him via TV monitor.

Touching my baby

Jim, Ron, Lynn, Stacey and I went to visit Finn this morning. It is so emotional for me to see him both because he is doing so well and because he is so little and has so much growing and learning to do. He is one strong little fighter.

When we were there, his nurse let me touch him! I didn't even dare hope that I could. I asked if she could put her hand next to him so when we took a picture, there would be perspective, since he looks so big in the pictures, but he really isn't. Then she said that she could do one better and I could put my hand in with him. I tried to get him to hold my finger, but he wasn't having it! He is already stubborn. Ha, ha.
Awesome. I ache so much to touch, hold and kiss him, but this is one step closer. As you can see, he was completely off the CPAP for awhile when we were there so we could see his face! What a wonderful moment. He did really well while he was off the CPAP and completely breathing on his own. We're hoping Jim can touch him next time we visit. Plus, she said that I might get to HOLD him on my birthday, which is this Friday! That would be the best birthday present ever. He needs to continue doing as well as he has been doing for that to happen, but here's hoping!

He cried a little bit when she took the CPAP off because it is very tight. His cry was so cute. Jim said it is like comparing a cub's wimper to a lion's roar (if a full term newborn's cry were the roar). Makes a mom ache to hear it and not be able to do anything. Eventually!

I have been attempting to pump since yesterday afternoon. It can take several days for anything to come, but luckily, I've been getting a tiny bit every time. And this morning, after two pumping sessions, we had nearly four syringes full! While in reality, it is a small amount, it is several "meals" for Finn, since he only eats about the size of the tip of your pinky with each meal. Right now, they are giving him other fluids and are adding more protein today, which helps with growth. They will start giving him my "stuff" in a few days. The nurses call it "liquid gold."

We took several more pictures and I will be uploading them to the picture website shortly. Check them out when you have time. Thank you again to everybody for their many, many prayers and kind thoughts. If wealth were measured by the friends and family you have, we would be kings. Thank you so much. We love you all.

News from the NICU

Finn's doctor called this morning at about 10:00 am to let us know that he is doing "excellent". At about 1:00 am this morning, they took the ventilator off and replaced it with a CPAP, a breathing tool used for apnea which is a common condition for pre-term babies. The doctor said that Finn is tolerating it very well thus far but they will continue to monitor him closely. Within an hour or so, we will be going over to the NICU with our parents to visit Finn; if we learn anymore at that time I'll post another update.

Finally, we are weighing whether or not to go home yet today (Stacy only of course not Finn). The nurse stated that if Stacy feels well enough she could probably be discharged today. If anyone was planning on visiting later this afternoon or during the evening please check with me first to ensure we are still going to be here. You can call my cell phone or try our room at the hospital directly at (612) 863-2604.

Before I go here is a picture of Finn - find more pictures at the link to the right titled "Our Pictures".

Tuesday, January 6

Baby Finn

Hi everybody. Below is a video of Finn. We recorded this from Stacy's TV in her hospital room where we can view a live feed of little Finn from his incubator at Childrens' Hospital. You'll notice that he has shades over his eyes - they didn't really say why but I'm guessing it's because his future is so bright!

video

A few more stats on our little guy: he was 15 inches long and weighed one pound and 15 ounces. These are both much larger than what we had expected. Needless to say this was a pleasant surprise! Also, according to www.howmanyofme.com there statistically are five or less people named Finnegan Thomas in the United States.

If anyone would like to come visit, Stacy is in recovery and doing quite well and you are more than welcome to do so. You probably won't be able to see the baby in person but we can have the monitor turned on so you can see him. Stacy's expected discharge from the hospital is 10:00 am on Thursday; Finn will be here yet for two to three months. Thanks for the continued prayers as Finn and the rest of us commence in the next stage of this journey.

The Wait Is Over

Finnegan James Thomas was born this morning at 5:24 a.m. Mom did great and delivered in less than 20 minutes! Baby was trying to breath when he was born but as we knew he went on the ventilator. He was just transferred over to Childrens' Hospital also as expected - they said that he was doing good. I'm a bit shell shocked so that's about all I know at the moment. I'll update more as I have more information.

Station 64

Good morning, afternoon, evening depending on when you are reading this. Unfortunately the contractions I mentioned in my previous post did not subside. They have escalated in frequency and intensity - I'm sure that's easy for me to say.

As such, we have been transferred to Station 64 which is labor and delivery. The pain was getting quite bad for Stacy but she was just given some medication which seems to be helping somewhat. An epidural would be the next step if this doesn't help enough.

At this point, we don't know if this will continue to escalate until delivery in the short term or if it might wane and return to the stable condition we were in before. Obviously we are hoping for the latter.

Fortunately throughout the night and early morning Stacy has had one of the nurses which we both really like. She has been very attentive and supportive.

We have nearly reached 26 weeks which is much more than we had anticipated when this adventure began. We aren't conceding that there will for sure be a delivery, but we are counting those blessings which we have been given.

If anyone was planning on visiting for the remainder of this week please check with me first either via email (stacy.thomas97@hotmail.com) or by posting a comment to the blog.

Monday, January 5

Captain's Blog Supplemental

Back in the saddle - it has been a while now since I posted an update. I was letting Stacy have all the fun since she has been up to using the laptop and catching up on a few things.

Stacy and TJ continue to remain about the same as before. Stacy did have two contractions this evening while she was on the monitor and they have continued for a little bit but unless they continue at regular intervals the doctor and nurse said there is no cause for concern; we'll just continue to do as we have done though and take it one hour at a time. More learning in this regard as apparently the contractions have to happen on occasion in order to continue to make room for the baby as he grows. So hopefully that's all it is.

Speaking of making room and growing, etc. we took another picture of Stacy's tummy as we have done on a regular basis so we can see it grow as the pregnancy progresses. As with our other pictures, you can see these by clicking the Our Pictures link on the upper right corner of the blog. Interestingly enough though after Stacy's water broke you could actually visibly see that her tummy shrank. Here is a picture from a week or two before we came to the hospital:


And here is a picture from yesterday:


As you can see, there was quite a change.

We were able to watch the Viking game yesterday as you might surmise from Stacy's garb. Despite the outcome we stayed nice and calm and didn't get too wrapped up in what happened. I was impressed since Stacy is such a big fan; but I guess being in the hospital helps put things in perspective.

I was able to spend a night at home on Saturday. Thank you to Becky for staying with Stacy so that I could do that. While it was nice to have a break, I missed being here with Stacy and TJ and couldn't help but think that it's unfair that Stacy doesn't get a break.

We continue to fill our time with guests, movies, reading and games. Stacy and I are now tied at one game each in Trivial Pursuit - we'll have to play the rubber match soon. Today we received a game from Jessica called 30 Second Mysteries - it was a nice change of pace and very fun; maybe more so for Stacy because she kicked my butt.

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful new year thus far!

Sunday, January 4

Pictures

In case anybody is interested, I just uploaded pictures on our picture website (link on the right hand side). It is mainly pictures from Christmas, my 24 week preggo pic (much bigger than I am now!) and pics from the hospital. I didn't have energy to add captions, but will get to that eventually.

One more day

Another day and night. Yeah. Things are good here and with many visitors, not too boring either. Becky volunteered to stay over night with me last night so Jim was able to go home and sleep in his own bed. He hadn't slept well the night before, so he was pretty excited. He is on his way back now, so I haven't heard the report on how nice it was to be in our bed. Becky was a great care taker and didn't get mad at me for going to the bathroom every 10 minutes (it was really 3 hours, but Jim was tired!). Too funny.

Not much else new to report, which is always a good thing for us! It looks absolutely gorgeous outside (bright blue sky, sunny). I know it is cold, but since I don't go outside, that doesn't really bother me!

We have a few visitors planned for today. And of course the Vikings play at 3:30pm. Becky even brought my jersey up for me to wear. They allowed me to watch the game last week, but had to promise I would shut it off if I got upset. I'm much more stable this Sunday, so I didn't have to make that promise! Go Vikings!

Oh and one more thing. I thought when you signed up to be a "follower" of our blog you would be emailed updates, but found out yesterday that is not the case. The purpose of a follower is to have all your blogs in one spot when you log into your account. Jim looked into it and if you want emails when there is an update, you need to follow the RSS feed. I don't know how to do this, but if you're interested, I'm sure he can set it up for you (just email or call him!) or you can look around and see what it takes. Just trying to help!

Saturday, January 3

Oh Happy Day

It is Stacy, finally! Well, I woke up this morning around 7am and couldn't help but think about that time last Saturday. We were at North Memorial, I was in full labor, contractions every 5 minutes apart (or sooner) and was dialated to a 4 and for all points and purposes, we were delivering a baby in the near future. It was probably the scariest day of my life and also the saddest. I didn't know what was going to happen and I was so scared for our little guy (everybody has been calling him TJ for Thomas Junior since we won't tell the name we picked!). I never dreamed to hope a week later, we'd be at arguably the best hospital in the midwest for preterm labor, TJ would be still "hibernating" inside me and we'd be settling into a routine and life here at the hospital.

Which brings me to my next thought. God has definitely been smiling on us, with no doubt. I do not think we would still be here in the Garden if it weren't for all of your heart felt prayers and loving thoughts. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful, caring people in our lives. This just proves the power of prayer. The saying "my cup runneth over" has never had such a profound meaning to me before. Every person who has read this blog and said a prayer or sent us good wishes has made a difference and Jim and I can never possibly fully express our gratitude and appreciation.

Something else I am thankful for...having the best husband in the entire world. He will be embarrassed by that, but I can't say enough how wonderful Jim has been through all of this. I can not think of one other person in the entire world I would want to be going through something like this with (well, I mean, if you HAVE to go through something like this!). While he has always been a wonderful and loving husband, he has never shown me the depth of love he has over the last week (or TJ either for that matter). His patience, willingness to help out whenever or however needed (which is a lot) and level headedness has been my rock and inspiration. I will never be able to express it appropriately in words, but I just wanted to try.

Thank you everybody for all the wonderful emails and comments. Jim reads them to me every few hours and they make me feel calm and surrounded by love. Also, thank you to everybody who has been able to come and visit. It is wonderful to see everybody and it helps the day go by a little faster.

Well, we are at 25 weeks and 3 days. While we are grateful to just be this far along, we can't help but hope for more (God can do anything, right?!?!). If we can get to 28 weeks (Jan 21), it will be a miracle. Of course, that is too far away for me to think about and dwell on, so every night I go to bed, I remember how blessed we are to still be pregnant and just hope to get through each night. So far so good...but anything can happen. I'll just remember to count my/our many blessings whenever that does happen.

With much love,
Stacy

Friday, January 2

The Art of Healing

Stacy was finally able to get out of the room. I'm sure that it is a joy for her considering when she showers and lays on the couch for the two minutes it takes for them to change her bed linens she is happy because she gets a different perspective of the room.

Right now she is in the Station 54 Central Circle Group Area which is the middle of the rooms. She is joining the other women in the long-term antepartum unit (the Garden) for a relaxation and anti-anxiety course called The Art of Healing Program. It is hosted by the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing and is geared to help the patients here "cope with stress, anxiety and other feelings about their unique journey through pregnancy." They will be making a collage which is supposed to be representative of lowering their stress and anxiety as well as their child's in the womb.

Personally it sounds very new agey to me; but given the circumstances I've learned a lot I would have hoped to have never learned and am open to anything that might possibly help which I may have laughed off in the past. The instructor is an Integrative Medicine Practitioner who has been giving Stacy theraputic massage every other day - that has seemed to help with her bed rest so hopefully this will help as well.

Additionally, we saw someone else from Integrative Medicine this morning and talked a little bit about accupuncture. Since they don't do massage below the hips for pregnancy this would potentially be a good option to help Stacy with the knee pains she has been having from laying on her side.

Our pregnancy ticker continues to accurately let us all know how long through the gestation period our baby is; obviously though the number of days left isn't accurate because regardless of what happens they won't let the baby go to full term. We are now hoping for 61 more days as a best case senario. At that point, she would be at 34 weeks and they would induce labor. The next big step though is getting to 28 weeks which is still 19 days - that would put us at January 21. At 28 weeks, many key risk factors go down and the baby would have a lot better chance of breathing on his own. Given where we were last Saturday, the fact that we are still here is a miracle and we are still taking it one hour and one day at a time.

Stacy was on the monitor this morning for a little longer than normal. They spotted a rhythm blip just as they were going to take it off. After leaving it on though and comparing it to the previous tracings where there were problems and we moved back upstairs, they were completely different and didn't give the providers any cause for concern. This is good because Stacy had just gotten the IV lead taken out and she wasn't looking forward to having another one put back in right away which is what would have happened if there were problems.

Before Stacy went out to the group session, we were watching the movie Burn After Reading. It stars Brad Pitt and George Clooney - oddly enough I was the one who picked out the movie and not Stacy considering the leading men. We haven't finished it yet but it is a very odd movie.

Alright, I think at the point that I start talking about movies it's time for me to finish. So, that's it for now.

Thursday, January 1

Growing in the Garden

Sorry that I haven't done any updates today until now but it has been a busy day - in a good way.

We've had a lot of visitors today - so much so that I had to put together a schedule so there weren't too many at once! Thank you to everyone who took time out of your holiday to stop in and say hi to us. The guests make the time go much quicker than when I'm doing something like reading take out menus and store directories to Stacy. Don't ask why I was doing that; it's not a very interesting story.

Things remain pretty much the same as they have been as of late. Stacy and baby remain stable and from the title you can tell that we are still in the garden. Stacy seemed to have more energy today and even ate all of her lunch for once.

I was able to get a full night's sleep last night using my air mattress. One of the multiple reasons I'm happy we're back at Station 54 - certainly not the most important though.

While I enjoy updating the blog and like to make it interesting, I hope that my upcoming entries can be as bland as this one with little new news to report. With what will hopefully be a continued lack of eventful occurrences, I'll have some more time to think up some witty quips to include to keep things fun. If I start telling knock-knock jokes though tell me to stop. Our best to everyone and as always thanks for the support.