Saturday, February 25, 2012

10 Month Update

10-months-old!  I know it's been a week since she turned 10-months, but it still feels like a big deal.  Double digits! And I can't believe how close we are to 1-year.  1-year since that 

Here is a quick update on how Veronica is doing at the 10 month mark:

- Veronica's last weight check was about 3 weeks ago and she was 16 lbs, 11oz.  I think it's safe to assume she has surpassed the 17 lb mark by now.  I am guessing she will be somewhere between 19 and 20 lbs by her first birthday.  Amazing!
- Tummy time remains a frequent activity in our house.  While she still isn't rolling, Veronica does move quite a bit when she is put on her stomach.  Somehow she manages to completely turn herself around so that she is facing the opposite direction.  Today she even did a full 360 degree turn.  She also does mini push-ups and kicks her legs furiously.  I'm so proud of her efforts. And although she isn't rolling, she is able to sit unassisted which I think is great progress. 
- When we started solids a few weeks ago, Veronica really wasn't too thrilled.  Most times, she would spit out the food and cry.  I was a little worried, just knowing that micro preemies often have issues with food/eating.  But we recently turned a corner and she seems to be enjoying everything that is offered to her.  
- In regards to sleep....well, we're still working on that.  She generally sleeps from 8pm - 6am but wakes up twice to nurse.  I can't say for sure if she is actually hungry, but she sure seems like it.  I'll admit that I wouldn't mind a good nights sleep (after all, it has been 10 months) but I try to remember that it's a whole lot better than her waking up in the NICU in the middle of a night for a nurse to feed her.  For naps, she only sleeps for 45 minutes at a time.  Yes, you read that correctly - 45 minutes.  I love her dearly but I do wish she would sleep longer. 

Overall, Veronica is doing wonderfully.  We look at her everyday in complete wonder at how far she has come.  We feel incredibly blessed.  Here are some photos from this past week:  


My only blue eyed girl.

Tummy time is tiring.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Prayers for John Paul

For some time now, we have been following the story of John Paul, the 5th child born to a family we know from our parish.  John Paul was a full term baby but he was admitted to the NICU shortly after his birth in early December.  A few days later, he was transferred to Children's National Medical Center in DC where he was eventually diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a rare and very serious disease.  John Paul has endured two surgeries, one for the placement of a g-tube (to include a nissen), and the other, for the placement of a tracheostomy.  Needless to say, the past few months have been challenging for John Paul's family. We were thrilled to learn that John Paul was discharged home on Valentine's Day but saddened to find out the following day that he was readmitted as a result of irritation in his trach which caused some difficulties with his breathing.  His parents are hopeful that he will be discharged within the next few days.

With all of John Paul's challenges, his parent's strength and faith has been amazing.  The family has created a CaringBridge website to keep people informed of John Paul's progress.  If you would like to be inspired, please take a look.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

10 Years and 10 Months

Veronica is 10-months-old today!  Hard to believe she is into the double digits.  Today also happens to be the 10th birthday of our oldest child, Liesl.  She adores Veronica and has been helpful to me and Andrew in so many ways.  Liesl requested her own blog for her birthday but she settled on having a guest post on this one: 

"Hi everyone. Today, on February 18, 2012, I turned 10-years-old at 8:45 p.m., and Veronica turned 10-months-old at 1:45 a.m. She has come so far. I always thought what a coincidence it was that Veronica and I were both born on the 18th. We were also born on Mondays; I was born on President’s Day, and she was born on the Monday of Holy Week.

Veronica is amazing and I love her sweet round face. She is conscience of her hands and the world around her. Veronica reaches for my hands and the toys I offer her. She smiles at me and can almost roll over; her hand is in the way.

I can’t wait to play with Veronica when she is older; though there is a 9 year and 2 months difference. JoJo can join us. There are many things in this world I can introduce her to. Like I said, I just can’t wait.

So now Veronica is 10 months into her life. She will accomplish great things, and (I hope) will be a lot like JoJo and me. I hope she knows she can be whatever she wants to be (well, she can, but the chances of becoming president are like one in a trillion). We have many memories to make, but I already have a lot."

Here are some photos from the birthday celebration:

Liesl, the birthday girl.

Linus, Josephine and Theodore

Andrew and Veronica (10-months-old!)

Liesl and Sebastian

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Six Months Ago....

Six months ago today, Veronica came home from the NICU.  I will never forget that day, or how I felt.  It’s something I still think about daily.  I never took the time to post about that amazing day so I thought I would do so now. 

Shortly after waking up on August 15, we called the NICU to ensure that all was well and Veronica would indeed be discharged.  We were told four other times that she would be able to come home and then she didn’t for various reasons.  I would like to say that on that day it was different, and that we knew she was really coming home, but we didn’t.   But when we called and spoke with Veronica’s nurse and learned that her night had been uneventful, we knew that it would be the day.  We couldn’t wait to get to the NICU and take our baby home.
Our wonderful friend Maria, the same one who watched our children the day my water broke, came to our home again to watch them until my father and his fiancĂ© arrived a few hours later.  Maria helped them decorate the house for Veronica’s homecoming.

Ironically, Veronica’s nurse that day was Beverly.  Beverly was one of the first nurses who cared for Veronica and was often her nurse during those first few, difficult weeks.  She was Veronica’s nurse the first time I laid my eyes on her in the NICU.  I remember standing by the isolette, scared and unable to stop the tears.  Beverly didn’t tell me that everything was going to be ok, because at that point nobody really knew how she would do.  But she handed me a box of tissues, and without her even saying a word, I could feel her compassion.   So it seemed only fitting that Beverly was Veronica’s nurse on her last day in the NICU.  She was the first nurse we saw when we started our NICU journey, and the last one we saw as it came to a close. 

When we arrived at the NICU that day, we anxiously awaited for the moment when we could take Veronica home.  It took a little longer than we had expected, as we had to wait until the doctors were finished with rounds before they could complete the discharge paperwork.   When we finally got to the point when Beverly could review the discharge paperwork with us, I remember asking myself if this was really happening.  Were we really going to be able to take Veronica home?  It almost didn't feel real.  Veronica had one final exam with Dr. Mohamed, the attending neonatologist which put us one step closet to discharge.  

Dr. Mohamed "examining" Veronica.

When Beverly unplugged Veronica from the monitors, I almost cried.  She had been unplugged before for baths and two days earlier for our special family time, but this time was for good.   That moment felt significant in so many ways.  She was no longer a NICU baby. 

Andrew left to go get the car and pull it up to the hospital entrance.  I began saying my good-byes to some of the nurses.  That of course, was emotional too.  These were the people that cared for our daughter for 119 days.  They were her parents when we couldn’t be there.  What a difference they made in our lives and it was difficult to put our gratitude into words. 
We finally made our way to the exit door of the NICU, and as we opened it, I felt this tremendous sense of freedom.  It was as though I had been the one who hadn't  left that room for 119 days.  What a relief it was to now be on the other side of the door.  Just standing outside was Cynthia, the charge nurse, Rebecca, one of the residents and one of the receptionists.  I gave each of them a hug and I think I began crying.  I was overwhelmed with emotion. 

Just down the hall, I saw Dr. Macri, the doctor who delivered Veronica.  I had no idea he was even on duty that day and being confined to the NICU, it was rare to even see the attending OB/GYN’s.   And then I saw Jenny, my nurse the night Veronica was born.  She was the first one who arrived to my room when I knew something was wrong and she was with me during the birth.  We had seen her a few times during the previous four months and she had always inquired about Veronica’s progress.  It meant so much to see the two of them, to thank them and to show them how well Veronica had done.    

Dr. Macri, Veronica, Beverly
Jenny, Veronica, Beverly
Beverly escorted me and Veronica out of the hospital where we met Andrew, who had the car.  We said our goodbyes and thank yous to Beverly and then put Veronica in the car.  And just like that, that was it. I knew at that point there was no turning back.  After 119 days, we were on our own now and it felt wonderful.

On the way home.
One of my favorite parts of that day was when we had almost made our way home.  As we turned onto our street, I could see our other five children in the yard.  They were all wearing their "Veronica" shirts, ones they had made several weeks earlier in support of their sister.  They noticed our car and their excitement was evident. They were jumping and yelling.  The pride I felt at that moment is indescribable.  And finally having us all home together was priceless.

Our oldest three, looking in to see Veronica.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Catching Up, New Crib and First Food

Veronica's occupational therapist made her monthly visit last week and while impressed with her progress, she noted that Veronica is "delayed", not just for her actual age which we would expect, but for her adjusted age as well.  I think I already knew this given the fact that she still isn't really rolling over, but I don't think anyone likes to hear that their child is delayed in any way.  For a moment, I felt disappointed but then  reminded myself at just how far she has come.  If on her first day of life, someone would have told me that Veronica's biggest concern 9 months later would be a delay in her motor skills, I would have been thrilled.  It really does seem to be a small price to pay for all that she went through.  So for now, and the foreseeable future, we will work on helping Veronica "catch up" with her peers.  We'll be increasing the frequency of the OT visits from once a month to probably twice a month.  The OT seems to think that she has the potential to catch up by the time she is 2-years-old, or even sooner.  I guess only time will tell....

In other news, we finally moved Veronica out of her bassinet (and our room) into her own crib.  I was hoping this would get her sleeping through the night but, oh well....maybe soon.  She does look awfully cute though, doesn't she?

We also started Veronica on solids yesterday.  For anyone interested, feel free to take a look:

I'll admit I was a little nervous about this since micro-preemies can be prone to feeding issues and oral aversions. She took several bites and seemed content but then started to cry after a few minutes.  Today, she did the same thing but hopefully this won't be a pattern.  We're fortunate, though, that she is still doing great in the weight department which I think gives us a little leeway with solids.

This week Veronica will go in for her fourth synagis shot (out of five) which means we are getting closer to the end of RSV season.  Hooray!