Valentines Day

Im not usually a fan of Valentines…usually because Im married to a practical man who usually isn’t a fan of the traditional cheesy stuff, but I am and usually let myself get disappointed.   And with 3 little boys romance isnt always possible.   However we had a good day.

I insisted we try going out, and since leaving the baby very long is not very feasible, the three of us went out.  After parent teacher conference…romantic huh?  I told him it must have been a good date, I mean he got my shirt off before food arrived.   Ok, so it didn’t exactly go that way.., I nursed the baby to sleep while we waited for our food so even though I ate one handed he was still and quiet.

Friday, actually Valentines Day, I celebrated with 19 Kindergartners…had a blast and enjoyed getting out without babies for a rare treat.  

Friday night I made us all an easy, but nice dinner.  Then we all watched a movie.  

Hubby let me select my own gift at Walmart,  I opted for a new blender for smoothies.   I also got chocolate,  in a bag not a box.   But it was the good stuff. ūüôā

One of my favorite Valentines activities was helping Isaac do all his stuff for school.  Using Pinterest for inspiration we made his Valentines box to look like a Lego,  in his favorite red!  I was proud of it, he didn’t win the contest but we couldn’t compare to the elaborate pink and purple castle.   We gave his teacher a brownie mix in a cute presentation, I figured she had plenty mugs and stuffed animals,  who doesn’t like brownies?  Once Isaac learned about Iron Man Valentines,  nothing homemade would work.., bummer for a mama who loves crafts.  

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The boys all got a little candy and a toy.   Iron Man Lego for Isaac and an Iron Man mask for James (no more sharing!)

James’ Story-77 Days in the NICU

James’ NICU stay is probably more of a blur than Isaac’s.¬† James had fewer issues, but he was smaller.¬† I had a 3 year old at home.¬† I had major surgery.¬† I hadnt emotionally recovered from Isaac’s birth yet.¬† I knew too much.

After James was born, thankfully he and I were in the same hospital.   However, we were on different floors, no room left on 2nd floor, and the recovery rooms there were prioritized for women who could actually have their babies in the room.  When your baby is a preemie, the mother doesnt matter too much, intentional or not.  I had a good breast pump in my room, and hubby and the Daddy across the hall (with twins in NICU) would meet about the same time every night for the bleary eyed milk delivery job.  The first couple days I was so sick I really didnt even feel like going to see him, the wheel chair ride made me sick.  After a day or so I started walking down, riding back.  Then I walked the whole way.  Then I was well enough to go home to the other half of my life.  I was now a mother of two, having to choose between my two sons that were 100 miles apart.  A three year old wondering where mommy was, and a my fragile newborn who I barely knew.

Leaving the hospital that day was hard…I was given instructions to not walk too much, dont travel too much, yet I had a baby in the hospital and a 3 year old at home.¬† I just nodded and was thankful for a prescription pain medication. Life had to go on, I had to manage, the mother didnt matter.¬†¬† I was discharged (which meant they HAD to put me in the car).¬† We went and bought me a new breast pump, and I walked back into hospital I just left to tell James I was leaving.¬† When we stopped at WalMart to fill my prescription I ran into a friend who asked me “whens that baby due?”.¬† Um…November but he’s 4 days old….yes, it happened again…no, I’m not sure why.¬† Yes, he’s doing ok * fake smile and positive attitude* he’ll be home before we know it…

James’ NICU stay was pretty uneventful for a 2lb baby.¬† He had no brain bleeds thanks to the Magnesium Sulfate I was given.¬† One of his eyes was fused shut, just like a puppy, but it opened up fine,his retinopathy cleared up fine.¬† He had no surgeries in the NICU, but was sent home with a “follow up when he’s bigger” surgery appointment.¬† He had bilaterial inguinal hernias, which was quiet disturbing in appearance but were corrected without event when he was 6 months old.

The days blured together.¬† The travel got monotonous.¬† The exhaustion grew. I again,called a lot.¬† I cried.¬† This wasnt supposed to happen twice.¬† I must be the world’s worst mother for this to happen. I failed my children in the most basic need, I couldnt even keep them safe in the womb.¬† I hauled my coolers of milk to Little Rock in 100+ degree heat.

I didnt even bother trying to nurse, I¬† knew how. I nursed Isaac.¬† My sole goal was to get him home and quickly as possible and I knew a bottle would do that fastest.¬† I knew I could figure it out later.¬† He would take bottle better¬† from me than anyone else…so I again took the vow of not going home without him. I left work one afternoon telling my boss I was probably beginning my maternity leave and that I wasnt leaving without him.¬† I was told there wasnt a room in room so¬† I said I’d get a hotel and be there every 3 hours. Next shift nurse found us a room, telling me that this didnt mean we were going home…well he started taking those bottles.¬† We prayed hard.¬†¬† We were told,ok maybe Wednesday.¬† Then the doctor rounded.¬† He said we knew what to do…we were heading home.

77 days. 11¬† weeks¬† August 1 to October 17. . we were taking our 6lb baby home.¬† All my children would¬† sleep under the same roof tonight.¬† We’d be a family of 4.¬† We had survived this ordeal again.¬† We made it.¬† James was taken outside for the¬† first time in his life and placed¬† in the backseat of our car.¬† We pulled out of the parking lot and no one was chasing us for “stealing” a baby.¬† We left Baptist Health NICU for the last time.

First Time Holding James..he was3 weeks old

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My 3 Boys

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First Outfit, which was also Isaac’s first outfit.

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Just a cute little guy, about 2 weeks shy of coming home.

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First few  moments home.  Life feels complete.

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Isaac’s Story-63 Days in NICU

This leg of our journey has been harder for me to write.¬† Parts of it seem such a blur, but parts of it seem so vivd just like yesterday.¬† Strange things have a way of triggering feeling and emotions….pressing 2 on an elevator, the hum of the automatic paper towel dispenser like at the scrub in sink, seeing the Baptist Hospital on the Little Rock skyline…funny how those things can give you a tug and a knot in the pit of your stomach.

Isaac was in the NICU for 63 days.¬† 8 weeks.¬† 2 months.¬† July 29 – October 1.¬† Summer into Fall.¬† In the NICU…2 hours from home, 100 miles away….

I was discharged from the hospital just as soon as I could convice the doctor I was fine.¬† During my short stay at the local hospital I made several phone calls. I called the insurance company and added my child…imagine their shock when they asked when he was born..I said “a few hours ago” and then they confirmed I was the mother?!¬† Yes.¬† My baby isnt here, what else am I going to do?¬† It was the only way I felt in control…take care of stuff…be in charge…I’m the mother, why don’t I feel like it?¬† It was pre-smart phone so I couldnt play online and I wasnt a big texter.¬† Hubby went to take care of a few loose ends at his job so he could be away for a while.¬† I didnt have a breast pump and¬† no one bothered to talk to me about that, guess they thought there was no need.¬† So I sat…alone…a childless mother, totally lost.

Once discharged, we took quick showers,¬† packed quick bags, and headed to Little Rock.¬† We had someone else drive us because we hadn’t slept any.¬† We got to Little Rock, roughly 12 hours after he was born.¬† During one of the only 2, 30 minute time periods you couldnt go into NICU…shift change.¬† I had waited all day to see my baby, and he was on the other side of closed doors while I sat in waiting room….¬† We saw him.¬† he was tiny.¬† He was blue (bruised).¬† And machines were breathing for him.¬† He was beautiful.¬† He had a cute upturned nose.¬† He had a head full of dark hair with a double crown.¬† He looked like me.¬† We were told lots of information I’m not sure¬† I heard.¬† We left to go home, re-group, and come back to stay in town for a while.¬† I was told to call any time I wanted…I called a lot.¬† On the way home we stopped at Target and purchased a breastpump.¬† The next morning we developed a love/hate relationship and I began the journey of nourishing my child…with milk he wouldnt receive for a few more weeks.¬† But it was something that mothers did, and I was a mother…and one day I’d feel like it.

We spent first week in Little Rock.¬† We learned lots of terms like: Intraventicular Hemorrhage, which is a brain bleed that presents on 4 levels…1 being minor, 4 being the worst..in the coming weeks we would learn he had a grade 2, then a grade3, then a grade 2, then it would be gone.¬† Retinopathy of Prematurity, which is where babies retinas arent attached yet because they arent ready to be born, in the coming months he’d have regular check ups by the eye doctor, even after he came home.¬† But we would later learn he had perfect vision and was normal.¬† Patent Ductus Arteriosis, PDA…the valve in the heart that connects baby to mother, its supposed to close, when it doesnt they medicate, we medicated, our baby was sick, the meds werent working….then one day, about halfway to Little Rock for a visit we were told he needed surgery…he was weak and sick and the valved needed closing…surgery would be first thing in the morning.¬† So after a visit we went to WalMart and bought toothbrushes and deoderant and clean clothes and spent the night in a small sleep room so we’d be there.¬† The night before the nurse let us hold him…it was still pretty early for that but with surgery there is always a risk…and they like to let parents have the chance to hold their child…just in case.¬† He was almost two weeks old.¬† I¬† removed my shirt and wore a gown.¬† He snuggled on my chest for a few hours.¬† It was one of the best moments in my life…I could¬† smell his head, feel his cheek.¬† He was mine.¬† The world stopped…I was¬† a mom….I was his mother….he was my child.

Surgery was uneventful, took less than 30 minutes and he began immediate improvement.¬† His color got better.¬† He was irritable.¬† He started weaning off meds.¬† He got milk.¬† He¬† started trying to take a bottle.¬† He got to try to nurse.¬† The¬† trip became routine.¬† The exhaustion grew.¬† The impatience grew.¬† I took him clothes and washed his clothes…it made me feel like I was really a mom.¬† I called first thing every morning.¬† I called at my lunch break ( I was back at work parttime). I called when I got off. I called when I¬† went to bed.¬† I called when I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare.¬† I called when I pumped…and pumped..and pumped.¬†¬† Then one weekend I had had enough…I asked if we¬† could room in and try nursing more often..we walked into the unit and he looked at us and yanked out hid feed tube…it never went back in….nursing didint¬† go so great, doctors want numbers and schedules.¬† So we tried bottles, I’d figure out how to nurse him when we got home…..and I had a talk with him…pleaded with him to show them he could do it and come home.¬† I prayed really hard..and vowed to not leave the hospital without my baby.¬† It took about a week but he started taking those bottles…I’d pray through every one….come on…40 oz in 30 minutes…dont spit up.¬† I was on pins and needles every bottle.¬† Then one night the nurses started pulling the equipment out of his room.¬†¬† The doctor came in the next morning , we had our bags packed.¬† He asked us if we were going somewhere…I told him “home I hope”.¬† He started the paperwork….

I held my breath through the hall…was this really happening?¬† We got on the elevator..the doors closed…no one ran out and stopped us.¬† We put him in the car…still no one chasing us yelling.¬† We pulled out of the parking lot…I checked behind us…¬† We got on Interstate…they were really letting us take this 6 1/2 pound baby home.¬† Home. A family of 3.

A Family of Three (he’s a couple days old here)

Family of 3

 

First Time I Held Him (Almost 2 weeks old)

 

 

 

 

 

Mom

 

 

About a Month Old, his first taste of milk.

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny Boy

 

Going Home!

 

 

 

Going Home

First Few Days at Home

At Home

Potato Soup Recipe

Its cold and snowy today here in Arkansas, calling for a weeknof this mess.  Perfect weather…for soup that is.
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My potato soup recipe came from learning how to make it at a little mom and pop restaurant where I worked.   Now Im not sure this is her exact recipe but I do it this way, it works, we like it!  Sometimes I add some diced cooked ham or broccoli,  its easy to mix it up.

Sorry for lack of measurements, I usually just do it based on how much looks like enough.

Dice potatoes (I did about 6 medium ones), a couple carrots, a couple stalks of celery.   Cover in just enough chicken broth to cover.  Simmer until tender.
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When tender, run a potato masher through it.  Dont puree it just to thicken. 
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Then add enough milk to make “soupy”.  Salt and pepper to taste.  And about 8oz cubed Velveeta.  (You can use cheddar but Velveeta melts pretty).
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Cook on low until cheese melted.  Add more milk if too thick.  Right before serving add about a cup of sour cream.  Top with diced bacon, and any other favorite toppings.
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