Gotta love family!

We had an absolutely wonderful day yesterday! Uncle Tim, Aunt Susan, Hannah, Olivia, Sophia, Aunt Jean, and my mom and dad all came to visit us. It was a welcome (though slightly chaotic) change around the house. Tim, Susan and the girls brought lunch and just hung out to visit for a few hours. Mom, dad and Aunt Jean stuck around a little longer and went to the hospital in the afternoon with me. Aunt Jean even got to snuggle with Victoria for a little while!

Victoria gained 40 grams yesterday. As the next few days progress, her weight gain may slow down a little bit. This morning, the doctor changed the orders so there's no longer a minimum she has to eat. Prior to this, she would get 46 cc's (unless breastfeeding) - if she didn't take it all from a bottle, they would put the remainder through her feeding tube. Now, they're just leaving it at whatever she'll eat on her own is it. So she may be eating a little less until she gets the hang of it all. It also means no more need for the feeding tube! And check out the hair - getting redder and redder...


Getting closer?!?

Changes seem to be happening now! The doctor changed Victoria's feeding orders from NWA (nipple while awake) to Nq3 (nipple every 3 hours). She still has the feeding tube in, as she's not quite been awake for all her feedings, but we're getting there. Basically the difference now is that the nurses will more actively try to feed Victoria from a bottle versus just if she's awake. Now that I'm nursing more, her weight gain may slow down a little bit. Yesterday she gained 5 grams, but it was enough to push her up to 5-2.

They also discontinued Victoria's reglan (she's been getting it for reflux) the other day, and so far she seems to be tolerating her feedings well on her own.

I called the nursery this morning and was told today she's scheduled to get her Hep-B and Synagis vaccinations. Hearing test is scheduled for tomorrow... All things they do not long before baby is sent home! Just in case, Rod put the car seat in the back seat of my car yesterday. So - if for some reason we're told spur of the moment she can go home, we're ready!!!


Doting on Daddy

What more is there to say about this one???

Victoria gained back the 35 grams she lost on Thursday plus 5. Back up to 5-1.


Are we there yet???

It's so tough not to get impatient in wanting Victoria home with us. We're both just so sick of the hospital, and of only being able to see Victoria a few hours a day. I know, I know. If I had gone full term, she wouldn't even be here yet. But she has been here - 7 weeks now. We're ready for her to come home with us.

I was at the hospital for Victoria's 11am, 2pm and 5 pm feedings yesterday (and pretty much the entire time in between). Rod joined me for her 5pm feeding. She wasn't really awake for her 11am feeding, but the other two went really well.

Weight update: Victoria did lose a little bit yesterday, 35 grams, but we're still above the 5 lb. mark.



I think for little Victoria, the gaining of the weight is not an issue! When Rod and I got to the hospital last night, the nurse told us she weighed Victoria twice because she just didn't think the scale was right. We could tell she hasn't had much exposure to Victoria, because it seems to be a common theme - gaining 10-15 grams one day, and 50-75 grams the next.

That's just what she did. Yesterday's weight gain was 70 grams!!!

5 pounds, 1 ounce!!!!


Finally Daddy can visit!

Rod decided yesterday that he finally felt well enough to head back to the hospital without putting Victoria or any of the other babies at risk of getting sick. I'm sure the visit with Victoria was much overdue for him.

I had a follow-up visit with Dr. Patel this morning - he's the surgeon who took out my appendix and did the repair work on my colon during the surgery. He said everything looks great. The only thing I need to be cautious of is getting a hernia in that spot, as the muscles are always going to be weaker there. Other than that, he's through with me!

Victoria gained 15 grams last night... one step closer - 4-15 now. She is now taking about half of her feedings by mouth - seems like every other one (she gets fed every 3 hours). If she's awake enough, she does great. It just tires her out for a few hours.

Check out the chubby cheeks and double chin!



Almost to 5 pounds! Victoria gained another 55 grams last night, putting her at 4-14! Finally all that good nutrition is paying off!


What's missing from this picture?

I know it's a little tough to tell because Victoria still has the tape on her face, but yesterday morning the doctor ordered that she be taken off the Oxygen!!! I did forget to mention they stopped her caffeine Saturday (which was to help produce the surfactant in her lungs) because she should be big enough to produce it on her own now. She still has little dips (desats), but nothing to be concerned about - she has them with or without her O2, and they only last a few seconds.

She gained 50 grams last night... up to 4-12!!! 5 lbs. is just right around the corner. What a long way we've come in the last 6 weeks.

On a side note, in case you all don't know how much I love and appreciate Rod, I'd like to make it known again. He is the most amazing and wonderful man, and I'm thankful for him every day.


Checking In

Hello everyone. This is Rod with a quick note. I must say it was nice to get booted from my blogger duties because that meant my wonderful wife was feeling well enough to take over. It has been a much better new year to date. Victoria continues to improve in every aspect. Kristin is feeling wonderful, and looking wonderful if I might add. We just can't wait for our darling little girl to come home. Once she does finally come home, it will be our duty to ensure that she does not go back to that damned hospital. Yes, I'm sick of that place!!!

Thanks to my good buddy Chad, I have been sick that past few days and have not been able to go see her. Chad didn't think he was sick...cough cough cough...I should have known better. :) Hopefully I will be able to go up there either Monday or Tuesday.

I wanted to say Hi to Joslyn and her family, and Tika and her family, if you happen to be checking the blog. Thanks for the cards and the encouraging notes! Also, thanks to Rich, Cyndi, and Jordyn. They have been over to visit about a half dozen times since the latest incident. Most recently they brought a ton of clothes, shoes, and hats for baby Victoria. Kristin especially loves the pink and gray Nike tennis shoes. I would like everyone to wish/pray (whatever you do) that Rich gets the Essexville/Saginaw station as his next duty assignment. This would mean that we all get to stay closer together and Jordyn and Victoria get to play together for at least a few more years....and it would provide me with a much needed 2 guard for my basketball team!!! Mio Thunderbolts baby!!

Leaving you with a cool pic that Kristin took the other day.

I just wanna hug!

Not too much to report today. Victoria gained 20 grams last night, so she's now 4-11. Busha came for a brief visit Friday, and Grandma Penny is coming to visit today. Gotta love the grandmas!!!



I don't know whether to be proud or scared! One thing's for sure - I think I know part of the reason Victoria had such a big weight gain the day before last!

Yesterday morning when my mom and I got to the NICU, we were promptly told by the nurse that Victoria had the "biggest poop I've ever seen since working up here!!!" Not only did it come out of the diaper and soil her outfit, it soiled the 3-4 layers of blankets under her and the isolette sheet, too! So, she got kind of an impromptu bath and a fresh set of linens and clothes.

After that, I thought for sure we woudn't have a gain yesterday, but we did - 15 grams. Victoria is now up to 4 pounds, 10 ounces - so close to 5 pounds!

I told Suki, one of the midwives at Women's Ob/Gyn, that our philosophy has been and will continue to be that we're not going to worry about something until the doctor tells us we should worry. The nurses sometimes get us worked up over things, and in almost all cases, the Doctor (normally Dr. Chai) reassures us that it's perfectly normal and to be expected.

There is one small exception to this so far with Victoria. Her last eye exam (done by a specialist every two weeks or so) showed a little bit of ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) in her left eye. This is fairly common in premies, and often corrects itself. It could, though, lead to a lazy eye, wandering eye, etc. Most of these can be corrected when caught. Right now, the doctor is just going to check her every two weeks and keep an eye on it (no pun intended). The news didn't totally surprise me, given the Reinhard (my mom's) family history of eye problems. So I'm not too concerned, but thought maybe some prayers could be directed specifically toward that.

Oh- for those of you who were a little concerned by yesterday's picture before you realized what it was, here's a more recent comparison of her chubby little legs. I know it's not the same angle, and it's from three weeks ago, but you can definitely see the change!



I want to take the time to thank everyone who has sent cards, gifts, called, or just wished us well in their own way. I truly believe all the positive energy from friends and family are helping both Victoria and me get stronger and stronger every day, and they help Rod stay strong for us.

I had an absolutely wonderful visit with the Morley gang yesterday - I miss you guys! Thanks to all of you for your concern and support. It really means a lot to me.

Now on to the Victoria update...
She gained 70 grams yesterday, so she's now 4-9. I got to nurse her twice yesterday, at 11am, and at 8pm, and we did pretty well. Surprisingly, after nursing, we try to give her a bottle with an estimated amount of what she'd still need, and she wants nothing to do with the bottle! I think mostly this is just a result of her being so tired out from trying to nurse. We'll get the hang of it soon!

Dr. Chai reiterated yesterday that really the only thing we have to focus on is getting Victoria to take all her feedings by mouth. Once that is happening on a regular basis, we're pretty close to going into a crib!

As much as we want to throw a big party to celebrate her homecoming (whenever that may be), we've been advised not to have anybody over until at least summer. It's a long time to wait to celebrate, but well worth it if we can keep Victoria growing strong and healthy!

She's changed so much in 6 weeks! Here's a reminder photo from a few days after she was born.


I know, I know!!!

Boy, oh, boy! I forget one morning to update the blog and I catch heck for it!!!

Not too much has changed around the NICU. Victoria lost a little bit of weight yesterday (20 grams), but we were told that her weight will fluctuate as I start nursing more, as they aren't able to tell how much she's getting when she nurses.

I'm finally allowed to drive! I spent a few hours up in the NICU yesterday during the day, and another few today - trying to get some good quality time in with my baby girl. Now that I can drive again, I'm going to try to get back into the routine of visiting the NICU in the morning while Rod's sleeping, then we'll go back in the afternoon or evening again once he's up and ready. Thank goodness I've got time off work to do that much!

Here's today's picture - I think she looks just like her cousin Faith - must be the cute button nose and chubby cheeks!


First Bottle

After what I would call a successful nursing session yesterday afternoon, we (Rod and I and the nurse) decided that Victoria should still get half of her regular feeding, just to make sure she got enough. So... her ordered amount to get at a feeding when we're not there is 36cc's. The nurse put 15cc's into a bottle, and Rod got to give Victoria her first real bottle feeding. Not only did she down the 15cc's, but another 15 after that! So her appetite is growing!

Since I gave the okay to bottle feed when we're not there, the doctor wrote an order to bottle feed her while she's awake (if she's sleeping, they'll still feed her through the tube). I spoke with her nurse after Victoria's next feeding, and she had been awake and took the entire amount by bottle!

This is a huge step in the right direction for all of us. I think maybe I'm starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel!

Weight gain update: up another 40 grams last night, to 4 lbs, 8 oz!


On a side note...

Congratulations to Dan and Gina on the birth of their little girl, Greer! I don't know any more details than that (I'm sure she already weighs more than Victoria), but heard everyone is doing well, and Gina enjoyed a nice short delivery (hopefully this time you got the drugs, if you wanted them, Gina!). Seems like not that long ago that Rod and I visited you in the hospital when you had Easton.

Just the cutest thing ever!!!

Okay, so we're a little biased, but how dang cute is Victoria in this little outfit???

Things seem to be moving along smoothly now. She gained 35 grams yesterday (putting her at 1990 grams, or 4 lbs, 6 oz). Once she hits 2000 grams, they consider her big enough to get the Hepatitis B shot, and possibly move into a crib. It's kind of a chain reaction thing.

I gave the okay for her to be bottle fed when we're not there. I'm fairly confident that we won't have a problem with nursing, the way things have been going. Plus, if she's bottle fed instead of tube-fed, she'll get a lot more hands-on attention up in the NICU. Once she's taking her meals by mouth and not the tube, she'll be moved to the crib. That's when she'll get the Hep. shot, and they'll monitor her to see if she's doing okay maintaining her body temp.

Then, from what we've observed of other babies up in the NICU, she'll only be in the crib a few days before they send her home! There is the possibility that she could be sent home on a monitor, or even on oxygen, but just to have her home would be amazing. Though, had I gone full term, we'd still have another month to wait!


Aunt Bo (Jody)

Aunt Bo came for a visit yesterday. Victoria and I very much enjoyed her company (Rod, too, of course!). We had a great visit, and an okay dinner (sorry it wasn't as good as it used to be, Bo!).

Victoria gained 10 grams yesterday, so she's still 4 lbs, 5 oz.



Rod and I went to the hospital yesterday morning, to try to catch Victoria when she was awake. We were successful in that endeavor, and a little bit successful with the nursing!

We soon, like many parents with children in the NICU, will be faced with the difficult decision of slowly getting Victoria to breast feed successfully most of the time, or letting the nurses bottle feed her. At first, the choice seems so simple. But for most babies, bottle feeding is easier, they catch on more quickly, and could potentially come home sooner once they get the hang of it.

I didn't think the difficult decisions started until kids got older!!!

As far as Victoria's weight, she gained 75 grams last night (of course, she had two pretty stinky diapers after that!) and officially is up to 4-5; one pound more than when she was born!!!


Not the ideal situation...

But we're going to try to make it work as best we can.

I got to try to nurse Victoria last night. There are some obstacles to overcome, like having all sorts of wires hooked up to her, and the fact that it was later in the afternoon, which meant she was pretty sleepy. I'd say it went as well as I could have hoped for, for a first attempt. We are of course going to continue to try, hopefully we can get over there earlier today and catch her awake.

BTW, no - that's not a nicotine patch on my arm. That's the lovely little estrogen patch I get to wear all the time and change twice a week for the next ? years.


Over the hump

I was beginning to think Victoria would just hang out around 4 lbs. forever, but yesterday she gained another 35 grams, putting her at 4-2! We're keeping our fingers crossed that I'll get to start breast feeding soon!


Getting bigger every day

The only news I have to report from yesterday is that Victoria gained another 35 grams, so she's back up to the 4lb mark! She is now getting 30 cc's of breast milk at each feeding, and she seems to be tolerating the Human Milk Fortifier they add for extra calories.

Grow, baby, grow!!!


No news is good news

We don't have much to update today, not too much has changed. Victoria gained back 40 grams last night. We found out when we were there yesterday that they changed her isolette (the incubator bed she's in), so we think that may have had something to do with the seemingly extreme loss the other night, as the scales are right in the bed. Either way, as long as she continues the upward trend for weight gain, that's what counts the most.

We're getting excited that in the next few days I may get to try nursing Victoria, once the antibiotics are out of my system. I'm not fooling myself and thinking that it's going to go flawlessly, but really can't wait to experience breast feeding and getting to hold Victoria so close.

Every day we all grow stronger!


Kristin's turn to take over (again!)

Well, I'm back on blog duty, hopefully for good. I had a follow up appointment with Dr. Jones today to make sure my incision looked okay. She said everything looks great, and I'm progressing as she had expected. Good news there!

My mom and dad (Jaj and busha) came up to visit Victoria and to have dinner with Rod and me at the house today. It was nice to have a long visit outside a hospital room!

Victoria looked good today, with no major changes to report. It sounds like they might try to wean her off the oxygen within the next day or so, but we'll see how it goes. She did lose 70 grams today, so she's back down to 3-14, but that's okay. Nothing to worry about. Dr. Chai ordered that they start adding a calorie additive to the breast milk she's getting, and that should help her start packing on the pounds soon!

Here's a pic of Victoria, just chillin', suckin' on the pacifier. She's so dang cute!!!


4 Pounds!

Today, Penny, Diane Szabo, Kristin, and I went to NICU to visit Victoria. She was extremely active and her bloated belly had gone down. After spending some time with her and giving her a bath we all went out to lunch. Thanks to Diane for all you have done for us, and thanks to Bob for the cookies! At 8 PM Kristin called the NICU and learned that Victoria had gained another 40 grams and had gone over the 4 pound mark. Hopefully she can continue to grow without any more setbacks.

Kristin's note: BTW, we talked to Dr. Chai this morning, and he explained that the bright green poop is nothing to worry about. Yay!

Fluorescent Green

On Saturday the nurses at NICU noticed Victroia's belly getting bloated again. She also had a poop that was described as being fluorescent green in color. They did a CBC to check for infection, however all of her blood levels appeared fine. At this point, they will just continue to monitor her. I read on the net that green poop can result from iron not being broken down. Sometimes due to infection. Coincidentally, Kristin was sent home on an iron pill each day since the baby was born. Hmmm. She also did not make 4 pounds, but for good reason. They removed the IV, hopefully for good, and she actally lost 10 grams. We are going to try and make it to the NICU in time to see Dr. Chai today to hear his explanation for the green poop. He has a way of making everything seem like small potatoes. Which is always helpful.


Happy B-Day

Today was Victoria's 1 month B-Day! She continues to do well, and she gained another 10 grams. Not quite pushing her over the 4 pound mark. That should happen tomorrow. Kristin has had her best day yet (since the surgery). She if feeling much better and is using the pain medication less and less. As for me, well I got to go play some ball for the first time in a couple weeks. It was a much needed stress reliever....even though I stunk up the court.


3.15 and counting

Well Kristin is home and feeling better everyday. Dr. Jones ordered that she take it easy the next 6 weeks. We are certainly happy to be home. Today we visited Victoria for a while and later picked up our other kids (Olly and Foxy). Much thanks to Steven, Pam, and Faith for watching them. Tonight we found out that Victoria has gained another 40 grams putting her at 3 lbs. 15 oz. It seems that she is growing at a tremendous rate. Hopefully tomorrow she will surpass the 4 pound mark. That will certainly be cause for celebration.


Together Again

Just a quick note and a picture. This is the first time Kristin has held Victoria in over a week. Today we will spend most of the day in the NICU. Dr. Jones will come to the hospital after her office hours to discharge Kristin. She told us yesterday that her partner could discharge Kristin in the morning. However, both Kristin and I feel much more comfortable with Dr. Jones and we told her we would wait until she was available. That will put us home sometime after 6 or 7 PM Eastern Time. Obviously we will continue to visit Victoria everyday until she is able to come home. Hopefully soon!!


Lets Blow this Popsicle Stand

Dr. Jones was just in to check on Kristin. Since Kristin has progressed so quickly, they felt that she could actually go home tonight. We both decided that we would rather wait until tomorrow so we can visit Victoria a little more easily. Kristin did get to go see Victoria today for the first time in over a week. Sometime tomorrow evening, Dr. Jones will come in and give us all the discharge details. This is obviously great news since we did not expect to be leaving anytime before next week. Kristin is feeling tons better but still a little apprehensive about leaving the hospital before she is ready. Once again, Thanks to everyone that has either left an encouraging post, called, or stopped by the hospital to visit. It shows that the two of us have a very strong support structure of friends and family. Kristin would love to have any visitors providing that they have not been sick in the past week or so. After tomorrow, you can all catch us at home or on our cell phones.

"Turn the Page" - Bob Seger

Kristin continues to recover at a steady pace. She had both of the drain traps removed from her abdomen yesterday. Her diet has been advanced and she is eating well. Mr. Vicodin is managing the pain well, however we discovered that it must be taken in order for it to work.....Kristin has been waiting too long between doses. We have increased the number of walks and the length of each. It appears that, if all continues the same, she should be busting out of this joint sometime in the next 2 or 3 days. AWESOME!!!

Victoria is also doing well. She has stayed at 3 lbs. 9 oz. for the past 3 days. They are having problems keeping her IV working in various spots and they have considered placing a PICC line. The NICU sent in samples of Kristin's breast milk from 12-26 and 12-27. Yesterday we learned that the breast milk culture has Staph bacteria. It is possible that Victoria's infection was pass via Kristin's breast milk. So it appears that Kristin's surgery has had some positive effect. If she didn't get so sick the NICU would not have started their preemptive antibiotics and blood cultures. This Staph infection may have gotten out of control if they had waited to see symptoms. Victoria also had a spinal tap yesterday to check for meningitis. This involves removing a small amount of spinal fluid from the base of the spine. Victoria didn't make a peep during the procedure. A few minutes later, Dr. Chai came and told me that the fluid looked good.

It appears that both of my ladies are doing well. I can only hope that this latest trend continues and that I can get them both home soon. I want everyone to know that this is not a JOB to me. I am only doing what Kristin would do for me. My strength comes from her strength. Many of you would be amazed at her ability to tolerate discomfort and have a positive attitude in an overall shitty situation. She is my rock! We are both learning a lot about each other and we know that this event is a springboard to the rest of our lives. Another page. Another chapter. I feel this chapter is nearly over. Now we just have to finish the rest of the novel.


"Today was a good day" - Ice Cube

Lots of changes today and that all appear to be good. Kristin and I both got a little bit of sleep last night, but not much. Early in the morning we learned that Kristin was allowed to start the "post surgical diet". This included a list of soft foods and liquids. She was also able to get the foley catheter removed. After that Kristin took a nice long shower. Feeling like a million bucks we were visited by Dr. Jones who told us that the morphine pump and TPN would also be removed. We also learned that one bag of TPN, which lasts 24 hours, cost $2,500 US. Once again we are laughing all the way to our insurance statement. Later we spoke with Brenda, our RN for the day, who told us we were going to be moved to a different room. Brenda arranged for us to move to a much larger room without a roommate. She told us that she spoke with the charge nurse and requested that we remain by ourselves if at all possible. For this, Brenda earned our FAVORITE NURSE AWARD. With a grand prize of a plate of Penny's no bake cookies. So it appears that tonight we will be able to rest much more comfortably and Kristin continues to feel better each day. Dr. Jones told us that she sees Kristin going back home before next weekend. We are certainly enjoying 2006!

Victoria also had a progressive day. She was returned to small feedings to see if her stomach would tolerate food, which it did. They are still testing Kritin's breast milk to see if it can be used. Hopefully we will have an answer for that question sometime tomorrow. Victoria appears to be doing well and they will do more blood tests in the morning. Last night, shortly after midnight, I went up to the NICU to see and hold my daughter for the first time in 2006. Once I got to her bedside, I noticed a small dark object on her bed near her diaper. I picked it up and quickly discovered that it was her umbilical cord. The picture is her new belly button. Enjoy!