Thursday, April 16

Austin's Well Visit

Austin ready for the neighborhood Easter egg hunt
Bradley on his new play set. He loves it! Austin doing some tummy time while hanging out with his big brother
Bradley is a wonderful big brother!
So, Austin had a well visit today which was equivalent to a full term baby's 4 month well visit. He got his 2nd round of immunizations, and we were disappointed to hear that it has been too long since his birth for the oral Rhotavirus vaccine. So hopefully he won't get that; just something else that causes us to take extra precautions. Austin had some rough apnea spells while in the NICU with his first round of immunizations. Please pray we don't go through that this time! We are going to give him more Lasix as Dr. Baggett said his lungs sound wet. This is a common problem with Chronic Lung Disease; babies retain fluid on their lungs. Austin is about 20 inches long and weighs 9lbs 5 oz! Dr. Baggett expects him to catch up on the growth chart for his chronological age by 9 months if he continues with this growth pattern; that is very impressive. Preemies generally don't catch up in size until their 2nd birthday. As far as the preemie chart, which goes by his gesational age, he is almost in the 50th percentile for weight and about 10th percentile for height. He wasn't even on that growth chart when he left the NICU, so we're very pleased. Dr. Baggett was pleased with how Austin is holding his head up and the few smiles he has given us. We went to the eye doctor the other day, and he still has a Grade 1 ROP. So, that is good that it hasn't worsened. And, we're so excited to say that Austin has been released from "house arrest"! So, we're now accepting visitors and we can go places. However, we still must follow some of the rules. Here are the new rules: you must not have any signs of infections (fever, congestion, runny nose, vommitting and other GI symptoms, cough, and etc) for 3 days, you can't touch Austin or get in his face, no shoes in our home, and you must wash your hands when you enter our home. So, just give us a call ahead of time.

Sunday, April 12

Easter & We're Home!

Bradley enjoying a special treat (only because he ate his supper) from Papa & Nanny
Where is that paci?
Sound asleep while the Easter Bunny leaves his "goodies"
Bradley hunting eggs on Easter
Treats from the "Easter Bunny"
We came home earlier today around 2pm! Austin is doing well, but we still can't wean him below an 1/8 liter. He might need another dose of Lasix, but that is something we should be able to do outside the hospital hopefully. He will go to the pediatrician this Thursday for his 2nd round of immunizations. He also has an eye appointment Tuesday and an appointment with his EI Wednesday.
We were able to spend Easter together as a family. The Easter Bunny came to visit the boys a little late, during Bradley's nap. So, we got to enjoy that together. Bradley received a cage for catching bugs and a magnifying glass to help find them. He also got a Snoopy DVD, a couple of shirts (he especially loved one with a dump truck on it), and a little bit of chocolate. Chocolate is his reward for going potty. The Hawkins grandparents gave him a bubble machine and Wickers brought him a special treat too. The Easter Bunny brought Austin a couple of cute outfits (he is wearing 0-3 month clothes now! :-) ), a new rattle and key chain, and The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton. Part of Bradley's nighttime routine is us reciting Pajama Time by the same author. It has always worked well; we've been doing that since Bradley was about 3 months old. So, I thought if very fitting when I saw another nighttime book by her. The Hawkins grandparents gave Austin a book of the story of the 1st Easter and the Wickers brought him some goodies too. We did an Easter egg hunt for Bradley and were able to do that after his nap before dinner. We had planned to dye eggs, but we ran out of time. So, as silly as it seems we'll probably do that in the next couple of nights. We already have a Mickey Mouse kit to do it and the boiled eggs.
So, I just wanted to let everyone know to praise the Lord that we're home! We have a busy week ahead of us, but that is just fine as long as we stay healthy. Oh, Austin was also able to get the Synagis shot for RSV while in the hospital. He was due at the beginning of April, but Blue Cross decided it was after the RSV season and he couldn't get it. However, now they've realized that RSV season isn't over. So, thankfully we got that. It doesn't guarantee that he can't get RSV, but it helps prevent against severe RSV. That was one positive to the hospital stay! Always have to find the positive side of things and be thankful for the blessing the Lord gives us!

Friday, April 10

Can't believe we're back

Austin has had some problems with feedings over the last couple of weeks which worsened over the last few days. Then, yesterday I thought he looked a little blue. So, I hooked him up to the pulse ox and found that his O2 sats were very low (40- 50's). Chris came home and we had to turn up his oxygen from 1/32 of a liter to 1 1/2 to get him to pink back up and start sating in the 90's where he should be. After speaking with the pediatrician and pulmonologist on call we decided to bring him to Richland's ER where they decided to admit him for observation. They seem to think this was caused by his reflux, but after much talk they are going to give him a dose of Lasix. He had trouble with keeping fluid on his lungs while in the NICU. This is caused by his Chronic Lung Disease. We have been able to turn him down to 1/2 liter, but have been unable to wean any further. That post was started last night, now I'm posting this Saturday around 1:30pm. He is doing much better on his O2 requirements since the Lasix. He is down to 1/8L, which is the lowest they can turn a child down on the peds floor. So, we're pleased with that. Thankfully, one of his NICU nurses gave us that bit of knowledge so we could continue to push the pediatric residents and Attending Physicians It has been very frustrating, because Austin has been out of the NICU too long to return. So, now he is being seen by physicians that don't know him and have a totally different way of thinking. Austin's pediatric group doesn't see patients in the hospital, but Dr. Baggett called and spoke to the attending up here. I think she was also instrumental in pushing them to figure something out. After she called they said that the they were calling in Austin's pulmonologist to see him. He hasn't been by today yet. So, that is that par. Now, they're saying that his blood culture grew out a bacteria. So, now he is on IV antibiotics and will be here at least another day until Easter. They feel that he doesn't actually have an infection and that it was a contamination from his skin. However, they drew blood again and have to wait and see if that grows anything out. Austin is acting much better. He is breathing better and looks all pink in color. He is eating better with very little spit-up, but we know babies spit up occasionally. So, we do expect some, but he had been spitting huge amounts. So, I just wanted to update everyone. Thank you so much for the prayers and please continue to pray. We can't stand being here and most importantly watching Austin endure more after going through so much already. We aren't familiar with the pediatricians and staff in the Children's Hospital. Please pray for the knowledge and willingness to listen to us since we know him best. Please pray for Chris and I to be calm and be able to deal with being back here. Someone must stay with Austin at all times, so pray that Bradley handles being away from one or both of us. He was just starting to get use to our new "normal". Pray that we get to home early tomorrow morning to celebrate Christ' being awesome as a family. Thank you for the prayers and support! It's so good to feel God's love through all of your calls and emails. God is good and while this has been upsetting and scary it could have been worse. The pediatric staff has told us that Ausitn will be in and out of the hospital over the first 2 years of his life. He is a strong little boy, so please keep praying that he continues to be strong so we can all watch him grow. We'll try to keep y'all updated. Wishing everyone a Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 4

Our two BIG boys!

We do have two big boys, but in different ways. Bradley is a big boy, because he has officially taken over as Austin's protector. He now tells people "don't to get too close" to his brother as he is repeating what Chris and I say when we're outside or at doctor's appointments. He is stil doing well with Austin and loves him very much. Austin is a big boy too as he was 8lbs 2.5 oz at his weight check yesterday! He was 43 weeks gestation yesterday and is 4 1/2 months old. We got good news this past week that Ausitn's ROP has improved to a Grade I, and the doctor said that is a huge improvement. He said he still has a long way to go until his retina mature, so he'll continued to be followed closely. We go back in 2 weeks. We also, after a rough week last week, found out that Austin has a protein allergy. We are unsure if this is milk, soy, or both. So, he has been put on Neocate formula the most pure, broken down formula. At this point he can't use my milk that is occupying our entire deep freezer, but we are hopeful that after 4-6 months of this diet he can try it again. Breastmilk is so important for babies, so we really want to use it (plus the fact that I worked hard for that stuff!). We saw Austin's gastroenterologist this past week, and he was pleased that regardless of Ausitn's protein allergy and reflux he has still continued to gain weight. He claims that his reflux will improve, but we are still having problems with it are still using 3 medications to try to control it. Austin has continued to spit-up a good amount over the last few days. Bradley had a lot of trouble with reflux too (and had a milk protein allergy that he thankfully outgrew as Austin should too- we're praying), so we're just haning in there and know it should get better eventually. As long as Austin gains weight and the reflux doesn't harm his lungs we don't want to do anything too drastic. Austin's physical therapist came this past week, and told me some things to do to work with Austin. She will come back in about 5 weeks and wants to see more head control and some smiling. We're going to work on tummy time with him to strengthen his upper body muscles, work on keeping his arms and head midline, and try to prevent him from turning his head to the right so much. A preemie, especially one born as early as Austin, can be developmentally behind even for their gestational age. We still don't know what Austin is capable of after suffering the brain bleed, but the idea is to intervene as early as possible to give him the best chance at a "normal" life. We're going to attempt to go to an Easter egg hunt tomorrow in our neighborhood. I know Bradley will love it. Plus, we went to the flower show out at the Farmer's Market yesterday. We have been going for lots of walks in the evenings, so Bradley and I aren't so stir crazy. Chris and I have both spent some one-on-one time with Bradley outside this past week. We have purchased a swing set for the boys that should be installed in the next couple of weeks. Bradley is so excited about it as it was his birthday present and has been patiently waiting for it. We've also bought a storage building that will be built in a couple of weeks. Plus, one of the sweet respiratory therapist from the NICU does gorgeous landscaping designs (let me know if you want her info). She is designing our backyard for us since we haven't had a chance to do anything to it yet. She'll draw up the plan, and it will take a few years to get everything planted as we'll do the labor. Our goal is to put in an irrigation system and lay the sod this year. Anyone want to help lay some sod in the next couple of months? :-) We can offer a good meal for a reward! I know God knew what he was doing when he lent us these two boys. We're an active family that loves the outdoors. We look forward to many good days with our big boys in our backyard!