I'm working my way through my extensive to do list and updating the blog is a big one I'm really excited to check off (and much preferred to tackling all the thank you notes this evening--I'll take that one on later in the weekend).
Almost 7 weeks ago we welcomed our beautiful little (emphasis on LITTLE) girl into our family, Miya Christine Solis. It was a crazy few weeks leading up to her arrival and, as expected, an exhausting 7 weeks since her birth, but we are beyond thrilled to finally have our little princesa in our home!
On Wednesday July 27, a month before my due date, I headed off to another day of work sitting in professional development sessions, not exactly ideal for a 9 month pregnant woman with an aching lower back and very swollen feet. During the morning break I headed out to take care of an issue needing my attention at the school district's central office, but on the way suddenly felt pretty nauseous and felt a big headache coming on. These were out of the ordinary symptoms that I worried might indicate high blood pressure, something I suffered from at the very end of my pregnancy with Michael and was the reason I had to be induced. I decided to play it safe and headed by my doctor's office to have them take my vitals and just rule anything out. I could tell from the nurse's face when looking at my numbers that my BP was high. It was--initially 158/106, later dropping to 147/97 after I'd been lying down for a little while. In addition, I'd packed on a whopping 10 lbs in just 2 weeks (after gaining only 20 lbs total my entire pregnancy) and my edema had--in the past three or four days--taken only slightly swollen hands and feet and turned them into bloated eyesores. The doctor feared preeclampsia so she sent me to the hospital for 24 hour monitoring.
I was glad my doctor was being so attentive and cautious (one of the major reasons I switched from my previous doctor and began to visit her this pregnancy). I headed straight to the hospital, texting to Serg to meet me there. During the 24 hour monitoring, they hook you up to an IV, take your blood pressure every 20 minutes, and test all of your urine for proteins. They also did a full check of the baby via ultrasound--found all to be well but, as had been the case for the past 2 or 3 ultrasounds, found the baby to be much smaller than she should be at this stage. This continued to be a bit of a worry and a mystery to me. The doctor didn't seem incredibly concerned but was a bit puzzled when, until now, my blood pressure had been good.
So, this is all done in a Labor & Delivery room, on a bed that's meant to have a baby in, NOT sleep in...seriously one of the most uncomfortable night's sleeps ever! My BP stabilized with bed rest so I was glad to get the go-ahead to head home but was put on strict bedrest until I reached 37 weeks when the baby was full term--that meant almost 2 weeks of doing absolutely nothing. We decided that I'd stay with my in laws where Carmen could help watch Michael after daycare in the afternoons and evenings until Serg came home from work to pick him up. She was also able to cook for me which was such a blessing. I was able to spend my two weeks hardly sitting or standing or moving much of a muscle for that matter! I watched a LOT of TV and did a LOT of emailing/facebooking/random internet surfing on my phone. I purchased a blood pressure monitor and, as long as I was lying down, my blood pressure hovered just under where the doctor wanted it to remain. I was able to make it to 37 weeks! Oh, and did I mention that Serg (with lots of help from family and friends) moved us into a new house while I was on bedrest? Augh!! Tough on him and also frustrating for me to know everything was being packed and moved without me (read: without my supervision). I wondered how many things would consequently be lost to us for months--simply because I wouldn't know where they'd been put. Ah well, worse things could happen.
On the morning of August 8th, I met with my doctor who gave me my hospital orders and then went to Women's Hospital at Renaissance where I registered and headed to pre-op to prepare for surgery.
The c-section went without a hitch, though throughout the surgery my upper body (what wasn't numb) was shaking terribly. I chalked it up to nerves but during recovery mentioned it to one of the nurses and she immediately said it was a reaction to the anesthesia. She gave me something for it and within minutes I was calm as could be.
I suppose it's what every mother waits to hear during her child's birth, but it seems like the more cause you have for concern, the harder you pray for that first cry to come and to come loud. Miya did not disappoint! That girl announced her arrival with some incredibly loud crying. As with Michael, tears streamed down my cheeks and I offered a silent prayer of thanks to the Lord. I watched as they whisked her over to the incubator to clean her up and quickly check everything. It was clear that she was incredibly tiny, and I anxiously waited to hear the verdict, crossing my fingers she'd clear 5 lbs and avoid having to spend time in the NICU. No such luck. She weighed in at 4 lbs 8 oz and measured just 16.5 inches long. In everything else she appeared completely healthy--blessings!
She was carted immediately off to the NICU and Serg headed out with them. As the doctor cleaned and sewed me up she said that the umbilical cord looked abnormally small and that this may have been what caused her low birthweight. It makes me wonder if the same thing happened with Michael, though no mention of it was made during that surgery. I may see if there's a way to check the records and see if this contributed to them both being so small.
While it's never easy to have to wait so long to hold your baby (this time I had to wait until the next morning to be able to go to the NICU to see and hold her), it was relieving to know she was in good hands and being monitored VERY carefully. That made waiting almost 24 hours a little more bearable.
I pumped through the night to send little tiny bits of colustrum up to the NICU. They poured the drops into a tiny nipple and let her suck it before supplementing with formula. I am a huge fan of breastfeeding and its benefits (and just love doing it), so it was difficult to be OK with her bottle feeding at first, but I knew she couldn't afford to lose any weight, so I didn't mess with it. She did seem to latch on at first but once my milk started to come in she struggled. I thought at the time that it was because her mouth was too small but, looking back, it may have been nipple confusion setting in. To this day (6 weeks later) I am pumping exclusively though I may try to transition her back to the breast in a couple more months when she can afford to lose a little bit of weight during the transition.
Holding her for the first time the next morning was nothing short of amazing. At first I felt like a was going to break her and wasn't quite sure how to hold her tiny body. The nurses encouraged me to have as much skin-on-skin contact as possible--good for her and good for my milk supply--so I cuddled her in a "kangaroo hold" under my top. Heavenly.
I went up to the NICU for several feedings and sent up what I pumped when I couldn't. Only parents and grandparents are permitted in the NICU and you have to scrub down and get dressed in a plastic gown, gloves, etc before coming in. Quite the process but we were, of course, happy to oblige.
The neonatologist was perfectly pleased with Miya and she was, miraculously, discharged when I was. Interestingly, discharging a NICU baby is a bit more involved than babies in the regular nursery. They have to do a carseat test--where the baby stays hooked up to all the monitors while sitting in their carseat for an hour or so--to make sure they're strong enough. I had to attend a parent information class where they demonstrated all sorts of newborn techniques and safety procedures (much more effective than the whole "here's a brochure...here's another...and another" approach the information was conveyed with when in the hospital with Michael), and both Serg and I attended a mini-workshop on baby CPR. We watched a video, practiced on a doll, and then had to demonstrate what we had learned (along with other general newborn info and procedures) to Miya's NICU nurse. Then Miya was ours to take home!
As excited as I was to have her come home with me, I was pretty nervous about taking home a 4 lb baby and, honestly, wouldn't have minded much if they'd told me she'd have to stay longer in the NICU. So disconcerting when they are so tiny! However, home she came!
Michael adores his baby sister and wants to be near her constantly. His overzealous adoration needs a little mediation at times (for Miya's protection!) but overall I'm so glad he loves being around her. He has, however, had a bit of a rough transition, regressing back to bathroom accidents, separation anxiety with mommy, and just general grumpiness and yelling at anyone except (and sometimes including!) mommy. 6 weeks later, he's finally emerging from it all, thank goodness! I guess a new house, new sibling, and having Mom gone for weeks on end--all at the same time--can be tough on a little two-turning-three-year-old.
Mum and Dad were in Australia for the summer and when I was put on complete bedrest and told I likely wouldn't go beyond 37 weeks, she changed her original flight and booked a new one that would take her directly from LAX (from Sydney) to Reno (where she spent the night in a hotel to sleep off some jet lag) to Harlingen. Jennifer picked her up and brought her to Mission, and she stayed with us for a couple of weeks. I don't know how I would survive those first weeks with a newborn without her help! She brought all sorts of presents and art and craft projects to do with Michael, and though he was entirely uncooperative at first (remember, he wanted nothing to do with anyone but mommy), he later warmed back up to Grandma Chris and had a wonderful time keeping busy with her while I got all sorts of extra nap time. The first couple of days without her were...um...interesting (who knew 2 little ones could be such a handful on your own?!?) but I've finally settled into a pretty decent routine and even made a decent homemade dinner last night along with everything else. Progress!