Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cooper's one month of life put to song :)

Cooper will be one month old on Tuesday so I just did a little video of some of my favorite pictures from his birth to this weekend. I also threw in some stuff from finding out about his existence and the pregnancy...

It's crazy looking at pictures of his nursery or ultrasound pictures now because (as any dbm knows) I didn't think that I end up with a living, crying, screaming, cooing baby in my arms or my house!

I don't think I could ever do enough or be a good enough person to deserve all this happiness...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A dear friend sent this to me the other day and I wanted to share this with all of you. I hope this warms your heart as much as it did mine...

A baby asked God, "They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?" God said, "Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you."

The child further inquired, "But tell me, here in heaven I don't have to do anything but sing and smile to be happy.." God said, "Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you. And you will feel your angel's love and be very happy."

Again the small child asked, "And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don't know the language?" God said, "Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak."

"And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?" God said, "Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray."

"Who will protect me?" God said, "Your angel will defend you even if it means risking its life..."

"But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore." God said, "Your angel will always talk to you about Me and will teach you the way to come back to Me, even though I will always be next to you."

At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from Earth could be heard and the child hurriedly asked, "God, if I am to leave now, please tell me my angel's name." God said, "You will simply call her, "Mom."

Friday, November 27, 2009

My son is so thoughtful!

We got to the hospital today and there was a Thanksgiving card taped to Cooper's crib:

Needless to say, this made my day :) And, I'll keep this card FOREVER...
OH, and Cooper gave us our first golden shower today! NOW, I really feel like a mommy to a little boy!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cooper's first Thanksgiving...

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! There should be a disclaimer to this post that I am actually EVIL...this beautiful innocent baby was used as a prop in Mommy's sick humor and had me laughing so hard that I almost peed myself...

I always hated "Baby's first " stuff but alas I now purchase them and put them on my baby!
Mommy right before the evil came out...

And, the evilness begins...

Cooper just minding his own busy but this pesky turkey won't leave him alone!

Cooper never woke up during the photo shoot...I'll show these to him when he's a little older :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Today, I was holding Cooper and thinking about the journey of him joining our family. I just sat there feeling his weight in my arms and reflecting on the happiness that just his presence has brought to my life. How content I feel every time I kiss the top of his head and feel his soft hair on my lips. How ecstatic it feels when I feel his chest rise and fall underneath the weight of my hand on his back. I'm thankful to change his diapers during the day and it didn't even bother me when my finger fell into a pile a poop! I pump every 3 hours without (much!) complaint because it means that I'm feeding a living and breathing baby!

I'm thankful beyond words that he arrived here safely and that despite the normal preemie stuff that he's doing so great everyday. I feel blessed to know that he's in good hands even though I can't wait until he's home.

To feel bliss when you've felt the deepest sadness is surreal...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Apnea and reflux...

So, it looks like Coop has apnea and reflux and that is why he has been de-sating recently. Apnea is a medical term that means a baby has stopped breathing. Most experts define apnea of prematurity as a condition in which premature infants stop breathing for 15 to 20 seconds during sleep. Yesterday they gave him a dose of caffeine to keep him from going into so deep a sleep that he forgets to breath...I jokingly asked the doctor if I should up my caffeine intake too since I'm breastfeeding him...

Preemies have those steps forwards and those steps back...this is just something that has to be solved before he can go home. They do send preemies home with apnea monitors and some even go home on a dose of caffeine but I explained to them that I want this issue resolved prior to discharge. I will be lighting up 911 if he goes limp on me like he did on Friday. Thank God this hospital makes you take a CPR and the heimlich maneuver class before you can take a baby home...not that CPR is whats need in this instance but I do feel prepared for an emergency at home.

Cooper is now 18 inches long!

And, now weighs 4 pounds 12.8 ounces...

I did buy him a musical toy for his bed this week and he really loves it. He just watches the little monkey and frog go back and forth. It's so cute!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A stressful day...

Yesterday, I walked into Cooper's pod and his pulse ox was 64 and no one was there to respond. A pager is supposed to go off anytime that his pulse ox falls below 80 but no pagers are going off. I start ripping off his blankets to rile him up because that gets the oxygen back moving and nothing. The nurse takes over and puts a little oxygen mask close to his face (called a blow by machine) and is thumping his foot to get him to cry. By this time he is this wierd whitish color and he is limp. Do I need to tell you how I was feeling at this moment? After what felt like forever but was probably more like a minute, he was back to his normal self.

WHY THE HELL WASN'T THE PAGER WORKING??????!!!!!!!!!!??????????? And, why was I the first to respond?????

After the fear wore off the anger moved in...

The nurses spent the rest of the day trying to reassure me that they were working on the pager system but that they had his monitor pulled up in every baby's pod and that this would never happen again.

Literally, I'm there at his bedside for 8-10 hours a day...and, I still have guilt that I'm not there enough...and, now that guilt has multiplied. How long was my boy having problems breathing??? They assure me that it had just started happening when I walked into his pod...well, thank God then that I walked in at that exact moment!

It appears that he's just having reflux issues so they have dropped his by mouth feedings to 2 times a day (baby step back) and are going to space his NG feedings over a 90 minute span instead of a 60 minute span. Hopefully, these two steps will stop this from every happening again. His pulse ox dropping is normal when it goes into the high 80's when he's stretching and pooping because he's working harder but not in the 60's...

So, I've gotta go get ready to go to the hospital...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The birthstory...about time, eh?

This is me and Cooper about 15 hours before he was born. I love Halloween and wanted to celebrate in a special way since it also coincided with turning 31 weeks! We painted my baby bump and passed out candy to the nurses...who knew that the next morning would bring so many surprises!

I woke up on November 1, 2009 with a terrible backache but I thought that maybe I had just slept wrong and if I got up and moved around that I would start to feel better. I thought that maybe I should mention this to my nurse after an hour of constant back pain and noticing that Cooper wasn't moving around as much. Cooper was always very active so this alarmed me even after taking a sip or two of Coke and he still wouldn't move much. So, my nurse decides to go ahead and put me on the monitor to see if I was having any contractions. Remember how I wasn't allowed more than 3 contractions in an hour time span? When I got hooked up to the monitor it was discovered that I was having contractions EVERY 3 MINUTES! Heck, I had never been in labor before so how the heck was I supposed to know!?! (I had an emergency c-section with Lily).

I had called my hubby when I woke up and mentioned the back pain but assured him that all was well and to come to the hospital after he finished my laundry. Imagine his surprise when I called him back to tell him that we were going to have a baby that day and to come to the hospital immediately.

I give amazing kudos to the teamwork on the high-risk floor because I was down in the labor and delivery within 5 minutes. My surgery was actually done in the main hospital's operating room because it was too invasive of a procedure for L&D. My hubby made it from our home to the hospital in 8 minutes (scary because it normally takes 20 minutes!) and made it in time to take a pic and give me a kiss...
Good gracious~ I look crazy bloated (which is a nice word for fat but I did have a baby!)

They had to do everything to me while I was awake due to the fact that they needed to get Cooper out of me as quickly as possible because I would be asleep for the c-section and hysterectomy. The anesthesiologist was so nice as he put the picc-line into my sub clavicle area and the arterial line into my wrist...for the record, I acted like a big girl in front of the professionals but that crap hurt like hell...and, he was even more nice as he talked to me while I feel asleep and the last words that I remember him saying were "you're going to have a beautiful baby boy when you wake up..."

Which is why my first words when I woke up (whenever that was!) were "is it a boy?" My hubby was there in recovery to show me a picture of our sweet baby boy that required no intubation and just a c-pap at birth. My hubby's face was priceless as he told me that Cooper weighed 4 lbs. and was 16 and a half inches long. This was my first glimpse of my boy....

His lungs worked wonderfully for a 31w1d baby boy from the expression on his face...and, yes, I am posting a picture of all his glories...I debated heavily on posting this pic but decided that nakedness is cute AS LONG as it is in baby form :)

Literally, he was born within an hour of my first complaint of back pain to the nurse. This hospital and it's staff are phenomenal! Actually, this hospital has the only stage 3 NICU in the southeast...which is why we were willing to move in at 24 weeks and didn't (completely) freak out when the possibility of a preemie turned into a definite decision.

Cooper spent 2 days on a c-pap and about a week on a nasal cannula...and has needed no help in breathing for almost 2 weeks. We're now up to 2-4 feedings by mouth a day (we need 8 to go home) and he is a picture of health (minus a heart murmur that almost all preemies have...) We have been extremely blessed to have made our way safely out of a very high-risk pregnancy and pray everyday that Cooper continues to grow stronger and healthier...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This post is about me...

I've recieved facebook comments, e-mails and blog comments to write about how I'm doing...Its been hard to put how I'm feeling into words but I'm going to attempt that now...and, will still fail miserably! How do you put 31 weeks of pregnancy and 16 days (so far!) of NICU living into words?

Let's start with the physical part of becoming a mommy. They did a vertical incision due to the placenta increta so I have an 8 inch scar that runs from my bellybutton to my pubic bone. My first words when waking up from the surgery were "is it a boy?" and "my stomach hurts like hell." They did the hysterectomy which I was completely prepared for because I had known about it since I was 17 weeks pregnant. I don't feel any physical aspect of not having a uterus anymore...I don't know if you're supposed to though. My back kills me most of the day and I'm investing pretty regularly into those heating pad things that you wear that last 8 hours. I had at least 20 staples in my stomach so the incision is going to leave a not so sexy's a good thing that two piece bathing suits aren't my style anymore...

Emotionally things are trickier. My postpartum hormones are crazy. The smallest things make me cry but I don't feel depressed...sometimes a little sad but not depressed. I was having a real hard time when he was first born because he had one or two days that breathing was very taxing for him. His little chest would retract and it would break my heart. I felt so guilty and wondered if I asked too much of him...I knew he would come into the world early but I didn't plan on 31 weeks. I guess nobody really plans on when their baby will enter the world, do they? I feel guilty for leaving the NICU everyday. I'm here for at least 8 hours a day but guilt stabs my heart the moment that I head in the direction of the parking deck. My heart leaps for joy when I round the corner to his little pod in the morning and he's resting there peacefully. You become a little obsessed with the vital screen though when you're a preemie mom (ugh, I hate it, too!) but I relax when I see that all of his vitals are doing great. He makes me so happy when he's awake and he gets fixated on me and my voice. Would I do it all again if I could go back? Most definitely YES....

My emotions when I found out that I was pregnant were a mixture of joy, fear and trepidation. I worried every second of losing another baby. It didn't even phase me when they told me that I would have to have a hysterectomy as long as Cooper made it here safely. And, he has. I can breath now that the pregnancy is over and he is here AND is doing great. Now all the normal mommy worries plague my mind...and, those worries what last until the day we die?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The many faces of Cooper :)

"You don't say?"

"I need a nap."

"No, seriously, I need a nap."

"Just joking! I'm awake...."
The NICU is a time warp...its Friday then its Monday...
Breastfeeding is harder than I expected!!! Saturday and Sunday were marvelous and then today it was like neither one of us could get our act together. The nurses assure me that this is normal but I felt like a failure at the end of our breastfeeding session. He is now up to two feedings by mouth a day which is great because we can go home once he's up to 8 feedings by mouth a day.
He's now over his birth weight!!! He's a whole whopping 4 lbs. 4.1 oz!!!! You know he actually looks bigger to me now but I think it's really that I'm just getting used to the tininess...
ALL of the nurses just love him because he never cries and he is just the sweetest thing! He really only cries if he has blood drawn or is hungry...typical things but other than that he just looks at you with those beautiful eyes.
I'm just totally and madly in love...

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's been a great Friday the 13th!!!

Cooper will be 33 weeks tomorrow and we can officially begin to breastfeed!!! I'm stoked!!! We did two practice sessions today and I'm really hoping that he is able to eat as well as he's been able to just play on my nipple :) He is definitely correlating his mouth with food now and will begin to suck on his hand and get fussy when its time for a meal. His cries are just precious (ask me how I feel about them in 6 months or so...just joking) and his face gets all scrunched up when he's hungry...

He's doing really great in the transitional unit and we have so much more freedom and privacy. Of course, they had to be strict in the NICU but in the transitional unit, we are able to hold him whenever we want and for however long we want provided that he is stable. Also, with him being in the open air crib now its so much easier to change his diaper, clothes, and swaddle him. Plus, I can kiss his cute little forehead like a million times a day now :)

Bree made Cooper this little hat :)

Cooper snoozing the day away...

Cooper in his big boy bed :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The baby steps of a 32 weeker

So, big news...Cooper was moved to the stepdown/transitional unit last night!!! Our little grower and feeder has moved to the penthouse!!! This time he is actually ready to be in the stepdown unit rather than his 8 hour stint in the unit last week. He also moved to an open air crib!!! And, we get to start breastfeeding on Saturday when he turns 33 weeks!!! All of these things bring us closer to going home...

We are still doing the non-nurtitive sucking to get him used to latching on to the breast and he's a natural!!! It will be interesting to see how well he adds in the swallowing/breathing component and this may take him a little time to achieve. I'm okay with starting him out on the bottle so that they can monitor what he is eating BUT they know that he is only to take breastmilk.

Cooper is doing so great and I just pray every night that he continues to progress smoothly. Its very common for preemies to take 2 steps and the one step back so I know that there is a possiblity that we may hit a bump in the road. He makes mommy and daddy proud everyday and we couldn't ask him to do anymore than what he is doing already. He's an absolute blessing!!!

Daddy and Cooper

"What I won!!!" Cooper's expression when he won the world's cutest baby award :)

Jeepers creepers where did ya get those peepers? My guess is daddy :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Manic Monday...I wish it were a Sunday...

Cooper had a brain scan, an echo scan, blood drawn to check his bilirubin, and his NG tube changed today...poor baby! He was so pooped that he didn't even open his eyes when I held him.

He did get a new bed today. He's been in a two paned isolette but they moved him into a one paned isolette because he is regulating his own body temperatures. He'll move to a open air bed when he has 5 days of weight gain. I'm crossing my fingers that he starts porking up so that he can move to a bed that will make it easier to change his diapers and to interact with him. Its difficult to have to stick your arms through these holes to do even the smallest tasks with him or to just whisper an "I love you" to your baby. We did find out that Cooper has a heart murmur today but the cardiologist wasn't worried about it because a lot of newborns have heart murmurs and almost all preemies have one. They don't plan on treating it and they think that it will resolve itself. They just want to check it again before he goes home.

We're spending anywhere from 8 to 10 hours a day in the NICU. It's a strange world...but, thank God it's there...

Here's some pooped Coop pics...We got these pics during the few moments that his NG tube was being changed...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cooper is a week old...already!

Wow! What a crazy week!

Cooper is doing beautifully and is breathing all on his own! The nasal cannula was pulled yesterday and he hasn't had a single moment of needing help to breath and the picc-line is out! He is ready for the stepdown unit but there isn't a bed open so he's just hanging out in the NICU. Do I even need to tell you how wonderful that makes me feel?

The only thing Cooper has to conquer now is how to suck/swallow/breath since he is now regulating his own body temperature and breathing on his own. We started doing non-nutritive sucking today which means that Cooper is attached to my breast while he is recieving his NG tube feedings so that he can correlate my breast with his stomach getting full. I have to pump until I'm tapped out (hehehehe...sounds funny!) before we can do this skin-to-skin time. Cooper latched on immediately and even tried to suck a little...So, this was great for our first time! They'll allow him to actually breastfeed next weekend when he turns 33 weeks.

Mommy has it bad for this little cutie!

Cooper in his bed wearing one of his little onesies!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A BIG day!

Cooper is now a 32 weeker and he had a really big day today! They took the nasal cannula off him today and he is breathing entirely all on his own! They're also removing his picc-line today which is a huge relief for me because thats two less wires on him when you count the nasal cannula being off.

He is opening his eyes more during our visits and its just so darn cute. Preemies can't see more than a foot in front of them so I try to get close to his face so that he can focus better. He responds really sweetly to my voice and my hubby's voice. All I have to do is lay my hand on top of his head and say his name a couple of times and he quiets right down. He hates his diaper being changed like any other baby and his cries are so tiny and whimpery that they almost make you laugh. That makes me sound like a bad mommy! His nurse today was super nice and pretty much let us hold him for as long as we wanted to as long as he was doing good. So, this morning I held him for about 2 hours and then passed him over to my hubby so that I could pump. And, this afternoon I held him for about an hour and a half and then passed him to my hubby because I guess I should share from time to time :)

Its still surreal that he is here and I can't put into words how much being his mommy means to me. I am so happy and he has done so much already to heal my heart. My hubby and I have talked with Cooper over the last week about his sister. I've whispered in his ear about how much she loves him and how she'll be watching over him. I'm just so totally in love with Cooper and he is just pure perfection!

Here is the proof that I do share with daddy :)

Cooper is now wearing his clothes because he is able to regulate his own body temperature now...

These pics were taken before the nasal cannual was removed...

I just can't keep my lips off that little forehead!

*I'm sorry that I haven't been reading and commenting on all of your blogs this week. Life is hectic but know that I'm thinking of all of you. I'll get better once life slows down...if there will ever be such a thing again!*

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The baby steps of a 31 weeker...

Yesterday was an eventful day for Cooper!

Our first action in the morning is to call the NICU to see how Cooper's night went and what a shock we got when we were told that he was moved to the stepdown unit! Our first thought was "WOW!" but then the next thought is "are they moving this little 31 weeker too fast?" As it turns out the big move to the stepdown unit was just a little too much for a 3 day old 31 weeker. Cooper is very deceiving in the fact that he doesn't look like a 31 weeker! Most 31 weekers are still intubated at this point but Cooper isn't even on a c-pap anymore. Currently, he is on a nasal cannula which is great for a baby at his gestational age. But, they had to turn his nasal cannula up to 2 liters so they decided to put him back in the regular NICU for a couple of days and then they'll look at him moving to the penthouse again :) It's like I expressed to the neonatalogist yesterday, we want Coop to be at a level that is comfortable for him and we're not in a rush for him to come home UNTIL he is completely ready to come home. We're comfortable with whatever that timetable is...The goal is somewhere around Thanksgiving. He is tolerating his feedings like a champ! They up his feedings everyday by 5 cc's and he's currently at 15 cc's. He is having some reflux which is why they think he is requiring the nasal cannula. He seems to be breathing extra hard after a feeding so they're spreading out how long he gets the feeding.

We've been told that preemie life and NICU life is this step forward and one step back. He's a little fighter though and he makes mommy and daddy so proud!

Cooper eyeing his new world~ he followed us with his eyes for like 10 minutes!

My sweet boy in my arms...

Family photo! Mommy, Daddy and Coop!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kangaroo care and Cooper is off his c-pap!

I got to hold Cooper today for the very first time! I cried...I am just so in awe of this little man! The nurse told me that I could hold him for 30 minutes so she put his little body on my chest and my heart just melted. He was doing so good and was so relaxed that they told me that he could stay with me for ANOTHER 30 minutes! I sang him a song that the music therapist taught me and I started to cry again! So, as long as he's having a good day, we'll do 30 minutes of kangaroo care in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. The NICU staff is awesome about letting us do all the (reasonable) care for him during the day.

I'm pumping every 3 hours so they'll be giving him breast milk with his formula. I changed his diaper again today which is fun because I haven't had much experience with changing little boy diapers but I'm getting the hang of it!

The most awesome news though is that Cooper is off his c-pap and is breathing all on his own! The nurse said that he is doing so well that technically speaking he could go to the step down unit already but he's going to stay in his pod for now because he's only 31 weeks. The number 1 rule is that no baby goes home before 34 weeks...but, that's totally okay with me because I don't want him to come home until he is completely ready.

Here are some pics from kangaroo care today and a picture of his little face without his c-pap! He gets all of his hair from his daddy because every baby born on my side of the family is born bald!

Here is Cooper without his c-pap! He does still have a feeding tube in his nose but his little face is so much freer now!

I'm rubbing his little back!

Kangaroo care from this morning...

This is our first skin to skin I have to tell you how happy my heart is here?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Allow me to introduce you to my son, Cooper...

This will be a brief post because there is so much going on but I wanted to post some pics of our little man. My hubby knew how important getting the word out to all of you would be to me and I'm grateful for his eloquent birth announcement!

Yesterday was a whirlwind day and I'll find the time to do the birthstory later...

Cooper is on a c-pap machine and there are so many wires that it makes it hard to change his diaper but I did change his first poopie diaper today :)

He likes to sleep on his tummy and likes to be bundled up, too!

Cooper holding Mommy's fingers!

I know that I'm biased but isn't he just gorgeous!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A surprise for all of us!!!! He's here!!!!

Hello all! This is not Jen, it is her DH as you all like to call us. I am Jen's husband Chuck.

What a surprise....Cooper Henry was born today at 11:01 AM at 31 weeks and 1 day!!!!!!

He weighed 4 lbs even. 16 1/2 in long. He was breathing on his own at delivery with an APGAR score (I Think that's how it is spelled) of an 8 at birth and a 9 after 10 min.

Jen woke up to small regular contractions today and back pain. The Dr's didn't want to let them continue due to the rupture, so they let us know today would be the day. This is the best hospital ever!!
They had her downstairs and ready for delivery in 10 minutes. I was at home doing laundry at the time and getting ready to bring lunch to my honey. We live 20 minutes away, but I made it here in 8 min.

Right now Jen is resting and in some pretty significant pain. They had to do a classical scar instead of the traditional cesarean incision. This will be a more difficult recovery, but all she cares about is that he is doing good and his Doctor's are very positive about Cooper's progress. They estimated that he may require the NICU for 3-4 weeks.

I/She will keep you all posted on his progress in the next few days.

This may be my only chance to address you all, so I have to say thank you for all of the sharing, stories and support you gave to my honey in the last year and two months. You all have been a real blessing to us all the way from Lily to Cooper.