birthdays, COVID-19, Holidays, mommy blog, NICU Life, prematurity, Tampa blogger

The Celebration Continues

March 2020 has been a complete whirlwind. I always look forward to March because both my husband and I celebrate our birthdays: his is March 7th and mine is March 30th. This year, we could have never planned for what this month has become: A month of quarantine and social distancing due to COVID-19.

The social distancing hasn’t been too much of a shock to our family because we spent so long in the NICU (191 days). I’ve seen memes going around that say how NICU families are made for this type of thing, and it’s true. I remember many times where Emerson was in isolation due to being sick and even less people than normal could be in his room and anyone entering the room needed to have a gown, gloves, and a mask. The difference is that now essentially we are having to live this way in the world rather than one room. Also, the fact that it’s due to a new virus that has no cure or vaccine yet, which is scary to think about.

Admittedly, I have been slightly bitter/sad about my birthday and not being able to celebrate as planned with a spa day and dinner with friends. This probably sounds like something I should just get over or not a big deal, but I am one of those people who LOVES birthdays and feel like they are kind of a big deal. I also felt sad that my husband’s birthday plans fell through at the beginning of the month when we had to cancel our trip to NC. Nevertheless, we have persevered and made the best of the situation. I was able to take my husband to a nice dinner (before all the restaurants closed their dining rooms) and get him a nice gift in place of the trip. For mine, we were able to have a virtual party with my friends, which was so much fun! We ended up chatting for almost 4 hours with anywhere from 11-16 people on at a time. It was so great to spend that time with friends and do table topics while talking about shows, movies, and whatever else came up. I was reminded of two things that night:

  1. How amazing my friends are
  2. How much they genuinely care for me

I do not take either for granted. What I appreciate most is the grace they all show me by being able to pick up right where we left off no matter how long ago we may have spoken or spent time together. I think we all understand that there’s a lot going on in our adult lives that we have to manage and I am just grateful for the grace they have all shown me and for still “showing up” for me.

(My friend Crystal sent me this photo of her view of my virtual party.)

During this time of social distancing and staying home, I would encourage you to take some time to connect with your friends and family virtually. It’s easy to be anxious and worried at a time like this, but a good way to combat that is through being connected. It reminds us that we are all in this together and not suffering alone. If there’s something special to celebrate, like a birthday, don’t let COVID-19 bring that to a halt. Celebrate virtually, and have so much fun doing it. I promise it energizes you and makes you feel just as connected as a typical in-person celebration because the point of it all really is the human interaction.

Lastly, my heart goes out to all the families currently living in the NICU. I don’t know the details, but I am sure that more stringent protocols have likely been put into place to keep the babies and families safe. Although, it’s for the best, I understand how that can make what you are already living through more stressful. Know that we are thinking of and praying for you during this time. 💜

Holidays, mommy blog, New Year, NICU Life, prematurity

Welcome to 2020!

Whew… time flies! I know it has been a while for my last post, but you would not believe all of the things that have happened between my last post and now:

  • Emerson being sick
  • Travel for work
  • Emerson being sick
  • Travel for work
  • Emerson being sick…

Okay… I think you get the point. Fall 2019 was filled with weeks of Emerson being sick due to catching some sort of respiratory virus. We were in and out of the doctor’s office with him on almost a bi-weekly basis. It sounds grim, but the positive side of it is that during this cold/flu season, we have not had one time where we had to take him to the emergency room! This is completely a step up from last season where we had about 3 emergency room visits due to respiratory viruses. The thing you don’t think about as your child gets older (or at least I didn’t think about because I was more concerned with his health issues as it pertains to him being a preemie) is how much their access to germs increases, which of course increases their likelihood of getting sick. My feelings around this felt somehwat conflicted because while I was celebrating the fact that Emerson was thriving and catching up developmentally, I was also stressed about him being sick so much. However, with a lot of faith and prayer (as well as cuddles with Emerson, date nights my husband, and support from family and friends), we made it through this stressful time.

Fast forward to the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas were great. We were even able to take Emerson to North Carolina to visit family and friends a couple of weeks before Christmas. Needless to say, we had concerns about the weather change and all the things that could go wrong (especially with him having been sick so much in the months prior), however, he handled it like a champ, and we had no issues during our trip. We had an amazing time watching Emerson play with his slightly older cousins (ages 5 and 6) who are so protective of him.

Now, we are on to 2020. I am currently on my first work trip of the year, and missing both of my guys, but I will be headed home soon. Entering 2020 has made me reflect on the past, but also look forward to what is to come. In 2019, Emerson:

  • Began taking more pureed foods by mouth (up to 8 ounces!)
  • Started matching shapes using the block shape sorter toy (we still aren’t stacking yet, but he’s coming along)
  • Started counting to three when prompted (and when he feels like it)
  • Started using his passy-muir valve daily (this device goes over his trach to restrict his airflow so that he is able to talk and project his voice)
  • Came off the ventilator during the day
  • Battled sickness from home instead of the emergency room

This week, Emerson had a sleep study, which puts us one step closer to him being completely off the ventilator. Thinking back to August 2017, I could not have imagined all that we have been through nor that we would be where we are right now. Emerson has been home and thriving in spite of having to spend 191 days in the hospital. We are more than grateful for his progress and looking forward to all the milestones he will reach in 2020. If you are a fellow NICU mom or family, I hope this encourages you. Regardless of what stage you’re in, celebrate the wins no matter how big or small. Here’s to an amazing 2020… wishing the best for you all.

Happy New Year!

Father’s Day, Holidays, NICU Life, prematurity

Happy Father’s Day

A whole month has passed… wow. Time and I have not been the best of friends lately with me feeling like there just haven’t been enough hours in the day. With that being said, I can’t believe we are already at mid-June and celebrating Father’s Day!

This day is special for so many reasons. I get to honor my grandfather, the man who raised me and gave me so much throughout my life. I owe so much of my success to him. I also get to sit and reflect on my husband. The man who has been the leader of our family displaying the most beautiful vision of unconditional love I have ever seen between a man and child.

We always hear about NICU moms, but I feel like I don’t necessarily hear as much about NICU dads. NICU dads go through just as much and can be just as traumatized as moms are. It is so different for them because their nature is to “fix it” and you’re literally in a place where you must sit, watch, wait, and ride the rollercoaster of emotions. I am blessed that my husband found a way to channel whatever nervous/worrying energy he must have had into positive ways to help and support his family.

Here are three ways he did that:

  1. Always showed up to the hospital and was just as involved as I was in our son’s medical issues
  2. Supported my breast pumping journey by being my cheerleader and making sure we had dinner on nights where I was just too tired to even think about food
  3. Constantly reminded me that we were doing the best we could and our son was going to make it through

I am so grateful that Emerson was blessed with Jeff as his dad. He is always there, encouraging him, helping him learn new things, and still very involved with his medical care. I am beyond blessed to have him as my partner. Everything we have gone through has made us closer. I could not imagine being on this journey with anyone else.

To my husband: Thanks for being the amazing father and husband you are. Emerson and I love you and cannot wait to celebrate you today!

To all the dads out there: Enjoy your day, and have a Happy Father’s Day!

To the NICU dads: I wish you a Happy Father’s Day, and I encourage you to continue leading and strengthening your families. You are making an important impact, and you are amazing!

Holidays, NICU Life, prematurity

It’s Mother’s Day!

Today is a day that I am so grateful to be honored on. God blessed me to be the mother of a strong, resilient champion who continues to amaze me everyday.

Emerson is keeping us busy these days with working on his walking and all of the other general busyness of a soon-to-be 2-year-old. When I think of that little 1 pound baby in the NICU fighting for his life and see Emerson now at 22 pounds, I cannot help but be on the verge of tears.

This Mother’s Day I am celebrating the milestone of Emerson getting his first haircut. We held off for a while, but finally felt like it was time:

I was amazed with how well Emerson did throughout the process. Although, almost anything is possible with Paw Patrol (LOL)! As our cousin cut Emerson’s hair, I kept thinking back to my 1 pound, 26-weeker who was intubated for months and had a number of issues due to premature birth. I definitely had not imagined this moment. One thing about NICU life is it can cause/teach you how to live from moment to moment and take things day by day. Because of that, every milestone then becomes amplified. For me, I never allowed myself to think about any future milestones because I focused all of my energy on whatever Emerson was going through in that moment and prayed that God would be gracious enough to get us to the next moment. Looking back on it, this is probably one of the most positive takeaways from our NICU experience: the ability to slow down and truly take in every single moment no matter how small.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mothers out there, and for those of you currently in the NICU, I celebrate you and your strength. I know the path you are walking is not easy, but remember to breathe through it all and hold on to your faith. You’ve got this! 💜

Holidays, prematurity

February 14, 2019

One year ago today, after having been together for 10 years (married for 5), my husband and I were the most excited we had ever been for Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day 2018 completely changed our lives and marks the major milestone of being able to bring our micro preemie home after spending 191 days in the hospital.

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Today, we celebrate having our son home for an entire year and being able to really love on him without the anxiety of going to the hospital every day. The year has been full of transitions with it now being second nature to…

  1. Juggle doctor’s visits with our work schedules
  2. Order medicines and medical supplies each month
  3. Change his trach weekly and change his trach ties each day
  4. Change vent circuits weekly
  5. Pop his g-tube (feeding tube) back in when it randomly gets pulled out
  6. Know his baseline medical numbers and see the signs when we need to seek emergency care

This is just a tiny glimpse into how our life transitioned over the last year with having Emerson home. Since being home, Emerson has been thriving socially and developmentally. His personality lights up the room and he is a master at crawling. He loves books, toys with lots of sounds, Paw Patrol, and Dr. Seuss. He is getting better and better at balancing his own weight and standing without holding on to anything. We are also at a point where we can have him taste foods, which is the first step to having him eat by mouth. It is amazing how much he has grown and changed since being home.

While bringing him home was the best Valentine’s Day gift ever, it does not mean we have not had struggles along the way. Getting adjusted to having home health nurses was definitely interesting, but we have found our stride and have great nurses who love Emerson. We have also had a few emergency room moments, which were extremely scary. Throughout it all, we learned to trust ourselves and that we know our son. We are always trying to be proactive and anticipate when Emerson may be getting sick or needing more respiratory support.

We are so thankful for this day and know that Valentine’s Day will forever hold a significant meaning for our family. I feel confident in speaking for my husband and saying bringing Emerson home was the best Valentine’s Day gift either of us have ever received.

Holidays, NICU Life, prematurity

The Difference a Year Makes

One of the features I enjoy about Facebook is the memories. I love that it gives you a reminder of what you were doing on this day last year.

All week, I have been so excited and thankful to have our first Christmas at home with Emerson. However, it wasn’t until just a few moments ago when I saw this picture in my Facebook memories that I really started to remember where we were a year ago with Emerson in the NICU and all of the emotions that came along with that:

He was so little compared to now and, unbeknownst to us at the time, still had a long way to go before we would be able to bring him home. When I sit back and actually sift through all those memories of what was going on then and how challenging it was living at the hospital, but trying to also keep up with our regular adult responsibilities, I am more than grateful for where we are now. This Christmas means so much to us.

Being able to share our Christmas traditions and watch him thriving is truly a blessing. Emerson is now crawling, trying to stand, making lots of sounds, and even able to taste baby foods. He has come so far from where we were last year at this time.

To all the families spending Christmas in the NICU, we are thinking of and praying for you. Remember that while it is very challenging, your Christmas experience will be what you make it there. (We would play Christmas music for Emerson and read him stories.) Try to make the best of it and just enjoy your little one.

Merry Christmas Everyone! 😘