prematurity

The Incredible Thing That Happened…

This time a year ago, I remember getting settled into home life with Emerson. He was just about to start at his medical daycare (also known as PPEC-prescribed pediatric extended care), and I was so nervous. There was a lot of transition still happening around this time, and I was praying to God that this daycare would work out since we really had no other options.

Now that he has been at the daycare for almost a year, I am more than certain that this was the best decision for him. He recently was evaluated for developmental milestones, and he has caught up in almost all areas with the exception of those that would require him to not have his feeding tube or trach. In the social area, he was actually off the chart for his level of development, which is amazing to me. What a testimony!

One of my favorite things about his daycare is that he is able to get his physical and speech/feeding therapies there. This has been invaluable to us. Not only is it more convenient for us, it also means that he can have a more consistent experience since his nurses and caregivers are all aware of his progress almost immediately.

Last week, on March 7th (my husband’s birthday), Emerson’s physical therapist sent me the below video and I was almost a puddle on the floor:

This video is such a blessing to our family. When I think of him being born at 26-weeks and 1 pound, it just further confirms that miracles are real. I thank God everyday for choosing us to be Emerson’s parents and allowing us to live with a miracle.

This was not my original intended post for this week, but I had to share after receiving that video on Thursday. I hope this helps someone out there lean more into their faith and understand that anything is possible no matter your circumstances. Keep believing for miracles. Happy Sunday! ๐Ÿ’œ

prematurity

Family Visits

When you live away from family, nothing makes life seem more “normal” or like “everything is all right” than having family in town to visit. I think the reason is because you are reminded truly of who you are, all the strength you have, and that there’s an army of people who love you, want the best for you, and will travel to the ends of the earth with you if necessary.

During Emerson’s NICU stay we were visited by a number of family members (at different times, of course). These visits were so special to me because they gave me a chance to do a few things:

  1. Show off my cute baby like all new, proud moms do (lol).
  2. Help our families really understand what we were going through.
  3. Be loved on.

When there’s a new baby in the family, it’s so natural to want your closest family around to be introduced and start to love on them. NICU life makes that part very different. Fortunately for us, the NICU at St. Joseph’s Womens Hospital has a separate room for each baby allowing privacy and visits from whomever the parents would like. They ensure everyone follows the proper protocol of washing their hands upon entering, and as a parent, you know all the protocols anyway, so it’s pretty easy to direct your close family and friends on what they need to do to safely see your baby.

These visits were invaluable because I think it helped make our situation even more real to our families. It’s one thing to hear it over the phone and completely different to experience it in person. Even today, with Emerson being home, our lives are still vastly different in comparison to a family that had a full term baby. Every time we FaceTime or they come to visit, they get a peek into our life. It shows them how far Emerson has come and how our little family is thriving in the midst of all the doctor’s visits, prescription refills, daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, nurse’s updates, case manager updates, medical procedures, and more.

Right now, our cousins are in town, and it does my heart so incredibly good to not only see them and their kids, but seeing how excited the kids are to see Emerson and Emerson’s bright, smiley-faced reaction to seeing them. Watching them play makes my heart smile. They are his big cousins and they love him so much.

To the families who may be experiencing NICU life right now, if you haven’t already, consider having some family around. My suggestion would be a few people at a time to not overwhelm you, and allow them the opportunity to love on you. Also, help them better understand what you’re going through and what will be most helpful for you in such a high-stress, rollercoaster of a time.

To our families and close friends, thank you for continuing to love on us. Words will never be able to express how much it truly means to us. ๐Ÿ’œ

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! ๐Ÿ˜˜

NICU Life, prematurity, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized

Happy Thanksgiving

When I think back to exactly one year ago, thankful doesn’t begin to cover it. My husband and I closed on our home the week before Thanksgiving, and in the month or so leading up to it, I remember being hopeful that Emerson would be out of the NICU since we were told to use my original due date (11/12/17) as the estimate for him coming home. However, this did not happen.

The day after closing on our home (11/16/17), we were moving in and I remember getting my daily update call from the doctor. After that call, I sat in my kitchen floor in tears. We had just been told that Emerson was sick with rhinovirus. This was his first time testing positive for it, and we were extremely worried especially with him being as small as he was (about 4 or 5lbs). This caused him to have to be intubated again. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with that, it is when they stick a tube down the trachea that goes straight to the lungs to help provide breathing support.) Emerson had been extubated for a while, so naturally this felt like a major setback. As I sat there in my tears, I felt completely helpless. All I knew to do was pull myself together and pray.

The following week was Thanksgiving, and my mom and aunt came to town to celebrate with us. We went to see Emerson and were told that he self-extubated, so they tried to keep the tube out. (He did end up having to be intubated again, though.) Needless to say, I don’t think he was too happy on Thanksgiving last year…

This year is completely different and we have come so far! Emerson is home and thriving. He even went with me to pick up our honey baked ham yesterday:

This is why I say the word thankful doesn’t begin to cover it. My heart is so full when I think of where we are now and how far Emerson has come. I am more than grateful, thankful, and blessed. Everyday, I get the opportunity to be the mommy of a little boy who I believe has been born to slay giants. The initial fight he had coming into this world and his continuous fight to grow and thrive is preparing him for his amazing future.

So to those families who may be celebrating Thanksgiving in the NICU, we understand how that feels and encourage you to stay positive and be thankful for whatever progress your little one has made thus far. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

To everyone else, Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Uncategorized

Prematurity Awareness

November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and yesterday was World Prematurity Day. So, while this post is technically a day late, I couldn’t let this day pass without acknowledging Prematurity Awareness.

About 2 weeks ago, my son unexpectedly ended up in the emergency room and was then admitted to the pediatric ICU. It was suspected that he may have had pneumonia, but thankfully, that was quickly ruled out. He did not have RSV or the flu, but tested positive for rhinovirus also known as a common cold. Perhaps you can imagine how scary it is to have your child taken to the ER and in the PICU for a common cold. This entire situation tells you a lot about what it is like to raise a micro preemie.

No matter how old Emerson gets or how well he is doing developmentally, we still have to be extremely vigilant over every detail as it relates to him and his health. By our faith, we know that he is already healed from his chronic lung disease that requires him to have a trach and ventilator, however, we also know we must not take that healing for granted. We have to do our part in being good parents to him and recognizing that we have to be a little more careful with him than perhaps you would a child who was a term baby at the age of 15 months. This means not being around people who are even remotely sick or haven’t had the flu shot and not allowing people to touch or hold him without first washing their hands and sanitizing. It also means giving albuterol treatments at any given time when he is displaying signs of respiratory distress, recognizing his baseline oxygen saturations and when those are not normal, and changing his trach more often because he may have mucus plugs blocking his airway.

I can’t tell you how blessed we are by how far Emerson has come. We are still on the journey, and even with all of the nuances, we love it so much. Having a micro preemie has taught us so much about medical procedures, diagnoses, medications, tests, and more. If you have any preemies or micro preemies in your life, cherish them and their parents. This road isn’t easy, but it is a road that shows you the strength you never knew you had.

Uncategorized

High Risk Hope

High Risk Hope is an organization that provides support to moms and families facing pregnancy challenges and/or life in the NICU. In my case, I experienced both. My pregnancy was deemed high risk upon learning that Emerson was growth restricted at around 16 weeks. Being admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks and 5 days, I remember the feeling of uncertainty I had and honestly, being a bit scared. After spending a full week on bed rest, I will never be able to explain the feeling and tears of relief I felt when I heard Emerson crying when he was born. That one moment of relief was overcome with more feelings of uncertainty shortly after because I knew the long journey we were in for and that my son would have to fight.

Now that I am on the other side of NICU life, it is so important for me to bring awareness to what families go through and organizations like High Risk Hope (HRH) that make an impact on our lives everyday. I remember receiving my Bed Rest Bag from HRH, and I was so thankful and honestly surprised. There was a number of useful things in the bag to help through my hospital stay, but the one thing that meant the most to me was the purple blanket. I immediately started using it and still use it to this day.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to give back to this organization and our community by walking in their annual Tot Trot. Our team is Emerson’s Brave Champions, and we are encouraging donations of ANY amount because no amount is too small. Click Emerson’s Brave Champions to learn more! Here is a visual representation of how HRH uses the funding:

Emerson was also voted to be in the HRH Calendar, and we are so excited for that! He was like a little superstar on the day of his photo shoot:

The HRH Calendar features so many babies who are truly little miracles. We are blessed to have Emerson be a part of it.

Thank you to everyone who has ever donated to this organization and those who will. HRH has had a great impact on our family, and it is an honor to be a part of the impact they will make on so many families now and in the future.

Uncategorized

Traveling Mommy

Well, it has been a while. Honestly, I have missed you! I have been living through the adjustment of being a working mommy who travels lately, and it has been quite the ride!

Recruiting university students to work for #mycompany, a major, global healthcare organization requires a lot of travel during the fall season. This is my first fall since having Emerson home, so it has been quite the experience. Many people asked what I was going to do about work prior to him coming home since my job requires travel, to which my response has been, “it’s my job, so we will figure it out”.

I don’t think there is any mom out there who elects to be apart from their child, however, when it is a job (and company) that you love and that helps you sustain life, you make it work. In my case, the majority of my trips are short and the bulk of the travel happens during Sept-Nov. Though I miss my son and husband immensely while traveling, I could not imagine being in a different role at this time. This is the work that fuels me and helps me live out my passion of helping others make an impact.

On the home front, I am so blessed to have my husband who is able to hold down the fort while mommy is away working, and does not mind doing it. This support from my husband means everything to me. It allows me to do what I feel I have been called to do in this season of my life, which helps me to have a healthy work-life balance. It also does not hurt to work for a company where the health and wellness of employees are prioritized and family truly does come first. I always know there is flexibility if we ever have a family emergency or something going on with Emerson.

I hope this can be an inspiration to other working and/or traveling moms who consistently experience mommy guilt because of it. Mommy guilt is easily harbored for almost anything because we want to be and do it all for our little ones. The reality is, we are only human and we have to be patient with ourselves. Here is my approach to getting through work trips and not allowing myself to be overcome with mommy guilt:

  1. FaceTime everyday (even if only for a quick 5-10min)
  2. Daddy sending at least one photo each day
  3. Countdown the sleeps until the last day

These may seem like small things, but they really help me when I am on the road. Do you have a job that requires time away from home? Do you live in the mommy guilt? I would love to hear your story in the comments!

P.S. Help us raise money for high risk and NICU families by donating to Emerson’s Brave Champions for the High Risk Hope Tot Trot!

Uncategorized

Emerson is One Today!

One year ago today around 3:00pm, I was told I needed to have an emergency C-Section. By 5:43pm, Emerson Neal Pounds entered the world crying. What an amazing feeling it was hearing him cry after our doctors had told us they didn’t know what state he would be in. Hearing that first cry, my husband and I began to cry and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Little did I know that he would spend 191 days in the hospital. I remember thinking “will I ever get to take my baby home” and the days of completely breaking down into tears because I didn’t know what to do. I feel beyond blessed to be sitting here a year later looking at my son (at home) and wondering how time went by so fast. Living in the hospital for those 6 months felt like an eternity, but little did we know time was slipping right by.

Jeff and I are so proud of Emerson and how he is thriving at home. We couldn’t have given him a better name as he is constantly proving the “Brave & Powerful Champion” that he is.

With how special today is, I thought it would be nice to share a few photos of our journey. Enjoy, and please vote for Emerson Pounds to be in the High Risk Hope Calendar Contest: https://www.highriskhope.org/contests/2018-hrh-calendar-baby-contest/

Uncategorized

Milestones…

Today, my husband and I are celebrating 6 years of marriage. Over the years, we have always traveled to celebrate and reflect on our anniversary, but this year is a bit different. We experienced our most challenging year yet with our son being born at 26 weeks. Through this year of learning to be parents and how to care for a micro-preemie, we grew stronger both individually and as a couple.

Words cannot express how grateful and blessed I feel to have the opportunity to do life with my husband. Now that we have made it through 6 years of marriage and almost a full year of being parents of a micro-preemie, I am excited to see what’s to come. I’m sure life won’t be without its challenges, but as long as we continue to be support systems for each other and maintain the balance in our relationship, I have faith that we will continue to grow stronger together.

To all the couples out there who have medically complex children, remember to be strong for each other and take time to nurture your relationship when you can. It’s very hard to do, but definitely a necessity. ๐Ÿ’œ