Monday, September 15, 2014

Thank You, Birthdays & Babies

We had a great weekend. But before I dive into a recap, I wanted to thank you all for the overwhelming response to my last post regarding Caroline. I received over 100 comments on my post, 300+ comments on instagram and probably an additional 30+ direct emails (maybe more, I've lost count). I've read every single one of your comments and emails and am trying to reply to all of them (except for those who don't have their emails linked - you can fix that by following this tutorial). I cried through many of the stories and words of comfort that you all shared. You don't know it, but those comments are helping me cope with what happened. You have made such a difference in my life during this time and I am forever grateful for you all. Sharing my experience has been a coping outlet for me and I hope that it stirred some of you to take infant CPR, purchase a SIDS monitor and hug your babies just a little tighter.

To be completely honest, I've had a really hard time since we've come home from the hospital. Of course I am completely overjoyed, thankful and don't take even a second with my baby for granted anymore, but there are some lingering raw feelings of terror and sadness. As soon as the sun starts to set I get really bad anxiety, I wake up a lot in the middle of the night fearing something is wrong and sometimes when I walk into Caroline's room I can't shake the visions of that night from my head.

Many of you told me that only time and prayer for peace will heal and I think you are right. We installed an Angelcare monitor (thank you to those who offered to send me theirs!) and each night since we've been able to sleep just a little bit better. So again, thank you for your prayers, keeping my family in your thoughts and the words of encouragement. You all have reminded me of how powerful and wonderful the blogging community is.
Awesome quote right? It's amazing how you stumble upon those when you really need them!

So moving on (balance), we had a really wonderful weekend. Two of my girlfriends announced their pregnancies (same due date!!!) and Saturday night we had friends over for a BBQ and knocked out 3 September birthday celebrations.

In preparation for this year's annual BBQ contest Matt wanted to try out a new Boston Butt recipe for some practice and get some feedback from our friends on the recipe. Last year (post here) his team took home 3rd place so they are motivated to place again this year!
He threw a 10+ lb pork shoulder on the smoker Saturday morning and all day our house and backyard smelled delicious. We tried to keep the mini up for the party but she was pooped from a long day of grilling so we put her down for bed as our friends began to arrive.
I meant to take more pictures (like of the BBQ we cooked all day, my new favorite cocktail or maybe a picture of the husbands?! Oops.) but was so excited to have everyone over that I got distracted. However, I did get a picture of the hilarious cake that Mel surprised McKinsey, Laura and I with for our birthday.
While the husbands did man-things outside the girls got rowdy over a game of Cards Against Humanity. Why am I just now discovering this amazing game? We laughed for hours.
It was a late but super fun night with friends.
We kicked off Sunday with blueberry pancakes, ran some errands, enjoyed a nice long walk outside and relaxed a bit. It was a great weekend. Hope yours was too!
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Caroline's Health Update

I can't thank you all enough for the encouragement, support and prayers in response to my instagram update yesterday regarding Caroline. In a matter of minutes my picture was saturated with uplifting comments that I really needed in those moments. I owe you all a hug. A lot of you asked for updates on Caroline's tests and a lot of you also asked what the heck happened. It's still very raw and traumatic for me to recap but I'm going to do my best. And again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for lifting our family in prayer. We've never felt so covered in God's love, healing and protection.

For those of you who just want an update and not all the scary details I highly suggest skipping all except the last paragraph of the following...

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I rocked Caroline to sleep at her usual bedtime. She was hungrier than normal so I gave her 6 ounces of milk (she normally takes 4 ounces). I rocked her into a deep sleep, said a prayer over her and tip toed to her crib to lay her down. She didn't stir - success.
 
Hours later Matt and I were watching some TV in our living room. This is worth mentioning because it's pretty uncharacteristic for us as we normally run to our room and collapse into bed much earlier than this. I heard a very brief but frightening scream come from Caroline's room (which is right off of our family room). It was unlike any scream I'd ever heard but it was just a short burst followed by silence. If I were in my bed I don't know that I would have responded to her since it was just a short outburst and it seemed she slipped back into her slumber. But for some reason the cry upset me and Matt and I both jumped up to go rescue her from maybe a bad dream?
 
In less than 3 seconds I was standing over her crib in the dark, gently patting her belly to let her know I was there. Her typical response is to curl up into a ball, roll towards me, make some eye contact and smile. She didn't do that. I suspected she was in a much deeper sleep so I started to rub her belly a little harder and whisper her name. It was then that I realized her sleep sack was completely saturated in vomit (and so was half her crib - so much vomit) so I hurriedly picked her up to change her. In that moment my heart sank to the floor. Her body was lifeless and collapsed into mine as I put her to my chest. She didn't squirm or sigh or show any ounce of reflex. Her head had no control and her face crashed into my chest rather than the side of her head. I screamed for Matt to turn on the light and that I thought something might be wrong. We laid her on her changing table and it was then that we recognized she was completely unconscious and not breathing. We screamed her name, shook her a bit (safely) and Matt immediately went into back blows as I called 911. Her coloring went from pale to red to purple.
 
I was a complete mess on the phone with the 911 operator. I tried to give him all of the information he needed in between my pleads to "please hurry!!!" and screams of "she's still not breathing!!" He told us to lay her on her back to begin CPR (we took infant CPR prior to Caroline's arrival). Everything was happening too quickly yet time managed to stand still. It was in those moments that I could hear the comforting sound of sirens approaching our house. The ambulance had arrived in less than 4 minutes. I ran outside screaming for the paramedics to please save my baby and an army of paramedics, firemen and policemen came storming into my house. Each responded as if it was their own child and immediately took over for Matt. At this point Caroline had started taking shallow breaths, opened her eyes but was still unresponsive. The next few minutes were a blur as we were watching the medics care for Caroline simultaneously to giving them all of our information. They loaded her into her car seat and ran her out the front door where there was a stretcher sitting in our front yard. I lost it. Watching your baby's car seat be strapped to a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance is an image I hope none of you will ever have to see. I rode with her and Matt followed us in the truck.

When we arrived to the emergency room she was immediately taken back to the children's ER wing and stuck with a thousand needles, monitors, a catheter and a bunch of other wires. She started to cry and it was a relief that I just can't describe. I'd never been so happy to hear her cry. It meant that she was awake and alert. However, she was also in a lot of pain and it was equally excruciating to watch nurses poke her a million times. Test after test after test was ordered. I can't even recount everything she went through.

A few hours later we were admitted to the children's floor where we spent the night. The doctors were really worried about an increased risk for SIDS so they wanted to observe her. We didn't sleep. Every 15 minutes a nurse or a doctor came in to check vitals, give updates, etc. We were also told by the pediatricians that they hoped to find "nothing" in her tests and that "no answers" was likely the best answer. But we wanted answers! How were we to go back home not knowing why or how this all happened?

We tried to sleep. It was 3 am and we were utterly exhausted. The 3 of us squeezed together on the tiniest couch and Caroline went to sleep on Matt's chest. When she awoke in the morning she seemed completely normal. She smiled, fussed, took a bottle and played with toys. The doctors ordered several more heart x-rays to be safe but everything came back normal and we were scheduled to be discharged.

Just before we left one of the pediatricians came by and told us that based off of all of the tests the team of doctors on the floor believed Caroline survived a case of SIDS. They speculate she choked on her vomit, screamed out using her last breath and her body shut down to conserve energy, air and relax her tummy muscles so the vomit could go back down (or out). Apparently infants have a remarkable ability to use the air in the body for several minutes and it was by the grace of God that we intervened at those exact moments. They also believe that this was an isolated event that should likely never happen again. We were happy with those answers and even happier to bring our healthy baby home. I swear there was an angel (most likely my mom) who was with her that night and ignited a panic in me to respond to that cry. I am forever grateful to our Lord for healing our Caroline.

Now go squeeze your babies!

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Caroline Grace {4 months}

Caroline Grace,

What a big month we've had, filled with lots of "firsts"! Every day you surprise us with new tricks from your first roll to first giggle, it has been so much fun watching you grow. You are so curious and love watching me cook, put my makeup on, fold the laundry and more from your Bumbo seat. Your personality shines so brightly now, you are the happiest little thing and your smiles have a way of drawing everyone around you to you. You are the light in our little family's life.

This month you also celebrated your first day of school, first football game day (go Gators and go Buckeyes!) and first rice cereal meal. You're growing up too fast and I just want to freeze time because this stage is so fun. You become more and more beautiful to me every day and I think you are head to toe perfection.You make my mama heart so happy!

I can't wait for the day you start reaching for us to pick you up. And even though you didn't sleep at all this month, we love you so!

Love, 

Mommy

Four Month Highlights:
  • You are over 11 pounds, maybe even 12 - still a petite little thing.
  • You learned how to roll from your back to your belly (for a couple weeks you were getting stuck on your side, unable to get over your arm) and now you are unstoppable, a little rolling machine. If I walk away for a minute I come back to find you several feet away from your activity mat.
  • Speaking of activity mat, we have so much fun watching you play now. You've become so interested in all of the little hanging animals and we love watching you babble to them and grab and shake them.
  • There is still nothing you hate more than being in your car seat, well maybe sleep, but you definitely pitch the biggest tantrum the second you see us getting your car seat ready.
  • We took advantage of your sleep regression and went ahead and transitioned you from your swaddle to your sleep sack and you love the new freedom. Free arms and legs combined with your rolling tricks mean we now find you in hilarious positions every morning.
  • Oh, the giggle! We have to get you really worked up to hear it but once you start we all can't stop laughing. You have the sweetest little giggle and your eyes get all squinty like your mamas when you laugh. This is one of my favorite, most treasured milestones. 
  • We tried out some Earth's Best Organic rice cereal and you hated it.
  • You are starting to take a paci now (you prefer the wubanub), are exclusively on formula and love mirrors.
  • Your month long vacation with the Grandma's came to an end this month and you now attend daycare. It's still a transition for all of us but we're slowly getting the hang of things.
Your first week of daycare was really tough for all of us. Although we absolutely love your teachers, have lots of friends with babies in the same school and know this is going to be really good for you, it's been an extremely hard transition for you and I. I'm still trying to find the balance of being a good mom and a good employee and I feel like no matter what I'm failing at one of them (or sometimes both) each day. Daddy drops you off and I am thankful that I get to be the one to pick you up, squeeze you and read your report cards. You only have one other baby in your class right now but there are six more on the way. Selfishly, I'm thankful it's just two of you for now so you get lots of attention (which your teachers say you need). Your teachers send us pictures of you all day and sometimes they make me happy to see you playing and other times I get really upset that I'm not the one there with you. Being a working mom is harder than anything I've ever experienced but I know things will get easier (hopefully)!
and of course, a video of the new rolling trick...
video
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