Monday, March 31, 2008

Tough guys wear pink

Notice the paci...poor little dude. Nathan has loved this type of Avent pacifier that comes in a pack of two: blue and white or pink and white. Guess which pack Target has been out of for the past month? I went ahead and bought the pink/white pack thinking that we would get plenty of use out of that white paci, but I think we lost that one within about 20 minutes of being home. And guess which paci is the girls' favorite? The one that they run searching for every time they hear their brother cry out from the pain of gas bubbles in his tum-tum? I really felt sorry for the poor guy the other day when he was sucking on the pink paci and wrapped in a pink butterfly blanket of Emma's. We'll make matters better by dressing him in lots of camo and teach him how to spit loogeys and pick boogers (his sisters will have no problem teaching him that last one).

Mr. Nateman slept in his own crib for the very first time last night. I spent all day yesterday trying to get him used to sleeping in it for naps, and he slept in it all by himself last night. Granted, he woke up every 2 hours to eat, but he slept by himself!! He has had a few rough nights grunting and just seeming uncomfortable, so we weren't getting much sleep with him in our bed anymore. We're still not getting a good quantity of sleep, but the little amount that we are getting is improving in quality...yeah, all that mumbo jumbo just means that we are still dog tired. Abby stopped sucking her thumb last week, cold turkey. And she wanted to know why we were combining her thumb and "cold turkey" when we told others about her accomplishment...probably because she hates turkey and was afraid that her new big girl status would warrant us shoveling piles of the yummy goodness down her throat. I have used her new found big girl status for other things of my benefit though..."Since you have stopped sucking your thumb and are just so big now, you can start doing chores!" I wanted to start her out on cleaning the baseboards since that seems the be the main thing I "forget" to do (and by forget, I mean that I look at the filth and decide to do it later...every single time). But I decided that it would probably be better to start her off on something more simple, like brushing her teeth and dressing herself every morning...and I added "making up your bed" as a test to see how far I could push this newly found chore line, and by George, she did it. Who knew a 4 year old could make up a Queen-sized bed by herself every morning. I like having these kiddos around.
So back to the thumb-sucking...we talked to her a couple of weeks ago about how it was about time for her to think about stopping the habit since it was a baby thing to do. I then choked back the tears as she agreed that she needed to stop. And then I rewound our little conversation and pretended it had never happened because SHE IS STILL MY BABY, DON'T EVER STOP SUCKING YOUR THUMB! But she took the convo to heart and decided right then and there that she was bigger than the temptation to comfort yourself with a flattened left thumb. I just wish I would have gotten one last picture of her sweet face as she sucked that thumb while rubbing the tear of her "new blanky" across her top lip. I miss seeing that. Emma...well, the little miss is so funny right now. And whiny. And testing the limits on obedience. But so dang funny that you just want to pick her up and squeeze every last drop of sweetness from her. She has that effect on us. Before Nate was born, I prayed that she would be less clingy and dependent on me. Little did I know how much we would need for her to grow up so much almost overnight...and little did I know how the Lord would answer that prayer and take care of her when I couldn't do as much with her as I used to. She has indeed grown up so much over the past month. She and Abby are truly best friends and are pretty much inseparable. It warms my heart to see the sisterly bond they have created. We have no word on when Nathan's appts with the other specialists will be, but we are pretty sure that it may all take a while. In the meantime, I am praying for patience during this long process...and that our son will be perfectly healthy, if that is the Lord's will.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The good and the bad

We had our appointment with the Pulmonologist this morning. The good news is that Nate doesn't have any lung issues. He has issues with his breathing, but no lung issues...we pretty much figured that going in because he has never had any problems with his oxygen saturation. The Pulmonologist took a look at him and started testing out Nathan's muscles and came to the conclusion that he is hypotonic, meaning that he has low muscle tone and strength. That was no surprise to me whatsoever because I have been more and more aware of his lack of muscle strength over the past few days. He will only lift his head up from our chests for a second before it falls back down, and he never attempts to lift it when he is laying on his stomach on the floor or bed. And he still feels very floppy to me. The Dr. noted that he doesn't try to resist or flex his arms when you pull him up by his hands or hold him up by his arms, and he doesn't straighten his back when you lift him in the air. He is still like a floppy newborn. She said that the hypotonia is what is causing his retracting and tachypnea. His muscles are just weak and it is making him have to work harder to breathe. She has referred us to a Neurologist, a Geneticist, and a Physical Therapist for further evaluation and testing. Hopefully we will be able to find out what is wrong with Nathan soon, but at least he will be able to start physical therapy at such a young age despite us not knowing what is causing his symptoms yet. Please continue to keep him and us in your prayers. It is emotionally draining when we are faced with troubling news at each Dr. visit. It is hard to see Nate having to go through all of these tests. And it is now difficult to think about what could eventually be his diagnosis. But it is a comfort to know that so many prayers are being sent on his behalf.

Sister Karen Lawrence (for those of you who know her) sent me an email while we were in the hospital a couple of weeks ago that I have read repetitively since then and have found strength and joy through the verse that she included:

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Isaiah 41:10

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Evolution of a smile

Now, tell me that isn't the cutest thing you have ever seen? He was smiling at Abby here...gosh, I love that little face.

Keep the little man in your prayers tomorrow. We meet with the Pulmonologist in the morning. My prayer is that they think that this is just a bizarre somethingoranother that he will outgrow.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Party of Five

3 or so weeks ago, I was often lobbed the quintessential post-partum question: "So, how's it like with three kids now?" To which I would so foolishly reply, "Awwww, shucks. It ain't nuttin' to write home about. Cartin' along three rugrats is just like havin two of 'em. It ain't no different." Because really, it wasn't much different. The littlest little rugrat was sleeping all the time and barely made a peep, and the oldest two rugrats were sweet little things who said "yes ma'am" to everything I asked and routinely picked up their toys, always brushed their teeth without being told, and even rubbed my gnarly feet with baby lotion while chanting "You are the greatest mom in the world. We love you. You are the greatest mom in the world. We love you."
And then I stopped taking the Percocet that was wonderfully blocking the pain of my worn-out uterus trying to swallow my internal organs. Warning: Percocet can make life experiences seem brighter than they actually are.
So, how's life with three kiddos now? Well, it's fine as long as you don't stress out about the 2 boxes of nerds that exploded all over the kitchen floor, the emptying of the change jar just for the fun of it, the baby lotion that has been smeared all over the TV and windows, the faces that still have syrup on them from breakfast, and the van that has been so utterly disgusting for so long that you no longer apologize or try to make excuses to anyone who catches a glimpse of it.
Obviously, we haven't gotten into a schedule that works for us yet, and I am BIG on schedules...about as big as I am about not sharing our bed with a kiddo. But creating a schedule just doesn't seem to fit in our "every 2 hours" nursing sessions and almost daily Dr. appointments. In the meantime, I will turn my head away from the household clutter that NEVER GOES AWAY, the dirty clothes that never get washed, folded and put away in the same day, the TV that stays on a little too much during the day, and the spilled toothpaste that is currently turning the sink a fluorescent shade of electric blue...and try to keep from blowing my top when Abby says "I'm bored. There's nothing to do.", Emma turns the ceiling fan on full blast for the thirteenth time that day, and Nathan wakes up the moment I close the girls up in different rooms and sit down for a moment to enjoy a few short minutes of listening to nothing but the clicking sway of the baby swing.
Because life with three kids...well, let's just say that it's not as easy as it was when Percocet was working as a great mood-stabilizer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I told you he was a chunky monkey

Nathan's one month appointment was today, and he clocked in at a grand total weight of 8lbs. 12 oz. and 21 inches long. Seems that mama makes condensed milk. That's a weight gain of 2-1/2 pounds and gain of 2-1/2 inches in just a month. Have I said that the kid likes to eat?
His breathing pattern was pretty rough today. He was retracting quite a bit and was tachypneic once again. At this age, infants should have a respiratory rate of about 120-140 breaths per minute, but his was at 168. It is the retracting and the tachypnea together that is troubling, but his pulse ox was still great, so he isn't having any trouble getting oxygen to the rest of his body. We have to get another chest x-ray done on his sometime this week, and we are also being referred to the Pulmonologist that we saw in the hospital. They will more than likely run some more tests to see why he is still having problems breathing.
Thankfully, our pediatrician thinks that his red blood cell, hemoglobin and hematocrit counts will come back up to a more normal range in the next few weeks, so we won't have to get that blood test done again until next month. He had his heal stuck today to check his bilirubin levels again (we'll get those results tomorrow) and his hematocrit levels. His hematocrit was 10 on Friday and 11 today...still low, but it seems to be improving.
The child's an enigma. The pediatrician said that she has never seen anything quite like Nathan before . I keep thinking that Nate will wake up one morning and just start breathing like a normal kiddo and all these tests will automatically be over, but that hasn't happened yet. At this rate of "feel sorry for the poor guy" that I have, he'll be sleeping in our bed until his wedding night.And yes, I fold. In all my efforts to convince everyone that Nate looks like Abby did as a baby, I must admit that the chubbier he gets, the more he looks like Emma. No offense to Emma there. She was my chunky baby...Abby was my reflux/colicky baby. So yes, you were right. A mother doesn't always know best. I go down with dignity.

Monday, March 24, 2008

One month

It is so hard to believe that you made your debut into our family one month ago today. When did that happen, Nate? When did a whole month pass us by? When did you get chubby cheeks and fat on those chicken legs or your's? When did you grow out of your preemie clothes and newborn diapers? I was right here the entire time, and I still have the sinking feeling that I missed something as it passed by me at warp speed.
You are a great baby...wait, the sleepless nights we have endured together have just slapped me in the face. You are a good baby. You love to eat, love to be held, and love to be rocked and sung to. You will belt out of cry louder than any newborn I have ever heard if I don't feed you the moment that your stomach tells your brain that you want, need, HAVE TO HAVE FOOD NOW! You have always been such a good nurser...such a pro that you decided to go ahead and mark down in your schedule to exercise those great skills every 2 hours on the dot...around the clock, everyday, all day, did I mention around the you sense some exhaustion here from the milk cow? So, back to the good baby thing only cry when you are hungry. HAHAHA!! Yeah, that would be so cool if I weren't completely lying through my teeth. But I do have to say that in relation to your oldest sister who came into this world screaming like a banshee for hours and hours and hours and hours everyday for 4 months, you are a jewel, my boy. Really, the only other times you consistently cry is every time I merely think about all the gassy foods I am having to abstain from since you seem to be all boy and are the gassiest little guy I know. I think about chili; you scream and toot. I think about eggs; even louder scream and three toots to follow. Garlic laden Penne Rustica from Macaroni Grill; "Good grief, woman! What are you doing to my intestines?" Thanks to your ability to create air bubbles in your gut out of thin air, my diet has been limited to Easter candy and gummi worms, so we are currently pulling out our life's savings for future dental work and Jenny Craig. Anyway, the great thing about all these noxious fumes that you are slowly killing us with is that you tend to be the gassiest between the rich hours of 3-4am, creating a kink in my ploy to keep you in your own sleeping place during the night and try to put a stop to the round the clock milk bar. Speaking of that, I believe that I am currently suffering from my very last "I will never ever" statement that I uttered before I had kids. I will never...never, ever...never, ever, ever in a million years...let a child of mine sleep with us for more than a couple of ear-infection/nightmare/the boogey man is gonna get me nights. Never. Ever. Enter in Mr. Nateman. You just eat all the time, and you sleep so well with your nose in my arm pit, and I am so tired, and you're our last baby, and it doesn't help that you are so so so stinkin' cute and I love waking up in the morning with your big blue eyes staring back at me. I'll take "spoiled" for $500, Alex.
So, I am trying my darndest to get you to sleep on your own now, and you are doing a great job on your own...for the first hour or two. And then you want to eat and it is all downhill from there. Oh, Nate-Nate, what am I going to do with you, son? "Nate-Nate": what you are usually affectionately referred to whenever you belt out a gas-induced screaming jag. Other aliases you have adopted are: Nafey (what Emma has been known to call you, and also my favorite to say), Nason (another Emmaism), Little Man, Little Dude, Stink Pot, Sweet Boy, and the one we use the most: Nate. So, a whole month, son. I still can't believe it. It has been an eventful month, to say the least, and I really really really hope that the next few months are a lot less dramatic, but equally joyous. I love you, Nathan. I am thankful for you, my son.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Let's add one more dramatic day to the mix

We got another dreaded call from someone at our pediatrician's office yesterday: "We received some troubling reports with Nathan's blood tests. His Sodium level is dangerously low and if it is still that low today, he will have to be readmitted into the hospital." I was then instructed to go immediately to the biggest hospital I've ever been to (this time without the kitty cat umbrella) and get some more blood work done STAT! I called Jay who rushed home from work to stay with the girls, and Nate and I packed up and headed to the hospital again.
As I was walking through the miles of corridors to the outpatient laboratory, I realized that poor Nathan has been a patient at 3 of the 4 hospitals in our city in the past month, with the exception being the VA Hospital. Yesterday's blood work brought the count up to 13 needle pricks he has had in the past week, and he seems to be getting used to them. He cried for about 4 seconds when they stuck him yesterday and then quieted down and just looked at the phlebotomist for the duration of the blood draw. My brave little boy.
We waited for the results to see if we would be spending the night back at the Children's Hospital or if we could go back home and spend Jay's birthday with him and the girls. And once again, the Lord answered our pleas to Him. Nate's sodium level came back in the normal range...we could go home.
Our pediatrician called me on my way home (she had the day off, but was periodically calling the hospital and her office waiting for the results as well). All was well. We were thankful! He still has some levels that aren't in the normal range, but they aren't as pertinent as the Sodium level was. It still looks like he is a bit anemic, but we aren't too concerned right now because his bilirubin levels (the ones that show how jaundiced he is) are finally coming down. While we were in the hospital, they were 12.5, and now they are little cheeto puff is starting to loose his cheeto quality. His red blood cell count, hematocrit and hemoglobin levels are still a little low, and his liver function test came back a little high again. All of these together signal that he could be a little anemic, but since his bilirubin levels are coming back to a more normal range, we are hoping that the rest of the levels that deal with his red blood cells come back as well as he gets over whatever has been plaguing the poor child.
Instead of Shepard's Pie for Jay's big birthday dinner, we ordered pizza. And Jay had to put icing on his own cake while Nate and I were in the hospital because I had just taken it out of the oven before we left. But as was commented on the previous post, the best birthday present was that we have our son home and he is indeed on his way to recovery.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Who knew that Jay's birthday happened to land on "National Booger-Pickin' day"? Obviously, the girls were well aware of the holiday.

Happy Birthday Darling!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Post-nap bliss

My children gave me the best "first day of spring" gift they could ever manage to give: they all three took a nap at the same time. You can close your mouth in awe now...and yes, I was in just as much shock as you are. I didn't think that was possible, especially since Abby had decided to mutiny nap time all together starting the day Nathan was born. So what did I do with my 2 hours of free time? I took a nap, of course. I was literally at the end of my rope with the sleep much so that my friend who kept the girls this morning asked if I had been crying since my eyes were so bloodshot. And here I was thinking that I looked pretty hot with my bloodshot eyes and all. They seemed to compliment the muffin top flab that has been hanging over the top of my non-maternity jeans that I have convinced myself that fit even though I have a permanent button-shaped circle tattooed right under my cavernous hole of a belly button. Smokin' hot, I tell ya.
Nathan had more blood tests done today, and I was able to inquire more about what part of his Liver Function Test (AST) came back higher than normal. There are many things that could cause this test to come back higher than normal, but one of the things that our pediatrician mentioned (and the one that we will check first if it comes back abnormal again) involves the alveoli in his lungs, which could be causing his respiratory problems (that are still getting better as each day passes). They are also checking his bilirubin levels again and his hematocrit to see if he is still showing anemic levels.
In other news, my little chunky monkey already weighs 8lbs 3oz and is changing so much every day. He is gaining weight so much faster than the girls ever did, and I totally believe it since we seem to have a date in the glider rocker ever 2 hours for tea and crumpets (or in Abby terms: the eating boobie and the drinking boobie). Sadly, I had to retire what newborn diapers we had left today since he had bright red marks on his legs where they were getting too tight...kinda like the way my jeans are right now, imagine that.Since they haven't been able to figure out what has been ailing the poor child lately, we have to be a little careful about where we take Nate for the next week or so...meaning, we can only take him to the doctor's office where there seems to be a nice run of the flu, stomach virus, and RSV going around right now. Nice. So much for protecting a child whose immunity could potentially be shot right now. But since we have been advised to stay away from church for another week (Jay and the girls should be there Sunday) and since we have nothing better to do at home all day, I dressed the chitlins up in their Easter Sunday best and took their yearly Easter pictures yesterday. The lighting was bad, the weeds were rampant, there was a nice bit of mold along the bottom of each shot (thanks to the nice rainy weather and humidity we have often here), but we did it...Easter pictures.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More tests

Abby: Mom, why don't we eat popsicles in the bathtub anymore?
Me: I dunno. Remind me tonight and you can have one.
Abby: Okay. Tonight, remind me to remind you to give them to us.
Abby: Oh yay! Did we get another Sesame Street magazine in the mail?
Me: Ohhhhh noooooo, Abby.
Abby: What?
Me: You said "magazine" instead of "mazaween".
Abby: Ah! I DID!! You are going to have to tell daddy tonight that I am growing up so fast now.
Our pediatrician called us again a little bit ago. Turns out that Nate's liver function test came back higher than normal, so we are indeed going to have to have additional blood tests done on him Thursday morning. Poor little guy. That could explain why he is still jaundiced...and who knows what else it could explain. The retracting he does while breathing is still there, but it is still pretty intermittent...and it isn't nearly as pronounced as it has been the past few days. His breathing rate is still worrying me a little because it is almost always quite a bit higher than it is supposed to be...only at a somewhat normal rate when he is in a deep sleep. But other than that, he seems completely fine. He smiled a big "open mouth/smile with your eyes" smile at me this morning while I was talking to him and followed it with the sweetest little "coo". He smiled at me in the hospital like that too, but I didn't want to declare that his first non-sleeping smile until I was completely sure. He was wide awake and interacting when he did it this morning, so I'll count that one as his first. And of course it made me cry, which is not something that I usually do when it comes to "firsts" that my children display, but this one seemed to give me an extra assurance that everything will eventually be okay with my little boy. It was a special moment, for sure.

Monday, March 17, 2008

More good news

Mr. Nateman has had a pretty bad case of "Don't put me down" today, which is pretty understandable since I have held him against my chest for practically the last 5 days. But I do enjoy holding him, and his head just fits so perfectly right up against my least I'll never look back on his baby days and regret not babying him enough. HA!
We went to see our pediatrician this morning, and it was just a great visit. Nathan's retracting is getting more and more intermittent as the day wears on, so that is a good sign that his body is starting to get back on track. His breathing rate is still slightly on the high side, but it is also a lot better than it was even a couple of days ago. The Dr. said that she was just as perplexed as every one else at why Nathan has had these strange symptoms. Sure, maybe this was a virus that he had since he is definitely getting better as the days pass, but it is just so unlikely for him to have these symptoms and no others if it is indeed a virus.

She said that we will probably never find out what the problem has been, but she is confident that he is getting better and the Lord has answered so many prayers. She also said that she was so worried about him last week, but after she prayed so earnestly for his well-being and that Jay and I would have peace over the situation, that she herself felt such a peace about it and just knew that the Lord was intervening. I couldn't help but let the tears flow as she was telling me this. Again, we are so incredibly thankful that we have been blessed with such Godly doctors who are taking care of our children.

We are also thankful for such friends and family like we have who are constantly praying when we are in times of need. Thank you all so much for taking time in your day to remember to pray for Nathan during the past few days...during the past few months. We have felt your prayers...that is such an incredible feeling. Thank you.

Thankfully, we have not had to have the additional blood tests done yet, and we are hoping that we won't have to have them done. Our pediatrician was in agreement with me in that we didn't want to stick the poor child with any more needles unless it was absolutely necessary, so she is talking to the doctors at the hospital today to see if there was any other tests that came back yesterday that made them want additional blood tests. My heart hurts every time I hear Nathan cry out in pain...his cry has changed so much over the past few days and he now looks up at me with tears in his eyes every time he gets stuck and with a look in those eyes that rips my heart to shreds. It hurts me so much to see him endure those tests.

We go back to the Dr. next week to see if there has been any more improvement...if not, we will have to go to the lung lab for additional testing. If so, we pray that the past few days will become a distant memory that we will never have to relive.

We are so happy to be home. Today has been an extremely emotional day...I think because everything that has happened over the past few days has finally hit us like a ton of bricks and we are able to process the way God has blessed us so abundantly. Most of the stress of wondering what the problem could be has been lifted as we watch Nathan gradually get better, and as the stress lifts, we find that we are able to relax more and are aware of just how exhausted we are. That also may be contributing to the emotion of it all falling on us today.

Thank you again, everyone. I can not express at all how much we appreciate your thoughts and prayers through all of this.
And don't worry...these are all pictures from last week. As neurotic as I am about pictures, I still wouldn't subject my poor son to having a camera in his face today...especially since I couldn't possibly take his picture while I am holding him all day. :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

We are home

The doctors were pretty reluctant to let us leave tonight, so they made me promise that if Nate shows any signs of worsening or starts any other symptoms that we had to come back and be readmitted. I appreciate their concern to want to keep him for a few more days (yes, one doctor said that she wouldn't mind keeping him at the hospital for a few more days to just watch him since he is still retracting so badly), but I also appreciate them trusting us enough to allow us to come home and sleep in our own beds and return to somewhat of a more normal life.

There really isn't anything else they can do at the hospital at this point except check on Nathan periodically to see if his breathing is returning to normal, and it really hasn't shown much sign of improvement since we were admitted on Thursday. His heart rate and breathing rate has gotten a lot better, but the retracting he has been doing has remained about the same.

We are supposed to see our pediatrician either tomorrow or Tuesday and then immediately go in for more blood tests to check Nathan's liver, blood counts, etc etc etc. I hate that he has to get stuck again, but I do hope that we will finally find an answer to his respiratory problems. One of the doctors at the hospital said that she was going to follow Nathan's case through our pediatrician because she is so curious to find out what we will determine the problem has been (if we can). She said that she is so perplexed at what it could be, so she is anxious to see if he will start to display any more symptoms to crack the case of what has been plaguing him for the past few days.

We are tired. Exhausted, really. It has been a physically and emotionally exhausting few days for our family. Please continue to pray that we find out what is wrong with Nate. And also that we do not have to be readmitted into the hospital. Thank you so much for all of your sweet messages and emails. They truly do mean a lot to us.

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