Whitlee Alyzabeth | My Big Girl

I haven’t posted much about our firstborn little love lately so I wanted to take some time to make a special post about our girl. Whitlee is 2 years and 8 months, and I am more in love with her than ever. She has truly handled our chaos with Huck so well and I couldn’t be more proud. Don’t get me wrong, she’s testing her limits with each and every person these days but I’m not 100% sure that’s not just her age in general. She has become such a social little girl and speaks to (almost) everyone she comes in contact with. I can’t help but think she’s making some of these people’s days.. there are so many that seem so sad where we’re at. 

She does something almost every day that either amazes me or has me in tears from laughing or usually both. Her perception and ability to retain information seriously blows. my. mind. I mentioned the bat colony here in Houston a couple of weeks ago and said something about going on a date. Then this past Saturday I asked if she wanted to go on a date with mama and daddy (said nothing about bats) and she said, “Yea! To go see the bats??” I was so shocked that she even remembered that. Nolan didn’t even know what she was talking about until I reminded him about the bat colony I’d mentioned. 

She absolutely loves her baby brother. She talks about him all the time and likes to pretend she’s his doctor when she visits him at the hospital. She listens to him with a stethoscope and then says, “okay, doing great!” It’s going to be such a change for her when he finally comes home because she doesn’t know that he doesn’t actually belong at the hospital forever. I think it’s going to be the sweetest / most trying / most rewarding thing ever to have both kiddos under one roof finally. 

I honestly can’t believe how independent she’s become over the last 4 months or so. It was like Huck was born and she suddenly became a little girl and not a baby at all anymore. And she’ll tell you real quick “I not a baby! I a big girl!” She sleeps all by herself in a big girl bed both at home and in the travel trailer we’re living in temporarily. She’s fully potty trained except for bedtime and does so good at telling us when she needs to go. 

I wish I could write down everything she does and says and convey the hilariousness of this child because whether it’s dancing in her extra big tshirt saying “I’m a princess!” or doing pretend voices or telling me her own bedtime stories, she is so full of life! Her latest special thing is hugging me and saying, “I really like you, mama.” Lord, help me remember that when she’s 13 and thinks she hates me because I permed her hair after she begged me to and ends up with “worm hair”… 😉

All of this being said, I hate that our family is so split up and I miss her with everything I have when I’m away from her. I think that’s been my biggest struggle so far; truly wanting to be in two places at one time. I try to make sure I take Saturday afternoons off from the hospital and spend quality time with her and Nolan, just the three of us – we go on Whitlee dates. Sometimes it’s just swimming at the RV park and sometimes it’s dinner out and watching thousands of bats fly out from under a bridge at sunset. 

One day I hope she reads this and knows how much her daddy and I love her with all of our hearts. That her brother wasn’t ever a replacement or that he was more important than her, but we wanted her to have a best friend for life in him and unfortunately he just ended up needing a little extra help and attention in his first few months. I hope she knows how absolutely proud of her we are and that we think she’s the bravest and smartest little girl ever. And that one hug from her makes everything okay again for me. I hope she knows I cry for her sometimes when she’s away from me because I wish I could have both my babies with me 24/7. But I hope she knows she’s made all of this just a tiny bit easier for me with the fact that she’s been so flexible. I like not having to worry if she’s having fun or being taken care of. And that every time she tells me she loves me, I know she was sent here by God to take extra special care of her mama. 

Whitlee Alyzabeth, you are loved in a way that no words will ever explain and I hope you never forget it. You will always be my baby girl. 

NICU | Day 12

Well I got what I wanted – Day 12 was significantly better than 11! 🙂 I went to see her and the nurse told me she’s up to 35 ml on milk per feeding and that  she’d taken her full bottle for the night nurse and she’d taken her full bottle for the day nurse! She stayed awake for both of those bottles and got tube feeding for the rest. So as of now she’s eating 8 times a day – 2 breastfeeding sessions, 2 bottle sessions and 4 tube feedings. I’m hoping they’ll start completely phasing out the tube feedings soon. She’s also off the light for jaundice so she ate for about 30 minutes and then I finally got to put some clothes on her! The tiniest onesie we had was the one that fit her. She is so cute!

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When Nolan and I went back later, her nurse said she’d pulled her feeding tube out and she’d left it out – I was so excited!! Then she realized what she’d said and corrected herself saying she left it out so we could get some snuggling and pictures without it, but that she did have to put it back in later. So that excitement was short lived but we did get to finally see her without anything on her face. She looks so much like her daddy! She ate for about 40 minutes and then rocked with Nolan for a while. We also found out that she’d gained weight again! Up to 1950 grams, which is 4 lbs 4.78 oz, so nearly 4 lbs 5 oz. She has to be 2000 grams to come out of the isolette, which should be any day now.

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NICU | Day 5

Today had a rough start. We got to the hospital at 2 like we normally do and when we got to the NICU, we called over the hall phone so they could let us in. We knew it was possible to run into this (they’d fully warned us it could happen) but they told us they had something going on with a new baby and we wouldn’t be able to come in for a little while, probably at least an hour. We decided to wait it out, even though I’d timed my pumping perfectly so that we had enough time to get there, see her for a while and get back before I needed to pump again. Waiting an hour really threw a hitch in my plan, but there was no way I could leave and come back.

We have had some really great nurses since we’ve been there… my favorite in L&D was a nurse named Melissa, my favorite on the mother/baby side is Kirsten and we’ve had three really great ones in the NICU – Amy, Megan, and one that I keep missing her name. Well today was Amy and she met us in the hallway after we called in and they said we’d have to wait and explained what was going on. She said they had a little 2 lb baby that was needing a transport to Texas Children’s and the transport team would be there in about 5 minutes, then it shouldn’t take more than 30-40 for them to get back on the road. I feel like it’s incredibly selfish of me but  I immediately became thankful that it was not our baby that needed the transport. As hard as it is to not bring her home yet, it could definitely be worse. Whitlee has made such significant progress and we are so proud she’s doing so well. I ended up seeing the mom and dad of that baby in the hall near the elevator just after the transport team came in, and my heart broke for them. I got choked up as I watched the mom cry her eyes out. I hope their baby is okay and gets to come home as soon as possible.

When they finally let us in to see Whitlee, I was in rough shape. I was having some emotional instability just before that, plus seeing those parents and having to wait to see our baby, I was just on the edge of tears the entire time we were in there. She was sleeping, on her belly again and had a pacifier. She looked very cozy! Our nurse, Amy, had told us we could bring her a blanket and some clothes and when they were able, they’d put her in some clothes and they would definitely put her blanket on her immediately. So I picked a purple giraffe print blanket to bring with us earlier that morning and she looked so pretty with that purple blanket next to her! They turned the lights off and we said hi to her and she immediately peeked her eyes open, just a little, like she was telling us “I know you’re here and I see you, but I’m sleepy, momma.” I like my sleep too, baby girl. So we really just watched her sleep for a while. Since we didn’t get in at 2 we’d missed the opportunity to ask to hold her or change her diaper so that kinda made me sad, but as long as she was doing well that’s all that matters. Before we left we got an update and they said she was doing very well on breathing and all she needed now was increased feeding. Once she was done with her antibiotics and taking a little more ml of breastmilk through her feeding tube, they’d be able to remove the line in her belly where they draw blood from, and we’d be able to hold her finally. Then she’d move on to bottle feeding and once she was taking 2 oz (I think) a feeding by bottle, and had gained enough weight, she’d get to come home. Her doctor is on vacation until Tuesday, and the replacement doctor is a little more hesitant to move forward until she’s more than sure they’re ready so our nurse said she half expected her doctor to come back Tuesday and be like “Why is she not on a bottle yet? Let’s move forward, she’s ready.” So I expect Tuesday to be a major day in progression. We left not quite as enthused since we got so much interaction the day before, but happy that she was still doing good.

At home, I was really sad that she wasn’t home with us and spent most of the evening a little upset. I know she’s in a good place and will be home with us before I know it but I’m dying to at least hold her. I hate that she’s 5 days old and I haven’t gotten to yet.

About 6:45 this evening, my phone rang. I immediately recognized the number as the hospital and panicked. I answered it and it was Amy, our nurse. She said quickly (I’m sure to calm me down), “Mrs. Hillin, this is Amy in the NICU. Nothings wrong, we’ve just made some changes I thought you’d want to know.” I was so so nervous. But she went on to tell me that they decided to take the line out of her belly and if everything went well with it during the night, I’d get to hold her tomorrow! I am so insanely excited but praying it goes well so that I do actually get to hold her. So that was our okay day, followed by very good news in the evening. Fingers crossed!!

Also, they gave us a little thing they “helped” her make for us on Thanksgiving. So sweet!!

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NICU | Day 3

After hearing the night before that Whitlee wasn’t tolerating her feedings I was so anxious to get to the hospital. If I had my way we’d spend every waking moment there, but she needs rest and it’s standard care to only stimulate them every 6 hours, so we visit her everyday at 2. That’s when they allow us to touch her and we get to watch them do things like feed her thru her feeding tube or swap her machines around.

This morning though I was so distraught all morning. I think I cried every ten minutes. I wanted to run to the NICU once we were in the hospital. When we walked in we saw that she was on her belly. Her nurse for the day explained what happened the night before. They were giving her 3ml of breastmilk every 3 hours but they have to check her belly for residuals, or undigested milk. The night before she’d had quite a bit, which meant she didn’t digest it well. So they backed off her feeding and then started back earlier that morning with 1ml every hour and she was handling it much better. They said the cpap machine causes their bellies to extend sometimes which makes digestion a little harder so that’s probably what happened but they turned down her machine some because she was ready for that step and rolled her to her belly because that helps her digest everything easier also. So all of that made us feel a lot better.

They had to change her fittings for her cpap so we got to see her pretty little face again. The nurse shielded her eyes this time against the light and she opened them and immediately started looking at us talking to her. She was paying extra special attention to Nolan! It was the cutest thing.. he was leaned over talking to her and she was just looking right at him the whole time. It melted our hearts!

They swapped over her cpap fitting (they swap them every day to something different so that it puts pressure on their faces in different places and doesn’t leave permanent marks from having the same thing mashed against them in the same spot every day) and changed her diaper. It was a relief to see so much being done to her because if she weren’t stable, they wouldn’t be touching her.

We stayed for a while just rubbing her head and taking pictures and talking to her. Once they put her cpap gear back on, we couldn’t see her face anymore but we could see her little lips and they are super cute. Nolan said she’s already got her pouting face down! I think her daddy might be wrapped around her tiny little fingers already.

The last thing they told us was they planned to take her off the cpap the next day and move her to an oxygen cannula, which would just be the tube of oxygen running under her nose, kinda like elderly people with the oxygen tanks, just much smaller of course. We were so happy that she was doing so well and seemed happy. Taking her food better and plans to get off the cpap was a good enough update for us that we left feeling much better than we did when we went in. I decided not to call that night for an update because I was almost positive she’d have that nurse I don’t care for again and I wanted to keep the happy thoughts from earlier in my mind.

Baby Hillin | 32 Weeks

32 Weeks

How Far Along: 32 Weeks

Baby is the size of a(n): large jicama (I had to look this up, but basically it’s like a large potato.) While we’re on size though, my Biophysical Profile ultrasound isn’t normally to measure her size, but because my belly hasn’t grown in a few weeks (measuring 29 cm for three weeks) they were concerned about her growth so they did go ahead and measure her this week and she looked to be a few days behind but nothing of major concern and is estimated to weigh nearly 4 lbs! Fingers crossed for a healthy, continuously growing baby!

Gender: baby girl

Weight Gain: I’m up to 35 at the doctor’s office and just over 40 at home.

Maternity Clothes: Whew.. not fitting into 2 of 3 pairs of jeans comfortably anymore. Mostly leggings and yoga pants from here on out.

Stretch Marks: Nope. Just crazy veins all over the place.

Belly Button In or Out: Flat, still not quite “out” yet. It might just stay flat.

Wedding Rings On or Off: They’re off and temporarily replaced.

Sleep: Same story! Pretty uncomfortable and up to pee 9 thousand times. I’m pretty much used to it by now.

Best Moment This Week: I had my first baby shower this past weekend! It was a lot of fun and we got a lot of good stuff. I feel so blessed to have people that want to shower us and our little girl with gifts. I love love love getting to organize and put everything away. Looking forward to my second one this weekend!

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Miss Anything: sleep, for sure.

Movement: Still my favorite part! She’s head down and likes to swap from side to side. Last week she was with her back on my right side and legs and arms were on my left, this week she’s flipped over the opposite way. I’m pretty sure I noticed the exact time this happened too.. my entire belly looked like it shifted from one side to the other and then went back to normal.

Cravings: Mostly fruit. And the other day while grocery shopping I had a sudden craving for pickles again, so I bought some and have yet to eat any of them.

Symptoms: Basic pregnancy aches and pains like sore pelvis and hips. I also have some seriously swollen feet that my doctor is now keeping a close eye on, some slight puffiness in my face and hands, mild nausea here and there. Probably way TMI here, but I think one of the weirdest things going on that I was fore-warned about is the pregnancy gas. It’s insane.

Noteworthy Moments: Still on the Procardia – 2 more weeks of that! I already mentioned my first baby shower, which was so much fun. We received a lot of stuff we really need (car seat/stroller, crib mattress, pack and play, baby monitors) and some other things that are just so cute! I made a list this weekend of everything we’re still lacking, then after my second shower this weekend I’ll mark stuff off that we receive there, then go buy whatever is left. I did find out that the changing table/dresser we registered for has been out of stock (and still is) basically since right after I registered for it and I didn’t realize it until last week. I’m pretty sure nobody will be purchasing that, so we ended up picking a different one. I wanted a 6 drawer dresser so bad (and would just put the changing pad on top), but I have limited space and finding a 6 drawer in the amount of space I had was proving to be nearly impossible, but I finally found one last night that is perfect! We ordered it from Target, used a 15% off coupon and it’s on its way. Super excited to get it here and do some major organizing.

I also started packing my hospital bag and Whitlee’s diaper bag. Most websites/books suggest packing around 34-36 weeks, but since I’m at risk for early delivery, I’d actually like to have everything packed and her car seat installed by the time I stop the Procardia. Just in case, if that is the only thing preventing me from labor she could come any time after that and I get serious anxiety about not having the things I would want/need. I’m an extreme Type A personality control freak and my husband makes fun of me pretty often for my obsessive need to research things and then plan accordingly. But planning is what calms me… funny thing is, pregnancy is like the least plan-able thing ever. But I still try.

Speaking of planning, her nursery is seriously looking like a baby’s room, but her wall monogram is STILL. NOT. HERE. I’m about to lose my mind over it. I ordered it a month and a half ago, knowing their shop says to allow 3-4 weeks for delivery, but it’s now been 5 ½ weeks and still not shipped. They did tell me (after I emailed and bugged them about it) that their machine broke and they’re working hard to catch up on orders. But with preterm labor scares and stopping the Procardia in two weeks, I’m getting anxious! It’s a major part of her room and I want it to be here already!

We went to our second childbirth class and this one was based on postpartum health and what to expect. Nothing too major there, but we did another tour of the hospital. I already toured it once, but Nolan didn’t even know where L&D is and it’s a little awkward to get to at our hospital. For our family/friends reading this – you go in the main entrance, pass up the first set of elevators on your right, keep going through all of the different lobbies and waiting areas and you’ll see another set of elevators on the far end. Those will take you to L&D, 3rd floor. From there, someone will probably have to help you find my room or whatever, because I’m still a little unfamiliar myself with exactly where each elevator goes to. I usually just get off on the right floor and wonder around until I find a desk or something that looks familiar. I think it all pretty much goes in a circle though.

So basically, we’re tying up a few loose ends here and there as far as nursery planning and baby items, but I think we’re moving into just waiting on our baby!

Baby Hillin | 31 Weeks

31 Weeks

How Far Along: 31 Weeks

Baby is the size of a(n): Pineapple. Getting into some larger fruits! Random note, I’ve heard fresh pineapple can induce labor?? And even more randomly, I’m not allowed to have grapefruit while on Procardia.. and I love grapefruit!

Gender: baby girl

Weight Gain: Whew.. I’m pretty sure I’ve hit 40 at home. 31 lbs at the doctor’s office.

Maternity Clothes: Nothing new here, but it got colder here over the weekend and I had to wear a size up in hoodies because mine don’t cover my belly anymore!

Stretch Marks: Nope. Finger still crossed.

Belly Button In or Out: Flat

Wedding Rings On or Off: Off. I actually tried to put it back on this weekend when it was cold and it was not happening. Sad face!

Sleep: Pitiful attempts.. still getting up to pee a million times and then have trouble getting comfortable again. Also when I first lay down, I feel like I’m suffocating and I have to take extremely deep breaths before I can relax.

Best Moment This Week: Nolan finally moved the gun safe from Whitlee’s room!! And he added some wind blockers on the bottom of the north side of our house. Last winter we noticed the north wind blows under and makes our house extremely cold, which is fine for us, but we needed to do something different keep the house warmer when she gets here! Nolan had to crawl under the house a million times and I told him he was such a good daddy for doing that for her. He was like “Yea, I know. If it was just us, I definitely wouldn’t be doing this!” 😉

Miss Anything: being able to walk without hurting. Holy back and hip pain!

Movement: Still moving around in there like crazy. Possibly moving into the full belly movements that will be neat to catch on video. It’s a lot less thumps and bumps, and more like she’s stretching, rolling around, and dancing in there!

Cravings: Nothing new or crazy this week. Still digging the flaming hot lime cheetos and Mexican food.

Symptoms: My back and hips are seriously. killing. me. Also have squished lungs, increased PVC’s (premature ventricular contractions that I had pre-pregnancy, but have noticed they’re more frequent. Not dangerous, just sort of annoying), and I noticed that I think I have that “pregnancy mask” people talk about (chloasma). My skin just looks kind of dirty sometimes or like I did my makeup splotchy. I’m also having Braxton Hicks occasionally and it’s kinda neat to know that’s what they are, like the uterus tightening without the pain, as opposed to the real contractions a few weeks ago.

Noteworthy Moments:

Still on the Procardia and everything seems to be okay there. 3 more weeks of that left. I’ll be stopping at 34 weeks and then basically they wont do anything to prevent labor at that time! (Insane to think about!!)

I finally finished the lamp shade for her room.. it was seriously about to kill me. But I love how it turned out!

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My first baby shower is this weekend and I’m so so excited! Then I have another one next weekend and Nolan’s friends are throwing him a diaper party! We and our baby are so loved!

So, great news!! My last ultrasound showed my placenta at 7cm and she wanted it above 4cm, so I officially get to attempt to birth this girl naturally. I’m 100% okay with needing a c section later if there’s something wrong or if I have trouble pushing her out (my mother has a narrow pelvic opening and I’m worried I might run into the same thing), but I at least want the opportunity to try. I have an open mind about the whole thing and a very basic birth plan. I’m determined not set myself up for disappointment and just go with the flow. We talked about my birth plan today, which again is very simple, but I may still do a post talking about it specifically. The only concerning thing about my appointment today was they learned in my last ultrasound she has a nuchal cord, which means they saw her umbilical cord is wrapped around her neck. So scary! But they said that because they know about it, we’re in much better care. We’ll continue the weekly Biophysical Profile ultrasounds to check on her and make sure she’s not in any distress, and they’ll even be able to see if the cord unwraps itself. I also have to keep a very close eye on her movement and get to the doctor or hospital if I notice anything off. So encouraging for a first time mom! Ha!

I don’t think I mentioned it last week but I went to the first class in a 3 series at my hospital and it was so informative! This first one was Labor and Delivery, but it was less about actually birthing a baby and more along the lines of what to expect during delivery at our specific hospital. They showed us an epidural up close, a foley catheter, and the vacuum thing they use to help guide a baby out of the birth canal. They told us they are BIG on skin to skin and breastfeeding so that we can expect a lot of support there. They also have wireless monitoring so if you want to labor freely about your room or walk the halls, you can and still be monitored. They have whirlpool tubs in each room so you can labor in the tub if you don’t have an epidural or other issues going on. There were so many thing that our hospital just does by their standard policies and it made me feel so at ease. It’s also playing large part in my birth plan ending up being more basic because I don’t have to specify as many things. Oh and they did door prizes – there were only 3 of us that showed up (they were expecting 6) and they had 3 prizes so we all got one! I ended up with a pack of diapers and a set of washcloths and hooded towels. I’m really looking forward to the next two – Postpartum/Breastfeeding and Newborn Care. It’s put on by Labor and Delivery nurses, so it’s really neat that we get to meet some of them and basically hang out with them for a couple of hours learning some new things.