alicia: July 2007 Archives

They decided that a total gain of 25 gms was ok.
All tubes and wires removed! Emma is ready to go home! Look at her excited smile.

more pix below

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I just got another couple of pics uploaded, and as you can see, she is apparantly thriving - but she is still not gaining weight! And until she starts gaining, she can't go home.

Mom, here you are


Captured mid-yawn, emma relaxes after a breastfeeding session in the pink 'worth the wait' onesie from her great-grandparents. July 24

Emma smiles in her sleep. july 17



emma issues

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I have a specific prayer request that I could use a lot of help on.
Jess has been nursing Emma and Emma is a good eater, Jess has a great supply, the mechanics are going well, BUT,
Emma isn't gaining. In order to go home she needs to start gaining weight. At least 30 gms/day (that's one ounce).
Emma is doing everything else she is supposed to be doing. As you can see from the pix, she is bright eyed and alert.
Please pray specifically that she will start gaining weight so that she can go home to be with her mom.

look at her go!

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Emma has tummy time on her boppy. July 23

She is now allowed to breast feed every other feeding. Her primary neonatologist was talking about discharging her 'soon'.

sweetness and crankiness

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Emma tries out the bouncyseat to try to sleep

Emma has been able to breastfeed at least twice now. Her TPN has been completely disconnected (though the central line is still in place).

wearing a pretty dress given to her by her auntie B.
All she needs to do now to go home is to be able to eat enough and keep it down.
She is battling with reflux ( sometimes known as colic).
But every day is a little better.

midwifery in the news again


technology meme

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From my blog buddy CJMostGladly
Cell phones

1. How long have you had a cell phone? (If you don't have one, why not? What would prompt you to get one?)
I got my first cell phone in 1997 as part of my job in Oregon. I rarely used it, but I needed to be able to answer pages without having to find a pay phone. As a midwife, my cell phone is my friend, and it makes it possible to go places that a pager alone doesn't. Over the years, my cell phone usage has gradually increased. None of my children have land lines (only cell phones) and with the in-plan free calls, I spend a lot of time on the cell phone. And lately, I have been using the photo feature that I once swore was a useless addition.
2. How much do you use it?
A lot.
3. Do you get jittery without it?

1. How many computers in your house? Right now, 4. One is a laptop that is being refurbed for one of the kids, one is my laptop, one is John's desktop and the other is his laptop (that travels with him). We have had at least one PC in the household since at least 1980 (our very first PC, a Radio Shack TRS-80 color computer)
2. How much time do you spend on the computer in a day?
It all depends on the day. Anywhere from zero to several hours. Right now I have 1100 plus unread emails that I am studiously ignoring.
3. How does the time break down? (work/play/email/blogs/etc.)
That also varies. In the office, it is pretty much all work. At home, I do research, read and answer emails, blog, read blogs, play Scrabble, play Freecell and listen to EWTN radio on the computer - and these activities are not mutually exclusive. I also write - and I am not always sure if this is work or play. I have also in the past taken on-line classes and for 2 years I taught in an on-line distance learning program.
4. If your computer malfunctions, do you-
1. Log in as root and fix the problem in a few swift keystrokes? (by root, do you mean administrator?)Very rarely,
2. Get some online help and fix it yourself with slightly slower keystrokes? If the problem is amenable to this kind of help - that would mostly be network issues or help with my peripherals.
3. Enlist outside help? from whom? How does he or she respond when you ask for assistance?
I married an engineer - and one of my sons works for Symantec (Norton Anti-virus folks). My mom is a systems analyst (retired) and my step-dad is a hardware engineer (retired). Who do you think I call?
My family is all about geeks. We work together. I can figure out simple stuff but I am not really a hardware person.
4. Opt for the wishful thinking computer repair strategy, also known as the reboot-with-fingers-crossed strategy?
That is not wishful thinking, it is a legitimate strategy, especially with Microsoft based products. It also helps to clean out the trash files and declutter the hard drive. Cleanliness is next to high fidelity.


1. What techno-gadget would you most like to own?
I really don't know. Kids - what would I want that I don't have? maybe a convert my vinyl collection to CD gadget?
2. Of those you own (including PDA, iPod, etc.), which would you miss most acutely if you dropped it in the lake accidentally while canoeing?
My Palm Pilot. But I wouldn't be canoeing. I might get wet.
3. What's something you'll never buy? (Careful with the nevers, though, says this brand new cell phone owner.) Never say never. I'm not likely to invest in a home theater system or a plasma TV, though.

I am going to tag Julie D, Pansy and Peony, and the Summa Mamas

today's special

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When Jess was little, there was a show on Nickelodeon called "Today's Special". I think it was an import from the CBC, but I could be wrong. For some reason, the theme song to that show has been playing in my brain ever since I saw today's picture.

Somehow, the nurses managed to get Emma into a premie sized outfit! Pretty amazing considering that her weight is in excess of 3600 grams.

She's continuing to eat and digest real food (aka momma's milk) even with her vomiting and spitting episodes. Her TPN is being steadily decreased. We still don't have a discharge date planned yet, but the wheels are turning in that direction.

I firmly believe that every prayer has made a difference.

Look at her grow!

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This is what greeted Jess when she got to the hospital today.

The nurses had fun dressing her up for Sunday.

It has been a rocky week, though. Emma had some episodes of vomiting and they backed down on her feedings. They started her at 30 cc every 3 hours, and upped it regularly. But when they got to the point where she vomited, they backed it down to 20 cc every two hours. They also reduced the thickening agent from nectar consistency to honey consistency, and that has also helped. Here is her auntie B feeding her.

The plan is still to eventually get her taking her momma's milk directly from the producer. Pumping is an exhausting full-time job, whereas nursing directly is simply a full-time job!
At least now, with the tube count down to one (her central line) and the monitors less critical, Emma can be swaddled like a normal baby (or a burrito/egg roll).
She is also using an orthodontic pacifier for suck training, and she has figured out how to hold it in her mouth herself.

Jess emailed me the picture she took of me saying byby to Emma last week. Has it only been a week? I sure miss my girls.

Anyhow, she seems to be making progress, in general. There have been setbacks but we can see that she will be going home soon, if not as soon as we had hoped.

I wish that I had more flexibility in my work schedule, but it is what it is. It would also be nice if there were decent train or air travel schedules from here to there......

Views from the veranda


It was wonderful to hear Dawn Eden speak in person. She is very real and personable - not the most polished public speaker, but the vocal pauses help the audience to realize that this is a human being sharing on an intimate and important topic, and not an automaton.

The church where she spoke was indeed a beautiful Gothic church with a veranda, and since the weather co-operated, it was an outdoor presentation. I'm glad we went.

This last week I have been attempting in vain to get caught up on sleep. My time with my daughter and granddaughter was obviously short on sleep due to the circumstances, and also because my old bones don't do well sleeping on an air mattress on the floor. And of course, the work doesn't go away just because I was gone - my midwifery partner attended 13 births during the week I was gone. We've been busy signing up newly pregnant moms, and it looks like we are going to be very busy around the first of next year. I've been getting daily Emma updates and pictures and I will be posting at least a few of them in the next entry.

dawn in the evening

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Eden, that is.
Story to follow. Cell phone pix don't do her justice!
Worth the 3 hour round trip drive.

look ma, no tubes

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After she pulled out her NG tube, they decided to leave it out and just keep nipple feeding her. Still not on the breast directly, but right now the goal is to get her to the point where she can be off the TPN and on 100% oral feeds. She is close to halfway there right now. They are starting to talk about discharge planning. Keep up the prayer.

This post is a little late because John and I went to hear Dawn Eden speak in Chicago. More on that later.

In today's news


Today the speech pathologist was scheduled to evaluate Emma's swallowing ability.
Her is a picture of Emma set in to X-ray for her Modified Barium Swallow.

A patient needing further investigation will most likely receive a Modified Barium Swallow (MBS). Different consistencies of liquid and food mixed with barium sulfate are fed to the patient by spoon, cup or syringe, and x-rayed using videofluoroscopy. A patient's swallowing then can be rated using the Penetration Aspiration Scale. The scale was developed to describe the disordered physiology of a person's swallow using the numbers 1-8 (Rosenbek et al., 1996). Not all examiners will use this scale.
(from wikipedia)
In this case, they used a bottle with various kinds of nipples.


Emma was not happy with this test. She was hungry.

Emma's mom and I were not happy with what was recommended. Thickened feedings (breast milk and a gelling agent) with a cross-cut bottle nipple. Emma also managed to pull out her NG feeding tube.

It was not a good day. Stay tuned. Keep praying.

Home again (me, not emma!)

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Awake here, this is just after she was fed.
If you look really closely, you can see her Miraculous Medal pin hanging from the Emma towel.
Her shirt - well there is a story there. She is limited in her clothing choices, but we want to dress her up if possible. So my youngest daughter and I took needle and thread and sewed decorations to her undershirt. This is also helpful so that they don't disappear in the hospital laundry. I sewed the blanket stitch on the one in this picture.
This was actually the last picture I took before I hit the road earlier today. I made it home OK. Back to work tomorrow at the usual grueling schedule.

Most recent update - they are changing her TPN, it will be a lower level as she seems to be tolerating and absorbing the nutrients from her gut.

farewell for now princess

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Meme is going home. Last pic before I hit the road. I hate driving and this is a run through 3 states to reach my home state. 10 hours total on the road.

Emma is up to 20 cc q 3 hours now!

Is this really where we want to go?


Hospital group rejects system and cashes in - Los Angeles Times
You will need to be registered at LA Times to read the article.

tie me kangaroo down, sport

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We had a few errands to run today before getting to the hospital to be with Emma. I am leaving tomorrow and will not be able to be back for quite a while - I've used up almost all my time off and I still have a wedding to go to later this year.

Emma is up to 15 cc per feeding now. We have been here about an hour and have had to change 3 wet diapers. She is still getting most of her nutrition from the TPN but I think that they will have to start tapering that down. Jess is pumping incredible amounts and her freezer is almost full of milk, there is barely room for ice cream or frozen veges! We brought in about 3 days worth of pumping to the hospital and were told that they are running out of room here as well.

The kangaroo session went very well. She nuzzled and snuggled and looked very interested in this whole skin-to-skin stuff, but after a while she started to get fussy and we realized that she had a wet diaper. She hates being in a wet diaper.

So it has been a great day so far. I am going to hate being away from her. Hopefully my daughters will send me daily picture updates.

July 6, 2007

| | Comments (1) was down yesterday so I couldn't post this. Emma is making great progress. When we left the hospital last night, she was on room air and maintaining oxygenation at a normal level. Thay had advanced her feedings from electrolyte solution to colostrum, and had advanced the volume to 10 cc every 3 hours. The neonatal nurse practitioner also wrote an order for Jess to start doing 'kangaroo care' where the baby and mom spend time skin to skin. We left last night before starting that as we were all pretty tired.

no pictures yet today

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Emma has had a stressful morning. When they tried to give her a nipple feeding two nights ago, her blood oxygen levels dropped and so they stopped the trial feedings. Today there was an informal team conference where the plan of action was discussed and argued over until we came up with one that everyone could live with. It was emotionally draining. I don't think that the medical staff is used to family that respectfully disagrees with them on any points, major or minor. It is a fine line to draw between respecting the professional's specialized knowledge and skill, and requiring that the patient be treated as an individual. It is very easy to get put on the medical roller coaster of standardized care - and while standards are very important, there is an art as well as a science involved.

Hospital personnel (and I include myself here, as I have seen myself fall into the same pattern) become so accustomed to the technology and the pathology in their environment that they can fail to recognize just how scary it call all be to the unititiated. Take that staple screening tool of the inpatient - the chest x-ray(CXR). If you see a radiology tech pushing the portable x-ray through the halls of just about anyplace, it is a fair bet that he is either coming from or heading to doing a CXR. Elevated temp? Elevated white count? Unexplained just about anything, the diagnostic workup is likely to include a CXR. If you add in those done to confirm the proper placement of a tube, you can see that lots of them could be done on one very small child. How much is too much? and when does one truly need to be done?

When you have a baby like Emma who is a 1 in 25,000 cases scenario, with 2 major congenital anomalies but normal chromosomal exam, it gets even more complicated to know what the best practice and care should be. I worry that her neuro docs and her GI docs/surgeons are not always talking to eah other. Further complicating the care is that she is assigned a neonatologist as her primary care physician. This guy is supposed to co-ordinate her care but I am not sure that this has been happening.

Anyhow, we are working on it all. Specific prayer request for all of you. Emma is getting tube feedings starting today, and on Monday 7/9 they will try to nipple feed her again. If she tolerates that well, they will continue. But if not, they will have to do an x-ray procedure to see if she has issues with swallowing that might be an ongoing problem. Please pray that the tube feeding will go well and that the nipple feeding will as well. Thanks.

Gastroschisis in the news


2 weeks old today

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Cell phone pix aren't the best but they are the fastest way I have to keep things up to date.
Emma's Auntie C saw a dress as Target and sent me the picture, I was able to find it here and today she is wearing it. It is a great because it snaps all the way down the back and so we can put it on her with all her tubes and monitors.
She is getting to use a pacifier for suck training and for soothing. She has a great suck and we are hoping that eventually she will get to nurse directly.
For some reason, the cell phone double exposed this one, but the expression is so cute that I saved it anyhow.
I finally have access to some of the very early pix that were taken on a real camera. I may post one or two after I look them over for suitability.

We have had some wonderful nurses here at the Children's Hospital. Today we brought them in a loaf of Amish Friendship Bread (I dragged my starter with me down here so that it wouldn't die in my absence).

more milestones

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Her NG drainage tube is clamped off, and if she tolerates that they will give her a test feed of a teaspoon of oral electrolyte solution to see how she does.
I can't believe that she is now nearly 2 weeks old! Her original EDC is the day after tomorrow....
Her mom so loves to hold her, and it is so hard with all the tubes and wires that she still needs. But where there is a will, there is a way.

picture day for emma

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This is a really bad cellphone picture, but it is what I could get. Today has been what I have been calling picture day. She has been getting ultrasound pix of various parts, and x-rays, and later today an MRI. Part of this is the genetics workup and part is just routine for her conditions.

She has been doing really well today. She has slept well with minimal fussy periods, and she is calming and soothing more easily than even two days ago. She has also had periods of quiet alertness where she just seems to be taking in everything. She definitely recognizes her mother's voice and touch. Her NG tube is showing minimal drainage and she has been peeing and pooping, both of which are very good things. I am hoping that they will soon feel comfortable starting her on real feedings.

NFP and midwives in the news

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liveblogging emma

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So I made it back here yesterday after a 10 hour drive. Saw Emma last night around midnight for about 10 minutes and now I'm back again. This pic is almost in real time - I have to send the pic from my cell phone to my email, save it, upload it, and then here it is. That is my hand holding her arm. And somehow, the nurses managed to get her into a onesie that says "little miracle". It's a miracle to me how they got her into it with all of her tubes and lines!


She's doing OK. Has had some fussing last night, and they are watching her closely to be sure that her heart rate doesn't get too high. Pain management is important but difficult for newborns, and in her case it is complicated by the fact that she can't have anything by mouth yet.

Her mom has a freezer full of milk just waiting for the day.

She is smiling at me right now, and her eyes are opn and looking around. bye!

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by alicia in July 2007.

alicia: June 2007 is the previous archive.

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