Welcome Home // The End of Our 218 Days in the NICU

Hello, sweet, sweet peoples!

It has been far too long. There’s been a lot going on (not to mention a laptop needing a repair shop). Most wonderfully, we are home! After 63 days of hospitalized bedrest and 218 days in the NICU (281 all together!) the Duncan #partyof3 finally made it home.

We were discharged from St. Louis Children’s Hospital June 26th; we’ve been home a grand total of 42 days. It is absolutely glorious! Forty-two days to begin adjusting to having a baby at home. Forty-two mornings waking up to being in the same house, in our own beds, and forty-two nights of baths, snuggling, and enjoying every moment together at last.

Here are some pictures of our days together! (Click on them for a larger view) πŸ™‚

We are so thankful to be home. Uriah’s life has been a full adventure and God has been exceedingly good to us! Sometimes, as I rock Uriah to sleep, I ponder the events of the last 10 months. From the moment my water broke at 24 weeks (and even beyond that!) all the way to Uriah being born and having multiple surgeries, close calls, and the difficulties living 2 hours way from home God has been present, loving us and preparing us every step of the way.

There is still a lot of growth and development we are working on but Uriah is making amazing progress! He just weaned off his oxygen (woohoo!) and we will begin discussing ventilator weans at his next appointment. His g-button has healed nicely and we do weekly tastings of thickened milk; sadly, it’s still not safe for him to eat by mouth (due to silent aspiration) but, Lord willing, we will get there. These things just take time, patience, and hard work. πŸ™‚ His VP shunt seems to be working perfectly! We had his 6 month shunt anniversary in May; it’s often said that if a shunt lasts 6 months it is a good possibility it will work for quite a time. Below is a comparison of his first MRI (on the far right) taken at birth, to an MRI done after the shunt was placed (middle), and the most current MRI (far left). See the amazing difference in those white areas of the brain? That is the brain’s ventricles shrinking as the brain expands and the excess cerebral fluid drains away. What a blessing!

As far as personality and development Uriah is absolutely wonderful! He has the sweetest, funnest personality ever. He loves to chew on everything, stick his tongue on Mom and Dad when we kiss him, talk around his trach, roll on the floor, play with his toys, and listen to music and Mommy read. He loves snuggling with his bear-bear (a grey, silky bear and blanket) before bed and then he sleeps a full 8 hours (usually). He’s always happy to wake up and start the day — a true beam of sunshine in our lives!

 

Some things we are looking forward to? Starting weekly physical therapy visits! πŸ™‚ Uriah loves to roll around but before he can start crawling he needs more muscle development in his neck, core, and arms and tummy time plus therapy will really help! We’re also excited for his highchair which should be arriving this week! I can’t wait for him to have a special place to sit with a tray! And, one day, we’ll feel more comfortable taking Uriah on trips so we can go visit our family. That will be exciting!

There’s so much more to share but I’ll hold off till a later day; I can’t wait to begin writing again. Being home is, for me, such a special time and I adore the mundane, daily tasks I get to accomplish. Cooking, baking, decorating, cleaning … it all has a new meaning after being away since last September. πŸ™‚ I’m sure one day I’ll grow tired of the never-ending tasks but for now I savor them and squeeze them in between the moments of play, snuggling, and work with Uriah.

In the mean time, thank you all for your love, prayers, and friendship. I so appreciate your being patient with my lack of commenting. Our laptop is currently out of commission but once repaired I hope to be back in this community again. Until then!

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Songs for the Christian Mom in the NICU

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It’s laundry day at the Ronald McDonald House and, while I wait for my load to finish drying, I thought I’d share some of the songs that have inspired, encouraged, and helped me over the last several months when my waters broke at 24 weeks, the 6 weeks of bed rest in hospital, and now on our NICU journey.

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Hello, Mommyhood. Goodbye, Perfection. (NICU Style)

A 2 minute read about embracing mommyhood and releasing fear @ AuthenticVirtue.com

It’s an interesting thing being a first time mom. Even more interesting is learning how to care for your first child in the confines of NICU walls. Between the breathing tubes, alarms, flashing lights, and wires there is a beautiful, tiny, precious soul yearning for your love, care, and touch.

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Baby Update: 37 Days Old and Growing!

 

Hello, sweet people!

Uriah is now 37 days old! What a beautiful thing it has been to have him in our lives! There have been several exciting blessings over the last few weeks and I’ll share them below!

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Here I am holding Uriah for the first time when he was 3 weeks old. What a special, delightful moment. So special!

Here we are at 28 days old when Uriah got his breathing tube out! This was a glorious day! Just the day before I had asked the doctor for a best case scenario of when the tube would come out and she had replied a week. The next morning we walked in to him being extubated! πŸ˜€ Since then I have heard him make lots of grunts and squeaks and one cry (he couldn’t make sounds while intubated). (Isn’t this picture adorable! He makes the cutest face when he looks at us! His forehead wrinkles are to die for!)

Uriah celebrated his first Christmas wearing clothes for the very first time! How stylish! πŸ˜‰

Eyes wide open! We love it when our little boy is wake; he’s so fun! He is starting to wake up before meal times and occasionally sucks on his hand and thumb! He is eating 68 mils every three hours! Woohoo!!

Some other exciting news:

  • Uriah is no longer intubated or on CPAP; his breathing support is simply a flowing, humidified oxygen which is being weaned as he is able to tolerate it
  • He is holding his own temperature and may be moved to a real crib soon!
  • A speech therapist has begun meeting Uriah as we begin “swallow therapy.” Right now he gets all of his meals through an NG tube but we dip a paci into milk and let him practice sucking (which he seems to really like!). We hope to get a swallow study done this week which will tell us how well he is able to suck, swallow, and breath.
  • Uriah is more active than ever! This is day 5 or 6 of being totally morphine free (required for his surgeries) and we really think he enjoys not being sedated. And we sure love watching him move, stretch, and interact more often!
  • Last week, Uriah had a pretty serious blood acid issue which mystified the doctors. He wasn’t responding to a large dose of medicine they had given him to correct the high levels which led the doctors to believe he had a metabolic disorder; ultrasounds were taken of his kidneys and liver while genetics were requested. Yet, none of the specialists could find a reason for him to be referred to them; his kidneys and liver did not seem to be involved and the geneticist felt he didn’t have the right symptoms for a gene issue. The high dose of ineffective medicine upset his tummy and led to him being dehydrated so a new medicine was chosen. We thank the Lord that he began to show improvement and now his levels have remained normal for the last 3 days! We still do not know what caused the issue but we are blessed it has disappeared!
  • Uriah has the sweetest personality! He is so content, patient, interested, and sweet. He rarely cries even during hard things like heel pricks for blood draws. He works really hard at focusing on our faces and lifts his eyebrows when he is interested in something.
  • Our little 5 weeker (who should technically still be in my tummy at 38 weeks!) is now 6 pounds and a few ounces.
  • Uriah’s shunt seems to be working really well. The incision site has healed nicely and his head has stabilized, not loosing fluid too fast or too slow.

Thank you for all of the love, prayers, and sweet words you have sent to us! We are blessed and loved. God is so good!

I want to start blogging again but, to be honest, I have no idea what to write. I feel like I’m still in survival mode and all I can think about is Uriah, snuggling with Dalton, being with my family, going home, and coffee. Oh, and sweets. I’ve got a huge addiction to sweets I’m trying to master. And also Netflix. I’m sort of addicted to Call the Midwives and Lost again. I keep feeling like I have to figure out who I am … I’m a mom now but I’m not able to do all the mommy stuff one would normally do. I’m not busy changing diapers and breastfeeding; I have to wait to do all of that. I’m too tired to think spiritual thoughts other than mere whispers to the Lord. I haven’t made a homemade dinner in ages and haven’t been home since my water broke in September. Maybe I’m going through my mid-life crisis as I am turning 27 in a few weeks and am realizing that I am closer to 30 than 20. The beautiful thing is that it’s okay that I am changing; I just need to be able to go with the flow. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, I love and appreciate each of you. Thank you for following our journey and blessing us along the way. God is a good, good Father and we have seen Him work so much good in our lives through this difficult time.

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Resting after Surgery // Our NICU Journey

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It’s a quiet, early morning at our Ronald McDonald House. I’ve found my way into the large kitchen and brewed a pot of hot coffee. This is my quiet time to reflect on all that life has involved. I’m sitting by the lumpy, lit Christmas tree reading Psalms 9 by the twinkling lights.

We’ve made it. Uriah is 19 days old today and it feels like we’ve made it. His shunt, meant to drain the build up of cerebral fluid, was successfully placed yesterday afternoon and already his head has decreased in size by .9 . I’ve been told that children who are old enough to speak often say their heads feel better the day of surgery. I imagine Uriah may be feeling some of the benefits of the decreased pressure. (This makes my mommy-heart want to weep with joy!)

We’ve made it. We’ve walked through premature rupture of membranes, bed rest, infection, a placental tear, and a labor/c-section that wasn’t typical. We’ve made it through 19 days of intubation, iv lines, a TE Fistula surgery, a newly placed NG feeding tube, and now, finally, the shunt placement.

And all I want to do in my quiet, coffee-filled, Christmas tree lit spare moment is cry and laugh and sing and cry some more.

God has been amazingly, wonderfully here and good. “I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee; I will sing praise unto thy name, O thou most High. When my enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at they presence. For thou hast maintained my right and my cause …” Psalms 9Β 

We still have a journey ahead of us. Shunts fail and get infected; they need to be replaced and sometimes frequently. Uriah’s still recovering from pneumonia-like illness and his little right lung is still healing from being mucous-filled and occasionally collapses. We have no idea what amount of damage was caused by the pressure build-up and we have no idea how much his brain will “fluff”.” (Although we have very high hopes and have been given a good prognosis). And along with the recovery from the CF build-up our little one may face difficulties reaching milestones since he was born early.

But all of that can wait. All of those unknowns can be faced one step at a time. Because today our little boy has less pressure in his head than ever before. Today, our little one has conquered his last foreseen surgery (although realistically there may be more). But for today, we’ve made it. Today we get to focus purely on recovery and growth and feedings and milestones and being weaned from the ventilator. Today, the sun is shining brighter than it has all week and my heart feels lighter than it has in a long while.

Thank You, Father, for caring for us. Thank You for giving us such a brave, strong, sweet little boy. Thank You for his Hydrocephalus and for his pneumonia and for his TE Fistula. They are things I wish I could take away and never make him face but they are things You have been Victor and Healer in and You are wise in all that You send to us. Thank You for caring for us through other people; thank You for the financial gifts, encouraging cards, and sweet messages and visits you’ve sent us through friends and family and strangers. We have never been without and we have never seen You fail and I trust You in this journey. Β 

What journey are you facing today? Are you at the beginning, middle, or end? Have you seen God carry you through or are you in a waiting phase? Comment below — I’d love to be able to pray for you.

Love, blessings, and coffee (and a chocolate cupcake) πŸ˜‰ ,

Frannie