Friday, February 26, 2010

More of the good stuff -- pics of lovely Stella

She was really alert today in the middle of the day, so I took some great pics. Don't you think she looks like Tim in these photos? I love the raised eyebrow look. It's one of my faves. I know I'm biased, but seriously, isn't she the cutest baby of all time?

Cardiologist Update

Good news! Stella's hear murmur is a common one that is often found in preemies. It's a pulmonary something-or-other. Can't quite remember exactly what the doctor said (unusual for me, I know). Essentially, the blood leaves the heart and the vessel splits in two to feed blood to each lung. The angle of that split is acute and this causes turbulence in the blood flow and the murmur. The murmur doesn't affect the functionality of her heart. As Stella grows, the angle will change and the turbulence and the murmur should go away. Doc said that she'll most likely outgrow it by the time she's 6 months old. Our pediatricians will monitor her and unless something else comes up, that's all we need to do.

They did an exam, an EKG and an echo of her heart. She was really good for all of them, especially the echo where she needed to lie still for over 30 minutes. We did have to take one break when the technician was pushing the ultrasound probe into her stomach and Stella didn't like it, but overall it went really well. She's such a trooper.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More Doctor Visits

Stella had her second RSV vaccine shot last Friday. RSV is a respiratory virus that most everyone has already been exposed to and usually causes only mild cold like symptoms, but can be very dangerous to preemies and babies with other risk factors. Stella will get one shot every 28-31 days through April. Very expensive -- almost $1000 per dose. We are "lucky" in that we've met our family out of pocket deductible for the year (in February!) and won't even have to pay our co-insurance on it.

During the appointment for the shot, the doctor heard what he thinks could be a small heart murmur. It was very faint, and only detectable because she was so very still when he was examining her. He also said it could be a murmur in the vessels around the heart or in the lungs. So we see the pediatric cardiologist on Friday to check it all out. It's likely to be nothing -- we hope -- but we definitely need to have it checked.

In related info, we got the EOB for Stella's NICU stay. The initial charge to the insurance for the 20 day stay was over $69,000! The negotiated/allowable amount was more than $24,000. Thank God that we actually have insurance. Even with the insurance, you can see why we've met our out of pocket max. Of course, they never show the patient the whole breakdown of the charges, and during the stay we had no idea what it was all costing. (That is a huge part of the health care problem this country is facing!) Add that to the cost of giving birth and this was one heck of a way to start the year. I'm also contesting some of the charges as the amounts we owe are being calculated differently than they told me they would calculate them. I'll post more on that when/if I have the whole story and if I have any energy left to write about it. The whole process with my HR group and the insurance has been hellish and I've had to work very, very hard to even understand what I needed to to after Stella's birth.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Adventures in the Great Outdoors

You would never know it by today's weather, but we've had some great February sunshine in MI the last few days, and I was actually able to take advantage of it!

On Saturday, I bundled up Stella and took her for a walk in her stroller -- for the very first time. First, I had to prove to her daddy that she was going to be warm enough. It was 40 + degrees outside and really sunny and I dressed her in layers. After the diaper, we put on a onesie followed by a fleece outfit that had a hood pulled up over a hat. She had on socks and then mittens (that will fit much better next winter, but did the trick). I put down one blanket under her and covered her up with another. Once that was all accomplished, Tim seemed satisfied, so we set off. We only went around the block as I had to avoid those neighbors that I know don't shovel their sidewalks. Stella seemed to enjoy it, and slept most of the time. I had to be careful to adjust the shade so no sun was on her face as she didn't enjoy the light interrupting her nap!

On Sunday, Tim was skiing, so I took it up a notch and included Bea in the mix. It was a bit windy so this time Stella was in my Moby wrap (tucked in a baby carrier next to my body) and I put my coat on over her and zipped it up. I'm sure people who saw me wondered just what was wrong with me that I looked so misshapen with a strange, uneven lump on my chest! We had a blast, and walked for about 30 minutes. Stella slept again and Bea enjoyed being out of the house -- as did I!

Before Stella was born, I had daydreams about all the walks we'd take in the balmy spring air and the adventures we'd have. I imagined walking to the custard stand and treating myself and the dog to ice cream. I also imagined walking to the Tea/Chocolate shop and stopping for a latte and a treat. Since I'll likely be back at work before the weather cooperates, we'll have to do with short walks in the winter sunshine. I'm still looking forward to hikes and picnics this summer with Tim, Bea and Stella.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

It's been a while that I've posted so apologies for that. I'm well suited for the third shift now as staying up all night is no problem for me. Unfortunately it's time to start getting Stella to sleep some more during the night and attempt to get on some type of wake/feed/sleep schedule. She's starting to sleep for 3 to 4 hours at times so there's some hope of feeding her at 3am and me going to sleep for Sarah to wake up around 7am to feed Stella at that time.

Her official due date was this past Saturday and she's gotten a lot bigger since she was born. She's somwhere between 6 & 7 pounds now and she finally is gaining some baby fat. The width of her back used to fit right in the palm of my hand when I held her on my knee for burping but now she's taking up all of my palm and most of the length of my fingers. She's gained some body width!

Burping is still a challenge with her and sometimes she gets uncomfortable with gas. We've changed to a formula that isn't so milk based as for a time there Stella was just an uncomfortable, gassy mess. We tried some antigas, which seemed to help but it wasn't the magic potion we hoped for. That's when we decided to try the new formula. She's much less gassy, more alert and just plain happier now.

Her exit strategy for pooping is still sporadic but somewhat every other day so the concern over that is pretty much over.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

World Class Talent!

Every parent wants their child to be unique and have special talents that help define them as individuals. Tim would really love Stella to be a pianist and I, of course, want to instill a love of reading. We anxiously watch her every day . . . what will her first accomplishments be?

I'm happy (?) to report that Stella definitely has a future in baby-milk-spitting contests! In fact, she might be a world class talent. Yesterday she spit up her entire meal in only two spits. One went the length of her body and managed to soak the bib, her clothes and the changing table cover. How's that for excellent aim? Now we just have to find the contests and get her registered. She's sure to be in the money in no time :-)

Thursday, February 4, 2010


First Bath (she liked most of it).

Grandpa Douglas holding Stella for the first time.

Grandpa Kirk came to visit.

The View from Mom's arms.

Doctor Visit #2

I made my first "new mom" call to the pediatrician's office yesterday. Stella hadn't had a bowel movement for over 48 hours and I was concerned -- was that normal? It's definitely different than what we saw in the hospital. The nurse asked me a couple of questions and then decided that they wanted to see her. They don't take any risks with such small babies.

It was all fine in the end, she is just an "infrequent pooper." How's that for a diagnosis?! The doc said they are fine with babies going 5-7 days without a bm, if the last one was soft and loose. I'm not sure where they are supposed to put 5 days worth of poop, but can't imagine what that diaper would look like! She still hasn't gone, so I may be able to report out on that in a few days :-)

The best news is that she weighed 5 lb 10 oz. A gain of 8 oz in less than a week! (How much of that do you suppose is the poop she's storing up?) She is definitely plumper and filling out more. She's been eating more, and can also be more cranky. That may be a side affect of filling up with poop. The doc suggested she would get crankier and crankier until she let it all out and then would be more mellow for a while. Oh the adventures of parenting! I'm sure I'll post more on baby poop than I ever thought I would.

Thanks Aunt Katie!

Thanks to Aunt Katie, Tim and I got to go on our first Date Night post Stella. Katie was here last weekend and started to understand the Stella system and feel more comfortable. So on Saturday, she finished up a feeding by changing a diaper and doing the cuddling time while Tim and I put on nice clothes and went to dinner. It was a success! No phone calls were made (I did put the cell phone on the table at the restaurant, just in case) and Katie had some great bonding time with Stella. Apparently she was wide awake and being very cute during the cuddling.

We received a letter from a local restaurant (Erbelli's) congratulating us on the birth of our child and offering a free pizza, cheesy bread and pop. No strings attached, just come on in and let other people know if you had a good time -- what a cool way to promote the restaurant. We love Erbelli's and they have just redone their Portage restaurant and started serving alcohol, so off we went.

I told Tim that we had to have just one topic of conversation that didn't include Stella. He looked at me like I was crazy! What did we have to talk about that didn't somehow link to her? Getting pregnant, staying pregnant, preparing for her birth, and all the events that have followed have consumed almost all of our energy for the past year. Could we even talk about anything else? Luckily, there were TVs and I saw something about the upcoming winter Olympics, so we talked about that. It reminded me of when Tim and I were first dating and getting to know each other. I learned which events are my husband's favorite and why he likes the winter Olympics. I felt connected to him in a way that I haven't for a long time, so it was definitely a wonderful evening.