Thursday, January 21, 2010

Six months ago right now...

I was being prepped for an emergency c-section. And the rollercoaster hasn't stopped since! Sarah was born six months ago tonight, weighing in at a measly 2lbs, 3oz. How far she's come...she had her six month well visit with her pediatrician today and she's a whopping 12lbs, 2oz. Dr. G is very please with her progress overall - her weight gain is steady and her gross motor skills are coming right along. She's not yet rolling over but like everything, it'll come in time. Poor Sarah got three routine vaccinations today along with the first half of her seasonal flu shot (it's only given after six months and is split into two shots given one month apart). She was at least spared the H1N1 (which we absolutely would have given) since she had the actual virus while still in the NICU.

We also discussed the apnea monitor that Sarah is still wearing at night. The first month that she had it after discharge showed only a handful of apnea (alarms if the belt detects no chest movement for 20 seconds) and brady (alarms if her heartbeat drops below 80bpm) episodes, but the information downloaded from the monitor indicated that they were all false alarms. Dr. G wanted us to keep the monitor for one more month and at the time, we felt better having it. In the last week or so, that monitor has become the bane of my existence. We've been getting multiple (ie, CONSTANT) brady alarms at night. They were clearly false alarms based on Sarah's appearance and response and the only way to make them stop was to just turn the monitor off. After a bit of online troubleshooting yesterday, I moved the belt lower on her chest last night and we FINALLY had a night of no alarms. Dr. G wants us to keep the monitor on for one more week with the belt lowered - if we're still alarm free, we can discontinue it!! Woohoo!! I'd love nothing more than to beat the total hell out of that machine, but it's a rental.

We were also given the go ahead to start cereal by spoon (as suggested by Sarah's occupational therapist). Sarah has been getting cereal in her bottle since her reflux diagnosis more than three months ago so it's really just a change in delivery.

We're starting slow for now :-) We'll keep at the cereal for 2-3 weeks and then, as she becomes more comfortable with the spoon, we'll start to add vegetables. My concern was (and will always be) food allergies...most doctors suggest withholding solids until six months because of the development of the digestive system (simply put). I assumed that we would use her corrected age (currently 3mos) here, but according to Dr. G, the key is that her digestive system has been functioning for six months, making it ready to take on more. Now, that's not to say that her mouth is ready...but it'll work itself out. I have an appointment with my allergist next week so I'll be relying on her guidance on which foods to introduce when.

I mentioned Sarah's occupational therapist above - we had her Early Intervention evaluation earlier this week. In a nutshell, she's on par for her adjusted age, but she'll continue to receive services for now. We'll be working with the occupational therapist several times a month to make sure her gross motor skills (and eventually her fine motor skills) continue to progress as she grows.

On a humorous note, Sarah's pedi is at the hospital where she was born so we headed down to the gift shop to buy more parking passes. On the way, we passed by the post-partum area of the women's center and ran into a nurse that I remembered from my second (and THIRD) admissions following Sarah's birth. She remembered me too...and said, "Oh!! You're the persistant staph infection from the end of the hall!!" Um, yeah. Thanks! In labor and delivery I'll always be the "dog lady who spent a month in room 319". In post-partum, I'll always be the "staph infection from the end of the hall"! Oh well, I guess there worse things to be remembered for...!

Monday, January 18, 2010

We're Marching for Babies!

It's amazing that something I knew nothing about just one year ago - premature birth - has become such a huge part of my life. When my water broke on June 21st I was only 23w1d pregnant...I was horrified that we would lose the baby we'd grown to love. I will NEVER forget one moment of that journey. I clung to the stats and stories I found on the March of Dimes website...praying that Sarah would be one of the lucky ones.

No one should have to experience that. Ever. No one should have to wait 19 days to hold their child because of all the wires and tubes. No one should have to decide whether to tend to their responsibilities at home or to spend the day in the NICU with their baby. No one should have to worry that their baby might not survive.

The March of Dimes supports research and therapies that will one day make prematurity a thing of the past. I can't wait until that day comes! In the meantime, we have to continue the fight. Saturday, April 24th is the March of Dimes annual March for Babies - there will be walk locations all over the country, but Team Sarah Francis will be walking in Birmingham. We would love, love, LOVE to have you all join our team and walk with us - visit and search for "Team Sarah Francis" to sign up. If you can't walk with us, please considering donating to our team - you can donate via by using either the link above or the MofD badge on the righthand side of the page. And remember, every penny counts!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Early Intervention

We had a visit this morning from our county's EI service coordinator. This was just to get our paperwork in order prior to Sarah's formal evaluation next week. Ralphie was the only dog in sight when the coordinator came in and of course he had to make sure he was seen. She said, "Oh! You have dogs! What kind?" And I thought, "Oh crap, here we go." I said, "That's Ralphie, our male pit bull...but before you *gasp* he's very nice and we're actually working on his therapy dog certification..." She said, "I have TWO pit bulls at home!!!!" Yay! I like her already! It's nice to NOT have to give my "Yes, I'm pretty sure my dog won't eat my daughter" speil.

Thankfully, tomorrow and Thursday should be quiet for us before our pediatrician appointment on Friday.

Here's Sarah, ready for CiCi's vet appointment this afternoon:

And how we found Frankie when we got home:

"Tearing up my bed?! Who?! ME??" - Frankie

Monday, January 11, 2010

GI follow up

Sarah's GI follow up was this afternoon and Dr. M was very pleased with her weight gain (severe reflux often results in weight loss as well as feeding problems) and the general improvement in her reflux overall. I told a friend just yesterday morning that Sarah's reflux seemed to have improved a good bit lately...and I'll be damned if she didn't have a terrible day of reflux problems after that! That was the first bad day in a few weeks though, and the biggest improvement has been in the "projectile vomit" category. It's been a while since we lost an entire bottle (and a shirt or two) to projectile reflux.

So, since Sarah has gained weight consistently since her last visit, and since her reflux has continued to improve (without an increase in her meds to compensate for her weight gain) we're hopeful that this mess will soon be a thing of the past. Per Dr. M, many babies outgrow the reflux by six months - Sarah will be six months old (chronologically) on the 21st but she won't be six months old (adjusted) until April. He wants us to get thru flu/RSV season first (because reflux is sometimes aggrivated by sinus/respiratory problems and vice versa) and toward the end of March we'll wean Sarah off her Zantac. That plan may change in the meantime, and we may find that she still needs the meds, but it's nice to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel! Two of the four meds she takes multiple times a day are reflux related (the other two being a vitamin and a probiotic) so it will be nice to drop those entirely.

One January doctor's appointment down, three more to go!

Oh and I finished Sarah's new diaper bag last night just in time for our busy month:

Sadly, I started this bag before Sarah was even discharged from the hospital but in honor of UA's 13th National Championship, I decided to get off my tail and finish it up! Roll Tide!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I think we've finally recovered from the holidays, and tomorrow starts our month FULL of doctor visits. Sarah has a routine GI follow up tomorrow, followed by her monthly Synagis shot (to ward off RSV) at the pedi on Friday. Next week we see her pedi again for her six month shots (yikes!) and the following week I see my allergist. Let's see, with copays at $30 each, plus parking for the pedi visits, plus gas...well, at least we have insurance to cover the bulk of the charges!

We also have an appointment with our county's Early Intervention program this Tuesday. Most parents don't want to hear that their child needs EI, but I was relieved when Sarah's physical therapist (who also heads up our county's EI program) assured me she would qualify for services based on the length of her hospital stay alone. I'd prefer we have evaluations and access to therpy services all along rather than get a year down the road and find out that we have problems. This week is the paperwork portion and the following week will be the formal evaluation. All services will be provided at home so we don't even have to take Sarah out.

We're gearing up for the March of Dimes' annual fundraising walk - March for Babies - on April 24th. I've said all along that I owe an awful lot to the March of Dimes and this is the perfect opportunity to give back. Get your walking shoes (and your wallets!) ready and stay tuned for more info on TeamSarah!

Finally, I'm excited to finally get back to a couple of training classes this month. Dog training, that is. Ralphie and I worked so hard back in the Spring to pass his Canine Good Citizen certification...unfortunatley, I was hospitalized shortly thereafter and his training went out the window. We picked up a Level III obedience refresher course last week and we start Rally this week in preparation for his Delta Society (therapy dog) evaluation.

And because I know this is the REAL reason you all come here:

Sarah and may remember him better as her official carseat tester. And let me assure you...Sarah IS all that!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Our "niece" Maxine

Gone one year today. We miss you girl!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Now that's high fashion!

A green diaper, polka dot leggings, a t-shirt that's usually reserved to go underneath her pj's and a pink bib. The bib pulls it all together I think. Oh and don't forget the apnea monitor leads. I'm so tired of those.

And look! You can see that her hair is starting to come back in up top! Now the back of her head...that's another story...

Today marks three years...

Even now, not a day goes by that I don't think of you. Rest well Pepper...we'll see you again.