Sunday, August 31, 2008

5 Pounds and Much More

Alexa reached 5 lbs. last Wednesday. She continues to get bigger and become more like a new baby. Since she's now past her due date we can officially say she's a newborn. Just when I thought being a mom couldn't get harder, she now officially also has colic. Needless to say, we often have really late night, or rather early mornings, and we've spent a lot of time sleeping on the couch so Trevor can sleep. I've really been trying to live in the moment and not try to wish for her to get bigger or develop faster, but these are not the moments I want to last for very long.

A few days ago Trevor told me I created a monster. The following night we were up until 3:30AM. It was then that he understood that you do whatever it takes to keep her from screaming. Grandma LaRue gave her a massage, which she loved, and it seemed to help relieve some of her discomfort.

It's not all bad. When she's awake she responds a lot more to people talking/singing to her and seems to enjoy it. Especially her Grandpa Petersen. If we can get a consent a video will be posted soon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Our First Outing to the Park

This was her expression all the way to the park. I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head. I guess she was a little worried about the stroller thing (or so excited she couldn't stand it).

When we got to the park it took a good 5 min. for us to get the carseat/stroller figured out, then another 3.2 min. to get her situated (little exageration for emphasis). The first 5-7 minutes of the walk went pretty good, then she all of a sudden didn't like it. We turned around to head back to the car and the road got a little bumpy and she stopped fussing, from there on out she was silent. All in all I'd say it was a successful outing.
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Saturday, August 23, 2008


Another sizable picture. I love this one. I actually think this is one of the last times she was content for an extended period of time. If she wasn't so cute it would make this whole parent thing so much harder. Yesterday she was 4lbs. 15 oz. (she had just eaten).

She's getting to be really fussy, especially in the evenings and I hold her a lot! She's on 2 different reflux meds now and who really knows if they're helping. The doctor said one of them will possibly make her irritable - yup it did!

We're going for our first stroller outing. She's still not able to go out in public, but we thought a little fresh air would do us all some good. I'll let you know how she does.

Well, it appears Stephanie was the closest (and the only participant) - $170 grand - Good thing for insurance. This is only her birth and hospital stay. She currently sees a home health nurse 2x/week and will be getting the RSV shots come October. (a round of 5 shots @ approx. $2,000 a pop.) Again - good thing for insurance. Everyone said having a baby was expensive, but we had no idea she would end up being this much! It's also said that they just get more expensive, but I think in Alexa's case she's going to get cheaper. (If not we're in big trouble)

After all this, we wouldn't trade her for anything. She has already brought so much joy and adventure to our lives. She may look cute to all of you, but she also has the most adorable personality - she's very animated and dramatic even at her very early age (2 mths, or 6 days which ever you choose to go by).
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Alexa's Stay at the NICU

Any guesses on how much 52 days in the NICU costs?

Happy Birthday

We decided to celebrate Alexa's 0th birthday. She's probably the only baby in the world to have a 0th birthday party. We had cake and ice cream, and she got some new shoes that are waaayyyy too big for her. She's officially passed her expected birth date, so as far as developmental standards, she's two days old!

Alexa is doing a little better today and last night than she did this past weekend. She has really been scaring us with her breathing episodes. It's hard to imagine what would happen if the monitor wasn't constantly alerting her (and us) that she is forgetting to breathe. It kind of makes me wonder how anyone had kids that survived without technology and modern medicine.

Grandma has been over helping paint Alexa's room for the past few days. It's really making her room come together nicely. We painted it bright green, with her name in pink on the wall, and pink flowers all around the room. We think it looks good anyway...
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Life at home

Today makes a week with Alexa at home with us. It's been really nice to have her close by. She's been doing well eating and sleeping. I also think she's filling out a little bit in her face.

Last night was pretty eventful. She has her monitor that measures her breathing rate and heart rate. It sounds like a smoke detector when it goes off. Last night it went off so many times I lost count. It kept saying she wasn't breathing, but when we looked at her, she looked fine. We're wondering if when the alarm went off it would scare her and she would start breathing again. Anyway, we still need your prayers as does little Alexa. Tomorrow is her due date, when she will officially be 0. We were thinking of having a birthday party for her.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well, we're on day 3 at home. The first night was pretty rough. Alexa woke up about every hour and slept most of the following day. I was aware of the sleep deprivation beforehand, but I had no idea it would be this bad. Well, the last 2 nights have gone much better. She's sleeping about 3-4 hours at a time, day and night. We had a little trial and error of her sleeping situation. The first night we tried the bassinet until 3AM, then tried the carseat. The carseat was out best bet with a 3 hour strech, so the above picture is her makeshift sleeping quarters for the time being. It actually works out really well for everyone.

In addition, I got tired of trying to keep her dry by changing her outfit every time she spit-up, so she now has a permanent bib (color coordinated of course) - which has helped tremendously. Most of her major spit-up jobs are down the front of mommy (another joy of parenthood).

Since her arrival home Alexa has only had a handful of events and even then she came out of them almost instantly on her own. Another answer to all the prayers.

Despite the many responsibilities and life changes, we are so happy to have her home. We have been so blessed to have such a special little girl. The many prayers and support have been a great strength and without a doubt have carried us through. We cannot express the gratitude we feel for all the help that has been so unselfishly given in our behalf. Thank you all so very much.
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Sunday, August 10, 2008


We finally made it home tonight at about 6:00, after a nice quiet day at the hospital. Alexa did well today and the doctor and nurses felt comfortable with sending her home. She didn't cry too much in the car, and we stopped by the Freeman sign next to Johnny Carinos to take a picture of her name on it.

I know we're not out of the woods yet, but I really feel like this whole experience has been a real faith builder for our family. They say you don't receive a testimony until after the trial of your faith. That's been so true in our experience. It's been so hard to see all the other babies come and go, but to have to stay behind with Alexa. I still don't even know why it was such a hard thing - she was never close to death or anything like that, but at times it almost seemed like it was more than we could handle. I really think this whole experience has tried our faith, and given us such a stronger testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We've been able to feel of their love and see the little miracles and answers to prayers.

One answer to prayer that sticks out in my mind happened just yesterday or the day before. Alexa was starting to have problems again with her stomach, and we were really worried that she might have to stop eating and take the IV again. We prayed (and many of you prayed with us) that she would recover, but also that the doctor and nurses would know how to help her. That night, we left a little discouraged, and thinking that this would set us back atleast another week or so. During the night our nurse thought to ask the doctor if they could discontinue her milk fortifier. The doctor thought that was a good idea, so they did and she ate well the rest of the night, and the next day also. I guess you could look at that as a coincidence, but for us it was an answer to prayer
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Rooming In

Last night on the 5th attempt, we were finally able to room in with Alexa. Basically they let her stay with us in a room in the hospital all by ourselves. It's basically just to make sure we can take care of her and she doesn't have any problems out of the NICU. It was more or less a sleepless night, but at the same time it's starting to finally feel like we might get to take her home.

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the Ronald McDonald House in Joplin, where we've been staying. There was a huge celebration and Ronald himself came down to visit. He came to the NICU and took pictures with the babies there, and he handed out RMH tshirts. Then KOAM news interviewed us. It was supposed to be on at 6 and 10, but I never saw our interview. It's probably a good thing though. At the celebration we saw one of the families that were our friends and roommates in the NICU. It was hard to believe that they'd already been gone a month! Alexa is pretty close to having seniority there, or atleast in our end of the NICU. It was kind of a bittersweet experience walking out of there with her. We're so glad to finally get out of there, but at the same time we've really come to love all the people there, that it's been hard to leave.

Hopefully, all will go well today and we'll be able to take her home late this afternoon. I think to say we're excited would be just a little of an understatement.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Pictures

Alexa's new pictures are on the link at the right, or here

Feel free to leave your comments on how cute you think she is.

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On Monday, a photographer came by and took several pictures of Alexa. It's done by a professional photographer who volunteers her time and resources for all babies in the NICU. She doesn't charge anything and even gives us all the pictures on a CD and a copyright release so we can have them printed. A lot of them turned out really good. We'll put them on her Picasa site.

Alexa received her blood transfusion today. The doctor is hopeful that she will start perking up, since her red blood cell count was so low. They have also changed her reflux medicine just in case that was also causing problems. She looked really pale this morning, but she has really got alot of her color back since receiving the blood. Things were a little scary this morning with all of this going on, but as I was thinking about it, I had a really good feeling come over me about the whole thing. And something about that made me know that Alexa was going to be OK in spite of everything that had happened. We really appreciate everyone who has prayed with us and for us. I know it's working - just look at her!
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Another Delay

Sunday the nurses and doctor told us we would be able to take Alexa home Friday. We decided not to tell anyone, for fear of bad karma. Last night we were still on for staying the night with her and taking her home Friday. We said bye to all our friends and took pictures with all the nurses. Then, this morning our nurse told us Alexa had a serious episode last night that required oxygen to stabilize her. So, they've delayed her going home again. I guess it's a good thing she's not going home until she's ready - we're just ready for her to be ready. The doctor doesn't know what's wrong with her yet. He's concerned that her episodes are becoming more frequent and that she's having a hard time maintaining her body temperature. They did some tests on her this morning and because her red blood cell count was low, they decided she needs a transfusion. They'll do that today at 1:30.
As always, your prayers are much appreciated, felt, and needed.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Petersen Look-alike Meter

MyHeritage: Look-alike Meter - Family search - Vintage photos

Four Pounds!!!

Alexa finally made it to four pounds! A landmark that has proven to be somewhat of an illusive white rabbit. Our next goal is to take her home. The Ronald McDonald house (where we have been staying for the last 6 weeks) is having their 10 year anniversary this Saturday. There's going to be a huge celebration and Ronald himself is going to make an appearance. He might even be coming to the NICU for some photo ops. I really, really, really hope we're home when all that goes down. Eating with Ronald is one thing, but a visit and photos is just a little over the top for me.

Alexa is eating really well, and doesn't seem to have any problems besides her occasional heart rate/ breathing episodes. We really just want to take her home - but at the same time we want to make sure she's ready too. She's right at two weeks shy of her expected due date, and we've been in the hospital for just under 7 weeks now.
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Car Seat, CPR, and Monitors

The past couple days have been more waiting around and two more disappointing scheduled departures that have come and gone. Alexa has had a few heart rate and breathing episodes these last couple of days. It hasn't been anything major, just one or two a day. The doctor doesn't know whether it's because of acid reflux or if it's sleep apnea. All the nurses think it's reflux. They have medicine that can help that, but the doctor is hesitant to start her on anything until he knows for sure what it is. The regular ENT doctor is on vacation, so we've had to wait a couple more days for a surgeon to come look at her (I can't wait to see that on our bill). So tomorrow morning he'll look at her throat and decide whether she has reflux or not. Also, tomorrow we are getting trained on the heart rate monitors. They're planning on us taking a monitor home for a while, so we have to get some kind of training. I don't really see what there is to train about - if it goes off, there is something wrong, how hard can it be??

Alexa did her car seat test Sunday. They like to put them in their car seat and let them stay in there for awhile on the monitors to make sure they can still breathe and are comfortable. There must have been 5 or 6 nurses in there with us. One was putting her in the car seat and the rest were telling us how small and cute she was.

We also had to watch a CPR video. It took us an hour, and that was with me fast forwarding all that parts I thought were irrelevant or repetitive.
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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Chasing the carrot

Alexa had a few breathing / heartrate episodes yesterday, so the doctor decided she needed to go home on a heart rate monitor. This turned out to be kind of a blessing, because they weren't going to give us a monitor unless she had a reason to. We were really hoping to have her on a monitor just for a little peace of mind. The bad news is she will have to stay for another couple days because we have to get trained on how to use the monitors. I'm starting to feel like the donkey chasing the carrot. It seems like we're moving, but not getting any closer.