Brooke Makenzie McLarty's journey from the NICU to our home.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wow, It's Been Almost a Year

We had one big surprise last year:  A NEW BABY!!!  I found out that I was pregnant.  At first I was not happy.  I had been obsessive about making sure that didn’t happen after Brooke’s birth.  It took me several weeks to accept what was going on and once I felt fine about the pregnancy, I was able to tell Mark.  We waited until I was out of the first trimester before telling our parents.  I was afraid that they would be upset but surprisingly, they were all very happy about the news.  I had decided that I didn’t want to find out the gender of the baby.  During the ultrasounds, the baby made it very difficult to even find out what s/he was.  That made not finding out even easier.  In a way though, I feel like I knew what we were having. 

I was due on November 6, 2012.  My due date came and went.  On November 11, I went into the hospital and was induced.  I spent all of November 12 dilated at 2 cm.  I was having regular contractions but I just wasn’t feeling them.  That evening, I was given the induction medicine again.  On November 13, the Pitocin was increased and I was starting to feel the contractions.  My water was broken and the contractions got even worse.  Up until then, I was just taking a pain killer.  I was trying to do this without getting an epidural.  I was at 8 cm when I begged for one.  I just made the cutoff.  Before getting the epidural, I experienced the worst pain of my life. 

When I was dilated to 10 cm, the doctor checked the position of the baby.  He discovered that the face was pressed directly on my cervix and that I would need an emergency c-section.  I had wanted to give birth vaginally but that wasn’t going to happen.  Since I already had the epidural, I was given a spinal which numbed me from the neck down.  Even though I wasn’t able to express much emotion, I was thrilled when the doctor announced that the baby was a GIRL.  I would have been happy either way but I’m so glad we had another little girl.  She was 7 lbs 9 oz and 19 in at birth.  I was able to hold her about 45 minutes after she was born.  She got to be held by her daddy and meet her big sisters.  We named her Isabelle Christine.  Isabelle is the name that we had agreed on and Christine is Mark’s mom’s middle name.  We had given our oldest a name from my family and I said that we would honor his family with our third baby.

Isabelle is my breastfeeding champ but we had a rough start.  While she did latch on and nursed well, she didn’t get enough.  She developed jaundice severely and was sent home with a phototherapy blanket.  She had blood taken every day for a few days.  She ended up being admitted to the hospital since her bilirubin level was at 18.  She spent two days under a phototherapy bed.  She only left the bed for diaper changes and feedings.  She got to go home on thanksgiving.  At her one month appointment, the doctor noticed that she was still yellow.  She had her blood tested and it was then decided that she be admitted again to the hospital.  The first type of jaundice that she had was the most common, physiological.  The second time around, they determined that it was breastmilk jaundice.  Basically something in my milk was preventing her body from being able to break down the bilirubin.  Along with the doctors and specialists, we decided to give her formula until her bilirubin went back to normal.  We did this for two weeks and during that time, I pumped and froze my milk.  A few days after Christmas, I was given the ok to breastfeed again and thankfully, she went right back and has hated bottles ever since.

She will be 3 months old on February 13.  Between 1-2 months old, she started to smile at us.  I love how her faces scrunches up when she smiles her gummy mouth at us.  She’s trying to roll over but her arms get in the way.  She loves to be held so I’ve been using a baby sling and I recently purchased a baby carrier.  She has been a wonderful addition to our family.

Sydney started kindergarten this school year.  She is doing very well.  She is one of the most advanced readers and writers in her class.  At the beginning of the year, she was extremely shy and didn’t talk.  Last week, she and Mark ran into her teacher at the store and she said that Sydney is getting in trouble for talking a lot.  During the times that I was in the hospital with Isabelle and Brooke, Sydney was left with other people.  Mark and I decided that we needed to have Sydney dates so a few times, we went out with just her.  She had started to misbehave at home and we felt that it was because of all the attention that was being put on her sisters.  Now we’re going to get her a chore chart so that she can earn her Sydney days.

She is an amazing little girl.  She helps us out with her sisters.  I taught her how to turn off Brooke’s pump and pretty soon, I think we’ll teach her how to get Brooke hooked up for a feeding.  She is incredibly smart and funny.

Brooke has had a rough school year health wise.  She’s always had a lot of colds during the winter but this year takes the cake.  First she came down with gastroenteritis and was admitted to the hospital.  Isabelle and I spent several days with her.  We sent Brooke back to school and after a week, she came down with something else.  She was admitted again to the hospital but this time for what they thought was pneumonia and an ear infection.  She had the symptoms of pneumonia but it hadn’t actually developed so we had caught it in time.  Her ear infection was minor.  Now we’re easing her into her regular feeds.

She got a new bus at the beginning of February.  Now we have to get her massive stroller/wheelchair up and down the stairs every day.  At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle getting it up and down but it’s actually been easy.  The bus driver says that Brooke is so much happier in her stroller and just has the best time. 

Mark ended up getting the stomach flu and ended up going to the ER but was able to come home after a few hours.  Isabelle and I managed to stay relatively healthy and only came down with small colds.  February is the first month since Isabelle’s birth that hasn’t had us going to the doctor or hospital.    It was a very crappy way to start the new year. 

We got a van, a Toyota Sienna, and that makes it much easier to get the girls in and out since we have three carseats.  We are still in an apartment but we’re constantly looking to move.  The people in our building are not the type of people we want to be around.  We don’t know if we want stay in PA or make a complete change.  As of right now, we’re staying put.  We just don’t want our girls growing up around toxic people.

Mark started selling items for people on eBay.  He is given the items, he posts them and ships them.  That has been keeping him pretty busy.  I’ve been doing a lot of sewing and have sold a few items on eBay.  The sewing gives me something to do during the day while the girls are in school and Isabelle naps.

I think that's about it for now.  I will try to update more than once a year.  :)



Monday, April 30, 2012

A Sort of Quick Update

It's been two months since I last updated. I'll start with Sydney. Originally we were planning on sending her to pre-k instead of kindergarten. In March, we were both helpers for her preschool class and her teacher said that she's made a lot of improvements since Christmas. Her teacher felt that Sydney would do great in kindergarten. She has her orientation on April 20. She's interacting with her peers more and seems to be talking more with the kids. Sharing is a big thing that we work on since she doesn't have anyone to share with at home. She's becoming more protective of Brooke. One time, she spent the night in Brooke's room. She talked to Brooke for several hours before falling asleep. It warms my heart to see her trying to interact with Brooke more. She is a fabulous big sister!

Brooke has been doing well with her g-tube. Since her January appointment, she's been at 29-30 lbs. This week we've been dealing with a sick Brooke. On Tuesday, she was fussy before school but there was no mention of fussiness while she was at school. Later that night she ended up spitting up and had a temperature. I managed to get her temperature down but when she got up Wednesday morning, it was back up. My plan was to just keep her home and to monitor her fever. She threw up so I called the doctor. We took her in the afternoon and she was tested for several things. She was swabbed for strep and had an X-ray done for pneumonia. Fortunately both of those came back negative. Her doctor noticed that she had a tiny bit of liquid in her right ear but that may have been caused by all of her congestion. Sydney and I are allergic to amoxicillin so he was ok with Brooke getting a different antibiotic. Sadly my insurance doesn't cover what was prescribed so we'll call in the morning to get another script. Hopefully the antibiotic will prevent her from getting an ear infection.

This is something I've probably already said but I'll say it again. I am constantly amazed at the excellent health our daughters have. Most of friends are dealing with horrendous illnesses and for some, it never ends. We are extremely blessed that our girls haven't had to experience anything horrible.....yet. Growing up I was rarely sick so maybe they got their kick ass immune systems from me. :)

I haven't been feeling well lately but I'm going to the doctor today (Thursday) and hopefully I'll figure out what's up. I have a feeling I know what it is. :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Brooke's Buttons

During Brooke's follow up appointment with the surgeon, the nurse saw Brooke's button cover and mentioned that a lot of parents ask about alternates to gauze and tape. After thinking about it for a little bit, I decided I would make a bunch of covers and see what happens.

I will make them out of: organic bamboo velour which will go against the site area, organic bamboo french terry which will be a middle layer, organic bamboo fleece which will be on top and possibly the last layer if no designs are wanted and a variety of flannels and cotton prints on top. I will use KAM plastic snaps as the closure. I'm not sure how much I will sell them for but I will make a decision before I activate my FB page.

My plan is to make a lot to send to Children's Hospital. I will sew up little bags and include two pads and a business card in each bag. The parents and guardians can try them out free of charge and if they decide that they like them, they can order from my FB page.

My organic bamboo fabrics should arrive within a week so I hope to have a box ready to send to Children's by the beginning of March. I hope I have a lot of success with Brooke's Buttons. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Follow Up with the Surgeon

On Thursday, January 26, we headed down to Children's Hospital for Brooke's follow up appointment with her surgeon. Sydney had spent the night and was spending the day with my mom so that we could give Brooke our attention 100%. We didn't have to wait very long which is always nice. The nurse weighed her and she was 29 lbs! That's a six pound weight gain since her got her tube on November 28, 2011. The doctor was very pleased with her gain. Since she hadn't had her tube taken out before the appointment, she was in pretty good shape. She does have some granulation so silver nitrate was applied. It burned a little so diaper rash cream was added to help soothe the area.

I changed her button and I'm pretty sure I'll be the one changing it from now on. It was very easy and it could be done by one person but it is nice having the extra set of hands. She doesn't have to go back until the end of July. :)

I looked online a lot for button covers and decided that I would make my own. I still need to perfect the pattern but I got an idea when the nurse mentioned that a lot of parents always ask about alternates to gauze and tape. Once the pattern is perfected, I could make up a bunch of these and send them to the hospital. Then the parents can choose a few to try out. I would have part of the proceeds go towards the hospital. I was also thing of making up little wet bags (bags with a waterproof lining) and put little handle on the bag so that it can be easily attached to cribs, strollers, etc. I'll have to research the materials used and see what can be bought within my budget. It's just an idea but hopefully I can turn into something that will provide us with a little more income.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

It's hard to believe that 2011 is almost over. We've had a rough one. We spent a majority of the last year fighting over Brooke's health. Even though she hasn't gained much weight since her first birthday, some people thought she was being neglected. After several months of investigation, they were finally satisfied that everything was being done in trying to get her to gain and keep on weight.

In the spring, we started thinking about if we wanted to send Brooke to the Intermediate Unit preschool or the Easter Seals preschool. We applied to both places and ultimately decided that Easter Seals was the best place for her. Over the summer she had several evaluations and we visited the school. She started at the end Of August and has been doing very well. She has excellent teachers and therapists.

Sydney attended her first year of preschool last year and loved it. Now she's in her second year and is doing very well. She has several "best friends" in her class. She is starting to practice her writing skills. She doesn't like to write unless it's her own decision so I've stopped asking her to write things out. She is very protective over Brooke now that she has her g-tube. She has had quite a growth spurt this past year. Pretty soon she's going to be as tall as me.

When it comes to our health, once again we've had a good year. The girls have had their share of colds but that's it. We did have a very small case of croup in the fall but that was basically like having colds. Mark and I probably got more sick than the girls. That surprises me since they're both in preschool this year. They must have killer immune systems. I do feel a bit smug anytime I hear about my friends' kids coming down with horrible illnesses. I know it's only time before we experience it. We have been very blessed to have such two incredibly healthy daughters.

Mark and I got engaged this past spring. Here is a reader's digest version. Mark's parents were going to babysit the girls while we spent the night in Pittsburgh. It didn't occur to me that Mark having the weekend off was odd. We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel and had dinner at The Capital Grille. He proposed after dessert! So far, no big plans yet.

Some of my cousins went through some big life events. Two welcomed daughters in January. For Scott, she was his second and for Jaime, she was here first. Matthew got engaged on the spring. Kadie got married in June. Jennifer got engaged this fall and today, Dec. 30, she's getting married.

Mark's brother, David, got married in July so he and Sydney got to go to the wedding. The best man (I think) was unable to be there so Mark filled in for him. Sydney was a flower girl.

I can't think of anything else that I want to share about 2011. I hope everyone has a great 2012!

Melissa :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

G-tube and Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication

On Monday, November 28, Brooke had her surgery for the G-tube and laparoscopic nissen fundoplication. We decided to get the fundoplication to help minimize any reflux she may have. We didn't realize that all this time she was experiencing some reflux but thankfully it wasn't anything that made her miserable or required any medication. Part of her stomach is wrapped around the lower part of her esophagus.

We arrived at the hospital around 11 am and got checked in. We waited in a pre-op room and during that time, we saw the surgeon, pain management team and anesthesiologist. Around 2 they took her back to prep for surgery which actually started at 3. I think it was close to 5 when we were told that she was out and beginning to wake up. An hour later we were able to see her.

The first night was horrible. She cried continuously and nothing seemed to soothe her. Anytime she moved her lower body, she cried. The next morning I told the pain management team that the painkillers weren't working for her. They set her up with something else and that started to work wonderfully. After the first day, she started to cry less and was calmer.

Tuesday evening they started Pedialyte through her pump and she did very well with it overnight. Wednesday morning she was started on her formula. We decided to go with four bolous feedings and ten hours of continuous feeding at night. If everything goes well tonight, she may get to go home tomorrow (Thursday, December 1).

I've been spending my time knitting, crocheting and reading. I don't leave her room unless it's for food. It's been nice having this quiet and bonding time but it will be nice to be home soon.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Change of Plans

On Wednesday, we went down to Children's for Brooke's neurology appointment. It was just a followup and went well. The doctor ordered blood work which was done the next day. She also ordered a video EEG which we'll do at a later date. I don't remember seeing pictures of Brooke's CT scan and MRI when she had them done during her NICU stay. It was kind of neat to see them.

On Thursday, Brooke had her cookie swallow test and feeding evaluation. She was not a happy camper on the way down. She's used to eating and drinking at certain times so it was a very hard day for her. She ended up failing the test because she aspirated everything that was given to her. It became obvious that she would definitely need the G-tube. She was admitted that afternoon. She was given an NG tube which went through her nose and into her stomach because she needed to have her medicine. There wasn't an IV form of her medicine so that's why she needed the tube. She had a miserable evening and just kept on crying. She was hungry, tired and not used to the NG tube. We did not sleep well that night.

On Friday, she had an upper GI done. The results came back normal and she has no signs of reflux. About thirty minutes after we got back to her room, she went down to get an NJ tube. It's a tube that goes in the nose but ends in the intestines. It can stay in longer and we don't have to worry too much about it coming out. She did very well during that procedure and I don't think she needed to be sedated. We came back to her room and relaxed for a little. We both ended up taking small catnaps. I had a visit from one of my high school classmates.

Around 5 pm she finally got her first tube feeding. She was still fussy but it eventually kicked in. We had a visit from Mark and Sydney which was nice since I hadn't seen Sydney for two days. She said that I lived in the hospital now.

At 930 pm, Brooke finally fell asleep. After 10-15 minutes, I decided to go take a shower. I also took the opportunity to grab a snack from the cafeteria. When her feeding pump started to beep, it woke her up. She fell back to sleep quickly and has been asleep since. Tonight is much better than last night and hopefully she sleeps well. She definitely needs it.

We're supposed to be discharged on Saturday. I will update this entry or will write a new one Saturday evening. By then we should know when her surgery is scheduled.