Lonely Robot, Grateful Mom

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It feels like an eternity since Imogen came into our lives.  It seems like she has always been a part of the Vernon family tree.  Yet, at 5 pounds 1.5 ounces and 2 weeks yet until her actual due date, our little 2 month old has only just begun her journey of growth and learning.  The changes in her have been monumental, though.  It seemed appropriate and special to share them on my blog.  Every baby is different.  Every preemie conquers his or her own milestones at varied rates.  I cannot help but feel like Yahweh has given our sweet Imogen a special dose of strength and determination…and at the same time has surrounded our family with people that have provided just what we need to survive and thrive these unexpected circumstances. We do not deserve it, but we are so grateful.

Yesterday Imogen, Dad and I visited the pediatrician’s office for another one of her weight checks.  She is now eating really well and her weight gain has been a steady ounce a day for the last 10 days.  So I get to let her go 4 to 5 hours at night.  I cannot tell you how excited I was to hear this!   SLEEP MAY COME SOON!  I have been existing off of spurts of 30 minutes to 2 hours at a time mostly at night for the last month due to her eating schedule and acid reflux issues.  Immi has to be held upright to eat and then be held upright for at least 30 minutes afterwards to avoid spitting up and terrible pain from the reflux.  Sometimes I am having to hold her for an hour at night after eating because she tends to be worse at night.  We have been using all the tricks we learned with Levi when he had reflux, but our experience with her has been quite a bit worse.   It is heartbreaking to see those precious CCs of breastmilk come up out of her mouth and nose and then watch her choke on it.  Thankfully, this is slowly getting better.  She is able to drink 2 ounces at a time now, which is huge!  When she came home a month ago, she could only tolerate 35 CCs…just over an ounce.  And that was considered a great feed.  Sometimes she would only drink 20.  She just drank 70 CCs at her last feeding!  Praise the Lord!

The other milestone she met is that she rarely chokes on her milk now.  When she first came home, at least 3 times a day she would fall asleep while eating and would inhale milk.  I have seen her turn blue at least 6 times and had to hit her back aggressively to get her breathing again.  Scariest.  Thing.  Ever.   I had to watch her so intently to make sure she was swallowing and not getting too sleepy to eat.  It was exhausting!  This week, she turned a corner on that and it seems like she knows how to pace herself and stay alert during feeds.  SO grateful for this.

When Imogen came home, she had just reached 4 pounds.  She was gaining an average of 4 grams per day the first couple of weeks, so the last two weeks have been a great success.  She is gaining a good ounce per day now, which is ideal.  At this rate, she should be 6 pounds by her due date of April 12th.  So different from our experience with Levi since he was 8 pounds 8 ounces when he was born.  It is so great to see Imogen’s cheeks fill out to a sweet plumpness now.  Her arms and legs no longer look like bones with skin stretched on them.  She has also gained 2 inches of length since her birth!  All her wonderful preemie outfits people gave us have been greatly used this last month, but in about another week it will be time to start moving to all the cute newborn outfits.  How awesome!!

We are still learning new things about preemies.   We had been advised to keep Imogen out of the public at the very least until her due date to keep her from getting sick.  We have been so careful, washing and sanitizing our hands and practically everything we touch.  Everyone who comes in our house is screened for sickness, and Imogen has only been to the doctor and my mom’s house since coming home.  This has been the most difficult thing on Levi and I.  James too, although he is going to work everyday.  It is such a lonely thing to be home so much with few visitors allowed.  Thankfully, some of you have been able to visit and have provided us with much needed fellowship.  We all miss church more than anything.  Between services, music practices, and other special events, we used to spend a lot of time with our church family.  Levi has asked me almost every day to go to church.  What a huge impact God’s family has already had on his life…he misses it greatly.  So yesterday when I asked our pediatrician when Imogen will really be out of danger for sickness, I was saddened to hear her response: 3 months from her due date.  So…around the middle of July.  Just as I already knew, that means that our 3 year old Levi will need to be kept home the most since he is not going to be good about hand washing, not touching things that could be germy, and also not touching his face.  I am heartbroken for him.  Sure, James and I could get sick as well and pass it on to Imogen, but it is more likely Levi would bet the one to contact something.  He also cannot play outside right now due to his horrific allergies to pollen.  His eyes are so swollen and red even on allergy eye drops, allergy medicine, and nasal spray.  Please pray for him and that we can figure out a good way for him to get some social exercise.

The pediatrician explained why Imogen needs to stay healthy.  The only antibodies or immunity she has now she is getting from my breast milk.  So she gets little spurts of immunity every time she eats, but it does not stay built up in her system.   Once her due date comes around, she starts to develop own immunity and antibodies start building up in her system.  Once she is 3 months old (from her due date, not birth date), she should have a good immune system to fend off the colds and viruses that come around.  However, for example, if she were to get a fever right now, we have to immediately take her to Brenner’s Children’s Hospital and they would immediately do a spinal tap to check her for Meningitis.  They have a small window of opportunity to fight that with her immune system like it is right now, so it would be the first thing they do.  The pediatrician and NICU staff explained to us, “You DO NOT want this to happen.”  She could end up back in the NICU.   So, needless to say, all this “germ phobia” is important.  And our short-term loneliness is worth keeping Imogen healthy.  July will soon be here, and we will be able to get back into the swing of our regular routines.  It won’t last forever, thankfully.  We have been grateful to stay healthy so far!

Imogen continues to smile a lot.  She is such a cuddly baby!  Every once in a while she will laugh in her sleep. I also love her little “sad purrs”  I do not know how to explain these other than she pouts and then lets out a sound like a little sighing kitten purr usually 4 or 5 times in a row.

I have been so grateful for all the help we have received.  It has been a tiresome and nerve-wracking, yet fruitful month.  I may have felt like a lonely, scared robot much of the time, but in my heart I feel we are the most blessed and should be the most grateful humans.  Friend and family who have shown us love, we thank you so much for your support and encouragement and prayers.  God is faithful and has continued to prove Himself over and over.  Great Provider and Protector….all we are and have are His!

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