Monday, November 30, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #30:
Morgan Kate is our absolute miracle! How's that for a fact? Hee, hee.

I have thoroughly enjoyed posting a fact each day this month and I love, love my purple background. I have learned many new things that I didn't already know, I have read fabulous blogs that I have never read before and I will continue to fight for prematurity.

With all that being said, I can't wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow brings a new blog background and some fun, fun Christmas posts. I can't wait!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #29:
While MK was in the NICU and even now, I have visited a multitude of websites regarding premature babies. I often find my best information on other mommy blogs about their own premature babies, but I have found a few websites that I really like. These are just a few:

I LOVE the holidays. I really do. And it doesn't matter that I'm "twenty-something" and still act like a kid when it comes to the holidays. I love the smell of the holidays. I love the weather, even though most holidays here in the South are much warmer than I would like. I love the sounds of the holidays. Christmas music is definitely a favorite of mine. I love the colors. And the food. I love so, so many things, but mostly I love the time with family. Family is my absolute favorite part of the holidays.

Thanksgiving day was full of fun and food and thankfulness and even more full of time with family.

Several of us began our day by helping out at a local "Community Thanksgiving Lunch". We helped prepare and serve food. My brother, Owens, even found himself washing dishes.

"The crew" before heading in to help

Owens washing dishes while several others "watched" - Hee, hee!

Me and my cousin, Maggie

Later in the day we began preparing our own meal. I was responsible for the dressing. Funny that I would sign up for dressing, seeing as if I have only made it once before.

We had a scrumptious meal. I enjoyed everything I ate, but Morgan Kate mostly enjoyed the macaroni and cheese.

Before and after dinner, we got to mingle and talk and spend quality time with one another. Morgan Kate got to give lots of hugs and snuggles, especially to my cousin, Morgan.

After dinner we headed to see the Christmas lights. This has been an annual trip for many years. Last year of course, we weren't able to see the lights, but we made up for it this year. Morgan Kate loved them!
Morgan Kate is the "blonde"

I had the BEST Thanksgiving and it makes me even more anxious for Christmas. Sharing any holiday, or day for that matter, with this little girl is extra special!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #28:
There are many books currently out that deal with premature births and premature babies. Here is one that I found especially helpful:
And click here for a list of others.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #27:
Cerclage. The doctor puts a stitch in the cervix to keep it from opening too early. The stitch is removed when it is time for the baby to be delivered.

We had a terrific Thanksgiving. It was such a wonderful time with family and the food was out of this world. We have so much to be thankful for, but of course this year, we are extremely thankful to have Morgan Kate at home and with us. She has definitely made this Thanksgiving much more special. Be sure to check back later this weekend for lots of photos!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #26:
In 2003, two studies found that treatment with the hormone progesterone reduced the incidence of premature birth in women who had already had a preterm birth.

During the first twelve weeks of my pregnancy with Morgan Kate I took progesterone suppositories. And my OB has talked with me some about using progesterone in any future pregnancies. I know that progesterone can be given orally, as a suppository or even through an injection.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I have so, so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for God and how He has blessed my life immensely. I am so thankful for my husband and the marriage we have. I am so, so thankful for my beautiful baby girl and the fact that this year, we get to spend Thanksgiving at home. How nice! I am also very thankful for all of my fabulous family, my fantastic friends, MK's doctors and nurses and therapists and for each one of you that visits our blog. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #25:
I have covered many facts about premature babies. I thought that for the next few days I would cover some facts about preventing or trying to prevent preterm birth.

Three groups of women are at greater risk of preterm labor or birth:
-Women who have had a previous preterm birth
-Women who are pregnant with twins, triplets or more
-Women with certain uterine or cervical abnormalities

Prior to having Morgan Kate I didn't fall into any of these categories.

Next time I will.

And that is something that I have already discussed with my OB.

I remember the first few days after having Morgan Kate. I was terrified, I was scared, I was angry, I was sad, I was hurting and I swore that I was finished having children. This time had been too much. This time had taken too much out of me. This time had shaken me to my core. I couldn't do this to myself again. I didn't want this happening to another child of mine. I was very adamant about it and I felt this way for a very long time. When people would ask about another child or mention Baby #2 I would cringe. I would tell them "absolutely not" or that I wasn't "brave enough to do that again". It wasn't that I didn't love Morgan Kate or love being a mom or even long for more children. I did. I had always dreamed of more than one child. But it was fear. The fear of not knowing what would happen the next time around.

Over time my feelings have changed. Some. Of course I am still terrified and very scared. But I do want to have another child. I don't know when. I just know I do. And I like to have "my ducks in a row", so this is something I have shared and discussed with my OB. And we have a plan for when or if that time arrives.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #24:
Speech-language pathologists, sometimes called speech therapists, assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent disorders related to speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, and fluency.

Morgan Kate received a speech evaluation in late September and qualified to receive services twice a week. At the time she qualified I had no idea that SLPs not only treated disorders pertaining to speech and language, but also swallowing. I found that very interesting. But it makes perfect sense. Just since late September Morgan Kate has made vast improvements in the language department. As I have said before, it's not just getting her to say words or start talking. There is a whole list of pre-verbal skills that children must acquire first. MK is well on her way to accomplishing those and moving forward.

While I am very positive about her progress and absolutely love, love, love her SLPs, I also get a little down in this particular area. I have mentioned before that with speech it's harder to "see" things or "see" progress or "see" that she is indeed "going to get it". Sometimes I wish I could just peek into her little mind.

Happy 15 months, Morgan Kate!

I am still blown away that my baby girl is fifteen months. It just doesn't seem right.

Today MK had her 15 month well visit. Turns out, things aren't so well. Nothing too serious, but not the excellent check-up I was anticipating.

First, MK has only gained about a pound since her birthday and has actually lost a few ounces in the past few weeks. She is now weighing seventeen pounds and eight ounces. I was baffled when I saw the scale. She seems so heavy now and I was convinced that she had gained and was near or very close to twenty pounds. Dr. G was not concerned about it and said that babies at this age do start to plateau. I also told her that MK has not been eating well and that she moves ALL. OF. THE. TIME. So with her age, lack of eating and constant moving, Dr. G was okay with it. So, at fifteen months MK is not on the growth chart for weight, but is hitting the chart (just barely) with height (27 inches, 3rd percentile for a 15 month old) and head circumference (17 inches, 10th percentile for a 15 month old). On a preemie growth chart she would be in different percentiles for everything. The good thing is that all of her stats are proportional so she doesn't look too long or too skinny or her head doesn't seem to large for her body. Our job is to feed her foods high in calories and put butter on everything!

The other not so good news was that she has an ear infection. Now, I realize that ear infections are not so large in the grand scheme of things. But I feel like a terrible mother. She has probably had this ear infection since she was running a slight fever about two weeks ago. Now that I think back, she has been fussier, had difficulty sleeping and has not been interested in food. She has also been tugging on her ear, but I thought she had just discovered her ears and was excited to be playing with them. I don't know. I am a first time mom and I sometimes I don't have a clue. Dr. G prescribed an antibiotic and we go back in two weeks for a re-check.

Thirdly, MK had to get two immunizations. Yucky! She did fairly well considering we had been there for an hour and it was nap time. See below for evidence.

So, other than the slow, slow weight gain and the ear infection and the immunizations, everything else went well. Really well actually. Dr. G and her staff were amazed with MK and all that she is doing. And of course we are too!

And, in case you haven't noticed....I GOT MY CAMERA BACK! YAHOO! I was so excited today when I found out that my camera was back and working. To celebrate I had to snap a few shots before MK went to bed and of course I have to share them with you all now. Enjoy!

Our dogs, Lola and Cash, have found a new favorite spot in the house. Sitting directly under MK's highchair is the highlight of their day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #23:
Occupational therapists (OTs) help people who have conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling improve their ability to perform tasks in their daily living and working environments. They also help them develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills.

Morgan Kate received occupational therapy for just a few short months. Even after those few months I still wasn't exactly sure what all was entailed in an OT's job, so I googled it and found the above description. I know I probably sound a bit ridiculous, but I wasn't 100% sure and I didn't want to make something up. I mean our SLPs obviously work with MK on her language and speech and our PT works with MK on gross motor skills. All of that makes sense to me, but I wasn't too sure about OT. So, now I know and now you know and I may still be a bit confused. Ha! Our OT worked with MK on fine motor skills, specifically using her hands. You may remember that for quite some time MK was not reaching or grasping or grabbing at anything. NOTHING at all. However, after a few short months of weekly OT visits, that all changed. And these days MK can't keep her hands off of anything. Particularly Christmas decorations at the very moment. But, I wouldn't want it any other way and I am so thankful for her OT! At the end of the summer, either right before or right after MK's 1st birthday, we were discharged from OT.

Speaking of baby girl will be 15 months tomorrow. Fifteen months. Where is the time going? One minute I have a newborn baby and the next minute she is fifteen months old. Tomorrow we have her 15 month well visit. Be sure to check back for details!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #22:
Morgan Kate receives physical therapy once a week. She has been receiving these services since April. In the beginning we worked on things such as rolling over (both ways), tummy time and sitting up. We have since progressed and are now working on walking. Our physical therapist (PT) brings various toys and activities to encourage Morgan Kate to walk. In the past month she has left two different walk toys for us to use during the week. Our PT also shows us different exercises to do with Morgan Kate to help with flexibility and strength. Morgan Kate loves therapy and our PT!

It's kind of funny. Because of PT I watch children so much more closely now. I watch to see how they are picking up their food, how they go from a sit position to a crawl and even how they walk. I guess when you do something as much as we have done, you start to notice those things.

Tonight we started putting up our Christmas decorations and I got really emotional. I wasn't sad or upset, but just overwhelmed with relief and content and happiness. While we were decorating, Morgan Kate was watching us and playing in her pack-n-play. She was mesmerized by the decorations. She would look at things so closely and then get so excited and she wanted to grab everything. All I could think of was how she wasn't here last year while we decorated. Granted, she wasn't technically supposed to be here period. But she was, and she was in the hospital. I remember wanting to get as many decorations up as possible before she came home. I wanted it to feel normal. But it didn't. How can things feel normal when your newborn child is in the hospital?

Tonight I was just so relieved. Relieved that we didn't have to make a trip to the hospital to see our baby girl. Relieved that she was here while we decorated. Relieved that she is doing so well and continuing to amaze us each and every day.

Just relieved that after waiting so long, we were all here, the three of us doing normal things that families do. And it felt so good.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #21:
BabyNet is South Carolina's interagency system of early intervention services for families who have infants and toddlers, birth to three years of age, with developmental delays or conditions associated with developmental delays. Children may be eligible for BabyNet if they are learning or developing slowly. Eligible children are served regardless of family income or nationality.

Our pediatrician referred us to BabyNet when Morgan Kate was six months old (two and half months adjusted). Because of MK's early, early birth and her extremely low-birth weight, she automatically qualified for services. I'll try my best to explain BabyNet in easy terms. You guys probably already understand it, but it makes more sense to me when I explain things. BabyNet is a big agency that provides various early intervention services to families with children under 3. BabyNet is not just for premature babies. It's for any child under three with any type of developmental delay(s). Even if your child was born full term with no complications they could still possibly qualify for services if your pediatrician saw a need.

First, BabyNet sends out a person from their agency to assess the child. If the child qualifies during that assessment then the parents must then decide what smaller agency to work with. BabyNet is like the BIG umbrella and then there are numerous smaller agencies under that. We chose Bright Start as our agency. Once we decided to go with Bright Start then they sent out an early interventionist (EI). The EI works with us each week and she/he also serves as our "case worker". They have never used the term "case worker", it's a word I use. The EI works with MK each week and whenever we have a concern or the EI has a concern then we call in additional help. In April we all saw a real need for physical therapy. Not only did we see a need, but the EI's assessment showed one as well. So the EI found us a physical therapist. The PT came out and did their own assessment. Her assessment also showed a need for services, so we began with PT. The same thing happened when we qualified for OT and for speech.

We have been very pleased with BabyNet, Bright Start and our different therapists. We feel so blessed to receive these services and to receive them so early. We truly believe that early intervention is THE BEST!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #20:
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages, is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children.

In adults, it may only produce symptoms of a common cold, such as a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, mild headache, cough, fever, and a general feeling of being ill. But in premature babies and kids with diseases that affect the lungs, heart, or immune system, RSV infections can lead to other more serious illnesses.

RSV is highly contagious and can be spread through droplets containing the virus when someone coughs or sneezes. It also can live on surfaces (such as countertops or doorknobs) and on hands and clothing, so can be easily spread when a person touches something contaminated.

Because RSV can be easily spread by touching infected people or surfaces, frequent hand washing is key in preventing its transmission. Try to wash your hands after having any contact with someone who has cold symptoms. And keep your school-age child with a cold away from younger siblings — particularly infants — until the symptoms pass.

RSV is something that still scares us. Even after fifteen months, RSV is frightening and awful and we want no part of it. At all. Thankfully Morgan Kate qualified for the synagis injections again this season. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, thank you to insurance. MK's injections this year cost over $3000 each month. Each month. Wow. Whoah. Yikes. But the injections are working and we are healthy and we are praying that we all continue to stay that way.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #19:
Many premature infants lack the number of red blood cells necessary to carry adequate oxygen to the body. This complication, calledanemia, is easily diagnosed using laboratory tests. These tests can determine the severity of the anemia and the number of new red blood cells being produced.

Premature infants may develop anemia for a number of reasons. In the first few weeks of life, infants don't make many new red blood cells. Also, an infant's red blood cells have a shorter life than an adult's. And the frequent blood samples that must be taken for laboratory testing make it difficult for red blood cells to replenish. Some premature infants, especially those who weigh less than 1,000 grams, require red blood cell transfusions.

Morgan Kate required two blood transfusions while in the NICU.


First, a BIG thanks to all of those that participated in the Bloggers Unite for Prematurity on November 17th. And an even BIGGER thanks to all of those that linked their post to my blog. I so enjoyed reading all of the posts and must admit that I stayed teary-eyed most of the day. It was extremely touching to read all of the miraculous stories. If you haven't checked out the links from that day, please do so. It's worth every minute!


Camera update.

No, it's not back quite yet. But, I received a notification yesterday and it should hopefully be back before Thanksgiving. Thank goodness!


Last, but certainly not least. Morgan Kate wants to wish her "Aunt" Kelly a very happy 30th birthday!

Kelly, we hope you have a wonderful day and so wish we could be there to celebrate with you. Can't wait to see you next week! We love you so much!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #18:
The eyes of premature infants are especially vulnerable to injury after birth. A serious complication is called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which is abnormal growth of the blood vessels in an infant's eye. About 7% of babies weighing 1,250 grams (2.75 pounds) or less at birth develop ROP, and the resulting damage may range from mild (the need for glasses) to severe (blindness). The cause of ROP in premature infants is unknown. Although it was previously thought that too much oxygen was the primary problem, further research has shown that oxygen levels (either too low or too high) play only a contributing factor in the development of ROP. Premature babies receive eye exams in the NICU to check for ROP.

While in the NICU Morgan Kate received eye exams every two weeks. She didn't receive her first exam until she was 30 days old, which is pretty standard. The exams were grueling, not only for her, but for me as well. The doctor used these tiny metal grips to hold MK's eye lids open while he was doing the exam. The total exam only lasted a few seconds, a minute at the most, but it was awful and felt like an eternity. MK cried, I cried, it was pitiful. Thank goodness her eyes were great and she never dealt with ROP. For the first year of her life we saw a pediatric opthamologist every six months, and now we go once a year until she is three.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

As they wheeled me to her room for the very first time my mind wandered. What would she look like? What sounds would she make? How many wires would be attached to her? Would she be okay? Would she know me?

I remember sitting in the wheelchair and attempting to wash my hands before seeing her. My incision hurt. My head hurt. My IV burned. But I didn't care. I couldn't think about anything or anyone, except for her. They rolled me down a long hallway and then I arrived. I arrived at Room 8. The room was dark and there were all sorts of machines beeping and moving. As they rolled me toward her isolette my eyes filled with tears. A lump formed in my throat. My hands began to shake. And my heart broke into a million little pieces. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do. I just cried. I sat at her side, with Travis at my back, and I cried. And when I could finally speak, I said, "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so very sorry." All I wanted to do was hold her. I wanted to touch her and comfort and reassure her.

Here was my daughter. My first child. My only child. Here she was lying in this tiny isolette, so fragile, so small, all alone and hooked up to so many machines and wires and tubes. And I was apologizing to her because I felt like a failure. My body had failed her. And because of that she was fighting for her life.

And boy did she fight.

And she continues to fight.

Morgan Kate has had wonderful people in her life from the start. Her doctors and nurses and respiratory therapists and volunteers from the NICU were angels sent from above. My parents, and family and friends have all played such a vital role. Her current doctors and therapists make a difference everyday in her life. And I think Travis and I have done an okay job too. But the real credit goes to Morgan Kate. She is one incredible little girl with one unbelievable story.

From day one she has been a fighter. She is the most determined person I know. She is brave and she is courageous. And she is so, so strong. She doesn't ever stop and even at only fourteen months, she doesn't ever give up. Everyday I look at her and I am amazed at the person she is and all that she has accomplished. She has these eyes that just melt your heart. And her smile could light up an entire city. And she is all mine. I tell her everyday just how much I love her and how proud I am to be her mommy.

I know it sounds funny and I don't really know how to explain it. But sometimes it's hard to believe that my daughter, my Morgan Kate, was born at only 25 weeks. It's hard to believe that Morgan Kate came into this world weighing only one pound and twelve ounces.One pound and twelve ounces. There are times when I am telling the story of her birth to a friend or even a stranger and I can't believe the words that are coming from my mouth. It still baffles me and amazes me and sends chills down my spine. Sometimes I think back to those early, early days and I don't know how we did it. I don't know how Morgan Kate did it and I certainly don't know how Travis or I did it. But we did.

I would love to say that I was so very strong and so confident that it would all be okay. But I wasn't always strong or confident that things would be okay. Most days I was scared. Many times I was nervous. And sometimes I was a complete wreck. As I have said before, prior to having Morgan Kate I really knew nothing about premature births. I think I knew of maybe one family that had had premature twins, but that was the extent of my knowledge. In some ways I think my ignorance in the beginning was probably a blessing. But the more I learned and the more I read and the more I saw, the more my eyes were opened. And I am truly thankful for that.

Today bloggers all over will unite by blogging about a baby they love. They will blog to raise awareness and to give information about premature births. Of course I wanted to blog about my own miracle, but I urge you to visit the other miracles in the sidebar to the right. They will simply amaze you and you will fall in love.

Today is the day to fight for prematurity. Please join me.

If you do decide to join me and you happen to blog about a baby you love, please add your link below. I would love to read your post!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #16:

The ductus arteriosus is a short blood vessel that connects the main blood vessel supplying the lungs to the aorta, the main blood vessel that leaves the heart. Its function in the unborn baby is to allow blood to bypass the lungs, because oxygen for the blood comes from the mother and not from breathing air. In full-term babies, the ductus arteriosus closes shortly after birth, but it frequently stays open in premature babies. When this happens, excess blood flows into the lungs and can cause breathing difficulties and sometimes heart failure. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is often treated with a medication called indomethacin or ibuprofen, which is successful in closing the ductus arteriosus in more than 80% of infants requiring these medications. However, if medical therapy fails, then surgery may be required to close the ductus.

As expected, when Morgan Kate was born her PDA was open. She was treated with ibuprofen for ---several days, maybe even a week or two, and the PDA then closed.


Don't forget! Tomorrow is the day to Fight for Preemies and to blog about a baby you love. For more information, click here. I am going to try really, really hard, super hard in fact, to use a program called McLinky for tomorrow's post. From what I understand, it will allow you all to post links from my blog to yours. That way I can read what everyone else is writing and my visitors can also check out your posts. It will just be for tomorrow and if it all works out great then I may try it again sometime in the future. Be sure to check back tomorrow!


My camera has only been gone for about five days and I am lost. I keep getting up to go get it or trying to reach for it, but it's not there. I am so missing it! Yesterday MK and Travis were both wearing NY Giants shirts and it was so cute. I was dying to snap a shot and post it on the blog, but of course I could not. Maybe, just maybe, it will be back sooner than I think.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #15:

Babies who are born prematurely or who experience respiratory problems shortly after birth are at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), sometimes called chronic lung disease. Although most infants fully recover from BPD and have few long-term health problems as a result, BPD can be a serious condition requiring intensive medical care.

A child is not born with BPD. It is something that develops as a consequence of prematurity and progressive lung inflammation.

As most of you know, if not all of you, Morgan Kate was diagnosed with chronic lung disease or BPD. BPD is typically diagnosed if an infant still requires additional oxygen and continues to show signs of respiratory problems after 28 days of age (or past 36 weeks' postconceptional age). Morgan Kate not only needed oxygen past 36 weeks, but also upon discharge. Today she no longer needs oxygen, but does receive two breathing treatments daily.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month Fact #14:
One of the most common and immediate problems facing premature infants is difficulty breathing. Although there are many causes of breathing difficulties in premature infants, the most common is called respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). In RDS, the infant's immature lungs don't produce enough of an important substance called surfactant. Surfactant allows the inner surface of the lungs to expand properly when the infant makes the change from the womb to breathing air after birth. Fortunately, RDS is treatable and many infants do quite well. When premature delivery can't be stopped, most pregnant women can be given medication just before delivery to hasten the production of surfactant in the infant's lungs and help prevent RDS. Then, immediately after birth and several times later, artificial surfactant can be given to the infant if needed. Although most premature babies who lack surfactant will require a breathing machine, or ventilator, for a while, the use of artificial surfactant has greatly decreased the amount of time that infants spend on the ventilator.

Because of Morgan Kate's early, early arrival she did suffer from RDS. Just minutes after her birth surfactant was administered through a ventilator. Of course at this time I was still completely knocked out and completely unaware of what was going on. However, I have been told that MK hated the vent and after the surfactant was administered she no longer needed it. She was then put on the CPAP for a few hours. When I saw MK for the first time she was not using anything to help her breathe. Two or three days later she needed some assistance and was put on the high flow nasal cannula. This then began our roller coaster of "breathing assistance and breathing equipment". For the longest time it seemed as if she was needing more help, instead of less, which we would have preferred.

MK just shortly after birth, CPAP was being "installed"

MK with the high flow nasal cannula

We even tried the oxygen hood, aka "Cookie Jar"

Back to the CPAP

Back to the high flow nasal cannula

After numerous equipment trials and changes and a 10 day course of steriods, Morgan Kate was able to progress to the low flow nasal cannula. The low flow cannula is the last step and it also something that babies can be sent home with. MK came home on the low flow cannula and required it until mid-February.