Saturday, February 21, 2009

21 February- A lot has changed since our last update. Kelly is healthy enough to visit Caroline but now has to visit in a new location. She has been moved to the South wing of the NICU which provides a private room, a much quieter setting, and a couch and extra chairs for visitors. From a medical standpoint the significance of being at the South end is that babies there have shown they need less intensive care and don't need a nurse hovering quite as close. Caroline's feedings have been increased seven times the amount she was getting last week and she is up to 3 lbs 12.3 ounces. The doctors and nurses are talking about removing her from all IV fluids and medications as early as tomorrow. Soon they will begin to test her ability to maintain her own body temperature and will look to increase her feeds even more. If there is one thing still not quite where we would like it to be, it is her breathing rate and oxygen level. As you probably read, they had to increase her oxygen levels a few days ago and have not been able to turn them back down. Hopefully, as she continues to grow and develop her dependence on the nasal cannula will soon decline.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

17 February- We have hit a bit of a rough patch the last couple of days. Yesterday started off with Kel coming down with a serious case of the stomach flu keeping her from seeing Caroline both yesterday and today. It has been very tough for her to stay away as Caroline has needed more attention. Early Monday morning Caroline was having trouble controlling her body temperature (later determined to be issues with the bed) so they ordered for some blood work to be done. No signs of infection were present but it did show that her red blood cell count was down again and led doctors to order another blood transfusion. The only vein they could find to run the transfusion was in her head and I can't begin to explain how difficult that was to see. She has also shown growing signs of shortness of breath where she can't/won't take slow and steady breaths. This issue has caused them to turn up the flow on her cannula. Nurses were also concerned with her looking a little out of it and more tired than usual so they've given her some preventative antibiotics. She continues to have some desaturations with the level of oxygen in her blood so we are hoping the transfusion and the greater flow will improve this as well. We need lots of prayers for the breathing rates and oxygen levels, and for Mom to feel better.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

15 February- Each time I begin an update it is hard to know where to begin. We've had both good and not so good news from St. Johns over the past few days and I'm just not sure what is best to start and end with. Either way, we thank you for patiently waiting for new words on Caroline's progress. Her brain scan from a few days ago came back normal and doctors don't anticipate any problems. Caroline has recently had issues with Bradycardia (drops in heart rate) and Apnea (forgetting to breathe). Doctors have tried to explain that both are signs of immaturity and that she should grow out of it but the fear it causes each time is immeasurable. Today, doctors will most likely raise the levels of oxygen flowing through her nasal cannula to try to reduce the work she is doing on her own and hopefully not wear her out to a point where those issues set in. She has been receiving the same amount of food during each feeding all week and has handled it very well. She is very close to being back to her birth weight and seems to know when it is time for more food. This week she will begin a pretty aggressive increase in food amounts to help her growth and development. We've been warned that preemies tend to have issues with reflux when their stomachs are tested with larger amounts of food. Her tolerance of food increases over the next couple of weeks will show whether she's ready to tackle the next few hurdles. If not it could prolong her stay in the NICU until she is able to move to the next stage of feeding. Please continue to pray for her progress. We would love to see a 48 hour period with no signs of heart rate or breathing issues and our hearts are heavy in hope that she can handle the food intake as it increases this next week. Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

10 February- We have known for quite some time just how miraculous this entire situation has been but tonight provided yet another sign. As Kel and I pulled up to the hospital we both noticed a full rainbow arching right over the top of St. Johns hospital. A comforting sign of God's presence for all those needing care. Kel and I have both been able to hold Caroline and today we began using a technique called Kangarooing where she laid right up against our skin to help maintain body heat. I can't explain the feeling of having her so close and feeling her heart and her lungs working so well. Caroline got a new style of bed today where she is more isolated and will hopefully be able to rest more soundly. Once in the new bed she also was moved to a more isolated area of the NICU where she is away from the hustle and bustle and Kel and I can spread out more while spending time with her. Yesterday we received confirmation that the valve opening in her heart is now closed and the lung x-rays will stop because of the progress she's been making. Tomorrow is a big day as the doctors will be conducting the first scan of her brain. Specifically they will be searching for abnormalities and any signs of brain bleeds. Please pray that all goes smoothly. Finally, we want to acknowledge the awesome amount of cards, flowers, and phone calls we have received since Caroline was born. As we try to spend as much time as possible by Caroline's side, it's been hard to communicate how much we appreciate everything. please know that when things settle we will begin returning calls and sending notes to express our deep amount of gratitude.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

7 February- I really don't know where to begin. Doctors have warned us not to get too excited when Caroline has good days because there is bound to be bad ones. We can't help it as she took leaps over multiple hurdles in the past 12 hours. First and most exciting is that her ventilator came off about 2pm today and she is maintaining a normal breathing rate taking in sufficient amounts of oxygen on her own. Secondly, she has been taken off of her blood pressure medication and has had one of her IV lines taken out. Nurses expect to remove the monitor for her Carbon Dioxide levels very soon. They have listened to her heart multiple times today and the murmur from yesterday seems to have gone away. They won't know for sure if the valve closed until Monday but they said things are looking good. We recently got the results of another lung x-ray and both lungs appeared more clear than yesterday. And finally, while I'm not too thrilled about the effects of her next milestone, medically the fact that Caroline had her first bowel movement is a very good sign. We know that these results can only be the answer to all of the prayers you've sent out and we are so thankful. Please don't let up, there are many more hurdles to clear.

Friday, February 6, 2009

6 February- Both of my girls are progressing pretty well. Kel is up walking around and enjoying life without monitors and IVs holding her down. Caroline is still heavy on the monitors and IVs but is improving everyday. She is still on blood pressure medication and they've had to give her some medicine to settle her down a bit too. Chest x-rays are looking better and there is even talk of taking her off the ventilator within the next 24 to 48 hours. They have picked up a slight murmur in Caroline's heartbeat which is caused by a valve remaining open that usually closes right after birth. It's not uncommon for premature infants to have this issue but we are praying that the valve close up soon as it could require surgery if it doesn't. Overall nurses and doctors are pretty pleased with her progress and she is gaining quite the fan club. Kel and I still haven't gotten to hold her so that's another milestone we're praying for. Soon they will be running new IV lines in new areas of her body which could prove stressful but a must if we are to keep heading down the path of progress. We will keep you informed as we clear each hurdle. Thanks for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

4 February- We are excited to announce that Caroline Hope Blankenship was born at 4:43am this morning. She weighed 3 lbs 4 oz and measured 16 inches. Thankfully she was not intebated right away so Kel was able to see her for a bit before she went into the NICU. Once there, they did determine she would need the ventilator along with some IVs and some monitors. After three x-rays and other tests the doctors are saying she is doing as well as can be expected for this age. Her lungs are still a little immature and her blood pressure has needed some attention but she is beautiful and loved and ticklish. Kel has had a tough day of recovery from the early morning surgery but apart from the exhaustion she is doing very well. She can't wait to be free to go see Caroline whenever she wants. We are praying that while our baby girl's stay at St. Johns is going to be awhile that she continue to show progress and make her parents proud. We also wanted to let you know that we will continue to update the blog to keep all of you informed of Caroline's progress. Thanks so much for your support and prayers.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

3 February- Wow, two updates in one day. Since a few hours ago we've had a bit of excitement. Kel has been contracting a little more and she's had some continual discomfort with lots of cramps. The doctor came in and did an exam but there are still no signs of labor. There was enough concern that they've run an IV to try to ease some of the pain and they are monitoring her much more closely. We are praying for God's timing and for Kel's ability to relax and not worry.
3 February- I've returned to St. Louis in time for lots of news. Late last week it was determined that while the baby is growing steadily, Kel has not been gaining the weight they would like. So she is now drinking protein shakes to try to pack on some pounds. Caroline's heartbeat has been much more erratic and the nurses say that means she is reactive which is a great sign of maturing. Today Kel had another ultrasound where the fluid levels were a little lower but the tech and Kel were able to see Caroline's chest expanding and contracting. The tech called these "practice breaths" and they could actually watch the diaphragm working. This is an excellent sign that she is building the skills she will need after birth. If that weren't enough good news, tomorrow is the 30 week mark, another big milestone.