Friday, March 24, 2017

4 Babies

When Andrew was first born my first impression of him was familiar. He looked like a baby I had seen before. The more I examined him the more I decided he looked like Ryan. I think it was his blond hair and perfectly round head. (The doctors commented that they don't often see such perfectly shaped heads from vaginal births!) But then other people started saying Andrew looks like Lucas. And they keep saying it! Then just yesterday Andrew did something that reminded me of Jenna as a baby. So I'd say he's a good mix of his 3 siblings, with a big dose of Andrew mixed in!




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Andrew's 2-Week Checkup

Andrew had his 2- week checkup with his doctor yesterday, although it was actually 2 weeks since he got home from the hospital. So he was 3 weeks old during this checkup!
At birth Andrew weighed 8 lbs 6 oz. When he was released from the hospital I believe he was 8 lbs 4 oz. Yesterday at 3 weeks old he was 9 lbs 5 oz. I was relieved to see that he is growing really well!

I talked to the doctor about Andrew's fussiness. So far he is a fairly fussy baby, and I've noticed he often seems uncomfortable. He is always grunting and straining like his tummy hurts, and he often cries after nursing. The doctor said it is nearly impossible to know if I'm eating something that is passing through my breastmilk and bothering him. Of course dairy is a common allergy, and I did eliminate this from my diet when my first 2 boys were young. They were both very fussy infants, and cutting out dairy did seem to help. If Andrew becomes fussier or shows signs of colic during the next few weeks I may try this and see if it helps. Of course this could just be his temperament and he could just be a more sensitive baby!

The doctor was very happy with Andrew's growth and he said I could allow him to go up to 5 hours at night without eating. Hear that baby Andrew??

I'll post another Andrew update next week when he turns 1 month old. Time is flying!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Big Kids

We interrupt the abundance of baby Andrew photos to share a few updates on "The Big Kids".

Jenna is officially lumped in with her older brothers and labeled a big kid. Because let's be real, she's almost on the same maturity level as them!
 Lately she's been acting like a sassy little teenager but it's impossible to be mad at her!
Poor Ryan. His school called me Friday morning and asked me to come get him because his eyes were basically swollen shut. This was him at home after the Benadryl. Apparently it was even worse at school. The doctor confirmed he was dealing with really bad allergies, but he also diagnosed him with Allergic Conjunctivitis, which is a non-contagious form of pinkeye caused by allergies.

Lucas has been surprising me with how gentle he is with Andrew. And of course he adores his little sister and never leaves her alone.

The weather has been so beautiful that we've finally been spending more time outside. (Hello allergies!)

The big kids have been practicing their flips.

And my biggest "kid" has been keeping busy with odd jobs around the house. Today he made a carpenter bee trap for our backyard. I had never heard of these before we moved up here. They are huge bees that burrow holes in wood, so they like to hang out in our yard right near our wooden overhang.

I told him he needs to build us a mosquito trap next.

I'm sure I'll be sharing more baby pictures in my next post!

Monday, March 13, 2017

First Week At Home

Warning: Lots of baby photos ahead!
 Andrew has been home for a week now.
 So far his siblings are completely smitten with him!
When Andrew was 6 days old I started putting him on his tummy to help him strengthen his neck muscles. I turned around for a second and he rolled over!
Yesterday he was having tummy time again and he rolled over 3 times! I think we've got a strong little guy on our hands.
Jenna calls Andrew her "brother baby".
I tested out the Baby Bjorn this week to start getting Andrew used to being worn. I'm going to have to wear him when I take and pick up Ryan from school, since my hands will be pushing the other two in the stroller.
 I feel like Andrew looks so different already! In the hospital his face was really pudgy but now he sees to have thinned out. Or maybe he was just swollen during his first week of life.
 I took these pictures the other night and when I looked at my phone I thought "who is this baby?"
So far Andrew is sleeping pretty well at night. He goes to sleep around 9pm and gets up at 1am and then 4 or 5 to nurse.
We've been calling him "Angry Andrew" because he always has a grumpy look on his face. He has a wrinkle right between his eyes that makes him look like he's frowning. He also has a really loud cry and he gets quite upset when he's hungry or tired!
During the day he is much more awake and alert. I'm glad he already has his days and nights figured out!
Now we'll see what life will be like with Adam back at work. I'm curious to see how the other kids react to getting less attention. Life is about to get crazy!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Andrew's NICU Visit

Shortly after Andrew was born we noticed he was very jittery and shaky. The nurse checked his blood sugar and found that it was 33. They like it to be at least 40, but preferably higher. I nursed him and the number increased. But then once I was in my recovery room they checked it again and his sugar had dropped to just 25.

Around this time the nurse also started to notice that Andrew's breathing was quite rapid. It would slow down but then it would soon speed up again. This irregular breathing can be normal for newborns, but when Andrew's breathing was rapid they noticed his skin sucking in under his ribs, which is called retractions. This rapid labored breathing was concerning enough that they called in a pediatrician, who asked that I start supplementing with formula, in case Andrew was dehydrated. Over the next day Andrew's blood sugar and shakiness improved but his rapid breathing did not.

On Wednesday morning, 1 day after Andrew was born, the decision was made to admit him to the NICU. The doctor's concern was that his symptoms could indicate the beginning of an infection. After she left the room I was stunned. This was my 4th baby. We should have been going home by now. I hadn't been able to shower since birth so I got in the shower while Adam watched the baby. But then the nurse came in and told Adam to tell me to hurry up because we needed to get down to the NICU right away.

As I quickly got myself dressed I couldn't help but cry. Everything was just so overwhelming. During the long walk down to the NICU I couldn't stop crying. My baby was sick, I was in pain, I missed my kids at home, and I was exhausted.

This was my first experience in a NICU. It was immediately obvious that Andrew was not a very sick baby. I looked around and saw babies whose heads were half the size of his. Babies who were hooked up to feeding tubes, catheters, and all sorts of other life-saving equipment. The nurses told me they have taken care of 1-pound babies.
Andrew was immediately started on a 48-hour course of antibiotics, as a precautionary measure. His blood was taken to check for infection, and an x-ray was ordered to check his lungs. Andrew's breathing rate was supposed to remain between 40 and 70 but it kept rising into the 80's and 90's. The nurse suggested Adam and I take a break and get some food while they got everything situated. It was a very strange feeling going back to my room without my baby.

I sent Adam home that night to help take care of the big kids. My new routine was to go down to the NICU every 3 hours. The nurses and I would check his vitals and then I would nurse him for around 30 minutes. Then if he still seemed hungry I would supplement with formula or breastmilk. He would then go back in his little bed to sleep. I would walk back to my room and pump so that I could supplement with breastmilk on my next NICU visit. After I pumped I would wash all the parts, maybe eat a snack or fill out hospital paperwork, and then I'd have about 45 minutes to rest until it was time to head back to the NICU and snuggle my baby.
My silly boy kept trying to eat the IV on his hand, even though it was covered in tape.
I was discharged from my room Thursday morning. Thankfully I was provided a "boarder room" where I could stay for free at Kaiser. But since I was no longer a patient I was not given access to any food or nurse care. It was about this time that the post-birth hormones kicked in and I began to experience awful episodes of shivering. This happened after all my other babies so I was prepared for it. I would shake so hard I would have a hard time holding on to things. I would sleep in my clothes, wrapped in my warm bathrobe, under 3 blankets. Then I would wake up 45 minutes later absolutely drenched in sweat.

Thursday night I walked down to the cafeteria at 6:30 to find it was already closed. I think this was my lowest point during the week. My body was in so much pain from giving birth and then from all the tensing up during my shivering. I was so cold and tired walking back to my room, and I had no way to get food, other than from the vending machines. I wouldn't say I was feeling sorry for myself, but it was just a lot to handle by myself. That evening in the NICU one of the nurses asked me if I had eaten dinner. When she found out I hadn't, she went and collected a bag of snacks and treats for me. She encouraged me to take care of myself so that I could produce milk and take care of Andrew. She was an amazingly kind nurse.

While all this was going on, Andrew was still just being monitored in the NICU. His breathing was still rapid, and the constant alarms alerting me to a low heartrate or a lack of oxygen were so stressful to listen to. Eventually the nurses said not to look at the numbers on the screen, but rather to look at Andrew. He obviously looked healthy.
Andrew's x-ray results showed "hazy wet" lungs. His blood culture showed no signs of infection, which was excellent news. The doctor decided that he most likely had residual water in his lungs from birth. When a baby is being born, the pressure from each contraction helps to squeeze amniotic fluid out of the baby's lungs. Because Andrew was born so quickly, he wasn't able to get all the fluid out. This is most likely what caused his rapid breathing.
I feel so grateful to God that Andrew's diagnosis was nothing serious. I'm trying not to view him as extra fragile or sick just because he was in the NICU. My heart goes out to the Moms who have really sick babies in the hospital.

Andrew was discharged on Saturday morning and he finally got to go home and meet his family!
Baby Andrew is such a blessing and I thank God that he is at home with us. Two days after he was discharged he was already just 1 oz away from his birth weight at the doctor's office. We are in love with our healthy baby boy!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Andrew's Birth Story

Andrew's due date of Monday February 27th had come and gone. I went to bed that night around 9:30pm with absolutely no signs of labor. I woke up around 1am to use the bathroom and check on the kids. Around 1:30am I was back in bed. I whispered to Adam "Don't worry I'm not in labor", because sometimes when I get up at night he wonders if I'm having contractions. A few minutes later I felt a little trickle come out of me and I knew it couldn't be urine because I had just used the bathroom. I got out of bed and immediately felt liquid coming down my legs and forming a puddle on the floor. My water had broken!

I woke up Adam and told him we were having a February baby after all! I called Labor and Delivery to tell them we'd be in sometime that morning. The nurse urged me to take a shower and come in immediately. I was hesitant to rush in because I didn't want to be stuck in a bed hooked up to monitors when I wasn't even having contractions. When my water broke with Jenna I went to the hospital even though I wasn't having contractions. I eventually got Pitocin to get things started. I wanted to avoid that this time and labor at home for a while. But the nurse was pretty insistent that I should come in, since this was my 4th baby. So I took a shower and when I got out, I had my first mild contraction. I looked at the clock and it was 2:03.

We got to the hospital at about 2:30. I had been timing my contractions on the way there and they were consistently 8 minutes apart, but not terribly painful. I checked in, signed some papers, provided a urine sample, changed in to a gown, and then they hooked me up to a monitor in a small triage room. My contractions were getting more intense, but I was still able to talk normally to Adam in between each one. When a contraction started I would take a deep breath and then let it out very slowly, followed by two more slow breaths. I told myself that the second breath was going to be the hardest, but by the time I was letting out my 3rd breath the pain was easing up. Adam knew his job was to encourage me and remind me to relax my body. He kept asking me "Are you relaxed?" when I was having a contraction. I angrily told him I did NOT want him asking me questions, but instead to just remind me to relax. That one difference in the way he phrased his words was enough to bother me.

The nurse came in to check me sometime after 3am. Just one day earlier I had been 3cm, so I was happy to hear I had progressed to 6cm. The nurse left and I presumed she was preparing a room for me. It felt like she was gone forever, but it was probably around 10 minutes. My contractions were getting much more intense and closer together. I was feeling a lot of pressure, like I needed to have a bowel movement. Adam told the nurse and she came in to say we would be moved to a room soon. She reassured me that the pressure was just from the baby moving down the birth canal. She left again, and I felt like I could no longer lay on my back. I sat up, straddling the bed and leaning forward.

With my very next contraction I felt an intense burning. A very familiar burning! I suddenly had a flash back to right before Jenna was born, when I shouted at the nurse "That contraction burned!" I told Adam he needed to get the nurse back in the room. She came in with a doctor, who checked me and said "She's complete, get her in a room!".

At this point I was feeling an intense urge to push through each contraction. Can you believe I have never before felt the urge to push while in labor? This time was completely different! My body basically took over and I felt like I had no control over what was happening. As they pushed my bed down the hallway I felt like my body was pushing the entire time. There didn't seem to be any breaks in between the pain at this point. And that feeling of a bowel movement? Well let's just say I was right. This was a very messy birth!

The pushed me in to the room and asked me to move onto the labor bed. All I wanted to do was get off my back, so I flipped onto the labor bed on all fours. The doctor kindly told me that if I flipped over, I could have my baby. So I turned back over and put my feet in the stirrups. I gave a big push and the baby's head came out. The doctor told me to slow down and just give little pushes, and the rest of his body immediately came out. Andrew John Nullmeyer was born at 3:33am on February 28th, just 2 hours after my water broke and only 1.5 hours after my first contraction.

They put Andrew on my chest and the little stinker pooped all over my stomach! When it was time to put a diaper on him, he pooped again and then peed all over the floor next to Adam. Like I said, this was definitely our messiest birth experience! The hospital was so busy that night that we only had one nurse to take care of both me and Andrew. At one point I started to bleed really heavily and she was a little concerned about it. So Andrew's measurements had to be put on hold for a while. He was finally weighed almost 2 hours after birth, and he was 8 lbs, 6 oz and 20 inches long. The exact same as his big brother Ryan!

My first thought when I saw my new son was that he looked SO familiar. I feel like I've seen this baby before! I think it's because he looks a lot like his two older brothers. We chose his middle name after my Dad. Ryan's middle name of James is after his other Grandpa, and I always regretted not giving Lucas the middle name of John after my Dad. So now we had our chance! The first name was a bit trickier. I had a few names I really liked but Adam didn't like them. And I loved a few names that begin with J, but I didn't want the first and middle name to both begin with J. So one night we saw the name Andrew and just decided we both really liked it! We also like both nicknames that go along with it....Andy or Drew. (Or Drewski, as Adam is already calling him).

We are so blessed to have baby Andrew in our family and we just love him so much! Unfortunately he had to spend a little time in the NICU after being born, so stay tuned for that story in my next post.