Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for Nine Months

As of 5:29 p.m. today, Andrea is celebrating 9 months of life. The fact that it is also Thanksgiving seems especially appropriate. We rejoice in the milestone, and are thankful for our great good fortune.

I haven't posted in a few weeks, because Andrea has been quite sick. As usual, with her it begins small, but escalates quickly. Last Thursday, (11/19) she has a little sniffle and a slight cough. On Friday, I called her pulmonologist to see if we could be seen, since none of the doctors' offices we frequent have weekend hours. We were fortunate in that there was a cancellation, and we got Andrea checked out. Her chest was tight enough that the doctor gave us stronger medicine for the nebulizer, and increased her Flovent from the 44 dosage to 110. We went home, hopeful that the medicine would do the trick.

In the evening on Friday, Andrea began to run a fever. It wasn't high, just 100.4 F, but she'd never had a fever before, except for one day in the hospital last June. Luckily, "her" pulmonologist was the doctor on call over the weekend, so I called him for advice. We were told to give her Tylenol, and call back if the fever persisted on Saturday. Most of Saturday morning, she was fever free (well, 99+, but that's not a fever for the doctors). However, about 5:00, she was back on the 100.9 F range. I called the doctor again, who decided to start her on TamiFlu, just to be safe.

Now, if you have not been living under a rock for the past few months, you know that there is great panic because of H1N1 ("Swine") flu, and many pharmacies are out of children's TamiFlu. It has to be in liquid form for the babies, obviously. Some pharmacies are "compounding" liquid TamiFlu from the adult capsules. There is only one pharmacy in our area that does that, so we called them to see if they had stock to make the drug. Amazingly enough, they had the liquid on hand, but were closing in less than 15 minutes. The doctor called in the order, and Ken raced to the store. I generally don't publish names in the blog, outside our immediate family, but I need to acknowledge this store. The pharmacist at Liberty Pharmacy in Chatham, NJ stayed in the store until Ken got there, fortunately just slightly after closing time. On top of that, when we ran out of medicine because Andrea spit out a dose and it needed to be repeated, he had another one ready to go for us. It was reminiscent of the old style businesses, where people are important, and the goal is to help, rather than just to make money. We were greatly impressed by the service and the treatment we received. So, THANK YOU Liberty Pharmacy. You are one of the many things we are thankful for today.

So, it has been a rough week. The fever spiked at 101.5 F on Sunday night, and has been gone since Monday morning. We still give breathing treatments as needed, usually 4 or 5 a day. To Andrea's relief, she took the last does of TamiFlu this morning. It must taste terrible. She has not been a fan. She is still coughing and very stuffy. She has a hard time eating, since she cannot breathe through her nose. We do some respiratory therapy on her back, to try to clear the congestion from her lungs.

Andrea was due for her 9-month "well-baby" visit yesterday, but was too sick to really have a good checkup. The doctor looked her over, and we got an updated weight and measurement. (13 lbs, 15 oz, and 25 inches long!) We rescheduled the visit for mid-December, at which point we can start giving Andrea some solid foods. We have been giving her milk off a spoon at the dinner table, so at least she has the idea of it already!

Here is Andrea in her Thanksgiving outfit. She's too sick to go out, so she and I are hanging out at home. Ken got me Chinese food, and I'm planning to watch "Angels and Demons" on Pay-Per-View. Kenny G is with my family, and Ken and Kenny C are off to celebrate with his family. Still, I wanted Andrea to get to wear her new clothes. This is the first time she's worn a dress. We opted for leggings under the skirt, instead of stockings. It's too cold to be bare-legged, and the stockings aren't as comfortable! (Thank you Grammy and Ann Marie!)

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Plan for Now

Friday, Andrea saw her pulmonologist again. We got the results of her sleep study and now have a plan moving forward. Unfortunately, Andrea's oxygen saturation levels dropped too much and too frequently over night for us to discontinue the oxygen use right now. At one point, she dropped 9 times in a hour. We originally thought we could discontinue the oxygen and just rely on the PulseOx, but it would alarm constantly. The doctor's thought is to keep Andrea on the oxygen until January, at which point he will schedule another sleep study. While we are disappointed to have to continue with the oxygen, we feel we put in too much time getting to this point to give up now. We prefer to be cautious.

Another change in Andrea's life was the addition of some maintenance medications for asthma. Andrea needed oral steroids twice in less than a month. It seems that, right now, she is susceptible to asthma when she gets a cold. Instead of relying on steroids when she gets sick, she's taking Flovent daily to keep her from having problems. When Kenny was young, the only way to medicate him was with a nebulizer. Things have changed so much in nine years that Andrea can take the same kind of medication as Kenny. We were given an inhaler for her, with a "spacer" and a tiny face mask. We hold the mask over her face for 30 seconds, and she inhaled the medicine. This is a HUGE improvement over 15 to 20 minutes for a breathing treatment. We were also given a rescue inhaler, so when she is wheezing, we can get her relief much faster. It is also easier to travel with the inhalers, instead of the nebulizer.

We go back to the pediatrician on Monday, to finally get Andrea her N1H1 (Swine Flu) vaccine. While we realize that no vaccine is 100% perfect, we'll feel better once she has some protection from swine flu. She's been tolerating her shots pretty well so far, and we hope that continues.

Andrea continues to teethe in earnest. So far, no teeth have appeared, but she is very drooly, and chews on anything she can get in her mouth. She has taken to pulling my fingers in. Smart baby that she is, she has learned that it hurts to chew on her own fingers, but it doesn't hurt to chew on mine! Most amazing of all, our 15 ounce baby is now 13 pounds, 11 ounces! She has fat little turkey legs and chubby cheeks. We never imagined this day would come!

“For today and its blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude.”

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Gemini at Heart

Andrea was supposed to be born on or around June 4. If you follow Astrology, that would have made her a Gemini, or the Twins. As a Gemini myself, I can state that we tend to be tough people. I have at least two sides to my personality, although Ken insists I'm sweetness and light all the time. Andrea was born at the end of February, making her a Pisces. Ken is also a Pisces, and the most easy-going, mellow person you'd ever want to meet. Andrea is NOT an easy-going, mellow person! Just when we think we've got her figured out, she throws a monkey wrench into the works.

Since Andrea has been home, we've been giving her tub baths. (As opposed to the sponge baths she got in the hospital.) She has always loved being in the water, and in the last month or so has learned to splash and make a general mess. So, we got into the habit of bath time being a nightly ritual to kill time until it was late enough to go to sleep. Well, starting three night ago, Andrea DOES NOT like baths any more! She kicks up the biggest hissy fit as soon as her feet touch the water. The first time, I figured she was having an off night... either she was too tired, or hungry, or the water was too hot or too cold. When I had the same reaction on two more consecutive evenings, I got the idea that she's no longer a fan of water. Why would I have expected anything different?

As a general update, Andrea had some blood work done today. Her pulmonologist is continuing to watch her hemoglobin and electrolytes. Even though both were normal at her last workup, the doctor wants periodic checks to make sure they remain that way. Andrea was a trooper. She cried once, when the needle went into her arm, then just laid more or less quietly on the table as the plebotomist drew the blood. Right after the draw, we headed off to the pediatrician for this month's RSV vaccine. As mentioned before, Andrea needs this shot once a month between October and April. I guess Andrea figured she'd been patient enough, because she was not a happy camper after getting the RSV shot. She was so angry, she turned purple! Still, I keep telling her that shots are better than getting RSV.

Since Andrea was born, I've been telling the boys that sooner or later, she'll become interesting. Over the past few days, Kenny has decided I'm right, and has been playing with her. He likes to make funny faces, and she likes to laugh at him. Today's picture shows her reaction.

As of yesterday, Andrea has been home 5 months. Every day seems to blend into every other day, and I forget time is passing. I reread the early blog posts today, and I can barely remember that time, or that baby. We were so scared and worried! We clung to every bit of good news as if it was Gospel and tried to steel ourselves to hear bad news. (Which fortunately rarely came!) We thank all the devoted followers of this blog, and of Andrea. I know many of you follow anonymously, but we are aware of your love and prayers. Thank you for them! We continue to be blessed by all of you!

"Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver."
Barbara De Angelis