Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm baaaaack...

Ok, so I have been MIA for the past month.  But I do have a good reason!  I have a secret!!

Elena is going to be a BIG SISTER!!
We are so very excited that Baby number 2 is on the way.  When Elena was born we were very unsure about whether or not we would have another baby.  We always have wanted to have 2 kids but after Elena being born so early we were nervous.  A few months ago we decided that it was time to start trying for another baby.  Nothing happened for a few months, until my GYNO/OBGYN appointment for my yearly check up.
I asked my doctor (the same one that delivered Elena) about having another baby.  She told us that Elena was pretty much a freak accident (sorry Laney, haha) and that we should be able to have a full term baby!!!  Joe and I were thrilled! 
I got pregnant the next week!! Yahoo! 
I found out after a zoo trip with my sister and friend.  I was exhausted but thought that it had something to do with Elena wanting me to carry her all day and it was soooooo hot out.  I should have known that the test was going to be positive when I yawned three times buying it.  Haha! 

I pretty much started showing as soon as the test dried...seriously.  My belly is ginormous and I'm kind of terrified, haha.  This is going to be a BIIIIG baby (hopefully!!).  No more 3 pounders please.

We told our parents on Sunday when we went out to dinner with my parents.  I made Elena a "big sister" shirt since they don't make them any smaller than like 4T anywhere around here.  It's super cute but I can't get the pictures on here right now, I'll post them later!

I am 8 weeks this week...but look about 15....and am starting to feel a little bit better.
I am still completely exhausted but I'm not dry heaving every single day.  Just some days! lol I wasn't sick with Elena which leads to me think that maybe this baby is a boy?  We will see! I can't wait to find out what this little baby is.  I'm just praying for a healthy, full term baby this time. 

Til next time,
Alyssa :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Elena's birth story

I want to share with you Elena's birth story for a few reasons.  Number 1, I don't want to forget anything that happened, any emotion, any little detail.  I want to be able to tell Elena what she went through and how strong she was.  Everything happened so fast, it was hard to really process it until we got home.  Sometimes I get flashbacks to a moment that I completely forgot about.  I feel like I can't breath when I think back to some of those times, when nothing was certain.  I had absolutely no experience with premature babies and I had no idea what could happen when a baby was born 2 and a half months early.  I even skipped over the premature baby section of my What to Expect book because I was certain it wouldn't happen to me. Number 2, I want to be able to help someone in my situation.  I turned to the internet as I sat in the NICU all day.  I searched for any information that I could find (which was sometimes the worst thing that I could do) in hopes of figuring out what was happening. Since I have such a miracle, success story I would love to share it and give hope.  Hope that even the tiniest of babies can survive to be strong, adorable, ornery, happy toddlers!! 

Here we go...I had a perfectly normal pregnancy.  No morning sickness, I didn't even throw up until the second trimester.  My belly popped out super early, by 7 weeks I was in my maternity jeans and loving it!  I told everyone that Joe and I were expecting our little miracle after 5 long months of trying at 10 weeks.  My co-workers that knew told me constantly how I was showing and I wanted to make the big announcement before anyone else found out.  I'm nooo good at secret keeping!  I was so excited to be able to finally talk about my little baby.  I loved her so much already.  I was exhausted until well into my second trimester but felt great regardless. 

At my 16 week appointment my doctor informed me that she may or may not have heard 2 heartbeats.  She said that I was measuring big too.  So I needed to get an ultrasound to see if there were 2 little babies.  Did I mention that she told me this on Friday afternoon at 5:00?!?!?! Thank goodness my husband works at the hospital and has some connections.  He pulled some strings and got me in at 7:00 am the next day.  But I still had to try and come to terms with the thought of having TWO babies.  Well, there was only one (thank goodness) and they determined that my placenta was a bit low.  Which is no big deal but they wanted to check it out again in a few weeks.

At my 20 week ultra sound we found out that we were having our sweet little girl.  I cried so hard, I was so excited to have a daughter.  I knew exactly what crib I was going to get, a white canopy crib with carved bows and I started shopping immediately.  Lol 

Everything was going great.  Joe and I decided to go on vacation.  We went to Myrtle Beach the summer before and decided to go back one last time as a couple.  My doctor gave me the okay since I was only 27 weeks.  Joe was nervous though, he said that he wasn't sure that it was a good idea.  He was worried about blood clots on the long drive, he was worried about something bad happening.  I reassured Joe over and over that I was only 27 weeks and that I wasn't going to have Elena for at least another 2 months. 

Being pregnant on vacation was a lot different than the summer before.  I didn't want to be in the sun for a long time and I tired quickly.  But it was great getting to hang out in our condo looking over the gorgeous ocean.  It was so relaxing, no cooking or cleaning, no work or stress.  We loved it.  Little did we know that Elena was preparing herself for her big arrival.

Two weeks later, Joe was working late and my sister (Amber) went out to dinner with me.  We ate at the Chinese buffet.  I was feeling a bit yucky all day. I was telling Amber that I was either starting Braxton Hicks (practice contractions starting in the late/early third trimester) or I had to....well poop.  Either way I was only a little uncomfortable.  I went home and went to bed.  I woke up around 1 AM and tried to go to the bathroom, nothing happened so I went back to bed.  I got up again after a few minutes of tossing a turning.  I tried to go to the bathroom but nothing happened again.  I started pacing in the bedroom which woke Joe up.  I told him that I felt yucky and tried to go to the bathroom again.  *TMI alert* I looked when I wiped and saw a small, quarter size amount of blood.  I screamed for Joe that I was bleeding.  We called the doctor who told us to head into Labor and Delivery.  We got into the hospital at about 2 AM. 

They hooked me up to a monitor and started IV fluids (my worst fear in the world is needles and IV's, ewww).  The doctor checked me and said that I was 50% effaced but not dilated and that I was having contractions but that he wasn't worried.  The doctor kept checking on me and saying that everything was fine.  My back started hurting horribly and I started to bleed more and more and more.  The doctor was still unfazed.  This was not my regular OBGYN, he was the on call doctor and was dealing with an emergency C-section down the hall.   They gave me a medication to hopefully stop contractions and told me to rest. 

At 7:00 AM the ultrasound techs finally came in for their shift and brought the machine to me.  Elena was too unstable to be moved.  Her heart rate kept dropping.  I had to continuously flip from side to side and get oxygen in hopes of helping her out.  The ultrasound techs knew Joe and I could tell that the way they were whispering and looking that things weren't looking good.  My regular doctor finally came in and said that Elena was in a lot of trouble.  She said that I had a placental abruption and that they were getting a helicopter from Pittsburgh to fly me to Magee.  She said that we were having Elena in the next few hours.  Joe was calling our families to fill them in.  I had just talked to my mom an hour before to tell her that I was in the hospital but that I was fine.  Joe couldn't come in the helicopter so I was telling him to hurry up and get to Magee Hospital.  It is a 45 minute drive (but it was rush hour) and a 7 minute flight.  I was panicking that Joe wouldn't be there for the birth of our baby. 

The nurses were swarming me with papers to sign, taking blood, giving me a steroid shot (for Elena's lung development), putting in a catheter and rolling me from side to side.  I was terrified.  Only a few hours ago I had asked the doctor if Elena would be ok if I had her at only 30 weeks.  He (so politely) told me that I didn't want to have her now and that she would have a very hard time surviving.  Thanks a lot.  The helicopter landed and was signing me out as my sister and mom came running down the hall.  But Elena's heart rate plummeted and my doctor told me that it was time to take Elena....NOW. 

She told me that the Medical Center could handle my situation but was not equipped for such a premature baby.  That's why they were life flighting me to Pittsburgh, right?!  How was I supposed to have Elena now? The rushed me down the hall to the OR and started strapping me down.  About 20 people were swarming around me.  I was terrified and shaking so hard I couldn't even think straight.  They quickly explained to me that I was going to be put to sleep since they had no time to wait for an epidural.  I was so scared that they were going to start cutting before I was asleep.  Seriously, they were rushing so fast.  What if I wasn't asleep?!  And that's it....that's all I remember until I woke up in a ton of pain.  The helicopter team wheeled a tiny 3 pound 3 ounce 16 1/2 inch baby girl in an incubator into my room.  I got to hold her tiny hand while they told me that they would fly her to Magee's NICU.  I politely thanked them and invited them to Elena's first birthday party...I was a bit drugged up.

Later on I found out that my doctor was able to get Elena out in 63 seconds from the time I fell asleep.  She said that I was lucky that I could get a regular C-section and that she didn't cut vertically.  I couldn't imagine how horrible that would have been to recover from.  Elena required 2 minutes of resuscitation since she was not breathing.  She received an Apgar score of 1 at 1 minute and 4 at 10 minutes (the test that all newborns receive to check their health at 1 minute and 5 if necessary, most receive between 7-9 on a scale of 0-10).  We were so close to losing our sweet little baby.  So. very. close. 

I went into a recovery room and was visited by so many friendly faces.  I tried to pump as much as I could but had to dump it all since I was under anesthesia for the surgery.  I was pretty out of it, thank God.  I'm not sure how I made it through since my "plan" was to not have Elena leave my side while she nursed after my natural perfect delivery on my due date.  You know, it pretty much happened that way. Elena was just 45 minutes away from me.  Joe went to visit Elena and brought me back the amazing gift of pictures.  The nurses printed them out with the words "Hi Mommy" on it.  Joe framed them and brought back the little stuffed bear that he took a picture of her with.  I realized after a few hours just how tiny Elena was.  The bear looked like a huge bear next to her but was really only the size of my Styrofoam cup.  I was able to call the NICU nurse that was taking care of Elena that day and night to check on her.  They informed me that she was doing great.  She was on a ventilator to help her breath but she looked great.  I had so much hope and faith in God that she was going to be ok.  I was so anxious but able to keep myself together.

Since my doctor is amazing and had her own preemie daughter she knew the hell that I was going through being so far away from my baby.  I was bound and determined to get myself out of bed and not need much medication so that I could prove to her that I was ok.  She released me only 24 hours after my C-section. 

That begins out NICU adventure...I'll share that in another post.  This one is long enough!! Thanks so much for reading our precious Elena's story. :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Great Day!

Yesterday Elena woke up extra grumpy at 7:00, I was sure that the day was going to be a fun day with a miserable teething toddler.  Her molars are coming in all at once which accounts for her bouts of anger.  Don't get me wrong, Elena is the happiest baby most of the time....other than night time. Night time still gets pretty bad, when will she sleep through the night?!?! Maybe next year? lol But that girl really can through a serious temper tantrum.



Anyways, Elena turned into the happiest baby after a much needed 2 hour nap (that I may or may not have joined in on).  After a shower and lunch Elena and I needed some change of scenery.  I felt as if I had conquered the day already by getting a shower before noon lol.  I needed to buy some more yarn (Sorry Joe) for an order that I was going to get started on. 

Right before I got off the exit to go to PatCatans (about 10 minutes from my house) Elena fell asleep!! Soooo being the good mommy that I am I decided to keep driving, you know so she could rest.  I just so happened to stumble upon Hobby Lobby (about half an hour away from my house).  Can you believe it?! It just came out of nowhere, my favorite place ever! lol 

Walking around Hobby Lobby is no longer the peaceful time that it used to be.  Elena decided that running around and pulling the frames off of shelves was a much better use of our time.  Haha she was sooooo cute though.  She would run around the displays saying "mama mama mamamamaamama maaaaaaa maaaaaaa" while I chased her.  Adorable...she's just too cute!

While chasing her I was able to find the yarn that I needed AND this awesome mirror!
  For $2.50!!!!!!!
WHAT?! I've been wanting one of these mirrors for a while now. 
I cant pass up 90% off!  What a deal. 

I was super excited about my purchase and needed to stop and get Elena come water for her ride
home.  That girl drinks soooooo much, like 50 ounces of fluids, is this normal?!  I decided to run through the Chick-fil-A drive through and get myself a Diet Dr Pepper (my addiction).  I love Chick-fil-A, I always have had great service and great food.  When I got to the window the sweet girl told me that my drinks were on the house! Really?! She told me that it was a random act of kindness.  I knew I loved Chick-fil-A for a reason! :) This made my whole day!  I need to think up something cute to do for someone as a random act of kindness now.  Any good ideas? It's little things that make my day.

Elena was hysterical the rest of the night.  She was soooo happy and laughed and sang and danced.  She even went right down for bedtime.  Did she sleep through the night? was horrible.  Buuuuuuuut she's so darn cute, I guess I'll keep her.  ;) 

I do think that I may lose my husband to the couch pretty soon though.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Elena's 12 month Screening

Since Elena was born at 30 weeks and had such a traumatic birth Magee Hospital's outpatient clinic follows up with her every 6 months until she is 2.  At her first 6 month appointment in December Elena rocked!!  We are supposed to take 10 weeks off of her actual age to get her adjusted age when looking at her development so they were evaluating her as a 4 month old.  They said that she was at a 5 month old level which was GREAT!

Magee has so many great memories of my little baby, but it also holds the worst pain that I have ever experienced.  Walking through the halls with Elena helps me to process some of the feelings that I struggle with. It was a perfect early Christmas present to be able to go into that hospital with Elena and take her back with us.

It was great to go back to the hospital and visit the NICU.  We had some amaaaaazing nurses who really made a huge impact on our family.  My little chunky preemie was particularly cute that day and I loved showing her off.  Look at that CHUNK! How was she 3 pounds 3 ounces 6 months before this?!?! Ahhhh she's getting so big so fast!


So, last week we brought Elena back to Magee for her 12 month screening.  We were supposed to go back a few weeks before but we were fighting with insurance issues.  So Elena walked into that hospital like a boss and rocked her screening again.  The developmental psychologist said over and over how exhausting Elena is and how she is.  *please tell me about it, phew!*   We also got to bring Elena to lunch at Jimmy John's (amaaaaazing) where she enjoyed a delicious pickle.  I ate Jimmy John's 3-4 times a week for 35 days last year and was so excited to introduce Elena to such deliciousness.  Unfortunately, Razzy Fresh was closed and Elena didn't get any fro-yo.  I'm always amazed that I lost 20 pounds after having Elena since I ate a constant diet of fast food and fro-yo for every meal that month.  Lol 

They had her play with specific toys that tested her ability to find hidden objects, mimic movements, her vocabulary and gross motor skills.  In the report that they sent us they said that Elena is right where she needs to be and is surpassing her adjusted age of 11 months.  She's such a miracle baby, I constantly am reminded of it when I see her walking running through the house. 

My little bean turned 1 May 24th but her due date was actually August 1st so tomorrow should be Elena's first birthday!! We are celebrating by seeing my gyno/OBGYN for my annual exam.  It was a totally coincidence that it was scheduled on Elena's should-be-birthday!!  I'm so excited to show the Elena to the doctor that saved her life.  I'm forever grateful to her for her quick thinking and steady hands. This might be the first time that I'm pumped to go to the gynecologist. lol ;)  Hopefully if the rain holds off we are going to feed the giraffes at Living Treasures.  It should be a fun day!!

Happy Should Be Birthday Laney Bug!!!!  Love you little bug.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Our new car!!

Yesterday we spent the whole day car shopping.....with a 1 year old.  What were we thinking?! Haha!  So Joe needed to buy a new car ASAP.  He has been looking and a while now and he didn't find anything that he really liked.  When he found a 2008 Ford Edge in Cranberry I fell in love.  It had low mileage and was fully loaded. 

After driving it we decided to put in an offer.  When we weren't coming up with the same numbers as the salesman and Elena was heading down a slippery slope of exhaustion we decided to walk away from the car.  Which was being put into auction immediately, so we were losing it.  We went out to lunch and another dealer but couldn't find anything that was even close to the Edge.  Thank goodness it was still there when we called about changing our minds!!  We got a great deal on an amaaaazing new (to us) car.  We love it!! :)


Going car shopping with a 1 year old?  Here's some tips:
  • Don't!  Hahaha 
  • Bring plenty of snacks, preferably ones that can't be crumbled on the floor and licked up
  • Don't forget your running shoes!
  • File cabinets are a great toy while signing 4298012 papers
  • Avoid going during nap or meal times
Elena was an awesome little girl and everyone was so impressed.  I was a exhausted from chasing her and said "Don't lick that!!!!" more times than I ever have before but she was so cute.

Well now she's screaming "ba babaabababaababa" and trying to scale the couch.....time to go!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The biggest blessings come in the Tiniest Packages...

Welcome to The Tiniest Packages Blog!!
I'm starting this little blog as a way to keep family and friends updated on our little family without blowing up your newsfeeds daily (as I tend to do, lol).  A blog is a great way to share our special memories and to keep them safe.  I would love for Elena to be able to read these posts and see what we were doing, how I was feeling, how sweet she was! 

I also want to share my daughter's story.  Elena is a little over one year old, she was born at 30 weeks gestation with almost no warning.  Elena weighed in at 3 pounds 3 ounces and was 16.5 inches long.  I want to inspire women who may be in the same situation as I was a year ago.  Being a NICU mom is hard work, emotionally and physically. But it does get easier, it becomes your normal quickly.  Elena was in Magee's NICU for 35 days where she learned to breathe, eat, keep her heart rate up and be able to stay warm.  I didn't know anything about preemies, the nurses and doctors were so helpful with all of my paranoid, overprotective questions.  It takes an amazing person to work with the tiniest of babies.  Not only are they taking care of these babies but they are taking care of the parents who are scared and unsure of the many alarms and wires.  They are so full of great tips and information. We were blessed with such an amazing baby even though she did scare her mama half to death from day 1!!


We were surrounded by so much kindness in our time of need.  I was able to read so many inspiring stories about preemies that gave me hope.  Maybe I can help just one person?

Elena is such a perfect baby!  She runs around my house at the speed of light, heaven help me.  She says about 10 words and can sign "more" and "all done".  She knows where her nose and belly are (geniussssss).  She is such a social baby and loves going to Target with mama, playing with her friends at the park and story time and taking walks.  

Thanks for reading and I hope that you follow along with my crazy little family!
Alyssa <3