Sunday, November 29, 2009

9th Floor

Free of medication lines, nasal cannulas, feeding tubes, and central lines, Mr. Kimble is ready to progress to the Cardiac step-down unit! It is nice to see his face again, free of stickers, tape, and tubes.
We packed up our stuff and headed to the nearest EXIT! We went up to the 9th floor and settled into our new lodging, in room 9-1. Kimble graduated to a crib, a room with four walls and a door, as well as a connected bathroom with a shower in it! What luxury!


The Husband was in charge of bringing up the rest of our stuff. Here he is, enjoying a nice stroll down the hallway, with my bag and the ever present breast pump.

Since we were kicked out of the Cardiac ICU, my milk storage needed to go as well. The nurses were all impressed with my milk supply, and often teased me about charging me rent, for taking up all the space in the milk freezer. These two bags of milk were what was left over after bottle feeding Kimble my breastmilk, as well as breastfeeding him. Yes. I make milk quite well.

Before The Husband left to go back home and be with the kiddos, he deposited some love on his baby. So sweet.
He also left us with some flowers to decorate our new accommodations with. Just lovely. Tulips are my favorite.
Here's to the next few days, and hopefully the last few days, of being in the hospital...for this time around anyway. This will more than likely be repeated in about 3-5 months, when Kimble has his next surgery. For now, we are happy with his quick progress.

Sometimes Your Day Just Isn't Complete, Unless You Are Visited By A Pig.




Moving On Up!

Today we are getting transferred to the 9th floor! We are moving from the Cardiac ICU(CICU) to the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit (CPCU). This is a big deal! This means that Kimble is doing so great, that he is ready to move to the less critical unit. This also means that by the weeks end, if not sooner, that we will be able to go home!!

Things are happening fast!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Breathing Whatnots

Yesterday proved to be a big day for Mr. Kimble, in terms of breathing. Since his surgery Monday morning, he had been on a ventilator. He had to stay on it for a few days for a number of reasons. First, if he had to go back to surgery, it was already in place. Second, he was heavily sedated for the first few days after the surgery, so his body needed stimulation to breathe. Third, he was so swollen from various things, that his lungs had a lot of pressure bearing down on them, and the ventilator helped him breathe. Fourth, with the swollen body, came swollen lymph nodes and a swollen airway. If they removed the breathing tube before that edema decreased, his airway could have constricted so much that it could become completely closed off. Those wouldn't have been good things, so they had to wait until he was ready.

Here you can see his breathing tube in his left nostril, as well as another tube (I never did understand what this tube was for) in his right nostril. In this picture, you also see that he has some sensors on his forehead, a patch on his chest which cover his staples, an IV in his hand, and heart monitors on his chest.

So everything looked good for extubation yesterday morning. However, because the doctors were still a bit worried about how Kimble would hold up, in his breathing, and how his diaphragm would cooperate, they placed a CPAP on him, to stimulate his breathing. This obnoxious nose guard thing offers Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Baby did not like it at all.
Giving him his binkie (cut across the top so it would fit in his mouth with the apparatus in his nose) helped a lot. Fortunately, he didn't have to use the CPAP for more than an hour or so.
Good riddance CPAP! He was breathing so well, that they took it off and replaced it with his old friend, the nasal cannula. Instead of oxygen, it was only pumping through a tiny bit of room air...just enough to stimulate him a bit.
With the ventilator off and the CPAP gone, he was ready to start eating again! Here is daddy, feeding Kimble his first bottle of breastmilk after his surgeries.

For the next day, the amount he eats will be closely monitored by the doctors, to make sure he is eating well. Sometimes, babies so young have a difficult time learning how to eat again. Fortunately, Kimble had a good few weeks before his surgery to master the art of drinking from a bottle and breastfeeding, so he picked it right back up again. The fact that he loves sucking on his binkie helps things too. His sucking reflexes are remarkable.

Later tonight, he should be able to try to breastfeed again!! We are very happy with his progress the last few days. He is doing so well, and he looks like himself again. The last little tube he has in his nose, is an NG tube. This allows for direct deposit of breastmilk into his stomach, in case he wasn't strong enough to suck. Because he has done so well, this tube will come out today too. Yay!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for...

There are so many incredible blessings in my life right now. When we started this journey, in July, I knew that the road would be difficult. However, at the same time, I also knew that it would be filled with so much love, and that we would be showered with blessings. It's truly amazing to experience. So here is a list of things I'm grateful for today. Some are huge. Some are trivial. All of them help me get through the rough days.

Kimble: This little guy is so impressively resilient. He is strong. He is loving. He has an amazing spirit. He is very special, and I am so thankful that my Heavenly Father has trusted him to me for this time on earth. I pray that the time will be long spent. I am completely in love with him. He completes our family. I can't wait until the other kids can feel his love as well.

The Husband: Heath has been my strength through this all. I've always been rather independent, and I hate breaking down and crying in front of people. Until this time, Heath had rarely seen me very emotional. I've had to depend on him to support me, and he has done a fabulous job. He is my rock. Even more, he has allowed me to be with baby, and hasn't pushed me to leave him. He's managed the schedule with the kids, run errands for me, and done so much more. We love each other. We are so thankful for each other. I am so glad he is my husband.

My Kids: I know these past three weeks have been difficult for my kids, but they have shown a strength and courage that I didn't know they had. They have such faith as well. Everyday they say such sweet prayers for Kimble and myself. They take the time to ask me things like "How did you sleep last night?" and "Did you have a good day today?". Even though they miss me, and Georgie always asks "Are you coming home tomorrow?", they are supporting the fact that I need to stay with Kimble, and haven't been complaining or whining about me being away. We'll be together soon. I can't wait.

My Mom: My mom has been a jewel. She cleared her schedule so she could spend the whole month of November with my family. At first, we didn't think I would still be in the hospital for that long of a time period. We also anticipated Heath being home with the kids a lot more, but all the ups and downs with Kimble have meant that Heath was with us more. Hence, my mom has been the "single grandmother" home with the kids most of the time. She has been a trooper. She has tried very hard to keep the kids on the schedule that they were on, manage the household, and keep track of all the wonderful service that people have done for us, like meals, and watching the kids, and a ton of other stuff that I probably don't know about. Because she has been at home, I haven't needed to worry about anything. I've been able to focus on Kimble. What a huge blessing.

The Color Pink: When baby is pink, we are so happy. He has been a miriad of different shades since he has been born. The most scary shade was gray, which is what he looked like after his surgeries, and the terrible night following those surgeries. If pink wasn't already my favorite color, it would be now.

Tissue: I've certainly used plenty of it.

Showers, Hair Dryers, Makeup: This may sound trivial, but a shower changes everything. A long hard day and night of crying, overwhelming emotions, lack of sleep, and stress can be made better simply by enjoying a nice hot shower. With that, being able to blowdry my hair, put on makeup, change into clean clothes, and come back into the ICU again with a fresh outlook, really makes the day go better.

Staff: The staff here at Children's Hospital are truly incredible. The nurses, doctors, social workers, secretaries, and everyone else that have been part of our experience here, have really made a bad situation become something that we are blessed to have been a part of. Everyone treats us like we are their only priority. How they manage that, I have no idea. I really can't sing their praises enough. What a superb group of people. I have never doubted that the level of care is anything but excellent. They know what they are doing, and I have complete confidence in that.

Books: I have always loved to read, but here especially, it's so nice to have a book to distract from the hard times going on around me.

Internet: I think I would being going crazy if I didn't have access to the internet. I can sit a few feet away from baby, turn on my laptop, and be connected to the world. It's been what has made this time in the ICU feel almost normal.

Emails, Blog Comments, Facebook Posts, Instant Messages, Texts, Phone Calls: Really, all of these mean the world to me. I've been able to see all the love that everyone has for my family. Most of the time I can't believe that I deserve all this attention, but nonetheless, I have been strengthened by your love. I really can't express how much this means to me. Thank you.


Visitors: We have had some wonderful visitors. Some people stop by on their way to other things, and some people make special trips up here, just to see us. Having never been in a situation like this, where I am removed from "normal life" for a while, I appreciate having that normalcy of seeing friends and chatting about everyday stuff, and feeling their comfort and support.

Prayers: I cannot imagine how many prayers have been said on our behalf. People who don't even know us have prayed for us. People of different faith and religion have prayed for us. The biggest thing is that I really FEEL those prayers. I feel comforted. I feel like I have warm arms surrounding me, and strong arms holding me up, and whispered words of comfort and love. Faith is an amazing thing. I thank you all, for praying. I thank Heavenly Father for hearing and answering those prayers.

Cafeteria Vouchers: The volunteer office here has been wonderful. I have been given enough vouchers for the cafeteria, that in all my time here, I have yet to spend a single dollar on food. Very impressive.

Sleeping Rooms: There are a few sleeping rooms located throughout the hospital. ICU families are given priority for these rooms. When Heath comes up, most nights he spends here, he has been able to get one of these rooms to sleep in. I have stayed in the ICU with Kimble, on a foldout bench, which has been just fine for me. However, Tuesday night, with baby still intubated and sedated, I decided to join Heath in the sleep rooms, and do my body some good by getting a good night of uninterrupted sleep (except for getting up twice to breastpump). As luck would have it, the room that was assigned to us had one twin bed, instead of a queen bed. Heath and I cuddled up close and made the best of it. We laughed about it, but were so thankful that we had a place to sleep, and a bathroom to shower in (and towels to use!).

Water: The water here tastes really good. It's filtered and cold and is accompanied by crushed ice. Life is good.

Pillows and Blankets: My friend Colleen gave me a great gift for my baby shower. It was a bag filled with things to use while I was at the hospital. Among the assorted items, was a small pillow and a soft fleece blanket. These two things have turned a clinical world of starched sheets and raspy blankets, into a world of comfort. It's amazing how two small personal items can really comfort you. The pillow and blanket go everywhere I go, from the sleep rooms, to the pump room, to the recliner, and to the foldout bed. Thank you, for that simple gift, Colleen. It's made all the difference.

I could go on and on, but for now, this is a good list of things that I am grateful for at this time. I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving Holiday. Please know that I am thankful for YOU!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Closed Up!

The Surgeons just closed up our baby's chest..again. He is doing great. He had a wonderful 30 hours of stability. His body has rested. His heart is adapting. It's been a relief.

Next step tomorrow....getting him off the ventilator.

Hope you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Scenes From Our World

When the sun came up, our hope came up as well. His vitals have stabilized. So far, the rest of the day, after 5am, has been incredibly different than it started out as. Kimble has been stable, and is resting after his ordeal. He needs this quiet time to let his little body recover, as well as get use to the new bloodflow, so we are very happy. He is still sedated and has a whole slew of medications getting pumped into him. This next pictures shows just a few connections, coming from one IV.

He has quite a few lines, going into his body. He has two peripheral IVs, one Central Line, and one Art line (artery). He also has draining tubes and ventilator tubes.
All of his lines are connected to these pressure machines, that administer the medications, fluids, and nutrition to Kimble. He currently has 13 of these machines hooked up, and some of them do double duty with the medicines.

He gets his nose, throat, and mouth sucked out quite a bit, since he can't do it himself. His breathing tube is through his nose.
So his bed is a pretty busy place right now. It's full of wires and stuff. His personal belongings are sitting close by, in a corner, waiting for the time we can use them again.

Since today has been less dramatic than the previous 12-24 hours were, both Heath and I took little naps today. We much prefer the quiet hours of waiting, than the emotional hours of trauma.

Pretty Much The Worst Night

So last night, around 9pm, Kimble came back from Surgery/Cath Lab. They had taken him back to the O.R., and opened up his chest again. As soon as his chest was opened, his oxygen stats came right back up again. From a surgical standpoint, everything looked fine. Hence, they decided to send him to the Cath Lab, to do an angiogram to see from the inside, what was going on, since the outside looked normal.

As they were inserting the contrast (ink) through his artery, they discovered a part of the shunt near where it was connected to the artery, was either kinked, folded, or had some blockage of some sort. They looked at it from a few angles, then decided to balloon through it to clear everything out, in case it was a clot. If it didn't clear up, then it was a problem with the shunt and would need to replace it. However, the blockage cleared, with a good squirt of Heparin, which is an injectable anticoagulant. Thus, the shunt was fine, and the pathway was patent, meaning open again.

The Doctors aren't quite sure they can narrow down exactly one reason why this all started, but they think it may have been a combination of pressure from his closed chest, and the swelling from the surgery, as well as that slight blockage...and maybe other things, but the result was that the top end of his shunt got pinched off, or closed off, and blood was prevented from going to the lungs. Because the tiny amount of blood going to his lungs from his right ventricle and pulmonary artery isn't enough to support him, it was a dangerous time for Kimble. Just in case they needed to make a quick trip to the O.R. again, they left his chest opened, and covered it with sterile gore-tex dressing. This is pretty standard, and will be closed within a few days, after swelling goes down.

So, like I said at the beginning, around 9pm they brought him back to his room. All was stable for about 20 minutes.

Within seconds, his blood pressure dropped to something like 24 over 14. His carbon dioxide levels whacked out...his oxygen went crazy, and immediately, our world crashed.

Our nurse started doing chest compressions, which is just about the worst thing I can think of witnessing. It was absolutely horrible for me. I seriously thought that was the end. Heath and I prayed and prayed, as everyone was working on our sweet baby. The compressions continued for about 4 minutes, then things stabilized for a bit. I'd like to say that things got under control after that, but they just continued throughout the night. Our baby wasn't really in a safe zone until about 5am this morning. All night long he was critical, as a hundred things happened at once, around him and to him, as Heath and I watched. I was able to lie down for a little bit, as everything was going on. I did catch a little bit of sleep, as did Heath, but for the majority of the night, we were witnesses to the traumatic events that surrounded our baby.

Without recounting 9 hours worth of life and death moments, I'll give an overview. Essentially, the shunt that they put in allows some of the blood that is leaving the left ventricle, and going through the body, to get redirected and pumped into the lungs for oxygen. How much blood flow goes to the lungs, and how much goes to the body, takes some time to get regulated. Kimble's body needs to learn how to adapt to that. We were told that the first 12 to 18 hours after surgery are the most volatile, for babies, as we definitely found out.

Anyway, as Kimble's heart was directing this flow, and trying to balance it out, we think that too much blood was going to the lungs, and not enough was going through his body and back to his heart. Thus, his blood pressure dropped, which makes the heart not pump well, which causes less blood to get pumped back into the heart, which drops his blood pressure even more...you get the cycle. It plummets dangerously fast. That is what caused the first episode, where they had to do chest compressions. From there, the doctors have to administer different medicines, to try to balance out that blood flow. It's tricky, and because Kimble's body reacts so dramatically to even the slightest adjustment of medication, it made for a very long night of ups and downs.

First, he had too much blood to his lungs...then he didn't have enough, which cause oxygen to drop. Then he had too much, and they needed to administer nitrogen to counterbalance the high oxygen...then he didn't have enough..then blood pressure dropped again. It was a vicious cycle. He received lots of blood transfusions, lots of medications, and a bunch of crazy stuff that I don't even know about.

For now, since the last 4 hours or so, they have him stabilized. They found a balance that seems to be working for the moment. We are still warned that today could be a repeat of last night. It's touch and go for the moment.

We believe that the start of all this stemmed from that slight blockage in his shunt. If that hadn't had happened, which started the whole chain of events throughout the night, they think that he would have had a more stable night. With surgery twice in a few hours, as well as the Cath Lab procedures, it was pretty invasive for his little body. Fortunately, Kimble has been completely paralyzed and doped up with medication, so he hasn't been in any pain. They will continue to keep him this way, for a day or two.

Heath and I, besides being extremely exhausted and emotionally spent, are so very thankful for all the hands that worked their miracles on our baby last night. We are beyond impressed by the level of care and attention that was shown to Kimble, as well as the comfort that was extended to us, through this difficult time. Kimble very well could have died at least a dozen times throughout the night. We definitely had angels guiding everyone through the tough times.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Back to Surgery

After a few hours of recovery, Kimble had a drop in his saturation levels again. It was pretty significant. The doctors believe that he formed a clot in his shunt. They just took him back to the operating room to open him up again and take a look at everything, and probably re-do the shunt. Now..we wait.

Out of Surgery

Baby Kimble is out of surgery. Dr. Campbell said "Kimble behaved himself" and that everything looks good. His oxygen saturation levels are higher than they expected him to have, so that is good news. He is still sedated, has a ventilator in his nose, draining tube, central lines...but everyone is commenting how good he looks. I take their word for it.

Thank you for thinking of us today, and for praying for us. I've been able to make it through today, so far, with minimal episodes of crying. I attribute that to the comfort I feel from all the prayers. I'll post pictures of him tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yesterday

Yesterday, as this little guy enjoyed some tummy time, and then got to spend hours with his grandma holding him...

The husband and I got to enjoy a few hours with these kiddos. We played Pictureka...
We wandered around the hospital...ate a picnic lunch in the cafeteria....watched the kids run around outside...got lots of love and attention...


Had a very unhealthy snack of french fries and onion rings, dipped in ranch. (That's Georgie's hand, dripping in the ranch dressing that she just fell into, in haste to get some fries.)

And after hours of togetherness, the kids went back home and I went back to my baby. I missed him terribly. It was a good visit. Much thanks to Ben and Becky, for driving up my family (since Heath was already here with us). The kids will come up again on Thursday, to enjoy a nice cafeteria-style Thanksgiving lunch with us.
Tomorrow baby goes into surgery. He will have a BT Shunt placed between his aorta and his pulmonary artery, as a permanent opening for blood to get to his lungs to be oxygenated. It's an open-chest surgery. He shouldn't have to go on a heart-lung bypass, so we are thankful for that. The next few days are going to be very hard, with his situation being critical, as he recovers. I can already feel my emotions getting the better of me, as I prepare myself for what's going to happen. Kimble is a strong boy. We are praying for the best.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Newspaper Story!

Our local paper did a little story on us yesterday. I think they did a great job. If you want to read it online, CLICK HERE and then click on "this week's Woodmen edition".

Our baby will be having surgery on Monday. It's a big deal. We are enjoying this quiet weekend together to the fullest. Next week will bring lots of changes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I am so blessed!


My dear sweet friends are hosting this "Heal A Heart Boutique" for Kimble today and tomorrow. For the past few months, people have generously donated items to sell, including mostly homemade items like quilts, decorations, aprons, baby items, treats, etc. The most amazing thing is, all these items are donated, and ALL of the sales are for us to offset our medical costs. I still cannot believe how much time, effort, and love has gone into this huge project.
If you live in our area, and are looking for AMAZING handmade items, please stop by! I got a peek at some of the items for sale, and I cannot believe the quality. Truly, truly amazing all that has been done for us.
If you live far away and cannot come, there is one item that you can buy: My Cookbook! Just click on the link at the top-right of the page and it will take you directly to my book on Blurb.
So today, as Mr. Kimble and I sit and snuggle, my heart and mind will be with my friends and what they are doing in my behalf. Their service, love, strength, and support have made all the difference to me and my family. Thank you so much.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Breast Pump Breakup

Dear Hospital Grade Breast Pump,

We've seen a lot of each other these past two weeks. In all honesty, I've seen you much more than I wanted to. It's not entirely your fault, though. At first, I needed you. Without my baby by my side, it was you I turned to for relief. It was you that I depended on. We spent many late night hours alone together. We spent many daytime hours together too. Whenever I needed you, you were there...even if sometimes you were seeing other mommies too, and I had to wait my turn, I always knew you would be there.

Then came the day I've been waiting for. Last weekend, during the wee hours of the morning, I was faced with a new possibility. As I sat holding my sweet baby, I heard my nurse say "I'll go heat up a bottle for you." It was then, looking at my baby crying in hunger, that I felt it was time to try breastfeeding again. Even though he still had his nasal cannula, which had hampered his breastfeeding progress before, I felt the need to try again.

My baby latched right on and started eating. He gave no indication that he hadn't been successful at it before. He ate. He was filled. He went to sleep again. I was ecstatic!

It was after that, when my visits to you started decreasing. I liked my new situation better, and didn't care that I no longer needed you as much. It was wonderful! However, even though I started breastfeeding on a regular basis, I still saw you a few times a day, to balance out my milk production with what the baby was taking in.

But now, the time has come for me to officially break up with you. Oh, I'll continue seeing you, but it won't be on a full time basis anymore. I am much happier without you consuming all my time. I hope you understand.

Sincerely,
Breastfeeding Momma


Daddy

Since Mr. Kimble was born, Heath hasn't wanted to leave his side. He went with Kimble to the NICU, right after he was born. He took pictures, he asked questions, he absorbed everything about what was happening. It was really touching for me to see how much he loved his baby. Not that he wasn't attached to our other babies, but in the past, our babies were more my focus, than Heath's. Sure he held them, and kissed them, and loved them, but for the most part, the babies are mine until they are a bit more "rough and tumble".

However, Heath wants to be with Kimble as much as possible. He comes up to the hospital very often, to be with us. We are so happy that he was given so much donated vacation time so that he doesn't have to go into work. Also, because my mom is with the kids, he is free to come to the hospital as often as he wants to. That has been great, since Kimble has had so many ups and downs these past few weeks. It's been so great having Heath here to comfort and support us.

Last weekend, Heath found something that he can do for baby that I can't. Their blood-types match, so Heath was able to donate blood for Kimble, in anticipation of a blood transfusion that our doctors want us to be prepared for. Heath very proudly loaded up on electrolytes and ate good food, so he could give his best to his son.

Sometimes, just being here next to baby, and enjoying an afternoon nap together, is just what they both need.

Since I have always breastfed, bottle-feeding our babies was never an option available to him. Heath got the chance to feed Kimble a few times, and it certainly is endearing to watch them.

Did I mention how difficult it is for him to go back home? As much as he loves and misses our other kids, he really has a tough time walking away from the hospital and driving back home. I am lucky to have this man in my life. He is such a great daddy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hello Prostoglandin

So, it didn't work. Immediately his saturation levels dropped off, and within 3 hours of taking him off the medication, he was more than 30 points lower than he had started out at. Plus, he had taken on a nice purple hue to his skin color. Not good.

They put the medicine back on. Within minutes he was back up to his normal saturation level. So, he needs the prostoglandin right now. The doctors will pow wow about him again, and they will decide on what to do next. Most likely, he'll need to go back to the Cath Lab and have a stent placed in that opening, so it will stay open, instead of needing the medicine to do that.

For now, he is pink again. That is good.

Goodbye Prostoglandin

My baby is getting taken off his prostoglandin today. He has been on it since he was minutes old. It is the essential medicine that has been keeping his PDA open so that enough oxygenated blood could get pumped through the heart.

Our doctors decided that today is the day to test his heart, and see how he does without this "trap door" to help him out. Now we wait...hours, days...to see what his heart will do, and if it will be good enough for his body. They can always start the prostoglandin again, if his saturation levels get too low. They can also place a stent, a more permanent way to keep that PDA open.

Also, during these past few days, he has had an infection. You wouldn't know it by looking at him, since he seems to be healthy and strong, but nevertheless, he has had an infection in his blood. It was probably a result of his PICC line getting infected, so they removed that yesterday. However, since he is still on antibiotics for his infection, we are hoping that it doesn't interfere with this next step.

Besides all that, Kimble really does seem to be doing well. Now we get to wait....some more.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bath Time

This little guy was pretty stinky yesterday morning, so his nurse Jody and I gave him a bath. He got to have most of his lines (blood pressure, nasal cannula, heart monitors, pulse monitors) temporarily removed so he could get fresh and clean. We kept his left hand out of the bath, because that has his PICC line and IV in it.
He wasn't super impressed by the bath. He cried the whole time, but boy did he smell better afterward! Nothing like a nice warm bath on a cold and snowy day. We got 6 inches of snow overnight, and it continued to lightly snow most of the morning. It was a pretty sight to see out our window.

After his bath and a nice rubdown of lotion, he got all his monitors back on straight, got mummified in his blanket, and went right back to sleep with the help of his comforts: his binkie and his right hand.

His medicine is doing the trick. He hasn't had a drop in his levels at all. We'll probably just be hanging around until Wednesday, when they'll probably do another Echo and see what his heart is looking like after a week of getting blood flow to the right ventricle and out the pulmonary artery. I like these nice quiet days.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Birth Story: Kimble Paul

Due to my history of fast labors, delivering 10 days early, and the fact that the doctors wanted to make sure that this baby was born in Denver University Hospital, I was scheduled to come in on November 4th at 7am, when I was exactly 38 weeks along, for an amnio. If the amnio results came back positive for good lung development, they would induce me right afterward and we could have a baby! The amnio was also suggested to start the chromosome count so we could find out if baby K had any other issues to be on the lookout for.

So because we had to check in so early, we stayed the prior night a few blocks from the hospital, at the Ronald McDonald House. There was such a good spirit of giving there. It was neat to be a recipient of that. On the way to the hospital that morning, we stopped outside for a quick picture with Ronald.

We showed up at the 4th floor "Women's Care Center" and then were shown to a little room where we would be spending the next few hours, getting the amnio and waiting for the results. Heath snapped a quick picture of me before I changed into the lovely gowns they provide. This is officially my last picture ever being pregnant. A bit sad to think about.

After the amnio, which was very very uncomfortable, we had to wait about 4 hours before the lab results came back saying that the lungs were mature enough. I was shown into a labor room to get officially checked in. However, after being dropped off in the room, an hour went by and I still hadn't been seen. I think they forgot about me. Anyway, I called the nurse and suggested that we get things going. Finally, a nurse came in and started talking about putting some gel on my cervix to soften it up for six hours or so. I assured her that if the doctor just came in and broke my water, I would have the baby in a few hours. This seemed to perplex her until I shared with her my history of having babies.

Finally, the doctor came in and checked me. She seemed confident that the baby was low enough to safely break my water. Right around 2pm, she broke my water and left, saying she'd check on me in a few hours. Immediately, contractions started for me. In fact, they started and didn't ever stop. They were every minute apart, lasting about 90 seconds, and they were strong!

Fifteen minutes later, the doctor came back in. "Are you feeling these contractions?" she asked, amazed. Oh yes. I certainly am! She checked me again and I was one more centimeter dilated than I was 15 minutes before. We started to think that maybe the baby would be here within the hour.

My contractions continued to be strong and close together for the next three hours. I didn't get more than about 60 seconds of relief between the contractions. I did what I normally do, and stayed quiet, with my eyes closed, and calmly breathed through the contractions. However, by 5pm, three hours after my water broke, my contractions were so strong, and I felt a change in them. I knew that it was time to have the baby. The doctor came in to check me and announced "You are 6 cm dilated."

I seriously about died when I heard that. It was the most disappointing, frustrating, and disturbing news I had ever received. I wanted to rip her head off. I was sure she wasn't measuring me correctly. I opened my eyes, looked at her, and said with all the forcefulness I could muster "These are NOT 6 cm contractions!" The doctor just got up and walked away, knowing not to mess with me. Heath and Jennifer were right there, and although I feel like I had yelled that at the doctor, they said I said it with such a pathetic and quiet voice, that it was barely above a whisper, and had been the first thing they heard me say in the 3 hours I was laboring.

As the doctor was leaving, I heard her say "I'll be back to check on her in a few hours." I knew I couldn't possibly last a few more hours with contractions like this. If you remember, I have had all my other babies naturally, and I knew exactly how intense the contractions got right before I needed to start pushing. I knew for a fact that I was experiencing the same intensity at that moment, and I couldn't possibly keep control for a few more hours. I told the nurse I wanted an epidural. She said the anesthesiologist was close by, and she would go get her. I said "HURRY!"

Thankfully, within minutes, she came in and started to go over the paperwork. I interrupted her during my 30 second break between contractions, told her I understood the risks associated with an epidural, and could I just sign the paper and have her get started. She agreed. I signed. She went to work. It took about 15 minutes for her to do the epidural, and during that time, I was praying that each contraction would be my last. Seriously, it was more intense than I've ever felt before.

When she was done, I laid back down and told the nurse I was ready to have the baby. The contractions had eased, but I could still feel my legs, and feel everything inside me, as the doctor checked me. Yup. I was complete. I could start pushing. Three contractions later, the baby practically flew out of me. The cord was wrapped around his body a few times, and because of that, he was kind of held up inside my womb. This prevented him from pressing down on my cervix and dilating me. So that explains why I was feeling "10 cm contractions" when I was only 6 cm dilated. If the cord hadn't been holding him up, I would have been delivering him at that time. Make sense?

Anyway, he was born about 10 minutes after I got the epidural, but I'm so glad I got that relief those last few minutes. I don't think I could have taken another minute. He was quickly taken across the room, where the team of NICU people checked him over. Kimble Paul Nunnelly was born at 5:46pm (3 hours and 45 minutes after my labor started) weighing in at 6 lbs 5 oz, 19 1/2 inches long.



About 15 minutes later, they were ready to take him to the NICU. They brought him over for me to hold for a few minutes. I kissed him and touched him and tried to absorb every detail about him in those 2 minutes.

Then he was taken away. Heath stayed with him and took lots of pictures during the next two hours, as they cleaned him up, weighed him, started IVs and umbilical lines and medicine to keep the PDA open in his heart, and did an Echocardiogram.


Two hours after I had him, during which time I got cleaned up, changed, and had switched rooms to the recovery room, I was able to walk down the hallway and into the NICU to visit with him. I was not allowed to hold him, but I sat next to him, held his hand, stroked his head, and kissed him over and over again.

That is the birth story of the day Kimble was born, and the day that changed our life forever.

Every Heartbeat Creates A Miracle

That remarkable saying was on the tea bag my nurse used this morning. She brought it in to show me and thought it was very fitting, being in the Cardiac ICU. I couldn't agree with her more. Life is so precious. My baby's heart may be broken and struggling, but regardless of that, it is pumping. It is working. With every pump, every squeeze, every seize, and every moment in between, it continues to create a miracle. My little miracle.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How Many Paper Towels Does It Take...

....to dry off after a shower? If you don't know the answer to that question, consider yourself fortunate.

The nice thing about our little space in the Cardiac ICU, is that there is a place for me to sleep. There is a place for me to hold baby. There is a place for me to pump my breastmilk. There is a bathroom a few feet away. There is a little kitchen where I can store food and most importantly, get all the CRUSHED ICE that I want.

However, if I want to shower, I have to leave the ICU, (clothed in my jammies, hair sticking up everywhere and looking dreadful, I'm sure), walk down the long hallway, take the elevator up to the 4th floor, walk down another long hallway, and use the one and only shower that is available. When making this trek, you hope with all hope that the shower is not in use. Some days, you get lucky. Most days, you have to camp out in the hallway and wait. Yesterday I didn't get a shower until almost 10am. It's quite a bummer.

For that reason, I like to get a shower between 5am and 6am. It seems like a good time since most parents are still sleeping. This morning, it was almost 6am when I got up. (Yes, I've been sleeping more.) I rushed off quickly to get a shower, hoping that no one was in there. As luck would have it, it was open. However, in my haste to get there, I neglected to ask a nurse for a towel before I left the ICU. Rather than risk somebody sneaking into the shower during the few minutes it would take me to go back and get a towel, I decided that using paper towels would be the better option.

I honestly didn't count how many paper towels it took, but let me just say that it was a lot. It does the job, but certainly isn't as easy as a cloth towel is, especially because you can't shimmy a napkin across your back to dry it off like you can a towel.

The funny thing is, Heath stayed with baby and I last night too. He also made the trip to the shower in haste, hoping to get in there after me. Like me, he forgot to ask for a towel as well. At least there were plenty of paper towels to use. I'd hate to find out how many toilet seat covers it would take to dry off.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stupid Episodes

So baby Kimble did pretty well all day yesterday, recovering from his Cath procedure the day before. It wasn't until the evening that he started having some frequent drops in his oxygen saturation levels. This has happened on occasion since he was born, but the frequency of it was worrying. Thankfully, they were quick decelerations, and he recovered within seconds, but it was enough to send doctors and nurses into a frenzy, wondering why it was happening.

They tossed back and forth a few ideas. It seemed like apnea. Maybe he was holding his breath...forgetting to breathe...something like that. Maybe he had acid reflux, which caused him some pain, and he tightened up, and oxygen levels went down. Maybe the machines were just tweaking out, and his levels were just fine.

Then I was holding him, and he had another desaturation. He turned pretty purple, and it was scary for me. I have to say, holding on to your baby and not being able to help them is quite possibly the worst thing in the world. Luckily, I had some amazing nurses and doctors with me last night, and I got a lot of comfort and a lot of attention. They worked hard to solve the puzzle.

A little bit later, after reviewing his most recent Echo, they think they found a reason for his desaturation. Where his pulmonary valve attaches to the right ventricle, the area is very thick and muscle-bound and tortuous, and tight. They think that Kimble's heart is beating so fast, it's almost too fast for his right ventricle to keep up, and instead it seizes. This was to be expected, and has been warned would happen. His right ventricle needs to basically learn how to start pumping and relaxing. Anyway, as a result, where that valve attaches, part of the muscle tends to squeeze the valve closed, preventing blood flow. Hence the blood squirts back up through the ventricle and atrium, into the left side of the heart, and gets pumped to the body. Since this blood is blue blood, or non-oxygenated blood, it causes a decrease of oxygen saturation in his body. Thus, his saturation levels drop on the monitor, then his machines DING DING DING for all the world to hear, and causes nurses to come running, and mommy to start crying.

Stupid episodes.

So, they started some medicine for him to actually slow his heart rate down a bit, and hopefully allow a bit more recovery time for his right ventricle to contract and relax more appropriately. Kimble had a good night, with good saturation levels, and I forced myself to sleep, instead of standing vigil beside him.

Today, as well as through the weekend, we are going to just watch him, adjust levels of medicine, and hope that this solves the problem.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quick Update

Just wanted to let you all know that the procedure in the Cath Lab is done. Kimble pulled through excellently. The doctors said it went better than expected. He now has his pulmonary valve open and blood is flowing through it and to the lungs. We now wait and see if his right ventricle, which is so thick and muscle-bound, will relax and form a cavity for the blood to go, and eventually get pumping like it should. It will be about 4 days of waiting and watching Kimble and seeing what his body does, before we go to the next step.

We are so grateful for you all, whether we know you personally or just through this wonderful network. Your thoughts, comments, prayers, love, and support have really touched Heath and I so much. I will continue to give you updates everyday on our sweet baby.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Someone's happy!

Kimble was actually just finishing up his yawn when I took this picture, but it looks like he was smiling, so let's just pretend he was giving me a smile. We just got done having a photographer come, from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. It's a wonderful company that consists of volunteer photographers who will come to the hospital and take pictures of children who are experiencing life threatening conditions.

Kimble got a bath, in preparation for his photoshoot. He also got some of his lines temporarily taken off, so that we could see as much of his sweet face as possible.

Under these special circumstances, the kids were also allowed to come and have a few pictures taken with Kimble as well. It was their first time seeing him, and although they weren't allowed to touch him or breathe on him, they got close enough to see him.

It will be some time before we get these pictures, but it was so sweet to be a part of this tender moment. We know that Kimble is ours for eternity, no matter what happens with his future procedures. It was wonderful to celebrate this special time with him, and have it captured forever in a photograph.

I took these pictures after everyone left. I can hardly stand how adorable and lovely he is.

A Few Quiet Days

Kimble and I are continuing to have nice quiet days. His saturation levels have remained high and he is having a few minutes of "awake" time now. He is continuing to take my breastmilk in a bottle. He still sleeps more than a typical newborn, but that is just fine. He is doing great.

I can hold him pretty much whenever I want to...and I do. Due to all his cords, medicines, and whatnot, I have to stay completely stationary next to his bed. He is always a tangle of cords, but I'm so glad I can hold him. He and I both do better when we are touching.

When he is in his bed, he has his little monkey friend to keep him company. His monkey likes to wear his hat when it's not in use. The monkey also holds a little sound recorder, that the kids pre-recorded songs and messages to their baby brother. As discovered through all the ultrasounds, Kimble loves to have his right hand up by his mouth. He rarely puts his hand anywhere else.

He is also surrounded in a colorful environment, with this sweet blanket my friend Sara made for him. She made it a small size, specifically for his little NICU bed, and it's just perfect.

Bright and early this morning, Kimble had another chest X-ray. This was my view, from the little foldout bed I was sleeping on. Can you find Kimble? He's totally hidden by machinery.
Heath managed to snap a picture just when Kimble was making an adorable face. So precious!

Heath came up last night and stayed the night. He loves being with his baby. Oh, and he loves seeing me too!
Tomorrow Kimble will undergo a special procedure in the Cath Lab, to essentially pop through his pulmonary valve (which is not currently a valve, but by using a type of balloon, they will pop it open) and hopefully that will get some blood flow into the pulmonary artery, as well as his right ventricle, and from there, we wait and see how his body will react. The doctors are hoping it will stimulate growth in his ventricle, and possibly start having his heart behave like a normal heart. Well, have the possibility to, anyway. So tomorrow will be a big day for us. Your prayers are not only appreciated, but are felt so strongly. Thank you.