Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Since Callum was born I've been craving a bit of normalcy. I've been craving our day-to-day crazy life that I love. Playing with our girls. Racing around in the morning to get everyone dressed, hair done and ready to tackle our day, but since Callum was born, our life has been anything but "normal" - of course, when a change like the arrival of a new baby occurs, there is a "new normal", but the life we were living in the days after Callum's birth was anything but normal.

We were in survival mode and thankfully we had amazing family and friends who were on standby 24/7 to help us out at any time. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have been able to spend as much time as we needed to with Callum. It was a huge relief to be able to call someone and have them there for us whenever we needed...It was one less thing we had to worry about, so thank you to all who were there for us.

Now that Callum has been home for just over a week we have been trying to get back into a "normal" routine. The first week was filled with Kevin and I trying to overcome what we had just gone through. The whole experience was pretty traumatic and when Callum came home, it was like we hit a wall and we were left saying "Whoa.....what the......" We were tired. Mentally exhausted really. Even though we were getting plenty of sleep, it still didn't feel like it was enough. I was stressed because I wanted to make sure Callum was thriving at home. Was he gaining weight? Doing everything he should? I felt as though he was - you know, plenty of wet diapers, lots of poop and a content baby. But was it enough? It appeared that he really stepped up his nursing - more demanding and figuring out that the "milk bar" is open all night long.

On Wednesday, we had a visiting nurse come to assess Callum. The nurse examined him and was surprised at how well he appeared. She read through his history and couldn't believe Callum looked so healthy and came home so soon after he was extubated. Then, the moment of truth came - his weight. One week before he weighed 6lbs (down from 6lbs1oz at discharge), and today he was...............6lbs9oz!!! A 9oz weight gain in ONE week!!! I was so proud and I felt an immediate weight lifted off of my chest. He was doing as well as I thought he was and it felt so good to have affirmation of that. Our little boy was thriving and growing - doing everything he should be. His respiratory rate still fluctuates from above normal to normal, but that is to be expected for a while, so we will still monitor that, but for now, Callum is progressing perfectly. We still worry about him developmentally, but that is something we will always worry about, and unfortunately, we won't have any answers until he grows and develops.

The girls have also settled down. The first few days after we came home was a bit of an adjustment, but the last few days have been better. They seem to be back to their happy-go-lucky selves and that makes things much easier. The weather has also been better, too. We've been able to get outside more and just have fun with the girls. Mairead has been working hard at riding her bike without her training wheels and I'd have to say she is doing awesome! The girls are bouncing fools in their bounce house and Clara is really enjoying it this year!

I am glad things are finally starting to settle for us and I can feel the stress lessen. Callum continues to progress and the girls continue to love, hug and smother their little brother. Kevin and I are starting to relax a bit and just enjoy our four beautiful kids...

Sunday, April 24, 2011


This Easter was pretty special...we knew we would most likely have a baby boy with us by Easter, but we didn't realize that our baby boy was going to be so very sick with a small chance he would be healthy enough to come home by Easter. Most everyone knows Callum's story, and knows he made it home almost an entire week before Easter Sunday. Such a strong little boy!!!

On Saturday, we decorated eggs together. The big girls had a lot of fun and Clara wasn't quite sure what to do. We gave her an egg and she tried to eat it, throw it, play with it and pretty much everything besides actually decorating it! Mairead remembered how to do it from last year, and this year was Lilah's first year where she really "got it" - it was a lot of fun! They were so excited!

On Easter morning, the girls woke up so excited to see if the Easter Bunny came - oh, and very excited to be allowed to eat a piece of chocolate before breakfast! Before we knew it, all three girls were stuffing their faces full of chocolate. They wasted no time at all!

They dug through their Easter baskets and goodies the Easter Bunny left them - piggy banks, sunglasses, beach toys, candy and a few other fun things for them!

Once Easter morning settled, we had breakfast and got ready to head to my parents for a quiet Easter celebration. We did an Easter egg hunt at my parents house and the girls had a blast! Thankfully, the weather was absolutely beautiful and perfect for an Easter celebration (though not quite as perfect as last years weather!). We had a yummy dinner and enjoyed being together.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Boy and his mamma(s)

It's no joke. Callum has a lot of mamma(s). Four to be exact.

With every diaper change. With every nursing session. With every bath. They are there. Helping. Hovering. Touching. Loving. Kissing. Caressing. Even smothering.

The girls sure do love their new brother. It's like having three little helpers at my beck and call. Even Clara is there to help!

The first few days home with Callum were a bit.....crazy. It was 12 days of anticipation - waiting for their itty bitty baby brother to come home - and there he was! Thankfully the "newness" of Callum has worn off a bit, though, they are all still very eager to help out. I swear the girls have a "nursing radar" on them - as soon as I start nursing Callum, this is what happens...

Clara loves to sit and read with me while I nurse Callum. She will touch his head and talk to him. It's the cutest. Her love for him is just so innocent and sweet. The big girls are really great, too - they are true helpers and are so into learning about how to care for babies.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A bad dream...

As I sit here on the couch laying skin to skin with our sweet Callum, I found myself reading about what we have gone through since Callums birth. It still seems surreal to me, finding it hard to believe our little boy was that child laying there critically ill, with all of those tubes, wires and machines - it feels like it was just a bad dream. What an emotional roller coaster we were on and at the time, it felt like it was never going to end. Since he's been home, I find myself not wanting to put him down, just wanting to hold him close to me - all the time. The feeling of his warm body against mine is unexplainable. I feel like I owe him as much time as he wants to be loved and cuddled.

Today as I was out with Callum and Mairead some people asked how old Callum was and honestly, I had to stop and think - 12 days? did that happen? For me, it seems like he is only a few days old, like his true "birth" day was last Thursday night when he was extubated and we were able to hold, love, kiss and nurse our sweet baby boy. Since then, we've been together - he's nursed, cuddled and taken care of by his mommy and daddy.

Now that Callum has been home for a few days now, I try not to think about last week, but it is hard. Kevin and I have been trying to "unwind" from everything we went through last week. It has been full of ups and downs - we are tired and it has nothing to do with having a newborn. I was like a machine last week and now everything is hitting me. I never had time to recover from giving birth, it was never about me, it was all about Callum and making sure our sweet girls had someone with them at all times. Now, we are all home as a family together, and it has been an adjustment. Not only are the girls beside themselves about having their baby brother home with them, but I am home, too. I can only imagine how confused they were about mommy and daddy not being home so much, or having daddy caring for them while mommy was gone. It was tough on them, but I am so proud of how well they handled all the changes that occurred in the last 12 days. Today was better than yesterday, and I hope tomorrow is better than today.

Callum is doing absolutely great. My milk supply has finally evened out and he hasn't puked at all since he got home! He is nursing like a champ, peeing and pooping perfectly. He had a check up with the pediatrician today and she was shocked at how great he has been doing at home. He is starting to eat more and more, and I hope his "calm demeanor" continues! He slept two four hour stretches last night, and I can only pray that continues! The girls are in absolute love with their little brother and are always concerned when he cries - he is going to be one lucky boy with four mammas looking after him!

I can't explain how lucky I feel to have Callum home with us and doing so well. He is an amazingly strong little boy and we are so lucky to have him with us.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Home Sweet Home...

From this:

To this just 10 days later...

This morning I woke up with knots in my stomach. Would today be the day or would Callum have to wait another day to come home? When I called the nurse in this morning around 2am to weigh Callum, I was nervous - please just let him not lose weight. When the nurse told me he had lost another 3 ounces I figured Callums chances of coming home were slim, especially since I thought he looked more jaundice. How did he lose another three ounces I thought? He had been eating well with lots of pee and poops. I started to doubt myself and how well Callum was nursing.
I can open my eyes now! They aren't swollen shut...
The thought of spending yet another night away from Kevin and the girls just broke my heart. How do people do this for months on end with their sick children? It is so difficult and I hate the feeling of being torn between home and with Callum. I waited impatiently for Callums neonatologist to come in and speak with us about the potential of him going home. It was the same doctor who cared for Callum on Saturday when he was critically ill. He said Callum could go home on one condition: if his bilirubin levels went up, he'd have to stay. He wasn't really concerned with Callums weight loss as they think it is just his body stabilizing after everything he went through. Callum had been nursing much better and with a lot less vomiting. The doc told me that he couldn't believe he was even sending this child home already - stating he was a week ahead of schedule!

Not too long after the doc left our room I waited. And waited. And waited for the bilirubin results. Finally the nurse came in to give me the news......................they went down! It took almost everything I had not to scream in excitement. I picked our sweet boy up and kissed him. Tears filled my eyes. I couldn't believe the time has come to finally bring our little prince home. Ten days filled with so many emotions. I looked at our sweetheart and couldn't believe that sweet baby had gone through so much yet looked so beautiful and perfect. I called Kevin to tell him the amazing news. He yelled in excitement, so loud, the nurse heard him.

Kevin and the girls came to pick us up. The girls were beside themselves in excitement. Kevin and I looked at each other and thought "holy shit. four kids. we are insane!" And, we are. The girls couldn't get enough of their little brother.
The girls excited to bring their brother home!!! 
So far, Callum has been doing great! He has been nursing really well. Pooping a ton. And no pukes! He's such a calm baby and I hope it continues. The docs told us that he will probably be very mellow for a while as he continues to recover from everything he has gone through. We gave him a bath and the girls watched with excitement.

I think Kevin and I have hit a wall. It will definitely take a few days to recover emotionally and physically with what we have gone through. I can't wait to take time with the girls and just enjoy everyone being together again. It's been 12+ days since we've had any sort of normalcy to our life and I'm ready...I haven't been anywhere else besides the hospital and our home. I've rushed the girls and haven't been able to spend as much time with them and it hurt so bad. I'm so glad it is over...

Thank you to all who have prayed for Callum. Helped our family. We cannot thank you all enough.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is it today, Mamma?

I just got off the phone with Mairead. What a love that girl has for her baby brother. She is so concerned about him and wants to know how he is doing and if he is nursing well. It breaks my heart when she asks about him coming home. I wish I could say ******* and have it happen, but I can't. She wants to be with him just as much as I want to be home with the girls.

Last night I spent the night with the intention of bringing Callum home today. I tried not to get my hopes up because I knew it may not happen, but it's hard not to be excited. When the nurse weighed him after midnight and she said he had lost weight, I knew Callum would not be going home with us. I was disappointed, but I knew it was for the best. I don't want to have to bring Callum back to the hospital. I want to make sure when we bring him home, that he stays home. Not to mention, Mairead and Clara have a little runny nose and a dry cough, definitely something Callum can't catch. I know what a germophobe I am going to be after, don't look at me crazy if I seem that way - this whole experience will definitely leave me a bit scarred!

Lucky for me and not-so-lucky for Callum, my milk supply is insanely ginormous. The "girls" just scream "I'm loaded with milk" - seriously, I have achieved "porn star status" and poor Callum is getting flooded. Since I've had three near-term babies I've learned how to deal with my oversupply, overactive letdown and babies who do not like it. Each one of our girls has been different with the way I have managed it, and today, I am learning how to manage Callums needs and since he is behind the 8-ball, it's a bit more tricky. We believe his weight loss is due to two things: his body is trying to stabilize from everything he has gone through, meaning, his body is getting rid of all the extra fluids he held onto during his sickness (today is the first day he can open his eyes fully) and that he tends to puke of almost his entire feeding when he gets flooded or nurses too fast. He has done a lot better today with his feedings, has increased his pee and has normal breastfeeding poops now. I've been nursing him while laying down and this has been helping a lot. The doctor says unless he has a major weight loss he will be able to go home and be managed there with maybe a visiting nurse for weight checks. I pray that tomorrow will indeed be the day. I am glad they are being cautious with him.

I know our girls have been struggling and so have I. Since Callum has needed me to eat every 2-3 hours, I've had to stay at the hospital more in the last few days than I have all week. The girls miss me and I miss them so very much. When I talked with Mairead on the phone earlier she couldn't stop asking when Callum was coming home. Not only has this week been hard on me and Kevin, it has been extremely hard on the girls. I can't wait to get home and be with our girls. Be a family again. I hate rushing home and rushing back. I just want to be with them. And Callum. All together. One big crazy family.

Callum's homecoming is so close I can taste it, which makes it all the more difficult. I know it was for the best for Callum to stay another night, but it still sucks!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What a week can do...

Just before they extubated him on Thursday
I think back to what I was doing at this time last Saturday and I am just blown away. Our sweet little Callum was in critical condition and the doctors were doing everything they could to save our little boy. My eyes were swollen from crying. I had been up for 42 hours. We were a mess. We were in disbelief watching our sweet boy go through so much. But now, I sit here with Callum in the very same room and things are so different. He has come a long way. A very long way and I can't express how thankful Kevin and I are to have the people we do in our life who have all come together to help Callum, our girls, our family.
Breathing tube OUT! 
So much has changed since Wednesday when I blogged last. I've wanted to update but, honestly, things have been busy, and now my "free" time isn't spent staring at my little boy hooked up to a ventilator, it is spent holding. loving. kissing. nursing my sweet little boy. Looking at him in awe of just how far he has come in just one week.
Holding Callum for the first time since birth

Daddy lovin' on his little boy

Sweet little Callum
On Thursday they were able to extubate (remove breathing tube) and he did wonderfully. They put some low flow oxygen on via a nasal cannula just to make sure he kept his sats up. The nurse removed his arterial line in his belly button, and then I left. When Kevin and I returned later that evening, there was our sweet boy breathing all on his own, looking absolutely beautiful. The first thing I asked was to hold him. I got my wish. I was in heaven. When the nurse told me I could put him to breast I couldn't believe it - really? I asked...I thought it would be a few days until I would be able to do that. I didn't waste any time and put him right to my breast. He sucked away, but I didn't let him get too carried away. It was one of the most special moments ever. Kevin and I just stared at him in amazement. He was perfect. Kevin got his turn to hold his sweet boy. The moment we had both been longing for since the day he was born. It was so hard to put him back in his warmer and leave for the night. I just wanted hold him so tight and not let him go. Ever.

Yesterday morning I rushed back like a little child excited for Christmas. There he was on no oxygen looking perfectly. I was able to nurse him. I nursed him four times yesterday and each time he did better and better. The docs and nurses are in absolute amazement with Callum. The doctor said that his progress has been amazing and has recovered faster than any child with Pulmonary Hypertension he has seen. He said he is amazing, and I would have to agree. Every time a nurse hears Callums story, they are in disbelief. He is a fighter.

So, here I am, one week here in the NICU and it has been a week of tears. joy. guilt. relief. a little laughter. pain. and growth. Kevin and I have grown as a couple and our little (okay, big) family has learned there are a whole lot of people who love us and will drop anything to do whatever we needed. Honestly, we can't thank them enough. They have made our week more bearable knowing our sweet girls were cared for, and us thought of from near and afar. While we may not have called you back, your notes, voicemails, etc have not gone unnoticed.

Tonight I will be spending the night with Callum here in the hospital in preparation for him to go home very soon! He has done a great job nursing with me today, and officially has no tubes! He's had his first bath, too! He looks like a normal baby, and I pray this is just a larger-than-normal bump in the road and Callum grows into a very healthy, normal little boy - of course, Kevin and I wonder if there will be any lasting effects from what he has gone through this past week, but, for now, we are just thankful we have Callum with us and doing well.

Kevin and I are so anxious to get Callum home so we can be together again as a family. I cannot express how difficult it has been for me to be away from our girls so much. I feel like the "working mom" - I don't get to put our girls to bed every single night, and I feel guilty when they ask me why I have to leave again. They are used to me being there every day. every night. And I miss them. I hope they understand why, and I know Mairead does (to a point), but it doesn't make it any easier. I know Kevin has grown as a daddy spending lots of time with his sweet girls, and I know they have grown closer to him, too. I can't wait for this wild roller coaster ride to be over and for us to be together.