Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

2008 wound up being very different from the way we originally thought it would be. I am definitely looking forward to 2009 being a much better year. 2008 started off with Stu being sworn in as chief of the fire department. A few weeks later I had invitro fertilization done and at the end of January we found out that I was pregnant which we were very excited about. We found out we were having twins the day after Valentine's Day and in the beginning of May found out we were having a boy and a girl. Just a week after we found out we were having one of each was probably the worst day of my life. I woke up that morning (a Sunday) and went to Wegmans. I came home, talked to my parents who had just gotten back from their cruise, and then went to make lunch. I went to go to the bathroom before I ate my lunch and my water broke on the girl's sac. We went to the hospital where it was confirmed that my sac had indeed broke and we were told we would most likely lose one or both of the babies. I began bedrest in the hospital and a week later I lost the girl. I stayed in the hospital for another week and after getting a cerclage came home to continue bedrest. I lasted 5 1/2 more weeks on bedrest at home before having to go back to the hospital because I was bleeding. When the doctor did an ultrasound he didn't know if the blood was coming from the girl's placenta or the boy's placenta so we were told that I would most likely have a c-section within 24 hours. 12 hours later I wound up having an emergency c-section and Brandon was born at 26 weeks and 1 day. He spent a long 12 weeks in the NICU and has been home with us since the end of September. He is doing remarkably well. I am very happy that I have him and that he is doing so well but the rest of what happened I could have done without.

Today is Stu's last day as chief. I am so proud of him for doing such a good job this year as chief. It was not an easy year for him to be chief with everything that we went through but he managed to do a great job despite going through everything that we did.

I am looking forward to a new year and continuing to see Brandon grow and develop as well as he has been. I am also looking forward to having Stu be around a lot more now that he is done being chief.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rolling Over

Brandon rolled over again last night. He was happy at first for once when he was on his stomach. He started to roll and got a bit frustrated because he was stuck on his side. He finally got on his back but by then was extremely unhappy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hannukah/ Christmas

My parents and Stu's parents came over yesterday to celebrate our Jewish Christmas/ Hannukah.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Opthamologist and GI Doctor

Yesterday was a very busy day. In the morning Brandon went to Dr. Turtel to have his eyes looked at. He hadn't been in 3 weeks. Dr. Turtel said his eyes are improving but slowly. He doesn't need to see Brandon again for another 8 weeks and then he will probably just do an eye exam rather than pry his eyes open with the metal things that keep them open. He said babies Brandon's age get too big for that without putting them to sleep since they kick, scream, flail their arms, etc.

In the afternoon Brandon went to see Dr. Teitelbaum, the GI doctor. We originally had an appointment scheduled for February but there was a cancellation so he was able to see us yesterday. He increased Brandon's zantac dosage to 2 mL twice a day. He said you can't overdose on zantac and this way Brandon shouldn't outgrow the dose for awhile. He suggested two formulas that may help with the spitting up. I may try one. The carnation good start formula seems to be making Brandon extremely gassy and uncomfortable because of the gas so I want to switch him off of it. It only comes as a powder instead of a ready feed like he was used to. Someone mentioned to me that powder formulas cause more gas because there are more bubbles. Dr. Teitelbaum also told me to add 1 tablespoon of prune juice to each of Brandon's bottles to help with his constipation issues. I tried that yesterday and he really liked the taste of the bottles with the prune juice added.

The picture on here shows Brandon when we got back from our second appointment. He was wiped out.

Brandon finally slept better last night. The last 5 nights have been tough because of his reflux being so bad. He was up a lot throughout the nights but last night he went 5 hours straight and then went back down. He did wake up again briefly because of his reflux and to burp but went right back down again each time.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pulminologist Appointment

Brandon went to Dr. Sembrano today for his next RSV shot. He let out a loud scream and held it out as usual. I feel so bad for him when he gets shots because they really hurt him. He was fine shortly after. Dr. Sembrano said that Brandon is doing really well. He was impressed with how active Brandon is and said that there have been no episodes on his apnea monitor. He is going to continue to be on the apnea monitor at night. Dr. Sembrano said usually around 6 months old he stops the monitor so I am guessing he will stop it at the next appointment in January but we will see. He is also still on his 2 diuretics but the dosase has not been increased since he came home from the hospital. He is weaning himself from them. Dr. Sembrano said when they run out we probably won't refill them this time. Brandon weighed 11 pounds, 12 ounces.

After his appointment we went to the NICU and finally saw Chris, one of Brandon's primary nurses. She hadn't been there the other times that we stopped by. The NICU has tons of picture holiday cards. They are taped all over the window for everyone to see. We sent one in so that was hanging too.

I spoke to Dr. O'Brien, Brandon's pediatrician, earlier. He said it is fine for Brandon to be on a regular formula now that he is over 11 pounds. So we started him on carnation good start tonight like Dr. Hudome suggested at the developmental clinic last week.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rough Night and Pictures From This Week

Brandon had a rough night with his reflux last night. I had brought him to the pediatrician earlier in the week because everytime I would feed him he would start screaming and arching his back. This went on for 4 days. The pediatrician seemed to think it was his reflux getting worse. When she looked at his throat she could see the reflux. She changed his medicine so instead of getting zantac twice a day he was getting prevacid in the morning and an increased dose of zantac at night. I tried this Wednesday and Thursday. Last night Brandon woke up for his bottle at 2:30. I gave him an ounce and went to burp him and he threw up everything that he had drank. I gave him another ounce and the same thing happened. Every time I tried to lie him down after that he would gag but nothing came up. I called the pediatrician on call and he said it sounded like Brandon's reflux since he didn't have any other symptoms of a stomach virus. He said to stop the prevacid and to give him zantac before his first bottle this morning. It seems to really have helped doing that. Brandon has taken his usual 3-4 ounces per bottle every 3 hours today without spitting up more than a wet burp every so often. At 4:30 I finally thought to put Brandon in his bouncy seat to sleep so that he was sitting upright and he was fine until he woke up this morning. I did call a GI doctor. The soonest appointment they could give us was February 11th but we are on the cancellation list so the person that I spoke to seems to think he should get in the week after next week most likely.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Developmental Clinic

Brandon went to the developmental clinic at the hospital this morning for the first time. The developmental clinic is for babies that were born prematurely. They go every 3-4 months usually and can be seen by a physical therapist, speech therapist, neonatologist, and nurse practioner each time they go. Today he saw the nurse practioner, Dr. Hudome (one of the neonatologists when he was in the hospital), and the physical therapist. The physical therapist showed me some stretches that I can do with Brandon for his torticollis (neck stiffness) but overall said he is doing great. She said he is much more alert than your typical 2 month old (the age he should be right now). He weighed 11 pounds, 8 ounces so he gained 2 ounces from his pediatrician appointment last Thursday. It was a different scale he was weighed on so he might have gained a little more if he were to be weighed at the pediatrician. Dr. Hudome said he is looking great. She couldn't believe how big he is now. She mentioned switching his formula to carnation good start. I think we will give it a try.

We saw Alexys, one of the babies that was next to him in the NICU for awhile, and her parents. Her appointment was a half hour after ours. We will see her again when we go back in April since we scheduled our appointments for the same time as each other. After the appointment we all went up to the NICU to say hi. Dr. Alemany was working up there so he got to see Brandon.

Monday, December 15, 2008

He rolled over!

Earlier today I put Brandon on his stomach for some tummy time. Next thing I knew he was on his back. I wasn't sure if it was a one shot thing that accidentally happened so I put him back on his stomach and he rolled onto his back again. After that he would have none of it. He would cry everytime he was put on his stomach but he did roll from his tummy to back twice!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Visit from Santa

Stu's fire department is doing their Santa runs today. Santa stopped by our house first so we could take a quick picture of Brandon with Santa.

First Playdate

Brandon has his first playdate yesterday. It was with Logan. Logan is my friend Becky's baby and was born on December 1st. Brandon is not allowed most children but he is allowed around Logan because Logan is in the same position as him right now with not being exposed to germs from other children. Becky and I grew up together so I am so happy that we both had baby boys at the same time that will be growing up together too. Brandon was awake the whole time we were taking pictures of the two babies but Logan fell asleep as soon as he was placed on the floor. Brandon kept trying to reach for Logan's hood and hand.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

5 Month Pediatrician Appointment

Brandon had his 5 month appointment today at the pediatrician. He now weighs 11 pounds, 6 ounces and is 22 3/4 inches long. He gained 2 pounds since his 4 month appointment. Brandon had 2 shots and had to drink the rotavirus vaccine which he did not like. We saw Dr. Kerensky today for the first time. He said Brandon looks great. He wants me to continue to feed him every 3 hours in the day but he said I can let him sleep as long as he will at night. He also suggested adding barley to his bottles to help with his reflux and constipation since barley is a natural laxative. He said the prune juice that we have been giving Brandon could be making his reflux worse since it is acidic. He said we can continue with the prune juice for now but if I continue to notice his reflux is bad to add karo syrup to his bottles to help with constipation.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2 Months Old Corrected

Brandon is 2 months old corrected which means had he been born on his due date he would be 2 months old today. Developmentally he should be doing things as a 2 month old would be.

Two nights ago he slept 6 hours straight which was so nice. After 4 hours I heard him making some noises but he wasn't crying so I figured I would wait until he started to cry and then take him out to give him his bottle. After 5 hours he started making noises again but still no crying. I also heard him sucking so I think he may have had his fingers in his mouth. That has been his new thing over the last 1 1/2 weeks when he is awake...trying to put his fingers or hand in his mouth. At 6 hours he started making noises again but never did cry. I took him out of his bassinet to feed him since the pediatrician said not to let him go longer than 6 hours. Of course last night he was up the first time after 3 1/2 hours and the second time 4 1/2 hours. He pretty much only gets up once in the middle of the night now. The second bottle usually winds up being between 5-6 am which is early but it is morning.

Friday, December 5, 2008

5 Months Old and Physical Therapy

I had a physical therapist come to our house today to look at Brandon's neck. She agreed with the pediatrician that it is a little stiff and he mostly turns it to the right. She did some stretches with him which he seemed to tolerate well. She also told me to have him sleep in his car seat for the next few weeks. She put receiving blankets on either side so that it forces him to keep his head straight. She will be coming next Friday to work with him again but she seems to think that he should be just fine in a few months.

Brandon is 5 months old today. He is almost 2 months old corrected (will be on December 10th). He is currently drinking between 3-4 ounces every 3 hours during the day. He is still on neosure, a preemie formula. At night he usually goes between 4-5 hours before waking up for a bottle. He is awake more and more during the day. He usually is up for a few hours in the morning and anywhere from 3-6 hours at night. Today he decided he wanted to be up almost the whole day but is finally taking a nap now until he gets his next bottle around 6:15. He really enjoys playing on his playmat and batting at the toys. Overall he is a very easygoing baby. He only cries when he is hungry or if he is overtired but usually stops when he is held. He loves his pacifier and has started to try to put his fingers in his mouth over the last week or so. He is still in 0-3 month clothes and they are fitting him really well now. A few pairs of his pants have actually gotten a little tight so I am guessing he will probably be in 3-6 month clothes in another month or so.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Early Intervention Evaluation

Two people from early intervention came to our house today to evaluate Brandon for early intervention. I had called them after our last pediatrician appointment to see if they would evaluate him after the pediatrician mentioned that Brandon prefers to turn his head to the right and that his neck seemed to be stiff and that he would probably need physical therapy for stretches. A physical therapist and speech therapist came to evaluate him and he did not qualify because he is not delayed. Everything is based on his corrected age (when he should have been born) and right now his corrected age is almost 2 months old (December 10th he would have been 2 months old). He scored between 2-4 months in all areas so he is where he should be and ahead in a few areas for his corrected age. I can choose to have him evaluated again down the road if I notice any delays. In order to be eligible he would have had to have a 33% delay in one area or 25% delay in two areas. He did not have any delays. Here is how he scored in each area:
communication development 3 months
cognitive development 3 months
social/emotional development 2 months
self-help/ adaptive development 2-4 months
gross motor 2 months
fine motor 2 months

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Professional Pictures

Here are some of the professional pictures that we had taken with Brandon.

Just Reflux

I brought Brandon to the pediatrician earlier because he has been spitting up/ throwing up a lot of his bottle every so often. I assumed it was reflux but I wasn't positive so I wanted to make sure. We saw Dr. Lichtenberger who confirmed that it is indeed his reflux that is causing him to throw up some of his bottles. She increased his zantac dosage since he has grown again. He is now 10 pounds, 10 ounces! I can't believe how big he is getting.

Good News from the retina specialist yesterday

Brandon had an eye appointment in Cherry Hill yesterday with Dr. McNamara, the retina specialist. He was a little surprised that Dr. Turtel had sent us back to him. He looked at Brandon's eyes and said that it is actually looking a little better. He also said that he has never seen a baby that is Brandon's age need the laser surgery at this point. Babies by this age have already had the surgery because their eyes are bad enough that they need it. He said it just takes some babies longer for their eyes to get better than others and that they might not ever get all the way better but as long as the retina does not detach it is not a problem and it is not looking like the retina will detach. If it does he would be blind. Dr. McNamara said we can go back to Dr. Turtel and that we can wait 2-3 weeks before we go back to him.

I am bringing Brandon to the pediatrician in a little while. His reflux has been pretty bad. He cries horribly when he is burped sometimes and he has been spitting up a lot more lately...sometimes even projectile spit up which I have gotten quite used to wearing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Here are some pictures of one of the people that I am the most thankful for. Brandon had a very rough start to his life but he is doing so well now. I am thankful every day for the miracle that he is and for how fantastic he is doing. I am also thankful for our wonderful friends and family who helped to get us through such a difficult time in our lives. We would not have been able to do it without you. I hope everybody has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Opthamologist appointment

Brandon had an opthamologist appointment this morning with Dr. Turtel. He said his eyes are pretty much the same as last week and that the raised area may be a little longer than it was before. He wants us to go back to Dr. McNamara in Cherry Hill next week since he is a retina specialist and see what he thinks. He still does not have plus disease which is what they do the laser surgery with but if Brandon's eyes do not start to get better laser surgery may be something that they want to do. Right now they are not a problem but we do not want the retina to start to detach from the eye. It could just be that Brandon needs to continue to be monitored weekly. We are going to Dr. McNamara next Tuesday so we will see after that if we need to continue to go to him a few times or if he is comfortable with us going back to Dr. Turtel. Dr. Turtel looked to see if Brandon is near sighted or far sighted and he is far sighted right now which he said is good. A lot of preemies who have or had ROP are near sighted so it is good that he is far sighted for now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nap In Crib

Brandon had his first nap in his crib today. He still sleeps in a bassinet in our room at night and in the day naps in either his pack n play, swing, or bouncy seat. I decided I am going to start having him nap in his crib to get him used to it. He only slept for a half hour but it was a start.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Up All Day

Brandon has decided that he would rather be awake during the day then sleep. Yesterday he was awake for about 9 hours except for two 20 minute cat naps. He has been up all morning today too and finally fell asleep about 20 minutes ago after being awake for 5-6 hours except for a few cat naps. Here are some pictures that I took of Brandon this week. One of Stu's co-workers who does photography on the side came to our house on Thursday to take pictures of Brandon. I can't wait to see the pictures.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pulminologist Appointment

Brandon went to the pulminologist today for his third RSV shot. As usual he did not like it and held his breath when he let out his loud scream after getting the shot. He was fine once I picked him up. Brandon weighs 9 pounds, 14 ounces now. His lungs sound good and his oxygen sats were 100% when they hooked him up to the machine to see how he is doing. We went to the NICU to visit after his appointment since we were at the hospital. Dr. Sembrano, the pulminologist, said that Brandon only needs to be on the apnea monitor at night now since I am with him in the day.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Opthamologist and Pictures

Brandon went to Dr. Turtel this morning to have his eyes checked. Dr. Turtel said that Brandon's eyes have not gotten any worse since he last saw him. He said maybe they got a tiny bit better. He wants to see him again next week and then he feels he will probably be able to see him every 2 weeks until his eyes improve more and then he can go less frequently. The affected area is on the right eye and is not that big of an area. Dr. Turtel said if you look at a clock face it is the size of the distance from one number to the next. I asked Dr. Turtel what kind of problems Brandon might have when he is older and he said that babies that have had ROP are often near sighted (a different kind of near sightedness than we would experience) and/or have a lazy eye. Both are correctable. The near sightedness with glasses and the lazy eye with an eye patch.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Brandon and his Cabbage Patch Kid Preemie

Cabbage Patch Kid Preemies are being sold right now at Target because it is the 25th anniversary of Cabbage Patch Kids. As soon as I heard that I decided that Brandon needed one since he was a preemie too. My mom bought one for him since I had a hard time finding one at the Target near me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pediatrician Appointment

Brandon had his 4 month pediatrician appointment this morning. He weighs 9 pounds, 6 ounces and is 20 1/2 inches long. Dr. O'Brien said his lungs sound good and clear and he is happy with how he is doing. On the preemie growth chart he is between the 25th and 50th percentile for both his weight and length. That is a big difference at where he was when he came home from the NICU. Then he was only between the 5th and 10the percentile on the preemie growth chart. Brandon is almost big enough to be on the non-preemie growth chart. He just missed it for his weight and length. Dr. O'Brien pushed on Brandon's umbilical hernia and said it should definitely close on its own eventually. He said it is a very small opening that is causing the hernia. The only problem seems to be that Brandon prefers to have his head facing the right. It is causing some stiffness in his neck so I need to try to turn his head to the left more often. He said Brandon could wind up needing a physical therapist to come and do some stretches. I asked if I should contact early intevention about this and he said it couldn't hurt. So I will give them a call in the next day or two. Brandon had three shots today. He was not too happy about it. Each time he got a shot he let out a loud cry and held it out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eye Exam and Abdominal Ultrasound

Brandon had a busy day. This morning we went to Dr. McNamara in Cherry Hill to see how Brandon's eyes were. Dr. McNamara said they have improved slightly from last week so he believes they will most likely continue to improve. He wants us to see Dr. Turtel on Monday next week because if Dr. Turtel feels they got worse then we can go back to see him in Cherry Hill on Tuesday.

This afternoon Brandon had his abdominal ultrasound at Monmouth Medical Center. This was to look at his umbilical hernia. His bowels are pushing into his hernia but there is good blood flow to it and it is not incarcerated or strangulated so it should be ok for now without surgery. We will have to keep a close eye on it and make sure it doesn't get hard or that Brandon does not start throwing up. Then he will need to have surgery immediately. If he does wind up needing surgery it is a pretty easy procedure. Brandon has his 4 month appointment on Thursday with Dr. O'Brien so I will talk to him then about the results from the ultrasound today and see what he says. It was actually quite annoying going to get the ultrasound. We got to the hospital and they told us we had to go sign in to the right of the escalator. When we went there they told us we had to go sign in at radiology. We went to radiology and she said we had to sign in where we originally were. We went there to sign in and nobody was there. Someone finally came back and signed us in but it took awhile and Brandon was starving by this point because they said he had to fast for 4 hours prior to the ultrasound so he was screaming.

After his ultrasound we went to the NICU to say hi. It was nice seeing the nurses there but none of his primary nurses were there. The nurses that were there could not get over how big Brandon has gotten.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Steelers Outfit

Brandon wore his new Steelers outfit for yesterday's game. Unfortunately the Steelers lost their game.