Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Since February is I Love to Read Month,  I thought it would be fun to do a top ten on why it is important to read to your baby (children)!  Plus Ella's Halo donated 785 books this month to area NICUs in the month of February from our Babies and Book book drive.  Here are a couple of reasons we found were important to us during our NICU stay.

1.  Reading to your baby in the NICU helps you to bond. It is often difficult to find the right ways to bond with your baby but reading to them is something so simple to help create the child/parent bond.  This bonding is so important for you and also to help your little preemie continue to grow while in the NICU.

2.  Reading can calm your baby, especially when they are fretful and restless.  Hearing your voice and listening to your heartbeat is comforting and soothing to your baby.  NICU life can be stressful so hearing their parents voice while reading brings your little preemie a sense of calmness.

3.  Form a habit of reading to baby at the same time each day, or at least several times a week. Choose a time when you are both relaxed and not rushed.  This habit will move with you once you are out of the NICU and into your lives at home as your child grows.

4.  Reading to your baby can help pass the time. Many parents spend long hours in the NICU by their child's bedside.  Pass the time by reading to your baby!

5.  By reading early on to your child, you could be helping to develop their communication skills and learning skills. Not only are you reading but you could be teaching them skills to help them as they grow.

6.  The NICU exposes preterm babies to high levels of noise, while fetus in utero only have the stimulation of their mother's voice.   However, these little preemies are in isolettes and don't get to hear the smoothing voice of their mother unless it is directed into the tiny hole of the isolette. What better way to give your little baby the comforts of home then sitting next to them, softly reading a book to drown out the other NICU noises.

7. Reading is the best way to develop language skills. The baby absorbs the rhythm of your speech and learns to perceive individual sounds in the stream of words. The way you read a story is teaching your baby about language.

8.  Dad can get involved too.  Babies know their daddy's voices much like their mommy's so have dad join in on the action and grab his favorite book to read! 

9.  Ella's Halo donated 785 books to area NICUs.  Now there is no reason not to find your favorite children's book while in the NICU and go read to your baby!

10.  And last but not least, you are creating memories with your baby. Reading books to your child helps to create lasting positive memories of your time in the NICU.  And can even continue to create memories as your child grows up.
Thank you to everyone who donated to our Babies and Book book drive this past holiday season.  These are such fun items to donate to the NICU because we know they will be used right away by families and enjoyed!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Even though I never got to celebrate a Valentine's Day with you.............

Pinned Image

you will always be our little valentine. 

Wishing all of the little sweethearts who are spending Valentine's Day in hospital NICUs, much love today.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Feature Family

At the beginning of each month Ella's Halo will have a NICU family tell their story about life in the NICU with their baby. Our hope is that by featuring different families others will have a better understanding of the difficult, roller-coaster ride many face when their baby is in the NICU. Ella's Halo created the Feature Family series, if you are interested in sharing your story, please email us at info@ellashalo.com to share your NICU story and to be a future Feature Family.

We know Tina from back when we were in high school.  Coming from a small town, it broke our hearts hearing about a family we knew so many years ago was just starting their NICU journey.  It breaks my heart any time I hear about a baby entering the NICU, but even more so when we know the moms and dads and the journey they are about to embark on.  Here is their story.

Kaislyn Toni Drewes
Written by Tina Drewes
Former NICU Mommy

Things started to change at 25 weeks. I noticed swelling in my legs and just thought it was from being pregnant, and that I was retaining water until someone said I should go in. I went in to the doctor at 26 weeks and they noticed elevated blood pressure and protein, so I was asked to check in to the ob floor for monitoring two days later for just a few hours. However, a few hours turned into 3 days. After checking in, my blood pressure was 140/100. They thought it was from getting settled in, but it kept rising. They started pumping in blood pressure meds to lower it, but it got as high as 170/110. I was given a steroid shot in case of early delivery.

After three days I was able to go home on very strict bed rest! I made it two more weeks, to 28 weeks, and then had another doctor’s appointment. After looking at an ultrasound and checking my protein levels, I was told I needed to head to Fargo in case we had to deliver!

We checked in on a weekend and were told the baby would be delivered on Thursday. After they did some research, they determined we were able to hang out for a while and see how things would go. I was given a second dose of steroids and was put on magnesium sulfate (worst drug in the world). I was told that I was at a serious risk of having seizures or even stroking out due to how high my blood pressure was (which I felt fine the whole time).

They were monitoring me very closely, and I could not get out of bed for anything! I could sit up for only a little while, but needed to lie as low key as possible! The magnesium made me very sick, retain tons of water, and very weak – it’s a muscle relaxer that also helps with preterm labor. Each day we were told we may be having the baby or we may hang out but whatever is best for baby is the path we would take!! So 3 days after checking into Fargo, I knew at 3am we were going to be having a baby sometime within the day! They noticed on the ultrasound that the baby wasn't growing much since my blood pressure had spiked. I was told a C-section was our only option, but I wouldn’t need to be put completely out, and Darin could be there with me. Only to find out I was going to be completely put under, and Darin could not be with me! From the minute I left Darin, they had our baby girl to him in 12 minutes for a quick picture and off to the NICU. I had to go down a floor for recovery. I was finally able to be pushed back into our room later that afternoon and finally got to see our baby (besides pictures) at 10:30 p.m., when I actually had the strength to get out of bed to go to the NICU – and she was born at 1:42pm!

Kaislyn Toni Drewes was born on January 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm. She was 1 lbs 15 oz and 13.5 inches long.  I was finally able to get out of the hospital the following Thursday, because my blood pressure finally came down. Kaislyn was on a vent for almost 1 month and was in the NICU for 128 days – 4.5 months!

She struggled with sucking, swallowing and breathing, so she ended up getting a feeding tube put in due to her not finishing all her feeds. A week after surgery we were home free, with no monitors or anything other than a button in her belly for feeding (what she didn't take from the bottle), and a list of doctor appointments.

She also had a few issues with her heart. PDA open, ASD, and VSD, so we get to see a cardiologist for many years, and pray she will never need surgery! This month she will be 1 (9 months corrected age). Hard to believe, and wonder where the year went!

She is doing great, but is still very small (born at 1 lbs 15oz). In December she was 11 lbs 6 oz! Her feeding tube was removed in August and she is doing great! Right on track and continuing to go to follow up appointments, and to her cardiologist. 

Thanks for reading our little miracle’s story.