Tag Archive | Preemie

My Struggle With PTSD

There has been many articles recently about mental health for parents and family members that have experienced NICU life, and all the bumps, drop, loop de loops that roller coaster has in store for everyone incolved. I would like to share my battle with PTSD post NICU, 3 and half years later.

My son was born 16 weeks early, and I was a worrier before this, but this experience has amplified my paranoia about anything and everything that was not in my control. My little Spud was born at 24 weeks and 2 days gestation, 11 inches 1 pound 12 oz, and loud. He annouced his presence with a meek but powerful squeak, almost like a newborn kitten, I learned later that it was rare for little ones that early to have a powerful entrance, so much so that the nurses held him unsure of what to do for a moment or two. 

Now, this part is mainly to explain where I came from to have you understand where I am now. We were in the NICU for 157 days total and 33 days in a childrens hospital, with 2 attempts at coming home before the third one stuck. We were sent home the first time just before his due date, and his Respiratory therapist came tonthe house the following morning and as she hooked him up to the pulse ox monitor he stopped breathing, turned grey and she preformed CPR on him while i was on the phone with 911 amd rounded up cats. She got him breathing and crying and back to the NICU we went, they kept us for 4 days, ran tests and came up with nothing, so they wrote it off as a one off situation and sent us home. As I drove him home I make sure he was mad and would cry the whole 15 minute drive home. You might see that as cruel, I saw that as a way to keep calm. That was the beginning of my spiral down, we got home. My husband and I gave our son his first bath at home, I swaddled him up, put a bum on him and fed him. I handed him to my husband to burp while I went to clean the bottles. Two minutes later my husband is yelling, I run and spring into action, I start CPR, got my husband to wrangle cats and call 911. I got him to burp, fart and whine but no gasp or full cry. The paramedics, who were the same group that were at our house 4 days prior, lifted me off my child and into the hall to start CPR with machines and oxygen masks. 

We were admitted for 34 days in the NICU and 33 in the children’s Hospital after this incident. I refused social work while in the NICU and hospital with my son. I did not want to focus on me, I wanted my son to come home and stay home and stay alive this time. I spent hours writing everything down, filling my sons medical binder with everything and anything. He was my focus 110%.

The third time he came home on oxygen, on a tank I had to bring around with me, so I became a hermit and only left if I had a helper, or to the doctors office alone. He was home before Christmas, and off oxygen by March, my husbands birthday, and I went to a happy routine with him until June. I had to put my son in daycare for 2 hours a day while I worked nights, and my husband worked days. 

Thats when my husband and family started noticing a slight problem, at work I would be overcome with a sence of panic and call my husband repeatedly until he would answer anc check on Spud, make sure he was breathing, make him put the phone up to his mouth so I could hear it. It wasn’t just once and a while, it was 1 to 3 times a night 5 nights in a row. My family doctor put my ativan while at work, but to use as needed, he also put me in touch with a family councillor who was the first person to tell me I may have NICU PTSD and put me in touch with a psychologist. 

I saw her once a week, we worked on talking and medications therapies that helped calm me down. This was from July till October, I was down to once a month visits. The end of October I found out we were pregnant with baby number 2. And I had to stop my medications, and up my therapy visits to try and remain normal. But in January, I lost my job and my coverage for therapy and my husbands coverage couldn’t cover it anymore. I panicked for most of my pregnancy, I had a full meltdown at 22 weeks and again at 24 weeks. I had it in my brain that something was going to go worng. I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy with my daughter, I didn’t feel the joy of finding out it was a girl, I didn’t feel happy shopping for clothes because it felt like something was going to go wrong. But nothing did, Princess Tally came into the world 6 days overdue at 8 lbs 14oz 22 inches long via c section because she had a big head like her dad. 

I didn’t enjoy my 4 day hospital stay, I refused to put her down, I made nurses watch her while I went to the bathroom if family wasn’t there. They made me meet with a social worker to help me get back on medications, which ment I could not breast feed. I had to do it, I had to make this sacrifice for my daughter, so I would have all my mental faculties for her, Spud and my husband. 

I manage my PTSD with medications to this day, and I still have good days and bad days where I pop an Ativan to get through the day, I struggle daily with it, there are nights I wake up 4 to 6 times a night and check both kids, I do not work. I stay at home and try to find some normalcy for my family, for me, I start back to counseling in 3 weeks. Its a battle, but I am willing to fight this, because I have something worth fighting for. 

– Ashton <3

Reluctant Stay At Home Mom…

I have been a stay at home mom going on 2 years, don’t get me wrong I love it and everything these two have brought to my live.

But I have been working since I was 14, baby sitting and I was a summer nanny to 2 kids one summer. Then at 16/17 I started cleaning wellsite trailer for my uncles leasing and fabrication company, that moved me into customer service at movie rental places, gas stations and a grocery store! I worked all through high school, did bad things and even got myself fired from a job back then. At 21 I started working as my moms assistant doing HR and payroll and rolled out to helping accounts payable, accounts receivable, and the accountant department. I learned I have a knack for certain things, and I took that knack to a 3 day course to become a book keeper. And then at 23 I started at my last job and was there for almost 5 years, and I loved it so so much. But many factors came into play and here I am at home with 2 little toddlers, and a list of things to do that I cant seem to motivate myself to do.

I do dishes, I cook, I tidy and I make sure the kids are bathed with clean clothes always, but my house has gathered clutter and I look at it and say it needs to be delt with but never really get to it.

I am a part time single mom, my husband is home 1 week a month and the routine is just out the window during that one week. I am ok with it, but now as I don’t have a real house cleaning routine, and no real motivation to gut my house it takes me a week after he leaves to get everything back in a functioning order.

I love being the one who gets to bond with my kids and see them grow into little amazing people. I have thought about going back to work on more than one occasion, but it’s not possible to do. Day care averages for my childre , $850 a month for my daughter, and $850 a month for my son, and my son is only part time Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays because he is in school 4 hours a day, and I cannot work Wednesdays because those are important meetings, trips, and many other things that are school related with my son. As you may remember from many many posts about this, Spud is delayed due to his prematurity, so keeping in constant communications with his school is key, and I am a hands on mom when it comes to that, I would rather hear it from the horses mouth than second hand. I have played way to many games of Telephone as a child to know that this would not end well. 

You might be thinking, how are trips useful, well they teach skills, and are fun for the little kids, weren’t field trips fun for you in school? But, with all these dilemmas the one thing that hurts is due to the fact that life costs money and I cannot make any, my husband is working camp jobs and losing time with his kids, seeing them grow up through pictires and videos. If I could I would change places with him, but I can’t, my skills are set to start at $18.00 an hour and cap around $25.00 an hour, where as my husbands start at $22.00 and hour and can cap at $45.00 or better. We are just starting his career here, so we are still on the low end when it comes to supporting a family of 4 and a Bijoux, so I am the reluctant stay at home mom. 
I love it…. But I also hate it….. 
-Ashton <3

Where Have I Been

Well, my husband started a new job, we went on a small family vacation, starting a new hobby in hopes of creating something, and I have been just getting used to the rhythm of having 2 toddlers!

 

Let’s start with the family vacation, we rented a car packed up the kids and went to Drumheller. We made a pit stop in Red Deer to show the kids the awesomeness that is the Donut Mill. Now anyone who lives in Alberta should know about the Donut Mill, you go from Edmonton to Southern Alberta you must make a pit stop at the Donut Mill on Gasoline Alley.

Spud discovered the magical wall of Donuts. He picked an awesome Triple Chocolate Donut.

 First Bite of Magic.

 Princess Tally enjoying a donut and a mommy selfie!

 

We got to Drumheller at about noon so we decided to go right to the Royal Tyrell Museum, since we could not check into the hotel till 3pm!

 

 Waiting for daddy to come and join us! As you can tell Spud is less than impressed to go from a car for 2.5 hours to a stroller.

 The magical Bubble wall! They have a walk through from the beginning of time until now, and it all starts with the Bubble wall.

 The Blue Bubbles are from 2015 when my husband and I took Spud to Drumheller the first time, and the pink Bubbles is Princess Tally at the same age now, the colors were purely coincidental, and my mom pointed it out when I sent her a few pictures.

 

 This isn’t the best picture I  took but this is one my husband wants to take every time we go with the kids. See where our kids measure up against a triceratops. I cant believe how big my little spud is getting.

 

The next day we went to the Hoodoos were we could let Spud walk around and enjoy everything that was to see there. A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney or earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Drumheller is in the badlands of Alberta, and we had a blast, he kept pointing and saying “Look! Look! Whats that? Ooooh!” He was so much fun to watch.

    

Then we drove home, and honestly for the amount of driving we did in 2 days, my kids were amazing! Even though we had to listen to Blippi “Planes Trains and Automobiles” on repeat for about 6.5 hours, it was a great trip.

The day after we got home we went to Fort Edmonton Park for a few hours, I never got to take pictures due to the fact we decided it would be a great idea to give our some some freedom….. 3 years old in a place with lots of places to run and hide, thank goodness my husband walked around with the baby in the stroller.

 We lost her hat somewhere between the house and the car so Daddy bought his little pilgrim a bonnet! Isn’t Princess Tally the cutest little thing? I am surprised that she left it on the whole time we were there.

 We got Spud some hand churned ice cream as we were getting ready to leave.

 And we had a long 3 days, as you can tell. Sweet Little Princess.

 

I have also started a new Hobby! If you follow my Facebook page, you would see my progress in my Crochet Hobby. My mom had been pushing me to learn since I was 13 years old, only took 16 years, but I am hooked!

       

She made me chain 30 feet before she showed me how to do a second stitch, then I had to do 5 feet of that, and so on and so forth. Now I am watching YouTube videos on how to do more stitches and projects, I am currently working on hats for teeny tiny preemies…. Not going well, slip stitches are Evil.

 

Now we are just getting ready for the school year, our little Spud is starting an early education program 4 mornings a weeks and one special field trip day or we met with his Occupational therapist, Physical Therapist, Speech Therapist, Teacher or his Teachers aide on that 5th day. This is suppose to help him be caught up for when he starts kindergarten, and I want to give him the best start I can.

 

So there, that is where I have been, I am hoping that soon I will be back to weekly blogging.

 

Hope to talk to you all soon!

 

Ashton <3

Music Is My Fairy Tale

MUSIC IS MY FAIRY TALEI grew up in a house hold that always had music buzzing around. There was either someone playing a record ( you know those big black disk things around since the stone age?), someone (attempting to) play and instrument, or just someone singing a song they had stuck in their head. My brother could watch a Disney movie once and have every single song memorized by the end of it. My dad worked out of town and all my memories of him revolve around music in some manner, when he was home, whether it be dish cloth dew rags, pots and pan band practice to queen albums, or playing guess the song in 10 bars or less. My mom was a painter and at night I remember being all tucked into my bed and hear her classical music playing down the hall while she painted, and my brother and I drifted off to sleep.usic helped me become who I am in some manner of speaking, because when you are a kid you listen to everything your parents listen to, In my case that was a lot of old school country like Merle Haggard, George Jones and Patsy Cline, which I still listen to, to this day. But when I started school my friends introduced me to what their parents listened to and I loved that just as much as what my parents listened to, and I would ask my mom to buy me albums and CDs until I could get them myself with my baby sitting money. Then came the boy band faze of my life, but I was never ever picky when it came to bands and I bought it all and listened to it all. by 13 I had over 200 cassette tapes and 52 CDs, I still listened to what my parents had as well with A tracks, records and their CDs and Cassettes. There was never anything I didn’t like, and when I went through my rebelling faze I just started listening to Marilyn Manson, Eminem, and other “controversial” artists at the time (Can I hope my kids will do the same?).

To me there was a song to help me through everything, when my first friend committed suicide a country song came out at the same time called “How Do You Get That Lonely” by Blaine Larsen, and that helped me in a way, when my grandpa passed away I found comfort in his favorite song, “Long Black Train” by Josh Turner.

This is my last point on the songs, but I went through a time at 16/17 years old where I fell into a bad crowd forgot who I was and just wanted me accepted by everyone instead of enjoying being who I was as an individual, I got into some drugs and while I was getting myself out of that deep hole a friend from Vancouver gave me an EP, by a band Called Marianas Trench and they helped me find me again, and I thank those guys every time I see them. I have had the honor of meeting them and getting to know them. I see them as my friends in a way because of how they had helped me, and I wanted to help them, I learned what I could about street teams and the music industry (the bare bones of it anyways) and tried to help them make a mark in the Canadian music front, along the way I gained great friends and lost some friends, but it all shaped who I am today and who I want to me for my son.

When I was pregnant with both my kids, I played music to my belly and sang songs to my babies all the time. I wanted music to be a profound part of my children’s lives like it had been for me. Then a scary thing happened and I went into labor 16 weeks early with my first, my son. I didn’t know how to handle anything with my son by that point. I didn’t know how to make him comfortable or myself for that matter, because my normal means of comfort couldn’t help a preemie baby…. Or could it?

I did some massive digging and found music therapy was found to be very beneficial to pre-term babies. But all the studies I had read were done with classical music, I do like classical music but we were not going to be listening to that all the time at home, when he did come home. So I bought an i pod mini loaded it with music I loved, music Hubby loved and music that our parents loved, which is what I had been playing for him since I found out he was growing in my tummy. I told the nurses to play it when he was really stressed out and see what happens when Hubby and I would go home for the night. (Who am I kidding Hubby Dragged me out of there to try and get some sleep.) We would come back to find that the music had calmed him down and he was showing signs of major improvement over the course of our stay. At one point in the middle of the night there were 3 nurses attending to a baby across from my son and all of sudden they heard this music being played and they could not figure out where it was coming from, they walk closer to DJs isolette and it is his ipod that he somehow turned all the way up. I remember the nurse telling me it was “Shake Tramp” by Marianas Trench, because she was a fan of them as well and we had bonded over that early on.

Now that we are out of the NICU and at home, music is still a big part of his day, whether it be our dance parties in the living room, that our old mail man loved to laugh and wave at every time he saw us, or the singing and band time he has with my dad who is passing more memories of music down to my children like he did with myself and my brother, as well as my daughter now.

I once read a quote that describes who I am in a very big way:

I Believe In Music, The Way Some People Believe In Fairy Tales.

I am now passing on that love to my kids and passing along they music therapy ideas to other moms I have met in the NICU, I hope it is as useful and up lifting for them as it was for me.

Thanks, now here are a bunch of pictures of me and band member I have met, as well I will add I have kept all my ticket stubs and have gone to over 380 concerts (including bar ones) since I turned 18, that is 11 years….. I should also note that I have been to 5 concerts in the past 7 years.

 

Andrew TSE Me and Daniel Of Ten Second Epic at a music video shoot for them, they were a local band that has since disbanded, but I would recommend looking up their older stuff if you like pop punk type stuff.

Benny Social Code Ben From Social Code, another local band that has disbanded but again, Please look up their stuff online and on Spotify and iTunes.

Cam SOS Cam from State of Shock! Sweet guy, they haven’t put anything new out lately but their stuff is really good.

Chris Hedley  Chris Former drummer for Hedley! They just put out some new stuff that I love with all me heart and would love for you to check out Hedley if you haven’t already.

Dan Tupelo Honey Dan from his Tupelo Honey days, He went from backing vocals and guitar to lead singer, now they are all doing solo stuff, Dan has moved from pop and pop punk/rock, to country! So please look up Tupelo Honey the band, they have a few albums out with Matty as the lead singer, then Dan, and also please look up Dan Davidson and his music. I have known and supported Tupelo and these guys for 11 to 12 years.

 

First Mike PIcture Me and my very first picture with Micheal Ayley of Marianas Trench!! I miss the curl.

Greg Tupelo Honey Greg from Tupelo Honey! Sweet heart in spades!

Kadoo (Simon) SOS Kadoo (Simon) from State of Shock, I am not gonna lie this is one of my favorite pictures every, because I look damn fine! lol

Me and trench Me and the whole of Marianas Trench after stalking, I mean following them on all their Alberta dates. This was the last show and I am bagged!

Morgan Social Code Me and Morgan From Social Code, please look up their stuff.

Patrick TSE Patrick From Ten Second Epic and I from the same music video as before.

Pee-Nuts Pee-Nutz! sweetest merch/ sound guy ever! he helped a few of the local bands out and we knew from the countless shows we went to.

Sandy TSE Sandy and I from the same TSE shoot. He is a huge teddy bear and hugged everyone that came out.

Steve Tupelo Honey Steve From Tupelo Honey, I got along so good with him in the many shows I saw as well as proving to him I could hold my liquor.

Tommy Hedley Tommy Mac and I from Hedley, I think I was trying to mimic his face, or I was a bit tipsy, unsure at this point lol.

Guitar Sammich Of Awesome I would like to call this the Guitarist Glam-mich! We have Dave from Hedley, Matty from Trench and Dan from Tupelo, and luck ol me in the middle!

And this last one of Ian and I….. Lets say alcohol may or may not have been involved….

Ya.....

 

Thank you all for reading,

I am sending you all hearts Love and other pretty things.

-Ashton <3

Farmers Days

Farmers

I grew up in small town Alberta Canada, and every year from the time I was about 10 I looked forward to the Farmers Days festivities. There was the fair grounds that had the sketchy rides and rigged games, the rodeo that all started on the Friday night, then Saturday morning there was the Mayors pancake breakfast for $2.00 and you got juice pancakes bacon AND sausage! Then we would make our way downtown to stake out a great spot for the parade! It was awesome seeing all the people from town gather and all the fun floats that people made and the big farming equipment. Then the little kids could go to the fire hall and see the fire trucks and go for a tour of the hall and meet the fire men and become honorary fire men and women for the day. Then we would make our way to the shuttle points and hop on an old school bus that ran every 15 minutes bringing people to and from the  fairgrounds where we would watch the rodeo play games and just have fun as a community.

 

A lot of local family businesses would get into it and have sales and specials that whole weekend since there were a lot more people around town. Well since I am now back in my home town, with my kids we are going to do our very first family farmers days!! Including the pancake breakfast, the parade, the fair grounds and maybe a few little extra things around town, and I want to bring you all on that adventure with us!

 

Spud, my son, has only done the parade once and he was just a few weeks (2 weeks) shy of his first birthday, so he was about 9 months adjusted. So that’s not a lot of fun for him, but I do have a CRAP ton of pictures of him there at the parade, but this year he will be 2 weeks shy of his 3rd birthday and Tally will be 1 month shy of a year. So I feel this year will be a fun family weekend going out and enjoying all the sights, smells and sounds of a great town event.

 

I hope you all will join us when I post the whole weekend in my blog in 2 weeks’ time!!

 

Hope to hear from you all then

Love Hearts and all kinds of Pretty Things

 

Ashton <3

I Feel Alone

I FEEL ALONE

 

Hey There Everyone,

 

I have always thought I was a strong person, I always thought that I could tackle most things that have been placed in my way. But I am having issues being the strong one these days. I feel like there are very few people who really understand what I am going through and I am having a very hard time in figuring out, how to be that strong person I once was. The mom who walked into the NICU with a smile for 157 days, the mom who learned every last thing she could about having an O2 dependent baby and still get groceries and live life as best we could.

I was a strong mom every time we walked into the preemie follow up clinics, and knew they were going to tell me a long list of things we will need to work on. We did, and I was a strong person when we got pregnant again. After one miscarriage, and a severely premature baby, I was strong and held on as much hope and strength I could muster in those 41 weeks. We did it, we had our full term baby, there were some meltdowns, but really who wouldn’t expect them from a preemie mom, pregnant again chock full of hormones and PTSD.

I am a part time single mom these days, my husband’s job has taken him to work out of town, I have my parents close but they both work full time still as they are the young hip kind of grandparents, my best friends are 45 minute and 2.5 hours away. I talk to them all the time but it’s not that easy to just load my kids up and go to the park these days, my son is way too busy, he has no fear and is very friendly, and my daughter puts EVERTHING in her mouth. So going to the park I have Princess Tally in the stroller at all times, and trying to follow Spud as he climbs over EVERYTHING trying to jump off things and just running off because he thinks it’s funny.

I know this is all part and parcel of being a 3 year old, but it also has a lot to do with how his brain is wired due to his disorders.  He doesn’t fully understand what is going on, and my husband is amazing and tries so very hard to help me when he is home, but our routine is different than it is with me so the kids look for me, knock on the door. I am the one who runs the household, I make sure bills are paid, money is where it should be, groceries, attempting to clean the house, doctors, specialists, watching all the food intake of both kids, how much juice they are having over water. I am a mom, I know this is what stay at home moms do, and I know that there are moms who are worse off than I am. I get that I do, I am not saying my plight is worse than theirs,  I am saying in my situation I am unsure how much longer I can be the strong on. I am the mom of a special needs child, and his needs are not visible. I had a little boy ask me why my son talks funny, I never thought he talked funny, and I just said that he needs a little more help learning to talk, and what came out of his mouth just blew my mind…

“Did you not teach him right or is he just stupid?” and his dad just stood there looking at me, as if I am supposed to answer that…. The moms who deal with this daily, I am sorry, I feel for you and you ladies are strong, you fathers who deal with this daily, you are strong and brave parents and I will ALWAYS make sure my children know that is not right, you don’t stare you don’t point, you are kind and make friends with everyone. We are not the same but we are all amazing and equal.

I am alone, and I don’t feel like I can be strong very much longer, but I know also, that after this pity party, I will go kiss my sleeping babies on their heads, pick up the toys, load the dishwasher, go to bed and do what I need to do and make sure my kids are happy, healthy and always get what they need in life.

 

I know it’d my first blog post in a long while and it’s whiney and all over the place, but I needed to get this out. No matter the special need of your child you do feel alone at some point, and it may go away, it may stay a while but you never give up, even when you think you might.

 

It took me a week to write this, my son had had cabin fever and decided to not listen and always play rough with his baby sister. It’s been hard and I have called my mom friends and my mom in tears a few times because it was that hard, and my son would run as soon as the door was opened and I am alone so I would have to pick up the baby and boot after my son or worst leave her alone in the living room and get him, only for a minute but it’s still never safe. I was at a loss, I called the Doctors in the clinic and its all part of his disorders and he needs to be in school in the fall. I am hoping we can get this done and ready very soon.

I am sorry for the rambling post; I will have better ones out soon. I promise,

Thank you for reading, if you like what I do here please Like, Comment, and follow me on my Social Media.

Love, Hearts, and Other Pretty Things.

-Ashton <3

What Is Happening?

Well, I will tell you what is happening, this summer and my sons special needs came into the front line and they took the lead. I need to focus on my kids, I am a part time single mom. My husband is home 1 week a month, and I am alone to make sure my son is getting the attention he needs to get ready for school, then I also need to make sure my daughter isn’t being left behind either and all her needs are being met, and she is getting all the love she needs and wants. And cook, clean, get groceries and try not to lose my sanity. 
The Mommy Book Club is suspended for the time being due tonthe fact I dont have time. My, me alone mommy time is a shower before I pass out in bed for my mandated 4 hours of sleep. 

My kids have also felt the need for naps or sleep in general are fornthe weak and are no longer needed. As well as fighting EVERY meal I make for them. 

I am currently trying to put them down for an afternoon nap, my daughter is laughing and squealing in bed, while my son kicks his door shouting that he is knocking….. I have cheerioes from one end of my house to the other, as well as toys. I have found all missing sippy cups shoved in my couch, chair and clean laundry baskets. 

My husband was just home which means that there is about 4x more tjings to do, and I love my son byt his branf of helping…. Isn’t what I need right now. 
So that is what has been happening, I will try to get back on a rhythm of posting, as well as finish moving old posts over to here. Please be patient, we are all parents and family people, and my kids come first right now.
I love you all for being patient, thanks so much. 
Please stalk me on social media:

Twitter: @Ourpreemie

Instagram: @Ourpreemie

Facebook: Our Preemie Family

Or email me ashton@ourpreemiefamily.ca
Thank you for reading, I am off to find a wuby….. 

Lots of love and Pretty Things

Ashton <3

I Thought We Beat The Odds

I Thought We Beat The Odds

When my water broke at 22 weeks my son was given 0% of survival, when he was born at 24 weeks and 2 days he was given a 55% chance of survial with 65% chance of long term health issued. We beat those odds.

When he was 4 days old they started scanning him for brain bleeds, they are extremely common in micro preemies, we beat those odds too and had not a single brain bleed. At 3.5 months old they told us he had ROP and needed laser eye surgery, he didn’t need glasses till 2 and it was just for near sightedness. 

We started crawling, talking and walking and to everyone around him is a normal happy healthy almost 3 year old boy. We had beaten all the odds stacked against micro preemie, I have had many doctors look at him and how my sweet little Spud acts and then look at his medical history and they have a hard time believing that is the same little boy they see in front of them. We had beaten all the odds!

Or ,so I thought….

On April 20th of this year, we met with the Preemie Follow Up Clinic, these awesome groups of doctors and specialists track the progress of many many different Preemies that have gone through Stollery Hospital doors.  Our appointment was from 9 am till noon, we were to meet with a psychologist, a speech and language specialist, an occupational therapist, as well as a doctor and nurse to address any long term concerns we may have, and to also chart his growth, as well as any nutritional and dietary needs he may need. 

Now, I wont go into to much detail, because it is private medical information. The long short if it is, we have delays, significant delays that now require him to attend a special pre-school, at 3 years old. We fell pray to being a mom and dad, seeing all the awesome things our kid was doing but not asking questions about it. 

So now, we as a family have to make a new plan, a plan to fix the delays, to give my son the best possible chance at a normal school experience when he is older. To show him how hard work and determination beat every obstacle in our paths.

We not have beat all the Preemies odds, but we can beat this. We can do this! 

Thank you for reading, if you like what I do here please Like, Comment, and follow me on my Social Media.

Love, Hearts, and Other Pretty Things.

-Ashton <3

NICU Advice For Moms of Micro Preemies

This is what I have learned and what I would like to pass on to moms about to embark on the same journey we did almost 3 years ago now. I have 10 points of advice that I wish another mom would have told me right from the start, as the first week is just the Doctors, nurses and NICU staff shoving paperwork at you, telling you what you can’t do with your baby, statistics, medical terms and the odds of your precious little miracle are. It is so much thrown at you, and it’s over whelming for a very hormonal mom, who may not be 100% sure, what the events of the past 24 hours were. You are over whelmed and don’t know where to start, here is my advice.

  1. SET UP YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM ASAP

If you can, set up a strong and reliable support system, of friends, family, and surprisingly Social Workers. You are going to need to have people to lean on, because your chances for PPD skyrockets when you are in this situation, and you are going to blame yourself, even though you know, nothing you did caused this, and no matter what you thought you could have done, would have prevented this chain of events. While you focus, all that you can into the care and wellbeing of your child, you need to have people that will be there for you, and watch out for your wellbeing just as much.

2) TALK TO YOUR NURSES AND DOCTORS, GET THEM TO RE EXPLAIN ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING THAT WENT ON, ON THE FIRST FEW DAYS

You just had a baby, a preterm baby, a tiny preterm baby, and then they throw all this extra information at you that you have to retain for the whole of your stay. That just isn’t going to happen, nor is it a reasonable request of any mother in that situation. So, ask questions, ask the same question to 2 or 3 different people until you are 100% sure you are ok with what is going on. They make a game plan for your child, but plans change and ask the questions. Go over all the paperwork they give you with a nurse, or your NICU Social worker, make sure you are aware of everything in there. Please, do not just put it aside and forget about it. There is a lot in there that can help you get some funding, free parking and how to get money for meals while you are in the NICU with your child(ren).

3) SET UP A SCHEDULE FOR YOU!

You need to look out for your mental wellbeing. So make a daily or weekly schedule and stick to it as best as you can.  You need to go home or to your room and decompress from the day, even if nothing happened that day, it’s still a scary and stressful place. You need to be able to relax for a bit.  My schedule while my son was in the NICU was I would take my hubby to work, then be at the NICU for 7/730 am, sit and get the run down from the nurses about how the night went, get myself situated, waited for rounds to start and listened and put in my 2 cents when I could. Stay by his bedside for tests, procedures and anything else that was going on, I did break for a 30 minute lunch, and then I would leave at 330 pm to pick up my husband and we would go home cook dinner tidy the house relax, go to bed and start all over again the next day. That was our Monday to Friday, on the Saturday and Sunday, we would sleep in till 8 am be at the hospital for 9/930 am sit and visit and relax with our baby, listen and contribute to later afternoon rounds and leave at 2 pm. We did not do this because we wanted to; we did this, because I needed to do this. We didn’t get to this schedule until we were in the NICU for 2 almost 3 months; my mental health needed this because it was too much. It is too much in the NICU.

4) WRITE DOWN ANY AND EVERY QUESTION

Nothing you want to ask is irrelevant or unnecessary, but I don’t know about you, I never thought about anything I wanted to ask until I was at home. So instead of turning to DR. Google (NEVER Do that By the way.) I would have a note book with me and write down anything and everything I wanted to ask the next day. You can ask the nurse or the Dr. during rounds; whom ever you think could answer the question the very best.

5) TALK TO YOU NICU ABOUT BEDSIDE RULE (AKA CAN YOU MAKE THE BEDSIDE MORE HOMEY, CALMING AND WELCOMING)

Each hospital has different rules and regulations on what can be put at the bedside. Ours allowed up to have a drawer of clothes, baby blankets, hats and sock. They also allowed us to put books and some stuffed animals at the bedside so it, in a strange way, felt like it would at home in his nursery. My grandmother made an isolette cover that made the room feel brighter; we were allowed to tape small black and white pictures to the isolette of family members, as long as they can still see the baby and they do not block anything they need. We read our son books and showed him his stuffed animals during Kangaroo care. I mean if this was going to be our home for a while I was going to make it feel like home as best I could.

6) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH TAKEN CARE OF

You need to talk to a Social Worker on the regular, even if you are feeling ok, get someone on the outside to talk to you and make sure you aren’t suppressing any emotions. Because PTSD leaving the NICU is very real, we may not think we are suppressing our feelings but we are, and once we get home all those feelings come rushing to the surface and we aren’t sure what to do. We may not have the outlet right then and there, so you need to make sure you have your mental health taken care of, sign up for counseling before you leave the NICU, so you have that person should you have a PTSD episode after you leave. Those episodes may not happen right away; they may go away and come back many years later. So, please try and get that in order before you leave the hospital with your baby.

7) WHEN PEOPLE OFFER TO HELP… TAKE IT.

Put your pride aside, and take what people are offering, casseroles, house cleaning, inviting you over for dinner, doing your laundry. Take it all, after a long stressful day at the hospital, are you really looking forward to doing the same mundane chores, or do you want to just eat and decompress? Take all the help you can get from you support system. Some people don’t know what to say to you during this terrible and trying time, so they want to show support by helping in this way. Take it.

8) PVR ALL YOUR SHOWS

There is going to be a day where, you are sick or are feeling ill and the hospital will not allow you come in, or your stress has caused insomnia. Your PVR will be your best friend, to give you mindless entertainment. Enjoy that time.

9) CELEBRATE EVERY MILESTONE, NO MATTER HOW MINUT

The first time they open their eyes, the first cry you hear, extubated, first good x-ray, and many other good things are things that should be celebrated to the fullest extent that you can. Find a fun way to celebrate; we bought a new book every time he did something great. We also bought stuffed animals for him once he was more aware of his surroundings. Find your own way to make sure every Preemie milestone is celebrated to its fullest extent.

10) DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY AGAIN, AND ENJOY THAT PREGNANCY

It is hard to have a baby, even more so with your first baby, in the NICU, and makes it hard to think about another baby. But don’t fear that, and enjoy the next pregnancy. When I got pregnant with my daughter just under 2 years after my son, I didn’t enjoy it. And it was my full term pregnancy, and it was hard to enjoy it all when I was terrified something bad was going to happen. Find a way to be aware of your body and your baby, but enjoy it. Don’t be scared!

I hope this will help a few ladies.

Thank you for reading, please Like, Comment, and follow me on social media.

Love, Hearts, and Pretty Things

Ashton <3

Fed Is Best

I have always tried to stay away from controversial topics such as Breast Feeding vs. Formula feedings. So this post is 100% completely my opinion and my experience. If you want to exclusively breast feed, good for you! Rock it out! I will be the mom giving you a smile and thumbs up in the restaurant or museum. If you are strictly formula, rock that out mama! You are doing what you need to for you baby, and thats being the very best mama you can be, you will also get a smile and thumbs up from me!

My son was 16 weeks early, my milk had most definantly not dropped and I had to work so very hard to get it in and saved every drop for my son. He was on donor brest milk for 4 days before I made enough to feed him. I pumped like clockwork, every 3 hours, tracked every ounce, my spot in our fridge was full before we went to the hospital daily. For 3 months I did this and I was excited soon I would try to breast feed!

Then my supply started to drop out of no where, and I drank the teas, ate the cookies, had more people touch my boobs in a day than I would like to admit. I even took the medicines, but it just dropped off, I was crushed I went from getting a full 50ML to 75ML per boob, per pump to maybe 20ML from both in a matter of 2 weeks. I was heart broken, but no one shamed me for it, they told me I did great, gave my little preemie the best fighting chance he needed by giving him what I did for 3 months. And, I had enough in the freezer to last a while longer, I felt ok when it came to take the feeding tube out and try actual feedings it was a bottle and not the breast, and by the time he was home he was on straight formula. He stayed on formula until he was 12 months adjusted and was never a fussy eater.

Fast forward 2 years and I am in the hospital bed, snuggled up with my new born daughter trying to get her to latch, and I had to come up with some fun ways of that happening…. Sqeezing my boob, then the nipple, pushing it one way while she lay another way…

The 2 person technique, that one was strange with a nurse, and frustrating when trying to tell Hubby what to do…

Finally after 3 days of her getting next to nothing, I pumped next to nothing, less than 20 ML from both breasts, I asked the nurse to get me a small thing of formula, because she was hungry and I wanted to feed her so I could get more than an hour of sleep. She made me feel so bad!

“You have barely tried! You need to give it more time!” I am sorrybits been 3 days, I feed her for an hour to an hour and a half from each breast and she is starving less than 30 minutes later, I pumped and bottle fed her in the longer gaps and she still wasn’t getting enough. My child was hungry and I was gonna feed her!

I had to sign an “Against Medical Advice” form to get formula for my child… What the actual F!? It made me feel like I was going to be harming my child because I wanted her to feel full for a little bit! I was still pumping, still trying her on the boob, but if I knew she was still hungry I wanted to top her up! Why is to terrible to want to keep your child full and happy?

Once we got, home I still tried to breast feed, pump and formula, I again did the tea, cookies and pills, but it never surpassed 30 ML from both breasts. So after a long talk with my husband, and him telling me I needed to be there for our kids and me making myself sick over this, isn’t healthy for anyone involved. At my 6 week check up, my old school OB told me the exact same thing, he gave me a coupon for some formula to pick up on my way home, gave me a hug and told me I was doing great! I was feeling so much better about this.

As I sat in his waiting room for his nurse to bring out a form for some blood work and a prescription, my daughter started getting fussy so I pulled the bottle out and quickly made one and started feeding her, another mom, who was there with her whole entourage, looked over at me scoffed and rolled her eyes. I just smiled at her and went back about my business of feeding my daughter, and she said to her friend/cousin/sister, making no attempt to lower her voice, said “Breast is best, and anyone who does other than that is lazy and doing a disservice to their child.”

I just hung my head and talked low to my daughter, telling her I loved her and I tried very hard to do the best I could. There were several other moms and families in the waiting room but no one came to my aid, no one would say anything. Here I am 6 weeks post partom, high risk for depression, already feeling terrible about being able to breast feed, and this woman has the nerve to speak out of turn.

I was sad before, when it actually happened, then I became angry about it, now I just feel bad for her.

Breast is optimal, but Fed is the best for your baby.

Thank You for reading, please Like, Comment, and follow me on social media.

Love, Hearts, and Pretty Things

Ashton ❤