Jan 13, 2019 Latest post:
Feb 12, 2019
Hello! We are putting together this CaringBridge website so that we can keep our family and friends up to date easily on how baby Elliot is doing while he is in the NICU at Aurora Sinai. While we were so grateful and awestruck by the outpouring of love, support, and concern that our friends and family demonstrated in the since Elliot was born, it became very obvious that updating and responding to everyone became easily it's own full time job. Please use this website as a resource to see how Elliot is doing. And as far as Mike and I, you can pretty much assume if Elliot is having a good day, we are too! And the alternative; if Elliot is not having a great day, we are not as well. We are learning that must be what it is like to be parents.
There is a saying that came to mind when we found out that Elliot would NEED to be born 12 weeks early: "We plan, God laughs." As a couple, Mike and I are what I would consider to be "planners". I had read all of the "What to Expect When You're Expecting " books; heck, I literally read "What to Expect BEFORE You're Expecting"! We had already attended all of our hospital classes. We had meticulously laid out a maternity leave plan and booked a daycare. Days before Elliot was born, Mike finished painting the nursery. We couldn't be more prepared for a baby boy who would be born IN MARCH!
Before the holidays I began to have lower extremity edema and very high blood pressures. I was at first put on a "modified bed rest" and being monitored on an out patient basis every couple of days. While my blood pressure remained high, the doctor was not alarmed. Christmas night I woke up around 2am to some extreme back and chest pain and was reassured by an on-call nurse that it was just heartburn (which was a reasonable assumption since I inhaled about four different types of cheesy potatoes celebrating Christmas with family that day). That Friday, December 28th, I woke up around 2am again to a similar feeling, however this time the pain traveled from my upper right shoulder, down my side and into my stomach. It was not relieved with any amount of Tums and I became very sick. When we called the on-call nurse, we were told to come immediately to the emergency room at Aurora Sinai. I felt a little reluctant, afraid that this may be another bout of heartburn (I did have a chicken salad sandwich for dinner?), but we went to the ER as advised because the pain was relentless.
A pit crew of nurses descended upon me and after some tests the doctor came in to explain to me that I had a severe case of preeclampsia (an unpreventable disease of the placenta) with the added complication of having a rare variant of it called HELLP syndrome (this would mean there is an additional component involving my red blood cells breaking down, elevation in my liver enzymes and a low platelet count). It was explained to me that I did not have any risk factors that would have led them to believe I would be the type of patient that they usually see with this diagnosis, making it likely that it would not have been caught sooner since it was not on anybody's radar. The admitting doctor told us that the only way to protect Elliot and to protect me from having seizures or a stroke would be to deliver him, and SOON!
After about a day and a half of medication and monitoring, my amazing team of doctors decided to perform an emergency cesarean section. It seemed that Elliot was not tolerating my blood pressure normalizing nor did he like the contractions the doctors had begun inducing. I think he just wanted to try to be the "New Year Baby"; he must have Mike's competitive nature. It was then that Elliot Michael Fink was born at 5:02pm on Sunday, December 30th, 2018. He was 14" long and weighed only 2lbs 4oz! He cried right away, letting us know he was okay. I was able to see him briefly before they took him to the NICU. Mike was able to go and see him right away, take pictures, and get updates while I was recovering.
Mike has been an amazing daddy to Elliot already. While I was recovering, they really got to bond and Mike became very familiar with Elliot's physical condition and all of the advanced technology helping Elliot. I think Mike could have a real future in Biomedical Engineering! You can tell Mike is a proud papa! He is always holding Elliot's hand and cupping his head and feet, trying to soothe him.
Elliot's life has had many ups and downs already. He definitely fits that "small but mighty" constitution that you often see in preemies. He has gained a reputation in the NICU for being already showing strong personality: demonstrating his likes and his dislikes and being very active for his age. I believe the word the nurses keep using is "feisty"; I just hope that doesn't translate when he comes home! He loves to grasp things, particularly tubes and wires that are connected to him, which makes mommy a little nervous sometimes lol. He also ALWAYS wants one foot sticking out of his swaddle at all times. As hard as the nurses try to keep his little foot tucked in, he always finds a way to have it sticking up in the air. He right away demonstrated a sucking reflex, which they say most babies don't develop until weeks 32-36. That is my first "mommy brag" about my son, ha ha. We look forward to seeing how his personality develops as he grows.
People always joke with me as a dentist that "Dentists are not REAL doctors". I'll tell you what, after seeing these neonatologists in action, I can say these rockstars make dentistry look like a walk in the park! All of the nurses and doctors at the Aurora Sinai NICU are angels on Earth. They are so knowledgeable and caring. They take the time to talk to us as long as we want and make sure all of our questions are answered. They let us help take care of Elliot during his "care times" and encourage as much participation as we want. They always make sure we feel included in every aspect of his care. We are welcome to be there 24/7. We are finding that this is becoming a second home to us and we learning how to manage this new lifestyle. I am grateful for the support and wisdom shared by other family and friends who have had preemies as well. Having them share their experiences has given us better direction and insight on how to navigate these new waters as well as validated a lot of the feelings we have had through this process.
Elliot's progression will definitely be a marathon, not a sprint. We have been told that we can anticipate him remaining in the NICU until around his original due date, March 21st. I look forward to his homecoming, but I also do not want to rush him. One of the most difficult things so far was leaving the hospital when I was discharged and coming home without Elliot. I anticipate as he grows stronger and we are able to hold him, feed, him, and connect more with him, it will also get harder and harder every time we leave him at the hospital. But while initially the quote that came to mind when I found out that we would be having Elliot much sooner than anticipated was, "We plan, God laughs," I have since determined that the more appropriate saying for our little family's circumstance is, "God will never give you more than you can handle". So many people ask what they can do for us or help us with. Your prayers are the most appreciated and useful things that we could ask of you. Thank you from our little family