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February
27
2021

Three Months & Thriving

This past week has been another good one for Theo! He is continuing to adjust well to being home & is honestly thriving!

We had a couple zoom meetings this week to assess Theo for in home occupational therapy services. They said Theo is doing great for his adjusted age (one month) & has skills mastered for that age. He is even working on skills you’d see in a 2-3 month old, so they are very happy with that. They will be meeting with us once a week going forward. Theo also had his hernia consult appointment. The doctor confirmed he will need surgery (which we already knew), but he wants to wait till Theo is on 1/16 of a liter of oxygen before he operates. At this point his hernias are still looking / feeling okay so they are able to wait. Today I got a call from his new Nurse Practitioner for her weekly check in  & she was pleased to hear how he’s been doing. She wants us to adjust his oxygen on Sunday to 1/8 of a liter from the 1/4 that he’s currently on. There’s always a chance he may have to go back up but we are very hopeful!

In addition to all his appointments Theo has a lot of fun this week. He got so many snuggles from his family, got to experience his first movie night, went on a few walks for the first time, had lots of visitors (we have the best extended families), & even got to go to his Aunties & one of our friends’ houses while we all hung out together.

Theo also turned 3 months old this week, we could hardly believe it! We are beyond proud of our little guy & everything he has accomplished. He amazes us every day & is seriously such a good baby! He is very sweet, loving, cuddly, & has recently started cooing which is the best. We are so thankful to have him home with us & are thoroughly enjoying every minute (even the ones at 3am haha).

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February
20
2021

A Whole New World

Theo has officially been home for 10 days!! And we couldn’t be more proud of how well he is doing here with us. He has been waking up & eating every three hours like clock work (thank you NICU schedule!) This is very important as he needs to continue to gain weight & grow. Theo only had one appointment this week & it was at the Bridge Clinic. They were VERY impressed with how he is handling the transition home. The nurse practitioner looked him over & said he looks really good! He also weighed in at 7lbs & 5 ounces, say what?! So the nutritionist & OT were very happy with him & his progress as well. The NP will call us once a week & is hoping to start weaning his oxygen in two weeks. Fingers crossed he keeps doing so well!

Over the past week Theo has met family members & even a few close friends. It is so fun seeing people meet him for the first time when all they’ve seen is pictures for the last almost 3 months. My absolute favorite though is seeing him with his big sister Madi! She adores him & he is so content with her. Madi laughs at his different faces nonstop, reads him books, sings to him, & gives him some quality snuggles every day after daycare. She is such a great helper & the best big sister overall!

I am still on maternity leave & enjoying every second of it. I spend so much time in a day just starring at him & snuggling with him. He never fails to amaze me, he is quite the little fighter & we couldn’t be more proud. Kate is also making sure I take full advantage of my leave & surprised me with a self care day today. I got a massage, my nails done, & my eye brows waxed. It was the sweetest gesture & I am so thankful for the way she loves me.

I have also loved getting to see Kate with him this past week & a half. She is the BEST mama... the way she talks to him, looks at him, cares for him, & loves him is unlike anyone else. She inspires me every day & I couldn’t do any of this without her.

Overall we are thoroughly enjoying life as a family of four & getting to spend time with family & close friends. Thank you to all those who made all these little moments possible, we will never forget you.

February
13
2021

Home Sweet Home

We’ve had a few people ask us if we’d be willing to continue posting Caring Bridge updates for a little while, as we continue this journey outside of the NICU! We’ll post Friday updates for a few weeks, as he attends his MANY follow up appointments & we get acclimated to life as a family of four, & then we’ll move to monthly updates until he turns one!

Theo’s been home with us for four days / three nights now, & we couldn’t be more proud of how he’s doing... & honestly, I couldn’t be any more proud of Jess, Madi, & I, as well. Tuesday was discharge day, & I know Jess touched on it a little bit, but it was quite the emotional day for so many reasons. Jess & I spent the whole car ride home crying & feeling ALL of the emotions - we were so glad that Theo was coming home, but also so sad that our time at the NICU was over (I know that might not make sense to you, & that’s okay), & also so thankful for the Nurses / Doctors that quite literally saved our baby boy’s life. What a journey this has been.

Jess’ Parents picked up Madi from Day Care on Tuesday night & kept her overnight so that we could have one night to settle in & get acclimated to things. Our plan was to have our family photographer come over on Wednesday morning to take pictures of Madi & Theo meeting for the first time, but we woke up that morning to texts saying that Madi had thrown up twice. We were a little disappointed at first, of course, because lately it’s felt like nothing can go “right”, but it ended up all working out. We were pretty positive that Madi was just feeling anxious / excited to meet her brother, & so we cautiously had her come home later than planned (once we knew for sure she wasn’t sick) & it was honestly a really sweet, genuine moment that I will never forget.

Both Jess’ Parents & my Parents came to meet Theo that day, as well as Jess’ sister. He was so awake at times, but also so snuggly & gave everyone the best cuddles, as always. That night, Theo did AMAZING at home! He slept in his crib in between his bottle feedings (every 3 hrs) & was taking 60mL on average every time.

I went back to work on Thursday (working from home still, thankfully) & Jess took Theo to his Pediatrician appointment. Theo was 6lbs 12oz when they weighed him that morning, which means he gained SIX OUNCES in the two days that he’d been home with us! They were extremely impressed with his weight gain & how his breathing sounded. That afternoon, Jess’ Grandparents stopped by to meet Theo. It was a pretty special meeting, because we gave Theo the middle name “Merritt” after Jess’ Grandpa! That evening, Jess’ sister & girlfriend came & brought us dinner & stayed for some Theo snuggles.

On Friday, Theo had his first outpatient eye exam. His eyes are matured through Zone 2, which is really good progress from the exam he had three weeks ago in the NICU! There’s still some prematurity in Zone 3, but he doesn’t see any disease. He said for his birth weight & everything he looks absolutely amazing! He was very impressed. They need to see him back in three weeks & they’re hopeful that this will be the last exam until he turns 1 Year Old.

We have a pretty fun weekend ahead & we’re really looking forward to it! Tomorrow morning we have our rescheduled photos - we’ll take some as a family, as well as some of just Madi & Theo! Then, we have some pretty special visitors coming over that afternoon - you may know her as our “favorite Nurse”, & although she’ll always carry that title, we like the title “friend” even better. She’s bringing her family over for a fun little play date / dinner. Theo has a little gift for her, which we’re really excited about. Then Sunday morning we’ll be taking Theo to visit my Grandma & we’ll have some brunch with her, & that afternoon my brother Kyle & his wife Littia are coming to meet him.

All that to say, we are SO THANKFUL that our baby boy is home with us, & we are SO THANKFUL for the continued love & support that we’ve been shown during this season.

Also - I just want to give a HUGE shout out to my Wife. There hasn’t been a single moment where this pregnancy / birth was “easy” for her. From the nausea kicking in full swing around Week 6, to being diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) & then preeclampsia, to spending nearly two weeks on bedrest at the Hospital, to then experience 80 days in the NICU... Yet she’s handled this all with strength, courage, & an amazing amount of grace. It’s no wonder why I feel so in love with her - she is the best human I know. I’m so honored to call her my Wife, & I feel so blessed that our kids get to call her Mommy.

February
10
2021

Discharge Day

Our baby boy graduated from the NICU & came HOME today!! 

After 80 days... This experience is one we will never forget & has honestly changed us in ways most will never understand. This was hands down the hardest few months, but he had the BEST team & we couldn’t be more thankful. These nurses are truly amazing in every way & thank you doesn’t even begin to cut it. They saved him, cared for him, & loved him. It was so special to be able to celebrate with them today. Some of them switched shifts to be there today & they surprised us by all standing in the hallway when we walked out. (Yes, we bawled after that.) 

We never imagined leaving the NICU would be bittersweet, but we will miss everyone we met there! Thank you... Here’s to our new life!🖤

February
9
2021

Watch Out, World

Today was a big day for our little guy! Our favorite Nurse was on Theo all day & she ran some numbers & showed them to the Doctor during rounds. They were very proud of him for hitting all his goals over the last 24 hours & his labs looked great! He drank what he needed to, stayed hydrated, & continued to go to the bathroom well. So as long as he gains weight tonight & continues to do well he will be COMING HOME tomorrow! 

It’s such a crazy feeling & honestly so surreal. We have spent 3 months in this hospital, 2.5 in the NICU, in the same pod, for 80 straight days. The security guards know us & say hi. We have gotten to know many Nurses on a personal level to some extent, which I’ve loved. They spend their days investing non stop into other people’s families, but I love hearing about theirs. They are amazing & selfless. Confident & so sweet. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cut it. 

Kate & I both spent a good amount of time there today. Snuggling Theo, chatting with the Nurses, reflecting on the past few months, & saying some tough goodbyes. So many of them have said how much they are going to miss Theo & us. But they have no idea how much we will miss them. I mean, after all, they changed our lives forever. 

Tomorrow is going to be a wonderful day, filled with more tough goodbyes & tears. But most importantly it’ll be filled with joy! Because we get to celebrate our miracle baby & how far he’s come. Like one of his Nurses said today, “There’s a whole world out there, just wait until you see it.”

February
8
2021

Crushing Goals

I went to visit Theo at 9am this morning & had a good hunch of which Nurse was assigned to him with how high his crib was sitting! We adore this Nurse, as she’s been one of the few that’s been on him pretty consistently throughout his time here. She also used to work at Children’s, so she was used to the little babies & was very comfortable with Theo when he was first born. She let me know that he had a great night, had already drank 60mL for her (she had only been there 2 hours), & he gained another ounce & a half.

They ended up pulling me into rounds with the Doctor, & her only concern is the amount of liquid intake - simply because they don’t want him to get dehydrated. So it’s a great sign that he’s gaining every day, but they want to start tracking his urine output to make sure that he’s peeing enough. They’re also going back to cue based feeding where he needs to hit a certain number of mL every 12 hrs. His goal now is 168mL. His Doctor told me that they’re still hopeful for a discharge on Tuesday, but that has the potential of changing depending upon how he does the next 24 hrs.

It was a little discouraging to hear, of course. There was a period of time a week ago that the idea of him coming home was so daunting with the oxygen & the feeding goals & just the idea of not having the NICU to keep him safe... but now I don’t have those feelings anymore. Jess & I feel confident & prepared & are just ready to have Theo home & are willing to do whatever we need. So I think it’s just hard going from him passing the Car Seat test last night (which felt so exciting & kind of like the “final thing”) to sitting with the Doctor today having that conversation.

Jess went to the NICU early this afternoon & spent some time with Theo, then we went to her Parents for a nice dinner. We decided that we wanted one of us to go back tonight after the 7pm Staff change to see how Theo was going, as he had until 8pm to hit his new goals. Jess starts her maternity leave tomorrow, so she’ll be able to spend a majority of the day at the NICU - so we decided that I’d go back tonight.

They let me know that he hit his goal of 168mL at 5:45pm tonight. They had just warmed up more milk for him when I got there (around 7:45pm) & he drank 25mL with them. His urine output was 2.8 & the minimum was 2. They also didn’t catch the really big diaper he had right before rounds because housekeeping had already come. The night Nurses assured me that they would take great care of Theo overnight (which I have no doubts about) & will work hard to help him meet his goals, if they can. I changed his diaper right before I was going to leave around 9:15, but he woke up & was being so playful / acting really hungry, so had them heat up 60mL for me! HE ATE IT ALL! So he’s currently 50% to his goal & it’s only been 2 hrs.

We are SO proud of our baby boy. As excited as we are to have him home, we of course don’t want him home if he’s not ready. Whatever he needs, we’re wanting him to have. We’re so incredibly thankful for the Nurses at St. John’s for taking such good care of our kiddo, & there’s no way we can thank them for all that they’ve done for us. Our favorite Nurse is back on Monday & Tuesday so fingers crossed she’s assigned to Theo for what could be his final days in the NICU!

February
7
2021

HE PASSED!

Today they switched Theo to ad lib feeding! This means he doesn’t have to hit a certain amount every 12 hours, he just has to continue to gain weight. He has been doing well with his bottle feedings & we are so so proud of our little guy!

Kate & I set up & practiced using his stroller, car seat, & oxygen today. He has lots of appointments over the next few weeksc so I’m sure we will quickly become pros. We’re getting more & more excited to have him home! We’re officially on the home stretch. We also have been working on deep cleaning the house so that we’re all set.

Theo got lots of snuggles today, shocker we know! But tonight he also had his car seat trial! The Nurses set up his camera so we could watch him & we couldn’t be more proud! Our baby PASSED his car seat trial!!!!!!! (Or car seat challenge in Kate’s words hahah)

Way to go, buddy!!! We love you so much!

February
6
2021

Shots = Snuggles

Pediatric Home Service (PHS) stopped by the house this morning to drop off Theo’s oxygen, the oximeter, & his nebulizer. They trained us on everything & had us each demonstrate some things. It was a lot of information, but it was taught very well & we feel prepared!

The Doctor called & spoke with Jess & let him know that Theo gained 1/3 of an ounce. They’re going to keep watching him the next day or two & make sure he’s gaining & on a good trajectory! Worst case scenario, they will bump him back up to the 28 Cals (he was just recently moved to 26 Cals) - but that wouldn’t affect him coming home.

Theo got his first Synagis shot today, which helps prevent Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). When I got to Theo around 4:00pm, he was very sleepy. They said he was fussy for a lot of the day & think it was due to the shot - but they didn’t mind because they took turns snuggling him! Most of my time with Theo this afternoon consisted of chatting with OT, signing for prescriptions that I took home, & trying to get him to eat. He’s been having some gas problems lately & trouble pooping - mostly due to the kind of formula that he’s on & the amount of iron he needs. So we’ve noticed the last few days that even when he’s visibly hungry, he tends to not eat as well / as much due to being uncomfortable. They’ve added 5mL of prune juice to his diet 2x daily, so they’re hoping that will help. They’ve also taught us some “exercises” that we can do to try to help get things moving!

When I was leaving the NICU, I noticed a box & card addressed to Jess & I. One of Theo’s overnight Nurses left a little gift for both Theo & Madi - & wrote us the sweetest card. I can already tell that the next few days are going to be extremely emotional... I’m so thankful that Theo was in such a great NICU with some amazing Nurses. This experience has been life changing, to say the least. In so many ways.

Jess is there with him now, getting some solid snuggles. Tomorrow we’ll be bringing the car seat to the Hospital & he’ll do his car seat trial tomorrow night!  Theo will have to sit buckled in his car seat for 90 mins without any desats to “prove” that he can safely ride in the semi-reclined position of a car seat. So fingers crossed that he does well with that! IF for some reason he were to fail, they would try it again the next day.