Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back to the Story....

Quick update on HK:  She's doing GREAT!  We can go 4 hours without being hooked up to our tube now which gives mom a LOT more freedom!

I must get back to the original story!  Since I keep this blog for my personal records of my pregnancy and Harper Kate's birth, I don't want to leave anything out.  I forgot to blog about 2 WONDERFUL baby showers that were hosted for me in Birmingham.  I don't know how I skipped out on that except that I think everyone was ready to hear about Harper Kate's ACTUAL birth!  hahaha....

During January, my mom & sisters hosted a great baby shower brunch for me at my mom's house.  We had breakfast and then opened gifts.  Let me say I am extremely blessed to have such wonderful family and friends that I was able to celebrate with.  We had such a fun time and Harper Kate was spoiled to pieces!  Then, the next weekend we had another shower at Rosewood .  My mother in law, sister in law, and Renee Mikell (the owner of Rosewood) hosted this shower for me.  Once again, I was blessed to have so many women from my father in law's church celebrate with us.  They spoiled Harper Kate to death!  4 tables of gifts!  My goodness gracious, this baby girl is SPOILED ROTTEN! 

Here are some pictures from both showers.  I promise to move on with the story in a couple of days.  Next post..."Our days in the NICU." Once again, one of the most trying times in my life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Surgery Update!

Hey Everybody,
  I apologize for not updating sooner.  Harper Kate's surgery was a success!  She is home, with no tube in her nose!!!  The fundiplication surgery (to eliminate reflux) has worked so far.  No spit up episodes and she has been doing very well.  She's still a little sore and needing some tylenol, but we're almost over it.  We have already been able to move up to a higher rate on the feeding pump, so she can actually go 4 hours a day without being hooked up at all!!!  I absolutely love seeing her nose without a tube coming out.  She looks so beautiful to me!  Now we can start working on oral feeding.  The hope is, without the tube in her throat, oral feeding will become much easier for her.  We've been giving her tastes and so far she really likes carrots and sweet potatoes.  Unfortunately, carrots are near impossible to get out of clothes, so we like to eat naked around our house.  hahaha
  I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of the angel with no nose tube!   We're still taking it easy recovering, but this weekend we're headed to Birmingham so Mom & Dad can go to the Bama game while HK stays with her Cookie.  We are all VERY excited about that! 
  Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Update from the Hospital

Good Morning,
  I'm sitting here in the hospital while Harper Kate is resting.  We got to the hospital yesterday morning, checked in and headed back to the room where we met with her surgeon.  We had time to be with just her, comforting her, prayed with her and then got her dressed to head back to surgery.  Her little gown had spaceships on it and tied in the back.  Her surgery nurse came to get her, but she allowed me to carry her all the way back to the doors.  I placed her on the bed, and then they wheeled her back.  That was the hardest part of the entire day.  Placing HK on that bed and then walking away hurt my heart.  I had tears in my eyes, but I was able to contain myself and walked back to our room to wait for our moms to arrive.
  My mom & Jarod's mom both drove from Birmingham to sit with us, their kids, while we waited.  I think without them Jarod & I would have been nervous wrecks together... :)  About an hour into the surgery, they called to let us know that everything was going just fine.  The anesthesia had gone perfectly and they were beginning the surgical part.  It would last about an hour itself. While waiting we watched a video on the Mic-key tube.  Quite dated, but helpful I suppose. hahaha... After a couple hours, they called to let us know surgery was over, it had gone well and she was headed to recovery.  The surgeon came up to let us know that it couldn't have gone any better.  She would be in recovery, then would come up to the room and meet us there. 
  Recovery took a little longer than normal because Harper Kate woke up kind of croupy sounding so she required a breathing treatment meaning they had to watch her to make sure she was ok.  Good grief, by the time she got to the room with us I was DYING TO SEE HER.  I heard her crying as she was being wheeled down the hall toward the room.  I ran out there and walked with her the rest of the way.
  Hearing your precious baby cry, not because she's mad, but because she is so uncomfortable and there isn't any way to make it better will rip your heart to pieces.  I kept telling my mom, I just want to fix it, but there wasn't anything we could do but hold her.  Jarod was able to get her calm for a little bit later on when she could open her eyes.  Bless her heart, she would go to sleep, then open her eyes, not know where she was and get scared and cry again.  It's a sad sad process. 
  Last night was NOT the best night of sleep, but Harper Kate awoke this morning happier and a little more comfortable.  We are still on IV fluids, and haven't yet moved to pedialyte or formula yet, so my anticipation is that we will be here another day/evening. 
  No pictures to show yet, but when she fully recovers and shows her little personality again they will be coming!  I couldn't have asked for any more thoughts and prayers.  My little angel came through her first (and hopefully last) surgery without trouble and is on her way to recovery.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your love, thoughts and prayers over the past 48 hours.

Monday, September 12, 2011

HK Current Update :)

  I was in Birmingham this weekend, and ran into a girl I went to Jr. High with who reads the blog.  I haven't talked to her in quite a long time. :) It was great to see her and visit for a while.  Mom & I were shopping for HK, and she worked in the store we were in.  While helping us shop, she quickly said, you've got to hurry on the blog! :)  Catch up, so we'll know what's going on.  hahahaha....   I know that is what 99% of you are thinking.  So, since Rebecca reminded me I needed to update, today's post is a current update on what is going on with this little peanut.
  Harper Kate has struggled with terrible acid reflux for a few months now.  A couple of weeks ago, she had the stomach bug on a Friday.  During that day and through the weekend we gave her pedialyte mixed with her breastmilk mixture through the tube and took away her rice cereal.  When I took away the rice cereal, I noticed that her reflux got much better!  I called the GI doctor and after multiple phone calls and working through her nutrition with my sister-in-law and dietician guru, Kristen, we have removed her rice cereal and added some more formula to her breastmilk for calories.  Apparently, Harper Kate was having a very difficult time digesting the rice cereal.  Needless to say, ever since we took that away, she has been a much happier baby with all digestive track issues working much better. :)  hahaha 
  Taking away the rice cereal did not completely solve the reflux problem.  We have been planning on getting a g-tube for Harper Kate for some time now.  This mom is way past ready to have that tube out of her nose!  I think it will be a little while for Harper Kate to learn how to eat by mouth, so the g-tube will be a feeding tube in her stomach.  It's a flat little button surgically put into her skin next to her belly button, and that connects right to her stomach to be fed.  Getting this g-tube tends to make reflux worse, so there is a surgical procedure that doctors will do pretty often with babies that have terrible reflux.  It's called a fundiplication.  I know, big words, but basically, they tighten her esophogus so that nothing is able to come up. :)  After these procedures, my little angel should be feeling MUCH better. 
  We head to Children's Hospital tomorrow for her surgery.  It will begin at 9:30 EST.  I'd ask for your prayers as we send our little angel into her first surgery.  As a momma, I'm a bit nervous, but I know she is going to be in wonderful hands.  I've been extremely impressed with everything we've had done at Scottish Rite so far.  Please pray for the procedure to be successful.  There is a chance that the fundiplication will not work if her reflux is that bad, but I'm certainly praying against that!  Also, pray for peace of mind for Jarod and me while we wait.  Once again, we have wonderful parents who will be coming to sit with us during her surgery.  I can't say enough how blessed we are to have family who takes care of Jarod and me while we take care of HK. :) 
  Other than that, therapy is continuing to go well.  Her neck is getting stronger by the day and her therapists are proud of her progress.  Her eyes are able to focus a short amount of time and she moves her eyes to find various sounds that she hears.  A very positive thing for Harper Kate is that her personality is extremely social.  That will really drive her to want to accomplish things because she wants to interact with her surroundings.
  I'll try to update by Thursday or Friday with how the surgery goes.  We will be in the hospital for a couple of days, so maybe I can update while I'm there.  Thanks for the prayers. 
Much love,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Part 2 of Harper Kate's Birthday

  I mentioned in the previous post that we had amazing family that drove from up to 8 hours away to come see the precious angel! I wanted to include some details about the day she was born that I left out of the previous post.  I'll begin once she was born.
  Once Harper Kate arrived and I was in recovery, Jarod went down to where our parents were waiting.  He was able to go out to the waiting area, let them know she was here and show them the picture from the NICU.  I think it was rumored that my dad, who is a doctor, was trying to get back to the NICU so he could see her.  haha....His connections didn't quite work in Georgia like they do in Alabama. :)  He was able, with everyone else, to go back and visit her later once she was settled.  Once I finished in recovery, I was wheeled up to my room where my mom, Tammy (my amazing mother-in-law), Abby (my sister in law) came and met me.  It was wonderful to finally see some familiar faces!  Jarod had taken my dad, Randy (my wonderful father-in-law) and Jackson (my brother-in-law) to see Harper Kate in the NICU.  I found out Jarod's brother Eric and his wife Kristen would be driving from Nashville after work that night to come visit & ALL THREE of my sisters were coming.  Mary Margaret & Katherine (2 of my sisters) live in Oxford and go to Ole Miss. They drove 4 hours to Birmingham, picked up my sister Carrie, and continued on to Atlanta (another 3 hours).  It was wonderful to have so much family come and visit us.  Jarod & I feel incredibly blessed to have so much family who wanted to come be with us once our little miracle arrived.  It was great to have family there to because at least talking to them and hanging out allowed me to get my mind off just "waiting" 12 hours to go see Harper Kate.  That night, Jarod & all our family went out to dinner at Figo Pasta  and left me for a nap.  It was nice to have a little peace & quiet for a couple hours.  Everyone left and headed to their hotel and our apartment to spend the night. :)
  The next morning, Jarod left the hospital to go home, get a shower, pack a few other things and while he was there his family worked with him to finish the nursery.  Remember earlier I said that this weekend Jarod's parents were supposed to be coming to finish the nursery. :)  hahaha...They hung the pictures, hung the video monitor and got all the details completed so that when we came home Harper Kate would have a beautiful room to sleep in.  While they were working, my mom, dad & sisters came to the hospital and sat with me and visited Harper Kate.  Eventually,my sisters had to leave.  Then, Jarod's family came up to the hospital and stayed for a little while.  Then, it was time for all of them to head home as well.  My mom and dad were able to stay until Sunday and when they left early Sunday afternoon I got a bit sad.  It was so hard to have them leaving when we knew it was a possibility we wouldn't be able to take Harper Kate home with us.
  Monday came and it was our day we were supposed to head home.  Harper Kate still wasn't off her oxygen, but the nurses thought she might be able to come home in the next few days.  That day was a hard, slow day because we just waited to see if we could stay one more night in the hospital.  They had something where if a room was open, you could stay in the room (with no nurse or food service) until your child came home from the NICU.  We hoped that would be sooner rather than later, but later that evening we would realize that it would be a while longer until we could bring our angel home with us.
  Here are some pictures from the hospital.  Thanks to all my sisters & sister-in-laws for sending me the pictures.  I wasn't the best picture taker while in the hospital. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Harper Kate's Birthday

  We woke up in the hospital Friday morning waiting for the doctor to come in & tell us what the monitors had shown overnight.  She came in and wanted the ultrasound tech to come down to the room and do another ultrasound just to be sure, but at this point we did finally hear that they were leaning toward taking Harper Kate early.  At 37 weeks, it wasn't too dangerous and felt that inside the womb was causing more stress than it would be outside the womb.
  Waiting for the tech to come seemed to take forever.  When she finally did come, we saw that Harper Kate's lungs still were not moving the way they were supposed to, therefore we knew at that point that we would meet our little miracle that day. We immediately called our moms and they were both ready to come.  Jarod's parents jumped in the car to head to Atlanta.  They had about 3 1/2 hours to get there as the c-section was going to take place at noon ET.  My dad had surgery & patients scheduled that day.  He called his nurse, Jan, who was a hero that day!  She canceled all patients, all surgery & he left the office, ran home, packed and headed to meet his first grandaughter.  All 4 grandparents made it just as we were going into the surgery.  We didn't get to see them before hand, but I knew they were going to make it.  The rest of our family was getting things together and were headed our way.  We are incredibly blessed to have siblings that would drive up to 8 hours in 1 day to come see us even if just for a night.
  The minute Jarod and I realized that we would be meeting Harper Kate, it became a bit surreal.  See, with a c-section, things are a bit different.  The nurse came in, started getting me ready and I had a couple hours before she would wheel me down to surgery.  I got my hair washed, put my make-up on so that I at least looked decent after surgery. :)  It was pretty calm.  Jarod and I were able to spend some time together talking before things got started.  Then, the anesthesiologist came down, gave me my epidural and numbed me up so I wouldn't feel anything.  We left the room and headed down to meet Harper Kate.  I remember wheeling into the room, Jarod had to wait while they prepped me.  Then, he came in, sat down by my head and the surgery began.  I must say it's pretty strange being awake while you're under surgery, but it seemed very quick & then, they announced "she's here."  I think I remember getting tears in my eyes when I heard that, but at this minute things began to blur & are still surreal to me.
  At this point, Harper Kate began to struggle.  I got a VERY QUICK glance at my baby and then the nurses and NICU doctor took her to the crib area.  I didn't realize what was going on, but apparently she was blue & they were trying to wave oxygen in front of her face to get her to breathe.  Jarod remembers thinking he wasn't sure that she was ok, but made sure to tell me that "yep, everything is fine."  They quickly took her to the NICU and that was it.  I didn't get to hold her, I saw her for about 3 seconds and then as quick as she had come, she wasn't there.  Jarod left with them to go register her in the NICU.  I finished up surgery and was taken to recovery.  There, as I heard the other families with their babies recovering, I lay there by myself while Jarod was making sure our daugher was ok.
   As I'm writing this, I think I am finally experiencing the emotions I never really let myself feel.  While I was lying there I was still tired, I wondered what all was going on, I was thinking about family.  I didn't really feel "disappointment" or "worry" at that point.  Yes, it's hard that I didn't experience the birth of my child in a normal way.  It upsets me that I didn't get to hold my daughter really until 12 hours after she was born. After surgery, you have to stay in your room until 12 hours after the surgery to make sure everything is ok.  So, I couldn't go to the NICU to see Harper Kate until midnight.  It's hard that my family members saw her really before I did, but what is the hardest is that as a mom, I couldn't be with her in the NICU while she was tested, poked, prodded and examined by all of the doctors.  Jarod was torn by being with me and checking on our daughter.  I know she was taken care of by the wonderful nurses in the NICU, but as a mom you want to be there making sure she is ok.
  Holding her at midnight for that first time was the greatest feeling in the world.  Jarod said that throughout the day as he had gone to visit her with our family members, she just would lay in her bed still.  When I went down to the NICU, and she heard my voice, Jarod said she started to move.  What an amazing thing that was for me to hear.  She knew her momma's voice and knew that I was there with her.  I was incredibly thankful to God for allowing her to know who I was at that point.
  Up until now, I really never wanted to share the first pictures that I saw of my daughter.  I don't know why and thought I would never share them with anyone, but since you all have seen what our precious angel looks like today, I thought I'd leave you with a couple pictures of our daughter from the first days we met her.  Of course, we thought she was beautiful, but what a blessing it is to see just how far she's come! 
  To this day, I stand amazed at how much God loves my daughter.  This past Sunday, we sang  "How He Loves."  I sat there with tears stinging my eyes realizing that although Harper Kate does have struggles, God allowed her to have those struggles.  That doesn't mean He doesn't love her as much as someone else.  In fact, I think that means He loves her more.  I don't understand why, I wish He wouldn't have allowed them, but He loves her just as she is and that love is incredibly powerful.  If anyone reading this blog doesn't know or understand the powerful love of Christ, I pray that you would come to discover it.  It is an amazing feeling to know you are loved by the creator of the universe!!  Today, I leave you with pictures of our angel and the song about God's love.  Have a blessed day!
Love, Courtney

This is a picture I got in my room of Harper Kate in the NICU.  I looked at this picture ALL DAY until I could go hold that angel!!! 
This was a picture taken the day after she was born.