December 27

Our Different Christmas

As early as September, I’ve been planning how our Christmas will be. I am more excited this year, since it will be our second born’s first Christmas. I had my Christmas shopping completed early and even planned outfits for everybody. Excitement was an understatement. I was ecstatic!
But fate has its ways of surprising you and totally taking you off course. 8 days before Christmas, our little baby was confined at the Pediatric ICU (PICU) because of broncho pneumonia; his second pneumonia confinement for the year (the other one was just last September). What we thought was just a day or two stay at the hospital turned out to be a ten day (and counting) confinement. His pneumonia is more difficult and more challenging than the previous one. And because his condition is not anywhere near good, his doctors confirmed to us that he will have to spend his very first christmas in the hospital.

Upon hearing the confirmation, I shed tears of sadness for our family. We ought to be together at home on Christmas day. With everything that our baby went thru this year, he deserves to be with his family on Christmas day, and the realization that it will not happen this year really broke my heart. To make things even more challenging for us, our baby had his two most terrifying asthma attacks on Christmas eve and Christmas day. I was beyond scared. I was shaken.
With our baby’s condition, many would ask, how can there be Christmas? As much as our situation is difficult, the whole experience humbled me. I felt that it allowed me to see the real essence of the season. Because when times are hard, all the glitz and glamour of the Yuletide season is shed. Gifts became less of a priority, grand festivities are no longer necessary. Things became simple and only the very important aspects of Christmas are left, and that is love, family, faith and most of all Jesus Christ. Christmas is not about us, it is about Him. Christmas day is all about Jesus Christ. It is a celebration of His life and what it stands for to save us. We celebrate because we honor and we love Him; despite the situation that we are in.

Despite the difficult challenge our family faced this year, yes Christmas was very much celebrated. Different, yes it is, but definitely more meaningful. I am still greatful to the Lord because we have our sons with us; we have our families; we have each other. We are still blessed.

September 2

Improving my Preemie’s feeding

With two months already at home with us, our main goal for our preemie baby is to gain weight and be able to catch up with those of 2 1/2 month old babies (his corrected age group). Now how do I know that  my baby is getting enough milk?
Baby Center.com says that if an infant is taking pure formula milk, the rule of thumb is to offer him 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of body weight each day. So if a baby, weighs 7lbs, he should drink a total of 17.5oz of milk in 24 hours. For breastfed babies, KellyMom says that  exclusively breastfed babies take in an average of 25 oz (750 mL) per day between the ages of 1 month and 6 months. Different babies take in different amounts of milk; a typical range of milk intakes is 19-30 oz per day (570-900 mL per day). Moms can also check out the bottle equivalent thru their website for the milk calculator. Based on my sample computation, a 7lb baby who takes in milk 8 times a day has to take in an average of 15.8oz a day with 2 to 2.2ozs per feeding.
My son is on mixed feeding, but either on formula or breastmilk, he does not meet his average requirement as computed thru the sites mentione above. The problem lies on two factors: he sleeps a lot the whole day, approximately 16-18 hours and his sucking reflexes are not very strong.
Since sleeping is something that we can not control, we (us parents and his neonatologist), decided to address his sucking reflexes concern. Small frequent feedings are a necessity and if he needs to be woken up from a good sleep, then so be it. His occupational therapist, Professor Cynthia Isaac, also suggested two sets of pressing exercises that aims to improve his sucking reflexes. One set is to be done once a day, and the other is set to be done 30 minutes prior to feeding. I will post a video of it once I got an approval from her.
Another helpful way to feed him when he’s too sleepy is to use a 1ml dropper. We only use a dropper to finish off  a 2oz bottled milk and to avoid spoilage, especially when what is being given is breastmilk.

These techniques proved to be very helpful, as my baby’s feeding already improved. He’s closed to achieving his minimum requirement.
Photo Credits: ehow.com

July 29

Mom Kat Recommends: MOMMY TREATS LACTATION COOKIES AND MUFFINS

Background from Mommy Treats website:

Mommy Treats Official Icon

Mommy Treats is the brain-child of a first-time mommy who was once in dire need of increasing her milk supply. After much researching for natural and non-pharmaceutical galactagogues (substances that help increase lactation), finding the perfect recipes, and having other mommies test my baked treats for both effectiveness and taste, I am so happy to finally provide lactating mommies the first, ever, lactation treats in the Philippines!

Mommy Treats offers LACTATION COOKIES, LACTATION MUFFIN BITES, and LACTATION CUPCAKE BITES that are packed with galactatgogues such as fiber-and-iron-rich oats, Omega-3-flowing flax seed, cholesterol-and-blood-sugar-lowing fenugreek, and Vitamin-B-packed brewer’s yeast! am so happy to finally provide lactating mommies the first, ever, lactation treats in the Philippines!

Mommy Treats offers LACTATION COOKIES, LACTATION MUFFIN BITES, and LACTATION CUPCAKE BITES that are packed with galactatgogues such as fiber-and-iron-rich oats, Omega-3-flowing flax seed, cholesterol-and-blood-sugar-lowing fenugreek, and Vitamin-B-packed brewer’s yeast!

Mommy Treats was introduced to me by Maricel of TheMedela House. I initially bought a sample pack of carrot walnut and banana walnut muffins. I was surprised that it is actually very yummy. For something that is healthy and nutritious, Mommy Treats surely made it so delicious fun to eat.
I am not one of those who are blessed with overflowing breastmilk, thus, the need to have supplements. Initally, I can only pump 1 to 1.5 ounces of milk on both breasts. But after trying these lactation treats, my milk supply did increase by .5 to 1 ounce of milk per pump! I was so pleased!
Mommy Treats Muffin Bites
I order her treats from her facebook account, which I found very useful and easy to work with. Now, she already has her own website which clients can also order from. Paola is very nice and accommodating to her clients. Upon texting her the proof of payment, she bakes the treats right away. I usually  have my treats a day after or at least 1.5 days after paying for them! Not only that, she usually gives a pack or two of free additional treats!
Mommy Treats Lactation Cookies
In termsof value for money, Mommy Treats offers a very reasonable price. Her goods are packed on a per day basis serving and costs P60 per pack. But if you order in large amounts, she gives discounts. This is reasonable compared to buying formula milk to supplement your breastmilk. I usually order one month supply of treats which are a mix of muffins and oatmeal cookies
I’ve been ordering Mommy Treats’ yummy goodies for 4 months now and intend to continue to do so! My personal favorites are the carrot walnut muffin and the banana walnut muffin. Now that the neonatologist of my son already allowed me to eat chocolates, I can not wait to try her brownies, choco chip cookies and choco cup cake bites!
With the delicious and healthy way of increasing my milk, together with Paola’s very good customer service, I give Mommy Treats a two thumbs up! I definitely recommend her treats to all breastfeeding moms!
You can visit her website at http://www.mommytreats.ph/

Her facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/#!/mommytreats

Photo Credits: http://www.mommytreats.ph/

July 24

Life after NICU

I was out of the loop the past couple of weeks because a major milestone happened in our lives. Last July 6, we finally get to bring home our son, Hendrix, after 3.5months of stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It was the day that we have all been waiting for and his first day at home felt like his birthday.

The first few days at home were an adjustment for all of us. We know Hendrix was adjusting to the new environment as well because he was fuzzy and cranky and can not seem to get a good sleep. I know he misses his NICU home with all the sounds of equipments, buzzers, babies crying and of course, the voices and touches of all his nurses and resident doctors. I think the one thing that helped with his transition at home is his music from his MP3 player which we played in his incubator and bassinet during his confinement in the hospital. At home, with the music being played, it soothes him because it is the one familiar thing amidst all the new things around him.

Cleanliness is a major factor now that he’s already at home. His room is like a sterile area in the house.  Everyone is required t o wash their hands and sanitize with alcohol before holding him. if suspected with a cold, one is not allowed to  enter his room, or if necessary, she is required to wear a mask. We still have not allowed any visitors yet to avoid exposing him to viruses or any sicknesses. We are greateful to our relatives and friends who had been very understanding of the situation. We promise that as soon as he gets really strong we will welcome visitors to see him.

As  a mom, the major adjustment is on my sleeping hours. Despite being almost four months old, his corrected age (because he is a preemie) is that of a one month old baby, and therefore his sleeping patterns are still erratic and that of a newborn’s. When Hendrix is asleep, I then attend to his four year old brother, who, thank heavens is also very understanding of our situation. I would find myself having only about 2-4 hours of sleep everyday. Good thing, I’m blessed with a husband and mother-in law who are willing to take turns with me in the morning.

When he was discharged, he has a long list of medications and vitamins. It was tough to keep up at first but later I was able to get the hang of giving all his medications on time. Then there is also his massage therapy that I have to do twice a day to improve his eating habits. Eventually, I will have to teach his caregiver these before I go back to work in August.

With him being at home now, his feeding is  no longer scheduled but rather given on a per demand basis. He is purely breastfed, but on certain times of the day he drinks breastmilk via his preemie feeding bottles because either I’m sleeping or a medicine needs to be mixed in his milk. But most of the time latches directly to me.

it has been three weeks now and slowly, everyone has adjusted to Hendrix’s presence at home, After months of waiting and praying, now we can finally say that our family is complete! Thank God!

June 29

Our Everyday Miracle

Life of a preemie parent has a lot of “ups” and “down” days. Yesterday I had my “down” then “up” day. It started in the morning when I was feeling down because all the babies that were with our son at Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) had gone home. Babies come and go but our son is still there, 3.5 months after. It’s a mixed feeling actually because I’m so happy for these babies and their parents that they finally get to be together but I’m sad for us because my son is still in NICU, waiting for the day when he will be with his family. 

 

But something happened which made me realize that the only feeling that I should be dwelling on now is that of pure joy and gratitude. Yesterday, a baby boy was admitted to the NICU while I was there to visit our son. He’s 29-weeks old, 3weeks older than our son who was born 26 weeks into gestation. There was total panic inside the NICU as nurses and doctors rushed to attend to the baby boy. The baby does not look good upon birth with all his bruises in the body and lung weakness. He came out abruptly and thus no medicine has been given to the mom prior to giving birth to at least strengthen his lungs and other organs. Later in the afternoon, I asked for the condition of the baby and the nurse told me that the baby might not survive and will probably expire in a few hours. His chances for survival is very low.

I felt weak upon hearing those. I felt deeply sad for the baby for he will not be able to see his parents faces or even feel their warmth as they hold him. I felt sad for his parents because they will no longer see their son smile, laugh, walk and grow up. It was a very very sad feeling at the NICU yesterday.

After I said a short prayer for the baby boy, I went back to my sleeping son and stared at him. I realized how blessed we are to still have him 3.5 months after the ordeal he went thru. How blessed we are that we are now able to carry him, see him smile and hear him cry so loud wherein months ago we didn’t even know if he will survive another day! How blessed we  are that our son has won over all the possible complications of his prematurity; that he is now healthy compared to his condition months ago when we were worried about the development of several of his vital organs! The list goes on and on but only one thing remains, we are trully blessed because our son is alive! We have experienced God’s miracle first-hand thru our son. It does not matter how long he fought, what matters is how he survived it all!

Now, the feelings left are that only of immense joy and gratitude! I only have excitement and anticipation for the time that we will be abe to bring home our little miracle bundle of joy! It may not be sooner than I expected but I do know that in God’s perfect time he will be with us at home soon!

 

May 28

Preparing to Give Birth to a Preemie

Just like every expecting mom, I never imagined that I will deliver a prematurebaby, most of all a micro preemie who’s only six months into gestation. Moms who have the most potential to deliver a premature baby are those whose pregnancies are classified as high-risk. You are considered high-risk if your pregnancy involves any of the following:
  • Problems with the placenta
  • Pregnancy with twinsor more
  • Infection in the mother
  • Problems with the uterus or cervix
  • Young or old maternal age
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Having had problems in previous pregnancies
  • Pre-existing health conditions, such as high blood pressure, dabetes
  • Medical condition pregnancy related such as preeclampsia, eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
In my case, I qualify in three items above. I have infection, problems with my placenta, uterus, cervix and I had problems in my previous pregnancy. From the start, my pregnancy was already considered as high risk. If you qualify in any of the conditions above, or your OB-Gyne already advised you of a possible pre-term delivery, then here are the factors that you might want to consider: a.    Find a hospital near your home.

Chances are, you will go home first before your baby. It will be convenient if your hospital is near your home so you can visit and breastfeed your baby several times a day.

b.    Check if your hospital has a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Not all hospitals have NICU so it is best to check out if your hospital has one. It will be a hassle and also dangerous for the baby to be transported just because the hospital does not have NICU facilities. Even public hospitals have NICU such as Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC), Philippine General Hospital (PGH), etc…, so it does not mean that you have to be in a private hospital.

c.    Scout for a good neonatologist.
Preemies have different needs and management compared with full term babies so pediatricians may not give them the special care that they need. Neonatologist are trained to handle premature babies and their conditions. Our neonatologist is Dra. Tita Uy who was referred to us by my OB-Gyne. She is from St. Luke’s Medical Center and Philippine General Hospital. With the help of the internet, you can find referrals from mommy forums. Ours got good comments from her patients.

d.    Breastfeeding is a must!
For all babies, it is best to breastfeed, but most importantly for preemies. Their tummies are not strong enough to process infant formula. Breast milk has nutrients that can make babies strong which no vitamins or formula milk can provide. Most, if not all neonatologist require breast milk for preemies. There are available breast milk in some hospitals but they are expensive. Even more expensive than buying formula milk. So why spend loads of money if you can have it for free?

e.    Prepare financially.
How I wish that we can just forget about finances and just focus on our babies. But sadly, that is not reality. Delivering a premature baby can be really expensive from cost of delivery, to baby’s confinement inside the NICU.

Just like in every scenario in our lives, it is best to be prepared. But remember, these points are not meant to scare or cause stress to pregnant moms. These are just things you might want to consider if your pregnancy is high risk. In the end, it is always best to have a full term pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby.

 

April 26

A most awaited moment…

Since giving birth to my son a month and a half ago, my daily routine includes going to the hospital and visiting my son Hendrix. Everyday I talk to him, caress his body, watch him sleep, hold his little hands and feet. But yesterday, a big change in my daily visit happened.
The joyous moment of mother holding her baby happens upon birth for most moms, but for me, I waited 41 days for it to happen. And it was just as magical. This time no glass incubator separates us. I held him close to me, kissed him and smelled him. I know Hendrix is happy too because he smiled several times. It was a moment that I did not want to end. It was the day I will forever remember.
In God’s time I know that soon we will be able to bring Hendrix home. I am very much looking forward to that day when I get to hold him and be with him the entire day; singing him lullabies, calming him when he cries and putting him to sleep. Hendrix is getting better and I know the best is yet to come.

 

April 8

Faith… Total Surrender

With our Baby Hendrix in the Neonatal ICU, the past three weeks had been a roller coaster of emotions. Some days are up, some are down. There are several instances when we celebrate over some developments then just a few hours later cry over negative updates from his doctor. As a result, despite receiving some good news, I would find myself crying and worrying if it will be followed by disappointing news as well.
Last weekend was definitely one of those days. The Doctor reported a major setback. At that point, additional medicines or procedures were not advisable. The only thing to do is to observe and wait if Hendrix can fight it out.
For someone like me who is used to taking control of things, it is difficult to just wait. I plan everything. And when things do not go my way, I get really upset. And with Hendrix, I already expected a miracle, because of all the prayers we’ve been receiving from family, relatives, friends, relatives, prayer groups, even from people we do not know. I expected his Doctor to tell me “We do not know how it happened, but your son is perfectly healthy!” But it did not happen and I was disappointed. Very disappointed.
In the middle of these emotions, I read the bible to find some comfort. And the verses I read in both books of Matthew and Mark, tell how people’s faith in God allowed them to be healed by Jesus.
Matthew 9:27 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored.
Mark 10:52 “Go” said Jesus. “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Reading these verses was the enlightenment that I needed. It made me realize that even thru prayers I was still trying to take control of things. I want things exactly my way; that I refuse “No” as answer. Reading these verses opened up my eyes and heart. I need to have faith and faith means total surrender. I have to believe that God will heal my son; and that God knows what is best for my son.
After reading the bible, I meditated and prayed. And when I opened my eyes, I felt relieved. I felt like a heavy weight has been taken from my shoulders. I have faith. I believe. I surrender.
Hendrix’s condition is improving as days go by. It is not perfect yet, but having that renewed faith allowed me to be thankful and be happy for the good news, and take calmly any problems that come our way. We are taking it one day at a time.
And if you’re wondering about the major setback I mentioned above, yes, Hendrix was able to fight it out. Thank God! A blessed easter to everyone!