"Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to you, each other, your children, your grand-children and others throughout the generations. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events." --President Spencer W. Kimball

January 31, 2012

Stinky Nose

So for the last few weeks, my Lautala's nose has been so so so so stinky....I can't even describe how stinky it has been....eeewwwwww....gross.....BAD!  Everytime I pick her up to kiss her, I get a whif of her stinky nose.  She's been picking her nose a lot lately and so I thought she had scratched the inside and it had become infected or something.  Everyday, like 3 times a day, I would stick a Q-tip inside to clean it out and then I'd put neosporin on the other end of the Q-tip and roll it around in her nose, in hopes of healing whatever wound she had inside.  Mind you this has been going on for weeks now.  Just the past couple days she's started to cough and get a runny nose.  Her cough is not too bad, but bad enough for me to worry.....espeically because baby Katea might have come home this week.  I gave her ibuprofen which totally helped and every night before she slept I'd rub Vick's vapor rub on her nose and her chest, which let her have a good nights sleep.

This morning when I woke up, I called to schedule an appointment with her pediatrician....I just wanted to clear up any sickness she might have before baby comes home....and to find out why the heck her nose was SOOOOOO stinky. 

We got to her appointment and they had me take all her clothes off so they could get a weight, height and temp.  Then they had us wait in the room for her pediatrician to come in.  It was a pretty long wait because they were pretty busy, so we kept ourselves occupied by taking pictures with my phone camera....she was being so funny!  She was posing and she kept saying "mom, another one.......mom, another one" after ever picture I snapped.  She's so cute!  Haha

Once Dr. Templeman came in, he asked me what was going on.  I explained to him that her nose was so stinky, and it had been for a while.  The neosporin I was putting up there didn't seem to be working at all.  He asked me if she had anything up there.  It honestly never really crossed my mind that something would be inside her nose.....especially since she had a runny nose and it was running out of that nostril a lot.  I didn't think anything could be up there, or it would block the snot from running out.  He had me lay her across my lap as he looked into her nose with his little flashlight.  Tala was such a good girl, she cooperated and didn't cry at all.  Dr. Templeman said he thought he might have seen something so he was going to grab some tweezers and see if he could get it out.  He just stuck the end of the tweezers into her nose, pinched slightly and you would never believe what he pulled out......a 2 inch long peice of a sponge....covered in blood and boogers.  I about died.  It was so big, I can't believe that was in her little nose....and for who knows how long!  As soon as he pulled it out, Tala sat up and said "tank you doctor", she finally had some relief.  I felt so horrible and I just kept saying sorry to her.  Her pediatrician told me not to feel bad, that this actually happens a lot.  He was telling me that the really bad ones are when the kid has gone for months and months without the parents even noticing.....I can't even imagine, especially with how stinky hers was after only a couple weeks.  Ewww. 

Sad to say that because it had been in there that long, it was infected (hence the smell) so I was partially right, and the infection in that nostril spread and caused her to have a slight ear infection on that same side as well.  He told me that was the reason her nose was running and she had a little cough.  He prescribed her an antibiotic that she has to take twice a day for ten days, and then she'll be as good as new!  How crazy!

After we left the pediatrician's office, while we were on our way home, I got a call from baby Katea's NNP.  She called to let me know what they had talked about in their rounds this morning.  She told me they had been going back and forth on whether they should count the bradicardic episode she had yesterday.  Some said no, it shouldn't be counted because of the added stress factors, and others said yes we should count it because her oxygen saturations dropped down in the 20's and it took them turning up her oxygen and the flow....and about 2 minutes of stimulation for her to get out of it.  It was just too severe to not count it.  They all finally decided that yes, they were going to count it.  That meant that the 7 day count had to start all over again.  :-(  The NNP, Jolene, said that she would have felt really bad if she passed her eye exam and they were just waiting on this count for her to go home....BUT she didn't pass her eye-exam.  :-(  Usually eye-exam day is on Wednesday, but their old optimologist, Dr. Larson took a job somewhere else, and his replacement is going to come on Monday's instead....so today was the big day.  Even though her eyes are not mature yet, and are not yet at a zone 3, they have improved a lot!  What once was stage 2 ROP has improved and is now only at stage 1!  That is awesome news!  The higher the stage of ROP, the more damage done to the blood vessels in the eyes....going back to stage 1 meant her eyes were healing themselves, and that's great!  He drew a picture of how much farther she had to go to reach zone 3 developmentally....and really it's not too far.  Hopefully the next eye-exam on Monday will show mature eyes. 

So for sure she's not coming home this week....which is a bummer, but in a way I think it's one of God's tender mercies, a blessing in disguise.  It allows time for my Lautala to get rid of her cough and runny nose, and to get better so baby Katea won't be at risk for being around her.  So, as much as I was sad to hear it wouldn't be this week....I was really happy and relieved that I didn't have to have that stress of trying to keep them away from each other at home!  There's ALWAYS a positive side to every situation....I choose to focus on that!  :-)  Here's to hoping that my kids at home get better and my baby in the hospital will progress.....in time for her to come home NEXT week!

January 30, 2012

Possible Set-back

Today baby Katea had a bradicardic episode.  :-(  She has to go 7 days without any episodes before she can come home....so technically that would mean she has to start the countdown over again.  We were so excited thinking she might be able to come home on Thursday.....but now it could be pushed back until Monday.  I say "could be" because they're questioning whether they're going to count it or not.  They are taking into consideration that she's been getting her 4 month immunizations and she hasn't been able to poop for a few days so she's been bearing down a lot....just a couple things that could have caused her to have an episode, making it not totally just because she's a preemie and has immature lungs, meaning not totally her fault.  I have mixed feelings about whether they should count it or not too........not counting it means she still could come home on Thursday.....but then again if she's not ready, I'm terrified for her to come home.  Tough choice.  We decided to leave it up to the Neonatalogist to decided tomorrow morning in rounds.  As much as I want her to come home, I really want her to be ready.  Her nurse Meredith has this term "running to heaven" when she refers to her bradicardic events.  Just because having an event consists of her not breathing and her heart rate dropping significantly (like she's dying)......please baby girl, no more "running to heaven"......your sister is already there, just stay here with mommy! 

Today she hit 8lbs.11oz. and she grew 2 centimeters in length and now measures 21 1/2 inches long. She's so big!  I bet she'll be 9lbs. before she comes home!  It's funny because when I first had her and she was only 1 pound.  I told the nurses that she needed to be at least 8 or 9 pounds before I took her home because I wouldn't know what to do with a baby that's smaller than that.  All my older 3 were at least 9 pounds.  They all just laughed at me and told me she'd probably be around 5 pounds when she goes home.  Guess I must have wished too hard!  Haha 

She's doing really well though, and I really am proud of her!  As she gets closer to home, I've been getting more and more emotional.  I've kind of become accustomed to the NICU life....going to the hospital everyday, talking with all the nurses, making friends....I know I've been saying I can't wait to bring her home, but at the same time I really am going to miss all the friends I've made there.  Ova laughs everytime we go because I know everybody by name, and I have conversations with the nurses, other NICU parents, RT's and just anyone I run into from the time we start scrubbing in until we get to baby's room.  I'm going to miss that!  Just tonight my sister Leslie and I were hanging out with baby Katea and one of the nurses that took care of her a few days ago stopped by to see how she was doing, and to talk to me.  Her name is Katie and she's so sweet.  I totally started crying when she stopped by....just gonna miss all the love and friendship me and my baby gets from EVERYONE at the NICU.  They are amazing people and I really LOVE them!

Tomorrow will tell if it will be Thursday or if we have to start the countdown again.  That is, of course, assuming she'll pass her eye exam.  We're at the last of it....the bitter end....can't believe it's been 4 months.  My life has definitely been changed.  I am blessed!

January 28, 2012

4 Months

I thought for her 4 month birthday post I'd do a comparison post.  Just to show how much she has grown and progressed in the 4 months she's been alive.  Her growth and progress is so amazing and she's come so far.  She's pretty much quadrupled her size and weight, and she's doing so well!  I'm so grateful for her nurses for getting her to where she's at.  She's perfect.  She's amazing!

1 Week   -   2 Months   -   4 Months
1 Week   -   2 Months   -   4 Months
1 Month                                                                          4 Months
1 Week                                                                          4 Months

Happy 4 Month Birthday my dear sweet baby Katea!  You've made amazing progress, I'm so proud of you...... you'll be home really soon!  I love you!

January 26, 2012

Almost there!

Today was the big day.....the day of the eye exam.

I was a nervous wreck for some reason.  I didn't really sleep all night.  I don't usually go to sleep until the wee hours of the morning anyway, but last night was worse.  It was 4am and I was still awake.  Everyone in my house was dead asleep.  I decided to turn off my computer, turn off the tv and try to go to sleep.  That didn't work.  I laid in the complete darkness, just crying....thinking about my baby girl.  I really don't know why I was being so dramatic....I'd never really acted like that before.  I guess that's where I'm really blessed....I get somewhat of an escape from the stress of the NICU, because life at home is crazy and I have a husband and 3 kids at home to keep me busy and occupy my mind.  I think that's how I stay sane, being able to not have to think about the NICU 24-7 (even though it really never leaves my mind).  I just kept thinking about how she's 4 months old tomorrow.  And even though the time has gone by relatively fast.....it has been so long and I just want her to come home already.

She spent Halloween in the NICU
She spent Thanksgiving in the NICU
She spent Christmas in the NICU
She spent New Years in the NICU
She spent her 1st, 2nd, 3rd and will spend her 4th month birthday there.....

I guess at that time I was laying in the darkness crying to myself last night, I was just tired.  I ended up falling asleep at about 6am, only to wake up at 740am to get Makai ready for school....and I never really went back to sleep after that.  I woke up still crying, and staring at the clock.  I had been told that Dr. Larson, the optimologist, would be there at 9am to do the eye-exam.  I called the nurse before 9am and asked her to PLEASE get more specific answers from the optimologist.  For the last few eye-exams he's been saying she's a zone 2 developmentally, and stage 2 ROP.  I wanted to know if she was at least almost at a zone 3, or if she was still far away.  I didn't want just a broad answer of zone 2.  She assured me she would get the clarification and that she would call me right after the exam.  That was it, that was all I could do....I had prayed, cried, begged....and all I had left to do was wait for the results.

9 o'clock came and went....10 o'clock, 11 o'clock......seriously??!!  No call.  Ova and I ended up going into the NICU and my heart was pounding.  I had been really emotional all morning (probably a mix of anticipation and lack of sleep) and I had that knot in my throat.  I'd pretty much decided that I was going to cry either way.  If her eyes were developed, I would cry because I was happy.....if her eyes weren't developed I would cry sad tears.  It didn't really turn out how I expected.  We walked into her room and there was a paper sitting on her table.  It was the notes from rounds from that morning.  On the top was written:

Almost zone 3
Follow-up in 1 week
When at zone 3, ok to go home with oxygen

Then her nurse walked in and said in a very happy voice "did you hear the great news?"  She proceeded to tell me that Dr. Larson said she is so so close to zone 3.....he even said it was so close he could smell it!  The happy and excited attitude of her nurse took that knot out of my throat and I didn't even cry (shocker!)....just another example of why I LOVE the NICU nurses!!  Even though it wasn't the best news....it was good news because it meant she has made progress and we are so close!  My attitude changed and I was so happy!   Dr. Larson also said that her ROP is already getting better!  Such a good sign! 

Another HUGE bit of good news.  They weined her oxygen!  They had been writing in her orders that she doesn't tolerate less than 1 liter of flow....but when I was talking to Anjanette about it the other night, we realized that they never really ever tried going less than a liter.  We can't rightfully say she doesn't tolerate it if we never let her try.  So yesterday they turned her down to 3/4 liter......and she did so well with that that today she went down to 1/2 liter!  HUGE PROGRESS!!

Basically all we're waiting for is next Wednesday's eye-exam (hoping she's at a zone 3)
That she goes 7 days without any bradicardic episodes (she's on day 3 now)

That could mean that potentially she'll be able to come home as early as next week.  I can't believe it!  Her lung disease has definitely been a huge struggle....but I am SO SO SO grateful that that really is her ONLY struggle!  Way to go my little fighter, you're amazing and I love you so much!

January 24, 2012

Confidence is good, right?!!

So I woke up the other morning and I heard Latala talking to herself.  She was talking quietly, almost as if she was trying to hide something.  When she gets really quiet, it usually means she's getting into trouble....but this time was a little different.  I got out of bed only to find her at the end of the bed staring at herself in the my mirror....she was making all these little kissy faces to herself and saying "Tala so butiful"  It was the cutest thing!  I asked her "Tala, what are you doing?"  She smiled big and showed me the mirror and said "Mommy, Tala butiful".....then she went back to looking at herself in the mirror.  I just had to grab my camera and take a picture of her.  She's so fie'lelei!

My picture taking didn't stop her from admiring how pretty she is......ummm, I think we've instilled that into her little head pretty well....lol.  She is our pretty little princess and we tell her ALL THE TIME!  Lol.

                                                                                      When I got to the hospital that afternoon, I walked into baby Katea's room and what was she doing??  She was staring at herself in the mirror!  haha  We bought her this cute little alligator mirror that plays music, and it hangs on the side of her crib.  Since she's getting so much older, she really enjoys listening to the music and looking at herself in the mirror.  Stacey was her nurse that day and said that Katea was being so funny....she was wide awake, and super content just staring at herself in the mirror, and she was even smiling at herself.  The music was playing and she was looking at herself....then when the music stopped she started getting fussy.  As soon as we turned the music back on, she calmed down and just went right on staring at herself.  We were joking that we know she can see, because she stares at herself all the time ....and we know she can hear because she gets irritated when the music stops.  Lol!

Needless to say, I have two little divas who think they are just so beautiful and like to stare at themselves in the mirror all day long.  Confidence is good right??!!  :-)  At least it's innocent and cute at this young age, I think?!!  haha

January 23, 2012

Crossing my Fingers

This week is a BIG week for baby Katea and for our little family.

First off, my baby girl hit 8lbs!!  Can't believe she's gained almost 7lbs. in almost 4 months!  She's so chubby now, she has the fattest little cheeks (both ends) and her once chicken legs are filling in quite well!  We actually had to move her up to a size 1 diaper because she's getting so many rolls around her upper thighs!  haha  I was going through all the little keepsakes I kept for her since she's been born and I was trippin at the diapers I've kept....I just had to line them up to take a picture so you could see how big her little bum has gotten...lol!  And the biggest diaper in this picture is only a preemie diaper...she's grown out of newborn and is into size 1!!!

Wednesday is her next eye-exam....the results if her eyes are mature, mean she could come home!  If they are not....it's 2 more weeks for sure!  Crossing my fingers and praying for developed eyes!  Usually eyes are one of the last things to develop....since baby Katea was born so early, her eyes still haven't matured.  Since she'll have to go home on oxygen, we NEED her eyes to develop.  She cannot go home on oxygen if her eyes are not developed because high amounts of oxygen dialate and damage the blood vessels in the back of the eye and could cause blindness.  The oxygen she gets in the NICU is blended oxygen, the oxygen I will have to take her home with is 100% oxygen.  Please eyes, be developed!  As much as I love the NICU staff here, and especially the nurses......4 months is a LONG time to be in the hospital, and I just want to take my baby home!

Thursday is her 4 month birthday!  I can't believe it's been that long.  Honestly, it's gone by pretty quickly....but coming to the hospital every single day, sometimes twice a day is getting old, and I'm getting tired.  I just want to take my baby home!

Today when I got here, she was wide awake and super content laying in her crib.  She wasn't fussy at all, she was just looking around everywhere.  I picked her up to hold her and I talked to her for a little while.  She had more control of her eyes now, and sometimes I think she really sees me and is looking at me when I talk to her.  She was staring at the wall behind me and I was wondering what she was looking at.  I turned around to look and saw the posters we made of her brothers and sister.  She was looking at them.  I started talking to her about her brothers and sisters and telling her how they can't wait for her to come home.  The last time her brothers saw her, she was still in her incubator....it was back in November!  And her older sister hasn't even met her yet.  Lautala knows that I go to the hopsital everyday to see baby Katea, and she says her name whenever I show her pictures....but I don't think she realizes that it's her little sister and that she's coming home to be with us forever! 

The NNP today was Terri, she's so sweet and I love it when she's on because she's so positive and she ALWAYS takes time to come sit in the room with me for a little while, telling me what the plans are and how baby is doing.  Today she gave me some really good news!  She said that she had been calling around to see if they could send baby Katea home on 1 liter of oxygen.  Usually the protocol is that they have to be on less than 1/2 liter to go home....but baby still NEEDS 1 liter.....with anything less, she brady's and de-sats like crazy.  She was telling me that if she was only 2 months, they wouldn't even think about it, but she's 4 months old.  She'll do better at home....she'll grow better at home, so they got approval that IF.....and that's a BIG FAT IF.... her eyes are mature she can go home on 1 liter!  Wow, we're so close!  The only other thing that would keep her from going home is her bradicardic episodes.  She has to go 7 days, 1 full week without having any.  She just had one today.  :-(  I had the nurses check and unfortunatly she's never gone a full week without any.  She has gone 6 days, and then had one on the morning of the 7th day.  It's just another struggle we have to deal with.  Her eyes and her episodes are what's keeping her here at the hospital.  The good news is her episodes are few and farther between than before....so that's progress.....but 7 days is what we need!  Studies show that if a baby can go 7 days without any episodes, they usually won't have anymore.  7 days!

I love how loved my baby girl is!  It's really comforting to me to see how many people really care about her...how many nurses and RT's stop by her room just to see how she's doing, even if they're not assigned to take care of her.  I love it when I walk into her room and her nurse is holding her or playing on the floor mat with her.  She's such a good baby, she really never cries unless she's hungry....which is rare for a preemie who's been through so much trauma....I'm told that the majority of them are irritated and hard to calm.  Not my baby girl, she's such a good girl!  We've been in the NICU for a long time, and she's made so many friends!  I love it!  Just today while I was talking to Terri, Jen the developmental specialist walked in to check on her.  She sat and talked with me for a while and then she made a comment to baby Katea "you're so big, and so beautiful....if your mom wasn't here, I'd totally snuggle with you for a little bit".....I laughed and told her she could hold her.  It was so cute because I passed her to Jen and she snuggled her for a little bit while I just sat across from her.  She is so loved and I am so grateful!

People always ask me how I'm doing, and I'm hanging in there.  I'm tired, I won't lie, but I'm hanging in there.  My little miracle is amazing.  She's so strong and has so much fight.  I find my strength from her.  Thank you baby Katea for fighting so hard, for being so strong and for showing your mommy that everything is going to be ok!  I love you!  Crossing my fingers and toes that we'll get good news on Wednesday!

January 22, 2012

Torture or Therapy??

I was reading a friends blog the other day.....she is a NICU mom of a 23 weeker.  She's an amazing and strong woman, and her daughter...a true miracle.  She posted a couple links to stories of other families who have had preemies or kids with rare diseases.  I read both the articles and bawled my eyes out the whole time I was reading them......and for quite a long time afterwards.  These stories tug hard at my heart strings and I feel like somewhat, in some small way....I know exactly what they are feeling.

One of the links was an obituary.  It was titled "Our little Superman".  It was for a little boy, 5 years old who had passed away due to a heart issue.  He was a preemie, born at 24 weeks.  He spent 9 months in the hospital after he was born, but he was a happy and normal kid at home.  He was fun and loving...never complained.....and he loved his brother and playing with his iPad.   This story hit so close to home and even though I don't know him, I feel connected to him.  I can't even imagine.

Lately I've been finding myself surfing the internet.  Sometimes I google search or look for other blogs or stories that parent's have written about their NICU experiences.  I've found a lot, actually, and I can spend hours upon hours reading their experiences and seeing what they're going through, how they cope, their outlook on their situations...how their faith comes into play.  All situations are different, none are the same......finding other stories fascinate me!  This whole NICU experience has shown me a whole new world that I didn't even know existed.  It's a very special world, with miraculous kids, patient and strong parents....loving and kind medical staff...and all different kinds of outcomes.

Not all stories I find have happy endings....like little Superman who lived for 5 years, but recently passed away.  But I still like to read them.

As we were driving home from the hospital last night, I brought up the stories to Ova.  I almost couldn't even tell him the story because I was crying so hard....he got a little emotional too, just because little Superman and baby Katea started their stories the same.  He told me I should stop reading those things.  He doesn't understand why I want to read them....why I want to make myself cry.....why torture myself?  I don't see it like that.  We both handle our experience very differently.  He is strong and only sees the positive.  He hates hearing other people's experiences, especially if they don't have a happy ending.  He just wants to focus on our baby girl, how far she's come, and how well she's doing.  I, on the other hand like meeting and talking to other NICU mom's.  I love sharing my story (even though I cry the whole time) and I love hearing other people's stories.  Of course my heart breaks at the struggles, the steps backwards, the sad endings.....but those situations are real, and they happen to real people.  I don't see it as torture, I see it as my way to cope.  Finding other people who have been where I'm at right now....people who have struggled, cried, worried, stressed, celebrated and rejoiced....helps me feel like I'm not alone.  Theses amazingly strong mothers give me strength and hope.  They strengthen my testimony.  Some of the stories I come across make me grateful......grateful that my baby girl is doing so well.  I've been able to read and see some of the many things that could have gone wrong with her....but they didn't....that in itself is a miracle!  I can't help but think of the little boy who was born around the same time my baby Katea....same gestation and everything...who didn't make it.  I think of parents who have to deal with the unknown of the future....if their kids will ever walk, or talk....if they will have to outlive their kids.....if their kids will have full lives, or if some complications of being a preemie will hinder them.  I'm grateful that I don't have to worry about those things....and in a way, I feel guilty about it.  I know that sounds crazy, but I don't have to worry about those severe things that other parent's have to.....all I'm worrying about is whether my baby Katea will have asthma, or have to wear glasses.  It doesn't seem fair, but it does make me realize how blessed I am, and how grateful I need to be.

I find a lot of strength and comfort in my religion.  In the power of the priesthood and the blessings both me and my daughter have received.  I find comfort in knowing that my family is forever, and even though my baby Katea's twin sister didn't make it....she's in heaven and we'll be with her again.  I wish so bad that I could share that hope with some of these families who stories I read.  There are a lot of them who feel lost and hopeless....angry and questioning why?  I don't know why, but I don't question it either.  Someone once said to me "you are a strong person, that's why God trusted you with your precious little miracle".....I believe that.  I don't think I'm strong, and in fact, I'm probably the biggest crybaby ever....but it's amazing how even though you don't think you can handle it.....you do.  I would have never thought in a million years I would be able to handle something like this, but I am.  I have to.   I want to.  I can!  I can only hope and pray that someone else in my situation, maybe right now or maybe down the road, will stumble across my blog and find strength and hope from me....like I do from so many others!

January 21, 2012


A few months ago, not to long after baby Katea was born, Ova and I had this converstation.  He asked me if I wanted to bless baby at the hospital.  I was quiet and didn't respond at first....a million things were running thorough my mind.  I was thinking yes, and then no, and then yes.....and then I just started crying.  It's funny because even though I had that converstation silently in my mind, Ova knew exactly what I was thinking.  Yes, I did want to bless her, give her a name and a blessing that would help her continue to fight and grow and overcome all the obstacles she will face.....but at the same time No.  No because some small part of me thought that if we blessed her in the hospital, instead of waiting until she came home, it might mean that we think she won't make it home.  It sounds stupid and silly, I know.....but the feelings were real and I just didn't want to think about that, especially since we had just buried Cindy's little body.  We talked about it for a little while and went back and forth between yes and no.  Basically he was feeling and thinking the exact same things I was, and our final decision that day was to wait at least until she got out of her incubator, when people can actually touch her.....and then we'd talk about it again.

She's been in an open crib now for almost 2 months.  Even though it's been on my mind since the day she got out of her incubator, the conversation never came up.  One day, a few days ago, when baby Katea wasn't having the best day.....I had an overwhelming feeling that she NEEDED her blessing.  She has done so amazingly well, she's overcome so many things and grown so much, but I felt like she needed that extra little push to help her out, keep her going, and to get her home.  I talked to Ova about it, and we talked to our Dad's and we decided we we would do it on Sunday January 15th. 

The NICU limits visitors to only 3 people in the room at one time, and one of those 3 has to be the parent, but they make special exceptions when it comes to blessings.  You can have as many people as you want for a blessing, the only stipulation was that nobody could be sick....no coughs, no runny noses, no itchy throats....and nobody in their houses could be sick........and they couldn't be in there too long.  I think that was one of the things that had me hung up on whether we should do it in the hospital, or waiting until she came home, I had a really strong feeling that our families needed to be a part of it.  Hearing that they would allow more than just the 3 visitors made me so happy.  I obviously wasn't going to invite a ton of people....that would just be crazy, but we are polynesian and we have BIG families....all we wanted was our Bishop, our dad's and our brothers......and that's exactly who we had.  It was perfect!

My father-in-law gave the blessing.  It was beautiful and I cried the whole time.  He blessed every single part of her body....and he named them one by one as he blessed them.  He talked about how she was a blessing, a miracle, and the way she came into this world was a lesson.....a lesson for her grandparents, her cousins, her aunts and uncles.....but especially for her parents.  He blessed that through her our testimonies would be strengthened and our faith would grow.  It was a beautiful blessing and the spirit in that little hospital room was so strong. 

I always thought she'd be ok.  But now I KNOW in my heart that she will be ok.

So grateful for the Power of the Priesthood and for worthy priesthood holders who surround me all around.  And I'm so grateful for my precious baby girl....a miracle, a blessing, a lesson!  I've already learned so much from her in the almost 4 months she's been here.  I'm grateful, I'm blessed! 
Our princess is blessed.....and so are we!

Only the men giving the blessing were in the room during the blessing, and then after it was done everyone had to go out and we followed the rules of only 3 visitors in the room at a time.  She had A LOT of visitors and A LOT of love that day.  People came in groups of 2, and everyone that had been waiting for so long to meet and kiss her, finally got their chance.  It was a very special and very memorable day.  The Power of the Priesthood and family is all we need!  :-)

Grampa & Gramma Fangupo and Gramma & Grampa Makai
Uncle Misi Pou                                                            Uncle Safi
Uncle Misi                                                          Uncle Daniel
Uncle Patrick & Aunty Leslie
Aunty Pola                                                            Aunty Lexi
Aunty Marie                                                           Aunty Leka

January 18, 2012


Have you ever heard of a little baby that's been put on a diet?  A little baby that's only almost 4 months old?  I just think my baby Katea might be the first one!  Hahaha

On Saturday, she got her feeding tube taken out....and the plan was to let her eat as much as she wanted, until she was full....and then to let her sleep as long as she wanted.  She's old enough now to make her own schedule....the only stipulation was that she had to meet a minimum of 220mls in a 12 hour period.  She had no problems at all eating.....and in fact, she shocked everyone at how quickly she picked up on it and how she just took right off.  She actually ended up eating close to 400mls....WAY over her minimum.  The Dr's, NNP's and nurses said they have never seen a 25 weeker pick up so quickly on feeding....she is amazing!  She was eating like 100mls or 110mls at once, and then she'd sleep for like 4-5 hours. 

When I got to the hospital on Sunday, Stacey was her nurse.  She came and gave me the updates of how baby had done so far that day.  She told me that they noticed her oxygen saturations were all over the place and she would yo-yo a lot while she was sleeping.  She self-resolved all of them, but yo-yo'ing was not good for her lungs or her eyes....and after analyzing the few hours she was sleeping after eating the 110mls, she would de-sat and recover about 30% of the time.  That was a lot!  Stacey decided to try a little experiment on her and the next time she woke up, she limited her feeding to only 80mls.  Baby Katea still got full off the 80mls and she still slept really well....and there was a significant improvement on her oxygen saturations.  She went from yo-yo'ing 30% of the time to only 18%, and she didn't reflux as much.  Because of those findings, the NNP changed her orders to say that she is not allowed to eat more than 80mls in one sitting.  Her problem was that she just kept eating...even after she was full....and that made her little stomach so full that her lungs didn't quite have enough room to expand fully, and it was eaiser for the food to come back up.  They took the minimum of 220mls a shift and changed it to a maximum of 240mls a shift.  Hahaha what a little fatso. 

Who's an over-eater??........................I am!  I am!  Haha

Limiting her to 80mls seemed to be helping quite a bit, and she's still been gaining a lot of weight and growing a lot in length.  Yesterday she weighed 3490 grams, which is 7lbs. 11oz.  and she's now 20 1/2 inches long.  Because she's growing so well, they changed the formula for her feedings again.  They were able to take away a lot of the additives.  She's not getting the benaprotein anymore...they stopped the microlipids and changed it to Similac Special Care concentrate and they're only fortifying her milk to 24 calories again instead of 27.  Those are HUGE steps in the right direction and we're so happy!

She can eat the whole time without coughing or gagging, she's got the suck, swallow breathe thing down really well.  But after a couple minutes of letting the food sit in her stomach, she always refluxes and coughs and gags....which sometimes is so bad that she holds her breath and de-sats and brady's.  She bubbles at the mouth a lot.  Reflux sucks!  The Neo, NNP, nurse, dietician, developmental specialist, RT and me all met in her little room yesterday.  We were trying to come up with a solution to her reflux.  Before, they would thicken the milk with a powder called SimplyThick.....it worked perfectly because it was still easy to swallow, and when it got to your stomach it stayed thick so that it wouldn't get refluxed back up.  The only problem with that is that SimplyThick got recalled due to a bacteria found in it.  It was recently recalled, so they were still trying to figure out what the next best thing would be.  They called Primary Children's and LDS and Utah Valley hospitals to see what they were using....it seemed that they all were having the same problems.  There were several options to use, but they only worked in formula....everything they talked about would have only stayed thick for about 30 minutes in breastmilk...and that would have totally defeated the purpose of staying thick and weighing down the milk in her stomach.  The two things they came down to were rice cereal or bananas.  The rice cereal was ruled out because in order to keep it thick on breastmilk, you would have to add way too much.  Bananas were the best option...the only downfall to that was introducing food too early could cause food allergies.  But, it really was our only option.  The NNP wrote the order for the bananas (which is just 3mls of Gerber Banana baby food to 10mls of breastmilk) and also ordered a swallow study just to make sure she's not silently aspirating her food.

The swallow study was today.....to be honest, I was really nervous for this test.  The results, if she was aspirating, would have meant huge steps backwards....they would have had to stop feeding her through her mouth again, and re-do the NJ tube.  I was trying to think positively.....hoping and praying that she was NOT silently aspirating.  Baby Katea had a whole entourage of people going with her to the test.  Jen the developmental specialist, another developmental specialist from LDS hospital, Ashlee the NNP, Bear the RT.....and me.  When we went to the Upper GI, it was just Jen and me....so having this many people go this time made me really nervous.  The swallow study consisited of two different tests.  The first one was just the milk she's been drinking.....and the second one was with the bananas added.  They did have to add some berium(the dye), but because of how bad she reacted to it last time, they used a very minimal amount.  They fed her as she laid under an x-ray machine and they watched how she sucked and swallowed....and watched to see if it was going down the right tube into her stomach, or if she was getting some in her lungs.  Thankfully, she WAS NOT aspirating.....and actually they said she had a perfect sucking and swallowing pattern.  Whew!  What a relief!  That meant we get to keep moving forward.....and it means closer to home!  Yay!  All we're really waiting for now is for her eyes to develop, and her oxygen to go down a little more.  Wow, we're so close!  There is a light at the end of this NICU tunnel, and I can actually see it.  What a ride....what a rollercoaster....what a learning experience.....we are blessed!

Pushing Baby Katea in her crib to Radiology
Jen mixing the berium & bananas w/ my breastmilk
Getting all set up for her swallow study
She looks so tiny on the big bed under the big x-ray machine
I had to watch behind the wall through the window

January 15, 2012

Precious Momento

This little Elmo was given to us by the NICU staff.  It's the same size baby Katea was when she was born!  She has doubled, almost tripled in size since she's been born.  She is amazing.....and so are her nurses for getting her to where she is today!

780 grams when born = 1lb.12oz.
3410 grams today = 7lbs.8 1/2oz.

12 inches when born
19 1/4 inches today

I'm so happy I have this little Elmo doll....I'm going to keep it forever!  When she's grown and older and regular sized, it will always remind me of how tiny she was, how far she had to come....and it will always remind me that miracles do happen, and she is one!

Leaps and Bounds

January 13th, 2011                                 January 14th, 2011

These two pictures were taken a day apart...can you tell what's different between the two?
Can you see what's missing?? (Not her hair bow)
Look closely at her right nostrel in the picture on the left....and then in the picture on the right....
She has no more feeding tube!!

It's amazing how much more you can see her face with just that little orange tube, and tape on her cheek gone.  All she has now is the oxygen!  :-)

That means that in the week since she started eating through her mouth, she has skipped through all the stages with flying colors and is officially feeding-tube free!  They introduced food to her mouth last Saturday, and it's like she had been waiting for it the whole time.  She needed a little help remembering to breathe after she sucks and swallows....but it didn't take her long at all to catch on....and once she did, she took right off!  Everyone is so impressed with how well she did, and at how much she is actually eating!  Haha.
Just yesterday they still had her on a schedule where she had to eat a certain amount every 3 hours, but last night they did a trial run on her, where they let her eat as much as she wanted until she's full....and then they let her sleep as long as she wanted.  They calculated a minimum amount that she absolutely had to meet in a 12 hour period....that amount was 220mls.....she ate over 300mls.  Haha
Because she did so well through the night, and she slept well too, they decided to take the feeding tube out this morning!  Yay!  This morning Stacey had her, and when we got there at 2pm she had already eaten 190mls.  She has no problems meeting her minimum 220!  Tonight, when I was there, she was eating...she ate 100mls in one sitting!  Let's just say she's established in her eating and passed with flying colors!

We heard that eating was one of the hardest things for preemie baby's to learn to do.  Learning to suck, swallow and breathe doesn't come very naturally to them.  I was imagining it would take a few weeks for her to get it down.  She's amazing!  Leaps and Bounds she's taking.....so much progress!

January 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Princess

She is the biggest Momma's girl ever
She's way to smart for her age
She's bossy
She's sweet
She's a little monster at times (a lot of the times)
She thinks she's older than her brothers
She loves to help clean
She has her daddy wrapped around her little fingers
She does something wrong and then gives a little angel, innocent look to get out of trouble
She's so independent and wants to do everything by herself
She's eats too much candy
She talks a lot
She knows her alphabet
She LOVES to dance
She acts shy to all guys, but if they give her food or candy, she usually warms up
She loves her older brothers
She's beautiful
She loves to go anywhere with mommy, and mommy loves to take her
She's my little princess and
I LOVE her with all my heart!

She just turned
Happy Happy Birthday Lautala!
We LOVE you so so so much!

January 13, 2012

Fun Stuff First!

I got at text message from baby Katea's nurse Anjanette on 1/6/2012 @ about 1am....here's how the conversation went:

Anjanette: Hi, it's Anjanette and I hope u r not actually asleep this time, but wanted to let u know I was taking pictures of Katea and her boots and somebody decided to roll over.  I know, crazy.  Well u did not miss it I got it on the camera.  U will see tomorrow.

Me: What? R u serious? Hahaha that's awesome!  Way to go baby girl!  Can't wait to see that footage!

Anjanette: It is awesome

Me: Hahahaha now if she can just breathe...haha

Anjanette: That's our next goal

Me: A little out of order, but it's all good!  Haha tell her she better do it again tomorrow when I'm there :-)

Anjanette: Fun stuff first.  I will have a talk with her but u know she's a little stubborn

Me:  Yes, I know...lol

Anjanette has made so many cute things for baby Katea...she's definitely spoiled by her!  The latest thing she made were these pink boots.  I love them, they are so cute!  They are fuzzy and have two big buttons on the sides.  Ajanette was doing a little photoshoot with Katea to show them off....I was so excited to go to the hospital the next day to see the pictures.....when I got there, she had already made a scrapbook page for me.  I must say, it was a proud mommy moment for me, even if it was just a one time freak accident....haha!  She was laying on her stomach kicking around and she kicked so hard that she flipped herself over.  That's my girl!  :-)

More Updates

Tuesday January 10th
Since she's been on the regular nasal canula, she's been doing amazingly well!  Her Fi02 has been stable between 27-31% and she's hasn't yo-yo'd too much on her oxygen saturations.  Because she's doing so well and she's not on the high flow anymore, the focus right now is on her getting her feedings down, and working with her developmentally.  They want her to have tummy time and to practice moving her head around to strengthen her neck muscles....they brought this mat into her room, and we get to lay her on it whenever she's wide awake enough to have tummy time.  Tuesday was the first day using it, and she was so cute....she looked like she was swimming kicking her feet and moving her head back and forth....she lasted for a few minutes before she started getting frustrated and started sucking on the blanket she was laying on.....she was hungry!  haha :-)

When preemies get to the feeding stage, they usually have to follow a specific schedule.  There are different stages....and before the baby is able to move from one stage to another, they have to meet certain requirements.

Stage 1:
Baby gets to eat 1 feeding by mouth (breast or bottle) per shift...so twice a day.  When the baby can tolerate both those feedings for two days straight, and gain weight...they get to move on to the next stage.

Stage 2:
Baby gets to eat 2 feedings by mouth per shift....four times a day.  After two days of tolerating it and gaining weight....they get to move on.

Stage 3.....3 times a shift.....6 times a day....

Stage 4.....every feeding is by mouth.

A full feeding is either the total volume by bottle, or 10+ minutes on the breast.  If the baby doesn't finish the bottle, or goes less than 10 minutes....they get the rest pumped into their stomach.  They've figured it out down to a science to make sure these little ones make progress while still getting their full nutrition.  It was kind of confusing trying to figure out which stage baby Katea would fall under because she's so old (being past her due date) yet at the same time this was the first couple days she ever ate through her mouth.  The nurses and NNP's were actually amazed at how well she was doing, she picked up so quick on the eating thing...and it seemed like she was loving it.  She would wake up frantic looking for her food...rooting to both sides looking for something to eat.  I just laughed because I knew she wouldn't have any problems eating.  We always told the nurses she would sail through the feeding stages because hey, she's a Fangupo...and eating is what we do best!  haha  The NNP suggested that we let her eat, but she wasn't completely clear on how often she could eat by mouth and how often she still had to be pumped.  The nurses asked for some clarification and the NNP wrote it out on her orders.....she can have ALL her feedings by mouth, as tolerated when she's awake and alert!  Wow, she went from never eating through her mouth to being able to take all her feedings by mouth in just a couple days.....skipped right over all the stages!!  haha  Good job baby girl!  Now she just has to eat every meal by mouth for two days straight, and gain weight....and then they can take her feeding tube out and no more pumped meals!  Yay!  Gramma Cindy and Leka came by to visit today.  That was the first time Aunty Leka got to hold her!

Wednesday January 11th
When I got to the hospital, she had just had her eye exam.  The results were not worse, but not what we wanted to hear either.  They hadn't changed at all....for good or bad.  She was still at a zone 2 developmentally and stage 2 of ROP.  Since there was no change, the optimologist won't do another eye-exam until 2 more weeks.  That just bought us 2 more weeks at the hospital for sure. :-(  That means she'll spend her 4 month birthday there too. :-(  It's ok though!  Most likely she'll have to go home on oxygen....and since oxygen is what can damage the eyes.....she either has to be completely off oxygen, or her eyes have to develop before she can go home.  Praying her eyes will develop within the next two weeks!  As far as her eating on Wednesday, she did really well again.  She didn't take all her meals by mouth, just because she was sleeping sometimes and not awake enough to concentrate.  And because baby Katea took a little while to get organized and to remember to suck, swallow then breathe.....once she got a hang of it, her nurse made me stop breastfeeding because she had reached the time limit....and she pumped the rest into her stomach.  Boo!  Anjanette was back at night and she let me feed her until she was full.  She lasted 25 minutes, and we did the test weight thing again....she gained 78grams.  Whoo-hoo!  One way they know the baby has had enough, is if they sleep good after the feeding.....she slept so good!  Yay I was able to fill her up!

Thursday January 12th
Today was a pretty low-key day.  Baby Katea ate all her meals by mouth except one.  And that's becuase she was dead asleep!  Every day she's getting better and better!  Good job baby girl, I'm proud of you!