Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday, June 20th: Vision and Hearing

Here's just a quick update on Finn's hearing screen and most recent eye exam.

Today Finnegan had his second eye exam. In the exam, they dilate his pupils and then stick a prong device in his eye to keep it open. Then they shine a light with a magnifier of some sort to see the retina. The doctor is looking for what is called Retinopathy of Prematurity or ROP. When a baby is about 16 weeks gestation, their eyes begin to develop. Then, by 34 weeks gestation, their blood vessels in the eye have matured and developed enough so they supply enough blood to the retina. Well, since preemies are early, they don't necessary get that development and some babies end up with damage to the retina because of lack of needed blood flow; however, some babies don't have this problem because their blood vessels work double time to mature outside of the womb. ROP is defined in stages and Finn is currently at a nonexistant stage or ROP 0. The classifications usually start at 1 being the least severe to 3 being the most severe that can cause blindness, but the eye doctor said he doesn't even show signs of ROP stage 1. His blood vessels are still immature, but there is no damage to the retina. :)

Last night, Finnegan had a hearing screen. For this they put baby headphones on Finnegan and tested the otacoustic emissions (like an echo) of each ear after a sound is played. The screen doesn't give specific results, but it's a test that you can't fail. Either you "pass" or you are "referred" which means that they will refer you to an audiologist for further testing. Finnegan had both ears screened twice to double check results. His right ear first came back with a "refer" result but then came back with a "pass" result, but his left ear came back with a "refer" result both times. This doesn't necessarily mean there are hearing loss issues; it could just mean that his ear hasn't fully matured. I read a lot of blogs from other NICU parents of preemies that said that at their audiologist follow up appointment, weeks after the first screen, both ears passed the same screen tests simply because the baby had grown. Obviously, there could be problems, but we're hoping that it's just another case of Finnegan just needing to grow a bit more. :)

Now that I think back on this week so far, Finnegan has had a busy one! Between his eye and ear screenings, he's had a lot of visitors and a lot of growing! As of yesterday, Finnegan now weighs 4lbs 2.5oz. :) On Tuesday he had visits from Grandma Bruckner, Aunt Meghan, Uncle Danny, and Alyson. Aunt Meghan and Uncle Danny got to hold their first nephew for the first time! :)

Today, Finnegan's Grandma Doman came to visit and help mommy with clean up the room that will be his nursery and of course play with Finn! Then, Grandma and Grandpa Bruckner came to visit. We figured that Grandpa Bruckner hadn't seen his grandson in a month between work, "sickness," and house work. I think he was more than a little shocked at how much he had grown! :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday, June 18th: Father's Day and other things!

Sleepy little boy (6/18/2012)
Since our last post, Finnegan has been doing beautifully! As of yesterday, he is 33 weeks old in gestation, or very close to 8 weeks old. He has been doing absolutely wonderful with feedings and has gone up to nippling/using the bottle for 67% of his feedings. Yesterday, Finnegan was moved to getting fed a bottle whenever he seems like he wants to for each feeding. Prior to that, he was taking a bottle for every other feeding. For most feedings he finishes the whole bottle, but since he's been working for his food more, he gets tired more easily. With eating a lot comes gaining weight. As of this afternoon, Finn has topped the scale at 4lbs 1oz AND he's now 16.5 inches long! :) Our little man is growing so quickly! Today they also took him off of his sodium and potassium supplements. He is currently only on Vitamin D and caffine besides his breastmilk.

"Hmmm... I wonder when Brittany is
going to put my food on the pump..."
Rounds have been pretty lame recently since Finnegan is just being fed and growing. They pretty much sit down in the room, spew off some numbers, tell him to keep up the good work, and leave. It's quick and dirty! They have increased his food recently. He was at 25mL. They increased his food to 28mL on the 15th to adjust for his weight gain and then up to 32mL yesterday. He's not getting a little over an ounce during each feeding! On Wednesday of last week, Finnegan began attempting to breastfeed once a day. He's still trying to get used to it, but we're making progress!

No more chicken legs! Check out Finnegan's leg in comparison with Ian's finger!

A video of Finnegan getting anxious to eat.  Don't mind us laughing in the background...His facial expressions are priceless.

Wednesday night, I went to see Motherhood the Musical with my mother-in-law, Aunt Cathy, and two of mom's friends. I was excited to eat Portillo's and get out for a while. The musical was really good. I was able to laugh hysterically at parts, get a little sad at others, and truly appreciate what it means to be a mom through song! ;) Thanks for the great evening, mom! :)

On Thursday, Finnegan got his first big boy bath. It was weird seeing such a little baby in a tub that should fit a "normal sized" baby. He was kind of unsure of the whole thing, but he took it like a champ. Yeah, he screamed a bit when it came time to rinse him off, but he smelled SO much better afterwards! These are pictures of Finnegan right after his bathtime!

On Friday, Finn got visited by Great Grandma, Great Aunt Jan, and cousins Katie and Timmy. Great Grandma was SO excited to be able to hold Finnegan. It was so wonderful to see the two of them together. We had a great visit. Timmy got to meet Finnegan for the first time and he was such a good little boy for all his visitors!

Finn and Great Grandma!

Finn and Cousin Katie

Finn and Great Aunt Jan!
On Friday night, Finnegan's nurses decided he didn't need his pulse ox monitor anymore since he rarely ever dropped his oxygen saturation. I was excited because that was one less wire holding me back from snuggling with the little guy! Now, Finnegan just has his heart and respiration monitors! Those consist of 3 stickies that plug into one bigger wire that connects to his monitor. It makes it so much easier to get him in and out of his crib!
No more pulse-ox! :)

Saturday was party day for the Bruckners. We went up north to celebrate the wonderful accomplishments of Danny and Meghan! Woohoo for graduating and moving onto bigger and better things! :) It was really awesome spending some much needed time with family. I missed Finn a LOT, but it's easier to be away from him when he's doing so stinkin' well. There was a pretty intense lightning show on our drive back to Bloomington Saturday night.

Sunday was ... of course ... Father's Day! Unfortunately, our plans got moved around because of some suspected illnesses of grandma and grandpa Bruckner, but Ian and I enjoyed a very nice Sunday complete with Red Lobster and Finnegan time.
Today I started my couch to 5k workout regimen. Needless to say, my body got a little sore, but I feel good and am hoping that if I get myself used to it now, it'll be easier to keep up with once Finnegan gets home...which may be sooner than we think. Finnegan's new goal is to be home in time to see fireworks on the 4th of July; however, with the way he's going, it might be sooner. wow!

Finnegan's goals (6/15/2012)

I'm still uneasy about what life is going to be like when Finn comes home. I've become so accustomed to going back and forth to see him, that I'm nervous about taking care of him on my own. Although, today I got to give him a bath all on my own, and that was a lot more reassuring! I guess it's just scary because our house isn't ready for Finnegan to come home to! Guess I have a lot of work to do this week! :)

Finn during bathtime (6/18/2012)
An older video that I didn't get a chance to post before. Video from May 31st during Kangaroo Time.

A lot of people have been asking us when Finnegan will be coming home. There is a list of things that Finnegan has to accomplish before he is allowed to go home. Here is the list:
1. Keep his temperature between 97.4 and 99.0 in an open bed for a couple days.
2. Nipple (eat from a bottle) all of his feedings (100%) for 2-3 days at his given food range.
3. Not have any alarms (bradys or apneas) that require someone to touch him to come out of it for 2 hours.
4. Sit in his car seat for 90 minutes without having any alarms (bradys or apneas).
5. Get circumcised (that's not necessary for him to go home... but it'll happen before he does)
As you can see, he has quite a few things he needs to accomplish! Not to mention, mommy and daddy have a lot to learn before we can take him home. Our list of things to do are a lot longer than Finn's, but he's pretty much wiped out by all the feedings! :) Here's the mommy and daddy to do list:

1. Find doctor and visit
2. Bathe him on own
3. CPR Training
4. Watch various videos about home care of NICU babies
5. Monitor training (Finn will be going home on a heart and resp monitor)
6. Learn how to give Finn his meds (which will probably just be caffine)
7. Learn proper car seat installation
8. Get his room ready!!!

Finnegan gets measured every Sunday night... Here he is from this Sunday (6/17/2012). He's now 16.5 inches long! :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday, June 12th: 32 weeks!!!

Burp... :)
On Sunday, Finnegan graduated and is now a "32 weeker"! This is when he would generally be able to eat from a bottle, breastfeed, have an open crib (depending on weight), has different oxygen and stat requirements. and moves that much closer to going home. It's not very surprising that Finnegan has already accomplished 4 of these things! :)
Finnegan's new crib! :)

Daddy feeding Finnegan for the
first time! :)
On Friday, Finnegan ate for the first time from a bottle. It's amazing that he was able to coordinate the "suck, swallow, breathe" technique at 31 weeks, because most babies don't pick up on that skill until at least 32 weeks. It was quite the experience feeding him for the first time. Feeding a preemie is unlike anything I've done. It's kind of awkward because you have to lay him on his side with his body angled away from you. You lay him more on his side so the milk can pool in his cheek instead of choking him by going straight down his throat. Before his first bottle attempt, the nurse warned me that most babies don't take much the first time and that usually stats will drop because the baby is trying to figure out how to do everything at the same time. Finnegan (of course), blew all those babies out of the water. Finn ate 11mL of his 25mL bottle the first time! On Saturday, when daddy got to feed him, Finnegan ate 6mL. Yesterday, Finnegan decided to show off for Grandpa and Grandma Doman and ate 13mL. We couldn't be happier with his progress. In order to increase the amount of bottle feeds, Finnegan has to finish at least half of his bottle for two days. Then they will move him to 2 bottles a day. Once he finishes at least half of both of those bottles for a couple days, they'll move him up and so on. Then, we will be able to attempt breastfeeding.

Speaking of food, Finnegan likes it! He's gaining weight like a champ! Yesterday, Finn weighed in at about 3lb 5.75oz, double his birthweight! He also measured at 14.6 inches and his head circumfrance also increased!

Because of his increase in weight, Finnegan graduated from his isolette to a big boy open crib! :) When we walked into his room on Sunday, Ian and I were totally taken aback by his new setup. He was bundled up like he was heading into a snowstorm, but he was out in the open! What was best, was that we didn't have to look at him through a plastic box anymore! It's also a lot easer to get him out to hold him! It became that much easier when he was taken off of his oxygen/cannula! Now, Finnegan is literally breathing room air! Antother plus is that his feeding tube has been removed from his mouth and placed down his nose. It doesn't look very comfy, but he doesn't seem to mind it. He is sneezing a lot, but I probably would too if I had a tube up my nose. This is a positive because now he'll have an easier time feeding, and he must have because he finished his entire bottle!  He took my breath away when I saw him this evening. He's just such an amazing miracle. I was also told that I would be able to breastfeed Finnegan once a day. Can we say excited!? :)

Cousin Maggie
Counsins Brittany and Maggie having fun visiting Finn!
Finnegan had a couple visitors since Wednesday. On Friday, Finnegan got to meet his cousins Brittany and Maggie. Brittany and Maggie came down with Aunt Meghan and Grandma Bruckner for Finnegan time and dinner at our house (homemade tacos!... YUM!). I think they had a lot of fun. I sure enjoyed having them around! :) And on Sunday, Grandma and Grandpa Doman came to visit for a while! This week, Finnegan will have more visitors! On Thursday, "Aunt Jessica" will come visit, and on Friday Great Aunt Jan, Great Grandma (GiGi), and cousins Katie and Timmy will come visit. Then, on Sunday, Grandma and Grandpa Bruckner! This kid is so stinkin' popular!

Things are beginning to look up at the Bruckner household. I found out this weekend that I was approved for unemployment insurance while I continue to search for a job. Still no interviews, but I'm applying for about 3-5 jobs per week (anywhere from clerical work to teaching). It's sad to think that there are that many jobs out there, but more people looking for a job than there are jobs available. Also, Ian has an interview on Wednesday for a possible promotion. It's nice to have the prospect of some good news after our very stressful couple of months.

We're praying that things work out so that we can settle down in a nice family house by the fall. The dogs could use a backyard to run around in, we could use the extra room and a garage, and Finnegan would probably enjoy a room for all his toys... that won't have a treadmill in it! :)

Ian and I spent Saturday planting flowers and herbs on our back patio and cleaning it up. We then enjoyed our hard work Sunday evening with cheeseburgers and asparagus on the grill! :) So yummy!

I am still so overwhelmed by all the amazing pictures of Finnegan that Joanna took. She continues to post new edited pictures on her Facebook page. The link is: She also posted a blog on her professional photography website with new pictures. The link is: We'll let you know when the photos are available for ordering/printing/etc.

I had my 6 week (well actually 7 weeks) postpardom appointment with my doctor today. Everything is looking good and I was cleared for normal activity! I've already started walking at least 45 minutes a day, but I want to eventually build my muscles back up to start back with jogging or more rigorous exercise. I seemed to block the long period of bed rest and otherwise inactivity from my memory. I guess that was why I was so surprised that my body hurt after a long walk. Eventually, when my muscles are used to movement, I will start up the Couch to 5K program. It's a self-motivated workout plan that I got halfway through last summer before I gave up. The goal is to ready your body from being otherwise unfit to being able to run a 5k in a matter of months. I'm going to take it day by day. :) Let's hope I have the strength to keep it up! I have some baby fat to lose! I'm hoping that putting it out on the blog will hold me more accountable... at least it's worth a shot! :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wednesday, June 6th: 3lb dance

The view from Finn's window! (5/24/2012)
Since our last post, Finnegan has been busy gaining weight and changing. Every day that I see him I'm astonished at how much he has changed. Since last week, Finnegan has gained about 7.5 ounces and has passed the 3 pound mark! He's also now 14.2 inches long! He seems to be growing out of his brady phase and is now averaging only 2-4 bradys per day, most of which are self-correcting. He was put down to 1 liter of oxygen, but they are already discussing taking him off the cannula completely! He's up to 24 ml of fortified breast milk per feeding. He's still getting fed through his tube, but we're hoping to start trying bottles and breastfeeding next week. We were planning on this week, but the doctor was concerned that because bottle/breastfeeding burns a lot of calories for a preemie, he needs to gain a bit more weight. Besides that, Finnegan has had lots of visitors! We're pretty much just going to catch up with some pictures that haven't gotten uploaded. This includes visitors we haven't mentioned yet (sorry!) and otherwise adorable Finnegan or funny puppy pictures from Ian's phone that haven't been posted yet!!! Some of them go back a month, but it's nice to see how much he's grown! :) FYI: If you click on one picture, you will see a bigger version of it and then be able to scroll through all the pictures from this post!
Finnegan's new favorite thing is to squirm himself so he is laying on an angle in his bed. (6/6/2012)
5/6/2012 -- why does he like taking pictures of me while I'm sleeping!?
A view of Finn's room from the couch

Grandpa Bruckner changing Finnegan's diaper for the first time (5/6/2012):

Kangaroo Time! (5/6/2012):

 Aunt Kim and Uncle Dave come to visit! (5/8/2012):

Kangaroo Time (5/8/2012):


Finnegan with and without CPAP:


No More CPAP! (5/19/2012): 

Kangaroo Time (5/21/2012): 

 Finnegan and his Lovee Doll (5/26/2012):

 Finnegan gets to wear clothes for the first time! Our little baby burrito!!! (5/26/2012):


Baby Burrito, continued! (5/30/2012):

Our adorable, snuggly dogs! They love their doggy daddy! :)

Pictures from this last week:
Grandpa Doman tickling Finn (6/1/2012)
Grandma Doman and Finn (6/1/2012)
Mommy and Finnegan (6/1/2012)

Daddy and Finn spending some quality time together! (6/2/2012)

Finnegan has a love-hate relationship with his pacifier... it's quite cute! (6/1/2012)
Holding Grandma Bruckner's finger! (6/4/2012)

Finnegan really enjoys quality Grandma time! (6/4/2012)

Finnegan and his Great Aunt Cathy! (6/4/2012)

On Tuesday (6/5), we had the opportunity to have a professional photographer come in to take pictures of Finnegan and our new family. My sister arranged for one of her old high school friends to take pictures as a gift to our new family. We can't thank Jenny and Joanna enough... This is Ian's Facebook post about the experience with a link to some of the proofs (but I also included them here). Check out Joanna Smith's website. She's SUPER talented
Ian's FB post:
Here's the album Joanna Smith Photography has put together with all the proofs she's released so far. They're amazing, and all in one place!

The photographs are just what I needed. Christine doesn't know it yet, but I teared up looking through them all last night. Before that, visiting Finnegan was just something I did. I kept track of his numbers and medical jargon tossed around the room (everyone here has done so well to help us understand it all!). Seeing these photos really brought it home for me. He's my son and he's much more than numbers. It's really hard to talk about him without using the numbers (A's & B's, aspirate, liters of oxygen, etc) because we interact with him so little. Yes, we hold him for short bits of time while we're here and we temp and diaper him, but that's not really interacting with him.

Granted, we're reallllllly blessed to be able to do all of that. Some parents don't get to and some babies don't make it this far. Finn has been a rockstar when it comes to his medical chart! Whenever I get jealous of another family getting to bring home their baby days after it is born, I come to re-realize just I am eternally grateful we're not going through what so many others in the NICU are going through. That's in large part due to your prayers for us - thank you, thank you, thank you!

These photos, however, like I said earlier, really brought it home for me. Words, or at least my words, cannot express what these photos express. Thank you, Joanna, for capture such cute and precious moments, and thank you Jennifer Strong for arranging it all!

You can find Joanna Smith Photography at: