Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday, July 27th: 3 months old!

I was hoping to update the blog a little bit more often after Finnegan got home. My hope was to keep you updated on his progress, his cuteness, and our life at home. Time seems to have run away with me! Finnegan has started to really keep me busy! Plus, he is still just going through the "feed and grow" regimine, so there isn't always a lot of news to share just adorable pictures!

Since our last post, we said "see ya later" to Jenny, Kaylin, and Matt. On Monday they flew back to Connecticut, so we had a traditional family dinner at the parents to conclude a wonderful visit back home. It's always fun to have the whole gang together, and Finnegan was able to soak up some Aunt Jenny love before she headed home.

Finnegan with his GiGi and PaPa!

On Tuesday, Finnegan turned 3 months old! Gestationally speaking, he's only about 38 weeks, but we're getting closer to his "due date!" At that point, Finnegan will be 0 years old in his corrected age! Also, once he hits his due date or 40 weeks gestational age, he will be able to have developmental tests to tell what his adjusted/corrected age will be. Even though Finnegan is 3 months old according to the calendar, because he was so early, he may lag behind developmentally. At this point, it's a wait and see; however, he will begin early intervention programs to help identify any issues EARLY, before they may become bigger problems with his growth (behaviorally, socially, etc.).

Also on Tuesday, Finnegan met with an Audiologist to follow up on his "failed" hearing screen conducted in the NICU. Finnegan laid on daddy's lap while the audiologist put a little ear bud probe in one ear at a time. The probe was connected to a computer that measured the feedback of sound when little beeps were played in his ear. The test was a bit nervewrecking for me because they kept redoing it, and not telling us much about what the little lines and graphs on the screen meant. After about a half hour of this, they said that there was too much excess noise (Finnegan's grunts and groans and just white noise in the room) to give an accurate read; however, there is some evidence that all the mechanics in his ears are working as they should. Another factor could be that Finnegan's ear canals are so narrow. For piece of mind and to get a better idea of where he is with hearing, he is being referred to a pediatric audiology program called ECHO in Champaign.

On Wednesday, we got a call from Finn's pediatrian to stop his caffine because the latest reading from his monitor was so good. This means we may have just 4 more weeks on the monitor! Finnegan also had the opportunity to spend quality time with his girlfriends from the NICU. Finnegan and I took a trip to visit Brittany and Jodie! We had dinner, talked wedding plans for Brittany's wedding, and overall, had a good time! Finnegan was absolutely zonked when we got home. I love that we are able to keep in touch with them!

Today, Finnegan had his 3 month check up with Dr. Emm. Ian and I were anxious to see what his new weight would be! Finnegan is now 6lbs and 11oz! He hasn't grown much in length, despite the fact that it looks like he has to me. Dr. Emm was so happy with his weight gain. He kept commenting on his chubby cheeks and Buddha belly. Gotta love our little chunk! :) During his exam, he noticed a small hernia that we're going to watch, but the hope is that it corrects itself. As we've been told repeatedly, hernias are extremely common in preemies. If it doesn't correct itself, he will have to have surgery to correct it. We're also paying attention to his eating. Finnegan has a tendency to let everything fall out of his mouth while eating. If it continues, we will discuss further options regarding his silly tongue. We don't have to go back to see Dr. Emm until his 4 month check up! At that appointment, we'll be able to see if Finnegan can come off the monitor! Dr. Emm will also check his head to see if he'll need physical therapy to help fix his lopsided head. While his head is not as bad as it was while he was on the CPAP in the NICU, he favors laying on his right side, so he has a flat spot with a little nob on the right side of his head. We're trying to correct his laying position to the left side as much as possible, but Finn is pretty stubborn (surprise, surprise!).

Finn is smiling a lot more now. Yesterday he was even giggling in his sleep a little. He's just so adorable! He also started picking his head up a little bit more, so we started doing some tummy time each day. He prefers tummy time on our chests than on the floor, but he is slowly building some muscles! Finnegan is also spending more time awake during the day and sleeping a little bit longer over night. Our newest goal is to let him go a little bit longer without eating over night. Right now, Finn goes to bed after eating around 11pm/12am and  only wakes up around 3/4am and then again around 7am, but it would be nice to have that spread out a bit more!

Ian and I have adjusted pretty well to having Finnegan home. We've developed our own little routine of taking care of Finnegan. Not having a job has been a real blessing in disguise right now, especially since I don't know if I would be able to handle anyone else (besides Ian and NICU nurses) taking care of him. I'm stilling looking for employment, but despite how many resumes and inquiries I send out, I'm hearing nothing except "thanks but no thanks." I'm really enjoying the time that I have with Finnegan and the pups!

 Tummy Time!

 Finnegan is yelling at me to feed him, so until next time! :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday, July 19th: One happy family :)

Our little peanut is doing beautifully at home! He has had several doctor's appointments to follow-up and check-up on him. Last Friday he got to meet his pediatrician, Dr. Emm. He was completely blown away by how amazing Finn was doing considering he was 15 weeks early. Ian and I felt extremely blessed when we had to fill out his initial paperwork, because under previous medical history all we had to write was premature and a slight ileus. At the first appointment, Finnegan came in at 5lbs 11oz and just a tad shy of 18 inches long. He gained about 4 ounces in the 3 days since he left the NICU!

We also started working with a Family Care Case Manager from the McLean County Health Department. A nurse comes our to our house about every 2 months to do developmental and health checks on Finnegan. Because of his prematurity, Finn will probably be playing catch-up until he's about 2 years old. At his first visit on Wednesday, he was on target with basic developmental behaviors (holding your finger, startling with loud noises, and following with his eyes) and gained more weight! He weighed in at 6 pounds 2 ounces. Our little boy is growing so fast!

He is eating well and has even requested more food during several feedings. Yesterday, we started trying him with a "regular" flow nipple on his bottles because he was having some issues with collapsing the slow-flow nipple. He's quite the strong little boy! He's had a couple of baths and even seemed to enjoy the last one!

Finnegan had his follow-up appointment with the retinal surgeon (same eye doctor he saw in the NICU) today. I was a bit concerned because this was his first real time in public. When we walked into the waiting room and I was worried because it was super small and full of people. I quickly went to a corner with him, but that didn't stop a lot of cute older ladies coming to say hi. He's quite the popular little guy. His appointment went really well and he is done with this doctor! No signs of ROP and his eyes are progressing nicely! He has been referred to a pediatric opthamologist and will see him when he hits 6 months old.

Finnegan has been keeping us entertained with his funny noises and faces. He never ceases to put a smile on my face. Even at 4 in the morning when he refuses to go back to sleep after eating. He's just too cute for words.

This past weekend was super busy for us. Finnegan made his first road trip up north to visit family. On Friday evening, I went to my grandparent's anniversary dinner while Ian went to his parent's house with Finnegan. I got to see some family I hadn't seen in a while and eat some amazing food!

Me with my adorable niece and nephew at the gparent's anniversary dinner.

On Saturday, my cousin Katie had her high school graduation party. It was another fun day of lots of family and friends. Finnegan got to spend some quality time with his Aunt Jenny and the rest of his family. He especially found his cousins Matt and Kaylin amusing. While we were at the party, Finnegan spent most of his time napping in a room at my grandparent's house, but for a little bit of time, we took him out to eat. When he came out, people from my Aunt's neighborhood would just come up to see him "in person" since they've followed him on this blog since he was born. I was overwhelmed by all the people who prayed for Finnegan and our family. All these people whom I have never met, praying for our little baby. It's no wonder he's such a miracle baby; he had so many people praying for him.

Finn meets Aunt Jenny!
Our niece Kaylin playing with Papa (great grandpa)

Sunday was the next baby shower. The party was very low key, which was nice considering how hectic the first part of the weekend was. Finnegan was the star of the show. He slept during the whole thing, but that didn't stop all the ladies from oohing and aahing over his cuteness.

Four Generations! :)

Cousin Kaylin with Finnegan

Aunt Julie and Uncle Eddie holding Finnegan for the first time :)

I cannot begin to explain how wonderful it is to have our little bundle of joy home. That isn't to say that we don't miss parts of the NICU. Besides the help, I miss the amazing people that took care of us. I'm just grateful that we're still able to keep in touch with them! In fact, today we received a wonderful card in the mail. I'm sure it's something they send to everyone, but it was such a wonderful gesture, and it meant a lot!

It is so awesome seeing Finnegan with the family. Some of the men in my family still are a bit apprehensive to hold Finnegan due to his tiny size, but I'm sure once he's a bit bigger, they'll be fighting over him. Finnegan really liked his Aunt Jenny. They bonded and snuggled a lot over the weekend. It's really hard to have her and her family so far away (they live in Connecticut), but it does make us appreciate our time together that much more. I can't imagine what we would do without Skype!

On Tuesday, Jenny, Kaylin, and Matthew came to visit. Kaylin is one hysterical 3 year old! Her and Matthew just crack me up constantly. I can't wait until Finnegan is able to play with his cousins. We also had a visit from Brittany on Tuesday. All I can say about that... LOVE!

I love Finnegan a little more every day. Each day I see him growing and developing that much more. He has acquired a new nickname due to his eating habits and weight gain: "Chubs." Gotta love it! He's such an impressive little baby, and I'm blessed to call him my son.

Finnegan and Aunt Jenny <3
Kaylin got to hold her cousin! She was so excited!

Our little cutie pie!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday, July 10th: Homecoming

Snuggling with his Lovee doll. :)
After 78 days (11 weeks and one day) in the NICU, Finnegan was discharged. If this comes as a shock to you after reading our previous post, trust us, it was shocking as well. Here's how it happened:

During Finnegan's struggle with eating this past week, he found his voice. He learned how to cry, especially when he was hungry. The way his feeding schedule worked though, had him eating every 3 hours without fail. Finnegan didn't like that schedule. He started waking up about every 2 hours after a feeding screaming for more milk. The nurses would go in to calm him down, and then he would be passed out for his feed about an hour later resulting in a less than adequate feeding. After expressing this concern and even getting him fed earlier on some occasions when I was there, his nurse on Sunday talked with the nurse practitioner about his current habit and they decided to try getting him on his own schedule. This meant that he could tell the nurse when he was hungry and they would give him a bottle. They decided to give him a 24 hour trial period to see how much he would take and how many calories he would consume in that period. He would need to consume 120 calories to meet his target (27 calories/ounce, and 30ml/ounce). Since he was eating more frequently, he wasn't meeting his range of 35-45ml eat feeding. Plus, he needs to eat enough to stay hydrated. He seemed to be eating so well on Sunday when Grandma and Grandpa Doman came to visit. He was taking between 30 and 35 ml every 2 hours or so. Plus, he got some quality snuggle time with grandma and grandpa. Grandpa Doman held Finnegan for the first time on Sunday, and they both looked so adorably happy. Finnegan held onto Grandpa's finger and would not let go! :)

Monday morning, I was nervous about what would happen at rounds. This is when they would tell us how many calories he consumed in his 24 hour period and whether or not they would be willing to continue this feeding schedule. Ultimately, that would determine how much longer he would have to stay in the NICU. Since he was determining his own schedule, he was nippling 100% for a couple days, and they calculated that he consumed 105 out of the 120 necessary calories. The doctor was really pleased and even suggested that he be discharged that day! The nurses as well as myself did not feel really comfortable with letting him go home after just changing his feeding schedule, so it was decided that if he continued to do with with feedings, he could go home the next day. I cannot tell you how surreal that whole conversation felt. I had been waiting for those words for so long, and it was just like weeks of prayers had been answered. After rounds, Finnegan was a champion eater. He took 35-45ml of almost all his bottles and just told everyone that he was ready to bust out.

After being told he could go home! :)
With the news of him coming home in a day, Ian left work and zoomed in his BMW X5 rental car to Peoria to get some of our discharge learning out of the way. We learned how to draw up and give him his meds and mix up his formula/milk. We'd seen most of this done (besides mixing his milk), but it was weird having to do it and I found myself being nervous. Everything just started feeling so real. Finnegan's primary day nurse, Brittany went through the basics with us about what to do with him when he's home and helped us set up his followup appointments. Brittany had been with us from the beginning, and I was so happy she was with us to get him ready to go home. I know it wasn't easy discharging Finnegan, since she took care of him for so long, but it's not goodbye! :) The same goes for his primary night nurse, Jodie. These ladies are two of the best NICU nurses ever! :) They not only took care of Finnegan like he was their own, but they were supportive of Ian and I and became not only Finn's caretakers, but our friends. God really blessed us by bringing them into our lives!

Finnegan and his best friend, Brittany :)
 After we learned some stuff about taking care of Finnegan (as Ian commented later that night, "Geez, Finnegan comes with a lot of directions!"), we went to pick up a formula mixer pitcher at BabiesRus and then to a movie. We went to go see the movie Ted. It was definitely a great addition to such a great day. "Thunder buddies for life!"

The last "scrub-in!"
When we got back, we hung out with Finnegan and his night nurse Jodie for a while. We got him hooked up to his home monitor so we could try it out with him before we had to use it at home with him. Ian and I then headed home to relax and sleep through the night, perhaps for the last time! ;) This morning we put together his pack'n'play which is in our bedroom and just picked up a little bit before we headed to get Finnegan's birth certificate from the Health Department and then to the hospital to get Finnegan! We had to bring a cooler to the hospital to bring home the stockpile of breastmilk I had there. It was definitely funny walking into a hospital with a cooler.

This morning, Finnegan had a couple exams before he could go home. He had a general exam by a neonatologist and then an exam by a physical therapist. The physical therapist reported from his assessment that Finnegan is right on target for his age, even though he didn't wake up during any of the exam. ;) Brittany also gave him a bath and weighed and measured him for the last time. He came in a little over 17inches long and about 5lbs 7.5oz.

Finnegan's growth chart from Day 1 to Day 78
 We got him hooked up to his home monitor, changed into his going home clothes, signed some paperwork, picked up his prescriptions, and then took some pictures before we peaced out of the NICU for good! Ian strapped Finnegan into his car seat and we walked through the halls for the last time. We said goodbye to another favorite nurse, Theresa who made me feel wonderful with her kind words. What amazing people we met while we were there!

I'm ready to go home! :)

I love this tag for his car seat! :)
Finnegan's final total for his stay at the NICU was $399,347. He came in about $100,000 less than was anticipated because he didn't need as much as they thought he would! :) All I can say is thank GOD for insurance!

The drive home was uneventful. Finnegan slept the whole time and entertained us with his grunts and groans. When we got home, we introduced Finnegan to his puppies. Kylie and Joey were both a bit unsure of him. Joey was fine with Finnegan until Finn started moving. Kylie tried to lick him a lot, but she never really did. She has been very gentle with him. We fed him right away when we got home and he took a little under his range. Then, mommy and Finnegan took a nap. Finnegan was not happy in his pack'n'play at first, but he settled in and we both slept for a while. We had to wake him up for him to eat, because we can't really let him go longer than 3 hours without eating. He was wide awake while I changed his diaper and continued to be awake until the bottle went in his mouth. We tried for about 40 minutes to wake him up. Ian put him back in his crib and it took him all of 3 minutes before he was wide awake crying to eat. He took the rest of his bottle for daddy and then fell back asleep again. ;) Ian made his first batch of fortified breast milk. He must have made it good because Finnegan is sucking it up as we speak! :)
Joey meets Finnegan :)
Kylie meets Finnegan :)

Passed out after his first bottle at home.
I still can't believe he is home. It was the weirdest feeling sitting with him on the couch and feeding him with the dogs nearby. Our baby is home!

First nap time in his pack'n'play!
Let the real fun begin!

The dogs meeting Finnegan...Joey was more interested in checking out Finn's carseat. :)