Saturday, July 11, 2009

How to reduce your stress while in the NICU --- These ten simple ways.

Your baby is sick. You're scared. There are machines everywhere and you don't know what is going on or what will happen. As a parent, this could possibly be one of the most stressful situations you will ever be in. How do you cope?

I found staying organized really helped reduce my stress so I could focus all my energy on Wyatt and family and not on distractions. Here are my top ten simple ways to reduce NICU stress:

  1. Bring a book. You will need something to give you a mental break.
  2. Pack a lunch, water and several snacks. Great for the budget and those long after hours.
  3. Have about $5 in change always on you for parking, vending machines, pay phones, etc. ...
  4. Wear very comfortable clothes. You'll be really thankful for this.
  5. Have an extra set of comfortable clothes with you. You'll be REALLY thankful for them when someone poops on your lap or throws up all down the front of you!
  6. Bring a cozy sweater or sweatshirt for yourself. NICUs can be rather cool.
  7. Bring an outfit or item for baby that represents the "normal world" for you both. I saw other moms and dads have cute little outfit on a hangers by baby's bed. I had a mobile and a stuffed giraffe for Wyatt.
  8. Have a pen and notebook with you. Information will be coming at you from everywhere and it will be overwhelming at times. Jotting down notes of what you are told helps you feel in control. Plus the journaling/recording aspect is comforting. It's an instant reminder of how far you've come when you need it at your fingertips.
  9. Have a phone tree in place. It's very nice to know you can call one person with updates and that person will pass them on to the next family member/friend on your list. Sometimes it gets really hard to say the same news over and over again to everyone when all you want to do is be by baby's side.
  10. Have a personal music player filled with whatever sounds that relax you the most.

Everyone has their own personal list and I really wish someone had given me some tips when I started going to the unit. Being uncomfortable or unprepared magnifies stress on an already full stress plate.

Hope this helps! What are/were some of your stress relievers?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's 3:00AM... Why Am I Still Up?

Have you ever experienced this? Wyatt decided to sleep howl again. Not sure why he is doing this, but it really is frustrating. No fair! I want to howl too, but I don't get to do the sleep part. UGH!

Once I got him calmed down, he wakes up and decides it is time to play. So here I am, sitting on the floor in the living room, surrounded by a sea of blocks, rolling a ball back and forth between us. He thinks I'm clapping 'coz he is doing such a fine job. HA! Mommy is clapping to keep herself awake. Silly silly boy. Crazy crazy mommy.

Wahhh, I want my bed!

Over tired. Wyatt is curled up in his cribby and I can't sleep. Ain't that just a peach. sigh

Saturday, July 4, 2009

New FVA Video About Antidepressants and PPHN

I found this very interesting. And frightening.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Soothie, Thumb Sucking And Pacifiers, Oh My!

What's your take on pacifiers or soothers?

There is conflicting emotions and information surrounding a parent's use of these little baby items. Do they ruin the shape of a baby's mouth and mean you will have a HUGE orthodontics bill in the future? Do they make a child stay "baby-like" longer and hinder his/her development socially? Are they portals for germs? Do they inhibit breast feeding because they confuse baby? I'm sure you've heard many more...

Most babies learn to suck their thumbs in the womb. Some, like my little Lila and Wyatt, do not. And that is very frustrating. Why? I had a heck of a time getting them to latch onto both bottles and breast. Lila, of course, had an easier time of it compared to Wyatt, but it still was very hard training her to eat. As I've mentioned before, we had to finger feed her in the NICU for about a week. That is were a thin sterile tube attached to a sterile beaker filled with milk is slipped into the mouth of an infant as they suck on a shielded finger. Some use a full surgical glove and some wear only one finger cut from a non latex glove. Lila and Wyatt looked a little strange doing this; they were such big babies in the NICU next to all the preemies! Lila took off like a house on fire after she got the hang of eating with her mouth. As you know, Wyatt found it rough.

I had to coax Wyatt to suck on a soother. Dr. S and Dr. B needed to see that before giving the green light to feed by mouth. It could be very dangerous if he didn't know what to do with the fluid in his mouth. If it went into his lungs it could drown him, start an infection, etc. . The doctors didn't want me to get my hopes up. Wyatt's brain scan was very bad. He may not have the cognitive ability for that basic motor skill. He may just lay, sleep and eat through a nasal feeding tube for the rest of his life. But I really wanted to try.

The soothers the NICU uses are a medical grade silicone called a soothie. These soothers are tough and could be sterilized over and over again without breakdown. They only had the little tiny purple ones for the preemies; they don't usually get big babies in the NICU. Wyatt has a high palette, and these tiny soothers didn't really work for him. I didn't want to use a regular latex soother or the commercial silicone ones. They cannot be continuously sterilized and after the staph infection scare with Wyatt, NOTHING but medical grade silicone was going into my baby's mouth! I ordered a couple off eBay like the ones in the picture. They are AWESOME.

Now, at almost 13 months, Wyatt's molars are pushing up and he is miserable. At night he will wake up and only breast feeding will get him back to sleep. He doesn't have a soother because I'm afraid he will chomp a piece off and choke. He's got all his other teeth and they are razor sharp. He's bit the top off several bottle nipples already. I've tried teething blankets, soft and quiet teething toys but they don't work for nighttime. Nothing but Momma will do.

So, back to the soother question. I just found out soothie makes a tough teething soother for toddlers called a Super Soothie and I am tempted. The idea of getting a full night's sleep makes me want to run out and buy a box of them.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Free Fitted Crib Sheet Pattern - How To Make It Fit Your Crib Mattress

The crib sheets I make fit the "standard" crib mattress here in Canada. But you could make the sheets custom fit for your mattress.

I just measured Wyatt's mattress and it is 27.5 x 52.5 inches. It is 5.5 inches in height. Remember, the height is KEY in getting the snug fit. My key in this case was 8.75 inches... here is the math:

8.75 - 5.5 = 3.25 the material UNDER THE MATTRESS. Gotta stay put somehow!

3.25 - 0.75(seam allowance) = 2.5 inches ... The actual fabric on the underside of mattress.

Here is how I figured out how much pre-washed and shrunk fabric I needed for the overall sizing:

27.5 + 8.75 + 8.75 = 45 inches

52.5 + 8.75 + 8.75 = 70 inches

So the formula for you is:

(mattress height)+(how much fabric you want under mattress so it stays put)+(your seam allowance)= Squares at corner you cut.


(Your mattress width on top)+ "the square" = the width of fabric AFTER IT WAS WASHED AND DRIED.

(Your mattress length on top)+"the square" = the length of fabric AFTER IT WAS WASHED AND DRIED.

And that's your crib sheet!

Happy sewing!

Momma Melissa

Monday, June 22, 2009


Breastfeeding. It's a personal choice but is also about how easy you can get the hang of it.

Funny how some babies do it so naturally and some do not. My Tressa was definitely in the "do not" category. We literally wrestled with breastfeeding for about 3 months before she and I got the hang of it. And when we did, it was wonderful! Very convenient and comforting for us. We still had our ups and downs but we hung in for one year. Lila was born without knowing how to suck her thumb. We were in the NICU for about a week while we learned to first "finger feed" then suck on a bottle, then breastfeed. Lila, like Tressa, was ravenous all the time but we had very little problems breastfeeding when we came home expect for having to breastfeed all the time. We were able to hang in there for a year as well.

And Wyatt, my poor little guy, he did not get that chance to learn at the breast. As you know, he could not even be touched at the beginning. Paralyzed, the only way he could eat was by receiving total parenteral nutrition or TPN through a central intravenous catheter in his umbilical vein. The goal was to get him off it as fast as possible so not to harm his liver. But is liver became enlarged, his bilirubin went sky high and jaundice set in. Yuck.

Eventually, Wyatt was able to drink my breast milk through a feeding tube. That took some getting use to! I had to pump and store it in a fridge right in the NICU because Wyatt was on a constant feeding program as part of his treatment. And my little guy had a real problem with reflux. He was affectionately called the "Prince of Puke" and the "Regent of Regurgitation." Once he was awake and off the breathing tubes, I could hold him and hold the tube to control the flow of milk by raising and lowering the tube. If the milk went in too fast, Wyatt would spew. Fun times, let me tell you!

I wasn't comfortable with tube feeding. I was warned that there was a huge possibility Wyatt and I would be tube feeding at home. Dr. S. and Dr. B respected my desire to attempt train him to breastfeed in the NICU while they were trying to get everything else that was going on with him under control. His brain scan had come back really bad and they weren't even sure if Wyatt had the brain capacity to suck on a soother. Despite these grim warnings, I could feel it inside me that Wyatt could do it. So, Wyatt and I worked really hard at learning how to suck on a soother. This picture breaks my heart; look how tired and sick he is here.

Wyatt needed to grow. Nutrition was the key and there could be no error in his receiving it. Unfortunately, no one told Wyatt or he was simply not listening. Wyatt's favorite game was pull the feeding tube out of his nose while the feeding pump was on and spray milk all over his crib. He could do it within seconds and always when Mommy or the nurses were distracted for a moment. These tubes were meant to stay in for a few weeks and were expensive. At first, the tube was taped on with cute surgical tape hearts. Latter, the nurses still gave him hearts, but there was more strips than hearts stuck to his face. After he was up to pulling it out 2 to 3 times a day, they started to put the daily disposable ones in. They don't cost as much.

From soother, to finger feeding, to bottle and finally to breast, Wyatt learned to eat and was able to come home. He had some very strange quirks though. He could not eat for more than 5 minutes for the first several months home. In fact, most times it was 30 t0 40 seconds before he was exhausted and needed a break. You can imaging how long our feedings would last. He also did not exhibit signs of being hungry. (Dr. B. thought that might be due to his brain being damaged in that area that controls that function, but I can happily say Wyatt now howls when he wants his food!) And to top it off, Wyatt did not want to be touched when eating. Football hold, cross-cradle, cradle, lying down, and the tailor positions? Forget about it! Very quickly we learned a variation of lying down with only my nipple in contact with him. Me with whiplash, bad back, and nerve damage. You can imagine how fun that was! After we were in and out of the hospital with feeding and not gaining weight issues, we eventually got the hang of it once we added "dancer hand" into the mix. Thank goodness for the lactation nurses and consultants in the Mother Baby Clinic at the D.E.C.H.!
Now that Wyatt is a year old I feel like patting myself and him on the back. Breastfeeding a child with challenges is VERY hard but definitely worth it. Breast milk is best milk but I don't knock a mother's choice for using formula. I had to "top up" Wyatt with a higher calorie formula to help ensure he would grow. We parents need to do whatever we need to do for our little ones!
So the question now is for how long should we breast feed?

Friday, June 12, 2009


I'm so chuffed up with pride! You know his physio therapy people are going to be thrilled. Wait till Dr. S., Dr. B, the NICU nurses, Nancy, Peggy and the rest of the gang see this. Go Team Wyatt!!! LOL