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

Wyatt Showing Off His New Truck

Boys and their toys!

Wyatt Playing "Where's My Baby"

Here is Wyatt playing a variation of "peek-a-boo" with me behind the curtain. My silly little monkey! He is doing great at walking around while holding onto furniture, windows and walls for stability. What do you think of his funky version of a crawl? We are trying to get him to put that knee down because it will help with his walking later. But as you can see, Wyatt is stubborn!

Oh, and please excuse the piles of kid toys and such in the background. Mommy was concentrating on having fun today. Funny how chores always wait for us?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Update on Wyatt's Bloodclot

Let's celebrate!

At the last meeting, the IWK heart specialist basically told me that he and the clot team at the IWK feel Wyatt's clot is probably scar tissue. It is still there, and it is approximately 5mm x 5mm. Huge for such a little heart. But if it is scar tissue, it shouldn't break and move. Probably? Shouldn't? As the specialist said, he doesn't have a crystal ball. But these people know their stuff so I will take it for what it is. Good news! And about flipping time too. YAY!!

The electrical workings of his heart is still another matter, but the specialist said the test he conducted was favorable. Len and I both need to have our hearts tested to see if it is more of a genetic thing. So basically, Wyatt is still on the list for the IWK heart clinics but he is not a serious case. Very blessed news!

Sorry for not posting sooner, by the way. I'm having serious issues with carpal tunnel syndrome and radiate pain. Unable to type for a long while. But Wyatt and I thank you, thank you, thank you for all the kind words and prayers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another Look At Baby Wyatt's Heart Blood Clot

I am so very nervous; tomorrow the IWK cardiologist is seeing Wyatt about the blood clot in his heart. My hopes? That it is gone! But I would settle for significantly smaller and looks like it is disappearing. Keep your fingers crossed and your prayers coming for my little man!
And look at what Wyatt can do now!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Crushing News in Oct. 2008 ... Blood Clot In Baby Wyatt's Heart Not Gone

You go to the appointment, hoping, praying that the specialist will say what you what him to say. You've given the needles, you went to all the appointments and stroked your baby's soft sweet smelling hair as he howled with discomfort while being poked, prodded and analyzed. You've agonized over each breastfeeding session, pushing his limits, praying he'll take more so he will grow, therefore making the clot smaller in relation to his heart. And you've prayed that his little body that's been through so much will have absorbed the clot and it is gone. So how do you feel when the specialist looks across the table at you with all the print outs, graphs and numbers in front of him, telling you that it is not gone. That it never changed in size. That there is an indication that the electricity of his heart is abnormal. And if left as is, he will die.
How do you feel?

I so wanted to hear this past, present and looming nightmare was gone. My hopes were high that October morning when Wyatt and I went up to the pediatric ward at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital. We've been waiting for this day since we were discharged from the NICU. The chance to meet with the heart specialist from the IWK Hospital Halifax, Nova Scotia. We went through the usual weight and measurement checks. One week prior, Wyatt had an electrocardiogram (ECG, EKC) done. He had another done while waiting for the specialist.

The specialist had his own technician come Fredericton so that he could be sure the echo cardiogram or ECHO was done the way he normally has it done. Wyatt had had this test done in the NICU and he really does not enjoy it. This time I had a bottle of milk ready to use as a diversion tactic. The technician was a really nice lady who chatted with us, cooing over how big and handsome Wyatt was. Wyatt, being his usual self, flirted something fierce with her! LOL.

I distracted Wyatt with his bottle while she started placing the wires on him, trying to act as calm as I could for Wyatt's sake, but inside I was so nervous and excited. I was sure the clot was gone! It had to be. All those blood thinner needles I gave him had to have worked.

Finally, the sort of fuzzy image of Wyatt's heart appears on the monitor next to Wyatt's bed. And the first thing the cardiac technician says? "Wow, that's the biggest clot I've ever seen."
Stunned, I watched her map the image, taking the measurements and entering data. The specialist comes in and he points out the shape of the clot in Wyatt's heart and down his aorta. It was horrific and fascinating at the same time; I had never actually seen the clot before.
The specialist took the data and advised me he needs to review it first. I'm told to wait in a separate room with Wyatt. At this point, I was trying to keep it together because I know the doctor will not tell me everything if I am falling apart. I've been down that road before. So I wait.
He came in and spread all the print outs on the table. Wyatt's clot is massive. He actually did not have the measurements from the previous NICU echo but it didn't matter. I am told a "clot team" in IWK will have a conference on Wyatt to see how to proceed and that I should be able to stop the Lovenox injections. This shocked me and scared me. What if the clot gets bigger? When I asked this, I was told to continue the injections until Dr. S. hears from the clot team.
And then the specialist pulled out the stripe showing the peaks and valleys of Wyatt's EKG. There was a problem. The test matched with the prior one, showing a pattern that indicated Wyatt may have arrhythmia. This was completely new to me. What could this do to my son? He made reference to young adults and children that have heart failure while playing sports. He tells me so much information but at this point I was so overwhelmed that it is washing over me. I'm nodding my head as he talks, trying to look calm but all I want to do is grab my sleeping son out of his car seat and hug him tight to my chest.
At the end of the meeting, I had to ask. "Can this arrhythmia problem kill my son?" The specialist hesitated before answering me. Yes, if left untreated. I thank him for his time and leave, crying my eyes out as I drive home.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Something To Smile About

Wyatt looking fine at 8 months old!

My little man has definitely come a long way. He is active, mischievous, and of course CUTE!

God bless all those who helped us get here and for all the prayers. Again, thank you so much Don and Chris Wilson of Wilson Builders LTD. for your continued kindness towards my little boy and family. These men are are truly wonderful! Thank you :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Giant Thank You To An Amazing Woman and Friend

I wrote this post over and over in my head for the past few days and I still can't get the words right because it means so much to me. So, I'll just say it straight from the heart.
Donna, thank you. Thank you so much for your gift, for your prayers, and for being in touch when so many were not. Thank you for your wonderful books that helped me to laugh and think of something else for a few precious moments when I desperately needed a break for sanity's sake. Thank you for being a friend. :)
Let me introduce you all to this amazing woman. Donna Alward, born Donna Jones, is a romance writer for Harlequin books. You can visit her at and meet her on her blog at . I grew up with Donna and I can say I've always admired her. (Yes, Donna, it is true!) She was the girl in grade 9 that had the guts to go blond, able to play music and to declare she would one day be a romance writer. I remember her as one of the smart kids with a keen sense of humor, sharp wit, kind heart and being passionate about everything she did. A kind of kid a parent would be proud to have! LOL
Donna writes with all of these qualities and more. Her books can and will make you laugh, cry and fall in love all over again. So for all you moms and dads (yes, dads too!) that need a break, I'd definitely say look for Donna's books. Lord knows how nutty the NICU, Peds ward, and doctor offices can make us. You can find a list of her work with excerpts here. My favorite? Hmmm. They are all fantastic, but Hired By The Cowboy has a soft spot in my heart. :)
Thank you so much Donna!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Free Feeding Diary to print or download

Feeding times and amounts. Soiled diapers and how much. Medications given, how much and when.

Yikes! Almost all moms suffer from "Mommy Brain" at some point. These important facts can fly right out the window when we need them the most. So, here is a journal I made to help me remember, when asked by the many medical professionals.

Another big plus: Helps to give you piece of mind when you are sleep deprived! :)

It is a pdf file you can save and print. I cut mine to size of a coiled notebook and glued it in on each right hand page. That way I could write notes about how Wyatt was doing that day on the lined backside. The nurses and doctors really loved it because it gave them very clear information to work with.


Breastfeeding/Formula Feeding/Diaper/Medication Journal

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Hope you had very happy holidays! It was a whirlwind for my little family. Stressful, but every mom and dad experiences that! LOL

Lots has happened with Wyatt, some good, some disappointing, but over all, I feel very blessed. I'll give you a quick update:

Wyatt was in and out of the hospital twice for colds. Normally, an infant with a cold is a concern but something we parents take in stride. You can't give much to a baby to relieve the symptoms. Good old fashioned rest, fluids and a watchful eye is about all you can do. But when a baby is on oxygen for a time period, their lungs are very fragile and a cold could be the worst thing for them. So Wyatt and I got to hang out at the hospital for a few days. He loved the attention from the nurses and Dr. S.

Wyatt was denied the special needle that really sick babies get during the winter months to boost their respiratory systems. It is frightfully expensive; approx. $1000.00 CND per shot. It is a controlled drug by the government; only few babies can have it and they must meet a criteria. Under a certain weight, had oxygen therapy for a period of time and under 6mths. Dr. B, who was one of the doctors I witnessed save Wyatt's life on a few occasions, was pushing to get Wyatt on the list but he was denied. Too big, too heavy and already 5 months old. RATS. But Dr. S said he feels Wyatt will be fine without it. I just am super cautious of taking him around people with colds.

And to all the parents that contacted me, yes Wyatt is meeting some of his milestones but he is not meeting others. I've got a special post coming with more details. Wyatt and I go to a NICU Follow Up Rehab. Center to work on his physical, mental, and emotional development. A team is following him until he is three. We also have a nurse from Early Intervention visit us at home to show Wyatt and I some play therapy exercises we can do to encourage Wyatt in meeting his milestones. Wyatt LOVES theses "play dates." A nurse from New Brunswick Public Health checks in with us from time to time to see if Wyatt is growing and eating properly.

Speaking of that, he has not been eating and growing very well. It is really stressful. Wyatt was breastfeeding for maybe 30 seconds at a time. Dehydration was and still is a constant problem. He is now up to a 5-10 minute feed at a time, but it is a lot of hard work that gets us there. Sometimes he will eat for more than 20 minutes! That is rare, but when it happens, it is like gold! I still have to top him up with an extra feed of a high calorie bottle (8 oz.) once a day.

At last weigh in, Wyatt was almost 21 pounds and gained in length for his 6 month birthday.
YAY!!! GO TEAM WYATT!!!!! :)