Monthly Archives: August 2012

Living with an Apnea Monitor

One thing that has taken some getting used to when we brought Aoife home is using an apnea monitor. I wanted to write about this because people often have questions about the mysterious wires leading from our baby when we are out and about, and also there are many people who are unfamiliar with apnea monitors when their children require them — we were unaware of them until my family and the doctors mentioned the possibility of having one.

We are renting the machine until Aoife’s pediatrician decides that it is no longer needed. Many premature babies have apnea episodes – they stop breathing for a certain period while they are sleeping. Aoife had a couple of these episodes while still in the hospital, where she was treated with caffeine (yes, she DID have an IV of caffeine — eat your heart out, java junkies!). When she came off the caffeine, she was monitored further in case there were any more apnea episodes. The apnea monitor, once we came home, enables us to know if Aoife has any more episodes – it gives a very loud beep if her heart rate falls outside of the desired range or if she doesn’t take a breath in a certain number of seconds.

Having the monitor is great, because we know if something was wrong, the machine would beep. Driving in the car and can’t see her in the car seat? Going to bed and leaving her in her crib in the other room? No worries!  It measures everything through two electrodes, one on either side of her chest that are secured by a thin foam belt. There are wires that lead from each electrode to the machine. The machine also beeps if the cords become disconnected, which can be frustrating when you are trying to wrangle a squirming baby or transferring a sleeping baby to the crib. So not only do we have crazy beeps to tend to – we are also tethered to a machine by an 8-foot cord at all times. The only time Aoife doesn’t wear the monitor is when she gets a bath. So if we want to go for a walk in the stroller, the machine comes too. Sitting outside on the porch, going shopping for groceries, being held by Grandma – the monitor is always there.

The good news is – it’s not there forever! Aoife has been episode-free for several weeks, and we will talk with her pediatrician at her next appointment about possibly discontinuing the use of the monitor. We are overjoyed that we will be able to carry Aoife around and not have to worry about stepping on cords or how long the unit has been running on battery power and when it needs charged again – but we will have to learn how to live without this safety net. It will be a challenge for all of us, but I think we are ready for that challenge.

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Surprise!

The best laid plans …

So little Aoife, who was due on August 10, decided to grace us with her presence eight weeks early.

It’s a little surprising and scary when your water breaks only one week after your baby shower, and one day after being at an out-of-town family reunion. And it’s even more surprising and scary when you find out that you will be flown in a helicopter to a hospital three hours away! Above all, it is scary to see your brand new baby girl surrounded by cords and wires and tubes and connected to monitors that flash and beep while in the NICU.

That said, it is a GREAT feeling to know that she is healthy and is being taken care of by the best doctors and nurses possible.

Over time, Aoife was able to come off the IV and eventually her feeding tube was removed as well. After just a couple of days in the NICU, Aoife was moved to a special care room where I could stay as well (and where I spent most of my time). Between feeding times, I had just enough time to grab a bite to eat in the hospital cafeteria (surprisingly delicious!) OR grab a shower OR get a bit of sleep – but never all three!

After three weeks of hard work growing, Aoife was ready to come home. She was just over 5 pounds when we left the hospital for the three-hour drive home (which becomes a 7-hour drive when you have to stop to nurse a baby and stop to get health insurance information up to date).

Suddenly, a week after we got home, she was one month old. Already! Aoife continues to grow and get bigger and stronger. She has grown so much lengthwise that she has outgrown some of her newborn-size outfits already.

So what happened here at home in all that time I was away? Our fantastic families pitched in to take care of the dog and the cats and clean our house, and they helped the proud papa get the nursery ready so that Aoife had a place to sleep when she finally got to come home.

It’s been a very crazy summer, and everything that does not involve this little girl has been put on the back burner. However, I have learned that time spent nursing is also a great time to think of things to blog about! Be warned, there may be some baby-centric posts coming your way.

I hope to focus on handy tips and tricks that I’ve learned from parents who are much more experienced than I am, as well as life after baby in general: getting back into running and exercising, finding time to keep up my busy reading schedule, and of course, the great stuff I make (and as time goes on, the great stuff Aoife and I make together).

So far, blogging with baby just means that I stop every few sentences to kiss this little head, so accessible when Aoife dozes on my lap as I type. It’s addictive, I tell you.