Monday, July 30, 2012

So You Didn't Want It Washed?

Something funny happened this morning that I wanted to write down so I'll never forget!

This morning started off like any other: Carter asleep on the bed while Brycen and I watch Disney Junior, breakfast soon after, blog updating...After all of that was done I was out in the kitchen when Brycen came in with his blanket. He had a big smile on his face and pointed to the pantry while talking his regular jibberish. I could tell he was talking about his blanket, but I wasn't sure what he wanted. I followed him into the pantry where the washer and dryer are also. He pointed to the washer and held up his blanket.

I asked, "Do you want your blanket washed?"

He kept pointing and talking about his blanket, then he lifted his arms like he wanted me to pick him up. I picked him up and he reached down to lift up the lid on the washer. I was a little leery of what was going on because he hates it when his blanket gets washed. Needless to say, I was scared of the outcome. I pulled the lid up and he proceeded to put his blanket in. I helped him out and kept asking him with a bit of concern, "Do you want your blanket washed?"

Then he pointed to the Tide pods. I opened the container, picked one up to show it to him, asking again if he wanted his blanket washed, and he pointed to the washer (again with a smile). So in the pod went.

At this point the water would come on. I hesitated to do anything more and was ready to pull the blanket and pod out when Brycen pointed to the knob to turn on the washer. I said, "Are you sure you want your blanket washed?" And in fluent jibberish I'm pretty sure he told me to turn on the washer. He pointed and pointed, all the while with a smile. So I turned on the water and closed the lid. He clapped and I was happy. Great! He wants to wash his blanket! That means I don't have to hurry and do it sometime while he's not looking.

I put him down and started walking out of the pantry. That's when the meltdown of the century happened. Brycen started screaming and screaming, begging for his blanket. I told him I thought he wanted it washed, but that didn't matter one bit. He wanted that blanket back and he wanted it now. I picked him up, opened the lid, and we watched as his beloved blanket was getting soaked by water. He cried and cried. Then he hit me. And cried. Then hit me. Then cried. (He's in quite the hitting phase.)

I tried to explain that his blanket was getting a bath like he gets a bath. That didn't work at all. I had nothing. 

In the meantime, Carter woke up crying and needed changed and fed. Brycen cried the entire time I changed Carter, still lovingly lying next to him petting his head like usual. He followed me out of the bedroom crying and continued to cry as I gave Carter a bottle. At one point he walked up to me in anger and put his hand out like he was going to hit the baby. He took that raised hand and, changing his mind, gently set it on Carter's head, then pet his hair softly. Right after that, he smacked me right in the face. I couldn't help but laugh at the drama.

After the blanket was done washing I had to run in and put it in the dryer. He followed me, saw his blanket come out, went to hug it, then in shock started crying because it was wet. I tried to explain that it was time for the blanket to dry, but that didn't matter. Thankfully, the dryer worked at super speed and the blanket was dry really fast. Brycen is now happy and watching a show with his blanket and "Melmo". Talk about drama!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Toddler

This is the latest on what our little Brycen man is doing these days!

Brycen still loves walking around the apartment with his shorts off. I think the only time he ever has pants on is if we have company over or if we're going out. He also really likes putting Tyson's shoes and flip flops on and attempting to walk around. It makes things extra difficult when he gets them on the wrong feet!

I like to give him milk with his breakfast. Every now and then I put a little Quik in his milk for a little flavor. Oftentimes he wants more, so I get the milk back out and pour more milk in his cup. He freaks out every time and starts pointing at the Quik. I have to explain to him that he's drinking milk and that the Quik is what makes the milk taste yummy. As I'm pouring the milk he screams and screams till he sees the brown or pink powder of the Quik (depending on the flavor) and laughs when he sees me put it in the milk.

He loves his little brother, but he gets really jealous when Tyson is holding him. At first it was jealousy whenever either of us held Carter, but now it's just Tyson. Brycen has gotten a lot louder since Carter came home. He doesn't necessarily yell, he just talks a lot more loudly and says "hi" a lot. We can tell he's just trying to get attention. But we're trying our best to give him that attention that he's seeking. He knows things are different and doesn't like it.

He'll go in our bedroom where Carter sleeps and watch him. He'll whisper and say, "Shhh" to me, then he'll just start yelling. I'll ask him why he's yelling if he's the one who said to be quiet. Then he just yells some more. That's the point where we leave the room and let Carter sleep. Thankfully Carter is used to sleeping in loud surroundings because of his NICU stay. All those crying babies, loud beeps, and chatty parents and nurses sure helped us all out! It's amazing what he can sleep through.

Lately we've been letting Brycen out of the cart to walk around the store with us. Last night we were at Hobby Lobby and he and I were walking together. He realized Tyson had gone a different direction. He looked at me, put his hands up and asked, "A Daddy?" Then he scratched his head, put his hand on his hip, and started looking around the corners. We walked around for a minute or two looking for Tyson and I just laughed and laughed watching Brycen scratch his head and put his hands on his hips.

Yesterday I was feeding Carter and Brycen was sitting next to me. I started quizzing him on parts of the body and he was getting them all right. Right now he can point out hair, eyes, nose, ears, mouth, belly button, hands, feet, and toes. I knew we were done when I asked, "Where's your elbow?" He put his hands up in the air and looked around like he was searching for something. He got off the couch and went to his room, then came back with his little stuffed Elmo. With a big grin on his face he said, "Melmo!"

Brycen really likes to watch when Carter is getting dressed or getting his diaper changed. I'll put Carter up on the changing table and Brycen will want me to pick him up. I'll tell him if he wants to watch to go grab a blanket and put it on the floor so we can put Carter on it. He usually grabs his Stacy Pasley blanket and places it on the floor. Then he grabs the travel changing mat and we put Carter on top of it. He also has to make sure we have everything out on the floor with us: a diaper, the wipes, and an extra outfit. While I'm changing Carter, Brycen will lie on the floor with his head next to his and kiss him. He'll also pet his head and talk to him. It's pretty cute.

Newest words:
  • "mote" (remote)
  • "cuck" (duck)
  • "cuck" (yuck) This gets a little confusing sometimes!
  • "cack" (quack)
  • "Gooey" (Goofy)
  • "bana" (baby)
  • "bana" (blanket) Another confusing one.
  • "Octnot" (Octonauts) 
  • "Melmo" (Elmo) 
  • "boakt" (broke)
  • juice
  • cheese

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Things have been a little stressful at the Miller household lately, to say the least! After Carter coming home from the hospital, we're now on to packing up our apartment for moving next week. With everything going on, I completely forgot to let Brycen have a chance to hold Carter and get a picture of it. I happened to think about it today and Tyson was home from work for Pioneer Day. We put Brycen on our bed and the fun began! (And yes, Carter's hair is looking red these days! Brycen's looked just like this when he was this age.)

 Brycen was so excited to hold Carter!

 He sure loves his little brother.

 He loves giving Carter kisses on the head.

 Holding him got old and he pushed him away. It reminded me of stories my mom has told us of when my brother Aaron would hold us as babies. When he was done he would just push us right off his lap ha ha.

 Tyson asked, "Where's Carter's nose?"

 Brycen likes to pet Carter's head.

Brycen discovered that he can put his finger in Carter's binky.

By the time we took Carter off the bed and moved on with the day, Brycen was so sad! He cried and wanted us to put Carter back on the bed. He loves his little brother!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tell the World I'm Coming Home

July 13, 2012 is a day that will go down in Miller family history as one of the best days of our lives! It was the day our baby Carter finally made his debut at home. Five weeks and six days after his birth we were finally able to bring him home. It's another day that sits right up there with our wedding day, the birth of our children, and the day Brycen came home from his own NICU visit. Friday the 13th is no longer an unlucky day!

On Wednesday, July 11th, Tyson and I had received word that a house we were really interested in renting was pretty much being held for us to see and take simply because the woman renting it liked me. Wow! But that's a different post for a different day! About an hour of being told that bit of exciting information I received a call from the McKay-Dee NICU. Every time I got a phone call from the NICU my heart dropped a little into my stomach. I was always so worried about what they were going to say to me. They don't usually call parents unless there is an issue with the baby or if there are necessary steps that need taken to ensure the baby's health and they need parental permission. I answered the phone and it was Teresa, one of the neonatologists in the NICU. She explained that Carter had been doing really well and for us to plan on bringing him home on Friday. I was so shocked I didn't even know what to do with myself. She had all kinds of details I needed to write down so I shakily found a pen and paper and scratched down all the information: when to bring his carrier in for the car seat test, Infant CPR Training, training for the stats monitor he would be coming home on as well as the oxygen, etc. After I hung up the phone I didn't know what to do with myself. Tyson was at work so I couldn't call him. Amber and Mom were at girls camp and couldn't talk either. My brain stopped from there and I didn't think to call any other soul on the planet. Not Grandma, my besty Ashlee, my sister-in-law Britney...not anybody! So I just started walking around. And around...and around. I walked around the apartment with a brain working on overload. I was so excited!! When I finally came to my senses I looked around and all I could see was a messy house. So Brycen and I went right to work getting things cleaned up and ready for Carter to come home. That was a wonderful afternoon!

The next two days were painfully long. The plan was for Carter to come home Friday morning, but since Tyson worked all day I decided it would be best to wait for him to get off work and come with me to get Carter. Carter also had to be able to go those remaining days without dropping his stats. While in the NICU there was a little baby named Yanelli who was getting ready to be discharged, and that very same day she had an incident where her stats dropped and she had to stay for another week. It was heart wrenching seeing her parents look so sad. On Friday I watched the clock all day long just waiting for Tyson to be done with work. We used some of our day taking Brycen to Wendy's and trying to enjoy one more lunch just the three of us. Brycen had a great time eating his chicken nuggets and playing with his new ultra cheap kids meal toy while Tyson and I sat there sick to our stomachs. We were so excited and anxious that we could hardly eat anything.

We dropped Brycen by our friends the Parrish's house around 5:30 and went right up to the hospital to get Carter. Tyson went to the pharmacy to pick up Carter's multivitamin and acid reflux medication while I went up for training on how to use the oxygen tank. The night before I went up for a visit and to learn Infant CPR and how to use the stats monitor Carter would be going home on. We would need the oxygen just in case Carter's stats dropped and he needed a little extra help. Talk about a stressful training time! I didn't ever want to have to use any of what I was learning (besides the monitor). Tyson came in soon after the oxygen tank training and we went right away to getting the discharge paperwork reviewed and signed.

Then it was time to get going!

First, Carter needed to be put in some of his own jammies. Only one time did we put something on him that was ours while he was in the NICU and that was on the Fourth of July. There are so many parents who end up losing their babies' clothes because they get lost in the laundry at the hospital. I didn't want to take that chance. It sure felt good to get Carter's own clothing on him!
(Brycen came home from the NICU in Idaho Falls in this same jammy!)

 Then he got attached to the monitor and put in his carrier. He started getting really hungry and mad before we left. Poor kid!
 See the little light inside his jammies on his left foot? That's where the monitor detects his oxygen.

Time to go! We were so excited!!

Getting ready to say goodbye to Carter's home for the first almost six weeks of his life.

 Goodbye, McKay-Dee NICU! You sure were good to us!

The next fun moment was introducing Brycen to Carter for the very first time. We knew from the beginning that Brycen wouldn't get to meet his little brother till he came home, whenever that would be. It was so fun opening the door to the van and seeing the look on Brycen's face when he saw this screaming baby sitting there. It was a look of concern more than anything, but it sure was wonderful watching him meet Carter!

As soon as we got home Carter got a bottle. It felt great feeding him in the comfort of our own home! We're just so happy to have him here. What a blessing it is to finally have all four of us under one roof. I love my family!

And since then...

The night Carter came home was one of the longest nights of our lives. And not because Carter kept us up all night. That stupid stats monitor was the culprit! Not only did it beep constantly because it either wasn't reading well or Carter's oxygen dropped for a split second, but the beeping was SOOOOO loud! It was like the loudest alarm clock in the world. After a horrible first night we decided to see what it would be like if Carter wasn't on the monitor at all. We hesitantly took him off it and watched him closely all day. He did really well without it. We haven't put it on him since and we feel just fine about it. He seems to be doing better and better everyday so we haven't seen the need for it. Hopefully things continue to go that way! 

Carter has been on Enfamil AR for his acid reflux. He's also been taking Zantac. The first three nights Carter was home were so long and tiring. He did pretty good until about midnight/1:00ish then just cried and cried till about 4:30 am each night. It was so exhausting. On Sunday night Carter was crying so hard that he made me want to cry. I asked Tyson to give Carter a father's blessing for his sake and ours. It was a really nice blessing. Soon after, Tyson and I talked about the possibility of Carter having colic so we started thinking of what we could do for him. Amber had experience in this field with Tayen and had to switch his formulas so many times so I decided to call her. It was 4:00 in the morning, but we had to try and help Carter anyway we could. She told us about the gentle formula for sensitive stomachs that she gives Tayen and it's really helped him. She also told us that acid reflux can cause colic in babies. Tyson immediately ran out to get the formula and we made Carter a bottle as soon as he came back. He ate the bottle, cried for a few minutes, then went right to sleep straight into morning for about four hours. It was wonderful! We decided to continue on with this formula in hopes that it will help Carter and make a difference. 

Carter has really bad acid reflux. Every time he has a bottle he cries in pain because of the reflux. We have to hold him up for 30 minutes after he eats to help him out. When Carter was being discharged we were told that he was going home on Zantac. We thought it was weird to change his prescription (he had been on Prevacid) but didn't think much of it. The only problem was that the Zantac didn't seem to be doing very much at all. Carter was still in a lot of pain and just cried and cried after every bottle. Poor baby! It's been horrible to watch. We went to his appointment with the pediatrician and explained my concerns about the medication and maybe the possibility of switching to something else. She gave me a funny smile and then explained that it said in our chart that Tyson and I had asked them to switch him from Prevacid to Zantac because we didn't think it was working. Say what? I was annoyed. Somehow there had been a misunderstanding. She wrote us a prescription and he started the Prevacid Wednesday night. We hope to see some changes soon.  

At that same appointment his doctor let me know that we needed to get him in for an ultrasound and x-rays on his hips. Where he was footling breech and in there the way he was, they have reason to worry that he might have some hip problems. From her eye she doesn't think he has any problems. But they want to make sure by having an ultrasound and x-rays. The ultrasound is scheduled for next week.

Carter went back to the pediatrician's office yesterday for his baby boy surgery. His pediatrician won't do the surgery on babies older than 2 weeks so she referred us to someone in the office who will do the surgery on babies up to 8 weeks. He barely made the cut! (No pun intended.) He was so tough and did really well. He's been through so much lately! Poor little boy. He was weighed at this appointment and weighs 7lb 12oz. A whole three pounds heavier than at birth! That's so amazing to me.

All in all, things have been going well at home. As soon as we can get this acid reflux under control things will be a lot easier for everybody. It's hard watching your baby cry in pain and not be able to do anything to help them. We're praying that the Prevacid will work and if it doesn't, hopefully we can find something else to help him. Any suggestions on what to do for acid reflux babies would be much appreciated!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Closing a Chapter in Our Lives

Thirty pages and 19,836 words later, Carter's NICU  journal is done. I started writing a NICU journal for him the day he was born and I just wrote my final entry. What a process this has been! When I look back and read here and there I realize how I've forgotten so many little things that happened. I read my excitement as 4lb Carter moved up from eating 7cc's to 12cc's.  Or when he took milk from a bottle for the very first time. And the day his IV was removed. It seems like so long ago. we are! He's a healthy, 6lb 14 1/2oz baby eating 80cc's from a bottle.

It's 3:00 pm and I've been trying to keep myself busy, anxiously awaiting Tyson's arrival home from work so we can take Brycen to our friends' house and then head up to the hospital to get Carter. I have a lot of emotions and feelings running through me right now. I'm so nervous for him to come home on this stats monitor and I'm hoping I never have to use the oxygen on him. We'll be doing training for the oxygen use tonight. But at the same time, I'm so thrilled for him to be coming home. It will be wonderful having him at home with us and we know the nurses wouldn't send him home if they didn't think he was ready. Brycen and I met Tyson for lunch today and I felt sick the whole time. We both did! We felt so excited and anxious we could hardly eat.

What a wonderful day this is! We look back on the day that Brycen came home from the hospital back when he was in the NICU at EIRMC in Idaho Falls. His 9-day stay seemed like a lifetime. Carter's stay ended up being 5 weeks and 6 days long and in a way it felt the same. And what really makes them the same is the feeling we have today as we're preparing to bring Carter home. It's the exact same feeling we had when Brycen came home: pure joy. It's hard to explain in words how excited we are about this day. If you saw me in person you'd be able to tell! We're just thrilled!

We feel so blessed to have the friends and family that we have. I've been amazed at how many people have been following Carter's story, whether I know them or not. My blog post titled "Carter's Story" went a little more viral than I thought and I've gotten a lot of outreach and heartfelt messages from many people all over the country. I've heard from people who said they heard from people they work with and others who read his story and have been keeping up with him ever since. It's amazing! The picture I posted on Monday of Carter with his feeding tube gone received 126 likes and 36 comments in two days. I posted on Facebook this morning that Carter is coming home tonight. Within 30 seconds there were 18 likes and 3 comments. It's 3:00 pm right now and there are 153 likes and 31 comments on that same status update. It's truly just been amazing! We are so touched by all of the love we have around us. It means so much to us that so many people out there care about us. We don't talk much with most of the "likes", but just that simple "like" shows us that you care. We might as well have been given a hug for each "like" because it feels just the same. (Make that 154 likes on the status! ha ha) We really feel so blessed right now.

At this time I wish to say once more how much we appreciate all of the prayers that have been said on our behalf and on Carter's behalf. Our lives have been touched by those prayers and we've felt them working since he was born. We are so grateful to all of you who have been there for us and supported us during this incredibly trying time. We're so happy to be getting Carter home with us! What a blessing this day will be.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Carter Update

Wow, I can't believe it's been 5 1/2 weeks since our little guy was born. This week has been full of ups and downs, but thankfully more ups. It started Sunday afternoon. We got home from church and I went over to the hospital. Carter had all of a sudden been eating a ton of food. He takes around 60cc's in his bottle but was taking well over 70 all morning. He had been sad and refluxy throughout as well, but he was eating. Great! I started feeding him and he was chugging it. He was eating it SO fast and it was almost too fast. I had to keep tipping the bottle out of his mouth so he could catch up. He cried a lot and arched his back in pain as he refluxed. Poor baby. It's so hard to watch that. The nurse was excited that he was eating and so was I. But for some reason I felt like something wasn't right. I talked to his nurse about how bad he has been lately with reflux. She mentioned the possibility of him maybe trying a little bit of formula to see if it helps him. She said I should bring it up to the doctor on Monday.

I left the hospital excited but not. I knew he was doing so much better all of a sudden, but something just didn't feel right. I called Tyson and told him the news. He was really excited. Then I told him my feelings of uneasiness. I didn't think too much more of it and that I just shouldn't get my hopes up about anything. That had to have been why I was feeling that way.

Tyson's parents and sister, Tacie, came to town that afternoon and Tyson took them to see Carter. Tacie just loved him and got to hold him. It makes us feel so good when our family members are so excited to see and hold him. There was a doctor there who knew how well he had done that day. He told Tyson that Carter could probably have his feeding tube out to see how he does. It was an exciting thought, but the nurse didn't think it was a good idea. When Tyson told me about that I agreed with the nurse, and that same weird feeling came back to me that I'd had earlier.

By the time they got back his brother, Dustin, and his family were at our apartment. That night I took Erika to the NICU to see Carter. We got there around 9:00 and Erika got to hold him. We talked about how different he looks since she held him last and how he looks great. He had already eaten through his feeding tube by the time we got there so we just held him. Erika held him first then we traded. At around 11:30ish I was holding him and his stats dropped. His little face started turning blue and it freaked me out. I rubbed his head and back to get him to snap out of it...but nothing. The nurse took him from me and put him in his bed. She and the other nurse were trying to help him breathe-holding oxygen right up against his face and moving him around. It took some time to get him back where he should be. I sat there crying as I watched all of this happening. During that time I had two thoughts: "Please let him be ok" and "I'm so sick of all of this". Erika sat there with me with tears in her eyes as well. I was so glad she was there with me. It was nice to have that support and someone to talk to on the way back to the apartment. Before we left, the nurse told us that he probably had too big of a day and worked way too hard with his food all day. He probably ate way too much and wore himself out hard. My bad feeling earlier had been validated with all of this happening.

We got home and I told Tyson what had happened. He was so bummed and I felt bad. He had gotten his hopes up about what the doctor had said earlier about Carter's feeding tube. We were both so sad, knowing that Carter's episode bought him at least another week in the NICU.

I hardly slept that night because I was so worried about Carter. The next morning I called the NICU to check on him. It was decided that Carter needed some thicker food so he was started on Enfamil AR (added rice). The nurse said he was doing really well on it. Because it is thicker, it doesn't come up as easily as milk does, if at all. I was so happy to hear that! We went to Lagoon with Tyson's family that day and came home, looked at a house for rent, then I went to the hospital. His nurse told me when I got there that he had done really well all day and had taken all of his bottles. No gavaging at all! The formula seemed to be working really well. They would be starting mixing milk back into his bottles on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday morning I called the NICU to have them adjust his bed under the webcam. My mom was about to leave for girls camp and wanted to see him one more time before she left. She moved his little bed and told me how he ate all of his bottles all night and hasn't had an episode of stats dropping since Sunday night. About six hours later she called me to see if I would be in to feed him during the day. I said no because I had Brycen. I asked how Carter was doing since I talked to her last and she said he was awesome. The formula was making a radical difference in him and was helping big time. All afternoon I thought about how well he was doing and how they would be putting milk back in his bottles soon. I felt weird about that. If he was doing so well, I wasn't sure I wanted them changing things up again.

Tyson went to the NICU to hold Carter and got there just in time to feed him the last half of his bottle. He drank it well. He talked to Carter's nurse about the possibility of not adding the milk in his bottle and she said that was perfectly fine. He said he'd talk to me more about it then I would come in with my decision. When he got home we talked about it and decided not to add the milk. We didn't see a point. He's doing so well on this formula and the milk is what's making his reflux so bad. If we want to add milk in later we will. But for now, we just want our baby home. It's pretty ironic that the thing that's so wonderful for the babies was actually setting my baby back. He's not lactose intolerant though. The milk is just a lot thinner and it makes his stomach acid worse. It comes up way too easily. He'll be able to eventually have it and I'll add what I have stored in the freezer back into his bottles. But for now we're gladly sticking with the formula.

I came to the NICU last night to find this wonderful sight:

 No more feeding tube!!

He has done so well with his feedings that he earned it being taken out. We're so proud!! I haven't seen his face like this since the day he was born. He's had tubes attached to him ever since. The nurse was feeding him the last half of his bottle when I got there so I finished feeding him, just like Tyson did earlier. It was so wonderful seeing him eat without that pesky feeding tube in his nose!

I let the nurse know about our decision to just do the formula and she thought it was a good idea. There's no point in keeping him in the hospital longer just to test out if he can handle milk. I've never been one to believe that breast milk is the only thing I can give my babies anyway so this was a very easy decision for me. No matter how good that breast milk is for him, it's obviously doing more harm than good right now. It is the best nutrition he can receive, yes. But it's just too thin and hard on his tummy. Yes, we could add thickener to it. But it's still the milk that's hard on him right now. Not worth a longer NICU stay! I'll talk the formula!

On Sunday I hesitantly asked the nurse what I should do if I decide to stop pumping. Tyson and I had been talking about it and I'm afraid of what it's going to be like when I'm trying to pump and take care of two kids. I haven't been able to nurse Carter and I'd have to wait till he's about 3 months old to try it. It scared me to think about the time between now and then where I'd have a baby and a two year old at home while trying to pump. The nurse's response made me feel so much better. She said that obviously I wouldn't be able to pump for much longer after the baby is home. It just takes way too much time if I'm not nursing. If I was just nursing it would be a completely different story. She was so great and told me I could keep pumping if I wanted to try, but most of the moms who strictly pump have a hard time with it-emotionally and physically. That confirmed it for me. Last night I decided to stop with the pump all together. Carter isn't needing the milk right now so I'm storing everything I have pumped and will give it to him a little bit in bottles later. I feel great about this decision and I'm just so happy that we've gotten to the bottom of Carter's reflux issues. He's still taking Prevacid for it as well, but taking the milk out all together has made a night and day difference.

We're nearing the end of Carter's NICU journey! He hasn't had an incident since Sunday, but he did have an incident. That automatically bought him a week in the NICU so he's not coming home till at least Sunday. But it could also be a lot longer than that, depending on how the rest of the week goes. We're just so happy that he's making so much progress. His reflux issues are what's been making all the problems lately. We're so happy that we've gotten that figured out! Time to move on and get this baby home!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Infinite Power of Hope

As NICU parents, it's easy to feel like the whole world is crumbling around us and that time is standing completely still. That is something we have in common with any parent who has ever had a child in the NICU, whether for four days or four months. Sometimes hope is far from our minds. Tyson and I were grateful to be reminded to be hopeful from the very beginning of Carter's journey. The first Sunday we were in the hospital, we were privileged to have two members of the priesthood and two Relief Society sisters visit us. The brethren gave us the sacrament and the sisters presented a nice message. The message was based on a talk by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf from the October 2008 General Conference. One of the sisters handed this card to Tyson and had him read it aloud:

Hope in God, His goodness, and His power refreshes us with courage during difficult challenges.
Hope is one leg of a three-legged stool, together with faith and charity. Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness. Hope is a gift of the Spirit.
Hope in our Heavenly Father's merciful plan of happiness leads to peace, mercy, rejoicing and gladness.
Hope is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstance. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn.
It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Father.
Hope sustains us through despair.
To all who suffer--- to all who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely---I say with love and deep concern for you, never give in. Never surrender.
Never allow despair to overcome your spirit.
Embrace and rely upon the Hope of Israel, for the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow, and gladdens every heart.

Tyson read this as tears filled his eyes. It was a much-needed message for two parents who felt that all hope was lost, knowing our baby would be in the hospital for at least a month. And it would be the longest and the most trying time of our lives to date. This simple message of hope reminded us that, no matter how difficult the situation, we can rely on the Lord with faith and hope-with an understanding of His atoning love and sacrifice for us. The Lord knows how we feel and have felt. And He knows how all of us feel whenever we feel hopeless.

I hope this simple message will bring comfort to any who are in need of strength. It has helped me immensely. We are so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who watches over us and who has blessed us so much over the last month. We know he has watched over our sweet baby for us and has kept him safe in the NICU. We're grateful for eternal families and for temple work. What a wonderful blessing it is that we can all be with our families again for eternity. He loves us all and wants us to be happy. I hope we can all find peace and hope in our lives during trying times.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How Brycen's Doing

With everything going on with Carter, many have asked us how Brycen is doing. Thankfully he's at an age where he doesn't understand what's going on, let alone that he even has a brother. We do show him pictures of Carter though, and whenever we say, "Where's Carter?" Brycen points to one of the pictures and smiles. Mostly he points to my phone because my main screen is a picture of Carter. In the NICU, the minimum age for visitors is 14 years. Two times a week there are 15 minute sibling visits where the siblings of the babies get to come in and see their little brother or sister. However, the minimum age for the sibling visits is 3 years. They do this because kids younger than 3 aren't up to date on the shots necessary to go inside. But it's fine for us because Brycen doesn't understand what's going on anyway. The only thing that's been hard are the times where either Tyson or I leave to the hospital and Brycen sees us go. That doesn't happen very often though. Usually Tyson visits Carter right after work since he's right nearby, then comes home and we all have dinner, then I leave to the hospital after Brycen goes to bed so he doesn't see me. It works out pretty well. Hopefully we won't have to do this for very much longer!

When Brycen came home from Idaho both times over the last month we were so surprised to see how much he had changed. He started putting "t" at the end of words so he was saying a lot of "that" and words that sound similar. He says a lot of "Ohh! That!" He also started expressing when he wanted to get down from his high chair by saying "Get it out!" That makes us laugh every time. In general, he's starting to put a lot more words together and just saying a lot more all together. Other words include hot, ouch, cool, and Melmo (Elmo).

My parents came to town Friday night and we had a great weekend with them! Before they got here, I got the guestroom all ready for them and Brycen helped put the pillows on the bed. He put them on in a way that apparently looked comfortable to him because he propped himself up and decided to hang out there for a good 30 minutes:

He had been carrying that balloon all around the apartment since Tyson gave it to me when Carter was born. We ended up sending it to its grave that very day.
 I put "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" on my computer for him. He loved lounging on the guest bed to watch a show!

Later that day we made a batch of chocolate chip cookies. (You can find the recipe here! They're pretty much the best chocolate chip cook ever.) I like to bake with Brycen and explain different techniques to him as I go. He doesn't really get it, but I'm hoping that my kids will want to be in the kitchen more when they grow up and tell their friends how their mom taught them everything. :)
 I let Brycen put the chocolate chips in. He started out putting them in one at a time:

 This lasted for about 7 or 8 chocolate chips until he dumped them all in:
 Such a good little helper!

 We're cookie dough eaters at this house!

Monday, July 2, 2012

With Grateful Hearts

Tyson and I can't even express how much we appreciate all of the love and support pouring out from so many friends and family during the last month. This whole experience with Carter has been such a struggle, and the sweet words of love and support coming from so many of you have helped carry us through. We know that Carter won't be in the hospital permanently and that it's only a matter of time before he can join us at home. But in the meantime, it's still really hard for us and we wouldn't be able to do this without all of you and your kind words. I'm amazed at how much a simple message has been able to pick us up just a little bit more and carry us a little farther.

I also want to say thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable and share my honest feelings with you. My mind has weighed heavy with many thoughts about the last month and I am grateful that I could freely get those thoughts out and not be criticized for doing so. These days, there are so many people who seem to have an opinion about everything, including sharing emotions with the world. Some people view it as complaining or being unappreciative. I know there are so many of you who I love and adore who have had to overcome trials and struggles far worse than what I'm going through, including the loss of a child. I've even heard from some of these people over the last month. I am so grateful to those of you who I speak of for being so supportive of me even though this situation could be far worse for us like it was for you at one time. Thank you for giving so much of yourself so I can feel better about my own situation. What an amazing selfless act.

Carter is a month old today. He has officially spent his first month of life in the hospital and I ache inside thinking about it. His days of being a newborn are slowly slipping away from me and it hurts my heart to think that I might not be able to have those tender newborn moments in my home for very long. However, I can't express how grateful I am that our little Carter is healthy and doing well. Even though I feel like I've missed out on a lot of things, I'm excited to get him home and start on this adventure together as a family. Last night Carter was weighed and he is just barely under 6lb 2oz-Brycen's birth weight. He has already gained almost two pounds since birth and we're so proud of him for working up so much strength to get so big. Because he's gaining weight so well, that's just one less hurdle to jump over before he can go home. What a blessing! At this point he is still struggling with keeping his stats up, refluxing, and being able to eat without getting tired. But we're getting there. He's slowly but surely getting there.

Carter has his dad's dimples and my nose. Sure do love my boy. I caught the tail end of a grin and was able to capture those sweet dimples. As far as that hair color goes, the light in the room made it look a little red for this picture. It's actually a blondish brownish color, but depending on the light it sometimes looks a little red. His hair is so soft. I love holding him close and brushing my cheek against it.

Thank you again for all of your thoughtfulness and prayers. We feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people who care about us and have helped us get through this time. Your prayers are working because Carter gets better and better all the time. We love you all so much!