Adriana is now officially a big sister. Cara Alaina was born on October 21, 2003 via repeat c-section. She weighed 6 lbs., 12 ozs. and measured 20 inches. Everything went pretty smoothly, and I did not develop pre-eclampsia again. I was placed on bed rest the last few weeks of the pregnancy because my blood pressure was slightly up at one doctor's visit and my amniotic fluid measured low a couple of times. I wish I had not had to be on bed rest because I would like to have spent more time with Adriana before Cara came, but I was willing to do anything to keep another baby out of the NICU.
Doing anything this time meant twice weekly non-stress tests and weekly doctor visits sooner than normal. I would sometimes smile when the nurses would ask me why I was having the non-stress tests done. I would rattle off my list of various reasons, which included previous history of pre-eclampsia, advanced maternal age, possible intra-uterine growth restriction and low amniotic fluid. I basically told them, you name it--that is the reason I am here. All the non-stress tests came out fine even though we had to wake her a couple of times.
The birth was a very different experience from Adriana's birth. I elected to do a repeat c-section which my doctor was glad that I chose that route. This time the surgery seemed a little harder. I don't remember feeling the pulling and tugging as much, but I think last time I was so stressed that I didn't notice it. After Adriana's birth, I was pretty much out of it as they tried to get my blood pressure down. I stayed in recovery for about eight hours as they watched me. They eventually moved me to a labor and delivery room because I was the only person in recovery. My blood pressure didn't go down until the next day. This time, I had to be at the hospital at 5 a.m. and the surgery started a little after 8 a.m., just like they said. With Adriana, I was taken to the surgery area around 9 a.m. and the surgery was not performed until around 1 p.m. because they were trying to decide what to do so they could monitor my blood pressure.
Right after Cara's birth and while I was in recovery, a nurse who grew up with Bruce came to recovery and told me that Cara was doing okay but she was doing a lot of grunting. At first, I was like, okay, so she's grunting. I was not trying to be flippant about it, but preemies grunt a lot because their nervous systems are not fully developed, so I didn't think much about it at first with a full-term baby. I quickly realized I needed to be concerned about it and I asked Lori if she was going to be okay. She said she would be, but they would be monitoring her closely. She said this happened sometimes with c-section births because the babies do not have the opportunity to clean out their lungs by moving down the birth canal. I wanted to tell them to get me out of recovery and let me have her so I could "kangaroo" her. Kangaroo care is a method that is used in many NICUs where parents are allowed to give their babies skin-to-skin contact by placing the babies on their chests. Studies have shown this helps babies to breathe better, maintain their body temperatures and other aspects.
After Cara spent some time in the nursery, she was brought to my room. We had Adriana there from the beginning, because we wanted her to be a part of the whole experience. I know one day she may not remember that time, but I want to be able to tell her that she was there. Adriana is a good big sister. We were concerned that she would be jealous because of all the attention she has received over the last two years. Along with being premature, and our only child, she is the only granddaughter on Bruce's side; so to say she is a little spoiled is an understatement.
Adriana was really sweet at the hospital. She was very excited about having a baby sister. Whenever anyone other than Bruce or I were near Cara, she would start saying, "No, no" and sometimes she would start crying. The first day, the nurses would take Cara back and forth to the nursery to check her breathing. I think Adriana thought all these people were going to take Cara away from her. I tried to explain to her on several occasions that they wanted to see Cara just like she did. Sometimes she acted like she understood, but other times she would still get upset. She loves her sister, and loves to hold her.
One of the best moments of this time in the hospital was being able to take my baby home with me. I did not realize how empty my arms felt that first time when I left the hospital without my baby. This time, my arms and heart were full.
Someone told us that Adriana would seem like a five year old when we had Cara. I cannot believe how true that statement is. Cara seems so small and helpless compared to Adriana now. Adriana was so tiny and very helpless, always strapped to the apnea monitor. I have often said after going through tough times, that God gives you the grace and strength to get through those times and the ability not to realize how tough they are at the time. I think that is why we often look back and think, how did I do that? God gives us strength that we do not realize we have and helps us through. I know that is what happened for us. I remember the sleepless nights and the constant care of making sure she had her medicine three times a day, the people that were in and out of our house the first couple of months and all the other factors of having a preemie.
Now, Adriana is doing so well, and her early interventionist told me that cognitively she has caught up with her peers. She is so observant that it is scary. She repeats a lot of what we say and do. She amazes me everyday with her abilities.
Her physical therapist is still coming every week and her early interventionist is coming every other week. We took a six week break right before Cara was born. For me, that was kind of a hard decision to make to take that break. I wanted Adriana to be able to get her therapy and help, but I knew we needed some down time as a family, and I needed a little bit of a break. She is doing so well now, I do not think the break hurt her.
Adriana is now two and a half years old, which means we are starting the transition process from our state's early intervention program to the public school system. We need to decide in the next few months whether we want Adriana to start school in the fall or wait. Her therapies will also become the responsibility of the school system. One good thing about this is Adriana's therapist also contracts with our local school system, so she would be working with Adriana still if she continues to need therapy.
Our debate is do we start her in the fall at half days every day of the week in the local Montessori program, or do we wait. I think starting her in the fall would be good because she loves interacting with other children, and I think if she does need any catching up, this will help. On the other hand, I think she is going to be in school so much over the next 12 plus years, that maybe she needs another year to be just a kid. Having to make these decisions is so difficult, because I feel as if whatever decision we make as the potential to be detrimental to her. Adriana's early interventionist just went through this with her own daughter, and she said once she made the decision, she felt so much better. She said just making the decision was stressful, but once it was made, she was okay. We do plan on visiting the program before we make a final decision.
Adriana reached another milestone a couple of weeks ago. She pooped and pee-peed in the potty! I never thought I would be so excited about this, but I am. From what I have read on her Babies Born message board, she seems to be right on target with this. She has not done it anymore, but I think she will be pretty quick to potty-train. I am glad she is up to date with her peers in this area.
Don't point it out to her, but we have Adriana down to one bottle a day. She is doing so much better with eating, and we have her down to only her nighttime bottle. We had her down to two bottles a day before Cara was born, but she reverted while I was in the hospital. Her doctor has not been over concerned that she was still on the bottle, but she did give us some tips for breaking her from it. We have been trying those and now she is finally down to the one. I hope we can have her off of the nighttime one before her three-year check up.
I was trying to think of how to end this entry, when I thought about something Bruce said earlier. He said to let everyone know that sometimes we do not know who is in charge at our house, Adriana or us. Sounds like a typical toddler, huh?