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Vonda's Parenting a Preemie Journal

Entry #3 - April 30, 2002
~ Passing Ourselves Coming and Going

AdrianaThis month has been a whirlwind month for us! I think on more than one occasion we have passed ourselves on the road as we have been driving from one place to the next. I know most families with children probably feel the same way, but we have added appointments that have kept us busy. The good news is we are starting to see a lighter load from the endless shots.

We have reached three different milestones this month. The first was when Adriana was taken off her apnea monitor. The day after Easter, someone from her pediatrician's office called to say that the last download from her monitor looked good and her doctor said to take her off it permanently. For the first time in my daughter's life, she would not be hooked up to some type of machine.

We had been looking forward to that day, but when it finally came we were scared to death. She had not had a true apnea episode in about three or four months, but something about having that reassurance helped us to sleep at night. We decided to leave her on it for one more night because we did not sleep well the night before because of a flooded basement. We knew we probably would not sleep well with her off the monitor.

We actually slept better than I thought we would. I almost felt guilty for not keeping a vigil by her side. The next day, I watched her like a hawk. I remember at one point, I think I didn't see her breathe for about three seconds. Now, three seconds may not seem like a long time, but when your main concern for months has been if your child is breathing or not, three seconds can seem like forever. In that time, I prayed a quick silent prayer that she would start to breathe again. I also prayed that I would remember everything that I learned in the infant CPR class. I didn't need it, because I soon saw her little chest moving again. But, my prayer each night since then has been that when I wake up I will find that Adriana is still breathing. Once a sound sleeper, I do find myself waking in the middle of the night just to check her.

We have also had to reprogram ourselves not to leave the room for too long of a time without checking on her. When she had the monitor, we knew if she were in trouble, the monitor would alarm us to check on her. Before becoming unattached to the monitor, we didn't take her from room to room much because we had to pick her up, the monitor, etc. Now, we can pick her up and place her in our arms like any other child.

Our next major milestone was her last RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) shot. RSV is a virus that causes a cold in most children and adults. If a preemie or a baby with lung problems gets RSV, that baby can end up in the hospital on a ventilator, or worse, can die. The RSV vaccine started being administered about two years ago. The vaccine only lasts for 28 days, and the shots are given for several months during RSV season.

The season for our area lasts usually from October until March. We were told at the beginning that her last shot would be in March. When we took her for her shot in March, we were excited that this would be her last one. Evidently, the RSV cases ran rampant this year around here. We were told at her March shot that we had to come back in April for one more shot.

Even though we know these shots are good for her because of how devastating the virus can be, this did not thrill us. At her March shot, she started crying as soon as Bruce handed her to the nurse. She didn't stop until he walked through the door with her. And when she cries about a shot, the process has about three steps. First, she starts with a whimper and then an all-out cry when the nurse wipes the area with the alcohol. When the shot goes in, she gives one of these gut-wrenching cries that makes me want to sweep her in my arms and hold her forever.

This time the shot was the last for this season. She may have to go back next season for the round of shots, because the recommendation is for the children to get them up until age two. Her doctor did say she might not have to have them next year because she has done so well this year.

AdrianaThe third milestone was the release from house arrest. One of the first things her doctor told us on her first well baby visit was that she did not need to be around many people during the winter months. So, I didn't go back to work and I stayed home with her. Bruce asked me after being home for a couple of weeks how I liked being a stay-at-home mom. I told him that I didn't know because these were not the typical stay-at-home circumstances. I couldn't go anywhere unless he was with me for two reasons, someone needed to watch the monitor and I needed someone to stay in the car with her while I went in the store. We were kind of like Clark Kent and Superman during that time, no one ever saw us together.

The doctor told us at her last well-baby visit that we were close enough to the end of the cold and flu season that we could take her out. She said we still needed to make sure that people wash their hands before handling her. Of course, one of the first places we went after we received the doctor's blessing someone touched her without asking permission. A waitress at the restaurant where we were eating came up and started touching her and then she kissed her hand. And, this was her thumb-sucking hand! I quickly took out the wipes and started cleaning her hands when the waitress walked off. I am sure I have touched plenty of babies without asking, and I know most people would be offended if someone did not notice their child, but from now on I will always ask before I touch a baby.

Another special time after coming out of seclusion was being able to go to church together as a family. I have been a Christian most of my life, and I was raised in the church. Bruce has a similar background to mine and he is also a pastor, so church is very important to both of us. He has been eager to take her to church so his congregation could see her. Our first church outing actually took place at his brother's church on my birthday. Bruce's nephew was being confirmed in the Episcopal Church, and we went to support him. We were able to sit together as a family during the service. Almost ten months ago, I was afraid that she was not going to survive. I found myself very overcome with emotion at one point in the service. One of the praise and worship songs we were singing is called "Shout to the Lord." One verse of the song says, "I sing for joy at the work of your hands," and I looked down at her while I was singing that. I started thinking about all we had been through as a family and how good God had been to us. I thought about 10 months ago, I didn't know if I would see my 35th (yikes!) birthday, much less be sitting in a church with my beautiful daughter and wonderful husband. God has indeed been good.

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